I would like wish all of you a very happy, healthy, joyful, prosperous, successful new year.
As far as our global involvements are concerned, may we get stronger and wiser, and may our opponents get weaker and more confused. May the lives of our people, and of all people, be safeguarded and secure. And, especially, may our men and women in uniform at home and abroad be safe and abundantly blessed; may God grant unto them His especial care, concern, and blessings. And may we open our hands and hearts to show our gratitude to them and, for those in need, provide what they need materially and emotionally. Let us recognize how great they are.
May God and may we safeguard, provide for, bless, support, speak up for, and otherwise recognize the worth and our need for those who are sacrificing their lives and safety to speak out on issues that need our attention. In particular, I have in mind Isaac Schrodinger, others like him, and bloggers in non-Western states.
May bloggers freely express themselves; may commenters likewise enlighten us; may readers be edified and find comfort, and may they feel fee to share their opinions and wisdom by commenting, emailing, or blogging.
May 2007 be better, safer, and brighter year.
geoff, this is for you.
“Why Ethiopia Is Winning in Somalia” by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of Pajamas Media is an excellent article on Ethiopia’s armed campaign against the Islamist forces of Somalia, why and how Ethiopia is winning, and how and why it looks like Ethiopia will, in the end, prevail against Somalia’s Islamists.
Of course, Gartenstein-Ross says that there are lessons and examples here for The United States to learn, but I doubt it. There are quite different constraints on The United States than on Ethiopia. What works for Ethiopia, then, may not (and, in fact, will not) work for The United States. But it is wise and prudent and quite pertinent to be aware of these differences. (For one thing, this awareness may prepare us to lean more on warfare by proxy as opposed to direct involvement. Although I should mention that, unfortunately, Iraq and Afghanistan were different cases wherein The United States had to get directly involved.)
It is amusing and distressing–as predictable as it is–that Europe is quite displeased by Ethiopia’s campaign, and is pressuring Ethiopia to desist. Count on the Europeans to try and frustrate efforts to wipe out militant Islamism.
I want to point out that the article mentions what will ultimately cause the Islamist threat to disappear: exterminating it all together. As unpleasant as it may sound (and we Westerners are particularly loathe to consider such things), the fact remains that if the Islamists are pushed out without being eliminated, they will try to come back. Fleeing to safer areas, which they will find, they will rearm and replenish their resources (including finances), which they will be able to easily do, and then resume their jihad to regain Somalia. And then the whole thing will repeat itself. Additionally, there is a fear that Somalia’s Islamists inside and outside Somalia, and the Islamists’ international partners, will attempt to establish guerilla (sp?) warfare and/or suicide terrorism in Somalia. So, for many reasons, eliminating this network of militant Islamists is vital to securing the Horn of Africa.
The article also raises interesting points on what challenges lie ahead for Ethiopia. But it is nice to see them make progress. This sort of policy, which we held on to during Cold War I, will serve is very well in World War III (sometimes called the “War on Terror(ism)”) and Cold War II. And I hope this will open the door to the amelioration of conditions in that part of the world.
I wish to hear what you, my honorable readers, think about this.
It is almost amusing that for many decades Russia and the United Kingdom lorded over Persia/Iran while enjoying good relations with Israel and only towards the end The United States became involved in Iran and yet since the so-called Islamic Revolution, Iran’s vitriol has been spewed against The United States and Israel with hardly any regard given to The United Kingdom (rather than assigning the title of “the Little Satan” to The United Kingdom, it is used for Israel) as Iran moves more and more into Russia’s grasp.
And of the four entities (The United States, The United Kingdom, Israe, and Russia), the two to not have engaged in imperialism or colonialism are The United States and Israel. And unlike The United Kingdom, which gave up imperialism and colonialism, Russia never gave up on its imperial and imperialist desires, continuing its imperialist policies even while ruling the Soviet Union (indeed, the guise of anti-imperialist communism allowed it to quite effectively expand its empire). So much for Iran’s anti-imperialism!
And, of course, it bothers me that Russia is getting away with it.
Ah well. I hope some day Iran will realize how it is being used by the Russia-China Axis and thereupon attempt to gain true sovereignty by ending within itself all foreign and alien forces such as Russia, China, and Islamism. Considering that the so-called Islamic Revolution could not even deliver on its claim/promise of Irani sovereignty within Iran–and how can Iran be sovereign when it depends on the Russia-China Axis and while the Axis calls the shots–the utter failure of the Revolution becomes apparent.
Which may explain why Iran’s demagogues have always tried to distract their people with fabricated conspiracies and enemies.
ETA, a Basque independence terrorist outfit, attacked with a car bomb, injuring 19 people.
In a prudent move, the IRA renounced terrorism after militant Islamist terrorists attacked the Underground. One would have expected the ETA to do the same after militant Islamists attacked Madrid.
The examples of how governments have reacted to terrorist attacks in Britain, Sri Lanka, India, and. Israel should make it clear that terrorism doesn’t work. As much as utmat exasperate government officials, such acts only erode support for terrorists’ cause and even opens the door for the government to act more harshly than if there were no attacks.
And yet these groups continue their abominable attacks.
The ETA’s attack will only hurt it and the Socialist government which had such a comparatively lenient policy towards them. The militant Islamist terrorists’ attack helped bring in the Socialist government, and now an ETA attack may bring it down.
How are the mighty fallen!
(King David; 2 Samuel 1:19.)
Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti has been executed for his crimes against the Iraqi people, for his crimes against humanity.
I remembered when Arafat died: many customers who came through the place I worked in at that time expressed joy at his death. They saw him as a terrorist, one who was a threat to the Israeli and Jewish people despite his apparent change of spots.
It may seem easy to believe that this event, the execution of a man who unflinchingly send uncountable people to their deaths, would be an occasion for joy and rejoicing. After all, if people rejoiced when Arafat died of (supposedly) natural causes, how much more ought we to rejoice when the sword of justice in mortal hands avenges the blood of the many, many slain.
But I believe differently. This is a moment for us to remember the many killed by Saddam. This is a moment for us to reflect on how such obvious tyrants and homocidal despots seem to be able to rule without any opposition by the supposedly enlightened and humane international community.
And let us contrast the ways of the West with those of the Rest. After the liberation of Iraq, coalition forces expended much effort to track down and find Saddam. There were attempts to take him out, but ultimately he was found by American troops when a person in the know basicallly revealed where Saddam was hiding. Saddam was not harmed, hurt, tortured, or otherwise violated. He was arrested and put on trial. He had a big-name lawyer. His side was able to make its case and points. The judge had to examine the evidence and arguments. It was a genuine trial.
Now, what happens in the Rest? People and their families are simply “disappeared”: no one knows anything about them, until one day their remains are found in a mass grave. No trial, no attorney, no defense, no justice. Whole villages are simply wiped out. Families live in fear that at any moment the despot’s forces, legal or not, with or without proper documentation, will sweep in and either take them away or slaughter them all at once.
For all of our talk about justice, human rights, liberties, and responsibility, we do let many despots get away. And there is something ironic when tyrannous and blood-stained despots are brought to justice through an actual just process. The very right Saddam denied to so many in the end undid him.
There will be those who will lament that Saddam’s trial was not fair. Let them lament. Their lament can now do nothing. Those who lament might very well be the same people who would have opposed liberating Iraq from Saddam’s talons to begin with. Let them whine and moan and lament. Let their got air rise to the skies. Their words are impotent.
Notice that I have not said that his execution has justified or completed the liberation of Iraq. It’s tempting to say so, but to say so would be to misunderstand why we went in to liberate Iraq. Our campaign–and by “our” I refer to the coalition led by The United States–was against Saddam Hussein and his regime. Were it against Saddam, we could have perpetuated Iraq’s “stability” (unjust as it was) by installing another Sunni general (or, as the British did when they created Iraq, a king). Our goal was to establish an entirely new regime, which we did. (I use the word “regime” in its academic sense, meaning a system of government.) Whether Saddam survived or how he would die are irrelevant for our purposes.
And this is not our victory or our gain. This is a victory for the Iraqi people; this is a victory for justice; this is a victory for history. So let us not think this occured for us Americans or by us Americans. We helped, yes, and without it this would not have been possible, but Saddam was tried by the Iraqis in an Iraqi court for crimes against the Iraqi people: the victory is theirs.
Yet we can share the relief of the Iraqi people and their accomplishment by virtue of the fact that this was a victory for humanity. It is very rare indeed for one such as Saddam–in Jewish parlance, a Haman (genocidal conniver)–to face justice. More often, such people succumb to nature or to internal politics. It is not a sad time when someone like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Jinggez Khan, or Arafat dies, but their death at the hands of nature rather than the sword of justice leaves something to be desired. Furthermore, we can take comfort in the fact that this victory by the Iraqi people, a true victory in that this was through a just process, could not have happened without our intervention. Whereas we may not have executed justice ourselves, we established the foundation, framework, conditions, and environment within which justice could be served. As such, the world (and justice and history) are indebted to the Armed Forces of The United States and of their allies and to the presidency and administration of President George W. Bush. While many clamored for diplomatic solutions and giving a blood-stained regime more time, these proactive forces set events into motion which would result, among many notable events, in Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti facing justice for his abominable crimes against humanity.
For once, goodness and justice have prevailed against evil and injustice. This can only give us hope.
World War III in the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia (for the West) versus Somalia (for militant Islamists)
In It’s getting busy in Somalia, geoff of Uncommon Misconceptions describes an interesting development in the Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, a proxy of The United States, has launched an attack against Islamist-conquered Somalia. The United States has been heavily aiding and supplying countries in that region to contain, put pressure on, and oppose the Islamist regime.
Obviously, going into Somalia would not work — we tried that once and it did not work — and the faction we supported fell to the Islamists, so we did what was practical and effective: gain proxies in the region and use them. It’s a win-win situation: we destroy a regionally destabilizing and pro-terrorist regime (which Somalia’s neighbors would like to destroy as well) without becoming directly involved while our proxies will benefit from the influx of funds, attention, and assistance.
As an example of how non-military benefits can be obtained, Kenya will be getting a protected oil-line through its lands so as to minimize Somalia’s ability to harm the transportation of this precious commodity.
Just as in Dune the spice must flow, in this world the oil must flow, or everyone will suffer.
Although the Somali Islamists undoubtedly will cast this conflict in terms of Islam versus the West or infidels or Zionists or Crusaders or Americans, the reality is that the Somali regime is regionally destabilizing. Ethiopia and Kenya don’t care what religion the Somali government is: they do care if it is one that will cause a refugee problem (which it already has), exacerbate the region’s Islamist threat, fund terrorism, and threaten their sovereignty and integrity. As an Islamist state, the governing authorities don’t plan to stop in Somalia. This is a geo-political conflict, not religious or ideological, per se. Ethiopia, for example, is still a pretty stifling place, and it has a significant Muslim population; it also is experiencing dire economic hardships and military conflicts with its former best friend, Eritrea.
It is good to see the government of The United States make smart decisions in this situation. I hope we appropriately reward our proxies, and I hope their efforts will being good fruit for all people involved.
Do read geoff‘s excellent post and analysis: It’s getting busy in Somalia.
I would like to wish my readers, for whom this may be relevant, a very merry and blessed Christmas.
Words for the season from Isaiah 9:6-7:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end [...] to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
As geoff noted, we were prematurely jubilant upon the news that Shiite politicians had formed a bloc and sought as-Sistani’s blessing for it. As-Sistani refused to do so, on grounds that he could not endorse a measure that would divide Shiites. This was an oblique reference to as-Sadr.
Frankly, I was disappointed but not all that surprised. If he endorsed the bloc, the potential for a civil war between Shiites would increase. As Iraq’s Shiites’ leader, it seems he felt this would not be something he could in good conscience do.
What this means is that rather than forcing as-Sadr to give up his militia-mongering, Shiite politicians would have to pander to as-Sadr and what conditions he would set.
Undoubtedly, one of these conditions would include a guarantee from the government that attacks on Shiites will stop and that perpetrators would be severely punished. It is to be expected that another sick condition would include some guarantee of autonomy to his militias and to Shiite areas. Thus, although anti-Sunni attacks may stop, as-Sadr would be able to continue to exercise armed hegemony over his areas.
And we must not forget one of as-Sadr’s prime sponsors: Iran. It may also be possible that as-Sistani refused to endorse the bloc so as to avoid a confrontation with Iran or its proxies.
A major problem with allowing as-Sadr autonomy is that then he would become Iran’s Iraqi equivalent to Lebanon’s Nasrollah.
[Saying that I wanted to see how the meeting went with as-Sistani turned out to be the right approach. I suppose it pays to be cautious when it comes to developments in world politics.]
And as much as the Shiites have suffered, it is time for permanent measures to be emplaced to protect their security, otherwise this militia-mongering will become endemic to Iraqi Shiite society, as has happened among the Palestinians, which would not be good at all.
Contrary to memes that Iraq is going to heck in a handbasket, the Shiites are getting their…stuff together.
When I first read the headline, I assumed a Shiite delegation would be going to Muqtada as-Sadr, the Shiite militia leader, to ask for a ceasefire. But I was wrong. The Shiites wanted the blessing of the senior-most Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatullah as-Sayyid Ali al-Husseini as-Sistani, for a ceasefire. They then plan to speak with as-Sadr about him joining the mainstream, whereby the Shiites would be able to get him to reign his militias in.
Meeting as-Sistani is a significant step because if he gives his blessing, not only will the Shiite bloc in the Iraqi government gain legitimacy but it would be incumbent upon Shiites to support the bloc. After all, as a cleric, the Grand Ayatullah is acting in persona Imami, on behalf of and in the person of the Hidden Imam. To disobey or go against the Grand Ayatullah would be to disobey or go against the Imam, which is tantamount to apostasy from Islam as far as Shiites are concerned.
This is also significant because this means that Shiite politics may be swinging from militant Irani-backed Sadrists to quietist stability-promoting Iraqi Shiites.
I don’t know how as-Sadr would respond, but it would be quite difficult for him to maintain his legitimacy and popular support if he essentially spurns an endeavor blessed by the Grand Ayatullah himself. Although as-Sadr has significant issues with the clerical authorities, for reasons of religious legitimacy he cannot splinter off explicitly or blatantly. I hope Shiites use this as a tool to bludgeon him into submission.
By the way, the author of the article – (قاسم عبد الزهراء, qāsim ‛abdu-z-zahrā’) Qassim Abdul-Zahra – you can’t get a more Shiite name than that. In fact, it would be considered blasphemous by Sunnis. (عبد, ‛abd) means “servant” or “slave,” and (الزهراء, az-zahrā’) is a feminine adjective meaning “the radiant” and is an epithet of (فاطمة بنت محمد, fāTimah bint muHammad) Fatimah, Muhammad’s daughter and Ali’s wife, whom Shiites revere. Technically, one can only use one of God’s 99 names in Islam after (عبد, ‛abd), otherwise it would be considered idolatry or polytheism.
Let’s see how this plays out. In any case, that a political coalition is forming among Shiites that rejects as-Sadr’s militancy is a significant development indeed. Now if only the Sunnis would follow suit.
“I expect there will be a massive fight for power now in Turkmenistan and it’s likely to take place between pro-U.S. and pro-Russian forces,” said a Russian gas industry source, who declined to be named. “Gas will become the main coin of exchange and the key asset to get hold of.”
Saparmurat Niyazov, the somewhat egotistical iron-fisted ruler of Turkmenistan, who titled himself Turkmenbashi the Great (“Turkmenbashi” means “leader of all Turkic peoples”), died. He left no provision for a successor, and it is unclear who will succeed him, how, and when.
But his death in this former Soviet republic, and the political if not armed conflict that will ensue, shows how Cold War II, between the West, particularly The United States, and Russia, among others, is quite an important factor in politics these days.
Let us see who will win and how the result will change the operations and goals of relevant powers in the region. At least the more Russia has to worry about, the more it gives and gives, extending its resources, and the easier it would be to win by default when Russia implodes.
I am coming to believe that this conflict with stubborn losers would be far easier, perhaps, if we actually embraced imperialism and actively colonized those states in our sphere of influence. Russia and China, to some degree, do this, and so we’re at a disadvantage compared to them. In a way, we’re too nice now. But were we to become imperialistic, all benefits to other states notwithstanding, it simply wouldn’t be the American way.
Time to take off the kid gloves and do what we need to so that we can gain Turkmenistan in the West’s sphere of influence. And to keep it there. As it is, we lost Uzbekistan.
When you regain your strength, geoff, I’d like to hear your perspective. Any others, please chime in!
On January 19, 2001, Saddam Hussein was a dire menace, someone to get rid of. For many years before, the government tirelessly worked to staunch that megalomaniac’s efforts to destabilize the Middle East. What was even more worrying was that Saddam Hussein was actively seeking to develop and stock weapons of mass destruction! Saddam Hussein was a very, very bad man, and his regime was equally bad. So much so that American planes had to vigilantly guard the Shiites and Kurds so they wouldn’t be gassed to death by that bad, bad man, Saddam Hussein.
But on January 20, 2001, Saddam Hussein and his regime were no longer a threat. He was a good guy. Iraq was stable. The people were happy. There was a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. Whatever suffering the innocent, happy Iraqis experienced was because of the evile, vile policies of the American government. The presence of American military there was an insult to the Iraqis. Bad, America, very bad! There were no weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Hussein joyfully cooperated with United Nations officials. He frowned on terrorists. The people loved him, and for good reason too! The Middle Easterners were so upset the bullying West was bullying their friend, Mr. Hussein. We should have left Iraq alone.
What happened on January 20, 2001? You silly; you should know! George Walker Bush became President of the United States.
The way people talk, this sure seems like it!
Iraq is a disaster.
Later, Mark in NJ chimes in:
Maybe there’s a simpler explanation: no books because there’s nothing good happening there to write about.
How is it a disaster?
It’s so easy to say it, isn’t it? Well, prove it. The burden of proof is on your side.
Where is the exhaustive analyses of the progress in Iraq compared to what trouble areas there are?
Where are you getting your impressions, from the pictures on the television?
What about what the soldiers have to say? What about what Iraqi politicians have to say? What about what quietist Iraqi Shiites have to say? What about what the Kurds have to say?
All I hear is such-and-such Sunni claiming this, that-and-that Shiite militia proclaiming that…what about the rest of Iraq? Is Iraq made up of two groups, militant Sunnis and militant Shiites? What happened to the rest?
What about the schools, hospitals, medicines, electricity, water, roads, airports, homes, apartment buildings, businesses, cars, oil, telephone connections, internet, libraries?
Iraq is a disaster.
I challenge you: prove your ridiculous assertion. If you can’t, then desist immediately from your gross misrepresentations (and consider this: if you know you can’t prove it, you know you’re wrong, and if you continue to assert your claim knowing you’re wrong, you’re blatantly lying).
To those online who seem to not appreciate the fact that Iraq is free:
You armchair commenters and bloggers, who probably have never seen what a Muslim state is like from the inside, cannot know what the liberation of Iraq means.
I am not an Iraqi. I am not a Sunni or a Shiite – I’m not even Muslim anymore. I am not an Arab or a Kurd. But I rejoiced when Baghdad fell to coalition forces and Iraq was, for the first time ever, liberated from the claws of tyranny. April 9, 2003. I was so happy, I could sing. My heart soared the whole day. It was the best day of my life.
Because I knew then, just as I know now, that millions — millions who had only despair to expect from life and the future, millions who lived in fear, millions who were abandoned by the world to suffer from the consequences of their unelected leader and his inhuman regime — could now breathe free.
And because I knew that the Armed Forces of The United States had toppled yet again another inhuman dictator, whom the rest of the world tolerated. Evil had been defeated. Good had triumphed. In a world as lone and dreary as ours, any such victory ought to be celebrated with much gusto and thanksgiving.
And the consequences! Dictators trembled in their boots! Tyrants shivered in fear! Oppressed people sighed in envy! Oppressing people whispered in anxiety! Who would be next? Which oppressing people, with their dictator, would these seemingly unstoppable legions of angels defeat? Which oppressed people will be able to stand confident amid the fresh, healthy breeze of freedom?
You really don’t know what freedom is until you have seen — even if only a glimpse — what a land without freedom is like.
I mean, really: one day the Kurds had to fear being attacked with chemical weapons, and the next they are free. I cannot understand how anyone can refuse to rejoice in the freedom of any people. I cannot understand how anyone can even think of claiming that their situation before their liberation was better. You have freedom and enjoy it; but when others get it, do you get jealous? Why must you be so sour? Why must you insist on fabricating false impressions in order to spoil a people’s freedom or the efforts of those who bring it to them? Freedom is good.
Frankly, you disgust me.
Never mind that before the U.S. invaded Iraq that the Sunnis and
Shiites were living in relative Peace even to the point of inter-
marrying, just like Catholics and Protestants. What Dubya should
have done was gone in to Iraq, took out Saddam, arrested him
and charged him with crimes against humanity in the International
It is my fondest hope that one of the first items on the Democratic
agenda should be the impeachment of both Dubya and Cheney.
Buy the way, feel free to publish my e-mail address. Since I don’t
have an official web-site and I’d like to continue this discussion
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people mischaracterize the situation in Iraq prior to its liberation in such a way as to suggest or explicitly claim that the liberation thereof resulted in an Iraq far worse off than it was under Saddam Hussein and his regime. Read the rest of this entry »
The ongoing revelations of what Sandy Berger did, and how the Legacy Media has ignored this while playing up stupid irrelevant incidences such as the Plame “leak” do worry me. Is a Democrat culprit somehow better than a Republican one? Whereas Berger potentially sabotaged national security big-time, the Legacy Media is obsessed about an empty-headed former spy and her politically opportunist (not to mention lying) husband.
I think the whole case around the Plame issue should simply be dropped. It’s a waste of time and resources.
Or is it?
I would not be so grumpy about this if the government used it as smokescreen while it purges its intelligence bodies of leaks. Distract the media with Plamegate while Leakgate is fixed, or something like that.
But it seems, from what I can see, that even this is not happening.
Ah, well. I guess it’s politics as usual.
So…as some may have noticed, I got busy. I have a job, full-time, although it’s not something I’m particularly proud of. But it pays, and that’s what counts.
Nevertheless, I will try harder to post more often.
I apologize for the dearth recently.
I would like to wish all of my Jewish readers a very happy and bright Festival of Lights!
According to “FBI: Cleric’s illness may spark attack” by Lara Jakes Jordan of the Associated Press, courtesy of Yahoo! News, the FBI is worried that the worsening health of Sheikh Omar Abd al-Rahman / Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind cleric who masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center, could spark another attack against The United States. As if Islamists need another reason or excuse to attack us.
But I say: the more the Islamists will try, the easier we can detect them, the more we can entrap them, and the more we can eliminate them.
So, to the militant Islamist terrorists: Bring. It. On.
You know who you are. I’m not going to mention you explicitly for obvious reasons.
Even though you have a life and are busy, you still take time to do what you do best. You have expertise and experience that I envy and admire. You are an indispensible tool for The West’s campaigns and attempts to comprehend and disarm our enemies.
Thank you for all what you have done and are doing. Keep it up; keep on working; keep up your efforts. I don’t mention you or your work as often as I should, but do realize that I admire what you do and am very grateful to you.
Thank you, my friend.
We towelheads were Christian long before Mo came and buggered up the Middle East. For a good time, go visit the Sufis. They always put a unique spin on Islam.
In the popular image of Islam, the Sufis1 are considered to be gentle, moderate, tolerant, spiritual Muslims in contrast to legalistic, rigid, intolerant Muslims who follow Islamic law very closely, paying no attention to spirituality. And to a degree, this may be correct. Read the rest of this entry »