Archive for January, 2007
29 Jan 2007

One Inch Punch

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Documentary on the One Inch Punch popularized by Bruce Lee , featuring martial arts film clips, demonstrations, and discussion by Jeet Kune Do and Wing Chun instructors.

7:16 video

28 Jan 2007

The New Strategy in Iraq

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Killing the enemy.

It’s about time somebody thought of trying it.

28 Jan 2007

Are We Holding Hassan Abbasi?

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Gateway Pundit links an AP report which quotes the US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad confirming earlier reports of the capture of a Revolutionary Guards “Director of Operations.

Earlier reports stated that the figure captured was Revolutionary Guards Chief Strategist Hassan Abbasi.

video of Hassa Abbasi

The U.S. ambassador said Wednesday that one of the Iranians detained by U.S. forces in Iraq during two raids over the past month was the director of operations for Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Quds faction, the organization responsible for funding and arming Iraqi militants.

Zalmay Khalilzad said the recent raids were part of a “new strategy” to “go after their networks that are active here.”

The United States is building up its troops in the region, beyond the additional 21,500 on their way to Iraq for a new security crackdown, in what U.S. officials say is a message to Iran. Khalilzad sought to reinforce Washington’s message that Tehran should keep its hands off Iraq, where it has enormous influence with the majority Shiite population.

Iran is ruled by a Shiite theocracy, which has confounded U.S. foreign policy for more than a quarter-century since the U.S.-allied shah was driven from power in the Islamic revolution.

At least eight Iranians have been detained in Iraq recently, including two diplomats in a Dec. 21 roundup of a group of 10 suspects. The diplomats were interrogated and released to Iranian officials eight days later.

Six others were captured Jan. 11 at an Iranian liaison office in the northern city of Irbil. One was released and five are still believed in U.S. custody.

“Some of those we’ve arrested are Quds Force operatives. One of them was director of operations for the Quds Force” who was in the country without the knowledge of Iraqi security officials, he said…

Khalilzad said Iranian agents were working with “a variety of groups, and there are groups that they fund and control, in my judgment, directly.”

The ambassador said U.S. officials soon would outline in detail the activities of the arrested Iranians, as demanded by Tehran’s ambassador in Baghdad.

Earlier report

But the New York Times reported on January 13th that this individual had been released.

A senior military official said last week that one of the Iranians seized in Baghdad late last month was the No. 3 Quds official. He said American forces uncovered maps of neighborhoods in Baghdad in which Sunnis could be evicted, and evidence of involvement in the war during the summer in Lebanon.

That Iranian official was ordered released, by Ms. Rice among others, after Iran claimed he had diplomatic status.

Earlier post

Hat tip to AJStrata.

28 Jan 2007

Iranians Did Karbala Raid?

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Bill Roggio thinks the Karbala raid leading the kidnapping-murder of five US soldiers may very possibly have an Iranian operation performed in retaliation for recent US raids on Iranian embassies in Baghdad and Irbil.

This raid required specific intelligence, in depth training for the agents to pass as American troops, resources to provide for weapons, vehicles, uniforms, identification, radios and other items needed to successfully carry out the mission. Hezbollah’s Imad Mugniyah executed a similar attack against Israeli forces on the Lebanese border, which initiated the Hezbollah-Israeli war during the summer of 2006…

Mahawil (where abandoned vehicles & the victim’s bodies were found) is in Babil province, about 27 miles directly west of Karbala. While it is impossible to prove, the attackers may have been making a bee-line towards the Iranian border.

The Karbala raid makes sense in light of the U.S. raids on the Iranian diplomatic missions in Baghdad and Irbil, where Iranian Qods Force agents were captured, along with documentation that divulged Iran’s involvement with and support of Shia death squads, the Sunni insurgent, and al-Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunnah. Five Iranians from the Irbil raid are still in U.S. custody, and captured U.S. soldiers would provide for excellent bargaining chips

IF it is confirmed that Iran’s Qods Force was responsible, the news that the United States has authorized the death or captured of Iranian agents inside Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan and Lebanon makes all the more sense.

Perhaps they were trying to carry the US soldies over the border to Iran, and abandoned the vehicles and killed their prisoners because their pursuers got too close, and they considered it too risky to try to reach the border.

28 Jan 2007

Seemingly Innocuous?

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Some classic television journalism hoplophobia.

These public-spirited reporters are supposedly alerting the police to “seemingly innocuous” objects modified into firearms… like, for instance, a knife.

CBS 2 managed to get hold of one (through the DEA) , though their local police haven’t seen any, and there is no evidence that any crime has actually yet been committed with one of these. But there may possibly be a new and different concealed weapon out there somewhere, panic!

CBS2 video

28 Jan 2007

Coercive Pacifism

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Ruth Wisse, in the Wall Street Journal, comments on the contemptible exclusion of ROTC programs at the most elite American universities.

Recent surveys confirm that university faculties have been tilting steadily leftward, but I think it is wrong to assume they have been tilting toward “liberalism” as is commonly assumed. Liberalism worthy of the name emphasizes freedom of the individual, democracy and the rule of law. Liberalism is prepared to fight for those freedoms through constitutional participatory government, and to protect those freedoms, in battle if necessary. What we see on the American campus is not liberalism, but a gutted and gutless “gliberalism,” that leaves to others the responsibility for governance, and arrogates to itself the right to criticize. It accepts money from the public purse without assuming reciprocal duties for the public good. Instead of debating public policy in the public arena, faculty says, “I quit,” but then continues to draw benefits from the system it will not protect.

27 Jan 2007

Hurray! We’re Capitulating!

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Henryk M. Broder has some choice comments on the contemporary European response to militant Islam, particularly in the case of the Danish cartoon crisis in which Europrean embassies were burned by Islamic mobs.

In 1972, more than three decades ago, Danish lawyer and part-time politician Mogens Glistrup had an idea that brought him instant fame. To save taxes, he proposed that the Danish army be disbanded and an answering machine be set up in the defense ministry that would play the following message: “We capitulate!” Not only would it save money, Glistrup argued, but it would also save lives in an emergency. On the strength of this “program,” Glistrup’s Progress Party managed to become the second-most powerful political party in the Danish parliament in the 1973 elections.

Glistrup had the right idea, but he was a number of years premature. Now would be the right time to set up his answering machine.

Read the whole thing.

26 Jan 2007

Multiculturalism in Europe

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Pascal Bruckner has harsh words for the multiculturalism of elites.

After Heidegger, a whole run of thinkers from Gadamer to Derrida have contested the claims of the Enlightenment to embody a new age of self-conscious history. On the contrary, they say, all the evils of our epoch were spawned by this philosophical and literary episode: capitalism, colonialism, totalitarianism. For them, criticism of prejudices is nothing but a prejudice itself, proving that humanity is incapable of self-reflection. For them, the chimeras of certain men of letters who were keen to make a clean slate of God and revelation, were responsible for plunging Europe into darkness. In an abominable dialectic, the dawn of reason gave birth to nothing but monsters (Horkheimer, Adorno)…

The Enlightenment belongs to the entire human race, not just to a few privileged individuals in Europe or North America who have taken it upon themselves to kick it to bits like spoiled brats, to prevent others from having a go…

It is astonishing that 62 years after the fall of the Third Reich and 16 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, an important segment Europe’s intelligentsia is engaged in slandering the friends of democracy. They maintain it is best to cede and retreat, and pay mere lip-service to the ideals of the Enlightenment. Yet we are a long way off the dramatic circumstances of the 1930s, when the best minds threw themselves into the arms of Berlin or Moscow in the name of race, class or the Revolution. Today the threat is more diffuse and fragmented. There is nothing that resembles the formidable peril of the Third Reich. Even the government of Mullahs in Tehran is a paper tiger that could be brought to its knees with a minimum dose of rigour. Nevertheless the preachers of panic abound. Kant defined the Enlightenment with the motto: Sapere aude – dare to know. A culture of courage is perhaps what is most lacking among today’s directors of conscience. They are the symptoms of a fatigued, self-doubting Europe, one that is only too ready to acquiesce at the slightest alarm. Yet their good-willed rhetorical molasses covers a different tune: that of capitulation!

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Karen Myers.

26 Jan 2007

The National Republican Senatorial Committee Pledge

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Hugh Hewitt and NZ Bear have created a pledge promising that signatories will not support any Republican senator who votes against the troop increase in Iraq.

If the United States Senate passes a resolution, non-binding or otherwise, that criticizes the commitment of additional troops to Iraq that General Petraeus has asked for and that the president has pledged, and if the Senate does so after the testimony of General Petraeus on January 23 that such a resolution will be an encouragement to the enemy, I will not contribute to any Republican senator who voted for the resolution. Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.

Do please sign it. I have.

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

25 Jan 2007

Chinglish Humor

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Daniel Feng had an alarming experience.

A short two months after getting my Chinese driver’s license, I was about to lose it again. I drove the Jetta into a garage with this insane Chinglish (Chinese-English) sign warning me about crafty slipperies: “TO TAKE NOTICE OF SAFE. THE SLIPPERY ARE VERY CRAFTY.” As I remarked, I nearly dented the car (and the sign), having nearly spontaneously combusted in the worst laughing fit ever.

And he has been on a crusade since to memorialize, and rebuke, public signs in Beijing featuring unsatisfactory English translations of Chinese idioms.

25 Jan 2007

Liberals Call Iraq “a Disaster”

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One of my classmates today quoted veteran New Yorker political commentator Elizabeth Drew writing in the New York Review of Books:

Almost everyone in Washington understands, even if they don’t say it, that there is no real solution to what now seems to be the most disastrous foreign policy decision in American history. It’s now a matter of how to bring America’s involvement to an end with the fewest bad consequences. Despite all the studies and reports and amendments, events in Iraq itself will likely define the outcome.

US deaths in Iraq have amounted to 3064 over nearly four years.

Grant’s attack at Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864, which cost the lives of 10,000 Union soldiers (from a population of 26 million) in twenty minutes was a disaster. The loss of three thousand citizens of a nation of 300 million, a country which loses 26,000 lives annually in traffic accidents, over the course of nearly four years is something very different from Cold Harbor.

Iraq has not been a military disaster. US forces have suffered no battlefield defeat. Our troops are not demoralized. And there is no possibility whatsoever of our enemies achieving victory by military means.

Their only hope for victory, for bringing about the disaster of US withdrawal which has not yet occurred, is via the cowardice, defeatism, and disloyalty of our own chattering class elite.

25 Jan 2007

Boxer and Feinstein Want Elk and Deer Exterminated on Santa Rosa Island

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Roosevelt elk

Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer are trying to make sure that hundreds of healthy Roosevelt elk and Kaibab mule deer living on Santa Rosa Island are exterminated by the federal government.

The animals have been living there since the 1910s and 1920s when the island’s former owners imported them to provide hunting opportunities on the 52,794 acre off-shore property, then being operated as a cattle ranch. The introduction proved extremely successful, and the island became noted for the trophy animals it produced.

In March 1980, however, Congress established a Channel Islands National Park. In 1986, the Federal Government purchased Santa Rosa Island. The purchase agreement, however, granted the former owners the right to continue ranching and operating a hunting concession for 25 years.

In 1997. however, the National Park and Conservation Association, another litigious self-appointed group of busybodies, sued to end ranching and hunting immediately, claiming that they interfered with public access. The lawsuit resulted in a settlement agreement ending ranching, and stipulating the removal of the elk and deer by 2011.

Hunting is cruel, you see, but exterminating non-native species (who have lived there for a century) is good conservation, California-style.

The National Rifle Association has taken up the fight to save the 1100 animals.

25 Jan 2007

Jihadism & the Politics of Identity

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Francis Fukuyama traces Radical Islam’s ideological roots to the irrational reaction within Europe itself (Rousseau, Herder & Hegel) to the Enlightenment, and identifies European collectivist traditions as a major cause of vulnerability on the part of European states to Muslim agitation and demands. Europe has a great deal to learn from the United States, Fukuyama suggests.

But the US needs to learn that Jihadism is caused not by the absence of democracy in the Islamic world, but by its arrival via Globalization.

Modern liberal societies have weak collective identities. Postmodern elites, especially in Europe, feel that they have evolved beyond identities defined by religion and nation. But if our societies cannot assert positive liberal values, they may be challenged by migrants who are more sure of who they are.

Modern identity politics springs from a hole in the political theory underlying liberal democracy. That hole is liberalism’s silence about the place and significance of groups. The line of modern political theory that begins with Machiavelli and continues through Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and the American founding fathers understands the issue of political freedom as one that pits the state against individuals rather than groups. Hobbes and Locke, for example, argue that human beings possess natural rights as individuals in the state of nature—rights that can only be secured through a social contract that prevents one individual’s pursuit of self-interest from harming others.

Modern liberalism arose in good measure in reaction to the wars of religion that raged in Europe following the Reformation. Liberalism established the principle of religious toleration—the idea that religious goals could not be pursued in the public sphere in a way that restricted the religious freedom of other sects or churches…

Johann Gottfried von Herder… argued that inner authenticity lay not just in individuals but in peoples…

.. modern identity is inherently political, because it demands recognition. The idea that modern politics is based on the principle of universal recognition comes from Hegel. Increasingly, however, it appears that universal recognition based on a shared individual humanity is not enough, particularly on the part of groups that have been discriminated against in the past. Hence modern identity politics revolves around demands for recognition of group identities—that is, public affirmations of the equal dignity of formerly marginalised groups, from the Québécois to African-Americans to women to indigenous peoples to homosexuals…

Multiculturalism—understood not just as tolerance of cultural diversity but as the demand for legal recognition of the rights of racial, religious or cultural groups—has now become established in virtually all modern liberal democracies. US politics over the past generation has been consumed with controversies over affirmative action for African-Americans, bilingualism and gay marriage, driven by formerly marginalised groups that demand recognition not just of their rights as individuals but of their rights as members of groups. And the US’s Lockean tradition of individual rights has meant that these efforts to assert group rights have been tremendously controversial—more so than in modern Europe.

The radical Islamist ideology that has motivated terror attacks over the past decade must be seen in large measure as a manifestation of modern identity politics rather than of traditional Muslim culture…

The old multicultural model was based on group recognition and group rights. Out of a misplaced sense of respect for cultural differences—and in some cases out of imperial guilt—it ceded too much authority to cultural communities to define rules of behaviour for their own members. Liberalism cannot ultimately be based on group rights, because not all groups uphold liberal values. The civilisation of the European Enlightenment, of which contemporary liberal democracy is the heir, cannot be culturally neutral, since liberal societies have their own values regarding the equal worth and dignity of individuals. Cultures that do not accept these premises do not deserve equal protection in a liberal democracy. Members of immigrant communities and their offspring deserve to be treated equally as individuals, not as members of cultural communities. There is no reason for a Muslim girl to be treated differently under the law from a Christian or Jewish one, whatever the feelings of her relatives.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Sharon Stone and The Barrister.

24 Jan 2007

Ryszard KapuÅu203aciÅu201eski, 4 March 1932 – 23 January 2007

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Ryszard KapuÅu203aciÅu201eski, Poland’s most distinguished journalist, died yesterday in Warsaw at the age of 74 of a heart attack.

According to Alfred A. Knopf, his American publisher, he wrote 19 books which were translated into more than 20 languages, was witness to 27 coups and revolutions, and was condemned to death four times. He was considered a serious candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005.

Michael Werbowski:

Kapuscinski, who came from behind the iron curtain, was a remarkable reporter in the sense that he documented the last days of rotten regimes. He was a prescient observer of things to come. At times he was there for the final fall. As well, he was one of the first reporters and correspondents to venture into conflict zones and parts of the world that were off limits to many of his mainstream colleagues both in the East and West. He covered, analyzed and described happenings few of us would know about in detail today if he had not been there to relate those events.

Born on March 4, 1932, Kapuscinski became, without doubt, one of Poland’s most famed reporters. His international reputation is now legendary. He was one of the only full-time “roving reporters” for the Polish Press Agency; hence, its “world correspondent,” so to say.

In the 1960s, he traveled the world, mostly to the developing regions. He covered wars, conflicts, uprisings and revolutions. He documented the African independent movements, and much later the process of the disintegration of the Soviet Empire (see his personal travelogue titled Imperium). He approached his assignments through meticulous reading and researching books on his subjects or the “target country.” His written works are a unique literary genre, blending “literary journalism” with visual and frequent historical references that “frame” the events within a specific period…

Kapuscinski in his dispatches, essays and articles decried and described the absurdity of absolute power in a tragicomic manner through the use of vivid, colorful language and narrative style.

Whether reporting from Russia or Africa or Latin America, Kapuscinski in his own words said he wrote for “people everywhere still young enough to be curious about the world.” His vivacity, brilliance and inquisitiveness about the world is a memorable legacy for all reporters — citizen or otherwise — to cherish.

Wikipedia entry.

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