March 2007

No, I’m not doing the sensible thing and heading south. I’m going into the cold north, to check out colleges with my daughter (who loves the cold so much she has dreams of being an ice diver..brrr)

Have a good weekend!

Wretchard at the Belmont Club describes three recent disasters –

1. In 2000 a literal mountain of garbage collapsed on scavengers at a dump site near the Philippine legislative building burying about 300 people.

2. In Gaza, an overloaded septic system in Northern Gaza burst, unleashing a “tsunami” which overwhelmed the Bedouin farming village of Umm al-Nasr.

3. Last year in Lagos fuel thieves punctured a gasoline pipeline, causing residents to scramble to grab buckets of gushing fuel. Inevitably some cigarette or metal-on-metal spark caused a disaster, and the resulting explosion killed at least 260 people.

He says:

…These three incidents illustrate what environmentalists in the West often forget: that the Third World operates on an entirely different mental planet. Many years ago I actually lived for some months in and around a dump site far worse than the one which collapsed. It was known as Smokey Mountain; and the infernal fires which arose from it night and day were caused by the spontaneous combustion of organic material underfoot. If anything resembled a terrestrial version of hell, it was Smokey Mountain at night with garbage trucks snaking up the hill amidst pillars of fire and smoke, attended by what seemed innumerable legions of imps. The site was featured in many documentaries which purported to show the horror of life in the Third World, but I can tell you, from first hand experience, that the denizens of Smokey Mountain considered themselves to be comparatively lucky. They had a guaranteed income.

Each square meter of Smokey Mountain was divided into territories. Whatever was dumped into those territories could be ripped out and sold — copper wire, glass bottles, waste paper, metal — and carved into the sides of this garbage mountain were processing sites where the glass was smashed and binned into baskets, tin cans were flattened and formed into bales, and copper wire was extracted from the interiors of motors or cables. Paper, especially long-fiber white paper, was sold by the kilo. One sharp practice, favored by the scavengers, was to dampen the paper in water before having it weighed, a process called “bomba”…

…A tremendous amount of recycling was achieved in this way. What you have to understand is that the garbage which finally settled to the bottom of Smokey Mountain had been stripped of its last usable material. It was picked clean. Most of Manila’s cardboard, a considerable percentage of its glass bottles and quite a bit of its scrap metal came from the labor of thousands of scavengers. From a certain point of view it was the epitome of “appropriate technology”. It was almost fantastically “Green”. And come to think of it, it was mostly honest labor…

Read it all – and the comments.

Michael Totten and Patrick Lasswell found themselves in a comedy of manners when they discovered that they were talking to the wrong groups of armed, revolutionary communists in Kurdistan.

But, since these armed Kurdish Stalinists had already offered them tea and a nice lunch, it was all water under the bridge. Communists aren’t required to be rude to everyone who disagrees with them – this is Kurdistan, not Jersey City.

These hard-line Kurdish communists interviewed in The Iranian Revolution in Iraq answered a question I’ve been wondering about for years – Iranian leftists supported Khomeini’s Revolution, and Khomeini repaid their efforts by annihilating the Left in Iran. Why are Iraninian leftists so opposed to American efforts to fight Islamist terrorism and Ahmadinejad?

“So do you think American foreign policy is wrong?” I said.

“Yes, it is,” he said.

“What do you think it should be then?” I said.

“The best thing is for America not to interfere with the situation in the world,” he said. “Wherever they meddle they spoil the region – from Afghanistan to Iraq.”

“Was Afghanistan better off under the Taliban?” Patrick said.

“I don’t think it was better,” Hassan said. “But the Taliban was a party established by Americans. They helped them against the Soviet Union at that time.”

Lord only knows how long it will take for this leftist canard to die. The Taliban didn’t exist until long after the Americans left Afghanistan and forgot all about it. Serious analysts of the Middle East know the Taliban was created with Saudi money by Pakistan’s ISI – its intelligence agency – and from the very beginning was an enemy of the United States. But this was an interview, not an argument, so I left him alone about it.

“Ok, so what do you think of the Soviet Union?” I said. I thought perhaps he was angry about the American support for the mujahadeen (not the Taliban) against Soviet imperialism. Maybe he liked the Soviet Union. He is a Communist, after all.

“The Soviet Union was an imperialist country. We were never in favor of the Soviet Union.”

“If the United States wanted to help the people of Iran struggle against the dictatorship,” I said, “would you welcome that assistance, or would you rather the Americans stay out?”

“We think meddling in Iranian affairs is a bad thing,” he said. “There is already the reality of a struggle against the regime. There are many people who are already against the Iranian regime. Let them do what they want to do.”

Of course, America and Russia aren’t the only nations that meddle in other nations’ affairs. Iran’s neighbors are funding terrorist/paramilitary ‘meddling’ around the world. If the Iranian people did manage to seize control of their government, their neighbors would send in the insurgents and Iran would be another Iraq.

I don’t agree with their assesment of the situation, but at least I understand where it’s coming from.

More about Kurdish communist views and hospitality here and here..

Marvin Kalb and Carol Saivetz analyze the media’s role in the Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006 (pdf)

Add one other crucial ingredient to this journalistic wartime stew of charge and countercharge—and that was the Internet. This was a live war, in which the information battlefield played a central role. Here the Israelis suffered from the openness of their democratic society. They succumbed to the public pressures of live 24/7 coverage. They couldn’t keep a secret. Hezbollah, on the other hand, controlled its message with an iron grip. It had one spokesman and no leaks. Hezbollah did not have to respond to criticism from bloggers, and it could always count on unashamedly sympathetic Arab reporters to blast Israel for its “disproportionate” military attack against Lebanon.

Nik Gowing, a respected BBC World anchor, warned at a recent Harvard conference that the “new asymmetric information—the new level of accountability and public perceptions in a time of crisis” exposed “the vulnerability of traditional institutions of power and influence.” Israel, in this context, was the “traditional institution,” made suddenly “vulnerable” by the flow of “asymmetric information.” Gowing gave an example of how “in a time of crisis and tension, public perceptions can be created by the new media matrix.” During the war, even though Israel still had military censorship, technically, “you could be up there on the northern border [of Israel] filming, uplinking live war: live war of soldiers moving into south Lebanon, live war of anti-tank missiles immobilizing Merkava tanks.” Such reporting, common on the Israeli side of the war, had “a fundamental impact on the reputation and the image and the fear factor created by the IDF.” The bloggers helped spread the impression of Israeli “vulnerability.” Gowing said “it was the bloggers and the calls to radio stations, which were highlighting the vulnerability of the Israeli defense forces.”

Whether the flavor of journalism is American or Qatari, both march to their own drummer, both convinced their principles best define good and honest journalism. Efforts at reconciliation are likely to fail, at least in the near future. Yet both schools of journalism, however different they may be, are strongly influenced in their practice by what might be called “the new media,” that combustible mix of 24/7 cable news, call-in radio and television programs, Internet bloggers and online websites, cell phones and iPods. The upshot is a new kind of populist journalism, which strongly influences the story that is being covered. Indeed, the journalist or, in this new age, the commentator, often becomes part of the story.

Link thanks to Noah Pollak

Via Frontpage

In arguing that the Brotherhood is presently “rejecting jihad”, even the limited examples they cite don’t hold up under scrutiny; and in claiming that the organization is “embracing democracy”, they are clearly equivocating in their use of the term.

To make a case for the “Moderate Muslim Brotherhood” requires nothing short of blind faith. No amount of spin offered by the “progressive” policy wonks or media pundits can account for the fact that not only has the Muslim Brotherhood spawned virtually ever single Islamic terrorist organization in the world, but they have used the financial network established by the Brotherhood to conduct their bloody business (an excellent and concise treatment of this subject is available: Douglas Farah, “The Little Explored Offshore Empire of the International Muslim Brotherhood”). This direct support for terrorism is not just past, but present, policy on their part.

That financial network contains billions of reasons not to trust these terrorists and liars.

Patrick Poole has even more reasons at his site..

– Links thanks to LGF

Congratulations, Cinnamon Stillwell!

At Moderate Risk, Patrick Lasswell asks “Is Petraeus Being Played?”

At a late night meeting with senior political players in Iraq, concerns were raised about General Petraeus’ ability to distinguish friend from foe in Baghdad. The heart of the problem lies with the importance of the former Ba’ath party members and their involvement in the Islamic Party of Iraq. My sources claim to hold documents from April 2003 from Saddam’s Headquarters directing Ba’ath loyalists to join the Islamic Party and gain control of it. They are also very experienced in the brutal political realities of Iraq. Of significant concern to my hosts was the movement from Mosul to Baghdad of the leader of the Islamic Party that Petraeus worked with when he was in command of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). My hosts also worked with General Petraeus during that time and had met him repeatedly. They assessed him as very smart and quite well organized and had nothing disparaging to say about his character or leadership, however, his political savvy in tumultuous Iraq was questioned.

This is a difficult post for me to write, both because I am a junior member of the active reserves and because of my personal admiration for Gen. Petraeus…


Next Page »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.