A fascinating AP story on the chaos that reigns in the Palestinian territories:
NABLUS, West Bank -- Policeman Jouma Ahmad settled the score the way he felt best -- by shooting his enemy nine times, right in the middle of a police station. ..
Ahmad, who was arrested after shooting and critically wounding a man he said stabbed his brother, said he had no regrets. "If someone beats you, you have to beat him back," he said in his jail in Nablus, one of the West Bank's most chaotic cities where police are trying hard to regain people's trust.
The excuse follows immediately -- and naturally, Israel is to blame:
Four years of fighting with Israel have severely weakened the Palestinian police force and strengthened gunmen, who effectively rule many Palestinian towns. Wild rampages by gun-wielding militants have wracked several Palestinian towns in recent weeks.
Never mind that this time, the "police force" seemed a little too strong, and not really concerned for all that rule-of-law nonsense. But then there's this:
Ordinary Palestinians are fed up, and that could cost Abbas' ruling Fatah party its majority in parliamentary elections in July, with the militant Hamas group expected to take up the slack.
So Palestinians, sick of "gun-wielding militants" are going to elect Hamas?!? No wonder they can't build a functional society.
The blame-Israel game then takes a turn towards comic absurdity that the AP reporter can't ignore:
But Palestinians say it will be difficult if not impossible to restore order unless Israel provides more breathing room, removing checkpoints, releasing prisoners and halting settlement activity.
"Our people want to see us functioning ... because they are craving security and safety," Tareq Zaid, the police commander in Nablus, said at his shell-pocked headquarters. "But this chaos is because of Israel, which has occupied our town and surrounded us, even shelling the building we're in now."
Zaid quickly added, however, that gunmen were keeping their weapons out of view. "Nablus is OK now," he said.
Within moments of that statement, at a funeral for a militant who had accidentally shot himself, dozens of gunmen brandished M16 rifles and shot them into the air. One carried a rocket launcher.
And what do those brave Palestinian peace officers do when they aren't settling scores at work? Well...
Police in Nablus claim they are slowly regaining control of the city, but a jailhouse meeting with 29-year-old Mohammed, imprisoned for collaborating with Israel, attests to a reality in which gunmen still hold sway.
Mohammed, whose full name is not divulged in this story for his protection, said he confessed under torture to aiding an Israeli pilot in a mission to shell a Palestinian police target in 2001.
Yes, by all means, let's negotiate a "peace" with these people, so that they can have a state.
From what I've read of the man, I am a big fan of John Bolton:
During that time, and during his early tenure in the second Bush administration, Bolton's first priority appears to have been to roll back public international law so it isn't used against us by other nations as they battle for power in a dark, Hobbesian world. At its most extreme, this view has led him to say that "if the U.N. Secretary Building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference," and to support former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet against the international courts that hope to bring him to trial on charges of gross human rights violations.
More generally, four years ago, Bolton said: "It is a big mistake for us to grant any validity to international law even when it may seem in our short-term interest to do so -- because, over the long term, the goal of those who think that international law really means anything are those who want to constrict the United States."
I couldn't agree more, and find myself relieved that at least some members of the current Administration are not clueless on this front. So while I would prefer to have the man in the State Department and not wasting his energy on the UN, I can at least enjoy the spectacle of diplomatic teacups shattering on the floor, as all kinds of notables faint from the idea that this utterly gauche man will be the U.S.'s face to the world. The latest to turn pale and reach for the smelling salts are fifty-nine former professional placators:
Fifty-nine former US diplomats have written to the chairman of a key Senate committee in protest at the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN.
Chief among the objections was Mr Bolton's stated view that the UN "is valuable only when it directly serves the United States".
This is a stunning revelation into the mind of the professional diplomat. Their job is to serve the interests of the United States. That's why they get the nice house overseas and the big bucks. But heaven forfend someone actually demand that the UN do this!
In addition, Mr Bolton was criticised for his record as US arms control supremo.
He had an "exceptional record" of undermining potential improvements to US national security through arms control, the diplomats complained.
This is somewhat ambiguously phrased by the BBC, but what they mean is, Bolton is generally against useless paper "arms control" agreements. From the Salon article:
But his competence has ultimately allowed Bolton to do much harm, scuttling the international agreements and treaties that make up much of the legal basis for international order and security. With Bolton's tireless leadership and assistance, the Bush administration has undermined the International Criminal Court, the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, the Biological Weapons Convention, and a potential international treaty on small arms trafficking -- while also opposing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
One would think that with the arms-control agreements having been proved worthless in a string of humiliating and flagrant violations -- hello? North Korea? Iran? -- the old diplomats would have enough sense to, well, diplomatically neglect to mention them. Oops.
The usual suspects feature prominently here:
Among the most senior signatories was Arthur Hartman, former ambassador to France and the Soviet Union under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and assistant secretary of state for European affairs under President Richard Nixon.
Princeton Lyman, a former ambassador to South Africa and Nigeria, Monteagle Stearns, US representative in Greece and Ivory Coast, and Spurgeon Keeny Jr, Jimmy Carter's deputy director of arms control, also signed the letter.
And, finally, this part:
But the former diplomats insist his hard-line views on states such as Cuba and Syria, as well as previous paid employment for the government of Taiwan, make him an unsuitable candidate.
This statement is so awe-inspiringly stupid, I am tempted to let it stand without comment. Apparently it's all right for former diplomats to receive paychecks from the Saudis, but anyone who doesn't sing Castro's praises, pretend the Assads are legitimate, or -- horrors! -- has worked for the government of a friendly nation, is "unsuitable."
You have to hand it to the Bush Administration -- whatever their many flaws, on the foreign policy front they have managed rattle quite a few cages, with results that are simultaneously distressing and hilarious.
'Elp! 'Elp! I'm Being Repressed!
Will someone please inform Professor Juan Cole (not to be confused with John Cole, ever) that what he calls "a new way of discrediting a political opponent" is also known as good ol'-fashioned criticism?
It seems to me that David Horowitz and some far rightwing friends of his have hit upon a new way of discrediting a political opponent, which is the GoogleSmear. It is an easy maneuver for someone like Horowitz, who has extremely wealthy backers, to set up a web magazine that has a high profile and is indexed in google news. Then he just commissions persons to write up lies about people like me (leavened with innuendo and out-of-context quotes). Anyone googling me will likely come upon the smear profiles, and they can be passed around to journalists and politicians as though they were actual information.
Nnnno. You're kidding, Professor! You mean, someone can have the temerity to (1) say something unflattering about you on the web and (2) get other people to read it, and link approvingly? Those Rovian fiends are Pure Evil Geniuses&trade!
Lest we have any doubts on what Cole considers quality argument, he approvingly cites an "ascerbic dissection" by no less an intellectual luminary than Dennis "Justin" Raimondo. (I must have missed the "dissection" entirely, as Raimondo does nothing more than call Plaut a few names, throw out some innuendo, and pile on enough non-sequiturs to stock two Costco aisles -- but hey, Professor Cole says it's "ascerbic," and who am I to argue?) Raimondo and Cole as allies -- enough said, really.
Well, maybe not quite, because the good Professor just can't resist setting himself up as the poor, defenseless Arab martyr to Horowitz's Merkava tank:
I am well aware that the GoogleSmear and other techniques of propaganda may well succeed. Horowitz and his minions are funded to the tune of millions, and I am just one lone individual. And, maybe it is even dangerous to tangle with someone who admires Kahane and his followers.
I'm not a fan of Horowitz, and I can't comment on his "millions." But really -- the good Professor works for one of the wealthiest universities in this nation, which funds all of his "work," including his pro-terrorist propaganda, and gives him credibility to boot. Yet the man fears a global Likud conspiracy with Horowitz on its pointy end, spending seven-digit sums to publish web sites that get indexed by Google. Fight the power, Dr. Cole.
Update: Dan Darling beat me to this, with a better response.
Steven Plaut has also written a thorough rebuttal of Cole's ramblings, including this revealing look at the Cole-Raimondo method of "research":
Cole rests the better part of his “self-defense” on labeling me “an Israeli defender of the terrorists (sic) around the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane,” the fellow who set up the Jewish Defense League. So what is the source of this invention reported with scholarly seriousness by Professor Juan Cole? Why, it is Justin Raimondo himself, of course! In fact, Cole thanks Raimondo profusely on his web page for smearing me as a supposed Kahanist.
The only problem is that I am not. Raimondo’s evidence for this smear against me is that he googled my name and the word “Kahanist” together, and discovered two articles of mine in which I used the word “Kahanist” in the text. But that was all he found. In neither article did I express any support for the Kahanists or Kahanism. Talk about Googlesmears! Cole, also accuses me of posting comments under a false name on a web bulletin board and accuses me of using illegal drugs, which is equally fanciful and absurd.
Just to add my small contribution to the "GoogleSmearing," here is Steven Plaut's original article on Juan Cole, meticulously researched, filled with direct quotes and links to original material -- contrast with the "material" that Cole and Raimondo present as their own alleged "refutations" of this article. Plaut is just not in Cole and Raimondo's league. Plaut should be proud of this.
My responses to the quiz that has been traveling around:
Q: What's your favorite kind of cookie?
A: None of your business. Now get lost.
A suggestion to save time
Why don't we just skip all the b.s., and call for an outright end to the illegal, immoral, and unjustifiable Dutch occupation of the Arab Republic of the Netherlands? Or, at least, propose a two-state solution. No doubt many Dutch will object to this, but surely we can't let extremists determine the agenda.
End the occupation now!
Well, the Parisian journalist Frederic Royer has just launched a new weekly tabloid called L'Anti-Americain. The first issue includes a parodic diary by George W Bush with the entry: "Ask the CIA: Where's China?"
Hilarious! Bush is so dumb he can't even find the real 21st-century superpower on a map! As it happens, it was the Canadian prime minister, a renowned sophisticate and indeed a fluent franco-phone, who last year declared in public that China was the most important nation in the southern hemisphere.
I can't find the source for this quote, but I do recall this admonition by the Left's intellectual superstar, Bill Clinton:
An expanded NATO is good for America; and a Europe in which all democracies define their future not in terms of what they can do to each other but in terms of what they can do together for the good of all -- that kind of Europe is good for America.
Second, America must look to the East no less than to the West. Our security demands it. Americans fought three wars in Asia in this century. Our prosperity requires it. More than 2 million American jobs depend upon trade with Asia.
That's right: while well-traveled Rhodes Scholar Clinton is delivering the State of the Union in Washington, he places Europe to the west, and Asia to the east. I wonder if Bush Jr. would be able to get away with such a faux pas, not to mention the part in italics, which seems to imply that American prosperity requires fighting wars in Asia.
Steyn link by way of LGF.
Happy fourth LGF-a-versary, Charles! Here's to many more years of one of the most informative and sorely-needed sites in the blogosphere.
And for the record, I also found that Bush-chimp picture funny, and still do. Just because I agree with the guy on foreign policy, doesn't mean I won't make fun of him on occasion. Laughing at our leaders is how we keep from forming cults of personality. Chomsky fans should try that sometime. Ditto for these weirdos.
Defining torture down, Part 238
The Boston Globe is raising the banner of triumph over Monday's court decision that the Guantanamo prisoners. And boy oh boy, are they ever giddy:
The Bush administration created the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as its version of Devil's Island, where jailers' edicts would prevail in place of civil law. A federal district judge took a sledgehammer to this imprisonment on Monday by declaring that the rights of 11 inmates were being abridged in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
Wow, a sledgehammer! Sounds impressive! Just how much of an impact did this ruling make? Umm, well...
Judge Joyce Hens Green's ruling is at odds with one issued by another federal district judge, which said in effect that the inmates had no rights to violate. A higher court will have to work out which view prevails.
Well, this is certainly a letdown -- it's an already-conflicted ruling, which will require other rulings! Not exactly sledgehammer stuff here. It's not as though we didn't expect the prisoners' attorneys to appeal if the case didn't go their way. The impact of this case is exactly zero, and I certainly don't recall this much noise being made over the earlier court decision. But let's get past the Globe's hyperbole, and get into vacuous conjecture:
Green's reasoning jibes better with a Supreme Court ruling last June. Abuse at the prison is well known, as are cases of unjustified detention.
Number of examples given by the Globe? Zero.
There is little reason for the high court to give inmates the power to sue unless it expected that some of their cases would prevail.
It's hard to pick out the single most asinine claim in this article, but the preceding is a good contender. The Supreme Court's decision to let some Guantanamo prisoners sue is in no way an indicator that they might have a case. It's simply a legal position that says enemy combatants are not automatically excluded from judicial review. But forget this lawyerly stuff, let's get to the meat and potatoes -- or, rather, the very watery broth:
If the courts won't interfere, who will stop the torture cited by Green in her decision -
Torture? Surely some examples are coming! Cigarette burns, nails pulled out, flesh carvings, sodomization, that kind of thing?
- inmates chained hand and feet in a fetal position for 18 to 24 hours, air-conditioning turned off or jacked up to near freezing levels?
...Wait, that's it? The prisoners were made uncomfortable? They were made to feel hot (My God! No air conditioning! In the Caribbean! Who can withstand such horrors?), cold (No, please, don't crank up the A/C now!), and stiff from holding the same pose for a day? How does the Globe think information is extracted, by saying "pretty please" a lot? But, hold on, the full horror of a Guantanamo imprisonment is yet to come:
And, while it did not figure in Green's decision, the recent report that a woman interrogator was using fake menstrual fluid to frighten inmates also illustrates the abuses encouraged by Guantámano's lawless status.
Yep, that's right. Menstrual fluid. The prisoners were "abused" by having some liquid put on them. Mind you, it wasn't even real blood, but they were told that it was. Who wrote these definitions of "abuse" and "torture" -- preteen girls? Ewww! Get away from me, you unclean menstruating infidel! By the power of Allah and Mohammed his messenger, that is, like, totally grrosss! I now fully expect the next batch of released jihadis to breathlessly claim that their American jailers theatened them with a permanent infection of cooties. Zionist cooties.
To call this "torture" is to belittle everyone who has ever suffered the real thing -- much of it at the hands of dictators shielded by the "progressives" of their day, which the Globe dimwits who wrote this tripe no doubt consider themselves.
In comparison to the preceding alarmist idiocy, the closing paragraph is an improvement, as it is merely inane and pointless:
Green criticized the tribunals set up to handle prisoner appeals, but did not specify a better system. Bush should establish one that fairly processes appeals, then release inmates that pose no threat, transfer the others to a military prison in the United States, and close the Guantánamo detention camp. If he won't do that, U.S. judges need to keep reminding him that battling terrorism is not an open-ended invitation to violate human rights.
Brilliant. We will capture all these people on the field of battle, then try them each individually, while giving each one a private room at the Waldorf-Astoria, where they need never be in the presense of an "unclean" menstruating woman, lest they should be made uncomfortable. And we will magically figure out which inmates "pose no threat" and have no useful information. We can do no less: just because we're trying to keep Islamic nuts from killing our citizens by the dozens does not mean we have "an open-ended invitation to violate human rights." Thank you, oh the enlightened souls at the Boston Globe -- you truly are members of a banality-based community.
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