Friday, September 12, 2003

New York Post Online Edition: postopinion 

No Final Victory



September 11, 2003 -- TWO years after the 9/11 attacks marked the true beginning of the 21st century, the United States has altered the global strategic landscape. We have taken the fight to our enemies, and now those enemies must fear us far more than we need fear them.
In the War Against Terror, no other power or organization can defeat America.

But America remains dangerously capable of defeating itself.

Our strength is without precedent in the social, cultural, economic, military and moral spheres. But, when faced with determined enemies whose capabilities are no more than the smallest fraction of our own, we reveal two dangerous weaknesses: Impatience, and the profoundly mistaken notion that the absence of a clear-cut victory means that we have been defeated.

There are few flawless victories. Even the Second World War, while incontestably an American and Allied triumph, left Eastern Europe in thrall to the Soviet Union, our Chinese Nationalist allies nearing collapse, and Europe's colonial empires in deadly tumult.

Does any of this mean that WWII wasn't worth fighting? Or that we lost?

The imperfect results of our own Civil War still awaited resolution a century later, in the 1960s. Does that suggest that a Union defeat, leaving slavery intact and our nation permanently divided, would have been a more desirable outcome?

IF the men and women of the 19th century committed the sin of romanticizing war, then we 21st-century Americans are in danger of embracing a new sin, that of rejecting war's complex realities in favor of a reality-TV approach to combat and its aftermath. We seem, at times, to expect war to conform not only to election requirements, but to television broadcasting schedules.

And we'd like a nicely wrapped-up Hollywood ending, thanks. When the battle doesn't end at the top of the hour, or war's aftermath conflicts with the kick-off of the NFL season, our pundits and politicians tell us our efforts have been in vain, our sacrifices misguided.

This intellectual frivolity poses a serious danger. It discounts war's many-layered consequences, while imposing naive and impossible measures of success. The truth is that many aspects of a war's outcome remain obscure for years. Instant judgments of failure - or claims of enduring success - are no more than long-shot bets in the casino of history.

Wars do not necessarily conform to the victor's desires. Outcomes surprise. Results can never be fully anticipated - and imperfect results are the norm. If the winning side achieves most of its goals, it often must compromise on others.

The Second World War in Europe began in defense of Poland's freedom against Nazi tyranny. It ended in a tremendous Allied victory, but left Poland subject to an alternate despotism.

Aims change even in the course of war, as well as in war's aftermath. No one can fully foresee which conditions will prevail at the conclusion of general combat. War is risk - not only the risk faced by the soldier, but the risk of unintended consequences. If every outcome could be foreseen, one side or the other would simply surrender at the outset. Or neither would go to war.

THE impatience and unreasonable expectations of our "opinion-makers" are exacerbated by our "Gotcha!" culture, in which no critic or candidate admits that vast gray areas exist between the extremes of unconditional victory and abject defeat. Indeed, while the Iraqi people had the good fortune to be freed from the Ba'athist regime by American troops, they now suffer the misfortune of liberation in the run-up to a U.S. presidential election.

At present, election politics, both Democratic and Republican, pose a greater danger to a long-term favorable outcome in Iraq than do regime die-hards or international terrorists.

We are in danger of talking ourselves into politically expedient actions, artificial deadlines and an unmerited sense of failure - when we have, in fact, achieved a notable triumph, the immediate results of which are overwhelmingly positive and whose ultimate results, though still undetermined, could have the most positive influence on the Middle East of any events in the last several centuries.

Democratic presidential aspirants insist that our success is really failure, clinging perversely to each bit of bad news and belittling all signs of progress. The Republican administration, too, has begun to appear more concerned about the coming election than about Iraq's real needs, anxious to achieve the appearance of success and of costs contained, even if the penalty is to undercut the progress we have thus far achieved.

IF Democrats and Republicans alike fail to recognize the stakes in Iraq, we may, indeed, maneuver ourselves into failure. If our problems, at home and abroad, seem larger and larger, it's merely an optical illusion created because our political leaders, on both sides of the aisle, have grown smaller and smaller.

We need to return to our bipartisan tradition of supporting the president's foreign policy initiatives in wartime. And make no mistake: We are, and will remain, at war. Our enemies are not Democrats or Republicans, but terrorists and butchers. It would serve us well were our political leaders to remember that.

Iraq is only one campaign in the greater War Against Terror - although it is, indeed, an important stage in that war. Those who insist on seeing Islamic terrorism as a limited problem to be dealt with in detail, rather than as the most dangerous contemporary threat in a long struggle between freedom and oppression, are engaged in wishful thinking.

9/11 wasn't so much a matter of Osama bin Laden's success as of the failure of Middle Eastern civilization.

ISLAMIC terrorism isn't a problem that can be isolated from its welcoming environment. By default, we have become the wardens of a strategic madhouse, the decayed domains of Middle Eastern Islam. The terror that we face isn't merely the product of a few misguided souls, but of a miscreant civilization. Of course, our enemies insist, as madmen will, that we, not they, are criminally insane.

If that dying civilization cannot heal itself - with or without our help - there will be no end to terror. In the meantime, we have no choice but to deal with the terrorists confronting us. In Iraq. Or wherever else we may find them.

With the over-reported rush of events in Iraq, a substantial but vocal minority of Americans have lost their perspective, focusing on tactical problems, rather than on our strategic advances. But the challenges that seem so great in Iraq today are transient in nature, requiring only strength of will and adequate resources to be overcome.

The overarching War Against Terror is another matter. Far greater dangers lie ahead than a few car bombs in Baghdad.

Although we will win on many battlefields, we shall never see a final victory over terror in our lifetimes. It isn't in the nature of this war.

No matter how effectively we fight terror, a few terrorists will slip through to harm Americans. Inevitably, there will be additional terrorist attacks on American soil. When those attacks occur, we will be told that the War Against Terror has failed - as we are now told that the war in Iraq has failed.

Such claims will be nonsense. If our government stops 499 terrorists, but number 500 gets through, it doesn't mean there was no value in stopping all the others. In this fight, we will win the overwhelming majority of victories, large and small. But the enemy will manage, sooner or later, to get in a few more blows of his own.

THE War Against Terror is much closer in nature to fighting crime, if on an unprecedented scale, than to traditional wars - although such wars will continue to be necessary to eliminate terrorist havens and sources of support.

No reader expects crime to be eliminated entirely - our goal is and has always been to reduce crime to a minimum. Terrorism - the ultimate criminal endeavor - will never be fully vanquished, either. Our purpose must be to limit its impact on our freedom and well-being to the greatest degree possible.

And as with criminals, it is always better to fight the terrorists on their home ground, rather than in law-abiding neighborhoods. The terrorist attacks we face in Iraq today are preferable to attacks in Manhattan or Miami. We have not created new enemies, but only drawn out those whose existence had been hidden from us.

Far from a provocation, the presence of our troops in the Middle East is an indispensable manifestation of our strength and resolve - as well as our most effective tool for killing terrorists.

Instead of imposing artificial time limits on ourselves, we need to recognize the timeless nature of our enemies.

On this second anniversary of 9/11, we should set aside our partisan bickering, our personal resentments and prejudices, and recognize that our government has done a remarkable job since that tragic day. We have been kept safe, despite the fury of the terrorists at the damage we have, repeatedly, inflicted upon them.

Every day without a terrorist attack on our country or its citizens is a triumph, but the struggle must be renewed each day, one second after midnight. If we insist on setting unrealistic goals, we will defeat ourselves. You cannot fight terrorism with a stopwatch, and you can't fight it on the cheap.

Iraq will never become Iowa - our goal should be a better, if still imperfect, Iraq. Afghanistan will always remain Afghanistan. It is enough if it is a somewhat-improved country, less dangerous to us and less oppressive to its citizens. By such rational measures, we already have achieved notable victories.

DESPAIR is the preferred narcotic of the intellectual classes. The rest of us must stand up for what we know in our hearts and souls to be right and true. Our cause is just. Our efforts in this great, global war have been admirably successful. Our soldiers have kept us safe and made us proud. We owe them unity, not divisiveness.

No power on this earth can defeat us, unless we defeat ourselves.

Ralph Peters' next book, "Beyond Baghdad: Postmodern War and Peace," will be released Oct. 1.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

All AgitProp, all the Time... 

Sept. 10 -- Via Paul, this links to a well-documented post debunks the Allende myth.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Text of proposed U.N. resolution on Iraq 

Sept. 4 -- Much as I may complain about CNN (who me?) at least they provide the texts of important speeches and UN resolutions. (The following is just the text, so I'm not going to block it, but anyone who would kindly explain item 18 would have my eternal respect.)

The Security Council,

Reaffirming its previous resolutions on Iraq, including resolution 1483 (2003) of 22 May 2003 and 1500 (2003) of 14 August 2003, and on threats to peace and security caused by terrorist acts, including resolution 1373 (2001) and other relevant resolutions,

Reaffirming the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq,

Cognizant that the bombing of the Embassy of Jordan on August 7, 2003, the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003, and the bombing of the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf on 29 August 2003, are attacks on the people of Iraq, the UN and the international community,

Recalling, in that context, the Presidential Statement of 21 August 2003 (S/PRST/2003/13),

Recognizing that international support for restoration of conditions of stability and security is essential to the well being of the people of Iraq, as well as to the ability of all concerned to carry out their work on behalf of the people of Iraq,

Welcoming the decision of the Governing Council of Iraq to form a preparatory constitutional committee to form a constitutional conference that will draft a constitution to embody the aspirations of the Iraqi people,

Determining that the situation in Iraq, although improved, continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security,

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations,

1. Expresses deep sympathy and condolences for the personal losses suffered by the Iraqi people and by the United Nations and the families of those United Nations personnel and other innocent victims who were killed or injured in these tragic attacks;

2. Unequivocally condemns the bombing of the Embassy of Jordan on August 7, 2003, the terrorist attack on United Nations headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003, and the bombing of the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf on 29 August 2003, and emphasizes that those responsible must be brought to justice;

3. Reaffirms its resolve that the United Nations, acting through the Secretary General, his Special Representative, and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, should play a vital role in Iraq, as set out in relevant paragraphs of resolutions 1483 (2003) and 1500 (2003), including by providing humanitarian relief, promoting the economic reconstruction of and conditions for sustainable development in Iraq, and advancing efforts to restore and establish national and local institutions for representative governance;

4. Welcomes the positive response of the international community, in particular that of Member States of the region, to the establishment of the broadly representative Governing Council as an important step towards an internationally recognized, representative government, endorses the Governing Council as the principal body of the Iraqi interim administration, and supports the Governing Council's efforts to mobilize the people of Iraq, including by the appointment of a cabinet of ministers;

5. Calls upon countries in the region, particularly neighbors of Iraq to respect Iraq's unity, territorial integrity, and security, and to prevent the transit of terrorists to Iraq, arms for terrorists, and financing that would support terrorists.

6. Invites the Governing Council to provide in cooperation with the Authority operating in Iraq and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General a timetable and program for the drafting of a new constitution for Iraq and for the holding of democratic elections;

7. Welcomes, pursuant to the report of the Secretary General of 15 July 2003 and the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq as endorsed in resolution 1500 (2003), that the Special Representative will, inter alia, focus on the facilitation of national dialogue and consensus-building on the political transition process, the establishment of electoral processes, and assisting the Iraqi interim administration to rejoin the international community;

8. Requests the Secretary General to ensure that the resources of the United Nations and associated organizations are available, if requested by the Iraqi Governing Council, to help establish an electoral process in Iraq in furtherance of the program proposed by the Governing Council in paragraph six above, and encourages other organizations with expertise in this area to support the Iraqi Governing Council, if requested;

9. Welcomes the report of the Secretary General (S/2003/715), dated 17 July 2003, and requests that he continue his efforts to have the United Nations contribute to the improvement of the situation in Iraq in accordance with resolution 1433 (2003);

10. Determines that the provision of security and stability is essential to the successful completion of the political process as outlined in paragraph six above and to the ability of the United Nations to contribute effectively to that process and the implementation, of resolution 1483 (2003), authorizes a multinational force, under unified command to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq and urges Member States to contribute assistance, including military forces, to that effort;

11. Notes that such forces as defined in paragraph ten above would, inter =, contribute to the security of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, the institutions of the Iraqi interim authority, including the Governing Council of Iraq, and key humanitarian and economic infrastructure;

12. Emphasizes the importance of establishing an effective Iraqi police force in maintaining security and combating terrorism consistent with paragraph four of resolution 1483, calls upon Member States and international and regional organizations to contribute to the training and equipping of Iraqi police;

13. Appeals to the international financial institutions to remain engaged in Iraq to assist the people of Iraq in the reconstruction and development of their economy, and calls upon those institutions to take immediate steps to provide their full range of loans and other financial assistance to Iraq, working with the Governing Council as the principal body of the Iraqi interim administration;

14. Urges Member States and international and regional organizations to accelerate the provision of substantial financial contributions to support the Iraq reconstruction effort initiated at the 24 June 2003 United Nations Technical Consultations, including substantial pledges at the 23-24 October 2003 international Donors Conference in Madrid;

15. Calls upon Member States and concerned organizations to help meet the needs of the Iraqi people by providing resources necessary for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Iraq's economic infrastructure;

16. Reminds all Member States of their obligations under resolution 1483 (2003) immediately to identify and cause the transfer of all funds or other financial assets or economic resources covered by paragraph 23 of that resolution, including those Iraqi assets that may have been previously frozen, to the Development Fund for Iraq for the benefit of the Iraqi people;

17. Requests that the United States, on behalf of all Member States participating in the multinational force as outlined in paragraph ten above, report to the Security Council on the efforts and progress of this force as appropriate and not less than every six months;

18. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

The latest UN Resolution 

Sept. 4 -- From the Opinion Journal
As a matter of strategy, President Bush's decision to seek another U.N. resolution for rebuilding Iraq may well make sense. But the commander in chief should also note how his adversaries are portraying this move as a sign that both he and the U.S. are on the run.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi could barely contain her glee: "a welcome admission that the current policy is not realistic and not sustainable." Republican Senator Chuck Hagel lectured the President that he's now going to have to turn over large chunks of authority to other countries, while at the U.N. the French and Russians are angling to take up that offer. In Saddam Hussein's bunker, they doubtless see this as the first step toward Somalia or Lebanon redux.

This is not of course how Mr. Bush is portraying the move. White House spokesman Scott McClellan yesterday said that some countries, such as India, need a U.N. imprimatur before they dispatch troops to Iraq. Mr. Bush wants to provide that fig leaf--our words, not Mr. McClellan's--but the current coalition will retain civilian and military control in Baghdad.

If this is how it all works out, the inevitable U.N. wrangling may well be worth it. America's 140,000 troops in Iraq are clearly doing jobs of police work and guard duty that they weren't trained for and that leave them vulnerable to attack. With their discipline, firepower and mobility, they would be better deployed pursuing Saddam and his Baath Party remnants.

The right kind of non-U.S. forces could help stabilize the country more quickly. A division of Turks, for example, could slow terrorist incursions along the Iraq-Syria border. A brigade or two of Indians could relieve the U.S. Army around key points in Baghdad as well. Several thousand Dutch, Polish, Italian and other European troops are already doing such work in the Shia-majority areas in the center of Iraq. A similar U.S.-dominated U.N. force fought the Korean War 50 years ago, and there's no reason that model can't work in Iraq.

That assumes, however, that the price of the U.N.'s blessing isn't too high. Our friends the French will want a piece of the oil business they had under Saddam, and they'd also like a say anointing any new Iraqi government. After everything the French did to stop the liberation of Iraq, we suspect more than a few Iraqis would consider this a betrayal.

"Control" of post-Saddam Iraq is also a practical issue about strategy: Diffuse responsibility is a recipe for indecision and an even slower reconstruction. The U.S. and the new Iraqi Governing Council both want to de-Baathify the country and put war criminals on trial. But the French and Russians are likely to object to both policies. If they insist on gaining influence in Baghdad as the price of a new U.N. resolution, Mr. Bush will have to risk their veto.

All the more so because the long run answer to rebuilding Iraq lies with Iraqis themselves. Mr. Bush would be much further along in rebuilding Iraq had he taken the advice of his Pentagon advisers and recruited more Iraqi allies well before the war. Now in a scramble to catch up, the U.S. is sending Iraqis for military training to the same place in Hungary that we sent the Free Iraqi Forces that we disbanded after the war.

The strange hostility to enlisting Iraqis exists on both the left and right. On the left, it seems rooted in a belief that Arabs will never be able to govern themselves; they need the U.N. to midwife the next strongman to keep all of the religious crazies in line.

Among some on the right, meanwhile, the preference is to send more American troops to Iraq. This seems intended to prove a long-time point that the U.S. needs a larger standing Army and a bigger Defense budget. But this was also the Westmoreland strategy during Vietnam, the illusion that just another 100,000 Yanks on the ground can pacify the country. Perhaps they'll also call for "search and destroy" missions. A million Marines won't be enough if the Iraqi people aren't on our side.

The guerrilla war the U.S. is now fighting in Iraq is winnable, notwithstanding the current media pessimism. The terrorists have to be denied foreign aid and sanctuary. Better intelligence, which can only come from Iraqis, will be needed to ferret out the Baathists and jihadis. Above all, Iraqis themselves will have to begin taking responsibility for keeping the power on and maintaining order--in short, for governing themselves.

The paradox is that this will all be easier the more determined America is to stay as long as it takes to succeed. Mr. Bush has made that pledge many times, most recently last week. But the world also watches America's political debates and it remembers Saigon, Mogadishu and Beirut. We'd like to hear the President explain that his new U.N. strategy is about strengthening America's commitment to victory in Iraq, not the first step toward walking away.

(Via On the Third Hand.

From Baghdad to Bin Laden 

Sept. 4 -- Support Our Troops by Paul Wolfowitz is inspiring:
When terrorists exploded a bomb outside a shrine in Najaf last week, they killed scores of Muslims who had gathered for prayers--including one of Iraq's foremost Shiite leaders, who had been playing a key role in stabilizing post-Saddam Iraq. Similarly, when a bomb detonated in the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad recently, those killed and injured were innocent men and women--including Iraqis--who were engaged in the humanitarian mission of rebuilding Iraq.

But those victims weren't the only targets. Terrorists were aiming a blow at something they hate even more--the prospect of a country freed from their control and moving to become an Iraq of, by, and for the Iraqi people. Terrorists recognize that Iraq is on a course towards self-government that is irreversible and, once achieved, will be an example to all in the Muslim world who desire freedom, pointing a way out of the hopelessness that the extremists feed on. And so, they test our will, the will of the Iraqi people, and the will of the civilized world.

While we can't yet fix blame for this most recent act of terrorism, we do know this: Despite their differences, the criminal remnants of Saddam's sadistic regime share a common goal with foreign terrorists--to bring about the failure of Iraqi reconstruction and take the country back to the sort of tyrannical prison from which it has just been freed. The recent broadcast of a taped message by an alleged al Qaeda spokesman offered congratulations to "our brothers in Iraq for their valiant struggle against the occupation, which we support and urge them to continue."

Anyone who thinks that the battle in Iraq is a distraction from the war on terror should tell it to the Marines of the 1st Marine Division who comprised the eastern flank of the force that fought its way to Baghdad last April. When I met recently with their commander, Maj. General Jim Mattis in Hillah, he said that the two groups who fought most aggressively during the major combat operations were the Fedayeen Saddam--homegrown thugs with a cult-like attachment to Saddam--and foreign fighters, principally from other Arab countries. The exit card found in the passport of one of these foreigners even stated that the purpose of his "visit" to Iraq was to "volunteer for jihad."

We face that poisonous mixture of former regime loyalists and foreign fighters today.

Even before the bombing of the U.N. headquarters, if you'd asked Gen. Mattis and his Marines, there was no question in their minds that the battle they wage--the battle to secure the peace in Iraq--is now the central battle in the war on terrorism. It's the same with the commander of the Army's 1st Armored Division, Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who recently described that second group as "international terrorists or extremists who see this as the Super Bowl." They're going to Iraq, he said, "to take part in something they think will advance their cause." He added, "They're wrong, of course." Among the hundreds of enemy that we have captured in the last months are more than 200 foreign terrorists who came to Iraq to kill Americans and Iraqis and to do everything they can to prevent a free and successful Iraq from emerging. They must be defeated--and they will be.

Our regional commander, Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command, echoed Gen. Dempsey, placing in larger perspective the battle in Iraq. He said, "The whole difficulty in the global war on terrorism is that this is a phenomenon without borders. And the heart of the problem is in this particular region, and the heart of the region happens to be Iraq. If we can't be successful here, we won't be successful in the global war on terrorism." Success in Iraq will not be easy. According to Gen. Abizaid, it will be long, hard and sometimes bloody; but "it is a chance, when you combine it with initiatives in the Arab/Israeli theater and initiatives elsewhere, to make life better, to bring peace to an area where people are very, very talented and resources are abundant, especially here in Iraq."

Foreign terrorists who go to Iraq to kill Americans understand this: If killing Americans leads to our defeat and the restoration of the old regime, they would score an enormous strategic victory for terrorism--and for the forces of oppression and intolerance, rage and despair, hatred and revenge. Iraqis understand this. Alongside us, they are working hard to fight the forces of anger and hopelessness and to seize this historic opportunity to move their country forward.

Just as in the Cold War, holding the line in Berlin and Korea was not just about those places alone. It was about the resolve of the free world. Once that resolve was made clear to the Soviets, communism eventually collapsed. The same thing will happen to terrorism--and to all those who have attempted to hijack Islam and threaten America and the rest of the free world, which now includes Iraq. They will see our resolve and the resolve of the free world. Then they, too, will take their place on the ash heap of history.

America's troops and our coalition partners are determined to win--and they will win, if we continue to give them the moral and material support they need to do the job. As the president said recently, our forces are on the offensive. And as Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Keane said in congressional testimony, "They bring the values of the American people to this conflict. They understand firmness, they understand determination. But they also understand compassion. Those values are on display every day as they switch from dealing with an enemy to taking care of a family."

I saw the troops in Iraq, and Gen. Keane is absolutely right. I can tell you that they, above all, understand the war they are fighting. They understand the stakes involved. And they will not be deterred from their mission by desperate acts of a dying regime or ideology.

Not long ago, a woman named Christy Ferer traveled to Iraq along with the USO. She'd lost her husband Neil Levin at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, and she wanted to say thank you to the troops in Baghdad. She wrote a wonderful piece about her trip, and in it, she wondered why our soldiers would want to see her, when they could see the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, movie stars and a model. When the soldiers heard that a trio of Sept. 11 family members were there, she found out why.

Young men and women from across America rushed to the trio, eager to touch them and talk to them. One soldier, a mother of two, told Christy she'd enlisted because of Sept. 11. Another soldier displayed the metal bracelet he wore, engraved with the name of a victim of 9/11. Others came forward with memorabilia from the World Trade Center they carried with them into Baghdad. And when it was Christy's turn to present Gen. Tommy Franks with a piece of steel recovered from the Trade Towers, she saw this great soldier's eyes well up with tears. Then, she watched as they streamed down his face on center stage before 4,000 troops.

To those who think the battle in Iraq is a distraction from the global war against terrorism . . . tell that to our troops.
Mr. Wolfowitz is deputy secretary of defense.

War on Terror 

Sept. 5 (AU) -- New revelations in the trial of Abu Dahdah, the suspected leader of al Qaeda in Spain, connect him with Australia's terror web as a former baggage handler for Quantas Airline, Bilal Khazal, who had denied ever knowing or communicating with the terror chief, was implicated.
THE Sydney man alleged to be a key contact of Abu Dahdah, the suspected leader of al-Qaeda in Spain, telephoned him seeking help to move a "brother" and his family throughout Europe, documents tendered in Mr Dahdah's terrorism trial reveal.

The allegation contradicts claims by former Qantas baggage handler Bilal Khazal that he had never spoken to the alleged terror chief, or even knew who he was.

As more details of a network of alleged terror supporters in Australia emerged yesterday, it has been claimed a second Australian named in the Spanish court documents, Melbourne cleric Sheikh Mohammed Omran, was at one time familiar with the identical twins who ran Jemaah Islamiah in Australia.

And one of two Australian suspects imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Mamdouh Habib, is claimed to have helped a Dutch man since charged with terrorism, Murat Ofkeli, while he was in Australia raising funds for an unnamed foreign charity.

The allegations cast new light on Australia's emerging strategic importance in the loose global terror alliance.

Mr Dahdah is accused of having close links to Mohammed Atta, the chief hijacker in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Based on a summary of the documents tendered in Mr Dahdah's Spanish case, which have been publicly accessible in a Madrid court for almost two years, the Australian Federal Police this week asked Spain for access to Mr Dahdah in an effort to gather more evidence about the two Australians he is alleged to have befriended.

They claim the man Mr Khazal allegedly wanted to help had already been rejected for entry into Italy, with officials stamping his passport so he could not try again.

The documents say Mr Dahdah complied with Mr Khazal's request, eventually putting him up in a small hotel when he arrived with his family in Madrid.

Neil Fergus of Intelligent Risks, who has studied the court documents, said Mr Khazal needed to explain his connection to Mr Dahdah.

Mr Khazal was maintaining his silence yesterday. However, the other Australian named in the documents, Sheikh Omran, denied he had ever been in contact with Mr Dahdah, or had been contacted by police or ASIO.

According to a JI source, Sheik Omran was at one time familiar with former Australian JI chiefs Abdul Rahim Ayub and Abdul Rahman Ayub.

The Australian has been told Sheikh Omran, who is known as Abu Aman in Muslim circles, owned a property in a semi-rural area of Mundijong, south of Perth, several years ago. He was connected to a mosque in Maylands, in the city's eastern suburbs.

Sheikh Omran yesterday denied he knew the twins.

He said he had travelled to Perth, but had never been involved with any terrorist during his trips there, or to Spain and elsewhere.

"Why would I go to Spain when I can go next door to Afghanistan - it doesn't make sense," he said outside his home at Coburg, in Melbourne's north.

"The people always like to make such stories but these allegations have no basis in fact. I am not in contact with (al-Qaeda) or (Mr Dahdah)."

Sheikh Omran denied he had been interviewed by federal police and said he had been cleared of any wrong-doing during the two years the allegations had been made public.

"The police know everything about our organisation," he said. "It is a teacher organisation, nothing more."

A spokesperson for Prime Minister John Howard said: "The AFP started this request through the Commonwealth DPP and the Attorney General's Department on August 22. Translation was required and a formal request was made on September 2."

Mr Khazal is also known by the alias Abu Suhaib, and his telephone links to Mr Dahdah were spelled out in court transcripts made public shortly after the September 11 attacks.

ASIO and the Australian Federal Police have monitored the movements of Sheikh Omran and Mr Khazal for the past three years but have paid far more attention to the latter, suspecting him of many links to terror sympathisers around the world.

Of the 65 individuals the AFP has admitted to monitoring on suspicions of links to terrorism, fewer than 10 are given what officers call "the full treatment" - around-the-clock scrutiny, including of their movements and financial details.

According to the JI source, one or both of Abdul Rahim Ayub and Abdul Rahman Ayub used to visit the sheikh regularly. However, the source could not specify whether the contacts were anything more than friendly visits.

Rahim Ayub, the leader of JI's Mantiqi 4 cell, slipped out of Australia in the weeks before authorities raided his home following the Bali bombings last October.

Rahman Ayub, who built al-Qaeda connections during five years fighting in Afghanistan, was deported from Australia about two years ago after failing to gain residency.

Both of the brothers are wanted for questioning over their roles in JI.

Berlusconi Gets It 

Sept. 4 -- Interesting that on a day when many countries are weighing in on the proposed resolution to the UN calling for more involvement in Iraq that one world leader speaks out on the nature of the United Nations itself: UN should fight for rights, says Berlusconi:
The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, believes the United Nations should intervene militarily wherever dictatorships abuse human rights.

He delivers a passionate defence of America's intervention in Iraq in an interview in today's Spectator magazine in which he suggests it should mark the start of an era in which a "community of democracies" intervenes in the internal affairs of countries ruled by despots.

Mr Berlusconi said he told President George W Bush during an informal chat in the margins of last June's G8 summit in Evian that the concept of "liberty" that emerged enhanced from the ashes of the September 11 attack should become a guiding light for the world's democracies.

"I said, given the enormous and paradoxical success of fundamentalism, why don't we reform the UN? Let us say to Mr X or Y in this or that dictatorship, you must recognise human rights in your country and we give you six to 12 months to do so, or else we intervene.

"We can do this now because there is no countervailing power," he said referring to the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union.

"We are able, with Russia and America, to look at the states of the world and assess the dignity of the people and we give them democracy and liberty. Yes! By force if necessary, because that is the only way to show it is not a joke. We said to Saddam, do it or we come. And we came and we did it."

A spokesman for Mr Berlusconi said the prime minister had been telephoned recently by Col Gaddafi of Libya, who said: "I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid."

Mr Berlusconi said Europe needed to spend more on defence to participate fully with America in creating a new world order based on freedom and democracy.

He said that while Italy might have had "many doubts" about the American intervention in Iraq, it came out in support when "we saw that America and Britain, our traditional allies" were determined to proceed.

He said he was convinced that Saddam had either hidden, exported or destroyed his weapons of mass destruction, as any leader would have done if faced with the immediate prospect of invasion by an unbeatable foreign power.
This is the kind of dialogue that many of us have hoped would come out of the decision to effect regime change in Iraq. The UN is a institution created by humans, so it can be changed or even disbanded.

Just sayin' 

Sept. 4 -- Some interesting information about how Canada deals with countries that have cases of BSE (mad-cow disease) by Lucia Corbella of The Calgary Sun (quick-death link):
If Canada were forced to live by the rules it imposes on others, our beef wouldn't be finding its way across the U.S. and Mexican borders right now.

No, if the tables were turned, we would be sounding an awful lot like Japan right about now.

Now, I am not on the Japanese government's payroll.

And while it's true I'm addicted to sushi, I have no reason to defend the Japanese ban on Canadian beef ... except, well that it makes perfect sense from the Japanese perspective.

Yesterday, two callers were highly critical of Japan's ban on our beef.

This has been going on for weeks now. How dare those cocky so-and-sos ban our beauteous beef.

Who do they think they are? Canadians?

By the time I filled these callers in on some of the facts they had a bigger beef with Canada than Japan.

As for the Americans, here's a fact that's going to floor all of you anti-Americans who constantly blame the now loosening U.S. beef ban on protectionism.

According to Ian Thomson, director of Western Hemispheric Trade Policy with Agriculture Canada, when it comes to mad cow and how we're being treated, by the U.S. and Mexico, we've hit the lotto jackpot.

"The U.S. and Mexico are the first countries ever to accept beef from a BSE infected country," said Thomson yesterday, who was in Calgary from Ottawa attending the Beef Value Chain Roundtable at the Radisson Hotel.

Kind of deflates the sails of all of those blustering about U.S. protectionism and unfair trading practices, doesn't it?

"And," adds Thomson, the Aug. 8 partial lifting of the ban on our beef, which allows most muscle cuts of Canadian beef into the U.S. and Mexico, "happened within 80 days.

"When you consider that every other BSE infected country is ineligible for export to the U.S. or to Canada or indeed to other BSE-free countries, this is a quantum leap in terms of a change in attitude and thinking as to how we should approach BSE," says Thomson.

He says Agriculture Canada "believes there should be some thought given to differentiating between low-incident countries such as our own versus countries where the disease is endemic like the U.K. with thousands of cases."

At this point, he adds, "there isn't much differentiation -- you've either got it or you don't."

That's certainly been Canada's opinion until it became a victim of that same opinion. And Japan has been a victim of that opinion, which Canada has held until recently.

When asked if we allow imports of Japanese beef, Thomson said no.

"We don't accept beef from any BSE- infected country," high incidence or not.

That, folks, is called hypocrisy.

So, here in Alberta we've been butchering Japan in the press but, if the very same circumstances Canada faces affected another country, we've demonstrated that we'd slam the border shut against their beef before you could say, "Quarter Pounder with Cheese, please."

Japan's first case of mad cow disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, was confirmed in Sept. 2001.

In total, seven Holsteins have been confirmed as having the brain-wasting illness.

To combat a 60% drop in beef consumption in Japan, the Japanese government has put in the most rigorous testing program in the world.

Every single head of cattle is tested for BSE before it winds up on anyone's plate.

What of Alberta -- which supplies 70% of Canada's beef?

Last year it tested a paltry 849 cattle for the disease. It has since announced that it plans to test up to 25,000 animals per year in the future, still a drop in the bucket compared to Japan.

I have no fear whatsoever about our beef, but the Japanese do. Their reaction to seven cases in Japan in two years proves that, but that's their prerogative and until it happened to us, it was ours too.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Is your kid a bobble-head student? 

I've been laughing at the TV news most of the morning; what is this "crying when your kids head back to school" stuff? I was so damned proud of my kids and that they were "venturing forth to embrace the adventure of learning" and so relieved when the last one graduated from high school and out of the clutches of the various unions that made their school years a living hell of uncertainty.

The younger in particular is so cynical about education, and laughs in the face of the teachers' unions claims of "caring" (intentional death quotes) because he knows they don't really give a damned about education or why would they have disrupted every single school year with their strikes and demands for more money and less work?

I had my share of confrontations with teachers; it seemed to piss as many of them off as were pleased that my kids could read and do their figures before they started school and even knew how to go to the library to learn things; one teacher got annoyed because I helped my youngest learn to divide fractions but not with the approved method so I explained very calmly that I understood that she was jealous that I had managed to teach where she had failed, but she needed to recognize that a variety of methods was necessary because pupils were different.

That teacher probably scans the obits every day hoping to find my name.

It's a good feeling to stand up in defense of sanity, good sense, and in the excellent company of all those parents who need some encouragement because they don't have an educational background but still retain enough common sense to think "this is nuts" when they see something that is nuts, and I strongly urge these parents to trust their instincts because too often I've seen them back down when someone pulls out an alphabet string of credentials for use as a cudgel.

There are those who may have certificiates but that just means they sat in various conference rooms long enough and didn't make any waves, thus earning . . . what, exactly? Proof of mindlessness? proof of an enviable ability to swallow nonsense without gagging? I probably worked harder to get to move up the levels in Final Fantasy than they did getting those certificates.

Too many teachers are control freaks. (Remember: If you feel that someone is a control freak, you're probably right.) It's a slender fence trying to teach our kids to treat their elders with respect, and keeping some of the sicker, more neurotic teachers from mind-fucking our kids.

Too many women haven't quite learned the difference between belligerance and assertiveness as it is; we need to help our kids with this definition also because we can't let them turn into politically correct zombies. A staggeringly large percentage of teachers are female, this bodies rather ill for boys.

Time was the schools would teach healthy doses of skepticism; they don't seem to teach that anymore (maybe because they realize the first thing subjected to critical thinking and skepticism would be their own logic-challenged theories) so again, it's up to the parents to teach the things that matter.

I no longer believe the schools are capable of teaching much of anything; they can expose kids to new ideas and facts, but the kid's ability and willingness to learn has to come from the parents because the schools no longer encourages kids who challenge and ask the hard questions.

I often read that the reason the schools are so inept is because they are lacking in funds. Pull the other one.

The fact is, the schools are in the wrong business: they are trying to teach values instead of the 3Rs. Whenever people whine and scream about maintaining a separation between church and state, remember that the basis of value systems has always been religion; if the schools are teaching values without religion then there is a lapse in logic or truth.

The education system has succeeded in playing one of the biggest and most successful Con Games ever: pretending one could separate values from core belief systems.

My oldest has confided some of the tests he and other students ran on the professors to find how biased they were against conservative and libertarian students. I find it:

a) discouraging that they faced such an intellectually repressive climate,

b) encouraging that the kids stood up and exposed the system if only to one another

c) encouraging that they had the audacity to subject their theories to tests complete with control subjects, and

d) that what they proved is that the scoring of mechanical errors (in footnotes, spelling, etc.) was more severe when an unpopular/unacceptable stand was taken for the same errors when a popular/acceptable stand was taken so they made the totally logical decision to write papers with whatever political line was necessary to get the grade, graduate and RUN LIKE HELL FROM HIGH INSTITUTIONS OF LEARNING.

What the high schools and universities couldn't do, however, was destroy that love of knowledge and analysis

I don't think the universities and high schools really need to know what's on the underground bulletin boards and such, do you?

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