Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Nineteen million Indonesian Muslims support bombings (October 16, 2006)

Islam is a violent religion. You need only read a few lines from the Koran to get a flavor of it. 2:216 of The Cow illustrates well enough:
"Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it... [Keeping in mind that we're in the midst of a violent Ramadan in the Middle East] They ask you about the sacred month. Say: 'To fight in this month is a grave offence; but to debar others from the path of God, to deny Him, and to expel His worshippers from the Holy Mosque, is far more grave in His sight. Idolatry is more grievous than bloodshed."

Hardly the 'turn the other cheek' ethos of the Amish. The Sura The Prophets is a fuller suggestion for reading if you want to get a good feeling of the Koran's content.

Around 19 million Indonesian Muslims (Muslims comprise about 85% of Indonesia's 220 million people) support a violent defense of the faith just as Allah did through Muhammad in the mid-7th Century (the Koran was standardized in the mid-7th Century and remains unchanged to this day):
Around one in 10 Indonesian Muslims support jihad and justify bomb attacks on Indonesia's tourist island of Bali as defending the faith, a survey released on Sunday showed. ...

"Jihad that has been understood partially and practised with violence is justified by around one in 10 Indonesian Muslims," the Indonesian Survey Institute said in a statement.

"They approved the bombings conducted ... in Bali with the excuse of defending Islam," it added, saying the percentage of such support "is very significant".

Jemaah Islamiah, the Islamic organization behind the Bali bombings, has ties to other international Islamic organizations such as Al Qaeda. The founders of Jemaah Islamiah fought alongside bin Laden in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion. The group says it wants to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia extending through Indonesia to Malaysia, Thailand and as far as the Philippines. Over the last couple of years the group has attacked Western (mostly Australian) tourist spots as well as the US consulate in Bali.

A substantial number of Indonesians support what JI is doing. The proportion is similar to the proportion of left-handed people in the US. Imagine if every southpaw you knew supported terrorist attacks on Chinese businesses operating in the US. The Islamic world and the Euro-descended West are incompatible with one another. This is yet more evidence that the two civilizations need to disconnect.

Congressional committee to recommend partition (October 9, 2006)

James Baker, co-chair of the commission, actually euphemizes "partition" by advocating a "division". Whatever. Importantly, Congress is finally coming to see the wisdom in Senator Biden and Leslie Gelb's argument (and one that Randall Parker has advocated since 2003) for the creation of three essentially independent states interconnected only by a weak national government charged with foreign relations and the equitable distribution of oil revenues:
The Baker commission has grown increasingly interested in the idea of splitting
the Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish regions of Iraq as the only alternative to what Baker calls “cutting and running” or “staying the course”.
This option seems optimal to me for a couple of reasons. It will reduce the 'internecine' killings taking place between Sunni and Shia militia groups and official recognize the unofficial partitioning that is already taking place as Shia and Sunni leave cities where they are in the minority. More broadly, it will illustrate to leaders of other Islamic states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria how the introduction of democratic reforms threatens to break up their states into autonomous pieces. So they'll be less inclined to do so, meaning the Arab street, which is more dangerous to us both economically and in terms of security, will continue to be squelched by 'ironfists' with return addresses.

The biggest problem will be ensuring that the Sunnis in central Iraq get some cut of Iraq's oil revenue. But that's going to be a hurdle no matter what.

Our two most powerful leaders are finally considering options other than "staying the course":
Bush and Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, have resisted the break-up of Iraq on the grounds that it could lead to more violence, but are thought to be reconsidering. “They have finally noticed that the country is being partitioned by civil war and ethnic cleansing is already a daily event,” said Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Better really really late than never, I suppose.

Musharraf: End defamation of Islam (September 20, 2006)

Venezuelan President Chavez is in the Western media limelight after his baffling excoriation of President Bush, where the neo-Castroite leader referred to his DC counterpart as "the devil" and the "dictator of the world". Hearing it live, it struck me as mostly self-projection--how the nation of Venezuela will derive benefit from cozying up to Iran and North Korea is difficult to figure out, although it's obvious Chavez wants to spread his influence widely. Picking up the support of these two international pariahs will probably cost Venezuela votes in its bid to beat Guatemala for non-permanent UN Security Council membership. (The 'winner' is chosen via a consensus of Latin American and Caribbean countries, including Mexico--if unanimity isn't reached, it goes to the General Assembly for a vote. With a leader as ostentatious as Chavez, the US will surely be able to get at least one country along the lines of Barbados, Mexico, or Jamaica that is on relatively good terms with Washington).

When oil is obselsced as a vehicle fuel or more deepwater discovery and eventual extraction pushes the barrel price back down, Chavez is finished. He's living on American dollars as it is (just over half of Venezuelan exports go stateside).

Words of more interest came from Pakistani President Musharraf, who called for a ban on the"defamation of Islam". He wasn't referring to an omerta in Pakistan. He was referring to a universal ban recognized by the UN:
"It is imperative to end racial and religious discrimination against Muslims and to prohibit the defamation of Islam."
That sentence is about as risible as the now infamous statement from Pakistan's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson:
"Anyone who describes Islam as a religion as intolerant encourages violence."
The Muslim world is far more discriminating than the Catholic countries Musharraf appears to be specifically swiping, and Islamic defamation of other belief systems is a numbing daily occurence all over the globe. A couple of the most recent stories:
A previously unknown Islamic group calling itself "The Army of Guidance" pledged Tuesday to strike at Christian targets in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for recent remarks by the pope deemed offensive by many Muslims. ...

"Every place relevant to Christians will be a target," said a statement
from The Army of Guidance sent to news organizations in Gaza. "This will be
until the accursed infidel, the Vatican, apologizes to Muslims."

Nevermind that these dunderheads are attacking Greek Orthodox churches. The intent is clear. Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox; what's the difference? All are infidels.

A six-year-old girl was killed in an arson attack on her family home by men who disapproved of a relationship her older brother was having with a teenager, a court heard today.

The two accused, Hussain Ahmed and Daryll Tuzzio, were part of Birmingham's rich cultural mosaic.

These events all illustrate how incompatible Islam is with Western liberalism. Free expression is to be unlawful at best, and possibly a reason for death. The action of the individual is but representative of the larger group (be it a sibling of the perpetrator, the ecumenical Christian world, or the entire UN membership), not something to be judged on an individual level.

Unfortunately, Western liberalism has a tough time combatting this as the only effective way is by fighting fire with fire--become intolerant of the Islamic world and Middle Easterners, North Africans, and Central Asians (as well as their descendants in other places) by keeping them out of the West and keeping a close eye on any of their actions that might raise suspicion through wiretaps and complex algorithims.

Much of the West, especially ideologues in academia and the media, are repulsed by this refusal to treat individual Muslims entirely based on their previous, individual activities. But what else to do? Less interventionism would alleviate America's salience in the Muslim world, but it wouldn't fully solve the problem. Unfettered tolerance simply doesn't have an answer for aggressive intolerance.

I echo Steve Sailer. Let's disconnect. If the discrimination Muslims face is as terrible as Musharraf suggests, let's not subject the poor creatures to more of it.

When I grow up I wanna be a Jihadist (August 30, 2006)

Why I have little faith in the future of the Middle East:

On Sheikh Ajlin Beach, dozens of Palestinian children are shouting and playing and splashing each other, like children anywhere. They are at summer camp. ...

All the Palestinian factions have been talking about social welfare in the past several weeks, including Islamic Jihad. Hisham, one of the camp directors, volunteers to discuss the children's schedule. ...

When asked about this "truth," Hisham launches into a monologue on history from his perspective: "We teach the children the truth. How the Jews persecuted the prophets and tortured them. We stress that the Jews killed and slaughtered Arabs and Palestinians every chance they got. Most important, the children understand that the conflict with the Jews is not over land, but rather over religion. As long as Jews remain here, between the [Jordan] river and the sea, they will be our enemy and we will continue to pursue and kill them. When they leave we won't hurt them."

Concisely put. This is indoctrination of Palestinian children at summer camp. In my drear memories of vacation bible school, I cannot for the life of me recall the condoning of violence in any form, ever. Presumably, residents in Haifa cannot either.

I hope, probably fancifully, that young Iraqi children form lasting impressions of coalition forces handing out candy and stuffed animals to them and contrast these with horrific images of rag-headed miscreants mowing down their peers and blowing up the guys giving out the treats, and that these early memories coalesce into a moderate amicability toward the West decades down the road.

Israel is in a perpetually precarious political position. Every military or police action undertaken by the IDF will be portrayed as an act of oppression by a Western media that once adored the seminal, vulnerable home for European refugees. Israel's response was disproportionate (please do not give me a general who factors in 'proportionality' when devising a military strategy during wartime). Israel's overreliance on military might is proving futile. Israel wouldn't come to the ceasefire table early enough. Israel's still blocking Lebanese ports. And Hezbollah? The few insignificant kidnapped soldiers--the ones Nasrallah said he'd never have snatched had he known it would lead to war--are still being held captive, hoping not to become the next Nick Bergs. I wish Taki Theodoracopulos and commentators like him would consider this and the paragraph following in their pieces on how existential Israel threatens world peace (a view that most Europeans hold, incidentally). Since I'm a blithering novice when it comes to everything involving the Middle East, I'd be able to spare more credulity if such commentators didn't appear so hostile to the only country in the region capable of adding anything of value to human civilization.

Pundits will continue to clamor for various comprises and negotiations, without factoring in the intractable underlying fuel of Islamic hatred of Israel--Israelis (Ashkenazi and pseudo-Ashkenazi European) are considerably more intelligent than Arabs, Persians, or central Asians. So Israel's standard of living is always going to be higher and its economy more versatile than that of its neighbors (especially if and when oil is obselesced), and Israelis are always going to lead happier, healthier (Israel's life expectancy at birth is 79.5 years; Iraq's is 69, Iran's is 70, Lebanon's is 73, Syria's is 70) lives than their Middle Eastern counterparts. So guys like Hisham and Nasrallah will always be able to rabble-rouse relatively destitute, disaffected Muslims in the Middle Eastern countries within close proximity to Israel.

British support profling 2-to-1 (August 18, 2006)

The overly-hospitable British may have finally been pushed over the edge:
A majority of voters support moves by the Government to introduce security screening at airports that focuses on the passengers who pose the greatest risk.

A poll in today’s Spectator shows that 55 per cent backed the idea of passenger profiling and only 29 per cent opposed it.
The support for DfT's push to profile is symbolic. In practicality, it is unlikely that serious terrorists will attempt to conceal detectable weaponry on their persons as they board, although the expanding list of potential weapons may prove me wrong. Might the DfT go so far as to allow a separate list of approvable carry-on items for Middle Easterners, North Africans, and Central Asians, a list that is markedly shorter than what is allowed for white Europeans?

The proposed profiling, on which the poll was conducted, would less controversially be triggered by suspicious behavior or eccentric travelling patterns.

In apparent contrast to the naivete found by Pew Research in July, Britons are largely aware of how intractable the clash of peoples is:
The poll suggests that Britain is increasingly preparing for a long, bitter and potentially bloody struggle, with 60 per cent of respondents saying that they expected the threat from terrorist groups to worsen and 79 per cent arguing that the Government was not winning the war against terrorism.

A large majority, 86 per cent, predicted a terrorist attack within the next 12 months.
Then again, the Pew study revealed that while most respondents in Europe were concerned about the Islamic communities in their respective countries as well as Islamic extremism, with the exception of the Germans a majority of Europeans felt continued immigration from the Islamic world was a good thing. Perhaps the Brits are resigned to such a fate.

But why should they be? Why not stop the Islamic incursion into Europe? There is plenty of reason to put a halt to it. Muslims aren't assimilating, they are an economic drag on generous welfare states, they overwhelmingly consider themselves Muslims before denizens of their various European homes (see the fifth graphic in the Pew survey), and they've hit Spain and Britain, rioted in France, and murdered in response to free speech in the Netherlands.

The Muslim world presents a more prodigious threat to the West from within than from without. Europe is aging. The median age for selected European countries:

UK -- 39.3
Germany -- 42.6
Spain -- 39.9
France -- 39.1
Switzerland -- 40.1

The striplings that are replacing the old fogies are increasingly from the Islamic world, where there are plenty of young bloods (median ages follow) to fool ignorant European business and governmental elites into believing that they are the solution to a shrinking working population to cover the entitlement obligations to the continent's senescent (sound familiar?):

Iraq -- 19.7
Iran -- 24.8
Saudi Arabia -- 21.4
Egypt -- 24
Pakistan -- 19.8

But the young Muslims, unaccultured, uneducated, and less intelligent, feel disenfranchised. They see Europeans as oppressors, and Western culture as decadent. As the Islamic enclaves grow numerically larger, their political clout will grow correspondingly. Again, why? I favor a stronger emphasis on policies that entice native Europeans to have more children instead of the importation of third-worlders.

The poll results should be viewed with caution, as it was conducted over the internet. Though internet usage generally correlates with financial well-being, and I suspect the blue-blooded British are less inclined to express fear or resentment of Muslims than are the working class Laddist types.

Steve Sailer calls for disconnect (August 16, 2006)

Steve Sailer, using the term 'disconnect', sensibly suggests that we stop living with the people we obviously cannot live with:
First, do no more harm. North American and, especially, European countries should stop making their problem worse. It's time to cut off immigration from Muslim countries, with the possible exception of a few more rational places like Turkey and Malaysia.
It wouldn't be a perfect filter. Europeans of Middle Eastern descent would still be able to apply for residency in other Western nations. We'd lose a small source of generally productive people. But the Islamic enclaves that have spawned the French riots and British terror plots wouldn't be further augmented by people who overwhelmingly do not think of themselves as citizens of the various European countries they occupy but instead as pious Muslims living amongst infidels. Simultaneously, we should pour the $200 to $4o0 billion the CBO estimates will be spent in Iraq in the next decade into making alternative forms of energy economically viable so that the Occident can pull out of Islamic lands and remove the impetus for terrorism that such occupation helps create.

The failure of Muslims to function indistinguishably alongside Europeans in the Old Country has shown the fatal flaws inherent in the doctrine of multiculturalism. Whether the blame rests on the hosts or the guests doesn't really matter. If it is the inexorable intolerance of ethnocentric whites at fault, why subject more Muslims to such bile? If it is the tribalistic culture of close-knit, absolutist Muslims with an average IQ of about one standard deviation below that of their European counterparts, why subject Europeans to such hostility? In the words of Professor Philippe Rushton, "Likeness leads to liking. People have a need to identify and be with others like themselves. It is a powerful force in human affairs."

Yet advocacy groups call for more mixing even as they condemn the problems that very mixing creates. Stateside, the ACLU opposes racial profiling but insists on having open borders that make such profiling increasingly necessary.

However, one major American media outlet, the Wall Street Journal, does favor profiling (as does Steve):
Another issue that should be front and center again is ethnic profiling. We'd be shocked if such profiling wasn't a factor in the selection of surveillance targets that resulted in yesterday's arrests. Here in the U.S., the arrests should be a reminder of the dangers posed by a politically correct system of searching 80-year-old airplane passengers with the same vigor as screeners search young men of Muslim origin. There is no civil right to board an airplane without extra hassle, any more than drivers in high-risk demographics have a right to the same insurance rates as a soccer mom.
Why not apply statistical information to our advantage, as Britain's Department for Transport is currently considering? Why, with so much putative celebration of diversity, would we refuse to let such diversity affect our decisions on a whole host of issues? It's culturally insensitive, isn't it, to pretend that all people are essentially the same as you or I? TSAs need to protect me from aggression (and my recent trip to Chicago doesn't instill confidence as I'll explain soon) or I'll be forced to do it myself. I'm not getting on a plane with eight other twenty-something males of Middle Eastern descent, especially if they haven't been thoroughly inspected. My concern does not rest with quixotic notions of indiscrimination. It rests with security in travel and the efficient movement of travelers.

There are plenty of people who fatuously proclaim a love for diversity in general but who then hastily deny it exists when questions of specification about such diversity are brought up. Recoiling from any characterization that differentiates homosexual men in northern California from Shia men in southern Iraq, the explanation is that individuals are so diverse that no generalizations can be made about any of them or any group they may belong to. In short, people are so different that they are exactly the same, and only a miscreant would try to understand the points of similarity and contrast between them.

By sufficiently making all of the US look like America, and each place on the globe look like the world, the multiculturalists are trying to chip away at the diversity that makes the Bronx distinct from Boise and Dublin different from Sarajevo. With so much entropy at the local level and uniformity at the global level, largescale private organization becomes difficult to sustain, creating an ideal circumstance for the imposition of a global governing body does not have to concern itself with illiciting united opposition.

Islamic novelty takes to the skies (August 10, 2006)

Muslims, er, Islamo-fascists--oops, I mean--terrorists, nearly strike again:
A plot to blow up planes in flight from the UK to the US and commit "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" has been disrupted, Scotland Yard has said. It is thought the plan was to detonate explosive devices smuggled in hand luggage on to as many as 10 aircraft.
The suspects are all British nationals, primarily of Pakistani origin (an NPR story this evening actually reported that all 24 suspects currently held in British custody are British Pakistanis). Randall Parker's all over it, pithily summing up the moral of the story thus:
Muslim terrorists are nature's way of telling us that not all cultures and religions are the same, not all are compatible, and not all belong within our borders.
Eternally optimistic, I hope this will finally shift British opinion in the direction of the Germans, who are the most realistic in regards to the problems Islamic immigration brings, having dealt with them for several decades now. But a recent Pew report finds that 57% of Britons favor continued Muslim immigration and believe it to be a good thing (though the question did ask specifically about North African and Middle Eastern immigration, and it is Pakistani Muslims that have been the most troublesome for the British thus far).

The question still remaining concerns what organization, if any, these thugs are tied to. In contrast to the recent plots broken up in Ontario and Miami, this one appears to have had the complexity of an Al Qaeda fingerprint:

- Tracing flight patterns, the suspects ascertained that flights from Europe to North America by airline tend to run in batches, enabling them to potentially get several liquid explosives onto multiple planes (from six to ten or even as many as twenty) by the time the first detonated, rendering the current clampdown too late to stop thousands of civilians from a watery grave somewhere in the Atlantic.

- The use of liquid explosives evinces some level of sophistication. It's not clear what exact compounds were to be used, but something along the lines of astrolite or nitroglcyerin seems plausible. Undetectable by X-ray, this plot will have a deleterious effect on the comfort of travel, with restrictions on things like beverages and hand lotion, and also on personal freedoms, as travelers face even more frustrating security checks and boarding procedures. These will extend beyond airports, as an attack using explosives in soft drinks or water bottles would be exponentially easier to pull off in a subway or bus station than in-flight.

- By concealing explosives on board instead of taking control of the aircraft and using it as a missle as the 9/11 hijackers did, the chance of replication might have been high if the planes dropped into the ocean shortly after detonation and evidence of what happened was lost. Would we have been able to figure out what exactly took them down? Or would we continue to board planes with unchecked soda in hand?

Once again, the West needs to ask itself why it allows almost unfettered Muslim immigration to continue. If the goal is to win the hearts and minds of the Arab street, it's not working. The gossamery moderate Muslim, wherever or whoever he is, does not have a lot of company. In Lebanon, relatively liberal by Middle Eastern standards, a staggering 87% of the population supports Hezbollah, deemed a terrorist organization by the State Department, in its war with Israel.

What Germany and the Netherlands have done with cultural testing is a start, but why not put a temporary hiatus on further immigration from Middle East for the duration of the war against Islam, er, the War on Terror? We can replace the contributions of Middle Easterners with Koreans:
"Home is supposed to be women's space and I don't like it when he spends more time in my space," says Ms. Jun, also 36. "It's like an invasion."

Ms. Jun isn't the only one here with weekend woes. South Korea began phasing in the five-day workweek two years ago. And even though they are paid the same wages to work fewer hours, many Koreans are still unsettled by the prospect of having more free time. ...

Even two full years after having his hours cut, Kim Jeong Hyun, a 45-year-old marketing executive at Samsung Everland Inc., operator of the country's biggest amusement park, is still struggling to amuse himself on Saturdays.

A longer weekend is "something I could have never imagined," says Mr. Kim. He says he is learning how to use his extra leisure time and now feels "less uncomfortable" when he goes cycling or heads to the countryside with his family. But, he confesses, "I still come to the office a couple of Saturdays a month."

To help ease the free-time burden, the Korea Culture & Tourism Policy Institute is making available yeoga kwallisa, or leisure counselors, "to teach people to seize their time," says Yoon So Young, a chief researcher at the institute. "It is something that needs to be learned."

Indefatigable, intelligent, and they won't blow you out of the sky or slit your throat with a rusty scimitar!

Far from Mid East peace (July 28, 2006)

Democracies do not necessarily have an affinity for other democracies:

Last week, al-Maliki said that Iraq was urging the international community "to take a quick and firm stance to stop this aggression against Lebanon, to stop the killing of innocent people and to stop the destruction of infrastructure."

"What is happening is an operation of mass destruction and mass punishment and an operation using great force that Israel has -- and Lebanon does not," he said.
While the skirmishes of the Cold War lend some credence to the assertion that democracies rarely go to war with other democracies, the days of large national contingents marching toward one another to do battle are becoming antiquated. The pertinent question now (from a Western security perspective) revolves around what form of government is most effective at controlling rogue elements within a state. Neither tribal societies nor societies based on an ecumenical religious worldview (of which the Middle East is largely both) make for effective representative democracies.

Olmert is overriding the US, which fingers Hezbollah, by laying blame on the seminal government in Beirut. Strategically, this makes sense. Going after Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon inevitably leads to civilian casualties and golden video footage for media outlets hostile to Israel. Israel sustains less PR collateral damage by putting pressure on governments with a static location and vested interest in satisfying a powerful Israeli state.

Unfortunately, in culturally disparate places like Lebanon (and Iraq), democratically elected governments enjoy little national unity. Representatives are supported only by the ethnic or religious groups they represent. The current conflagration risks plunging Lebanon back into the devastating civil war that ravaged the country for fifteen years during the seventies and eighties. Prime Minister Siniora, a Sunni, is too weak to confront the Shia south militarily. That kind of control needs an autocrat with an omnipresent military, like Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Threatening Assad, as Israel did symbolically by flying war jets over one of the ophthalmologist's homes at the beginning of the Israel-Lebanon conflict, has the potential of turning up the heat on an evanescent militant group like Hezbollah.

Al-Maliki doesn't want to be seen as a puppet of the US, or worse, of Israel. And as prime minister of Iraq, he has his finger on his country's political pulse:

Adding to the tensions, key Arab allies of the United States, predominantly Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, fear the rising power of Shiites in the region: Hezbollah militants who virtually control southern Lebanon, and who are backed by the Shiite theocracy that has run Iran for decades, which in turn has ties to Iraq's majority Shiite government.
Maliki, a Shiite, is well aware of where the majority of Iraq's population (60% of which is, like Hezbollah, Arab Shia) stands on the conflict. The US, originally more antagonistic toward Sunnis, is now being goaded into reinforcing them against expanding Shia influence, which is probably more hostile to the West than the ruling minority Sunnis in Iraq ever were.

On a mordant note, a silver lining in the fighting might be a broad rapprochement among Sunnis and Shia across the Middle East:

From Egypt to Kashmir, thousands across the Muslim world used Friday's Islamic day of prayer to protest Israel's attacks on Hezbollah, urging Sunni-Shiite unity to defeat the Jewish state and condemning Arab leaders' reluctance to show support for Hezbollah.

Leaders in some predominantly Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt have criticized Hezbollah's actions. But many people from both sects in Muslim countries support Hezbollah because of its willingness to fight Israel. ...

Sitting in the shade as he sold figs in downtown Cairo, Hasan Salem Hasan, a 25-year-old Sunni, summed up a prevailing attitude of the so-called "Arab street":

"Although Hezbollah is a Shiite party, we are all Muslims, and all Arabs will defiantly support them and fight the Jews." ...

In Iraq on Friday, al-Sadr urged Sunnis and Shiites to unite so Muslims could defeat Israel. ...

Although currently locked in a sectarian civil war, Iraqis across the political and religious spectrum have voiced support for Lebanon and condemned Israel.

The Middle East is a miasma. We need to halt the Iraq bleeding at $300 billion and start pouring the $200-$400 billion the CBO estimates will be spent in Iraq over the next decade into making alternative energy viable so we can leave the place for good. Without a vital strategic interest in countries like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran, the US will be able to more firmly support Israel, which, with an Ashkenazi (including some pseudo-Ashkenazism that wanted to get out of Europe) population with an IQ of at least 103, and strong financial, technology, and medical industries, is more beneficial to human progress than the 400 million Muslims surrounding it that have contributed nothing to the world but the suicide bomber in the last five centuries. And the support would be relatively painless. We could merely take a hands-off approach, letting Israel do what it needs to do to secure itself. There would be no need for equivocating over 'proportionality', or the method of insuring that your enemy only dies for his cause as often as you die for yours (causing General Patton to cringe).

Senator Chuck Schumer asks a rhetorical question our leaders can scarcely answer:

"Part of the reason that America was sold on Iraq was to have a staunch ally in the region -- a democratic ally that would back our policies," Schumer said. "Now if the prime minister can't condemn terrorism, which is ruining his country ... then where are we headed?"
Great question.

++Addition++Randall Parker has found polling results on Lebanese and Israelis, both of whom largely support fighting one another:
The stakes are high for Hizbullah, but it seems it can count on an unprecedented swell of public support that cuts across sectarian lines.According to a poll released by the Beirut Center for Research and Information [see another poll here that reports 83.5% of the Palestinian population agrees with Hamas that Israel does not have the right to exist], 87 percent of Lebanese support Hizbullah's fight with Israel, a rise of 29 percent on a similar poll conducted in February. More striking, however, is the level of support for Hizbullah's resistance from non-Shiite communities. Eighty percent of Christians polled supported Hizbullah along with 80 percent of Druze and 89 percent of Sunnis.
And Israelis:
A new poll released in Israel confirms that Israelis are united in support of the fight against Hezbollah. 82 percent say the army’s offensive into Lebanon is justified, and 71 percent believe Israel should use even more force in attacking Hezbollah.
The rainining of missiles onto northern Israel hasn't resulted in staggering Israeli casualties. But they have not been insignificant either. Steve Sailer remarks that since the conflict began Israelis have been dying at a rate of 1.2 persons per day. Israel has a population of 6.35 million. The US of 298.44 million. Proportionally, that's like 56 Americans being killed per day. November '04, the worst month in Iraq up to this point, saw 4.5 Americans dying each day. And it's happening on Israel's own soil. Olmert can't give empty platitudes about freedom and self-determination and then withdrawal Israelis to the other side of the world. So it comes as little surprise that the Israeli public supports the extirpation of Hezbollah. When it feels like your life is on the line, satisfying international consensus doesn't mean much.

Arabs and Muslims in the West (July 13, 2006)

More reason the Occident should be asking itself whether or not it needs to take a chance on migrants from the Islamic world:
The Lebanese man arrested in an alleged plot to bomb New York transit tunnels under the Hudson River had been recruited by al-Qaeda three years ago and members of his cell had been attempting to seek help from the organization for the attack, U.S. and Lebanese officials said yesterday.
Economically and educationally, they lift the national average with incomes 8% higher than the US mean. They're twice as likely as the middling American to have a bachelor's degree, and they're more heavily represented in professional and managerial positions. As with immigrants from other places lacking close proximity to the US, we're getting the cream of Lebanon, Egypt, and Syria.

Only one-fourth of the Arab-American population (totalling 1.2 million) is also Muslim (most are Lebanese Christians), a category comprising a little over 300,000 people according to US Census numbers, although Arab groups believe that number to be significantly understated, putting the total Arab-American population at 3.5 million. Most American Muslims (even more highly educated than Arab-Americans) are actually from South Asia and Iran. Many of them have come to America to escape from the miasma that is the contemporary Muslim world.

Still, the putative belief that destitution causes terrorism is hardly airtight. Former CIA agent Marc Sageman conducted an analysis on 400 terrorists connected in some way to the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania:
The 400 terrorists on whom I’ve collected data were the ones who actually targeted the “far enemy,” the U.S., as opposed to their own governments. I wanted to limit myself for analytical purity to that group, to see if I could identify anything different from other terrorist movements, which were far more

Most people think that terrorism comes from poverty, broken families, ignorance, immaturity, lack of family or occupational responsibilities, weak minds susceptible to brainwashing - the sociopath, the criminals, the religious fanatic, or, in this country, some believe they’re just plain evil.

Taking these perceived root causes in turn, three quarters of my sample came from the upper or middle class. The vast majority—90 percent—came from caring, intact families. Sixty-three percent had gone to college, as compared with the 5-6 percent that’s usual for the third world. These are the best and brightest of their societies in many ways.

Al Qaeda’s members are not the Palestinian fourteen-year- olds we see on the news, but join the jihad at the average age of 26. Three-quarters were professionals or semi-professionals. They are engineers, architects, and civil engineers, mostly scientists. Very few humanities are represented, and quite surprisingly very few had any background in religion. The natural sciences predominate. Bin Laden himself is a civil engineer, Zawahiri is a physician, Mohammed Atta was, of course, an architect; and a few members are military, such as Mohammed Ibrahim Makawi, who is supposedly the head of the military committee.
This crucial difference between relatively unsophisticated localized terrorist movements and well-financed, elite terrorist cells is drastically underreported by traditional media sources. A news consumer has to be pretty diligent to find thoughtful discussion on it.

It is the most erudite Muslims that are potentially the most threatening to American security. Do we trade general prosperity for security via statistical discrimination? Considering the performance of Asian-American immigrants (20% higher incomes and twice the percentage of bachelor's degrees compared to the national average) and northwestern European immigrants (those from Norway, Denmark, and Switzerland all have incomes averaging more than $60,000 annually), an argument can easily be made that simply instituting a proportional increase from these areas of the world and a corresponding decrease from the Muslim world would neutralize the productive detriment.

Perhaps more tasteful than simply disallowing all immigration from certain countries would be to follow in the footsteps of Germany and the Netherlands and require tests to be passed prior to the granting of legal residency status that focus on cultural issues where the West and the Islamic world are starkly at odds (homosexuality, the role of women in society, and liberalism in general). But that's not a very strong filter. Besides, gender equality is currently on the march in the lands of Sharia:
A group belonging to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party announced on Monday that it had recruited 100 Palestinian women to launch suicide attacks against Israel.

A woman who identified herself as Um al-Abed told reporters in Gaza City that so far about 100 women had expressed their desire to carry out suicide attacks against Israel. She claimed she was a spokeswoman for the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Fatah.
Fatah, the more secular of the two Palestinian forces, provides Muslim women with more opportunity for advancement than does Hamas:
Since September 2000, Palestinian women have carried out seven suicide bombings inside Israel, in which 37 people were killed and more than 250 were wounded. ...

Four of the female suicide bombers belonged to Fatah, two belonged to Islamic Jihad and only one belonged to Hamas.

Indians need to be asking themselves similar questions. While India does not have 'imperial' extensions comparable to those of the US, Kashmir provides plenty of pretext for bitter Pakistani Muslims. Although poor by Western standards ($3,300 PPP), the country is wealthier than neighboring Muslim Pakistan ($2,400) and Bangladesh ($2,100). Europe, the US, and India should mutually support one another as they are all forced to take harder looks at Muslims at their doors. Hindi civilization and Christian civilization share a common threat in 'radical' Islam.

In any event, we should at least reject those choosing academic career paths that definitely do not fall into the category of subjects Americans won't do:
Hammoud [arrested Lebanese man from above] attended Concordia University in
Montreal from 1995 to 2002, graduating with a bachelor's degree in finance and international business.

Islamic vigilantes in Britain (June 9, 2006)

Again, the question to ask is "Why?":
LONDON (AFP) - The police were under pressure to clear up the confusion over last week's massive anti-terror raid or risk seeing angry Muslims "take the law into their own hands," a Muslim community leader has warned.

The Muslim Council of Britain's new leader Muhammed Abdul Bari said "trust could break down" if the police failed to explain why they launched last Friday's raid, which has turned up nothing of a reported chemical weapons plot.
It's reminiscient of the Islamic riots in France last year. Islamic underclass enclaves existing in the West are powder kegs. Any action perceived to be targeting the community can potentially morph into chaos:

The Metropolitan Police's assistant commissioner Andy Hayman said police had "no
choice" but to launch the raid as they worried about public safety after receiving specific intelligence of a terrorist plot.

But Hayman, who declined to comment on reports by security sources that they were looking for chemical or biological weapons, admitted that "we have not found what we went in there to look for."

Contemporary Islam isn't compatible with liberal society. Substantial Muslim communities like those in London and Paris are cloistered off from larger society. They are no-go zones for law enforcement. But homegrown thugs have hit (or have tried to hit) numerous countries in the West, and these unassimilated, secluded communities are an obvious source of future attackers. Inevitably, Western law enforcement has to penetrate them from time to time, stoking tension between the communities and their hosts, perpetuating seperatist attitudes ("I'm a Muslim living in France. I'm not French, I don't like French degeneracy, politics, culture, etc"), and increasing the likelihood that prospectless Muslims will act out against the host society.

It's a vicious circle, and it's unnecessary. There's around a ten to fifteen point IQ gap between most Muslim countries and those of European Christendom. They are lowering the quality of the workforce. Unskilled laborers (with double-digit unemployment rates, especially among the young) do not increase global competitiveness. Why bring in people hostile to your way of life who hover at the bottom of the economic ladder? The only answer I can come up with is the risible assertion that diversity is somehow existentially good despite all its disastrous consequences.

Affinity for multiculturalism is disdain for Occidental values, as the Seattle public school system explicitly demonstrates:
Cultural Racism:
Those aspects of society that overtly and covertly attribute value and normality to white people and Whiteness, and devalue, stereotype, and label people of color as “other”, different, less than, or render them invisible. Examples of these norms include defining white skin tones as nude or flesh colored, having a future time orientation, emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology, defining one form of English as standard, and identifying only Whites as great writers or composers.
Hispanic immigration to the US and Islamic immigration to Europe both suffer heavily from cultural racism by this definition. I, like most Westerners, put a premium on most of these aspects of 'cultural racism', but I don't want to hurt people of other cultures that stress different values than I do. The optimal solution, then, is to stop bringing in groups that are inevitably going to suffer from racism unless Western culture expunges itself of everything that makes it what it is. That way we can live and let live, without directing hurtfulness at the 'non-whites' of the world. And we can enjoy true diversity instead of losing it in a heap of multicultural goop where every place, striving to "look like the world", looks the same as every other place. Why consciously create demographies that are bound to lead to more of what happened in London?

Europeans are asking similar questions:
Immigration anxiety has been fueling a fierce political debate in the United States, but attitudes about immigrants in this country are considerably more positive than in several European countries, AP-Ipsos polling found.

People in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are much more inclined
than those in the U.S. to think immigrants are likely to get involved in criminal activity. ...

In France, Britain, and Spain, more of the public believes immigrants have a negative influence than believes their influence is positive. I suspect the proportions would be even greater if the question pinpointed some particular immigrant groups (eg North African Muslims in Spain, Turks in Germany). I agree with them and am encouraged by steps several European countries are taking to quell the influx of Muslim immigration. We should move in the same direction.

Around, around again in Iraq (May 29, 2006)

With al-Jaafari thrown to the curb, al-Maliki is hoped to be more effective in marshalling federal strength in Iraq. Could this be a turning point? But which way were we facing when we came in to Iraq, and in what direction will be heading when we straigten out again? If we trace our steps...

June 12, 2003 [Rice]: And despite the tragic events of the past few days, it is also a time of great hope. President Bush believes that the region is at a true turning point. He believes that the people of the Middle East have a real chance to build a future of peace and freedom and opportunity.

March 19, 2004 [Bush]: Today, as Iraqis join the free peoples of the world, we mark a turning point for the Middle East, and a crucial advance for human liberty.

June 18, 2004 [Bush]: A turning point will come in less than two weeks. On June the 30th, full sovereignty will be transferred to the interim government. The Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist, an American embassy will open in the capital of a free Iraq.

Jan 29, 2005 [Bush]: Tomorrow the world will witness a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom, and a crucial advance in the war on terror. The Iraqi people will make their way to polling centers across their nation.

Jan 31, 2005 [McClellan]: The election is a victory for the Iraqi people. It's a significant step forward for freedom and it is a defeat for the terrorists and their ideology. It marks a turning point in Iraq's history and a great advance toward a brighter future for all Iraqis, one that stands in stark contrast to the brutality and oppression of the past.

March 8, 2005 [Bush]: People in the Middle East and commentators around the world are beginning to wonder whether recent elections may mark a turning point as significant as the fall of the Berlin Wall.

June 22, 2005: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has said international support pledged towards rebuilding Iraq marks a "turning point" for the country.

Nov 21, 2005: Senator Biden delivers a speech entitled "Turning the corner in Iraq."

Nov 28, 2005: But, by last week, Murtha had decided to come out of his corner in spectacular fashion. The result was a turning point—and a low point—in the war at home over the war in Iraq.

Dec 5, 2005: Fawaz A. Gerges, an expert on the insurgency movement in Iraq and on the jihad movement in the Muslim world, says the bombings at three Amman hotels last month have produced "a turning point in the Middle East."

Dec 12, 2005: There's still a lot of difficult work to be done in Iraq, but thanks to the courage of the Iraqi people, the year 2005 will be recorded as a turning point in the history of Iraq, the history of the Middle East, and the history of freedom.

Dec 17, 2005: "The last two weeks have been critically important and I believe may be seen as a turning point in the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism," Lieberman told reporters after he and a bipartisan group of senators met with Bush and top administration officials on the war.

Dec 18, 2005 [Cheney]: And we had that election in January -- first free election in Iraq in decades -- and that we will be able to look back from the perspective of time, and see that 2005 was the turning point, was the watershed year, and that establishment of a legitimate government in Iraq, which is what that whole political process is about, means the end of the insurgency, ultimately.

Dec 26, 2006 [Kristol andKagan]: The Iraqi elections really could be a turning point.

April 26, 2006: "The turning point here is that Iraq now has its first permanent government, and that it is a government of national unity, and it gives Iraq a real chance to deal with the real vexing problems that it has faced," [Rice] added.

May 2, 2006: Mr Bush says the new government represents a turning point for the Iraqi people, although he concedes there will still be difficult days ahead.

May 22, 2006: President Bush on Monday hailed the formation of a new Iraqi government as a "turning point" that will allow U.S. forces to take an "increasingly supporting role" against insurgents as Washington and London look for ways to disengage from the war.

Take me back/to just before I was spinning/take me back/to just before I got dizzy...

I try to focus on the big stuff pertinent to the Iraq adventure, not the daily vicissitudes. For one, I'm not shrewd enough nor do I make the time to closely follow the political cycles inside the fractured country. But news of Shia militias undertaking mass executions of suspected Sunnis ("guilty" by way of being Sunni) reveals that Al Sistani's impressive sustained effort urging Shia to turn the other cheek has finally run out of steam. Years of low-level civil war loom ugly in the future of Iraq.

This, to a backdrop of sobering considerations: The population has an IQ around 87, the country's PPP is $3,400 (although this is a substantial jump from a couple of years ago when it was estimated to be $2,100), consanguineous marriage is ubiquitous, Islam and liberal democracy are antipodal (a good read--written in 1993 and attempting to repudiate scholars and academics arguing that fundamentalist Islam was the key to bringing the Muslim world into modernity (!) and tracing the errant predictions of Islam's liberalization over the last 150 years--and the analysis of the Algerian 'surprise' in the early nineties is eerily similar to the Hamas 'surprise' in Palestine last year, leaving one to wonder how Kramer supported the Iraq invasion in '02), and the Sunni minority was accustomed to minority rule for over two decades. I don't see how Iraq can handle the West's conception of freedom.

Let's draw down. Bush can put his hand over his heart and say we've given them a chance at freedom and all the other platitudes that might save America a little face. The allegation, if ultimately true (and the Defense Department hasn't denied it), that Marines carried out a fatal reprisal against some innocents in retaliation for the death of Marine Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, is going to be a PR nightmare worse than Abu Ghraib.

Instead of quixotically trying to reshape the Middle East, we need to remove ourselves from it. Pour the remainder of Iraq's $1 trillion-plus total price tag into alternative energy research (we'll destabilize Venezuela's Chavez while we're at it). Severely restrict immigration from the Middle East. Use Saddam's fall and the death of his sons as a reminder that assistance to international terrorist organizations, or even the perception of sympathy toward them or complicity in their actions, will lead to the rolling of heads and the annihilation of families. If we were off oil and the destabilization of the Middle East meant little to the strategic interests of the US, such threats would have more potency than the current sabre-rattling at Iran.

Dubious Dubai arguments (March 5 2006)

I don't pretend to have enough information to come to an empirically impeccable position on "Port Gate". The inner-workings of the port transit, how embedded the FBI and CIA are in terms of maritime intelligence, or how well-vetted are Dubai Ports World employees and contractors are all variables it's hard to get a straight answer to. But some criticism of those questioning the prudence of the deal (I am in this camp because it seems an unnecessary risk) strikes me as quite spurious.

"P&O is a British company. We've been outsourcing terminal operations for years, so why the fuss now?"

Foreign ownership is not the problem. Occidental countries of the same civilization as we who are more threatened by Islamic terrorism than we are (read Western Europe) are a far cry from Arab Middle Eastern states controlled by emirs who must make concessions to extremists to avoid being toppled by them. Further, P&O is a publicly-traded private sector company while DPW is a government-controlled entity. Thus P&O is held accountable by millions of shareholders and subject to more transparency in compliance with oversight regulations.

"Yes, two 9/11 hijackers were from the UAE, but Britain has terrorists. So does the US, for that matter!"

Disingenuous equivocation. Comprehension of statistical discrimination is crucial here. Pit bulls and border collies have both killed people. But having a border collie is obviously not as dangerous as having a pit bull. Jim is a long-time alcoholic who is plastered every night. Jeff, who is usually a lover of sobriety, got wasted three months ago. Both men are not equally addicted to alcohol. This is of the same nature as the dubious charge that because there are Christian extremists who blow up abortion clinics (once every half decade or so with virtually no support from the community they come from) and Wahabbi extremists who burn down embassies, blow up subways and buses, burn cars, murder filmmakers in the street, etc on a regular basis, Christianity and Islam are equally violent in nature.

"Chinese companies are involved in port operations on the Pacific coast."

The PRC has much to lose in the event of terrorist activity via a Chinese company. It would be economically and politically disastrous for a nation that does so much business with the US to have anything of the sort occur. The same can probably be said of the UAE emirs, but unlike the Emirates, China does not have a homegrown movement bent on the destruction of the degenerate, capitalistic West (if anything, they want to be more like us and are being held back by their government--the opposite of the situation in the Middle East). And those are joint operations with US companies (which may end up occuring in the DPW case).

Fox guarding the chicken coop? (February 19 2006)

It's hard to take the Bush administration's pledge that everything possible is being done to prevent another terrorist attack in the US:
A company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is poised to take over significant operations at six American ports as part of a corporate sale, leaving a country with ties to the Sept. 11 hijackers with influence over a maritime industry considered vulnerable to terrorism.
The UAE is considered an American ally, but so is Saudia Arabia, the epicenter of Wahhabism. Most Middle Eastern governments are friendly with the West because we're oil consumers and to some extent their bodyguards as well. The House of Sa'ud is always trying to strike that tenuous balance between global business interests and the demands of religious leaders at home.
It's sensible to think that Dubai Ports World (the UAE company) is a modern and profit-seeking enterprise like much of the Middle Eastern business world. But what confidence should we have that DPW will be able to screen out all potential jihadists? A Pew Research survey report found support for Osama bin Laden at 65% in Pakistan, 55% in Jordan, 45% in Morocco, and even 31% in the West's most amiable Muslim nation, Turkey. Presumably data like this is too difficult to get in more hostile countries in the Islamic world, but I would guess support in places like the UAE is at least as high as it is in Jordan.

The chance that a cell gets some people employed at DPW seems quite real. Of course all people in the UAE are not hostile to the US, yada yada. We know. And most Muslims do not want to blow up babies in buses or behead cartoonists. But the minority that does is much larger in the Middle East than it is anywhere in the West, and the outcry against such tendencies is much more muted than it is in our own civilization. Why take the risk?

I'm glad to see Democrats taking up this fight:
Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Hillary Clinton of New York, both Democrats, said they would offer legislation to ban companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from acquiring U.S. port operations, targeting the $6.8 billion purchase of P&O by Dubai Ports World.
I'm also glad to hear beltway media types raising the same question. On Meet the Press,
Tim Russert raised the issue with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff:
Since the September 11 attacks, the FBI has said that money for the September 11 strikes was transferred to the hijackers primarily through the United Arab Emirate’s banking system, and much of the operational planning for the attacks took place inside the United Arab Emirates.

Many of the hijackers traveled to the U.S. through the United Arab Emirates. Also, the hijacker who steered a United Airlines flight into the World Trade Center’s south
tower: born in the United Arab Emirates.

After the attacks, U.S. Treasury Department officials complained about a lack of cooperation by the United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries trying to track Osama bin Laden’s bank accounts.” Why would we allow a company based in United Arab Emirates be in charge of security for our ports?
After Chertoff gave the typical platitudes about ensuring American safety, Russert shot back:
But why take a risk?
Exactly. I do not understand why this logic does not extend to Islamic immigration to the West in general. Why should we take in people from a culture that is not compatible with Occidental values? We don't need them. Most will not cause big problems, but there are plenty of other places where we can find quality immigrants without the risk and added cultural tensions.

However, Arab Americans are similar to Asian Americans in their levels of prosperity and success. On average they are more educated and have higher incomes than natives. Rather than ending immigration from the Middle East, perhaps the West should just restrict it. It's a more esoteric question for the US than for Europe, since the Arab-American population only comes to 1.2 million, although it is still pertinent to the West as a whole.

We should employ and enforce a merit immigration system that scores potential immigrants based on desirable attributes: Education, means, occupation, age, language fluency, IQ, as well as cultural knowledge like how bills work through the House to the President's desk. We don't want to pass over net benefits out of an errant fear of what they might do, but we don't want to take frivolous risks either. A merit immigration system wouldn't be a perfect filter, but it would definitely be an improvement over open borders and the risible Visa Lottery system.

The Democratic Senators and Tim Russert will not raise this question, of course, because it is so politically incorrect. And I hate to be so cynical, but if Republicans were not in charge of this port decision and instead it was in the hands of Bill Clinton, charges of xenophobia and racism against those questioning the deal would be flying through the air. Going after their political opponents often pulls politicians out of their pc-think rut. Too bad they can't be in the free-thinking mode all the time.

Another poor terrorist (January 10 2006)

One of the London bombers was loaded (both figuratively and literally):

A suicide bomber who killed eight people at Aldgate Tube station on July 7 left £121,000.
Converting pounds to dollars, that's about $213,425. The sum is net all taxes and liabilities owed. The guy was only 22 and apparently accumulated the wealth by working for the family's business. Clearly he was not emaciated and hopeless. And he, like two of the other terrorists that acted on July 7, 2005, was a British native. The fourth was from Jamaica. They did not come from countries oppressed by the West or the Zionists.

Conventional wisdom has it de jure that poverty creates terrorism, or at least provides it with a moist breeding ground. But international terrorism is not characterized by vagabonds with no money, no prospects, and no future. To the contrary, Islamic terror suspects tend to be more educated and well-bred than their brethren. An analysis of some 400 jihadists who targeted the "far enemy" (non-Israel) by former CIA case officer Marc Sagemen is informative:

Most people think that terrorism comes from poverty, broken families, ignorance, immaturity, lack of family or occupational responsibilities, weak minds susceptible to brainwashing - the sociopath, the criminals, the religious fanatic, or, in this country, some believe they’re just plain evil.

Taking these perceived root causes in turn, three quarters of my sample came from the upper or middle class. The vast majority—90 percent—came from caring, intact
families. Sixty-three percent had gone to college, as compared with the 5-6 percent that’s usual for the third world. These are the best and brightest of their societies in many ways.

Al Qaeda’s members are not the Palestinian fourteen-year- olds we see on the news, but join the jihad at the average age of 26. Three-quarters were professionals or semi- professionals. They are engineers, architects, and civil engineers, mostly scientists. Very few humanities are represented, and quite surprisingly very few had any background in religion. The natural sciences predominate. Bin Laden himself is a civil engineer, Zawahiri is a physician, Mohammed Atta was, of course, an architect;
and a few members are military, such as Mohammed Ibrahim Makawi, who is
supposedly the head of the military committee.

Far from having no family or job responsibilities, 73 percent were married and the vast majority had children. Those who were not married were usually too young to be married.

These terrorists are twelve times more likely to be educated than their country's broader population. In countries where secondary education largely overlaps religious edification, these subjects were overwhelmingly educated in empirical fields of study. They were family men with children to take care of. Not having enough resources to get by is not at all an adequate explanation.

Saturating everything with Marxist overtones is a problem with the analysis of contemporary Western elites (by this I refer to the so-called mainstream media and scholarship). Thomas Frank's popular book What's the Matter with Kansas? raises the question of why the rustic poor in middle America vote so heavily Republican when their pocketbooks would be better served by Democrats. That morality often trumps dollars just doesn't seem to register. But if you believe abortion to be murder, how can some impotent social program financed by your boss's dispensable income compare to 1.5-plus annual killings in the US alone? Utah is not a particularly wealthy state, but it may be the most generous. An act of selfless magnanimity like making a charitable donation makes no sense economically, but it has other obvious benefits like personal fulfillment, the satisfaction of helping others, attenuating cognitive dissonance or guilt, fulfilling religious obligation, and so forth.

Religion--something often scorned and misunderstood by elites--plays a part in this as well. Precisely because of their secular humanism, people like Frank have trouble understanding--possibly even believing--that a person would act against his self interest for some silly, archaic supernatural system. The disconnect is enormous.

The Salafi jihadists are an order of magnitude more zealous than the Nebraskan farm crowd, and their belief system is hardly benign. Shunning democratic liberalism, despising Western pop culture (if you think the putative Religious Right is too socially conservative, multiply that by fifty), rejecting rule by secular law, and with no conception of church and state being distinguishable, the Islamic terrorist is not going to be eviscerated by wealth transfers. It is, remember, wealth transfers from the Saudi Royal Family that finances hardline Islamic schools that preach jihad. Osama bin Laden is a multimillionaire, and fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, one of the world's wealthiest Islamic countries. They spent half a million to carry out the plane attacks on the WTC.

The London bombings also evidence why the West should halt Islamic immigration or at least restrict it substantially. Muslims have not integrated into European society. They are a drain on the social system and create a host of social problems. The West and Islam mix about as well as water and oil.

Speaking of, ending our energy dependency on Middle Eastern oil should be a top priority. Start pulling out of Iraq and spend that money on alternative energy research. While I'm not Panglossian enough to believe that Western influence leaving the place would assuage the zealotry of jihadists wishing to create a pan-Islamic ummah, the obsolescence of petroleum would cause the Middle East to collapse economically. Without oil, the Middle East becomes about as potent as Rwanda--let them go on slitting each other's throats if that's what they desire, so long as they don't have the funds to threaten our security and global stability.

Progress in Iraq? (January 8 2006)

We made progress in Iraq in 2005! It appears US sufferance has peaked and begun its steady downward decline. The only rough spot is that at this rate it'll take around 424 years before we stop losing guys there. In 2004, the US lost 848 military personnel in the conflict. In 2005, we gave up 846. The 'stay the course' mantra strikes me as more and more absurd each day.

If the vision could have remained true to reality from when the rubber first met the road in March of 2003 to the present, the neocons would be almost as great as the second coming. Go into the Middle East, which the West had largely forgotten in its zeal to transmit its values and institutions globally, knock out the repressive, corrupt regimes and put in their place a constitution and a box of ballots.

Iraq, with its seventeen UN resolution violations, a history of aggression, a battlefield familiar to the American military brass, an unpopular and brutal dictator at the helm, and possibly WMDs was a logical first target. Then, presumably, the next member of the Axis of Evil would fall to US invasion--the Persians might prove tougher but Iran's public would support us after seeing the transformation next door. Our pals in the House of Sa'ad would get the picture, and introduce substantive reforms. Oil production would be stabilized to the benefit of the world's economy, and we'd have a whole host of new Israels in the desert.

In a mere three weeks the globe's fourth largest army was brought to its knees. The rubicon had been crossed--the US-led coalition had done its part magnificently. Critics like NYT's Frank Rich looked like bufoons. Then Iraqis had to start doing things and it all went to hell. No, I'm not placing responsibility on the Iraqis. It was all so predictable, apparently. I'd like to think if I'd actively followed current events three years ago I would have sensed a folly of mammoth proportions, although that's easy to say now.

The monumental WMD mistake aside, trying to put a liberal democracy in place was and remains a pipe dream for a host of reasons: 1) PPP (real purchasing power per capita) historically has had to have been somewhere above $6,000 to have a solid chance of succeeding and virtually always fails if it is below $3,000. Iraq's is $2,100. 2) Intense cultural divisions with three major factions vying for control: Semi-autonomous Kurds as the most competent, Sunnis (especially former Baathists) as the most vicious and used to dominance despite comprising only 15%-20% of the country, and Shia as the chronically oppressed numerical majority. 3) Fundamentalist Islam is not amenable to liberalism, with its militancy, general intolerance of other belief systems, subjugation of women, etc. 4) An estimated average IQ of 87 (comparable to the American black average). 5) Extensive nepotism and only a tertiary investment in nationalism--in fact, half of all Iraq men are in a consanguineous marriage to a second cousin or closer. 6) Neigbors hostile to the 'Zionist-enabling' West, among others.

How could we have glossed over all of this? Or did the Administration have the audacity to think we could overcome it? Vice President Dick Cheney certainly had his doubts--in 1991:

"If you're going to go in and try to topple Saddam Hussein," Cheney said, "you have to go to Baghdad. Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens to it once we leave?"
Whatever the rationale, we now have an aggrandized problem with the Iranians. With Iran predominately Shia, the elected Iraqi government is going to mend fences and probably become allied with Iran, in stark contrast to the secular Sunni Saddam, who spent eight years butchering (and being butchered by) his Persian neighbor to the east. The Baathist regime used notoriously ruthless tactics coupled with acts of 'magnanimity' (like paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers) to keep in check and gain the favor of, respectively, Islamic fundamentalists. Will a Shia majority amiable to Iran do the same? Highly unlikely.

Further, two secondary objectives (beyond the direct threat of putative WMD)--the improved security for Israel and the increase in Iraqi oil production--have both gone unfulfilled. Hitler's reincarnation--now wearing a headscarf, noticeably more swarthy, and the President of Iran--has recently called for Israel to be wiped off the map and the Holocaust a "myth". Oil production is only at about 80% of prewar capacity three years in.

Public opinion of the US in the Muslim world has deteriorated in some places (but risen in others), although it has never been good. While there's not much that is going to change that short of us replacing the Constitution with Sharia law and reinacting the Holocaust, Western boots on the ground are something for Ansar al Islam, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda to rally around.

Maybe there is a silver lining somewhere in this miasmi. A few good things have happened: Libya gave up its weapons program, and the reality of invasion has made salient to both Assad's Syria and Saudi Arabia that the US is more than empty rhetoric. The most prodigious scam in the history of the modern world--the UN Oil-for-Food program--has exposed how willing France, Russia, and China all are to work against American interests and starve emaciated Iraqi civilians for cheaper oil. And Saddam was a terrible guy who's plight--if it somehow existed in a vacuum--would be a tremendously good thing. But it may end up costing us as much as a trillion dollars, in addition to 2,100-plus deaths and almost 16,000 non-lethal casualties, amalgamated with everything discussed above appears to be on balance overwhelmingly bad.

That money could have been more prudently spent on alternative energy research to get us off dependency on the Middle East. If petroleum from the ground was obsolesced, not only would the Middle East collapse back into the 7th Century, other American antagonists like Hugo Chavez in Venezuela would take it in the teeth economically. Nuclear, photovoltaics, batteries, wind, hydro, coal-to-gas, and gas-to-liquid are all potential substitutes for ground oil.

Nuclear is already cost effective, and in fact Europe is a step ahead of the US here. France, for example, generates some 80% of its energy from nuclear, and China and Great Britain are headed in the same direction. In contrast, the US gets a paltry 5% from nuclear. Thankfully, after a thirty year hiatus Congress and the President have signed law to allow additonal nuclear plants to be built.

Whining and hindsight are easier subjects to deal in than what our next move should be. Stick our hands on our hearts, have Bush give platitudes about how we've given Iraq a chance at manifest destiny, and pull out? Or turn up the heat, engage in total war (including full-scale propaganda) and try to terrorize the populace in the Sunni Triangle to turn on the insurgents? Call in the UN? We need out of there (no more invading the world) and security at home (no more inviting the world)--including an end to or severe restriction of immigration from Islamic countries coupled with a merit immigration system rather than one based on family reunification and the use of free services.

Bush, terrorism, and interrogation (December 17 2005)

Bush looks to be in a lot of trouble:

President Bush signed a secret order in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in the United States, despite previous legal prohibitions against such domestic spying, sources with knowledge of the program said last night.
The story, made public by the NYT last night (no resting on your Iraqi election laurels, Mr. President) after that paper held it over the last year for further investigation, came as Congress was engrossed in debate over renewing various aspects of the Patriot Act. Needless to say, this revelation dealt a critical blow to the Act's supporters:

The Senate on Friday rejected attempts to reauthorize several provisions of the USA Patriot Act as infringing too much on Americans' privacy and liberty, dealing a huge defeat to the Bush administration and Republican leaders.
The National Security Agency, created under President Truman in 1952, is the largest intelligence agency in the world. Its primary work is in cryptanalysis (code breaking) and eavesdropping via a variety of media including radio, telephone, and the internet. Like the CIA, it works primarily outside of the US. In 2002, on the heels of 9/11, Bush signed an executive order giving the NSA the right to monitor American citizens communicating with someone outside the US without first obtaining a search warrant. If true, it's certainly furtive and possibly even illegal.

What is so flummoxing is why the NSA decided to go around the judicial search warrant:

While many details about the program remain secret, officials familiar with it say the N.S.A. eavesdrops without warrants on up to 500 people in the United States at any given time. The list changes as some names are added and others dropped, so the number monitored in this country may have reached into the thousands since the program began, several officials said.
In reaction to similar perceived abuses by administrations in the Vietnam era, Congress enacted the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act. FISA mandates that the US government request judicial authorization before engaging in clandestine monitoring activity of American citizens. After 9/11, the FISA judiciary court would presumably err on the side of monitoring and give the NSA plenty of leeway. Indeed, according to James Badford who has written two books on the NSA, the FISA court has only refused to grant one warrant in its almost thirty year history. If any obstruction did occur, the Bush Administration could have gone public with accusations of sedition against the court for leaving the country vulnerable by refusing to comply at a time when so much of the country was behind him.

The Bush Administration has yet to respond formally to the revelation, but this news appears to me a tremendous blow to the government's ability to aggressively gather information from potentially hostile sources. And coming on the eve of this news was the President's capitulation to Senator McCain's push for so-called anti-torture measures, banning coercive techniques like waterboarding (even though some of our finest are subject to it in SERE training).

Like most fair-minded average Joes, I hold a tenuous opinion on the interrogation question. I simply do not know and can only speculate on what I read, realizing that I'm too far removed from the practice to know the totality of what it feels like or how effective the various techniques are at extracting information. But Heather Mac Donald leads me to generally support coercive techniques:

"It didn’t take long for interrogators in the war on terror to realize that their part was not going according to script. Pentagon doctrine, honed over decades of cold-war planning, held that 95 percent of prisoners would break upon straightforward questioning. Interrogators in Afghanistan, and later in Cuba and Iraq, found just the opposite: virtually none of the terror detainees was giving up information—not in response to direct questioning, and not in response to army-approved psychological gambits for prisoners of war...

Army doctrine gives interrogators 16 “approaches” to induce prisoners of war to divulge critical information. Sporting names like “Pride and Ego Down” and “Fear Up Harsh,” these approaches aim to exploit a detainee’s self-love, allegiance to or resentment of comrades, or sense of futility. Applied in the right combination, they will work on nearly everyone, the intelligence soldiers had learned in their training...

Even if a prisoner had not previously studied American detention policies before arriving at Kandahar, he soon figured them out. “It became very clear very early on to the detainees that the Americans were just going to have them sit there,” recalls interrogator Joe Martin (a pseudonym). “They realized: ‘The Americans will give us our Holy Book, they’ll draw lines on the floor showing us where to pray, we’ll get three meals a day with fresh fruit, do Jazzercise with the guards, . . . we can wait them out.’"

This doesn't surprise me. Muslims are probably hard nuts to crack, given the austerity of orthodox Islam. If detainees do not fear what their captors might do to them, extracting information will become a virtual impossibility. Swinging in the other direction by acting chummy is unlikely to work either if the captive is evenly remotely pious--and the ones with valuable information are going to be the most devoted to jihad.

They've figured out long ago that if a terrorist falls into Western hands, the first thing to do is allege that abuse has taken place. And then do so over and over, more vociferously each time (from a confiscated Al Qaeda training manual):

At the beginning of the trial, once more the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by State Security [investigators] before the judge. Complain [to the court] of mistreatment while in prison... Take advantage of visits to communicate with brothers outside prison and exchange information
that may be helpful to them in their work outside prison [according to what occurred during the investigations]... Victory is achieved by obeying Almighty and Glorious God and because of their many sins.
Recent events do not bode well for our ability to combat Islamic terrorism. In addition to the borderline-illegal executive order, there's the alleged CIA secret prisons and the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse that won't go away. We've pulled a lot out of KSM, among others, with the use of coercive measures and other aggressive tactics. Dropping them is not going to be innocuous. The NSA's surreptitious work that circumvented FISA has been effective in some cases:

Several officials said the eavesdropping program had helped uncover a plot by Iyman Faris, an Ohio trucker and naturalized citizen who pleaded guilty in 2003 to supporting Al Qaeda by planning to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with blowtorches. What appeared to be another Qaeda plot, involving fertilizer bomb attacks on British pubs and train stations, was exposed last year in part through the program, the officials said.
Mark Bowden suggests a pragmatic 'compromise', but it's ethically distasteful:

The Bush Administration has adopted exactly the right posture on the matter. Candor and consistency are not always public virtues. Torture is a crime against humanity, but coercion is an issue that is rightly handled with a wink, or even a touch of hypocrisy; it should be banned but also quietly practiced. Those who protest coercive methods will exaggerate their horrors, which is good: it generates a useful climate of fear. It is wise of the President to reiterate U.S. support for international agreements banning torture, and it is wise for American interrogators to employ whatever coercive methods work. It is also smart not to discuss the matter with anyone.

Interrogators should have clear boundaries with which to work--it's unjust to ask them to risk their careers by dealing in gradations that they are not clear on. This dilemma highlights how difficult it is to retain personal freedoms in an atmosphere of terrorism on a massive scale. There's a trade off: More security for less freedom and vice versa. It's unsettling.

What we certainly can do, however, is fortify our own borders. Build a wall on the southern border and possibly the northern one as well (around $30 billion, or less than a year in Iraq), aggressively check freight ships at the ports, hammer companies who hire illegals, and deport those non-residents who are here illegally. Institute a merit immigration program that allows us to take the pick of the litter from the some 1.5 billion people who'd like to come to the US.

We should also look hard at ending or severely limiting immigration from the Middle East and Islamic parts of South Asia. The recent riots in France and Australia highlight how resistant Islamic culture is to assimilation. They abuse the welfare state, congregate in ethnic enclaves, and attack those hostile to their way of life. These countries are characterized by moderately low IQs--we could more than compensate for them by rolling the red carpet out to more people from Europe and East Asia. It wouldn't be a perfect filter, but it would help.

++Added++The President responded to the revelation today (December 17):

President Bush said Saturday he has no intention of stopping his personal authorizations of a post-Sept. 11 secret eavesdropping program in the U.S., lashing out at those involved in revealing it while defending it as crucial to preventing future attacks...

Bush said the program was narrowly designed and used "consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution." He said it is used only to intercept the international communications of people inside the United States who have been determined to have "a clear link" to al-Qaida or related terrorist organizations.
So it looks like the Administration is going to challenge the presumption by some that the executive order and subsequent reviews of the program were illegal.


I watched Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds this afternoon. Snazzy special effects and plenty of excitement of course. But I've no desire to comment on any of that. Besides, I don't see near enough movies to attempt anything normative in respect to the visual pleasures and aesthetics. I went to the movie for my brother's birthday--the last movie I'd seen was a year before, for the same aforementioned occasion. And I'm not too familiar with Spielberg's worldview, though I did discover that he has generously sponsored and donated to Holocaust rememberance/study foundations, which may shed some light on his stance against Islamic terrorism, something very atypical for Hollywood.

That being said, the movie offered surprisingly spineful allegory to our contemporary struggle against the "religion of peace." Some allusions I've drawn with movie parts in italics and my take following (if you're planning to see the movie but have not yet, then you may not want to read on):

The consternated city dwellers are taken completely by surprise when the killer tripods bust out of the ground. No one saw it coming, yet it is revealed to us later in the movie that these vehicles of destruction have been in place for millions of years.

Well, Islam and Salafism are only a millenia-and-a-half old, but for practical purposes they've been around forever, sitting in the ground, awaiting a warm body to use them for the purposes of destruction. Wahhabism, the particularly dangerous element within Islam, has also existed for centuries. The recent history of terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists is not something that sprung out of the blue on 9-11. They date at least as far as the 1988 bombing of PanAm flight 103. Yet everyone was blithely unaware.

Some, like the auto mechanic who gets vaporized after fixing Cruise's getaway vehicle, remain oblivious even after the major attacks have started. He actually goes after Cruise for overreacting to the threat.

There exists plenty of people who downplay the threat posed by Islamic terrorism, some claiming the West deserves what it gets, and other quixotic dunderheads patently deny that any such threat exists at all. Private groups (ACLU, Amnesty International, etc), academia, and the media form the axis of such beliefs. Until a dirty bomb rips their homes apart, their opinions are not going to change.

Constant bickering between Cruise and his two kids threaten their collective survival on several occasions.

A house divided inevitably falls. Predictably, less than a day after the London bombings, partisans were making vicious attacks on Bush and Blair foreign policiy as these leaders were essentially blamed for the bombings. I, like most people, have plenty of concerns with our foreign and domestic policies. But family members screaming at one another while the reaper closes in does no one any good.

Cruise's son is the first character to become visibly angry at the alien destroyers. Surveying the damage around his father's house, his gritted teeth make clear that he doesn't want to run and hide; he wants to exact revenge. The terror-struck daughter is too shocked to display any emotion but fear. Cruise, the one putatively in charge, is notably the most ambiguous in his reaction.

Public sentiment on Islamo-fascist terrorism: Some people panic, some want to hide, some are indifferent, and some want to strike back. Meanwhile, the one's on top try to triangulate everything to please everyone, and consequently have little personal conviction. Bush takes a hard-line in Afghanistan and the Middle East, but leaves our borders ripe for breach. He talks about winning hearts and minds by understanding Middle Eastern culture, yet we bend-over backward to avoid offending rabid animals by treating them like royalty even while they're imprisoned, ignoring a fundamental aspect of Asia Minor's culture: never compromise.

While driving the acquired vehicle through a city on their way to Boston, Cruise and company are surrounded by the rabble wishing to hitch a ride. As they insult and attack Cruise for what he is doing, he tells his kids "they're only envious." Cruise's crew is ousted, and another driver takes over. He is subsequently attacked in a way like Cruise and then he is shot and killed.

Hard-liners are in the van, and the critics (read Western Europe) are mauling it as it drives along. Criticism of US policy's lack of concern for human rights, especially those regarding the treatment of detainees in places like Gitmo, comes from places that have policies that are often harsher than those in the US when it comes to dealing with potential enemies of the state. In France, for example, as many as 70% of the prison population is Muslim, even though Muslims make up around 10% of the French population (this is proportionately much more imbalanced than that of black vs white prison rates in the US--in other words, Muslims pose an order of magnitude more danger in France than blacks do here in the US). In the Netherlands, talk of ending Middle Eastern immigration altogether is in the air. Those who are in the position to respond to the threat Islam poses (ie countries that have militaries, like the US, GB, and Australia) are rabidly criticized by others who are similarly threatened but lack the means to do anything about it (western powers who have no military might or backbone, like France and Germany).

When Cruise and his daughter take shelter with the eccentric Tim Robbins character, Robbins notes that history tells us no occupying army can ever win.

US boots on the ground in the Middle East are not going to transform the place into a haven for the US. It's too costly to stay, the soldiers become easy targets for terrorists, and enemies of the West become galvanized by people on their home turf. Robbins believes that the aliens are making a fatal mistake if they try to hang around on earth with humans still living, because it will unite humanity in its will to resist, and it will drain resources from the aliens. Also, the aliens are essentially leveling the playing field when they should be utilizing an enormous technological advantage (why are we fighting street-to-street urban warfare when the air force could incinerate the insurgent hotbeds without losing a soldier?).

Robbins wants to go underground, to fight the aliens in secret.

I understand his sentiment. But I suppose Spielberg's message is that it is foolish for the US to alter its principles to combat terrorism. That is, no clandestine torturing, dealing with monsters (like most of the House of Sa'ud), or targeting civilians. I hope we don't have to resort to such extremes, but interestingly after Cruise takes Robbins out, he basically does exactly what Robbins was going to do: he attacks the unsuspecting alien probe. Personally, I thought the whole underground bunker scene was dopey.

After being imprisoned in the metal cages, the aliens come after Cruise to gobble him up and feed on his blood. As the first few victims are selected, people scramble vainly to avoid be taken just then, even though it is clear that they will eventually be destroyed as well. But by the time Cruise is nabbed, an American soldier leaps to try and pull him back while yelling for everyone else in the cage to do the same. The group does so, and, unified, they are able to free him from the alien ship's grasp (after he's cleverly hurled grenades into it). The cage contingent was conspicuously multi-cultural.

This is a conventionally straightforward measure of the need for unity despite differences when calamity strikes. When going their separate ways, they are easily picked off, but united they are able to obliterate their common foe. I'm not a fan of multiculturalism and wish we'd do more to promote cultural values that work rather than accepting everything, good or bad. But when it's something as clear-cut as the difference between life and death for all of civilization, it is definitely good to have everyone standing together.

Nature/God takes out the aliens in the end. History favors those that have survived and functioned increasingly well for eons.

Two points: One, God is on the side of civilization--the pseudo-deity of Islamic extremism is going to be trumped. Two, memes are subject to natural selection as well (in an artificial way). The nihilist aspirations of extremist fanatics will be beaten by the progressive culture of the West. It will be a bloody struggle, but civilization will eventually come out on top. Let's hope Spielberg's prescient on this one.

It's been nearly four years since the Twin Towers came down--the fire, the smoke, the planes, the frantic news coverage, and the chilling pictures of those who chose free-fall over fire. In our world of three-minute ditties, that is an eternity. Most people can hardly remember what they were doing last night. We are, however, quite perceptive (and overly emotive) when it comes to things happening in the here-and-now. We hear something infuriating, our blood pressure rises, and we make a mental note against the source of our anger. We file the irk, and we move on until some new stimuli is received that alters our feeling (which tends to lose intensity over time).

On 9-11, we collectively made note of the extreme Wahhabi and Salafist Islamo-fascist wolves bent on the destruction of all infidels (everyone but themselves). Fast-forward four years. No longer united, many within see the US as far more dangerous than the aforementioned killers. Enter the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, the Red Cross, and Amnesty International to lead the charge against aggressive policies aimed at beating global terrorism in an attempt to have us redirect our anger and sadness from 9-11 towards America and away from the jihadists. These groups despise President Bush and advocate the death of the West. The most visible object of their disdain is the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Willingly, they are useful idiots:

Although Red Cross employees did not personally witness any mishandling of
Qurans, Schorno said, they documented and corroborated enough reports from
detainees to share them with Pentagon and Guantanamo officials in confidential
reports. Schorno said the Red Cross would not have raised the issue if it had
been an isolated incident, but he would not offer specifics about the number of
Of course he wouldn't. He'd be exposed if he did so. A common thread running through all these complaints is that they are based almost exclusively on allegations (which we'll get to shortly). There are a few confirmed cases of "mistreatment", but even these sparse cases cannot honestly be considered abuse:

They include a guard deliberately kicking the holy book as well as someone writing an obscenity in a Quran. A guard's urine also splashed on a prisoner's Quran... In another confirmed incident, water balloons thrown by prison guards caused an unspecified number of Qurans to get wet.
Their holy book has been disrespected by US personnel in isolated cases. Of course, the prisoners have desecrated some of the 1,600 copies generously given to them by the US military:

White House officials note that the investigation also found 15 cases of detainees mishandling their own Qurans.
So three times as many Korans have been damaged by the detainees as by US military personnel, and no hard abuse has been substantiated. There is no reason to continue to harp on the fact that the US treats these enemies of civilization with respect and dignity, even while free citizens in the Middle East can be brutalized for simply carrying a Bible. The previously mentioned anti-American groups are comprised of nihilistic Marxists who take moral equivocation to its extreme and will ally with the Islamo-fascists without hesitation to forward their own agenda. What we need not forget is that the jihadists are trained to allege abuse as soon as they are captured. An Al Qaeda training manual reads:

At the beginning of the trial, once more the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by State Security [investigators] before the judge. Complain [to the court] of mistreatment while in prison... Take advantage of visits to communicate with brothers outside prison and exchange information that may be helpful to them in their work outside prison [according to what occurred during the investigations]... Victory is achieved by obeying Almighty and Glorious God and because of their many sins.

The anti-American groups are more than happy to grant credence to the jihadist's allegations. Of course, the jihadists do advocate and employ the use of torture for their own purposes (under the section "Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages"):

We find permission to interrogate the hostage for the purpose of obtaining information. It is permitted to strike the nonbeliever who has no covenant until he reveals the news, information, and secrets of his people. The religious scholars have also permitted the killing of a hostage if he insists on withholding information from Moslems.

We are fighting a war two fronts. Our military, the best in the world, will eradicate the Islamo-fascist vermin on the battlefield. But the other front is waged in the realm of public opinion, and each one of us is involved in that fight. In Sleeping with the Devil, former CIA agent Robert Baer tersely describes the mindset of the enemy (p105):

Promising revenge; placing family, allies, and pawns in positions of power and influence; and above all, never compromising.

He was talking about the jihadist culture, but he might as well have been describing the anti-American groups noted earlier. Appeasement has never worked. We should not be fooled into buying the tripe the anti-American groups try to sell us, and our leaders should not have to bend to these group's destructive will. Keep in mind who these threats are, how they operate, and most importantly, what they are trying to do--destroy civilization as we know it.

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