Thursday, September 28, 2006


Every time I have listened to Fouad Ajami on C-Span, he has always made very thoughtful comments about the Middle East. Now he has a piece in the Wall Street Journal and it looks like he is leaning a bit more toward the Bush position on the intelligence issue.

Intended or not, the release of the Senate report, around the fifth anniversary of 9/11, has been read as definitive proof that the Iraq war stands alone, that the terrors that came America's way on 9/11 had nothing to do with the origins of the war. Few will read this report; fewer still will ask why a virtually incomprehensible Arab-Islamic world that has eluded us for so long now yields its secrets to a congressional committee. On the face of it, and on the narrowest of grounds, the report maintains that the link between the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq cannot stand in a Western court of inquiry.

But this brutal drawn-out struggle between American power and the furies of the Arab-Islamic world was never a Western war. Our enemies were full of cunning and expert at dissimulation, hunkering down when needed. No one in the coffeehouses of the Arab world (let alone in the safe houses of the terrorists) would be led astray by that distinction between "secular" and "religious" movements emphasized by the Senate Intelligence Committee. They live in a world where the enemies of order move with remarkable ease from outward religious piety to the most secular of appearances. It is no mystery to them that Saddam, once the most secular of despots, fell back on religious symbols after the first Gulf War, added Allahu Akbar (God is great) to Iraq's flag, and launched a mosque-building campaign whose remnants--half-finished mosques all over Baghdad--now stand mute.


Althouse: "Our avant-gardist artistic establishment... prefers to exercise its anti-bourgeois animus within the coddled purlieus of bourgeois security."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party is a new web site I just discovered. I haven't looked at it in detail, but I want to come back to it in the future. It seems to have a fairly wide selection of information and it also claims to be affiliated with Cornell University. However, the person who recommended it seems a bit dogmatic and simplistic in his statements so I am not sure if this is the best web site critics of the religious right can come up with.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Christopher Hitchens has an article on the Niger affair and is critical of the Senate Intelligence Committee report.

To summarize: The Senate report gives two versions of Zahawie's name without ever once mentioning his significant background. It takes at face value his absurd claim about the supposedly innocent motive for his out-of-the-way trip. It accepts similarly bland assurances made by the government of Niger. It is unaware of the appearance of A.Q. Khan in the narrative. It does not canvass the views of our allies, or of tried-and-tested experts like Ambassador Ekeus. It offers little evidence and no argument in support of its conclusions. It is a minor disgrace, but a disgrace nevertheless.


Der Spiegel has an interesting opinion piece on Muslim reactions to the Pope's recent comments about Islam. I have not followed the controversy closely, but I feel the Pope's remarks have been taken out of context.

One thing should be kept in mind, however: The often violent protests that erupted in the Muslim world in the wake of the cartoon controversy have often been manipulated and fuelled by Islamists. The bile currently being flung at the pope is no different.

But the attacks against the pope are especially grotesque. The severe criticism -- often coupled with threats of violence -- directed at the speech held last Tuesday by Benedict XVI is not just an attack on the head of the Catholic Church. The malicious twisting of the pope's words and the absurd allegations made by representatives of Islam represent a frontal attack on open religious and philosophical dialogue.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Saw this today on The Corner. A study attempts to show that while, since Eisenhower, Washington has tried to develop closer relations with the Arab world, Israel has remained a "truer ally." It is not the impact of the Israel Lobby on US policy that caused this, but the failure of Arab countries to remain reliable "partners." I am sure this will be a controversial item for debate.


This is a fascinating analysis done by the Defense Department in 1946! It noted that radical Islam would be a force in the future. I wish the CIA were as capable today of such forsight.

The first of these urges originates within the Moslems' own sphere. The Moslems remember the power with which once they not only ruled their own domains but also overpowered half of Europe, yet they are painfully aware of their present economic, cultural, and military impoverishment. Thus a terrific internal pressure is building up in their collective thinking. The Moslems intend, by any means possible, to regain political independence and to reap the profits of their own resources, which in recent times and up to the present have been surrendered to the exploitation of foreigners who could provide capital investments. The area, in short, has an inferiority complex, and its activities are thus as unpredictable as those of any individual so motivated.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I saw this today and it bothers me. What do you think?






Anne Applebaum's take on this.

Friday, September 08, 2006


The fall 2006 edition of the Middle East Quarterly has an article on "Why Do Muslims Execute Innocent People?"

While often ignored in the Western media, human rights abuses in the Islamic world are a daily occurrence. Both Muslim states and ad hoc religious courts order mutilation and execution, not only of criminals but also of individuals—mainly women—who have not committed anything which would be considered a crime in other societies. In some cases, Shari‘a (Islamic law) tribunals issue death sentences for those acquitted in regular courts.[1] In other cases, religious leaders invoke religion to sanction non-Islamic practices such as honor killings and female genital mutilation.

Original Islamic jurisprudence, however, does not necessarily mandate such severe punishments. In the early twentieth century, it even seemed that the introduction of modern legal codes in Muslim majority countries might ameliorate regular Shari‘a punishments, but in recent decades, traditionalists have pushed a back-to-basics program which has augmented application of Shari‘a punishment. Rather than modifying Islamic practice, many self-described Islamist reformers make matters worse by advocating retrenchment rather than reform.


A list of logical fallacies.


An interesting comment on Rumsfeld--if it is true, he should be fired.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


30 Amazing Things That Will Happen When America Becomes Part of the Caliphate.


A British parliamentary report on anti-semitism has been issued. It is interesting to see the differences in coverage and interpretation.

The London Times: A sinister alliance has developed between far-Right groups and Islamist extremists who are united in their hatred of Jews, Israel and Zionism and are contributing to increasing anti-Semitism in Britain.

Haaretz has a slightly different view: The panel attributed the escalation to flare-ups in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (but did not specify a direct connection), as well as the "anti-Semitic discourse" being held openly among Muslims, the extreme left and, to a lesser extent, the extreme right.

The London Times, for some reason is ignoring the panel's inclusion of the left in the rise of anti-semitism.


I thought this was an interesting article by a "disillusioned (???)" liberal regarding Islamic terrorism. In spite of what other liberals are saying, she believes terrorism is unrelated to the war in Iraq. Her rationale is that if Islamic terrorism was spawned by the war in Iraq then why, for example, are Islamic terrorists bombing places like Bali, which has nothing to do with the war in Iraq.


This demand comes from the respected journalist David Broder! He castigates the media for how it handled the Wilson-Plame affair, choosing to see some Rove master-mind behind it all.

Conspiracy theories flourish in politics, and most of them have no more basis than spring training hopes for the Chicago Cubs.

Whenever things turn dicey for Republicans, they complain about the "liberal media" sabotaging them. And when Democrats get in a jam, they take up Hillary Clinton's warnings about a "vast right-wing conspiracy."

For much of the past five years, dark suspicions have been voiced about the Bush White House undermining its critics, and Karl Rove has been fingered as the chief culprit in this supposed plot to suppress the opposition.

Now at least one count in that indictment has been substantially weakened -- the charge that Rove masterminded a conspiracy to discredit Iraq intelligence critic Joseph Wilson by "outing" his CIA-operative wife, Valerie Plame.

He ends his article with: These and other publications owe Karl Rove an apology. And all of journalism needs to relearn the lesson: Can the conspiracy theories and stick to the facts.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


I have been watching the rise of anti-semitism in the American left since early summer. Usually people expect right-wing conservatives to be anti-semitic, but the right, except for skinheads, has been silent on this issue. It is the liberal, left that seems to have taken over this anti-Jewish rant. It is hard to understand because the Jewish community has voted overwhelmingly Democrat for decades. I think with Iraq and the Lamont-Lieberman contest in Connecticut some on the left have been carried away with their rhetoric. I follow a Democrat blog, Bull Moose (sponsored by the Democratic Leadership Council), which has recently challenged fellow Democrats and liberals on this issue.

For months, the Moose has observed that if you seek anti-Semitic and anti-Israel filth on the internet, look to the left side. Comment threads and diariists regularly rant against Jews and the Jewish state. What is striking is the degree to which it is tolerated and the "respectability" these sites receive from the Democratic establishment.

Friday, September 01, 2006


The Washington Post column on September 1, 2006 is titled: End of Affair. It was not Karl Rove or some other Bush loyalist that leaked Valerie Plame's name to Robert Novak -- it was Richard Armitage who was opposed to much of Bush policy.

Mr. Armitage was one of the Bush administration officials who supported the invasion of Iraq only reluctantly. He was a political rival of the White House and Pentagon officials who championed the war and whom Mr. Wilson accused of twisting intelligence about Iraq and then plotting to destroy him. Unaware that Ms. Plame's identity was classified information, Mr. Armitage reportedly passed it along to columnist Robert D. Novak "in an offhand manner, virtually as gossip," according to a story this week by the Post's R. Jeffrey.

It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House -- that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame's identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson -- is untrue. The partisan clamor that followed the raising of that allegation by Mr. Wilson in the summer of 2003 led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, a costly and prolonged investigation, and the indictment of Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on charges of perjury. All of that might have been avoided had Mr. Armitage's identity been known three years ago.

Bush and his advisors may be guilty of other failures, but this is not one of them. I can't get over how much media type and Democrat hype was spent on this issue. My early thoughts of this affair was that it was "much ado about nothing." I am sure most people in the Plame-Wilson social circuit knew she was CIA--most of the time where you work is common knowledge so hundreds of other people may have know.