Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Creative Wins MP3 Patent Fight

Never heard of Pocket Lint before, but this sure is an interesting story about iPods and other MP3 players.

New Orleans Paper Predicted Flooding

You can read the 2002 Times-Picayune series mentioned in today's Wall Street Journal here.

And here's todays' flood coverage.

How to Help Hurricane Katrina's Victims

Instapundit has posted a list of websites for charities that are trying to help. (ht Little Green Footballs)

Free Judy Miller

I don't often agree with the New York Times editorials, but on this one, we're on the same page. Judy Miller interviewed me during the NEA debate, and she was 100 percent accurate, a good and honest reporter. If she's not going to crack, and she seems like a tough cookie, what's the point, exactly?

The French Were Right...

This article from 2003 by Paul Starobin seems worth a second look.

The Times of India: Looting, Rioting in New Orleans

The Times of India headline about Hurricane Katrina reads: "Looting, rioting in storm-ravaged New Orleans."

Yushchenko Condemns Kiev Attack on Yeshiva Students

The Guardian quotes Yushchenko's condemnation of the recent skinhead attack near the Central Synagogue School in Kiev:
"Such incidents are unacceptable in Kiev and Ukraine...I will persistently ask all authorities to work hard to prevent any shameful reoccurrence.''

According to the story, Ukrainian authorites now admit the attackers appear to be members of "a skinhead nationalist group."

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Starbucks Fights for Russian Trademark Rights

The Moscow Times has this story, that explains why there were no Starbucks in Moscow when we lived there this past winter. We wondered how it could be, since there were reportedly thousands of Starbucks in China. Turns out that a trademark dispute has held up the company's Moscow plans for several years. As a result, the only Starbucks coffee is found in Mariott hotels; and the only place a Starbucks could legally open would be in the US Embassy--because it is officially American territory. The case is winding its way through the Russian courts, Starbucks v. 000 Starbucks (the Russian company that claims the rights). It seems to be a matter of $600,000, not principle, so perhaps they'll find grounds for a settlement...

Another Iraq Blog

Seraphic Secret tipped us off to Michael Yon's reporting from Iraq...

John LeBoutillier on Iraq

He's worried:
Did US troops fight and die so that a Muslim Theocracy could be imposed in Iraq?

Our whole adventure in Iraq is an example of American intervention run amok. It is why true conservatives never liked the notion of a pre-emptive invasion and we don't believe in 'nation-building.'

We have ended up having the President of the United States calling Abdul Aziz Hakim, the head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and asking him to undo a previous Bush de-Baathification Plan that Bush himself ordered 3 years ago!!! And Hakim is so pro-Tehran that he actually fought on the side of Iran against Iraq in the 1980's!

Iraq is a mess - and no fancy-pants words from Washington are going to change that reality. We have - through the ignorance of a naive and arrogant President with no foreign policy background or understanding - unleashed a monster in Iraq: fundamentalist Islam.

Ironically, it is this strain of Islam that attacked us on 9/11. And we have now helped it advance through the Middle East by handing it another nation - Iraq - in which to establish itself.

The Weekly Standard at 10

Peter Carlson celebrates ten years of The Weekly Standard in today's Washington Post:
Without a doubt, the most important idea yet advanced by the Standard came in the essay 'Saddam Must Go,' written by Kristol and Robert Kagan and published in November 1997. The idea was: Hey, let's invade Iraq, conquer Baghdad and overthrow Saddam Hussein for expelling American weapons inspectors.

At the time, nobody paid much attention to the suggestion. But five years later, President Bush dusted off the idea and ordered the Pentagon to execute it. And, as we all know now, it worked perfectly.

Or maybe not. You make the call.
I mixed feelings on this anniversary, since my own Weekly Standard memories are bubbling up, and I am certainly no longer a neoconservative, if I ever had been tending that way. In fairness, Bill Kristol has always been nice to me. When I last saw him, at the Kennedy Center revival of Gian Carlo Menotti's opera, The Consul, he was perfectly friendly. And from time to time I link to some interesting articles they have online. So my perspective on this anniversary illustrates the cliche that success has a thousand fathers.

A decade ago, I actually discussed the prospect of a new conservative magazine with Bill Kristol. At the time, the National Review published bi-weekly, so by the time it arrived the articles were often out of date. Commentary was a monthly, so really couldn't deal with breaking news. Bill's father had a couple of publications that were also slow to appear, namedly the Public Interest and the National Interest. Even David Horowitz's Heterodoxy was a monthly. On the other hand, The Nation and New Republic came out weekly. Therefore, they seemed to have a timeliness that conservative magazines lacked. So I suggested that any new magazine should not be a monthly or a bi-weekly, but come out weekly, to give liberal journals of opinion a run for their money. He said nothing, but when it came out, it was "The Weekly Standard." Of course, others might have had similar ideas.

The second point I made, and this may have been to someone else involved in the early days, regarded the so-called "back of the book". At the time there was reportedly a debate among the founders, over whether there should be any cultural coverage at all--or just policy oriented serious news and analysis. I believed the back of the book was the most important part of any magazine, that many readers of the New Republic or the Nation read the book reviews, movie reviews, and art reviews, even when they weren't interested in a political question. Since there was a shortage of respectable places that would, for example, review conservative books, or art exhibits, or films, I thought the new publication might provide such a venue. Again, the magazine ended up with a substantial back-of-the-book section, that Peter Carlson called "consistently literate, readable and intelligent. Its cultural essays are excellent." Again, I'm sure I wasn't the only one with this idea, just that I weighed in, as a kibitzer, at an early stage.

Carlson praises writers Andrew Ferguson and Matt Labash, and I have a story there, too. I had my first contact with Ferguson when he was researching an article about Bill Moyers, before I came to Washington. He interviewed me on the phone. Later, he would call from time to time when he was doing a story, as would other Weekly Standard writers. Ferguson is a former speechwriter for President Bush (41) and a funny guy. So, when my PBS book came out, and no review appeared in the Weekly Standard, I called him. Oh, he said and paused, and then added something like, so many books come out, we can't review them all...

I cancelled my subscription.

Bend It Like Beckham

Speaking of beautiful girls...just saw Bend It Like Beckham (2002), made by the husband-wife team responsible for Bride and Prejudice, Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges. The film is sort of a peep-and-giggle view of women's soccer, showcasing both Indian and English beauties. It has many of the same themes of East meets West, as Bride and Prejudice. There is, as well, similar family dynamic: domineering mother vs. kindly father dealing with problem children. It seemed more calculated, and the montage sequences were pedestrian than the Bollywood-style musical numbers in Bride and Prejudice. Yet, it also had a nice feeling, wasn't ugly or mean, and brought a tear to the eye. The all-star cast was fun to watch, though Juliet Stevenson may have had too much plastic surgery. Can't wait to see what Chadha and Berges do next...

Russia's Beautiful Girls

Stop the presses! The Wall Street Journal has discovered that Russian women look marvelous. But what Edvard Radzinsky isn't telling is that young Russian beauties somehow evolve into tough old Russian babushkas, the kind of women who can force even President Putin to back down--as he did, after protesting pensioners blocked streets in Moscow and St. Petersburg earlier this year...

Ukrainian Attack on Yeshiva Students

During Kiev's "Orange Revolution," Russian media commentators raised charges that neo-Nazi elements were involved, saying that it might lead to a revival of World War II-style Ukrainian nationalism and neo-Nazism. We were living in Moscow then, and watched the old newsreel footage shown on TV of Ukrainian SS men committing atrocities.

At the time, Westerners dismissed such dire scenarios as Russian propaganda.

Now comes news that there may have been something to worry about in Ukraine. Haaretz reports an attack on yeshiva students in Kiev. The official police line is that the incident was not ant-semitic, that the yeshiva boys provoked drunks, who then attacked them. On the other hand, Jewish leaders say it was unprovoked skinhead violence.
Zilberman said that Jewish residents of Kiev continuously encounter acts of anti-Semitism. He said they have appealed to the municipality with a request to protect the city's Jewish community.

"It's a flagrant crime ... unfortunately, that is today's reality in Ukraine," said Vadim Rabinovych, head of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress. "It's a murder attempt on racist grounds."

Jewish Agency Chairman Zeev Bielski offered the organization's assistance, saying the incident was regarded as very grave.
This news appears to be a troubling indicator that certain very nasty historical forces may have been unleashed, after all.

A Russian-Indian Alliance

According to this news report, Russia is reaching out to India, planning anti-terrorist war games with the Indian military.
"The exercise might focus on maintaining stability in central Asia and ensuring the security of oil supplies via sea routes," Kokoshin said.

According to an unnamed Russian general quoted by the daily, the exercise could be conducted as early as in 2006.

"The structure of the Russia-China-India triangle is becoming more rigid. China has made the transition from its former policy of confrontation and, sometimes, bloody border clashes with its neighbours in the north and in the south to a policy of partnership," the daily observed, adding that the rapidly growing Chinese economy needs stability.

"Another sphere of mutual interest is the fight against international terrorism. Russia in the Caucasus, India in Kashmir, and China in Xinjiang have to deal with Islamic terrorists and extremists, whose main bases are in Pakistan and Afghanistan," the daily said.

The idea of Russia-India-China triangle was first floated by Russia's then premier, Yevgeny Primakov in 1998 during a visit to New Delhi.

It seems as if India may become the new "Jewel in the Crown" of the post-Soviet world.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Winslow Homer Reconsidered

On Saturday, we went to the National Gallery of Art to see the new Winslow Homer exhibition. I can't recommend it highly enough, especially since it shows his development from a Civil War combat artist to a pastoral painter of nature. I had no idea so many of his famous paintings had symbolic meaning, such as Breezing Up (A Fair Wind), which is about America recovering from the Civil War, on some level. There are also pictures of the West Indies and Florida--who knew?

Our favorite Winslow Homer is titled: "The Sick Chicken." You can see many of the pictures here.

Ahmed Chalabi: Iraq's "Comeback Kid"

Robert L. Pollock writes about the return of America's onetime ally in Iraq in today's Wall street Journal:
Things now are a little different from the last time I saw Mr. Chalabi, in June 2004. Then, I had to break away from a military delegation headed by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. The "one-time Pentagon favorite"--what a risible journalistic cliché that's become--wasn't even on official speaking terms with the arch "neo-con" as a result of a National Security Council directive aimed at "marginalizing" him. This meant raiding Mr. Chalabi's home, holding him (unarmed) at gunpoint, and the filing of trumped-up charges against him by a Bremer-appointed judge who has since been dismissed from his job by Iraq's judicial authorities for unethical conduct. Improbable allegations that he somehow obtained and then passed sensitive U.S. information to Iran (another anonymously sourced story Newsweek really ought to revisit) had also appeared. The would-be coup de grace occurred once interim Prime Minister Allawi took power and U.S. forces began stripping Mr. Chalabi's guards of their weapons and permits to carry them. If this was "marginalization," Mr. Chalabi could have been forgiven for wondering if his elimination was the real intention.

But then something unexpected--at least to Mr. Chalabi's detractors--happened. He stayed put. The CIA line was that he was a mere dilettante, who'd give up when the going got rough and retreat to his "five-star hotels" and "Savile Row suits." Indeed, how could it be otherwise, given that he had "no support" in Iraq? But that assessment, like so much else, was part of the CIA's larger Iraq intelligence failure.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Venezuela News And Views on Pat Robertson and Chavez

At Venezuela News And Views, Daniel comments on the Pat Robertson controversy. He doesn't want Chavez dead, he wants him put on trial, and Robertson to shut up.

How Not to Make Friends and Influence People

The Russians detained Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar and members of his committee in Siberia, for several hours against their will, according to Jeff Zeleny's article in the Chicago Tribune.
PERM, Russia -- The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a U.S. delegation that included Sen Barack Obama (D-Ill.) were held at an airport here for three hours by local officials for unexplained reasons.

After several heated discussions and calls between officials in Perm and Washington the situation was resolved and Russian officials returned the delegation's U.S. passports.

Russian officials offered no explanation for the detention but one border guard did apologize through an interpreter.

Bill Burns, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, interceded to resolve the situation. The delegation was set to travel to Kiev, Ukraine.

The White House, the Secretary of State and the Pentagon's National Military Command Center in Washignton were involved, U.S. officials here said, and contacted counterparts in Moscow attempting to resolve the situation. Earlier Sunday., Sen Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) was detained for about four hours as he tried to fly from a different Russian airport.

This story is news because, usually people in Washington suck up to the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, they don't take him prisoner. I guess this story might be seen as a case of a more traditionally Russian approach to lobbying Congress. On the other hand, TSA security guards once made Congressman John Dingell drop his pants during an airport search, so who knows what else has gone on stateside?

BTW, the Russians say that they don't think this incident will affect US-Russian relations...

Lenin's Mistress

I ran into the story of Lenin's mistress Inessa Armand by accident, while googling something else. After living in Moscow and Tashkent, it was so interesting, that I can't help linking to Michael Pearson's 2001 article in the Guardian, adapted from his biography, Lenin's Mistress.

The Observer: Dismay Over Iraq Constitution Mess

The Observer reports: "Despite attempts to put an optimistic gloss on the talks, the failure of Iraqi politicians from the three main groups to reach any kind of consensus has been greeted with dismay in Washington and London, where it had been hoped that President George W Bush's intervention last week to persuade the Shias to accommodate the Sunnis' concerns would break the deadlock."

Paul Lawrence Dunbar Reconsidered

Jabari Asim discusses Shelley Fisher Fishkin and David Bradley's new anthology of Paul Lawrence Dunbar's writings in today's Washington Post Book World:
The last section of the book is devoted to The Sport of the Gods , which seldom packs the punch of Dunbar's best short fiction. It is mostly of interest because it is the only Dunbar novel to feature a largely black cast, not at all surprising when one considers his determination to "be with the age." The plot revolves around the Hamiltons, a black family that flees the South after its patriarch is falsely accused of theft and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor. Without Berry, the head of their household, the Hamiltons fall prey to vice, lust and violence up north in New York.

With the exception of a pair of supporting players, the characters in The Sport of the Gods seldom rise above mere types employed in the service of the author's larger design. This is consistent with Dunbar's approach to storytelling. He wrote to his wife, Alice, "I believe that characters in fiction should be what men and women are in real life -- the embodiment of a principle or idea. . . . Every character who moves across the pages of a story is, to my mind, . . . only an idea." The prevailing idea here echoes themes that Dunbar addressed with some passion in essays such as "The Hapless Southern Negro" and "The Negroes of the Tenderloin." In the latter he cast his sensitive gaze on the development of dysfunctional black ghettoes and concluded, "The gist of the whole trouble lies in the flocking of ignorant and irresponsible Negroes to the great city," an influx that "continues and increases year after year." Joe, Berry's headstrong young son, who comes to no good, symbolizes the futile migration that Dunbar lamented. Chronicling Joe's sordid ordeal, Dunbar's omniscient narrator mentions "the pernicious influence of the city on untrained negroes" and predicts that "the stream of young negro life would continue to flow up from the South, dashing itself against the hard necessities of the city and breaking like waves against a rock."

It is tempting to regard Dunbar's implausibly tidy ending as a bit of wishful thinking. Fishkin and Bradley remind us that Dunbar was dying of tuberculosis as he wrote the novel. Better, perhaps, to read the story's conclusion as evidence that he had not lost faith in his brethren, despite the many opportunities for cynicism and despair with which his short life had presented him. At times he did feel obligated to offer such reassurances. "I do not write as a malicious croaker," he asserted in one essay, "but as one deeply interested in the development of the best that is in the negro."

Saturday, August 27, 2005

More on India...

From our long-term linked blogger friend Prashant Kothari. He's just started a website devoted to the Indian Economy, called

The Gutter

My sister-in-law is visiting. She's a city planner, she knows I'm a blogger, and so she recommended readingThe Gutter for its discussion of New York's planned replacement for the World Trade Center. Apparently, it's widely read by architects and planners, among others...

What's Going on at the National Arboretum?

Warning sign at National Arboretum

Trail at National Arboretum

Fountain in center of the historic Capitol Columns, National Arboretum

In front of the historic Capitol Columns, National Arboretum, Washington, DC
What is going on at the National Arboretum? We went there yesterday, and while some of the exhibits were nice--such as the Bonsai house, herb gardens, and such--there were signs of neglect. Unmown lawns gone to seed, empty fountains, unkept trails, and loose stones. And in some areas, the sprinklers were on during the day, subjecting visitors who wanted to walk among the trees and flowers to a soaking. It is still beautiful...but really does need proper attention.

Friday, August 26, 2005

India on My Mind...

India is on my mind, these days. The Indian head of state was in DC getting all sorts of attention from President Bush, not long ago. Last week, I saw Bride and Prejudice, I have a couple of students from India in my course, as well as a number of IT professionals who have gone back to school after their jobs moved to Hyerderabad and Bangalore. The other day, I had coffee with a couple we met in New Dehli, who were stopping by DC on their way back home to Australia. They recommended I read Being Indian: They Truth about Why the Twenty-First Century Will be India's. The author is an Indian diplomat who once headed the Nehru cultural center in Moscow, and now runs the same operation in London. While it is not a done deal, it certainly sounds like India is on the move...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Exit Roman Abramovitch

RIA Novosti's Peter Lavelle says the oligarch owner of Britain's Chelsea football club is on his way out of his Russian oil business--because he's selling out to the Kremlin:
The sooner Gazprom acquires Sibneft, the better for the Kremlin. With Russia's 2007-2008 election season approaching, buying out Abramovich now will give the Kremlin more time to deal with the political fallout. Additionally, the authorities will be able to spin paying billions to a billionaire as evidence of the state's respect for private property rights - 'the days of stealing assets are in the past.' This may not be completely convincing to an average Russian who dislikes the oligarchs, but it may do wonders to strengthen Russia's investment case.

The Iraq-Al Qaeda Connection (continued)

In the Weekly Standard, Ed Morrissey connects some more dots that link Mohammed Atta to Saddam Hussein:
...after 9/11, Czech intelligence privately told the United States that it had evidence that al-Ani met with Mohammed Atta on April 9, 2001. Later, the Czechs went public with the information--and to this day, the Czechs insistently stand behind this intelligence. Part of the reason for this insistence is not just a belief in their source, but also a corroborating entry in al-Ani's datebook, which the Czechs apparently discovered during a surreptitious search of the Iraqi embassy after Saddam's fall in April 2003. The datebook contained an entry for an April 2001 meeting with a "Hamburg student," the same description used by Atta himself when applying for his visa. (It is perhaps worth noting that Epstein is the only person to have reported on the existence of this daybook.)

However, the 9/11 Commission disregarded the Czech intelligence and declared that Atta had never gone to Prague in April 2001. How did the Commission reach this conclusion?
BTW, On his 9/11 website, Epstein also makes a persuasive argument that the anthrax attacks may have been linked to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Senator Kennedy to Block Roberts Nomination

That's Robert Novak's prediction in today's Washington Post. Novak points to the return to Kennedy's staff of James Flug, a 66-year old retired lawyer who, as a young Kennedy aide, helped stop the Carswell and Haynsworth nominations during the Nixon administration. Prepare for a "Borking" of Bush's Supreme Court nominee . . .

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Britain's List of Banned Behaviors

Little Green Footballs led us to this interesting list from the Home Office, published in The London Times, that describes the kind of actions that, after the July 7th bombings, will result in deportation from the United Kingdom:

Terrorist violence
Cannot foment, justify, glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs

Terrorist acts
Cannot seek to provoke others to terrorist acts

Criminal acts
Cannot foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts

Inter-community violence
Cannot foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.

Individuals who do the above by any means or medium are caught by the legislation, including:

- writing, producing, publishing or distributing material;

- public speaking including preaching

- running a website

- using a position of responsibility such as teacher, community or youth leader

War, Revolution and British Imperialism in Central Asia

No, it's not about International Crisis Group's work after the breakup of the USSR, rather Frederick Stanwood's 1983 book, based on documents from the Foreign Office and other primary sources, explains Britain's policy in the Caucases and Turkestan roughly from 1914-1922. The war in the title is World War I, the revolution is the Bolshevik revolution, and British imperialism involved a very real British Empire (colored red on the maps).

That said, the fascination of this historical study is that it is demonstrates the cliche that even paranoids have enemies. For in the wake of World War I, not only did Britain peel off bits of the Ottoman Empire, drawing the lines in the map for today's Middle East and Balkans; Britain also had plans to break up the Russian Empire and take bits of it as well. The places mentioned in British policy memos from 1918 read like today's headlines: Georgia, Azerbaijan, Trans-Causasia (Chechnya), Dagestan, Armenia, Turkestan (today's Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, et al.), Persia (today's Iran), Siberia. As today Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Afghanistan play pivotal roles in the proposed forward strategy, designed to take advantage of Russia's weakness due to revolution and civil war. Russia itself was to be divided in two--an Eastern Siberian republic, with its capital in Omsk, intended as an ally of Britain against a Western Russia that stopped at the Urals. A series of British allies in Turkestan and the Balkans would form a "cordon sanitaire" around the Bolshevik revolution, containing it from spreading to other countries (George Kennan didn't come up with the strategy of containment, it turns out). Britain would obtain a League of Nations mandate to administer a protectorate in Georgia and other such small countries--eerily reminiscent of Lord Patten's position as UN administrator of Kosovo today (Patten is chairman of the International Crisis Group,). These small, weak buffer nations ringing Russia would have been dependent on British financial support. Muslim leaders and white Russians were seen as the natural allies of the British against the Bolsheviks.

Sound familiar?

Anyhow, the policy failed, in part because the British were outfoxed by Lenin, who offered national autonomy to the rulers of Turkestan; and later by Stalin who redrew the maps of both Turkestan and Eastern Europe. And in part because of America. And in part, the author argues, because they didn't know what they were doing. On the British side, only the Government of India (based in Delhi), which opposed the plans and advocated an alternate strategy that sounded a lot like "benign neglect," comes off looking good. One element that really struck this reader was that the British appeared to be equally opposed to both Leninist Bolshevism and "Wilsonian Idealism." They worried that American rhetoric of national self-determination might harm the British Empire, although they preferred an alliance with the US against their perceived enemies at that time: the French and Germans.

Indeed, one might conclude from Stanwood's account that in the aftermath of World War II, it was the the victory of America's Wilsonian Idealism and Lenin's Bolshevism that did cause the collapse of the British Empire. Now, with the collapse of the Soviet Empire, it is almost as if we have returned to 1918, with everything in flux once more. No wonder the Russians are worried that the US and EU want to break up Russia. Because, as Stanwood documents, in the aftermath of WWI, that was indeed official British policy. Perhaps we in the West have forgotten what the Russians remember...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Sharansky's Alternative Gaza Plan

He spoke with about his opposition to Sharon's disengagement strategy:
Sharansky's own roadmap to peace: no concessions, no funds, no legitimacy for the Palestinians unless they adopt democracy. On the other hand, however, hold forth a lush "Marshall Plan" for the Palestinians if they choose the path to true freedom and democracy.

It's a hard line, but Sharansky recalls that it worked like a charm for Ronald Reagan against the Soviet Union - and it would work for Israel against the Palestinians.

"I am convinced that all people desire to be free," Sharansky writes in his latest book. "I am convinced that freedom anywhere will make the world safer everywhere. And I am convinced that democratic nations, led by the United States, have a critical role to play in expanding freedom around the globe."

Bull Moose: Bush a Divider, Not Uniter

And he thinks that's why America is losing in Iraq, as support drops at home.
The President is now suffering a loss of support from a deeply divided public. Instead of uniting this country, the Bushies have divided it during a time of war and are now paying the price.,,

...We must prevail in the Iraq - but that is impossible without the support of a unified nation. In pursuit of partisan advantage, the Bushies have squandered the unity necessary to win a war.

Our country desperately needs a new politics of national unity and service. For too long, the national interest has taken a back seat to the obsessions of the left and the right to score polarizing, partisan, political points. Can either of the two parties produce an elevated politics?

Or is there a need for a new vehicle?

Actually, a credible third-party "Reagan Democrat" candidate (such as Zell Miller) might help the Democrats re-take the White House in 2008, as Perot did in 1992.

Where are Hollywood's War Heroes? (continued).

Thanks to Roger L. Simon for the link to this confession by Hollywood screenwriter Robert J. Avrech:
Hollywood, once upon a time, was one of the most patriotic colonies on the planet. During World War II, Frank Capra made a series of propaganda films titled “Why We Fight.” Marlene Dietrich put herself through a most grueling schedule visiting and entertaining our troops and selling war bonds. Jimmy Stewart joined the Air Force. Numerous movie stars put their careers on hold to help the war effort. These men and women loved America and understood who the enemy was and why the enemy had to be not only defeated but obliterated from the face of the earth.

Look at Hollywood now. Sean Penn goes to Iraq and apologizes for American war crimes. Hollywood’s patron saint is Michael Moore, its liturgy his package of lies, the movie “Fahrenheit 9/11.” When this film had its Hollywood premiere, the red carpet was choked with stars just dying to make an anti-Bush statement. We’re talking about movie stars who know basically nothing about politics. To call them fools would be generous. I have spent time with too many of these people, and believe me, if you’re not talking about how beautiful or how talented they are, the conversation sort of just dies.

It is, I kid you not, a badge of honor in Hollywood to hate America....

Inside 9/11

Little Green Footballs recommends watching this new television documentary from the National Geographic Society, on the National Geographic channel. For those who don't have cable, like myself, you can click on video clips at their website.

One question: Will this be shown on PBS, for those who don't have cable?

What's Wrong with Scotland Yard?

Now they are accused of a cover-up in the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, the unarmed Brazilian, by anti-terrorist police. IMHO Something must have been wrong with Ian Blair's police force, even before July 7th, for the bombing plot to have been able to succeed in the way it did...

What Do Russians Think?

Konstantin's Russian Blog has the results of a Russian public opinon poll that give some idea of how Russians see themselves, as well as how they see Westerners. These results are not surprising to someone who has lived there, but might come as something of a shock to those who didn't know what they thought of us...

Andrew C. McCarthy on Michael Graham

From National Review Online
Why has brutality in the name of Islam endured? Well, it is because, as Graham posits, this violence--driven by an interpretation of scriptures that self-evidently lend themselves to just such an interpretation--has long been coupled with 'an organizational structure that allows violent radicals to operate openly in Islam's name.''

The eminent Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis described the phenomenon in his 1993 book, Islam and the West. Divergences among Muslims in the interpretation of Islam, Lewis explained, are not easily labeled 'heterodox' or 'heretical,' for such notions are Western ones that have 'little or no relevance to the history of Islam, which has no synods, churches, or councils to define orthodoxy, and therefore none to define and condemn departures from orthodoxy.'

Taken together, the lack of formal hierarchy, the plain language of Koranic passages, and what is, indisputably, the military tradition out of which Islam emerged, have made it difficult for Muslims convincingly to condemn terrorism as antithetical to their creed. Meanwhile, acts of terrorism have continued unabated. Thus, the system is open to the reasonable conclusions that: (a) it promotes violence, (b) it has spawned violence, and (c) it has been unable to restrain violence despite the vastly superior number of non-violent adherents.

Michael Graham connected these dots and reasonably found that the system, Islam, was to blame. Now, do I wish he hadn't phrased it quite so bluntly by calling Islam itself a 'terror organization'? Yes. Even if his conclusion was within the bounds of acceptable argument, in the same sense that branding the entire company a 'fraud' is not unreasonable in my multi-national corporation example, the comment was not helpful. It was certain to irritate our allies in the war--authentic moderate Muslims--to call their religion 'a terrorist organization.' And even if Graham was convinced he was right, being right is not always a complete defense to incivility when one has been gratuitously provocative. He certainly could have found a way to apologize for his tone without apologizing for his point.

But all this is substantially mitigated by Graham's closing sentiments. He pointedly left his listeners with the 'good news' that the vast majority of Muslims do not support terror committed in the name of their religion. And he offered what sounded like a very sincere hope that they can and will take steps to marginalize and discredit the militants’ use of Islam.

On balance, Graham did what successful radio hosts do. He made a defensible argument in a manner designed to startle. The controversial phrase was ill-advised, but it was very far from the hanging offense it has become. And while it seems unduly stubborn for him to have resisted at least some expression of regret about his phrasing, that should not, in any event, have been a precondition for keeping his job.

The role of Islam in terrorism is a crucial issue. There is currently a good deal of contention, much of it from Muslim interest groups, that terrorism is a reaction to political conditions rather than a result of doctrine. That many of us would disagree--vehemently--with that assessment hardly means the argument should not be heard. But it is at least equally viable and appropriate to air the position that much of the problem of Islamic terrorism lies with Islam itself--something that even courageous Muslim moderates have acknowledged.

Daniel Pipes on Michael Graham

I disagree with Congressman Tom Tancredo about keeping the option open to "take out" Mecca and with Michael Graham that "Islam is a terror organization." But I do think it vital that they and others be able to conduct a freewheeling discussion about the Koran, jihad, radical Islam, Islamist terrorism, and related topics, without fearing a reprimand from the U.S. government or a loss of their livelihood.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Michael Graham Speaks Out

He's apparently been blacklisted by ABC because he criticized Islamic fundamentalists--here's his statement. I hope he sues ABC and CAIR for a million dollars...

Democracy and Terrorism

I just received the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs in the mail, and this article on Democracy and Terrorism is worth the cover price. Basically, examination of the available data appears to suggest that democracy fosters terrorism, that authoriarian states have less terrorism, and that while democracy is good in its own right, it may not be a solution to the terrorism problem. China suffers less terrorism than India, for example.

IMHO Bush's use of democracy in an instrumental way actually cheapens the cause of democracy. It is not just a tool for another purpose--democracy is an end in itself. Which is why I'm of the mindset to crush terrorism first, build democracy second...which is the point of another excellent article in the same issue, titled, How to Win in Iraq.

My Cousin's Heart...

...has its own website. and you can read all about it--here.

Russian Intelligence: Terrorists Seek WMD

An article in today's Moscow Times reports Russian FSB (successor to the KGB) charges that terrorists are currently seeking chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons.

More Iraqi Blogs

For an Iraqi point-of-view on what is going on there right now (Healing Iraq seems to be a little out of date these days), take a look at Iraq The Model. It's put together by two brothers, and has a blogroll of yet more Iraqi blogs.

One of them is called Neurotic Iraqi Wife, and seems very interesting. Here's an excerpt from a recent post:

I ve lost hope in the future of Iraq. I know many of you will find this distrubing but this is generally my own views and what I came to realize by being here. Im sorry, but the free democratic Iraq we all are hoping for wont take place, not now, not in 5 years not even in 10 years unless we get a real government who cares sincerely about the Iraqi people. Iraq needs someone who is honest yet firm, someone who is caring, yet strong. Someone who really is serious in building a country and reviving the people.

People here have no faith in anyone anymore. All the dreams they had during the elections have evaporated, all the hopes have gone and now they live their day just to survive the moment. Some people might think Im painting a very dark picture, Im sorry, but the picture I see from where Im at is dark, extremely dark. Yes you see schools being rehabilitated, yes you see hospitals getting renovated , yes you see construction taking place, bridges, roads, airports, but what does all this mean if people cant enjoy what they see. What do newly painted schools mean, when children get kidnapped???

What does this whole reconstruction mean when you cant even go out and enjoy it. I look at peoples eyes and theres no lustre, its filled with sadness and hopelessness, even me, when I used to see that before, I would try to make them feel better by saying things will change, just give it time, now I dont even dare say these words, for I dont believe in them myself. And whoever says things will change is a dreamer. People are still living in dire circumstances. Electricity is barely there, do you know how that feels when you are in this scorching heat??? Water is not continious. Corruption is everywhere. What kind of a life is this??? Yet Im amazed at how Iraqis are so resilient, they really are survivors, they really have the spirit of Life.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Kurds Charge US Creating Islamic State in Iraq

Ellen Knickmeyer reports on Kurdish unhappiness with Bush administration attempts to establish Islamic law, in today's Washington Post.
The working draft of the constitution stipulates that no law can contradict Islamic principles. In talks with Shiite religious parties, Kurdish negotiators said they have pressed unsuccessfully to limit the definition of Islamic law to principles agreed upon by all groups. The Kurds said current language in the draft would subject Iraqis to extreme interpretations of Islamic law.

Kurds also contend that provisions in the draft would allow Islamic clerics to serve on the high court, which would interpret the constitution. That would potentially subject marriage, divorce, inheritance and other civil matters to religious law and could harm women's rights, according to the Kurdish negotiators and some women's groups.

Khalilzad supported those provisions and urged other groups to accept them, according to Kurds involved in the talks.

"Really, we are disappointed with that. It seems like the Americans want to have a constitution at any cost," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the constitutional committee. "These things are not good -- giving the constitution an Islamic face.

"It is not good to have a constitution that would limit the liberties of people, the human rights, the freedoms," Othman said.

IMHO The Kurds are right and the US is wrong in this case. Neither Great Britain nor Israel, both fullly functional parliamentary democracies, have a written constitution...

And Now. . . the Return of the Taliban?

Jonathan S. Landay says they're back in Afghanistan, with funding from Al Qaeda. (ht War and Piece). Which may explain today's news of a bomb blast killing 4 US soldiers. This is serious, as the US loses international prestige. It's like wearing a "kick me" sign...

You just can't have terrorists in government and expect to defeat them. The US didn't allow the Nazi party in Germany after WWII, or Japanese militarist parties in Tokyo. Or Communist parties to share power in Greece or Latin America during the Cold War. So it seems like it was a big mistake for the Bush administration to force Afghans to accept the Taliban in their government. They obviously used restored political clout to protect terrorist operations.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

When is a Terrorist Not a Terrorist?

Apparently, whenever the US government says so...

In a number of recent cases, the Bush administration appears to be acting an accomplice to Islamist terrorists, rather than their adversary.

For example, Islamist Chechen terrorists were hailed by a Radio Liberty correspondent who interviewed their spiritual leader, as suspected Uzbek Islamist terrorists were whisked to safety in Romania, in an American-supported airlift. Now, Uighur Islamist terrorist suspects are being protected by the US government. China wants them back, but according to this article in the Taipei Times: part of its policy to return most of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay to their own countries, the US is making an exception in the case of Uighurs. It is reportedly seeking to find a European country that might accept them.

IMHO, if Uighur terrorists aren't terrorists, then nobody is. Their goals, tactics, and organization manifest their ties to Bin Laden's international network.

For example, in a 2003 article published by the Jamestown Foundation, Ahmad Lutfi analyzed a February 25th, 2003 Uighur terrorist attack in Beijing , exploring its strong resemblance to 9/11. He found that the bombers employed Osama bin Laden's modus operandi.
The Chinese government would eventually be forced to admit that it suspects the Xinjiang militant Islamist Uighurs are behind the Beijing bomb attacks. They employed a similarly clever use of symbols: Tsinghua University (China's own MIT), where the first bomb went off, is the alma mater of both Premier Zhu Rongji and Communist Party Chief Hu Jintao. And Beijing University (China's version of Harvard) is where future leaders of PRC are trained, and where some of the country's finest minds are based. This choice of targets by the Uighurs is no coincidence: it highlights, in true bin Ladenian fashion, that Beijing is the enemy against whom the militants are carrying the banner of Jihad. Although his televised statements have made no mention of the plight of Muslims in Xinjiang as a justification for war against the West, bin Laden did list Uighur Muslims among the many nationalities that fill al Qaeda's ranks. Recent reports also indicate that a number of Uighur Mujahadeen are being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camps.

No wonder suspected terrorists in Iran are demanding asylum from Western embassies in Tehran.

With this kind of stuff going on -- especially after the July 7th bombings in London -- the omens bode ill for American leadership in the Global War on Terror.

Generations of Winter

Over the summer vacation, I had a chance to read Vassily Aksyonov's Generations of Winter, about Russia from the 1917 Revolution until the end of World War II. It's not quite War and Peace, but it is very good, and I couldn't put it down. Aksyonov does a great job of having different characters take you through the ups and downs of modern Russian history. and has some good love stories which ring true, as well. Plus the intergenerational family dynamics are fascinating. The family's dacha is the only constant in a turbulent world, a haven of middle-class sanity and a tie to a lost past. Aksyanov's new book, Voltaire and the Voltairians was on the bestseller lists in Moscow last winter, so I'm waiting for the translation.

Islamist "Terrorist Culture"

After the London bombings, Tony Blair changed course. Yet had he done so years earlier, perhaps the London bombings might have been avoided. Experts have long warned of the dangers from extremist organizations in the West. For example, in June 2001 -- before the 9/11 attacks in NY and Washington-- Reuven Paz, of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, explained the threat from a growing world-wide "Terrorist Culture."

...there is a danger that violent Islamist ideologies, doctrines and activities will bring about two further developments, the advance signs of which may already be seen in the present time. The first of these is the development of new bases of Islamist radicalism and political violence, including terrorism, in Muslim communities in the West, as a result of the consolidation of two relatively new Islamist doctrines: the globalization of the Islamist struggle, and the doctrine of the 'non-territorial Islamist state.' The globalization of the Islamist struggle is aimed against what the Islamists perceive as the global conspiracy against Islam, both as religion and culture. The second doctrine -- that of the 'Non-territorial Islamic State' -- revolves around the tenet that the Muslim communities in the West should be perceived as a kind of Islamic State, lacking territorial dimensions, but entailing the religious duty of establishing Islamic rule. This doctrine, which grew out of the work of Islamic scholars in the UK, emphasizes the socio-cultural, economic, and political character of the Muslim community. At the same time, the doctrine grants free rein to the principle of Islamic pluralism, allowing the activities of a variety of organizations and institutions, from every trend of modern Islamic thought. This pluralism is mostly an outgrowth of the democratic and liberal environment of Western countries, but it also reflects the fundamentalist nature of many of the Islamic movements in their homeland. These two doctrines together could result in Muslim communities in the West -- particularly those in Europe -- becoming havens for radical political violence

The second imminent development is the evolution of what we might call 'social terrorism' -- terrorism motivated primarily by social factors, such as hatred of foreigners, growing unemployment, economic circumstances, difficulties in coping with Western modernization, changing and dismantling of traditional values and of family ties, etc. Such factors may affect other groups of immigrants as well, however, the influence of these factors on the Muslim emigrant communities is particularly acute. The growing Islamic and Islamist activity among Muslim emigrant communities, in addition to Islamist doctrines of conspiracies and global struggle with the West, encourage the growing potential of radical doctrines spreading among the younger generation.

And Paz explicitly linked terrorist violence to ostensibly non-violent supporters and front groups, including so-called "human rights" organizations.

...But there is another very important element to note here, with regard to Islamist terrorism. This is what we may call 'Islamic atmosphere' created by movements and groups that are themselves unconnected to political violence or terrorism. Some of these groups even publicly condemn terrorism, or at the very least, express reservation towards its use. The influence of these groups thus revolves around two linked elements:

* These groups and movements carry out the vast majority of Islamic political, social, cultural and educational work, both in the Muslim world and among Muslim communities in the West. Therefore, they are central to creating and preserving the 'Islamic atmosphere' that is used by more extremist and violent Islamist groups. They are in many cases 'greenhouses' for the emergence of violent groups and the preservation of worldviews advocating hostility towards the West or toward Western culture.

* The infrastructure of these movements, originally built to facilitate cultural, political, educational, and charity activities, make them the main venue for finance and support for Islamic projects, with the result that some them are also used to collect funds for radical groups. At the same time, they are active in consolidating Muslim communities in the West, and therefore set the grounds for massive fund-raising, political support, and in some cases recruitment, for militant Islamist groups in these communities.

The Islamic societies, both in the Muslim World and in the West, and the 'Islamic atmosphere,' even when non-violent, thus play a crucial role in the finance of Islamist terrorism as well as of social and cultural activity and of charity. Social Islamic work is also in many cases part of social protest, either against secular Muslim regimes or Western societies -- form of protest that facilitates the activity of some of the Islamist groups.

The Islamist 'terrorist culture' can be sketched as a pyramid; at the base is the large-scale activity of the Islamic moderate and non-violent organizations, institutes, and projects of all kinds. At the top of the pyramid is the radical and pro-terrorist activity. In the middle there are various processes that channel certain social factors into hatred, revenge, the search for power and violence. This violence is in many cases indirectly supported and financed by innocent elements as a result of cultural influences.

BTW In 2003, this same organization published Yoni Fighel's article on Londonistan.

Bride and Prejudice

Last night, we watched the Anglo-Bollywood musical Bride and Prejudice (of course, based on Jane Austen) on DVD. A lot of fun, really charming. Gurinder Chadha is the director of Bend it Like Beckham, a veteran of the BBC and ITV, and does a great job with the musical numbers. Her husband, Paul Mayeda Berges, wrote the script. He's an American from Los Angeles, so that explains the authenticity of the Beverly Hills scenes in the picture. (There is an interesting interview about the couple's artistic collaboration here. You can order their first film together, What's Cooking? from Netflix.

The film stars Aishwarya Rai, a former Miss World. Martin Henderson is Mr. Darcy, and it is interesting to see how Americans look to others (the actor is actually a New Zealander)--in this case, he's all business. Nitin Ganatra steals the show as a Los Angeles accountant come home to find a bride. His theme song, "No Life Without Wife," is the best in the film. The locations are terrific: Amritsar's Golden Temple, the London Eye, the Hollywood Sign in LA. Marsha Mason has a cameo. Plus the family scenes are charming, and the four daughters are all cute. Colorful, without a single nasty moment.

Seeing London and Los Angeles almost as Indian colonies was neat, a turnabout to Western stereotypes of the East. And one line really sticks. when Darcy tells Lailita: "I'm not British," and she answers, "I know." That's the moment cupid's arrow shoots them both.

Friday, August 19, 2005

More on Russian-Chinese War Games

From Siberian Light. (Thanks to Nathan at Registan for the link)

Putin Calls for US Pullout from Iraq

According to Al Jazeera, the US has rejected Putin's suggestion.

IMHO, the Global War on Terror can't be won in an atmosphere of US-Russian confrontation. It might be better to fight alongside Putin against Islamists, than alongside Islamists against Putin.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Ann Coulter Answers Cindy Sheehan

Ann Coulter has this to say:
Fortunately, the Constitution vests authority to make foreign policy with the president of the United States, not with this week's sad story. But liberals think that since they have been able to produce a grieving mother, the commander in chief should step aside and let Cindy Sheehan make foreign policy for the nation. As Maureen Dowd said, it's "inhumane" for Bush not "to understand that the moral authority of parents who bury children killed in Iraq is absolute."

I'm not sure what "moral authority" is supposed to mean in that sentence, but if it has anything to do with Cindy Sheehan dictating America's foreign policy, then no, it is not "absolute." It's not even conditional, provisional, fleeting, theoretical or ephemeral.

The logical, intellectual and ethical shortcomings of such a statement are staggering. If one dead son means no one can win an argument with you, how about two dead sons? What if the person arguing with you is a mother who also lost a son in Iraq and she's pro-war? Do we decide the winner with a coin toss? Or do we see if there's a woman out there who lost two children in Iraq and see what she thinks about the war?

Dowd's "absolute" moral authority column demonstrates, once again, what can happen when liberals start tossing around terms they don't understand like "absolute" and "moral." It seems that the inspiration for Dowd's column was also absolute. On the rocks.
Mark Steyn also has something to say.

Middle East Forum: Putin is Right About Chechnya

Lorenzo Vidino says Chechnya is a haven for Al Qaeda and Basayev an Islamist fanatic.

Vote for the Greatest Painting in Britain...

...not the greatest British painting, but the greatest painting that happens to be hanging in Britain--here.

Bull Moose to Democrats: Run to the Right, Not the Left

Bull Moose tells Democrats the way to win back Congress in 2006 is to take George Bush from the Right. IMHO this strategy worked for Clinton in 1992 against Bush Senior, over Yugoslavia. If the Democrats had run Zell Miller in 2004, rather than John Kerry, he would have won--and the Iraq war might have been over by now.

BBC: More Than 400 Bombs Went Off In Bangladesh

According to the BBC report, there were also leaflets.
"It is time to implement Islamic law in Bangladesh" and "Bush and Blair be warned and get out of Muslim countries", the leaflets say.
Like Britain, Spain, France, India, Israel, Indonesia, Turkey, the Phillippines, the USA, and some other victims of terrorism, Bangladesh is a democracy.

Dutch Voting with Their Feet

For the first time since the end of the Second World War, significant numbers of Dutch people are emigrating from Holland, according to this article in The Telegraph. One factor may be rising tensions in the wake of the Van Gogh murder. Among their destinations: Australia. (Tim Blair's tip)

The Next US-Russian Confrontation...

...may come over Kosovo. In 8 months, the present UN trusteeship expires. At that point, the US and EU might decide to recognize an independent Kosovar Republic (currently Kosovo remains officially part of Serbia and Montegro). Russia, historically pro-Serbian, already has objected to such a possibility. But the West might decide to act unilaterally. In that case, the stage may be set for another US-Russian confrontation in the former Yugoslavia. Something to think about.

My Father, The Spy (cont'd.)

Today's Washington Post has a nice profile of John Richardson, author of My Father, The Spy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Nathalie Bennet's blog,Philobiblon, links to this site on her blogroll, a nice surprise.

Editor: Myself

Editor: Myself is a nice weblog from Iran...

The Iraq-Al Qaeda Connection

Ed Morrissey's article in The Weekly Standard about problems with the 9/11 commission report contained a link to this news item from 2001, evidence of overlooked links between Iraq and Al Qaeda:
Intelligence Briefs: Iraq (April 2001): "Iraqi Spies Reportedly Arrested in Germany
16 March 2001

Al-Watan al-Arabi (Paris) reports that two Iraqis were arrested in Germany, charged with spying for Baghdad. The arrests came in the wake of reports that Iraq was reorganizing the external branches of its intelligence service and that it had drawn up a plan to strike at US interests around the world through a network of alliances with extremist fundamentalist parties.

The most serious report contained information that Iraq and Osama bin Ladin were working together. German authorities were surprised by the arrest of the two Iraqi agents and the discovery of Iraqi intelligence activities in several German cities. German authorities, acting on CIA recommendations, had been focused on monitoring the activities of Islamic groups linked to bin Ladin. They discovered the two Iraqi agents by chance and uncovered what they considered to be serious indications of cooperation between Iraq and bin Ladin. The matter was considered so important that a special team of CIA and FBI agents was sent to Germany to interrogate the two Iraqi spies."

Morrissey comments:
Interestingly, journalists such as Amir Taheri considered al-Watan al-Arabi to be a pro-Saddam publication--not surprising given its Parisian readership. Despite its reporting against its presumed interests, the al-Watan al-Arabi article generated no interest either at the time or afterwards. A scan of the Commission report finds no mention of these arrests in Heidelberg, nor any of the CIA or FBI interviews reported by al-Watan al-Arabi.

Why should any of this have mattered to the 9/11 Commission? Their report provides the most important reason: The 9/11 plot began its practical planning in Hamburg, beginning in 1999 and assisting Mohammed Atta and the other 9/11 plotters through the summer of 2001. Having discovered two Iraqi intelligence agents conducting "missions . . . in a number of German towns since the beginning of 2001" indicates at least the possibility of more than just a sabotage assignment. Even apart from the al-Watan al-Arabi reporting, the strange coincidence of discovering Iraqi intelligence operations in such close conjunction to known al Qaeda operations should have raised some eyebrows.

Saudi Humor...

The Religious Policeman has posted a rather funny interview with the Saudi Minister of Tourism. An excerpt:
RP: OK. So we'll allow single men and bona-fide married couples in. But they already go to places like Dubai in hundreds of thousands, it's a major international resort. Why should they come to Saudi Arabia instead?

M: Well, we have lots of sun.

RP: So does Dubai. Can they sit under a sunshade and have a drink, like in Dubai?

M: Certainly not, and if there's any drink in their suitcase, they'll go to prison. But we're not like Dubai, we offer a unique cultural experience.

RP: So they can go and see a show with folk dancing, the sort of thing Greece is good at?

M: How long have you been in Britain? You know we don't have theatres or cinemas or concert halls. No, what I meant was, there are 6,366 heritage and antiquities sites in the Kingdom.

RP: But aren't we knocking these down as quick as we can drive the bulldozers?

M: That's only for the non-Islamic sites and sites that could be associated with idolatry - so just old monuments and fortresses, historic buildings, houses of famous people, things like that. Certainly not the mosques.

RP: So they can go and look round the famous mosques, like they can in Bahrain for example?

M: Well they can certainly look at the outside.

RP: But not the inside? After all, that's where they'd see the beautiful decorations, get a sense of stillness and reverence.

M Oh no, if they go inside we'll put them in prison.

Intel Dump

Also via War and Piece, a link to Intel Dump, a blog about intelligence matters. One should take it with a grain of salt, but it still makes for interesting reading...

Why Israel is Giving Up Gaza

War and Piece led me to Aluf Benn's incisive analysis in Haaretz of Sharon's possible Gaza strategy. I'd say it confirms my impression that the old general knows what he is doing.

This section seemed particularly clear:
...Further disintegration of the Palestinian Authority under Abbas' weak leadership would turn Gaza into a "Hamastan," ruled by Islamic extremists, and separate it from the West Bank, until eventually Egypt will regain control of Gaza - and Jordan will return to the West Bank. Several Israeli officials advocate this scenario, stressing that an independent Palestinian state is not viable if it does not get more territory from its Arab neighbors. This is the nightmare scenario for the Hashemite rulers of Jordan, who fear the West Bank security barrier will push the Palestinians eastward at their expense.

The Bush administration wants to keep Abbas in power and implement the president's vision of creating a Palestinian state by early 2009. Sharon and Abbas have yet to show they are able to negotiate. For now, they present irreconcilable opening positions, with Abbas opting for a quick final-status deal, and Sharon insisting on a long, gradual process. But both sides will hold elections in 2006, and no serious diplomacy can be expected before then.
So that may be it--if Gaza becomes "Hamastan," it goes back to Egypt. Without Egypt's support, the Palestinians can't succeed. And, Israel just has to hold on until 2008, when Bush will be gone, since a Clinton administration will come in with a different plan. After Arafat screwed-over Bill Clinton, the Clinton administration might not be as sympathetic as Bush, especially to a "Hamastan."

Thus, the Gaza pullout may in fact mark the end of the line for Palestinian statehood, not the beginning.

Konstantin's Russian Blog

I just found Konstantin's Russian Blog, and it's pretty interesting, too...

He explains the history of Potemkin villages--and the Potemkin fleet. He explains how Western-style consultants and lawyers have raised the average price of Russian bribes. And he shares a current Russian jokes. Here's one explaining the difference between the American space program and the Russian one: "When Russia decided to use disposable descent vehicles, America decided to use disposable astronauts."

And here's one about BBC editorial standards:
New BBC vocabulary:
Person who bombs people - a bombist
Person who shoots people - a gunman
Person who runs people over - a driver
Person who eats people - a gourmet

Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Weblog

I read Ayaan Hirsi Ali's oped in today's Wall Street Journal, Unfree Under Islam, thanks to a link at Roger L. Simon's blog. Then I took a look at her website. It's interesting.

You can view a clip from Submission, here

British Airways Catering Strike Hits Washington

The British Airways catering strike hit Washington, DC yesterday, as we found out when we took a friend to Dulles Airport for a flight to London. While waiting on the check-in line, a BA representative announced that there would not be any food served on the plane. Instead, $20 vouchers were handed out. They could be used to buy food in the departure terminal, to take on the flight. Take-away instead of a served meal.

I thought to myself afterwards, if those vouchers could only be cashed in, I would rather have had money than food. I wonder how long before an airline economist runs the numbers on offering cash rebates, instead of meals, on long-distance flights?

What Can Russia Do?

The Washington Times is running this AP photo of Vladimir Putin at the controls of a Russian bomber
This story about Russia's opposition to the use of force in Iran raises the question I first heard in Moscow, from an American diplomat, when I told him that my students weren't very happy about American actions in the Ukraine during the Orange revolution, which they saw as anti-Russian.

"What can Russia do?" he asked, rhetorically. "Their military is tied down in Chechnya, they don't have the troops."

Now Russia is objecting to another American initiative--this time military rather than political--while our troops are tied down in Iraq. Russia basically supplied the Iranians with their nuclear capability. And I think the outcome in Iran may hinge on the answer to the same question: "What can Russia do?"

Boris Akunin on Renewed Russian Authoritarianism

Ian MacKenzie's conversation with the Russian mystery writer contains this observation:
"We are more or less at the same crossroads, like during the reign of Czar Alexander II," Akunin added in an interview, referring to the Czar who was assassinated in 1881. "And the stories are repeating themselves, like after the liberal times of Alexander II came the reactionary times of Alexander III. So it is like Yeltsin and Putin."

Boris Yeltsin was Russia's first post-Soviet leader who was succeeded by current President Vladimir Putin.

"We have to live through this period. It is logical, it is inevitable, it's going to go on for five or 10 years. But because it is five or 10 years of my life I cannot be very happy about it. Now in Russia it is not the best time for people working in the mass media in general who have to do something with freedom of speech."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hi-Tech v. Islamism

The Religious Policeman has an interesting discussion of how Saudis use mobile phones and Bluetooth to get around Fundamentalist barriers to romance . . .

W's Parallels to LBJ

The Bull Moose recently visited the LBJ Library in Austin, and found some similarities between the two Texan Presidents.
... it is not clear that W, has any better notion of a victory strategy in Iraq than LBJ did in Vietnam. Conservative supporters of this President should cease their cheerleading and begin realizing that the war is being lost by a gang of incompetents who thought that they could liberate Iraq on the cheap with sacrifice limited to the brave troops and tax cuts for the wealthy. If a Democratic President was presiding over such a mess, a Republican Congress would be in a full throated fury.

And Rumsfeld bears a striking moral resemblance to McNamara...

The Stiff Upper Lip Really Exists

This 'n' That was in London before and after the July bombings, and reports that the stories of British pluck were not exaggerated...

Sharon Explains Israel's Gaza Pullout

Maybe Sharon is wrong, but I wouldn't want to second-guess the strategic choices of the Israeli general, who not so long ago was vilified as a war criminal, indirectly responsible for Palestinian massacres in Lebanon's Sabra and Chatila camps. Now he's being vilified as an appeaser and a coward. The truth probably lies somewhere in-between. Here's an excerpt of his speech on Israeli television:
It is out of strength and not weakness that we are taking this step. We tried to reach agreements with the Palestinians which would move the two peoples towards the path of peace. These were crushed against a wall of hatred and fanaticism.

The unilateral Disengagement Plan, which I announced approximately two years ago, is the Israeli answer to this reality. This Plan is good for Israel in any future scenario. We are reducing the day-to-day friction and its victims on both sides. The IDF will redeploy on defensive lines behind the Security Fence. Those who continue to fight us will meet the full force of the IDF and the security forces.

Now the Palestinians bear the burden of proof. They must fight terror organizations, dismantle its infrastructure and show sincere intentions of peace in order to sit with us at the negotiating table.

The world awaits the Palestinian response - a hand offered in peace or continued terrorist fire. To a hand offered in peace, we will respond with an olive branch. But if they chose fire, we will respond with fire, more severe than ever.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Today is the 60th Anniversary of V-J Day

Not too much press in the USA though. Found this interesting article from the San Diego paper, maybe it means more because San Diego is a Navy town, with resident retired servicepeople and families who still remember WWII...

Remembering Maurice Rosenblatt

Sometimes The Washington Post misses something very important. Today's obituary of Washington lobbyist Maurice Rosenblatt, who died of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 90, is a case in point. Rosenblatt one of the chief strategists of the political movement headed by Eleanor Roosevelt that ended Joe McCarthy's witch-hunt, the National Committee for an Effective Congress. The Post obituary contains a couple of sins of omission that cry out to be corrected.

In a very nasty aside for an obituary, Matt Schudel questions the reality of Rosenblatt's memoirs:
Mr. Rosenblatt wrote occasional articles for newspapers, including The Washington Post, and often claimed to be at work on his memoirs, which were never completed, if they exist at all.
Rosenblatt's memoirs do exist. In fact, they are cataloged in the Maurice Rosenblatt papers collection, at the Library of Congress, boxes 77-80.

But there is a more significant omission. There is no mention of Rosenblatt's role in the American League for a Free Palestine, founded by Peter Bergson, Samuel Merlin , Ben Hecht, and other supporters of the Irgun. The organization, which evolved from the Committee for a Jewish Army and the Emergency Committee to Rescue the Jewish People of Europe, was instrumental in building American support for Israeli independence (for those too young to remember,Israel is in fact Palestine, and Israelis are the original Palestinians. They were called that until the establishment of the state of Israel, because Palestine was a colonial name). In that capacity, Rosenblatt helped produce Ben Hecht's pageant, produced by Billy Rose, starring Paul Muni and Marlon Brando, A Flag Is Born. The lead character was called "Tevye."

I came to know Rosenblatt through my film, Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die?. Although by 1981 Rosenblatt was a rich and powerful lobbyist, who could have made a great deal of money doing other things, he took time and trouble to arrange a Washington, DC screening in the United States Senate. The event was bi-partisan, sponsored by Senators Claiborne Pell (D-RI)--later chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (who appeared in the film)--and Rudy Boschwitz (R-MN). He invited newspaper reporters, so the film showing was covered by a Washington correspondent from the New York Times, Bernard Weinraub (later Hollywood bureau chief), and a Style reporter from the Washington Post, Felicity Barringer (now a New York Times Editor) who wrote a biography of Rosenblatt's long-time compantion, Tamara Wall (also not mentioned in the Post).

Later, Rosenblatt became a friend, inviting me to drinks and dinner when he stayed at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, regaling me with stories, and introducing me to Mrs. Walter Bishop, then-head of the United Nations Association, with the idea that I would make a film about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal. Maybe I should have done it, but I demurred, since at the age of 25, felt inadequate to the task. He also introduced me to some potential backers for a film about the history of Israel. Again, I backed out. He introduced me to the author Lawrence Leamer, to do a film about Ronald Reagan, sort of Michael Moore type thing. It got as far as drinks with Gore Vidal at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

The point is, no one before or since had been as helpful or supportive to a total stranger. It wasn't because he liked me--it was because he felt very proud of his associaton with Peter Bergson and Ben Hecht. He had defeated Joe McCarthy, but he was prouder still of his work to build the state of Israel, and he liked that I had made a film about a man he had admired, and a cause he admired, trying to save the Jews during WWII and build up a Jewish state afterwards.

That the State of Israel exists today is in some way due to the efforts of Maurice Rosenblatt and the American League for a Free Palestine. That is an accomplishment worth remembering.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ivan Really Was Terrible...

While living in Moscow, and coming to grips with his legacy, we realized that Ivan the Terrible's moniker was accurate. Isabel de Madariaga's new biography goes into the gory details, and The Moscow Times seems to like her account.

Victor Davis Hanson on Islamism

He says there's no secret about the real goals...
So as we try to assess the causes of Islamists’ venom toward the West, it seems wiser to listen to what they say rather than what we say they say.

If we would do that, we would conclude that the hatred of radical Islam is fed by envy, frustration, and pride — and thus existential: They despise Americans for who we are.

That’s why al Qaeda must constantly find new grievances, whether the West Bank, Israel itself, Jews, oil prices, troops in Saudi Arabia, Oil-for-Food, Afghanistan, or Iraq.

Indeed, the latest two-hour training video is little more than cut-and-paste from the Michael Moore Left and hand-me-downs from Euro anti-globalist radicals. Thus America, al Qaeda assures us, “seeks to ravage the entire globe for the interest…of corporate companies,” and so kills the sons of Islam “in Palestine, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Indonesia, the Caucuses, and elsewhere.”

Apparently about three billion Europeans, Asians, Russians, and Indians have been picking on poor suicide bombers and terrorists, who, in fact, are incognito environmentalists bent on stopping corporate exploitation of Mother Earth.

Yet there is one and only one legitimate objection of the crackpot radical Islamists that rings true: We in the West don’t listen to them when they promise us our deaths.

We should. They are yelling as loud as they can to tell us something that we don’t really want to hear.

Britain Celebrates 60th V-J Day Anniversary

You can read BBC coverage of British V-J Day commemorations here.

John LeBoutillier on Iraq

Iraq: General John Abizaid recently told a reporter off the record that we can not win in Iraq by militarily defeating the Insurgency; the best we can do is to keep things at a standstill until the Iraqi political situation settles down.

That is not what the General, the head of Centcomm, has told the Congress or the American people. In rosy testimony aimed at keeping up public support for the war, these military leaders follow the Vietnam War model: tell the public all is going well and tell the President what he wants to hear.

This, of course, is a prescription for disaster.

Military leaders who brown-nose the politicians - instead of telling the cold hard truth no matter how unattractive it may be - are a disgrace to their uniform.

The plain facts of the Iraq venture are becoming clearer by the minute: the fundamentalist Muslims, with whom we are at war and have been since November 4, 1979 when they overran our Embassy in Iran and seized the hostages, are taking over the government in Iraq and are under the thumb of Tehran. In fact, the new Iraqi draft Constitution reduces women’s rights and mandates that the Sharia, the Islamic Law, become the law of the land.

So our entire Iraq adventure may end up resulting in the removal of Saddam (a decidedly good thing) and the imposition of a Fundamentalist Islam state in alliance with our arch enemies and charter member of the Axis of Evil, Iran (a very, very bad thing).

Inside the Kirov Ballet

Robert Kaiser has a wonderful article in today's Washington Post , about his return visit to the Vaganova Academy of ballet after 33 years.

ST. PETERSBURG In February 1972, as the Moscow correspondent of this newspaper, I visited the Vaganova Ballet Academy, principal training ground for the renowned Kirov/Maryinski Ballet, in its historic home in Leningrad -- then the name of this exotic city on the Neva River. I was a young reporter trying to solve the mysteries of the U.S.S.R. Unexpectedly, that visit provided something close to revelation.

The Vaganova Academy, where Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov all learned to dance, first taught me how the Soviet Union accomplished its most important objectives. The secret was to limit the number of goals, and then to lavish resources on them. This was how the first Sputnik was launched, and then how the Soviets conducted their side of the nuclear arms race. It was also the method for training Olympic athletes. My visit to the Vaganova Academy was my first direct exposure to this method -- which was the way the school produced world-class ballet dancers. This was an important moment in my Soviet education.

In June, I revisited the academy to see how the passage of 33 years and the collapse of the Soviet Union had changed this famous school. I had no idea what to expect but eagerly anticipated new revelations. In a surprising way, I found them -- more about that in a moment.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

My Father, the Spy . . .

I'm not usually a big fan of NPR's Diane Rehm show, but the other day I heard a good interview with John Richardson, author of My Father, The Spy: An Investigative Memoir. Most striking was Richardson's discussion of his father's confrontation over Vietnam with Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge in the 1960s.

Richardson's mention of the Diem assassination made me think. The US makes a mistake when it overthrows friendly governments to find more pliable partners. Diem clearly understood Vietnamese politics and society. But when he clashed with America's "arrogance of power," in the interests of his country, he got killed. He may have been a pain in the neck, but he was on our side. Richardson knew this, and it ruined his career.

Despite numerous American-sponsored elections after that, and a number of different presidents, Vietnam fell to the Communists--something Diem prevented.

As Richardson spoke, I thought about the fate of Cambodia, where the US sponsored the overthrow of Prince Sihanouk and his replacement by General Lon Nol. A basically neutral leader, protecting his country from war, Sihanouk was overthrown by an arrogant and impatient US that wanted more help in Vietnam. The result: Cambodia was destroyed, millions died, and the Khmer Rouge came to power. William Shawcross documented this in his book, Sideshow. Again, destabilizing a regime that was no threat to the US led to a geopolitical as well as moral defeat.

Richardson discussed American involvement in elections in Greece and Italy, defending America's right to support friendly candidates against the Communist menace.

He sounded reasonable. And Richardson's book certainly sounds worth reading, in the context of American foreign policy today...

Yes, The New Yorker

Just read the August 1st issue of The New Yorker, and it has a lot of interesting articles, including John Cassidy's profile of Republican activist Grover Norquist. Since I once rented office space from Grover, I couldn't stop reading the article.

The best reason to read this issue, however, is Philip Gourevitch's story on the Tamil Tiger movement in Sri Lanka--in the news today because of the state of emergency declared after yesterday's assassination of Sri Lanka's foreign minister. Gourevitch predicted a rise in violence, it seems due to fights over control of Tsunami aid money that the West insists go to the Tamils over objections of the Sri Lankan government. Gourevitch is more sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers than most people we met when we were tourists in Sri Lanka (it killed the beach resort and elephant orphanage businesss). He does point out that they used suicide bombers and other techniques now used by Al Qaeda, were trained in Lebanon, and supported by the Indian Government (ironically, Tamil Tigers killed Indira Gandhi). Gourevitch is too soft on the Tamil Tigers and their supporters.

Not gone into at length is the role of big powers in supporting terrorists, in this case. Gourevitch doesn't emphasize the fact that when India dropped support for the Tamil Tiger movement, things began to calm down--until now, as Western Tsunami aid (no doubt some from US taxpayers), funneled to the Tigers in Tiger controlled areas via NGOs, appears to be fueling Tamil Tiger terrorism once more.

IMHO A comprehensive approach to fighting terror may need to include a more effective policy to prevent humanitarian NGOs from supporting terrorists either directly or indirectly.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Russia Profile

Unwrapping the Mystery Wrapped in the Enigma.

Bull Moose Explains the Highway Bill

From Bull Moose:
...Roads rock. Roads are romantic. Simple, yes, but true. The Mooselings love roads. And if the Moosleings are right about this one, so do most Americans. They may not give voice to that love, but deep down, in their daily lives and genetic identity, they are inherently and soulfully connected to our nation's highways and byways. And, mundane as they may seem, those roads are one of the most regular and most tangible links that most people have to some sort of shared national experience -- talk about common ground. Any forward-thinking politician trying to position himself strategically for 2008, would be wise to court the asphalt voter.

For many people, new roads, like sprawl in general, are either good or bad. They ruin our way of life, some say, they are environmentally unsound, and cut away at our community. But, others respond, you can't stop progress, and you should stop hating on America. The Mooslings argue that highways, and the vehicles we love to drive on them, aren't that easy to pigeonhole, they're far more ambiguous, alluring, overwhelming, and complicated.

A long time ago, Robert Penn Warren captured that menacing power in the opening pages of All the King's Men, describing a southern Highway 58, in 'the country where the age of the internal combustion engine has come into its own,' a strange land:

Where the smell of gasoline and burning brake bands and red-eye is sweeter than myrrh. Where the eight-cylinder jobs come roaring around the curves in the red hills and scatter the gravel like spray, and when they ever get down in the flat country, and hit the slab God have mercy on the mariner.

Roger L. Simon Bashes Bush Administration

Roger L. Simon has criticized Bush's pitiful PR operation, saying the best defenses of American foreign policy come from bloggers, not the administration.

He's right, but that might be because Bush administration insiders realize things may be worse than they seem.

Plus, there may be so much money flowing to good ol' boys that there is no incentive to hire any first-rate people who might make the insiders look bad by comparison. One example, the Pentagon's brilliant PR specialist, Tori Clarke (who I once saw speak persuasively at a Washington conference, when she was head of the National Television Cable Association), was replaced by Larry Di Rita, a chief of staff without any media experience. I had a nodding acquaintance with Di Rita when he was at the Heritage Foundation as a budget expert (he once gave me some numbers on public broadcasting). He may be intelligent, but he is not a media guru. Yet, as Rumsfeld's chief of staff, Di Rita has been handling Pentagon PR for years, since Tori Clarke left, seemingly impervious to the dropping ratings for the American war in Iraq.

Good PR people influence policy decisions, because actions speak louder than words. Tori Clarke, for instance, pushed through the project to embed reporters with US troops against the objections of Pentagon brass. However, if the minds at the top are made up, locked tight, and don't want to listen to the public, good public relations become impossible, and good PR people become unavailable...

Maybe Jack Abramoff's indictment will lead to some changes in policies and personnel-- but I wouldn't count on it.

Daniel Pearl Case Not Over

According to this New York Times story, another suspect has been charged in the murder of late Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Does the Uzbek KGB Run the Country?

Lyndon Allin sent us this item from his blog, Scraps of Moscow: Novaya Gazeta on where the power lies in Uzbekistan. Since Uzbekistan was already a police state under the Soviets, before 9/11, before Andijan, and before the expulsion of the US base from Karshi-Khanabad, it wouldn't surprise me if the security services still play a major role in running the country. However, when I lived there it seemed there were always Byzantine power struggles going on (impossible for an outsider to understand) between different regional clans, ministries, and personalities. So I would doubt any one agency could control everything entirely, even the Uzbek KGB...

Where are the War Heroes?

Lawrence Suid sent the following Op-Ed, originally written for the New York Times, which declined to publish it:
Where Are the War Heroes?
by Lawrence Suid

In trying to answer his question: Where Are the War Heroes?, Damien Cave may have gone to the wrong people. Instead of talking with journalists, military historians, and a former general, he probably should have talked with the entertainment media.. To be sure, George C. Scott’s Patton did acknowledge, “Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser.” This certainly explains why few heroes emerged from the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Nevertheless, Hollywood has regularly produced heroes on the screen even while fighting these unpopular wars. Richard Nixon watched Patton twice before ordering the invasion of Cambodia. While some Americans saw Scott’s warrior Patton as the cause of the Vietnam War, others wondered where was the general when the nation needed him.

In fact, many people observed that people like Patton and Robert Duvall’s Marine flier in The Great Santini should be locked up between wars. In any event, if unpopular wars fail to produce heros of the ilk of Sergeant York and Audie Murphy, filmmakers have always managed to provide Americans with visual images of men and women who went beyond the call of duty while carrying out their government’s orders whatever the popularity of the war.

William Holden’s Navy flier in Bridges at Toko Ri objects strenuously to having been recalled to active duty, yet he dies heroically, albeit in a muddy ditch. Gregory Peck’s Army officer takes Porkchop Hill in the movie of the same name even though he and his men know they will have to give it up when the Korean War cease fire goes into effect. Even Michael J. Fox’s character in Casualties of War acts heroically by reporting that his comrades had raped and murdered a Vietnamese girl even though the guilty soldiers might try to kill him.

This portrayal remained the exception in movies set in Vietnam in the 1970s and 1980s. Ironically, at the same time, Hollywood began the process of rehabilitating the image of the American fighting man. Of course, filmmakers had to return to World War II or to the peacetime military for their heroes. Midway, in 1976, portrayed many heroes in the battle that changed the course of World War II, not the least of whom was Charlton Heston who led an attack against the Japanese fleet before crashing spectacularly onto his carrier, albeit a crash that used a Korean War jet for the explosion.

A Bridge Too Far, the next year, portrayed several real American heroes particularly General James Gavin and Major Julian Cook whom Robert Redford played crossing the Rhine in a canvas boat in the face of whithering German fire. Ultimately, Top Gun, with Tom Cruise playing the ultimate peacetime Navy fighter pilot hero, completed the rehabilitation of the military’s image which Vietnam had so badly savaged.

With the American people once again believing its armed services could succeed in any combat situation, President Bush I easily mustered the nation’s support for the first Gulf War and the military quickly drove the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait. However, the war lasted too short a time to produce actual heros, leaving it to Hollywood to create, in Courage Under Fire, the first female recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Although Steven Bochco is offering up his own heroes in the FX series Over There the current Iraq war presents problems not only to the producer but to the military whatever its interest is in providing the American people with heros. Real heroes, such as Sergeant York and Audie Murphy, and cinematic ones emerge as a result of their fighting against overwhelmlng odds. In the current war, despite the devastation the insurgents are inflicting on American soldiers and Iraqi civilians, the United States military holds a numerical and quality of firepower over the enemy. Consequently, only occasionally do Americans find themselves performing beyond the call of duty. And, as the war becomes more and more unpopular because of the growing loses and the reality that no Weapons of Mass Destruction existed, Americans will have less and less reason to praise those heroes that may be offered up.

With that said, to make his point, Mr. Cave ignored that CBS Evening News has every night presented a “Fallen Hero” to the American people. Whether the nation will respond to other heroes, real and imagined, may be seen starting this Friday when The Great Raid opens nation-wide, telling the true story of how a small force of U.S. Rangers rescued more than 500 American POWs from a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines despite facing a vastly superior number of enemy soldiers. Will people want to sit through images of Japanese atrocities may well depend on whether military heroes still have appeal to Americans, especially during an unpopular war.