Friday, May 30, 2003
After not finding much on the Iran story on Thursday from the WashPost or the NYT, it was good to see Andrew Sullivan's interesting post, "Dealing with Iran." Yeah, ok, so his piece is more informative, better written, and better sourced. Especially this telling suspicion:
" I suspect that we might find greater links between Tehran and al Qaeda than with any other terrorist-sponsoring state."
Sure enough. Al Qaeda members in Iran apparently placed phone calls to fellow members in Morocco and Saudi Arabia just before the recent terrorist attacks there. According to John Batchelor and Paul Alexander on their WMAL news show( 1am to 4am is worth it), these calls were monitored by US intelligence and backed up by some of the captured Al Qaeda members in Morocco. According to Moroccan sources, one such detainee died "of natural causes" after providing the link to their Iranian-based Al Qaeda planners. Shocking isn't it, how the Moroccan "debriefing" of terrorists speeds up the aging process.
The eleven Al Qaeda members arrested in Saudi Arabia also had ties to Iran, according to Batchelor and Alexander. They even mentioned an Al Qaeda revolving door policy between the two countries. Apparently, members "arrested" in Iran were turned over to the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, which promptly set them free. This policy may not survive its coming to the US intelligence's attention, however. And add to that the targeting of some ruling family members for assasination by Al Qaeda.
Hmmm. So this Al Qaeda terrorism thing wasn't solely aimed at the US? So they want to topple most of the Middle Eastern governments aside from Iran?
So the deal with the Devil has gone bad. From exporting terrorism to importing terrorism. How ironic. Some Arab editorials are even cautiously distancing Islam from terrorism. Will this bring an Islamic Reformation? Or simply a descent into civil wars in these countries? Either way--bring it on, and let's be done with it. Ditto the Palestinians.
But the time is apparently short. Andrew Sullivan linked to Michael Ledeen's "Moment of Truth", which surprised me with the urgency of the problem. I hadn't heard that the nuclear program in Iran could be as close to processing as the end of this summer. And he points out the many activities of the Iranian agents at work in Iraq, which probably dwarf any activities that our agents might be doing in Iran.
Ironic, though. Weren't some Democrats arguing that the Bush administration had neglected the War on Terrorism, especially Iran and Hezbollah? Who can forget the talking point rallying cry: "What about North Korea? Why not Iran? Why Iraq?" Dashle, Pelosi, the Clintons and others based their opposition to the war in Iraq on that. Even the charismatic, tough-on-security, Vice Presidential candidate Bob Graham's claim to fame had been beating the drum for action on Iran and Hezbollah. Well, I guess he, his fellow presidential contenders and other Democrats have finally caught the Bush administration's attention. OK, now they'll solve the Iranian problem. Along with Iraq. And the Middle East road map. And North Korea. And the economy.
Must make the Democrats feel good. Nice of the Bush administration to address the Democratic 2004 election issues. Or is it?
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Tehran. Iran's President Mohammad Khatami opened the foreign ministerial session of the Organization of the Islamic Conference with a call on Muslims to reject terrorism. Exactly how was not made clear.
Khatami was clear, however, on his objection to the US's "unilateral" response to terrorism, perhaps taking a page out of the United Nations' playbook of similar empty proclamations combined with the rejection of pressure to follow through, especially from US. While he paid lip service to "support the struggle of the Palestinian people," Khatami ought to be watching the fate of Yassir Arafat closely. Arafat, like Khatami, had also been attempting to walk the rhetorical line between covert support for terrorism and an overt facade of reform and peace. Now, despite attempts to remain relevant, Arafat has suceeded only in walking the clear line to the dustbin of history.
The parallel with Arafat ought to be crystal clear to Khatami, especially after a recent open letter from reformist lawmakers. The letter, "...so hot that Iranian authorities banned its publication," called for political reform of the conservative clerics, and was followed up last week with another protest letter that did make it into Iran's press.
In an interesting juxtaposition of Khatami's recent call to "reject terrorism," the letter made a call directed squarely at Iran:
"More than 115 liberal dissidents and intellectuals railed against the conservative clerics, whom they accused of clinging to power by misusing religion. They said the hard-liners have been implementing a reactionary interpretation of Islam."
The reformers further warned that without extensive reforms, "Iran's clerics could go the way of Saddam Hussein and the Taleban." Iran's ambassador to the UN, Javad Zarif, however, tried to put on a brave face despite the visible cracks between the ruling clergy and the reformers:
"If the United States is prepared to deal seriously with the issues that are of concern to us and probably with issues of concern to the United States, then there won't be any problem," said Mr. Zarif. "And we are interested in a process of reducing tensions with the United States. But we will certainly not respond to a language of pressure and intimidation."
Oh really? The answer might come after mid-June, when the I.A.E.A is expected to issue a decision regarding Iran's nuclear program. Not that their decision would involve any consequences at all. But it'll be how the US decides to use the IAEA decision, in tandem with the developments involving Al Qaeda plotters found in Iran recently, that will determine what "pressure and intimidation" might be applied to Iran's ruling clergy.
Or even worse. Probably not overt military action, but the "Arafatization" of Khatami and the conservative rulers. That is, to ignore them and go over their heads directly to the people of Iran.
And the media was ringing alarm bells regarding the influence of Iran's Shiites in Iraq? That's ironic. Now who's destabilizing whom?
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
SO SHALL IT BE DONE.
Donald Rumsfeldt answers his critics in a 17-point plan in today's Wall Street Journal. Pharoah Rumsfeldt has spoken.
Skeptics, however, are unimpressed. Tripping over each other to report bad news, the NYTimes and the WashPost dutifully report US casualties and discontent that causes casualties, respectively.
If war is the continuation of diplomacy by other means, then these PR battles are the continuation of the war by other means. Who will win? My money is on Rumsfeldt to prevail. After all, who gets to hold press conferences whenever he wants? And belittles and insults reporters at his whim? And convinces people of things with sayings like, "It is what it is?" And gets spoofed on Saturday Night Live?
The history channel even had a show on Secretaries of Defense recently, Rumsfeldt included. Once CBS reporter seemed quite taken by Rumsfeldt's authoritative, take no BS attitude. He seemed almost reverential in his description of him. As if he were....Pharoah.
Sunday, May 25, 2003
Does the thought of remembering the sacrifices of our men and women in out thoughts and prayers for Memorial Day make you indignant? Does the phrase "support our troops" make your blood boil? When you see American flags waving do you find yourself reaching for your lighter?
Then join the protest! Feel the warm and fuzzy feelings of unpatriotism, anti-military and Blame America First by joining others in watching the American Movie Classics Memorial Weekend war movie marathon.
- Catch four US soldiers raping and murdering a Vietnamese woman in Brian De Palma's "Casualties of War."
- Don't miss the Left's favorite historian, Oliver Stone, in his Vietnam "documentary," "Platoon."
- Stanley Kubrick's uplifting "Full Metal Jacket."
- And relive your opium smoking, bad acid trip, anti-war memories with these classic originals: "Apocalypse Now" and "The Deer Hunter."
There, now. Feel better?
More bashing the New York Times? No, actually in Baghdad. Iraqi tv broadcasts getting a welcomed boost. Target CNN Iraqi? No. Target Iranian government-controlled broadcasts in Iraq, which has a virtual monopoly on tv.
IN MEMORY OF. A bit of a somber website, but found one casualty from my state, Virginia, who paid the ultimate price in Iraq.
A memorial day of an altogether different type. Paul McCartney's Back in the USSR at last. Nice to get the red carpet treatment from Putin, who apparently was somewhat of a Beatles fan. If asked whom he preferred, Paul or John, Putin might have responded:
"John, definitely. He was a revolutionary, very anti-establishment. He imagined a world without religion and protested against the US for the Vietnam War and it's imperialism. Plus he bashed the FBI and the CIA. I totally dug that.
The drug experimentation and the racial and sexual equality? That was a bit over the top for me, even for the Sixties. I just said "Niet."
But still, John definitely would have made a better Comrade than Paul. Paul was apolitical. He was a lovesick, weak capitalist wussy. But....he did have great walking bass lines and catchy harmonies."
Friday, May 23, 2003
It was just a matter of time and searching. Nice to read some good news from Baghdad, and coming from the Washington Post, no less. Local Shiites volunteering to work on city clean up. And getting paid.
The article seems to reveal some endearingly childlike responses from some Iraqis. What once seemed like ominous discontent now seems more like sincere yet harmless pouting:
Like others in line, Challoub, a gaunt, balding veteran of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, complained that the Americans had done too little to provide electricity, water and, most important, security. With a nod of his head, he said he remained suspicious. "We still don't know the Americans' intentions. We'll know their intentions in the future," he said. "I don't trust them."
Thursday, May 22, 2003
In typical rookie fashion, my first visit to the Lebanese-based website of Dar Al Hayat's op-ed page got my hackles up.
Zuheir K Seibati's An American Perestroika looks for transparency in the policies of the US and Israel, but interestingly, not in those of the Arab countries involved.
Abdulwahab Badrakhan's Killing the Resistance offers yet another doom and gloom scenario for the Palestinians at the hands of the Roadmap to Peace. It seems that ending "resistance" equals "surrender" which, of course, equals "suicide."
As an aside, the references to "suicide" are striking. Maybe what the Arabs need most isn't a Roadmap for Peace, but a prescription for Prozak. Not oppression and repression, but depression could be their underlying problem.
Anyway, this is a bit self-indulgent; but since this will likely never see the light of day anywhere else, this is as good a place to vent as any:
Subject: Re: "Killing the Resistance" and "An American Perestroika"
I was impressed with your website after my first visit. Your articles are much more intelligent than the (government edited?) stiff writing in Arabnews.com.
But, good Lord, Zuheirk Seibati and Abdulwahab Badrakhan are pessimistic, doomsday chicken little types. "The sky is falling!" It's all Israel's fault! It's all the U.S.'s fault!
For crying out loud, what has Lebanon or any other Middle Eastern country done for the Palestinians? Besides use them as a pawn in a third party war with the West? I remember Lebanon giving Arafat and his Palestinians a kick in the ass and an ejection from Lebanon the last time, right?
Let's face it--NOBODY seems to care about the Palestinians, besides a lot of useless rhetoric. Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia--lots of big countries and NONE of them wants to accomodate the Palestinians with some land of their own. What do they do? Force them to live in "refugee camps." REFUGEE? Refugee from what? The 1967 war? That's bullshit. Why not spread these poor people out in your OWN countries, instead of filling them with hatred, lies and empty promises of the right to return. That's unjust. As a matter of fact, do you want to know which country has voluntarily accommodated the Palestinians? You guessed it, Israel. Maybe not a fair settlement, and often they are harsh with security. But they have been more compassionate then, say, Lebanon, who completely kicked them out.
What do your editors say to that?
And Zuheirk Seibati's talk of truce=surrender, surrender=suicide is a load of CRAP! Does he think that Egypt committed "suicide" by ending hostilites with Israel? Did Jordan commit suicide by doing the same? Jordan seems to be shedding the yoke of Arab "resistance" and is rapidly moving it's economy to a bright future. What's wrong with that? Never mind that Jordan didn't want to solve the Palestinians' problems, either.
And as for an American Perestroika, that's a valid point. We'll have to see how we in the US follow through in the Roadmap. But where is the Perestroika in the Middle East? With Arafat? Why is he one of the richest men in the world, whose wife lives in the lap of luxury in someplace like France? Why hasn't Arafat been "transparent" with his money and maybe freaking SPENT SOME ON THE SUFFERING PALESTINIANS!
Arafat seems as transparent in his financial business as Sadam Hussain was. I may be a biased American, but your editorial writers run the risk of sounding hypocritical with these "blame the US and Israel" solutions to everything. What about Lebanon? When will you people throw off the yoke of Syrian occupation? Why don't you have "resistance" or an "intifada" against the Syrians? It's all "Israeli occupation" this or that. Why don't you look at yourselves a little harder before you throw your next stone.
The "Arab Street" may have been too preoccupied with itself lately. In case you missed it--the "American Street" is pissed off and not in the mood to take much petty bickering. Especially from the French, the North Koreans, or the Iranians. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, even Saudi Arabia have a chance to make some adjustments and roll with the changes to a much brighter, freer and more prosperous future. Just do it. No fear.
I'm part Spanish, so I can claim some Arabic roots. One day I want to be able to visit the Middle East and see history in the making. There may be some possibly violent upheavals in the near term, but let's hope it works out.
Monday, May 19, 2003
Still getting my feet wet with this weblog thing. Thought it would be easy to do, but the more I look around, the more I see that there are lots of people doing what I thought was lacking---addressing bias in the media, etc. Was I wrong.
Kind of like Neo in "The Matrix" finding out how deep the rabbit hole goes. Wow, that's deep. Not to beat the analogy dead, but if the mainstream press is the "Matrix" then Zion might be the blogosphere, doing battle as the true reality. But as I'm finding out, there are lots of bloggers picking apart the Matrix. At this rate, I don't think the Matrix stands much of a chance. Just look at the NYT lately.
But it's everywhere.
- WSJ readership up, NYT down.
- Turner down and out, Murdoch up and coming.
- Network news viewers down, moderate to Conservative cable news is up.
- CNN busted, Fox apparently still growing, MSNBC following its lead.
- Antiwar Hollywood/Lefties trivialized. Except for in the "Arab Street." And maybe in France.
- BBC busted by its own reporter!
- and even the US government-backed Radio Sawa is beating its Middle Eastern competitors, BBC Arabic and Radio Monte Carlo. Kick ass.
And that's not even going into recent politics. Bush beats an incumbant VP for the Presidency. Then picks up seats in an off-year election. And now the Republicans might possibly pick up another handful of Senate seats. Oh, and Bush will likely get a second term.
So summing up: the Liberal bias in the media is under serious attack, especially in the online community; the Repubs have the White House; control and are gaining in the House and Senate; and have a 5 to 4 advantage in the Supreme Court. The Matrix is in trouble, from the looks of it.
And to think, until just recently, I thought that emailing Rush and others with tidbits of news and opinion was really special. Like not enough people were doing it. I wonder now how many pundits get their riffs from the constantly percolating stuff from all of these weblogs? From Andrew Sullivan, OpinionJournal, Mickey Kaus, Instapundit (good spot on Cspan the other day), and others that I'm just getting to check out. Even sites that just focus on bashing the New York Times. Who knew?
Holy Moses--what's left to add? A deep rabbit hole, indeed. Of course, there's even a site just for "The Matrix," and they've probably already done the blogosphere/rabbit hole analogy.
But...oh my God. What happens if the whole thing tips? The Matrix crashes, Liberal bias in the media is defeated, and the people are free. Free, that is, until Conservatives build their own Matrix--a Conservative one. A Right-Winged New York Times. Actually, I could live with a Matrix like that.
Oh, well. Guess I'll just keep pushing on. Keep checking out sites, maybe add some features to my pretty sedentary blog.
Guess we all can't be Neos. Ok, I'll settle for Trinity.
Thursday, May 15, 2003
But getting crushed at work. Ironic, working in real estate--lots of people worried about their jobs, and we couldn't be busier.
I wouldn't mind the economy and interest rates staying like this for a long while. Except that it might jeopardize Republicans' chances in the election. And, of course, because I would feel everyone's pain...
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
The irony last week of the Saudis sounding tough on Al-Qaeda was too much for me. Today, after twenty some dead, including 8 Americans, the irony has given way to anger at most everyone involved.
But it's hard to know who to be pissed off more at: Al-Qaeda, their biggest funders and supporters--the Saud Royal family, a kid-gloved State Department, or the handwringers here in the media and in politics?
Bob Graham finally jumped on the first chance he got to say "I told you so." Christiana Amanpour was on CNN decrying the "Blame Saudi Arabia first" mentality.
The NYTimes was surprisingly straightforward in their headline article (maybe some Blair fallout-induced submissiveness?). But the Washington Post's headline coudn't resist the blame-America-first-motive:
The bombings marked a bloody gesture against the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia, which has been cited by Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda's leader, as the main reason for his terrorism campaign against the United States.
So that's what that "marked." Not the Israeli occupation? Not the "suffering" of the Iraqi people? Not the overthrow of the Saud ruling family to establish a radical Wahabbi-styled Taliban theocracy?
"To The Point" with Ray Alney on PRI Tuesday night also had a Washington Post reporter, maybe the same one. He, like Bob Graham, repeated the talking point that Bush had obviously dropped the ball on the war on terror. And Iraq had just made it worse. Uh-oh! We really pissed them off this time.
But he also had some guy from the Rand Corporation who was not so partisan. He suggested that the attack was more aimed at the Saud ruling family itself. Makes sense--we announced that our troops would be out by the summer.
But most interestingly, I think it was he who also suggested that Al-Qaeda may have crossed a line by killing Muslims in Saudi Arabia itself. The deal by the ruling family to bribe Al-Qaeda and turn the other cheek in return for Al-Qaeda picking targets outside of Saudi Arabia may be unravelling. Even the much heralded Saudi "street" might not be down with murdered Saudi innocents. It's about freakin time.
So this may hasten the demise of the Al-Qaeda PR machine, or however much still existed. After all, it's been almost as long as it has for Michael Jackson since they put out a good video. PLUS they've possibly now started losing touch with their base, the "Arab street". PLUS it's a tough PR sell to attack the Saud family directly, overthrow the government and set up a Taliban-styled theocracy, the whole time blaming it all on the U.S. when we are already GETTING THE HECK OUT.
Sounds a lot like the ropa-a-dope that Arafat and his resident terrorists have been playing. Heck, it sounds like half of the countries in the Middle East.
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
No doubt the blog-in-progress option is only available by upgrading to bloggerPro. Hmm.
Rush made a good point about the Democratic strategery for 2004. The mantra now is jobs, not the economy. No difference? Let's see.
With an economy that is in recovery, albeit at only 1%, the focus on jobs is clever. If my econ memory serves me, just as Wall Street is a leading indicator, employment is a lagging indicator. At least six months or so. So the Left can't truthfully argue that the economy is NOT improving.
But with an eye on Nov, 2004, the last economic indicator to turn around will most likely be jobs. That would mean that if Bush wants to go into the summer of 2004 with some job growth about which to boast, the economy will have to have been growing enough for about six months to a year. Which is right about now.
That's clever, if nothing else.
Saturday, May 10, 2003
Friday, May 09, 2003
Riyadh--Interior Minister Prince Naif announded yesterday a reward for information leading to the capture of 19 fugitive Al-Qaeda members after their terrorist cell was uncovered in the capital. Arab News reports that seventeen of the 19 are Saudis; one is a Kuwaiti-Canadian of Iraqi origin; and one is a Yemeni. "They are young and have been brainwashed," added Prince Naif.
Relatedly, instead of hailing the Al-Qaeda members as wannabe martyrs fighting for a just cause, the Kingdom's Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, interestingly described the militants as "corrupt, traitors and aggressors." Sabir Al-Abid, an educationalist, offered a more sinister assessment: "These young people have strange ideas which they probably brought from OUTSIDE (emphasis added). They seem to have some personality problem."
No motive was offered for the foiled terrorist plot. However, if past pronouncements from the "Arab Street" are anything to go by, then one's first guess would be the Israeli occupation of Palestine. But no, the Saudi government has not been known to support Israel. Next ought to be Bin Ladin's much-publicized fight to remove The Infidel's bases and troops from Holy Islamic Saudi soil. And yet, the article explains that "The discovery of the cell came a week after the US (announcement to) pull its troops out of the Kingdom..." Hmmm.
Two positive notes. First, the Saudi Government's crackdown on Al-Qaeda was described by Abdulaziz Al-Hendi, a senior Saudi journalist as a "great success." and that "(t)hey are proactive and well trained in the art of rooting out the infrastructure of terror." Thankfully he didn't describe it as a "war on Islam."
Secondly, a solution to terrorism is apparently in the works. Again, the educationalist, Sabir Al-Abid: "I am planning to develop a program intended to teach students Islamic values as a bulwark against terrorism. Some other teachers were doing the same in the hope of turning their students into good citizens." Al-Abid wasn't asked if, indeed, it was radical Islamic indoctrination ITSELF that led to the original 19 highjackers from Saudi Arabia. So assuming that the Islamic education plan in your typical Saudi mosque or Madrassa was NOT to blame and not filled with anti-American vitriol and hatred, then.....maybe the September 11th Saudi terrorists--also graduates, different class---were just BAD Islamic students. Let's just hope.
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
Still, as a coalition ally, Spain is a destination much more deserving of our tourism dollars these days then, say, France, Germany or Russia. Ole!