Sunday, February 27, 2005


The Denver Channel reports that 200 University of Colorado faculty members have published a petition in a local newspaper asking that the investigation against Ward Churchill be dropped.

The faculty members paid for the ad to run Monday in The Boulder Daily Camera. The ad says the review of the professor, expected to complete by the middle of March, should be stopped immediately. The ad says the inquiry is the result of political pressure and not based on "any prior formal complaint of specific professional or academic misconduct on his part." ...

CU's Arts and Sciences Council passed a resolution Feb. 10 protesting the investigation, and said administrators should know that faculty members are serious about their opposition to what some consider a witch hunt. Margaret LeCompte, an education professor, said, "It is going to be extremely difficult, if academic freedom is on the block, for us to hire and keep good faculty members.' LeCompte and the other teachers who signed the ad paid $1,600 to have it published. "We're all thinking twice about what we're saying," LeCompte said, recalling the climate in the McCarthy era when professors were fired for alleged communist ties.

The same story is being carried by the Rocky Mountain News on a feed from the Associated Press. Some newspapers are connecting this 'witch hunt' with the mandatory Loyalty Oaths the State of Colorado requires of teachers at institutions of higher learning. According to the Denver Channel:

State law requires anybody who teaches at a higher education institution to sign an oath affirming they will uphold the U.S. and Colorado constitutions. University officials said somewhere between 80 percent and 90 percent of staff have signed loyalty oaths. Those who haven't, will be required to do so. Churchill was among the minority that hadn't before the controversy. But he subsequently has signed.

Dissent has long been described as a patriotic and legitimate activity and Professor Churchill's patriotism is a thing to behold. A transcript of a speech he gave on February 21, 2005 is provided by InfoshopOrg, an anarchist website, from a Counterpunch source.

Ward Churchill: Hello my relatives; you humble me. Bill Owens: do you get it now? [applause] If you can count on your toes, you'll be able to count the percentage points of contribution to the budget the University of Colorado you and your ilk have reduced the taxpayer contribution to. It comes to seven. I do not work for the taxpayers of the state of Colorado. I do not work for Bill Owens.....

Question #4: I'm glad I came here tonight; I've heard a lot more than I heard on the average sound bytes we've been hearing on the radio. I agree with some points, there are other points that I disagree with, but I do believe you have a constitutional right to say what you have to say. On the other hand, do you agree that the First Amendment rights for the people marching in the Columbus Day parade should be taken away, because that is their freedom of expression as well, and I'm one of those people.

Ward Churchill: Let me answer the man. No, I don't believe you have a First Amendment right because that bounces off against my Ninth Amendment right. You know what my Ninth Amendment rights are? Do you know what the Ninth Amendment says?

Question #4: No, sir.

Ward Churchill: Yeah. Do we have a law professor in here? I think this is a lesson for law school, because I addressed another university auditorium with about this many people in it last week, and I posed the same question to the whole group. Professors, students, townspeople and all, not a soul, including law professors, could tell me what the damn Ninth Amendment said. [laughter] S'pose there might be a reason for that?

Question #4: Sir, sir, sirdoes that negate the First Amendment?

Ward Churchill: No, no, wait a minute; let's get an answer to it.

Audience Member: Basically it says that whatever rights were not given to federal government are given to the states.

Ward Churchill: Actually, wrong, beep. [laughter] What it says, in very close paraphrase, is that all rights not otherwise enumerated herein that are inherent in people are retained by them, OK? You can have a real entertaining time looking at the nature of those rights as articulated, and it can be rather nebulous and it can be debatable, but I'll tell you one place you can look where it's not debatable at all and that's in black letter legal articulation. That goes to human rights, particularly the articulation of international human rights that take the form of ratified treaties. Under Article Six of the Constitution of the United States, those are the supreme law of the land, and among them, are fundamental human dignity, OK? And celebration of the conditions that I was describing as pertaining to native people as an outcome of the process initiated by Christopher Columbus, celebrating that guy in any respect at all is a celebration of those conditions. That's a denial of fundamental human dignity, that's a denial of my Ninth Amendment rights and you don't have a right to do that, and you know exactly what you're doing. [applause]

This exchange recalled an earlier Belmont Club post which said:

The implicit assumption underlying this discourse is that "we" -- and not you -- ask the questions. ...  As Robert Kaplan pointed out in The Media and Medievalism, the most powerful tool of totalitarianism is to don the guise of righteousness and assume "the right to question and to demand answers, the right to judge and condemn, and the right to pardon and show mercy." It is in the end an attempt to usurp the wellsprings of legitimacy.

From that acceptance a tyranny follows from which even the dead have no escape. The victims of the World Trade Center may have spent their last moments imagining that they would be avenged. Wrong. Society cannot even undertake to preserve their memory from those who would call them "little Eichmanns". What is at stake is not even the remembrance. To paraphrase another Churchill, it is the universal human experience to be forgotten; but what is at stake now is incomparably greater: the ability to remember who we are, and to prevent, for those who trusted us on that September day, the extinction of their light, their memory and their story.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

A Teaching Moment

University of Colorado officials are considering offering Ward Churchill an early retirement package that could end an increasingly uncomfortable standoff with the controversial professor. ... David Lane, Churchill's attorney, said he has not been contacted about a buyout offer. But, he said, while his primary focus is on protecting Churchill's constitutional right to speak out, he would be willing to listen to a university proposal. "If they offer $10 million, I would think about it. If they offer him $10, I wouldn't," Lane said.

Freedom of speech is not priceless. It's worth ten million dollars and not a penny less. This, according to the Denver Post, is preferred way to get Professor Churchill off the campus. The alternative, it sources suggest, is far worse.

Typically such dismissals - even if done by the book - result in years of expensive lawsuits that Hoffman told legislators last week the university would like to avoid. Sources involved in the talks said if an arrangement could be made, it could get everyone off the hook, including Churchill, the subject of daily press revelations. The latest controversy is whether an artwork by Churchill titled "Winter Attack" was copied from a 1972 piece by Thomas Mails, "The Mystic Warriors of the Plains."

The Rocky Mountain News depicts the CU administration as practically paralyzed with fear at the possible retaliation Churchill could visit on them should they attempt to chastise him.

University of Colorado President Betsy Hoffman had some fairly strong words Tuesday for those who have argued that professor Ward Churchill should be fired. "The more talk there is about the need to fire him, the more difficult it becomes for us to do that, if that's what we decide to do," she told Republican lawmakers, urging them not to join calls for action. "If we approach this issue wrong," she said, "not only will every regent be sued personally, but every administrator will be sued personally and professor Churchill will win his lawsuit with triple damages and be back on the faculty, a very wealthy man at our expense."

This fear, whether real or pretended, is an impressive demonstration of the power of Political Correctness,  a compound of legal menace, the threat of extralegal action and of retaliatory vilification that is not some figure of speech but an actual, material force. Even if Churchill is 'bought out' at $10 million -- should he stoop to accept such a beggarly sum -- he will have unambiguously demonstrated the value of leftist protection. That he could have survived repeated exposure as an ethnic identity thief, academic fraud and art forger; that he could have assaulted a newsman on television and withstood the personal opprobrium of the Colorado Governor, only to receive a fortune in compensation, can only add to his fame.

The perception of danger depends on one's perspective. Neville Chamberlain's Foreign Minister, Lord Halifax, argued against opposing the Nazi aggression by asking "was any useful purpose served by treading on the landslide and being carried along with it"? Another Churchill, unrelated to Ward, counterargued that the danger lay entirely the other way: that capitulation mean stepping onto a "slippery slope" every bit as perilous as Halifax's metaphorical landslide; how each moment of procrastination increased the awfulness of the inevitable clash. The case, on smaller scale, describes CU's dilemma. From Hoffman's point of view, it is resisting Ward Churchill that is dangerous; from another standpoint it is not resisting him that constitutes the threat.

The World Turned Upside Down

Don't that beat all. When the blog Dutch Report reported that two parliamentary representatives, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders had been kept in prison cells to protect them against Islamic death threats, I refused at first to believe it. The Dutch Report is in English and since I could not read the source documents directly, the report seemed too unlikely to be true. But the more I read, even in translation, the less it seemed like a parody. For example:

Parliamentary chairman Weisglas now says he is “shocked by the disinterested reactions” in parliament after the protest of representatives Hirsi Ali and Wilders. ”I think the parliamentary members accept it way to easy that a colleague, has to sleep for months in a prison cell”. He describes it as a “disgrace” and “a pathetic show” that Wilders is in prison to protect him against terrorism. Weisglas says he has this weekend made it “very clear” to the government that the two representatives should be able to live in normal circumstances. ...

Security expert Hans Salman says in NRC newspaper that he nearly couldn’t believe the news: “Wilders? In a prison?”. With his company International Security Partners (ISP) he often works for families who need personal protection....  He was also involved in the protection of the Turkeys ambassador, who was under threat of the ultra nationalistic Turkeys Gray Wolves. ... “This is asking for trouble” he says and continues with: “Every body knows that nobody can endure something like this.”.

Former Amsterdam police commissioner and security expert Kees Sietsma ...  says, Hirsi Ali and Wilders are right to say that in countries like Israel, the United States, Spain and Italy, the living addresses of people under threat are not secret. ... Arie Duijdam of Interseco, the biggest personnel protection firm in The Netherlands also thinks there are other alternatives.

But Reuters provided collateral confirmation. The article Threatened Dutch MP Reveals Living on Navy Base says:

NRC Handelsblad said Ayaan Hirsi Ali had revealed her secret residence on a navy base to protest against the circumstances of her hiding. ... The newspaper said Hirsi Ali was living on a heavily guarded navy base in Amsterdam, while anti-immigration populist Geert Wilders, whose life has also been threatened, was sleeping in a prison cell in the central Dutch town of Zeist.

Expatica reports that the accommodations weren't the equivalent of a BOQ or any such, but a real jail cell.

Wilders is also an outspoken critic of the Islamic faith, calling for an end to immigration of Muslims to the Netherlands. He is also opposed to Turkey accession to the EU. He has been living at Camp Zeist for some time, which was formerly used to house the two Libyan suspects of the Lockerbie bombing. It now houses arrested immigrants and normal detainees. Wilders has been told he will be staying at the jail — and sleeping in a jail cell — until at least September when he will be given his own living space.

The complaints of the Dutch parliamentary representatives were greeted with dismay. The revelation, it was said, would put the base in danger of attack. Hirsi Ali 'put guards in danger' says:

22 February 2005 Amsterdam — MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali placed not only herself and right-winger Geert Wilders, but also their bodyguards and other officials, in danger by revealing the location of her safe house, Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner said on Tuesday.

The description involuntarily recalled the classic scene in the original Terminator movie where an unstoppable android kills all the cops in a station house to reach its designated target. Camp Zeist -- the secure location in question -- was used to hold the Lockerbie bombers, and is, if anything, somewhat more formidable that the garden variety station house. No one wants to put things to the proof. According to the Dutch Report, members of the press are asking why Hirsi Ali simply doesn't quit politics to avoid further unpleasantness.

The press and other parliamentary members, some even of her own liberal (VVD) party have attacked Hirsi Ali in the past and suggested that her work as representative is under pressure and said she could better stop.

That would solve the problem for sure, but what happens if Europe is threatened by more than a handful of Islamic terrorists? What to do for an encore?

The Cancer Ward

Hat tip to Michelle Malkin for linking to an Inside Denver article on Ward Churchill which catalogues the lengthy history of his denunciation by bona-fide Indians before Colorado University. His accusers include his ex-inlaws. Some excerpts:

David Bradley, a Santa Fe-area American Indian artist whose feud with Churchill has endured more than a decade, says he told CU a long time ago that Churchill should be fired. ...

Vernon Bellecourt, an American Indian Movement activist, says he first approached the university with questions about the veracity of Churchill's claim to American Indian heritage in 1986. "We went out there with a stack of documents to tell them about him," Bellecourt said. "I made a special trip to Colorado and went to the university.

"We told the university he wasn't Indian and was disruptive in the community," said Carole Standing Elk, a California Indian activist. "We said, 'He doesn't represent us, and how did you put him in the ethnic studies department?' "

"I sent a letter to the university in 1992 saying he's not a native person," said Suzan Shown Harjo, president of the Morning Star Institute. She says she received a response from a university official saying Churchill had not been hired because he was an American Indian.

Bradley, a Chippewa, said there are several reasons he and Churchill clashed. ... In 1994, Bradley contacted CU, lodging his complaint with Evelyn Hu-De-Hart, then director for CU's Center for Studies of Ethnicity and Race in America. ...

Rhonda Kelly, 41, of Winnipeg, the older sister of Churchill's deceased third wife, Leah Renae Kelly, also contacted CU. ... Churchill later published a book of Kelly's writings, In My Own Voice. In a lengthy preface, he contended that the American Indian woman's alcoholism and other personal troubles could be traced ... Rhonda Kelly, a second-year law student, has produced a 15-point brief of inaccuracies she said she has found in Churchill's preface. She has asked the book's publisher to remove it from circulation, and to ask a man writing a screenplay based on the book to desist. ... He said his wife was a victim of acute alcoholism and that he "fought a long and lonely battle to save her." ... Churchill, in the wake of Leah Kelly's death, established a fund at CU for Rhonda Kelly's two children and contributed $200. ... "My sister Leah Renae Kelly had so much promise, but ... she instead turned to alcohol to escape the torment and humiliation in her marital home."

Controversy, or perhaps more accurately, acrimony, has been on Churchill like a cheap suit from the git-go. At least some of the accusations leveled against him received official cognizance from the University, which used the equal opportunity argument as a justification for retaining him, whatever he was and whatever he claimed to be.

"However, given the fact that equal opportunity is the law of the land and that positions in the public sector are to be awarded to all persons regardless of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and based only on their ability to do the job, the university does not believe that any attempt to remove Mr. Churchill because of his ethnicity or race would be appropriate. Even if Mr. Churchill is not an American Indian, as he claims, Title VII protects Caucasians as well as persons of color. Further, it has always been university policy that a person's race or ethnicity is self-proving. ... observation and self-identification are the most reliable indicators of one's racial grouping."

But allowing a person to adopt any race that he chooses makes a nonsense of racial preferences. There is an inner and inescapable logical contradiction between adopting a policy based on racial diversity and then making race, in turn, a dependent on some other variable. By transitivity, the policy based on 'racial diversity' would really be driven by this hidden variable, which is a function of 'consciousness'. In other words, 'racial diversity' becomes a dummy for ideological quotas. In plain English: "all your base are belong to us".

Friday, February 25, 2005

Ward Churchill's Art

This fascinating thread from the Freerepublic convincingly shows that Ward Churchill has been selling plagiarized art from Thomas Mails as original work on Ebay.

The item up for auction now is a very striking and impressive serigraph/lithograph by renowned Native American author and artist, Ward Churchill ( Keetoowah Band Cherokee). Churchill is Professor Emeritus of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, and is the Coordinator of American Indian Studies at the same institution. He is also Associate Director of the Center for Studies of Ethnicity and Race in America and Co-Director of the Colorado Chapter of the American Indian Movement. Additionally he is a member of the American Indian Anti-Defamation Council and the author of many books and scholarly publications

It is the same plagiarized work described in Little Green Footballs and further described by Colorado News4. The News4 man, Raj Chohan, confronted Churchill with a copy of his signed "original" artwork obtained from a buyer called Duke Prentup and was nearly punched for his trouble.

"Get that camera out of my face," Churchill said.

"This is an artwork we've got called 'Winter Attack.' It looks like it was based on a Thomas Mails painting; it looks like you ripped it off. Can you tell us about that?" Chohan asked.

That prompted Churchill to take a swing at Chohan while he held a stack of papers in his hand. The exchange continued:

Chohan: "Sir, that's assault, you can't do that. Can I ask you about this? It looks like you copied it."

Churchill: "I was just grabbed by the arm. And that (camera) gets out of my face."

Chohan: "Sir, we're allowed to take these pictures, this is a public space."

Churchill: "You're not allowed to grab be by the arm."

Chohan: "He didn't touch you sir, we've got it all on tape. Sir, this is called Winter Attack. It's a serigraph by you. It looks like it was copied from Thomas Mails artwork. Can we talk to you about that please?"

Freerepublic posters also discovered what may be more plagiarized Ward Churchill artwork, one of which is a copy of an historic photograph. Stranger and stranger.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Short of War

The peculiar problem facing US counterterrorism efforts in Southeast Asia, according to the Congressional Research Service paper Terrorism in Southeast Asia is that it cannot do so directly without offending regional political sensitivities. Thus the US has been forced to work through host governments even when the hosts are corrupt and inefficient. In the Philippines, for example, a constitutional provision prohibiting the presence of foreign combat troops has severely limited US ability to provide support for the Philippine military.

In consideration of the Filipino Constitution’s ban on foreign combat troops operating inside the country, Washington and Manila negotiated special rules of engagement ... U.S. Special Forces personnel took direction from Filipino commanders and could use force only to defend themselves.

The main focus of counterterrorism efforts has been the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group. But not only were US efforts to attack them directly hamstrung by the constitutional provision, but their key military allies were declared 'off limits' by Manila for political reasons. Two of the older-line Muslim insurgents groups, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), had long been the object of 'peace-making' efforts by left leaning groups in the Philippines. These groups have since loosely cooperated with the Abu Sayyaf and have provided them with sanctuary by merely rebranding them as their own personnel, placing them under the protection of the 'peace agreements'.

The U.S. focus on Abu Sayyaf is complicated by the broader Muslim issue in the southern Philippines, including the existence of two much larger groups, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Both groups have been in insurrection against the Philippine government for much of the last 30 years. The MILF, with an estimated armed strength of 10,000, has emerged as the larger of the two groups. Its main political objective has been separation and independence for the Muslim region of the southern Philippines. Evidence, including the testimonies of captured Jemaah Islamiyah leaders, has pointed to strong links between the MILF and JI, including the continued training of JI terrorists in MILF camps.... The MILF has had tenuous cease-fire agreements with the Philippine government. ... However, there continues to be evidence that the MILF provides training facilities to JI.

Nevertheless, US trainers managed to produce a force of 16 light infantry companies which could be deployed in an offensive capacity against the terrorists. It is worth noting that although the Philippine Army has nearly as many divisions as the US Army only the merest fraction of Manila's forces are available for offensive, the great bulk being passively scattered in garrisons and camps throughout the archipelago. In an earlier post, I had informally estimated that the Philippine Armed Forces could field approximately one brigade for two months without running out of ammunition, money and steam. Philippine government 'all out-war' campaigns have historically been limited to these parameters. In a sense, Manila must negotiate with the Muslim rebels because it has not had a military victory option available for the last forty years. While the Muslim insurgency was limited in scope that fact did not matter. Now that the insurgents have been souped up by Al Qaeda they may now pose an existential threat to Manila. The availability of 16 additional companies and US logistical, intelligence and fire support would have been transformative. But the capability can't be used, again due to leftist-inspired constitutional provisions.

The United States and the Philippines have attempted to negotiate a second phase of U.S. training and support of the AFP since late 2002. The negotiations have experienced difficulties in determining the “rules of engagement” for U.S. personnel and the terminology to be used in describing Philippine-U.S. cooperation. The basic issue has been whether any facets of the U.S. role could be considered a combat role. The two sides initially announced that U.S. training of AFP light reaction companies would take place in northern Luzon and again on Mindanao. The objective was to train 16 light infantry companies by the end of 2003 for use against both Muslim insurgents and the NPA. ...

In February 2003, Pentagon officials described a plan under which the United States would commit 350 Special Operations Forces to Jolo to operate with Filipino Army and Marine units down to the platoon level of 20-30 troops. Another 400 support troops would be at Zamboanga on the Mindanao mainland. Positioned offshore of Jolo would be a navy task force of 1,000 U.S. Marines and 1,300 Navy personnel equipped with Cobra attack helicopters and Harrier jets. ...

This and subsequent statements indicated that the Special Operations Forces on Jolo would participate in AFP offensive operations against Abu Sayyaf and that the Special Operations Forces would not be limited to using their weapons for selfdefense. The U.S. Marines were described as a “quick reaction” force, undoubtedly meaning that they could be sent on to Jolo to reinforce AFP units. The Cobra helicopters and Harrier jets would give AFP commanders the option of requesting U.S. air strikes in support of AFP operations or transporting Filipino troops on U.S. helicopters. ...

President Arroyo and AFP commanders reportedly had agreed to the plan for a second phase of U.S.-Philippine joint military activity in a meeting on February 4, 2003. The announcement of the plan caused immediate controversy in the Philippines. Filipino politicians and media organs criticized the plan as violating the constitutional prohibition of foreign troops engaging in combat on Philippine soil. Filipino Muslim leaders warned of a Muslim backlash on Mindanao.

American support would provide what would be a two-brigade Philippine force with exactly the complementary capabilities they would need: mobility, communications, combat logistics and fire support. They could actually pursue the enemy with greater agressiveness and confidence, in the assurance that US firepower could extract them from any tactically disadvantageous position. But military strategy must in this case, be subordinate to political feasibility. Recent attacks by the Abu Sayyaf on the Philippine capital itself may eventually start to turn the political tide as it becomes evident that the Philippines is already flooded with foreign combat troops -- supplied by the JI and Al Qaeda -- and that American support is actually required to repel an invasion. But things will probably have to get worse before the tipping point is reached.

Wrong But Right

You've heard of accurate but fake, Indian but White Man. But have you heard of right but wrong?  Hat tip to a great blog, The American Future, which is following events in Europe. They've spotted this gem of sophisticated thinking from the Guardian describing President Bush's recent European trip.

The transatlantic reconvergence, in other words, is for real. The problem is that its purpose remains both unstated and, even to those closest to the process, somewhat unclear.

Much of this is summed up in the current transitional fluidity over the politics of Iraq. The war was a reckless, provocative, dangerous, lawless piece of unilateral arrogance. But it has nevertheless brought forth a desirable outcome which would not have been achieved at all, or so quickly, by the means that the critics advocated, right though they were in most respects.

Historians remarked that the European upper classes never recovered their prestige after the blunders of the Great War. The idea that 'the public school men knew best' took a knock in the mud of the trenches. But it was not ignorance which was at fault; for that after all can be amended. It was the obstinate persistence in error, the steadfast refusal to learn that was really at the root of much of the tragedy. Those who will not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Second Front (Naval)

Austin Bay sends a link to an article he did for the Weekly Standard which describes some of the goals of Al Qaeda in Southeast Asia.

Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia lie first and foremost in JI's geo-strategic kill zone. JI (Jemaah Islamiyah) has large plans for the whole of Southeast Asia, plans dating from well before 9/11. Drawing on cadres schooled in past radical political movements that used Islam as both a wedge issue and a rallying cause, JI seeks to establish a grand "Islamic state" stretching from southern Thailand through Malaysia, the Philippine and Indonesian archipelagoes, and Australia. Indeed, JI produced a "green map" where the reach of sharia, as interpreted by JI leadership, extends into the Australian continent and New Guinea. Fanciful? Megalomaniacal? After 9/11 only the willfully blind can dismiss the motivating power of such an imperial eschatology.

At the time Bay was visiting Singapore, the JI was considering an attack on American naval targets as a demonstration of their power, the better to rouse the Muslim millions of the Southeast Asia.

The fast boat, packed with explosives and a suicide pilot, could slip from an inlet on the Malaysian side, gun its engine, whirl around an islet, perhaps Pulau Tekong, seeking the slate gray side of a carrier. ... An American officer familiar with U.S. Navy security concerns in southeast Asia first tipped me to the aircraft carrier scenario. "Singapore's a logical choice for a 'super Cole' operation, or something similar," he said. That was October 2001.

Their method emphasizes patience. A videotape captured in Afghanistan showed the surveillance of US naval targets in Singapore. Bay spoke to the director of Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies and asked how Al Qaeda could obtain the personnel to carry out this scheme.

"Jemaah Islamiyah in Malaysia. They are clever, yes. They have an education program. But their secret is no secret. It's money. Arab money. Saudi Arab money."

"Can you prove that?"

"Where else but oil does it come from?" he says. "I know what I am told. With that money they promote the Arabization of our Islam in Southeast Asia. Object and you face personal violence."

That money was used to good effect in the United States itself. The object was not to recruit a suicide attacker who would sink a supercarrier but merely to assassinate the American President. As Little Green Footballs notes, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the US citizen charged with conspiring to assassinate President Bush, was not simply "a former Virginia high school valedictorian" the regular newspapers make him out to be. The "high school" he attended was a Saudi funded madrassa called the Islamic Saudi Academy.

The Second Front

While the main focus of public attention has been on Iraq, the Congressional Research Service's Terrorism in Southeast (its an older version of the newest report a copy of which I can't find on the Web) reminds us the second front against terrorism is in Southeast Asia particularly "the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore".

Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States has considered Southeast Asia to be a “second front” in its global campaign against Islamist terrorism. ... Since the early-to-mid 1990s the Al Qaeda terrorist network has made significant inroads into the region. Al Qaeda’s Southeast Asian operatives -- who have been primarily of Middle Eastern origin — appear to have performed three primary tasks. First, they set up local cells, predominantly headed by Arab members of Al Qaeda, that served as regional offices supporting the network’s global operations. ... Second, over time, Al Qaeda Southeast Asian operatives helped create what may be Southeast Asia’s first indigenous regional terrorist network, Jemaah Islamiyah ... Third, Al Qaeda’s local cells worked to cooperate with indigenous radical Islamic groups by providing them with money and training.

The stakes on the second front are considerable. "By 2002, according to one prominent expert on Al Qaeda, roughly one-fifth of Al Qaeda’s organizational strength was centered in Southeast Asia." Most of the agitational activity has been carried out through Saudi funded madrassas, of which the pesantrens which largely hatched the Jemaah Islamiyah are are archetypical. At stake is what Ralph Peters called the "future of Islam".

We have been looking in the wrong direction, because that is where we have been conditioned to look. ... Our focus on the Middle East has been so exclusive that we have come to see Islam largely through an Arab prism. ... In terms both of population density and potential productivity, wealth, and power, Islam’s center of gravity lies to the east of Afghanistan, not to the west. The world’s most populous “Muslim” countries stretch far to the east of the Indus River: Indonesia, India, Bangladesh . . . Pakistan . . . and other regional states, such as Malaysia, make this the real cockpit of crisis.

Whatever the military gains in the area, "public diplomacy" still leaves much to be desired. The CRS report notes that "the United States’ popularity amongst Indonesians has dropped significantly in recent years. According to polling data, 79% of Indonesians had a favorableopinion of the United States in 1999, 61% did in 2002, and only 15% did in 2003. Another poll stated that 83% of Indonesians took an unfavorable view of the United States in 2003." Leftist pressure groups in the Philippines have effectively prevented the United States from training that country's army to the fullest or even an adequate extent. Whatever may be said of the "second front", it is not won. In subsequent posts, I hope to sketch out who the players are and what the dynamic of the struggle consists of.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Message is the Message

Oxblog reports news that should be surprising, but isn't. After all, consistency is an easier policy than rampant exceptionalism.

Not long ago, I criticized the US government for its silent response to an anti-democratic coup d'etat in Togo. Thus, I am indebted to JT for pointing out that the US has now cut off all military assistance to Togo and endorsed the tough sanctions imposed by the regional organization known as ECOWAS. After my initial criticism of the administration, one liberal realist chided me for assuming that this President literally intended to promote democracy across the globe. ... Yet it seemed that the White House has surprised all of us.

Everyone's Hour

What do these signals indicate? (Hat tip: The Freerepublic)

Paul Martin to announce that Canada sending 30 soldiers to train Iraqis

Canada will contribute up to 30 soldiers to a NATO-led force that will help train the new Iraqi army, senior federal officials confirmed Friday. The formal announcement will be made when Prime Minister Paul Martin gathers with other leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting Tuesday in Brussels.

EU to Open Baghdad Training Office; Officials Hail Unprecedented Unity Over Iraq

The European Union agreed Monday to open an office in Baghdad to coordinate the training of Iraqi judges, prosecutors and prison guards in a step hailed as a sign of unprecedented unity over Iraq within the 25-nation bloc. ... "We are for the first time really united on Iraq," said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. "That without any doubt is going to be very important to the meetings we are going to have ... with President Bush."

Bush, Chirac Call for Withdrawal of Syrian Troops From Lebanon

U.S. President George W. Bush and French President Jacques Chirac, meeting in Brussels before European Union and NATO summit talks tomorrow, called for Syria to pull its troops out of Lebanon. "We urge full and immediate implementation" of a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon, the two leaders said in a statement. "We have the same approach to the situation which is prevailing in Lebanon," Chirac said before a dinner with Bush. ...

Bush Suggests Chirac Is 'Good Cowboy' (Hat tip: The Vodkapundit)

Only months after he criticized countries "like France," President Bush was lavish in his praise of French President Jacques Chirac, one of the sharpest critics of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. "I'm looking for a good cowboy," Bush said Monday when a French reporter asked him whether relations had improved to the point where the U.S. president would be inviting Chirac to the U.S. president's ranch in Texas.

If there is something a little unseemly about the sudden cooperativeness of recently truculent friends, President Bush is making light of it. He has grown, in the best way, beyond the need to gloat. The dangers facing the world have not yet abated, but are starting to be recognized by allies who were hitherto too fearful or uncertain to look upon them. "This is not victory of a party or of any class." It is everyone's hour.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Many Partings

Put these together.

Hillary Clinton judges that the Insurgency in Iraq is Failing (hat tip: Austin Bay)

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said that much of Iraq was "functioning quite well" and that the rash of suicide attacks was a sign that the insurgency was failing. ... Clinton said the last time she visited Iraq in late 2003, she traveled to the Green Zone by road from the international airport. Today, security is so bad that none of the senators dared drive through Baghdad's streets, even in armored cars. Aside from the Green Zone, their only glimpse of the capital came from the relative safety of U.S. military helicopters that ferried them from the airport. "It's regrettable that the security needs have increased so much. On the other hand, I think you can look at the country as a whole and see that there are many parts of Iraq that are functioning quite well," Clinton said.

Powerline asks: is a Ba'athist surrender in the works? It provides two links. The first, "U.S. in Secret Talks with Iraqi Insurgents" describes alleged negotiations between elements of the Ba'athist insurgency and US officials.

U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers are conducting secret talks with Iraq's Sunni insurgents on ways to end fighting there, Time magazine reported on Sunday, citing Pentagon and other sources.

The magazine cited a secret meeting between two members of the U.S. military and an Iraqi negotiator, a middle-aged former member of Saddam Hussein's regime and the senior representative of what he called the nationalist insurgency.

"We are ready to work with you," the Iraqi negotiator said, according to Time.

Iraqi insurgent leaders not aligned with al Qaeda ally Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi told the magazine several nationalist groups composed of what the Pentagon calls "former regime elements" have become open to negotiating. The insurgents said their aim was to establish a political identity that can represent disenfranchised Sunnis.

The second link, "Sunnis Seek Place in New Iraqi Government" recounts the efforts by Sunni leaders to get on the train as it is leaving the station.

Gathering in a central Baghdad hotel, about 70 tribal leaders from the provinces of Baghdad, Kirkuk, Salaheddin, Diyala, Anbar and Nineveh, tried to devise a strategy for participation in a future government. There was an air of desperation in some quarters of the smoke-filled conference room.

"When we said that we are not going to take part, that didn't mean that we are not going to take part in the political process. We have to take part in the political process and draft the new constitution," said Adnan al-Duleimi, the head of Sunni Endowments in Baghdad.

The available data suggests that the Sunni insurgents are still capable of showing strength within their strongholds and menacing traffic on the Baghdad streets. However, even within their bailiwicks, their capabilities are not decisive. They have been unable to impede or even delay the political goals set by the US as evidenced by their failure to stop the January 30 elections. Moreover, they are unable to project any significant combat power in Shi'ite and Kurdish areas. Faced with the loss of oil revenues, a growing Iraqi security force and the gradual depletion of their stored weapons and suffering a terrible attrition rate their relative power is irretrievably on the wane.

Austin Bay recalls being in a Corps' Joint Operations Center(JOC) during his tour in Iraq and watching the computer display reel out what was effectively a gauge of enemy losses, ticking like a taximeter.

The biggest display, that morning and every morning, was a spooling date-time list describing scores of military and police actions undertaken over the last dozen hours, Examples: "0331: 1/5 Cav, 1st Cavalry Division, arrests two suspects after Iraqi police stop car"; "0335 USMC patrol vicinity Fallujah engaged by RPG, returned fire. No casualties."

The spool went on and on and on, and I remember thinking : "I know we're winning." ... Every day coalition forces were moving thousands of 18-wheelers from Kuwait and Turkey into Iraq, and if the "insurgents" were lucky they blew up one. However, flash the flames of that one diesel rig on CNN and "oh my God, America can't stop these guys" is the impression left in Boston, Boise, and Beijing.

The regular newspapers have in their own way chronicled the insurgency's decline. The new European friendliness towards the Bush administration; Kofi Annan's pitiful attempt to claim credit for the Iraqi elections; America's recent agressiveness towards Syria; Senator Clinton's newfound optimism; the Ba'athist recent despair -- each chronicles after its fashion the story of defeat -- though the reader is left to deduce who is defeated.

It will probably be many months before the insurgency finally flickers out. Attempts will be made to extend its life through negotiations to win breathing space, through renewed and ever more heinous attacks. Unexpected events or a blunder may yet breathe life into it. But for the first time since terrorist warfare was developed and perfected in the Algerian war it has met its match on the battlefield. The vanquishing arms may have been American, but the heart that drove it was in large measure Iraqi.

European Constitution Referendum in Spain

Franco Aleman at Barcepundit is blogging the referendum on the European Constitution.

The biggest fear by Zapatero's government is in case the voter turnout is really low, since the whole thing would be a real slap in the face of the Prime Minister utopian pro-European stance. A "yes" vote is virtually asssured, after the propaganda campaign (and I mean, propaganda) and since the main party in opposition, the right-of-center Popular Party is also for a yes vote. I guess they won't cry much much if the turnout is low, though.

According to Barcepundit's latest update, the initial exit poll stats are as follows:

Turnout -- 41%
Yes-- 77/80%
No-- 15/17%
Blank-- 5/6%

We Shall Overcome

Martin Peretz in Not Much Left says what many have been saying for a while: that Liberalism is out of ideas. The curious thing about his intelligent and literate essay is that he never manages to explain why this condition has taken place.

I think it was John Kenneth Galbraith, speaking in the early 1960s, the high point of post-New Deal liberalism, who pronounced conservatism dead. Conservatism, he said, was "bookless," ... At this point in history, it is liberalism upon which such judgments are rendered. And understandably so. It is liberalism that is now bookless and dying. ... Liberalism now needs to be liberated from many of its own illusions and delusions. Let's hope we still have the strength. 

Liberalism has lost its books because it has burned them. The campaign to dismiss Harvard President Larry Summers for remarking that women may have less aptitude than men for mathematics and sciences is a case in point. The Boston Globe reports:

Late yesterday, one of Harvard's most famous faculty members, law professor Alan Dershowitz, issued a statement backing Summers's presidency, in which he said the storm of opposition "sounds like the trial of Galileo. In my 41 years at Harvard, I have never experienced a president more open to debate, disagreement, and dialogue than Larry Summers," wrote Dershowitz, adding that "professors who are afraid to challenge him are guilty of cowardice."

Dershowitz noted that he disagreed with Summers's comments last month that innate differences might help explain why more men than women are top achievers in science and math, but he defended the university president's right to raise the proposition. "This is truly a time of crisis for Harvard," he wrote. "The crisis is over whether a politically correct straightjacket will be placed over the thinking of everybody in this institution by one segment of the faculty."

Paradoxically, dogmatism is rooted in relativism more than in the belief that real truth is discoverable. For as long as the truth is believed to be "out there"; it will be sought. When its existence is doubted none will venture into the dark. Under those conditions, we get exactly what Peretz describes: an illogical attachment to old formulations of the 1960s, which can be uttered only because they are hallowed.

It's much easier, more comfortable, to do the old refrains. You can easily rouse a crowd when you get it to sing, "We Shall Overcome." One of the tropes that trips off the tongues of American liberals is the civil rights theme of the '60s. Another is that U.S. power is dangerous to others and dangerous to us. This is also a reprise from the '60s, the late '60s. Virtue returns, it seems, merely by mouthing the words.

But when the world changes -- and it is no longer the 1960s -- Liberalism finds it that cannot, dares not utter anything new; and that is dangerous because it means inaction. Peretz scathingly describes how Liberals attitudes have buried themselves in a time capsule where blacks are forever to be maintained as objects of pity to be defended from Bull Connors. And where no real black Americans can be found to fit the bill, a mountebank will be produced.

The biggest insult to our black fellow citizens was the deference paid to Al Sharpton during the campaign. ... To him can be debited the fraudulent and dehumanizing scandal around Tawana Brawley (conflating scatology and sex), the Crown Heights violence between Jews and blacks, a fire in Harlem, the protests around a Korean grocery store in Brooklyn, and on and on. Yet the liberal press treats Sharpton as a genuine leader, even a moral one, the trickster as party statesman. ...

Any port in a storm, for the men without books, means anyone willing to destroy America. Not out of spite, though there is that, but out a twisted love because "U.S. power is dangerous to others and dangerous to us".

This leaves us with the issue of U.S. power, the other leftover from the '60s. ... Pose this question at an Upper West Side dinner party: What was worse, Nazism or Communism? Surely, the answer will be Nazism ... because Communism had an ideal of the good. This, despite the fact that communist revolutions and communist regimes murdered ever so many more millions of innocents and transformed the yearning of many idealists for equality into the brutal assertion of evil, a boot stamping on the human face forever. ...

It is typologically the same people who wanted the United States to let communism triumph--in postwar Italy and Greece, in mid-cold war France and late-cold war Portugal--who object to U.S. efforts right now in the Middle East. You hear the schadenfreude in their voices--you read it in their words--at our troubles in Iraq. For months, liberals have been peddling one disaster scenario after another, one contradictory fact somehow reinforcing another, hoping now against hope that their gloomy visions will come true. I happen to believe that they won't.

One senses in Peretz the momentary triumph of intelligence over loyalty. He understands the symptoms of the Liberal disease, but his uncertainty over the location of the tumor makes him hesitates to press down on the scalpel. But this does not stop him from denouncing the fake cures offered up by others.

And it is a condition related to the desperate hopes liberals have vested in the United Nations. That is their lodestone. But the lodestone does not perform. It is not a magnet for the good. It performs the magic of the wicked. It is corrupt, it is pompous, it is shackled to tyrants and cynics.

To be trapped in an intellectual desert with a faked lodestone and Al Sharpton for company -- if that were not bad enough -- there is the world phenomenon of Jihadi terrorism. Curiously absent from Peretz's essay is the long shadow cast by radical Islam on Liberalism itself. Islamism has already displaced Marxist Nasserism as the primary ideology of the Middle East and if demographic trends continue will displace the Left in Europe too. How will the aging men without books fare against the youthful adherents of the book which is the Koran? Will it still be possible for them to link arthritic arms and totter around in a parody of militancy?

Paradoxically, the only hope for Liberalism is to reject Liberalism itself. It must regain the idea that the truth is discoverable and not a matter of political correctness; and then a whole succession of insights will follow: who the enemy is; how he may be beaten; what the sound of children playing in the yard really means. For there is no guarantee that it not too late to beat back the tides of darkness; no assurance that we will ever regain the carefree life we took as given. But if Liberals can think again they can sing again, though it may not be "We Shall Overcome"; and however they meet their end it will be one of which books should be written.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Nonconfirmation of The Explosive Ambulance

Note to readers: I cannot find collateral confirmation of this incident described in The Explosive Ambulance reported in either Al Jazeera or Reuters. Moreover, there are no reports in DOD News Releases of casualties involved in an incident fitting the description of an attack by explosive ambulance. The New Sisyphus says it will post a link soon. Until then, the ambulance report is unconfirmed.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Response to Cardozo

Reader Cardozo asked in Oh Lord Won't You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz, a post which dealt in part with growing car-bomb making capability of terrorists in Southeast Asia, how to say a strange thing.

W: How do you say "Ich bin ein Israeli" in Tagalog? I hope they never have to learn that phrase, but should they have to, I hope they do.


I guess the sonorous way to say 'ich bin ein Israeli' in Tagalog is 'hindi kayo nag-iisa', which literally means 'you are not alone'. Of the course proper setting in which to say it is to imagine yourself in a low dive called the 'Boteng Umiilaw', a tin shack with packed dirt floors under a decrepit bridge by an open sewer in Vitas, Tondo. It would be lit by a 15-watt red-colored incandescent bulb. A really cheap sound system will be thumping out the guitar introduction to "Faithful Love" as wary stares are exchanged from bleary eyes all around. All the drinkers would be butchers in the municipal abbatoir located right over the fence, next to the sewer; their clothes stained with blood. When the inevitable fight breaks out the red bulb should be shattered by a thrown glass, but in the glow of the jukebox, you might see, as in strobe photography, the glint of balisong blades flashing open: some in a smooth overhand and others with a flip, twist and flip back. The man you came to see will be pinned in a corner and you will hear yourself saying, in a voice not quite your own, 'hindi ka nag-iisa'.

The Explosive Ambulance

The diploblog New Sisyphus asks why the sighted are blind.

We've just received word that Al-Jazeera ... has aired a videotape showing a suicide bomber ... driving a bomb-laden ambulance into a U.S. checkpoint in Iraq. Reuters is also reporting: "The videotape shows the person ... while preparing the booby trapped vehicle camouflaged as an ambulance with a number of explosive devices ... before ramming into a US checkpoint near the Iraqi-Syrian border."  The 47-second video can be viewed at Al-Jazeera's website.

So many on the Left seem to think that the enemy is a figment of a crazed-right-wing-maniac's authoritarian imagination. But, perhaps--just perhaps--the real problem lies in the Left's inability to see an enemy even when the enemy appears on television, explains that he wants to kill us and then proceeds to commit a war crime, all on tape.

First of all, New Sisyphus is wrong: the men shown on tape are not any sort of 'enemy'; they are brave militants and freedom fighters. A European court held that individuals charged with fighting US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are guerilla fighters resisting enemy occupation.

According to the magistrate, Clementina Forleo of Milan, even if it was proved that there were contacts between the accused and a paramilitary group nevertheless one could say at most that they were supporters of the guerrilla war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but that this did not signify that they were terrorists because there was an enormous difference between guerrilla action and terrorism. ... She makes an appeal to the United Nation's Global Convention on Terrorism of 1999 and affirms: "Violent or guerrilla activity taking place in the context of an armed conflict, even if conducted by armed forces different from institutional ones cannot be persecuted not even at the level of international law, unless international humanitarian law is violated."

What about the ambulance you say? Well what about it. A search on news at Google for 'checkpoint bomb ambulance' yields 4 hits, none of which relate to the incident, but a search on the keywords 'US torture' yields 10,400 hits. Except for the videotape the incident doesn't exist; it's gone, down the memory hole. And the sighted are blind.

Testimony Before Congress 2 described how intelligence estimates showed the War on Terror still expanding; that it was primarily an ideological war, a war of ideas. On that ideological battlefield, the Left is the most powerful ally of Sunni Jihadism, the fascism of our times. In that post I observed that "those being the stakes, it necessarily follows that the War ... will if it does not result in the triumph of Islam, mean the ruin of Sunni jihadism and its Leftist allies." One commenter called the observation a load of hooey and that is understandable; the Left has escaped the consequences of its words and actions for so long it scarce remembers they exist. Witness Lynne Stewart. The "Left's inability to see" -- is the product of their unshakeable belief in the immutability of their world whose safety is guaranteed by the very system they hate the most. In that make-believe garden, academic tenure, human-rights lawyers, newspaper articles and political correctness will always protect them. They are dimly aware of, but do not really believe in the existence an outside world governed by what Tom Friedman called Hama Rules, of which the explosive laden ambulance is a part.

When Syria's Baath regime feels its back up against the wall, it always resorts to "Hama Rules." Hama Rules is a term I coined after the Syrian army leveled — and I mean leveled — a portion of its own city, Hama, to put down a rebellion by Sunni Muslim fundamentalists there in 1982. Some 10,000 to 20,000 Syrians were buried in the rubble. Monday's murder of Hariri, a self-made billionaire who devoted his money and energy to rebuilding Lebanon after its civil war, had all the hallmarks of Hama Rules — beginning with 650 pounds of dynamite to incinerate an armor-plated motorcade.

Message from the Syrian regime to Washington, Paris and Lebanon's opposition: "You want to play here, you'd better be ready to play by Hama Rules — and Hama Rules are no rules at all. You want to squeeze us with Iraq on one side and the Lebanese opposition on the other, you'd better be able to put more than U.N. resolutions on the table. You'd better be ready to go all the way — because we will. But you Americans are exhausted by Iraq, and you Lebanese don't have the guts to stand up to us, and you French make a mean croissant but you've got no Hama Rules in your arsenal. So remember, we blow up prime ministers here. We shoot journalists. We fire on the Red Cross. We leveled one of our own cities. You want to play by Hama Rules, let's see what you've got. Otherwise, hasta la vista, baby."

The Left will wake up one day, on the morning it is led down a dark corridor to a cell floored with rubber mats, sloping curiously down to a corner where a single drain waits to carry fluid away. The walls will be bare but for a banner with the words 'Allah is Great' opposite a video camera whose tripod legs are protected with a drop cloth. On a table will be a single knife. And then they will know. Then they will see.

Note to readers: I cannot find collateral confirmation of this incident described in The Explosive Ambulance reported in either Al Jazeera or Reuters. Moreover, there are no reports in DOD News Releases of casualties involved in an incident fitting the description of an attack by explosive ambulance. The New Sisyphus says it will post a link soon. Until then, the ambulance report is unconfirmed.

Technical Problems

I am trying to resolve some technical problems with Blogger that appear to be associated with the template.

I've fixed things temporarily by dumping the old template. The new models are more concise, but whatever is parsing them didn't like my old legacy stuff. I think Blogger is having a hard time handling the archives now and republishing after adding to the Blogroll is killing. It may be time to move to another site.

The Ashoura Attacks Part 2

But aside from being the time of Ashoura, recent days in Iraq were filled with negotiation to form a government after the elections held on January 30. Although the Sunni party finished the election with only 5 seats it held the trump card of intransigence. The desirability of creating an 'inclusive' Iraq led Prime Minister Iyad Allawie to suggest that the Sunnis be mollified in part through concessions. This is a code word for spoils in exchange for desisting from violence.

Allawi told The Associated Press that the alliance must change its platform of purging Sunnis who were members of Saddam's Baath Party from government positions if it wants national unity. ''The alliance talks about de-Baathification. I hope if they get control and they're chosen to be the ones running the country, I sincerely hope that they revisit these issues in their program and re-discuss it with a view of having reconciliation and national unity,'' Allawi said. ''We cannot afford in this country, for now, to go on a route different to that of national unity,'' said Allawi, who spoke English in the interview. Otherwise, ''it will throw the country into problems, severe problems.'' The key challenge for the new government will be ending the insurgency that kills dozens of people every week. Most Iraqis say only negotiations will end the attacks.

What Allawi fears is that the currently elected politicians take their mandate at face value. The recent assassination of Lebanese politician Rafiq Hariri -- which interestingly enough may involve 12 Australians -- and the attack on Shiite worshipers during their holy days are reminders of the alternative Ba'athist method of bombing one's way into power. Even though the Ba'athists have no chance whatsoever of prevailing against the US militarily, they could plausibly hope to convince the Shi'ites and Kurds that attacks on them will not stop until Americans are evicted from Iraq; after which of course there will be even less to stop the Ba'athists from redoubling their onslaughts on these formerly subjugated peoples. Yet this tactic of intimidation has worked time and again: on Madrid; on Clinton and Carter by Kim Jong Il; on Manila by the Abu Sayyaf, so there is no reason to suppose it will not be tried again. John Lucaks book Five Days in London, May 1940 describes how Hitler came within an ace of intimidating Britain into submission without landing a single soldier on its shores. What he had not counted on was Winston Churchill -- his sheer obstinacy and singular inability to accept peace with a tyrant in preference to extinction in defiance. "Even as a quarter of a million British troops were being evacuated from Dunkirk, Churchill struggled to reverse the British government's policy of appeasement. In this, he faced opposition from several quarters, including prominent figures within his own Conservative Party." Samizdata argues that Britain was defeated  in the summer of 1940 and that Churchill, to his everlasting credit, tricked it into believing otherwise by holding up a mesmeric vision of itself. He snatched victory from defeat; let us hope that our generation will not find a way to do the reverse.

The Second Ashoura Attacks

They knew it was coming. The Scotsman reports:

Iraq partially sealed its land borders today as part of stepped up security on the eve of the holiest day of the Shiite Muslim calendar as violence persisted unabated around the country. Iraq's fledgling government is hoping to avert the bloodshed that marred Ashoura last year, when twin blasts ripped through crowds of worshippers at Shiite Muslim shrines in Baghdad and Karbala, killing at least 181 people.

The precautions weren't good enough. According to the UK Times, "As many as 30 people are believed to have died in an suicide bombing during Friday prayers at a Shia mosque in Baghdad today. A further 22 people have been wounded, although that total is expected to rise."

Ireland Online says the attack was carried out by a 'suicide bomber', and now a second attack has taken place.

"In the first blast this morning, a suicide bomber killed about 30 people when he blew himself up outside one of Baghdad's main Shiite mosques during Friday prayers, a National Guard officer said. The attack took place near the al-Khadimain mosque in the capital's Dora district, Lieutenant Ahmad Ali said."

These mirror the twin attacks on the same occasion last year which took the lives of 181 people. Much of the press at that time reported that Iraqis blamed America for 'failing to provide security'. A contemporaneous Christian Science Monitor article said, "many Shiites, reeling from the bloodiest day in Iraq since Saddam Hussein was toppled from power, were swift to pin blame on the US and 'outsiders.'" At the time the US suspected Abu Musab Zaraqawi of carrying out the attacks. It will be interesting to see what the reaction will be this time.

Although the loss of life has been heavy, it has not been as bad as the Ashoura carnage of 2004 -- so far --  possibly due to the precautions taken in anticipation.

The Hills of Lebanon

Reader DL sends a link to a Fouad Ajami article describing the effect of the Hariri assasination in the context of the history of Lebanon. Read the whole thing. But here are some excerpts.

A great, pitiless hoax was played on Lebanon. A country that had known the crosscurrents of the world, a place of culture -- French culture in east Beirut and the mountains, American culture on the western seaboard -- was to pass into the control of the conquering army of a brutal, backward regime. The Syrians had usages for Lebanon: There was money there for the Syrian kleptocracy, opportunities for drug dealings and contraband, a border from which the Syrians could wage intermittent little wars and deeds of terror against Israel, while maintaining the most quiet of borders on the Syrian-Israeli front.

Truth be known, this steady encroachment on Lebanon was aided and abetted by the silence of the world. In one of those astonishing changes, the Syrian arsonists had come to be seen as the fire brigade of a volatile Lebanese polity. A generation ago, the Pax Americana averted its gaze from the Syrian destruction of the last vestige of Lebanon's independence: In 1990-91, America had acquiesced when the Syrians put down the rebellion of a patriotic Lebanese officer, Michel Aoun, whose cause represented the devotion of the Christian Maronites to the ancestral independence of their country. That was the price paid by President George Herbert Walker Bush for enlisting Syria in the coalition that waged war against Saddam Hussein for his grab of Kuwait. Pity the Lebanese: They had cedars, Kuwait had oil. We would restore Kuwait's sovereignty as we consigned the Lebanese to their terrible fate in that big Syrian prison.

And remember, Assad was Hussein writ small.

Oh Lord Won't You Buy Me A Mercedes Benz?

A car bomb attack on the Marina Hotel in southern Thailand target suggests a new level of capability for Jihadis operating in that area. According to Bloomberg News:

The explosion occurred today at about 7 p.m. Bangkok time in the Sungai Kolok district of Narathiwat province, 1,150 kilometers (719 miles) south of Bangkok, Pracha Tayrat, the province's governor, said in an interview with Bangkok-based 96- Megaherz radio. The bomb was placed in a pickup truck in front of the Marina Hotel, he said. "The situation is worsening and becoming more violent with the use of a car bomb," Pracha said. "It's the first time that a car bomb was used in an attack, compared with motorcycles earlier. That will be hard to prevent."

The Thais had formerly feared only motorcycle-borne IEDs. According to the Boston Globe:

"We were paying attention to motorcycles because we thought they might use them as they have before. We never thought that Thais would have become this cruel. Such a car bomb here is similar to those in Iraq," Pracha said. ...

Officials said the bomb, estimated to contain about 220 pounds of fertilizer, exploded in a car behind a hotel in Sungai Kolok, a town near the Malaysian border whose bars and nightclubs are popular with tourists. "This is the first car bomb in the region after we defused a similar one made of a gas cylinder and fertilizer here two years ago," Narathiwat provincial governor Pracha Taerat told Reuters at the scene, littered with charred motorcycles and cars. Sungai Kolok police chief Surasak Rommayanont said four people died instantly at a noodle shop near the blast. A medical officer at the local hospital said more than 40 were injured. Fourteen were taken to hospital, but Pracha said one of them had since died.

Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss testified that Jihadists who survived Iraq would leave it "experienced in and focused on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a potential pool of contacts to build transational terrorist cells, groups, and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries" Whatever the provenance of the new technical sophistication of Islamic attackers in Thailand, it represents an advance in their capabiity to kill. Goss added that terrorist networks in Southeast Asia communicated expertise among themselves. The car bomb technology demonstrated in Thailand had every potential of diffusing regionally. "In Southeast Asia, the Jemaah Islamiya (JI) continues to pose a threat to US and Western interests in Indonesia and the Philippines, where JI is colluding with the Abu Sayyaf Group and possibly the MILF."

The Philippines was recently attacked by three separate bomb attacks on Valentine's Day. One of those was a motorcycle bomb. According to the BBC:

One of Monday's blasts happened in General Santos City, when a bomb destroyed a parked motorcycle taxi outside a shopping mall, killing at least three people. Almost simultaneously, a bomb exploded at a bus terminal in Davao City. A 12-year-old boy is reported to have died in the attack. About half an hour later, a third blast went off in the Makati business district of the capital, Manila, killing at least three people.

It is probably only a matter of time before car bomb attacks are made on cities in Thailand, the Philippines and Australia. It may be recalled that the Philippines withdrew its participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 in the expectation that it would be spared by the Jihadis. A contemporaneous account from MSNBC recalls the jubilation by official Manila after recalling their troops in exchange for the release of a Filipino hostage.

July 22, 2004 -- A Filipino truck driver who was released from captivity in Iraq after the government withdrew its troops a month early returned home to a hero's welcome Thursday. ... The Philippines drew sharp criticism from the United States and other allies over its decision to meet the demands of dela Cruz's kidnappers and withdraw a 51-member peacekeeping contingent from Iraq a month early. The move was branded a dangerous precedent that put other coalition allies in danger. Arroyo has said she does not regret her decision, and her spokesman claims her critics should appreciate that she had to put national interests first.

The recent attacks on the Philippines were accompanied by a demand for the release of Nur Misuari, who led a rebellion after having refusing to step down from office in an autonomous Muslim region when his term had expired. Having succeeded through intimidation in Iraq the Jihadis probably believed that bombs, which they described as a "Valentine's Day gift" would renew his term of office. Already the Filipino Peace Lobby is arguing that further concessions will buy "immunity" and are asking for Misuari's release as a 'confidence building measure'. Perhaps Arroyo now understands that immunity from the Jihad cannot be purchased except by ever greater measures of abjection and tribute: that neither being Buddhist Thailand nor being a 12 year old boy in Davao City makes any difference at all. In the meantime she will expect her ally the United States to stand firm beside the Philippines in the way that she would not. It is more than likely that Arroyo will appease the Peace Lobby and the Jihadis to buy another space of "peace".  It will not last. She should remember that the next Valentine's Day gift from the Jihadis will probably be a string of car bombs.

Testimony Before Congress 2

The testimony of various counterterrorism executives before Congress eloquently described the vast scope and comprehensiveness of the War on Terror. The testimony was distinguished by the emergence of a common nomenclature for the ideological enemy,'Sunni Jihadhism'; an appreciation that some form of WMD attack against the United States was being planned by the Sunni Jihadism (we are replacing the variable word "enemy" with a value now) and the appreciation that the nature of the struggle was total, especially in the ideological realm. And that struggle, far from slowing down, was still expanding.

Secretary Donald Rumsfeld provided the broadest description of the nature of the conflict and laid out what it took to defeat the enemy.

After more than three years of conflict, two central realities of this war are clear. The first is that this struggle cannot be won by military means alone. The Defense Department must continue to work with other government agencies to successfully employ all instruments of national power. ... A second central reality of this new era is that the United States cannot win a global struggle alone. It will take cooperation among a great many nations to stop weapons proliferation. It will take a great many nations working together to locate and dismantle global extremist cells. It takes a great many nations to gather and share the intelligence crucial to stopping future attacks. Our friends and allies are increasingly aware that the danger confronting America is at their doorstep as well, as underscored by attacks in Madrid, Bali, Beslan, Casablanca, Riyadh, Istanbul, and elsewhere.

What necessarily follows, though it was not specifically stated in the testimony, is that the consequences arising from the totality of the conflict will apply to the enemy as well. Defeat when it comes, will result in a loss to the vanquished proportionate to the scope of the war. To take one example, the Sunni jihadi WMD threat against America implicitly raises a corresponding threat against the Islamic world. Nuclear war, once started, means nuclear war against Sunni jihadism as well. Osama Bin Laden's wager on September 11 has been called and raised in Iraq. No one will walk away from the table in the state he sat down. It is already unlikely that Saudi Arabia will survive in its present form, as Porter Goss' survey suggests. One might add Israel, Iraq and Iran to the list of nations which will be radically transform by coming events as well. The truth of Rumsfeld's observation that the war against terror is largely an ideological battle can be seen in the effect it has had on Islam and the Western Left. The Sunni jihadis have long maintained that war will continue until the Islamic flag flew over Downing Street and the White House. Those being the stakes, it necessarily follows that the War, as described in the testimony of the counterterrorism executives, will if it does not result in the triumph of Islam, mean the ruin of Sunni jihadism and its Leftist allies. Vast changes have already taken place in the US and Europe, which we are reminded will be nothing compared with what is yet to come.

The Daily Demarche links to a Miami Herald piece focusing on the car-bombing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harari, showing how the law of unintended consequences sharpens -- always tends to sharpen -- the issues along the fault lines of the underlying conflict.

The Law of Unintended Consequences warns us to expect the unexpected. Prepare, then, for the unexpected to take shape as the shockwaves pushing out from the smoldering crater in Beirut recast crucial relationships around the world. Whoever orchestrated Hariri's assassination imagined the explosive event would produce results in accordance with a master plan. It is unlikely, however, that the master plan included strengthening the bonds between the United States and France. But closer ties between Paris and Washington will undoubtedly result from the Hariri murder.

The Daily Demarche observes that as each side blunders into each other in their own ways the nature of their antagonism is reshaped in the encounter. The vortex expands and acquires its own dynamic.

Message from the Syrian regime to Washington, Paris and Lebanon's opposition: "You want to play here, you'd better be ready to play by Hama Rules - and Hama Rules are no rules at all. You want to squeeze us with Iraq on one side and the Lebanese opposition on the other, you'd better be able to put more than U.N. resolutions on the table. You'd better be ready to go all the way -- because we will. But you Americans are exhausted by Iraq, and you Lebanese don't have the guts to stand up to us, and you French make a mean croissant but you've got no Hama Rules in your arsenal. So remember, we blow up prime ministers here. We shoot journalists. We fire on the Red Cross. We leveled one of our own cities. You want to play by Hama Rules, let's see what you've got. Otherwise, hasta la vista, baby.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Testimony Before Congress

The Counterterrorism blog links to the testimony of intelligence, finance, defense and military officials before Congress on the status of the War on Terror.

The intelligence testimony unanimously identifies the key threat to America as Al Qaeda and the 'Sunni Jihadist movement', referring to both in the same phrase as essentially comprising the same set; their choice of weapons a Chemical, Biological, Radiological or Nuclear (CBRN) attack on America. Operationally, they are adapting to the heightened  Homeland Security defenses using covert methods or under the guise of charities, religious organizations, academe and the like. The intelligence community unanimously believed that 'Al Qaeda' -- shorthand for the Sunni jihadist movement -- was successfully using US operations in Iraq to create a favorable political environment for their cause not only in the Middle East, but in Muslim communities and in the Left of center political spectrum. Great power rivals, although not directly in league with terrorists, could potentially use the threat of tactical collaboration with terrorist organizations to checkmate the United States as part of their national policy by providing the enemy with enabling technologies and weapons..

All in all, the intelligence briefings painted a picture of an enemy that had not yet realized its power potential. It had been stayed, but not fatally wounded. On the contrary, if it could overcome its disorganization and mend fences with enablers it could become even more dangerous. To illustrate the resilience of the enemy, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby described enemy forces in Iraq with these words:

"The insurgency in Iraq has grown in size and complexity over the past year. Attacks numbered approximately 25 per day one year ago. Today, they average in the 60s. Insurgents have demonstrated their ability to increase attacks around key events such as the Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) transfer of power, Ramadan and the recent election. Attacks on Iraq's election day reached approximately 300, double the previous one day high of approximately 150 reached during last year's Ramadan."

Yet it was not an invincible force, spreading like wildfire. It remained a curiously local devil, deriving its particular strength from the social soil of the area.

"The pattern of attacks remains the same as last year. Approximately 80% of all attacks occur in Sunni-dominated central Iraq. The Kurdish north and Shia south remain relatively calm. ... We believe Sunni Arabs, dominated by Ba'athist and Former Regime Elements (FRE) comprise the core of the insurgency ... collaborating, providing funds and guidance across family, tribal, religious and peer group lines.'

It was interesting that Porter Goss chose to characterize Iran as a WMD proliferation threat rather than as the direct source of a terrorist threat, reflecting perhaps not so much a different intent, as a different strategy of hostility towards the United States. Even more curious was Admiral Jacoby's intriguing reference to the Syrian WMD capability. "Longstanding Syrian policies of supporting terrorism, relying on WMD for strategic deterrence, and occupying Lebanon remain largely unchanged." Both Syria and Iran are depicted as having specific regional goals. Iran's objective according to Jacoby, is regional power. "Iran's long-term goal is to see the US leave Iraq and the region. Another Iranian goal is a weakened, decentralized and Shia-dominated Iraq that is incapable of posing a threat to Iran." A fairly sharp distinction is drawn between 'Al Qaeda or Sunni Jihadism', with its apocalyptic vision of an incinerated America, and the ambitions of Syria and Iran, which seek merely specific gain. Yet the threats of course, run together, with the suppliers of weapons and their users indistinguishable at the last.

Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Zarate's testimony takes us down from the heights of religious and geopolitical motivation to the way the enemy works. It is a world of crooked charities, suborned 'non-traditional' funds transfer systems, blackmarket currency exchanges, couriers and the trade in precious commodities. Author Douglas Farah described the workings of the Al Qaeda in the African gold, gems and precious minerals market.  These descriptions, far more than Koranic quotations and nationalistic rhetoric, describe the day-to-day working of the terror networks.

The transition from Farah's testimony to that of Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is somewhat startling for two reasons. First, the DOD .pdf files are the only ones formatted for copy-and-past operations, but more secondly, the testimony and its prequels raise the implicit question of how much of the War on Terror should actually be of a military nature. Rumsfeld addresses the issue up front.

After more than three years of conflict, two central realities of this war are clear. The first is that this struggle cannot be won by military means alone. The Defense Department must continue to work with other government agencies to successfully employ all instruments of national power. ... A second central reality of this new era is that the United States cannot win a global struggle alone. It will take cooperation among a great many nations to stop weapons proliferation. It will take a great many nations working together to locate and dismantle global extremist cells. It takes a great many nations to gather and share the intelligence crucial to stopping future attacks. Our friends and allies are increasingly aware that the danger confronting America is at their doorstep as well, as underscored by attacks in Madrid, Bali, Beslan, Casablanca, Riyadh, Istanbul, and elsewhere.

My own personal impression of the testimonies is that Rumsfeld alone, of all the witnesses, articulated a complete grand strategic view. In particular, he understood that the threat, so well described in component by the representatives of intelligence and finance, menaced the world  as a whole and not simply the United States and that it had been emerging over a long period of time.

Ours was a dangerous world in the years leading up to September 11, even though it might have seemed otherwise. Consider the world as it was on September 10, 2001. Terrorists trained and plotted in Afghanistan while America’s sworn enemy in Iraq sought ways to expand his power and regularly fired at U.S. aircraft patrolling in the Northern and Southern No Fly Zones. And the next day, on that bright September morning, 19 men killed over 3,000 people in the Pentagon, Lower Manhattan and Pennsylvania. The extremists continue to plot to attack again. They are, at this moment, recalibrating and reorganizing. And so are we. This thinking enemy continues to adapt to new circumstances. And so must we refocus our efforts to defeat a network dispersed across the world and which lacks a fixed territory to defend.

Against this menace, the United States had set the following counterstrategy in train.

The President’s strategy has been to create and lead an international effort to deny terrorists the resources and support they need to operate and survive. And since, ultimately, what they need to survive is the support of those who they can indoctrinate, this is an ideological battle as well. The strategy has three main components that require the support and coordination of all agencies of government and all aspects of national power:

  • First, defending the homeland: which has led to the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the National Counter-Terrorism Center, the military’s Northern Command, and this Department’s homeland defense division.
  • Second, attacking and disrupting terrorist networks: With the help of allies and partners the U.S. has had considerable success in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, Northwest Pakistan, and elsewhere. Some three-quarters of known al-Qaeda leaders have been captured or killed;
  • Third, countering ideological support for terrorism: This war has required not only the vigorous pursuit of known terrorists, but finding ways to stop extremists from gaining recruits and adherents. It is this ideological component, I suggest, that is the essential ingredient for victory.

Rumsfeld went on to describing the marvelous increase in American fighting capacity. The threefold increase in firepower; the 30% increase in available manuever brigades by restructuring the ground forces. He alluded indirectly to the increased offensive role of the Special Forces Command, “a sports car nobody wanted to drive for fear of denting the fender" now being utilized to its fullest extent -- a fact reflected in the statistic that its operating budget has doubled although it remains at virtually the same manpower strength. Nothing captured the global reality of the struggle more than the incessant movement of personnel. Sixty three thousand military personnel were in movement at any given instant to and from their duty stations somewhere on the planet.

Yet despite the successes of the military, Rumsfeld remained acutely aware that the decisive area of operations -- the political and cultural fields -- remained largely outside his remit. He ended his testimony with these words:

Terrorists have brains and use them. They adapt and improvise quickly. Despite the size of our bureaucracies, we must learn to be equally agile. Our enemies are nimble and media savvy, and through networks like Al Jazeera deliver their message undiluted to their target audiences. Victory in this global struggle will require a military configured and funded to defend against the security threats of this century, not the conventional battles or the conventional wisdom of the last.

It was a remarkably inarticulate peroration for a man who is anything but, and may have reflected the frustration of someone who knew that the decisive blows against the enemy were reserved for someone else; and those persons yet asleep and wholly unaware.