Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun

Global Reach

American Pie in the Sky @ the Pizza Olympics

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Competitive dough-tossers showcase pizza skills Bradley Johnson, of United States, performs with his dough during the freestyle event, part of the Pizza World Championships, in Parma, northern Italy on Wednesday. The 22th edition of the championships run from April 15 to April 17.


Posted by gerardvanderleun at Apr 17, 2013 8:47 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: "I have great "water clock" of Osaka Station"
Continued...
Posted by gerardvanderleun at Jun 8, 2012 12:54 PM |  Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Tyrant's Flight? Or Just a Weekend Getaway?

Video purporting to be the exodus of Qaddafi and his minions from Tripoli to Sabha "about 480 miles due south." [Via Jewish Odysseus] Note: And now shown to be wishful thinking.

There's not that much you can really tell here except for a large lumbering motorhome being pursued across a desert landscape at high speed with a few military looking trucks bringing up the rear. Still, if an evil tyrant had to have a last redoubt and fortress of semi-solitude, Sabha would fit the bill.

Continued...
Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 26, 2011 2:39 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Virus Does Not Travel at the Speed of Tweet, But the Tweet of the Virus Does

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And that's just one stream flowing into the rising river of panic. Drudge did his level best to raise the flood yesterday when he managed, at one point, to stack about 10-15 headline links above the blood red screaming head.

But services like Bloombergare also doing their level best to conflate fact with fear:

"The first case was seen in Mexico on April 13. The outbreak coincided with the President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico City on April 16. Obama was received at Mexico’s anthropology museum in Mexico City by Felipe Solis, a distinguished archeologist who died the following day from symptoms similar to flu, Reforma newspaper reported. The newspaper didn’t confirm if Solis had swine flu or not."

Slap a face-mask on your keyboard, kids. There's going to be no escaping this tsunami of alarm online. It's everywhere and now it's here. But dropping your net connection will not inoculate you from the infovirus either.

How quickly can Swine Flu make you sick? About 90 minutes of CNN should do it.


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 26, 2009 8:04 AM |  Comments (23)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The War of Two Religions

Through the violent attacks of a Radical Islam, two religions have been brought into conflict. The first is that of Islam, a faith that at its core requires absolute submission from its adherents, and looks towards the subjugation of the world as its ultimate apotheosis. As the youngest of the monotheistic religions, Islam is at a point in its development that Christianity passed through centuries ago. And it is not with Christianity that Islam is currently at war. Islam is saving that for the mopping up phase of its current campaign. The religion that Islam has engaged is a much younger one, the religion of Freedom.

Continued...
Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 21, 2006 1:42 PM |  Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Breaking the Sound Barrier -- Underwater

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THIS GIVES NEW MEANING TO THE PHRASE, "You'll never even hear them coming."

Torpedoes and the Next Generation of Undersea Weapons

Anti-torpedo torpedoes will provide our future platforms with an additional defense capability. Their primary mission is to destroy incoming torpedo threats that may have gotten through a countermeasure field. Based on technology under development at ONR, a 6.25 inch-diameter self-protection weapon is under study for the defense of surface ships and submarines using supercavitation technology. The Advanced High Speed Underwater Munition (AHSUM) program has already demonstrated the effectiveness of such high-speed underwater bullets. Fired from an underwater gun, these projectiles have successfully broken the speed of sound in water (1,500 meters per second), bringing their future application much closer to reality. [Powerpoint graphics at link.]

Exactly how is this accomplished? It may have something to do with this description: "Using supercavitation techniques, the torpedo becomes an underwater missile… the water near the tip of the projectile – or torpedo – literally vaporizes from the high speed, producing a pocket in which to "fly" the weapon underwater."

More on supercavitation @ Warpdrive Underwater by Stephen Ashley in Scientific American, May, 2001.


Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 24, 2006 7:41 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Oxymoron of the Century (So Far)

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"Soft Power"

Wikipedia notes: "This article would benefit from a thorough revision." Volunteers of America ?


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 23, 2005 10:37 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Breakout

THE ASTUTE FINAL HISTORIAL @ HISTORY'S END looks to an Austin Bay item and sees the breakout phase in the WOT coming with The Seeds of War are Sown

I suppose all eyes are on Lebanon now, as the WoT moves into another phase. We are starting to see what I suppose could be called phase 3. Phase 1 was the removal of the Taliban and the pacification of Afghanistan. Phase 2 was the Iraq War, leading up to the election. Phase 3 is now the breakout phase, where the tentacles of freedom start spreading throughout the region. Because the fight, at the moment only ideological, is outside of Iraq, the fighting will soon migrate out of Iraq as well. Much of the fighting inside Iraq was sponsored and supported in Iran and Syria, now they will be slowly forced onto the defensive. Iraq was in itself an offensive operation, but tactically the US operated defensively after the fall of Baghdad. That is now changing. Containment has failed, and a wider war is inevitable. The only question now is exactly what that war will look like. Will Syria and Iran follow "Hama Rules?" And will the US retaliate with "Chicago Rules?"
A little foggy on "Chicago Rules?" Follow the link and get updated.


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 10, 2005 4:33 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Freedom for the Entire Middle East? Just How Much Fight Have We Got?

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white
with the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph drear: "A Fool lies here
who tried to hustle the East."

           -- Rudyard Kipling

LIKE ANY SENSIBLE MAN in this era of universal bad news, I tend to take any good news I can find, but I always try to take it with a grain of salt.

Over the month of February, the news about freedom and liberty has been especially good. An election in Iraq so triumphant that even the New York Times has been forced to acknowledge it. The continuing destruction of the terrorists in Iraq on a daily basis. Renewed hopes for a final and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace. Promises of greater freedom in Egypt and even Saudi Arabia from the ossified rulers of those primitive states. Movements of the masses to insist on liberty and freedom in Lebanon. Shake-ups in Syria. The continued reminders of the much-touted youth movement of Iran that's ready to replace the mullahs with MTV. And the fading of the "Arab street" as an operating cliche. All that's left is for Johnny Apple to eat congealed quagmire pie on Meet the Press and my little world will be complete.

All this makes me very happy, very pleased. It is delicious to be right, but even sweeter to say to one's opponents "I told you so." And in the last few days there's no shortage of those who were right about the attractions of liberty and freedom taking a victory lap around the media and the blogosphere with a rising chant of "Neener, neener, neener..."

All this makes me very nervous. It makes me nervous because it brings to mind the very narrow edge on which all this triumphalism is currently based: one successful election made possible by several hundred thousand of the best troops in the world.

I don't deny the triumph of the election nor the courage and desire for freedom of the Iraqis. I just worry that it has to be repeated, and repeated elsewhere, to really matter. I worry because it is not my impression that totalitarian regimes always go gently into that good night just because their people camp out in public squares in search of self-determination. A square named "Tiananmen" comes to mind in this regard. That, you will recall, did not end happily.

Continued...
Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 2, 2005 10:25 AM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
CNN's Not Just In Kansas Any Longer

Of Eason Jordan, Global Reach, the Rumsfeld Defense, and Going to the Videotape.

No matter where you travel in the world, you can always find three utterly American products. Coca-cola in the bars, stores, and restaurants, McDonalds hamburger palaces on the streets, and a local flavor of CNN on the television in your hotel room.

CNN is one America's dominant exports to the world because it always has local spin implanted. The brilliance of Eason Jordan's CNN is the melding of the concept of the American radio industry's "All News All the Time" with the equally American concept of Baskin & Robbins' "31 Flavors."

The CNN you watch in Amsterdam is not the same CNN you see in Los Angeles. The same is true for England and France and Italy and all points global. Local CNN reporters, editors, anchors and commentators take the feeds they receive and put them in play according to what they think their markets will like. This makes good business sense since an all-American CNN (If you can imagine such a thing.) is not likely to score high-ratings in Europe, Asia, or the Middle-East. Indeed, the only hard and accurate American news that viewers need in these areas need from CNN is carried in the NYSE stock-ticker crawl.

It's wise to bear this in mind when watching how the Eason Jordan incident plays out over the next few weeks. This isn't an All-American Bloggers Vs. MSM playoff for the Presidency. This is a Global Reach Super-Bowl.

At stake is not whether CNN has the power to influence American elections and foreign policy. That has, to some extent, been settled last November. The issue now is whether or not Eason Jordan's CNN will continue to have the power to influence the foreign policy of other nations, and their reactions to the policies of the United States and the shape of the operations of the United States military. This power CNN clearly possesses and wishes to hang onto. This "global reach" is, as Eason Jordan understands, the real CNN powerbase and revenue stream. This is the cohort that Jordan, characterized elsewhere as a "diplomat" as much as businessman, needs to soothe and placate and play to. And, if the reports of the reaction to his Davos talk last week are to be credited, he is being very successful. As a result, his position as head of CNN must be maintained by CNN at all costs. There's going to be no resignation here. It would simply be too costly to CNN in terms of Jordan's connections and standing with CNN countries outside the US proper.

Continued...
Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 7, 2005 9:39 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"That All Should Have an Equal Chance"

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"I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. . . . I have often inquired of myself what great principle or idea it was that kept the United States so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the mother land, but that something in the Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance." -- Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural

Continued...
Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 29, 2005 10:38 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Inagural Leak: Iraq Exit Strategy Unveiled

Barbara Boxer: And you have not laid out an exit strategy. You've not set up a timetable.
Condi Rice: Well, if you insist.

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Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 19, 2005 1:30 PM |  Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Charity Begins Abroad

Every day, in every way, The Diplomad gets better and better. Could it be that it employs a very simple technique? The truth.

In Jakarta, aside from flags at half-staff, we have seen no signs of mourning for the victims: while employees and dependents of the American embassy spent their holiday loading trucks and putting together medicine kits, the city's inhabitants went ahead with New Year's parties; nightclubs and shopping centers are full; and regular television programming continues. At least 120,000 of their fellow countrymen are dead, and Indonesians hardly talk about it, much less engage in massive charitable efforts. The exceptionally wealthy businessmen of the capital -- and the country boasts several billionaires -- haven't made large donations to the cause of Sumatran relief; a few scattered NGOs have done a bit, but there are no well-organized drives to raise funds and supplies. We have seen nothing akin to what happened in the USA following the 9/11 atrocity, or the hurricanes in Florida of this past year.

The Sri Lankan's words echo in my mind every day, ""Why do we want to bother with this? We all know you Americans will do everything." With the exception of handful of Western countries, most of the world would appear inhabited by the sort of Eloi-type creatures depicted in that old sci-fi flick based on H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, passively watching as flood waters or Morlocks drag their fellows away.

Begging the pardon of the cultural relativists, but might we not be allowed to raise -- ever so gently, of course -- the possibility that these differing reactions to human suffering, show Western civilization as the best we have on the planet? Maybe, just maybe Western civilization is morally superior.


Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 9, 2005 11:26 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
HPVES: A Life Form That Cries Out for Extinction

To live in Manhattan for any length of time is to know just how disgusting the people that make up the United Nations really are. You are reminded, not by the large issues such as corruption and bribery, but by the small ones. The constant little motorcades of insignificant functionaries of irrelevant countries scurrying to or from an unessential meeting or cocktail reception. The "Diplomatic" plates given to the cars of the seventh son of the second wife of the "Honorable" and Abominable No-man. The palatial luxury seen at townhouses purchased with a poor country's money for the chief diplomat's first son's mistress. You see it all. You attend the receptions. You listen to the chatter. And, if you are not so inclined at the beginning, you become -- over time -- revolted by the whole vile charade of treating a tower of kleptocrats to the best views, housing and restuarants in Manhattan for the sake of "continuing the dialogue." Indeed, you come to understand that they are, all, root and branch, the lifeforms so ably described in Diplomad in The "Turd" World And The High Priest Vulture Elite:

Continued...
Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 7, 2005 11:22 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Toll

Here, courtesy of Todd Binder, is a graphic representation of 1,000 bodies.

Only the beginning. What do 135,0000 150,000 bodies look like all stacked up? Click here and find out.

[H/T via Steel]


Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 1, 2005 11:24 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
While You Were Sleeping

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ALL EYES TURN TOWARDS BEANTOWN THIS WEEK, BUT "Workers lower a ground-based missile interceptor into its silo at Fort Greely, Alaska, on Thursday. The interceptor was installed in Alaska's Interior -- the first component of a national defense system designed to shoot down enemy missiles. Ten more will be installed by late 2005, launching the Bush administration's multibillion dollar system." -- Frontline Photos

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Turkish Ship To Enter Philadelphia
Jul 25, 2004 10:19 am US/Eastern
PHILADELPHIA (AP) A Turkish ship is now being allowed to enter the Port of Philadelphia, days after a bomb scare led authorities to send it to the Delaware Bay.

Authorities found no explosives and the ship's captain was later charged with making a false statement. Police say he told them there was a bomb on board that was set to explode.

The F-B-I says the 46-year-old became agitated during a Coast Guard inspection. The ship was turned around and held at a safe anchorage point near Bowers Beach on the Delaware Bay.

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The Los Angeles-class attack submarine Dallas departs Souda Bay Harbor, Crete, on Monday following a brief port visit. The Dallas is home-ported in Groton, Conn., and currently is on a routine deployment. Frontline Photos
===

Not to worry. We're sure to get a winner one of these days.


Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 25, 2004 11:42 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Little Document Here, A Little Sarin There, Some Mustard Gas Over There, a Televised Beheading: Pretty Soon You're Talking About Real Problems

OPINION JOURNAL REPORTS ON THE long and tedious operation of finding and reading Saddam's Files

Coalition forces have found--literally--millions of documents. These papers are still being sorted, translated and absorbed, but they are already turning up new facts about Saddam's links to terrorism.

We realize that even raising this subject now is politically incorrect. It is an article of faith among war opponents that there were no links whatsoever--that "secular" Saddam and fundamentalist Islamic terrorists didn't mix.

We'll soon find out that they did mix, but then the standard chant will be that "they didn't mix enough." When we find that they mixed often and frequently and are, indeed, mixing today to kill our soldiers, the chant will change to "they need to mix more."

So it goes. You cannot wise up fools.


Posted by Vanderleun at May 28, 2004 1:20 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Little Document Here, A Little Sarin There, Some Mustard Gas Over There, a Televised Beheading: Pretty Soon You're Talking About Real Problems

OPINION JOURNAL REPORTS ON THE long and tedious operation of finding and reading Saddam's Files

Coalition forces have found--literally--millions of documents. These papers are still being sorted, translated and absorbed, but they are already turning up new facts about Saddam's links to terrorism.

We realize that even raising this subject now is politically incorrect. It is an article of faith among war opponents that there were no links whatsoever--that "secular" Saddam and fundamentalist Islamic terrorists didn't mix.

We'll soon find out that they did mix, but then the standard chant will be that "they didn't mix enough." When we find that they mixed often and frequently and are, indeed, mixing today to kill our soldiers, the chant will change to "they need to mix more."

So it goes. You cannot wise up fools.


Posted by Vanderleun at May 28, 2004 1:20 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Where We Are Now

IN ANOTHER OF A SERIES OF BRILLIANT OBSERVATIONS, Belmont Club shows us where on the battlefield we are. Indeed, he shows us exactly what the "battlefield" has become:

" [F]oreign battlefields and home front have merged into one integrated area of operations. There is now no real distinction between winning the "media war" and cleaning out a sniper's nest in Ramadi; between Abu Ghraib the prison and Abu Ghraib the media event. Many readers have criticized the Belmont Club's An Intelligence Failure as being too "soft" on the liberal press, arguing that the media's distortions are not simply the effect of incompetence but the result of a deliberate campaign of partisan information. Doubtless many in the liberal press harbor symmetrical resentments. Yet I have held back from framing the argument in these terms until I could place it in the framework of Col. Leonhard's concept of a global battlefield: one in which the WTC towers and the New York Times newsroom are front line positions no less than any corner in Baghdad; and where victory is measured not simply by the surrender of arms but the capitulation of ideas. We have begun the 21st century just as we inaugurated the 20th: at the edge of old familiar places and on the brink of the unknown.


Posted by Vanderleun at May 28, 2004 11:57 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Where We Are Now

IN ANOTHER OF A SERIES OF BRILLIANT OBSERVATIONS, Belmont Club shows us where on the battlefield we are. Indeed, he shows us exactly what the "battlefield" has become:

" [F]oreign battlefields and home front have merged into one integrated area of operations. There is now no real distinction between winning the "media war" and cleaning out a sniper's nest in Ramadi; between Abu Ghraib the prison and Abu Ghraib the media event. Many readers have criticized the Belmont Club's An Intelligence Failure as being too "soft" on the liberal press, arguing that the media's distortions are not simply the effect of incompetence but the result of a deliberate campaign of partisan information. Doubtless many in the liberal press harbor symmetrical resentments. Yet I have held back from framing the argument in these terms until I could place it in the framework of Col. Leonhard's concept of a global battlefield: one in which the WTC towers and the New York Times newsroom are front line positions no less than any corner in Baghdad; and where victory is measured not simply by the surrender of arms but the capitulation of ideas. We have begun the 21st century just as we inaugurated the 20th: at the edge of old familiar places and on the brink of the unknown.


Posted by Vanderleun at May 28, 2004 11:57 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Fab Fiving Iraq

MICHAEL BOWEN offers up some astute cross-cultural analysis in Extreme Makeover: Iraq Edition

Going one step further into the murky realm of analyzing the American temperament, I would venture to say that the attitude of these producers might be shared with the producers of Gulf War II. As with Extreme Makeovers, there are limits to how much happiness material comforts bring. And since only Americans undergo chemical change when presented with a miraculous physical change, I'm sure a fair number of neocons were disappointed to find an insufficient number of Iraqi citizens screaming and weeping for joy. Maybe 'Oh My God' doesn't translate well into Arabic and/or Islam. As a neocon squarely in ideological agreement with the PNAC, I've been disappointed, but not bitterly.


Posted by Vanderleun at May 27, 2004 9:20 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Fab Fiving Iraq

MICHAEL BOWEN offers up some astute cross-cultural analysis in Extreme Makeover: Iraq Edition

Going one step further into the murky realm of analyzing the American temperament, I would venture to say that the attitude of these producers might be shared with the producers of Gulf War II. As with Extreme Makeovers, there are limits to how much happiness material comforts bring. And since only Americans undergo chemical change when presented with a miraculous physical change, I'm sure a fair number of neocons were disappointed to find an insufficient number of Iraqi citizens screaming and weeping for joy. Maybe 'Oh My God' doesn't translate well into Arabic and/or Islam. As a neocon squarely in ideological agreement with the PNAC, I've been disappointed, but not bitterly.


Posted by Vanderleun at May 27, 2004 9:20 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
UK Aligns with US in Culture War

"The Minister was announcing the latest Culture Online project, MadforArts, which will provide a forum for thousands of people with experience of mental health issues to give their views on a piece of art, architecture or music." -- UK Ministry of Culture

We've had that program for years, we call it the National Endowment for the Arts.


Posted by Vanderleun at May 25, 2004 10:53 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
UK Aligns with US in Culture War

"The Minister was announcing the latest Culture Online project, MadforArts, which will provide a forum for thousands of people with experience of mental health issues to give their views on a piece of art, architecture or music." -- UK Ministry of Culture

We've had that program for years, we call it the National Endowment for the Arts.


Posted by Vanderleun at May 25, 2004 10:53 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Vanguard of a Flotilla of Lies"

A SERIES OF ASTUTE OBSERVATIONS ON THE NEW FACE OF WAR at the Belmont Club

The campaign in Iraq has hardly scratched American strength, which has in fact grown more potent in operational terms over the intervening period. Nor has it materially affected the US manpower pool or slowed the American economy, which is actually growing several times faster than France, which is not militarily engaged. The defeat being advertised by the press is a wholly new phenomenon: one which leaves the vanquished army untouched and the victor devastated; the economy of the vanquished burgeoning and that of the victor in destitution; the territory of the loser unoccupied and that of the winner garrisoned. It is an inversion of all the traditional metrics of victory and defeat. That the assertion is not instantly ludicrous is an indication of the arrival of a new and potentially revolutionary form of political wafare.


Posted by Vanderleun at May 17, 2004 10:12 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Smooth Move

ABCNEWS.com : Report: U.S. to Shift 4,000 Troops from S.Korea to Iraq

The United States plans to withdraw an army brigade based in South Korea and deploy the 4,000 troops in Iraq, the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported on Monday.
[snip]
South Korea has delayed the deployment of 3,000 of its troops to Iraq, which was approved three months ago, amid concerns over security and where they will be stationed.
I guess now they'll be stationed on the North/South border in Korea, when their security will be assured.


Posted by Vanderleun at May 16, 2004 9:02 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What Is to Be Done?

DEMOSOPHIA, a page that should get more attention than it does, puts a cold eye on the current Bush policy in Iraq. He wisely asks What Advantage Is There In Preserving A Lie? For those of us who cannot support the degenerate thing that has become the Democratic party and are thus stuck with at least tacitly supporting the Bush administration, this is about to become the singe most important political question of the next few months: What advantage is there in preserving a lie?

Here's what Demosophia has to say about it:

I have to say that a big part of my own fatigue is that much of the modest effort I, and the far greater effort and value that others, make to explicate and support this President's policy is accepted gratuitously without thanks or acknowledgement, while he doesn't appear to even pull his share of the load. It isn't a huge stretch to call him "aloof," and it's curious that at this genuinely critical juncture he chooses to be largely absent from public view.

Leaders lead, and I would prefer to serve someone with a better political sense, or at least a political sense. The upside, of course, is that I get to keep my own council and don't have to conform to a party line.

But I too grow weary of constantly defending the rescue of a culture that fails to cough up this Zarqawi like the filthy and degenerate hairball that he is. Could such a character remain at large here for longer than a week or two? And if he finds such great refuge within a society that can't even manage to claim a $20M reward for turning him in what in the world am I doing entertaining the vain notion that such a society can be reformed at all? What business do I have making such demands on our troops? Let the Arab Middle East descend into the pit if they choose, and if they choose we'll deal with it then, not with a rescue but a shovel.

So no, Abu Ghraib wasn't the primary burden for me. It was the barbaric "execution" of Nick Berg. I feel as though we need to make a few things clear to this culture that nearly 1,000 of our best, brightest, and bravest have died to benefit. We want those wretched persons in the photo with Nick Berg in our hands by date certain, or we leave. That's the "referendum" that will, in fact, mean something. And if we leave, and ever see that medievalst threat approach our civilization in larger form and aspect, what you'll hear from us is the utter silence of speechless alienation, and the click of a billion TV sets switching off, and finally the cascading and overlapping light splashes of precision-targetted thermonuclear amnesia.

All your options, and all our options are here in this moment and no other, so don't think our dilemma isn't yours. We are committed if you are. And if you are not, we'll find a way to strain the radioactivity from the oil when you're no longer sensibly present. We aren't here as Crusaders to take your land or resources. We could have that cheaply, by simply taking it. We're here as a brother civilization to lend a hand, and only insist that you find a way to tame the impulse to bite that hand off. It's a small thing, but the alternative isn't a pony. It's a long long road alone, and ultimately if you cause us grief, oblivion. It won't be our choice. It is yours.

In a just world, these thoughts would not be words on a webpage, but national policy.


Posted by Vanderleun at May 14, 2004 2:15 PM |  Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Syria. The First Step, but Not the Last


"THE DOGS BARK, but the caravan moves on."

By Executive Order

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, hereby determine that the actions of the Government of Syria in supporting terrorism, continuing its occupation of Lebanon, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining United States and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.
This document was issued on the 11th of this month while the attention of our major media was on the less-than-history making issues surrounding digital cameras in an Iraq prison. The formal language of the entire order, found at the link above, is of course highly general and in and of itself merely a symbolic gesture.

It is also a foundation for future action as the always astute Belmont Club notes: "Whether the Syrian sanctions and operations against Fallujah and Najaf are battle-shaping activities for the next phase of the Global War on Terror or simply temporizing, as Ralph Peters seems to feel, is the real strategic mystery. It is one whose answer we desperately need to know, and probably will in due time."


Posted by Vanderleun at May 14, 2004 7:11 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Sherman to Sunni Triangle: Leave Now

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"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms
than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it."

At the height of the Civil War, the Union General W. T. Sherman captured Atlanta, and declared it "... to be a military encampment and ordered the civilians to leave the city. He made arrangements with Hood for safe passage of these civilians, that because of where they lived, no matter if they had Confederate or Union sympathies, they could not remain in their homes if they were within the city of Atlanta.[Citation] The civic leaders of the city protested this order but Sherman declined to rescind it. In a famous letter he set forth his reasons.

Today, with American forces engaged in a war of attrition in Iraq, one clear course, indeed the only course, is to return to a full war footing in certain areas of that country.

Should this come to pass, the most obvious operation would be the reduction of the Sunni Triangle through a massive show of force. In keeping with the current policy of limiting collateral damage, the Army would be well advised to order the area evacuated of all civilians.

Taking a page from history, if Gen. Sherman were commanding in the field today in Iraq, this might be the letter he would write to the leaders of the people in the Sunni Triangle.

HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION of IRAQ in the FIELD
Sunni Triangle, Iraq
To Leaders of the Iraqi People:

Gentleman:
I have your letter of the 11th, in the nature of a petition to revoke my orders removing all the inhabitants from the Sunni Triangle. I have read it carefully, and give full credit to your statements of distress that will be occasioned, and yet shall not revoke my orders, because they were not designed to meet the humanities of the cause, but to prepare for the future struggles in which billions of good people outside of Iraq have a deep interest.

We must have peace, not only in Iraq and America, but in all the world. To secure this, we must stop the war that now desolates our once happy and favored planet.

To stop war, we must defeat the terrorist armies which are arrayed against the laws and rules of civilization that all must respect and obey.

To defeat those armies, we must prepare the way to reach them in their recesses, provided with the arms and instruments which enable us to accomplish our purpose.

Continued...
Posted by Vanderleun at May 11, 2004 9:57 AM |  Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Lileks Joins The Victory Coalition

THIS JUST IN: In a sweeping night raid that has left our enemies in a smoking heap of shambles, and filled the air with the lamentations of their women, LILEKS (James) has dropped THE BIG ONE for The Victory Coaliton.

Now we've got it all: taste, discernment, and regrettable food. Unless those opposing us surrender, we shall lob Corned Beef Salad Loaves in their general direction.


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 27, 2004 11:26 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What's in Store for Fallujah

The always thoughtful and fascinating Belmont Club has a detailed scenario on what has been happening and what is likely to happen in Fallujah.

" Mortensen's earlier story indicated the Marines were returning to positions north; since it is known that they already hold positions south it seems clear that the enemy is now squeezed from two sides and is probably contained in the northeast corner of Fallujah, an area full of meandering streets and mosques. The enemy would prefer a linear American advance, hoping as in the case of Jenin, to mine buildings and blow them up as Americans occupy them. Not wanting to oblige, the USMC is mounting relatively small probes forcing the enemy to react. The current Marine strategy is ripping up the mobile defense. The company plus unit which attacked the platoon is probably no more. However, it will not be long before the enemy must retreat into a continuous perimeter, as his manpower dwindles to the point where a mobile defense is no longer viable. The remaining enemy forces are probably in the battalion plus range. And then the ghost of the Shuri line will rear up, in which there were no other option but to go directly into the teeth of the defense. The density of the defense displayed in the recent encounter may mean that time is near.
Belmont's conclusions about what will happen at that time are sobering.


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 27, 2004 9:42 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Der Kultur Var Iz Kaput
"The culture war is over, and American values reign supreme, even over our most dedicated foe!"


-- Dave Trowbridge @ Redwood Dragon -- via IP


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 25, 2004 6:06 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"The Marines Don't Fire First."

Freelance photographer Lynsey Addario narrates a slide show of a her photographs taken with a Marine patrol Under Fire in Iraq.


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 20, 2004 12:29 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
New Spanish Foreign Policy: Text & Subtext

TEXT:
"These circumstances have led me to take the decision to order the return of our troops with the maximum safety and thus in the shortest time possible.

"Driven by the deepest democratic convictions, the government does not want to, cannot and will not act against or behind the backs of the will of the Spanish people."
-- Jos Luis Rodrguez Zapatero

SUBTEXT:
We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone!
-- Howard Beale in Prophet Mode : Network (1976)


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 19, 2004 10:56 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Two Pages from The Hamas Songbook

Imagine me and you and you and me
No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be
The only one for me is you, and you for me
So happy together

So happy together
How is the weather
So happy together
We're happy together
So happy together
Happy together
So happy together
So happy together (ba-ba-ba-ba ba-ba-ba-ba.....)

-- The Turtles


Reunited and it feels so good
Reunited 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited 'cause we're reunited, hey, hey

-- Peaches and Herb


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 18, 2004 8:01 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Help Build the Anti-AlJazeera

The admirable Spirit of America is asking for donations to help the US Marines build a television station as an alternative information source in the Sunni Triangle. It's time to put up some money as your part in the fight to win some hearts and minds.

req_12.jpg
"News broadcasts in Iraq can be biased, inaccurate and incomplete - to put it mildly. Your contribution will create a television alternative owned and operated by Iraqis. This will provide better information, counter efforts to provoke and help reduce tensions."

Read more and donate Here.


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 14, 2004 8:08 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Rattle of the Teacups

Mark Styen says: "Don't let Iraq's tempest in a teacup rattle you."

The passivity of the Arabs, the sensitivity of the coalition and the defeatism of the media is a potentially disastrous combination. Rattling teacups gets you a bad press from CNN and the BBC. But they give you a bad press anyway. And in Iraq, the non-rattling of the teacups is received by the locals not as cultural respect from Bush and Blair but as weakness. In that cafe in Fallujah, as a parodic courtesy, the patron switched the flickering black-and-white TV from an Arabic station to the BBC, which as usual was full of doom and gloom.

The Iraqis will go with the winning side. And, though the Americans had a bad week last week, the insurgents had a worse one, losing as many men in seven days as U.S. forces did in the last year. The best way to make plain you're the winning side is to crush the other guys -- and rattle their teacups so loudly even CNN can't paint it as a setback.




Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 11, 2004 3:31 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"Okay, Break's Over! Everyone in Spain Back on Their Heads."

Caption on Getty Images

MADRID, SPAIN: A picture taken 06 April 2004 in Madrid shows a page of the Spanish newspaper ABC publishing a letter purporting to be from Al-Qaeda and warning Spain to withdraw its forces immediately from Iraq and Afghanistan or face "hellish" consequences. "The Spanish state has continued its aggressions against Muslims in sending new troops to Iraq and announcing its intention to send new units to Afghanistan," the ABC newspaper quoted the Arabic language letter as saying. It said it received the fax on Saturday signed by "Abu Dujana Al-Afgani (of the) Ansar Al-Qaeda Europe group" which announced it was scrapping a "truce" designed to give Spain time to remove its forces.
From: Getty Images


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 7, 2004 9:07 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Wilsonian Dreams, Jacksonian Realities

In his Monday morning warm-up for the week to come Andrew Sullivan cycles back to the 'too-few-troops in Iraq' observation:

More and more, it seems hard to avoid inferring that we made one huge mistake: not in liberating Iraq, but in attempting to occupy it with relatively few troops. You have to have unquestioned security before any sort of democracy can begin to function. But, under the Rumsfeld plan, we never had the numbers or resources to do precisely that.
As I recall, this observation of "not enough boots on the ground" has been around since well before the actual invasion of Iraq last year. It seems to me to be an argument that misses the point. I don't ever recall generals complaining that they had too many men and were satisfied with the number of men they had. In war onne would always like to have more soldiers. But there are not always more troops to be had and at some point generals are told to do what they can with those they do have.

So on one side, there's a constant call for more troops from an already over-extended military that squanders large numbers of troops by stationing them in places that need little defense, such as Europe. On the other side, there's the instruction -- notably within the Rumsfeld camp -- to do more with less -- the "No more hires, let's just up our productivity!" argument. A resolution might be found if you could somehow bring the "level of force" camp into agreement with the "use of force" camp -- a "more with more" meets "more with less" concord.

But a "more with more" and "more with less" compromise cannot currently exist for two reasons. The first is a political environment which precludes a "more with more" argument to be advanced in an election year. For while it is clear that to carry the task of the nation forward beyond Iraq in the First Terrorist War, the military needs to expand significantly, any significant expansion touches on two elements -- money and (instant political death) the draft.

Many things will be discussed this year but neither increased military spending nor a draft will be among them, even though the contingency plans for both are no doubt already sitting somewhere in the Pentagon -- complete with fresh Power Point presentations. And while it would be possible for either a Kerry or a Bush to muscle through more military spending following an election, only a second-term President could move to reinstate the draft, and for that even he would need a triggering event.

That leaves "more with less" as the only effective current option in the First Terrorist War. But, frankly, "more with less" cannot be accomplished either. And this second reason our efforts towards victory are hampered is the real elephant in the Oval Office.

What weakens our military the most in the occupation of Iraq and elsewhere in the First Terrorist War is not our enemy, but our present doctrines of force. What weakens us is not so much the numbers of our forces, but the rules of engagement that inhibit the power of these forces from being fully deployed.

The full deployment of US battle space is something any enemy of the United States seeks to avoid at all costs. This is because anything that comes within a deployed US battle space is quickly and decisively destroyed. To defeat the United States, an enemy needs to be able to prevent the space from being deployed, seek to operate outside it, or to leave it at speed. In any case, the enemy depends upon the United States following its announced rules of engagement to survive in a war against it. He has seldom been disappointed in recent memory.

The overarcing rules or policies of engagement are based on two long standing fantasies of the United States government, its military and its people. The first fantasy is that we can be victorious and still minimize casualties among our troops. The second fantasy is that we can be victorious and avoid any significant collateral damage.

While either one of these fantasies alone might have some reality, both together add up to pure delusion. A delusion that flatters us and our vision of ourself as a kind and caring nation, but a delusion just the same. Our shared delusion is that, with enough planning and care, you can have a war where only the enemy dies; that you can have cake all around and on the house and the same cake tomorrow. A new American dream.

This dream has been the hope of a number of administrations, Republican and Democrat, for decades. It is a Wilsonian dream.** But it is, as we have seen, see now and will see later, only a long nightmare with a pleasant smile. The four American bodies turn into charred pinatas in Fallujah last week show us the nightmare inside our dream. The daily toll on our troops across Iraq show us the futility of our hope. Still we are pressing on with that hope in hand as our guiding policy. We persist in the belief that our technology and careful military planning will yield us, very soon now, that Utopian wars where only the enemy dies. Our military dream arises from our social dream that our advanced technology will, in the end, trump history.

The reality is that a technologically driven Utopia, civilian and military, will prove, as it always has, to be a dream defered. Instead our waking reality will be that every day we shall see an indeterminate number of Americans sacrificed to this foolish dream until, in one manner or another, the people or our leaders decide that enough have died and the quest for too much perfection is a mistake.

At that point, two options arise. The first is withdrawal into our homeland with an ABM roof and the hope that the world will somehow right itself, but that our military will remain safe to be used only to repair the annual flood damage or hurricane catastrophe. The second is to abandon the concept that global wars can be won with either few casualties or little collateral damage, but not both, and proceed accordingly.

One of the central premises of our enemies in the First Terrorist War holds that we cannot abide casualties and, if large enough or constant enough, America will prove itself unable to face the unremitting attrition of our military men and women. We know this because they have told us.

It is not important that the sum total of our losses be large, only that they are constant. In this, the morbid daily "salutes" on PBS and other media outlets for the one to ten soldiers a day who die in Iraq works in our enemies' favor. (It is worth reflecting that, if this were a war where we engage other armies similarly equipped, the losses on a daily basis would consume more air-time than available for the entire news report. The first few moments at Normandy in WW II were more costly in casualties than the first decade of the First Terrorist War.)

Numbers, in the final analysis, are not the point. What is important is the continuing perception of loss that our enemy counts on to weaken our resolve. Indeed, attrition in Iraq coupled with no attacks on American soil during the election year would seem to be a fruitful tactic for our enemies to pursue. To date they have, but it is best never to credit them with more intelligence than they possess.

Another premise on which our enemies depend in attacking us in Iraq is that the American military will go to great lengths to avoid collateral damage; that it will even sacrifice the safety, fighting strength and ability of our own troops to do so. The tactics and strategies of the Terrorist organizations center around this assumption. To date, their assumption has proved correct.* Regardless of the much trumpeted "lesson of Iraq" to other rogue nations, towns, regions and entire nations continue today to give refuge, munitions, training and rest areas to terrorists secure in the knowledge that we will not pursue them with all the force at our command. Not only do the terrorists feel safe in many areas behind their "human shields," the shields feel safe as well.

In tactical terms this means we cannot attack their fighting elements or their lines of resupply aggressively. In strategic terms it means that their centers of cultural and political and military strength remain safe from any devastating raids from the air or the land. What they have forced us to play at is a fantasy WWII where Japan and Germany were placed off-limits to military action, while we sought victory by fighting only on the edges of the conflict. This is a recipe tailor-made for a war without end and, had we followed it in WWII, endless war we would have had.

Today, endless war is what we are looking at. It is not so much that we have or do not have an "exit strategy" for Iraq, what we do not have -- hamstrung as we are in the Siamese-Twin policy of "low-to-no military casualties" joined at the head to "low-to-no collateral damage" -- is a strategy that will end the First Terrorist War.

Perhaps we do have a new strategy in hand, but it is not one that can be announced in an election year absent a triggering attack on United States' soil. Absent that, what is now will continue at least through November of this year. Our enemies will continue their attacks on our military such as we see today in Iraq. Our enemies will continue their attacks on civilian populations such as we saw on September 11 in 2001 and in Madrid of this year. They will continue to rely on us to seek to keep our military casualties low and their civilian populations and centers of social and cultural safe from any real harm. As it currently stands, it is safer to be a muslim in Saudi Arabia and Syria, than a citizen of France or Spain.Our enemies rely on us to, in short, react as Isreal has done to terrorism for decades. We have, to date, been at pains not to disappoint.

Our enemies depend on us to continue to react in the Wilsonian tradition of being the sort of Americans that only seek to give the gifts of freedom, democracy, and self-rule to a collection of peoples that cannot earn it in their own right. They depend on us to hold our Jacksonian tradition of waging total war on our enemies in check. Total war, brought to innocent civilians, using all the means at their command is something that our enemies reserve as their sole prerogative. We have, to date, proven to be dependable.

Our enemies see us as an impatient, wary, predictable giant unable to withstand constant light casualties, constantly fearful of civilian losses at home, and yet unwilling to wage total war against them and the villages, cities, nations and cultures that sustain them. Is their confidence in this assessment misplaced? Or have they read us correctly? The coming year will tell that tale. What comes after will shape the history of the century to come.

===
* As this is being written on April 5, military actions in Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq may signal that the safety of terrorists within village or city strongholds is being questioned. Whether this signals a change in the overall policy of allowing the enemy to maintain its centers is doubtful. That it signals a tactical change in Iraq is more certain. Whether those tactics will be exported beyond the present needs in Iraq is unclear.

** For an excellent background item on the Wilsonian vs. Jacksonian traditions in American foreign policy, I would commend you to: Michael Totten's "Are the Jacksonians Sated?" at Tech Central.


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 5, 2004 8:33 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Does a People Have to Worthy of Democracy to Recieve It?

Except from a fascinating email from a person in Baghdad working for the transition to democracy, as reproduced by the recipient at The Belgravia Dispatch

"Of course I know what federalism means," the cleric scoffed, "it comes from the Greek root meaning unitary state." Unclear on the precise etymology myself, I let this slide, and tried to get back to the principle of our discussion. So it's a good thing, I prompted, don't you think? The room erupted again into unhappy murmers, and he stared back at me with a stony look that let me know I'd missed the apparently classic Arab double-entendre. Oh, I continued as if I'd just stumbled on the actual meaning of the word, you mean it's actually a backroom deal, reached conspiratorally, that ensures a tyranny of the minority? His face lit up and his eyes warmed considerably. The growing roar of murmers ebbed back to silence, broken only by the angry footsteps of a Kurdish participant who got up and left. Things were going badly--I should have guessed this by my translator's increasing nervousness and the growing visibility of our plainclothes security staff around the exits of an otherwise sleepy Baghdad auditorium--but I pressed on. Can it really mean both things? Why don't you just tell me what you really think? An impolitic question, sometimes, in the New Iraq.

Old men here can be generous. Younger ones can be less so. A fiery youth cut to the chase: "why do I need your democracy when I have other options?" he shouted.


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 4, 2004 3:49 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Rout of Spain Starts in the Iraqi Plain

The erudite Belmont Club calls the Spanish withdrawl what it is, a rout.

What will now overtake the Spanish command through no fault of its own soldiers is a rout. This occurs when a force is chased off the battlefield in increasing disorder. Once the retrograde movement begins, enemy harassment is redoubled and the retreating force is ultimately pursued to the very point of embarkation and there is no reason pursuit must end when it returns to Spain. A rout can only be stemmed when a retreating army turns on its enemies and puts them to flight. This Zapatero will not allow. He is committed, for reasons of ideology, to a policy of surrender and now the Spanish command, and the United States indirectly, must harvest its bitter fruit.


Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 4, 2004 3:38 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
On Fallujah
The opening paragraph, however, in the light of later information, strikes me now as ominous. He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, 'must necessarily appear to them [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings -- we approach them with the might of a deity,' and so on, and so on. 'By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded,' etc., etc. From that point he soared and took me with him. The peroration was magnificent, though difficult to remember, you know. It gave me the notion of an exotic Immensity ruled by an august Benevolence. It made me tingle with enthusiasm. This was the unbounded power of eloquence -- of words -- of burning noble words. There were no practical hints to interrupt the magic current of phrases, unless a kind of note at the foot of the last page, scrawled evidently much later, in an unsteady hand, may be regarded as the exposition of a method. It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: 'Exterminate all the brutes!' -- Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Posted by Vanderleun at Apr 2, 2004 11:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Autumn of the Mid-East Process Queens:

Restating the Goal in Isreal and Palestine

In a morally hamstrung article replowing Hannah Arendts banality of evil turf, LA Times Op-Ed Editor Nicholas Goldberg writes of The Subtle Shades of Villainy. Caught between reality and the Lefts fantasy ideology and world view, Goldbergs conclusion is a question:

I don't feel sympathy for Yassin. He was a soldier in a war of his own choosing, and it killed him. But the cause of peace is not served by provocative, macho and arguably illegal moves, and it's hard to see how Yassin's assassination qualifies as anything else. Peace may seem distant, but it is still the goal, isn't it?
Goldberg means that to be a rhetorical question but it seems to me it becomes more interesting if the rhetorical is stripped out.

It is comforting to assume that peace is the goal in the Israel/Palestinian struggle. Indeed, all voices -- right, left, sincere, insincere, Israeli, Palestinian -- speak, as they have spoken for decades now, of "the peace process." This is a process that we are always within, a process that like some sick mobius strip loops infinitely in only one dimension. We are either moving the peace process forward or retarding the peace process. The peace process is moribund or the peace process is revitalized. There are dozens of ways to parse the peace process, and we have heard them all in heavy rotation for some time. All of this assumes that through the peace process peace is still the goal, isnt it?

The last week and the stated policy of Isreal to kill the Hamas leadership seems to me to signal that while peace may still be the goal, it is the peace process that has been abandoned. Rightly so and a bit late, but abandoned still.

It seems to me that the new goal is not peace through process, but peace through victory; a clear acknowledgement that Israel will no longer play a role in the neverending story of the peace process which only emeshes it in the neverending war. Isreal seems at last prepared, reluctantly, to seek peace in the manner that all wars become peace -- military victory.

Israel, through the years of the Intifada, has finally been brought to that point where the Big Promise of the Global Palestinian Ad Campaign -- A Palestinian State Will Be Peaceful -- is no longer bought. What Israel now understands, and is preparing to act on, is the proposition that only victory through unconditional surrender will bring peace and the possibility of a Palestinian state along with the survival of Isreal itself.

Over the years, the Process Queens who strut on the runway of the International Arena have made successful and comfortable careers out of The Peace Process. As long as there is a process the vast establishment in the middle east and Europe and the United States that battens of the Neverending Peace Story has secure jobs and access to the fountain of funding from various sources. A Peace Settlement would close this showroom of Process Queens overnight and their next jobs would neither be as lucrative nor as fulfilling. There has been little worry over this as long as the goal has been Peace Through Process. Since any peace achieved in this manner would be one that included the obliteration of Israel -- never a secret and glaringly obvious over the last two years -- the Peace Process never had to end.

The Belmont Club notes the state of disarray among the Process Queens today when he remarks in The Smell of Fear:


Neither Europe's old game of triangulation -- a grand name for unscrupulous scavenging -- nor the Middle Eastern ploy of making America both guarantor and enemy can be continued for much longer. Even if Sharon is ousted from the Israeli leadership, developments since September 11 have doomed the ancien regime. The old elite is out of moves. Even more suicide bombings will represent a continuation of the same old failed policies, a deepening of the pit rather than a way out. They may hope that a John Kerry victory in November will reset the clock to balmy years of Bill Clinton, but perhaps even that will prove too late to stem the tide.
That tide turned on one announcement and a few missiles last week. Israel has changed the goal to one of Peace Through Victory, military victory.

This may be why, in a larger sense, police leaves have been canceled throughout Israel and the army remains at a high state of mobilization. Or, it may just be a sane level of high alert as the Palestinians send in their frogmen, their axe-men, their retarded teenagers, and whatever other items from Hells shopping list they have left in Gaza General Store.

The new stated goal of Peace Through Victory also explains why Hamas was in such a lather last week to retract, again and again, the initial threats to take revenge against the United States for the killing of Yassin. If you ask yourself what it would take for Israels Peace Through Victory program to start towards the goal posts, the answer is clear: another terror attack on the United States linked in any way to Hamas. And any attack would, like the force of gravity, link all terrorist organizations into one in the mind of the United States. One attack on US soil would mean that Israel would be free to move against its enemies in any manner and at any level it chose. The United States would be busy elsewhere and welcome the company.

There could be many other incidents that would trigger this, but an attack on the US would be a clear Go-Point for a full mobilization of the Israeli Armed Forces, full military operations in the Palestinian Territories, Syria and the Bekka Valley. This would be the start of the next Middle-East War, and it would not stop until the new goal, victory, has been reached. And not just within Israel. Once that goal has been scored, and peace achieved, the stage would be set for a whole new kind of process in the area to begin. One that does not have the obliteration of Isreal as part of "the peace process."


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 28, 2004 9:31 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Caught Between Cheeseburgers and Apaches

hamasal.jpg
Make that three Big Macs, Two Pies, Fries,
and a supersized Hellfire Missile. To go.

Doctor "Deathwish Al" Rantissi, the newly appointed head terrorist of the PLO, confirmed that Hamas has now become so demented it views death as a perk.

Israelis "will know no security", Mr Rantissi told crowds of mourners at Gaza's soccer stadium.

He said he was not afraid of Israeli attempts to kill him.

"If it's cardiac arrest or an Apache (helicopter), I prefer to be killed by an Apache," Mr Rantissi told reporters.

I'm sure there's either an Apache or a Cheeseburger out there with his name on it. If he gets it while coming out of some Gaza Strip cheeseburger palace, I'll know irony is back in God's stand-up routine.

Now if he could manage it before Deathwish Al sends anymore dynamite-packing 12 year old boys out to kill Jewish children (see below) my joy would be complete.


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 24, 2004 9:50 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
What It Would Take -- A Simple Scenario

THIS JUST IN:

SEPTEMBER 16, 2009: FBI agents with bomb-sniffing dogs Wednesday raided the Colorado apartment of an Afghan national linked to Al Qaeda and a plot to attack the New York City subway system.... In the past three days, the NYPD increased its attention to the subway system and its 5.2 million daily riders. Officers were warned to keep an eye out for vans near transportation hubs such as Grand Central, police sources said. The safety zone around subway and commuter stations also was expanded by two blocks, the sources said. -- FBI unit set for more anti-terror raids in Queens; Colorado home raided

LEADS TO THIS: Written March 13, 2004


In the wake of the Spanish outrage, an email asks what it would take for the global terrorists to take the next step in the United States.

It turns out that, as in Spain, it wouldn't take much at all. Here's what you'd need and how it could be done. But it is just one way. There are many.

The Elements:

One City: New York

Three Locations: The Brooklyn Bridge, Union Square, Penn Station

Terrorists: 4

Equipment:

Plastique explosives (15 pounds)
Backpacks: 2
Ten penny nails and ball bearings: 4 pounds
Anthrax: 2 Liters
Machine Guns: 4 (Small) with 2 extra clips each

Time: Late September to Early November when the weather makes wearing coats common.

Intellectual Equipment: An understanding of the New York subway and bridge system, an understanding of symbolism in America, a willingness to die.

The Method:

For over a year after the Eleventh, I used to think about the nature of the Brooklyn Bridge, and how easy it would be to damage this 19th century structure every time I walked across it -- which was often.

On the 11th I stood at the Brooklyn end of the bridge handing out water to the ash covered ghosts that came walking across it in endless droves.

After the 11th it was closed except for emergency vehicles for weeks on end. After that the bridge was guarded and vehicles vetted on a random schedule for months. For all I know this goes on today.

The Bridge and what it represents and, more importantly, what it controls in the way of access to and from NYC, makes for an exquisite lynchpin for a memorable workday morning in New York City. The way to work this little terrorist scenario is as follows:

Four dedicated homicide terrorists decide on a date certain to carry out something they have only rehearsed before. (Surely we've still got four sleeping somewhere near the Brooklyn mosque on Atlantic avenue about a half a mile from the bridge. After all, this is America where we hold all forms of religious expression sacred.) Because they are religious in nature and not given to alcohol or drug abuse, they've all held jobs in Manhattan for years and their morning ritual is nothing unusual. If there are any guards or surveillance people at any of the points these men pass through they've been seen thousands of times already. Always at about the same time. They are 'routine.'

One gets up and takes the A train to Penn Station at about six in the morning on, say, a Tuesday. Gets there and pops out of the entrance at 7th avenue and 31st street, turns right and walks about a half a block to the Starbucks, orders a latte and sits down to read the Times. Backpack/bookbag on the chair beside him. As usual.

The second one takes an express under the river and gets off at 14th Street/Union Square on the East Side with his off-brand little naughahyde attache. It usually contains his lunch and a selection of papers. Today it contains a couple of modified fire extinguishers -- the kind you can pick up at the local hardware store or, say, the Costco along the Brooklyn waterfront about three miles from the Atlantic Avenue mosque. Just a little something he's bringing to the office 'in case of fire.' You'd have to look carefully to note the seals have been broken.

He comes out of the subway and bides his time at the McDonalds on Union Square with a fine little Egg McMuffin.

The third man stops by an apartment building along Atlantic avenue to hook-up with his friend. They always walk together to work across the Brooklyn Bridge. They have for years. His backpack usually has some workout clothes for the gym. Today it contains a small Uzi and extra clips. The fourth has a similar backpack that usually also has some workout clothes. Today, before he leaves the apartment, the fourth man places a sequence of shaped plastique charges with either a cell phone detonator or a dead-man switch into his backpack He's probably armed as well.

All four have cell phones. All four have set up the speed dial numbers long ago.

When the last two have reached the stairs that lead up to the pedestrian walkway on the Brooklyn side of the Bridge at, say 7:30, the 3rd man phones the first two and gives them the 10 minute warning.

The man at Union Square goes down into the Union Square station and stands in the crowds on the platform near the uptown / downtown platforms. The trains have to stop on a curve here and the loading and unloading is always slower. If you stand to the end of the platform you can cover two lines at once. You tend to fade into the crowds coming and going as the morning rush begins to build.

The man at the 7th Avenue Starbucks goes into the bathroom stall upstairs and, opening his backpack, inserts the detonators into his explosive vest packed with a couple of layers of nails and ball bearings. Checking to make sure it is armed and good to go, he makes his way back to Penn Station. He gets in the back of the long lines waiting to buy rail tickers or subway passes in the midst of hundreds of people milling about.

The two on the bridge stroll past the security folks that may or may not be at the pedestrian entrance of the bridge. They walk about 150 yards out onto the span to where the cable is just a short little walk across the metal struts from the walkway. Pausing, one takes out his cell phone and gets the other two conferenced in while the other takes the shaped plastique charges from his backpack.

Now are, at about 7:40 Tuesday morning, all dressed up and with a lot of things to do in a very small amount of time.

The two listen in on the cell phone as the man on the bridge goes to work while the other stands ready.

Step one: Remove automatic weapon from backpack and empty a clip or two into the pedestrians, the bike riders and also into the cars below.

The resulting dead bodies and carnage from the accidents in the cars below essentially bring the bridge to a halt and give his partner some working room.

Step two: Walk across metal struts to cable with the plastique explosive belt from backpack and sort of loop it around the cable. If your explosives technicians know what they are doing, this is a shaped charge that will, at the very least, damage a main cable if not sever it.

Step three: Say your prayers to Allah and trigger the device.

When the cell phone connection to the men on the bridge goes dead, the fellow at 14th Street probably shoots a few people near him to give him some working room, takes the modified fire extinguishers out of his case and unloads a large cloud of anthrax or some other chemical or biological agent into the uptown and downtown tunnels at Union Square. The vast amounts of air pushed by the trains will disperse it quite nicely up and down the line.

The third man at Penn Station decides he doesn't need a subway pass for the next few instances of eternity, puts the cell phone away, gets to the center of the crowd and triggers his explosive vest. At about quarter to eight in the morning the immediate result is hundreds of shredded, dead, and wounded New Yorkers who never saw it coming.

Four men. Three cell phones. Maybe about 15 pounds of plastique and a couple of liters of anthrax. That's all it would take. New York would, in a moment, come to a complete halt and stay that way for some time.

Political result? Hard to say, but it would create a political climate in the United States where the nuclear option would become very, very real. New targeting instructions would be passed to the submarines and the land based missiles within three hours if they were not already there. Muslim round-ups would ramp up into the stratosphere. Voices urging restraint and respect for individual freedoms will be steamrolled into silence. John Kerry would know in an instant that the only thing that will keep him from becoming the Senior Senator from Massachusetts will be Teddy Kennedy and that little alliance will be kaput.

So, as you can see, the understanding of American symbolism is not lost on our enemies. They love this sort of thing. One might even say "They're just dying to do it."

Then again, since our security is now first rate, the best that billions can buy, it can't happen here. Can it?


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 13, 2004 8:23 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Each Flare Is Not a Separate Case
The enemy must and can be defined. That he is the terrorist himself almost everyone agrees, but in the same way that the United States extended blame beyond the pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor, it must now reach far back into the structures of enablement for the sake of deciding who and what must be fought. And given the enormity of a war against civilians, and the attacks upon our warships, embassies, economy, capital, government, and most populous city, this determination must be liberal and free-flowing rather than cautious and constrained, both by necessity and by right. The enemy has embarked upon a particular form of warfare with the intent of shielding his center of mass from counterattack, but he must not be allowed such a baseless privilege. For as much as he is the terrorist who executes the strategy, he is the intelligence service in aid of it, the nation that harbors his training camps, the country that finances him, the press filled with adulation, the people who dance in the streets when there is a slaughter, and the regime that turns a blind eye.

Not surprisingly, militant Islam arises from and makes its base in the Arab Middle East. The first objective of the war, therefore, must be to offer every state in the area this choice: eradicate all support for terrorism within your borders or forfeit existence as a state. That individual terrorists will subsequently flee to the periphery is certain, but the first step must be to deny them their heartland and their citadels.

Recognizing that the enemy is militant Islam with its center the Arab Middle East, it is possible to devise a coherent strategy. The enemy's strengths should not be underestimated. He has a historical memory far superior to that of the West, which has forgotten its thousand-year war with Islamic civilization. Islamic civilization has not forgotten, however, having been for centuries mainly on the losing side. Its memory is clear, bitter, and a spur to action. And it dovetails with a spiritual sense of time far different from that of the West, where impatience arises in seconds, for the enemy believes that a thousand years, measured against the eternity he is taught to contemplate and accept, is nothing. Closely related to his empowering sense of time are his spiritual sense of mission, which must never be underestimated, and Islam's traditional embrace of martyrdom.

This militant devotion, consciously or otherwise, pays homage to the explosive Arab conquests, which reached almost to Paris, to the gates of Vienna, the marchlands of China, India, and far into Africa. War based on the notion of Islamic destiny is underway at this moment in the Philippines, Indonesia, Sinkiang, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Chechnya, Iraq, Palestine, Macedonia, Algeria, the Sudan, Sub-Saharan Africa, and throughout the world in the form of terrorism without limitation or humanitarian nuance -- all in service of a conception far more coherent than the somnolent Western nations seem to comprehend. The object long expressed by bin Laden and others is to flip positions in the thousand-year war. To do this, the Arabs must rekindle what the 10th-century historian Ibn Khaldun called 'asabiya, an ineffable combination of group solidarity, momentum, esprit de corps, and the elation of victory feeding upon victory. This, rather than any of its subsidiary political goals, is the objective of the enemy in the war in which we find ourselves at present. Despite many flickers all around the world, it is a fire far from coming alight, but as long as the West apprehends each flare as a separate case the enemy will be encouraged to drive them toward a point of ignition, and the war will never end.

The proper strategic objective for the West, therefore, is the suppression of this fire of 'asabiya in the Arab heartland and citadels of militancy -- a task of division, temporary domination, and, above all, demoralization. As unattractive as it may seem, in view of the deadly alternative it is the only choice other than to capitulate. -- Mark Helprin, War in the Absence of Strategic Clarity

Emphasis added.


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 13, 2004 2:08 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Little Men and Europe's Choice

A deceptively quiet note on recent events at the Belmont Club.

"The strategic choices facing Europe are stark. They can, like France, continue their policy of appeasement. Yet while the status quo may hold out that hope, it is forlorn. Maybe not this terrorist attack, but the one afterward and those still yet to follow will dash any expectation that a little more money siphoned from depleted coffers or a little more toadying will buy any more years. The months now will come too dear. Rather better, some will say, to face the enemy while some strength remains. Yet there can be no joy even in the most militaristic of hearts for what lies ahead, beside which the horror of the Balkans was but a small foretaste. The battle against Islamofascism will be fought on Europe's borders and Europe's soil.

In this hour the figures of Schroder and Chirac occupy the same relative positions as Chamberlain and Petain. Little men overwhelmed by events. "

NB: A democratic nation gets and deserves the leaders it elects.


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 12, 2004 5:55 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
When the War on Terror Goes Wholesale

spainbodies.jpg
Counting the body bags by a train track in Spain.

The argument used to begin at least a couple of days after. Now it begins when the updates on the body-count are still coming in:

The Basques did it.
It was the Arab Resistance.
No, the Basques!
Nope, al-Qaida.
And then, with mind-numbing predictability comes the ever-popular U.S. intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said It's too early to tell. We're not ruling anything out.

Humm, that idiot, as seems to be the case with US Intelligence officials, has certainly got all his bases covered. I suppose he spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid being revealed as a dumber than your average oxymoron.

Would it be too much to suggest that, in the future, we all save a lot of keystrokes, bandwidth and mental cycles by stipulating here and now that IT DOESNT MATTER WHO DOES IT!

What matters is the mindset out of which it is being done. It is the mindset that is the enemy, the mindset that compels, as it did on 9/11, the wanton killing of innocent people by cowardly actions (and suicide, make no mistake, is the ultimate cowardice).

Ive witnessed firsthand this mindset incinerate 3,000 innocent lives in a few heartbeats. It is a mindset that has no place in this world. It is a mindset that needs to be eradicated from the Earth down to the last jot and tittle of its genetic material. It is a mindset that must be erased whatever it takes --- WHATEVER it takes.

Of late, Ive encountered the following statement about 9/11 several times: It was evil but it was brilliant. (Or words to that effect.) This statement usually masks a kind of fascinated admiration with the terrorist mindset, a kind of breathless excitement that anyone could do such things, could have such... such commitment. This statement is drivel.

The terrorist mindset is no more to be admired or suffered to live than the flickering thought patterns that wink and die in the neural networks of a scorpion. Indeed, the scorpion may possess a higher kind of morality than a terrorist. The spider, at least, kills out of a need rather than a twisted compulsion. The spider, at least, does not know what death is.

The terrorists who slaughter the innocents in Madrid or Iraq or New York know well what death is. They are stimulated by what they do. It, pay attention, turns them on. They are serial killers working without a daily bag limit.

Terrorists do not kill from necessity or defense as soldiers do in battle. They kill away from battle -- as far away from battle as they can get. They kill because their faith, be it political or spiritual, is too weak and enfeebled to exist by merit alone -- it must be forced on the unwilling by random fear. And the way to create that fear is to kill as many unarmed, innocent and unprepared people as possible at a place and time where there is no warning. If they can escape to kill again, fine. If they cannot, killing themselves is the other prefered way to avoid responsibility.

The leaders of our countries will say, as Bush and Aznar and others already have, that this will never work; that Terror will never succeed. But they will be wrong.

Terrorists will succeed. Terrorists have succeeded. Terrorists and Terror will continue to thrive and to live ...until... until there is a stark moment of decision that comes to all the people of the Earth that wish to live lives free from terror.

At that moment, we will cease hearing from the current crop of bland pap peddlers such as John Kerry and his ilk about the need to understand.

At that moment, we will no longer credit the pundits and columnists who whine and report on the oppression and despair from which all this springs.

At that moment, we will begin to see very real and immediate demonstrations, on the home soil of every government on Earth that supports these insects, that there will be a heavy at-home price to pay for indulging or promoting the sick mindset of terrorism.

At that moment, there will be an abrupt end to this dilly-dallying discussion of Who did what to whom when and why and with what, as if the whole problem were just a night-out at a Clue Party.

At that moment, the war against terrorism will move out its retail phase and go wholesale.

Where will that moment occur? It will happen here. In the United States. It will occur in New York, or Washington, or Los Angeles, or San Francisco, or Seattle, or Chicago. Or all of the above. It will be worse than 9/11.

When will that moment occur? That Spain is about to have an election might give you a hint. What? you say. Before the elections in the United States? When the Democrats have a chance to put in a man who will be kinder and gentler on global terrorists; who will feel their pain and listen to their grievances? Surely these terrorists are not stupid.

And at that point I would know you have failed to understand, in any manner, the mindset we are dealing with. But I will understand that coming to such an understanding is not an easy task. Nobody can really understand what goes on in the mind of a scorpion. Killing it is the only thing to be done.

Do I dread the day when the next strike on America happens? I dread it deeply.

But what really frightens me is what happens on the next day.


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 11, 2004 11:27 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Anarchy in Gaza? We're Shocked! Shocked!
EREZ BORDER CROSSING, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - At least six Palestinians were killed on Saturday during a suicide bombing and shooting attack on Israeli soldiers at the main Israel-Gaza border crossing.

A source in the militant group Hamas said it carried out the operation along with al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, part of President Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, and Islamic Jihad.

Such cooperation among the three groups, which have ignored Palestinian Authority calls for a cease-fire with Israel, is likely to fuel U.S. fears that Israel's threatened unilateral pullback in Gaza could fuel anarchy in the area.

A shame after all those years of calm and ordered self-rule.


Posted by Vanderleun at Mar 6, 2004 9:05 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
The Facts on the Ground

me2000map.jpg
The Middle East in 2001 A. D.
Red indicates those countries hostile towards the United States in word or in deed.
White indicates those countries friendly to or neutral toward the United States.

me2004map.jpg
The Middle East in 2004 A. D.
Red indicates those countries hostile towards the United States in word or in deed.
White indicates those countries friendly to or neutral toward the United States.


Posted by Vanderleun at Feb 2, 2004 7:29 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Piloting Skills. We're Talking Serious Piloting Skills


"Welcome aboard the New Air Iraq. Today we will be cruising
at an altitude of a foot and a half."


Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 29, 2004 8:39 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
Top Iraq Election Tracking Blog

Both Michael Totten and Jim Hake of Spirit of America are endorsing Friends of Democracy - Iraq Election News as the top source of on-the-ground information on the Iraq Elections.

Totten notes in :

My New Gig -- Iraqi Election Coverage

We have more than a dozen local Iraqi correspondents, at least one in each province, filing daily reports. These reports include news, interviews, quotes, photos, whatever they can get in a day. They aren't professional journalists. They are more or less ordinary Iraqis. Some of them you already know -- Omar and Mohammed from Iraq the Model, for example. Others you don't know because they don't speak or write in English. Their reports are translated from Arabic before they are uploaded to the reports site.

Good enough for me. You might want to bookmark them and blogroll them as well.
[Note: This item will remain at the top of the page until after the Iraq Elections.]


Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 28, 2004 11:03 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Microsoft to Join the United Nations

With Ted Turner down to last billion and his $4 billion pledge to the UN sent to a collection agency in Atlanta , Bill Gates has stepped up to the plate with the opening move of Microsoft's plan have itself declared a nation-state: Gates Announces Partnership With U.N.

Whether Microsoftia ™ will become a stockocracy or stay the benign despotism that it has been remains to be seen. It has not yet been disclosed if Bill Gates position is going to be made hereditary at the next annual meeting.

Whatever ensues, Microsoft is taking the old-fashioned route towards becoming a nation-state; bribery. And what better place to grease the global palm that at that crucible of client states, the World Economic Forum?

DAVOS, Switzerland Jan. 23 -- Microsoft Corp. and the United Nations will work together to bring computer technology and literacy to developing countries, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said Friday.

Microsoft pledged software, computer training and cash to establish computer centers in poor communities, starting with pilot projects in Egypt, Mozambique and Morocco.

The initiative will draw from a $1 billion Microsoft Unlimited Potential fund, which the U.S. software giant launched last year.

The company has already donated nearly $50 million to 45 countries, and Gates said he hoped to "ramp it up" to $200 million a year through the new partnership with the U.N. Development Program.

At a news conference at the World Economic Forum, Gates said the computer centers won't be restricted to using Microsoft products.

"There's no exclusivity, but our role is to help with the expertise and curriculum around software that is quite popular and happens to belong to Microsoft," he said.

...[T]hat is quite popular and happens to belong to Microsoft. You gotta love this guy.

Back when I used and bought Microsoft products I always thought that after I paid for them they belonged to me. More fool I. Now I know that they will always "happen to belong to Microsoft." Must have been something in that 15,000 licensce agreement I failed to notice.

Still, I suppose America can come to some sort of non-aggression pact with Microsoftia ™ once it chooses, buys and moves onto its island in Puget Sound. Itll probably be a fine place to live. Free lattes, free Jolt cola, and free high-speed internet for all. Youll have to address Bill as Your Nerdness but other than that hell just be a regular guy. With a seat on the Security Counsel and a flag displaying the rising @ right above Microsoftia ™ motto: ONE OS TO BIND THEM ALL.


Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 23, 2004 10:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Small Moves

"Small moves, Sparks.... Small moves..."
-- from the movie Contact

Organized chaos amidst organized clutter and the distinct sense that somewhere there was a war on.

Driving from the main gate to the mustering area you glance in your side mirror and notice two Apache attack helicopters cruising just above you right down the center line. Very persuasive looking machines. Youre glad theyre on your side and you are on theirs. Just before you park you pass a road sign reading, Drive Carefully. Tank Crossing.

The distant reports of cannons and star shells drifting down onto brown scrub-daubed California hills. Around the edge of the parade ground, one unfortunate Marine walks slowly in helmet and flack jacket with a full clip in his rifle. Somewhere nearby dull thuds of .50 caliber machine guns echo off the barracks all day. If you look up from the work, youll be comforted to see that fifty yards up the hill is a Taco Bell.

Camp Pendleton. 1st Marine Division. Theyre going back to Iraq and theyre training hard. When we gathered at the main gate at 9:00 AM somebody mentioned that theyd read the military was getting short on ammunition. If so, the news hadnt reached the Marines. They seemed, in the catchphrase of the day, to be keeping it real. Everywhere you looked they were training hard.

We werent working all that hard really. We were there as a kind of witness. We were there because its one thing to say you support our troops and quite another to show up and help them with your own hands if only for a day. You put on your Spirit of America tee shirt since every event these days needs a tee shirt to make it real. You slap on your Spirit of America baseball cap, an unexpected bonus, and you find a place at one of the tables.

Take a light white cotton bag off the top of a bale of them. In blue lettering it says Friendship in English and Farsi bracketing a Spirit of America logo. Friendship / America. This marketing element will be repeated elsewhere all day. Its a good thing were doing but theres no sense not getting a little propaganda value out of it at the same time. You don't want these things to pass through some distribution point in Iraq and get slapped with an "Allah Cares" sticker. It can happen. We're labelling the elements of the kits as well.

Shake the bag open and drop in a packet of pens, hand it to the left where a box or two of pencils go in. Then down the line for markers, notebooks, and other items that are likely to be thin on the ground in the schools of Iraq. In the afternoon, were going to do medical kits.

And there are Frisbees.

Frisbees?

Sure thing. We got thousands of Frisbees.

Frisbees, in dump truck quantities, were the backdrop to the day as surely as the cannons and .50 caliber machine guns provided the soundtrack. In several bright colors, each one in the stack had the Friendship logo printed on it. We had more Frisbees than we had bags and a lot of them ended up being bulk-shipped.

Somebody said, Now were bringing in the big guns, were attacking with our popular culture.

A Marine who had been there said, Or giving them plates.

Someone else said, Dont be too sure. I can imagine a day, say the 2012 Olympics, when the Iraqi Frisbee team podiums for the Frisbee gold.

Yeah, said another, right after kicking the Berkeley teams ass.

Bag, pens, pencils, notebooks, markers, box, container. Bag, pens, pencils, notebooks, markers, box, container. The volunteers and the Marines working next to each other around the tables in the courtyard. T-shirts and camo. All ages, all sizes, men and women. Just standing and stuffing bags with the word Friendship on them on a Wednesday morning in Southern California. Some of the volunteers had been there since 6:00 which meant, for those that came down from Los Angeles, up at 4:00 and into the traffic that never sleeps.

It wasnt a large group. At times there were more Marines assigned to the duty than volunteers. They came, like the Marines, in all shapes and sizes but with a greater spread in their ages. Retired military, techno-nerds, people with family in the military, people who had lost relatives in one or more of our wars. Beards, bangs, boots and Birkenstocks.

And blogs. Always blogs. Blogs had organized this effort, and the bloggers who believed and who could came. Blogs and blogging rose up and fell away in conversation all day long. If you werent recognized the question about the name of your blog was offered tentatively lest the person asking hadnt heard of it or read it lately. Bloggers tacitly recognize that for most the level of notoriety and or circulation of ones blog can be a sore point or a source of pride. Its a counter dependent addiction and stature can be inferred from numbers alone. As a result, the subject surfaced and then submerged again as the mantra of bag, pens, pencils, notebooks, markers, box, container continued.

The Marines we worked with, of course, had no idea what blogs were, but they were pleased to have this strange group helping them with this particular duty assignment. And with a couple of officers moving around and keeping the whole process on track the Marines didnt spend a lot of time in chat.

The Marines were mostly privates and corporals with a few of sergeants sprinkled in. From the very short to the very tall. From the pale and slight to the high-school linebacker. Did I say they were young? They were young in the way that lets you know just how old youve become. In a word, kids. Kids whose first job out of high school will be in a war zone.

You know that theyll be trained as well as they can be trained. You know that they will be equipped as well as they can be equipped and led as well as they can be led. But you still know that theres a chance that one or more of these Marines standing beside you assembling hostess bags for Iraqi school children will be dead within the year. You dont mention this. Not to anyone, especially the Marines. Compared to what these Marines are doing it makes the small thing you are doing to seem that much smaller. But you do it just the same because it is what you can do.

Open a bag marked Friendship and put in some pens and pencils, maybe a Frisbee, maybe even a small prayer that it will help some other kid half a world away grow up wanting to be like a Marine rather than kill one. Small moves but thats how a world is changed.


Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 23, 2004 8:10 AM | QuickLink: Permalink
Oy! Now It's The Interplanetary Jewish Conspiracy

From Josh Harvey's Middle East comes this item which can only inflame Islamic Fanatics and the French to a white-hot shrieking sense of cerebral overload.

As far as I can tell, there are only two flags currently represented on the Red Planet. The Israeli flag is pictured here next to Ilan Ramon's name, which appears on the memorial plaque to the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia. The plaque is located on the high-gain antenna of NASA's Spirit spacecraft, which is currently sitting peacefully in Mars' Gusev Crater. The landing site is to be named Columbia Memorial Station.
ramon.jpg
Via lgf: Two Flags on Mars


Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 8, 2004 6:02 PM | QuickLink: Permalink
"The most promising strategic network of this century."

The Atlantic Century, by Ralph Peters. Published in PARAMETERS: US Army War College Quarterly

Key Points:

Although the United States will remain engaged in the Far Eastas well as in the Middle East, Europe, and nearly everywhere elsethe great unexplored opportunities for human advancement, fruitful alliances, strategic cooperation, and creating an innovative, just, and mutually beneficial international order still lie on the shores of the Atlantic. The difference is that the potential for future development lies not across the North Atlantic in Old Europe, but on both sides of the South Atlantic, in Africa and Latin America.

Especially since 9/11, the deteriorating civilization of the Middle East has demanded our attention. But we must avoid a self-defeating strategic fixation on the Arab Muslim world and self-destructive states nearby. Any signs of progress in the Middle East will be welcome, but the region overall is fated to remain an inexhaustible source of disappointments. While Africa suffers from an undeserved reputation for hopelessness (often a matter of racism couched in diplomatic language) and Latin America is dismissed as a backwater, the aggressive realms of failure in the Middle East always get the benefit of the doubt. When the United States places a higher priority on relations with Egypt than on those with Mexico or Brazil, and when Jordan attracts more of our attention than does South Africa, our foreign policy lacks common sense as much as it does foresight.

Our obsession with the Middle East is not just about oil. Its about intellectual habit. We assign unparalleled strategic importance to the survival of the repugnant Saudi regime because thats the way weve been doing things for half a century, despite the complete absence of political, cultural, or elementary human progress on the Arabian Peninsula.

[snip]

The future -- our future --lies elsewhere, in those long-neglected realms where human wastage has been blithely dismissed and every local misfortune was seized upon as proof that "they" simply weren't in our league. We have been seduced into playing 19th-century European great-power politics in the 21st century; indeed, considering our current involvement in the Middle East, one is tempted to claim that we're playing 12th-century European power politics.

To the extent strategic requirements allow, we need to reduce our commitments to Europe, as well as combating our psychological dependence on the Eurocentric worldview. We are the children of Mark Twain, not of Proust. Like Huck Finn, we need to avoid Aunt Polly%u2019s attempts to put too many table manners on us. We always need to light out for new frontiers. And the human frontiers of the 21st century are in our own country, in Latin America, and in Africa.

Try a simple experiment. Lay out a map of the world. With a pencil and ruler, connect the United Kingdom, Spain, and Portugal with all the countries in the Americas or in Africa to which they have historical or cultural ties. Next, connect the countries of Africa to those states of the Western Hemisphere to which they have ethnic and cultural ties. Now connect the United States to the countries in Latin America and Africa to which we have ties of population and culture. You have just drawn the most promising strategic network of this century.


Posted by Vanderleun at Jan 1, 2004 11:57 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
No Shortage of Diplomats in New York City, However...

Annan: UN Peacekeeping Operations in Africa Hindered by Lack of Available Troops

"Secretary-General Kofi Annan says peacekeeping missions in Africa are being threatened by a lack of available troops. Mr. Annan voiced concern that Africa may come out on the short end of an increasingly tough competition for peacekeepers.

The secretary-general said the growing number of peacekeeping operations seems to be outstretching the capacity of countries willing and able to help. He said appeals by the U.S.-led coalition are making his life more difficult."

Yes, that wretched US again. Making life difficult for Annan and the UN by asking it to fulfill its purpose. Especially vexing this time of year what with all the parties and such, what?


Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 19, 2003 5:22 PM |  Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hammer. Nail. Bang.

From Nelson Ascher at EuroPundits comes this clear and concise statement of the nature of our current experiment:

Besides deposing a bloody and threatening tyrant, the invasion of Iraq had, as its most obvious goal, the establishment of American military bases right in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, in order to keep and eye on the rest of the region and to be able to intervene there whenever necessary.

But maybe there was still another objective. Actually, we do ignore whether Islamicisim, politically militant radical Islam, is the sickness of a minority or has already infected the majority of Arabs and/or Muslims; and though we usually blame their despotic regimes and corrupt elites for the hostile climate of opinion they have generated, all over that part of the world, against the West, the US, Christians, Jews atc., the truth is that we cannot be sure about this.

What if those are and have always been the true feelings of the majority? Speculation won't do and there's only one way of knowing: you pick an Arab/Muslim country, remove the tyrant and the corrupt elites, give the people the possibility of developing civilized institutions. We might call this a very ambitious empirical/cientific experiment. If it works, then a causal relationship between tyranny and fanatical religious and nationalistic madness can be established. If it doesn't, and we discover that, in spite of all, they have been thinking, feeling, behaving in such a way not because of Saddam, but out of their own free will, then the conclusion will be that plan A (the liberation and democratisation or the Arab/Muslim world) is not the solution and it will be time to try out plan B, whatever this is.


Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 18, 2003 10:29 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Mission: Possible


Of course, American political candidates who stake out a "this will never work, so stop trying" stance are is in a tough position once the impossible is proved possible. But in the early morning hours of Sunday, they found a solution. First, release a short statement saluting the troops. The second step is to avoid any sense of backtracking or reconsideration of the candidate's previous position. In fact, the subtext of the statement should infer that the candidate had been urging Paul Bremer, Gen. John Abizaid, and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez to look in a spider hole at a farm in the town of Ad Dwara all along.
-- Jim Geraghty on Saddam Hussein: Captured


Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 15, 2003 11:07 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Endgame


(Click for larger image)


Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 14, 2003 4:26 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"At first light tomorrow, I want you to attack into Baghdad."

And gentlemen in England, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispins day.

Henry the Fifth; IV,III

Donald Sensing points to a riveting story in the Los Angeles Times saying:"The battle for Baghdad was one of the pre-eminent feats of American arms in the history of the US armed forces. Only 975 infantrymen, tanker and support personnel spearheaded the whole attack."

The article, The Thunder Run is without a doubt the most detailed report to date on the critical moments of the war.

Over the radio net, Twitty had heard the tank battalions in the city celebrating and discussing the wine collections at Saddam's palaces. He was only a few miles away, at a Highway 8 interchange code-named Objective Larry, but he was in the fight of his life. Twitty had survived the first Gulf War, but he had never encountered anything like this.

His men were being pounded from all directions -- by small arms, mortars, RPGs, gun trucks, recoilless rifles. The two tank battalions had punched through Highway 8, but now the enemy had regrouped and was mounting a relentless counterattack against Twitty's mechanized infantry battalion.

As he scratched out his battle plan, Twitty spotted an orange-and-white taxi speeding toward his Bradley. A man in the back seat was firing an AK-47. Twitty screamed into the radio: "Taxi! Taxi coming!"

He realized how absurd he sounded. So he shouted at his Bradley gunner: "Slew the turret and fire!" The gunner spotted the taxi and fired a blast of 25mm rounds. The taxi blew up. It had been loaded with explosives.
Take the time to read it all.


Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 9, 2003 12:56 PM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Really? Who?

In a long cover story, How billions in oil money spawned a global terror network, U.S. News tells us:

Saudi largess encouraged U.S. officials to look the other way, some veteran intelligence officers say. Billions of dollars in contracts, grants, and salaries have gone to a broad range of former U.S. officials who had dealt with the Saudis: ambassadors, CIA station chiefs, even cabinet secretaries.
It would be nice to have a little list ... if only for historic purposes.


Posted by Vanderleun at Dec 8, 2003 7:30 AM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Terrorist Money Trail Passes Through Paris and Bonn



ROGER SIMON asks about the financing of Saddam's terror in: SHOW ME THE MONEY!

My question is--where did this money come from? Where did Saddam get the moolah to reward his henchmen for dragging his fellow Iraqis through the streets or dropping them in shredders? I'm not going to say right now it came straight from the UN Oil-for-Food program, but WHERE IS THAT MONEY?
Yes, where is that UN money? Perhaps it went back to the same FOUNTAIN OF FUNDING for the Masters of Terror the world over, the French and German banks.

Yesterday, in the Wall St Journal, Michael Gonzalez wrote: Vive Le Checkbook [It's available to subscribers only, so I'll just reprint a couple of indicative paragraphs.]

"Follow the money" is an old adage, and it means that economic interest will eventually explain much human behavior. That France opposed the removal of Saddam Hussein because he owed millions to French banks is proof of this. Less well known, but much more troubling, are key French financial links with other U.S. enemies. They raise the belief that the Franco-American conflict over Iraq was just one slice of the action. For France was not just Baathist Iraq's largest contributor of funds; French banks have financed other odious regimes. They are the No. 1 lenders to Iran and Cuba and past and present U.S. foes such as Somalia, Sudan and Vietnam.

This type of financing is shared by Germany, France's partner. German banks are North Korea's biggest lenders, and Syria's -- and Libya's. But France is the most active. In Castro's sizzling gulag, French banks plunked down $549 million in the first trimester this year, a third of all credit to Cuba. The figure for Saddam's Iraq is $415 million. But these pale in comparison with the $2.5 billion that French banks have lent Iran. The figures come from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, and were interpreted by Inigo More for a Madrid think-tank, the Real Instituto Elcano. As he says, "one could think that Parisian bankers wait for the U.S. to have an international problem before taking out their checkbooks." French banks seem to be almost anywhere U.S. banks are absent. They lend in 57 such countries, and are the main lenders in 23 of those. (His report can be read at realinstitutoelcano.org.) The report offers reasons why Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin really ought to stop using the phrase "our American friends" every time he talks about the U.S.

The Inigo More report at the Real Instituto ElCano is in Spanish so I am unable to read it, but perhaps those more fluent than I can take a look and illuminate the rest of us.

The Money's Bottom Line, as they say, is that if you want to know of any large, non-Muslim, insititutions that are making it easier for our enemies to kill people of all ilks around the world, you just have to take a look at our 'friends' -- the French and the Germans.

===
UPDATE: As noted in the comments, the Inigo More report is not to be found on the English section of the link above but only on the Spanish side. Those who search the English side of the site will not see it and will have a null search string returned.


Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 25, 2003 8:39 AM |  Comments (15)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The New Committee for a Free World

Yesterday, we thought it might be time for a New Committee for the Free World and wondered who might be part of the core.

Thanks to the The Professor the suggestions were not long in coming. Here's the off the top of the keyboard thinking from the comments to the original post.

As I said before, I have some of my own thoughts on the who and the how of this, but this list certainly broadens my original one. In order, the names to date are:
===
Bill Hobbs suggests: "Victor Davis Hanson, Michael Ledeen," and... Bill Hobbs. Not at all a bad quartet.

Salamantis lists: "Daniel Pipes, Michael J. Totten, Andrew Sullivan, Daniel W. Drezner, Charles Johnson, Glenn Reynolds, Christopher Hitchens, Bill Whittle, Steven Den Beste and James Lileks." All of whom qualify in terms of insight, intelligence, connectivity and committment.

Roger L. Simon adds,"John Podhoretz, Larry Miller and Daniel Pipes."

Perry R Bransonsays "Mark Steyn, Andrew Sullivan, and David Horowitz."

Stephen observes, "To such a list I would seek to add the name (or names) of an Imam or two who demonstrate an understanding, and perhaps a plan, of how to begin to guide Islam through the same changes made by Christianity".

While Lexington Green rightly states that "... some actual expertise would be nice," and offers up:
"Richard Pipes. He is an old Cold Warrior who is skeptical about spreading democratization in the Islamic world. He'll be a good check on any unreasonable enthusiasm.
Bernard Lewis. The smartest guy on the subject.
David Hackworth. A bit of a crank, but good on the boots-on-ground practicalities.
Bruce Hoffman. Major expert on terrorism."

Hovigtacks on:
And Will Baude (http://www.crescatsententia.org/) and Daniel Moore (http://dfmoore.mu.nu/)

AST asks, wisely, "Where's the funding? It has to be more than a mailing list."

To which, without meaning to be glib at all, I would say: If you build it, they will come." Funding follows content and committment. Many things were started by the use of a "mailing list" from the American Revolution to the Dean Campaign. See "multiplying effect of the internet" (above).

Martin Lindeskog points us to "... my blogroll and the different categories."

...while Dean Esmay just steps up to the plate with: "You could certainly count me in for such a project."

Ah, our first volunteer. Mr. Esmay evidently missed the part of Basic Training where they tell you to never volunteer for anything.

If you have anyone to add, please do. More tomorrow.


Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 22, 2003 9:52 AM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
An Idea Whose Time Has Come ... Again

You do a good work, keep it going


Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 21, 2003 12:40 PM |  Comments (34)  | QuickLink: Permalink
New American Foreign Policy Initiative


Speaking in London today, President Bush used visual aids
such as the one pictured above to clarify the current foreign policy
of the United States.

"We must shake off decades of failed policy in the Middle East. Your nation and mine, in the past, have been willing to make a bargain, to tolerate oppression for the sake of stability....Yet this bargain did not bring stability or make us safe....

As recent history has shown, we cannot turn a blind eye to oppression just because the oppression is not in our own backyard. No longer should we think tyranny is benign because it is temporarily convenient....

Now we're pursuing a different course, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. We will consistently challenge the enemies of reform and confront the allies of terror.

From:President Bush Discusses Iraq Policy at Whitehall


Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 19, 2003 1:50 PM |  Comments (11)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Iraq Connection

Inviting the carping critics of the Iraq- al Qaeda Connection to step-off, is a detailed examination the reality as contained in:Case Closed published in the Weekly Standard.

OSAMA BIN LADEN and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda--perhaps even for Mohamed Atta--according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD.

The memo, dated October 27, 2003, was sent from Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith to Senators Pat Roberts and Jay Rockefeller, the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It was written in response to a request from the committee as part of its investigation into prewar intelligence claims made by the administration. Intelligence reporting included in the 16-page memo comes from a variety of domestic and foreign agencies, including the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency. Much of the evidence is detailed, conclusive, and corroborated by multiple sources. Some of it is new information obtained in custodial interviews with high-level al Qaeda terrorists and Iraqi officials, and some of it is more than a decade old. The picture that emerges is one of a history of collaboration between two of America's most determined and dangerous enemies.

What follows is a detailed profile of the memo and the links it exposes. Worth reading and reading widely.


Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 16, 2003 8:46 AM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Iran Decides It Has Enough for Nukes

In a widely-praised announcement, Iran acknowledged that it now had enough enriched uranium to build all the bombs it needs:

"Iran's foreign ministry says the country will suspend its disputed uranium enrichment program in coming days in line with demands from United Nations nuclear weapons inspectors."
From:VOANews.com
The announcement serves two purposes:
1) It gives Iran the figleaf of UN compliance without having to comply.
2)It gives it insulation against UN inspections of nuclear weapons programs for at least long enough to build a few bombs.

The event was heralded at a "victory for diplomacy."


Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 9, 2003 1:11 PM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Goodbye to All That

Europeans are worse than cockroaches:
There is a Cold War between the US and the EU, says Mark Steyn, and it will end with the collapse of Old Europe--

Europe is dying. As I’ve pointed out here before, it can’t square rising welfare costs, a collapsed birthrate and a manpower dependent on the world’s least skilled, least assimilable immigrants. In 20 years’ time, as those Dutch Muslim teenagers are entering the voting booths, European countries, unlike parts of Nigeria, will not be living under Sharia, but they will be reaching their accommodations with their radicalised Islamic compatriots, who like many intolerant types are expert at exploiting the ‘tolerance’ of pluralist societies.

How happy what’s left of the ethnic Dutch or French or Danes will be about this remains to be seen. But the idea of a childless Europe rivalling America militarily or economically is laughable. Sometime this century there will be 500 million Americans, and what’s left in Europe will either be very old or very Muslim. That’s the Europe that Britain will be binding its fate to. Japan faces the same problem: in 2006, its population will begin an absolute decline, a death spiral it will be unlikely ever to climb out of. Will Japan be an economic powerhouse if it’s populated by Koreans and Filipinos? Possibly. Will Germany if it’s populated by Algerians? That’s a trickier proposition.

The Spectator.co.uk


Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 8, 2003 7:59 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"I try to become more cynical every year, but lately I just can't keep up."

Michael Ledeen's article in the National Review has been pointed to with increasing frequency over the last few days. His theme follows his title:Unpunished Failure: What are we waiting for? It asks why nobody, and I mean nobody, has lost their job over the last two years in the "War on Terror?" His conclusion is summed up with:

”All of which can be briefly and sadly summarized: We don't have a war cabinet, and we are once again giving our enemies time and opportunity to figure out how to kill us.”
My colleagues in the commentary game are almost of one mind in underlining and bewailing this. But my take is somewhat different, if, I pray, utterly fantastical.

In the vein of trying to "become more cynical," I'd say that this country does not yet have it's game face on for what it really confronts. I'd say that this country is still happy to be having a busman's holiday of a "war on terror" that does not really involve 99.99% of the population in anything other than lip service, be it for or against. I'd say that we still have not, as a people, looked into the face of the monster that confronts us and taken the full measure of what defeating it may involve.

We are a simple and slap-happy people. Simple in that we think that if we just knock off a couple of distant third world totalitarian regimes, take a few dead and wounded here and there, and plant a flag and/or a hodge-podge capitalist institution, everything will turn out hunky-dory. Slap-happy in that if all that is asked of us is that we vote this or that slate of candidates in, and give a few bucks to the fund for the widows and orphans of soldiers killed overseas, we'll be able to continue in our soft, fuzzy bubble of American dreaming.

That is what, en masse, is entailed in our “War on Terror” program to date. Simply put, "We live in hope."

Well, live in hope and die in despair. Not everyone in this country sees it this way and I'm starting to think that a lot of those people are sitting about in Washington, gauging the public sentiment, and knowing, knowing in their bones, that if they are ever going to get this war off the ground at the level we need for a conclusive and world-altering victory, this country is going to have to get hit again in a manner that makes everybody, and I mean everybody, experience a "Come to Jesus' moment in the most literal meaning of that phrase.

My idealistic side says, "Please, you don't really think that the government of this country would really be so lax in its policy that it would allow another September 11th to happen?"

My cynical side says, "Given the soft and indulgent nature of this culture at this point in time, how else can the nation be polarized and energized to pursue a war at the level it takes for victory? How else can a draft be brought back? How else can we add five divisions to our armed forces? How else can we justify the destruction of the strategic and spiritual centers of our enemies? How else, other than through the sacrifice of one of our cities, can we hope to transmute the soft sensibility that has evolved in this nation over the last five decades into something approaching the resolve necessary to eliminate this last global manifestation of Totalitarianism?"

My cynical side says, "Three thousand dead on our soil was only enough to stimulate a couple of policing expeditions using the resources we had on hand. Those resources are clearly incapable of taking on a global war with several fronts. To do that, more Americans will have to die in America. Only that will wake us from the fitful sleep into which we are slowly returning."

My idealistic side says, "Surely you don't really believe that the inevitable demands of realpolitik is driving our government to go light on facing up to clear and present dangers? Surely you don’t think that they would, if not engineer such a catastrophic attack, invite it by doing little or nothing to really prevent it?”

My cynical side says, "I try to become more cynical every year, but lately I just can't keep up."


Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 3, 2003 9:33 PM |  Comments (14)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Bulletin: This Just in from Allah

The up-to-the-minute word from Allah Is In The House. And who would know better about this than that Being before whom all worlds tremble ("Tremble...."), but who still remains a little light in the loafers when it comes to spellcheckers?

By the way, kufr, have you heard that the temperature in New York City today reached an all-time high for this date? Allah has a feeling that the trend shall continue. Oho!

Allahu Akbar.


Posted by Vanderleun at Nov 3, 2003 4:28 PM |  Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Speed Pantheon


Tourists in the Roman Pantheon in Rome


What a 5,000-pound precision-guided bomb did
to a government building in Baghdad.

Source, Bottom Image: American Heritage


Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 28, 2003 5:23 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"I Have Seen the Future and It Is $4.95 a Month"

Michael's Web is on a roll:
===
The Chinese Space Program's Insidious Mission
Dateline, March 30, 2006

Today China announced "The People's Network", whose motto is "All content for all the people, all the time".

In the RIAA's worst nightmare, for $4.95 a month, The People's Network allows anyone, anywhere, to upload or download anything, without regard for "capitalistic" copyright or patent restrictions. On the first day alone, over 1 million people, or roughly 1/100th of the connected population, had signed up.

In 2003, China's first foray into manned space travel was lauded as a benefit to all mankind (and not the threat that some had envisioned).
===

There's more right here. Check in and see if the RIAA's response was to launch 3 Billion Ballistic Lawsuits.


Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 26, 2003 4:56 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Letter from the Front

The indispensible LGF has an interesting excerpt from the infinite LGF email stack. It is from a soldier in Iraq to his wife. Subject: Fighting a War With Hands Tied

...The Army can stop them. They know where the enemy artillery is coming from and can fire back. But the politicians are afraid to let us use this weapon because the Iraqis are firing from a village. The politicians are afraid of civilian casualties and collateral damage. You know what? Those damn villagers shelter, feed, and protect the bastard mortar crew who's attacking us. They deserve to get a few high explosive rounds dropped on their heads. They deserve a taste of their own medicine. And the next time some Islamic fanatic talks about how great martyrdom is, I vote we send him to Allah right then and there...


Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 22, 2003 6:43 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Site to See... If You Can Bear It.

Those who would argue that we can make our peace with Totalitarian states or institutions, must first answer the evidence found at:Freedom, Democide, War.

This morally staggering collection of the evidence, photographic and otherwise, for 174,000,000 deaths at the hands of state power should give pause to the most committed of appeasers among us. At the same time, it will give a hope tempered by evidence and experience, to those who believe that Freedom is the only path to a lasting peace on the earth.

The premise of this site is:

It is true that democratic freedom is an engine of national and individual wealth and prosperity. Hardly known, however, is that freedom also saves millions of lives from famine, disease, war, collective violence, and democide (genocide and mass murder). That is, the more freedom, the greater the human security and the less the violence. Conversely, the more power governments have, the more human insecurity and violence. In short: to our realization that power impoverishes we must also add that power kills.

Through theoretical analysis, historical case studies, empirical data, and quantitative analyses, this web site shows that:

# Freedom is a basic human right recognized by the United Nations and international treaties, and is the heart of social justice.

# Freedom is an engine of economic and human development, and scientific and technological advancement.

# Freedom ameliorates the problem of mass poverty.

# Free people do not suffer from and never have had famines, and by theory, should not. Freedom is therefore a solution to hunger and famine.

# Free people have the least internal violence, turmoil, and political instability.

# Free people have virtually no government genocide and mass murder, and for good theoretical reasons. Freedom is therefore a solution to genocide and mass murder; the only practical means of making sure that "Never again!"

# Free people do not make war on each other, and the greater the freedom within two nations, the less violence between them.

# Freedom is a method of nonviolence--the most peaceful nations are those whose people are free.

To see what occurs when nations are not free, take a sobering tour of the picture galleries.


Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 19, 2003 7:57 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Religion of Peace and Tolerance
We are actually very strong. 1.3 billion people cannot be simply wiped out. The Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.

We may not be able to do that. We may not be able to unite all the 1.3 billion Muslims. We may not be able to get all the Muslim Governments to act in concert. But even if we can get a third of the ummah and a third of the Muslim states to act together, we can already do something.

Keynote speech by Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the opening of the 10th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference.


Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 17, 2003 4:48 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Note to Radical Islam: Driving Israel Into the Sea May Not Be Such a Good Idea After All

Israel Can Launch Nuclear Weapons from Subs

Reuters - U.S. and Israeli officials say Israel has modified U.S.-made Harpoon cruise missiles so it can launch nuclear warheads from submarines, the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday.

[ Yahoo News]

Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 11, 2003 10:31 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Unbearable Clarity of Victor Hanson

I tried to say it here but Victor Davis Hanson, as always, says it much better (and more concisely) inLegends of the Fall: More myths about the current war.

"The war is against 'terror'." As a number of astute observers have reminded us, terror is a method, not an enemy. And we are no more in a war against it than we were once fighting the scourge of Zeros or the plague of Soviet MiGs.

Such vague, loose nomenclature is reassuring, of course, in our therapeutic society. It ensures that we are not really angry at any one person or nation, but rather at an abstraction as if somewhere there were soldiers with caps embroidered, " Republic of Terror," or crowds chanting "Up with Terror, Down with the USA," or perhaps thuggish leaders in sunglasses and khaki who beat their shoes at the U.N. and warn, "Terrorism will bury you."

In fact, those who employ terror of the type that culminated (rather than began) on September 11 are real people with real government backing. They cannot operate without money, havens, and at least passive complicity. Who are they? Aside from the deposed Taliban, al Qaeda, of course; but also Hezbollah and its sponsors in Iran as well as Islamofascist groups funded and abetted by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. After 9/11, any autocratic country in the Middle East that had recently gone to war with the United States and cumulatively required 350,000 American air sorties, twelve years, $20 billion of policing, and occupation of two-thirds of its airspace to prevent genocide was an enemy, both de facto and given Iraq's violation of the armistice accords of 1991 de jure. That Abu Abbas and Abu Nidal were in Baghdad before the war, and al Qaeda afterward, is the expected calculus of the Hussein regime and its noxious fumes.

While we may be in various stages of bellicosity with differing states, the fact is that after September 11 we will either accept defeat and stay within our borders to fight a defensive war of hosing down fires, bulldozing rubble, arresting terrorist cells, and hoping to appease or buy off our enemies abroad or we will eventually have to confront Syria, Lebanon's Bekka Valley, Saudi Arabia, and Iran with a clear request to change and come over to civilization, or join the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.

The remainder of Hanson's insights are in the National Review Online

Alert via the ever-watchful LGF ]


Posted by Vanderleun at Oct 10, 2003 10:25 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Straight Talk About Nuclear Proliferation

A lucid and balanced article at Tech Central, The Game Theory of Nuclear Proliferation by Tyler Cowen is worth reading whole and passing along. The nub of his argument is:

When we confront an opponent with nuclear weapons, we will misread cues, signals, threats, and responses, most of all when the opponent stands outside of Western culture. They will misread us in turn. We run the risk of unintended escalation from deluded sets of leaders, noting that you need only one side to make a fatal mistake. The more countries have nuclear weapons, the more likely is such a mistake to happen, and we haven't even considered the problem of non-deterrable terrorists. That is why I view the nuclear future with trepidation.
You might want to clip this and save it for the next person who tries to convince you we should continue to pay-off the North Koreans.


Posted by Van der Leun at Sep 26, 2003 6:28 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Always Another Martyr in the Line

yasser.jpg
Give me back my broken night
My secret room, my secret life
It's lonely here
There's no one left to torture
Give me absolute control
Over every living soul
And lie beside me, baby
That's an order!

-- Leonard Cohen, "The Future"


Image via LGF


Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 13, 2003 10:24 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Scraping the Icing Off the Galapagos


No icing on this cake.

Our far-flung correspondents: Michael Wilson is back from a sojourn in the Galapagos with an interesting analysis of how that remote ecosystem functions, and a hopeful prognosis for the future of the islands at Michael's Web: Galapagos

What makes [ecological management] striking in the Galapagos is how well it works. Animals there aren't "tame", they just don't care about you, any more than they would a rock or other animal not recognized as food or prey. Sea lions find people interesting, not because they're people, but because they find everything interesting, from sharks, to shells, to anchor lines. We just happen to be more extra cast members in the little theatre of their lives.

You see the same thing in Botswana's safari camps, or in the arctic. In he latter case, you don't go on land when you see polar bears because they regard you as part of the landscape (except that you're part of the food chain in their case). Sure, the older ones (who remember when they were hunted for their pelts) are still shy, and they all understandably avoid things like large ships, but by and large people have been reduced to insignificant features of the landscape.


Posted by Van der Leun at Sep 12, 2003 10:59 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Tomorrow

A view from decades hence as brilliantly presented at Silent Running in There's going to be a war

"Doesn't change a thing Timmy - I remember it today as clear as if it were just yesterday. That fireman looking up as the first plane dove into the tower like a swimmer going into a swimming pool. The second plane banking..."

"I remember Granddad, you only told me, like, a zillion times. But you know, other things happened too, not just the start of the War."

"Yes, of course. Seattle was a terrible day for us all, and so was Brisbane. And the death toll from the Al-Qaeda Influenza was one of the worst pandemics in history, sure. But you see Timmy, by then, we had steeled ourselves."

"What, you didn't care as much, you'd become blase about civillian casualties?"

"Absolutely not! We NEVER grew callous, not even about their civillians, despite what your university history lecturers may have told you. But it was different from that first day."

"How so?"

"September 11th shocked us. We didn't expect it. It came literally out of a clear blue sky. I knew right there and then that the world I knew was gone, and it wasn't coming back. Ever."

"But Seattle..."

"I think we'd already accepted that we were in a war, and that there'd be casualties. When I saw that mushroom cloud Timmy, I have to tell you it wasn't like September 11th. There was a sort of grim fatalism when that happened. Like when you're in uniform, and the guy next to you catches a bullet. He's gone, sure, it's a goddamn tragedy, but you don't have time to think about it. You still have a job to do."

"That's a bit cold."

"No, not cold. Neccessary. After Seattle, some folks thought everything would change, that there'd be some sort of negotiation. Huh! With who? About what? The difference between Seattle and New York is that Seattle happened to us when we were all soldiers and knew it. New York happened when we were civillians. There's a difference."

Pointer via LGF


Posted by Vanderleun at Sep 1, 2003 9:46 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Replaying the Tet: Are the Old Lies Really That Good?

The incisive and brilliantly written Belmont Club boasts the most insightful analysis of the game the large media are currently playing in:

Replaying the Tet

The leftwing media has hit upon the possible winning strategy of describing every event in the world as a setback for the Bush Administration. Both the attack by Hamas on a Jerusalem bus and the Israeli retaliatory execution of the perpetrator are portrayed as setbacks. The American acceptance of a United Nations refusal to guard its headquarters is a setback. The American attempt to improve cooperation with the UN to prevent further attacks is a humiliating admission of its indispensable legitimacy. The Afghan arrest of dozens of Taliban only proves that the threat has grown larger. Ten thousand wholly avoidable deaths due to a French heat wave illustrate the American culpability for Global Warming. Given this, it is hardly surprising that the Jews are about to be sued by the Egyptians (hat tip Across the Atlantic) for escaping during the Exodus. Yet despite the apparent inventiveness of the 'setbacks', the concept is wholly derivative. The Big Lie is a tactic as old as the Left itself. One in which they repose much confidence. In 1968 the press portrayed the disastrous North Vietnamese Tet offensive as a Communist victory and bluffed the real victors into retreating from the battlefield. Surely they can do it again?

Two problems stand in the fabulist's path. The first is that while the North Vietnamese had no ability to chase a retreating US army back to California the jihadists will almost certainly follow a withdrawing America right back to the streets of New York -- and London and Sydney. The second is the existence of alternative sources of news that make it impossible to sustain a Walter Duranty-like lie for very long. A fiction cannot be maintained when reality can make an imminent appearance. Perhaps if the Internet had never been invented by Al Gore.


People often end such an except by advising their readers to "read the whole thing." You might instead consider reading the whole site.


Posted by Van der Leun at Aug 31, 2003 7:20 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Time to Withdraw the US from the US

It's a great relief that the brilliant David Warren is back on the job at ESSAYS ON OUR TIMES - - Nation-building. Where else would we get a dose of common sense like this:

Should the Americans withdraw from Detroit? While they have been able to hold Detroit since General Harrison recaptured it after the Battle of Lake Erie (in 1813), hardly a day now goes by in which there is not an ambush or a killing. The rate has been rising through Detroit's notoriously long hot summer.

If the standard is one killing per day -- the current average in Iraq is a little less than that -- then the U.S. should also withdraw from Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. An analysis of the statistics, in proportional terms, suggests further quick withdrawals from Memphis, Dallas, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and of course, Washington, DC.

Pay no attention to the sycophantic supporters of the President, who argue that anything resembling a U.S. retreat will leave the world in chaos. These are the people who got the U.S. into the quagmire in the first place, by stepping aboard the Mayflower. They said the occupation of America would be a cakewalk. They said the Indians would dance in the streets when they arrived. Opinion is already shifting, and in New England, where people are much more angry with President Madison than with America's foreign enemies, opposition to the War of 1812 is running very high.


Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 30, 2003 11:27 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
David Warren's Question

One of the finest online essayists, David Warren is back from vacation with a troubling but perceptive essay: One-A-Day.

He notes the mounting media campaign to reverse the gains in Iraq and to convince the American people to go back to sleep. The question at the end is:

The question on my mind is thus, will the Americans funk out? And the only thing I can say for sure, is that if they do, it will be an unparalleled disaster. For 9/11 itself was the payback for the last U.S. funk-out from its responsibilities as a superpower.

He's correct.


Posted by Van der Leun at Aug 28, 2003 12:19 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Update: Memo to Israel

The Memo to Israel from Palestine published here on August 22 has just been picked up by the Arutz Sheva - Israel National News

Date: To Be Determined
To: The Palestinian People
From: The People of Israel

Re: Final Notice Before the Termination of Our Relationship
(To be filed in your "Permanent Conduct Record")

As you know from our repeated meetings over many years, we have repeatedly done our best to accommodate your incessant demands regarding employment, compensation, housing allowances, health benefits, and other items of mutual interest as we have endeavored to work together on "Project Peace in the Middle East."

More at the link above.

What can I say other that I am very pleased and flattered.


Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 28, 2003 11:24 AM |  Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
'X' Marks the Spots

wanted.jpg

'Most-wanted' posters of Saddam, dead sons released

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Coalition officials Wednesday released a new series of "most-wanted" posters for Saddam Hussein, announcing the $25 million reward for the former Iraqi leader whose image is shown next to photos of his sons, killed last month by U.S. forces.

Iraqi police and U.S. soldiers in Baghdad will distribute thousands of leaflets featuring the images, as well as other brochures offering rewards of up to $10,000 for information about anti-coalition activities, according to the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The two most-wanted posters show a picture of Saddam's face, next to images of his sons with large X's over their faces, offering up to $25 million for "any information leading to the arrest or proof of death of Saddam Hussein."


The "Coalition Provisional Authority" tag up the right side of the poster is a deft touch.


Posted by Van der Leun at Aug 27, 2003 6:39 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Okay, Arabs are Sane and Islam is a Religion of Peace, Right? Right!

Found at the ever-so-sweet bitter sanity:

Wait, I thought "Chutzpah" was a Yiddish word...

I admit I'm really hoping that the Onion has hacked MEMRI, but if not, it seems a group of Arabs resident in Switzerland is suing all Jews because, they allege, during the Exodus they took not only themselves, but trillions of tons of gold, along with jewels, silver, and kitchen utensils (??).

Dr. Hilmi: [...] a group of Egyptians in Switzerland has opened the case of the so-called 'great exodus of the Jews from Pharaonic Egypt.' At that time, they stole from the Pharaonic Egyptians gold, jewelry, cooking utensils, silver ornaments, clothing, and more, leaving Egypt in the middle of the night with all this wealth, which today is priceless."

I believe the United States is currently shipping about $3 Billion a year to Egypt. No wonder these guys can live in Switzerland.


Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 24, 2003 3:47 PM |  Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Steyn Sums It Up

The waffling global mindset that caused the bombing of the UN Headquarters in Baghdad last week is nicely framed by the brilliant Mark Steyn in: Iraq is battlefield for war vs. terror

Well, that's the luck of the draw at the UN, where so far this year Libya, Iraq and Syria have found themselves heading up the Human Rights Commission, the Disarmament Committee and the Security Council. The UN's subscription to this charade may be necessary in New York, but what's tragic is that they seem to have conducted their affairs in Baghdad much the same way. Offers of increased U.S. military protection were turned down. Their old Iraqi security guards, all agents of Saddam's Secret Service there to spy on the UN, were allowed by the organization to carry on working at the compound. And sitting in the middle of an unprotected complex staffed by ex-Saddamite spies was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the individual most directly credited with midwifing East Timor into an independent democratic state. Osama bin Laden (or rather whoever makes his audiocassettes) and the Bali bombers have both cited East Timor as high up on their long list of grievances: the carving out, as they see it, of part of the territory of the world's largest Islamic nation to create a mainly Christian state. Now they've managed to kill the fellow responsible. Any way you look at it, that's quite a feather in their turbans.
The atmosphere of recrimination, cowardice and appeasement that thickens daily is also listed by Steyn:
At the moment, there's only one hyperpower (the United States), one great power (the United Kingdom) and one regional power (Australia) that are serious about the threat of Islamist terrorism. There's also Israel, of course, but Israel's disinclination to have its bus passengers blown to smithereens is seen as evidence of its ''obstinacy'' and unwillingness to get the ''peace process'' back ''on track.'' What a difference it would make if one or two other G-7 nations were to get serious about the battle and be a reliable vote in international councils. But who? France? It's all business to them, unless al-Qaida are careless enough to blow up the Eiffel Tower. Canada? Canadians get blown up in Bali, murdered in Iran, tortured in Saudi Arabia, die in the rubble of the UN building in Baghdad--and their government shrugs. Belgium? They'd rather issue a warrant for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld than Chemical Ali.
This article is not just worth reading, it is worth thinking about as well. It is unclear what it will take for the nations of the civilized world to finally pull together to eliminate the people, forces, institutions and beliefs that threaten them, but it will obviously have to be something far more terrible than we have seen to date. And it will come.


Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 24, 2003 9:53 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Pattern

The intifada was unleashed during negotiations and concessions. The World Trade Center and Pentagon were bombed in a time of peace after a decade of forbearance in the face of continual affronts. The killing in Afghanistan focuses on aid workers and restorers. And the U.N. complex in Baghdad was not a casualty of war, but rather targeted during the postbellum efforts to feed, clothe, and rebuild civil society. There is a pattern here.
From:Victor Davis Hanson : Phase Three?
The enemy is growing desperate.


EARTH TO UNITED NATIONS: First You Fort Up. Then You Hand Out the Wampum

kofi_annan.jpg
Come On Down to Crazy Kofis! Our Security is INSANE!

The US just can't catch a break from the towering pile of greed and ineptitude that goes by the name of the United Nations. Following the deadly 1,000 pound car bomb attack that reduced its headquarters to rubble, one of the first orders of business from Annan was to blame the US for not stopping it. Of course, a bit later, we learn that it was the UN's own lassitude and vision of itself as a benevolent entity that doomed over 20 UN workers in the Attack on the UN in Iraq

It emerged Wednesday that amid the rubble are the remains of what would have been a concrete barrier that the UN had begun to build to prevent vehicles packed with explosives from being parked near the compound -- as happened Tuesday with devastating results. At least 20 people were killed, including two Canadians.

Building the planned 12-foot barrier earlier might have made a difference, UN officials conceded.

Oh, yes, it "might have made a difference." We thought this little lesson was learned long ago in Lebanon by the US Marines: "First you dig in and then you hand out the candy bars." Must have slipped the UN's mindset. It would seem that the UN has such a high opinion of itself as the world's primo humanitarian relief agency that it feels nobody in their right mind would harm it.

Alas, the truth is that Iraq is now home to the world's major surplus of people who are not in their right mind; people who, indeed, have no right mind at all; people whose idea of a having a good day is to kill others in massive quantities whenever possible.

Annan rejected, however, Washington's reasoning that UN officials in Baghdad had refused offers by U.S. forces in Iraq to protect the compound.

"Nobody (asks) you if you want the police to patrol your neighborhood," he said as he returned to UN headquarters after cutting short his holiday in Europe. "They make the assessment that patrol and protection is needed, and then they start, and that's what should be done in Iraq."

Let’s get this straight. According to Annan the US is at fault because it didn’t act like the cop on the block without being asked? According to other sources, the US offered security -- as referenced above -- but the UN declined because it didn’t want to be seen as abetting the victors in a war it failed to support. The UN wanted, in short, to enjoy the fruits of victory, to insert itself as a player in Iraq, but to shirk the responsibility that comes with it. By trying to have it both ways, it got neither. All it got was body bags going home to many different countries.

UN officials say the United States, as an "occupying power," is responsible under international law for providing security. But they also admit they did not want to frighten ordinary Iraqis by having their compound heavily fortified.
Yes, no sense in scaring “ordinary Iraqis” by fortifying your position in a war-zone. Those Iraqis have probably missed the decades of murder, insanity and death that have been the hallmark of their society. They’d naturally be loathe to come and get their UN handouts if they saw a truck-bomb barrier and guard posts around the building. Not for ordinary Iraquis to brave a checkpoint in search of food, water and money. Nope. Never happen. The United Nations is known to them to be a vast machine for throwing them into paper shredders and gassing their village. Best to stay far away unless the UN drapes the headquarters in balloons, colorful streamers, and bright banners declaring, in Pharsee, “Come On Down to Crazy Kofi’s! Our Security is INSANE!”

Or as spokesman Fred Eckhard so coyly put it:

"Security around our location was not as secure as you might find at the U.S. compound, and that was a decision we made so the offices were available to the people. We did not think at the time we were taking an unnecessary risk."
Another item for the vast UN filing cabinet marked “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time.”


Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 21, 2003 11:27 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Okay, Have It Your Way

We choose door number two:

"It is jihad until victory or martyrdom," Hamas said in a statement officially announcing its abandonment of the cease-fire.

Islamic Militant Groups Say Truce Dead After Israeli Strike


Posted by Van der Leun at Aug 21, 2003 10:11 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Israelis, Jews, Americans, Children, Infants: All Equal to Islamic Killers


Shmuel Tabenfeld, 5 months, of New Square, New York
was killed along with his mother Goldie Tabenfeld in a
suicide bombing of a bus returning from the Western Wall
in Jerusalem on Tuesday August 19, 2003.
(Photo via LGF )

Of the 18 known dead from the bomb set off by a Palestinian killer, five were Americans. Found within this story: Palestinians Hold Meeting on Bus Bombing

Five of those killed were American citizens, a U.S. Embassy official said Wednesday.

They included Mordechai Reinitz, 47, and his son, Yitzhak, 9, who lived in the Israeli coastal town of Netanya and had dual Israeli-American citizenship, embassy spokesman Paul Patin said. Their U.S. hometown was not immediately known.

Goldie Taubenfeld, 43, and her 5-month-old son Shmuel, who were visiting from New Square, N.Y., also were killed Patin said. Taubenfeld was the mother of 13, said New York State Assemblyman Ryan Karben, whose district includes New Square.

The fifth American victim was identified as Tehilla Nathanson, 3, from Monsey, N.Y.

....Yitzhak Reinitz, 9 years old, hometown unknown .... Shmuel Taubenfeld, 5-months old, from New Square, New York .... Tehilla Nathanson, 3 years old, from Monsey, New York.


Posted by Van der Leun at Aug 20, 2003 11:14 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Question of the Decade
We are told that there is a difference between extremist Islam and peaceloving normal Islam.

Judging by their behavior, Muslims are anti-West, anti-Democracy, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, anti-Buddhist, and anti-Hindu. Muslims are involved in 20 of the 22 conflicts going on in the world: in Afghanistan, Bosnia, East Timor, India, Indonesia, Kashmir, Macedonia, the Middle East, Pakistan, Philippines, Kurdistan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Uganda.

Doesn't this mean that extremist Islam is the norm and normal Islam is extremely rare?

As posed on Think Israel


Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 20, 2003 10:59 AM |  Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
What a Drag: Pentagon Nixes Saddam Pix

On the 18 the New York Post reported on the plan in Iraq to humiliate Saddam by posting flyers all around Baghdad depicting him in various "personas" culled from the wags on the Internet. Elvis and Zsa-Zsa Gabor were the leading contenders in this Web-created wave of psych-war:

"We're going to do something devious with these," Lt. Col. Steve Russell told Reuters last week, as he looked at the spoof Saddam photos taken from the Web, which may be slapped up around Tikrit as early as today. "Most of the locals will love 'em, and they'll be laughing. But the bad guys are going to be upset, which will just make it easier for us to know who they are."

Sgt. David Cade, a psychological-operations specialist, said, "It's mostly good for troop morale, but if we can put these posters up in Tikrit, and the enemy can't take them down, then at least it shows who owns the streets."

Then, in less than a day, the killjoys at the Pentagon weighed in:
Angry U.S. generals yesterday ordered an immediate halt to a plan to pepper Saddam's hometown Tikrit with bizarre computer-altered posters of the ex-Iraqi dictator dressed as Elvis - or bare-chested rock star Billy Idol.

The Pentagon feared that local commanders' plan to use the posters, depicted in yesterday's Post and that also include Saddam as a tarted-up Zsa Zsa Gabor and Rita Hayworth, would be too inflammatory. "This is not something we either approved of in advance or condoned. It was the idea of a small patrol unit of the Army 4th's Infantry Division," said a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Well, that's easy for her to say. She doesn't have to find a size 13 pump. Or a dictator in hiding for that matter.


Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 19, 2003 7:29 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Ungrateful Afghans; Part XIV

The least they could do would be to cover "American Pie." -- Offbeat Photos

"One of three Afghan girls who form the group 'Burqa Band' plays the guitar while dressed in the traditional Afghan garment for women, the burqa. The group has become a surprise hit in Germany where the song Burqa Blues is played in clubs."
Note: On their tour, they're going to open for The Taliband.
Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 11, 2003 4:56 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Hanson: The Sane Intellectual

A timely reminder from Victor Hanson as we sink back into our national slumber -- How We Collapse: The home front is more worrisome than the battlefield.

Western societies from ancient Athens to imperial Rome to the French republic rarely collapsed because of a shortage of resources or because foreign enemies proved too numerous or formidable in arms -- even when those enemies were grim Macedonians or Germans. Rather, in times of peace and prosperity there arose an unreal view of the world beyond their borders, one that was the product of insularity brought about by success, and an intellectual arrogance that for some can be the unfortunate byproduct of an enlightened society.

I think we are indulging in this unreal hypercriticism -- even apart from the election-season antics of our politicians -- because we are not being gassed, or shot, or even left hot or hungry. September 11 no longer evokes an image of incinerated firemen, innocents leaping out of skyscrapers, or the stench of flesh and melted plastic, but rather: squabbles over architectural designs, lawsuits, snarling over Mr. Ashcroft's new statutes, or concerns about being too rude to the Arab street.

Such smug dispensation -- as profoundly amoral as it is -- provides us, on the cheap and at a safe distance, with a sense of moral worth. Or perhaps censuring from the bleachers enables us to feel superior to those less fortunate who are still captive to their primordial appetites. We prefer to cringe at the thought that others like to see proof of their killers' deaths, prefer to shoot rather than die capturing a mass murderer, and welcome a generic profile of those who wish to kill them en masse.We should take stock of this dangerous and growing mindset -- and remember that wealthy, sophisticated societies like our own are rarely overrun. They simply implode -- whining and debating still to the end, even as they pass away.


Posted by Vanderleun at Aug 11, 2003 10:27 AM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
My Future Business Arrangement with Mrs. Charles Jewel Taylor of Liberia

jewel.jpg

Taylor's third wife, Jewel, is "a trained economist"... or so the sexed-up BBC tells me. Hard to credit given the below zero level of Liberia's economy under the Mr. and Mrs. Taylor regime, but there might be something in it.

Like you, I've spent endless weeks lately wondering how I, a mere mortal, can help the oppressed and unfairly criticized African despot and criminal Charles Taylor on to a happier and more fulfilling life. My answer came from his wife this morning.

Continued...
Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 31, 2003 9:26 AM |  Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Les Etats Unis to France: "Phuque Vous"

The International Herald Tribune notes: U.S. tourists stay away from France

PARIS: The number of American tourists visiting France has dropped dramatically this year, by as much as 80 percent in the first half of 2003, the newspaper Liberation reported Monday, quoting the president of a group representing France's travel agents.

"Our colleagues across the Atlantic no longer schedule France," Balderacchi told the daily newspaper.

Balderacchi's somber assessment was countered by the Tourism Ministry, which put the decrease in American visitors at 30 percent for the first five months of 2003, attributing the decline mainly to the weak dollar.

Oh, mai oui! Le decline au cause de weak dollar. Bien sur, mon brave. Le attitude has rien to do with it. Right? Right.

Hat Tip to Roger Simon


Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 29, 2003 3:36 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Lost City and the Origins of Life


The Atlantis Massif, site of the Lost City

Mysterious and haunting discoveries emerge almost weekly not from outer space but from the depths of our own oceans. One that I find especially chill inducing concerns the structures at the top of the Atlantis Massif:Hydrothermal Vent Systems Could Have Persisted Millions Of Years, Incubated Life

The staying power of seafloor hydrothermal vent systems like the bizarre Lost City vent field is one reason they also may have been incubators of Earth's earliest life, scientists report in a paper published in the July 25 issue of Science.

Discovered just 2 years ago during a National Science Foundation-funded expedition in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, Lost City has the tallest vents ever seen; the 18-story behemoth at the site dwarfs most vents elsewhere by at least 100 feet.

Water is circulated through the vent field by heat from serpentinization, a chemical reaction between seawater and the mantle rock on which Lost City sits, rather than by heat from volcanic activity or magma, responsible for driving hydrothermal venting at sites scientists have been studying since the early 1970s.



Spire of the Lost City

The daily journals of the Lost City Expedition can be found online with entries such as this one:

We drove along the cliff face for about an hour, and only saw veins, carbonate rubble, and steep slopes of serpentinite. Because of this, Debbie decided that we should go further up the cliff, to trace where the carbonate was coming from.When we reached the top of the cliff, we found a broad, flat area that was covered in carbonate, and was the probable source for the pieces we found further down the slope. We grabbed a few samples to finish our exploration to the east. Pat flew us back to Lost City, and we circled around Poseidon, the huge structure in the middle of the field. We were on the lookout for an active vent structure, called the Beehive, that the previous Alvin dive had knocked over. We managed to find the site of venting and took some water samples from this vent. Then we searched until we found the shattered remains of the Beehive. While we were doing this, I was looking out the window at Poseidon. It's so big that I couldn't see the top, the bottom, or around the corner. It is simply unbelievably huge. After I gawked at it for awhile, we still had a little time left to explore to the west of Lost City. Along the western cliff, we saw beautiful outcrops of serpentinite, topped by breccias and carbonate...


Posted by Vanderleun at Jul 27, 2003 10:54 PM |  Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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