Select Page

Month: February 2008

Number 5

News And Comment Depending on whom you ask, the surge in Iraq is working or making things worse. Who is right? Let’s see how easy it will be to find out. We begin with a piece by Michael Kinsley, a leftist journalist with a long history of advocacy in “progressive” causes. His snide attitude makes him a favorite on TV and with those who do not need convincing. A quote: thanks to the success of the surge, Kinsley notes that in Iraq, “Performances of Shakespeare by local repertory companies have tripled.” Kinsley argues that a surge could be considered successful only if it promptly permitted massive reductions of US forces in Iraq. His presumptuously idiosyncratic definition has attracted criticism such as this post on the internet. Next, here’s a damning report on the surge that recently appeared in Rolling Stone. No, the fact that the magazine knows a lot more about sex and drugs and rock and roll than it knows about anything else does not automatically disqualify the source. The author argues that police brutality is routine for US forces, who kick in doors and beat people up without let or hindrance. That’s both confusing and upsetting, because the US military told us that misbehavior of that sort is aberrant and infrequent. Now we learn that it is actually de facto policy! And it gets worse: the surge...

Read More

Number 4

News, Commentary And Speculation While events in Iraq have been going against the “Al Qaeda in Iraq” forces and their allies, Afghanistan is not viewed optimistically by all observers. The Taleban intend to take the country back, and some say the fanatics are gaining ground. We begin, therefore, with a summaryof events in that unfortunate nation — and note parenthetically that the major news media, most of which are eager to report the hopelessness and futility of Western efforts to extract Islamofascism’s fangs, once again have let events go under-reported. The big news organizations may be biased and inaccurate, but at least they are slow and clumsy.   Now to Iraq. Before bestowing credibility on Pelosi and Reid, you should consider a recent, rational evaluation of how Al Qaeda is doing in Iraq. (Hint: poorly, and getting worse.) Maybe bin Laden’s boys keep up their morale because they read only the NY Times?   The surge: is it working? This from the “Willing Suspension of Disbelief” department: If you’re looking for one measure of the impact of last year’s troop surge in Iraq, look at Gen. David Petraeus as he walks through a Baghdad neighborhood, with no body armor, and no helmet. Read the whole post, Hilly.   Sadr City was mentioned prominently in a recent PenPo; as predicted, events there are heating up. The increase in military, legal,...

Read More

Number 3

Special Report: The Context And Significance Of Suicide Bombing In the West, suicide is generally understood as an individual’s attempt to end intolerable misery, and is (at least) frowned upon. In the Islamic world, it is a weapon of war. The British weekly newsmagazine The Economist continues: That prompts some Westerners to assert a link between Islam — especially Shia Islam, with its stress on martyrdom — and readiness for self-destruction. But scholars who comb the available data about suicide attacks are often sceptical about religion’s role. Robert Pape, of the University of Chicago, has identified three factors that make suicide terrorism probable. It is likely to occur when a community feels it is under occupation that must be resisted; when the “occupier” is a democratic society whose opinion can be swayed; and where there is a sectarian difference between the perpetrators’ community and the target community. In his view, religious differences help to make suicide attacks conceivable, but they are not the main driver. Nichole Argo, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, agrees that religion’s role is limited. What counts is a background of support for the idea of insurgency: a sense among self-annihilators that their peers will see them as heroes. Nor is religious indoctrination a big factor, Ms Argo insists; only a fraction of the alumni of hard-line madrasas in Pakistan and Indonesia engage...

Read More

Number 2

Wide-Open Borders Thousands Of Miles Long, Plus 12 Million Comfortably Settled Illegals, Equal A Huge Problem Immigration is the topic, and you won’t find a more informative and useful site on the internet than that put up by the folks at Numbers USA. The home page is not where you should start, however. Before you go any further, view the video that provides the most important information. It’s excellent…a true Must See. Flies in the ointment: there is concern that an advisor to Senator John McCain is on the wrong side of the fence. Is that yet another reason why voters should shy away from McCain, or not vote at all? That’s a hard call, but those who consider secure borders and a truly sovereign nation’s control over its immigrants important are shifting nervously in their seats. McCain, who sometimes appears to be the US Senator for Mexico, should dump this guy. Then there is news that Homeland Security has stopped doing proper background checks on applicants. Bureaucrats have to be fed, watered, rested — but most of all, supervised. The GW Bush White House has poor supervisory skills. The bright side: Arizona and Oklahoma lead the other states in getting tough on employers who attract illegal migrants, and it works. People are leaving! (More of the same). Some are going back to Mexico and many are moving to...

Read More

Number 1

The Anniversary That Must Not Be Celebrated The end of January and early February mark the anniversary of a stunning coup. Forty years ago, events began unfolding that culminated in the greatest triumph of the US news media since the trial of John Peter Zenger: the journalists reversed US foreign policy. And they did it by telling lies. That was a breathtakingly bold accomplishment. Today it defines the implicit assumptions of the news media. The facts are presented in an article by Arthur Herman. Annotated excerpts: …more than a quarter million North Vietnamese soldiers and 100,000 Viet Cong irregulars … (The) VC had lost 80,000-100,000 killed or wounded without capturing a single province. The Viet Cong insurgency was in its death throes, just as U.S. military officials assured the American people at the time. Yet the press version painted a different picture. The Communist offensive was frustrated by US forces because the Communists blundered into resorting to conventional warfare. In response, the US news media portrayed the defeat of the Communists as a defeat of the USA. Why? Herman puts it gently: they panicked. “…(Tet) put many reporters in physical danger for the first time.” The VC had scattered their attacks across South Vietnam, hitting targets that were surprised to find themselves under attack. Journalists were often located in such “safe” areas. That shattered the notion that the war...

Read More