Sunday, September 21, 2014
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Missed this little gem of last May about Gen. Stanley McChrystal's evening with the International Relations Society at Oxford.

From a write-up in The Express Tribune by Mohammed Ali Rai, a Rhodes Scholar and one of the hosts of the event:



Soon after this the topic changed to what everyone had come to hear about — the general’s perspective on the Bin Laden episode. Instead of bashing Pakistan, McChrystal showed his mettle and worth — he argued that the US has made a lot of mistakes with Pakistan, and Pakistan has also made an equal number of mistakes, and there is no point in sticking to these mistakes. He continued that Bin Laden is dead and that should be the end of the story. He rationally argued that the only way out is to look forward to the future, and build up on a solid and trustworthy partnership that is beneficial for both states.

...

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This (past) week's syndicated column:

The last hot meal to be served at Camp Victory, the largest of 505 military bases once operated by the United States in Iraq, was a Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 20. Cooks served more than 2,000 pounds of turkey and more than 3,000 pounds of mashed potatoes to 6,000-plus military personnel.

Doing the dishes this time also meant shutting down the kitchen. That's because Camp Victory, one of only 10 U.S. bases still in operation, will be closed soon. According to the agreement signed in 2008 by President George W. Bush and implemented by President Barack Obama, the U.S. military in Iraq is coming home.

Praises be. So what if the U.S. withdrawal comes only after Obama was unable to convince Iraq to extend its welcome under tenable conditions? I'll take it, and give thanks. I am very sorry Camp Victory troops are on cold rations until they finally return stateside next month, but I am thankful to be able to see the day when they will have left Iraq...

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What's worse in the eyes of Western elites? Gang rapes of female journalists covering Tahrir Square, or female journalists not covering Tahrir Square so as not to be gang-raped?

After another brutal sexual assault this week in Tahrir Square, this time of French journalist Caroline Sinz, and after Egyptian-American journallist Mona At-Tahtawy was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Egyptian police after being detained (her arm was broken in two places), Reporters Sans Frontieres came to a logical conclusion: Editors should not be assigning women journalists to Cairo: They might be gang-raped, either by mobs or mobs of police.

Makes sense to me.

This -- "discrimination" against women (not the gang rapes) --...

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"The Che Guevara Store" is having its 50-percent-off Black Friday sale, unironically.

 

A timeless image, seemingly from British history. It was taken this week in Yorkshire at the funeral of British Army Private Matthew Haseldin, 21, who was shot and killed in Helmand province on November 3 while "part of an operation to maintain freedom of movement for the local population."

No doubt the Afghan "local population" was won over, COIN heart and COIN mind, by Haseldin's sacrifice.

It happened again.  There we were, going from one happy-dappy government account of COIN success in Sangin District at DVIDS  --

With the use of counter insurgency operations, or COIN, the Marines are finding new ways to remove the insurgent networks from areas and assisting local villages in creating the peace the people of this area desire. “We’re going to go out there and get with the people…the population is the objective,” said 3rd Recon Bn. Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Travis Homiak ....

-- to a second DVIDS report on COIN success in Garmsir, when the dark side of reality intruded for a brief moment, like a rain cloud passing the sun.

Even as Marines go above and beyond even the call of COIN  -- helicoptering local elders to the Marine base to hold shuras for them??? ("There is only so much we can do for the people," said an Afghan partner-commander, a little incredulousness perhaps showing through) -- even as Recon Marines go Oprah for the cause (Afghans “just...

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After 12 visits to Afghanistan in five years, Telegraph defense correspondent Thomas Harding is trying really, really hard to be positive about NATO, and, particularly, British gains. Now,  Harding writes, after decade of Western blood and treausre, Afghan farmers know how to trellis their grape vines so the fruit doesn't moulder on the ground -- bringing the state of Afghan agriculture up to 5th-century-BC Minoan standards! The Afghan local police is taking shape, he writes. "Young, jobless men are given a little training and ordered to guard their area against the Taliban." Ah, sweet security.

Nice try. Now for the nitty gritty:

So, what will be Nato’s legacy? The police, on whom security will largely depend, are...

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As Americans move on out of Iraq, they are figuring out what to take, what to leave behind.

From the New York Times (via Business Standard)

One item staying is General David H Petraeus's bed. For nearly a decade he and all other commanding generals in Iraq slept, strangely, in a bed with a pastel-hued, lacquered headboard depicting in frieze two doves clasping ribbons in their beaks, against a field of pink and blue poppies.

When American troops commandeered the palace complex that included this room for barracks and headquarters early in the war they retained the original French Provincial-style furnishings, including the bed.

Aha. It was all those "hearts and flowers," night after cloying night, that led to the "hearts and minds" fiasco.

Gen. Petraeus ordered up the renovation of a water park in Bagdhad in 2008. It opened to much fanfare in 2009, and was nearly waterless and in ruins by 2011. The loss of $1 million in costs (not including military resources), is just a drop in the bucket.

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This week's syndicated column:

When the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan closed shop on Sept. 30, it reported its "sobering but conservative" estimate that U.S. taxpayers had lost between $31 billion and $60 billion in waste and fraud of the $206 billion Uncle Sam has spent on contracts and grants in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, that's not all. According to the commission's final report, "a similar amount could be lost due to unsustainable projects and programs."

These staggering, if "conservative," figures are the result of three years of the commission's work, including 25 hearings and eight reports to Congress. What the commission neglected to mention in its final press release, however,...

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From DutchNews.nl:

Three Dutch Moroccans have made a complaint against the Netherlands to the UN court of human rights, claiming the Dutch state has not protected them from incitement to hatred instigated by Geert Wilders, Nos television reports.

The three, who are not named in the court filing, say the ‘systematic incitement to hatred and discrimination against Muslims and other migrants’ committed by Wilders has left them feeling ‘discriminated against, humiliated and threatened’.

‘They are of the opinion that Wilders by his continued hate speech has poisoned the social climate in the Netherlands that has become more and more anti-migrant and anti-Muslim,’ the statement says.

Wilders was taken to court for discrimination and inciting hatred last year but found not guilty this spring after the public prosecution department called for all charges to be dropped.

One-sided

...

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The Marines respond to the North County Times story I cited in a recent column, as reported in the Greeley (CO) Gazette:

The [North County Times] report mentioned that one of the trainers, Shafiq Mubarak, from the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (COACL), told the Marines that in order to avoid offending Muslims in Afghanistan; they should not urinate towards Mecca.

“Mubarak also said the Marines should never spit or urinate to the west, the direction of Mecca that Muslims in Afghanistan face when they...

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Saudi Arabia -- sorry, "The Kingdom" -- is going ballistic over a 30-second commercial currently airing on Fox Business Network. Does Prince Talal know?

With thanks to Kathy Shaidle:





NEW YORK, Nov. 15, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- EthicalOil.org fights Saudi "lawfare" by expanding campaign's reach

EthicalOil.org, a grassroots advocacy organization that educates consumers about the choice between ethical oil from Canada's oil sands and conflict oil from some of the world's most repressive regimes, is now airing a television ad in the United States that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is actively trying to block in Canada.

The 30 second television...

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This week's syndicated column:

We haven't had a good, old-fashioned "feeding frenzy," a la Herman Cain, for a long time – maybe not since the days of Dan Quayle. I'm talking about the kind of media wilding where someone is a whole person one day, and then, whoosh, the piranhas swim in and a gnawed carcass is all that remains. It's especially hard to look at when the victim joins in to shoot himself in the foot, but that's another story.

What interests me more is whether we can draw from the Cain case the conclusion that "women," as a group defined exclusively by sex, are exhibiting a new or finally realized power in society. Judging by the attention and gravity with which the sexual harassment charges are being treated, and judging by the perils these charges pose to the presidential run of this newly popular figure on the political Right, a Martian might be forgiven for concluding that the role and stature of women in society is supreme.

But a Martian would be wrong. The political...

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I don't get this. Two US Senators, Claire McCaskill and Jim Webb, co-sponsor legislation in 2008 to create a commission to investigate wartime contracting. Commission investigates -- finding between $31 and $60 billion in fraud and waste in contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and shuts down in September 2011. (Isn't there still wartime contracting in progress in A-stan? Oh well.) Also in September, the commission transfers its no doubt voluminous records to the National Archive and suggests? asks? stipulates? that the records be under seal for twenty years. 

Does a Senate-created, taxpayer-funded "commission" have the legal authority to do that?

Well, it did.

Sens. McCaskill and Webb had no idea the wartime contracting commission they helped create had taken steps to deep-six the evidence for almost a generation. In a letter of November...

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So glad the media are dwelling endlessly on the  Herman Cain sexual harassment accusations, leaving much less important stories such as this one off the front page:

Wartime Contracting Commission Seals Records for Next Twenty Years

Not so fast?

AP reports:

U.S. Sens. Claire McCaskill and Jim Webb want the federal government to allow public access to records from a commission that investigated wartime contracts.

The two Democratic senators say the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan has decided to seal its records from public review for 20 years. But McCaskill, of Missouri, and Webb, of Virginia, want the U.S. archivist to disclose the records "as quickly as possible."

Webb and McCaskill...

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Two breaking stories out of Afghanistan:

1) Big firefight in Paktika Province at COP Margah, which this blog has been keeping an eye on for a while. Sixty jihadis killed, all Americans okay.

BBC reports:

Two senior Afghan intelligence officials told the BBC the attack was "very close to Pakistan", adding: "Sixty insurgents carrying so many weapons could have not crossed from Pakistan without the help of Pakistani security forces - it is either that or they turned a blind eye."

Pakistan says it does all it can to halt insurgent activity.

Karzai's big pal Pakistan.

2) At Patrol Base Basir in Uruzgan province, where most of our Australian allies are stationed, a "rogue" ANA soldier is on the run after opening fire from a tower with an automatic weapon and a grenade launcher and seriously wounding three Australian soldiers. How he got down from the tower and away we don't know.

From...

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As the USA feeds on a sexual-harassment frenzy involving Herman Cain, women and the men who love them should pay special attention to the invaluable blog Vlad Tepes where a couple of vital instructional videos are posted today.

One is a harrowing half-hour report on "gang grooming" in Britain (I'm still shaking). This apparently decade-old, predominantly Pakistani practice of "grooming" very young, predominantly native British girls as sexual props for personal and business (prostitutional) use has now reached epidemic proportions. (The narrative attempts to portray the EDL and the BNP as villains for speaking out about the predominantly Pakistani identity of the rapists and criminals involved, but knots itself up in its own frustration with governmental silence on the perps' ethnicity.) 

The second is a brief report about a Serbian spa town of...

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Dementia advances in Afghanistan, courtesy the US taxpayer, who spent about $12 billion on training Afghans between October 2010 and September 2011. Not that it stopped there: $11 billion is pledged for the year ahead through September 2012.

Just think how many perfectly gorgeous Standard Poodles you could train for $23 billion dollars. And the world would be a better place....

On a recent graduation day for over 1,000 Afghan army soldiers, Reuters reports the alarming thoughts of Amlaqullah Patyani,  the Afghan general in charge of all Afghan training.

Surveying his new soldiers, Patyani said:

"We have no clue how to operate the weapons that NATO gives us. And even if we did, will the weapons keep coming after 2014?" ...

This is not a joke, not a satire. It's the gigantic Afghani$tan $candal, but it's dying alone, deprived of  media oxygen in the tabloid atmosphere dominated by Herman Cain accusers and moral turpitude in the Penn State Football office.

One...

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Equally as shocking as the malevolent but somehow also banal comments of Sarkozy and Obama regarding Netanyahu is the protection accorded them by the ladies and gennemen of the Fourth Estate who were listening in on the old, inavertently open mike. If it weren't for a French website called "Arret sur Images," we wouldn't have the story.

From Ynet (via Drudge):



The surprising lack of coverage may be explained by a report alleging that journalists present at the event were requested to sign an agreement to keep mum on the embarrassing comments. A Reuters reporter was among the journalists present and can confirm the veracity of the comments.

A member of the media confirmed Monday that "there were discussions between journalists and they agreed not to publish the comments due to the sensitivity of the issue."

He added that while it was annoying to have to refrain from publishing the information, the journalists are subject to precise rules of conduct.

Yes, master.

...

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This week's syndicated column:

Uncle Sam is getting a little weird. Make that a lot weird. Having dumped hundreds of billions of dollars into a sinkhole called Afghanistan – populated by misogynistic, pederastic, tribalistic and religiously supremacist primitives – to no avail, he has hit on a new plan for winning those ever-elusive Afghan "hearts and minds."

Uncle Sam has decided that the answer lies in the latrine with the U.S. Marine Corps. No kidding. When nature calls, Uncle Sam has decided he wants every U.S. Marine equipped with a map and compass, or some other way of knowing direction. This is to ensure that no U.S. Marine in Afghanistan urinates in the direction of Mecca ever again.

Now, there's a winning strategy.

It's still OK, of course, to spread baksheesh (payola) indiscriminately, chase jihadis into twisting mountain gorges, clear any road laced with improvised explosives – blow up, even, and bleed all over the place. Just make sure your sense of direction is sharp when it really counts.

...

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From NeighborNewspapers.com

Scott “Boots” Harper of Douglasville is remembered by friends and family for his smile, his warmth and his love for his friends.

The U.S. Marine was 21 when he was killed in Afghanistan on Oct. 13. His father, Brian Harper of Carrollton, heard from a fellow soldier’s father the story of how he died.

An Afghani translator or guide led a squad of 13 Marines into a village.

“He led them right into an ambush,” Harper said.

One Marine was shot in the chest and arm and fell to the ground.

“Scott ran into the gunfire to try to get this guy out...

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What journalist wouldn't want to be Paris Bureau Chief for Time magazine, or anything else? Sounds so glamorous. But look closer and the job qualifications -- sharia-compliance -- are more than a little off-putting, certainly as exemplified by the man with the job, Bruce Crumley, on weighing in on the bombing of Charlie Hebdo. Poor man. Full-blown, late-stage and terminal Dhimmitude.

Excerpts from his Time piece:

1) "Not only are such Islamophobic antics futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy ..."

2) It's "hard to have much synpathy for [Charlie Hebdo] after it published another stupid and totally unnecessary...

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Germany and Turkey are marking the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first Turkish "guest workers" as Recep "Islam Is Islam and That's it" Erdogan visits Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Is this a happy occasion? 

Before answering that question, bone up on the history of Ottoman-era "satellite" colonies via Andrew Bostom, as well as the history-repeating pattern visible 20 years ago, as Bostom found, to the late German scholar of dhimmi history Karl Binswanger. Suddenly, you will know the reason that Erdogan's latest demand of Merkel -- that Turks in Germany be allowed to hold dual citizenship -- is so sinister. Will Merkel know it, too?

Almost worse is Erdogan's jarring recourse to romance to camouflage his aggression.

From Spiegel Online:

...

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The gutted offices of Charlie Hebdo, Paris. Under Islamic law -- not Islamist law -- Molotov Cocktails replace letters to the editor

Update: The "offending" cover via Vlad Tepes:



"100 lashes if you don't die of laughter"

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The Daily Mail reports:

"Offices of French magazine torched after latest edition mocked Prophet [sic] Mohammed"

First, notice the religiously correct references to Mohammed. My old AP Stylebook recommends "Mohammed," plain and simple, to denote "the founder of the of Islamic religion" -- not "the Prophet Mohammed," as the Daily Mail story calls him. This title is inflected with the obeisance of acceptance.  (I note also that my old AP Stylebook recommends "Jesus," not "the Son of God Jesus.") The magazine, by the way, was commenting on the rising power and fortunes of sharia and its...

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An Afghan National Army soldier opened fire and murdered three and wounded seven members of an Australian military training team in southern Afghanistan.yesterday. The ANA soldier attacked his own Mentoring Task Force 3 just as they ended a regular weekly parade at a forward operating base at Shah Wali Kot in Kandahar province.

To my best knowledge, that brings the grim toll of Afghan murders of their Western allies to 42 45 in the last 23 months.

The Sydney Morning Herald pointed out that the loss of three Australians made this incident "the single deadliest attack on Australian forces during the entire Afghanistan campaign."

The Herald report continues:

Another Australian sustained life-threatening injuries and is likely to be airlifted to a military medical centre in Germany.

Another four Australians were seriously wounded while two suffered minor injuries. An Afghan interpreter was also killed.

Australian forces - including some of those who were wounded...

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Khaled bin Talal, brother to Alwaleed bin Talal, Fox News' top non-Murdoch shareholder

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The ethical and legal failings of the Murdoch clan have made headlines for months with James Murdoch kicking up the most dirt in the British phone hacking scandals, much to the discomfort of the News Corp. board and shareeholders.

But what are even unconsionable, unlawful  breaches of privacy next to putting bounties on the heads of Israeli soldiers to encourage their kidnappings? A close family member of another major New Corp. player has done exactly that.

From Haaretz:

"Saudi royal offers $900,000 for capture of Israeli soldiers"

A Saudi royal offered a $900,000 reward to anyone who captures an Israeli soldier, on Saturday. Prince Khaled bin Talal, the brother of business tycoon Walid bin Talal, told the Saudi-based broadcaster...

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Yesterday's post netted some valuable and vivid addenda.

1) From Andrew Bostom came the canonical hadith that suports Shafiq Mubarak's teachings to US Marines not to -- how to put it? -- excrete in the direction of Mecca. This, Andy explains, is more formally known as "facing the Qiblah," which means turning toward the Kabaa structure in Mecca.

From "The Book of Purification", Sunan An-Nasai (one of the 6 canonical hadith collections), vol. 1, chapter 19, p. 35, "The Prohibition of Facing the Qiblah When Relieving Oneself"   It was narrated from Rafi bin Ishaq that when he heard Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari say when he was in Egypt, "By Allah, I do not know what I should do with these toilets. The Messenger of Allah said: "When any one of you goes to defecate or urinate, let him not face toward the Qiblah, nor turn his back towards it."

And thus, Islamic Twister was born...?

...

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Gen. David Petraeus, Col. David Furness, and Shafiq Mubarak (far right). Mubarak served as Furness's "right hand" during a recent deployment. "I can't do anything without him," Furness said.

And who is Shafiq Mubarak? All I can find out is that he is a Pro Sol contractor (?) hired by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning to help implement "the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, the winning of hearts and minds." At least that's how Col. Furness puts it. According to the North County Times, Mubarak didn't come to the US until 2008 -- from where the story doesn't say -- but has been working with US troops in A-stan "for much of the past decade."

How is that? Why is that? Dunno. What the story does report is that Mubarak teaches the do's and don't's of sharia -- kind of, Islam for Leathernecks.

Mubarak teaches US Marines:

Don't spit toward...

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From Politico:

The Obama administration on Monday treaded carefully around the announcement that Sharia law will be enforced in post-Muammar Qadhafi Libya, refraining from expressing disapproval of Islamic law as the foundation of the country’s new legal system.

“We’ve seen various Islamic-based democracies wrestle with the issue of establishing rule of law within an appropriate cultural context,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters on Monday when quizzed about Libya’s National Transitional Council leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil’s declaration on Sunday that Sharia law will shape the country’s legal system.

Nuland added that the “number one” priority for the U.S. was that universal human rights, as well as rights for women, minorities, due process and transparency, be fully respected in Libya.

Then, the "number one" priority for the U.S. is a dead duck. Islamic human rights, derived from sharia, and what we know as "universal" human rights are totally and mutually exclusive.  

...

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Iraq won't give us permanent bases, let alone immunity for our troops in Iraq to train demonstrably untrainable Iraqis. (I mean, come on; eight years and they're still not "trained"?) Score: Iran.

Now, Karzai says he would back Pakistan in a war with the USA:

"God forbid, If ever there is a war between Pakistan and America, Afghanistan will side with Pakistan," he [Karzai] said in the interview to Geo television.

"If Pakistan is attacked and if the people of Pakistan needs Afghanistan's help, Afghanistan will be there with you."

Anything wrong with this picture?

Sahar Aziz  just knows the clever Obama Justice Department's civil rights attorneys can come up with a way to redefine criticism of Islam as racial discrimination. Assistant Attorney General for civil rights Thomas Perez has "some very concrete thoughts" on the matter, whatever that means. 

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More on this story. Will any GOP candidate address this proposed gutting of the Constitution the Obama Justice Department is so enthusiastically "taking notes" on?

From the Daily Caller:

Top Justice Department officials convened a meeting Wednesday where invited Islamist advocates lobbied them for cutbacks in anti-terror funding, changes in agents’ training manuals, additional curbs on investigators and a legal declaration that U.S. citizens’...

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Readers know I often cite the excellent reporting of John Rosenthal, an American journalist based in Europe, on the events of the noxiously branded "Arab Spring," particularly regarding Egypt and Libya. Today, in response to my post on the killing of Qaddafi, John writes:

Thanks, Diana, also for the Lawrence Auster link. To be honest, Qaddafi’s death doesn’t just leave me cold. It leaves me feeling sick to my stomach. And I think I will be feeling sick for many days to come.

As Lawrence Auster correctly says, we killed him. There is no way that the erstwhile “rebels” would have ever defeated him or captured him without our hellfire missiles and the French Mirages. Actually, they probably could...

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Timing is everything. Qaddafi was not killed in retaliation for his attacks on American servicemen in Berlin in 1986, or the downing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in 1989. He was not killed for his central role in the USSR's terror networks going back to the 1960s and 1970s. He was killed after coming over to our side of George Bush's "war on terror" in the final phase of a civil war in Libya in which his regime fought al Qaeda affiliates.

Horrific as it sounds, Qaddafi was killed because we and our NATO allies joined the other side -- the al Qaeda affiliates.

Lawrence Auster elaborates on why the event rankles:

Kaddafi never violated his agreements with us and never became a threat to us or our allies. He spoke in the warmest terms of the United States and of Obama. Yet the instant that people whom we chose to call democrats rose up in rebellion against him, our ideology and what we perceived as our political...

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John Quincy Adams doesn't need to meet Abu Qatada

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The Justice Department's war on the facts about Islam, currently  playing out in a purge of fact-armed trainers such as FBI analyst William Gawthrop,  has taken a publicly aggressive turn as former US Attorney Dwight C. Holton declared AG Holder's "firm committment" to, as TPM reported, "nixing anti-Muslim material from law enforcement training."

“I want to be perfectly clear about this: training materials that portray Islam as a religion of violence or with a tendency towards violence are wrong, they are offensive, and they are contrary to everything that this president, this attorney general and Department of Justice stands for,” Holton said. “They will not be tolerated.”

As obliquely noted yesterday, such a diktat would ban the Koran...

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Dwight C. Holton, meet Abu Qatada

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From TPM:

Attorney General Eric Holder is “firmly committed” to nixing anti-Muslim material from law enforcement training, former U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, Dwight C. Holton said Wednesday.

Holton, who was U.S. Attorney when the FBI arrested the so-called Christmas tree bomber, said that he spoke specifically with Holder about the “egregiously false” training that took place at the FBI’s training headquarters at Quantico and at a U.S. Attorney’s office in Pennsylvania, which was first reported on by Wired.

“I want to be perfectly clear about...

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Just FYI:

In order to meet a preliminary deadline for The Hollow Center (St Martin's Press, October 2012), I will not be writing my column this week or next week.

This week's syndicated column:

I am looking at a reproduction of an old engraving of Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It is in Bat Ye'or's book "The Dhimmi," which collects primary documents from history to chronicle the impact of Islamic law on non-Muslims through the centuries.

What is notable about the image, which is based on an 1856 photograph, is that the church, said to be at the site of Jesus Christ's crucifixion and burial, has no cross and no belfry. Stripped of its Christian symbols, the church stood in compliance with the Islamic law and traditions of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire, which ruled Jerusalem at the time.

I went back to the book to find this image for a reason. It had to do with last weekend's massacre of two dozen Coptic Christians in Cairo by Egyptian military and street mobs, which also left hundreds wounded. The unarmed Copts were protesting the destruction of yet another church in Egypt, St. George's, which on Sept. 30 was set upon by thousands...

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Lauchlin Currie of the US Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, the White House -- and the Kremlin

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This past week's syndicated column (posted a little late): 

The most amazing aspects of the accelerating American submission to the state are: 1) how matter-of-fact we are in contemplating massive government interventions, such as President Barack Obama's latest stimulus "jobs" plan, and 2) how virtually no one notices the blatant Marxist overtones. When someone does, a la "Joe the Plumber" at the end of the 2008 campaign season, he or she is mocked off the stage.

President Obama demonstrated how this is done in January 2010 when, during an unusual White House meeting with congressional Republicans about his pending health-care legislation – another massive government

intervention into the private sector – he declared: "If you were to listen to the debate, and,...

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On September 8, 2011, I joined Peter Brookes, Senior Fellow for National Security Affairs at the Heritage Foundation and John David Lewis, Visiting Associate Professor at Duke University at the National Press Club to discuss the tenth anniversary of 9/11 on a panel titled "The Islamist Threat: From Af-Pak to Jyllands-Posten and Times Square." The event was moderated by Elan Journo, Fellow and Director of Policy Research at Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights. My segment begins around the 27 minute mark.



Charbaran, 2008 (photo by Paul Avallone)

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Whaddya know but I'm not alone in having Yogi Berra's sense of deja-vu-all-over-again on reading this week's  NYT report on Charbaran, Afghanistan. Me,  I just had a funny feeling about the place, about the repetitive motions US forces are going through, about the tired fruitlessness of it all -- about those "ruins of a government center that the United States built earlier," which was the tip-off to earlier, failed COIN efforts in Charbarn, as stitched together in my initial post.

But writer-photog-veteran Paul Avallone was there in 2008. He writes:

Gee, we coulda saved the Times (already heavily mortgaged) a ton of money just using my stuff from...

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The NYT reports:

Iraq's political leaders announced late Tuesday that they had agreed on the need to keep American military trainers in Iraq next year, but they declared that any remaining troops should not be granted immunity from Iraqi law, a point the United States has said would be a deal breaker.

The statement, issued as the political leaders emerged from a meeting in the presidential compound, sent mixed signals as United States officials and the Iraqi cabinet negotiate whether any troops will remain after the first of the year, when the forces are scheduled to depart. American officials were scrambling on Tuesday night to decipher the announcement.

Less than three months before the last troops are scheduled to leave — close to 40,000 members of the military are in the country — Americans are increasingly frustrated at the slow pace of the discussions. The United States has called for a prompt decision, noting the logistical hurdles of moving ahead on a withdrawal while...

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NYT photo: In what way is our constitutional republic better protected by deploying US forces (in Afghanistan at a baseline cost of $350 million per day) to search for munitions in the hovels of Charbaran along the Af-Pak border?

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The NYT this week carried yet another  report on yet another US  mission to "disrupt" yet another A-stan network with yet another first lieutenant sitting down with yet another tribal elder (only this one was named Mohammad --) while  troops searched yet another village, where Afghan troops had yet again probably tipped off local fighters.

The reporter, too, recognized this re-run of a re-run as he describes the meeting between the US officer and the Afghan "elder":

There was a ritual familiarity to their exchange, a product of a war entering its second decade. 

That ritual is also a product of the...

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This week's syndicated column:

Robert Conquest, pre-eminent historian of the genocides, purges and terrors of the Soviet Union, has long contemplated the blinders the West wears when looking at -- or, rather, not looking at -- the millions of dead bodies for which the gigantically Evil Empire was responsible.

"Why people didn't, and still don't, understand the communist regimes has to do with their concentration on reputable, or reputable-sounding, phenomena," Conquest wrote in a 2005 essay. "This is what amounts to an attempt to tame the data or, perhaps more correctly, a mental or psychological bent toward blocking the real essentials, the real meaning."

In only rare instances...

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Most of the headlines about the Afghan who shot and killed American plumber Jay Henigan inside the the super-secure US embassy complex in Kabul on September 25 describe the shooter as an "Afghan worker" or an "Afghan employee of the US embassy."

The September 27 AP story about the shooting -- "Afghan Worker Kills CIA Contractor in Kabul" -- is typical. Later in the story, however, we read this:

A U.S. official in Washington said the Afghan attacker was providing security to the CIA office ...

Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall declined to comment on what the targeted annex was used for, citing security reasons. Sundwall said the Afghan employee was not authorized to carry a weapon, and it was not clear how the man was able to get a gun into the secured compound.

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Remember when "Operation Infinite Justice" -- the post-9/11 US military build-up -- was quickly  changed  to "Operation Enduring Freedom" because Islam believes only Allah dispenses "infinite justice"?

Well, now that as many 50 Pakistani imams in the Sunni Ittehad Council --  Facebook page here -- have declared jihad on the US, they have also declared that it is haram (forbidden) to call the U.S. a superpower because only Allah deserves the title.

Of course, Pakistan has been fighting a jihad against the American Superdumbpower (is that ok???) for a long time -- even as it has been collecting billions in backsheesh -- US taxpayer dollars. This week, we learned about one skirmish in that jihad -- the deliberate and concerted...

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Five British soldiers shot and killed by a 'rogue' Afghan policeman in Helmand province in November 2009. In all, at least 37 40 Western troops have been killed by Afghan "allies" in the past 22 months.

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London Telegraph: "Commanders ignored warnings that British troops were at risk from attack by Afghan allies: carry a loaded pistol whenever working alongside them, secret Nato report warned"

The report, ordered after a rogue Afghan policeman shot dead five British servicemen, recommended that British troops should be armed with 9mm pistols at all times - even when sleeping - because of the high risk of being attacked.



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This week's syndicated column:

Only the U.S. military could build a defensive wall of words -- "dismounted complex blast injury" (DCBI) -- around the bare fact that single, double, triple, even quadruple amputations are up sharply among U.S. forces on foot patrol in Afghanistan. So are associated pelvic, abdominal and genital injuries, according to a newly released report.

But even the antiseptic language of the report is excruciating, as when it calls for "further refinement" of "aggressive pain management at the POI (point of injury)," or highlights the need to train more military urologists in "phallic reconstruction surgery."

It isn't management but prevention that is called for.

These grievous injuries have increased because more U.S. forces are on foot patrol in Afghanistan. More Americans are on foot patrol in Afghanistan because counterinsurgency strategy puts them there. Every story I've seen on the new amputation report makes this connection. The Associated...

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My upcoming column this week takes off from a new report on the continuing spike in amputations among US troops in Afghanistan. The AP reports: 

The counterinsurgency tactic that is sending U.S. soldiers out on foot patrols among the Afghan people, rather than riding in armored vehicles, has contributed to a dramatic increase in arm and leg amputations, genital injuries and the loss of multiple limbs following blast injuries.



The number of U.S. troops who had amputations rose sharply from 86 in 2009, to 187 in 2010 and 147 so far this year, military officials said Tuesday, releasing the report on catastrophic wounds.

Of those, the number of troops who lost two or three limbs rose from 23 in 2009 to 72 last year to 77 so far this year. ... The soldier on foot is at greater risk for severe injuries, Tuesday's...

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My title today conjures up all the wrong imagery because "the doors of perception," which comes to us from William Blake, was taken by Aldous Huxley as the title of his book of reflections on mescaline, which was taken by Jim Morrison as the name of his band. My concern with "the doors" is not at all psychodelic, although I suddenly find that this is likely the one opportune moment I will ever have  to drop the fact that in the mid-1950s, Aldous Huxley invited my late father, Elliot West, a Hollywood writer and novelist, to take mescaline with him.

Dad declined, although he did do what he could to help Huxley in his surprising quest to get a television writing job -- surprising as in: The great Aldous Huxley, author of the genius "Brave New World" and crackling novels such as "Point Counter Point," essays, poetry, and even co-credit on the excellent 1940 screenplay of "Pride and Prejudice," can't get a lousy TV job just  by clearing his throat? Apparently not, and my mother still recalls how Huxley broached the subject while examining the cover of an LP (record, kids) of the musical "Kismet" at such close range that it was half an inch from  his eyeballs. Huxley was very nearly blind; hence, his desire for mescaline, a drug said to intensify color and landscape.

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From the Guardian, an essay by Naina Patel, a 30-year-old barrister who spent last year bringing law to Afghanistan. Only what kind, pray tell?

During the year, I began to understand how fortunate we are to have only one set of laws in Britain. Afghanistan is really three legal systems within one: the state system, dating back to the reign of King Amanullah, inspired by the codes of Turkey and Egypt; sharia, founded on ancient religious texts and their interpretation; and customary law, such as Pashtunwali, the strict honour code of the Pashtuns. Only the first two of these are explicitly recognised in the country's constitution. Still, the result is a confusing labyrinth of rules and norms, which only heightens the challenge of providing high quality and consistent justice.

The problem...

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