CBS is launching a new television series on Tuesday, March 7th at 2100 hrs ET. I have had the good fortune of previewing the pilot episode of this new show titled, The Unit.
It is fantastic! A must see and I predict will quickly become the hottest show on television. The show is based on the book Inside Delta Force, written by Command Sergeant Major Eric Haney, who I understand is also a consultant on the set.
The pilot episode was more than the just action packed adventures of special operators taking out the bad guys. It delves into the relationships members of the elite unit have with one another, and their families. It is exciting and heart wrenching at the same time. I highly, highly reccommend The Unit if your Tuesday nights are free. I have two more episodes to watch, Ill let you know how they are. Sgt Hook out.
...Gateway Pundit points to a new ad campaign being undertaken in Poland by an organization called the "Foundation of St. Benedictus" which calls attention to ordinary men and women being killed for religious reasons all over the world by a militant Islam. They are plastering posters on Polish public transportation.
The Cartoon Wars are not dead; they are just mutating in form at an increasing rate.
THE would-be ruler of an oil-rich Arab state is planning a policy reform that includes allowing girls to go to school and signing an oil contract with China. But days before he takes over, he is assassinated when a remote-controlled bomb destroys his bulletproof limousine in the middle of the desert. Who would want such an enlightened prince out of the way?
The answer given in "Syriana," the Hollywood blockbuster starring George Clooney, is simple: The murder was planned and carried out by the CIA, the dirty-tricks arm of the United States of America.
But why would the Americans want an enlightened Arab leader murdered at a time that President Bush is publicly calling for such leaders to emerge in the Arab world?
Again, the scriptwriters' answer is straightforward: the U.S. government is controlled by Texas oil interests that cannot allow any Arab state to sign an oil contract with China.
I saw the film in New York last month and did not expect a pirated videocassette version to be already available throughout the Arab world. Yet, in the past week or so, I have received more than a dozen e-mails from Arab friends throughout the Middle East citing the film as (in the words of one) another "sure proof" that the United States will never tolerate democratic leaders in that neck of the wood.
THE old saying tells us that one can never convince anyone who doesn't wish to be convinced. The makers of "Syriana" are preaching to the converted, if only because an extraordinarily large number of Arabs are comfortable in the certainty of their victimhood. Long before "Syriana" hit the screen, those Arabs were convinced that whatever misfortune has befallen them is due to some conspiracy by a perfidious Western power.
In North Africa, where France ruled for more than a century, every shortcoming, and every major crime, is blamed on the French. From Egypt to the Indian Ocean, all was the fault of the British . . . until the Americans emerged as a more convincing protagonist in the fantasyland of conspiracy theories. In Libya, where Italy ruled for a while last century, even the fact that the telephones don't work in 2006 is blamed on the Italians.
Would it change anything if one were to remind the conspiracy theorists that none of the two dozen or so high-profile political murders in the Arab world over the past century had anything to do with the United States or any other foreign power?
Start with the murder last February of Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's former prime minister. Was he killed by the CIA or as Abdul-Halim Khaddam, Syria's former vice president, now asserts by a criminal coterie in Damascus?
The list of Arab leaders murdered since 1900 is a long one. It includes six prime ministers, three kings, an Imam (of Yemen), seven presidents of the republic and dozens of ministers, parliamentarians and senior military officials. Every single one of them was killed either by Islamist militants (often from the Muslim Brotherhood) or by pan-Arab nationalists.
THAT many Arabs should welcome the suggestion that their tragedies are due to evil doings by foreigners may be understandable. It is less understandable when so many Americans come together to make a film to portray their nation as evil incarnate.
"Syriana" is not only about a single political murder. It also depicts the United States as the power behind much of the terrorism coming from the Middle East. The film shows U.S. oil companies as employers of Asian slave labor, while the CIA is the key source of supply for bombs used by terrorists.
Why would any self-respecting American want to write or direct or play in "Syriana"? If the United States is as evil as they suggest, should they not be ashamed of themselves? And if the oil companies control the U.S. government, presumably including Congress, should we conclude that Hollywood is the last bastion of American freedom?
One answer to why anyone might want to make such a film is, of course, the very American desire to make money. As things stand today, there is a large market for dissent in the United States. In a recent trip there, I noticed that unless you took a dig at the Americans no one would even listen to you. In one session, when I politely suggested that George W. Bush might be a better choice than either Mullah Omar or Saddam Hussein, I was nearly booed by my American interlocutors.
The truth is that there is a market for self-loathing in America today and many, including the producers of "Syriana," are determined to cash in on it.
Here is how the incomparable Evelyn Waugh described the present American situation when the makers of "Syriana" were still nothing but glimmers in their daddies' eyes: "There is no more agreeable position than that of dissident from a stable democratic society."
The reason is simple: In a stable democratic society in which you are protected by the law you can lie, cheat and mislead, all in the name of political dissent, and be rewarded with fame and fortune.
The fact that the CIA is little more than a costly leaking device used by rival groups within the U.S. establishment to launch accusations and counter-accusations at each other need not bother the makers of "Syriana." The CIA's masters, for their part, would be pleased with "Syriana" if only because it claims that they can do anything at all.
AS for the American self- loathing party, its members would do well to ponder the second part of that quotation from Waugh: "The more elaborate the society, the more vulnerable it is to attack, and the more complete its collapse in case of defeat."
The self-loathing party in the United States, which includes a disturbingly large part of the elite, is doing three things.
First, it says that America, being the evil power it is, is a legitimate target for revenge attacks by Arab radicals and others.
Second, it tells the American people that all this talk about democracy is nonsense, if only because major decisions are ultimately taken by a cabal of businessmen, and politicians and lawyers in their pay.
Lastly, and perhaps without realizing it, the self-loathing Americans reduce the Arabs to the level of mere objects in their history. In the "Syriana" view, it is the almighty America that decides every single detail of Arab life with the Arabs as, at best, onlookers and, at worst, victims of American violence. The Arabs are even denied the dignity of their own terrorist acts as "Syriana" shows that it is not they but the CIA that decides who kills whom and where.
Pretending to be sympathetic to the "Arab victims of American Imperialism," the film is, in fact, an example of ethno-centrism gone wild. Its message is: The Arabs are nothing, not even self-motivated terrorists, but mere puppets manipulated by us in the United States.
By suggesting that America has stolen Arabs' oil and their decision-making process, the filmmakers are, in fact, trying to rob the Arabs of something more important: their history.
The amazing thing is that so many Arabs appear to be ready to help the thief.
OR perhaps it is not so amazing after all.
Adversaries in history often end up resembling each other. So it need not be surprising that the Arabs are learning the art of victimhood from the Americans, while the Americans develop a taste for Arab-style conspiracy theories.
Iranian author Amir Taheri is a member of Benador Associates.
"Would it change anything if one were to remind the conspiracy theorists that none of the two dozen or so high-profile political murders in the Arab world over the past century had anything to do with the United States or any other foreign power?"
"The truth is that there is a market for self-loathing in America today and many, including the producers of "Syriana," are determined to cash in on it."
Bingo. Equal benny: serving the interests of anti-Americans everywhere. They're not just craven in their greed, but in their self-hatred and hatred of the very freedom which allows them to produce such Stalinist drivel.
That they are "racist" in patronizing the "little brown people" is a consistent standard of the LLL.
Victimhood is the operative behavioral mode of the Blame Society - most common in Arab culture, but a learned taqiya skill across all of Islam.
President Bush, for the first time, is hailing the rise of the alternative media and the decline of the mainstream media, which he now says conspired to harm him with forged documents. I find it interesting that the old way of gathering the news is slowly but surely losing market share, Bush said in an exclusive interview for the new book Strategery. Its interesting to watch these media conglomerates try to deal with the realities of a new kind of world.
The only problem with that is that us new media depend on the old media to gather the actual raw news. I say good riddance to the pseudonews organs, but there are also real reporters out there, and they should be considered a precious resource.
For example, journalist Dan Rather was forced out of his anchor chair at CBS News after bloggers revealed he had used forged documents to criticize Bushs military record in September 2004. The forgeries, which Bush now calls a conspiracy, ended up helping his re-election campaign, he acknowledged in the Oval Office interview.
Bush is merely being accurate in his terminology. It's hard to accidentally forge documents. You can misinterpret, you can be wrong in your analysis, but when it comes to actually typing up what you want to report you're conspiring. By the way, whatever happened to Lucy Ramirez? I was so looking forward to hearing from her.
It looks like somebody conspired to float false documents, he said. And I was amazed about it.
"I couldn't believe they'd be that stoopid. Normally, when somebody's hatching that sort of a plot they preserve some sort of plausible deniability. Rather really led with his chin!"
"I just couldnt believe that would be happening [and] then it would become the basis of a fairly substantial series of news stories.
"I said, 'Rove, you're a friggin' genius!' Imagine my surprise when he told me they'd done it themselves, without his help!"
He added: Then there was a backlash to it. I mean, a lot of people were angry that this could have happened. A lot of Americans are fair people and they viewed this as patently unfair. So in a funny way, I guess it inured to our benefit, when it was all said and done.
"So all I have to say is, 'Thanks, Dan. You really hosed that one, didn't you?' Oh, and a big 'Thanks!' to Mary Mapes, too. Dan couldn't have done it without her help."
The episode, known as Memogate, inoculated Bush against further scrutiny of his National Guard record for the duration of the presidential campaign. It also, frankly, gave us an opportunity, frequently, when things came out in the media that we didnt believe or didnt like, to say, Its another CBS story, said Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, who was the presidents campaign manager. I mean, it gave us a serious response to bad news.
"Talk about political manna from heaven! We were rollin' in it!"
Memogate was initially expected to harm the president, but it ended up backfiring spectacularly on the press. The guy that it hurt most was Dan Rather and the executives at CBS, said White House strategist Karl Rove in an interview for Strategery.
"Nurse! Bring the oxygen tank! Karl's talking about Rather, and he's lost his breath laughing again!"
It further disgraced a network which is third in ratings and, if you look at the demographics of their consumers, its like 70 percent Democrat. Rove said Rathers eagerness to broadcast obviously forged documents proves he is no serious reporter. As for Rathers insistence, to this day, that the documents are real, Rove said: Thats really bias.
"Or maybe wishful thinking. Nobody takes him seriously anymore since he move to Lalaland."
Memogate has helped accelerate the decline of the mainstream media, generally defined as CBS, NBC,ABC, The New York Times and other establishment news outlets. There has been a corresponding rise in popularity of the alternative media, which includes free daily newspapers, the Fox News Channel, talk radio, the Drudge Report Web site and a host of Web logs, or blogs.
Keep in mind that with the partial exception of Fox News, all of those sources use raw news provided by AP, AFP, Rooters, and UPI. Even when we're mining the foreign press, much of what we bring back we could have taken from the day's wire service story. Asharq al-Aswat, KUNA, Beirut Daily Star, and Pak Daily Times actually carry news before it hits the wires, but if we didn't mine them most of what we carry would eventually end up there, if a bit garbled.
I think whats healthy is that theres no monopoly on the news, Bush said. Theres competition. Theres competition for the attention of, you know, 290 million people, or whatever it is. And the amazing thing about this world we live in is that theres a kind of free-flowing, kind of bulletin board of ideas and thoughts out there in the ether space, sometimes landing on somebodys desk and sometimes not, but always available. Its a very interesting period. Having long been pilloried by the mainstream media, Bush now finds the rise of the alternative media nothing less than revolutionary. Its the beginning of the 21st century; it also happens to be the beginning of or near the beginning of a revolution in newsgathering and dissemination, he said. Not
in newsmaking that tends to be pretty consistent.
Translating the hodge-podge of press releases that are the raw material of most news becomes the hard part. Even as a hardworking member of the alternative media, I don't have that much patience. I could maybe handle the part about hanging around the bar in a hotel in Baghdad drinking gin and tonic, and maybe the part about occasionally riding around with the infantry and taking notes, but not the press releases."
Rove considers Memogate a watershed in the rise of the alternative media.
"That was where an entire industry shot itself in the foot and then ignored the bleeding. It was wonderful!"
The whole incident in the fall of 2004 showed, really, the power of the blogosphere, he said in his West Wing office.
Charles Johnson, take a bow!
Because in essence, you had now an army of self-pointed experts looking over the shoulder of the mainstream media and bringing to bear enormously sophisticated skills. Still, Rove cautioned that the Internets political potential has a darker side. There is so much ugliness and viciousness and fundamental untruths that the blogosphere transmits, he lamented. It also is a vehicle for ugly rumors, for scurrilous personal attacks, an avenue for the creation of urban legends which are deeply corrosive of the political system and of peoples faith in it.
Simple solution: if they don't source their stuff, you can ignore them. There's no reason bloggers should be held to a lower standard than the mainstream press. A fair bloc of it holds to a rather higher standard, and hopefully will continue to do so. Given time, the sourced version like Rantburg, but also like LGF, Roger Simon, Donald Sensing, Belmont Club, Bill Quick, Kathy Kinsley, Glenn Reynolds, and hundreds of others, will stand in contrast to the fairy tale venom sites. Drudge takes a lot of heat for his occasional inaccuracies, but his stuff looks pretty good when compared to some of the corkers that have appeared in the MSM, quite aside from the obviously egregious Rathergate affair.
Rove said Rather and his producer, Mary Mapes, were gunning for the president and trying to help his challenger, Sen. John Kerry, by broadcasting the forged documents in the heat of the presidential campaign. From her body language and his body language, their enthusiasm for this story was in large measure fed by the belief that they were playing a constructive and perhaps determinative role in the presidential campaign, Rove said of Mapes and Rather. They made a decision in this instance I think quite prematurely and quite unfairly to pursue a story that attacked the president. And I thought it was, to me, one of the most incredible examples of how fundamentally unfair it was.
"Then it blew up in their faces. It wasn't one of those little blowups that you can explain away, a few bits of egg on your face but your dignity still intact. This was the big blowup, where the entire nation was watching while a handful of bloggers pulled their pants down and shoved them over in the schoolyard. Not only did they get dirt rubbed in their faced, but the bloggers made 'em cry. Kinda makes you just smack your lips and say "Yes! There is a God! And one of his commandments is not to bear false witness! And he does have a sense of humor!'
Rove expressed astonishment that CBS ignored the warnings of document experts hired by the network to authenticate the National Guard memos. It goes back to the failure of the mainstream media, in this instance, to honor their own experts, he said. Rove is not the only senior Bush adviser who considers the mainstream media biased against the conservative president. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card was outraged that the TV networks refused to declare Bush the winner on Election Night, even after all the votes were counted in the pivotal state of Ohio and it became obvious Kerry could not win. Some of the talking heads, Card said, were rooting for a crisis in Ohio. It wasnt just that they were afraid to admit we had won. Card became particularly incensed when Bushs Ohio lead reached 120,000 votes, which was mathematically insurmountable. Nobody wanted to call it so that we had won, he said. It was like, cmon,are they just afraid to say it?
This piece really needs to be quoted at length. VDH is absolutely brilliant:
Last week the golden dome of the Askariya shrine in Samarra was blown apart. Sectarian riots followed, and reprisals and deaths ensued. Thugs and criminals came out of the woodwork to foment further violence. But instead of the apocalypse of an ensuing civil war, a curfew was enforced. Iraqi security forces stepped in with some success. Shaken Sunni and Shiite leaders appeared on television to urge restraint, and there appeared at least the semblance of reconciliation that may soon presage a viable coalition government.
But here at home you would have thought that our own capitol dome had exploded. Indeed, Americans more than the Iraqis needed such advice for calm to quiet our own frenzy. Almost before the golden shards of the mosque hit the pavement, pundits wrote off the war as lost--as we heard the tired metaphors of "final straw" and "camel's back" mindlessly repeated. The long-anticipated civil strife among Shiites and Sunnis, we were assured, was not merely imminent, but already well upon us. Then the great civil war sort of fizzled out; our own frenzy subsided; and now exhausted we await next week's new prescription of doom--apparently the hyped-up story of Arabs at our ports. . . .
If many are determined to see the Iraqi war as lost without a plan, it hardly seems so to 130,000 U.S. soldiers still over there. They explain to visitors that they have always had a design: defeat the Islamic terrorists; train a competent Iraqi military; and provide requisite time for a democratic Iraqi government to garner public support away from the Islamists.
We point fingers at each other; soldiers under fire point to their achievements: Largely because they fight jihadists over there, there has not been another 9/11 here. Because Saddam is gone, reform is not just confined to Iraq, but taking hold in Lebanon, Egypt and the Gulf. We hear the military is nearly ruined after conducting two wars and staying on to birth two democracies; its soldiers feel that they are more experienced and lethal, and on the verge of pulling off the nearly impossible: offering a people terrorized from nightmarish oppression something other than the false choice of dictatorship or theocracy--and making the U.S. safer for the effort. . . .
By Alan Oxley From Tech Central Station
Like Bono, Oxfam has discovered there is pop fame in the aid business. The political chic this gives Oxfam is invaluable. The G8 meeting in Gleneagles, Scotland last year and the worldwide Live Aid concerts put Oxfam second only to Bono for global poverty cool. The timing was handy because it overshadows a significant, recent failure another less-publicized program (driven by politics) that would make many of Oxfam's mainstream backers uncomfortable if they knew the details. It's all about "feelings" don't ya know.
Oxfam's pop trick is "Cold Play", the only other British pop band since the Beatles to crash first releases onto the US Top Ten. Cold Play's lead singer, Chris Martin, is new generation pop glamour. He is married to Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow. He has marked himself as an anti-globalization rebel by attacking the shareholders in the recording company which made him very rich, calling them "greedy". Oxfam is his charity of choice. It gets plugs from the stage at Cold Play concerts worldwide and free entrée on global tours to sign up people to its anti-globalization "Make Trade Fair" campaign. Typical LLL disconnect---make your fortune from the very people you want to destroy later.
Oxfam has successfully parlayed its pop glam into political influence. It conscripted Tony Blair to endorse its campaign to shift the blame for economic disaster in many poor countries, particularly in Africa, from corruption and callous incompetence of its leaders, to the failure of rich countries to provide aid. Blair ran Oxfam's lines at the G8 Summit last year i.e. pressing for more aid, a soft line on free trade, and debt forgiveness. Last year Oxfam turned over around US $300 million, the biggest earner being its British parent. Bottom line: It's all about money. Follow the money trail.
Running alongside Oxfam's programs to reduce poverty, its soft side, there is a hard political side -- "advocacy" programs. This is NGO code for political activism. They are not commercially important to Oxfam's soft side programs, but motivate its more hard core workers and are evidence of a deep anti-private sector (even anti-growth) sentiment in the Organization.
The core of Oxfam's political platform is human rights. It aims to "empower" people in poor countries. This sounds good, but it is high risk. It requires Oxfam to take sides and can lead it into unacceptable company. When does today's union activist in Peru become tomorrow's Shining Path Maoist revolutionary? Or today's social worker in Palestine, tomorrow's supporter of terrorism? Careful aid agencies shirk these risks. Not Oxfam. It has been enmeshed and doesn't seem to mind. The Institute of Public Affairs in Australia has revealed that Oxfam has supported radical groups in both Palestine and Indonesia.
The global mining industry is a special target for Oxfam's advocacy program. Mining does not restrict human rights. But it is a good target for Oxfam's ideologues. They are big first world businesses in the third world. Mining has significant local impact and offers good opportunities to play up environmental effects and local discontent. Oxfam's pitch is that it does not oppose mining, just the effects of mining.
But it has no problem working with Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth who do oppose mining; the latter have a strong record of fomenting discontent in Third World countries. All collaborate in campaigns to block financing of mining projects in developing countries by the World Bank and other development finance institutions. Oxfam has created an additional niche for itself. It claims to be the world's global "Mining Ombudsman". There's gold in them thar hills, and with a mining boom comes the necessary ombudsman, i.e., the Jesse Jackson of the mining industry.
Oxfam in Australia provides the "Ombudsman" and presumably appropriated the concept from Australian practice where Ombudsmen are established in law to provide neutral hearings to any party aggrieved by government administration. No global government appointed Oxfam. There isn't one. That's pretty good. Appoint yourself ombudsman, pass out a fee schedule, or maybe just a bill from time to time.
Oxfam doesn't need that form of legitimacy, NGO political ideology is enough. It goes like this: in today's globalized world, multinational companies are unaccountable so it falls to NGOs like Oxfam, to keep them accountable. This nonsense is even taken seriously at the annual Davos big business talk-fests. The same thing goes for Oxfam. Who keeps them and other NGOs accountable? The UN? Heh.
Oxfam has a third string in its bow, not only activist and grievance board, it is also in the business of facilitation. It offers to help mining companies (to deal with local community groups) and community groups (to deal with mining companies). We're here to help you!
Get the picture? Oxfam promotes local "empowerment", (and works with others that encourage local communities to be dissident), offers a supposedly neutral corner to hear problems between international companies and local communities and offers to facilitate contact between the parties; on a good day, securing funding from the companies concerned (not the community groups, they usually don't have any) to fund this activity. It's all about money.
What a tangled web that is and sure enough Oxfam snared itself. It put its multi-functional capacity on show at the Tintaya copper mine, the third largest in Peru. Tintaya generates significant benefits to Peru. From the time it was developed by Magma, a US company, Oxfam US had hounded the company about the consequential environmental and social impact of its operations. BHP Billiton, one of the world's biggest mining companies, based in Australia, took over the mine when it purchased Magma.
Oxfam Australia offered itself to the company as the party able to manage and broker the complaints by local groups about the mine. It was after all the global "Mining Ombudsman". We can provide references, too!
An expensive (to the company) process of consultation was established. Commissions of enquiry into complaints about environmental damage, social impacts, sustainability and abuse of human rights were established. By Oxfam's own accounts, the complaints against the company (fostered by its US counterpart) were found baseless or insignificant. The complaints are baseless. Here is the bill for our findings.
But Oxfam were unable to deliver peace. Other local groups, not within Oxfam's range of influence), raised fresh complaints about the mine and sought unreasonable payments from the company (such a increasing the US$1.5 million dollar contribution to the local community to US$20 million). Oxfam peevishly grumbled in its reports that these groups were undermining the process of consultation it had established . Yer getting onto our turf, buddy.
Oxfam was not in a strong position to complain. You can't be both Ombudsman and activist. When entirely new complaints were produced by locals (not connected with the Oxfam process) about a new tailings dam, Oxfam gave them currency. The supporter of empowerment found itself in conflict with its commercial role as mediator and its self-appointed role as Ombudsman.
Oxfam got itself in this mess because of the political values that drive Oxfam's advocacy activities. They are antagonistic to the private sector, urge global regulation of trade in commodities, and oppose intellectual property rights. Consistent with the political methodology of the old European left from where these values come, the operating principle is that the ends justify the means. In other words, anything goes. Worked so far until we got our a$$es in a crack.
The best we can hope from this is that Oxfam's remarkable capacity to mobilize public opinion and money might come to be regarded by its managers and funders as more important than the political ideology which drives the organization's darker activities. And, with luck, they might even spare a thought for the development benefit to poor countries like Peru of big private sector projects like Tintaya.
But this will only occur when those who contribute to Oxfam are no longer dazzled by the glam or amused by the radical cool and hypocritical chic of Chris Martin's anti-business ranting. Hey Hey! Ho Ho! These NGOs have got to go! Oops, got carried away at the demonstration. My bad.
Posted by: Robert Crawford ||
03/01/2006 12:59 Comments ||
It is not a matter of whether or not Islam "can" (or will, or wants to, or whatever) reform itself. Either it reforms itself or Islam will be cauterized excised from our planet's culture like the cancer it is.
Mansour's 3-point plan for reform was very weak and I think he realized it. The first point was to figure out how to defang the Koran (he doesn't even acknowledge the historical attempts at this). His second point was to modernize the defanged Koran. His third point was to get a lot of moderate muslims in high level administration positions (i.e., affirmative action).
Here was the guts of this 3rd point,
"..Raise the profiles of and give responsibility to American Muslims who seek reform within their religion. Give them positions of meaningful responsibility that enable them to be real messengers and agents for change, not by preaching but rather by the force of their examples in serving this great nation. If we had an American Muslim FBI director, or the deputy Defense secretary was a Muslim by faith, or one day we had an American Muslim secretary of State, these officeholders would do a world of good by setting an example of how secularism, tolerance and belief can coexist, much the same way Condi Rice and Colin Powell did for black people everywhere in diffusing race as a factor in service to our country. But we cannot have just one or two. Zalmay Khalilzad and Fareed Zakaria and Mansoor Ijaz are Uncles Abdullah, Asim, and Arif --the three stooges who don't represent Islam, but rather seek to ingratiate themselves with the vested interests who seek to destroy Islam. We are seen as apologists, not agents of change. We need hundreds, even thousands to rise into positions of real responsibility, to make this part of the strategy work.."
yes, in order to move our society forward, we will take backward thinking people and elevate them to positions of power.
I'm all for giving a voice to Muslims who wish to defang the Koran and move forward into this century. But even the moderate Muslims are still centuries behind when it comes to ideals of freedom. Positions of power, I think not.
Serial rapists envy United Nations peacekeepers. And who could blame them? Most rapists do not get to police their own crime scenes, food to trade for sex, diplomatic immunity and indifference from the people supervising them.
Sexual abuse charges against U.N. peacekeepers remain high due to the organization's "culture of dismissiveness," according to Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid al-Hussein, Jordan's U.N, ambassador. He thinks it could take three to four more years for a reform program to take hold. Potential rape victims in the world's hot spots will have to be patient.
There have been allegations against 295 troops, police and other U.N. staff. So far, 170 have been sent home or dismissed: 17 civilians, 16 police officers and 137 military personnel (six of them commanders).
U.N. peacekeepers and staff in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, have been accused of rape, pedophilia and enticing hungry children with food or money in exchange for sex.
Jean-Marie Guehenno, the U.N. peacekeeping chief, said that "We are making headway in laying the foundation for the prevention of the problem in the long term."
In plain English, everyone will have to be very, very patient. If the U.N is incapable of stopping its own personnel from abusing the people they are there to protect, what is it capable of doing?
A program to assist the victims soon will be proposed, Mr. Guehenno said. Knowing that something soon will be in the U.N. pipeline to help them should be great comfort to the victims regardless of the decade in which the abuse happened.
This had been one of the U.N.'s dirty little secrets for decades until news reports two years ago about the disgraceful behavior of the peacekeepers forced the U.N. to act -- or more accurately, to act as if something actually is being done about sexual abuse other than having U.N. bureaucrats study the problem into perpetuity.
Legal experts still are not quite sure how to deal with rapists who have a U.N. license to rape ("diplomatic immunity"), or which entity -- the U.N., the countries where the abuse occurred, or the governments providing the troops -- has the right to prosecute.
Hussein admits that it is hard to change the U.N.'s culture of dismissiveness that has "long developed within ourselves, in our countries and in the mission areas."
The U.N. has 18 peacekeeping missions and more than 85,000 people on staff from more than 100 countries. How many have been victimized by U.N. personnel while you have been reading this is anyone's guess. How many of its victims' accusations will be dismissed by the U.N. also is anyone's guess.
To put this monstrous criminal enterprise in perspective, let's pretend the United States was responsible for this madness instead of the United Nations. Instead of the crime scenes being (among other places) in West Africa or the Congo, let's say they were at Abu Ghraib prison or the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. And let's say it lasted days instead of decades.
How many of the U.N.'s 191 member nations would have been horrified and outraged? How many would have demanded that the abuses end instantly, that the criminals be punished and that victims get compensation?
Why does the United States remain in the United Nations?
If this was the only aspect of the UN which deserves our spurning them and withdrawing, it would be enough.
I guess the problem is that, when there are sooo many aspects of it which are dumbfoundingly corrupt, broken, dysfunctional, pointless, anti-Freedom, duplicitous, and grossly ineffective - it's just too much for many people to believe.
The UN has evolved into the most fucked thing ever invented by man.
As the United States and Iraq approach the third anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, it might do all Americans well to take some time out and reflect on how we got where we are, as well as where we are going in Iraq and the Middle East as a whole.
Gone forever is any talk of song and flowers, economic recoveries paid for by Iraqi oil, or a blooming democracy in the cradle of civilization. The state of affairs between the Bush administration and the newly elected government of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari is strained, to say the least, with the United States threatening to cut off aid to Iraq, and Iraq telling the United States to "butt out."
Nearly three months have passed since the "historic" elections of December 2005, and the Iraqis have just now selected a prime minister (Jafari, a Shiite Islamic fundamentalist closely allied with Iran), and seemed hopelessly deadlocked on the issue of forming a government that will not promote an immediate outbreak of sectarian violence once formed.
The Sunni insurgency is stronger than ever, and Shiite death squads roam the street in the guise of government police and soldiers. Torture, rape and murder are rampant as official tools of government suppression. And American troops appear to be powerless to stop this mindless slide into the abyss, all the while being killed and maimed for a cause that has always been nebulous.
"Duty," "honor" and "country" mean little when the majority of the American citizens supposedly being served by the ongoing occupation of Iraq are more interested in "American Idol" than the process of bringing peace and stability to ancient Babylon, or when American politicians seem content to continue to allow the men and women who honor our nation through their service to die while those in power grasp for a politically face-saving way to "solve the Iraqi problem." And herein lies the problem: We continue to try to solve a problem we have yet to define, meaning we are seeking a solution to nothing.
America continues to pretend that we are building something of value in Iraq. And yet, common sense dictates that when one seeks to build on a corrupt foundation, whatever it is that is being constructed is doomed eventually to collapse. Our nation's involvement in Iraq is based on as corrupt a foundation as imaginable. We didn't go to war for sound national-security reasons (i.e., a threat that manifested itself in a form solvable only through military intervention), but rather for domestic political reasons based on ideology that exploited the fear and ignorance of the American people in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, world.
In the topsy-turvy world of domestic American politics, this reality continues to fail to resonate. Those who opposed the invasion of Iraq continue to be demonized and marginalized, while those who supported it are embraced and applauded.
This "through the looking glass" quality in the American body politic not only hamstrings the nation collectively on the issue of solving the Iraq problem, but also continues to distort reality when dealing with other emerging problems confronting our country and the world, such as the looming crisis with Iran over its nuclear programs.
Even as we fail to grasp the lessons of our unraveling failure in Iraq, we seem to be moving full steam ahead into a similar catastrophe in Iran, making the same mistakes by embracing a threat model (nuclear weapons) void of any hard evidence, and promoting a solution (democracy) that is undefined.
If the upcoming leather anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq tells us anything as a nation, it is that we are in desperate need of a national "time out" when it comes to the issue of Iraq, Iran and the global war on terror. We need to learn the lesson that every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine serving oversees knows only too well you don't reinforce failure.
If our politicians, Republican and Democrat alike, are unable or unwilling to engage in a rancor-free discussion about where we as a nation are heading when it comes to issues of war and peace, then perhaps we the people should engage in one of our own, and in the process establish agreed-upon principles and standards that not only would serve as a solid foundation upon which to build any future endeavors in the Middle East and elsewhere, but also set forward values and ideals that could be used to hold to account those whom we elect to represent us in higher office.
Scott Ritter is a former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq (1991-1998) and Marine Corps intelligence officer. He is the author of "Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the U.N. and Overthrow Saddam Hussein," published by Nation Books.
Scott Ritter is a former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq (1991-1998) and Marine Corps intelligence officer. He is the author of "Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the U.N. and Overthrow Saddam Hussein," published by Nation Books.
They left out the movie he made with Saddam's money.
Posted by: Robert Crawford ||
03/01/2006 15:40 Comments ||
I guess you either believe that freedom works, or you don't. It's interesting to see which side of the line some people fall into. Not that I ever had a doubt about this ass clown.
Also the author of "Endgame, Solving the Iraq Problem," Simon & Schuster, which most thought went a little too far in revealing US intelligence sources and methods. Scottie is a klingon wannabee with an ego as big as Texas. I can only hope he is doing poorly.
Your editor has just returned from another month in Iraqmy fourth extended tour in the last two and a half years. During November and December I joined numerous American combat operations, including the largest air assault since the beginning of the war, walked miles of streets and roads, entered scores of homes, listened to hundreds of Iraqis, observed voting at a dozen different polling sites, and endured my third roadside ambush. With this latest firsthand experience, here are answers to some common queries about how the war is faring. Quite long, see at link.
Although this is written in a dreadfully low-key tone, it nails the issues surrounding Iraq to the barn door and ever-so-quietly proves MSM reportage to be little more than the partisan sham we lament here at the 'Burg.
I guess it would be a very effective piece for those who perceive themselves as intellectuals or academics (who haven't succumbed to BDS - are there any left?). Please, pass the link along to those who might fit that category.
Thx, a5089 - a very thoughtful piece, if a bit phlegmatic to my ear, lol. ;-)
People who followed Middle East news in 2000 cannot forget the image of Muhamed al Durah, gunned down in a hail of Israeli bullets at the very beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada. The impact of this dramatic footage on global culture is close to incalculable. Its prominence goes far beyond any other image from this terrible conflict and its impact goes far beyond any of its other images, one of the most powerful images of the past 50 years, one of the shaping images of this young 21st century. One extreme claims that it reveals Israeli malevolence and wanton violence, deliberately targeting a defenseless child and killing him in cold blood. In killing this boy the Israelis killed every child in the world (Osama bin Laden). The other side claims that it was either staged or a snuff film that reveals the ruthless and paranoid nature of PA media culture the first blood libel of the 21st century. Even-handedness Who knows who did it? Its a tragedy doesnt work here. If we hope to learn anything from this terrible event, it will come from examination. We put the evidence before you and the five possible scenarios with arguments for and against. Judge for yourself.
Movies links at sidebar. See also main page, for some interesting material on "Pallywood".
Very recommanded, as the Netzarim crossroad shooting was/is the iconic symbol of the "al aqsa intifada"(tm), and a powerful propaganda coup for the jihadi mvt.
A small group of Israelis and Palestinians, including senior and retired security officials, academics and political activists, were invited by IPCRI, the Israel Palestinian Center for Research and Information, to discuss the status of the two states for two peoples idea following Hamas' victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections.
Dr. Riad Malki, the head of the Panorama Research Institute in Ramallah, surveyed the political situation in the territories and presented the new reality materializing there. Without anyone realizing it, the West Bank and Gaza Strip are being transformed into two separate entities.
"Israel's decision not to allow passage of Hamas ministers between Gaza and the West Bank has far-reaching ramifications," Malki pointed out. "The significance is that prime minister designate Ismail Haniyeh and most of his ministers will be Gazans, and the Gaza Strip will be transformed into the Palestinian Authority's main headquarters. The important decisions will be made there and most PA activities will take place there. The government offices, located in Ramallah, will be run by deputy ministers."
Even though PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas can access both regions - unlike Haniyeh, who is not permitted to enter the West Bank - Fatah is likely to lose what little remaining influence it has in Gaza. In Malki's forecast, when Gaza is transformed into Hamastan, the West Bank will be transformed into Fatahland. Over five years of assassinations and arrests have diluted the Hamas leadership in the West Bank and swung the balance of internal power within the organization in favor of the Gaza Strip. The institution of the presidency is now essentially being transformed into a source of power, a mini-state, a counterweight against the government, says the Palestinian researcher, a man with access to the political corridors of power. Therefore, he is willing to bet that Fatah will not be tempted by Hamas' offer to join its government. At most, a few party activists will join the Haniyeh government under the guise of being "independents."
According to Malki, associates of Abu Mazen are now working on entrenching his status through legislative and practical means, such as command of the security apparatuses and the administrative offices, as well as control of ties with the international community, the Arab world and Israel. Hamas' refusal to recognize the state of Israel will turn Abu Mazen's office into the only address for foreign leaders coming to visit the territories. Every photo of a meeting between Abu Mazen and a foreign dignitary will further highlight Haniyeh's isolation.
Eventually, I expect that despite their not wanting to do it, most likely the Gaza Strip will return to being a protectorate of Egypt. There will be some harumphing about self-autonomy, but for all intents and purposes, Gaza will have to be controlled.
For this to happen, there will need to be some catastrophic happening, but what and how much would be needed for the Egyptians to send in their army is anyone's guess. It would also have to be closely coordinated with Israel.
Iran Focus has obtained exclusive information from a reliable source in Iran throwing light on sleaze at the senior echelons of officialdom in the Islamic Republic.
The source has provided Iran Focus with a list of senior officials of the clerical regime and the personal fortune each one has amassed. Most of these officials have risen from lower middle class backgrounds to fabulous wealth gathered through corruption and embezzlement.
At eighth place is Ali Jannati, son of powerful cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati and a senior official in Irans Interior Ministry. The Jannati familys private wealth is estimated at two trillion Rials, the equivenlt of $220 million. Senior cleric Ahmad Jannati is the head of the powerful Guardians Council and a close advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
At seventh place is Ayatollah Abolghassem Khazali, former member of the Guardians Council. The powerful council whose members are handpicked by the Supreme Leader is comprised of six clerics and six senior judges and has the power to veto any Majlis legislation. Khazalis estimated wealth is 2.5 trillion Rials, the equivalent of $275 million, coming mostly from sea trading, paper imports, and book sales.
At sixth place is Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, Irans former Judiciary Chief and another member of the Guardians Council. The senior clerics estimated wealth stands at three trillion Rials, the equivalent of $330 million.
At fifth place is Iraqi-born Ayatollah Mohammad-Ali Taskhiri, who for years headed the Islamic Culture and Communications Organisation (ICCO). Since 1995, the ICCO has been active in exporting fundamentalism and propaganda directed against Iranian dissidents outside of Iran. Khamenei himself is in charge of the organisations policymaking council and its meetings are held at his residence. Adding up the lands in his name and his cash flow, Taskhiris personal wealth is above three trillion Rials, the equivalent of $330 million.
Number four in Irans rich list is Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, Speaker of the Assembly of Experts, the exclusively clerical body that designates the countrys Supreme Leader. In a country where many of the theocracys ruling elite are in-laws, Meshkini is father in law to Mohammad Reyshahri, the Islamic Republics first Minister of Intelligence and Security. Meshkinis personal wealth, coming in from mostly sugar trade and the industrial-scale printers, is well above three trillion Rials, the equivalent of $330 million.
Well ahead at third place is the former Commandant of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Mohsen Rezai. Rezai, a close aide to former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, has amassed a personal wealth of six trillion Rials, or $660 million. While at the top of the IRGC, Rezai was known by many titles ranging from Major General to darsadgir General (literally, the general that takes commissions).
Number two on the list of officials who have become notoriously rich is Ayatollah Vaez Tabasi, known widely as the Sultan of Khorassan. Vaez Tabasi and his children have amassed an estimated fortune of seven trillion Rials, or $770 million. Their income primarily comes from sugar trade and the sale of real estate in Irans central Qods province.
At the top slot comes, unsurprisingly to Iran observers, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, whose family rules over a vast financial and business empire. From the pistachio farms of his hometown Rafsanjan to huge oil trading companies, the ruling theocracys former president has used his power and influence to expand his wealth. Conservative estimates put his fortune at well beyond the 10 trillion Rial mark, the equivalent of $1.1 billion.
Most of the powerful clerics enormous wealth is vested in the hands of his sons and daughters, as well as other close relatives such as his brothers, nephews, and bother-in-laws, and son-in-laws. One of his villas was sold in 2004 for roughly 29 billion Rials. His brother, Mohammad Hashemi, the former chief of the state broadcasting corporation, owns the company Taha, which imports industrial-scale printers.
The image of rich ayatollahs driving around in bullet-proof Mercedes has become the butt of many jokes and the cause of much resentment in a country where, according to World Bank figures, the per capital income has fallen to a fifth of its 1970s value. Despite Irans huge export revenues and unexpected surpluses from the giant oil market jumps in recent months and years, the countrys budget is constantly in a state of flux showing no signs that it will sustain any time soon, inflation is at 16 percent and rising, and the economic growth rate is projected to fall throughout 2006.
With the Cartoon Wars giving way to the ports imbroglio, Jim Geraghty, blogging from Turkey, wonders if we're seeing a tipping point in Western attitudes toward Islam. Geraghty collects a lot of quotes, and writes of "my sense that in recent weeks, a large chunk of Americans just decided that they no longer have any faith in the good sense or non-hostile nature of the Muslim world. If subsequent polls find similar results, the port deal is dead."
Tipping Point? Yup, the undercurrent of popular US opinion is there. Now all it takes is some Islamist to walk into a mall and let loose with a machine gun to put the entire US war machine into high gear. I hear people toss off the "just nuke'em all" line far more often then I did even after 9/11. Liberal Muslims better wake up soon and start solving THEIR problem before they all wind up in concentration camps.
Geraghty's point -- is that Democratic politicians who have generally opposed "racial profiling" are nonetheless opposing the ports deal because, basically, the company involved is an Arab company.
Yes, but this guy forgets that the dimocrats cant make a logical argument about anything. All they can seemingly do is take a diametrically opposed position to everything Bush does. They don't have any answers, ideas or willingness to work with the admin. on anything, but they are the first ones to bitch.
Don't bet on it. As significant factions in the West DO begin to get fed up with islam, there will be an even greater concerted effort by others to push back and be our "conscience." For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is true in human endeavors as well.
The West is plagued by too much empathy. What these do-gooders don't realize, is that islam does not see the world as the west does. The most cited example is when westerners see a suicide bombing as a final, desperate act that only a person with no other choice could possibly consider and islam sees it as a statement of faith.
So our empathy is misguided and misplaced. And dead wrong.
You may be correct PD, but the Hildabeest is trying to run to the right of GWB on the WoT. Politically, she can ignore the moonbats because she knows that they would NEVER vote for a Republican. I am concerned that she might be elected by conservatives annoyed with the course of the war.
She would kill a lot Muslims without second thoughts if she thought it would help her politically.
I used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War Two. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.
"Very few people were true Nazis" he said, "but, many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories."
We are told again and again by "experts" and "talking heads" that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace.
Although this unquantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is, that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars world wide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard quantifiable fact is, that the "peaceful majority" is the "silent majority" and it is cowed and extraneous. Rest at link.
I would agree with this, but add two points. The first is that radical minorities are most susceptible to argument by members of the reasonable majority. That is why radicals hate moderates more than their official "enemy"; even respecting their radical enemy more than their moderate allies. They know where their radical brethren are coming from.
The reason for this is that moderates and radicals compete to sway the majority to their way of thinking. Radicals must maintain a monopoly of speech, must stop the moderate voice, or they lose the popular opinion.
The second point is that the radicals must always use the majority as "shields" when fighting their enemy. Because there are so few real radicals, the loss of even a few is devastating to their radical cause. But they can lose countless numbers of the majority and not be bothered.
So a good strategy, when fighting a majority led by a radical minority, is to come up with some way of bringing the true radicals to the front lines and exterminating them. Far sooner than if you had to fight your way through the majority, the loss of their radical minority will cause their resistance to collapse.
For example, in the WoT, the US has gone to lengths to attract radicals willing to fight, to pitched battles with our soldiers. This both takes them away from the majority they could radicalize, and has them concentrated for easy killing, *and* has them fighting our soldiers rather than our civilians. We win three ways.
That sounds really good, Moose. It just isn't working out that way because you ignore The Rule: Muzzy First.
This Rule overrides all other considerations in Islam. Siding with the infidels against the pious?
Nope. Not happening. The evidence proves it.
The "moderates" are, indeed, utterly irrelevant in defeating the "radicals". Change the verbiage to be "active" and "passive" and it reflects the reality far better.
Just my long-considered opinion.
I won't ask you to bring me evidence of a moderating influence effectively turning the borderline Muzzy away from active status - that would be unfair. But I can say that until I see "moderates" actually fighting, not writing English language coffee table books which merely flirt with the idea of Islam being hi-jacked, but actually fighting the jihadists, then it's just wanking, at best, and taqiya, at worst.
M³= Mythical Muslim Majority. The M³ are totally dominated by the islamofascists
The only thing that will counter it is a vice like grip on the islamofascists balls (yes that means killing them too) where ever they are. Plus more steady presure like this other anti-totalitarian political and social pressure on the M³. That might get us through this without having to wipe everyone holding their religious philosophy out. Time is running out and the hour is getting late. Other pressures are building that may just make option #9 the only one.
History bears me out. In Islam, every now and then, some small group of fanatics goes on a tear. They may go it alone, or they may inspire the majority for a while; but in the long run, either the fanatics get killed, or the whole thing just runs out of steam. It just doesn't have "legs".
So then what happens? is the big question right now. Typically in history, they just settle down for a generation, then start cutting up rough again. And since we don't want to have to repeat ourselves, our big alternative is getting them on the secular democracy bandwagon.
Secular democracy is the damndest thing, as relates to people. We will not live long enough to know if it re-writes the whole Moslem world paradigm. But I hold high hopes.
Much of why their religion is obnoxious is the pre-governmental systems in it. Tribal laws, Sharia and other crap like that *was*, way back when, better than chaos. But right now, in Iraq, even tribal leaders are seeing that democracy is light years ahead as a better mousetrap, and even they hope that Iraq evolves democratic government instead of the old ways.
The Moslem world is both terribly stagnant and building up intolerable pressure for change. If they can get that change in a good way, most of their impulses for obnoxiousness will disappear.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.