Thursday, August 31, 2006

British Jihadis -- Pakistan's worst export

Stephen Schwartz discusses Britain's least favorite import from Pakistan: Deobandism. It's a radical Islamic ideology that was peaceful but became jihadist thanks to Saudi money and influence. Schwartz explains:

In the aftermath of the Afghan war of the 1980s, Deobandi students ("Talibs") in Pakistani madrasas, being already fundamentalist, were noticed by Saudi agents in the Pakistani military and intelligence services. They were trained in totalitarian and terrorist methods and took over Afghanistan as the governing Taliban. From Pakistan and Afghanistan their message disseminated through mosques and madrasas where Pakistani Sunnis congregate--especially in Britain, America, and Canada. Because of their financial resources, proselytizing, and intimidation, they came to dominate Pakistani Sunni communities abroad.

More Saudi fingerprints on the worldwide Islamofascism.

More bad Federal judging in Michigan

Check the water supply in Detroit -- the judges there are completely off their rockers. Once upon a time judicial findings of fact required actual evidence submitted by affidavit or an evidentiary hearing. Not anymore.

Terence Pell discusses judicial overreach and how a liberal civil rights group is using the courts to prevent a vote on a civil rights issue.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ripping the Plameout investigators

Christopher Hitchens rips the Plameout investigators, Michael Isikoff and David Corn, in a column on Slate.com discussing their book Hubris. This is sharp stuff:

. . . now we have the final word on who did disclose the name and occupation of Valerie Plame, and it turns out to be someone whose opposition to the Bush policy in Iraq has—like Robert Novak's—long been a byword in Washington. It is particularly satisfying that this admission comes from two of the journalists—Michael Isikoff and David Corn—who did the most to get the story wrong in the first place and the most to keep it going long beyond the span of its natural life.

As most of us have long suspected, the man who told Novak about Valerie Plame was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's deputy at the State Department and, with his boss, an assiduous underminer of the president's war policy.

* * *
It was Corn in particular who asserted -— in a July 16, 2003, blog post credited with starting the entire distraction —- that:
The Wilson smear was a thuggish act. Bush and his crew abused and misused intelligence to make their case for war. Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the nation's counter-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score. It is a sign that with this gang politics trumps national security.

After you have noted that the Niger uranium connection was in fact based on intelligence that has turned out to be sound [see Hitchens' columns here and here -- TKM], you may also note that this heated moral tone ("thuggish," "gang") is now quite absent from the [book]. It turns out that the person who put Valerie Plame's identity into circulation was a staunch foe of regime change in Iraq. Oh, that's all right, then. But you have to laugh at the way Corn now so neutrally describes his own initial delusion as one that was "seized on by administration critics."


It gets worse. The Novak column ran in mid-July 2003. The CIA referred the leak to the Justice Department. The investigation stood still for more than two months after Justice swiftly identified the leaker. Here's the crux, from Hitchens:

. . . rather late in the day, at the end of September 2003, then-CIA Director George Tenet himself sent a letter demanding to know whether the law [Intelligence Identities Protection Act] had been broken.

The answer to that question, as Patrick Fitzgerald has since determined, is "no." But there were plenty of senior people who had known that all along. And can one imagine anybody with a stronger motive to change the subject from CIA incompetence and to present a widely discredited agency as, instead, a victim, than Tenet himself? The man who kept the knowledge of the Minnesota flight schools to himself and who was facing every kind of investigation and obloquy finally saw a chance to change the subject.


The Monk has blasted the CIA time and again since starting this blog. And with good reason -- it's role in the Plameout does it no credit.

Stronger in peace than in war

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert rejected UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's call for Israel to remove its sea and air blockade of Lebanon earlier today. Overall, Olmert is doing much better at protecting Israel's interests thus far whilst trying to establish a peace than he did in commanding the country during its military incursion in Lebanon.
"[The resolution] is not a buffet where you pick up one item and leave others," he said.

"So far as we're concerned we entirely accept this, this is a fixed buffet and everything will be implemented including the lifting of the blockade as part of an entire implementation of the different articles.

As the Captain notes:

Olmert may have botched the military mission in Lebanon, but he has done much better in protecting Israeli interests in the post-[UN Security Council Resolution] 1701 environment. The Israeli insistence on full compliance with 1701 will be the only way that either the Israelis realize their goals in the sub-Litani region or expose the global community for the appeasers they obviously are. The blockade must continue until [Lebanese PM and Hizb'Allah sympathizer] Siniora and Annan understand the concept of the "fixed buffet". If they want Israel to abide by 1701, then they cannot expect to get a pass on its full implementation. If they are unable to meet that standard, then neither should have insisted on the cease-fire at all.

The Monk hopes Olmert sticks to that principle, which few Israeli leaders have ever done -- require full compliance by the Arabs before Israel undertakes further "good faith" measures to encourage compliance. If Olmert does, he'd do a great service to his nation.

Are you ready for some (American) football?

Sports Illustrated, the premier sports magazine in America, has made its pro football predictions public. The immediate reaction is: who's smokin' the funny stuff in the staff offices?

Conceptually, The Monk has no problem with the prediction SI makes that his beloved New York Giants will make the playoffs and pull off two road wins before honking the NFC Championship Game (a la the 2005 Panthers), but there are some picks that only a bunch of journos sitting around a table asking "wouldn't it be cool if ______ happened" would pick.

Exhibit A -- predicting all four NFC East teams to go 9-7. That's ludicrous. The Monk agrees with Tuesday Morning Quarterback columnist Gregg Easterbrook that the Redskins took on dead weight in free agency that should hurt them. The Monk also agrees with the locals that Dallas has a top-notch defense. And The Monk agrees with his better judgment that says Dallas is likely the best team in the lot (which Dallas was for the first 10 games last year before honking four of the last six to fall out of the playoffs). The Monk thinks the Giants should be at worst second-best and wild card caliber.

Exhibit B -- picking the three blind mice who will follow the Bears in the NFC Central standings to all go 6-10; sorry, but there's more than a dime's worth of difference between them, Green Bay is pretty awful, and the Vikes should reach 8 wins.

Exhibit C -- picking the Dolphins to win the AFC. I'll regret this in January if I honk, but I don't see it. Still too many questions regarding Culpepper's effectiveness, Ronnie Brown as a full-time back and the ability of the Patriots to beat the tar out of anyone in a given week.

Exhibit D -- picking the Bills to win 8. That means Buffalo needs to go 8-4 in games where New England and Miami don't whip its a**. It's possible because the AFC East plays the two worst divisions in football (AFC South, NFC North), but with Indy, Jacksonville, Chicago and San Diego on the schedule, it's unlikely.

Exhibit E -- picking the Bengals to win 8. The kitties have a tough schedule (AFC West, NFC South), but SI went to press after Carson Palmer showed he's at full health. I think another division title challenge is in the offing.

More to come later (I hope).

Another myth debunked: ending the Plame game

It's nearly official: the Valerie Plame leaker was Richard Armitage -- the Colin Powell deputy who is not a neocon, not a Cheney ally, not a partisan, not a Bushie from the inner circle, and not an intentional discloser of a CIA employee's identity.

That information comes from a new book co-authored by Newsweek investigative reporter Michael Isikoff and The Nation editor David Corn. Corn is one of the major proponents of the theory that the Bush Administration "outed" Plame to retaliate for her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV's, editorial in the NY Times describing (and lying about) his trip to Niger. But the book debunks Corn's own theory, as Byron York notes:

Whatever Armitage’s motives, the fact that he was the Novak leaker undermines — destroys, actually — the conspiracy theory of the CIA-leak case. According to Isikoff, in an excerpt of Hubris published in Newsweek: “The disclosures about Armitage, gleaned from interviews with colleagues, friends and lawyers directly involved in the case, underscore one of the ironies of the Plame investigation: that the initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone…”

It’s an extraordinary admission coming from Isikoff’s co-author Corn, one of the leading conspiracy theorists of the CIA-leak case. “The Plame leak in Novak’s column has long been cited by Bush administration critics as a deliberate act of payback, orchestrated to punish and/or discredit Joe Wilson after he charged that the Bush administration had misled the American public about the prewar intelligence,” Corn and Isikoff write. “The Armitage news does not fit neatly into that framework.”


Apparently the authors said that with no notion of irony considering that Corn himself was front-and-center in the chorus of critics who claimed the leak was "evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent."

The Wall Street Journal notes how the State Department acted against the President's own interest in discovering and unmasking the leaker and how that disloyalty is merely part of a pattern within the State Department:

. . . according to the Corn-Isikoff book, Mr. Armitage never did tell the White House or his boss, the President, that he was the leaker. Instead, in October 2003 he told Mr. Powell, who told the State Department general counsel, who in turn told the Justice Department but gave the White House Counsel only the sketchiest overview of what he'd learned and didn't mention Mr. Armitage's name. So while Mr. Fitzgerald presumably knew when he began his probe two months later that Mr. Armitage was Mr. Novak's source, the President himself was apparently kept in the dark, even as he was pledging publicly to find out who the leaker was.

At a minimum, there appears to be a serious question of disloyalty here. By keeping silent, Messrs. Powell and Armitage let the President take political heat for the case, while also letting Mr. Rove, Mr. Libby and other White House officials twist in the wind for more than two years. We also know that it was the folks in Mr. Powell's shop--including his former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson and intelligence officer Carl Ford Jr.--who did so much to trash John Bolton's nomination to be Ambassador to the U.N. in 2005. The State Department clique that Mr. Bush tolerated for so long did tremendous damage to his Administration.


What a fiasco. Worse yet, the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald knew immediately upon his appointment the identity of Novak's source:

So in October 2003 the investigation began. FBI agents quickly talked to Armitage, Rove, and others. And guess what? Armitage told the FBI that he was Novak’s source. And Rove told the FBI that he was Novak’s secondary source (that is, he had confirmed what Novak had already learned from Armitage). Within days of beginning the investigation, the Justice Department had answered the question that started it.

Things should have stopped right there. FBI investigators knew who the leakers were; they knew that no one had violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or any other national-security law; and they knew there had been no White House conspiracy to attack a critic. Yet then–attorney general John Ashcroft, apparently afraid of the political repercussions of doing the right thing, allowed the investigation to go forward. He recused himself and handed the case over to top Justice Department official James Comey, who then also bowed to political pressure and appointed his friend Patrick Fitzgerald — already busy with his job as the U.S. attorney in Chicago — to head the probe.


In other words, Ashcroft refused to take the proper course of action due to political fallout and appearance of impropriety, sought to insulate himself and the Justice Department from conflict-of-interest accusations and approved the independent counsel who has wasted millions in taxpayer dollars to find that no crime occurred. Genius.

As I noted before, this whole mess was just a Democrat witchhunt, led by liars (Wilson), fanned on by the Left, and abetted by backstabbers (State Dept.). And it was all much ado about nothing, as John Tierney said best.

Welfare Reform at 10

Ten years ago Bill Clinton signed the highly controversial welfare reform bill which was a very good piece of legislation which also incidentally helped gut any chance that Bob Dole would be able to unseat him that fall.

The Wall Street Journal reminds us rather than the beginning of the end as the bill's many vocal critics charged it is much accurately described as Apocalypse Not.

Welfare reform turned 10 this week, and more remarkable than its near-total success is the near-total amnesia that seems to have gripped its one-time opponents.
...
When Bill Clinton signed the bill ending a federal entitlement to welfare, a leading liberal newspaper called it "nasty," "atrocious" and "odious"--adding with typical nuance that "the children will suffer the most." Three Clinton Administration officials resigned over the bill. Georgia Congressman John Lewis not too subtly raised the specter of fascism as he literally screamed on the House floor, "They're coming for the children. They're coming for the poor. They're coming for the sick, the elderly and the disabled." Even as sensible a social scientist as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan lost his head and called it "something approaching an apocalypse."

The real story has been apocalypse not. Welfare reform has worked so well that its success runs the risk of going almost unnoticed. Welfare rolls are down to about two million today from a peak of five million in 1995. The last time welfare caseloads were this low was 1970, when America had 100 million fewer citizens. But what about the children? The rate of black children living in poverty in America was more than 40% in 1996 and stands at 32% today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In the 25 years prior to welfare reform, that number had only briefly ever dipped below 40% and stood as high as 47% in 1980.
...
The late Senator Moynihan is famous for having said that culture, not politics, is the key to changing most human behavior, and that the job of politics is to help nudge the culture in the right direction. Welfare reform worked because it was rooted in that wisdom, and in a basic understanding of human incentives. Support life on the dole, or reward having multiple children without a husband, and any society will develop a culture of dependency. That is where the U.S. was headed under the liberal ethos that compassion means sparing Americans of their individual responsibility to work and provide for their families.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"I am willing to die to do God's work"

and that makes me better than you.

Shelby Steele argues persuasively that this line of thinking is the essence of what animates radical Islamists.

...[H]ere, from the Muslim world, comes an unappeasable hatred that seems to exist for its own sake, a hatred with very little actual reference to those it claims to hate. Even the fighting of Islamic terrorist groups is oddly self-referential, fighting not for territory or treasure but for the fighting itself.
...
All this follows the familiar pattern of a very old vice: anti-Semitism. The anti-Semite is always drawn to the hatred of Jews by his own unacknowledged inadequacy. As Sartre says in his great essay on the subject, the anti-Semite "is a man who is afraid. Not of Jews of course, but of himself." By hating Jews, he asserts that his own group represents the kind of human being that God truly wants. His group is God's archetype, the only authentic humanity, already complete and superior. No striving or self-reflection is necessary. If Jews are superior in some ways, it is only out of their alienated striving, their exile from God's grace.
For the anti-Semite, hating and fighting Jews is both self-affirmation and a way of doing God's work.
...
Hatred and murder are self-realization because they impart grandeur to Islamic extremists--the sense of being God's chosen warrior in God's great cause. Hatred delivers the extremist to a greatness that compensates for his ineffectuality in the world. Jews and infidels are irrelevant except that they offer occasion to hate and, thus, to experience grandiosity. This is why Hezbollah--Party of God--can take no territory and still claim to have won. The grandiosity is in the hating and fighting, not the victory.


And the arrant stupidity of the Western left which over the decades have infected polite discourse with ideas like moral relativism and multiculturalism makes it very difficult to us to understand the nature of our enemy. After all, it's the WHITE MANS' FAULT for his history of being the OPPRESSOR.

White guilt in the West--especially in Europe and on the American left--confuses all this by seeing Islamic extremism as a response to oppression. The West is so terrified of being charged with its old sins of racism, imperialism and colonialism that it makes oppression an automatic prism on the non-Western world, a politeness.
...
And this works in today's world because the oppression script is so familiar and because American power cringes when labeled with sins of the white Western past. Yet whenever the left does this, it makes room for extremism by lending legitimacy to its claim of oppression.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

American Presbyterians provide portable nutcake

The Presbyterian Church of the United States has an official printing house. That publisher has released a 9-11 conspiracy book that says President Bush is at the root of the plan that brought down the WTC five years ago. And not just 9-11: just about every event that led to US participation in a war (other than World War I and II) was part of a US "false flag" operation designed by imperialist power players in the US government to further US imperial ambitions.

And of course the neocons' war aims are exactly what Bush and Cheney sought to achieve with 9-11 -- in other words, the Jews factor into all this.

I expect to get a comment from Oyster on this, but the Presbys' leadership is nuts. So are a number of Episcopals and Methodists, as evidenced from the supportive blurbs by prominent Episcopal theologians, a Methodist theologian and the author himself (a Methodist). What an embarrassment for American Protestants.

Judging bad judges

Ann Althouse, a professor at the (extremely liberal) University of Wisconsin at Madison torches Judge Anna Diggs Taylor in today's NY Times. Her basic point: what's the point of having judges if they won't even try to work within the rule of law. Some excerpts:

So often, we’ve heard complaints about “activist” judges. They’re suspected of deciding what outcome they want, based on their own personal or ideological preferences, and then writing a legalistic, neutral-sounding opinion to cover up what they’ve done. That carefully composed legal opinion makes it somewhat hard for a judge’s critics to convince people . . . that the judge did not decide the case according to an unbiased legal method of analysis.

So perhaps the oddest thing about Judge Taylor’s opinion in the eavesdropping case is that she didn’t bother to come up with the verbiage that normally cushions us from these suspicions. Although the first half of the opinion, dealing with the state secrets doctrine and the first part of the standing doctrine, has the usual detail and structure one expects in a judicial opinion, the remainder of her text dispenses with the formalities.

Immensely difficult matters of First and Fourth Amendment law, separation of powers, and the relationship between the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Authorization for Use of Military Force are disposed of in short sections that jump from assorted quotations of old cases to conclusory assertions of illegality. Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington, told The Times that the section on the Fourth Amendment is “just a few pages of general ruminations . . . much of it incomplete and some of it simply incorrect.”


At least other judges who have simply whiffed on cases have had the intelligence and the wisdom to at least SEEM like they are applying the law -- see Judge Shira Scheindlin's opinion in the Maurice Clarett v. National Football League case. Judge Taylor didn't even attempt to disguise her political motives, which is a breach of public confidence in her judicial ability. More Althouse:

. . . The public may have become so used to the notion that a judge’s word is what counts that it forgets why this is true. The judges have this constitutional power only because they operate by a judicial method that restricts them to resolving concrete controversies and requires them to interpret the relevant constitutional and statutory texts and to reason within the tradition of the case law.

This system works only if the judges suppress their personal and political willfulness and take on the momentous responsibility to embody the rule of law. They should not reach out for opportunities to make announcements of law, but handle the real cases that have been filed.

* * *
If the words of the written opinion reveal that the judge did not follow the discipline of the judicial process, what sense does it make to take the judge’s word about what the law means over the word of the president? If the judge’s own writing does not support a belief that the rule of law has substance and depth, that law is something apart from political will, the significance of saying the president has gone beyond the limits of the law evaporates.

Detroit's Federal Judges -- a law unto themselves

Tom Bray sheds some light on two liberal Detroit judges, the now-infamous Anna Diggs Taylor and one of her colleagues. The truth is not pretty.

At least one smart move . . .

The State Department has revoked all Defense Export Licenses to Venezuela. That means that all exports or other transfers of defense technology, items and services to Venezuela are banned unless the seller/transporter gets special permission to send the products or services to Venezuela. There's more, from 71 Fed. Reg. 47554:
In addition, U.S. manufacturers and exporters, and any other affected parties (e.g., brokers) are hereby notified that the Department of State has revoked all licenses and approvals authorizing the export of or other transfers of defense articles or services to Venezuela. Revocation extends to the deletion of Venezuela from any manufacturing license or technical assistance agreement involving Venezuela,
including any agreement that has Venezuela as a sales territory. This action also precludes the use in connection with Venezuela of any exemptions from licensing or other approval requirements included in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) (22 CFR parts 120–130), with the exception of the license exemptions at section 123.17 of the ITAR for exports of firearms and ammunition to Venezuela when for personal use by individuals (not for resale or retransfer, including to the Government of Venezuela) and the firearms will be returned to the United States.

So we finally have some governmental recognition of the threat from Venezuela.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Road to Hell

We may be taking a big step on it today. Iran has officially replied to the latest package of incentives from the West to the United Nations. It hasn't been made public yet but it is highly doubtful that it will be pleasing to anyone except a damned fool like Kofi Annan.

It is probable now that the West will let North Korea and Iran manufacture and possess nuclear weapons. The danger isn't that they will use them - it's that these weapons will be quietly distributed to Hezbollah and al Qaeda. Here's the always eloquent Thomas Sowell:

Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.

This is not just another in the long history of military threats. The Soviet Union, despite its massive nuclear arsenal, could be deterred by our own nuclear arsenal. But suicide bombers cannot be deterred.

Fanatics filled with hate cannot be either deterred or bought off, whether Hezbollah, Hamas or the government of Iran.

The endlessly futile efforts to bring peace to the Middle East with concessions fundamentally misconceive what forces are at work.

Hate and humiliation are key forces that cannot be bought off by "trading land for peace," by a "Palestinian homeland" or by other such concessions that might have worked in other times and places.

Humiliation and hate go together. Why humiliation? Because a once-proud, dynamic culture in the forefront of world civilizations, and still carrying a message of their own superiority to "infidels" today, is painfully visible to the whole world as a poverty-stricken and backward region, lagging far behind in virtually every field of human endeavor.
...
What kind of people provide a market for videotaped beheadings of innocent hostages? What kind of people would throw an old man in a wheelchair off a cruise liner into the sea, simply because he was Jewish? What kind of people would fly planes into buildings to vent their hate at the cost of their own lives?
...
Even ruthless conquerors of the past, from Genghis Khan to Adolf Hitler, wanted some tangible gains for themselves or their nations -- land, wealth, dominion. What Middle East fanatics want is the destruction and humiliation of the west.

Their treatment of hostages, some of whom have been humanitarians serving the people of the Middle East, shows that what the terrorists want is to inflict the maximum pain and psychic anguish on their victims before killing them.
...
After we, or our children and grandchildren, find ourselves living at the mercy of people with no mercy, what will future generations think of us, that we let this happen because we wanted to placate "world opinion" by not acting "unilaterally"?


Sadly there is no appetite to take on either North Korea or Iran. I bet there is also no appetite to declare to the Iran and North Korea a standing promise that any nuclear attack on the United States will result in massive retaliation on BOTH countries - which might make them much more responsible for their bombs.

Will the Europeans be unhappy? I'd bet not - they are probably thinking:

"The Islamists will only hit Israel and the United States - what's the harm in that?"

Monday, August 21, 2006

An end to the suspense?

The Monk maintained radio silence over the weekend even after the Yanks won the doubleheader from the RedSawx on Friday and thwacked them again on Saturday for a simple reason: I've been there before. I watched the 2004 ALCS; indeed, I predicted the Yanks' demise in the second inning of game 5 in an email to a buddy who is one of my former lieutenants when I was the sports editor of the Cavalier Daily.

Indeed, despite the mini-elation that one friend felt before yesternight's game, and the increased whining of my boss (who has that strange congenital defect that renders him a RedSux fan), The Monk knew full well that the hard work of games 1-3 would be significantly diminished if the Yanks lost games 4 and 5 because they'd gain, in total, just one game in the standings -- turning a 1.5 game lead into 2.5. So in the wake of last night's game, The Monk can safely feel a bit pleased that when the Yanks leave Fenway today they will increase their AL East lead to at least 4.5 games, after trying to honk most of it away earlier last week. No, that doesn't seal the AL East -- there are nearly 40 games left this season; in 1978, the Yanks rolled after the Boston Massacre to take a 3.5 game lead with 15 to play (14 for the Sawx) only to end up tied at the end of the season as the RedSaaaaks surged (12-2) and the Yanks played adequately (9-6). And that surge started when the Sux took the last game of a three-game set in the Bronx in mid-September, which the Soax will do today if Cory Lidle continues to need a map to find the strike zone (and the Yanks aren't going hard for the kill -- Damon, Posada and Giambi have the day off; Jeter is DH).

That said, there are at least a few notable items regarding this series. First, the failure of the Bastin bullpen, especially Mike Timlin. Throughout his career in Beanheadtown, Timlin has been a Yankee killer (especially Bernie Williams, who can't hit him, period). In this series, he's failed to find the strike zone, and been smacked when he actually gets one over the plate. The Yankees are hitting solid fastballs better than they have for years -- the rep used to be that the Yanks could be beaten with good, sharp two- and four-seamers. This year, the Yanks are hitting good heat better than they have for years.

Second, the failure of Terry Francona. No string that Francona pulled went awry in 2004, but he made a huge mistake yesterday -- failing to send a rested Papelbon in to start the 8th. Papelbon worked out of the bases loaded, none out jam he inherited with only minimal damage (a Giambi sac fly that just missed going out), but had thrown nearly 30 pitches by then. When a more tired Papelbon laid a flat fastball to Melky Cabrera, the Yank whacked it and ended up scoring to tie the game. This was the two-inning save situation from the time Schilling took a seat after seven solid innings, but Francona diddled around with Timlin and lefty Javier Lopez (yeah, the Sawx have two -- relief pitcher and catcher), and had to use Papelbon after the Yanks had dictated the move. By contrast, Torre managed aggressively by keeping Proctor in to pitch the 8th and having Rivera start the 9th even though the Yanks had not gained the lead (baseball's proverbial "Book" says only bring in the closer once you take the lead if you're the road team -- living by the Book killed Torre and the Yanks in game 4 of the 2003 WS).

It's not over. But both the Yanks and Sawx knew Friday morning that if anyone lost this series badly, that team would have a hard time making up ground on the West Coast (where both teams head tonight) and thereafter (Yanks have to play Minnesota and Detroit; the Chisax go to Bahstin). That's the RedStiff reality now.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Judge Taylor decision fallout

Hopefully, there will not be any. Immediately after her ruling, the DoJ appealed and the ruling is stayed pending review by the Sixth Circuit.

The Monk did want to highlight a couple of things in her honor's opinion. The Baseball Crank said it "reads like a parody of bad judicial reasoning." That's a charitable explanation.

First, the Plaintiffs in the case basically admit that they are communicating with potential terrorists -- as Taylor's footnote 7 indicates:
. . . in a Declaration, attorney Nancy Hollander stated that she frequently engages in international communications with individuals who have alleged connections with terrorist organizations. Attorney William Swor also provided a similar declaration. Journalist Tara McKelvey declared that she has international communications with sources who are suspected of helping the insurgents in Iraq.

So Taylor essentially holds that a person may coordinate terrorist activities and the United States acts unconstitutionally by monitoring those communications that go outside US borders. How? She says the information gathering is "obviously in violation of the Fourth Amendment." Let's see, Fourth Amendment rights require a reasonable expectation of privacy violated by an unreasonable search and/or seizure. So she implicitly holds that the terrorist coordinators have a reasonable expectation of privacy on the phone, that's arguable. She also implicitly holds the government's surveillance is unreasonable, that's untenable -- the surveillance was limited to calls going into the US from other nations or originating in the US and going to other nations. The government has the inherent authority to police its borders, regardless of how they are crossed (thus, no flight can cross US airspace without approval of the FAA; if such approval is not obtained, the FAA is within its rights under US and international law to force the plane down).

This is not a legal decision by the judge, it's a political one. Here's the paradigm that proves my point:
The Government appears to argue here that, pursuant to the penumbra of Constitutional language in Article II, and particularly because the President is designated Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, he has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution, itself.

That statement needs analysis.

That's not an honest characterization of the Government's position, the law or the way our system works, it's a DailyKos talking point. The notion that the Government claimed Presidential authority to violate the Constitution is risible, unworthy of a judge with intellectual integrity and unwarranted.

Moreover, what is a "law of Congress"? It is an irrelevancy -- there are no laws of Congress. The United States Code is made up of laws of the United States. Congressional bills do not become laws until and unless either the President signs them or the President vetoes them and Congress overrides the veto. This is Schoolhouse Rock material that my 8-year old niece can understand.

But Taylor's use of the phrase "laws of the Congress" is itself revealing. This is a concept that has gained many adherents on the Left -- Congress passes laws, Presidents merely execute them. Thus, Congress is like a Parliament and the President is merely some manner of errand boy. It makes the laws and the President's job is mechanical. The President cannot execute laws in any way other than how Congress intended them to be executed. That notion itself is at odds with history and the Constitution.

The President's job is to ensure that the laws of the United States are "faithfully executed." That faithful execution is NOT referable to the will of Congress. Instead, the President's job is to ensure the laws of the United States are faithfully executed in accordance with the President's oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. The President does not answer to Congress, he answers to the nation and must do so in accordance with the Constitution, not Congressional will. This is basic civics, but it eludes entirely too many judges and "academics". Evidently that list includes Judge Taylor.

She did her position, her court and the nation a disservice with this opinion because of what her analysis was, not just because of her conclusion.

"The Bill of Rights is not a suicide pact."

Federal judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the US District Court in Detroit would well to dwell upon these words of legendary Associate Justice and Nuremberg prosecutor Robert Jackson.

Jackson dissented in Terminiello vs. Chicago (1949) where the majority opinion overturned the disorderly conduct conviction of a priest whose anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi rantings at a rally had incited a riot. The court held that Chicago's breach-of-the-peace ordinance violated the First Amendment.

Jackson wrote:

"The choice is not between order and liberty. It is between liberty with order and anarchy without either. There is danger that, if the court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact."


According to the NY Times, Judge Taylor wrote today that:

“It was never the intent of the framers to give the president such unfettered control, particularly when his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights,” “The three separate branches of government were developed as a check and balance for one another.”
...
[the plaintiffs] “are stifled in their ability to vigorously conduct research, interact with sources, talk with clients and, in the case of the attorney plaintiffs, uphold their oath of providing effective and ethical representation of their clients.”

Judge Taylor ruled that it violated not only the 1978 law, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, but also the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

The president also violated the Constitution’s separation of powers doctrines, Judge Taylor ruled. Neither a September 2001 Congressional authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda nor the president’s inherent constitutional powers allow him to violate the 1978 law or the Fourth Amendment, she said.

“There are no hereditary kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution,” she wrote, rejecting what she called the administration’s assertion that the president “has been granted the inherent power to violate not only the laws of the Congress but the First and Fourth Amendments of the Constitution itself.”


Hereditary kings?? A bit of grandstanding by Judge Taylor, who was a Carter supporter and appointee.

The NSA warrantless wiretapping program is narrow and legal. The FISA Court of Review ruled on this in 2002. Byron York's explanation is excellent:

The three judges made up what is known as the FISA Court of Review. It was created in 1978 by the now-famous Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The act required that the president go to the so-called FISA Court to seek a warrant for surveillance in top-secret foreign-intelligence cases. For any disputed decisions that might arise, Congress also created the Court of Review, a sort of super-secret appeals court.
...
The conflict began with the passage of the Patriot Act in October 2001. The act tore down the "wall" that had arisen in the Justice Department that blocked intelligence officials and criminal investigators from working together and sharing information. That wall had been cemented by a set of internal department guidelines written in 1995, in which then–attorney general Janet Reno outlined the department's constricted surveillance procedures.

The Patriot Act was designed to fix that problem. But a month after the act was passed, when the Justice Department submitted surveillance requests to the FISA Court under the new, looser standards passed by Congress, the FISA Court in effect rejected the Patriot Act, and instead reaffirmed the old 1995 Clinton-era standard.
...
In its opinion, the Court of Review said the FISA Court had, in effect, attempted to unilaterally impose the old 1995 rules. "In doing so, the FISA Court erred," the ruling read. "It did not provide any constitutional basis for its action—we think there is none—and misconstrued the main statutory provision on which it relied." The FISA Court, according to the ruling, "refus[ed] to consider the legal significance of the Patriot Act's crucial amendments" and "may well have exceeded the constitutional bounds" governing the courts by asserting "authority to govern the internal organization and investigative procedures of the Department of Justice."

And then the Court of Review did one more thing, something that has repercussions in today's surveillance controversy. Not only could the FISA Court not tell the president how do to his work, the Court of Review said, but the president also had the "inherent authority" under the Constitution to conduct needed surveillance without obtaining any warrant—from the FISA Court or anyone else. Referring to an earlier case, known as Truong, which dealt with surveillance before FISA was passed, the Court of Review wrote: "The Truong court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. . . . We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional power."

Essentially the FISA Court of Review said that President has the inherent CONSTITUTIONAL authority to conduct searches involving foreign persons and/or intelligence and that FISA cannot limit this power. Moreover, the Patriot Act, designed to protect the United States gives the executive more discretion. So, on the basis of the Constitution - as interpreted by the Court of Review - (the Supreme Court declined the subsequent appeal) and the Patriot Act, warrantless surveillance of domestic - foreign communications (and vice versa) is legal. And prudent.

In a clash of civilizations where the enemy is ruthless and implacable handicapping oneself is sanctimonious suicide but the Left seems to fear much more the possible abuse of power by a Republican president than a dozen airliners blown out of the sky.

UPDATE (by The Monk):

Judge Taylor is by no means a judicial heavyweight. When district judges have been on the bench for 27 years and never been bumped up to a circuit court seat, there's something amiss. In the case of the Sixth Circuit (Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky), her lack of promotion is a red flag that she's not a good judge by any stretch considering that the Sixth Circuit has been below capacity since the Clinton years and Judge Taylor had ample time (1979-1993) to prove her worth as a circuit court judge to the next Democrat to hold the presidency after Carter. Promoting a predecessor's district court appointees to circuit court seats is relatively routine (in The Monk's home circuit, the Fifth, Judges Higginbotham, Davis, Garza, Clement and Prado all were appointed district judges by one president [Ford, Reagan, Bush pere] and appointed circuit judges by a successor in the same party [Reagan, Bush pere, Bush fils]).

The Monk also notes that the case's location in eastern Michigan shows the nature of the ACLU's politics -- the highest concentration of Arab emigres is in the Detroit area, especially Dearborn.

For reasoned legal commentary on the ridiculousness of the "unreasonable search and seizure" finding by Judge Taylor and her opinion as a whole, see this column by Bryan Cunningham, who has served as legal counsel in the CIA, as a federal prosecutor under Clinton and as a legal advisor to the National Security Council under Pres. Bush.

For sharp commentary on the public policy intentions that her honor seems to have had for this opinion, see this column in the WSJ.

The Baseball Crank has a long post on this too that is worth reading.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Irreversible loss of faith in Pres. Bush?

The Monk is approaching that point.

Simply stated, the President's heart is in the right place, but his head is out to lunch. One reason is The Monk's first rule of delegation: your orders are only as effective as the person who carries them out.

Another reason is The Monk's first rule of (modern) Republicans: GOP members who seek positive media coverage must abandon their principles to obtain it.

Let's see how these principles work in real life, in reverse order.

(1) Disarming Iran: this is a complete failure and has been since the plan to use the "EU-3" as negotiators to get Iran to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions. The Bush Administration acquiesced to the media's and international arena's demand to not "go it alone" on this issue, with one caveat: if the talks fail, the US will do what it deems necessary to keep the nukes away from the Iranians. The talks failed, as The Monk knew they would. But the Bush Administration has poured gasoline on this fire:
The Bush administration is offering Iran a diplomatic package including cooperation on civil aviation, increased international trade and investment, and agricultural and telecommunications assistance. The package’s most stunning provisions, though, are nuclear. These include building Iran more “state of the art” power and research reactors, assuring a “buffer stock of up to 5 years supply of nuclear fuel,” and suspending “discussion of Iran’s nuclear program at the U.N. Security Council.”

Wow. Now the Iranians can party as if they were North Koreans in 1994!

(2) This is at least as bad and shows the problem with the delegation principle. And Exhibit 1 as the poor delegate is Secretary Rice. This quote [HT: LGF] would be laughable if the subject matter were not so serious.
"I don’t think there is an expectation that this [UN] force is going to physically disarm Hezbollah," Rice told USA Today. "I think it’s a little bit of a misreading about how you disarm a militia. You have to have a plan, first of all, for the disarmament of the militia, and then the hope is that some people lay down their arms voluntarily."

If Hezbollah resists international demands to disarm, Rice said, "one would have to assume that there will be others who are willing to call Hezbollah what we are willing to call it, which is a terrorist organization."

Yes, calling Hizb'allah a terrorist organization is EXACTLY the prescription for neutering it. When that's true, there will be barbecue pig roasts in Mecca.

When I filled in the circle for Bush in the PRESIDENT box of my ballot two years ago, I must have misread something. Or else Bush is merely Texanspeak for "Clinton".

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Bruno Kirby, 1949-2006

Joe Pantoliano became the everyman/street-smart/New York Italian/sidekick/comic relief character who pops up in films and TV shows and whom every viewer knows on sight. He has comic timing and the ability to act in a drama. But Joey Pants is just a follower in this historical march, the real trailblazer of the New York Italian sidekick cast member who transcended stereotype was the man born Bruno Giovanni Quidaciolu Jr., better known as Bruno Kirby.

Kirby was the quintessential supporting actor -- one with great comic timing, dramatic ability and presence. His appearance in a movie would be notable and the character memorable in some fashion. Indeed, few second-fiddles could handle or deliver on the dramatic apex of his role in City Slickers, the description of his "best day" -- the day he stood up to the father he sought to admire and stopped that abuser from terrorizing his family -- and his answer when asked what was his worst day ever: "that same day."

Kirby's two most well-known roles are probably as Billy Crystal's buddy in City Slickers and When Harry Met Sally. His entre into steady film work came in The Godfather, Part II, playing young Clemenza, one of young Vito Corleone's (Robert DeNiro) friends in the Prohibition-era New York where Corleone got his start. Thereafter Kirby worked steadily on small parts until a true breakthrough as the frequently flummoxed Lt. Hauk in Good Morning Vietnam. His association with another multiple-Oscar nominated movie, and work as a fine straight man with Robin Williams, led to his roles in Crystal's two-best films.

There's not much public information about Kirby -- he did not flaunt stardom nor seem to revel in the limelight. He seems to have had the will and ability to avoid the worst Hollywood troubles: drugs, alcohol, bimbo-eruptions. His IMDB biography is comically sparse for an actor with such a credits list.

At age 55, Kirby settled down and became married for the first time, to Lynn Sellers. And, perhaps typically, his death was only announced a few hours ago even though he died Monday from a quick but fatal bout with leukemia.

Bruno Kirby, RIP.

Chipping away the Mossad's veneer

Since Israel's inception, the Mossad has been one of the most effective and fearsome intelligence agencies in the world. More comparable in its capabilities, expertise, dirty tricks operations and success rate to the KGB than any Western espionage group, the word "Mossad" was feared in Arab nations until about 1997, when a colossal blunder forced Israel to make a public relations move and release 70 Hamas terrorists, including Sheikh Yassin (who the Israelis later killed in a targeted assassination).

Mossad's real-time intelligence failures, at the least, harmed Israel's recent efforts in Lebanon. But The Monk agrees with General McInerney (click title for article) that Israel politically failed to execute its plans against Hizb'Allah. But the Mossad's failures only hurt.

Hizb'Allah's victory

Iran is helping cement Hizb'Allah's victory over Israel with money. That's the MONEY that HIZB'ALLAH is publicly USING to repair LEBANON -- in other words, to buy GOODWILL.

And Sheikh Nasrallah gave a publicly televised victory speech discussing the work that Hizb'Allah would do to repair Lebanese homes.

Sheik Nasrallah’s speech was interpreted by some as a kind of watershed in Lebanese politics, establishing his group on an equal footing with the official government.

“It was a coup d’├ętat,” said Jad al-Akjaoui, a political analyst aligned with the democratic reform bloc. He was among the organizers of the anti-Syrian demonstrations after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri two years ago that led to international pressure to rid Lebanon of 15 years of Syrian control.

Rami G. Khouri, a columnist for The Daily Star in Beirut, wrote that Sheik Nasrallah “seemed to take on the veneer of a national leader rather than the head of one group in Lebanon’s rich mosaic of political parties.”

“In tone and content, his remarks seemed more like those of a president or a prime minister should be making while addressing the nation after a terrible month of destruction and human suffering,” Mr. Khouri wrote. “His prominence is one of the important political repercussions of this war.”

Defense Minister Elias Murr said Tuesday that the government would not seek to disarm Hezbollah.

“The army is not going to the south to strip the Hezbollah of its weapons and do the work that Israel did not,” he said, showing just how difficult reining in the militia will most likely be in the coming weeks and months. He added that “the resistance,” meaning Hezbollah, had been cooperating with the government and there was no need to confront it.


This is a complete and unmitigated disaster. Olmert's mismanagement of Israel's incursion gets worse by the day. Israeli lives will be lost because the IDF, the Mossad and the Israeli politicians failed Israel.

Venezuela's Walesa? Here's hoping so . . .

More missed opportunities from the mainstream media regarding an important story -- the escape from prison of Carlos Ortega, one of the loudest voices in Venezuela protesting the creeping despotism of Hugo Chavez. Ortega led a strike of the workers at Venezuela's state oil company in 2002-03 to protest Chavez's interference with the workers' unionization attempts. Sound familiar? Lech Walesa led a similar revolt in Poland.

Chavez had Ortega thrown into maximum security prison for 16 years. That's SIXTEEN years of the toughest Venezuelan prison confinement for protesting Chavez's politics.

Ortega just escaped. Hopefully the fun starts now, and the decline and fall of Chavez will follow.

Mike Wallace, useful idiot

From Jeff Jacoby, a takedown of Mike Wallace's "no holds barred" interview with Iranian nutcake President Ahmadinejad.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

9-11 to 8-16?

German authorities are checking into a possible connection between a member of the Hamburg(istan) terror cell that worked with Mohammed Atta on the 9-11-01 attacks and the plot that MI-5 and Special Branch foiled in the UK last week. The connection is Said Bahaji, the Hamburgistani's computer geek who fled to Pakistan from Hamburg before the 9-11 attacks after being alerted by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The Times of London report is here.

For an FBI-5

Judge Richard Posner is always worth reading. He is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana) and one of the most influential jurists in the history of the United States. Two years ago he wrote a dissection of the 9-11 Commission Report that is still worth reading today. Two months ago, he lauded the performance of the Canadian CSIS in stopping a terror plot in Toronto.

Judge Posner is the most notable proponent of developing a US-equivalent to Her Majesty's Security Service, also known as MI-5. The reason is simple: counterintelligence/counterespionage and criminal investigation are so different, and require such different skills, that an agency that seeks to do both will not excel at either. And the FBI is poor at counterespionage. Here's Posner's core reasoning:

. . . We do not have a counterpart to MI5. This is a serious gap in our defenses. Primary responsibility for national security intelligence has been given to the FBI. The bureau is a criminal investigation agency. Its orientation is toward arrest and prosecution rather than toward the patient gathering of intelligence with a view to understanding and penetrating a terrorist network.

The bureau's tendency, consistent with its culture of arrest and prosecution, is to continue an investigation into a terrorist plot just long enough to obtain enough evidence to arrest and prosecute a respectable number of plotters. The British tend to wait and watch longer so that they can learn more before moving against plotters.

The FBI's approach means that small fry are easily caught but that any big shots who might have been associated with them quickly scatter. The arrests and prosecutions warn terrorists concerning the methods and information of the FBI. Bureaucratic risk aversion also plays a part; prompt arrests ensure that members of the group won't escape the FBI's grasp and commit terrorist attacks. But without some risk-taking, the prospect of defeating terrorism is slight.

MI5, in contrast to the FBI (and to Scotland Yard's Special Branch, with which MI5 works), has no arrest powers and no responsibilities for criminal investigation, and it has none of the institutional hang-ups that go with such responsibilities. Had the British authorities proceeded in the FBI way -- rather than continuing the investigation until virtually the last minute, which enabled them to roll up (with Pakistan's help) more than 40 plotters -- most of the conspirators might still be at large, and the exact nature and danger of the plot might not have been discovered. We need our own MI5, not to supplant but to supplement the FBI.


Read the whole thing.

Olmert's head

The Cassandra of Israeltm, Caroline Glick, calls for PM Ehud Olmert's head today. His handling of the response to Hizb'allah's act of war has been incredibly incompetent and will cost many Israeli lives in the coming years. Here are some excerpts from her well-argued column:

Diplomatically, in the space of five weeks the government managed to undermine Israel's alliance with America; to hand Syria, Hizbullah and Iran the greatest diplomatic achievements they have ever experienced; and to flush down the toilet the unprecedented international support that US President Bush handed to Israel on a silver platter at the G-8 summit.

The UN cease-fire that Olmert, Livni and Peretz applaud undercuts Israel's sovereignty; protects Hizbullah; lets Iran and Syria off the hook; lends credibility to our enemies' belief that Israel can be destroyed; emboldens the Palestinians to launch their next round of war; and leaves IDF hostages Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev in captivity.


A government that goes to war to achieve a specific goal -- return of IDF soldiers taken as hostages and to send the message that such kidnappings would have the severest consequences -- and agrees to a "peace" that completely fails to accomplish that objective is a loser, period. The Olmert government lost this war. Worse yet, its decision to agree to the "ceasefire" whilst allowing the IDF soldiers to remain captives legitimizes the illegitimate concept that the soldiers are prisoners of war of an enemy combatant.

More from Glick, who rips the Israeli Foreign Minister (who has received some of the better press in the US and Israel during the past five weeks):

Israel's diplomatic maneuvers were cut to fit the size of our Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni who believes that her job is limited to being nice to other foreign ministers when they call her up on the telephone. In an interview with Yediot Aharonot over the weekend, Livni defended her decision not to engage in public diplomacy by claiming that this is not an important enough task for the foreign minister. It makes sense that this would be her view because as one who understands neither diplomacy nor English, she is incapable of conducting public diplomacy.

Livni argued that the job of the foreign minister is "to create diplomatic processes" - whatever that means. She also claimed that the best way to gain international support is not by publicly arguing Israel's case, but through back door discussions devoted to developing good relations with other foreign ministers. This is ridiculous. The job of the foreign minister is to defend Israel and advance Israel's national interests to foreigners, not to be their friend.


Livni is evidently an awful choice for another reason, she doesn't speak English. Do not underestimate the importance of understanding and fluency in English to an Israeli FM or diplomat -- it allows them to directly communicate with the large and assimilated Jewish communities in the US and UK, and allows them to seem less "foreign" and less "Jewish" to US and UK diplomats, few of whom have any pro-Israel leanings. There's a reason former PM Binyamin Netanyahu is more popular in the US than in Israel -- his ability to communicate publicly in flawless English made him the best face of Israel during his tenure as ambassador and FM in the '90s.

Glick's completely right on another issue, world perception:

Iran has been emboldened. Its success in the war is now being used by the ayatollahs to support their claim of leadership over the Arab world. In evidence of Iran's success, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met in Cairo with Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. So now, after 27 years of official estrangement, Egypt is moving towards establishing full diplomatic relations with Teheran.

The Palestinians have been emboldened. Hamas leaders and spokesmen are openly stating that just as Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 precipitated the Palestinian terror war in September 2000, so Israel's current defeat in Lebanon will spur the outbreak of a new Palestinian terror war against Israel today.

THE AMERICANS have lost faith in Israel as an ally. After he gave Israel every opportunity to win this war, even signaling clearly that Israel should feel free to go as far as Beirut if necessary, President Bush was convinced that Olmert simply didn't want to fight. The Americans were shocked by Israel's performance. They know that we can win when we set our mind to it and were flummoxed when presented with an Israeli leadership that refused to even try.


Overall, the call for Olmert's head is more than justified.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I take it all back, Derek

The Monk just watched Nine Innings from Ground Zero again. Upon further review, everything I ever said about Derek Jeter stretching from the wrong foot on that bad bunt back to the mound that turned into an error -- I take it back. Jeter was on the correct foot. Rivera's throw just stank.

By the way, if you've never seen it, Nine Innings from Ground Zero is an absolutely fantastic documentary about the Yankees, New York City, the NYPD, the FDNY and the 9-11 families. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Today's sign of the apocalypse


Follow the link to find out why this picture was rejected as a passport photo. Some thoughts are just daft.

HT: King Lizardoid.

Bush Doctrine, RIP?

Is the Bush Doctrine dead? Norman Podhoretz says no. His is the optimism that comes with living through the Truman Doctrine from its inception to its culmination during the Reagan Presidency. That optimism may be misplaced, but Podhoretz is always worth a read.

Israel loses, Hizb'Allah wins

Once again, Israel is poised to lose a peace agreement, but this time it will do so after failing to win the war. This is a complete disaster, and the responsibility for it falls squarely on the shoulders of Ehud Olmert and the Israeli government for handling a war as if it were a precious crystal -- gently and with fear of breakage. See this perspicacious Ralph Peters column for more.

National Review asked its analysts, and some allies, to render their opinions on the UN resolution and the "peace" deal. Here are some noteworthy comments.

From Anne Bayefsky: The most frightening part of the U.N. Security Council resolution is that the United States agreed to allow the U.N. to play a pivotal role in the battle of our age — between democracy and terrorism, freedom and bondage, dignity and intolerance.

* * *
Why is the America that guards the right of self-defense so dearly willing to deny it, in effect, to the state of Israel? Why would America permit the U.N., which has systematically sided with Arab and Islamic states in their war against the Jews for half a century, to play-act as even-handed peacemaker? Why did the administration believe that denying Israel a win over Iranian proxies this time means America is more likely to win over their Iranian bosses next time?


From Shoshana Bryen:
At the U.N., the U.S. held out for what Israel called its strategic goals: return of its soldiers, dismantling Hezbollah, and extending Lebanese sovereignty to the south. But UNSCR 1701 contains no enforcement mechanism, leaving continued and successful military operations by the IDF as the only hope for a satisfactory resolution. To date, unfortunately, IDF operations have been far from successful, and Israel’s civilian leadership appears to have decided against continuing offensive military operations. Israel’s chief of military intelligence acknowledged that Syria and Iran will continue to supply Hezbollah — a huge setback for the good guys.


From Caroline Glick, the Cassandra of Israel: Kofi Annan is a major beneficiary of the resolution because it named him the arbiter of compliance with the ceasefire. Moreover, by retaining UNIFIL and widening its mandate, it rendered him Generalissimo Annan of Lebanon. Israel can expect daily condemnations from the U.N. Secretariat’s office for any act it takes to defend itself against Hezbollah strikes.

Hezbollah is the big winner of the resolution because it adopts almost every Hezbollah demand. Hezbollah will not be disarmed. An arms embargo will not be instituted against it. Its unsupportable claim to Lebanese sovereignty over the Shebaa Farms on the Golan Heights has received international recognition. It is not going to be forced to release the Israeli soldiers it holds as hostages. . .


From Laurent Murawiec: Israel has been defied and found wanting: It neither defended territory and population from attack nor brought the war to its enemy. A hesitant war never tried to hit the enemy’s center of gravity. Some fingers were crushed — Hezbollah fighters — but neither the head, Iran, nor Syria, their connector, were hit. They have shown themselves able to unleash more terror against Israel, through their utensil Nasrallah, without having to pay a price.

And the voice of optimism in this, Saul Singer, said: A colleague called this war an “unmitigated disaster” for Israel. Let’s call it a squandered opportunity. This was our shot at decisively trouncing an Iranian division on our border and we blew it.

The upside is Iran’s proxy no longer constitutes the same deterrent against us. We destroyed most of its most dangerous missiles. We demonstrated we weren’t afraid to subject our population to bombardment and that barrages of over a hundred missiles a day only caused our public to say “fight harder!”

Another byproduct is what was supposed to have been a Palestinian struggle against occupation has been revealed for what it really is: an Israeli struggle for existence against the same axis of evil that is threatening the rest of the free world. This should have been clear since 9/11; now it is undeniable.


Somehow, the Europeans and the Arabs will be all-too-able to deny the undeniable, as they've done for decades.

Warren Christopher in drag?

Michael Rubin rightly lambasts Secretary of State Rice for her work in the Middle East in the past few months. The President is so personally close to her, and trusts her implicitly, that he is abdicating his role to direct the foreign policy of the United States to her. And Secretary Rice has proven which of her two foreign policy influences, Brent Scowcroft or George W. Bush, she will follow -- she's a Scowcroftian "realist" to the hilt.

Here are Rubin's thoughts:

Condoleezza Rice may still be a media star, but her track record places somewhere around Warren Christopher in the annals of recent State Department history:

Rice reversed course on Iran, and even offered this terror-sponsor nuclear reactors. Rather than moderate Tehran, her move signaled weakness and further emboldened the Islamic Republic. Ayatollah Khamene‘i responded to the offer by asking, four days later, “Why don’t you just admit you are weak and your razor is blunt?”

* Remember Iran’s centrifuges? They’re still spinning.

* North Korea defied international consensus to launch missiles, one of which was aimed at the waters off Hawaii. Japan sought robust UN action. The US sided with China against our ally, Japan.

* She agreed to a ceasefire resolution that rewards terror, justifies hostage-taking, and resurrects the legitimacy of Hezbollah claims to the Shabaa Farms.

* Remember the UN Brammertz Commission investigating Syrian complicity in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri? No reaffirmation of it in the UN Resolution or subsequent statements. Score one for Syria. . .
* For the sake of well, not much, we’ve wholesale abandoned liberal allies and democracy activists in Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere.

Hmm. What other realist prescriptions can we implement? Coddle Castro? Abandon Taiwan?

The epitome of nonsense

Jeremy Rabkin on the world's various denunciations of Israel based on the ICC Treaty and the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention, the latter of which was never agreed to by Israel.

It all makes sense, in a way--particularly if you live in Luxembourg and never have to give any thought to your own defense, because others will see to it for you. Lots of Europeans like to think of themselves as citizens of greater Luxembourg. It happens not to be a luxury that Israel can afford, living in a region where some of the strongest states--notably Iran--are dedicated to its destruction. If Israel could not defend itself, what international authority would it call to provide protection from outside? The U.N.? That is the very body that established the "international force" in Lebanon that has, in effect, operated as Hezbollah's chaperone for the past quarter century, looking the other way as terrorists acquired a vast arsenal of missiles. Asking Israel to rely on the U.N. for its protection makes sense only if you think Israel has no more right to defend itself than the majority of U.N. members think it ought to have. This is not a very reassuring notion for Israel, given the U.N.'s record.

Read it all.

Friday, August 11, 2006

ABC Sports, RIP

Forty-five years ago sports on television received its own brand at the American Broadcast Company when the ABC Sports division was born. After its four-plus decade long run as (often) the most prominent name in sports broadcasting, Mother Mouse-Ears has euthanized the ABC Sports brand. From now on, all sports on ABC will carry the ESPN name and will be called "ESPN on ABC".

For traditionalists, longtime sports junkies and TV Sports columnists, the rebranding is like the death of an old friend. ABC Sports' former president and driving force Roone Arledge created "ABC's Wide World of Sports" -- a weekend fixture only a decade or so ago. Arledge also created Monday Night Football, the most successful sports showcase in history. His legacy is coterminal with ABC Sports' legacy: the first network to use instant replay, advanced graphics and to bring investigative journalism to TV Sports.

And that's largely the problem. Without Arledge, who took over the ABC network in 1986, ABC Sports stagnated. It gave up on baseball during Arledge's tenure and never really obtained a hold on the American Pasttime again. ABC Sports is a driving force behind the perennially contentious and controversial Bowl Championship Series, which has been a flop for most of its existence. ABC Sports lost or gave up a signature event -- the Olympics -- after taking a huge loss on the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988, only to watch CBS and NBC handle the Olympic coverage competently and profitably. The king may be dead now, but it had been dying for years.

ESPN has been the ultra-aggressive sports amoeba for the past two decades. Following its small start in 1979, the network has become a staple of sports fans worldwide. It has expanded relentlessly to the Pacific Rim, Latin America and throughout North America. It gobbled up Turner Classic Sports (now ESPN Classic), jumped into the fray for NFL football game coverage, aggressively pursued baseball and has literally created sports out of strange things people do (X games) or ordinary games people play (World Series of Poker). ESPN has challenged the older networks' sports commitment by purchasing the rights to broadcast all three major sports, both major college sports (football and basketball) and is seeking to capitalize on the increasing soccer following in the US with its recent deal with MLS. It has even challenged Sports Illustrated's hitherto unquestioned title as the ultimate sports magazine with ESPN The Magazine (although it tends to be more attitude and less substance than it should).

Today, ESPN carries the national Sunday Night Baseball game, with games on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday during the season and more than half the first-round playoffs; ESPN carries the most college football and basketball games of any network; and it now hosts NBA games up until the Finals. This fall, ESPN will air its greatest prize, Monday Night Football.

More importantly, ESPN's production work, sports direction, broadcasters and analysts are usually the best in the business (especially as a group, if not individually [two words: Lee Corso; two more words: Michael Irvin]). ESPN's NFL Countdown far surpasses any other NFL preview show; ESPN's college football gameday is usually very good; its college gamenight and NBA shows are routinely better than competitors on CBS (college sports programs) or TNT (NBA).

Disney is calling the change an "evolution". That's partially right. It's also a coronation. The king is dead, long live the king.

ABC Sports, 1961-2006, RIP.

More arrests

About 40 Muslims have been arrested in Italy, mostly for immigration and/or residency violations. The arrests are "part of an extraordinary operation that followed the British anti-terrorist operation," according to the Italian Interior Ministry. In other words, based on the information the Interior Ministry received from other countries (including Pakistan, apparently), it rounded up terror suspects in Italy.

Distrusting Muslims?

Many Americans distrust Muslims, according to a Gallup poll. Check this out:

Daily protests occur in Dearborn. At one recent demonstration, organized by the Congress of Arab-Americans, about 1,000 people attended. College-age men asked, in call and response fashion, "Who is your army?" Protestors responded: "Hezbollah." "Who is your leader?" they were asked. "Nasrallah," the chanters responded. Many carried placards of the Hezbollah leader. A few days earlier at an even larger demonstration, more than 15,000 turned out, about half of Dearborn's Arab community.

Those who regularly attend the demonstrations tend to be the most strident.

"Oh, Jews, remember Khaibar," the marchers chant. "The army of the Prophet will return."

The line is a reference to Khaibar, a Jewish town north of Medina that, according to Islamic tradition, was overtaken by the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century. Once defeated, the surviving Jews of Khaibar were forced into serfdom. Two decades later, they were expelled from the Arabian peninsula.


And here are the names of the suspects arrested in the UK yesterday:

Umir Hussain, 24, London E14

Muhammed Usman Saddique, 24, London E17

Waheed Zaman, 22, London E17

Assan Abdullah Khan, 22, London E17

Waseem Kayani, 28, High Wycombe

Waheed Arafat Khan, 24, London E17

Cossor Ali, 24, London E17

Tayib Rauf, 21, Birmingham

Ibrahim Savant, 26, London E17

Osman Adam Khatib, 20, London E17

Shamin Mohammed Uddin, 36, Stoke Newington

Amin Asmin Tariq, 23, London E17

Shazad Khuram Ali, 27, High Wycombe

Tanvir Hussain, 24, London E10

Umar Islam, 28, (born Brian Young) High Wycombe

Assad Sarwar, 25, High Wycombe

Abdullah Ali, 26, London E17

Abdul Muneem Patel, 17, London E5

Nabeel Hussain, 21, Waltham Forest

Distrust any Muslims?

Go figure.

Protecting our citizens by intercepting terrorists' communications

From a Time report on the investigation that led MI-5 and Scotland Yard to the terrorists plotting to blow up the transatlantic flights:

Britain's MI-5 intelligence service and Scotland Yard had been tracking the plot for several months, but only in the past two weeks had the plotters' planning begun to crystallize, senior U.S. officials tell TIME. In the two or three days before the arrests, the cell was going operational, and authorities were pressed into action. MI5 and Scotland Yard agents tracked the plotters from the ground, while a knowledgeable American official says U.S. intelligence provided London authorities with intercepts of the group's communications. . .

Seems like that NSA surveillance system has some good uses after all.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Cynthia McKinney supporters -- low-end racists

Someone's always blaming the Jews for something.

If we were that powerful, do you really think she'd ever have been elected?

SMARTEN UP about our enemies

Andy McCarthy despairs that the West will lose its fight against Islamofascist terrorism because it lacks conviction. Hopefully his extensive quotes from the Hizb'Allah manifesto will smarten some folks up.

Hezbollah movie of the week

A German news channel has footage of how Hezbollah and its fellow travelers shamelessly exploit the media.

JUST WATCH IT.

Transatlantic Terror Plot Foiled

For those who have not seen the news, reports out of the UK say that British police (and most likely MI-5 and Special Branch) have foiled an al-Qaeda type plot to blow up at least six transatlantic UK to US flights in mid-air. After a multi-month counterterrorist investigation, Scotland Yard announced 21 arrests in London, Birmingham and the Thames Valley. London and Birmingham are notorious for large British-born Muslim populations sympathetic to Islamofascism.

The flights targeted were allegedly on three US airlines: American, United and Continental. Heathrow Airport, the world's busiest international airport, was the departure point for the targeted flights. The explosive of choice was likely nitroglycerin in liquid form that would be charged to detonate by an electronic pulse. See here for how that could work. This is not an idea that takes great imagination today -- any Brit could try to pull off such a plan just by reading the opening chapters of this book (which is a highly entertaining one, by the way). Indeed, the whole concept of liquid explosive with separate detonator to be put together on plane after carrying the kit on with the carry-on luggage that Chris Brookmyre describes in that book is almost exactly the set-up that the UK bombers were allegedly going to use.

Then again, the concept of flying a plane into the White House or other US landmark appeared in Tom Clancy's Debt of Honor about seven years before 9-11-01 and the Feds never foresaw that possibility. So good on ya to the Brits for handling this.

UPDATE: The Brits sent what should be either (a) superfluous or (b) insulting -- a warning from PM Blair to President Bush to ensure that the ongoing operations to foil Islamofascist death plots remain CONFIDENTIAL.

For some US officials, Blair's reservations about US agencies' ability to keep secrets is an embarrassment [actually, it's the agencies' inability to keep the information from the press that's embarrassing -- TKM]. Blair's fears stem from a series of news stories that have exposed US counterterrorism operations and the potential for politically-motivated leaks.

Meanwhile, according to a source in the FBI, the directors of the CIA, FBI, NSA and other agencies have been briefed about the UK situation by White House officials. During the briefing, they were cautioned to prevent any breaches in the security of classified information.


Prosecuting leakers would help stop that nonsense.

UPDATE II: Kudos to Pres. Bush for cutting the [scatological euphemism] and speaking plainly.
President George W. Bush said on Thursday a foiled plot to blow up airplanes was a "stark reminder" that the United States was "at war with Islamic fascists."

HT: Allahpundit

An unfortunately accurate portrayal of reality

From a Time magazine analysis of the ease of use of liquid explosives in airplanes:

. . . The particularly devious innovation of the London plotters was their alleged use of liquid explosives, which are easily concealed in many of the items found in most travelers' hand luggage — perfume, hair gel, deodorant, medicines, drinks, toothpaste, lotions, and so on — and is extremely difficult to detect. Metal detectors will obviously miss them. While there have been some 'puffer' explosive-detection machines placed in some U.S. airports, they are few and far between — and aren't made to detect liquid explosives in sealed containers.

Liquid explosives also attack airline security's weakest point — the Transportation Security Administration screeners. They are the burger-flippers of the entire security system, and the chances of even the best of them visually identifying a liquid explosive in an innocuous bottle are slim — that's why Israel's Ben Gurion airport has a laboratory in the basement to conduct instant tests of liquids found on suspect passengers. If the U.S. system lacks sufficient technology to detect liquid explosives, and if it relies on the TSA screeners to ID possible terrorists, it is, at best, a wire mesh fence.

Thanks and Reminder

Thanks to the British for thwarting what appears to be a horrific series of bombings on US bound flights on American, Continental and United Airlines.

And just a word for the clowns on the Left who no doubt have already started declaiming that we brought this upon ourselves -

9/11 happened before we ever went into Afghanistan or Iraq.

Advice for Joe Lieberman

from James Robbins at the Corner repeating the words of a great former Democrat:

"I did not leave the Democratic Party. It left me."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Long, Hard Slog

The National Review's Stanley Kurtz has an outstanding analysis the West's current and upcoming struggle against militant Islam. This is the best summation I've read on what the West has been fighting the last fifteen years though most of us have only begun to realize it. Some key snippets:


...My concern is that our underlying foreign-policy dilemma calls for both hawkishness and gloom — and will for some time. The two worst-case scenarios are world-war abroad and nuclear terror at home. I fear we’re on a slow-motion track to both...That means we’re facing years — maybe decades — of inconclusive, on/off (mostly on) hot war, unless and until a nuclear terror strike, a major case of nuclear blackmail, or a nuclear clash among Middle Eastern states ushers in a radical new phase.

Let’s take a moment to think about Castro. Castro is the master and pioneer of ornery third-world defiance. We need to appreciate the immensity of Castro’s achievement in preserving Cuba’s Communist dictatorship for 17 years after the collapse of his chief patron, the Soviet Union. It’s remarkable that, absent any great-power protection, and even after becoming, without Soviet subsidies, a permanent economic basket-case, Castro’s regime has not collapsed.

Let that be a lesson to those who wait for the collapse of regimes in Iran, North Korea, or Palestine because of long-term economic failure and/or economic sanctions. Yes, popular uprisings happen (as in Iran against the Shah). Yet it’s also clear that a posture of anti-Western defiance, combined with nationalism, ideology, and dictatorial rule is perfectly capable of sustaining a miserable, poverty-stricken, failed system far, far beyond the point that Westerners would consider tolerable or believable.

...With military success (accurately) framed as the near-complete destruction of terrorist forces, decisive military victory is virtually defined out of existence...This is why the United States has turned to democratization. The stick of military force combined with the carrot of democracy was supposed to have provided a way out. Unfortunately, democratization of fundamentally illiberal societies cannot happen quickly. Real democratization requires a great deal of time and deep, painful, expensive underlying cultural change, almost impossible to bring about without an effectively permanent military occupation.

[And] even a long-term military occupation cannot promote democratization in the absence of social peace. The Iraqi resistance’s greatest victory came with the very start of their campaign. By creating sufficient insecurity to bar Western civilians from Iraq, the real key to democratic change was blocked from the start. If advising an Iraqi bureaucrat, working with an Iraqi entrepreneur, or teaching at an Iraqi college had become career-making occupations for an ambitious generation of young American civilians, we might have had a chance to build genuine democracy in Iraq. Once the rebellion made that sort of cultural exchange impossible, the democratization project was cut off before it could begin.
...
The depth of the Moslem world’s failure to adjust to modernity, the profundity of its need for scapegoats, the seeming boundlessness of its willingness to accept the death and destruction of its own in exchange for the “honor” of “revenge,” are difficult for Americans to acknowledge.
...
If liberals are lost in wishful thinking about the prospects of negotiated settlements and nuclear containment, conservatives are naive about the possibility of ending terror by a decisive military blow.

...
[T]he doves’ favorite point: bombing and war only breed more terrorists. True enough, but only because the underlying cultural dilemma of Muslim modernity has created a need for scapegoats. War ought to produce the realization that peaceful compromise is the way out. Instead it produces the opposite. Gestures for peace fare no better. Withdraw or attack, the results are the same: more hatred, more terror, more war. Compromise and settlement have been ruled out from the start by a pervasive ideology, an ideology that is a product of the underlying inability to reconcile Islam with modernity.
...
This means that the entire Western world now stands in a position roughly analogous to that of Israel: locked in an essentially permanent struggle with a foe it is impossible either to placate, or to entirely destroy — a foe who demands our own destruction, and whose problems are so deep they would not be solved even by victory.
...
Meanwhile, short of a preemptive war, Iran is bound to get the bomb. No grand bargain or set of economic sanctions can deter it — especially now that Iran is convinced of its success in creating havoc for the West, and in consolidating popular support through its proxy attacks on Western interests.
...
The West is on a collision course with Iran. There will either be a preemptive war against Iran’s nuclear program, or an endless series of hot-and-cold war crises following Iran’s acquisition of a bomb. And an Iranian bomb means further nuclear proliferation to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as a balancing move by the big Sunni states. With all those Islamic bombs floating around, what are the chances the U.S. will avoid a nuclear terrorist strike over the long-term?
...
A seemingly futile and endless occupation of Lebanon once split Israel down the middle, breeding an entire generation of Israeli doves. Now Israel is a united nation of gloomy hawks, transformed by the repeated failure of every gesture of peace, and by the reality of their implacable foe.


Whereas the 20th century was dominated by the struggle of liberal democracies vs. political totalitarianism in fascism and communism the 21st is shaping up to be liberal democracies vs. religious totalitarianism. In the last century at least we had clear targets at which to shoot. Does this generation have the spine to fight a long, ugly guerilla war? I fear not. Kurtz is too sanguine by half when he says Europe, led by the French, is falling into the American corner. I doubt anything less than a catastrophic attack in France could accomplish that.

With a handful of exceptions - primarily elements in the Anglophone countries - the West will retreat as long as there is space in the vain hope that if we let them be they will leave us alone. Why, they will bleat, would they attack us if we don't threaten them and leave them alone?

The answer is, it's not what the West DOES, it is what it IS.

Religious freedom, basic rights for women and some of our basic pursuits of happiness - music to take a mundane example - is perceived to be a pernicious threat. As long as liberal democracies exist they offer an alternate way. In that way militant Islam views us in a similar fashion to how the Stalinist did - long-term co-existence isn't possible - only one system can survive.

One key difference though, as voracious and evil the Communist threat was, its progenitors did not cleave to the worldview that Armageddon was acceptable much less to be welcomed. Deterrence worked. As we covered here, there is no guarantee it will again.

What should remain private . . .

When The Monk was but a monkling, he read some children's book where the main character was on a spy mission and actually had to wear a badge that said "SPY" on it when he entered the city where he would snoop around. The Monk, even then, knew that the whole concept was stupid.

The Monk is older and at least a little bit wiser now, and he still thinks that making public things that should remain private is stupid. Thus, he questions the wisdom of the Israeli Security Cabinet publicizing its internal vote approving the military's request to expand the ground war in Lebanon. Some decisions, and dissents, of a government at war should and MUST remain secret. Which ones? How about these:

* The Israeli Security Cabinet's decision — approved 9-0, with three abstentions — was risky. Israel could set itself up for new criticism that it is sabotaging diplomatic efforts, particularly after Lebanon offered to deploy its own troops in the border area.

* In the six-hour meeting, Cabinet officials were told a new offensive could mean 100 to 200 more military deaths, a participant said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters. . . So far, at least 65 Israeli soldiers have been confirmed killed.

* Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke by telephone for a half-hour during the meeting, Israeli officials said. Olmert told the ministers the offensive will be accompanied by a diplomatic initiative, based on a U.S.-French truce proposal that would take Lebanon's concerns into account, a participant in the meeting said.

* Under the army's plan, troops would push to Lebanon's Litani River, about 18 miles from the border. Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz will decide on the timing of the new push, said Trade Minister Eli Yishai, a member of the Security Cabinet.

* "The assessment is it will last 30 days," Yishai said afterward. "I think it is wrong to make this assessment. I think it will take a lot longer," added Yishai, who had abstained in the vote.


Pure foolishness.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Applying MAD?

Bernard Lewis, the Princeton Middle East Scholar, has a disturbing piece - entitled August 22 - up in the Wall Street Journal today. It's subscriber only so here are the key points:

During the Cold War, both sides possessed weapons of mass destruction, but neither side used them, deterred by what was known as MAD, mutual assured destruction.
...
Would the same constraints, the same fear of mutual assured destruction, restrain a nuclear-armed Iran from using such weapons against the U.S. or against Israel?
* * *
There is a radical difference between the Islamic Republic of Iran and other governments with nuclear weapons. This difference is expressed in what can only be described as the apocalyptic worldview of Iran's present rulers. This worldview and expectation, vividly expressed in speeches, articles and even schoolbooks, clearly shape the perception and therefore the policies of Ahmadinejad and his disciples.

Even in the past it was clear that terrorists claiming to act in the name of Islam had no compunction in slaughtering large numbers of fellow Muslims.

The phrase "Allah will know his own" is usually used to explain such apparently callous unconcern; it means that while infidel, i.e., non-Muslim, victims will go to a well-deserved punishment in hell, Muslims will be sent straight to heaven. According to this view, the bombers are in fact doing their Muslim victims a favor by giving them a quick pass to heaven and its delights -- the rewards without the struggles of martyrdom.
...
[T]he threat of direct retaliation on Iran -- is, as noted, already weakened by the suicide or martyrdom complex that plagues parts of the Islamic world today, without parallel in other religions, or for that matter in the Islamic past. This complex has become even more important at the present day, because of this new apocalyptic vision.

In Islam, as in Judaism and Christianity, there are certain beliefs concerning the cosmic struggle at the end of time -- Gog and Magog, anti-Christ, Armageddon, and for Shiite Muslims, the long awaited return of the Hidden Imam, ending in the final victory of the forces of good over evil, however these may be defined. Mr. Ahmadinejad and his followers clearly believe that this time is now, and that the terminal struggle has already begun and is indeed well advanced. It may even have a date, indicated by several references by the Iranian president to giving his final answer to the U.S. about nuclear development by Aug. 22. This was at first reported as "by the end of August," but Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement was more precise.
....
In this context, mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, would have no meaning. At the end of time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter will be the final destination of the dead -- hell for the infidels, and heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement.


August 22, Lewis explains, is an important date and potentially an auspicious date for the apocalyptic end of Israel. Probable? Perhaps not. Possible? Vigilance is required.

The vast majority of us in the West and I'd imagine a good majority of Muslims as well would be horrified at the prospect of the world ending in a huge conflagration. However if Ahmadinejad and the mullahs work with a completely different paradigm - one that we can barely imagine, the closest being the mindset of a suicide bomber - then Armageddon might be closer than we think.

We can hope that Lewis is wrong and that Ahmadinejad and the mullahs simply want to be the political and spiritual heads of a new caliphate. We can also hope that the Iranian military which may have some measure of control over launching these weapons don't share this worldview. As a proactive measure we would be remiss if we did not make it abundantly clear to Iran that any attempt to unleash WMD will ensure Armageddon on them. Perhaps that may give saner elements the courage to move or prepare to move against the mullahs.