Via Denny, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor… on a lute:
(No, he’s not a Flying Karamazov.)
American and Latin American Politics, Society, and Culture
Obama is full of talk about tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.
Tough, direct presidential diplomacy with an enemy, be it Iran or other, without preconditions is a huge mistake, for the simple reason that appeasement never works.
City Journal has an article on Spain’s ETA, the Basque terrorist Marxist-Leninist group founded in 1959 which continues to bring death. The article explains what happened when Zapatero sat down for his brand of “tough, direct presidential diplomacy without preconditions”:
Unfortunately, Prime Minister Zapatero’s decision in 2006 to negotiate with ETA without demanding that it first lay down its weapons proved a major miscalculation, threatening to reverse these gains. While ETA had entered into and broken temporary cease-fires with previous governments in 1989 and 1998, the Socialists had claimed, with much fanfare, to have brokered Spain’s first “permanent” cease-fire with the group. But the lull in terror lasted only eight months, shattering in December 2006 with ETA’s airport attack. Though ETA had phoned in a warning, as it often does, two Ecuadorans, sleeping in their car while waiting to pick up passengers, died in the blast. The Socialist government suspended talks and increased police and political pressure on ETA.
Terrorism experts now agree that ETA simply used the cease-fire to rebuild, recruit, and rearm.
Tough diplomacy can only work if preconditions have been met and an enemy faces even more severe consequences, not appeasement. Zapatero’s misstep is only one instance where appeasement didn’t work.
Via Memeorandum, Thomas Joscelyn reviews Andrew McCarthy’s book, Willful Blindness: Memoir of the Jihad. McCarthy was the prosecutor responsible for leading the investigation of Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and others involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Joscelyn’s review shows an overview of that case, but more importantly (emphasis added),
Had McCarthy stopped at telling the story of the many tactical failures that allowed Rahman’s terrorists to menace America in the early 1990s, Willful Blindness would have been an invaluable addition to the literature of 9/11. But he takes his argument a step further, showing how these tactical failures were merely symptoms of a larger strategic failure to comprehend the nature of our terrorist enemies. In the process, McCarthy has given us one of the most important books on jihadist terrorism.
The strategic failure McCarthy exposes is ongoing, and extends even to something as basic as naming the enemy. Just as Willful Blindness was released, the State Department and other agencies published an edict banning the use of the word “jihadist” (as well as similar terms) from the government’s lexicon. The thinking is that the terrorists like to call themselves “jihadists,” thereby appropriating an Islamic term which can have far more benevolent meanings, such as the struggle for spiritual betterment or simply to do good.
It is true that, in some Islamic traditions, “jihad” has been endowed with such inoffensive meanings. But as McCarthy rightly argues, “jihad” has far more frequently been used to connote violent campaigns against infidels since the earliest days of Islam. When Sheikh Rahman called on his followers to wage “jihad,” they knew that their master did not mean for them to become absorbed in prayer.
Moreover, Washington is apparently too obtuse to notice that Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda’s terrorists, Tehran’s mullahs, and Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi clerics have called for a militant brand of jihad persistently over the past several decades. All of these parties know how their words will be interpreted by the Muslim masses, and no fiat from the Washington bureaucracy will undo this widely accepted meaning.
Not only does Washington have a hard time properly naming our jihadist enemies, it still fails to understand that terrorist-sponsoring regimes have long backed them. Here, McCarthy has been at the forefront of explaining how jihadist terrorism is frequently, but not exclusively, a tool of hostile regimes: Writing in these pages in 1998 (“The Sudan Connection”), he explored the many ties between the 1993 plotters and the Sudanese regime then led by an Islamic radical named Hassan al-Turabi. Indeed, Turabi and Rahman were longtime friends and allies. McCarthy returns to this aspect of the story in Willful Blindness to show how Sudan’s U.N. delegation provided material support to Rahman’s terrorists as they plotted to blow up New York’s landmarks. (The Clinton administration even expelled two Sudanese delegates because of their involvement.)
Sudan’s sponsorship went far beyond Rahman’s goons. In the early 1990s Turabi forged a broad terrorist coalition that included Osama bin Laden’s core group of followers, all of al Qaeda’s affiliates, and a number of other organizations. Turabi envisioned bringing all of these parties together in one grand anti-American terrorist coalition. And he received the support of the two leading state sponsors of terrorism: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the mullahs’ Iran. Out of this witch’s brew of state and nonstate actors grew the network that we commonly call “al Qaeda.”
It is beyond my scope here to summarize all of the evidence that supports this thesis, but suffice it to say that McCarthy is exactly right when he asserts,
It is not difficult to find some current or former intelligence official ready and willing to opine that Sunnis [such as Rahman and bin Laden] would never cooperate with secularists or Shiites–overlooking abundant evidence of the Ba’athist Saddam Hussein coddling Sunni jihadists and a years-long history of collaboration between al Qaeda and Shiite Hezbollah.
McCarthy argues that, more than a decade after the Blind Sheikh was convicted of inspiring terrorism on American soil, America remains largely blind. Even the September 11 attacks did not fully awaken our nation, or its leaders, from their slumber. An implacable hate drives our enemies to never-ending violence. For them, we are the “other,” infidels who deserve to be slaughtered as victims of a religious jihad, and there are many who are willing to support their war on us.
Scott Johnson at Powerline points out that
In the Bush administration, the “willful blindness” takes the form of political correctness. This political correctness, however, is more than an intellectual failure. On the one hand, the administration has supported the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation and the naming of CAIR and the Islamic Society of North America as HLF’s unindicted co-conspirators supporting Hamas. On the other hand, the adminstration continues to treat CAIR and ISNA, for example, as respectable organizations and occasional partners.
On the Democratic side, the failure runs deeper. Listening to the Democratic debates over the past year, one could not help but be struck by the candidates’ understanding of the Bush administration as an enemy far more formidable than any we are facing beyond our borders. Next to the Bush administration, the threats posed by Iran, Syria and their terrorist proxies pale in comparison. Should the Iranian Revolutionary Guard be designated a terrorist group? According to Barack Obama, this is going too far: the Bush administration is merely engaged in “saber rattling.” He would prefer to rattle the tea cups with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.
Scott quotes from Bruce Thorton’s review,
This jihadist ideology motivated Abdel Rahman and the 9/11 jihadists, and continues to motivate Islamic terrorism today. But, then and now, this obvious traditional belief is ignored or rationalized away by those entrusted with our security: The secretary of state publicly croons that Islam is the “religion of peace and love,” and the State and Homeland Security departments instruct their employees not to use words like “jihad” or “mujahedeen” (holy warrior) in their communications. In contrast to this delusional thinking, McCarthy bluntly, and correctly, states the obvious: “Islam is a dangerous creed. It rejects core aspects of Western liberalism: self-determination, freedom of choice, freedom of conscience, equality under the law.” We refuse to face the truth about Islam, and thus we disarm ourselves before “a doctrine that rejects our way of life and a culture unwilling or unable to suppress the savage element it breeds wherever it takes hold.”
In yesterday’s podcast Dr. Andrew Bostom discussed his book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History where he examined a vast amount of Middle Eastern Islamic anti-Semitic literature that has endured through the ages, literature that goes ignored. From the Middle East through Europe, the US and Latin America, the Jihad continues.
We are blinding ourselves again and again to the reality of Jihad. When will we wake up?
Via Don Surber, Playing golf ‘adds five years to your life’: The Swedes say so,
But golf could have greater health benefits than walking and even more strenuous forms of exercise, according to research in Sweden which shows that playing the game adds an average of five years to your life.
The study’s authors, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, calculate that this adds an extra five years on to the average player’s lifespan.
How is that, pray tell?
“A round of golf means being outside for four or five hours, walking at a fast pace for six to seven kilometres, something which is good for the health,” he said.
What do you mean, walking?
Prof. Ahlbom continues,
Prof Ahlbom said that other factors outside the golf course, such as the fact that people who enjoy sport also generally lead a healthier lifestyle,
I’m all for drinks at the clubhouse and walking instead of taking the golf cart, but it’s not looking like my lifespan will extend for 5 more years, because
The lowest death rates were found among players with the lowest handicaps.
Alas, my handicao is in the low four figures. Tell Tiger Woods that for my funeral I want everyone to go for drinks and dinner at Triumph.
Tango, however, has significant health benefits:
According to a study conducted by the Society for Neuroscience, challenging leisure activities such as dancing not only keep the aging body in shape, they also help to sharpen the aging brain by requiring memorization of dance steps and sequences which boost brain power and improve memory skills.
The New England Journal of Medicine found that ballroom dancing at least twice a week made people less likely to develop dementia while some people with Alzheimer’s disease were able to recall forgotten memories when they danced to familiar music.
“Tango is a culture. It’s a kind of healing. It’s for people who have forgotten how to touch, how to look into each others eyes, how to respect a woman and how to respect it when a man leads. It’s a lifestyle basically,” she said, echoing the sentiments of others.
And there’s also the shoes…
My friends Sean and Atilla have the video:
Venezuela’s Petroleum Imports Surge. No, it’s not a typo. It’s imports they’re talking about (emphasis added):
Venezuela’s state petroleum company, Petroleos de Venezuela, increased petroleum imports by nearly 150% between the first quarter of 2007 and the same period this year, bank statistics show.
A report by the Venezuelan central bank this week demonstrated that petroleum imports reached $1.5 billion during the first quarter of 2008. The imports, which include diesel oil, gasoline and chemical additives for gasoline products, are the country’s highest in more than a decade.
Additionally, Venezuela’s lying about its total oil production:
Venezuela’s state oil company says it produced 3.15 million barrels per day last year. Analysts including the Paris-based International Energy Administration put Venezuela’s production at around 2.4 million.
Mr. Garcia said that while the petroleum sector reported growth of 3.3% in the first quarter, this figure is “not consistent with the number of active rigs.” PDVSA declared an emergency shortage of oil rigs last July, and the company’s year-end report showed they had just 111.
My friend Brian Faughnam of the Weekly Standard Blog:
Venezuela should be awash in wealth derived from the high price of oil, but Chavez’s government has been siphoning off oil profits rather than reinvesting them in production. Combine that with the seizure of assets from private companies and the confiscatory windfall profits tax on the private firms that remain, and suddenly Venezuela seems unable to make money off its vast oil resources. (More on the failures of state-owned oil companies here.)
This is more bad news for Hugo Chavez, who has seen Brazil check his ambitions in the region, and who has been embarrassed by the discovery of his ties to FARC (the death of whose leader is mourned by Chavez). At home his enemies are finally presenting a united front against him. It may be only a matter of time before Chavez has to decide whether to depart the scene gracefully, or to cling to power by force.
The US Congress should jump at this opportunity and aggressively enact laws allowing drilling at ANWR and offshore, the further development and use of coal, and the building of oil refineries and nuclear power plants. These measures would all cause the price of oil to drop immediately and in the long run. They would also substantially weaken the power of oil tyrants like Chavez and the Middle East dictators.
Will Congress do that?
Of course not.
Via Larwyn, Don Suber posts that
Newt Gingrich gets the petition rolling to get Congress to open up offshore drilling.
The group is American Solutions, a 527 started by Newt Gingrich. Sign the petition here
Let’s see if Congress will listen.
Never shy of stealing the show by cozying up to the tyrants, Nancy Pelosi, after her Hermes tour of Syria and giving Colombia the “Chavez rule”, now Nancy
Hails Iranian Goodwill in Iraq.
But let’s not question whose side she is on!
Pelosi is so hung up with trying to prove that the Iraqi government is failing because to acknowledge otherwise would be to hint that something has gone right in the past year with our new strategy in Iraq. And she can’t do that because she is politically invested in that strategy’s failure and her party’s efforts to pull the rug out from under those efforts. So her solution is to praise the “goodwill” of those who are behind a lot of the violence that we see in the entire Middle East. Her ignorance and partisan approach to reality is breathtaking.
A Turkish-born barber, living and working in Saudi Arabia, was recently convicted for the ‘crime’ of apostasy and has been sentenced to death. The man, Sabri Bogday, had a quarrel with a person from Egypt and a Saudi during which he seemingly cursed the name of God. This is of course unacceptable in Saudi Arabia and… as a result, the judges of that country have decided that Bogday deserves to die.
Read all of it.
Chat’s open by 10:45AM, and the call in number is 646 652-2639. Join us!
Please vote for my podcast at the Best of Blogs. Thank you!