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Military Blogs February 24, 2007

Posted by June in Around the World, Blog, Politics, War on Terror.
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Yes, I finally got this thing to load in properly. I downloaded the Opera browser; and, for some reason, that has fixed things. (It’s a little slower though…)

Anyway, I want to take the time to highlight some blogs that I think should be on everyone’s daily reading. These are a couple of military blogs by soldiers on the front lines.

Acute Politics or Acute Politics
Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from “Build Soil”
Robert Frost

For this one, I would suggest going here first as it gives some suggested posts to read on your first visit.

Badgers Foward or Badgers Forward

These guys have links to many other military blogs on their sites. So you can browse around and find your favorite soldier blogger. I tried to put up a feed to the Acute Politics site; but that Atom feed isn’t coming in right. My apologies…

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Attacks at Gitmo August 1, 2006

Posted by June in Around the World, News, Politics, War on Terror.
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We’ve all heard about the inhumane treatment of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay; but have you heard about the inhumane treatment of the guards? I’ve heard libs moaning over the supposed lack of furniture and other such things in prisoner’s cells. Too bad most of that isn’t true. If it were, our boys over there who are doing the job of watching these “innocents” would not be abused as much as they are.

Gitmo Guards Often Attacked by Detainees

By JOHN SOLOMON
Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay during the war on terror have attacked their military guards hundreds of times, turning broken toilet parts, utensils, radios and even a bloody lizard tail into makeshift weapons.

Pentagon incident reports reviewed by The Associated Press show Military Police guards are routinely head-butted, spat upon and doused by “cocktails” of feces, urine, vomit and sperm collected in meal cups by the prisoners.

They’ve been repeatedly grabbed, punched or assaulted by prisoners who reach through the small “bean holes” used to deliver food and blankets through cell doors, the reports say. Serious assaults requiring medical attention, however, are rare, the reports indicate.

The detainee “reached under the face mask of an IRF (Initial Reaction Force) team member’s helmet and scratched his face, attempting to gouge his eyes,” states a May 27, 2005, report on an effort to remove a recalcitrant prisoner from his cell.

With many nearing five years in U.S. captivity, the prisoners “have a Ph.D. in being a detainee” and “know our procedures and they try to turn them against us and try to make us question what we are doing,” said Army Lt. Col. Michael J. Nicolucci, the prison’s executive officer.

“They’ll take the smallest things, be it a piece of rust,” he said. “They told us they are going to take that piece of rust and they are going for the jugular, they are going for the eye. They know what our vulnerabilities are, anatomically speaking.”

Meal plates, shower flip-flops, cleaning brushes and other items deemed harmless in civilian life also are commonly turned into weapons, the reports said. For instance:

-“Detainee in cell (redacted) grabbed the radio from an MP and then threw the radio at the MP. The detainee then threw rocks at the MP,” a Dec. 23, 2003, incident report stated.

-A detainee “reached out of his bean hole and attacked MP (name redacted) with a piece of metal foot pad from toilet striking him on the left hip area,” a July 15, 2005, report said.

-“Detainee broke off the top of his sink, subsequently broke out the window then began throwing the sink and pieces of pipes at the Block Guard,” a March 25, 2005, report said.

One of the most unusual incidents detailed in the four-inch stack of incident reports occurred when a detainee in the prison recreation yard assaulted a guard with a bloody tail torn from a lizard.

The detainee “caught the iguana by the tail at which time the tail detached,” the May 2005 report described. When the guard turned to talk to a commanding officer, “he felt something strike him in the lower right back” and then “saw the tail on the ground at his feet and blood was in the same area of his uniform.” The detainee said he was “just playing.”

Nicolucci said one of the most serious incidents occurred this May, too recent to be recorded in the Pentagon’s released reports. A prisoner staged an apparent suicide attempt while his inmates slicked the floors with human waste, seeking to overpower guards when they slipped, he said.

“We provide fans in order to keep them cool,” Nicolucci recalled. “And they were using the basket, or the grate of the fan as a shield, the blades as machetes, the pole as a battering ram.”

That disturbance was turned back in a few minutes with some guards and prisoners sustaining minor injuries, he said.

The Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group that fought to force the Pentagon to release the reports under the Freedom of Information Act, said it hopes the information brings balance to the Guantanamo debate.

One thing that caught my eye there…shower flip-flops?! Um…inhumane treatment of detainees…detainees with such things as shower flip-flops. Sheesh. Ask people who have seen prisons in places like Mexico and China as to whether or not they get such luxuries.

The Propaganda of Qana August 1, 2006

Posted by June in Around the World, News, Politics, War on Terror.
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This is something that was mentioned on Rush’s show today that I thought was important to see for myself and to post here. It took me a while since this computer is having trouble with a majority of the photos on webpages; but I viewed this.

I must warn you that, while there is not a lot of blood in the photos, they are rather graphic. Proceed with caution, especially since you will be seeing them one after another and described with much detail.

1. Milking it?

Here you are taken through a series of photos that are supposed to be spontaneous, candid shots of rescue workers (or, rather, worker) removing children from the rubble at Qana. What becomes obvious by the time you reach the end of that post is that these “rescue” workers are not really rescuing these children but, rather, exploiting them in a most despicable fashion by parading their bodies and posing with them for the cameras.

2. Who is this man?

Here is a look at “Green Helmet”, the star of the previous photographs and his history with the previous bombing of Qana in 1996.

3. In whose interest?

Here is the truth about Qana that the majority of the media is not reporting. Hezbollah purposely planted and launched rockets at Israel and Israeli civilians from near this building that was filled with women and children, hiding like skulking cowards behind the skirts of women and the innocence of children and setting them up as sacrifices for the cause of Islamofascism.

Is it really coincidence that there are so few men who are victims when the rocket launchers were so close to this area? Are we to believe that women and children were operating these machines? Let’s not forget the fact that Hezbollah has occupied Lebanon but is actually funded by Iran and Syria. Whether or not the Lebonese government is supporting Hezbollah, as well, is up for debate. It is a little questionable as to why Lebanon did not ask for help in ridding itself of these terrorists, especially after the UN resolutions they signed saying that they would do so if Israel gave up Gaza, which Israel did.

In any case, these Hezbollah terrorists are the same kind of people who strap bombs onto their own kids and send them in to blow themselves up as long as they also take out Israelites with them.
Why would they think twice before putting other Muslim people’s children at risk if it means winning the PR war. I am reminded of a Palestinian mother who is hailed as a hero for sending her sons in to bomb Israelites and of the money Saddam paid to people whose children have done so. Another reminder is the photo in this post on Brent Roos’s site.

Also, very interesting is the updates at the bottom which I will post here. I’d like people to take particular note of the Update at 8:10 pm:

Update here, which indicates that the building sheltering the refugees was not targeted. Our own forum reports that Fox News has been showing footage of Hezbollah missiles being fired from Qana.

Also, the Security Council is meeting today, with Kofi asking it to condemn the attack.

Update at 7 pm: Olmert has issued a statement claiming that Qana has been used as a base for launching missiles against Israel, backed up by IDF video footage showing missiles being launched (broadcast on BBC News 24 on the 7pm bulletin). Blair, speaking from California, says, “these atrocities must not be allowed to continue”.

Update at 8.10 pm: According to Israel National News, Senior IDF officers say there is a contradiction in the timing of the bombing of Qana and reports of the explosion. Air Force Commander Amir Eshel left open the possibility that Hizbullah terrorists blew up the building or that an unknown cause set off explosives which were stored in the structure.

He explained that recorded information shows that Israeli Air Force planes bombed the building between midnight and 1 am and that the next attack at 7:30 am was up to 500 yards away. He said reports of the killing of civilians came around 8 am. “It is not clear what happened” between 1 am and 8 am, he said.

ABC News reports that the “missiles” (their word) struck just after 1 am, while Reuters reports that police said Qana was bombed at 1:30 am (2230 GMT on Saturday).

Chemical Munitions in Iraq June 24, 2006

Posted by June in Around the World, Executive Branch, Politics, War on Terror.
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Okay, before I go, I will post this link here. This is a developing story that will be interesting to see where it goes as more of this document is unclassified.

Now I shall bid my adieu's until July 17.

CHEMICAL MUNITIONS IN IRAQ

By Michelle Malkin · June 21, 2006 08:10 PM

***scroll for updates…FoxNews.com coverage***

Emerging buzz seems to be focused on why it took so long to release info about 500 chemical-weapons shells found in Iraq. Allah's got video of Santorum and chock full of links.

Austin Bay predicts conspiracy-mongering. Ed Morrissey remembers a sarin gas shell discovery in May 2004. Ed theorizes:

Some will claim that the release is strictly for political purposes. They may have a point, but I doubt it will have anything to do with domestic politics. If Bush wanted to use it for that, he would have done so in October 2004 and not in June 2006. This information changes the picture about our pre-war intelligence in time for the Iranian confrontation — and I suspect that the White House wants to declassify it in order to convince European leaders that our intel actually paid off.

Glenn Reynolds has the press conference transcript with Santorum and Hoekstra.

Here's the declassified summary of the key points from the National Ground Intelligence Center report on the recovery of chem munitions in Iraq.

negropontepdf.jpg

Allah will have video/analysis of anything interesting from Santorum's appearance tonight on Hannity and Colmes.

Power Line weighs in. John Hinderaker:

This is certainly significant, but what they're talking about is old munitions left over from, presumably, before the first Gulf War. This doesn't appear to constitute evidence that Saddam's regime had continued to manufacture chemical weapons in more recent years. What it does demonstrate is that the picture with respect to Iraq's WMDs is much more nuanced than the usual "he didn't have any" mantra. There is no doubt about the fact that Saddam had, and used, chemical and biological weapons. Nor is there any doubt about the fact that he eagerly pursued nuclear weapons. Further, the Iraq Survey Group report says that he had every intention of resuming his programs as soon as the coast was clear and the U.N. sanctions were behind him. Add to that the fact that hundreds of chemical weapons, at a minimum, were secreted in various locations around Iraq–as also shown by this document–and it is reasonable to conclude that, even though the CIA and nearly all other observers over-estimated Iraq's WMD capabilities, the fear that Saddam might use such weapons, or slip them to a terrorist group, was well-founded.

Scott Johnson adds an e-mail from Michael Ledeen:

Please point out to your readers that Negroponte only declassified a few fragments of a much bigger document. Read the press conference and you will see that Santorum and Hoekstra were furious at the meager declassification. They will push for more, and we all must do that. I am told that there is a lot more in the full document, which CIA is desperate to protect, since it shows the miserable job they did looking for WMDs in Iraq.

Update: Santorum and Hoekstra on H&C here.

Thank God for the American Soldier June 20, 2006

Posted by June in Around the World, Conservatism, Executive Branch, Politics, War on Terror.
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I just want to take some time to reflect on the brave men and women in our military and to highlight a moving comment by one on another blog.

I wish I could go through all of history to thank each and everyone of them for risking their life or paying the ultimate price to ensure that I am able to write this and my other thoughts on this blog with complete freedom today. There are people in my father's home country who are arrested for writing things that criticize the government; but here I am, free to write what I please so long as it is not intentionally libelous.

Thank you.

The comment is located here at comment 13:
My Republican Father Hated This War
His blog is here:
Summa Theologiae

(P.S. Since these are long paragraphs and since putting this in blockquotes makes it all the harder to read, I am going to divide some of the paragraphs at strategic places to make it a bit easier.)

“Remarkably, for many prowar Christians, the sight of suffering doesn’t help them to empathize with the sufferer–it just makes them angry (scroll down to see typical comments). They don’t want to know how others are hurting. They want to enjoy Father’s Day with their families with not a care in the world about all those fathers in this country, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan who’ve lost children and will continue to lose children to this sinful war. And Friend, that’s not Christian.”

I think your comments seem to by-pass a crucial question, and instead you focus on emotional questions which are just as strong in both directions. The emotional straw-man, “fathers who have lost children,” can be used to move people in any direction, right and wrong. But the question of whether War is ever justified must be answered first. I think that your article is heart felt and I would not imply that you used your father’s death as a tool to coerce people into thinking the way you do. However, I think that others reading this article must understand that if they believe War is ever justified, the fact that fathers and mothers lose sons and daughters and so on is not a determinative factor. It is a determinative factor when you are coming to your own conclusion about whether War is ever justified. But once you determine that War is sometimes a necessity, the fact that people will die ceases to hold weight in whether the War is just.

I myself am a Christian. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that he became a man in flesh, was the only perfect person, died on the cross, and rose from the dead. In other words, I believe it is more than a good way to live and that Jesus was more than just a man who had some good things to say. I know many real Christians who are pacifists and I know many real Christians who believe that there is biblical support for War under certain circumstances. If you are a pacifist, and believe that killing in all contexts is wrong, and you are truly seeking God’s guidance in coming to your decision and keep seeking, I could not question that. I say the same for those who support war. There are good arguments in both directions. The debate between Just War theory and Pacifism within a Christian context is long and I am not attempting to have that here. But I am saying that there are true Christians, seeking to follow after Christ on both sides of the debate. And I am saying that once one concedes that Wars are sometimes justified, using the fact that people die and accusing those who support it as not empathizing with those who are affected most by the loss is intellectually dishonest. Unlike one of the comments, I believe that Jesus is the answer. Unfortunately, we are all not Christians and we that are Christians are not perfect. That’s Sin. And that’s exactly why we need Christ because we cannot do it on our own. You can see it in this war. Sin and our desire to do things our way is the root cause. Then we pass it on to the next generation and the next. And it gets to the point where almost all solutions imaginable have horrible flaws. The ONLY solution is Christ and what he did for us.

I have carried the bodies of the dead in this war. I have left my wife and child more than once to participate in both Iraqi freedom and Enduring freedom. I see the faces of those who were with them while they died … before the bloggers see a number or a picture on Yahoo news. I don’t say that to say that I am more qualified to speak on the matter. It would be entirely possible to care about it less than someone who doesn’t experience it first hand. I say it because for me, it’s not something occurring in a distant land. I do however hope that If I were to die, my death would not be used as a commodity or for people think I was ignorant in my decision. You (or your dad?) call them well meaning kids who had no idea what they signed up for. This is quite offensive to the majority of us who know exactly what we did when we signed up. I think some people thought it was a free handout for some education cash or just another job. But Most of us do it because we owe those who came before us for our freedoms and we want to preserve it for our children as well. For the majority of us who know why we are here, fighting side by side with Afghani’s and Iraqi’s who are willing to die because they know what it was like to live the way it was before and they would die so that their families and children don’t have to experience that again.
We don’t remember what that is like. We can contemplate the metaphysical universe; disagree with each other without facing death and the raping of our daughters or wives before our very eyes. Those who had the ability to do those things have lost that power, and they want it back. I am glad that those people are no longer dominating (I’m not saying you all aren’t glad). But I’m not surprised they are still fighting to get what they had back! The biggest problem with the current debate in the U.S. is the microwave mindset. Do we really think that the people who have had violent control over everyone else for so long would just hand it over in and instant? They know our society is not known for its patience. They will fight for generations while we think that success can only be measured by time.
You could argue that there was a better way to end the reign of violence and atrocity that existed before our arrival. I can think of a few. Doing nothing was not an option, and it was quite evident that Clinton’s approach of steady presence of troops and firing of missiles into Baghdad to show them he meant business did not work either but only served to make things work without any measurable success. There are other options of course. But Bush had to make a choice from the state of the world as is when it was handed to him, and we must do the same. The war exists. The people of Afghanistan and Iraq are fighting side by side with troops from all over the world to ensure they don’t have to live under the violence they experienced previously. How can we love our neighbors in the state of the world we are now in? With violent people trying to regain their power, it is to teach those who want to live and let live to protect themselves and to restrain those who would impose violent control over them.

You mentioned people:
“termed by newscasters as “terrorists” in the early years of the war, or as “insurgents”, the dehumanizing catch-all label used ever since to describe Iraqi and Afghan victims from 6 to 60.”

While language and rhetoric is powerful, and can be used to shape opinions and mask extra insight into situations, I really don’t see your point here in this context. Claiming the word insurgents is dehumanizing is kind of silly. Dehumanization is a horrible tactical tool used by lots of people throughout history and now. Rwanda used it against each other, Hitler used it, it occurs in African nations today on a large scale, it occurs in much of the world to the detriment of women, it occurred in the south in the United States for a long time, and it occurs right now by refusing to use the word baby to describe a living being with a completely separate from her parents and completely human DNA structure. Lets make it more clear. Those human beings, Those people who have a mother and father, who rape other people to get back at those who love them. Those humans who kill women for being raped. Those human beings who decide that everyone must follow the rules they set forth or face death. Those persons whom God created in his own image, who chose to saw a person’s head off rather than give up their power. Those people who teach children as soon as they can speak to hate, and who strap bombs to their six year old children to blow up random people. Those types of people need to be stopped. Why don’t you think of another word to describe them and get back to me. I know that there are people who do horrible things on both sides of this war. But you know what, we send the people to jail when they go outside of the narrow limits of attempting to stop only those who are violent against us. We criticize their action and rightly so. But we cannot take a position that because we are imperfect, that others who do evil things must be let alone to continue their atrocities. There is no conflict between the commands that we should not judge others lest we be judged and the command that we defend those who cannot defend themselves. They are in perfect harmony with loving our neighbors as Christ has loved us.

I think the comments regarding those who support the war being spoon fed from Fox or wherever contribute nothing to the debate. Media is the scapegoat of every side and of every issue. You said your dad “grew up in the era of newscasters like Walter Cronkhite. It’s understandable that he expected the news on TV to be actual news, not White House/Pentagon political manipulation.” I think I started to question your seriousness here for a second. But please don’t take that as an insult. I do believe you are serious when you wrote the rest of the article. In Russia you have state run news, in the US you have News influenced by yes the administrations, and also the academic ivory tower, the media and the newscasters own beliefs etc. Today we have blogs, internet, tons of news stations and papers from every persuasion. Back than we had 3. Russia had 1. It’s true that it certainly makes it harder to wade through information today. But the values of free speech and keeping people honest favors many outlets. I believe that the ability to obtain truth is increased the further our avenues of searching for it are opened. Those who want Fox off the air are not different than those who want the New York Times or CBS to go under. Same people, wanting to get rid of a source for the same reason: they disagree with the conclusions they draw and the methods they draw them. Both CBS, FOX, ABC, MSNBC, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal all have articles and programs that make me cringe every once in a while. They don’t hide their agenda’s very well. The more paternalistic side of all of us in these debates probably wants to limit the number of people who are persuaded by bad reasons to come down one way or another on a issue we’ve already made a decision on. But the best way to do that is intellectually honest dialogue rather than some of the tactics used in your article and the comments that followed.
I think what you did, like pointing out how all the images are of burning streets and that the middle eastern clothes we see seems to emphasize the otherness of the people in these countries, is a good thing to point out. Emphasizing that we are all human is essential. A picture of difference can be used to support or attack the war. A picture of a burning car can be used to gather support for hatred of an enemy or for hatred of the United States. It’s a messed up game. The important thing to continue to do is to point out the human interests involved. Looking different should not be used to increase hate for the “other”. We need to see each other as humans. The problem is that you didn’t mention the enemy’s failure to do the same. It didn’t mention the sawing off of heads and the atrocities conducted against the general population of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Or what about the events on 9/11? Somehow missing from your memory about your dad’s concerns. What is your purpose and agenda in mentioning one and not the other? Is it justified when they do it because they are an “other” to us? Is it justified because they couldn’t defeat us using conventional tactics? Should they fight as we do? Should they fight at all? Are we just more advanced than them? Or is freedom only for the westerners? You know the good thing about this war is that before it became in our interest to protect ourselves from these violent people, we didn’t really have to worry about what was going on to the general population of those countries because they were just the “other”. This war, despite the fact that it our own interest was a catalyst for it, caused us to confront the “other.” Before, the “other” was held in oppression and violence but it wasn’t on our mind. Today it is. We need to continually confront the other and come to them in the name of Love. Part of that is to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
Not only that, but the people who hated us need confronted too. They don’t have a right because of their status as “other” to commit violence against other human beings. The person who made a comment about “How fashist is to impose your own way of democracy using state terrorism” is interesting. I have a question for her or him. Where did you get your definition of the word fascist? Does another language and another color or culture mean that a few people should be allowed to dictate violence upon all who disagree? How Eurocentric is it to think that westerners are the only ones who should have a choice in how to live and what to wear and what to believe? Why is state infringement of borders more offensive than one human infringing upon the life of a bunch of other humans? We need compassion and we need to do all we can to prevent the destruction of human life, innocent and non-innocent. But political opportunism and complacently allowing the people who want to regain their violent stronghold over the people in other nations is not helping humanity in any way. You know, our lives could be easier if we didn’t have to think about the evils that occur in the rest of the world. We could just focus on ourselves and try to increase the pleasure meter in the places that we can see. It’s a lot easier to apologize for failing to stop the Rwandan genocide than it would have been to try to do something about it. Are you tired of this war? Does it hurt that you have to think about people that lost loved ones? Good. I hope we can start using that pain to think of ideas to stop it in these two countries, in our own countries, and in the future.

Comment by summatheologiae — June 19, 2006 @ 9:10 pm

White Guilt and the Western Past May 3, 2006

Posted by June in Around the World, Executive Branch, Liberalism, Philosophy, Politics, Racism, War on Terror.
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White Guilt and the Western Past
Why is America so delicate with the enemy?

BY SHELBY STEELE
Tuesday, May 2, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

There is something rather odd in the way America has come to fight its wars since World War II.

For one thing, it is now unimaginable that we would use anything approaching the full measure of our military power (the nuclear option aside) in the wars we fight. And this seems only reasonable given the relative weakness of our Third World enemies in Vietnam and in the Middle East. But the fact is that we lost in Vietnam, and today, despite our vast power, we are only slogging along–if admirably–in Iraq against a hit-and-run insurgency that cannot stop us even as we seem unable to stop it. Yet no one–including, very likely, the insurgents themselves–believes that America lacks the raw power to defeat this insurgency if it wants to. So clearly it is America that determines the scale of this war. It is America, in fact, that fights so as to make a little room for an insurgency.

Certainly since Vietnam, America has increasingly practiced a policy of minimalism and restraint in war. And now this unacknowledged policy, which always makes a space for the enemy, has us in another long and rather passionless war against a weak enemy.

Why this new minimalism in war?

It began, I believe, in a late-20th-century event that transformed the world more profoundly than the collapse of communism: the world-wide collapse of white supremacy as a source of moral authority, political legitimacy and even sovereignty. This idea had organized the entire world, divided up its resources, imposed the nation-state system across the globe, and delivered the majority of the world’s population into servitude and oppression. After World War II, revolutions across the globe, from India to Algeria and from Indonesia to the American civil rights revolution, defeated the authority inherent in white supremacy, if not the idea itself. And this defeat exacted a price: the West was left stigmatized by its sins. Today, the white West–like Germany after the Nazi defeat–lives in a kind of secular penitence in which the slightest echo of past sins brings down withering condemnation. There is now a cloud over white skin where there once was unquestioned authority.

I call this white guilt not because it is a guilt of conscience but because people stigmatized with moral crimes–here racism and imperialism–lack moral authority and so act guiltily whether they feel guilt or not.

They struggle, above all else, to dissociate themselves from the past sins they are stigmatized with. When they behave in ways that invoke the memory of those sins, they must labor to prove that they have not relapsed into their group’s former sinfulness. So when America–the greatest embodiment of Western power–goes to war in Third World Iraq, it must also labor to dissociate that action from the great Western sin of imperialism. Thus, in Iraq we are in two wars, one against an insurgency and another against the past–two fronts, two victories to win, one military, the other a victory of dissociation.

The collapse of white supremacy–and the resulting white guilt–introduced a new mechanism of power into the world: stigmatization with the evil of the Western past. And this stigmatization is power because it affects the terms of legitimacy for Western nations and for their actions in the world. In Iraq, America is fighting as much for the legitimacy of its war effort as for victory in war. In fact, legitimacy may be the more important goal. If a military victory makes us look like an imperialist nation bent on occupying and raping the resources of a poor brown nation, then victory would mean less because it would have no legitimacy. Europe would scorn. Conversely, if America suffered a military loss in Iraq but in so doing dispelled the imperialist stigma, the loss would be seen as a necessary sacrifice made to restore our nation’s legitimacy. Europe’s halls of internationalism would suddenly open to us.

Because dissociation from the racist and imperialist stigma is so tied to legitimacy in this age of white guilt, America’s act of going to war can have legitimacy only if it seems to be an act of social work–something that uplifts and transforms the poor brown nation (thus dissociating us from the white exploitations of old). So our war effort in Iraq is shrouded in a new language of social work in which democracy is cast as an instrument of social transformation bringing new institutions, new relations between men and women, new ideas of individual autonomy, new and more open forms of education, new ways of overcoming poverty–war as the Great Society.

This does not mean that President Bush is insincere in his desire to bring democracy to Iraq, nor is it to say that democracy won’t ultimately be socially transformative in Iraq. It’s just that today the United States cannot go to war in the Third World simply to defeat a dangerous enemy.

White guilt makes our Third World enemies into colored victims, people whose problems–even the tyrannies they live under–were created by the historical disruptions and injustices of the white West. We must “understand” and pity our enemy even as we fight him. And, though Islamic extremism is one of the most pernicious forms of evil opportunism that has ever existed, we have felt compelled to fight it with an almost managerial minimalism that shows us to be beyond the passions of war–and thus well dissociated from the avariciousness of the white supremacist past.

Anti-Americanism, whether in Europe or on the American left, works by the mechanism of white guilt. It stigmatizes America with all the imperialistic and racist ugliness of the white Western past so that America becomes a kind of straw man, a construct of Western sin. (The Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prisons were the focus of such stigmatization campaigns.) Once the stigma is in place, one need only be anti-American in order to be “good,” in order to have an automatic moral legitimacy and power in relation to America. (People as seemingly disparate as President Jacques Chirac and the Rev. Al Sharpton are devoted pursuers of the moral high ground to be had in anti-Americanism.) This formula is the most dependable source of power for today’s international left. Virtue and power by mere anti-Americanism. And it is all the more appealing since, unlike real virtues, it requires no sacrifice or effort–only outrage at every slight echo of the imperialist past.

Today words like “power” and “victory” are so stigmatized with Western sin that, in many quarters, it is politically incorrect even to utter them. For the West, “might” can never be right. And victory, when won by the West against a Third World enemy, is always oppression. But, in reality, military victory is also the victory of one idea and the defeat of another. Only American victory in Iraq defeats the idea of Islamic extremism. But in today’s atmosphere of Western contrition, it is impolitic to say so.

America and the broader West are now going through a rather tender era, a time when Western societies have very little defense against the moral accusations that come from their own left wings and from those vast stretches of nonwhite humanity that were once so disregarded.

Europeans are utterly confounded by the swelling Muslim populations in their midst. America has run from its own mounting immigration problem for decades, and even today, after finally taking up the issue, our government seems entirely flummoxed. White guilt is a vacuum of moral authority visited on the present by the shames of the past. In the abstract it seems a slight thing, almost irrelevant, an unconvincing proposition. Yet a society as enormously powerful as America lacks the authority to ask its most brilliant, wealthy and superbly educated minority students to compete freely for college admission with poor whites who lack all these things. Just can’t do it.

Whether the problem is race relations, education, immigration or war, white guilt imposes so much minimalism and restraint that our worst problems tend to linger and deepen. Our leaders work within a double bind. If they do what is truly necessary to solve a problem–win a war, fix immigration–they lose legitimacy.

To maintain their legitimacy, they practice the minimalism that makes problems linger. What but minimalism is left when you are running from stigmatization as a “unilateralist cowboy”? And where is the will to truly regulate the southern border when those who ask for this are slimed as bigots? This is how white guilt defines what is possible in America. You go at a problem until you meet stigmatization, then you retreat into minimalism.

Possibly white guilt’s worst effect is that it does not permit whites–and nonwhites–to appreciate something extraordinary: the fact that whites in America, and even elsewhere in the West, have achieved a truly remarkable moral transformation. One is forbidden to speak thus, but it is simply true. There are no serious advocates of white supremacy in America today, because whites see this idea as morally repugnant. If there is still the odd white bigot out there surviving past his time, there are millions of whites who only feel goodwill toward minorities.

This is a fact that must be integrated into our public life–absorbed as new history–so that America can once again feel the moral authority to seriously tackle its most profound problems. Then, if we decide to go to war, it can be with enough ferocity to win.

Mr. Steele, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, is author, most recently, of “White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era,” published this week by HarperCollins.

Gas Prices April 23, 2006

Posted by June in Around the World, Artist Thinker Articles, Bureaucracy, Communism, Liberalism, Politics, Socialism.
2 comments

I hear people griping about the price of gas these days. True, the price is high; but that's what happens when hurricanes shut down oil refineries, when environmentalists require specific blends of gas, when inflation goes up, when OPEC raises the price of crude oil, when supply goes down and demand (such as the increase for demand in China and India) goes up, etc.

There's all this talk about windfall profits and how we should steal from oil companies to satisfy our own envy and greed. "But the oil companies deserve it! They purposely raise the price of gas because they know we need it!" is the cry. Well, where was that kind of talk only a few years ago when my father was worrying about whether or not he would have a job the next day, when the price of gas dropped to such low levels that companies could no longer keep paying their workers and began laying people off by the thousands and companies were shutting down one after another? Why didn't the evil oil companies or that one single person who controls the price of gas just simply raise the prices? Are they stupid or something? Did they suddenly get a philanthropic stirring in their hearts?
See how stupid that sounds? Supply and demand — that's the biggest factor in the current jump in price. If everyone collectively stops using so much fuel, stops going on those extra drives, carpools, walks when possible, etc. the price will fall back down.

One thing we could do to help lower the cost of oil even on average years when supply hasn't been cut down by a shortage of oil refineries or that special mandatory blend of gas is replacing the other blend and when the increase in demand caused by summer driving sprees isn't in effect is the one thing that these very same people who cry out about the prices refuse to allow, which is to allow for drilling in Alaska. Allowing American companies to get oil from our own country would lessen our dependence on foreign oil, most notably OPEC oil, which all too often comes from countries that have it in for the US. This would allow American companies to have access to cheaper crude oil, which will in turn force OPEC to lower its prices to compete and maintain their market.

"What about alternative fuels?" You might ask. Well, if such a thing exists or is even on the horizon, then why aren't you buying the cars that will allow for those fuels? If that's really an alternative right now or even in the near future, then it's the consumers' fault for not moving to those fuels, not the oil companies'. Capitalism accommodates the consumer. If there's a demand and if it's conceivable, you can bet it will be there. If you really want alternative fuels, start demanding it and start buying it. Don't start blaming other people when you, inevitably, don't because those new cars and fuels are more expensive, as I've been hearing about the alternative fuels that are being tested right now such as ethanol.

Oil is used for things other than gas, too. I definitely haven't heard of an alternative for those products. So oil will be around for a very long time, even if a viable alternative fuel shows up.

One thing that would really help would, probably, be if someone can find a cheaper way to make oil in an artificial manner. I've heard of these machines that allow for the synthesis of oil from shale; but I heard that it ends up being more expensive than bringing it up from the ground. I have a hard time understanding that since the things I've heard my dad in the past talk about how he gets oil from the ground are extremely complicated and expensive. (He once had to run off to deal with an oil rig that had dropped a 3 million dollar piece into the ocean. They never did recover it… That was only one piece of one oil rig.) These machines must be hard to operate and expensive to make.

Still, in the end, it is the consumer, OPEC, inflation, and these environmental regulations that determine the price, not oil companies. If you want a lower price, the immediate solution is to conserve your gas. Another thing that can be done is to get rid of environmental regulations. We can also decrease dependence on foreign oil by drilling in Alaska or more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico as Mexico is doing. The final uncertain alternative is to discover new fuels.

June

The End Is Not Nigh? February 14, 2006

Posted by June in Around the World, Ecology, News, Politics, Science.
1 comment so far

The End Is Not Nigh?

By Hans H.J. Labohm : BIO | 10 Feb 2006

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told a parliamentary committee earlier this month that the "world has seven years to take vital decisions and implement measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions or it could be too late… If we don't get the right agreement internationally for the period after which the Kyoto protocol will expire – that's in 2012 — I think we are in serious trouble." Asked if the world had seven years to implement measures on climate change before the problem reached a "tipping point," Blair answered: "Yes."

This is the most recent and perhaps most dramatic in a long series statements by prominent politicians about the putative threat of man-made global warming. On what did Tony Blair base his alarming view? New scientific insights? Or on an unshakable secular faith, which seems to fill the vacuum left by the demise of traditional religion? I surmise the latter. Because in the field of science there seems to be some shift towards a more sober look at the climate issue, witness the numerous studies which appear in peer-reviewed journals, which are either explicitly critical of, or implicitly inconsistent with the man-made global warming hypothesis.

The ongoing discussion on the "hockey stick" graph — a reconstruction of temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere between the years 1000 and 2000 — offers a case in point. This debate entered a new phase when Steve McIntyre, one of the foremost hockey-stick critics, who had long been ignored, if not ostracized, by the global warming community, was officially invited by the National Research Council of The National Academies of the United States to participate in a special committee. This committee was requested to summarize the current scientific information on the temperature record over the past two millennia, describe the proxy records that have been used to reconstruct pre-instrumental climatic conditions, assess the methods employed to combine multiple proxy data over large spatial scales, evaluate the overall accuracy and precision of such reconstructions, and explain how central the debate over the paleoclimate temperature record is to the state of scientific knowledge on global climate change. It was exactly the mandate which Steve McIntyre had been advocating all along.

Politicians regard the studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the ultimate climate bible. Unfortunately, they do not read the comprehensive reports which form the basis of the whole exercise. They only read — if at all — the alarmist passages in the "Summary for Policy-maker", which have been skewed through an elaborate and sophisticated process of spin-doctoring. Details of this practice have recently been revealed by the French climatologist Marcel Leroux in his book, Global Warming – Myth or Reality? The Erring Ways of Climatology.

Disapproving these practices, various renowned scientists have distanced themselves from the IPCC. In the US, Chris Landsea, a hurricane expert, is one example. In the Netherlands, Henk Tennekes, former director of the research department of the Royal Meteorological Institute, and Hans Oerlemans, glaciologist and laureate of the prestigious Spinoza Award, have done the same.

Political leaders assume that climate science is sufficiently advanced to legitimize all kinds of draconian measures which have a profound impact on our society and economy — measures which, moreover, encroach upon the liberty of the individual citizen. But if we take a closer look, this appears not to be the case. Contrary what is often argued, there is no consensus among scientists on the man-made global warming hypothesis.

Ironically, just as global warming scare-mongering reaches new heights, the global cooling hypothesis is making a come back. It should be recalled that the frightening images of imminent global warming disaster are of fairly recent vintage. After all, in the 1960s and 1970s various prominent climatologists held the view that it was not global warming that formed a mortal threat to humanity but global cooling.

Recently the astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov of the Pulkovo Astronomic Observatory in St. Petersburg declared that the Earth will experience a "mini Ice Age" in the middle of this century, caused by low solar activity. Temperatures will begin falling six or seven years from now, when global warming caused by increased solar activity in the 20th century reaches its peak. The coldest period will occur 15 to 20 years after a major solar output decline between 2035 and 2045, Abdusamatov said. This view is shared by the Belgian astronomer, Dirk Callebaut, who expects a "grand minimum" in the middle of this century, just like the Maunder Minimum (1650-1700), a period during which the Thames, the Seine and the Dutch canals were frozen in winter.

If these astronomers are right, the hundreds of billions of dollars the world will spend every year on the fight against global warming will have gone down the drain. But, of course, we are not sure of imminent global cooling. On the other hand, we are not sure whether there will be catastrophic global warming either.

What to do in the face of this uncertainty? The earlier-mentioned climatologist, Henk Tennekes, recently argued in an interview in the most prominent Dutch weekly, Elsevier: "We only understand 10 percent of the climate issue. That is not enough to wreck the world economy with Kyoto-like measures."

Amen.

Hans Labohm, co-author of Man-Made Global Warming: Unravelling a Dogma, recently became an expert reviewer for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Paradoxes of a Death Penalty Stance January 16, 2006

Posted by June in Around the World, Death Penalty, News, Philosophy, Politics.
1 comment so far

The Paradoxes of a Death Penalty Stance

By Charles Lane

Saturday, June 4, 2005; Page A17

In the debate between Europe and the United States over the death penalty, no country is more vocal than Germany. German media regularly decry executions in Texas. A recent U.S. Supreme Court case concerning the rights, under international law, of foreign defendants in capital cases grew in part out of a German lawsuit before the World Court on behalf of two German citizens on death row in Arizona. (The Supreme Court dismissed the case on May 23 for technical reasons.) German objections to capital punishment slowed Berlin's cooperation with the U.S. prosecution of alleged al Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui, who faces the possibility of the death penalty — though the two countries eventually worked out an agreement.

Contrasting their nation's policy with that of the Americans, Germans point proudly to Article 102 of their Basic Law, adopted in 1949. It reads, simply: "The death penalty is abolished." They often say that this 56-year-old provision shows how thoroughly the postwar Federal Republic has learned — and applied — the lessons of Nazi state-sponsored killing. (Communist East Germany kept the death penalty until 1987.)

But the actual history of the German death penalty ban casts this claim in a different light. Article 102 was in fact the brainchild of a right-wing politician who sympathized with convicted Nazi war criminals — and sought to prevent their execution by British and American occupation authorities. Far from intending to repudiate the barbarism of Hitler, the author of Article 102 wanted to make a statement about the supposed excesses of Allied victors' justice.

The International War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg sentenced 11 top Nazis to death, all of whom were hanged in November 1946 except for Hermann Goering, who committed suicide. The Western Allies hanged or shot dozens of lesser-known war criminals — including 284 at a U.S. Army prison in Landsberg between November 1945 and June 1951. Though SS men who had supervised death camps and massacred Jews were among the condemned, many Germans bristled at victors' justice. "The longer the executions went on," reports a town history on the Landsberg Civic Association's Web site, "the louder became the voices demanding an end to them. There was a broad political alliance in favor of clemency efforts."

Meanwhile, there was little opposition in West Germany to capital punishment for ordinary criminals. A poll by the Allensbach Institute in February 1949 showed that 77 percent of West Germany's population favored it. The largest left-wing party, the Social Democrats, had a long anti-death-penalty tradition, but, given the political climate, it did not campaign on it.

Germans began the formal process of writing the new Basic Law in August 1948. Initial drafts submitted to a 65-member Parliamentary Council contemplated retention of capital punishment. It was not until a meeting of a special subcommittee on Dec. 6 that a single delegate, Hans-Christoph Seebohm, surprised everyone by proposing to get rid of the death penalty. Seebohm, who ran various industrial enterprises under the Nazis, led the tiny, far-right German Party — which also advocated using "German Reich" instead of "Federal Republic."

Addressing the council, Seebohm equated executions "in the period before 1945 and in the period since 1945." As British historian Richard J. Evans notes in "Rituals of Retribution: Capital Punishment in Germany, 1600-1987," the rightist politician was "thinking above all of the execution of war criminals, to which he and his party were bitterly opposed. Preventing Nazi war criminals from being sentenced to death would certainly help the German Party in its search for voters on the far right."

Both Social Democrats and Christian Democrats initially rejected the Seebohm initiative but gradually began to see its advantages. To the Social Democrats, it offered right-wing political cover for an idea they dared not pursue on their own. And for more than half of the Christian Democrat delegates, Evans reports, the political advantages of trying to shield Nazi war criminals trumped their belief in the death penalty for ordinary murder cases. Social Democratic arguments about turning the page on Nazism, belatedly made, were not decisive. Rather, writes Evans, "only the hope of being able to save Nazi criminals from the gallows . . . persuaded conservative deputies from the German Party and the Christian Democrats to cast their votes in favor of abolition in sufficient numbers to secure its anchorage in the Basic Law. Had it merely been the question of common homicide that was at issue, the vote would never have been passed."

After the Basic Law went into effect on May 24, 1949, Germans bombarded U.S. High Commissioner John J. McCloy with pleas for clemency based on Article 102. Among those joining what Vanderbilt University historian Thomas A. Schwartz calls "this intense and emotional campaign" were both Christian Democratic Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Social Democratic leader Kurt Schumacher. In a Jan. 31, 1951, final report on U.S.-held war criminals, McCloy said he was not bound by the provision, but he still commuted the death sentences of 10 of the last 15 condemned war criminals in Landsberg. The final hanging took place on June 7, 1951.

The death penalty for common murderers, as opposed to war criminals, remained popular in West Germany. Polls showed 71 percent in favor as late as 1960. Christian Democrats tried repeatedly to reinstate it, but failed due to lack of support from the left. (The Basic Law could be changed only by a two-thirds vote of parliament.) Later, amid more open discussion of Nazism and the Holocaust, opposition to the death penalty did become truly popular — and Article 102 acquired its contemporary symbolism.

When U.S. troops captured Saddam Hussein in December 2003, Germany's Social Democratic chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, had wide backing in declaring: "I am against the death penalty, and that goes for everyone — even a dictator, like Saddam Hussein, who treated other people in the cruelest way." Schroeder was remaining true to his society's postwar traditions — truer, perhaps, than he realized.

The writer covers the U.S. Supreme Court for The Post.