Tuesday, June 29, 2004

"They Hate Our Policies Not Us"

This one is enjoying another bout of popularity. It's funny how these notions spread, like pink eye in a grammer school. So it's flared up, the idea that our enemies hate our national policies, especially those in the Middle East, and don't particularly hate us, or only hate us for promoting those policies; the idea being that if we change these policies they will cease hating us.

This is oh-so-very convenient for the critic who scores two points off of this. First, he rolls his eyes in disdain at "Bush's simple minded approach, that they hate us for our freedom; that's rather childish, don't you agree?"

Then, after a bit of brie and a sip of shiraz, he gets to harp on the policies he thinks are responsible for our enemies violent hatred, and his criticism usually boils down to a little leftish elitist, anti-corporatism mixed with some populist isolationism with a dash of old-fashioned anti-Semitism. It might go something like this. "I mean, really, we can't just go around imtimidating these people so that ExxonMobile can increase profits 5 cents a share, so that Joe Sixpack can afford to drive a Hummer. That's a obscenity, don't you agree? Those Arabian people obviously don't want us so we should just pack up and go home. Why are we over there at all? To protect the Jews? They don't need our protection. If they can't fight for themselves, that's just the way history goes, right?"

The criticism probably isn't voiced just like my strawman but it's popular nonetheless. The criticism has three parts. The jihadists hate us for 1) basing troops in Saudi Arabia; 2) supporting Arab dictators; 3) supporting Israel. Sure they hate these policies. The interesting and important question is why. What is the reasoning behind the criticism of these particular policies.

1. They hate us for basing troops in Saudi Arabia. This was one of bin Laden's original complaints back in 1998. Now of course the troops are out of Saudi Arabia and the killings continue. Now, if you listen to Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula, they want all "infidels out of the home of the two holy places". Read that carefully. They don't want all foreigners out, just infidels. There are and have been foreign Muslims all over the kingdom for decades (brother of Egyptian Islamist ideology Sayid Qutb taught in the kingdom for many years, as did Palestinian jihadist Abdullah Azzam). That's not the complaint. Al Qaeda and it's ideological cousins want the infidels out of Saudi Arabia. That's not a criticism of a policy. It's a criticism of an identity. Unless you think that it's our policy to refuse to be muslims.

2. They hate us for supporting corrupt Arab dictators. This one sounds bulletproof. It's true, we support corrupt dictators either directly, as in Egypt and Jordon, or indirectly, as in Saudi Arabia. So it seems like a legitimate criticism of US policy to oppose that support. But notice, the Islamist don't bitch about dictators in general. These are not human rights activists. They don't whine about Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, or Iran (though not Arab certainly a dictatorship). Just the opposite in fact. The Islamists are supported by many of these dictatorships.

So they are not democrats or even anti-dictators in a larger sense. Go back to the original criticism. It's not the dictatorship they hate. It's our support they hate. Syria occupies Lebanon with thousands of troops. No complaint. Iran supports the nearly bankrupt Syrian dictatorship. No complaint. We support the Jordanian monarchy. Bitchfest! Al Qaeda wants to topple Jordon but our support prevents that. Is this a criticism of a foreign power supporting the King or is it a criticism of the source of the support, the US? Do they hate us because of Jordon or do they hate Jordon because of us? I think they hate the idea that an infidel power supports the King and that the King accepts the support of an infidel power. It is the infidel nature of power that drives the Islamists bats.

3. They hate us for our support if Israel. Yep, they do. The Islamists hate Israel and they hate us for supporting Israel. Why? Because Israel, in their eyes, brutally kills their Arab brethren? Ok, but it's not really the murder of Arabs that sends the jihadist into spasms of hatred. Otherwise they would be waging war against Syria, who in one attack on the Islamist stronghold of Hama killed 20,000 Arabs, more than have died in 20 years of Israel-Arab fighting. Or Saddam's Iraq where hundreds of thousands of Arabs and muslims were murdered for three decades. Or Egypt, where Mubarak's regime viciously suppressed the Islamist insurgency in the 1990s. Or Algeria, where a civil war has claimed untold tens of thousands of Arab lives. Or Jordon, which waged a war against the PLO in the 1970s. Or what about the Egyptian invasion of Yemen under Naser. The Egyptian military used poison gas against the Saudi and Yemeni troops. This war lasted throughout the 1960s.

No, the Islamist don't care about occupation of Arab land by other Arabs. The Islamist don't really give a damn when Arabs kill Arabs, even by the thousands and tens of thousands, even when the mass graves overflow with Arab corpses. But when an Israeli kills a single Arab, under any circumstances, it's a freaking crime against humanity (not that the Islamists believe in human rights). It's not the murder that gets them. It's the identity of the murderer. It's not the policy of occupying and killing Arabs that the Islamists hate. It's Jews. If Israel returned to the 1967 borders and "Palestine" got a seat at the UN, the Islamists would still hate Israel and our policy of support for Israel. They hate us, not for supporting Israeli policy, but for supporting Israeli existence. In this case the strawman is correct.

Bin Laden hates our policy but the only policy he would not hate is a policy supporting the destruction of Israel. This is not a policy change but a radical redefinition of our national character, a change that results in Americans identifying, not with a democratic ally but with a theocratic dictator; not a change in our policy but a change in our identity.

This entire line of reasoning is interesting. I don't remember hearing similar arguement about the Nazis, who hated us for our policy of being a mongrel nation of decadent, promiscuous, Jew-loving dupes. Or the USSR, which simply hated us for our policy of not being Communists who submitted to Russian hegemony. Of course even serial killers hate their victims for the policy of not wanting to die. All of these policies I support.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Zarqawi's Serial Murder Continues, This Time with Turks

That's right, Turks. Muslim Turks. Zarqawi and his band of psychotics promise to extend their stings of human sacrifices, this time with 3 fellow Muslims. Of course Bush arrives in Turkey tonight for the NATO summit. This latest kidnappiing and promised butchery comes with the now standard 72 hours deadline.

Zarqawi "demanded that Turks hold demonstrations protesting the visit by the "criminal" Bush and that Turkish companies stop working in Iraq, or else the hostages would be killed."

It looks to be another long weekend.

Another Bomb in Istanbul Hours Ahead of Bush Arriving

Bush should arrive in Istanbul (it's not Constantinople) late tonight. Meanwhile "a bomb attached to an anti-NATO banner hanging from an overpass in Istanbul, Turkey, exploded Saturday, as police were securing the area."

This is the latest of several bombs and I think the second to be attached to a banner or sign.

DEBKAfile reports one terrorist killed and three injured when another bomb accidently exploded in hotel in the Antalya region. VOA says Turkish officials claim it was a gas explosion.

Right.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Iran Enriching Uranium and Stockpiling Chemical Weapons. Also the Sky is Blue.

News fucking flash: Iran is a nest of villains.

In testimony before the House International Relations Committee, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton said Iran told the IAEA that it will commence "the production of uranium centrifuge parts assembly and testing" next week.

Bolton also said, "Reports by our intelligence community make that clear ... that Iran may already have stockpiled blister, blood, choking and nerve agents, and the bombs and artillery shells to deliver them, which it had previously manufactured."

This is the same Iran that supports Hizbullah against Israel and is currently fighting a low-level proxy war against our troops in Iraq. This is situation is reminiscent of the Cold War against the USSR. The Iranian people by all accounts do not like living in a theocracy and the mullahs by all accounts want to wage a war against the West. Will the regime collapse before the theocratic-industrial complex launches a suicidal war? It's a race we don't want to lose.

Saudi TV: 'America Will be Destroyed'

MEMRI is an invaluable resource and encourage everyone to read it often.

Here are some excepts from Saudi controlled television. Keep in mind as you read these that Saudi Arabia is our ally and our "partner in the war or terror." (Quit snickering.)

Saudi professor Nasser Bin Suleiman Al-Omar appeared on Al-Majd, on June 13, 2004, to discuss the approaching collapse of the U.S. and the growing strength of Muslims within the U.S:
"America is collapsing from within. ...Islam is advancing according to a steady plan, to the point that tens of thousands of Muslims have joined the American army and Islam is the second largest religion in America. Today, America is defeated. I have no doubt, not even for a minute, that America is on its way to destruction. ...America will be destroyed."
Sheik Muhammad Al-Munajid, a disciple of one of Saudi Arabia's most revered religious leaders, Sheik ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz ibn ‘Abdallah ibn Baaz, stated on Iqraa TV on April 15:
"The issue is not one person, two, ten or a hundred going out with their guns to support their brothers. Defeating the infidels requires a much greater effort. It requires the mobilization of the nation. How can the nation be mobilized? I believe that the stupid acts of these Jews and Crusaders mobilize the nation. The big explosion will come! In spite of everything, it will happen!"
This one is my favorite though. Earlier I wrote that Islam makes no distinction between religion, politics, law and government. In this quote a professor (notice that he is a religious figure, a shiek) was asked about what it is permissible to pray for in Islam (try to image such a show in America, even among the most religious people.) Here's the juicy bit.

Sheik Dr. Ahmad Abd Al-Latif, a professor at Um Al-Qura University, was asked the following question on Saudi channel TV1 on May 24:
"Some imams and preachers call for Allah to annihilate the Jews and those who help them, and the Christians and those who support them... Is it permitted according to Islamic law?" Professor Al-Latif responded: "What made them curse the Jews is that the Jews are oppressors... The same goes for the Christians, because of their cruel aggression against Islamic countries ... while the truth is that this is a crusading war whose goal is to harm Muslims. This is why a Muslim is allowed to curse the oppressors from among the Jews and Christians... Cursing the oppressing Jews and the oppressing and plundering Christians and the prayer that Allah will annihilate them is permitted."

"Religious Exhibitionism" in Saudi Arabia and the Islamist-Media Complex

Amir Taheri writes an interesting article about the "Culture of Hate" that saturates Saudi society. (Thanks to Jon.)

Some facts:
- Riyahd has 4000 mosques
- the Saudi government employes "more muftis, preachers, teachers, enforcers, muezzins and theologians than the oil industry that produces 80 percent of the nation's income"
- Saudi universities graduate "more 'religious scholars' each year than doctors and engineers"
- the Saudi state "has spent an estimated $100 billion on 'Islamic' causes since the mid '70s"

The scale of Saudi support of the Islamist ideology goes far beyond these numbers and dollars. Taheri writes, "The average Saudi citizen is subjected to systematic Islamist brainwashing." How, you ask?

Saudi Arabia, and to a lesser extent Arab/Muslim nations, is dominated by an Islamist-Media Complex that fabricates myths. The Arab media does not exist to report facts in a Western sense. It is a network of fabulists generating stories to nurse Arab grievances for the decline of their culture relative to the rest of the world and to nuture fantasies of revenge, spefically the revenge of Arab Islamism over Western civilization.
"The Arab media, especially the satellite TV channels, presented the Fallujah insurgency as 'one of the greatest battles the Arabs have ever waged against the Crusaders'... The Arab media claimed that the United States had deployed 'all its military might' to conquer Fallujah and had failed. The 'heroes of Fallujah' fought like lions and, supported by non-combatants, including women and children (who died in thousands), succeeded in winning 'a spectacular victory,' thus 'saving Arab honor.'"
Celebration this false triumph is widespread among the fable-producer outside the mass media.

"More than a dozen Arab poets have already committed odes and sonnets to commemorate Fallujah as 'the Arab Stalingrad.' One Syrian composer is working on an opera about 'the heroes of Fallujah,' while a couple of Egyptian hacks are breaking their typewriters to produce scripts for a film and a TV series on this latest of imaginary Arab victories."
(This reminds me of another Egyptian TV series, the noxious "Knight Without a Horse", a series based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. These guys have quite a track record.)

Arab media (almost all of them, including those in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, are state-owned) lied about more than "this great Arab victory". More importantly, they lied about the Iraqi casualties.
"The phrase 'the Fallujah butchery' has been hammered into the Arab consciousness to justify an almost pathological hatred of the United States as a power responsible for 'many thousands of civilian deaths'.... The beheading of Paul Johnson, therefore, is presented as an act of revenge for deaths that, in fact, never happened."
Thus Islamism is the most post-modern of ideologies, using the rage at a fiction the jihadist told themselves to justify actual murder. And the Islamist demonstrate a quintessential post-modern trait, a "critique" of the idea of facts or the demand that facts should conform to the political agenda. Even to the point of creating one set of false facts and denying the existence of actual facts. Thus, "The average Arab, including the average Saudi, was never allowed to know what actually happened in Fallujah."

Here what happened in Fallujah according to the UAE Red Crescent:
"The Arab media have wildly exaggerated what happened at Fallujah. The fighting concerned only a few districts [of the town]. There never was any fighting on a big scale. There certainly was no clash involving thousands of the town's inhabitants. The number of those who died did not exceed 270, almost all fighters, not civilians. The resistance (i.e. the insurgency) was made up of former [Iraqi army] officers with a small number of [non-Iraq] Arabs representing Salafist [i.e. radical Islamist] groups."
The Islamist-Media Complex is not just broadcasting propaganda. (Oh naive infidel, if only it was that simple.) It is prepetuating and embellishing the ideology we are fighting against, the ideology that drives jihadists to butcher us. Therefore it is a target in the War Against Jihad.

Again I cry into the internet void: why is Al-Jazeera still allowed to broadcast? Why haven't their satillite dishes been sabotaged and their producers disappeared? Why aren't their reporters intimidated, brided, threatened, or extorted into reporting more favorably about the war? Or just run over by cars? If Iraq is such a dark pit of sadistic violence, it's understandable if Al-Jazeera's crews met untimely fates while over there? (All covertly and with very plausible deniability, of course).

The Islamist-Media Complex is as much our enemy as the masked gunmen in Iraq's streets or the suicide killer driving the truck bomb anywhere. We should treat it as such.

'It's Not Religion. It's Politics' - Tawhid, Knowledge, and Society

We hear that all the time. Terrorists don't attack us because of Islam, their Religion, but rather because of specific policies, conditions, and issues; that is, because of Politics. And largely we swallow this because we are rational Westerners who accept this distinction. Indeed we in the West have long believed that there are separate and distinct kinds of knowledge and different fields of human endeavors that use, explore and develop this knowledge. This did not just happen after the Enlightenment. It's not an effect of the explosion of knowledge (although that exponentially magnified these distinctions).

This view of the world and knowledge of the world is deeply ingrained in Western consciousness. Think of Aristotle's books: Politics, Physics, Ethics, Poetics, Metaphysics, Rhetoric. Twenty-five hundred years later, we in the West not only accept but fervently believe that these fields of knowledge and action are and should be distinct. The separation of religion and politics, the difference between what is legal and what is ethical and what is a religious duty, the difference between religious faith and scientific fact. We cringe with embarrassment when we read in the history books about scientific research crushed for religious reasons in centuries past. We are disappointed, enraged, or bored when art or entertainment (poetics) is used to serve politics. We understand and appreciate that someone who excels in one area does not necessarily excel in another. (Bill Clinton excelled at rhetoric and failed at ethics. Numerous actors and writers excel at poetics and fail at politics.)

Various Romantics, pantheists, and philosophers have criticized this way of thinking as unnatural, (it "unweaves the rainbow"), but they are the minority trend. This mindset, this belief, is quintessentially Western. So when some talking head, or the guy at the next table says, "It's not religion, it's politics" we know exactly what he means.

However, not every culture sees the world this way and Islam is one of them. We have heard many times that Islam does not separate religion and politics but it is difficult for a Westerner to grasp what this really means. Key points:
- ethics, law, and morality are one thing. What is unethical is illegal and moral duties are legal obligations. That is why the religious police in Saudi Arabia are called The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
- law doesn't change just as morality doesn't change. Simply put, god wrote the law. Not religious law but civil law. These are one and the same. Divorce law, inheritance law, criminal law, family law, property law, the laws of the state - these are one body of law given to Muslims by god.
- people who interpret and enforce the law are religious figures. Law school is the seminary.
- legal punishment is religious punishment and religious duty is legally enforceable. Guilt of a (civil) crime is guilt in a religious and moral sense. There is no distinction between civil and religious law, not because they are equal but because they are one.

Religion is politics. The head of the government is a religious figure, not by coincidence or because he is the head of two things, the religion and the state, but because the religion is the state. Westerners often think that a fatwa is like a papal encyclical or the opinion of a priest or reverend. It is not at all. A fatwa is a law, like the kind the Congress passes.

But it goes much further than this. One of the central tenets of Islam is the concept of Tawhid, the unity of god. The ummah, the community of Muslims, should reflect this unity is every respect. When this concept is most strictly applied, as by the Taliban, all aspects of society and all human endeavors are unified in Islam. Fashion is Islam (no examples needed). Art is Islam (human images are forbidden). Food is Islam (pork, alcohol, and other items are forbidden). Rhetoric is Islam (Pashtoon speaking children memorize the Koran in Arabic, a language they do not understand; all references to Muhammad must be followed by the phrase "Peace Be Unto Him" at risk of punishment).

Most interesting from a Western perspective is the impact of tawhid on the Muslim understanding of (Western) science. Here is a paper delivered to the 9th Annual Conference of Pakistan Agricultural Scientists Forum titled 'The Role of Faith in Science.'
The concept of God (Tawhid), the most fundamental of all the truths is indispensable to science as a system of truths. It must be used to illuminate the paths of scientific observation and inquiry in the worlds of matter, life and mind to reveal new scientific truths which can never be known in its absence. The question before us is: does Islam develop a special type of mind-set that helps in the sharpening and strengthening the creative faculty of the working scientists? My answer is: "YES".
To the Western mind these statements have nothing whatsoever to do with agriculture (not to mention being offensive and silly). This is just one of innumerable examples.

Let's return to the talking head spouting off about how Islamist terrorists are motivated by politics and not religion. This is true only if seen from a Western perspective and it demonstrates a near total ignorance of Islam and Islamism. From the perspective of the terrorist, this is a self-evident falsehood, a blasphemy, the very definition of shirk (polytheism), the opposite of tawhid.

We in the West have a habit of viewing our enemies as more or less like ourselves. This is one of our chief intellectual failings and an underlying cause for our poor performance in the War Against Jihad. The jihadists see themselves as motivated solely by religion. For them, there is nothing else.

Muslim Murder, 'American' Torture, and Incoherent Thinking

Maybe I'm a stickler for consistency. I've been accused of being a "rule based thinker" and it didn't really bother me. I like rules and structure. Without them, it's the darkness of chaos and gnashing teeth.

When people are murdered by Muslim we are quickly reminded that this is no reflection on the religion, even when the killers explicitly use Islamic language to justify the murders and to threaten more. This has happened so often that we accept it as a self-evident truth.
Muslim and Arab leaders from northern New Jersey joined yesterday to denounce the killing of Paul M. Johnson Jr. by his terrorist captors in Saudi Arabia, insisting the murder did not represent the tenets of Islam.

"We further categorically reject the killers' claim that their repulsive act represents Islam and Muslims," a statement endorsed by nine Muslim-American organizations read.
Ok, fine. Let's adopt that general principle. The acts of individuals do not taint the larger group to which they belong or the belief system of the group.

But wait, that principle is not followed when it comes to the so called torture of Iraqi prisoners. The abuses are seen, not as the actions of individuals, but as a reflection of American values. The notion that the abuse of prisoners is representative of something, American megalomania, Western pathology, "cowboy culture," the Crusader mentality, imperialism, pick the fad idea of the week, is wide-spread in Western media. It goes without question that "those horrible images" represent something.

It's the same old double standard: if an MP in Iraq hits a prisoner it's because the war in Iraq is a corrupt misadventure and Western civilization is imperialistic; if a Muslim cuts off an American's head while quoting from the Koran, it's just the act of a killer - and bares no relation to Islam.

Pardon my exasperation, but what the fuck is this?! You can't have it both ways. The media can't blame American society for prisoner abuse and exonerate Islam from the beheadings. Americans shouldn't feel guilty over the prison abuse and at the same time believe the Islamist apologists when they claim that the crimes of Muslims do not represent the tenets of Islam. Why is Islam the one belief system that can never be blamed for the crimes of its members? Of those who use it to justify their atrocities?

Don't believe the hype. Either a belief system is implicated when its adherents commit crimes in its name or it is not. You cannot excuse one and blame the other and still claim to be a coherent thinker.

Istanbul Bus Bomb Kills 5

Details on CNN here. Twelve were injured and the death toll could rise.

Turkey is in a bad neighborhood, bordering Syria, Iraq and the Caucuses. They have a large Kurdish population pissed off from years of violent repression. A Islamist movement is popular, especially among the newly urban poor, conservative economic refugees from the impoverished countryside. Veterens of jihad in Chechnya and the Balkans, spies from a variety of regional intelligence services, shadowy figures sneaking through insecure borders, it's a bad summer for Turkey.

Bomb in Turkey Near Bush's Hotel

Bush and the rest of the NATO leaders will be in Istanbul starting Saturday. Today, a bomb exploded in front of the hotel where Bush plans to stay. A policeman who noticed the bomb was severely injured when the explosion tore off his leg.

CNN reports that "About a half-dozen small "sound bombs" -- explosives designed primarily to make noise and not cause serious damage -- have exploded in Istanbul since last week." Although people have been injured by flying glass.

Are the terrorists practicing? Seeing how easily and how far they can penetrate security? Was this a warning? A miscalculation?

Earlier I speculated that of all the high-level meetings this summer, the NATO summit in Turkey may be the most dangerous. During the run up to this meeting there have been several bombings, including 4 bombing during Blair's visit in May. Bombs have been discovered at Istanbul area McDonalds.

This will be a long tense weekend. Bush and Blair will be at the NATO summit (don't forget that NATO is running the security/reconstruction effort in Afghanistan) in Turkey only days before Iraqi sovereignty is transferred to the new Iraqi government. I'll be surprised if all is smooth and quiet, especially in light of today's simultaneous attacks. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The View From South Korea

An old college roommate of mine has lived in South Korea for several years. A linguist and academic, he speaks Korean (and Japanese). Here are some of his thoughts:

"The Korean take on the hostage taking/killing is as expected. Optimistic hope that he would be released, shock that he was not, the wail of the victim's mourning family now shared by the nation, rage at the usual suspects: USA and Japan, always to blame for anything. It was not so long ago that Japan got their hostages out alive. People here are grousing that the Japanese always get special treatment, that Koreans get the short end, and the Americans are the root cause of this evil. Renewed vigor in the street protests against sending korean troops to iraq."

Overall a sad situation. I am facinated that people are blaming Japan, purely of of historical grievance and spite. It's remarkable how the War takes on local color and morphs to fit regional issues. More updates as my buddy sends them.

Saudi Institute - Security Waited for Johnson's Death to Act

The Saudi Institute, a website critical of the regime run by a Saudi dissident/exile, has issued quite a damning charge, even for the Saudis. This article claims that the Saudi security forces knew where al-Moqrin and his gang were holding Paul Johnson "at least three days before the terrorists’ death in a shootout" with the security forces.

"The Saudi government knew the location of a number of the terrorists but waited until they killed American hostage Paul Johnson before moving against them."

This explains how the police found and killed al-Moqrin so quickly after Johnson's murder.

Perhaps they chose to wait until Johnson was dead to attack al Qaeda because "They would rather have the terrorists free to justify the widening security clampdown." But I don't believe it. It seems more likely to me that the security forces waited to move until after Johnson was dead because:

- many in the the security forces are active al Qaeda agents who purposefully delayed the operation
- many in the security forces are lower class and have little allegiance to the mega-rich hedonistic royals and are reluctant to fight for them, especially in defence of a foreigner
- many are passive sympathizers of the al Qaeda ideology, even if they want the group destroyed. In short, many want neither al Qaeda nor foreigners in Saudi Arabia. They would rather wait until Johnson was dead and then attack al Qaeda, than act while he was still alive and rescue an infidel.

-

Saudi Revolution Watch - Fliching and Shaking

Clown Prince Abdullah has offered amnesty to jihadists who give up over the next month. I guess they are on double-secret probation.

Here's the punchline: He warns the beheaders, the bombers, and the human sacrifice junkies that if they don't turn themselves over they will face the "unflinching power and unshakeable determination" of the mighty Saudi regime.

It's just incredible. Is Abdullah that deluded or is he a collosal, grade-A, high octance cynic? I mean, he can't really think that the terrorists will turn themselves over. Likewise, he can't really believe that, after decades spent refining cowardice into a high art that the regime has the capacity or the will to display "unflinching power and unshakeable determination"?

Contrary to Abdullahs school yard threat, the royal family has spent a generation demonstrating over and over again that the flinch often (it's a reflex at this point) and are quite shakeable.

Only twice that I am aware of have they done so. Once in 1930 when the founding king, with the crucial help of the British (the RAF), obliterated the Ikhwan in battle. And again during the 1979 takeover of the Grand Mosque, when the royal family required foreign troops (French troops I believe) to end the seige and roundup the insurgents. All the Saudis did was behead the captives once they were subdued.

In other words, at no point in their history have the Saudis, alone and unaided by an infidel power, ever demonstrated "unflinching power and unshakeable determination" when faced with a domestic threat. To call in an infidel army in today's political climate would be suicide. If Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula, and the groups that will follow, are to be defeated the Saudis must do the dirty work themselves. This is one job they can't hire foreigners to do.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Terrorism. Serial Killing. Human Sacrifice

This is not just terrorism. It's serial murder. Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi is a religiously motivated serial killer. Him and his group of psychopaths aren't doing this just as a propaganda and recruiting tool. The multiple beheadings are not just threats and attempts at intimidation. Zarqawi and his trolls get off on this. They aren't going through with the gruesome effort of beheading human beings unless they enjoy it. Much easier to kill the hostages another way. No, Zarqawi is an Islamic Charles Manson or Ted Bundy. He derives pleasure from the dismemberment of infidels. He gets drunk on a noxious mix of psycho-sexual power and the spiritual ecstacy brought on by human sacrifice.

Serial killers often keep mementos of their victims. In Zarqawi's case he videotapes them. Diseminating the images gives him a secondary rush. Knowing that people are horrorified by his snuff film thrills him. Many serial killers enjoy holding their victims captive, reveling in the power they have over the abject victim. Zarqawi certainly does. He's a weak, sick man leading a group of weaker, sick men.

Zarqawi likes doing this. 'Jihad' gives him religious justification and authority. It draws followers to him, grants him religious redemption, and leads the those who protect and support him into thinking they are fulfilling some obscene duty.

And that's the difference between our cultures. In the West we know these men are evil and we lock these men up or put them to death. In the Islamic world .... the headlines speak for themselves.

Islamists Behead Korean

It's just fucking terrible. I tried to be hopeful but all hope is gone now. Al-Jihad TV reports receiving a video of the decapitation. Kim was 33 years old and a Christian. They made him beg for his life, frightened and screaming he begged to live and they decapitated him and they filmed it.

How long will this continue before we allow ourselves to be angry? How many more people, our compatriots and our religious brothers, will the Islamists sacrifice to their bloodthirsty death-god before we demand are roused from our slumber? Why aren't we marching in the streets, screaming that this stop?

I know, I know, we are not the marching and screaming type. I can already hear the objections: 'What more can we do? These killers are villians and criminals. Who do you want us to attack? We can't blame all Muslims for the crimes of a few, no matter how terrible.' All the very rational, reasonable statements of the logical Western mind.

Why don't we start by assassinating the contact at Al-Jazeera? Why is that place still broadcasting? Why doesn't a mysterious bomb destroy its satellite dishes? Why aren't its reporters and producer hit by runaway cars? Why does the Hizbullah headquarters still stand in Lebanon? Why isn't it mysteriously blown up by who-knows-who? Why do we let Muslim clerics threaten us in the U.S. and Europe? Why aren't they run over, stabbed, hit by fucking lightning? Why don't they choke on a bone or die in their sleep or simply disappear from the face of the fucking earth?

We have confused our weakness with tolerance, our passivity with patience, our indifference with objectivity.

Poor man. How long until the video is broadcast? How many weak-minded recruits will sign up, inspired by the snuff film, longing to get their sweaty hands around a knife, eager to feel the adrenalin rush of murdering an infidel, to get a spiritual high from death? Three men in 6 weeks. Two men in one week. Not soldiers, not mercenaries, not political targets, just three men doing their jobs. And these soulless things sliced off their heads.

I curse them. A just God curses them. Hell waits for them.

Korean Still Alive

Can they talk their way out of this one? I guess there's a slim chance that he could yet survive, like the Japanese hostages held at knife point and threatened on video but later released.

Perhaps being Korean helps him. Islam never ruled eastern Asia and there is no historic Islamic animosity specifically toward people from that part of the world (unlike Jews, Christians, and Hindus who have been submitting to or resisting Islamic armies for centuries). Perhaps the jihadists view a Korean in a fundamentally different manner than they view Westerners or Hindus. Although Koreans are theoretically infidels, perhaps jihadists do not see them as implacable enemies of Islam, just people who not yet been subjugated. Perhaps the psychological gratification of murdering a Korean is simply less powerful than that of murdering a Crusader of a Jew.

But it seems that the trend recently has been toward more, not fewer, sadistic murders. Can the jihadists back down now, after so many others have been murdered? Do they believe that freeing him will make them look weak by comparison? Will releasing him hurt their recruiting efforts (who wants to just the Wussy Brigade?).

The longer he can stay alive the greater his chances of surviving the ordeal. Here’s hoping.

Brave and Futile: Speech Condemns Jew Hatred at UN

I thought this speech Columbia law professor Anne Bayefsky gave before the UN yesterday was incredibly brave. Futile, but brave. I’m sure she’ll have a lot of shit thrown at her for it. And of course the death threats (it seems that everybody’s getting the death threats these day, like it’s a fad or something). Nevertheless, the speech was stunning for its breadth and concision. If you haven’t read it, shame on you. Stop reading this silly blog and read the speech.

Bayefsky spelled out in clear and simple terms why anti-Zionism at the UN is just good old fashion anti-Semitism.
What does discrimination against the Jewish state mean?... It means devoting six of the 10 emergency sessions ever held by the General Assembly to Israel. It means transforming the 10th emergency session into a permanent tribunal--which has now been reconvened 12 times since 1997. By contrast, no emergency session was ever held on the Rwandan genocide, estimated to have killed a million people, or the ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands in the former Yugoslavia, or the death of millions over the past two decades of atrocities in Sudan.

More than one quarter of the resolutions condemning a state's human rights violations adopted by the commission over 40 years have been directed at Israel. But there has never been a single resolution about the decades-long repression of the civil and political rights of 1.3 billion people in China, or the million female migrant workers in Saudi Arabia kept as virtual slaves, or the virulent racism which has brought 600,000 people to the brink of starvation in Zimbabwe. Every year, U.N. bodies are required to produce at least 25 reports on alleged human rights violations by Israel, but not one on an Iranian criminal justice system which mandates punishments like crucifixion, stoning and cross-amputation of right hand and left foot. This is not legitimate critique of states with equal or worse human rights records
.
I am impressed that the UN even convened this meeting (which shows how low my standards are regarding the UN). But after it’s over, how long until business as usual returns? One week? One day? Ten minutes? How long until the next resolution condemning Israel and only Israel is passed in the General Assembly? How long before the next anti-Zionist screed and the thundering applause?

Monday, June 21, 2004

Michael Moore: You are the Paris Hilton of Political Criticism, Now Please Sue Me

Here's a quote from the Slob Himself:

"Any attempts to libel me will be met by force,'" Fahrenheit 9/11 director Michael Moore told the New York Times on Sunday (June 20, 2004). "The most important thing we have is truth on our side. If they persist in telling lies, knowingly telling a lie with malice, then I'll take them to court."

Ok, let's get started. Obviously saying you're a fat, self-obsessed tool isn't libel, it's plain ole fact. How about this:

Michael Moore - you're a disorganized, small minded, faux-hipster getting a sick little woody from pretending to be oh-so-radical with your feeble 'critique' of the Bush administration. You're an overgrown (way, way overgrown) adolescent who believes his love of the sound of breaking glass is a philosophical position. You live in a twinkie-filled pantry lined with mirrors and are convinced that the endless reflections of your opinions are really facts. You're a punk, inflated by a sad desire to be Important.

Michael Moore - you're the only film maker I can think of to appear on the poster for three of your own so-called documentaries. You are irredeemably stupid. And moreover you are wrong. Not wrong in the sense of getting this or that fact incorrect (although that too) but wrong in a larger, deeper sense. You are Wrong. The fragments of half-baked conspiracy theories (which you stole from people who are at least bright enough to dream them up) are wrong. The fantasies of history and politics you think are profound are too silly to even qualify as wrong (like the kids who think Super-Man can beat up Mighty Mouse). Your notions (you're not smart enough to have ideas) of America are wrong.

Michael Moore - you're stupid enough to believe your incoherence is really a broad argument. You're smart enough to pronounce the word 'hegemony' but not smart enough to know what it means. You're smart enough to know that America has a history but not disciplined enough to understand it as anything but a cartoon. You had one of your sycophants skim the Cliff Notes to world history and your Hindenburg ego tells you that you're brilliant enough to comment on it.

Michael Moore - your insecurity coats you like a glistening slime. You think the world is a conspiracy because that makes you feel smart for figuring it out. And you need to feel smart. Revealing the Grand Conspiracy makes you feel powerful and you need to feel powerful. It makes you feel important, as if people liked you. And you desperately need to feel liked.

Michael Moore - you're to political criticism what Paris Hilton is to acting. You're both emotionally desolate, intellectually empty, camera worshipping media whores who have confused infamy with importance. You are both entirely devoted to your own image and you are both entirely devoid of content. You both believe with a religious fervor that if something doesn't happen on film, it didn't happen at all. Hence it doesn't matter. You both zealots of self-promotion who find the Image more profound than Life.

Michael Moore, you are a sad, scared, impotent little boy.

Please have your lawyer email me with details on the lawsuit.

Hitchens Roasts Moore, uses 40 Gallons of Sauce

I don't have anything to say about the loathsome clown that Christopher Hitchens hasn't said better, especially in this piece in Slate. A must read on the amoral, narcissistic, hypocrite. And did I mention fat?

SRW - New Al Qaeda Head Ex-Policeman

This is a disturbing turn. A 38 year old, Medina-born ex-policeman and prison security officer is now the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Last week the Saudi dissident and anthropologist Mai Yamani spoke about the intricate tribal and family links between the security services and jihadists. Nnow the head of al Qaeda is the embodiment of those links.

'Saudi analysts say his experience and origins will make him a more effective leader than Muqrin was. "Saleh al-Oufi is the most dangerous" of the Al-Qaeda lieutenants left alive in Saudi Arabia, says a report in al-Hayat newspaper.'

Will he exploit his contacts inside the security services more effectively than Muqrin? Will fence-sitters inside the regime trust him more than previous leaders? Will his Medina connections grant him greater respect among the passive sympathizers?

al-Oufi is a veteran of jihads in Afghanistan and Bosnia and number 4 on the Saudis most wanted. He spent the last few years recruiting jihadists and running secret training camps. This, combined with his combat experience in the legendary jihads of the 1990s (when he was wounded), should make extremely respected by the younger generation.

After an period of consolidating his power, look for al-Oufi to prove himself, perhaps with an attack designed to be psychologically appealing to potential recruits. Altogether a dangerous turn of events.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Saudi Revolution Watch - New Leaders, New Threats, Same Terror

The terrorist swine are already a step ahead of the feeble Saudi government. Clown Prince Abdullah threatens al-Qaeda in the most non-threatening language: "We tell this deviant group and others that if they do not return to the right path, they will meet the same fate (as Muqrin) or worse."

Or worse? Muqrin's dead, right? What's worse? But look at Abdullah's language, "deviant group," "return to the right path." Are you fighting terrorists or scolding adolescent boys? A threat goes like this, "Turn yourselves in now or we will kill you or sight," or better yet, "Surrender or die."

It's not just Abdullah, it's the entire government down to the lowest fluky, in this case foreign policy adviser/royal jester Adel al-Jubeir. He claims that the killing of al-Qaeda leader Muqrin has "substantially weakened" the organization. Yet they still can't find Johnson's body. Meanwhile al-Qaeda has appointed a new lead and is moving on. Unlike the House of Saud al-Qaeda is not troubled by the line of succession.

Rather than being weakened al-Qaeda is rubbing their triumph in the Saudi's face. An Islamist website brags that sympathizers in the security forces assisted in the abduction of Paul Johnson.

But don't worry, these same security forces are fighting the terrorists. Al-Jubeir closed his press conference/stand-up comedy act saying, "We will show no mercy. I'll be here all week folks. Tip your waitress."

The Anger of the American Lawn

From a sign in the front lawn of a house in Paul Johnson's hometown.

"Last night my heart was filled with love and prayers, but today it is filled with hatred. Last night I was not a racist, but today I feel racism toward Islamic beliefs," the sign said. "Last night Islamics had a chance to speak up for Paul Johnson, but today it was too late," it also said. "Today Islamics better wake up and start thinking about tomorrow."

Analysts and pundits are always referring to the 'Arab Street', as in The Egyptian government must do this or can't do that for fear of angering the 'Arab Street.' Yet I've never read any similar sentiments about America.

Likewise Americans, especially one the left, like to ask 'Why do they hate us? Why are they so angry at us?' But no one ever asks the corresponding question about us. Maybe they should start. Maybe politicians in America should start worrying about the American Lawn or the American Porch or the American Sofa. Whichever metaphor you choose, it boils down to the same thing: people are fucking pissed at the swine who hack up our compatriots, Johnson, Berg, and Pearl, and the cultures that produce and defend them.

It's about time that Arabs and Muslims asked the question, 'Why are they attacking us? What have we done to generate such anger from the Americans?' For all the oppression that they feel, as horribly as they think we treat them, as angry as they are about the invasion of Iraq, don't they realize that we are restraining ourselves. We are holding back assholes! If we had the will to extinguish your society we could. If we were as angry and hate filled as you are then your culture would be a memory, an article in the encyclopedia, a museum exhibit, a handful of dust and nothing more.

SRW - "All Saudis hate Americans, not only these heroes."

I don't know which part of that statement is more disturbing - that Saudis hate us or that they consider the swine who killed Johnson heroes. There's a lot more of that in this story about the ineffective anti-extremist campaign.

Choice quote:
"But the Americans deserve what they're getting for shedding Arab and Muslim blood all over the world. Plain and simple, they are our enemies."

Saudi Revolution Watch - Volume 1

Here is a list of all the major Saudi Revolution Watch posts prior to the beheading of Paul Johnson:

Chapter 1: May 29, Shooting Rampage Leaves 1 American Dead
Chapter 2: May 29, Khobar Attacks
Chapter 3: June 2, Why Do Saudi Men Want to be Suicide Killers?
Chapter 4: June 4, Rumors and Speculation
Chapter 5: June 4, Shootout in Jeddah
Chapter 6: June 7, Theories of Saudi Revolution 1 – J Curve
Chapter 7: June 9, Wide support for bin Laden
Chapter 8: June 14, Kidnap, Kill, Repeat
Chapter 9: June 15, The Blame Game Begins
Chapter 10: June 15, Western Expats Flee and Marketing Consultant Spins
Chapter 11: June 15, 'The Exodus Has Begun'
Chapter 12: June 17, Is It a Civil War if Only One Side Fights?
Chapter 13: June 17, "Like a Wave Sweeping the Country"

Friday, June 18, 2004

Newsflash! Invasion of Italy a Mistake!

Italian fascist dictator Mussolini had no direct involvement in the 12/7 attack on Pearl Harbor. The US government can find no hard evidence that the Italian government supplied any resources or assisted in the planning or implementation of the 12/7 attack. Contacts between the fascist Italy and imperial Japan appear to be purely formal and at a low level, indicating no serious cooperation between the two sworn enemies of the US.

Yet the first country we invaded after Pearl Harbor was Italy. This invasion was clearly not justified by the intelligence. It was a mistake and a violation of international principles. Sure Mussolini was not a nice guy, but neither he nor the Italian fascist regime he lead posed any direct threat to the United States. The US forces in Italy have not turned up any "doomsday weapons" or any secret Japanese facilities that might provide some justification for this foreign misadventure. The troops in Italy killing Italians should be considered war criminals. The Italians killing our troops are resistence fighters opposed to the illegal occupation of their homeland.

Look people, we cannot hope to win this mad war against fascism. Only a negociated settlement can provide lasting peace. We should convene an international conference to search for a peaceful way forward. War is not the solution. War is the problem.

Torture and Non-torture

I am against torture. Let's get that out in the open now. I'll even be more explicit: the United States government should not torture prisoners, captives, detainees, or enemy combatants.

What is torture? I consider torture to be, well, torture. We can't hit, burn, shock, bite, or in any way physically abuse or harm people in our care. We can't break their bones or drill their teeth or pour acid on their skins. We can't withhold food or water. That is torture.

What isn't torture? Humiliation isn't torture. If it was, Amnesty International would demand that every high school in America be closed. We can humiliate prisoners. Why not? We can scream at them. We can keep them in windowless rooms with the lights on all the time. Or with the lights off all the time. This is not torture.

We can serve them pork. Pork is a perfectly healthy and nutritious food and when served with a variety of grains and vegetables makes for a balenced diet. In fact, we should serve them pork at every meal. Why not? Ignoring their religiously motivated dietary restrictions is not torture. If they don't want to eat the pork, that's their decision. I guess they'll be hungry. If you believe that serving prisoners pork is torture, you are a naive tool. Grow the fuck up. If I started a cult that ate fillet mignon with grilled asparagus and three pints of Bass Ale, would they serve me this in prison? I hope not. We are required to provide them enough food to meet the nutritional requirement of a human being. We are not a fucking catering service. Eat the pork or go hungry.

We can under-medicate them with painkillers for wounds suffered before we captured them. We must provide medical care to ensure that they don't die. But if under-medication was torture, then I'm going to report my doctor to the UN. The pills he prescribed for my shoulder injury are worthless. I'm in as much pain after I take them as before. That's not torture.

We can threaten them and their families. We can't carry out those threats, but we can make them. We can have dogs bark at them. That's not torture. Dogs bark at postal workers every day. Where's the outrage? Our dogs can't bite them, but barking isn't torture. Prisoners are not guaranteed freedom from fear. No one is.

We can put them in solitary confinement, play loud, obnoxious music, and give them fake newspapers that claim their leaders have surrendered. That's not torture. We can play 'God Bless America' 24/7 and make them wear 'I Love America' t-shirts. We can shave their beards. None of this is torture.

It's a military prison, not a spa.

The NYT had an article a few weeks ago about the image of the Iraqi prisoner on the box, wearing the hood, with wires on his arms. It seems that some anti-America groups have adopted that image as a symbol of how terrible we are. I love that because of the irony: this man was not being shocked. It was purely an image. He was posed that way to man others think he was being shocked. So the anti-American image is in my mind really an image of someone not being tortured. If we were as bad as they say we are there would be images of tongues sliced off, hands chopped of, arms broken, decapitations. No, those were under Saddam. He knew all about torture.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

The Rumor Returns: Mubarak is Critical. Or Is He?

The internet is buzzing again today about Mubarak's declining health after he cancelled a meeting with Palestinian Authority PM Ahmad Quraia. No reason was given for the cancellation. Sounds bad.

However the Jerusalem Post says the meeting was cancelled because Quraia did not bring any new ideas "regarding Egypt's demands for major reforms
in the Palestinian security forces."

"Mubarak's decision to boycott Qurei reflects the mounting tensions between Egypt and the PA."

Still, Mubarak had to go on TV last night to prove he was alive. Would he cancel this meeting just to piss off the PA? Then again, any chance to jerk Arafat's chain might be worth it.

Saudi Revolution Watch - Jane Says Exodus Coming

According to this Pakistani news site Jane's Intelligence Digest says "that the steady exodus of expatriate workers from Saudi Arabia is set to gather pace in the coming weeks."

Maybe Jane's has been reading Rant Wraith.

Jane’s Intelligence Digest (JID), in its latest report, has drawn "significant parallels between the current situation in Saudi Arabia and the final months of the Shah of Iran before his flight into exile."

"The collapse of authority tends to be the end result of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once there is the perception that the old regime is doomed, it is usually a matter of time before it actually collapses. We saw precisely this sequence of events in Iran in 1979."

Saudi Revolution Watch - "Like a Wave Sweeping the Country"

This article in the Lebanese paper the Daily Star quotes Mai Yamani, a Saudi exile with a PhD in anthropology from Oxford. She is maybe even more pessimistic (and certainly more knowledgable) than I am about the Saudi vs al Qaeda cage match.

Yamani thinks the security forces are crawling with terrorist sympathizers. You knew that. But this part really got me.

According to Yamani, 10 of the 15 attackers of Sept. 11, 2001, were from the southern mountainous region of Asir. The security forces in the country are dominated by people from Asir, Yamani said. Al-Ghamdi was one of the surnames of the hijackers of Sept. 11. According to Yamani, there are more than 6,000 Ghamdis in the security forces.

"The security forces or elements within the security forces are contaminated with sympathizers of the jihadists. There are intricate personal and tribal links between the security forces and the jihadists ... It is too late, and now it is like a wave that is sweeping the country."


So what are the options for the regime. How about every polite liberals favorite, reform. "If they embark on reforms, they are accused of bowing to the Americans."

Ok, that won't work. On the other extreme if they crack down hard and innocent Saudis get swept up in the dragnet, they be seen the monsters al Qeada accuses them of being. How about doing what they've done in the past, what they're doing now, what everyone does when you don't know what to do - nothing. "If they don't do anything, even the moderates are going to throw themselves in the arms of the jihadists."

Ouch.

Saudi Revolution Watch - Is It a Civil War if Only One Side Fights?

Some people have started referring to the terrorism/insurgency/rebellion as civil war. Can it really be a civil war if only al Qaeda is fighting? Sure the Saudis have arrested 600 and killed a few dozen. But they are still treating this as a crime spree, at best. Even the Saudi bagman in DC, Prince Bandar, son of Prince Sultan, the Saudi Defence Minister, wrote in the Washington Post that Saudi society does not yet consider this a war.

"I personally think that both the [Saudi] state and citizens have not yet reached that important, basic and necessary stage for [them to be able] to win the war. This means general mobilization for war in thought and in deed, as individuals and as a whole, in the media and in the culture -- a mobilization of all state institutions and the private sector towards this goal, and viewing everything in life based [on the premise that] we are at war.

"War means war. It does not mean Boy Scout camp. It is a war that does not mean delicacy, but brutality."


He compares the current situation to a key event in Saudi history. In 1930 King Saud's rule was threatened by the same fanatical Wahhabi militia , the Ikhwan, that had helped him seize power years earlier. Saud mobilized the military and brutally crushed them. A Saudi version of the Night of the Long Knives.

Bandar believes that al Qaeda isn't as strong as the Ikhwan and that the current Saudi state is stronger than it was 75 years ago. Technically he's right. Al Qaeda does not have thousands of armed soldiers and the Saudi military is very well supplied with some impressive military hardware. Bandar wishes it were a civil war. On paper the Saudis win easily since it's such a lopsided battle.

Except that it's not a battle. This is not a fledgling state fighting a pitched battle in the desert. Al Qaeda doesn't have to defeat the Saudi military on the battlefield. This is a revolution. The dynamics are completely different. The ancient regime is always militarily superior to the revolutionary force. Ask the Shah or the Czar.

The oil wealth has made the country incomparably more vulnerable than it was in 1930. The modern infrastructure, the dependence on foreign workers, the complexity of the oil facilities make the country almost delicate in the face of a well-armed, well-trained, Leninist sytle vanguard. As bad as Bandar thinks, it's worse.

Backlash My Ass!

Ok now this is just fucking ridiculous. It comes from Al-Reuters so take it in the malicious spirit it is offered:

TUCKERTON, N.J. (Reuters) - Angry residents of the small New Jersey town that U.S. hostage Paul Johnson once called home on Wednesday predicted a racist backlash if Islamic militants in Saudi Arabia kill the American.

Americans have been getting murdered in Saudi Arabia for years and I am not aware of any "backlash" against "perceived to be of Arab background." Americans have been getting murdered in Arab countries for decades and i haven't seen the backlash. Moreover, Arabs have been murdering Americans outside of Arab countries for many years and yet, miraculously, the backlash never materialized.

Even after 9-11 when the nation saw thousands of their fellow citizens murdered on television, the backlash was one Sikh man, Balbir Singh Sodhi, murdered in Mesa, AZ. One man. And his killer, Frank Silva Roque, was tried and sentenced to death.

Let's review a brief and partial history of the America backlash to the murder of Americans by those who could be "perceived to be of Arab background".

10/23/1983: They bombed the US Embassy in Beirut and killed 17 Americans. No backlash.
06/14/1985: They hijack a TWA plane, forced it to land in Beirut and held the plane for 17 days. They shot Robert Dean Stethem, US Navy diver who happened to be on board, and dropped his body onto the tarmac. All on TV. No backlash.
10/07/1985: After Leon Klinghoffer was murdered on a freaking Italian cruise ship, the nightmarish America backlash took the frightening form of an opera.
12/21/1988: Libya blew up Pan Am 103 over Scotland, killing all 259 on board, many Americans, the dreaded American backlash took the unspeakable form of a 12 year lawsuit. A lawsuit. That was the backlash. They killed us and we sued them.

Why would there be a backlash now? There won't. The real questions is why does Reuters want us to worry about such nonsense?

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Rumor Denied: Mubarak Not Dead Yet

Here is the counter-rumor that Mubarak is "safe and well." He's 76 and he may indeed be safe. We'll see about how well he is.

UPDATE: Debka File reports that Mubarak appeared on Egytpian TV Wednesday night to squelch the rumors of his death. Nevertheless, there is no clear line of succession for his position as Egyptian president. One day the rumors will be true. Who will succeed him? This Atlantic Monthly article from last year looks at this issue.

Crazy Internet Rumor: Egyptian Pres. Mubarak Dead

The Northeast Intelligence Network reports that Arabic language messge boards are claiming that Mubarak has died. if true, this is very bad news. Stay tuned.

Would Iran Use the Bomb? You Bet Your Sweet Ass, Infidel!

The Middle East Media Research Institute, MEMRI, translates media reports from most countries in the region, and from several languages. This is from former president and current chairman of the Expediency Council (a powerful body that advises the legislature and can veto proposed laws) Rafsanjani, from January 2002:

"The use of a nuclear bomb in Israel will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam."

"Nuclear technology is our absolute right. Death to America, Britain, Germany and France."

Hundreds of Iranians gathered at two facilities today to protest the demands of the IAEA and to condemn insults to Iranian independence. It looks like some Iranians have fetishized nuclear power as a national symbol, just like in Pakistan, where models of nuclear missiles decorate public squares and parks.

They actually formed a human chain around a nuclear plant still under construction. A lovely scene.

Why Does Iran Want a Heavy Water Reactor?

The mullahs plan to build a heavy water reactor near Arak, Iran. But what the hell is a heavy water reactor? Jane's has a summary here. In short, a nation with a sufficiently powerful heavy water reactor can use it to turn uranium into bomb-usable plutonium without requiring enrichment facilities.

A heavy water reactor uses natural uranium which the Iranians can mine themselves. The kind of reactor the Iranians have planned could produce 10kg of high-quality plutonium per year. Plutonium is a key ingredient when building an implosion-trigger fission bomb or worse, fusion bomb. Fat Man, an implosion-triggered fission bomb, was dropped on Nagasaki in 1945. It had a 23-kiloton yield and killed 45,000 instantly, about 25% of the population. No one has yet used the more powerful fusion type bomb in war. These types of bombs produce yields in the megaton range, thousands of times more powerful than fission bombs, equal to the explosive power of millions of tons of TNT.

Could Iran build a Fat Man? In theory, if they are allowed to build the reactor and the other necessary facilities, why not? They mine their own uranium in Iran. They can use the reactor in Arak to produce plutonium. The other required ingredients are either common elements, such as beryllium or are found in uranium ore, such as polonium.

The US built Fat Man using the technology and resources available in 1945 and pursuing a theory that no one knew would even work. With all the technology and scientific knowledge available in 2004, it is certainly believable that the Iranians can build their own Fat Man. The real question is: Will the world let them?

World Going to Shit but 14 Days until Spiderman 2

Let’s review our current situation.

As we’ve seen in some detail, Saudi Arabia is facing a serious revolutionary challenge from al Qaeda. Clown Prince Abdullah "warned that the Kingdom’s patience with terrorists was running out" (insert punchline here). He still refers to the terrorists as "criminals" which means he isn't taking this as seriously as he needs to. But don't worry, he said that "within the coming few days" the Kingdom would take more action.

Iran is building the bomb. It won’t be long before they simply declare that they in fact have produced a fusion weapon, probably through an underground test. Today Iran threatened to resume enriching uranium if the matter is taken to the UN Security Council. Iran has already demanded that it be recognized as a nuclear nation and plans to build a heavy-water reactor capable of producing weapons grade plutonium. Government sponsored newspapers have already suggested that Iran follow North Korea's precedent. "Finally the only logical way is to pull out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty."

Pakistan teeters near chaos. President Musaref has narrowly survived several assassination attempts. A top general was nearly killed in Karachi last week in a well coordinated bomb and gunfire attack. Six soldiers and two policemen were killed. The Pakistani military has used bombers, artillery, jet fighters, and helicopters to attack foreign fighters (“Afghan Arabs” affiliated with al Qaeda) and tribal groups hostile to the government in Islamabad. Sunni terrorists routinely murder Shia by the dozens. Rocket attacks, threats against foreign aid workers, strikes by religious groups: a full-spectrum shithole with atomic missiles.

Now the good news, only two weeks until Spiderman 2 opens nationwide.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Iran Denies Saudi Accusations

This is awkward. Earlier today a Saudi newspaper accused Iran of massing troops on the Iraqi border. Now Iran denies it. Who do you believe? The Persian Shia lying villainous tyrannts or the Arab Wahhabi lying villainous tyrannts?

Saudi Arabia "Not Unravelling" say Powell

Sec. of State Colin Powell, our head diplomat, said "It's not unravelling but it's certainly a dangerous situation right now. Terrorists are going after the Saudi leadership, they're trying to make the country unstable and I know that the Saudis are treating it with utmost seriousness and they're counter-attacking."

Weak praise at best. Does he protest too much?

'The Exodus Has Begun'

UPI has copies of internal Saudi Aramco emails about the situation in Saudi Arabia. "The exodus of ex-pats has begun." "The kingdom's ability to deliver (oil) will be impacted." But these oil executives, even under direct threat, are still deluding themselves. "Our assessment of the situation is that it is controllable."

The Financial Times confirms that corporations are pulling their people out of Saudi Arabia but are keeping it quiet to avoid creating trouble. Some jobs are being shifted to neighboring countries. Others are sending the families of employees home. "Royal Dutch Shell, BAE Systems, HSBC Holdings and Ericsson have all announced plans for dependants of staff to leave Saudi Arabia."

Both the United States and Britain are removing all but essential staff and advising against travel to the Kingdom. How long until even these people leave?

Western Expats Flee and Marketing Consultant Spins

Australian news quotes the Times of London, "Flights out of the Saudi capital are all full as non-Arabic westerners flee increasing attacks by terrorists... Britain's Foreign Office told all of its non-essential staff and diplomats' families to leave the country."

British Airways crews already stay in Kuwait rather than spend even one night in the Kingdom. But according to this story in the Arab News, Saudi Arabia has trouble attracting foreign investment because it "has been clumsy in selling itself on the international market." Wait, it gets better. "The problem is that the Kingdom is saddled with a very poor image," said a marketing consultant who is (drumroll please) "writing a book to promote the Kingdom."

Wow, those consultants are some amoral weasels aren't they?

Saudi Revolution Watch - The Blame Game Begins

I was watching Hardball last night when I heard the opening bell for round 1 of the Blame Game. Chris Matthews was talking to a Famous Reporter (who's so famous her name escapes me) about the ongoing murder and kidnapping of Americans in Saudi Arabia. Then they proceeded to blame the violence in the Kingdom on two things: the occupation of Iraq and the Palestinian intifada - translation, It's Bush's Fault.

It was funny in that sick, ironic, self-defeating way (like the old Onion joke about the Top 10 Books for Kids, "Daddy Drinks Because You're Bad"). That 2 or 3 minute conversation perfectly embodied two American characteristics. Let's examine them.

1. The historical memory of a drunk gnat. The Kingdom has suffered spasms of rebellion on and off for decades, long before the current intifada (or as I like to call it "Intifada 2: Electric Boogaloo). Hundreds of anti-royalist forces seized the Grand Mosque in 1979. In the 1070s a king was assassinated. During heyday of the Oslo Peace Accords, the height of regional optimism when Saddam was in power, there were several bombings in Saudi Arabia. Clearly the rising tide of revolutionary violence in Saudi Arabia is not caused by events in Israel, the Territories, or Iraq. (The unspoken assumption on MSNBC is that Intifada 2 is our fault because Bush hasn't done something about the Arab/Israeli conflict. That's high-grade bullshit but the subject for a different rant.)

2. Narcisssism. Americans love to think that everything in the world, good or bad, at some point is because of something we did. It makes us feel important and cool. It's a very adolescent response but it is pervasive in our country. The anti-American left wants to blame us for everything, as if al Qaeda is trying to kill us because the CIA overthrew Chile in the 1950s. The hyper-capitalist right want to take credit for any improvement in life in the Third World, as if rising standards of living in rural Uganda are a direct result of policy X or Y. Big Media loves this story line because the only way they can report on foreign events is if they are related to the US.

Let's kill this fantasy right now. Revolutions are never caused by external events, whether is Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Russia. No one blamed Carter for the Iranian Revolution, nor should they. The coming Saudi revolution is like a remake of the Iranian Revolution, updated with better technology.

The Kingdom, like the Shah's Iran, is an authoritarian state that is losing legitimacy in the eyes of its subjects. The coming Saudi revolution is caused by long term structural problems in Saudi society, a combination of demographics, economics, failures in its education system and a variety of governmental policies. Half the nation is under 25. Most of them are not just unemployed but really unemployable since they were mostly educated in Wahhabi Islam, as opposed to math, science, or practical skills. The Kingdom is ruled by men in their 70s who have no idea what is going on in the younger half of the country. The standard of living is falling because the economy is entirely dependent on oil, as it has been for 60 years.

None of this is our fault. We could have managed our relationship better. We could have tried harder to make the royals see what they were doing. All this and much more. But Israel or Iraq are at best convenient political excuses for the violence, not the causes.

Remember before the War in Iraq terrorists killed Americans and said they wanted the US military to leave. We left. Now they kill us and say it's because of Iraq. If Arafat and Sharon tongue-kiss and make up, and we put Saddan back in power and leave Iraq, the revolution will still shoot people in Saudi Arabia. They will just cloak their violence in a different excuse (probably "Death to Infidels - Matrix Revolutions Sucked!"). It's time to grow up people. America is powerful but not so mighty that it causes everything to happen. Don't believe the hype.

As the revolution heats up so will the Blame Game. One day there will be a childrens' book about this titled, "The Saudi Revolution Plunged the Nation Into a Nightmarish Vortex of Sadistic Violence, Sent the Global Economy Into a Nosedive and Impoverished Millions Because Americans are Bad."

Monday, June 14, 2004

Saudi Revolution Watch - Kidnap, Kill, Repeat

More of the same in the Teetering Kingdom - one American killed and one kidnapped over the weekend. In their standard understated style, Reuters says the continuing abductions and assassinations by al Qaeda are "a new tactic to further its aim of toppling the monarchy." These attacks were "studied and pre-planned." Really? Do you think that, maybe, these terrorists are not thrill-seeking thugs with 'Born to Lose' tattoed on their chests? Maybe they are well-trained, disciplined operatives; part of an organization that shares resources and information with a large network of other terrorist organizations?

We in the States are used to the Unabomber or Timothy McVey type terrorist - the lone wolf or small band of marginal figures who are not connected to a larger system of such groups. We tend to think of terrorists as more like criminals (less than organized, not strategically oriented, isolated, emotionally unbalanced, motivated by greed or pathology) than like soliders (determined, trained, members of a hierarchy, part of a division of labor system, strategic planners motivated by a complex ideology).

It should not be news that al Qaeda planned these attacks. They are planning more right now.

It's Only a Matter of Time

A Somalia man living in Ohio has been charged with plotting to blow up a local mall. I doubt 4 men could actually level a mall but causing an explosion inside a crowded closed space could kill a large number of people. Our nation's malls are particularly vulnerable to a variety of attacks, not just explosives.

A chemical or bio-weapon attack inside a mall is horrible to contemplate. And it doesn't have to be a plan out of an action movie or science fiction. Many gas weapons can be made from basic industrial supplies, ammonia, chlorine, or phosgene. How difficult is it for terrorists to purchase or steal such common chemicals?

Even something as crude as a machine-gun attack would be psychologically traumatic: imagine one gunman stationed at each mall exit firing into the crowd. Or simultaneous nail-bombs hidden in shopping bags throughout the mall.

Malls are so vulnerable because we feel so safe inside them. Malls are at once intimate and anonymous. We eat, change clothes, change shoes, get our hair cut and nails done, and occasionally doze off while waiting for a spouse, all in the same enclosed space as thousands of total strangers, who we assume are not trying to kill us.

We are relaxed and unsuspecting in a way we aren't when shopping outside. Mall shoppers aren't weary of thieves or violent criminals. Grandmothers don't clutch their purses tight to their chests. We're inside. It's a mall.

Who notices a shopping bag under a bench or left alone by the restroom? Bags and backpacks are everywhere. No one imagines one may contain a weapon. Sooner or later one will.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Wraith Politics

People sometimes say, “Rant Wraith, you’re such a war-mongering, blood thirsty crypto-fascist that surely you must plan on voting for Bush come November.” Not so loyal readers. Things are more complicated than that. The way I feel about this election can best be summed up by paraphrasing the under-appreciated British political philosopher, Morrissey:

“I think about Kerry and I think about Bush
And neither one particularly appeals to me.”

Domestically I’m a centrist. I’m not really against gay marriage but I’m enthusiastic about it either. I support abortion rights but I’m morally troubled by abortion on demand. I think there are probably too many people in prison but I want criminals to be punished. I don’t believe we should blame America for the world problems. I don’t want the US to try to solve all the world’s crises but I don’t want isolationism either. I am for multilateralism when it helps us achieve our goals and against it when it hinders us. That said on to the election.

Bush is inarticulate and bubbling. I don’t like his tax cuts or industrial subsidies. I wish Dick Cheney wasn’t VP. I hate the deficits particularly. I wish the occupation of Iraq had gone better. They could have shot some looters. They could have crushed al Sadr in May 2003. Not disbanded the Army, etc.

Kerry is a pompous windbag. I don’t like his alliance with Ted Kennedy or Nancy Pelosi. The far left disturbs me and I loath the idea of giving them even a tiny voice in national politics. We don’t need France’s permission to do dick but if Kerry can smooth French feathers by pretending that they matter, that’s not bad. I don’t want to go back to Clinton’s foreign policy of missile strikes, paying off North Korea, and coddling Arafat. Will Kerry stare down the nuclear mullahs of Iran? Will he release the detainees from Cuba? Will he fight the War on Jihad or just talk about it? Or talk about considering forming a commission to offer recommendations he could present to UN bureaucrats?

I have never voted for a republican. I even worked for a democratic House candidate one summer. But that was before the War on Jihad. I am now very close to a single issue voter. A candidate must convince me that he will relentlessly wager war on those who are trying to kill us to get my vote.

Who can convince me? Lately Kerry has made some tough speeches. Will he stick with it? Can he wander so far from his base for very long? Will he risk pissing off the leftists by killing bad guys? By arresting (gasp) Muslim terrorists? Wouldn’t it be good for the democrats to be in power, to have to make some difficult decisions, to take responsibility for US policy instead of just bitching from the sidelines?

On the other hand, is Bush too unpopular to do any good in a second term? Will a second Bush administration be hesitant to make bold moves, too worried that they might get burned? We have 5 months to decide.

As for the other presidential candidates, I want to be clear. I would vote for the re-animated zombie-corpse of Francisco Franco before I’d vote for Ralph Nader.

German Nail Bomb Update 2

Does this sound familiar?

"ZDF public television also said German security officials did not believe the blast was a terrorist attack."

I heard the same thing 2 months ago in Spanish. Maybe it wasn't an attack. Maybe the bomb went off accidentally as the terrorist were transporting it. Maybe it's an unrelated criminal thing. Whatever. But I do know that it is far too early for anyone to go on TV and say it wasn't terrorism.

How do you say BULLSHIT in German?

German Nail Bomb Update

Bloomberg reports that it was a bomb outside a house in a prodominantly Turkish area.

"The bomb consisted of a device filled with more than 1,000 nails and injured at least 17 people, several of them severely, N-TV said."

Nail Bomb in Germany?

Yahoo news reports that an explosion in Cologne injured 16. There are "thousands" of nails in the street near the explosion. Could these have been part of the bomb? Nail bombs are a favorite weapon of Islamist terror groups, especially Hizbulallah and Hamas.

More to come.

Pictures from the June 5th counter-protest in San Francisco

That's right. Not everyone in the Bay Area is a far left looney. A group called Protest Warriors marched right into the action, waving American and Israeli flags. The police had to separate the crowds. I guess they were concerned that the pacifists would forego their philosophy of non-violence when confronted with people who (gasp) don't support suicide bombers. Here are the photos. Some of my favorites:

- "Where in the Middle East Can Arab Women Vote? In Israel." Ouch.

- "Teach Your Children to be Doctors, Not Suicide Bombers" How can you disagree with that sign? How can that make you angry? If you want reasons from the far, far left (which is some cases is indistinguishable from the far, far right) then you miss the point. Hate means never having to have reasons.

Palestinianism Parade in San Francisco

'Palestinianism', a term coined by the scholar Bat Yeor, refers to the ideology of Palestinian victory over the Israel. It is closely related to anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. As a political faith, it is alive and well, even thriving in certain parts of America. Here are some great photos of a rally in San Francisco last weekend (thanks to Little Green Footballs). Be sure to notice the Palestinian head wear and the face coverings. Oh so very hip. A few of my favorite photos:

- "Smash the Jewish State" Not much commentary needed on that one. This guy is proud to be a Jew-hater.

- "Support Our Mutineers. Free Hasan Akbar" Akbar was the army sargeant who threw grenade into a tent, killing 2 and wounding 14, right before the war in Iraq. But I'm sure she supports our troops. Aren't you?

- "A State for a Race -Israel- Necessarily Racist" This one wins simply because it demonstrates a basic ignorance of Israel. It is a mulit-racial society. Israelis trace their heritage back to dozens of countries on every continent. In Operation Solomon the Israeli military rescued a large group of Ethiopian jews. There are Scandanavians, South Ameircans, Africans, Arabs, Russians, Iranians. The idea that Israelis are a race is stupid beyond stupid. Of course I'm sure the people who made this sign don't mind other states that are almost entirely of one race. They just hate the cartoon of Israel in their heads.

Saudi poll: Wide support for bin Laden

This edition to Saudi Revolution Watch looks at a CNN poll of 15,000 Saudis taken in late 2003.

- Almost half of all Saudis said in a poll conducted last year that they have a favorable view of Osama bin Laden's sermons and rhetoric. "They like what he said about what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or about America and the Zionist conspiracy. But what he does, that's where you see the huge drop." This is a contradiction since what he says leads directly to what al Qaeda does. Basically, half of Saudi citizens agree with the rebels but do not support the rebellion. This contradiction will be resolved, one way or the other, in time.

- Only 39 percent said they had a favorable opinion of the Saudi armed forces. "They don't trust their army." This is a particularly worrying statistic. Why don't they trust the army? Because it's incompetent? Because it's corrupt? The army is a pillar of the regime. Erosion of support for the army is not a good sign for the royals.

- Almost a third of Saudis have positive view of militant clerics. More support government clerics. The militant clerics are the ones issuing fatwas in support of the rebels.

Summary: between 30-40% of Saudis support militant clerics, agree with bin Laden, and do not trust the army. That is a pretty damning indictment of the social order. And the poll would not have included anyone under 18. Fifty percent of Saudis are under 25 and 42% is under 15. How do they feel? Are they more sympathetic to al Qaeda than their parents? Do they trust social institutions any more? Are they less militant or more? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Iraqi Ministers Thanks U.S. and U.K. for Liberation

You'd never know this from CNN, NPR, ABC, NYT or the rest of the Tweedle-Dee Tweedle-Dum Big Media but yes, it actually happened. This is from the Wall Street Journal of all places:

First in Arabic and then in English, Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said in his inaugural address to the Iraqi people last Tuesday that "I would like to record our profound gratitude and appreciation to the U.S.-led international coalition, which has made great sacrifices for the liberation of Iraq." In his own remarks, President Ghazi al-Yawer said: "Before I end my speech, I would like us to remember our martyrs who fell in defense of freedom and honor, as well as our friends who fell in the battle for the liberation of Iraq."

Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the U.N. Security Council much the same thing last Thursday: "We Iraqis are grateful to the coalition who helped liberate us from the persecution of Saddam Hussein's regime. We thank President Bush and Prime Minister Blair for their dedication and commitment."

In English and Arabic! In front of the Security Council!

This should be a Top Story or a least worthy of a mention somewhere besides three paragraphs on the WSJ website. http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110005189

Saudi Revolution Watch vs Jo Lo Divorce Watch

Which will last longer, Jo Lo's 3rd marriage (to singer Marc Anthony - his name alone does not inspire confidence) or the Saudi royal family's hold on power? I predict they can both be measured in months.

Remember, this is an exhibition not a competition. Please, no wagering.

American Shot and Killed in Riyadh

That makes two dead and one seriously injured in two days. The unnamed man was shot in a suburb of the capital.
http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=525555§ion=news

Monday, June 07, 2004

Theories of Saudi Revolution 1 – J Curve

It’s not just the violence in Saudi Arabia that leads me to believe that a revolution there is only a matter of time. Societies can endure high levels of violence without a revolution if the fundamental structures of the society are sound. This is not the case in Saudi Arabia.

The first theory of revolution that applies to the Kingdom is called the “J-Curve” theory.

A society that is poor and has always been poor generally expects this state to continue. This is a society of low expectations and it does not experience revolts against the government. However, societies that were poor in the past but experienced a period of substantial improvement in the quality of life expectt this to continue. When there is a significant decline in the quality of life, a sense of frustration develops. This frustration grows as the gap between expectations and reality grows. The society is poorer than it was in the recent past and this gap generates a sense of relative deprivation.

In the Saudi case, the country was extremely poor in the early part of the20th century, as it had been since time immemorial. With the discovery of oil life improved considerably for most people. It was the oil shock of the 1970s that radically changed the nation. They literally had more money than they could spend. The government provided free health care, free education through college, subsidized housing, fuel and airplane fare. Upon graduation, Saudis were guaranteed work with one of the ever-growing government bureaucracies or the nationalized oil company. This was a period of geometric increases in ever measure of well-being and likewise in Saudi expectations. Some of the benefits of oil wealth were lower infant mortality rates and longer life spans. Plus, Saudis could afford to have more children.

This period lasted throughout the 1980s and into the 90s. However, the oil-export economy simply couldn’t keep up. As oil prices declined and stabilized for years on end, oil revenues were flat at a time when the population was booming. There were more people to care for with the same amount of money. More pieces from the same sized pie meant smaller pieces. This is relative deprivation.

Saudi unemployment is around 40%. Young Saudi men who expected to work for the government can’t: the bureaucracies don’t need for them, they have few skills since they mostly studied religion in college, and the government can’t afford to hire them anyway. Saudi men can’t get married without jobs. They see that the social arrangement that worked for their parents no longer works for them. They don’t have a tangible stake in the success of society; a house, kids, a position of status.

While none of these factors turn people into revolutionaries, in does make them susceptible to revolutionary ideology and more willing to participate in organized violence.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Is That Irony? I Don't Even Know Any More

Earlier I posted about the intensity of hatred toward Bush and Republicans and advised against it, as hatred has a way of destroying the hater.

A theater review in the Village Voice of all things is the latest example, (thanks to Iraq Now). Is the author putting me on? Is this irony or post-ironic self-parody? He can't be serious can he? Here are a few key excerpts.
Republicans don't believe in the imagination, partly because so few of them have one, but mostly because it gets in the way of their chosen work, which is to destroy the human race and the planet.
He makes Republicans sound like the Marvin the Martian from the old Warner Brothers cartoons.
Human beings, who have imaginations, can see a recipe for disaster in the making; Republicans, whose goal in life is to profit from disaster and who don't give a hoot about human beings, either can't or won't. Which is why I personally think they should be exterminated before they cause any more harm.
See what I mean? This is such a classis example of occidentalism (the West as destroyer, anti-romantic materialist, greedy profiteer, worshipper of evil) that it's got to be a put on. He continues.
George W. Bush, idiot scion of a genetically criminal family that should have been sterilized three generations ago.
What the fuck? Of course if you wrote the same sentences but replaced "Republicans" with "the poor" or "Muslims" or "the French" you'd be accused of being a hatemonger, and rightly so. I don't know whether to laugh with paranoid hysteria or punch someone.

Russian Refinery Bombed

Well, they Islamist nihilists have crossed the Rubicon and bombed a refinery in Russia, the world's largest oil producer. Ok, no one has claimed responsibility but the bombing was 75 miles north of Chechyna. There have been a string of bombings in Grozny and in Russia proper related to the Chechyn/Islamist rebellion. Who else would bomb a refinery, czarists?

I'm sure other jihad groups will be following this closely. If the bombing closes the refinery or is otherwise judged a success, in jihad terms, then the same tactic may be used elsewhere. Watch oil prices Monday.

Friday, June 04, 2004

I Thought Friday was a Holy Day

In Paris Friday afternoon a man yelling Allah Akbar "stabbed a Jewish teenager in the thorax" as the 17-year old left school. The man fled and has not yet been apprehended (imagine that).

Ahh France, home of Montaigne, Descarte, the Encyclopedists, Voltaire, Dreyfus, Marshal Petain. As a friend of mine once said, the Enlightenment's on but nobody's home.

Thanks to my readers

A quick thanks to the dedicated hardcore readers, you know who you are. And a special thanks to readers in Rochester (caught you), in the UK, those using Macs, and working for the Washington Times. Thanks for playing. Leave a comment next time: complaints, suggestions, threats, whatever floats your boat.