UN papers shredded

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Kofi Annan is facing calls to resign after a report into his son's links with a company embroiled in the UN's oil-for-food scandal revealed that documents held in the Secretary-General's office were ordered destroyed the day after the Security Council approved an official inquiry.
Isn't this how Enron and Arther Andersen started on downhill trip to oblivion.

The shredding of documents covering the crucial period from 1997 to 1999 -- during which the Swiss company that employed Kojo Annan as a consultant was awarded a lucrative UN contract in Iraq -- was ordered by Kofi Annan's former chief of staff Iqbal Riza last April and continued until December 7. Ten days before the shredding order, Mr Riza had sent the heads of nine UN-related agencies a directive to "take all necessary steps to collect, preserve and secure all files, records and documents ... relating to the oil-for-food program". Mr Riza claimed duplicates of the destroyed documents were held elsewhere.
Future statement from Mr. Riza: Due to a once-in-every-10000-years, burst of solar radiation resulting in a magnetic field disparity on the distant Pegasus galaxy, 25 gazillion billion light years away from Earth, those secure, soft copy, encrypted, duplicates were unfortunately erased. An inquiry and high level meeting of the Security Council will be held.

Paul Volcker, the former US Federal Reserve chairman who led the inquiry, said of the shredding: "Whether that material contained any evidence that we did not otherwise get from UN files more generally is, of course, not known." The new revelations place renewed pressure on Mr Annan, despite Mr Volcker's finding that he did not interfere with a 1998 tender process that resulted in Cotecna Inspections winning a $US10million ($13million) oil-for-food contract to verify shipments of goods into Iraq.
Leave now Kofi, while you still have some dignity.

Mr Annan claimed the findings as a personal victory, telling a packed UN press conference: "After so many distressing and untrue allegations against me, this exoneration by the independent inquiry comes as a great relief."
The truth will hunt you Kofi, you cannot hide.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the US would "continue to support the Secretary-General in his work at the UN".
That's diplomatic talk for, we'll support him as his bags are packed and provide him with an escort out the door.

Asked if the UN would be better off if he resigned, Mr Annan said: "Hell, no. I've got lots of work to do and I'm going to go ahead and do it."
There's the ongoing democratic farce in Zimbabwe, we must take steps to avoid it at all costs. Then there's Sudan, we must send more monitors to document the suffering and genocide, besides they have oil and a need for food, opportunity is knocking.
We can't forget Iraq can we, must keep nagging the US, complain, whine, criticise, call for solidarity and find fault while Sam finishes the job.

Saddam Hussein must receive a fair trial and pressure must be applied to the US Army to issue all US soldiers with field manuals on the Geneva Conventions,
to carry on their person at all times even if ammo or rations have to be left behind (emphasis to be placed on NOT using the manual to wipe your ass). We also need to convene a Security Council delegation to debate and hopefully formulate a clear 300 page definition of Terrorism, to be signed and endorsed by all member states no later than 2099.

More from The Australian

The Glory Days are Over

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Tom Paine over at Silent Running has an excellent piece on the Left’s loss of reason. It’s a great article, providing such gems as:
The Left is fixated on its glorious past so much because I think in some deep part of its psyche it realises it's already had its best days. They've seen the future, and they're not in it. Hell, they're barely here in the present. Tony Blair is still the British Prime Minister, John Howard keeps winning elections in Australia, W. Chimpy Hitlerowitz has now won, er I mean stolen, two US elections and he invaded Afghanistan and Iraq! Israel still exists! Is there anything the Left can't fail at?

And what is the Left doing today? Allying itself with radical Islam, out of a misguided belief that Muslims are victims of western imperialism? Smooth move guys - choose the one genuinely dangerous group and declare them your best buds. They may be opposed to womens’ rights, they may be against the existence of gays and Jews, they may want to ban music, they might want to eradicate all religions other than their own interpretation of Islam, they might believe in murdering anyone not themselves, in short, they may be sons of bitches, but they're opposed to the United States, so that makes them our sons of bitches.

The Left achieved its victory, and now has nothing left to fight for, so it is only capable of fighting against something. It fights the West, its own host society, for the sin of no longer needing them. If the Left won't inherit the West, then no one shall. Let the Islamofascists destroy it all. Death to life!
Go have a read. It’s well worth it.

Well Did You or Didn't You?

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Most Australians will recall the most recent ex-defence official Rod Barton’s outing, regarding the poor treatment (interrogation/torture) of Iraqi prisoners, and the subsequent debate concerning the difference between an ‘interrogation’ and an ‘interview’. And what a mindlessly stupid debate it was too.

But guess what - now we have another statement, another claim. A new one. A contradictory one. . .

Iraqis not abused – official

IRAQI prisoners accused of making chemical weapons were given mobile phones and fresh fruit for lunch, a former defence official said yesterday.
What - another outing, from a different defence official?

Ahh - no. Hold onto your hats, people. It’s the same guy!
Weapons intelligence expert Rod Barton claimed just last month that prisoners at Camp Cropper, on the outskirts of Baghdad, were routinely interrogated and bashed into giving answers. But yesterday Mr Barton told a Senate committee he had witnessed no such interrogations first-hand and only conducted one interview during his time at Camp Cropper.
So what’s it going to be, Rod? Were they treated badly (with the clear implication that you had witnessed and/or had first-hand knowledge of acts tantamount to torture)?

Or weren’t they?
He said the man he interviewed was an "old friend" who was a general and a minister in Saddam Hussein's regime.

Mr Barton said yesterday he believed most of the interviews with prisoners were "cordial", but he objected to their small cells and the withdrawal of privileges such as mobile phones and fresh fruit if they did not comply.

He said prisoners received "small luxuries" such as reading and writing materials and fruit "instead of a military ration".

Just last month, Mr Barton told Four Corners that he had witnessed abuse at Camp Cropper and he and other Australian officials were called on to interrogate prisoners.
The withdrawal of Mobile phones and fresh fruit. Yep - mostly certainly the standard set of evil coercive tactics you’ll find in any respectable interrogation handbook. Maybe they also threatened to withdraw the Halal sheep’s cods ration? This is almost beyond belief! For crying out loud, this man was an Australian weapons intelligence expert?
"I had certain indications and certain evidence that this had occurred. . .
And we can find that precisely where, Rod? Was there ‘certain evidence’ or wasn’t there? Where is it? What’s it going to be?
. . .and I felt strongly enough about it to make a recommendation not only to mention this about the abuse, but to make a recommendation that we shouldn't -- 'we' meaning Australia -- should not be involved in the interview or interrogation of any of these prisoners at Cropper," he told Four Corners.
What ‘interrogation’, Rod? You told the Senate committee you 'had witnessed no such interrogations'! What the hell are you talking about?

Backtracking on the claims he made to the program last month, Mr Barton said yesterday: "I never made the statement that the prisoners were mistreated as such."


Actually, I think you did, Rod.

When pressed by Liberal Senator David Johnston, Mr Barton admitted his claim of abuse was based on second-hand information and two photographs of prisoners he believed had been punched in the face.

Mr Barton said he was satisfied no abuse had occurred at Camp Cropper while he was there, but suspected prisoners were abused at a holding facility known as Purgatory.

He said he believed Purgatory was a hangar somewhere on Camp Cropper's outskirts, but conceded he had neither been there nor knew its exact location.

In other words, Rod, you don’t know a damned thing and you never did. But that didn’t stop you flinging the most appalling slander, implying people were being tortured, and that you knew all about it. The fact that you knew nothing didn’t stop you trampling our nation’s reputation in the mud, not to mention that of one of our nation’s closest allies.

This is becoming a serious problem, not to mention being a total disgrace. Yet again we have a disgruntled ex-official, spinning the usual vivid tales of evildoing (aimed at the current government, of course), and yet again it’s turned out to be a load of unsupportable bollocks.

I don’t think this is about holding a government to account; about upholding rights; about outing acts of supreme wrong. It’s very simply all about telling lies. . .

What's Eating You?

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Probably crocodiles, if you don't vote for the Hitler of Harare. Bob Mugabe shows the socialist view of democratic choice vividly in his latest burst of gibberish:-

"All those who will vote for the MDC are traitors," Mugabe said Monday at a rally for the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front in Mutoko, 90 miles northeast of Harare.


In a separate speech on Tuesday, he also rejected the possibility of sharing government with the opposition, saying an MDC win would "not be tolerated." He spoke to about 15,000 party supporters at a rally in Bindura, 55 miles north of Harare.


Sounds similar to the gracious acceptance of electoral defeat by the left in Australia and the US- maybe if Crazy Bob loses, he can get pre-selection for the ALP or Greens here.

Mugabe is well and truly past his use-by date, and it's about time he went. Even if this does happen I don't hold out great hope for the future performance of the MDC- there's always a lot of blather about change, ending corruption and cronyism and bringing in economic reforms, but usually within months it's back to business as usual, with whatever tribal group is dominant in the ruling party running the show as a personal fiefdom.

Can anyone name an African state that is only as corrupt, draconian, poorly run and bankrupt as Brackistan?

Buggered if I can think of one.

(Cross-posted at the Daily Diatribe).

500 more agents for border

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This is partially why I haven't been so keen to jump on the anti Bush wagon regarding border security.

I just wasn't ready to count the President out yet and hopefully this is only the beginning of a tougher stance towards illegal immigration.

azcentral.com
WASHINGTON - The Homeland Security Department will assign more than 500 additional patrol agents to the porous Arizona border, saying they will help keep potential terrorists and undocumented immigrants from entering the country, The Associated Press has learned.

The border buildup was to be announced Wednesday - two days before civilian volunteers with the so-called Minuteman Project begin a monthlong Arizona patrol against immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico line.

About 155 agents will be immediately sent to Arizona, according to a department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the buildup was not yet announced. Another 350 agents - all new trainees - will be permanently assigned to the Arizona border by Sept. 30.

Until they are in place, an additional 200 agents will be temporarily stationed in Arizona during the high immigration season this spring and summer, the official said.



This good news aside there is still a great deal of work required to make our borders as safe as possible.

One thing I do disagree with the President on is his labeling the Minuteman Project volunteers as vigilantes.

Armed or not I see them as an extension of a neighborhood watch or a milita, which is essential in my opinion to protecting our national sovereignty.

"A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."
— Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Is Schapelle Corby a Victim?

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When Schapelle Corby was first arrested for smuggling 4.1kg of marijuana into Bali in her unlocked boogie board bag, my first thought was, ‘You idiot’. But that thought only lasted about a second. Because my second thought was, ‘Hang on – something about this just doesn’t make sense.’

I’m not particularly knowledgeable when it comes to things like smuggling drugs, but it occurred to me as being odd that, given the potential risks (death), someone would be smuggling a drug like marijuana - one that’s easily grown and is as common as mud - into Bali - into Asia - into Drug Central.

From that point on, I started to have a very uncomfortable feeling: that Schapelle Corby might actually be telling the truth. My only problem was, how did four odd kilos of hooch just magically appear in her luggage. . .

That's why, when John Ford suddenly cropped up with what sounded like an utterly incredible story – well, for the first time, things started making sense:
Corby a victim of cowards: prisoner

VICTORIAN remand prisoner John Patrick Ford has asserted that Schapelle Corby was "a victim of domestic drug trafficking run by petty criminals and cowards".

He told a Bali court yesterday some people in the drug world thought it was a joke that she was "going to get done for it". In two hours of evidence at Ms Corby's Bali trial, the 40-year-old said he had heard two other prisoners, whom he named only as Terry and Paul, talking about drug trafficking and about how the drug's owner had lost some more marijuana en route from Brisbane to Sydney.

. . .

After two hours, Mr Ford was asked if he had anything to add, and he launched into a spirited defence of Ms Corby.

"All I can say to the court (is) there is no way on God's earth Ms Corby is a drug trafficker," he said. "I know better than that. I think the court can see that as well. My belief in that is so strong I will put my personal safety at risk, and I am not asking anything in return. I just want to see justice done."

Next week prosecutors will outline what sentence they say Ms Corby should receive if she is convicted.
I have a growing feeling that a horrific tragedy may be unfolding here; that this woman is the unwitting victim she is claiming to be; that things played out very much as Ford is saying they did.

What bothers me is that the Indonesians appear not to be asking the same questions. Are they really hell bent on clobbering what they sincerely believe to be a drug courier? Or are they still paying us (and any Australian they can get their hands on, as the recent ‘gun-running’ nonsense over Christopher Packer tends to suggest) out over Timor? I guess only time, and her eventual sentence, will tell.

Aussies rank US behind China

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Yes it's another one of those polls that are conducted by those cleverer than the common fool, we the majority (common fools) only find out about it when we see the results and gratefully now know what we think.

While John Howard staunchly followed his close friend George W.Bush to war, Australians don't hold the same affection for our key ally, with the US ranking below China, France and Japan in the public's estimation. Only 58 per cent of Australians have "positive feelings" towards the world's superpower, with more than two-thirds complaining that the US holds too much sway over Australian foreign policy.
Oh, so we have warm and fuzzy feelings towards China and France, maybe the 48% are some sort of illusion that China is a flourishing democracy, where opinion polls like this are conducted fairly and freely, I have a feeling they might not be feeling all that warm and fuzzy if they were residing in the peoples republic or if they were across the straits in Taiwan grateful for the protection of Uncle Sam.
France, buggered if I know..
Japan, well there is the Toyota Corolla..

According to the first annual Lowy Institute poll, released yesterday, Australians rated the US above only our northern neighbour Indonesia and the so-called axis of evil member Iran and its war-torn neighbour Iraq. Despite the findings, the majority of Australians regard the US alliance as important. Sixty-one per cent said they regarded our alliance with the US as "very important" to Australia's security.
Oh ok, thanks for the protection of the worlds most powerful army Dubya but we think your just a bit aggressive, I find this hard to believe, as I pointed out earlier, the commoners were not asked.

The national poll - conducted last month - found almost 70 per cent think that Canberra is too heavily influenced by US foreign policy.
Are we feeling adventurous, maybe we should implement some communist policies, or adopt a do nothing, find fault approach like the French. As displayed in the last federal election, the common people have been left out of this poll.

While both political parties support the 53-year-old ANZUS alliance, Labor's foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said yesterday that for Labor "alliance has never equalled compliance with every item of US foreign policy, the danger for the Howard Government is that they don't readily make that distinction," Mr Rudd said.
Oh no, Rudd is speaking, why, troops out, more troops, less troops, relocate them, send them in, take them out, no, yes, maybe, no, etc. I'm feeling drowsy..

However, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who had been briefed on the Lowy findings, said Australians "are very committed to the American alliance". "It depends what questions you put to people, the time that those questions are asked and what happens to be in the media on that day," Mr Downer said. "We don't do polling on foreign policy, ever. "Public opinion can shift very, very dramatically in very short periods of time.

"You can't run a foreign policy on the back of opinion polls. It just can't be done."
Thank God for that.

The Lowy Institute poll found that 94 per cent of Australians feel positive towards New Zealand, ahead of Japan (84 per cent), China (69per cent) and France (66 per cent). The poll of 1000 Australians could not explain whether the attitude was a temporary response to the Bush administration's foreign policy or part of a longer-term agenda.

Thank you Lowy Institute, I now know what my opinion is.

More here, from The Australian

The Lowy Institute poll

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For some reason, I've been focusing more on polls recently than I have at any time since the US election, but for once, here's one that not only has scientific value, but also could quite possibly be accurate.
Only 58 per cent of Australians have "positive feelings" towards the world's superpower, with more than two-thirds complaining that the US holds too much sway over Australian foreign policy.

According to the first annual Lowy Institute poll, released yesterday, Australians rated the US above only our northern neighbour Indonesia and the so-called axis of evil member Iran and its war-torn neighbour Iraq.

Despite the findings, the majority of Australians regard the US alliance as important. Sixty-one per cent said they regarded our alliance with the US as "very important" to Australia's security.

The national poll - conducted last month - found almost 70 per cent think that Canberra is too heavily influenced by US foreign policy.
The phrasing is a little misleading, since very few nations were actually included in the poll, the results of which you can find here [500kb PDF file, 32 pages, or raw data file here]. The basic results are as follows:

"When you think about the following countries, groups or regions of the world, do you have positive or negative feelings about them?"
New Zealand - 94%
United Kingdom - 86%
Japan - 84%
Singapore - 83%
China - 69%
France - 66%
Malaysia - 62%
Papua New Guinea - 60%
United States - 58%
Indonesia - 52%
Iran - 24%
Iraq - 23%
These figures, with the exception of the higher-than-expected rating for China, aren't exactly surprising. New Zealand have taken many of the popular decisions among Australians in international affairs over the past 100 years - most notably fighting alongside our troops as the ANZACS. When you add that they didn't join Bush's Coalition Of The Willing, and they're our nearest Western neigbour, of course they should be on top. Regarding China though, considering their abysmal human rights record I'm surprised their rating was so high. This is pre-their anti-independence legislation against Taiwan, but considering how three people dying in Iraq would be much more prominent news, I'm not sure it would make too much of a difference. But let's move on to the United States.

For the question "How worried are you about the following potential threats from the outside world?", United States foreign policy had 32% of Australians "very worried" and 25% "fairly worried". The more worrying threats were Islamic fundamentalism, international disease epidemics, international terrorism, global warming and unfriendly nations developing nuclear weapons. Some points to be made here:

- The very similar rating given to Islamic fundamentalism and international terrorism shows just how closely the two are aligned in public view.
- Considering the major action that has most people would be the Iraq war, and Australia has not yet suffered a single consequence of that war, it appears so far that these fears are unfounded.

But above all, the one thing I found interesting was just how similar Bush's goals are with Australia's - even though Bush hasn't got a great deal of support among the Australian public. Out of the top 7 important foreign policy goals for the Australian public, five of them could easily be said to be Bush goals (strengthening the Australian economy, combating terrorism, helping to prevent nuclear proliferation, promoting human rights abroad and improving standards of living in poor countries), while a further one - protecting the jobs of Australian workers - doesn't apply here. And while the second most important issue is improving the global environment, even though Bush hasn't signed Kyoto, he aims to meet reduced targets and Kyoto is junk anyway; it will only save 0.07 degrees Celsius over 45 years at a cost of AU$9,000,000,000,000 with complete implementation, which means basically we won't be able to tell the difference. Even Bush's policy of promoting democracy is important according to 65% of respondents.

With these numbers of support for Bush's policies, it's hard to see why he doesn't enjoy huge support in Australia. Could it be that the Australian people aren't really educated on Bush's policies? One of the more anti-Bush people I know can only name three Bush policies - "tax cuts for the rich", war on Iraq, Patriot Act. Some others add "huge budget deficits", but as we all (should) know Congress controls the budget, and controls spending. So whether America has budget deficits or not really isn't up to Bush. But it's a common theme - the severe lack of education on Bush's policies is the reason why people dislike him so much.

If they actually bothered to learn what he stood for and what's he done/doing, then Bush's foreign support would be higher than his domestic support, because the Lowy Institute poll shows he stands for the same things as the majority of Australians.

(Cross-posted to The House Of Wheels.)

Oil for Food – The Temperature is Rising

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Roger L. Simon has unearthed some potentially explosive stuff on the Oil for Food scandal. I’ll post some of it here, but head on over to Roger’s blog for the full story.
This blog has new information from sources close to the investigation of the United Nations Oil-for-Food Scandal by Paul Volcker's Independent Inquiry Committee. After some delay, the committee is releasing its preliminary results at noon Tuesday. This report may reveal, among other things, startling information tending to indicate Secretary General Kofi Annan had more knowledge of, or was closer to, his son Kojo's activities with Cotecna - the company whose role in the scandal seems so pervasive - than previously thought.
In brief, the committee has been interviewing Pierre Mouselli, a businessman in Paris who was Kojo's business partner. [He told] the committee numerous interesting things, which include:
1. Previously unrevealed private meetings between Kojo and two separate Iraqi Ambassadors to Nigeria, arranged by Mouselli in or about August 1998. At these meetings Kojo presented the business card of Cotecna, which subsequently won the lucrative oil inspection contract for Oil-for-Food. Cotecna had previously been blacklisted from doing business in Nigeria for alleged arms trafficking.

2. A trip in September 1998 by Mouselli and Kojo to the Non-Aligned Nations Movement Conference in Durban, South Africa during which they traveled with the Secretary General's entourage and later had a private lunch with Kofi Annan. In Mouselli's view, the purpose of the lunch was to make the Secretary General aware of the various business dealings in which he and Kojo were engaged, in order to get the Secretary General's "blessing".

3. Early Autumn 2002. The Iraqi Ambassador to Nigeria makes a surprise call to Mouselli inquiring of the whereabouts of Kojo (at this point Mouselli and Kojo were not in close contact). Mouselli goes to the Iraqi Embassy where he is informed by the Ambassador that we (the Iraqis) have done favors for Kojo in the past and now need to see him.
As Roger says in closing, “The issues his testimony raises are obviously troubling and I look forward to reading the committee report on Tuesday, which will probably flesh them out from other directions.”

Stay tuned, folks. Lots more to come, it seems.

Hat tip to Mike for the heads-up.

Two polls

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Both are stupid, but here goes - firstly, The Greens want to know which fictional work the Department Of Immigration are. The options are George Orwell's 1984, The BBC's Yes Minister, Franz Kafka's The Trial, Steven Speilberg's Minority Report, Arthur Miller's The Crucible, and Peter Farrelly's Dumb & Dumber. They're hilarious over there at The Greens. Go there and vote for Minority Report, since it's the most obviously pathetic answer of the lot.

Meanwhile, a more serious - but still stupid - poll is over at the Herald. "Who gets your vote?" they ask, giving the choices of:
- Howard
- Costello
- Neither

The fact that only 19% of people voted for Howard as of this time says a lot more about the Herald's readership than it does about anything else. Go over and vote for Howard to even up the score a bit.

UPDATE: Well, Howard's score has gone from 19% to 23% - great work guys.

(Cross-posted to The House Of Wheels.)

More leftist criminals get what's coming to them

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Still more leftist scum prove each day how unworthy of breathing our air they are. The latest episode of it are the protests outside the Baxter Detention Centre where illegal queue jumpers are held at taxpayer expense until they are sent back to where they belong.

Here you can find a press release by some of the leftist scum that started all the violence. Let's go through it shall we....
Baxter: Police violence dangerous and unnecessary
Monday, 28 March 2005, 2:11 pm
Press Release: Refugee Action Coalition
Baxter: Police violence dangerous and unnecessary

Refugee Action Coalition of NSW

MEDIA RELEASE : 26 March 2005 Protesters condemned the heavy-handed police action at Baxter detention centre today and urged them to consider the possible consequences of such action...
Consequences like not letting you leftist filth get away with committing any number of crimes - not limited to trespassing, willful destruction of public property, resisting arrest, and assaulting police officers - sounds good to me. The police did the right thing.
Lucy, a protester from Sydney was taken to hospital after being trampled by a police horse when they charged at the crowd of protesters. Luckily, after two hours in Port Augusta hospital she was released without any serious injury.
Luckily is hardly the term I would use for it but anyway, here are the stalwart officers who at least made a good attempt.


Good on ya, mates.
“It is a miracle Lucy didn’t suffer a major injury. I saw the police horses hooves trampling on Lucy, I was worried that her back would be broken,” said Mark Goudkamp of the Refugee Action Coalition.
'tis a genuine shame it wasn't. Now she will be free to trespass and destroy property again.
“Another protester has had his arm broken in two places. Surely we should be able to hold a political protest without the police breaking our limbs? This country is meant to be a democracy.
This country is a democracy, and that is why you criminal scum only had your limbs broken instead of being shot or run over with a tank like you would have been in your beloved Cuba or North Korea, or Soviet Union, or China.
“Our intention was to walk around to the back of the Baxter compound to where the detainees could hear us and we could hear them. We wanted to make contact and let them know that we are here to support them. It was totally unnecessary for the police to attack us.
"We only wanted to bust down the gates and free the invaders and burn the building down causing millions of dollars in damage which the taxpayers (not us because we are unemployed dole bludgers) would have to pay for. Totally unnecessary for the police to prevent us from committing these crimes."
“It will be clear to most Australians from the television pictures that it is the police who are instigating the violence. Police Assistant Commissioner Gary Burns claims there are violent elements within the protest are hypocritical as it is only the police that have been violent.”
Contact: Mark Goudkamp 0422 078 376 (Baxter)
BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA! All the television pictures show is a whole lot of leftist filth trying to destroy property and assaulting police. And that same filth getting their shit ruined.

Don't believe this is totally, 100% the fault of the leftist filth and that they shouldn't have more than their arms broken? Here is a line from another article. Read it and let it sink in....

"If the property is being used unjustly, as it is in this case, I think it is the right of every right-thinking person to damage that property to free those held unjustly as the refugees are in Baxter."

In other words, "It is fine for me to destroy property and free illegals if I feel like it."

Leftist scum talk big but when they find themselves in situations such as this:

Not so tough now are you, scumbag?

Good on you police officers. You have nothing but scum to deal with, and you do it superbly.

The Church of Spite, Act III

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You know, I actually thought the headline was a misprint when I first read it. I was wrong.

Yes, you got it - they’re at it again. . .

A MINISTER has been reprimanded by his church for honouring a Digger's dying wish to have the Australian flag on his funeral casket.

The Uniting Church has also told the Rev Ian Collings he can forget about a posting to a parish where his wife would be closer to hospital for cancer treatment.
And these people claim to be Christians? And this, especially after a senior churchman stated that RSL funerals were common practice (a statement you will no longer be able to find, since it has been pulled from the Church website’s news page).

Mr Collings co-hosted a funeral service for his old mate Dick Vipond at an Anglican church, after the minister at Mr Vipond's Essendon church refused to allow use of the flag.

He has since been told he breached the. . .code of ethics and it "would not be wise" for him to pursue a posting at West Brunswick, where parishioners have asked for him.
The ‘Code of Ethics’? Rubbish. This is just more of the same, more spite, this time aimed at a minister who tried to help a congregant of over forty years service, rather than supporting a limp-wristed little political statement; a quick snatch at a vile and pathetic opportunity for some anti agitprop.

This advice has angered his family, the RSL, and the family of Mr Vipond, who served with the RAAF in Papua New Guinea and attended church for 40 years.
I bet it did. Time to change your Church, I’d suggest.

Mr Collings, a Uniting Church minister for 42 years, said he would accept the reprimand and drop the new posting because he didn't want to cause trouble. "You take these things as they come. I think in my job you learn to be patient and tolerant," he said. "I just felt (holding the funeral) was the right thing to do."
And so did we all, Ian. So did we all. It’s just a crying shame that your 'Church' isn’t nearly as tolerant as you are.

But Mr Vipond's family is fuming about the treatment of Mr Collings.

"If the Uniting Church are going to treat one of their own like this, it's absolutely outrageous and disgusting," said the veteran's son, Mark Vipond. "I don't think they know what Christianity is all about. I think they've lost the plot. "When I went to Sunday school, we were taught to help people out. But when dad died and we needed them, they turned their backs on us.
Spot on, Mark. Now watch the Uniting ‘Church’ do some wriggling:

The row began when Dr Campbell refused to allow the Viponds a service at St John's Uniting Church in Essendon. A senior churchman has since said a coffin draped with the national flag potentially conflicted with the "Christian symbolism of the service".
Hang on a second. Here’s what the Uniting ‘Church’ said in answer to the original furore: ‘Most ministers would separate the Christian funeral service from that of the RSL or a Masonic service.’ That’s ‘separate’ folks, not ‘refuse to allow’, which is what Wes Campbell apparently did, no matter his later protestations when he started to feel the heat.

Uniting Church authorities reprimanded Mr Collings, 71, for not telling Dr Campbell he would conduct the funeral. The church also told him he should reconsider applying for West Brunswick.
Campbell was behaving like a heartless little prick. I wouldn’t have wanted to talk to him either, not to mention the fact that Campbell would, no doubt, have tried to stop him from ruining the brave little fist-in-the-air protest he was trying to pull off. And I think it’s also pretty obvious that the Rev Ian Collings was trying to repair some of the damage Wes Campbell had already done, not to mention exercising the 'considerable freedom' the Uniting in Worship funerary guidelines gives to its ministers when 'applying those guidelines’ (quotes thanks to the Uniting Church statement itself, by the way).

Now let’s look at why the Rev Collings wanted to go to West Brunswick:

His daughter, Amanda Collings, said the West Brunswick posting was to allow him to be close to St Vincent's hospital for his wife's lymphoma. She said the head of the Maribyrnong presbytery, the Rev David Mills, called her father a fortnight ago and took him to task over the Vipond funeral. She said she found her mother in tears.
Yeah - sure - it's all about 'ethics', isn't it. And thanks for showing us all precisely what Uniting Church 'ethics' are really all about.

The Uniting Church, folks - they're all about 'ethics' - just not yours or mine. . .

Bad News Iraq

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This piece has already been around for a while, but still deserves some attention.
BAGHDAD Iraq's wildly popular new television show features a nightly parade of men, most with bruised faces, confessing to all kinds of terrorist and criminal acts.

"Terrorism in the Hands of Justice" is the Iraqi government's slick new propaganda tool. Its televised confessions, the police say, aim to discredit the armed resistance and advertise the government's success at cracking down on gangs.
A ‘…slick new propaganda tool…’, hey? Of course it is. What else would it be? Not a ‘a tool to expose the reality behind the evil little creeps causing all the trouble’, by any chance? No way! They’re ‘minute men’, after all. . .
If it is meant to showcase a brave new Iraq, the television show is disturbingly reminiscent of the bad old Iraq. The show, which appears six nights a week on the state-run Iraqiya network, has a strong flavor of Saddam Hussein-era strong-arming.
Oh absolutely. All those shiny new ‘Halliburton’ brand people shredders, and mass graves. But where would a good piece of ‘Bad News Iraq’ journalism be without the ‘disturbing questions’?
It also raises a host of disturbing questions. The bruised, swollen faces and hunched shoulders of many of the suspects suggest that they have been beaten or tortured.
What? Rather than being decapitated (or simply vanishing altogether)? Those brutes. Who wouldn’t prefer a (rather slow) head lopping with a whopping great knife (or a one-way trip through the chipper)?
And the suspects are presented to the public without any legal process to protect them, presumed guilty, with no word about rule of law as a weapon in the arsenal against terrorism.
Actually, some of these swine have been caught planting bombs red-handed, and by citizens who were, no doubt, more than a little pissed off at the carnage that was about to be unleashed. So they get a little bruised and battered. I think they’re pretty lucky they’re not being killed on the spot. And the ‘rule of law’? These characters are being organised and financed to wage a nasty, vicious little campaign of terror and mass murder against largely unarmed civilians, and they don’t abide by the Geneva Convention (in fact, I doubt they’ve even heard of it). Of course, trying to apply the 'rule of law' (rather than the rule of war) in situations like these works almost entirely to the benefit of the terrorists. Something the journo’ here (and the bulk of the Left), I suspect, knows all too well.
Powerful politicians have blasted the show: Mohsen Abdulhameed, head of the Iraqi Islamic Party, called a news conference this week to accuse the show of airing lies, outraged not that a party member was presented as a terrorist, but that the man confessed that he drinks alcohol and does not pray.
So glad to see he’s got his priorities right. But let’s hear some more about the glorious ‘minute men’ the show seeks to expose:
Who are the perpetrators of the daily bombings and ambushes that have killed hundreds of civilians, Iraqi police and soldiers? According to the taped confessions the answer is, essentially: lowlifes.

In the episode last Wednesday, men identified as members of an insurgent cell from Mahmoudia admitted to murdering and raping several Iraqis.

One of the men, Azawi Hassan Azawi, said the leader of a criminal cell had induced him to kidnap and kill a boy by offering Azawi his sister in marriage.

Another man, Hassan Mahdi Hassan al-Kafaji, said he used to fight in the Saddam Fedayeen militia. After the war he joined Tawhid and Jihad, the group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi now called Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, as a killer for hire. Kafaji said he pops pills before each mission. "They pay me $100 or $150 for each person I slay," Kafaji said.

Talal Ra'ad Ismail al-Abassi came next. He said he had led an insurgent cell in Mosul. According to the interrogator, Abassi had been an imam but was fired by the religious authorities under Saddam for having sex with men in the mosque. Abassi said his group had killed a dozen Iraqi "collaborators" - once a leader can claim 10 kills, he becomes an emir - simply to earn $1,500 a month from Saudi financiers of the insurgency.

"I do not believe in jihad in Iraq," Abassi told the camera. "It was important for my group to kill enough people that I could become an emir and get the $1,500 salary."
Meet the noble Iraqi ‘resistance’.

A thought

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Alan Ramsey:
Ignore an issue and it fades. Look at Iraq. People are still dying there, every day, Iraqi and American alike. Yet who cares? Not many. The "war" has become routine.
He's half-right - the war has become routine, because we know full well what the reports will be. They've been the same for about 24 months: Iraqis dead this, US soldiers dead that. But these issues haven't been ignored by anyone except the public, and they're only ignoring it because the media have thrashed the issue to death.

Every night, I listen to the BBC's World Service as I go to sleep. And every second night, their lead story is violence in Iraq - the other nights it's either their second story or there was obviously no violence. I am yet to hear a positive story out of Iraq from their headlines - it's all death, death, death. After a while, people become immune to what society deems as bad things if they're just tossed around liberally.

But the media still thinks it's 1971 and Vietnam, and they can influence everything with a saturation of dead American soldiers and dead Iraqi children. That's why they touted The Lancet's statistically deficient "study" of dead Iraqis over and over again. However herein lies problems for the defeatists:

The Vietnam comparison just doesn't stick with the average person, because they don't think in percentages. Here's a monthly death toll for American troops in Vietnam. Those numbers are mostly in the 450-550 range per month. Yet only two months in Iraq have resulted in over 107 US troops dying - and most months in the 45-75 range. With one-tenth of the casualties in numbers, and success on the ground through the capture of Saddam and the elections, the effect of continual "Iraqis dead this, US soldiers dead that" reporting is nullified.

(Cross-posted to The House Of Wheels.)

The Wolfowitz Plan

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As we watch the Arab Spring unfold and rejoice in the expressions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness on Zephyr's breath, it can sometimes be difficult to remember how much work yet needs to be done. For Spring means not only a lengthening of days, but the assiduous labor of sowing seeds for Autumn's harvest.

With this in mind, the incomparable Arthur Chrenkoff reminds us of the work that needs to be done, and even enumerates them as part of a "Wolfwitz Plan":

Overthrowing a government is easy - it merely requires a relatively short burst of manic energy. The much harder part is building on the victory and ensuring that all that effort by the "people power" doesn't go to waste - it's a tough and gruelling and unenviable job.

...

These are the priorities:

  • Targeted humanitarian aid where particularly needed - it's a good thing to do and a smart one, too, as it creates a lot of grass-roots good will.
  • Build and strengthen democratic institutions, civil society groups and the free media; support decent education, offer scholarships and exchanges.
  • Work on the institutional framework - new laws and regulations, ensuring transparency, fighting graft and corruption.
  • Provide expertise to reform the economy - the "shock therapy" is painful, but the continuing stagnation in its absence even more so.
  • Assist the newly liberated to make the best of what they already have - help them utilize their current resources that in so many cases went wasted under the previous (mis)management, sign free trade agreements, promote regional cooperation, where possible put US military installations on the ground - it helps the local economy and it shows that the US is serious about sticking around for the long haul.
  • Just as importantly, help our civil society help their civil societies; there are a lot of non-government organizations and community groups around which can do a lot to help, so facilitate that grass-roots-to-grass-roots effort through information-sharing, coordination, and low-level logistical assistance.

You can still expect a great deal of pain, some unavoidable ingratitude and many, many setbacks. As I said, it's not easy - the much under-estimated Post-Totalitarian Stress Disorder will be the greatest enemy - but we have little choice. Doing nothing and hoping for the best is no longer a viable foreign policy option.

Thus, enjoy the liberating feeling, but don't forget that the work must go on. After all, you remember what happened to the grasshopper!

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

Leftism and Islamism Part Ways in Iraq?

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The Financial Times reports that truly Iraqi insurgents may be looking for an exit strategy:
Many of Iraq's predominantly Sunni Arab insurgents would lay down their arms and join the political process in exchange for guarantees of their safety and that of their co-religionists, according to a prominent Sunni politician.

Sharif Ali Bin al-Hussein, who heads Iraq's main monarchist movement and is in contact with guerrilla leaders, said many insurgents including former officials of the ruling Ba'ath party, army officers, and Islamists have been searching for a way to end their campaign against US troops and Iraqi government forces since the January 30 election.

Rumors of this sort have been floating about for a couple of months now, and one can only hope that negotiations are working out. As Ba'athists are National Socialists, they can be correctly categorized as "Leftist". But it seems that the Iraqi Left is beginning to learn to cope with change by trying to become part of the process instead of obstructing. And the process is important. As Glenn Reynolds and others consistently remind us all, democracy is a process. It's an accident of history that the Iraqi Communist Party was on board sooner with the new political process than the Ba'athists. (Then again, the last major contest between National Socialism and Communism also saw Communist victory. With American assistance, as this time around.)

As I've argued in " Coping with Modernity - Leftism and Islamism", while both Leftists and Islamists are looking for control, the Left is generally forward-looking and positive-thinking, and radical Islamism (and not the soft Islamism that can be comparable to American televangelism or even the Million Man March, wherein the call is for individual accountability to God) is backward-looking and negative. People respond better to hope than to despair (although, as mentioned in "State of Fear", fear-mongering may nonetheless be used, and is a political tool rather than an overall message), and with Iraqi citizens getting a taste of finally being able to punish the perpetrators and defend their own bright hopes for Iraq's future and the future of their families and neighborhoods, the trend is clear.

This means that the Zarqawistas' days are numbered. Already, as Arthur Chrenkoff reports, some of the captured insurgents and foreign terrorists are the laughing stock of Iraq:

"Television program has discredited the mujaheddin and their professions of religious fervor by showing captured insurgents who said they were homosexuals -- still not a socially acceptable group in much of the Middle East. As a result, the word mujahid 'once worn as a badge of pride by anti-American insurgents has become street slang for homosexuals'."

If that's not justice, if that's not victory, then little else can be.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

Multiculturalism – French Style

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Ahhh – the wonders of multiculturalism.

Union escort for protesting Paris students

PARIS, March 15 (AFP) - Thousands of French high-school students who demonstrated against the government in central Paris Tuesday were protected by an extensive security detail after violence and muggings that marred a similar march a week ago. Unions provided an escort of several hundred stewards and police controlled access to the route between Republique and Nation squares. The march passed off peacefully with only a handful of arrests.
An extensive security detail? An Escort? Protecting them against what, pray tell?

Hundreds of young rioters from poor Paris suburbs disrupted the demonstration on March 8, beating teenagers to the ground and stealing mobile telephones and cameras. Le Monde newspaper carried disturbing interviews with attackers and victims in last week's trouble - both sides agreeing that the violence was exclusively carried out on white boys and girls by black and Arab teenagers.

"If I went, it was not to demonstrate but to take telephones and beat people up. There were groups of people running about stirring things up, and in the middle these idiots - these little French people just asking for it," an 18-year-old of Tunisian origin called Heikel said.
'Just asking for it,’ Heikel said. Hmmmm. You know, maybe he’s got a point. As the old one goes: ‘As ye sow, so shall ye reap.’

"We came to demonstrate against inequalities and we got beaten up. . ." said Tristan Goldbronn, 16, who was badly hurt.
Let’s hear from Heikel again:

Heikel, who attends a secondary school in the area, told Le Monde that the mainly white Parisian students who took part in the march - known in street parlance as "bolos" - were seen as spoilt and privileged, and therefore fair game.

"A bolo - he's a sitting duck, a victim," he said.

Enter: the inevitable (lefty) social commentator:

"It is the symptom of a real struggle between two worlds," sociologist Dominique Pasquier told the newspaper.

"Those who feel they are being relegated by the system want to take it out on those who they feel are privileged. In some establishments the split can turn into a real confrontation between whites and immigrants," he said.

Ahhh - the Left. What would we do without them.

Now, just picture all those young leftist faces for a moment, their youthful fists raised in revolutionary ardour, their red banners flapping bravely in the breeze, all those carefully sculpted and earnest young masks of left wing student-agitator angst, marching as one.

Then picture, if you will, how quickly those solemn young leftist faces must have changed, the looks of shock and surprise, when hundreds of representatives of a poor and wickedly downtrodden minority - their brothers and comrades in the workers' rage against the machine - arrived for the meet. . .

. . .and then beat the living tripe out of them.

But no hard feelings, hey fellas. It was just an expression of cultural diversity, after all.

Kyrgyz President Out

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The incredible Publius Pundit probably doesn't get any sleep so he can get us analyses of democrative movements around the world. This analysis of Kyrgyz developments puts it in context with Will Franklin's thesis on the "Babe Theory of Political Movements".

If you don't already follow Publius Pundit's work, you should.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

Misunderstanding the American Civil War

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The American Civil War (1861-1865) has often been dredged up by other nations dealing with their own separatist movements. The primary argument is, Look, America used overwhelming force to destroy a secessionist movement, therefore so can we. This has particularly been the case with regard to the Russian suppression of the Chechen independence movement, and the Chinese suppression of Taiwanese expressionism.

They are all wrong.

The Civil War did not start, as many thought, over the secession of South Carolina and her sister states in the Confderacy. Let us examine the sequence of events leading up to hostilities.

Abraham Lincoln (R-IL) was known as an abolitionist. In those days, racism was still alive and well, even among the northerners who wanted to abolish slavery. Lincoln can be shown by his own words to have been "racist" in the modern sense: He believed that whites were inherently superior to blacks, in terms of civilization, culture, and intelligence. What he also believed, however, was that these were not the relevant characteristics in determining the dignity of a human being. Whether or not a black man is less intelligent than a white man, and whether or not a white man can jump higher than a black man, the crux of the matter lies in the fact that they are equally deserving of dignity, because they are equally human. Among the abolitionists, and even the racists of the north, this was not in doubt.

Abolitionists were against the extension of the "peculiar institution" of slavery into other parts of the Union. Because of the expansion of American territory after the Louisiana Purchase and the Mexican-American War, there was much land to be settled. And because of the productivity gains enabled by Eli Whitney's ctton "gin", slave labor was again profitable. When North and South came to a head over the extension of slavery to the new territories, compromises had to be made. There was the Missouri compromise, the Compromise of 1850, and finally, the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Little by little, abolitionists were making headway.

Because Lincoln was an abolitionist, the slave-holding South felt threatened by his election to the White House. South Carolina immediately exercised what it perceived to be its right, and seceded. A more detailed timeline can be found here. Essentially, between the secession of South Carolina on 20 December 1860, and the inauguration of Lincoln on 4 March 1861, five states had seceded, the Confederacy was established, and a Union vessel had been fired upon. What the timeline doesn't point out, but which some others do, is that in the meantime, several Federal forts were fired upon.

On 12 April 1861, the Attack on Fort Sumter, a Federal property, had begun. The United States had been attacked. The next day, General Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter. The War had begun.

The rest of the War is detail. The issue of slavery was again brought up in 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January of that year. In his famous letter to Horace Greeley of 22 August 1862, Lincoln wrote:

My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.

Understanding his role, as President, to defend the Constitution, whose first aim, in its very Preamble, is stated to be "to form a more perfect Union", he was obligated not only to respond to the secession, but also, importantly, to respond to the military aggression from the Confederacy. Had secession been the only issue, Lincoln's task would perhaps have been diplomatic in nature. Because of the military hostilities from South Carolina, however, a military response was called for.

The echoes are important in our time, but primarily I want to remind Chinese hypernationalists of the real history of the American Civil War. The secession had been of States that willingly joined the Union in the first place; and the military action was not undertaken until the Confederacy made the first move. Thus, the American Civil War is a completely improper model for China-Taiwan relations.

Moreover, a review of Taiwanese history will show that, not only did Taiwan never consent to becoming part of China, but that it was the subject of Dutch and Spanish colonization, and had no significant contact with China until Koxinga's flight of 1664. As the Ming Dynasty was by then defunct, Taiwan did not become part of the Celestial Empire until the military conquest by the Qing Dynasty in 1683. In fact, Taiwan wasn't even a province until 1887, and was signed away to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki of 1895.

I hope this will clear things up a little. Chinese hypernationalists have been and would continue to be gravely mistaken in bringing up an analogy with the American Civil War, because the background is completely different. If "re-unification" is the goal, perhaps enticing the people, who have by now become used to political freedom, must be the means. And military force cannot be used unless the Taiwanese were to fire on, say, missile silos in Fujian.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds and Naruwan Formosa]

A Letter From Iraq

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The following is a letter received by net poet and Vietnam Veteran Russ Vaughn. He requested that I post it on my site and I thought I'd share it here as well.


To All,

This will be my final letter from Iraq. I will be leaving the country in the next week and should be home in the United States soon after. Spring is now here in Iraq. The weather is pleasantly warm with the occasional sunny day. On a recent trip, I flew in a helicopter North of Baghdad over miles of small farms, criss-crossed by irrigation canals, each surrounded by bright green fields. It all gave an impression of timelessness, life unchanging but for the season. In the days since the elections it has been very quiet here and all my Marines remain safe. Everyone is very ready to go home.

Before I give my final impressions of Iraq, I have one final experience to relate. Recently I spent several days in Fallujah. As the largest battle fought in this war and the most brutal fight for the Marine Corps since Vietnam, the name "Fallujah" tends to engender visions of smoke and fire, death in the streets. I cannot speak for the condition of the city before and during the assault but what I witnessed was perhaps the most secure and peaceful urban area I have yet encountered in Iraq, including the Green Zone. For four days on security patrols in and around the city I did not even once hear the report of gunfire in anger or the echo of an explosion. Of course, when you systematically kill or capture every insurgent in a completely cordoned city and search, blast or burn every single structure, you can expect resistance to become light or nonexistent. My hosts were the warriors of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, who fought along the regiment's right flank during the battle and back-cleared the entire Northern sector of the city following the operation's conclusion. These men fought a grisly, tedious and exhausting battle street-by-street, block-by-block for almost two months.

For all my imagination, until I walked the streets, listened to the stories, saw the pictures and read the after action reports I had no concept of what a fight it had been. Covering enemy dead with ponchos as they went, they killed Muj (as they nicknamed the insurgents) in the streets or toppled buildings on top of them with mortars, artillery and aerial bombardment. They shot dogs and cats caught feasting on the dead, found the mutilated corpse of aid worker Margaret Hassan, discovered a torture chamber with full suits of human skin and refrigerated body parts right out of "Silence of the Lambs", opened a cellar with chained men who had starved to death and broke down doors to find rooms full of corpses, hands tied behind their backs, bullet holes in the back of their heads. These are just in the pictures I saw. The enemy they encountered was fanatical and often fought as if pumped up on drugs. His ethnicity was varied and his tactics ranged from insurgents attempting to cross the Euphrates River on inflated beach balls to houses detonated on top of Marines as they entered the first floor.

As I listened to the stories I Had visions of Henry V's warning before the walls of Harfleur to "take pity of your town and of your people, whiles yet my soldiers are in my command; whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace o'erblows the filthy and contagious clouds of heady murder, spoil and villany." I thought of all the times in history where invaders had systematically destroyed a city, extinguishing the population and sowing salt in the earth. Yet, for the battle damage on all sides, the city of Fallujah had more children and a more industrious citizenry than any other I encountered here in Iraq. Almost every house had been re-occupied following the invasion, gutters cleaned of garbage, white flags flying over newly patched garden walls, "Family Inside" written in large letters in both English and Arabic. Marines control access to the city; Marines mediate civic disputes; Marines provide food, water and are protecting those who are repairing city infrastructure; Marines patrol the streets, policing both the citizens of Fallujah and the Iraqi Army who sometimes abuse their authority. Fallujah is a city on lockdown and ironically is probably the safest and most progressive place in Iraq right now. I now understand why the citizens in a nearby neighborhood here in Baghdad worriedly asked the Army command we are attached to "What have we done? Why are Marines here?" when we began to patrol there. With that experience, I more or less close my time here in Iraq. I have a few more hurdles to overcome before I am home but now all tasks are related to ensuring a safe journey there.

Reflecting on what I have seen here in Iraq, the overwhelming emotion I feel is of pride, not In myself or even in my Marines, but in being an American. Patriotic sentiments tend to gravitate between cliché and taboo in the sensibilities of popular culture but if I was not defined before as a "patriot", I am now. I am very proud to have been a small part of this effort and to come from a nation where not only could such an effort be sustained but whose aim was the betterment of another people a world away. A few months ago, I was walking at night through a logistics yard and as I weaved between mountainous stacks of crates stamped with the names of a dozen nations, I was struck by how fortunate I was to be an American. The perspective bordered on the sublime. Just outside the wall lived people in poverty and squalor who had been subjected to their lot by a tyrannical ethnic and political minority who shrugged off human misery with the medieval belief that it was the "will of Allah." Not much has changed in the Middle East in the last few thousands of years, except for the religion and identity of the tyrant in question. Just South of where I sit now, in the city of Babylon in the 5th Century B.C., the Persian Xerxes planned his doomed invasion of Greece, his logisticians collecting mountains of supplies, compiled from the labors of subject millions. There is no difference between that tyrant 2500 years ago and Saddam Hussein whose palaces dot across this country like vainglorious lesions, one built just miles away from here, complete with fresh water dolphins in artificial lakes, observation towers with night clubs, and irrigated tree-lined walks, built in the midst of international sanctions levied against his country.

As I stood dwarfed by piles of water bottles and phone cable I realized two distinctions. The first is this: as countless millions of dollars are spent, what American citizen can truly point to the cost that this war has had on his quality of living? What a magnificent nation we live in where we can wage so massive an effort without bankrupting our citizenry in the process. The second contrast is our motive: for all the insinuations of imperialism, corporate benefit and hawkish war-mongering, the most dramatic moments I witnessed here revolved around an election not an exploitation. What other nation would spend such sums to give a people so far away self-determination? I am not advocating war. Being so far from home for so long, smelling and seeing the dead and placing Marines in harm's way are not truly enjoyable experiences. Yet I agree wholeheartedly with the much-criticized statement by General Mattis, it IS fun to wage war against a foe who seeks only his own self-gratification, who tortures, murders and abuses the weak.

You can opine all day long about Wilsonian self-determination, but without the will to do what is necessary to make such visions reality, they remain mere words. In short, as I give my farewell to this country in the next week, I leave with overwhelming pride in being an American and an unshakable belief, based in what I have seen here, that this effort will not fail. Whatever comes in Iraq, the impact of this invasion will not be as that of every other conqueror, relegated to a wind worn mound of stones in the desert.

I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to read these often-verbose letters. Just being able to write to this audience has been a great stress relief. I especially want to express my gratitude to those who have written to me both electronic and snail mail, sent care packages and kept me in their thoughts and prayers. This was without a doubt the best experience of my life thus far and would have not been so without the support and generosity you have shown my Marines and I.

Once I leave the country I will no longer be able to access this e-mail address. For those who are not sighing with relief at the end to these e-mails, my new email address, effective 15 March, is: briandonlon@gmail.com or bjd2p@hotmail.com I would love to hear from any and all who these letters reached.

Thanks once again for all you did for me

Semper Fi!


If you have a few spare moments why not drop him a line.

Tiananmen Square Relatives Castigate Chirac, Schroeder

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Relatives of Chinese dissidents killed in the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989 have lashed out at French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for their role in attempting to lift a European arms embargo against China.

Speaking in a telephone interview on Thursday, the 'Mother of Tiananmen', professor Ding Zilin, said that "China's government always names Chirac as a friend of the Chinese people, but for us he is only a friend to autocratic dictatorship." She said Schroeder should not follow Chirac's position, "otherwise the people will remember him like the people remembered Hitler". Both leaders would be remembered in history as "shameful", said the retired professor, whose son was killed in the bloody crackdown by Chinese troops in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in June 1989.

Freedom for me but not for thee

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George Negus of SBS Dateline has just spoken to Australia's best journalist, Paul McGeogh. Recent winner of the George Perkin Award for Journalism, McGeogh was chatting about Iraq and yet again predicted it's descent into chaos. He refused to acknowledge any input of the US, refused to accept that intervention in Iraq has influenced the region's push for democracy, and refused to accept that Iraq is better without Saddam than with.
George left him without asking a crucial question. Where is the evidence to support the claim that the Iraqi PM executed prisoners in cold blood in prison? False but essentially true? Maybe it is symbolic. An analogy for the killing of Iraqi's by faceless assassins. Or it may be he's just making shit up.

Once the transcript is up, read McGeogh's responses and see if you can spot his Pilgerish moment.

UPDATE: News is early. Transcript available here
So what did McGeogh say to be equated to John Pilger? Another little outburst about the stability of Iraq and how much 'the people' miss their revered leader. Once again , no names, no pack drill.

"PAUL McGEOUGH: Well, one of the big problems that I have with affairs as they're covered these days is that everything has to be given a label - the Rose Revolution, the Purple Revolution, the Cedar Revolution, the Arab spring and the false dawn. It's too early to be using any of these terms. We're dealing with people's lives, we're dealing with the circumstances in which they live and the reality in the Middle East and in Iraq in particular, is that there still hasn't been enough of an advance to say that life is better. I mean Westerners are shocked when Iraqis, ordinary Iraqis will say to you, "God, I wish we had Saddam back." [Ed: Surely that should read Allah?]

GEORGE NEGUS: Really? How often do you hear that?

PAUL McGEOUGH: You can hear it several times a week.

GEORGE NEGUS: What do they mean when they say it?

PAUL McGEOUGH: They mean that, for all his faults, there was law and order, there was security."

What more can be said? He's not actually saying tha he supports the statement, but is quite willing to repeat the claims without bidding. Let's clear this up. Paul McGeogh claims that Iraqi people have told him several times a week that they wish Saddam was back in power. I wonder which people they would be? Perhaps the same people continuing to cause mayhem and destruction to the peace and stability of Iraq? That thought never crossed McGeogh's tiny mind at all. George Negus is not much better either.

"GEORGE NEGUS: And no government.

PAUL McGEOUGH: We still don't have a government.

GEORGE NEGUS: No government. So-called democracy, I guess you could call it...."

That passage is just before the quoted text above btw. Perhaps George hasn't heard of the Iraqi Assemblies inaugural sitting on March 16. It's not like the Iraqi's have had any difficulties in creating conditions for democracy in their country. A 30 year dictatorship. Numerous regional wars. A province determined to separate itself from the state. Ethnic groups with as much in common as Caths and Prots. Yeah, I know, it's only 6 weeks since Iraq's general elections were held, and that's apparently WAY TOO SLOW for Democracy George. So-called journalist....I guess you could call him...

So how does Paul the Philosopher reconcile the actions of the US in relation to recent Middle East events?

"GEORGE NEGUS: It depends what day of the week you ask, that's for sure. But is it the case that the fact that the election occurred in Iraq and the fact that these other things have been occurring in other parts of the Middle East, how much do you attribute that - as other people do - to the fact that Bush may have been right in the first place by invading?

PAUL McGEOUGH: There's two ways to look at it, one is if you look at it as the package of events that have happened in the last few weeks, and say this coincides with Bush's rhetoric, therefore Bush was right, you could get away with that argument if you want to. But if you take the package of events as they've unfolded - in Lebanon the unrest started and the street demonstrations started because of a murder. Bush didn't commit the murder, nobody's suggesting that.
In the occupied territories, with the Palestinians, events started moving at a different pace and in a different groove because of the death of Yasser Arafat. The Saudi elections, the Saudi elections are a joke, they're sop to Western pressure. That's not..."

By all accounts, Paul isn't letting anyone get away with that particular argument. Not now. Not ever. Give credit where credit is due. The death of Arafat. The death of the Lebanese PM. Saudi elections. Sops to Western pressure, every last one of 'em. Finally, how's that Iraqi civil war thing you've got going on Paul? Any word?

"GEORGE NEGUS: So much so that you've even suggested recently in one [Ed: One? Try over a DOZEN!] of your pieces that you think there's still a real possibility of civil war in Iraq.

PAUL McGEOUGH: Yes, my inclination on Iraq at this stage still is a gut feel that things will get better in Iraq but they may not get better this side of a civil war."

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Australia's best journalist. Or has been noted elsewhere, a member of the presstitute.

Crossposted at Bastards Inc.

Croaking Frogs

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Throughout their years in the sun, the French have bequeathed much to the world. Charlemagne is the father of pretty much all Europeans, and grandson of Charles Martel, King of the Franks, who defeated the first Muslim incursion into Western Europe at the Battle of Tours, where after a battle of two to seven days (depending on whose version you believe), Frankish infantry managed to an Arab army at least 60,000 strong (and as numerous as 400,000), accompanied by heavy cavalry. France was also the training ground for William and his Normans, who would eventually conquer Britain, then turn back and come within a 19-year-old peasant girl of reconquering France. Under Louis XIV of the House of Bourbon, also known as the Sun King, France was so far ahead of the rest of Europe that it was able to afford to be on the losing side of several wars and still be the dominant power. It was, indeed, during this period that the term lingua franca, meaning the French language, meaning the standard international language, was coined.

Americans in particular will remember the French for their contribution during the War of Independence. In hindsight, support for the British Colonies was nothing more than a cynical move on the part of France, a swipe at Great Britain. Still, the enthusiasm of a young Marquis de Lafayette so moved the Yankees that, a century and a half later, General John Pershing reportedly paid tribute at his tomb with the words, "Lafayette, we are here".

Brits, for their part, will never forget Napoleon Bonaparte, even though they were enemies. It was at the Battle of Trafalgar against the French fleet that Admiral Horatio Nelson, who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the battle, gave his name to history. Napoleon's dominance was finally ended at the Battle of Waterloo, where the Duke of Wellington earned his fame, which he would lend to a beef dish.

Since the end of the Age of Enlightenment, however, France's lead in the world has fallen farther and farther behind, leaving France a still powerful, but relatively second-rate nation. As outlined by Alexandre Kojève, French policy has been decidedly anti-American. Now, Andrew Sullivan introduces us to Erik, who runs Le Monde Watch, who has a roundup of letters to the editor of Le Monde. There's too much vitriol and bile for me to reprint here, but you would be doing yourself a service to visit, and see just what the hyper-Gaullist publication's readers have to say.

Come to think of it, "le monde" translates as "the world", and these days, the most ardently internationalist movements are, as they were 100 years ago, the Communists. Maybe that explains it, then.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

You'd think they'd learn a lesson

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But obviously, in the case of the mainstream media, lessons are hard to learn. After Memogate/Rathergate, most conservative bloggers felt pretty good about themselves, because not only had they smacked down a lot of false liberal propaganda, but they'd also shown the mainstream media that they were watching, and they wouldn't be able to get away with that in the future. Unfortunately though, ABC appears to not have been listening, and Power Line (yep, them again) have been all over it. Firstly, they explain what it means:
This memo, obviously, ties in with the Democrats' talking point that the Republicans don't really care about a disabled woman who is being starved to death, but are seeking political advantage. (Simultaneously, they point out poll data suggesting that an overwhelming majority of Americans are on their side. Consistency is never required of Democrats.) But I have to wonder: is the memo genuine, or is it a Democratic dirty trick?
Then, a copy of the memo turned up. It looks like this:



Now let's just ignore the fact that it looks like a fake simply because of its similarities to the Rathergate documents, and that it came from "a source on Capitol Hill". Here's what's wrong with it:

- The Schiavo case is not S.529, it's S.539. That's an unthinkable mistake for a staffer to make.
- The last three points are taken word-for-word from here.
- It doesn't exactly match up to the text that ABC said was on the memo - it's missing 3 of the 4 mistakes that required that lovely phrase (sic). Although, ABC did get the wrong bill number as well.
- It's unsigned, there's no header, there's nothing on it at all.
- The "Budget Act" should read "budget resolution", and they're already too late, as a Senator's staffer explains to Power Line.

So we can safely say that the memo is at best ridiculously dubious, and almost certainly fake. Now, where did the memo come from? The New York Times sheds some light:
As tensions festered among Republicans, Democratic aides passed out an unsigned one-page memorandum that they said had been distributed to Senate Republicans. "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue," the memorandum said.

Dr. Frist and other Republicans denied having seen the memorandum, and Dr. Frist said he "condemned it as soon as I heard about it." [Emphasis mine]
This traces back to Democrats so far - no further so far. I'm calling this a Democrat hoax in an attempt to score extra political points out of what already doesn't look to good for the Republicans.

(Via Captain Ed, who has more. Cross-posted to The House Of Wheels.)

Chinese RMA

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While Chinese military capabilities still lag far behind that of the United States, it was known since the 1991 Gulf War that they have been keeping an eye on the United States and its on-going revolution in military affairs (RMA). China noted with some consternation the ability of the United States not only to muster a large, effective show of force and presence (over 500,000 troops, and over 2000 aircraft, were based in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States), but also to the precision of American "smart" bombs. The "Lessons Learned" from Operation: Desert Storm were not lost on the People's Republic.

Reader Stygius refers to a review of China's cruise missile program. In the conclusion, Geoffrey T. Lum, the author, makes the following observations:

China knows it is in no position to directly challenge U.S. military might, so it is acquiring the capabilities to hold U.S. forces at risk and to raise the military, political, and economic cost of any U.S. intervention in East Asia. Cruise missiles are asymmetric weapons that China could use to influence the will of U.S. leaders while avoiding a major conflict.

China believes asymmetric capabilities enable "the inferior to defeat the superior" and emphasizes operations to disrupt or delay an enemy's campaign. (43) China aims its cruise-missile acquisition program primarily at denying U.S. naval operations and striking at U.S. forward-deployed forces. China's cruise missile systems could hold high-value U.S. assets at risk, and the threat of these weapons against U.S. forces could deter the United States from intervening on Taiwan's behalf. If the PLA can disrupt or delay U.S. intervention, it can easily overwhelm Taiwan.

As many others have written, it is not necessary for China to defeat the United States; it is sufficient to break Taiwan's will to resist. As noted before, it is of utmost importance that the Republic of China again take its military obligations seriously.

Now, as Mad Minerva points out, a former student protest leader from the failed 1989 movement has spoken up. In the Financial Times, Wang Dan (??) admonishes the EU: "History tells us to keep the arms ban on China."

Ironically, perhaps, it was classical European thinkers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke whose ideas of democracy and liberty enlightened me 16 years ago, when I was studying history at Beijing university. One episode of history that ignited my idealistic passion was the French revolution; its 200th anniversary coincided with the 1989 Chinese student protests. Europe has made an important contribution to history by firmly grounding its societies in ideals of democracy and freedom. This should make EU leaders proud.

When the EU adopted its resolution 16 years ago to ban weapons sales to China, it was an expression of moral outrage at the Chinese government's use of the military against peaceful demonstrators. Such reactions from the international community both moved and inspired us - the student leaders who were arrested, imprisoned, or exiled at the time. They showed us that justice remained a fundamental principle in international relations. In this context, our concern about the EU's move to lift the embargo is surely understandable.

...

Some European leaders have referred to the June 4 massacre as belonging to "another era". This is not factually correct. Today, many participants in the 1989 democracy movement are in exile overseas and barred by the Chinese government from returning to their country. My own story is, again, an example. After my Chinese passport expired, the Chinese embassy in America refused to extend it, depriving me of my citizenship rights - simply because I participated in the 1989 movement. Today, the government still prohibits anyone from publicly mourning those killed in the protests. There seems little evidence that conditions are even nearly ripe for lifting the EU's weapons ban.

I understand the importance of engaging China. I personally supported the US move to grant China "most favoured nation" trading status, and also the country's bid to host the Olympic Games. But selling weapons to China is an entirely different matter. From solid trading relations, ordinary Chinese people can benefit; but weapons sales only benefit the officials involved in the arms deals and the Chinese government. They do nothing to help development of Chinese civil society or raise living standards of ordinary Chinese. It puzzles me why some EU leaders want to lift the arms ban while the Chinese government still refuses to deal with questions of truth and accountability concerning the June 4 massacre, and while human rights conditions in China continue to deteriorate.

To me, Europe symbolises the origin of humanity's quest for freedom. My respect for Europe comes from its protection of democratic traditions and the values of freedom. As China's regime still defends the slaughtering of peaceful student protesters, the notion that the EU might be willing to make more weapons available distresses me greatly; I can only hope that Europe will keep our hopes alive.

Sadly, Wang's idealism and paean to liberal values will be better received here in the United States than in the Europe that he believes in, but which is barely alive these days. I remain unconvinced that France and Germany are not simply looking to delve into a new arms market because their former favorite client, Saddam Hussein, is now no longer capable of doing business. But if that idealism can be revived, and public officials made more accountable to those ideals, the EU may yet again be a force for good in a generally Hobbesian world.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds and Naruwan Formosa]

Progress Against Iraqi Insurgents

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In a joint US-Iraqi operation, a raid was conducted on a suspected insurgent training camp, and 85 enemy were killed. The figure comes from Iraqi officials instead of the US military, but it is sure to be encouraging, especially to civilians who have begun to take action themselves when their loved ones are threatened by the miscreants.

And how did the world media present it?

FOX News was enthusiastic: "U.S., Iraqi Forces Kill 85 Militants"

The BBC was neutral, but cast a little doubt: "Iraqi troops 'kill 80 insurgents'"

CNN, unsurprisingly, sounded depressed, trying to use its headline to paint the Coalition forces in a negative light and make the insurgents seem like innocent victims: "Iraqi, U.S. forces overrun rebel base, kill 85"

To the guys at CNN, sometimes people do want the good guys to win, and your faux sophistication is nothing more than sophistry.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]

Why Some of Them Believe

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What happens when you have too much money, especially of the sort handed down from your parents? I mean, so much money that you don't really have to work, or work much at any rate, to survive? Some, like Paris Hilton, decide to slut themselves out physically. Others do it intellectually. Michael Barone explores the "trustfunder left" in an insightful look at a main element of the soft Left.
Who are the trustfunders? People with enough money not to have to work for a living, or not to have to work very hard. People who can live more or less wherever they want. The "nomadic affluent," as demographic analyst Joel Kotkin calls them.

These people tend to be very liberal politically. Aware that they have done nothing to earn their money, they feel a certain sense of guilt. At the elite private or public high schools they attend, and even more at their colleges and universities, they are propagandized about the evils of capitalism and globalization, and the virtues of environmentalism and pacifism. Patriotism is equated with Hiterlism.

The emphasis is mine. Barone goes on to explain the political effects, but I'm interested in their philosophical effects. Barone's observation about the propensity of trustfund kids to join the political Left is also echoed more widely in America, as Kurt Andersen observes about liberal guilt in Manhattan.
Like "radical chic," a related New York specialty, "liberal guilt" once meant feeling discomfort over one’s good fortune in an unjust world. As this last U.S. election cycle began, however, a new subspecies of liberal guilt arose—over the pleasure liberals took in bad news from Iraq, which seemed sure to hurt the administration. But with Bush reelected, any shred of tacit moral rationale is gone. In other words, feel the guilt, and let it be a pang that leads to moral clarity.

With these two pieces, we see then that "liberal guilt" as a phenomenon not only motivates its sufferers search out "morally redeeming" projects, but that it indentures them to their political masters much as feudal oaths of fealty bound vassals to their lords. So when their masters are partisan demagogues, they pour their energies, both financial and intellectual, into wresting power for their masters, regardless of the consequential hypocrisy. The are the poor souls that confuse the Left for liberalism, and must be engaged. Perhaps abolishing that estate tax isn't such a grand idea after all.

[Cross-posted at Between Worlds]