Monday, September 11, 2006

Ann Althouse on The Path to 9/11

She got bored...

The Path to 9/11: Not Bad

It's half-time for the ABC mini-series that began last night and ends tonight. So far, it's not bad. It's about the bureaucrats and terrorists--and it's hard to tell which is the greater threat to America, which is a strong message. Best scene was of the Washington State US Customs Service inspector catching the millenium bomber. Second best was of the Filipina policewoman catching the Bojinka bomber. As John O'Neil's character says, the women in law enforcement seem to be doing better than the men... Best line so far from Massoud, Lion of the Panjshir and head of the Northern Alliance: "Are there no men left in America?"

Bumper Sticker, Semptember 10, 2006

  Posted by Picasa It reads: "I'm the proud parent of a blue-blooded legacy child with mediocre grades."

Christopher Hitchens on the 5th Anniversary of 9/11

From today's Wall Street Journal:
The time for commemoration lies very far in the future. War memorials are erected when the war is won. At the moment, anyone who insists on the primacy of September 11, 2001, is very likely to be accused--not just overseas but in this country also--of making or at least of implying a "partisan" point. I debate with the "antiwar" types almost every day, either in print or on the air or on the podium, and I can tell you that they have been "war-weary" ever since the sun first set on the wreckage of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and on the noble debris of United Airlines 93. These clever critics are waiting, some of them gleefully, for the moment that is not far off: the moment when the number of American casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq will match or exceed the number of civilians of all nationalities who were slaughtered five years ago today. But to the bored, cynical neutrals, it also comes naturally to say that it is "the war" that has taken, and is taking, the lives of tens of thousands of other civilians. In other words, homicidal nihilism is produced only by the resistance to it! If these hacks were honest, and conceded the simple truth that it is the forces of the Taliban and of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia that are conducting a Saturnalia of murder and destruction, they would have to hide their faces and admit that they were not "antiwar" at all.

One must have a blunt answer to the banal chat-show and op-ed question: What have we learned? (The answer ought not to be that we have learned how to bully and harass citizens who try to take shampoo on flights on which they have lawfully booked passage. Yet incompetent collective punishment of the innocent, and absurd color-coding of the "threat level," is the way in which most Americans actually experience the "war on terror.") Anyone who lost their "innocence" on September 11 was too naïve by far, or too stupid to begin with. On that day, we learned what we ought to have known already, which is that clerical fanaticism means to fight a war which can only have one victor. Afghans, Kurds, Kashmiris, Timorese and many others could have told us this from experience, and for nothing (and did warn us, especially in the person of Ahmad Shah Massoud, leader of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance). Does anyone suppose that an ideology that slaughters and enslaves them will ever be amenable to "us"? The first duty, therefore, is one of solidarity with bin-Ladenism's other victims and targets, from India to Kurdistan.

The second point makes me queasy, but cannot be ducked. "We"--and our allies--simply have to become more ruthless and more experienced. An unspoken advantage of the current awful strife in Iraq and Afghanistan is that it is training tens of thousands of our young officers and soldiers to fight on the worst imaginable terrain, and gradually to learn how to confront, infiltrate, "turn," isolate and kill the worst imaginable enemy. These are faculties that we shall be needing in the future. It is a shame that we have to expend our talent in this way, but it was far worse five years and one day ago, when the enemy knew that there was a war in progress, and was giggling at how easy the attacks would be, and "we" did not even know that hostilities had commenced. Come to think of it, perhaps we were a bit "innocent" after all.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Farmgirl Fare

Someone I know recommended this blog dedicated to the simple life in the country, artesanal baking, and photography--there's a daily farm photo--saying the pictures were excellent. I took a look and agree, so here's a link to Farmgirl Fare. It's a nice change of pace...

Background Reading for The Path to 9/11

The controversy over ABC's 9/11 mini-series fits into a theory about the role of television movies in American culture discussed in an article I published 18 years ago in the scholarly journal Studies in Popular Culture.( For those of our readers with access to a university library here's the reference:"It's Only a Movie: The Television Docu-Drama and Social Issue Movie as The American Marketplace of Ideas," Studies in Popular Culture (Spring, 1988). Unfortunately, it was before online publishing, and so I can't find an online copy at the website of the Popular Culture Association of the South.) Bottom line: protests from Clinton administration figures to ABC are nothing out of the ordinary in the history of TV movie controveries--the Reagan administration objected to The Day After, which led to ABC's follow-up broadcast of Amerika, in response to criticism.

UPDATE: Here is a link to video clips of the scenes to which objections have been raised (ht LGF):

Is Democracy the Answer?

David Yerushalmi doubts the Bush democratization agenda presents a strategy for victory: (ht The American Thinker)
President Bush has built an entire war strategy on two legs, neither of which alone is sufficient to support victory. One leg stands for war, but only a limited war. A war to defeat “terrorism” and “Islamofascism” while preserving traditional and historical Islam with its full ideological panoply intact. It is a war that stops short of devastatingly destroying the enemy because the war planners are convinced that they can hurriedly rebuild a viable democracy on the back of a vibrant and fully respected Islam. But if traditional, historical Islam is anti-Western at its core, is this strategy viable? Does the evidence in Afghanistan or Iraq or the Palestine Territories suggest otherwise? Is there today such a thing as a western-friendly Islamic state?

Moreover, because the President embraces the democracy ideology, he is logically and strategically constrained from warring until the enemy is defeated because he refuses to identify the enemy. The Bush Administration’s war strategy to build democracy on a base of some mythical if not simply fictional peaceful Islam becomes the very factor that prevents victory. Unlike the war effort during World War II, when we warred against Germany and Germans and against Japan and the Japanese, President Bush wants to war against the tactic of terror or against only Islamic terrorists once they have already attacked or planned to attack.

In World War II, and properly so, there was no effort to artificially confine the war to Nazism and fascism or to Bushidoism and tokko (or suicide missions). Nor did the Allied Powers only seek to kill the Germans and the Japanese who took up arms. To end that war and to destroy the ideologies that drove those nations to conquer the West, the US and its allies made its goal victory and conquest through the complete and utter defeat and destruction of the enemy societies and their ideologies of world domination. Period.

The President’s second term is in its waning stages. The contenders lining up for that most important office look weak and pallid by comparison. If the President’s strategy is wrong and dangerous, the strategy that will come to replace his will most certainly be more so. By fighting the war with an ideology instead of a strategy for complete victory, the President is setting the stage for a colossal defeat and retreat.

At best, the US will find itself with warring Islamic democracies hell bent on our destruction. At worst, a nuclear Iran with its sphere of influence stretching through a Shia-dominated Iraq and a Lebanon held hostage to a Shia-centered Hezbollah, will combine with a Sunni-dominated al Qaeda to begin a domino effect. In the Middle- and Near-East, there are two major powers standing precariously on the shoulders of two military tyrants.

One is Egypt with Mubarak only two years away from his 80th birthday with no real successor in place. Mubarak of course has been ridiculously criticized by the West for failing to democratize. But every time he allows even the slightest “liberal democratic” reform, the Islamic factions of the Brotherhood, another of the many jihadist organizations in the region, gain enormous power and popular support. Mubarak knows full well that he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. He is grooming his son, Gamal, to stand in his shoes but most observers doubt if a newly anointed progeny will be able to hold back the Islamic forces rushing the gates. The question will be how well the Egyptian military responds to the Islamic threat when Mubarak dies.

The other of course is Pakistan with its nuclear arsenal protected only by strongman President-General Pervez Musharraf. But Musharraf knows that he rules over a population very supportive of bin Laden and al Qaeda. His most recent treaty with the tribal leaders in North Waziristan has been widely viewed as a wholesale capitulation to the fact that the Taliban and al Qaeda have been granted safe haven in the northwest mountainous regions of his country.

Once Egypt and Pakistan are in play, the whole of the Middle East, and indeed the Near East, including India, are at risk. Are we really prepared to rely on an ideological panacea? Put simply, is democracy the answer to Islam?

Zero Tolerance for Intolerance

In a penetrating review of Ian Buruma's Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance, Dutch novelist Leon de Winter--no fan of van Gogh personally--says that Buruma has missed the real message of Van Gogh's death in a misunderstanding of the nature of tolerance. De Winter believes that Islamist supremacism is the problem, that conflicts with European Muslims result from a fundamental refusal "to accept Islam's status as a minority religion in a superior but 'infidel' environment: secular Europe." In other words, until fundamentalists become tolerant of secularism, they ought not be tolerated themselves, because the belief system represents a genuine threat to the future of free society. It is a thesis devastating in its simplicity. De Winter quotes from Karl Popper's The Open Society and Its Enemies to support his conclusion:
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them."
Unfortunately, the full text of de Winter's review is only available online to paid subscribers of the Wall Street Journal. However, you can read an earlier De Winter article about Van Gogh on this link to his Hudson Institute website, or order the Buruma book from Amazon here:

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Omran Salman on CAIR

Omran Salman, an Arab journalist from Bahrain, took on CAIR in the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 31st (ht Daniel Pipes):
Rather than just condemn the plot and address the scourge of Islamic extremism, Muslim groups such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) sought to both legitimize terror and portray Muslims as victims.

Do these organizations really represent Muslims in the West? Hardly. It is their apologia of Islamic extremism, rather than discrimination or religious hatred in Western society, which most victimizes American Muslims.

Come and See (1985)

Elem Klimov's film, written by by Alex Adamovich, is sort of a Russian response to Gunter Grass's "The Tin Drum." A teenage boy living in Belarus is caught up in WWII battles, after joining the partisans. What he comes to see, from the opening scene of children digging amongst corpses on a battlefield to the final massacre of an entire village by German troops and SS men, is unrelenting horror and suffering.

It is a hard film to watch, and very long, but I recommend it as a way to understand Russia and its experience during the Second World War--and why it is etched in the soul of Russians still today. That Belarus was historically home to some of the largest Jewish population in Europe, completely wiped out by the Nazis, is alluded to in the film, as well. Perhaps, in this light Klimov's film carries another significance, as a way of understanding what it means when the leaders of one nation say they want to "wipe off the map" the people of another nation. It is something that Russians and Jews understand. Hitler's goal of lebensraum targeted first Jews, then Slavs. The film depicts how German farmers lived in homes belonging to massacred families of Belarus.

Klimov's style is jarring, expressionistic, and nightmarish. His concluding images of Hitler as a small boy, held in his mother's arms, clearly from family photos, are haunting.

A viewer realizes: Osama Bin Laden was once a small boy, too...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Islamists and the Naive

A reference in a New York Times article today about anti-terror raids in Denmark to a book by two Social Democrats titled "Islamists and the Naive" caught my eye--and raised a question: why haven't we seen an English translation yet?
In the message, the suspect, a recent convert to Islam, cited the authors of a new book, “Islamists and the Naïve,” which compares Islam to Nazism and communism.

It was written by Karen Jespersen, a former interior minister from the Social Democrat Party, and her husband, Ralf Pittelkow, a columnist for Jyllands-Posten. It was that newspaper that provoked Muslim fury last year when it was the first to publish cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad.

“Yes, there is fanaticism in Denmark and you have to ask yourself why the Danes are so hostile to foreigners,” the letter says. “The answer is very simple for us Muslims living here,” it continued, before mentioning Ms. Jespersen and Mr. Pittelkow, who was an adviser to Poul Nyrup Rasmussen when he was prime minister.

“He supports ridiculing people,” the e-mail message said of Mr. Pittelkow.

The book has created a sensation in Denmark, in part because its authors are former leftist intellectuals who once advocated tolerance but now argue that anyone underestimating the threat posed by Islam to Denmark and the West is naïve.

Some have criticized the book for incendiary language that mimics the style of the far-right Danish People’s Party, which advocates a zero-tolerance approach to immigration, and contends that Islam is incompatible with Denmark’s liberal values. Ms. Jespersen and Mr. Pittelkow did not return phone calls on Thursday.

Asked in an interview in Politiken on Saturday how she could equate Islam with Nazism and communism, Ms. Jespersen responded: “We compare it to underline what kind of forces we are up against. It doesn’t matter how many or how few there are. The link between politics and religion makes Islam a totalitarian movement, and it is gaining ground in the Middle East and Europe.”

Robert Spencer on CAIR

From JihadWatch (ht LGF):
But consider it from the infidel point of view for just a moment. Here you are in the Chicago Sun Times wringing your hands about "Islamophobia" and posing as a victim, when in fact several members of your organization have been arrested and convicted of various terrorism-related activities, and you no longer contest Anti-CAIR's characterization of CAIR as a "terrorist supporting front organization" that "wishes nothing more than the implementation of Sharia law in America" and is a group that was "founded by Hamas supporters which seeks to overthrow Constitutional government in the United States and replace it with an Islamist theocracy using our own Constitution as protection."

Can you see the cognitive dissonance there? I suspect you can. And don't think infidels haven't noticed it also. I believe that you, Mr. Hooper, are one of those who are responsible for the anger some non-Muslims feel toward Muslims today: these non-Muslims are not fools. They can see through posturing and disingenuousness. They see all the things that don't tally with your professed anti-terrorism, and see that you have never answered lingering questions about where your organization really stands. They can see how you trump up anti-Muslim hate crimes. But of course, I doubt any of this will cause you concern: after all, you are entirely willing to use that anger for your own purposes in the Chicago Sun Times, with Jim Ritter as your willing dupe.

As for the other posts you quoted, do you deny that Islam is a political movement? After all, did you yourself not say: "I wouldn't want to create the impression that I wouldn't like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future. But I'm not going to do anything violent to promote that. I'm going to do it through education." If you attain this goal, would this not entail altering the Constitution to bring it in line with Sharia on questions such as women's rights, the rights of non-Muslims, and other matters? As such, was the poster wrong to say that such an aspiration "contravenes the constitution and espouses treason"? If you deny this, are you prepared to renounce publicly the aspects of Sharia that do indeed contravene the Constitution?

As for the third comment, you could do a great deal to mitigate this hate by coming clean about CAIR, as explained above, and actively working to resist jihad terror, instead of working to obstruct anti-terror efforts.

From Agustin Blazquez

Speaking of movies, our favorite Cuban-American filmmaker, Agustin Blazquez, just sent us this:

In a recent interview, General Norman Schwartzkopf, was asked if he
thought there was room for forgiveness toward Hizbollah.
The General said: "I believe that forgiving Hizbollah is God's
function. The Israelis' job is to arrange the meeting"

When is TV Censorship Not Censorship?

Apparently when TV shows like The Path to 9/11 are cut to suit Democrats, if the current controversy over ABC's two-part docudrama is any indication. Persian-American screenwriter Cyrus Nowrasteh apparently teed off some powerful people from the Clinton administration, who demanded changes in the story. The Washington Post says that ABC has agreed to censor the film to make them happy. Here's a link to an interview with Nowrasteh from According to Wikipedia, producer Marc Platt's earlier credits include Pretty Woman, Jerry Maguire, Philadelphia, and Legally Blonde. So, I'd say he's not exactly a Republican Michael Moore.

Censored or not, it sounds extremely interesting. I'm glad someone is taking on the political and historical background to 9/11 rather than just milking the tragedy.

Since controversy sells newspapers, even a censorship controversy, like many Americans on Sunday night at 8, and again on Monday, someone I know and yours truly plan to be watching ABC's version of the road to 9/11...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Anti-Chechen Pogrom Rages in Russian Town reports that days of violence have driven Chechens from the Karelian town of Kondopoga following a double killing:
Violence shook the town of Kondopoga over the weekend after two people were killed earlier in the week in an apparent brawl at a restaurant allegedly owned by Chechens. Hundreds of locals gathered on Saturday to demand the expulsion of North Caucasus natives before a mob torched the restaurant and ransacked a marketplace.

Viktoria Veber, the head of Karelia's Islamic Enlightenment organization, said about 50 Chechens, mainly women and children, who were being housed at a tourist resort near the republic's capital, Petrozavodsk, had no money to pay for food and housing, with private entrepreneurs paying for them.

Veber said the refugees would not return to Kondopoga until they received guarantees of their safety. Most of them are relatives of Chechens detained on suspicion of killing two local residents, which triggered riots in the 35,000-city.

Christopher Hitchens on Niger, Uranium, and Saddam Hussein

On Slate, Hitchens has more to say about Niger's uranium business:
This is not the only such contact or approach that has been uncovered from the Niger end. Iraq had lots of off-the-record cash and lots of off-the-record cheap oil. What did Niger have to offer in return? (Remember that Joseph Wilson was recommended by his wife to investigate these people mainly on the grounds that he was so friendly with them!)

At a minimum, this would suggest that the Blair and Bush administrations were quite right to view the Iraq-Niger relationship with concern. At a maximum, it would suggest that the Niger connection was a great deal more significant—and more dangerous—than anyone has even suspected. (The A.Q. Khan network was not exposed until after Muammar Qaddafi's capitulation and the opening of the Libyan stockpiles, which in turn did not occur until after Saddam Hussein had been overthrown.)

In any conflict of evidence or interpretation between Rolf Ekeus and Wissam Zahawie, there cannot be a person living who would prefer Zahawie's word. In any evaluation of the Wilson visit to Niger, it must indeed be acknowledged that he found nothing—but only because he had neither the ability nor the intention to do so. This was yet another CIA "intelligence failure" in the making, and it follows that those who asked searching questions about the agency's role were doing exactly the right thing.

Bye, Bye, Blair...

Tony Blair has announced that he will step down as British prime minister, according to Reuters. What will he do next?

Here's a suggestion--Secretary-General of the United Nations...

Newt Gingrich: How Bush Resembles Lincoln

From today's Wall Street Journal, a reminder that Newt Gingrich is a trained historian. Unstated subtext: Rumsfeld resembles McClellan....
In April of 1861, in response to the firing on Fort Sumter, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to serve for 90 days. Lincoln had greatly underestimated the challenge of preserving the Union. No one imagined that what would become the Civil War would last four years and take the lives of 620,000 Americans.

By the summer of 1862, with thousands of Americans already dead or wounded and the hopes of a quick resolution to the war all but abandoned, three political factions had emerged. There were those who thought the war was too hard and would have accepted defeat by negotiating the end of the United States by allowing the South to secede. Second were those who urged staying the course by muddling through with a cautious military policy and a desire to be "moderate and reasonable" about Southern property rights, including slavery.

We see these first two factions today. The Kerry-Gore-Pelosi-Lamont bloc declares the war too hard, the world too dangerous. They try to find some explainable way to avoid reality while advocating return to "normalcy," and promoting a policy of weakness and withdrawal abroad.

Most government officials constitute the second wing, which argues the system is doing the best it can and that we have to "stay the course"--no matter how unproductive. But, after being exposed in the failed response to Hurricane Katrina, it will become increasingly difficult for this wing to keep explaining the continuing failures of the system.

Just consider the following: Osama bin Laden is still at large. Afghanistan is still insecure. Iraq is still violent. North Korea and Iran are still building nuclear weapons and missiles. Terrorist recruiting is still occurring in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and across the planet.

By late summer, 1862, Lincoln agonizingly concluded that a third faction had the right strategy for victory. This group's strategy demanded reorganizing everything as needed, intensifying the war, and bringing the full might of the industrial North to bear until the war was won.

The first and greatest lesson of the last five years parallels what Lincoln came to understand. The dangers are greater, the enemy is more determined, and victory will be substantially harder than we had expected in the early days after the initial attack. Despite how painful it would prove to be, Lincoln chose the road to victory. President Bush today finds himself in precisely the same dilemma Lincoln faced 144 years ago. With American survival at stake, he also must choose. His strategies are not wrong, but they are failing. And they are failing for three reasons.

Ann Coulter on Joe Wilson

Ann Coulter argues that Scooter Libby fell into Patrick Fitzgerald's "perjury trap." But why did Judy Miller go to jail? Something about this story remains unexplained...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Melanie Phillips on Britain's Fifth Column

From her column in the Daily Mail:
Warning bells are sounding across the Atlantic, with an article in America’s New Republic magazine claiming that Britain now poses a greater terror threat to America than Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan.

That absurd bit of hyperbole aside, the real surprise to me is that anyone is still surprised by the existence and scale of the home-grown British Islamic terrorist threat.

Three months ago, I published my book, Londonistan — which virtually the entire British publishing world had refused to touch — which warned about precisely this phenomenon.

Not only had Britain been allowed to become the hub of Al Qaeda in Europe, but the political and security establishment was still refusing to acknowledge the full dimensions of the threat. Of course, not all Muslims fit this pattern. Hundreds of thousands of British Muslims have no truck with Islamic extremism or terrorism, and across the world Muslims are numbered among its principal victims.

Nevertheless, the dismaying fact is that a horrifying number in Britain do harbour extremist views. According to a recent poll of British Muslims, no fewer than one quarter supported the London bombings in July last year. Yet even now, many in Britain still remain in a state of denial about the nature and implications of this threat. Politicians, police and security officials refuse to acknowledge that we are facing a holy war, an Islamic jihad, being waged against the West.

That doesn’t mean that all Muslims sign up to such a war; many regard it as a perversion of their faith. But the fact is that this terrorism is being perpetrated in the name of Islam and is condoned and even mandated by Islamic religious authorities.

And unless we understand that what drives people to these terrible acts is religious fanaticism — and is therefore not susceptible to reason, let alone negotiation — we cannot hope to defeat it.