Target Centermass

11/14/2006

Good Reads o’ the Day

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:56 pm

Tonight I just have a little link dump for y’all of the blogging and articles that caught my eye.

Ace: Time Magazine Deliberately Distorted Lebanon Reportage To Bash Israel [emphasis in original]

They didn’t just have the photographer’s word on this — they had the photographic proof! And yet they refused to run the picture at all!

And re-wrote the photo caption — the man-at-the-scene report by the photographer — to triply propagandize for Hezbollah and Lebanon, knowing their caption was 100% false.

If heads don’t roll over this, I don’t know what to say.

Go and read — it’s pretty damning. It’s bad enough that the supposed gatekeepers of information are so biased in what they report and how they report. I agree with Ace that it’s borderline criminal when they outright and intentionally lie to their readers.

Is Heroism ‘Unfit to Print’? [again, emphasis in original]

The nation’s highest honor for combat valor was awarded posthumously to a U.S. Marine from upstate New York on Friday – and The New York Times didn’t notice.

It was a shameful act of neglect, though not surprising in the least.

[…]

It was only the second MOH awarded in the Iraq war, and it was major news everywhere – especially in New York.

But . . . not a word in the Times.

[…]

The Times wasn’t talking yesterday, so let us hazard a guess.

Perhaps, to the Times, Jason Dunham was just another dead Marine – a victim, a statistic, another young life “wasted” in the battle for Iraq.

Or perhaps a heroic Marine doesn’t fit in with the paper’s notion of U.S. soldiers in Iraq?

Hat tip to Cold Fury‘s Sithmonkey, who chimes in with some very good thoughts on the matter. As I stated before, the info gatekeepers in the mainstream media have been absolutely despicable in their coverage of our military and its efforts. I’ll again quote Power Line‘s Paul Mirengoff, who blogged the following:

Have you ever read a history of war that focused almost entirely on casualty figures (with an occasional torture story and grieving parent thrown in), to the exclusion of any real discussion of tactics, operations, and actual battles? I haven’t. But that’s what our self-proclaimed “rough drafters” of history are serving up with respect to Iraq.

Little or no in-depth coverage of tactics, operations, and battles. Sadly, add heroes to Paul’s listing.

Watching the beginning of the end

Over the last year, I have left little hints to regular readers of something that has been bouncing around my head – the coming nuclear war in the Muslim world. I’m not the only one that has been thinking of it over the last year, Charles Krauthammer has as well. Before you go, “Yea, let them nuke it out…” remember that they have the balance of the world’s supply of energy.

With the NORKs making their little nuke go boom, as sure as the sun is a fusion reactor, know that at best the core of Shia Islam (Iran) is at best 2-5 years behind. The Sunni powers will not let this stand. I would hope that many of you understand the 30-years war and what that was all about. Now picture if the Catholic and Protestant powers had nukes. Well, they were progressive minded people compared to the Jim Jones like cult that is running Iran right now. Though they really want to go Persian Empire on everyone, the Iranian issues is more religious than political. That is where the danger lies. Politicians understand negotiation and compromise. They understand give and take. Religious fundamentalists don’t. They were binary before binary existed.

I won’t say that this is CDR Salamander‘s most rose-colored effort, but it certainly is worth your time. Some things possibly just over the horizon ain’t all that pretty. To ignore the tremblings of the volcano is a mistake made by too many in the past.

“Let the bloody wogs sort themselves out” [yet again, emphasis in original]

That might’ve been an unexceptional sentiment in the corridors of Whitehall a century ago, but it’s hardly the sentiment that has traditionally been that of the Democratic party. The times, I guess, are a’changin’.

The current Democratic party line is that they will push for troop reductions in Iraq “as a way of prodding along the paralyzed Iraqi government”. Considering that the Democrats have spent the last two years telling us that iraq was a total write-off anyway, that we never should’ve invaded in the first place, and our policy there was doomed from the start, forgive me if I harbor some reservations about the truth of that reasoning.

In point of fact, the Democratic Party’s leadership simply wants out of Iraq. That’s what they repeatedly told us every day prior to last Tuesday, so I presume that, rather than post-election pontifications, constitutes the Democrat’s real policy, and the reasons for implementing it.

Additionally, I wonder what will happen, and what the Democrats’ policy prescription will be if, in the wake of a pullout, the situation in Iraq goes completely down the toilet.

QandO‘s Dale Franks goes on to look at how another Democrat-supported early withdrawal — a combatus interruptus, if your will — played out a little over three decades ago. The Democrats have often tried to paint the Iraqi theater as another Viet Nam; now apparently may be their opportunity to turn it into such.

Abandoning Iraq [finally, emphasis added]

Regardless of its final composition, and regardless of other pressing issues or its mandate, the leading item of business for the new U.S. Congress will be Iraq.

It didn’t matter who won control of each house — the fix was already in. Look at the composition of the Baker-Hamilton commission, which the outgoing Congress had already appointed to “find a way out of Iraq” — a bipartisan commission, representing the foreign-policy opponents of President Bush in both the Republican and Democratic parties. Soon it will formally report.

James Baker, secretary of state under President Bush’s father, was the man who, in 1989, secured an American exit from Lebanon by effectively surrendering the country to Assad’s Syria. Lee Hamilton, former Democrat chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, joined him in stacking the Commission’s study groups with men and women representing the pre-9/11 foreign policy consensus, which could be summarized in the phrase, “stability through disengagement”. On the Baker-Hamilton plan, Congress will take the war in Iraq out of President Bush’s hands, as Congress took the Vietnam War out of President Nixon’s. Iraq will then be delivered into the hands of Iran’s ayatollahs.

But we can also expect Nancy Pelosi’s victorious Democrats in the new Congress to do everything in their power to recreate the Watergate environment, both for their own electoral prospects in 2008, and “to make an example of” the lame duck currently in the White House. The mainstream media will oblige them, with 24/7 coverage of whatever they allege.

In deposing the regime of Saddam Hussein — now sentenced to hang with the enthusiastic approval of the overwhelming majority of his countrymen, though Iraq itself is first sentenced to endure a ludicrous appeals process — the United States accomplished something well within her military means, in a few weeks of “shock and awe”.

But in trying to build a secular democracy over the ruin of Saddam’s regime, the Americans tried something they had not the stomach for. From the outset, they imposed upon themselves restrictions that would make that fight unwinnable. As in Vietnam, they adopted a purely defensive posture.

So far as President Bush can be blamed, it should be for showing insufficient ruthlessness in a task that could not be accomplished by half-measures. Alternatively, for failing to grasp that America was psychologically unprepared for real war, not only by the memory of Vietnam, but by the grim advance of “liberal” decadence in domestic life over the generation since.

To a degree, I agree with David Warren in this. I have often stated that our primary problem in Iraq since the invasion and overthrow has been that our success was too surgical in nature. Simply put, our enemies — and the Arab world as a whole — were not bloodily shown a great military might and strength of will but merely a technological and tactical wonder. Tactics can be countered and technology can be blunted, given time (and especially given the friendly propaganda machine our enemies have found in “our” media). To prevent this, the tactical and technological edge must be employed ruthlessly to achieve lasting effect. It was Alfred Thayer Mahan that put forth the following:

War, once declared, must be waged offensively, aggressively. The enemy must not be fended off, but smitten down.

Failure to do so allows the enemy to shift toward a war of attrition and will. In this case, Mr. Warren may be correct and I may have been tragically wrong — after the wake-up of 9/11 to the growing danger of our radical expansionist Islamist foes, I expected a little more of an iron nature from the American public. I did not anticipate the actual hostility of the media (see this great piece [part 1 and part 2] by Greyhawk at the Mudville Gazette for an example of some of the media’s venomous passion), nor did I expect so many would work to separate our efforts in Iraq from our efforts against the Islamists while at the same time ignoring the shifting of focus of our Islamist enemies to Iraq. If Warren is indeed correct, I pity the civilization — or lack thereof — that we in the West may be leaving our progeny.

Okay, maybe I should’ve cut out that last link for a post of it’s own. Hat tip to Wretchard at the Belmont Club, an unsurprising source for something so provacative.

11/13/2006

Al-Qaida Escapee Caught in Afghanistan

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:12 pm

When I blogged the original escape of four high-value detainees in Afghanistan, I stated a hope to follow up on the story. Well, two of the four are now accounted for with the recent arrest of one of the fugitives.

US forces in Afghanistan have captured an Al-Qaida operative who escaped from the main US military prison in the country last year, a Pakistani newspaper reported on Monday.

The man, identified as Abu Nasir al-Qahtani, was captured recently in the southeastern Afghan province of Khost, the News newspaper said, citing Taliban supporters in the Pakistani border region of North Waziristan.

The US military said on Nov. 6 a “known Al-Qaida operative and five other extremists” had been captured during an operation near Khost town early that day.

It did not identify any of those captured. A US military spokesman on Monday referred queries to the US Department of Defence.

Al-Qahtani has been referred to in some news reports as Mohammad Jafar Jamal al-Kahtani.

Four Arab Al-Qaida militants escaped from the heavily fortified US detention centre at Bagram air base, the US military’s main base in Afghanistan on July 11 last year.

At the time, the US military declined to identify them but described them as “dangerous enemy combatants”.

Well, of the four Bagram escapees, we now have one in custody in Afghanistan and one who began taking the long dirt nap in Iraq. That’s progress.

10/26/2006

More about CNN’s Terrorist Sniper Video

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:35 pm

I called CNN’s willingness to show a propaganda snuff film, filled with the deeds of our enemies on the ground and co-starring our brave troops as victims, “simply disgusting” and a “new but unsurprising low” as I reached the following conclusion:

Okay, it is clear that “our” media is not on our side in our current engagements, whether it be through their willingness to present enemy propaganda unquestioned or their refusal to present stories of our progress.

As it turns out, I may have given CNN too much credit. At question now is not their willingness to be a conduit for the propaganda efforts of our enemies, but rather their actual efforts and desire to do so. Apparently, CNN was the initiator of this contact that resulted in the hideous broadcasting, all in the name of giving a fair shake to our enemies [hat tip to LGF].

According to CNN, the video was provided after a producer for CNN sent the group an email asking about its activities.

“I think the American public would be interested in exactly what the email contained, at least from the CNN side of things,” says a producer for a rival news network, who was made aware of the video’s existence before it aired. “My understanding is that email sent by CNN could not be construed any other way than as supportive of the Islamic militants’ position in Iraq. There are people inside CNN who are disgusted by their colleagues’ activities in Iraq and here in the United States in covering the war.”

Attempts to get a copy of the email were unsuccessful. But one CNN source familiar with the techniques employed by network producers to get the Islamic extremist perspective says that it’s common for producers to use Iraqi or Muslim contract employees to get information and access to the terrorists, and they do so by claiming sympathy or support for what the terrorists are doing.

“Anti-Americanism pays off for us over there, no doubt about it,” says the CNN employee. “Questions were raised about this video and the way we got it. Once it was confirmed that it was real, the next question was how did we get it. And the answer was, we promised to give the terrorists a fair shake. I know that we are saying there was soul-searching here about running the tape. But I didn’t see much of that. There were somber people here, but there was also a segment of people on staff, once the tape had run and created a firestorm, that celebrated. They thought they were so courageous.”

I thought their broadcast was simply disgusting?!! I’m at an effin’ loss for words now. Imagine Edward R. Murrow seeking out and conveying Nazi propaganda during the London Blitz. Imagine a western media source signing on for an enemy ride-along program in a Panzer. If that last example sounds ridiculous, please understand that the BBC now has a reporter venturing forth with the Taliban … while British troops are engaged in bloody conflict with same Taliban.

“Our” media — when slanting the news just isn’t working fast enough, they’re willing to hunt down our enemies and force good publicity upon them. Alternative slogan: “Our” media — speaking “truth” to power that actually protects their ability to speak on behalf of the terrorist bastards who would behead them were these so-called journalists not such useful tools.

10/3/2006

On Frist, Afghanistan and Hedged Defeatism

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:59 am

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist either leapt into the defeatist camp or was slightly misquoted when discussing our prospects in Afghanistan. Either way, I’m already quite fed up ith Frist for the night (see here).

The Jawa Report‘s Dr. Rusty opines on the matter, and I can’t say that there’s much I disagree with in his words and I recommend that the reader peruse them all. In fact, I have previously stated many of his thoughts already, chief among these being that a large portion of our current problems in Iraq and Afghanistan stem from the fact that we never mercilessly made it clear to our enemies that they were beaten — at least not in a language that they would understand.

My one withholding of agreement comes from the following from the good Dr. Rusty:

If democracy in the Middle East is a grand experiment, then the null hypothesis has been disproven. No, the majority of Muslim nations are not yet ready for democracy. Give them another hundred years and we’ll run this experiment again.

It was and still remains a noble experiment, one that may indeed save countless thousands — realistically even millions or billions — of lives, so I’m not as quick to jump ship on the idea. The Bush administration spoke of a period of many years, possibly decades, and the American people were on board; then the period of political sniping and media undermining, coupled with an MTv-type attention span by the American public, undercut the viability of a long-war effort. Unfortunately, the Long War remains to be fought and none of those who have hampered our efforts have provided legitimate alternatives.

I have yet to give up hope on the possible seedings of democracy in our current theaters of operations. Still, I am willing to acknowledge the two alternatives that always stood off-stage ready to enter on cue: surrender, retreat and eventually sacrifice our hopes for our grandchildren’s world , or brutally move forward in a barbaric way that the U.N. and our overly-sensitive Euro “allies” will hate but has historically proven to be the language understood by enemies. The latter is especially valid when we are talking about a culture that seems often to only understand violence. Should our current efforts — grandiose, hopeful for the human spirit and self-limiting in their violent nature — fail upon the rocks of a reality presented us by our enemies and those who refuse to stand against them, then I will return to my initial reaction after 9/11. I will again want blood, and I mean blood in mass quantities. This time around, though, that want will stem from a calmer notion than revenge; instead it will stem from a rational approach toward the only remaining means for the survivability of Western civilization as we know and love it.

I just haven’t thrown in the towel on the nice approach yet. After that, should it truly fail, then cry havoc and unleash all that phrase bloodily entails.

There should be nothing agreeable about warfare. God forbid that I should recommend brutality, but we face facts like men. It is not a trade for a philosopher.

—Prince de Linge, of Austria

9/27/2006

Nato ‘Must Speed up Reaction’ to Taliban

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:31 pm

The British defense minister, deservedly peeved at the lack of timely support coming from the bulk of the non-English-speaking NATO members while his countrymen fight, criticized the alliance today for its inability to rapidly respond in the Afghan theater.

Nato takes too long to build forces for its missions and needs to be able to respond more rapidly to requests for troops, Des Browne, the UK’s defence minister, said on Wednesday.

Speaking the day before a meeting of defence ministers of the 26-member alliance in Slovenia that is set to discuss a military request for more Nato troops in Afghanistan, Mr Browne said Nato faced a short-term test in getting “boots on the ground or the equipment in to support them” in Afghanistan.

He said Nato was rising to the challenge in Afghanistan, where it has more than 20,000 troops in place, but has struggled to find extra forces to meet unexpectedly fierce resistance from the Taliban militia. But he said there were lessons to be learnt from the deployment and he would tell the other ministers that Nato needed to modernise the way it generated its forces.

“It needs to look at its structures and its bureaucracy so that it can generate force in a way that responds in real time to the needs. I think it’s becoming apparent in Afghanistan that the process of discussion is more complex than it needs to be,” he said in a telephone interview from Manchester where he was attending the Labour party’s annual conference.

UK officials said each country needed to look at its own operations but said too many Nato troops were still tied up in headquarters operations, for example.

Mr Browne said Nato’s operations in southern Afghanistan, both those led by the Canadians in Kandahar and the British in Helmand, had been successful, but work was needed in reconstruction to improve the way the country was governed and to build economic opportunities.

Mr Browne said Nato needed to build a more comprehensive approach to its missions, bringing civilian agencies more closely into its operations. Officials said this would require closer co-operation with other bodies such as the United Nations and the World Bank.

Frankly, NATO needs a great many improvements that take precedence over any notion of closer cooperation with the UN. After all, we’re talking about an alliance that suffers delays while just creating a rapid reaction force.

9/26/2006

British Troops Kill al Qaeda Fugitive

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:12 am

The bastard escaped captivity in Afghanistan only to reach his own death in Iraq.

British forces killed a top terrorist leader yesterday, an al Qaeda leader who escaped from a US prison in Afghanistan and returned to Iraq.

Omar al Faruq was killed in a predawn raid on his home in Basra by 250 troops from the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. He was killed after he opened fire on British soldiers entering his home, said Major Charlie Burbridge, a British forces spokesman.

The Ministry of Defence said al Faruq was closely linked to terrorist activity such as murders and kidnappings.

“We had information that a terrorist of considerable significance was hiding in Basra. As a result of that information we conducted an operation in an attempt to arrest him,” Burbridge said.

“During the attempted arrest Omar Faruq was killed, which is regrettable because we wanted to arrest him.”

He said he could not comment on whether Faruq was the leader of al Qaeda’s southeast Asia operations.

However, a Basra police officer said it was the same man, adding al Faruq was an expert bomb-maker.

The officer said al Faruq was living in Basra under the name Mahmoud Ahmed and had entered Iraq three months ago.

Neighbours said al Faruq was a member of al Qaeda and had received training in camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Al Faruq was one of four al Qaeda suspects who broke out of the prison in Bagram, the main US base in Afghanistan, in July 2005. The escape was an embarrassment for the US military, and the Pentagon waited until November to confirm it.

Al Faruq and three other escapees later appeared in a video sent to the Dubai-based television station Al Arabiya and boasted of their feat.

The story rang familiar and piqued my curiousity and, yes, I had blogged the original news of the escape. At the time, I stated that I hoped to be able to follow up on this story. Well, here I am and here, more than fourteen months later, is the follow-up: scratch one bad guy.

It does appear that al Faruq, a.k.a. Mahmood Ahmad from Kuwait, was a bigger dog in the fight than we realized at the time. That, or he was just a rapid promotee in opening-rich environment that we have bloodily provided the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oh yeah, despite some that insist that the conflict in Iraq is still a separate fight than the war against Islamist terror in the Afghan theater, this little story of an enemy’s commute to a new office should end such an argument … but sadly it won’t.

9/14/2006

An Amphibian, a Dictionary and an Alliance

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:48 pm

CDR Salamander takes a look at the current situation of NATO’s involvement in Afghanistan and struggles to find the right word.

Culminate is a strong word in this line of work.

[…]

In military terms, it can often be seen as a high-water mark. A point where a force has lost its ability to advance.

My concern is that Salamander may have the right word but the wrong verb tense. I’ve repeatedly expressed my concerns about the value of NATO in the post-Cold War era [see here and here for examples]. I even briefly held out a resurrection of personal optimism for the alliance after a commitment to the Afghan theater, but CDR Salamander points out that my hope for a better distribution of burden among our allies was misplaced.

Notice what troops are where. Notice where the fighting is (RC South, and RC East). Have we reached the point that only English speakers will die for NATO? Is that a fair alliance? Is this what you get for keeping (most of) them safe from Communism? At least Poland will try to step in some, after the fact. Maybe. They have a history of helping.

He provides more information, including some sweet military history links, before concluding the following:

This is gut check time NATO, and from what I see, you have a yellow stain running down your pants.

This is not too far from something I wrote not too long ago:

I’d say it’s not very complimentary to brag that NATO, an alliance based upon mutual defense, can heartily be relied upon for humanitarian disasters but is rather pick-and-choose on military assistance, always quite willing to find a reason to avoid exposure to potential danger. That is not a strong foundation for mutual defense. NATO really must be re-envisioned or cast away as a Cold War relic.

Culminates or culminated?

9/7/2006

Links o’ the Day

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:14 pm

Link dumps — the I’m-watching-football-tonight way of blogging.

Dean Esmay: Helping Us Through A Crisis
Help this fine member of my blogroll out if you can.

Iraq takes control of armed forces

British and United States troops yesterday handed over control of Iraq’s armed forces to its own government – a move described by US officials as a crucial step, but which still leaves most of the country’s security under direct coalition control.

[…]

The US-led multinational forces in Iraq, commanded by General George Casey, have been giving orders to the new Iraqi armed forces via a joint chain of command. But now the chain of command flows directly from the Iraqi prime minister in his role as commander-in-chief.

The Iraqi army is made up of ten divisions, now numbering about 130,000 troops, and the Iraqis are expected to take over more divisions from the coalition in the coming months, although there is no exact timetable.

Maj-Gen William Caldwell, a US military spokesman, has indicated that the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, will make the final decision on how quickly his military assumes control over new divisions.

“They can move as rapidly … as they want. I know, conceptually, they’ve talked about perhaps two divisions a month,” he said.

Mr Maliki described the move as a great step forward. “The Iraqi army now, by the courage of its people and its sons in the Iraqi army, rebuilds itself again,” he said.

In a word, significant.

U.S. Air Force officer goes missing in Kyrgyz capital

A U.S. Air Force officer stationed at the air base near Bishkek disappeared while shopping in the Kyrgyz capital, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

Maj. Jill Metzger, of the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, was separated from a group of servicemen while visiting a department store on Tuesday afternoon and has not been seen since, officials at the Manas air base said in a statement.

It said a group of 22 U.S. military investigators and logistics officers were searching for Metzger together with the U.S. Embassy and Kyrgyz security and law enforcement services.

Op-For‘s John has more on the story, including an interesting cultural aspect of the country that could play an ominous, though I feel highly unlikely, role.

Iraq Hawks: Getting “Outside the Narrative”

Now that we’ve established the worldview and analytical tendencies of the “dead-end Iraq War supporter,” also known as “me,” an honest reassessment of the war requires stepping outside of comfortable narratives while avoiding seductive replacements. Without diminishing the value of the struts that support my established point of view – distrust of the media, patience, a belief in the subtlety of deep trends that come to dominate large historical changes, etc – the challenge is to establish an emotionless, rational framework for analysis; a framework that goes deeper than both the BIG philosophy and the splintered, conflicting snippets of war’s progress.

Give it a read to see where he’s coming from and exactly where he hopes to reach. INDC Bill has just set himself to large task, and the road could be interesting to follow.

Three Indicted for Sending U.S. Secrets, Equipment to Yemen

Three naturalized U.S. citizens were indicted by a federal grand jury in California for allegedly acquiring secret U.S. defense information and stolen military equipment and conspiring to send them to Yemen.

The four-count indictment for conspiracy to possess and transmit defense information, attempted unlawful export of defense articles and related charges was handed up Aug. 31 and unsealed today, U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott said.

The men face five to 10 years in prison and fines of $250,000 to $1 million on each count.

“We will use all appropriate legal means at our disposal to detect, disrupt, and hold accountable those who seek to do us harm, whether they act within or outside our borders,” Scott said in a statement.

Ahmen Ahmed Ali, 56, of Bakersfield, California, allegedly received secret defense documents from a government undercover agent and transmitted them to Yemen by fax or courier between June 2005 and August 2006, according to the indictment.

He allegedly conspired with Mohamed Al-Rahimi, 62, of Bakersfield, to receive stolen government property, and with Ibrahim A. Omer, of Fort Worth, Texas, to ship military items such as body armor and chemical protective suits to Yemen.

Though the names might hint at something, as would the ties to Yemen, don’t think for a second that any particular religion will be mentioned in the story.

After 5 Years, OBL Releases New Video with 9-11 Killers

Maybe This Will Stop the 9-11 Conspiracy Theorists!…
How many time does OBL have to take credit for these murderous attacks on innocent Americans before people get it?

Gateway Pundit, though a fine blogger, obviously doesn’t understand conspiracy theorists. They only need a target; the route to that destination can be ever changing. Now it can be claimed that Osama was but a pawn. He was made better, stronger, faster by that evil and far-reaching New World Order comprised of Bush (either, any if one includes Jeb), Cheney, Halliburton, the famed military-industrial complex (the violent video game and car magnet industries included), and Pizza Hut. Hey, scoff if you will at that last one, but I’ll wager a lot of pizzas were ordered as America was generally glued to its TV sets in the days following 9/11. I don’t know, maybe it was Domino’s. Pizza Hut sucks too much to attain the level of evil required.

Chafee Delays Vote on Bolton Nomination

Sen. Lincoln Chafee has pulled the plug on a push by his fellow Republicans to confirm John Bolton as U.N. ambassador, saying he had more questions that needed to be answered.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was expected to vote along party lines during a committee meeting Thursday to approve Bolton. But the panel postponed the vote after Chafee, R-R.I., expressed doubt.

“Sen. Chafee said he still had questions that were not answered,” said the senator’s spokesman, Stephen Hourahan.

Boo! Hiss! C’mon, confirm the man already. Despite earlier concerns, Bolton has represented U.S. interests well so far at the worthlessness that is the United Nations and has not yet, as previously feared, threatened other diplomats for their lunch money or gone on a well-deserved wedgie-spree. The man’s restraint has been remarkable.

‘Goat-free roads made me speed’

A Swiss man caught speeding on a Canadian highway has blamed his actions on the absence of goats on the roads.

The man was caught driving at 161 km/h (100mph) in a 100 km/h (60mph) zone.

A traffic officer’s notes said the Swiss driver had said he was taking advantage “of the ability to go faster without risking hitting a goat”.

Canadian police spokesman Joel Doiron said he had never found a goat on the highways of eastern Ontario in his 20 years of service.

“Nobody’s ever used the lack of goats here as an excuse for speeding,” Mr Doiron told the AFP news agency.

“I’ve never been to Switzerland, but I guess there must be a lot of goats there,” he said.

Headline of the freakin’ day. That’s all I’ve got to say about that.

9/5/2006

Pakistan Peace Deal: Back to Square One!

Filed under: — Gunner @ 11:46 pm

Our efforts in against the Taliban and al Queda in the Afghan-Pakistani region just took a tremendous step backwards.

History repeats itself but in Pakistan’s case, it perhaps repeats itself rather too often. And so the government and militants in the volatile North Waziristan tribal region have signed a peace agreement and quite understandably, Governor Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai, the chief architect of the accord, has hailed it as an unprecedented event.

Unprecedented it is. Like a pendulum, the government policy has swung from one extreme to another, from the use of brute military force to what appears to be total capitulation to militants. Never did the government try to intelligently combine the use of force with pursuit of dialogue.

Jirga parleys were conducted in extreme secrecy with Governor Aurakzai emerging as the focal person and President Musharraf’s pointsman on the government’s policy on Fata.

This was good in that instead of operating multiple channels to negotiate with militants which often complicated matters, the government was speaking with one voice.

So, if there is one man who can claim credit for the agreement, it should be Governor Aurakzai who single-mindedly cobbled the deal together; of course with the help of JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

It was Mr Aurakzai, who as the Peshawar Corps Commander had led the Pakistan Army into the tribal region in 2001. And being a native of the tribal region that straddle the Pakistan-Afghan border, the onus was again on him to pull the army out of what has proven to be a quagmire.

Just to recap. Before signing the agreement, the government virtually agreed to meet all the demands of the militants. Captured militants were freed, their weapons were returned, all privileges were restored, 12 checkposts were abandoned and troops stationed there have been relocated to forts.

Unlike the past agreements however, there are some new elements in the peace deal signed in Miramshah on Tuesday.

The government has also undertaken not to launch any ground and air operation and to resolve the issue in accordance with local riwaj or customs.

Foreign militants could either leave the tribal region or live there peacefully and abide by the law of the land. This is a major concession, considering the fact that the government had been insisting all along that all foreign militants must get themselves registered.

Significantly however, barely an hour after the peace agreement had been signed, a spokesman for the militants insisted that there were no foreign militants in North Waziristan and that despite what the government had been saying it had not been able to produce any evidence of their presence in the tribal region.

He also denied that militants were crossing over into Afghanistan to carry out attacks on Afghan and coalition forces.

The denial is reminiscent of refusal by militants in the neighbouring South Waziristan Agency to admit to the presence of foreign militants there — an issue that led to the collapse of the famous Shakai agreement in 2004.

On the face of it, the agreement does look good but as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. What is important is not the three-page document itself but whether the two sides would be able to implement it.

Will the foreigners leave? Unlikely. But why would they be here?

They have nowhere to go. Their countries do not accept them and worse, they will be prosecuted there. Will foreign and local militants stop their ‘Jihad’? Not likely.

Not likely indeed. In fact, with the recent bleeding of Taliban elements by NATO forces in Afghanistan, I would actually expect an influx of radical elements into Waziristan after another brutal failure of a Taliban spring offensive is greeted with the news of a safer-than-expected haven just across the line on the map.

Although this is potentially a move that will extend instability in the Afghan theater, I understand the need of the Pakistani government, living on a volatile razor’s edge, to make occasional moves to mollify a fairly radical and militant populace while maintaining a degree of friendship with the U.S. and the West. I have long held, dating back to much contemplation following 9/11, that the stability of Pakistan’s government held the key in avoiding a global hot war, as its downfall replaced by radicals would almost certainly draw in India and create a domino effect of bloodshed.

Even with that understanding and that need for Pakistani stability, I think this is the wrong move at the wrong time and will almost certainly cost American and NATO lives in the long term.

8/31/2006

Blood Borders: How a Better Middle East Would Look

Filed under: — Gunner @ 12:34 am

Well, at least it’s safe to say that putting the latest musings from Ralph Peters into practice would certainly make the recent Texas congressional redistricting brouhaha look like a fun-filled day at the state fair, complete with funnel cakes and corndogs for all.

International borders are never completely just. But the degree of injustice they inflict upon those whom frontiers force together or separate makes an enormous difference — often the difference between freedom and oppression, tolerance and atrocity, the rule of law and terrorism, or even peace and war.

The most arbitrary and distorted borders in the world are in Africa and the Middle East. Drawn by self-interested Europeans (who have had sufficient trouble defining their own frontiers), Africa’s borders continue to provoke the deaths of millions of local inhabitants. But the unjust borders in the Middle East — to borrow from Churchill — generate more trouble than can be consumed locally [my note: great freakin’ line].

While the Middle East has far more problems than dysfunctional borders alone — from cultural stagnation through scandalous inequality to deadly religious extremism — the greatest taboo in striving to understand the region’s comprehensive failure isn’t Islam but the awful-but-sacrosanct international boundaries worshipped by our own diplomats.

As I’ve repeatedly stated, I have long found the efforts of Mr. Peters to be worth highlighting, either for their thoughtful nature, actual value or intriguing look at possible futures. With the above intro, Mr. Peters launches into a bold area — a one-man redrawing of the national borders currently found in the cauldron that is the Middle East. Indeed, he even creates some new countries, though not with the arbitrary capriciousness that led to many of the current borders. Here are his before and after maps, though I do highly recommend reading the article for a wealth of reasoning and history.

Is the plan realistically feasible? Quite possibly yes, with the hopes of a very positive global effect. Is the actual implementation of the plan realistically feasible? Probably not without a vast degree of bloodshed — and maybe even radiation — in the region, which would probably require an entirely new drawing of the map based on surviving populations.

Hat tip to CDR Salamander, who rightly calls out Mr. Peters for cheesing out on the following tidbit:

But the issue of the territories surrounding Jerusalem, a city stained with thousands of years of blood, may prove intractable beyond our lifetimes. Where all parties have turned their god into a real-estate tycoon, literal turf battles have a tenacity unrivaled by mere greed for oil wealth or ethnic squabbles. So let us set aside this single overstudied issue and turn to those that are studiously ignored.

I’m going to have to side with Salamander here, as it is quite the cop-out when included in such a broad vision. After all, the West Bank and the Palestinians have historically been a wee bit of an issue, somewhat of a speedbump on the roadmap to peace. Tom Clancy had an idea: let the supposedly-neutral Swiss Guards handle the multi-religion holy ground juncture that is Jerusalem. I have another idea: let’s go really neutral. The Swiss Guards can monitor the transit points into and out of Jerusalem, a truly neutral party — like say a committee of Bhuddist monks — can administer the city, and the Brothers Earp and Doc Holliday can keep the Jerusalem clean of weapons.

Hey, I’m just brainstorming.

Powered by WordPress