Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Posting is going to continue to be somewhat intermittent this week.

The Politics of Boycotting

There is good news of a sort on the British teaching union, NATFHE's, boycott of Israel. The AUT, the union that passed the boycott last year, then decisively rescinded it in a much larger vote, sent out a press release stating it does not endorse the boycott.
AUT does not endorse this policy and is strongly advising its members not to implement it.

Meanwhile, the AUT and NATFHE are set to merge later this week.

Adloyada has details on the politics of the union merger and its various leaderships.
I've always taken the view that the merger of the unions was a disaster for our universities, and especially our most respected world-class universities. That's because NATFHE's structures over the years have allowed it to be completely dominated by far left and hard left activists with ultra radical and revolutionary agendas. Quite apart from their latest move on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, they have adopted policy after policy which reflects that, from their fervent support of the Stop the War campaign to their latest fulsome praise of Chavez in Venezuela. And they favour flat rate equal funding for all post 16 colleges, so that the national budget for post 16 education would fund both colleges primarily providing artisan training and adult education and the likes of Oxford and Cambridge on an exactly identical allocation-per-student basis. This would of course put paid to our best universities as serious research institutions.

Before the merger was proposed, AUT's policies were largely uncontroversial, until last year's ultimately unsuccessful boycott initiative came along. But I noted that the hard left, in the shape of the Socialist Workers' Party, was proudly proclaiming the success of its efforts to gain control of individual university AUT branches. It may be some reflection of that that at its most recent conference, the AUT affiliated to the Stop the War campaign, passing a motion which included references to the "Afghani occupation". Presumably that means the AUT now regards Afghanistan as a country which should really be returned to the control of its former Taliban regime.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Political Odd Couple: Bush and Blair and their state of play

Tim Hanes gets it just right in much of this column in his analysis of the Bush/Blair relationship:
AT A TIME when divorce is evidently getting easier and more lucrative, it is touching to see one couple soldiering on despite their domestic difficulties. Admittedly this "marriage" is between two men, which would raise eyebrows (and possibly shotguns) in the senior partner's native Texas. It is, though, the family of the other partner that remains most shocked, mortified indeed, by the enduring liaison. All of which was revealed last week when Tony Blair met George W. Bush in Washington. To some, nothing else during the Prime Minister's time at No 10 has seemed so surreal.

And not only does the Labour Party feel betrayed and humiliated by the spectacle of Mr Blair and Mr Bush in action. So do the Democrats. How, they ask, could a politician of the Centre-Left turn so effortlessly from the embrace of Bill Clinton to a redneck Republican equivalent of Vlad the Impaler?
How indeed?

Unlike many of those Democrats or Labour Party memebers, however, Tim Hanes remembers accurately the era of foreign policy under Clinton. Which explains a great deal in the Bush-Blair relationship.

The attacks on Mr Blair for his dealings with Mr Bush are based on a false nostalgia for the Clinton era, a failure to appreciate the realities that a Prime Minister faces in foreign affairs and a reluctance to admit that “liberal interventionism” often involves conservative methods.

The recasting of the Clinton years is risible. The former President is depicted as a sage diplomat, measured and consistent, who "spoke European" (unlike his successor, who can barely speak English) and with an astute strategy for global politics.

This is nonsense. Mr Clinton's approach to international relations was rather like his attitude to women: he either wanted his hands everywhere or he ignored the body concerned entirely. He came into power demanding that Europe take charge alongside him in Bosnia and then retreated when a relatively minor military debacle elsewhere (Somalia) drained him of personal authority. After that he was such a feeble commander-in-chief that when Osama bin Laden started his terrorist campaign against American targets the response from the Oval Office was to bomb so-called chemical factories in Sudan - but only after local security guards had finished their night shift and there was no danger of them being hit by missiles. That must really have put the frighteners on al-Qaeda.

Then there was Kosovo. Six years after declaring the behaviour of the Serbs in one part of the Balkans to be utterly unacceptable, Mr Clinton had to be dragged kicking and screaming by Mr Blair into a neighbouring area where the atrocities committed were worse still. The split between the two men then was more profound than any that has occurred since Mr Bush entered the White House. It happened not because Mr Clinton was being "measured", let alone "consistent". He behaved as he did because he did not want to risk his poll ratings. Too often, Mr Clinton did not "speak European" - he spoke with a forked tongue. Whatever Mr Bush's faults may be, as the Prime Minister has frequently observed, you do know where he stands and where you stand with him.
Well said indeed, Mr. Hanes. That's precisely how foreign policy was conducted during Clinton's administration, with a President too concerned with poll numbers to take action. And ever since his time in office, the press has become obsessed with daily and weekly polling as well. A hangover from the Clinton era that we are unlikely to shake off any time soon.

Mistakes made in the aftermath of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein have been costly. Some of them were avoidable. Others, on the other hand, were inevitable. The idea that there can ever be such a thing as Fairy Liquid warfare - conflict that leaves your hands feeling cleaner and smoother afterwards - is an illusion. Liberal intervention will always demand imperfectly conservative methods. It is a price that has to be paid.

Fairy liquid warfare, indeed. Democratic critics of the President have been soaking in it for so long, they don't seem to realize any more - at least in their public, unsophisticated rhetoric - that there are no perfect outcomes in war zones. Just imperfect ones, where plenty of mistakes are always made along the way.

Building the public expectation of a perfect war is a shortsighted policy, and one that may easily backfire on them one of these days.

Unfortunately, they've helped create a superficial public atmosphere that judges the Iraq war, not according to its seriousness of purpose and the good it has already accomplished, but instead by every fault and mistake that was made along the way.

Accounting for Al Gore

The best explanation for Al Gore yet:

Look at it this way; in early July 1947, a spaceship crewed by extra-terrestrials reportedly crash-landed near Roswell, New Mexico. In late March the following year, almost exactly nine months after the "Roswell Incident", Al Gore was born. Coincidence?

The robotic delivery of his speeches tends to suggest otherwise. As do the strained and un-coordinated body movements, typically suggestive of battery failure.

UPDATE: The "brilliant" Mr. Gore calls President Bush a renegade right-wing extremist in the Guardian no less. Which I suppose is appropriate commentary for the vehicle - otherwise known as populism. A lesson he seems to have learned from President Clinton. Tailor your message to please your audience.

That's the same President Bush, by the way, a large part of whose base is currently furious at him for being totally soft on issues like illegal immigration.

Prostration Wear - Or Jeans, Muslim Style

File under curiousities:

For devout Muslims, who love their jeans, now an Italian company offers "Islamic Jeans" suitable for bending and flexing during prayer in the mosque.
Al Quds Jeans, manufactured in Pakistan, are baggy and have a high waist to allow freedom of movement during the repeated kneeling for Islamic worship. The jeans are made of traditional blue denim, have five pockets and are especially tailored for use in the mosque.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Good News and the Bad News

There's some positive news from the Presbyterian Church leadership - a recommendation from a group of eleven Presbyterian Church (USA) leaders who completed a five day fact finding mission to end its policy of divestment.
While adoption of the divestment policy in 2004 created an important focus on the struggle for achieving a solution to the Middle East conflict, it is now time to put aside this one-sided, negative and counter-productive policy that threatens to cause great harm to both Israel and the Palestinians while creating unnecessary polarization within our own denomination," stated NCLCI Executive Committee member Dr. John H. Cushman who is Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of the Roses in Santa Rosa, California.

The policy has not been universally popular within the US Presbyterian Church, to say the least.

Meanwhile, for the bad news.

In Britain, the advisory policy of the largest teaching union, the 69,000-member National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, has voted to recommend a boycott of Israeli academics and institutions who don't adopt a far leftist stance on the Palestinian issue. And otherwise allow themselves, in effect, to be subject to suicide bombing and other terrorist tactics at will.
The largest university and college lecturers' union in Britain on Monday voted in favor of a motion recommending that its members boycott Israeli academics and institutions that do not publicly declare their opposition to Israeli policy in the territories.

"I have received literally thousands of emails seeking to 'educate' me on the foolishness of our stance in support of the rights of Palestinians," Paul Mackney, the secretary general of the union said at the association's annual national conference Saturday.

Educating the educators! Whoever heard of such nonsense.

"Many emails berate threats to deny academic freedom for Israeli professors but fail to mention that academic freedom in Palestine is a hollow joke. Even where staff and students are allowed freedom of movement to attend university, the material basis for a functioning academic life barely exists."

Mackney said that more Palestinians than Israelis have been killed since September 2000, the unemployment rate is higher among Palestinians and 185 Palestinian schools have been shelled or fired at, compared to one Israeli school.

"In the face of such injustice," he said, "Palestinian civil society, including the universities, needs support and solidarity as never before, and I will not be bullied into silence."

I guess he considers people expressing their opinion to him freely in email form to be "bullying."

The good news, at least, is that the British Government immediately expressed its regret at NATFHE's decision.

Apologies for the lack of posting

My mother is in the process of undergoing two surgeries, with the second one expected tomorrow, and I just haven't been in the mood for posting.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Yellow Badges for Jews, Red Badges for Christians...

[ New UPDATE: When I left town on Friday, no one was yet disputing the story, and I return to find it largely discredited, with one exception. Middle East expert, Amir Taheri's article which gives some detail on this issue, was published on Saturday, after the claims that it was incorrect had already circulated.

Hopefully, final clarification as to whether Taheri's claims are correct or not will occur during the week. At which point, I'll update more definitively. ]

Iran eyes badges for Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, so that Muslims can avoid them at sight and stay away.
The new law was drafted two years ago, but was stuck in the Iranian parliament until recently when it was revived at the behest of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...

Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth.

You can't say Ahmadinejad doesn't say what he means or stand proudly committed to what he believes in.

UPDATE: Michael Rubin at NRO has more:

The Iranian people are far more tolerant than their leadership, but it is unfortunate that Ahmadinejad could cite ample precedent if he so desired: The Nazi practice of forcing Jews to wear a yellow star had its origins in what is now Iran and Iraq when a ninth century caliph forced his Jewish subjects to wear yellow patches. From time to time, subsequent rulers revived the practice. Shiite clerics long deemed any food touched by Jews to be unclean. While blood libel only took root in Iranian society after the sixteenth-century arrival of European ambassadors, as Iranian society wrestled with modernity, violent anti-Semitism grew. Pogroms wiped out the Jewish community in some towns and villages in Iranian Azerbaijan in the mid-nineteenth century, and serious pogroms also swept through Mashhad, a Shiite shrine city in northeastern Iran in which the current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, was born and raised. It was also in Mashhad that, despite the oft-cited mantra that there is no compulsion in Islam, Shiite clerics forcibly converted the remaining Jews to Islam under threat of death....

With regard to the Christians, there have been many periods of oppression. Iranian governments sometimes looked at the Armenian Christian community as a fifth column and, in recent years, vigilante groups have assassinated evangelical Christians-there is some mention of this in recent State Department human rights reports. The Baha'i community is perhaps the most vulnerable and, of course, while there are functioning churches and synagogues in Tehran and Isfahan, the ruling authorities will not tolerate Sunni mosques in Tehran, a city of perhaps 14 million people.

Former Senator Torricelli tied to Oil for Food Scandal

The repercussions from this story are going to be huge.

Former Senator Torricelli from New Jersey has been revealed through documents to have a connection to the Oil for Food scandal in Iraq.

Flopping Aces has a write up.

Ciao Italia

Nearly Romano Prodi's first task on getting elected Prime Minister of Italy is to bring home its 2,700 troops from Iraq. To do so, though, he has to survive a vote of no confidence.
Making his first policy address as head of government, Romano Prodi formally abandoned the unequivocal support that his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, gave to U.S. policy in Iraq. Prodi appeared to indirectly criticize the United States' holding of terrorism suspects, saying such efforts must never undermine personal liberties.

Prodi was addressing the Senate, where he and his coalition have a meager margin of votes, on the eve of a vote of confidence. His camp hopes the vote will be the final confirmation of power for his coalition, which includes eight parties, among them socialists, former Communists, environmentalists and former Christian Democrats.
How is that for record timing, making the first confidence vote congruent with his first policy address.

Meanwhile, Israel is also suffering repercussions in its diplomacy from the new Prodi government.
Massimo d'Alema, who once referred to Israel as a “terror state,” was sworn in last week as Italy’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, along with the rest of Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s new cabinet.

D’Alema, 57, a former prime minister himself, is a communist and member of the Democratic Left party. He is known for his pro-Palestinian stance, and in the past has expressed his opposition to the construction of settlements, the West Bank security fence and IDF activity in the territories.

Following Hamas’ January 2006 victory in the Palestinian elections, d’Alema said that ‘while the organization is in fact extremist, the terror attacks it wages on Israel are part of the Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation.’

A woman who accompanied the new Italian foreign minister during his visit to Jerusalem in 1999 said that upon his arrival she greeted him by saying “welcome to Israel,” to which he responded, “welcome to Palestine.”
Of course D’Alema describes his attitude as pro-Israeli.

"I have always been a friend to Israel,” he said recently.

Of course, European perspective on Israel being what it is, he may actually have been being sincere there.

Or not.

Gor Lives!

Turns out there's a sex-slave cult devoted to the science fiction world of Gor whose proponents are merrily going about their existence in Britain.
A sex slavery cult based on a series of 1960s science fiction novels has been uncovered by police in Darlington. Durham Police discovered the bizarre sect after raiding a home in the area, after receiving complaints that a woman was being held against her will.

But a spokesman said the Canadian was a willing participant and the other people involved were consenting adults.

The group, called Kaotians, follow the Chronicles of Gor novels which depict a society where women are dominated...

Kaotians are a splinter group of the Goreans, which base their beliefs on novels written by American university professor John Norman.

The books are set on the quasi-medieval planet of Gor, which has a caste system and uses women as slaves.

There are an estimated 25,000 Goreans worldwide.
Of course, in the books Gor was on another planet. I suppose these types consider themselves "exiles from their homeworld."

So, is there a Hollywood branch yet? Competing, say, with L. Ron Hubbard's group?

The Mirror Self: A Foolish Journalistic Projection

Two stories today lay clear the perils of journalistic hubris in telling only one side of the story, both of them centered around Iraq.

In the first, Ken Silverstein writes a post called: “Fairy Tales” The (lack of) intelligence underpinning Bush's Iraq policy.

Its (extremely unoriginal) premise is that the Bush team ignored all the intelligence pointing to a negative situation on the ground in Iraq before the invasion, and has continued to do so. Not only that, but it is destroyed the career of everyone in a senior position who reported such intelligence, relegating them to the hinterlands of the intelligence world, thus making their careers come to a full stop. And it has only listened to that intelligence which supports the "narrative" they want to hear, about a good situation on the ground in Iraq, that progress is being made, etc.

Okay, unoriginality is no measure of truth. So just because it is a narrative we have heard before, does not make it necessarily any less true.

Except, except...

How ironic, that in an article which is almost entirely anonymously sourced, or reported by the anonymous friends of named officials (who don't make themselves available to talk to Silverstein), every story that Silverstein reports on is in agreement. He only speaks to these anonymous officials who tell the same story, the same narrative. There is no dissent allowed in his account either. In his case, it works as a rhetorical trick to "persuade" the reader of the extent of the perfidy of the Bush Admin and its devastating effect on foreign policy.

But are we to believe that everyone in the CIA actually agrees with Silverstein? Or does he merely speak to people who support his account? And thereby present a thoroughly unnuanced view, a narrative rhetorically strengthened by the fact that it is all in black and white with the Bush Administration, of course, playing the bad guys. Or, as in this case, the "very bad" guys.

It starts with an official quote, from a named Senator and then goes on with its own fairytale from there:
"This administration," Bob Graham, the former Senator and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told me, "does not seek the truth as a basis for its judgments, but tries to use intelligence to validate judgments it has already made."

In other words, all this account is doing is exchanging the black and white approach of how intelligence works in the Bush Administration with another account, equally built on pre-existing narrative.

But along the way, it also presents some amusing howlers.
"I spent 30 years at the CIA," said one former official, "and no one was ever interested in knowing whether I was a Republican or a Democrat. That changed with this administration. Now you have loyalty tests."

First notice the unnamed source for this. Then the implication, which is that the Bush Administration is the first Administration ever to "play politics" at the CIA.

Uh huh. Yeah, that's a nice fairytale. I believe that.

Notice how Silverstein never even discusses the fact that it is well known and has been written about openly and extensively that parts of the CIA have conducted a war against the Bush Administration. Of course, that might nuance the story, adding thereby some gray to its simple tale, and thereby complicatings its debunking of the fairytale mentality of the Bush Administration. We can't have that, then, can we?

I wonder also about the chronology of those so-called "loyalty tests". If we take the word of the unnamed official for it, when exactly did that start? Before or after the massive amount of leaking from the CIA began?

Notice also the martyrology narrative within the account. Everyone who "speaks truth to power" is destroyed. It's a story in which the innocent CIA agents and analysts are always all good, and the Bush Admin is all evil, refusing to listen to the truth in their haste to go forward with their evil plans.

What is most ironic is that Silverstein builds his account in precisely the same way that he excoriates the Bush Administration for taking. He also allows no deviation from the orthodoxy of his narrative.


In the second account, eloquently argued by Iraq Pundit, Washington Post reporter Ellen Knickmeyer reports on the increasing problem of militants dressed as policeman in Iraq acting as death squads. Her particular angle is to point at the Facilities Protection Service, known as the FPS, a unit established by Paul Bremer during the throes of the first insurgency. And to back up her claim, she quotes Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr accusing the FPS, of carrying out some of the killings widely attributed to death squads operating inside his ministry's police forces. A senior U.S. military official, speaking on condition that he not be identified further, said Saturday he believed that members of the FPS, along with private militias, were the chief culprits behind Iraq's death squads.

The only problem with this, as Iraq Pundit points out, is that Bayan Jabr has headed the Interior Ministry during the Jaafari regime. And he is considered responsible for allowing the police to become an arm of the militias in the first place.
Jabr, who allowed the police to become an apparent arm of the Shiite militias, has personal connections with the largest of those militias: He was a leader of the Badr Brigades, the Iranian-trained force of SCIRI, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Obviously, Jabr was an awful choice for the role of interior minister, and was a significant factor in the Jaafari regime's loss of trust and credibility. Restoring trust in the interior ministry must be a major objective of the new Maliki government.

So that is Knickmeyer's source. Yet, in citing him in two articles, she does not reveal to her audience the conflict of interest inherent in his position, not its self serving aspect. Iraq Pundit points out:
This is an almost perfect confluence of interests. Jabr gets to use a major U.S. newspaper to minimize his record of ineptitude and/or malice, while the Post gets to tell its preferred Iraqi narrative: that the proximate cause of every Iraqi ill is the United States.

On May 14, Knickmeyer had a front-page story in the Post following up on Jabr's accusations that FPS members have been behind some of the murders. The point of the story was that the FPS was a significant force, that no one had much control over it, and that it was a legacy of bad U.S. governance.

I don't know how culpable the FPS is in the murder campaign, and neither it seems does Knickmeyer. My interest is in Knickmeyer's use of Jabr in her stories. For example, Knickmeyer never acknowledges Jabr's militia connections. I'm also struck by the manner in which Knickmeyer appears to allow Jabr to cast blame for Iraq's security problems.

Surely Knickmeyer is aware of the fact that Jabr is known to have militia connections.

Doesn't she believe her readers should be as well?

Ah, journalists and their bag of rhetorical tricks.

The American Army

An interesting evaluation of the American army in Iraq, from a British senior officer recently stationed there:
An interesting conversation with a senior army officer who recently left after serving in Iraq. He strongly dissents from the prevailing view that the Americans are crude and stupid and the British know how to do everything. The American army, he says, "is the best in the whole history of the world." It is true that the British have deeper experience of counter-insurgency, but he thinks we are forgetting that when we conducted our most successful operations against insurgents - as in Malaya - we combined friendliness toward the general population with killing thousands of rebels. The Americans, he says, are now learning more of our subtleties, without compromising their quality, essential in any army, of sheer aggression. In Basra, the British tactic of being nice has failed.

Hmm. The link at the moment is not working, though it worked yesterday. Today it is demanding subscription, yesterday it gave itself for free.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The 12th Imam

Robert Ferrigno, author of the Assassin's Gate, tells us what he thinks about Ahmadinejad, in the process providing some facts about the 12th Hidden Imam and the sect of Islam to which Ahmadinejad belongs.
Our present predicament with Iran revolves around the Twelfth Imam, or Hidden Imam, believed by Shiite Muslims to be the last in the line of spiritual/political rulers. The Twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, ascended to his position upon the death of his father, the Eleventh Imam, in 874 AD. Al-Madha at that time was five years old. Shortly after the funeral of his father, al-Mahdi disappeared, believed by Shiites to have been hidden by Allah until his return at some future point. The easiest way for westerners to think of the Hidden Imam is as the Islamic Messiah, Except the Islamic Messiah is to come at the hour of greatest peril for Muslims, come to battle the forces of evil and unite the entire world in an Islamic Caliphate.

Interesting, the mytheme has elements of the story of King Arthur, with the desired savior temporarily lost, but destined to return again when the world needs saving.

This may have been previously studied in some scholarly tome somewhere. But I don't know enough about it, I'm afraid to say, than to do other but note the similarity. Though, since that element of the Arthur story is rather late, my guess would be that the story influence ran from the shi'ite account to the Arthurian one. Though, it may also be that the version of the story of the 12th Imam familiar to us now, is also late, in which case, figuring out the vector of directionality in terms of the story development becomes more complicated.

And of course, both of these narratives reflect "the Messsianic myth". It's interesting, that at least in this version, it has elements of both the Jewish and Christian messianic narratives. For the first of the Jewish Messiahs is also meant to come at a time of great upheaval, war and devastation, to unite the people. Though it is the second Messiah who is supposed to preside over peace.

The Christian element in this narrative relates to the return of the desired savior once again, at the hour of need. And is later reflected in the Arthur story.

Another interesting point is that the particular sect that Ahmadinejad belongs to - the Hojjatieh - oppose the Islamic state, because they believe it will hasten the coming of the 12th Imam, since it will set up a time of peace, as opposed to upheaval, which will postpone the time when the 12th Imam arrives, since he needs to arrive at a time of chaos.

It reminds me of the stark anti-zionism of some of the more ultra-Orthodox Jews. Particularly that of neturei-karta, an organization so anti-zionist they believe that the Jewish state must be destroyed before the messiah will arrive, to which end they have often participated in self appointed "diplomatic initiatives" with the enemies of Israel, such as Arafat, and quite recently, in early March of this year, with Ahmadinejad.

In this later case, the theological similarity explains the attraction. They both believe the destruction of the Zionist entity will hasten the coming of the messiah. The difference is that they each have different notions of who the messiah will be and what he will accomplish once he arrives.

Further, here is the video in question.

Here is the video, at Memri, of Ahmadinejad apostrophizing the Europeans for treating the Iranian like children, in the bargaining position they attempt to set up for the Iranians.

And you know, he's not wrong on that point. Why should they go along with it? It is a ridiculous position, from the point of view of the Iranian regime. I'm glad he is calling their bluff in public.

And at the same speech, he calls the enemies of Iran's nuclear program mentally ill.

UPDATE: And here is Amir Taheri discussing the heavy price the Iranians have paid for their war against the US.

UPDATE II: And here is Aluf Benn in Ha'artez, exhorting the Israeli government not to be wimps when it comes to dealing with Iran. Olmert, of course, doesn't have the cachet that Sharon had, or the reputation.

Sharon had two advantages: total security authority domestically and an image among foreigners as someone who might run amok. The domestic authority guaranteed a unified Israeli policy. The leaks to the foreign press that Israel would attack Iran if diplomacy failed spurred the U.S. and its European friends. Sharon's record - from Kibiye and the Mitle to Beirut and the Muqata - left no doubt that he was capable of giving the launch order to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

Israel then was left without a "Mr. Security" at its head, and its new leaders are finding it difficult to inspire the same degree of fearful respect. The result undermines the previous policy. First, the Iranian threat has become a partisan political issue. The head of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, has called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to set aside the evacuation of settlements and direct billions into accelerated armament against Iran. Before the elections, Netanyahu backed an operation against Iran; now he is hinting that Olmert is not strong enough to deal with the threat.

Courage Exiled

The Washington Post on Hirsi Ali
[Her] outspokenness also offends many native-born Dutch, either because they refuse to address the extremism in their midst or they hope to avoid a radical Muslim backlash.

That's why Ms. Hirsi Ali was evicted from her apartment by a Dutch court last month: Her neighbors brought a lawsuit against her on the grounds that her outspokenness was violating their "human rights" by exposing them to a terrorist attack. Ms. Hirsi Ali compared her adversaries to the Dutch citizens who refused to protect their Jewish neighbors from the Nazis. But that was probably unfair: After all, the Dutch under German occupation were in far more danger than those who refuse to live in the same building as Ms. Hirsi Ali.
Is outrage over Hirsi Ali's fate one issue on which the left and the right in the US can finally agree?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Political-Entertainment World Circle Jerk

Richard Clarke's book, "Against All Enemies," is being made into a movie, to be directed by Paul Haggis of Crash fame.

And Sean Penn is going to play Richard Clarke. I'm sure each of these men are squeeing loudly at the opportunity. It's just a mutual m admiration club.

Although didn't we just have this movie a few months ago, and it was called Syriana? With George Clooney and Robert Baer?

Scary Jews!

Not only did I learn that Arlen Spector was Jewish this week, which was bad enough. But now it turns out, that so is Moammar Qadaffi! Technically speaking.

His mother was a Jew converted to Islam at age 9 and married a Bedouin.

So both he and his mother count as tinokot she nishbu, that is Jews who were "captured" as children and didn't have a chance to learn about Judaism, so cannot halakhically be held responsible for their failure to observe the commandments.

'Tinokos she-nishbu - children who have been captured and raised outside of a Jewish community. In other words, they are not blamed for their lack of adherence to traditional Judaism and do not fall into the talmudic categories of sectarians, apostates or rejecters."

[Hat tip: Roger L. Simon]

Connection to Israel Suddenly Undesirable?

Josh Gerstein, a star story breaker at the New York Sun, is reporting this morning that there appears to be a pattern involving revoking the security clearances of people who need Defense Department security clearances and have a strong connection to Israel. And they are invoking the ongoing AIPAC case as justification, the AIPAC case which itself is a controversial application of a vaguely worded law prohibiting people in possession of national defense information from passing it on to other people unauthorized to receive it. But the law has never been applied to lobbyists, only to people who work in government - so there is no direct legal precedent for this kind of prosecution.
The Pentagon is invoking the prosecution of two pro-Israel lobbyists and a Defense Department analyst for illegal use of classified information as a basis for stripping security clearances from government contractor employees who have dual citizenship in America and Israel or family members living in the Jewish state.

In at least three instances, Defense Department attorneys have used or attempted to use the case involving the former staffers of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to justify withdrawing a security clearance or denying one in the first place, according to a Virginia lawyer who closely tracks such disputes, Sheldon Cohen.

"In my personal experience, I know of at least three cases," Mr. Cohen told The New York Sun yesterday. "I assume they're raising it in every Israel case."

Asked why government lawyers were invoking the Aipac case in security clearance disputes with no known connection to the pro-Israel group, Mr. Cohen said, "The only reason to possibly use it is to implicate anybody with a connection to Israel, to imply they cannot be trusted. There is no other conceivable reason to bring it up."
Now that is a dangerous precedent to put into place.

At a hearing a few weeks ago on [a] Lockheed engineer's case, Mr. Schoen said, a government attorney sought to file the indictment of Messrs. Franklin, Rosen, and Weissman as an exhibit. The government argued that the indictment showed Israel was actively spying on America, Mr. Schoen said.

Mr. Schoen said he strenuously objected that the indictment was irrelevant to his client's case and, as a charging document, no proof of anything. "The only relevance can be is here are two Jews in Washington who are accused of spying for Israel so now any Jew is suspect for that," he said.

Mr. Schoen said the government argued that Franklin's guilty plea confirmed the validity of the charges, but the administrative judge conducting the clearance review hearing declined to admit the exhibit.

Mr. Schoen said his client, whose hearing was continued to June, was recently laid off by Lockheed.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pillage Idiot goes all manly...

on the Harvard presidential search Committee.

And, uh, I got that letter, too.

Unlike, Attila, though, I kind of just put it down and forgot about it.

Did Syria Purchase Nuclear Technology from the A.Q. Khan Network?

The United States' intelligence agencies suspect Syria was offered and received nuclear weapons technology from the covert Pakistani supplier group headed by A.Q. Khan, according to an intelligence report quoted by the Washington Times.

An annual report to Congress on arms proliferation states that Pakistani investigators have confirmed reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the Khan network "offered nuclear technology and hardware to Syria."

The report covered the period of 2004. Its release was delayed by the new Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which took

control of the report from the CIA as part of an intelligence reorganization.

Harry Potter and the Halakhic Seal of Approval

Just in case you were worried about it, it turns out, at least according to Prof. Menahem Kellner of the University of Haifa's department of Jewish history and thought, and his daughter Rivka Kellner, who is a doctoral candidate in literature at Bar-Ilan University, that the brand of magic used in the Harry Potter's book meets with Maimonides' posthumous approval. In other words, it's kosher magic.
According to the Kellners, many generations of researchers deliberated on how to define magic. Much attention had been paid to distinguishing between magic and science on the one hand, and between magic and religion on the other. They explained that Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish sage, philosopher and physician known as the Rambam, rejected the kind of magic that was supernatural and could not be explained. He saw it as competing with religion.

The version of magic used by Rowling's Harry Potter, however, was different, they said. This magic was similar to normal science, and it was explainable - whether we understand it or not.

To demonstrate this, the researchers cited the Potter books' Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The fictional school, they contend, taught magic in a "scientific" way, and the use of magic in the world of Harry Potter depended on study and training as well as on the talent of the performer. It is, therefore, something with an explanation.
Good to know.

The Chomsky Video

Europe's favorite public intellectual, Noam Chomsky, met with Hizbollah last week.

Memri has the video.

Ayaan Ali Hirsi's Dutch Citizenship Revoked

Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk has ruled that Hirsi Ali was never a legal citizen of the Netherlands in the first place and revoked her citizenship.
Outspoken Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali has reacted with shock to the news she was never a citizen of the Netherlands. If true, she was not entitled to be a member of parliament since 2002.

"I am speechless," the native of Somalia told the New York Times. Dutch Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk informed her by telephone on Monday evening that a preliminary investigation has found she probably never attained the status of a naturalised Dutch citizen. This is because she lied to get asylum five years earlier. She has six weeks to reply to the Minister's ruling.
Apparently, not everyone is thrilled by Minister Verdonk's preemptory move. Not even everyone in Verdonk's liberal party.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali's fellow members of the VVD free-market party are in an uproar. The normally hugely loyal Dutch VVD MP Bibi de Vries has said that 'if anything happens to AHA, her blood will be on the hands of members of my party'. Former party leader Van Aartsen appeared on television with his face looking like a freshly boiled lobster. European VVD MP's as well as Geert Dales, the VVD mayor of Leeuwarden, have condemned secretary Rita Verdonk's preliminary decision to revoke AHA's citizenship.
This has now led to a firestorm within the Dutch government, as various parties split into pro-AHA and pro-Verdonk positions and the Dutch Prime Minister keeps out of the firefight, in order to salvage his government.

It would be ironic, indeed, if Verdonk ends up having to resign as a result of her belligerent actions.

UPDATE: The Free West's weblog quotes an anecdote from France and applies it to the current situation:

In May '68, during the Paris riots, the French police planned to arrest Jean-Paul Sartre.

When De Gaulle was informed about the plan, he reacted: 'On n'arrete pas un Voltaire.'
One does not arrest a Voltaire.

One does not strip a Voltaire from his citizenship.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Melanie Phillip's new book, Londonistan, is out.

She's been touring the US and giving interviews.

Clifford May reviews the book here

Here she speaks to Jamie Glazov, at Front Page Magazine.

FP: Can you talk a little bit about the collapse of traditional British identity and of the destructiveness of multiculturalism?

Phillips: This is absolutely a key issue. Multiculturalism has turned Britain's values inside out - and the root cause of the problem is the deconstruction of Britain's identity. For decades, the British elite has been consumed by loathing of its national identity and values which it decided were racist, authoritarian and generally disagreeable. Much of that was due to our old friend, post-colonial guilt. The elite was therefore vulnerable to the predations of the left, which had signed up to Gramsci's insight that a society could be suborned by replacing its normative values by the mores of those who transgressed them or were on society's margins.

This gave rise to multiculturalism and minority rights, which held that all cultures were equal to each other and which thus provided minorities with an enormous weapon with which to force the majority to give in to their demands. One of the consequences of this was moral inversion, which holds that since minorities are weak they must always be victims of the majority because it is strong. So even when minorities behave badly, it's always the majority's fault. Translate that onto the world stage, and you arrive at the view that even when third world people commit terrorist outrages against the west it must be the west which is to blame. That's why multicultural Britain said, after 9/11, that America 'had it coming to them' - and why, after the London bombings last July, it said the reason British Muslim boys had blown up the London transit system was because of Britain's support for the US in Iraq...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Tony the Tiger: That's GRREEAATTT

Tony Snow is seeking to challenge
negative, lazy mainstream MSM
news reporting techniques.

White House sources said Snow ... is determined to aggressively counter what the administration considers unfair assertions in both news and editorials about Bush.

And Tony starts off in prime form.

New White House Press Secretary Tony Snow is starting off in a combative mode against the press by issuing detailed rebuttals to what he considers unfair coverage of Bush.

"The New York Times continues to ignore America's economic progress," blared the headline of an e-mail sent to reporters Wednesday by the White House press office.

Minutes earlier, another e-mail blasted CBS News, which has had an unusually rocky relationship with the White House since 2004, when CBS aired what turned out to be forged documents in a failed effort to question the president's military service.

"CBS News misleadingly reports that only 8 million seniors have signed up for Medicare prescription drug coverage," Wednesday's missive said. "But 37 million seniors have coverage." On Tuesday, the White House railed against "USA Today's misleading Medicare story."

"USA Today claims 'poor, often minority' Medicare beneficiaries are not enrolling in Medicare drug coverage," the press office complained. "But by April, more than 70 percent of eligible African Americans, more than 70 percent of eligible Hispanics, and more than 75 percent of eligible Asian Americans are enrolled or have retiree drug coverage."
Let's hope he keeps this up. It's exactly the kind of measure that has been necessary, given the reluctance of the press to report on good news, and has been so disappointingly missing.

Make it easy for the reporters to figure out what the "good stories" are. After all, wouldn't want to make them do any investigatin' or anything.

UPDATE: Gateway Pundit and Ace of Spades have more, cheering Tony on.

Wiserbud, at Ace's site, comments: [M]aybe it will drive the left even more insane. Then imagine the fun!

Sister Toldjah transmits the AP's report that Tony's first informal gaggle will be tomorrow, and his first official one on Monday.

Profiling Dana Priest, Pulitzer Prize Winner for the Black Sites Story

Jennifer Verner profiles Dana Priest for Accuracy in Media. Much of her information is already known to readers of this site and several others, but it is useful to have the information neatly sewn up in an incisive column in the kind of treatment usually not performed on journalists.
... Dana Priest predicted that her work would cause "political embarrassment" for the Bush administration. Her prediction was not clairvoyance-based. The Washington Post released the article at a point of maximum impact—the eve of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's crucial visit to America's European allies in the War on Terror. Priest's shocking claims did more than embarrass the administration; they harmed America's national security and intelligence gathering capabilities during a time of war. The allegations and insinuations of torture, black sites and gulags on European soil deeply handicapped Rice's mission by fueling anti-American political forces in Europe and straining relations with vital allies in the War on Terror.

But recent developments in the story lead to more disturbing questions: Was political embarrassment for the Bush Administration her educated prediction or her deliberate intent? And were the allegations true? After months of investigation by European investigators, no evidence has yet surfaced to support her claims about "secret prisons." Further, fired CIA officer Mary O. McCarthy, one of Priest's reported "anonymous" sources, has been outed as a Democratic partisan who worked closely with members of the Clinton Administration and the John Kerry Campaign foreign policy team, including Sandy Burger, Richard Clarke, Rand Beers and Joe Wilson.

As if that isn't enough to raise eyebrows, Dana Priest's matrimonial tie, not generally known to readers of the Washington Post, leaves a strong appearance of conflict of interest. As it happens, she is married to William Goodfellow, a far-left political activist and current executive director of the Center for International Policy (CIP), who has been at the vanguard of many of the most rabid attacks on Bush Administration policy.

Goodfellow has been described by his wife as a human rights activist. Yet, that is hardly an accurate or complete job description. For the past 30 years, William Goodfellow has pushed radical causes in a string of inter-related far-left think tanks....

UPDATE: In a related story, the NSA refuses to give Justice Department lawyers required security clearances to pursue an investigation of the warrantless eavesdropping program.

Macsmind points out:
Ok, ask yourself a question. Who in the hell is going to give a bunch of DOJ lawyers security clearances to probe, when all through the NSA story and the Plame Game, whenever a story was written in the MSM it was based on lawyers "close to the investigation", who leaked out the information.

Sorry, simply can't trust these dolts to keep a secret.
And, as it happens, that observation is absolutely correct.

Previous posts covering Dana Priest:

Details, Details
Dozens of Leak Investigations Under Way
Rand Beers On Mary McCarthy
Huh? Who Knew The CIA Was Running Covert Programs?
Turn About Is Fair Play

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Cole Alert: The Light Dimming at Yale

According to Michael Rubin from PhiBeta Cons, at NRO:

The Yale History Department has voted to extend Juan Cole an offer, although the sociology department and the Yale Center for International and Area Studies have yet to hold their votes (it's a joint appointment).

It will be interesting to see what happens next. When the Yale Corporation hosted a member who had violated U.S. laws regarding the boycott of Israel, an alumni revolt ultimately forced his resignation.

Many alumni are already raising questions about what this means for the reputation of the Yale History Department which had once prided itself on an emphasis on traditional research and fieldwork-Cole has never been to Iraq-but which seems to have cast it aside because of sympathy to Professor Cole’s politics.

Lest we forget, Yale's motto is: urim v'thummim which is light and truth.

[This phrase is taken from Exodus 28:30, a reference to a device worn on the High Priest's Breastplate in Biblical Israel. By tradition, two crystals, but there is no consensus on that. ]

Sign the Petition to Help Eradicate Human Trafficking in Israel

Here's the text of the petition to create legislation to end human trafficking in Israel. Please take the time to read and sign it.

Human trafficking is a stain on Israel's reputation and a threat to its security and moral fiber. As a supporter/citizen of Israel, I call upon the government to eradicate modern slavery within its borders. More serious action must be taken to prevent the smuggling of victims into Israel, prosecute the criminals responsible and protect the rights of those exploited. I call upon Israel to dedicate more resources to this problem, to educate the public about its dangers, and to rid itself of this terrible injustice. Israel can and must become a world leader in the fight against human trafficking.

Some actions have been taken to stop this heinous practice in Israel, but much more needs to be done.

I didn't know this. Apparently, these "houses of prostitution," which are actually the places these women are forcibly kept, advertise their services in big ads in newspapers, and the courts have made a travesty of shutting them down, imposing fines less onerous than the amount of money the papers rake in from this practice. Until these ads are penalized with punishing fines, the practice will go on.

Here's a story about human trafficking in Israel if you are unfamiliar with this shameful controversy. And another one, from Jewlicious. Read them and feel ashamed that this is going on, largely unaddressed, in Israel.

[Hat Tip on the petition: Seraphic Secrets]

Goss Pushed Out By Bolten?

Apparently Goss was pushed out by Bolten.
Intelligence insiders say that former CIA Director Porter Goss was given less than a day to pack his bags by new White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten, who is moving swiftly to put a new and more aggressive face on the administration.

Despite Monday's praise by President Bush for Goss, with whom he held an exit ceremony last Friday at the White House, the insiders say that the decision to dump Goss came hard and fast. One says that Goss revealed to his senior staff on Friday that Bolten had called him last Thursday night to ask if he had "thought through an exit strategy."

That's the explanation I was suspecting in any case.

It makes the most sense.

We still don't know why, precisely, though. "A new and more aggressive face on the Administration" is pretty hazy-speak.

Perhaps Bolten wanted the opportunity to generate better press vis-a-vis the CIA and thus created a narrative where Goss was the bad guy who could be sacrificed, allowing Hayden to keep the aggressive Bush agenda going, but with the source of the MSM grievance no longer in place.

Macranger is pretty definitive that the aggressive agenda to fix the CIA and plug the leaks that Goss had planned is still in place in any case and will continue throughout the summer.

Other theories?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Le Plus Ca Change...

Le Plus C'est La Meme Chose

Britain opens up its National wartime archives to disclose historical proof of the presence of Nazi S.S. agents in Mandatory Palestine, working closely with Palestinian leaders.
Historical documents in Britain’s National Archives in London show that Nazi Germany attempted to ship arms to Palestinian forces in the 1930s.

A British Foreign Office report from 1939 reports of “news of a consignment of arms from Germany, sent via Turkey and addressed to Ibn Saud (king of Saudi Arabia), but really intended for the Palestine insurgents.” Britain’s chief military officer in Mandatory Palestine also noted reports “regarding import of German arms at intervals for some years now.”

British documents from the same period, and German records photographed by an American spy and sent to the British government, said that a number of Nazi agents were sent to Mandatory Palestine, in order to forge alliances with Palestinian leaders, and urge them to reject a partition of the land between the Jewish and Arab populations.

One Nazi agent, Adam Vollhardt, arrived in Palestine in July 1938, and was reported to have gained strong influence with Arab leaders, meeting with Palestinian leaders throughout 1938. Vollhardt held several meetings with leading Arab politicians and told them “that the Palestine question would be settled to the satisfaction of the Arabs within a few weeks,” adding that “it would be fatal to their (Palestinians’) cause if at this juncture they showed any signs of weakness or exhaustion.”

Of course, the historical documents reveal a British historical consistency as well.
Jewish refugees abandoned

The records also show that the news of increased Nazi-Arab cooperation panicked the British government, and caused it to cancel a plan in 1938 to bring to Palestine 20,000 German Jewish refugees, half of them children, facing danger from the Nazis.

Documents show that after deciding that the move would upset Arab opinion, Britain decided to abandon the Jewish refugees to their fate.

As I said, Le Plus Ca Change...

Back to the Heart of Darkness

Johann Hari has a searing, horrific look at life and war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It should be a must read. Brutal, nasty and short. Life, that is, not the article, which is quite long.

I recommend his article with these caveats however.

It suffers from multi-culturalism, white man's guilt - which translates as an attempt to blame all of this ultimately on the West with its lust for technology, and contains at least two egregious attempts to compare these events to the "tyrants" in Iraq and the occupied territories.

Also, there is an interesting discussion of it in the comments at Harry's Place, some of which are sceptical of some of his results. Although, unsurprisingly, they all seem to accept the narrative of the comparison to the Occupied Territories without a squeak.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Gateway Pundit reports on a new report of UN Peacekeepers Trading Food for Sex with Minors...Again.

This time it is occurring in Liberia. Last time, it was yet another horror, in a world of horrors in Democratic Republic of Congo.

UPDATE II: And speaking of UN Travesties, China is now pushing to become a member of the Human Rights Council, because the old council, the U.N.'s former Human Rights Commission, pushed things like Human Rights too aggressively to suit its members, such as Cuba, Zimbabwe and Sudan. It's competing for a seat against tough competition, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

But China's unique contribution will be the formal policy of "censoring the council's discussion of abuses committed by individual countries."

With a proposal like that, how can they lose?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Hamas Plotting to Kill Abbas?

The London Times is reporting that Israel foiled a Hamas plot to kill Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan in Gaza, by tipping him off ahead of time.
A HAMAS plot to assassinate Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has been thwarted after he was tipped off by Israeli intelligence. Hamas's military wing, the Izza Din Al-Qassem, had planned to kill Abbas at his office in Gaza, intelligence sources said...

The sources were unable to say who in Hamas's secretive leadership had given the order to kill Abbas. But an indication of its hostility towards Abbas came last week...

Abbas, who is guarded by his own security men, divides his time between his Gaza and Ramallah offices. While in the West Bank he is relatively safe, but Gaza - stronghold of Hamas and numerous rogue terrorist organisations - is a dangerous place. Shortly after his election to the presidency Abbas narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in the Gaza Strip...

Matti Steinberg, a former adviser to the head of Shin Bet, Israel's domestic security service, said he would be surprised if any decision to kill Abbas had been taken by Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian prime minister, or Khaled Mashaal, the Damascus-based Hamas leader. "However, such an action by the military wing of Hamas is very plausible," he added.
Allah at Hot Air suggests the possibility that it may have been a planted report.

Right Winged.Com points out that Jimmy Carter is in the European papers today, salivating over Hamas.

And Flopping Aces points out that a Fatwa is due out next week instructing the Ummah - the Muslim people - on their fiscal obligations to the Palestinians.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wackademics Gone Wild

Pillage Idiot calls the shots on the escalating friendly "rivalry" between Harvard and Yale.

Van provided an earlier take on the delicate state of the Harvard-Yale relationship here.

Did Italian Communists Help Iranian Forces Coordinate the Murder of Italian Troops in Iraq?

Stefania, at Publius Pundit, is reporting that the Italian Intelligence overheard telephone calls coordinating an attack on Italian soldiers between Italian communists and Islamists.
Italian communist groups helped kill 3 Italian soldiers in Nassirya I reported about here. An article on L'Opinione reports (in Italian) that anti-globalization and communist groups based in Italy, among which is the infamous "anti-imperialist camp" (that collecting "Euros for the Iraqi resistance") coordinated with Islamic terrorists in Iraq to attack our troops in Nassiryiah. The Italian intelligence heard phone conversations in which the red fundamentalists instructed the Islamists about how and when to kill our soldiers. It seems that the attack was organized in order to pressure Mr. Prodi to speed the pullout from Iraq.

And of course all was coordinated by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I am sorry that I can't find the English translation of some must-read news and reports, but if you can manage to translate them by yourself, please read this news about the anger of many Carabinieri at the new-born Prodi government. When the coffins with the bodies of the three fallen heroes were staying in a governmental palace in Rome, some of the dead's colleagues (Carabinieri) expressed their unwillingness to accept the 'condolances' of Prodi and company. One of the Carabinieri said that the troops in Iraq strongly disagree with Prodi's choice to pullout them.

The relatives of the three killed soldiers have expressed their pride in their sons' mission. "He deeply believed that his mission in Iraq was for a just cause. I am sad but at the same time very proud of my son. I hope that his sacrifice won't be forgotten and won't be in vain" said the mother of one of those heroes.

Today, some exalted communists wasted no time to shout once again that infamous and terrorist phrase "10, 100, 1000 Nassiryiahs" echoing Che Guevara's "10, 100, 1000 Vietnams".

If this claim is substantiated, it will be shocking, indeed; but given the vicissitudes of European communist history, unfortunately, not altogether surprising.

For it was the communists who allied with Khomeini to overthrow the Shah of Iran, back in the late 1970s, in order to upset the American alliance and change the balance of power in the Middle East, so that it favored the Soviet bloc. And the French communists with whom Khomeini allied during his long exile in France.

Mudville Gazette has more analysis on the role of the Italian communists - whose hand was strengthened by the recent narrow victory of Prodi over Berlusconi - leading the call to withdraw from Italy.
Oliviero Diliberto, head of the Italian Democratic Communist Party, a coalition partner of Prime Minister-designate Romano Prodi, said the new government could withdraw all Italian forces from Iraq by this summer.

Mr. Prodi "completely agrees with me" on speeding up withdrawal, he said. But political sources said Mr. Prodi, who is set to form a government after Mr. Berlusconi resigns tomorrow, was unlikely to accelerate the phased withdrawal so dramatically.
And what will Oliverio Diliberto say if these charges turn out to be true? And what will Mr. Prodi do? Withdraw ignominiously after a treasonous act like this.

That the attack was orchestrated by the Iranians does not appear to be in doubt.
The newspaper la Repubblica yesterday quoted officials of the Military Intelligence and Security Service, known by its Italian acronym SISMI, saying the attack was organized by Iranian agents, who were first spotted in the province in early April.

The SISMI sources were quoted as saying the Iranians met with radical Shi'ite leaders to plot that attack and another roadside bomb that exploded near three Carabinieri paramilitary police armored vehicles close to a bridge over the Euphrates River on April 22.

A spy in a local police station evidently provided the Iranians with the route to be taken by the soldiers' convoy. Iraqi officers at the Nasariyah police station were trained by the Italian contingent, but many are considered unreliable.

I'm just waiting for someone to object to the fact that Italian Intelligence was listening in on calls that allegedly went out between Italian communists and Iran, in their own version of the NSA scandal.

[Hat Tip: Gateway Pundit by way of Powerline]

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The 101st Fighting Keyboardists...

...of which Abracadabrah is a proud member, gets endorsed by CENTCOM.

Sneakeasy has the details.

Mr. Cole's Eloquent Refutation of Christopher Hitchens' Charges

Yesterday, Christopher Hitchens had a piece in Slate that pointed out some of Mr. Juan Cole's more egregious recent misstatements about Iran and Israel.
In some ways, the continuing row over his call for the complete destruction of Israel must baffle Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. All he did, after all, was to turn up at a routine anti-Zionist event and repeat the standard line—laid down by the Ayatollah Khomeini and thus considered by some to be beyond repeal—that the state of Israel is illegitimate and must be obliterated. There's nothing new in that...

words and details and nuances do matter in all this, so I was not surprised to see professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan denying that Ahmadinejad, or indeed Khomeini, had ever made this call for the removal of Israel from the map. Cole is a minor nuisance on the fringes of the academic Muslim apologist community. At one point, there was a danger that he would become a go-to person for quotes in New York Times articles (a sort of Shiite fellow-traveling version of Norman Ornstein, if such an alarming phenomenon can be imagined), but this crisis appears to have passed.

Today, Mr. Cole strikes back.
Back to Hitchens. How to explain this peculiar behavior on the part of someone who was at one time one of our great men of letters?

Well, I don't think it is any secret that Hitchens has for some time had a very serious and debilitating drinking problem. He once showed up drunk to a talk I gave and heckled me. I can only imagine that he was deep in his cups when he wrote, or had some far Rightwing think tank write, his current piece of yellow journalism. I am sorry to witness the ruin of a once-fine journalistic mind.

But the other reason for Hitchens's piece may be that he has become a warmonger, and it is possible that he wants a US war against Iran. More on that below.
Ooh, the rapier wit, the cut and thrust of his argument. Surely the man deserves to be rewarded with a tenured position at Yale, no less.

Michael Young, at Hit and Run, reviews the state of the argument between the two men, points out Cole's puerile attempt to cheerlead anti-war chants about the evolving Iran crisis - One, two, three, four. We don't want your stinking war! - then reviews the normative behavior of candidates for tenured positions at Ivy League Universities.

Let's hope Mr. Cole continues to play by his own very special rules.

UPDATE I: Hugh Hewitt interviews Hitch, transcript and audio on Radio Blogger here.

Juan Cole responds to Hitchens here.

Whoops, I mean here.

And aren't we glad to note that Juan is continuing to play by his own special rules as he awaits the word from Yale. If Yale hires him after this round, well that concedes a lot about Yale, doesn't it.