Thursday, August 31, 2006

Where's the Secret Service?

Michelle Malkin has a roundup of open incitement to kill President Bush, including a new British docudrama.

I think inciting people to kill the President is still against the law...

Daniel Pipes on Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006)

Daniel Pipes has published a webpage on Naguib Mahfouz, with links to writings about the Egyptian Nobel-laureate. Here are some excerpts:

On Pour Rushdie: Cent intellectuels arabes et musulmans pour la liberté d'expression:
In an impressive show of strength, one hundred Arab and Muslim intellectuals have written op-ed length articles in support of Rushdie. The writers include such heavyweights as the Syrian poet Adonis, the Kirgiz novelist Chingiz Aïtmatov, the Syrian writer Sadiq Al-Azm, the Moroccan novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun, the Tunisian historian Hichem Djaït, the Lebanese novelist Hanan el-Cheikh, the Israeli Arab novelists Emile Habibi and Anton Shammas, and the Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz.

Their formats vary, from poetry to analysis to open letter to music, but the message stays the same: We're with you Salman. In addition to these, the volume includes a document of great daring: under the title, "Call of Iranian artists and intellectuals in favor of Salman Rushdie," some 127 Iranian figures have signed a petition blasting the Khomeini edict against Rushdie, as well as the "terrorist and liberty-cide methods" of the Islamic Republic.

This outpouring of solidarity with the beleagured victim of fundamentalist Islam has a message not just for Muslims but also for Westerners. First, don't assume that all Muslims think as do the ayatollahs, but recognize that they are the first victims of the fanatics. Second, ignore the Western apologists who claim that fundamentalism is the tide of the future, and fight it along with the brave Muslims represented in this volume.

On Palace Walk:
According to Mahfouz, the First World War signaled major changes in the traditional Muslim family structure. When Fahmi, the second son, refuses to comply with Ahmad's order to stop his nationalistic activities, he acts as a modern son. Fahmi is not merely disobedient; he is inspired by moral principles that Ahmad can neither share nor overrule through the force of personal authority. Such a conflict between generations was almost inconceivable in the more static society of earlier periods, when both father and son would have been similarly attuned to the traditional loyalties. Once the precedent has been set, one expects repetitions to recur with increasing frequency and diminishing justification. As Ahmad's power diminishes, family relations are on their way towards modernity.

Zaynab, briefly the wife of Ahmad's eldest son, wants changes in her position as woman. She insists on going out in the evening with her husband; Amina, the traditional woman, predictably leads the opposition to this notion (for otherwise her own decades of acceptance look wasted and foolish). More disruptive yet, Zaynab demands a divorce when she finds her husband with another woman. This may not sound like a surprising response, but it was to Ahmad, raised in an entirely different ethic. "There was nothing strange about a man casting out a pair of shoes, but shoes were not supposed to throw away their owner." The world is changing and each character, regretting this, changes with it.

Mahfouz can be compared to Honoré Balzac in his love for the life of a particular great city, high and low, and his tolerance for the ambiguity in the heart of each human. At its best, Palace Walk is full of insight about the human condition. Its triumph lies in the portrayal of character, particularly the complex figure of Ahmad, whom we might easily judge to be a moral monster. But Mahfouz makes plausible, through multiple points of view and the merchant's own interior monologues, the good opinion held of him by friends, family, and self.

Mahfouz's people are made plain by his great clarity of language, though his verbal strength is slightly hampered in this translation by a choice of words that often seems merely accurate.

The novel's most contemporary aspect, and its weakest, is its ending. Unlike Balzac, Mahfouz lets the story spin on inconclusively, stopping the action at a sobering climax but without giving closure to an event which might have been a satisfying measuring stick for the change in its characters.

On The Thousand and One Nights:
Mahfouz, the Egyptian novelist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1988 and was stabbed in the neck by a fundamentalist Muslim in 1994, has added to the pseudo-Nights literature with a wonderful set of fantastical stories about the town where the original Nights are supposed to have occurred. Normally known as a Balzac-type chronicler of the human comedy all around him, Mahfouz lets loose here with enchanting tales from a bewitched world-but one that illustrates a full range of human emotions and predicaments. Arabian Nights and Days may be the outstanding work of modern Arabic literature. Also, Doubleday has graced the book with one of the most stunning jackets of any book published in the United States in recent years.

On the significance of his work:
Mahfouz exerts a benign and moderating influence on the turbulent politics of the Arabic-speaking countries, and for this one must be grateful. But actually, as an artist, how good is he? He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988, a pretty impressive credential, to be sure. But the sages of Stockholm have been known to respond to political pressures, and the absence of any Arabic writer among the ranks of the world's most prestigious literary laureates weighed heavily on them. They selected Mahfouz because he was the confirmed giant among Arab writers - not because they found him to be the leading belle-lettrist in a worldwide competition.

This reviewer once spent an academic year in Cairo enrolled in a program to learn the Arabic language that amounted to a crash course in modern Egyptian literature. The many novels I read left me deeply unimpressed by the general quality of the artistry. I found stories contrived, characters thin, and language stilted. Had they been written in English, I concluded, most of these Arabic novels would likely not have been published. This is not entirely surprising, for the novel is a Western form very new to Arabs. Poetry is the glory of Arabic literature; novels remain derivative and experimental. Mahfouz is no doubt right that "The novel is the poetry of the modern world," but his is a format that Arab authors have yet fully to master.

By this unexacting standard, Mahfouz does shine; by international standards, however, he is a middling novelist. Two of his works are truly compelling: Palace Walk (1956), the first volume of the trilogy, with its very comprehensive account of three generations of a rather typical, if prosperous, Cairene family, depicts a dictatorial husband in the 1910s who insists that his family live a thoroughly Islamic life but then goes off nearly every evening to pursue his sybaritic pleasure. The contrast between his domineering personality at home and the good-time Ahmad out on the town is unforgettable. Arabian Nights and Days (1982) tells a wonderful set of fantastical stories about the town where the original Thousand and One Nights are supposed to have occurred. It's a modernized version of an ancient fable and it works surprisingly well.

But the other volumes fall off and most of his other major works (The Beginning and the End, The Thief and the Dogs, Miramar) somewhat repeatedly and tediously pursue the same themes. Though compared to Balzac, Mahfouz's vision is far more constricted, so his stories fall way short of that master's. A Balzac or an Austin could display the human comedy within narrow confines, but not Mahfouz, who only glancingly touches on it. Worse, Mahfouz is a committed artist, much of whose fiction, Milson explains, "is the outcome of his desire to reform society, and his primary purpose throughout is to convey ideas." However laudable those ideas may be, this political purpose gives his work a didactic and sometimes stifling quality.

Japanese Women ISO Korean Men

Today's Washington Post reports the latest fad to sweep across Japan is the "Korean Wave":
TOKYO -- Thin and gorgeous in a slinky black dress, Mikimoto pearls and a low-slung diamond Tiffany pendant, 26-year-old Kazumi Yoshimura already has looks, cash and accessories. There's only one more thing this single Japanese woman says she needs to find eternal bliss -- a Korean man.

Melanie Phillips: Western Media Are Jihadist Dupes

(ht LGF)
Certain conclusions are now inescapable. First, hatred of Israel and the irrationality associated with that hatred have now reached unprecedented proportions within Britain and the west. Second, with a few honourable exceptions the mainstream media are no longer to be believed in anything they transmit, either in words or pictures, about the Middle East. It is only the blogosphere which is now performing the most elementary disciplines of journalism: to aspire to objectivity, to separate facts from prejudices, to apply basic checks to claims being made by partisans to a conflict, and to be particularly wary of those with a proven track record of lying. Third, the mainstream media must now be regarded as active accessories to the war being waged against the free world and therefore as a fifth column in that world – an enemy within. Fourth, the impact of the lies and distortions transmitted by the mainstream media in inflaming the already pathological hatred of the west within the Arab and Muslim world is incalculable. Fifth, the mainstream media’s vilification, demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel, based on outright fabrications and malevolent distortions, is imperilling the very existence of the country that is the front line of defence of the free world. Sixth, that vilification is also imperilling the safety and well-being of Jewish communities around the world, subject now to the double victimisation of attack by Islamists and attack by non-Muslims for belonging to a Jewish people that refuses to submit passively to a second attempt at genocidal slaughter and instead fights to defend itself.

To date, as far as I can determine, not one mainstream editor or proprietor has acknowledged this corruption of the western media. The scale of this corruption now threatens to have a lethal impact on the course of human history. Hatred now drives not just the jihadists but their western dupes, too. Truth and freedom are indivisible. The deconstruction of the former inevitably presages the destruction of the latter. This is the way a civilisation dies.

Alan Dershowitz: Amnesty International's Phony War Crimes Charge

...against Israel. From The Jerusalem Post:
For Amnesty, "Israeli war crimes" are synonymous with "any military action whatsoever."

The real problem with Amnesty's paper is that its blanket condemnations do not consider the consequences of its arguments. (It doesn't have to; it would never advance these arguments against any country but Israel.)

Amnesty International's conclusions are not based on sound legal arguments. They're certainly not based on compelling moral arguments. They're simply anti-Israel arguments. Amnesty reached a predetermined conclusion - that Israel committed war crimes - and it is marshalling whatever sound-bites it could to support that conclusion.

Amnesty International is not only sacrificing its own credibility when it misstates the law and omits relevant facts in its obsession over Israel. It also harms progressive causes that AI should be championing.

Just last year, for example, Amnesty blamed Palestinian rapes and "honor killings" on - you guessed it - the Israeli occupation. When I pointed out that there was absolutely no statistical evidence to show that domestic violence increased during the occupation, and that Amnesty's report relied exclusively on the conclusory and anecdotal reports of Palestinian NGOs, Amnesty stubbornly repeated that "Israel is implicated in this violence by Palestinian men against Palestinian women."

This episode only underscored AI's predisposition to blame everything on Israel. Even when presented with an ideal opportunity to promote gender equality and feminism in the Arab world, it preferred to take wholly unrelated and absurd shots at Israel.

Amnesty International just can't seem to help itself when it comes to blaming Israel for the evils of the world, but rational observers must not credit the pre-determined conclusions of a once-reputable organization that has destroyed its own credibility by repeatedly applying a double standard to Israel.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Print Your Own Classic Books--Free

With Google's new service, according to the BBC:
The firm's book search tool will let people print classics such as Dante's Inferno or Aesop's Fables, as well as other books no longer under copyright. Until now, the service has only let people read such books on-screen.

Google's book search service stems from a wider project to put books online in a searchable format, which it is undertaking with major universities. Working with Google on the Books Library project are Oxford University, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan and the University of California, as well as the New York Public Library.

"How many users will find, and then buy, books they never could have discovered any other way? Eric Schmidt, Google

Volunteers working for a project known as Gutenberg have for some years copied out-of-copyright books as text files, which can then be used for printing, reading or piping into a programme for editing.

In contrast, Google is offering the books in a "print-ready" format, as have several other - albeit much smaller and less well-known - firms.

NPR Attacks My Cousin!

I guess it shows that I really don't listen to NPR anymore... Thanks to tesing Digg It versus Topix, I found out that this past June, "bioethicist" Katie Watson recorded an NPR commentary calling my cousin, Dr. Robert Jarvik, "a sellout" for endorsing Lipitor. Well, I may be biased, but after hearing her complaint, I don't think I'd ever ask Katie Watson for ethical advice, much less medical advice from the anonymous cardiologist friend (are anonymous denunciations ethical?) she quotes against my cousin.

I'm pretty sure Robbie is getting paid for the ads, of course. He may be "cashing in" on his fame, but that certainly doesn't make him a "sellout." I don't think he's betrayed any principle. He's a bioengineer, not a cardiologist. If my cousin says he takes Lipitor himself, I believe him. We have a family tendency towards elevated cholesterol. I take Lipitor myself, my internist prescribed it when another statin wasn't working (how come I can't get it for free?).

The first time I saw the Pfizer ad on TV, I was surprised. I wondered why a drug company would pick an inventor to promote a pill. Then I guessed the subtext of the ad might be: "Take this cholesterol reducing drug so you won't need to have artificial heart implanted." I guess that's kind of clever, because it seems sort of understated.

Now, I'm told there's a sequel--filmed at the Milwaukee Art Museum--but I still haven't seen it so I don't know what that's about. (For some reason, I doubt NPR will call the art museum a "sellout.")

Of course, I do like seeing my relative starring in a TV ad. Everyone knows that people watch commercials more than the shows. And it's not for Viagra or Ex-Lax or denture cream, or even Rogaine. I admit I'm biased, and that I got some calls from people that I had not heard from in a long time and having a cousin on TV raised my status, too.

But that doesn't give NPR the right to smear my relative as a sellout just for doing advertising. Especially since NPR runs ads all the time--for example: the digital download attacking my cousin included a plug for RealPlayer. Since NPR claims to be non-commercial, and Robbie doesn't (he has a commercial company called Jarvik Heart), I think that may make NPR the "sellout."

Dan Gordon on Israeli Tactics in Lebanon

Gordon points out that Arab Druze and Bedouin Muslims fight in the Israeli army. From The American Thinker:
They had received intelligence that arms were being stored in the mosque of that village, and that possibly it had been booby trapped in order to kill or maim any Israeli troops trying to enter the mosque in search of weapons. Lieutenant Colonel Ishai related that normal operating procedures and common sense would dictate that he first send in bomb sniffing dogs.

It should be noted that Lieutenant Colonel Ishai’s brigade is made up not only of Jews but Druze and Bedouin Muslims. All of these fighters came from villages in the Galilee which had been hit by Hezb’allah’s constant barrages of katyusha rockets aimed at Israel’s civilian population. For them this fight was not a political struggle, nor even a national one, it was quite literally in defense of their homes.

Lieutenant Colonel Ishai has served for many years shoulder to shoulder with Muslim troops in the army of the Jewish state. Indeed I was privileged to meet Druze commanders, who commanded almost exclusively Jewish troops. The first one of those commanders was my own company commander when I was in basic training in 1973.

The soldiers who fight for the state of Israel are not only Jews they are Christian, Druze and Moslem as well. Far from the image of a barbaric Nazi-like military, the IDF takes great pains even in war time to respect the sensitivities not only of its own troops but of the Palestinian and Lebanese civilians caught up in the cross fire brought about by the Islamist terrorists who hide behind them.

Lieutenant Colonel Ishai decided that sending bomb sniffing dogs into a Moslem mosque would be offensive to members of that religion. He thus decided that rather than do that he would send in soldiers, knowing that he was risking their lives to do so.

He gave that order and his soldiers obeyed it in full knowledge of all the implications of their actions. They would risk their lives to respect the sanctity of another’s religion and the sensitivities of another people. Those were the actions of the Israeli army.

What they found in the mosque were anti-tank missiles of the kind that had just been used to try and kill them and katyusha rockets of the kind that quite literally had been aimed at their own homes and families. This is the nature of the enemy we faced. It was a terrorist army organized, trained, financed and equipped as an army whose short, medium and long range rockets rained at Israel’s civilian population, while hiding behind Lebanon’s civilian population.

It is a terrorist army that sought to maximize both Israeli and Lebanese civilian loss of life. The use of indiscriminate weapons against civilian populations is recognized as a war crime in every court in every nation. Hezb’allah committed four thousand of those war crimes in launching its four thousand rockets against Israel’s cities and villages. That is a war crime which no one seems to be investigating, let alone prosecuting. However, one could add to that, that the firing of such weapons from within ones own civilian population is not only a war crime, not only a crime against one’s own people, but a crime against humanity. I would hope that the next time someone so casually refers to Israel’s barbaric attacks against the Lebanese people, they remember Lieutenant Colonel Ishai and his soldiers, Druze Moslem, and Jewish alike who risked their lives rather than offend the sensitivities of the Lebanese people, those very same people whom Hezb’allah’s terrorist army so readily sacrificed in their unprovoked attack against Israel.

VOA & Radio Free Europe Topper Ensnared in Corruption Probe

Today's NY Times and Washington Post both report that former CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson--currently head of the International Broadcasting Board of Governors that oversees Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America--has been named in a State Department corruption investigation. He's accused of hiring cronies, running a horse-breeding business, and other violations. Interestingly, despite the swirl of scandal, President Bush had re-nominated Tomlinson for another term.

From the Post story by Paul Farhi:
The most sensational complaint against Tomlinson might be that he used government resources to support his stable of thoroughbred racehorses, potentially violating federal embezzlement laws. Tomlinson has had a lifelong interest in breeding and racing horses. Upon his retirement from Reader's Digest in 1996, he began to devote himself to raising horses at his ranch, Springbrook Farm, near Middleburg.

The investigation determined that Tomlinson used his office for his thoroughbred activities, but the summary offers no details.

The State Department said it turned its report over to the Department of Justice, which has declined to bring criminal charges against Tomlinson. The allegation involving the contractor, however, is pending in DOJ's civil division.

Tomlinson, who is attending a conference in Berlin, said via e-mail yesterday that he made "diligent efforts" to bill each board for the work he did. "It is well known and accepted by all," Tomlinson wrote, "that because of the importance of what I was doing in the war on terror that I would be working more than 130 days a year," which is the statutory maximum.

He also wrote that he devoted an average of one e-mail and 2 1/2 minutes a day at the office to his horse operations. "In retrospect," he wrote, "I should have been more careful in this regard."

The inspector general's report was made public by three Democratic members of Congress: Reps. Howard Berman and Tom Lantos, both of California, and Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut. The three legislators requested the investigation last year after being contacted by an anonymous BBG employee.

The lawmakers called for Tomlinson's removal yesterday and urged President Bush in a letter to "take all necessary steps to restore the integrity of the Broadcasting Board of Governors."
I'm an outsider, but I'd say Ken Tomlinson's chances of getting through the Senate for a second term are zero. You can read the original State Department investigation posted on Congressman Howard Berman's website.(ht TPM

President Bush may not realize it, but the Democrats have done him a favor by forcing Tomlinson out. It gives Bush a second chance--to nominate somebody qualified to improve America's battered image around the globe.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Al Qaeda's Saudi Connection

It's not exactly a surprise, but Uriya Shavit carefully presents the evidence of Al Qaeda's Saudi Arabian roots:
Indeed, bin Laden's success in terrorizing the United States is largely the result of the materialization of the conception of the "counterattack": while the 9-11 attacks had little direct strategic importance for the U.S. economy and society, the emerging threat of a few Muslim Americans or Muslim Europeans becoming a fifth column and of sophisticated technologies becoming self-destructive weapons not only struck fear and suspicion in many Western societies but also forced them to rethink long-held convictions on such issues as freedom of speech, immigration, due process, and multiculturalism.

Gerald Steinberg: Investigate Human Rights Watch

Writing in the Jerusalem Post,Gerald Steinberg has accused HRW head Ken Roth of "blood libel" against Israel, and demanded an investigation of the organization:

With an annual budget of $50 million, Roth and his funders are obliged to insure that HRW's reports are accurate and free of ideological bias. In contrast, when these reports are instrumental in spreading anti-Israel sentiment in Malaysia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Europe and elsewhere, the result is the antithesis of the human rights objectives proclaimed by HRW.

Rather than the independent investigations of Israel that Roth always demands, it is his HRW's activities that need to be investigated.
I agree. I'd like to nominate Natan Sharansky to conduct an independent investigation of Human Rights Watch--and suggest HRW founder Robert Bernstein raise the money to pay for it...

Reese Schonfeld on Republican War Wimps

Liberals are accused of NIMBY – Not in My Backyard: School integration, emphatically, but NIMBY; low-income housing, absolutely, but NIMBY; a halfway house, absolutely, but not in my backyard – obvious hypocrisy, all of it.

Conservatives are just as two-faced about “staying the course.” As with Vietnam when this generation of conservative leaders rich boy-ed their way out of the draft (Bush, Cheney, Quayle, never spent a day in that country), conservatives now talk one way and act another.

Everyday conservatives are demanding that the U.S. “stay the course,” demanding that we support our troops and honor our brave men and women, even while they are unwilling to make the least sacrifice to ease the strains on the soldiers and Marines actually doing the fighting. The Pentagon keeps them there on longer and longer tours and rotates them back with less and less R&R. Real support would entail enlisting more men, more reserves to permit an adequate rotation schedule, prevent battle fatigue and leave these heroes victims of their own bravery.

The best way for conservatives to avoid the charge of hypocrisy would be to deliver a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister or some other loved one to the Army or Marines. (The second best way would be to show some political courage and vote for a draft.) Then maybe at last we would have enough troops to fight and win the war.

No one has the right to demand we “stay the course” unless he has one of his own traveling that course with the truly brave men and women who are there now. Otherwise, he is just another N.M.B. – stay the course but “Not with My Boy.”

By the way, the Pentagon is not necessarily honoring our troops when they cut their widows pensions in half. (More on that Monday.)

Just found this cv search website because it had a link to yours truly:

The Mosul - Haifa Oil Pipeline

An anti-Israel caller to C-Span this morning was critical of Ahmad Chalabi for advocating the rebuilding of the Mosul-Haifa oil pipeline--a pre-1948 oil export route. So, I googled the idea, and found this 2003 article from the Guardian describing the proposal. My reaction: why not? In fact, why not make it an explicit goal of the European UN force--to rebuild the Iraq-Israel oil pipeline and turn the politics of oil into the politics of pro-Western democracy as an overt goal of American diplomacy in the Middle East? Here's the bottom line:
The plan envisages the reconstruction of an old pipeline, inactive since the end of the British mandate in Palestine in 1948, when the flow from Iraq's northern oilfields to Palestine was re-directed to Syria.

Now, its resurrection would transform economic power in the region, bringing revenue to the new US-dominated Iraq, cutting out Syria and solving Israel's energy crisis at a stroke.

It would also create an end less and easily accessible source of cheap Iraqi oil for the US guaranteed by reliable allies other than Saudi Arabia - a keystone of US foreign policy for decades and especially since 11 September 2001.

Until 1948, the pipeline ran from the Kurdish-controlled city of Mosul to the Israeli port of Haifa, on its northern Mediterranean coast.

The revival of the pipeline was first discussed openly by the Israeli Minister for National Infrastructures, Joseph Paritzky, according to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz .

The paper quotes Paritzky as saying that the pipeline would cut Israel's energy bill drastically - probably by more than 25 per cent - since the country is currently largely dependent on expensive imports from Russia.

US intelligence sources confirmed to The Observer that the project has been discussed. One former senior CIA official said: 'It has long been a dream of a powerful section of the people now driving this administration [of President George W. Bush] and the war in Iraq to safeguard Israel's energy supply as well as that of the United States.

'The Haifa pipeline was something that existed, was resurrected as a dream and is now a viable project - albeit with a lot of building to do.'

The editor-in-chief of the Middle East Economic Review , Walid Khadduri, says in the current issue of Jane's Foreign Report that 'there's not a metre of it left, at least in Arab territory'.

To resurrect the pipeline would need the backing of whatever government the US is to put in place in Iraq, and has been discussed - according to Western diplomatic sources - with the US-sponsored Iraqi National Congress and its leader Ahmed Chalabi, the former banker favoured by the Pentagon for a powerful role in the war's aftermath.

Sources at the State Department said that concluding a peace treaty with Israel is to be 'top of the agenda' for a new Iraqi government, and Chalabi is known to have discussed Iraq's recognition of the state of Israel.

The pipeline would also require permission from Jordan. Paritzky's Ministry is believed to have approached officials in Amman on 9 April this year. Sources told Ha'aretz that the talks left Israel 'optimistic'.
More on the pipeline from Wikipedia:
The Trans-Arabian Pipeline Company (Tapline), was founded as a joint venture between the Standard Oil company of New Jersey (now Esso), Standard Oil of California (Chevron), The Texas Company (Texaco), and Socony-Vacuum Oil Company (Mobil), however, it eventually became a fully owned subsidiary of Aramco. The company built and operated the Trans Arabian Pipeline, a 1214 km 30" oil pipeline from Qaisuimah, Saudi Arabia to Sidon, Lebanon. In its heyday, it was an important factor in the global trade of petroleum-- helping with the economic development of Lebanon-- as well as American and Middle Eastern political relations.

Construction began in 1947. Originally the Tapline was intended to terminate in Haifa which was then in Palestine but due to the establishment of the state of Israel, an alternative route through Syria (via the Golan Heights) and Lebanon was selected with an export terminal in Sidon. Oil transport through the pipeline started in 1950. The initial capacity of the pipeline was 300,000 barrels per day (bpd), eventually rising to a maximum capacity of about 500,000 bpd with the addition of several more pumping stations.

Since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the section of the pipepline which runs through the Golan Heights came under Israeli control, though the Israelis permitted the pipeline's operation to continue. After years of constant bickering between Saudi Arabia and Syria and Lebanon over transit fees, the emergence of oil supertankers, and pipeline breakdowns, the section of the line beyond Jordan ceased operation in 1976. The remainder of the line between Saudi Arabia and Jordan continued to transport modest amounts of petroleum until 1990 when the Saudis cut off the pipeline in response to Jordan's support of Iraq during the first Gulf War. Today, the entire section of the line is unfit for oil transport.

Despite these problems, the Tapline has remained a potential export route for Persian Gulf oil exports to Europe and the United States. At least one analysis has indicated that the transportation cost of exporting oil via the Tapline through Haifa to Europe would cost as much as 40 percent less than shipping by tanker through the Suez Canal. In early 2005, rehabilitation of the Tapline at an estimated cost of $100 to $300 million was one of the strategic options being considered by the Jordanian government to meet oil needs.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Caroline Glick: News Media & NGOs Collaborate with Terrorists

From Little Green Footballs:
AS IS the case with the Palestinian war against Israel, one of the most notable aspects of Hizbullah’s latest campaign against Israel has been the active collaboration of news organizations and international NGO’s in Hizbullah’s information war against Israel. Like their rogue state sponsors, subversive sub-national groups like Hizbullah, Fatah and Hamas, see information operations as an integral part of their war for the annihilation of Israel and defeat of the West. And their information operations are more advanced than any the world has seen. As becomes more evident with each passing day, they have successfully corrupted both the world media and the community of NGOs that purportedly operate in a neutral manner in war zones.

It is not a coincidence that I saw the pictures of the Reuters’ vehicle on Powerline and not in the media coverage of the purported attack. Both the global media and the international NGO community abjectly refuse to investigate themselves. As democratic governments and their militaries have proven incapable of dealing with the phenomenon (in part because they seek to curry favor with the media and the international NGO community), the blogosphere as taken upon itself the role of media watchdog.

BLOGGERS HAVE become a critical component of the free world’s defense in the current war. During the Hizbullah campaign in Lebanon, bloggers scrutinized coverage of the war in a way that has never been done before. Their work has exposed the dirty secret of the Middle East that the media has hidden for so many years: The global media and the international NGO community, which profess to be neutral observers, are in fact colluding with terrorist organizations.

The blogosphere, and particularly Little Green Footballs, Powerline, Zombietime, Michelle Malkin, and EU Referendum, have relentlessly exposed the systematic staging of news events, fabrication of attacks against relief workers, and doctoring of photographic images by Hizbullah with the active assistance of international organizations and the global media.

Eliyo Matz's Modest Proposal for Chinese Zionism

The Chinese Are Coming!
Eliyho Matz

The last week of August, 2006, I read in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz an interesting economic announcement. Amos Schoken, the current owner of the Ha’aretz, sold a quarter interest in the newspaper to German investors. The Schoken family left Germany in the mid-1930’s as a result of the Nazis coming to power, to Palestine. Now, in 2006, the Schoken family is conducting business with Germans. Of course, the Germany of 2006 is not the Germany of the years of the Holocaust, 1939-1945, but the economic partnership between an Israeli family and a German family vis a vis an Israeli newspaper raises all kinds of wild, improbable dreams I am sure in the readers of Ha’aretz. To me personally it doesn’t mean beans. However, I think there is some sort of an error here done by the owner of Ha’aretz, Mr. Amos Schoken. If one studies economics even on a limited scale, as I did 25 years ago at the University, one understands that somebody profited here from the deal. Otherwise there would not be any deals of this sort.

I met Amos Schoken in the Yom Kippur war in 1973, and to his credit I would say that he is a very courageous officer, a straightforward man, a determined person, a nice person, although sometimes a bit of a snob. But he is the Best of the Best that the Israeli upper class can offer. His newspaper -- his father’s newspaper – is one of the best Israel has to offer, and may be the best newspaper in the whole Middle East.

I am not writing these thoughts to debate Amos Schoken and his economic decisions. The purpose of this paper will unfold slowly.

I called Tel Aviv from New York City to speak to one of our commanders in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. We started a conversation. I asked him if he read the article in Ha’aretz about Amos Schoken and the German investors. He said he had, and he made some choice observations regarding the Germans best left to the imagination of the reader. I reminded the commander how important Ha’aretz is in Israeli society, and he grudgingly conceded that to be the case.

The main reason for the call, however, was not the announcement in Ha’aretz about the Schoken/German business connections, but rather an altogether different issue: the latest Israeli war in Lebanon, and the Middle East in general.

It was during this conversation that I had insight that could alter the course of the conflict in the Middle East, contain it, maybe even end it, and at the same time be an economic boon to the region and possibly even the world. I realized that Amos Schoken did not really hit the target in the business deal with the Germans. True, the Germany of 2006 is a mighty force in western and world economics. But, it occurred to me, the Chinese are mightier by several orders of magnitude with a massive impact on global economics that spreads daily. If Schoken wanted potential investors for the unforeseeable future, I observed to the commander, he should have turned to Capitalist China, or even to Communist China. I do believe I heard the commander’s chair clatter to the floor as he fell off it laughing.

For my part, though, I realized I had hit on something important, something that should not be ignored. And I began to meditate and cogitate and focus on the potential of a Chinese-Israeli connection.

Most of my business is conducted in a small store in Manhattan. I am busy selling office supplies and rubber bands, and many other office items. I specialize in selling pens to intellectuals and rubber bands to flexible people. It absorbs a good deal of energy, but it also gives me time to dream, to think, to read, to consider and to extrapolate. The latest war between Israel and the Hezbollah has wakened in me some thoughts, which I find I must put down on paper if for no other reason than to clarify them.

This war – our current Secretary of State refers to it as a “spasm” – was a
no-win/no-win situation, what the Chinese call Yin-Yang – half white, half black. And here we can look at the Israeli theory that was developed while Levi Eschkol was Prime Minister in 1967. It is well known that once, when offered tea or coffee to drink, he asked for half tea, half coffee. In truth, a whole generation of Israeli intellectuals has been raised with ideas that are half cooked, half raw. Seriously!

In the business that I conduct in New York, I meet with a variety of people, from all nations, and of course people from the Far East. I once remember conversing with a Chinese-American lady. When I told her the story of indecision, the half coffee, half tea, she found it interesting. She reminded me that in certain Chinatown restaurants, one could actually order this drink. It is called Yin-Yang.

Twenty years ago, when I worked in the wholesale office supplies business, the owner of the company sent me to Chinatown to see and try to develop ties with Chinese business people. Ever since the 1980’s, I have been visiting Chinatown regularly, and of course I have done business there. When in Chinatown I eat at a restaurant Mi Sam that serves only Chinese people. My business relationships with certain Chinese businessmen have ripened over time into personal friendships.

Anyone who has any knowledge of Chinese culture knows that close relationships are difficult for non-Chinese to develop. Chinatown is in many ways a closed community and as a group, its residents keep a certain distance, and keep to themselves. But I have been privileged and fortunate enough to pierce that shield of disinterestedness somewhat. After years of mutually profitable business relations, many meetings and genuinely cordial relations with a number of merchants, I have found good friendship with Harvey Ting and with the Ting family.

One Christmas several years ago, Harvey handed me a box of tea, and told me that his father and his father’s family had kept that box of tea for more than 150 years! He also introduced me to green teas. When I came home and told my wife about the ancient tea, she thought I was a bit coo-coo. But once she tasted the tea, she immediately realized that tea, real tea, and this tea in particular, is phenomenally great, incomparable to anything she had tasted before and called by the name “tea”. Over the course of the following year, she changed completely and now prepares a good hot green tea for us before we go to sleep.

There are many who claim that green tea has medicinal benefits, like keeping you energetic and so forth. So, I keep drinking the tea and I keep some small quantities of it at home. When one of the Tings visits China, they never miss the opportunity to bring me some interesting teas.

The last war between Israel and the Hezbollah that ended with that Yin-Yang situation made me think about the Chinese, and I could not keep myself from thinking . . . about the geopolitical impact of inviting a million Chinese to settle in the Israeli Galilee.

Bringing a million Chinese to the Galilee first as workers who would rehabilitate the devastated region after the war, would revolutionize the geopolitics of the region and permanently alter the character of the Middle East.

As an example take the town of Kinyat Shemona, devastated by the recent “spasm”. Bring in a million Chinese to resettle the region, let them rehabilitate the town, reconstruct it, introduce Chinese architecture, maybe even build a not-so-great wall between Israel and Lebanon. The Great Wall didn’t work so well in China, but in the Middle East – who knows? – maybe it will be as effective as the Sharon wall on the West Bank.

The Chinese government would surely find the prospect of colonization appealing for all the usual reasons, with the additional and tantalizing benefit that they would be the only world power ever to penetrate the contentious Middle East without firing a shot. And indeed, the mere presence of a million Chinese citizens in the Galilee would be a jim dandy peacekeeping factor. They would totally cow the warmongering clans and perhaps reinstate some rule of common sense. After all, who would want a war – any war – with a million Chinese in the Galilee and a billion Chinese in China?

A million Chinese in the Galilee would be the best thing that ever happened to the Hebrew language and certainly would be a great bonus for Ha’aretz. These new colonists would need to study Hebrew, and as a daily practicum in the language would need to read a local newspaper. Think of the windfall for Ha’aretz! A million new subscribers within a few months’ time! And of course, one’s newspaper of choice becomes something of an addiction. Once you are accustomed to reading a given newspaper in the morning, none other will do. And since Ha’aretz is not just a Hebrew paper, it is a Jewish paper, it would be the first wave in a general strategy of Jewish Zionism, to convert a million Chinese to Judaism. This would take a few years, but since the region is so utterly shattered in the wake of our newest spasm, our colonists will have time to assimilate.

Of course, everyone returns home after a while, and some of the colonists would undoubtedly want to return to China for one reason or another. These would return to China and carry the seeds of Judaism with them – returning Chinese Zionists. And of course, once ‘home’ in China, they would crave Ha’aretz and news of their second home from a perspective they could trust. What would this mean for Ha’aretz? More subscriptions, of course, and former colonial readers infecting non-colonists with the hunger for news from a trustworthy perspective well written and presented.
While we are meditating on the possibility of the expansion of Ha’aretz readership into China, one should not forget to look closer to the Middle East itself. It is possible for the leadership of Ha’aretz to print the newspaper in Arabic. Ha’aretz in English has been appearing for many years. And it is possible that Ha’aretz will come up with a Chinese version. Just think how many potential readers it could tap if it expanded into Arabic and Chinese.

Our Rabbis would undoubtedly see the Chinese settlement in the Galilee as a golden opportunity for converts. The giuyr (conversion) to Judaism can lead to many more converts in China, and more work for Rabbis, and lots of work of Hashgacha, (supervision).

A million Chinese building a Galilee they would then settle would have to be issued Israeli citizenship, or if you prefer, Jewish citizenship. This would change the geopolitics of the region.

To make the trip between China and Israel easier, I would suggest a railroad between Shanghai and Haifa. The Chinese, as we all know, have a lot of experience building and maintaining railroads. When the Chinese conquered Tibet a few years ago, they put the finishing touches on a railroad between China and Tibet, an accomplishment always considered a real mission impossible.

At the present time, there is in China a shortage of work for engineers and workers, so there is an abundance of labor available for the task of rebuilding the Galilee. The Israeli tradition of “Gdoodie Avoda” labor gangs can be revitalized, and there will be a complete return of popular Israeli song with a new twist or version of ya challilee ya amalee (“Oh my flute; oh my work”) or another popular song and saying from the 1920’s Tee veorez yes b’sin (“tea and rice can be found in China”).

The colonializing Chinese possibility has to be explored in this whole scenario. In the U.S., we joke that contemporary Jews constructing new homes build them without kitchens, for the simple reason that they prefer a meal contract with a Chinese restaurant to a kitchen for their daily comestibles.

In New York, Jews and Chinese food go together, and Jews are very important clientele of Chinese restaurants. There is an old joke that if Chinese civilization is 4,000 years old, and Jewish civilization is 5,600 years old – how did Jews survive for 1,600 years without Chinese takeout? This joke is old and successful primarily because the tastes of the more ancient group have a predictable affinity for the food of the younger group. There is no reason to believe that this legendary symbiosis would not continue in the Galilee once the colonists arrive and embed. And with this, our Rabbis, the Mashgichim (supervisors), Schochtafim (slaughterers) would enter into the fray with almost unbelievable consequences. Hordes of Charedim (super orthodox) or just ordinary religious Jewish folks would have lots of work (Parnasa) and lots of excellent Chinese kosher food, at very affordable prices.

There are so many options available here: political, religious, culinary, that I think one would be an idiot not to be enticed by the potential economic benefits of a Zionist Chinese entity.

And the bureaucracy of Israel definitely would benefit from these newcomers. The Jewish Agency hasochnut hayehudit whose historical, key role in Israeli immigration gives them an essential expertise in this process would find a renewed identity and purpose exploring the new concept of “Chinesism”. They could supply the Sochnut Beds (Jewish agency beds) that were famous in Israel for many decades. I personally keep two of these beds at home to keep the memory alive.

There is also a religio-cultural comeuppance in this strategy that will undoubtedly tickle the Rabbis’ with their attitudes toward the Goyim (gentiles): Christianity began in Palestine/ancient Israel and spread to the west, so it is fitting and reasonable that Judaism spread to the fecund east. All the Rabbis need to complete the scenario would be a Chinese martyr to found the phenomenon.

Almost everything we touch in America is now made in China, and I have long claimed that one day we will make Jews in China. Of course I thought that in saying this, I was making a joke, but from the perspective of this strategy, I was prophetic. Of course this Zionist strategy will take time and require patience, a trait unheard of among Israelis. Oddly enough, this strategy could even change that. Chinese shiduch (marriage) and genetic engineering could even produce the heretofore un-imaginable: a patient Israeli. It could change the national character.

For those of us who forget, every march starts with a small step. The Chinese are very experienced with marches. And the Israeli Jews have experience as well: Egypt and the 40 year journey to the promised land. If the imagination can take place here, let it work.

Cooperation between Israel and the Chinese settlers would certainly overshadow the influences of other interlopers in the region, like Russia and the U.S. – or at least neutralize them. This would tranquilize the region and engender something equally as unimaginable as a patient Israeli: Peace and quiet. Peace and quiet would in turn attract Indians to the region. No more would Israelis take journeys to the land of Ghandi to study under Gurus; Indians would come to Israel. Big chaflas (celebrations) would be held, and everybody would find happiness through yoga.
Peace around the world; Israeli newspapers spreading the Hebrew and Israeli language from Shanghai to Haifa. Mutual respect, or for our purposes, equally as good, respect out of fear from Chinese anger. Chinese as a new element in world geopolitics.

This entire scenario would change Israeli literature as well. No more nonsense Oz or Yehosua and the Rabicovitz depression. We need new amichi’s, new Israeli Chinese: Hi-Koo.

It would be the new Israeli involvement in the region am lo levadad yisckon (a nation not dwelling by itself).

We have to start the march. We have to take that little step, and maybe Amos Schoken can show the way, lead the way, maybe then green tea will do it. In any case we must try and start marching.

Eliyho Matz, New York City, Aug. 2006

Shelby Steele on Militant Islamism

From the Wall Street Journal:
So the anti-Semite comes to a chilling place: He easily joins himself to evil in order to serve God. Fighting and even killing Jews brings the world closer to God's intended human hierarchy. For Nazis, the "final solution" was an act of self-realization and a fulfillment of God's will. At the center of today's militant Islamic identity there is a passion to annihilate rather than contain Israel. And today this identity applies the anti-Semitic model of hatred to a vastly larger group--the infidel. If the infidel is not yet the object of that pristine hatred reserved for Jews, he is not far behind. Bombings in London, Madrid and Mumbai; riots in Paris; murders in Amsterdam; and of course 9/11--all these follow the formula of anti-Semitism: murder of a hated enemy as self-realization and service to God.

Hatred and murder are self-realization because they impart grandeur to Islamic extremists--the sense of being God's chosen warrior in God's great cause. Hatred delivers the extremist to a greatness that compensates for his ineffectuality in the world. Jews and infidels are irrelevant except that they offer occasion to hate and, thus, to experience grandiosity. This is why Hezbollah--Party of God--can take no territory and still claim to have won. The grandiosity is in the hating and fighting, not the victory.

And death--both homicide and suicide--is the extremist's great obsession because its finality makes the grandiosity "real." If I am not afraid to kill and die, then I am larger than life. Certainly I am larger than the puny Westerners who are reduced to decadence by their love of life. So my hatred and my disregard of death, my knowledge that life is trivial, deliver me to a human grandeur beyond the reach of the West. After the Madrid bombings a spokesman for al Qaeda left a message: "You love life, and we love death." The horror is that greatness is tied to death rather than to achievement in life.

The West is stymied by this extremism because it is used to enemies that want to live. In Vietnam, America fought one whose communism was driven by an underlying nationalism, the desire to live free of the West. Whatever one may think of this, here was an enemy that truly wanted to live, that insisted on territory and sovereignty. But Osama bin Laden fights only to achieve a death that will enshrine him as a figure of awe. The gift he wants to leave his people is not freedom or even justice; it is consolation.

White guilt in the West--especially in Europe and on the American left--confuses all this by seeing Islamic extremism as a response to oppression. The West is so terrified of being charged with its old sins of racism, imperialism and colonialism that it makes oppression an automatic prism on the non-Western world, a politeness. But Islamic extremists don't hate the West because they are oppressed by it. They hate it precisely because the end of oppression and colonialism--not their continuance--forced the Muslim world to compete with the West. Less oppression, not more, opened this world to the sense of defeat that turned into extremism.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Real Miss Moneypenny...

Today's Washington Post Book World carries Selwa Roosevelt's review of a new biograpy of Vera Atkins, written by Sarah Helm:
The author faced a formidable task in researching and writing this book: Not only did she have to unravel covert SOE operations, but she found that Atkins had personal secrets of her own. Tall, fair and strikingly good-looking, Atkins was admired and feared but not particularly loved. Time and again, she was described as distant and cold. She never married, and she was very discreet about any romantic affairs. According to Helm, behind her exterior was much she wanted to conceal. Hers was a story worthy of a Hollywood movie -- and, indeed, it has been rumored that Atkins was the inspiration for Ian Fleming's Miss Moneypenny.
You can buy a copy by clicking here:

Saturday, August 26, 2006

US Diplomat Charged in Visa Bribery Plot

This story interests me especially because my Russian and Uzbek students found it very difficult to get US visas for study or holidays--and my Argentine cousin, a young doctor, was turned down twice, despite letters of support from our family here, her passport stamped with the equivalent of a "Scarlet Letter" the second time around. We had to meet her in Canada (she had no trouble getting a Canadian visa). And I wonder how many more State Department consular officials whom we haven't yet heard about may be involved with the type of operation alleged in this story from the Toronto Star?:
A U.S. career diplomat, who worked out of the American consulate in Toronto, will be spending the weekend in jail in Washington — charged with accepting bribes that included jewellery and trips with exotic dancers to New York and Las Vegas in exchange for issuing visas to 21 people associated with a global jewel distributor.

Michael John O'Keefe, 59, appeared devastated as he heard the charges, slumping his head into his hands when prosecutors said he faced up to 15 years in prison.

He did not enter a plea, but returns to court on Monday for a hearing.

O'Keefe, who served as the deputy non-immigrant visa chief at the consulate, was charged yesterday in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia with three counts of conspiracy and bribery.

Also charged was Sunil Agrawal, a 47-year-old native of India and the chief executive of the New-York based STS Jewels — a company with offices in the GTA as well as Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo, Mumbai, Jaipur and Dubai. Agrawal is still at large.

If convicted on all charges, O'Keefe and Agrawal face five to 15 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000.

O'Keefe, who is from Portsmouth, N.H., has been with the State Department for 22 years.
Bloomberg adds:
The indictment included what the government said were e-mail messages between the two men. One from January 2005 referred to a Manhattan Hotel stay and a ring valued at more than $3,000.

`Received the Ring'

``I received the ring this afternoon and I am very grateful for your kindness,'' O'Keefe is quoted as messaging Agrawal, an Indian national with permanent resident status in the U.S. O'Keefe promised to speed up the visa application of a company employee and eventually issued 21 visas to people ``sponsored by'' STS, the indictment said.

Later that month, Agrawal hosted O'Keefe and two exotic dancers, identified as ``A.M.'' and ``M.S.,'' in New York, accompanying them to dinner and a Broadway show and paying their hotel bills, the indictment said.

The case is U.S. v. O'Keefe, 1:06-cr-00249, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

Amir Taheri: Hezbollah Lost

From the Wall Street Journal:
Far from representing the Lebanese national consensus, Hezbollah is a sectarian group backed by a militia that is trained, armed and controlled by Iran. In the words of Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the Iranian daily Kayhan, "Hezbollah is 'Iran in Lebanon.' " In the 2004 municipal elections, Hezbollah won some 40% of the votes in the Shiite areas, the rest going to its rival Amal (Hope) movement and independent candidates. In last year's general election, Hezbollah won only 12 of the 27 seats allocated to Shiites in the 128-seat National Assembly--despite making alliances with Christian and Druze parties and spending vast sums of Iranian money to buy votes.

Hezbollah's position is no more secure in the broader Arab world, where it is seen as an Iranian tool rather than as the vanguard of a new Nahdha (Awakening), as the Western media claim. To be sure, it is still powerful because it has guns, money and support from Iran, Syria and Hate America International Inc. But the list of prominent Arab writers, both Shiite and Sunni, who have exposed Hezbollah for what it is--a Khomeinist Trojan horse--would be too long for a single article. They are beginning to lift the veil and reveal what really happened in Lebanon.

Having lost more than 500 of its fighters, and with almost all of its medium-range missiles destroyed, Hezbollah may find it hard to sustain its claim of victory. "Hezbollah won the propaganda war because many in the West wanted it to win as a means of settling score with the United States," says Egyptian columnist Ali al-Ibrahim. "But the Arabs have become wise enough to know TV victory from real victory."

Le Corbeau (1943)

Continuing the French theme in film viewing, recently screened Henri-Georges Clouzot's 1943 whodunit, Le Corbeau (The Raven). Made during the Nazi occupation of France, it seems to have a symbolic meaning as well as its overt storyline. Set in a hospital in a French village, the film dramatizes the paranoia that sweeps over the population as anonymous letters of denunciation rain down (literally), written by "Le Corbeau." Who is Le Corbeau? After many twists and turns that take us through secret love affairs of the middle-classes, we find out the shocking truth.

I'm not telling...

Friday, August 25, 2006

James Webb on the Global War on Terror

After reading about S. R. Sidarth, I took a look at James Webb's campaign website. It features this recent speech on national security that seems pretty thoughtful. Webb makes a connection between Islamist terror and the rise of China, and has some cogent observations about problems with US-Russian relations. Overall, he seems to have thought a lot about what is going on. Even if he doesn't beat George Allen in Virginia, he's using the campaign to raise serious issues that have not been addressed--specifically the need for a new American "Grand Strategy." An excerpt:
What I would like to do today is to talk specifically about our national security - my views on where we need to go as a nation on this issue. I’d like to start off by saying that I’ve been doing this part of our governmental system all of my life. I was born in the military. My father was a career military officer. I served in the Marine Corp. Afterwards, when I went to law school, the first book that I wrote, when I was 28 years old, was on our strategic interest in the Pacific. I covered Beirut when the Marines were there in 1983 for the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour. Two years ago, I was just coming out of Afghanistan having covered our forces in Afghanistan in nine different places for a great magazine. As mentioned, I served in the Pentagon as Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy. I’ve been grateful to be one of the few people who has been able to write for the New York Times and the Wall street Journal editorial pages (because they basically hate each other) on these kinds of issues. And I must say to you that I’m very very concerned about the state of our national security posture. It is in total disarray. The Bush Administration has failed to bring an end to the occupation of Iraq. The Middle East is in danger of spinning out of control. Iran and North Korea, both of whom were more serious threats to our national security than the invasion of Iraq, have become ever more defiant. Al Qaeda and other extremist terrorist organizations have seen their ranks grow, largely as a result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq. For the longer term, we’ve neglected these other things that reflect and affect our national greatness. We are mortgaging our future, step-by-step, to China. We have failed to invest in the economic competitiveness that underlies military strength and national power. And by that I mean our educational systems, our infrastructure which can’t be paid for when we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the infrastructure of territories that we are occupying around the world.

These difficulties have come about in large part because those who are telling us where we need to go, those who are leading us, lack the kind of strategic vision that has served our country so well in other eras. The grand strategy, national strategy demands that we identify and articulate our nation’s goals and objectives in outlining clearly how we intend to achieve them. The founding fathers intended that the Senate served as a check on the presidency and also that it be a place for deep deliberation on vital national issues. I’m mindful of something that Chuck Hagel, a Democrat, excuse me a Republican senator from Nebraska and a long-time friend of mine, has said many times over the past few years -- that when he took his oath of office, he took it to the Constitution and not to the presidency. I cannot say that about George Allen. And I cannot identify, quite frankly, one iota of George Allen’s strategic vision other than the talking points he has been receiving from the administration.

We need to start with the notion that our country has a unique place in the world. We all know that. We all feel it. It also has unique obligations in the conduct of its foreign policy. The overriding challenge of today for our country is international terrorism. And I would say that terrorism and Iraq were separate issues until George W. Bush incorrectly and unwisely linked them. We need to end the occupation of Iraq so that we can repair our relationships around the world and turn our focus back to the larger issue of terrorism.

Terrorism is intimately linked with the troubles in the Middle East, but what we’ve done in Iraq has been to make these problems worse. In my view, the conditions in Lebanon today are a direct result of the complete failure of our Iraq policy and indeed our entire Middle East policy. This administration planned from the beginning to make war in Iraq and it used the public fear and anger after September 11th to pursue that objective. I predicted at the time that invading and occupying Iraq would only strengthen Iran, therefore, benefiting virtually all of America’s enemies in that region, as well as affecting our relationships with other countries throughout the world. This administration and its supporters refuse to connect the actions in Iraq to the larger problems in the Middle East generally and to terrorism specifically nor do they appear to appreciate that their foreign policy has affected a wide range of issues across the globe which demand our strategic focus.

I’ve been saying for 20 years that China was pursuing a strategy with the Muslim world designed to destabilize the United States and to improve its access to oil. Among other efforts, it was China that enabled Pakistan’s move to become a nuclear power and it has been China that has been one of the closest allies of Iran. In fact, over the past three or four years, the largest on shore oil facility in Iran is now half-owned by the Chinese government. It’s a $200 billion facility. These are dangerous and neglected efforts that we need to address, both to improve the short terms problems in the Middle East and to safeguard our long term interest in China. The animosity resulting from our actions in Iraq has, in itself, strengthened China’s hand, just as the money we have spent in that war has weakened our infrastructure and threatened our economy. China, we have to face this, represents our greatest long term challenge, both militarily and economically. For too long, we have been mortgaging our future to the very nation that represents our greatest challenge.

Russia is a troubled country but still a world power. It is central to such Middle East issues as Iran and its evolution towards a nuclear capability and to the world oil market. If the Russian government goes the wrong way in the next decade, it has a potential, once again, to become a nuclear armed adversary or an extremely dangerous failed state. The current approach to Russia has swung from the President’s gazing into Putin’s eyes and supposedly seeing his soul to allowing Dick Cheney to scold him like a child This is not the way to engage a strange but vitally important world power.

In terms of the rest of the world, ultimately the entire global community must address the issues of failed states, world regimes, and underdevelopment, which are the breeding grounds of such issues as terrorism. In our own hemisphere, we need to improve our homeland security and to guard against the terrorist threat, at the same time coming up with a sensible, fair, and enforceable policy on immigration. And we need to think about that in the larger context of our relations with Latin America which has been backsliding toward authoritarianism and illiberal economies. We shouldn’t allow the rest of the Americans to become anti-Americans, even as we ourselves become more Latino in our makeup. A true vision for national security must also encompass non-military challenges. We need to wean ourselves off our dependence on foreign oil. It goes without saying that we are too dependant on Middle Eastern regimes today and if we are not careful we may be heading into a clash with China tomorrow over energy resources.

"I am Macaca"

In today's Washington Post, Frederick Kunkle profiles 20-year old University of Virginia student S. R. Sidarth--who revealed Virginia Republican Senator George Allen's racist campaign rally appeal,while tracking Allen for Democratic rival James Webb. Whether Allen wins or loses the Virginia race now depends on the size of Virginia's redneck voting bloc. He's clearly not going to win any Indian-American support, after going calling Virginia-born S. R. Sidarth a "Macaca" and shouting "Welcome to America!"
His political interests follow family tradition. His great-grandfather accompanied Mahatma Gandhi to London for talks on political reform. His grandfather, R. Srinivasan, was secretary of the World Health Organization in the 1990s. His father, Shekar Narasimhan, aided some political campaigns, usually for Democrats but not always, Sidarth said.

Sidarth's father, a prosperous mortgage banker, came to the United States to study about 25 years ago. His mother, Charu, a teacher of Indian classical dance, followed later.

Both played important roles in the founding of Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Lanham, one of the largest Hindu temples in the country, said Narayanswami Subramanian, the temple's president. Shekar Narasimhan is a trustee emeritus, Charu Narasimhan chairs the board of trustees and Sidarth volunteers there.

"They've instilled in him all the values that are important to a Hindu: being honest, working hard," Subramanian said.

Ali Batouli, a senior biology major at Stanford University who befriended Sidarth in a 10th-grade calculus class, said Sidarth could solve complicated math problems in his head faster than anyone else. As a high school senior, Sidarth also seemed to know more than his Advanced Placement classmates about Virginia and United States government history, Batouli said.

Sirocco (1951)

Thanks to Netflix, had a chance to watch Humphrey Bogart, Lee J. Cobb, nd Zero Mostel, among others starring in Curtis Berhnhardt's 1951 Casablanca-inspired Sirocco. it was a little slow and a little stodgy--but very interesting because of its storyline. Set in French-occupied Damascus, Syria in 1925, Sirocco is the story of American arms-smuggler Humphrey Bogart--caught in the middle between the French military and the Syrian Emir's rebellion. It is kind of sophisticated, with a love triangle featuring Bogart, the head of French military intelligence, and his mistress, played by Marta Toren. It's certainly not as good as Casablanca, but some of the scenes are eerily reminiscent of what is going on in places like Baghdad and Lebanon right now. For example, a bombing of a nightclub frequented by foreigners, as well as a plot climax featuring a kidnapping and murder by the Emir's side leading to increased fighting, followed by a hostage-taking and eventually a negotiated cease-fire. Oscar Wilde may have been right: Life does seem to imitate art.

Although Bogart called the film a "stinker" according to Film Noir of the Week, it should interest people who are following events in the Middle East. Plus, Bogart does a great job acting, as does Lee J. Cobb. Marta Toren is pretty good, but no Ingrid Bergman. And Zero Mostel plays an Armenian black-marketeer who almost steals the show.

Bottom line: For maximum effect, watch it now, before peace breaks out...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The KGB 's Role in Islamist Terror

Former Romanian general Ion Mihai Pacepa writes in National Review:
In 1972, the Kremlin decided to turn the whole Islamic world against Israel and the U.S. As KGB chairman Yury Andropov told me, a billion adversaries could inflict far greater damage on America than could a few millions. We needed to instill a Nazi-style hatred for the Jews throughout the Islamic world, and to turn this weapon of the emotions into a terrorist bloodbath against Israel and its main supporter, the United States. No one within the American/Zionist sphere of influence should any longer feel safe.

According to Andropov, the Islamic world was a waiting petri dish in which we could nurture a virulent strain of America-hatred, grown from the bacterium of Marxist-Leninist thought. Islamic anti-Semitism ran deep. The Muslims had a taste for nationalism, jingoism, and victimology. Their illiterate, oppressed mobs could be whipped up to a fever pitch.

Terrorism and violence against Israel and her master, American Zionism, would flow naturally from the Muslims’ religious fervor, Andropov sermonized. We had only to keep repeating our themes — that the United States and Israel were “fascist, imperial-Zionist countries” bankrolled by rich Jews. Islam was obsessed with preventing the infidels’ occupation of its territory, and it would be highly receptive to our characterization of the U.S. Congress as a rapacious Zionist body aiming to turn the world into a Jewish fiefdom.

The codename of this operation was “SIG” (Sionistskiye Gosudarstva, or “Zionist Governments”), and was within my Romanian service’s “sphere of influence,” for it embraced Libya, Lebanon, and Syria. SIG was a large party/state operation. We created joint ventures to build hospitals, houses, and roads in these countries, and there we sent thousands of doctors, engineers, technicians, professors, and even dance instructors. All had the task of portraying the United States as an arrogant and haughty Jewish fiefdom financed by Jewish money and run by Jewish politicians, whose aim was to subordinate the entire Islamic world.

In the mid 1970s, the KGB ordered my service, the DIE — along with other East European sister services — to scour the country for trusted party activists belonging to various Islamic ethnic groups, train them in disinformation and terrorist operations, and infiltrate them into the countries of our “sphere of influence.” Their task was to export a rabid, demented hatred for American Zionism by manipulating the ancestral abhorrence for Jews felt by the people in that part of the world. Before I left Romania for good, in 1978, my DIE had dispatched around 500 such undercover agents to Islamic countries. According to a rough estimate received from Moscow, by 1978 the whole Soviet-bloc intelligence community had sent some 4,000 such agents of influence into the Islamic world.

In the mid-1970s we also started showering the Islamic world with an Arabic translation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a tsarist Russian forgery that had been used by Hitler as the foundation for his anti-Semitic philosophy. We also disseminated a KGB-fabricated “documentary” paper in Arabic alleging that Israel and its main supporter, the United States, were Zionist countries dedicated to converting the Islamic world into a Jewish colony.

We in the Soviet bloc tried to conquer minds, because we knew we could not win any military battles. It is hard to say what exactly are the lasting effects of operation SIG. But the cumulative effect of disseminating hundreds of thousands of Protocols in the Islamic world and portraying Israel and the United States as Islam’s deadly enemies was surely not constructive.

Alan Dershowitz on Human Rights Watch

From the New York Sun::
How could Human Rights Watch have suppressed this evidence from so many different sources? The only reasonable explanation is that they wanted there to be no evidence of Hezbollah's tactic of hiding behind civilians. So they cooked the books to make it come out that way. Even after the fighting ended and numerous reports of Hezbollah hiding among civilians were published, Kenneth Roth essentially repeated the demonstrably false conclusions that "in none of those cases was Hizbullah anywhere around at the time of the attack." So committed is Human Rights Watch to its pre-determined conclusions that it refused to let the facts, as reported by objective sources, get in its way. Many former supporters of Human Rights Watch have become alienated from the organization, because of, in the words of one early supporter, "their obsessive focus on Israel." Within the last month, virtually every component of the organized Jewish community, from secular to religious, liberal to conservative, has condemned Human Rights Watch for its bias. Roth and his organization's willful blindness when it comes to Israel and its enemies have completely undermined the credibility of a once important human rights organization. Human Rights Watch no longer deserves the support of real human rights advocates. Nor should its so-called reporting be credited by objective news organizations.

Russia Overtakes Saudia Arabia

As Number One oil producer, according to The Moscow News:
According to OPEC, in June 2006 Russia extracted 9.236 million barrels of oil, which is 46,000 barrels more than Saudi Arabia. The statistics also showed that Russian production in the first half of this year increased to 235.8 million tons, a year-on-year improvement of 2.3 percent.

Traditionally, Saudi Arabia has been regarded as the world’s undisputed primary source of oil and Russia has had to settle for second place. But in recent years Russia has re-nationalized and modernized much of its industry and that policy now appears to be paying off.

India Extends Assam Truce

The cousin of someone I know is moving to India to work on tea plantations in Darjeeling and Assam, and as a result I've become more interested in news from that area lately. This recent announcement on Reuters Alternet naturally caught my eye:
NEW DELHI, Aug 23 (Reuters) - India has extended a suspension of counter-insurgency operations against a powerful rebel group in the country's northeast by two more weeks, a mediator said on Wednesday.

The suspension of operations against the separatist United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) was first announced 10 days ago and was expected to be in force for a "few days". The rebels reciprocated and said they would halt attacks on the army "for the time being".

But both sides had said it was not a formal ceasefire.
I hope it lasts...

Will Pluto Survive?

As a planet? Or will it be demoted to a "dwarf"? They're voting right now at the International Astronomical Union convention in Prague, according to the BBC.

Ali Alyami's Letter to the Egyptian Ambassador

From the Center for Democray and Human Rights::
His Excellency Ambassador Nabil Fahmy
The Egyptian Ambassador to the US
3521 International Ct. NW
Washington DC 20008

His Excellency Nabil Fahmy:

The Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia reject any call by anyone or nation to destroy a whole people regardless of causes, grievances or losses. While we support freedom of speech, thought and expressions, we reject religious extremists such as preacher Safwat Hijazi of Al-Hag Mosque in Jiza, Egypt call on Muslims to kill Jews wherever they are, especially at a time when Muslim passion is high and are looking for revenge. Your Excellency, killing all Jews are not going to solve Arab and Muslim homegrown misery, poverty, high illiteracy, oppression, intolerance and hopelessness. Issuing fatawas by religious extremists like Hijazi is not freedom of speech, it’s license to exterminate people. The following article from the Saudi daily Al-Agtasadiyah is very disturbing to say the least. Safwat Hijazi and his like must not be allowed to incite millions of desperate Muslims to kill Jews.

إمام في الجيزة دعا إلى قتلهم "حيثما وجدوا في زمن الحرب"

فتاوى وفتاوى مضادة في مصر بشأن شرعية قتل "الصهاينة"

الان نافارو من القاهرة ـ أ. ف. ب: - - 29/07/1427هـ

رفض مفتي الجمهورية في مصر الشيخ علي جمعة فتوى اصدرها امام قاهري حث فيها المسلمين على قتل "الصهاينة" وذلك وسط جدل واسع اسال الكثير من الحبر في صفحات الصحف المصرية.
ومع وقف المعارك بين اسرائيل وحزب الله في لبنان اصدر امام مسجد الحق في
الجيزة صفوت حجازي فتوى يدعو فيها المسلمين الى قتل "الصهانية حيثما وجدوا في زمن
واوضح حجازي في حديث للقناة الاسلامية المصرية "الناس" انه يعارض هجوما
انتحاريا داعيا الى استخدام الاسلحة النارية والمدي او السم "حتى لا يتضرر
ثم عاد الداعية الاسلامي الى حصر فتواه في "اليهود الاسرائيليين" الذين
اعتبرهم "بمثابة جنود".
وفي حديث لمجلة "صوت الامة" قال ان "اي يهودي اسرائيلي مهدر الدم في اي مكان
في الكون واي سفير او دبلوماسي اسرائيلي يجب قتله في اي مكان وانا شخصيا لو قابلت
يهوديا اسرائيليا في اي مكان ساقتله والذي يستطيع فعل هذا ولا يفعله يصبح آثما
وحرام عليه".
وبعد ثلاثة ايام من فتوى حجازي اصدر الازهر فتوى مضادة تحظر على حجازي القاء
خطبة الجمعة. وقال عبد الحميد الاطرش رئيس لجنة الفتاوى في الازهر لمجلة "روز
اليوسف" ان "قتل اليهود على التراب المصري يمثل عملا ارهابيا".
غير ان الجدل لم يتوقف وسط جو معاد لاسرائيل منذ هجومها على لبنان في 12
تموز/يوليو ما اجبر مفتي الجمهورية للتدخل على توضيح ان منح تأشيرة دخول ليهودي
الى مصر يعني توفير الحماية له.
واوضح علي جمعة في حديث الثلاثاء لصحيفة "المصري اليوم" انه "طالما حصل
اليهودي او غيره من الاجانب على تأشيرة دخول للدولة المسلمة فقد اصبح في وضع يسمى
فقهيا بعقد الامان وهو ما يحرم الاعتداء عليه".
واضاف ان "عقد الامان هو التأشيرة التي يمنحها ولي الامر (..) وهي تعني تحريم
دمه حتى لو كان بيننا وبين بلده حرب قائمة فما بالنا اذا كان من بلد لا يحاربنا".
وكان الشيخ علي جمعة اعرب في بداية الشهر عن تضامنه مع المقاومة اللبنانية في
مواجهة "المجرمين الدمويين".
وفي السياق ذاته قال استاذ الشريعة في الازهر محمد رفعت عثمان ان الاعتداء على
شخص حصل على "تاشيرة دخول او ما يسمى في الاصطلاح الفقهي عقد الامان (..) لا يجوز
شرعا". واضاف "اذا حدث الاعتداء على هذا الشخص فهذا يعد غدرا بالعهود وهو من كبرى
الجرائم في الاسلام".
في المقابل اعتبر مجدي مهنا كاتب العمود الشهير في صحيفة "المصري اليوم"
المستقلة ان ملف حجازي يجب ان يطوى متهما السلطات الدينية بتضخيمه.
وقال مهنا "لست مع الفتوى التي اصدرها الداعية الاسلامي الدكتور صفوت حجازي
واباح فيها قتل اليهود وتعقب الاسرائيليين في كل مكان من العالم حتى اذا كان
هؤلاء اليهود من الذين يقدمون لاسرائيل الدعم ويشجعونها على عدوانها على
الفلسطينيين واللبنانيين وعلى الاستمرار في سياستها العنصرية".
ورأى الكاتب انه لا ينبغي اعطاء اهمية "لما صدر من فتاوى متشددة ومتطرفة هي
الجانب الضئيل الذي سيترتب عليه نتائج الحرب في لبنان".
وبالتوازي مع تمجيد الشيخ حسن نصر الله الامين العام لحزب الله الشيعي
اللبناني، عاد مجددا الى منابر الحوار المصرية الجدل حول العلاقات مع اسرائيل
وذهبت المعارضة الاسلامية والناصرية الى حد المطالبة بقطع هذه العلاقات.
ومصر والاردن هما الدولتان العربيتان الوحيدتان اللتان وقعتا معاهدة سلام مع
اسرائيل وهما مع موريتانيا الدول العربية الثلاث التي تقيم علاقات دبلوماسية مع
الدولة العبرية.
من جانبه اعتبر عماد جاد الباحث في معهد الدراسات الاستراتيجية في الاهرام ان
"كل شيء اصبح يستغل لمهاجمة نظام الرئيس حسني مبارك الذي يعتبر مرتبطا باسرائيل
والولايات المتحدة".
واضاف لوكالة فرانس برس "نأمل ان تحل محل التطرف المخيم لهجة اكثر اعتدالا".

Ali H. Alyami, Executive Director
Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia
1050 17 Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20036
202-558-5552; 202-413-0084; Fax: 202-536-5210;

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More on Grigory Perelman

By Sylvia Nasar and David Gruber. Nasar is author of A Beautiful Mind, in the latest issue of The New Yorker:
We arranged to meet at ten the following morning on Nevsky Prospekt. From there, Perelman, dressed in a sports coat and loafers, took us on a four-hour walking tour of the city, commenting on every building and vista. After that, we all went to a vocal competition at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, which lasted for five hours. Perelman repeatedly said that he had retired from the mathematics community and no longer considered himself a professional mathematician. He mentioned a dispute that he had had years earlier with a collaborator over how to credit the author of a particular proof, and said that he was dismayed by the discipline’s lax ethics. “It is not people who break ethical standards who are regarded as aliens,” he said. “It is people like me who are isolated.” We asked him whether he had read Cao and Zhu’s paper. “It is not clear to me what new contribution did they make,” he said. “Apparently, Zhu did not quite understand the argument and reworked it.” As for Yau, Perelman said, “I can’t say I’m outraged. Other people do worse. Of course, there are many mathematicians who are more or less honest. But almost all of them are conformists. They are more or less honest, but they tolerate those who are not honest.”
The prospect of being awarded a Fields Medal had forced him to make a complete break with his profession. “As long as I was not conspicuous, I had a choice,” Perelman explained. “Either to make some ugly thing”—a fuss about the math community’s lack of integrity—“or, if I didn’t do this kind of thing, to be treated as a pet. Now, when I become a very conspicuous person, I cannot stay a pet and say nothing. That is why I had to quit.” We asked Perelman whether, by refusing the Fields and withdrawing from his profession, he was eliminating any possibility of influencing the discipline. “I am not a politician!” he replied, angrily. Perelman would not say whether his objection to awards extended to the Clay Institute’s million-dollar prize. “I’m not going to decide whether to accept the prize until it is offered,” he said.
Mikhail Gromov, the Russian geometer, said that he understood Perelman’s logic: “To do great work, you have to have a pure mind. You can think only about the mathematics. Everything else is human weakness. Accepting prizes is showing weakness.” Others might view Perelman’s refusal to accept a Fields as arrogant, Gromov said, but his principles are admirable. “The ideal scientist does science and cares about nothing else,” he said. “He wants to live this ideal. Now, I don’t think he really lives on this ideal plane. But he wants to.”
BTW, Nasar's father, Rusi Nasar, was born in Uzbekistan.

Human Rights Watch's Anti-Israel Campaign

From today's editorial in the NY Sun:
Mr. Roth bragged on "The O'Reilly Factor," "we know how to cut through lies." It's training that might be useful for Human Rights Watch's board and donors in dealing with Mr. Roth. Some of them are starting to wise up. Mortimer Zuckerman, whose charitable trust is listed in the 2005 Human Rights Watch annual report as having given between $25,000 and $99,999 to Human Rights Watch, told us he thought Human Rights Watch's treatment of Israel's actions in Lebanon was an "outrage." "Human Rights Watch has lost all moral credibility," he said.

Don't expect a similar recognition anytime soon from the quasigovernmental European foundations that are a big source of Human Rights Watch's funding. Or from the chairman and two members of the Human Rights Watch "Middle East Advisory Committee," Columbia professors Gary Sick, Lisa Anderson, and Jean-Francois Seznec, who accepted a free trip to Saudi Arabia from the state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco, a junket so ethically dubious that the Columbia journalism school faculty voted not to send anyone. Mr. Roth and Human Rights Watch may be able to fool some of the people all of the time, as Lincoln once said. But it hasn't been able to fool all of the people. The leadership of the American Jewish community has long since figured out Human Rights Watch's game. Its founder, Robert Bernstein, as previously noted here, has been telling his friends of his private agonies over the behavior of the organization he helped bring to life. And when the history of this period is written, the record will show that during the war against Israel and the Jewish people, Human Rights Watch and Kenneth Roth joined in the effort to demonize the Jewish state at a time when righteous individuals were trying to defend it.
A question: Given Elie Wiesel's famous essay on the suffering of Soviet Jews, The Jews of Silence, why is Robert Bernstein keeping his"private agonies" --"quiet?"

American NGOs Support Hezbollah

According to today's New York Times:
KHIAM, Lebanon, Aug. 22 — When Mercy Corps and other Western aid agencies reached this devastated village on the front line of the battle between Israel and Hezbollah with food and medicine, they quickly discovered they had a big problem: the United States.
Didn't President Bush once say: "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists?"


Christopher Hitchens on Flying in a Climate of Terror

From the Mirror:
One of the great privileges of the ordinary citizen has been taken away, or at any rate curtailed - just like that.

Imagine how furious we would be if it was the state that had made it hard to leave and return to Britain.

But a tiny group of freaks has made this decision for us. The cost of even a failed attempt is felt immediately in cancelled flights and onerous inspections.

A fine day's work already for them. But what if their plan had succeeded? Not only would we be trying to separate mangled flesh from the wreckage of fuselages, but the world economy and the freedom of movement that underpins it, would dive. At the very least, poorer countries that depend on tourism would have seen a severe drop in wages. One sometimes hears weak people argue that terrorism is caused by poverty.

On the contrary, the mass murder of people on aeroplanes is a leading cause of poverty. And this is not by accident.

It is the aim of religious fundamentalists to create a state of misery and deprivation that might - in their disordered minds - help them to grab power.

What excuse would you accept from someone who tried to bomb the jet that carried your parents or children? Low on the list would be the claim that such an atrocity would help, say, the Palestinians.

You see suffering on the TV news or dislike British or American foreign policy and think - hey, why not kill all the passengers on the Continental flight to LA? I don't quite follow you here.

Never mind whether Mr Blair is right or wrong on Iraq or Afghanistan. We cannot give the impression that British policy may be altered by mass murder.

Reference to the current horrors in Lebanon is crass - the current plot was apparently hatched last December.

I remember a chilling statement from the Provisional IRA, just after the Brighton bomb that narrowly failed to kill Mrs Thatcher. "You were lucky today. But you have to be lucky every day. We only have to be lucky once."

This psychological warfare, backed by violence, is now directed at every civilian. Will we tolerate being spoken to in this vile tone of voice?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Russian Genius Turns Down Million-Dollar Math Prize

From The Moscow Times:
MADRID -- A reclusive Russian mathematician won the world's highest honor in the field Tuesday for work toward solving one of history's toughest math problems but he refused to accept the award -- a stunning renunciation of accolades from the top minds in his field.

Grigory Perelman, a 40-year-old native of St. Petersburg, was praised for work in the field known as topology, which studies shapes, and for a breakthrough that might help scientists figure out nothing less than the shape of the universe.

But besides shunning the medal, academic colleagues say he also seems uninterested in a separate, $1 million prize he might be due over his feat: proving a theorem about the nature of multidimensional space that has stumped very smart people for 100 years.

The academic award, called a Fields Medal, was announced at the International Congress of Mathematicians, an event held every four years, this time in Madrid from Aug. 22-30. It is the highest honor in the field of math. Three other mathematicians -- another Russian, a Frenchman and an Australian -- also won Fields honors this year.

They received their awards from Spanish King Juan Carlos to loud applause from delegates to the conference. But Perelman was not present. "I regret that Dr. Perelman has declined to accept the medal," said John Ball, president of the International Mathematical Union, which is holding the convention.

Mark Steyn on Alistair Cooke

From McLeans Magazine:
A month or two before his death, his assistant found an old, long-lost manuscript at the bottom of a closet. Cooke was delighted, and here it is between hard covers -- The American Home Front 1941-1942, a more or less contemporaneous account of a cross-country drive undertaken a few weeks after Pearl Harbor -- Washington to Miami to Seattle to Portland, Maine. I've been reading it on little commuter flights hopping across Oz and it's both a terrific read and strangely timely.

Harvey Sicherman on the Lessons of Lebanon

From the Foreign Policy Research Insitute:
1. ELECTIONS AREN’T DEMOCRACY: Elections without qualification only enable the enemies of democracy to exploit it. Hamas, Hezbollah, and Sadr all were allowed to run despite their repudiation of the political structure (Oslo, acceptance of U.N. Resolution 1559, the Iraqi Constitution) under which the polls were held. All three produced war or increased sectarian violence not long after they assumed leading roles. We need no more such experiments. Democracy needs rules, too. Legitimacy derives not only from voters but also from platforms.
2. NEW DOCTRINE FOR A NEW ENEMY: Hezbollah has been revealed as a social-political movement, attached to a professional military force using combined terrorist and guerrilla tactics. Current Western military doctrine privileges air and armor. But firepower alone will not do the job in urban areas. Worse, the inevitable civilian toll, magnified by the media, diminishes public support. The United States and its allies must gird themselves to deal with Hezbollah-like tactics. This “asymmetrical” attrition warfare is what gives the enemy its confidence that they can prevail over the long haul whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon or the Palestinian territories. It is rooted in a view of western societies, including Israel, as too decadent to defend themselves for very long once the casualties mount, where the home front is almost more important than the war front. America’s failure to employ sufficient forces in Iraq and now Israel’s over-reliance on air power, reinforces this conviction.
3. PROXY WAR IS NOT ENOUGH: The trouble with proxy war is always the proxies, whose capabilities and interests may not be sufficient or coincide with American wishes. By definition, the main troublemakers go unscathed. Kinder and gentler regimes in Syria and Iran are not likely anytime soon. Until then, the United States must contrive a more effective mix of reward and penalty that offers direct pain to Damascus and Tehran, or should they change policy, direct benefit. Diplomatic, economic, and military policies must march together to exploit vulnerabilities. The war of attrition is available to both sides.

These lessons should survive the “two-in-one” crisis even if the Israeli-Hezbollah war of 2006 does not give a decisive turn to the larger impending confrontation between the United States and Iran.

From the White House Website

Did Karen Hughes think this up?

Melanie Phillips on Islamism in Britain

Melanie Phillips believes that Islamic fascism has taken root in England:
The British political and security establishment, meanwhile, still fails to understand that it is not enough to thwart terrorist plots and disrupt terrorist cells but it must also combat the ideology of lies, hatred and paranoia driving certain Muslims to these terrible acts. Not only do they fail to do so, but they have even recruited jihadists into the very heart of government as advisers.

The mantra justifying this appeasement of extremism is that the vast majority of Britain’s Muslims are ‘moderate.’ True, the vast majority oppose terrorism. But Britain has now effectively defined as a moderate someone who does not support mass murder — and even then, only in Britain.

Where are the Muslim public figures condemning those in their community who support suicide bombings in Israel and Iraq? Or those who blame Israel and the Jews for all the ills of the world? Or who claim that the west is a giant conspiracy to destroy Islam?

You won’t hear such condemnations from the head of the Muslim Council of Britain — an organisation which venerates Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, who endorses suicide bomb attacks in Israel and Iraq — who has said his aim is to get Britain to adopt Islamic values.

Nor from Syed Aziz Pasha, secretary general of the Union of Muslim Organisations of the U.K. and Ireland, who has said he wants public holidays to mark Muslim festivals and Islamic laws to cover family affairs which would apply only to Muslims — a demand which astoundingly the Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly said she would consider. Are these really moderate attitudes?

The unpalatable fact is that there is actually a continuum of Islamic extremism in Britain. While probably only a small number on this continuum will ever be involved in violence, too many others subscribe to odious beliefs and ideas which maintain the sea of hatred and bigotry in which terrorism swims.

The key belief that sustains this continuum and fuels the global jihad is the paranoid falsehood that the West is engaged in a conspiracy to destroy Islam — and that the puppet masters of the West are the Jews.

The centrality of anti-Jewish hatred to the threat to Britain and the West makes Britain’s animus against Israel — and gross inversion of Israel’s 50-year fight to defend itself from extinction — not merely a regrettable prejudice but an act of cultural suicide.

Israel’s many enemies in the U.K. will doubtless be highly satisfied with the United Nations resolution to end the Lebanon war. But by emasculating Israel, this resolution has further empowered Iran and boosted the global jihad against themselves.

Israel’s inept prosecution of the war in Lebanon and the resulting ceasefire are not merely a potential disaster for Israel. Al Qaeda and — even more importantly — Iran will now scent not just Jewish blood but, in the apparent weakness of this key salient in the defence of the West, an opportunity to redouble their efforts to strike directly at Britain and America. For Israel’s fight is the world’s fight. Lose Israel, and the world is lost.

By the time Britain finally works out just who are its allies and who are its enemies, it may well be too late.