Monday, June 30, 2008
The current administration has an unsurpassed record at not knowing who or what the enemy in the Great Global War on Terrorism might be. Why shouldn't it keep up its distinguished record?
This time around is a clone of the first. Way back when, We the People thought the goal of military operations was the destruction of al-Qaeda and its sort-of-state sponsor, the Taliban of Afghanistan. With a whoop and a hollar off we went (in horribly insufficient force) as the Great Posse of Justice to bring in Osama and company dead or alive.
Before the posse had done much more than rearrange some real estate in Afghanistan and allow the heavyweights of both "criminal" organisations to head south of the border down Pakistan way, the name of the enemy changed. It wasn't Osama anymore. The new blackest of the black was Saddam Hussein.
A larger posse was formed. The evildoer was toppled, hunted down, interrogated, tried and convicted. Hung. Case closed!
Not bloody likely!
Leaving aside several intervening years, events and deaths, a new villain emerged. Actually, the blackturban had been there all along. For some reason that is too arcane for the Geek to grasp, it suddenly served the current administration to (again) announce his existence.
Enter Iran, skulking with a centrifuge under each arm and an evil grin above the several day growth of beard.
The nuclear ambitions of the Islamic Republic as well as its support of anti-Baghdad and anti-US elements in Iraq to say nothing of its general record as a regional troublemaker are all good and sufficient reasons for the US (and others) to see the mullahocracy as a clear and present danger to both national interests and global tranquility.
Ignoring for now the window of engagement opportunity offered by the Tehran government in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq which was idiotically slammed in the beards of the mullahs by the neocon ninnies, suffice it to say that adding Iran to the mix of unfinished business in Iraq and Afghanistan was ill-advised. No. It was blatantly boneheaded!
Equally gripless was the current administration's continued pretense that Pakistan was a full and effective ally in the Great Global War on Terrorism. Coddling the Islamists in Islamabad, in the Pakistani military, in the Inter Services Intelligence was somewhere between counterproductive and suicidal.
The net result of the shift in "Main Enemies" from the Taliban/al-Qaeda crew in Afghanistan to the Baathists of Iraq, when coupled with the initial failure to put enough boots on the ground in Afghanistan and wilful, continued denial that elements of both the Pakistani National Forces and ISI were complicit with the fugitive blackturbans in the mountains of FATA, was the regrowth of Taliban, the continuation and strenghtening of al-Qaeda and the emergence of a Pakistani version of Taliban as the de facto government in much of the FATA. That's real success.
For a long damn time now anyone and everyone with enough sense to know rocks roll down hill has acknowledged that there was only one way to eliminate the leadership cadre of al-Qaeda and the restrengthened refugee Taliban.
No. Not armed Predators, useful as those machines are. No. Not a major cross-boarder operation by US or Afghan National Forces. Too high visibility. Too complex logistically.
Employment of US Special Operation Forces in conjunction with CIA "pilot personnel" and their local agents. This approach has been sanctioned by doctrine and used effectively for many, many years.
CIA and other components of the US intelligence community have had highly qualified assets with full linguistic and cultural competence on the ground in the Afghanistan-FATA area of operations. The local agents are in place and (usually) capable. An indication of the pervasiveness and locally presumed effectiveness of the penetration is provided by the periodic reports (and videos) of the blackturbans "executing a US spy."
The special operations forces exist to go on into the mountains and valleys of the FATA and do the job. We the People now know that the plan for doing this has existed for months. We also know that the plan has been disapproved by the current administration.
The ostensible reason for this disapproval is fear of possible negative repercussions should the Pakistani government become aware of what we are doing. Or that the Pakistani government would not authorise our actions.
Cut to Iran.
Seymour Hersh who has a long and reasonably distinguished record for investigative reporting in national security affairs has published an account of the US clandestine operations underway in Iran from a base in western Afghanistan. His account appears in the current New Yorker. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh/?yrail
American Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) assets have been and are being deployed into Iran with a view toward potentiating the efforts of "dissident" ethnic minorities and assisting in destabilising the mullahocracy. Congress has funded the effort to the tune of some four hundred megabucks.
In principle the Geek has no objections to making the mullahs' lives a tad more unpleasant. In practice, the way in which the current administration is seeking to go about the job is--being as kind as possible--wrongheaded.
The groups we are seeking to potentiate are neither reliable nor aligned with longer term US interests in Iran or the region. And, as history well demonstrates, simply funding private wars never brings much a positive national policy result.
Now, walk this through with your friendly tour guide, the Geekmo.
USSOCOM and CIA "pilots" are not numerous. The time and effort necessary to find, select and train such people is extensive. There just aren't that many of them--yesterday or today or tomorrow.
In short, you've got to use them where they will have the most effect, the most positive effect in the accomplishment of national goals. Informed assessments come together on one point.
Using our linguistically qualified, regionally experienced USSOCOM and intelligence personnel to clandestinely work in FATA is infinitely more likely to pay dividends than frittering them away on the neocon ninny ambition of "quiet" regime change in Iran.
It's way past time to get a grip on this reality. You have to focus on your enemy if you're going to defeat him.
Shifting targets means you miss them all.
Got that, Decider and Commander Guy?
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Brigadier General Mir-Faisal Baqerzadeh, the Head of the Foundation for the Remembrance of the Holy Defense (which is mullahs' equivalent of Graves Registration in the US Army), assures the worried families of future American KIA's in Iran that the remains will be handled respectfully and rapidly. He stated, "The burial of slain soldiers will be carried out decently and in little time."
Makes me feel heaps better. Bet it does the same for you.
Apparently expecting to slaughter US and allied forces in truly awesome numbers, the laddybucks of the Foundation for the Remembrance of the Holy Defense are digging no fewer than 320,000 graves--between fifteen and twenty thousand in each of the Islamic Republic's border provinces.
Guacamole! What a fine gesture! To say nothing of an excellent example of military delusions of adequacy.
Considering that even the most bloody battles fought by US forces during World War II saw KIA and died-of-wounds percentages of less than ten percent, the Iranians must be expecting the US ground operation to embody more than three million troops. That would be troops in contact with or near the line of contact with hostile forces.
It took the US nearly three years, a massive draft and the impetus of total war to put anywhere near that number of combat and combat support troops into the European Theater of Operations.
Do the Iranians really think they are worth that sort of attention?
Do the blustering folks of the Tehran regime and military believe that they are going to face a ground invasion?
If they do, it is time for them to get a grip.
Any effort against Iran will be limited to the air and sea. Ground forces, for whom the ever-so-solicitous brigadier has his people digging holes in the sand, will, perforce, be major non-participants.
An air campaign directed against as limited a target constellation as that comprising the Iranian nuclear effort will not be a pleasant flight with a tailwind both ways and air defenses shooting only chocolate bars. The assured reduction of the target will require exquisite planning and better execution with trans-strike damage assessment based on real-time intelligence and mid-flight retargetting.
The US can do that. If the decision is made. If the National Command Authority becomes convinced a nuisance abatement measure must be undertaken.
So, in high probability, can Israel. If the US provides the IFF for IAF aircraft overflying Iraq. If Turkey does the same. If the US provides intelligence particularly regarding Iranian air defenses. If the US provides electronic counter-measures and counter-counter measure support before, during and after the strike(s). If US combat air patrols provide cover during the insertion and exit portions of any Israeli strike.
A lot of ifs. Some of them are difficult. None are impossible.
Then there will be the Iranian reaction. It will come. No one should plan on the notion that the Iranian government or military will be so shocked and awed by airstrikes as to forgo the need for retaliation.
The direct Iranian capacity for retaliation by open military means hovers somewhere between nill and minimal. Consider the following exercise in pure bunkum from the Iranian Defense Minister. http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=61953§ionid=351020101.
PRESS TV quotes this brigadier, Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, as starting from the historical refuge of the militarily deficient power--celebrating the will and courage of the nation, the people of Iran and its military forces. Let's listen in--
Modern weapons are not the only defense criteria… The willpower and support of Iranians is very importantRight. And the Ghost Dance stops the white man's bullets. The "fury of the Francs" will overcome German machine guns.
And similar appeals to human willpower that ended dead on battlefields around the globe.
Now, take a good, hard look at this statement--
The Geek infers a uniquely Iranian calculus. The more nuclear weapons a country has, the weaker and more desperate it is.
Israel will not be able to match Iran's defensive capabilities and has therefore launched psyops against Tehran.
He was referring to recent reports indicating that Israel has launched a military maneuver over the Mediterranean to rehearse for an aerial strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Najjar added that Tel Aviv is a 'mass producer of weapons of mass destruction' and such reports only signal its 'weakness and desperation'
Then, brigadier Najjar, why does Iran want them? To become as "weak and desperate" as Israel? Russia? The Peoples Republic of China? The US?
The Geek is willing to grant that these latest examples of the Terrible Tehranian Temper Tantrum like all of their predecessors is directed at the domestic public. Even that they are directed at members of the Iranian armed forces.
The bragging and blustering may even be like the boast ritual of the Viking berserkers--an effort to develop and maintain courage on the eve of battle. To the Vikings, he who boasted most had to perform the best--even if he died in the process.
But, the Geek feels obliged to remind the guys at Braggadocio Central that one should never believe his own propaganda.
The daily warnings from Tehran have no inherent deterrent effect. The capacity to turn words to reality is not sufficient for that.
Iran can retaliate--and will. The retaliation will be indirect. It will come in the form of there hundred dollar a barrel oil. It will come as terrorist acts committed by proxies such as Hamas, Hezbollah and other, far more shadowy groups.
The retaliation will be unpleasant. Discommoding to all of us. It will forces changes on We the People far beyond those imposed by 9/11. It won't be pretty.
However, the Geek is of the view that, pretty or not, the changes imposed will not be all bad. Some will be good. Even very good for us a society, a polity, an economy.
Bet you don't believe the Geek. Do you?
Friday, June 27, 2008
"What?" You ask/exclaim.
One of the historical realities with on-the-ropes insurgent groups is the need to prove several things. All at once. Via high visibility attacks.
The first is the most obvious. The insurgents need to demonstrate that they still exist as credible forces with real bite left. This is the only way in which they can continue the absolutely central strategic task of demonstrating political will along with necessary collaterals including goosing up the flagging will of weakening supporters and hoping to strengthen the hand of those within the opposition who oppose a continuation of the counterinsurgency.
The second links closely with the first. By staging high profile attacks against predominantly non-military targets the blackhats hope to stir further war weariness among the uncommitted majority of the population which in turn will cause pressure on the government to end the fighting and dying.
The third is less a reason than a motive. By breaking things and killing people the insurgent leadership hopes to convince its own fighters that the fight is not lost. In short, to rebuild morale.
The recent spike in soft-target attacks by the Martyr Brigade reinforces the positive trajectories of other indicators regarding Iraq. The number of internal refugees is decreasing. Economic activity (of the legal sort) is increasing. Hostile initiated actions are decreasing. Baghdad's sway is growing.
The war isn't over by a long way and as commanders on the ground have noted, the increases of stability are tentative and fragile. This is what the insurgents hope to prove with the latest round of attacks: the stability is too fragile to continue.
Given that some of the insurgent leadership is anything but unaware of American domestic politics and considering that the external sponsor of at least some of the blackturbans (Iran, for those of you that like it spelled out) is quite au courant on US politics and politicians, it is not out of the question that there is some (realistic) hope that Iraq and the "failure" of the US in that country will resurface on the political scene. That reasoning is almost self-evident.
The question is not so much "if" but "when." When will enough coverage of enough suicide bombings stimulate the usual suspects in Congress and elsewhere to pronounce that the war has once more come a cropper and the only thing left for the US to do is put the troops on homeward bound flights.
Until at least some of the customary hand-wringers start the wail of "out now" the Geek is willing to bet hair that the bombings will continue. Ironically, Iraq is an example of a place and time where "news" is a powerful indicator of good policy results.
The msm have been unaccountably silent on a place where bad policy results are evident. The place is Syria. Well, to err on the side of accuracy the place is Lebanon-Syria.
Iran has been playing a crafty game with respect to its junior partner, Syria, as well as its more-or-less client, Hezbollah. Syria acting on both its own account and in tandem with Iran has maintained its military presence within Lebanon, rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding.
There can be no disagreement with the contention that Syria has maintained and reinforced its ground combat units in Lebanon. Janes, the defense oriented British publisher, has the pictures to prove it. This link is to the Mideast Times which is free. Janes is pricey. http://www.metimes.com/International/2008/06/27/special_report_satellite_imagery_confirms_syrian_troops_in_lebanon/5047/1355~1214586002~1/
(It would be worth taking a walk around GoogleEarth to see if you can get the Janes' results. That's too much effort for the Geek.)
If Janes, using commercial satellite imagery, is able to find the Syrian Army facility, it is safe to assume that the US, Israel and other operators of advanced overhead systems are also aware that Damascus has been much less than forthcoming concerning its presence in and ambitions toward Lebanon.
It is an exercise in futility to debate whether the Syrians are in Lebanon as a counterweight to or a reinforcement of Hezbollah. Either way Syria stands ready, and in a good position, to pick up the chips if the once-upon-a-long-ago-time prosperous little region called Lebanon again dissolves into sectarian/political exsanguination.
It also gives Bashir Assad a nice bargaining chip in the off-chance that the US and/or Israel gets an attack of the serious regarding peace and prying Syria away from the Tehran orbit. There are several good reasons for the US to get off the neocon ninny deadstick of pretending Syria is too foul to talk with openly and candidly.
One reason is Iran. Is it in the better long-term interests of either the US or Israel or the region as a whole to allow, let alone invite, the unpleasant mullahocracy to establish a presence in Syria? A presence that once fully established will be harder to uproot than was that of the Soviet Union in Egypt.
It should be remembered that the building blown up first by the IAF and then by Syrian engineers was not a large indoor tennis court facility. Neither was it built with North Korean money. Follow the money. It leads to Tehran. Follow the interests in play. They lead to Tehran.
The second reason is Hezbollah. With outside backing from Tehran, Hezbollah has effectively taken over the government of Lebanon. It has also become the Iranian proxy director for another outpost of the mullahocracy. Hamas.
Hamas is a fact. An odious fact. It will not become less so unless and until its tie with Iran through Hezbollah is broken.
That is not the only reason that Hezbollah must be reduced in potency. It is a regional threat. Not simply a threat to Israel, but to Arab states. It should be noted that the Hezbollah Wallah In Charge of Foreign Affairs recently and not at all subtly threatened the life of the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon. Stop and consider the total lack of love lost between Iran and the House of Saud.
US policy toward Syria has been, charitably, bad. It may be too late for the current administration to mend its ways, but the next one had better take a long hard look at it.
Finally there is the matter of "worse." The name of the game is Afghanistan. Not to overstate the matter, Taliban is on a roll. A roll up victory hill.
It's not simply a matter of the friendly body count hitting a post-invasion peak. The problem is greater. Taliban is expanding its reach of operations into the eastern part of the country even as US, NATO and Afghan National Forces have penetrated successfully into southern and western regions previously dominated by Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The reasons for the great resurgence of Taliban are two. The first has been apparent since the failure of US forces in Tora Bora back in March 2002. Not enough boots on the ground.
The second reason has a name. Pakistan. As SecDef Gates noted pointedly yesterday, Pakistan has been (to put it as kindly as possible) deficient in its efforts to control the border areas--the FATA-- which provide ready hospitality and sanctuary to Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Of course there is a motive for the dilatory conduct of the Pakistani government both past and present. Islamists run the show. Not only are Islamists politically potent and willing to kill in pursuit of their political goals, the Army and intelligence service are riddled with them.
As there is no chance that the Pakistani government will take effective action to either control FATA or purge the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Islamists, there is little chance that Taliban and al-Qaeda will be looking for new quarters in the near future.
US policy with Pakistan has failed. The course of the "good" war in Afghanistan is not looking favorable. Since it is impossible to raise the bridge, we will have to lower the water.
This means that the current and next administration, with or without the help of NATO, will have to find the will and the means to put more boots on the ground. We will have to take the same risk of increasing the number of US personnel in body bags that we did in Iraq if we are going to retrieve the situation in Afghanistan.
Not pleasant. Not pleasant at all. But, as in Iraq, defeat is much, much worse.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
(For the whole deal you can take a look at, http://www2.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-24/0806254400112829.htm or the Fars News Agency (assuming you want to keep with the Iranian perspective at http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=8704050745 or from the folks at CNN there is, http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/06/25/iran.nuclear/)
The most recent blather is fired by Majlis Speaker (and former nuclear negotiator) Ali Larijani. His salvo of dire predictions included an echo of International Atomic Energy Authority chief Mohammed AlBaredi's warning that a military strike on the Iranian nuclear facilities would ignite a "ball of fire."
The hardline opponent of the current Orator-in-Chief went on with a dire warning. "There is little chance for interaction. You have reached the final minutes of your defeated game."
There are problems galore in the US, in the West, but they ain't nothing compared to what you and your fellows in Tehran are facing. (In case these have eluded your keen eye, Speaker Larijani, they include hyper-inflation, negative growth, capital flight and an ever escalating unemployment rate.)
None of these difficulties will be solved by the new round of enhanced sanctions imposed by the European Union. Perhaps you know that Mr Larijani. Or, perhaps, like your political foe, Ahmendinejad, you think the Hidden Imam or the upcoming Mahdi will pull your collective nuts out of the fire of your making.
Consider this fine piece of thinking--
Larijani also criticized big powers for sending a package of proposals to Iran on one hand and imposing new financial restrictions against the country, on the other.Well, duh, maybe because the Iranian response to the P5+1 proposals reeked of taqiyya to say nothing of the fine old game of stall, stall, stall. Keep 'em talking while we keep our centrifuges spinning.
"If you are willing to hold talks with Iran over the proposed package then why you have adopted a confrontational approach before the package was studied."
Speaker, it is simple. Even an ideologue such as yourself ought to be able to get a grip on this reality: If you don't grab at the carrot, you're going to get a bash from the stick.
The Speaker offered the Iranian version of carrot-and-stick. After nearly breaking his arm patting his back for the Iranian proposal to have wide ranging (that is to say completely unfocused) discussions on a lengthy list of issues, Larijani grabbed the stick. Waved it,
"Do not add to the cost you should pay with making wrong assessments." Or so IRNA quoted the Speaker. A few moments later, Larijani clarified his meaning. "You know that your wrong strategies in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan have borne not fruit, but hatred. The little chance for interaction with Iran requires rational and constructive signs."
Let's examine that statement for a second. The mullahocracy, as Larijani damn well knows, supported the US led take-down of Taliban. The mullahocracy, again as Larijana must personally remember, reacted to the US invasion of Iraq with an outreached hand proposing talks, cooperation and other goodies. He also must know from personal experience that the mullahs ordered a (temporary perhaps) stand-down of the nuclear weapons program as noted by the National Intelligence Estimate released late last year.
That leaves Lebanon. Considering that the primary mixers and troublemakers in that long unsettled country are Iran's good buddy, Syria, and client, Hezbollah, the question of success or failure, love or hatred can't be answered in the US or the EU but only in Tehran.
The US and Western view of Iran's nuclear ambitions has been "rational and constructive." The combinations of sanctions and offered inducements have been "rational and constructive."
The problem does not rest with the West, with the US, with the EU, or even with Israel. The problem comes with Iran. With Iran's actions. With Iran's rhetoric. With Iran's policies.
None of these are both "rational and constructive." All are, in the words of an early giant of the Cold War, George Kennan, "primitive and unconstructive."
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
In short, it means to lie.
Taqiyya is not only permissible, it is both obligatory and laudable when used to defend Islam or Muslims against non-believers. Lying joins killing on the list of Islam approved behaviors--provided the target is an infidel.
Shia Islam takes taqiyya a step further. As Shia has long been (or at least seen itself as) a persecuted minority within the larger Muslim community, the use of taqiyya against Sunnis is justified by the needs of the faith.
The Geek apologises for being so professorial. The reason for this step-by-step foundation laying will be obvious in just one moment.
Taqiyya is the reason that Iranian protestations of nuclear innocence must raise more than an eyebrow of disbelief. The Tehran assertions must be rejected as the taqiyya they are.
The latest proof, if any is needed that the Iranians are lying through their beards when they say, "All we want is a few nuclear kilowatts," comes from the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, writing in today's International Herald Tribune. (http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/06/24/opinion/edmiliband.php)
Miliband reminds us that the West, specifically the P5+1 (or as he puts it diplomatically, the E3 plus 3) two years ago offered the Iranians a very sweet deal that would have met their expressed desire for nuclear electrical generation capacity while assuring that no bomb would be made as a "byproduct."
The mullahocracy rejected the proposal.
The latest P5+1 offering is a slightly improved version of the one of two years ago. The apparent hope of the diplomats behind the offer was that the economic and social degradation suffered by Iran over the past two years coupled with the promise of more sanctions, more rigorously imposed and enforced, would make the deal more attractive.
The response from all levels of the Tehran regime has been more taqiyya administered with slightly more bluster than before.
Wow! That was sure a hard one to predict.
In case anyone is unclear as to what the P5+1 offered (as some who post on the most "progressive" blog sites apparently are), here is Miliband's (quite accurate and succinct) outline.
Our aim is clear: We simply want to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It is not regime change in Tehran. The new deal is also clear. It includes specific proposals to assist Iran to acquire everything it needs for a modern nuclear power industry, including technological and financial assistance, legally binding fuel supply guarantees and cooperation on radioactive waste.Objectively, this is a good offer. Hard to improve on. Lacks only one little detail--
It also includes an offer from all E3+3 foreign ministers - which includes the United States - to sit down and talk if Iran suspends its nuclear enrichment activities. And it covers a long list of other potential benefits, from greatly improved political contacts and cooperation to steps towards normalizing trade, economic and energy relations, and agricultural, aviation and development assistance.
And, get a grip on this: Nuclear weapons are what the Iranian regime wants. Period.
It doesn't matter if the economy goes further down the tubes. If more capital flees the Shia Paradise. It doesn't matter if unemployment and its inevitable companion--internal turbulence--continues to climb.
The regime believes that it can buy enough time to get the Big Bang it so feverishly has worked, schemed and sacrificed to obtain. Buy enough time economically through evading the sanctions. Buy enough time by exploiting the cash flow from not only oil but the remittances of expat workers and Iranian owned companies. Oliver Gutta gives a very good assessment of this in http://www.metimes.com/International/2008/06/23/_irans_ability_to_avoid_sanctions/6180/.
Internally, the regime is relying on its security forces to keep enough of a lid on the internal dissent to maintain stability. True, the local cops may ignore crime as illustrated in this piece( http://www.metimes.com/International/2008/06/23/iran_revealed_tehrans_taxi_driver_bandits/9755/
But, the ever vigilant eye of the state won't overlook a woman wearing Western clothing or a man with a "Western" haircut (whatever that means.) There are more than a few stories on this, one will do. http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/06/16/mideast/16dresscode.php.
By focusing on these so called "Western" subversions, the regime can accomplish a pair of linked goals. Provide an out-group suitable for public hating (a favorite of all autocratic regimes under threat.) Reinforce the notion that Iran is surrounded and constantly under threat. (So quit your unpatriotic bitching about unavailable/unaffordable food or insufficient pay or no job in sight.)
At the same time the regime hopes to buy time internationally by using the time honored techniques of taqiyya. The mullahocracy did not reject the P5+1 offer--exactly. Neither did they accept it.
They used a variation of Trotsky's approach to the Germans during the early days of the Bolshevik Revolution--neither peace nor war. No treaty but no fighting.
The Tehran regime assured the world that it would respond to the offer in the fullness of time. The regime allowed as how further discussions might be possible within the context of larger issues such as the absurd package of unlinked items it presented to the EU a few weeks back.
At the same time the mullahs and their talking heads in government stated categorically that ending the enrichment program was unacceptable.
The combination might be just enough artful deception, evasion and deeply shaded truth to give hope to those who want peaceful pastures instead of looming fields of mushroom clouds. A characterisation that fits most of us in the West.
Buy time. If the Iranians can buy a little time, they can hope for a change in US policy. The emergence of a more accommodating American administration. We must remember that in the view from Tehran, the US is the Main Enemy (to use old Soviet terminology.) A less hostile US could well mean that the rest of the P5+1 would be even more irresolute than they have been to date. http://www2.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-24/0806241487192839.htm
Buy time. If the Iranians can buy a little more time, they can hope to gain one of the seats on the UN Security Council that is up for a vote in the General Assembly shortly before the US elections. By having a voice on the "inside" the mullahs can reasonably hope to cause a decent case of havoc in the Council.
By time. If the Iranians can buy enough time, they will finish enough of their centrifuge cascade array to actually enrich uranium to the level necessary for a bomb. At that point the mullahs calculate they will effectively neutralise through deterrence any potential existential threat to the country.
Or, perhaps the mullahocracy has more spacious ambitions than merely deterring an existential threat. The world will know the answer to that when--and if--the Iranians crank out sufficient highly enriched uranium or separate and concentrate enough plutonium for a few bombs.
One thing we can be damn sure of though is any protestations of peaceful intent is simply another big dose of taqiyya.
Monday, June 23, 2008
The meeting, as has been previously noted, took place in Uganda. Among the subjects considered, as posted yesterday, was a plea by a coalition of Islamic human rights groups to the effect that the OIC could not continue to be silent in the face of the "killing and suffering" of "millions of Muslims" at the hands of "Black Africans." The coalition was disingenuous in its characterisation of events in the Darfur region of the Sudan.
Sudan is a majority Muslim country with approximately seventy percent of its population being Sunni. These are primarily concentrated in the north. The minuscule Christian population is found in or near the capitol of Kharthoum. Darfur is populated by a mixture of "indigenous" faith subscribers and Muslims.
It is not a surprise that the OIC ignored the human rights coalition's plea. The Sudanese government, which includes Muslims and non-Muslims alike, is sufficiently Islamic to fall under the protective blind eye which the OIC and its members routinely turns toward violence which is strictly or predominantly Muslim-on-Muslim.
The OIC passed a resolution on Sudan. It called for negotiations (yawn) and pointed the Flying Middle Finger of Blame at one rebel group and "outsiders" seeking to put pressure on the Sudanese government. http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=/ForeignBureaus/archive/200806/FOR20080623b.html.
As far as the OIC is concerned, Sudan goes in the same category as Somalia. Let Muslim kill or displace Muslim and Allah will sort it all out in the end. We at the OIC have more important matters to handle.
More important than states foundering in waves of blood?
There's those cartoons. Those damn Danes and their Freedom of Speech Fetish.
Well, considering facts, something that the OIC does only when it is in the interests of Islam, the Danish court's finding is correct. Not that this minor consideration slowed down the Islamic group.
A spokesman of the OIC Observatory on Islamophobia today in a statement expressed disappointment and dismay at the decision of the Western High Court of Aarhus in Denmark that the publishing of offensive cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005 and reprinted earlier this year by 17 other Danish newspapers was not illegal under Danish law on the ground that terror acts were carried out in the name of Islam.
The spokesman reiterated the principled position of the OIC and that of the OIC member states that terrorism had no connection with Islam or with any other religion and that its proponents were the common enemy of entire international community , He added that the linkage drawn by the Danish Court between Islam with terror to legalize the printing of the offensive cartoons and causing widespread insult to the sentiments of the Muslims was most unfortunate and that it could create a precedent for exacerbation of Islamophobia.Crank up the old noise machine, please. But, while you are at it, would you be so kind as to explain why the OIC has no difficulty finding Islam compatible with the eternal exsanguinations in Somalia and Sudan?
Speaking of "principled" positions, consider the other truly awesome example of arrogance, of delusions of adequacy coming out of the ole OIC. Unfortunately this aspect of the recently concluded meeting has been overlooked by the msm.
It shouldn't be. (The matter hasn't been ignored by some web newsletters. You can see, for example, http://www.crosswalk.com/news/11577911/ or for a little fuller coverage and more quotes there is Cyber News Service at, http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=/ForeignBureaus/archive/200806/FOR20080623a.html
It is an indicator of the shape of international politics to come. The OIC is demanding that any restructuring of the UN Security Council done in a way which does not take into full and effective account the fact that Muslims constitute one fifth of the human race will be opposed. There are several plans being mooted about for the reconstitution of the Security Council, but none currently provide for the maximal Muslim goal.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said this month that Islamic countries must secure a permanent seat on the UN Security Council because “the Islamic world has been deprived of the power to defend itself."
It seems that Iran has been doing a darn good job of "defending" itself against the Security Council in the contest over its uranium enrichment program. Other Islamic countries such as pre-2003 Iraq and pre-2002 Afghanistan have also done very well in the defend-against-the-Security-Council game.
Just last week, during the same time frame as the OIC was cranking up its bitch over not being adequately represented in the Security Council (despite the fact that Islamic countries get their shot at being elected to the reserved regional seats for the Mideast and Asia) the representatives of Egypt, Iran and Pakistan made a travesty out of the UN Human Rights Council meeting as they pressured the Council's president into issuing a gag order preventing all critical mention of sharia. This was defense of a sort. An objectionable sort.
The Geek has long been of the view that some sort of restructuring of the Security Council might well be in order. While not particularly enamored of any of the currently mooted plans, he is happy that discussion is open.
A discussion would be unacceptable that contains either a dilution of the current veto power held by the five permanent members (such as would be the case by adding a Muslim veto) or an ending the right of veto held by the five.
It is not that the Geek is notably Islamophobic. He is equally opposed to admitting India or for that matter Germany or Japan to the Veto Wielders' Club. Nor is the Geek unaware of how often and how counterproductively the veto has been employed to block arguably collective interests in order to serve the agenda of a single permanent member.
On the whole the five permanent members use of the veto has been functional. Barely so on occasion, but still functional. It has forced not only the more effective building of coalitions and even consensus, it has also provided for the effective explorations of alternatives which might otherwise have been left unknown territory.
The US might well consider the relative importance of the UN to it and it to the UN. Way back in the beginning, back in San Francisco over sixty years ago, a number of small countries protested the Great Power veto. The US representative ostentatiously ripped a copy of the UN Charter in half. It was a clear message. The world could have a UN with the Great Power veto intact--or it could learn to live without a UN.
The choice was clear. It was made. Correctly.
In the course of the next administration we may well be faced with the same choice. It must be made clearly. And correctly.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
This time it's not about the plight of the besieged inhabitants of the Gaza Strip. No siree. Not this time. Nor are they perturbed about the poor Iraqis groaning under the heel of the American occupation. Nope. Not this time.
The coalition demanded that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference meeting in Kampala, Uganda DO SOMETHING about the "killings and sufferings of millions of Muslims in Darfur." The combined human rights groups stated, according to AFP, "The Islamic world must decide to end its wall of silence, before it is too late ... More silence could be catastrophic on the Islamic community." http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hRaXY64EALx_dgu0xU9_4KIfpiqw
The Geek acknowledges that life in the Darfur region of Sudan is unpleasant and dangerous to the max. He does not take exception with the dire warnings of an impending food crisis for the region brought about by the combination of violence and the rise of global food prices. Several sites give this coverage. http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/RMOI-7FUKY2?OpenDocument. Or for a less agenda driven view but one which has an African slant, http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnMCD255717.html. Or, a little less subjective there is, http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/06/22/africa/AF-GEN-Sudan-Darfur.php
Get a grip on this. The human rights coalition is disturbed so mightily because, as in the case of the Gaza Strip and (in their view) Iraq, the "killing and suffering" of Muslims is at the hands of non-Muslims. In Darfur, as the Muslim human rights wallahs make clear, the villain is the Black government of Sudan. A non-Islamic bunch to be sure.
The "killing and suffering" of Muslims as the result of presumed or actual non-Muslim actions is apparently completely reprehensible to these exemplars of human rights concerns.
They are unbothered by the killing and suffering of Muslims as a result of Muslim actions.
Witness the coalitions complete silence on matters in neighboring Somalia. Somalia is Islamic, specifically Sunni Muslim. It is (or at least has been) a member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Somalia is in the middle of a war even longer and bloodier than the one going on in Darfur. Starvation is just as rampant--if not more so.
Uganda (remember that is where the OIC is currently meeting and where the human rights coalition made their plea regarding Darfur) has furnished a couple of thousand troops for the failed African Union peacekeeping force. Ugandan troops were found a month ago to have furnished guns and other weapons to their coreligionists, members of the Islamist hardline entity, the Council of Islamic Courts, which is the heart and soul of the internal war.
The CIC partisans and others of an equally hardline stripe, no less than the non-Muslim Ethiopian "peacekeepers" supporting the Transitional National Authority, have been up to their beards in atrocities and unjustifiable killings. While Islamic governments have been front and center at denouncing the Ethiopians, silence has reigned regarding the similar conduct of Muslim Ugandans. The worthies of the Islamic states have also been silent regarding the documentable charges of Ugandan arms sales to the OIC and affiliated crews.
The UN Security Council has answered the request of the African Union to take over the peacekeeping functions in Somalia with a reluctant, "Yes." Considering the history of the last UN attempt at peacekeeping and humanitarian relief back in the early Nineties, the reluctance is quite understandable.
The UN peacekeepers, who just celebrated their Sixtieth Anniversary among a welter of charges regarding sexual abuse by blue beret wearing personnel in numerous countries, are already overstretched, poorly coordinated, badly supported and officered by what seem all too often to be the most rank of amateurs. Contingents from some 120 member states are to be found within the many operations currently being conducted by the UN.
It will be awhile, maybe a long while, before an effective (or, more likely, an ineffective) UN presence will appear on the ground in Somalia. Be that as it may, the Islamists are wasting no time.
The AP reports (http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gKOtmEruZ32U-yU3e-6meqQNf7LwD91FAPN80) that a video purportedly from al-Qaeda has been posted on the web. It calls for Muslims, particularly those in Somalia, to resist any UN peacekeeping force. Presumably such resistance will be no more considerate of civilian non-combatants caught in the midst of battle or ambush then has been the case to date.
Where are the Muslim human rights advocates on this one? Where is the OIC?
They are too busy condemning Danish cartoons, Dutch videos, Israeli defensive actions, or the presence of Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to be bothered by Muslim-on-Muslim "killing and suffering." Not even the usual rhetorical denunciations of violence were invoked this time.
As far as the coalition of "human rights" advocates is concerned, the only humans whose rights matter are Muslims.
And, then, only if those rights are threatened by non-Muslims.
Events went the second way as Morgan Tsvangirai showed discretion is better than heroism.
More importantly, the course of the past two months in Zimbabwe demonstrated once again that democracy is more, much more than the mere casting of ballots. To be real, a democratic country must be under a regime that is willing to accept the peaceful transition of power from the incumbent to the opposition.
As in other nations, African included, the obscene behavior of Robert Mugabe shows that the country he has driven to bankruptcy, starvation, mass emigration and episodic violence is not one which meets the single, basic criterion for democracy. Mugabe states that "God" placed him in power and only the deity can remove him.
Kind of a strange perversion of the ancient Latin cliche, "Vox populi. Vox dei."
The collapse of even the thin charade of democracy in Zimbabwe under the boots of Mugabe's Patriotic League of Thugs and Terrorists raises another question. One that is of supreme import for the countries bordering Zimbabwe. All of which at least pretend to be democratic republics.
What are they going to do about the dictator in their midst?
Admittedly, Mugabe has long enjoyed a high level of prestige among the sub-Saharan African population for his leadership of the long insurgency against the White minority regime of Rhodesia following Ian Smith's 1965 Unilateral Declaration of Independence. The resulting war was very long, very nasty and ultimately won by the insurgents through the progressive reduction of the White population and government's political will and material capacity to continue the war.
Importantly, the Black majority forces did not win because of any particular political or military brilliance on the part of Mugabe. He was a factor in the Black success, but only one among many. Other factors including the economic sanctions imposed by the Commonwealth, European and North American nations were more important. Also more important than Mugabe was the constant and ready support offered by surrounding states.
Mugabe was a hero by convention only. His personal contribution to the toppling of the White minority government was (and is) greatly magnified.
Mugabe's actions of recent years have been minimalised by the very same people and governments which have boosted his reputation as the Hero of the Liberation. Starting with the politically popular but economically and nationally self-destructive act of "redistributing" land owned and operated to the national advantage by White farmers, and continuing through the years of systematic repression of any emergent opposition or even criticism, Mugabe seemed to have been bent upon two interlocking goals: maintaining his personal power and status, destroying Zimbabwe.
He has succeeded in both as of today. He is in power. He is the paramount chief. And, Zimbabwe is a complete wreck. A collapsing state filled with corpses, starvation and hopelessness.
When are the other folks in the neighborhood going to notice? When will the governments of South Africa, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana individually or collectively say, "Enough is enough!"
Zambia had "free and fair" elections two years ago. Or so says the CIA which the Geek has found generally reliable on such matters. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/za.html
South Africa, which has borne much of the violence and economic meltdown refugee flood, is widely hailed as a pillar of democracy. It's chief of state, Thabo Mbeki, has been heavily and ineffectually involved in trying to broker an end to the chaos in Zimbabwe. Is it not time for South Africa to take the gloves off and let the aged autocrat next door know that the time for graceful retirement is now?
Mozambique underwent what CIA terms "a delicate transition" in December 2004 which allowed the country to continue sound economic policies and keep on rebuilding a nation shattered by decades of insurgency. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mz.html President Guebuza should think long and hard about the impact of a continuation of the refugee flow from Zimbabwe as well as his country's diplomatic leverage.
As much as South Africa and much more than Zambia, Mozambique has the leverage necessary to put a convincing argument before Mugabe that he should step down. Move out of the way before the turbulence in Zimbabwe endangers the neighbors even more than it has already.
It would be naive in the extreme to expect the African Union to exercise a constructive role in the Zimbabwe chaos considering that organisation's record to date with failing states across the continent. The African Union, not unlike its nomenclatural predecessor the Organisation of African States, is long on slogans, demands against the West and glitzy top-dollar diplomatic extravaganzas.
The AU, like the OAS, is very short on positive results for all its rhetoric, demands and heads-of-state meeting in upscale conflabs.
What about the United Nations? Secretary of State Rice has stated the US intends to put the implosion of Zimbabwe on the UN Security Council Agenda next week. Her demarche has already been overtaken by events. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/7601194
United States, which is this month's president of the Security Council, has accused Mugabe of turning Zimbabwe into a failed state that threatens its residents and the stability of southern Africa.
When asked whether she thought the United Nations was prepared to go beyond passing a resolution on Zimbabwe, Rice said, "We believe that unless the Security Council acts, it stands to lose credibility."
Mugabe has already spent weeks (well, years actually) blaming all of his country's problems on the "colonial" powers in which he (no surprise here) includes the United States along with the United Kingdom. It's no stretch to add France to the list of offenders.
It must be remembered that both Russia and China tend to oppose the Security Council mixing itself up in what might be seen as the domestic political problems of any member state. The reasons are obvious. Russia and China face violent internal political unrest.
South Africa also opposes the Security Council move. Rightly. The neighbors, members of the SADC, have been complicit in the collapse of Zimbabwe. The same neighbors have the duty--and the self-interest involvement--to end the chaos and restore at least a semblance of democratic order.
Starvation is a part of life for millions of people in Zimbabwe. Mugabe has made that fact come into existence. Starving people are desperate people.
You don't need a PhD to figure that one out.
The borders of the neighborhood are porous. At best. In order to protect themselves, their less than robust governments, economies, societies, neighboring countries--South Africa and Mozambique in particular--have to intervene with diplomacy, aid and, if all else fails, force.
Mugabe has said that only God will remove him from power. He might consider that God can have many faces and take many forms.
Friday, June 20, 2008
The cause of this latest invocation of the sacrosanct nature of a feature of Islam?
Two human rights groups wanted to remark on the incompatibility of sharia with the human rights of women.
This was enough to outrage the Egyptian. And the Pakistani. And the Iranian.
These men of such self-evidently gentle and fragile sensibilities are not bothered by violence directed against women--provided the violence, the stonings, the "honor killings," the domestic beatings, the spousal rape are in keeping with sharia.
The donnybrook which provoked the gag order is well covered on the following sites. Check them out. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008%5C06%5C19%5Cstory_19-6-2008_pg7_6; http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/021461.php or from the folks who started it, http://www.iheu.org/node/3192
You might recall that a Pakistani National Assembly member has called for some sort of international death penalty for the hideous offense of mocking Mohammad. The Pakistani ambassadors have made threatening statements in both Denmark and Norway. The Pakistani government has sent a high level delegation to lean on the European Union. (All of these were covered in recent previous posts.)
Pakistan has now shown its commitment to protecting Islam by actually sentencing a man to death for blasphemy. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/06/18/asia/AS-GEN-Pakistan-Blasphemy.php. Gotta be careful about dissin' the Prophet in Pak Land.
The Egyptian represents a country which is so given to assuring respect for all religions that the bookstores in Cairo and elsewhere are filled with the most vile anti-Judaism the perverted mind can create. (Again as explicated in a previous post.)
Affairs are so rotten at the old Human Rights Council that the outgoing Human Rights Commissioner, Louise Arbour (a former Canadian judge), warned that the actions of the Council threaten the "right of free expression." http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/06/18/asia/AS-GEN-Pakistan-Blasphemy.php While the Arbour comment didn't get much traction in the msm it got some overseas. http://in.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idINL1856437520080618?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true.
How right the lady is!
She could have gone much further though. She could have reminded the world--and the Islamists--that the term "human" applies to all of us homo sapiens, female as well as male, non-Muslim as well as Muslim. She could have reminded the overly sensitive folks in Egypt, or Iran, or Pakistan, or even at the Organization of the Islamic Conference, that there are basic rights that have not only been recognised by various UN covenants but have been accepted generally by the human race--outside of Islamists and other backward looking, fearful sorts.
It is absolutely wrong and completely unjustifiable to kill, genitally mutilate or beat women.
It is absolutely wrong and completely unjustifiable to commit suicide bombings of civilian targets.
Or, to slit the throats of journalists and others with whom you take exception.
Or, to stifle full, free and open inquiry, thought and expression.
If a conflict exists between the words of sharia and the rights of all humans--humans trump sharia each and every time.
The question was raised a few days ago by a comment in one of the early Reuters articles covering the defeat in Ireland of the proposed amendments to the European Union's organic document. It was the most insightful comment encountered as the Geek has tried to keep up with the flood following the triumph of the "No's."
The forty-six year old woman said, (as far as the Geek can remember--he keeps berating himself for not having saved the link and now can't find it) "We have government enough as it is. Why would we want another layer?"
The quick answer is this. "Because the several interlocking elites of politics, business, academia, and journalism think it would be good for you."
Usually the Geek is sceptical of quick or easy answers to hard questions, but in this case he is more than willing to make an exception. His exception is based on the reactions given by the chattering classes of Europe and elsewhere to the voice of the Irish public.
The UK is home to a very interesting newsletter called Spiked. In American terms its editorial line might best be characterised as "left wing libertarian." If one wants to be spared the task of clicking though innumerable British, Irish and European sites, take a quick run over to Spiked for this week. Frank Furedi's piece is an excellent summary of the state of rhetorical play since the referendum. http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/earticle/5347/
Giving an additional emphasis to the fear and loathing of ordinary people felt so deeply by members of the several elites subsumed under the "chattering class" rubric is a fine view by an expat Irishman. http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/earticle/5348/.
Underscoring the utter contempt for the "no" voting Irish citizens is a third story. This one is by a teacher of political science and government living in London with the suspiciously Irish name of Kevin Rooney. http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/earticle/5349/.
It is telling that Ireland alone out of the twenty-seven countries comprising the EU put the matter to the decision of the public rather than leaving it in the far more manageable hands of the local parliament. More telling is the total refusal of governments to stop and give due regard to what might undergird the Irish rejection.
The governments, the leaders including those of France, the UK and Germany as well as the business, media and academic establishments from the edge of the Irish Sea eastward have excoriated the Irish as a collection of brain dead, xenophobic, reactionary, provincial cretins who are not only short-sighted and fear-ridden but also ungrateful. The name-callers are all, in principle at least, committed to the notion of democracy. They--leaders, governments, pundits, professors and business wallahs--profess to believe fully that the will of the people is supreme.
Yeah. Right. Sure they do.
Of course for the Eurocrats and other High Minded Internationalists, the Irish defeat is a replay on a much smaller scale of what happened in 2005. Back then it was the uneducated, xenophobic, reactionary, fearmongering, provincial populations of France and the Netherlands who voted "no" to the EU's new constitution.
The Eurocrats and other High Minded Internationalists went back to work and regenerated the defeated constitution as a series of amendments. The Geek has read a (small) portion of the nearly three hundred pages of nearly opaque bureaucratise (OK, the Geekmo admits that he is a masochist--but a limited one.) The damn thing made no sense at all.
Except in one major area.
Simple. With the amendments the European Union would look, act and in most salient respects become a supra-national government.
That was what made the Irish woman's comment so trenchant. The amended constitution would impose another level of government on the heads and shoulders of the already (arguably) over-governed population.
The strongest defense offered on behalf of the amendments and the new structures they would call into existence is taken straight from Jeremy Bentham. The EU would be better able to provide "the greatest good for the greatest number."
Wow! Sounds wonderful. "The greatest good for the greatest number."
Who could be against that?
No one. At least in principle.
Until the critical question is posed.
Who decides? That's the key question. That's the weak point of Utilitarianism. That's the frail center of the argument advanced by the Eurocrats in favor of the new constitution.
That question also lets everyone know why the several interlocking elites of politics, business, academia and media so strongly support not only the centralising of power in the EU but do so everywhere.
Elites of whatsoever nature are in the power game. Every elite regardless of its specific type--monetary, intellectual, religious--is a political entity, seeking the maintenance and aggregation of power over those people who are non-elite.
Elites pursue power by asserting that they have the key to achieving the "greatest good for the greatest number." Often, even nearly always, the key seems to be one of limiting the indivdual's right to decide, to choose, to risk, to be autonomous. To be free.
To put it simply the elites--those who have their meaty fists around the levers of power and influence--do not trust, do not like and frankly often resent the presence of the hoi polloi. (Unless, of course, the common herd merely hears and obeys the desires of the Older and Wiser, the Best and the Brightest.)
And why shouldn't we listen and heed? After all, the elite is richer than the rest of us. It's better educated than the rest of us. Has access to airwaves and print that the rest of us lack. It's even been democratically elected by the rest of us.
Why shouldn't we hear and obey? The movers, shakers, power brokers and opinion molders have our best interests at heart. They know what is the greatest good. They know who is the greatest number.
Why shouldn't we dumbly submit to our betters?
The Irish woman knew why. Her statement--and her question is one we should all ponder. Wherever we live.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
In past years the Geek wouldn't have done more than briefly glance at the festivities. For most of the OIC's thirty plus previous meetings that was all he did. Glance, yawn, perhaps chortle at a particularly stupid comment.
Since the OIC and many of its member nations to say nothing of Islamic activists and their non-Muslim apologists have invented the thought-crime they term "Islamophobia," the Geek has paid much attention to the sophistries of the OIC regarding "responsible free speech."
Let's listen in to the SecGen courtesy of http://www.oic-oci.org/oicnew/topic_detail.asp?t_id=1144. We join the speech already in progress.
Honourable Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, In face of the adverse and mounting phenomenon of Islamophobia in the West, we placed this issue at the top of our priorities and preoccupations, while conducting a large-scale world-wide effort to confront it at four levels: First: The official level of countries and governments of the West, where this phenomenon is rampant and wide-spread. We have exhorted the officials in these countries to assume their inherent legal responsibilities in order to stem this illegal trend in conformity with international and domestic laws which prohibit discrimination based on incitement to hatred towards individuals or groups because of their religion, race, or other grounds. Second: The level of major international organizations, such as the United Nations General Assembly in New York or the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, as well as organisations concerned with Dialogue among Civilizations, or inter-religious and interfaith dialogue. Third: Renowned academic institutions, intellectual and research centers, and think-tank circles. Fourth: The level of the OIC Islamophobia Observatory, which we have established in order to monitor and document all manifestation of this scourge, and to deal with them in an interactive manner. Taken together, this plan has proven its merit and we have been able to achieve convincing progress at all these levels mainly the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, and the UN General Assembly. The United Nations General Assembly adopted similar resolutions against the defamation of Islam. In confronting the Danish cartoons and the Dutch film “Fitna”, we sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed. As we speak, the official West and its public opinion are all now well-aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.Parse the statement carefully. Read it more than once. Slowly, carefully.
To give the remarks an appropriate context recall that Muslims are demanding that which they will not, and, according to Islamic doctrine as currently and widely interpreted, cannot give in return.
"That is?" You ask.
Respect. Muslims as shown by the foregoing (and many previous statements by OIC) demands--that's right--demands thorough, absolute and total respect for all matters Islamic. As defined solely by Muslims.
The OIC has made this demand. It will make it again.
A parliamentary delegation from Pakistan levied this demand on the European Union. Pakistan will not be alone in making it.
The same demand is being made upon the United States.
"So what do the Muslims offer in return?" You want to know.
Nothing. There is no quid pro quo in the demand. Read it again.
The OIC and the countries which make up that organisation have never, and according to Islamic injunctions, can never offer equal and balancing respect for either other religions including Judaism and Christianity or for the secular institutions of states.
The most an Islamic interlocutor can offer is the conditional guarantee of no bombings, no shootings, no burning down your embassy, no violent street protests.
Some deal, right?
You give us the right to ban from your public square anything of which we do not completely approve and we will try really, really hard to stop the thugs from harming you or your citizens.
Now consider the OIC members themselves. In a previous post the Geek noted a study of the forty-eight members of the seventy plus countries which comprise the total OIC membership. With three exceptions the "OIC 48" ranked at the bottom of the human rights-democracy--economic freedom index. Saudi Arabia ranked dead last with Pakistan barely above it.
The lever-pullers in the OIC are well on record as being totally opposed to freedom and totally in love with the unquestioned dominance of an unelected, non-transparent, heavily militarised, authoritarian regime backed by a reactionary clerical crew.
While quite willing to throw fits that go plumb off the Richter Scale over cartoons and Internet videos (including a call for an "international death penalty" by one really over-the-edge Pakistani lawmaker), Muslims generally and the OIC in particular are stone silent on the matter of defaming other religions.
Say it ain't so, Geek.
Ah. good buddy, but it is so. Were you to go to Cairo and wander the Arabic language bookstores or that supposed outpost of British liberal values, Jordan, and hit the bookstores there, you would find shelf after bloody shelf of anti-Jewish billingsgate.
Not simply works denouncing Israel or the "Zionist Entity," but Judaism per se.
Since Cairo or Amman, let alone Tehran may not be on your travel plans in the next few days, let your fingers do the walking. Take a look at this, http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/site/html/search.asp?isSearch=yes&isT8=yes&searchText=T98&pid=118&sid=15&preview=.
Scroll through. Take your time. Make sure you flip to the page covering Britain and the West.
Try not to get too sick. But, it's all there from the (Christian originating) Medieval "Blood Libel" through the Czarist secret police forgery, Protocols of the Elders of Zion to new inventions.
While it is unfortunate that the various Christian denominations including the Catholic Church do not have such a nice central registry for Christian defaming materials of Muslim origin, the Geek well recalls having seen such years ago throughout the Mideast and portions of Northwest Asia.
The likelihood of the situation having changed for the better is equivalent to finding that whales fly.
Or that the Saudis will allow Christian travellers to bring in a Bible or a crucifix medallion.
For many Muslims and certainly for Islamic states such as the big movers of the OIC as well as the OIC itself, respect is a one way street. It has to be that way. Islam means and compels submission.
As far as the political leaders of Islamic states are concerned, the question of submission to whom or what is settled. Them and their demands.
It has to be that way. The Islamic states are by and large fear-ridden enclaves of reaction. Trapped by fear, Islamic political/religious autocrats must not allow the base of their power be exposed to unfettered debate or even factually based criticism in the public square.
These same political/religious fountainheads of diktates and fatwas hope to make us afraid enough to give up the hard won fruits of long fought wars against limitations in expression, inquiry and thought. Fear is the natural ally of the oppressor.
Not the only ally of course. Misplaced love of multiculturalism and an overly zealous desire to be solicitous of the sensitivities or feelings of others can be an equally powerful aid to the would-be oppressor.
Some today term the Muslim playing upon the current fads of sensitivity and political correctness "stealth jihad." The Geek prefers an older, harsher term from the Cold War. Subversion.
By the combination of fear and subversion, the OIC hopes and plans to silence criticism and counterarguments to Islam throughout the West. It is a necessary way station on the road to the dream of a Global Caliphate.
They have told us clearly what they are up to.
Are we going to let them get away with it?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Even with that large caveat, the Geek has been far more impressed with the sheer bloody mindedness and "Death to---!" orientation of so many in the Muslim population of the world than he has been with expressions of something as ambiguous as "moderation." This is why is was impressed with and commends to your attention two writings from opposite ends of the globe.
The first is from Pakistan, a country which, as has been posted previously here, is far more a part of the problem than a portion of the solution. The writer is Farooq Sulehria and his article appears today at http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=118852.
His theme includes some features which are notable. Sulehria argues powerfully that the time has come for Muslims to stop blaming others such as the West, the US, the Jews, the Christians, for the problems which best Muslim dominated societies and states.
When all else fails, "Jews" and "Christian" West are there to lay the blame for all our ills. Conspiracy theories instead of scientific, rational thought holds sway across much of the Muslim world. And every time a rights abuse is highlighted in Iran, Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, a typical Muslim answer is: Look at Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Chechnya. True, imperialism and Zionism have a hand in our predicament. However, there are many wounds one can only describe as self-inflicted. Take, for instance, the Iran-Iraq war, one of the last century's bloodiest conflicts. There is no denying the fact that the United States backed the Saddam regime. But it was the Arab sheikhdoms, panicked at the Iranian revolution, that stoked the flames of war. And, ironically, now in the post-Saddam era when the "Christian" West has written off Iraq's Saddam-era debt worth $66 billion, Iraq's Arab brothers refuse to write off that country's $67 billion loans.How is that for a gale of honesty! But, wait. There's more.
Similarly, last century's bloodiest Muslim genocide was not carried out by Serbs, Israelis, Americans, Europeans or Hindus. It was Pakistan's military that refused to respect a democratic verdict and plunged East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, into an ocean of blood. Millions were killed, maimed, raped and rendered homeless. Luckily, Pakistan has a "Hindu" neighbour. "Hindus are born enemies of Islam'. Hence, Pakistani children are now taught that a Bengali traitor (revered by Bengalis as founder of Bangladesh), in connivance with our "Hindu" neighbour, dismembered Pakistan. Ironically, of all her South Asian neighbours, Pakistan enjoys most cordial relations with the world's only Hindu state, Nepal. The other big genocide was perpetrated by Indonesia. The target was: its own citizens who were members of the Communist Party.That defines "telling it like it is!
A second point is tellingly made. Islamic countries are at best pathetic in their guarding of human rights. Using a twisted reading of the internally contradictory injunctions within the Quran and hadith, Muslim dominated states run rampant and roughshod over the rights that do (or should at the very least) belong to all of us in possession of a navel. Consider,
The Amnesty International report on human rights for the year 2007 is out. The Muslim world constitutes, as usual, bleakest chapter. Every single country across the Muslim world has been pointed out by the Amnesty International either for executions and torture or discrimination against women and ethnic and religious minorities. Punishments never handed down even during the Stone Age, have been awarded in 21st century Muslim world. In one case, two Saudi nationals were awarded 7,000 lashes. Yes, 7,000. And executions? Well, 335 in Iran, 158 in Saudi Arabia and 135 in Pakistan. Violation of human rights, it seems, is the only thing that unites the otherwise divided Muslim world. The report is no exception. The Muslim world cuts a sorry figure every time a global watchdog releases its findings. Freedom of expression here remains curtailed, Reporters Sans Frontieres annually reports. Regarding freedom of expression, there is a joke often told in Arab world. At a meeting, a US journalist says: "We have complete freedom of expression in the US. We can criticise the US president as much as we like." The Arab journalist replies. "We also have complete freedom of expression in Arab world. We can also criticise the US president as much as we like."If the Geek had written that factual statement, here in the United States, an entity such as CAIR (The Council on American-Islamic Relations) would have screamed, "Islamophobe! Hate criminal!"
Sulehria adds a grace note which might be overlooked in the thundering symphony of condemnation he composed. It shouldn't be. It strikes right to the heart of the matter. Right to the heart of why so much of the Islamic population is condemned to life-long servitude and no hope for a better future.
Similarly, it is either Bangladesh or Pakistan or Nigeria which is on top of Transparency International's corruption indexes. However, when Nobel laureates gather in Stockholm every December, Muslim scientists and writers are conspicuous by their absence.There can be no real hope of a better today without governments which are open, transparent in their operations and honest in their dealings. Can anyone imagine a corruption investigation of a Muslim head of government such as that which has been underway in Israel?
There can be no real hope of a better tomorrow without talented, free-thinking and creative scientists. Not only are Muslims conspicuous by their absence when the Nobel prizes are passed out, they aren't to be found in the peer-reviewed literature unless they are living in non-Muslim states.
The Geek can't help but wonder when (not if) some Islamist/jihadist cave dweller will take it in his mind to kill the apostate. Likewise the Geek can't help but wonder how diligently the Pakistani authorities will seek to prevent the success of the assassin.
With that cheery thought in mind, let's switch to the Netherlands. The writer of this post hides behind a pseudonym out of fear. The fear that may silence so many others who share her views or those of Farooq Sulehria.
Take a look at, http://ayaanhirsiali.web-log.nl/ayaanhirsiali/2008/06/muslims-show-so.html.
The author is described as an educated Dutch Muslim. That demands the question, "What is her nativity, ancestry?" The article does not make clear if she is a Muslim by birth or by conversion although that distinction would do much to put the thoughts in a proper context.
She raises an issue which is very important not simply to the Dutch but to all of us in the West. The issue is simple: Why do Muslims demand what they will not grant--respect for other cultures, religions, ways of living?
The writer ascribes the responsibility for the Muslim unwillingness to offer reciprocity of respect to their historical tradition of "arrogance." In her words, "It is time that we Muslims let go of our feeling of superiority, hypocrisy and ignorance."
She backs her contention with a brief account of her understanding of Islamic history, which, in the Geeks' professional estimate is fundamentally correct.
Muslim history writers wrote with pride about what they saw as successful heroic deeds. And we still live under the delusion that the quality of the lives of indigenous people is improved by replacing their temples and churches by mosques, and that we conquer their hearts by doing so. But nothing is further from the truth and why the Dutch say 'our culture is disappearing as we do see mosques everywhere' when yet another church is transformed into a mosque.Leaving aside some translation problems, her understanding is correct and is certainly backed by Islamic writings including those of Muslim historians of the the classic period. If one adds the necessary comment that Mohammad was a political leader using a religious doctrine for the political purpose of establishing a regime and that his successors of all stripes were political figures seeking to expand or maintain authority employing the same religious doctrine, her assessment becomes all the more convincing.
A very brave woman who acknowledges that "with the support of my parents" she both studied and thought long and hard about Islam levels a key indictment. Consider it--and its source.
The present time: consider the decapitation of non-Muslims in Iraq and Pakistan. Those so-called heroic deeds are perpetrated in name of Allah. What is our response to this? Do we condemn this? No, we look on silently, but do demonstrate on streets when an insulting cartoon is published in a newspaper and we threaten politicians with their murder. Embassies of non-Muslim countries are attacked, and numbers of murders are committed out of our passion for heroic martyrdom.That's asking for a bomb on your bus, a knife across your throat or a bullet in the back. After all the Heroic Warriors of Islam seem to get far more jollies out of killing a woman than a man.
The lady asks a question which every self-proclaimed Islamic "moderate" ought to be shouting throughout the US, the West and even the Islamic states. See if you agree--
Why don't we show respect in the Netherlands where we adhere to few rules and civic norms, and where we perpetrate senseless violence - while we make use of their medical facilities, ask for special attention of teachers and community-workers, complain a lot while expecting non-Muslims to take account of us?Non-Muslims ought to asking the same question of CAIR and similar groups as well as other apologists for the "Religion of Peace and Tolerance." It's our world, our countries too.
We Americans are an accepting bunch. We have welcomed all sorts of people and beliefs. We continue to do so. In the past we have expected that religious beliefs would be primarily private, and certainly not imposed on others. We have expected that a live-and-let-live attitude would govern our attitudes and behaviors regarding each other's beliefs (or lack thereof.)
In spite of occasional and lamentable excursions into policy accommodation of religious values, our easy going approach has worked and worked well. We must insist that it continue today.
This means that the use of Islam qua Islam as a basis for demanding accommodation or being forgiven criminal trespass or silencing the voices of those unliked is totally unacceptable. We the People should and must show the same level of courage as the anonymous lady in Holland and the Pakistani Rebel With A Cause, Farooq Sulehria
Actually the name should be the "Spanish Disease" as the symptoms were first experienced by the Spanish Empire during the Fifteenth Century as Spain was flooded by increasing torrents of gold plundered from its colonies in South and Central America as well as the Philippines. Inflation not only undercut whatever may have existed in the way of an underlying Spanish economic infrastructure but eventually assured the financial collapse of the Empire and its citizens.
More recently the Dutch experienced the same disease with the discovery and exploitation of oil from its continental shelf. It took the Dutch years, much effort, some pain and the understanding support of other countries to overcome the illness which now bears its name.
For a long, long time the oil producing shiekdoms, kingdoms and mullahocracies have or should have been aware that each and every one of them was a prime candidate for the next round of Dutch Disease. With the exception of Iran (which has poured money into economically non-beneficial uses such as missiles and uranium enrichment plants) none have used the oil based income to provide a sound economic infrastructure that could absorb and mitigate the negative effects of more money pouring in as the oil flowed out.
Sure, the Saudis Royal Family--all seven thousand or so members--have invested its plunder in any number of offshore projects. The same may be said of the elites in other countries such as Kuwait and at least some of the UAE.
Of course, the Saudis have poured a great deal of money into the building and provisioning of Wahhabist mosques and madrassas around the world. The same source has also been a generous contributor to various Islamist "charities" including such noted humanitarian organisations as the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Spain did much the same as Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf Oil Crew. It funded wars. It funded the Inquisition. It funded religious extremism and proselytising. It's aristocracy and elite built big homes, drove fancy carriages and wore expensive clothing.
Whether in the case of the Spanish or that of today's oil based autocracies, the spending of money on foreign investments, religious expansion or the stuff of war and repression helped develop the basic economic structure about as well as a 9 mm in the prefrontal lobes helps thinking.
From Iran on south and east to the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, the symptoms of the Dutch Disease are too visible to be hidden behind cooked books, fabricated statistics or a burqa of denial. Inflation is at or above ten percent throughout the region--and that is a conservative estimate. In Iran it is above twenty-five percent. Unemployment and underemployment are a majority experience for all those natives too proud to hew wood, draw water or do any of the other necessary, mundane and not necessarily inspiring jobs left to foreign helots (or expat Western technicians.)
As was the case with Spain and (to a lesser extent) Holland four hundred years later, the disease has profound effect upon neighbors. Neither Egypt nor Jordan, for example, are noted producers and exporters of petroleum, but both are experiencing very high inflation (in Egypt's case the highest in nineteen years) coupled with low rates of real growth and high unemployment.
Not surprisingly the countries with the worst cases of the disease are taking wrong actions. Iran has turned on the printing presses 24/7. The UAE and others are controlling prices and providing subsidies for such essentials as diesel fuel. Egypt continues to go the subsidy route for food.
The Geek admits economic history is a fascinating subject--if you are Allan Greenspan. For the rest of us, it usually is a very dull trudge through the Valley of Grim Numbers.
If, however, the trudge is taken and the Grim Numbers overcome, the result is an appreciation of what is needed to defeat the Dutch Disease. It's a simple, painful and not particularly short course of treatment involving the abandoning of controls and subsidies, the forced direction of resource derived wealth into economic infrastructure development and even, horrors! limiting the ability of the elite to buy private jets, luxury yachts the size of aircraft carriers or disporting in the usual lifestyle of the ultra-rich and self-involved.
Not a pretty political picture for any of these regimes. All the way along the wide arc from Tehran to Cairo, the governments are precarious in their grip on power.
Better not to take the risk of doing the right thing and losing hold of the levers of power.
Perhaps its only appropriate that the latest sufferers of the disease first experienced by the Spanish respond in the same way to their condition. Recall that the Spanish Empire was run by a dark and grim combination of autocrats and clerics. The Spanish Empire was hag ridden by a backward looking religious dogma and quivered in fear of the future. The Spanish Empire sought to hold its place in the world with a combination of blood-happy killers, repressive torturers and pure bluster of following "God's Will."
We know how it all ended for the Spanish. How different will it be for the Kings, Sheiks and Mullahs of oil?
It took Spain a long time to fade to the obscure margins of the world. Things happen much, much faster today.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
No one has any idea how long a US presence in Iraq may be either necessary or desired (by the Iraqis in particular.) When Republican John McCain made his seemingly off-the-cuff comment, he was not making a policy statement. Anyone with even a quarter of an intact neocortex should have known that.
Apparently the current presidential campaign has stupefied the Democratic establishment. And many in the mainstream media. From the shock and horror spewing forth from the left hemisphere of the political world one might think that McCain had espoused a policy of never-ending war with hectatombs every year for decades to come.
Get a grip!
Let's get a couple of areas straight.
The surge worked. The US is no longer running a real risk of losing in Iraq. We have met the minimal goal of not losing. Behind the now thinning shield of US combat forces, the Iraqi National Army as well as the Government of Iraq have developed capacities, improved services, and provided stability, which is not being shattered by the occasional spectacular vehicle or suicide bombing of a soft civilian target. (Such as today's VBIED attack near a market in a Shiite section of Baghdad.)
The success of the surge and the concomitant improvements of Iraqi institutions and structures are the reason we no longer hear the Democratic congress-wallahs making mighty moans and shrieks of dismay regarding unmet milestones as they were a year ago. If the provincial elections in Iraq come off without widespread violence or enervating corruption, it will be fair to assess that the US has achieved not only its minimal post-invasion goal of not losing, but that the future of Iraq is in Iraqi hands,
Hands that will not need holding.
The US forces will not be in country to either hold hands or "guide" development.
They will be there for the same reason US troops remained in Europe following World War II and Korea following the armistice of 1953. Before going to the reasons for the long lasting US presence in Europe, Japan and Korea, consider that our military has been in Europe and Japan for sixty-three years and in Korea for fifty-five years.
Sixty-three and fifty-five years. Best chunk of a century for the first and a good chunk of one for the second. (Golly, kind of makes it obvious why McCain popped out with the one hundred years figure, doesn't it?)
The reason the US maintained forces on the ground in these venues under various Status of Forces Agreements was simple and self-evident. Keep the peace. Not only through the high-profile deterrence of cross-border invasion directed against the Soviet Union and its clients.
Sure, the deterrent mission was the one that got all the attention. But, it wasn't the only peace keeping consequence of the US presence.
The presence of the outsiders (us) also provided a useful matrix for maintaining internal peace. More than a few European statesmen and politicians wanted the US to stay in Europe even as the crowds were chanting "Yankee, go home," as they feared a recrudescence of German militarism should the Yanks pack up and leave. In Japan quiet talks in private with political, academic and journalistic personalities indicated that the US presence was an important tool for maintaining domestic order during many of the past six decades.
The US presence in South Korea has been important not only for raising a cautionary flag in the face of the less than totally predictable North Korean dictatorship, it has also served as a completely unappreciated insurance policy for the thugs in Pyongyang. As long as the US were in the South, a Southern invasion of the North was unlikely in the extreme.
Also the US bases in South Korea have served to inhibit some of the more boisterous potentials in South Korean domestic politics. It's not that the Ugly Americans have done anything at all to directly influence the more extreme elements of the Korean political spectrum. They haven't.
It is enough that they are there. With an unknown capacity and motivation for intervention.
That may not be a nice, warm and fuzzy thought, but it is an element of reality wherever US forces are based in significant number--particularly after a war.
The current Iraqi-US negotiations over a Status of Forces Agreement will conclude satisfactorily. With the exception of the increasingly irrelevant Sadrists and the even more marginal Association of Muslim Scholars, the leading political parties in Iraq favor a continued US presence. There is no doubt but the Kurds not only favor it, but are damn near demanding, "Yankees! Stay Here!"
Assuming that neither the rump of neocon cretins through continued insistence on provisions which do or may appear to threaten the sensitive sense of national sovereignty in Iraq and that the Democrats-in-search-of-an-issue don't scuttle the SOFA, it will be signed. US troops will stay in Iraq.
At this point the loudest applause should come, not from Baghdad and not from Washington, but from Tehran. Iran has always feared a replay of the Iraq-Iran War. For Tehran and for the Iranian public it was a disaster that could have been much worse. The mullahocracy ought to appreciate that no country where the US has maintained troops has invaded its neighbor.
So, how long will the troops stay?
Beats me, sez the Geek. McCain might have been right--or not. It doesn't matter in the real world.
It only seems to matter in the less than half-real world of presidential campaigns.