Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bush's Libby Clemency Means He Must Fire Cheney to "Move On"

President Bush's press conference today is a reminder that the Scooter Libby commutation was not about Libby, but about Vice President Dick Cheney's role. Since the trial pretty much established that Libby did nothing without Cheney's permission--and certainly was not reprimanded or punished by Cheney--it means that in order for President Bush to restore his credibility, he must honor his pledge to fire any member of his administration involved in leaking information about the CIA--in this case, there is still one member of his administration who was pretty clearly involved: Dick Cheney.

So long as Cheney remains, the Libby cloud will hang over Bush. The media and the Democrats won't let Bush "move on." So, if he truly wants to move on, it is time to find a replacement for Dick Cheney, asap. At this point, someone like Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice might be hard for Democrats to block, as well as put down a marker for Republicans as champions of civil rights. In addition, she must surely pass the "loyalty test" that Bush believes in. It would also open up the State Department to someone new and dynamic. Someone like General Schwarzkopf, if he'd do it (as a George Marshall for our times) With the appointment of Dr. Rice, Bush might at least have a postitive entry in the history books for breaking the color barrier in the Executive Branch (presuming that Dr. Rice acknowledges the Vice-President is part of the Executive Branch).

I'd say the sooner Bush dumps Cheney the better, for both the President and the nation.

Ken Burns Surrenders Yet Again...

According to Lisa de Moraes in today's Washington Post:

Ken Burns is adding about 29 minutes of new material to his seven-part documentary about soldiers who fought in World War II, a response to pressure from a consortium of Hispanic organizations that demanded soldiers of their ethnic background be given prominent roles in the project.

Interviews with two Hispanic soldiers have been added to the first and sixth episodes of "The War," and the story of a Native American soldier has been added to the fifth episode, Burns told reporters here Wednesday at Summer TV Press Tour 2007.

The additional footage, which will be at the end of the episodes but before the end credits roll, may, or may not, end the war Latino groups have waged with Burns over "The War," which is set to debut Sept. 23 on PBS.

"It's been a kind of hot political battle, and we tried to rise above it and take the high road and respond as best we could," Burns said.

He said it had been "painful" to him that "people would misinterpret what the film is about" but added, "I think we found the right balance and the right compromise that permitted us not to alter our original vision and version of the film and at the same time honor what was legitimate about the concerns of people who for 500 years have had their story untold in American history."

Burns said the new material, which pushes the documentary's total length to around 15 hours, is "more than we were asked and expected to" add, calling it "our way of kind of honoring our own interest in doing this right."

In her opening remarks to TV critics and reporters Wednesday, PBS CEO Paula Kerger said the decision to make the changes was entirely Burns's.

"I applaud Ken for reaching an understanding with the Latino groups. . . . The concerns these groups raised remind us that public broadcasting will always be held to a higher standard. Americans demand a lot of us, and that's okay. That's how it should be. We welcome their interest and enthusiasm."

The "enthusiasm" of such groups as the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility -- an umbrella organization of 14 Latino groups -- extended to notifying Burn's underwriters, including General Motors, Anheuser-Busch and several nonprofit foundations, that they would hold those groups accountable if "The War" was not amended to insert interviews with Latino soldiers. They did so with the backing of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which voted in May to support their efforts to wring the additional material highlighting minority soldiers out of Burns.

Burns initially resisted making changes to his project, but in April he agreed to bring on a Latino producer to help produce the new material. But the kerfuffle didn't end there; some Hispanic groups demanded the already finished documentary be re-edited to include the new footage.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The War on Britain's Jews

Richard Littlejohn reports on the rise in anti-Semitism in the UK, for Britain's Channel Four (ht lgf):More video clips posted at Little Green Footballs.

Ed Lasky on Rudy Giuliani's Foreign Policy Gurus

From The American Thinker:
Giuliani's adroit choices for his foreign policy team are likely to enhance his popularity among members of the Republican Party. His campaign has announced the lineup (appropriately enough on the day of the All-Star game - because they are certainly stars) and will likely win praise from the right. Many of the foreign policy members come from the Hoover Institution, the esteemed think-tank located in on the campus of Stanford University. This will play well with many of the influential members of the Republican Party base. The Hoover Institution is one of the intellectual centers of conservativism in America. One of the most respected of our former Secretaries of State, George Schultz, who served under Ronald Reagan, has been long affiliated with Hoover.

Charles Hill is a legendary diplomat with experience derived from postings around the world. He has direct Middle Eastern experience - he was political counselor for the US Embassy in Tel Aviv and was director of Israel and Arab-Israeli affairs. He has also taught many members of our foreign policy elite. A biography of him was recently published by one of his students at Yale (The Man on Whom Nothing was Lost); he emerges in this portrait as one whose worldview is based on a "fundamental faith in the righteousness of American power, properly wielded" and a man who looks back fondly at the methods and success of the Reagan-era foreign policies.

Lassoing a foreign policy titan with Reagan-era credentials is a coup for Giuliani.

Norman Podhoretz has long been one of America's leading intellectuals; from his post as editor of Commentary magazine (he is now editor-at-large) he was able to enliven our public discourse and promote a diverse range of ideas that later became commonly accepted wisdom. He has argued for a forthright approach toward Iran and Islamic extremism. Republicans increasingly measure their leaders by this yardstick: will they appease Islamic extremists or defend America from them? Rudy already scores well in this area; Podhoretz will buttress his credibility.

Senator Bob Kasten was known as an outspoken conservative as Senator (1981-1993). His name is widely known and he is widely respected. He is a headliner.

Stephen Rosen is an expert on the military, serving as a professor of national Security and Military Affairs at Harvard University. He has a lengthy list of publications focusing on military affairs (ballistic missile defense, the American theory of limited war, and on the strategic implications of the AIDS epidemic.)

S. Enders Wimbush is also a Senior Fellow at a conservative think-tank: the Hudson Institute. He will be in charge of public diplomacy-an area the critics feel the Bush Administration has not been adequately addressing. Karen Hughes, Bush's czarina for public policy, has been heavily criticized for her faltering performance in the area of public diplomacy. Wimbush appears to have wide experience in this area: he spent 12 years as an expatriate in Europe and has traveled around the world for corporate and government clients. He also served as a director of Radio Liberty in Europe.

Martin Kramer is an Olin Institute Senior Fellow at Harvard. The Olin Institute has been one of the leading foundations promoting conservativism in America. He has vast experience in the Middle East and is an authority in Islam and Arab Politics. He is also the Wexler-Fromer Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a senior fellow at the Shalem Center. He is a strong supporter of the American-Israel relationship, which will help Rudy solidify support among supporters of Israel (many of whom are evangelical Christians who are influential in the GOP). He has also been a leader in exposing the increasing politicization in the Middle East Studies Departments on American campuses - a politicization that has led professors to teach from an anti-American and anti-Israel viewpoint.

Kim Holmes serves at The Heritage Foundation, a legendary conservative think-tank. Holmes has focuses on homeland security and has done research in areas such as improving border security and government response to disasters. Given the importance of border security, in particular, to conservatives this appointment may play very well under the GOP tent.

Peter Berkowitz is, like Hill, affiliated with the Hoover Institution and also teaches at George Mason University School of Law-both institutions highly regarded in Republican circles. Professors at George Mason School of Law have been pioneers in promoting the view that economics and the law often overlap and the government should consider economic impacts when developing and enforcing the laws. The school has become a nursery for hatching some of the most innovative (and conservative) legal theories in America. Berkowitz has written widely on the subject of conservatism in America; he has also taken up the subject of intelligence and legal issues dealing with terrorism.

Rod Dreher Jumps Ship

The Republicans seem to be running like Remy's family in Ratatouille. Last night, I saw Dallas Morning News columnist Rod Dreher (whom I met when he worked for the Washington Times a decade ago) publicly denounce George Bush and the Iraq War on the PBS Newshour. The author of Crunchy Cons confessed that he was wrong to have supported the war and called for a US withdrawal. He seemed to be asking for absolution from Gwen Ifill. His "Hail Mary" pass seemed to work. Ifill appeared so pleased that she gave him the last word. Look for Dreher to appear more often in the mainstream media, now that he's been saved. IMHO, Reuben Navarette of the San Diego Tribune came across as more measured and reasonable. He said the US faced no good options and that a withdrawal could make matters worse--of course, I doubt Navarette was ever a Bush Republican...

No transcript yet, but you can download the mp3 here:

Where's the Outrage?

China executes the hapless corrupt official in charge of food and drug safety--but not a word to be found on the Human Rights Watch website. Didn't hear any condemnation from President Bush, either. Interestingly, The New York Times placed the story in its business section. Message: We don't care.

Here's the coverage from China Daily:
BEIJING _ China executed the former head of its food and drug watchdog for approving untested medicine for cash, a show of Beijing's seriousness about product safety, while officials announced moves Tuesday to safeguard food at next summer's Olympic Games.

During Zheng Xiaoyu's tenure as head of the State Food and Drug Administration from 1997 to 2006, the agency approved six medicines that turned out to be fake, and some drug-makers used falsified documents to apply for approvals, according to state media reports Tuesday. One antibiotic caused the deaths of at least 10 people.

"The few corrupt officials of the SFDA are the shame of the whole system and their scandals have revealed some very serious problems," agency spokeswoman Yan Jiangying said at a news conference highlighting efforts to improve China's track record on food and drug safety.

Next year's Beijing Olympics, a great source of pride for China, has also been targeted in the crackdown on unsafe food. Sun Wenxu, an official with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, told reporters that athletes, coaches, officials and others can be assured of safe meals.

"All the procedures involving Olympic food, including production, processing, packaging, storing and transporting will be closely monitored," Sun said.

Organizers are also taking measures to ensure the athletes' food is free of substances that could trigger a positive result in tests for banned performance enhancing drugs. Many of China's recent food woes have been tied to the purity of ingredients, flavorings, artificial colors, and other additives.

Yan acknowledged that her agency's supervision of food and drug safety remains unsatisfactory and that it has been slow to tackle the problem.

"China is a developing country and our supervision of food and drugs started quite late and our foundation for this work is weak, so we are not optimistic about the current food and drug safety situation," she said.

Fears abroad over Chinese-made products were sparked last year by the deaths of dozens of people in Panama who took medicine contaminated with diethylene glycol imported from China. It was passed off as harmless glycerin.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Herbert E. Meyer: US Losing Iraq Because Bush "Splitting the Difference"

From The American Thinker
The 9-11 attacks did more than start a war; they started a war about the war. No sooner had the World Trade towers collapsed and the Pentagon burst into flames than two perceptions of the threat began competing for the public's support:

Perception One: We're at War

For the third time in history Islam - or, more precisely, its most radical element - has launched a war whose objective is the destruction of Western civilization. Our survival is at stake, and despite its imperfections we believe that Western civilization is worth defending to the death. Moreover, in the modern world - where a small number of people can so easily kill a large number of people - we cannot just play defense; sooner or later that strategy would bring another 9-11. This conflict really is a clash of civilizations whose root cause is Islam's incompatibility with the modern world. So we must fight with everything we've got against the terrorist groups and against those governments on whose support they rely. If the Cold War was "World War III," this is World War IV. We must win it, at whatever cost.

Perception Two: We're Reaping What We've Sowed

There are quite a few people in the world who just don't like the United States and some of our allies because of how we live and, more precisely, because of the policies we pursue in the Mideast and elsewhere in the world. Alas, a small percentage of these people express their opposition through acts of violence. While we sometimes share their opinion of our values and our policies, we cannot condone their methods. Our objective must be to bring the level of political violence down to an acceptable level. The only way to accomplish this will be to simultaneously adjust our values and our policies while protecting ourselves from these intermittent acts of violence; in doing so we must be careful never to allow the need for security to override our civil liberties.

There is no middle ground between these two perceptions. Of course, you can change a word here and there, or modify a phrase, but the result will be the same. Either we're at war, or we've entered a period of history in which the level of violence has risen to an unacceptable level. If we're at war, we're in a military conflict that will end with either our victory or our defeat. If we're in an era of unacceptable violence stemming from our values and our policies, we are faced with a difficult but manageable political problem.

Splitting the Difference

Since the 9-11 attacks, President Bush has been trying to split the difference. It's obvious that he, personally, subscribes to Perception One. Just read his formal speeches about the conflict, such as those he's given to Congress and at venues such as West Point. They are superb and often brilliant analyses of what he calls the War on Terror. Yet he hasn't done things that a president who truly believes that we're at war should have done. For instance, in the aftermath of 9-11 he didn't ask Congress for a declaration of war, didn't bring back the draft, and didn't put the US economy on a wartime footing. A president at war would have taken out Iran's government after overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan -- and then sent 500,000 troops into Iraq, rather than just enough troops to remove Saddam Hussein but not enough to stabilize that country. And a president at war would have long since disposed of Syria's murderous regime and helped the Israelis wipe out Hezbollah.

Study history, and you quickly learn that oftentimes events and the responses they generate look different a hundred years after they happen than they look at the time. It may be that history will judge that President Bush performed heroically, doing the very best that anyone could do given the two incompatible perceptions about the conflict that have divided public opinion and raised the level of partisanship in Washington to such a poisonous level. Or, it may be that history will judge the President to have been a failure because he responded to 9-11 as a politician rather than as a leader.

Either way, it is the ongoing war about the war that accounts for where we are today, nearly six years after the 9-11 attacks: We haven't lost, but we aren't winning; fewer of us have been killed by terrorists than we had feared would be killed, but we aren't safe.

While experts disagree about how "the war" is going, there isn't much disagreement over how the war about the war is going: those who subscribe to Perception Two are pulling ahead.

Here in the US, virtually every poll shows that a majority of Americans want us "out of Iraq" sooner rather than later, and regardless of what's actually happening on the ground in that country. Support for taking on Iran - that is, for separating the Mullahs from the nukes through either a military strike or by helping Iranians to overthrow them from within - is too low even to measure. There isn't one candidate for president in either party who's campaigning on a theme of "let's fight harder and win this thing whatever it takes." Indeed, the most hawkish position is merely to stay the course a while longer to give the current "surge" in Iraq a fair chance. Moreover, just chat with friends and neighbors - at barbeques, at the barbershop, over a cup of coffee - and you'll be hard-pressed to find a solid minority, let alone a majority, in favor of fighting-to-win.

However it's phrased, just about everyone is looking for a way out short of victory.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Saw the new Disney picture yesterday and was reminded that a friend of mine from film school in the 90s had predicted that "synthespians" (computer generated characters) would someday replace actors in Hollywood movies. She later went to work for Disney, herself. Now I see what she was talking about. I laughed. I cried. I give it five stars:*****.

Youssef Ibrahim on "Weaponized" Islam

From the New York Sun (ht JihadWatch):
The bare facts are there for all to see: Over the past 40 years or so, Islam's millions of fanatical preachers and political operatives have represented the religion as one of an "oppressed" people, victimized for centuries by the multiple ogres of Christianity, Judaism, and secularism. Listen to many preachers, read several interpretations of the Muslim holy book, or go to a variety of madrassas from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia, and you will quickly learn that Islam's central value, bar none, is jihad.

Far from a religion of peace, these clerics have "weaponized" Islam's text and the Koran into a war manifesto against even fellow Muslims — as between Shiites and Sunnis.

Raising the bar further, most Muslim scholarship of today maintains the refrain that Islam is not meant to be another religion, but the most definitive of God's revelations to man. As Muslim children are told daily, the Prophet Muhammad is not only the last of God's prophets, but the most authoritative.

Thus, it follows that Muslims merit greater privilege. A Muslim, for example, may take any number of non-Muslim wives, but the reverse is illegal. Abandoning Islam is punishable by jail or death. No other religion is acceptable.

The next step in such a logical progression is clearly the necessity to force others to submit. Islam has become imbued with a kind of droit du seigneur — the extrajudicial, absolute rights of a lord of the manor — which cannot be argued with.

Saudis, for example — and this includes their most moderate and modernized leaders — feel it is perfectly natural to fund the building of hundreds of mosques in Europe, from London to Cologne, but cannot find a shred of logic in allowing the construction of a single church or Buddhist temple in Saudi Arabia, even though millions of Christian and Asian expatriates work there.

The scholarly journeys down such roads have served to legitimize the excessive aggression in hundreds of the religious edicts issued weekly by both legitimate and rogue Muslim scholars — including the charlatans of Al Qaeda, who decree that killing infidels is a Muslim duty.

A Saudi expert on Islamic movements, Mshari Al Zaydi, who is the opinion page editor of the Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat, went to the heart of the matter in a remarkable essay a few days ago, in which he pointedly noted that Saudi religious leaders have never issued an outright renunciation of the religious thinking of Osama bin Laden.

The most the Saudi religious establishment has done, Mr. Zaydi wrote, is to "mildly state that Mr. bin Laden was simply an ‘erroneous mujtahid,'" — a term referring to those qualified to issue juridical opinions and edicts such as fatwas — "as though this man was not responsible for setting the Muslim world ablaze, taking it back centuries and much farther than its original backwardness." In Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco, the Muslim Brotherhood contests for power based on a single slogan: "Islam is the solution." Could it be that their version of Islam is also the problem?

Julia Gorin on Kosovo

Julia Gorin has given permission to reprint the text of her recent article on Kosovo from the American Legion magazine:
The 'Successful War' we lost in Kosovo
America has itself to blame for giving terrorism a toehold in Europe

Until an Albanian plot to massacre American soldiers at Fort Dix was foiled in May, most eyes would glaze over at the mention of the obscure, forgotten war zone of Kosovo, currently a UN protectorate whose 90%-plus Albanian-Muslim majority is about to be handed independence from Serbia by the international community. Few Americans understand that, between Kosovo gaining independence and not, America’s soul hangs in the balance.

Nor is it widely known that the explosives used in the Madrid and London bombings, as well as those used in the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Greece, came from Kosovo, a state-in-progress led by the violent, jihadist, narco-terrorist mafiosos of the Kosovo Liberation Army. The KLA was supposed to have disbanded and disarmed after the 1999 conflict. Instead, it has continued arming itself in the event that the province isn’t granted independence this year. It is a bin Laden-trained army of local clansmen, Marxists, university students and jihadists with whom the United States allied itself in 1999 against Serbia, an ally both in World War I and World War II.

“Balkan “blowback” is a term often used today to frame a problem that has not gone away but has grown more threatening and complex, with an independent Kosovo looming darkly on the horizon of the global war on terrorism. The blowback includes the Fort Dix plot, Madrid and the 2005 London Tube attack that was coordinated in Bosnia. It also includes the fact that Kosovo, like Bosnia, has become a one-stop terror shop, a haven and thoroughfare for wanted terror suspects, a source of “white al Qaeda” volunteers, and a world capital in drug and slave traffic. This would be reason enough to deny the majority-Muslim Albanians independence, which they’ve threatened to seize by force in any case.

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that a Serb a day is killed in Kosovo. Amid two million Albanians, the 100,000 Kosovo Serbs who haven’t yet fled, or have fled and returned, live in barbed-wire-enclosed, KFOR-guarded perimeters of a few kilometers—beyond which they dare not venture. When shot at by Albanians, NATO troops are directed to flee rather than return fire, which would draw attention to the province as unstable, exposing that there is the threat of violence should Albanians not get what they want. It all leads to the question, “Why are the people we went to war for shooting at us?”

NATO troops in Kosovo, to which a contingent of 1,500 National Guardsmen was added in November, know to avoid doing any real policing that could result in a firefight. This is how Serbian nuns continue to be killed and how Serbian property continues to be seized by Albanian squatters, how churches and monasteries continue to be destroyed, as Saudi-financed mosques take their place. In Kosovo, we didn’t fight to end racism and ethnic cleansing, as we were told. We enabled it.

Advocates for rewarding the violence with statehood tout the Kosovo Albanians as being “the most pro-American lot” there is. It’s a dubious endorsement for America if ever there were one.

When good will is acquired by doing someone’s bidding, pro-Americanism is won for the wrong reasons, and the gratitude will turn on a dime the moment we stop furthering that party’s agenda. In Kosovo, that began happening as early as 2000, when the Albanians started calling for the UN and NATO “occupiers” to get out.

When the architects of our Kosovo war brag that not a single American life was lost in what they describe as a “successful” war, the appropriate response is “Not yet.” The Albanian strategy in Kosovo has in fact been a replay of the Oslo Accords: accept the infidel’s help as long as it furthers your territorial ambitions, once the West is no longer willing to carry you to the next stage, turn on it. Our continued courtship of the “Kosovars” has been a mere postponement of inevitable enmity.

Albanians argue that their fight for Kosovo is not an Islamic movement but a national one. Palestinians make the same claim. But the big picture is the same: jihad. The day that Kosovo becomes “Kosova” – an invented pronunciation used by the Muslims, nationalists and vested politicians – is the day we’ve lost a key battle in the war on terror.

Meanwhile, reports have come one after the other raising questions about what really happened in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s. Spanish forensic pathologist Emilio Perez Pujol went there in 1999 to report on the claims of genocide. He told London’s Sunday Times, Spain’s El Pais newspaper and other media afterward, “We did not find one – not one –mass grave…There never was a genocide in Kosovo.”

In a 2000 Washington Post article titled “Was It a Mistake? We Were Suckers for the KLA,” Christopher Layne and Benjamin Schwarz wrote:

The KLA's guerrilla campaign was a deliberate attempt to provoke Belgrade into reprisals that would attract the West's attention. Knowing it could not defeat Yugoslavia without NATO's military support, the KLA waged a nasty insurgency that included assassinations of Serbian political and military officials…Although U.S. intelligence warned the Clinton administration of the KLA's intentions, Clinton and his advisers took the bait: Washington placed the blame for events in Kosovo on Belgrade and absolved the KLA.

To date, according to U.N. reports, forensic specialists working under U.N. auspices have exhumed 2,108 bodies. It is far from certain that all of these victims perished as a result of Yugoslav atrocities; some may have been combatants, others may have been civilians caught in the cross-fire between the Yugoslav army and the KLA. Still others may have been civilians killed by NATO bombs.

[D]espite the presence of U.S. and NATO peacekeepers, once Yugoslav forces left Kosovo the KLA began a new campaign of terror, this time targeting the province's Serbian and Gypsy populations. This campaign of ethnic cleansing continues unabated…Meanwhile, across the border from Kosovo in Serbia proper, the KLA – as part of its effort to carve out a greater Albania – is waging guerrilla war in the Presevo Valley region…

The Balkans remain a taboo subject for discussion in the context of the war on terror – even after 9/11, and even as the nightmarish security fallout from our interventions there unfolds on an almost daily basis, with grave implications for the West.

In December, 1999, the late Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl wrote that the “allegations – indiscriminate mass murder, rape camps, crematoriums, mutilation of the dead – haven’t been borne out in the six months since NATO troops entered Kosovo. Ethnic-Albanian militants, humanitarian organizations, NATO and the news media fed off each other to give genocide rumors credibility. Now, a different picture is emerging.”

In the 1990s, the Albanian, Bosnian-Muslim and Croatian hordes found that by hiring public-relations firms, they could market their ethnic rivalries and blood feuds to the United States, which would join their civil wars against the Serbs. When we bought into the PR, we repeated an ugly history, one in which we betrayed a man whose Serbian anti-Axis guerrillas during WWII rescued 500 downed U.S. airmen – a man whom a May 1942 issue of TIME Magazine featured on its cover and called “one of the most amazing commanders of World War II.” It was Draza Mihailovic, whose resistance to the Nazi forces played a significant part in the defeat of Hitler. The United States, however, bought into communist propaganda that convinced the Allies that Mihailovic was fighting the communist partisans as a Nazi collaborator. Abandoned by the United States and England, Mihailovich was executed in 1946 by the Stalin-aligned Yugoslavia. He was posthumously awarded a long-concealed Legion of Merit, as recommended by Dwight Eisenhower.

Western leaders acted on misinformation and rumor that would help plunge Yugoslavia into half a century of communist darkness that outlived the Soviet Union itself, leaving it vulnerable as a Cold War holdover. That’s precisely what happened in the 1990s, when the United States bought into separatist/Islamist propaganda and facilitated Europe’s jihadist nightmare. The Balkans would become al-Qaeda’s corridor into Europe.

In Kosovo and Bosnia, we have compounded our to-do list in the war on terrorism, according to the 9/11 Commission, by laying the groundwork for al-Qaeda’s global ambitions. A 2005 Guardian article titled “It’s Not Only About Iraq” echoed this finding: “Tellingly, those who monitor Islamism in Britain say the big surge in growth of extremist groups came not after 9/11 or Iraq but in the mid-1990s, with Bosnia serving as the recruiting sergeant.”

At least two of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were veterans of the Bosnian jihad, as Muslims openly call it. Similarly, when an al-Qaeda recruiting center was raided in Afghanistan soon after the invasion there, it yielded an application from a Kosovo Albanian who boasted experience fighting against Serb and U.S. forces, and recommended suicide operations “against parks like Disney.”

Policies and rhetoric out of Washington contradict reality on the ground in Kosovo. U.S. soldiers serving there say it’s not Albanians they have to protect from the Serbs, but vice versa. A KLA haven that extends to the United States has been created, as the Fort Dix plot made visible. “Even worse,” says American Council for Kosovo director Jim Jatras, “KLA supporters in the United States have operated with virtual impunity, collecting money and weapons to support KLA operations not only in Kosovo, but in the neighboring areas of southern Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and northern Greece.”

Bosnia and Kosovo have been part of Islam’s current divide-and-conquer approach. Israeli Col. Shaul Shay, author of Islamic Terror and the Balkans, explains the significance of Kosovo, Albania and Bosnia: “In the eyes of the radical Islamic circles, the establishment of an independent Islamic territory including Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania along the Adriatic Coast, is one of the most prominent achievements of Islam since the siege of Vienna in 1683.”

And yet the U.S. seems committed to reward violence and impunity, believing that this will somehow lead lead to a normal, democratic state. In reality, statehood will merely institutionalize the gangsterism. Meanwhile, all the cynicism is reserved for Serbia, which has been denied by the international community any say in its fate or about the terrorist neighbor being foisted upon it.

When Serbia objects, it is accused of nationalism and told to start being reasonable. The side that’s willing to compromise – for example offering “more than autonomy and less than independence” – is the intransigent one, while the side that won’t discuss anything short of full independence while alternately threatening war is our partner for peace. U.N. mediator Martti Ahtisaari has been repeating that independence is “the only viable option” and warning that anything else would invite “violent opposition.”

In late March, Reuters reported that the United States, NATO and the EU hope “the U.N. Security Council will adopt a resolution endorsing Ahtisaari's document by the summer. Delaying the move, they fear, might spark Albanian extremist violence against Serbs and the U.N. mission in Kosovo.”

During a February mission to Brussels, after getting the usual empty assurances of protections for Kosovo’s non-Albanian minority, Jatras pointedly asked a Hungarian member of the European parliament, “Isn’t all this talk of protections for Serbs a tacit admission that among the Kosovo Albanians are a lot of violent and intolerant people? Why would you reward their violence with state power?”

Looking Jatras in the eye, the parliamentarian replied, “Because we’re afraid of them.”

We didn't just sell the Serbs down the river; we sold ourselves. Hard-won American values – like religious freedom, rule of law, civil rights, equal justice – have been sold out. Serbia is the closest thing the former Yugoslavia had to a Western society, but we have allied ourselves with the region's most primitive elements at the same time fortifying our enemies in the global war on terrorism.

Disingenuous politicians continue to bring up the “successful war” in Kosovo in contrast to Iraq. It’s easy to have a “successful war” when you’re fighting for the enemy.

Julia Gorin is a widely published writer who covers a variety of issues, including the Balkans. She is an unpaid advisory member of the American Council for Kosovo. Read more of her work online. or .

Vote Early, Vote Often...

The mother of someone I know has a friend whose daughter has a video competing in an online contest. I couldn't figure out how to vote for her, myself--but thought some readers of this blog might be more tech-savvy than I am. So, with that in mind--and no obligation--here's the information on how to watch the video and vote, from the mother of one contestant:
Here are some easier instructions for voting. But if you have an old computer, it may not work. We went to the library to vote and some worked and some of the older ones didn't. It you feel like giving it another try, you can try this.

Go to
on the bottom left side of the main page, there is a button that says download. Click on that and follow the prompts as it does its own thing to download.

Once you hit finized, you have to close the web site and go to your start menu. Start...programs....and look for azureus vuze, Click on that program to open.

On the main page choose the button called 'featured' on the bar on the left side of the page. You will then get another page with a couple of rows of little buttons. Click on the one that says ITVF. Another page will open and you click on the little button that says "Vote on pilots" Another page will open and you will see your choices. Dayna's is the one called "In the meantime" If you put your mouse pointer over the picture, you will get a little menu that says "view details" Click on that and another page will come up. On the right side of this page you will see a little box that has ratings and under that two thumbs. One up and one down. Click on the one up and you will have voted.

Didn't I say that was easy. If you wanted to actually see her sitcom, you would have to download it from that page. But again you may not be able to do that if you have an older computer.

After you are all done playing around on the site, you can go to your control panel and delete the downloaded program if you like.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

MEMRI:$5 Million Ransom Paid for BBC Reporter Alan Johnston

Plus a million bullets, according to this report from Al-Hayat Al-Jadida in the Palestinian Authority (ht LGF):
Sources close to Jaysh Al-Islam have revealed that the organization received $5 million and a million Kalashnikov rifle bullets in a deal for the release of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston.

According to Palestinian sources, Jaysh Al-Islam commander Mumtaz Daghmoush received a guarantee from Hamas that he would not stand trial for crimes he was suspected of carrying out, and that Hamas would release Jaysh Al-Islam's spokesman, whom it was holding.

Further, Hamas and Jaysh Al-Islam agreed not to reveal which operations they had carried out jointly.

Dismissed Palestinian prime minister Isma'il Haniya denied that there had been a deal or preconditions in the matter of Johnston's release.
As I've said in an earlier post, Disraeli's Tancred explains this age-old tradition of hostage-taking and ransom of captives in the Middle East.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Paris Hilton--Beer-Budget Living on a Champagne Budget

Someone I know has explained the continuing interest in Paris Hilton's adventures to me. It's beer-budget living on a champagne budget. Sex tape with a boyfriend, check. Drunk driving, check. Driving without a license, check. She breaks the rules, gets caught, and is repeatedly humiliated. Basically, she makes dumb mistakes that any beer-drinking 17-year-old high-school student might make. In other words, despite her millions and family pedigree, she suffers like someone from a trailer park--a living example of the basic American egalitarian proposition: "All men are created equal."Here's a link to her official website on MySpace.

Biased BBC

Melanie Phillips: Britain Must Ban Hizb ut-Tahrir

Whether or not the two events were connected, having raised eyebrows by appointing the deeply inappropriate Sayeeda Warsi as the Tories’ shadow minister for community cohesion (see my post here), David Cameron then went some way towards redeeming himself by challenging Gordon Brown three times at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday over the government’s refusal to outlaw Hizb ut Tahrir. The papers this morning were full of the fact that Cameron spectacularly wrong-footed Brown who was unable to cope with this question. But it was the substance of what Cameron said which was notable:

The Prime Minister said that we need evidence about Hizb ut-Tahrir. That organisation says that Jews should be killed wherever they are found. What more evidence do we need before we ban that organisation? It is poisoning the minds of young people. Two years ago, the Government said that it should be banned. I ask again: when will this be done?… But there has been a lapse of two years since the Government said that they would ban the organisation. People will find it hard to understand why an organisation that urges people to kill Jews has not been banned.

In the current desperate climate of denial, censorship and appeasement in Britain, this was a bold move indeed. Few are prepared to stand up in public and demand that Hizb ut Tahrir be banned, because few are prepared to acknowledge the lethal contribution it is making towards the recruitment to sedition and violence of so many of our young Muslims, who are intensely vulnerable to its seductive combination of intellectuality and austere religious purpose.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Paris' Museum of Smoking

From Arnie Cooper's article in today's Wall Street Journal:
The current exhibition, "Caricatures de Fumeurs," which runs through the end of the year, features pen-and-ink drawings from the 17th century to the present. The often humorous artwork shows individuals from all walks of life--students, casino devotees, artists and even children--inhaling and exhaling as they go about their day.
Focusing on all these images of Europeans' puffed-out cheeks, it's easy to forget that smoking is an American invention. As Michka, a co-founder of the museum, likes to say, it was the Native Americans who actually first smoked tobacco--an endeavor that didn't really become a hit in Europe until more than a century after Columbus brought the stuff to these shores. The idea of ingesting smoke was originally a hard sell.

"Hell," says Michka, "was very much on people's minds. So when they saw someone taking something burning at the end to their mouth and blowing smoke, it really seemed to be for them a picture of hell." Eventually, the odd practice caught on, and within a couple of centuries a huge smoke ring enveloped the world along with a burgeoning smoking "culture."

Throughout the museum you'll find various tools of the trade: a scale, bronze and heather pipes, hookahs from the Middle East and the Orient, "le bong" from Southeast Asia, as well as a sculpture of a hollowed-out head for storing loose tobacco.

The "art" of smoking, though, is best demonstrated by a collection of Frédéric Dagain's tobacco-leaf paintings. But perhaps more compelling than the unique canvases are the words that accompany each of the artist's "Divinités Mayas" (Mayan Gods). Surrounding the multihued image of Mictlantecihtl, for example, are the words "Mictlantecihtl, you smoke and you smile. You are the god of death. Take good care of our bodies." More on this later.

Meanwhile, across the corridor you'll see the real deal--huge caramel-colored leaves drying in a makeshift sechoir, or "dryer." "I love the smell," Michka says with a chuckle as we walk by. But tabac is not the only smell Michka appreciates. A few feet away, you'll see a mint sheet of Canadian stamps with a portrait of a young Michka superimposed over a marijuana leaf. (Remember, this is the museum of smoking--not just tobacco.) Surprisingly, Michka, who prefers the single appellation (it's more "convenient," she says), is not a cigarette smoker. After smoking a few menthols as a teenager, she never lit one again.

"Many times I've had this feeling that the fact that I am not a cigarette smoker has given me a kind of virginity in relation to tobacco, and so it's easier for me to have a bit of objectivity."

Christopher Hitchens on Marx & Disraeli

From a review of Karl Marx's early journalism, published in The Guardian:
Isaiah Berlin, contrasting the two Jewish geniuses of 19th-century England, preferred Benjamin Disraeli to Karl Marx because the former was a hero of assimilation and accommodation and the latter was a prickly and irreconcilable subversive. Well, you may take your pick between the Tory dandy who flattered the Queen into becoming the Queen-Empress and the heretical exile who believed that India would one day burst its boundaries and outstrip its masters. But when journalists today are feeling good about themselves, and sitting through the banquets at which they give each other prizes and awards, they sometimes like to flatter one another by describing their hasty dispatches as "the first draft of history". Next time you hear that tone of self-regard, you might like to pick up Dispatches for the New York Tribune and read the only reporter of whom it was ever actually true.

Christopher Hitchens on the London & Glasgow Bombings

From Slate:
Only at the tail end of the coverage was it admitted that a car bomb might have been parked outside a club in Piccadilly because it was "ladies night" and that this explosion might have been designed to lure people into to the street, the better to be burned and shredded by the succeeding explosion from the second car-borne cargo of gasoline and nails. Since we have known since 2004 that a near-identical attack on a club called the Ministry of Sound was proposed in just these terms, on the grounds that dead "slags" or "sluts" would be regretted by nobody, a certain amount of trouble might have been saved by assuming the obvious. The murderers did not just want body parts in general but female body parts in particular.

I suppose that some people might want to shy away from this conclusion for whatever reason, but they cannot have been among the viewers of British Channel 4's recent Undercover Mosque, or among those who watched Sunday's report from Christiane Amanpour on CNN's Special Investigations Unit. On these shows, the British Muslim fanatics came right out with their program. Straight into the camera, leading figures like Anjem Choudary spoke of their love for Osama Bin Laden and their explicit rejection of any definition of Islam as a religion of peace. On tape or in person, mullahs in prominent British mosques called for the killing of Indians and Jews.

Liberal reluctance to confront this sheer horror is the result, I think, of a deep reticence about some furtive concept of "race." It is subconsciously assumed that a critique of political Islam is an attack on people with brown skins. One notes in passing that any such concession implicitly denies or negates Islam's claim to be a universal religion. Indeed, some of its own exponents certainly do speak as if they think of it as a tribal property. And, at any rate, in practice, so it is. The fascistic subculture that has taken root in Britain and that lives by violence and hatred is composed of two main elements. One is a refugee phenomenon, made up of shady exiles from the Middle East and Asia who are exploiting London's traditional hospitality, and one is the projection of an immigrant group that has its origins in a particularly backward and reactionary part of Pakistan.

To the shame-faced white-liberal refusal to confront these facts, one might counterpose a few observations. The first is that we were warned for years of the danger, by Britons also of Asian descent such as Hanif Kureishi, Monica Ali, and Salman Rushdie. They knew what the village mullahs looked like and sounded like, and they said as much. Not long ago, I was introduced to Nadeem Aslam, whose book Maps for Lost Lovers is highly recommended.

He understands the awful price of arranged marriages, dowry, veiling, and the other means by which the feudal arrangements of rural Pakistan have been transplanted to parts of London and Yorkshire. "In some families in my street," he writes to me, "the grandparents, parents, and the children are all first cousins—it's been going on for generations and so the effects of the inbreeding are quite pronounced by now." By his estimate and others, a minority of no more than 11 percent is responsible for more than 70 percent of the birth defects in Yorkshire. When a leading socialist member of Parliament, Ann Cryer, drew attention to this appalling state of affairs in her own constituency, she was promptly accused of—well, you can guess what she was accused of. The dumb word Islamophobia, uncritically employed by Christiane Amanpour in her otherwise powerful documentary, was the least of it. Meanwhile, an extreme self-destructive clannishness, which is itself "phobic" in respect to all outsiders, becomes the constituency for the preachings of a cult of death. I mention this because, if there is an "ethnic" dimension to the Islamist question, then in this case at least it is the responsibility of the Islamists themselves.

The most noticeable thing about all theocracies is their sexual repression and their directly related determination to exert absolute control over women. In Britain, in the 21st century, there are now honor killings, forced marriages, clerically mandated wife-beatings, incest in all but name, and the adoption of apparel for females that one cannot be sure is chosen by them but which is claimed as an issue of (of all things) free expression. This would be bad enough on its own and if it were confined to the Muslim "community" alone. But, of course, such a toxin cannot be confined, and the votaries of theocracy now claim the God-given right to slaughter females at random for nothing more than their perceived immodesty. The least we can do, confronted by such radical evil, is to look it in the eye (something it strives to avoid) and call it by its right name. For a start, it is the female victims of this tyranny who are "disenfranchised," while something rather worse than "disenfranchisement" awaits those who dare to disagree.

Russian President Wins 2014 Winter Olympics for Sochi

Report from
MOSCOW, July 5 (RIA Novosti) - Over 30,000 people who waited all night on the main square of Russia's resort city of Sochi, as well as millions across the country were rewarded early Thursday, as Russia was chosen to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Russia's Sochi was named to host the Olympics after a tight second-round vote with South Korea's Pyeongchang during the 119th session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Guatemala.

Sochi, which had made two previous bids to hold the Winter Olympics in 1998 and 2002, received a slight four-vote majority over South Korea, while Austria's Salzburg, who was earlier tipped to win, was eliminated in the first round.

The Winter Olympics will be held in Russia for the first time in its history, although Moscow hosted the Summer Olympics in 1980, but the event was marred when over 60 countries boycotted the event in the capital of Russia.
I guess the Kennebunkport visit had something to do with this...

Has David Miliband Read Disraeli's Tancred: or The New Crusade?

If not, the new British Foreign Secretary may wish to download it from Google Books or Project Gutenberg. For Disraeli's story is complete with mysterious kidnappings, ransoms, and releases in the Middle East that echo today's headlines. The plots, counter-plots, and sub-plots have lead scholars such as Richard A. Levine to call it "the most complex of Disraeli's novels." Today, it is perhaps the most relevant. Bartleby's excerpt from the Cambridge History of English and American Literature summarizes the main points:
In Disraeli’s two great political novels, and, in a measure, in their companion romance, Tancred, or The New Crusade (1847), he fully developed the revised tory creed. Equally removed from the “stupid” and stagnant toryism of the Liverpool era, and from the colourless conservatism proposed by the party without principles which followed Peel after the passing of the Reform bill, the new generation represented by the young England party makes open war upon political radicalism and utilitarian philosophy, upon the cold-blooded whigs who have allied themselves with these tendencies, upon the middle classes, the merchants and the manufacturers who profit from their ascendancy, upon the cruelty of the new poor law (against which, in parliament, Disraeli had voted with a small minority) and upon the unimaginative and unaesthetic impoverishment of the life of the peasantry. Contempt is poured upon the existing system of government, which a “heroic” effort must be made to overthrow, instead of continuing to depend on “a crown robbed of its prerogative, a church extended to a Commission, and an aristocracy that does not lead”; and the heart must thus be taken out of chartism, the fondly trusted gospel of the second of the “two nations” into which the English people is divided. In Sybil, we seem to be nearing the thought that, in the emancipation of the people, the idealism of the church of Rome will lend powerful aid, and, in the same earlier part of Tancred, we are treated to an excursus on the English church and its defects, which might seem to tend in the same direction. But the defects of that church, we learn, lie not only in the mediocrity of its bishops, but, primarily, in its deficiency in oriental knowledge, and, thus, with a note that Tancred began to doubt “whether faith is sufficient without race,” we pass into another sphere of Disraeli’s political and historical philosophy, which concerns itself with the question of race. Here, we are scarcely any longer in the region of practical politics, but, rather, in that of semi-occult influences such as are best demonstrated by the esoteric knowledge and prophetical certainty of Sidonia, or illustrated by the traditional tale Alroy. The inner meaning of Tancred may be veiled, but its courage, as a declaration of faith in the destinies of the Jewish race, must be described as Magnificent...

Melanie Phillips on Hamas' PR Strategy

She says Hamas has used the kidnapping and release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston as part of its PR blitzkrieg against the West:
The Hamas strategy is shrewd and clever, because it has correctly assessed that the decadent west will only too eagerly embrace its lies. It knows that the BBC is only too willing to be its friend. Already, TV and radio shows are ringing round to find studio guests who will ‘argue against the view that we should now recognise Hamas’. Appeasement is now well and truly out of the closet. Those who believe that fascism should be fought and defeated are now on the back foot.

And this Hamas coup is in turn but one part of a broader strategy. Hamas is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. All over the world, the Brotherhood is behind the pincer movement of jihad through terrorism and jihad through cultural capture. And manipulation is the name of the game it plays. It creates terrorist or insurrectionary pressure; it then poses as the ‘honest broker’ peacemaker; it thus turns its victims into its supplicants and can then turn the ratchet still further. It played this game in France, when the French government implored the Brotherhood imams to restore order in the wake of the Muslim riots in the banlieues (riots that it said were ‘nothing to do with Islam’). It has played it over Alan Johnston. And it is playing it in Britain and the US, where its proxies have been pushing hard for ‘engagement’ with the Brotherhood as an antidote to al Qaeda — and where, with the British and American political elite now in such moral, intellectual and political disarray, it is now succeeding.

We are losing.
Interestingly, Phillips' analysis agrees with comments made by Fatah spokesman Yasser Abd Rabbo in in the West Bank:
A top aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas charged Wednesday that the release of Alan Johnston was staged, referring to it as 'a movie."

According to Yasser Abd Rabbo, Hamas and the Army of Islam were actually working together, and Hamas staged the rescue of Johnston so that it would "appear as if [Hamas] respects international law."

"We're watching a movie, where the thieves in Gaza fall out and one of them claims to be honest and brave, and the other is the bad guy. This Hamas game fools no one," Rabbo stated.

Robert Spencer: President Bush is Wrong About Islamist Extremism

In, Spencer recommends the President read Majid Khadduri before saying anything more about Islam:
Khadduri is, in Bush’s words, explaining a doctrine that uses “religion as a path to power and a means of domination.” Was Khadduri an “Islamophobe”? A “propangandist”? A practitioner of “selection bias”? A diabolical character misrepresenting the testimony of the texts? Did he ignore Islam’s peacefulness and moderation? Those who level such charges at those who discuss the jihad ideology of Islamic supremacism today should kindly explain how it is that a scholar like Khadduri (and there are others like him, which I will discuss at another time) could have come to the same conclusions as the “venomous Orientalists” of the 1950s and the “Islamophobic propagandists” of today.

Fair-minded observers, however, should take Khadduri’s scholarship as confirming the findings of those who say today that elements of Islam are giving rise to violence and terrorism today, and that that must be addressed by both Muslims and non-Muslims if there is ever going to be an end to it.

Not that Khadduri saw it coming, at least in 1955. In the same book, he wrote that the jihad ideology had largely fallen into desuetude:

The Muslim states, however, are quite aware that at the present it is not possible to revive the traditional religious approach to foreign affairs, nor is it in their interests to do so, as the circumstances permitting the association of religion in the relations among nations have radically changed....the jihad [has] become an obsolete weapon...Islam has at last accepted, after a long period of tension and friction with Christendom, its integration into a world order which, although originating in western Europe, now tends to encompass the entire world. (Pages 295-296)

Those assertions were much truer in 1955 than they are in 2007. Today we are dealing with a global movement that is doing all it can “to revive the traditional religious approach to foreign affairs,” and who vehemently reject the idea that “the jihad [has] become an obsolete weapon.” They are explicit opponents of the “world order” which originated in western Europe, and posit Sharia as an alternative to it. Note that Khadduri doesn’t say that Islamic sects and schools have rejected jihad and reformed the doctrines that mandated Islamic supremacism. Rather, he says that these doctrines were set aside in practice. And now they are being taken up again, fifty years after Khadduri was ready to pronounce them dead -- and now many Western analysts, ignorant of history, think that only we introduce Western ideas into the Islamic world, they will be widely adopted.

In fact, those ideas have long been present, and today’s global jihad represents a rejection of them, not a manifestation of ignorance of them. Hugh Fitzgerald has frequently pointed out at Jihad Watch that Saudi oil money, massive Muslim immigration into the West, and the revolution in communications technology have made this reassertion possible. I would also add that the Khomeini revolution in Iran has encouraged jihadists in numerous ways, not least by demonstrating that they can capture a state and hold power.

But Bush’s address is just the latest example of the fact that Western leaders are largely ignoring all this, and continuing to make policy based on fictions. Karen Hughes is reading John Esposito and Reza Aslan instead of Majid Khadduri and those who confirm his analysis. The negative consequences of this will only grow more obvious as time goes on.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth of July!

Here's a link to the Wikipedia entry for Independence Day.
Why the fourth?

Though the Fourth of July is iconic to Americans, some claim the date itself is somewhat arbitrary. New Englanders had been fighting Britain since April 1775. The first motion in the Continental Congress for independence was made on June 4, 1776. After hard debate, the Congress voted unanimously, but secretly, for independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July 2 (see Lee Resolution). The Congress reworked the text of the Declaration until a little after eleven o'clock, July 4, when the twelve colonies voted for adoption and released a copy signed only by John Hancock, President of the Congress, to the printers. (The New York delegation abstained from both votes.) Philadelphia celebrated the Declaration with public readings and bonfires on July 8. Not until August 2 would a fair printing be signed by the members of the Congress, but even that was kept secret to protect the members from British reprisals.

John Adams, credited by Thomas Jefferson as the unofficial, tireless whip of the independence-minded, wrote to his wife Abigail on July 3, 1776:

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.

Adams was off by two days, however. Certainly, the vote on July 2 was the decisive act. But July 4, 1776 is the date on the Declaration itself. Jefferson's stirring prose, as edited by the Congress, was first adopted by the July 4th vote. It was also the first day Philadelphians heard the official news of independence from the Continental Congress, as opposed to rumors in the street about secret votes.
From the National Archives transcription of the original document:
IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
You can read the whole thing at the Declaration of Independence website of the National Archives.

Tanveer Ahmed on the London & Glasgow Bombs

From The Australian (ht jihadwatch):
While the images of poverty and war in countries such as Sudan, Palestine or Iraq combined with the relative disadvantage of some Muslim communities in countries such as France or Britain may contribute to radicalisation, the foundation for their acts lies very much in the set of ideas called Islam. I have lost count of the number of occasions disgruntled Muslims have responded to my writings with comments like "Islam is peace" or "You are not a Muslim any more".

Truth be told, I was never a practising Muslim, despite growing up in a Bangladeshi community where religiosity was the norm.

This had more to do with being raised in a secular household and society than any great misgivings about Islam. In fact, I often watched friends who were able to practise a spiritual version of the religion with envy, wishing that I could subscribe to a greater purpose than myself.

But with hindsight, I can see that what we now call extremism was virtually the norm in the community I grew up in. It was completely normal to view Jews as evil and responsible for the ills of the world. It was normal to see the liberal society around us as morally corrupt, its stains to be avoided at all costs. It was normal to see white girls as cheap and easy and to see the ideal of femininity as its antithesis. These views have been pushed to more private, personal spheres amid the present scrutiny of Muslim communities.

But they remain widespread, as research in Britain showed earlier this year: up to 50 per cent of British Muslims aged between 15 and 29 want to see sharia law taken up in Britain. This needs to be seen in the light of American data collated by the Pew Research Centre that showed close to 80 per cent of American Muslims believed they could move up the social ladder in the US and had no interest in Islamic laws on a public level. Like most things Australian, it is likely we sit somewhere between our British and American cousins.

But the threat is very real. It was reported yesterday that up to 3000 young Muslims are at risk of becoming radicalised in Sydney alone, according to research by a member of the now-disbanded Muslim Community Reference Group, Mustapha Kara-Ali. But when these views morph into the violent political act that is terrorism, it is very much based in theology.

At its core, Islam is deeply sceptical of the idea of a secular state. There is no rendering unto Caesar because state and religion are believed to be inseparable. This idea then interacts with centuries-old edicts of Islamic jurists about how the land of Islam should interact with the world of unbelievers, known as dar ul-kufr. The modern radicals then take it further, declaring that since, with the exception perhaps of Pakistan and Iran, there are no Islamic states, the whole world is effectively the land of the unbelievers. As a result, some radicals believe waging war on the whole world is justified to re-create it as an Islamic state.

They go as far as reclassifying the globe as dar ul-harb, "land of war", apparently allowing Muslims to destroy the sanctity of the five rights that every human is granted under Islam: life, wealth, land, mind and belief. In dar ul-harb, anything goes, including the killing of civilians.

While it may appear absurd to most, this nihilistic but exclusivist world view is clearly attracting significant numbers of young Muslims. British police have suggested the latest attacks and foiled plots may have involved teenagers. But the obvious absurdity of the set of ideas is still grounded in Islam, which, regardless of how theological experts argue, can be interpreted in many ways.

Muslim communities must openly argue precisely what it is they fear and loathe about the West. Much of it centres on sexuality. This is the first step in rooting out any Muslim ambivalence about living in the West. But thereafter, the argument must proceed rapidly to Islamic theology and all its uncomfortable truths - from its repeated glowing references to violence, its obsession with and revulsion at sex and its historical antipathy to the very possibility that reason can exist as separate from God.

Libby Scandal Not Over?

That's the gist of editorial roundup compiled by the Washington Post. If, as David Brooks argued in yesterday's NY Times, "President Bush’s decision in the case of I. Lewis Libby Jr. was exactly right," President Bush had hoped to put an end to the Libby scandal by cleverly compromising between pardon and prison, commuting Libby's sentence to probation. If not, the President's action may instead have turned out to have been too clever by half. The Libby scandal is now a campaign issue for November, while Democrats promise to make the commutation decision, and Vice President Cheney's possible involvement, into a subject for congressional investigations. Will this prove to be a turning point marking the beginning of the end for the Bush administration, in the way that the 18-minute gap in Watergate tapes began the unravelling of the Nixon era?

It's hard to predict, but if I were the Democrats I'd have someone watching Scooter Libby like a hawk to see if he does anything that might violate probation--in the way the DC Mayor Marion Barry has been hounded over issues like late filing of income tax returns. If Libby is ever found to violate probation--the court may be able to send him to jail on a new charge, re-opening the scandal in the midst of a ever-heating Presidential election cycle. Whatever happens, it may not be pretty for Libby, the President, the Vice President, or the US Congress...

In which case, I look forward to reading David Brooks' column about Scooter Libby a year from now.

Will Putin Win Winter Olympics Bid for 2014?

Wonder if Bush I & II made a deal to offer Putin support in Russia's Olympics bid at the Kennebunkport "Lobster Summit"? In any case, the Russian delegation sounded very confident in Guatemala shortly afterwards, according to this account in The Guardian (UK):
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will decide the winning bid on Wednesday in the Guatemalan capital, with Austria's Salzburg and South Korea's Pyeongchang also in the running.

"Russia has contributed a lot to Olympism and the growth of winter sports," Putin told reporters after meeting Guatemalan President Oscar Berger on Tuesday. "We never had the opportunity to host a Winter Games.

"We have enough resources to fulfil the most ambitious project. We are sure we will manage our plans and realise them in the best possible way ... rooting the ideas of Olympism in our country."

Putin, who spends his summers in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, said its location and climate made it an ideal candidate.
"Sochi is a unique place. It has a mild climate, a great amount of real snow that is necessary for Winter Olympics," he said.
Bid leaders from Sochi have been banking on Putin's vocal support throughout the two-year campaign, as well as his presence during Wednesday's final presentation.

It was former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's presence two years ago that helped London win the 2012 Olympics.

"Tomorrow's speech by the President will in some way be a surprise not only for the IOC but also for us," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov told reporters without elaborating.

Asked whether Sochi would bid again if it lost, Zhukov said: "We are going to win. Tomorrow the IOC will have no doubt left that Russia will deliver all its promises".

Kidnapped BBC Reporter Alan Johnston Released in Gaza

Was there a deal? Perhaps we'll never know. In any case, here's a link to the BBC report:
Mr Johnston said he was not tortured during captivity but he did fall ill from the food he was served.

He added that he had been kept in four different locations, two of them only briefly.

He was able to see the sun in the first month but was then kept in a shuttered room until a week before his release, he said.

He was kept in chains for 24 hours but was not harmed physically until the last half hour of his captivity, when his captors hit him "a bit".

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Beverly Sills, 78

Anthony Tommasini fondly remembers "Bubbles" in today's New York Times.

Youssef Ibrahim on London & Glasgow Car Bombs

From the New York Sun:
Moments after the latest terror attack on Britain, television commentators engaged in the usual rhetorical hara-kiri, blaming everyone but its authors: the two Muslim jihadists jumping out of a burning car at Glasgow's international airport ululating "Allah! Allah!" — even as one of them was barbecued — and the European Union's vast Muslim fundamentalist infrastructure, which spawned them.

The initial discussions of the three car bombs — two in central London were defused, unexploded — were déjà vu writ large: Blaming the victims, criticizing British foreign policy offenses that might have "driven" British Muslims to kill their countrymen, highlighting the frustrations of minority communities forced to live in the West, and renewing calls for — yes, indeed — more interreligious dialogue.

It was not much better in America. With live images of the Glasgow International Airport fires blazing away, American networks hosted the so-called experts who, again, explained the "torment" of poor Muslims. Disgracefully, one guest — Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst who is a familiar face now whenever instant analysis is needed — droned on about the many reasons Muslims are "so" offended by this or that behavior in the West.

Mr. Scheuer's mindless diatribe, unquestionably motivated by the need to land consulting contracts in Muslim country, pushed a Fox News anchorwoman, Michelle Malkin, to interject something akin to "Let us not blame the victims now." But it was not enough to stop the rant.

But so the story goes: Whenever it comes to Muslims, commentators feel the need for obfuscation. It reaches absurd proportions in Britain, but America is certainly its sideshow.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Melanie Phillips on the London and Glasgow Car Bombs

From her July 2nd Daily Mail columnl:
The most fundamental failing of all, however, is the Government’s counter-terrorist strategy itself. Known as Project Contest, this refuses to acknowledge that the true driver of Islamist terror is religious fanaticism.

Instead, it attributes its causes to Muslim poverty, discrimination and grievances over foreign policy. In other words, it blames us.

The analysis is demonstrably absurd. Many of these terrorists are prosperous, middle class and well-educated. Indeed, two of the suspects who have been arrested are doctors. Muslims are being murdered in vast numbers in Iraq not by us, but by other Muslims.

And as Mr Brown said yesterday, the first attempt to blow up the Twin Towers occurred as long ago as 1993; Islamist terrorism is taking place all over the world and in countries where there is no connection with Iraq or the Middle East at all.

The fact is that the Islamists have always used any and every grievance - Bosnia, Kashmir, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Palestine, Salman Rushdie (twice) - to recruit to their cause.

But the real source of this terror, as former extremists have told us, is the aim to conquer the West and Islamise the world.

Without doubt, they are currently using the Iraq war to whip up further hysteria and gain more recruits. The dreadful thing is that they are being aided by self-loathing British ideologues.

For every time someone blames the West for Iraq, yet more overwrought and culturally stranded British Muslim boys are recruited to mass murder by this echo chamber for Muslim rage.

Far from damping this fire down, the Government itself is fanning the flames still further. Because it refuses to acknowledge that this is an Islamic religious war against the West, the political and security establishment is actually trying to use Islamist religious extremism as an antidote to Islamist terrorism without acknowledging the unbroken line between the two.

So it is actually promoting, as role models for impressionable young Muslims seeking a purpose to their lives, Islamists who claim not to support violence - even though they spout hatred of the West, Americans and Jews.

Ludicrously, it has even recruited Islamist radicals into government - to act as advisers against Islamic radicalism.

This lethal misjudgment has had disastrous results. Extremism has multiplied. The police themselves have been compromised. As the former radical Ed Husain has written, Islamists who work closely with the police to ‘represent Muslims’ have been tipping off jihadists about police activities.

And the Government’s refusal to outlaw Hizb ut Tahrir, on the spurious grounds that although it promotes the Islamic takeover of Britain it is not committed to violence, has meant that this group continues to recruit thousands of students on campus to the cause of jihad against the West.

This is madness. The result is that, while most British Muslims say they would have no truck with terrorism or violence, an insupportable number of them do endorse appalling ideas. Apart from 1,700 identified British Muslim terrorists, opinion polls suggest that a worrying number of our Muslim citizens think the 7/7 attacks were justified.

This suicidal strategy of engaging with extremism - which has only helped create a continuum of extremism - must be abandoned. Hizb ut Tahrir should be banned and a major effort made to rid our campuses of Islamists.

Jihadi websites must be closed down or their instigators prosecuted. Extremist mosques should be identified and shut.

Attempts should be made to ‘turn’ suitable extremists by opening their eyes to the truth, so that they can tell their fellow Muslims that they are being fed lies and hatred. Anything less will make a mockery of ‘winning hearts and minds’.

Britain is now Al Qaeda’s principal target as well as its principal recruiting ground. This is because Al Qaeda has correctly identified Britain as the weakest link in the Western alliance.

Our Muslim community is particularly vulnerable to Islamist extremism because of the collapse of Britain’s belief in itself and the corresponding rise of multiculturalism and minority rights; the world-class defeatism and appeasement-minded arrogance of its establishment; and the eagerness with which its intellectual elite regurgitates Islamist propaganda in order to bash the West.

Our new Prime Minister has made an impressive start in handling this crisis. His appointments of a former head of defence intelligence as a designated Security Minister and a former Metropolitan Police commissioner as a security adviser were shrewd political moves.

Now we have to see whether the lethally incompetent counter-terrorism strategy will change.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Lincoln Center Pays Tribute to Kino

I got a nice brochure from the distributor of my film, Kino International Corporation, announcing this summer's festival at Lincoln Center celebrating 30 years of art film distribution. I thought readers of this blog might like to know about it.
30 Years of Kino International
June 29 – July 12

Enjoy the anniversary of this art-house distributor with a rare collection of cinematic masterworks.

Small-scale art-house distributors are few and far between these days, but Kino International, now 30 years old, is still going strong. The company began in 1977, and their commitment to the cinema, past and present, has never wavered. Their taste is equaled by their fortitude.

To celebrate Kino’s birthday, we’re showing some of their most beloved titles, many in new, archival or studio prints, including Raul Ruiz’s extraordinary Proust adaptation Time Regained, Akira Kurosawa’s late masterpiece Dersu Uzala, Peter Hall’s remarkable adaptation of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming and Chaplin’s immortal The Great Dictator .

Join us in celebrating Kino’s 30th anniversary and see these classics, old and new, on our beautiful big screen. Our special Series Pass ($40 for the public, $30 for Film Society members) admits one person to five titles in the series. The pass is only available for purchase (cash only) at the Walter Reade Theater box office.

Rudy Giuliani Talks to the Wall Street Journal

Will this interview help Hizzoner's campaign?
"I think the American people in November 2008 are going to select the person they think is strongest to defend America against Islamic terrorism. And it is not going to focus on--as some of the media wants it--just Iraq. I think Americans are smarter than that."

Thus did Rudy Giuliani summarize the rationale for his presidential campaign at a meeting this week with the editorial board of the Journal. Next year's election will be about national security, not about Iraq narrowly defined.

Robin Aitken: The BBC Hates America...

And George Bush, Neocons, Israel, Christians, and "climate change deniers," according to Robin Aitken's article in the Wall Street Journal:
The war in Iraq? Opinion within the London newsrooms was overwhelmingly opposed to military action from the start and has never wavered since. Man-made climate change? The BBC has jettisoned all semblance of impartiality on the issue; it now openly campaigns with a constant stream of scare stories. The Arab-Israeli conflict? The BBC's sympathies are firmly on the side of the Palestinians, who, having achieved the status of permanent victims, escape skeptical examination of their actions and motives.

The same biases color attitudes on moral issues. Abortion? BBC reportage invariably starts from the premise that it is an unquestioned social good, and the company has close links with pro-abortion groups like the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Multiculturalism? The BBC enthusiastically embraces a relativism that treats all cultures, no matter how backward, as equally valid and gives our own democratic traditions no special weight. Homosexuality? The BBC has consistently pushed the agenda of gay-rights activists on issues like same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by gay couples.

The reverse of the coin is that the BBC has its own in-house pariah groups: the "Christian Right," neocons, climate-change skeptics, "homophobes," George W. Bush. These people will never get the soft interview or helpful publicity.

The BBC reserves special venom for its portrayal of the Superpower. Little details betray underlying attitudes. I once spotted a poster of President Bush as Hitler in the large, shared radio current affairs newsroom; no one else seemed to mind this sophomoric but revealing prank. A much deeper anti-Americanism was at work in the reporting of the New Orleans hurricane disaster: BBC correspondents demonstrated unholy relish in dwelling on the failures in a way they would never have done had the event occurred elsewhere. The murder spree at Virginia Tech this spring was an opportunity for moralizing reports about U.S. gun laws. Reporters conveniently forgot that such tragedies happen the world over.

Ed Husain: Britain Must Ban Hizb ut-Tahrir

From today's Sunday Herald (Scotland):
Ed Husain, who joined a radical British Islamist group in the early 1990s, claims the process of recruiting home-grown terrorists by emphasising Muslim deaths abroad is well established.

"Their war was Iraq, ours was Bosnia, but it was the same ideology, the same us and them' mentality that drew them in," says Husain.

"The big difference is that when we were active in the mid-1990s, open jihadist mentality and suicide bombing took time to emerge. Now it's easier and quicker. Depending on the individual, they get radicalised in week one and they can get to the stage of physically taking action against those they oppose within 12 to 13 weeks."

There is a suspicion, shared by Gordon Brown's new international terrorism adviser, Lord Stevens, that British-born al-Qaeda operatives, have returned as veterans from Iraq to guide self-recruited terrorist groups here. That would explain how the gas cylinder car bombs common in Baghdad have turned up three times in two days on British streets.
From an article by the author of The Islamist, published in The Telegraph (UK) on May 2, 2007:
I recall my Islamist days when my mind was closed to an alternative argument: there was only one way - my group's way. All others, including fellow Muslims, were wrong and heading for hell. To argue that dialogue will win over extremist Islamists is a myth; theirs is a mindset that is not receptive to alternative views, and does not recognise the sacred nature of all human life.

Wahhabism and segments of Islamism are defined by their rejection of mainstream Muslim teachings and age-old spiritual practices, literalist readings of scripture devoid of scholarly guidance, and a hell-bent commitment to confronting the West. Moderate Muslims have common cause with the West to extinguish extremism in our midst.

As long as it remains legal for extremists in Britain to plan and finance Islamist attempts to mobilise the Muslim masses in the Middle East, and prepare an army for "jihad as foreign policy", there will always be a segment of this movement that will take jihad to its logical conclusion and act immediately, without leadership.

The rhetoric of jihad introduced by Hizb ut-Tahrir in my days was the preamble to 7/7 and several other attempted attacks. By proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir, we would send a strong message to extremists that Britain will not tolerate intolerance. Yes, we are a free country with a proud tradition of liberty, but it has always had limits.

In 1991, Omar Bakri, then leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, called for the assassination of John Major - we ignored it. In 1997, Osama bin Laden declared a jihad against the West - we ignored it.

Today, in our midst, Hizb ut-Tahrir calls for an expansionist, violent, totalitarian Islamist state - and we continue to ignore it. There is no quick fix to the problem of home-grown terrorism, but banning Hizb ut-Tahrir would be an excellent first step, sending a strong signal to aspiring terrorists that Britain has not changed the rules of game. We no longer play that game.
For more on the imminent threat posed by Hizb ut-Tahrir, there is an interesting interview of Ed Husain by Zahed Amanullah on Taji Mustafa of Hizb ut-Tahrir (UK) has written an article saying that your book plays up on Muslim stereotypes. What is your response to that?

Ed Husain: Taji has failed to understand the difference between Muslims and Islamists. Again and again on their website, they've used this reference that Islam is being blamed. No, no, no, no. Islam isn't being blamed. Islamism, the perverse ideology set up in the name of our noble faith is being blamed. Taji's fallen prey to the very ideology that he's advocating, trying to hide behind the mask of being Muslim.

Being Muslim is a very simple identity. We're at a stage now where we're beyond Hizb-ut-Tahrir and beyond things in just black and white. That's what the problem is. Islamist stereotypes are being exposed, yes. And so they should be. Islamists are being exposed, and so they should be. We've had enough of them.

But I don't think most Muslims out on the streets feel that they've been stereotyped in any way. If anything, a thorough reading of the book shows that you can be a Muslim, a westerner, and at peace with the rest of the world, and that's what the ultimate message of the book is. We're here. We're here to stay, and we're sons of the soil. Islamists have been exposed as have their stereotypes, but not Muslims. Hizb-ut-Tahrir cites polls throughout the Muslim world that claim a majority of Muslims want a Caliphate of some sort. If that's the case, what's wrong with it?

Ed Husain: Very cunning of HT to employ those polls! I cite countries such as Indonesia and Bangladesh, the most populous Muslim countries in the world, who have repeatedly - at free and fair elections - rejected Islamist groups offering them a mythical Islamic state. That said, you know, in the Arab world most people would say yes to any alternative, any opening of political plurality so those polls do not surprise me. But tell people that a Caliphate, as proposed by HT, entails every Muslim giving ba'iah to the HT caliph in waiting, Abu Rishta, and the rejection of doing so is a sin for which a Muslim is killable and then I think the poll findings will be interestingly different. One of the things that surprised me a little bit, not knowing earlier how Hizb-ut-Tahrir has been organised in this country, is that there may be a perception that a lack of education or knowledge would allow an ideology like theirs to continue. But a lot of the people involved with them that you met were educated in university or skilled in professions. Wouldn't educated people would be more open minded about what they're buying into?

Ed Husain: Good point. There are two other issues to bear in mind. Most of these people that are “educated” have a technical education. Most of these guys are – with respect – doctors, accountants, or have a science background. Very few of them were lawyers or humanities-educated. Those who were, or are now, tend to be in the more moderate wing - if there is such a thing - within HT. And those who eventually left, most of them were politics graduates, law graduates, and so on.

The second point is that many of these individuals were recruited when they were 16, 17, 18. Their critical faculties hadn't been developed properly. Then you have the same individuals married within Hizb-ut-Tahrir. So it's like a cult. By the time they actually become critical, it's too late to leave. Leaving means divorce. Leaving means cutting family ties. I'm not making this stuff up. People who have left recently have gone through that very experience. And it's not easy to reject Hizb-ut-Tahrir once you're married into the party. Your whole world revolves around it.

A third point is that many of them are of the belief that their form of Islamism is the only way of being a Muslim. I know of someone who left HT six years ago and he now wants to get his wife to leave, because she's a fully fledged member. But she isn't prepared to discuss their love life or to discuss their children with him. Because for her, her allegiance to the party and the leadership of the party is her way of having fidelity to God. Her husband takes second priority. So he can't talk about her because she thinks she's betraying God by betraying the party. That sort of fanatical, zealot's understanding of the world has led him now to divorce his wife without having any discussions because she just can't talk to him without reporting their discussions back to the party leadership.