Somewhere on A1A...

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

In the WaPo, Howard Kurtz writes about Bloggers.

Web loggers, for those who have been vacationing on Mars, are one-person Internet blabbermouths who pop off to anyone who is willing to listen. They often slam each other like pro wrestlers, but some of the best take on – sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly, often ideologically – the big newspapers and networks.

Some media critics dismiss bloggers as self-indulgent cranks. That's a mistake. They now provide a kind of instant feedback loop for media corporations that came of age in an era of one-way communications. Sometimes these are just policy arguments dressed up as media criticism, but that's okay.

Modern "Good Guys" don't wear a tin star on their vest. Go see Laurence to find out what the real good guys are wearing.

Go read today's Zev Chafets column.

"...Two years of watching the Palestinians act out have convinced Israelis that their neighbors are nuts. Yesterday's concessions are moot. Israeli policy now consists of putting the Palestinians into a straitjacket. Yet astonishingly, Palestinian leaders continue to believe they are on the road to victory."

More war plans vs. Iraq are in the news. A debate rages over whether or not Al Queda is present in Iraq. The debate on weather, elections, and operational urgency continues as to their effect on timing the attack. And then, today, Thomas Friedman weighs in with his thoughts on how a second Iraqi war will affect the worlds' oil markets. His looks at two possibilities which would give us two extremes in oil prices.... but other scenarios are becoming more and more likely.

The situation in Saudi Arabia is the most interesting. Dissension in the ruling Royal family, all while the House of Saud attempts a tightrope walk between the two sides of the War on Islamists. America is on the verge of ignoring Saudi Arabia, Europe is worried over the possible loss of their business deals, (which would mean dismantling the Western settlements… ok, compounds). For the first time in a generation there is real doubt about how long the current regime can hang on.

Syria is begging to have a regime change forced upon them, which loosens its grip on Lebanon.

Iran is on the verge of a new popular revolution which will likely mean friendlier relations with the US.

The Gulf States, especially Qatar, are seeing more cooperation with the US while they dish out and take Saudi criticism.

Iraq is in the center of it all and is about to be invaded.

The Middle East is a tinder box, train wreck waiting to happen, a ticking time bomb, a powder keg.... Anyway, you get the picture. There is much more to think about and anticipate than $6 or $60 per barrel oil. The upside potential is tremendous if things change to our favor throughout the region. The downside, however, doesn't look a whole lot different from today’s situation.

High oil prices, instability in the region and along Islam’s borders, a growing split between America and its European allies, and a continued threat to Israel’s existence….. Add to that the potential of Iraq (and Iran) joining the list of nuclear capable nations, and the confidence that further appeasement gives to Islamism, and it makes you wonder what’s taking us so long!

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Craig Schamp points us to this, about yet another death of a Saudi Prince. Will one of them fall out of a helicopter in the next few days?

Yeah, I know.. the Hindustan Times.

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that our man Jesse Jackson is meeting with Hamas chief Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. How can anyone take Mr. Jackson seriously? I can't look at him without thinking, and laughing about his appearance on Saturday Night Live reading Green Eggs and Ham.

This is a couple of days old, but is still timely. Ralph Peters, writing in Canada's National Post has some important points that ought to have a much wider audience. It's no secret he's a hawk on this, still hes' right.

"Why are Palestinian terrorists allowed to target civilians without exciting an international outcry, while every accidental civilian death inflicted by Israel is a crime against humanity?

Europe's reflexive anti-Semitism doesn't really matter much, since today's Europeans lack the power, will and courage to act upon their bigotry. But the Bush administration needs to stop pandering to corrupt Arab regimes and to recognize that Israel is fighting for its life; that Israel is fighting with great restraint; and that Israel's pursuit of terrorists is every bit as legitimate as America's. Instead of criticizing Israeli policy, we should be studying it.

The war against terrorism must be prosecuted judiciously, but the terrorists themselves must be pursued without remorse...

...This is not about diplomatic table manners. It is a fight to exterminate human monsters."

Also: Dawson has a wonderful piece written by Eric hoffer in 1968. It's just as true today as it was then.
"The Jews are alone in the world. If Israel survives, it will be solely because of Jewish efforts. And Jewish resources. Yet at this moment Israel is our only reliable and unconditional ally. We can rely more on Israel than Israel can rely on us...

...I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish the holocaust will be upon us all."

Here's a little more on the Shehada killing and its aftermath. Especially noteworthy is:

But the manifest moral disparity between the two sides of this conflict can be seen through the aftermath of the bombing. In Israel, citizens mourn for the loss of life, they have acknowledged their disgust at civilian casualties of war. The government will certainly launch an investigation into the events. Were the situation reversed, Palestinians would take to the streets to cheer the death of Jewish children, as they have so often before.

Diane E. also has an interesting twist as she writes of her search into what The Talmud would say. No big surprises but her post is worth the time.

Monday, July 29, 2002

Strategic Forecasting has a little info on the Souring Relations Between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

The US is building a big base in Qatar, Al Jezeera broadcasts from there, and the Saudis are pissed.

Layers of resentment are contributing to the tensions between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. At the surface, Riyadh is genuinely angry about the negative press coverage by Doha-based Al Jazeera, a satellite TV network that broadcasts relatively uncensored material throughout the Arab world. Beneath this outrage over Qatari press freedoms is the fear that Qatari support for a U.S. military campaign against Iraq could result in Washington's advancing its war plans.

You ought to read the whole article.

I Love Charles Johnson's regular pieces on the "Peaceful Religion." Today's entry is a selection of 'peaceful' prayers coming from the Muslim World

..."O God, strengthen Islam and Muslims. O God, protect the religion; destroy the enemies of Islam, the tyrants, and the corrupt; close the Muslims' ranks; and give wisdom to their leaders...
...O God extend your support to the mujahidin everywhere. O God, help them score victory in Palestine, Khashmir, and Chechnya. O God, destroy the tyrant Jews and their supporters for they are within your power...
...O God, destroy the Jews and their supporters. O God, destroy the Christians and their supporters for they are within your power. O God, shake the ground under them, instill fear in their hearts, and freeze blood in their veins...
...O God, destroy the Jews and Americans for they are within your power. O God, hang their flags at half mast and shake the ground under them. O God, shoot down their warplanes, drown their ships, weaken their power, and abort their designs...
...O God, destroy the Jews and the aggressors. O God, shake the ground under them and show them a black day. O God, give victory to the mujahidin everywhere..."

How long will the appeasers in the free world continue to ignore the real threat coming from the Islamic world. This is not just an Arab-Israeli conflict.

The discussion is under three different headlines so I didn't pick one permalink to point you to, but you should go see Charles Johnson, over at lgf, for an interesting discussion he's had going with the surprise appearance of a pseudo-journalist from the Arab News, John Bradley, in his comments section. It's a shame the exchange was so short lived. Most of us are longing for a meaningful dialogue with someone, someplace in the Arab World. I keep hearing the term "Moderate Arabs" tossed around, but I don't know who they are, what they believe, or how they really think. But I doiubt that discussion will ever happen.

It's not that I think the Arab News is a font of Moderate Arab Thought, but I had hopes that Mr. Bradley, as a Brit, might at least be able to provide a moderate Arab viewpoint on a variety of issues. Sadly he declined. Once again I am left with the feeling that there really is no moderate Arab thought.

The Jerusalem Post is getting into a bit of fact-checking and reporting on the New York Times. It seems a recent editorial was edited practically to the point of censorship. Does that surprise anyone? Tal G has a link to Anne Bayefsky's original work.

Sunday, July 28, 2002

The Guardian is reporting that Saudi Arabia could fall to al-Qaeda. Anyone think that would NOT be a good thing?

Is the US serious in its message to the UN. It's good news if we use our position on the Security to make sure there are no more one-sided resolutions with Security Council endorsement. Call me skeptical though.

Saturday, July 27, 2002

Imshin Not a Fish gives her perspective on the current situation in Israel, what some have called the "Oslo War." Please go read it.

Today is the blogathon. Please stop by and pledge your support to Laurence Simon and Meryl Yourish. They are working for Magen David Adom and the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. Enjoy their writing and donate a couple of bucks to two worthwhile charities.

Friday, July 26, 2002

From Ha'aretz, more on the pre-strike debate. And from the Jerusalem Post.

A Sickening Double Standard is what Mona Charen calls it.

The words "war crime" and "atrocity" never seem to pass the lips of European diplomats, intellectuals or journalists regarding Arab homicide bombers. But the minute Israel retaliates, the "world community" is seized by horror and indignation.

It isn't just that the world has chosen sides in a conflict. It is that the free, democratic world has bullied and abandoned a small free nation valiantly attempting to live by the civilized norms the free world theoretically champions, against an enemy that does not recognize them at all...

...Usually, as Shehada certainly knew, the Israelis stay their hand when a strike will mean the deaths of children. They've gone to extraordinary lengths -- even in the face of a demoralizing murder campaign against their civilians -- to limit civilian casualties.

More debate: Lair gets it. There is no absolute answer. The circumstances and possibilities in each situation are infinite. But the questions are worth asking to help us determine what the moral ideals are. I think we need a better understanding of which questions are relevant, which are important. My idealistic belief is that honest debate about these issues will, in the future, lead to less condemnation of Israel by those in the Free World… and of the US when we are faced with similar dilemmas.

The debate on morality, responsibility and judgment continues at The Truth Laid Bear. Generally I think that most people makng the judgment to condemn the action are doing so on with too little knowledge of the particulars. Chasing ideals is a noble thing, but ignoring realities helps nothing. Here is my reply to Bear's post of the day:

BEAR: "My answer? I think there's value in challenging oneself to identify the moral and the immoral in this world. Armchair generaling is one thing, but that's not what I, at least, am attempting to do. I don't claim to know good military tactics from bad ones --- but I do claim to know, from my own heart, at least, what I believe is moral, and what I believe is not. And I think engaging in debates like this one with honest folks of integrity as to where those lines are is time well spent."

This is the heart of the matter. HOWEVER, there is no absolute answer to most situations. Deliberately killing children, of course is morally reprehensible. But when you examine the huge gray area in order to determine the morality of a specific action in war, many factors must be considered.

Among the considerations in that examination are both, some kind of "cost/benefit analysis” and an analysis of the likelihood of achieving the desired outcome. In the case of the strike on Shehada, many seem to be jumping to the conclusion that civilians were "deliberately killed" merely because of the reported circumstances. That is not necessarily the case. If, as reported by Ha'aretz and others, the IDF made the judgment that collateral damage would be limited, and would not cause significant casualties, then some people would change their opinion of the morality of the decision. Likewise, if that judgment was wild and unsupported, then some opinions would change the other way. What that illustrates is, that some consideration MUST be given to the military aspects, specifically an analysis of the weapons available and the expected results. Truly valid judgments on the morality cannot be made without that understanding.

For the majority who are neither expert nor familiar with military matters, that information can best be disseminated through debates like this one. At the very least, we should all be conversant on the types of questions that go into the action planning. We don't need to know the specific blast or fragmentation effects of various weapons, but we ought to know that those parameters are being considered in situations like the strike on Shehada... it directly reflects on the intentions and morality of the planners. And it should be considered in the judgments those of us in the peanut gallery make in our after-the-fact discussions.

Having done a career as a Navy Pilot, I can assure you that ALL of the West's Armed Forces are well versed in the moral issues affecting strategic and tactical decisions. The IDF is certainly part of that group. No person, or any particular force is perfect, but the IDF has almost always gone to extremes in demonstrating their sensitivities to the moral questions involved in using military force.

In my limited knowledge of the circumstances of the strike on Shehada, I believe the Israeli's WERE morally justified in taking the action. It is not reasonable to judge their actions as being immoral simply because innocent children were killed.

I recognize that the general impression is that a huge bomb was dropped in a densely populated area where children were known to be. However that does not, automatically, translate to "We know children will be killed." There is a difference, and to ignore that difference may make you feel righteous, but it does not serve the purposes of the debate. As Bear says,
"I think there's value in challenging oneself to identify the moral and the immoral in this world."
And, "…My point is that it is possible, and necessary, to make these difficult moral decisions, without losing our morality along the way. We must accept that we are better than our enemies, and that we do bear responsibility for the civilian deaths we cause. Sometimes this acceptance of responsibility will lead us to conclude that the price to be paid is too high --- and other times, we will conclude that for the greater good, that price must be paid.

We can only make sound decisions and judgments by being fully informed of the realities of the situation and by measuring those realities by our ideals. Open and vigorous debate allows us, first of all, to become knowledgeable about the realities of the situation and also to come to a consensus on the ideals we share.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Well a debate is beginning, though I'm skeptical of its value. NZ Bear is asking whether we should take responsibility for our actions when mistakes like this are made. To me it's a no brainer, we are ALL rewsponsible for our actions, but I don't think blame and responsibility are the same. I think the argument becomes semantic and subject to individual feelings of what taking responsibility means. It seems a bit idealistic to me and I’m looking for a debate on the realities. What will we DO when faced with tough situations?

The Bear does pose a question that would serve to frame the type of debate I'd like to see.

Suppose this same terrorist was cornered in a back alley by IDF troops. But somehow, he managed to grab a small child, and is holding that child up as a shield.

Clearly, he has placed the child in danger. Clearly, he is exploiting the child and the IDF's squeamishness.
What action is justified? How much risk to the child is acceptable? Any? What information is needed to make a sound decision? Bear makes a wild leap by saying, "But if I follow the logic you and others seems to be advocating, it seems to say that the IDF should go ahead and open fire on full automatic. Because the terrorist made the choice to place the innocent child in danger, the IDF would bear no responsibility for its death."

First of all the responsibility argument becomes merely semantic. Secondly, "full automatic" is not the only option.

In this situation, what information is needed to make a sound decision? When the US is faced with similar circumstances, how will we decide? What do we, as a society think is the correct way to act?

It appears to me that a knowledge of the options available and the technological capability of the available weapons is essential. Judgment on the possible outcomes need to be made. Is there time to do the analysis? What level of authority must the decision maker be from? How clear are the Rules of Engagement? How valuable is the target? Can the risk to the innocent be calculated? What level of risk is acceptable? How do circumstances change that acceptable level of risk?

There isn’t necessarily a correct answer to any particular scenario, but I do believe there is a correct method to come to a decision to act. What are the questions you want answered before decisions like this are made?

The post-strike debate goes on in Israel and Tal G has a good summary. Sounds like the IDF may have underestimated the expected collateral damage.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Israel has been has been greatly criticized by most of the world, for the killing of innocent civilians while targeting Salah Shehada. The criticism arises, almost universally from the civilian casualties. Even the President called the action “heavy handed.” While the criticism saddens me, I fully understand it. But the lesson that I take from the aftermath of the action, and the play earlier in the week about civilian casualties in Afghanistan, is that a vigorous debate is needed in this country over the ethics and morality involved in waging war.

Much has changed since this country last fought an all out war. Technology has been one of the biggest differences. Precision guided munitions (PGMs) make WWII style carpet bombing seem almost barbaric, but they still kill people. As long as our enemies insist on hiding their hardware and themselves among innocents we have to wrestle with the moral dilemma that comes with the knowledge that successful attack means probable non-combatant casualties.

There exists an unrealistic expectation of ‘clean’ war due to the use of PGMs. The coverage of the last war with Iraq exacerbated that problem. Sensational weapons video selected for public view, along with Hollywood and video games have generally raised expectations, unrealistically, in using high tech weapons. The fact remains, people die in war… innocents as well as combatants. While PGMs limit those casualties, they cannot eliminate them, especially when the enemy decides to hide among the civilians.

Where do we draw the line? Spoons asks if the US would have taken the shot if Osama was in our sights. I believe the answer to that is “No,” but I think the question that NEEDS to be debated is whether the US should take the shot. I think there are circumstances when we should.

Evil exists. Diplomatic and Economic action is not always successful in achieving a desired result. The application of military force… concentrated, applied violence… is sometimes necessary. To apply force means innocents will lose their lives, on both sides. How far must we go to minimize loss of innocent life? Can we afford to ignore an enemy that moves hardware into residential areas, that moves war material in ambulances, that uses UN Relief agencies as cover, that deliberately puts munitions factories in built up, urban areas because they know their enemy has a moral problem with killing innocents? Is any number of civilian casualties acceptable? Does it depend on the value of the target?

These are questions that need to be debated NOW. Condemning loss of innocent life after the fact is wrong . Ignoring a known target that later kills friendly forces is wrong. Let’s hear the debate now and not as a result of some International Court proceeding in the future.

Should we take a shot at Saddam if innocents may be killed? How about Osama? It worked when we bombed Mohammar. Is there a line to be drawn? Today, our enemies know they are much safer amid civilians. Do we grant them immunity because they choose to hide there? We cannot wage war if that answer to the last question is “Yes.” Maybe, just maybe, civilians who know they are endangered by targets hiding among them will do something about it.

I believe that through vigorous, public debate America will conclude that it is sometimes acceptable to engage targets in civilian areas. Isn’t it better to get that into the open now and debated, than to be forced to defend mistakes later?

So, to get back to Spoons’ question: I believe we’d have passed on the shot on Osama. But I also believe that after a little public enlightenment through debate, the next time the chance came we wouldn’t hesitate to take it. We’re not ready yet, but we ought to be.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Here's an interesting graph showing the correlation between CO2 and temperature for the last 400,00 years. What does it say about Global Warming?

Well, it looks to me like both temperature and CO2 levels peak about every 75-100,000 years... we are nearing one of those peaks. But to some it seems to show that the current situation is man-made.... You decide.

First seen on Peoples Republic of Seabrook.

Found this at DawsonSpeaks:

"If we don't start calling a spade a spade soon, predictably the backlash of American resentment will grow toward a group (Muslims and Islam) that may not be deserving of such broad-brush contempt. Just as not all priests are sexual predators, clearly not all Muslims are sympathetic to terrorism. But in the absence of clearly defined truth, it becomes increasingly problematic to tell the good guys from the bad." ~Kathleen Parker

Got the text of this in an e-mail today and even though it's a little old, and even though Windwalking Nikita blogged it last month, I thought I'd put it up again it. It's another article on the happenings in Jenin, "A Question of Blood, by Dan Gordon.

...I heard a story, which I did indeed find chilling. It was told to me by Dr. David Zangen, chief medical officer of the Israeli paratroop unit, which bore the brunt of the fighting in Jenin. Zangen stated that the Israelis not only worked to keep the hospital in Jenin open, but that they offered the Palestinians blood for their wounded.

The Palestinians refused it because it was Jewish blood.

That is a chilling story to an American of my age, with memories of white, bigoted-racial purists refusing to accept blood from African Americans in the segregated South.

The Israeli response, which could easily have been, "fine, have it you own way," was to fly in 2,000 units of blood from Jordan, via helicopters, for the Palestinians. In addition, they saw to it that 40 units of blood from the Mukasad Hospital in East Jerusalem went to the hospital in Ramallah, that 70 units got to the hospital in Tul Quarem and they facilitated the delivery of 1,800 units of anti-coagulants that had come in from Morocco, and thus, were somehow acceptable to the Palestinians where Jewish blood was not. (This information was later confirmed to me by Col. Arik Gordin [reserves] of the IDF Office of Military Spokesman, who supplied the exact numbers of units of blood and anticoagulants and the names of the hospitals to which they were delivered.)

So the question to ponder, before the circus leaves town, is how do you negotiate with a hatred so great that it will refuse to accept your blood, even to save its own people’s lives? How does an international community vilify a nation that offers its own blood to its enemies, while its own soldiers lie dying, and that, when faced with race hatred that brands their blood unfit, diverts military flights to bring blood more suitable to the taste of those who would destroy them?

Another beauty on MEMRI:

on 9/11: "Several days ago, we saw on television a group of Israelis deported from America because they had filmed the event – that is, they knew it was going to happen. I am not saying that the event was perpetrated by the Jews, the Muslims, or anyone else; these are things we do not know. But if it is not easy to determine who carried out the deed, how is it that the Afghan people was destroyed because of an accusation that is as yet unproven?"

"...The U.S. used these events as a pretext and an excuse to destroy the Islamic world and to accuse Islam of being a religion of terror and extremism. It destroyed Afghanistan and is now occupying the land of Palestine, killing the people and massacring the children, because of these false charges."

on Western Civilization: Yet this does not mean that we do not respect Western civilization. On the contrary – we absolutely respect and value it. We also think that the Muslims helped create it during the Middle Ages – though the West denies it. However, the problem arises when the West tries to impose its civilization on us. Then the clash breaks out."

"I'll give you an example. Several foreign elements maintain that sexual perversion [i.e. homosexuality] is justified. We think that it is forbidden. If these elements wish to impose this on us, under the banner of human rights, we are opposed. The West is entitled to our respect for its culture and its civilization, if we are in its country... By the same token, we too are entitled to the West's acknowledgement of our religion-based civilization, without its attempting, every so often, to sow among us certain elements that conflict with the religion... There are many good elements in Western civilization, but we are not required to accept everything it brings...

On Women's rights: "...With regard to equality between man and woman, Islam demands certain things of both, whether in marriage or in life in general. Therefore, perhaps, it is claimed that the Western woman is more liberated than the Eastern woman. But the truth is that in our [society] there is equality between man and woman, except in a few matters concerning inheritance. A very few matters. There are many matters in which the woman is comparable to the man...

Monday, July 22, 2002

He's back with some thoughts on his own cryogenic preservation. Carl Hiaasen wants no part of it and says:

Should any of my offspring defy my wishes and attempt to profit from my DNA, I insist that a disclaimer be affixed to the package in bold-face labeling. Such disclaimer shall point out that my genetic material is obviously defective if my own kids are out peddling it.

It's not like he needs the likes of this blog linking to him, but the Instapundit, today, comments on a "Get him or not" debate regarding Osama bin Laden. The professore thinks the Saudis are behind this whole war against the US. Methinks he gives them too much credit. Certainly the Saudis are contributing to both the cold and hot wars that Islam is involved in, but they, in no way are 'running' it. The problem is a much larger one which is mostly ignored.

Saudis may like to believe they control the Ummah, but it is hardly a fact.
Can they be considered 'running' the war against us because they believe in the inevitable spread of Islam throughout the world, and are working to achieve it? Does anyone really think there is a man, committee, tribal council, or anything of the sort residing in the Saudi Kingdom which is calling the shots in all of the conflicts that Islam is involved in along its "Bloody Borders?"

The Instant man is right in saying that OBL is not the root cause of all of this. Those who believe bin Laden is a modern Caliph, need to re-examine the facts. There is a huge number of people throughout Islam who have proclaimed Jihad against America, against the west, against Israel, against all non-believers. They are not organized into a force that has central command. They do not wear distinguishing uniforms. They do not profess allegiance to any 'National' or secular government, although they have tremendous influence in many States. They are not members of the UN, but a large segment of the UN works in their interest. Not all of them are fundamentalist nut-cases, but, they are all convinced their cause is just and that Islam's spread is as inevitable as it is needed. Not all of them want to see 'hot war.' But ALL of them want to see the destruction of western society and the spread of Islamic law and values.

These enemies are almost impossible for us to identify except by their own proclamations. Because of that it is imperative that we listen to them and believe them when they declare that Western society is evil, that America is the Great Satan. If they declare themselves enemies, who are we to tell them, "Oh you don't really mean that. We're such nice people!" We should listen to what they say. If we had listened to bin Laden from the outset, then 9/11 would most likely not have happened. Still, too many politicians, pundits, and public officials simply ignore the warnings. They don't believe the Islamists mean it when they declare hatred for us and declare war against us.

Our government is not structured to deal with this kind of borderless, nationless threat. The State Department, especially, is having trouble dealing with the new reality. In the interest of keeping existing personal and diplomatic relationships, the reality is being largely ignored. It's being ignored because the system is not capable of dealing with extra-national issues. That must change. But first of all we need to understand the threat.

Today’s threat is unlike any other we’ve encountered. We hardly know our enemy and even ignore them when they shout out their hatred for all America stands for. We must listen. We also must ask for the help of Muslims living in the West. So-called ‘Moderate Muslims need to accept the responsibility of helping the rest of us understand who our Islamic friends are. I have to believe there are some out there. If we have no Islamic friends, we need to know that too, but we should be listening to those who call us their enemy.

No, bin Laden is not the supreme commander of the Islamic wars around the world. Nor are the Saudis pulling the strings, any more than Iran’s mullahs. This enemy is diverse in nationality, and has no allegiance to any existing State, and takes orders from no single man or government. The problem is huge and cannot be ignored for much longer.

Watch for this:

From the observation post above the camp, the "field" left behind by the army's bulldozers is clearly visible. But the tent camp put up by the UN after Operation Defensive Shield is mostly empty. According to the army, it fills up only when the foreign press shows up, about once a month.
The next time you see news of the IDF in Jenin.

Sunday, July 21, 2002

Compare the Beeb's coverage of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, to the coverage of the same thing in America's own NYTimes. Almost Shameful, especially when you see that the NYT story is way too similar to this on in the Arab News.

Max Singer says it very clearly: The Palestinians Have the Power.

The press and the diplomatic world pay attention only intermittently, on the occasions when Palestinians succeed in killing large numbers of Israeli civilians with a single bomb, which has not happened since last month. But those who are responsible for protecting the lives of Israelis must respond to the Palestinians' attempts to kill Israelis every day.

There are roughly 10 times as many attempts stopped by Israel as there are successful suicide attacks.

On the other hand, few people appreciate how great is the burden and insult imposed on the Palestinians by the Israeli military programs to stop the murder of Israelis. Many Palestinians are forced to stay in their homes for days at a time, with only short curfew breaks to shop. They can't move from city to city, or into Israel to work. Their economy is in tatters.

And inevitably, Israel's military operations, though almost always conducted with great care to avoid civilian casualties, kill and wound innocent Palestinians.

But the Palestinians have the power to end Israeli military operations by stopping their own attempts to kill Israelis. As soon as the continual flow of attempts to murder Israelis stops, Israel will be able to pull its forces back.
It's amazing, to me, that most EUnuchs can't, or don't want to see that.

Saturday, July 20, 2002

Ha'aretz has some more on the Massacre that Never Happened. Tal G has some more on the same subject.

Hey, it's the weekend, take some time to read. If you're in the mood for an indepth discussion of post-modernism, spend a bit of time beginning with: protein wisdom: Pomo - a - Go-Go

Andre and Elena at Middle East Realities have a great post about the comparison of casualties between Israelis and Palestinians.

Love him or hate him, you can't deny that Jim Traficant is extremely entertaining. Dawson speaks on the worst hair in Congress: So Beam Me Up Already.

Friday, July 19, 2002

To: Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Meryl, Oh Meryl
Oh please link to us.
You get more hits
Way more than us
Meryl, Oh Meryl
We all read your blog
And linking is all we ask.

Meryl, Oh Meryl
Come read our blogs
Bigwig and Lair
And me, Oceanguy
Read us and link,
For we're trying to rise
In the eyes of all your fans.

Well, Laurence
Won't twist his challah,
And Bigwig,
He can't find the stink.
And me, well, I'm just a blogger
The three of us asking you for some links!

Meryl, Oh Meryl
Oh please link to us.
You get more hits
Way more than us
Meryl, Oh Meryl
We all read your blog
And linking is all we ask.

How did we miss this? Israeli consul denied seat on U.S. flight because he was a 'security risk' Alon Pinkas of all people. I guess National is a small regional airline out of Las Vegas.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Thanks to Imshin and Bigwig for this link to one of my favorites.

Once upon a time I lived in England while doing duty as an exchange Officer with the Royal Navy. Every week I'd listen to, and be questioned about Alistair Cooke's Letter from America.

Bigwig has picked a recent letter that is worth spreading around. It's about Amreicas' unique relationship with Israel, titled American Policy has One Aim. I still correspond regularly with a good friend from my days On Her Majesty's Service, but reading this makes me miss the time I spent talking with all of my friends about our country.

Am I the only one that is a bit unsettled by the Homeland Security Logo on display at the US Patent and Trademark Office Site?

Absolutley barbaric. The obscenity of the Arab tactics continues to grow more abhorrent. Thank God Yehudit Weinberg survived, but her unnamed baby did not. She didn't even know it was a boy.

Is the headline indicative of a change in policy? 3 Are Left Dead by Suicide Blasts in Tel Aviv Street and the bombers were not counted. I noticed CNN's Judy Woodruff reported it the same way.

Thanks to Tal G for the link to this article explaining the possible origins of the fantasy "Massacre at Jenin." Ze'ev Schiff looks back to Jenin and gives us glimpse into the lies and denials that gave life to the rumors as well as the shortfalls in the Israeli bureaucracy that failed to present the truth when it was needed.

Many of these details came out during a conference held by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies on Israel's media strategies, with the Jenin episode used as an example. Lt. Col. Fuad Halhal of Shfaram told the most fascinating story, about serving as the Civil Administration officer in Jenin. Previously he had been in Tul Karm and Hebron. He illustrated his talk with photographs, including meetings with International Red Cross and Red Crescent representatives, who were surprised to see the pictures after they claimed the meetings never took place.

After 13 soldiers were killed in Jenin, there was indeed a tendency on the part of some soldiers to be quick on the trigger. Nonetheless, even during the combat and explosions there were efforts made to assist the civilian population, including supplying food, oxygen canisters and an Israeli generator to the Palestinian hospital, the transfer of 83 patients from that hospital to Israeli hospitals, sending technicians from the Jerusalem Electric Company to fix damaged lines in Jenin, repairs to the drinking water pipes, and repairs to a well that ceased to function. This was all documented, and sometimes photographed by Lt. Col. Halhal.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Yesterday's victims are nameless and faceless for the vast majority of us. But as we hear now of yet more victims of senseless violence at the hands of Palestinian Arabs, we can read of The last moments on Earth for a few of the people barbarically murdered at Emmanuel.

What will be the role for Hamas in any reform fo the PA? Neill Lochery tells us why that is important.

DEBKA is reporting another bomb in Tel Aviv.... Initial reports are 6 killed 30 injured. How much longer will the Israelis show restraint?

Eric Raymond over at Armed and Dangerous has a discussion about local food tastes. He wonders if it's a good thing or not that the best foods from throughout the country have not yet propagated everywhere. I say it's a very good thing that local tastes stay local. And speaking of local tastes, Eric drools over something he calls barbeque that he eats in Texas. The beef that's slow cooked and sliced is certainly worth the trouble and is something to crave, but the Barbeque I know is slow cooked pork, basted in a hot pepper, vinegar sauce, pulled, chopped and served with a helping of Brunswick Stew and Corn Sticks. That is real BBQ, as anyone with roots in Eastern North Carolina will attest too. Would you rather have your pork pulled or your beef sliced?

I hope there is never a Parker's outside of NC and never a Rudy's outside of Texas.... What a great thing BBQ is, no matter where they create it!

Here's a link from Andrea Harris at Spleenville. It's about an uprising in Judea and Samaria that the mainstream press is ignoring. Specifically the War of Palestinian Resistance against the Palestinian Authority. Lawrence Henry writes:

There is a great unreported story in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, what amounts to an unreported war: the war of the Palestinian resistance. And no, the Palestinian Authority and its terrorist accomplices -- Hamas, Hezbollah, the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, and all the rest -- are not "resistance" movements. They are, rather, the dictatorship against which the resistance struggles. The real resistance, anonymous, not even properly described, is the fight against terror within the West Bank and Gaza by a fifth column of Israel sympathizers.

This resistance gets reported only under one rubric -- "suspected collaborators" -- and only under one circumstance -- the execution of those "suspected collaborators." Sometimes these executions take place under a thin cloak of criminal procedure, as sentences carried out by the Palestinian Authority after trial. More often lately, they are simply slaughters in the street, often accompanied by mobs baying for blood and mutilation -- and getting it.
We should hear more about the opposition to the current Palestinian Leadership and the harm that Arafat and his cronies have brought to all of the Arabs who look to him for hope.

Thanks to Diane E. for the link to the Lebanese Hezbollah site. For those who like to see the other side of the story... or at least the story from the other side.

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Windwalking Nikita has a couple of slide shows that are worth a look. See Palestinian Children's Education and then see what the Pals mean by The End of Occupation.

A digest of news on Iraq from MEMRI gives us this gem. A Kuwaiti newspaper is reporting of bottled milk that washed ashore at Bneider:

"Iraqi officials shed crocodile tears over the shortages of milk for children, while their milk took a swim at Bneider... Milk that was produced and bottled in Iraq, and seems to have been exported illegally, fell from cargo ships and was washed [up on] the shores of Bneider... So, which milk were they crying over? The one intended for marketing? Or the milk that they have been depriving the children from having?"

I missed this earlier, but here is Mona Charen on Our Friends the Saudis.

Young, Arab, Muslim Men have committed terrorists acts in the US in the name of Jihad. Although that fact is not in dispute, we cannot afford to asusme that future attacks will come only from that group. Dr. Walid Phares points out that the terrorists know we are looking for Arab, Muslim, Men and are certainly acting on that knowledge. He thinks Converts to Islam like Jose Padilla will be a significant threat.

There were two components to al-Qaida's strategy against the US. One was to identify multiple types of recruits. The other was to assign different types of targets to different groups. Translations from Arabic indicate that bin Laden and his aides said they would strike not only American economic interests, but also the economic infrastructure.

Al-Qaida's recruitment, based on the American Jihadists caught by the US government, leads one to believe there is, in fact, a defined strategy. Indeed, if one examines the Americans who have been captured, a common profile emerges: Each is a social misfit,who was recruited by al-Qaida following a conversion to Islam.

Potential terrorists may come from Arab and Mideast communities, but not exclusively. Converts will be a special category of recruitment for the Jihadists. For the cultural factor is still powerful in US counter-terrorism. Had al-Muhajir not been caught through intelligence, he would have been a "Jose Padilla," one among millions of Hispanics who pass through security checks. So would be Asians, Africans, White Anglos, Slavs, Native Americans, and others. Al-Qaida wants to sneak in through the mainstream to beat the security system. The question remains, where to detect them and how. The answer is complex but possible. One has to look at the "factories" which convert converts into Jihadists.
Let's hope the FBI and the Homeland Security folks have been doing their homework. I think they have... I hope they have. This item blogged on July 1 is reason to believe they're on top of it.

The latest Mark Steyn column picks on our European 'friends'. This time about their reaction to Bush's statement that the Palestinians need new leadership if they want any American cooperation.

Arafat isn't just toast, he's buttered and dripping marmalade. Israel knows it, the Arabs know it, Hamas knows it, his Fatah cronies know it, and ol' man Yasser knows it. The only folks who haven't figured it out are senior British civil servants, European foreign ministers, and the Danish prime minister, who has requested an urgent meeting with the United States to get "the peace process" "back on track."

By "peace process," our Danish friend means "Oslo." Sorry, pal. That show's been canceled. For the last 2-1/2 weeks we've been in the post-Oslo era, and the only thing that's "puerile" is those snooty civil servants who can manage no more insightful reaction to an extraordinary moment in Middle Eastern affairs than to make Winnie the Pooh cracks. The ground is shifting under your feet: If you want to wind up in the heffalump pit of history while the world passes you by, carry on. The continentals are in danger of being the only guys in Yasser's Rolodex who still return his calls.

Monday, July 15, 2002

Nat Hentoff asks,

The question beyond when a Palestinian state will exist is what kind of people will live there?
Just another article referring to the fact that Palestinian children are being raised, not to expect to live in peace with their Jewish neighbors, but to hate them.

Google! DayPop! This is my blogchalk: English, United States, Jacksonville/St Augustine, Northeast Florida, Jim, Male, 41-45!

Friday, July 12, 2002

Sacrilege you say? Not when you consider the source. This piece by Laurence is a must see.

Those who enjoy it will also like: Science Reveals the real Jesus.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

Does the government really think there are Only 5000 people in America with Al Quaeda sympathies? I might buy it as part of the infrastructure, but when you count supporters, the number must be much higher.

The 5,000 figure was reported in classified intelligence reports sent to government policy-makers within the past month and is an increase from earlier estimates.
Earlier this year, U.S. government officials put al Qaeda numbers in the United States at more than 100 active members with hundreds of sympathizers...

...An FBI spokesman would not comment on the groups under surveillance and said the number of al Qaeda members and supporters in the United States has not been made public.

What else are they keeping from us? You'd think if we were really fighting a war against these Islamists we'd be publicizing the threat instead of hiding its extent.

A Royal Pain
With friends like the Saudis, who needs enemies?

by VICTOR DAVIS HANSON Tuesday, July 9, 2002 12:01 a.m. EDT

Even if we were not attempting to prosecute a war against terror, the time would have long since arrived to reconsider our relations with Saudi Arabia. That the Saudis, of all people, should now be regarded as a virtual ally in this conflict only underscores the need at last to settle matters between us. Although the catalog of disagreements on our agenda is long, and many of the items are by now familiar, it is helpful to review the list.

By any modern standard of civilization, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a bizarre place. In an age of spreading consensual government, the House of Saud resembles an Ottoman sultanate staffed by some 7,000 privileged royal cousins. The more favored are ensconced in plush multimillion-dollar palaces and maintain luxury estates abroad in Paris, Geneva, Marbella and Aspen. All 7,000 haggle over the key military and political offices of the kingdom--normally distributed not on the appeal of proven merit but more often through a mixture of blood ties, intrigue, and bribes.
Polygamy is legal, and practiced, among the Saudi elite. Everywhere in the kingdom, women are veiled, secluded and subject to the harsh protocols of a sexual apartheid. A few female Saudi professionals who in 1991 drove cars as a sign of protest mostly ended up arrested and jailed. Women who have traveled to the West remain under the constant surveillance of the Committee for the Advancement of Virtue and Elimination of Sin, a Taliban-like government watchdog group of clerics and whip-bearing fanatics.

There is no religious tolerance in Saudi Arabia for creeds other than Islam; in our State Department's own muted nomenclature, "Freedom of religion does not exist" there. The Wahhabi strain of fundamentalist Islam--over 30,000 mosques and growing--is prone to occasionally violent spasms. The Saudi constitution is defined officially by governmental decree as the Koran, and the legal system is the domain of clerics who adjudicate by an array of medieval codes and punishments. Presently the U.N. Committee Against Torture is asking the Saudis to curtail flogging and amputations; so far, they have answered that such punishments have been an integral part of Islamic law "for 1,400 years" and so simply "cannot be changed."

Although Westernized Saudis in suits and ties, often personable, with impeccable English and an array of American friends, are ubiquitous on our airwaves, they are mere darting phantoms of a free press. Dozens of state-run papers and private but publicly subsidized media vent the most virulent anti-Semitic hatred in the Arab world--fundamentalist screeds or "poetry" equating Jews with monkeys and calling for their extermination. Editors are free only in the sense that they can draw on their own creativity in expressing real dislike for the United States and Israel, perhaps to be rebuked on the rare occasions when such venom is made known to the very deferential American media elite who interview the royals on our evening television shows. The Saudi Press Agency is as careful in monitoring news accounts as informers are in observing classrooms or as clerics in scrutinizing cultural events for the presence of women.

Criticism of the royal family, Saudi government and religious leaders is legally forbidden and strictly monitored. The few dissident writers in the kingdom are jailed and blacklisted and sometimes have their books banned and driven off the Arab-language market. The names of the censoring ministries--Supreme Information Council, Press Information Council, Ministry of Information, Directorate of Publications--come right out of Orwell's "1984."

After September 11, the world is slowly learning how the Saudi princes have pulled off their grafting of a high-tech cultivar onto medieval roots. It has been accomplished through bribes to clerics, cash to terrorists, welfare to the commons and largesse to prominent Americans: money in some form to any and all who find the House of Saud either too modern or too backward. Such inducements have been indispensable because the vast wealth that Western petroleum companies developed for the royal family, plus the tourist treasures of Mecca and Medina, brought neither a stable economy nor general prosperity. The kingdom's accidental boon was not invested broadly in viable industries, secular education or political reform, but instead lavished on ill-conceived projects and a royal elite who consumed too much of it on luxury cars, houses, clothes, jewels, gambling and trips abroad--sins against both Islam and Western laws of economic development.
But now the Saudis are $200 billion in debt. The population is soaring. The imams are worried more about unrest than about their stipends. Thirty percent of Saudis remain unschooled, and nearly as many are barely literate, their resentment against a coddled elite mitigated only by carefully measured doses of anti-Western Wahhabism and the satisfaction that at least the millions of guest Asian and Arab helots, imported for much of the society's wage labor, are more unfree than they. Efforts at creating viable irrigated agriculture and petrochemical industries have had but mixed success--and then only thanks to massive infusions of oil-dollar subsidies.

It is not just human capital that is bought from abroad. Almost every item deemed important to the modernization of the kingdom--from drilling bits and heavy machinery to the phone system and power grid--is shipped in. The expertise to use, repair, and improve such critical appurtenances rests either with foreigners or with the few thousand Saudis trained abroad.

The Saudi royals are thus these days an increasingly troubled bunch. They are quite understandably exasperated that they have failed to earn needed capital by developing nonpetroleum industries, and that their citizenry lacks either the practical skills to create thriving commercial enterprises or the individual drive and initiative to build businesses from the ground up. They are even more irked that their imported gadgets have brought with them hostile ideas, critical lectures and unwelcome advice, as if air-conditioners and neurosurgeons should come without consequences and as freely as oil out of the desert. And they are still more dyspeptic that some people persist in thinking there is something unhealthy in the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11 were Saudi nationals.

It is common to hear that Osama bin Laden, a naturalized Saudi Arabian whose family still has close ties to the inner circles of the monarchy, deliberately chose Saudi nationals for the September 11 murders in order to poison the otherwise amicable relations between the kingdom and the United States.
Maybe so--but the gambit, if that is what it was, was certainly made easier by the thousands of Saudis who willingly traveled to Afghanistan over the last few years to train in bin Laden's terrorist camps. Royal denials notwithstanding, Saudi government money has for years been funneled into madrassas to encourage radical anti-Americanism as well as to fund the al Qaeda terrorists. Allegedly the purpose has been as much to provide insurance against subversive activity directed at the kingdom itself as to subsidize attacks on the United States. And there may be, after all, a sick genius in a system that can shift the hatreds of an illiterate Saudi youth away from the jet-setting sheiks who have diverted his nation's treasure and onto the anonymous Americans who created that wealth, who ship the kingdom its consumer goods, and who defend it from the neighborhood's carnivores.

But that anomaly raises the key question: Why have close relations with the Saudis been a cornerstone of American foreign policy for decades, as brought to our attention most recently in a series of slick Saudi-financed ads showing American Presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to George W. Bush in warm embraces with a variety of sheiks? The answer is banal: oil, and nothing more. Otherwise, Saudi Arabia's small population of 22 million would earn it less clout than Egypt. Otherwise, the kingdom is no more strategically located than nearby Yemen. Otherwise, its sponsorship of terrorism would ensure it a place on the State Department's list of rogue states like Syria and Iran. In fact, a more sinister status: Saudi terrorists have killed more Americans than all those murdered by Iranians, Syrians, Libyans and Iraqis put together.

The actual Saudi percentage of the world's crude oil and gas reserves is a matter of dispute. On the one hand, there are still unexplored vastnesses in the kingdom itself; on the other, there is an indeterminable amount of oil lying beneath Russia, West Africa, the Arctic and the seas. But it is reasonable to suppose that Saudi Arabia holds 25% or more of the remaining petroleum now known to exist. Thus, for at least the next two decades, the kingdom's oil is thought to be critical to the world economy and in particular to the prosperity of Japan, Europe and the United States.

In the past, our devil's bargain with the kingdom was as utilitarian as it was unapologetic. They kept pumping the oil--either to us directly or as untraceable currents into the huge world pool--and we promised to ignore both the primeval nature of their domestic society and their virulent hatred of Israel. In the Cold War the geopolitics of containing an expansionist Soviet Union made this mutually beneficial concordat easier to stomach. There was also a certain familiarity bred by the growing multitude of Americans who traveled to Saudi Arabia to construct the civilized veneer of the kingdom and of Saudis who came here to obtain the expertise that would presumably ensure some kind of future autonomy. Perhaps the idealistic among us once thought that their intimate and sustained exposure to Americans might eventually lead to liberalization.

Even after the Cold War, however, "stability," rather than autonomy or liberalization, was the operative word when it came to our interest in Saudi Arabia. In theory, we did not press the royal family for democratic reform on their assurances that something far worse and far more radical--à la Algeria or Iran--might come to power in the chaos of elections. This seemed fair enough; who wanted another Khomeini or Mullah Omar atop a quarter of the world's oil supply? Or, worse, a Hitler-like thug who would hold one election and one alone? So we both shrugged as the Saudis permitted our troops to defend them, our experts to train them, and our merchants to profit from their oil while they, for their part, managed to hold their noses at our liberated women, prominent Jews and crass dissemination of videos, fast food, raucous music and general cultural wantonness.
Marshall Wyllie, a former chargé at the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia, once summed up the American policy best: "We need their oil, and they need our protection." Armed to the teeth with American weaponry that for the most part they are unable to maintain or operate competently, bolstered by a frontline tripwire of uniformed American soldiers, and static in their resistance to change, the Saudis preened that they were the reliable deliverymen of inexpensive and plentiful oil in a way that the lunocracies in Iraq, Iran or Libya were not. And admittedly there was something to that claim, at least enough to enable us to think that our policy toward them was neither illogical nor even inherently amoral.

Saudi princes did tend to choose predetermined successors when the ruling sheik of the day passed on, without the gunplay typically seen in succession fights elsewhere in the Arab world. Unlike the Iraqis, they never torched the oilfields; unlike the Iranians, they never stormed our embassy for hostages; unlike the Libyans, they never bombed our airliners. But as if in imitation of their own perspective on reality, our approach to them has also been static and equally blinkered, and in particular has taken no account of the huge alterations in the post-Cold War world.

These changes were already in play well before September 11. The international oil matrix is far more complex than during the Gulf War even a decade ago. Russia is now rapidly becoming the world's most important producer, and the demise of the Soviet bloc has meant that the entire world is now under active exploration. Whereas most other nations are no longer overly worried about the politics of oil exportation, and are positively indifferent to the old Marxist rhetoric about Western capitalist exploitation, the petroleum policy of Saudi Arabia--which has threatened or implemented at least three embargoes in past decades--remains both entirely self-interested and never far from the radical interests in the Middle East.

The sheiks, however, are being led by events that are rapidly careering out of their control. If Saudi Arabia pumps less oil, there will be shocks and disruptions, but eager new producing countries will soon fill the void; if the Saudis export more, then the price may well collapse altogether. And because new, nonpetroleum-based technologies are on the horizon, both to produce electricity and to power transportation, not to mention the increased efficiency promised in the near future by hybrid engines, most exporting countries now worry about getting what oil they have out of the ground rather than watch it sit untapped and decline in value in the latter half of the century.

In sum, a Saudi Arabia with a sizable debt and no real nonpetroleum economy needs consumers as much as, or more than, buyers need Middle Eastern producers. Saudi Arabia is ever so slowly losing its vaunted place as the world's price-fixer, and its past history and present machinations reveal it to be no more or less a friend of the United States than any other Islamic exporting country. If the Saudis declared another embargo, it might fare about as well as Saddam Hussein's recent ban of exports to the United States--and cause a surge in pumping and exploration from Russia and South America.

There is, then, no real need for us to be frightened by the loss of the kingdom's oil friendship. But we should be concerned by the evidence of its strategic enmity. It may be true that the Saudis are neither Iraqis nor Iranians nor Libyans; but it is quite dangerous enough that they are Saudis.
The Palestine Liberation Organization archives made public by the Israeli army in the wake of its recent operations on the West Bank have confirmed that the kingdom actively gives cash to a variety of terrorist organizations and showers with money (or free trips to Mecca) the families of suicide bombers. This bounty can no longer be seen as mere postmortem charity, but rather as premeditated financial incentives for murder. What that means is that the kingdom's suicide-killers of September 11 who butchered our civilians were not so at odds with basic Saudi approaches to conflict after all.

The much-vaunted Saudi "peace plan" for the Middle East does not alter this troubling picture. What was striking (stunning, really) about the proposals was not the grudging willingness after a half-century to recognize the existence of the state of Israel but the complete absence in them of any gesture--planned state visits to Tel Aviv, direct talks with Jerusalem, cessation of state propaganda, curtailment of terrorist subsidies--that might suggest more than a public-relations ploy to deflect growing American furor after September 11. Current Saudi peace-feelers are mostly explicable as salve for wounds the Saudis themselves have inflicted, and which they are suddenly worried have become infected in a very aggrieved host.

Then there is radical Islam. Despite suicide bombings in Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the 1996 assaults against the Khobar Towers complex in Saudi Arabia, the 1998 bombings at the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the hole blasted in the USS Cole, distracted Americans used to believe that such vicious wasps deserved little more than an occasional swat. But after the murder of 3,000 Americans, and the various anthrax, dirty-bomb and suicide-attack scares, Americans are finally seeing militant Islam not merely as a different religion, or even as a radical Jim Jones-like cult, but as a threat to our very existence.

Saudi Arabia is the placenta of this frightening phenomenon. Its money has financed it; its native terrorists promote it; and its own unhappy citizenry is either amused by or indifferent to its effects upon the world. Surely it has occurred to more than a few Americans that without a petroleum-rich Wahhabism, the support for such international killers and the considerable degree of ongoing aid to those who would destroy the West would radically diminish.

Finally, Saudi Arabia has shown an increasingly disturbing tendency to interfere in the domestic affairs of the United States, both in religious and political matters. Whereas our female soldiers, who are in the Arabian desert to preserve the power of the sheiks, cannot walk about unveiled, their hosts show no such cultural inhibitions when here in America. Right after September 11, the FBI was asked by the monarchy to help whisk away members of the bin Laden family from the Boston area to find sanctuary back home. Any government that can request--and promptly receive--federal help for the family of a terrorist whose operatives, more than 75% of them Saudis, had hours earlier vaporized 3,000 American civilians has too much confidence in its clout with the United States government.

Saudi television commercials seeking to influence American public opinion are now nightly fare. Thousands of Saudi students are politically active on American campuses. Local imams reflect the extreme and often anti-American views of senior Muslim clerics who channel the biggest subsidies from the Middle East. Saudi Arabia's cash infusions to Muslim communities in America ensure that Wahhabi fundamentalism takes hold among Arab guests living in the United States. As Daniel Pipes has tirelessly documented, the danger to us now is not just without but within, and its ultimate address is, more often than not, Riyadh.

To recapitulate, all the old reasons that prevented us from breaking away from Saudi Arabia are no longer compelling. More and more, the royals' oil policy is neither pro-Western nor so crucial as it once was in determining world pricing. The present government has been an active abettor of terror, and perhaps the most virulent anti-Israeli Arab country in the region. Al Qaeda and other terrorists have received bribe money from the Saudis, without which they could not operate so effectively. That the monarchy has not been forthcoming in tracking those with ties to the September 11 murderers reflects its real worry about where such investigations might lead. And Saudi cash has been a force for radicalism right here in the United States, casting into doubt the legitimacy and purpose of almost every Islamic charity now operating within our borders. Nor should we forget that no country in the world is more hostile to the American idea of religious tolerance, free speech, constitutional government and sexual equality.
Can the U.S., then, revamp its policy toward Saudi Arabia, perhaps to conform with our stance toward similarly belligerent regimes like Libya or Syria? The beginning of wisdom is to acknowledge that such an about-face would hardly be easy--if for no other reason than that many of the royal family are close friends of powerful Americans in the oil and defense industries, on university campuses, and within government. Their pedigree stretches back to the likes of Clark Clifford, Spiro Agnew and Richard Helms in the days when Aramco used to lobby to prevent American networks from broadcasting such delicacies as the 1979 film "Death of a Princess" (a surreal chronicle of the public execution of a royal Saudi princess and the beheading of her lover on charges of fornication).

Moreover, most elite Saudis here in America are longtime residents, generous hosts and superficially friendly. They tend to be adept at American-style public relations, whether emerging in coats and ties for interviews, receptions and political galas or time-traveling back to the ancient netherworld of flowing robes and headdress when negotiations toughen. The few American journalists who bring up the sordid side of Saudi behavior usually appear gratuitously rude to guests who come across as sensitive, hurt and in full denial.

But the point in any attempt to change our relationship is not so much to punish the Saudis for past hostility and duplicity as to create a landscape for real revolution in the Middle East--a reordering that might in its turn prevent a future clash of civilizations. Such an attempt must be made with no illusions that we have any real control over distant events, and with full recognition of the impracticability of growing democracy in a culture without the soil of tolerance or a middle class. Are there Saudi dissidents who are committed to democracy and can stand up to Wahhabi madness? Our task is to find them, or help to create them, and then to aid them all.

This will sound like a mission impossible, but consider: American businessmen may find the royal family hospitable (over $300 billion in arms sales since the 1991 Gulf War), but most foreign workers in the kingdom mistrust their employers; most Arabs elsewhere resent the abject corruption and conspicuous consumption of the House of Saud; and most Saudis themselves would be happy to see the pampered princes go--some, admittedly, in exchange for Islamist clerics, but others for any consensual government that could end the present kleptocracy. Besides, while we were pursuing this long-term goal, there are steps that could and should be taken in the meantime.

One of them is to recalibrate our oil policy, encouraging--with loans, joint pipeline ventures and long-term contracts--exploration in Russia and elsewhere in the former Soviet Union. Not only would such suppliers increase the pool of the world's oil and gas, and thereby lessen Saudi influence, but at least in the case of Russia we would be buying from a struggling democracy rather than from a small elite already as rich as many of its own silenced people are poor. And speaking of energy, there are things to be done on the home front as well: Conservatives might withhold their opposition to government-mandated efficiency standards for new cars and trucks, liberals their opposition to Arctic oil drilling.

Another interim but absolutely crucial step is the seemingly peripheral matter of dealing with Iraq. In a world where our enemies are perfectly prepared to blow up our buildings and murder our civilians at work, we can no longer tolerate the continuance of a mad regime with access to poison gas and potential nukes. Iraq is significant, moreover, not just for the evil that it is today but for the good that it might represent tomorrow. Once freed from Saddam Hussein, its rather prosperous and secular people could help change the moral balance of the Middle East, immediately posing a challenge to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the other gulf states. Not only would a liberated Iraq become a friendly oil producer, but its very existence would raise a host of fruitfully embarrassing questions about such matters as why there need be American troops in Saudi Arabia at all, and against whom those troops are defending the sheiks if not their own people.

What the United States should strive for in the Middle East is not tired normality--the sclerosis that led to September 11, the Palestinian quagmire and an Iraq full of weapons of mass destruction. Insisting on adherence to the same old relationship is akin to supporting a tottering Soviet Gorbachev instead of an emerging Russian Yeltsin, or lamenting the bold new world ushered in by the fall of the Berlin Wall--a radical upheaval that critics once said was too abrupt and perilous given the decades of dehumanizing Soviet tyranny, the inexperience of East European dissidents, and the absence of a Westernized middle class. Wiser observers have long argued that where governments hate us most, the people tend to like us more, sensing that we at least oppose those who bring them misery.
Only by seeking to spark disequilibrium, if not outright chaos, do we stand a chance of ridding the world of the likes of bin Laden, Arafat and Saddam Hussein. Just as a reconstituted Afghanistan eliminated the satanic Taliban and turned the region's worst regime into a government with real potential, so too a new Iraq might start the fall of dominoes in the gulf that could wipe away the entire foul nest behind September 11.

Even should fundamental changes go wrong in Saudi Arabia, the worst that could happen would not be much worse than what we have now--thousands of our citizens dead, a crater in New York, millions put out of work, Israelis blown up weekly, and a half-billion people in the Arab world unfree, hungry, illiterate and informed by the perpetrators of evil that America and Israel are at fault. As a student said to me shortly after September 11, "What are we afraid of? Are they going to blow up the World Trade Center with thousands in it?"

Victor Davis Hanson is the author of "Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power" and "Who Killed Homer?" among other books. He teaches classics at California State University, Fresno. This article appears in the July/August issue of Commentary

There is some encouraging news today. For those of you who don't know about Scott Speicher , he was the only pilot lost on the first night of Desert Storm when his F/A-18 was shot down over Iraq. He was, almost immediately, listed as Killed in action. Last year, due to a number of factors, his status was changed to Missing-in-Action. His story is compelling though time has made the particulars a bit murky. The bottom line is that he probably survived his crash and there is a possibility he is still alive, being held captive in Iraq.

I knew him, though not well. We flew different aircraft, from different carriers, but we were neighbors, our children were in the same pre-school, we were comrades-in-arms. It's uplifting to know that people are working to bring him home if he's still there and to keep his memory alive. If you pray, please include him. You might want to read more:

Friends working to free Scott Speicher

Scott Speicher Dead or Alive? (6 part series)

Charles Johnson blogs this Column in the Telegraph which urges its readers to stop kidding themsleves about Saudi Arabia. In it he also explains why that will be a difficult task.

In Britain, a vocal group of former ambassadors and ex-foreign policy officials, usually with business ties to the kingdom, preach the Belloc line - "Always keep a-hold of Nurse/ for fear of finding something worse." There are also straightforward political pressures. About 20,000 British expatriates live in the kingdom, mainly linked to the al-Yamamah military aircraft contracts run by BAE Systems. Several times that number back in Britain are dependent on the kingdom for jobs.

Would more democracy help? The Saudi business and technocratic middle class has always been disfranchised, but is not necessarily enlightened. In April, 126 Saudi academics and writers published an open letter saying: "We consider the United States and its current administration a first-class sponsor of international terrorism, and it along with Israel form an axis of terrorism and evil in the world."

Here's a column by Dennis Prager on Why Hesham Hadayet may be scarier than al Qaeda. He's right.

This is not a call to hate Muslims. It is a call to acknowledge Muslim hate. This hatred, the most virulent in the world today, created both 9-11 and Hesham Hadayet. Denying this serves no one, and it breeds contempt for those entrusted with protecting us from Islamic terror.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Californian Muhammad Amin Salameh writes:Osama bin Laden is my hero!
Thanks to MEMRI. They also have this one from the :Egyptian daily Al-Akhbar which names Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld as the axis of evil.

From Jenin to Dallas its' the same humiliation however it's served: You Jews have stolen our food too.

Aziz Shihab, a Palestinian-American and the author of the cookbook "A Taste of Palestine," once picked an argument with the owners of an Israeli restaurant in Dallas that served falafel. "This is my mother's food," he said. "This is my grandfather's food. What do you mean you're serving it as your food?"...

...Some argue that there is some historical precedent. Joan Nathan, the author of "The Foods of Israel Today," said: "Falafel is a biblical food. The ingredients are as old as you're going to get. These are the foods of the land, and the land goes back to the Bible. There have been Jews and Arabs in the Middle East forever, and the idea that Jews stole it doesn't hold any water."

The Neww York Times says: No Winner or Loser at All-Star Game. I think everyone lost... owners, Buddy boy, players, Fox Sports and fans.

I don' think baseball realizes how much trouble it's in. They've all but lost me, a guy who used to be one of its biggest fans. Baseball was in my blood, I played, I watched, I talked about it, I lived it. No more. It's sad.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Tell me, what is Nicholas Kristoff really saying?

The Islamic world represses women, spawns terrorism, is prone to war, resists democracy and has contributed remarkably few great scientists or writers to modern civilization. So it's time to defend Islam.

His defense of Islam is simply, "America has faults too." What kind of arguement is that? He missed the middle grounds of moderate Islam and its role in helping us understand how Muslims really do tolerate non-Muslims and can abide by secular government. Where are those Islamic voices of peace? What does peace mean to them? Let's let someone inside Islam explain it.

Also writing about the controversy in the FBI's public denial of terrorism at work is Daniel Pipes.

...Sure, law enforcement should not jump to conclusions, but this head-in-the-clouds approach is ridiculous...

...Work dispute, hate crime, road rage, derangement, post-traumatic stress, industrial accident ... these expressions of denial obstruct effective counterterrorism. The time has come for governments to catch up with the rest of us and call terrorism by its rightful

Frank Gaffney over at JWR asks of our Executive Administration and its top Law Enforcement Agency: See No Evil? Why the reticence in calling the LAX murders a terrorist incident?

This is, in short, not simply a matter of semantics. It is a question of whether our top law enforcement agency -- and, for that matter, the Bush Administration more generally -- comprehend the true character of the threat posed by Islamist terrorism.

Monday, July 08, 2002

For what it's worth, our LAX terrorist appears to have been of interest to El Al for quite some time. According to DEBKA, between 1993 and 1998 he was employed by an airport services company and aroused suspicians at El Al. How much more did the FBI know and why were they so fervent in their denial that the attack had any connection to terrorism?

Sunday, July 07, 2002

This morning’s big breakfast (the regular Sunday splurge) of an omelet and piece of steak as I sat and read the NYT Sunday Magazine was even more enjoyable this morning. What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?, the cover story asked.

If the members of the American medical establishment were to have a collective find-yourself-standing-naked-in-Times-Square-type nightmare, this might be it. They spend 30 years ridiculing Robert Atkins, author of the phenomenally-best-selling ''Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution'' and ''Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution,'' accusing the Manhattan doctor of quackery and fraud, only to discover that the unrepentant Atkins was right all along. Or maybe it's this: they find that their very own dietary recommendations -- eat less fat and more carbohydrates -- are the cause of the rampaging epidemic of obesity in America. Or, just possibly this: they find out both of the above are true.
Well, at least my breakfast was more guilt free and enjoyable. Is "More meat, less bread" soon to be the mantra of the food police? What will happen to Laurence and his bread maker? That will certainly put a twist in his challah.

Saturday, July 06, 2002

No terrorist, no hate crime, just a disgruntled limo driver with money woes. Thanks to Arab News and our friends the Saudis for the clarification.

This is COOL. Thanks to Patio Pundit for the heads up. It's the Touch Graph Google Browser. Go play.

Here's a little Flash presentation: History in a Nutshell. If you have a couple of minutes you'll enjoy watching it and may find other uses for it.

The New Your Post's Mideast correspondent, Uri Dan writes of the chimera that was the Oslo Peace Process. There are still those who believe (Sen Mitchell for one) that the Oslo process is the way to peace.... Let's hope their idealism doesn't cause even more loss of life.

Friday, July 05, 2002

Here's a little food for thought from Hirsh Goodman in The Jerusalem Report Magazine. Can things really be this bad?

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

A little while back I linked to a story about Shiri Negari a 21 year old Israeli woman who was killed on the #32 bus in Jerusalem on June 18th. Since then a memorial website : Remembering Shiri Negari has opened. There you can read about her, you can sign the guestbook, write a note to her parents, or even hear her sing.... These tragedies must stop. Please stop by.
Thanks to Life by Nikita for the link.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Thanks to Life by Nikita for the link to this letter written by American Airlines pilot Capt. John Maniscalco dated 3-10-02. In YOU WORRY ME Capt Maniscalco says the same thing I've been trying to say for months. I wish I'd have said it this well.

This week, most of us will celebrate our Country's Independence. This year the celebrations will be a little restrained. The Patriotism of the day will remind us of the events of 9/11 and of the people we knew who died in the attacks. Some will attend celebrations with a wary eye because of the threat of further attacks, some will ignore the threat altogether and others will stay at home waiting for the bad news. The news is full of vague warnings and we will all handle it differently.

In Israel, these same fears are present everywhere, every day. As I celebrate, my thoughts and prayers will be with them too. Especially, I will be thinking of the hundreds of victims of the terror and their families; terror we can only imagine. Here is a A Tale of Two Families, the Franklins and the Nechmads, two groups of victims..... Please remember them too.

Monday, July 01, 2002

"As Arafat clings to power, Arab and Israeli frustration grows as options dwindle" is the sub titile for the article, Arab Media Analysis from The Media Line. Including this:

A joke now circulating among the Palestinians tells a lot about the way they see their present situation as well as their feeling for their leader Yasser Arafat.

After outlasting an Israeli siege, Arafat makes a “victory tour” of Palestinian cities by helicopter, waving to the crowds.

“Throw out a hundred-dollar bill and make someone really happy,” says one of Arafat’s economic advisors.

“Great idea,” responds a smiling Arafat.

“O Abu Amar,” says one of Arafat’s political advisors, calling him by his first name, “why not make ten people really happy by throwing out ten one-hundred-dollar bills.”

“Great idea,” agrees Arafat, never short of hard cash.

“Why not,” growls the pilot from the front of the helicopter, “lighten my load and make a million people happy, by throwing yourself out.”

Our friends at CAIR seem to think that the election of a black man in Alabama is a slap in the face to the African-American community.

If you haven't read the NYT Sunday Magazine, you should at least read Elizabeth Rubin's article onThe Most Wanted Palestinian. It sometimes surprises me that a reporter comes to such a different conclusion than me when looking at the same set of facts... She drips with compassion for these brutes, and, as expected, won't call them terrorists nor their acts, crimes. It is purely the biased lens she looks through that gives her such sympathy for the Paleostinian bomber. Still the report is compelling and well worth the time.

This article in the Washington Times got me thinking. The safest place in the world for these Militant Muslims seeking a Virginia base is right here in America. If the base was being set up in Afghanistan, we'd simply raid it or bomb it.... THAT won't happen here.

Our country is strong becasue of the freedoms we have that allow these people to move about, and the respect for the rule of law that keeps us from simply killing them. The legal system may not be perfect, but its' the best there is.

I listened to Conde Rice talk to Tim Russert yesterday and pretty much agreed with everything she was saying. That is except her all-inclusive referral to illegal settlements. From another perspective please read The "Illegality" of Settlements from Arutz Sheva. A sample:

"This is because, in 1967, Israel had as good a claim as anyone to the West Bank, which in effect belonged to no government. The Jordanian annexation of the area, while acquiesced in by the same Palestinian leadership that had rejected the 1947 U.N. partition resolution, was unrecognized by most of the world, and Jordan itself had refused to make peace with Israel or to consider their joint border more than a temporary cease-fire line…"


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