Friday, February 22, 2008

Wake Up, Smell Coffee

A while back, the Belmont Club offered a summary of this New Yorker article by Lawrence Wright, "The Master Plan", in a post entitled Al-Qaeda from the inside out.

The article and post are must-reads, if one wants to understand the reality of the world today.

Reading either exposes Al-Qaeda for what it is: a political organization, using Islam to advance political goals. This may come as a shock to some; news like this rarely finds its way into any mainstream media outlet, and even when it does, it disappears so fast it is nothing more than a blip on the radar.

For instance, the original intent of their terrror mission was to strike back at the corrupt, tyrannical leaders of Middle Eastern countries. And chaos works to their advantage:
The theoretical basis for this strategy, an al-Qaeda document called the "Management of Savagery", has been the subject of study at West Point. It was anonymously authored by the mysterious Abu Bakr Naji, who anticipates the fact that while the Jihad will be everywhere tactically defeated by American forces, the necessary fate of each battlefield would be ruin and chaos; and it would not be an unfavorable outcome because chaos is on Allah's side. As the world's system administrator, America would be tied down attempting to restore order everywhere. The dilemma the US could not avoid was that to rule was to maintain order; but to fight the Jihad was to foul its own nest.

Chaos and terror is a strategy; those who view it from afar and think "bring our troops home now" are in effect campaigning for the terrorist agenda. Whether they believe they are doing so, or not, is unimportant; the point here is that power-mad scumbags are blowing up innocent people in order to further their own agenda, and are forcing us, as defenders of freedom, to make hard choices: are we in the fight, or not?

It is basically a battle of wills.

So far I'm not impressed with the West, other than certain leaders like Tony Blair, Australian PM John Howard, and President Bush.

From the article:
... the thesis of "The Management of Savagery" is drawn from the observation of the Yale historian Paul Kennedy, in his book "Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" (1987), that imperial overreach leads to the downfall of empires. Naji began writing his study in 1998, when the jihad movement’s most promising targets appeared to be Jordan, the countries of North Africa, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen .... Naji recommended that jihadis continually attack the vital economic centers of these countries, such as tourist sites and oil refineries, in order to make the regimes concentrate their forces, leaving their peripheries unprotected. Sensing weakness, Naji predicts, the people will lose confidence in their governments, which will respond with increasingly ineffective acts of repression. Eventually, the governments will lose control.

Savagery will naturally follow, offering Islamists the opportunity to capture the allegiance of a population that is desperate for order. (Naji cites Afghanistan before the Taliban as an example.) Even though the jihadis will have caused the chaos, that fact will be forgotten as the fighters impose security, provide food and medical treatment, and establish Islamic courts of justice.

"The Management of Savagery".

The ... Management ... Of ... Savagery.

Savagery, The Management Of.

Think about that -- the whole movement is a gigantic hate crime against freedom-loving people everywhere.

Yet, to listen to some, we're supposed to get upset about making enemy combatants at Guantanamo uncomfortable for a few minutes.

OK, how about this? We shoot them immediately upon capture, instead. It's what they deserve, and it's in our best interests, and we have every right to do it, both by historical precedent, and by authority of the Geneva Convention.

"The Management of Savagery" is about political power. Terrorism, itself, is about political power. Always has been, always will be.

Yet, large segments of the Western world seem to want nothing more than to stick their heads in the sand, and pretend we can just take our ball and go home, so that the forces of terrorism will leave us alone. But they won't, and if you doubt that, I suggest to you that the people of Madrid on March 11, 2004 probably thought the same thing.

Islamist terrorists know the West is weak - that's why they are poking and prodding the beast. They know many in the West have no will to fight, and no respect for themselves or their culture. They want us to fight and be divisive, and to ultimately give up. And if we do, we accomplish their goals for them, and teach them that we are weak.

I.e., by taking our ball and going home, and by letting douche-tools like Dick Durbin compare our troops to Nazis and Guantanamo to a Gulag without apologizing in any meaningful way, we play right into the hands of the Islamist terrorists.

No thanks, I'm trying to cut down.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yeah, I Didn't Think So

I'd love to hear some kind of reasonable explanation for this:

The White House wants a $1.4 billion stimulus/national security package…for Mexico (Michelle Malkin, February 11, 2008)

I doubt that such an explanation is even possible though.

To have one, you'd have to find legal and rational justification for a plan to give money collected from U.S. taxpayers to the government of Mexico ... to defend Mexico's southern border from an invasion of Central Americans, many of whom are undoubtedly destined for the U.S. When at the very same time we hear U.S. policians invoke arguments against doing the same thing for our southern border.

Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

Monday, February 11, 2008

"Supporting the Troops"

Or "Insulting the Troops"?

Back in Novemeber 2006, Charles Rangel opened his considerable cake hole and offered this pearl of idiocy about our military:

"I want to make it abundantly clear: if there’s anyone who believes that these youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fella has an option of having a decent career or joining the army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life that he would not be in Iraq."


Is he just that dumb, to believe this old canard from the Vietnam War days? Which, by the way, wasn't even true then?

I already knew it was untrue from prior reading I've done. But just to prove a point, five minutes with Google and a reasonable search phrase was enough to point me to this Heritage Foundation study.

And guess what? Lower income recruits are under-represented compared to their percentage in the overall population. Upper income recruits are over-represented, and the gap grows the higher up you go in the income strata.

Or maybe Rangel just doesn't care if it's true, and is just pandering for the anti-war vote.


Rangel is completely wrong. Not that surprising; politicians are often wrong, especially when they open their mouths.

No, what is most interesting here is that nobody in the media called him on it, except for Best of the Web, which then got many, many letters and emails from those who have served or know those who did.

They seem to have a pretty unified message for him:

When people wonder why I dislike and distrust the mainstream media, and almost all politcians, but especially the supposed "liberals", so implicitly and completely, it's because of things like this. They can lie all they want about the very military that protects their sorry, contemptible asses. Because nobody calls them on it.

And so it encourages the insiped "Bush Lied" bumper stickers and cute key chains that clever people hook onto the outside of their purses to count down the seconds until Bush is out of office. And it encourages rehashed My Lai massacre stories like Haditha, which feed popular misconceptions about honor or the lack thereof.


I try really hard to avoid getting all pissed off about idiots any more. Not good for my health.

But I know I've just about had enough of all this. The myopia about WMD. The demonization of Bush and Cheney because they had the gall to try to exert American power in pursuit of American interests. Hauling out old, tired "recieved wisdom" from the Vietnam era that wasn't true then, and is completely irrelevant now. The smug superiority of risk-averse know-it-alls whose first choice is always to do nothing, rather than try something, but who reassure us they "feel" deeply about it, to legitimize their inaction.

Facts have been reduced to trivia questions.

This allows our media and our politics to float about aimlessly, unmoored, bouncing randomly off of the latest piece of useless and often completely incorrect "news".

Lots of us accept this as normal.

It is not normal. We don't tolerate evasiveness and obfuscation in our kids or our spouses. There, it's called "pathological lying". And to the extent that we accept it, we are "enablers".

And so what we're doing is enabling politicians -- who really should know better than to just throw wildly inaccurate statements out there -- to do it anyway ... because nobody calls them on it.

Likewise, we enable the media -- who continue to fail miserably at their centrist, non-partisan watchdog role, yet continue to be mystified at their declining influence and revenue streams -- to do it anyway ... because nobody calls them on it.

Think about what this means. We live in a country where both journalists and politicians routinely put complete bullshit out into the public sphere with no regard for the truth. They play us for fools.

They think we are too stupid to notice, or care, that what they'e putting out there is either flat out wrong, or only partially true.

And they might be right.

I've never understood why people put up with this. To put up with it is to be implicit in the deception.

This is one of the reasons I have a blog. To call "bullshit" on charlatans and knaves like Charles Rangel. Politicians and journalists are two groups that have enjoyed privilege and power for far too long, and they've done it largely by controlling the use of information to their advantage.

Lets hope the sand is running out of that particular hourglass.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Three People.

CIA Director Names Waterboarded Detainees

WASHINGTON (CBS News) ― CIA Director Michael Hayden publicly confirmed Tuesday for the first time the names of three suspected al Qaeda terrorists who were subjected to a particularly harsh interrogation technique known as waterboarding, and why.

"We used it against these three detainees because of the circumstances at the time," Hayden said during a Senate hearing. "There was the belief that additional catastrophic attacks against the homeland were inevitable. And we had limited knowledge about al Qaeda and its workings. Those two realities have changed."

Hayden said that Khalid Sheik Mohammed - the purported mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States - and Abu Zubayda and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were subject to the harsh interrogations in 2002 and 2003. Waterboarding is an interrogation technique that critics call torture.

Waterboarding induces a feeling of imminent drowning with the restrained subject's mouth covered and water poured over his face.
Three people. The big bad U.S. government has used waterboarding against ... three ... people.

How many people have been beheaded by Al Qaeda in Iraq? 10 or 15?

With all this hubbub about "torture" in Congress, and in the press, you'd think we had some kind of production line set up, where we strapped innocent women and children to waterboards at one end and drowned them at the other. But, as it turns out, not really. Three people. Three terrorists. That's it. And we got intel from them.

It's time to talk about torture. There are a variety of discussions to have about torture. One is about the Geneva Conventions, and who is covered by it. Another is about human rights groups like Amnesty International, and the use of torture as an issue to push their agenda. And there is another, about national sovereignty and security, which is the one that most concerns me.

I find it both instructive and highly annoying that this last point is so rarely discussed.

Fact: the world is a nasty place. It has always been a nasty place. It is only within the last 200 years or so that the idea of "human rights" even came into existence.

More to the point: other parts of the world don't subscribe to Western notions of human rights. And they probably never will. As much as the compassionate but naive Western liberal would like everybody to "just get along", any sober and rational look at the world has to conclude that it just can not ever happen.

It is a minor miracle, in fact, that it has happened at all, in any section of the world. And it hasmostly happened in lands settled by the British, who exported their concept of the rule of law along with Christian ethics and morality via missionaries. The combination then allows economic prosperity. I don't think this is by coincidence.

So it's very important to understand how new and uniquely Western the whole concept of "human rights" really is. As Westerners, some of us might like to pretend that our moral vision of the world is "better" and should be adopted by everybody else because ... well, just because. Good idea. Unrealistic expecations. I wish them luck in that endeavor.

What this means is this: when it comes to national security, the cost of being wrong is too high to play games that allow us to say "we played nicer than they did".

Some people would deny that this moral equation is true. I invite them to explore that in more detail.

This debate, more than any other, has convinced me that our nation is just not serious enough about defending itself.

And I say this as somebody who would not condone real torture. Like this: this is torture.