Monday, December 31, 2001
Saudi Arabia is always mentioned with deference, while Qatar's domestic affairs are either ignored or presented in a rosy light. Syria was criticized only once, in June this year, and then ever so gently. It still led to the expulsion of al Jazeera's correspondent from Damascus. Indeed, the only two Arab countries to be systematically criticized are Algeria and Kuwait, the first because it has fought Islamist terrorists and the second, presumably, for its refusal to be swallowed by Iraq.
Also by Taheri, an Iranian writer living in France: Islam can't escape blame for September 11.
A careful analysis of the campaign launched against Pakistan reveals many holes. The New Delhi commissioner of police, whose press conference was televised at length to establish the link between Pakistan and the terrorists involved, made some statements that give cause for doubting the credibility of the alleged plan to target the political leadership of India in the parliament. He stated that the terrorists first went to the airport but found the security too tight. They then made their way to the parliament. Thus the commissioner of police himself established that the attack on the parliament was an afterthought. How does this fit into the accusation being made vociferously by Mr. Vajpayee himself, that the attack on the parliament was premeditated and carefully planned? Another interesting aspect of the incident is that all five terrorists were killed, and the "proof" of Pakistan-based organizations was obtained from two Indian citizens in New Delhi, and another two persons from Kashmir. This cannot but create legitimate doubts about the credibility of the inquiry, conducted by the Indian government, which has rejected proposals from Pakistan for a joint inquiry, as well as the offer of the US for assisting with the investigation.
To talk of limited military action in the form of hot pursuit of terrorists, hit and run raids and air-strikes on their training camps in Pakistani territory is to exhibit a surprising and worrisome ignorance of ground realities and a lack of understanding of a decades-long proxy war. Legally, India has the right of hot pursuit, but it works only when armed groups indulge in hit-and-run raids from rear bases in a foreign territory across the border. It cannot be used against suicide squads of foreign mercenaries operating from safe sanctuaries in our territory provided by alienated elements in our own population.
Sunday, December 30, 2001
Many Islamic radicals in France have prison records. The French refuse to release figures detailing the numbers of those of North African descent in the prison system, but social workers estimate it runs as high as 70 percent. The prisons have become more efficient recruiting grounds than the mosques. "Prison is a good indoctrination center for the Islamic radicals, much better than the outside," a French Interior Ministry official said. "There are about 300 Islamic radicals in prisons in Paris, and they spend a lot of time converting the criminals to Islam."
It also claims that investigators were only steps away from uncovering the September 11 plot.
by Bjørn Stærk
Overall, it was a good year. I'm not sure I have the right to be patient on behalf of the worlds poor and oppressed, but one year is a very short time. A houndred years is also a short time. It's only a houndred years since we Europeans thought it was a good idea to conquer the earth, and 60 years since many of us tried to exterminate the Jews. 10 years ago we got rid of the last communists. We're moving in the right direction, one year at a time. I think there's a global self-consciousness we have now, that didn't exist before, and as long as we don't suffocate from the guilt of surviving the 20th century, our model will gradually spread, and all of us humans will pull through. The war in Afghanistan was a step in this direction, not against it.
In the world of media professional and NGG's (Non-Governmental Guiltologists), what happens today is a crisis, and what happened yesterday is ancient history. That's one way to look at it, but we also need the long perspective for balance. We're doing fine. Keep it up, boys and girls!
by Bjørn Stærk
Friday, December 28, 2001
by Bjørn Stærk
Thursday, December 20, 2001
by Bjørn Stærk
Until then: Have a quiet Christmas, and a merry New Year. Please don't blow up anyone you disagree with - unless they tried to blow you up first.
Btw: On Saturday my warblog will be three months old. It has grown in readership and declined in urgency. Let's hope this trend continues.
Tuesday, December 18, 2001
by Bjørn Stærk
Steven Snyder of International Christian Concern went to investigate.
As we entered the war zone we were struck by the number of Jihad posts we saw along the road. Some blatantly displayed signs that proclaimed the name of the terrorist organization "Laskar Jihad," with each displaying the Jihad flag, a black flag with Arabic writing on it. Each Jihad post had posters of Osama Bin Laden, some with writing underneath his picture saying "THIS IS OUR LEADER." Young Muslim men, most were armed, guarded these posts to inspect passing vehicles to see if they were occupied by Christians. Identity papers were being searched and if you were a Christian, then you would be in danger of summary execution.
Sunday, December 16, 2001
I today reiterate a call for the complete and immediate cessation of all military activities. I renew the call to completely halt any activities, especially suicide attacks which we have condemned and always condemned.
by Bjørn Stærk
Indeed, India must do everything, including use of military option, to wipe out terrorism, should Pakistan fail to close down ALL the terrorist camps in PoK [Pakistan-occupied Kashmir] and their own land. It is an open secret that JeM and the likes are involved and I see no need to give any "proof" in this regard. While, we should give Pak government a chance to act, we must put a strict deadline. Should they fail, we MUST go ahead with the military option, at least into PoK, as that is not Pak territory and Pakistan should have no problem in that. This is probably the best time and chance for us to react and not be cowed down by the never- ending "international" pressure. Please ACT!
ISI is the powerful Pakistani intelligence service.
The ISI has become a state within a state, answerable neither to the leadership of the army, nor to the President or the Prime Minister. The result is there has been no real supervision of the ISI, and corruption, narcotics, and big money have all come into play, further complicating the political scenario. Drug money is used by ISI to finance not only the Afghanistan war, but also the proxy war against India in Punjab and Kashmir.
Saturday, December 15, 2001
A cursory search on the Internet of these and other outlets transports the visitor to another world: articles by Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, Arundhati Roy, Robert Fisk, Tareq Ali, as well as lesser known figures like Nigerian activist Oranto Douglas and Palestinian poet Soheir Hammad, to name only a few, are readily found. Their absence is conspicuous in the mainstream media. These articles are provocative and cheeky -- not very "newsworthy" in mainstream terms, as they often deal with the fate of developing nations in the "new world order" and offer a variety of anti-war takes. The slogans of alternative outlets are worth something in themselves: CounterPunch "Tells the facts and names the names." My personal favourite is DemocracyNow Radio: "Resistance Radio: the exception to the rulers."
"Alternative" (ie. anti-mainstream) media are doing real harm when they convince Arab intellectuals to read The Nation instead of The Economist. Now, introspection and dissent is necessary to preserve democracy. If I weren't busy with this war, death and pestilence stuff I might be taking a look at the mess down in Europe, or the social democratic nanny state I live in. There's a lot to improve back home, and countless mistakes to learn from - but it's important not to lose the historical and global perspective. We're very well off in the West, and despite our internal differences we have two principles in common, democracy and capitalism, to which we owe our wealth and freedom. Without this in mind, introspection becomes shallow, and harmful for us and those who watch us.
Also harmful is the way these publications confirm the Arab fear that the West hates Islam, and wants to destroy it. Western lunacy-leftists seem to be quoted a lot more often than the actual lunacy-hawks as evidence of our malevolent intentions - perhaps they should ask themselves why.
Here is what's unspoken: "We three bourgeois democracies agree, in light of our common experience as victims of terrorism from the same extended family of Islamic fanatics, that barring some truly unforeseeable future event, we will no longer even ask each other to pull any punches."
Do you know that part of what made me so proud to be Canadian was the speed and confidence with which this country entered into the horrors of World War II? Not because we were ourselves directly attacked, but because Poland was, and our allies, Britain and France, were at war. We knew who we were, and we could not do otherwise. Even a man like the prime minister of the day, Mackenzie King, though capable of obtuse complacency, was able to understand what was at stake.
Friday, December 14, 2001
by Bjørn Stærk
6. Bin Laden represents the resentment and anger that many Muslims feel against their own regimes.
I wonder which dictatorships he is referring to.
Thursday, December 13, 2001
The ultimate, long term goal of the Oslo Accords was ��to achieve a just, lasting and comprehensive peace settlement and historic reconciliation through the agreed political process.� It has become clear to a majority of Israelis that these finely crafted phrases were either never internalized by the Palestinians or they were never honest objectives in the first place. It has been made abundantly clear that what PLO so-called peace partners wanted was not land for peace, but the Land of Israel itself. Without Jews. Without democracy. Without any peculiar attachment to the rule of law. The map of Israel, all of it, hangs in Arafat�s office and is published in all PLO literature and books, only it�s called Palestine.
by Bjørn Stærk
US and Europe still recognize Arafat as the leader of the Palestinians.
Destroyed radio station Voice of Palestine accuses Israel of censorship.
Debka calls Israeli response feeble, bureaucratic and evasive.
With another 10 Israelis dead and 22 still in hospital from the latest Palestinian terror outrage Wednesday, the Israeli defense cabinet�s ruling in a special session that the Palestinian Authority is �no longer relevant to the State of Israel� sounds feeble, bureaucratic and evasive. The very phrasing will intensify popular pressure on the Sharon government to go all the way against Yasser Arafat and his regime. Demonstrations are scheduled to demand the resignation from the government of right-wing ministers, unless Yasser Arafat is expelled and the West Bank re-occupied without further delay Bitter parallels are drawn between Ariel Sharon and President George W. Bush who, if he acted on the Israeli model, would have declared bin Laden irrelevant and broken off contact with al Qaeda at Tora Bora.
Often people say that the solution to the problem of surprise is better intelligence. But, the solution is not just better intelligence. We always need better intelligence, but we must also learn not to depend too much on intelligence; not to assume that other people operate on assumptions that mirror our own about what is impossible, what is irrational, or both. The answer is not building our war plans around one or two well-defined, familiar threats. We must have plans that make allowances for complexity and uncertainty and the unexpected�plans that give us a range of options and the flexibility to respond to surprise.
When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.
Tuesday, December 11, 2001
There is a growing popularity, admiration for those who take daring action. There is also disappointment with Arafat, because the public recognizes that the intifada as he perceived it - that is, a way of bringing pressure to bear on Israel in order to get greater concessions, but still within the framework of the political process - that this is going nowhere. In the pro-Arafat press itself, ever since the beginning of the summer, this sense of going nowhere is openly debated, so Fatah itself is now split between the older guard who back Arafat and the younger guard who blame him for getting them entangled in a struggle which has cost them 600 lives.
And: A look at the roots of Pakistani anti-Americanism.
As the Northern Alliance advanced, the bodies of unclaimed dead Pakistanis littered the landscape. None had stopped them from going. None came forward to accept their dead bodies. They were abandoned. No one knows what happened to the Arab widows and orphans other than that they were banned from entering Pakistan. Defeat has its own bitter aftertaste. The earlier bravado of victory in the ground war and the noisy demonstrations for fighting against the infidel ended. A dark silence descended. Few asked for accountability of those who provoked young men into siding with the Taliban. Few wondered about the mothers who lost their sons or the young widows or orphans. The second Afghan war is a double tragedy for the Muslim world. It is a war that never should have happened. Yet, in the madrassahs set up under Zia, that second war took its roots bringing in its wake death, destruction and shame.
In a 1998 interview, Bhutto recalls her first encounter with bin Laden's movement.
There was a no confidence move against me in 1989. At that time the same Ziaist (former military dictator Zia ul-Haq) constituency saw me as an obstacle in the path of Islamisation of the country. They offered half a million dollars each to 14 of my legislators to defect so the no confidence would be a success. Some of these came to me and I said 'Take the first instalment and pretend you're with them.' So when the no confidence vote came they were my Trojan horses.
Sunday, December 09, 2001
If somebody took off their burqa probably nobody would do anything, but after all these years of Taliban we still live in fear. It's a kind of shame feeling, and I feel it myself. I couldn't go out of the hospital and show my face. When I was at school, at university, I used to talk with boys and laugh with them, but for five years now we've been told not to speak with a man, not to sit with a man, and if a man comes into this room now, I still feel afraid.
Saturday, December 08, 2001
Blogs are anarchic. The entry cost is low and falling so anyone who wants can jump in. If the new blogger has ideas and communicates well they will collect a readership; if they grow tired of it someone else with similar ideas will take up the slack and the readership. Any thought that can be thought will be written, rewritten, torn apart and reassembled a hundred times. The better the idea, the more relevant and interesting and important it is, the more widely it will spread... regardless of to whose interest or detriment it is. That is the glory of Chaos.
Exactly. Did I remember to tell you visitors just how easy it is to create one of these weblogs you're reading? You don't have to be a nerd or a designer, or even unemployed, all you need is something to say and time to put it into words. (You know who you are.) Takes five minutes to create one, honest. Well, maybe ten. That's the good news. The bad: You don't have to fight wimpy corporations or biased editors to get readers, but there's still the general unfairness of the universe standing between you and the power to slashdot entire web servers. But if you are discouraged by that, you're missing the whole point: It's never been easier, in the recorded history of human existence, to have your Voice Heard by other people. If that intrigues you, you know where to click.
by Bjørn Stærk
The issue to Palestine appears to be the desire for statehood. To that end, above all else, leaders should mobilize the population. My point is, if statehood was granted tomorrow, and the Palestine population failed to make the new state work, or prosper, what will you do? Who will you blame? It seems to me, an outsider, you should be preparing the population for the future. Plan the government, the many departments, draw maps, plan for prosperity.
There are also letters from the usual shameful westerners, and believers in the great Jewish Conspiracy. This constructive scolding from an anonymous american is beyond weird, calling for Palestinians to take lessons from womens groups: Where is the "Million Arab March" on Washington?
Pro-Palestinian complaints that it's nearly impossible to tell America Mideast "truths" reminds me of bellyachings by the U.S. men's movement. It, too, complains that the other side (feminism) "controls" media and so unfairly wins all gender debates. The fact is, few men's groups fight fire with fire. They refuse to master the techniques women�s groups use. Similarly, pro-Palestinian forces rarely use media to counter pro-Israeli lobbyists. The problem isn't what the opposition does; it's how little proponents do.
From the Hamas Manifesto, Ten Principles of Faith:
By virtue of the distribution of Muslims, who pursue the cause of the Hamas, all over the globe, and strive for its victory, for the enforcement of its positions and for the encouragement of its Jihad, the Movement is a universal one. Whoever denigrates its worth, or avoids supporting it, or is so blind as to dismiss its role, is challenging Fate itself. Whoever closes his eyes from seeing the facts, whether intentionally or not, will wake up to find himself overtaken by events, and will find no excuses to justify his position.
When some of al-Sheik�s friends rushed to the battlefield that morning, and saw Izz al-Din al-Qassam, Yusef al-Zybawi and Hanafi al-Massri lying in a pool of blood, they knew that the battle was over. However, today Palestinians continue to flood the West Bank and Gaza with flyers which carry the smiling face of al-Qassam followed by a verse of the Koran saying, "Count not those who were slain in the way of God as dead, but rather living with their God, by him provided."
Thursday, December 06, 2001
To merely describe a young Palestinian man who blows himself on a busy street or as he rides in a crowded bus as simply "evil", "wicked" and "terrorist", portrays a severe lack of understanding regarding the roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
In a recent interview on NBC's "Meet the Press", U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared:" Arafat is not a particularly strong leader, and I don't know that he has good control over the Palestinian situation"! Then he added: "He has not ever delivered anything for the Palestinian people throughout history. His record is not particularly impressive"! These words show clearly the way the Bush administration deals with the Palestinians. Not only it marginalizes and provokes them in inviting General Sharon to the White House and ignoring Arafat, but also in considering their cause just a spare wheel for the needs of Mr. Bush's war effort in Afghanistan and its expected annexes.
So - what has Arafat achieved for the Palestinian people? He may die soon, out of natural causes, or if the Israelis decide to take the risk, so perhaps it is time to think of an epitaph. He hasn't given them land, nor democracy, and who knows what chaos will follow his death. The only strengths he appears to have is stubborness and evasion, and what the Palestinian people needs is the opposite: Flexibility, and a sense of responsibility for their own future. Reading Palestinian websites, (and Arab sites in general), all I see is "Israel this", or "Americans that". What they need to hear is this: 1. Israel is here to stay. 2. The US won't change its foreign policy. 3. You build your future, not foreigners. Choose a better way, and the world will follow.
by Bjørn Stærk
We urge Israel to uphold the human rights of Palestinians by:
Which leaves out the two other obstacles to Palestinian freedom and dignity: Hamas, who spreads moral corruption, and Arafat, who spreads political corruption. Both must go, and the sooner Palestinians start working on it, the better for both sides. If the Israelis leave tomorrow, will Palestinians be able to face that task, or will they use the necessary compromises of any peace agreement as an excuse to ignore their own problems?
Today, of course, peace is unreachable. There is no peace process in the Middle East, and hasn't been for years. There's a war process, and it's culminating right now.
Tuesday, December 04, 2001
Just as the United States is conducting its war against international terror, using all its might against terror, so too will we. With all the strength, determination, and resources we have used until today, and with resources at our disposal. Do not believe false prophecies and do not be misled by promises of immediate results. This struggle is not an easy one, this struggle will not be short. But we will be victorious.
Sunday, December 02, 2001
by Bjørn Stærk
Personally, (and I don't expect many of you to agree), I find it difficult to mourn over lost cultural treasures. To answer the dilemma, if I could choose between saving a human or the Mona Lisa, I would choose the human, even if there were no photographs or copies of the painting left. If we had the attitude that all that is beautiful around us will one day be destroyed, perhaps we would appreciate it more while it is still there. And perhaps, if once in a while some of the great things left behind by our ancestors were to disappear, it would give us courage to create them all over again.
The Pakistani Jihadi were volunteers. I cry for them. (I have tears in my eyes as I write this.) Intrepid and eager to fight, they ran away, got themselves smuggled into Afghanistan -- and then discovered that they'd been lied to. They found out that there was no glory in this war. They discovered that they were fighting other Muslims, and that they had no chance at all, none whatever, of bagging an American. The only Americans they saw were 20,000 feet above them, dropping bombs. They discovered that the Taliban were not holy men, but corrupt thugs who had sold their souls to al Qaeda. And they found out, moments before their deaths, that no amount of courage could protect them from cluster bombs dropped from 50,000 feet, and that God wasn't going to show up on the battlefield and fight along side them.
The Israelis had been funding conservative Isl�mic groups among the Palestinians, hoping in this way to counter the influence of the revolutionary Marxist ideologies that seemed dominant in Palestinian guerrilla organizations. This turned out to be a mistake. The Ir�nians had coopted the revolutionary ideology to their own purposes, and now this began to catch on with the Palestinians, among whom there were relatively few Shi'ites. In time, suicide bombers became the weapon of choice for Palestinian attacks on Israelis. A new era, of pure terrorist attacks, rather than attempts at the familiar forms of guerrilla warfare, had arrived. While scholars have been using the term "Islamism" for the mix of ideology in the Ir�nian revolution and the movements inspired by it, a term already exists in Western politics for such a thing, and that term is "fascism."
The only way palestinians can achieve their goals, is through a fundamental change of tactics:
If the Palestinians wish to exploit the moral possibilities of their position, that they have a good claim to their old homes in Palestine, that the actions of the Israeli Occupation are often contrary to International Law (which they are), then they should do so in a way that does not undercut their own moral ground and does not give precisely the wrong impression to the Israelis, and to disinterested observers. This can be done, not with the traditional Middle Eastern rhetoric and practice of violence, but with the very modern device of non-violent resistance, Mah�tm� Gandhi's Satyagraha, or "truth force." When I was a student in Beirut in 1969 and 1970, a Catholic priest once suggested that Palestinian refugees who wanted to go home should simply get up and walk across the border into Israel. There was no more than a fence there. A large crowd could trample it down. The Israelis always feel justified in violent responses to violence. Dead Israelis mean deadly retaliation. Although this is usually protested by some, most Western opinion sees it as at least understandable, which it is. If Palestinians, however, were to cease killing Israelis and deliberately adopt a non-violent approach, then Israel would be in no position to justify or explain deadly retaliation to anyone.
Ross is a professor of philosophy, and a congressional candidate for the Libertarian Party, whose huge website with political, philosophical and historical writing is a shrine of learning.
Saturday, December 01, 2001
- I still don't understand why we were only issued a single clip between the two of us.
From The Spiders, part one of an online comic by Patrick Farley.
While you're there, spend a few hours reading some of his other excellent works ..
.. and please consider leaving a small tip on your way out. If he made printed comics, Farley would belong in the prominent section of my collection. Instead he gives it away on the web for free. That's impressive and foolish and deserves compensation.