Thursday, July 29, 2004

This Is What Spain Pulled Out Of

Mohammed over at Iraq the Model has some wise words for all the Spaniards supporting the Socialist government's decision to pull out it troops, inmediately after the terrorist attack in Madrid in March of this year:

I believe that the presence of this terror is just a matter of time, as hatred and deception can’t last forever, but the reactions of some parts provide it with the support it needs and give it a second chance. Yes, all we need is the will and determination to crush a company that is so close to bankruptcy but the disgraceful doings of some parts postpone it once again, like what Spain, Manilla and Egypt lately did.

What’s even worse and disgusting is that these governments smugly come and ask the admirably determined nation Australia to apologize while it’s them who must apologize to the whole world for their awful mistakes that encouraged terrorists and reassured them that their criminal tactics can work.
These countries have found excuses for terror and gave the terrorists the motives to carry on with their plans as long as these plans can make "sovereign countries" yield in front of a true criminal action.

They’re cooperating with the criminals and they make it easier for terrorists to increase their activities in Iraq and elsewhere. This is the goal of terror and this is what these countries offered the terrorists on a gold plate. They’ve said clearly "do more of your work, as it will definitely bring an outcome that satisfy your sickness and illusions".

[...]

A good and wise government should be able to see farther than the average simple citizen and also to share this vision with him and let him see where his/her interests and security lie. What these governments are doing is the opposite, as they use the simple and instant reactions of the crowds to strengthen their position saying "we have fulfilled your demands and acted just the way you wanted" However what the people want, and especially when they are faced with a shocking and a threatening situation, is not necessarily what they need.

Can you answer the question what will be the response of Iraqis towards these horrible attacks? I’ll help you; These victims came to volunteer to serve their country as IP members and this is not the 1st time this happens and the response of Iraqis to such attacks was always more volunteers and longer lines. What does that tell you Philippine and Spanish government? If this is bravery and wisdom, then how should your actions be labeled? Maybe it’s not your business? That would’ve been a more honest answer had you said it, but you’re not just cowards or stupid, you’re also hypocrites. This include all the "anti-war" crowd with all the clowns there such as Michael Moore and George Galloway and their likes. You make me SICK when you support the "Iraqi resistance" and call these killers a revolutionists. Did you watch your "resistance" today? This is what you support and this is how history will view you; supporters of murderers and criminals, and for what? Fame and money! Enjoy it. It won’t last, as the truth will soon be revealed and you'll be exposed to all as the disgusting parasites you are.

I doubt that we can forgive you all for your cowardice, stupidity and hypocracy just as we’ll never forget the sacrifices and the help of the Americans, Australians, British, Italians, Japanese and all the other coalition members.
There's a lot more wise words in between. Frankly, I cannot add anything after reading it.

Spaniards should read it, too.


It's Cuddly Kerry, with the Flippy-Floppy ears!

We Recover Better Than You Do

The Spanish Society for the Study of Anxiety and Stress (Sociedad Española para el Estudio de la Ansiedad y el Estrés, or SEAS, their moving gif logo just gives me stress by looking at it!) has performed a study into the post-traumatic stress disorder among Madrileños affected by the March 11 terrorist attacks.

Spanish newspaper ABC felt the need to lead their article on it as follows:

"Madrileños Better Handled 3/11 than New Yorkers Handled 9/11"
That's just sick. Rude.

Look, I think it's very important these type of studies are done, to better help and assist victims, their families and the wider population in the very difficult process of recovery after loss, or dealing with the senselesness of terrorism. And I understand that from an academic perspective, there is a desire to compare data, to proof one's own or look for differences.

But if reporters start making headlines like this, it just shows how stupid people can be. Like it's a competition, like this somehow proves Spaniards are tougher.

It just makes people think they're trying to make up for the collective cowardness they've shown since March 11.

Algeria Kills Two GSPC Terrorists

Algerian Newspaper Liberté (link in French. Incidentally, Algeria's Le Matin has been closed by the Algerian government last Friday, for the 'usual' reasons. A bad sign from a country that needs to reform itself to survive its terrorist threat) reports on a foiled incursion by an Al Qaeda-linked GSPC commando into the town of Dar El-Beïda, some 200 miles southwest of the capital Algiers. According to the newspaper, this brings to a total of sixteen terrorists neutralized in July, with some seven fatalities in operations in the surroundings of Boumerdès last week.

Kerry And Vietnam

Just reading over at Drudge Report, on Kerry's adventures in Vietnam. I use the term 'adventures', well, because a guy bringing a super-8 camera and re-doing ambushes and the like, has alterior motives or a severe case of narcism.

The official convention video introducing John Kerry tonight, directed by Steven Spielberg protégé James Moll, incorporates homemade film footage shot by Kerry in Vietnam.

“I would have used archival footage,” Moll tells the NEW YORK OBSERVER's Joe Hagan, “but it was a pleasant surprise that he had taken his own footage while in Vietnam.”

"When Army Green Beret Jim Rassman is talking about how John Kerry saved his life,” he said, “I’m using some of that footage. It shows the swift boat and various shots of the swift boat, and some firing like you see in the water. Bullets in the water.”

Entering controversy, director Moll explains how the bullets in the water were not from the actual event.

“It’s just illustrative.”

Moll mixes in the homemade Kerry film with stirring strings and a french horn soundtrack.

Moll is said to manipulate the speed of some of the film.

One moving scene shows Kerry in slow motion, in full gear, walking with his gun through the paddies.
Of course, George W. Bush using firefighters in a campaign spot on 9/11, is deemed outrageous.

Adds the Swift boat commander who took over from Kerry's command, in an upcoming book titled 'Unfit for Command', with stories of his former crew:
"Kerry would revisit ambush locations for reenacting combat scenes where he would portray the hero, catching it all on film. Kerry would take movies of himself walking around in combat gear, sometimes dressed as an infantryman walking resolutely through the terrain. He even filmed mock interviews of himself narrating his exploits. A joke circulated among Swiftees was that Kerry left Vietnam early not because he received three Purple Hearts, but because he had recorded enough film of himself to take home for his planned political campaigns."
Matt Drudge puts his hallmark 'DEVELOPING' in capitals at the end.

To me, this picture needs no further developing. Since the stories of his Vietnam past first emerged, and I learnt, I believe through National Review though I couldn't find the link anymore (YOU do a search on Kerry + Vietnam!), that he spent afternoons at home, watching his home movies from Vietnam, I thought the man simply had serious issues in dealing with his past.

Now, after learning of the events leading to his Purple Heart medals, I more and more get the impression that here's a guy that since the age of 16 wanted to become President of the United States.

A very intelligent guy, who applies for Vietnam duty, and 'covers' himself in his 'adventures', and racks up the three medals that take back to the States again, where his political instincts make him 'switch sides'.

I struggle to think that a man would be capable of thinking that far ahead. But I'm not fighting it as hard as I used to.

It's a lot more comforting to picture Kerry as a liberal tax-and-spender, who because of that needs to be denied the Presidency, though.

Welcome Blogs For Bush Visitors

We made the blogroll at Blogsforbush.com, which means a new group of visitors will now and again mosey along these here pages. Welcome! Though we focus mostly on the War On Islamist Terror (along with the 9/11 Committee, we agree in focusing more, and naming the Enemy), I'll try to do an occasional post on the US Elections, though you'll find plenty of interesting info on elections and terrorism here..

Y'all come back now real soon!

Terrorist Arrested In Madrid

Spanish police arrested a Lebanese man late last night at his home in the Madrid district of Carabanchel, El Mundo reports (link in Spanish). The man, who has not been identified, was carrying false Portugese papers. Upon conducting a house search, police discovered two mobile phones, phone contracts, bank books, and several notebooks and documents.

Police tie him directly to the terrorist cell responsible for the March 11 attacks in Madrid, and place him at the house where the bombs were packed into backpacks, as well as in the vicinity of the Madrid appartment building that was blown up by the terrorist itself, killing all seven and one SWAT officer. He is also connected directly to several terror suspects currently in prison awaiting charges, including the Spanish mine worker who sold the dynamite.

This may turn out to be the 'missing' terrorist, whose fingerprints have been found in both vans used to transport the terrorist to the train stations, and who escaped from the scene before police stormed the appartment complex in which they were holed up. Developing.

UPDATE:El Mundo now reports that the terror suspect arrested is Semaan Gaby Eid and has Lebanese nationality (since corrected above). This brings the total of arrests made in relation to the March 11 attacks in Madrid to 19, of which 17 were arrested in Spain, and the majority of Moroccan descent.

If he's Lebanese, I would really like to know if he's Shi'a muslim, and if perhaps he has links to Hezbollah. It would disprove once more that Shi'a and Sunni 'hate' each other and would never work together.

Abu Hafes Al Masri Brigades Threaten Europe , Italy

Reuters carry two reports on the latest statement to come out of what is perceived to be Al Qaeda's European branch, the Abu Hasef Al Masri brigades. In it, they vow 'bloody war' on Europe, after Europe declined earlier to take up Al Qaeda on its truce offer.

"Today, we have declared a bloody war on you and we will not stop raids against you until you return to the correct path," said the statement signed by Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades and posted on an Islamist Web site, which has carried previous statements from the group.

"After the truce determined by our sheik Osama bin Laden ended, and after you have not returned to the correct path, we declare a war in your faces and in the face of your silent people whose silence proves their support to you," it added.
The second statement relates to their first presumed target, Silvio Berlusconi's Italy:
"We will shake the cities of Europe and we will start with you Berlusconi, and we will make it bloody until you return to the correct path. Wait for us Berlusconi and your other allies as well, wait for our promise which we have revealed to you and are now revealing to Europe," said the statement signed by Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades and posted on an Islamist Web site.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

European Social Democracy

I want to point you to an interesting intro to hopefully more posts by Nelson Ascher over at EuroPundits (why am I not listed I here you ask) on the European strain of capitalism: Social Democracy. A brief peak:

Social-democracy has been much more successful than either capitalism or communism in one thing: the manufacturing of consent. Besides, at least in theory, neither capitalism nor communism has any trust in the State. Though what he did in practice was the opposite, Lenin, according to his writings, saw the abolition of the State as something desirable. And capitalism on the other hand considers the State a kind of inevitable evil that shouldn’t be allowed to grow too much. But in the eyes of social-democratic ideologues, the state is the very materialization of what’s best in human nature and society. The communists obviously acted like that, but their utopia pointed to a kind of stateless paradise.
It has a couple of very good observations of life on the Old Continent. Definitely worth the read, and hopefully Ascher will find the time to finish it! (if after this I am still not linked to from the EuroPundits page, I will declare Spain officially Al Andalus, and join the Arab League).

Will EU Open Eyes?

Haaretz brings this item on the EU's shock (shocked!) to learn that their Arab neighbors refused to support a General Assembly resolution condemning Anti-Semitism:

At a closed meeting held recently in New York, UN ambassadors from Arab and EU countries met and the Arabs made clear that they do not accept the initiative for the UN General Assembly to condemn anti-Semitism.

The blunt language used by the Arabs describing their opposition, and their plans to use diplomatic means to prevent the resolution from reaching a vote, shocked the Europeans, said a UN source.

According to UN sources, the Arab delegates were also critical of a UN seminar on anti-Semitism held last month. A senior Western diplomat said that among the Arabs who spoke with the Europeans was PLO observer Nasser al Kidwe, and he was particularly outspoken in his objections to a UN General Assembly resolution on anti-Semitism.

The source said Kidwe attacked the content of UN Secretary general Koffi Anan's speech to the seminar last month, particularly Annan's pride in the cancelation of the 1975 Zionism equals racism resolution. "The Europeans were depressed when they left the meeting," said the source.
Ha, that reminds me of the 1981 educational film 'The Wave' (Still shown on schools throughout Europe by the way). I can just imagine the look on all those ambassador's faces, when Kofi Annan went on stage, and pulled back the curtain...

But at the UN, the Europeans will probably just fold and put it off for another ten years, instead of standing up and be counted.

'North African' Embassy In Austria Targeted

Reuters reports on a foiled terrorist attempt to strike an embassy of a North African country in Vienna:

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian anti-terrorism investigators found detailed plans of a North African embassy with notes on its security gaps during a raid last year and may have foiled an attack, officials said Wednesday.

The raid has only now been made public as the Federal Constitutional Protection and Anti-Terrorism Agency presented its annual report on security threats in Austria.

The agency's head said the Vienna embassy which he declined to identify had been immediately informed and extra protection assigned while it beefed up its own security.

"These measures (the raid) may at least have prevented the planning of an attack," Gert-Rene Polli told Reuters.

The 2003 report said there was no evidence of a direct threat to Austria, but that a latent threat hung over all of Europe and the danger of Islamic militant attacks was growing.

Investigators found the embassy drawings while serving a search warrant on suspects from North Africa, who left the country before prosecutors could take up the case.

Polli said the leads generated by the raid were more important than the fact no one was tried.

"We found very interesting material that took us further," he said.
I'm thinking either Algeria or Morocco, leaning towards Algeria because the symbolism of its OPEC membership, which has its seat in Vienna. Two remarks though. This was pure luck, not intel, and the suspects they were after, fled the country, not escaping the police during the search raid, but 'before prosecutors could take up the case'.

Like said, we're not ready.

Update: Austrian newspaper Österreich Journal (link in German): reports the terrorists were Egyptian. It also mentions the editors know which country's embassy was targeted, but do not report it. It further claims that the escaped suspects have been arrested in another country since.

The Tragedy Of Al Andalus - Part II

On second thought, the article in the New Yorker which I mentioned before, deserves a more indepth review. It's been a while since reading such a full article on Spain's relation to islam and the background it gives to the current terrorist threat.

Although I do not agree in full with Lawrence Wright, most particularly in his analysis of events right after the attacks up until the elections held March 14, I do agree with the second part of his analysis, that there was more to the bombings itself, other than the routing of Spain's forces from Iraq.

To defend this theory, he brings us two arguments. The first is stuck at the end of the article, and the author does not and cannot elaborate further, because it comes out of the ongoing investigation into the bombings:

In October, 2000, several of the suspects met in Istanbul with Amer Azizi, who had taken the nom de guerre Othman Al Andalusi—Othman of Al Andalus. Azizi later gave the conspirators permission to act in the name of Al Qaeda, although it is unclear whether he authorized money or other assistance—or, indeed, whether Al Qaeda had much support to offer. In June, Italian police released a surveillance tape of one of the alleged planners of the train bombings, an Egyptian housepainter named Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, who said that the operation “took me two and a half years.” Ahmed had served as an explosives expert in the Egyptian Army. It appears that some kind of attack would have happened even if Spain had not joined the Coalition—or if the invasion of Iraq had never occurred.
An attack which seemed to be in very early planning stages, that of giving permission to a plan, at the beginning of 2001, nine months before the 9/11 attacks, obviously cannot be tied to Spain's presence in Iraq.

In his second argument to prove that Al Qaeda had its sights on Spain for other reasons than Iraq, Wright first introduces to us the famous document titled 'Jihadi Iraq: Hopes and Dangers', which can be read as a road map on Al Qaeda's strategy with regards to driving a wedge between the US and its allies, and identifies Spain as the best target, because of the high impopularity among Spaniards of their presence in Iraq and the upcoming elections. The whole paper (in Arabic) can be downloaded as a pdf here. It was discovered on a Jihadi website by a Norwegian researcher.
The document, which is forty-two pages long and appears to be the work of several anonymous authors, begins with the proposition that although Coalition forces in Iraq, led by America, could not be defeated by a guerrilla insurgency, individual partners of the Coalition could be persuaded to depart, leaving America more vulnerable and discouraged as casualties increased and the expenses became insupportable. Three countries—Britain, Spain, and Poland—formed the European backbone of the Coalition.

[...]

Spain, however, presented a striking opportunity. The war was almost universally unpopular. Aznar had plunged his country into Iraq without seeking a consensus, unlike other Coalition leaders. “If the disparity between the government and the people were at the same percentage rate in Britain, then the Blair government would fall,” the author of this section observes.

[...]

The Internet document suggested that a new intelligence was at work, a rationality not seen in Al Qaeda documents before. The Mujahideen Services Center, whatever that was, appeared to operate as a kind of Islamist think tank. “The person who put together those chapters had a clear strategic vision, realistic and well thought out,” Amirah says. He told Hegghammer, “This is political science applied to jihad.”
Sofar, everything seemed to point towards an object-oriented approach. Spain is in Iraq, Spain gets bombed, Spain pulls out of Iraq. Then a second attempt to bomb a train is made:
On April 2nd, two weeks after the election, a security guard for the ave, Spain’s high-speed train line, discovered a blue plastic bag beside the tracks forty miles south of Madrid. Inside the bag were twenty-six pounds of Goma-2. Four hundred and fifty feet of cable had been draped across the security fence and attached, incorrectly, to the detonator. Had the bomb gone off when the ave passed by—at a hundred and eighty m.p.h., carrying twelve hundred passengers—the results could have been far more catastrophic than those of March 11th. Spanish citizens asked themselves: If the bombings of March 11th had accomplished the goals set by Al Qaeda, what was the point of April 2nd?
I can safely say that even though people were terrified in those days, nothing that I recall of gave reason to make this connection to possible other motives. Kept in place by the Socialist government-elect, or at least not challenged on their part, the story was still very much that this was payback for having troops in Iraq.

Marc Sageman, autor of 'Understanding Terror Networks', is given a paragraph to explain how a new generation of Al Qaeda-linked groups seem more politically motivated or at least understanding of how their actions can influence politics. I don't agree with much of Sageman's theories, he thinks too much that our military options have run out, instead suggesting that we tend more to terrorism's root causes and wage a war of ideas instead. The latter is definitely needed too, but not on an even-handed 'root causes' base, and still parallel to military action.

Wright rightly identifies the botched April 2nd attempt to attack again as proof of a bigger picture:
Had the Madrid cell rested on its accomplishment after March 11th, Al Qaeda would properly be seen as an organization now being guided by political strategists—as an entity closer in spirit to ETA, with clear tactical objectives. April 2nd throws doubt on that perspective. There was little to be gained politically from striking an opponent who was complying with the stated demand: the government had agreed to withdraw troops from Iraq. If the point was merely humiliation or revenge, then April 2nd makes more sense; the terrorists wanted more blood, even if a second attack backfired politically. (The Socialists could hardly continue to follow the terrorist agenda with a thousand new corpses along the tracks.) April 2nd is comprehensible only if the real goal of the bombers was not Iraq but Spain, where the Islamic empire began its retreat five hundred years ago.
Wright then returns to the events of the next day, when a police SWAT team stormed the building in which the terror cell was holed up. He interviews the imam of the M30 mosque, Moneir Mahmout Aly el-Messery, who incidentally claims no relationship with Wahhabism because he's Egyptian, to describe the terrorist's characters. Yes, most of them prayed in this Saudi-funded and Muslim World League-operated, largest mosque of Europe.

Out of the rubble of the group's self imolation, taking a big chunk out of the building (amazingly, though prior to the storming a gun battle went on in the streets, police were able to evacuate the entire building and inmediate surroundings, which caused only on SWAT officer to die along with the seven terrorists), police found a videotaped message by the cell's leader, which they were able to restore. On it, the ring leader Sarhane Ben Abdelmajid Fakhet threatens Spain to leave Iraq within a week, referring to themselves as 'the brigade situated in Al Andalus', or face their jihad until 'martyrdom in the land of Tariq ibn Ziyad'.
Al Andalus is the Arabic name for the portion of Spain that fell to Muslim armies after the invasion by the Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad in 711. It includes not only the southern region of Andalusia, but most of the Iberian Peninsula. For the next eight hundred years, Al Andalus remained in Islamic hands. “You know of the Spanish crusade against Muslims, and that not much time has passed since the expulsion from Al Andalus and the tribunals of the Inquisition,” Fakhet says on the tape. He is referring to 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella completed the reconquest of Spain, forcing Jews and Muslims to convert to Catholicism or leave the Iberian Peninsula. “Blood for blood!” he shouts. “Destruction for destruction!”
A theme previously brought up by Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri themselves, one month after the 9/11 on Al Jazeera, and later, in January of this year.
Less than a month after 9/11, Osama bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, had appeared on Al Jazeera. “We will not accept that the tragedy of Al Andalus will be repeated in Palestine,” Zawahiri said, drawing an analogy between the expulsion of the Moors from Iberia and the present-day plight of the Palestinians. The use of the archaic name Al Andalus left most Spaniards nonplussed. “We took it as a folkloric thing,” Ramón Pérez-Maura, an editor at ABC, told me. “We probably actually laughed.” This January, bin Laden issued a “Message to the Muslim People,” which was broadcast on Al Jazeera. He lamented the decline of the Islamic world: “It is enough to know that the economy of all Arab countries is weaker than the economy of one country that had once been part of our world when we used to truly adhere to Islam. That country is the lost Al Andalus.”
Moneir Mahmout seems to agree at least in part with that vision:
Imams sometimes invoke the glory of Al Andalus in Friday prayers as a reminder of the price that Muslims paid for turning away from the true faith. When I asked Moneir el-Messery, of the M-30 mosque, if the Madrid bombers could have been motivated by the desire to recapture Al Andalus, he looked up sharply and said, “I can speak of the feeling of all Muslims. It was a part of history. We were here for eight centuries. You can’t forget it, ever.”
Mahmout needs to be questioned along this line far more often, and it's a shame a reporter at large for The New Yorker is the one to do it. In the Spanish press he is treated with kid gloves.

Wright finishes his impressive article with a plea against appeasing the enemy, and warns against the precedent that is already taking shape in Europe and elsewhere, most notably the Philippines.
The fact that bin Laden was addressing nations as an equal showed a new confidence in Al Qaeda’s ability to manipulate the political future. Exploiting this power will depend, in part, on convincing the West that Al Qaeda and bin Laden remain in control of the worldwide Islamist jihad. As long as Al Qaeda is seen as being an irrational, unyielding death cult, the only response is to destroy it. But if Al Qaeda—amorphous as that entity has become—has evolved into something like a virtual Islamist state that is trying to find a permanent place for itself in the actual world, then the prospect of future negotiations is not out of the question, however unlikely or repellent that may sound to Americans. After all, the Spanish government has brokered truces with ETA, which has killed four times as many people in Spain as Al Qaeda has, and the accelerated withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq following the train bombings has already set a precedent for accommodation, which was quickly followed by the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Last year, Germany paid a six-million-dollar ransom to Algerian terrorists, and the Philippines recently pulled its fifty troops out of Iraq in order to save a hostage from being beheaded.
But let's not forget the Arab nations themselves who are showing some truly despicable cards in paying off terrorists inside Iraq holding hostages, or pulling out the companies they work for. In doing so, they are following not only in the Arab tradition of paying Dane-geld, but they are also paving the way of making this road acceptable to other nations, who might like the Philippines decide to pull out, and thus leaving Iraq more vulnerable, and more close to their own ambitions with (parts of) their neighbor. Quite smart, when you think about it. Even though this comes at the cost to them of strenghtening Al Qaeda and their allies, they assume that they can be left to the Americans elsewhere, after they have fulfilled their own ambitions with Iraq.

Some last thoughts to leave you with, that developed in my mind while writing this post. I inmediately admit, it's pretty much 'out there', but I wanted to entertain it still, as I believe it a possibility.

Imagine Al Qaeda, in their efforts to push Spain back into the realm of Dar al-Islam, would bring up the dreaded words 'Right of Return'? We have Spain, who is starting to come to terms after a long time, that Islam at least once, was part of Spain and Spain's culture. Part of that process would be acknowledging the results of the Reconquista, the expulsion of all Jews and Muslims from Spain in 1492, and the following Inquisition that lasted up until the 1890s, and wasn't repealed officially until the end of the sixties. Could islamists make a case for reparations? For a right of return? Would Spain's cultural relativist elites pick up on it, to be followed by intellectuals and the rest of the liberal pack? Quite imaginably so, especially since to a lot of Spaniards, this is all theoretical fantasy, in which their would be no harm indulging a bit while showing off your multi-cultural colors. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda (inspired) attacks on Spain itself would add to the 'urgency' of a 'solution', and provide the Apocalyptic backdrop of which Wright speaks. And government after government would need to take a stance opposite their (EU) position towards a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Of course, it would never happen, but the thought of some five million (guessing) descendants of Al Andalus' Muslim inhabitants 'coming home', would inmediately polarize muslims living in Spain and the Spaniards themselves. And it would at the same time draw out the governments of Morocco, Algeria and Tunesia in their opposition to the brain drain their economies would suffer, exposing them once more as infidels in the eyes of the Salafists. On top of which, the linkeage to (and re-creation of) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might just make it spill over into Europe reversing itself and side with Israel, being confronted with Al Qaeda attacks in Spain. Which would set France in flames.

And finally, it would be a great recruiting tool for Al Qaeda, for all those Jihadis 'packing up their bags, in search of a new land' as Al Zarqawi wrote out of Iraq to Bin Laden.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Holidays Are Here

Europeans have waaaaaaay more vacation days than Americans, and Spaniards get waaaaaaay more vacation days than the rest of Europe! So when in Spain, act like the Romans? I think not!

We'll be back though, and weather, news, net access, Señora Southern Watch (ok, I stole that from Instapundit) permitting, I will THINK about posting in the mean time (my record for the past five years of staying out of sight of a computer is about three days, so I just might). From the third week on in August, all should return to normal, and you'll all be more than welcome again (please bookmark it now as the thousands of incoming links -ahem- will soon dry up) for your more than daily dose of Southern Watch!

In the mean time, and at the risk of having allusions of grandeur, if there are (semi-) serious bloggers out there who occasionally wouldn't mind doing a guest post, then let me know asap on the contact mail address in the sidebar!

The Tragedy of Al Andalus Explained

This week's The New Yorker carries an in-depth article by Lawrence Wright on the Madrid attacks (with minute-to-mintue facts on the day itself), and asks about the true motives of the Al Qaeda cell, focusing on Spain's history and part of the Arab world during the period of Al Andalus:

Al Andalus is the Arabic name for the portion of Spain that fell to Muslim armies after the invasion by the Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad in 711. It includes not only the southern region of Andalusia, but most of the Iberian Peninsula. For the next eight hundred years, Al Andalus remained in Islamic hands. “You know of the Spanish crusade against Muslims, and that not much time has passed since the expulsion from Al Andalus and the tribunals of the Inquisition,” Fakhet says on the tape. He is referring to 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella completed the reconquest of Spain, forcing Jews and Muslims to convert to Catholicism or leave the Iberian Peninsula. “Blood for blood!” he shouts. “Destruction for destruction!”

Were these the true goals of Al Qaeda? Were the besieged terrorists in Leganés simply struggling to get Spain out of Iraq, or were they also battling to regain the lost colonies of Islam? In other words, were these terrorists who might respond to negotiation or appeasement, or were they soldiers in a religious fight to the finish that had merely been paused for five hundred years?
At the risk of committing a Blog faux pas, read the whole thing.

We're Not Prepared

The more details come out of the investigation into the Madrid bombings of March 11 of this year, the more I am beginning to get the feeling that I'm walking around with a big target pinned to my back, while the government seems to be calling 'over here!' to our enemies. The first stages of paranoia? Mmm, maybe. I'll try and explain, then you tell me if I'm sliding.

When Italian police arrested Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed in Milan, considered to be one of the masterminds behind the Madrid attacks, they had been tapping his phone conversations for three months. The wealth of information about the planning and motivation of the attacks, is just starting to come out now. Yesterday, Spanish newspaper El Mundo (link in Spanish, local copy kept here)
published new details from the transcripts of Rabei Osman, aka 'Muhammad the Egyptian', in which at the end he mentions a weapon they devised, which looks like a blow dryer and would cause convulsions and high fever (translated, emphasis mine):

Rabei Osman El Sayed Ahmed, aka 'Muhammad the Egyptian', considered to be the brain behind the terrorist attacks of March 11, and arrested in Italy, said that "Madrid is a lesson to Europe, they need to break with the US" and praised the head of the Spanish government, Rodríguez Zapatero, "for valuing Arabs"

'The Egyptian' also called for a large-scale attack in Italy like in Madrid, he assured that Berlusconi is "a dictator" and that his government "will have the same ending as that of Aznar", for following "the American dog", as he referred to George Bush.

[...]

"Madrid is a lesson to Europe, which must understand that they need to break with the Americans. The Berlusconi government is following the same methods as the dog (referring to Bush) and I hope that God will eliminate this government of Berlusconi because it's dictatorial and a destroyer of Islam. We hope that God will give them [Berlusconi government -ed.] a disaster, and that so Italy will have a disaster", stated 'the Egyptian'.

[...]

They're slaves, now that the dog (Bush) comes [this was on the day of President Bush's visit to Rome -ed.] they put all these controls in place which serve nothing, if we want to strike, we can. It's Berlusconi's fault, who is a great dictator", states the terrorist. 'The Egyptian' adds that according to him, all countries that follow the US "will have the same fate as Aznar".

He underlines that after the Madrid attacks, which caused 192 victims, "all the Arabs and all the Spanish went onto the streets, calling Aznar a murderer".

Continuing his conversation, 'the Egyptian' has words of praise for the president of the Spanish government, stating that José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero "inmediately understood the importance of the Arabs, and his rise to power has opened a dialogue".

He attacks Berlusconi again, and they are talking about if what happened in Madrid would take place in Italy, the blame would be on Berlusconi, "whoever follows this dog (Bush) will hurt himself".

On the same day, but later, 'the Egyptian' returns to talk with his friends and he talks with them about a weapon, "in the shape of a hair dryer", which "causes a lot of damage to your health".

He adds that when this weapon, of which more details are lacking, starts to blow hot air, "it heats the temperature a couple of degrees, the body will start to suffer convulsions and it weakens [the target -ed.]and the (body) temperature starts to rise".
My first instinct says Ricin, don't know why, but it may also be Anthrax, but that tends to take longer to cause effect. I'm not a toxin expert here, but Ricin in powdered form, distributed by blow dryers?

Now, this is bad enough, but look at this recent Reuters report about the same terrorist. During his stay in Paris, he was directing the cell(s) in Madrid by phone, masking his calls by hacking into a local bank's phone switch:
Prosecutors this month began a probe into a flurry of calls to Spain and Morocco from a bank in the Val-de-Marne area.

The calls increased significantly in the days before the attack and stopped a few hours before the bombs ripped through a series of commuter trains on March 11, killing 191 people, according to the daily newspaper Le Parisien.

Police have established that the calls were made by "phreaking" -- a practice similar to hacking that bypasses the charging system.

The paper said Rabei Osman Ahmed es-Sayed, alias Mohamed the Egyptian, a suspect in the attacks who was arrested in Milan in June, spent several months in Val-de-Marne last year.
I tried this myself for a while, back in the eighties, but never got it to work, it is hard to do, even though the average techie will snuff at it. This is an enemy using low-end means in a counter-counter terrorist fashion, which absolutely worked.

There's one tidbit of information more I wanted to share. This week it came to light in the local press here, that a second car was used to bring the terrorists to the train stations. It was detected in June, three months after the attacks. On the first day they found a minivan, with detonators and tapes with coranic verses. This time, the police were alerted by the rental company Hertz, who recovered a stolen car from the same spot where they found the minivan, and while cleaning it, they came across a box with clothes, and again tapes. DNA testing proved two persons had been in touch with the items, one a presumed cell leader who blew himself and six other terrorists up, when their hideout was stormed in a suburb of Madrid (they started tearing down the building yesterday), and the other one, well his DNA was found in the other car, but he remains at large.

And now the politicians are calling each other names, because the government decided to keep this under wraps until this week. Recall if you will the whole setup by the Socialists directly after the attacks, inmediately spreading rumors that Aznar's government was lying, (leading exactly to all these Spaniards flooding the streets calling for Aznar's head, to the joy of the terrorists we now know). The PP is fuming that they were forced to inmediately make everything public right after the first attack, while the Socialists are now claiming that they didn't want to harm the ongoing investigation.

I said it right after the attacks, the real-time reporting of progress, by the Interior minister and heads of police, directly endangered the investigation itself, but the PP government felt itself cornered, defending against rumor mongering to which there really was no defense.

Meanwhile, there are intelligent and tech-savvy terrorist cells and at least one plotter of the Madrid attacks out there, and they're working on some Doomsday Weapon.

So, am I being paranoid?

Monday, July 26, 2004

Powerful Bomb Explodes In Holly Hill, Fla. Park

Via Patriot Paradox:

HOLLY HILL, Fla. -- A powerful bomb exploded in a Holly Hill park. Now investigators are on the scene to try to figure out what the bomb was made of and who set it off.

They're saying it's a good thing no one was around when it went off, because this was a big bomb. Investigators are still looking for pieces of the bomb, which are scattered all over the place.

The bomb was in a trashcan there. Investigators say, this was no ordinary pipe bomb.

The Volusia County Bomb Squad is on the scene making sure there are no more devices. They did have their dog out earlier and he didn't find anything.

Investigators are going to be on the scene for some time, trying to find every little piece of the bomb that they can.

Another Foreign Leader For Kerry

Just picked up this little item out of an IDF intelligence briefing by Major-General Aharon Ze'evi, carried by the Jerusalem Post:

Ze'evi said regarding the growing chaos in the Palestinian Authority that one of its causes is PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's decision to "sit and do nothing" until after the US presidential elections, in the hope that US President George W. Bush will be defeated and that the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will fall.
Sharon joked, "Arafat is also waiting for this. I thought only in Israel people were waiting for my downfall."
So, that's one more Foreign Leader for the Kerry Column. Look for his campaign's reply real soon.

Via Eurabian Times.

Reforming Shari'a Law

A bit off-topic, but very interesting nonetheless. Dhimmi Watch pointed me towards an article by the hand of Daniel Pipes, over at FrontPage Magazine. What do you do when you are a celebrated criminal law professor, and the government of a developing nation asks your help in overhauling their criminal code, to address several injustices in the system? Do you offer help? First thoughts would be yes, right?

There's one catch though. As the nation in question is an Islamic state, the country's legal system is based on Islamic Law or Shari'a, so the new criminal code would have to be fitted within this legal framework.

That should make it more difficult. But not to Paul H. Robinson, who accepted the job right away, and thought it'd make a great seminar for his students too. So now U Penn law students are faced with a (three point) course titled “Islamic Criminal Law: Drafting a Criminal Code for the Maldives”. Come again?

The seminar will revolve around a single project: drafting a new criminal code for the Maldives. The work has been requested by the Maldivian government and is sponsored by the United Nations Development Program. Because the Maldives is by constitutional mandate an Islamic nation and, as a matter of law, all citizens are Muslim, the code will be the world’s first criminal code of modern format that is based upon the principles of Shari‘a.

After studying the existing Maldivian criminal law statutes and the criminal law principles contained in Shari’a, student teams will propose criminal code provisions and critique the proposals of others.
First thought upon reading: This is straight out of Judgement At Nuremberg.

There's a couple of issues here, and Pipes addresses some of them, namely Robinson's desire to have a shot at something completely different, as well as Robinson's (honest, I'm sure) desire to do good, and reform a code which currently apparently does more injustice than justice (unfortunately, no examples are given).Writes Pipes:
These are worthy objectives, to be sure, but Professor Robinson should stand back from this project and reassess it. This leading scholar, through his work in the Maldives, will render more acceptable Shar‘i provisions about killing apostates from Islam, subjugating women, keeping slaves, and repressing non-Muslims (in this light, note the matter-of-fact comment in the course description that “as a matter of law, all citizens [of the Maldives] are Muslim”).

Rather than cleanse and modernize the Shar‘i code, I appeal to Professor Robinson to reject the Maldive commission and take a totally different approach in his seminar, critiquing that code’s criminal provisions from a Western point of view. He and his seminar students would then show how this religiously-based legal system contradicts virtually every assumption an American makes, such as the separation of church and state, the abolition of forced servitude, the right not to suffer inhumane punishments, freedom of religion and expression, equality of the sexes, and on and on.
At the end of the article, Professor Robinson replies to Pipes' article. We learn that he does 'criminal law consulting' for a number of countries (I had no idea countries outsourced the leg work for their penal codes!), and counts China among his 'clients', which leads to a funny quote:
A few days ago, one client, China, beheaded a person for embezzlement. (Worse than anything the Maldivians have done.) Should I now refuse to advise them further on what I think a criminal code should look like? Your strategy of willful disengagement seems an odd way of bringing greater justice to the world.
"Professor Robinson?" "Yes?" "It's China on line two, sir, and he sounds a bit shaken." "Put him through, Nancy." "Hello, Professor Robinson?" "Ah Beijing, how are you?" "It happened again, doc."

Well, I guess if you consult China on criminal law, then taking on Shari'a doesn't seem that much out of this world. To the rest of us, Professor Robinson should try to re-connect with the world again. I have an example, some time ago I came across a presentation held at a conference for internet engineers, dealing with filtering of the internet in countries like China and the Gulf states. After dedicating half a slide to the pros and cons of the filtering itself (I recall from my head, with one line in the 'con' column, 'public opinion'), the presentation went on for some thirty slides on how to best do it. Just like that. And the engineer holding the presentation by the way was American too.

What I'm trying to say is, that some people are so into their work, they no longer feel the moral constraints you and I would, they're in some sort of moral 'Matrix' zone, just seeing actions, problems, solutions, improvements. Not asking about the why, the how, of the situation at hand, or the ultimate results of their own actions. And afterwards it would cost them to see. Like in the beforementioned movie, the German lawyer yelling out "It was the Law!!"

Think about this one, and I want to say up front that I'm no law scholar, if Shari'a Law states that (criminal) laws that flow from it, only can be applied to Muslims or those who freely subject themselves to being tried in an Islamic court, and you have a country which declares itself by law as 100% Muslim, then doesn't that suggest that revamping, modernizing, reforming, or any other change to a Shari'a penal code will not in any way help bring 'justice' to the system?

Professor Robinson, and his students who signed up for his seminar, stand a very good chance of being used to polish up, humanify if you will, part of a system which will use it to further strenghten itself, not as a basis for widespread reform.

Next year Nigeria?

Update: Thanks to Little Green Footballs, who originally posted on it, a link to an overview of some examples of Shari'a Law, courtesy of Boston Indymedia.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

One Hundred Days

Today marks the first one hundred days in office of Spain's Socialist government.

Today also marks one hundred days until Election Day in the United States.

One hundred days ago, a free election in Spain was marred by terrorist attacks, just three days before, and the then opposition Socialist party jumped on it with demagogic fervor, to win. People were led on by emotions and fear. A regime was changed, instigated by terrorist action, followed up by politics.

One hundred days from now, the American People will choose their President, who will have to see them through the tough road ahead in the War on Terror. Will it be George W. Bush? Will it be John F. Kerry?

An attempted attack may be in the works, it may not be. Will the American People see preparations to avert one, as prudent or politics?

And in the case of a successful attack, will the American People cower, or will they prove the world they will not allow to be tread upon? Will the next President lead his nation, or return to politics, spurred on by cognitive dissonance among terrorized voters?

From afar, freedom-loving people everywhere are silently hoping and praying. One hundred days.

Morocco Warns Spain On 400 Terrorists

Reuters Spain (link in Spanish) confirms an earlier report today in El Pais, which stated that during a meeting with anti-terrorist judge Garzón in Rabat this month, Morocco conveyed the warning that out of six hundred Moroccan terrorists, who trained in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and elsewhere, they only know the whereabouts of about 200. The current location and activities of the other 400 are unknown.

Four hundred. That's a lot of Al Qaeda terrorists. Wonder if they'd be using the summer's mass transit of Moroccan tourists from all over Europe, to infiltrate?

Predicting Terrorist Attacks

..is generally very hard. I came across an OpEd in the Washington Times by Walid Phares, who acts as an terrorism analyst on MSNBC and Fox. In it, he points to a number of concrete US targets for Al Qaeda in the coming months, based on the presumption that the Jihadists are intelligent, and generally have an in-depth knowledge of the internal politics of their enemies:

I believe that the jihadists have a sophisticated view of their enemies; hence, they do aim at the internal political processes of the systems they fight against. Political conventions are targets, but not the only ones, not at all times, and only when the terrorists' objective is locked in their crosshairs.
Historically, jihadists draw from examples where infidels have been pit against other infidels. To bring them down is the will of Allah, they postulate. How to do it, and in what circumstances, is the job of the jihadi strategic planners. From Sudan to Afghanistan, jihadi tactics have reaked havoc among their opponents' unity. Even the "Ghazwa" (raids) of New York and Washington were aimed at provoking chaos within the United States. Al Qaeda's masters have a thorough knowledge of American political institutions and of U.S. political culture. Jihadi intellectuals have lived here, visited this country and are constantly keeping themselves abreast of our nation's state of mind.
Osama bin Laden wanted to create a deep division in the United States as a result of his mass killing of 3,000 men and women in less than 30 minutes in 2001. He may have miscalculated on the timing, but here we are three years after the attacks, and, indeed, the American political establishment is split on the war on terror and on Iraq. The Madrid attacks reaffirmed this winning formula in al Qaeda's mind. By striking well, with good timing, you've got the infidels reacting as you wish, think these jihadists.
This desire to create a divided house among their enemies, translates into a number of concrete opportunities for Al Qaeda in this election year, although he's quick to admit that they're all theoretical and speculative:
1) Striking the Democratic convention in Boston: Jihadist expectations would be that the American public would give an overwhelming victory to the anti-Bush campaign out of compassion for the victims.
2) Attempting an assassination against Democratic candidates would, in the mind of al Qaeda produce the same result, and hence, rush the incumbent out of the Oval Office.
3) Striking the Republican Convention and attempting to eliminate the incumbent administration's leadership would create such a hole — close to election day — that it would be impossible to advance another serious Republican ticket. By jihadi imagination, fear would push voters to chose the less "adventurous" candidates.
4) Other horrific enterprises would be to strike at other sites while one or the other convention is taking place, so that the political message during the event would be affected.
Phares believes that Al Qaeda will draw on 'inside' operatives, native-born Americans who have converted to their cause, who will cause far less suspicion.

To me, this was another reminder of two closed down DARPA programs, TIA (Total Information Awareness) and FutureMap (also referred to as Policy Analysis Market). City Journal has an excellent article by Heather Mac Donald on how both programs got axed by civil liberties advocates, who mostly based their arguments on scare-mongering and were preaching to a low-tech audience, high on Hollywood movies.
Then, in August 2003, an unsettling DARPA anti-terror notion came to light—a projected futures market in predicting destabilizing geopolitical events, such as wars, assassinations, and terror attacks. Since markets are highly efficient at aggregating information, went the idea—still just blue-sky theorizing—a bad-news predictions market would give intelligence analysts access to knowledge about the world that they might otherwise miss. After all, political elections markets—really little more than highly formal betting operations—have proven far better at predicting vote outcomes than pundits. The goal of DARPA’s FutureMap was to avert human destruction, but understandably it was almost universally condemned as incentivizing death, should terrorists infiltrate the market and use it as an insurance policy. Poindexter did not lead the project, but within 48 hours, he was forced to resign. Weeks later, Congress shut down his entire DARPA office and, with it, TIA research. Ecstatic privocrats danced on TIA’s grave.
Thanks to these 'privocrats' and pundits, we are left to human speculation and pondering on if, where and when a next attack will take place. A futures market, on which only accredited traders from the intelligence communities would have been able to trade, would in my opinion have had the same effect on predicting terrorist attacks, as now has the Iowa Electronic Markets, which for numerous election cycles has produced far better predictions than any opinion poll ever has. Limiting trading in 'terror futures' to the intelligence community, buying and selling among them, using all their classified intelligence information to base their actions on, would have further enhanced its predictability, excluding sentiment-driven 'shorting' of Bin Laden's survival chances.

It's a shame it will never see the light. A very cutting-edge project, it would have provdided the intelligence community and the Department of Homeland Security with a support tool that would have put it light years ahead of the rest of the world in enabling them where to look for terrorist threats.

Looking at the intelligence mess in the US now, the decision to axe FutureMap without even listening to its advocates, may come back to haunt us in the (near) future.

The Moderate Voice

Time for a small endorsement. In my search for other blogs dealing with Spain, preferrably in English to better share with the rest of us, I came across The Moderate Voice, written by Joe Gandelman. Joe is a blogger and freelance writer, and lived in Spain between 1975 and 1978, covering Franco's last days up until the country's first free elections for The Christian Science Monitor and doing some call-in reports for NPR.

He pointed me to some of his writings (on his old site, link is to the March 2004 archive, so scroll down) on the Madrid terrorist attacks and following elections, and I must say that rereading some of that again just brought back all the frustration of having to accept defeat, by popular demand.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Peace Through Courts

Haaretz carries an amazing report of EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana to Israel, where both prime minister Ariel Sharon and foreign minister Silvan Shalom warned him that because of the EU's vote at the UN last Wednesday condemming Israel's separation fence, they don't see how the EU could take an impartial stance.

"Israel has an interest in integrating the international community, especially Europe, in a [peace] process with the Palestinians," Sharon told Solana, according to a statement issued by his office. "But without a radical change in the European position, especially in relation to Israel's security and its need to defend itself, that will be difficult to do."

Shalom was even blunter, delivering his message at a joint press conference in Tel Aviv, with Solana standing alongside. "I find myself challenged to convince the Israeli people that the European Union is a [diplomatic] partner we can trust," he said.

But Solana did not seem alarmed. "We will be involved whether you want us or not," the EU foreign policy chief told Shalom.
It's no secret that without the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to meddle in, there's not a whole lot of 'EU foreign policy' left for Solana.
Solana defended the EU's support for the resolution, which called on Israel to comply with the advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The ICJ said that Israel should dismantle the fence throughout the West Bank and compensate the Palestinians.

"The United Nations and international institutions such as the International Court of Justice are in our view important components in the campaign to attain peace and security around the world," Solana said. "A majority of 150 states supported the court's decision. We know what you think about the UN, but you can't stop us from honoring the decisions of the ICJ or the General Assembly. We will continue to support the UN in the future."
Note how every island state, dictatorship and other undemocratic entity with a seat at the UN's table does get counted this time by Solana. The EU will continue to support the UN in the future, taking itself two steps back from the world's stage of the coming fifty years than closer to it, in my opinion. Rather than changing course now, the EU's desparatation to cling to this idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy of World Peace through courts and the UN will drive them more and more towards alignment with this and the next generation's bad guys.

Peace Through Strength


the USS Ronald Reagan
Today the USS Ronald Reagan - CVN76, is coming home today after her first trip, taking her and her 3600-head crew safely from Norfolk via the Magellan Strait to her home port of San Diego. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan and her son Michael Reagan are aboard greeting the sailors.

Celebrate and off to the Strait of Hormuz?

Spain's Socialists Interfering In US Affairs

Spain's Socialist government's obsession with tearing down anything their predecessor Aznar's government, and the intented defiling of his image specifically, reached a whole new level yesterday with left-wing radio station Cadena Ser claiming that Aznar has intended to 'buy' the US Congress Gold Medal, for his support as a staunch ally of the US in the War on Terror.

Claiming that his government used taxpayer's money to 'secure' the medal, they back up their claims by presenting an invoice from Piper Rudnick, a Washington-based lobbying firm, for work relating to developing Spain's image with the American public, normal lobbying stuff. But, in a country led by old-school Socialists who never really understood what lobbying is, being more accustomed themselves to receiving payoffs, kickbacks, or blackmail, combined with their utter disconnect in understanding American society in general and their political process in particular, their logical conclusion was that hiring a lobbying firm is tantamount to paying US Congressmen and women to vote for awarding José Maria Aznar with one of the US' highest honors open to foreigners.

Their reasoning is simple, if it pans out the way they hope, they may prevent the US Congress in awarding Aznar this medal, assuming that Congress would want to avoid being caught up in a 'scandal'. If it doesn't go that far, at least they score points in defiling Aznar's image at home, and revisioning his PP parties eight years in power.

A period by the way, marked by the complete absence of corruption schandals, so illustrative of the prior periods of Socialist rule in this very young democracy.

This latest 'scandal' follows on the heels of accusations by the Socialists that Aznar has kept back intelligence service reports relating to the March 11 bombings. Documents that every Prime Minister would receive as copies, as normal procedure, so nothing's missing. But people, especially the socialist-voting kind, seem easily convinced, and when the whole press is adding speculation etc., some truth must be in it, right?

To the outside world it must show the complete contempt the Socialist government is showing the US and its highest governing institutions, by clamoring about Aznar's purchase of the Congressional Gold Medal.

Update 07/26/2004: Iberian Notes shows how to put down stupid rumor-mongering like this.

Europe's Eternal Jew

Over at Spanish blog HispaLibertas, Manel writes on an interesting commentary by a former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Per Ahlmark. I found a copy of his commentary in English, which shows that not all Swedes are neutered Germans. Ahlmark writes on the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism (if you care to make that distinction) and the linkeage he sees with the also rising and rabid anti-Americanism. Steven den Beste wrote on this subject before, and I added some thoughts of my own here.

Ahlmark opines that the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism alike, is formed by "a kind of blindness, combined with a strange mixture of alienation, guilt, and fear toward both Israel and America":

Millions of Europeans resist seeing Israel as a country fighting for its survival. Israel cannot afford to lose one major war, as it would mean the end of the Jewish democratic state. But huge numbers of Europeans believe that something is fundamentally wrong with the Israelis: they never compromise; they prefer using military means to solve political problems.

Something similar is at work in the European attitude to the US. Look at Europe, many Europeans say, we have eradicated wars, dangerous nationalism, and dictatorships. We created a peaceful European Union. We do not wage war; we negotiate. We do not exhaust our resources on weapons. The rest of the planet should learn from us how to live together without terrorizing each other.
It is sadly true. It is frustrating discussing with an average European on the matter, and moreso if you hold up the theory that their lack of experience or remembrance (for Eastern Europeans luckily, this is far less the case) to ever having to fight for their freedom and democracies, makes them out of touch with the realities of this world. Inevitably it gets greeted by looks of utter disbelief, leaving you inmediately discarded as a war-loving right-wing nut. Ahlmark addresses this sentiment as follows, and explains how it is fictional:
As a Swede, I have heard such pacific boasting all my life: that neutral Sweden is a moral superpower. Now this bragging has become the EU's ideology. We are the moral continent. Call this the "Swedenization" of Europe.

Yes, today's EU is a miracle for a continent where two modern totalitarian movements - Communism and Nazism - unleashed rivers of blood. But what Europe forgets is how those ideologies were overcome. Without the US Army, Western Europe would not have been liberated in 1945. Without the Marshall Plan and NATO, it would not have taken off economically. Without the policy of containment under America's security umbrella, the Red Army would have strangled the dream of freedom in Eastern Europe, or brought European unity, but under a flag with red stars.
To deal with the threat of terrorism, and other world events where freedom is pitted against totalitarianism, Europeans have constructed their own world, Ahlmark notes.
Instead of supporting those who fight international terrorism, many Europeans try to blame the spread of terrorism on Israel and the US. This is a new European illusion. Spain's latter day appeasement à la Munich arises from this thinking.
It explains why Europe seeks to align its policies with this illusion, more and more openly calling for the 'War on Terror' to be seen as a judicial affair, with more attention to root causes. The same is happening in Spain as official government policy, just recently.

To explain the roots of all this, Ahlmark turns to British writer Ian Buruma, who claims that Europe's anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism stem from guilt and fear, leading to 'fat guts' at home and pacifism abroad. He sees the visible merger of the two in the term 'neocon', something I absolutely subscribe to and I resent the term fully because of it.
The two world wars led to such catastrophic carnage that "never again" was interpreted as "welfare at home, non-intervention abroad." The problem with this concept is that it could only survive under the protection of American might.

Extreme anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism are actually merging. The so-called peace poster "Hitler Had Two Sons: Bush and Sharon," displayed in European anti-war rallies, combines trivialization of Nazism with demonization of both the victims of Nazism and those who defeated Nazism.

Much of this grows from a subconscious European guilt related to the Holocaust. Now the Holocaust's victims - and their children and grandchildren - are supposedly doing to others what was done to them. By equating the murderer and the victim, we wash our hands.

This pattern of anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism returns again and again. "The ugly Israeli" and "the ugly American" seem to be of the same family. "The ugly Jew" becomes the instrumental part of this defamation when so-called neoconservatives are blamed both for American militarism and Israeli brutalities and then selectively named: Wolfowitz, Perle, Abrams, Kristol, etc. This is a new version of the old myth that Jews rule the US.
Europe needs to stop and take a close look at where it is heading. It needs to revisit the idea that 'History is over', and the concept of 'Just War'. It needs to accept its history, and understand that its reaction to it has been flawed, setting Europeans up to repeat it, rather than avoid making the same mistakes ever again.

As for the US' part, they need to get tough with Europe. I guess that's why I'm in favor of replacing NATO with new, purpose-oriented alliances with separate European nations. Like a parent that after fifty years decides it's time for Junior to move out of the basement and get a life of his own, The US need to push Europe out into the real world. Junior won't move out by himself.

Winds Of Change
just now posted on the same subject, which makes for a good accompanying read.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Soft Target

The Guardian today publishes a commentary by Timothy Garton Ash, who uses his experience to travel to the US on a J-1 visa to write on all the hassle he experienced (J-1 visa were the visa-of-choice of some of the 9/11 terrorists) and linking it to yet another Bin-Laden-Wants-Bush-To-Win-In-November theory.

To explain his theory, he tells us that the US is rapidly losing its 'soft power' in the world, by which he refers to "its power to attract others and to get them to do what it wants because they find it attractive". To roughly determine 'soft power', Garton Ash uses what he calls the 'Statue of Liberty test': the number of people trying to get in, divided by the number of people trying to get out (or, in the case of the US, just leaving).

He could have used US exports (up), or Free Trade Agreements signed (Morocco, Australia, Chile,ASEAN countries, Thailand, among others) or things like that, but I guess he wanted to stick with the coat hanger for his comments, and settled with immigration divided by emigration.

Which of course, produces the highest rating of any large country in the world.

Not thrown off by this, Garton Ash reaches deeper:

But this is more than just a personal grouse. Heads of leading American universities have publicly complained that such bureaucratic and intrusive procedures are reducing the number of foreign students willing and able to come to study in the US. (I have heard it argued in London that this creates a significant opportunity for British universities.) This raises the larger question of whether the United States' "soft power", its power to attract others and to get them to do what it wants because they find it attractive, has been diminished by the way the Bush administration has reacted to the 9/11 attacks. That, in turn, raises the even larger question of who is winning this "war": al-Qaida or the US?
So, because some American universities may find it harder to recruit students in foreign countries (which countries he doesn't say), Al Qaeda is winning the War on Terror?
Yet its overall attractiveness surely has been diminished, not just by such bureaucratic procedures, but by Guantánamo, by Iraq, by a certain harsh, militarist, nationalist approach to world affairs, and by a mistaken belief that the "war on terror" can be won mainly, if not solely, by military, intelligence and police means.

If you look at the results of the worldwide survey conducted by the Pew Research Centre, you can see that resentment of America around the world has reached unprecedented levels in the last two years. The Bush administration has imperilled the economic dimension of American power, by running up $500bn trade and budget deficits while increasing military spending to $400bn, and it has largely neglected the third, soft dimension. Meanwhile, even the one in five Americans who possess a passport have become more reluctant to travel outside North America. To give just one small example: American customers of Avis car rentals in Europe are down 40% on 2000 levels. There's a real sense of a "Fortress America".
Hehe, gotta love that effort to put the 'á' in Guantánamo. The Pew survey I recall is about a year old, and as to the economic dimension of American power, it made me think of another successful US President. But wait, it's the Soft Dimension (ie. heads of certain US universities)! How he links all this to Americans' reluctance to travel abroad (go figure) backed up by lower car rentals in Europe and weaves it into the concept of 'Fortress America' is beyond me, frankly. Kind of comes off as a guy being bored at an airport, with some old newspapers around and a friendly Avis hostess nearby.

He then goes on to make a case for Kerry (to whom he refers as "the liberal, multilateralist, French-speaking John Kerry"), hoping that he can restore the "Kennedyesque glow" to America. He thinks it might be too late for Europe, though:
I find many people in Europe already answer that question with a firm no. Something deeper has changed, they say. Even if America reverts to its previous form, attitudes towards America will not.

But I wouldn't be so sure. Perhaps it's just the effect of sitting here in the Californian sunshine, watching this extraordinary multi-ethnic society working all around me, but I think America's underlying attractions are still all there - damaged by 9/11, diminished by economic competition from booming Asia, but still formidable. If Kerry can summon a spark of charisma, aided by his appealing running mate John Edwards, and if the monstrous ego of Ralph Nader will kindly fall under an appropriately eco-friendly bus, the Democrat has a chance of reminding us that the other America still exists. And much of the world, even the Arab and Muslim world, will respond.
Yep, and we all know how certain elements in the Arab and Muslim world responded the last time the US had this magical Kennedyesque glow and we all felt history was over.

Which leads us to his conclusions, and if you've read this far, you've probably given up on finding any logic in his reasoning, and you'll love this bit:
Which is why, if Osama bin Laden is still in a fit state to make political calculations, he must be backing an election victory for George Bush. The object of the terrorist is often to reveal the "true" repressive character of the state against which the terror is directed, and thus win further support for the terrorists' cause. If the United States had just acted in Afghanistan, and then concentrated on hoovering-up the remains of al-Qaida, the United States might clearly be winning the war on terror today. But, as bin Laden must have hoped, the Bush administration overreacted, and thus provided, in Iraq and Guantánamo, recruiting sergeants for al-Qaida of which Osama could only dream.

So in this looking-glass world of backhanded ironies, Republicans are covertly supporting their most extreme opponent, Ralph Nader, because he will take votes from John Kerry, and al-Qaida terrorists will be backing Bush, because he's their best recruiter. But can they do anything to affect the outcome of an American presidential election? Of course they can. A major terrorist attack on the American homeland a few days before November 2 would almost certainly not have the effect that the Madrid pre-election bombing had, sending swing voters to the anti-war opposition.

In a recent opinion poll for the Economist, handling the war on terror was one of the few areas in which American voters favoured Bush over Kerry. It seems likely there would be a wave of patriotic solidarity with the incumbent. In short, Bush's election chances may depend on the ruthless ingenuity of al-Qaida, while Kerry's election chances may depend on the ability of Bush's department of homeland security to combat it.
If the United States had just acted in Afghanistan, as Garton Ash states, then most probably he would have been telling us now that if only we had lobbed a few nukes into his training camps, then we surely would be winning the War on Terror today. Instead, according to him, we did exactly what Bin Laden hoped for by going all out after them. That makes Bin Laden sound a lot like a dumb fighter, blocking punches with his face.

And finally, he argues that an attack right before the elections in November, would probably drive voters en masse into the Republican camp, leading Garton Ash to think that this would be exactly what Al Qaeda would want to see happen. Seems to me he's trying to do the following: first, he's hedging his bets, by setting up the stage so that in a case of a Republican victory, with or without a terrorist attack prior to November 2, afterwards he's able to claim either the President's hand in letting an attack take place. Secondly, he's portraying Al Qaeda and the Republicans as being on the same level, each needing the other to survive, opening the door to all those relativists who will want to decry them both in equal terms after a re-election victory for President Bush.

And do you really think he'd be mentioning the Department of Homeland Security after a Kerry win?

Hat tip to W.

Algerian Forces In GSPC Offensive

Algeria's Le Matin today reports (link in French) on a still ongoing ANP (anti-terrorist units) led assault against Al Qaeda-linked GSPC strongholds in the region, now in its thirteenth day of operations. The battle seems to be focusing on an area east of Boumerdès (appr. 30 km east of Algiers), where yesterday soldiers ran into a minefield, wounding four. Helicopter support was called in, and units are combing the foresty area for other terrorists. Between Saturday and Monday, two terrorists have been captured and three others killed.

As part of the same offensive, ANP Units are reported to be surrounding GSPC strongholds in Ghzerwal, another 30 kilometers east of Boumerdès, and mortar bombardments by Algeria's regular army are underway southwest of Boumerdès, against GSPC positions in the area.

Two comments I want to make on this, first, it's being reported that Algeria is rolling up the GSPC, who, having lost their principal leaders, are said to be in disarray. Looking at the reports above, one might say this is in line, but two things keep bugging me. One, these are operations in areas quite close to the nation's capital, and secondly, apparently they have strongholds there. To me this doesn't seem like mopping up, but proof that the GSPC is receiving support and shelter from local populations, and is not limited to roaming around the desert in Toyota pickups.

I do believe Algeria is making headway in ridding the country of its terrorists. But the opposition seems much deeper rooted than one might think.

Iran Renews Crackdown On Internet

Reuters is reporting that Tehran is considering drafting new laws to 'regulate' that country's internet access, as well as access to satellite tv stations:

The Islamic state has been seeking ways to control Iranians' access to external influences via satellite TV and the World Wide Web for years.

Satellite dishes and receivers are officially prohibited, although enforcement is sporadic and an estimated 3 million homes receive satellite TV.

Fatemeh Rahbar, head of the media section of parliament's Cultural Committee, told IRNA: "Iranian society is using the Internet and satellite dishes. Therefore, the only solution now is organising (their use)."

Rahbar gave no details on how parliament planned to do this.

Iranian authorities are particularly concerned about the "corrupting" influence of Western music and film channels and about a number of California-based channels run by Iranian exiles, which they accuse of stirring up unrest against the country's clerical leaders.

The government has promoted Internet use and some 5 million Iranians now log on regularly, officials say. But Internet service providers are required to block access to sites containing pornographic material or anti-regime content.

Iran's hardline Guardian Council legislative watchdog last year rejected a bill that would have eased the widely flouted ban on satellite TV by allowing certain channels to be viewed using officially approved receivers.
It's a bit off topic for this site, but as a fervent believer that Iran is, much more than Iraq ever was, the true Nemesis in our War on Terror, I thought I'd mention it here. For more on Iran, be sure to read anything Michael Ledeen has to say on the subject.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

A Thousand Little Bears

Steven Den Beste over at USS Clueless has an incredible post, starting with a review of Rob Foot's article in Quadrant Magazine about the New Anti-Semitism, with which he refers to anti-Americanism. Be sure to read Foot's article in full, as it traces the roots of the new, virolent anti-Americanism we're witnessing all over the world, like here in Spain and the rest of Europe.

Opinions will vary on when it was the socialist dream really died: Budapest, 1956; Prague, 1968; Tiananmen Square, 1989; Berlin, 1989. For my part, I think it died that day in 1989 when Czechoslovakia opened its borders to Austria. For the first time ever, an institutional socialist state said to its people, as all the democratic states say to theirs: "You are free to leave if you want to." As one, or so it seemed at the time, almost every physically able person in Eastern Europe packed a single bag and toothbrush, petrolled up the Trabant, and raced for the hole in the wall. Nothing could have made it clearer that socialism's prison had never been their choice, and they wanted out.

At about that time, the Australian media reported a demonstration in Prague, which included an old Czech woman's bitter malediction upon socialism. As I remember it, the cameras captured her shaking fists, her contorted face and angry tears attesting more eloquently than words to a lifetime lost to misery and terror as, furiously, she shouted - in English! - "They should have tried it on animals first!" It had probably never been possible to tell her that George Orwell had done just that, in Animal Farm, but had not been widely enough heeded. It seems not too bold a prediction to say that no sovereign state will ever again choose socialism for its forward pathway.

This is the font and source of the Left's rage and hate. The wrong side, the wrong ideas, the wrong attitudes and the wrong people had somehow contrived to win. And then, on top of the political and economic victories heralded by end of the Cold War, unsupportable enough in themselves, there came the USA's seemingly effortless military victory over Iraq in 1991 - in a war, as we remember, that the hard Left was unanimous in opposing, despite the fact it was unarguably just. The Left's fury and frustration boiled over. Who to blame for its immense, unimaginable defeat? To its question, "Why did the right side, the right ideas, the right attitudes and the right people not win?" the Left found a single, simple, one-word answer: Amerika. The rest, as they say, is polemics: the unending regurgitation of that helpless, futile response.
He takes as an example the book "Why Do People Hate America" by Ziauddin Sardar, a postmodernist cultural critic, and Merryl Wyn Davies, said to be a writer and anthropologist. In it they lay out what they think are the principal reasons for the world's hatred towards the US.
First, the existential: "The US has simply made it too difficult for other people to exist." The USA has contrived to structure the international economy to guarantee perpetual enrichment of itself, and abject poverty for everyone else (at least, the non-Western world).

Second, the cosmological: America has replaced God as the "cause of everything". Further, imperial America is engaged on a project that involves the consumption of all time and space, and aspires to consuming all non-American people; "Inducted into the cosmological structure of America, the rest of the world will vanish."

The third is ontological: America has replaced the notion of "good" with the notion of itself, as the binary opposite to "evil". Thus, America can only be good and virtuous, and only America can be such.

The fourth is definitional: American has assumed the right to define what it means even to be human, and that only in terms of its own identity. American values are therefore the only ones that any longer actually are.
After which he goes on to debunk this nonsense, warning that when replacing "America" for "Jews" some very scary similarities are appearing.


Soviet Propaganda

Steven Den Beste agrees with him, and on his blog he picks an example, a poor fellow named Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, and completely deconstructs the guy by his writings. It's very entertaining to read.

I agree with Foot, in that since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Left has turned its hate directly at the US, and never let go ever since. Visiting friends in Europe, I noticed the difference in attitude towards the US during the 90's, and even moreso after 9/11.

What I do not agree on with him, is that he sees them falling apart at the seams, and that before long it will lose all respectability. I think the opposite is true, their ever-increasing level of vitriol in their conspiracy theories against the US, supported and fueled by radical Islam's own agenda, are having the effect that it's only becoming more accepted, more mainstream. And meanwhile Europe is more and more becoming a big 'communist' state itself, where over 60 per cent of GDP nowadays comes out of government spending. Combine the two, and you will see not just Europe, but think of Brazil and other countries around the world, move towards something which will have all the anti-American rhetoric of an old-fashioned communist state, coming out of countries, whose economies are semi-government run, and which all have medium to large impediments on personal freedoms. And all by election, too.

Won't that be a back-door victory of sorts for communism?

My real problem is, there ain't a whole lot we can do about it. Liberal democracy tends to feel insulated from intellectual attacks such as leveled against it by the Hard Left, the proof is in our success, right? We don't go root out 'subversive elements' to Capitalist doctrine wherever we encounter it, right? Back in the days of the Soviet Union, armed to the teeth with nukes, there was a reason to challenge anti-democratic voices, to be vigilant and to prove, not on the battlefield, but in our freedoms, our economic and intellectual successes, that we had the upper hand and defeat was not an option.

But now, rather than faced with a big Soviet Bear, we seem faced by thousands of tiny little bears, and some camels thrown in for measure. We don't feel the need to address them all individually, but they sure feel a need to address us. In that sense, fascism and nazism have been dealt with far more effectively.

This Means War

Ok, just a quick post. I am hugely ~€#$@%&/ off today, a friend of mine recently (three weeks ago, actually) sent me two Xbox games by mail out of the UK. Here they sell the same games, only dubbed with Spanish voices (like tv shows and movies). That's not right. So my friend sent me XIII and Driv3r, excellent games with lots of speech. XIII was on my list for a while, but never got it, because of the dubbing.

It never arrived.

There's a postal worker somewhere between London and Madrid, enjoying MY games at the moment. I've given up on ever getting them, and I feel like going postal.

Anti-Dentite

One of my problems with Spain is always having to be on guard when reading the Spanish press. You know how you can pick up your favorite newspaper, and go through all the news and OpEd pages, generally feeling content and hoping for the next bit? Well, don't have that here. Sometimes I feel trapped in a Seinfeld episode, you know, the one about the Anti-Dentite:

Jerry: Hi, Mr. Abbott.

Mr. Abbott: That's Dr. Abbott, D.D.S. Tim Whatley was one of my students. And if this wasn't my son's wedding day, I'd knock you teeth out you anti-dentite bastard.

Beth: What was that all about?

Jerry: Oh, I said something about dentists and it got blown all out of proportion.

Beth: Hey, what do you call a doctor who fails out of med school?

Jerry: What?

Beth: A dentist. (They laugh)

Jerry: That's a good one. Dentists.

Beth: Yeah, who needs 'em? Not to mention the Blacks and the Jews. (Jerry fakes a smile)

A little later

Elaine: Where's Beth?

Jerry: She went out to get her head shaved.
It's like, just when you think you've figured out a newspaper for instance, they say something that puts everything you thought you knew about them on its head. Take Spanish newspaper ABC for instance. I read ABC daily, think it's one of the more conservative newspapers here, and seem to get it right most of the times.

But then today it runs a backgrounder on (link in Spanish) on Musa Arafat, Yasser's cousin and recently promoted from his old spot as security chief in Gaza to the PA's security chief, only to be demoted back again within 24 hours. ABC's Juan Cierco tells of his torture practices, his Jewish nickname "Moshe" his enemies have given him, and he recalls how Musa Arafat was involved in the death of a Spanish kid, who lived with his parents in 'Palestine', and who got shot during a protest march in Ramalah:
El 25 de octubre de 1998, mucho antes de la Intifada de Al Aqsa que luego tapó todo, Musa, «Moshe», mandaba los Servicios Militares de Información de Ramala cuando dio el visto bueno para que sus hombres dispararan a bocajarro contra una manifestación pacífica de muchachos palestinos.

Los chavales protestaban contra sus prácticas abusivas y los registros de las oficinas de las juventudes de Al Fatah. Volaron algunas piedras, se quemaron varios neumáticos, se entonaron lemas contra los Arafat.

Una de esas balas, disparada con carga mortal y asesina contra jóvenes inocentes, fue a parar a la cabeza de un muchacho español, Wasim Tarifi Marín, de 16 años de edad, hijo del prestigioso doctor Yusef Tarifi y de Rosalinda Marín, una corajuda aragonesa que vive desde hace 25 años en Palestina y que desde aquellas dramáticas fechas lleva dibujada en su rostro la silueta de un dolor nunca apagado.


On 25 October, 1998, long before the Al Aqsa Intifadah, which later covered everything up, Musa, "Moshe", headed the military intelligence service in Ramalah when he gave approval to his men to open fire at a peaceful demonstration by Palestinian youths, at point blank range.

The kids were protesting the abusive practices [of the PA -V-Man] and house searches at the Al Fatah youth organizations. They threw some rocks, they lit some tires and shouted slogans against Arafat.

One of the bullets, shot to kill innocent youths, stopped at the head of a Spanish boy, Wasim Tarifi Marín, 16 years old and son of the renowned physician Yusef Tarifi and Rosalinda Marín, a brave woman from Aragon, who have lived in Palestine for over 25 years, and who since those dramatic days carry with them a never ending pain, carved in their faces.
Ok, let's skip the glorification of this Spanish Palestinian kid, anyone protesting Arafat because he's searching their offices (in the Clinton days of "Look, I'm dealing with terrorism!"), is on the wrong side of the wrong side, no matter who his parents are. I usually accept a certain nationalist chauvinism, this is a country where regional separatism plays a big part, which triggers an extra dose of national pride. And I'll skip the proze too. I know, it's like reading Pravda, or better still, anything coming out of Granma. I don't know what that is, except that journalists here consider themselves writers, much like tv news people consider themselves directors of their own little movies every night. Sois.

But then they close the article with this stinging remark:
Hoy Musa Arafat, «Moshe» para sus enemigos, nombre hebreo para un palestino que muchas veces no lo parece, campa a sus anchas odiado por casi todos.

Today, Musa Ararat, "Moshe" to his enemies, a Hebrew name for a Palestinian who often doesn't appear like one, seems at ease being hated by almost everyone.
Where's Juan Cierco?

He went out to get his head shaved.