Saturday, July 30, 2005

Friedman, Reports, Zionism, Africa, Haw, Cole, Taseer, Tancredo, NO Radio

Back from the beach, and will try to get this going some more again.

1) Friedman laid this egg of an op-ed last week. If there were to be a list of "excuse makers," he'd be one of the top candidates for it. One must not forget that it was Friedman who wrote in 2002-03 that several Arab leaders secretly wanted the US to invade Iraq, although they couldn't be named for reasons of domestic political sensitivity. Meanwhile, publicly each and every regional leader was either silent or begging the US to refrain from opening the Pandora's Box which has still not reached its full blowback potential. He's still never named even one of these supposedly supportive leaders, and one doubts whether it was ever true. That, and other things he's written, makes him one of the primary "excuse makers" for the violence inflicted on Iraq.

As for his point about Islamic video games, where was he when a plethora of video games were being sold all over the US portraying ubermensch Rambo types gunning down swarthy fellows in turbans literally by the dozens -- with the children who proved to be good at such games later gamely employed by CentCom do deploy unmanned flying predator assassination devices all over the world? He didn't seem to have any problem with that "hate video." The sort of video game he alludes to was only a matter of time.

Also, note his sources -- the Wall Street Journal, a terrorism "expert," and MEMRI (an Arabic press translation service with rather shady ties to Israeli military intelligence). It would seem that these folks are just talking to themselves, and demand that the rest of us just shut up and consume their vitriol without so much as a defensive cough:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/22/opinion/22friedman.html

July 22, 2005
Giving the Hatemongers
No Place to Hide
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

I wasn't surprised to read that British police officers in white protective suits and blue gloves were combing through the Iqra Learning Center bookstore in Leeds for clues to the 7/7 London bombings. Some of the 7/7 bombers hung out at the bookstore. And I won't be surprised if today's bombers also sampled the literature there.

Iqra not only sold hatemongering Islamist literature, but, according to The Wall Street Journal, was "the sole distributor of Islamgames, a U.S.-based company that makes video games. The video games feature apocalyptic battles between defenders of Islam and opponents. One game, Ummah Defense I, has the world 'finally united under the Banner of Islam' in 2114, until a revolt by disbelievers. The player's goal is to seek out and destroy the disbelievers."

Guess what: words matter. Bookstores matter. Video games matter. But here is our challenge: If the primary terrorism problem we face today can effectively be addressed only by a war of ideas within Islam - a war between life-affirming Muslims against those who want to turn one of the world's great religions into a death cult - what can the rest of us do?

More than just put up walls. We need to shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears. The State Department produces an annual human rights report. Henceforth, it should also produce a quarterly War of Ideas Report, which would focus on those religious leaders and writers who are inciting violence against others.

I would compile it in a nondiscriminatory way. I want the names of the Jewish settler extremists who wrote "Muhammad Is a Pig" on buildings in Gaza right up there with Sheik Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayyis, a Saudi who is imam of Islam's holy mosque in Mecca. According to the Memri translation service, the imam was barred from Canada following "a report about his sermons by Memri that included Al-Sudayyis calling Jews 'the scum of the earth' and 'monkeys and pigs' who should be 'annihilated.' Other enemies of Islam were referred to by Sheik Al-Sudayyis as 'worshipers of the cross' and 'idol-worshiping Hindus' who must be fought."

Sunlight is more important than you think. Those who spread hate do not like to be exposed, noted Yigal Carmon, the founder of Memri, which monitors the Arab-Muslim media. The hate spreaders assume that they are talking only to their own, in their own language, and can get away with murder. When their words are spotlighted, they often feel pressure to retract, defend or explain them.

"Whenever they are exposed, they react the next day," Mr. Carmon said. "No one wants to be exposed in the West as a preacher of hate."

We also need to spotlight the "excuse makers," the former State Department spokesman James Rubin said. After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. When you live in an open society like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow "understandable" is outrageous. "It erases the distinction between legitimate dissent and terrorism," Mr. Rubin said, "and an open society needs to maintain a clear wall between them."

There is no political justification for 9/11, 7/7 or 7/21. As the Middle East expert Stephen P. Cohen put it: "These terrorists are what they do." And what they do is murder.

Finally, we also need to shine a bright light on the "truth tellers." Every week some courageous Arab or Muslim intellectual, cleric or columnist publishes an essay in his or her media calling on fellow Muslims to deal with the cancer in their midst. The truth tellers' words also need to be disseminated globally. "The rulers in these countries have no interest in amplifying the voices of moderates because the moderates often disagree with the rulers as much as they disagree with the extremists," said Husain Haqqani, author of the new book "Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military." "You have to deal us moderates into the game by helping to amplify our voices and exposing the extremists and their amen corner."

Every quarter, the State Department should identify the Top 10 hatemongers, excuse makers and truth tellers in the world. It wouldn't be a cure-all. But it would be a message to the extremists: you are free to say what you want, but we are free to listen, to let the whole world know what you are saying and to protect every free society from hate spreaders like you. Words matter.



2) Response to Friedman's op-ed:

FAIR-LFairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Media analysis, critiques and activism

http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2598

ACTION ALERT:A New Blacklist for "Excuse Makers"Those who think Iraq War sparks terror are "despicable," says Friedman

July 27, 2005

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has urged the U.S. government to create blacklists of condemned political speech--not only by those who advocate violence, but also by those who believe that U.S. government actions may encourage violent reprisals. The latter group, which Friedman called "just one notch less despicable than the terrorists," includes a majority of Americans, according to recent polls.
Friedman's July 22 column proposed that the State Department, in order to "shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears," create a quarterly "War of Ideas Report, which would focus on those religious leaders and writers who are inciting violence against others." But Friedman said the governmental speech monitoring should go beyond those who actually advocate violence, and also include what former State Department spokesperson Jamie Rubin calls "excuse makers."

Friedman wrote:
"After every major terrorist incident, the excuse makers come out to tell us why imperialism, Zionism, colonialism or Iraq explains why the terrorists acted. These excuse makers are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed. When you live in an open society like London, where anyone with a grievance can publish an article, run for office or start a political movement, the notion that blowing up a busload of innocent civilians in response to Iraq is somehow 'understandable' is outrageous. 'It erases the distinction between legitimate dissent and terrorism,' Mr. Rubin said, 'and an open society needs to maintain a clear wall between them.'"

The "despicable" idea that there may be a connection between acts of terrorism and particular policies by Western countries is one that is widely held by the citizens of those countries. Asked by the CNN/Gallup poll on July 7, "Do you think the terrorists attacked London today mostly because Great Britain supports the United States in the war in Iraq?" 56 percent of Americans agreed. In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll (7/7-10/05), 54 percent said "the war with Iraq has made the U.S....less safe from terrorism." Since they see a connection between Iraq and terrorism, a majority of Americans are what Friedman calls "excuse makers" who "deserve to be exposed."

Friedman's column urged the government to create quarterly lists of "hatemongers" and "excuse makers"--as well as "truth tellers," Muslims who agree with Friedman's critique of Islam. Friedman's proposed list of "excuse makers" would have to include his New York Times colleague Bob Herbert, who wrote in his July 25 column, "There is still no indication that the Bush administration recognizes the utter folly of its war in Iraq, which has been like a constant spray of gasoline on the fire of global terrorism."

Leading members of the U.S. intelligence community might also find themselves on such a blacklist, based on a report summarized earlier this year in the Washington Post (1/14/05):

"Iraq has replaced Afghanistan as the training ground for the next generation of 'professionalized' terrorists, according to a report released yesterday by the National Intelligence Council, the CIA director's think tank.... According to the NIC report, Iraq has joined the list of conflicts--including the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, and independence movements in Chechnya, Kashmir, Mindanao in the Philippines, and southern Thailand--that have deepened solidarity among Muslims and helped spread radical Islamic ideology."

Though Friedman calls on the State Department to compile the "Top 10 hatemongers" list in a "nondiscriminatory way," it's doubtful that such a list would, in fact, even-handedly include all advocates of violence. It would not be likely, for example, to include someone like Thomas Friedman, who during the Kosovo War (4/6/99) called on the Clinton administration to "give war a chance," writing, "Let's see what 12 weeks of less than surgical bombing does." In a follow-up column (4/23/99) he declared that "Like it or not, we are at war with the Serbian nation," and insisted that "every power grid, water pipe, bridge, road and war-related factory has to be targeted." Despite the fact that by calling for attacks on civilian targets he was advocating war crimes, Friedman should have no fear that he'll find himself on a State Department list of "hatemongers."

Friedman's suggestion that those who seek to understand or explain political violence are not part of "legitimate dissent" comes at a time when calls for censorship are becoming more and more blatant. Bill O'Reilly (Radio Factor, 6/20/05, cited by Media Matters, 6/22/05) made a chilling call for the criminalization war opponents:

"You must know the difference between dissent from the Iraq War and the war on terror and undermining it. And any American that undermines that war, with our soldiers in the field, or undermines the war on terror, with 3,000 dead on 9/11, is a traitor. Everybody got it? Dissent, fine; undermining, you're a traitor. Got it? So, all those clowns over at the liberal radio network, we could incarcerate them immediately. Will you have that done, please? Send over the FBI and just put them in chains, because they, you know, they're undermining everything and they don't care, couldn't care less."

The call for the arrests of Air America Radio hosts was said as though it were a joke, though O'Reilly is deadly serious when he says that the commentators on that network are "undermining" the war--and that such "undermining" is treason.

O'Reilly more recently (7/25/05) went after Herbert's column that argued that the Iraq War fueled terrorism: "Bob Herbert is most likely helping the terrorists, but his hatred of Mr. Bush blinds him to that. He's not alone, but this kind of stuff has got to stop. We're now fighting for our lives. And those helping the enemy will be brought to your attention."

"Attention," rather than arrests, is all that Friedman has threatened "excuse makers" like Herbert with. But it's a small step, as O'Reilly's rhetoric demonstrates, between marginalizing critics of U.S. foreign policy as "just one notch less despicable than the terrorists"--and criminalizing criticism itself.

ACTION: Please let Thomas Friedman know that opponents of the Iraq War do not deserve to be on a government blacklist--even if they oppose the war because they believe it encourages terrorism.

CONTACT:Thomas Friedmanc/o New York Times Editorial Page
editorial@nytimes.com

As always, please remember that your comments have more impact if you maintain a polite tone.
Read Friedman's column here: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/22/opinion/22friedman.html


3) I call these two reports the bureaucratic equivalent of "putting lipstick on a pig":

July 2005
Department of State Report to Congress on the use of Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Funds
http://www.state.gov/p/nea/rls/rpt/2207/jul2005/

Department of Defense Report to Congress: MeasuringSecurity and Stability in Iraq
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/d20050721secstab.pdf



4) How is this viewpoint not racist? As polite as the writer wants to be, the viewpoint simply is what it is. Also, he's playing with numbers -- the 80/20 population ratio is only true with the population within the State of Israel's 1967 borders. If you expand the territory out to those occupied territories which the state has held since 1967, then the ratio is more like 55-45 -- which is why there are walls, land enclosures, bulldozed homes, etc.:

http://www.jewishjournal.com/home/preview.php?id=14386
2005-07-22
A Solution to Israel’s Demographic Peril
by Larry Derfner

When Israeli Arabs protest that talk of the “demographic threat” is racist, can Israeli Jews blame them? If non-Jewish professors and politicians anywhere on earth spoke of a Jewish demographic threat to their countries, what would Jews call it? What, for that matter, would decent non-Jews call it?

Raising the specter of the Arab demographic threat to Israel is, in fact, racist — if you believe that Zionism is racism, that a Jewish state is a racist state.

I don’t believe that (even while I know there is no shortage of Jews whose Zionism doesn’t amount to anything more than racism). Although the Jewish state by definition “belongs” to the Jews more than it does to its non-Jewish citizens, I don’t consider it a force for racism, but the opposite: Whatever racism exists in Israel, the Jewish state came into being as an answer to racism of a rather larger magnitude — the habit of anti-Semitic oppression.

And however unjust a Jewish state is to its Arab citizens, if Israel stops being a Jewish state it will start being an Arab state, and I think the injustice to the Jews that would result from that is worse than anything Israeli Arabs have to endure.

So I don’t think it’s racist or anti-democratic or unfair to want a Zionist future for this country. And while Zionists are known to argue over what makes a Jewish state, I’d say the absolute minimum, the point every Zionist can agree on, is that it must have a solid Jewish majority.

How much is solid? Eighty percent, the current figure (including the Russian immigrants who think of themselves as Jewish, even if the religion does not), is solid. But I’d say that once the figure drops below 75 percent, which leading demographers predict will happen in about 20 years, the viability of a Jewish state with an Arab minority in the Middle East starts coming into question. And the way things are going demographically, it’s downhill from there.

Obviously, Israeli Arabs, and not just them, take all this in as racism. But as it turns out, the project to solidify Israel’s Jewish majority serves not only the purpose of preserving the Jewish state, but also — despite all the Jewish racists — of protecting the democratic rights of Arab citizens.

There’s no way to avoid it — the more Israeli Jews feel their majority threatened, the more hostile, fearful and punitive they will become toward Israeli Arabs. It can already be felt: in the denial of citizenship to Palestinians marrying Israeli Arabs; in Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s boast that his child welfare cuts brought down the Israeli Arab birthrate; in the growing Jewish majority telling opinion polls that the government should “encourage” Israeli Arabs to emigrate.

None of this would be happening, I don’t think, if the 80 percent Jewish majority were secure; if Israel weren’t inching steadily toward a demographically binational state; if its foundation — its citzenry — weren’t headed for a “tipping point.”

Demography is a dirty business. I don’t like dealing with it. I don’t like knowing that if an Arab friend has a baby, I’m of course happy for him personally, but in the abstract, as a Zionist, as an Israeli thinking about the national interest, I have to say that such a birth is bad news.

This is a miserable state of affairs. And it wouldn’t be if demographic trends showed Israel’s Jewish majority holding at 80 percent, or even a little less, for generations to come. In the name of the national interest, Zionists could celebrate the births of all the Israeli Arab babies just as much as the births of all the Jewish ones. (More than a few Zionists, I’m sure, would still refrain.)

So for the sake of Israel’s Jewish character and democracy, the demographic threat has to be overcome. There have been all sorts of suggestions, some of which are truly malevolent, such as Netanyahu’s stated motive in cutting child welfare, and the idea of encouraging Arab citizens to leave the country — to coerce them into leaving, to bring about “voluntary transfer,” to make Israeli Arabs’ lives so daunting that they will “choose” emigration.

And if these are the only ways to preserve Israel as a Jewish state, then let’s leave it for the Arabs and the Jewish racists and help the decent Jews find a better place to live.

Then there’s the idea of cutting out a heavily Arab section of the Galilee and joining it to a Palestinian state in the West Bank, maybe in exchange for Israel’s annexation of the West Bank settlement blocs.

There are a couple of drawbacks here: One, who wants to give up the heart of the Galilee? Two, the Arab citizens in the Galilee don’t want to become part of Palestine, so you can’t force them. (Incidentally, you can force Jewish citizens out of Gush Katif, because Gaza, unlike the Galilee, doesn’t belong to sovereign Israel.)
A couple of other notions to bolster the Jewish majority involve easing the conversion process for interested gentiles, and pushing aliyah with more enthusiasm and marketing skill among the 5 million to 6 million American Jews. There’s nothing objectionable about either of these ideas, I just don’t think they’re mass-scale solutions. I don’t think they’re going to get enough takers to make a dent in the demographic threat.
So here’s my idea: Secular Israeli Jews have to start making more babies, say one more per family. If the religious also want to have more babies, that’s, of course, just as good, but I mention the secular, because they only have an average of about two children per family, while the religious have more, often many more.
In the pioneering era, when there weren’t that many Jews here, Jewish fertility was an overt Zionist value. Among the secular, it’s long forgotten, and I think it’s time to remember it again.

The biological clock is ticking for the Jewish state — and for its democracy.

Larry Derfner is the Tel Aviv correspondent for The Jewish Journal.



5) It seems like an awful lot of direct intervention in African militaries is going on in the name of anti-terrorism. One wonders what else the Special Forces are up to over there:

U.S. Pushes Anti-Terrorism in AfricaUnder Long-Term Program, Pentagon to Train Soldiers of 9 Nations
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 26, 2005;
http://tinyurl.com/9t7sp

N'DJAMENA, Chad -- The U.S. military is embarking on a long-term push into Africa to counter what it considers growing inroads by al Qaeda and other terrorist networks in poor, lawless and predominantly Muslim expanses of the continent.

The Pentagon plans to train thousands of African troops in battalions equipped for extended desert and border operations and to link the militaries of different countries with secure satellite communications. The initiative, with proposed funding of $500 million over seven years, covers Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, Morocco and Tunisia -- with the U.S. military eager to add Libya if relations improve.
The Pentagon is also assigning more military officers to U.S. embassies in the region, bolstering the gathering and sharing of intelligence, casing out austere landing strips for use in emergencies, and securing greater access and legal protections for U.S. troops through new bilateral agreements.

The thrust into Africa is vital to head off an infiltration by international terrorist groups, according to senior U.S. military, Pentagon and State Department officials. The groups are recruiting hundreds of members in Africa and Europe, attacking local governments and Western interests, and profiting from tribal smuggling routes to obtain arms, cash and hideouts, they say. Meanwhile, small groups of Islamic radicals are moving into Africa from Iraq, where Africans make up about a quarter of the foreign fighters, the officials say.
Foreshadowing a new phase in the war against terrorism, the Pentagon plan is to mobilize Africans to fight and preempt militant groups while only selectively using U.S. troops, who are already taxed by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in mustering African forces, the U.S. military confronts not only a highly elusive enemy across a vast, desolate terrain but also the competing agendas of authoritarian African governments and corrupt and chaotic militaries on the ground.

Training With GI Joes
"Arretez!" yelled Sgt. 1st Class Brian of the U.S. Army Special Forces, waving his arms at a squad of Chadian soldiers bounding over a dirt berm in a windblown stretch of desert south of Chad's capital, N'Djamena.
It was the first mock assault of the morning, and the Chadians, wearing mismatched uniforms, appeared to have forgotten every element of what the Americans had taught them. They were spread out too widely, standing up on the berm instead of crawling low, and their squad leader was omitting crucial orders.
"Tell them to check their men" for wounds, Brian shouted to an interpreter. It was only 7 a.m., but the energetic young Green Beret from Baltimore was exasperated. Citing security risks, the U.S. soldiers spoke on condition that only their first names be used.

Brian and about 1,000 other U.S. troops fanned out into North and West Africa last month for a major exercise to lay the groundwork for the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Initiative, approved this spring. In three weeks of initial training, Brian's team from 10th Special Forces Group and a team from the National Guard's 20th Special Forces Group glimpsed the challenge ahead in Chad, the world's fifth-poorest country and, according to the anti-corruption group Transparency International, the third most corrupt.
"It was like going to Mars," said Sgt. 1st Class Gary, a welder from Utica, N.Y., on the National Guard team.
Green Berets are trained to navigate foreign cultures, but both teams lacked Africa expertise and were short on French and Arabic speakers. Each team was designed to have 12 members, but Gary's had nine men and Brian's had six. They were given the assignment on short notice after the 3rd Special Forces Group, which normally covers Africa, was deployed to Iraq.

They landed in Chad with outdated U.S. military maps that still labeled the current capital, N'Djamena, with its French colonial name, Fort Lamy. To keep from getting lost, Gary fashioned his own crude map by plotting GPS coordinates for stores and gas stations. U.S. soldiers are relative newcomers in Chad, where France has had 1,000 troops and three air bases.

After scouting out the cacophonous, crime-ridden capital, with its Internet cafes and dilapidated French cinemas, the soldiers concluded that it was ripe for terrorists. Worshipers outside the grand mosque denounced the war in Iraq. Booksellers sold Islamic fundamentalist tracts and photocopied images of a girl transformed into a large rat because she threw a Koran, the Islamic holy book, on the floor.
Across the Chari River, youths ran a brisk operation smuggling sugar from Cameroon into N'Djamena markets under the noses of Chadian customs guards.

Arms traffickers move easily across Chad's 3,500 miles of unguarded borders, and airport security is lax, U.S. officials say. "This place is so easy to move through," observed Sgt. 1st Class Jasper, an intelligence soldier with the 10th Special Forces Group team, which will prepare a classified report on its mission.

From N'Djamena, the U.S. troops headed south across the broad, meandering Chari River. Pushing into the desert, they moved into two mud-brick military camps inhabited by livestock and camel spiders as big as a man's fist. There, they found Chadian forces as disorganized as they were ill-equipped. Ranging from 14-year-old boys to men pushing the limits of Chad's male life expectancy, 46 years, some had zero experience and others were combat veterans of Chad's decades-long civil war. They wore everything from Vietnam-era tiger-stripe uniforms to gym clothes, along with flip-flops, boots, dress shoes or no shoes.

Gary's team trained a group of 160 men equipped with 23 AK-47 assault rifles. Some aimed with the wrong eye and fired wildly, but most learned to shoot and clean the guns. Brian's team worked with a more experienced battalion of 200 men outfitted with weapons, radios and 13 Toyota trucks. They appeared enthusiastic but still lacked basic skills. So, the Americans started demonstrating tactics using GI Joe action figures in the sand, until one day the Chadians appeared ready for a platoon-size attack on "the Cardboardians," a row of cardboard torsos set in tires.

"The biggest thing is making sure they don't shoot each other," said Jasper, striding through the brush preparing for a live-fire drill. Nicknamed the Big One by Chadian troops, Jasper, from rural West Virginia, has bushy sideburns and a short fuse. When the Chadians refused to aim their rifles properly, relying instead on what Jasper calls "Kentucky windage," he swore at them and made them back up 100 yards to prove they could not hit their targets.

As the Chadian soldiers loaded their ammunition, small muddy pigs trotted across the makeshift firing range. Sgt. 1st Class Brett, the team engineer, shooed away children from a nearby village who had gathered to scavenge for bullet cartridges.

A squad of Chadian soldiers, crouching low, began moving toward the target. But suddenly, before the signal had been given, a machine gunner on their flank started shooting. His ammunition ran out before the assaulting squad got into position -- leaving them dangerously vulnerable. Jasper shook his head and ordered the squad that misfired to practice again without ammo.

"Bang! Bang! Bang-bang-bang!" the Chadian soldiers shouted.

Jasper, Brian and the rest of the team gathered under the shade of a feathery shamis tree, offering a scathing critique of the morning. "Mistakes happen," Jasper said with a sigh.

Later, a Chadian soldier asked Brian, "Why is the Big One always so angry?"

Conflicting Agendas
A gust whipped a billow of dust across the blistering hot range, and out of nowhere, Lt. Abdullah Issa Djerou whirled into action. After hanging back for weeks during the training, the short, stern-faced Chadian officer suddenly took command, barking orders to a squad of men rushing a target.

Brian cringed behind his sunglasses at Djerou's encroachment on the squad leader's authority. He pulled Djerou aside and advised him to let the squad leader do his job. Djerou is only a lieutenant but serves as the battalion's executive officer -- a mystery to the Americans until they discovered that he belongs to President Idriss Deby's small but powerful ethnic group, the Zagawa.

Grooming effective military leaders is as central to the U.S. mission in Chad as teaching infantry tactics, U.S. officials say. But the job is complicated because Chad's army -- like the rest of the government -- is run top-down by the feared Zagawa tribe.

Indeed, many of the U.S. goals in Chad appear to conflict with the Zagawa leaders' imperative to stay in power. Across the region, some of the governments the U.S. military is working with have embraced counterterrorism as a way to stifle legitimate dissent and Muslim groups, according to reports issued by the International Crisis Group.

The U.S.-trained battalion is commanded by Deby's nephew, Maj. Hardja Idriss, and is part of a regiment assigned to protect an authoritarian and increasingly unpopular president. Deby survived an attempted coup last year, and his grip on power remains fragile. "It just makes sense. They're the president's guard, and so in this region, with all the coups and stuff, you'd want them the best trained," said Capt. Jason, the team leader.
U.S. officials said the battalion is based in N'Djamena to safeguard the government and prevent its vehicles from falling into the hands of regional commanders. The unit has performed limited border patrols, but its stationing inthe capital conflicts with the Pentagon's goal of pushing militaries into "ungoverned spaces" across the Sahara. Moreover, Idriss, the battalion commander, said the unit is not authorized to stop smugglers, although it confiscates hundreds of weapons, mainly from rebel militias.

Chad's leaders maintain that foreign-backed rebels constitute their main terrorist threat, as opposed to the transnational networks of anti-Western Islamic extremists. "When others use you to fight against your country, they are terrorists," Security Minister Abderahman Moussa said in an interview, wearing a silken gold caftan.

Moussa and Chadian army leaders say they fear that Sudan and other countries may be supporting as many as 4,000 anti-government rebels near Chad's volatile eastern border, where makeshift shelters teem with 200,000 Sudanese seeking refuge from government-backed militias and troops in Sudan's western Darfur region. "For a long time, they say they will take over Chad," said Col. Abakar Youssouf Mahamat Itmo, commander of the presidential guard and Deby's cousin.

Yet in subduing opponents, the government and its security forces commit serious human rights abuses, according to U.S. officials and human rights reports. "It's very important for us to remain very, very watchful over this issue of how the military and police respect civilians," said U.S. Ambassador Marc M. Wall. Embassy officials said the United States checks the names of troops it trains against news reports and U.S. government records.

Chadian officers admit the 25,000-member army is ill-disciplined, bloated and corrupt. "There are criminals in his tribe, in the military . . . and they do steal and rape people," said Maj. Soumaine Adam Ahmed, who took military classes in the United States. "The people say: 'Why don't you take a decision against them?' They are very unhappy about that."

'Cardboardian' Adversaries
It was the last day of training, and everyone seemed happy. Jasper was smiling because the mobile target he and Brian had rigged up -- a tin sled mounted with Cardboardian adversaries and dragged by a rope from an SUV -- was working perfectly. The Chadian soldiers were happily blasting the target with machine guns and AK-47s, filling the desert air with the smell of gunpowder -- which made Jason especially happy, because he said he did not want to leave behind any U.S. bullets in Chad.

"They asked us every single day to leave the ammo, but we can't," Jason said. "All I need is a lot number to tie back to U.S. ammo" in the event it is misused.

Dashing down from the berm, the Chadian soldiers clambered into a Toyota truck, hanging on as it lurched and sped off across a desert path.

"Morale! Morale!" they chanted in French, ignoring Brian's warning to make a stealthy retreat.

U.S. and Chadian soldiers acknowledge that although the battalion made good progress in learning basic maneuvers, it remained unable to track international terrorists. The Pentagon plans to supply intelligence on targets and let the Chadians do the fighting, a strategy that has been tested in at least one successful operation.

Squatting under a mim tree, Sgt. Mohamed Nour Abakar, 28, sketched lines in sand moist from a desert rain, describing how he served as one of America's African fighters in a battle against terrorists in March 2004.
"I was between the border of Chad and Libya. . . . It was about 3 p.m.," he said, when his regiment received intelligence from a U.S. Navy surveillance plane on the location of 80 fighters from an Algerian group affiliated with al Qaeda. The fighters, from the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, were wanted for the kidnapping of 32 European tourists in southern Algeria in 2003.

At 6 p.m., about 150 Chadian soldiers first spotted the guerrillas, who were traveling in eight Toyota trucks mounted with heavy machine guns. "We found the Salafists hunting gazelle. When they saw us, they left the gazelle and began to shoot at us with machine guns," Abakar said.

Just then, Abakar recalled, the guerrilla commander hurled an insult -- and an appeal. "You monkeys! We are not your enemy, we are America's enemy," he yelled. "It was our mistake to fire at you, so why are you chasing us? We are all African!"

But the Chadians fought on. They pursued the guerrillas into the hills for two days, killing 28 of them and capturing seven, Abakar said. The Chadians lost 20 men, and Abakar was shot in the chest. "I was about to give up and be a civilian," he said, "but I found out the Americans were coming with new training, so I joined again."

At a closing celebration, the Chadians invited the Americans to a feast of goat stuffed with couscous and washed down with local beer. In a ceremony that followed, Abakar goose-stepped forward, clicked the heels of boots held together with staples, and swirled up his arm in salute. Jasper returned an easy salute.
But it wasn't goodbye: Next month, at an old French commando school north of N'Djamena, they'll be training together again.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company



6) I met this fellow when last in London in May. Real interesting guy, and to be admired:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/antiwar/story/0,12809,1539340,00.html

Error in law saves parliament protester

Clare Dyer, legal editor
Saturday July 30, 2005
The Guardian

An anti-war protester who has maintained a 24-hour-a-day vigil outside parliament for four years can stay because of a mistake in the drafting of a new law designed to stop him and other protesters from demonstrating there. Three judges decided by a 2-1 majority in the high court that legislation brought in to control demonstrations around the Houses of Parliament did not apply to Brian Haw.

Mr Haw's solicitor, David Thomas, said: "It is clearly embarrassing for the government if they intended to catch Brian's demonstration, and that was their position in court. Clearly they drafted the legislation very badly. We are very happy that the court has upheld the very important principle that, if you are legislating for a criminal offence, you have to be absolutely clear about what you are doing."

The new rules state that, from August 1, anyone wanting to demonstrate in the area must have authorisation from the police "when the demonstration starts". Mr Haw's lawyers pointed out that his demonstration had started four years ago and argued that he did not have to apply for authorisation, even though the law was targeted at him....



7) Juan Cole's take on those who say terrorist incidents have nothing to do with Iraq:

www.juancole.com

"I think it would be a mistake to see al-Qaeda as a corporation where the CEO just gives orders to lower-level employees. It is mainly "a way of working," as a London policeman pointed out. It is intended as a model to inspire local groups, and as a global network to encourage them.

But occasionally the top leaders do intervene to order specific attacks, where they still have that organizational capacity. It is entirely possible that both London and Sharm El Sheikh were two instances where they could and did.

The worrisome thing is that al-Qaeda and its affiliates are obviously able to use the increasing anger in the Muslim world over Palestine and Iraq to recruit "newskins", who are not known to intelligence organizations in the countries where they operate.

Strategically, it is increasingly clear that if you wanted to wage a "war on terror," letting Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri alone while you invade and destabilize Iraq and let the Israeli-Palestinian conflict just fester was a very bad idea.

Many commentators are putting out the straw man argument that the Iraq War cannot be blamed for terrorism because September 11 and Bali, e.g., happened before the Iraq War.

This argument is so dishonest that it should make your blood boil when you hear it. No one is alleging that all the instances of radical Muslim terrorism can be traced to the Iraq War. What is being argued is that the Iraq War provided the already-existing terror networks with an enormous propaganda and recruiting windfall. Would Hasib Hussein, who was 14 in 2001, really have agreed to kill himself and 20 others on a London bus if Bush and Blair had acted responsibly and declined to bog the West down in a guerrilla war in the Muslim country of Iraq? What if instead they had captured Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, put $200 billion into rebuilding Afghanistan, and used their enormous diplomatic and military weight to resolved the Israeli-Palestinian and Kashmir issues?"



8) While this interview is compelling, I find the framing of the discussion prior to the interview problematic:

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=6992

Hassan Butt, a 25 year old from Manchester, helped recruit Muslims to fight in Afghanistan. Like most of the London bombers, he is a British Pakistani who journeyed from rootlessness to radical Islam

Aatish Taseer Aatish Taseer is a former "Time" reporter. He is now a freelance journalist

It is not hard to imagine what the Leeds suburb of Beeston was like before it became known that three of London's tube bombers worked or lived there. For someone like me— a Punjabi with parents from each side of the India/Pakistan border—the streets of Beeston reveal a pre-partition mixture of Punjabi Muslims and Sikhs. Despite the commotion caused by half the world's media, men in shalwar kurta (traditional dress from the subcontinent) stand around on street corners chatting as if in a bazaar in Lahore. They oppose Britain's involvement in the Iraq war, they "hate" America, they might even think that the west has united in a fight against Muslims, but these are not the faces of extremism. Their involvement in 7/7 is a generational one: they have raised the people who are the genus of Islamic extremism in this country—the second-generation British Pakistanis.....



9) ILW Statement on Rep. Tancredo:

Nuking Mecca
Rep. Tancredo recently commented that we should nuke Mecca if terrorists who happen to be Muslims nuked a US city. We believe Mr. Tancredo's position is legally and morally flawed. According to the laws of war, the US in such a situation would be justified in retaliating directly against locations where the terrorists are and against the military targets of those countries who aided and abetted these terrorists. Religion cannot provide military or moral justification for a US attack against Mecca or Medina. Although Rep. Tancredo's comments are not criminal, they likely constitute conduct unbecoming a member of the House of Representatives. If the Republican Party decides to take punitive action against Mr. Tancredo, at least three options present themselves: admonishment by the House, admonishment by the House Republican Conference, and most importantly, similiar actions taken by the Colorado State Republican Party, perhaps culminating in revocation of Mr. Tancredo's Republican party membership.

While we make no claim to be experts either in military law or in political procedure for expelling members of a party, the purpose of our comment is the incident's clear connection with immigration policy. Rep. Tancredo's misbehavior represents a golden opportunity for the Republican Party to get rid of one of the main obstacles (Rep. Tancredo) to achieving its goal of a long-term Republican majority in Congress. If the Republican Party chooses to take no action, we suspect that it will be to prevent Rep. Tancredo from gaining even more support from the misguided as a result of punitive efforts against his ill-advised and counter-productive comments.



10) AFL-CIO calls for US withdrawal from Iraq:

News Brief AFL-CIO Passes Resolutions in the Face of Defectionsby Brendan Coyne (bio)

At its annual convention yesterday, the nation’s largest labor organization passed resolutions calling for a greater emphasis on organizing and a quick withdrawal of United States military forces from Iraq, according to news accounts and reports from members attending the event.

As part of a series of resolutions proposed by the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO, delegates to this week’s convention approved the two resolutions Tuesday, and called for an emergency meeting to discuss the departure of two of the Federation’s largest unions.

Labor writer and president emeritus of the National Writers Union Jonathan Tasini first reported that a resolution calling for the US to withdraw troops from Iraq was "rapidly" approved by convention delegates yesterday evening. US Labor Against War (USLAW) released a statement shortly afterward spelling out the terms of the resolution.

The resolution on Iraq was amended on the convention floor to include a call for the "rapid end to the Iraq occupation." In addition, the resolution demanded better veteran’s benefits from the government and expressed solidarity with Iraqi workers, the USLAW statement said. The resolution was nearly identical to one approved by the AFL-CIO executive committee prior to the convention.

The same day the labor federation passed a resolution calling for a renewed commitment to aggressively organizing US workers, according to press accounts. Reuters reports that the vote approved $22.5 million for the next year’s outreach efforts, double what leaders had previously sought.

That vote reportedly came on top of a demand that member unions spend at least 30 percent of their resources on recruiting and mobilizing new members.

According to the Associated Press, convention delegates also approved a measure to hold a meeting on how to deal with Monday’s defection by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Service Employees International Union, who took 3.2 million members with them and cost the Federation about $18 million in annual membership dues.



11) How about that -- it looks like New Orleans now has a Progressive talk radio station, AM 1350. Seems like a version of Radio America...:

http://www.pt1350.com/survey/default.asp

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