Suicide Bomber Hamas?

National Review's Jed Babbin reports, based on a confidential source, that he believes the suicide bomber who attacked the 3rd Infantry Division checkpoint was Hamas. The bomber had earlier been claimed as an Iraqi army officer. Mr. Babbin is greatly worried about the possibility. He cites the British and Israeli examples of failing to uproot these terrorists as reason to believe we are entering an ugly, and possibly permanent, state of affairs.

Even if the report is true, we'll have to see. Iraq isn't like Israel or Ireland. Both Ireland and Israel have large communities of people with what amount to pre-national, ethnic claims to unity with the terrorists. Hamas is not Iraqi. If they can find support among the Shiites of Basra, they may be able to carry on the kind of campaign the PIRA or PLO have: but they will need that support, at the street level, to gain a foothold and keep it. The British report that the citizens of Basra are currently informing on Baath party members. If we deal well and honorably with them, once they are free of the tyranny of the state, it seems unlikely to me that they would quickly seek and support new tyrants.
A response from the DPRK:

North Korea has a statement to offer on its nuclear program. Chinese diplomacy notwithstanding, they're feeling quite defiant.
It [the gov't newspaper] said no one should expect North Korea to make the "slightest concession or compromise." Instead, it said, Pyongyang will increase its self-defensive capabilities.

Pyongyang's latest comments came hours after South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-Kwan met U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington to discuss the nuclear standoff. Mr. Yoon later told journalists that Washington has reaffirmed its policy of finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Bravado, in the face of oil-pipe cutoffs? Another attempt at blackmail? Or just the truth?

Marines have apparently found the uniforms of captured female US soldiers.
SANDERS WAS shown where the uniforms were found � inside the bathroom of a larger room that had been padlocked. It was the same room where 3,000 nuclear, biological and chemical suits were found when the Marines moved in.

The uniforms, which had had their American flag patches and names ripped off, were found inside a bag.
In another room, Marines found a large battery next to a bed � leading them to suspect it was used as a torture device, Sanders reported.
Just so you know.
On the House of Lords:

This touches on the new election system for the higher, and least important, of the houses of the British Parliment. It may be necessary to register to read this article, which is from the Daily Telegraph, but registration is free.
From the London Spectator:

A piece that neatly explains why I am not a conservative, but rather a classical liberal. The author is right: war, except purely defensive war, is not conservative. Remaking the world according to a vision of human liberty is something else again. It is the vision that inspired James Jackson, George Washington, and the others of our American forefathers. That's not a Tory proposition. It never was.
From the NY Times:

A rare piece worth reading.

One of you asked me about Noam Chomsky recently. I have never devoted much time or energy to him, though my readings of him indicate that he is a brilliant scientist, and a complete idiot on matters of politics. Still, since you asked, let's look at his column running today in the Sydney Morning Herald:
It will be some time before even preliminary assessments of the consequences can be made. Every effort must be dedicated to minimising the harm, and to providing the Iraqi people with the huge resources required for them to rebuild their society, post-Saddam - in their own way - not as dictated by foreign rulers.
Well, here's a preliminary assessment that can be made: The coalition -is- making every effort to minimize harm, at the risk of US military lives. The rules of engagement being used here, as well as the extrodinary expense invested in precision weapons, instead of simply carpet bombing, both indicate total American commitment to that ideal. Our rules of engagement don't permit returning fire against buildings that might be inhabited, for example. We are taking special pains to accept surrenders that might turn into ambushes--even though we have lost lives to such ambushes. Chomsky is not preaching to the choir, he's preaching against the choir.
There is no reason to doubt the near-universal judgement the war in Iraq will only increase the threat of terrorism and the development and use of weapons of mass destruction, for revenge or deterrence.
No reason at all? I've got a few reasons. Here's one: the threat of terrorism may just be reduced by the destruction of the Iraqi intelligence service, which--it is now a matter of record, since one of their officers was killed in the bunker strike that seems to have hit Hussein's family and ruling generals as well--coordinates with Palestinian terrorists. The threat of weapons of mass destruction being developed and used may be lessened by the end of a government that has developed and used them as a matter of policy. More to the point, though, the war isn't about preventing weapons of mass destruction from being developed and used--we develop them ourselves, though we don't use them, at least not yet. The point was to prevent them being -developed- by people likely to pass them to terrorists, who were the ones we wanted to keep from -using- them.

It is also absolutely foolish to elide, the way Chomsky does, use "whether for revenge or deterrence." Using a weapon for "revenge" means you set off a WMD in a way designed to cause terrible harm. Using a weapon for "deterrence" means you do NOT use it. You own it, yes; you keep it handy, yes; but if you use the thing, it's no longer a deterrence. It's a war, which is what a deterrence is meant to prevent. Chomsky shows his cards here by making the ownership of a weapon morally equivalent to the use of that weapon for revenge. It's like equating owning a shotgun for home defense with shooting your boss.

It is true that North Korea may now feel the need for nukes to keep GIs off the streets of Pyongyang. That's a real problem--one that my mind often turns to. It is not at all clear, though, that the DPRK didn't feel that need already: their every action on the subject for twelve years seems to have been directed at it. If they are to be restrained, it will need better thinking and stronger wills than Chomsky's. Wishful thinking won't do it.
In Iraq, the Bush Administration is pursuing an "imperial ambition" that is, rightly, frightening the world and turning the United States into an international pariah.
Well, now. An international pariah. I'm accustomed to seeing our policy described as "unilateral," in spite of a coalition of about fifty nations providing support of one kind or another. That was, I thought, enough of a stretch. Now we're a pariah! No one will trust us again--except:








Costa Rica

Czech Republic


Dominican Republic

El Salvador














Marshall Islands














Solomon Islands

South Korea





United Kingdom


As per the White House, the coalition represents a population of about 1.23 billion people. Now, about .25 billion of that is our own people here in the USA--I'm guessing the White House is including San Francisco--but that still leaves about a billion people in states that are in fact allied to us here. Chomsky is living in a fantasy world, one in which despair is eternal.
The avowed intent of current US policy is to assert a military power that is supreme in the world and beyond challenge. US preventative wars may be fought at will; preventative, not pre-emptive. Whatever the justifications for pre-emptive war might sometimes be, they do not hold for the very different category of preventative war; the use of force to eliminate a contrived threat.
Yes to everything except that last line. A preventative war is not the use of force to eliminate a "contrived" threat, but a developing threat. Pre-emptive war tends to assume that you're about to be hit, so you hit first. Preventative war takes note of a developing threat, and gets it while it can be gotten with minimal loss of life. Pre-emptive war means waiting until a dictator has nuclear weapons and you get word that he's about to launch them against, say, Israel. Preventative war means taking out his reactor before he develops the weapons. Which is better? M. Chomsky?
That policy opens the way to protracted struggle between the United States and its enemies, some of them created by violence and aggression and not just in the Middle East. In that regard, the US attack on Iraq is an answer to Osama bin Laden's prayers.
Yes, we've all noted his celebratory messages. Wait, we haven't? Oh, that's because he's either dead or hiding in the mountains of the Afghan/Pak border, with the 82nd Airborne breathing down his neck, his chief lieutenant being interrogated by the CIA, his network disrupted, his training camps destroyed, and a huge bounty on his head. Protracted struggle with the United States will tend to do that to you. The enemies of the United States, insofar as they are real enemies and not just involved in diplomatic disagreements with us, are tyrants, dictators, and murderers. Bring them on: we'll clear the world of them.
For the world the stakes of the war and its aftermath almost couldn't be higher. To select just one of many possibilities, destabilisation in Pakistan could lead to a turnover of "loose nukes" to the global network of terrorist groups, which may well be invigorated by the invasion and military occupation of Iraq. Other possibilities, no less grim, are easy to conjure up.
They sure are. We have bunches of guys who spend their entire careers doing just that. They work for West Point, Annapolis, the CIA, the DIA, various think-tanks, the US Military, and others. If Pakistan falls, you can bet we have a plan for dealing with it--one that likely involves Navy SEALs. In fact, we probably have ten plans, and the resources to carry them out. The president--whoever he might be on the occasion--need only choose among them if the time comes.

But don't let's write off Gen. Mushareef yet. He's wilier than many seem to credit him. No need to borrow trouble, or spend our days dreaming of grim possibilities. Courage, sir. All is not lost--indeed, things are better than they've been in quite a while.
Yet the outlook for more benign outcomes isn't hopeless, starting with the world's support for the victims of war and murderous sanctions in Iraq.
What's this? A sign of hope? In Chomsky?
A promising sign is that opposition to the invasion has been entirely without precedent.
Of course. It's great that people are against fighting dictators, and are willing to take Saddam's word over that of the US government. That's just what I'd call a promising sign too.
By now, the only way for the United States to attack a much weaker enemy is to construct a huge propaganda offensive depicting it as the ultimate evil, or even as a threat to our very survival. That was Washington's scenario for Iraq.
So, depicting Iraq's government as evil was just a propaganda tool? What about the rape rooms, sir? It's impossible to even begin a list of Iraqi atrocities and crimes against humanity, for lack of knowing where to start and what to include.

There's more, if you want it. I personally feel that enough has been said to make the half of my point I was concerned about, which is that Chomsky is a political fool: quod erat demonstrandum. The other half of the point, that he is a brilliant scientist, I will leave to the man himself.
Good news from China?

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that last week's shutdown of the oil pipeline between the People's Republic of China and North Korea, ascribed to "technical difficulties," has been followed by a diplomatic message demanding that the DPRK cut out the nuclear blackmail. If true, it's a highly encouraging story.

Is it true? The sources quoted are anonymous, and the "unusually blunt" diplomatic message is not actually quoted, but summarized. The only people quoted by name are South Koreans. On the one hand, the shutting down of the pipeline is a matter of record, as is the official explanation of technical difficulties. On the other hand, this analysis conflicts directly with several others cited on this page recently. Let's hope the "veteran sources" know what they are talking about here. We could use some good news from the PRC/DPRK front.

Here's a story from the Washington Post that speaks to some rumors I've been hearing and reading for a while now. It demonstrates that special operations teams have, as I asserted a week ago, the run of Baghdad, which bodes very well for the battle for that city. There is also what I consider to be good news on the subject of assassination tactics:
The covert teams, from the CIA's paramilitary division and the military's special operations group, include snipers and demolition experts schooled in setting house and car bombs. They have reportedly killed more than a handful of individuals, according to one knowledgeable source. They have been in operation for at least one week.

The previously undisclosed operation suggests U.S. efforts to destroy the Iraqi government's leadership are far more extensive than previously known, and have continued since the March 20 airstrike on a residential compound in the suburbs of Baghdad. That attack was launched after CIA Director George J. Tenet presented President Bush with fresh intelligence that Hussein and his two sons, Qusay and Uday, were sleeping in the complex.
Car bombs, house bombs, snipers--assassins. Say what you will about them, they are the best way I know of to kill the enemy without endangering the innocent. It eliminates the enemy's most valuable assets, the ones with the best knowledge of offense, defense, and capabilities. Even the ones not eliminated are inhibited, afraid to move about even in Baghdad.

Finally, these tactics being put to use in Baghdad are likely to be of special use against terrorist organizations. It is always best to capture terrorists alive, of course, so that they can be interrogated. There are places where live capture isn't an option, though. Second best is taking them out, cleanly and on the instant.

More on the Al Jazeera tape:

From NRO's warblog by Jed Babbin:
I have confirmed that the Al-Jazeera tape, all twelve minutes of it, is merely an excerpt of the hour-long version being shown regularly in Egypt and elsewhere. The short version shows the interrogation of some U.S. soldiers and the defamed dead bodies of others. The longer version includes all that, plus the murders and later abuse and mutilation of the bodies. Apparently, the whole thing is out there on the internet. I don't want to watch it tonight. Maybe tomorrow morning, when the mind is fresher, more able to withstand it.
I'm on the lookout for this, though downloading an hour-long video on my 28k modem would be the work of quite a while. This is exactly the sort of thing that -should- be available to US citizens, but isn't because the media is afraid of what we'd do if we saw it. The TV news program, even the internet "new media," which started out to tell people the truth in order to right wrongs, now believes it is their duty to hide the truth from the citizenry. We are not to be trusted: why not isn't really clear. What might we do? Support the war? Moreso? Support for the war is already broad and deep.

You will recall that the Serbian Prime Minister was recently assassinated. He was most famous for turning his predecessor, Slobodan Milosevic, over to the International Criminal Court for prosecution on war crimes. One of Slobodan's special friends was the "Unit for Special Operations," which was a part of the police force numbering some 300 men, led by Slobodan's chief bodyguard. Well, today 15 members of that force--which was disbanded some time ago--were arrested for complicity in the murder of the Prime Minister.

But wait! Other members of the police force have jumped into high gear, rounding up some three thousand suspects. Two of these, who these police claim were the actual killers, were shot and killed. Sadly, interrogation of these criminal suspects is now impossible.

Hmm. Major Strausser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects. As for these two, we're not quite sure if they committed suicide, or died trying to escape.
Korea Today:

Korea Today reports that there are some meetings set between the South Korean Foreign Minister and US officials. It's being billed as important for the nuke showdown with the North, though, which may mean that some backdoor diplomacy is going on.

InstaPundit linked last night to this piece in the London Times. It presents an analysis of who won and lost through the Iraq diplomacy, suggesting that North Korea was a winner and Russia a loser. The reasons are that the war in Iraq may exhaust the United States, militarily and politically, thus protecting North Korea. As for Russia:
The cold warriors in Russia�s foreign ministry may be congratulating themselves about undermining Nato by tempting France and Germany into a new triple alliance, but this strategy will backfire in the long run, as America tightens its military links with Poland, Hungary and the Baltic States, all countries inherently hostile to Russia. Even worse, the shift of American allegiances from Western Europe to the Middle East and Asia could revive the ultimate Russian nightmare � a further strengthening of the US-Chinese relationship, already the world�s most important economic partnership.
This analysis is, in my opinion, completely mistaken. Russia, like several of the powers, is engaged in a gamble for a place in the order that will result from this war on terrorism. Their hand is much stronger than the Times realizes, and they are therefore not in any danger. Whatever the United States might wish to take from them to punish their acts vis. Iraq, they can easily win back by demanding concessions on the Chechen semistate, nuclear disarmament, the security of Soviet-era nuclear materials, and, especially, partnership in a containment of the DPRK. Russia will do all right, because we need them so much.

Whether or not we'll have the military and political will to go after the DPRK also depends more on the DPRK than on us. If they carry on nuclear blackmail, I suspect the administration may feel they have no choice but to strike while the iron is hot--too hot already, in fact, but not yet so hot that it will explode when it is struck, or ignite by spontaneous combustion the building containing it.

As for the strengthening of the Chinese "partnership," that is a most dubious proposition. The Economist, a far better source of news analysis than the London Times in my book, has been warning us for more than a year that the Fourth Generation, as the new Chinese leadership is called, is notably more hostile to the West than its predecessors. CNN reports that the People's Liberation Army, which has a strong voice in the new arrangement, is urging a much more hostile policy toward the United States, and considers that China can't afford to "lose" North Korea as a buffer state. Honestly, having a nuclear-armed blackmail artist as my buffer state would hardly seem preferable to--well, most anything. However, the PLA is right about one thing: as long as the DPRK exists, the United States is contained in the region from acting directly against Chinese interests. The need for the PRC to help us contain DPRK nuclear material from reaching terrorists means we can't act against China in any matter on which they are prepared to play hardball.

Thus, the DPRK ties US foreign policy into knots, even if it is contained, and allows two relatively brutal powers to have their way unchallenged with the lives of millions. Some of those millions, it ought be noted, are the Chechens and the East Turkmen--two Muslim minorities who might have seen the United States as natural allies in their struggle for liberty, if we weren't in a position of being bound to their oppressors by the need to control North Korea. Therefore does al Qaeda tell them, honestly enough, that the United States is no friend to them: thus do we end up the supporters of tyrants over free men of good heart.

The DPRK must go. Not only for the sake of the freedom of the North Koreans, who do not deserve such tyranny, but to unbind our hands that we may protect the free and raise up the oppressed. If we are to guard Taiwan, we must not be bound to China. If we are to aid the East Turkmen, even covertly, we must not be tied to the PLA. If we are to uphold the interests of the Chechens, as we ought, Russia cannot have a veto over our conduct. All of these things tie back to the DPRK, and its nuclear blackmail. It must be ended, one way or another, as soon as we can manage it.
Terror tactics:

Two reports on this today. The first is that Iran seems to have stopped a suicide attack on Navy vessels. This article from the Sydney Morning Herald provides the details, as well as some interesting notes on how the Royal Navy deals with the defense of its ships.

NBC has a report of an Arabic message from al Qaeda to Iraqi irregulars, offering tips on fighting Americans. It was apparently posted to one of the Qaeda-linked websites. NBC is calling it a "military playbook" on irregular tactics against Americans, based upon their experiences in Afghanistan. If any of you find a translated version of this "message," I'd like you to email me about it.
POWs and War Crimes:

Albawaba, a middle-eastern news source, has this article on what they are terming American abuses of the Geneva Conventions. Predictably, they charge the United States with violating exactly the provisions of the Geneva Convention that the administration cited in their concerns over the Al Jazeera interviews with captured American POWs. With that as a foundation, they move on to complain about similar violations with our detainees at GitMo. Because their first complaint is undeniable, one tends not to notice that their second complaint improperly elides actual Iraqi Army POWs with illegal combatants--nonuniformed Talibs and al Qaeda. The Geneva Conventions quite specifically exempt illegal combatants from their rules, but it doesn't matter. We've given them a stick to beat us with by raising this foolish complaint.

It is the more foolish given that we suspect American POWs were executed. This article, which is based on an interview with a Marine General, is worth reading in full. It cites numerous actual war crimes, as well as the summary execution by hanging of an Iraqi woman who waved to coalition forces.

Finally, on this topic, there were some interviews with Afghani men released from GitMo. These interviews were conducted back in Afghanistan, and ought to provide a certain contrast with that last article. Two of the detainees have some unpleasant things to say about their time in custody; the others, surprisingly flattering things given that they were imprisoned. Even if you accept the worst and take the best with a grain of salt, the American system compares favorably with that of our foes.
A mistake?

I'm seeing a couple of reports coming in from Central Command, describing the report about a "1,000 vehicle armored convoy of Republican Guards" as a mistake. A mistake? A thousand-vehicle convoy? Moving, according to reports all day, in a very specific direction, and now it's just a mistake? Fog of war is one thing, lads, but it sounds like something is up here.
Storied Units:

Did I mention storied units? It isn't just the Marine Expeditionary Force and the "Rock of the Marne." I knew that the British had sent Royal Marine Commandos, but I didn't realize that The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and The Black Watch were present outside Basra. Thanks to Sgt. Stryker for the link.
An oddity:

This article from National Review Online is rather unusual. It treats the problem of administering the post-war Iraqi oil fields. What is unusual about it is that, in what is very much a free-market publication, Hutchinson, the author, ends up advocating a "Singapore style" collective, government-administered fund to provide for what amount to social security benefits. I suppose it's largely in line with the idea to privatize American social security, but it seems an oddity to find National Review advocating the creation of a government bureaucracy to oversee social welfare.

If you are curious to see some of the training materials used by the USMC in preparing for urban warfare, you can read one of the briefings here. This is the manual for non-commissioned officers, which is short enough for the general-interest reader to plow through if you are really worried about those street battles.
Wonderful news from Iraq:

Sky news is reporting on the two columns of suspected Republican Guard, one of which has come under fire from the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Navy. The other, 1,000 vehicles and up to 5,000 men strong, is headed to certain destruction:
A second group of around 1,000 Republican Guard vehicles containing up to 5,000 troops are heading south from Baghdad towards US Marines, American media reported.

US military intelligence claims their route avoids advancing US Army forces and leads them directly toward the Marines, who have been worn down from intense fighting around Nasiriya.

The Washington Post reported on the condition of the Marines on the 23rd:
As the Marines prepare to sprint toward Baghdad, the biggest speedbump along the way could be their own ability to keep their men fed, their ammunition stocked, and their vehicles full of fuel.

Marine commanders knew that the ambitious plan for a rapid-fire ground invasion of Iraq would require them to move men and machines an unprecedented distance overland, testing their logistical capabilities as never before. Now, with the Army's 3rd infantry division more than halfway to the Iraqi capital, the Marines are hustling to make up ground as quickly as possible.

"The operations guys would go the Baghdad today if we could," said Capt. John Wiener, 35, of Cherry Hill, N.J., the logistics officer for the 1st battalion, 7th Marine regiment. "Tactically, it makes sense for us to be up by where the Army is. Right now, our limiting factor isn't enemy forces, it's fuel."

So, the Republican Guard is solving the fuel problem for the Marines. We have heard a lot about the Iraqi Republican Guards, and their elite status in the Iraqi military. Well, the I Marine Expeditionary Force is composed of some storied units. The First Marine Divison is there, who fought at the Chosin Reservoir, where that division of Marines smashed seven Chinese divisions. The Seventh Marine Regiment has had more Medal of Honor winners than any other regiment of Marines. If Iraq has decided to send their best, they'll have a chance to see what ours looks like.
Overnight developments with the DPRK:

Yesterday North Korea cut its last regular ties to the United States and United Nations, which existed in the form of the United Nations Command, a meeting of liason officers from various national military services.. Explaining their decision, the DPRK accused the United States of planning an attack on them.

Are we planning an attack? Well, yes. The United States regularly plans military scenarios for potential situations, on the theory that they might come in handy just in case. Yet Senate souces say that the administration has accepted the idea of a nuclear DPRK. The theory on which this is being done is dubious: that, once North Korea goes nuclear, if it tries to sell fissile materials or nuclear technology, its neighbors will -then- become nervous and try to apply pressure. Once the DPRK is fully nuclear, though, what pressure is left to apply? The economic sanctions that are being discussed as an option might, indeed, threaten the regime with collapse--if it weren't in a position to blackmail payments out of the neighboring countries. Even without a proven capacity to use such weapons, the DPRK is attempting to force Japan to abandon its satellite program. Does anyone believe such threats will stop once the DPRK is actually strong enough to carry them out? Are we really going to wait until they are nuclear to call their bluff? What if they don't fold?

Millions die, that's what. Japan's population, within easy reach of their current missile technology, is about 125 million, concentrated in urban areas. North Korea's population is just over 22 million according to the CIA. If we don't address these matters before Korea goes nuclear, all of those people are at risk of nuclear fire if the DPRK chose to let fly rather than suffer internal collapse.
That NYT piece:

Berman's piece is here, so you don't have to scroll down all the way for the link.
The Hero's Life

or, A sketched response to Sayyid Qutb.

The New York Times Magazine ran a piece by Paul Berman entitled "The Philosopher of Islamic Terror." Mr. Berman's study of the writings of Sayyid Qutb, one of the founders of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, presents the reader with a needed understanding of the philosophical underpinnings of al Qaeda and other Islamist groups. It also produces for us a challenge: who in the West can respond to the deep questions raised by Qutb? "The terrorists speak insanely of deep things," Berman writes. "The antiterrorists had better speak sanely of equally deep things. . . . Armies are in motion, but are the philosophers and religious leaders, the liberal thinkers, likewise in motion?"

A full response to Qutb's writings is the work of years, and beyond the scope of this piece. What is attempted here is a sketch of what such a response should look like. In effect it proposes a synthesis of Qutb with Western philosophy, recognizing that large parts of his argument are echoed in the Western, and particularly the Anglo-American, tradition. With only a few changes, the Islamist can slide seamlessly into our own tradition, reinforcing and strengthening the healthiest and--per Mr. Berman--sanest parts of our philosophy. The Islamist willing to accommodate us becomes one of us, an ally, even a brother in arms.

Can they be convinced to make accommodations? With the right philosophy to guide us, I think they might be convinced.

I. Socrates & Qutb

Qutb's central complaint with the United States was its doctrine of the separation of church and state. Secularization led to a supreme discontent, a sense that human nature was betrayed. Science and God were not meant to be enemies, but rather science was meant to be a means of looking for the truth of God. The mistake, Qutb felt, had come in the days of the early Christian church. Outraged by the persecution of the Jews, Christians had turned away from the old Jewish Law and allowed Greek philosophy to replace it; overwhelmed by the prolificacy of the Romans, the early Christians retreated into a private realm of spirituality, and let the state go its own way. The modern separation of church and state was, he felt, an extension of this earlier theological mistake.

There are two things to be said about this. The less important is that this analysis is wrong on a number of historic points. A fuller argument would enumerate these, but here we are not interested in rejecting Qutb's argument. We are interested in sketching ways to reply to it that will allow us to absorb it into our own tradition of philosophy.

To do that we need to deal with this question of the Islamist disdain for Greek philosophy. Curiously, there are strong parallels between Qutb's life and that of Socrates, and between Islamist and Platonic ideas about the life well lived. One line of attack, then, should be to attempt to draw the Islamist into that Greek tradition.

The first way to do this is to demonstrate that, for Plato, philosophy was a continuation of the heroic tradition, a battle every bit as worthy as those found in Homer. In this way, it was a struggle exactly parallel to that of the jihad: a war fought through words, but a struggle that was just as heroic and compelling as any other. Plato himself is our strongest and most seductive advocate. Eric Voeglin showed how heroic language was often used in the Platonic dialogues. In my Master's thesis, I looked at how Socrates was often portrayed as Odysseus specifically, and how Plato used the formal language of battles and duels to exalt the business of philosophy. This is just the language we will need to move the hearts of jihadi.

For someone who believes in a philosophical duty of jihad, entering into such a struggle can hardly be resisted. Furthermore, Plato and Aristotle spoke to precisely the concerns that we see cited again and again: courage, honor, virtue, and living the good life in the face of danger. Socrates, like Qutb, was sentenced to death primarily for his particular philosophy, and like Qutb refused a chance to escape, going willingly to his death for a point of philosophy. If philosophers educated in the Greek tradition are willing to undertake a study of Islam, that they may be able to speak to the concerns and issues that Islamists will raise in reply, it ought to be possible to draw Islamists into such a debate. We have a large store of them in Cuba, in fact, who have nothing else to do just now. Taliban in particular were students before they became fighting men. Educated about the majesty of the Greek tradition, when they are finally released they should provide an organic means of spreading the story of Socrates among Islamists, and carry on the work of engaging them in a jihad of words and ideas instead of guns and bombs.

II. Ingeld & Christ

If we succeed in engaging them in a Western style philosophy, what will we say to them? How do you argue with the claim of divine revelation? It is not unlikely that fanatics will, at some point, simply fall back upon assertion in the place of argument. How to break that cycle?

The answer lies in the Anglo-American tradition--indeed, its roots are in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. In 797, Alcuin, a famous early leader of the Anglo-Saxon church, wrote to remonstrate the monks of Lindisfarne for their indulgence in heroic literature. "What has Ingeld to do with Christ?" he demanded, Ingeld being a Germanic king of heroic cycles now largely lost. Alcuin was ignored, however, and the story of Ingeld remained so well known that the Beowulf poet did not feel any need to tell it at length, but only made sidelong citations to it.

Alcuin was serious, and in him we see the kind of early Christian that Qutb despised. Yet Alcuin's voice carries to us so strongly across the centuries only by accident of fate. His writings survived. What did not survive was this, apparently very strong, poetic tradition of Ingeld and other Germanic hero-kings. If we look past Alcuin, we see that very many monks and priests were not separating sacred from secular: they were singing songs of hero-kings in the very monastery.

The answer to Alcuin's rhetorical question is this: Ingeld and Christ are to us as father and mother. Honoring one and despising the other is unhealthy. Qutb understood this: but so did we. The radical divide between church and state does not date to Alcuin's times, except insofar as it was being advocated by certain hard-headed priests. The general run of the populace seems to have understood the relationship between Ingeld and Christ.

This traditional understanding of the relationship between sacred and secular was long preserved. After the Norman conquest, a monk named Geoffery of Monmouth wrote another piece that carries down to us today. It was "The History of the Kings of Britain," a long tale of hero-kings, including Arthur himself. The Canterbury Tales demonstrate a smooth blending of the sacred and the secular, and indeed the Christian and the pagan, as in the "Knight's Tale." Shakespeare drew gladly from all such sources. Sir Walter Scott, in _Ivanhoe_, shows the principle appreciated in all its full-throated glory in the meeting between Richard and the Holy Clerk of Copmanhurst. Nor can anyone read G. K. Chesterton's magnificent _Orthodoxy_ , first published in 1908, and fail to see that there remained fully sacred men. You do not need to be a Christian to think so.

In fact, Chesterton's _Orthodoxy_ is similar to Qutb's writings in that it is a firm rejection of Modernism, except that Chesterton was around when Modernism was being born. If Qutb writes hysterically about how Modernism was affecting the Middle East of his day, Chesterton writes with foresight about how the movement would affect the world for a century to come. Reading the early chapters, one sees that Chesterton not only accurately predicted the problems that would arise with Modernism, but accurately predicted the development of Post-modernism as well.

Nor was Chesterton the last of his tradition. J. R. R. Tolkien invoked the tradition with as great power as anyone, using his deep learning to evoke meaning from the words of dead languages--especially Old English, Old Norse, and the other Scandinavian tongues in which the tales of Ingeld had been written.

This is the tradition that answers Qutb. In the Norse sagas, in the Beowulf and other Old English poems, in Sir Thomas Malory and Scott and Chesterton, and in Tolkien's Aragorn, there is a common reply to boasting: 'We shall put it to the test.'

III. Putting it to the test

This a formula, as Tom Shippey points out in _J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century_, central to the old heroic ideal. It is Beowulf's response to Unferth's challenge. It occurs endless times in the Norse sagas of gods and heroes. Odin wagers his head with giants over the answers to riddles, or the speed of horses. The champions of king Hrolf Kraki swear to flee neither fire nor iron--nor do they, when put to the test by Odin. In the epic "Battle of Maldon," men fight and die beside their fallen chief rather than flee and betray the oaths they have given. Arthur is praised for placing his body "in adventure, as other poor knights do." Chesterton, in his introduction to _Orthodoxy_, says "Even a bad shot is dignified when he accepts a duel." Aragorn replies to Boromir's demand to know if he has the arm of Isildur as well as his sword, "We shall put it to the test one day."

This is the reply to assertions of certain knowledge. It is a hero's answer, and it is Socrates' answer. It was, in its way, Qutb's. Students of Qutb will know how much he made of the Arabic discovery of the scientific method--which is only another way of putting belief to the test.

This is ground on which many Islamist principles can be combated. It has already been noted in several places that Islam imposes stringent laws on warfare, which condemn many of al Qaeda's tactics, especially toward noncombatants. Any movement which claims to serve moral principles, but ends up planning to capture and murder kindergartners, is a movement vulnerable to the challenge of being put to the test. This is the truer in the Islamist case given that Islam itself condemns their methods.

Islam is a faith that calls for its followers to be heroes in the service of Allah. This heroic challenge, this challenge to enter into philosophical jihad, ought to prove irresistible--it certainly has with the Muslims I have known. That we can entice them to battle is certain. That we will be victorious is not. There are two things that philosophers must be prepared to do in order to make this work.

The first is that we must study and become steeped in their lore as well as our own. It is necessary to be able to recognize when they have entered into a defense that can be challenged on Islamic grounds. This is certainly not the only way to combat ideas--logic will do as well, and history. But, in this case, it has a special power because of the authority which they ascribe to the Islamic tradition.

The second is that we must ourselves adopt this heroic tradition, first to last. It will not do for philosophers to carry on arguing Realism v. Post-Modernism. You must be ready to be put to the test. In order to enter into the lists, one has to be willing to abide the result. Whether or not words and concepts can actually describe The Truth is a debate which has now been had, and must be set aside. Here is realism enough: the Islamists currently believe that it is necessary to kill us, our families, and our children. If they are to be beaten in the realm of ideas, you must believe in the ideas you bring forth. They are your weapons. They are your only weapons. They are as real as a sword.

IV. Common Complaints

The Islamist believes that the West wishes to eradicate Islam as a real faith, forcing secularization upon them. It is necessary to convince them that this is not true. In point of fact, it is not true. There has never been a society as eager to hear and consider new views as the West. Muslims can, and do, find that they are perfectly welcome and can become full participants in Western society. They are not asked to abandon their faith, but only to personalize it: to apply its principles to themselves, but not enforce them on their neighbor.

The most devastating philosophical differences between Islamists and the West at first appears to be a question of liberty. What we perceive as women's liberty, the Islamist sees as a moral horror. There are many such complaints: the so-called "bin Laden's letter to America" cites homosexuality, fornication, gambling, and the drinking of intoxicants, among other flaws it finds in the Western way of life. Qutb in his day cited racism and the Indian wars as proof of America's moral failings.

Ultimately, however, all of these complaints have an answer in one voice or another within America itself. No Islamist need feel alone in voicing condemnation of gambling, which is illegal in many states. Fornication is a specific offense against state law in Georgia. Southern Baptists are so utterly opposed to drinking that many deny that Jesus drank wine. Condemnation of the Indian wars is now part of the standard text of American history. Racism is widely denounced. Even on the question of woman's liberty, there are voices to be found who will support positions even more extreme than those of the Islamist.

Berman notes that, for Qutb, the central problem with America was its separation between church and state. There are many Americans who agree fervently. Qutb wrote that "a final offensive [is] actually taking place now. . . to exterminate this religion as even a basic creed and to replace it with secular conceptions[.]" That point of view, different only in which religion "this" one might be, is echoed regularly in articles from the National Review, to the neopagan, to the Jewish World Review.

The Americans who hold these views are not enemies of the state. In many cases they are among the greatest patriots the state knows. Neither the readership of National Review, nor the congregation at a Southern Baptist church, is likely to be the source of anti-American sentiment. They, like Qutb, feel that the division between the secular and the sacred is a powerful source of disharmony in modern life. Yet, their response is opposite: to love America regardless and try to change her from within, rather than to hate America and seek her destruction. Another of the old heroic concepts explains this oddity.

V. Frith

"Frith" is an Old English word, of the same root as "friend." It refers to the driving ethical concept in the old heroic saga, a kind of communal bond between a man and his family, his friends, his gods (or, if he were a Christian, his God), his neighbors. As every man and every woman had each a network of these frith-bonds, so then every family was bound by each and all of them together. In this way, neighbors and communities, families and friends would defend and uphold each other.

Much has been written about the failure to assimilate Muslim populations, particularly in Europe. This highlights a particular mode of thinking that needs to be addressed, multiculturalism. Multiculturalism can mean two things, one of them healthy, the other destructive. Multiculturalism of the first sort needs to be encouraged, as it opens spaces for those who--like the Islamist--feel ill at ease with Modern life. Multiculturalism of the second sort needs to be assaulted and eradicated.

The first sort of Multiculturalism is that practiced by the Anglo-Saxon monks. It is Ingeld and Christ, existing in happy cohesion. The Muslim in the West ought to feel pride in his Islamic heritage, but as a member of the West he ought also to love the West. It is not necessary to be uncritical to love a thing, nor is it necessary to be blind to its faults. It is only necessary to -love it-. As an American of Korean and Irish heritage ought to love both his Korean father and his Irish mother, and Korean and Irish culture, so he ought also to love America.

The second sort of Multiculturalism is the business of choosing sides. Like a child of divorce picking one parent to love and the other to hate, this is destructive to the bonds of community. It is destructive even if one of the parents is a right bastard. These bonds are what allow us to rest comfortably in common defense. They must be preserved at all costs. Multicultural exercises designed to demonize the West, Western heritage, Christianity, or America, ought to be no more acceptable than exercises in demonizing Koreans, Jews, or Africa. Those who love America will want to change her, whether they be Muslims or Southern Baptists. This is to the good. But those who hate America must be sought out by philosophers, challenged, and put to the test. There is evidence enough to defeat them.

The building and maintenance of frith bonds is a central duty of heroes. The story of the death of King Arthur as it has come down to us is the story of the end of such bonds; so too are the Icelandic sagas. These are tales of warning, traditional tales rooted in oral poetry that stretches back beyond our ability to conceive. They are the wisdom of the ancestors of the West, and ought be heeded.

VI. Conclusion

What will the jihadi make of all this? It is an alien tradition, one that raises claims to authority outside of the Koran. That is a thing against which Qutb warned, a thing he saw as a kind of paganism. But we in the West have done well with paganism. Multiculturalism isn't really new to us, as Alcuin demonstrates. The old heathen ways never went away. Ingeld and Christ remain as parents to us in the West. There are those who have been fully secular, and those fully sacred, but those who have held the floor with the sanest and healthiest vision are those--Chesterton, Tolkien, Shakespeare, Scott--who have been both. All these men loved elves, but none gave us reason to think he despised simple farmers.

The Islamist who finds himself a guest of the United States, in college or in GitMo, is likely to have plenty of opportunity to be drawn in. They need to go away with some answers from us. First, they need to be shown that our tradition of philosophy is one that resonates with their own. Second, they ought to be shown that tolerance isn't only for 'gamblers, drinkers of intoxicants, fornicators and homosexuals,' but also for Baptists, Republicans, and Muslims. They need to be made aware that their longing for a sacred community is echoed in many Western minds, and that they will find natural allies in unexpected places--as long, that is, as they fight in the hazel-fenced field of ideas. If they do, they will become brothers in arms, bringing us new perspectives and ideas. They should also know that if they do not, we have a living heroic tradition as old as their own, and will fight and die rather than surrender.

Finally, they need to be shown how vigorous and warlike the Western philosophical tradition is. Jihadi ought to love it. Once they see that at least some of us can be swayed by a good argument, they might never leave it again. Thrasymachus of Plato's Republic is a perfect example of the high joy that comes from the combateers of ideas, who fell upon Socrates and companions 'like a wild beast,' and swore they were not of the force to defeat him. Well, he and his boast were put to the test.

Living the hero's life is an exercise in joy. Putting yourself to the test is the finest way to live. Courage will be needed. It has been found before: indeed, if we look, it never went away.
Today's updates:

I won't be posting many updates today, as I am working on a long piece that treats a subject in greater detail than is usual for a blog. It will deal with an article from the New York Times Magazine on the philosophy behind al Qaeda and other Islamist groups. The author suggested that no one in the West had offered a reply to their claims, and that may be true. I will sketch the outlines of such a reply today. Look for that this evening. If you want to get ahead and read the New York Times piece, you can find it here. If you're not registered, the NY Times does make you go through a short, but free, registration process.

Be sure to read ParaPundit today, too, for a piece on the Iraqi intelligence archives.
Chechens in the Economist:

This is a story on the attempt at a political solution to the ongoing war between the Chechens and the Russian state. Anyone who's been reading or writing bios on al Qaeda terrorists knows that Chechnya has been the lead recruiting cause for AQ for a decade or so, as well as the place where many of AQ's worst have cut their teeth. A political solution that works in Chechnya would be wonderful news for all of us. This is all the truer because of the genuine horror of the Chechen plight. The brutality of the Russians is astonishing. Al Qaeda has put us in the position of having to court the Russians, and turn a blind eye to the Chechens, in order to carry out a successful war on terror. Damn them for it. By rights, we'd have been backing the Chechens all along.
Oddly, Slate magazine and I are in agreement on something. Ever since I first heard the administration complaint to the effect that 'showing these videos of American POWs on Iraqi state TV is a war crime,' I have been irritated by it. I've seen hundreds of pictures of Iraqi POWs in the last week. In a war in which we have such a powerful moral advantage over our enemy, what the hell is the administration thinking in raising this particular complaint? This is the one area in which Iraq can claim a moral equality.
Today's ParaPundit has a number of links to articles on the plight of North Korean subjects.
DPRK reactor:

The Washington Post reports a bit of good news, bad news. The bad news: the DPRK is feverishly working, with around the clock teams, to restart its Yongbyon reactor. The good news: the thing is so old that they haven't been able to get it cranked up. Article here.

Unfortunately, that's not the end of it. We know their uranium enrichment program works, so even if Yongbyon proves totally decrepit, they are still building up their nuclear arsenal.

Still, there's a second bit of good news hidden in the text. If the article is accurate, the DPRK's ability to produce new weapons may be less than previous estimates have stated. If they need a year to produce six new nukes instead of a couple of months, that buys time for thought, for negotiation--for action, if need be.
The Afghan Front:

Reports are still coming in that elements of the ISI, Pakistan's secret service, are aiding former Taliban leaders and al Qaeda. A couple of weeks ago, The Frontier Post, a Pakistani newspaper out of Peshawar, carried an article accusing the newly formed Afghan Intelligence service of staging events to manipulate the US government. Today the conspiracy theories out of Pakistan include this:
LAHORE (Online): The next target of US after capturing Iraq will be replacement of religious government in Iran with a secular government as the US forces in Afghanistan have already started implementation on action plan in this regard. According to reliable sources, US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had submitted a detailed 300 pages long report to President George Bush in which it was pointed out that during possible US attack on Iran religiously motivated Jehadi (holy warrior) organizations would support Iran from the border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Following this report US intelligence agencies have started actions to check any possibility of provision of support to Iran from border areas of the two neighbouring countries by organizations like Tehreek Nifaz Shariat Mohammadi and tribal leaders in Pakistan and Hizb-e-Islami of Eng. Gulbadeen Hikmatyar along with supporters of former Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Sources further revealed that operation being conducted by U.S. forces in Afghanistan on March 20 was not against Al-Qaeda rather it was against Hizb-e-Islami and possible supporters of Iran. US intelligence agencies have also informed the US State Department about the names of organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan which could support Iran during any possible US attack and this list include names of about six organizations. Sources also revealed that list of countries where replacement of government has been declared essential included Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Cuba and North Korea and from this list Taliban regime has been replaced in Afghanistan while war against Iraq is going on. Moreover, those 22 countries which are being declared threat to U.S. security could face similar US action like in Iraq if they failed to ensure disarming of their armed organizations and finishing their nuclear arsenal.
How much of this is true? Like all good conspiracy theories, probably at least some of it. It's highly likely that there are plans among US intelligence agencies to encourage dissenters in Iran, and it's also not unlikely that they would act against Islamist militants regardless of affiliation, if those militants happened to be operating out of the areas the 82nd Airborne is hitting. As for the list of governments we're certain to replace, that's dubious. I've heard of it from several sources now, but all of them have been Muslim newspapers, and it feels more like a conspiracy theory that is making the rounds. One good reason to believe this is that the list of countries seems to differ from one source to another. Many of the Arab newspapers seem to feel Syria is next, rather than Iran. NPR last night reported a common thread in the Arab press that "the road to Damascus leads through Baghdad."

North Korea may become a "regime change" state in the near future, but I doubt any of the others are. For one thing, the DPRK is increasingly demanding all the attention we can spare. The administration has said that it hopes a free Iraq and Afghanistan would provide a strong example of democracy, reforming the Middle East by their simple act of being. Iran, bordering both, has seen increasingly strong demonstrations against both the secular government, and the mullahs who are the real power in Iran. If regime change comes to Iran, it will likely be from internal revolt, though I wouldn't be surprised to see the administration act against their nuclear reactors.
On Iraq:

Yesterdays heavy casualties seem to have come from two ambushes and a blunder. The blunder was made by the supply-oriented soldiers who wandered into an unsecured area and were captured. That kind of thing, sadly, can happen in war--indeed, it could happen in the rougher parts of Los Angeles.

Ambushes also happen in war. There are two things to remember about this pair of ambushes. First, they both were possible only because of the tight rules of engagement that American soldiers and Marines are using to prevent noncombatant casulaties. Second, after the initial surprise, we won both engagements. That speaks well for the chances of the campaign--an army that can't even win its ambushes is not going to win the victory. Honor yesterday's dead, who fell protecting the people of Iraq from their own, as well as the enemy's, guns. Chivalry indeed.
More on North Korea:

Wargames between the South Korean and US forces have been going on not far from the DMZ.
It takes place this year just as the world is watching North Korea warily. The communist government has issued shrill warnings saying it believes the Bush administration's doctrine of preemptive attack will be applied to North Korea quickly after Iraq. Pyongyang has threatened not to wait.

The North has taken steps that could lead to production of nuclear weapons fuel, thrown out U.N. nuclear inspectors and declared past agreements to limit its nuclear ambitions void. It has fired off small rockets, and appeared to prepare for a test of a ballistic missile. Its MiG fighters have zoomed close to a U.S. reconnaissance plane the Pentagon says was in international airspace. . . .

The Pentagon has long claimed the United States could wage two wars at once. But some analysts believe North Korea has concluded the American military is strained by the Iraqi attack, and Pyongyang would seize this moment to create a military crisis.

Those analysts say Washington underestimates Pyongyang's paranoia, and its belief that the military exercises are a pretext for attack preparations. Returning from a visit to North Korea on Saturday, U.N.envoy Maurice Strong said in Beijing that North Korea was preparing for possible war with Washington.
The bright lines of logic are all drawing to an intersection. The DPRK says these wargames have brought the penninsula "to the brink of nuclear war." It isn't just these games that have done it, but I agree with the assessment otherwise. They are calling down the thunder. George Tenet recently said that the "declassified answer" as to whether or not the DPRK could hit the United States west coast with nuclear missles was "yes." That missile test mentioned in the block quote is the Taepodong 2, which can hit the entire United States.

The bright lines of logic aren't always right, though they have a better track record than most. This looks like a sea of fire, or perhaps several such: The DPRK has lately threatened to turn Seoul into a 'sea of fire', Tokyo into a 'sea of fire', American cities into a 'sea of fire', and American officials feel as though they are walking above a sea of fire.

Swear to fearlessness for the days ahead.

"Courage is better than the power of a sword
For I've seen men fighting bravely victorious with blunt weapons;
Cheerfulness is better than snivelling,
Whatever may be at hand."
Sigurd Dragonslayer, "Lay of Fafnir," from _The Elder Edda_

As coalition forces have begun to invest Iraqi cities, we've been drawn into several streetfights. We're starting to see casualties now. The Iraqi forces have apparently abandoned the Geneva conventions that require soldiers to wear uniforms; of course, Iraq makes use of irregular, even sometimes tribal forces, to whom uniforms would be unknown.

We will see in the next few days, both in these cities and in Baghdad, whether our powerful sense of chivalry toward noncombatants can hold. In past confrontations, national armies have become increasingly brutal at just such moments. World War II saw even American GIs shelling villages if, when offered a chance to surrender, village occupants fired on them. Putting American fighting men at risk to protect noncombatants is going to prove increasingly unpopular as casualties mount.

It is, nevertheless, the right thing to do. The alternatives are indiscriminate destruction to pacify the city, or siege-style starvation of the inhabitants. It is a soldier's duty to peril his own life to protect the weak and the innocent. That is the core of Just War theory, of which we've heard so much just lately. To make that work we will need great courage and fortitude.

We will also need to enforce the laws of war on their violators. Courts martial must have the courage to administer to capital crimes capital punishment. Kindness to the cruel is cruelty to the kind. Applying a stern standard to violators, both coalition and Iraqi, is in the long run a kindness to noncombatants. It reinforces the laws of war among our own, but also among the vicious who respect no law but fear our power. Just as acts that weaken respect for these protocols are acts of cruelty to the weak, so acts that strengthen respect for the protocols are acts of support and protection.
American POWs:

I've just seen the Al-Jazeera recording of an interview with American POWs in Iraq. There isn't much to be said about it, except to comment on how hard it was to find. Even Drudge seems not to want to post it. Americans are not bloodthirsty monsters--far from it. We deserve the truth.
The genius of the Scott:

An excavation of a Viking-age estate is ongoing in the Shetlands. The article is enjoyable on its own, but begins with a particularly memorable couple of paragraphs:

Jarlshof, Britain's best-known Viking farmstead, owes its romantic name to Sir Walter Scott, who visited the Sumburgh promontory on Shetland in 1814 and later set there the opening scene of his novel, The Pirate.

All that was visible then were the ruins of the 17th century laird's house, and it was this that Sir Walter named Jarlshof, or 'Earl's Mansion', suggesting that 'an ancient Earl of the Orkneys had selected this neck of land for establishing a mansion house'. He would have been gratified to know that excavations more than a century later proved that there had indeed been Viking Age settlement here, long before the laird's house was built.

This is doubly amazing when it is taken with a second set of facts: in Sir Walter Scott's _Ivanhoe_, he placed King Richard the Lionheart at a siege of a castle held by partisans of the usurper Prince John. Scott's Richard was fighting incognito. Decades after _Ivanhoe_ was published, new sources came to light that proved that in fact, though no one had suspected it, Richard had fought incognito at a siege of a partisan castle in England after his return. Here is another occasion in which that great author, Sir Walter Scott, got there ahead of us by force of true imagination.
Undermining that hope is this story about Russian arms dealers selling weapons to Iraq, even this very week. The Russian government seems to be giving them a pass in spite of official protests from the US government. A coalition solution to North Korea implies a lot of faith in that coalition to be vigilant about the sales and transfer of nuclear materials from the DPRK to others--rogue states, terror groups, and so forth. Yet Russia's government is only somewhat kindly disposed to us, and compromised at all levels by organized crime; the People's Republic of China is a competitor for influence in the region, and indeed would very much like to see the United States driven out of east Asia so we would not interfere with their expansion to Taiwan and the sea islands. That leaves two potentially giant holes in the vigil. Given that we are talking about material that could cause us to lose a city, that is a concern that can't be left out of any negotiations.