Friday, November 30, 2007
Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear "Muhammad."
"No tolerance: Execution," and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad."
The BIG Bill for Saving the World
You know, I always knew that the man-made global warming thing was a scam, but now the bill has come in on it and it's huge:
Helping the world's poor adapt to more floods, droughts and other changes from a warming planet will cost the richest nations at least $86 billion a year by 2015. "They must have help from the rich world," said Claes Johnasson, a co-author of the report commissioned by the U.N. Development Program. The report recommends the biggest share be paid by the United States and other rich nations, based on aid targets and financing calculations by the World Bank and Group of Eight major industrialized nations.
"We're suggesting 1.6 percent of (global) GDP - still very affordable," Kjorven said. "The countries of the world that are the principal culprits, if you wish, for creating this problem in the first place need to act strongly to safeguard the future of those that have done nothing to cause this problem but are the most vulnerable."
The Gangs of Iraq Are Killing Each Other Off
The Gangs of Iraq are killing each other off. What it has come down to is the gangs, militias and organizations that have been making a living planting roadside bombs and carrying out contract hits on American and Iraqi troops for the last three years, are being defeated by tribal and community groups fed up with the constant violence. The terrorist activity of the last three years was paid for by kidnapping, extortion, black market gasoline and so on, and wealthy Sunni Arabs eager to put the Baath party back into power. Religious leaders, who often took fees for allowing their mosques to be used as armories and safe houses, also preached against the heretical Shia, who now ruled the country. Now the pro-peace Sunni Arab clergy have displaced the pro-violence imams, and established their own "Council of Religious Scholars" to prove it.
Generally unnoticed over the last two years was a growing revolt within the Sunni Arab community. The Sunni Arab nationalists, the guys who supported Saddam and what he represented, did not have the backing of all Sunni Arabs. Neither did Saddam. And after Saddam fell, the fighting between Sunni Arabs began. Many Sunni Arabs greeted the Americans, and the prospect of democracy, with enthusiasm. These Sunni Arabs found themselves threatened by their fellow Sunnis, and distrusted by the majority Kurds and Shia. But the anti-Saddam Sunni Arabs have grown in number over the last three years, aided in part by the departure (for Syria, Jordan or internal exile) of nearly half the Sunni Arab community.
The tipping point occurred this year, as the anti-terrorist Sunni Arabs became numerous enough to defeat the terrorist groups. The fighting continues, and serious violence will probably not end until sometime next year. Many of the terrorist groups have roots in the community, or simply will not flee or quit. They will fight to the death. But many others are giving up, or sticking to less murderous criminal activities. There's still money to be made in kidnapping, extortion and stealing. The Iraqi economy has continued to boom since 2003, so there's a lot more to steal.
All these changes have been a boon for foreign journalists. It's safe enough now for these reporters to get out among the Iraqi people. There's still plenty of violence and tragedy to report, and now it can be done personally, rather than through Iraqi stringers. American troops are noting a dramatic reduction in violence against them. Earlier this year, the average American brigade encountered about half a dozen IEDs (roadside bombs) a day, and nearly as many incidents of gunfire directed at their patrols. That violence has gone down by more than half. Many neighborhoods are safe enough to stop and walk around in, and even do a little shopping. Getting local souvenirs for the folks back home has become popular. More Iraqis, especially the kids, come out to practice their English. Lots of Iraqis are learning English. Lots of Iraqis want to get out of Iraq and go to America. Lots of Iraqis already in America, and they tell the folks back in the old country that there have been no Islamic terrorist bombs going off in America since September 11, 2001. It's safe in America, and it's getting safer in Iraq.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
When your heritage is genocide, wars of aggression, or cowardly surrender, then the record of the United States must be nearly impossible to bear. No continent has exported as much misery and slaughter as Europe has done. Since the end of World War 2 every conflict in which the United States has been involved with has been to some degree a legacy of Europe's colonial era--including the liberation of that Frankenstein's monster of a state, Iraq.We are cleaning up the messes left by Paris, Berlin, and even London, while the Europeans chide us self-righteously. No one should ever doubt that Americans are the most generous and greatest force for good in human history. Period.
On Ron Paul
As I look over Ron Paul's supporters I find an imposing collection of neo-Nazis, white Supremacists, Holocaust deniers, 9/11 'truthers' and other paranoid and discredited conspiracists. He has the passionate support of the Legion of Doom and his campaign lunchroom looks like the "Star Wars" cantina. I try to ignore Paul like an eccentric who sits too close to you on the bus ;)
Paris Violence Ramps Up
The rioting in France entered its third day last night, and events took an ominous turn. A French police official said that “genuine urban guerrillas with conventional weapons” were now involved. European news broadcasts available online show Muslim rioters firing shotguns at reporters and policemen. Over 100 police officers have been injured, at least thirty of them hit by buckshot. Six officers were in serious condition after being shot at close range, several of them in the face. Most media reports continue to describe the rioting thugs as “youth” or, in a few cases, as “Arab and black children.”
But here is the reality that continues to be ignored. Many of the areas where rioting took place in 2005, and is taking place now, are considered “no go zones” by police, firemen and medical emergency vehicles because they are too dangerous. Whole neighborhoods are outside the control of French government authorities on a daily basis. These neighborhoods are often “ruled” by a bizarre combination of radical Muslims, drug gangs and petty criminals. These are the same criminals who have terrorized commuters in Paris, gang-raped French women and attacked French Jews. France’s new government, under the pro-American President Nicolas Sarkozy, is facing a key test of its ability to confront the growing threat to its nation.
Left Shrugs At Islamic Injustice
The government of Sudan today charged British school teacher Gillian Gibbons with “insulting religion and inciting hatred” for allowing her students to name a class teddy bear “Muhammad.” Gibbons was arrested on Sunday at Unity High School in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, after one of her student’s parents complained to government authorities about the name. The charge was filed even though one of Gibbons’ seven-year-old students told authorities that he chose the teddy bear’s name after his own name and that most of the class agreed with his choice. A Sudanese government spokesman, however, called Gibbons’ conduct “unacceptable,” and she now faces six months in prison, a fine and up to 40 lashes under Sudan’s Islamic law-based legal system.
Islamic fundamentalists in Sudan are even calling for demonstrations after Friday prayers, when most followers of the faith in Sudan attend mosque and congregate together. It is not surprising that this story comes from Sudan, whose government is in the midst of a five-year-long campaign of genocide that has taken the lives of over 300,000 of its own people in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Unfortunately, this type of distorted justice is far from uncommon in the Islamic world. Earlier this month a 19-year-old Muslim woman was sentenced to 90 lashings under Saudi Arabian law. What was her offense? The young woman had been beaten and gang-raped but was being punished for violating the country’s laws on segregation because she had traveled to the location of the rape in a car with an unrelated man. Though seven men were convicted for the brutal rapes, their punishments ranged from a mere two to nine years in prison. Even worse, when the young victim appealed her ridiculous sentence, the court increased her punishment to 200 lashes and six-months in prison.
Not surprisingly, western liberals have been less than eager to discuss these cases. When asked to comment on the Gibbons case, a spokeswoman for the National Organization for Women (NOW) said the situation “is definitely on the radar, and NOW is not ignoring it.” But the spokeswoman for NOW, whose mission statement is “to take action to bring about equality for all women,” added that the group is “not putting out a statement or taking a position.” Of course what more can we expect from a group that has refused to condemn gender selection abortion in China and the mistreatment of Muslim women in Afghanistan and Iran? The very same liberals who accuse religious conservatives in America of trying to impose a “theocracy” merely because we oppose abortion-on-demand and gay “marriage” become conspicuously quiet when genuine theocracies mete out their brutal and unjust punishments.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Pakistan: in many ways this country is both a success story and at the same time a failure for the United States. We supported the muslims in Pakistan for decades against their Hindu rivals in neighboring India, but we never get credit for it from the Islamic world. In fact, there was a very good chance that India was going to nuke Pakistan in 1990 until President Bush told both countries to stand down. That war would have killed millions but no credit is given to Republican Presidents by the left-stream media, ever. In fact, the situation in Pakistan is so serious that many people in senior government positions go to bed worrying that tomorrow the 100 or so nuclear weapons that Pakistan has may fall into the hands of Islamic radicals. How did we get here? Here's a small summary:
Since it's creation in 1947, the government of Pakistan has been fairly secular: women had the right to vote and Islamic laws were not on the books of the judiciary. However, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, Pakistan took a serious turn off the rails of intelligent civilization. The Pakistani President at the time, General Zia al-Huq, sought to prevent the takeover of his country by arming radical Islamic rebels to fight the "godless" soldiers of the Soviets in the backwaters of Afghanistan. He also began major funding for religious madrassas that taught only Islamic law from a Wahhabi viewpoint; strict, militant, and with fervor. Eventually these students grew up and entered Pakistani society, with radical muslims now penetrating large sections of the Pakistani military and intelligence services. This is why Pakistan is reaching a critical boiling point. Benazir Bhutto and all of the other civilian leaders in Pakistan have been far more corrupt than the Pak military when they were in power, and are not seen as potential saviour of the nation. In fact, the entire country could fall into all-out rebellion if a woman took over the Islamic-bound nation again. Surely the rebels in the Waziristan province area of Pakistan would not follow her. Neither can the Pak military or intelligence branches save the country; both are heavily infiltrated by muslim radicals.
Relations between Pakistan and the United States soured in the 1990s as Islamabad refused to give up their nuclear program, which the USA did not support. In fact, all military sales to Pakistan were halted for years because of this rupture. The United States refused to endorse a Pak nuclear program, which we now know also fueled and funded the nuclear programs of North Korea, Iran, and Libya via the A.Q. Khan network. The vast majority of Pakistani nuclear know-how came from communist China, which sought to use Pakistan as a bulwark against Indian ambitions on the sub-continent of Southeast Asia.
India views the deteriorating situation in Pakistan with great alarm. Not only has that huge democratic nation suffered numerous attacks by Pakistan over the years, including a direct attack on the India Parliament several years ago but the Pak missiles can easily reach all of India's major cities. In fact, defense ties between India and Israel are a direct result of this threat: Israel has advanced anti-ballistic missile technology with which to shoot down Pak missiles. Trade in defense weapons also helped the Indian military successfully seal the border between Pakistan and India in Kashmir, which caused an enormous drop in deaths in that part of the country.
Overall, the situation in Pakistan is rapidly deteriorating but luckily the nation has relatively few ties with Iran, America's #1 enemy in the world. Pakistan has long been seen as an strategic competitor by Iran, which has maintained strong ties with India for millenia. The side into chaos for Pakistan is slow...but it is surely happening and nothing we can do can prevent this catastrophe from occurring. What we need to do is mitigate how bad it can get.
New A-10C Connects
The new upgrade of the A-10, the A-10C, has been in Iraq for two months now and has been a big success. The upgrades give the A-10 the same goodies that most other fighters have. These include the ability to drop JDAM (GPS guided) bombs, plus a targeting pod, lots of color displays in the cockpit and a digital communications capability. In practical terms, the A-10C pilots have a much better idea of where they, and any other aircraft, are in the area. The targeting pod gives a detailed, and up close view of what's going on down there, day or night. The heat sensing night camera even makes it possible to detect recently buried roadside bombs, and A-10C pilots have gotten pretty good at that. The digital data link gives the pilots the equivalent of battlefield Internet. Video, voice and text messages can be quickly exchanged with other aircraft and troops on the ground. This makes the planning of strikes go a lot quicker, and much reduces the risk of friendly fire.
Although the A-10 is built to take ground fire, the targeting pod and JDAMs allow the A-10 to be useful outside the range of ground fire (10,000 feet and up). But the A-10 can still come down low and use its 30mm cannon. With the upgrade, the A-10C can do anything for the troops that an F-16, F-18 or F-15E can do, and do it more cheaply (the A-10 is a less expensive aircraft to operate), as well as providing services an F-16 cannot (a bullet resistant design, a larger caliber cannon and slower speed). The entire A-10 fleet (350 aircraft) is being converted to the A-10C standard, at a cost of about $13 million per aircraft.
Monday, November 12, 2007
To say that U.S. relations with Russia have been strained in recent years is an understatement. While many held out hope that Russia might become an ally in the post-Cold War world, the relationship turned chilly as President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, sought to reassert Russian power in the world with a series of provocative gestures, including Russia’s refusal to back tougher measures against Iran. In fact, many observers viewed Putin’s recent visit to Tehran as a public rebuke of the West, as he almost seemed to be encouraging the Islamic Republic’s defiance.
But now there are leaks coming out of the Kremlin that suggest Putin may have left Tehran with a very different attitude. Iranian-born journalist Amir Taheri reports that Putin advisors are now saying that the Russian president was “taken aback” and “had not expected what he heard.” What exactly did he hear? Just consider the following quote from a senior Russian official:
“This was the first time that Putin was talking to senior Islamic Republic leaders in a substantive and focused way. The president found his Iranian interlocutor weird, to say the least. The Iranians mouthed a lot of eschatological nonsense and came close to urging Putin to convert to Islam. It was clear they lived in a world of their own.”
Taheri also reports that both Iranian “president” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave Putin the impression that, “‘they settle matters in the metaphysical space’ and with ‘the help of the Hidden Imam.’” Moreover, the Russian officials said, “The Iranians think they have already won. So intoxicated they appeared with hubris that they did not even ask Putin to help them ward off further United Nations sanctions.”
This is crucial, friends, because according to the Shiite sect that Ahmadinejad follows, the “Hidden Imam,” or Islamic messiah, will only return after an apocalyptic conflagration. Ahmadinejad believes he is fulfilling Islamic prophecy through Iran’s nuclear program! Let’s hope that after sitting down face-to-face and looking into the eyes of this madman that Putin now understands the threat confronting the civilized world. Remember this report the next time you hear a politician suggest that we need to engage the mullahs diplomatically or offer them economic incentives. The last time the world trusted a madman’s signature on a scrap of paper promising “peace in our time,” millions lost their lives.
Indian Air Force Gets Screwed
India's recent deal to partner with Russia in the development and production of a "Fifth Generation Fighter" has caused some unrest in the senior ranks of the Indian Air Force. Some generals believe India is paying too much ($5 billion, about half the development cost) and is not involved enough. The Russians have frozen the design of the aircraft. This is not to say that Indian air force generals cannot have some input when changes have to be made during development, but the current deal does not force the Russians to pay much attention.
The Russian-Indian effort is meant to build a superior aircraft to the American F-22. The Sukhoi T-50 is not expected to fly until 2010, and won't be in service for another 5-10 years (depending on how quickly the new technology can be obtained). The T-50 looks a lot like the F-22. The 37 ton T-50 is about the same weight as the F-22, and has a similar shape.
The benefits of the Russia-Indian cooperation are many. In addition to the financial and technical help, Russia will have a guaranteed export customer, and a better chance at increasing the number produced, and bringing down the per-aircraft cost. If only 200 are produced, each aircraft will carry a $50 million share of the development cost. Manufacturing costs for each aircraft could be as much as $100 million. While Russia and India have lower labor costs, wage rates are not a major factor here. You have to build a lot of expensive, and precise, production facilities.
In addition to stealth, super-cruise and multiple sensors (some of them passive), the T-50 will also contain multiple electronic systems, all possessing a lot of technology that neither Russia, nor, India, have at the moment. While Russia has its spies trying to steal all the technogoodies it can, that may not be enough.
For the last 70 years, the Russians have been designing hot (although often flawed) aircraft, that tended to be flown by low quality pilots. The Russians say they are trying to break out of this cycle, but they've been saying that for several decades. Their last generation of fighters, the MiG-29 and Su-27, like all those before it, performed poorly against American fighters. But the Indians believe this is more a reflection of pilot, than aircraft, quality. With the T-50, they will have a fighter far superior to anything Pakistan or China possess. That's worth $5 billion, and not being allowed to tinker with the design. This assumes that the cooperation deal involves the understanding that the aircraft will not be sold to China or Pakistan. By StrategyPage
School Vouchers, Please!
By Tom McLaughlin
It’s my misfortune to have been a public school teacher during the more than three decades that public education has been in decline. The reasons are too voluminous to account for here, but I’ll point out two: increased power of teachers’ unions and increased intervention by big government.
The teachers’ unions make it so expensive to get rid of bad teacher that administrators usually just try to just work around them. One report claims it costs an average of $200,000 in legal fees to fire someone if the union contests it. How can a principal build an effective team if (s)he can’t get rid of dead wood? Under most contracts, the only easy way to get rid of a teacher is through the RIF process – Reduction In Force. If a budget is cut or if student enrollment declines, teachers can be laid off – but administrators still don’t have the option of laying off dysfunctional teachers. It has to be “last hired, first fired.”
Then the federal government enters the picture and mandates that local districts spend more and more on students who don’t function well. Trouble is, many slow learners for whom this spending was originally intended over thirty years ago are being dropped from services. They get help in their early grades, but then they’re tested again in middle school and even though they’re still struggling, regulations say they’re operating at the level they’re capable of and they’re declared ineligible for services. Meanwhile, students who are quite capable but who won’t function for whatever reason, receive most of the help. They get an increasing share of services while many slow learners are cut loose to fend for themselves. Regular classroom teachers are expected to tailor their curricula to slow learners who have been reclassified as “low normal.” At the same time, they must put up with the presence of the others who can work but won’t and they must try to keep bright, motivated students interested – all in the same room at the same time. Educational “experts” insist this can be done if teachers receive training in “differentiation.” One result of this is the grade inflation prevalent at nearly every level of education.
As in so many other social programs since the 1960s, millions and millions of our tax dollars are spent to subsidize dysfunction in public education. Why should we be surprised when it increases? Such students learn that the less they do for themselves, the more someone will step in and do it for them. It’s called “learned helplessness” and it has a pronounced effect on the atmosphere of a class. Such kids do nearly nothing for themselves because they’ve learned that there are essentially no consequences for drifting along. They’re passed along year after year. Few ever stay back anymore because the “progressive” experts insist it does them no good. And, they insist that students be grouped heterogeneously – that is, the functional ones are in the same classes as the dysfunctional ones. This way, a whole class is held back rather than just the students who refuse to learn. This condition is most pronounced in middle school, because in high school students may choose advanced courses after the first year and the many dysfunctional students drop out along the way. The “experts” are afraid of grouping students according to their ability and their willingness to do the work necessary to learn, because bright, motivated students would progress so much that the gap between the functional and dysfunctional would become a chasm and attract scrutiny.
The teachers’ unions are the biggest constituents of the Democrat Party and major donors as well. With their pronounced Leftist bias, they push the party to port and are largely responsible for bringing Planned Parenthood sex education programs and homosexual activists into public schools with all the accompanying propaganda.
Students down to kindergarten level are exposed to it. What’s going on at Portland, Maine’s King Middle School lately – prescribing birth control to middle schoolers – is a good example of how far that envelope is being pushed.
Whatever money is left over in union coffers after contributing to Democrat candidates is used to fight voucher initiatives in whatever city or state they might arise. The unions know that if low and middle income parents had a choice about where to send their children to school, it wouldn’t be the local public school for many. With the choices vouchers would offer, the enormous political power of the teacher’s union monopoly would be smashed and public schools would have to compete for students. Unions insist that voucher initiatives would “take money away from public schools,” but one wonders what kind of fuzzy math they use to make those calculations. It costs an average of over $10,000 per year for each student in public schools. Voucher initiatives which the unions have defeated over and over call for less than half that amount to be spent for students to go to private schools. Parents would kick in the rest. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that vouchers would leave more money for public schools, not less.
In spite of all this, my career has provided much reward because I've had the freedom to deliver my curriculum the best way I can and it's been my privilege to work with almost three thousand Maine children, most of them terrific kids. Also, I know that although union power is at its greatest.
Right now, cracks are beginning to form. The Utah legislature passed a voucher initiative and the governor signed it. The teachers' union forced it to referendum and defeated it Tuesday after outspending the proponents. New York City, however, is considering one. Cracks are widening.
U.S. Says Attack Plans for Iran Ready
U.S. defense officials have signaled that up-to-date attack plans are available if needed in the escalating crisis over Iran's nuclear aims, although no strike appears imminent.
The Army and Marine Corps are under enormous strain from years of heavy ground fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Still, the United States has ample air and naval power to strike Iran if President Bush decided to target nuclear sites or to retaliate for alleged Iranian meddling in neighboring Iraq.
Among the possible targets, in addition to nuclear installations like the centrifuge plant at Natanz: Iran's ballistic missile sites, Republican Guard bases, and naval warfare assets that Tehran could use in a retaliatory closure of the Straits of Hormuz, a vital artery for the flow of Gulf oil.
The Navy has an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf area with about 60 fighters and other aircraft that likely would feature prominently in a bombing campaign. And a contingent of about 2,200 Marines are on a standard deployment to the Gulf region aboard ships led by the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship. Air Force fighters and bombers are available elsewhere in the Gulf area, including a variety of warplanes in Iraq and at a regional air operations center in Qatar.
But there has been no new buildup of U.S. firepower in the region. In fact there has been some shrinkage in recent months. After adding a second aircraft carrier in the Gulf early this year - a move that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said was designed to underscore U.S. long-term stakes in the region - the Navy has quietly returned to a one-carrier presence.
Talk of a possible U.S. attack on Iran has surfaced frequently this year, prompted in some cases by hard-line statements by White House officials. Vice President Dick Cheney, for example, stated on Oct. 21 that the United States would "not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon," and that Iran would face "serious consequences" if it continued in that direction. Gates, on the other hand, has emphasized diplomacy.
Bush suggested on Oct. 17 that Iran's continued pursuit of nuclear arms could lead to "World War III." Yet on Wednesday, in discussing Iran at a joint press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Bush made no reference to the military option.
"The idea of Iran having a nuclear weapon is dangerous, and, therefore, now is the time for us to work together to diplomatically solve this problem," Bush said, adding that Sarkozy also wants a peaceful solution.
Iran's conventional military forces are generally viewed as limited, not among the strongest in the Middle East. But a leading expert on the subject, Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says it would be a mistake to view the Islamic republic as a military weakling.
"Its strengths in overt conflict are more defensive than offensive, but Iran has already shown it has great capability to resist outside pressure and any form of invasion and done so under far more adverse and divisive conditions than exist in Iran today," Cordesman wrote earlier this year.
Cordesman estimates that Iran's army has an active strength of around 350,000 men.
At the moment, there are few indications of U.S. military leaders either advising offensive action against Iran or taking new steps to prepare for that possibility. Gates has repeatedly emphasized that while military action cannot be ruled out, the focus is on diplomacy and tougher economic sanctions.
A long-standing responsibility of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is to maintain and update what are called contingency plans for potential military action that a president might order against any conceivable foe. The secret plans, with a range of timelines and troop numbers, are based on a variety of potential scenarios - from an all-out invasion like the March 2003 march on Baghdad to less demanding missions.
Another military option for Washington would be limited, clandestine action by U.S. special operations commandos, such as Delta Force soldiers, against a small number of key nuclear installations.
The man whose responsibility it would be to design any conventional military action against Iran - and execute it if ordered by Bush - is Adm. William Fallon, the Central Command chief. He is playing down prospects of conflict, saying in a late September interview that there is too much talk of war.
"This constant drumbeat of conflict is what strikes me, which is not helpful and not useful," Fallon told Al-Jazeera television, adding that he does not expect a war against Iran. During a recent tour of the Gulf region, Fallon made a point of telling U.S. allies that Iran is not as strong as it portrays itself. "Not militarily, economically or politically," he said.
Fallon's immediate predecessor, retired Army Gen. John Abizaid, raised eyebrows in September when he suggested that initiating a war against Iran would be a mistake. He urged vigorous efforts to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but failing that, he said, "There are ways to live with a nuclear Iran." He also said he believed Iran's leaders could be dissuaded from using nuclear arms, once acquired.
The possibility of U.S. military action raises many tough questions, beginning perhaps with the practical issue of whether the United States knows enough about Iran's network of nuclear sites - declared sites as well as possible clandestine ones - to sufficiently set back or destroy their program. Among other unknowns: Iran's capacity to retaliate by unleashing terrorist strikes against U.S. targets. Nonmilitary specialists who have studied Iran's nuclear program are doubtful of U.S. military action. "There is a nontrivial chance that there will be an attack, but it's not likely," said Jeffrey Lewis, director of a nuclear strategy project at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy group.
Friday, November 09, 2007
It’s not every day that a French president earns a standing ovation from American politicians, but yesterday Nicolas Sarkozy had members of Congress rising to their feet as he delivered a stirring speech described as “Reaganesque.” With Veterans Day approaching, I was especially appreciative of his tribute to the sacrifices of America’s heroes in uniform. Below are excerpts of President Sarkozy’s address to Congress.
“From the very beginning, the American dream meant proving to all mankind that freedom, justice, human rights and democracy were no utopia but were rather the most realistic policy there is and the most likely to improve the fate of each and every person. America did not tell the millions of men and women who came from every country in the world and who … built the greatest nation in the world: ‘Come, and everything will be given to you.’ She said: ‘Come, and the only limits to what you’ll be able to achieve will be your own courage and your own talent.’ America embodies this extraordinary ability to grant each and every person a second chance.
“…Ladies and gentlemen, the men and women of my generation heard their grandparents talk about how in 1917, America saved France at a time when it had reached the final limits of its strength, which it had exhausted in the most absurd and bloodiest of wars. The men and women of my generation heard their parents talk about how in 1944, America returned to free Europe from the horrifying tyranny that threatened to enslave it.
“…France will never forget the sacrifice of your children. To those 20-year-old heroes who gave us everything, to the families of those who never returned, to the children who mourned fathers they barely got a chance to know, I want to express France’s eternal gratitude. …I want to tell you that whenever an American soldier falls somewhere in the world, I think of what the American army did for France. I think of them and I am sad, as one is sad to lose a member of one’s family.
“Today as in the past, as we stand at the beginning of the 21st century, it is together that we must fight to defend and promote the values and ideals of freedom and democracy that men such as Washington and Lafayette invented together. Together we must fight against terrorism. …Let me tell you solemnly today: France will remain engaged in Afghanistan as long as it takes, because what’s at stake in that country is the future of our values and that of the Atlantic Alliance. For me, failure is not an option. …America can count on France.
“…It is this ambitious France that I have come to present to you today. A France that comes out to meet America to renew the pact of friendship and the alliance that Washington and Lafayette sealed in Yorktown. Together let us be worthy of their example, let us be equal to their ambition, let us be true to their memories! Long live the United States of America!”
The Cost Of Business
Longtime supporters of my work know that I have been critical of our trade policies with communist China. I know the arguments: Free trade with the Chinese will transform them. I’m skeptical, and this week we got more evidence that trade with China is transforming us. While the president of France was praising America yesterday for its defense of freedom, House leaders the day before were publicly shaming American corporate executives for betraying human rights activists in communist China. Evidently, a number of Chinese dissidents have been jailed as a result of Yahoo’s cooperation with the communist state. In one case, a Chinese journalist who e-mailed a government memo prohibiting coverage of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre was sentenced to 10 years in prison after Yahoo turned over the reporter’s e-mail account information to the Chinese government.
Yahoo executives expressed regret, but defended their actions by stating that doing business in China is complicated. If the costs of doing business with the communist Chinese require our companies to sacrifice the principles of freedom, I would hope every American business executive would conclude that such costs are too high. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the only Holocaust survivor serving in Congress, castigated the Yahoo executives, saying, “While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are Pygmies.”
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Growing concern over China's expanding maritime presence has led Japan to announce that it will deploy sophisticated fighter aircraft to the southernmost island chain of Okinawa. According to Defense News, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force will shift twenty F-15s from their current station in Tokyo to Okinawa's Naha base by March of 2009, replace a similar number of aging F-4 aircraft already stationed there. "The Japanese government cannot say that China is a threat, but we are showing concern," Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura has told reporters. The announcement comes as Japan, the U.S. and Australia hold their first ever joint military drill in the East China Sea.
According to defense officials, those maneuvers are aimed at "improving techniques in fields such as communications and search-and-rescue operations, as well as helping build mutual confidence."
More on Putin
Opposition leader Garry Kasparov has warned that President Vladimir Putin’s plan to run for parliament could destabilize Russia, Reuters reports. “Putin must be the boss, he wants to be the boss, he wants to remain the boss - do you doubt it?” the former chess champion told reporters. “It is very dangerous. The consequences could be a collapse of power, February 1917. Power must be legitimate.” Kasparov also said Putin fears leaving office. “He has created a system where there is no guarantee but having power himself, so he will try to preserve it,” the one-time chess champion said. “But he will do it subtly - he doesn’t want to be Mugabe.”
Kasparov added that he doubted Putin – who, he said, has sent many deliberately misleading signals - will become prime minister. “You should forget about that - all his life he has been leading people along,” he said, citing previous speculation that Putin could endorse Sergei Ivanov or Dmitry Medvedev, both first deputy prime ministers, as successors. “Half a year ago everyone was talking about Ivanov and Medvedev and now where are they?” Reuters quoted Kasparov as saying. “They are nowhere."
Some observers believe recent arrests in Moscow are evidence of a ongoing (and increasing) power struggle inside Russia’s security and law-enforcement establishment.
Philippines: The Terrorist Bomb That Wasn't
MILF and government negotiators have overcome some basic disagreements and resumed peace talks. The hang up was over how much southern territory, which now contains a lot of Christian inhabitants, would be considered part of the new "Moslem territory" for the three million Moslems in the south. Christians have been migrating to the Moslem south for decades, and have changed the ethnic and religious make up of once purely Moslem districts. But there's another factor that is slowing down a peace deal with the Islamic separatists; clan feuds. The clans have long provided more government than the government. The clans back up their authority with armed militias. These gunmen have also provided recruits for separatist movements like the MILF, and terrorist groups like Abu Sayyaf. It's estimated that, in the last 80 years, there have been over 1,200 clan feuds. Most have been more smoke than
fire, with only about 5,000 people killed in all that time. But the violence shuts down traffic and commerce, and off causes hundreds, or thousands, of people to flee their homes. Disarming the clans is going to be more difficult than negotiating peace deals with outfits like the MILF.
Korea: Cell Phone Police Strike Back
North Korean police have increased the use of German cell phone signal detectors, to find and arrest those illegally using cell phones near the Chinese border. It is possible to get a signal there, and the government sees this as a major security leak. People can say whatever they want using Chinese cell phone service, and the government is determined to stop this phone traffic. There are believed to be dozens of the German detectors in use, with teams (consisting of several dozen secret police agents) moving through neighborhoods and hauling away those found with cell phones. The detectors are small enough to fit in a pocket, so the secret police teams are fairly inconspicuous. The cell phone users are usually engaged in commercial activities, or simply communicating with friends and family. Some North Koreans have established a lucrative business by selling North Koreans access to relatives in China, South Korea or elsewhere, via calls on these phones. The government wants to stop all of this.
Where Diplomats Fear To Tread
While our Marines are restoring order to Iraq, U.S. diplomats are refusing to take their posts in Baghdad. The U.S. embassy desperately needs to fill nearly 50 vacancies, but it is finding few volunteers and may have to “draft” foreign service officers. During a “town hall meeting” this week at the State Department, we witnessed a sorry example of what is happening to the spirit of sacrifice from a State Department bureaucrat. Referring to the possibility of being sent to Iraq, a career foreign service officer said, “I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?” (To date three foreign service personnel have been killed in Iraq.) All of these guys are supposed to be public servants, and even the folks at Foggy Bottom understand the world is a dangerous place. The 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania killed dozens of U.S. personnel. If they want a “safe” job, they should take their pinstripes and wingtips to Sears!
This is just one more example of why it is so dangerous to rely on diplomats and bureaucrats to preserve our security. When the first terrorist bombs went off in Iraq, the U.N. was the first to abandon the country. And when the bullets start flying, the bureaucrats start hiding. What if on 9/11, New York police officers and firefighters had looked up at those burning towers and said, “I’m not going in, that’s a potential death sentence”? What if the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 had stayed in their seats, because fighting back, after all, was “a potential death sentence”? What if all our men and women in uniform said, “I’m sorry, but basically that’s a potential death sentence and you know it. Who will raise our children if we are dead or seriously wounded?”
US Media (speaks for itself)
Saturday, November 03, 2007
|Seattle Columnist Says ‘I Understand’ the Burning of ‘Oppressive’ Churches||[Nov. 3rd, 2007|01:05 pm]|
Dorothy Parvaz, a columnist, blogger and member of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial board, posted a short P-I blog post in which she sympathetically says she understands how someone would want to burn a church down because it is “an oppressive institution.” And she isn’t just shrugging her shoulders over the threatened arson of a church, but the planned arson of San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, a landmark building on Nob Hill. Is there a little hatemongering going on against religion in the Post-Intelligencer? Sure seems so.
We’ve met Miss Parvez in my work before, the last time was when she said that GOP voters were “White, male, middle-aged and slightly stupid,” and intimated that terrorism was nothing to worry about by calling the WOT “Bush’s asinine ‘war on terror.’” Well, this time she is ready to “understand” the burning of churches in a blog post about the arrest of a mentally suspect man named Paul Addis who was the goof responsible for the too early torching The Man figure at the last pot-head festival Burning Man 2007. This time, though, he meant to burn down the famous Frisco Cathedral.
After describing Addis’ arrest, Parvez sympathetically assesses his newest target:
“On the other hand… it’s still arson”?? On the other hand? Someone needs to tell Parvez that there isn’t any “other hand” in a case where someone is threatening to burn down any building, much less a church. It’s wrong to commit arson on EVERY hand, not just the “other” one.
She further displays her hate for religion by only worrying that burning down the Grace Cathedral would be bad because the fire might “get out of hand” and harm other nearby structures.
And what is with this “oppressive” stuff, anyway? When was the last time a church in America dragged someone off the street and forced them to join their congregation?
It is amazing that a person so filled with hate for the ideas and institutions of the Heartland of America is given such a prominent role at the newspaper of one of the West Coast’s largest cities.
Imagine, if you will, what kind of hew and cry would occur if a newspaper would host the work of a person that said that all Democrats were “slightly stupid” or excused the burning of Universities or Newspaper offices because they were “oppressive institutions.” Does anyone imagine that the hate of such a column would be so easily excused should it be as extremely from the right as Parvez’ work is from the left?
More to the point can you imagine the condemnation that would be visited on a newspaper that might have on their editorial board a columnist that comes from as far right as Parvez comes from the far left? There would be a cacophony like you’ve never heard before. For an example, imagine if Ann Coulter were to be hired for the editorial board of the New York Times. It would stir that kind of hatred on the left if an arch rightist would be placed on the editorial board of any national newspaper.
What ifs aside, it is sure that no one on the right would get nearly the same consideration and leeway that this extreme Seattle leftist gets. That is 100% sure.