SHARPTON: SHAKEDOWN OR SELLOUT?
One of the more odd aspects of this presidential campaign was the emergence of Rev. Al Sharpton as a mainstream political candidate. Sharpton first rose to national prominence as an advocate of Tawana Brawley, who hoaxed people into believing that she was raped and mutilated by a gang of white yuppies in New York. Sharpton at one point accused a prominent lawyer of being one member of the gang before a court ruled that Brawley had concocted the whole incident. While such an embarrassment would ruin others, Sharpton instead continued to grow in stature as a representative of the African-American community, albeit from the fringe -- at least until 2003.
Thanks to an extremely sympathetic media, Sharpton's candidacy for the presidency received little critical commentary; in fact, his bid was given more credibility than that of Carol Mosely-Braun and Dennis Kucinich, who at least had run and won elections in the past. The media sought out Sharpton to weigh in on issues, keeping his visibility and credibility high. Eventually Sharpton started the Howard Dean collapse by slamming him for minority representation in his Vermont administration, a charge which left the former governor dumbfounded and unable to respond. (Vermont's African-American community amounts to less than 1% of the overall population, making the charge something of a cheap shot.)
After losing the primary race, Sharpton campaigned instead for John Kerry, making numerous appearances on Kerry's behalf. In fact, Sharpton gave one of the most impassioned speeches at the Democratic Convention, running over his time in order to break Kerry's rules and personally attack George Bush. Voters defiinitely received the message that Al Sharpton represented the black community, and that Sharpton believed in John Kerry.
Unfortunately, that message was bought and paid for by the DNC. According to the Village Voice and AP's Nedra Pickler, the Democrats paid over $86,000 in fees and expenses to Sharpton to flack for the eventual loser, an unprecedented act:
The Democratic National Committee paid Sharpton $86,715 in travel and consulting fees to compensate for his campaigning for Kerry and other Democratic candidates, according to reports to the Federal Election Commission. ...
n an interview with The Associated Press, Sharpton said he was paid for travel and he didn't know how much he had been reimbursed.
"They asked me to travel to 20 or 30 cities to campaign, and I did that," Sharpton said. "What am I supposed to do, donate the cost of air fare?"
But records show that while most of the money was to reimburse travel expenses, Sharpton was paid $35,000 as a "political consulting fee" 15 days after the election. The consulting fee was first reported in this week's edition of the Village Voice.
Democratic National Committee spokesman Jano Cabrera said the party paid Sharpton at the request of the Kerry campaign.
No other Democratic candidate received a fee for campaigning on behalf of the party's nominees. None received reimbursements for travel expenses, either. Nor were these payments made public; as DNC spokesman Jano Cabrera put it, the payoffs were part of "private negotiations". I'll bet.
This sordid transaction belies any enthusiasm Sharpton expressed for Democrats or John Kerry, and instead either amounts to a shakedown by Sharpton or a payoff by Kerry. In either case, Al Sharpton sold out his community by taking the leadership role that he craved and the media gladly encouraged and cashing it in for $35,000. And why was John Kerry so eager to pay Sharpton under the table, especially when he hasn't even paid his own campaign staff the money they're owed, even now? Because Kerry could not afford to lose a single percentage point in the African-American community, and so he sought their votes the old-fashioned way. He bought them by paying off their supposed champion.
CBS News made a big deal about two bloggers selling out to campaigns without any disclosure. What does it say about Democrats when one of their own mainstream candidates shakes them down for cash in order to support them?
UPDATE: Here's the Village Voice article. It's mostly a run-down of Sharpton's involvement with a woman who worked for him, but it does briefly mention the payments to Sharpton by the DNC. One wonders why the Voice didn't spend more of its focus on that.
BRIBING EUROPE THROUGH PALESTINE
The Bush administration announced a new $20 million aid package to be paid directly to the Palestinian Authority, breaking a long-time reluctance to fund the organization while led by Yasser Arafat. The Washington Post reports that Bush wants to make a gesture of support for Palestinian elections:
The money will go straight to the authority, breaking a U.S. restriction on direct financing for the government formerly run by Arafat. It comes as Palestinians are struggling to finance their Jan. 9 presidential election, the logistics of which were agreed upon yesterday by Israel and the Palestinians.
Bush views the $20 million as a token of the United States' renewed commitment to jump-starting the peace process during his second term, according to a senior administration official. This is a "new opportunity to assist in the emergence of a responsible, democratic, moderate Palestinian leadership," the official said.
Certainly the money will help, although it contains stipulations that some of it be spent by the PA to pay off their utility bills with Israel. The money's effect was not intended for Palestine, however; it was intended for Europe, where George Bush has received voluminous criticism for turning his back on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Bush decided at the beginning of his term that while Yasser Arafat remained at the head of the Palestinian Authority, further negotiations were useless. Bill Clinton had exhausted the limits of diplomacy with Arafat over and over again, and Arafat refused to accept any of the deals offered, even the highly-favorable Barak proposals that touched off another intifada. Europeans were aghast at Bush's marginalization of Arafat and pressed Tony Blair to use his influence to get Bush back to the bargaining table, especially after Blair supported Bush in Iraq.
The $20 million in aid became possible with the death of Arafat, even if the money isn't likely to be spent much differently than if he were alive. It's a sop to Blair, who is worth the money and more, so that he can claim more influence over Bush, and so Bush can begin to rebuild diplomatic relationships with Europe. It also keeps the US in the center of the negotiations; we've seen in Iran what happens when we let the Europeans run high-stakes diplomatic conflict.
Whether we get any return on this investment should be seen shortly. If the Europeans start moving past the Iraq invasion to support the emergence of a truly free Iraqi nation, and if they finally start getting tough with Iran, the money will have been well spent. If not, the President has yet another example of European intransigence to use in shutting them out of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and our general Middle East policy. Thursday, December 9, 2004
'MADRID-STYLE' ATTACK THWARTED IN LONDON
From Reuters, with thanks to Mike:
LONDON (Reuters) - Security services have thwarted a planned attack on London similar to the March 11 train bombings in Madrid by Islamic extremists, the British capital's police chief said on Thursday.
"Thank God to date, and we have had to work extremely hard, we've thwarted attacks," Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens told the BBC.
Asked if his force had stopped a strike on the scale of the Spanish attack, he added: "Yes, I can't discuss it because of court proceedings -- but yes we have stopped a Madrid."
The morning rush-hour bombings on commuter trains killed 191 people in the most devastating attack in modern Spanish history, just three days before a general election.
The attackers claimed to represent al Qaeda in Europe.
Stevens said "a number" of attacks had been thwarted in London and "hundreds" of terrorist suspects were being processed in British courts, according to extracts on the BBC Web site.
He would not give any details. Thursday, December 9, 2004
Andrew McCarthy writing for National Review has written a brilliant analysis of the conundrum facing the US in relation to allegations of "torture" by the ICRC. Recent events in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba have brought the issue of “torturing” detainees held by the US military to the forefront of the MSM’s campaign to de-legitimize the President and promote its “multilateralist”, pro-UN agenda. This issue has recently hit very close to home with yours truly, as one of the SEALs who is under threat of criminal indictment for “abusing” terrorist detainees in Iraq is a man I deployed with on my final deployment. This issue is not going away any time soon, so I believe it is incumbent on the US to come to some sort of agreement about how we are going to deal with islamofascist killers, and get on with it.
One of the first things that must be done is to define exactly who the enemy is and what existing US and international laws he has demonstrated adherence to or should reasonably expect to be protected by. According to the Geneva Convention standard regarding the characteristics of lawful combatants, NONE of the enemies with which the US is currently engaged in either Iraq or Afghanistan can be construed to be anything but unlawful. Our enemies are not operating under the authority of an organized armed force of a nation that has signed the Geneva Convention. Our enemies do not wear uniforms, hold discernable rank, or hold themselves accountable to an instituted chain of command with which our commanders can reasonably communicate. Our enemies do not adhere to even the most basic strictures placed on the conduct of warfare delineated in the Geneva Convention, and this fact would serve to negate any signatory status that might be claimed if it did exist. Since the proceeding facts are not subject to reasonable refutation, our enemies do not have any claim to Prisoner of War status or the accoutrements thereof.
There are however two distinct legal prohibitions with respect to the application and definition of torture. The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is an international treaty that was ratified by the US Senate and signed by President Clinton in 1994. The first paragraph of Article 1 states the following:
For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.Again, our enemies are not signatories of this treaty, and even if they had a legitimate political leadership entity that had agreed to this treaty, the actions of islamofascist terrorists against US civilians and military personnel would preclude their reasonable protection under this law. I will readily concede that unlike the Geneva Convention, nothing in the Torture Convention could be construed as to require reciprocation from both parties for the law to apply. I would argue that this reciprocation ought to be construed as ESSENTIAL for the application of international law because there are no legitimate enforcement mechanisms in existence that can be relied upon by all parties to investigate and punish violators. Therefore, in my opinion, this treaty is not applicable to US forces fighting in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
Title 18 Section 2340 of the US Code is the pertinent statute with respect to the definition and prohibition of the application of torture to persons in US custody. The key text of the law is found in paragraph 1:
The italicized text on its face precludes the actions of the SEAL platoons from prosecution under this statute, as the abuse that is alleged occurred during the conduct of an operation that was lawfully sanctioned which was to kill or capture known terrorists. But the Uniform Code of Military Justice is the controlling legal authority in this case, and Article 93 Cruelty and Maltreatment would appear to be applicable statute:
“torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control (Emphasis mine)
It seems that the term “subject to his orders” would require further explanation in order for it to apply to the current controversies afoot in Iraq. The bottom line is that there seems to be no conclusive or valid US or international law that clearly elucidates the parameters of conduct with respect to the care and feeding of islamofascist terrorists encountered on the battlefield.
ART. 93. CRUELTY AND MALTREATMENT
Any person subject to this chapter who is guilty of cruelty toward, or oppression or maltreatment of, any person subject to his orders shall be punished as a court-martial may direct. (Emphasis mine)
It goes without saying the international treaties and the collaborative bodies that negotiate and administer them, do not provide US troops or policy makers with any meaningful or pertinent guidelines with respect to the conflict in which we find ourselves engaged. I am not an authority on the process of legislation, but it seems evident that we must take into account the realities of the Global War on Terror and legislate accordingly. There is clearly a range of activities that could be under consideration that start at stern and menacing facial expressions and proceeds through various activities to arrive at televised beheadings. Standards also should be considered in light of the circumstances of the event. For instance, incidental punishment delivered during the capture and exfiltration of terrorists from a hostile area should be given wide latitude for interpretation, while actions taken upon detainees incarcerated in US controlled facilities should be strictly regulated.
When I attended Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School, we were trained with the expectation that we would not be afforded Geneva Conventions protection from torture, which as it turns out is the case in our current conflict. First and foremost, the US needs to be empowered with techniques and practices that will prove valuable in our constant struggle to stay ahead of the intelligence curve while fighting the GWOT. The US government owes it to the people who are its instruments a sober and straightforward explanation of exactly what they can and cannot do to captured terrorists without consideration of international opinions or existing violable treaties. The US Constitution is not a suicide pact, and our reluctance to deal firmly with those who threaten the security of our nation will only serve to invite further aggression. Friday, December 10, 2004
Much has been made of Donald Rumsfeld's "talking to" by a disgruntled National Guardsman in Kuwait yesterday. Believe me, this is nothing new. When I was at SEAL Team FOUR in Little Creek, VA the entire base was compelled to attend a CNO's (Chief of Naval Operations) Call at the base theater. We all sat in the back and settled in for an hour or so of boring speeches by high ranking Navy muckety mucks. We were wrong. After a canned speech by the CNO, he opened the floor to questions from sailors much in the same way Rumsfeld did. What happened next will forever live in my memory.
First, some 3rd Class Petty Officer complained to the CNO that he had been passed over as LPO (Leading Petty Officer) of his division. He explained the situation in excruciating detail, remembering to point out the the Leading Chief who had promoted another 3rd Class who was a few months below him in rank to the vaunted LPO slot. Witnessing this idiot making a complete ass of himself was akin to watching an impending car wreck in slow motion. I have been admonished for jumping the Chain of Command before, but this was amazing to watch. I barely remember the CNO's response, because I was so busy laughing my ass off while trying to keep quiet.
But that was only the beginning. After 2 or 3 more asinine complaints similar to the above mentioned, another 3rd Class dropped a bomb that left me on the floor. She stood up in front of hundreds of sailors and described how she and her compatriots had spent the entire day cleaning up their building and adding that they had been forbidden from using the restroom all day so that it would not be sullied on the off chance that the CNO would stop by for a visit. But she wasn't done, not by a long shot. She then added that it was very inconvenient that high ranking officers always pick Friday afternoons for these sort of visits, and inquired as to why this was the case since she had better things to do. She wrapped up by asking if he, the CNO, was actually going to visit her command after the substantial labors she and her comrades had endured on his behalf. I $hit you not. I do remember the CNO's answer to that one. He asked her who her CO was, and she proceeded to point directly at a man wearing khaki that was at this point cowering behind the seat in front of him. The CNO promptly motioned for the CO to join one of his staff officers offstage, and assured her that he would, in fact, come by to inspect the building. By this time a pall of silence had decended upon the entire building, and several hundred people mouthed the words, "No F*cking Way!" in silent unison.
The highlight of the session was something that I will remember as one of the coolest moments I have ever witnessed in my life. At the time, the Navy was drawing down post-Gulf War, and there was a 15 year retirement option available to sailors. A Chief stood and told the CNO that his wife, another Chief, had recently died of cancer. He went on to say that he was at 14 years, six months of service and had two chidren at home who were mourning the recent loss of their mother. The Chief said that his unit was scheduled to deploy soon, and that although he had requested to stay home to care for his children, his CO refused and was compelling him to either deploy or leave the Navy. Once again, there was a pall in the room, but this time the air was thick with derision and scorn for a CO that would do such a thing. The CNO once again asked this Chief to point out his CO in the crowd, and with a snap of his fingers he dispatched another aide to start heading in his direction. While the aide was enroute, the CNO said, "Chief, you're retired." The audience immediately erupted with cheers and applause that did not relent for several minutes.
I am not going to criticize this National Guardsmen for having a legitimate complaint about the equipment he must use to fight in Iraq, but taking it up with the SECDEF on TV is unsat. Does he really think that Rumsfeld wouldn't rather have 2 armored hummers for every soldier? Like he said, it's a matter of physics rather than a matter of desire. There is a time and place to make these kind of inquiries, but this was neither.
UPDATE: I have seen and heard the media reports about how Rumsfeld was set up by the embedded reporter, but it really doesn't change anything. Nobody forced that Sergeant at gunpoint to ask such an inappropriate question of the SECDEF, and if it wasn't him today, it would have been some other guy tomorrow. I'm telling you that every time junior enlisted gets direct access to senior leadership in these type of forums, there is always somebody who can't help himself or herself from asking questions like this.
Rush seemed incredulous that there were soldiers in the military that had complaints, but for all of us veterans this is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). Military bureaucracy is pervasive no matter what branch or field of service, and the troops will always have more than enough things to bitch about. That doesn't mean that they aren't committed to doing their jobs, it's just a way to let off steam and allieviate frustration. Finally, as I was listening to Rush, a former Guardsman called in and set him straight, but civilians can never understand what it's like to be in the service.
It's unfortunate that the MSM was there to record this very common occurrance just so it could be blown out of proportion, but this will be forgotten as soon as the Scott Peterson jury decides to give Scotty the needle. Thursday, December 9, 2004
THE ARMOR GAP IS REAL
By Michelle Malkin
The latest Drudge scoop highlights an embedded reporter's self-congratulatory e-mail claiming to have coached a soldier to ask Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld about the shortage of armor for Humvees. The reporter sounds like a bit of a creep, but his heart seems to be in the right place and whether or not soldiers were "coached," the e-mail does not take away from the fact that the armor gap is a real problem.
Contrary to the reporter's narcissistic impression, however, both the Pentagon and other media have been dealing with the problem.
Here's a Rowan Scarborough article from last month, an op-ed in the Bangor Daily News on a novel proposal to help fill the armor gap from last March, and some good background compiled by The Commissar at Politburo Diktat, who excerpts an overview from Global Security:
As of late October 2004, nearly 5,100 up-armored Humvees were reported by DoD to have been delivered to Army and Marine Corps units in Iraq, with another 724 on ships bound for the theater. As of late October 2004, U.S. Central Command's requirement for up-armored Humvees called for 8,105 up-armored Humvees in Iraq. Prior to the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Army had only about 500 up-armored Humvees, called "UAHs," in its inventory. These were primarily used by military police units in their rear-protection role.
Meanwhile, Armor Holdings Inc., the sole supplier of protective plates for the Humvee military vehicles used in Iraq, sent out a press release saying it could increase output by as much as 22 percent per month with no investment and is awaiting an order from the Army:
Jacksonville, Florida-based Armor Holdings last month told the Army it could add armor to as many as 550 of the trucks a month, up from 450 vehicles now, Robert Mecredy, president of the company's aerospace and defense group said in a telephone interview today.
``We're prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month,'' Mecredy said in the interview. ``I've told the customer that and I stand ready to do that.''
Update: The Reporterette's persuasive take on the questionable media ethics of Edward Lee Pitts and his editors is here. Thursday, December 9, 2004
IRAQI BLOGGERS MEET THE PRESIDENT
How cool is this? Mohammed and Omar, the Iraqis who run the wonderful Iraq The Model blog, got a private meeting in the Oval Office with President Bush today, according to americanfaith.us. Thursday, December 9, 2004
THE COALITION OF THE CROOKED AND UNFREE?
The recent expressions of support for Kofi Annan by the European Union, China, the African Union (and half-heartedly by the United States and Australia) , as well as indeed the General Assembly as a whole which gave him a "rare standing ovation" suggest that, at least as far as the "international community" is concerned, the main mission of the United Nations is not to uphold and promote the highest ethical standards within the world body politic, but to try to provide a block to any actions by the United States. Just as Iraq before, the issue of the UN reform and Kofi Annan's leadership has become a battle of wills between the US and its few allies and the rest of the international community as to who controls the agenda. Any other considerations seem to be, at best, secondary.
Should we expect more from the UN? Should we expect the organization to actually actively promote values such as freedom, democracy, transparency and accountability? Many, particularly conservatives, would say no; after all, the United Nations is not a "club of the democracies," but a club of, well... everyone.
Every year, Freedom House ranks countries in the world on a 1.0 to 7.0 continuum of Free, Partly Free and Unfree. In the latest such ranking (link in PDF), 89 countries are considered to be Free, of which 39 get the perfect 1.0 score. 56 Countries are Partly Free (between 3.0 and 5.0), and another 49 are considered Not Free (with the scores ranging from 5.5 to the dismal 7.0). Hence, as you look at the composition of the General Assembly, it pits 89 free countries against 105 whose political and human rights climate leaves something (and in many cases very much) to be desired.
You can also look at Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, which ranks 146 states according to "the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians," based on surveys of countries' residents (it's otherwise impossible to arrive at any "objective" measures of corruption). In the most current ranking, Finland tops the list, with a score of 9.7, while Bangladesh and Haiti, at 165 and 156 respectively, close the list as the countries judged by their own people to be the most corrupt, scoring a disappointing 1.5 each. If we take 5.0 as the median point, only 40 countries in the world are above that line, and 106 below it.
So if you look at the composition of the United Nations' General Assembly it is clearly made up of majority of countries that are struggling in the freedom's stakes and and even greater majority of countries that their own citizens consider to be quite crooked. Any wonder that the UN behaves as it does, both as an international player and in its own internal governance?
A simplistic analysis? Of course. After all, some of America's staunch allies are among the unfree and the corrupt, just as many of America's detractors are both free and clean. Yet, one cannot escape the conclusion that in the end, the United Nations is merely a sum of its parts and its actions merely reflect the nature and the sentiments of the majority of its members.
To put it in simple terms, we are asking countries with their own freedom and democracy deficiencies to be enthusiastic about the spread of democracy and liberty around the world, and we are expecting countries which are corrupt and ethically challenged at home not to tolerate corruption at the highest levels of international governance. It is as if we decided to elect a fair number of residents of penitentiaries to represent us in the Congress, and subsequently expected this august body to legislate meaningfully on law and order issues, much less the Congressional ethics.
That's the crux of the difference between our national governments and the unelected, self-appointed "world government": while neither the American nor the Australian electorate is composed of angels, we the voters don't, nonetheless, expect our elected representatives to live up merely to some average standard of ethics and public morality - quite the contrary, we judge our politicians against the highest possible benchmark - and so often find them wanting. But what can we expect of the United Nations?
Not very much, as some would argue. And this sentiment is not restricted just to anti-UN conservatives, but extends to those who see the UN's primary role to ensure the stability of the international system rather than to work on the expansion of the sphere of freedom and democracy throughout the world. That might or might not be the case, but where does it leave the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a whole host of other human rights covenants and treaties?
In the end, I'm mostly with Powerline's Deacon on this one when he writes:
"I'm afraid that my views on the U.N., and its reform, are quite cynical. I take it as given that (a) we will not withdraw from the U.N. and (b) we should not cede meaningful power to it. Under these circumstances, I see a scandal-ridden and overtly anti-American U.N. as a plus because such a U.N. minimizes the possibility that the Democrats will persuade voters that we should permit the U.N. to influence our policy. I am confident that the U.N. will continue to answer to this description for a long time."While I believe that there is a legitimate role that the United Nations can play in the international affairs, just as strongly I believe that the UN should never be in a strong enough position to realistically entertain dreams of turning itself into a genuine world government.
But neither our low expectations of the body, nor indeed our distrust of its ambitions should stop us from arguing that the United Nations can do better. The UN might never become an ethically-charged crusader of international freedom, but at the very least we should expect it to keep its own house in order, if only because a total moral chaos will ultimately prevent the organization from doing some of the good work it does and should be doing. Friday, December 10, 2004
THE CREDIBILITY GAP
The Democratic Leadership Council, the purportedly moderate wing of the Democratic Party which includes members such as Evan Bayh, Joe Lieberman, Blanche Lincoln and former President Bill Clinton, recently published an article that seemingly called for the resignation of United Nations Secretary General Koffi Annan due to his complicity in the Oil for Food scandal.
It is interesting that the DLC has weighed in on the Oil for Food debacle at this point in time. What took them so long to recognize the corruption in the UN? This story has been public knowledge for quite some time; the Wall Street Journal’s Claudia Rossett has been reporting on this story since February of 2004. Where was the DLC’s criticism of the United Nations prior to the presidential elections? No doubt John Kerry’s support for resolving problems though the United Nations had much to do with the DLC’s yearlong silence on this issue.
A day later, the DLC issued a clarification. It seems Kofi Annan shouldn’t be fired after all.
CORRECTION: the original sub-headline of this New Dem Daily mistakenly summarized the piece as calling for Kofi Annan's resignation. Actually, in calling for the secretary general to "step aside," we simply meant to convey that he should remove himself from any involvement in the oil-for-food investigation, and let Paul Volcker, a man of unquestioned integrity and ability, conduct it independently and publicly release his findings. We deeply regret this error.
The years of willful neglect, outright incompetence and possible criminal involvement in the Oil for Food program are not enough to demand Mr. Annan’s resignation. The DLC cannot ask Koffi Annan to step down despite his son’s involvement and the massive amount of money skimmed under his administration, currently estimated at over $22 billion. The corporate scandals of Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Adelphia Communications, and Gray Davis's California combined can't hold a candle to Oil for Food. In spite of this, all the DLC asks is that he “remove himself from any involvement in the oil-for-food investigation”. And they "deeply regret" the appearance of suggesting otherwise.
In this article, the DLC reveals the pervasive mindset of the Democratic Party; the United Nations, with just a little tweaking, can and should be the centerpiece in the fight against the threat of Islamofascism.
[O]ne of America's most urgent foreign policy needs is to retool international organizations and traditional alliances to provide collective security against the global threat of jihadist terrorism. The United Nations can and should be a central part of this new collective security system, but only if the organization is systematically reformed to serve that purpose.
The reforms the DLC recommends to improve the collective security system are as follows: enlarge the UNSC to be more inclusive, amend the UN charter to properly define terrorism as acts against civilians, and "authorize military intervention as a last resort in the event of genocide and other large-scale killing, ethnic cleansing or serious violations of international humanitarian law which sovereign governments have proved powerless or unwilling to prevent.” This plan to revive the United Nations is meaningless as it does little to address the real problems: totalitarian governments have a say in the decisionmaking processes; rampant anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism; a bloated bureaucracy with a statist mentality; a Security Council that is designed to obstruct the use of power to resolve security problems; the failure to recognize terrorism as a threat to civilization.
When the media alludes to moral values as being an important issue in American elections, they fail to recognize that moral values extend beyond religion, abortion or homosexual marriage. To many red-staters, contributing American taxpayer dollars to an organization that has repeatedly failed to protect those in their charge is immoral. Facilitating the deaths of those under their protection is immoral. Allowing rogue nations to sit on the Security Council, human rights and weapons proliferation committees is immoral. Turning your back on the pilfering of funds designed to feed and care for Iraq children is immoral. Pandering to nations and organizations that have benefited economically from the Oil for Food program is immoral. Allowing Saddam to rearm using these funds to finance his military, palaces and terrorists, all the while knowing that he has butchered and gassed his own people in the past and continues to do so, is immoral.
Interestingly enough, the DLC piece that asked Mr. Annan to “step aside” is titled The Price of Credibility. The DLC and the Democratic Party as a whole refuses to acknowledge the abject failures of the United Nations, and continues to place faith in the ability of this organization to provide for America’s security, fight terrorism and act as a sincere agent in promoting global peace and security, despite evidence to the contrary. The American public has witnessed the unseemly actions of the United Nations, and many view the activities of the U.N. as immoral. The Democratic Party continues to pander to the United Nations, and the price they pay is their own credibility and the perception as a party weak on national defense. For as long as the Democratic Party is perceived as weak on national defense during a time of war they will continue to lose elections on the national level. The Democratic Leadership Council is doing very little to change this image. Wednesday, December 8, 2004
THE ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE
The embattled Secretary General of the United Nations took the media offensive by calling for UN "reform" while forgetting to mention his own behavior was a major reason for seeking reform in the first place. The Bakersfield Californian has more:
Annan on Tuesday rejected calls for his resignation and said he would concentrate on U.N. reform in the last two years of his term. In his speech, he did not refer to the calls to step down. Instead, he praised the panel for providing "a new and comprehensive vision of collective security for the 21st century." "One of its key messages is this: because of globalization we live in a world of interconnected threats and mutual vulnerability between rich and poor and weak and strong. No country can afford to deal with today's threats alone, and no threat can be dealt with effectively unless other threats are addressed at the same time," Annan said.
Earlier Congressman Dennis Kuchinich (D-Ohio) and 20 members of Congress offered their support to the Secretary General in the face of the Oil-for-Food allegations. He believed there was no hint that Annan had committed any impropriety but ample evidence that the United States was somehow partially behind the fraud.
We are writing to express our support of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has recently been under attack by some American lawmakers for the U.N’s Oil-for-Food program scandal occurring under his watch. Such an attack on the second-term Secretary-General and Nobel Peace laureate is disgraceful and premature. There has been no hint of impropriety on the part of the Secretary-General, who on numerous occasions has proven his honesty and integrity. Furthermore, we specifically reject all calls for his resignation. ... we want to highlight the shared responsibility by the United States for the alleged fraud and abuse that occurred in the Oil-for-Food Program.
The Secretary General had the day before spoken at a UN seminar called "Unlearning Intolerance", which that day focused on combatting Islamophobia. It was designed to forestall the "hatred that breeds more hatred", otherwise known as perpetuating the 'cycle of violence'. As ever, the onus was on the West.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan opened the first U.N. seminar on confronting Islamophobia Tuesday with a plea not to judge Muslims by the acts of extremists who deliberately target and kill civilians. ... Seyyed Hussein Nasr, professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, said Islamophobia was a question not only of fear but also of hatred -- often by people who know little about the religion. ... Fighting Islamophobia, Nasr argued, requires swift action from those in the West who understand that hatred breeds more hatred. Muslims must also take the lead in speaking out against extremism - steps that should be complemented by educational reforms and more effective use of the media. ... R. Scott Appleby, director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame, said that in the United States and much of Europe, terrorism had created anxiety about the vulnerability of Western societies, drawn unwanted attention to Muslims, and elicited intolerance and hatred among some Americans. This is what terrorists wanted, he said. In the United States, Appleby said, patriotism should require a willingness to recognize differences and honest self-criticism, not condescension towards people cast as "the other."
The difficulties inherent in not judging the intent of the "other" by their actions in order to "break the cycle of violence" was highlighted by the collapse of the Northern Ireland peace talks over the question of verifying IRA disarmament. In an article strangely entitled Photo dooms peace hopes, the Herald Sun reported that:
Hopes of a final breakthrough to end paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland collapsed within sight of success yesterday. With agreement close, and the IRA having at last agreed to give up all its weapons, a deal fell through over whether their destruction should be photographed. Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, said the photographs would represent a humiliation for militants. ... Mr Adams said: "I recognise that some unionists do have genuine concerns about verification of arms being put beyond use. But Ian Paisley has to recognise also that the IRA will not submit to a process of humiliation." The stand-off is a massive setback for Prime Minister Tony Blair, who had been hoping to fly to Northern Ireland today to publish details of the agreement that was so nearly clinched.
Here, as in Annan's 'reform' proposals, and at the UN Seminar, a platitude is offered in answer to a specific question.
Q: Did you steal billions of dollars and help rearm Saddam?
A: We must reform the UN because no one nation can solve the world's problems.
Q: Are radical Islamists funding international terror?
A: If you ask such questions they will resent it so much that what you fear will come to pass.
Q: Will the IRA photograph the destruction of the weapons it promised to decommission?
A: It is humiliating to require proof.
Any objections that these anwers are unsatisfactory are met by the claim that the questions themselves are illegitimate. "There has been no hint of impropriety on the part of the Secretary-General, who on numerous occasions has proven his honesty and integrity." It is impertinent to observe that Annan has proven nothing. Any further argumentation is met with the assertion that 'it is your fault anyway'. In Congressman Kuchinich's words "we want to highlight the shared responsibility by the United States for the alleged fraud and abuse that occurred in the Oil-for-Food Program." Any suspcion that the Jihad may exist is put down to "intolerance and hatred among some Americans" and "condescension".
The implicit assumption underlying this discourse is that "we" -- and not you -- ask the questions. The United Nations and no one else sits in judgement. That's final: it is International Law. As Robert Kaplan pointed out in The Media and Medievalism, the most powerful tool of totalitarianism is to don the guise of righteousness and assume "the right to question and to demand answers, the right to judge and condemn, and the right to pardon and show mercy." It is in the end an attempt to usurp the wellsprings of legitimacy. Do you hold it to be self-evident that you have the right "to assume among the Powers of the Earth" a separate and equal station? That's being a rogue nation. Do you presume that "that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights". That is not in the Koran. It is illegitimate and utterly intolerant to impose such a view upon anyone, even upon yourselves. Thursday, December 9, 2004
EUROPE'S UNENDING WAR ON THE JEWS
Sometimes you could almost think it was comical, if the results had not been some of the most psychotic violence in the history of mankind. The pseudo-progressive The Independent, which eschews the term "terrorist" in favor of the less judgmental "extremist" when it comes to Al Qaeda, has finally found a use for the word. You'll never guess to whom it applies - and in the headline too: Israeli jailed for role in terror group that attacked Arab schools. So Israelis make "terror" groups but Al Qaeda does not.
Never mind that it was Israel itself that was putting these people on trial. Let's move on to Germany where a new poll presents these results:
Six decades after the mass extermination of six million Jews in the Holocaust by Nazi Germany, more than 50 percent of Germans believe that Israel's present-day treatment of the Palestinians is similar to what the Nazis did to the Jews during World War II, a German survey released this weekend shows.
51 percent of respondents said that there is not much of a difference between what Israel is doing to the Palestinians today and what the Nazis did to the Jews during the Holocaust, compared to 49% who disagreed with such a comparison, according to the poll carried out by Germany's University of Bielefeld.
The survey also found that 68 percent of Germans believe that Israel is waging a "war of extermination" against the Palestinians, while some 32% disagreed with such a statement.
Well, they should know about wars of extermination - or should they? Ron Rosenbaum wrote several years back about what I am increasingly convinced is the thought process behind this behavior - that if the Israelis (read Jews) can be demonized, than the Holocaust can be excused. Hence a French diplomat called Israel "a sh*tty little country." Maybe he was projecting. Thursday, December 9, 2004
NEW YORK MAN ADMITS HE CALLED FOR KILLING JEWS
Lynne Stewart trial/Ahmed Abdel Sattar update. From JTA, with thanks to Twostellas:
A New York man admitted that he was behind an edict to Muslims in October 2000 calling for the killing of Jews “wherever they are found.”
That would be in line with the Qur'an, Sura 2:191 and 9:5 both of which say, "Slay the unbelievers wherever you find them."
Ahmed Abdel Sattar said Wednesday that he urged a militant who had fled to Afghanistan to write a fatwa in the name of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, then edited the draft before it was released. On trial in New York with Lynne Stewart for charges of conspiring with Islamic terrorists, Sattar testified that he called for the message, without Abdel Rahman’s knowledge, because of Ariel Sharon’s September 2000 visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which enraged many Arabs because the site is also holy to them. Sharon, at the time the head of the Israeli opposition, was one of many Israeli politicians to visit the site.
“My intent was just to scream out loud, to cry,” Sattar said.
And evidently to make others do so as well.
SERBIAN CHURCH SUES OVER KOSOVO
The Serbian Orthodox Church is attempting to strike back against the dhimmi governments that abetted the jihad in Kosovo. From the BBC, with thanks to Ali Dashti:
The Serbian Orthodox Church has filed a lawsuit against the UK, France, Germany and Italy for allegedly failing to protect its churches in Kosovo.
Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren, who lodged the complaint, told Serbian media that the four nations had allowed ethnic Albanians to ransack churches.
The state-run Politika paper quotes him saying dozens of Orthodox churches and religious monuments had been destroyed.
Nato-led troops took control of mainly-Muslim Kosovo in June 1999.
The international community forced Serb troops and authorities out of the province amid escalating violence against separatist ethnic Albanian rebels.
Clashes have continued between the majority Albanian population and the Serb minority since the Nato-led troops moved into Kosovo.
An outbreak of violence in March, in which Serb-owned homes and churches were attacked, left 19 people dead.
Bishop Artemije said the UK, France, Italy and Germany had failed to protect the Orthodox Church's property, followers and institutions.
Monasteries, medieval icons and frescos are among the religious sites to have been destroyed, he said, with 80 churches burned since 1999.
IRAQ: CHRISTIANS MAY TAKE UP ARMS
Because of stories like this one. From South Africa's News24, with thanks to Ali Dashti:
Damascus - More than 1,500 members of an Iraqi Christian group have gone to northern Iraq to try to protect Christians following attacks on churches in Baghdad and Mosul, the leader of the group said pm Saturday.
In an interview, Yonadem Kana, the leader of the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Iraq and a member of the Iraqi National Council, said the fighters have been deployed in Baghdida near the northern city of Mosul.
"We do not want to transform our movement into a militia," he said. "But if needed, we can arm more than 10,000 people." Thursday, December 9, 2004