Friday, May 30, 2003

Trivia, disgusting and otherwise

You dear reader, may be forgiven for thinking that the Belmont Club is out to lunch -- permanently. While that might be figuratively true, in reality Wretchard eats mostly out of a brown bag, augmented by the bounty of whatever softdrink machine happens to be within three quarters of a mile. On really good days, a working candy machine may be discovered within tactical range. Experience with both devices has instilled a number of useful survival skills, notably how to spring a softdrink can that is stuck in the chute or how to edge a candy bar that has stopped just short of ledge. That is where the phrase "so near yet so far" comes from. Especially if you don't like losing your money. A liberal application of the boot is often enough, though sometimes one is forced to resort to tactics like tipping the candy machine over at a thirty degree angle. Tricky business that. One degree too little and the damnable Snickers bar stays caught in the toils. One degree too far and a 700 pound vending machine crashes to the ground. If that happens, a rapid egress is indicated before you can be billed for the damage.

But a guy called Mike Dust actually eats lunch off a plate (or at least a bowl) every day of the year. Check out his weird site at It may be of consuming interest for you to know that on August 30, 2002, said Mike Dust was having BBQ Pork Fried Rice at a joint called Le Bambou, about the time I was chasing a sandwich truck that pulled out about 5 seconds after I got out the door, on the day of all days when I forgot to pack my brown bag. And, as befitted my status as itinerant tinker, I had no recourse to an executive dining room where I could sample the choicest fruits of earth and sea to the accompaniment of a chilled semillon.

Mike, as you will see, goes through food phases. He eats Vietnamese for days on end whenever he is not frequenting the local greasepit. Yet it cannot be denied that his comestibles are a cut above Wretchard's. But he doesn't have the Belmont Club.


One of the first things you learn on the Internet is that only morons get their news from BBC or CNN. You're far better off looking for what you need at News at Google, although you have to be aware of its fundamental limitations. One of them is that Google, under a deal with the Chinese Government, has excluded certain sites from being indexed. They exist on the Net, but not if you ask Google. With that caveat, you can Google away. But if you know what you are looking for and are a polyglot, the Paperboy is an invaluable resource. It's a portal into every online newspaper in the world. Be advised, however, that there are 2,540 online newspapers in the United States alone. So, if  you want small town news from places which major media outlets don't even admit exist the Paperboy is for you. Otherwise,  Newstrove will have to do. It is nominally organized, but within its individual rooms, a great deal of lumber may be discovered, where an examination of events in Banaue may led to the home page of a writer from Davao, with one hell of a hoot of a home page. Click on the link. The .gif with the tapping foot is worth the trip in itself.

Moros attack during their own truce

Yesterday, the Belmont Club predicted that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front would "keep on negotiating even while they keep burning towns and setting off bombs". If you are reading this, don't even bother to click on the link to the prediction, it  is only a couple of posts down. And today, with the electrons of the post still settling onto the page, it comes true:

"COTABATO CITY-A day after raising hopes for peace in Mindanao with its declaration of a unilateral 10-day ceasefire starting next week, the Muslim separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front killed at least five civilians Thursday in an attack on two army detachments in North Cotabato province, the military said.

The Moro Islamists acknowledged the attack and pleaded the lamest of excuses "MILF spokesperson Eid Kabalu acknowledged MILF rebels launched the attack, but he said the MILF field commanders had not yet been informed about the ceasefire." Anyway, it didn't matter because the dead civilians deserved it. "If there were houses burned, that's because they are situated beside the detachment and are owned by soldiers or (militiamen)," he said.

The Belmont Club also predicted that negotiations would continue, no matter how many houses the Moro Islamists burned, no matter how many civilians they butchered, no matter what and however often. The reason? The Armed Forces of the Philippines has no victory option to offer and the peace lobby is like a broken food vending machine which keeps dispensing snacks (especially pancit) onto the negotiation table, whether or not coins are deposited; whether or not the machine is kicked, shot at, sledgehammered or burned, however covered the table is with gore. The wolf is in the sheepfold, and the shepherd his waiter.

Thursday, May 29, 2003


Although regarded as an American patriot, he was born in London, England, but grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, where his father, a stonemason, had emigrated. As a young man, he worked as a newspaper reporter, and later, as a prizefighter. He hung up the gloves when he "was not only being carried out of the ring, but into the ring", in favor of the seemingly brighter career as a vaudeville dancer earning $8 a night.

He discovered a talent for cracking jokes, which he parlayed into a career as a comic, a talent which he put to use by entertaining the soldiers of his adoptive country during World War 2, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm, bringing laughter even into the valley of death.

In 1997, the United States Congress made him the only ever "Honorary Veteran" for his services to the nation. The United States Navy named an entire class of 60,000 ton TAKR vessels after him, fifteen ships altogether. Not to be outdone, the country of his birth invested him as Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order Of The British Empire (KBE). And when finally he could no longer walk the stage, he recorded telephone greeting messages for hospitals whose work he wished to support. Asked who might like to live to be a hundred, he replied, "anyone who is 99". He turns a century today, March 29th, 2003.

Happy Birthday, Bob Hope.

The Fig Leaf Mission

France and the UN have now covered themselves, if not in glory, then at least, with the pretense of righteous engagement. The Security Council is on the verge of authorizing the dispatch of a peacekeeping force to the Congo, where 5,000 people have been dying each week in widespread anarchy. The French Blue Helmets are coming, but if you read the fine print, only as far as the news cameras can reach. Here are the money paragraphs:

France will lead the battalion, which is expected to have about 1,000 troops from a number of countries in Europe as well as Pakistan, South Africa and Nigeria.

The force would be deployed only until September, when 1,500 Bangladesh-led troops are expected to be deployed to Bunia and the surrounding Ituri region as part of a the U.N. peacekeeping force for Congo.

The French-led troops will work with the 750 U.N. peacekeepers from Uruguay already in Bunia to bring stability and protect the airport, refugees, and the people in town "if the situation requires it."

This force, consisting as it does of a motley which would do the Tower of Babel proud and whose mission is circumscribed to defending a narrow circle around the key installations of Bunia, will in no wise stop the death which will continue beyond the circle of camera lights. And the UN knows it. Carolyn McAskie, the U.N. deputy emergency relief coordinator, who just returned from Bunia, said:

"The real story is nobody knows what's happening in the rest of Ituri, which is hard to access. The district has a population of between 3 million and 4 million."

And the UN doesn't care, does it. It doesn't care.

Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum

Anyone who desires to establish peace in the Philippine southern island of Mindanao is caught on the horns of a genuine dilemma. On the one hand, the Armed Forces of the Philippines does not possess a victory option against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. On the other hand, the pacifist lobby does not possess a peace option either. No negotiated settlement between the Philippine government and the Islamists is possible. Every ceasefire is bound to fail within a few months, once the Islamists have consolidated their tactical gains and are ready to move on to the next phase.

In a word, the war is unwinnable and yet peace is unattainable. Is there any escape from this hell?

The way out of this dilemma is to understand its underlying mechanics. The peace option does not exist because the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front does not want it. Ever. Hashim Salamat does not want to make friends with the members of the peace movement: he wants them dead or enslaved. But the victory option, on the other hand, is absent simply because the Philippine Republic has been too lazy or indecisive to prepare for it. The first horn of the dilemma arises from circumstances that the Republic cannot control. The second horn of the dilemma is entirely of its own making.

A moment's thought will reveal that the peace option does not exist because the victory option doesn't. Paradoxically, the peace option will spring into existence at the very moment the victory option becomes possible. Why, after all, should the Moro Islamic Liberation Front negotiate a peace when they do not dread defeat?  Therefore, it is entirely in the interests of the Moro Islamists to keep on negotiating even while they keep burning towns and setting off bombs. Explosives courtesy of Osama Bin Laden and pancit courtesy of Archbishop Quevedo; fireworks and refreshments. Sweet.

If the key to peace lies in the creation of a victory capability, the key to achieving it is the reform of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. In future blogs, the Belmont Club will examine the steps to make this possible.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

News Roundup

The FBI Debating Union

This is not exactly the kind of anti-terrorism counteroffensive predicted, but it has certain elements which were anticipated. The first is that America is challenging the terror network at its root: where the money and motivation comes from; on its physical and spiritual homeground. This story describes how the FBI is conducting a kind of metaphysical debate with terror in Saudi mosques. This is something sophisticated Europe has never done and indeed, can never conceive. But ... but ... how can this be? Everyone knows the Americans are hicks. Hicks that can go to the moon, develop a working theory of teleportation, discover the Big Bang. But they must be hicks. They don't have the proper Marxist education.

Manila Folders

Across the Pacific, the price of three dozen civilian lives has been set at less than two weeks. The Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front will kiss and make up before grass has had a chance to grow on the graves of civilians killed in a rampage by Islamists in the town of Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.

COTABATO CITY-Twelve days into a military counteroffensive ordered by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Muslim separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) on Wednesday declared a 10-day unilateral ceasefire starting June 2 to pave the way for the resumption of peace talks in war-torn Mindanao.

MILF spokesperson Eid Kabalu said the guerrillas would halt their attacks on Monday and give the military 10 days to pull out from their strongholds. The 12,000-strong rebel group also demanded the dropping of murder charges against MILF leaders accused of ordering recent bomb attacks.

Naturally, the peace lobby is estatic.

"Great news ... the CBCP is hoping the government would reciprocate," CBCP president and Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, OMI, told the Inquirer in a phone interview. "The return to their homes of more than 200,000 evacuees becomes more probable."

As this blog has often pointed out, the Armed Forces of the Philippines do not possess a victory option against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. But the peace option so beloved by Archbishop Quevedo does not exist either. Therefore the "peace negotiations" which will shortly be recommenced will fail in a welter of blood and gore just as soon as the Moro Islamics have restocked and redeployed again. Bookmark this blog. Count on it.

Although legal considerations never counted for much in the Philippines, one wonders how mass murderers can routinely be forgiven for their depredations. Don't the victims of Siocon have certain rights? Are the lives of the dead worthless. The answer, apparently is yes. In my debates with the Left, I have often pointed out that it was easy to prove the existence of the Devil by simply pointing out the existence of the Party; and that the existence of the Devil necessarily implied the existence of God, inasmuch as not everyone believed in the Party. Hell exists, and there is a special place in it for the abettors of the killing of children. We are watching people vie for that place.

The Arena

Phil Carter is predicting that Al Qaeda will attempt a major attack against American targets in Iraq, "because terrorism is theater"  and because the media are in Baghdad. That, in it's way is good news. Carter has noticed, along with other denizens of the blogosphere, that the objectives of a major Al Qaeda attack have been downgraded from September 11, 2001 from a threat to revert the planet to the 8th century to a simple assertion of its continued existence. Al Qaeda is still dangerous in the same way as a wounded predator in its death throes. It roars no longer to terrify it's pray, but as a pathetic attempt to deter the hunter from dealing out the coup de grace.

Carter is the best, and all I'd like to do is fill in on a few points he may have overlooked: Al Qaeda isn't the only one readying a punch. The United States' war on terrorism is in one of those deceptively quiet phases in which the fruits of intelligence gleaned from the recent victory in Iraq are being used to prepare for a new offensive. The apparent lack of tactical exploitation arising from the capture of Iraqi  intelligence officers raises the possibility that America going for the big kahuna. It is preparating a major operation of its own. Considering the history and style of American tradecraft, they are likely to target the remaining sources of Al Qaeda funding  and its surviving operational center -- but with a twist.

The best method for destroying a terrorist organization isn't to execute its cadres and burn their safehouses, but to take it over from within. To keep it ticking over, but only just; and to start its long, slow slide into oblivion. Hundreds and thousands of Red Cells, terror brigades and units of death were created in the 1970s and 80s, but only a handful survive today, and many are just names.


One of the Red Cells of the late 1960s was the Communist Party of the Philippines. It's last hope for military victory probably ended in 1980 and it has only managed to maintain itself on the margins since. It would not be surprising if, half a century hence, historians were to learn that Communist Party leader Jose Maria Sison and his coterie have been secretly maintained in position by the Directorate of Operations of US Central Intelligence, who saw in the continued leadership of a guaranteed loser an infallible way to ensure that the Philippines would never become a Communist country. Cool, ain't it?

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Groundhog Day

This blog predicted that the offensive of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front would falter as it ran out of munitions and money and wore out the few mobile troops it has at it's disposal -- long before it could inflict fatal damage to the enemy. That moment, regrettably, may have come sooner than expected if reports that Philippine Foreign Secretary Blas Ople is preparing to reopen negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Teheran are true. Catholic Archbishop Orlando Quevedo, Deputy Speaker Gerry Salapuddin, among others, believe that a negotiated peace is now possible.

Of course, it is not.

The demands of the  Moro Islamic Liberation Front are fundamentally inconsistent with the continued exercise of sovereignty by the Philippine Republic over Mindanao. Even if the entire island of Mindanao and all its inhabitants were ceded to the them, it would only momentarily sate their desire to eventually destroy what they view as an anomalous Christian enclave in the Malay barrier. Whatever assurances Bishop Quevedo may have received are temporary. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front will not cease from strife until Bishop Quevedo's entire flock is converted to Islam and its churches rebuilt as mosques and the Bishop submits himself as a dhimmi. This is the program of jihad, and it is on the first page of the Moro Islamic playbook.

The new "peace negotiations" may abate hostilities for a few months at most. Even while negotiations are under way, there will be no slackening in Moro attacks on selected Philippine military targets. But they will drag on, indistinguishable from the last, as they have always done, until some new town in burnt, or some school full of children is destroyed or the pupils taken captive to be turned into Islamic child soldiers. Perhaps a crowded building in Manila will be blown up. Then the Armed Forces of the Philippines will betake itself again to stagger around the hills for a few days in a parody of decisive war, until negotiations to nowhere are restarted once more, at the same function room, with the same caterer, with yet the same curtains behind the podium, and only the waiter the wiser.

Bookmark this blog, as it will be quoted by myself, with regret, within a few months.

Both the Philippine peace lobby and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are guilty of the worst of all possible crimes: the institutionalization of war without end; suffering without limit, unalleviated even by the prospect of an eventual day of victory. Death with peace sauce. "We did it for Jesus!" Say rather you did it in the name of moral cowardice, foolishness and corruption and you will have reduced your sins by the omission of a lie.

Saturday, May 24, 2003

Nothing is decreed by fate

Philippine Commentary has been encouraging support for the Books for the Barrios program, which is a systematic effort largely by Filipino-Americans, to improve the quality of education in the Philippines.  The Spectator pointed to research by Ulster-based academic Richard Lynn showing a strong correlation between Intelligence Quotients (IQ) and economic development.

"right at the bottom of the heap are the impoverished sub-Saharan countries with average IQs of about 60 or 70 (15 or more points lower than the average for blacks in Western countries). Then come the slightly richer but still poor north African and Arab countries, with average IQs of about 80 or 90. Next are the European countries, the West in general, with Britain standing quite high up in that bunch (102). Finally, and predictably, come the top IQ countries: the high-tech or high-growth Asian countries: Japan, Korea, China."

In order to achieve national progress, building minds is often more important than building roads. But concrete and steel can be indisputably poured. Can minds be developed so easily? The factors underlying intelligence are far from understood. The American Psychological Association says some people are more intelligent than others, but we still don't know why.

Some comfort may be derived from the Flynn Effect, the observation by New Zealand academic James R. Flynn that IQs have been rising over time despite a relatively stable genetic pool. While we don't understand exactly why, something is happening which is truly,  not spuriously increasing the cognitive ability of people all over the world -- at least those who do not live dysfunctional societies.

Flynn now believes that changes in the environment which encourage learning, which challenge thinking and which provide a positive peer feedback for learning help increase intelligence. The greatest contribution of programs like Books for the Barrios is to make being smart cool again. Jose Rizal knew 22 languages. Heber Bartolome only wanted to learn one.

Mayrong isang aso, daig pa ang ulol
Siya'y ngumingiyaw, hindi tumatahol
Katulad ng iba, painglis-inglis pa
Na kung pakikinggan, mali-mali naman
Wag na lang.

(Translation by Wretchard)

There was a stupid dog, who did not know his place.
It mewled just like a cat, oblivious of it's race.
Like some I know, who leak English from their face,
all their pretensions just leave them in disgrace.
Leave me where I am.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Pygmies beg UN for aid to save them from Congo cannibals

A planet is depicted on the United Nations flag. But what planet? The planet Mongo, ruled by the evil Emperor Ming, the Master of the Universe, who is sucking out the atmosphere from earth using mysterious blue rays. No? It might as well be. Read this lead story from the staid Times of London:

Pygmy leaders have called on the UN to set up an international tribunal to put government and rebel fighters from the Democratic Republic of Congo on trial for acts of cannibalism against their people.

Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, told the UN’s Indigenous People’s Forum that during the four-year civil war his people had been hunted down and eaten.

“In living memory, we have seen cruelty, massacres, and genocide, but we have never seen human beings hunted down as though they were game animals,” he said.

“Pygmies are being pursued in the forests. People have been eaten. This is nothing more, nothing less, than a crime against humanity.”

In the meantime, "about 750, mostly Uruguayan, UN peacekeepers are stationed there, but they do not have the authority to use lethal force."  And the solution? Hold on to your shorts: the UN Indigenous People's Forum is asking the to "UN Security Council to recognize cannibalism as a crime against humanity and an act of genocide."

That's right. If the cannibals don't stop they'll be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court, in Belgium. Since the Belgian Army has an average age of 40 and employs hundreds of hairdressers, despite a shortage of equipment, the world will may soon be regaled by the sight of platoons of middle-aged hairdressers attempting to serve subpoenas on cannibals in the Congo for the crime of eating pygmies. Ain't the UN wonderful?

I think I'd better go back to the Planet Mongo with Flash Gordon to save Dale Arden from the clutches of Ming the Merciless, Master of the Universe. It's more normal there.

Tears of the Sun

The discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of a cannibal feast has underscored the total failure of the United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Aid workers have reported finding the bodies of more than 200 people killed on the streets of the provincial capital Bunia, including women and children, some decapitated and others with hearts, livers and lungs missing.

One British source cited by the Independent has described UN peacekeeping efforts as "shambolic", pointing out that the 700-strong force in Bunia, Congo is itself in danger of being overrun. The French have predicted a gloomy fate for their own relief force.

"A team of French officers is in the remote region to assess the mission but the Defence Ministry in Paris has already said that the deployment of French forces would be "very complex", requiring hundreds of flights by heavy cargo planes. The dangers of intervention can scarcely be exaggerated in a country where it is estimated that at least two million people, perhaps twice as many, have been killed since the former Mobutu regime began losing its grip in the mid-1990s."

Two million dead is thirty Hiroshimas -- all under the nose of the UN: without anyone noticing, without any peace marchers. But since UN staff are now at risk, the global headquarters has asked the British for help.

This blog noted earlier that any relief effort would be at the extreme limit of the logistical capabilities of the European powers, who have slender airlift resources. The French cannot deploy any reliable air support over Bunia, more than 800 miles from the coast. Although a European force could still probably extricate the Uruguayans from their encirclement, the prospects of saving even a small fraction of the desperate refugee stream would be slim. The medical personnel attending the refugees might also refuse to leave, recreating in real life the fictional scenario depicted in a recent Hollywood movie.

The British Army is now being asked to rescue the UN from yet another debacle, on the shortest of notices, with only rudimentary planning and on the most meager of resources. One of the reasons the UN is so keen on getting the British on the ground is the knowledge that, if things go wrong, the UK has the ability to pick up the phone and summon the ultimate cavalry: the Deployment Readiness Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, which is held at Pope AFB on 18 hour alert. Who said the French lacked cunning?


"All is lost"


"All you can eat"


"All American"

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Waiting for Mr. Legitimacy

US Marines in Iraq used to poke enemy corpses in the eye with muzzles of their rifles to determine if they were playing dead or not. It never failed. But if you have the will to play dead while cannibals cut off your limbs, lodge a machete in your skull while they walk off to loot the corpses of your friends, so that you can crawl off into the bushes when your attackers turn their backs -- then you're not only tougher than the feyadeen, you are tough enough to survive in Africa. As tough as Nema Naziri.

With up to 5,000 people dying per week in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations is considering dispatching more useless peacekeepers to broker yet another ceasefire. Last week, two UN peacekeepers were killed by cannibals after brokering a ceasefire. Some 500 Uruguayan armed peacekeepers in the town of Bunia were surrounded in their fortified compound by tens of thousands of civilians fleeing the brutal gangs. Those peacekeepers are now besieged by hostiles, and there are fears in New York for their safety. Even the left-wing former British Cabinet member Clare Short now admits that the UN has been "partial, weak and muddled" in the Congo. After failing to organize a Continental relief force, the UN is finally asking for real soldiers -- British soldiers -- to help them out of yet another debacle. The UK Telegraph reports that:

The Government is considering a request by the United Nations to send British troops to join an emergency peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Downing Street said that a request had been received from the UN but that officials needed more information about the proposed force before any decision to commit British personnel.

... A French military team is set to assess the feasibility of deploying a force to the region.

Feasibility. Therein lies the problem. Bunia is almost exactly in the center of Africa: 800 miles from the nearest shore. It is on the northeast bank of the vast Lake Albert, with a small airfield used to supply the Uruguayan UN personnel. The airfield of Bunia was considered for use in the rescue of European hostages in Stanleyville crisis of 1964. But the Belgian Paratroopers in that operation used 12 USAF C-130s (That successful operation was actually planned by USCINCEUR). A similar type of operation may now be attempted. The Europeans now have their own C-130 assets but the Congolese may have anti-aircraft capability, a threat which did not exist in 1964. Neither the French nor the British have long-range aerial assets to suppress ground fire, a task ideally suited to AC-130 gunships, all of which belong to the United States.  Nor do the Europeans have the reserve margin of medium-lift aircraft necessary to ride to the rescue in case the extraction goes bad. Only the US has the force necessary to make success certain.

And if the sole objective of any British deployment is merely to rescue the trapped Uruguayans, what becomes of the many tens of thousands of Africans facing armed cannibals? Never fear, the UN will dust their hands of the whole affair,  and express regret that the only power on earth which could have prevented the looming massacre chose not to act. The Europeans, Canadians and New Zealand governments which have cut their defense establishments to the degree that they now resemble toy soldiery, never bear any responsibility.

The times, they are a-changing

News was made at a commencement speech, not at Harvard, but at a small town in Rockford, Illinois, in a sort of man-bites-dog story:

ROCKFORD — New York Times reporter Chris Hedges was booed off the stage Saturday at Rockford College’s graduation because he gave an antiwar speech.

... Hedges began his abbreviated 18-minute speech comparing United States’ policy in Iraq to piranhas and a tyranny over the weak. His microphone was unplugged within three minutes.

Voices of protest and the sound of foghorns grew.

Some graduates and audience members turned their backs to the speaker in silent protest. Others rushed up the aisle to vocally protest the remarks, and one student tossed his cap and gown to the stage before leaving.

It made the national news. Hedges was quoted on Fox News saying that:

"he had given similar talks at several other colleges on his book, but had never had such a response.

"I was surprised at how vociferous it was and the fact that people climbed onto the podium," Hedges said.

Elinor Radlund, who attended the ceremony, said a woman beside her began singing "God Bless America" while a man rushed down the aisle shouting, "Go home!"

Even the Chicago Sun-Times carried it, in a descriptive paragraph that spoke volumes:

A New York Times reporter cut short a keynote address to graduates at Rockford College over the weekend after audience members shouted down his comments about the war in Iraq. Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of a recent book that describes war as an addiction, was booed Saturday at the small, private, liberal arts school 80 miles northwest of Chicago. After protesters rushed the stage and twice cut power to the microphone, Hedges cut his speech short. Many audience members turned their backs on Hedges while others booed and shouted, said college President Paul Pribbenow, who at one point pleaded to let the speech continue. Hedges said he had given similar talks at several other colleges on his book, but had never had such a response.

Chris Hedges is 42, and may have no memory of an adage that everyone who lived through the 1960s remembers: 'You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.'

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Cannibals Versus the United Nations

On May 18, 2003 Belmont Club followed the fate of UN peacekeepers missing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They went missing after the UN claimed it had negotiated a "successful" ceasefire. The UN pleaded for Congolese churchmen to find the missing observers. They've been found  among a pile of corpses who have been partially eaten:

Among the dead are two U.N. military observers, one Jordanian, the other Nigerian.

Their bodies were discovered Sunday in Mongbwalu, a gold mining center about 40 miles northwest of Bunia, where they had been "savagely killed," said Hamadoun Toure, spokesman for the U.N. mission in Congo.

The two officers, both of whom were unarmed, were last heard from on May 13, when they described to their colleagues a tense situation in Mongbwalu, with rival Hema and Lendu fighters preparing to battle for control of the town, U.N. officials say.

Since losing contact, the United Nations tried three times to send search and rescue teams into Mongbwalu, but failed when Hema and Lendu factions said they could not guarantee the safety of U.N. personnel.

By Sunday, a team was able to enter the town by helicopter and exhumed the remains of the observers, which were taken to Bunia.

The U.N. plans to investigate the killings, Toure said.

More on the cannibalism:

Church leaders and residents in Bunia, the capital of the Ituri district, said Monday that Lendu tribal fighters killed civilians and combatants, cutting open their chests and ripping out hearts, livers and lungs, which they ate while they were still warm.

... "The sight of a corpse with a missing liver and heart is horrific, especially when you know that those parts were eaten by fellow human beings and that the same could happen to you," said Acquitte Kisembo, a 28-year-old medical student.

He said he saw several bodies with missing parts.

The United Nations is taking the allegations seriously and plans to investigate the reports of cannibalism, said Amos Namanga Ngongi, head of the U.N. mission in Congo.

The reports "cannot be so persistent and false," he told reporters in Bunia. "There cannot be so much talk of such things if it is false."

The UN should avoid profiling people with alternative dietary habits. Cannibal-Americans should not be discriminated against.

Some 700 unarmed UN observers remain in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The armed Uruguayan UN peacekeepers are unable to leave their entrenchments for fear of their lives. In the meantime, the European Union defense ministers said their forces were ready to maintain peace in the Congo, but said "the lack of hardware could make it hard to send and protect the troops". Several weeks ago, a number of Canadian peacekeepers sent to Afghanistan were prohibited by Ottawa from carrying weapons. Their mission was to protect the Afghan tribal council who were planning a meeting.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Mystery in the desert

The crisis over 32 European tourists being held hostage by Algerian terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda began with disappointment for the Europeans:

"...  the Algerian government said it was not negotiating with the kidnappers, prompting the German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, to fly to the country to inquire personally about the fate of the group."

and ended in freedom for 17 hostages and triumph for the Algerians.

"The hostages were freed Tuesday in a gun battle that killed nine captors, Algerian newspapers reported. The clash lasted several hours, with soldiers trading gunfire with about 10 hostage-takers armed with assault rifles in the desert about 2,000 kilometres south of Algiers, the Arab-language daily El Watan reported, citing a security official.

The report said the army found two groups of captives, using reconnaissance planes equipped with thermal vision gear."

Unsurprisingly, this was bad news in Europe.

Die Welt wrote, "There is no reason for joy, because the fate of the other 15 hostages, including 10 Germans, is uncertain and the circumstances of the release remain unclear." The Swiss paper Tribune de Genève said the events "caused more consternation than relief." Many reports drew from the Algerian daily El Watan (via Reuters), which described a dramatic desert raid by the Algerian military that lasted several hours and saw nine militants gunned down.

But the Algerians then went after the remaining 15 European hostages:

"Special forces of the Algerian army have freed the remaining 15 hostages held by a shadowy Islamic group in the Algerian Sahara, several sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur DPA on Monday.

The sources, primarily local tourist guides, said that people had been killed or injured in the pre-dawn operation, but they were not able to provide further details.

The Algerian army units had received the go-ahead on Sunday to liberate the hostages - ten Germans, four Swiss and one Dutch national - who were held in a rugged mountainous area about 150km northwest of the city of Illizi and 1 200km south of the capital Algiers."

Or was it all a sham? Radio France International reports that there was no rescue, no gunbattle, only ransom paid:

PARIS - The 17 European hostages liberated Tuesday in the Algerian Sahara from alleged Islamic terrorists came free after a ransom was paid, not as a result of an assault by the Algerian army, Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported Friday.

Citing "authorized Algerian and Swiss sources", RFI said that several millions of dollars in ransom was paid to free the hostages; 10 Austrians, six Germans and one Swedish national.

Algerian media and the Algerian army had declared that the hostages were freed after a pitched battle with at least 10 kidnappers armed with Kalashnikovs.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

The Philippines versus
the Moro Islamic Liberation Front

Fighting has begun again between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Both parties had, until recently, been engaged in negotiating an end to their conflict.

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine air force planes and helicopters began airstrikes against Muslim rebel strongholds with in a new anti-terrorist crackdown, military officials said. 

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, before leaving on a state visit to the United States, authorized the military on Saturday to use aerial and artillery attacks on "embedded terrorist cells" blamed for recent bombings in the Mindanao region.

The rebels have denied involvement in the recent attacks, but Moro Islamic Liberation Front spokesman Eid Kabalu has said that artillery attacks began shortly after Arroyo ordered fresh assaults.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines are unlikely to be able to defeat the MILF outright. What follows is comparative analysis of the strengths of the two combatants, which forms the basis for that judgment. 

The Philippine Army has approximately 30 battalions in Mindanao. The Philippine Marines have 10 battalions in theater. A Philippine battalion has a typical line infantry strength of 500 men. Combat support units make up a further strength, but to keep comparisons simple, only foxhole strength will be considered.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front claims a strength of over 60 battalions, it's likely strength lies between 10 to 30 Philippine battalion equivalents, with the lower number the more probable, making allowance for the fluidity of membership between the Moro National Liberation Front and the Abu Sayaf.

Their deployments mirror each other. The Armed Forces of the Philippines are where the MILF strength is greatest.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines have a budget of about US$1 billion a year. However, much of this money is used for salaries and wages. No reliable numbers are available on the funding of the MILF, though it is likely to be less than the amount of money available to the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Operationally, however, the differences in money  may be less pronounced. A recent US military training mission to the Philippines found that AFP units were often reluctant to zero the sights on their weapons due to the lack of ammunition. Among the items requested by the Philippines from the United States were really basic items like "30,000 M-16 infantry rifles with 120,000 magazines", "twenty-five 81mm mortars, and 350 M-203 grenade launchers". Ammunition supply has long been a sore point in the AFP. The Government Arsenal is hoping to someday obtain the paltry sum of US$10 million to reliably manufacture the old M193 .556 mm ammunition, along with the newer SS-109 standard.

But the real weakness of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is obvious from the order of battle shown below. It is a garrison force, with almost no tactical mobility. Even the better equipped Philippine Marines have a mere handful of mobility assets. This is compounded by a lack of modern communications equipment and position locating devices, which makes maneuver, force separation and the avoidance of inadvertent targeting very problematic. As a result whole brigades and battalions are chained to their garrison towns. The Philippine military has an extremely limited ability to maneuver and concentrate forces. The actual mobile strength of the Armed Forces of the Philippines consists of a the Scout Ranger and Special Forces battalions and some Marine units. As practical matter then, the Armed Forces of the Philippines cannot achieve anything like the numerical superiority they enjoy on paper.

The lack of mobility and manuever capability is not offset by a corresponding strength in supporting arms. For example, the offensive launched against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front on May 18th used:

"The head of the military's Southern Command in Zamboanga, Lt. Gen. Roy Kyamko, told a news conference that OV-10 planes dropped six 250-pound bombs on MILF strongholds along the mountainous boundary of southern Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte provinces. MG520 helicopters also rocketed rebel positions there, military officials said."

General Kyamko said that another 135 artillery rounds were fired besides. Now these are truly pathetic numbers given the 5 battalion assault force said to be involved.  The total amount of ordnance used comes to .75 tons of bombs and (135 x 50 lbs/per 105 mm shell), or 4.125 tons of dumb projectiles. During the recently concluded Operation Iraqi Freedom, individual US aircraft carriers delivered 1,000 tons of smart bombs per day every day. A single US M-109 SP-howitzer will fire 3.5 tons of shell in an hour and a half. While comparisons with a superpower force are not intended, it is obvious that while the Philippine military can dislodge the Moro Islamic Liberation Front from individual villages and strong points, it cannot sweep it from the field. And due to its marginal superiority in numbers and firepower at the point of contact, the kill ratio between government troops and rebels will never be very high.

Moreover, the poverty of the Philippine armed forces means that even this pitiful tempo cannot be sustained for long. The current "offensive" can be maintained for a few weeks, then it will run out of logistical steam as the small number of mobile troops becomes worn out and ammunition is exhausted.

Conclusion: the Philippine Government and the MILF will dance around; kill a few of each other and more of the civilians by misadventure and collateral damage, and then stagger back to the negotiating table, not out of fight, but out of breath -- until the next round of inconclusive fighting.

Philippine Army Units in Mindanao


Philippine Marine Units In Mindanao



UN Military Observers Missing

The continuing saga of UN efforts to stop the massacres in the Democratic Republic of Congo begins with a classic paragraph:

"The United Nations appealed to church leaders in northeastern Congo on Saturday to help find two missing agency military observers, after a cease-fire aimed at ending several days of tribal fighting in the area took hold."

The ceasefire, apparently, may also have taken hold of the Blue Helmets, on whom the hopes of controlling civil unrest repose. While the Congolese churchmen search for the missing elite United Nations troopers, the safety of the embattled civilians is rapidly being assured as:

"... U.N. troops tore down rows of barbed wire surrounding an agency compound where thousands of frightened residents have taken refuge during the fighting."

Maybe this is premature. Other news sources, like the Guardian, have painted a less optimistic picture of the area surrounding the UN compound. In a news story datelined the same day, the Guardian reported that:

"Occasional gunshots, groaning wounded and the shrieks of hungry children seeking safety in a besieged UN compound expressed the horror of Bunia yesterday.

Around 12,000 terrified civilians were huddling against the wire perimeters of the two UN barracks in the town in eastern Congo, building makeshift camps under the machine guns of 700 Uruguayan peacekeepers.

Since at least 100,000 civilians having already fled, the town is practically deserted. There is no reliable estimate of the death toll from the intertribal conflict in the town but throughout yesterday bodies and mutilated wounded trickled into a makeshift clinic built against the wire.

The remains of 10 decapitated militiamen, their hands tied, arrived first. Two policemen were later found later, executed by the fighters of the Hema tribe who seized Bunia from the Lendu on Monday.

"Maybe we've seen a hundred bodies, maybe more. But most are still lying in their homes," said Claude Idringi, head of nursing in the clinic."

One of the rebel groups with whom the UN has been trying to broker a ceasefire is the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC). It has rampaged not only through the Congo, but has:

"... also been accused of committing atrocities in the DR Congo's northern neighbor, the Central African Republic, where they were sent in October last year to prop up the then president Ange-Felix Patasse after a bid to oust him."

The MLC has been accused of engaging in cannibalism, usually committed as part of the regular campaign of looting and rape. Let's hope the Congolese churchmen find the missing UN Peacekeepers.

Friday, May 16, 2003

France Denounces American "Lies"

France has accused the United States of smearing France, and promised to catalogue the calumnies uttered against it. According to Reuters, "Paris has angrily denied articles alleging it collaborated with the fallen regime of Saddam Hussein, including a recent item in the Washington Times that it issued passports to fleeing Iraqi officials wanted by the United States."

Senior American officials denied the existence of a misinformation campaign.

"''Certainly there's no such campaign out of this building,'' Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. ''I can't speak for the rest of the government. But I have heard of nothing like that.'' White House and State Department officials gave similar denials."

In a related development, the United States has decided to downgrade its participation in the Paris Air Show; "no one above the rank of colonel" and only a handful of aircraft will be sent, all restricted to static display.

It is inconceivable that France could engage in such treachery.

A 1976 photograph shows a French team touting reactor sales. Saddam Hussein is the second from the left. Jacques Chirac is at far right.


Same visit. Jacques Chirac is second from left, front row. Saddam Hussein is in the second from right, front row.

The Eloi versus the Morlocks

The European hostages kidnapped by the Algerian terrorists were held in such contempt that they were hardly guarded. The Al-Qaeda, according to one German hostage quoted in the Times of London:

"... prayed every day at the same hour, the same minute, and their Kalashnikovs were left lying in a pile. I only needed to grab one ... but I don't know how to use weapons."

In H.G. Well's classic story, the Time Machine, mankind has evolved into two species. One, called the Eloi, are sensitive, childlike creatures who know only how to play, sing and dance. They have forgotten how to provide for or defend themselves. They subsist on food mysteriously left for them in the dark by the Morlocks; fanged and clawed brutish creatures who use the Eloi for food -- and worse.

It is the appearance of the Time Traveler that throws this state of affairs into confusion. Coming, as he does, from a race of men still in their full vigor, he battles the Morlocks to defend Weena, one of Eloi girls who has befriended him. The Morlocks give back before this apparition; but he cannot save the Eloi, who will return submissively to their fate. It is a tragic story of humanity lost and yet not wholly so; and departing, the Time Traveller remembers Weena, keeping: "two strange white flowers—shrivelled now, and brown and flat and brittle—to witness that even when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and a mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of man."

The Eloi
The Morlocks
The Time Traveller

Thursday, May 15, 2003

The Axis of Weasels pays tribute to Al Qaeda

The standard response of many European countries to the kidnapping of their citizens has been to pay the ransom demanded.  Thirty one European tourists have been held hostage in the Algerian desert for 8 weeks. The motive was money; the hostage takers were Al Qaeda. According to the Guardian, the hostage

"Wintersteller described his abductors as Islamic extremists who 'wanted to install an Islamic state in Algeria and overthrow the government.' He quoted the kidnappers as saying they were negotiating with the hostages' governments.

'They wanted ransom money - no political demands, as far as I know. They wanted money to get weapons', he said."

The cowardly natives (the Algerians) were set to attempt a rescue despite their limited resources. But the stalwart Germans had other ideas: they would give them the money for the weapons. The money quote from Deutsche Welle:

A French radio channel has reported that 31 European tourists, who have been missing in the Sahara Desert for months, have been kidnapped by smugglers and are being held in southern Algeria. Algerian police are said to be negotiating a ransom of several million dollars with the smuggler group. The channel RFI said that a planned military action by Algerian authorities had been put on hold on account of the wishes of the German government.

The Abu Sayaf, another terrorist group affiliated with the Al-Qaeda, had held 12 Europeans hostage in the Philippines. They were later released in exchange for nearly US $1 million in ransom each. The money was said to have fueled the subsequent attacks by the terrorist group against civilian targets in the Philippines. As a point of reference, the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, was estimated to have cost US $600,000.

The Europeans have entered into a de facto arrangement with militant Islam under which the latter extract a tribute from the former in exchange for refraining from deadly attacks on European soil. In return, the money paid by Europe can be freely used to lethally attack lesser breeds with impunity; like Kenyans, Indians, Algerians, Filipinos, Timorese, Americans and the Jews. The next time you hear a soothing European "progressive" radio broadcast extolling their commitment to world peace, think of how it works out in practice.


Americans Tim and Gracia Burnham enjoying the hospitality of the Abu Sayaf.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Why Men Are Born

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." -- George Orwell
"At best, history can illuminate the present, but going further forward will always be a chancy business."-- Ronin
"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face--for ever." -- George Orwell
Perhaps in time, history could become a science, a mathematical field with the power to predict the future in intricate detail. But what would be the fun of that? -- Ronin

Honest men study history, as Ronin does, "for delight, for the sheer fun of it". Dishonest men have a more cunning use for the past: to control the present.

Imagine a world in which evil triumphed, forever. Only Marxists know that this is possible. Only Marxists want it to be possible. But how? When Christopher Hitchens left the Party's fold, he knew that in order to understand Marxism at its deepest level, it was first necessary to understand George Orwell. Orwell knew that when Karl Marx said that 'while philosophers had hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point was to change it', it was not a mere figure of speech. He was calling for a systematic program to alter the past, of which the present is but an instance, and by it, to alter reality.

In the classic confrontation between Party Representative O'Brien and Winston Smith in 1984, O'Brien says:

'There is no way in which the Party can be overthrown. The rule of the Party is for ever. Make that the starting-point of your thoughts ... Power over matter -- external reality, as you would call it -- is not important. Already our control over matter is absolute.'

'But how can you control matter?' he burst out. 'You don't even control the climate or the law of gravity. And there are disease, pain, death --'

O'Brien silenced him by a movement of his hand. 'We control matter because we control the mind. Reality is inside the skull. You will learn by degrees, Winston. There is nothing that we could not do. Invisibility, levitation -- anything. I could float off this floor like a soap bubble if I wish to. I do not wish to, because the Party does not wish it. You must get rid of those nineteenth-century ideas about the laws of Nature. We make the laws of Nature.'

'But you do not! You are not even masters of this planet. What about Eurasia and Eastasia? You have not conquered them yet.'

'Unimportant. We shall conquer them when it suits us. And if we did not, what difference would it make? We can shut them out of existence. Oceania is the world.'

'But the world itself is only a speck of dust. And man is tiny helpless! How long has he been in existence? For millions of years the earth was uninhabited.'

'Nonsense. The earth is as old as we are, no older. How could it be older? Nothing exists except through human consciousness.'

'But the rocks are full of the bones of extinct animals -- mammoths and mastodons and enormous reptiles which lived here long before man was ever heard of.'

'Have you ever seen those bones, Winston? Of course not. Nineteenth-century biologists invented them. Before man there was nothing. After man, if he could come to an end, there would be nothing. Outside man there is nothing.'

In the hands of the Party history becomes the most wonderful of things; at once definite and infinitely malleable. If you want millions to march in defense of Saddam Hussein, idolize Jose Bove, linger at the feet of Ira Einhorn, seriously consider the sainthood of Ho Chi Minh, deny the existence of the Holocaust, long for life under Kim Jong Il, and starve themselves to death in order to protest the production of food which does not suit the Party's book -- appeal to history. The hallmark of a true Marxist isn't that he believes in something, but that he will believe in anything.

At the foundation of the Belmont Club, I asserted that the "kind of history we accept depends on the type of future we desire". Since I cannot know the future, the kind of history I crave is one that will remain in the past. It will beguile, but not govern. In the end, I will belong to it and not it, to me. Not a post is written as a rung on the road to power; for I reject Marxism root and branch, but as a note to posterity, that here a man once breathed; once felt sunlight; and once thought foolish things, against a time that comes when:

... not only you and I,
But the whole world shall whiten, here or there ...
When the great markets by the sea shut fast
All that calm Sunday that goes on and on:
When even lovers find their peace at last,
And Earth is but a star, that once had shone.

For history, in the end, is the mind of God, which I can never change, but hope, ever so fleetingly to glimpse. Away then!

Are ye ready, ye in rags and rotten shoes?

We are the Pilgrims, master; we shall go
Always a little further: it may be
Beyond the last blue mountain barred with snow,
Across that angry or that glimmering sea,
White on a throne or guarded in a cave
There lives a prophet who can understand
Why men were born.
We are fools, but surely we are brave,
Who make the Golden Journey to Samarkand.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Set your phasers to stun

It's an old military adage that people do things because they can. 'Cause it's cool. Looking ahead after their battlefield victories in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Special Operations Command is seeking to preserve and increase their technological edge over the foe. They are considering:

Bioengineering. Special operations forces need advanced medical techniques and procedures, improved drugs, whole-blood substitutes, bio-compatible material for implants and nano-scale sensors for detection of disease, as well as biological agents and chemicals, Wattenbarger noted. Ongoing projects include combat casualty care, diving medicine, performance enhancements and medical information systems.

Directed-energy weapons. DE applications will allow special operators to deliver a tunable—from non-lethal to lethal—force for varying degrees of effects, he explained

The United States has long used laser devices to "mark" targets, but has not publicly used directed energy weapons to directly harm a person. The North Koreans and Russians have shown no such compunction. Military beat reporter Bill Gertz reported on May 13, 2003 that:

North Korea's military fired a laser in March at two U.S. Army helicopters patrolling the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in what U.S. officials call a provocative action, The Washington Times has learned.

Two Apache attack helicopters were illuminated by lasers in early March by a weapon that had the characteristics of a Chinese laser gun, an indication that North Korea has deployed a new and potentially lethal weapon.

Lasers focus concentrated beams of light on a target and are used in some guidance systems. The Chinese laser gun, however, is a weapon that can cause eye damage at ranges up to three miles.

This incident is similar, in some respects to an April, 1997 incident in which a US Navy intelligence officer claimed that he sustained minor eye injuries from a laser beam fired from the Russian trawler Kapitan Man. Thus far, it has been a case of the storm petrel but not the storm. Yet that is bound to change.

America may be burdened by compunction, but it hardly matters, given its prowess. Boeing has been contracted to build an airborne directed energy weapon that can vaporize the wall of a rocket booster at a distance of several hundred kilometers.

Not to be outdone, the Army has contracted TRW to build a system whose prototype has already shot down artillery shells while in flight. The Navy is redesigning it's whole new generation of ships, including the future attack carrier design CVN-21 to generate the necessary power to support directed-energy weapons. They will not be set to stun. Back of the envelope calculations suggest that if the Boeing airborne laser can vaporize a hole in aircraft metal at several hundred kilometers, it will be positively devastating at much shorter ranges. And the power generation of a 747 will be absolutely dwarfed by the massive output of nuclear reactors on a 110,000 ton warship.

But don't worry. You might someday ask Scotty to beam you up. Or at least the Special Forces might. Ten years ago, a team of scientists at IBM showed that teleportation was possible, in principle, "using a celebrated and paradoxical feature of quantum mechanics known as the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen effect". (Did you get that Yasser?) Not too surprising, when you consider that DARPA invented the Internet nearly 30 years ago, 4 years after Neil Armstrong first landed on the moon.

Just to round things out, consider the Bird of Prey technology demonstrator that the Boeing Phantom Works recently declassified because all the lessons have now been extracted from it's now dated technology.

All ahead, Warp Factor 10.

Mr. Legitimacy

A British cabinet member resigned today over what she considered to be Tony Blair's betrayal of the United Nations. Claire Short, the Minister for International Development, believed that only the United Nations could confer legitimacy on the successor regime to Saddam Hussein's. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned that "... only the [UN Security] council that can provide the unique legitimacy that one needs to be able to act", national sovereignty deriving from the consent of the governed, having been hereby revoked.

Within individual countries, the question of legitimacy is settled by Constitutional means. There's little doubt that Tony Blair, and not Claire Short was elected Prime Minister of the UK. Although Albert Gore may contest the assertion, George Bush was probably elected President of the United States. But in the realm of power over other nations, the situation is less clear: certainly no one elected George Bush President of Iraq. It is equally clear that no one conferred upon Kofi Annan the power to defend -- or to prohibit the defense, of the United States.

Mr. Annan's assertion that the UN provides a font of international legitimacy deserves a fair examination. Most pretenders to a throne must make a showing. They must demonstrate that they possess at least some of the legitimacy that flows from a kind of sovereign power. A State, for example, must possess a territory, a population and a working apparatus of internal organization. A castaway on a windblown rock in the middle of the ocean does not constitute a state. By a test of functionality, Liberia would not qualify as a state, though Taiwan would, save for the invocation of a special kind of legitimacy, which we must now consider at length: legitimacy by anointment.

Under this doctrine, the legitimacy of a state depends soley on its recognition, or anointment, by the United Nations. That's why Taiwan is a not a State but Liberia is. That's why Jerusalem is not in Israel. The laying of the hands upon the gaslit, embattled, shanties of Monrovia confers a power that the skyscrapers of Taipei can never attain to. Other types of mantles may be laid by the anointing authority. For example, a United Nations Peacekeeping effort is always legitimate and desirable, although it may utterly fail to prevent massacres from occurring in Rwanda or Kosovo. The Security Council is always the only place to settle legitimate disputes, even though it never does. The Security Council has failed to act in 60 out of 62 wars since the end of the Second World War -- the two exceptions being Korea, 1950 and Kuwait, 1991.

Many well-meaning individuals, perhaps even Clair Short, honestly believe in the conferment of legitimacy by anointment. Yet the logical problem; the recursive problem from which there is no escape remains: who anointed the anointer? Even minimally functional countries derive a certain power from induction: the mere fact of their independent existence; their population; their power, however meager, over their limited area shows them to be organisms which are rooted in the soil of reality. But entities like the United Nations, which obtain their putative power from deduction, are treaty objects without a substantial physical existence; without ultimate power over their constituents. The Her Majesty's Government's writ will run all over the United Kingdom; and a Federal Statute is enforceable in all 50 states, but as has been amply demonstrated, the United Nations can hardly venture into realms where they alone can provide legitimacy.

There is no place on earth so bereft of real States and so chock-full of anointed ones as Africa. Over the weekend, another 200 civilians died in the Congo despite the presence of UN Peacekeepers, bringing the number of deaths in the last two weeks to over 9,000. While most things in Africa are contingent, at least two things are certain in this instance: that the 9,000 are dead; and that they died legitimately.

Mr. Legitimacy



How you become a Human Rights Warrior for Peace

You let 800,000 people die. Then you receive an award for "demonstrated altruism, resourcefulness and bravery in preserving the value of human life." This French-Canadian general was in charge of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Rwanda. His citation reads in part:

"General Romeo Dallaire did everything he could, pleading for 2000 more peacekeepers to be added to his insufficiently equipped 3000 man force. If they had answered Gen. Dallaire's pleas, the U.N. could have stopped the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans.  instead, following the deaths of 10 Belgian Peacekeepers assigned to protect the President, his forces were cut down from 3000 to a mere 500 men, who had to watch as one of the most horrible genocides in human history took place before their very eyes.  Gen. Romeo Dallaire, frustrated, and disheartened by the U.N.'s passive attitude, nonetheless stood for his beliefs, repeatedly confronting his superiors who did nothing to prevent the horrific events from unfolding."

Romeo Dallaire is now working on the problem of war-affected children, and  has visited countries where children are used as soldiers or are being sold into sexual slavery.

But what can 500 men not commanded by the UN do? We know the answer of the  300 Spartans, under King Leonidas, who held off a Persian force more than 50 times their number and saved the Western World.

"Go tell the Spartans, passer-by,
That here, obedient to their laws, we lie"

Philippine Communists Endorse Attack on Siocon

The Communist Party of the Philippines is pleased as punch that their Muslim brothers have burned the town of Siocon in Zamboanga del Norte.

"The CPP expressed support to the war footing being observed by the Moro rebels. “It is absolutely correct for the MILF to carry out guerrilla attacks against government forces in order to defend its gains and recover lost ground, resist the AFP campaign of suppression and carry forward the Moro people’s struggle for self-determination,” Rosal said."

Any deaths were purely coincidental, as:

"He said the civilians slain in the Siocon rampage were caught in the crossfire and should not be made the yardstick to condemn the MILF and classify it as terrorist."

Dang those rampages. Can't a feller have a decent rampage without people getting all hot and bothered? All the Communists and the Islamists want is "peace". It's everyone else who wants war -- especially the dastardly Americans.

“The US has long been wanting to categorically also declare the MILF as a terrorist organization in order to justify the further deployment of US troops in Mindanao,” Rosal said.

"He added that “categorizing the MILF as terrorist “would not affect one bit” the legitimacy of the Moro peoples’ “struggle for self-determination against oppression by US imperialism and its puppet Manila government.”

Although neither the Communists nor the Islamists fear America "one bit", they are not especially eager to catch a glimpse of the Shades, and are denouncing the

"premeditated efforts, allegedly instigated by the United States, was already “cemented” to list the MILF as a terrorist group to justify the deployment of foreign troops in Mindanao."

Talks with the MILF were scheduled to be held in Malaysia, although Ambassador Roy V. Seneres doesn't think the Malaysians are honest brokers.

Malaysia may not be the best mediator and host for the peace talks, because it does not appear to be neutral, and it may not be in Malaysia’s best interest to attain peace in Mindanao.

In other words, there may be a conflict of interest on the part of Malaysia, and it may be self-serving on their part to maintain the status quo of not having peace in Mindanao.

But ... but ... how can that be? Probably because the Malaysians trained the MILF in the first place.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Dem darkies 'jes won' stay on de plantation

Glenn Reynolds is at it again. He's linked to story describing a demonstration scheduled by the Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) against Greenpeace for "eco-manslaughter". The money quote is:

"To serve its own ideological agenda, [Greenpeace] wants to keep the Third World permanently mired in Third World poverty, disease and death. So far, it has succeeded," said Niger Innis, national spokesperson for CORE.

Ouch. I wonder how many people in the international peace movement will admit that they actually benefit from endless war in Kashmir, Algeria, Indonesia, the Philippines and Africa because it provides them with the opportunity to flit from one "peace conference" to the other? The death of Filipinos in Ipil and Siocon and the gift of peace to children blown to shreds on the LRT on Rizal Day, 2001 are all just part of the "cycle of violence", but they are never acts of war. Only attempts to stop them are.

Manon of the Spring

Glenn Reynolds (Hat Tip: Instapundit) observes that millions of Third World nonpersons may have died to satisfy the fantasies of western "environmentalists". In particular, he cites the mindless opposition to the use of DDT to stop malaria and the proscription of genetically modified food products. Anyone who has studied the subject knows that the equivalent of several 747s worth of people die each day in Africa because they can't spray against malaria, despite the scientific urgings to do so. It's well known that thousands of tons of food identical to that consumed by people in America can't be distributed in Africa because of pressure from the Green Lobby in Europe.

It's rather worse than that. The instances that Glenn Reynolds cites are just the tip of the iceberg. The policy input of First World lobbies on Third World policies is pervasive, and operates largely as an unwritten conditionality to foreign aid and foreign debt. They range from health policy ("planned parenthood"), to "gender issues"; to forestry policy ("no forest plantations"); to national security policy. The role of Europe in the CPP-Philippine government negotiations corresponds to the role played by Islamic countries in "peace talks" with the MILF (the Islamic countries are technically not first world, but their influence in Europe is enormous).

None of this is necessarily bad in general, but it is often disastrous in particular. It is the outcome of a deadly confluence of circumstances: the extreme weakness and imbecility of local public policy formulation, coupled with the aggressive and often underhanded campaigns of ideologues at every level of the international bureaucracy.

The comparison of First World environmentalists to "Marie Antoinette and her courtiers dressed up as peasants and shepherds. They invented a phoney authenticity and pretended to live the simple life while the real French peasantry was close to starvation ..." will be familiar to those in the West who boggle at the prices of "organic food" and "natural homes", or "environmentally friendly" cars, none of which can be afforded by the average working stiff. That's why the Greens remain a minority political force in most First World countries; because they are too dangerous to be let into power. But to satisfy them, they are often allowed to experiment with the lives of Third World people, who after all do not vote.

And it makes the Greenies feel so good.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Sounds on the Vanished Wind

The written record, whether in cuneiform, hieroglyph or paper, has long been the most enduring form of memory. From it, we first hear from Plato of the rumor of Atlantis; through it, Caesar tells us, in his own words, how he conquered Gaul. We can still read the Sermon on the Mount. But we cannot hear the words, nor the sound of the wind on that far hill in Galilee.

Yet it is possible to recapture something of those lost sounds in traditional music. Human memory being what it is, the record does not go back many thousands of years. Still we can hear what must have grated on Lord Cornwallis' ears as he surrendered his command to George Washington at Saratoga. Most historians are agreed that the ragged United States Army fifers played The World Turned Upside Down as the British Army marched into captivity. Like most American martial music of the period, it was derived from British sources, from which, they were after all, sprung. Click on the picture, if you want to listen.

If you followed the advance of the 3/7th Cavalry into Iraq, or have simply seen too many movies, you may wonder why Cavalry units use the salutation, "Garry Owen, Sir!". It derives from the association between the ballad of that name and George Armstrong Custer. Custer heard the tune one day, and decreed that henceforward, it would be played whenever the 7th Cavalry deployed. It was played on the day he and his command rode into history, and played since, with happier results. 

Click on the heraldic shield of the 7th (now a part of the 1st Cavalry Division) to the hear the tune. It may have been played, at one time or other, as the 1st Cavalry made it's dash for Manila in 1945. And no, Garry Owen is not a person. It was a Gaelic Tavern called Garrai Owen, which makes it good enough for the Cavalry.

Yet if there were one tune, which represented, as it were, the Last Men of the West, it would be The Girl I Left Behind Me. It is old beyond reliable reckoning, already popular in Elizabethan Times. Shakespeare heard it. As near as can be determined, it was written by the Elves, or at least the Irish. It has been a staple of the armies of Britain, Australia and America for more than 300 years.

It must have been played by the Die Hards fighting Napoleon at Albuera; certainly the 20th Maine Regiment resisting the forces of slavery at Little Round Top had heard it. The Diggers bound for Lone Pine would have marched to it, when they boarded ship at Circular Quay. It's a sprightly tune, yet it carries an undertone of the grace, tragedy and sorrow of the kindred. Click on Eastman Johnson's painting, of the same title to play.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Siocon 2003

A linnet who had lost her way
Sang on a blackened bough in Hell,
Till all the ghosts remembered well
The trees, the wind, the golden day.
-- James Elroy Flecker

Philippine Commentary has called for action against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose men burned and looted the town of Siocon, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines in a pre-dawn attack on May 4, 2003, killing over two dozen people, while in the midst of "peace negotiations" with the Philippine Government. It is tempting to think of  the MILF operatives as illiterate yokels who attacked by mistake, as Alex Magno of the Philippine Star does. Doubtless many of them are.

But at the highest levels, the MILF are well-connected international combatants playing a dangerous game. It is instructive to examine the biography of it's leader. Hashim Salamat, aka Salamat Hashim. This biography was published in the Call of Islam and reprinted at the Federation of American Scientists.

Salamat Hashim was born on 7th July, 1942 in the Municipality of Pagalungan, Maguindano. He comes from a religious family of seven. Salamat's first teacher was his mother. It was through her tutorship and guidance that at the age of six he could read the Holy Qur'an and memorised many of its verses. At the age of six he started formal education, finishing his elementary education in 1954 with honours and his secondary education in 1958 also with honours. From internal textual evidence, this biogrpahy of Hashim Salamat was written by a person probably educated in Europe or the Middle East, with it's tradition of British English. Anglicisms such as "honours" and "memorised" abound.
In 1958, Salamat joined the pilgrims from the Philippines for Hajj. He took this opportunity to stay behind and study in Makkah under the care of Sheikh Zawawi. He attended regularly the halaqat held at the Masjid al Haram and enrolled at the Madrasat as-Sulatiyah ad-Diniyah. Salamat would have been 16 in 1958 and to have sojourned in Mecca and to have studied at a halaqat indicates that he was either wired or extraordinarily enterprising. Some sources suggest Salamat came from an upper class Maguindanaon family.


Halaqat =The basic format of mosque education was the study circle,  is defined as `a gathering of people seated in a circle,’ or, `gathering of students around a teacher.

In 1959, he went to Cairo, which at that time was the centre of political activism in the Middle East. There, he enrolled at Al-Azhar University. He graduated from al-Azhar's Ma'had al-Buhuth al-Islamiyyah as-Sanawiyyah in 1963, then enrolling at al-Azhar's college of Theology for a bachelor's degree program majoring in Aqeedah and Philosophy and graduated in 1967. Pursuing his scholastic inclination further, he took up his postgraduate courses in the same university and finished his master's degree in 1969. He completed the academic requirements for a doctoral degree, but was unable to write his dissertation because he had to return to the Philippines by then to organise the Moro revolutionary movement.

Salamat was an active student leader. His active participation to different student activities exposed him to various revolutionary trends, both Islamic and Secular, which Cairo was known for at that period. This exposure brought him awareness of the colonial oppression his Muslim brothers and sisters were suffering back home, an awareness which gradually transformed him from a scholar to an Islamic revolutionary.

Among the student organisations he took part in are the Philippine Muslim Student Association and the Organisation of Asian Students in Cairo. He was elected President of the former and Secretary-General of the latter.

While in Cairo, he clandestinely organised a core group among the Bangsamoro Muslim students who planned the Bangsamoro revolution in the early sixties. To finance their early activities, each member contributed half of his meager allowance to a common fund.

It is interesting to note that amongst the revolutionary Muslim thinkers who influenced Salamat, two Muslim personalities made a lasting impression on him: Syed Qutb and Syed Abul A'la Maududi. It was, however, Syed Qutb's writings which shaped his Islamic outlook and political beliefs. The impact that Syed Qutb and Maududi made on him was what inspired him to plant the seeds of Islamic revolution in the Bangsamoro homeland.

Known but to a few, Salamat was the one responsible for covertly arranging the military training of the first batch of cadres (Batch 90) that was to become the military core group of the Moro National Liberation Front. Working with a prominent political leader, he laid the groundwork for the organisation of the Bangsamoro armed struggle.


At the time Salamat was in Egypt, it was convulsed by the suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood, a clandestine organization. Many of its members had started terrorist activity in World War 2.

The Al-Azhar University is a Sunni Muslim institution, which describes itself as concerned "with the religious syllabus, which pays special attention to the Quranic sciences and traditions of the prophet, on the one hand, while on the other, university teaches all the modern scientific fields of science ." It is the Islamic university.

Syed Qutb was a name to conjure with in Egyptian political circles. He emphasized that Islam was a "complete way of life" and opposed the secularization of Egptian life under Nasser, for which he was imprisoned.

Maulana Syed Abul A’la Maududi, was born in south India. He founded the Jamaat-e-Islami, which has a large number of adherents in the Indian subcontinent. The Pakistani and subcontinental connection may have it's roots here.

It was called Batch 90 after the original cadre of 90, who under Nur Misuari, trained under Malaysian Army officers in Pulao Pangkor Island in Sabah, Malaysia.


It is fairly obvious that Hashim Salamat is no yokel. He spent over 10 years in Egypt in a setting which would have enabled him to meet many of the movers and shakers of the terrorist world. He had contacts on the subcontinent and into the Arabian peninsula -- in 1999, he is said to have admitted to receiving “significant funding” from Osama bin Laden. "As many as several hundred MILF members from Mindanao are believed to have trained at al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan, and to have established ties with al-Qaida commanders."

Nor is he short of regional connections. Batch 90 trained in Malaysia presumably under the guidance of intelligence officers who should now be very senior personages in Kuala Lumpur. From there, right across the causeway, to the Lion City. A number of the Jemaah Islamiah members arrested in Singapore in 2000 admitted to having trained at MILF camps, while one of the al-Qaida “consultants” who advised the Singapore cell had formerly worked as an explosives expert for the MILF." Jemaah Islamiah has been tied to the Bali attack on hundreds of Australian backpackers, this time in Indonesia.

It is extremely difficult for an outsider to understand that, in some respects, the Islamic world represents an alternative universe, which is complete and wholly encompassing. In Hashim Salamat and his senior leader's view, the realm of the faithful is doomed to struggle against the world of the infidel or kuffar, until the infidel is subjugated. It is the inbred observers in Manila bars and their collegiala interlocutors, not Hashim Salamat, who have seen too little of the world to sense the shadow which now looms outside their gates.

To expect a man like Hashim Salamat to chuck it all in in exchange for a pathetic sinecure in the Philippine Government, after being buttered up by a plate of halal pancit bihon is probably too much to ask. But it is precisely what the "peace lobby" in the Philippine expects. Philippine Commentary is right. The time is fast approaching when Filipinos may have to make a choice between killing and war.

"Do not suppose that this is the end. It is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first taste of a bitter cup that will be proffered to us year by year ... " -- Winston Churchill, 1938