Saturday, December 01, 2001

People Blowing Themselves Up all Over the Place
Remember those 80 prisoners that came out of the basement at that makeshift jail near Mazar-e-Sharif? Well, they've all blown themselves up.
Somebody, somewhere, will try to find a way to blame us for it.
More Bombs, New Tactics
3 bombs went off in Jerusalem, likely killing dozens and injuring more. Apparently, two suicide bombers killed themselves simultaneously, then a car bomb went off as rescue personnel were arriving. That's a new tactic for these particular terrorists.

I was watching CNN as all this was happening, and the anchor asked their man on the ground what kind of sympathy these guys could hope to get from doing this kind of stuff. The man on the scene (Jerrold Kessel, I believe), told him that gaining sympathy isn't their goal, and he's correct. The most basic definition of war is using violent means to make the enemy do your will, and this is exactly what the terrorists are doing in Israel. Unless Israel gives them what they want, they bomb until Israel agrees to their demands. The Palestinian Authority will go by the numbers and condemn these acts, but will also blame Israel for all the trouble, and try to gain Western sympathy for their cause by trotting out the same old grievances in order to pressure Israel to meet their demands. It's a situation that bears a passing resemblance to Northern Ireland. You have the terrorists who bomb stuff and kill people coupled to a "legitimate" political body that on one hand condemns them but also uses their deadly acts to further the cause. As long as terror bombings produce the results they are seeking, then they will continue to use them as an effective tool in negotiations.

We will, of course, hear President Bush and others call on Arafat to get the situation under control. I don't understand why he's even a factor anymore. The Israelis trust him as far as they can throw him, and the Palestinian terrorists think he's sold out. He's as impotent as they come, and even treating him as if he has the slightest influence is foolish. I don't know if there's a permanent solution to all this, but I know that Arafat can't be considered someone who can help bring it about.
Reader Mail

I was pretty harsh in my assessment of Alex Perry's initital reports for Time Magazine, which were related Bob Moran writes:
You wrote: "Either this Perry guy is flat-out lying, got his info from a tertiary source, or somebody in SpecOps is pulling his leg."

It's apparent Perry was reporting about the dead CIA guy. Perry was probably told the man was special forces either because the guys fighting weren't sure or as a cover story to hide the fact that he was CIA. That's just my guess.
You're right about that. It looks to me like there was alot confusion on the ground, and Perry heard rumors from several different people about what had happened. Most of the time, guys in SpecOps don't know what's happening outside their little piece of the action. I can see Perry asking one of these guys what was going on, and the guy pretty much just giving his speculation based on incomplete information that he picked up from radio traffic or from one of his teamates. They probably heard there were Americans dead or wounded inside the compund, and assumed they were soldiers, and this is what Perry reported. It's hard to say.

These types of situations are usually chaotic, and trying to give an account of what's going on during the battle is no mean feat. I was unfair to Mr. Perry in my initial assessment, and I apologize.

Friday, November 30, 2001

Elves at the Gates

We have reports that the North Pole Alliance has surrounded the city of Kensington, MD with plans to be in the city "by Christmas". Santa and his Elfish army are reportedly readying for a drive into the city, flush with new trucks and equipment provided by Kensington defectors within the local Fire Department. It is not yet known whether the Ruling Council will peacefully surrender the town to the Elves, but two families in the town plan to "vigorously protest to the death, or at least until the new episode of Survivor airs". One of the defectors claims that he will personally carry forth the leader of the Elfish Alliance, Santa Claus, into the city regardless of what the Ruling Town Council decides. Mullah Omar Raufaste has stated that if the Elves enter the city, dozens could be made uncomfortable by their presence, and that she will also personally berate anyone found collaborating with the Secular and Commercial Symbol of the Winter Holidays.

Asked if he had any plans for Mullah Omar Raufaste should he liberate the town, Mr. Claus said simply, "I foresee a laser-guided lump of coal finding it's way down her chimney and into whatever passes for a stocking in her house."

In related news, an obscure, impotent, media-whoring international organization that no-one has previously heard of plans to launch a full investigation into several candy-canings that have reportedly taken place by advance forces of the Elfish army already roaming the town.
I Really Want to See You, Lord
Gearge Harrison is dead.
Dammit, They're not Prisoners if they're armed!
I'm sorry, but this kind of stuff really sets me off. In the Independent, there's a story detailing the sequence of events relating to the Prison riot near Mazar-i-Sharif. All throughout the article, the reporter, while providing a good SOE, works from a set of assumptions that have no basis in International Law or reality. I'll quote the summation of the article, as it provides a clear picture of the point the guy was trying to hammer home:
If the accounts of the Northern Alliance soldiers are to be believed, 400 defeated men managed to force the United States into taking part in the massacre of prisoners of war.
Let me repeat this as slowly and as succinctly as possible:

If You Have a Weapon, then you are a combatant.

It doesn't matter if you surrendered or not. Once you have obtained a weapon and are using it, you have ceased being a prisoner, and have become a combatant. You no longer enjoy any special status as outlined in the various War Treaties. These aren't civilian prisoners housed in Sing Sing prison. They were Prisoners of War. Two seperate things. Let me try to explain this clearly:

Civilian prisoners are in a prison to serve time as punishment for crimes they have committed.

Prisoners of War are combatants who have surrendered their weapons and themselves. They are in a prison to keep them out of the war, and to keep them from killing more of your army.

If these Taliban prisoners refused to surrender (again), and kept firing at everyone, then you have no other alternative than to take them down. They have ceased being prisoners of war and have become combatants. I don't care what delusions caused them to revolt, or if the presence of two Americans set them off. It doesn't matter.

Thursday, November 29, 2001

Santa Claus is not Coming to Town
I think the Taliban have escaped to Montgomery County, MD and set up shop on the County Board and the Kensington Town Council. First they wanted to ban smoking in your home, now they've banned Santa from a Chris- er, Holiday Celebration. Rumor has it that the Mullahs in the Town Council will soon introduce measures to ban kite-flying and music.


The Washington Post has picked up on the story, and has even interviewed some of the people involved, including Kensington Mayor Mullah Omar Raufaste:
"This has just snowballed all out of shape... Somebody told me they saw it on CNN, and I said, 'Geez, we've ousted the Taliban!' "
Abroad, but not at home, apparently. More rumors continue to circulate that the Mullahs on the Town Council are now urging their female residents to completely cover up any exposed flesh, as the sight of their smooth, feminine curves could offend some women and make a few uptight men uncomfortable.
Maybe, maybe not
In one of my previous rants, I asked, "Why aren't we working with the Indians?". Well, according to this story, we are...sort of.
Spelling out for the first time the possible scope of the new ties, Admiral Dennis Blair said they could include such areas as combined special operations, joint military training, small unit ground and air exercises and navy personnel exchanges....But he appeared to rule out any kind of far-reaching military alliance with India in the U.S. drive to combat global terrorism. ``We're not looking for a defense treaty. We're looking for cooperation on security matters that serves the interests of both countries,''

We'll see how this one goes. Maybe it is a postive sign. If we continue to work with the Indians and the Russians, we could very well be on the way to having at least a nominal influence in Central Asia. The odd thing in that article was this statement:
India, a former Soviet Cold War ally
And then this one a couple paragraphs down:
critics accuse the government of throwing away India's traditional non-alignment
Um, okay
All that rot...
This Brit thinks that this war is not very sporting. The article's not really worth quoting, as it appears to be the ranting of a very bitter, and apparently half-senile, guy. We're war criminals now, since the blokes on the other side refused to surrender, and we killed them in a very unsportsman-like manner. He then goes off on some non-sensical tirade about WWI....which one was that again...oh yeah, the one with the trench warfare and the suicidal marches into machine-gun fire! Apparently, that's the sporting way to go about war. "Come on, chaps, let's have a jolly good time walking in a straight line towards that deadly hail of automatic fire! For King and Country!"

He assails that war as a foolish and loathsome endeavor where alot of young men lost their lives. No shit, Sherlock. I'm glad you're here to tell us these things. I guess that's what happens when a bunch of looney monarchies decide to fight each other for the hell of it and try to claim as much territory around the globe as possible for their respective Empires.

If nothing else, the commentary's good if you've felt like a bonehead today and need a self-esteem boost. By the way, Some Taliban holdouts in that prison shot up some aid workers today...
Keeping the World Safe for Autocracy:
I'll simply state what I believe American Foreign Policy should be: To promote and foster the growth and development of democracy across the world. Everything we do should reflect this basic vision. We shouldn't go around telling everyone that democracy is the way to go with one hand, but prop-up dictators with the other hand. When the Cold War started, we supported thugs in the interests of containing Communism. Then we supported thugs in the interest of stability and regional security. Now we're supporting thugs in order to fight the war against terrorists. The American government is cozy with the House of Saud in the 90's because they provide us with oil, which has been guarded by our forces for the past ten years against possible invasion by a dictator whom we supported against Iran in the 80's, whose monarchy we supported in the 70's. All of this crap could be avoided if we simply made it our basic policy to promote democracy, and only support and finance those places who've shown themselves amenable to it.

Let's look at the current situation. We are working with a duplicitous dictator in Pakistan, when the world's largest democracy is sitting right to the south of him. Why aren't we working with the Indians? Why aren't we working to strengthen the bonds between our two countries? Why do we prop up yet another thug? Bush also wants our special forces to train the damned Yemenis! He wants to cozy up to, you guessed it, another autocratic regime that a year ago was the site of the U.S.S. Cole bombing. The Yemenis refused to co-operate with our investigators in the aftermath of that terrorist act. They obstructed us at every turn. Sound familiar? It should, since the Saudis did the same damned thing when Khobar Towers was bombed, killing 19 of my fellow airmen.

The only reason I can imagine why our government continues this sort of behavior, is because it honestly believes that by doing these things, we can influence the policies of the dictators with whom we have chosen to do business, and we also get expedient allies in this war against the terrorists. This is madness. What will happen as a result of U.S. Special Forces training? Well, quite a few of these soldiers we train will undoubtedly use their knowledge and experience against us when they join an extremist group dedicated to our destruction. Also, Yemen will be better prepared to counter our forces when it inevitably turns on us in a few years.

President Bush, how about re-dedicating our country to the principals of democracy? Not just here and in Europe, but the world over. Don't pay lip service to it. Put your money where your mouth is. Don't say "freedom was attacked", then cozy up to the enemies of freedom. Promote freedom and democracy, and oppose the enemies of our principles no matter who they are or where they may be. Stop violating the sacred beliefs and principles our country was founded on, and that so many have fought and died for, in the name of security and stability. Such actions not only make us hypocrites to the world, but also betray our Founding Fathers and squander our inheritance.

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

Feminism, Afghan-Style
Oh man, this is rich. Fox News has a report with the headline "Afghanistan's Only Female General Criticizes Western Feminists". Apparently, this lady has a problem with alot of the West's so-called "leading feminists":
Of Hillary Clinton, another supposed advocate, she simply says: "She cannot defend her own rights against her husband. How can she defend the rights of my country?"

It's amazing that a woman half a world away, in a backwater land, can plainly see through Western feminist advocates. Perhaps she realizes that most women's groups are mainly around to push their own political agenda and really don't give a rat's ass about the plight of women around the world unless it benefits them politically at home. It's of very little importance though, as she obviously has more pressing matters of life-and-death to deal with at the moment. On a related note, I find it interesting that it was American military hardware, coupled with an army that embodies the "oppressive patriarchal system", and not all these various domestic and international Women's Rights groups that helped liberate the women of Afghanistan. It wasn't the main objective, of course, but it wouldn't have happened without the forcible removal of the Taliban.
Bureaucratic Bickering:
Long-ass piece in the Washington Post titled Ex-FBI Officials Criticize Tactics On Terrorism. I'm not going to quote the article, since it's just ex-bureaucrats grinding axes, but I do like the lead-in:
Detention of Suspects Not Effective, They Say
Well, there hasn't been another terrorist attack, has there?

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

The most secretive soldiers in the world are talking to Time Magazine...
There's a story at about U.S. and British special forces helping to destroy the remnant of prison rioters in Mazar-i-Sharif. While most of the article is alright, it's this bit that set off my Bullshit Detector:
Clarke reiterated that all U.S. military are accounted for, despite Time magazine correspondent Alex Perry's report Sunday that a U.S. serviceman died in the riots. Perry said U.S. special forces told him one of their men was killed inside the compound and they were trying to extract another serviceman.
So guys who don't even tell their own families what they do for a living, wear beards, and grow their hair out are going to walk up to a reporter and tell him about an ongoing operation? Respect for reporters is low amongst the regular forces, and I would bet that regard for journalists is a great deal lower amongst the special forces, so I'm betting that this is bogus. Either this Perry guy is flat-out lying, got his info from a tertiary source, or somebody in SpecOps is pulling his leg.

Old Skool War:
The Times of London chimes in with a story about the fall of Kunduz. The Northern Alliance had a sporting time getting rid of the foreign Taliban:
There were heavy casualties on both sides, but worse was to come when the Taleban surrendered. Many of the bodies in the streets immediately after the battle had clearly been killed in the fighting, but some appeared to have been savagely beaten and a significant number had been shot in the temple, apparently at close range. “We’re just very good shots,” said one middle-aged Alliance soldier who stood over the body of a youth of about 18. The fighters around him nodded and grinned.
You gotta like a guy who loves his job. But lest you think these were simple barbarians extracting payment for the siege, we offer this testimonial:
The citizens of Konduz, while frightened of the Alliance troops, also appear relieved to be rid of the Taleban. “They were strange people, wicked people,” said Monir Mohammad Hosien, 37, a mechanic whose business went bankrupt when the Islamic militia arrived four years ago — largely because everyone with a car drove away as fast as they could. “We used to see lots of foreigners here, Muslims from all over the world, but we avoided them and they avoided us. We could not avoid the Afghan Taleban though, and they made us miserable because they took away our freedom.”
You'll remember the moral equivocation of the Reuters head who said "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". Also, if you read alot of these stories, the great thread I had talked about earlier begins to reveal itself. Always we hear about Arab Taliban, and how they were the true menace to the citizens of Afghanistan. They were the strictest, the most cruel and barbaric, and the greatest fanatics. I am convinced that Saudi Wahhabism, financed and championed by the corrupt monarchy, is being seeded in many Muslim nations and is largely responsible for the majority of extremist troubles in the Muslim world. Be wary of Arabs selling Paradise.

They don't get Oprah down there:
Hellaciously funny story from the Washington Post about some kids from D.C. who went down to Guatemala on one of those "educational" experiences that some schools offer. Some of the girls got an education down there that I don't think they expected:
It started one night when they and some of the guys were hanging out at a corner liquor store that doubles as a saloon, mostly for men. Wearing tight, skimpy tops and short-shorts into such a place can send the wrong message to locals, who are used to seeing women in ankle-length skirts and high-necked blouses.

As the kids walked out of the saloon, a man patted LaShawn on the rear. She turned and slapped him and punched him in the stomach. The boys, just ahead of her, turned back, fueling a faceoff. There was plenty of menacing, but no punches were thrown. However, Guatemalan police, called by the bar owner and patrons, stopped four of the boys later that night and, brandishing assault weapons, demanded to see their passports.
Woops! Somebody here needs a multi-cultural seminar on respecting the beliefs and attitudes of foreign cultures! Nah, that's just for stuff we don't like.
What they saw, they said, was a case of sexual assault. And they were angry at the adults for seeing the incident in the saloon as anything else.

The adults called yet another meeting.

The girls were unmoved.

"I don't want to be here," Carrie said. "I want to be out of here."

"Me, too," LaShawn said. "What can we do about this? Nothing."
Pure comedy gold! He patted me on the butt! Call the cops! Help, Help I'm being repressed! Don't worry, the adults try to put everything into context.
Guatemala is a country that ended 36 years of civil war only five years ago with a peace accord, Bryan told them. The country has two forms of justice and a history of racism and oppression against the majority indigenous population. The police didn't need excuses to stop the kids. Just being who they are -- black and tall, often talking loudly and walking in a group and sometimes dressed in a way that locals might find provocative -- was enough to make them stand out in Guatemala, the adults said.
Thankfully, we had the adults on hand to break it on down for the kids. See guys, it doesn't matter where you're at, you can still victims of a brutal and oppressive regime no matter where you travel. Now, doesn't that make you feel more at home?
"I ain't no Guatemalan," Clayton replied. "I do not eat tacos off the street." The girls said they wanted no more of the trip; they wanted out as soon as possible. They shrugged off counselors who wanted them to discuss the situation. So the adults escorted them to the airport two days later.
Guess not. I suppose there is something inherently special at being part of a victimized group in America. Don't worry girls. The inevitable juggernaut of American culture and "thought" will inevitably steamroll Guatemala, and you will not have to suffer the psychological trauma of goosings from a sufficiently nuetered male populace anymore. I still would like to see you attend some multi-cultural re-education classes, though. That taco comment could possibly offend 2.3% of the Hispano-Latino population residing in our fair land and should be suppressed.