American Mosques Say Kill Converts, Beat and Rob Homosexuals, Hate The Filthy JewsA Little Green Footballs Roundup
First off, 10,000 people have run for their very lives to get out of Yala
, Thailan (dubbed the "City of Peace" by the UN):
Yala — Fear for their safety has pushed more than 10,000 people out of Yala, the southern city recognised as a “city of peace” last year by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
In March last year 77,000 people lived in the municipality. But the latest census reveals the city’s population has dropped by 12,000 to only 65,000.
Pongsak Yingchoncharoen, mayor of the Yala municipality, said people have lost confidence in the safety of their lives and property after the arms robbery at a military camp in Narathiwat’s Cho Airong district on Jan 4 last year.
Next up, it seems Democratic Congressman, John Conyers thinks it's time for the United States to take it's first steps towards Sharia Law
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives condemning bigotry and religious intolerance, and recognizing that holy books of every religion should be treated with dignity and respect.
Whereas believers of all religions, including the Abrahamic faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, should be treated with respect and dignity;
Whereas the word Islam comes from the Arabic root word meaning “peace” and “submission”;
Whereas there are an estimated 7,000,000 Muslims in America, from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, forming an integral part of the social fabric of America;
Whereas the Quran is the holy book for Muslims who recite passages from it in prayer and learn valuable lessons about peace, humanity and spirituality; Whereas it should never be official policy of the United States Government to disparage the Quran, Islam, or any religion in any way, shape, or form;
Whereas mistreatment of prisoners and disrespect toward the holy book of any religion is unacceptable and against civilized humanity;
Whereas the infringement of an individual’s right to freedom of religion violates the Constitution and laws of the United States: Now, therefore, be it
1 Resolved, That the House of Representatives–
(1) condemns bigotry, acts of violence, and intolerance against any religious group, including our friends, neighbors, and citizens of the Islamic faith;
(2) declares that the civil rights and civil liberties of all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith, should be protected;
(3) recognizes that the Quran, the holy book of Islam, as any other holy book of any religion, should be treated with dignity and respect; and
(4) calls upon local, State, and Federal authorities to work to prevent bias-motivated crimes and acts against all individuals, including those of the Islamic faith.
No, sorry Mr. Conyers. We Americans are not falling for it. We love Freedom of Speech. In America, freedom means never having to say you're sorry for submerging a crucifix in a glass of urine, taking a picture of it, and featuring it at your opening at the Museum of Contermporary Art.
The Atlantic Monthly featured a small article recently, about the radical brand of Saudi-funded Wahabbi Islam which is "widespread" in Mosques in the United States
Saudi Arabia has long been generous to Muslims in America. Not only does the House of Saud supply funding to build mosques in the United States, but it provides a wealth of religious literature to stock those mosques’ libraries and study halls. What does that literature say? Representatives from the human-rights organization Freedom House spent a year sampling Saudi-supplied literature at mosques in major American cities, and encountered a variety of troubling texts.
Among other things, Muslims are urged to avoid befriending Jews and Christians; to treat their time in the United States as they would a trip behind enemy lines; to revile Sufism, Shia, and other non-Wahhabi variants of Islam; to rob and inflict violence on Muslims who engage in homosexual acts; and to kill Muslims who convert to other faiths.
The usual anti-Semitic slurs are recycled (The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, for instance, is treated as a historical document in Saudi-donated textbooks), and many of the publications urge that women be required to wear veils and banned from various jobs. The report allows that most of these documents were supplied in the 1980s and 1990s, and that the government of Saudi Arabia claims to be “updating” its books and study materials. But the researchers add that the titles in question remain “widespread and plentiful” in the United States, and continue to be used in the education of Muslims here.
Think about that; literature spread in houses of worship says to "kill" Muslims who leave the faith, to beat and rob homosexuals, and to hate the Jews because they are plotting to take over the world.
What kind of religion is this that we have allowed to grow and fester under our noses?
If such literature were found in a Christian church - a single Christian church - can you imagine the uproar?
Freedom Is The First PrincipleSome Thoughts On the Exporting Of Democracy
From Marlowe's Shade
Spengler had a very interesting response to in his letters section to a reader who proposed that the greatest threat to Islam may come from a burgeoning Christian population south of the Sahara. Spengler agreed:
Prof Philip Jenkins of Pennsylvania State University predicts an "historical turning point" in Christianity, "one that is as epochal for the Christian world as the original Reformation". In the October 2002 edition of The Atlantic Monthly, he wrote,
"In the global South (the areas that we often think of primarily as the Third World) huge and growing Christian populations - currently 480 million in Latin America, 360 million in Africa, and 313 million in Asia, compared with 260 million in North America - now make up what the Catholic scholar Walbert Buhlmann has called the Third Church, a form of Christianity as distinct as Protestantism or Orthodoxy, and one that is likely to become dominant in the faith." (Click here for the article.)
This may look like a "Third Church" to Catholic eyes, but what I perceive is the proliferation of Anglo-Saxon, that is, American, Christianity, albeit in the patchwork raiment of local peoples. Growth of church membership in the southern hemisphere concentrates in denominations of American or British origin.
Observes Prof Jenkins, "it is Pentecostals who stand in the vanguard of the Southern Counter-Reformation. Though Pentecostalism emerged as a movement only at the start of the twentieth century, chiefly in North America, Pentecostals today are at least 400 million strong, and heavily concentrated in the global South. By 2040 or so there could be as many as a billion, at which point Pentecostal Christians alone will far outnumber the world's Buddhists and will enjoy rough numerical parity with the world's Hindus."
He concludes with this fascinating point about the "kernel" of democracy:
The secularists who dominate American foreign policy seem to think that they can export the shell of the American system, namely its constitutional forms, without its religious kernel. It seems that the peoples of the South know better. It is no stranger that America's hold over the world's imagination should find religious expression first and political expression later, than that radical Protestants should have founded America in the first place.
The new Christians of the South will surprise us for ill as well as good. Such matters of the spirit lie beyond anyone's capacity to predict and well may have huge strategic impact, as you observe.
Spengler likes this idea so much he continues the thought in a related letter:
That America's roots are Hebrew rather than Greek is widely argued. See for example the Catholic writer Michael Novak's On Two Wings (San Francisco 2002):
"The way the story of the United States has been told for the past 100 years is wrong. It has cut off one of the two wings by which the American eagle flies, her compact with the God of the Jews - the God of Israel championed by the nation's first Protestants - the God who prefers the humble and weak things of the world, the small tribe of Israel being one of them; who brings down the mighty and lifts up the poor; and who has done so all through history, and will do so till the end of time."
His book contains many an interesting anecdote, although from an American vantage point, therefore, even the crack addict is important in the sight of God (although I believe a crack addict once convicted of a serious offense may lose the right to vote in American elections).
Democracy does not work unless the people truly believe that the individual is sovereign - not the people, I hasten to add. Since the odious J J Rousseau, we have had enough varieties of the "fuehrer principle" to choke on, in which an absolute leader embodies the spirit of the nation, disdaining the vulgarities of democracy in which candidates must persuade even crack addicts. One cannot be a little bit pregnant. Either the individual as a living image of God has such rights as pertain to his station, or not.
If democracy comes to the peoples of the southern hemisphere it will come as a consequence of the evangelizing described above ...not as a set of transitional measures by the political scientists of the Pentagon.
I don't wholly agree with the ideas presented here by Spengler. Spengler seems to be saying that Democracy can only grow in Africa after
Christianity has grown there. Nuh uh, don't agree. Nope, non, nein.
However, I must say, we do need to give careful consideration to the fact that modern Democracy sprang from a society (the first modern Democracy being America) founded on the ideas of the Christian Reformation, melded with a deep understanding of the Hebraic roots of Christ's teachings.
The unique idea of the Christian Reformation is that every individuals has direct access to God, through prayer. No intermediary is needed in the form of a Priest, Bishop, Cardinal, or Pope. It is a very small step from such a notion to the idea that government is of the people, by the people, and for the people.
But, getting back to my disagreement with Spengler, how would he account for Japanese Democracy? Or Indian Democracy? Or the free market Democracies that Hong Kong and Taiwan have enjoyed?
The desire for freedom truly does beat in the hearts of all men. That's the answer. It isn't a "Christian" desire. However, in my opinion, it is a desire put there by the same God who Created us, and sent Christ to Earth to teach us how to love.
And part of freedom is that people need to be able to choose to ignore Christ, to ignore Christianity, and to ignore the Word of God. And no matter how much people ignore God, they still want to be free, and deserve to be free.
I think we need to understand that that's the way God planned it. He wants us to be free to choose for better or worse, richer or poorer, good or evil. So, freedom is the first principle. It comes before everything else. Nothing should get in it's way.
You Will Know Them By Their Fruits
The International Institute for Strategic Studies is hardly a champion of United States policy. But, in this new report they find they have to admit that some of what we do is actually working.From Little Green Footballs
LONDON (AFP) - Washington’s policies of promoting democracy in Iraq and elsewhere look “increasingly effective”, and even the threat from terrorism abated slightly during 2004, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said in an annual report.
The London-based think-tank noted however that the situation in Iraq was also creating a recruitment effect for terrorist groups, an aspect which remained “the proverbial elephant in the living room” of US foreign policy.
The report said that the improvement in the overall strategic climate was helped by factors such as the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, but it added that US President George W. Bush’s foreign policies also seemed to be bearing fruit.
“Even though the Bush policy was bold, controversial and sometimes divisive, his aggressive global agenda of promoting freedom, and democracy appeared increasingly effective,” the IISS said in its 384-page “Strategic Survey 2004-05”.
Counter-terrorism efforts over the period had also seen an overall net gain, the report argued, despite the seemingly “counterproductive” aspects of some of the United States’s self-declared “war on terror”.
Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes.
Taking The Sword From The Thief And Pointing It At His Heart
I love it when Christians pick up an idea from secular philosophy, like a victim stealing a sword from a thief, and turning it on him. The secular world is left standing there going, "Wait, you guys can't do that. You're Christians.
Oh, but we can.
Watch here as Ashley Woodiwiss borrows an idea from Deconstructionism (the idea being that we all play a part in determining the narrative of any given text) and decides that we Christians have the right to "Re-narrate" reality without the word secular.
Ah hah, my good man. Touche'.
From Christianity Today
:As the popular radical philosopher Slavoj Zizek routinely points out to his audiences, in our age of ordained transgressions, there is nothing quite so radical as what G.K. Chesterton called the "thrilling romance of orthodoxy." Thus in our besotted age, orthodoxy becomes for Zizek (the fighting atheist) as for Chesterton (the traditionalist Catholic), "the most dark and daring of all transgressions." We ought not to be surprised then, that at the dawn of the 21st century a movement dubbed Radical Orthodoxy (RO) has emerged at the cutting-edge of theology and postmodern philosophy.After a thorough and searching interrogation of RO by means of his own Kuyperian Reformed tradition, Smith concludes: "Radical Orthodoxy should push us to reconsider our faith and practice in a post-secular world." At its heart, RO might be understood as a massive theological project to re-narrate reality.Its target is the modern notion of the "secular" as an autonomous realm of thought, word, and deed. So the founding text of RO, John Milbank's Theology & Social Theory (Blackwell, 1990), begins like a fairy tale: "Once there was no 'secular.' … The secular as a domain had to be instituted or imagined, both in its theory and in its practice."The totalizing nature of this constructed reality leads adherents of RO into just about all realms of inquiry in a sustained effort at critique. RO interventions can be found in academic disciplines such as politics, economics, linguistics, poetics, history, social and cultural theory, and even the natural sciences. (Pastorius note: Kind of reminds you of Feminist Theory, huh? Christians taking everything and redefining it in our own terms. Uh, and yes, by the way, I am laughing my ass off as I post this.)Not surprisingly, criticism of RO has arisen at each juncture, surfacing from both religious and secular sources. While religious critics often go after RO theorists on theological, denominational, or biblical grounds, more secular critics find the movement, in Smith's words, either "too Christian, too confessional, or too dogmatic."But RO theologians remain undaunted and continue to produce their theologically inspired, postmodern informed re-narrations of economics (Daniel Bell and Stephen Long), culture (Graham Ward), politics (William Cavanaugh), and theology/philosophy (Milbank and Catherine Pickstock). The literature of the movement is often dense, abstract, complex, impenetrable, out-of-reach, and off-putting. (Pastorius note: Once again, taking the gun and pointing it right back at 'em.)And yet as Smith and other critics note, what RO seeks to accomplish is hugely important not only for Christian academics but also (if it can be translated into more common parlance) for the life of the church, especially in the West. For what RO is after is nothing short of what Milbank describes as "an alternative version of modernity." In the RO version, modernity, that historical moment that witnesses the rise of liberal democracy and capitalism must be seen as a pure project of power whereby the church and its account of reality has been forcibly ejected from its earlier and necessary public space whereby it forms the soul according to the truth and beauty of God. As such the modern state has arisen as a device of and for liberal absolutism. Its message is individual human liberty, and it brooks no counter-version to its story.In terms similar to those found in certain postmodern philosophers, from whom they borrow without completely buying, RO theorists and theologians (re-) describe the modern state not as "tolerant," "pluralistic," or "free" in the standard sense of those terms, but rather like Hobbes in Leviathan when he describes the state's sovereign power as that "mortal God." For them, the state has become the actual replacement for the church, replete with its own liturgies, vestments, rites, practices, saints, holy days, and disciplines. Rather than fitting us for heaven, the state and its multiple apparati (media, education, professions, etc.) form us for service and allegiance to the state and its needs. At one time, Christian subjects fought and died, they believed (perhaps mistakenly), for the sake of Jesus; now Christian citizens fight and die for the American way of life. Some would say that this is in fact just what the state (carefully regulated and watched) should be about; and that a certain amount of material or cultural excess is well worth the price for a secured personal and religious liberty. After all, soul-crafting as the hobby of states leads almost inevitably to internal oppression and external war. But the concern for RO theologians extends beyond a critique of the modern state and its operations; it extends to why we as Christians must recognize what modernity (with its liberal state and free market) is really up to. So in the words of William Cavanaugh (the most accessible RO theologian):The invention of religion as a private leisure activity allows people to fit into the state and market without conflict, … Private religion is meant as a refuge, a solace for tired shoppers and harried office workers. Religion helps us escape from or cope with, but not change, the frenetic pace of life in consumer society.What Smith from his Reformed tradition, and RO theologians from their more Anglo-Catholic perspectives, seek is to re-direct Christian loyalties and re-form Christian affections away from the state (unlimited power) and market (unbounded desire), and bend them back towards the church which exists in the world, through God's Spirit, as the singular exemplary human community.And that would make orthodoxy radical indeed.
What it comes down to is, we Christians will not allow everyone else to define the world for us, just as non-Christians, understandably, will not allow Christians to define the world for them.
Defining reality is the essence of Free Speech after all.
Like I said, Touche'. This ought to be a fun joust.
Al Jazeera Confirms ItAmerican War Plans Are Working
Al Qaeda's Chief in Iraq, Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi is reportedly dying from a gunshot wound suffered in Operation Matador. But, that didn't stop Al Jazeera from running footage of an old interview with him recently. From Front Page Magazine
:Yesterday, as part of a special background profile, Al-Jazeera aired the first known video footage of Al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi. The following are excerpts from the profile. To view the clip, visit here.Reporter: "Perhaps no man has experienced the paradox of living in the dark while all the world's spotlights are focused on him as much as the mysterious Jordanian, Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi. "This makes him somewhat similar to Osama Bin Laden and the rest of the Al-Qaeda leaders. He differs from them in that he has refrained from sending televised messages, especially in the past two years, in which his star shone as the most brutal leader of the armed militants fighting the Americans in Iraq. "Before that, only a few people had heard the name Al-Zarqawi or knew what he looked like. But when he began to be pursued as America's most wanted man in Iraq, this myth gave rise to attempts to describe him as a symbol of the struggle by some, and a horrifying nightmare by others, while questions regarding his personality and goals still arouse much controversy."
Voice of Al-Zarqawi: "With Allah's help, we raid them as they raid us, and attack them as they attack us."
Reporter: "Al-Zarqawi, whose real name is Ahmad Fadil Nazzal Al-Khalayla, was born in 1966 in the Jordanian city of Zarqa, to a family from the Bani Hasan tribe. He spent his childhood in a poor and crowded environment, and in his teens, he became what they call a neighborhood bully. He soon turned to religion and began to frequent mosques, where he made friends with members in Islamic groups calling for Jihad.
"In the late 1980's, Al-Zarqawi joined the so-called 'Jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.' There he met a man named Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdissi, and after returning to Jordan, the two formed what came to be known as the 'Al-Tawhid' group. Its members were arrested by Jordanian security forces in 1994, and were tried in the State Security court.
"Al-Zarqawi's five years in jail shaped his personality more and more. The court later sentenced to death in absentia after convicting him of planning the assassination of the American diplomat Thomas Foley [sic. The diplomat's real name was Laurence Foley] in Amman. His personality led him to Iraq, where he engaged in bloody incursions with both the Americans and the Iraqi security forces.
"This enabled him to reach an agreement with Osama Bin Laden. The two united, and Bin Laden appointed Al-Zarqawi 'Emir' of the so-called 'Qaedat Al-Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers (Iraq).'"
In case you missed it, that's Al Jazeera confirming that the Americans war plans are working. Take the fight to Arab turf, and the terrorists will come from all corners of Dar al-Islam (Land of Islam) to meet us in battle. Official confirmation: Al Qaeda is in Iraq, with Bin Laden's blessing.
For those of you keeping score at home, that means we're fighting them there
in Iraq, rather than them fighting against us here in the U.S.
Woman Outside U.S. Embassy In Jakarta, IndonesiaAnti-Semitism In The Global Village
Yes, that's right, in Indonesia, where they've never even seen a Jew, still they hate the Jews.
Oh, what a world, what a world.
Anyway, I guess such insanity leads to this kind of insanity
JAKARTA (Reuters) - The death toll from two explosions that ripped through a crowded market place in eastern Indonesia on Saturday rose to 19, El Shinta radio reported.
“Based on data provided by the Central Sulawesi police, so far 19 people have died,” El Shinta, Indonesia’s top news radio station, reported.
To the Jew first, and then the Gentile.
King Fahd Is Dead?Long Live The King
Considering the surreal circus that developed around the death of Arafat (where for several weeks after his apparent date of death, we were treated to alternating reports that he was dead, or not dead, or improving, or even iceskating. Ok, I made that last one up, but still...) it could be that King Fahd is already beneath the sod. From Associated Press
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - King Fahd, whose efforts to strengthen ties between Saudi Arabia - the world's largest oil exporter - and the United States provoked the wrath of Islamic militants, was hospitalized Friday, apparently suffering from pneumonia.
Fahd's half brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, has been Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler since Fahd suffered a debilitating stroke in 1995. Abdullah is expected to become king should Fahd die.
Fahd's hospitalization triggered reports that an emergency had been declared in the kingdom.
Officials said on condition of anonymity that an alert had been declared and that military leaves had been canceled or at least discouraged. However, this was firmly denied by the Interior Ministry.
"This is absolutely not true," ministry spokesman Mansour al-Turki said. "There's no canceling of leaves and no state of emergency or anything."
The official Saudi Press Agency said that Fahd, who is believed to be 82, was admitted to King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Riyadh for unspecified medical tests.
But reports of Fahd's deteriorating health had been blamed for sending the Saudi stock market tumbling 5 percent earlier in the week. Friday's news that he was taken to a hospital helped push crude oil futures to near $52 a barrel ahead of the U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend, the start of the American summer driving season.
Saudi Arabia's strategic importance as the holder of the world's largest oil reserves and the fact that it is home to Islam's two holiest shrines means even a stable succession could impact world markets and have widespread political fallout.
"We ask God to keep and protect the Custodian of the Two Holy Shrines, grant him health and well-being," said the royal office statement announcing the hospitalization, carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
During his rule, Fahd brought the kingdom closer to the United States. His most significant action was a step that enraged many Islamic extremists - allowing the basing of U.S. troops on Saudi soil after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
Bin Laden, the al-Qaida leader, cited the U.S. troops' presence as a main provocation for launching the Sept. 11 attacks as well as a wave of violence inside the kingdom.
The U.S. military withdrew all its combat forces from Saudi Arabia in 2003 after major combat operations in Iraq were declared over. But a small military contingent stayed behind in a training and advisory role to Saudi armed forces.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have been talking in recent months about organizing joint training exercises for U.S. and Saudi ground combat forces on Saudi territory.
During his rule, Fahd tried to balance overtures toward the West with concessions to hard-liners, hoping to boost his Islamic credentials.
Sometimes You Just Gotta Love Your Enemies
From Little Green Footballs
Tehran, 27 May (AKI) - Hojatolislam Gholam Reza Hasani, a representative of Iran’s supreme spiritual leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, in Iranian Azerbaijan, has no doubts as to who to vote for in the next presidential elections on 17 June. “You need to vote for Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani,” said Hasani. “This way we will finally be able to have for ourselves the atomic bomb to fairly stand up to Israeli weapons,” said Hasani.
“Freedom, democracy and stupidities of this type cannot be carried over to any part, and these concepts are out of sync with the principles of Islam,” said Hasani, the imam who led Friday prayers in the main city of western Iranian Azerbaijian.
“Islam always spoke with the sword in the hand and I don’t see why now we have changed attitudes and talk with the other civilisations.”
You just gotta love your enemies, when they tell the truth. Thanks, Hojatolislam Gholam Reza Hasani. Now, we know where you stand.
Wow, and you work for Iran's Supreme Spiritual Leader? You can't get much more representative of Iranian thought than that.
The Correct Unified Comprehension Of Islam
From The Weekly Standard
ON MAY 14, 2005, PAX-TV's Faith Under Fire broadcast a debate that I took part in against Mahdi Bray, the executive director of the Muslim American Society's (MAS) Freedom Foundation. Bray had selected the debate topic in advance, and chose to argue about "The United States of Islam?"--that is, whether American Muslims wanted to see Islamic law (sharia) implemented in the United States. While I unwaveringly agreed that most American Muslims don't want to see the United States ruled by Islamic law, I nonetheless jumped at the chance to debate this topic against Bray. After all, the Chicago Tribune recently published a story detailing how the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood operates in the United States as none other than MAS. So while most American Muslims don't want to see the United States governed by sharia, Bray's organization does.
And while researching for the debate, I found that MAS--except in its most public of statements--is quite open about its agenda and allegiances. Even a brief review of various MAS chapters' websites provides a revealing look at what the national organization is teaching its members.
THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD is an international Islamist group that largely operates underground and behind the scenes, with branches in about 70 countries. The Brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, an Egyptian schoolteacher who--in the wake of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and abolition of the caliphate--bemoaned the sickness of the Ummah, or larger Muslim community.
The Brotherhood's response to this perceived sickness was to emphasize doctrinally that Islam encompasses all the affairs of man. As al-Banna wrote, "Islam is faith and worship, a country and a citizenship, a religion and a state. It is spirituality and hard work. It is a Qur'an and a sword." The group also emphasizes that Islam is a universal faith. As al-Banna put it, Islam "has encompassed all aspects of human life, for all peoples and nations, and for all times and ages."
Because the Brotherhood views Islam as all-encompassing and universal, one of its highest goals is to spread Islamic law. The Chicago Tribune explains that the controversial "ultimate goal" of the U.S. Brotherhood is "to create Muslim states overseas and, they hope, someday in America as well."
Brotherhood members did emphasize to the Tribune that they operate within the laws of the countries where they live:
They stress that they do not believe in overthrowing the U.S. government, but rather that they want as many people as possible to convert to Islam so that one day--perhaps generations from now--a majority of Americans will support a society governed by Islamic law.
Despite these pronouncements, the Muslim Brotherhood has not always been known for non-violence. The "Qur'an and a sword" outlook trumpeted by al-Banna is, for example, evident in the organization's militant motto: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." Consistent with this motto, Muslim Brotherhood members have been involved in such episodes as the assassination of Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi and the attempted assassination of Gamal Abdel Nasser.
One of the Muslim Brotherhood's most violent theoreticians was Sayyid Qutb, whose ideas heavily influenced Osama bin Laden's current conception of jihad. The 9/11 Commission Report explains Qutb's writings:
Three basic themes emerge from Qutb's writings.
First, he claimed that the world was beset with barbarism, licentiousness, and unbelief (a condition he called jihiliyya, the religious term for the period of ignorance prior to the revelations given to the Prophet Mohammed). Qutb argued that humans can choose only between Islam and jihiliyya.
Second, he warned that more people, including Muslims, were attracted to jihiliyya and its material comforts than to his view of Islam; jihiliyya could therefore triumph over Islam.
Third, no middle ground exists in what Qutb conceived as a struggle between God and Satan. All Muslims--as he defined them--therefore must take up arms in this fight. Any Muslim who rejects his ideas is just one more nonbeliever worthy of destruction.
While MAS leaders admit that their organization was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood, they claim that the two are now completely distinct. For example, MAS official Shaker Elsayed told the Chicago Tribune, "Ikhwan [Brotherhood] members founded MAS, but MAS went way beyond that point of conception." The fact that a MAS spokesman such as Bray feels comfortable publicly arguing that MAS does not want to see an Islamic state in America demonstrates the strength of its public disavowal of the Muslim Brotherhood.
On Faith Under Fire I stated that, consonant with the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda, MAS has made clear that it would like to see our constitutional order replaced with rule according to the Koran and Sunnah. In response, Bray stated definitively, "I would be very happy if we could just maintain the constitutional principles that we have in the United States."
He went on to say that, for the past two years, the MAS Freedom Foundation has been training Muslims about the Constitution and showing them how to "take full benefit of those beautiful things called the Bill of Rights." In fact, he accused me of taking words from MAS's websites out of context, and claimed that MAS's true agenda was "to support . . . the U.S. Constitution and to defend the Constitution against enemies both domestic and foreign."
Let us examine what MAS stands for today--with reference only to its own material that is readily available on the internet--and determine who was taking MAS's agenda out of context.
MAS's outlook is best reflected in its curriculum. While any Muslim can join MAS by paying $10 a month in dues, the group has various gradations of membership. MAS's highest membership class is "active" membership. To attain active member status, a Muslim must complete five years of community service and education. The website for MAS Minnesota outlines the objectives of MAS's active member program. These objectives include:
(1) Continue building the correct unified comprehension of Islam as outlined in the Message of the Teachings by Imam Al-Banna. . . .
(9) Make the member fulfill his duties as outlined in the Message of the Teachings by Imam Al-Banna.
Even a cursory review of The Message of the Teachings indicates that al-Banna's "unified comprehension of Islam" falls short of a call to defend the Constitution against enemies both foreign and domestic. In that book, al-Banna tells his fellow Muslims that they must work toward "[r]eforming the government so that it may become a truly Islamic government, performing as a servant to the nation in the interest of the people.
By Islamic government I mean a government whose officers are Muslims who perform the obligatory duties of Islam, who do not make public their disobedience, and who enforce the rules and teachings of Islam."
Moreover, al-Banna implores his followers to "[c]ompletely boycott non-Islamic courts and judicial systems. Also, dissociate yourself from organisations, newspapers, committees, schools, and institutions which oppose your Islamic ideology."
Al-Banna flatly states in The Message of the Teachings that violence is an acceptable means for spreading Islamic ideology: "Always intend to go for Jihad and desire martyrdom. Prepare for it as much as you can."
Nor is al-Banna's work the only one in MAS's curriculum to advocate the promotion of Islam through violence. MAS's adjunct members are required to read Syed Qutb's Milestones. Among other things, Milestones contains Qutb's exposition on "Jihad in the Cause of God," which is a refutation of those who claim that jihad encompasses only defensive warfare. Qutb states that jihad is, in fact, justified when the sole purpose is the establishment of Islam:
While Bray pointed out in our debate that MAS has educated Muslims about the American judicial system, that is not the issue. Muslims in America have no choice but to use the U.S. courts. Rather, the issue is one of respect for the liberal democratic traditions at the bedrock of our culture. While Bray tries to portray MAS as an organization that embraces these shared values, the group simultaneously teaches its members that all government should become Islamic and that non-Islamic judicial systems should be boycotted.
MAS has long played a double game where, despite its fringe outlook, it attempts to pass itself off as mainstream. When the Chicago Tribune began to lift the curtain on this deception with its investigative report, MAS's leadership quibbled with the portrait that the newspaper painted. Yet an even bigger indictment lies in the material that MAS requires its members to read--and in the book that it touts as "the correct unified comprehension of Islam."
Truth is, Christianity has the same goal. Ask any Christian what is your "Commission," and they will tell you it is to "go into all the world and preach the Gospel."
Difference is, Christians "preach" the gospel. They do not fight for it. Christians do not conquer in the name of Christianity, and force conversion. If a person rejects the Gospel, they are still afforded the same rights as Christians in Judeo-Christian societies such as America and Europe.
Point is, I don't believe there is anything inherently wrong in a person, or a group of people having an idea that they would like to spread to the whole world. When it comes right down to it, that's what Capitalism is all about.
I love that.
So, if there is nothing wrong with a group of people attempting to spread their idea to the whole world, then what do I find wrong with the MAS? The answer is simple; Sharia Law.
Sharia Law (the law of the land in Iran, Saudi Arabia, and several other Islamic nations) is the system of Law given to Mohammed by Allah, and layed out in the Koran. Under Sharia, the punishment for adultery is stoning. The punishment for Homosexuality is stoning. The punishment for stealing is the cutting off of a hand. Under Sharia, women are treated as second-class citizens, worth half as much in inheritance, their word not accepted equally in a court of Law.
This is not acceptable, and that is why I object to the MAS, and other organizations which would like to spread Sharia to the whole world.
Islam I have no problem with. Worship Allah, but do not expect to be able to force others to live under Sharia.
If A Tree Falls In The Forest ...
Joel Mowbray looks at what happens when a Muslim group throws a March Against Terrorism. From Front Page Magazine
:In the first of its kind for an event organized by a major national Muslim organization, Kamal Nawash and the Free Muslims Coalition (FMC) recently held the Free Muslims March Against Terrorism. Not surprisingly, the leaders of every other major Muslim organization shunned the march and declined to take a public stand against terrorism and extremism. Noticeably missing from the list of over 80 sponsors Nawash rounded up was any of the Muslim groups that claim to be moderates, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Though these groups pay lip service to opposing terrorism, they couldn’t put their money where their mouth is and bring themselves to stand side-by-side with the Free Muslim Coalition.
The reasons for the absence of the major national Muslim groups are obvious. The empirical evidence has clearly demonstrated where the true loyalties of organizations such as CAIR and MPAC lie. In this particular case, it is anathema for many Muslim groups to identify themselves with the unambiguous message of the rally. Nawash is among the few Muslim leaders—and certainly one of the very few leaders of the overtly political Muslim groups—to explicitly confront the real threat, the real root cause of terrorism: radical Islam.
Where most prominent Muslim leaders prefer ambiguity and moral equivalence, Nawash stakes out an unmistakable position, not only opposing just violent jihad, but the doctrines of Wahhabism and political Islam, as well. Nawash is, without exception, against the creation of Islamic states—anywhere. The other major Islamic organizations simply can’t take this position. Their refusal to back even Nawash’s message exposes their true sympathies.
If other Muslim groups could even go as far as condemning specific acts of Islamic terror, that would be a step in Nawash’s direction. But organizations such as CAIR, for instance, have pointedly refused to condemn Islamic terrorist organizations, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, or even specific Islamic terrorist attacks. The best example of the latter occurred after the murder, burning, stoning, and mutilation of four American contractors in Fallujah, Iraq. CAIR only condemned the mutilation as contrary to Islam, but did not specifically condemn the murder, burning, or stoning of the men—a position that was also taken by a leading Fallujah cleric.
MPAC’s terror apologist agenda has also become transparent. In a June 1999 publication, MPAC argued that Hezbollah’s 1983 attack killing 241 Americans in Lebanon was not a terrorist attack. From its “Position Paper on U.S. Counterterrorism Policy”: “Yet this attack, for all the pain it caused, was not in a strict sense, a terrorist operation. It was a military operation, producing no civilian casualties—exactly the kind of attack that Americans might have lauded had it been directed against Washington’s enemies.”
For participation in the rally, Nawash set a very low threshold: opposing terrorism. (Almost every speaker, though, was careful to condemn Islamic terrorism, and not just terrorism in the abstract.) By his own account, and by that of others, Nawash actively tried to enlist the support of other Muslim groups—but to no avail. Nawash most likely realized that no matter how low he set the bar, none of his counter-parts would endorse an event sponsored by a Muslim who unequivocally denounces Islamic terrorism and just as enthusiastically supports free societies for Muslims everywhere.
CAIR, MPAC, MAS and other Islamic leaders – shown up by the real moderate Muslims who locked arms with Nawash – were both testy and defensive. CAIR forwarded all calls to Hussein Ibish, the former Communications Director at the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), an avowedly secular Muslim who nevertheless does the dirty work of Islamists and radical Muslims. MPAC did not return calls seeking comment, and did not appear to have given comment to any other media outlet regarding the rally.
Of the two Muslim leaders who shunned the rally who were willing to give comment—Ibish and MAS Executive Director Mahdi Bray—both resorted to attacking the messenger.
In two rambling smear jobs at MuslimWakeUp.com, Ibish labeled Nawash’s FMC as “the ugly” among leading Muslim groups, and called Nawash’s invitation for other Muslim leaders to denounce radicalism a “crude ploy.” Ibish went so far as to say that Nawash’s contention that other Muslim leaders don’t denounce radical Islam is an “odious lie.” While Ibish find Nawash’s message “odious,” it’s flat-out wrong to say it is a “lie”—especially when applied to Ibish himself.
Appearing on CNN in August 2002, Mr. Ibish was asked about a 1991 fund-raising letter from suspected (and now indicted) terrorist Sami al-Arian that read, in part, “Jihad is our path! Victory to Islam! Death to Israel and victory to Islam! Revolution, revolution until victory! Rolling, rolling to Jerusalem!”
Rather than criticize those plainly radical—and violent—words, Ibish played defense. “‘Death to Israel’ does not necessarily mean violence. Jihad can mean a lot of things,” he explained. Ibish then abruptly switched the topic. “I’ll tell you who is advocating violence. It is Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who advocated torturing people.”
Nawash has clearly taken his lumps from the supposed moderate Muslim leaders, but that’s not to say he’s without a following. But think in the mode of the “silent majority,” although in Nawash’s case, sadly, it’s almost certainly the “silent plurality”—for now.
Common are e-mails and phone calls to Nawash where Muslims tell him how important his message is, and how glad they are to finally have a Muslim leader delivering it. But most still won’t side with Nawash publicly, which partly helps explain the rally’s modest turnout of roughly 150-200. Yet the rally was attended by several respected Muslim leaders, who gained a much wider audience with the rally’s repeated airings on C-SPAN.If there’s one thing that Nawash hopes to accomplish, it is to encourage other Muslims to speak up just as he has. Notes Nawash, “People who might want to speak out want somebody else to go first. Nobody wants to be a lone voice.” Though not exactly a lone voice, Nawash must feel like one some days—especially when he looks at his colleagues at the other national Muslim organizations.
Amnesty International's Political Agenda
First, from National Review
Amnesty International’s 2005 “Report” on worldwide human rights was released this week, and its contents have justly outraged Americans who support U.S. efforts in the war on terror — including the Washington Post which noted that Amnesty had “lost its bearings” and joined “in the partisan fracas that nowadays passes for political discourse.” Among other things, the report accuses the United States of “war crimes,” and openly compares the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with the Gulag Archipelago.
In addition, the executive director of Amnesty International USA has called on foreign governments to seize and prosecute American officials traveling abroad, just as a Spanish judge attempted to prosecute former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998. In fact, the report says much more about the nature of Amnesty International — and the agenda of similar left-wing nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) — than it does about the human-rights record of the United States.
First and foremost, Amnesty’s report is emphatically not an honest assessment of American compliance with international law. Rather, it is an assessment of how well the United States complies with Amnesty International’s political and ideological agenda — equivalent to the grading of individual members of Congress by domestic advocacy groups.
This is obvious from the report’s three fundamental measures of a good human-rights record, which are applied to every included state:
(1) whether the death penalty has been retained;
(2) whether the International Criminal Court treaty has been ratified; and
(3) whether the U.N. Women’s Convention, and its Optional Protocol, has been ratified.
All of these criteria involve controversial political issues where there is fundamental disagreement between right and left and — from Amnesty’s perspective — George Bush’s America fails on all counts. This, of course, is what you would expect, since the president is a conservative, elected by increasingly conservative American voters. Go read the rest
Do It Yourself
From National Review
Not long ago Pepsi Cola’s chief operating officer, Indra Nooyi, gave an address to the graduating class at Columbia Business School. In it, she metaphorically likened America to the middle finger on the global hand.
Denunciations and anger arose from her use of the silly metaphor.
Then came her employer’s obligatory explication that she really did not mean what she said. And soon her defenders claimed hypersensitive Americans could not take well-meaning admonishment. Pepsi is a $27 billion company. Those who run it, like Nooyi, make big money from its global sales and take-no-prisoners marketing approach. Pepsi is not known for worrying too much about putting indigenous soft-drink makers out of business. Here at home it does not often allow small businesses to offer both Coke and Pepsi in a spirit of consumer convenience and choice. Roughshod, no-holds-barred business gets such a company to the top — and allows multimillion-dollar salaries for its grandee hardball officers.
Former cricket-star-turned-Pakistani-politician Imran Khan in some ways jumpstarted the Newsweek-induced frenzy when in a May 6 press conference he demanded an apology for the alleged slight to the Koran. “This is what the U.S. is doing,” Khan boomed, “desecrating the Koran.” His mischaracterization, based on a lie, was then beamed across the Middle East — and, presto, Mr. Khan got the anti-American outburst he apparently wanted.
Khan may have made his fortune and name in the British tabloids as a soccer star and international playboy of the London salons, a lifestyle that had strong affinities with the West rather than the madrassas. But now he is back in Pakistan crafting a political career and catering to the Islamists, even though religious extremism is antithetical to what allowed him to succeed and prosper abroad. Yet this same demagogue earlier urged Hindu extremists to remain calm during a recent cricket match between India and Pakistan. After all, religious extremism is valuable to beat up the West and the United States — but not to the point that such fervor might endanger playing a Western sport amid frenzied Hindus. Left unsaid is that there is no place for an Imran Khan in the world of the Taliban, where soccer stadiums were used to lynch moderate Muslims, not enrich pampered athletes.
Arundhati Roy, the Booker-prize-winning novelist, has developed a second career critiquing the United States, especially its promotion of the free markets and capitalism that she believes are the catalysts for righteous hatred against America.
Roy doesn’t quite get that the reason that the UK recognizes an Indian novelist like her, writing halfway across the globe — and that she is able to jet over to the United States for lucrative speaking engagements, and that her books are mass-produced and hawked aggressively over global Internet book marts — is precisely the system that this child of capitalism so vehemently detests.
Pakistan, well before 9/11, was the recipient of billions of dollars in U.S. aid, and, in response, its intelligence services created the Taliban that in turn helped al Qaeda pull off September 11. India is making billions from an American free-trade policy that encourages outsourcing business overseas, even if it means the loss of U.S. jobs. Neither country has much of a legitimate gripe against the United States, and surely has not objected that its elites are going to the West to be educated, to profit — and, in these above cases, apparently to master the easy anti-Western rhetoric.
But note the anti-American two-step. Immediately after her silly remarks, the corporate mogul Nooyi provided a recant. Neither Khan nor Roy has vowed to stay out of the U.K. or the U.S., where the Koran is supposedly not respected and where the homeless starve as a result of capitalism — a system that both created and enriched them all and which they apparently love to chide.
There are easily identifiable constants in these sad examples. Rhetoric is always at odds with lifestyle: A novelist who tours and writes in English is the epitome of the Western liberal tradition that allows freedom of expression, promotes book sales through open markets, and enjoys unfettered peer review. Ms. Roy will always operate deeply embedded in the system she ridicules, and Western grandees will always pay her well for making them feel badly for a few hours. Islamists, Communists, and theocrats — in a Saudi Arabia, Iran, Cuba, or China — would not only not pay her, but might well issue a fatwa, jail time, or a death sentence for what they didn’t like to read or hear.
As a cricketer Khan made a fortune doing what most normal Westerners do not do. By some reports, corporate grandee Nooyi took in $5 million-plus a year — and lives a life that most Americans outside of Greenwich, Connecticut, and without her access to a globalized captain’s seat at PepsiCo could only dream of.
So it is not just the West per se that has enriched these megaphones, but the hard-driving, over-hyped culture of the West, as exemplified by marquee sports, highbrow publishers, and the Pepsi Corporation.
In other words, Khan, Roy, and Nooyi are, by their own volition, knee-deep in the supposed greed of the West in a way that most ordinary Americans surely are not. ... these ungracious operators all seem to gravitate to, profit from, and then spite the paradigm that created rich global business, media, publishing, and entertainment conglomerates — and themselves.
A final suggestion for these unhappy and privileged few: To end your obsessions with the pathologies of America and the West, find a way to create your own alternative sports, literature, corporations, soft drinks, and filmmaking in the non-West.
It is not that we Americans are mad at what you say. It is just that you have all become so hypocritical, then predictable, and now boring — you are all so boring.
I like sports, movies, books and Coca Cola. Is it really to much to ask that who make their fortunes off these quintessentially American (well, maybe not books, but free speech) American institutions should like them also?
And, is it too much to ask that these gods and godesses of Capitalism realize that their fortunes were made because of the freedom of Capitalism?
By the way, I want to note that Victor Davis Hanson started to shape a pretty interesting question in this essay, but never quite finished it. The question is:
If America is the Middle Finger of the Global Hand, then is Pepsi the free market equivalent of an exposed anus in a really florid, dropped-the-pants-and-bend-over, BA?
Official Palestinian Authority TV PreacherCalls For Death To America And Death To Jews
From Front Page Magazine
Under Yasser Arafat, Palestinian Authority sermons were filled with incitement, including calls to kill Jews and destroy America. Few in the West at the time understood the danger posed by these religious proclamations; those intimately involved in the peace process were often willing to overlook them.
The Khatibs, or preachers, who give such sermons, are paid employees of the PA. Their messages are broadcasted live every Friday at noon from mosques controlled by the PA and appear on official PA TV.
Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris was a favorite Khatib of Arafat. Mr. Mudeiris is based at the Sheikh 'Ijlin Mosque in Gaza and makes regular appearances during the coveted Friday noon timeslot. One of his notable proclamations about America, from September 5, 2003, was, "America will collapse ... we consider America to be our no. 1." On May 21, 2004, Mr. Mudeiris made reference to America again: "the American dog, the Byzantine dog of our days ... To the Byzantine dog, you son of a bitch, I have brought an enormous army upon you, that starts here and ends here." In sermon from March 21, 2003, he said, "Allah will drown the little Pharaoh, the dwarf, the Pharaoh of all times, of our time, the American president. Allah will drown America in our seas, in our skies, in our land ... America will be destroyed."
When Abu Mazen came to power following Arafat's death, he promised to end incitement. On December 3, 2004, he appeared live on PA TV at the President's Mosque as an audience member of an exceptionally moderate sermon calling for Palestinians to recognize and tolerate others, and to avoid extremism. Mr. Mudeiris was notably absent at the President's Mosque, but quietly reclaimed his pulpit and TV spot soon afterward.
Recent sermons by Mr. Mudeiris include one from April 15, 2005, in which he said that Muslims prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan were forced to convert to Christianity. In his sermon on February 4, 2005, he called for Palestinians to conquer Israel. This year's New Year sermon was devoted to the destruction of America: "America has reached the top and we admit it, but it is headed for a bottomless pit, Allah willing. America, which is being led by its current president, to a bottomless pit. He leads it to death and destruction, Allah willing. America's grave was dug by Bush the day he invaded Afghanistan. Bush prepared this grave on the day he invaded Iraq."
Throughout the year leading up to Arafat's death, Mr. Mudeiris kept busy inciting Palestinians. In reference to Jews and Israel on November 5, he blamed "these apes and pigs" for Arafat's death. On March 12, 2004, he explained "the Jews today ... are avenging their ancient forefathers, the sons of apes and pigs ... They deserve death ... We strike more fear into their hearts than their Maker."
Unlike American officials involved in the peace process under the Clinton administration, the Bush administration has been clear in its demands that Arab incitement end. When Abu Mazen visits the White House this week, he should be asked why an official religious representative of the PA has not only been inciting Palestinians against Jews and Israel, but also calling for the destruction of America.
Islamofascists Are Not InsurgentsInsurgents Rise Up Against An OppresorIslamofascists Stamp Down The Oppressed
From Melanie Phillips
A great piece by Christopher Hitchens skewers the moral bankruptcy of the language used by the New York Times when it talks about the 'insurgency' in Iraq:
'I don't think the New York Times ever referred to those who devastated its hometown's downtown as "insurgents." But it does employ this title every day for the gang headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. With pedantic exactitude, and unless anyone should miss the point, this man has named his organization "al-Qaida in Mesopotamia" and sought (and apparently received) Osama Bin Laden's permission for the franchise...
'A letter from Zarqawi to Bin Laden more than a year ago, intercepted by Kurdish intelligence and since then well-authenticated, spoke of Shiism as a repulsive heresy and the ignition of a Sunni-Shiite civil war as the best and easiest way to thwart the Crusader-Zionist coalition. The actions since then have precisely followed the design, but the design has been forgotten by the journal of record....
'In my ears, "insurgent" is a bit like "rebel" or even "revolutionary." There's nothing axiomatically pejorative about it, and some passages of history have made it a term of honor. At a minimum, though, it must mean "rising up." These fascists and hirelings are not rising up, they are stamping back down.
It's time for respectable outlets to drop the word, to call things by their right names (Baathist or Bin Ladenist or jihadist would all do in this case), and to stop inventing mysteries where none exist.'
But of course, as Hitchens implies, the reason why the NYT does not call the terror in Iraq by its proper name is because it is not seen for what it is -- the regional fulcrum of the global jihad against free societies -- but is viewed instead through the distorting prism of opposition to the toppling of Saddam, that morally compromised position at the dark heart of the madness that has all but consumed public debate in the west.
Amnesty International To World Governments
From Little Green Footballs
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 26 (OneWorld) - Rights watchdog Amnesty International urged foreign governments Wednesday to investigate and prosecute President George W. Bush much as they once did former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
”If the United States permits the architects of torture policy to get off scot-free, then other nations should step into the breach,” William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement launching Amnesty’s annual report.
Bush is among a dozen former or current U.S. officials who should be probed by foreign governments because Washington has failed to conduct ”a genuinely independent and comprehensive investigation” of torture allegations against U.S. troops, commanders, and their civilian overseers, Schulz said.
Others on the Amnesty list of potential targets for investigation and prosecution include Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief George Tenet.
”If the U.S. government continues to shirk its responsibility, Amnesty International calls on foreign governments to uphold their obligations under international law by investigating all senior U.S. officials involved in the torture scandal,” Schulz said.
”If those investigations support prosecution, the governments should arrest any official who enters their territory and begin legal proceedings against them,” he added. ”The apparent high-level architects of torture should think twice before planning their next vacation to places like Acapulco or the French Riviera because they may find themselves under arrest as Augusto Pinochet famously did in London in 1998.”
Rainbow Parties? What the ...?
From Michelle Malkin
So, what's a rainbow party?
Here's a rich irony: I'm writing today about a new children's book, but I can't describe the plot in a family newspaper without warning you first that it is entirely inappropriate for children.
The book is "Rainbow Party" by juvenile fiction author Paul Ruditis. The publisher is Simon Pulse, a kiddie lit division of the esteemed Simon & Schuster. The cover of the book features the title spelled out in fun, Crayola-bright font. Beneath the title is an illustrated array of lipsticks in bold colors.
The main characters in the book are high school sophomores supposedly typical 14- and 15-year-olds with names such as "Gin" and "Sandy." The book opens with these two girls shopping for lipstick at the mall in advance of a special party. The girls banter as they hunt for lipsticks in every color of the rainbow:
"Okay, we've got red, orange, and purple," Gin said. "Now we just need yellow, green, and blue.""Don't forget indigo," Sandy said as she scanned the row of lipstick tubes."What are you talking about?""Indigo," Sandy repeated as if that explained everything. "You know. ROY G. BIV. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.""That's seven lipsticks. Only six girls are coming. We don't need it."
What kind of party do you imagine they might be organizing? Perhaps a makeover party? With moms and daughters sharing their best beauty secrets and bonding in the process?
Alas, no. No parents are invited to this get-together. A "rainbow party," you see, is a gathering of boys and girls for the purpose of engaging in group oral sex. Each girl wears a different colored lipstick and leaves a mark on each boy. At night's end, the boys proudly sport their own cosmetically-sealed rainbow you-know-where bringing a whole new meaning to the concept of "party favors."
Why on earth would a publisher market such smut to kids? Says author Ruditis:
Ruditis says the book was never meant to sensationalize sex parties. "We just wanted to present an issue kids are dealing with," he says.
Moreover, Ruditis told Publisher's Weekly:
"Part of me doesn't understand why people don't want to talk about [oral sex]," he said. "Kids are having sex and they are actively engaged in oral sex and think it's not really sex. I raised questions in my book and I hope that parents and children or teachers and students can open a topic of conversation through it.
Rainbow parties are such an interesting topic. It's such a childlike way to look at such an adult subject with rainbow colors."
The truth is, while most 14 year-olds probably have sexual feelings, and sexual fantasies, most 14 year-olds do not actually want to be engaging in oral sex, or any kind of sex for that matter. Note that I am not making a categorical statement. I am saying most don't want to.
I remember what it's like to be fourteen. You're nervous and scared at that age. You're wondering about what life is about, and you are seeing things anew and with a sense of wonder. You don't want things to happen too fast, because something tells you that those wondrous things which are just coming into view, are very, very powerful.
In short, teenagers may think about sex, they may think they want to have sex, but most of them don't actually want it. Not right away.
I love sex. I'd like to have sex all day long. I'd rather have sex, than write about anti-Semitism, that's for sure. I'd rather write a sex blog, than an anti-Semitism blog. Yes, yes. Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex. It's great.
I say this just to let you know that not only am I not a prude, I probably err pretty far on the other side of the issue. My mouth has definately gotten me into trouble. (That's not a oral sex reference by the way. :) but I guess you can see what I mean when I say my mouth gets me into trouble.
Anyway, the point is, while I wish my world were even more filled with sex than it already is, I do not wish this on others. Particularly not on children.
I am a parent, and I must say, I am bothered by networks like Disney Channel and Nickolodeon. These networks market themselves as childrens programming, but if you leave you kid alone watching Sponge Bob for a half an hour, you're liable to come back and find them watching a show about dating. Yes, that's right. They transition seamlessly from shows for young children to shows with teenage topics.
I've had to eliminate those networks as options. I don't want my kids to start seeing life through the eyes of a teenager when they are only five.
Childhood is a great time. Why are we trying to steal it from our kids?
U.S. Official Says N. Korea May Collapse
From Associated Press
WASHINGTON - A top State Department official predicted on Thursday that North Korea's decision to remain isolated internationally will eventually lead to the collapse of its communist government. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said North Korea is showing no interest in taking lessons from the successes neighboring China has enjoyed from its reform program.
"It's a real problem," Hill said, alluding to North Korea's self-imposed isolation. "And it's a problem that will ultimately be their undoing." He said chronic food production problems along with a dysfunctional health care system are raising doubts about the sustainability of North Korea's rigid communist system.
Really? A communist government isn't viable? Hey Noam, Howard, I guess it's back to the drawing board.
In Which Pastorius Comes Out As A SupporterOf The "New Third Reich"
WARNING TO EVERYBODY: This post is from Mother Jones magazine. It is attacking America. It is long and repetitious. You might want to skip right past it and go on to my other posts.
In my opinion , this article makes some valid points. That is to say, it asks the question, why did Bush aides tell members of Blair's cabinent that they were already set on war with Iraq, when they hadn't yet made their case to the UN? Just so you'll understand why I am posting this, a friend of mine who really, really hates George Bush (in fact, he says the Bush Administration is the "new Third Reich") asked me to read this article from Mother Jones
about how Bush and Blair conspired to "fix" the evidence about WMD's. I said I would.
Thing is, I don't read articles the whole way through unless I'm going to blog about them, so here we go:
In its June 9 issue (on sale this week), the New York Review of Books will be the first American print publication to publish the full British "smoking gun" document, the secret memorandum of the minutes of a meeting of Tony Blair's top advisors in July 2002, eight months before the Iraq War commenced. Leaked to the London Sunday Times, which first published it on May 1, the memo offers irrefutable proof of the way in which the Bush administration made its decision to invade Iraq -- without significant consultation, reasonable intelligence on Iraq, or any desire to explore ways to avoid war -- and well before seeking a Congressional or United Nations mandate of any sort.
By July, as the British officials reported, the decision to invade was already in the bag. The only real questions -- other than those involving war planning -- were how to organize the intelligence in such a way as to promote the war to come and how to finesse Congress (and the UN). While people often speak of the "road to war," in the case of the invasion of Iraq, as this document makes clear, a more accurate phrase might be "the bum's rush to war." The Review is also publishing an accompanying piece on the secret memo and what to make of it by their regular Iraq correspondent, Mark Danner, and its editors have been kind enough to allow Tomdispatch to distribute the piece early on-line.
Congressman John Conyers has just sent a letter, signed by eighty-nine Democratic congressional representatives, to the President demanding some answers to the document's revelations. And articles by good reporters in major papers finally did start to appear late this week -- but those of John Daniszewski at the Los Angeles Times and Walter Pincus at the Washington Post were typically tucked away on inside pages (meant for political news jockeys), and they had a distinctly just-the-facts-maam, nothing-out-of-the-ordinary feel to them.
But shouldn't it be a front-page story that, as Danner points out below, all the subsequent arguments we've had to endure about the state of, and accuracy of American intelligence on Iraq, were actually beside the point?
After all, as the smoking-gun memo makes perfectly clear, the decision to go to war was made before the intelligence -- good, bad, or indifferent -- was even seriously put into play.
As the secret memo also makes clear, administration officials, and the President himself, had already rolled the dice and placed their bet -- on the existence of WMD in Iraq as an excuse for the war they so desperately wanted. (Their Iraqi exile sources had, of course, assured them that it was so and, as the Brits reported in July 2002, they were already wondering, "For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one [of an invasion].") After all, it seemed so logical. Saddam had used such weapons in the 1980s in the Iran-Iraq War and against Kurds in Iraq. American troops and UN inspectors had found such weaponry in profusion after our first Gulf War. So why not now as well?
The least commented upon aspect of the smoking-gun memo has been its military side.
It is, in significant part, a military document, reflecting how much serious thinking and planning at the highest levels in the U.S. and Britain had already gone into the question of how to have a war by July 2002. The question of how technically to launch the "military action" -- whether by a "generated start" or a "running start" -- was, for instance, front and center. Also addressed was the mundane but crucial issue (for the Pentagon) of where, around Iraq, to base forces. "The US," reads the memo, "saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either [the generated or running start] option." Diego Garcia is the British-controlled Indian Ocean Island that was already a stationary American "aircraft carrier" and from which, 8 months later, B-2s would fly on Baghdad. Since Danner -- whose book Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror does much to explain the nature of the fix the Bush administration now finds itself in -- covers the British document in great and fascinating detail below, let me just add a final note: To me, perhaps the most telling line in the memo, given what's happened since, is the observation of Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of M16 (the British CIA equivalent), just back from a U.S. visit, that "[t]here was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."
This line not only represented the greatest gamble the Bush administration's top officials would make, but the hubris with which they approached the taking of Iraq. As the British smoking-gun memo indicates in that single classic line, they placed their deepest faith in their conviction that, once the invasion was completed successful and Saddam had fallen, everything else in Iraq would simply fall into place as well.
Secret Way to WarBy Mark Danner
It was October 16, 2002, and the United States Congress had just voted to authorize the President to go to war against Iraq. When George W. Bush came before members of his Cabinet and Congress gathered in the East Room of the White House and addressed the American people, he was in a somber mood befitting a leader speaking frankly to free citizens about the gravest decision their country could make.
The 107th Congress, the President said, had just become "one of the few called by history to authorize military action to defend our country and the cause of peace." But, he hastened to add, no one should assume that war was inevitable. Though "Congress has now authorized the use of force," the President said emphatically, "I have not ordered the use of force. I hope the use of force will not become necessary."
The President went on:
"Our goal is to fully and finally remove a real threat to world peace and to America. Hopefully this can be done peacefully. Hopefully we can do this without any military action. Yet, if Iraq is to avoid military action by the international community, it has the obligation to prove compliance with all the world's demands. It's the obligation of Iraq."
Iraq, the President said, still had the power to prevent war by "declaring and destroying all its weapons of mass destruction" -- but if Iraq did not declare and destroy those weapons, the President warned, the United States would "go into battle, as a last resort."
It is safe to say that, at the time, it surprised almost no one when the Iraqis answered the President's demand by repeating their claim that in fact there were no weapons of mass destruction. As we now know, the Iraqis had in fact destroyed these weapons, probably years before George W. Bush's ultimatum: "the Iraqis" -- in the words of chief U.S. weapons inspector David Kaye -- "were telling the truth."
As Americans watch their young men and women fighting in the third year of a bloody counterinsurgency war in Iraq -- a war that has now killed more than 1,600 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis -- they are left to ponder "the unanswered question" of what would have happened if the United Nations weapons inspectors had been allowed -- as all the major powers except the United Kingdom had urged they should be -- to complete their work. What would have happened if the UN weapons inspectors had been allowed to prove, before the U.S. went "into battle," what David Kaye and his colleagues finally proved afterward?
Thanks to a formerly secret memorandum published by the London Sunday Times on May 1, during the run-up to the British elections, we now have a partial answer to that question. The memo, which records the minutes of a meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair's senior foreign policy and security officials, shows that even as President Bush told Americans in October 2002 that he "hope[d] the use of force will not become necessary" -- that such a decision depended on whether or not the Iraqis complied with his demands to rid themselves of their weapons of mass destruction -- the President had in fact already definitively decided, at least three months before, to choose this "last resort" of going "into battle" with Iraq. Whatever the Iraqis chose to do or not do, the President's decision to go to war had long since been made.
On July 23, 2002, eight months before American and British forces invaded, senior British officials met with Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss Iraq. The gathering, similar to an American "principals meeting," brought together Geoffrey Hoon, the defense secretary; Jack Straw, the foreign secretary; Lord Goldsmith, the attorney general; John Scarlett, the head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, which advises the prime minister; Sir Richard Dearlove, also known as "C," the head of MI6 (the equivalent of the CIA); David Manning, the equivalent of the national security adviser; Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, the chief of the Defense Staff (or CDS, equivalent to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs); Jonathan Powell, Blair's chief of staff; Alastair Campbell, director of strategy (Blair's communications and political adviser); and Sally Morgan, director of government relations.
After John Scarlett began the meeting with a summary of intelligence on Iraq -- notably, that "the regime was tough and based on extreme fear" and that thus the "only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action," "C" offered a report on his visit to Washington, where he had conducted talks with George Tenet, his counterpart at the CIA, and other high officials. This passage is worth quoting in full:
"C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action."
Seen from today's perspective this short paragraph is a strikingly clear template for the future, establishing these points:
1. By mid-July 2002, eight months before the war began, President Bush had decided to invade and occupy Iraq.
2. Bush had decided to "justify" the war "by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD."
3. Already "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
4. Many at the top of the administration did not want to seek approval from the United Nations (going "the UN route").
5. Few in Washington seemed much interested in the aftermath of the war.
We have long known, thanks to Bob Woodward and others, that military planning for the Iraq war began as early as November 21, 2001, after the President ordered Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to look at "what it would take to protect America by removing Saddam Hussein if we have to," and that Secretary Rumsfeld and General Tommy Franks, who headed Central Command, were briefing American senior officials on the progress of military planning during the late spring and summer of 2002; indeed, a few days after the meeting in London leaks about specific plans for a possible Iraq war appeared on the front pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post.
What the Downing Street memo confirms for the first time is that President Bush had decided, no later than July 2002, to "remove Saddam, through military action," that war with Iraq was "inevitable" -- and that what remained was simply to establish and develop the modalities of justification; that is, to come up with a means of "justifying" the war and "fixing" the "intelligence and facts...around the policy."
The great value of the discussion recounted in the memo, then, is to show, for the governments of both countries, a clear hierarchy of decision-making. By July 2002 at the latest, war had been decided on; the question at issue now was how to justify it -- how to "fix," as it were, what Blair will later call "the political context."
Specifically, though by this point in July the President had decided to go to war, he had not yet decided to go to the United Nations and demand inspectors; indeed, as "C" points out, those on the National Security Council -- the senior security officials of the U.S. government -- "had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record." This would later change, largely as a result of the political concerns of these very people gathered together at 10 Downing Street.
After Admiral Boyce offered a brief discussion of the war plans then on the table and the defense secretary said a word or two about timing -- "the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections" -- Foreign Secretary Jack Straw got to the heart of the matter: not whether or not to invade Iraq but how to justify such an invasion:
"The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss [the timing of the war] with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbors, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."
Given that Saddam was not threatening to attack his neighbors and that his weapons of mass destruction program was less extensive than those of a number of other countries, how does one justify attacking? Foreign Secretary Straw had an idea: "We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force."
The British realized they needed "help with the legal justification for the use of force" because, as the attorney general pointed out, rather dryly, "the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action." Which is to say, the simple desire to overthrow the leadership of a given sovereign country does not make it legal to invade that country; on the contrary. And, said the attorney general, of the "three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or [United Nations Security Council] authorization," the first two "could not be the base in this case."
In other words, Iraq was not attacking the United States or the United Kingdom, so the leaders could not claim to be acting in self-defense; nor was Iraq's leadership in the process of committing genocide, so the United States and the United Kingdom could not claim to be invading for humanitarian reasons. This left Security Council authorization as the only conceivable legal justification for war. But how to get it?
At this point in the meeting Prime Minister Tony Blair weighed in. He had heard his foreign minister's suggestion about drafting an ultimatum demanding that Saddam let back in the United Nations inspectors. Such an ultimatum could be politically critical, said Blair -- but only if the Iraqi leader turned it down:
"The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD.... If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work."
Here the inspectors were introduced, but as a means to create the missing casus belli. If the UN could be made to agree on an ultimatum that Saddam accept inspectors, and if Saddam then refused to accept them, the Americans and the British would be well on their way to having a legal justification to go to war (the attorney general's third alternative of UN Security Council authorization).
But there was a problem: as the foreign secretary pointed out, "on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences." While the British considered legal justification for going to war critical -- they, unlike the Americans, were members of the International Criminal Court -- the Americans did not. Mr. Straw suggested that given "US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum."
The defense secretary, Geoffrey Hoon, was more blunt, arguing "that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the U.S. did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush."
The key negotiation in view at this point, in other words, was not with Saddam over letting in the United Nations inspectors -- both parties hoped he would refuse to admit them, and thus provide the justification for invading. The key negotiation would be between the Americans, who had shown "resistance" to the idea of involving the United Nations at all, and the British, who were more concerned than their American cousins about having some kind of legal fig leaf for attacking Iraq.
Three weeks later, Foreign Secretary Straw arrived in the Hamptons to "discreetly explore the ultimatum" with Secretary of State Powell, perhaps the only senior American official who shared some of the British concerns; as Straw told the secretary, in Bob Woodward's account, "If you are really thinking about war and you want us Brits to be a player, we cannot be unless you go to the United Nations." 
Britain's strong support for the "UN route" that most American officials so distrusted was critical in helping Powell in the bureaucratic battle over going to the United Nations. As late as August 26, Vice President Dick Cheney had appeared before a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and publicly denounced "the UN route." Asserting that "simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction [and] there is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us," Cheney advanced the view that going to the United Nations would itself be dangerous:
"A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his compliance with UN resolutions. On the contrary, there is great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow 'back in the box.'"
Cheney, like other administration "hard-liners," feared "the UN route" not because it might fail but because it might succeed and thereby prevent a war that they were convinced had to be fought.
As Woodward recounts, it would finally take a personal visit by Blair on September 7 to persuade President Bush to go to the United Nations:
"For Blair the immediate question was, Would the United Nations be used? He was keenly aware that in Britain the question was, Does Blair believe in the UN? It was critical domestically for the prime minister to show his own Labour Party, a pacifist party at heart, opposed to war in principle, that he had gone the UN route. Public opinion in the UK favored trying to make international institutions work before resorting to force. Going through the UN would be a large and much-needed plus."
The President now told Blair that he had decided "to go to the UN" and the prime minister, according to Woodward, "was relieved."
That September the attempt to sell the war began in earnest ... At the heart of the sales campaign was the United Nations. Thanks in substantial part to Blair's prodding, George W. Bush would come before the UN General Assembly on September 12 and, after denouncing the Iraqi regime, announce that "we will work with the UN Security Council for the necessary resolutions." Though "the UN route" would be styled as an attempt to avoid war, its essence, as the Downing Street memo makes clear, was a strategy to make the war possible, partly by making it politically palatable.
As it turned out, however -- and as Cheney and others had feared -- the "UN route" to war was by no means smooth, or direct. Though Powell managed the considerable feat of securing unanimous approval for Security Council Resolution 1441, winning even Syria's support, the allies differed on the key question of whether or not the resolution gave United Nations approval for the use of force against Saddam, as the Americans contended, or whether a second resolution would be required, as the majority of the council, and even the British, conceded it would. Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador to the UN, put this position bluntly on November 8, the day Resolution 1441 was passed:
"We heard loud and clear during the negotiations about 'automaticity' and 'hidden triggers' -- the concerns that on a decision so crucial we should not rush into military action.... Let me be equally clear.... There is no 'automaticity' in this Resolution. If there is a further Iraqi breach of its disarmament obligations, the matter will return to the Council for discussion as required.... We would expect the Security Council then to meet its responsibilities."
Vice President Cheney could have expected no worse. Having decided to travel down "the UN route," the Americans and British would now need a second resolution to gain the necessary approval to attack Iraq. Worse, Saddam frustrated British and American hopes, as articulated by Blair in the July 23 meeting, that he would simply refuse to admit the inspectors and thereby offer the allies an immediate casus belli. Instead, hundreds of inspectors entered Iraq, began to search, and found...nothing. January, which Defence Secretary Hoon had suggested was the "most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin," came and went, and the inspectors went on searching.
On the Security Council, a majority -- led by France, Germany, and Russia -- would push for the inspections to run their course. President Jacques Chirac of France later put this argument succinctly in an interview with CBS and CNN just as the war was about to begin:
"France is not pacifist. We are not anti-American either. We are not just going to use our veto to nag and annoy the US. But we just feel that there is another option, another way, another more normal way, a less dramatic way than war, and that we have to go through that path. And we should pursue it until we've come [to] a dead end, but that isn't the case."
Where would this "dead end" be found, however, and who would determine that it had been found? Would it be the French, or the Americans? The logical flaw that threatened the administration's policy now began to become clear. Had the inspectors found weapons, or had they been presented with them by Saddam Hussein, many who had supported the resolution would argue that the inspections regime it established had indeed begun to work -- that by multilateral action the world was succeeding, peacefully, in "disarming Iraq."
As long as the inspectors found no weapons, however, many would argue that the inspectors "must be given time to do their work" -- until, in Chirac's words, they "came to a dead end." However that point might be determined, it is likely that, long before it was reached, the failure to find weapons would have undermined the administration's central argument for going to war -- "the conjunction," as ?C' had put it that morning in July, "of terrorism and WMD." And as we now know, the inspectors would never have found weapons of mass destruction.
Vice President Cheney had anticipated this problem, as he had explained frankly to Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons inspector, during an October 30 meeting in the White House. Cheney, according to Blix,
"stated the position that inspections, if they do not give results, cannot go on forever, and said the U.S. was 'ready to discredit inspections in favor of disarmament.' A pretty straight way, I thought, of saying that if we did not soon find the weapons of mass destruction that the US was convinced Iraq possessed (though they did not know where), the US would be ready to say that the inspectors were useless and embark on disarmament by other means."
Indeed, the inspectors' failure to find any evidence of weapons came in the wake of a very large effort launched by the administration to put before the world evidence of Saddam's arsenal, an effort spearheaded by George W. Bush's speech in Cincinnati on October 7, and followed by a series of increasingly lurid disclosures to the press that reached a crescendo with Colin Powell's multimedia presentation to the UN Security Council on February 5, 2003.
As the gap between administration rhetoric about enormous arsenals -- "we know where they are," asserted Donald Rumsfeld -- and the inspectors' empty hands grew wider, that gap, as Cheney had predicted, had the effect in many quarters of undermining the credibility of the United Nations process itself. The inspectors' failure to find weapons in Iraq was taken to discredit the worth of the inspections, rather than to cast doubt on the administration's contention that Saddam possessed large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
Oddly enough, Saddam's only effective strategy to prevent war at this point might have been to reveal and yield up some weapons, thus demonstrating to the world that the inspections were working. As we now know, however, he had no weapons to yield up.
As Blix remarks, "It occurred to me [on March 7] that the Iraqis would be in greater difficulty if...there truly were no weapons of which they could yield possession.'" The fact that, in Blix's words, "the UN and the world had succeeded in disarming Iraq without knowing it" -- that the UN process had been successful --meant, in effect, that the inspectors would be discredited and the United States would go to war.
President Bush would do so, of course, having failed to get the "second resolution" so desired by his friend and ally, Tony Blair. Blair had predicted, that July morning on Downing Street, that the "two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work." He seems to have been proved right in this. In the end his political strategy only half worked: the Security Council's refusal to vote a second resolution approving the use of force left "the UN route" discussed that day incomplete, and Blair found himself forced to follow the United States without the protection of international approval.
Had the military plan "worked" -- had the war been short and decisive rather than long, bloody, and inconclusive -- Blair would perhaps have escaped the political damage the war has caused him. A week after the Downing Street memo was published in the Sunday Times, Tony Blair was reelected, but his majority in Parliament was reduced, from 161 to 67. The Iraq war, and the damage it had done to his reputation for probity, was widely believed to have been a principal cause.
In the United States, on the other hand, the Downing Street memorandum has attracted little attention. As I write, no American newspaper has published it and few writers have bothered to comment on it. The war continues, and Americans have grown weary of it; few seem much interested now in discussing how it began, and why their country came to fight a war in the cause of destroying weapons that turned out not to exist.
For those who want answers, the Bush administration has followed a simple and heretofore largely successful policy: blame the intelligence agencies. Since "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" as early as July 2002 (as "C," the head of British intelligence, reported upon his return from Washington), it seems a matter of remarkable hubris, even for this administration, that its officials now explain their misjudgments in going to war by blaming them on "intelligence failures" -- that is, on the intelligence that they themselves politicized.
Still, for the most part, Congress has cooperated. Though the Senate Intelligence Committee investigated the failures of the CIA and other agencies before the war, a promised second report that was to take up the administration's political use of intelligence -- which is, after all, the critical issue -- was postponed until after the 2004 elections, then quietly abandoned.
In the end, the Downing Street memo, and Americans' lack of interest in what it shows, has to do with a certain attitude about facts, or rather about where the line should be drawn between facts and political opinion. It calls to mind an interesting observation that an unnamed "senior advisor" to President Bush made to a New York Times Magazine reporter last fall:
"The aide said that guys like me [i.e., reporters and commentators] were 'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism.
He cut me off. 'That's not the way the world really works anymore,' he continued. 'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'"
Though this seems on its face to be a disquisition on religion and faith, it is of course an argument about power, and its influence on truth. Power, the argument runs, can shape truth: power, in the end, can determine reality, or at least the reality that most people accept -- a critical point, for the administration has been singularly effective in its recognition that what is most politically important is not what readers of the New York Times believe but what most Americans are willing to believe.
The last century's most innovative authority on power and truth, Joseph Goebbels, made the same point but rather more directly:
"There was no point in seeking to convert the intellectuals. For intellectuals would never be converted and would anyway always yield to the stronger, and this will always be 'the man in the street.' Arguments must therefore be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect. Truth was unimportant and entirely subordinate to tactics and psychology."
My answer to all this is it could very well be true. It does seem like the Bush Administration had it's mind set on war with Iraq, well before the UN had dealt with the issue. I remember noting this fact, in conversation with my relatives in Europe, at the time that these events were taking place.
Ok, so Bush pushed a war through based upon charges which seem not to have stuck. That still leaves the big question:
Why did France, Germany and England think there were WMD's in Iraq?
But, besides that, let's deal with another issue. I always thought that the real reason we attacked Iraq first (after Afghanistan) is because Iraq was the only country we had legal reason to attack. After the Gulf War, Hussein terms of Peace included the establisment of a Northern no-fly zone. The U.S. and Britain were to patrol this area with their jets, to make sure Saddams military stayed out of the Northern region of the country. When they did, which was every day, Saddam ordered his military to shoot at our jets.
That's provocation enough for a resumption of the war, and for the removal of his entire government from power.
This is the issue upon which Bush should have made his case for war. But, it seems, he thought the WMD case would make more sense to people. And his allies already believed that Hussein had WMD's, so why not make that the case.
Now, of course the writers of this Mother Jones article are implying that the Bush Administration knew that Iraq had no WMD's. Or, maybe just that he didn't care. I believe it is clear that the people who planned the war believed that Iraq had chemical weapons at their disposal considering all soldiers were outfitted with chemical suits.
I guess Mother Jones and her people would simply say the chemical suits were a ruse.
That's the way conspiracy theories work.
Anyway, I do believe it is possible, or even likely, that the Bush Administration didn't much care whehter or not the UN approved of US actions. I don't think the United States was much inclined to listen to the UN's opinion then, and I think we are even less so now.
My friend tells me he thinks Iraq has nothing to do with the War on Terror. He believes the Iraq War is part of some grandiose plan the Bush family has had in place for generations. I guess history will tell us if this is true.
I think it's like this; since Iraq was a legally justifiable war, we would wage it and hope the war brought all the terrorists to the country of Iraq. I think also the idea was that as Iraq lies in the center of the Middle East, it was a good place to set up shop and intimidate all the other rogue regimes of that region.
In fact, both of these strategies have panned out remarkably well. It would be hard, even for Mother Jones, to deny that.
I guess when it comes down to it, I am such a hardcore supporter of the War on Terror that this argument seems silly to me. I believe that Iraq should be only the beginning. I believe there are several more "regimes" (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, just to start) that have got to go.
When it comes time to end them, I don't much care the legal reason we use to justify our aggression, because here is my reason; these countries are run by medieval fanatics who refuse to live in the modern world, and yet are hard at work aquiring the weapons of the modern world. Additionally, these countries do not respect human rights, most egregiously in the case of women, who are treated as slaves. Niether do they respect the rights of Jews, homosexuals, or "infidels." In the case of North Korean, they have a totally hererogeneous population, but their leader is killing them and depriving them of their human rights anyway.
In my opinion, this is not an acceptable state of affairs. And if you want to start an argument with me that goes along these lines; "Well, what about all the other human rights abusing regimes in the world?" Then I say, ok, when we are done with those who are the biggest threat currently, let's move on to the rest.
You see, I am a maniac. A supporter of the "new Third Reich." I want women, Jews, infidels, and homosexuals to have equal rights. Oh man, am I off the handle, or what?