Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Daniel Pipes on the Iraq Hostage Crisis

Why did the abductors threaten their friends in this way? What is their possible logic? The statement that accompanied the video that charged the men with "working undercover as Christian peace activists" provides some clues. First, for Islamists and other Iraqis, an organization with "Christian" in the title must be missionary in purpose and presumably targeting Muslims for conversion, something they find unacceptable. Second, the notion that Westerners, and Americans especially, are really on the Islamists' side versus the U.S. government just does not register. Iraqis more readily see such people as spies than as self-loathing Americans, the latter phenomenon remaining deeply foreign to them. Put another way, how could the "Swords of Righteousness Brigade" understand the "Christian Peacemaker Teams"? Their names alone point to a nearly unbridgeable divide.

Orianna Fallaci's NY Speech

Roger L. Simon tipped us off to this report on Atlas Shrugs:
Fallaci claims to be neither left nor right. She despises the left for the obvious reasons and holds the right in contempt for being weak. For not taking a hard stand and making the tough choices.

"Don't believe in a dialog with Islam. That's a naivete. It can only be a monologue. They do not believe in pluralism. There is no such thing as a "moderate Islam" and a Radical Islam. There is only one Islam."
I too believe this as much as it pains me to say it. I would like nothing better to believe that there is a side we can do business with, talk to. But that is self deluding.

Fallaci:"The real enemy is Islam and the most catastrophic threat is immigration not terror. It is immigration. And they do not integrate in Europe. Maybe in the USA but not in Europe. Those riots in France are a result of that very thing". The Chinese, Vietnamese etc immigrants are not rioting and tearing down the very fabric of society.

They [The Islamists] are very patient. And Clever.

This war needs boldness.


and so she has spoken. And while it was painfully clear she was preaching to the converted, it was also painful that the choir was so small.

Here's an excerpt from the report on Fallaci's speech on Frontpage
Fallaci told the audience that she faced three years in prison in Italy if convicted in her trial for hate speech. “But can hate be prosecuted by law? It is a sentiment. It is a natural part of life. Like love, it cannot be proscribed by a legal code. It can be judged, but only on the basis of ethics and morality. If I have the right to love, then I have the right to hate also.”

Hate? “Yes, I do hate the bin Ladens and the Zarqawis. I do hate the bastards who burn churches in Europe. I hate the Chomskys and Moores and Farrakhans who sell us to the enemy. I hate them as I used to hate Mussolini and Hitler. For the cause of freedom, this is my sacrosanct right.”

What’s more, Fallaci pointed out that Europe’s hate speech laws never seem to be used against the “professional haters, who hate me much more than I hate them”: the Muslims who hate as part of their ideology. While Fallaci faces three years in prison in Italy, “any Muslim can unhook a crucifix from a wall in a school or hospital and throw it into the garbage,” with little fear of consequences. Also unprosecuted, she said, were those responsible for a vile little publication entitled Islam Punishes Oriana Fallaci, which urges Muslims to kill her, invoking five Qur’anic passages about “perverse women.” In Italy Fallaci must be guarded around the clock; but no effort has been made to bring those who threatened her to justice . . .

. . . Then Fallaci threw down the gauntlet to the multicultural, politically correct, and fearful. “There is not,” she asserted, “good Islam or bad Islam. There is just Islam. And Islam is the Qur’an. And the Qur’an is the Mein Kampf of this movement. The Qur’an demands the annihilation or subjugation of the other, and wants to substitute totalitarianism for democracy. Read it over, that Mein Kampf. In whatever version, you will find that all the evil that the sons of Allah commit against themselves and against others is in it.”


After announcing the demise of the Daily Demarche, New Sisyphus tipped us off to this blog from a Foreign Service Officer who choses to remain anonymous. Since Diplomad shut down, and New Sisyphus retired, this may be the last of the Mohicans able to blog from inside Foggy Bottom. A shame, really. Diplomad was certainly better than what is coming from State's public diplomacy shop...

Bush: "Victory Will Take Time"

UPI's Martin Walker has the scoop on Bush's Iraq speech:
"Victory will take time," the document warns, but insists that the strategy is working.

"Much has been accomplished in Iraq, including the removal of Saddam's tyranny, negotiation of an interim constitution, restoration of full sovereignty, holding of free national elections, formation of an elected government, drafting of a permanent constitution, ratification of that constitution, introduction of a sound currency, gradual restoration of neglected infrastructure, the ongoing training and equipping of Iraqi security forces, and the increasing capability of those forces to take on the terrorists and secure their nation."

"Many challenges remain," the document concludes. "Iraq is overcoming decades of a vicious tyranny, where governmental authority stemmed solely from fear, terror, and brutality. It is not realistic to expect a fully functioning democracy, able to defeat its enemies and peacefully reconcile generational grievances, to be in place less than three years after Saddam was finally removed from power."

I guess that means the Iraq mission is not accomplished . . .

"The world would be a beter place if we respect the beauty in nature and its people"

Posted by Picasa
That's the text on the front of Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter's Christmas Card. The back reads: "ON THE COVER: William Woolfork created this artwork for the Barbie(TM) Children's Summit hosted by Mattel, Inc. His artwork is part of the collection awarded to The Carter Center by summit representatives, ages 6-13, in recognition of the Center's efforts to promote peace."
I'm not making this up...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

 Posted by Picasa

Season's Greetings from Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter

Believe it or not, today's mail brought a Christmas card signed by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter (or their autopen), along with a personal-seeming letter asking for money for their Carter Center. Before making a donation, I googled the Carter Center to learn more.

I found this interesting 2002 item from Newsmax:
NewsMax has reviewed annual reports that indicate millions of charitable dollars have flowed into the center from His Majesty Sultan Qaboss bin Said Al Said of Oman, Jordan, from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and from the Government of the United Arab Emirates.

Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated to the center by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development. H.R.H. Prince Moulay Hicham Ben Abdallah of Morocco has also contributed tens of thousands of dollars.

There are no corresponding contributions apparent from Israeli sources, however.

As the center�s literature describes, "The Carter Center and the Jimmy Carter Library were built in large measure thanks to the early leadership and financial support of the Carter Center founders.� Three of those generous founders:

Agha Hasan Abedi

On July 5 1991, banking regulators targeted Abedi�s Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), triggering a worldwide financial tidal wave. To date, accountants and lawyers have managed to recoup (discounting fees) $7 billion out of the $12 billion money pit that fueled the BCCI fraud.

Agha Hasan Abedi, a banker and self-styled mystic on first-name terms with Carter, created BCCI in 1972. Abedi had charmed seed money out of Arab sheikhs, organizing camel races and hunting trips. The Bank of America bought into BCCI as a way of buying access to the Middle East, holding a 30 percent stake at one point before dumping its holdings in the late-1970s.

His Majesty King Fahd of Saudi Arabia

Last month Saudi Arabia transferred $15.4 million in advance aid to the Palestinian Authority. The transfer was made to a controversial Arab League fund, a product of the recent Arab summit in Beirut. According to Arab spokesmen, the money was hurriedly contributed due to the dire plight of the Palestinian people as a result of "vicious Israeli aggression.�

King Fahd, Crown Prince Abdullah and Defense Minister Prince Sultan jointly donated $4.8 million to launch the fund pot, while Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz sent an estimated $800,000 to the families of "155 Palestinian martyrs� killed in the current Israeli offensive.

Hasib J. Sabbagh

Sabbagh is the chairman of Consolidated Contractors Co. of Oman, Jordan. He is also the Senior Fellow for the Middle East of the Council on Foreign Relations. Founded in 1921, the Council on Foreign Relations is a membership organization contributing ideas to U.S. foreign policy. The Council publishes Foreign Affairs, a leading journal on global issues.

Individual, foundation, and corporate donors, together with multilateral development assistance programs, support the Carter Center�s current annual operating budget of around $30 million. Among the center�s announced priorities: promoting democracy, global development, human rights and conflict resolution.

Carter said he has spent much time raising money, but he hopes that a campaign to raise a $150 million endowment will lighten the load. Phil Wise, the center�s executive director for operations, said an estimated $110 million has already been raised for the endowment.

Happy Holidays, Jimmy and Rosalynn, but I think I'll let King Abdullah take care of you, this holiday season. Oh, I forgot, publicly celebrating Christmas is illegal in Saudi Arabia.

But of course, Jimmy, you and Rosalynn knew that when you sent out those Christmas cards this year, didn't you?

Phyllis Chesler Speaks!

About wearing the chador in Afghanistan:
Firsthand experience of life under Islam as a woman held captive in Kabul has shaped the kind of feminist I became and have remained—one who is not multiculturally "correct." By seeing how women interacted with men and then with each other, I learned how incredibly servile oppressed peoples could be and how deadly the oppressed could be toward each other. Beebee Jan was cruel to her female servants. She beat her elderly personal servant and verbally humiliated our young and pregnant housemaid. It was an observation that stayed with me.

While multiculturalism has become increasingly popular, I never could accept cultural relativism. Instead, what I experienced in Afghanistan as a woman taught me the necessity of applying a single standard of human rights, not one tailored to each culture. In 1971—less than a decade after my Kabul captivity—I spoke about rescuing women of Bangladesh raped en masse during that country's war for independence from Pakistan. The suffering of women in the developing world should be considered no less important than the issues feminists address in the West. Accordingly, I called for an invasion of Bosnia long before Washington did anything, and I called for similar military action in Rwanda, Afghanistan, and Sudan.

In recent years, I fear that the "peace and love" crowd in the West has refused to understand how Islamism endangers Western values and lives, beginning with our commitment to women's rights and human rights. The Islamists who are beheading civilians, stoning Muslim women to death, jailing Muslim dissidents, and bombing civilians on every continent are now moving among us both in the East and in the West. While some feminist leaders and groups have come to publicize the atrocities against women in the Islamic world, they have not tied it to any feminist foreign policy. Women's studies programs should have been the first to sound the alarm. They do not. More than four decades after I was a virtual prisoner in Afghanistan, I realize how far the Western feminist movement has to go.

Wikipedia on Pajamas Media Troubles

(ht Ann Althouse)

Monday, November 28, 2005

NY Times: Samarkand Barbers Take Manhattan

Boris and Ely Mirzakandov once worked in rival barbershops in the Uzbek city of Samarkand. Now the two brothers share space at a barber spa in the back of the Art of Shaving, an elegant-looking store on Madison Avenue and 46th Street, a few blocks north of Grand Central Terminal. Past glass cabinets containing bone-handled straight razors and badger-hair shaving brushes, they perform straight-razor shaves and haircuts for lawyers and businessmen seeking a moment's respite from the day. A haircut and what the store calls a Royal Shave cost $80.
And to think I could get my haircut and shave for a dollar (sometimes 2 or 3) in the Aleisky Bazaar in Tashkent...

More on the Al Jazeera Bombing Memo

Herb Meyer on How to Win in Iraq

The former Reagan-era CIA official says to follow General Sherman's advice:
“We are not fighting armies but a hostile people, and must make young and old, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war…. I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no symptom of tiring till the South begs for mercy.”

This is precisely what Sherman was talking about when he famously said that “War is hell.”  He was a decent, honorable man and he hated doing what he knew must be done to end the war and stop the killing.  Here’s one Sherman quote about waging war you won’t see in a New York Times editorial: “The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”  In other words, to end a war you must crush not only the opposing army but also the population in whose name it fights; that sometimes you must act inhumanely to save humanity.

Is Sherman Wrong – or Right?

Of course, it’s possible that Sherman is wrong or that his wisdom isn’t relevant to our times.  Perhaps we really can win the war in Iraq without mercilessly crushing that part of Iraq’s population that continues to support the insurgency.  I hope so, because this is precisely what we are attempting to do.

On the other hand, what if Sherman is right?  Are we not following his advice because we no longer have the stomach to fight as he did?  In an age of photos, of videotapes, of embedded reporters and 24/7 television coverage, has it become politically impossible to impose the level of pain and hardship on an enemy population that is necessary to end a war? 

Or are we not following Sherman’s advice because our current military leaders have forgotten it, or never learned it in the first place?   Certainly this is the impression they give, with their endless talk of spreadsheets and matrices and statistics that “prove” we’re making progress.  From what I can see, a high percentage of our generals hold advanced degrees.  That’s nice, but in the real world there is such a thing as being too sophisticated.  Perhaps our generals should spend less time learning the intricacies of Excel and PowerPoint, and more time studying how Sherman’s brutal march through the South helped end the Civil War.

And perhaps our political leaders, in both parties, should shut up long enough to read Sherman’s memoirs.  They just might learn something about how to end a war.

More on Russia's Alaska Plans

Sergei Blagov reports:
The return of Alaska would be marked by a great national holiday, said Vladimir Zhirinovsky, an outspoken nationalist politician.

Russia would then have a presence on three continents -- Europe, Asia and America -- noted Zhirinovsky, who is deputy speaker of the lower house of parliament.

Touchez pas au grisbi...

Speaking of France, last night we watched Jean Gabin and a very very young Jeanne Moreau in Jacques Becker's Touchez pas au grisbi. It's a great film noir--hard-boiled and romantic at the same time. Very French. Add it to your Netflix list...

Moxie Doesn't Like Pajamas Media, Either

News from France: Sarkozy Starts Blogging

And Yannick Laclau likes what he sees:
The contrast between him and his rivals for the French presidency is...stunning: Sarkozy is out commenting on blogs side-by-side with other commenters that freely insult him, while Dominique de Villepin is out writing books on Napoleon and diplomatic history.

People may not like his ideas, but it's *no contest* that he's much more dynamic, and in touch with what people are thinking, than Villepin or Chirac.

I like the Internet-savvy (very Howard Dean), and hope he pushes the envelope here in France's next presidential elections; and I like his roll-up-your-sleeves attitude to problem-solving (very Rudy Giuliani).
(ht Instapundit)

UPDATE: Here's the link to Mathieu Kassovitz's French Blog with the Sarkozy debate. (I seem to remember his name from film school, perhaps connected with the French film company, MK2 Film). In any case, according to Stunned, Sarkozy's comment was blogged at 7:12 in response to Kassovitz's attack, in the comments section (scroll down). Sarkozy's conclusion (in French):
Voilà les quelques réflexions que m'inspire la lecture de votre blog. Je sais que vous êtes, avec votre style et vos convictions, à la recherche d'une prise de conscience des pouvoirs publics vis à vis des banlieues. Depuis tant d'années, beaucoup d'argent a été engagé, beaucoup d'efforts ont été entrepris par les services de l'Etat comme par les acteurs de terrain. Les résultats ne sont pas à la hauteur des attentes. Nous y avons tous notre part de responsabilité. Comment faire mieux et autrement ? Cette question, il faut maintenant la résoudre.

Demeurant disponible pour poursuivre, si vous le jugez utile, notre échange de vive voix, je vous prie de croire, Monsieur, à l'assurance de mes sentiments les meilleurs.
If you read French, you can read the whole thing...

Leadership v. Cheerleadership

[Annapolis] Mayor Ellen O. Moyer wasn't aware of the president's visit yesterday. But she joked that Mr. Bush should root for Navy as it takes on the U.S. Military Academy in the annual Army-Navy football game Saturday in Philadelphia.

"I'm hoping he's giving a message to spur them on," she said.
The Capital (Annapolis)
President Bush's impending visit to Annapolis--where he may or may not announce the beginning of an American withdrawal from Iraq-- underscores the extent to which his administration has become a captive of his role as national cheerleader. Onc can date this role to the appearance of the President with a megaphone in the ruins of the World Trade Center.

Whatever he says, or doesn't, on Wednesday at the US Naval Academy, there is a sense that Bush can make little difference, now, that he is not the master of his own destiny, that the "insurgents", or "Democrats," or even "traitors" are in control. All he seems to be able to do is "support the troops" by cheering them on at pep rallies around the nation--or damning his critics elsewhere.

The tragedy of Katrina showed America that cheerleadership is not, and never will be, leadership.

Leadership is not a matter of who can yell the loudest, rather it is the ability to persuade people do what needs to be done. Leadership is the ability to act and to inspire others to join with you in solving problems. And a truly great leader helps people to think that they are doing what needs to be done all by themselves. That was the genius of a Ronald Reagan, an FDR, or a Rudy Giuliani.

After watching George W. Bush for some five years, I'm not sure that he realizes this. Every time he stages a pep rally, he is hurting his own authority as a leader. Every time he pulls a publicity stunt instead of solving a problem, he weakens morale. The more he talks, the worse it gets.

Which is not to diminish the importance of cheerleading, in sports or in life. Many successful American Presidents have been cheerleaders in college or high school: Reagan, Eisenhower, and FDR come to mind. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a cheerleader for her Brooklyn high school, as well. And of course, cheerleaders can inspire a team to win in a close game, they can make the difference--but they are no substitute for top talent, a good game plan, a good coach, a good quarterback, a good goalie, or a good pitcher.

For Bush apparently approaches the bully pulpit of the Presidency like the Yale and Andover yell leader he once was. He's grandstanding. He's looking at the crowd, not the game. He doesn't have his eye on the ball.

Instead, he targets his messages to "the base," that is, the fans of one team. He tries cheerleader stunts, acrobatics such as landing on an aircraft carrier, chants like "Stay the course"--equivalent to "Hold that line!" He holds rallies rather than debates, and stays away from the field of battle--whether on CNN, town meetings, Afghanistan or Iraq--in the way a cheerleader stays on the sidelines during a game, not crossing over to confront the opposing team's fans. His entire "on message" Presidential apparatus is seemingly some sort of Yell Team. But it is not in the game.

The emphasis on "contracting out" -- whether to Iraqis, Halliburton, NATO Allies, or Mongolians -- reflects Bush's Yale Yell Captain's approach. He's not playing the game. He's not putting on the helmet and getting in the middle of the action. He's not going to get crushed by a human refrigerator. That's for the jocks. He'll support the troops--but he won't put his neck on the line.

Again like a Yell Captain, Bush doesn't actually make the hard decisions when they need to be made. Since all he has to do is cheer, he doesn't replace the quarterback in time. In this administration, the incompetent quit for themselves, only after long delay and much public outcry. Since there is no penalty for failure on the field, only for insufficient "school spirit," the team falls farther and farther behind.

How long did George Tenet stay on the job after 9/11--the greatest intelligence failure in US history? With him in charge of the CIA, is anyone really surprised the administration failed to find WMD? Or estimate the Iraqi resistance? Not to mention Rumsfeld, Powell, and the rest. Even if some of these guys were once good players, they're like Orel Hersheiser with a burnt out arm--they just don't have anything left to give. Yet the Cheerleader-in-Chief let them stay on the job.

A Commander-in-Chief would take charge, fire the coach, pick some new talent, and rev up the team. But the Bush administration, which values "loyalty" (team spirit), apparently doesn't reward talent or brains. A team owner, coach, or quaterback might listen to critics, might watch game films, might hire and fire. In politics this might mean trying to persuade critics, to bring the Democrats on board, to get everyone playing on the same team. It might recruiting new talent. Taking responsibility. Even resigning, if he isn't up to the task.

But these are not the responsibilities of a cheerleader, not even of a Yell Captain. If the team is losing, the cheerleader just yells louder, cheers harder, maybe even prays...

No wonder Jack Murtha (R-PA) called it quits.

Human Rights Suffer Worldwide

According to the Budapest Times, Persident Bush's crusade for democracy may paradoxically hurt the cause of human rights:
Instead of former communist countries picking up the good habits of the West, there are hints that western democracies have adopted the bad legacies of former totalitarian states, Ferenc Kõszeg, chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, stated. He referred to the US-led war on terrorism by way of illustration.

Whereas many of the most flagrant human rights violations of former Communist countries have been largely resolved, new and acute problems have emerged, often in the name of state security, concurred Jeri Laber, senior adviser to Human Rights Watch.

“I am embarrassed and sad that my country America, which 20 years ago represented freedom to the world, is condoning torture,” said Laber. She said she had very different perceptions of the US in 1985, when she helped to bring the Alternative Cultural Forum to Budapest.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mubarak: Only Sharon Can Make Peace

I remember when Sharon was called a "butcher" and "war criminal." Why have some people changed their minds about him? Could it be that those charges were just anti-crude Israel propaganda? Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's recent statements about the Israeli leader would seem to indicate just that:
"Sharon, of all the Israeli politicians, is the only one capable of achieving peace with the Palestinians," Mubarak said in an interview with Spain's ABC newspaper.

"He has the ability to take difficult decisions, commit to what he says and carry it out," he said.

Karzai Blasts Afghan NGOs

President Hamid Karzai sounds a little bit like Vladimir Putin or Islam Karimov talking about Non-Governmental Organizations:
On the eve of the Afghanistan Development Forum, Karzai issued a stinging rebuke to non-government organizations (NGOs) “for squandering the precious resources that Afghanistan received in aid from the international community.”

Ann Althouse Still Doesn't Like Pajamas Media

Al Jazeera's "Don't Bomb Us Blog"

(ht LGF)

More Miguel Osuna


  • Just got a nice email from artist Miguel Osuna, thanking me for mentioning his artwork in the Mexican Cultural Center here in DC. So I took a look at his website, and there's plenty more where "Maelstrom" came from. I think it might be worth a look . . .
  • Saturday, November 26, 2005

    Iraqi Shi'ite Leader: US Too Weak Against Terrorists

    Big news from Iraq:
    His repeated assertion that the United States was being too weak against Iraq's insurgency, allowing attacks to mushroom, appeared to suggest that any future Iraqi government that included him would share his view. With Iraqis scheduled to vote Dec. 15 for the country's first full-term government since the U.S. invasion in 2003, some analysts predict that Hakim will come from behind the scenes into direct political contention.

    Abdul Aziz Hakim is chief of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite Muslim religious party.

    Russia to Buy Alaska?

    I read the original Washington Post column by Steven Pealstein that proposed selling Alaska as a solution to America's financial problems. (It also said that Alaska had a Soviet-style economy because of federal spending obtained by Senator Ted Stevens [R-AK])It seems like a funny joke at the time--but apparently in Russia,according to RIA-Novosti, people are now discussing the idea seriously:


    Alaska buyback: not for another 10 years - Russian expert

    Russian experts are commenting on the proposal by Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein that only Alaska's sale to Russia for $1 trillion would recoup U.S. costs.

    Mikhail Delyagin, director of the Institute for Globalization Problems: "Russia should create a civilized state in the first place before buying Alaska. I think in about 10 years' time we will cope with the consequences of our national catastrophe, and the American problems will reach their peak. It is not before that we can speak of a buyback. Incidentally, Alaska may have a lower price tag by that time."

    Sergei Markov, director of the Institute for Political Studies: "Why buy an almost deserted territory, snow and ice, when our people suffer suffocating poverty, and the health, education and other services are in ruins? Russia has vast tracts of land that it is unable to develop, for example Siberia, where there is the threat that it may be populated by other nations. Adding a new province will not make matters easier."

    Dmitry Oreshkin, head of the Merkator research group: "It all sounds like a joke, although the patriots will be pleased. They will shout that it is a restoration of historical justice. They think along 19th century or Stalin-era lines when the perceived wisdom was that a state's territory is its might. Meanwhile, Holland, which is equal to Moscow and the surrounding area in size, is economically more influential than Russia with its 17 million square kilometers. It is a hare-brained plan. What Russia does not need is new territories. We are living in an era when infrastructure, rather than territory, is important."

    Yevgeny Yasin, head of research at the Higher School of Economics: "If we are concerned with the problem of sterilization (excessive finances), we should first eliminate all obstacles to free entrepreneurship. In our case it is the very opposite: we are continuing to nationalize, and so the question has cropped up: should we not buy Alaska back?"

    When I lived in Russia, my students would always say that Alaska should be returned to Russia, so Pearlstein may have started something here--resurrection of an irredentist territorial claim . . .

    Control Room

    Just finished watching Control Room on DVD. Given the recent news story about President Bush maybe joking with Prime Minister Blair about bombing Al Jazeera, the cinema-verite style documentary seemed quite relevant.

    Yes, it's biased. Yes, the director is obviously leaving something out--and luckily, on the DVD, she put some of it back in. The outtakes consisting of deleted interview snippets are almost the best part. Because in those snippets the interview subjects--charming, educated, sophisticated, Westernized Arabs--admit that they don't believe that what Osama bin Laden does is terrorism (or, if it is, then Bush and America are also terrorists). Yet, one of the protagonists admits that he wants his children to study in the USA--and then stay to live...

    The paradoxes and complexities of the Arab mind are on full display. On view as well are the shortcomings of the current American way of war confronting the realities of the Middle East. Lieutenant Josh Rushing, a Marine Corps press attache, is simply outclassed by the media types. He can only repeat talking points, denying that there is a US occupation because America didn't raise a flag. Hassan Ibrahim tells him, "But you are occupying Iraq." Josh won't admit it, till the end. It's pathetic, and evidence of the screw-ups coming from the top. Since Americans are "liberators" they can't be "occupiers"--ridiculous on its face, especially since in Germany and Japan the US occupied the countries for many years.

    The killing of an Al Jazeera correspondent in Baghdad would make a good plot for a mystery film. It is unclear what happened, even though much of it was broadcast on TV. Was he doing something he shouldn't have been? From his look at the camera right before he was bombed, one gets the sense that he didn't want to be in the midst of the battle, that he didn't want the cameras to turn to cover the battlefield, and that perhaps there had been an agreement between the TV network and the military to that effect. Or, maybe not. Certainly, his last look had a haunted quality.

    Or maybe that's reading too much into it, after the fact. Maybe somebody just heard Bush's joke--and went to work calling in air strikes?

    Jehane Noujaim has made a propaganda film, but a very good propaganda film (unlike Michael Moore's crude agitprop). It comes from a Pan-Arabist perspective. It is not reality. It is not truth. And it is certainly not the whole truth, but it may very well be a true account of how many Arabs saw the Iraq war.

    For that, we should be grateful.

    "Bulls***t Rising"

    Here's an extract from Mark Ames' savage--though interesting--review in of Washington Post reporters Peter Baker and Susan Glasser's recent book about Russia, mentioned by Konstantin:
    The sheer enormity of their sleaze and deceit is too much even for a lead article. A chapter-by-chapter survey of the duo's book is a good way to become acquainted with their agenda.

    Chapter 1, "Fifty-two Hours in Beslan." The brutality and incompetence described in this account of Beslan are shocking and, admittedly, well written. But without some perspective -- namely, the Yeltsin regime's response to the hostage crisis in Budyannovsk in June, 1995, when special forces shot and killed dozens of hostages in bungled attempts to storm the hospital, and again the brutality and incompetence of the Pervomaisk hostage crisis a year later, with similar bloody results. Beslan may have had a higher and more grisly kill-count, but it differed little in substance. By omitting the fact that the Chechen Wars, both 1 and 2, were Boris Yeltsin projects designed to keep him in power and protect his interests, Baker-Glasser manipulate history and throw the entire blame on the bad guys -- Putin, the KGB, and anyone not sufficiently pro-American (Yelstin was our tool, so therefore, the authors do their best to simply leave his name out.).

    Another interesting omission is the eerie similarity between Putin's m.o. and Bush's. For example, they take him to task for linking the war in Chechnya to Al Qaeda and international terrorism, observing, "at its root, the Chechnya conflict had little to do with Al Qaeda." With Bush linking the war in Iraq to Al Qaeda, and Blair blaming the London Underground bombings on Al Qaeda, you'd think that Baker-Glasser, whose newspaper was one of the strongest cheerleaders for war in Iraq, would be a little more humble. Wrong. "Rather than resolve the underlying political grievances and remove the popular mandate for the rebels, [Putin] had demonized, victimized, and consequently radicalized an entire people." What's grossly wrong here is that the Chechens were already pretty damn radicalized after Yeltsin's war, having kidnapped (and in some cases beheaded on video camera) some 3,000 Russians during their period of independence from 1996-9, introduced Wahabbi-style Sharia law, and finally they invaded Russia in the summer of 1999. I repeat: they invaded Russia! These facts are given little play, however, making their account of the Chechen war as duplicitous as if someone were to report on the rampant terrorism in Iraq today without mentioning that it first arose with the American occupation.

    Chapter 2: "Project Putin." The description of Chubais, a man hairline-deep in the largest corruption scandals in human history: "a tall, red-haired reformer who had orchestrated the largest sell-off of state assets in world history..." Wildly deceitful description #2: "With Yeltsin's permission, Putin dispatched troops to [Chechnya]." That would be like saying, "With Hitler's permission, General Walther von Brauchitsch dispatched troops to the Soviet Union for Operation Barbarossa." The whole purpose of the Second Chechen War was to create popularity for Putin, thereby securing the Yeltsin clan's power, loot and immunity. Stepashin was fired by Yeltsin because he didn't have the balls to launch the second war on behalf of the Yeltsin clan; Putin was brought in specifically to head that war. Saying Yeltsin "approved it" is about as bone-white a whitewash as you can get. Omitting this is incredibly sleazy, yet it is necessary in order to create the Kremlin Villain which is central to Baker-Glasser's pitch.

    Chapter 4: "The Takeover Will Be Televised." Here the omissions and whitewashings reach fever pitch, and the revisionism turns to outright lies. Commenting on Putin's takeover of NTV in 2000/2001, they write, "The showdown at Ostankino had been building ever since [NTV's] Igor Malashenko had refused to help the Kremlin install Vladimir Putin as the next Russian president in the summer of 1999, saying he could not trust a KGB man." He sounds like a good guy, right? Except that the real reason Malashenko didn't support Putin was because his boss at NTV, oligarch Vladimir Gusinksy, backed a rival senior KGB operator, Yevgeny Primakov, who, had he won, would have shut down ORT, the TV station that backed Putin. Meanwhile, Gusinsky's rise to power is whitewashed this way: "One venture led to another until finally he was able to put together a bank in 1989." This kind of explanation-by-omission is so cheap, it recalls Ash's attempt to take the Book of the Dead: "[cough]-venture-[cough]-another... Okay, then, we described it. Everything's cool." In one of the most violent, corrupt countries, one wonders what this "one venture led to another" business was all about -- but if explained, it might seriously undermine the dichotomy setup that is crucial to this book. Later in the chapter, Mikhail Kasyonov is described as "pro-market" and "respected in the West as a formidable international-debt negotiator and seen as a reliable promoter of capitalism -- so much so that some had questioned whether he was profiting personally on the side." Note how they slyly avoid mentioning what everyone in Russia associates with Kasyanov -- his nickname, "Misha Two-Percent," supposedly the fee he charged on every single corrupt international debt deal he oversaw -- by arguing that he was so darned good at being a pro-Western capitalist that certain unnamed enemies (and we can all guess who they are) jealously smeared him. No halfway professional journalist could possibly spend four years in Moscow during Kasyonov's reign, and fail to mention his nickname, or how he earned it -- not unless it's part of an agenda. Which of course it is. Kasyanov is a good guy; therefore, any bad news about him is both omitted and dismissed as mere jealousy. Lastly, in this chapter, Baker and Glasser's larger hatred of Russia spews into the open: "While the intelligentsia was outraged at the loss of NTV, the vast majority of the public was not, so long as they continued to get foreign movies and other high-quality entertainment they had come to expect from the channel." To prove their point about the innate savagery of the Russian masses, they compare their reaction to that of America's most reliable lickspittles, the Czechs: "By coincidence, around the same time, more than one hundred thousand people protested in the much smaller Czech Republic against the appointment of a new state television director they considered insufficiently independent." Gee, why not just compare Russian apathy to America?...

    * * *

    Every chapter of Kremlin Rising is thereafter packed with increasing numbers of glaring omissions and grotesque whitewashings combined with terrifying fear-mongering that would have made Tom Ridge proud. Meanwhile, they constantly fawn over anyone rich and pro-West, while either ignoring the horrible poverty, or blaming the Russians for their own wretchedness. They described the collapsed health care system, which worked better at least before "whiz-kid" Gaidar got his hands on the budget, as the fault of "a rigid system [that] refused to help itself" while making the astonishingly patronizing claim that "many Russians did not even realize hjust how poor the care they were receiving was." This is just a flat-out lie -- all you ever hear about is how poor their health care is, and how much worse it has gotten under Western-backed post-Soviet reforms.

    The horrible truth about the Putin regime is that it is largely an extension of theYeltsin regime. It was under Yeltsin that all of the problems and evils described in this book -- from the wars in Chechnya to the destruction of democracy and free speech, the corruption, indifference and cruelty they describe -- began. It has clearly gotten worse under Putin, particularly on the things that matter most to Westerners when we judge other countries. But what matters most to most Russians is making enough money to eat, and hopefully staying alive a little longer than 57 years. This desire to get paid, eat and live a bit longer is of no interest to Baker-Glasser, however, not unless it can somehow bolster their argument that Putin is a scary guy. Of all the omissions in this book, the most glaring is the omission of the economic boom under Putin. Whether or not he hasanything to do with it, at least under his reign, workers get paid, something that often didn't happen under Yeltsin. Baker and Glasser aren't interested in this -- or about the destruction of the labor movement, for example -- because poor people just get in their way. Indeed they are the anti-Michael-Moore: fear-mongering, propagandizing while claiming objectivity, fighting on behalf of the plutocrats against the downtrodden masses.

    Konstantin's Russian Blog Likes Washington Post "Russian Chronicles"

    Lisa Dickey and David Hillegas did a great job with their Russian Chronicles project. I’m truly amazed. This is one of the most unbiased and honest report on life in Russia I ever read made by a journalist not by a casual tourist. Someone said, “If in Russia you find a dilapidated house in a god forgotten Siberian village. If there’s a dead drunk Russian wino lying in dirt near that house. If that drunk is shouting “Down with Putin”, then be sure to find a Washington Post reporter nearby interviewing the man.” The last book from Washington Post reporters “Kremlin Rising” is a true example of this kind of junk journalism. Here’s a very good review of the book by Mark Ames “Bullshit Rising”. Nice title.

    Russian Chronicles is a quite different report although the blog is hosted by WP.

    Friday, November 25, 2005

    Uzbek Culture Comes to Washington

    It may not be enough to undo the terrible public relations that Uzbekistan enjoys in the US capital, yet the Global Uzbek Council will sponsor some Uzbek culture at Washington, DC's American University on December 1st. (I hope the plov is not as fatty as in Uzbekistan--hold the cottonseed oil, please!)

    LeBoutillier: Bush Must Dump Rumsfeld to Save Himself

    An example: from January of this year until the summer, President Bush traveled the nation doing so-called Town Hall forums advocating Social Security Reform. He did over 70 of these events with massive local media attention. The result of this huge investment of Presidential Prestige? A total dismissal by the American people and the GOP Congress of the entire subject!

    In other words, the more President Bush stuck with the same script, the more he killed off the very issue he was promoting.

    Now the exact same thing is happening with his signature effort as President: the American people have tuned him out on his views of his war in Iraq. He has squandered his political capital and his credibility.

    What a mess!

    Now, how to fix it?

    He needs to make some changes - in personnel and policy - and do it now.

    1) Announce the ‘resignation’ of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.

    WSJ: Don't Bash Christians

    You read it here first, and today the Wall Street Journal weighs in on Anti-Defamation Leader Abe Foxman's mishegass about Evangelical Christians.

    Althouse on Kazakhstan v. Borat

    Today, I saw that Ann Althouse. has some links to a discussion of the case of Kazakhstan v. Borat.

    I hate to disagree with Ann Althouse, but IMHO Borat is wrong and Kazakhstan is right. I'm not a lawyer, soI don't see this is as a legal matter, rather one of good taste and consideration of people of other races and nationalities.

    However funny viewers might find Da Ali G show, the jokes are at the expense of a country that just doesn't resemble what Cohen portrays. Would he make the same jokes about Israel? Palestine? Saudi Arabia? Jordan? Poland? Italy? Ireland? South Africa? China? I'd like to see the reaction if he did...

    IMHO, Borat is bullying the weak. That's not a funny thing to do. It is an ugly thing to do.

    The reason that dialect and ethnic jokes went out of fashion in the US in the 1960s was that such humor is not funny to the butt of the joke. When he started his act, I'm sure Borat didn't know too much about Kazakhstan, hadn't met too many Kazakhs, and so thought it would be funny--and safe--to joke about them. Well, Kazakhs are not stupid, in spite of what Borat says. They may not know the ins and outs of the British legal system, but they have feelings that should be considered.

    Comedians can learn from their mistakes. Jerry Lewis spent the major part of his career making amends to spastic children for exploiting physical disabilities in his early comedy act, raising millions for "Jerry's Kids" in the Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day Telethon. Lewis realized he had done something wrong, and sought to make it right.

    If, on the other hand, Borat decides to tough it out, Kazakhstan has options other than international court. For example, they might decide to shut British oil and gas companies out of their country. If they do, let's see Borat and his fans laugh that joke off. Personally, I'd think it was hilarious . . .

    UPDATE: More on Borat, including a link to his video reply to Kazakhstan's complaints, from Nathan at

    FT: EU Report Bashes Israel

    London's Financial Times is reporting that the EU attacks Israel in a new policy paper dealing with Jerusalem. It's not much of a surprise, but it might make Israel think twice about permitting EU monitors into Gaza--given the legacy of the UK, especially. Indeed, it may be a mistake for the US government to utilize the EU as a proxy in this matter, as we seem to be doing, given memories of the British "White Paper" period in Palestine.

    Wednesday, November 23, 2005

    Dennis the Peasant v Pajamas Media

    After reading this post relating to the backstory behing Pajamas Media, I'd advise Roger L. Simon & Co. to settle with Dennis the Peasant. I'm no attorney, but based on a similar story with which I am rather familiar, it sounds like Dennis the Peasant has a plausible claim . . . (ht Ann Althouse)

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Blogging will be light for a while. In the meantime, here's a link to a Thanksgiving website featuring recipes, history, and other turkey-day lore . . .

    Ahmed Omar Abu Ali Faces Life in Prison

    According to CNN, the father of President Bush's would-be killer worked in Saudia Arabia's embassy in Washington, DC as a computer specialist. The convicted assassin is an alumnus of the Islamic Saudi Academy in Washington's Northern Virginia suburbs.

    After 9/11, I seem to remember that the Washington Post reported that "Death to America!" posters could be found on display in Saudi-funded schools.

    Here's an article by Abu Ali's lawyer, arguing his side of the case (he did not testify on his own behalf).


    The possibility that Iraq really might become another Vietnam--and I hope not, but it is looking a little grim at the moment--was a sobering context in which to screen Regis Wargnier's 1992 epic Indochine, starring the icily beautiful Catherine Deneuve (for some reason she reminded me of a thinner version of Senator Hillary Clinton in this role) as the French doyenne of a Vietnamese rubber plantation.

    Unfortunately, unlike East-West, which led me to getthe DVD from Netflix, Indochine left me a little cold.

    Somehow, this film rang false. The plot, obviously symbolic, became shambolic as it headed into its third hour. Maybe each event really happened, but it just didn't make sense to a puritanical American. The menage-a-trois between Deneuve, her adopted Vietnamese daughter, and her French naval officer lover seemed preposterous. The chases and escapes seemed farfetched. And the enigmatic ending, in Geneva, peculiarly unsatisfying.

    Somehow this Franco-Vietnamese romance seemed a little misguided, if not crazy-- l'amour fou. The French like this sort of thing, but it brought out too much of my own Ango-Saxon education and upbringing to enjoy. I couldn't understand why everyone was doing stupid and crazy things all the time.

    Plus, the communists, who are the heroes of this picture (was East-West only anti-Stalinist?) come off as cardboard cutouts. Pure heroes, liberating their nation by torching the estates of the mandarins. Surely, the reality must have been more complex.

    For a tragic story to work, all sides must have their human side--heroes are not all good, hence the "tragic flaw." Likewise, villians have their good side. But this was too unsubtle to enjoy fully.

    Nevertheless, the photography was good. And it is always fun to see a big star like Deneuve in a leading role. But Casablanca it's not.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    JTA: Saudis Pay for Anti-Israel Propaganda in US Public Schools

    Here's a story from JTA that might not make it into tomorrow's New York Times:
    NEW YORK, Oct. 23 (JTA) ≈ With the school year back in full swing, do you know what your children are learning?

    In thousands of public school districts across the United States, without ever knowing it, taxpayers pay to disseminate pro-Islamic materials that are anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.

    Often bypassing school boards and nudging aside approved curricula, teaching programs funded by Saudi Arabia make their way into elementary and secondary school classrooms.

    Inside the Washington Design Center

    After getting the car inspected this morning, someone I know and yours truly took an hour or so to visit the Washington Design Center, six floors of furniture and fabrics in a converted warehouse a stone's throw from the US Capitol. It was really a surprise to find such nice stuff in the bleak area by the railroad tracks and freeways. It also marks a change for Washington, which wasn't exactly a fashion or furnishing center. This place was "absolutely fabulous" with all sorts of strange things, including a bathtub made of stone that looked like an Egyptian sarcophagus from the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection. Favorite vendor was the Fabricut distributor who informed us their old-fashioned patterns and prints came from European venues like Paris's Ritz Hotel--via company headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma Company founders Mssrs. Guterman and Finer were Holocaust survivors who, after a few years in New York, headed West in search of wide open spaces, according to their company's informative website.

    Open Source Media Moguls Change Back into Pajamas

    You read it here first as mere speculation; now Charles Johnson confirms the hypothesis on his OSM Media website--Republicans in suits ruined Pajamas Media. Apparently, the name was so un-original that it was already being used by another website run by Boston radio host Christopher Lydon, called Open Source. So dumb, dull and unoriginal to copy a bad idea from Public Broadcasting, that only Republicans would do it--and did:
    So how did this happen in the first place? Back at the beginning, certain, shall we say, paternalistically minded parties (i.e., the guys in suits) decided that we should act like grownups, and being as yet somewhat immature—at least as businesspeople--we did as we were told.

    Which is how, one day, we ended up sitting around a conference table listening to representatives from a "branding" company. What followed is still a bit of a nightmarish blur, but it involved a PowerPoint presentation on the history of names, and such probing questions as, "If you were an animal, what animal would you be?" (Which is how we almost ended up as Jellyfish Media.)

    Enough said. So, in the spirit of "open source," we thought we’d tell you the real story behind the reason for our name change. And hope that our corporate parents will be satisfied with good grades and healthy revenue.

    IMHO, I'd think about stopping trying to please your corporate parents, and instead try to please yourselves and your readers, if I were Charles Johnson and the OSM/Pajamas bloggers...

    Did 9/11 Mastermind Meet Iraqi Spymaster in Prague?

    Edward Jay Epstein says that the US government has consigned the answer to a "murky limbo" rather than examining Iraqi intelligence files, in today's Wall Street Journal.

    Monday, November 21, 2005

    Why is this Man Smiling?

    In today's New York Times there's another scandal from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Let's see, while Bob Coonrod was CPB president, the CPB approved a $500,000 consulting contract for him--so, when do we get to see what kind of advice he offered for that price? And did the CPB board take Coonrod's consultations to heart?

    Inquiring minds want to know...

    Andrew Sullivan on Torture

    He's got a lot of posts about ex-CIA and ex-Navy SEALS leaking their techniques.

    Did Rumsfeld Sacrifice Iraq Victory for Bureaucratic Gamesmanship?

    David Von Drehle's article in last Sunday's Washington Post Magazine on the Rumsfeld "transformation" of the Pentagon certainly leaves that impression. And it's reinforced by his author's Q&A at

    Dick Cheney at AEI: A Swing and a Miss...

    Heard the VP's speech about Iraq on CSPAN radio while in the car driving home this evening. Nice try, but the Veep didn't connect. No one doubts there's a problem with terrorists in Iraq--only that the Bush administration appears capable of delivering a solution.

    The "happy talk" conclusion shows that Dick Cheney has forgotten nothing--and learned nothing.

    Transcript: here.

    Conclusion: It looks like Cheney might really have to be impeached, or forced to resign for "health reasons." The country can't afford another three years of a Ford Administration re-run.

    Vladimir Putin on Russia's Oil and Gas

    Henry Balzer examines Putin's own analysis of Russia's oil and gas industries, in his article in The National Interest. (ht Scraps of Moscow)

    French Rioters Target Jews (Cont'd.)

    More on the story from Canada's National Post. (ht lgf)


    Last night, we saw Bennet Miller's film starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote. Alice Goldfarb Marquis had recommended it, and it was worth seeing, though I'm still not sure what it was really about.

    New York high society thrill seekers slumming in Kansas? Rough trade excursions for Truman? A love story? Redemption? Hopelessness. Alcoholism? Dopplegangers?

    I liked the Harper Lee angle best. Almost saw Capote as doing his murder story in competition with To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee seemed like a more sympathetic person, IMHO. Perhaps we'll get a biopic about her, someday?

    Sunday, November 20, 2005

    Paul Farhi on the Ken Tomlinson CPB Scandal

    I missed this PBS Newshour interview about the Ken Tomlinson scandal at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting when it was first aired. But it makes for some interesting reading...

    French Riots Raise Sarkozy's Poll Numbers

    According to Reuters:
    The poll of 958 people showed 68 percent of respondents approved of Sarkozy's actions since the violence began, compared with 62 percent for Villepin. Sixty-four percent said they were confident Sarkozy could find lasting solutions to the problems, compared with 58 percent for Villepin.

    "It is clear that Sarkozy's strong message on security goes down well with the French people," political analyst Dominique Moisi said of the IPSOS survey conducted on Nov. 12.

    Google Print Renamed Google Book Search

    You can hear an interesting discussion of the copyright issues involved, at the New York Public Library's website., and also a panel sponsored by the Progress and Freedom Foundation that was taped by CSPAN, which can be watched here for the next two weeks.

    Bush Back to Iraq for Turkey Day?

    Belgravia Dispatch thinks the President may be going over there to announce an "Iraqification" strategy on Thanksgiving.

    Murtha's Anti-War Stand Popular in Johnstown, PA

    The LA Times reports that Congressman Murtha's plea to bring American troops home has struck a chord in Johnstown, PA.

    What is the meaning of the defection by a conservative, pro-military Democrat to the anti-war camp?

    Pretty significant. Chris Matthews called it the "beginning of the end" on TV today. I think he's right. The Bush administration simply lost its "mojo" with Hurricane Katrina. The old tricks won't work anymore, and the old dogs like Cheney and Rumsfeld can't seem to learn any new ones. Name-calling and accusations of treason won't wash.

    When I was teaching in Uzbekistan, one of the staffers at the University's international office asked me what I thought of the war in Iraq. I told him that if it worked, I supported it, and if it didn't, I would be against it. "Very cunning," he said. "Not at all," I answered. "Americans are very pragmatic."

    No American wants war for war's sake (except perhaps Halliburton executives and others who benefit from Pentagon no-bid contracts). Americans supported the Bush administration's war because they thought Bush knew what he was doing. The thousand plus dead from Hurricane Katrina, the "Heck of a job, Brownie!", and the sleaze oozing out from the White House have cast doubt on that premise. Therefore, if Bush doesn't know what he is doing, it follows that no more Americans should lose their lives following him. Murtha's move is in response to a shift in the mood of the American public. Perhaps more keenly felt in Johnstown, PA, which was the site of a major flood many years ago...

    Understanding Ahmad Chalabi

    Michael Rubin explains the Iraqi leader's ascent, in the face of American opposition led by Condoleeza Rice:
    Both before and after Iraq's liberation, State Department officials criticized Chalabi as an exile with little connection to his own country. CIA analysts seconded such pronouncements. On September 6, 2004, for example, Judith Yaphe, a former CIA Iraq analyst now at the National Defense University, told the Associated Press that "over the years, [CIA favorite Ayad] Allawi's contacts were proven to be real while Chalabi's were never what Chalabi told us." Former Defense Intelligence Agency official W. Patrick Lang described Chalabi as "basically an émigré politician" and told an Australian radio station that the CIA and State Department "didn't trust what he said [and] didn't think he understood Iraq, really." General Anthony Zinni, head of U.S. Central Command, belittled Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress as "some silk-suited, Rolex-wearing guys in London."

    But, in the months before Operation Iraqi Freedom began, Chalabi returned to Iraq. And after liberation, he became an irritant to Washington policymakers. While Coalition Provisional Authority administrator L. Paul Bremer sought to run Iraq by diktat, Chalabi agitated for direct elections and restoration of Iraqi sovereignty. He clashed with Meghan O'Sullivan, now deputy national security adviser for Iraq, when she worked to undermine and eventually reverse de-Baathification. He undercut White House attempts to internationalize responsibility for Iraq in the months prior to the 2004 U.S. elections when his Governing Council auditing commission began to investigate the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal.

    In a West Wing meeting, then–national security adviser Condoleezza Rice called Chalabi's opposition to the ill-fated Fallujah Brigade "unhelpful." Soon afterward, she directed her staff to outline ways to "marginalize" Chalabi. There followed espionage and counterfeiting charges — the former never seriously pursued by the FBI and the latter thrown out of an Iraqi court. Following the June 28, 2004, transfer of sovereignty in Iraq, John Negroponte — then U.S. ambassador to Iraq and now the director of national intelligence — refused to meet Chalabi. Cut off from U.S. patronage and without any serious Iraqi base, the analysts said, Chalabi would fade away.

    He did not. Nor has he simply reinvented himself, as a State Department official suggested following Chalabi's November 9 address at the American Enterprise Institute. Rather, his relevance has remained constant. Unlike those of other Iraqi figures embraced by various bureaucracies in Washington, Chalabi's fortunes have not depended on U.S. patronage. His survival — and, indeed, his recent ascent against the obstacles thrown in his path by Washington — underlines the failures of diplomats and intelligence analysts to put aside departmental agendas to provide the White House with an objective and accurate analysis of the sources of legitimacy inside Iraq.

    So far, when it comes to Iraq, the score is Chalabi 1, Rice 0.

    Saturday, November 19, 2005

    US to Sanction Uzbekistan?

    Over on Registan, Nathan reports that the US government will announce sanctions on Uzbekistan for human rights violations sometime next week. I guess that means Iraq will be next to be sanctioned, given the news reports of torture there--oh, I forgot, we are in charge in Iraq...

    Senator Brownback Condemns Uzbekistan

    Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) with US troops in Iraq
    A November 18th press release from the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, chaired by Sam Brownback (R-KS) announced:
    Commissioners of the U.S. Helsinki Commission strongly condemned the outcome of the trial of 15 men in Uzbekistan for the outbreak of unrest in the city of Andijan. The verdicts, which were announced on November 14th, found the men guilty of trying to oust the Uzbek Government and set up an Islamic state.

    “The Uzbek Government, after blocking international investigation of the bloody events in Andijan, set up a kangaroo court and expects the world to accept the verdict,” said Commission Chairman Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS). “It is especially telling that official Uzbek sources have accused the United States of involvement in terrorism. Regrettably, the Uzbek Government seems determined to isolate itself from the Western world.”
    I don't like to get into an argument with a Senator from Kansas (I worked on the public broadcasting issue with Bob Dole), but Brownback is off base here. There is indeed some evidence that the US may have been involved with terrorists in Uzbekistan, directly or indirectly through NGOs.

    For example: America facilitated the move of Andijan suspects out of the country, providing safe havens in Romania following the violence; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty interviewed the Andijan guerrillas' leader Qobiljon Parpiev, who has called for continued violence in Uzbekistan; and at the CSCE Washington, DC hearing on June 29th, a representative from International Crisis Group said that the organization worked with Akriyama in Uzbekistan. Another witness, Marcus Bensmann, appears to have misled CSCE when he testified that he heard no chant of "Allahu Akbar" during the Andijan violence. Bensmann may have missed it, but the BBC captured it on tape--and such a cry from the crowd during violence is obvious evidence of an Islamist link, which unfortunately supports the Uzbek government's contention that the perpetrators of the Andijan violence had the goal of establishing an Islamic state.

    Notably, Senator Brownback's CSCE panel did not hear testimony about her investigation of the Andijan events from Dr. Shirin Akiner on June 29th. Therefore, the CSCE's own record is partial and incomplete at this stage. More information is needed about Andijan before the US Congress can take any reasonable position vis-a-vis Uzbekistan.

    Contrary to the CSCE press release, no international investigation is necessary for the US Government to issue its own report. The US doesn't need a "permission slip" to find out what happened. If they really want to know what happened, Senator Brownback as well as Congressmen Cardin and Smith might ask the Government Accountability Office to conduct an investigation to determine whether US taxpayer funds may have found their way into the hands of terrorists or terrorist supporters in Andijan. If the GAO finds that no US-supported individuals or organizations were involved in any way before, during, or after Andijan, it would disprove the Uzbek government's charges. If not, the GAO has an obligation to let the chips fall where they may--and Brownback, Smith, and Cardin will be better able to determine what steps need to be taken.

    Such a GAO investigation, following the money going from the US to Uzbekistan, might answer remaining questions about what happened in Andijan in an objective and dispassionate fashion that could provide an alternative strategy to the escalating war of words between Washington and Tashkent--and provide a basis to reduce Uzbekistan's isolation from the Western world.

    Friday, November 18, 2005

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Calls for "International Investigation" of Guantanamo Prison

    Acccording to the Pakistan Times the US government has rebuffed the request.

    EU Protects Terrorists

    Ozdemir Sabanci was killed by terrorists from the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front in 1996. Nine years later, Belgium refuses Turkey's demand to extradite accused killer Fehriye Erdal. The Journal of the Turkish Weekly is outraged, and the Sedat Laciner questions the EU's commitment to anti-terrorism:
    Turkish Government, media and people perceive that Belgium acting as an umbrella for the terrorists. And they are not wrong. Combating terrorism needs international co-operation. And if two NATO members and two partners in the EU cannot co-operate in Fehriye Erdal case, they can make no co-operation in any area of fighting terrorism, because the proofs in the Erdal Case left no place to doubt about terrorism.

    Sarkozy: France Faces Terror Threat

    According to the Journal of the Turkish Weekly, the Paris riots have left France on edge:
    French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, whose popularity increased after the events in France, said his country is face to face with a serious and real threat of terrorism. Sarkozy, who made a speech at the opening of a seminar, titled "The French Face to Face with Terrorism," said the government is planning also to prepare a "white book" about the domestic security organization and priorities. The minister noting there are suicide commandos among the French citizens used the words, "We do not only import the kamikazes but, we also export them." Sarkozy had previously termed the rebellious youths as "vagabonds".

    Putin's Double?

    Konstantin's Russian Blog calls this photo: Vladimir Vladimirovitch.

    Hirsi Ali to Complete Van Gogh Film

    Theo Van Gogh's collaborator plans to continue the late filmmaker's work, helming a film they had planned about Islam's attitude towards homosexuality, according to the BBC (ht LGF).

    Cossacks Return to Russia

    We noticed this when we lived in Moscow, and even mentioned it in a blog post. Today, the Washington Post has more on a revival of the Russian Cossacks, who just sent Meskhetian Turks from Krasnodar fleeing to the USA.

    Meanwhile, in Ukraine, the chief rabbi has met with that nation's Cossack leader to strengthen tolerance and mutual understanding . . .

    Thursday, November 17, 2005

    Ajami on Jordan's Terrorists

    Something good from the Wall Street Journal:
    In truth, the tranquility of Jordan was deceptive, secured by a monarchy that has always been more moderate in its temperament than the population it ruled. "Iraqi Insurgent Blamed for Bombings in Jordan" was a headline on the front page of the New York Times of Nov. 13: Not quite! For Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as his nom de guerre specifies, is a man from the town of Zarqa, a stone's throw from Amman. The four Iraqis who brought calamity to Jordan were in the nature of a return visit, blowback from a campaign of terror and incitement, and a traffic of jihadists that had sent deadly warriors of the faith from Jordan to Iraq. Even as they mourned their loss, the Jordanians could not see or acknowledge the darkness with which they viewed the world around them. "Zionist terror in Palestine = American terror in Iraq = Terror in Amman," read a banner held aloft by the leaders of the Engineers' Syndicate of Jordan who had come together to protest the hotel bombings.

    In the drawn-out struggle over Iraq, Jordan is no innocent bystander. It was in Jordan, more than in any other Arab land, that Saddam Hussein was hailed as avenger and hero, a financial benefactor who practically starved the people in southern Iraq as he enriched sycophants and supporters in Amman. From the very beginning of his bid for regional primacy, Saddam had supporters aplenty in Jordan. He had rujula (manhood), he had money to throw around, and he held out the promise that the oil dynasties would be brought down and those borders that worked to Jordan's disadvantage would be erased in pursuit of a pan-Arab dream. A generation ago, it shall be recalled, the currents of Arab political revisionism--the envy of the poorer lands toward the oil states, the bitter sense that history had dealt the Arabs a terrible hand--converged in Jordan. It was that radicalism that forced King Hussein, in the course of the first American war against Saddam in 1990-91, to stay a step ahead of the crowd, breaking with the princes and the monarchs of the Peninsula and the Gulf, and with the United States, to side with Iraq.

    Jordan never reconciled itself to the verdict of that war, and never took to the cause of the new Iraq. Sectarianism played its part--the animus against the Shiites of Iraq coming into their share of their country's power runs deep in Jordan's political class. So did pan-Arab nationalism, long ascendant in Jordan, the glue that bonded Jordan's native population with the Palestinians in the realm. From its inception as the unlikeliest of nation-states, Jordan has been the thing and its opposite--a realm ruled by a merciful dynasty and a population bristling under the controls, threatening to overrun the political limits and then pulling back from the brink out of a grudging recognition that the soft authoritarianism of the place was safer than the prospects of calamity. A stranger who encounters Jordan is always struck by that juxtaposition of stability and barely hidden rage. Waves of refugees have washed upon the kingdom: Palestinians who fled the wars of 1948 and 1967; hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who lost their cocoon in Kuwait in 1990-91, when their rage at the Kuwaitis and the immoderation of Palestinian leaders put them on the side of Saddam's project of conquest and plunder; and then, of late, a huge influx of Iraqis. It is a wonder the dynasty, and the military-intelligence apparatus that forms the regime's backbone, has maintained the stability of the realm.

    Methinks the Wall Street Journal Doth Protest Too Much...

    About their deal with the Corporation Public Broadcasting for a PBS show. They have a long and rambling "explanation" of their dealings with the disgraced and departed former CPB chairman, Ken Tomlinson, here. And they've posted their copies of the emails in question here.

    The result:
    Some weeks ago, we made a business decision not to seek a third season of our show on PBS. We informed PBS about this on November 1, before we knew what the Inspector General was doing or even when he'd file his report. When we called Ms. Mitchell to let her know, she expressed regret, and she acknowledged that PBS had failed to deliver the national carriage that she had thought she could obtain. She also repeated the truth that "it was my decision" to invite us to do a program.

    Some of our friends think it was a mistake to attempt a show on PBS given our opposition to its funding over the years. And let's be clear: We haven't changed our minds. If there ever was a need for PBS, there isn't now in a world of hundreds of TV channels. But as long as PBS exists, we don't see any reason that its prime time public-affairs programming should be a satrapy of Bill Moyers and a single point of view. If Mr. Tomlinson made a mistake, it was in believing that "public broadcasting" is supposed to represent all of the public.

    Of course I admit that my views of the Ken Tomlinson-Wall Street Journal scandal are colored by the fact that Journal editors used to solicit my articles and even chat with me on the phone--before the paper got its own PBS show....

    Joe Wilson: Get Bob Woodward!

    Will Bob Woodward go the way of Judith Miller?

    Well, I guess he can start a blog, too...

    Bruce Bawer on Islamism in Europe

    Thanks to a tip from Andrew Sullivan, I found this interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor about the riots in France:
    What they've reaped, alas, is a generation of Muslims, many of whom view their neighborhoods as colonies amid enemy territory - and who demand this autonomy be recognized. In Britain, imams have pressed the government to designate part of Bradford as being under Muslim law. In Belgium, Muslims in the Brussels neighborhood of Sint-Jans-Molenbeek consider it to be under Islamic jurisdiction. In Denmark, Muslim leaders have sought similar control over parts of Copenhagen. In France, an official met with an imam at the edge of Roubaix's Muslim district out of respect for his declaration that it was Islamic territory. In many cities, police have stopped patrolling certain enclaves, the authorities having effectively ceded control to local religious leaders.

    No surprise, then, that a Muslim rioter in Århus, Denmark, the other day cried out: "This area belongs to us!" Amir Taheri, editor of Politique Internationale, noted that the main reason for the French riots is not that two youths died hiding from cops in a transformer station; it's that the state responded to the initial unrest by sending police into an area that many locals saw as their own inviolate domain. These riots, in short, are early battles in a continent-wide turf war.

    It's a war authorities can't afford to lose. By accepting separatism, Europe is becoming a house divided against itself. Governments must take a firm, aggressive, integration- oriented line - must, among other things, end separate treatment in schools and turn welfare recipients into workers. Above all, they must stand alongside Muslims who wish to integrate - not those who seek to colonize. And they must hope - and pray - that it isn't already too late.

    Roger L. Simon on Open Source Media

    Fair play says Roger L. Simon deserves a chance, too...
    This is going to be an inchoate post from one exhausted blogger who found himself an accidental CEO of a media company that launched today. If you had told me two years ago I would be hosting such an incredible line-up of people at the Rainbow Room today, I would have thought you were the reincarnation of Timothy Leary.

    But to begin with, let me say that Jeff Goldstein's keynote address was brillant. We decided to use Jeff as a last minute replacement for Judith Miller when so may advocates of "free speech" attacked us for offering her a platform. (BTW, OSM will be offering plenty of people platforms with all sorts of views. Get used to it.)

    Seriously, I thought Judith did a terrific job and her speech will be posted over at OSM as soon as we can get it transcribed (but not by me, because martini-fueled transcriptions tend to erratic). The general subject matter of a possible Federal Shield Law and what that will mean to bloggers and journalists (and those who go both ways) will be the subject of an on-going series of Blogjams on OSM. Many people have expressed interest in participating, among them Jay Rosen and attorney Andrew Deutsch (a specialist in this area). I even asked the Daily Kos to participate (everybody who blogs should be concerned with this issue) but received no reply. So it goes.

    I also thought Sen. Cornyn, who joined our lunch via satellite from Washington, was surprisingly blog-friendly in his remarks.

    As they say at Fox: "We report, you decide."

    Exit America, Enter Russia

    Vladimir Socor's analysis of the post-Andijan situation in Central Asia for the Jamestown Foundation is surprisingly realistic. Socor describes how the Bush administration has evicted itself from Uzbekistan--a self-inflicted defeat in the Global War on Terror:
    The relationship began unraveling in 2004 when political Washington allowed itself to be caught in a dilemma, strategic security versus democracy, regarding Uzbekistan, and began to single out that country for a one-sided resolution of that false dilemma. Tashkent's counterproductive reaction was the signing of a "strategic partnership" treaty with Moscow in June 2004, as well as changing its official discourse to characterize the United States and Russia equally as Uzbekistan's strategic partners.

    Washington's mishandling of a "color-revolution" experiment in Kyrgyzstan earlier this year further damaged relations with Tashkent. Finally, the bloodshed in Andijan in May exacerbated the lack of balance in U.S. political assessments, which strongly emphasized the authorities' crackdown while downplaying the well-organized, surprise terrorist assault that triggered those brutal reprisals. Instead of offering professional intelligence assistance to elucidate this third major terrorist assault on Uzbekistan in the space of five years and help prevent recurrences, the State Department called for a purely political exercise in the form of an international investigation (over the Pentagon's objections), and made it a non-negotiable demand. Yet it was only in late July – early August that Tashkent asked the United States to vacate the K-2 base, after Washington had pressured a reluctant Kyrgyzstan to allow hundreds of Andijan refugees, including escaped convicts and suspect rebels, to be flown to third-country destinations.

    A last possible chance to retrieve K-2 was missed when a U.S. delegation visited Tashkent in October, three months before the expiry of the base evacuation deadline. The base can be crucial to U.S. anti-terrorist, anti-WMD missions in a wide range of contingencies in Eurasia. Yet strategic security interests and democracy-promotion had fallen out of proper correlation in U.S. policy. The United States has forfeited an irreplaceable long-term military presence, and Russia gained the promise of one.

    Washington Post Outs Bush's Anti-Terror Guru

    He's Michael Doran, a former Princeton professor and author of Somebody Else's Civil War:
    Extremist Salafis, therefore, regard modern Western civilisation as a font of evil, spreading idolatry around the globe in the form of secularism. Since the United States is the strongest Western nation, the main purveyor of pop culture, and the power most involved in the political and economic affairs of the Islamic world, it receives particularly harsh criticism. Only the apostate Middle Eastern regimes themselves fall under harsher condemnation.

    It is worth remembering, in this regard, that the rise of Islam represents a miraculous case of the triumph of human will. With little more than their beliefs to gird them, the Prophet Muhammad and a small number of devoted followers started a movement that brought the most powerful empires of their day crashing to the ground. On September 11, the attackers undoubtedly imagined themselves to be retracing the Prophet's steps. As they boarded the planes with the intention of destroying the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, they recited battle prayers that contained the line "All of their equipment, and gates, and technology will not prevent [you from achieving your aim], nor harm [you] except by God's will." The hijackers' imaginations certainly needed nothing more than this sparse line to remind them that, as they attacked America, they rode right behind Muhammad, who in his day had unleashed forces that, shortly after his death, destroyed the Persian Empire and crippled Byzantium - the two superpowers of the age. . .

    . . . Bin Laden's "Declaration of War" uses the logic of Ibn Taymiyya to persuade others in the Salafiyya to abandon old tactics for new ones. The first reference to him arises in connection with a discussion of the "Zionist-Crusader alliance," which according to bin Laden has been jailing and killing radical preachers - men such as Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, in prison for plotting a series of bombings in New York City following the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Bin Laden argues that the "iniquitous Crusader movement under the leadership of the USA "fears these preachers because they will successfully rally the Islamic community against the West, just as Ibn Taymiyya did against the Mongols in his day. Having identified the United States as a threat to Islam equivalent to the Mongols, bin Laden then discusses what to do about it. Ibn Taymiyya provides the answer: "To fight in the defence of religion and belief is a collective duty; there is no other duty after belief than fighting the enemy who is corrupting the life and the religion." The next most important thing after accepting the word of God, in other words, is fighting for it.

    By calling on the umma to fight the Americans as if they were the Mongols, bin Laden and his Egyptian lieutenants have taken the extremist Salafiyya down a radically new path. Militants have long identified the West as a pernicious evil on a par with the Mongols, but they have traditionally targeted the internal enemy, the Hypocrites and apostates, rather than Hubal itself. Aware that he is shifting the focus considerably, bin Laden quotes Ibn Taymiyya at length to establish the basic point that "people of Islam should join forces and support each other to get rid of the main infidel," even if that means that the true believers will be forced to fight alongside Muslims of dubious piety. In the grand scheme of things, he argues, God often uses the base motives of impious Muslims as a means of advancing the cause of religion. In effect, bin Laden calls upon his fellow Islamist radicals to postpone the Islamic revolution, to stop fighting Hypocrites and apostates: "An internal war is a great mistake, no matter what reasons there are for it," because discord among Muslims will only serve the United States and its goal of destroying Islam.

    The shift of focus from the domestic enemy to the foreign power is all the more striking given the merger of al Qaeda and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. The latter's decision to kill Sadat in 1981 arose directly from the principle that the cause of Islam would be served by targeting lax Muslim leaders rather than by fighting foreigners, and here, too, Ibn Taymiyya provided the key doctrine. In his day Muslims often found themselves living under Mongol rulers who had absorbed Islam in one form or another. Ibn Taymiyya argued that such rulers - who outwardly pretended to be Muslims but who secretly followed non-Islamic, Mongol practices - must be considered infidels. Moreover, he claimed, by having accepted Islam but having also failed to observe key precepts of the religion, they had in effect committed apostasy and thereby written their own death sentences. In general, Islam prohibits fighting fellow Muslims and strongly restricts the right to rebel against the ruler; Ibn Taymiyya's doctrines, therefore, were crucial in the development of a modern Sunni Islamic revolutionary theory.

    Althouse Doesn't Like Open Source Media, Either...

    STILL MORE: I'm told Jeff Goldstein wasn't even at the OSM launch, which surprises me, because I began reading it on the OSM home page under their heading "live-blogging." That's an awfully strange way to introduce people to their service. Aren't ordinary people being asked to trust the OSM portal?
    Also, Charles Johnson linked to this post to note my bad taste -- the "fluids" wisecrack -- and this set off his commenters who just started wildly insulting me -- hilariously assuming I'm a big lefty and using lots of bad taste insults against me. How does that make sense? If they are outraged at my bad taste, as Charles suggests they be, then why aren't the comments primly proper? They must be insulting me because they assume I'm a lefty. Ha, ha. Somebody tell Armando! Anyway, Charles's fans end up hurting him on the day when he is trying to make an impression as an elder statesman of blogging, by making his site look all trashy. And the irony is priceless: he is complaining about my bad taste. Yet "semen" and "pus" are both perfectly sound English words, not slang at all, and pointing out literary images is quite high tone.
    AND NOW THIS: Wonkette links, and it's not to the semen-pus thing.
    THURSDAY MORNING: One day after the launch, Jeff Goldstein's fake-live-blogging is still the only blog post quoted on the home page, under the heading "BEST OF THE BLOGS." In all this time, that's all they've found? The highlighted post ends with this line: "Or as my friend Bill Bixby once said to a French prostitute (god rest his soul), 'bonjour, you plump little tart!'" How they can think it's a good idea to open the site with such writing? Who does that appeal to? And if it didn't appeal to you yesterday morning, but you kept going back to give them another chance, what would you think? The site is stupefyingly inactive and as yet devoid of sharp commentary. There is only this obscure insider humor about the founders of the site getting drunk and talking about a prostitute.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005

    Unicorn-Lynx's Opinions

    I found this blog by looking up Pelagiya for my Russian class. It's a treasure trove.

    ADL Leader Vows to Fight Evangelicals

    According to The Jewish Week, ADL chief Abe Foxman thinks that American Jews are in danger from American Christians who support Israel and struggle against Islamism. He wants to make a big fuss--like he did over Mel Gibson's "The Passion." That really worked (not!).

    Earth to Mars! Maybe it's time to beam Foxman up? Surely there is someone else out there who might help ADL become relevant to the real issues of the 21st century?

    I don't think Gary Bauer blew up the World Trade Center, for example.

    The ADL might better focus its efforts on fighting Islamism until the Global War on Terrorism is over. Anything else is a distraction at best...


    The only good anti-communist is a FRENCH anti-Communist...

    That's something I've believed since first reading Raymond Aron. This Gallic tradition has continued through Bernard Henry-Levy and now I'm adding French director Regis Wagnier to my list, and my Netflix queue: "Indochine" comes next.

    The film stars Sandrine Bonnaire and Catherine Deneuve. It's about idealistic Communists who return from Paris to the USSR in 1946 to help build up socialism in the wake of WWII. What they find, instead, is suffering they never imagined.

    The film has a certain French quality, especially in the relationships; and yet, there is something Russian there, too. Filmed in Kiev, it really looks Russian, even when the faces seem French. The fear, paranoia, suspicion--even the dancing men of the Red Army Chorus--all very Russian. What's missing is a little bit of Russian warmth, which is somehow found in even the most shocking Russian films. The French are a bit more cerebral and rational, I guess. But the picture packs a wallop, all the same.

    I won't spoil it by revealing the plot. At least it has a happy ending (in a really Russian movie, the hero would be shot, I would think).

    It is really, really good. And I recommend it. Add it to your own Netflix queue.

    Pajamas Media--Not!

    Roger L. Simon and his comrades are in NYC to open their new business--which they call Open Source Media.

    It started out as Pyjamas Media, which was irreverent, funny, and something I was interested in -- for a while. It became clear pretty quickly that some compromises were being made, I didn't know the reasons, and I decided not to participate. I'd been down that road before in an internet venture with someone I knew, and although it had a happy ending, there were too many problems in the middle. Never again.

    Even so, I'd been following the venture with interest. And what I've seen so far doesn't look good. The personal and snappy sites belonging to people like Simon and Charles Johnson now have the dullest and most corporate looking portal since "Tech Central Station" and perhaps the second worst name.

    Anonymous, technical, and impersonal. In other words--a good, gray, Republican site. The life has been wrung out of it, perhaps by their funders, who knows?

    Will it succeed? I dunno. But remember, Google and Yahoo! pride themselves on quirky and creative interfaces. So far, Open Source Media looks like the web design may have been contracted out to someone from the Republican National Committee. Oh, I forgot, they actually have someone on their board who used to run the press operation for the RNC under Jim Nicholson...his name is Cliff May.

    Go back to the drawing board guys: take off your suits and get back in those PJs!

    B. Raman: Hizb-ut-Tahrir Involved in Paris Riots

    Writing in OutlookIndia, the former Indian government official names Hizb-ut-Tahrir
    The outbreak initially was spontaneous following the electrocution of two Muslim youth as they were fleeing away from a random identity papers check by the Police. The violence continued to be spontaneous, with no external instigation, for three days. In the meanwhile, it is reported by reliable sources, the headquarters of the HT in London saw the agitprop potential of the developments in Paris and sent some of their experts, who had participated in instigating the violence earlier this year in Afghanistan over the alleged desecration of the Holy Koran by the US guards at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba, and in Uzbekistan over the allegedly autocratic ways of the local Government, to Paris to stoke the anger of the youth and exploit it for their purpose.

    With the help of the sleeper cells, which the HT has already established in Paris and other parts of France for some months, they drew up plans for keeping the violence sustained in order to further radicalise and mobilise the youth against the French government. For this purpose, they exploited the already prevalent anger in the Muslim community of France over the ban on the wearing of head scarves by Muslim girls in public schools and over the ruthless action taken by the Police in the past against suspected radicals. The intemperate and insensitive language used by the French Interior Minister, which is perceived as an insult to Islam and the Muslim youth, facilitated the task of the HT.

    Interesting that Raman mentions connections to Uzbekistan and the US in his article about Paris...

    What Really Happened in Andijan?

    According to the BBC, Andrea Berg of Human Rights Watch was among those who called the conviction and sentencing of 15 people involved in the Andijan violence a "show trial." But condemnation was not limited to NGOs and the European Union (which has now blacklisted Uzbek officials). The US State Department issued a condemnation as well:
    "We believe that these convictions are based on evidence that isn't credible and a trial that isn't fair," Adam Ereli, the State Department's deputy spokesman, said.
    Show trial it may have been, but I'm still interested to know what happened, and don't think we need an "international investigation" to find out (that's just another layer of bureaucracy and opportunity for buck-passing and coverup). There were plenty of US NGOs active in Uzbekistan, as well as RFE/RL "independent journalists" paid by the US taxpayers-- and some were in touch with the suspected attackers and their leaders. Parpiev was interviewed by RFE/RL shortly after the attack. The US government also aided the escape of some 400 refugees wanted by the Uzbeks in connection with Andijan, and no doubt has information from their debriefings and interviews. And on the other side, there were American organizations in touch with the police and security services as part of the Uzbek-American cooperation in the war on terror. So the US government has sources on both sides of the Andijan tragedy, and is perfectly capable of issuing its own report based on US-funded people, organizations, and information sources. As Fred Starr said, the CIA must have satellite photos, as well. Yet, the US has not released its own account of Andijan: Why not?

    Curious about America's role, I recently emailed Dr. Andrea Berg of Human Righs Watch to remind her that when we met in Washington, she promised me she would look into Uzbekistan's allegations that the US Government and/or NGOs may have been supportive of the Akriyama guerrilla attacks in Andijan.

    However, so far Dr. Berg has not answered my email. Likewise, no Western reporters in Tashkent--at least none that I know of--have explored the Uzbek government's allegations.

    There is at least some evidence that the Uzbek government may not be lying about everything in their show trial. Specifically, the Islamist connection in the Andijan attacks. After the Paris riots, such connections would be even more important to explore. Is creating civil disorder a new tactic for Islamists in their war on "Crusaders and Jews?" It seems worth looking into. And Andijan is a good test case.

    For example,
    Monica Whitlock's recent BBC report on Andijan contained this possible evidence of a link between Islamism and Andijan:
    There is a recording we made from Andijan so chilling that people cannot speak while it is playing.

    It is an open line to the mobile phone of one of the demonstrators. You can
    hear a wall of automatic gunfire, like siege fire, and among it people muttering their last prayers: "Allah-u Akbar, Allah-u Akbar - God is great."

    As the shooting grows louder and louder, the voices become thinner until, after more than an hour there is a click, and silence.

    The man with the phone was killed.
    Why is Whitlock's report significant? Because I heard an eyewitness give testimony to the CSCE in a US Capitol hearing that he never heard anyone say "Allah Akbar." I don't know if it was sworn, or not, but it was supposed to have been true.

    On June 29, 2005, in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Marcus Bensmann, identified as a corrrespondent for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting claimed in officialtestimony:
    Thousands of people were unarmed, and they were not forced by rebels to stay on the place. Everybody, whom we speak to, came to the
    square by own will, either only to look or to protest. It wasn't an Islamic uprising. I didn't hear any "Allahu Akbar" outcries or any demands to build Islamic state. People demanded justice, human rights, economical, and social, and political reforms. [emphasis mine]
    Yet at the time Bensmann was misleading Congressmen and Senators, Whitlock obviously had a BBC recording of just such a chant of "Allahu Akbar."

    It calls into question not only the testimony of Bensmann, the honesty of IWPR and the BBC (both supported by the British government), but also the truthfulness of American denials of Uzbek allegations of support for the Andijan guerillas.

    If the Uzbek allegations are false, the US government and NGOs have an obligation to refute them with solid evidence, rather than vague denials. And Dr. Andrea Berg has an oustanding promise to answer this question.

    Because genuine support for human rights cannot be based on a foundation of lies--whether from the Uzbek government, Western governments, or NGOs.

    UPDATE: Human Rights Watch official Allison Gill told that her organization may be the only Western human rights group permitted to operate in Uzbekistan, which is threatening to close Freedom House (IMHO, since they forced out Mjusa Sever, I don't think there has been much freedom in Freedom House).