Sinn Fein Plays Dominos

 
President Eisenhower, in a press conference in 1954, talked about the “falling domino” principle as it applied to Indochina. In the context of that conference, the reporters were concerned about the on-going hydrogen bomb program. Why couldn’t we just stop now? Eisenhower spoke of tyranny, of national interest, and of the interconnection between nations.

So here is it is, fifty-six years later, and the domino theory seems, finally, a reality. Only this time the geography has widened to include more than just one region. Dominos are falling all over the place.

The domino called Northern Ireland was long-overdue for a tumble, but it looks as though it may have happened at long last. What the Belfast Telegraph calls a mafia economy — “Sicily without the sunshine” — has come onto the world’s radar again, and for the same reasons: outlaws reigning in a supposedly civilized land.

Sinn Fein and the IRA have a long history of fascism dating back to World War II and their sympathy with the Nazis. The Republic of Ireland (the South), newly born in the Easter Rising of the early ‘teens and twenties of the last century, remained “neutral” in the War, though many of her young men went off to fight in the British services. But Dublin itself was a haven for Nazis; sympathizers among the Irish population were numerous. To give the devil his due, their reactions — coming as they did after centuries of domination by England — had more to do with anti-British feeling than it did with the reality of Hitler.

Sinn Fein — meaning “we ourselves”* or “ourselves alone” — briefly had a proud history in the birth of the Irish nation. My aunt, born in 1916, was named Ellen Sinn Fein Sullivan — her American father having come to Ireland to found the film industry was quickly caught up in the fever of independence and found himself in gaol briefly for his outspoken American talk. But “Alone” has its dark side. A divided house cannot stand, and Ireland is all-too-famous for division and recrimination. They have hung separately for generations.

Now Sinn Fein and the IRA are infamous for their mafia-like control of businesses in Ireland. No one dare stand up to them. And as sure as shamrocks appear in the florists’ shops, every year on this date Gerry Adams waltzes over to America and collects the sentimental money from clueless Irish descendants raised on vague talk about the Troubles and the bloody English… “for the stranger came and tried to teach us their way/they scorned us just for being who we are.” All over the Northeast of America they’ll be bellying up to the bar and singing “Galway Bay” till they’re hoarse.

Meanwhile, back in Belfast, the murdering IRA will be soldiering on, robbing banks, intimidating the populace, murdering the dissidents.

There’s no way to tell in advance what will be the tipping point in any situation. When the IRA murdered McCartney, it was the whim of the tyrant. McCartney’s chum “dissed” a mobster in a bar and before it was over, McCartney lay eviscerated, bleeding to death on the sidewalk while the IRA closed down, cleaned up, threatened everyone, and shut the phones so help couldn’t be called until after McCartney was dead.

What they failed to take into consideration — nor would it have been of any concern to them anyway — was the five Mc Cartney sisters. They refused to “shut it up.” Like Mukhtar Mai in Pakistan, they named the tyrant and they called for justice. The IRA offered the only justice they knew: they’d kill the murderers if the family would stop.

Instead, the five McCartneys are off to America, off to the White House to see the President. Their unheard-of courage has caught the conscience of the crowd and now no one will talk to Gerry Adams…or rather, no one important. He’s still giving speeches to the union members in New York and Boston who will gather to listen. And U.S. special envoy to the peace process, Mitchell Reiss, will listen to him. But Ted Kennedy, his old friend these many decades, won’t be among them.

      The sisters have been invited to the White House and the Capitol Hill speaker’s luncheon. They will also meet with Sen. Kennedy, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Sen. Christopher Dodd.

Like all the other terrorists (the IRA has trained and worked with the PLO and FARC), the Sinn Fein/IRA domino is falling as surely as has that of Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Ukraine — and all the way back to the Big Domino: the Berlin Wall. Perhaps they will see it coming in time to move toward the rule of law. Not likely, given how difficult it is to live as a former terrorist.

Meanwhile, Bush soldiers on, bringing into his circle those who would spread the mantle of liberty, those who have known the cost of tyranny. The McCartneys made the list and Gerry Adams will be gnashing his teeth in the outer darkness.


For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad
For all their wars are merry
And all their songs are sad

— G.K. Chesterton



*Irish Gaelic sinn féin : sinn, we (from Middle Irish, from Old Irish) + féin, self (from Middle Irish, from Old Irish).

Under the Whip

 
Tigerhawk has an interesting link to a UAE newspaper report. It seems that a maid has been discovered to be pregnant and has been sentenced by a Sharia court to 150 lashes, after which she will be deported.

It was her national sponsor who reported her pregnancy to the police, accusing her both of adultery and of being pregnant. Leaving the adultery charge aside, what is fascinating in the news report is what is missing. Here are the facts we are permitted to see:

      She refused to reveal the name of the child’s father, despite being interrogated by the police and the public prosecutor. The public prosecution department referred her to the emirate’s Sharia Court. She refused to identify her lover again. The court sentenced her to 150 lashes, to be administered in two stages. She will then be deported.

Here are the missing pieces:

  • We aren’t told the miscreant’s nationality. In all probability she is from the Philippines. Poor women are often recruited for domestic work in the Middle East, hoping to send money home to their families. Instead, they end up as virtual slaves, in bondage to their employers.
  • We can guess that her “national sponsor” is this self-same employer. What Muslim would sponsor a kafir domestic into the country except as his own employee?
  • Given her virtual slavery, three guesses as to who had physical access to this “maid”? And therefore, who is the father? And might there be an angry spouse in the background? Or was she handed around to guests or family members?
  • Another three guesses as to why she refuses to name the father. One hundred and fifty lashes is better than dying “accidentally” for speaking out. Though she will never fully recover from her punishment. Think about it. Would you?
  • Finally, she is not Muslim. A Sharia court would’ve had a Muslim woman stoned to death. After she delivered, of course.

If you’re the praying sort, offer a few petitions for this poor woman today. She is someone’s daughter, someone’s mother and she has suffered for a long, long time. Just 150 more lashes and she gets to go home.

While you’re there, light a candle in gratitude that this is not your story, is not your mother or your daughter.

Well Past Her Fifteen Minute Allotment

 
Mukhtar Mai’s story continues to reverberate through the news cycle. It even appears to be gaining momentum, at least in the Western press. The latest, in Fox News, is by columnist Wendy McElroy. Ms. McElroy, no stranger to abuse herself, has the rudiments of a blog on domestic violence. There are untold thousands of us out here, not merely survivors, but transcendors — if there be such a word — of privately meted-out sadism. Mai’s refusal to follow the usual decline down the steep slope of humiliation into the arms of suicide is inspiring to some, but it is a cautionary tale to those of us who have considered annihilation as a solution to the shame which follows degradation.

Mai’s story is vital for those who search for the possible redemption of their own suffering To know that love can bloom and flourish in the face of evil grants to the soul the necessary tensile strength for battling the memories of the past and facing the future.

In this case, each recounting of the tale helps to keep Mukhtar Mai alive. The more light that shines upon her, the more fearful her enemies become of simply slaughtering her. She may never be able to live without body guards, but she has learned to live in the face of fear. Mai knows that there are worse things than dying.

A prediction: the tipping point has been reached in this story. The telling of it has gone on long enough — well past the fifteen allotted minutes — that it will emerge in a book-length version in the not-too-distant future. Some author, perhaps Ms. McElroy herself, will do the honors.

The Spine Award

 
Fox must be doing something right: feathers are being ruffled again. This time it is protestations from American Muslims that the drama “24” portrays Muslims in a bad light. In one episode

      Muslim terrorists gain control of a nuclear plant, causing it to melt down…. One of the leaders of the plot shot his own wife and tried to shoot his son, fearing they would thwart his plans (And this was after kidnapping the U.S. defense secretary and trying to behead him live on the Internet).

So what is the problem here? One Muslim viewer finds the show “disgusting.” He doesn’t say that it’s inaccurate, simply that it’s the Muslims ‘turn,’ just as it had been the Italians and the Russians before them. He’s got the reality pegged accurately; it’s his reaction that could use some reality-testing.

Italian mobsters have carved a large swathe through American jurisprudence. Their contempt for the law, which they brought to the US, is widely acknowledged; only the over-sensitive could complain that this is the sole image of Italian Americans, though it is an image that has fueled a lot of good film. The funds that have had to be diverted to combat teh Mob could well have been spent elsewhere. And the Russians were the bad guys; their scofflaw attitude deserves our attention. Some of them who have moved here are indeed as lawless as they were at home. That goes, too, for the illegal Mexicans who cross the borders in droves and end up wards of the penal system.

A large so-what is due to American Muslim high dudgeon about the dramatic portrayal of Islamofascists on television dramas. Their lack of co-ordinated, vehement, enthusiastic and muscular support for the mores of their adopted country — both before and after 9/11 — leaves them little room to complain about a tame portrayal when the reality of terrorism is so much worse than what takes place within a television drama.

Let’s start showing the reality: the butchered young woman in London, killed by relatives because she was marrying a divorced man; the drive-by shooting of the Muslim mother in Germany who had the audacity to leave her husband; the vicious slaying of Theo van Gogh Or how about the melodrama of Mukhtar Mai, survivor of both an officially-mandated gang rape and the scorn of her village. How about the scene where she overcomes her own illiteracy and begins to open schools for girls? Even schools for boys, since she thinks they have to start somewhere.

Then CAIR can come to us and complain. And then they can explain to us the huge influx of Saudi money to American mosques, money used to promulgate the Wahhabi view of life, a view in total opposition to American history, law, and custom. They can explain away the dhimmi laws of their own history and theology.

Either the Muslims stand with us or they stand against us. They can’t have it both ways.

And good for Fox for refusing to cave. Read the whole article: they met with CAIR, they listened, they put in the p.c. clauses, and they have continued with the show. Finally, a network that doesn’t cave.

Perhaps there should be some sort of annual network award for this kind of response. Call it the “SPINE” award. Because obviously they have one.

The Beat Goes On: How Can I Keep From Singing?

 
According to the AP,

Pakistan’s highest Islamic court has reinstated the convictions of five men sentenced to death for raping a woman on orders from a village council, following a firestorm of criticism after a lower tribunal ordered the men freed.

For the moment, it seems as though Mukhtar Mai, the victim of a village council-sanctioned gang rape, will be safe from her predators. What is interesting to note is that the higher court which reinstated the convictions of her rapists is not part of the regular court system; it is the Shariat Court, and claimed its superior judicial standing in matters of Sharia law. Islamic law considers rape and domestic cases within the purview of Sharia, rather than the jurisdiction of government law. Thus, the Shariat Court has stepped in to take over the case. They have not said what their ruling will be, only that the Lahore Court had no standing in the case.

Remember Sharia Law as it applies to allegations of rape? A woman has half the legal standing in one of these courts as does a man. If she alleges rape, there must be four men as witnesses who will testify on her behalf if her story is to be accepted as truth. Part of the horror of Ms Mai’s ordeal was the 150 men who watched in silence as she begged for help, who watched as she was dragged away to be gang-raped, some of whom were participants in the “jubilation” during the actual ordeal, who were part of the crowd of 300 who witnessed her being forced to walk naked back into town. From where will come the four Muslim men required for Sharia law, to convict these rapists and acquit Ms. Mai of lewd conduct for her sexual congress with her aggressors? It remains to be seen how this ‘higher’ court will mete out justice and on whom Sharia justice will fall.

To what does Mai owe her current safety? For one thing, the public outcry. For another, the public beneficence of Western governments and NGOs. There is nothing quite like the fresh air of media coverage, public bestowal of funding, and public outrage to tip the scales in favor of justice and mercy.

To add your voice to the growing storm of concern, contact Ms Mai here: mukhtarm@mukhtarmai.com (from http://www.montrealmuslims.ca)

The larger the choir, the more thunderous the song. And the less likely it is that Mai will disappear at the hands of her rapists.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
while to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
how can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble in their fear
and hear their death knell ringing,
when friends rejoice both far and near
how can I keep from singing?

The Thing With Feathers

The Saga of Mukhtar Mai, Continued

 Mukhtar Mai
This week, the Canadian High Commissioner in Pakistan, Ms Margaret Huber, has given Rs2.1 million to Mukhtar Mai for the continuation of her educational work in Punjab.

This follows the public outcry, going on for three years now, against the brutal gang rape of this village woman who was set up to take the retribution required for her young brother’s alleged dishonorable behavior. The whole ugly story was a set piece, a frame-up to distract attention from the fact that her brother was the first victim in this story: he was kidnapped and taken to a field to be sodomized by a group of men from a powerful family in his village

On June 22, 2002, three Mastoi men kidnapped Abdul Shakur, a tall boy 11 or 12 years of age. They took him to a sugar cane field. Then they took turns sodomizing him. “They asked me if I would tell my family,” Abdul recalled. “When I said yes, they beat me up. Then they locked me up in a room.”

Subsequently, Abdul was joined in the room by a young woman, Salma Naseen, from the Mastoi family. Then the police were summoned and the boy was accused by his sodomizers of having an affair with Salma. He was arrested and jailed.

It is at this point that Mukhtar Mai becomes the next victim. When the powerful Mastoi clan convened the village council to address their grievance, the outcome was never in doubt. The sentence in the case could have been the forced marriage of Abdul and Salma, but the Mastoi were hardly likely to agree to the union of one of their clan with a member of a poorer and less prominent family. Instead, Mukhtar was dragged from the village to the field where the tribal council had convened. In retribution for her brother’s ‘crime’ she was ordered to be raped by four men.

For an hour and a half, as other Mastoi people “danced in jubilation,” Abdul Khaliq and three other men raped her. Then Mukhtaran Mai was forced, before perhaps 300 people, to walk home naked.

Her father covered her with a shawl and took her in.

Usually, a woman thus humiliated simply commits suicide. There is no life left for her in her village after such an experience. Mai considered doing just that, and then…and then, in some mysterious transformation that can occur in the midst of devastation, Mai decided instead to fight back. She brought charges against the men. She stood firm against the death threats. The ostracism? What had she to lose after her long, naked walk home?

The higher court in Lahore overturned the convictions of the men who raped her, a legal decision which threatens her safety. But three years into this battle, Mai is too strong to kill. And the Islamofascists know it. Money has poured in from all over the world. She has used it to start schools, have them wired for electricity, buy textbooks and supplies, and begin to look for ways to make her projects self-sustaining.

Stories of courageous transcendence are universally compelling. Ms. Mai embodies the magic of transformation: a small woman in a remote village in Punjab is gang-raped. Just like so many before her, she is used and disposed of. Phoenix-like, she rises from the ashes of her humiliation and sets out to tell the world. Her story is proof that there is more to the news than simply bad news; there is also a desperate and overwhelming need for stories of personal redemption.

This case will go on to the Supreme Court. Given the outcry in all of Pakistan, the rapists may yet be sentenced. This excerpt from The Daily Times (Pakistan) illuminates the changing of the guard:

This is not a case in which a woman has been raped. This is a case in which a nation has been raped. That is how we should feel about it. This is not a case in which technicalities and police incompetence can be allowed to override national security. The issue of this country’s image is one of national security as General Musharraf has said time and again. It’s a question of how we treat one half of Pakistan. For any court to ignore this aspect is to tackle the issue very narrowly. That needs to change.

Mukhtari Mai has a website where stories can be read and donations made to her expanding projects for education and medical care in rural Pakistan:

              “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all

                          –Emily Dickinson

Speaking Taqiyya

 
The Pakistani government is firmly in the ideologue-Islamist camp. So is the rest of the Middle East. Thus, Daniel Pipes sounds a warning to those of us — especially us, the optimistic and sometimes fatally hopeful Americans — who fail to see how powerful the Islamofascists will remain, no matter which tyrant dies or is toppled.

one main danger threatens to undo the good news: that a too-quick removal of tyranny unleashes Islamist ideologues and opens their way to power. Sadly, Islamists uniquely have what it takes to win elections: the talent to develop a compelling ideology, the energy to found parties, the devotion to win supporters, the money to spend on electoral campaigns, the honesty to appeal to voters, and the will to intimidate rivals.

This drive to power is nothing new. In 1979, Islamists exploited the shah’s fall to take power in Iran. In 1992, they were on their way to win elections in Algeria. In 2002, they democratically took over in Turkey and Bangladesh. Removing Saddam Hussein, Husni Mubarak, Bashar Assad, and the Saudi princes is easier than convincing Middle Eastern Muslim peoples not to replace them with virulent Islamist ideologues.

This is more than simply “converting” Muslims in the Middle East to democratic reform. What is the point of elections when they do not rest on the fundament of rule of law? Islam rests on something far less flexible and infinitely less merciful: taqiyya.

Whether the politically correct would disown it or not, Western political philosophy is Judeo-Christian in nature. Thus, lying is considered unethical and in some cases unlawful. Western jurisprudence takes seriously the need for truth in the rule of law.

Such restrictions do not hold in Islamic jurisprudence and theology. In fact, taqiyya against unbelievers is a necessary virtue in the waging of jihad. All is fair in war. And all is war until the arrival of the Hour, that time when the world is Allah’s.

The celebration of taqiyya can be traced all the way back to Mohammed and his abrogation of the treaty he made with Mecca. It can be traced forward through the centuries of Muslim conquests, all the way to the Gates of Vienna.

Taqiyya may seem clever to those who use it against the seemingly witless West. Such tenets, however, are in the end self-destructive. They shred the society of believers into ever-smaller tatters. They halt the natural progress toward transparency and flexibility in human interchange. Such a culture is riven with distrust; such a house, divided against itself, cannot stand. However, it can bring the rest of the neighborhood down with it.

For Muslims, that means it will not be a short run up to liberty’s transformative power. First they have to practice truthfulness with all of us.

For the rest of us, it would be well to heed Mr. Pipes’ warning. He praises President Bush’s “steadfast vision of a free Middle East” but warns

his administration should proceed slowly and very carefully about transferring power from autocrats to democrats. The Middle East’s totalitarian temptation, with its deep questions of history and identity, needs first to be confronted and managed. To skip these steps could leave the region even worse off than during the era of unelected tyrants.

In the midst of a much longer passage, Jesus tells this cautionary tale:

When a foul spirit has left a man, it roams about in the Desert, seeking a resting-place; but, unable to find any, it says, `I will return to the house I have left;” 25 and when it comes, it finds the house swept clean and in good order. 26 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more malignant than itself, and they enter and dwell there; and in the end that man’s condition becomes worse than it was at first. 27 (Luke 11:24-26)

If you have ever wondered what that story meant, simply consider “the Middle East’s totalitarian temptation” and the possibility of elected tyrants in place of the despots we are busy destabilizing.

With such destruction is strewn the path of unintended consequences.

No Submission

 
Over at Dr. Sanity’s new page, she notes that they’re celebrating International Women’s Day in Iran. If ‘celebrating’ is the right word. They arrested the women (and the men who accompany them) for shouting “Na roosari, Na toosari!” (No Veil, No Submission).

According to the article cited in her post, the protesters were hauled away to waiting buses. Given the fact that Islam itself means “submission,” and this was the very condition they were refusing, this was obviously a subversive and threatening group.

It is demoralizing to watch and be able to do nothing here. But at least we can reject the all-too-common rationalization made by and for Muslim women that their position in Islam is anything more than servitude. As Dr. Sanity notes,

It is astonishing to me that there are women who justify Islam and even describe it as “liberating” because it “frees” women from having to worry about issues like fashion or looks. By that line of reasoning, you could say that Death “frees” people from having to worry about Life.

She also doubts that Islam and equality for women are compatible:

But if it is, then it {Islam} will have to stop beating up 50% of its population in order to act out male fantasies of superiority, potency and power in the other 50%. Because if an individual, nation or religion has to act those fantasies out, the truth is that they are covering up the pathetic and desperate soul of a murderer.

The good doctor is correct in her diagnosis. Islam has more than one kind of fascism. The ingrained tyranny of the family is truly malignant tyranny. The hand that rocks the cradle is also the hand that kills when daughters step out of line.

The First Step Causes the Most Trouble

 
On March 2nd, the Pakistani government, allied with Islamists in Parliament to defeat a bill which would have strengthened the legal sanctions against honor-killings.

…declaring it to be “un-Islamic,” the bill was defeated by a majority vote. Law minister Wasi Zafar told parliament that there was no need for further amendments in the country’s penal code after an amendment bill was passed last December.

This so-called “amendment” was simply a twist in the old law which allowed killers to seek or to buy pardon from the families of the victims of honor killings. Once pardon is bought or obtained, there is no criminal matter to be resolved. Life goes on, albeit not for the woman who has paid the honor-price with her life, with gang-rape, or with disfigurement. Any particular woman’s fate is up to the whim of those meting out her punishment. The only limit seems to be the depth of their rage and the creative breadth of their sadism.

Several days after the legislative defeat, thousands of women rallied in eastern Pakistan on behalf of Mukhtar Mai, a provincial school teacher who sought justice for her ordeal at the hands of the village council — the panchayat — which directed that she be gang-raped in retribution for a supposed crime by her twelve-year old brother.

The panchayat in Meerwala, southern Punjab, had found Ms Mai’s younger brother, Shakoor, guilty of raping a girl from the village’s powerful Mastoi clan.

It was later revealed in a conventional court that the 12-year-old had in fact been kidnapped and sexually assaulted by the same men who later made up his jury.

… Ms Mai was then taken away to be raped in revenge for her brother’s supposed crime. None of the 150 men present responded to her pleas for mercy, she said.

Mai then did a courageous and unprecedented thing: she sought legal prosecution of her rapists. Six men were found guilty of the crime, which occurred in 2002. This week, co-incidentally with the defeat in Parliament of sanctions for these kinds of crimes, convictions of five of the rapists were overturned on appeal. The judges found the police at fault for not having followed proper procedures.

Meanwhile, Mai has been re-building her life. With the backing of a minority of her community, she sought legal help. And then, with the compensation she received for her ordeal, she has built two schools in her village: the Mukhtar Mai School for Girls is the first. The school for boys is named for her father, Farid Gujjar.

Pupils sit on wheat sacks because there are no chairs or desks. The school has no electricity, so they learn in the shade of the classrooms in summer and take classes in the bright winter sun of the courtyard when it gets colder.

However, things have not been easy.

For each of the 270 pupils in school, two more of the village’s children are kept away by their parents.

Mukhtar believes men are scared of being undermined by a better-educated new generation, including stronger young women.

“They think it will lose them power,” she says.

“Even if I don’t succeed in my struggle,” she says, “I’ll keep trying until my death.”

She is starting with the girls of her own village.

“School is the first step to change the world,” says Mukhtar. “It’s always the first step that causes the most trouble, but it’s the start of progress.”

May Allah bless her undertaking to wipe out ignorance in her small corner of the world. It is an ignorance which has cost her dearly.

An Escalation of Force

 
Two articles published this morning provide additional information about the deadly incident involving Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena last Friday on the Baghdad airport road. According to Rowan Scarborough in the Washington Times,

Italian security forces failed to make arrangements for safe passage out of Iraq for a freed Italian reporter, whose car was fired on by U.S. troops, killing intelligence agent Nicola Calipari who brokered the reporter’s release, according to an internal Pentagon memo.

The memo says checkpoint soldiers are trained to deal with erratic speeding vehicles whose drivers ignored warnings — a profile that matches the Army’s version of events in Friday night’s shooting.

[…]

According to the division, the patrol attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots in front of the car.

The details of the warnings given to the Italian vehicle before the final shots had not been released previously, and are still classified — the US military does not want to reveal the exact procedures required under its ROE, for fear that the terrorists will learn to game the system or otherwise gain advantage from it.

Writing in Newsday, Craig Gordon provides a similar account:

The U.S. soldiers at the checkpoint say they did what they were supposed to do.

The hand and arm signals, the flashing white lights and the warning shots — all were steps designed to halt a vehicle like the one carrying a freed Italian journalist Friday night in Iraq.

But the vehicle kept coming and, within seconds, they took aim again, this time shooting into the engine block to stop it. Instead, they wounded journalist Giuliana Sgrena and killed her rescuer, an Italian intelligence agent, who died instantly from a bullet to the head.

[…]

“I hate to say it, but there’s not much time to say, you stop or you don’t. And if you don’t, I have to put you in the category of enemy, and I have to try to kill you,” a senior defense official said Monday.

The principle behind the rules is that an “escalation of force” should give an innocent driver ample warning to stop — first through signs posted outside the checkpoint, then physical and verbal warnings and finally warning shots.

Based on the military account, the response of the soldiers was regrettable, but understandable, and carried out exactly according to the procedures designed to protect our military and the Iraqis from deadly car bombs. No one wants innocent people to die, but neither does anyone want to see more headlines such as “Car Bomb Kills 40 On Airport Road”.

The question that comes to mind is: Why did the Pentagon and the Administration allow the story to be defined by the Italian communist press and the major media for four days? An Italian journalist with an anti-American agenda was ransomed; the Italian government eschewed an American security escort and failed to notify the US military of what it was planning; the Italians approached the checkpoint at speed in a non-descript unmarked pickup truck. Nothing about the story, when released in its entirety, reflects badly on the United States military. Yet the sensationalist European press was allowed to control the coverage over the weekend.

Why only an internal Pentagon memo? Yes, certainly, the classified procedures had to remain obscure, but surely the story could have been released prominently with such details redacted.

Over and over again the Bush administration fails to make the case for its actions against the Great Islamic Jihad in a compelling — or even competent — fashion. Any blogger in his pajamas could take the same information and do a better job.

The Dog Didn’t Bark

 
The initial reports in the MSM concerning the shooting incident involving hostage Giuliana Sgrena were unusually muted. Sgrena is an Italian reporter for the Communist Newspaper Il Manifesto, and was released by her kidnappers in Iraq last Friday, after the Italians reportedly paid a $10M ransom. The car carrying her to the Baghdad airport was stopped by gunfire after the driver failed to stop at a US military checkpoint. An Italian secret service agent was killed, and Sgrena was wounded.

It seemed that this would be an opportunity for the Legacy Media to exploit in the manner of Abu Ghraib. It had everything — innocent victims, trigger-happy US military personnel, the vendetta by the cowboy USA against the European left, etc., etc.

But the initial stories on the incident were restrained by MSM standards, even on NPR. One was forced to conclude that there must have been more to the incident than met the eye.

Today’s Washington Times opens a peephole into the story’s background:

Italian agents likely withheld information from U.S. counterparts about a cash-for-freedom deal with gunmen holding an Italian hostage for fear that Americans might block the trade, Italian news reports said yesterday.

The decision by operatives of Italy’s SISMI military intelligence service to keep the CIA in the dark about the deal for the release of reporter Giuliana Sgrena, might have “short-circuited” communications with U.S. forces controlling the road from Baghdad to the city’s airport, the newspaper La Stampa said.

So the seamy details of the operation were kept from the United States, contributing to the final tragic events. At first Sgrena maintained that the car had been deliberately targeted by the soldiers at the checkpoint, but later backed off that assertion:

Miss Sgrena, whose newspaper ardently opposes Italy’s deployment of 3,000 troops in Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition, offered no direct evidence to support the charge and toned down the suggestion in a later interview with Reuters.

“If this happened because of a lack of information or deliberately, I don’t know, but even if it was due to a lack of information, it is unacceptable,” she said from her hospital room.

Thus we have tragedy as farce: pay ransom to the terrorists, hide the facts from the military, speed through the checkpoint, and blame America for the final result.

Is it any wonder that the Left is discredited in the eyes of sane and rational people?

Endgame for Bashar?

 
From Syria comes Amarji – A Heretic’s Blog. In yesterday’s post, Syrian author Ammar Abdulhamid has this to say:

        Analysis: The scene has been set for an internal showdown. the President seems poised to implement Scenario One of the three scenarios previously highlighted (purge, assassination, coup), that is the purge meant to consolidate his grip on power.

Implications: This is the year of decision for Syria, barring some miraculous recovery by the opposition and devil society dissidents, our fate will be determined by a potentially bloody showdown between the various power centers in the regime. Reform is not the issue here, but promises of reform will be on everybody’s lips. But, barring for the rise of some unforeseen actor on the scene, one of the existing sides is capable of actually delivering on reforms. Still, as a regional player, Syria has been, and for the foreseeable future, completely marginalized. This is indeed the end of an era. It cold also mark the beginning of the end of an unlikely and quite mediocre dynasty.

In a previous post he explored the possibilities for the Assad regime:

        Indeed, the only possible scenarios in Syria today are:

* A purge by the Presidential Family to help them stay in power and avoid any potential sedition related to the impending withdrawal from Lebanon or impending international sanctions as a result of not-withdrawing (hence the recent promotion of the brother-in-law making him in charge of all military intelligence).
** Assassinating the President as the most logical fall-guy, in the hope of stirring the mix a little bit, and create a new sense of dynamics, which, whether violence or not, could eventually pave the way for a faster “recovery” from all set-backs.
*** The emergence of a fifth column which will most assuredly seek US support to overthrow the current leaders, seeing that the gun-power is on their side. Believe it or not, the Fifth Column here will most likely be made up of certain Old Guard figures, Sunnis and ‘Alawis alike, who are rumored to be extremely upset with the President’s handling of the country’s foreign affairs. Indeed, we have to note here that we can no longer live under the old assumption that Old Guard are to blame for the country’s stalemate. Indeed, it now seems that the New Guard, the President included, are more to blame.

Can you see then, my friend, why Khawla and I have decided to leave? This country is about to implode, and we cannot afford to be caught up in this. We will be among the first people to be targeted in the upcoming mayhem: we are secular, liberal, Americanized and have all these “dubious” connections with all these “dubious” figures and organizations. What used to be helpful for us before, will soon turn against us. The magic has turned against the magician, as some had put it.

It is totally understandable that Abdulhamid wants to take his family out of the country; more than personal courage is at stake for him. But we must regret the departure of a Syrian blogger, blogging in English so that we in the West can have a window into the events unfolding there.

Removing the Leech

 
Today’s story from the Associated Press, Anti-Syrian tide drives workers out of Lebanon, describes how Syrians have become persona non grata in Lebanon:

Despite official Syrian and Lebanese denials, anti-Syrian sentiment has reached a fever pitch in Lebanon. Anti-Syrian protests brought down the country’s pro-Damascus government and calls are intensifying for the withdrawal of Syria’s 14,000 troops based in the country.

[…]

Many Syrian workers do not have work permits, making it impossible to know their exact numbers. But estimates range from about 500,000 in low seasons to more than a million during harvest time and the summer, when tourists stream into Lebanon.

It is also not known how much money Syrian laborers transfer home, financial analysts say, because most earnings are in cash.

“It is for sure in hundreds of millions of dollars,” said an economist, Louis Hobeika.

In addition to these cash transfers, Syria’s economic nervous system is deeply intertwined with Lebanon’s. According to Die Welt (translation by Joshua Livestro),

When the Syrians leave Lebanon, that “will also spell the end of the Syrian regime,” says Alan Merhi (a 23 year old graphic design student camping out on the square, JL). All the others agree with him – it’s Lebanese money that pays for the Baath-regime in Damascus. “They control the casinos, the harbours, they take 50 percent of our taxes, they took the $40 billion in reconstruction loans that the country received after the end of the civil war,” says Merhi.

It is hard to foresee the endgame of the struggle that has just begun in Lebanon. Bashar al-Assad’s honor and prestige are already at stake in the outcome. How can Syria possibly back down, when the economic costs are so high?

If the United States presses for a complete withdrawal of all Syrian military troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon, the stress on the regime in Damascus could well become unbearable. The glass becomes cloudy: Syria could face popular unrest and demonstrations, followed by a crackdown according to “Hama rules”; Assad could be overthrown in a military coup; Syria could generate more spectacular terrorist attacks outside its borders so as to divert attention from the regime.

If the Syrian leech is removed from Lebanon’s body politic, the coming days will hold far more than their share of history. We live in interesting times.