Saturday, December 02, 2006

Oil is the root of all evil

Another gem from VDH:

With the gruesome killing of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, Vladimir Putin's Russia stands accused of poisoning yet another critic.

Meanwhile, Syria continues to mastermind the murders of Lebanese democrats. Israeli-free Gaza is as violent as ever. Hezbollah is busy replenishing its stock of Iranian missiles. The theocracy in Iran keeps promising an end to Israel. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is slowly strangling democracy in Latin America in a manner that an impoverished Fidel Castro never could. And then, of course, there's Afghanistan and Iraq.

It's easy to think all of this violent instability across the globe is unconnected. But, in fact, in one way or another, oil and its huge profits are at the bottom of a lot of it.

Read the whole thang, here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A culture of violence (This is a MUST READ)

A culture of violence
Nov. 29, 2006

Virtually not a day has passed recently without some famous person declaring that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the key to solving all the problems of the Muslim world - from Kofi Annan ("As long as the Palestinians live under occupation… so long will passions everywhere be inflamed") through Henry Kissinger ("a restarted Palestinian peace process should play a significant role" in resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis) to Tony Blair (an Israeli-Palestinian settlement is "the core" of any effort to resolve other Middle East problems and defeat "global extremism.")

It is astonishing that so many intelligent people could seriously espouse such an obvious falsehood. Do they really believe that Sunni Muslims and Shi'ite Muslims - whose views on Israel are identical - are slaughtering each other in Iraq because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Or that anti-Syrian politicians in Lebanon - who are no less anti-Israel than the pro-Syrian sort - are being assassinated by Syria and threatened with a coup by Hizbullah because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

That Arab Muslims are committing genocide against black Muslims in Sudan because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

That Taliban Muslims are murdering non-Taliban Muslims in Afghanistan because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

That Chechen Muslims took Russian schoolchildren hostage in Beslan because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

That Muslims and Hindus are killing each other in Kashmir because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

That Muslims worldwide rioted over Danish cartoons because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? The list could go on for pages.

But the theory of Israeli-Palestinian centrality is not only false, it is dangerous - because it prevents the world from addressing the real root cause of all these conflicts, including the Israeli-Palestinian one: a widespread culture in the Muslim world that views violence and threats of violence as legitimate means of resolving disputes.

THE CARTOON crisis is a particularly good example, because it is not obscured by entanglement with any local political conflict. After a Danish paper published satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad last year, Muslims worldwide engaged in violent rioting for weeks, resulting in several deaths.

Compare this to Catholics' reactions to recent satirical assaults on the pope and the church in Italy. Two weeks ago, for instance, an Italian television show satirized Pope Benedict XVI as being jealous of his predecessor and therefore engaging in various degrading acts - tap-dancing, juggling oranges - while demanding: "Could Pope Wojtyla [John Paul II] do this?"

On another recent show, an Italian comedian joked about the Holy Trinity debating where to go on a trip: God the Father proposes Africa, Jesus proposes Palestine and the Holy Spirit proposes the Vatican. Asked why, the Holy Spirit responds: "I've never been there."

Clearly, such ridicule is no less offensive to devout Catholics than the Muhammad cartoons were to devout Muslims. But there have been no riots over these satires, nor have any Catholic clergy urged such riots, as many Muslim clerics did over the Danish cartoons. Catholics have confined themselves to oral and written protests - because in modern Western culture violence is not considered an acceptable response to offense.

DO REACTIONS to religious satire really have any bearing on political conflicts such as the Israeli-Palestinian one? Absolutely - for two reasons.

First, as long as the Muslim world considers violence an appropriate response to grievance, neither the Israeli-Palestinian conflict nor any other of the dozens of conflicts involving Muslims worldwide will be solvable. Indeed, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict amply demonstrates this point.

The Palestinians could have obtained a state in July 2000, had Yasser Arafat expressed his dissatisfaction with Israel's proposal at Camp David in "Western" fashion - by presenting a counterproposal. Ehud Barak's government was clearly willing to make further concessions; it did so at the subsequent Washington and Taba talks. But instead the Palestinians opted to express their dissatisfaction violently, by launching a terrorist war that killed over 1,000 Israelis (and some 4,000 Palestinians) over the next six years. As a result, Israelis kicked Barak out and began a military counteroffensive, and negotiations stopped.

The same happened last year after Israel left Gaza. Israelis subsequently elected Ehud Olmert on a platform of doing the same in most of the West Bank. But the Palestinians, instead of seizing this opening to declare a cease-fire and negotiate further concessions, opted for violence: They used evacuated Gaza as a launching pad for bombarding southern Israel with rockets, and then, for good measure, elected Hamas, which openly advocates Israel's destruction. As a result, not only are negotiations still on hold, so is Olmert's proposed West Bank withdrawal.

THE SECOND reason why addressing the culture of violence is crucial is that even if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could somehow be resolved without doing so, this would do nothing to solve other problems either within the Muslim world or between the Muslim world and the West - because the number of potential grievances is endless. These include cultural differences (the Danish cartoons), economic issues (last year's riots in France), foreign policy issues (Iraq, Afghanistan) and more.

The Blair-Annan-Kissinger idea seems to be that if Muslims were appeased over Israel they might abjure violence over other issues. But, in fact, history teaches the opposite: Just as Hitler, far from being appeased by the West's handover of Czechoslovakia, instead concluded that he could also grab Poland with impunity, thereby igniting World War II, so has every concession to Muslim terror simply encouraged Muslims to think that violence pays.

Israel's pullout from Gaza, which 84 percent of Palestinians attributed to terror, was a major factor in both their election of Hamas, the leading Palestinian terrorist organization, and their ongoing majority support for terrorism. Spain's pullout from Iraq following the Madrid bombing encouraged al-Qaida to plan similar bombings in other countries. And Muslims worldwide credit Iraqi terror with America's expected pullout from Iraq.

If the West really wants to solve its Muslim problem, it must adopt the opposite approach - making it clear that violence, far from being rewarded, will be penalized. By instead seeking to appease the Muslim world in Israeli coin, it merely proves that violence pays.

And it will thereby reap more of the same.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Psychological terrorism

Political correctness used as a weapon:

Air marshals, pilots and security officials yesterday expressed concern that airline passengers and crews will be reluctant to report suspicious behavior aboard for fear of being called "racists," after several Muslim imams made that charge in a press conference Monday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

Six imams, or Muslim holy men, accused a US Airways flight crew of inappropriately evicting them from a flight last week in Minneapolis after several passengers said the imams tried to intimidate them by loudly praying and moving around the airplane. The imams urged Congress to enact laws to prohibit ethnic and religious "profiling."

Federal air marshals and others yesterday urged passengers to remain vigilant to threats.

"The crew and passengers act as our additional eyes and ears on every flight," said a federal air marshal in Las Vegas, who asked that his name not be used. "If [crew and passengers] are afraid of reporting suspicious individuals out of fear of being labeled a racist or bigot, then terrorists will certainly use those fears to their advantage in future aviation attacks."

But Rabiah Ahmed, spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said Muslims "have to walk around on eggshells in public just because we don't want to be misconstrued as suspicious. You have to strike a balance between legitimate fears which people may have, but not allow passengers to have so much discretion that they can trigger a process that would violate a traveler's basic civil rights."

"Because one person misunderstood the actions of other law-abiding citizens, they were able to trigger a very long and daunting process for other travelers that were pulled off the plane in handcuffs and detained for many hours before they were cleared."

The imams say they were removed from the Phoenix-bound flight because they were praying quietly in the concourse. They had been in Minnesota for a conference sponsored by the North American Imams Federation.

But other passengers told police and aviation security officials a different version of the incident. They said suspicious behavior of the imams led to their eviction from the flight. The imams, they said, tested the forbearance of the passengers and flight crew in what the air marshal called a "[political correctness] probe."

"The political correctness needs to be left at the boarding gate," the marshal said. "Instilling politically correct fears into the minds of airline passengers is nothing less than psychological terrorism."

The passengers and flight crew said the imams prayed loudly before boarding; switched seating assignments to a configuration used by terrorists in previous incidents; asked for seat-belt extensions, which could be used as weapons; and shouted hostile slogans about al Qaeda and the war in Iraq.

Flight attendants said three of the six men, who did not appear to be overweight, asked for the seat-belt extensions, which include heavy metal buckles, and then threw them to the floor under their seats.

Robert MacLean, a former federal air marshal, expressed the fear yesterday that the situation "will make crews and passengers in the future second-guess reporting these events, thus compromising the aircraft's security out of fear of being labeled a dogmatist or a bigot, or being sued."

Flight attendants said they were concerned that the way the imams took seats that were not assigned to them -- two seats in the front row of first class, exit seats in the middle of the plane and two seats in the rear -- resembled the pattern used by September 11 hijackers, giving them control of the exits.

A Minneapolis police officer and a federal air marshal who were called to the plane after the imams refused to leave the plane for questioning said "the seating configuration, the request for seat-belt extensions, the prior praying and utterances about Allah and the United States in the gate area ... was suspicious."

One pilot for a competing airline said the incident would have a chilling effect on the flight crews.
"The flight crew may be a little more gun-shy about approaching people, they may have a higher standard for the next few weeks for screening unusual behavior. I hope that's not the case, because I do think US Airways did the proper thing."

Andrea Rader, spokeswoman for US Airways, said its employees "are going to do what is appropriate" to ensure that airplanes are safe and will not be dissuaded by uproar over last week's incident.

"I don't think people will be less vigilant as a result of this, and I think that's appropriate. There is a balance, and I think we will continue to achieve that. Our crews and people on the airplanes are going to watch for behavior that raises concerns."

Many airports offer private rooms for prayer, but CAIR's Miss Ahmed said travelers required to arrive at airports two hours in advance to go through security inspections are too exhausted and must pray at the gate.

"It's convenient to check in then get to the gate and pray there," she said.

see web stats