Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Thinking Things Over

One of the great things about being young, a student, someone hungry to understand how this world operates, and, of course, honest, is that I'm allowed to question myself, ask myself the difficult questions, and re-think how I consider the issue of our time. That issue is our present war. During my time at the Claremont Institute this summer, I've been exposed to an approach for America's approach to the world that does not jive with what I've written for public consumption in columns for two daily papers at Penn State, what I've written (or linked to) on this blog, and what I've argued over with whomever, everywhere else. I've come to really consider - and even agree with - this new (new, in that it's new to me) approach. Don't worry, though. I haven't become a lefty, I haven't become a blame-America-first type. I'm still a hawk. I still - and will always - believe in defending the United States. And I'm still - and will always - believe in the U.S. military as the gaurantor of our freedom.

However, I'm not going to get into what this new view on foreign policy right now because it is going on 2:30 in the morning (and I have to be up in five hours for work). So I'll get into that at a later time. But, tonight was one of those nights where I just may have come full circle. But then I think, maybe I haven't. I haven't read everything yet, I tell myself. I can't come to a new conclusion on things just yet. Maybe what I've thought all along was and is the way to go. I don't know. Now I'm just rambling. But what I do know is that I'm not done trying to figure everything out. And really, I don't think anyone has it totally figured out. And that's why I can change my mind - or at least be open to accept something new. That's not easy, especially when that's all I've written about and all I've believed.

So before I lose any more precious minutes of sleep, I'm going to leave it at that.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

WFB on Iraq

Bill Buckley makes a great point about the struggle to write up a new Iraqi constitution:
Most recently a division arose in the matter of women’s rights. [Newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay] Khalilzad has laid down the law, that women’s rights are to be held as sacred as men’s rights, which is all very well, but requires adaptation to different protocols involving, for instance, inheritance, and divorce.

Communicants of western ideals cannot at this point go back and say simply that Iraq’s three major sectarian divisions will need to work out their own compromises on the authority of the laws, federal and local. We engaged the challenge as arising from the constitutional loins of the West, and we speak as if western accomplishments which required generations of nurture can and should be simply implanted in the new constitution. If we were devising a mathematics textbook for the schools, we would incorporate in it known advances in geometry, rather than proceed as though such refinements would be left to be intuited by Iraqi students. In the United States we took one hundred years to go from the promulgation of laws of equality, to a civil order that demanded true equality — from 1864 and the end of the civil war, to 1964 and the passage of the civil rights bills. Mr. Khalilzad is asking, in respect of women’s rights, that we begin right away with the third act.

It is a very important public question: Will we succeed? Are we traveling at a rate so ideologically prepossessing as to scorn human and cultural experience? Or are we overcome by the universality of insights we grew to know and love? President Bush certainly speaks language of this kind, defining an advance toward liberty as the purpose, pure and simple, of our foreign policy. It is awesome to remind ourselves that in a mere three weeks we are expected to know whether the Iraqi version of our Constitutional Convention is taking off.

The Corner on China

NRO's the Corner seems to have been expressing the "alternative" view on China lately. This morning Jonah Goldberg linked to a post by Andrew Sullivan's guest blogger, Judith Klinghoffer, who isn't too worried about the China threat. She notes the following, in the context of the Chinese general who recently said he'd hit the U.S. with nukes if we intervened in a conflict with Taiwan:

I suspect that sharp words were also exchanged between the Chinese government and the army. Why? Because some years ago when I raised in private the issue of Taiwanese independence with a senior advisor to the Chinese government on relations with Taiwan, he responded by taking a paper and drawing a map of the Chinese coast and Taiwan. He sought to demonstrate that an independent Taiwan would mean the encirclement of China. "The army will never stand for it," he said excitedly, "everything will be lost." He, apparently, knew what he was talking about and so should all the militant advocates of a formally independent Taiwan.
And last week, Kathryn Lopez posted this email from a CATO Institute think-tanker about the China-Unocal deal:

Most of the objections to the proposed deal stem from fear and loathing regarding the Chinese government. The argument seems to be that anything that promotes economic growth in China and, in turn, "feeds the beast." Now, of course it's true that China's government shows little to no respect for human rights and is one of the uglier regimes that populate the U.N.. It's attitude towards those who challenge party power in print or through civic action is savage and reprehensible. But it is on a positive trajectory. What was once a totalitarian state is now an authoritarian regime. Economic liberalization has had a lot to do with that - the emergence of capitalism and free trade has eroded the government's power and is likely to continue to do so in the future. Encouraging wealth creation and engagement in world markets will do more to encourage civil society in China than economic isolation, stagnation, and saber-rattling.

It's also important to keep the military issue in perspective. China's economy is the size of Italy's and, depending upon how you count it, American defense spending is 5-10 times larger than defense spending in China. Since Mao's death, China has not initiated war with anyone and has shown no inclination to initiate hostilities with the United States, Japan, or any of our allies in the region save for ... Taiwan. That's the only source of tension - the possibility that the United States might initiate a war with China over some future confrontation in Taiwan. A Chinese attack on Taiwan is a real worry, but notice that in that particular case, it would be the United States acting as the aggressor in this relationship, not the Chinese. Whether the U.S. has any business risking a nuclear war over Taiwan is an open question.

The argument that a wealthier, more prosperous China equals a more dangerous China is not necessarily true for the reasons I laid out above. Blocking China from access to markets or private economic assets would arguably incline the Chinese to think that only military muscle will allow it to secure access to markets and resources. That's not an idea we ought to encourage.

And I'm getting sick of hearing how China is a communist country. It is communist in name only. China is laboring to enter international markets and commerce and has substantially freed its economy from state control. It is arguably more capitalist than France. Moreover, China's lack of concern for human rights or the rule of law abroad is not substantially different from France's attitude towards the same.

Finally, the "level playing field" argument is a red herring. U.S. based companies have $105 billion of assets in China and employ 391,000 people there. Chinese firms own only $8 billion of U.S. assets and employ only 15,000 people here. Access to the Chinese economy is regulated and more difficult than it should be, but the suggestion that U.S. firms are "kept out" while we let Chinese firms into the U.S. is not founded upon fact.

Monday, July 25, 2005

National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism

Voice of the Taciturn, a great blog I discovered via Michael Ledeen at the Corner, writes on the fruits of the serious strategic planning for the war on terror that has been done the past 18 months at the Pentagon. As you'll read, Special Ops Command is taking the lead in directing the war on terror. The military is transforming. More jointness among the branches and more creative planning. It's just a reaction to the new kind of world we live in.

The idea of the big, two-power war (read: U.S.-China in the Taiwan Strait) is headed out the window. I mentioned this a few weeks ago. Granted, some of the old elements remain, such as strategic defense, but, really, the conventional-style, two-power war died when the Soviet Union died.

Whalid Phares UK Field Trip

Walid Phares, professor of Middle East Studies at Florida Atlantic University, sent an interesting and eye-opening report to The Counterterrorism Blog about a "sociological field trip" he took throughout Britain in 1999:

The Jihadists have penetrated the country since the end of the cold war. Any expert in the field would have understood as of the mid 1990s that the systematic spread of the Salafi ideology and its activists in the UK was to end up in Terrorism. It was ineluctable that the British dar al Harb [war zone] had to be attacked at some point; especially when many among its elites –inside academia or its political establishment- were confirming what the Islamists were convinced of: That the country was indeed evil, and it needed justice. An Allah administered justice. But while British elite-apologists aimed, such as MP George Galloway, at changes in Foreign policy, their Jihadi sympathizers aimed at the British people while attending their daily lives on July 7.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

John Burns on Iraq

The best reporter on this story gives us the harsh reality on the ground in Iraq. Maybe, as the U.S. commanders tell Burns, we're going to have begin looking at our best worst options:

America, these officers seem to be saying, can do only so much, and if Iraqis are hellbent on settling matters violently - at the worst, by civil war - that, in the end, would be their sovereign choice.
The new U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, obviously has a brutal assignment ahead of him:

"Iraq is poised at the crossroads between two starkly different visions," he said. "The foreign terrorists and hardline Baathist insurgents want Iraq to fall into a civil war."

The new ambassador struck a positive chord, to be sure, saying "Iraqis of all communities and sects, like people everywhere, want to establish peace and create prosperity." Still, his coda remained one of caution: "I do not underestimate the difficulty of the present situation."

The Power of Yellow

That's 7 straight Tours de France for Lance Armstrong. What a career. How will history regard him? I have a feeling, pretty well.

Articles Worth Reading

Here are a couple articles I've been meaning to post. The first is Charles Krauthammer in the July/August issue of Commentary, writing on the "Neoconservative Convergence." Sort of a follow-up to his AEI lecture given last year. And pretty much the view held by this blog.

The other is an op-ed from last week's Wall Street Journal by Caleb Carr, whom I've never heard of. But now I'm glad I do know of him. "The Smell of Fear" is a must read for those who want to blame Anglo-American policies in the Mideast for the 7/7 bombings, rather than identify those really responsible for those murders.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

If Only More of the French Were Like Him

French intellectual Olivier Roy has a great op-ed in Friday's New York Times that gets at the root of what I've been trying to figure out since 7/7...and, for that matter, 9/11.

I've never heard of Roy before until I read a recent piece (which I linked to) in which he was quoted by Reuel Marc Gerecht in The Weekly Standard. Good to see a right-minded Frenchman get some op-ed space in the Times.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed

Why is this guy still around?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Mideast Required Reading

Middle East pro and Bernard Lewis protege, Martin Kramer has posted some of his selected essays on a variety of topics concerning the Middle East as suggested readings to provide some semblance of balance for our impressionable young mind to Middle East Studies curriculae (is that the correct plural form?) on college campuses across the country. Print 'em out and break out the highlighter, yo!

China Round Up

We've got a pretty good round-up of some articles on China recently.

The Los Angeles Times had two articles from a couple days ago worth reading detailing China's global quest for oil and the new round of Sino-U.S. diplomatic engagement, beginning next month. The Chinese crusade for oil all over the world, where dealing with some not-too-friendly-to-us governments like Venezuela and Iran is viewed by Chinese officials as strictly securing economic interests, has raised concern for many of China's assertion as an emerging world power. The diplomatic engagement with China next month will be headed by Dep. SecState Robert Zoellick, who, as the U.S. trade rep during President Bush's first term, was instrumental in getting China admitted to the WTO. The key, it seems, for both sides is getting the management of China's rise right. Do we consider their rise hostile to U.S. security or do we seek a strategic partnership?

In this context, the Pentagon has released its annual report on Chinese military power. The New York Times reports on it here. The Pentagon report (PDF file) is here.

It looks like the Bush team is performing a balancing act on their China policy. Hawks in the Pentagon and Congress worry about China's intentions toward Taiwan, the balance of power in Asia and its coziness with American adversaries like Venezuela and Iran via oil deals. The other view is headed up by Zoellick and Asst. SecState for East Asia, Christopher Hill, who see the Chinese as more of a partner than a hostile belligerent. I'm more sympathetic to the State Dept. view on China, as I think the Chinese are rational and, despite some of their new oil "friends," are economic determinists. I don't see them risking all their economic gain and political clout for a confrontation with the U.S. that would likely erase all that and devastate the global economy. But it is still necessary to monitor China's military developments, especially their arms transactions.

Lastly, Tom Friedman is talking China today in his column, and I like what he's saying.

Also see my post on the Pentagon and Goldman Sachs.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Jihad Euro-style

Writing in The Weekly Standard, Reuel Marc Gerecht has a couple interesting points about the evolution of radical Islam in Europe.

The effect of western culture on radicalized Islam:

In Europe as elsewhere, Westernization is the key to the growth and virulence of hard-core Islamic radicalism. The most frightening, certainly the most effective, adherents of bin Ladenism are those who are culturally and intellectually most like us. The process of Westernization liberates a Muslim from the customary sanctions and loyalties that normally corralled the dark side of the human soul. Respect for one's father, an appreciation for the human need to have fun, a toleration of eccentricity and naughty personal behavior, the love of art and folk music--all are characteristics of traditional mainstream Muslim society wiped away by the arrival of modernity and the simultaneous spread of sterile, esthetically empty, angry, Saudi-financed Wahhabi thought. In this sense, bin Ladenism is the Muslim equivalent of Western totalitarianism. This cleaning of the slate, this break with the past, is probably more profound in the Muslim enclaves in Europe--what Gilles Kepel called les banlieues de l'Islam--than it is in the urban sprawl of Cairo, where traditional mores, though under siege and badly battered by modernity, nevertheless retain considerable force.

Gerecht then seems to dismiss the "grievance factor":

Most intellectuals and politicians would prefer to see Islamic terrorism in Europe as a by-product of accumulated foreign grievances [Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Gulf Wars I and II, the current Bush administration]....Although some of the reasons put forth by Europeans to explain their Muslim problems are undoubtedly valid, a wise U.S. counterterrorist policy would downplay the external causes of Islamic activism in Europe. We should prepare for the worst-case scenario and assume that European society itself will continue to generate the most lethal holy warriors."

As as has been the theme recently, I don't know if Gerecht's approach of dismissing the "grievance factor" and getting ready for the worst is particularly sound. Maybe paying attention to this by trying to change minds is a waste of time? Maybe, as Gerecht seems to suggest, the "grievance factor" is tied to the fate of the Middle East:

There is no satisfying, expeditious answer to Europe's Muslim problems. If Olivier Roy is right--European Islam, for better and for worse, is now independent of the Middle East--then democracy could come to Muslims' ancestral homelands even as a virulent form of Islamic militancy persisted for years in Western Europe. But the intellectual and family ties with the Middle East are probably still sufficient to ensure that if the Middle East changes for the better, the ripples will quickly reach Europe. The democratic discussion in the Middle East, which is often broadcast through media headquartered in Europe, is becoming ever more vibrant and powerful. If Hosni Mubarak's regime in Egypt begins to give way to democracy, it's a very good bet that the discussion in every single mosque in Western Europe will be about the popular triumph and the democratic experiment beginning in the Arab world's most important country.

Amid all the ensuing political and religious debates and arguments, in the expectant hope that other dictators would fall, al Qaeda and its allied groups might find it even harder to attract recruits who would incinerate themselves for a revolutionary ideal increasingly at odds with reality. If the Bush administration wants to help Europe, it should back as forcefully as possible the rapid expansion of democracy in the Middle East. It would be a delightful irony if the more progressive political and religious debates among the Middle East's Muslims saved their brethren in the intellectually backward lands of the European Union.

I agree wholeheartedly, but I fear Gerecht is either to Muslim-centric in his analysis or he doesn't believe the state of Europe, with an ever-growing democratic and moral deficit, helps foster these enclaves of radical Islam. The people of Europe need to understand what is at stake in their own backyard. They need to know what is at risk and they have to ask themselves if they're willing to stand up and defend it. It would be great if the Middle East Muslim's can set an example for their brothers and sisters in Europe. Yet, it would be an even greater irony if the democrats in the Middle East prove to be a source of democratic inspiration to Europe as a whole.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Tiger and Lance Do Europe, Among Other Important Things

Just got back from a weekend road trip up US 101 visiting relatives in Morro Bay, CA. Great to see them as it is a rare occasion, living on opposite sides of the country. Except for the traffic hell-hole that is Santa Barbara, the trip up (and down) the coast is a treat. Beautiful sites of the Pacific and the mountainous California coast. And, I have mastered the L.A. freeway system at 80 mph.

Well it looks like we have more American athletic dominance on the European continent. Tiger, winning his 10th major overall, captured his second Open Championship (second win at St. Andrews, incidentally, in 2000) by five strokes, quelling hopes (or fears?) for a final round charge by Monty - Scotsman and Open gallery favourite, Colin Montgomerie.

Lance Armstrong gets one step closer to winning his seventh Tour de France, extending his overall lead by 2:46, after placing seventh in the 15th stage of the epic bike race.

Haven't had a chance to track too much news this weekend. Looks like Iraq is blowing up again, literally and figuratively. Might be an emboldened response to the London bombings? John Burns is on the beat.

B.D. has a pretty good round-up from the Sunday NYT. As you'll read, the French are being French. And, we may have an answer to the mysterious appeal of radical Islam. B.D. quotes this NYT Week in Review piece:

At least one of the young men from Leeds was from an affluent family, and none were particularly poor or unhappy, according to press reports. At least two had become devout. At least two had traveled to Pakistan. At least some of their parents clearly opposed such violence. A breakthrough for the police came when the mother of one, fearing her son was a victim of the bombings, informed police he was missing.

Jessica Stern, a lecturer at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and the author of "Terror in the Name of God," spent part of the spring in the Netherlands investigating the attitudes of young Muslims there. She said she feared that for some of them, violent Islamism had become a fad.

For some, she said, "To be angry and rebellious these days is to be angry, rebellious and Islamist, and, unfortunately, to be violent." In a previous era, she observed, they might have embraced Marxism. She said that while these young people experienced some prejudice and economic hardship, their grievances were reinforced by "a feeling of vicarious humiliation" of Muslims elsewhere. The radicalism of some appeared driven less by contact with a charismatic cleric than by what they found for themselves on the Internet.

"They self-recruit, self-radicalize, and they go and find their own imam," Ms. Stern said. "So the picture that we have, that all we have to do is watch those fiery imams, or go into the mosques - well, those days are over."

A fad?!? This is kinda scary considering how it is sooo cool now at college to wear a Che Guevera t-shirt and fight for "social justice." I hope when my kids go off to college in 2030-whatever, it isn't fashionable to wear an Al-Zarqawi or Arafat t-shirt. But look at the picture of the London bombers before they went off and killed 50+ people. I just spent a semester in Barcelona studying and did a lot of European traveling. The bombers look like any other youthful, wide-eyed college kid heading to out explore some corner of Europe. But, no; these guys aren't studying abroad. These guys are heading to battle.

This NYT July 16 story touches on some themes B.D. mentions, as well. Although B.D. wants to shrug off what seems to be the motivating factor for these young guys joining the jihad:

Reports the NYT:

LEEDS, England, July 15 - At Beeston's Cross Flats Park, in the center of this now embattled town, Sanjay Dutt and his friends grappled Friday with why their friend Kakey, better known to the world as Shehzad Tanweer, had decided to become a suicide bomber.

"He was sick of it all, all the injustice and the way the world is going about it," Mr. Dutt, 22, said. "Why, for example, don't they ever take a moment of silence for all the Iraqi kids who die?"

"It's a double standard, that's why," answered a friend, who called himself Shahroukh, also 22, wearing a baseball cap and basketball jersey, sitting nearby. "I don't approve of what he did, but I understand it. You get driven to something like this, it doesn't just happen."

To the boys from Cross Flats Park, Mr. Tanweer, 22, who blew himself up on a subway train in London last week, was devout, thoughtful and generous. If they understood his actions, it was because they lived in Mr. Tanweer's world, too.

They did not agree with what Mr. Tanweer had done, but made clear they shared the same sense of otherness, the same sense of siege, the same sense that their community, and Muslims in general, were in their view helpless before the whims of greater powers. Ultimately, they understood his anger.

B.D. says, big deal?!:

There are those, even now, who seek to 'understand' their actions and who get airtime in the predictable places like the pages of the Guardian. This time is past. The call must be to ferret out such killers before they strike again. Too much is at stake.

I think this "grievance" issue is the heart of the problem for young, Westernized Muslims. They feel - for whatever their circumstances - there has been no justice for what they view have been repeated wrongs. Just re-read the quote above from the 22 year old friend of the one bomber. He "understands" - and probably feels - the same anger his buddy had, but isn't compelled to blow himself and everyone else up. So again, I go back to what I wrote a few days ago about a re-education of the Western world about the Western world. You talk to any foreign student at Penn State or anyother college in the U.S. or Europe about U.S. foreign policy past and present, America's history of slavery and racial segregation, etc., etc., and you'll get at least a similar response like you did from the kid in Leeds. Everything is America's fault. Nothing America does or has down is legitimate or good, in foreign students' eyes. The ironic thing is that, for how bad America is, it's still a great place to get that PhD.

An answer, a response, something is necessary to counter the various views or opinions that make the young Muslims in Leeds so angry. Because it seems like these views and grievances, which make them feel weak, inferior and full of injustice to Western power lead them to radical Islam, which gives them a feeling of justice, moral superiority and righteousness. Considering all that has been said, can we say that if these guys only knew better, or had a better understanding of whatever they viewed to be a grievance or source of anger, that they might not have been driven to radical Islam and, therefore, the cult of suicide bombing in the name of Allah? It is possible.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Iraq Update

Greg Djerejian forwards to us an update from the Green Zone in Baghdad:

From a reliable source I hear the tea-leaves from a senior, seasoned diplomat at our Embassy in Baghdad are thus: 1) the strategy of us standing down as they stand up (translation: train and equip) is making real progress (if often hard and tortuous progress); 2) the Sunnis are getting increasingly involved in the political process so that there is some optimism the insurgency will see some life sucked out of it; and 3) there are fears federalist demands from the Kurds could be a sleeper issue that imperils progress on 1 and 2. There are other nuances, but this is the story from the Green Zone at present. If you are on the ground, of course, and this is your life and blood and daily chore--you have the right to be a cautious optimist. My source tells me too that the thinking there is that we will 'make it', if only we do not lose our 'will'. I think all this is pretty much right. Assuming we have the resources in theater if things take nasty, unpredictable turns, however, I'd like to caveat too.

I'd like to know more about the Kurdish demands as well. Though the "cautious optimism" is always welcoming.

Friedman and Krauthammer

Good columns today from Tom Friedman and Charles Krauthammer.

Friedman alludes to something I referenced yesterday. He writes:

One of the London bombers was married, with a young child and another on the way. I can understand, but never accept, suicide bombing in Iraq or Israel as part of a nationalist struggle. But when a British Muslim citizen, nurtured by that society, just indiscriminately blows up his neighbors and leaves behind a baby and pregnant wife, to me he has to be in the grip of a dangerous cult or preacher - dangerous to his faith community and to the world.

How does that happen? Britain's Independent newspaper described one of the bombers, Hasib Hussain, as having recently undergone a sudden conversion "from a British Asian who dressed in Western clothes to a religious teenager who wore Islamic garb and only stopped to say salaam to fellow Muslims."

The secret of this story is in that conversion - and so is the crisis in Islam. The people and ideas that brought about that sudden conversion of Hasib Hussain and his pals - if not stopped by other Muslims - will end up converting every Muslim into a suspect and one of the world's great religions into a cult of death.

In my post yesterday, the uncle of one of the bombers, Shehzad Tanweer, said: "It wasn't him. It must have been forces behind him." I then wrote, "Here are two seemingly regular, assimilated British citizens. But they caught the Islamo-fascist disease. This disease has been exported to Britain, and everywhere else in Europe."

As Friedman says, the heart of the problem is the conversion to and the appeal of radical Islam by these young Muslims - people my age. Understanding how this process occurs; understanding the appeal of radical Islamism (maybe it's the purpose, the sense of duty and mission?) is hugely critical to winning this war. But, maybe, before we can do that, we have to accept the reality of it. Says Krauthammer:

One of the reasons Westerners were so unprepared for this wave of Islamist terrorism, not just militarily but psychologically, is sheer disbelief. It shockingly contradicts Western notions of progress. The savagery of Bouyeri's act [the slaughter of Dutch filmaker Theo Van Gogh], mirroring the ritual human slaughter by Abu Musab Zarqawi or Daniel Pearl's beheaders, is a return to a primitiveness that we in the West had assumed a progressive history had left behind.

Many people in the U.S. and Europe either don't believe such evil exists or know it exists, but don't acknowledge it and blame the execution of it (9/11, 3/11, 7/7, etc.) on America and the West. These folks might be called the "apologists among us" (hat tip, Roger Simon). And their problem is a rejection of the principles and the inherent goodness and rightness of these principles. I don't know how this problem can be fixed, considering the state of our P.C. universities and high schools. But maybe it can start at the top with presidential leadership?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Europe: Ever The War Front

In James Taranto's Best of the Web today, he quotes this BBC report:

[T]he revelation that the four London suspects were British will confirm the worst fears of many Muslim leaders....If the apparent British suicide bombers are of similar stock--young British-born men who are not driven by desperation, then British society's ability to deal with this may be severely tested.

Taranto then states:

This is potentially a huge problem not just Britain but for Continental European countries that also have large populations of unassimilated Muslim citizens. It does not appear to be a major problem for America, which has a proportionately smaller Muslim population and a long history of assimilating immigrants. If Islamist terrorism is potentially a domestic problem for Europe, then the stakes in the global war on terror are in a way much higher there than in America.

Assuming this statement is credible and widely held, which I believe it is, we can reach a rather dramatic and alarming conclusion. If we are to adopt Norman Podhoretz's and James Woolsey's view that the war on terror is World War IV (the Cold War being WW III), and acknowledge that World War I, World War II, and main front in the Cold War were all fought to a large extent in Continental Europe, it is possible to reach the conclusion that one of the main fronts - if not the main front - in this war, the war on Islamo-fascism, is, again, Continental Europe.

So how has Europe become the main front in the terror war?

To begin, we know that Islamic terror, in all its forms, originates from the Muslim Middle East—from Casablanca, Morocco to Karachi, Pakistan. That is, in fact, the subtitle of this blog. U.S. policy to win the war on terror is to spread and promote consensual, republican government—even in its crudest form—to “where it counts: from Casablanca to Karachi.” This form of government is not imposed from an outside power, but rather it is adopted by the consent of the people. Our first real effort to put this policy into practice is Iraq (not to exclude Afghanistan, but look where the blood is being spilled on a daily basis). We are attempting to create the conditions for Iraqi self-government. Only the Iraqis can adopt democratic practice, and for that, time and a test of (Iraqi) will and (American) staying-power will prove to be the difference. But it is our hope and the Iraqis’ that they can be example, or model to the rest of the Middle East for a better life, a new hope and a complete rejection of jihadist Islam. In effect, as columnists and pundits galore have been saying, the direction of the Middle East is up to the people that live there to decide.

But, then, is this really a war, as it is fought by America and her democratic allies? The struggle for the soul of the Middle East looks more like an internal civil war between the forces of Islamic modernism and Islamic barbarism. Certainly, our national interest is directly affected by the outcome of this civil war, as we should give all the support we can to the forces of modernism and hope and equality.

But, it is becoming apparent that the war must be fought in the West. However, this war won’t be fought with 20,000 strong Army divisions, Apache helicopters, B-2 bombers, or CIA-led counteroffensives. This war must be fought with the belief that Western civilization, specifically, the ideals of the American experiment, is the last best hope for mankind. And its battleground is Europe.

Therefore, it should be asked: Has the present European, post-modern "paradise," as described in Robert Kagan's thesis, for all that it represents - public disdain of an assertive military and police force, low defense and security budgets, absence of military power as a tool in international relations, open immigration policy, the politics and social orientation of multiculturalism, low birth rates, huge welfare handouts, and the decline of Christianity (some of these, I know, aren't part of Kagan's specific description of the European paradise, but they go hand and hand with the foreign policy aspects of his thesis) – has this post-modern paradise suddenly collapsed? In the wake of the French and Dutch “no” votes against the EU constitution, the unfortunate decline of the Catholic Church under John Paul II’s watch, the 3/11 attacks in Madrid and, now, the 7/7 attacks in London, it looks like Europe, as we now it, is beginning its decline. And guess who’re stepping in to fill the vacuum: the Muslims.

I don’t mean to sound like a paranoid, racially-incited nativist, but let’s not kid ourselves of the emerging reality in Europe. Last year, British historian Niall Ferguson gave a lecture at the American Enterprise Institute, entitled, “The End of Europe?” A question, he was asking. By the end of the lecture, you came away feeling (I wasn’t there, I watched it via the video link) he was asserting the end of Europe, not questioning the possibility. Thus, he began his lecture with a reference to our constant teacher, history:

In order to illustrate my argument, I want to take you back very far in time. In fact, I want to take you back to the year 732. In Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in Chapter 52, Part 2, he describes what might have happened if the Muslim that had invaded across the Straits of Gibraltar and invaded Spain and then France in the year 711 had won what became known in the West as the Battle of Poitiers. So let me quote Gibbon, that much greater Oxford historian.

"A victorious line of march had been prolonged above a thousand miles from the Rock of Gibraltar to the banks of the Loire; the repetition of an equal space would have carried the Saracens to the confines of Poland and the Highlands of Scotland; the Rhine is not more impassable than the Nile or Euphrates, and the Arabian fleet might have sailed without a naval combat into the mouth of the Thames. Perhaps"--and here is the quintessential Gibbon--"perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet."

Some of you who know my work on empire may have anticipated that this evening I would talk about empire. Indeed, American empire is the subject of my forthcoming book. But I thought we'd done American empire last year in this very room. And so what I want to talk about instead is a different notion. It's a little neologism of my own. It's "impire," with an "i". It's about what happens when a political entity, instead of expanding outwards towards its periphery, exporting power, implodes--when the energies come from outside into that entity.

Ferguson, citing current—and pretty damning—economic, social, and political trends in Europe (basically the same ideas I mentioned when I referenced Kagan’s work) goes so far to suggest that Europe is “perhaps being colonized by exogenous forces.” Who are those exogenous forces? Yup, Muslim immigrants. So, what’s the big deal? you make ask. They’re immigrants. They come to Europe for a better opportunity. They come to escape the squalor and despair of their homelands. All true. But the krux of the problem begins with a paradox.

Some of these folks have actually chosen to assimilate themselves and adopt (or, in the case of two of the London bombers, be born into) the ways of their new Western countries. For instance, 30 year old Mohammad Sidique Khan, the oldest bomber, was a teaching assistant to newly arrived immigrants at a primary school in Beeston, Leeds, who also had a 14-month-old daughter. As the Times reports:

Staff described him as gently spoken, endlessly patient, and immensely popular with children who called him their buddy.

Imagine that. This is a man helping the children immigrant families begin the process of adjusting to their new culture. Another bomber was 22 year-old Shehzad Tanweer. In an interview, his uncle claimed he was just like every other 22 year-old college kid, except:

It wasn't him. It must have been forces behind him.

Here are two seemingly regular, assimilated British citizens. But they caught the Islamo-fascist disease. This disease has been exported to Britain, and everywhere else in Europe (See the murderer of Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh). Thus, there is a clear and present danger in Europe. Andrew Sullivan suggests that “Western Muslims and the democratically-inclined Muslims in Iraq” are the ones who are “most able” to bring these terrorists to justice; to win the war. That is true for democratically-inclined Muslims in Iraq and the greater Middle East, but it will not get the job done in the West.

What is necessary for the West to defend herself, and ultimately triumph, is a reaffirmation of the ideals that made the West the West. America must take the lead in articulating what she stands for, while the modern source of the rule of law, our Enlightenment, of John Locke, of Adam Smith, Europe, must re-discover and re-affirm this heritage and these principles. The principles of the Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal,” must defeat the emptiness of nihilism, which thrives under Islamo-fascism and is egged on by the far-Leftist agenda of multiculturalism. If Europe is not able to re-discover and re-affirm those Enlightened principles that, though she may not have always lived up to (neither has America), are woven into the European experience and the free peoples of Europe today, she will be defeated. And the war will be lost.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Lance Armstrong

This man is a machine.

Iraqi Troops Make Progress and Other Iraq Notes

This is pretty encouraging news, from the AP:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraqi troops are ready to take control of some cities as a first step toward sending home American and other foreign soldiers, Iraq's prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said Tuesday. But he rejected any timetable for a pullout....

[H]e said security in many of Iraq's 18 provinces -- notably in the Shiite south and the Kurdish-controlled north -- has improved so that Iraqi forces could assume the burden of maintaining order in cities there.

''We can begin with the process of withdrawing multinational forces from these cities to outside the city as a first step that encourages setting a timetable for the withdrawal process,'' al-Jaafari said at a news conference with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick.

The wire report also adds:

Last weekend, The Mail on Sunday newspaper of London published a leaked British government memorandum showing that Britain is considering scaling back its troops from 8,500 to 3,000 by the middle of next year.

The memo, marked ''Secret -- U.K. Eyes Only'' and signed by Britain's Defense Secretary John Reid, also spoke of a ''strong U.S. military desire for significant force reductions'' after a new Iraqi government is elected in December.

''Emerging U.S. plans assume that 14 out of 18 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006,'' which would see the multinational force cut from 176,000 to 66,000, the memo said.

This report reminds of Charles Krauthammer's column from almost two weeks ago, which provides a possible way forward as Iraqi MPs continue to move forward drafting and deliberating the draft constitution. Krauthammer advises that the August 15 deadline for writing the constitution be thrown away indefinitely, as the amount of time between now and then is way too little for writing a constitution, even as the Sunnis have hesistantly joined the drafting committee. Reports indicate that Iraqi leaders remain committed to the August 15 deadline, but may leave out more difficult issues so as to find common ground before the October constitutional referendum and December elections.

Yet the major issue of security remains. In his column Krauthammer cites the role of the Shia and Kurdish militias as one of the most "vexing" problems of the constitutional process. While the Kurds and the main Shia party employ militias, this current arrangment might "[not be] the most desirable arrangement, but they are trained, cohesive and motivated to fight the insurgency. Both Iraq's president and prime minister endorsed their retention a few weeks ago." Krauthammer then says: "Constitution-drafting can only disrupt this working arrangement. No constitution will legitimize sectarian militias. Why force the issue?"

Well, judging from the prime minister's statement above about security in the North and South and the government's endorsement of these militias, the Iraqis seem comfortable writing their constitution with these "sectarian militias." If the common enemy is the insurgency, and both militias are committed to defeating it as pronounced by Jaafari, why not legitimize these militias, at least until the beginning of next year after the elections? Maybe then the new government can figure out a new military arrangement.

In a July 9 AP story, Jawad al-Maliki, a senior Shia lawmaker in the draft committee, I think, provides us with an interesting observation on the situation before the Iraqis: "All these issues won't be big problems if we have the will to reach an agreement. But if we want to look for differences, we'll find differences." So we can either find common ground among our disagreements, compromise in ways that both serve our interests without sacrificing the greater good, and get this thing hammered out, or we can let ourselves become consumed by our differences. If you're going to have a constitution, you should have the means to change it, but there should be some underlying principles that guide it. If Iraqis can figure out these principles, codify them, have the people endorse them and elect a government by December, all the while by being defended by these Kurdish and Shia militias, then fantastic. If it looks like the militias will become a problem after this point (which I doubt), then the democratically elected government should determine a new course.

From reading people like Bill Safire and Christopher Hitchens, who both have Kurdish friends, the Kurds are committed to one new Iraq. Therefore, these Kurdish militias, who fought off Saddam's creeping rule into the North throughout the 1990s, and who fought bravely with the Coalition forces during the initial invasion in March 2003, might very well inclined to defend their fellow countrymen in the Shia south in a new Iraq. Indeed, the self-outcasted Sunnis remain the main threat to splintering Iraq:

Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the drafting committee, said those involved largely agree on a federal Iraq. But some Sunni Arabs cannot accept the concept--a deal-breaker for the Kurds who had been running their own northern region for more than a decde before the 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein. "They think that federalism will lead to dividing the country. We think that it will unify the country," Othman said.

We shall see.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Suicide Bombers from Leeds

So says the Times:

FOUR friends from northern England have changed the face of terrorism by carrying out the suicide bombings that brought carnage to London last week. It emerged last night that, for the first time in Western Europe, suicide bombers have been recruited for attacks. Security forces are coming to terms with the realisation that young Britons are prepared to die for their militant cause.

Three of the men lived in Leeds and the immediate fear is that members of a terrorist cell linked to the city are planning further strikes. The mastermind behind the attacks and the bombmaker are both still thought to be at large.
...

The four were captured on CCTV cameras at King’s Cross Thameslink station, laughing together and carrying rucksacks, minutes before they set off for their targets at 8.30am on July 7.

The article also notes that the bombers were of Pakistani origin. Three of the four have been identified, with ages of 30, 22 and 19. As more details emerge it'll certainly be interesting to learn about these guys in the days ahead.

Related: In classic British humility, a Times opinion piece by Alice Miles asks why the actions of "four pathetic young bombers" need so much attention by everyone: "
all this risks glamorising the work of four pathetic young men, and recruiting others to their 'cause'. The shock of the blasts tore lives apart, yes, but they were not, for most of us, our lives." She then issues a stirring and proper challenge:

It is now clear that there is something constructive that the politicians can do. Forget the mourning, and tear into those Muslim ghettos instead. Force them to open up. Make the imams answer. Tell them to let their women speak, as they have been prevented from doing until now. We have done softly, softly. We have pandered to fears about religious hatred. We have listened with utmost sympathy to their concerns.

No one should stigmatise any community, the police said yesterday. But those bombers have stigmatised the communities that made them, and we should spare a thought for the devastation wrought on those communities; but then we should insist that they cannot continue in a state of alienation from the rest of society. That is a challenge for them, and for all of us. They, too, must become ordinary.


The Dead and Missing

The Times lists the known dead and missing persons from the London bombings. Utterly heartbreaking. When you read the names, you're struck by how many are immigrants from Muslim countries. Then there's this tragicly ironic listing of one of the missing:

Anat Rosenburg, 39, an Israeli-born charity worker who called her boyfriend to tell him she was on the Number 30 bus, moments before the blast. John Falding, her boyfriend, said: “She was afraid of going back to Israel because she was scared of suicide bombings on buses.”

No Contest

A soldier in Iraq takes down two of the most deluded columnists writing today. The intellectual demonstration of a mere soldier, in a war zone mind you, in analyzing the origins of Islamic jihad devastates the high-minded, arrogant sneering of one Bob Herbert of the NYT and one Gary Younge of the London Guardian (hat tip, Instapundit).

Notre Homme en France

Foreign Policy magazine profiles the man who just might turn France, and maybe even Europe, around, Nicolas Sarkozy (hat tip, B.D.).

Monday, July 11, 2005

Where the Pentagon Meets Goldman Sachs

We've got two interesting New York Times stories that reflect Thomas Barnett's influence upon my worldview. The first is from last week:

WASHINGTON, July 4 - The Pentagon's most senior planners are challenging the longstanding strategy that requires the armed forces to be prepared to fight two major wars at a time. Instead, they are weighing whether to shape the military to mount one conventional campaign while devoting more resources to defending American territory and antiterrorism efforts.

The consideration of these profound changes are at the center of the current top-to-bottom review of Pentagon strategy, as ordered by Congress every four years, and will determine the future size of the military as well as the fate of hundreds of billions of dollars in new weapons.

The intense debate reflects a growing recognition that the current burden of maintaining forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with the other demands of the global campaign against terrorism, may force a change in the assumptions that have been the foundation of all military planning.

The concern that the concentration of troops and weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan was limiting the Pentagon's ability to deal with other potential armed conflicts was underscored by Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a classified risk assessment to Congress this spring. But the current review is the first by the Pentagon in decades to seriously question the wisdom of the two-war strategy.

The other story is from today:

SHANGHAI, July 10 - Goldman Sachs and Allianz of Germany are in talks to acquire a $1 billion stake in China's largest state-owned bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, according to a person briefed on the discussions.

The talks come at a time when some of the world's biggest financial institutions are rushing into China to acquire stakes in some of the country's large but troubled state-owned banks ahead of planned initial public offerings in the next few years. The Bank of America said last month that it would pay $3 billion for a 9 percent stake in the nation's third-largest lender, the China Construction Bank, which is expected to offer shares to the public late this year.

And UBS said last month that it was considering investing as much as $500 million in the Bank of China, another huge state-owned bank.

"All the big financial institutions want a piece of the action," said Jack J. T. Huang, who oversees China coverage for the law firm Jones Day in Taipei, Taiwan. "This is not necessarily a rational decision when you look at the numbers. But these institutions believe the government won't allow these banks to fail. They will step in to help them succeed."

How are these stories related? You've got a major shift in Pentagon strategic thinking going on here. Planners in the Pentagon are presumably considering that its future conflicts will not be a conventional, big war, U.S.-Soviet-style match up:

Senior leaders are trying to develop strategies that will do a better job of addressing the requirements of antiterrorism and domestic defense, while acknowledging that future American wars will most likely be irregular - against urban guerrillas and insurgents - rather than conventional.

This isn't to say the Pentagon is totally discounting the possibility of a Taiwan Straits Naval battle with the Chinese. Indeed, "Several officials involved in the review characterized the debate as 'an effort to create a construct that will bring a better balance' among domestic defense, the antiterrorism campaign and conventional military requirements." Yet, in today's story out of Shanghai, you read about the big guns of American investment banking rushing to set up shop in China, which inevitably forces China to clean up its banking system because they know the potential benefits for serious investment flows:

But analysts say the government has pressed the big financial institutions to help clean up the banking system by taking sizable stakes in the four largest state-owned banks, which also include the Agricultural Bank of China.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley - considered the two most powerful foreign investment banks in China - have each purchased a substantial number of bad loans from China's financial institutions.

Goldman, J.P. Morgan Chase and I.C.B.C. have also teamed up to agree to loan about $9 billion to the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, one of China's largest state-owned oil companies, if it succeeds in acquiring the Unocal Corporation, an American company. The Chinese oil company, known as Cnooc, is in a bidding war with Chevron over Unocal, and Goldman and J. P. Morgan are Cnooc's financial advisers in that effort.

Indeed, Goldman has moved aggressively in recent years to strengthen its operations in China and solidify its ties to the government in the expectation that the country could some day be a source of billions of dollars in profits.

Henry M. Paulson Jr., Goldman's chairman, has made dozens of trips to China in recent years. And last year, Goldman agreed to donate $67 million to the government to bail out a Chinese brokerage firm.

Goldman then got approval to form a joint venture that could operate in China's domestic securities market. Altogether Goldman's investment in the joint venture is expected to top $200 million in the first few years.

The level of economic integration between the U.S. and China is deep and it is consequential. Certainly you've got a mob-style government running China, which loves profit, but also doesn't mind selling nasty weapons to nasty governments. But as China develops a middle class, and as it connects more and more to the West, its democratic governance where everyone is equal under the law, and its rule-based institutions like the WTO, China is going to have make a decision. Does it want sustained prosperity? Or will it choose to be a belligerent, continued to deny its people their basic human rights and risk all that they've gained? That's the balancing act those in the Pentagon are still assessing. But it looks like Wall Street already knows the answer.

London Bombing Investigation

The Times gives us a first glimpse into what the Scotland Yard investigations into last Thursday's bombing have yielded thus far:

A single bombmaker using high-grade military explosives is believed to be responsible for building the four devices that killed more than 50 people last week, The Times can reveal.



Similar components from the explosive devices have been found at all four murder sites, leading detectives to believe that each of the 10lb rucksack bombs was the work of one man. They also believe that the materials used were not home made but sophisticated military explosives, possibly smuggled into Britain from the Balkans.

“The nature of the explosives appears to be military, which is very worrying,” said Superintendent Christophe Chaboud, the chief of the French anti-terrorist police, who was in London to help Scotland Yard.
...

It is understood that the examination of the No 30 bus at Tavistock Square has yielded vital fragments that have sharpened the focus of the police inquiry. Forensic pathologists have been paying particular attention to the remains of two bodies found in the mangled wreckage of the double-decker.

A senior police source said: “There are two bodies which have to be examined in great detail because they appear to have been holding the bomb or sitting on top of it. One of those might turn out to be the bomber.” A decapitated head was found at the bus scene which has been, in Israeli experience, the sign of a suicide bomber.

It would be God-awful if terrorism, Intifada-style, reaches the West. Israel has learned to live with this sickening brand of terrorism, but is forced to build a wall to protect itself. In Israel's neighborhood, that might be the way to go. But don't expect New York, London and Paris to wall itself off anytime soon. However, this certainly isn't a good sign.


More London Reax

Let's hope this becomes a continuing trend.

Eliot Cohen On The War

Eliot Cohen, military scholar and hawk, gives a sobering interview to the Washington Post (hat tip, B.D.). As his son heads to Iraq as an Army Infantry Officer (something I'll likely be training for this time next year), Cohen does an extraordinary job of putting things in perspective. You may not agree with his assessments, but if you support the war in Iraq it'd be a disservice to you not to digest Cohen's thoughts.

London: Terror Swamp

Picking up on what I mentioned yesterday, the New York Times runs a story today detailing how London has been a crossroads for Islamic terrorists for some time now. First, try this bit of information on for size:

Britain's challenge to detect militants on its soil is particularly difficult.

Counterterrorism officials estimate that 10,000 to 15,000 Muslims living in Britain are supporters of Al Qaeda. Among that number, officials believe that as many as 600 men were trained in camps connected with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

British investigators say that identifying Islamic militants among the two million Muslims living here, about 4 percent of the population, is especially hard. The Muslim community here is the most diverse of any in Europe in terms of ethnic origins, culture, history, language, politics and class. More than 60 percent of the community comes not from North African or Gulf Arab countries, but from countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

How do you let this happen?

Although Britain has passed a series of antiterrorist and immigration laws and made nearly 800 arrests since Sept. 11, 2001, critics have charged that its deep tradition of civil liberties and protection of political activists have made the country a haven for terrorists. The British government has drawn particular criticism from other countries over its refusal to extradite terrorism suspects.

For years, there was a widely held belief that Britain's tolerance helped stave off any Islamic attacks at home. But the anger of London's militant clerics turned on Britain after it offered unwavering support for the American-led invasion of Iraq. On Thursday morning, an attack long foreseen by worried counterterrorism officials became a reality.

"The terrorists have come home," said a senior intelligence official based in Europe, who works often with British officials. "It is payback time for a policy that was, in my opinion, an irresponsible policy of the British government to allow these networks to flourish inside Britain."

It's important to point out that these terrorists are home-grown and have been living in their respective communities long enough to be considered your normal immigrant neighbor. They form their terrorist groups in their neighborhoods (and various other European cities), plot and plan, draw inspiration from bin Laden and his disciples at places like the Finsbury mosque, and then go out and wage jihad. Example:

Another prime terrorism suspect who operated in London for years is Mustafa Setmarian Nasar, the suspected mastermind of the Madrid bombings. Although the authorities now cannot find him, he is believed to have visited Britain often and lived here openly from 1995 to 1998.

Officials believe he tried to organize his own extremist group before Sept. 11, but afterward officials say he pledged loyalty to Osama bin Laden. He lived in north London and was the editor of a militant Islamist magazine, Al Ansar, which is published here, distributed at some mosques in Western Europe and closely monitored by British security officials.

Then you have these Islamo-crazies, protected by law to spout off these incitements:

Even last week's bombings did little to curtail the rhetoric of some of the most radical leaders, who criticized Prime Minister Tony Blair for saying that the bombings appeared to be the work of Islamic terrorists.

"This shows me that he is an enemy of Islam," Abu Abdullah, a self-appointed preacher and the spokesman for the radical group Supporters of Shariah, said in an interview on Friday, adding, "Sometimes when you see how people speak, it shows you who your enemies are."

Mr. Abdullah declared that those British citizens who re-elected Mr. Blair "have blood on their hands" because British soldiers are killing Muslims. He also said that the British government, not Muslims, "have their hands" in the bombings, explaining, "They want to go on with their fight against Islam."

Our friend, Mr. Waheed, appears again in the Times. The article yesterday mentioned that his group, Hizb ut Tahrir, seeks to restore the Islamic caliphate. Ok, no big deal. Just like every run-of-the-mill jihadist. However, today's article mentions this about Mr. Waheed's group: "[It]is allowed to function here but is banned in Germany and much of the Muslim world...." Wow. This son-of-a-bitch then tries to put this nonsense on us:

"When Westerners get killed, the world cries. But if Muslims get killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, it's the smallest of news. I will condemn what happened in London only after there is the promise from Western leaders to condemn what they have done in Falluja and other parts of Iraq and in Afghanistan."

Do you see the disconnect hear? Do you see the utter hypocrisy? This man's group is banned in much of the Muslim world where, except for places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Lebanon, there is no freedom of speech, and yet he has every right to advocate the establishment of 7th century Islamic rule across the world (which means only to wage jihad) and accuse the government that secures his right to speak freely of being guilty of killing Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would not be surprised if this guy and his group's members are among those 600 trained al Qaeda members living in Britain. How dare this punk try to speak for his Muslim "brothers and sisters" in Iraq when we saw on January 30 8 million Iraqis defy Zarqawi's gang and go vote. Why won't he condemn those bombers that go and blow up recruiting stations in Iraq? Why is this nut and his organization allowed to exist in Britain, let alone be interviewed by and represented in the New York Times? There should be utter outrage. Indeed, I am fuming right now just writing this. This is the face of war in the 21st century. Whose side are you on?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Iraq and al Qaeda; Don't Even Dare Say It

Thanks to the thorough reporting of the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes, we know and, indeed, have known, about the complex marriage of Saddam Hussein's intelligence service and al Qaeda, which was devoted not to each other's well being, but the destruction of America. In his latest finding on this relationship, Hayes (with Thomas Joscelyn) makes it quite evident the marriage was deeper and stronger than we've been lead to believe:

Indeed, more than two years after the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was ousted, there is much we do not know about the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. We do know, however, that there was one. We know about this relationship not from Bush administration assertions but from internal Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) documents recovered in Iraq after the war--documents that have been authenticated by a U.S. intelligence community long hostile to the very idea that any such relationship exists.

We know from these IIS documents that beginning in 1992 the former Iraqi regime regarded bin Laden as an Iraqi Intelligence asset. We know from IIS documents that the former Iraqi regime provided safe haven and financial support to an Iraqi who has admitted to mixing the chemicals for the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. We know from IIS documents that Saddam Hussein agreed to Osama bin Laden's request to broadcast anti-Saudi propaganda on Iraqi state-run television. We know from IIS documents that a "trusted confidante" of bin Laden stayed for more than two weeks at a posh Baghdad hotel as the guest of the Iraqi Intelligence Service.

We have been told by Hudayfa Azzam, the son of bin Laden's longtime mentor Abdullah Azzam, that Saddam Hussein welcomed young al Qaeda members "with open arms" before the war, that they "entered Iraq in large numbers, setting up an organization to confront the occupation," and that the regime "strictly and directly" controlled their activities. We have been told by Jordan's King Abdullah that his government knew Abu Musab al Zarqawi was in Iraq before the war and requested that the former Iraqi regime deport him. We have been told by Time magazine that confidential documents from Zarqawi's group, recovered in recent raids, indicate other jihadists had joined him in Baghdad before the Hussein regime fell. We have been told by one of those jihadists that he was with Zarqawi in Baghdad before the war. We have been told by Ayad Allawi, former Iraqi prime minister and a longtime CIA source, that other Iraqi Intelligence documents indicate bin Laden's top deputy was in Iraq for a jihadist conference in September 1999.

All of this is new--information obtained since the fall of the Hussein regime. And yet critics of the Iraq war and many in the media refuse to see it. Just two weeks ago, President Bush gave a prime-time speech on Iraq. Among his key points: Iraq is a central front in the global war on terror that began on September 11. Bush spoke in very general terms. He did not mention any of this new information on Iraqi support for terrorism to make his case. That didn't matter to many journalists and critics of the war.

It's long, but read it all.

Oh, Come On

Let me preface this post with this: I think the New York Times is a very valuable newspaper, and its international coverage is probably the best in the world. Yet, sometimes its overt liberal bias makes you want to snap your lap top in half over your knee in an animalistic fit of political road rage. Case in point: The Week in News item in the Sunday Times' Week in Review section. Charting the all-encompassing emotional, athletic and national roller coaster Great Britain has been on this past week (from getting the 2012 Olympic bid, to hosting the G8 summit - and one of the Live 8 concerts - to the barbarity on 7/7), the folks at the Times write this:

The News
Bombers struck London in the Thursday morning rush hour. Terror again trumped triumph, and the faces of grief overtook those of joy.

Behind the News Britain's week had begun in a spirit of celebration, anticipation and resolve, with a variety of sports and entertainment and political events drawing the avid interest of the world. Euphoria entered the equation on Wednesday, when London won its bid to hold the Olympics. But the 2012 victory lap lasted scarcely 24 hours, ending abruptly with the bombings on the London Underground and on one of the signature red double-decker buses. The bombings also diverted attention from the G8 agenda, which itself had been intended, in part, to divert attention from the Blair-Bush lock step in the war on terrorism.

Where the hell do you get this from? How does the Times reach this conclusion, that the G8 agenda was supposed to "divert attention" from the terror war? We all know this G8 was about Africa, and not about "diverting attention" from Bushitler and his poodle Blair's war for Mideast petroleum. Blair has made Africa a priority and decided to use this G8 to focus on Africa. The way the Times writes this line implies the war on terror is a political burden for Blair, and his un-holy alliance with George W. Bush is costing him dearly - even though he was re-elected to a record third term in office in May. The sneering phrase, "Blair-Bush lock step in the war on terrorism," is itself revealing about the article's author, which is simply "THE NEW YORK TIMES". Maybe I'm just a paranoid right-winger looking for a fight in over-analyzing one sentence of a Week in Review article, but sometimes it's good to put this kinda stuff on the table for everyone to see.

Hitch Takes Down Ron Reagan

This is too sweet (hat tip, Roger Simon).

We Can Only Hope

The New York Times has this interesting report today:

LONDON - The new imam at the Finsbury Park mosque, once a hotbed of radical Islam, had a message for those who gathered for prayer on Friday, a day after four bombs killed at least 49 people: help identify the bombers, he told them. Show your anger at what happened here.

His call to cooperate was a stark and deliberate contrast to a former imam, Abu Hamza al-Masri, now detained and facing extradition to the United States to face terrorism-related charges. Under his leadership, the Finsbury Park mosque became a recruiting center for jihadists for holy wars from Bosnia to Afghanistan.

It is that image the residents of this North London immigrant neighborhood are working hard to shed, eager to demonstrate to an increasingly anxious country that they are not to blame for the attacks on Thursday and that Finsbury Park has rid itself of extremists.

Already, residents here were bracing themselves, fearing they would become targets. "It'll soon be 'kick-a-Muslim week' if we don't watch out," said one young man who declined to give his name. Already, there have been some retaliatory acts against Muslims in Britain.

The struggle in Finsbury Park reflects the broader divide between two Muslim worlds in Britain - the majority of moderates and the radical Islamists who live among them. For years, a relatively small band of radical Islamists hijacked Finsbury Park's image and threatened its economic rejuvenation.

But the moderates are reclaiming the mosque. They installed a new board of trustees who brought in the new, moderate imam. The mosque now offers a course on Islam for non-Muslims. The neighborhood's other, smaller mosque has thrown open its doors in an aggressive program to show London and the world that they do not harbor terrorists. It holds regular "open mosque weekends," in which all comers are invited to tour the mosque, watch videos about its charitable programs and eat from a buffet of halal food.
...

The police raided the Finsbury Park mosque in January 2003, and Britain's moderate Muslim community leaders orchestrated Mr. Mustafa's ouster.

"That place is now safe in the hands of mainstream Muslims," said Ahmed Sheik, president of the Muslim Association of Britain, which helped install the mosque's new board. "We have no fear of the radicals coming again."

The Finsbury Park mosque cannot prevent Muslims with extremist beliefs from coming to pray, but they can no longer use the premises for other activities, said Muhammad Kozbar, the new secretary of the mosque's board of trustees. As proof that the mosque has been reclaimed, he said the average congregation for Friday Prayer has tripled from what it was in its radical days.

Then, of course, you find this caveat:

For many Muslims here, condemning terrorism does not mean condoning American or British policies.
...

"We have far greater experience as victims of terror than as perpetrators of terror," said Mr. Waheed of Hizb ut-Tahrir, saying that the community's reaction to the killing of Muslims in Afghanistan and the Middle East has been "remarkably restrained."

"People need to understand the feeling on the Muslim street," he said. "People hate the foreign policy of Britain and the United States, and the West needs to consider whether constant interference in the Muslim world is productive."

Yeah, pal. Productive. The only measurable level of productivity of anything from the Muslim world - before the U.S. invasion in Iraq and Jan. 30 elections - was coming from crude oil fields and the madrassas where imams pumped out those charming Islamo-fascists. Mr. Waheed also needs to consider whether the Islamization of the West is productive, as well. And what's this about "the killing of Muslims in Afghanistan and the Middle East has been 'remarkably restrained'"??? The reporter, Craig Smith, doesn't say who's doing the killing, but we can safely assume we know who Mr. Waheed believes is responsible - the American soldiers. Why doesn't Mr. Waheed condemn Zarqawi when his ilk blow up Shia mosques and kill Shia and Sunni Kurd Muslims in cold blood in Iraq? Or the Egyptian ambassador to Iraq? Why the silence there, Mr. Waheed?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Trying To Get Back in the Blogging Grove...

At the urging of some of my colleagues at the Claremont Institute and my own attempt to muster up the motivation to blog and write again, I'm going to try to get back in that blogging groove. Let's hope I can keep up a respectable posting pace. Anyway...to some news.

First a couple of points about the London bombings. One thing I noticed reading through all the coverage and commentaries was the seemingly universal acknowledgment that an attack in London was all but a foregone conclusion. Christopher Hitchens is one of many examples:

My son flew in from London at the weekend, and we were discussing, as we have several times before, why it hadn't happened yet. "It" was the jihadist attack on the city, for which the British security forces have been braced ever since the bombings in Madrid. When the telephone rang in the small hours of this morning, I was pretty sure it was the call I had been waiting for. And as I snapped on the TV I could see, from the drawn expression and halting speech of Tony Blair, that he was reacting not so much with shock as from a sense of inevitability.

The fact that the 3-11 Madrid bombings brought home to Europe the utter horrors of Islamo-fascist terror, putting big cities like London and Paris on notice, the radicalization of British Muslims in Finsbury Park egged on by hideous thugs like Abu Hamza al-Masri, and the U.K.'s partnership with the U.S., especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, all could be cited as evidence of the inevitability of an attack in London. But my question is why did Tony Blair and the Brits and many in the U.S. resign themselves to this supposed fact?

Granted, it is impossible to deter someone so determined to kill others that he will kill himself in process, but I think that the resignation to this inevitability is a sign of who is still playing offense and defense in this war. Do you think the terror masters who are the mullahs in Iran or the Baathists in Syria harbor a feeling that their rule is at the mercy of American firepower? I doubt it. You can be sure those pockets of al Qaeda dispersed all throughout Europe plot and plan in a manner that is definitely not on the defensive. These bastards are playing offense, and they want to drive hard to the basket at any opening they get.

And even despite the offensive we launched in Iraq, we're still on our heels. We resigned ourselves to an attack in London because we know al Qaeda is gunning for us 24/7. When the hell are we - that is, the West - going to say, enough! When will Europe wake the hell up? When will the cranky Left finally put the blame on the killers rather than trying to pin it on Bush? It was good to hear London mayor and left-winger extraordinaire Ken "Red" Livingstone tell the terrorists to flip off. Definitely a good start (George Galloway notwithstanding). So we'll see we go from here. Although Tom Friedman's column provides us an interesting route - even though it's one we, as Americans and Westerners, can't actually take:

...[It] is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst. If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere. Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village.

What do I mean? I mean that the greatest restraint on human behavior is never a policeman or a border guard. The greatest restraint on human behavior is what a culture and a religion deem shameful. It is what the village and its religious and political elders say is wrong or not allowed. Many people said Palestinian suicide bombing was the spontaneous reaction of frustrated Palestinian youth. But when Palestinians decided that it was in their interest to have a cease-fire with Israel, those bombings stopped cold. The village said enough was enough.

The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the madness of jihadist attacks. When Salman Rushdie wrote a controversial novel involving the prophet Muhammad, he was sentenced to death by the leader of Iran. To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden.

Some Muslim leaders have taken up this challenge. This past week in Jordan, King Abdullah II hosted an impressive conference in Amman for moderate Muslim thinkers and clerics who want to take back their faith from those who have tried to hijack it. But this has to go further and wider.

The double-decker buses of London and the subways of Paris, as well as the covered markets of Riyadh, Bali and Cairo, will never be secure as long as the Muslim village and elders do not take on, delegitimize, condemn and isolate the extremists in their midst.

I think this wider point proves that American efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East can only go so far. In fact, if this Muslim problem can only be cured by a Muslim solution, it shows how limited our capacity for transforming an entire region of the world really is. Don't get me wrong; I think it is worthwhile that the U.S. be in Iraq to help set up a democratic beach head in the heart of the Mideast. The effect of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq was palpable from Beirut to Cairo to Riyadh to Tehran. But the process is ultimately self-actualized (if that's even a word). This is taking Friedman's point to the next level. First delegitimize the terrorists, then let the people decide their future.