Friday, March 31, 2006

Remembering Jill Carroll's Translator

A statement by Christian Science Monitor editor Richard Bergenheim:
I hope you'll pause with me also to think of Allan Enwiyah, Jill's translator, who was murdered when Jill was kidnapped. Over these past months his life has been honored by many, and a special fund exists to give support to his family.
Will the Christian Science Monitor now demand that Allan Enwiyah's killers be brought to justice?

BTW, Editor and Publisher has something on the question of ransom and negotiations with Jill Carroll's kidnappers, including this quote:
"There are indications that [the demand] was for money, but we don't know if any changed hands," said Steve Butler, Knight Ridder foreign editor who had been in touch with his reporters in Baghdad today. He said learning too much about what occurred behind the scenes could be harmful. "These things are sometimes better left unresolved," he added. "It could harm the next one or close off options in the future if too much is known."
Knight-Ridder, defending the American public's right not to know...

Jill Carroll Speaks

If this report from Middle East Online is true, what Jill Carroll told Arab audiences sounds different from what she is telling the American media:
In a late Thursday video footage, whose authenticity could not be verified, Carroll in an interview with her kidnappers before her release was seen praising Iraq's insurgents and even predicted their victory over the coalition forces.

"I think the mujahideen are very smart and even with all the technology and all the people that the American army has here, they still are better at knowing how to live and work here, more clever," Carroll said in answer to a question posed by one of her kidnappers.

Asked what she meant, Carroll, who was snatched from a Baghdad street on January 7, answered: "It makes very clear that the mujahideen are the ones that will win in the end."

The video showed her dressed in the same baggy clothes she was seen wearing after her release.

The interviewer then asked Carroll if she had a message for US President George W. Bush.

She smiled before saying: "He needs to stop this war. He knows this war is wrong ... He needs to finally admit that to the American people and make the troops go home."

Carroll then said she felt guilty being set free while many women remained imprisoned at Baghdad's US-run Abu Ghraib prison.

"It shows the difference between the mujahedeen and the Americans, it shows the mujahedeen are good people fighting an honourable fight while the Americans are here as an occupying force treating the people in a very bad way," she said.
PS I see there's more on this at littlegreenfootballs.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Blogging will be spotty for a while..

My apologies, but due to having to take care of some personal business, I'm not able to blog quite as much as before. I'd like to post every day, but it may be every few days for a little while...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Andrew McCarthy on Abdul Rahman

Via Benador Associates:
You reap what you sow. What is happening in Afghanistan (and in Iraq) is precisely what we bought on to when we actively participated in the drafting of constitutions which — in a manner antithetical to the development of true democracy — ignored the imperative to insulate the civil authority from the religious authority, installed Islam as the state religion, made sharia a dominant force in law, and expressly required that judges be trained in Islamic jurisprudence. To have done all those things makes outrage at today's natural consequences ring hollow.

We can pull our heads up from the sand now and say, "No, no, no! We're nice people. We didn't mean it that way. That's too uncivilized to contemplate." But the inescapable truth is: the United States made a calculated decision that it wasn't worth our while to fight over Islamic law (indeed, we encouraged it as part of the political solution). People who objected (like moi) were told that we just didn't grasp the cultural dynamic at work. I beg to differ — we understood it only too well.

Islamic law does not consider conviction, imprisonment, or death for apostasy to be an affront to civilization. That's the way it is.

Mark Steyn on Abdul Rahman

Via SteynOnline:
Unfortunately, what's "precious and sacred" to Islam is its institutional contempt for others. In his book Islam And The West, Bernard Lewis writes, "The primary duty of the Muslim as set forth not once but many times in the Koran is 'to command good and forbid evil.' It is not enough to do good and refrain from evil as a personal choice. It is incumbent upon Muslims also to command and forbid."

Or as the shrewd Canadian columnist David Warren put it: "We take it for granted that it is wrong to kill someone for his religious beliefs. Whereas Islam holds it is wrong not to kill him." In that sense, those blood-curdling imams are right, and Karzai's attempts to finesse the issue are, sharia-wise, wrong.

I can understand why the president and the secretary of state would rather deal with this through back-channels, private assurances from their Afghan counterparts, etc. But the public rhetoric is critical, too. At some point we have to face down a culture in which not only the mob in the street but the highest judges and academics talk like crazies.

Rahman embodies the question at the heart of this struggle: If Islam is a religion one can only convert to not from, then in the long run it is a threat to every free person on the planet. What can we do? Should governments with troops in Afghanistan pass joint emergency legislation conferring their citizenship on this poor man and declaring him, as much as Karzai, under their protection?

In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of "suttee" -- the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. General Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

''You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows.You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."

India today is better off without suttee. If we shrink from the logic of that, then in Afghanistan and many places far closer to home the implications are, as the Prince of Wales would say, "ghastly."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Amir Taheri: Iran Need Not Be Israel's Enemy

After watching Syriana this afternoon, through a link on Wikipedia I found Amir Taheri's review of the film at Benador Associate's website, which led to finding this interesting analysis by the Iranian-born writer and editor:
Yes, the anti-Israeli discourse of Iran's rulers is as virulent as that of Hamas and other Palestinian radical groups. But that discourse is partly prompted by the regime's desire to hide its Shiite identity so that it can claim the leadership of radical Islam, both Shiite and Sunni.

In fact, regardless of who rules in Tehran, Israel and Iran have common strategic interests.

If Israel had never appeared on the map, the energy of pan-Arab nationalism movement, which dominated Arab politics in the post-war era, would have been directed against two other neighbors: Turkey and Iran. To a certain extent, it was anyway. Even today, the Arab League claims that the Turkish province of Iskanderun is "usurped Arab territory" and regards the Iranian province of Khuzestan as "occupied Arab land."

And Arab Sunni Islamism is an even more deadly threat to Iran. It was Arab Sunni Islamism that destroyed the Shiite holy shrines in Iraq in 1802, and returned last month to do so again in Samarra. The same movement is behind the cold-blooded murder of several thousand Iraqi Shiite men, women and children since 2004.

To Arab Sunni Islamists, Iranians are gabrs (Zoroastrians); Shiites, including Arab ones, are rafidis (heretics) who must be "re-converted" or put to death.

Both pan-Arab nationalism and pan-Arab Sunni Islamism are as much mortal foes for Iran as they are for Israel. Neither nation will be safe unless the twin monsters are defeated and the Arab states democratized.
For me, Syriana was an intersting film because at least it was about something serious, so I'm prepared to forgive its flaws, of which it has many.

The biggest credibility problem with Syriana's storyline appears to be that the CIA missile aimed at the Emir hits its target--something that didn't take place in the case of Mohmmar Qadaffi, Saddam Hussein, or Osama Bin Laden. As Taheri says:
The CIA masters, for their part, would be pleased with "Syriana" if only because it claims that they can do anything at all!

Some Good News at the State Department

Ukrainian websites report that US Ambassador John Herbst has been promoted to head the Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization at Foggy Bottom. Herbst was ambassador to Uzbekistan while I was in Tashkent, and I thought he did a good job. Of course, I could be biased, because he met with my students twice--once in my apartment and once at his home. Still, I was impressed that he appeared to listen to what they had to say, and respond intelligently to their criticisms of American policies.

Herbst served as American ambassador to Kyiv during the Orange Revolution, and I think it may be at least in part thanks to his efforts that "color revolution" did not result in bloodshed, looting or chaos--something that can't be said for other American "democracy promotion" efforts...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Michelle Malkin on the Abdul Rahman Rally


Madeleine Albright on the Clash of Civilizations

Her LA Times Op-Ed reads like she's channelling Samuel Huntington (though his name is never mentioned):
In the long term, the future of the Middle East may well be determined by those in the region dedicated to the hard work of building democracy. I certainly hope so. But hope is not a policy. In the short term, we must recognize that the region will be shaped primarily by fairly ruthless power politics in which the clash between good and evil will be swamped by differences between Sunni and Shiite, Arab and Persian, Arab and Kurd, Kurd and Turk, Hashemite and Saudi, secular and religious and, of course, Arab and Jew. This is the world, the president pledges in his National Security Strategy, that "America must continue to lead." Actually, it is the world he must begin to address — before it is too late.

Who Is Lukashenko?

Konstantin's Russian Blog paints a different portrait of the president of Belarus and his opposition:
1. Opposition in Belorus has nothing to offer to an ordinary person. They can only appeal to "capitalists" so to say who could make much more money without Lukashenko or to youth who sincerely believe that only Lukashenko is guilty they cannot become filth rich "capitalists" right now.

2. Lukashenko always points an accusing finger to Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgystan or Moldova saying, "Look! Those idiots believed in a Western-type democracy! What did they get? Total chaos, poverty, inequality, corruption and wars. We are poorer economically than Russia but we live better." Opposition has no arguments here.

3. Opposition in Belorus is anti-Russian. Actually Western NGO's all over post-Soviet sphere subsidize ONLY anti-Russian opposition. No exceptions. This is a great mistake. The same as being anti-Semitic in Israel.

Even More on the Yale Taliban

From the Wall Street Journal(ht Roger L Simon):
In 2002, Yale received a letter from Paula Nirschel, the founder of the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women. The purpose of the organization, begun in that year, was to match young women in post-Taliban Afghanistan to U.S. colleges, where they could pursue a degree. Ms. Nirschel asked Yale if it wanted to award a spot in its next entering class to an Afghan woman. Yale declined.

Yale was not alone. Of the more than 2,000 schools contacted by Mrs. Nirschel, only three signed up right away: Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, Notre Dame College in New Hampshire and the University of Montana, Missoula. Four years later, the program enrolls 20 students at 10 universities...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

FDR's Four Freedoms

FDR's own words, from January 6, 1941from
In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look
forward to a world founded upon four essential human

The first is freedom of speech and expression --everywhere
in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his
own way-- everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world
terms, means economic understandings which will secure to
every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants
--everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into
world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to
such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation
will be in a position to commit an act of physical
aggression against any neighbor --anywhere in the wold.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite
basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and
generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of
the so-called "new order" of tyranny which the dictators
seek to create with the crash of a bomb.
By my count, Islamist extremism violates three of the four freedoms by definition. Therefore any support for Islamist individuals, parties or organizations is not compatible with expanding freedom or democracy.

Obviously, Islamism is the latest "'new order' of tyrrany which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb," to use FDR's eloquent turn of phrase.

Here's a link to Norman Rockwell's pictures of the Four Freedoms.

Still More on the Yale Taliban

John Fund isn't dropping the ball:
Mr. Hashemi probably won't be attending Ms. Joya's lecture tonight. He has dodged reporters for three weeks, ever since his presence at Yale was revealed in a cover story in the New York Times Magazine. Some claim he has fully repented his Taliban past, but in his sole recent interview--with the Times of London--he acknowledged he'd done poorly in his class "Terrorism: Past, Present and Future," attributing that to his disgust with the textbooks: "They would say the Taliban were the same as al Qaeda." At the same time, Mr. Hashemi won't explain an essay he wrote late last year in which he called Israel "an American al Qaeda" aimed at the Arab world. When asked about the Taliban's public executions in Kabul's soccer stadium, he quipped: "There were also executions happening in Texas."

Given his record as a Taliban apologist, Mr. Hashemi has told friends he is stunned Yale didn't look more closely into his curriculum vitae. "I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay," he told the New York Times. So how did he end up in the Ivy League? Questions start at the State Department's door. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the Judiciary Committee's border security panel, has asked the State Department and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to explain exactly how Mr. Hashemi got an F-1 student visa. Yale's decision tree is clearer. Richard Shaw, Yale's dean of undergraduate admissions until he took the same post at Stanford last year, told the New York Times that Yale had another foreigner of Mr. Hashemi's caliber apply but "we lost him to Harvard" and "I didn't want that to happen again." Mr. Shaw won't return phone calls now, but emails he's exchanged with others offer insights into his thinking.

The day after the New York Times profile appeared, Haym Benaroya, a professor at Rutgers, wrote to Mr. Shaw expressing disbelief that Mr. Hashemi, who has a fourth-grade education and a high school equivalency certificate, could be at Yale. Mr. Shaw replied that he indeed had "non-traditional roots [and] very little formal education but personal accomplishments that had significant impact." Mr. Benaroya was stupefied; did Mr. Shaw mean accomplishments that had a "positive impact, not terroristic and totalitarian impact"? Mr. Shaw responded: "Correct, and potential to make a positive difference in seeking ways towards peace and democracy. An education is a way toward understanding the complex nuances of world politics."

Richard Pipes on Russian Conservatism

Just saw Richard Pipes' book on Russia reviewed in the UK Spectator. It looked interesting, but the Spectator is password protected--so here's a link to the Yale University Press catalog description:
Russian Conservatism and Its Critics: "Beginning with an insightful study of the origins of Russian statehood in the Middle Ages, when the state grew out of the princely domain but was not distinguished from it, Russian Conservatism and Its Critics includes a masterful survey of Russia?s major conservative thinkers and demonstrates how conservatism is the dominant intellectual legacy of Russia. Pipes examines the geographical, historical, political, military, and social realities of the Russian empire--fundamentally unchanged by the Revolution of 1917--that have traditionally convinced its rulers and opinion leaders that decentralizing political authority would inevitably result in the country's disintegration. Pipes has written a brilliant thesis and analysis of a hitherto overlooked aspect of the Russian intellectual tradition that continues to have significance to this day."

Michelle Malkin: Rally for Abdul Rahman

Noon tomorrow, at the Afghan Embassy in Washington, DC.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Daniel Pipes on Bush's National Security Strategy

Daniel Pipes says George Bush's strategy is missing something:
The report minimizes the threat of radical Islam via the fiction that a "proud religion" has been "twisted and made to serve an evil." Not so: Islamism is a deeply grounded and widely popular version of Islam, as shown by election results from Afghanistan to Algeria. Reliable opinion polls are lacking from majority-Muslim countries but repeated surveys in Britain give some idea of the harrowingly extremist attitudes of its Muslim population: 5 % of them support the July 7, 2005, terrorist attacks in London and say more such attacks are justified; 20% have sympathy with the feelings and motives of the July 7 attackers and believe that suicide attacks against the military in Britain can be justified. These results are probably typical of Muslim populations globally, as recent polls of Indonesians and Palestinian Arabs confirms.

The NSS omits any mention of Turkey and Bangladesh and it refers to Saudi Arabia only in passing, suggesting that the Islamist leadership in these states poses no particular concern. The administration's grievous error in helping a terrorist organization, Hamas, reach power in January 2006 is glossed over with soothing words ("The opportunity for peace and statehood … is open if Hamas will abandon its terrorist roots and change its relationship with Israel").

Thus does the NSS accurately reflect the yin and yang of the Bush administration's Middle East policy: a much-needed, relentless focus on the region's sick political culture and the threats it poses to Americans, mixed with an insouciance that current policies are just fine, thank you, everything is on track, and problems – Iraq, terrorism, and the Arab-Israeli conflict in particular – will soon enough be resolved.

Monday, March 20, 2006

More on the Yale Taliban

From John Fund, in the Wall Street Journal.

Anatol Levien: Stop Bashing Russia

From The Los Angeles Times (ht Johnson's Russia List):
To ordinary Russians, Western-sponsored "democracy" meant watching helplessly while "liberal" elites looted the country and transferred vast fortunes to Western banks, to the profit of Western economies.

Harvard University, for example, is very belatedly investigating the conduct of professor Andrei Shleifer, who allegedly profited corruptly from a U.S. government-sponsored Russian privatization project on which he was an advisor. Shleifer was long protected by Harvard President Lawrence Summers, who as President Clinton's Treasury secretary himself helped push Russia's monstrous variant of privatization. If U.S. scholars are — rightly — outraged by the Shleifer case, imagine how ordinary Russians feel.

Because Putin is seen as having ended the post-Soviet decade of chaos, looting and national humiliation; because he has presided over rising living standards; and yes, because he has stood up to the West, he currently has the support of a large majority of Russians.

By contrast, the Russian "democrats" Washington favors have no chance whatsoever of winning a free election. Moreover, the more ardently we support them, the more unpopular they become. Excessive Western criticism of Putin, far from strengthening Russian democracy, angers ordinary Russians and risks driving them further toward chauvinistic nationalism.

Yet Washington still seems to not understand the consequences of its disastrous Russia policies of the 1990s. Hypocritical and extreme anti-Russian attitudes are not confined to old-style Cold Warriors such as Cheney but are widely held among the nation's foreign policy elite. They are on display in a report on the U.S.-Russia relationship just issued by a bipartisan task force of the Council on Foreign Relations. In 76 pages of hectoring criticism of Russia, there is not one suggestion that any U.S. action toward Russia has been in any way wrong or harmful.

The American Thinker on Walt & Mearsheimer

Richard Baehr and Ed Lasky take apart a recent article by Harvard and University of Chicago professors of political science published in the London Review of Books (ht LGF)
But guilt by association is part and parcel of the Walt approach.  For this noxious paper is designed above all to taint the efforts by any Americans to support a strong US-Israel relationship, a bipartisan effort that has won overwhelming American support for many decades.  Much as they try, this article will be unpersuasive in convincing Americans that our real national interest lies with cozying up with Saudi Arabia, and abandoning Israel. And much as they claim their approach is motivated only by the national interest, something uglier is at work here. When something walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and looks like a duck, usually it is a duck. Walt and Mearsheimer have decided to navigate the waters of the Israel-hating, Jew-hating  conspiracy theorists.  There is a good reason for this. They seem comfortable in these waters.

A Belated Happy International Women's Day

We missed this celebration--my second favorite in the former USSR--because of our personal crisis. Konstantin's Russian Blog has a good post on its meaning, here. This paragraph about Russian educational theories might make interesting reading to former Harvard president Lawrence Summers:
One of the things that surprised me greatly at American universities was that so few women (almost all of them foreigners) study engineering, accounting or medicine. I thought that American women, being so feministic, would love to study engineering. At school we were always told by our teachers that girls are better at mathematics and chemistry than boys.

Happy Navruz!

It was my favorite holiday in Uzbekistan: Navruz--the Zoarastrian New Year, a legacy of the Persian Empire. Here's a website devoted to the annual festival of rebirth at The green mixture seen in the cauldron above is made from new green grass and sugar, and symbolizes a sweet new year...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Integrate the Military and the Academy

Sick of Red v. Blue?

Will Marshall of the Progessive Policy Institute argues that a nation divided against itself cannot stand, and calls for putting more Democrats in the miliitary as well as more Republicans in the universities:
Since the draft ended in 1973, the U.S. military has become one of the nation's most conservative and rock-ribbed Republican bastions. Around the same time, New Left activists began storming the ramparts of higher education, moving universities sharply to the left. As a result, these two ostensibly nonpartisan institutions now define opposing poles on the contemporary political spectrum.

Each institution harbors a particular set of mores and beliefs that doesn't mesh easily with the other's. The U.S. military is the repository for the stern martial virtues of honor, valor, nationalism, discipline, and self-sacrifice. The academy is the wellspring of the postmodern values of personal autonomy, self-expression, cultural diversity, and profound skepticism of authority of any kind.

In the barracks, where televisions are usually tuned to Fox News, military personnel are socialized to view liberals as unpatriotic twits. On campuses, anti-war and anti-military attitudes remain de rigeur. More than three decades after the Vietnam War ended, some elite colleges still ban ROTC programs. And a coalition of law schools has gone to court to keep military recruiters off their campuses, as a way of protesting the Pentagon's policies toward gays.

Yet there is nothing natural or inevitable about antagonism between the military and the academy. Before the tumult of the 1960s, many U.S. universities were staid places more likely to be roiled by fraternity pranks than sit-ins. Mass conscription, begun in World War II and continued through the first half of the Cold War, ensured that the military faithfully mirrored U.S. society, with its dominant New Deal coalition and "natural" Democratic majority.

The Battle of Lookout Mountain

Our drive home took us through Chattanooga, home of NY Times publisher Adolf S. Ochs' Chattanooga Times and Lookout Mountain, where we visited the site of the "Battle Above the Clouds" that turned the tide of the Civil War in favor of the Union Army in November, 1863. From Craven's house, you could see the strategic significance of Chattanooga, and understand the city's role as General Sherman's supply and logistics center for his famous "March to the Sea."

The Pensacola Opera

On a lighter note, during our absence we attended a performance of Lucia di Lammermoor at the Pensacola Opera in Pensacola's historic Saenger Theatre, originally built as an "Opera House" and vaudeville stage. The staging was good, the singing terrific, and the orchestra didn't hit a wrong note. We had a wonderful time, and can recommend it to anyone visiting the Gulf Coast. Bravo!

Afghan Faces Death Penalty in Conversion Case

Michelle Malkin says this news story deserves more attention.The case of an Afghan Christian facing the death penalty for apostasy--required under Islamic law--exposes some problems Islamism poses for democracy.

One of FDR's Four Freedoms was Freedom of Religion. Another was Freedom from Fear. Yet Islamic law prohibits free exercise of religion, and enforces this under penalty of death--that is, only through fear.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Still Offline...

Looks like it might be another week or so...

Saturday, March 04, 2006


FYI, I'll be offline for a while, for personal reasons. Check back in a week or so...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Condoleezza Rice's Fitness Video

Watch it here.

Bush Will Go To Pakistan

Despite the recent bomb blasts that killed an American diplomat:
"Terrorists and killers are not going to prevent me from going to Pakistan," Bush told reporters. His national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said there was evidence the U.S. diplomat had been targeted.

Pakistani officials said the bombing could have been timed for Bush's two-day visit.

Was Iran Behind Tashkent Rabbi's Murder?

Judith Apter Klinghoffer says, on History News Network, that there may be an Iranian connection to the recent murder of a rabbi in Tashkent, Uzbekistan:
The International Sephardic Leadership Council's official response blames IRAN:

The destruction of the Tajikistan synagogue last week was the most disgraceful act committed by a sovereign state toward its Jewish population since the end of WWII. Now, a suspicious murder of the leader of the sister Jewish community, only 4 hours away, raises concern that the Jews may be being targeted. We have heard, through official channels, that Iran may be involved with stirring up trouble in the region, and to that extent, we hope a full and fair investigation will be opened.

That is, indeed, the very least we should insist on.

Russia Demands Berezovsky From UK

Bloomberg News says he's charged with plotting an armed coup against Putin, based on statements he made in an Echo Moskvy radio interview. On the eve of the G-8 summit, it looks like Russia is playing "hardball" with the industrialized nations. It is doubtful that Her Majesty will turn over the former Oligarch:
Berezovsky celebrated his 60th birthday in January with a party at Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill's birthplace, outside London, Kommersant reported. The extravaganza featured an ice sculpture representing St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square, coated with black caviar.

The guests included fellow Russian millionaire exile Vladimir Gusinsky, the newspaper reported.

The Railway, A Novel From Uzbekistan reports on Hamid Ismailov's new novel, The Railway, written in the tradition of Chingiz Aitmatov's The Day Lasts More Than a Thousand Years
Set in Uzbekistan between 1900 and 1980, The Railway introduces to us the inhabitants of the small town of Gilas on the ancient Silk Route.

Their colourful lives offer a unique and comic picture of a little-known land populated by outgoing Mullahs, incoming Bolsheviks, and a plethora of Uzbeks, Russians, Persians, Jews, Koreans, Tartars and Gypsies.

Rich and picaresque, The Railway is full of colour. Fusing literary sophistication with a naive delight in storytelling, it chronicles the dramatic changes felt throughout Central Asia in the twentieth century.

AEI Discusses Russian NGO Law

Yesterday, Leon Aron moderated an all-star panel at the American Enterprise Institute on the implications of Russia's new NGO law. No one actually defended the law. Ntalia Bourjaily and Andrew Kuchins (below) detailed problems the new law posed for American-supported NGOs working in the former USSR. On the other hand, Nikolas Gvosdev (below) said the letter of the law was not as significant as how the Russian government would interpret the law, and that NGO concerns were not pressing at this time for a rising Russian middle-class just beginning to enjoy personal freedoms of travel, consumption, and lifestyle. He predicted that many non-political NGOs would not be affected, so that the impact of the law would be mostly felt by political activists, and attention must be paid to how they are affected. Maureen Greenwood (below) presented dramatic examples of NGOs targeted by the Russian government today.Unfortunately for Amnesty International, Greenwood's chosen example of a victim of the Russian NGO crackdown seems to be the case of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, now hbeing arrassed for publishing articles by the late Chechen terrorist leader Aslan Maskhadov in its magazine. Although Greenwood described his articles as "non-violent," Maskhadov is to Russia what Osama Bin Laden is to the USA. It is doubtful that an "American-Al Qaeda Friendship Society" would be permitted to operate in the context of the War on Terror (any more than the German-American Bund was permitted to operate during World War II). If Amnesty International, once known for a commitment to non-violent prisoners of conscience, has now decided to champion violent Islamist terrorists like Maskhadov, one would have to question why anyone in America--let alone Russia--would want to to support its efforts. And led this observer to question why Maureen Greenwood, who edited the 250-page report Anti-Semitism in the Former Soviet Union, 1995-1997, didn't discuss the existence of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism among Islamist Chechens--examples such as this 2002 report by Lev Gorodetsky of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
A leaflet distributed recently in Chechnya stoked Jewish concern with the comment: "The Chechen people are continuing their great jihad by clearing the fatherland from Russian occupiers, servants of the world's Jews."
You can watch a video of the event, here.

Roger L. Simon's Oscar Picks

Picture - Brokeback Mountain
Actor - Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Capote
Actress - Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line
Director - Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain
Original screenplay - Paul Haggis - Crash
Adapted screenplay - Larry McMurty & Diana Ossana - Brokeback Mountain
More picks here...

Vladimir Bukovsky: EU May Become New USSR

The Soviet dissident told Brussels Journal that the EU project is dangerous and should now be stopped:
It is no accident that the European Parliament, for example, reminds me of the Supreme Soviet. It looks like the Supreme Soviet because it was designed like it. Similary, when you look at the European Commission it looks like the Politburo. I mean it does so exactly, except for the fact that the Commission now has 25 members and the Politburo usually had 13 or 15 members. Apart from that they are exactly the same, unaccountable to anyone, not directly elected by anyone at all. When you look into all this bizarre activity of the European Union with its 80,000 pages of regulations it looks like Gosplan. We used to have an organisation which was planning everything in the economy, to the last nut and bolt, five years in advance. Exactly the same thing is happening in the EU. When you look at the type of EU corruption, it is exactly the Soviet type of corruption, going from top to bottom rather than going from bottom to top.

If you go through all the structures and features of this emerging European monster you will notice that it more and more resembles the Soviet Union. Of course, it is a milder version of the Soviet Union. Please, do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that it has a Gulag. It has no KGB – not yet – but I am very carefully watching such structures as Europol for example. That really worries me a lot because this organisation will probably have powers bigger than those of the KGB. They will have diplomatic immunity. Can you imagine a KGB with diplomatic immunity? They will have to police us on 32 kinds of crimes – two of which are particularly worrying, one is called racism, another is called xenophobia. No criminal court on earth defines anything like this as a crime [this is not entirely true, as Belgium already does so – pb]. So it is a new crime, and we have already been warned. Someone from the British government told us that those who object to uncontrolled immigration from the Third World will be regarded as racist and those who oppose further European integration will be regarded as xenophobes. I think Patricia Hewitt said this publicly.

Hence, we have now been warned. Meanwhile they are introducing more and more ideology. The Soviet Union used to be a state run by ideology. Today’s ideology of the European Union is social-democratic, statist, and a big part of it is also political correctness. I watch very carefully how political correctness spreads and becomes an oppressive ideology, not to mention the fact that they forbid smoking almost everywhere now. Look at this persecution of people like the Swedish pastor who was persecuted for several months because he said that the Bible does not approve homosexuality. France passed the same law of hate speech concerning gays. Britain is passing hate speech laws concerning race relations and now religious speech, and so on and so forth. What you observe, taken into perspective, is a systematic introduction of ideology which could later be enforced with oppressive measures. Apparently that is the whole purpose of Europol. Otherwise why do we need it? To me Europol looks very suspicious. I watch very carefully who is persecuted for what and what is happening, because that is one field in which I am an expert. I know how Gulags spring up.

It looks like we are living in a period of rapid, systematic and very consistent dismantlement of democracy. Look at this Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. It makes ministers into legislators who can introduce new laws without bothering to tell Parliament or anyone. My immediate reaction is why do we need it? Britain survived two world wars, the war with Napoleon, the Spanish Armada, not to mention the Cold War, when we were told at any moment we might have a nuclear world war, without any need for introducing this kind legislation, without the need for suspending our civil liberaties and introducing emergency powers. Why do we need it right now? This can make a dictatorship out of your country in no time.

Patrick Ross: Empower Artists to Aid Culture

Patrick Ross of the Progress and Freedom Foundation takes Lawrence Lessig, author of Free Culture. to task for his campaign against author's rights, such as copyright:
Now it may be in the self-interest of the Type C downloader to obtain "niche" content at no cost. But the vast majority of artists on Anderson's curve are on the "long tail" not at the head of the demand curve. Free Culture defenders like to cite how the Internet has changed things. Here is an example of true change resulting from the Internet; the ability of niche artists to profit from their work, even when it isn't mainstream. For respected scholars to argue that depriving a creator of potential revenue for her work is "harmless to the artist" shows a true disrespect to all artists, and a dangerous compulsion to put the desires of the masses ahead of the rights of individuals.

USSR Plotted Pope's Murder

Drudge headlines this Reuters story on Italy's finding that the USSR was behind the attempt on Pope John Paul II.

They might have added that Pope John Paul II--more successfully--plotted and executed the end of the USSR.

In the end, the Pope won (with a little help from Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher), and the USSR lost.

Something we can celebrate today.

Ann Coulter's Oscar Predictions

Ann says Brokeback Mountain's a favorite for almost everything, then adds:
As a final prediction, for the second year, there will be no mention of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was brutally murdered by an angry Muslim a little over a year ago on the streets of Amsterdam. (Now that's blacklisted!)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cat Curfews in Europe

To fight the bird flu epidemic, European countries have passed restrictions on the freedom of cats, reports the London Times.

New Sisyphus: Bush's PC War

The retired US State Department official who blogs as New Sisyphus explains the failure of the Bush Doctrine:
Bush lied. Not enough people died.
When President Bush made the case for the War on Terror, it was made in the context of the two main speeches quoted at length above, which constituted the beginning of what has become to be known as the Bush Doctrine. Conservatives signed on to that war effort because conservatives were persuaded that Bush's diagnosis of the problem and intended solution was correct.

From the beginning, I've had reservations about Bush's commitment to the so-called Bush Doctrine. While the initial job--dismantling the Taliban regime in Afghanistan--was approached properly, it also seemed to me that the Administration wanted to win that war on the cheap, expending other people's blood. Conservatives may shake with anger when Senator Kerry charges that Bin Laden got away because we sub-contracted out the fighting at Tora Bora, and I understand that. Kerry is not the man to carry such a charge. However, I think the real reason it resonates so badly is because it is true.

Afghanistan should have been invaded and occupied by a very large all-American army. Unlawful combatants, including Taliban spokesmen, should have been summarily shot, as is proper under both international law and the law of warfare as it has evolved. The war should have gone through Pakistan, laying to waste a government and a country that was the Taliban's main enablers. The entire area should have been laid to waste, destroyed completely and utterly; and then, having delivered the short, sharp punic lesson, we should have withdrawn en masse.

I thought so then, I think so now. Instead, what we got was PC cant about how we were "liberating" the Afghans. What was sold as an unrelenting war instead became a long-term occupation, with us playing at teaching a traditional, hide-bound Muslim society about multi-culturalism, tolerance, love, peace and harmony. We installed a government and backed it with power so weak its writ barely carried into outer Kabul, let alone the badlands. We issued press releases patting ourselves on the back about how many women attended the constitutional convention, as if such a thing would be happening were we not there with guns. Worse still, we then sub-sub-contracted the security work out to NATO, thereby exposing ourselves to every left-wing political party in Europe, who now hold our policy hostage by withholding their consent to new military deployments.

Still, I held my tongue. Look on the bright side: the Taliban are gone, Al-Qaeda is scattered and if the Afghans can salvage something out of the peace that follows, well, that's a good thing isn't it? It's not a perfect world, and the U.S. is acting under great constraint, so maybe this is the best we can hope for. Basically, at its root, the Bush Doctrine still appeared solid to me, though I disputed the tactics employed.

Iraq followed. Unlike the paleo-conservatives, I thought this was generally in line with the Bush Doctrine. For all the reasons Bush set forth (ignore the leftists and their "where is the WMD?" talk-they've lied so much that they themselves now believe their own lies), Iraq was a logical next step in the War on Terror.

While the planning was on-going, we made the politically fatal and totally self-made error of taking the issue to the United Nations, at the behest of the Hamiltonians/Wilsonians of our own foreign policy institutions and, largely, the British, whose support and whose military we did not and do not need. This decision was fatal because it focused the War on Terror on unimportant, minor concerns. (Did the inspectors receive full and complete access on March 19 or limited access or should they be there at all...blahblahblahblahblah). It also handed the keys of victory to our enemies. Not surprisingly, they promptly hid those keys, where they remain today in between award ceremonies to Michael Moore and shouts of "Abu Ghraib" on the hour.

What political correctness and a squeamishness about all matters religious did to Islamism, the approach to the United Nations did for European and international leftism. Now, thanks to the Bush Administration, all of our actions were to be judged by a Islamist and a Leftist. Every day we ask them if we are winning and every day they say "no;" the news headlines gleefully report our continued failure.

By turning what was an American war against an American enemy into a popularity contest, the Administration surrendered control over the victory conditions, ensuring our failure, which would then further erode popularity, etc. etc. until you just want to throw up.

The American Thinker: Islamism Not Democratic

Andrew J. Bostom says it is delusional to imagine that states governed by Shari'a law can be anything other than totalitarian:
The great 20th century scholar of Islamic Law, G. H. Bousquet, wrote in 1950,

“Islam first came before the world as a doubly totalitarian system. It claimed to impose itself on the whole world and it claimed also, by the divinely appointed Muhammadan law, by the principles of the fiqh, to regulate down to the smallest details the whole life of the Islamic community and of every individual believer….the study of Muhammadan law (dry and forbidding though it may appear to those who confine themselves to the indispensable study of the fiqh) is of great importance to the world today.”

Bousquet’s admonition to study Islamic Law (Shari’a), or at least recognize the profound importance of its influence on basic Muslim conceptions, has perhaps even greater urgency more than a half-century later, in 2006. While electoral processes in the Islamic Middle East may have further enfranchised the Shari’a-based understanding of hurriyya, it is delusional to equate this conception with the freedom espoused by John Stuart Mill in “On Liberty.”

Andrew McCarthy: Investigate Dubai's Links to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad

I have so many links to Michelle Malkin that I am going to link straight to the Andrew McCarthy piece in National Review she quotes in her rebuttal to Bush administration mouthpieces on the Dubai Port Deal:
It cannot be gainsaid that the UAE was an al Qaeda booster before 9/11. Nor should it be minimized that, ever since, the country has vastly improved, giving valuable assistance to our military overseas. Of course, on the latter score, it is worth noting that — the port deal aside — a good relationship with the U.S. is where the UAE's interests lie. Its hospitality to American forces and its billions in purchases of American arms are precious insurance for a tiny autocracy that has sometimes tense relations with menacing Iran. Still, proponents of the ports deal understandably emphasize that the UAE's strides are a welcome development. It is one we should cultivate to the extent we can do so without compromising core principles.

But that means not at the expense of making a mockery of our laws — particularly the laws essential to our security. The ports transaction will be under review for the next 45 days. That probe must include an assessment of the UAE's ties to Hamas and PIJ.

If there is to be anything left of the Bush Doctrine, the United States cannot allow a country in violation of our counterterrorism laws to play a critical role in admitting, storing and transferring shipments into our country. Nor can we abide a lucrative financial arrangement for a country that uses its wealth to underwrite organizations our law designates as terrorists.
If the Bush administration showed "wilfull blindness" to terror links in this case, it might be worse than negligence, at a time of war it just might constitute an impeachable offense...

It's Official: No US Plan For Iraq

So says this article from the Republican-friendly Washington Times(ht War and Piece):
The Bush administration never drew up a comprehensive plan for rebuilding Iraq after the March 2003 invasion, which contributed to a severe shortage of skilled federal workers in Baghdad and to the mismanagement of the country's oil money, according to a new government report.
"There was insufficient systematic planning for human capital management in Iraq before and during the U.S.-directed stabilization and reconstruction operations," said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, in a new "lessons learned" report released yesterday. "The practical limitations ensuing from this shortfall adversely affected reconstruction in post-war Iraq."
The Pentagon's initial plans for reconstruction crumbled when it encountered an unexpected foreign and domestic insurgency that looted the country, sabotaged electric and water service, and killed hundreds of Americans and Iraqis in 2003 after the ouster of dictator Saddam Hussein.
The administration reacted by quickly establishing the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), directed by L. Paul Bremer, and pumped billions of dollars of United Nations-held oil cash into Baghdad.
But, Mr. Bowen concluded in a report focusing on the CPA's staffing, "[t]he unanticipated post-war collapse of virtually all Iraqi governing structures, substantially hindered coalition efforts to develop and rapidly execute an effective reconstruction program."

NYC Stand Up For Denmark! Rally on Friday March 3rd

Michelle Malkin has posted this announcement from Snarksmith:
There is no way that a city like New York should neglect to stand up for free speech, democracy and secular cosmopolitan values. So I am pleased to inform you that the rally for Solidarity With Denmark is indeed on for this week.

It will be held outside the Danish consulate at One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 885 Second Avenue, on FRIDAY, MARCH 3RD, FROM 12:00 PM TO 1:00 PM. (A fitting an emulation of the hugely successful D.C. version.)

I've been in touch with the consul-general himself, and he has graciously welcomed us. I promised the event would be as civilized and dignified as this noble cause demands, and in order to obviate a city permit, please note that NO electronically amplified sound equipment or bullhorns may be used. But signs and placards -- the cleverer the better -- are of course highly encouraged. Relevant cheeses, plastic toy building blocks and Shakespeare allusions also kosher...

Spread the word.

Manifesto: Islamism's Totalitarian Global Threat

From Denmark's Jyllands-Posten(ht lgf):
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.

We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.

The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.

Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.

We reject « cultural relativism », which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.

We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.

We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.

12 signatures

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Chahla Chafiq
Caroline Fourest
Bernard-Henri Lévy
Irshad Manji
Mehdi Mozaffari
Maryam Namazie
Taslima Nasreen
Salman Rushdie
Antoine Sfeir
Philippe Val
Ibn Warraq
How come I didn't see this manifesto in today's Washington Post? Censorship or self-censorship?

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