I must admit that, in my humble opinion, this is the best Zionist Conspiracy Theory yet. Did you know that major food companies pay "protection" money to a Rabbinical council? Well, they don't -- but the Voice of Aztlan makes a convincing case that they are idiots who don't understand a thing about consumer marketing.
While reading up on the explosion in the hostage taking industry (The Belmont Club is the leader in thinking about this topic), a thought struck me. When was the last major suicide bombing, excepting Israel? A GoogleNews Search on the topic produces a lot of commentary, but few recent news stories.
The suicide bomber was always primarily a psychological weapon. Even in Israel, where they have been fielded most heavily and for a protracted period, the damage they have been able to do to the economy has been minimal. They have been more successful at attacking society -- people become less ready to go to pizzarias or cafes, or to ride buses. But even in that regard, the tactic has failed to either destroy the Israeli ability to function socially or to undermine Israel as a political entity. Indeed, it hasn't even been a success at making them unhappy:
A recent survey of 7000 Israelis showed that Israelis are among the happiest people in the world, despite terror, constant stress, the current impasse, the economic crisis, and the many frustrations of Israeli life. That's right, 83% of Israelis say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their lives. Moreover, 53% expect things to get better in the coming years, and only 14% of them expect things to worsen. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, this makes Israelis among the happiest people in the world. For instance, Canada, with a much higher standard of living, and no sign of terror and the other stresses of Israeli life, only scores marginally better, with 85% of people satisfied or very satisfied.The kidnappings we've seen lately, attended by filmed beheadings or other mutilation, have a similar psychological effect to the suicide bomb. But they are also more efficient: you don't need to sacrifice a mufsidoon to carry it out. You also don't leave as much evidence behind that can lead to reprisal raids -- just a body that you can dispose of, rather than an obvious crime scene loaded with bomb parts and other trackable items.
Veteran Israeli writer Hillel Halkin speculates that it all comes down to human relations, and especially the strong families that are a hallmark of Jewish culture, combined with the smallness of Israel, where everyone is a bit like a family. He reports that 99% of Israelis have families, 98.5 % of them are in regular contact with them, and 94% say their relations with their families are good.
It may be too much to hope that the suicide bomber has outlived his usefulness. It could be that the remaining suicide-squads are biding their time for something big, round about November. Or, it could be that we simply have hit a lull in the recruiting cycle. It takes time to train someone to go blow themselves to pieces, and stores of suckers may be low just now. Only time will tell if the tactic is really on its way out. Still, there is reason to wonder if the mufsidoon have had to switch their signature tactic from "matyrdom" to kidnapping -- and if so, to wonder what it means.
I see that the Kerry campaign is taking steps to pretend that they have no idea who Joe Wilson might be. Odd given the top billing that Wilson used to get, and the fact that his website used to be not only linked to, but funded by, Kerry's campaign. No longer.
But I hear Wilso is still "respected." It's just that no one with anything to lose wants to be associated with him, or his story.
Hat tip to The Sage.
There is a long piece in The Hudson Review by Bruce Bawer. He's an American who moved to Europe, where he decided that Europe was the real font of civilization:
Living in turn in the Netherlands, where kids come out of high school able to speak four languages, where gay marriage is a non-issue, and where book-buying levels are the world’s highest, and in Norway, where a staggering percentage of people read three newspapers a day and where respect for learning is reflected even in Oslo place names ("Professor Aschehoug Square"; "Professor Birkeland Road"), I was tempted at one point to write a book lamenting Americans' anti-intellectualism -- their indifference to foreign languages, ignorance of history, indifference to academic achievement, susceptibility to vulgar religion and trash TV, and so forth. On point after point, I would argue, Europe had us beat.The next several pages are devoted to explaining how he recovered his love of his native country, and what he's come to believe about Europe. Following that, he talks about the post-9/11 world.
Over time, then, these things came into focus for me. Then came September 11. Briefly, Western European hostility toward the U.S. yielded to sincere, if shallow, solidarity ("We are all Americans"). But the enmity soon re-established itself (a fact confirmed for me daily on the websites of the many Western European newspapers I had begun reading online). With the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, it intensified. Yet the endlessly reiterated claim that George W. Bush "squandered" Western Europe's post-9/11 sympathy is nonsense. The sympathy was a blip; the anti-Americanism is chronic.The piece goes on to look at a number of recent books written on the topic of US-European relations, and to give some thoughtful opinions on the subject. It is quite long, but I recommend it to anyone who wishes to spend a little while reading a reasoned and interesting article.
Sadly, this story is not surprising. My father, once a captain in the Volunteer Fire Department, used to go and sit houses during the funerals of fallen brethren, both police and firefighter. It was to avoid stories like this:
The apartment of a Marine reservist killed in Iraq was robbed this week while family members were preparing for his funeral, police said.There's a certain kind of ghoul who looks out for the funerals of heroes, in order to feed. May justice find him.
Cpl. John Todd, 25, was killed last month when a roadside bomb exploded. Two other Marines were also killed in the attack.
Todd's family was getting ready for his funeral on Wednesday when a thief, who apparently was aware of the funeral, broke into Todd's apartment, ransacked it and stole his computer, police said.
UPDATE: It appears the police caught someone.
Speaking of BlackFive, he's got a good point today:
But, I ask you, isn't Sandy Berger a former advisor to Bill Clinton? And, isn't Sandy Berger Senator Kerry's foreign policy advisor now?It is curious that Berger's job as of five years ago is mentioned, but not his current occupation.
I know it's just a verb-tense issue, but the media is really showing it's hand here. Those headlines should have read:
Kerry Advisor Probed
I got a package today from Spirit of America. You may remember the fundraiser from the spring in which Grim's Hall participated. Today the good folks sent me a T-shirt and baseball cap (the latter of which I gave to my wife, who likes baseball caps) to thank me for my efforts on their behalf. I appreciate the swag and will wear it proudly, but the folks who deserve thanks for their efforts are the full-timers at SoA. Drop by and see what they've been up to.
I really doubt too many of you who are deployed military read my site and not BlackFive's. Still, in case any of you Devil Dogs out there don't skim his place (and you should), I thought I'd pass along this offer he mentions:
I could use your help in getting the word out to ourThat's downright decent of Donovan. The rest of you might want to consider throwing some business his way, if you happen to have any such needs.
Donovan Janus is the Principal of a company called
Exposure Manager - http://www.exposuremanager.com/ -
which is a top flight photography company that
specializes in storage and display of photos on-line.
I have no involvement or relationship with Exposure
Donovan's team contacted me and would like to extend
an offer to any service member in Iraq or Afghanistan
(or Africa) to provide free storage for their digital
photos. So,instead of emailing large photo files, our
service members could upload them to Exposure Manager
for free. They could then have their friends and
family see their work on-line.
Donovan's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
. Any deployed service member can contact him and
he'll set them up with a free account at Exposure
Manager. You can reference this email if needed.
Back in the county -- that is, Forsyth County, the county where I grew up -- there's an election for sheriff. Now, everyone's heard stories about Georgia sheriffs. I just want you all to know, the stories are all true:
Forsyth County Sheriff candidate Gary Beebe was released on a $15,000 bond Wednesday after being arrested on extortion charges by the Federal Bureau of Investigation."Extortion" doesn't begin to cover it.
In a statement released by his attorney, Beebe said he believes he still has enough support in Forsyth to stay in the race for sheriff.
According to an audio recording, Beebe planned to solve the county's drug problem if elected by endorsing robbery of drug dealers. Beebe told the general manager he would allow a "strike force" to operate in the county and rob drug dealers -- with the general manager keeping the loot.Over the nearly twenty years that I lived there, I've known dozens of Deputies and, especially, firemen down in the county. They're good, hardworking, generally honest and certainly brave. I don't want you to get the idea that it's a den of thieves. Moreover, down North Georgia way the folk are pretty much independent of the law anyway -- there aren't many lawmen about, and people mostly take care of their own. Forsyth County has always been a safe and pleasant place to live.
"You and me have talked about some things that are definitely gray -- like the strike force," said the informant, who suggested that he would have control over methamphetamine trade in Forsyth County.
Beebe said he would give the informant a heads up to remove the illegal drugs in advance of a raid by sheriff's deputies.
At one point in the conversation, the informant told Beebe, "We need to talk about what we're really gonna do."
Beebe replied, "We'll do whatever you want to do, boss."
In the most disturbing accusation by the U.S. Attorney's Office, Beebe is accused of saying he would look the other way if the general manager committed murder in the county.
The informant suggested that he would like to "bust a cap in his a**," referring to the unnamed person who would testify against him in court.
"If it happens in Forsyth County, it will go unsolved," Beebe said. The man asked Beebe to repeat his response, which he did.
But yeah, the stories are true.
Here is an interesting story, as you can tell from the lead paragraph:
You may recall the nifty exclusive we brought you earlier this year about the widow who had her husband's ashes packed with No 6 shot into cartridges and fired off on a shoot at Brucklay Estate in Aberdeenshire. The particular excitement, apart from a very good day out for friends and, indeed, his widow, was that the deceased bagged a fox, which is never a bad thing.One begins to wonder if the stress of being a hunter in the UK, where the populace widely hates hunters, is starting to get to these poor lads. It could be that they're starting to crack.
Well, gents, we sympathize. It's not easy for anyone these days. Keep the faith.
This AFP headline states, "China to Demonstrate Air Superiority in Taiwan War Games." The story says:
"The emphasis on air supremacy is central to any PLA offensive operations in the Taiwan Strait, but the Taiwan Air Force has traditionally held the upper hand in this area," said one analyst.I know what you're thinking: "Yeah, those great Russian fighters. Why, if I were a Taiwanese pilot flying my F-16, I'd be quaking in my boots."
"But as the PLA Air Force has made rapid improvements in this area with significant acquisitions of Russian fighters and attendant weapons packages ... the air balance is now beginning to gradually swing in China's favor.
"This article clearly suggests that the Chinese will use the Dongshan exercise as a forum to show that it can now succeed in gaining air dominance against the Taiwanese, which is a major step in making its threats of the use of military force, including an invasion, more credible."
Well, the odds on that proposition changed just recently.
The success of the Indian air force against American fighter planes in a recent exercise suggests other countries may soon be able to threaten U.S. military dominance of the skies, a top Air Force general said Wednesday.This is one reason that Jiang Zemin confidently predicted this week, "Taiwan by 2020." I see no reason that he should have to wait so long.
"We may not be as far ahead of the rest of the world as we thought we were," said Gen. Hal M. Hornburg, the chief of Air Combat Command, which oversees U.S. fighter and bomber wings.
The U.S.-India joint exercise, "Cope India," took place in February near Gwalior in central, India. It pitted some F-15C Eagle fighters from the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, in mock combat against Indian MiG, Sukhoi and Mirage fighters.
The F-15Cs are the Air Force's primary air superiority aircraft. The Indian fighters, of Russian and French design, are the type of planes U.S. fighters would most likely face in any overseas conflict.
Hornburg, speaking to reporters, called the results of the exercise "a wake-up call" in some respects, but he declined to provide details, other than to suggest the Indian air force scored several unexpected successes against the American planes.
For the last 15 years, the U.S. military has enjoyed almost total command of the air during conflicts.... Still, new tactics, better Russian fighters like the Su-30, and a new generation of surface-to-air missiles mean that U.S. dominance could be ending, said Loren Thompson, who follows military issues for the Lexington Institute, a Washington think tank.
"The United States has grown accustomed to having global air superiority, yet we haven't put much very much money in the last generation into maintaining that advantage," he said, noting the F-15 first flew in the 1970s.
"So of course the rest of the world is finally starting to catch up," he said.
Bush obviously has some pretty strong ones, judging from the Senate race down Georgia way. Both "Rock the Boat" Johnny and Mac Collins have been attacking candidate Herman Cain for not being sufficiently pro-Bush.
Their attacks are, well, a little on the edge of honest. What's interesting is that Cain is more conservative than either of them. The particular attacks they've chosen are not designed to run to the right of Cain, which isn't really possible: they're trying to make him appear more to the left than he really is.
Hat tip: Southern Appeal, which is working to help Cain's chances in the election. I have to admit a certain longstanding disdain for "Rock the Boat" Johnny. I think Collins is not a bad option. First of all, you should probably disregard the suggestion by the Atlanta Journal & Constitution that he's "playing the race card" in this election. The AJC is the boy who cried wolf on questions of racism. I read the paper every weekend growing up, and many weekdays also, and they never ceased to amaze me with the places they found "racism." I notice that they've promoted Cynthia Tucker (for this purpose, "the Lady who Cried Wolf") to the editorial page editor since I left the Atlanta area, which suggests that the trend has deepened.
If we set aside the AJC's attempt to hang that albatross around his neck, Collins comes across as an unexciting but solid candidate. His views are uncontroversial, for Republicans in Georgia. He has a seat on the House Subcommittee on Intelligence, which will be a positive for his image in the race.
What he doesn't have is money, which Johnny boy has in spades. He's only just begun TV ads, which he can't afford because he's been dead last in the fundrace.
We'll see how it sorts itself out. I think that one of these three fellows is going to be Georgia's next Senator--I can't imagine that Georgia will return a Democrat this year. The AJC has endorsed Isakson, holding that he's better on "policy," which is a sure sign of a loser in the general election. I'm going to bet that Southern Appeal has the right of it, and Cain is going to be the man.
From The Epoch Times, a history of the People's Republic of China's use of assassins. It's sort of an interesting topic, amid rumors that the Chinese wargames off Dongshan Island contain a "guillotine squad" aimed at Taiwan's President Chen. Oh, and the recent assassinations. At least, they seem like assassinations--why else would the PRC deny but not condemn the killing?
An update from Iraq by "Warlord Six." It looks clear to me, so here it is in full. Ellipses are in the original. There's some good stuff in it, from NASCAR to battlefield stories.
Hello once again Warlord families!
As if we have not said it enough please know that we miss you and as each day passes we look forward even more to being reunited with you after having accomplished our mission here! It has been more than a month since I contacted you last and, as has been Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for us, we have moved yet again. We left behind our former area of operations near Fallujah and returned to our original location here in Mahmudiyah and set up shop again relieving an outstanding Army unit that had been here in Iraq for 15 months. Nevertheless, we have been reassigned here as the First Marine Division spreads its combat power to assist the fledgling Iraqi Government in asserting its new sovereignty. As an overall summary I must say once again what an honor it remains to be privileged to lead your husbands in this campaign to bring democracy and hope to Iraq. They continue to set the standard for the Division and Regiment with their courage, flexibility and determination to get the job done regardless of the circumstances or challenges facing them. They have truly shown the people of Iraq that they have no better friend or nor worse enemy than a Warlord from Task Force 2/2.
As of the 19th of May, we had established a new base camp near Fallujah and began to assert our presence in the operational area we had been given. Our immediate task was to disrupt the enemy's ability to shoot indirect fire with mortars and rockets into the large base camp to which we were assigned as well as protect a major supply route and re-assert coalition presence in a previously unaddressed area. This was no small task and as a result of the efforts of the battalion, that kind of fire was virtually eliminated because of the creative and tenacious way that the Marines and Sailors of the battalion took the fight to the enemy. By varying their methods and tactics, the Warlords kept the enemy guessing and caused him to spend most of his time looking over his shoulder wondering when he was going to have a bad day. Let me tell you ... many of them did and they never knew what hit them and in many cases where it came from. That fact was largely due to the superb application of combat power that was orchestrated by the small unit leaders in the task force. Sometimes it was airpower, sometimes it was snipers, sometimes mortars, sometimes heavy machine guns. Quite frankly, the enemy learned very quickly that he was outmatched by the Team, Squad, Platoon and Company leadership in this Task Force.
This fight has not been without cost and we have now lost three of our own and had nearly one hundred Warlords wounded as these cowards attempt to hide behind their roadside bombs and hit and run tactics. They have come to find however, that the Warlords are like their predecessors. You cannot beat them with cowardice, in fact, you cannot defeat them at all. This is not bluster, this is the observation of a commander who has had the privilege of endorsing countless combat awards during the last forty days recognizing some inspiring acts of courage and compassion. For example: one Marine drove his HMMWV directly into the enemy's fire to draw fire from a pinned down team and then sprinted twice across 200 yards of fire swept terrain to re-supply his gunner with ammunition. Two others ignored their own safety to rescue and Iraqi family caught in a kill zone created by terrorist crossfire coming from a Mosque. A Corpsmen constantly exposed himself to enemy fire and continued to provide aid to wounded Marines as rounds impacted around his position and literally cut a tree down just over his head.
At the same time, when critical support functions needed to be accomplished, those Marines, often unsung heroes also pressed the attack with their unique skills. One story I very much enjoy telling is when a HMMWV that had been hit by a roadside bomb came limping in to the battalion area with casualties aboard, the doctors and Corpsmen immediately began triage of the patients. Simultaneously however, the Warlord Motor "T" section and its mechanics conducted triage for the vehicle.
What was inspiring is that each of these sections went at their job with exactly the same sense of urgency and pride. The result was three Marines whose injuries were quickly stabilized in a manner that would make any hospital trauma team jealous and a vehicle that was combat "deadlined" back in the fight in less than 30 minutes by a team of mechanics that would have made Jeff Gordon's NASCAR pit crew envious. That is teamwork and professionalism! I could literally write volumes about the performance of your Marines and Sailors in every unit and in every circumstance. I see it every day and I am never long without observing yet another action that reminds me why I have remained a Marine for nearly twenty years ... because of them.
I would like to make a special effort to recognize the Engineer Platoon and the Human Exploitation Team that were attached to 2/2 prior to coming to Iraq. Each has established an unprecedented record of success here in supporting our operations in Iraq. The Engineer platoon was the driving force behind and the primary architects of a weapons cache search plan that netted more caches in a 40 day period than had been found by the entire Division since arriving in country. Literally tons of rockets, mortars explosives, and other lethal materials were found thus eliminating the terrorist's ability to mix more lethal concoctions to attack the people of Iraq and the forces here to help them. The HET team also proved itself on numerous occasions by providing the kind of focused intelligence support required to ensure the battalion's success on countless raids that netted no less than eight high value terrorist targets and numerous other anti-coalition fighters. Once again, I am indebted to them beyond my ability to repay and I only ask that they pass on their experiences so future generations of Marines can benefit from their actions here in this war-torn land.
The combat performance of your Warlords has been equaled only by their compassion for the people of Iraq. During operations at our previous location our initial contact with the local tribal Sheiks were met with coolness and an admonition that they would never work with us and would continue to fight us. Your Warlords met this challenge with their normal tenacity, compassion, and willingness to show the people the content of their character and within a month, they were being invited to dinner, being offerd tea even while on patrol, and were referred to as a new branch to the Zobai tribe. Amazing? Absolutely!
Also during this time period, the Marines of 2/2 led one of the first patrols back into Fallujah to open dialogue with the local leaders after a standoff of nearly two months showing yet agasin their flexibility and readiness to accomplish any mission. Soon after that mission we received word that we would be moving again and as a result, re-embarked the entire battalion yet again making our way back to Al Mahmudiyah and its 120 degree heat. We had just gotten our new camp livable and were starting to settle in near Fallujah when the word came. In true Warlord fashion, the Marines, Sailors and their leaders buckled down for the new task and turned over a "pristine and very livable camp" to our higher headquarters from what had been a gravel parking lot less than 40 days before. Once again, they do it all, and do it all with style!
Snail mail remains regular for the most part given our constant hobo status, and your cards, letters and packages continue to brighten our days. It is accurate to say that the most welcome truckloads are those that carry the big orange bags that say "US Mail" prominently on their sides! Pictures of wives, children and sweethearts adorn the billeting areas and the artwork of our talented youngsters seems to be quite at home inside a dusty tent or tacked to the roof of the inside of a HMMWV. When coupled with the continued magnificent performance of our Key Volunteers and all of the informal support groups that have sprouted everywhere, we want you to know that we have never felt more supported. You remain the rock of strength on which we depend and the light that we look forward to coming home to. In many ways I think that is one of the reasons we have succeeded so well in dealing with the people here ... we just try to give them the same respect and understanding that your example provides us! You are a combat multiplier for us here in more ways than you could possibly know.
Throughout another of the busiest months in the storied history of the Warlords, your Marines and Sailors continued to acquit themselves with honor, courage and compassion and I can only hope that you are as proud of them as I am. Whether in Time magazine, on the scoreboard of the New York Mets Shea Stadium or in the small villages of this new democracy, your Marines and Sailors have again made their mark in the hearts of those who have been privileged to come in contact with them. Please remember them and the families of our lost brothers in your prayers each night and pray for their strength, for their fierceness in battle and for their compassion. Those prayers have buoyed us until now and will continue to do so as each day unfolds. Please keep the faith that we are talking care of each other and that we are doing what Marines do ... we are winning!
In closing, I will say yet again how humbled I am by the constant reminders I see that show clearly the greatness of the men of this Task Force. They continue to exceed all of my expectations and provide an example of what is best in our great country to the people of Iraq. They are a rare breed of men and one that will likely be forever changed by their experiences here in Iraq. Those experiences will have run the full spectrum of emotion and depth, but will be a constant companion in the years ahead when they look back on their service to Corps and Country. Whenever those times are recalled, they, and I, will know that they made a difference, and that their sacrifices were made for one of the noblest goals that can be imagined ... they set a people free, and they gave them hope.
I will continue to do my best to lead your fine husbands, sons, brothers, fathers and cousins with the same tenacity and sense of purpose that has established their reputation among those whom they help and those whom they fight. As I said before, I am honored to know each of you to have been given the rare privilege of leading your husbands under difficult conditions. Please know that we miss you and love you all.
God Bless each of you, God Bless America, and Semper Fi from your Marines and Sailors in Iraq!