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War Blog By: FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, August 19, 2005


The following is a transcript of Cindy Sheehan's comments at a pro-Lynne Stewart rally held on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 at San Francisco State University. Among the sponsors of the event were the National Lawyers Guild, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, the International Socialist Organization, and the Campus Antiwar Network.

Cindy Sheehan: First, I want to give my little story about Lynne. Of course, you all have read To Kill a Mockingbird. Lynne is my human Atticus Finch. He did what he knew was right, but wasn’t popular. And that’s what Lynne is doing. {applause}

We are not waging a war on terror in this country. We’re waging a war of terror. The biggest terrorist in the world is George W. Bush. {applause}

How many more people are we going to let him kill before we stop him? I’m going to talk about free speech and recruitment. Do you know that it costs $66,000 to recruit one recruit? That’s continuing all of their – you know, the recruiter’s salary, the recruiter’s bonus, the place that they rent to recruit and things like that. All the perks they get and everything. That’s not even training the recruit. It costs our government about $6,000 a year on each child in California. $46,000 a year to house a prisoner in our state. Our priorities are seriously screwed up, as I mentioned.

I really want to thank you guys for doing this, especially the young people. It gives me so much hope to know that there’s young people who care more about who’s our next American Idol – less about that. You guys care more about people being killed. There’s too many that care more about the next American Idol. Too many people in our country that don’t even really know we have a war going on. You know, they never have to think of the war, and I’ll never, ever forget this war. I can never forget it, even when I’m sleeping {tears} I know that we’re in a war and I know that George Bush and his band of neo-cons and their neo-con agenda killed my son. And I’ll never, ever, ever forget.

I take responsibility partly for my son’s death, too. I was raised in a country by a public school system that taught us that America was good, that America was just. America has been killing people, like my sister over here says, since we first stepped on this continent, we have been responsible for death and destruction. I passed on that bullshit to my son and my son enlisted. I’m going all over the country telling moms: “This country is not worth dying for. If we’re attacked, we would all go out. We’d all take whatever we had. I’d take my rolling pin and I’d beat the attackers over the head with it. But we were not attacked by Iraq. {applause} We might not even have been attacked by Osama bin Laden if {applause}. 9/11 was their Pearl Harbor to get their neo-con agenda through and, if I would have known that before my son was killed, I would have taken him to Canada. I would never have let him go and try and defend this morally repugnant system we have. The people are good, the system is morally repugnant. {applause}

Please – teach your babies, teach your babies better than I taught my babies. When Congress gave George Bush the right to go to war, they abrogated their constitutional responsibilities and they basically made our constitution null and void. We have no checks and balances in this country. We have no recourse. If they’re going to what they did to Lynne, they don’t have backs they call names, what we need to be is, we the people, we’re their checks and balances. We’re the only checks and balances. We have to stand up and say, Not only is this our school, this is our country. We want our country back and, if we have to impeach everybody from George Bush down to the person who picks up dog shit in Washington, we will impeach all those people. Our country needs to {unintelligible} we need to start over again.

I just want to say that you students, Students Against War, you have all my support and all my organization’s support. I told Kristen if you have any actions and you need a ringleader, that I only live about an hour away. I’ll be here. If I can sleep on somebody’s floor, we can have this, we can camp out, do whatever we need.

And I just want to way to George Bush and I want to say to the people who are here, that are still sheep {unintelligible} and following him blindly: if George Bush believes his rhetoric and his bullshit, that this is a war for freedom and democracy, that he is spreading freedom and democracy, does he think every person he kills makes Iraq more free? It doesn’t make us more free. It damages our humanity. The whole world is damaged. Our humanity is damaged. If he thinks that it’s so important for Iraq to have a U.S.-imposed sense of freedom and democracy, then he needs to sign up his two little party-animal girls. They need to go this war. They need to fight because a just war, the definition of a just war, and maybe you people here who still think this is a just war, the definition of a just war is one that you would send your own children to die in. That you would go die in yourself. And you aren’t willing to send your own children, or if you’re not willing to go die yourself, then you bring there rest of our kids home now. It is despicable what they’re doing. {applause}

What they’re saying, too, is like, it’s okay for Israel to have nuclear weapons. But Iran or Syria better not get nuclear weapons. It’s okay for the United States to have nuclear weapons. It’s okay for the countries that we say it’s okay for. We are waging a nuclear war in Iraq right now. That country is contaminated. It will be contaminated for practically eternity now. It’s okay for them to have them, but Iran or Syria can’t have them. It’s okay for Israel to occupy Palestine, but it’s – yeah – and it’s okay for Iraq to occupy – I mean, for the United States to occupy Iraq, but it’s not okay for Syria to be in Lebanon. They’re a bunch of fucking hypocrites! And we need to, we just need to rise up. We need a revolution and make it be peaceful and make it be loving and let’s just show them all the love we have for humanity because we want to stop the inhumane slaughter.

{wild applause}




Cindy Sheehan may have abandoned her Crawford vigil, but the Associated Press forges on in her name: ‘Peace Mom’: Spearhead of Peace Movement?

WASHINGTON - What began as one mother’s vigil on a country road in Texas two weeks ago has grown into a nationwide protest, putting a grieving human face to the miseries of war and the misgivings about President Bush’s strategies in Iraq.

It’s still not clear whether Cindy Sheehan’s effort was the start of a lasting anti-war movement or a fleeting summertime story fueled by media-savvy liberal interest groups.

Sheehan left the camp Thursday, rushing to the side of her mother, who had had a stroke in California. She said she would be back if possible before Bush leaves his ranch for Washington on Sept. 3.

While her backers maintain the vigil in Texas, Republican Party leaders are worried that the so-called Peace Mom has brought long-simmering unease over Iraq to a boil by galvanizing anti-war activists. They fear that protests will strike a chord with the large number of Americans who have long felt uneasy about the war yet have been giving Bush the benefit of the doubt.

The president’s falling poll numbers — less than 40 percent approve of his handling of Iraq — could drop further, threatening his military plans in Iraq, his agenda at home and Republican political prospects in the 2006 congressional and gubernatorial elections.

But will that happen? Will one woman’s demand to meet the president outside his vacation home be viewed someday as a tipping point against the war? ...

... opined AP political writer Ron Fournier with barely concealed hope.


All of a sudden, Scott Randolph gets it.

I actually felt myself become a republican today. It was around 10am, when I read the latest update of the Cindy Sheehan saga in CNN.com. I then shot over to read some blogs about it, and perused the comments in some of them, which was nothing but a long series of petty (albeit entertaining) partisan bickering.

Then it happened. The good little democrat in me tied the little noose around his neck and jumped off the stool. He just couldn’t take it anymore.

Take what? The whining. The constant whining by the extreme left about the reasons for war, the incompetence of this administration, and how we’ve all been lied to, and how we should pull out of Iraq immediately, because, *gulp* our soldiers were in danger.

Guess what folks….they signed up to join the Army, not the boy scouts. Anytime your orientation to a new job involves an automatic weapon, you should be smart enough to figure out there’s danger involved. I actually read some people’s comments about many of the soldiers over there being naive….they weren’t expecting to go to war, so, they should be allowed to go home. Wow.

Wow, indeed.

UPDATE: Actually, Scott, you didn’t become a Republican. You became an anti-idiotarian. Thursday, August 18, 2005




Jacob Gershman follows up on his story yesterday regarding UN funding of PLO/Hamas propaganda related to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza: "Funding of Palestinian propaganda by UN 'unacceptable,' Bolton says." The controversy should not obscure the fact, as Anne Bayefsky has written, that the "the United Nations has become the personal propaganda machine of the nom de guerre of Arab and Islamic states — Palestinians. Their aim is to demonize, debilitate, and destroy the state of Israel — the thriving democratic beachhead in their midst — for a start."  Thursday, August 18, 2005




Thanks to CQ reader Elly in Australia, we have a couple of more threads from which to work on the arrests of Iraq spies in Germany during the same period that the 9/11 team leaders traveled through that country. She finds two German reports still available from the time of the arrests (March 1, 2001). The first, from Berliner Kurier, provides just a headline/flash report. The second, which Elly translates, gives more speculation than background:

Berlin Newspaper (Berliner Zeitung)

Two Iraqis on remand on suspicion of espionage

Federal Prosecutor's office accuses them of acting as intelligence agents / no details on the background to the arrest

Berlin, March 1 (2001). The Federal prosecutor's office has had two Iraqi men arrested on Sunday and Tuesday of this week. They stand under urgent suspicion of espionage activity, the Prosecutor's Office explained on Thursday.

On the background to the arrests no information was given.

Information from ARD (German radio/news) as to which the Iraqis were located in the area of Heidelberg, was not confirmed by a spokesman for the agency. In an explanation it said solely that the two under arrest "stand in suspicion, since the start of 2001, of carrying out missions for an Iraqi intelligence agency in various German states." As to whether these missions had a political background or were in the service of preparing possible attacks, the Prosecutor's Office spokesman would not comment. He also left unanswered the question of whether the Iraqis might have been engaged in business- or weapons-espionage, "for inquiry-tactical (?) reasons".

Dealings in Germany

In its Intelligence Service report for the year 1999, the Cologne Federal Agency mentioned intensifying efforts by the Iraqi intelligence service to boost intelligence gathering activities also against Germany. To this end, the report said, the officers recruited primarily "provisionall / interim (?) naturalized and asylum-seeking Iraqis in Germany."

In addition, it concluded that the intelligence services of Iraq had intensified their efforts to procure from German technology companies products which relevant to their weapons production. Involved in these procurement arrangements were Iraqi officials, who traveled to Germany in order to close the respective deals in person.
Also, in an October 1999 study on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Intelligence Service (German) pointed out the activity of the Iraqi intelligence service. According to it, Iraq is seeking, in Germany and other West European states, to buy and source companies which could work together with the nation's weapons program.

Target US Army?

It is as yet unclear whether the two arrested Iraqis were preparing potential attacks on facilities of the US Army in Germany. Iraq threatened retaliation after recent air attacks/raids on targets near Baghdad.

The spokesman for the US Army in Europe, Jim Boyle, commented on the arrest of the Iraqis only with the words: "We have spoken with the Federal Prosecutor's Office." However, the spokesman said he will make no comment pending the determinations / inquiries.

This didn't come from any background briefing but from the journalist's own speculation and prior intelligence analyses, notably from 1999, an analysis which would have been over a year old. The assessment of German intelligence for 2001, curiously, does not appear on the Verfassungsschutz site, at least not in English. The 2002 assessment does have an interesting description of a nexus for neo-Nazis, Iraqi agents, and radical Islamists (page 86-87):

2. German right-wing extremists’ contacts to Iraq and radical Islamist circles

There were only isolated indications that German right-wing extremists had contacts to radical Islamists and representatives of the Iraq regime. For example, on his website Gary Rex LAUCK (see 3 below) reported that leading functionaries of the Kampfbund deutscher Sozialisten (Combat Alliance of German Socialists, KDS) had attended a reception at the Iraqi Embassy in Berlin on 17 July. On its homepage, the KDS declares that it practises “active solidarity” with Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

Swiss revisionist and right-wing extremist Ahmed HUBER (see 1 above), who has maintained links with German right-wing extremists for years, is thought to be pursuing contacts to radical Islamists.

The NPD national party chairman, Udo VOIGT, and the NPD’s representative in the Federal Constitutional Court’s proceedings to ban the party, Horst MAHLER, were among those attending an event with links to the radical Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir (Islamic Party of Liberation) held at the Technical University in Berlin on 27 October.

Their shared anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism is what brings right-wing extremists, radical Islamists and Iraq together.

The 9/11 report makes no mention of this nexus, of course.

All of this background would appear to have been superceded by the information reported by al-Watan al-Arabi in Paris two weeks later. The summary from MEIB demonstrates more immediate sourcing specific to the arrests, and reports that the CIA and FBI had participated in the investigation (emphases mine):

Iraqi Spies Reportedly Arrested in Germany 16 March 2001

Al-Watan al-Arabi (Paris) reports that two Iraqis were arrested in Germany, charged with spying for Baghdad. The arrests came in the wake of reports that Iraq was reorganizing the external branches of its intelligence service and that it had drawn up a plan to strike at US interests around the world through a network of alliances with extremist fundamentalist parties.

The most serious report contained information that Iraq and Osama bin Ladin were working together. German authorities were surprised by the arrest of the two Iraqi agents and the discovery of Iraqi intelligence activities in several German cities. German authorities, acting on CIA recommendations, had been focused on monitoring the activities of Islamic groups linked to bin Ladin. They discovered the two Iraqi agents by chance and uncovered what they considered to be serious indications of cooperation between Iraq and bin Ladin. The matter was considered so important that a special team of CIA and FBI agents was sent to Germany to interrogate the two Iraqi spies.

Given the German assessment of national-security threats that they developed for 2002, it seems that the Germans may have connected a few more dots than the Americans along those lines. Far from insisting that no such cooperation occurred, their intelligence showed that Iraqis and Islamists had bridged together on occasion through neo-Nazis and other extreme right-wingers within Germany. This assessment, mind you, came out more than a year after 9/11, when the American political bureaucracy kept insisting that no such connection existed.

We seem to have moved the ball in a significant manner with this information. We need more information from Germany, probably information only German or German-speaking bloggers can access. One direction would be to find public reports of operations or campaigns that included all three elements (Iraq, Islamist, neo-Nazi). We also still need to find out what the CIA and FBI found out when interrogating the two Iraqi spies, and whether the network the Germans found ever had any contact with the known AQ agents working on the 9/11 plot.

Addenda: The German assessment for 2000 does not include any of the data linking the three elements; that intelligence got developed either in 2001 or 2002, making it a rather new development. Why didn't the 9/11 Commission know anything about that, and why haven't American media sources paid attention to it?

Tom Maguire
joins me in asking for German bloggers and researchers to find more references to this nexus. I will float this post at or near the top all morning long, so scroll down to find newer posts.

BUMP: Back to top. I'm getting some preliminary information on other German resources, but just pointers at the moment. I'll keep you posted, of course, on any new developments.

It might be helpful, to start, to find out why this document (their 2001 assessment) isn't offered in English as in other years. For CQ readers fluent in German, perhaps they could read through this and determine whether the report mentions these arrests and any AQ/Iraqi connections, especially earlier in the year. A search on 'Irak' turns up 28 references within the document; 'Qaida' turns up 20.


Saudi security forces found and killed another al-Qaeda leader in the desert kingdom today. The Saudis conducted a series of seven raids, the last of which turned up Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi, whom they killed in a gun battle:

Al-Qaida's leader in Saudi Arabia was killed Thursday during clashes with police in the western city of Medina, the Interior Ministry said.

Saleh Mohammed al-Aoofi was among six al-Qaida militants reported killed during police raids on numerous locations in the holy city and the capital, Riyadh, security officials told The Associated Press.

Al-Aoofi, a Saudi in his late 30s, and another militant were killed during one of seven police raids in Medina, the Interior Ministry said.

The Saudis have done a remarkable job in cleaning up al-Qaeda leadership since AQ attacked foreigners in Riyadh in May 2003. Shortly after that attack, the Saudis listed 26 known terrorist leaders wanted by their security services. With the death of Aoofi, 25 of 26 have either been captured or killed by the Saudis. They also captured 10 Islamist "militants" in Medina, and killed another in a separate raid in Riyadh. The Riyadh operation also turned up a number of weapons, bombs, and documentation.

It looks like the Saudis scored a couple of big victories today. It may also show that Abdullah's reign, as expected, will bring no change in official Saudi policy towards al-Qaeda. Since Abdullah ran the country in Fahd's name for the last ten years, no change was expected anyway. The next transition will undoubtedly be the key.


The one newspaper that has consistently covered the Air America/Piquant Media financial scandal has been the New York Sun and its reporter, David Lambino. Today he follows up on the revelations contained in the investigative report by Michelle Malkin and Brian Maloney posted yesterday on Michelle's blog:

A lawsuit filed by an owner of radio stations claims that the transfer of ownership of the Air America radio network from Progress Media to Piquant LLC in May 2004 was a "sham" intended to maintain the network's assets while deceiving its creditors, according to documents posted on a blog yesterday.

In the suit, which was filed in state Supreme Court at Manhattan in May, Multicultural Radio Broadcasting, a radio station owner with affiliates across the country, is seeking more than $255,000 it claims it is owed by the current owners of Air America, Piquant LLC. Multicultural's complaint, as posted on the blog of Michelle Malkin, a conservative commentator, states that the station owner is trying to enforce a judgment in its favor last November, in which the court ordered Air America's owners to pay it that amount.

Court actions naming a corporation a "sham" and accusing it of fraudulent conveyance to avoid paying its creditors normally would get some attention at most papers. If the corporation's creditors included an inner-city charity that helps out underprivileged children and the elderly, that would normally make the story banner-headline material. However, a look at the New York Times' Regional section shows no coverage at all.

Looks like the Sun ate the Times' lunch. Again. Do you think Bill Keller will ever feel embarrassed by this?


In the first part of the multiple-installment series by Michelle Malkin and Brian Maloney, the pair expose Air America's transfer of ownership between original parent firm Progress Media and current owners Piquant Media as little more than a shell game. In part II, the two show that the shell game may not have ended with the first allegedly fraudulent conveyance:

On July 21, 2005, a standing room-only crowd of Democrats filled a Highland Park, Illinois, public library conference room to hear two local businesspeople talk about their company and its future plans.

The attraction? These weren't your everyday corporate suits: it featured Sheldon and Anita Drobny, who last year put Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo on their upstart liberal Air America talk radio network. Hearing about their "success" was surely appealing. ...

Sheldon's wife Anita took to the podium to spill the beans about Nova M Radio.

Disclosing Air America's future plans to a room full of rabid supporters might seem smart, especially if it brings potential investors to what inside sources say is an effort to raise $5 million to fund the new company.

Was such a public disclosure legal, however? Since Nova M Radio's offering is set up as a private placement, there have been no indicated or available US Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Be sure to read this latest entry in the Air America scandal -- the story that even the New York Times admits we should be reading even if they're not covering it.  Thursday, August 18, 2005








Erstwhile British jihadist Omar Bakri will have to settle for flying the black flag of Islam over Lebanon or the UAE, at least for now. "Transplanted Jihadi," from Newsweek, with thanks to Scaramouche:

Aug. 17, 2005 - Radical imam Omar Bakri Mohammed, whose pro-Jihad agitation led British authorities last week to ban him from their shores, now is likely to set up a new base in either Lebanon or the United Arab Emirates, according to a close associate.

British officials disclosed last week that Bakri, founder of a controversial and now dissolved militant group known as Al Muhajiroun (The Immigrants) had been sent a letter informing him he would not be allowed to re-enter the U.K., his longtime country of residence. The Syrian-born preacher had left Britain for what initially was described as a vacation to Lebanon shortly after a wave of deadly suicide bombings of London's transport system on July 7 and a second round of attempted attacks on July 21. In the wake of the attacks, Prime Minister Tony Blair's government promised to curb the activities of preachers like Bakri, either by ejecting them from Britain or taking them off the streets through new antiterror legislation or regulations.

Bakri associate Abu Yahya, a Briton who described himself as a former Al Muhajiroun spokesman, told NEWSWEEK that when Bakri left for Lebanon, he "never planned to come back to the U.K. in the first place." Bakri's "ultimate aim" was to go to Pakistan, said Abu Yahya, who said that he and other British followers of Bakri were "in contact" with the imam. Now, however, Bakri is "most probably" going to stay in Lebanon, though it is possible he could also try to settle in the Persian Gulf emirates of Sharjah or Abu Dhabi, according to Abu Yahya, who is currently in Britain. "He's a world-renowned figure. He has an international following ... He's going to continue his duties wherever he is." Bakri was picked up by Lebanese authorities last week for questioning but was later released.

Only days before his departure from London, Bakri, whose proclivity for outrageous statements made him a favorite target for Britain's raucous tabloids, declared that he would not inform the police if he knew that another cell of Muslim terrorists was planning a new attack on London. "I have said publicly, on the record, if I knew somebody was going to attack here, I will hold him, I will call the Muslims to hold him," Bakri told Britain's Channel 4 News, adding, "I would never tell the police. I am not working for the police. I would never, ever, tell the police about any Muslim. It is God-forbidden."

That prohibition is based on Qur'an 4:92.


No surprise here. A report from Itamar Marcus and Barbara Cook of Palestinian Media Watch:


Israel's leaving the Gaza Strip is being presented by the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas as a victory for Islam.

Palestinian Authority religious leaders and Hamas have for years been presenting their conflict with Israel as part of an unbroken religious war, which Allah is waging against Jews - a conflict whose climax will be the extermination of the world's Jews. (Palestinian Media Watch has reported on this ideology. See documentation below.)

Within this context, Israel's leaving its towns in Gaza now, is being presented as a victory of Islam in this war. Palestinian Authority Television hosts and participants alike are calling the Israeli moves from its towns as a 'great victory for Allah'.

The Hamas website publicized numerous posters that declare the same religious victory theme. The Hamas poster below, showing a face of Hamas founder Ahmad Yassin laughing, superimposed over a somber religious Jew, presents the Sharon evacuation plan as a victory of the Koran over the Talmud. The words on the poster: "Our Koran proves that we were right and your Talmud proves that you were wrong..."

Another Hamas poster shows a rifle and the Koran with the words: "With those two together the victory has been achieved."

One example from the Palestinian Authority's official daily:

"...The manager of the office of the Ministry of the Waqf in northern Gaza, Farid Al-Nayard, said, '...last Friday’s sermon was under the title ‘On that day the Believers will be glad with the victory of Allah.''"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, August 13, 2005]

In June 2004 Palestinian Authority religious leader Ibrahim Mudayris already preached the religious significance he saw in Sharon's plan, connecting it to an event described in the Koran, specifically focusing on Israel's plan to destroy the towns before leaving.

The Koranic event and the present expulsion, according to this senior PA imam, have numerous parallels:

1. Attacks by Muslims against Jews

2. Jews become fearful

3. Jews destroy their own homes

4. Jews flee their towns

Continue reading "Palestinians: Gaza withdrawal is victory for Islam"  Thursday, August 18, 2005




The amazing thing is that radio stations like this weren’t shut down long ago: Calls to close ‘dissident’ radio. (Hat tip: Daniel.)

The Government is facing demands to close down a London-based radio station broadcasting calls for attacks on British troops in Iraq.

Al-Tajdeed Radio, which is run by a prominent Saudi dissident, has close links with a website carrying films of terrorist bombings and beheadings. It also carries songs calling on Muslims to join the holy war against coalition forces.

The radio broadcasts in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The man behind the station is Dr Muhammad al-Massari.

He has lived in London since first seeking asylum there in 1994. He has frequently declared that British troops in Iraq are legitimate targets.

Patrick Mercer, shadow minister for homeland security, said the Government should close down the station and look at deporting Dr al-Massari.  Thursday, August 18, 2005





From FoxNews: Bush Administration Watches Iraq Closely.

The Bush administration is staying in close contact with Iraqis as they seek to wrap up writing a draft constitution, and are putting on a brave face through difficult challenges.

On Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Defense Department officials are confident that the remaining issues that delayed the completion of the constitution will still be resolved, saying all parties are still at the table. He characterized the process as one of compromise, cooperation and significant progress and said a one-week extension does not seem unreasonable. ...

Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish framers of the charter had reached a tentative deal late Monday, resolving issues ranging from oil revenues to the country's name but putting off decisions on the most contentious questions — including federalism, women's rights, the role of Islam, and possible Kurdish autonomy.

The Shiites are demanding that Islam be the main source of legislation. That could affect the civil code — because in Islamic law, or sharia, women might not receive the same share of inheritance and cannot initiate divorce.

Those demands are of concern to U.S. officials, who say they have made it clear that they expect women's rights to be protected in the constitution.  Wednesday, August 17, 2005




When  Hitler's troops reoccupied the Rhineland in violation of its treaty obligations to restore German dignity, stormtroopers parading before the Reichschancellery sang "for today we own Germany and tomorrow the entire world". The echo of that refrain reverberates in the United Nations. The Jerusalem Post has this Associated Press story:

The United Nations is embroiled in a dispute with American Jewish organizations over the funding of Palestinian banners in Gaza, and US Ambassador John Bolton on Wednesday protested the "unacceptable" payments.

The dispute centers on the UN Development Program's payment for materials produced by the Palestinian Authority for Israel's disengagement from Gaza which include banners saying: "Gaza Today. The West Bank and Jerusalem Tomorrow."

The irony is exact. The French Left remained passive in what Churchill called the last moment in which Second World War could have been prevented. Instead it allowed that Hitler had a legitimate grievance and met him with renunciations of militarism and expressions of understanding. For what, they asked, could be more German than the Rhineland? One could have rhetorically asked whether a Nazi Rhineland was the same thing. But then:

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.


One of the forgotten things about Hitler's rise to power was that up until about 1938, many of his foreign policy demands were just. The Treaty of Versailles, imposed by the Allies after the Great War deprived Germany of "about 13.5% of her territory, 13% of her economic productivity and about 7 million of her inhabitants". So when in 1935 the Saar voted to return to Germany, after being a French coalmine for 15 years, many Britons were sympathetic.  German troops marching into the Rhineland in 1936 were greeted by deliriously happy crowds in Essen, Frankfurt and Cologne. When Germany asserted her right to full sovereignty and re-armed, as was the due of every nation, not simply the Germans but many in the world gave three cheers. Auden in his famous poem September 1, 1939 felt it necessary to apologize for Versailles even as the Panzers were rolling across Poland.

I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

The return of Gaza to the Arabs, replete with UN funded banners proclaiming "Gaza Today. The West Bank and Jerusalem Tomorrow" underlines the historical parallel. Looking back on the 1930s, at the last moment when Second World War could have been averted, the problem never consisted of whether to return the Rhineland to Germany; but in whether the Rhineland should have been handed to Hitler. The issue of letting Germany rearm without restriction, at one level simply ceding her sovereign due was indistinguishable from giving the Nazis the key to Europe. It was a subtle difference which only a few statesmen, like Winston Churchill, appreciated.  The Popular Front, a coalition of Leftist parties in French power up to the eve of the war, never grasped the distinction.

One wing of the party under it's leader Leon Blum saw early on that the new German Chancellor whose thugs had been smashing windows and brawling in the street for years was a potential threat and argued that France had to get ready to do something about him, the other wing argued against viewing Hitler in black and white terms. They had a more nuanced view of Herr Hitler. The latter faction were so eager to avoid another war that they ended up sabotaging France's ability to fight. It won't surprise those familiar with French history that a number of the anti-war Socialists ended up in the collaborationist Vichy Regime under German occupation. Or that Leon Blum ended up in Dachau.

Leon Blum was a Jew. But he was also heir to the Left's legacy of the search for root causes; it's attachment to pacifism at all costs, even when in Blum's case, it meant abandoning Spanish Communists to Hitler in the Civil War. The British and French policy of the 1930s is appeasement only in hindsight. Back then it was a roadmap to peace -- "peace in our time". Nor was it the case that Hitler compelled concessions from the reluctant statesmen of the West; on the contrary, they fell all over themselves to expiate their own guilt: the guilt of Versailles, the embarrassment of colonial empires. One historian notes:

Premier Blum’s appeasement has sometimes been overlooked by earlier historians. Thomas does not make this mistake, criticizing Blum for offering Hitler’s Economic Minister, Hjalmar Schacht, concessions in the African colonies taken from Germany at Versailles in 1919. The optimistic Blum still professed to believe, as late as January 1937, that Hitler would sign a disarmament agreement with Britain and France ... Yet Thomas also believes that Blum had no choice but to humor the British on the Non-Intervention policy toward Spain. Blum, according to the author, became an appeaser to avoid Chamberlain’s greater appeasement. Blum experimented with peaceful suggestions to prevent Chamberlain from making a bilateral deal with Hitler behind Paris’s back.

The return of Gaza to the Arabs is at one level simple justice -- not to mention a shrewd tactical move by the Israelis. One wishes it were not also a cession of territory to Hamas and Fatah, which unfortunately it is. And yet, as Churchill understood, the question of who one is dealing with is not altogether irrelevant. Pacifists of 1930s who watched Leni Reifenstahl's Triumph of the Will, which "opens with Hitler's plane flying through the clouds ... descending like a new messiah to the waiting throngs of people gathered to meet him" may have felt a moment of unease at dealing with this man -- but only for a moment. But this generation is also unable to see the Nuremberg rallies of its day. Ronald Jones, in his monograph for the Army War College entitled Terrorist Beheadings: Cultural and Strategic Implications warns an agnostic age that we ignore the ritual and ceremony of the enemy only at our peril. It is a window on his soul and a gauntlet in our face.

Taking hostages and ritually beheading them has recently emerged as a popular terrorist tactic for radical groups. ... The terrorists’ actions also have tremendous cultural and symbolic significance for their audience. Killing hostages is not new, but the growing trend of the graphic murder of noncombatants impels us to study this tactic.

And the message in those rituals, in the many incidents like the one in which shows Nick Berg, a "26-year-old Philadelphia businessman in an orange jumpsuit, with his hands tied behind his back" being beheaded under the caption "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Shown Slaughtering an American" is not reassuring. In our search for root causes, we have blinded ourselves to the most basic of all: the content of the human heart.  Thursday, August 18, 2005




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