Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Iraqi "new school"

The new school year is set to begin in Iraq, and it should be a school year like none other.

This is the beginning of a new era, with a new vision for education," said Education Minister Aladin Alwan, as he opened a teacher-training seminar last week. "We have to rebuild and reorient our education system."

Most of Iraq's schools and colleges have emerged from 13 years of international sanctions and a wave of postwar looting in pitiful shape, stripped of even the simplest teaching aids.

Two generations of underpaid, undermotivated teachers hemmed in by the former Baathist government's ideological restrictions have given their classes a "rigid, shallow, and passive" education, in the words of Leslye Arsht, a US adviser at the Ministry of Education.

The first task has been simply to get Iraq's schools and universities ready to receive students.

At the Al Rawabi school in the Al Mustansria district of Baghdad, where Mr. Hamid's 25-strong crew has been working 15 hours a day since the beginning of the month, that means giving the whole place a complete makeover.

"It hadn't been looted, but it was like all schools in Iraq," Hamid says. "The ceiling was leaking, all the tiles and windows were broken, some of the doors were missing. We've put in new plumbing, new toilets, rewired everywhere, laid new floors in the classrooms, and repainted. It makes me happy to do this kind of work for the kids' future."

[...]

Equipping the schools will take longer. As a first step the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is handing out to each of Iraq's 1.5 million secondary school children a blue canvas satchel filled with workbooks, pencils, ballpoint pens, an eraser, a ruler, a protractor and compasses, and a pocket calculator, all loudly emblazoned with the USAID logo.

[...]

Those kids who do show up will find some things missing from their schoolbooks, mainly the once pervasive portraits of Saddam Hussein.

An Education Ministry committee has been through more than 500 textbooks, excising all references to the former dictator and his Baath party from pictures, poems, texts, and math problems.

Math problems?

Fear not Senator Patty Murray, we have taken a page out of bin Laden's play book after all.


Monday, September 29, 2003

South Korea, Saudi style

I would expect this from Saudi Arabia but not from South Korea.

The United States is trying to persuade South Korean educators to tone down anti-Americanism in textbooks, standardized tests and lessons in middle and high schools.

Although anti-American sentiment, which reached a peak last year, is declining, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul is worried about how the United States is being presented in the classroom and it intends to do something about it.

"We are moving pretty aggressively on this," a senior U.S. diplomat here said in an interview.

[...]

The embassy was particularly alarmed by a test that members of the Korean Teachers and Educational Workers' Union, an alternative union not recognized by the state, gave their students soon after the war in Iraq began in the spring.

"It's so anti-American, it's amazing," the senior diplomat said about the multiple-choice quiz, an English translation of which the embassy provided to The Washington Times.

[...]

One of the possible answers to another question asks rhetorically: "If the war against Iraq started because the country has [weapons of mass destruction], then doesn't this mean that the United States, which possesses the greatest amount of WMD in the world, should be attacked by U.N. forces?"


Sunday, September 28, 2003

Bolton, but not Michael

This is some text from John R. Bolton's report to the House International Relations Committee and Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia regarding Syria. John R. Bolton has been Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security since 2001.

We have seen Syria take a series of hostile actions toward Coalition forces in Iraq. Syria allowed military equipment to flow into Iraq on the eve of and during the war. Syria permitted volunteers to pass into Iraq to attack and kill our service members during the war, and is still doing so. Syria continues to provide safe haven and political cover to Hizballah in Lebanon, which has killed hundreds of Americans in the past. Statements from many of Syria's public officials during this time vilified the Coalition's motives in seeking to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Indeed, the United States portrayed as an enemy is a consistent theme found in newspapers and public statements in Syria as it is in other states in the region. Although Damascus has increased its cooperation regarding Iraq since the fall of the Iraqi regime, its behavior during Operation Iraqi Freedom underscores the importance of taking seriously reports and information on Syria's WMD capabilities.

So, nothing to worry about, right?


Saturday, September 27, 2003

General Michel Aoun

This just further proves what a farce the situation in Lebanon is.

Lebanon pressed charges on Thursday against an exiled former army general over anti-Syria remarks backing a U.S. draft law designed to counter terrorism.

Judicial sources said Lebanese General Michel Aoun was charged with ''tarnishing the standing of the state'' of Lebanon, where Syria is the main powerbroker, and with inflaming sectarian tensions

[...]

The ex-general, who lost a conflict with Syrian troops late in Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war and lives in exile in Paris, compared Syria to an ''organised crime syndicate'' in testimony to U.S. lawmakers a week ago backing the Syria Accountability Act.

[...]

Syria poured troops into Lebanon early in the civil war to rescue Christian militias from defeat by Muslim, Palestinian and leftist forces, but turned on them when they sided with Israel.

Many Lebanese Christians resent Syria for its role in a post-war political settlement that has entrenched its place in Lebanon and diminished the traditional political power of Christians in favour of the country's Muslim communities.

So, basically, Lebanon is "pressing charges" against one of its former military generals for remarks he made in France regarding Syria. Who could take this seriously?

General Michel Aoun does have some interesting things to say, however. Here are some words from a speech he made to The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (a great organization in its own right):

Since 1990, the Syrian regime has been undertaking the systematic destruction of the very infrastructure of Lebanese society. Throughout all political and administrative institutions of the state, Syria has installed puppets that take their orders directly from Syrian intelligence officers. These minions are required to execute their wishes and justify their policies. Syria has broken up each political party into numerous sub-entities and imposed on them a single ideology.

In addition to falsifying election results to ensure the success of Syrian allies, a new law prior to each round of election was put in place in order to custom-tailor the boundaries of electoral districts in favor of Syrian allies.

Syria has enforced a policy of self-censorship on the media. For example, the MTV television station was shut down because it did not always abide by the non-constitutional directives of the authorities and the ban imposed on covering certain political figures.

The authorities have converted the judiciary into an instrument of revenge against its opponents and subjected it to its security apparatus. The justice system has become selective, pre-suppositive, presumptive, and defamatory, as accusations preceded investigations and verdicts are issued based on political decisions. Arbitrary arrests, beatings, and torture of detainees have become ordinary in the life of Lebanese citizens, in addition to the fabrication of judicial files to be used as threats against targeted individuals.

The Syrian regime has all but eliminated Lebanon from the international political map. It has halted all bilateral negotiations between Israel and Lebanon, thus bypassing the bilateral nature of peace negotiations. It rendered the prospect of peace between Lebanon and Israel contingent upon the dragging and slow process of the Syrian track with Israel. It forced the Lebanese government to submit to its will and not implement UN resolution 426 which calls for the deployment of Lebanese Army Forces alongside the United Nations Forces following Israel’s implementation of resolution 425 and its withdrawal from South Lebanon. On the issue of the Shebaa Farms, the Syrian regime created a pretext not to disarm its allied militias, which it has used to maintain tensions at the Lebanese southern borders and terrorize those Lebanese citizens demanding the withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanese soil.

In addition to the sad reality of the political and security aspects of their lives, the economic reality for the Lebanese people is even worse. A haphazard fiscal policy has been imposed on Lebanon that is modulated according to the interests of a corrupt ruling class, and which has no basis in any modern or sound economic and scientific standards and rules. This economic policy is based on financing unproductive projects and programs and accumulating debt at unnecessarily high interest rates, and then spending without any transparency, accountability, or oversight. In addition to approaching a state of bankruptcy, the public sector has crowded out the private sector and the level of productive economic activities and productivity has diminished. Privatization has stalled with empty promises. Government interference in the market has drastically increased. The middle class has all but vanished, and the ranks of the poor have swelled. Illiteracy has soared even after being nearly eliminated in the past. One third of the Lebanese people have been forced to emigrate due to the government’s economic policies, which incidentally twenty years of war could not accomplish. While some societies have organized crime as one element of corruption to deal with, Lebanese society has indeed become, thanks to the Syrian occupation, totally owned and ruled by a Mafia class to which most corruption in the country can be attributed.

Well said my friend.


Jordan, but not the country

The American ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan, has left his post amidst some apparent controversy. Reports state that Mr. Jordan quit due to ubiquitous "personal reasons" and that he was in good standing with the Saudis before he left. Speaking of Mr. Jordan, Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan stated that he was "one of the most distinguished U.S. ambassadors to serve in the kingdom [of Saudi Arabia]." Prince Bandar also stated "Ambassador Jordan made many friends in the kingdom and gained the respect of everyone who had the opportunity to work with him. I am proud to call him my friend, and I will continue to seek his wise counsel."

However, there have been other reports suggesting that the Saudi government pressured the US to remove Mr. Jordan from his post because "he publicly sided with the pro-U.S. contender for the throne who backs limits on the influence of Islamic clerics." This would not be the first time that a US ambassador was asked to leave Saudi Arabia. In 1988 Ambassador Hume Horan was asked to leave Saudi Arabia after he chided the Saudis for buying missiles from China.


Friday, September 26, 2003

Worse yet...Arafat's sex slave!

Is this how Arafat gets his bombers? And how Osama adds to the clan?

Afghan authorities have rescued 85 boys who had been abducted, possibly for trafficking abroad, the BBC reported Thursday.

Some 50 children, some as young as four, from the northern province of Badakhshan were rescued by Afghan police as they travelled by road through a neighboring province.

Authorities suspect the boys were destined for religious schools in Pakistan and Iran, although they also suspect they may have been destined for sale as sex slaves abroad.

I'm not sure which one is worse, being a sex slave or being brain washed in a Pakistani "religious school." Here is a scary thought: do you think the Taliban would have stopped this sort of behavior? How could one be opposed to fighting a war against people like this?


Cut and run

Well, the UN has decided to cut and run:

Making a strong statement about the magnitude of security problems in Iraq, Secretary General Kofi Annan decided today to remove most of the United Nations' remaining 86 foreign staff members there.

And these are the guys that want to be responsible for security in Iraq?


Pinch me

The civil war in Sudan is growing closer to an end:

One of Africa's longest-running and deadliest wars took a major turn toward peace today as the government of Sudan agreed to withdraw most of its troops from the rebel-held south of the country and begin integrating its soldiers with those of the rebels in a unified army.

The accord between the government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army will take years to come to fruition, even without setbacks. Still, the security agreement signed today at this Kenyan resort was heralded as the most significant step toward peace since fighting began in 1983.

Two million people, mostly civilians, have died from bullets and bombs as well as war-induced disease and famine. Those who have survived have faced untold suffering in a country that is rich in oil resources but nevertheless as poor as any on the continent.

The religious dimension of the conflict — the north is Islamic and most of the southern rebels belong to the Christian and animist minorities — has turned the war into a pet cause of many American religious conservatives. African-Americans have expressed outrage about government-backed militias' practice of taking southerners into forced servitude.

Responding to the outcry, the Bush administration has pushed hard since its earliest days for an end to the war. A lasting peace in Sudan would enable the White House to claim victory in stabilizing a mostly Muslim country at a time when Iraq appears more chaotic by the day.

Administration officials have made it clear that Sudan will remain isolated, with sanctions in place and limited diplomatic relations, until there is peace.

Today's deal builds on an agreement signed in July 2002 in Machakos, Kenya, that set forth the outlines of Sudan's future. A referendum is to be held in six years to allow those in the south to decide on unity or independence. Until then Sudan will have a transitional government and army.

Peace in Sudan....Libya turning in to a tourist destination....what's next?


Thursday, September 25, 2003

How about a loan, Yasir?

It seems that the Palestinians need more money:

UNRWA said it would not be able to meet the full needs of Palestinians living in dire conditions under the Israeli occupation unless donor countries managed to secure the $103 million emergency appeal the agency launched in June.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees launched the appeal to fund food aid, shelter reconstruction, job creation schemes and other emergency humanitarian relief in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

But to date, the agency has managed to only secure pledges from the international community that will provide $38 million — $31 million of that was donated by the US.

I don't doubt that the average Palestinian needs financial help and I don't wish poor living conditions on anyone. However, perhaps the UNRWA could ask Yasir Arafat for a loan. Israeli intelligence pegs his personal wealth at 1.3 billion US dollars and Forbes magazine says he's worth "at least" 300 million.


On sanctions

Some have said that it is time to end the sanctions against Cuba and North Korea because they are not effective.

But here is a great example of how sanctions have begun to change one country for the better:

Libya is planning a major image-building campaign to emerge from the shadow of ostracism and rejoin the international community, which for years treated it as a pariah.

The campaign will follow the pledge of multimillion-dollar payments to the families of the victims of two air crashes blamed on Libyan agents. The payments are expected to finalize the lifting of United Nations sanctions against the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi, which included a ban on arms sales and air links with Libya.

[...]

In recent years Col. Gadhafi has kept a low profile after a flamboyant career and much meddling in African and Arab affairs.

According to West European diplomats, the Libyan leader wants to "obtain a good conduct certificate after the errors of the past," which caused Libya's isolation for 15 years.

[...]

"Has the leopard changed his spots?" asked the London-based Middle East monthly, adding: "The much ridiculed 'international pariah' has taken steps to transform himself into something of an elder statesman. ... No more training terrorists for obscure revolutionary causes or menacing his neighbors by backing opposition parties or demanding federation or unity."

Col. Gadhafi, who seized power in 1969, is now the longest continuous ruler in the Arab world. According to Libyan officials, he wants to "throw Libya's door wide open" to the outside world, including a campaign to encourage tourism.

Plans, still largely on paper, call for privatization of the tourist sector, vaunting Libya's ancient historic sites, climate, and 1,000 miles of unspoiled beaches. Last June 13, the country's first "tourism ministry" was formed, with an objective of attracting 3 million visitors by the year 2008.

These things take patience, fortitude, and determination. Staying the course (sanctions and all) will help to bring down the regimes in N. Korea and Cuba. Deviating from the course will only tell these evil regimes that if they wait long enough the US will give in.


Germany and the hijab

It looks like the hijab crowd has won a battle in Germany (although it's doomed to lose the war).

Germany's highest court confirmed the right of a female Muslim teacher to wear a headscarf in the classroom, but also said states could choose to enact legislation banning the same. That's exactly what many plan to do.

Fereshta Ludina's victory was a short-lived one. A day after Germany's Constitutional Court ruled in her favor and said Stuttgart school authorities were wrong to bar her from a teaching job because she insisted on wearing a headscarf in the classroom, several German states have announced plans to change their laws to enact such a ban.

Ludin, a 31-year-old Afghanistan native was banned from taking up post to teach English and German teacher in primary and secondary schools in 1998, because she insisted on wearing her headscarf, or hijab as it is known in Arabic, in the classroom for religious reasons. The board of education in the state of Baden Wurttemberg argued at the time that her headscarf would violate the state's neutrality on religion.

[...]

A string of German states have now issued statements saying they plan to introduce legislation that would ban Muslim teachers from wearing the headscarf in the future in state-run schools and thus preserve the states' neutral stance on religion.

The state of Hesse was one of the first to react. "Our constitution is based on a Christian-occidental tradition and portrays a value system, which the teachers have to follow," Education Minister Karin Wolff of the conservative Christian Democratic Union party said. She added the state "would begin to draw up legislation to ban headscarves in the classroom as soon as possible."

[...]

Other states, including Lower-Saxony, Bremen and Berlin, have also announced they will introduce legislation to enact a headscarf ban in schools. Lower-Saxony Education Minister Bernd Busemann stressed, "the state's responsibility for religious neutrality is an indispensable thing, that shouldn't be allowed to be diluted."


Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Moore lies

Michael Moore is still bitter, still angry, and lying through his "blue collar" teeth.

Moore wrote this statement, in reference to Wesley Clark:

My wife and I were invited over to a neighbor's home 12 days ago where Clark told those gathered that certain people, acting on behalf of the Bush administration, called him immediately after the attacks on September 11th and asked him to go on TV to tell the country that Saddam Hussein was "involved" in the attacks. He asked them for proof, but they couldn't provide any. He refused their request.

This is a downright lie. Clark did not receive such a phone call from anyone representing the Bush administration and has admitted it in a letter that he himself wrote to the New York Times. In that letter, Clark states:

I would like to correct any possible misunderstanding of my remarks on ''Meet the Press,'' quoted in Paul Krugman's July 15 column, about ''people around the White House'' seeking to link Sept. 11 to Saddam Hussein.

I received a call from a Middle East think tank outside the country, asking me to link 9/11 to Saddam Hussein. No one from the White House asked me to link Saddam Hussein to Sept. 11.

I don't think this is the sort of thing Michael Moore would miss. Therefore I can only conjecture that he is willfully try to pass off a lie as the truth.


Djibouti

Doug Saunders has written an absolutely fascinating article detailing the lesser known aspects of the war on terror. For example, take the US involvement in Djibouti:

Even American generals have to search for it on a map. It is a tiny, barren speck of sand and lava rock on Africa's upper right-hand corner, a country with no tangible economy, no arable land, no tourism, no reason to matter to anyone other than its 640,000 inhabitants.

That is, until the war on terrorism came along. During the two Iraq wars, the United States used Djibouti's conveniently empty desert for training and war simulations. The generals were impressed with what they found: a nearly vacant stretch of land right across the Red Sea from the Persian Gulf nations, and right next to the eastern African nations believed to be the "next Afghanistan" for their burgeoning community of Islamist terrorists.

Even better, the government of Djibouti was a lot more amenable to American soldiers than was Saudi Arabia, the traditional U.S. base in the region. For only a few million dollars, the Americans could do virtually anything they wanted -- and Djibouti would do almost anything the Americans want.

In August, the United States turned its temporary station at Djibouti's Camp Lemonier into permanent headquarters for the war on terrorism, setting up elaborate electronic listening posts and erecting a small city of concrete buildings. More than 2,000 troops are now stationed there, with more expected to arrive as the United States vacates Saudi Arabia. They will spend years, maybe decades, keeping a close watch on the unstable territories of Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan.

"If I was a terrorist, I'd be going to places like Africa," Sergeant Jim Lewis of the U.S. Army said recently at the Djibouti headquarters. "That's why we're here. To seek them out, do whatever we can to find and kill them."

But Djibouti is typical of the strange new alliances the United States is willing to enter -- and of the abuses it is willing to tolerate in order to achieve its goals. This year, it wrote cheques for $31-million to the tiny country, making it one of the larger recipients of U.S. aid. The cheques go to the government of President Ismael Omar Guelleh, whose party won all the seats in January's general election. Opposition leader Daher Ahed Farah complained that his Democratic Renewal Party received 37 per cent of the vote but failed to win a seat. For his criticisms, he was arrested in March and thrown into Djibouti's notorious Gabode prison. Other opposition leaders are forced to live in exile in France.

The State Department officially says Djibouti's human-rights record has "serious problems," but the Bush administration seems to see this as a potential asset. Last week, Djibouti expelled 100,000 residents, or 15 per cent of its population, to neighboring countries. One government official explained that these foreign-born residents are "a threat to the peace and security of the country . . . How do we know whether an individual is a terrorist biding his time to cause harm, or not?" The official denied reports that the United States had requested the expulsions.

The poor human-rights record has not hurt Mr. Gullah's relations with his allies. In late January, shortly after the questionable election, he visited Washington and was personally fêted by President George WE. Bush, National Security Adviser Condoles Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rusted -- a level of access beyond the reach of leaders such as Prime Minister Jean Chertier.


Emergency!

A fatwa issued by the "fatwa committee" of the Al Azhar Mosque has put it at odds with the Sheikh and leader of Al Azhar, Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi.

Al Azhar is one of the oldest and most influential mosques in Egypt.

A fatwa issued on 26 August by Nabawi Muhammad Al Eish, a member of the fatwa committee at Al Azhar has caused a controversy in Dar Al Iftaa (the Al Azhar body responsible for overseeing interpretations and fatwas) and put the top religious authority in the country, the Sheikh of Al Azhar, in another tense situation with Islamic scholars and researchers.

The controversial fatwa–issued without the approval of Dar Al Iftaa–states that dealing with Iraq’s governing council is haram (sacrilegious) because it was not established on the basis of Al Sharia Al Islamiya (Islamic laws) and because it was not elected by the Iraqi people, but rather appointed by the occupying power.

According to the fatwa, signed by Al Eish, no Islamic or Arab country should deal with the "illegitimate" governing council in Iraq and any country that violates this ban should be warned by the other Islamic countries. If it does not listen to the warning, other Islamic countries are then prohibited from dealing with or have relationships with that country.

Al Eish states in the fatwa that Iraq is an Islamic country that might lose its "Islamic identity" if it is not governed by a legitimate Islamic council chosen and elected freely by Iraqis. He adds that Iraq might lose the riches and stability given by God if Iraqis do not move toward having a legitimate government.

You want to talk about "legitimate government"? Egypt has officially been in a state of emergency for the past 22 years in order to suppress dissent.

Egypt's parliament has approved a three-year extension of its 22-year-old state of emergency in light of the possible U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

[...]

That seems to suit President Hosni Mubarak, who has loosened the laws occasionally over the past 22 years, but never lifted the state of emergency since he took power n 1981.

[...]

Since 1981, when the emergency was declared after president Anwar Sadat was assassinated by radical Muslim army officers, Egypt's secret service has taken advantage of the law, said Hisham Kassem, chairman of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.

The security agency even violates the emergency law under which it is supposed to operate, he said.

"Under emergency laws, they can detain someone for six months without a judge. Now they detain people for years on end in violation of the emergency law," he said.

Let's hope Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi can win this battle. Of course, this is the same guy who has stated that "every martyrdom operation against any Israeli, including children, women, and teenagers, is a legitimate act according to [Islamic] religious law, and an Islamic commandment, until the people of Palestine regain their land and cause the cruel Israeli aggression to retreat."

There are so few good guys left...


Monday, September 22, 2003

It's a honor to be nominated

My humble little blog has been singled out as the best example of evil American conservatism run amok.


Sunday, September 21, 2003

Blix vs. Butler

Juxtaposition of the day: Hans Blix and Richard Butler, both former chief weapons inspectors for the United Nations.

Blix, from a Reuters article:

Former U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix on Thursday attacked the "spin and hype" behind U.S. and British allegations of banned Iraqi weapons used to justify war against Saddam Hussein.

Blix, who said this week he believed Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction 10 years ago, told BBC radio that the United States and Britain "over-interpreted" intelligence about Baghdad's weapons programs.

[...]

Blix compared London and Washington to medieval witch-hunters, saying they convinced themselves on the basis of evidence which was later discredited, including forged documents about alleged attempts to buy uranium for nuclear weapons.

[...]

Blix said a pre-war British dossier on Iraqi weapons "leads the reader to conclusions that are a little further-reaching" than was the case.

"What in a way stands accused is the culture of spin, the culture of hyping.... Advertisers will advertise a refrigerator in terms that we don't quite believe in, but we expect governments to be more serious and have more credibility," he said.

Blix, from an ABC report:

When asked if the March 20 invasion that led to the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime was justified, Dr Blix said "No, I don't think so".

And now Butler:

"Terrorists cannot be ignored" was the message at the annual convention of the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association on Friday at the Tropicana Casino and Resort.

Ambassador Richard Butler, former chief United Nations weapons inspector for Iraq, told a couple hundred people that as a nation, we must respond to terrorists - or as Butler refers to them, "nonstate actors."

"These people don't represent anyone," Butler said. "They don't speak for a government. They have come to behave like a state. They use force but not in self-defense. We saw that in 9-11. We saw nonstate actors in their modern form."

Terrorists are nothing more than people who commit indiscriminate homicide to promote their point of view, Butler, the keynote speaker, said with a thick Australian accent.

"They don't know the faces of the people they are killing. They don't want to know," he said.

Butler was chief U.N. inspector in the 1990s and is an expert in weapons of mass destruction. He also has been in foreign service for Australia for 30 years.

Butler said the obvious and most defining events of the 21st century thus far are 9-11 and the invasion of Iraq.

He said the United States and its allies had no choice but to invade Iraq and overthrow Sadaam Hussein's government.

Butler likened Saddam to Adolf Hitler and said the evil dictator used the weapons on live people.

"I want to be plain about this," Butler's voice heightened. "The overthrow of Sadaam Hussein was justified whether or not there was reluctance to authorize it. ... No one could say it is wrong to overthrow a homicidal maniac. The Security Council sat on its hands for 10 years."

As for not finding these weapons allegedly in Iraq, Butler said he is sure Saddam had them. He said Saddam was addicted to the deadly weapons, and whether they are still in Iraq but hidden, moved or destroyed, they did exist.

"Don't believe those who say they aren't there just because we haven't found them. Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," Butler told the crowd. "Iraq certainly did have weapons of mass destruction. Trust me. I held some in my own hands."


Saturday, September 20, 2003

More on those famous North Korean nukes

It has been reported that some "American intelligence analysts" now believe that North Korea may have up to six nuclear weapons. The CIA has, in past, claimed that North Korea may have up to two such weapons.

Some American intelligence analysts are becoming increasingly concerned that North Korea may have three, four or even six nuclear weapons instead of the one or two the CIA now estimates. Every new weapon would enhance North Korea's nuclear capability and give the country significantly more authority at the negotiating table, experts say. One or two nuclear weapons would be considered last-resort devices, because once used they could no longer deter a US nuclear response. But a half-dozen would give North Korea the ability to strike and then be ready to strike again.

I would think that if North Korea launched a nuclear capable missile at the US it would never, ever have the ability to strike again thanks to a couple well placed Minuteman III's. The fact of the matter is that if North Korea has any nuclear weapons, it is most likely to use them on South Korea or Japan, the US's biggest allies in the region.


Friday, September 19, 2003

"Sexed up" indeed

BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, who claimed to have obtained information from someone inside Britain's intelligence service proving that Tony Blair "sexed up" the information used in making the case for war in Iraq, has now admited that he had no such information from anyone inside Britain's intelligence service. Further, Mr. Gilligan has admitted that he made several errors in his report that made the "sexed up" claims. In addition, Mr. Gilligan has admitted that he failed to correct the errors the BBC made in defense of his original report.

The BBC radio journalist who reported that Prime Minister Tony Blair's aides had used dubious intelligence data to exaggerate the case for war with Iraq today conceded he made several mistakes in his original broadcasts, including misidentifying his source as a member of Britain's intelligence services.

Andrew Gilligan, testifying before a public inquiry, also acknowledged that he had failed to correct several false statements made by the BBC in defense of his reports. And Gilligan apologized for sending an e-mail message to two members of Parliament that identified the confidential source of another BBC journalist's report on Iraq's access to weapons of mass destruction.

"It was quite wrong to send it and I can only apologize," Gilligan told the inquiry, which is investigating the apparent suicide of weapons expert David Kelly, Gilligan's confidential source for his original report. "I was under an enormous amount of pressure at this time and I simply was not thinking straight."

[...]

Gilligan's report set off a political storm here. Blair and his chief aide, Alastair Campbell, heatedly denied it, accused Gilligan of lying and demanded a retraction. Their attack, in turn, caused the BBC to dig in its heels. BBC officials issued a number of statements giving full backing to the reporter even after Kelly told the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee he had not said some of the things Gilligan had reported.

Now who's "sexing" things up?


A partner in peace

Yasser Arafat asks the question:

"Is there anyone in Palestine who does not dream of martyrdom?"

And the European Union believes that this man is interested in peace?



Thursday, September 18, 2003

The ICC

Columbia has just signed an agreement that would prohibit it from turning any US citizen over to the International Criminal Court.

Colombia will need approval from the United States before surrendering any US citizen to the International Criminal Court (ICC) under an agreement signed by the two governments.

The deal is expected to normalise relations between the two countries after the US suspended a $US5 million aid package for Colombia in July when it refused to safeguard US citizens from the ICC.

Washington threatened to suspend an additional $US130 million in aid if Colombia did not sign a non-extradition pact.

The US, which is not a signatory to the ICC, funds large sections of the Colombian military.

[...]

The US says it fears the ICC may be used for politically motivated prosecutions of current and former US officials, soldiers or citizens.

Many countries, including all of the countries that make up the European Union, have made similar agreements with the US regarding the ICC. The State Department summarizes its opposition to the ICC this way:

We believe the ICC undermines the role of the United Nations Security Council in maintaining international peace and security.

We believe in checks and balances. The Rome Statute creates a prosecutorial system that is an unchecked power.

We believe that in order to be bound by a treaty, a state must be party to that treaty. The ICC asserts jurisdiction over citizens of states that have not ratified the treaty. This threatens US sovereignty.

We believe that the ICC is built on a flawed foundation. These flaws leave it open for exploitation and politically motivated prosecutions.

A more in depth explanation is located here.

The world makes certain demands of the US militarily. It expects the US to militarily help in areas that we may not even have any strategic interest in, such as Liberia, Bosnia, Serbia, the Sinai peninsula, and East Timor. So, in the interest of being a good global citizen and living up to the world's expectations, the US commits troops, money, and other resources to peacekeeping/military actions at the request of the world community. Because of this unique role, and because the US takes a disproportionate responsibility in securing peace in foreign countries, the US should be allowed certain benefits to protect our troops. It's good to see that the world, for the most part, agrees.


Wednesday, September 17, 2003

It's getting better every day

The Economist reports some good news regarding Afghanistan:

Many, perhaps all, of the terrorist training camps in the country have been destroyed. A soon-to-be-released study by foreign and local aid agencies suggests most Afghans think security has improved. Incrementally, optimists say, a semblance of national government is returning. On August 13th, the government in Kabul removed the warlord Gul Agha Sherzai from his post as governor of Kandahar and stripped Ismail Khan, the powerful governor of Herat, of his other role as regional military commander. A paper decree may not worry Mr Khan much, but it, and the removal of Mr Sherzai, shows the determination of the government.

On the optimists go. Afghanistan enjoys a legitimate government, confirmed by a representative loya jirga. There is considerable progress in writing a constitution and organising elections for next year, with suffrage for women. The new national currency, the afghani, is widely accepted and stable. The economy grew by 28% last year, according to preliminary IMF estimates. Two million or more refugees have returned home to rebuild their lives. That—together with the remarkable absence of any ethnic separatist movements—underlines Afghans' belief in their own country. There has been no major humanitarian crisis. Donors remain committed to their promises. America has tripled its aid to $1 billion this year; it will pressure others to do the same.

The article goes on to point out some negative things regarding Afghanistan, but these nit-picks are easily dismissed. For example, the article states that "Taliban leaders operate in Quetta and other Pakistani cities, openly distributing weapons and propaganda" as if American and NATO troops in Afghanistan could help that. Perhaps the article should criticize Pakistan?


Morris speaks

A couple weeks ago Dick Morris published an interesting article. The article theorizes that Hillary Clinton will enter the democratic presidential race if Al Gore does, and Al Gore will enter the race if Dean continues to lead the pack and Bush's "numbers" continue to "fall".

Morris lays it out thusly:

...Democrats are slowly waking up to the possibility that they may have the '04 election in their grasp, only to throw it away on the Dean candidacy. This is generating tremendous intra-party pressure on Gore and Hillary to run.

My guess is that Hillary would be just as happy to see Dean win the nomination and get slaughtered in November by Bush. That would make W a two-term president despite having no real base of popularity, and open the way for her to run in 2008. Since Dean has no chance of beating Bush, she needn't worry that an incumbent Democratic president would bar her way until 2012, when she'll be 65.

But Gore may suddenly see a real possibility of a straight run for the nomination and a general-election win. A review of the donor lists of the Democratic contenders shows that most of the former vice president's money people are still sitting out the race. Were he to run, Gore would force out most of the other Democrats and likely make quick work of Dean. In November, Gore would enter the election as the favorite against Bush.

But Hillary would be most unhappy to see Gore get the nod. Since Al would be a good bet to win, her nightmare scenario of a Bush defeat and no open field in 2008 would be coming to pass. So should Gore begin to make a move, Hillary will likely get into the race to pre-empt him.

That is all very interesting, and it will be even more interesting to see how Wesley Clark alters the scenario, but it is something Morris states later that is the most interesting.

The White House must realize the temptation the president's low ratings pose for Gore and Hillary, and understands that if Bush's numbers keep sinking the pressure for one or both of these heavyweights to run may prove irresistible.

So Karl Rove et al are scrambling to raise Bush's numbers in the crucial next 40 to 50 days, during which Hillary and Gore must make their move or watch the filing deadlines for the primaries pass them by.

Hence the speech to the nation on Sunday, the TV movie about Bush on the same night and the focus on the 9/11 anniversary, all designed to raise the president's polling and keep the big guns out of the Democratic presidential sweepstakes.

Why is Bush falling so badly? The superficial reasons are the Iraq casualties, the failure to find WMDs and the continuing inability to round up Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. But the real reason is that terror is receding as an issue, largely due to Bush's success.

The solution for Bush is to put terrorism back on the front burner by high profile and aggressive action against Iran and/or North Korea. It's not necessary to wag the dog, but Bush should wag his tongue and raise the profile of these two remaining threats to our security.

Now, Morris' theory is flawed in many respects (that Bush has no "real base of popularity", that Gore would "enter the election as the favorite against Bush", that Bush's numbers are bad to begin with) but it is interesting that Morris is encouraging Bush to "raise the profile" of Iran and North Korea in order to help his reelection. It's probably sound advice. But the ultimate irony is Morris' statement that the war on terror is becoming less of a campaign issue because Bush has done so well in reducing the threat of terror against Americans. In a just world, that performance would be rewarded. I can't believe my fellow Americans would overlook that when going to the polls.


Not easy being a terrorist supporter...

The Moonbats in Malaysia have been infested with the same crazy, paranoid conspiracy theories that infest both Egypt and Iran.

The following bit was buried in an article detailing how radical Muslim groups in England couldn't find any place to hold celebratory rallies on 9-11:

But in Malaysia, a mostly Muslim nation that quickly allied with Washington in the war on terror, more recent attitudes were reflected in an opinion column in the New Straits Times.

"No bells toll for the victims of unbelievable Israeli savagery," wrote Shad S. Faruqi.

Yep, it was the Israelis who carried out 9-11. And too bad those radical Muslims in England couldn't find a place to party on 9-11. I bet there were plenty of places available in Malaysia.


Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Not sure...

Russia is apparently not sure if North Korea has nuclear weapons or not:

Alexander Rumyantsev, Russian Minister of Nuclear Energy, has told Itar-Tass here in view of the forthcoming continuation of the six-sided talks on the nuclear problem of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) that he doubts that the DPRK possesses nuclear weapons. "It is difficult to speak about a country's possessing nuclear weapons if it did not test them," he said.

At the same time the Russian Minister pointed out that he in no way questions the availability of fissionable materials -- including plutonium and enriched uranium produced at a graphite-moderated reactor -- in North Korea. However, the amount of accumulated material is very small for the development of nuclear weapons either in quality or quantity, he added.

[...]

"It is difficult enough to get a clear idea of Pyongyang's nuclear programme owing to the lack of complete and reliable information," Rumyantsev said. "But, on the strength of the existing fragmentary data, one can judge that over the past decade North Korea has not made much headway from the viewpoint of large-scale nuclear power engineering".

Perhaps Mr. Rumyantsev would be interested in this report from the Nuclear Threat Initiative detailing Russia's cooperation with North Korea's missile program. Furthermore, Mr. Rumyantsev might be interested in another report from NTI, this time detailing Russian/USSR cooperation with North Korea's nuclear program. According the NTI report, Russia provided North Korea with "special aluminum alloy, laser gyroscopes, and connectors and relays used in missile electronics" in the year 2000. A NTI report also states that in 2001 twenty Russian nuclear scientists entered North Korea. Maybe Mr. Rumyantsev could call them up and fugure out what's going on?

Perhaps it is possible that North Korea does not have any nuclear weapons, but the CIA has maintained that North Korea has enough nuclear material to make 2 bombs. It just seems a little disingenuous for Mr. Rumyantsev to say that he doubts that North Korea has nuclear weapons just because they haven't tested them. The Russians know North Korea is a threat because they have, over the years, helped them acquire missile technology as well as nuclear technology. It seems that the Russians are trying to downplay this threat in an attempt to make US, South Korean, and Japanese concern seem unnecessary.


Monday, September 15, 2003

Updated-Who killed the Ayatollah?

Our cover is blown...Iran and Egypt have uncovered the truth about the murder of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim, the moderate Shi'ite leader who preached cooperation with the Americans.

The U.S. Central Command helped 15 Mossad agents involved in the assassination of Ayatollah Mohammad Baqer al-Hakim to flee Iraq, an Egyptian weekly magazine disclosed on Monday.

Ayatollah Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Assembly for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI), was killed in a massive car bomb blast in the holy city of Najaf on August 7. The blast left 82 killed and more than 100 wounded.

The U.S. Central Command was sure that the agents of the Zionist intelligence service Mossad had planned and executed the assassination with the help of some elements from the U.S. and Iraqi spies, Al-Osboa’ weekly said.

That's right, it was the Israelis...again. Along with their buddies, the Americans.

An Iraqi political analyst said that evidence of Mossad involvement has been found at the Najaf blast site. The analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Mehr News Agency that Zionist intelligence agents have made great efforts to infiltrate Iraqi groups in order to thwart efforts to create national unity.

After Saddam Hussein was ousted, the Zionist regime took advantage of divisions among the Iraqi Shia and sent a large number of extremist Jews and Mossad agents to Iraq, with the help of the occupying forces, to infiltrate Islamic groups and obtain information, the analyst said.

He added that a few months ago, a Mossad agent who knew Arabic and was quite familiar with Iraqi Muslim groups made a great effort to infiltrate organizations in southern Iraq and even influenced these groups.

That's right, the Israelis have no interest what-so-ever in a stable and democratic Iraq. The Israelis want discord, chaos, and anarchy in Iraq so that Iraq can become a great big terrorist breeding ground, espousing jihad and anti-western rhetoric. Because if there is one thing that Israelis can't get enough of, it's terrorism and the countries that promote it.

Don't people think before they come up with their crazy, paranoid conspiracy theories?

Update:

I wonder what the conspiracy-mongers will make of this:

A former Ba'ath Party official has confessed to planning the massive car bombing that killed the senior Shi'ite cleric Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim and more than 80 others last month, a top Shi'ite security official said.



France and the hijab

It seems that there is a bit of a controversy brewing in France regarding Muslim women who wear hijabs, or head scarves, in public schools. Four bills have been drafted in the French Parliament that call for the banning of head scarves. The bills also ban other religious accessories in public schools, such as necklaces featuring the cross and skull caps, or kippot. However, French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac is not in favor of such legislation.

A recent article notes:

The battle over the veil is playing out across Europe and the Middle East, as well as in the United States, where a Florida judge barred a Muslim woman from obtaining her driver's license with a face-covering niqab.

Scandinavian countries with tiny Muslim populations generally tolerate veiling. But women in Turkey and Tunisia, both overwhelmingly Muslim countries, are barred from wearing the veil in schools, universities and public workplaces, as part of larger crackdowns against Muslim fundamentalists.

Even in Egypt, women wearing niqabs or other coverall apparel can be harassed as suspected members of banned Islamic groups.

In France — home to about 5 million Muslims, one of Western Europe's largest Muslim populations — the veil issue weaves fears of growing fundamentalism with women's-rights issues. It pits the country's fiercely secular government rules against European human-rights laws.

It illustrates, too, the sharp divide between a well-educated and upwardly mobile French Muslim minority and thousands of second- and third-generation immigrants who remain angry and isolated in the suburbs. Some have found solace in religion.

"The head scarf today symbolizes a defeat for the French government, which has failed to integrate these minorities," said Francoise Gaspard, a sociologist at the Advanced Group of Social Studies in Paris, who opposes a veil ban.

"I can't predict the future," she adds. "But banning the veil may lead to new Koranic schools. And it's unlikely to teach French values of secularity. Or about equality between men and women."

France's veil battles began in 1989, when three girls were kicked out of a school in northern France for wearing head coverings in class. By the mid-1990s, educators were grappling with how to respond to thousands of veiled girls arriving to class. The cultural clash quickly took new dimensions.

"We began seeing girls and boys who in the name of Islam wouldn't shake hands," said Hanifa Cherifi, who handles veil issues at the Ministry of Education. "Boys would dispute the authority of female teachers. Girls would refuse to attend gym class."

Some interesting points are made here. Note that hijabs are forbidden in Turkish and Tunisian schools and public workplaces. Even wearing a hijab in Egypt will get you a sideways glance. But Francoise Gaspard also makes a nice point; will banning the hijab in public schools drive out Muslims who could have otherwise been brought in to French, and Western, culture? It's a tricky subject, but it seems to me that those who immigrate to a country should make an effort to blend in to the culture...not to change it.


Sunday, September 14, 2003

Unilateralists at it again

Australia, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and the US all took part in air and naval exercises aimed toward halting international terrorism on air, land, and sea.

Of course, North Korea called the exercises a "military provocation."

The 11-nation operation, dubbed Exercise Pacific Protector, is the first by the signatories to the Proliferation Security Initiative proposed by President Bush in May to stop illegal weapons shipments by air, land or sea.

About 800 military and security personnel — as well as aircraft and ships — from Australia, the United States, Japan and France are involved in the exercise in the Coral Sea, defense officials said.

Seven other nations — Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Britain — are attending as observers.

Officials from the 11 nations agreed at a meeting in Paris last week to conduct a series of sea, air and land exercises to halt such shipments.

They also agreed to change national and international laws to strengthen policing, share intelligence on weapons movements, distribute guidelines to other countries and seek their cooperation.

Member nations say the initiative is not aimed at any one country, but U.S. officials acknowledge that North Korea is a top concern.

Of course, the US is still labeled by the Angry Left as "unilateralist."


Friday, September 12, 2003

Powell and Jazeera

I was reading a news article and came across this:

"To think that the U.N. could suddenly take this all over, to the exclusion of the Coalition Provisional Authority, is not realistic. It would not work," Mr. Powell said in an interview broadcast yesterday on the Arabic network Al Jazeera.

My question is, why is Colin Powell giving interviews to Al Jazeera? This is the same station that broadcasts every diatribe by Osama Bin Laden and his ilk. This is the station that broadcast video of dead British soldiers and British POW's in Iraq. This is the station that broadcast video of dead American soldiers and POW's in Iraq. Further, this is the station that employs people who aid terrorists. Plus, this is the same station that was paid off by Saddam Hussein before and during the Iraq war! And Colin Powell is still talking to them?


What connection?

A memo has just surfaced stating that the Taliban admitted that Iraq, as well as Iran, had tried to contact Osama Bin Laden.

The Taliban claimed in a 1997 meeting with U.S. officials that it had blocked attempts by both Iraq and Iran to contact Osama bin Laden, according to a previously confidential State Department memo made public yesterday.

The memo says that the assistant secretary of state, Karl Inderfurth, was told on Dec. 7, 1997, by the Taliban's acting minister of mines and industry, Armad Jan, that his government "had stopped allowing [bin Laden] to give public interviews and had frustrated Iranian and Iraqi efforts to contact him."


Thursday, September 11, 2003

Lover's spat or something more?

It looks like Iran could lose Russia's cooperation with its nuclear program. This would be a serious blow for Iran, as Russia is Iran's number one provider of nuclear cooperation.

Tehran has made an unexpected and unacceptable demand that could derail Russian-Iranian cooperation on the Bushehr nuclear plant, a senior Nuclear Power Ministry official said Wednesday.

To address concerns that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, Russia has said it will freeze construction on the $1 billion plant and will refuse to supply fuel unless Iran agrees to return all of the spent fuel. Both sides in recent weeks have said that an agreement was close to being signed.

On Wednesday, however, Deputy Nuclear Power Minister Valery Govorukhin said Iran is now demanding that Russia pay for the spent fuel, Itar-Tass reported. Usually it is the other way around; countries get paid for receiving and storing spent fuel, he said.

This seems to be an odd approach that Iran is taking. Why would it spurn its only source of nuclear cooperation?

Alexander Pikayev, a security expert with the Carnegie Moscow Center, said Iran might have concluded that it can produce fuel compatible with the Russian-made reactor itself -- and, thus, be deliberately making unrealistic demands in order to disrupt the deal altogether. If Iran used its own fuel in the power plant's reactors, it could then enrich the spent fuel to weapons-grade using one of the centrifuges that it possesses.

The IAEA has recently said that its inspectors found residue of highly enriched uranium on gas centrifuges at a nuclear facility in Natanz, about 300 kilometers south of Tehran, during an inspection in February. Iran said it imported the centrifuges and that they were "contaminated" with enriched uranium by a previous owner.

The decision to publicize Iran's demand during the IAEA debates may be an attempt to create international pressure on Iran to drop its demand and sign the agreement on the return of spent fuel, Pikayev and Ivan Safranchuk of the Center for Defense Information said.

Moreover, Pikayev said, it may be a sign that Moscow has decided to end its lucrative nuclear cooperation with Tehran altogether because of its own security concerns.

The Nuclear Power Ministry may have decided that it is time "to wash their hands" of Iran rather than continue cooperation with a country that avoids making its nuclear program fully transparent and draws constant fire from the United States, Pikayev said.

Safranchuk, however, said he believes the ministry will complete the reactor unless Iran refuses to sign the fuel-return agreement.

It remains to be seen whether Russia will end its ill-advised cooperation with Iran, but this is at least encouraging news.


Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I'd vote for Silvio

Today, for a brief moment, I wished that I was Italian so that I could vote for Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister. He clearly is a person who understands the current global political environment and realizes that action must be taken in the interest of all that is good and just.

Consider this recent article:

The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, believes the United Nations should intervene militarily wherever dictatorships abuse human rights.

He delivers a passionate defence of America's intervention in Iraq in an interview in today's Spectator magazine in which he suggests it should mark the start of an era in which a "community of democracies" intervenes in the internal affairs of countries ruled by despots.

Mr Berlusconi said he told President George W Bush during an informal chat in the margins of last June's G8 summit in Evian that the concept of "liberty" that emerged enhanced from the ashes of the September 11 attack should become a guiding light for the world's democracies.

"I said, given the enormous and paradoxical success of fundamentalism, why don't we reform the UN? Let us say to Mr X or Y in this or that dictatorship, you must recognise human rights in your country and we give you six to 12 months to do so, or else we intervene.

"We can do this now because there is no countervailing power," he said referring to the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union.

"We are able, with Russia and America, to look at the states of the world and assess the dignity of the people and we give them democracy and liberty. Yes! By force if necessary, because that is the only way to show it is not a joke. We said to Saddam, do it or we come. And we came and we did it."

A spokesman for Mr Berlusconi said the prime minister had been telephoned recently by Col Gaddafi of Libya, who said: "I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid."

Mr Berlusconi said Europe needed to spend more on defence to participate fully with America in creating a new world order based on freedom and democracy.

He said that while Italy might have had "many doubts" about the American intervention in Iraq, it came out in support when "we saw that America and Britain, our traditional allies" were determined to proceed.

He said he was convinced that Saddam had either hidden, exported or destroyed his weapons of mass destruction, as any leader would have done if faced with the immediate prospect of invasion by an unbeatable foreign power.

It's hard to pick my favorite part of this article, but it would be hard not to go with the bit about Gaddafi. Let's relive that quote once more: "I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid."

We need more leaders and thinkers like Silvio Berlusconi, that's for sure.


Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Dean says no to "taking sides"

Recently Howard Dean was asked his opinion concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Dean responded by stating that the US should not "take sides" and that "it's not our place to take sides" regarding the conflict.

The Washington Post reports:

Howard Dean came under fire yesterday from two rivals for the Democratic nomination for saying the United States should not "take sides" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Five days after Dean told supporters in New Mexico that "it's not our place to take sides" in the conflict, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) accused him of advocating a "major break" from the United States' long-standing policy of explicitly siding with Israel in the Middle East.

"If this is a well-thought-out position, it's a mistake, and a major break from a half a century of American foreign policy," Lieberman said in a statement. "If it's not, it's very important for Howard Dean, as a candidate for president, to think before he talks."

You tell'em Joe!

Further, Dean stated that the US should take a more "evenhanded" approach to the conflict:

In an interview, Dean sought to clarify his statement but did not back down from his belief that the United State cannot negotiate peace unless it is seen as a neutral party in the region. "Israel has always been a longtime ally with a special relationship with the United States, but if we are going to bargain by being in the middle of the negotiations then we are going to have to take an evenhanded role," he said.

So, basically, Dean has no opinion regarding this issue? What a platform!


And in this corner...

Two Libyan "youths" tried to attack Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal in Cairo on Monday. The two attackers tried to punch the Saudi Foreign Minister and, after failing in their attempt, shouted insults at him. The two were apparently upset about remarks made to Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi from Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, who called Gadaffi a "liar" and a "slave of colonialism."

I had forgotten about that hilarious exchange, which took place during an Arab League meeting. This is how it was described by Australia's The Age:

"Colonel Gaddafi accused Saudi Arabia of "striking an alliance with the devil" when King Fahd allowed the US to base soldiers on Saudi territory.

Infuriated, Prince Abdullah, jabbing his finger at Colonel Gaddafi, replied, "Saudi Arabia is not an agent of colonialism". Then he added: "Who exactly brought you to power? You are a liar and your grave awaits you."

At that point, Egyptian television cut its live coverage of the meeting. When proceedings resumed 70 minutes later for the reading of the agreed declaration, some delegates had already left for the airport, dashing Arab hopes that the summit would produce a strong show of unity."

Now that's reality TV!


That's what 2.1 billion gets us?

A newspaper sanctioned by the Egyptian government has printed an article claiming that American soldiers "mutilate corpses" and "tear them limb from limb." Furthermore, the same article encourages jihad against Americans and urges Arabs to kill Americans.

This is an English translation of the article:

"The cannibals were barbaric creatures similar to beasts of prey, took vengeance upon their enemies. They would slaughter them, tear them limb from limb, and mutilate the corpses, exactly as the American forces did to the bodies of Saddam Hussein's two sons Uday and Qusay, whose distressing and shocking pictures were circulated by the world media. Every place that it destroys, annihilates, and plunders treasure and oil [from], America does no less than what primitive cannibal tribes did in the prehistoric era!!"

"What is the meaning of the abhorrent crimes that America perpetrates in Iraq, Liberia, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Palestine via the Israeli angels of destruction? What is the meaning of the deeds carried out everywhere by the American forces - or to be more precise, by the children and grandchildren of the gangs of pirates and blood-letters who run [U.S.] policy? ...

"In every country trampled by the feet of the American military forces, we see ghastly pictures of the remains of innocent civilian victims: eyes gouged out, noses cut off, limbs intentionally amputated with the flesh that covered them stripped off. I implore you to look at the pictures of Uday and Qusay, Saddam Hussein's two sons, who were horribly mutilated. ...

"The fight against America will be continued, Allah willing, by the peoples waging Jihad against the original pirates and criminals [i.e. the Americans] - or, to be more precise, against the cannibals and the human corpse-disembowelers!!"

Egypt received 2.1 billion dollars in American aid last year.


Monday, September 08, 2003

What is "puke" in German?

Is this the making of a French turnaround?

"France would be happy to participate in Iraq's reconstruction," said Guillaume Parmentier, director of the French Center on the United States at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), a think tank independent of the government. "But to send soldiers into a war we opposed may create more difficulties. I'm not sure one should be sanguine about France sending troops at this point. I know there are contingency plans for sending 10,000 troops. But these are military plans.

"There is a possibility this could be the case. But I don't think one should necessarily see that an acceptance by the French is indicative that France would send troops automatically."

So, France might send 10,000 troops to Iraq if the UN resolution goes through? Speaking of the resolution, the Washington Times reports the following:

Nevertheless, there is no expectation that Paris — which is anxious to repair relations with Washington — will use its Security Council veto to block a new resolution, as it did before the war.

All this should, of course, be taken with a grain of salt. However, it is worth noting that France at least has "contingency" plans to send 10,000 troops to Iraq while the very idea of sending troops to Iraq makes German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder "want to puke." At least we can count on the British, who are sending 1,200 additional troops.


Sunday, September 07, 2003

UPDATED-"Nuclear tensions could be aggravated"

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is set to meet Monday to discuss Iran's nuclear weapons situation. Tehran insists that it is not interested in using its nuclear technology towards the building of nuclear weapons. The US insist that Tehran must have nuclear weapons in mind, since its has at least two "hidden" nuclear facilities. Even France agrees upon the fact that Tehran is "close" to having the material and expertise to build a nuclear bomb. The UK has warned Iran to open itself up to more stringent inspections.

Tehran has expressed the opinion that the US is pressuring the IAEA into harassing Tehran in regards to its "peaceful" nuclear program. To wit, the Tehran Times reports:

"The board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are going to start formal discussions about the Iranian nuclear programs today.

The UN nuclear watchdog is facing a big test and must prove its independence from the United States, which has been pressuring the IAEA.

Of course, all indications suggest that Iran has been transparent in its nuclear activities regardless of all the uproar by Washington that Iran has breached ITS nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) commitments."

Further, Tehran states that if the IAEA presses too hard, then "nuclear tensions could be aggravated", whatever that means.

Iran's chief delegate to the U.N. atomic agency warned the United States and other nations ahead of a Monday meeting that nuclear tensions could be aggravated if they put too much pressure on Tehran to open its programs to inspectors.

Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran still was open to negotiating the inspection issue with the International Atomic Energy Agency, but indicated the offer could be withdrawn if IAEA board meeting ''disrupted the whole process.''

The meeting likely will urge Iran to make its nuclear program accessible by agreeing to a protocol allowing tougher IAEA inspections without notice. Under strong international pressure, Iran last month offered to negotiate the IAEA protocol.

Monday's meeting also will ask Tehran to explain agency findings that the Americans and others say point to the existence of a covert nuclear weapons program.

''We are sitting on a very thin edge,'' Salehi said. ''It could tilt one way or the other very easily.''

The United States accuses Iran of working on a secret nuclear weapons program, and a recent confidential IAEA report, obtained by The Associated Press, said traces of highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium were found at an Iranian nuclear facility.

The report also said Iran was conducting tests that experts say make little sense unless the country was pursuing nuclear weapons.

Tehran insists its nuclear programs are for generating electricity and says its equipment was ''contaminated'' with enriched uranium by a previous owner.

Contaminated.....right.

Facts are fact. Even the less than objective IAEA realizes that the numbers aren't adding up regarding Iran's nuclear program. Even the fact that Iran is pursuing a "peaceful" nuclear program is suspect. Iran is home to a large percent of the world's known energy reserves.

It has been reported that both the US and Israel have independent plans to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. The US seems best suited for this mission, since it is extremely doubtful that Iranian radar could pick up our F-117 stealth fighters. However, Israel has a track record for these things, having bombed Iraq's nuclear facility before it could produce a nuclear weapon.

Update:
The Washington Times had this report Monday:

An underground Iranian uranium-enrichment facility holds about 1,000 gas centrifuges and can accommodate more than 1,000 people, says a 10-page report to be delivered in Vienna, Austria, today by Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the U.N. nuclear monitoring agency.

In his report, a copy of which has been obtained by the Sunday Telegraph, Mr. ElBaradei also lists several other serious concerns raised by U.N. weapons inspectors about the scope of Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran continues to insist is aimed at developing a nuclear power industry.

Inspectors are particularly concerned about the activity at the Natanz facility, which has sophisticated equipment for enriching uranium to weapons-grade standard. Even though the complex was built five years ago, the Iranian authorities confirmed its existence to the IAEA earlier this year only after Iranian exiles revealed its location.

U.N. inspectors who visited the site — due to be operational in 2005 — discovered an underground complex capable of holding more than 1,000 personnel. Two large halls designed to carry out uranium enrichment are sunk 25 feet underground with an 8-foot-thick concrete shell to protect them from air strikes.

Inside the complex, U.N. officials found 1,000 gas centrifuges, used for enriching uranium, and components for the manufacture of up to 50,000 more centrifuges.

Mr. ElBaradei's 10-page report also says the Iranians have been forced to acknowledge — despite earlier denials — that they have used nuclear materials for research and have manufactured uranium metal, another key element for producing an atom bomb.

The report also details the inspectors' concerns about the development of a heavy-water facility at Arak, another installation that the Iranians had kept secret from the IAEA officials until Iranian exiles revealed its existence.

If the sole purpose of Iran's nuclear research were to develop an alternative-fuel supply, as Tehran claims, it would have no use for a heavy-water facility. The Bushehr nuclear-power complex being built with Russian help is designed to be run by a light-water nuclear reactor.

That all sounds "peaceful" enough, right?


Thursday, September 04, 2003

Sugar-daddy

In an article in the Deutsche Welle it is stated that the European Union gives the Palestinian Authority 11 million dollars a month just to keep it from collapse.

The EU doesn't play a leading role on the political stage, but it does when it comes to financing the Palestinian Authority and humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

According to Chris Patten, the EU has pumped €10 million ($11 million) into the Palestinian Authority every month since June 2001 just to ensure its continued existence -- that is, paying a large part of the salaries of the more than 120,000 employees.

Why the EU would want to give millions of dollars a month to a government led by a known and proven terrorist is beyond me. But what the article says next boggles my mind.

After the second Intifada began Israel froze the financial flows of tax and customs revenues to the Palestinian Authority. The EU filled the gap.

According to some the intifada was started and has continued with the backing of the PA. At the very least the PA has done nothing to stop it, even though it admits that it could. So, despite this, the EU increased its payments to the PA to make up for the money Israel was withholding from it. Israel was withholding the money because it is used to finance terrorism.

It is obvious that Arafat and the PA are not interested in peace with Israel. Just look at how Arafat is wrestling away all of the power Mahmoud Abbas had, which was relatively little. That being said, the EU could bring down the PA just by halting its funding. Better yet, perhaps the EU could give that 11 million a month to someone who is serious about stopping the Palestinian terrorism, whether it's Mahmoud Abbas or Mohammed Dahlan. 11 million a month can hire a lot of security personnel in that part of the world.


Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Sha'ath speaks

The Palestinian Foreign Minister, Nabil Sha'ath, has told India that it does not need to be friendly to Israel. Because, according to Sha'ath, the only reason India would want to be friendly with Israel is to gain better relations with the US.

Says Sha'ath:

"Many people, who felt that Israel was the address of the United States, failed. And I give the example of Central and Eastern Europe. They all went to Israel to seek relations with the United States; they found it much easier to approach NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) than to approach Israel to do their bidding."

I guess it has not occurred to Sha'ath that Israel and India have many things in common. For example, they are both democracies. Also, both have a major problem with jihadist terrorism. It only makes common sense that these two countries would want to have good relations with one another.

An article in the Hindu goes on to say:

Dr. Sha'ath, who called on the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the Leader of the Opposition, Sonia Gandhi, said Israel would like to make it look as if all Palestinian resistance was terrorism.

"Identifying with that puts you in a position of being anti-Palestinian when there is no need to do so. Being against what happened in New York and Washington is universal."

Sure, not all "resistance" is terrorism. For example, there is suicide bombing, firing rockets in to cities and towns, shooting, stabbing, and just jihad in general.

Ok, seriously, I guess "resistance" by definition does not have to be violent, but it seems to me that the Palestinians who "resist" mainly choose the violent sort.

Also, Sha'ath states, in reference to September 11th, that "Being against what happened in New York and Washington is universal." Well, one would think that to be true. However, perhaps Mr. Sha'ath would like to explain why many Palestinians celebrated in the streets after the attacks took place? Many chanted anti-American slogans, some handed out candy, some flashed "V" for victory signs, some danced, and some shot off their guns. See and read about it here and here.

But back to the main point. For the Palestinian Foreign Minister to say that India should not have relations with Israel because there is nothing for India to gain is simply irresponsible. India has been talking about an India, Israel, United States anti-terrorism axis for some time now. I just think Sha'ath is getting nervous.


Tuesday, September 02, 2003

"Operation Infinite Reach"

Most people don't remember "Operation Infinite Reach."

On August 7, 1998 the US embassies in both Kenya and Tanzania were attacked with car bombs, resulting in 224 deaths (12 American) and 4,000 injuries. Clinton's White House discovered that it was an al-Qaeda attack, led by Osama Bin Laden. So, in response, Clinton ordered a missile attack on OBL's terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and a smaller missile attack of a warehouse in Sudan, which was allegedly producing chemical weapons.

Turns out the warehouse in the Sudan actually made medicine and the missiles missed OBL.

That was "Operation Infinite Reach" and it was a miserable failure for many reasons. For one, it did not diminish the threat from al-Qaeda one iota. Secondly, it actually boosted OBL's reputation as someone willing to "take on" the US. Thirdly, it made the US look like fools to the international community.

After this great failure Clinton had this to say:

"Terrorists must have no doubt that in the face of their threats, America will protect its citizens and will continue to lead the world's fight for peace, freedom and security.... America is and will remain a target of terrorists precisely because... we act to advance peace, democracy and basic human values; because we're the most open society on Earth."

That sounds like George W Bush circa now, but when he says it, he actually means it.

The fact is Clinton knew that al-Qaeda was a great threat to US and world security. He also knew that al-Qaeda was not afraid to take action, evidenced by the embassy bombings. He also knew that al-Qaeda had massive training camps in Afghanistan. So what does he do? He lobs a couple of missiles, accomplishes nothing, then calls it a day.

I bring this up because James Bovard had a good article about it located here.


"Hang America"

An Indonesian court has sentenced Abu Bakar Bashir to four years in prison for planning to over throw the government in favor of a hardline Islamic one.

Even though the prosecution was asking for a 15 year sentence, four years was still too much for the crowd that had gathered to hear the verdict. Upon hearing the sentence, the crown started chanting "Hang America."

Kind of makes you want to visit Indonesia, doesn't it?


It's always our fault

I was reading a Reuters story detailing how North Korea wants more talks concerning it's nuclear weapons and had to pause when I read this part:

The crisis began last October when the United States said North Korea had said it had a covert atomic program.

Wouldn't it be more accurate to state that the "crisis" started when North Korea broke its commitment to the US and started producing nuclear weapons?

But that's Reuters for you...


Monday, September 01, 2003

Saudi Arabian crackdown

Since the May 12th bombing in Riyadh the Saudis have been cracking down on Islamic militants/terrorists within the Kingdom. Here are some highlights of the crackdown:

May 19 - Three Moroccans are arrested in Saudi Arabia. They were planning to crash a hijacked airliner in Jeddah, a Saudi security source says.

May 27 - Saudi arrests five suspects over the Riyadh suicide bombings in Medina.

June 14 - Saudi police kill five "terror" suspects and arrest seven others in a shootout in Mecca. Five policemen die and five are wounded.

July 3 - A key suspect in the Riyadh bombings and three other "wanted terrorists" are killed in a shootout with security forces. A fifth man gives himself up.

July 21 - Saudi says it arrests 16 militants with links to al Qaeda.

Aug 10 - Saudi police arrest about 10 suspected Islamic militants after a shootout in Riyadh.

Aug 12 - Four Saudi policemen and a Muslim militant are killed in a raid on a militant stronghold in Riyadh. At least five militants are arrested.

This is important progress for the Saudis and it is about time they cleaned up the mess they have made for themselves. However, this crackdown might be having some unforeseen consequences.

The crackdown may be actually driving the Islamic militants/terrorists in to Iraq to battle with the Americans.

This in itself has both negative and positive aspects. On the positive, it allows the US to fight the terrorists in one central location, far from the US mainland. On the negative, it increases terrorist actions against US and coalition forces.

However, none of this would even be a concern if the Saudis could police their borders.