Monday, July 24, 2006

Juan Cole Watch (3)

A fellow Neocon Zionist conspirator pointed me to what he called "the funniest thing [Juan] Cole has ever written" (which is saying something from Mr. 9-11 was a response to Jenin)
The Israelis tend to launch their wars of choice in the summer, in part because they know that European and American universities will be the primary nodes of popular opposition, and the universities are out in the summer.
I responded to him as follows:
Apart from nutty ... it's not even TRUE (for comparison, it WAS a fact that a half-dozen or so American presidents in a row elected in years ending in "0" DID in fact die in office -- a streak broken by Ronald Reagan. The underlying fact was TRUE, however nutty any theory of causation would be).

Obviously, a lot turns on what Juan means by "optional," but beyond question, Israel's most clearly "optional" war was the 1956 Suez invasion, which occurred in October. October.

And yes, the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1982 Lebanon invasion were both launched in June, but it doesn't seem to enter Juan's mind that both were at least somewhat provoked. One could say of the latter case ... I emphasize COULD say ... that the Israeli response was disproportionate and/or not in response to an existential threat (in fact, the latter claim seems pretty obvious. The occasional PLO shelling of Galilee and assassination attempts on Israeli diplomats, bad though they were, did not pose the threat to Israel's *existence* that Nasser's and Sadat/Assad's militaries did in 1967 and 1973).

But of 1967, there can be no question that it was provoked by the Arabs (and I'm counting it as an optional war in the purely formal sense that Israel struck the first military blow ... though not the first act of war). One might consider it not an optional war, but that would take out half the examples, prior to this one, of Israel launching a major war. Just during May, Nasser remilitarized the Sinai and kicked out UN forces, closed the Straits of Tiran (an act of war), and signed a military pact with Jordan that included putting the kingdom's forces under an Egyptian general. Nasser said in signing it "Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight."

Consider two further basic facts, and the assumption of Cole's basic sanity and/or integrity as a scholar disappears. Of course, it would be churlish and not strictly speaking relevant, for me to point out that the Arabs launch THEIR wars of choice on Jewish high holy days. But it would be satisfactory, in terms of pointing what a one-sided blind buffoon Juan is.

For one thing, the anti-Israel/pro-Arab/divestment movement on US campuses is a relatively recent phenomenon, mid-to-late-90s at the earliest. When I was on US campuses -- 1986-1994 -- the big foreign-policy cause was apartheid and divestment in South Africa. (Ironically, those years and the previous decade was the era of much of the Israel/South Africa footsie-playing.) Sure, the radical left could be relied on for a few pro-Palestinian gestures, but it usually item 7 in a laundry list. And as you go farther back from my years in college -- and you have to to get to any of Israel's three major optional wars -- you'd shade into times when, because of US demography and immigration patterns, and college admission rules, there were fewer Arab, Muslim and Third World students. In that era, you also had, proportionately-speaking, a much stronger Jewish influence on US campuses, expressed in the policies of Cold War Democrats (who were for much of the post-WW2/pre-80s era, more pro-Israel than the Republicans). Not until Peace Now! did you get major dissent from liberal/leftist Jews in Israel and the US, and on American campuses, against Israeli military policies. And that group didn't even exist until the late-70s, and didn't become more than a fringe player outside Israel until the 1982 Lebanon invasion, and it launched its largest protest to date in Israel in response to Sabra and Shatila, which occurred after Israel launched the war and the PLO had fled Lebanon. In other words, Israel wouldn't even theoretically have had to think about hostile Western campus activism in launching any of its major optional wars. (Suez is practically ancient history to campus activists.)

Second, summer is a very popular time for launching military operations for a rather obvious reason. The weather tends to be good (that's why they call it "summer," I think). That helps in launching military offensives. Just a few examples -- it was not until quite recently that "all-weather" capability became standard for combat aircraft; even when you CAN fly, clouds, wind and precipitation make flying harder and add another consideration; tanks and armored vehicles have always had a difficult time dealing with snow and mud; the sea tends to be calmer, which facilitates naval operations (the British had to win the Falklands War ASAP -- the Argentines invaded in April -- before the Southern Hemisphere's winter made naval operations too risky). Hitler launched most of Germany's major offensives in the spring and summer for these reasons. And we know that Juan loves Israel-Nazi comparisons, so maybe we can just say the Likudniks are learning from their Master.
To add a few further thoughts here:

I think it may be the case that teaching at Yale a university, attending seminars and conferences, etc., gives one a much greater sense that you matter than you in fact do. After all, what one sees tends to define, or at least constrain, one's universe. If you have surrounded yourself in an "Israel is evil" cocoon, which you see less of in June, July and August than the other months of the year, it's natural, in a certain sense, to think. After all, nobody likes to think he's irrelevant. Nevertheless, Israel would be foolish by now not to have written off the dhimmified Euro-American intellectual classes. And I think it psychotic to imagine that Israeli military or Cabinet actions are even remotely affected by whether the New Haven Ann Arbor Multicultural Justice for Palestine march has 100 or 500 protesters. That is pure, unadulterated narcissism.

Second, it indicates the skewed view of the universe Juan has (has I do mean that). Every Arab/Muslim action has a context, has a history, is a response to centuries of colonialism and humiliation, etc. But Israel (and the US) simply are and simply do. When Israel invades in June, there's an element of choice; it cannot be forced on them by the Arabs. The Israelis/Americans are never constrained, their actions never have a context. When they do something, it is because they choose to do that something. But when Juan (as he does on occasion) admits that Arabs/Muslims do wrong, it was the Israelis/Americans that made them do it. Historical materialism for one group; Sartrean existentialism for the other. To say this is dehumanizing of Arabs/Muslims is almost too polite. It reduces them to animals, incapable of moral choice.

Third, there was also this interesting quote from Juan not highlighted by my Mossad co-lackey:
Matthew Kalman reveals that Israel's wideranging assault on Lebanon has been planned in a general way for years, and a specific plan has been in the works for over a year.
This would be a revelation or even very interesting only to those with no understanding of how a military works. Which includes Juan. He then riffs off this into more insanity:
That this war was pre-planned was obvious to me from the moment it began. (cites operational details) ...
[Bush] clearly thought that it broke out because Syria used Hizbullah to create a provocation. The President of the United States did not know that this war was a long-planned Israeli war of choice.
Militaries develop contingency plans. That's a large part of what military planners do during peacetime. And what dictates their training (after all, you have to train FOR something, there's limits to what generic "training" can do). The existence of a contingency plan, even an updated one, proves nothing, zero, nada, zip, zilch, about why and when politicians act upon them. It doesn't deny a stated causa belli fthat contingency plans pre-existed that event. I have no doubt that there's a plan somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon for an invasion of Canada. Updating it weekly to cope with changes in the Canuck military juggernaut probably isn't a very high priority, but I have no doubt it exists. It wouldn't prove that the US is in any meaningful sense "planning to invade Canada." (Plus, there's another leftist double standard here, about the licety of contingency plans ... remember how they bitched about how Rumsfeld invaded Iraq without a plan to secure the peace. That was awesome.)

Is it really a surprise that Israel has been worried about Hezbollah rocket and missile attacks from south Lebanon for some years. (Well, to Juan, maybe.) A nation being attacked might have developed contingency plans for an invasion in the event that something in some attack justified war in response (leave aside whether this particular act was justified at this particular time ... at SOME point, maybe a sarin-warhead missile hitting downtown Tel Aviv ... Israel would have to have a right to invade south Lebanon to put a stop to it. Unless it's Juan's view that the Jews should meekly submit to their extermination, as the Islamofascists say they will do). But if such a circumstance, leave aside what it might be, were to come about, Israel better damn well have a plan ready to implement quickly. But because Israel had a plan, Juan assumes he's entitled to say that
This war has nothing to do with captured Israeli soldiers. It is a long-planned war to increase Israel's ascendency over Hizbullah and its patrons.
This assumes that events have only one cause and no occasions. Hezbollah and Hamas repeatedly declare themselves at war with Israel (most of the Arab states, including Syria and Lebanon are formally so too). Hezbollah has fought Israel constantly for 20 years, and didn;t stop after the withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

Plus, did Juan read to the end of the San Francisco Chronicle article he links to? Kalman makes it explicit that the planning was a response to the withdrawal from south Lebanon, and Hezbollah, which repeatedly calls for the destruction of Israel, setting up shop there (Kalman doesn't mention the mobilization-ready population of Western college campuses for some reason). he also has this rather interesting tidbit:
There was no plan, according to this scenario, to reoccupy southern Lebanon on a long-term basis.
Not what Juan tells us benighted non-Arabic speakers, most recently, in this post:
For instance, the Israelis have a big interest in the Litani River in south Lebanon. If and when the Israeli military and political elite felt they needed to add territory by taking it from neighbors, they wished to retain that capability.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Remember this photo

... when the Terror Excuse Makers¹ talk about "old women," and other categories designed to elicit the sympathy of gullible Westerners, who are being victimized by the Mean Israelis. (Hat tip: Michelle). As I noted below in re the Japanese at the end of 1945, the combatant/noncombatant distinction is a fluid one, constructed not natural and constructed in every society differently.

In a war, you can only observe the combatant/noncombatant distinctions according to the categories your opponents let you. In other words, if they arm women and children, you can't give women and children a pass. Giving women and children a pass was always premised on the chivalric notion that arming them was dishonorable.
¹ A very different group from the Terrorists themselves, and the one which most Western liberals belong. They will say "well, of course I deplore terrorism," while providing every excuse under the sun for it and/or running interference against doing anything against it (except appeasement) based on any principle at hand that day, even principles that contradict those cited yesterday

Great Minds Think Alike Dept., Take 2

Greg beat me to the punch by posting in my comment field links to essays written last year by



Shawn McElhinney

... that take apart the moral(-istic) case that Catholic apologists and writers have been making every year against the A-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The most important points I'd like to highlight is this:

(a) If an action (like, say, any and every use of a nuclear weapon) is intrinsically evil, then a threat to commit said intrinsic evil in the name of same other good is morally equivalent.

(b) The Church has not forbidden the possession of nuclear weapons, and in some circumstances even tacitly approved of their possession.¹

(c) Therefore, nuclear weapons must have a licit use.

(d) Deterrence alone doesn't cut it as a legitimate use. Partly because of point (a), and partly because of the manifest fact that a threat is only effective if people believe you will act on it.

(e) Hiroshima and Nagasaki were in fact small, by the standards of the nuclear weapons that have followed them. But happened there is what happens when nuclear weapons are used.

So Hiroshima and Nagasaki can only be intrinsically immoral from the premise that, at a minimum, total nuclear disarmament (I'd argue absolute absolute pacifism too, but that's a point for another day) is morally obligatory. And that is a premise that is obviously off the table.

¹As the French bishops put it in 1984: "in the present geo-political context, can a country, which is being threatened in its life, in its liberty, or identify, morally have the right to fend off this radical threat [referring to the tyrannical false religion of Marxism-Leninism, VJM] by effective counter-threat, one which is even nuclear? Up until now, while stressing the limited character of such a parry, and the enormous risk which it entails, the Catholic Church has not believed it necessary to condemn it."

I ♥ Ann Coulter

In her latest column, the grand diva of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy puts her finger right on how liberalism is cowardice masquerading as morality and sobriety (or in its Catholic versions, cowardice¹ masquerading as piety).

My favorite Coulter line is:
But according to Dean, the Democrats would have the "moral authority that Bill Clinton had" – no wait! keep reading – "when he brought together the Israelis and Palestinians." Clinton really brokered a Peace in Our Time with that deal – "our time" being a reference to that five-minute span during which he announced it. Yasser Arafat immediately backed out on all his promises and launched the second intifada.
Does Dean have any sense of history, is everything about domestic politics? What is he babbling about? "Bringing people together" is not a good thing when one side sees it as a short-term strategy to facilitate the long-term extermination of the other. But because Clinton was so concerned with his 1999-2000 "Legacy Tour" -- which included the Camp David meetings between Barak and Arafat, the collapse of which triggered the second Intafada -- we never even thought to ask himself whether the situation was ripe for peace. It was all about "bringing people together" considered as a per se good or an end in itself. Thankfully, the current Israeli and American governments are not under such illusions and know the prospects for peace and security are directly correlated to the height of the Hamas and Hezbollah funeral pyres. As Sam Peckinpah might put it: Bring Me the Head of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

There are only two choices with savages: fight or run. Democrats always want to run, but they dress it up in meaningless catchphrases like "diplomacy," "detente," "engagement," "multilateral engagement," "multilateral diplomacy," "containment" and "going to the U.N." ...

Democrats like to talk tough, but you can never trap them into fighting. There is always an obscure objection to be raised in this particular instance – but in some future war they would be intrepid! One simply can't imagine what that war would be.

My favorite example of liberal perfidy on this point was their talking point for years during the 1990s that the cat-and-mouse game with Saddam Hussein (plus the crippling effects of a decade of sanctions) was all the fault of George Bush (41) for not "finishing the job" against Saddam by leaving him in power after Kuwait (Republicans made similar arguments too). I specifically remember Mario Cuomo saying "George Bush wouldn't finish the fight he started. I would."

But as Coulter points out, with liberals, there is never enough evidence to actually start a fight. She points out Biden ... there's not enough evidence that Iran has nukes, so we can't go to war; North Korea has nukes, so we can't go to war. The one exception unnoted by Coulter is that if it to their political advantage that there be enough evidence, there will always be enough evidence. They bitch about going to war against Iraq based on "uncertain intelligence" (that phrase being a redundant construction, BTW) about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. That will stick in the craws of those of us who remember their (post hoc, of course) complaints about the behavior of law enforcement and intelligence prior to September 11 how law enforcement "failed to connect the dots" and all that. "Connecting the dots" is of course, merely another way of saying "conjecturing" and "guessing." Such conjectures and guesses will, of course, turn out to be right some of the time, but some of the time, they will not. (This is why they're called "guesses.") If they're not ... then Bushitleretardespot cooked the books and substituted professional judgement and leaned on subordinates and all the rest of that narrative.

Comparing pre-9/11 and pre-Iraq war is unfair in one respect -- there is no way we would have gone to war had we been able to roll up the 9/11 conspirators by connecting the dots (or by not handing out to young Arab males U.S. entry visas as if they were beads at Mardi Gras). One would at least think that arresting the 19 (or 20) hijackers would have been a good start. But when it comes time to actually arrest people in the present tense, rather than with 20/20 hindsight, liberals worry more about the things that really matter to them -- namely avoiding racial profiling.

When the gang of domestic Jihadis plotting to bring down the Sears Tower was arrested, we got the complaint that this gang didn't look like America, and so was really Willie Horton ×7 cooked up by Karl Rove. I am not kidding. Had the FBI rolled up Atta et al, we would have heard the same crap.

Liberals would have noticed that this "alleged Al Qaeda cell" were all Arabs and all Muslims and demanded to know why Arabs and Muslims were being singled out, like how Bill Clinton got all indignant and tried to play the race card to insulate himself from Chinagate². We would have heard how McVeigh and Nichols were white and how "Jihad" is a concept of colonialist Orientalism (Edward Said would have assured us). Frank Rich would have declared as fact that the 19 could have been scapegoated for "flying while Arab" or "flight-training while Arab," which, he would have pompously noted, is not a crime. Larry King would have had some United pilot named Ahmed on to discuss how patriotic he is. And the left-radicals among them would have come out and said "this isn't about terrorism at all but about stirring the long simmering pot of American racism that is only more spicy now due to a growing anger and a need for traditional scapegoats." The neocons and the Israel lobby would have found a way into the narrative.

Heads I win, tails you lose. Liberalism is literally the philosophy of snivelling infants.
¹ And in a couple of cases, outright anti-Semitism.
² Inexplicably, in a story about China seeking to purchase influence in the Clinton administration, the dramatis personae included a lot of Huangs and Chungs, with a supporting cast of thousands of Buddhist monks. Whooda thunk it.

When is a civilian not a civilian?

That sounds like a really dumb question, I realize. "When he joins a military unit, either by volunteering or conscription," seems like the obvious answer. And it IS the correct one.

But you would be surprised how many people will implicitly deny it when flaunting their status as Truly Faithful Catholics,™ not blinded by Americanist Ideology, in the annual St. Blogs ritual of "Let's Debate The Hiroshima/Nagasaki Bombings," which is scheduled to begin in a couple of weeks. They will bang Gaudium et Spes 80 on the table and take for granted the characterization that the bombings were a mass slaughter of civilians.

That assumption is however wrong. Spectacularly. And has been known to be wrong from the very beginning. It is a fact, not disputed by anyone, that Japan had conscripted its entire male populace, ages 15-60, and female populace, 17-45, to resist an American invasion. With bamboo sticks and suicide-bomb attacks, if necessary (Britain had been in similarly dire straits after Dunkirk, with some Home Guard units planning to fight with spanners; there have been persistent reports that I've never checked the reliablity of that we also planned to use poison gas indiscriminately against Wehrmacht units should they land a significant number of troops). The military-civilian distinction is not a natural one -- it's entirely conventional and functional, based on the actions of individuals. I could become a combatant tomorrow. Eric Johnson recently became a civilian after years as a Marine, simply by signing (or rather, not signing) a piece of paper. There is thus no reason not to take Japanese universal conscription as effective and binding, and thus relevant to the combatant-noncombatant distinction. There is no "natural" military age -- and some cultures have fought with soldiers as young as 8 or 9 (though obviously, it's better not to) .and obviously physical infirmity varies from person to person.

In other words, by the actions of its government, its universal conscription, and their tendencies as gleaned from Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Japanese cities ceased to be "civilian" in any meaningful sense and became more like large bases, for the universal militia. Also (and this is relevant to "proportionality" and how "double effect" reasoning plays out) the killing of what looked like civilians really wasn't the killing of civilians, but the conscripted soldiers for the planned Operation Ketsu-Go suicide missions. So the 200,000 persons killed at Hiroshima, rather than (I'm making these numbers up for illustration's sake) 10,000 military personnel and 190,000 civilians (Hiroshima was unquestionably the HQ of the Japanese 2nd Army ... so it's not like any informed person could ever have claimed there was NO military value to A-bombing Hiroshima. The question has always been one of proportionality). But rather, it may have been more like killing maybe 150,000 from the battalions of Operation Ketsu-Go and 50,000 noncombatants. That obviously is a very different picture.

And it is also the facts, or very close to them, given the Japanese mass conscription. Anybody who simply says "slaughter 200,000 civilians" next month should be simply ignored or ridiculed. They don't know the most basic facts on the ground, and are thus not entitled to an opinion of the morality of the act, since they do not accurately describe and characterize said act in the first place. Garbage in, Garbage out.

Now, however it may look, this is not utilitarian calculus. Rather, my point is that since a "proportionate" number of civilians can be killed, foreseeably but unintendedly as a "double effect," in pursuit of legitimate military goals, universal japanese conscription made Hiroshima and Nagasaki more like conventional military raids. The only alternative to accepting the legitimacy of proportionate collateral damage (meaning the death of noncombatants) is morally-binding absolute pacifism, a position not held by the Church and plainly incompatible with Scripture and Tradition. We can disagree about what is "proportionate," and I'd certainly say that nuking, say, Tehran (and probably killing a seven-digit number of noncombatants) based on the certain knowledge that Osama bin Laden were somewhere in the city, would be disproportionate. Some sort of calculus that might look like utilitarianism has to occur at this point.

'Great Minds Think Alike' Dept.

I recently wrote in re the Hamdan decision:

All that's strictly necessary to know how wrongheaded and destructive of US security this decision is is to look at who is praising it: The New York Times; The Washington Post; the ACLU; CAIR, which wants to close Gitmo outright; The Nation; Human Rights Watch; Amnesty International.
Not exactly the people you'd want to have your back in an alley.

Shawn McElhinney (edited to correct misspell) writes to tell me that he recently coined a specific term for this form of reason in re the worst president of the second half of the 20th century¹ -- The Carter Corollary. Basically, if Jimmy Carter says it, it must be wrong. Well, yeah, stopped clocks and all, so not *must* in any strict sense. But close enough for government work.

With national security and the War on Islam Terrorism, we can call it the CAIR rule. If CAIR thinks it's a bad idea, we should do it.

[Victor mosies on over to the CAIR site to check for the last few days of press releases and bulletins, to determine that the Council on American Islamic Relations says ...]

● that US Muslims are angry at how US foreign policy is a puppet of Israel, designed to serve its interests.² Check.

● that its Canadian branch is pissed off that the hatemonger Franklin Graham is allowed to enter Canada.³ Check.

● that US Muslims plan a series of press conferences demanding that the US protect Arab civilians by imposing a cease-fire.⁴ Check.

Three for three. Looking like a good rule.

¹ All you need to know is this -- he is the only American president to have allowed the US to be invaded with impunity. I refer to the Embassy in Tehran, which, like every embassy worldwide under every international precedent, law and custom, is that country's sovereign territory. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Iran invaded the US. For some reason, the Islamists spent the next 20+ years under the assumption they could fuck with the US with impunity.

² Of course, in the Middle East, you're just as likely to hear that Israel is a pawn of the arrogant Great Satan, a Crusdar-state outpost. But never mind. We all know that cAir is an American organization with no connection to Middle Eastern Muslims. Which explains

³ When evangelical Christian terrorists start plotting to behead the prime minister, we'll talk. Until such time, any contemporary comparison between Christianity and Islam is obscene and a manifestation of dhimmi chic on the part of the (almost always nominally Christian) speaker.

⁴ Hezbollah and Hamas have both heard of the concept of "hudna," I believe.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Vlad the impaler

I don't approve of everything Vladimir Putin does and some of the stuff in his latest big speech to the Russian parliament, but I gotta have a bit of love for a guy with the style and ear for classical grandiosity and outlandish rhetoric that Putin has. Its great to look at from a distance and as your friend from that distance; though not so much up close.

Putin spoke to Russia's national legislature on the great event that was the death of Shamil Basayev, the top Chechen jihadist, who is probably now conversing with Zarqawi, Atta, Uday and Qusay, Sheik Yassin on the finer points of where Muhammad screwed up the meaning of "houris" and why the hell is it so hot in here. (Hopefully their Koran study group will soon be expanded to include Osama and/or Saddam.)

But his speech (I have put the full text here) is just ... remarkable. No current or recent American or Western politician speaks like this -- we'd consider him megalomaniacal or a movie dictator. He says he "will lead Russia to glory beyond your imagination." That St. Paul to the Corinthians, not the leader of a secular government talking. There's something almost ... Shakespearean (or more likely Tolstoyan) about speaking of "Russian civilization [having] carried on the legacy of the Roman and Byzantine empires as the crowning achievement of humanity," how Russia "will preserve the Roman flame for the next thousand years," and how "our long war is finally over and a thousand years of peace begins today." There's some bad recent precedent for European regimes making claims on the next 1,000 years.

And surely the warnings about Al Qaeda having been "aided by plutocratic industrialists and even some within our own government," his vow that "the political machinery of Russia will continue to be reorganized into a better guided and directed democracy" and his claims of how federalizing regional governments is necessary to stop the rise of local warlords -- they all probably don't speak well for the future of civil rights and freedom in Russia.

But my favorite line has got to be this: "Our loyal soldiers have contained the insurrection in the North Caucasus and will continue to suppress uprisings throughout the Federation until the language of the Chechen separatists is spoken only in hell!" None of this "winning hearts and minds" crap. Nor does he mince words in blaming those in the Middle East whom Russia thought were its friends. And I wonder what the Russian Civil Liberties Union thinks of such blatant religious imagery (compounded later by "We have been tested before God, but we have come through the crucible and emerged stronger in His eyes for it").

Really, all Vlad needs is his own Leni Riefenstahl, or, for a more Russian precedent, perhaps a Sergei Eisenstein, to film him. He's already got the lines and the "music" down pat. In fact ... Turner Classic Movies recently showed Eisenstein's two IVAN THE TERRIBLE movies. And the thing that strikes the contemporary viewer (I was seeing No. 2 for the first time) was how *far* and *thoroughly* the film takes operatic stylization. It's the closest I've ever seen a non-Japanese thing get to Kabuki theater (see the picture DVD cover for a sense of how anti-realistic a simple closuep is). There's hardly a thing realistic in the films' 200 minutes -- every gesture is outsized and conspiculously "performed," the faces stick out and cast enormous shadows on the walls, the dialog is incantatory and ritualized, the acting self-conscious and Big, the costumes like parodies of royal grandeur. I probably couldn't bear an identical film in English. But since I don't understand Russian anyway, I could enjoy the films as a stylized, outsized opera (understanding the words makes the experience too realistic to bear up under the weight of all this artifice).

What all this critical heavy breathing has to do with Putin is that his rhetoric and style -- its grandiose Ciceronic stylization -- seem to be coming from the same tradition as Eisenstein's films. And the main thrust of the IVAN films' plots had to do with Ivan uniting Russia as an enlightened despot. Some of the things he deals with are an Asiatic rebellion (Tartars, not Chechens, but nevertheless), plots by the boyars (nobility; or in the contmporary case, oligarchs) undermining Russian unity from within, an attempted assassination (Putin alludes to such plots against him in his speech too), and how Ivan crushes the boyars with a private spy network (this part got Eisenstein in trouble with Josef Stalin). Virtually everything Ivan struggles against, Putin alludes to, above and here:

By bringing all of Russia together under one law, one language, and the continued guidance of one individual, the corruption that so plagued our people during the era of Yeltsin will never again take root. Federalizing regional governments will eliminate mindless bureaucracy and petty local tyrants that allowed separatism to go unchecked.

It's not just IVAN THE TERRIBLE. This paragraph ...

[O]ur most cherished beliefs must remain safeguarded. We will defend our ideals by force of arms. We will give no ground to our enemies and will stand together against attacks from within or without. Let the enemies of Russia take heed: those who challenge our resolve will be eradicated from the annals of history.

... is virtually the closing speech that the victorious prince gives at the end of Eisenstein's ALEXANDER NEVSKY. Given the vagaries of translation and movie subtitling, it's close enough that it may even be the speech, or quote from it.

Juan Cole watch (2)

An email sent to me from a friend references this post at Informed Conspiracy, titled "Juan Goes off his meds again" ... this time over Hezbollah. From the Yale professor:

"Israeli spokesmen are saying that they want to finish off Hizbullah. But you can't finish off a mass movement among 1.35 million people. Besides, there wouldn't be any Hizbullah if Israel had not invaded Lebanon in 1982 and occupied the south for twenty-two years. Israel's grabby occupation radicalized and helped mobilize the Lebanese Shiites. They aren't going to become less radical and less mobilized as a result of the current hamfisted Israeli assault."

And this:

"Americans have to understand that when Israel goes wild and bombs a civilian airport and civilian neighborhoods in Beirut, a lot of the world's Catholics (Lebanon is partially a Catholic country) and its 1.4 billion Muslims blame the United States for it. Israel is given billions every year by the United States, including sophisticated weaponry that is now being trained on the slums of south Beirut. It should also be remembered that Bin Laden said, at least, that he started thinking about hitting New York when he saw that 1982 Israeli destruction of the skyscrapers or 'towers' of Lebanon. How many future Bin Ladens are watching with horror and rage and feelings of revenge as Israel drops bombs on civilian tenement buildings? When will this blow back on Americans? (I mean blow back in other ways than an already painful further spike in petroleum prices)."

To my friend's note:
A number of points could be made here, not the least of which being that attributing Hezbollah's creation to Israel, as opposed to the IRGC who ACTUALLY CREATED IT is bizarre at best. That he takes bin Laden at his word as to his motivations behind the 9/11 attacks is also dubious given that he was denying that he was officially involved in them until October 2004. At least Juan managed to get his history right though, as last time he claimed that bin Laden launched 9/11 because of Israeli military intervention in Jenin.

Still waiting for any condemnation of Syria or Iran for 1) likely ordering the Hezbollah attack that kicked this off and 2) not ordering the immediate release of the Israelis in question. I won't hold my breath, since in Juan's world both Arabs and Persians are helpless and the first cause of all evils is always the Jews.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Vatican misses the point

From an environment where feeling sorry for Saddam Hussein is not considered evidence of psychosis, we get the following bit of pecksniffery against ... who else? ... Israel. Here is the Vatican statement, from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the outgoing secretary of state (bold-facing mine):

"The Holy Father Benedict XVI and all his collaborators are following with great attention the latest dramatic episodes, which risk degenerating into a conflict with international repercussions.
"As in the past, the Holy See also condemns both the terrorist attacks on the one side and the military reprisals on the other. Indeed, a State's right to self-defense does not exempt it from respecting the norms of international law, especially as regards the protection of civilian populations.
"In particular, the Holy See deplores the attack on Lebanon, a free and sovereign nation, and gives assurances of its closeness to those people who have suffered so much in the defense of their own independence.
"Once again, it appears obvious that the only path worthy of our civilization is that of sincere dialogue between the contending parties."

It's incredible ... each paragraph contains either a descriptively inaccurate statement or a wispy bit of moral(istic) reverie, which explains why the Vatican is an almost-perfect negative compass for what Israel and the nation-states of Christendom ought to do in the Middle East.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't expect a contemporary pope to act like Innocent III, calling for Crusades and demanding that secular leaders pony up the forces to fight against the Mahometan heathens. The Vatican is no longer a secular power and since its primary concern is (and should be) the wellbeing of Dhimmi Christians in the Muslim world, appearance and prudence alone would justify a certain critical stance toward the US and Israel. Indeed the really cynical part of me thinks that it's good that the Church not be seen as an agent of Crusader imperialism, as long as no Catholic in the West takes his moral and geopolitical bearings from this dance the Vatican must perform. That second clause does not obtain, though. Taking each bold-faced clause in turn:

● Israel's actions against Hamas in the Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon do not "risk degenerating" into an international conflict. The firing of rockets and the kidnappings of Israeli soldiers across international borders by foreign parties IS an international conflict. Per se. An international conflict in recent weeks is an accomplished fact, and Israel is merely fighting back. Such actions as Hezbollah (part of the Lebanese government) and Hamas (the Palestinian government) undertook have always been understood as acts of war. Always. But when Israel fights back ... well ... now there's an international conflict. (If I wanted to be a real nitpicker, I would point out that Syria and Lebanon at least have been at war with Israel for 50+ years, and so complaining about this Israeli action is like saying D-Day started a war in France.) Now I'm not gonna say the Vatican, and the euro political culture out of which large chunks of it grow, are infested with anti-Semitism. But I will say they are infested with an attitude that violence against Jews or Israel is somehow normal, to be expected, part of the furniture, and so only when Israel counterattacks can there really be a war going on.

● Fine, the Vatican denounces terrorism. But it is unwilling to put any effectual teeth behind that denunciation (in this world anyway), as the bold-faced passage proves. Hezbollah and Hamas *deliberately* and *as a matter of strategy* intermingle their forces with civilians (and even in some sense *are* civilians), don't wear uniforms, use ordinary houses for planning, and otherwise make it impossible for the Israelis (or the Americans in Iraq) to target their forces without putting civilians at a high level of risk. This is a win-win proposition -- either the Israelis don't attack from a desire to minimize civilian casualties, or if they do, the terrorists get civilian body counts for the consumption of a gullible world media and simple-minded moralists ready to wring their hands over Israel losing the "moral high ground." Now the Church's millennia-old injunctions against killing civilians and toward protecting civilians always presupposed (and almost always got) a good-faith effort on the part of warring parties to distinguish their own men. And the killing of civilians was sometimes justified on the basis of double-effect reasoning, as it could under the old assumption of good-faith efforts to separate the civilian and the military. But we face a new reality -- armies whose very being is premised upon erasing that distinction for themselves, while counting on an enemy who will respect it, and a global media to stoke moral(istic) outrage at bloody footage. Terrorism is designed to make it impossible to protect civilian populations. I'm not calling for deliberate attacks on civilians per se, but denunciation of terrorism are merely cheap, pious throat-clearing if they don't result in a more latitude in applying double-effect reasoning on the matter of civilian casualties in wars fought against terrorist militias or (in the best case) a definitive statement that he who deliberately and habitually mingles his military with civilians bears all moral responsibility for double-effect damage. No rules are meaningful if there are no consequences to deliberately working to undermine the rules.

● Lebanon is not a free and sovereign nation. Or rather, it doesn't matter whether it is or isn't. The implicit rhetorical model is that Lebanon is some innocent bystander. But Hezbollah engaged in acts of war against Israel from Lebanese territory. That is a fact. Now presumably these acts were contrary to the government sitting in Beirut -- because if they weren't, then by any definition Lebanon had invaded Israel and we wouldn't be wringing our hands over Lebanon's sovereignty. So, Beirut didn't want these attacks. Then either (1) that government could do nothing against Hezbollah, or (2) it could have but chose not to. In case (1), Lebanon is not a free or sovereign nation, so there is nothing to violate. The classic definition of sovereignty is "effectively controls the monopoly of legitimate violence in a territory." If Lebanon could not prevent Hezbollah from using Lebanese territory to commit acts of war, then Hezbollah is the real sovereign. In case (2), then we have a precise parallel to Afghanistan and Al Qaeda after September 11, and nobody would question the legitimacy of violating Lebanese sovereignty as a co-belligerent. The Taliban were the legitimate (de facto at least) sovereign in Afghanistan, but their personal innocence of 9-11 aside, they did harbor Bin Laden, and that kind of action has long been understood as a legitimate causa belli. (It may be relevant here to point out that Hezbollah is part of Lebanon's governing coalition.)

● Calls for dialogue. (Victor rolls his eyes.) And. if. those. calls. are. ignored. If dialog doesn't happen? Then? What? Keep in mind that Hezbollah and Hamas are united in calling for the destruction of Israel and refuse all negotiations on principle. There can be no negotiations with those who call for your extermination as a matter of principle (Hamas and Hezbollah understand that much. Why can't the jaw-jaw-at-all-costs lobby?)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

More Shea high-[sic]-lights

This will be my last word on this topic unless a sudden attack of reason or (more likely) another fit of Intellectual Tourette's strikes The Dark Beast of Seattle. And here, I'm just going to sweep together some detritus worth noting.

We got Shea's pathetic excuse for the whole thing, the 2am defense (read the comment I linked to and Shea's response). What a maroon. What an embezzle. It is no defense against slander that "I was tired when I did it." Now this is not to say that people don't write things in haste or under the siren call of Morpheus that they don't think through clearly or carefully. But the thing an intellectually serious person would do when he got up in the morning and someone says "you're misreading this guy" (as happened right away) is to think "hmmm ... I *did* read him at 2am. Maybe I wasn't at my best." And reread and reconsider. But no, this is Torture Pharisee™ Mark Shea we're talking about. Further, this post came at midnight and after a series of comments from Shea himself, just in that thread, at 353pm, 423pm, 512pm, 517pm, 541pm, 543pm, 602pm, 631pm, 850pm, and a whole day of deleting quotes from others (meaning that he had all the time he needed to reconsider and retract, without excuse).

But the lying continues, even in that midnight post:
As to blackening Ledeen's character, nothing does that nearly so effectively as his own evil words. There's nothing "unexpressed" about "kill, don't capture". He's advocating prisoner slaughter just as much as Peters.
Except that "kill, don't capture" is not in Ledeen's NRO Corner post (which must contain "his own evil words" as they are all he has said). The title was "Kill or Capture?" (note the question mark and the disjunctive "or") and he doesn't come down on one side or the other in the exhortatory manner that Shea is illiterately attributing to him. Shea might ... might ... be more persuasive if he could cite a single Ledeen quote accurately.

Unsurprisingly, he quickly resorts to a mix of self-righteousness, question-begging, coarse misreadings and obscenity.
The curious thing, of course, is that you seem more upset at my anger at Ledeen's evil rhetoric than you are at the evil rhetoric itself. Like so fucking many of my comboxers.
No, Mark. We fucking comboxers think you are lying about Ledeen's evil (according to you, without a scrap of evidence from his mouth) rhetoric. Lying. Which is also evil, I think. So your presupposition that Ledeen is engaging in "evil rhetoric" does not apply. And (switching to myself and a few others) we fucking comboxers also are contemptuous of your inability to even frame a question in a way that doesn't presuppose your own (self-)righteousness. The classic being "have you stopped beating your wife yet," only here you're presupposing a judgement about Ledeen's rhetoric that those who are disagreeing with you do not share.

Later Shea starts engaging in ridiculous posturing using one of his favorite lines:
Incoherence is to be expected because sin makes you stupid and Peters' thinking is marinated in the sin of murder.
Now as a theological point, this is meaningless. All men have sinned and so "sin makes you stupid" cannot be a categorical universal truth about empirical facts, unless "all men are stupid" is true, just as simply. Which is defensible in a sense, obviously. But the rhetorical note Shea is trying to hit presupposes that he himself is not stupid. But he therefore cannot have sinned, which is obviously not true and the most monumentally arrogant claim a man can make. I could add that Shea's thinking is marinated in the sins of lying, self-righteousness and arrogance.

The context of Shea's remark was fucking comboxer Publius (a man of saintly patience obviously) noting that Shea's exigesis that Peters had meant X¹ was probably not right because it would contradict Point Y, which Peters made elsewhere. Said reader further noted that had Shea concluded instead that Peters had said X², which would not contradict Point Y. So maybe Peters meant X². Shea typically waves his hand -- "sin makes you stupid." I mean, really, who is Mark Shea, a man who has repeatedly shown himself to have not the slightest familiarity with military history and tactics to call Peters and Ledeen "stupid" on such topics.

In a relatively sane post today, Shea says the following, but probably without thinking through the implications of it:
One final note. For some reason, people seem to think that I'm objecting to the idea of shooting combatants who use surrender as a ruse de guerre. Obviously, I don't. They deserve what they get and good riddance to them.
Fair enough. But the problem is that each soldier has only one life, accepts each surrender only once, and has no way of knowing whether any particular surrender is sincere or a ruse. The whole point of a ruse, after all, is to fool in a particular case. So the only way to institutionalize the judgment that "combatants who use surrender as a ruse de guerre ... [should be shot]" is to shoot those who attempt to surrender. Such a judgment can only be institutionalized -- it can never be implemented on a case-by-case basis because fake surrenderers, by definition, do not declare themselves as such until after the fact. That's why they're called *fake* surrenders. Which is what sensible militaries, such as the US in the Pacific during WW2, have done when faced with an enemy that habitually (the key word, and it's inevitably a judgment call) used fake surrenders as ruses de guerre. They Took. No. Prisoners. In other words ... exactly what Peters and Ledeen (accurately or otherwise) are getting damned to hell by Shea for. It once again proves that Shea is just thinking with his patella reflex or his moral gut and not thinking through the implications of everything he says. "Shooting unarmed prisoners" ... that sounds bad. "Evil, Evil, Evil." "Shooting people who try to fake surrender" ... that sounds reasonable. Never even wondering how easily the two stances might (or might not) sit alongside each other. Shooting someone who fakes a surrender looks like this ...

One comment that I have saved (because I know His Most High Sheasus Christ will delete it) is from someone whom I have never seen comment on these issues before.

You're being completely unfair and delibarately misrepresenting what was posted by both Ledeen and by Peters. For someone who dislikes Andrew Sullivan's support on toture because of his "cant" on sexual issues, you tread a mighty fine line. Indeed, I think you cross it. You have become so convinced of your own rightness that you are now completely unworth reading about when in comes to anything having to do with the war. I wish you the best, but doubt I'll be reading any longer.

I also note one other warning. I know of at least a couple of people who have given to Shea's Quarterly Pledge Drives in the past who have said they will not do so in the future over these slanders.

But no post on Shea's idiocy would be complete without noting the latest glib defense for knownothingism from Zippy:
But I haven't so much as read the Hamdan decision, because I am not a legal positivist to begin with and reading that sort of thing gives me indigestion.
Obviously, one has a perfect right not to be a legal positivist, but how that relieves one of the obligation to know what the law is and how it was arrived and what the arguments for Positive Law X Y or Z ... is ... unclear. At best. Even that Secular Nihilist Incoherent Legal Positivist Thomas Aquinas had a place for positive law and said it had to be promulgated duly by competent authority. I've been relieved for a long time for personal reasons from the obligation to take His Zipness seriously. But nobody now has any excuse for taking what he says about the law seriously.

Utter demagoguery

Mark Shea has gone completely off his meds. In his latest rationalization for his ignorant smears of men far more knowledgeable than him, he posts the famous 1969 photo of a South Vietnamese general executing a Viet Cong guerrilla (note that he is civilian clothes and thus is an illegal combatant, deserving execution).

Commenters at Shea's and Catholic Light (Eric's takedown is also most excellent, but I refer to Chris Fotos' comment for this particular point) have given the whole story of the photograph.

But what I want to point is the cheapness of Shea's posting, the posturing emotivism, the demagoguery and the appeal to prejudice. Of course the picture is unpleasant to look at. But what does it prove? Death is unpleasant to look at. Nobody's suggesting otherwise. The issues surrounding the treatment of detainees have nothing to do with that fact. Nada. Zip. Zilch. If the Viet Cong terrorist had been duly tried by an ACLU-approved court and judge, and then executed according to law, the moment of the bullet entering his head would look identical. And produce the identical emotional reaction and instinctive repugnance. This is the classic definition of demagoguery -- an appeal to emotions having nothing to do with the substantive disagreement at hand. It's another fundamentalist habit that Shea has yet to grow out of.

This pharisaical twit is capable of thought only with his patella reflex , drooling like Pavlov's dog ... ring the bell with an image of death, drool on cue with "when you remove all the bullshit, excuses, and whatnot, what Peters wants is *that act*." So all the issues surrounding when death can be appropriate are "bullshit, excuses and whatnot." Remember when I compared him below to a death-penalty opponent who just screams "murder!" to short-circuit moral reasoning. That was awesome. And prescient (it was written last night). Why does anybody mistake Shea for a serious thinker? Or even a very smart person?

Mark Shea lie watch (part 1)

I didn't want it to come to this, for a variety of reasons on which I will not elaborate. But Catholic blogger Mark Shea has crossed yet another threshold in his bid to become the Andrew Sullivan of St. Blogs. He is resorting to outright lies (yes, "lies" ... unlike Shea, I choose my words carefully) about Michael Ledeen.

Here is what Shea wrote:
Michael Ledeen Reliably Suggests that our Troops Should Murder Surrendering Enemy Combatants

That, in the final analysis, can only be what is meant by saying, "terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not captured".
Despicable. Imagine Ledeen writing a piece that said, "Your daughter should sell her virginity to a pimp in order to ensure American security. She'll make an excellent whore and do her nation proud". Would anybody be offended if I suggested that Ledeen's estimation of your daughter is worthy of pistols at dawn?
Yet when Ledeen says, "Your son should commit cold blooded murder of surrendering prisoners in order to keep the quota of captured prisoners down. He'll make an excellent murderer and war criminal and do his nation proud" some of my readers, by some mysterious mental process, somehow decide that my bleat of protest against this insulting estimation of our troops is a sign *I* despise the troops, not Ledeen.
posted by Mark at 2:01 AM
Any relationship between that froth and what Ledeen actually wrote is purely coincidental. Here are the key parts:
Ralph Peters, one of my favorites, has a very strong piece arguing that in almost all cases, terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not captured. It would be helpful to know how many POWs in previous wars behaved after the conflict, but of course there are many differences between regular soldiers and terrorists.

The "kill or capture?" problem has historically been resolved in favor of "kill" for most of human history. Americans are among the very first to reflexively opt for "capture." ...

A long way of saying I don't know what I would order my soldiers to do, but I would certainly insist that my National Security Council made a clear decision.

But one thing I do know: I would insist that my soldiers have the right of "hot pursuit" into Iran and Syria, and I would order my armed forces to attack the terrorist training camps in those countries. And I'm quite sure I'd go after the terrorist training camps in Pakistan, too.
There are two possible explanations for Shea's characterization. Shea is lying or Shea is illiterate. Further, it should be obvious to anyone reading with the organs God gave him for that purpose, rather than skimming with his patella reflex as Shea does, that the only thing Ledeen endorses in his Corner item is engaging in hot pursuit over national borders and striking at terrorist training camps. This is obviously relevant since Ledeen wants dead terrorists not captured terrorists, and those are two ways of procuring that end (summary execution being another, obviously). So not only is Ledeen not advocating summary execution of captured terrorists, he actually specifically advocates something else. Ledeen says "a friend has a strong column advocating X; I'm not sure what I think, but on related topics, I think P, Q and R." That is in no way, shape or form "advocacy of X." Period. Stick a fork in it. No debate possible.

The literate user of English, which seems to exclude Shea when the subject is the war, the Evil Neocons or any related topic, will also note the specific detail about killing terrorists attempting to surrender never is alluded to in Ledeen's post. It's a potentially relevant tangent to some of the same issues, particularly if the Jihadis follow the WW2 Japanese by persistently (a key caveat) faking surrender as a battle tactic. But Ledeen never brings the issue up, so stating as a fact that Ledeen suggests that "our Troops Should Murder Surrendering Enemy Combatants" is simply a lie. An effing lie.

The person knowledgeable about the laws and customs of war will also note that even Ralph Peters is only arguing for summary execution of caught-red-handed illegal combatants (all illegal combatants can be executed. If caught red-handed, the needed fact-finding can be done by the men on the spot, hence even "summary" executions are defensible in some cases). Here is the nub of Peters words:
Nor should we ever mistreat captured soldiers or insurgents who adhere to standing conventions. On the contrary, we should enforce policies that encourage our enemies to identify themselves according to the laws of war. Ambiguity works to their advantage, never to ours.
Our policy toward terrorists and insurgents in civilian clothing should be straightforward and public: Surrender before firing a shot or taking hostile action toward our troops, and we'll regard you as a legal prisoner. But once you've pulled a trigger, thrown a grenade or detonated a bomb, you will be killed. On the battlefield and on the spot.
Isn't that common sense? It also happens to conform to the traditional conduct of war between civilized nations. Ignorant of history, we've talked ourselves into folly.
As Peters notes, historically, and with centuries of implicit Church approval and Papal-State practice, summary execution has been the fate of illegal combatants, such as spies, assassins and mercenaries. Terrorists manifestly fit those categories, and the latest Geneva Conventions require only that some form of unspecified due process be provided before execution. But again, that's Peters, not Ledeen. To attribute to X (Ledeen) when he is merely quoting Y (Peters), and drawing bad conclusions about X on said basis is slander. Libel. Probably not legally, under NYT v. Sullivan. But certainly morally.

And then the fun began in the comment field. Several posters, and not the usual suspects, called Shea on his misreading. The very first post said: "In the post you refer to, Ledeen simply doesn't say what you say he says. (Ralph Peters seems to.)" The third said: "Hey, Mark, you've done some very selective quoting, here's the quote in its entirety, 'Ralph Peters, one of my favorites, has a very strong piece arguing that in almost all cases, terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not captured'." Even Shea's prag Zippy offered only the most cautious boot-licking, saying "Whatever the merits of different rules of engagement in an environment of false surrenders, the reasoning behind this particular bit of advocacy is immoral..." and then goes on to quote a sentence from Ralph Peters. (And that particular twit doesn't even understand Peters' argument, typically failing to get the difference between the affirmative "yes" and the rebuttal "no." But that's another post.) So nothing justifies smearing Ledeen as Shea seems to think is his divine calling.

Shea's first comment was his customary question-begging and lying.
It is about the cooly considered evil counsels of Michael Ledeen which say that we should kill rather than capture whenever possible. I repeat: that can *only* mean "Take no prisoners."
No. It CAN mean that certainly. Someone who believes in taking no prisoners could certainly write that. And Peters arguably does say that (and under these circumstances, it'd be defensible in any event). But the phrase "when possible" means a lot. And when Ledeen does draw conclusions and they're not "universal summary execution," it is simply slander to attribute that position to him.

Shea's next comment was even worse and deserves to be reproduced in full
Yes, Ledeen has employed this standard trick of feigning moral puzzlement before as he has advocated "entering into evil" but it's still bullshit designed to make sucker like you think he's really doing heavy duty moral analysis instead recognizing what he's really doing: calling for cold-blooded murder. His pretense of not being sure about making the "tough call" for murder is still just a pretense. Murder is murder and a long face is not a moral disinfectant. Don't be a sucker for Ledeen's bullshit, Chris. You might find yourself in hell for it.
Good ends do not justify evil means, even when Michael Ledeen says they do and even when he pretends that he's a serious moralist as he preaches it. Learn it. Love it. Live it.

The same lies -- the repeated presupposition of "murder." Shea is arguing [sic] like the most shrilly self-righteous opponent of the death penalty. Any killing is murder, and when people try to suggest it isn't, well then ... they're engaging in excuses for murder. And a long face is not a moral disinfectant, good ends do not justify evil means, blah, blah, blah. As is his modus operandi on torture as well, Shea is just being a preening moralistic posturer, while engaging in one long question-beg, by calling an act of homicide "murder" and foreclosing debate on the subject before it has even been determined whether the homicide in question is, in fact, a murder.

Captured terrorists can be executed. Period. Finito. Learn it. Love it. Live it.

And what's the goddamn profanity? Does Shea really think that calling Ledeen's ideas "bullshit" conveys anything other than his own desperation. I also love how Shea claims to be so intimately familiar with Ledeen's mind that he knows what's a pretense, how it's all a standard trick for suckers. This isn't exigesis or thought; it's mystical insight, having more to do with Mistress Cleo than anything else. Shea always already knows that Ledeen's real agenda is, and don;t confuse him with the actual words. They're just ruses. As shown in the Ace of Cups and the Queen of Wands.

My friend Dan Darling promptly ripped Shea a new asshole and demanded that Mark's link to his site be taken down (as of now it has not, despite Shea's posting a piss-poor response). But then Shea began doing something that indicates just what a despicable, pharisaical worm he is. He declared himself right by fiat and banned all future discussion, other than (presumably) thanks and praise for how great he art. Here's the pharisaism to end all pharisaisms.
However, just as I will not have my blog be a forum for Catholics for a Free Choice or Catholics for Torture, so I will not have it be a forum for Catholics for Murder. Future apologias for Ledeen's call for murder of unarmed, wounded, or surrendering combatants will, like torture apologias, be deleted.
I know what's right, and there will be no discussion of the matter. I'm sympathetic to claims that a man's blog is his castle and he has an absolute right to regulate his comboxes. But if you don't want discussion, which necessarily includes at least the potential for agreement, on a subject, then one shouldn't post on it. Or not allow comments on that subject. Otherwise, all you're doing is making it look like your comboxes exist only for public adulation of the Most High Sheasus Christ.

And sure enough, several notes have been deleted. But at least two aren't even actually "apologias for Ledeen's call for murder of unarmed, wounded, or surrendering combatants." They were attempts to point out Shea's misreading and misattributing (that's the kind of stuff that'll send you to hell, Chris).

This kind of shit (CQ) is what moves Shea beyond aggravating to contemptible and beyond-the-pale. It's more than his sloppy reading skills ("I usually just skim stuff" he has said), and his penchant for knee-jerk caricature, but his self-righteousness when confronted over it. Chris Fotos posted the following note in his combox at 620pm (the italics are Chris's, responding to Shea; "your" refers to Dan Darling):
Speakers of English understand that "Terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not captured" means "Take no prisoners".
Your apologias for this sly and wicked rhetoric are truly tragic. It is a measure of Ledeen's evil that he persuades a decent fellow like you to fight such battles on his behalf....

Mark, what the hell?
Sly and wicked rhetoric? A measure of Ledeen's evil?
This apologia is for the truth. Pardon me if I don't have faith in your invisible mind rays. What. Did. He. Say.
He did not say "Terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not captured". Er, no. Speakers of English--most--understand that he said Peters "had a strong piece" arguing that, and further that I don't know what I'd order soldiers to do.
Watch out there Pavel. Ledeen has incredible measures of evil, and you seem like a decent fellow.
Christopher Fotos | Email | Homepage | 07.12.06 - 6:20 pm | #
Don't look for that comment of course, because Shea deleted it. And a similar note from Chris Hoover ("Chris 2-4") made the exact same point -- namely that Ledeen is providing a link to a column by someone else and using the words. It too is gone. It is not an apologia for murder to say that X did not call for murder. In fact, saying that X did not call for murder usually presupposes that murder is a bad thing.

Some ex-fundamentalists never leave behind the bad intellectual habits it teaches -- primarily the insistence on proof-texting, and shouting the proof-text louder (and bang on the table with your show) when someone suggests that it doesn't mean what The Fundamentalist insists it means. What makes this episode even more disgusting and contempt-inducing is that Nikita Shea will often link to something with neutral or encouraging language, and then say he doesn't exactly agree with everything in it, but it's worthwhile food for thought. In other words, exactly what Ledeen did.

But we haven't reached the high point [sic] yet. No ... that occurs here and here. In the first post, after repeated claims that he has misrepresting Ledeen's NRO postings, Shea responds by engaging in exigesis of a different article by Ledeen from two years ago. I am not kidding. Unless Shea's point is that Ledeen is so eternally and totally depraved that he's not entitled to have his actual words considered as themselves (and I dare him to make that claim) that has precisely nothing to do with the current article. Zero. Zip. Nada. Two-year-old articles are not guides to what current articles say. Learn it. Love it. Live it. On the second link, he actually bans a well-known St. Blogs pacifist. Who suggested that maybe Shea was misreading Ledeen. Yes, even Chris Sullivan thought the evil Neocon Apologist for Torture wasn't saying what was being attributed to him. That was obviously too much for The Torture Pharisee™ and so He (PBUH) banned Chris Sullvian too.

I could go on, and there was more earlier today, but why bother. On contemporary political and social issues on his blog (as opposed to theological and religious ones and his paid writings, where his style is very different) Shea is a illiterate blowhard who has a handful of prejudices, a ton of arrogance and a thimblefull of knowledge.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A tale of two videos

(a) Here are two clips of a children's religion show on Egypt's state-censored Al-Nas TV

(b) Here is a clip of a US Marine Cpl. Joshua Belile singing a song at a Jarhead party.

Guess which one resulted in restraints put on the speaker. Three guesses. Two don't count. Anyone who guessed (a) is thus forbidden from reading this site.

Keep in mind that the first clips, by Sheik Muhammad Sharaf Al-Din, was a private act, in a sense, but aired on the government-run Al-Nas network (one that is formally at peace with Israel, no less). And by a government not shy about censoring. Now the second one obviously is a government actor too (as they say, "your ass belongs to the Corps"). But Cpl. Belile was singing a song at a private gathering, of Marines-as-men, not in uniform (a distinction the US military does, in principle, respect). It was never intended for public consumption. Still he was made to apologize, told not to perform the song, and then even not to record it. Now, a talk-show host plans to record the song without Cpl. Belile's involvement -- thus circumventing the post-Tailhook military's political correctness, its knuckling under to the Jihad Lobby, abetted by the MSM's clueless parrotting of the whines of the professionally offended. The US Marines: they'll kick the asses of the Jihadis, but kiss the asses of the Jihadi Lobby.

Now as it happens, I disagree with Little Green Footballs about the two Egyptian videos. I don't think the second one is "you won't believe how crazy this one gets" territory. I would be the last to engage in moral equivalence, but a cleric teaching children gory and dramatic accounts of the martyrs of the past is something well within the range of experience of most Westerners. Sure, Sheik Al-Din gets ... um ... into his account, but any Catholic who has heard the stories of St. Agatha or St. Lawrence can roll with this. It's the first one that is truly pernicious. Sheik Al-Din gives an account of a Jewish plot to kill Mohammed (NPFFP) using a poisoned lamb, and God miraculously saving Mohammed (BIHFTC). Now again, there is no doubt historically that the Jews of 7th century Arabia were the Prophet's political and religious rivals. But the cleric takes a call from a listener who says "I learned that the Jews are people of treachery and betrayal." The cleric lets out the ejaculation: "Allahu Akbar" and wishes that God give the caller success and says in a gushing tone that "we want mothers who raise their sons for Jihad and know that the Jews are people of treachery, betrayal and vileness." That was the point he wanted people to take from the story -- the perfidy of the Jews. I went to a school named after St. Lawrence and learned of his marytrdom as a 5-year-old, but never was I taught that the point was what a bunch of treacherous betrayers Romans are and how we should want to avenge Lawrence's death against the Romans of today (as an aside, never did I hear the Jews of today blamed for Our Lord's death either). Right there is the essential moral difference between Christianity and Islam today, as practiced. The Muslim cleric isn't giving a general spiritual reflection on taking up our cross for God's sake, and even taking joy from it, as the nuns who taught me about St. Agatha, St. Lawrence and many others; he is giving a political lesson that he intends to apply today in the most literal, vengeance-seeking terms.

More in defense of "Hadji Girl"

In another of my Internet guises (film critic), I commented to Donkey Cons about what the descriptions of the song were missing.

Other than "Dirka, Dirka Mohammed Jihad," there is nothing in the lyrics that is unmistakably and unquestionably a reference to TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE. That is, there is no Iraqi girlfriend or a moment in the film where a member of Team America shoots from behind a TV after using a young girl as a human shield. But it is a running joke throughout the film that Team America is a bit ... careless ... about collateral damage.

The film's first scene is a raid on Paris which kills some terrorists but which destroys the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower in the process. The specific line "Dirka, Dirka, Mohammed Jihad" comes during a scene in which one of the commandos tries to infiltrate a Cairo cafe where The Terrorists are meeting; saying that gets the Val Kilmer-like character into the meeting. That scenes ends with much blood being spilled in as gory a way as puppetry allows, plus the destruction of the Sphinx and the Pyramids.

It wouldn't surprise me that TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE is a big favorite among our uniformed men. It's one of the few movies of recent years that mocks Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, etc., has a real-life bad-guy unmistakably identified as such (Kim Jong-il) and ends up being unabashedly jingoistic about the need to kick ass, even if you do so imperfectly on occasion. The closing soliloquy about "assholes, dicks and pussies" puts it all in a nutshell in the first quote here. It's rather ungenteel (this is Trey Parker and Matt Stone, remember), but then the Marines are too. And the whole point -- the closing soliloquy, the movie, Josh Belle's song -- is that the warrior virtues are not to be judged by the shrinking-violet lace-curtain values of the Cambridge-Hollywood Axis.

One thing I didn't mention to Stacy: It's also clear to anyone who knows anything about the history of war songs and war stories that soldiers have always engaged in gallows humor and sick jokes, partly from "brutalization" (not a bad thing within limits, BTW; we want warriors to be "harder" than civilians) but also partly as a way of dealing with the constantly-made-imminent fact of the men's own mortality. At the very start of Western civilization, Homer tells dry jokes about how some soldiers "have the black fog decend upon them," including one sequence in THE ILIAD where he compares a Trojan being speared through the jaw to a fish trapped on a hook. Nor is this confined to soldiering; all professions have humor, within the stakes of that profession. I have never worked in a newsroom where you couldn't get at least a knowing smirk with a reference to lines from Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry" ("The boys in the newsroom got a running bet: / 'Get the widow on the set / We need dirty laundry'.") In a boxing movie called THE SETUP, all the "red corner" fighters share a single dressing room, and one guy who's just won his fight is telling everyone else in graphic detail about how he worked over his opponent, mercilessly punishing his "soft" stomach and ribs. A green young lad getting ready for his first fight has to flee the room to throw up, causing the victorious fighter to ask in a puzzled manner: "what's the matter with him." Sick humor in a life-and-death situation is simply letting off steam; there have never been soldiers in any war who haven't done exactly the same thing, only ouytside the glare of scrutiny by the Cambridge-Hollywood Axis.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Religion of Peace™ Updates

I am gonna include a couple of small things here first, just to indicate how petty, deep and widespread anti-Semitism is within Islam. In other words, no mention (at least at first) of the big stuff. Everyone knows about suicide bombings, flying planes into buildings, blowing up the tube, on-camera beheadings and all the rest of it. And they all bear some plausible relationship to the geopolitics of which there could ostensibly be two sides. But some things are just small and ugly.

First, Indonesia (the world's most-populous Muslim nation) refused to play Israel in the Federation Cup women's national tennis tournament. So the Jewish pigs and dogs/sows and bitches advanced on a walkover. Let's be perfectly clear about this. Indonesia is neither an Arab nation nor anywhere in Israel's neighborhood. It has no rational (or irrational) beef with Israel. Except Islam itself. I've never really bought the "sport builds bridges" boilerplate the head of the Israeli Tennis Federation spouts (particularly when teams represent nations). But there's no excuse for refusal to get on the court/field/stadium/etc. None. Congrats to the Fed Cup for giving Israel a walkover victory. but other sports bodies accommodate Muslim anti-Semitism and shaft the Jewish state accordingly. In soccer, Israel is a member of UEFA and so has to qualify for the World Cup through the much tougher European zone, although their team would be a strong contender if it played in Asia the actual continent of which Israel, as their most recent round of qualifying shows -- they hung with France, Switzerland and Ireland without losing a game. I wonder why the Israelis don't qualify through Asia, as if I didn't know.

Speaking of soccer, Islamist militias have become the de facto government of Somalia (the country, BTW, where the last Democrat president cut-and-ran after a mere 20 US soldiers were killed in a single battle; causing Osama bin Laden to [understandably] conclude that the US is a paper tiger). And they take their iconoclasm seriously. One group of the not-very-centralized militia decided to ban television and fatally shot two people for watching the Germany-Italy World Cup semi-final. According to another report, the Islamists didn't like the mixed-sex public gathering; and according to another account, the alcohol ads on the satellite TV broadcasts arewhat raise the Islamists' ire. As the last linked (BBC) report indicates, the gunman apparently have been arrested and clan elders say they will be executed. Good. But the fact the slayings occurred in the first place is still telling. Whatever leftist twits might burble about the imminent "Christianist" theocracy and their evil censorship plans -- nobody in the West fears Christianist militia opening fire on people watching the Spice Channel (much less the World Cup; much less alcohol ads; much less mixed-sex gatherings) Any comparison between the role of Christianity and Islam in the contemporary world is hateful and obscene, a complete failure to grasp reality (and it usually comes from people proud of their being in the "reality-based community."