Archive for November, 2005

Joe Lieberman and George W. Bush: Stay the Course in Iraq

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

While Democrats like John Kerry blame American troops for Iraq’s “insurgency” and advocate we cut and run — after so much has been accomplished there — Joe Lieberman disagrees. In fact, he agrees that President Bush does have a plan for Iraq.

First, Bush:

Rebuilding Iraq will require a sustained commitment from many nations, including our own: we will remain in Iraq as long as necessary, and not a day more.

Now, one of the few remaining sane Democrats, Lieberman:

Here is an ironic finding I brought back from Iraq. While U.S. public opinion polls show serious declines in support for the war and increasing pessimism about how it will end, polls conducted by Iraqis for Iraqi universities show increasing optimism. Two-thirds say they are better off than they were under Saddam, and a resounding 82% are confident their lives in Iraq will be better a year from now than they are today. What a colossal mistake it would be for America’s bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory. …

Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes we do. And it is important to make it clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still but has changed over the years. Mistakes, some of them big, were made after Saddam was removed, and no one who supports the war should hesitate to admit that; but we have learned from those mistakes and, in characteristic American fashion, from what has worked and not worked on the ground. The administration’s recent use of the banner “clear, hold and build” accurately describes the strategy as I saw it being implemented last week.


Peres and Sharon: Pragmatic Alliance

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

Shimon Peres, long-time Israeli Labour Party leader, announced today that he will throw his support to Ariel Sharon, long-time but now ex-Likud Party leader. Talk about seismic shifts in Israeli politics. But, pragmatically, this is not all so surprising.

The beauty of democracy is that it is self-correcting, and tends to favor the middle of the political spectrum. Sharon’s Likud Party moved too far to the right for him. And Peres’s Labour Party just elected Amir Peretz, who, according to James Reynolds,

…is, without any doubt, old Labour and old Israel. He wants his country to rediscover its roots as a socialist state.

The Jewish state has made too great of economic strides to go back to the “old Israel.”

Sharon angered his party by withdrawing from Gaza, but I would argue that his decision was pragmatic. By leaving Gaza, Sharon hoped to strengthen Israel proper, and ensure it has defensible borders under any future peace accords. Defending settlements was costly and difficult. Sharon also gave “world opinion” what it has been clamoring for, an end to “occupation.” Post-withdrawal Palestinian chaos in Gaza has shown the spotlight on how ineffective the Palestinian Authority really is.

So, all-in-all, an alliance between Sharon and Peres is to be expected, and is merely a sign that Israeli voters want both peace with Palestinians, and security from terrorism — without allowing Arabs to commit another genocide.


Cindy Sheehan: Hero to the Enemy

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

Cindy Sheehan’s anti-war stance is “resonating” with the enemy that kills American troops and lots of Shiite Iraqi civilians. From the Washington Post:

“The people of Fallujah love Cindy Sheehan,” declared Farouk Abd-Muhammed, a [Sunni] candidate for National Assembly in Dec. 15 elections, referring to the mother of a slain Marine who became a U.S. antiwar activist. He spoke Tuesday at a pre-election meeting of local leaders in Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, scene of the largest U.S. offensive of the war in November 2004.

Abd-Muhammed described watching recent television reports with his family showing Americans waving banners that read “Stop the war in Iraq.”

“I salute the American people because we know after watching them on satellite that they are ready to leave,” Abd-Muhammed said.

I certainly respect Sheehan’s right to oppose the war. But her position is purely emotional, not taking into account the investment willingly made in the war by many others. Should we cut and run, making the sacrifices already made meaningless, after so much has been accomplished in Iraq?

She lost her son, and I haven’t lost anyone I know, but it still pains me that any American kids have died at all — so does that make me an “armchair quarterback?” But while Sheehan gets lots of free publicity thanks to the 5th column, other voices are not given the same spotlight.

Tammy Pruett, “whose husband and five sons have served in Iraq,” supports the war:

I watch the news constantly, and I pray for the soldiers we have lost as well as their families. Both of my boys have lost buddies in this war, but they are proud of them and know they wanted to serve.

I am disgusted when I hear and read about Cindy Sheehan and her protest against our president. She does not speak for me, my sons or the rest of my family and friends. I’m sorry Sheehan lost her son, but when she and other protesters trash our president, they do not speak for anyone but themselves.

All of our military soldiers are heroes. I support them, our country and President Bush.

Give the “people” what they want? That depends on which “people” you ask.


How Afghan Captivity Shaped My Feminism

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

by Phyllis Chesler
Middle East Quarterly*
Winter 2006
http://www.meforum.org/article/794
* Cross-posted with permission

On December 21, 1961, when I returned from Afghanistan, I kissed the ground at New York City’s Idlewild Airport. I weighed 90 pounds and had hepatitis. Although I would soon become active in the American civil rights, anti-Vietnam war, and feminist movements, what I had learned in Kabul rendered me immune to the Third World romanticism that infected so many American radicals. As a young bride in Afghanistan, I was an eyewitness to just how badly women are treated in the Muslim world. I was mistreated, too, but I survived. My “Western” feminism was forged in that most beautiful and treacherous of countries.

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Bauble Economy or Babbling Writer? (OR… Ponzi Scheme or Putz?)

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

You wouldn’t know how well the U.S. economy is doing if reading Eugene Robinson at the Washington Post (more on that later…).

Remember how Hurricane Katrina was supposed to spell the end of the U.S. economy — and the world? Well, American citizens seem to be ignoring those prognostications by voting affirmatively with their wallets. Three separate economic reports released today showed sky-rocketing home sales, a jump in orders for durable goods, and a surge in consumer confidence, respectively.

From CNNMoney.com:

New home sales posted a surprising jump in October to the highest rate on record, according to a government report Tuesday that bucked other recent readings suggesting that the white-hot housing market has been cooling.

New homes sold at an annual rate of 1.42 million in October, the Commerce Department said, up from a revised 1.26 million pace in September. The 13 percent increase was the biggest percentage jump since April 1993.

From the U.S. Census Bureau:

New orders for manufactured durable goods in October increased $7.1 billion or 3.4 percent to $214.4 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today. This followed a 2.0 percent September decrease.

Note: Durable goods are defined as products with a normal life expectancy of three years or more, like furniture, aircraft, computers, and automobiles.

Again, from CNNMoney.com:

Consumer confidence surged in November thanks to falling gas prices and an improving job outlook, the Conference Board said Tuesday.

The board’s consumer confidence index rose to 98.9 for the month, up from a revised 85.2 in October. Economists had expected a rise to 90, according to Briefing.com.

But you would never know about these reports if you were reading Eugene Robinson’s latest column at the Washington Post. He says the U.S. has a “bauble economy” — its all just a “giant Ponzi scheme.” I don’t know what’s worse at the Post — all the Bush hatred, or the ivory-tower self-loathers.

Poor Robinson’s paycheck comes from the Post’s advertisers — of course, all members of the “giant Ponzi scheme.” I wonder if, when Robinson cashes his paycheck, he considers those dollars “Ponzi” money? You know — the dollars that bought his car, pay his mortgage, buy that evil gasoline, etc. If you put a “Peace Now” sticker on the back of your SUV, does it filter out the pollution?

Never mind the fact that 4.2 million new jobs have been created in the U.S. over the past 28 months, and the fact that our GDP grew 3.8% in the 3rd quarter. Can Robinson do the math? Would he dare do the simple calculation to determine how much 3.8% is of $11,750,000,000,000 (the U.S.’s GDP)?

It must be nice in the ivory tower, having a tenured faculty position at the Washington Post.


Muhammad Ali v. George W. Bush

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun*
November 29, 2005
http://www.danielpipes.org/article/3153
* Cross-posted with permission

George W. Bush honored the boxer, Muhammad Ali, and 13 others with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, called “the nation’s highest civilian award,” on November 9 at the White House. The president praised Ali for his sports accomplishments and called him “The Greatest of All Time.”

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How to Deal with Kidnappings in Iraq

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

by Michael Rubin and Suzanne Gershowitz
Rivista di Intelligence*
December 2005
http://www.meforum.org/article/793
* Cross-posted with permission

On March 4, 2005, tragedy struck as U.S. troops fired on a car speeding toward a checkpoint near Baghdad International Airport, killing Nicola Calipari, an Italian secret service agent experienced in hostage negotiation, and wounding Giuliana Sgrena, the hostage freed after a month in captivity. The incident strained relations between Washington and Rome. The Sgrena kidnapping was not isolated, though, nor was the controversy surrounding her release unique. For more than a quarter century, kidnapping has been a tactic of choice among terrorists. In Iraq, though, terrorists have refined hostage-taking into a tactic of choice. Their strategy is multifold: They seek to terrorize the population, humiliate their opponents, and win political concessions from their adversaries. With its willingness to negotiate with and perhaps even paying ransom to the terrorists, the Italian government and others have compounded the problem.

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Rafah, Gaza Border Crossing: Gateway to Terror?

Monday, November 28th, 2005

Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, and last week permitted Palestinians to pass between Egypt and Gaza through the Rafah border crossing. The agreement to open this border point was hailed as a positive step for Palestinians — but who cares about the consequences for Israel? It looks like Rafah will become another security loophole for Palestinian terrorists (Jerusalem Post):

Rafik al-Hasanat, a senior member of Hamas who has been wanted by Israel for more than a decade, on Wednesday night returned to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing. …

A senior member of the armed wing of Hamas, Izzaddin Kassam, Hasanat fled to Egypt in 1993 after he learned that the IDF was searching for him because of his involvement in terror attacks. Since then he has been hiding in Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Jordan.

Hundreds of Hamas activists chanting slogans in support of the Islamic movement welcomed Hasanat home.

Sources close to Hamas said many of its activists, including top leaders, have managed to return to the Gaza Strip since the Israeli pullout. Last month one of the founders of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed al-Milh, returned to the Gaza Strip after spending 20 years in different Arab countries.

Shortly after the Israeli withdrawal, three top Hamas fugitives infiltrated into the Gaza Strip. One of them, Nihro Masoud of the Jabalya refugee camp, was one of the founders of Izzaddin Kassam. He fled to Egypt 14 years ago and spent most of the intervening time in Sudan.

An just where is the Palestinian Authority and EU supervision promised for Rafah? Israel makes concession after concession, and what does it get in return? More terrorist infiltrators.


Ariel Sharon, Escapist

Monday, November 28th, 2005

by Daniel Pipes
FrontPageMagazine.com*
November 28, 2005
http://www.danielpipes.org/article/3152
* Cross-posted with permission

Ariel Sharon overturned Israel politics on Nov. 21 when he announced his departure from the very Likud Party he had helped establish 32 years earlier.

The next week saw an avalanche of polling, with the results pointing consistently to a resounding success for Sharon’s new party, called Kadima (“Forward”). For example, three surveys collected by IMRA find Kadima winning between 32 and 34 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, followed by Labor with about 26 and Likud with a miserable 13. No other party scores even 10.

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Palestinian Democracy: Shooting and Burning Ballot Boxes

Monday, November 28th, 2005

Palestinians have a long way to go before embracing democracy:

The main Palestinian political group, Fatah, has halted its primary elections in Gaza after militants raided some polling stations and fired in the air. …

Gunmen also set fire to ballot boxes, saying the candidate lists in the second stage of primaries for January’s parliamentary poll were not complete.

The first action taken here is shooting and burning — not talking to the election commission.

Leading in these “polls” is Marwan Barghouti, serving 5 life sentences for killing 4 Israelis and one Greek monk.


A Little Enfranchisement for Saudi Women

Monday, November 28th, 2005

This past weekend, Saudi women got to vote, and even list as candidates. According to the Chicago Tribune:

Saudi businesswomen went to the polls over the weekend to help choose a new board of directors for the Jiddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. For the first time ever, the list of candidates included women…

There are an estimated 2,800 businesses registered in women’s names at the chamber…

Now the luke-warm news:

By Sunday evening, only about 50 women had turned up to vote, said Fatin Boundagji, director of Khadija Bint Khuwielid Women’s Empowerment unit at the Jiddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Turnout among men is expected to be stronger, but is still uncertain.

The election has been billed as a major step forward for women in Saudi Arabia, especially after women were barred from municipal polls earlier in the year. Despite a budding women’s movement in the kingdom, women are still subject to a host of restrictions, most notably against voting in political elections and driving.

But the fact that women are being allowed to vote in the birthplace of Islam and Wahabiism is still good news. And this is further evidence that President Bush’s push for democratization of the Middle East is working: millions of Afghans have voted twice, millions of Iraqis have voted twice, Lebanon is free of Syrian occupation (and has held elections), Kuwait has granted women the right to vote, and Saudi Arabia held municipal elections, and is now starting to enfranchise women…


Operation Rudolph Packs 1000 Holiday Gifts for Canadian Soldiers Serving in Afghanistan

Monday, November 28th, 2005

TORONTO, Nov. 28 – The Canadian Coalition for Democracies in partnership with the Canada Christian College and supporters of Operation Rudolph, a national grassroots initiative to thank Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, will be packing the gifts for 1000 Canadian soldiers stations in Afghanistan. As well as holiday gifts, the packages will contain letters from MPs, Senators and hundreds from student and Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Where:
Canada Christian College
50 Gervais Road
TORONTO, ONTARIO

When:
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28
5:30 PM

For more information, please contact:

Naresh Raghubeer
Executive Director
Canadian Coalition for Democracies
Tel. (416) 963-8998
Cell (416) 452-6957
naresh@CanadianCoalition.com
http://www.CanadianCoalition.com/operationrudolph.shtml


Barghouti: Palestinian Addiction to Terror

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Once again, convicted Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti is trying to “lead” his people from inside an Israeli prison. If his win in primaries in the West Bank on Friday provides any insight into the Palestinian popular mood, it is that they are still addicted to terrorist “leaders” like Barghouti. According to the BBC:

He [Barghouti] is serving five life terms in an Israeli jail for the killing of four Israelis and a Greek monk.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said there was no chance of Barghouti getting an early release.

Barghouti, 46, won 34,000 out of 40,000 votes – affirming his status as one of Fatah’s most popular politicians, say correspondents.

From his prison cell where he has been since his sentencing in 2004, Barghouti has continued to play an important role as a political figure.

In a post-modern, revisionist, touchy-feely view of the world, one could look at Barghouti in the one-man’s-terrorist-is-another’s-freedom-fighter sense, but this is just moral murkiness. When The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a subsidiary of the Economist Newspaper, released its Index of Political Freedom for the Middle East last week, it put Israel in first place. The Jurist states unequivocally of Israel that:

The judiciary is independent. …

Israeli law provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government respects this provision.

Barghouti was indicted, tried, convicted, and sentenced in open court in a transparent democracy, something that the Arab world knows little of, except most recently in Lebanon and Iraq. If Palestinians do not understand the rule of law, this is a great sadness, but not Israel’s fault.

Israel must not release Barghouti, not matter what “world opinion” demands. No doubt the wheels are turning in the apologist camp — I can only wait with baited breath to hear a “Free Barghouti” hit song.

One murderer, Arafat, finally died. The Palestinian Authority cannot be led by another terrorist.


Talabani on Allawi Abuse Claims: Touche

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani today countered former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s claims that abuse of prisoners was “as bad as Saddam era” crimes. I do not take Allawi’s accusations seriously, and see the former prime minister acting either out of sour grapes, or as trying to put the spotlight on his new coalition’s run in the December 15 elections.

Yesterday,

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has said that human rights abuses in Iraq today are as bad as those during the rule of Saddam Hussein. …

“These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam Hussein, and now we are seeing the same things.”

His remarks came two weeks after US troops discovered 170 apparently abused captives in a secret prison inside an interior ministry building in Baghdad.

While any form of torture is completely unacceptable, a comparison to the Saddam era is ridiculous. As a result of the Butcher of Baghdad’s rule, an estimated 300,000 dead Iraqis lay in some 260 mass graves, 40 of which have been confirmed to date. Saddam’s rule meant torture chambers, dropping poison gas on civilians, starting an 8-year war with Iran which claimed a million lives, etc.

I am a bit perplexed by Allawi’s emphasis now, as 26,000 Iraqi civilians, mostly Shiite, have been murdered by terrorists, and Allawi is a Shiite.

Today,

Mr Talabani, a Kurd, told the BBC everyone opposed torturing or harming detainees and there were no parallels to be drawn between the present and abuses that took place under Saddam Hussein.

“If you go back to Saddam’s Iraq, we see that Iraq was turned by Saddam to concentration camps on the ground and mass graves underground,” he said.

Mr Allawi, he said, “cannot compare this situation with that situation”.

“I cannot convince myself or imagine that such nonsense has been said by Dr Allawi,” Mr Talabani said, pointing out that Iraqi now enjoyed a range of democratic rights – from free expression to free elections.

I can only conclude that Allawi is still smarting from his resounding defeat in Iraq’s last round of parliamentary elections. Sour grapes? Or knowing what subjects are likely to draw the most attention from the press.


Ohio imam "called Jews ’the sons of monkeys and pigs’"

Saturday, November 26th, 2005

Right in the American heartland, an imam preaching hatred and supporting terrorism in a Cleveland mosque. Just wait for the ACLU to come running to his aid. But another American jury did not buy the terrorist sob-story. Good riddance to this scumbag:

Imam Fawaz Damra, the spiritual leader of Ohio’s largest mosque, was convicted in June 2004 of concealing ties to three groups that the U.S. government classifies as terrorist organizations when he applied for U.S. citizenship in 1994.

That conviction was upheld in March, clearing the way for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to begin deportation proceedings. …

The Palestinian-born Damra, who is the imam, or spiritual leader, at the Islamic Center of Cleveland, immigrated to the United States in the mid-1980s.

In Damra’s trial last year, prosecutors showed video footage of Damra and other Islamic leaders raising money for an arm of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which has been listed as a major terrorist group by the State Department since 1989.

Jurors also were shown footage in which Damra called Jews “the sons of monkeys and pigs” during a 1991 speech and said “terrorism and terrorism alone is the path to liberation” in a 1989 speech.