So what's the connection? Last week Cheney said there was a 9/11 link, and Bush said there wasn't; Cheney, of course, has been going to the CIA briefings every day for ten years, but Bush is the President. On the other hand, Bush also said that al Qaeda links to Iraq were absolutely certain, so the picture gets confused.

The Bleat has this:

I mean, there�s this:

Finally, what if any new evidence has emerged that bolsters the Bush administration's prewar case?

The answer to that last question is simple: lots. The CIA has confirmed, in interviews with detainees and informants it finds highly credible, that al Qaeda's Number 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, met with Iraqi intelligence in Baghdad in 1992 and 1998. More disturbing, according to an administration official familiar with briefings the CIA has given President Bush, the Agency has "irrefutable evidence" that the Iraqi regime paid Zawahiri $300,000 in 1998, around the time his Islamic Jihad was merging with al Qaeda. "It's a lock," says this source. Other administration officials are a bit more circumspect, noting that the intelligence may have come from a single source. Still, four sources spread across the national security hierarchy have confirmed the payment.

The entire article is here, and it�s worth reading. It�s a summation of what the Administration alleged, what they didn�t use, and what they�ve learned since the war. Here�s another taste:

Farouk Hijazi, former Iraqi ambassador to Turkey and Saddam's longtime outreach agent to Islamic fundamentalists, has been captured. In his initial interrogations, Hijazi admitted meeting with senior al Qaeda leaders at Saddam's behest in 1994. According to administration officials familiar with his questioning, he has subsequently admitted additional contacts, including a meeting in late 1997. Hijazi continues to deny that he met with bin Laden on December 21, 1998, to offer the al Qaeda leader safe haven in Iraq. U.S. officials don't believe his denial.

For one thing, the meeting was reported in the press at the time. It also fits a pattern of contacts surrounding Operation Desert Fox, the series of missile strikes the Clinton administration launched at Iraq beginning December 16, 1998. The bombing ended 70 hours later, on December 19, 1998. Administration officials now believe Hijazi left for Afghanistan as the bombing ended and met with bin Laden two days later.

If you think it�s another steaming slice of facts from the Great Pie of Minced Prevarications, fine. But it�s a plausible piece, and if you�ve read it the lied-died meme seems particularly loathsome.
I don't see any way that there could not have been links, given all we've seen. Certainly the Abu Nidal Organization ran out of Iraq all through the last ten years, and they're linked to al Qaeda. There have been persistent rumors of Qaeda/Saddam links around the Ansar al-Islam area. No evidence has emerged to the press of such links since the war--but then, the Ansar campaign was handled by USSOCOM combined with the CIA Special Operations Group, which means absolutely everything that they encountered was instantly classified. No embedded reporters got to see what they found.
Assassination foiled by militia action:

Akila Hashemi was shot today in Iraq. A member of the Iraqi Governing Council, she was ambushed in her Land Rover by gunmen.

She may yet die from her wounds. If she does not, though, she has these men to thank:

The Land Cruiser then careered down the street for about 150 yards, followed by the pickup trucks, before crashing into the front gate of a house, witnesses said. As the pickup approached, its driver and passengers shooting in the direction of the house, Hashemi's brother removed an AK-47 rifle from the Land Cruiser and began shooting at the truck. He was joined by a security guard stationed at a neighboring high school.

"If we didn't shoot back, they would have come here to kill her or kidnap her," said the guard, Feras Deen.
Coalition forces, like policemen, can't be everywhere. A handy AK-47 goes a long way to evening the score, even against a well-planned and -manned ambuscade.

A reply to an article on terrorism at FreeSpeech:
For what it's worth, I don't agree with the assessment. I agree that they can't be deterred, exactly. I also agree they can't be appeased.

But they can be stopped. When was the last time an airliner was hijacked successfully? September 11, 2001. It has never happened again, and it never will. That old classic of terrorism is a dead letter.

Truck bombings are a serious threat. Been to the Lincoln Memorial lately? What used to be parking is now an empty zone, protected by concrete barriers. You can't get a truck of any sort close enough to bomb the thing. Important buildings can be sealed off similarly--the extra walk is good for you anyway.

What about kidnappings? Al Qaeda tapes recovered in Afghanistan show them practicing at taking over grade-school style buildings. In their practice runs, they bargain just long enough to get the TV cameras on site, then slaughter all the children for the cameras. Won't happen more than once, I guarantee you. After that, every teacher in the school will not only be permitted but required to pack heat.

The same can be said for every other terrorist endeavour. In the United States and England, citizens have the full authority that policemen have to arrest criminals and bring them before the law. In the USA, we still have a statuatory right to arms, which even the District of Columbia respects under limitations--I recently ordered a Rex Applegate combat knife that is perfectly legal under D.C. precedent and law. Without a single change to the law of any state, but only a change in the minds of the people, we're a nation of armed and honest terror-hunters. No need for "Patriot Act" police powers--just patriots.

Think all of this is going to wear us down? Just the opposite is true. Israelis are happier than Americans according to a new study. At the least, this demonstrates that exposure to terrorism doesn't diminish happiness.

I frankly suspect it increases it. Aristotle wrote that happiness is an activity, and the particular activity it is consists in the exercise of your vital functions in pursuit of arete, which translates either as "excellence" or "virtue." The first of the arete he mentions is Courage. Terrorism gives us a chance to exercise that virtue, and we are the happier and the stronger because of it.

That is what we're looking at. Armageddon? Bring it on. Ragnarock? The same. Both legendary conflicts bring on better worlds in their aftermath--check the legends, lads. There may be bloody days ahead. Steel yourself for them, learn your rights and how to exercise them in defiance of tyranny--but do not fear what is to come. Courage will stand you.

We are going to win, if only we dare.

I owe a great debt to this post by Kim du Toit. Somehow I had missed Bill Whittle. It was my loss.

These essays are, I say without exaggeration, the best thing I've read to be composed in our new century. I urge you all to set some time aside to read them.

Start here:

Trinity part one
Trinity, part two

If your ears aren't ringing by the end of the essay, read it again. If they are, wait until your heart settles down again, and then read another one of the ones under the "High Altitude" banner. They are magnificient.

The Homecoming:

Reader S.D. describes this as "a must read", and I am inclined to agree.

On another topic, Izzy was fairly gentle out this way. Truthfully, after battening down the hatches, I slept through pretty much the whole thing.


Isabel is coming our way. We'll see you when she passes, Deus volente, or inshallah as you prefer.

Alas and damn it.

The Israeli Defense force doesn't mess around. Less than an hour ago, they moved on a house in Gaza owned by a Hamas member. A gunbattle erupted straightaway--I saw the first news alert about that posted two minutes after the one about the IDF's arrival.

Now, just half an hour after that, Reuters is reporting that the Hamas activist, Jihad Abu Swerah of the Izz-el-deen al-Qassam wing, has been killed. IDF troops were backed by helicopter gunships.


I just today saw Caerdroia's tribute to 9/11. It's worth a look, and is elegant in its way.

A new book is out on the performance of the First Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq.

National Review is trying to sell a book on Bush as a grand orator. I've always been of the opinion that Bush was indeed grand, when he was reading a prepared speech--but not when he was ad-libbing.

Jay Nordlinger makes an argument that Bush is one of the great speechmakers. It sounded like a stretch to me until I read it through. Now--well, I've listened to a lot of Bush's speeches, prepared and off the cuff. It's hard to say that Bush is great at the latter. And yet, Nordlinger makes a good case. You might take a moment to consider it.

Cold Poetry:

I raise a glass to this, which is reproduced on Mark Steyn's website.
1945 - 1985: Poem for the Anniversary
walking for hours through the woods,
I don't know what I'm looking for,
maybe for something
shy and beautiful to come
frisking out of the undergrowth.
Once a fawn did just that.
My dog didn't know
what dogs usually do.
And the fawn didn't know.
As for the doe, she was probably
down in Round Pond, swizzling up
the sweet marsh grass and dreaming
that everything was fine.
The way I'd like to go on living in this world
wouldn't hurt anything, I'd just go on
walking uphill and downhill, looking around,
and so what if half the time I don't know
what for --
so what if it doesn't come
to a hill of beans --
so what if I vote liberal,
and am Jewish,
or Lutheran --
or a game warden --
or a bingo addict --
and smoke a pipe?
In the films of Dachau and Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen
the dead rise from the earth
and are piled in front of us, the starved
stare across forty years,
and lush, green, musical Germany
shows again its iron claw, which won't
ever be forgotten, which won't
ever be understood, but which did,
slowly, for years, scrape across Europe
while the rest of the world
did nothing.
Oh, you never saw
such a good leafy place, and
everything was fine, my dog and the fawn
did a little dance,
they didn't get serious.
Then the fawn clambered away through the leaves
and my gentle dog followed me away.
Oh, you never saw such a garden!
A hundred kinds of flowers in bloom!
A waterfall, for pleasure and nothing else!
The garden furniture is white,
tables and chairs in the cool shade.
A man sits there, the long afternoon before him.
He is finishing lunch, some kind
of fruit, chicken, and a salad.
A bottle of wine with a thin and beaded neck.

He fills a glass.
You can tell it is real crystal.
He lifts it to his mouth and drinks peacefully.

It is the face of Mengele.


the doe came wandering back in the twilight.
She stepped through the leaves. She hesitated,
sniffing the air.

Then she knew everything.


The forest grew dark.

She nuzzled her child wildly.

Mary Oliver

Down in the West Texas Town of El Paso...

Maybe we should all move to Texas.

I've been making fun of people who have been wringing their hands over a movement whose members they've decided to call "neo-Confederates." Just what might one be? Well, usually they're citing the Daughters of the Confederacy, which they astonishingly describe as "white supremicist." As far as I know from having grown up in Georgia, the DAC mostly holds tea parties and fancy-dress balls. I've never been to one, so maybe they discuss vicious things over their tea--but it's real hard to imagine them instituting a revolution.

So today I read about the Southern Military Institute on Southern Appeal. I can't help but notice two things right away: first, that their flag contains one of the Confederate National flags; and second, that the motto of SMI will be Deo Vindice. That motto, which means "God is our Defender," has been used once before, on the Great Seal of the Confederate States of America.

Now, I don't think the DAC or the Sons of Confederate Veterans actually advocate a new (that is, neo) Confederacy. SMI doesn't either, as far as I can tell. Interestingly, though, it says it will be training officers for "the National Guard of the Southern States, to help prepare young men to assume roles as officers in the Army and Air National Guard. Not the USMC? If not, why not, unless it is because your first loyalty is not to the Federal government? But then, why should your first loyalty be to the Feds? Jefferson's wasn't. I have to admit I have a love and affection for Georgia that I can't say I feel for anyplace else. Yet I also enlisted in the USMC straight out of high school, precisely out of patriotism and love of America, not just Georgia. I find it very odd that SMI isn't going to be preparing men to fight in the Marines, or even the US Army.

SMI is definitely pro-Confederacy:

SMI will sponsor programs that advance the knowledge and awareness of Southern history and culture including the honouring of Confederate Memorial Day and New Market Day, which celebrates the valor of the VMI cadets at the Battle of New Market, Virginia on the 15th of May, 1864.
I have a sense that a lot of this is a reaction to the political correctness of recent years. The Confederate flag-waving, the repeated invocation of "Judeo-Christian values," and so forth are plainly a ceremonial giving of the finger to the PC line that the Confederacy has to be viewed as an unmitigated evil; that descendants of Confederates should be ashamed of their heritage; that programs that are too physically tough for women to participate in them fully must be banned; that Christian faith must be practiced out of sight. We're hearing from SMI the voice of plain outrage over all of these challenges to the things that their founders hold dear, and to the destruction of two Southern institutions: VMI, and the Citadel.

Outrage is never pretty. I hope they get over it fast. It sounds like they will otherwise have an excellent program, one that will be both traditional and also, now, unique in America:

The concept of the American citizen soldier is as old as our nation itself. Likewise, an education in a military setting is a time proven approach to educating young men for positions of great responsibility. SMI fully supports these concepts. For those who desire an association with a formal military organization, SMI will work closely with the National Guard of the Southern states to help prepare young men to assume roles as officers in the Army and Air National Guard.

Southern traditions that have been tarnished and almost lost will live again at SMI. The concept of an officer and a Southern gentleman will be the standard, not the exception. Honesty, integrity, courtesy, and respect for all men and women regardless of race, position, or economic standing will be taught and required.
Well, hell, on those points these lads and I are positive allies. Too, I understand their outrage on the way the South is treated by the rest of the country. When a substantial percentage of the population considers the Confederates to have been "traitors," we can say that there has been a total failure of education in America as to the evolution of the Constitution and the history of our country.

But this is where I dissent with SMI. America is our country too. However improperly we've been treated, the fact is that the Yankees have been good for us. That's hard to admit to yourself, I know, but it's true. Slavery was evil. It had to go. Yes, Reconstruction was brutal and unconstitutional, yes the South was beggared for four generations, yes the South was treated as a colony of the North for seventy years. In spite of that, we are better off today because of our continuing relationship with the Yankee. We are better off simply because we are morally clean now: both Slavery and Jim Crow have been broken, and brotherhood between all Southerners is now possible and, increasingly, a fact of life. We must admit that we lacked the internal will to effect those changes.

It is also true that we have been good for the Yankees. The fact that America is not mired in European Union socialism is almost entirely due to the fact that the Solid South has kept us from being dragged into the abyss. The fact that our country has a military that is ready and able to defend her in her hour of need is disproportionately due to Southerners. America needs us. We are what keeps her true to her founding principles, as much as she remains true to them. If America is going to lead the world to freedom, she needs us to remind her what Freedom was supposed to mean.

It has never been a comfortable relationship, Southerner to Yankee. It has, however, been good for both of us. It's past time to recognize that.

Black Mail:

Reader S.D. sends this story from the Washington Post.
These authorities now understand much better the system of rewards and punishments that the Baathist regime used to keep these tribes loyal. For one thing, the tribes were given regular payments if the pipelines in their territories encountered no problems. Sabotage or other security problems in a tribe's area brought an immediate cutoff of those payments from Baghdad.

The protection funds ceased with the invasion -- and sabotage suddenly erupted. Now payments to the tribes are being restored by CPA officials, who are silently testing the theory that Sunni sheiks looking for a renewal of their customary meal ticket may have been negligent about, if not responsible for, damage to the national pipeline system. Paid town councils are also being established in Sunni areas and warned that salaries will stop if there are security problems in their jurisdictions.

I envision a critique of this policy among some of my left-wing friends. "But that's paying protection money!"

So it is. Works, though, doesn't it?

"Not in the long term. You can't expect to build a stable democracy while allowing this kind of large-scale criminality. The power of these tribal war-lords will work against both stability and democracy."

Well, as to that, do you know the origin of the word "blackmail"?

There is paid in blackmail or watch-money, openly and privately, �5,000; and there is a yearly loss by understocking the grounds, by reason of theifts, of at least �15,000; which is, altogether, a loss to landlords and farmers in the Highlands of �37,000 sterling a year. . . . The person chosen to command this watch, as it is called, is commonly one deeply concerned in the theifts himself, or at least that have been in correspondence with the thieves, and frequently who have occasioned thefts, in order to make this watch, by which he gains considerably, necessary. The people employed travell through the country armed, night and day, under pretence of enquiring after stolen cattle, and by this means know the situation and circumstances of the whole country. And as the people thus employed are the very rogues that do these mischiefs, so one-half of them are continued in their former bussiness of stealling that the busieness of the other half may be necessary in recovering.
"That kind of analogy to history is improper here. Scotland was, you yourself have argued, the font of our democracy. The most you can prove with this is that these robberies are not incompatible with the development of democracy, not that they ought to be allowed."

Fair enough. Let's skip down a bit in the same article:

The chief, even against the laws, is bound to protect his followers, as they are sometimes called, be they never so criminal. He is their leader in clan quarrels, must free the necessitous from their arrears of rent, and maintain such who, by accidents, are fallen into decay. If, by increase of the tribe, any small farms are wanting, for the support of such addition he splits others into lesser portions, because all must be somehow provided for[.]
So we're looking at a functioning social system that provides for the common welfare, albiet through actions that are not convenient for others in the state. Well, it's not especially convenient for me to pay the extortionist rate of taxes demanded by the IRS; and I am at scarcely less peril, should I try to refuse, than anyone from the day. If I will not pay, will not the IRS attempt to seize my wages? And if I hide my wages, will they not try to take my property? And if I defend my property, will they not send armed men to try to arrest me and throw me in prison? And if I defend myself from this, will they not shoot me in the street?

"It's just not the same thing at all. This is done democratically. What you're talking about is totally undemocratic. There's no legitimacy."

But I remind you that exactly this system was the root of democracy as we know it today. You would like to skip ahead two hundred years at a breath and turn tribesmen into a nation of tax-payers, and chiefs into tax-collectors and redistributionists. It can't be done, any more than Lenin could turn a nation of serfs into a post-Capitalist proletariat.

The reason that it can't be done is that these men have a fully developed understanding of what constitutes a legitimate authority. Your proposed substitute fails on all counts. You are, in other words, in just the position of the soldiers of the crown trying to effect their declarations of forfeiture on Highland chiefs:

Theoretically, in the eye of the law, the tenure and distribution of land in the Highlands was on the same footing as in the rest of the kingdom the chiefs, like the lowland barons, were supposed to hold their lands from the monarch, the nominal proprietor of all landed property, and these again in the same way distributed portions of this territory among their followers, who thus bore the same relation to the chief as the latter did to his superior, the king. In the eye of the law, we say, this was the case, and so those of the chiefs who were engaged in the rebellion of 1715--45 were subjected to forfeiture in the same way as any lowland rebel.

But, practically, the great body of the Highlanders knew nothing of such a tenure, and even if it had been possible to make them understand it, they would probably have repudiated it with contempt. The great principle which seems to have ruled all the relations that subsisted between the chief and his clan, including the mode of distributing and holding land, was, previous to 1746, that of the family. The land was regarded not so much as belonging absolutely to the chief, but as the property of the clan of which the chief was head and representative. Not only was the clan bound to render obedience and reverence to their head, to whom each member supposed himself related, and whose name was the common name of all his people; he also was regarded as bound to maintain and protect his people, and distribute among them a fair share of the lands which he held as their representative.

That's just where we are today. We have to respect that this is what people believe, and more to the point, what they want. A system that unmakes the old tribes can not, therefore, be democratic. If the state is to be really democratic, and truly Iraqi, it will have to make room for the tribes--or the tribes will make room for themselves, as did the Highlanders, by sword and fire.

The good news, such as it is, is that the answer to these concerns is organic. As capitalism becomes established in Iraq, the tribal ties will not be able to hold any more than they have held anywhere else in the world. The Highland clans ceased to exist not because they were beaten in battle or subjugated, but because it became more profitable for chiefs to have open land for grazing than large bodies of retainers. The chiefs themselves broke up the clans and drove their people off the lands and into the cities for work.

Many of the Highland proprietors, in their haste to get rich, or at least to get money to spend in the fashionable world, either mercilessly, and without warning, cleared their estates of the tenants, or most unreasonably oppressed them in the matter of rent.
So--patience. Alas, you'll get your way soon enough. In the meanwhile, this is the practical way to see that the pipelines are not disturbed. It serves that practical purpose, and also the humanitarian purpose of seeing that the people of the tribes are provided with their basic needs. It's the system the Iraqi tribesmen recognize as legitimate and proper, and is therefore a true expression of Iraqi democracy to make room for these tribes.

And, finally, it will end quite on its own. Prosperity will unmake it. By then, there will be jobs in the cities for them which do not now exist--it will be the same expansion of the economy that creates those jobs that will make the old social support system unsustainable.

Pay the black mail. It's all to the good, in the end.


Hail and praise, brothers-in-arms! Here follows an evaluation of the heroic First Marine Expeditionary Force. Of special note to the militia debate are these comments by Marine Corps Lt. Gen. James T. Conway, commander I MEF:
We found in the people of southern Iraq an industrious, intelligent society, very knowledgeable in the state of current affairs and very interested in what was to be the future of their country. I used to think Americans were the most impatient people on Earth. I now believe that distinction belongs to the Iraqis.

We should encourage that characteristic, however, especially as it relates to their security. We must continue to mature the Iraqi police, resource the Iraqi militia and oversee the revitalization of the new Iraqi army, so that the next time there is a transfer of authority in an historic place, like the amphitheater at Babylon, it will be between a multinational division and the people of Iraq.
Now this is just what I mean:

The Sage of Knoxville links to a story that outlines the success of the general militia, operating independently. Here it is.

Meanwhile, over at Freespeech I have a piece up on the need for an Iraqi militia. Up the Republic! Up the Militia!

Frenchmen pay Frenchmen for Libyan bombing:

Via the Rottie. I would say something about this, but I'm laughing to hard to think.
Thank God I'm a Democrat:

Who knew? I'm guessing we Southern Democrats fall on the low end of the scale, but still...

Joseph Schumpeter has always been my favorite economist. Reason magazine has a piece today that shows why his theories are important to understanding globalization.

Hat tip to Arts & Letters Daily.

Tort Reform:

One of the most important domestic issues in these United States is binding the busy hands of trial lawyers. Southern Appeal has some notes on a Texan effort.
How do we compete with this?

The Communist Party, USA, comes out in favor of whoever can beat Bush. What, I ask as a Southern Democrat, are we going to do to compete with this? There can be few better endorsements than the hatred of the Communists.

The only answer is to run on a pro-war agenda. But can any of the Democratic Party candidates do that? Ah, Zell Miller, why have you forsaken us? This ought to be your hour. Your party and your country need you.


Oh, to be in GitMo in the autumn. Or at least, anyplace else but Bangladesh:
Madan was a sergeant major in the terrorist organization PLA. He was trained in Bangladesh. Mani was a lance corporal in another outfit KYKL and was trained in guerrilla warfare in Myanmar It's literally a dog�s life for the 85 surrendered militants from various insurgent organisations. They were promised a good life. Instead, they have been living in the accommodation meant for police dogs for the last three years.

Insurgency tale: From hideouts to kennels�