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November 07, 2007

Between a rock and a hard place in Pakistan

For the past couple of days I've been trying to work out what I feel about what's happening in Pakistan. Despite Musharraf's claims that the martial law he's declared is to fight Islamist extremists, it's pretty clear the ultimate goal is to hold on to power. The elections in January weren't looking good for him, so he's decided (or will decide, actually) to postpone them. He's a dictator. He should go.

Yeeeaaaahhhh... but...

Pakistan is a tinderbox. The democratic institutions there are pretty weak already, and they operate only because the military allows them to. The country has been invaded by Wahhabi massadras that have introduced large parts of the population to the pleasures of paranoia and fanaticism. The military is infested with Islamist sympathizers who -- so far, anyways -- have been held in check by Musharraf. If Benazir Bhutto got into power, the country would explode.

Maybe. Or maybe it's going to happen anyway. I dunno.

Most of the world's press has come down against Musharraf, so you've probably heard that side of the argument. But David Warren dares to argue for him, so have a listen to the other side.

October 22, 2007

Quote of the day

Hollywood’s goal is the same as the terrorists: to dishearten the American people so we pull out of Iraq. Al-Qaeda uses bombs. Thus far Hollywood’s used A Mighty Heart, In The Valley Of Elah, and Rendition. Which, as it turns out, are also bombs.
Dirty Harry at Libertas

October 08, 2007

Nothing like an open mind

I didn't agree with obstructing Liberal defense critic Denis Coderre from visiting Afghanistan (if he even was obstructed, which is not clear), but he certainly can't claim to be doing any fact-finding. He's got his fingers stuck deep in his ears:

Liberal Defence critic Denis Coderre arrived in Afghanistan on Monday to hear from Canadian troops on Canada's role in the conflict.

But Mr. Coderre said that no matter what he hears in the coming days, it won't change his party's position calling for an end to Canada's combat mission when the current mandate expires in February 2009.

“No, in the sense that, about the combat mission we are pretty clear about the notion of rotation,” Mr. Coderre told reporters after his arrival at Kandahar Airfield.

“We feel that rotation is in order and that we should put an end to the combat mission.”

I doubt Maxime Bernier learned much he didn't know already on his trip, but at least he brought some Joe Louis artery cloggers for the troops. That's class.

October 05, 2007

Why we're in Afghanistan

It's good to have a reminder every now and then. Afghanistan's Education Minister Mohammed Atmar was in Toronto yesterday:

"You protect our people and advance the basic rights of our people," he said. "Our government is so proud to convey to you that you are our greatest ally -- an ally that we depend upon, an ally to be appreciated, an ally that we will long be grateful to."

Atmar's words of praise came on the same day Canada pledged $60 million over four years to education in Afghanistan.

Atmar paid particular tribute to "the brave Canadian men and women in uniform who are literally protecting my kids as they go to school."

What Canada has done in Afghanistan is "something that will be written in golden script in our history books," he said.

The head of UNICEF Canada was also there and clearly agreed:
"Canadians need to know this and not give up on Afghanistan," said Nigel Fisher, president of UNICEF Canada.

"If you look at a map of Afghanistan, it is important to see that the area of Taliban activity is only one third of the country. Most Canadians don't know that in two thirds of the country, there is considerable progress and the Taliban is not a problem."

"Our presence in Afghanistan has to be long-term," Fisher added, "because development is a long-term issue. And when you look at the chaos that Afghanistan came out of in 2002 - 25 years of predatory leadership, of foreign invasion and civil war - you don't turn that around in a couple of years."

But what do these neocons know? Maybe we should listen to Jack Layton, because he has a plan that sounds absolutely foolproof:
I do know that it’s the wrong mission for Canada. It’s not, in our view – and I believe in many Canadians’ view – the way to ultimately achieve peace. Human rights and democracy in Afghanistan? What you see there right now is about as far from peace, human rights, and democracy as you can find. We should be withdrawing [from southern Afghanistan], and trying to use our diplomatic abilities and influences to try to engineer a process of comprehensive peace in that whole region.
I've searched and searched the NDP's website looking for the magic words that our diplomats could yell from the sidelines to bring the country peace, human rights, and democracy after our forces have left, but haven't been able to find them.

September 13, 2007

Not everyone in Quebec wants to abandon Afghanistan

Last weekend, local businessman Andre Dupont took out a full page ad in Le Droit, the largest French language paper in the Gatineau-Hull-Ottawa region.

An English translation:

Be proud of our Canadian military

Nobody is in favour of War

No one is in favour of war for the sake of war.

But when our country mobilizes to defend people’s freedom, democracy and peace, we have the duty to support our soldiers, to acknowledge their courage and to honour them.

We should be proud of these men and women who put their lives on the line every day in the name of defending our institutions and our freedom.

Our prayers go out to our soldiers deployed in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world, and there is a special place in our heart for those who fall on the battlefield and give their lives carrying out their mission. To their families, their wives and their husbands and their children we offer our most profound sympathies.

Would that their sacrifice serve as an example to all of us, and their example inspire the next generation.

Andre Dupont

You really have to respect someone willing to spend his own money and risk losing customers to state something he believes in and feels needs more support.

Feel free to use the image and translation on your own blog to help spread Andre's message.

Now, back to work...

September 07, 2007

'Bin Laden' speaks

And the Ottawa Citizen -- first, as far as I can tell -- has the full transcript.

What a bunch of nonsense it is. A couple of years ago, bin Laden was getting his material from Michael Moore. Now it seems composed of a mish-mash of Chavez speeches, NDP pamphlets, Noam Chomsky, and some guy muttering to himself in a bus station somewhere. He's getting more sophisticated in his lunacy.

It seems to me that bin Laden -- if this is bin Laden, and I'm still kind of doubtful of that -- is appealing in a ham-fisted way to those in the West he considers his allies. I'll generously assume that they aren't really his allies, but by their actions, sometimes it isn't easy to tell. They fooled him, anyways. Perhaps for this reason, most of the news stories' I've seen on this new tape (ie. BBC's 'extracts' from the transcript) are overlooking these blatant and desperate attempts at finding common ground with the modern left. Here's a few of the choicer passages that probably won't find their way into the pages of the Globe or the Star tomorrow:

In the Vietnam War, the leaders of the White House claimed at the time that it was a necessary and crucial war, and during it, Rumsfeld and his aides murdered two million villagers. And when Kennedy took over the presidency and deviated from the general line of policy drawn up for the White House and wanted to stop this unjust war, that angered the owners of the major corporations who were benefiting from its continuation.

And so Kennedy was killed, and Al-Qaeda wasn't present at that time, but rather, those corporations were the primary beneficiary from his killing. And the war continued after that for approximately one decade.

[...]

This war [Iraq] was entirely unnecessary, as testified to by your own reports. And among the most capable of those from your own side who speak to you on this topic and on the manufacturing of public opinion is Noam Chomsky, who spoke sober words of advice prior to the war, but the leader of Texas doesn't like those who give advice. The entire world came out in unprecedented demonstrations to warn against waging the war and describe its true nature in eloquent terms like "no to spilling red blood for black oil," yet he paid them no heed. It is time for humankind to know that talk of the rights of man and freedom are lies produced by the White House and its allies in Europe to deceive humans, take control of their destinies and subjugate them.

So in answer to the question about the causes of the Democrats' failure to stop the war, I say: they are the same reasons which led to the failure of former president Kennedy to stop the Vietnam war.

Those with real power and influence are those with the most capital. And since the democratic system permits major corporations to back candidates, be they presidential or congressional, there shouldn't be any cause for astonishment - and there isn't any - in the Democrats' failure to stop the war. And you're the ones who have the saying which goes, "Money talks." And I tell you: after the failure of your representatives in the Democratic Party to implement your desire to stop the war, you can still carry anti-war placards and spread out in the streets of major cities, then go back to your homes, but that will be of no use and will lead to the prolonging of the war.

[...]

In fact, the life of all of mankind is in danger because of the global warming resulting to a large degree from the emissions of the factories of the major corporations, yet despite that, the representative of these corporations in the White House insists on not observing the Kyoto accord, with the knowledge that the statistic speaks of the death and displacement of the millions of human beings because of that, especially in Africa.

[...]

And Iraq and Afghanistan and their tragedies; and the reeling of many of you under the burden of interest-related debts, insane taxes and real estate mortgages; global warming and its woes; and the abject poverty and tragic hunger in Africa: all of this is but one side of the grim face of this global system.

So it is imperative that you free yourselves from all of that and search for an alternative, upright methodology in which it is not the business of any class of humanity to lay down its own laws to its own advantage at the expense of the other classes as is the case with you, since the essence of man-made positive laws is that they serve the interests of those with the capital and thus make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

Oh, and he hasn't completely forgotten the more conservative Westerners. Apparently taxes will be much lower when we finally get around to submitting to Allah:
There are no taxes in Islam, but rather there is a limited Zakaat (alms) totaling only 2.5 percent. So beware of the deception of those with the capital.
But can you really believe these kinds of campaign promises? Does he have the numbers to back it up?

July 12, 2007

A must-read takedown of the defeatists

The NY Times editorial last week urging a US retreat from Iraq was one of the most perplexing pieces I writing I have ever read. They seemed to understand that pulling the troops now would trigger a bloodbath that would make the current conflict look trivial, but they didn't seem to care. Victor Davis Hanson takes the whole preposterous thing apart.

(via LGF)

UPDATE: On a related note, take a look at this ABC reporter's attempt to get US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to answer a simple question on whether withdrawal will be good for Iraq. It's obvious he knows the truth too, but just doesn't care.

The comments to this post are also worth a read. There are lots of valuable insights to be found.

June 26, 2007

A short history of Israel

It's not surprising that the world has such a misguided understanding of Israel, given the state of the media today. This 10 minute flash presentation on the history of Israel should be watched by those whose memories have been clouded by excessive exposure to the CBC.

(Via Mitchieville. Again)

May 30, 2007

The case against Iran

Norman Podhoretz reminds us why Iran is such a threat to the world and makes a case for military intervention. Such a thing is almost impossible to imagine now with Bush so weak and the international community so avoidant. But the alternative is much worse.

It was thanks to Munich that "appeasement" became one of the dirtiest words in the whole of our political vocabulary. Yet appeasement had always been an important and entirely respectable tool of diplomacy, signifying the avoidance of war through the alleviation of the other side's grievances. If Hitler had been what his eventual victims imagined he was--that is, a conventional statesman pursuing limited aims and using the threat of war only as a way of strengthening his bargaining position--it would indeed have been possible to appease him and thereby to head off the outbreak of another war.

But Hitler was not a conventional statesman and, although for tactical reasons he would sometimes pretend otherwise, he did not have limited aims. He was a revolutionary seeking to overturn the going international system and to replace it with a new order dominated by Germany, which also meant the political culture of Nazism. As such, he offered only two choices: resistance or submission. Finding this reality unbearable, the world persuaded itself that there was a way out, a third alternative, in negotiations. But given Hitler's objectives, and his barely concealed lust for war, negotiating with him could not conceivably have led to peace. It could have had only one outcome, which was to buy him more time to start a war under more favorable conditions. As most historians now agree, if he had been taken at his own word about his true intentions, he could have been stopped earlier and defeated at an infinitely lower cost.

Which brings us back to Ahmadinejad. Like Hitler, he is a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism. Like Hitler, too, he is entirely open about his intentions, although--again like Hitler--he sometimes pretends that he wants nothing more than his country's just due. In the case of Hitler in 1938, this pretense took the form of claiming that no further demands would be made if sovereignty over the Sudetenland were transferred from Czechoslovakia to Germany. In the case of Ahmadinejad, the pretense takes the form of claiming that Iran is building nuclear facilities only for peaceful purposes and not for the production of bombs.

But here we come upon an interesting difference between then and now. Whereas in the late 1930s almost everyone believed, or talked himself into believing, that Hitler was telling the truth when he said he had no further demands to make after Munich, no one believes that Ahmadinejad is telling the truth when he says that Iran has no wish to develop a nuclear arsenal. In addition, virtually everyone agrees that it would be best if he were stopped, only not, God forbid, with military force--not now, and not ever.

But if military force is ruled out, what is supposed to do the job?

May 17, 2007

Life in Gaza

Reporting from the Middle East seems just to be about numbers these days. In your typical short newscast, you hear a report about 2 dead here, 5 dead somewhere else, and occasionally -- and all too often -- a larger atrocity in which the numbers climb into the double digits. But little is reported on the day-to-day horrors that must be endured by the innocents trapped in the war zone. In Gaza, where two flavours of Islamic fascists are fighting it out for supremacy, life is miserable:

But in Gaza, night and day, the city is a ghost town. Hardly anyone dares step outside. There are rumours Fateh gunmen are simply shooting at anything that moves, and some families have been trapped in their homes for four days. Electricity supplies are low, and fuel shipments were cut off following Tuesday's violence at the Karni checkpoint, Gaza's only supply line.

Following a strike by the municipality over unpaid wages, rubbish is piled high in the streets. It's set alight every night, filling the air with an acrid smoke. Now, even if the city's cleaners wanted to return to work, the streets are too dangerous.

Dr. Musa El-Haddad - a retired doctor living in Gaza City - went on to the streets yesterday to buy enough bread for three days. His family have already run out of coffee. All but a few shops selling essentials are closed in the strip's capital city after masked gunmen - on a rampage through the streets and shooting into the air - harassed most shopkeepers into locking their doors.

...

We hear reports that residents of several high-rise residential towers in Western Gaza City are trapped inside, their buildings taken over by unidentified gunmen. They've set fire to some of the buildings, burning residents' cars and firing at ambulances. Gunmen are searching every flat for suspects. It's impossible to evacuate any of the wounded.

We manage to contact a woman named Um Muntaser in Borj El-Saleh, a residential tower in the west of the city. She tells us over the phone that some children in the building are wounded, and her son passed out from smoke inhalation. Nobody can move, and gunmen are paying no attention to the innocents around them.

"We have been living in our kitchen for the past two days," says the 42-year-old mother of seven. "Eleven or 12 apartments have been burned... There are snipers everywhere... We are human beings. What's our fault in all this?"

Well, you possibly shouldn't have elected these guys. But I think with the money, arms and rhetoric Iran has been sending in, this probably would have happened anyway. What a nightmare.

May 11, 2007

'The road to Heaven-on-Earth passes through Hell and never re-emerges'

Front Page magazine has a great interview with Canadian poet David Solway, who dramatically shifted his worldview after 9/11. In it, Solway warns of the threat of militant Islam and berates the modern left for their tacit support of this ideology. Because of his command of language, he is able to do this very well. Here he describes the Canadian political scene:

Ignoring the supple manoeuvring of the enemy within and the gathering storm of the enemy without, we concentrate instead on tiny tempests in the nanny-state teapot, cozily swaddled within the cocoon of our facile self-preoccupations. The majority of those who constitute our political elite would steer the country toward a flaccid accommodation with a grimly Hobbesian world, seconded by our dial-a-cause literary organizations with no grip on the way things are. A new government may, hopefully, alter this trend, but the malaise is deep-seated. A telling illustration of this penchant for denial, this flight from reality, was the repealing of anti-terror legislation in the recent parliament at the hands of the pacifist opposition parties, an act for which we are likely to pay a heavy price in the future.

Canada is not only an incoherent country but a country gone soft, more than half its citizenry believing that world peace is achievable through parliamentary posturing, expressions of highfalutin sentiment, unquestioning support for the corrupt and ineffectual U.N., the admission in principle of the equality of all cultural perspectives (with two exceptions: our own and Judaism’s), the enunciation of good intentions and impetuous calls for immediate ceasefire. It is a country that has enfeebled its military to the point at which, as historian Jack Granatstein has indicated in Whose War Is It?, it would be unable to respond effectively to a national catastrophe. It is a country which believes that soldiers are meant to keep the peace even if there is no peace to keep, but that they are certainly not meant to risk their lives on the battlefield. The job of the army is to build schools, hospitals and bridges, but not to prevent the enemy from blowing them up the moment they are in place. Canadians tend to be deeply concerned that the terrorist detainees in Afghanistan—those who plant roadside bombs, kill wantonly, mutilate and behead—may not be receiving proper treatment from the Afghan authorities to whom they have been turned over. That these are members of the same Taliban organization which sheltered al-Qaeda and enthusiastically endorsed and abetted its project to murder and maim as many innocent civilians as possible, including those who piously wish to defend the terrorists’ rights and wellbeing, seems of little or no importance.

RTWT, there's plenty more where that came from.

See also: Nick Cohen.

(Hat tip: Dust My Broom)

May 10, 2007

The dangerous tri-border area

LGF has linked to a few stories on the tri-border area where Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil meet. It's pretty lawless, and has become host to Hezbollah and other Islamist groups. In my younger days, I did a bit of travelling and once found myself in that wretched hive of scum and villainy. I blogged about it on my old blog, Moving Target:

During my stay here, I´ve often been mute during many of the conversations going on around me. Knowing no Spanish will do that. But I still manage to have a pretty good idea what´s going on. For example, this afternoon we were driving through this city with a driver we hired back in Argentina. He was going to help us get over to Paraguay. When we parked near the bridge and started walking, I figured we were going to hike over it. Then someone pushed a helmet into my hands and pointed to the back end of a motorcycle. Wait a second, did I miss something?

The next thing I knew, I´m blowing through the crowded market and heading across the bridge in a moto-cab. This guy is dodging cars, trucks and other motorcycles and I´m hanging on to him. This is insane. We come to the border control and don´t even slow down, not that anyone seems to care. And then I was in Ciudad Del Este.

The story concludes here, and pictures can be found here (December 11, 2003).

January 31, 2007

Why is the world upside down?

For the past few years I've had the feeling that global politics is moving into the Twilight Zone. So many politicians, reporters, and members of other elites have been appeasing and making excuses for one of the most vile ideologies in history. The United States and a few of its allies have fought against this ideology, making difficult sacrifices to try to grow democracy in some very poor soil, and those same intellectuals seem very clearly to want this effort to fail. Can it be that they hate Bush so much that they want to see an entire nation fall to fascists so that he doesn't have the honour of a 'victory'? Sure, there have been mistakes, but if I recall my history, the allies in World War II didn't follow a perfectly executed plan either. But they won, despite setbacks and disagreements, because they understood the consequences of defeat.

[Former?] Leftist Nick Cohen can't understand what's going on either, and has some questions for his 'comrades':

Why is it that apologies for a militant Islam which stands for everything the liberal left is against come from the liberal left? Why will students hear a leftish postmodern theorist defend the exploitation of women in traditional cultures but not a crusty conservative don? After the American and British wars in Bosnia and Kosovo against Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic cleansers, why were men and women of the left denying the existence of Serb concentration camps? As important, why did a European Union that daily announces its commitment to the liberal principles of human rights and international law do nothing as crimes against humanity took place just over its borders? Why is Palestine a cause for the liberal left, but not China, Sudan, Zimbabwe, the Congo or North Korea? Why, even in the case of Palestine, can't those who say they support the Palestinian cause tell you what type of Palestine they would like to see? After the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington why were you as likely to read that a sinister conspiracy of Jews controlled American or British foreign policy in a superior literary journal as in a neo-Nazi hate sheet? And why after the 7/7 attacks on London did leftish rather than right-wing newspapers run pieces excusing suicide bombers who were inspired by a psychopathic theology from the ultra-right?

In short, why is the world upside down?

Read the whole thing, he's just getting warmed up...

January 25, 2007

Dion's Shallow 'Support'

Stephane Dion seems to be making use of the technique his predecessor used to such great effect when he was Prime Minister. Take no position on anything, but talk instead about how important it is to talk:

"We are in Afghanistan to help the population live more securely and to give it, over the coming years, a functional government.

"That is why we are there. To do that we have to know if the mission is working well. What is really happening? We want hearings from the Foreign Affairs committee to know how we can improve this mission.

"We support the troops but we can't support the troops efficiently if we don't know exactly what is happening."

Can't you? I don't know everything that's going on in Afghanistan, and I haven't been invited for any 'fact-finding' tours, but I trust that the men on the ground and their leaders are doing the best they can given the situation. Maybe I'm naive, but I'd rather trust them than a committee of MPs eager to score points. The time for talking has passed, there was a vote on the House of Commons and now is the time for getting on with the job, not second-guessing every decision.

Dion wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants the power to influence and make noise about Afghanistan, but is unwilling to take responsibility for it. Good politics, maybe, but bad for those doing the difficult work on the ground. One only needs to look at the current circus in the US Congress to see what damage having a 'Foreign Affairs committee' digging for dirt would do:

If they were serious and had the courage of their convictions, they'd attempt to cut off funds for the Iraq effort. But that would mean they would have to take responsibility for what happens next. By passing "non-binding resolutions," they can assail Mr. Bush and put all of the burden of success or failure on his shoulders.

This is not to say that the resolution won't have harmful consequences, at home and abroad. At home, it further undermines public support for the Iraq effort. Virginia Republican John Warner even cites a lack of public support to justify his separate non-binding resolution of criticism for Mr. Bush's troop "surge." But public pessimism is in part a response to the rhetoric of failure from political leaders like Mr. Warner. The same Senators then wrap their own retreat in the defeatism they helped to promote.

In Iraq, all of this undermines the morale of the military and makes their task that much harder on the ground. When John McCain asked Lieutenant General David Petraeus that precise question during his confirmation hearing Tuesday, the next commander of Coalition operations in Iraq said, "It would not be a beneficial effect, sir."

And when Joe Lieberman asked if such a resolution would give the enemy cause to believe that Americans were divided, he added, "That's correct, sir." Several Senators protested and demanded that the general stay out of domestic politics, but his only offense was telling the truth. Of course the enemy would take comfort from any Senate declaration that Mr. Bush lacks domestic support.

All of this also applies to the many Congressional efforts to set "benchmarks" or otherwise micromanage the battlefield. Hillary Rodham Clinton says she is "cursed with the responsibility gene" that makes her unwilling to cut off funds, but instead she proposes to set a cap on U.S. troops in the theater. So while General Petraeus says he needs more troops to fulfill his mission, General Clinton says he doesn't. Which battlefield commander do you trust?

House Republicans are little better. They blame Mr. Bush and Iraq for their loss of Congress, rather than their own ethics, earmarks and other failures. So looking ahead to 2008 they now want to distance themselves from the war they voted for, albeit also without actually having to vote against it. Thus their political brainstorm is to demand monthly "benchmarks for success" that the Bush Administration and Iraqis will have to meet.

So every 30 days, General Petraeus and his men will have to take their attention away from the Baghdad campaign and instead report to Congress on how well Iraqis and Americans are communicating with one another, among other crucial matters. Minority Leader John Boehner is even asking Speaker Nancy Pelosi to create another special Congressional committee to look over the general's shoulder. It's a shame Ulysses S. Grant isn't around to tell them where to put their special committee.

Let's not let it happen in Canada.

October 31, 2006

An aggressive 'peace' protester

Mike at the London Fog has a run-in with a comically paranoid protester at one of the sparsely attended protests against Canadian Troops in Afghanistan this weekend. He was bullied and intimidated just because he wore a poppy on his jacket. Now it turns out the thug in question is the vice-president of an NDP riding association. Charming.

No big deal? Imagine if it were a Conservative riding association executive similarly harrassing a counter-protester (which Mike was not acting as) at a 'Support the Troops' rally. The headlines in the Toronto Star couldn't be larger.

October 04, 2006

Giving up the fight

One of the things that astounds me these days is the willingness of so many people to concede defeat and give the moral high ground to Islamist forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean, these guys are the most vile enemies imaginable. They are willing the kill civilians without remorse, and the regimes they would set up were they to be victorious would make Nazi Germany look progressive. And they're weak! They're own leaders admit this. They're completely unable to win an engagement toe-to-toe against the good guys, and have very few safe havens where they can regroup and organize. But their motives are rationalized by the defeatist press, and every unarmed civilian they kill is trumpeted as another milestone on their path to victory. It's madness, as far as I'm concerned.

Mark Steyn is also perplexed by this. I don't think anyone would call him a supporter of the default positions of the MSM, but even he is shocked by the bizarre moral inversion that's happened.

Do you remember the summer of 2001? Shark attacks. Swimming off the Florida coast, a kid called Jessie Arbogast had his arm ripped off. His uncle retrieved the severed limb from the jaws of the predator and killed it. In its editorial on the subject, The New York Times came down on the side of the shark. I thought those days were over. “September 11th was a call to moral seriousness. You cannot compromise with a shark, you cannot negotiate with a suicide bomber,” I wrote. “The next shark to chew up a Florida moppet will get a tougher press, even from The New York Times.”

I must have been drunk. The Times is back to siding with the sharks. Every other week, it leaks details of the government’s new shark-tracking program or demands full Geneva Convention protection for them. On Labor Day, a terrorist opened fire on a group of western tourists in Amman, killing a British subject. Rana Sabbagh-Gargour, correspondent for The Times of London, also came down on the side of the shark, attributing the attack to “mounting frustration on the streets of the Arab world” over the west’s “perceived bias” on Iraq and Lebanon.

Lebanon? Hey, why not? Reuters laid the August Heathrow bomb plot at the feet of Tony Blair for “refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire” in Lebanon. That’s right, folks. You don’t have to invade anyone, you don’t have to be supporting one side or the other even rhetorically, you don’t have to say a word on the subject. Simply being tardy in issuing a press release demanding a ceasefire is a sufficient “root cause”.

Read the whole thing. Perhaps someone can explain this to me.

October 02, 2006

Progress in Afghanistan

A new poll suggests that a majority of Canadians now feel Afghanistan is a lost cause. Based on the way conditions there are reported in the news, I'm not surprised. But huge progress has been made in the country over the past five years, and it's worth protecting. Shere Khan at Dust My Broom has collected some information about the changes and a few stories from the Afghans that have benefited. It's useful stuff to remember as the Canadian media starts to drift into the default defeatist mode of their American and British counterparts.

September 26, 2006

You gotta like that Karzai

Not only is he a snappy dresser, but he's a fighter and a believer. At a White House press conference today he shows how little patience he has for the defeatist Washington press corps:

REPORTER: And to President Karzai, if I might, what do you think of President Musharraf's comments that you need to get to know your own country better when you're talking about where terror threats and the Taliban threat is coming from?

[...]

PRESIDENT KARZAI: Ma'am, before I go to remarks by my brother, President Musharraf, terrorism was hurting us way before Iraq or September 11th. The President mentioned some examples of it. These extremist forces were killing people in Afghanistan and around for years, closing schools, burning mosques, killing children, uprooting vineyards, with vine trees, grapes hanging on them, forcing populations to poverty and misery.

They came to America on September 11th, but they were attacking you before September 11th in other parts of the world. We are a witness in Afghanistan to what they are and how they can hurt. You are a witness in New York. Do you forget people jumping off the 80th floor or 70th floor when the planes hit them? Can you imagine what it will be for a man or a woman to jump off that high? Who did that? And where are they now? And how do we fight them, how do we get rid of them, other than going after them? Should we wait for them to come and kill us again? That's why we need more action around the world, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, to get them defeated -- extremism, their allies, terrorists and the like.

On the remarks of my brother, President Musharraf, Afghanistan is a country that is emerging out of so many years of war and destruction, and occupation by terrorism and misery that they've brought to us. We lost almost two generations to the lack of education. And those who were educated before that are now older. We know our problems. We have difficulties. But Afghanistan also knows where the problem is -- in extremism, in madrassas preaching hatred, preachers in the name of madrassas preaching hatred. That's what we should do together to stop.

The United States, as our ally, is helping both countries. And I think it is very important that we have more dedication and more intense work with sincerity, all of us, to get rid of the problems that we have around the world.

UPDATE: Hot Air has the video of the press conference. The puzzled and angry look he gives the reporter is priceless.

September 16, 2006

The press fans the flames

The Ottawa Citizen's David Warren describes in his column today how the BBC twisted the Pope's remarks to provoke the latest storm of outrage passing through the Middle East:

The BBC appears to have been quickest off the mark, to send around the world in many languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, and Malay, word that the Pope had insulted the Prophet of Islam, during an address in Bavaria.

He had not, of course. Pope Benedict XVI had instead quoted, carefully and without approval, remarks by the learned 14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Palaeologus, in debate with a 14th-century learned Persian. He was trying to provide a little historical depth to present controversies about the meaning of "jihad", and his very point was that on their own respective theological terms, Muslims and Christians were bound to talk past each other today, in the same ways as they did seven centuries ago. But in the most conscientious media reports I have seen, even the Byzantine emperor is quoted out of context.

By turning the story back-to-front, so that what’s promised in the lead -- a crude attack on Islam -- is quietly withdrawn much later in the text, the BBC journalists were having a little mischief. The kind of mischief that is likely to end with Catholic priests and faithful butchered around the Muslim world. Either the writers were so jaw-droppingly ignorant, they did not realize this is what they were abetting (always a possibility with the postmodern journalist), or the malice was intended. There is no third possibility.

From the start, the BBC’s reports said the Pope would “face criticism from Muslim leaders” -- in the present tense. This is a form of dishonesty that has become common in journalism today. The flagrantly biased reporter, feigning objectivity, spices his story by just guessing what a man’s enemies will say, even before they have spoken.

While I don’t mean to pick especially on the BBC, when other mainstream media are often as culpable, they are worth singling out here to show the amount of sheer, murderous evil of which this taxpayer-funded network is capable.

The fact that the Pope was not insulting Islam is very clear if the context of his speech is understood, but the chance to stir up trouble by the BBC was too much to resist. The truth was simplified, and the suggestion was made that there was something to be outraged about. Warren predicts how the story will play out over the next week:
From now on, the reporting will be about the Muslim rage, and whether the Vatican has apologized yet. That is the “drama” the media will seek to capture -- the drama of the cockfight -- because they know no better kind. That the Pope said nothing intrinsically objectionable will be overlooked, in deference to the Muslim rage, just as the media hid the Danish cartoons from their viewers -- preventing them from discovering how mild they were.

But again: even without the BBC doing the devil’s work, with unbecoming enthusiasm, the story could have carried to the Muslim world, where a new wave of anti-Western, and specifically anti-Christian hysteria is now rising, similar to what was enhanced by tendentious misreporting after the Danish controversy. There are enough other agents provocateurs both in my business and outside it; and surely, enough radical Muslims digging for grievances to extend their own power.

The manufacture of grievances, to justify strident demands for their redress, is the tyrant’s stock-in-trade. It is what took Adolf Hitler to power over the Germans, and it is what today’s Islamic fanatics depend upon to control the Muslims, and push them towards an apocalyptic jihad against the West. Moreover, the basic tactic of bullying is to demand apologies for exaggerated or imaginary offences. It is to make the decent kneel before the indecent.

That the BBC provoked this latest 'scandal' should in no way absolve the Muslim world from their hyper-sensitivity to these imaginary slights. But pouring gasoline on a fire is not responsible journalism. People are going to wind up dead because of this.

September 13, 2006

The army that can't fight

NATO has been having some problems scraping together some more troops to battle a pocket of Taliban in the south of Afghanistan. Canada, Holland, Britain and the United States have been willing to pull their weight, but others just find fighting, you know... dangerous. Norway doesn't even want its soldiers to go anywhere near Kandahar, even if they won't be asked to fight:

NATO wants to shift more force to fight the Taliban in the area and sketched out a draft order that would move Norway's Quick Reaction Force from the north to Kandahar in the troubled south. There it would relieve an allied watch force which in turn would join the fight against the Taliban.

Defense Department spokesman Kjetil Eide in Oslo said that NATO had sent an 'inquiry' and not an 'order'. Norway's vice-admiral Jan Reksten decided to exercise the right of members to veto ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) orders.

"This was an assignment not in keeping with the what the Norwegian soldiers were sent to Afghanistan to do," brigadier Gunnar Gustavsen, chief of staff at the Joint Defense operative headquarters, told Aftenposten.

According to Aftenposten's sources, the NATO plan would not have meant using Norwegian soldiers in combat operations.

Norway has made it clear that its forces in Afghanistan are not sufficiently trained to take part in combat and not properly equipped to do so either.

I guess this is the kind of military Jack Layton wants Canada to have...

September 11, 2006

Five years on

I was in a classroom, beginning an ill-fated MBA program when I heard the news. The program's director came in and gave us an brief overview of what was happening -- the World Trade Center had been hit by two planes, the Pentagon was on fire -- and told us the rest of the day was cancelled.

I immediately tried to find out more from the internet -- we had computers in the classroom -- but every news site was down, swamped by other panicked people like myself needing desperately to know what was going on. The old ways of distributing information work better in this type of situation. As I wandered out into the lobby of the office building where the class was being held, some people were setting up a TV on a large stand, tuned to CNN. And finally I could see the horror for myself. I stood there in a large crowd for twenty minutes, listening to the dribble of real news beyond the images, until the first tower dropped. Then I'd had enough, I wanted to go home.

I was overcome by anger and worry. My worry at the time was not for the people who had died, and were dying, and their families; it was for the future. I assumed the attacks were the work of militant Islam, and worried what would happen next. There had been repeated sniping and ankle-biting of the United States for years up until that point, and the US had been content to mostly ignore it. But this couldn't be ignored. I worried that the US would fall to a spirit of retribution, a new xenophobia, and a blind hatred to match that of the attackers. I worried that the US would lose its temper.

And I was wrong. There were no crowds shouting for blood of Arabs. No one made broad accusations, just speculations with clear . While it was generally understood that militant Islam was most likely behind the attacks, Muslims as a whole could not be blamed. The anger felt by many was not directed outwards blindly, but instead was channeled into resolve. The White House thought as I did, and made it a priority in the days after September 11th to appear with Muslim leaders and assure the country that Islam was not their enemy. But I don't think it was necessary -- and I'm glad. If the events that day can't inspire Americans to the hate that is too frequently seen in the Middle East, nothing can.

Five years on, I think things have gone better than they might have. Two countries have been liberated, and though both still have enemies to fight, they are much better off than they would be had they still been tyrannies. Just because there were no TV cameras to capture it, no one should doubt that pre-war Afghanistan and Iraq were brutal violent places.

What worries me most is that many seem to have forgotten who the enemy is. Five years ago the world had a chance to see the hate that is motivating so many. The hijackers were not an aberration, they were part of a movement that thrives all over the world. They want to kill, and they have been killing. And if they get a nuclear weapon, they will use it. They cannot be reasoned with, accomodated, contained or controlled. They can only be confronted and fought. But too many in our comfortable part of the world would prefer just to go back to sleep.

September 06, 2006

The New Holocaust Deniers

From a story in the Daily Mail:

The 9/11 terrorist attack on America which left almost 3,000 people dead was an "inside job", according to a group of leading academics.

Around 75 top professors and leading scientists believe the attacks were puppeteered by war mongers in the White House to justify the invasion and the occupation of oil-rich Arab countries.

"Leading academics"? "Top professors and leading scientists?" Pfft. Time magazine -- though at least acknowledging that the conspiracy nuts are wrong -- is charitable as to their motives:
There are psychological explanations for why conspiracy theories are so seductive. Academics who study them argue that they meet a basic human need: to have the magnitude of any given effect be balanced by the magnitude of the cause behind it. A world in which tiny causes can have huge consequences feels scary and unreliable. Therefore a grand disaster like Sept. 11 needs a grand conspiracy behind it. "We tend to associate major events--a President or princess dying--with major causes," says Patrick Leman, a lecturer in psychology at Royal Holloway University of London, who has conducted studies on conspiracy belief. "If we think big events like a President being assassinated can happen at the hands of a minor individual, that points to the unpredictability and randomness of life and unsettles us." In that sense, the idea that there is a malevolent controlling force orchestrating global events is, in a perverse way, comforting.
What a load of nonsense. The real motivation for these nuts' beliefs is hatred. People who fall for these fantasies do so because their loathing of Bush is so overwhelming and so pure that they cannot bear to share even one tiny piece of common ground with him. The fact that 9/11 gives Bush's arguments some validity is precisely the reason they feel it could not have happened that way -- because Bush's arguments have no validity.

9/11 conspiracy nuts are in the same boat as holocaust deniers. Their hate prevents them from acknowledging something they feel gives power to their foes. They can't accept that it's possible to disagree with Bush's policies while still sharing some of his worldview. That there are so many of these loons around suggests to me that if Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) were entered into the DSM, it would be one of the most prevelant disorders.

I'm not going to get into debating what happened (check out Popular Mechanics or 911myths.com for thorough shreddings of the lies), but just to illustrate how nuts these people are, here's the response from a true believer to a story on CBC Radio that was inadequately sympathetic to the "truth".

It would seem that the recent and ongoing public disintegration of the 9/11 story has been a matter of concern to CBC functionaries. Existing demolitions of the official 9/11 narrative have gained added weight in recent months from the public interventions of Professors James Fetzer and Steven Jones, co-founders of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, who together with other distinguished scholars and scientists who have joined this group, notably the theologian David Ray Griffin, have been publishing scrupulously researched studies of the 9/11 evidence—and have as well been making increasingly high-profile media appearances across the U.S.

Why should this concern the CBC? Because together with the rest of the Canadian mainstream media, the CBC has taken on the task of swinging Canadian public opinion into support for Canada’s increasingly aggressive participation in the occupation of Afghanistan—a country that was bombed, invaded, and occupied by the United States in 2001 as punishment for giving refuge to Osama bin Laden, the man accused of masterminding the atrocities of 9/11. Obviously enough, if the real organizers of the 9/11 attacks were in fact senior officials of the U.S. government, then that opinion-molding project collapses into rubble.

The source? A 'distiquished' Canadian academic. If you can believe hundreds of military personnel and government officials worked together in secret to kill thousands of their fellow citizens in cold blood, I guess it's not such a great leap of logic to the think the CBC (and 'The Current', no less) are working to advance the neo-con agenda.

August 31, 2006

Wise words from Rumsfeld

I'm currently reading Cobra II, so far the best book on how the war in Iraq was conceived and executed. Maybe someday I'll even finish it. For enemies of the Bush administration, the book was widely used as a cudgel to whack Donald Rumsfeld: he ignored the advice of senior generals, he was inflexible, he was intrusive, etc, etc. My reading is that he saved the lives of thousands of Iraqis by his insistence on an early ground war and fewer troops. If he listened to the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Iraq would have been pounded flat in a 40 day air offensive so the infantry wouldn't have to risk any stubbed toes on their march to Baghdad. And as to the personality conflicts and power games, well, no big and complicated project can be completed without a lot of them.

But then I like Rumsfeld, so I'm eager to let him off the hook. He's a straight shooter that sees the big picture and doesn't forget about it. He gave an good speech to the American Legion the other day about the cultural side of the 'war on terror' -- the part of the war I think we're losing. Here's the meaty heart of it:

That year -- 1919 -- turned out to be one of the pivotal junctures in modern history with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, the creation of the League of Nations, a treaty and an organization intended to make future wars unnecessary and obsolete. Indeed, 1919 was the beginning of a period where, over time, a very different set of views would come to dominate public discourse and thinking in the West.

Over the next decades, a sentiment took root that contended that if only the growing threats that had begun to emerge in Europe and Asia could be accommodated, then the carnage and the destruction of then-recent memory of World War I could be avoided.

It was a time when a certain amount of cynicism and moral confusion set in among Western democracies. When those who warned about a coming crisis, the rise of fascism and nazism, they were ridiculed or ignored. Indeed, in the decades before World War II, a great many argued that the fascist threat was exaggerated or that it was someone else's problem. Some nations tried to negotiate a separate peace, even as the enemy made its deadly ambitions crystal clear. It was, as Winston Churchill observed, a bit like feeding a crocodile, hoping it would eat you last.

There was a strange innocence about the world. Someone recently recalled one U.S. senator's reaction in September of 1939 upon hearing that Hitler had invaded Poland to start World War II. He exclaimed:

"Lord, if only I had talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided!"

Continue reading "Wise words from Rumsfeld" »

August 30, 2006

Speaking of the kooks...

Darcey points to a great Steyn article highlighting some of the Canadian contributors to the crowded kook market:

Who is A. K. Dewdney? He's an adjunct professor of biology at the University of Western Ontario, and he has pieced together the truth about what happened on 9/11. You may be familiar with the official version: "To account for the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush White House has produced a scenario involving Arab hijackers flying large aircraft into American landmarks," writes the eminent Ontario academic. "We, like millions of other 9/11 skeptics, have found this explanation to be inconsistent with the facts of the matter."

Instead, he argues, a mid-air plane switch took place on three of the jets. "The passengers of one of the flights died in an aerial explosion over Shanksville, Pa.," he writes, "and the remaining passengers (and aircraft) were disposed of in the Atlantic Ocean." Most of us swallowed "the Bush-Cheney scenario" because we were unaware that, when two planes are less than half a kilometre apart, they appear as a single blip on the radar screen. Thus, the covert switch. Instead of crashing into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the flights were diverted by FBI agents on board to Harrisburg, Pa., where the passengers from all three planes were herded onto UA Flight 175 and flown on to Cleveland Hopkins and their deaths. By then, unmanned Predator drones had been substituted for the passenger jets and directed into their high-profile targets. The original planes and their passengers were finished off over the Atlantic.

Really, it's all very simple...

Cartoon from Filibuster Cartoons by way of ¡No Pasarán!

9/11 Illustrated

Slate is serializing the graphic adaptation of the 9/11 report. It's remarkably well done and quite chilling to read.


Even more chilling to read are the conspiracy kooks polluting the forums on the book version's Amazon page.

August 10, 2006

Prophetic words from The Terminator

Listen. And understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
(via Jeff Goldstein)

Them's fightin' words!

Reuters:

Bush, speaking briefly on a visit to Green Bay, Wisconsin, said the foiled plane plot was "..a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation."
About time, really...

Isn't it interesting...

...How quickly the conspiracy nuts come out everytime a new terrorist plot is uncovered. Today a plan to cause "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" was busted by British police. And fully a third of the comments on the story at the Globe and Mail's website are believing this is all made up. 'Zeke X' is typical:

This seems pretty staged to me as well. Why does no one ever question the use of terror, by our own governments, to keep the populance afraid to speak up as our freedoms are eroded. If you aren't with us you are with the terrorists ring a bell? This is a joke.
I'm not sure if I'm more afraid of the mass movement of fanatics that are desperate to kill so many innocents, or the larger movement that keeps digging its head deeper in the sand to pretend they don't exist.