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:: Friday, October 25, 2002 ::

Letters from San Francisco
Bill Quick whacks a local idiot. The doofus accuses the Bush administration of a "new McCarthyism". Here's what Bill had to say about it.
Gosh, Paul H. Taylor, the left is so tired. And stupid. It's nice to see that some things never change. Get it through your extremely numb skull: Criticism is not censorship. Disagreement is not destruction. Which, exactly, of your "civil liberties" have been dismantled? Certainly not your ability to bray like a witless ass in the public square without reprisal. As far as "assaults on the Constitution" go, I'm more worried about the assault your ilk has been waging on the 2nd Amendment for the past seventy years, and on the first by your PC legions as well
He also agreed with a writer who thought the San Francisco Giants organization should have played the national anthem, instead of "God Bless America", before Tuesday's World Series game.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 10:13:00 AM Link
Steven Den Beste on Iraqi Debt
Steven thinks we must repudiate Iraq's debts to France and Russia.
On a purely practical level, it is necessary now for us to punish both nations for their support of Saddam during the last ten years. Both must suffer, because we must establish the precedent that this kind of behavior can lead to ruin. If we were to honor those debts and retain those deals, then it would encourage them further, and others as well, to try to shaft us, secure in the knowledge that there's much to be gained and nothing to lose by doing so.

It would also mean that the French and Russian companies who violated the sanctions (at least in spirit) by getting in early to make lucrative deals in Iraq would be rewarded, and the companies in other nations who played straight and honored the sanctions would not be.


The Europeans are already beginning to learn that lesson in how the Bush administration is treating Schröder, and if the French economy crashes because of their equivalent behavior then the message will become impossible to ignore: Gratuitously lambasting America can be very expensive.

Because France must suffer for this, Russia will have to appear to suffer, too, but it looks as if what's going to happen is that we'll make some compensating deals with Russia. The situation isn't really the same, and there hasn't been anything like as much Russian commercial dealings in the last ten years. (Most of the Iraqi debt to Russia is left over from the 1980's when the USSR sold a lot of arms to Iraq on credit.)

Steven also draws an interesting paralell with the post-WWII Marshall Plan. We didn't just give Germany money to pay for reconstruction. We forgave all of Germany's pre-war debts. If Germany had been forced to pay her old debts, plus reparations for WWII damages, it's doubtful that she could ever have recovered from the devastation of the war.

France is Saddam's chief enabler. If anyone deserves to bear the financial hardship associated with his removal, it is France.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 9:36:00 AM Link

A Tiny Gulf Kingdom Bets Its Stability on Support for U.S.
The NY Times has this story.
Thanks to an enlightened emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who took over from his father in a bloodless palace coup seven years ago, Qatar is now one of the most liberal, democratic countries in the traditionally tribal-ruled neighborhood.

The country has already held municipal elections, in which women both voted and ran for office (though none of them won). It has drafted a Constitution that provides for an elected Parliament. It has even broken ranks with its Arab neighbors by establishing ties with Israel.

Alcohol is available, and many women walk in public without head scarves. The government not only encourages a free press, it also sponsors the satellite television station Al Jazeera, a flagship of free speech so uncontrolled that even the United States wants it toned down.

All of that is unsettling for Saudi Arabia, the custodian of Islam's holiest shrines and the long-established patriarch of the Arabian peninsula. Last month, the Saudis recalled their ambassador to Qatar, ostensibly for a slight made against the royal family by a guest on Al Jazeera.


As a sort of insurance policy against the hostility of his neighbors, the emir years ago began building a billion-dollar air base on a scale clearly too large for his own small air force. That was a tacit invitation to the United States, and it did not take long before America was at his door.

Qatar's pro-Western atmosphere and the carte blanche offered the American military have proved irresistible to Washington, particularly when compared with Saudi Arabia.

A huge air base in Qatar, and a government willing to let us use it. Once Saddam's gone, we'll have all the bases in the region that we could possibly want. Once Iraq's oil fields are back to full production, oil prices will drop to a point where we no longer have to kiss the Saudis' butts. We'll need the House of Sods about as much as we need a toothache. I'm going to enjoy it, when we finally tell them to shove it.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 1:39:00 AM Link
:: Thursday, October 24, 2002 ::
Voting closes in Bahrain election
BBC News has this story.
Voting has finished in Bahrain's first parliamentary elections in 30 years.

There were long queues at many polling stations, and turnout was reportedly high despite the election being boycotted by Islamic parties.


This election is also the first time that women in Bahrain have been able to vote and stand as candidates in a national poll.

Of 177 candidates, eight are women.

No women are expected to be elected but the mere fact that women are standing in a national poll at all will eclipse arguments about turnout, our correspondent says.

Half of the members are appointed by the king, so it's not exactly a textbook example of Jeffersonian democracy, but for an Arab state, it's a good start. The high turnout is a good sign, too.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 8:59:00 PM Link
Fallaci goes on trial for anti-Muslim book
United Press International has this article.
PARIS, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- A second author Wednesday went to trial in Paris in as many months on charges of inciting racial hatred for a book that has denigrating passages on Islam.

The latest case involves "Rage and Pride," a best-selling novel by Italian writer Oriana Fallaci.

One plaintiff, the anti-racist group MRAP, wants the book banned from France altogether. Two others, including the Human Rights League, simply want disclaimers that its disparaging passages on Islam don't accurately reflect the Muslim religion.


"When one finishes reading the book, one recognizes the right to kill any Muslim on the street," argued Hacen Taleb, the lawyer representing MRAP, in a statement to the court.

So when will the English edition be available? Faster, please.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 1:38:00 PM Link
Two arrests in sniper hunt
BBC News has this story.
US police believe that two men arrested in Maryland could be responsible for sniper shootings in the Washington DC area, American media reports say.

The two men were detained in a car at a highway rest stop on Thursday morning.

Reports also say a rifle was found in the car, a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice.

A senior official in President George W Bush's administration said that the FBI was "reasonably sure" that the case had been solved.


Reports suggested that a fingerprint of one of the two arrested men had been found on police evidence at the scene.

If the bit about the fingerprint is true, at least one of these guys has a lot of explaining to do. Of course, they'll probably blame it on the Mossad and the Zionist Media Conspiracy. That's what Muslims do, when confronted with evidence of their crimes.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 10:40:00 AM Link
Islamists row over beardless nominee
BBC News has this report.
Divisions have emerged in Pakistan's hardline Islamic alliance following its unprecedented success in recent general elections.

One of the parties in the group has attacked the choice of Akram Khan Durrani as nominee for chief minister of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) because he lacks a beard.

A statement issued by the Jamaat-e-Islami said the central council of the alliance had not been consulted, and stressed that the chief minister's appearance should comply with Islamic Shariah law.

And folks wonder why the Muslim world lags centuries behind the civilized world. Less than two weeks after a stunning election victory, and they're at each others' throats - over a freakin' beard. If Pakistan didn't have nuclear weapons, the thought of these guys trying to run the country would be hilarious.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 2:01:00 AM Link
:: Wednesday, October 23, 2002 ::
Rice rules out major changes to UN resolution on Iraq
VOA News has this report.
White House officials say work on a U.N. resolution on Iraq appears to be nearing an end. They indicate they will accept some minor changes in the draft resolution circulated by the United States, but the core must remain the same.

White House national security advisor Condoleezza Rice says the diplomatic process takes time, but there are limits.


"The United States is very committed to having a resolution that will this time really deal with the problem of Saddam Hussein," she said.

Tell'em, Condi. Our patience with French cowardice and corruption is not infinite. The French need to understand that if they don't get with the program on Iraq, they're out, post-Saddam. Their Iraqi investments are bye-bye. Ditto, the Russians.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 11:44:00 PM Link
Bush Signs $355 Billion Military Spending Bill
The NY Times has this story.
With the president contemplating war against Iraq, and U.S. troops involved in an anti-terror campaign across the globe, the law increases Pentagon spending in almost every area for the budget year that began Oct. 1 by a total of more than $34 billion, or 11 percent, over the previous year. It was the biggest increase in 20 years.

"Since September 11, Americans have been reminded that the safety of many depends on the courage and skill of a few,'' Bush told a Rose Garden audience filled with uniformed military personnel and lawmakers from both parties. "The bill today says America is determined and resolute to not only defend our freedom but to defend freedom around the world, that we're determined and resolute to answer the call to history and that we will defeat terror.''

The president also signed a $10.5 billion bill financing construction and upgrading of military facilities. This bill is a resounding statement of America's determination to fight both terrorist gangs and terrorist states.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 10:49:00 PM Link
John Bono on the Washington Sniper
John Bono at Big S Blog has this information on the sniper case.
While the sniper thing was going on, I initially thought it was a terrorist attack, then I thought it was a lone nut.

I take that all back. I just heard saw on fox news that they are searching a property in Tacoma, and they are looking for suspects in Washington State and Alabama. I am now convinced that it is definitely, and I mean definitely al Qaeda. Here is why. Some of this you have heard before, and some you haven't.

He lists 6 reasons, and has some updates on his original post, including a description of a suspect car. Definitely worth a look.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 10:39:00 PM Link
Guerrillas seize Moscow theatre
BBC News has this story.
Up to 100 armed guerrillas have stormed a Moscow theatre, taking up to 1,000 members of the audience, theatre staff and actors hostage.

Chechen separatists contacted the BBC to say the hostage-takers had planted explosives in the theatre and were led by a nephew of Chechen warlord Arbi Barayev.

They demanded the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, and said they were prepared to die for their cause.

They also reportedly said that if Russian security forces tried to attack, they would blow up the theatre.


Reports say children and Muslim members of the audience have been released.

First, office buildings, then pizza parlors and nightclubs, now theaters. The civilized world needs to quit bickering, unite, and wipe these murderous thugs from the face of the earth. We need to realize that this is war to the death. They will destroy us, unless we destroy them first.

When Russia began its war with the Chechen rebels, I thought the US government should pressure Russia to respond in a restrained, measured way. I have since changed my mind. Get'em, Vlad! Crush them like the pestilential vermin that they are. Make them weep until they die of dehydration. I am absolutely, and utterly sick of these brothel-born baboons' bastards.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 4:02:00 PM Link

Den Beste on NATO Modernization
Steven Den Beste has this article on Lord Robertson's efforts to promote NATO modernization.
He skirts around an important issue: we'd be glad to sell that kind of communications equipment to Europe if they want to buy it. But that's not what they want.

What they want is for us to give them the technology to make it possible for them to create such things themselves. Not to put too fine a point on it, what they want to do is to use this as an excuse for wholesale industrial espionage.

Once we teach them to make this stuff, will they actually then commit the money to do it? Or will they just hijack that knowledge to compete better with us in other markets without actually upgrading?


Which means Robertson is asking us to buy a pig-in-a-poke. We'll give Europe a major technological boost, and then hope that somehow or other the continental Europeans will suddenly decide that they don't hate us after all and will start acting more like, well, the UK. Sadly, the chance of that is too low to take seriously.

Lord Robertson is one of Britain's most respected diplomats, and Britain has been one of our very best allies. Therefore, America should not tell him to go fuck himself. That would be rude, and uncalled for. America should tell NATO to go fuck itself, instead. The notion that America should give premium-grade military technology to countries that would not only not use it to assist us in time of crisis, but probably sell the technology to our enemies, is absurd. Lord Robertson is a good man, trying to do an impossible job - convince America that France and Germany are worth the urine to piss on. He deserves our sympathy. NATO, on the other hand, deserves only our contempt.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 9:56:00 AM Link
:: Tuesday, October 22, 2002 ::
Blair Talks to Australian TV and Radio About Bali Attacks
The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office News has this interview.
INTERVIEWER Do you think it raises Britain's profile as a target, your strong support for George Bush? PRIME MINISTER I think that they will target anyone anywhere. People forget that before the 11 September attack in America they tried attacks in France and Germany. Some of the attacks that they have mounted have been in different countries around the world, some of whom haven't had a particularly high profile. Now in my view I think it is common to our tradition, the Australian tradition, the British tradition, that where there is a threat we go out there and face it. And it is difficult, of course it is difficult because we are taking a high profile on these issues, but I have no doubt at all we are right to, and there is no escape for us if we don't. And what happened on 11 September, what happened in Bali, what has been happening in these different terrorist incidents around the world is that as I say they don't care what nationality you are, they don't care what religion you are, they don't care what race you are. They want to do the maximum amount of damage. And part of the reason for this, this is what is so important, you see we are familiar with terrorism in Britain over a long period of time, so we have had a chance to study it, and I can't say this strongly enough, the purpose of terrorism is not just the act of destruction itself, the purpose of terrorism is as its name applies - to cause terror, to produce chaos, to produce division, to stop people coming together but actually dividing them up into different groups, different religions, different sex, different races and creeds, and to cause economic chaos that then has a huge effect on people's living standards and their perception of their own economic prosperity and interest. So it is not just about the act of terrorism itself, and that is why the only way of dealing with it is for people to come together, to unite, to be absolutely clear that just as there is no hiding place for us from their extremism, there is going to be no hiding place for them from our action in order to root them out.
We cannot run from them. We cannot hide from them. We cannot bargain with them. What can we do? We can fight them. We can seek, in the words of another great British Prime Minister, "Victory -- victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival".
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 10:48:00 PM Link
Israel holds off on military strikes
BBC News has this story.
Israel is planning a "harsh, precise response" to Monday's deadly bomb attack on a bus by Palestinian militants which killed 14 people, Interior Minister Eli Yishai has said.

But according to Mr Yishai, the strength of the response will be limited to take into account America's interests as it gears up for a possible war with Iraq.


Mr Yishai said that if the Israeli Government retaliated immediately with great force, "we could cause difficulties for the Americans".

Thank you, Mr. Sharon, for your understanding, and your restraint. It is difficult to watch the murder of your countrymen, and do nothing. If I were in your position, I would want to scour the Palestinian lands with fire and steel. I would want to teach them, in the only language they understand, what an Israeli's life is worth. But your restraint may help end a greater threat, both to Israel, and the United States, and this American is grateful. The day will come when you can freely hunt down the animals who planned this slaughter, and it will not be long, "because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice".
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 8:36:00 PM Link
State Department Listing Islamic Extremist Group as Terror Organization
Fox News has this story.
The Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah, due to be cited Wednesday, has cells operating throughout Southeast Asia. It seeks to create an Islamic state comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the southern Philippines, according to report in May by the State Department's counterterrorism office.

Listing the group as a terrorist organization will make it a crime to contribute funds to it and will bar its members from receiving visas to enter the United States.

It's about time. However, I don't expect the State Department to actually deny visas to any Jemaah Islamiyah members. State Department has been notoriously and inexcusably lax in its policies regarding visa issuance. Contact your Senators and Congressperson, and demand that they pass a Homeland Security bill that strips State Department of all visa issuance authority.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 8:14:00 PM Link
French author cleared of race hate
BBC News has this story.
French writer Michel Houellebecq has been cleared of inciting racial hatred by saying Islam was "the stupidest religion".

A panel of three judges in Paris declared that the author was not guilty after he was sued by four Muslim groups.

He made the comments in an interview with the literary magazine Lire in 2001.


The court ruled that although the author's comments were "without a doubt characterised by neither a particularly noble outlook nor by the subtlety of their phrasing," they did not constitute a punishable offence.

Apparently, under the French law Houellebecq was charged with violating, there is a difference between criticizing a religion, and criticizing its followers. Houellebecq's criticism of Islam was judged to be permissible, under the law, where criticism of Muslims would probably not be. While the court's ruling was not exactly a ringing defense of freedom of expression, it beats a conviction. I frankly expected the court to stick it to Houellebecq, so the ruling is a pleasant surprise. Too bad Houellebecq couldn't use the Zenger defense.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 7:32:00 PM Link
The State Department rewards officials responsible for terror visas
National Review has this article by Joel Mobray.
Senior officials at State have rewarded some 200 senior members of the foreign service with bonuses of $10,000-$15,000 each — including four of the five top officials at Consular Affairs (CA), the agency within the State Department that oversees consulates and visa issuance, as well as the person who helped implement the Visa Express program in Saudi Arabia.


More than one year after 9/11, State is still fighting the Justice Department on behalf of suspected terrorists. According to the GAO, the State Department wants to issue visas to individuals on watch lists if there isn't enough hard evidence to prove the applicant is actually a terrorist. In fact, State did issue visas last year to 79 people whose names were in the FBI's TIPOFF terrorist database, "because [State] determined there was insufficient information linking [the 79 applicants] to terrorism," according to the GAO report.

State Department has shown itself to be utterly incapable of, or even concerned with, preventing terrorists from obtaining visas. State Department must be stripped of all visa issuance authority, because they just don't get it.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 3:48:00 PM Link
Qantas cuts capacity to Indonesia; customers changing to Fiji, Queensland
AFXpress has this story.
SYDNEY (AFX-ASIA) - Qantas Airways Ltd said it will reduce its flights to Indonesia from next month as it seeks to redirect capacity to holiday destinations where demand is increasing such as Fiji and the northeast Australian state of Queensland.


Borghetti said many customers who had booked holidays to Bali were changing to destinations such as Fiji and Queensland, and that Qantas would direct additional capacity to these routes to cater for the increased demand during Australia's Dec-Jan school holiday period. "We are planning to add capacity to our Cairns, Gold Coast, Hamilton Island, Rockhampton, Maroochydore and Perth routes, as well as Nadi and Singapore," he said.

This looks like bad news for Bali, but my sympathy is reserved for the victims of the Bali bombing. If the Indonesian government had cracked down sooner, it might not have happened, and Indonesia wouldn't be facing the collapse of its tourist industry.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 10:22:00 AM Link
Are the Saudis the Enemy?
That's the question Nicholas D. Kristof asks in this NY Times Op-Ed. This piece isn't quite dumb or evil enough to justify the use of the Iron Fisk Technique, but I am going to see if I can't poke a few holes in Nicky's arguments.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- Osama bin Laden succeeded magnificently, it seems, in at least one of his goals: creating a rift between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
That wasn't a very difficult task. The only thing we have in common with them is oil. They have it, we want it, and for too many years, we've put up with their shit.
Odds are that Osama shrewdly sought to create discord by deliberately choosing Saudis to be the grunts of 9/11, picking them to fill 15 of the 19 hijacker positions, even though the teams were led by an Egyptian, Mohamed Atta, and other key players were from Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. Al Qaeda had plenty of Yemenis, Kuwaitis and north Africans whom it could have tapped, but it apparently went out of its way to choose Saudis to be the foot soldiers.
All Bin Laden did, was wake us up, and cause us to look at what kind of society Saudi Arabia really is. Nothing more was needed.
The plan, if that's what it was, worked perfectly. The 60-year friendship between Saudi Arabia and the United States is now in tatters, and it will probably get even more poisonous in the coming months if we invade Iraq. It turns out that Saudis have as much animosity for us as we have for them.
Why shouldn't they? Our peoples have nothing in common. Saudi Arabia is a trading partner, and an ally of convenience, never, never, never, a friend.
"Our people very much hate the U.S.," said Soliman Al-Buthy, a Saudi engineer with flowing white robes and even more flowing black beard. "The No. 1 reason is that it supports Israel with no limits. Then there's homeland security measures, and now we hear that all Saudis in America will be fingerprinted."
Likewise, Soliman, but the US doesn't support Israel without limits. If we ever did, there wouldn't be an Arab government left, and damnned few Arabs. Israel could annihilate Egypt in a day or two, if it chose to do so. All it would have to do, is wait for the Nile flood season, break the Aswan Dams, and when everyone runs for high ground, nuke'em.
Mr. Buthy has plenty of company: A poll released this month by Zogby International found that 87 percent of Saudis have an unfavorable view of the United States.
And Americans don't like Saudi Arabia much, if any, better.
Even among the many Saudis who lived for years in America, there is a deep sense of betrayal that matches our own. Everywhere I go, I run into American-educated Saudis whose eyes light up as they recall how they lived in Kansas City or Chicago or Portland, how their children were born there, how their neighbors were the nicest people in the world. Then, bitterly, they complain that Americans now slander them as terrorists, deny them visas and vilify their country.
Betrayal? You want to talk about betrayal? What about 15 Saudi citizens who lied their way into this country, obtained technical training under false pretenses, and used that training to murder thousands of Americans, and do billions of dollars in property damage? Arabs allegedly believe in hospitality. Do they not believe that a guest has any obligation to his host?
"Now all Saudis are guilty, are unwelcome," complained Fahad Aslimy of the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry. "Most Saudis were educated in the U.S., and it is our second home. So this is very frustrating."
Unfortunately, we haven't figured out how to recognize all the terrorists, just by looking at them. So we've had to be more cautious about all Saudis. And as for the US being a "second home" to Saudis, even a dog treats his bed with more respect than Saudis have the US.
Indeed, it's become fashionable in America to see Saudi Arabia as "the most dangerous, the most fanatic regime on the entire planet," as a reader e-mailed me recently. Richard Perle's influential Defense Policy Board convened a hatchet-job hearing in July in which Saudi Arabia was described as America's "most dangerous opponent."
The reason some Americans see Saudi Arabia as "the most dangerous, the most fanatic regime on the entire planet", is that it is. Money, and the willingness to spend it on terrorism, is what makes the Arab regimes dangerous. Saudi Arabia has more money, and spends more of that money supporting terrorism, and other forms of religious extremism, than any other Muslim state.
There's plenty to criticize about Saudi Arabia, but this vision of it as a dangerous enemy is way over the top.
Not really. Wars are won by logistics, the ability to train, supply, and transport troops. The Saudis pay for the recruiting, the training, and the travel of terrorist operatives, and have, since long before 9/11.
Sure, the Saudi monarchy bears some responsibility for fundamentalist Islamic terrorists. King Faisal, together with the United States, deliberately nurtured fundamentalist Islam in the 1960's as a counterweight to Nasserists and leftists. It was Saudi Arabia that, at America's request, backed the jihad against Soviet troops in Afghanistan, thus forming the basis for Al Qaeda.
And they encouraged them to embrace an anti-American agenda, as a means of diverting their anger from the House of Saud.
Later, prestige-seeking Saudi businessmen wrote checks to radical Islamic charities, financing the spread of radical Islam in much of the Islamic world ? in the same way that zealous but misguided Americans helped underwrite I.R.A. terrorism in the 1970's and 1980's, as our own government pretended not to notice. Read Margaret Thatcher's memoirs and you find the same kind of outrage at American financing of Irish terrorism that we feel at Saudi complicity in Islamic terrorism.
Certainly, NORAID should have been shut down sooner. But NORAID's American supporters weren't giving US tax dollars to the IRA. In Saudi Arabia, it was more than just idiot businessmen's ego-tripping. Government money was spent to encourage the spread of Wahabi extremism.
Saudi Arabia's responsibility, in other words, arises more from stupidity than venality. It's absurd to imagine the Saudi government intentionally promoting people like Osama bin Laden when Osama's first target was the Saudi royal family itself.
If OBL's first target is the Saudi royal family, and not America, why are there thousands of dead Americans, and no assassinated Saudi princes? I'll tell you why, Nick. Americans are doing the dying, because the House of Saud is doing the buying.
The Saudi royals can fairly be criticized for fecklessly looking the other way as clerics commandeered schools and preached poisonous nonsense about foreigners. More broadly, America and the kingdom have almost no values in common; Saudi Arabia is a corrupt monarchy that stands for religious intolerance and the repression of women.
You don't say! The way you've been going on, I'm surprised you noticed.
But we also need a bit of common sense in the discussion. To my ear the harsh denunciations of Saudi Arabia as a terrorist state sound as unbalanced as the conspiratorial ravings of Saudi fundamentalists themselves.
Then you need to get the wax out of your ears. Or maybe, just your hand out of the Saudis' pockets.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 12:07:00 AM Link
:: Monday, October 21, 2002 ::
Diplomacy 'could resolve Iraq crisis'
BBC News has this story.
US President George W Bush has said he believes that Iraq can be disarmed peacefully and that he is willing to give diplomacy one more try.


"The stated policy of our government, the previous administration and this administration, is regime change, because we don't believe he is going to change," Mr Bush said following talks with Nato Secretary General George Robertson.

"However, if he were to meet all the conditions of the UN, the conditions that I've described very clearly in terms that everybody can understand, that in itself will signal the regime has changed."

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Washington says that Mr Bush's remarks sound like a dramatic shift in US policy, however in practice it is more likely to be a tactical change of emphasis designed to reassure other members of the Security Council while still pursuing a tough new resolution on Iraq.

Of course, its a tactical change. Anyone who thinks George W. Bush expects Saddam's compliance, or desires Saddam's survival, is down to their last functioning neuron, and it's not working too well. In fact, if Saddam misinterprets this statement as a capitulation on our part, it could lead him to reject the compliance that might save his sorry ass. What a tragedy that would be - NOT!
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 11:33:00 PM Link
US aims to soothe Turkish fears
BBC News has this story.
Military action against Iraq is expected to top the agenda as US Chief of Central Command General Tommy Franks visits Turkey.

General Franks and Nato's supreme allied commander, Joseph Ralston, have arrived in a country obsessed with the prospect of military action against its south-eastern neighbour.

As the only Nato member with a border with Iraq, Turkey fully expects to be called upon to assist in any operation.


Turkey's politicians are worried that the US has done a deal with the Kurds who control northern Iraq - some sort of autonomy in exchange for Kurdish help in toppling Saddam Hussein.

Over and over again, Turkey has told anyone that will listen that it will not tolerate an autonomous Kurdish state.

Turkey has historically been one of our better allies. If they are willing to cooperate in the removal of Saddam, they deserve to have their concerns addressed. The protection we have given the Kurds, in the past, through the no-fly zone, plus guarantees that their civil rights will be protected, post-Saddam, should be enough reward for their support. The fact is that Turkey's cooperation is more valuable to us in this operation than anything the Kurds could be expected to do.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 11:17:00 PM Link
Some get Iraq wrong all the time
The International Herald Tribune has this column by Jim Hoagland.
WASHINGTON Imagine that Saddam Hussein has been offering terrorist training and other lethal support to Al Qaeda for years. You can't imagine that? Sign up over there. You can be a Middle East analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency.

Or at least you could have been until recently. As President George W. Bush's determination to overthrow the Iraqi dictator has become evident to all, a cultural change has come over the world's most expensive intelligence agency: Some CIA analysts are now willing to evaluate incriminating evidence against the Iraqis and call it just that. That development has triggered a fierce struggle, pitting officials whose careers and reputations were built on the old analysis of the Iraqis as a feckless, inert and inward-looking bunch of thugs against those willing to take a fresh, untilted look at all the evidence.


The upstarts who are challenging the agency's long-standing and deeply flawed analysis of Iraq are being accused of "politicizing intelligence," a label that is a reputation-killer in the intelligence world. It is also a protective shield for analysts who do not want to acknowledge that they have been profoundly and damagingly mistaken.

The "politicization" accusation suggests that those who find Iraqi links to Al Qaeda are primarily interested in currying favor with the Bush White House. It comes primarily from those who won favor in the Clinton years with an analysis based on the proposition that an Arab nationalist like Saddam would never cooperate with the Islamic fanatics of Al Qaeda. They are now out in the cold in the Bush-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz era. Their work is only one part of a monumental record of failure on Iraq by the CIA, which has at different moments sought to understand, support, co-opt and then overthrow Saddam.

Hoagland goes on to say that the evidence, including old, previously classified information, suggests that the "politicizers" were the ones who downplayed the Iraqi threat. A good housecleaning at CIA is in order. The "ostritches" who told Bill Clinton and Bush the Elder what they wanted to hear should not let the doorknob hit them in the ass.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 6:27:00 PM Link
Inspections Are the Key?
The Washington post has this op-ed by Mohamed El Baradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
After four years, the door to inspections has finally reopened, and we should be taking advantage of that opportunity. The success of inspections in Iraq -- in eliminating not only nuclear weapons, but also biological and chemical ones -- will depend on five interrelated prerequisites:
1. Full and explicit authority for inspection, which means immediate and unfettered access to any location in Iraq -- including presidential sites -- and practical working arrangements for communication, transportation and other logistics to ensure that inspectors can operate safely and effectively. 2. Ready access to all sources of information, including the freedom to interview relevant Iraqi personnel without intimidation or threat of retribution to those individuals, and access to information from other states as well as information gained through aerial monitoring and other inspection activity. 3. Unified and robust support from the U.N. Security Council, with the affirmed resolve to deal promptly and energetically with any noncompliance or lack of cooperation on the part of Iraq. This is the best deterrence to ensure Iraq's compliance. 4. Preservation of integrity and objectivity in the inspection process. There must be a fair and impartial inspection regime, free of outside interference, to ensure that our conclusions are accepted as credible by all parties. 5. Active cooperation by Iraq, including a sustained demonstration by the government of its stated willingness to be transparent and to allow inspectors full access to carry out their mission. This effort could be further facilitated (and the inspection process shortened) if Iraq were to take the initiative -- not only with passive compliance, but also with active cooperation -- by, for example, coming forward with a full and "final" declaration of its weapons-related equipment and activities.
Mr. Baradei's conditions for a successful inspection regime in Iraq are probably sufficient, but are so unlikely to be implimented in our lifetimes, that they should be categorized as "science fiction", not "political commentary". Point one ain't gonna happen. The only thing that would convince Saddam to comply with point one's demands is a certainty that refusal would inevitably lead to his doom. Saddam doesn't believe that, and isn't going to. Even now, he believes that he can brazen it out. He believes that the younger Bush will do what the elder Bush did - flinch from actually removing him from power.

Point two is only slightly less likely. For decades, Saddam has lived by intimidation and retribution. He is not going to stop, now. Only the belief that non-compliance means death would secure Saddam's compliance. Saddam is not capable of such a belief.

Point three will not happen, as long as France has a seat on the Security Council. Which is why points one and two won't happen. What the US should do, after removing Saddam, is install a US military occupation government that would, among other things, systematically exclude the French from any significant role in post-Saddam Iraq. France needs to learn the cost of backing the wrong side. Indeed, this would be the best of all possible worlds. The French would lose both their investments in Iraq, and their precious UN's relevance.

Point four isn't going to happen, as long as France, Germany, and Russia are concerned with hiding evidence of their involvement in Iraq's weapons programs.

Iraqi active cooperation with inspectors? Bubba, Iraqi non-cooperation is what got us in this mess. If you think Saddam will ever actively cooperate with inspectors, you need a new tinfoil hat.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 11:21:00 AM Link

:: Sunday, October 20, 2002 ::
From Its Palaces, Iraq's View Is of a World Filled With Allies
The NY Times has this story.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 19 ? As Iraq confronts the possibility of a new war with the United States, its leaders appear to have concluded that they have one decisive advantage that they lacked during the countdown to the Persian Gulf war 12 years ago: this time, they seem convinced, the world is on their side and against the United States.


But amid the speeches, news conferences and newspaper headlines boasting Iraq's defiance, there was also a sense that Baghdad's aging leaders, a tight circle of men that has changed hardly at all since the gulf war, were busy trying to persuade themselves that they could somehow ride out the most serious threat yet to their power. In this, there were strong echoes of the months before American bombs started falling in 1991, when Baghdad seemed to think it could bluff and maneuver its way into hanging on to Kuwait.

Keep on dreamin', Saddam. The less rational your foreign policy is, the easier for President Bush to sell our allies on the need to remove you. If you think we can't get Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to provide at least minimal, grudging support, you're nuts. The fact of the matter is, if we had to, we could go through any resistance they could muster. We know it, and they know it, and they know that they cannot afford a rupture in their relationships with the US. When the time comes, we will have their support, and you will be up Shit Creek without a paddle.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 11:45:00 PM Link
Two Shot Dead at Australia University
Reuters has this story.
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Two people were shot dead and at least seven people wounded at a university in the Australian city of Melbourne on Monday and a suspected gunman was taken into custody, emergency authorities said.


A police spokeswoman said a man had been taken into custody but added there was no indication yet of a possible motive.

The police have not released the identity of the gunman, so we don't know anything about his motives. If the gunman turns out to be some sort of jihadist, it will only strengthen the resolve of the Australians to fight back. But whatever the motive, this shocking crime must be punished to the full extent of the law. May God grant healing to the injured, strength and comfort to the families of the victims, and justice to the gunman. UPDATE: Steven Den Beste has a link to a report that says the gunman was tackled by several bystanders, not stopped by the police. Three cheers for the gutsy bastards who charged a man with a shotgun. If Australia produces that sort in any quantity, the Muslims are really screwed. UDATE: The Sidney Morning Herald reports that the gunman was an Asian student, a loner, who was having difficulty in school. Apparently, the shootings were not politically motivated. Also, one of the bystanders who subdued the gunman was a lecturer in the class. They've got a good bit of detail and background coverage. Check their main page for more info.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 10:32:00 PM Link
Saddam's Economy of War
OpinionJournal has this column on the international industry of weapons technology proliferation Saddam has created.
There is no doubt that Saddam, with his oil billions, has single-handedly called into being a world-wide industry devoted to brokering illegal weapons technologies. It begins with Syria, which agreed to reopen a long-dormant pipeline and channel $3 billion a year in illegal Iraqi oil exports whose proceeds the regime can use for any purpose it wants, free of U.N. constraints. As to suppliers, the German case was discovered by accident--a routine inspection--so the suspicion has to be that more Western business people, knowingly or not, are aiding in Saddam's rearmament.


Saddam's whole official life has been devoted to the pursuit of exotic weapons of every kind. This must mean something.

What's more, there are reasons at least to evaluate the possibility that something did change after Sept. 11: that the risk posed by Saddam actually increased. He saw what we have been keen not to dwell on: The Sept. 11 plot was largely a failure but contained the seeds of a much more devastating blow against the U.S., had the hijackers succeeded in decapitating the political system by taking out the White House and Congress.


Various peacemongers have called for sending inspectors back to a country that has spent 10 years learning how to hide its weapons labs and stockpiles from inspectors. It's no longer possible to treat this as anything but a fig leaf for surrender. The worm finally turned last week, when the CIA chief sent a letter to Capitol Hill implying to some that we dare not move against Iraq lest Saddam strike back with a catastrophic terrorist attack.

The United States will not be deterred by Saddam. Nor will we accept a situation where our cities live at the sufferance of this manman. Preparations for war continue apace, and our UN diplomatic efforts have brought the Russians on board. Of the five veto powers, only France still opposes the US position, which requires only UN consultation, not approval, for military action against Saddam.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 5:47:00 PM Link
US weighing Israeli plan to disarm Iraq
ArabNews has this story story.
WASHINGTON, 20 October — The Bush administration is weighing an Israeli proposal for a joint operation in the western Iraqi desert to disarm missiles before they could be launched against Israel.

If successful, the operation might not only protect Israeli civilians from an Iraqi attack like the one they weathered in the 1991 Gulf War but also eliminate the prospect of an Israeli retaliatory attack on Iraq.


This time, however, Prime Minister Sharon has declared Israel "will take the proper steps to defend its citizens" if Iraq launches a missile attack. And while there are fewer Arab states lined up with the United States there still could be a risk of defection if Israel attacked Iraq.

Two things are interesting about this story. First, is that a major Arab news outlet published it, and the tone of the article. The story doesn't contain any the usual apocalyptic hysteria that would normally accompany a report about US-Israeli cooperation in a military attack on an Arab state. It looks like the Saudi press, or at least ArabNews, has accepted the fact that Saddam is a goner. Since there's nothing to be done for Saddam, they are trying to distance themselves from him.

The other thing, is that the US is apparentely no longer concerned about Arab support. The first Bush administration let Saddam off, in the Gulf War, at the behest of our Arab allies, and pressured Israel not to respond to Saddam's attacks. This Bush administration apparently believes that it has all the Arab support it can get, and that that support is solid enough that even Israeli involvement is acceptable.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 5:11:00 PM Link

Australia and EU countries advise nationals to leave
DW-World has this story.
The Australian Government said on Saturday that it had received intelligence that parts of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta may be bombed in attacks aimed at Westerners and urged its citizens to leave. Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that "on the basis of the intelligence we have received, it is very important we draw people's attention to the risk." Meanwhile the governments of Britain, Germany and Denmark have advised their nationals to leave Indonesia, with Britain also saying it is pulling out its non-essential diplomats. The British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, says Britons should not travel to the country and those who must remain should take extra precautions in public places. The German and Danish authorities have issued similar advice.
If the Australian and EU nationals and companies take this advice, Indonesia is in a world of hurt. They need tourist, and foreign investment dollars, pounds, francs, etc. If the developed world cuts them off, it's going to do more damage to Indonesia's economy than anything short of all-out war against the Muslim whackos would have. I'll bet the Indonesian government wishes it had paid attention to US and other warnings of terrorist activity.
:: Riyadh Delenda Est 12:09:00 AM Link

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