Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mark Horowitz on Nordhaus & Shellenberger

Nordhaus, 41, and Shellenberger, 36, didn't set out to infuriate their former colleagues. On the contrary, they were good Berkeley citizens — partial to black clothing, into biking (Nordhaus) and yoga (Shellenberger), fluent in pinot noir. Above all, they were passionate about the environment. For the better part of a decade, they toiled in the green movement as consultants and political strategists, each hoping to change the world. Instead, the climate crisis changed the rules: It demanded a new way of framing the debate, and the pair became disillusioned when the environmental establishment stubbornly refused to adapt. That led to their fateful essay, with the not-so-subtle title The Death of Environmentalism. Overnight, the two became pariahs. And now, with the October publication of their first book, Break Through: From "The Death of Environmentalism" to the Politics of Possibility, they are going to face the full fury of enraged environmentalists. Pope, who has read the book, predicts that the reception from the movement "will be harshly negative."

Break Through is a fascinating hybrid: part call to arms, part policy paper, part philosophical treatise. (Name another book that gives equal time to Nietzsche, cognitive therapy, and fuel-economy legislation.) It takes aim at some of the environmental movement's biggest lions, including Kennedy and Al Gore. It belittles the Kyoto Protocol; it rips into best- selling social critics like Thomas Frank and Jared Diamond. But it also dismisses free marketeers who believe that unfettered markets alone can solve our carbon-emission woes. "If this book doesn't piss off a whole lot of conservatives and a whole lot of liberals, we've failed," Nordhaus says.
You can buy the book from

Friday, September 28, 2007

Exercise Makes Us Fat...

Someone I know sent a link to this article from New York Magazine by Gary Taubes:
The one thing that might be said about exercise with certainty is that it tends to makes us hungry. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. Burn more calories and the odds are very good that we’ll consume more as well. And this simple fact alone might explain both the scientific evidence and a nation’s worth of sorely disappointing anecdotal experience.

It’s difficult to get health authorities to talk about the disconnect between their official recommendations and the scientific evidence that underlies it because they want to encourage us to exercise, even if their primary reason for doing so is highly debatable. Steve Blair, for instance, a University of South Carolina exercise scientist and a co-author of the AHA-ACSM guidelines, says he was “short, fat, and bald” when he started running in his thirties and he is short, fatter, and balder now, at age 68. In the intervening years, he estimates, he has run close to 80,000 miles and gained about 30 pounds.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Youssef Ibrahim on the Saudi Lobby

From the New York Sun (ht Melanie Phillips):
Take the famed case of Alwaleed bin Talal, the Saudi prince whose $10 million check for the Twin Towers Fund was returned by Mayor Giuliani when the prince linked the September 11 attacks to changing American policies in the Middle East. A couple of years ago, the prince sneaked his bucks back into America by giving $20 million to Harvard University.

What's the money for? To study Saudi traditions, Bedouin society, or desert communities? No. As stipulated in the gift, it was uniquely given for the study of Islam, Islamic jurisprudence, and Islamic history.

Forget about cross-cultural dialogue or the study of Saudi traditions, society, or just getting to know each other. It is Islam, specifically the Saudi brand of Wahhabi Islam, that is being funded. Harvard officials are far too smart to miss the point but, hey, even with an endowment of $33 billion, another $20 million might come in handy.

However, the Saudi lobby's agenda, unlike those of the Israeli, Greek, or Armenian lobbies, represents a real and present danger to America's national interest, particularly when we recall that it was Saudi Arabia that produced, nurtured, and promoted 15 of the 19 Muslim fundamentalist hijackers who attacked this country on September 11. Saudi schools still teach the same basic stuff — "Hate thy neighbor" — and their lobby seeks to spread the word.

There is nothing wrong with taking the money, in my view. But it is not a gift from American Muslims or American Arabs, and the expected quid pro quo could be the sale of America's soul.

Gordon Brown's Labour Party Conference Speech

Heard part of this stem-winder on the car radio yesterday, thanks to C-Span. My eyes misted over...
Honoured and humbled by the trust you have given me, I speak to you for the first time at our Conference as Prime Minister and Leader of this Party.

No one could have foreseen all the events that Britain has been through since June.

But tested again and again the resilience of the British people has been powerful proof of the character of our country.

Early on a June morning, two cars were found parked and packed with explosives in Haymarket, London.

They were put there to bring terror and death to men and women who would do nothing wrong but be out with their friends, walk on our streets and visit our capital.

But from the bomb disposal experts who courageously risked their lives, to the Londoners who defiantly went on with their lives, that day the world witnessed the resolve and strength of the British people.

And when the terrorists tried to attack Scotland’s biggest airport, they were answered by the courage of the police and firefighters and a baggage handler named John Smeaton. He came to the aid of a policeman under assault from one of the terrorists.

Later John told me it was instinctive, he was doing what was right.

That man, that hero John Smeaton is here with us today and on behalf of our country – John, we thank you.

Every citizen who answered the call of the country – policemen and women, our security and emergency services, our health services – all left their mark on this island’s story by keeping us safe. They are the pride of Britain.

Just as our armed services with bravery and heroism every single day also make us proud. We mourn those who have been lost and we honour all those who in distant places of danger give so much to our country.

It was in these early weeks, in the wake of the worst flooding in almost 150 years, in county after county, we saw British people pull on their boots and pull out their boats to rescue neighbours and strangers.

And together they went to work to clean up the streets, sweep out the shops and reopen the schools. Long after the waters have receded the memory of their quiet strength remains.

They too showed the character of Britain: communities where buildings can be damaged and even destroyed but our spirit is indestructible. They too make us proud of the extraordinary resilience of ordinary British people.

And then on an early August morning in Surrey, a farmer went out to tend to his livestock and what he saw terrified him, made him remember back to 2001 when all across our countryside clouds of smoke scarred the sky and for many in farms and villages, family dreams were turned to ash.

During the outbreak this summer, our vets, scientists, and public officials in DEFRA cancelled their holidays. To fight the contagion farmers worked day and night. And they have done it all over again this month and continue to do so. Their actions live out our shared understanding that our countryside is more than the space that surrounds, it is the oxygen for our towns and cities.

And in order to be the country we should be, Britain must protect and cherish not just our cities, but our countryside too.

And as we saw again this summer there is no Scotland-only, no Wales-only, no England-only answer to the spread of disease or to terrorist attacks that can strike at any time, anywhere in any part of our country. And sharing this same small island, we will meet our environmental, economic and security challenges not by splitting apart but when we as Great Britain stand united together.

So my sense of talking to people in all parts of these islands is that instead of leaving us pessimistic, these three months make us more optimistic about what we the British people at our best can do.

Our response was calm and measured. We simply got on with the job.

Britain has been tested and not found wanting.

This is who we are.

And there is no weakness in Britain today that cannot be overcome by the strengths of the British people.

So don’t let anyone tell us Britain is not equal to every challenge.

Ann Althouse on Columbia University President Lee Bollinger

From Althouse:
Back to excerpts from Bollinger's speech:

[T]his event has nothing whatsoever to do with any “rights” of the speaker but only with our rights to listen and speak. We do it for ourselves.

This is a solid point. I like it. But I want to understand how it squares with the earlier statement that the event "is required." I appreciate the emphasis on the audience's right to receive information, but if it is our right, why are we required? Don't we also have the right to withhold the respect of a lofty podium to individuals whose hateful ideas we abhor and whose actions we regard as murderous? The point must be we wanted to hear him. Say why!

Shelby Steele on Little Rock, Arkansas--50 Years Later

But on this 50th anniversary of the Little Rock crisis, it is important to remember that this evil did happen in America, and that no engineered redemption can make us innocent again. And we might also remember that it is better to be chastened than innocent. Innocents don't learn from their sins; the chastened are informed by them.

Rudy Giuliani on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Caught this exchange with Sean Hannity in my car yesterday. Giuliani's main point, highlighted below, struck me as the most important consideration:
SEAN HANNITY: “You had as Mayor of New York a number of confrontations with some of these leaders and now we have this controversy at Columbia today with Mahmud Ahmadinejad and the invitation by Columbia. Your thoughts?”

MAYOR GIULIANI: “My thoughts are he should never have been invited in the first place. I think this is a distinguished lecture series, what it suggests is you make a selection right? But thousands of people conceivably would want to speak at Columbia, they only pick a certain number, and it would seem to me you don’t pick somebody who is the biggest—the head of the government that’s the biggest sponsor of state terrorism in the world, a government that is by every indication that we have presently engaged in activities that are resulting in the death of American troops., someone who has threatened the existence of the state of Israel, denied the Holocaust. I heard some of his answers on the Holocaust, of course they were absurd. The idea that it needs further research. I think the fact of the Holocaust has been pretty darn well established, doesn’t need further research. This is just part of his constant refrain of anti-Semitism, threats on Israel, threats on the United States. … Doing this, giving him this kind of status—even though the President of Columbia introduced him with an insult, he just responded with an insult—I believe this may underscore some of their fantasies that they really do have a world stage and that they really should be taken seriously and maybe they can fool us and maybe they can fool a certain number of us. So I think this is a damaging thing doing something like this with someone as deranged as Ahmadinejad is. You have no idea what you’re playing with here. So why would you invite him to a distinguished lecture series?”

HANNITY: “While Bollinger in his introduction said his views were ridiculous, the Holocaust is not an issue in dispute, that his arguments were absurd.”

GIULIANI: “But then he turned the podium over to him.”

HANNITY: “Well then he turned the podium over to him and I’ll tell you what was more frightening to me, immediately thereafter, here was Ahmadinejad basically saying he found the introduction insulting but more importantly I want you to listen to the students’ reactions and clapping for Ahmadinejad in the background. … Does that student reaction frighten you as much as it does me?”

GIULIANI: “Well here’s—this is really to my point, Sean. It frightens me because I don’t know what kind of reaction Ahmadinejad has to that, which means he comes away from this thinking, hey there’s a strong level of support for me in the United States of America, maybe I can push these people a little further, maybe I can take advantage of them a little bit more. That’s why I say in spite of the fact that the president of Columbia introduced him with an insult, he turned the podium over to him and he comes away from it. Ahmadinejad comes away from it saying, ‘Sure there are people there that don’t like me and opposed me and booed me, but hey, there were an awful lot of people there that applauded for me too. So I have some support there.’ And who knows what that results in when you’re dealing—look we have to come to the conclusion that Ahmadinejad is an irrational man. You don’t say the things he says if you’re working on, kind of a rational script. The denial of the Holocaust, the threat of—against Israel, the ways in which he gives five different versions of every single answer. This is a man who’s living in this fantasy world of jihad and world domination by Islamic extremism.”

HANNITY: “And providing the weaponry to kill American troops.”

GIULIANI: “And providing weaponry right now, right as we’re speaking possibly taking the lives of American troops. And we hand him a podium at Columbia University. And have no idea of what impact that can have on him? And the idea that it’s in the name of free speech, well that isn’t correct. Not everybody gets to speak at Columbia. …”

Amil Imani on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

From The American Thinker:
Ahmadinejad, a man driven by his religion, has a spiritual advisor in Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi (the defacto leader of the Hojatieh). The President's advisor is known for his extremist views on Islam and promotes suicide bombings and attacks on civilians in the West. There is only view of Islam for him. He once said, "...if anyone tells you their own interpretation of Islam, punch them in the mouth!"

President Ahmedinejad has in a short time acquired great many descriptors at home and overseas: zealot, fascist, fanatic, anti-Semitic, lunatic and more. One prominent Western columnist called him "unhinged." But we cannot just dismiss the man as an aberration, someone who is in urgent need of psychological help, a person out of touch with reality, who represents nothing of substance.

Once again the West is misreading and misjudging people and events in the Middle East, due to the fact that it views things through its own prism.

Looking at the man through Western spectacles, he indeed appears to be all of the above and more. Yet Ahmadinejad is far from unhinged. As a matter of fact he is firmly hinged to a set of beliefs that dictate his views of the world, and inform him how he should deal with it from his position of power.

An unhinged man has the potential of becoming once again hinged. But, there is very little that can be done to a person who is inseparably hinged, and Ahmadinejad views are firmly rooted in the most orthodox philosophy of Shiism.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Babi Yar, Remembered...

The European Jewish Press reports on a memorial service in Kiev, Ukraine:
Relatives of the victims laid flowers, candles and small stones
according to Jewish tradition at a monument formed in the shape of a menorah, or seven-branched candelabrum.

Prayers were said by Ukrainian chief rabbi Yaacov Blaykh.

On September 29-30, 1941 nearly 34,000 Jews were shot at Babi Yar (Woman’s Ravine) by German forces and their local collaborators.

Up to 60,000 more people were killed there up to 1943, among them Jews, Roma, resistance fighters and Soviet prisoners of war.

Eighty-six-year-old Debora Averbukh said she escaped the massacre as she and fellow university students had been evacuated to Uzbekistan, but that both her parents had been killed at Babi Yar.

Agustin Blazquez: An Open Letter to The History Channel en Español

About ommissions and errors in a recent documentary on the life of Che Guevara:
History Channel en Español

Below is the list of documented deaths by Che (216 to date) so you can correct his biography in your website in relation to the show Che Guevara: El Revolucionario Infatigable on History Channel en Español. Your count shows only 50.

Also you should correct your records. Che's position at the National Bank of Cuba was not his first assignment after 1959, it was the second. From January 3 to November 26, 1959, Che was in charge of the La Cabaña Fortress prison, where he did most of his executions without trial and he was known by his victims as "the butcher of La Cabaña."

The execution squads flourished under Che's command, assassinating, en masse, those perceived as enemies of the revolution, not, as your biography says, [Che] "Fusiló a asesinos de niños, mujeres y torturadores." [Executed assassins of children and women and torturers.] Che ordered that women and children visiting his prisoners be paraded in front of the execution wall, gruesomely stained with blood and brain parts. All this was well publicized in Cuba in order to spread fear throughout the population. Is this the "hero" that you are selling to the Spanish population in the U.S.?

Also, you should correct the ending quotes of Che's biography to reflect what he really said to his captors in Bolivia in 1967, pleading for his life: "Don't shoot! I'm Che! I'm worth more to you alive than dead!" Your biography says, to the contrary, " Fue un valiente hasta el último instante." [He was valiant until the last instant.] Once again, your biography is far from reality.

Are you a History Channel or not? What kind of history are you telling the Spanish population in the United States? From whom or where is that information about Che coming?

For more information about Che see Humberto Fontova's article at the following link:{50C84DE3-56E9-44C4-B7E7-43305CB15405 Humberto Fontova wrote a book about Che you can find at

Also there is a book by Enrique Ros titled Ernesto Che Guevara: Mito y Realidad that can be found at plus the documentary GUEVARA: anatomia de un MITO, which you can find at


Agustin Blazquez
producer/director of the documentary series COVERING CUBA


From Armando M. Lago, Ph. D.´s
Cuba: The Human Cost of
Social Revolution
Manuscript Pending Publication

The exact number of Che’s victims in Cuba is unknown. Guevara is said to have acknowledged ordering many executions — all carried out without affording the victims due process of law. Combat deaths caused by Che in Cuba or other countries where he led guerrilla operations have yet to be tallied.

The following list is not exhaustive and includes only cases for which historic reference is known — those he personally executed as well as those killed under his orders. Names are cited as reported. Additional details, including bibliographic information, are available for most cases.

Executed by Che in the Sierra Maestra during the anti-Batista guerrilla struggle (1957-1958)
1. ARISTIDIO - 10-57
3. JUAN CHANG - 9-57
5. EUTIMIO GUERRA - 2-18-57
8. “EL NEGRO” NÁPOLES - 2-18-57
9. “CHICHO” OSORIO - 1-17-57

Executed or sent for execution by Che during his brief command in Santa Clara (Jan. 1-3, 1959)
1. RAMÓN ALBA - 1-3-59**
4. FÉLIX CRUZ - 1-1-59
7. J. MIRABAL- 1-59
9. CORNELIO ROJAS - 1-7-59**
10. VILALLA - 1-59
12. CANO DEL PRIETO - 1-7-59**
14. JOSÉ GRIZEL SEGURA - 1-7-59** ( Manacas)
15. ARTURO PÉREZ PÉREZ - 1-24-59**
17. FRANCISCO ROSELL - 1-11-59

2. PEDRO SOCARRÁS - 1-12-59**
**Che signed the death penalty before leaving Santa Clara.

Executions documented for La Cabaña Fortress prison during Che’s command (January 3 to November 26, 1959)
1. VILAU ABREU - 7-3-59
6. PEDRO ALFARO - 7-25-59
7. MARIANO ALONSO - 7-1-59
8. JOSÉ ALVARO - 3-1-59
10. ANIELLA - 1959
11. MARIO ARES POLO - 1-2-59
12. JOSÉ RAMÓN BACALLAO - 12-23-59**
13. SEVERINO BARRIOS - 12-9-59**
14. EUGENIO BÉCQUER - 9-29-59
16. RAMÓN BISCET - 7-5-59
18. EUFEMIO CANO - 4-59
23. RAÚL CASTAÑO - 5-30-59
24. EUFEMIO CHALA - 12-16-59**
25. JOSÉ CHAMACE - 10-15-59
26. JOSÉ CHAMIZO - 3-59
27. RAÚL CLAUSELL - 1-28-59
28. ÁNGEL CLAUSELL - 1-18-59
30. JOSÉ CLAUSELL – 1-29-59
31. ELOY CONTRERAS 1-18-59
32. ALBERTO CORBO - 12-7-59**
33. EMILIO CRUZ PEREZ - 12-7-59**
34. ORESTES CRUZ – 1959
35. ADALBERTO CUEVAS – 7-2-59**
36. CUNI - 1959
37. ANTONIO DE BECHE - 1-5-59
38. MATEO DELGADO - 12-4-59
39. ARMANDO DELGADO - 1-29-59
41. JOSÉ DÍAZ CABEZAS - 7-30-59
43. ANTONIO DUARTE - 7-2-59
45. RUDY FERNÁNDEZ - 7-30-59
46. FERRÁN ALFONSO - 1-12-59
47. SALVADOR FERRERO - 6-29-59
49. EDUARDO FORTE - 3-20-59
50. UGARDE GALÁN - 1959
53. ALBERTO GARCÍA - 6-6-59
54. JACINTO GARCÍA - 9-8-59
55. EVELIO GASPAR - 12-4-59**
7. OSCAR GUERRA - 3-9-59
15. RAÚL HERRERA – 2-18-59
16. JESÚS INSUA - 7-30-59
18. SILVINO JUNCO - 11-15-59
19. ENRIQUE LA ROSA - 1959
22. ARIEL LIMA LAGO - 8-1-59 ( Minor)
23. RENE LÓPEZ VIDAL - 7-3-59
24. ARMANDO MAS - 2-17-59
25. ONERLIO MATA – 1-30-59
27. ELPIDIO MEDEROS - 1-9-59
28. JOSÉ MEDINA - 5-17-59
29. JOSÉ MESA - 7-23-59
30. FIDEL MESQUÍA DIAZ - 7-11-59
32. JOSÉ MILIAN PÉREZ - 4-3-59
34. LUIS MIRABAL - 1959
36. PEDRO MOREJÓN - 3-59
37. DR. CARLOS MUIÑO, M.D. - 1959
40. JOSÉ NUÑEZ - 3-59
41. VITERBO O'REILLY - 2-27-59
42. FÉLIX OVIEDO - 7-21-59
43. MANUEL PANEQUE - 8-16-59
44. PEDRO PEDROSO - 12-1-59**
47. DIEGO PÉREZ CRELA - 04-03-59
48. JOSÉ POZO - 1959
49. EMILIO PUEBLA - 4-30-59
50. ALFREDO PUPO - 5-29-59
52. RAMÓN RAMOS - 4-23-59
53. PABLO RAVELO JR. 9-15-59
55. MARIO RISQUELME - 1-29-59
56. FERNANDO RIVERA - 10-8-59
57. PABLO RIVERO - 5-59
59. MARCOS RODRÍGUEZ - 7-31-59
61. PABLO RODRÍGUEZ - 10-1-59
64. JOSÉ SALDARA - 11-9-59
65. PEDRO SANTANA - 2-59
66. SERGIO SIERRA - 1-9-59
67. JUAN SILVA - 8-59
1. FAUSTO SILVA – 1-29-59
2. ELPIDIO SOLER - 11-8-59
4. RENATO SOSA - 6-28-59
5. SERGIO SOSA - 8-20-59
6. PEDRO SOTO - 3-20-59
7. OSCAR SUÁREZ - 4-30-59
8. RAFAEL TARRAGO - 2-18-59
11. JOSÉ TIN - 1-12-59
14. TRUJILLO - 1959
16. MARCELINO VALDÉS - 7-21-59
17. ANTONIO VALENTÍN - 3-22-59
18. MANUEL VÁZQUEZ - 3-22-59
19. SERGIO VÁZQUEZ - 5-29-59
20. VERDECIA - 1959
21. DÁMASO ZAYAS - 7-23-59
22. JOSÉ ALVARADO - 4-22-59
23. LEONARDO BARÓ - 1-12-59
25. ElADIO CARO - 1-4-59
26. CARPINTOR - 1959
29. CORPORAL ORTEGA - 7-11-59
37. ALBERTO CAROLA - 6-5-59
38. EVARISTO GUERRA - 2-8-59
40. PEDRO RODRÍGUEZ – 1-10-59

**The death sentence was signed by Che, but the execution was carried out after he left his command.

15 additional executions were reported by The New York Times, but names are unknown.

Information provided by
CUBA ARCHIVE, an initiative of the
P.O. Box 757
Summit, NJ 07902
Tel. 973.701-0520

Reproduction and distribution
of this material is authorized as
long as its source is cited.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ann Althouse: NY Times Lied, Covered-Up, Petraeus Ad Facts

Violated their own advertising standards, to boot...

Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez Video Podcast on The War by Ken Burns

You can watch in Quicktime here, before, during, or after the PBS broadcast...

Who Shall Live and Who Shall Die? on Wikipedia


I don't know who did the writeup, but it is very good. Also, just learned the DVD is stocked by Target as well as Barnes & Noble.

Kiss of Death (1947)

Five stars for this Ben Hecht-Charles Lederer-Henry Hathaway collaboration based on a story by Eleazar Lipsky. All-Stars Victor Mature, Richard Widmark, Karl Malden, Brian Donlevy in a documentary-style noir thriller about a stoolpigeon who gets it in the end--for a higher cause. Leading lady Colleen Gray was good, too. Reminded me of "On the Waterfront"--only scarier. You can rent it from Netflix.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Speaking of Special Relationships...

Here are some photos recent of Mayor Rudy Giuliani's trip to London, from the campaign website with Prime Minister Gordon Brown
with former PM Tony Blair
and with Baroness Thatcher, of Kesteven.

Richard Pipes on Academic Politics

I saw this quotation from Richard Pipes on Daniel Pipes' weblog, and it seems worth posting:
Academic life is not all sweetness and light. Scholars are psychologically less secure than most people: by and large, once they pass the threshold of middle age they strike me as becoming restless. A businessman knows he is successful when he makes money; a politician, when he wins elections; an athlete, when he is first in sporting contests; a popular writer, when he produces best-sellers. But a scholar has no such fixed criteria by which to judge success, and as a consequence he lives in a state of permanent uncertainty which grows more oppressive with age as ambitious younger scholars elbow themselves to the fore and dismiss his work as outdated.

His principal criterion of success is approval of peers. This means that he must cultivate them, which makes for conformity and "group think." Scholars are expected to cite one another approvingly, attend conferences, edit and contribute to collective symposia. Professional associations are designed to promote these objectives. Those who do not play by the rules or significantly depart from the consensus risk ostracism. A classic example of such ostracism is the treatment meted out to one of the outstanding economists and social theorists of the past century, Frederick von Hayek, whose uncompromising condemnation of economic planning and socialism caused him to be banished from the profession. He lived long enough to see his views prevail and his reputation vindicated by a Nobel Prize, but not everyone in this situation is as fortunate. Such behavior, observed also in animal communities, strengthens group cohesion and enhances the sense of security of its individual members, but it inhibits creativity.

What particularly disenchanted me about many academics was [the way they treated] a professorship not as a sacred trust but as a sinecure, much like the run-of-the-mill Protestant ministers in eighteenth- or nineteenth-century England who did not even pretend to believe. The typical academic, having completed and published his doctoral dissertation, will establish himself as an authority on the subject of his dissertation and for the remainder of his life write and teach on the same or closely related topics. The profession welcomes this kind of "expertise" and resents anyone who attempts to take a broader view of the field because by so doing, he encroaches on its members' turf. Nonmonographic, general histories are dismissed as "popular" and allegedly riddled with errors – doubly so if they do not give adequate credit to the hordes who labor in the fields.

Is France the New Britain?

With Tony Blair bogged down making peace between Arabs and Israelis, will France take the same role vis-a-vis Iran as Britain has done vis-a-vis Iraq?

It looks that way, after French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's arrival in our fair city. I heard Kouchner on C-Span radio in the car, live from the Washington Hilton, speaking to the Center for Strategic and International Studies--notably in English, with a delightful French accent--debating hecklers and threatening Iran, while simultaneously maintaining the necessity for dialogue backed by sanctions.

Here's the official notice of Kouchner's trip, from the French Embassy website:
Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner will be in Washington for an official visit on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, September 19, 20 and 21. This is his first visit to Washington since taking office.

The trip will underline the exceptional relationship between France and the United States based on the shared common values of freedom and democracy, in the context of a renewed transatlantic partnership.

The minister of Foreign and European affairs will have in-depth talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, before the opening of the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York where the minister will accompany President Sarkozy.

Mr. Kouchner and Ms Rice will discuss the main international issues. In the wake of his trip to the Middle East, Israel, the Occupied Territories, Egypt and Lebanon, the minister will give his analyses of the regional situation and peace process, particularly with a view to the international conference which is to be held in November at the initiative of the United States. The Iranian nuclear question will also be a core issue in their talks. They will also be discussing Iraq, Lebanon ahead of the important election, which you know about, and the situation in Darfur and Kosovo.

The minister will also have meetings with the leaders of Congress.

The minister will give a lecture at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the United States, France and Europe in the face of the major international challenges.

As is customary, the minister will meet with the French community.
Meanwhile, the French Embassy is sponsoring a number of upcoming tributes to the Marquis de Lafayette, in honor of the 250th anniversary of his birth, and as a reminder of the historic French role supporting American independence from Great Britain....

Jena Protests Sweep US

I saw a demonstration in front of the University of the District of Columbia, just last night. The Jena protest movement has hit a nerve around the country. Here's a report from Baltimore:
"This is much bigger than Jena," said M.K. Asante Jr., an English professor at Morgan State University, who required his students to attend the rally.

"There are Jena 6 cases happening in Maryland, in Pennsylvania and around this country," he said. "What we need to do is focus all our energy on the institutional problems that allowed Jena to happen. Instead of being a society that responds to symptoms, we need to fight the deeper problems such as the huge disparities in the criminal justice system."

From Baltimore to Baton Rouge, protesters held rallies in support of the six black students charged with the attempted murder of a white classmate after a schoolyard brawl. They intended to add their voices to the collective cry of thousands of civil rights demonstrators who converged yesterday on Jena, a tiny sawmill town of 3,000.

Baltimore's events included huge rallies at local colleges and informal gatherings at high schools. Last night, a teach-in was held at New Shiloh Baptist Church, hosted by radio personalities, fraternities and sororities and the Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Everywhere, protesters wore black in a show of solidarity.

"We are here to support our brothers and sisters in Jena. If we don't stand up for justice, who will?" said Jasmine Hazel, a Morgan senior and student government association president. "This is not about black, this is not about white. This is about justice."

Melanie Phillips on a New Twist in France's Karsenty Case

Well, waddya know. The hitherto unthinkable has happened in the al Durah libel appeal in Paris (see here and here for previous entries). The court has actually demanded that France 2 hand over the unplayed 27 minutes of tape....Will we now find that the 27 minutes have mysteriously been lost, I wonder?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"Bronx Bomber" Mukasey

The NY Daily News reports a local angle on Michael Bernard Mukasey. Joe Gould and Corky Siemaszko talked to Mukasey's rabbi, Haskel Lookstein, who declared him a "mensch." Good enough for me. Lookstein has known him for years, he was Mukasey's camp counselor. Since Lookstein's father was my grandmother's rabbi, I'll take his word on it. And since Mukasey is a Bronxite, and I grew up in the Bronx, he has my support there as well. Cherry on the top--Mukasey is apparently a long-time confidant of Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

A trifecta.

Michael Bernard Mukasey: Good for New York. Good for America.

Monday, September 17, 2007 v. Rudy Giuliani

I thought Giuliani's decision to quit the Iraq Study Group--a bureaucratic and political cover operation, just more Washington-style CYA, IMHO--was the right thing to do at the time. He didn't make a fuss, he just took the nearest exit when he saw where the process was heading. In the end, the Iraq Study Group's recommendations were absurd on their face, which is why President Bush paid no political cost for ignoring them. If I had to choose between the pablum of the commission report or Rudy Giuliani's judgement, I'd choose Rudy every time.

Now, is trying to use his decision against Giuliani, in a commercial on YouTube. Actions speak louder than words. So, if Rudy Giuliani can't turn this political gift to his advantage, he doesn't deserve to be President...

Fouad Ajami on Iraq

From the Wall Street Journal:
"Historically we are winning." The words were those of Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi. This is a scion of Baghdad Shiite aristocracy, at ease with French and English, a man whose odyssey had taken him from Marxism to the Baath, then finally to the Islamism of the Supreme Islamic Council. "We came from under the ashes, and now the new order, this new Iraq, is taking hold. If we were losing, why would the insurgents be joining us?" He had nothing but praise for the effort that had secured the peace of Baghdad: "Petraeus can defend the surge," he said. "He can show the 'red zones' of conflict receding, and the spread of the 'blue zones' of peace. Six months ago, you could not venture into the Anbar, now you can walk its streets in peace. There is a Sunni problem in the country which requires a Shiite initiative. The Sunni problem is power, plain and simple. Sunni society grew addicted to power, and now it has to make this painful adjustment."

Mr. Mahdi was not apologetic about what Iraq offers the United States by way of justification for the blood and treasure and the sacrifice: "Little more than two decades ago, in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution and the Lebanon War of 1982, the American position in this region was exposed and endangered. Look around you today: Everyone seeks American protection and patronage. The line was held in Iraq; perhaps America was overly sanguine about the course of things in Iraq. But that initial optimism now behind us, the war has been an American victory. All in the region are romancing the Americans, even Syria and Iran in their own way."

For the Sunni-ruled states in the region, he counseled an acceptance of the new Iraq. He looked with pride on his country, and on his city. He saw beyond Baghdad's daily grief. "Baghdad is the heart of the Arab world, this was the hothouse of Arab philosophy and science and literature."

Peace has not come to Iraq, the feuds have not fully burned out, but the center holds. The best of Iraq's technocrats, deputy prime minister Barham Saleh, spoke of the new economic vitality of the provinces, of the recovery of regions once lost to darkness and terror. I brought back with me from Iraq a reminder that life renews in that land.
I attended the judicial tribunal that is investigating the crimes of Saddam Hussein's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, better know as Chemical Ali, and 14 other defendants being tried for deeds they committed back in 1991, in the aftermath of the first American war against Saddam Hussein. Chemical Ali had been one of the most dreaded "roosters" of the regime, a haughty killer. His attire was either Western suits or military uniforms. On the afternoon I went to watch his trial, he had shuffled in, leaning on a cane, all dressed in the traditional Arab way. The courtroom setting was one of immense decorum: a five-member panel of judges in their robes, the defense team on one side, the prosecutors on the other.

A lone witness, his face hidden from view behind a simple curtain, told of the cruelty he had seen a generation ago. He told of Chemical Ali executing people point-blank, after three Baathist women singled them out; he told of the burial of the victims on the grounds of a vocational school. He stood firm, the simple witness, when Chemical Ali tried to bully and ridicule him. He had no doubt about the memory of that day. He recalled Chemical Ali, he said, in his olive military uniform, and he correctly identified the rank of Chemical Ali. A policeman distributed bottled water to the defendants who once literally owned and disposed of the fate of this country. They were now being given the justice denied their victims.

In our fashion, we have our very American "metrics" and "benchmarks" with which we judge this war and the order in Iraq we had midwifed. For the war's critics, there can be no redemption of this war, and no faith that Iraq's soil could bring forth anything decent or humane. Today two men of extraordinary talent and devotion, our military commander and our ambassador, will tell of the country they know so well. Doubtless, they will tell of accomplishments and heartbreak. We should grant them--and that distant country--the hearing they deserve.

Rumsfeld Foundation Focuses on Central Asia

Bradley Graham reports in today's Washington Post that the recently retired Defense Secretary is turning international to charity work--especially in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan (perhaps also Afghanistan?):
Rumsfeld became wealthy during a 24-year business career between stints in government. A family foundation, set up in 1985 by him and his wife, Joyce, is now valued at about $20 million and makes charitable contributions to dozens of groups a year.

Rumsfeld plans to fund the new foundation with a grant from the old one and with other personal assets, plus any contributions that friends might make. He does not intend to solicit money from others, nor keep either foundation going after he and his wife have died.

Royalties from Rumsfeld's planned memoirs also will go into the new foundation, which is to be called the Rumsfeld Foundation. But Rumsfeld said he is "in no rush" to get the book out. "I'm not going to try to get something out fast -- a kiss-and-tell -- and affect the elections," he said. "That's not me."

Details about the number and size of the Rumsfeld fellowships have yet to be worked out. But they will not be attached to a particular school, going instead to individuals for study in foreign and national security affairs, economics, and other public policy fields. Similarly, the foundation's lecture series will not be confined to a single campus, Rumsfeld said.

Rumsfeld has long spoken of the need to encourage government service. The other main aims of his foundation -- loans to micro-enterprises and help for Central Asian republics -- reflect more recent interests.

Micro-enterprise is a burgeoning global phenomenon in which people who lack access to normal credit receive financing to operate small businesses. It has proved to be an economic boon to some poor regions. Rumsfeld noted that the repayment rates have been high, and he said such loans have the advantage of bypassing sometimes corrupt governments and landing directly in the hands of beneficiaries.

His focus on Central Asian republics such as Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan stems from a concern that they lack the U.S.-based support groups that benefited the Eastern European states in their transition from communist rule. "We don't have, in Chicago or Detroit or Pittsburgh, Uzbeks or Tajiks or Kazakhs," Rumsfeld said. "I think that we need to have people who understand what's going on in Central Asia . . . and the difficulty of that transition."
According to the New Zealand blog Scoop, Rumsfeld will join The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, at Stanford University.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Putin's Next Step: "Prepare Three Envelopes"

Anyone practicing amateur (or professional) Kremlinology must have been struck by an exchange published in the transcript of the Valdai discussion club. IMHO Putin's joke about leadership style explains why Yeltsin's chaos was blamed for Russia's problems; why there was an economic boom in the middle period; and finally why there is such uncertainlty about the future:
PIOTR DUTKIEWICZ: Which do you think are the three most important things you have achieved during your time in the Kremlin? Which three things did you not have enough time to do or were not able to do? And what are three pieces of advice that you would give your successor when you have your first meeting with him?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: On this account we have an old joke. When the head of a company or - let’s take a bigger picture - of a region, leaves his position, he gives his successor three envelopes and tells him the following: ‘Open the first envelope now, the second in two years, and the third just before you leave your position’. Upon opening the first envelope he reads: ‘Blame it all on me’. In two years he opens the second envelope which reads: ‘Promise everything’. And when he has six months left he opens the third envelope and reads: ‘Prepare three envelopes’. (Laughter). This story is relevant because our colleague has asked me to formulate three things three times right now.

I am not ready to state all of the most important things in all three spheres. But it is very obvious that we were able to strengthen Russian statehood. It seems to me that there is a great deal that can still be done in this field: to administratively and morally strengthen Russian statehood and establish more or less capable power and economic agencies.

The second achievement concerns the restoration of the Russian economy. We mentioned basic economic indicators. When I started working Russia’s gold and currency reserves amounted to 12 billion USD. Just this year they grew by 80 billion and total around 275 or 280 billion USD, I think. We had hyperinflation. And though it remains high I think that this year we will achieve nine percent. And before it was 30 or more and even went off the scale, up to unknown levels.

We constantly held out our hand to all international financial organisations for credits. As you know, today we are not financing our main activities with money obtained from credit and we are also repaying our debts ahead of schedule. And just recently we paid back 22 billion USD that we owed. Now the ratio of our foreign debt to GDP is one of the best in Europe. On average over the last three years the economy has grown by seven percent. In the first six or seven months of 2006 it grew by 7.4 percent.

40 million Russian citizens lived below the poverty line. Today there is still quite a lot of poverty. But it is no longer 40 percent of citizens – I think it is somewhere around 20 percent. The number has been halved. And I think that before the end of 2008 this indicator will approach the general European level.

We have minimal unemployment, quite simply minimal unemployment. And I think that we have learned to be quite pragmatic, but not confrontational, when defending our interests in the international arena. In other words we strengthened the Russian Federation’s international position.

If asked to state briefly and from the top of my head, these are three basic things that I would classify as positive.

What would I have liked to do and what is still incomplete? I have already referred to lowering the number of citizens below the poverty line as an advantage but, at the same time, there are still large numbers of poor people. The average income is still too low. However, we understand that in order to maintain macroeconomic stability and the rate of economic growth we cannot lessen the numbers of poor people in a way that is harmful to macroeconomic stability. This is the first and most important thing.

The second is the fight against corruption. I think that this is one of the very significant negative things that we have to continue to fight against.

And the third – something we have already talked about with Mrs D’Encausse – is demography.

What must we do in the near future? Incidentally, it is impossible to talk about such things with certainty and I am very much at risk when I do so. But nevertheless I will talk about things on a general level. We need to continue developing our country’s political system. We need to establish a truly multiparty system, develop self-management and improve relations between the federal centre, the regions and the municipalities so that each level takes responsibility upon itself and is able to accomplish the tasks incumbent to it. And of course we must continue to diversify the economy and thereby create the conditions that will help us resolve social problems.

Leon Aron on Liberty in Russia

From AEI's Russian Outlook:
Away from the "Chaos" Myth?

After Yeltsin died this past spring, 25,000 people stood for hours in a very long line on a cold April night to pay their last respects to Russia's first freely elected chief executive--until the body was suddenly whisked away by the authorities for a quick burial after fewer than twenty hours of lying in state. Even more remarkable, given the negative opinions of Yeltsin and his era to which the Russian people had become accustomed, was the tone of the obituaries (mostly on the uncensored Internet sites) that strongly challenged the "chaos" stereotype. Instead of a period of senseless destruction and chaos, emerging from the obituaries, appreciations, and comments was a precious and unique moment in Russian history--a hectic time, marred by ignorance and corruption, but, in the main, an earnest trial-and-error search for modern liberal economic and political arrangements best suited to the national conditions.

Putin's former personal economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, captured the tenor of the reevaluation when he wrote that Yeltsin had "pulled the country out of communism, out of empire and out of its past" and "pushed it forward toward civilization, openness and freedom." In another view, the 1990s have shown that the traditional Russian "feudal mentality" and the worst features of Russian political culture, which many consider immutable--disrespect of laws, the delegation of complete power and responsibility to the supreme leader, the "thousand-year-old corruption" and the notion that authorities of all ranks were there to "feed" off whatever they were appointed to supervise, the servility toward those above, and the violence toward those below--could, at least in principle, be changed. It is possible in Russia to "respect liberty," to tackle "laziness," and to treat other people not "as enemies and scoundrels."

In the 1990s a Russia began to be forged that was not an empire or a monarchy, but a "democratic and civilized country, of which others are not afraid," wrote a former Yeltsin aide. "A country that did not harbor treachery or hostility. A country that is liked in the world. A country in which there could be market economy, competition, freedom of speech."

Yeltsin's death seems to have occasioned a broader public reevaluation as well. Compared to 2000, the percentage of those who thought that the Yeltsin era was overall more negative than positive dropped by almost one-third, from 67 percent to 47 percent, while the share of those remembering the 1990s positively increased by two-fifths from 15 percent to 26 percent. ] Attitudes toward Yeltsin have changed even more decisively: the share of those who say they liked him grew by more than half from 2000-07 (9 percent to 19 percent), while the proportion of those disliking him diminished by more than half from 55 percent to 26 percent.

Most likely these numbers testify to the well-known feature of human memory: only distance can provide a proper notion of scale and meaning for events of such magnitude.

Writing about the American republic almost half a century after its birth, Alexis de Tocqueville noted "a mature and thoughtful taste for freedom." ] The first decade of Russian political and economic liberty brought nothing less than a different order of being to Russia, but hardly made the taste for it mature. The development of such a taste, along with a balanced view of the 1990s untinged by the political needs of a ruling regime, may be a project for decades.

Rod Dreher on the Muslim Brotherhood

From the Dallas Morning News (ht lgf):
This "explanatory memorandum," as it's titled, outlines the "strategic goal" for the North American operation of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan). Here's the key paragraph:

The process of settlement [of Islam in the United States] is a "Civilization-Jihadist" process with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that all their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" their miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim's destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who choose to slack.

The entire 18-page platform outlines a plan for the long haul. It prescribes the Muslim Brotherhood's comprehensive plan to set down roots in civil society. It begins by both founding and taking control of American Muslim organizations, for the sake of unifying and educating the U.S. Muslim community – this to prepare it for the establishment of a global Islamic state governed by sharia.

It sounds like a conspiracy theory out of a bad Hollywood movie – but it's real. Husain Haqqani, head of Boston University's Center for International Relations and a former Islamic radical, confirms that the Brotherhood "has run most significant Muslim organizations in the U.S." as part of the plan outlined in the strategy paper.

The HLF trial is exposing for the first time how the international Muslim Brotherhood – whose Palestinian division is Hamas – operates as a self-conscious revolutionary vanguard in the United States. The court documents indicate that many leading Muslim-American organizations – including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim American Society – are an integral part of the Brotherhood's efforts to wage jihad against America by nonviolent means.
More here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Andrew Kuchins on Journalist Deaths in Russia

From the Center for Strategic and International Studies website:
Did you know that nearly twice as many Russian journalists were killed in the 1990s when Boris Yeltsin was president of Russia as in the seven years of Vladimir Putin’s presidency? According to the records of the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York–based organization that tracks violations against free journalism around the world, in Yeltsin’s Russia, 42 journalists were killed and 3 disappeared. Since Mr. Putin became president, 22 journalists have been killed and 2 disappeared. As in the Yeltsin years, the motivations for the great majority of these tragic killings are tied to the wars in Chechnya and/or criminal activities. And, as in the Yeltsin years, almost none of these murders has been solved. The truth is that in Putin’s Russia, like Yeltsin’s Russia, being an investigative journalist is a very dangerous profession. And today, as in the 1990s, Russia’s ramshackle legal system provides virtually no incentive for investigators to solve the crimes. They would only discover the same dangerous information that the journalists did, and you can bet they are not counting on the Russian legal system to protect them in that event...

Putin's Zubkov Gambit

Nabi Abdullaev reports in the Moscow Times on the meaning of Putin's choice of Russia's new prime minister, Viktor Zubkov:
Olga Kryshtanovskaya, who tracks Kremlin politics at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said Zubkov had already become the frontrunner, surpassing acting First Prime Ministers Sergei Ivanov and Dmitry Medvedev, who have been intensely groomed for months as potential presidential successors.

Putin might be opting for a scenario in which he would not anoint a single successor to avoid charges of trampling on democratic procedures, but instead would offer voters the choice between three or four loyal followers instead, said Sergei Mikheyev, of the Center for Political Technologies.

"And it is possible that after eight years of an active and relatively young Putin, Russia's cautious voters would prefer aged and conservative Zubkov over the younger and dynamic Medvedev and Ivanov," said Dmitry Orlov, an analyst at the Agency for Political and Economic Communications. "Dispersing support behind such different candidates would be rational for Putin at the moment."
Interestingly, this took place shortly after a meeting of the Valdai discussion club, a group of international opinion leaders who get together with the Russian president from time-to-time to discuss Russia's role in global affairs. At the meeting, CSIS expert Andrew Kuchins questioned Putin about growing anti-Americanism in Russia:
ANDREW KUCHINS: ...I want to ask you a question about Russian-American relations. I am worried about our relations and their long-term development prospects. I had the opportunity to meet with President Bush. Marshall Goldman and several others were also there. I know that President Bush is worried about the increase of anti-Americanism in Russia and especially among young people. Of course, anti-Americanism is increasing in many countries in the world.

I lived in Moscow for two and a half years and when I came back to the States at the end of last year I was also very upset with the biased and negative image that Russia has in the American media.

But my question refers to the representation of the USA in Russian media, especially on Russian national television. When I lived here for two and a half years I often watched television and it left a strong impression on me. If Russian national television had been my only source of information I would have concluded that the USA is a hostile country and perhaps even an enemy.

But I know that this is not your policy and that you support improving our relations and making them more constructive. And during our meeting I told our President this in a very frank and direct way.

But it seems to me that there is a certain contradiction between the image of the USA as presented on Russian television and Russia’s foreign policy. Can you explain to me why this exists and how we can correct or improve the situation?

VLADIMIR PUTIN: I can. The media reflects the realities of the present life and mood of Russian society. And independently of whether or not the media is state-owned or independent, if it doesn’t reflect society’s mood then it will not be interesting and people won’t trust the media. And they say what people want to hear. The media reflects real life. And the Russian government’s foreign policy is pragmatic and designed to improve Russian-American relations.

While the press does not need to look at the future of international relations, international life and Russian-American relations it is part of my task to do so. For that reason there is really a marked difference between the mood among society, in the media and our concrete policies. I am only chagrined and confused by those who, unlike you, sometimes pretend not to notice the fact that we are increasing our efforts to not only maintain but also to improve Russian-American relations.

I think that our colleagues’ main problem is that they are not inclined to search for compromises. They almost always insist that we accept certain decisions that they consider optimal. But of course this does not happen 100 percent of the time. Sometimes we engage in joint work and in these cases, as a rule, we are able to achieve viable results.

I would very much like for this practice to take hold in our relations with our American partners. This will only happen in the event that they acknowledge our national interests and take them into consideration.

I repeat that we don’t intend to work against American interests, nor do we intend to neglect our own interests in favour of our partners’ interests.

I repeat that this work will be effective if they acknowledge our national interests.

We have really developed very good relations with President Bush. And without any undue exaggeration I think that this is a very important factor in intergovernmental relations. Recently this element became even more obvious because there are a lot of various small problems. In any case, we value this. It seems to me that President Bush also values this. We shall continue to rely on this in the future. And of course we are going to expand this base.

For instance, in accordance with American legislation we wanted to conclude contracts with various lobbying groups that officially operate in Congress. You know what they told us? And this is normal, this is in accordance with American laws. But the people we contacted told us that state department employees did not support such relations with Russian partners. That is strange. It is true that in direct dialogue with our American colleagues they did not admit this. They said: ‘No, that can’t be true, we did not do this’. But this means that someone – either the representatives of the lobbies or of the state department – is giving us the wrong information.

But such trifles prevent us from establishing a constructive dialogue. Why should this be possible for all other countries and not for Russia? We are not doing this underground, with the help of the FSB or the Foreign Intelligence Service. We are doing this openly and as it should be done with a view to engaging in a meaningful dialogue with legislators. What is wrong here? They say: ‘No, that is not possible’. Why is it impossible? It is a trifle, a detail. It is simply evidence of how they automatically applied the presumption of the Soviet Union’s guilt to Russia. This is not right, it is harmful and it bothers us.

For example, I believe that Europe will grow to become a political entity and that European statehood will be strengthened, and that both will inevitably occur because they are product of life’s basic needs and global economic development. During these processes political forces in the United States that are interested in the existence of a strong viable Russia and in developing intergovernmental ties will also grow. We will put emphasis on precisely this part of American society and of the American political establishment.

Thank you.

An Email From Rudy Giuliani About The New York Times

Found this in my inbox:
Dear Friend,, well-known for its character assassinations on Republicans, decided to participate in a character assassination on an American General.

Before General David Petraeus could give his testimony to Congress about our brave men and women in uniform overseas in Iraq,, aided by an enormous discount at the New York Times, ambushed an American hero with baseless attacks on his integrity. Senator Clinton furthered the slander by saying that General Petraeus required "the willing suspension of disbelief."

The way forward in Iraq requires proven leadership. The American people demand more than Democratic Presidential candidates who refuse to denounce extremist liberal organizations. These candidates and a do-nothing Democratic Congress undermine our troops' service. These times call for statesmanship, not politicians spewing political venom. Join me in telling that there is no place in American politics for these kinds of attacks. Please review my ad here and make a contribution to set the record straight.


Rudy Giuliani

Iraq Blog Count

А friend told us about IraqBlogCount, a 'blog of blogs' about Iraq. There's something for everyone...

John T. Reed on the Petraeus-Crocker Report on Iraq

John T. Reed watched the Petraeus testimony, and posted a detailed critique on his blog, here. An excerpt:
Bloodbath if we leave

We are repeatedly told that there will be a bloodbath if we leave.

We were told that in Vietnam as well. It was correct in Vietnam. There was a blood bath known as the Killing Fields in Cambodia and another known as the boat people in Vietnam after we left.

But the embarrassing fact is that while the American people regret the post-pull-out civilian deaths in Southeast Asia, we would do the exact same thing only sooner if we had it to do over again. Simply stated, the American people did not care about the deaths of the Cambodian and Vietnamese civilians at the hands of the Communists in Southeast Asia nor do they care about the likely future deaths of Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq. Sure, they care enough to wring their hands and make statements against it, but they do not care enough to spend another 600 billion dollars or another 5,000 U.S. military lives.

Most Americans probably think that a civil war in Iraq could not happen to a nicer bunch of ungrateful, religious nut cakes. Nobody, not Petraeus or anyone else, is talking about that elephant in the room...

A Shofar Blast for Rosh Hashana

When I was growing up in New York City, The New York Times would usually publish a photo of a rabbi blowing a shofar to welcome the New Year, from a congregation somewhere in the city, or sometimes elsewhere in the world, with a caption reading something like "Jewish New Year welcomed in Brooklyn." In fact, the paper used to carry little ads at the bottom of page one listing candle-lighting times, two lines intended for Orthodox readers. In vain did I search my national edition over the past couple of days. So, I googled to find a Shofar blast to post on this blog. Here it is, thanks to YouTube--L'Shanah Tovah! A Happy New Year to all our Jewish readers--and all the readers of The New York Times who remember when the paper still considered news of Jewish Holidays "fit to print."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Top British Think Tank: Stop Appeasing Islamists!

With traditional British understatement, Strategic Survey 2007, a publication of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Britain's top foreign policy think-tank, responds to the growth of Al Qaeda after 9/11. Former MI6 civil servant Dr. John Chipman's report finally begins to admit that Western leaders made a mistake by humoring outrageous Islamist "grievances" (perhaps blinded by oil money from Islamist regimes like Saudi Arabia) rather than unite with secularists to decisively crush aspirations for Islamic supremacy over non-believers:
Islamist Terrorism

There is increasing evidence, Strategic Survey argues, that ‘core’ al-Qaeda is proving adaptable and resilient, and has retained the ability to plan and coordinate large-scale attacks in the Western world. Regional jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia and al-Qaeda in the Maghreb have sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda and have begun to show ambitions beyond parochial concerns in support of al-Qaeda’s global objectives. Plots that have come to light in Europe and elsewhere point to a growing trend of Islamic radicalisation.

The long-term challenge is to confront the extremist ideology which gives rise to terrorism and which al-Qaeda has shown great skill and ingenuity in propagating. That challenge is of a different kind in different parts of the world and needs to be met in specific contexts. Overall, what is referred to as the ‘single narrative’, that sees Muslims as victims of non-Muslim aggression, needs to be addressed, both in the Islamic world and elsewhere. In the Islamic world, governments with de-radicalisation programmes tend not to contest the propositions of the single narrative but rather to encourage individuals to contemplate non-violent responses to perceived injustices affecting their co-religionists. Over time, that approach may not be sufficient, and there will be a need to build political cultures that encourage aspirations for the fruits of modernity and success, something best done by leaders able to establish their political legitimacy.

Western governments tend to meet the Muslim ‘single narrative’ by way of rebuttal, arguing against its basis in fact. But this too is an approach with limited effects. While there is a consensus among all European elites that the war on terror cannot be fought by military means alone, there is a less overt acceptance that defending the largely liberal and secular nature of the ‘public space’ in Europe will require a more assertive application of the ‘political science’ of that liberal-secular tradition. That means looking again at issues as complex as the relative balance between individual and community rights and between secular and religious visions of social organisation. On this basis, it may become possible to find more fluid ways to achieve the effective integration of Muslim minorities into European societies and obtain the national cohesion necessary to meet the wide range of security challenges the modern world poses.

Raoul Wallenberg Exhibit Opens in Moscow

Выставка «Рауль Валленберг: и один в поле воин»At the Sakharov Center. Co-sponsored by the Embassy of Sweden and the Swedish Institute.

Wallenberg's mission to save Hungarian Jews, including now-US Congressman Tom Lantos, was sponsored by the War Refugee Board that resulted from Peter Bergson (Hillel Kook) and Ben Hecht's agitation. Wallenberg was taken prisoner by the Soviets and never heard from again. The mystery of his fate has never been resolved--by Russia, Sweden, or the US.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Melanie Phillips on France's New Dreyfus Affair

It's the Karsenty case, now on appeal in a Paris courtroom, of a libel judgement against Karsenty's complaint that French television staged anti-Israel propaganda:
This scandal has many layers of evil. It reveals the wickedness of the Palestinians who so cynically stage hoaxes like this, as a result of which murderous hatred and mass hysteria are exponentially spread and innocent people are attacked and butchered in a rising spiral of terrorist atrocities. It reveals the wickedness of western journalists who transmit footage they know is a fraud as a matter of routine, becoming as a result active collaborators in the deaths of innocents. As someone from France 2 remarked during this affair, ‘It happens all the time’. Sure it does — we saw it last year in the Lebanon war when ‘atrocities’ that had been faked by Hezbollah were transmitted as true accounts by broadcasting organisations which turned a blind eye to the evidence of journalistic fraud because the story they told fitted the broadcasters’ own prejudices. And it reveals the intellectual corruption of the French judiciary, which perpetrates a transparent injustice and in turn helps further promulgate a murderous lie because, instead of holding power to account, the French judiciary is in its pocket.

To my knowledge, there has been no coverage whatsoever of these revelations about the al Durah footage, let alone the Karsenty case, in the British media. That says it all. They are so resistant to the suggestion that the story in which they so fervently believe — that Israel is the evil aggressor in the Middle East and the Palestinians are their innocent victims —might be wrong, that they simply do not register any evidence which bears that out. How can it possibly be the case, they think, that fashionable progressive French journalists (like themselves) could deliberately make themselves party to a lie? Since in their own eyes progressive people are by definition the unique repository of moral virtue, anyone who challenges that position is by definition evil. It is therefore impossible that the Palestinians staged a theatrical hoax, impossible that France 2 deliberately transmitted such a fraud, impossible that the Israelis could be the innocent victims of such a deception. The image of the killing of Mohammed al Durah exists; and the image is all. Nothing else has any reality. The fact that the ‘corpse’ moved and peered behind its hand to see if the cameras were still filming is irrelevant. The terrible thing about so many western journalists is that they really do deeply and sincerely believe their own lies.

The trial of Philippe Karsenty is an event of the greatest political and cultural significance. It may well come to define the relationship of Europe to Israel and the Jews as devastatingly as the 19th century Drefyus affair — in which the false accusation of treason against a patriotic Jewish French army captain produced an outpouring of virulent anti-Jewish prejudice — once convinced an assimilated French journalist by the name of Theodor Herzl that there could be no future for the Jews unless they had their own country. But now the French are determined to traduce and defame that country, too.

The Karsenty appeal is a very big story indeed. Let’s see how many journalists, in these degraded times, are able to recognise it.

Maajid Nawaz's Anti-Hizb ut-Tahrir Blog

For some strange reason, Jane Perlez's profile in today's New York Times of Maajid Nawaz failed to provide a link to his anti-Hizb ut-Tahrir blog (although it did provide a link to the official Hizb ut-Tahrir website). Since Nawaz is a former leader of the group--a recruiter, no less--I thought it might be helpful to be able to read what he has to say. Here's what Perlez reported:
Now, more than a year after his return to Britain, Mr. Nawaz, 29, has defected from Hizb ut-Tahrir, saying that he learned from scholars he met in jail that the ideology he so fervently espoused ran counter to the true meaning of his religion.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, or Party of Liberation, also calls for the end of Israel and the withdrawal of Western interests from the Middle East, though it says it wants to achieve those goals through nonviolent means. There have been calls in Britain to ban the group, but the government has always stopped short of doing so.

Mr. Nawaz’s departure from the group, which he announced on his personal blog several days ago and in an interview shown on BBC television on Tuesday night, is considered significant because he was such a highly valued member of Hizb ut-Tahrir — one of a handful of men on its executive committee in Britain.

Before being imprisoned in Egypt, Mr. Nawaz played a central role in recruiting new members for Hizb ut-Tahrir at home and abroad. Over and over again, he said, he spread the belief that the dictatorships of the Muslim world must be replaced by a caliphate similar to that which held sway after the death of the Prophet Muhammad.

But for the past year, he has felt nothing but regret, he said in an interview with The New York Times in a Bayswater Road coffee shop on Tuesday before his BBC appearance.

“I gave talks in Pakistan, Britain and Denmark,” he said. “Wherever I’ve been I’ve left people who joined Hizb ut-Tahrir. I have to make amends. What I did was damaging to British society and the world at large.”
Here's a link to his blog:

Little Green Footballs: Poland Remembers 9/11

Candles will burn again on the symbolic graves of those from the Podlasie Region in Poland who perished in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre six years ago.

Among them were Lukasz Milewski from Suwalki and Dorota Kopiczko from Augustow.

In the Suwalki cementary, there is a tombstone dedicated to the two who died, which resembles the Twin Towers joined by a crucifix, where candles are lit up on every September 11.

The Christ the King Chapel in Suwalki is dedicated to Lukasz and the church bell is named after him.

A mass is held in his honour Suwalki on every anniversary of the tragedy. Lukasz Milewski was 21 years old.

His body was one of many never identified.

Ali Alyami on Democracy in Saudi Arabia

Ali Alyami recently sent us this email message:
In an interview with the Associated Press on 9/4/07, Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, who does not hold an official position, but known to be a confidant of King Abdullah, declared that he will form a political party inside Saudi Arabia and invite Saudi reformers who have been imprisoned for calling for constitutional monarchy to join him. This is the most promising hope for any sharing of power in Saudi Arabia, if in fact the prince could or is allowed to carry out what he said he would do.

In an interview with the Washington Post on May 14, 2007, Talal lashed at his autocratic family openly "Here, the family is the master and the ruler," he said of his brothers and cousins, as he sat at Fakhariya Palace. "This style can't continue the same way. There has to be change in the nature of authority, if things are going to change in the kingdom itself."

In addition, Talal, for the first time any family member has ever done, accused the staunch opposition to reform by powerful family members which the Saudi people know to be Defense Minister Prince Sultan, Interior Minister Prince Naif and governor of Riyadh, Prince Salman. None of these men has ever mentioned political reform let alone supported it.

The Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, located in Washington, call on the US officials to issue a statement to support Prince Talal move, because peaceful reform can only happen now if the Saudi ruling dynasty allows it. This is an opportunity that the Bush Administration and members of US Congress should support publicly and immediately.

Both Rosh Hashanah & Ramadan Start Tonight

Happy holidays to all our readers! (Yes, we have them in both Israel and the Muslim world).

From the Pioneer-Press:
Sundown today marks the beginning of two important Muslim and Jewish holidays: Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, and Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year observance that starts a 10-day period of reflection and renewal.

Doron Rosenblum on Israel in 5768

From Ha'aretz:
To try to understand the spirit of the times, we need to go back a generation, to the War of Attrition, when Moshe Dayan delivered his "fear not, my servant Jacob" speech to the Command and Staff College: "Jacob, do not be fearful, do not be cowardly, you are fated to live in constant struggle, and heaven forbid you fail by cowardice," he said. Many were shocked that just two years after the great victory of the Six-Day War, Dayan could say "constant struggle." Yet, in the years since then we have known wars, peace treaties, a sea of terror and unilateral withdrawals, but never has the hope for rest been abandoned, never have the wishes and the yearnings stopped: if not for a catharsis of full peace, then at least for a type of tension-relaxing settlement.

Barak's return to the Defense Ministry is more significant than it looks. He is "corresponding" in a certain sense with Dayan's period as both chief of staff and defense minister: in personal courage, spirit of adventure and pessimism. From now on, then, we are going to have many murky operations about which silence is golden, many smart-aleck tricks and thrilling stratagems, a lot of action, abductions and counter-abductions, reprisals and painful counter-reprisals. Sometimes things will be happy, at other times the opposite. But that is what "living by the sword" looks like, in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sophia Tolstoy's Photo Album

On a happier note, someone I know and I had a wonderful time with a friend Saturday night at a party for Song Without Words: The Photographs of Countess Sophia Tolstoy at the Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen Museum at American University. It was just terrrific, in a beautiful building, with an outstanding companion show of works by American University alumni. Great, great, great. Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen may be the new Medicis of Washington...

Ann Applebaum on Bin Laden's Recruiting Video

From today's Washington Post:
Al-Qaeda's long-term goal is to convert Americans and other Westerners to its extreme version of Islam.

Before you fall over laughing, think again. It would only take a very few such converts to do a lot of damage. The results of the Soviet Union's massive propaganda campaign on behalf of world Marxist revolution were also numerically small but at the time were considered quite effective: the Baader-Meinhof gang, the Italian Red Brigades, the Weather Underground. There are always disaffected young people -- Gadahn himself is a former fan of "death metal" rock bands -- and they're always looking for a cause. Conversion in general is increasingly common across Europe. Some 4,000 Germans were recently found to convert annually, and if only 0.1 percent of them choose the militant version of Islam, that would be enough to cause trouble.

For, as news from Germany well illustrates, there is no one quite so passionate as a recent convert. At least two of the men recently arrested and accused of plotting to bomb American interests in Germany were converts. So were Richard Reid, the failed shoe-bomber, and Jose Padilla, the U.S. citizen who was suspected of planning to construct a dirty bomb.

It is legitimate to ask whether it matters what is said by a man who is no longer thought to be in control of his organization, even if he still has access to a video camera inside his cave. Yet that's precisely the point. Bin Laden will sooner or later die or be captured. But he, or someone close to him, is trying to ensure that his ideology lives on. And he, or someone else, wants it to survive in a form that will appeal to Americans and other Westerners disillusioned with their own political systems.

To put it bluntly, someone with an Irish or Hispanic name could have a better chance of slipping past the FBI, or through airport security, than someone named Mohammed. In a world in which counterintelligence and security procedures will slowly, slowly improve -- that's the future.

Another Bin Laden Video

The last one was apparently aimed at Western audiences. On the 6th anniversary of 9/11, Bin Laden aims his latest video message at Muslims. From Al Jazeera:
The video begins with a photograph of bin Laden in front of a brown backdrop.

In a voiceover, he is heard saying: "His talk of mine consists of some reflections on the will of a young man who personally penetrated the most extreme degrees of danger and is a rarity among men: one of the 19 champions, may Allah have mercy on them all."

"We shall come at you from your front and back, your right and left," al-Shehri said in the tape, asserting that the US would suffer the same fate as the former Soviet Union.

In the tape, al-Shehri also praised the losses the United States suffered in Somalia in the late 1990s.

"As for our own fortune, it is not in this world," he said. "And we are not competing with you for this world, because it does not equal in Allah's eyes the wing of a mosquito."

In a tape released on Friday, bin Laden had mocked the US as "weak" and threatened to escalate the war in Iraq.

News of the latest video emerged before the US was to hold ceremonies to remember the dead from New York's Twin Towers, the US defence department headquarters in Washington and a hijacked jet that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
More from the Associated Press:
In the tape, bin Laden praised al-Shehri, saying he "recognized the truth" that Arab rulers were "vassals" of the West and had "abandoned the balance of (Islamic) revelation."

"It is true that this young man was little in years, but the faith in his heart was big," he said.

"So there is a huge difference between the path of the kings, presidents and hypocritical Ulama (Islamic scholars) and the path of these noble young men," like al-Shehri, bin Laden said. "The formers' lot is to spoil and enjoy themselves whereas the latters' lot is to destroy themselves for Allah's Word to be Supreme."

"It remains for us to do our part. So I tell every young man among the youth of Islam: It is your duty to join the caravan (of martyrs) until the sufficiency is complete and the march to aid the High and Omnipotent continues," he said.

At the end of his speech, bin Laden also mentions the al-Qaida leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in an U.S. air strike there. Al-Zarqawi followed in the footsteps of al-Shehri and his brothers who "fulfilled their promises to God."

"And now it is our turn," bin Laden says.

After bin Laden speaks, the video of al-Shehri appears. Al-Shehri — one of the hijackers on American Airlines Flight 11, which hit the World Trade Center — is seen wearing a white robe and headscarf, with a full black beard, speaking in front of a backdrop with images of the burning World Trade Center.

On General Petraeus' Testimony...

Looking at General Petraeus' PowerPoint presentation after hearing his Congressional testimony on C-Span radio while driving in the car, I was reminded of Fouad Ajami's description of a visit to Iraq:
"PowerPoint meets Heart of Darkness."
Personally, I'd feel a little better if Petraeus did not have his Ivy League Ph.D....

Judith Miller: US "Buying Time"

After hearing some of Petraeus on C-Span, I thought it sounded like American strategy was to buy time until Bush left the White House, then dump the Iraq mess in the lap of the next President (hopefully, Giuliani, who I believe can clean it up). Now, it appears that "buying time" is also US strategy in the war against Bin Laden. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Judith Miller reports.
Complacency would indeed be dangerous. There will be no "mission accomplished" banners in this war - a campaign unlikely to end in my lifetime. American intelligence and counter-terrorism officials can only do their jobs, buy time, and hope that the wave of militancy that has engulfed so many Islamic communities ebbs.

Osama bin Laden marked the September 11 anniversary not by conducting another devastating strike but by releasing a videotape, his first in three years. His continued freedom is a triumph of sorts. It also shows how challenging a task defeating such an enemy has become.

A recent National Intelligence Estimate warned Americans that al-Qa'eda remains the single greatest terrorist threat to the US. Other assessments share its gloomy findings that the number of jihadis is increasing.
Personally, contra Judith Miller and US intelligence and counter-terrorism officials, I would prefer the war on terror to end in my lifetime, if not sooner. I think Miller's article provides evidence that we need a military draft and mobilization of the entire American people to get this job done as soon as possible. It's manifestly become bogged down in bureaucracy and careerism at the highest levels of government...unforgivable six years after attacks on New York and Washington, DC.

As Bob Dole used to ask: "Where's the outrage?"

The MINERVA September 11th Web Archive

Trying to remember what happened on September 11th, 2001?

Here's a link to the US Library of Congress MINERVA September 11th Web Archive, which has catalogued thousands of websites from that day, and the months following, from around the world:
The Library of Congress, in partnership with the Internet Archive, and the Pew Internet & American Life Project, has created a collection of digital materials known as the September 11 Web Archive.

The September 11 Web Archive preserves the web expressions of individuals, groups, the press and institutions in the United States and from around the world in the aftermath of the attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001.

The Web Archive is important because it contributes to the historical record, capturing information that could otherwise be lost. With the growing role of the Web as an influential medium, records of historic events could be considered incomplete without materials that were "born digital" and never printed on paper.

The September 11 Web Archive consists of over 30,000 selected Web sites archived from September 11, 2001 through December 1, 2001.

Approximately 2,300 Web sites were identified for further processing and were cataloged using MODS (Metadata Object Description Schema), an XML schema for a bibliographic element set which enables the creation of original resource description records.

The collection uses the Wayback Machine interface, a display designed to display Web sites captured over time, which was pioneered by the Internet Archive. Web sites in the collection can be discovered through browsable and searchable interfaces. Please review the Technical Architecture for more information on these interfaces.

More on the MINERVA project at this link.

Monday, September 10, 2007

NY Times Magazine on Rudy Giuliani

Author Matt Bai writes on Hizzoner in an article headlined "Crusader."
The logic of Giuliani’s pitch to voters on terrorism will feel familiar to anyone who paid close attention to his political ascent. When he first won office in 1993, New York was widely considered a city beyond governance, an uncontrollable metropolis where violent crime, entrenched bureaucracy and swollen welfare rolls were accepted as the grim but unshakable realities of urban decline. Rudy ran as a real S.O.B., the guy who had the steel to restore order and sanity where no one else could or would. Whatever you think of Giuliani personally, it’s hard to argue that he didn’t succeed; crime and the welfare rolls plummeted for the first time in decades, while jobs and neighborhoods came back. Giuliani maintained an uneasy détente with the overwhelmingly liberal pool of voters who had chosen him for the job. He did the dirty work that made their city, at long last, livable and safe, the things their political correctness would never allow them to openly countenance. For their part, New Yorkers made a show of disdaining him at dinner parties for his bullying ways and pitiless programs, but they slept better knowing that Rudy was wrestling the city’s myriad demons.

Now Giuliani is running to become that same kind of president. In Giuliani’s view, we live in a dark time, caught up in the opening stages of a war with Islamic radicals that may span a few decades and several continents before it’s won. A president has to be willing to be the bad guy, to do the things that may make even his allies uncomfortable, and to do them with ruthless efficiency. So you wouldn’t want to have a beer with me, Rudy seems to be saying. So even my own kids don’t want to have a beer with me. But whom do you really want staring down the terrorists — me, or one of these other guys? Do you want someone squeezable, or would you rather hire the single-minded enforcer who had the testicular fortitude to tame New York?

Giuliani’s presidential campaign brings to mind that famous scene from “A Few Good Men,” in which Jack Nicholson lectures a boyish Tom Cruise on the practical realities inherent in protecting freedom. In Giuliani’s telling, only a thin wall separates innocent Americans from the violent apostles of a brutal and repressive ideology. You want me on that wall, Rudy would have us believe. You need me on that wall.

Inevitably, presidential campaigns take on the peculiar personalities of the candidates themselves. Bill Clinton’s aides worked without sleep and always behind schedule. George W. Bush’s team couldn’t conceal their Texan arrogance. Giuliani’s campaign staff is remarkably — almost unnervingly — disciplined. His campaign appearances inevitably begin and end on time. Each day of campaigning has a theme (“trial lawyers are bad,” “adoption is good,” etc.), to which the candidate lashes himself without fail, while high-powered surrogates back in Washington issue carefully timed statements backing him up. The campaign is unusually guarded with routine information, giving out only Giuliani’s public schedule, and almost no one associated with the campaign will talk to a reporter without a press aide listening in on the line.

When I first managed to track down Giuliani on the western edge of Iowa in mid-July, I was more impressed than I expected to be. In the abstract, after all, it’s hard to imagine the slashing mayor of New York getting on famously with the people of Sloan, Iowa, a one-strip farming town of about 1,000 people. (Motto: “A Good Place to Grow.”) But Rudy out of his element turns out to be a surprisingly deft campaigner. Ever the prosecutor, he retains a talent for explaining complex concepts, flipping his round spectacles on and off his face for emphasis and rubbing his forehead as if deep in thought. He has a penchant for talking to voters as if he were their tough-love therapist, frequently invoking words like “reality” and “denial.” Vowing to end illegal immigration during one town-hall meeting in Iowa, Giuliani told the crowd, “Every other country does it, and we can do it.” Then he clutched his heart and spoke softly. “It’s O.K. to do it.” You could almost hear a collective sigh among the Iowans, who didn’t consider themselves bigots just because they wanted to seal the borders, and who now felt validated by America’s mayor. They lined up for autographs.