July 29, 2005

In-House News

Sincere apologies to any B.D. regulars out there (those of you who don't just land here after an Insta or Sully or RCP link etc. etc.). I've always strived to keep this site 'fresh', not least because the blog medium seems to demand a certain frequency and topicality of posting. This has often meant rather hurried (and tired...) post 10-11PM blogging-- but even that has simply proven impossible of late. I'm still alive and kicking--and I'm keeping a (somewhat listless, truth be told!) eye on the blogosphere when I can--while nevertheless hoping to get back in the saddle in relatively short order. Still, even writing this short note is barely possible given timing constraints--so don't expect some magnum opus in these pages soon. So, message is: sorry I've been AWOL, yes I'll be back, perhaps as soon as this weekend with any luck.

P.S. I've been getting a good deal of 'write about this when you get back' kinda E-mail. Drop a comment below for topics you think I should broach when I get back online (or just view it as an, er, civil thread...). And thanks again for your patience as B.D. has been forced into this somewhat protracted week to two week hiatus.

Posted by Gregory at July 29, 2005 12:46 AM | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I'd be interested in a thoughtful piece (and commentary) on the future of Russia and appropriate American policy toward Moscow. I should think anyone with a last name like Djerejian would have some thoughtful comments on the Russian threat. If you can work in a picture of Maria Sharapova, so much the better.

Posted by: POTUS B at July 30, 2005 03:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The IRA decision to disarm is worthy of some comment.

Interesting that the decision follows upon the heels of the London attack (I gather Adams and McGuinness mumbled some conciliatory words following that outrage). I also think two other events in Northern Ireland have helped to hasten this IRA decision.

Following the revelation that the bank heist in Belfast was the work of IRA operatives, Sinn Fein was subjected to a barrage of high profile criticism. Gerry Adams discovered he was no longer welcome in the White House and even that aged roue, Ted Kennedy, wasn't available for the customary boys-in-green Easter hug. Worse still ... the wronged McCartney sisters were given the red carpet treatment by G.W., even as Gerry was told to get his act together ... or else.

The other incentive to disarm is the gradual decline of the IRA itself. Adams and McGuinness can hardly fail to have noticed that the romantic freedom fighters of legend, were fast becoming common hoods and villains. Not exactly the type of image that gets punters in Boston bars opening up their wallets. This drift into banditry was demonstrated most recently by the bank heist, and also by the despicable murder of one Robert McCartney, a Sinn Fein supporter who got into an argument with an IRA boss in a pub located in the Short Strand area of Belfast. McCartney was beaten with plumbing rods and his head kicked into an eyeless pulp, before someone cut his jugular.

These incidents all brought external pressure to bear. What has to be of some concern is that the IRA has until now exhibited great reluctance to disarm without these types of external pressures. Given that this decision seems more tactical than a product of a genuine change of heart and mind, one has to wonder if this is yet another artful piece of political theatre - long on publicity but short on substance. Remains to be seen.

Posted by: scowler at July 30, 2005 03:29 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So, message is: sorry I've been AWOL, yes I'll be back, perhaps as soon as this weekend with any luck.

in 30 years, you'll swear you were here blogging the entire time... maybe not blogging about anything important, but making sure that you fulfilled your blogging requirments nonetheless :)

Posted by: p.lukasiak at July 30, 2005 01:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Lotsa stuff to choose from; pro-democracy and anti-terror demostrations in the ME, Bill Frist's defection, the above-mentioned disarming of the IRA, the effect of the Bombings on British public opinion as well as Tony Blair's popularity....
The list goes on.

I also have missed the very thought-provoking and well informed comments here from both sides of each issue.

Best Regards

Posted by: Chuck Betz at July 30, 2005 04:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I am nowhere near as principled as BD regarding torture of terrorists to extract information. Your enemy _will_ be able to drag you down to their level, imo.
Having said that, I am intellectually curious to learn about the treatment of accused terrorist bombers in England. Have they been given lawyers? Were they coerced or treated harshly in any way? What has it been like on the streets of London, in the Tube stations? Are there details on the police raids? How does the force level of the police action compare to heavily criticized American counterparts?

Posted by: Jim, Mtn View, CA at July 30, 2005 05:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

dang! my comments always seem to fall into the void.
second try: not in any snarky way, I'm curious to learn about the force levels of the police response to terror in London.
many Brits have expressed reservations about US treatment of terrorist suspects. have police acted with restraint on the streets? do the terror bombers have lawyers? have they been coerced to provide information? I haven't seen much in our press on this subject.

Posted by: Jim, mtn view, ca at July 30, 2005 05:32 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'll bet your hits went up instead of down in the last week -- I've stopped by repeatedly looking for new material. I'm sure many other "regulars" have done the same.

Here is my wish list for future topics:

1) The UN and its discontents. Oil for Food in comparison to Enron, etc. (My impression is the Brinks job compared to petty shoplifting.) Biden trashing John Bolton for the Moveon crowds support if Hillary collapses. Trump's recent offer to take over the reconstruction project for free (and his suggestion to move the headquarters to the WTC site,) etc.

2) Cuba after Castro - and how to get there.

3) Why NAFTA has not engendered any fundemental reforms in Mexico, and how that effects future free-trade/globalization issues.

4) More Gitmo "atrocity" navel gazing -- NOT!!!

Posted by: wayne at July 30, 2005 05:39 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Jim

Well, apart from killing an innocent Brazilian in somewhat dubious circumstances, the police and security services seem to have had their act together. The West Midlands police were criticised by Sir Ian Blair for tasering the first bomber to be captured in Birmingham, but that's an understandably defensive posture in the light of the Met's Stockwell disaster. It's also quite possible that the Birmingham capture then led to the other suspects.

There has been a massive ratcheting up of police visibility in London though, and it is now routine to see armed police on the plot. Whether they can keep this visibility level up for a sustained period of time is questionable, as the resource base must be getting stretched - if we have another attack in the next few weeks then, I'm afraid, the army will be deployed on the streets. I'm pretty sure that over the longer term the Met will seek to license more than 10% of the force to carry firearms.

There is a different feel on the streets of London at present and people are changing their patterns to some extent - bike sales are up, couples with kids are using their cars more, there is a jittery suspicion in the air and there is a little more edge to travelling on public transport. If there are no further attacks "normality" will return in short order though.

As regards the "treatment" of suspects - well, given that they are going to be charged with criminal offences and then put on trial in open court, they are being treated in line with standard British criminal justice procedures. They will most certainly not be tortured, coerced or abused - we learnt that it didn't work when confronting the IRA back in the 1970's; their legal rights will be protected; and the whole process will be transparent.

The details will now take a long time to appear, as the UK press will be governed by sub-judice principles.

The ubiquity of camera and video-phones has made the containment of information more or less impossible. UK broadcasters are respecting police wishes that they don't broadcast the sharp end of police operations, but once the "action" is over, extraordinary images are coming to light. In the Stockwell shooting, witnesses to the event were being interviewed on TV before they had even given statements to the police.

Posted by: dan at July 30, 2005 07:54 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg –

You have no “blogging requirements”; we’re glad to get your thoughts and insights for free whenever they’re available. We did miss you, but the short Roberts post with open comments kept the group entertained for a while. It was a move as expertly executed as the Roberts nomination itself!

In addition to the topics above, I’d add more on UNSCAM, as Kofi’s statements don’t seem to be holding up and it looks like Volker is getting ready to issue a couple of unplanned reports that could undermine Kofi’s claim of exoneration.

Europe has some elections coming up and the tide of anti-Americanism may be taking a major downturn.

The CAFTA vote and what it means for the broader free-trade agenda would also be good.

Lots of good topics to pick from…

Posted by: kevin at July 30, 2005 08:52 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Greg,

I think the work of the British police and intelligence as well as those of the cooperative countries has been nothing short of amazing. At this writing, apparently all four of the second set of bombers is in custody as well as their director. This is very encouraging and warrants some discussion.

Michael

Posted by: Michael Pecherer at July 31, 2005 03:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Yes agreed, the British police have acted quickly and effectively in the case of these particular suspects, however there is a limit to the efficencies of even the best security apparatus when government policy has been instrumental in spawning the terror culture the police are engaged in tracking.

When you bring millions of muslim immigrants into the country and permit them to live in insulated communities, often at odds with the larger society, you are inviting disaster. When you permit fanatical Wahhabist demagogues free rein and stand by while your streets are taken over by hordes of demonstrators who make their devotion to Al Qaeda loud and clear, you are taking freedom speech provisions into the realm of absurdity. There is after all a war going on. In the WW2 era, British born Oswald Mosley had less freedom to promote his fascist views than today's muslim extremists, who can burn the Union Jack in Hyde Park and raise the banner Al Qaeda with apparent impunity.

The problem however is a lot more extensive than small groups of extremists. The muslim community in the west as a whole needs to be put under closer scrutiny.

I find it rather rich that Muslims spokespersons, who have been curiously mute about condemning extremism in their midst, suddenly start decrying the bastardization of their religion by "fanatics" after the outrages in London.

Let's back up a little. Prior to 9/11 mosques throughout western Europe and America had plenty of extremists turning up for prayer. Did any imam or concerned worshipper at that time come forward to either the media or the authorities to say - "um, I think we might have a little problem in our midst". If one or two did, please give me their names.

Let's take a hypothetical scenario in which Christian churches on these continents become infested with neo-Nazi, Aryan type extremists with a radical interpretation of the scripture. They believe they must begin a crusade worldwide and start blowing up innocents like there is no tomorrow. Would ministers and concerned Christians step forward and blow the whistle? You bet they would. In droves.

How can Muslims in the west pretend they are committed to democracy and an egalitarian society, when they have quietly facilitated the traffic in their mosques that has helped to create the environment for extremist clerics and their followers to thrive?

Forget the eerie silence of Muslims prior to 9/11. What about the months afterwards? Did one major Muslim leader in America or Europe step forward to unconditionally condemn Al Qaeda and add force to the words by issuing fatwahs against "perverters of Islam"? No they didn't. The fatwah in Spain following the Madrid train bombings was issued to protect the Islamic community living in Spain from revenge attacks by outraged Spaniards. So they only issued the fatwah basically as an internal security measure - not because they reject everything bin Laden stands for.

Muslims in the west are a deeply conflicted people. They can't play this double game any longer. Either they are willing to support democratic values and the aims and ideals of a pluralistic society - or they are not.

Sorry folks, there is no in-between "special" category reserved for the followers of Muhammad.

Posted by: scowler at July 31, 2005 06:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Outstanding, Scowler.

Tell you what all - let's just play pretend that the above was the post of the week, and go from there. Kind of a "press-ganged guest host".

"dan"? Why don't you get ready for next wednesday, in case we need it. Any recommendations for the following Monday? ANd we'll just go from there, on this thread, until DJ chimes back in.

Now then...


Scowler,

Great post - completely agree, and it is extremely underreported.

By way of analogy, Neal Boortz says exactly the same of the confederate battle flag proponents in the Amercian south-east. He says that it doesn't matter what you claim the battle-flag is suppossed to stand for, and the way you really mean it anymore. Even though it should. The fact that you let your "brand" become co-opted by the modern, bigotted, "white-power" sub-culture, and made little or no attempts to decry and denounce those that used it as a symbol for their aims, invalidates your claims of simple "southern heritage".

I think that you accurately argue that this is exactly what is happening tho "the religion of peace".

Posted by: Tommy G at July 31, 2005 03:14 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Anyone who thinks Islam is to blame for terrorism doesn't understand religion, war, politics, or globalization.

Terrorism is nothing new but has been around since the dawn of war. Recent terrorism directed at the US is a force of globalization and American unipolarity (see DoD studies on globalization; CIA estimates also support). Terrorism is strongly rooted in certain parts of the Middle East because of that region has the right combination of dysfunctional governance, ideological education, oil wealth, and heavily armed neighbors.

The problem here isn't Islam -- its intolerance and hatred and the manipulation of such for political power. Directing your intolerance back at Islam isn't going to solve the problem, just make it worse.

That isn't to say that we shouldn't be applying scrutiny to pockets of the Muslim community. We are and probably should be. Here in Northern Virginia, the Feds have raided and shut down a number of non-profit groups suspected of having ties to terrorist funding. This is what I call "qualified ethnic profiling" -- the qualified part being that you are applying the standard in national security cases based on a careful geographical and demographic targeting, not just how someone looks or for common law enforcement purposes.

Finally, Muslim groups and leaders have been condemning terrorism loudly and forcefully for decades, including very prominently after 9/11. Scowler et al, you might want to get yourself some new newspapers. For example, the Council on American-Islamic Relations yesterday announced a Fatwa against terrorism, with support from 120 different Islamic organizations. Go to www.cair-net.com for more on that.

Posted by: POTUS B at July 31, 2005 07:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"Anyone who thinks Islam is to blame for terrorism..." Snore. And then I stopped reading.

Listen, PB, it's not that Islam is to blame, it's that all the terrorist lately have proclaimed Islam.

It's what known as "a clue"...

Posted by: Tommy G at July 31, 2005 10:24 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here's what I think should be discussed:

Now that the Bewitched movie has stopped off in theatres on its way to video, and the Dukes of Hazzard movie is set to open in a week or so, what should be the next old TV series adapted for the big screen?

Bewitched, based on a 1960s' series, was a bit of an aberration, as I understand there were many production delays in a movie that could have been made 10 years ago. Dukes is more typical; we're really up to the late 1970s and early '80s right now. Some sample choices are:

Family Ties
Fawlty Towers
Simon and Simon
WKRP in Cincinnati
Moonlighting
The Jeffersons
Manimal
Northern Exposure
Miami Vice
and my personal favorite Yes, Minister.

I've excluded from the list traditional DLC (Doctor, Lawyer, Cop) dramas and prime time soaps like Dynasty and Dallas. These are essentially remade under different names on both TV and in movies all the time anyway, so what would be the point? And I've taken the liberty of assuming that no one wants to see another Star Trek movie for at least another ten years or so, until the odor from the last one has had a chance to dissipate.

I don't mean to interrupt anyone's train of thought about terrorism, Islam and so forth. It's just that, for most people in North America and even Europe terrorism is merely something that might happen within hundreds of miles of where they live, while movies based on old TV shows are certain to arrive at a theatre near them sometime in the next couple of years.

Posted by: JEB at July 31, 2005 10:55 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tommy G.. maybe you should have kept on reading. I addressed the "clue" part. Not to mention that clue and blame are different words.

Try again for a more thoughtful response.

Posted by: POTUS B at July 31, 2005 11:06 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

JEB -- I'd vote for "The A-Team" updated for the war on terror. Who wouldn't like to see those guys take down Zarqawi?

Posted by: POTUS B at July 31, 2005 11:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

“Yesterday” PotusB ... exactly. It's taken the Council on American-Islamic Relations this long to get around to it. Much of their pro-action no doubt based on defensive needs i.e. protecting Muslims against the reaction pattern that has begun to set in.

Before you start characterizing CAIR as a laudatory body representing Islamic moderation, take a look at its track record.. A few years ago CAIR demanded the removal of a billboard in LA that described bin Laden as "the enemy" on the grounds that the depiction was "offensive to Muslims". CAIR has done nothing but deny and lie about the culpability of bin Laden, even when the evidence was pretty damn solid. For example they denied he was responsible for the two East African embassy bombings. After 9/11, far from issuing a fatwah, CAIR even tried to argue for bin Laden’s innocence, claiming they would only agree to condemn him and then "in name only" ...IF... he was in fact responsible. Sources connected with CAIR have produced all types of ludicrous conspiracy theories connecting 9/11 with the Israelis and the CIA. The record of this group is atrocious. Look, even when the World Trade Center terrorists involved in the first attack in 1993 were convicted in a court of law - CAIR called the verdict “a travesty of justice”. When Omar Abdel Rahman was charged with plotting to blow up New York city landmarks, they called the proceedings “a hate crime”. Siraj Wahhaj who sat on CAIRS advisory board is described by CAIR as “one of the most respected Muslim leaders in America” - even though Wahhaj was a co-conspirator in Rahman’s plot to blow up NY landmarks.

Attempts to laud moderation in Islamic circles by leading a round of applause for CAIR leaves me cold.

Supply me with the names of these legendary mullahs and imams you cite with such confidence Potus, the ones who exist in these papers you read, who went public in the western media after 9/11 with unqualified condemnations of bin Laden and Al Qaeda and everything it represents ( i.e. a perversion of the true faith). Post their quotes. Show me the names of any such who issued a fatwah condemning bin Laden - anywhere in the western hemisphere in the months after 9/11 - which is what they should have done because he claimed and claims to be acting in the name of Islam.

Good lord ... Iranian mullahs issued a fatwah against Rushdie for the crime of writing a piece of fiction they didn't like, but apparently destroying a few thousand infidel lives in the name of Allah isn’t close to being as problematic.

PotusB goes on to inform us that ...”the problem here isn't Islam -- its intolerance and hatred and the manipulation of such for political power”. Oh really. Okay then why don’t we take a look at some other reps of mainstream Muslims, who, if one is to go along with Potus’ contention must be struggling to free themselves from the taint of “intolerance and hatred”. How about the American Muslim Council - the AMC - which claims to be “a voice of moderation”.

Despite the fact that the American government has blacklisted Hamas and Hezbollah and placed them on a list of terror organizations, the AMC has long thought differently. The AMC doesn’t merely offer vocal support to these organizations, it has also had a long history of active collusion with crime and terrorism. An AMC board member, Jamal Barzinji, had his home and business raided by the Feds as part of an anti-terror investigation. Abdullah al-Amin, a former President of the AMC’s executive board had the dubious distinction of being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List”. Like CAIR, the AMC went public with support for “the blind sheikh” Rahman when he was convicted for terror plots aimed at American monuments. They also support the Sudan National Islamic Front which has been guilty of many heinous atrocities.

Look ... I could go on and on and on citing examples of so-called “moderate” Islamic organizations in America, that co-exist with fellow Americans in a condition of brazen hypocrisy. In the course of creating their “moderate” window dressing they manage to convince suckers like PotusB who appears to be an easy sell.

Despite weasel words and gestures of solidarity with fellow Americans, most of these organizations still operate with a double standard. Scratch the surface of most Muslim gatherings in the U.S. and you will encounter many extremist views and bizarre rationalizations.

Most have a long way to go before they can be described as “moderate” without quotation marks.

Posted by: scowler at August 1, 2005 12:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Scowler --

The point in citing CAIR wasn't that I agree with them on anything. Maybe they all carry al Queda membership cards and secretly listen to Abba tapes -- I don't know.

The point was simply to show that your allegation that leading leading Muslims have not denounced terrorism is dead wrong. The Fatwa cited by CAIR is supported by 120 different groups so go read for yourself if you are interested in which Mullahs and Imams are allegedly on board.

Now if you want to make a more balanced critique, tell us which Muslim groups/leaders/media have been more (or less) responsible in their response to 9/11 and events since, then you would be offering insight as opposed to venom. But your post offered only broad (some false) accusations and selective evidence and argumentation -- in other words bias -- rather than analysis or insight.

Stop attacking and start thinking. I didn't "laud" CAIR at all -- just cite a fact. Yet you spent 3 paragraphs attacking them as if I thought they were jolly good guys. And then another 2 paragraphs attacking another Muslim group AMC who might as well be Run DMC as AMC as far as I know. Totally irrelevant (and no doubt similarly "objective") and filled with hatred.

If you think we're going to defeat al Queda and win the war on terror by painting all Muslims as equally culpable and evil, then you are going to lose big. Distinguish beyond the religion and start thinking about the sources of power and support for terror and we can isolate and weaken the terrorists.


Posted by: POTUS B at August 1, 2005 01:26 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't tar all muslims with the same brush at all.

There are many Muslims living in N. America who make their religion a private matter of faith; Islamic men and women who are true citizens in every sense of the word, who respect the rights of others and co-exist in an egalitarian fashion. Such people are appalled by the likes of Al Zawqawri, just as I am appalled by right wing fanatics and bigots who flirt with fascism.

The more important point with regard to this discussion, is that you seem to buy the declarations of suspect Islamic spokepersons and clerics at face value, when hip and informed Muslims (read Americans) express extreme skepticism on the very points you regard as ground breaking.

With all due respect - I tend to think your optimism is somewhat naive and misinformed.

Posted by: scowler at August 1, 2005 01:44 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Before I abandon this thread, there a couple of points that I think are crucial.

Organizations like CAIR and AMC represent Muslims who still remain identified with the struggles in the Middle East, those who regretably, reflect pretty closely the standard caricature of Muslims that appears in the tabloid press.

Just as there are African Americans who would be horrified if you suggested that the likes of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson represent them, so there are many American Muslims who would rather not be grouped with the Islamic constituency that CAIR and AMC ostensibly represent.

Our greatest hope in my opinion, lies not with "regressive" Muslims who are unable to let go of historical baggage and emotional connections with terror groups such as Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad - but with genuinely progressive Muslims of which there are many. Successful business people, academics, artists who have reinvented their understanding of Islam within the context of the western democratic world. These are the Muslims who are seeking a new vision, a new reality, rather than allow historical hatreds to poison their new life. This is not to say that they have abondoned certain central convictions, but they know how to keep personal faith and political conviction is some kind of perspective. The same can be said for American jews, sikhs and others who understand that a balance must be struck if they and their children are going to be able to integrate with the larger society.

So frankly, I am very suspicious of groups who claim to speak for American Muslims as a whole. The Muslim community is diverse and sociologically complex in America. By no means all of them would be happy to think that someone like the blind sheikh was acting on their behalf.

Posted by: scowler at August 1, 2005 02:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Scowler --

Good to see you drawing some distinctions between terror and Islam. Yes, there must be many good Muslims in N. America and the UK. Now can you find some leaders of these 'true citizens" and consider what they are saying about terrorism and al Queda? If not why not? And what about all the twisted and potentially dangerous sympathethizers to al Queda? Where do those sympathies come from? How can we best win the battle of ideas between the two groups? That's a much more interesting and relevant question than Islam bashing. And that is also reflective of THINKING, not hate.

You backtracked slightly with the next post. Saying you are suspicious of any group that purports to speak for all American Muslims is a bit naive. This is the nature of representative democracy. Politicians, interest groups, community leaders all take on the representation of their constituencies -- sometimes effectively and fairly sometimes not. Saying you are suspicious of any group that tries to do so is essentially casting suspicion on all representative Democracy. I know you are suspicious of these groups but re-think why you are and why they are less clear on the issue of who is right and wrong in the Middle East than we would like.

Finally, this quote about me is funny: "you seem to buy the declarations of suspect Islamic spokepersons and clerics at face value, when hip and informed Muslims (read Americans) express extreme skepticism on the very points you regard as ground breaking...With all due respect - I tend to think your optimism is somewhat naive and misinformed." You need to re-read the first paragraph from my previous post (1.26am GMT) to realize how foolish it is to make that accusation a SECOND time.

Posted by: POTUS B at August 1, 2005 04:08 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Oh, Scowler... You should have just taken my tack. We ended in exactly the same place (g). See you upspin

Posted by: Tommy G at August 1, 2005 01:49 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, I'll second the suggestion of some Maria Sharapova pictures.

Posted by: fling93 at August 2, 2005 01:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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