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December 28, 2009


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I'll have to read Hitchens to find out which "wicked theocratic ideology" he's referring to: ours or theirs...

I'm a bit surprised Janet has had such a hard time in Washington. She certainly seemed poised here. The sharks smell blood now and I suspect "Big Sis" (Matt Drudge's doubleloaded nickname) will soon be gone.

I think Hitchens wants to blame medieval religiosity but I wonder if it doesn't even go deeper than that. The Big Bright Tomorrow we experienced growing up was a brief idyll before air travel became a Dantean punishment. By that time the world itself had become disenchanted, a place where lost souls rummaged through cultural artifacts looking for lost Edens. Religion was one, of course, but it was nostalgia that took them there.

Yeah, I know we'll cope. We always do even as the wounds grow deeper. We'll scream about who's to blame and why we can never have nice things. Our politics now is little more than a dysfunctional family squabble where ghosts and demons occupy a dreary mental landscape.

Not to pass the buck, but shouldn't officials in Nigeria and the Netherlands share some responsibility for Mr. Abdulmutallab not being screened more properly?


Does or should U.S. officials share no-fly info with other countries?

Back in 1981 my sister and I spent the summer with our grandmother. Rather than flying back by ourselves, she drove us from Ft. Lauderdale to Silver Spring, MD. When we arrived at our dad's house and put our things down I asked where Napolean, our poodle, was. Dad told us the bad news: Poor Napolean had run into the street and gotten run over by a car. Our shock and sadness was compounded by the fact that our grandmother, a stern and judgmental woman, decided that the the dog's death was the fault of myself and my sister, though we weren't even home when the dog was killed. Why? Because we had failed to properly train the dog to not run into the street!

I'm all for criticizing the US when it's due, and in this case the US Embassy is culpable for issuing a visa to him when England had denied him entry and his own father called and warned them about him. But how is it Janet Napolitano's fault that the would-be bomber boarded a plane in Nigeria and another one in Amsterdam? Are the Nigerians and the Dutch not culpable at all?

By the way, the would-be bomber got his US visa issued June 16, 2008. Who was President then?

LOL on the 72 virgins crack, Jon. I've never found an appropriate place to post my martyr negotiation/plea: "Can't at least half of them have a little experience?"

There has been talk on TV about getting serious about security and directing all our security efforts against "Middle eastern persons who travel, since 100% of our terror acts come from this group. I would like to make the following politically incorrect observation: It would appear to me that historically, the religion of Islam works best under the iron fist of a harsh dictatorship. Islam and Democracy don't seem to work well together. Remember the "women are equal to farm animals" part of their religion. So, why are we trying to force democracy on them? I've never quite understood this. Don't we need to just leave them alone at the same time letting them know we don't expect to see them in our hemisphere, unless they have a gallon of oil to deliver .

"AZ REBEL" wrote:

"It would appear to me that historically, the religion of Islam works best under the iron fist of a harsh dictatorship."

I can't imagine what might be meant by this. Historically, Islamic terrorism is largely a recent development, developing out of Wahhabist strains of the religion.

Sayyid Qutb who was influential Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and 1960s was perhaps strongly influential in his later writings: but the violent radicalism of those seems to have developed after he was tortured by Nasser's police state which took power from the more tolerant monarchy.

Many similar radicalizations have taken place in response to similar treatment under other harsh regimes (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Algeria, Morocco, and Kuwait) and American support for such regimes has not contributed to America's popularity among such groups.

"...since 100% of our terror acts come from this group."

OK, but don't forget that at least half of the victims of Islamic terrorism in recent years have been Muslims themselves.

I suggest to you that there is no great love for this radical movement among the vast bulk of the adherents of the religion (many of whom belong to other sects and are regarded by the Wahhabists as apostate).

Instead of alienating these potential allies with inflammatory rhetoric labeling their religion as something monstrous which can only be kept in check by "the iron fist of a harsh dictatorship", and repeating crude and offensive stereotypes, a wiser course of action would be to take a more objective and informed view, enlist their assistance on the basis of common understanding and goals, and use the intelligence collected to target ACTUAL members of terrorist organizations. Nobody wants to be seen as a cultural sell-out: but if the two cultures are sympathetic there can be no sell-out in providing information about the violent radicals who are a common enemy.

Also don't forget that not everyone who is Muslim looks swarthy and hook-nosed; and that is true for a number of countries (e.g., in North Africa) where Muslims are a majority.

If I were a terrorist planner, my first priority, in response to knee-jerk targeting of Muslims in general, would be to enlist those who could pass as something else, in their skin color, grooming, and dress, and equip them with false passports from friendly countries. I might even use less passable decoys to supplement these. Thus, while you're tying your resources down to chasing every swarthy, bearded bloke from a Muslim country, the real terrorists would be able to slip past your (rather grossly constructed) filters.

I am giving away no secrets here, as all of this is well known on both sides. Except to a large, ill-informed, and racist segment of the American public, that is.

Emil, thank you for your comments. They are educational. I feel the American public is much more guilty of being ill-informed, than they are of being racist. Just as the Civil War here in the US, will never truly be over, the struggle between Christianity and Islam will go on until the final battle. My point is that we should not be over there trying to impose our style of living on vast populations who don't want to live like we do. I would just like to hear our "leaders" speak the truth to me once in my lifetime (50+ years). The truth being: We need oil. They have it. We intend to take it. They will get mad at us and strike us anyway they can. We will strike back, until they are all dead or the oil runs out. Now, if Americans don't like that, they can change their leaders. Just don't stand there and tell me that we are bringing democracy to a part of the world, that has operated "as is" for the past 2,000 years. As long as we are over there creating chaos, the persons who attack us will fit the profile of persons "from that area", whatever demographic description you choose to use. Again, I thank you for your input. I respect the comments you post in this forum.

I agree, AZ REBEL, that there is a great deal of hypocrisy in American foreign policy where rhetoric about "democracy" is concerned. How free is our close ally Saudi Arabia? How free was Iraq back when we supported Saddam Hussein against the Iranians (about the same time he was gassing the Kurds, etc.)? How free is China now?

I can't imagine what we're doing in Afghanistan as an occupying force. I don't mean how it started, with bombing in response to the sheltering (actual or supposed) of Al Qaida by the Taliban, but how it has continued with an occupation force, year after year after year.

The conventional explanation is that we're there to deny a safe haven to Al Qaida. Thus far we can't even do that in Afghanistan itself; but even if we could, the premise is belied by the fact that Al Qaida already has "safe havens" in a number of other countries, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, etc., etc., which we either can't invade for political reasons, or can't invade because we simply don't have the money and manpower to attack, occupy, and subdue governments and guerilla fighters in all of these countries.

Al Qaida has long since gone international, and everyone knows it, so why this talk about denying a safe haven to them in Afghanistan, when that hasn't even been possible in that single country?

It isn't as though there is a sophisticated infrastructure for them in Afghanistan anyway. Afghanistan doesn't have nuclear missiles, it doesn't have anything to speak of except mountainous deserts. If by "safe haven" all we mean are a few caves or crude buildings, we'll never be able to "deny Al Qaida safe haven" on a worldwide basis.

As for funding, the Taliban had actually eradicated the opium poppy crop prior to our invasion, by convincing the farmers that faciltating the narcotic trade was against Islam. How much conviction was produced by reasoned moral suasion, and how much was produced by terror, is an open question.)


And while it's true that since the invasion the Taliban has done an about-face, embracing opium as a funding source for the guerrilla war, Al Qaida has plenty of independent funding sources, particularly from wealthy Saudi Arabian donors sharing their extremist Wahhabist views.

The Taliban was never synonymous with Al Qaida, but we've driven them closer, so that the passive tolerance of Al Qaida by the Taliban has been transformed into shared resources and partially unified command structures. (About that tolerance: apparently, we wanted the Taliban to go into Tora Bora and elsewhere and accomplish what we, with all our military might, have been unable to do: catch Bin Laden and destroy his fighters, network, and resources.)

The longer we stay there, stirring up the hornet's nest, the more likely the civilians, fed up by constant attacks from both sides, are likely to sympathize with the Taliban, which despite its extremism shares cultural, religious, and traditional values with broad sections of the population; and the more likely they are to oppose the corrupt puppet government we've set up as well as the foreign invaders themselves. They know that as long as we are there, the fighting will go on, so better take the devil they know and end it as soon as possible.

As for the rights of women, an important and laudible goal, don't forget that women didn't get the vote in the United States until 1920. Obviously the Taliban took repression of women to a degree of cruelty and control not to be winked at; but can we justify the invasion of every country which fails to grant its citizens equal rights?

I don't see oil as the reason for being in Afghanistan either. Again, I'm baffled by our foreign policy, except as a kind of automatic pilot based on past tendencies. If you have a good explanation I'd like to hear it.

P.S. I wrote above:

"The Taliban was never synonymous with Al Qaida, but we've driven them closer, so that the passive tolerance of Al Qaida by the Taliban has been transformed into shared resources and partially unified command structures."

Note that with respect to "partially unified command structures" (possibly a misleading hyperbole) I was thinking about Pakistan, not Afghanistan:

"Al Qaeda’s leaders — a predominantly Arab group of Egyptians, Saudis and Yemenis, as well as other nationalities like Uzbeks — for years have nurtured ties to Pakistani militant groups like the Taliban operating in the mountains of Pakistan. The foreign operatives have historically set their sights on targets loftier than those selected by the local militant groups, aiming for spectacular attacks against the West, but they may see new opportunity in the recent violence."


My understanding is that the Taliban movement in Afghanistan is largely isolated, in its command structure, from Al Qaida, especially since late 2008:


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