Friday, November 30, 2001


MEMRI quotes interesting letters to Al Ahram Weekly, Egypt, from americans who refuse to take the sins of the world upon them, (and some who are very eager to).

William K. Black, University of Texas:

If Americans knew more about the response of the Arab and Islamic world to the acts of terror against the U.S., they would be vastly more upset... If they read your newspaper, they would be furious... Americans have no idea that the leading theory among Egyptians is that Jews did it and that tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of Muslims believe this grotesque lie. Americans have no idea that one of your frequent columnists intimates that U.S. security services crashed the planes into the buildings... Your columnists rant about purported anti-Arab columnists in the U.S., but their vituperation and lack of concern for the facts vastly exceeds U.S. columnists...

Second, introspection is always a good thing. I suggest that it is a good thing for non-Americans as well. I also suggest that it is a logical fallacy to assume that because someone is hated they should change their behavior The absence of introspection in too wide a segment of the Egyptian intelligentsia is demonstrated every week by your columnists, who blame the problems of the Arab and Islamic world on the West...

Black has written a similar letter to the Middle East Times.

Meg Ewers braves a psychological analysis of the entire arab world:

In essence, what real personal liberty and a good education gives a person first is the realisation that the awful attributes one recognises in "other" people are usually attributes that one is afraid of seeing in oneself (one's "shadow" self, if you will). This psychological principle was obvious in World War II, where the Nazis scapegoated the Jews as the embodiment of evils which Germans did not want to see but were actually running rampant in their own psyches.

...

Bin Laden's failure of insight is the Arab failure. Arabs are afraid to recognise that they have been blessed with enormous wealth and have generally not used their wealth creatively to engender greater freedom and wealth for their own country or their neighbours'; nor have they relieved other people's suffering. Like Bin Laden, they chastise America for not aiding the poor, but do not want to do the hard work of creating the institutions that engender free thought and are dedicated to civilisation. Instead of that hard work, Arabs "project" their own guilty shadow "sleeping giant" attributes onto other "powers," especially "America." It is time Arabs see their projection onto America as their own repressed but potential inner intellectual and creative powers -- powers which have been wasted, but can be revived if Arabs will do the hard work of self- examination before it is too late for us all.

I'm uneasy about the jargon, but if you translate this back into english, it almost says something I've noticed about anti-western opinion in arab media: Their accusations often fit their own countries better than ours. I don't mean to say that criticism of the west should be ignored when it comes from less free countries. Introspection really is a good thing, not just when religious nuts crash into our skyscrapers. We have many faults, but they are not the same faults as for instance Egypt struggle with. When the police in a free country beats up a citizen, that is related to, but not the same as a police beating in a dictatorship. The first fault is solved by using the law, the second by creating it.

Back to al-Ahram! Derry Ledoux, same issue as Black:

If you find the time you should read Mark Mazower's The Dark Continent. No, it's not about Africa. It deals with Europe in the 20th century. The author is inclined towards pessimism but he's covering a time and place when the old order collapses and Europe becomes "Frankenstein's Laboratory" for mankind. Indeed, you mentioned your own "brown shirts" that once were found in Egypt. When you stop and think about it, only a fool wants to repeat the European experience of the past 500 years that with the assistance of technology and ideology led to the catastrophe of a Great War, 1914-1991. What is Western civilisation? I don't know. It's still collecting the pieces to the puzzle. Ah for the reassurance of Islam! Take care of yourself.

Ken and Jennifer Levens:

We got on the Internet and went to Dogpile.com, a search engine, and punched in "alternative news" to see what was going on besides what the five major television networks are allowing us to see. We found the following: "Wanted: Enemy to Justify $344 Billion War Budget." [..] Pentagon spending [..] Cold War [..] oil companies [..] www.alternet.org [..] nearly half our discretionary federal taxes already go to the military. [..] www.workingforchange.com [..] www.salon.com [..] Arianna Huffington [..] corporate- controlled television [..] obsessing about Gary Condit

.. and so on, (insignificant drivel snipped by me). So sad. That is what they think the Internet has to offer? I've got your alternative news right here, and in the menu to the left just below "worth reading", and in 50 other sites I'd also be reading regularly if I didn't have a job and at least one other hobby. Here's a dark secret: I haven't watched CNN or much other TV news since September 11th. If what I say is stupid, it's not because I've been brainwashed by TV, it's because I am stupid. The time of blaming ignorance on corporate media is gone, (if there ever were such a time.)

F. G. Sanford from Los Angeles:

I hope that Edward Said is correct in saying that the Al-Aqsa Intifada has universalised Arab and Muslim powerlessness. If this is the case, there is one powerful way to make America listen that does not need the involvement of corrupt organisations or governments: do not buy American (or English) goods or services. America's large corporate interests are the most powerful lobby in Washington, even more than the formidable AIPAC. If the average citizen wants to pursue an effective non-violent means to force the US listen, this is it. I can't help but think what would happen if all Muslims in the world stopped consuming Cokes and Pepsis for a year! Last night, I saw an image of Afghan "leaders" meeting in Pakistan to discuss their country's political future. Guess what they all had in their hands? A Pepsi!

And finally, concerned Indonesian student Hannan Hadi warns:

I'm quite interested as a reader to pay attention to this readers' corner. But I wonder about the letters to the editor. Why do you attach most letters from American readers? It's on one side good that we can know Americans' commentary upon the tragedy of 11 September. But on the other side it could ruin our thinking as a Muslim community. It will be better if you achieve equal balance from both communities.

Thursday, November 29, 2001


Supreme court justice Ketil Lund in Aftenposten: Norwegian law would propably prohibit extradition of suspected terrorists to the US, (translated excerpts:)

Central to the rule of law is that all individuals are protected, aliens as well as citizens. In our privileged part of the world, basic civil liberties are under normal circumstances rarely under threat from state government. These therefore primarily serve the purpose of defending individuals under extraordinary circumstances. Because the rule of law depends on the use of state power being watched by neutral courts, the courts must be alert in such situations.

...

A horrible terrorist attack has struck the US. But the rule of law is among the central pillars of american democracy, and it is these principles that separates the western democracies from the ideology that nurtures international terrorism. By putting these principles aside, the US gives terrorism an ideological victory.

Spain has denied in advance an expected request to extradite 8 al-Qaeda members suspected of taking part in the WTC attack. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that:

No one may be removed, expelled or extradited to a State where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Tuesday, November 27, 2001


Hugo Young, the Guardian: Americans want a war on Iraq, and we can't stop them.


Khalid Amayreh, Palestine Times: Why I hate America, (via MEMRI.)

America is the tyrant, a global dictatorship that robs hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims of their right to freely elect their governments and rulers because corporate America dreads the outcome of democracy in the Muslim world. America treats me and my people as children of a lesser God. In fact, in the final analysis, America offers me one of two choices: Either I submissively accept perpetual enslavement and oppressionor become an Osama bin Laden. Honestly, there is not a third choice; if there is one, let us see it.

And:

America is the usurper of my peoples right to human rights, democracy, civil liberties, development and a dignified life.

I think palestinians have a natural right to a country of their own, - at least more than the jews had in 1948. Israel holds them down in many areas, some justified, others not. The one area where they can't blame anyone else, though, is their lack of democracy, freedom of speech and civil liberties. The Palestinian Authority had the chance to implement this, and they chose not to. There is an elected council, but Arafat refuses to sign any law he doesn't like. There's torture, corruption and censorship. Khalid Amayreh is aware of this - in fact he's been repeatedly harassed by the PA for publicly disagreeing with Arafat. And yet, America is apparently the greater villain.

Why look for foreign enemies when the real danger is at home? Throw out Arafat. Throw out Hamas. Build a democracy. There are other paths to palestinian independence, but this is the only one that solves more problems than it creates.


Sunday, November 25, 2001


The Times: Somalia, Sudan and Yemen are next. "We have the wind at our backs and we don't want to lose it."

After September 11, Yemen has started to cooperate with the US. A security pact is to be signed. Says their interior minister Rashid M. al-Alimi:

Sept. 11 was a shock, and since then there has been a new cooperation, a genuine one, to combat terrorism.

Yemen has a weak central government, unable to enforce its authority over rural tribal leaders, and kidnapped tourists are common tools for negotiating with the government. Several bin Laden-supported groups are operating in the country.


Saturday, November 24, 2001


Modern Humorist: Two Thumbs Off! How the Islamic revolution in Iran can help fix Hollywood.

Great art can only be produced in a disciplined atmosphere. Why has Hollywoods output been getting so awful? Lack of discipline! Imagine how quickly American cinema would regain its past greatness once we were to impose a repressive climate of fear on our filmmakers.


Most women in Kabul are still wearing the burqa, but some remember a time before 1979.

On Tuesday, around 200 Afghan women in Kabul threw off their burqa veils in a symbolic protest to demand respect for women's rights after the collapse of the Taliban regime. The women included former politicians, academics, activists and teachers who had been confined indoors or forced to wear the hated garment for the past five years. [...] The alliance also issued an edict declaring that women were free to resume their education or return to work.

Alice Thompson dismisses the whole idea of liberating women who live in poverty. Afghani women don't want equal rights, they want food.

In the West, we have built up a picture of Afghan women desperate to cast off their shrouds, pull on their jeans and have a party. We have become obsessed by liberating them from the Taliban and writing about the first beauty parlour in Kabul. But what women really, really want in Afghanistan is food and medicine. Next, they want peace, not more warring factions, ambitious warlords and ethnic disputes. Then, for the countless widows, the chance to work in the fields or markets to support their families. A long way after that comes education and, way in the distance, make-up and clothes.

Perhaps - but they also want that freedom, or that's one of the things they must learn to want before they can pull themselves up from poverty.


Friday, November 23, 2001


In a recent poll in Jordan, 88% of the surveyed believes Israeli pressure put Hamas and Hizbollah on the american list of terrorist groups. (Note: The sample is not statistically representative - and the surveyors are owned by revisionists.)


Mohammad Hakki in Al Ahram Weekly, Egypt, quoting ACLU and the Nation: Is America turning into a banana republic?

US Attorney General John Ashcroft is coming down with a series of unprecedented acts that are eating away at several laws that are supposed to enshrine American citizens civil liberties. The sad thing is that many Americans are suddenly willing to embrace racial profiling; detention without charges; searches without warrants; and even torture and covert assassinations.

Hani Shukrallah apparently sees the "thirld worldish election" and the fake war on terrorism as evidence that it has already become one.

Meanwhile, back in Egypt, there is religious discrimination, detention without charges, widespread torture, censorship and ridiculous elections. Egypt is not the least democratic country in the middle east, but it is far behind by western standards. There are many reasons to worry about strict emergency laws. Egypt should know - they've had one since 1981.


Iraq blames the sinking of oil tanker on american piracy.

Iraq makes an estimated $1 billion a year on oil smuggling, which is wisely invested in expensive palaces and terrorists. A lot of money also trickles down to corrupt iranian officials, who allow the smugglers to sneak along their coast line.

The Iraqis offer the oil to smugglers at a much discounted price, a price of about $95 a metric ton. This would enable a smuggler to purchase the oil for that price, pay the Iranians $50 a metric ton for a tariff to use their waters, and then sell the oil at their destination for around $205 a metric ton and thereby make $50 to $60 a metric ton in profit.

Thursday, November 22, 2001


Bush: Afghanistan is only the beginning.

There are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends, and there are other nations willing to sponsor them. We will not be secure as a nation until all of these threats are defeated. If you harbor terrorists, you will be held accountable by the U.S. and its friends.


Iraq now considering to allow UN weapons inspectors, but only if the sanctions are dropped and Monday falls on a Tuesday - at least they mean well.


Victor Davis Hanson on the historical precedent for continuing with Iraq, (via lgf.)

In the months ahead, the same questions that obsessed Hannibal, Don Juan, Sherman, Patton, and Schwartzkopf and their superiors shall haunt us once more. At first glance, the voices of moderation will argue for caution. Indeed, we can anticipate their judicious reasoning in advance: The Europeans will turn on us; the Muslim world may explode; nuclear and biological terror may be unleashed; the world's oil may light up; our campuses may seethe; a glib press may snarl and third-guess; our treasury may go broke; our youth may be killed; and our forces be surely overstretched. Yes, we know them all, and they all must be ignored.

(Update - Steven Den Beste: Hanson is making the classic mistake of an armchair strategist.)


David Brin has more faith in the adaptability of ordinary humans, than in perfect laws and institutions, (via InstaPundit.)

The doctrinal transformation - or change in the rules of engagement - took place swiftly and decisively, without deliberation by sober government agencies or sage committees. Three average men changed it upon hearing news via their own 'intelligence network'. They acted as soldiers, heroes, without waiting for permission. It's called initiative, a civic virtue, part of our national character that doesn't get enough attention. Not from leaders and certainly not from our enemies.

What the hierarchical powers in our culture should remember is that in the past all tribes considered their adult members to be potential warriors. Our grandparents knew this. Maybe it's time - with some maturity and thoughtful care - to go back to that attitude.

To adapt and take responsibility! This is why I don't worry a lot about the future. Good laws and forethought can be very useful, but all we really need to keep the ideals of wealth, reason, freedom and pleasure alive for another century, is good people. Capitalism works because individuals adapt to change faster than institutions, and there are always a lot more gifted individuals than dogmatic institutions. Science works the same way. History is full of revolutionary ideas that became common knowledge that became dogma that was pushed aside by other revolutionary ideas. We didn't get computers and quantum physics because we started out with perfect ideas, we got there because there was a neverending supply of good people, gifted individuals able to overthrow the institutions their predecessors left behind.

Now the internet does this to media. Apparently it's Thanksgiving today, which doesn't mean anything to me at all, (my only childhood memory of Thanksgiving involves a Pink Panter comic, a time machine, turkeys and people in weird clothes), but among the many things I'm thankful for is the internet. I know I didn't give that impression yesterday, but that was just my nostalgia speaking, I didn't mean it. Some of my optimism for the future comes from knowing that, from this year on, every major conflict involving a nation connected to the web will have tens, or houndreds, or thousands of warblogs, covering it from left, right, inside, outside, ahead and behind. I don't like to boast, but I'm a bit proud of this: They tore down the World Trade Center, and we responded by creating something new. They attacked us with ignorance, we replied with curiosity and informed criticism. We didn't want to leave the 90's, but we accepted the irreversible, and turned it into something good.

The cycle continues: progress, dogma, progress, dogma, progress. As long as there are good people who can adapt to change, and are allowed to take responsibility, I don't think we have that much to worry about. The future is safe with our descendants.


Wednesday, November 21, 2001


Matt Welch picks up on Steven Den Bestes unanswered challenge to the peace crowd at Metafilter, claiming to detect a trend for the old-fashioned Scientific Method among the warbloggers.

Let me add my own voice to that: I'm not a scientist or a writer, just a programmer with a website, but where I grew up, in the norwegian mid-90's BBS community, we lived the Scientific Method every day. That's how I used to learn, by throwing an idea out in the open, and watch it get torn apart from left and right by people a lot more intelligent than me. When the dust cleared, only the good part of the idea would remain, which I'd pick up and bring with me to the next debate. I started with nothing, and got almost everything that way. There was nothing humble about this, I never gave up easily, but there was something compelling about well-designed, intellectually sound counter-arguments that I was incapable of deluding myself to ignore for more than .. eh .. a few months.

The ideal conditions for a debate are difficult to create. If there are too many involved, like on Usenet, a lot of interesting people loose interest, and only the quarrelsome extremists remain. If there is no diversity, too many views will be taken for granted, and people will go around slapping each others backs instead of thinking new thoughts. Diversity is worthless without intelligence. You don't test your ideas by arguing with morons, you test them by picking fights with only the most intelligent representatives of the other view.

The BBS's I went to had all that. There was a good mix of intelligent socialists, capitalists, nazis, anarchists, atheists, agnostics and christians, and an environment of free speech that was untypically norwegian. You couldn't censor dangerous ideas, you had to fight them with better ideas, (or ignore them.) Now it's gone, killed by the internet. I love the web, but it doesn't have the spirit of Arcades BBS '97. I never imagined I'd ever be doing this, writing web-monologues to nameless strangers. I've noticed that some people believe weblogs are interactive. Perhaps compared to old media they are, but to me this is a step backwards, from a medium where you were in constant interaction with everyone you wrote to, to one that is more like a lecture with an occasional comment from the audience.

There is a lack of diversity on the web, and I think Stevens attempt illustrates it. The anti-war people had the opportunity to have a good discussion with an intelligent, well-read member of the other side, but chose to ignore him. I fall into the same trap all the time, choosing to ignore sites I disagree with, rather than read on and possibly learn something new. Perhaps the web makes this feel natural precisely because there are so many different views online, there isn't enough time to worry about them all, but you can't have a Scientific Method without listening to different opinions. It's a dilemma. How much do I really care that my opinions are correct?


John Leo: Media bogged down in the latest quagmire.

The journalism award for earliest detection of a U.S. quagmire in Afghanistan probably should go to Associated Press reporter Kathy Gannon, filing from Pakistan only a week after the twin towers fell. "History is not encouraging," she elucidated. "Now it may be the United States' turn to try a foray into the Afghan quagmire."

"quagmire+afghanistan", 3870 hits.


Tuesday, November 20, 2001


The US ambassador to Pakistan is observing Ramadan fast.


Prophetic dreams and fanatical foreigners now control Taliban military decisions.


Americans are broadcasting a $25 million reward for bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders, encouraging afghans to go from cave to cave looking for "foreign terrorists".


Saudi-Arabia commands clerics to shut up about the US.

The Washington Times reports an assasination attempt on King Fahd two weeks ago, referring to it as "terrorism".


Gerald Steinberg looks forward to dancing in the streets of Bagdad.

How will Iraqis celebrate the demise of Saddam Hussein and his "Republic of Fear"? Will they wrap themselves in American flags, instead of burning them? Will they blow up the ubiquitous statues of Saddam, or pulverize them into rubble? Whatever form it takes, the liberation of Kabul will look like a warm up for the main event. The spontaneous joy in Afghanistan shows that even in the most repressed societies, basic human instincts of freedom and liberty continue to survive.

Monday, November 19, 2001


First movie shown publicly in Kabul since 1996: Ascension (1995), the story of "three mujahideen heroes who fought the Soviet invasion of the 1980s".


Haji Abdul Qadeer, current governor of Jalalabad, on the guests who refuse to leave Kunduz:

These people, their name is death, and they will fight to the last man. The Arabs and the extremists with them will never give up. It will be a hard fight to get them out and it will take more than we have got. We need support from the US and Britain with ammunition and air power to take on the Arabs in the White Mountains.

Stories of horror are emerging from Kunduz. Taliban wants to surrender, but al-Qaeda won't let them, unless their own safety (and our unsafety) is guaranteed. Steven Den Beste expects a bloodbath.


The Telegraph examines the Taliban collapse, (via Remember.) 23-year old Taliban fighter Atiqurahman: "Our morale was getting lower and lower. We realised we couldn't fight."

American special forces on the ground began to guide more intense precision bombing by B52s, including occasional but terrifying use of the giant "daisy-cutters", whose ferocious explosive payload destroys most life within a half-mile radius. Taliban soldiers began to be killed in larger numbers.

...

Taliban nerve may have been badly dented by Thursday night's precision air attack on a house just south of Kabul, where the local leadership of al-Qa'eda was holding a council of war. The missile killed all in the room, including Osama bin Laden's close adviser on terrorist strategy, the Egyptian-born Mohammed Atef. The fact of the meeting was passed to the Americans by an informer. The Taliban, it seemed, had forgotten two lessons they should have learnt from the mistakes of the Soviets: for much of the time, they moved in columns, dug trenches and used vehicles, presenting easy targets. They had also done nothing to shore up political support for their regime

Also, a good political and ethnic map of current Afghanistan.


Journalists Harry Burton (Reuters), Azizullah Haidari (Reuters), Julio Fuentes (El Mundo) and Maria Grazia Cutuli (Corriere della Sera) were killed in Afghanistan today, by unidentified bandits outside Kabul.


Wednesday, November 14, 2001


How odd. The Arab News calls the fall of Taliban inevitable, and hails the US as a force for justice, authority and credibility, begging it not to retreat into isolationism again. And there is only one reference to Zionist pressure groups. What happened, a new memo from the king?


Scandinavian reactions, (translated excerpts):

Halvor Elvik in Dagbladet, Norway:

For weeks, americans and the rest of the world have been told that the Taliban government of Afghanistan must be removed precisely because they are inhumane barbarians, with no respect for human life. In the hour of triumph, the new american allies in the Northern Alliance reveals themselves to be just as bad. The difference is that these bandits are our bandits.

Editorial in Aftenposten, Norway:

It was not an easy decision to support the military campaign in Afghanistan. Those responsible have not been under the illusion that it would solve all the problems terrorism poses to the world community. But the bombing of military targets in Afghanistan has given results. Now it's up to the world community, Norway included, to use those "other means" of von Clausewitz. Afghanistans problems are our problems.

Editorial in Aftonbladet, Sweden:

Last time the Northern Alliance capture Mazar-i-Sharif, they slaughtered thousands of opponents, baked them in oven-hot cars, and blew them to pieces in deep wells. Dostum was once with the Soviet communists, but switched sides to the religious extremist Hekmatyar. Now this satanic murderer and rapist is "our man" in the war on terrorism. This illustrates a fundamental problem of this shady war. How do we restore Afghanistan after the war? Who shall govern? To trust the Northern Alliance, as the british Observer writes, would be treason against the purported goal of this war: To fight terrorism.

Editorial in Jyllands-Posten, Denmark:

For now, we are pleased that the alliance, supported by american air support, is advancing, because nothing can be worse than the now partially destroyed Taliban regime. But what happened to the war on terrorism? Is the great alliance, formally stretching from Washington and other western capitols to Moscow and Beijing, at war with Afghanistan, or Osama bin Laden?


Reader Brian Hoffman points me to this collection of pictures from free Kabul, showing beardless men, unveiled women, celebrating children and Northern Alliance soldiers.


Stories of relieved afghans dropping their beards is anti-islamic propaganda, says the Pakistan Observer. (Oh, and apparently there is a "massacre".)

The report that the Afghans stood in long queues before the barbers shops to get their beards shaved off is simply ridiculous. Beard is part of the Afghan culture and almost everyone in the Northern Alliance has beard. The report seems to have been dished out deliberately by some over-exuberant individual in a bid to substantiate Wests vicious propaganda against Islamic values and virtues. Taliban were not angels and they may have committed mistakes, but there is no logic or wisdom to ridicule the Islamic values, while condemning them. The United States is despicably pursuing policy of unleashing propaganda against our culture and at the same time focusing its humanitarian facet by air dropping relief articles for the Afghan people.

Good riddance, says Ahmed Rashef, Kabul. "I hated this beard. Being shaved is like being free."


Fred Pruitt on the fleeing Taliban:

Successful guerilla wars start in the hills, with small units sheltered and supported by sympathetic civilians. They build their strength there, then form larger units and take the cities. Stragglers from defeated armies take to the hills and try and save themselves. If there had been any popular support for the Taliban within Afghanistan -- rather than in Pakistan, Riyadh, Berkeley and MIT -- this would have been an impossible campaign for the Northern Alliance to win, even with heavy US bombing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001


John Simpson walked into Kabul ahead of the Northern Alliance. By that time, locals had already started to kill remaining Taliban soldiers. (Via Ken Layne, who btw is particularly blogworthable today.)


Church leaders and peace groups: US bombing must stop. I agree! A sensible suggestion from the peace movement at last. It's time we put an end to this pointless bombing of Kabul and Herat, and start bring in food, decadent imperialist art, freedom and order. In fact, lets step up the campaign against the rest of Afghanistan, so we can stop bombing them as well.


Men line up outside the barber shop in Taliqan, Afghanistan. (What, you mean there are barber shops in Afghanistan?)


If you can't beat them and break their kneecaps, buy them. King Fahd of Saudi-Arabia has "the patience and discretion of a natural diplomat", is a "guardian of holy places", and governs "one of the worlds most generous donors" - according to an ad in the Washington Post. A generous donor indeed. (Via Fredrik Norman.)

Mitch Wagner proposes some other catchy slogans for the new Saudi PR campaign:

"We May Be A Bunch of Medieval Anti-Semitic Fuckheads, but Hey, Wasn't That `Lawrence of Arabia' a Great Movie."

"We're Islamic Fundamentalists, but the Cuddly Kind."

"Visit Saudi Arabia, Unless You're an Independent Woman or a Jew."

"Making the World Safe for Monarchy."

"If you Liked Iran Under the Ayatollah, You'll Love the New Saudi Arabia."


SF Chronicle calls the Northern Alliance commander who captured Herat today, Ishmail Khan, a moderate and 'good' warlord. "We are an educated and cultured people. I want to see us shine."


Afghan refugee Zuhra Bahman:

Living far away from Afghanistan has enabled me to look at the frightening similarities of the Afghan war groups. They all kill, loot, rape, destroy lives and they chose their victims from those who oppose them.


Details from the attack on Kabul.

The battle for Kabul began early on Monday morning. Northern Alliance artillery, mortars, rockets and tank fire let rip across the wide Shomali plain north of the Afghan capital, while US B-52 and fighter bombers attacked the Taleban from the sky.


Northern Alliance claims Kandahar taken, and Omar fled to Pakistan. Taliban denies, and prepares for guerilla war.


Mullah Omar: Temporary defeat is a test, victory will be ours, and: I command you to obey orders!


A Tajik in Kabul: Do you think I can shave now?


Sylvester Stallone is working on a new Rambo movie, set in Afghanistan. He wasn't sure he'd look good in a thong any more, but September 11th changed his mind. Seems like a poor bet to make, that the Taliban or Osama will still be a threat a year from now. Plan for the future, go to Iraq!


Nobody knows for sure, but the plane crash yesterday looks like an accident. That's what they said on TV, and that's all I have to say, (but at least I'll only say it once.)


Sunday, November 11, 2001


Timothy Roscoe Cartera, on Matt Welch's letter page, explains the everything America does is wrong mentality:

What should we do about a repressive regime?
  • Option 1) Military Aid. Obviously wrong. We are providing the weapons that kill the innocent. See Israel, Turkey, Columbia, Reagan-era Iraq, etc.
  • Option 2) Economic Aid. Wrong. We are financially propping up the regime. See Egypt, Indonesia, etc.
  • Option 3) Humanitarian Aid. Still Wrong. By relieving the regime of its financial duty to feed its people, we free up their money for military uses. See Afghanistan, where the US supported the Taliban by providing $43 million in humanitarian aid in exchange for the Taliban not exporting Heroin, thus sacrificing 12 million women to the alter of the failed War on Drugs.
  • Option 4) Trade / Constructive Engagement. Wrong. This is merely an excuse for US corporations to profit off of the regime's repression of its own people. See China and Reagan-era South Africa.
  • Option 5) Economic Sanctions. Wrong. The economic sanctions in Iraq have killed 6,000 people a month for the past 11 years, or nearly 800,000 victims of US foreign policy.
  • Option 6) Military Attack. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! See every military conflict that the United States has every engaged in. (Caveat: There may be a possible exception for the US Civil War, which will be considered obviously justified if you are talking to any white person born in the former Confederacy.)
  • Option 7) The Prime Directive. Wrong. It is intolerable for the most powerful nation in history to sit by and do nothing while thousands die. It probably stems from a racist lack of concern for people of color of persons of other religions. See Rwanda, Bosnia (not to be confused with Kosovo, which falls under Option 6, above).


Steve the Crocodile Hunter goes hunting for one of them binladens in the wilds of Afghanistan.


Modern Humorist: Bombing with Jai al-Leno. Afghanistan's "minister of monologue" returns fire.

In case you've forgotten why we're waging jihad against America, the 53rd Annual Emmy Awards were this week. I tell you, a thousand Salman Rushdies typing for a thousand years couldn't come up with anything as offensive as this: Homosexuals, Jews, Jessica Alba in a tight dress unescorted by a male family member. Allah was so angry he wouldn't let anybody leave until they heard Barbra Streisand sing.


Bin Laden apparently admits guilt, and explains why the World Trade Center was a legitimate target.

The towers were supposed to be filled with supporters of the economical powers of the United States who are abusing the world. Those who talk about civilians should change their stand and reconsider their position. We are treating them like they treated us. There are two types of terror, good and bad. What we are practising is good terror. We will not stop killing them and whoever supports them.

Uh-huh. Now that Osama has transformed himself into the anti-globalist, palestine-supporting, third-world avatar the western left wants him to be, does that make him a nicer person?

In other news, FBI thinks a "middle-aged man of moderate education, probably born in America" is behind the anthrax attacks. "Penacilin" and "Allah is great" were deliberate false leads. They've posted a profile on their website, describing a disturbed, intelligent loner, familiar with Trenton, New Jersey, and with a history of anonymous harassment.

Whoever he is, he's a terrorist, and deserves the Osama-treatment. (No, I don't mean the "forced sex-change, then send him back to his country" one, but the other one.)


Saturday, November 10, 2001


Hitler's Children - A Disney propaganda cartoon from World War 2. A dark movie for dark times. This war is of course nothing like that, but many of the lessons apply, (and the current-pundits-in-WW2 parodies are damn funny.)

This time, the home-market war propaganda machine is lead by underground web artists. (Analyse that, Noam.) When they give up, I'll accept the defeat of liberal democracy and throw away my decadent imperialist electric razor.

American flag: $25
Gasoline: $2
Cigarette lighter: $2.50

Catching yourself on fire because you are a terrorist asshole: PRICELESS


More about Lebanons reluctance to fight terrorism.


Last month, Turkey passed 34 amendments to its 1982 military constitution, motivated by a hope of eventually joining the EU.

The Middle East Intelligence Bulletin explains the turbulent history of turkish democracy.

Throughout the 1970s, while the nation sank deeper and deeper into chaos, the politicians squabbled. Instead of putting honest, talented people into positions of authority in the civil service, they packed the state bureaucracy with their incompetent friends and loyal cronies. Responsible civilian leadership was almost wholly absent from the national scene. Coalitions in the TGNA formed and shifted and fell and formed again. It was a mess.


Latest from Osama: A statement on Al Jazeera, and an interview in the Dawn.

If an enemy occupies a Muslim territory and uses common people as human shield, then it is permitted to attack that enemy. For instance, if bandits barge into a home and hold a child hostage, then the child's father can attack the bandits and in that attack even the child may get hurt. America and its allies are massacring us in Palestine, Chechenya, Kashmir and Iraq. The Muslims have the right to attack America in reprisal. The Islamic Shariat says Muslims should not live in the land of the infidel for long. The Sept 11 attacks were not targeted at women and children. The real targets were America's icons of military and economic power.

Oh, and he claims to have nukes, but he'll only use them if the americans strike first, ie. it's an empty threat.

Ayman al-Zawahri, military commander of al-Qaeda, claims Palestine is the greatest motive for muslims to attack the United States. (What happened to Saudi-Arabia?)


Robert Fisk - now with the mighty Saudi propaganda machine behind him.


Geoffrey Barto takes up the challenge of rewriting "remember, remember the fifth of november":

Remember, remember 11 September
Suicide demons' dark plot
We see no reasons
Why suicide demons'
Evil should ever be forgot

Remember, remember 11 September
Murderous monsters in flight
Reject their dark game
And let Liberty's flame
Burn prouder and ever more bright

Remember, remember 11 September
When madness and malice took wing
Face darkness and fear
With this memory clear
And everywhere let Freedom ring!

Thursday, November 08, 2001


Also from MEMRI: The modest proposal of an egyptian satirist to open a terrorist kindergarden.

Give me your children, and I promise you that they will become bona fide extremists. I swear to you that any of them who show genius in his extremism will join the Supreme Academy of Terrorism, even if his terrorism ranking does not qualify him; it is enough that he is sincere in his desire, has a gift for terrorism, or is a terrorist by nature.

...

Any wise observer can discern how the infidels each day, each hour, even each moment, invent ways to turn human life into Paradise on Earth. If they truly believed in Allah or in his prophets, they would make sure that their people lived like the Afghan people, and they would rule their countries as does the great Mullah, Muhammad Omar.

Update: Thomas Nephew has more excellent links to the Middle-East Media and Research Institute, which translates articles from arab newspapers.


If it wasn't so wildly off-topic, I'd tear apart this piece of bullshit, sentence by sentence, (starting somewhere with "norwegians don't lock their doors".) I like my country, but this is ridiculous.


The Student Movement Coordination Committee for Democracy in Iran (phew!) asks Kofi Annan for help:

The public statements by many of the regimes official clerics about the need to annihilate their imaginary enemies, like the State of Israel, or murdering authors, such as Mr. Rushdie, only speak to the sick and perverse minds of these Mullahs. Moreover, it is an indication as how hard this extremely weak and shaky regime is trying so desperately to hang on to power and find stability. At the expense and detriment of the beleaguered population of an ancient civilization, these irreverent and demented illiterates presume to speak of civilization! Do they truly believe they can fool the world any longer? Perhaps! After all, the world has closed its eyes and ears for the last twenty-two years. But, the brave people of Iran cannot and will not be fooled any longer. Time ran out long ago!


Dr. Atallah Abu Al-Subh, Hamas Weekly: Ode to an anthrax spore!

Oh Anthrax, despite your wretchedness, you have sown horror in the heart of the lady of arrogance, of tyranny, of boastfulness! Your gentle touch has made the U.S.'s life rough and pointless. You have filled the lady who horrifies and terrorizes the world with fear, and her feet almost fail to bear in horror and fear of you. Because of you, she has lost confidence in the moment in which she lives, or in which she will live.

...

The Pentagon was a monster before you entered its corridors... And behold, it now transpires that its men are of paper and its commanders are of cardboard, and they hasten to flee as soon as they see - only see - chalk dust! There are those who think that I exaggerate, but I do not think so. This horror that you have sown - you, the delicate, the uncomplicated, the miserable - in the heart of the bloodsucker makes me think as I do.


Three days late! An early attempt at large-scale terrorism, the Gunpowder Plot of November 5th, 1605. Some of you grew up with this, I first heard it through Alan Moore:

Remember, remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder treason and plot
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Any poets out there who want to update it? The first line is easy, gunpowder could be hijacking, but treason doesn't fit, and terror doesn't rhyme.


Wednesday, November 07, 2001


No, it's not the Onion.

A year ago, when women's rights and peace advocate Hibaaq Osman was giving a speech at the United Nations, she cited only one cause for which the use of military force might be justified: to oust the oppressive Taliban regime from Afghanistan. Now that the bloody effort is under way, however, Osman, who heads the Center for Strategic Initiatives in Washington, feels differently.

"I said it, but I was just making a point," a distraught Osman recalls. "This predicament is a test for feminists. We have seen our worst nightmarewomen being dehumanized and shot in publicand it makes us more radical. It makes us angry enough to entertain the idea of war. But do I support war?" Osman pauses to consider her own country, Somalia, with its brutal history, before bursting out with an emotional "No. No. No. War is not OK under any circumstances," and then concluding, "The whole thing simply breaks my heart."


Lebanon takes a stand for terrorism.

Lebanon's stance is that there is a difference between defining terrorism and the groups that seeks to liberate their countries. Therefore Lebanon's decision that will be taken in the Cabinet meeting will be based on this differentiation. Lebanon will not take any measure concerning Hezbollah.

Tuesday, November 06, 2001


Steven Den Beste is back from holiday, and, (among many other informative comments), writes about the terror of fuel-air bombs.

The word "terror" has come to mean a lot of things recently, so I'm hesitant to use it in this context. But there really isn't any other word which makes sense, so let's come right out with it: part of the reason to use a weapon like this is to terrorize the enemy troops. It's as much a psyops weapons as anything else. Some of it is to neutralize mine fields, but mostly this is being used now just because it is impressive as hell.


Charles Heyman at Janes explains what Special Forces can and cannot achieve.


Ahmad Shah Masood, April 4th 2001:

Q: What is your message to President Bush?
A: Hitherto, the Americans have no clear or distinct policy [on Afghanistan]. My message to Mr. Bush is that if attention is not given to bringing peace in Afghanistan, and the people of Afghanistan are not assisted on the road toward achieving peace, then verily this crisis will continue to plague not just the people of Afghanistan, but also spread to America and other countries.

Quoted in Northern Alliance-friendly Omaid Weekly, which accuses the US of having been "under the influence of Pakistan's ISI". And Colin Powell? Disrespectful of civilians:

Then, as now, Powell voiced steadfast objections to freeing Kuwait using military force and promoted ousting Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein through economic sanctions. Powell thus effectively disobeyed the commander in chief, who had decided the only option to force Saddam out of Kuwait was through the use of force.

Today, the statistics are against Powell: It is estimated that some 20,000 Iraqi soldiers were killed in the war. However, the casualty toll of the economic blockade against Iraq stands at approximately 50 times that number -- 1 million children victims. So why is it that Powell shies away from military action -- followed by humanitarian and economic aid -- instead of ongoing sanctions and isolation?

...

Unsuspecting attacks on civilians can be forgiven through diplomacy, but soldiers' lives will not be placed at risk.


Postcards from hell: Photographs by A. Rafelle Ciriello. A large number of photos, including an optimistic collection from Iran, "new and blossoming", photos of Afghan women and Taleban soldiers, and an interview with former Northern Alliance commander Ahmed Shah Massood, who was assasinated on September 9th.

The recent attack to Taloqan is only the final stage of an offensive which started at the beginning of summer when Taleban's number two, mullah Rabbani has received from Pakistan president Musharraf more than 10,000 combatants, including 2000 regulars from Islamabad's Army. One thousand men from "Al Quaida", the militia of Osama Bin Laden, the Saudi billionaire and several more volunteers coming from Arabia, Bangladesh or the Philippines also joined in.

Also, a 1999 interview with the exiled Shah.


More from Afghan Magazine: A 16 year old immigrant writes about growing up in America.


Mir Hekmatullah Sadat on the history of Afghan-Soviet relations, leading up to the invasion in 1979.

At every stage of Soviet integration, Afghanistan's involuntary dependence was becoming more irreversible. As a result, the direct intervention of the Red Army soldiers in Afghanistan was the culmination of all prior stages.

Sunday, November 04, 2001


Iran in talks with Taliban:

There have been two official visits from the Taliban to Teheran in the past three weeks and a secret visit by an Iranian delegation to Kabul. Iran is believed to have offered to arm and fund the return to Afghanistan of Gulbuddin Hekmatayar, a former Mujahideen leader, who has been living in exile in Iran and wants to take up arms against the former king. [...] Iran fears the return of king Zahir Shah could stir up support for the overthrown Iranian Pahlavi dynasty.

Saturday, November 03, 2001


International Media Support and the Baltic Media Centre, based in Denmark, wants to set up an independent radio station for the Afghan people:

The objectives for the radio, which will be led and run by Afghanistan journalists and media professionals are to provide information and news via radio on the actual local situation to avoid unnecessary and unclear refugee streams and to secure the optimal distribution and use of emergency aid. Further the objectives are to develop the capacity of local Afghani journalists to produce and broadcast credible, unbiased information and encourage the journalists and managers who are trained through the radio project to participate in building a pluralistic media landscape when the war in Afghanistan is over.


Benjamin Smith reports from baltic reactions to the attacks: They are sympathetic to the US, but pessimistic about its future.


In an article, Rudolph Giuliani explains why he returned the $10 million check. (Via Little Green Footballs.)


John Ashcroft recommends adding two Pakistani terrorist organizations to the list: Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed). Both are responsible for violent attacks and kidnappings in Kashmir.

Lashkar-e-Taiba appears to have a website. From their news section:

PESHAWAR, Oct 28 : About 12000 Mujahideen of Tehrik Nifaz Shariat Muhammadi were stooped entering Afghanistan at Bajour. The volunteers' caravan of 105 vehicles wanted to join Taliban to wage Jihad against US aggression on call of TNS chief Sufi Muhammad to help Afghan brethren in difficult situation. However, Pakistan did not allow them to enter Afghanistan on US pressure while Taliban also did not accept them due to ongoing US air attacks on Afghanistan.

Oh, and they were offended by Ann Coulter.


More middle-east school books: The report I linked to below is one of several by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, which compares mutual characterizations in israeli, palestinian and syrian textbooks. This is scary.

From Generation to Generation, Israel:

The Arabs were not simply cultural middlemen, they were also creators of culture. For example, they were the first to discover the existence of infectious diseases. They were also the first to build public hospitals. Because of their considerable contribution to various scientific fields, there are disciplines that to this day are called by their Arabic names, such as algebra.

The Contemporary History of the Arabs and the World, Palestine:

There are a number of reasons that caused the Europeans to persecute the Jews, everywhere they were: The Bible is full of texts that support the Jews' tendency to racial and religious zealotry, and they respond with the spirit of hatred toward the other nations The Jews of Europe were hated because of their hostile Jewish belief towards Christianity, and their seclusion, they did not join the western societies and continued to view them with suspicion. Another reason for the hatred towards them was their taking over the economy

Ancient History of the Arabs, Syria:

A mixed people, dazzled by the richness of the Canaanite cities and their civilization, crossed the river Jordan, which gave it the name "Hebrews". It began to engage the Canaanite city-states and to seize them one by one, inflicting ruin and destruction, using all sorts of treachery and deception in order to drive a wedge between the Canaanite city-states. It took advantage of the absence of a unified Canaanite state that would be able to stand against the avid invaders and drive them back, as the Zionists do today in Palestine while taking advantage of the disagreement and weakness that inflict the Arabs.

More: The Palestinian Ministry of Education defends itself against these "right-wing, anti-peace israeli" allegations. CMIP responds by hitting them over the head with their own books.


Friday, November 02, 2001


A site that collects personal stories from the WTC attacks. Survivor stories, oh-my-god comments, chain letters and photographs. I was beginning to forget, and this brought it back.


Good thing Yasser Arafat didn't go fundraising in Kristiansand when he visited Norway this week. Fredrik Norman would have had a warm surprise for him:

I say we put two and two together here, and engage in a NATO-led operation against this terrorist bastard while he's here on our very soil. While the Americans and Brits take care of Bin Laden, that's certainly the least we can do, no?

Instead, prime minister Bondevik promised him more money. Does that make us accessories to terrorism? I'm not ready to have Arafat assassinated, but our financial support clearly comes with too many good intentions, and not enough hard demands. Let's start with something simple, like freedom of speech -- or an education system that doesn't raise another generation of ignorant racists.


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