Friday, December 30, 2005

Review: Speilberg's 'Munich'; Interesting Movie; Shallow Message.

I have received a number of private negative reactions to my original guarded recommendation of 'Munich' from folks that I respect. So I have decided to spend a little more time thinking this issue through. I wrote down a number of my thoughts about the negatives and the positives that I see in this film. I will add thoughts as they come to me. Of course, folks will make up their own minds.

Things that I found problematic in Spielberg’s ‘Munich’:

1) While I find it hard to believe that it would be intentional, in this film Spielberg reinforces the stereotype of Jews as money-obsessed, penny-pinchers: Examples: Receipts are loudly demanded for everything; salaries and bank accounts feature prominently; and constant complaints about the high financial price for each operation…etc.
2) The idea of the Israeli Mossad handlers requiring receipts for everything seems a silly insertion because no intelligence agency worth a dime would ask its own operatives to create a detailed and incriminating paper-trail of all their activities, especially highly covert and sensitive activities. Presumably these issues are handled by memory and trust - of known and highly trained operatives. What then would be the filmmaker’s motive to insert such a scene?
3) The tough blond-haired, blue-eyed (Conveniently a white South African during the era of aparthide) Jewish Mossad team-member was clearly cast to fill a certain stereotype: The Jewish Nazi. At one point he loudly proclaims in true Aryan fashion: “the only blood I care about is Jewish blood.” What would motivate the director to insert that?
4) The argument for Israel seems purposefully weak and based entirely on the Holocaust (oddly, not too dissimilar from the views of the current Iranian President). While ignoring that Zionism was a vibrant movement well before WWII, with a strong set of ideals and arguments for Israel that predate and have nothing to do with the Holocaust. In this film, Israel is all about victomology and the Holocaust. No Holocaust, no Israel.
5) The argument for the Palestinians in this film is forceful and goes un-countered; that their land was stolen from them illegally. Of course Israel was created by a legitimate vote of the United Nations, and Israel was illegally attacked by all surrounding Arab armies on the day of its creation in an Arab bid to destroy the fledgling state in its infancy, but none of that matters in this film apparently.
6) At one point the mother of Avner, the films main character “justifies” Israel’s existence with the following statement: “No one would give it to us so we took it.” Essentially reinforcing the Palestinian argument that their land was stolen. With advocates like that who needs enemies?
7) Prime Minister Golda Meir at one point talked about the need now to be strong and that “peace will have to wait.” This falsely suggests that peace was an option at all for Israel in 1972 and that Israel purposefully set peace aside. Spielberg needs reminding that in 1972 the PLO Charter called publicly and openly for Israel’s complete destruction and not a single Arab country recognized Israel’s right to even exist. Indeed, the following year, Egypt and Syria launched the Yom Kippur war. What Peace exactly was Golda setting aside in the mind of the filmmaker?
8) I will preface the following critique with a disclaimer: I am certainly not a prude and do not have the slightest problem with sex scenes in films. However, Munich is packed with graphic, repeated, and largely unnecessary sexualized-violence which is different and can only be explained as a cheep method of disturbing the audience. It is not the sex that bothers me, it’s the excessive sexualized-violence, examples; An attractive woman slowly goes through death pangs in a lengthy close-up, full frontal nudity with blood squirting out of her neck; a couple is blown out of their bed during sex and walk around in the nude bloodied, dazed and confused. One of the Israeli operatives is shot in the head in bed by an attractive woman he met in a hotel bar, and who’s full-frontal, bloodied nude body is discovered by the lead actor. But most disturbingly; at the end of the film, the lead character engages in dramatic sexual intercourse with his wife as Spielberg alternates back and forth from the sexual pleasure of the characters to the violent murder of the Israeli athletes, with the greatest violence and blood occurring in slow motion as the main character climaxes and the Israeli athletes are murdered simultaneously. Sick? You make the call. But one has to wonder if in fact so much sexual-violence occurred during these operations. If as any normal person might suspect it did not, what could possibly have been the director’s motivation in inserting an overdose of it in the film?
9) The main message is the idea that there is no right or wrong in this conflict and that all of this is the product of an endless “cycle of violence” is constantly reinforced throughout the film. With the most obnoxious moment coming at the end with the twin towers dominating the New York skyline; as if to suggest that all of this Israeli tit-for-tat led to 9/11. I.e., no Israel, no 9-11.
10) Although this is not a direct criticism of the film itself, it does irk me a bit that the co-writer of this film was Tony Kushner who is on record as expressing that the creation of Israel was a historical mistake. It is somewhat surprising that Spielberg would feel comfortable associating himself so closely with this writer on this particular subject matter. It is also discomforting that the primary consultant was Dennis Ross, the great champion of the Oslo accords and the primary promoter in the US of Yasser Arafat as a legitimate “peacemaker.” The involvement of these folks tends to prejudice the film for many folks (not all) in advance, which is unfortunate.

Things that I liked about Spielberg’s ‘Munich’:

1) The Israeli team was largely portrayed sympathetically, as thinking and caring about innocent bystanders and struggling to operate in an ethical manner under the difficult circumstances of their mission. Many times during the film, the team aborted operations because of the possibility of innocent folks getting hurt, including the family members of the terrorists themselves. In my view that, more than anything else clearly and loudly distinguished them from the Palestinians in the film who were time and again seen killing innocent athletes, hijacking planes and sending letter-bombs. Despite the repeated attempts at moral relativism, and unless I’m blind and completely misunderstood what I was watching, there could be little doubt throughout the film that the Israelis were the imperfect good guys.
2) Furthermore, it was the Israeli team, not the Palestinian terrorists who are the main focus of the entire movie. The viewer is drawn in and compelled to sympathize with the main characters who are the Israelis not the Palestinians. The main characters, by enlarge do come across as compelling and sympathetic.
3) Purely from an entertainment point of view, I found the film fast and exciting. Others have complained to me that it is discombobulated, confusing and seems hastily done.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Words To Remember in Todays World:

"You ask what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all cost, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival."
Winston Churchill - 1939

A Powerful Message From a Friend of the Neocon:

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SIGHT by Si Frumkin (879 words) beauty.doc 11/2005

What was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen? I saw much that was beautiful in my life but I treasure most what I saw the day I was just a fourteen-year old skinny kid in a striped jacket with a number, watching tanks with white stars on them roll through the gates of the Dachau concentration, camp carrying smiling, waving American soldiers.

I was not alone – millions throughout recently occupied and decimated Europe celebrated American liberators. Even those who were Hitler’s allies – like the Italians – cheered the Allies as they rolled through the ruined cities.

The Germans did not cheer. They were silent, apprehensive, expecting the worst from the conquerors. The Allies too were nervous: the “Werevolves - an underground Nazi organization was supposed to have been created to fight the occupation forces.

I remember asking a Jewish GI who spoke a strange, broken, American-accented Yiddish why there were two-foot high vertical metal bars welded to the hoods of the American jeeps. He smiled, “This is to cut the wire the German partisans string across road”. He drew a finger across his throat. “We drive fast, we hit wire, and it cuts off American head. The metal sticks cut the wire – nothing happens”.

In the end, there was no resistance except for very few isolated incidents. In defeated Japan, we also expected resistance from a fanatical population ready to fight the invaders but the Japanese too were universally docile. Not a single rock was thrown at the trucks and jeeps that sped along the roads; the people who had lined up to watch bowed respectfully to their conquerors.

But what if there had been German resistance? What if wires strung across the roads had decapitated GIs and hard-line Nazis looted German arsenals for arms? And what if neighboring Austria that had enthusiastically joined Hitler’s Reich flooded occupied Germany with weapons and volunteers ready to fight the Allies? Would there have been an outcry from the American media and politicians to withdraw, to abandon the defeated foe, to allow the return of Hitler’s heirs? And would FDR be criticized for causing the deaths of American boys? I don’t think so.

So what has changed? Why is it acceptable, 60 years later, to excoriate our President for ridding the world of a tyrant who went to war with neighboring countries and filled mass graves with citizens of his own country – some of whom he murdered using the same WMDs he supposedly didn’t have? Saddam supported terrorism directed against the U.S., paid subsidies to the families of suicide murderers, waged wars of occupation against neighboring countries and disregarded all the warnings, threats and resolutions by the organization of all of the world’s states that vainly tried, for ten years, to verify the presence – or absence - of nuclear, chemical and biological weaponry.

The war against Hitler was not stigmatized by our media as a war of aggression, as an example of American imperialism, as a deception by the White House of the American people because it wasn’t. And neither is the war in Iraq.

America did occupy most of Western Europe. Had it been an imperialist power – like the Soviet Union – it would have remained in control, possibly forever. It didn’t. The U.S. withdrew from Europe – as well as the other countries it had occupied: Korea, Japan, the Philippines – and proceeded to invest treasure and effort to promote democracy, independence and economic stability for the benefit of them all.

Still, some of the nations we had liberated – and our former enemies as well – are now vehemently critical when we do for other oppressed nations what we had done for them 60 years ago.

The fact is that the world does need a policeman. It needs a policeman just as a gang-infested neighborhood needs one; would you suggest that the police give up and leave when confronted by gangs? And since no other power is willing to assume this role we had it thrust upon us.

And yes, America as a policeman has been effective. Here is just a partial list of places where President Bush’s policies resulted in an increase of democracy, a little more freedom and less wanton murder: Libya, Sierra Leone, Ukraine, Georgia, Somalia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Liberia. There are signs of movement in Syria, Egypt, Pakistan and a number of African dictatorships. Former Soviet colonies – Czechia, the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania have joined NATO. And there is Iraq, where a majority voted for democracy and which we will leave as soon as it can protect itself from its contemporary fascists.

There is much that we haven’t done – Darfur’s genocide, African slave trade, North Korea and Iran who are not reacting positively to the “speak loudly and carry no stick at all” approach by Europe and others. I am confident that these problems will also be solved with America leading the way. I am just as sure that nothing will be done - or would have been done - without the American policeman.

And so, I am grateful that we have a man in the White House who is willing to assume this burden in spite of the venom and the hatred of those who do not carry the memory of being liberated by American tanks at the age of 14.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Michael Jackson Leaves US, Considers Converting To Islam. Calls Jews "Leeches"

Whacko Jacko makes a dramatic move from accused child molester to overt Anti-Semite. What's a washed up pop-star to do?

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thanksgiving USA, 2005.

The Neocon Express will be taking Thanksgiving off and will be signing off for the next few days. For those of you from outside the United States: Thankgiving is a secular, uniquly American holiday in which we pause to give thanks for the many belessings we have as Americans, and for the opportunity to live in what the vast majority of us believe is the greatest country in the long history of mankind.

INTERPOL CHEIF: Bio-Terrorist Attack Virtually Inevitable, Probably Immanent.

The Neocon Express tries to avoid passing on hysterical predictions which are in no short supply these days, but this quote coming today from the head of the most important international law enforcement agency is particularly notable.
Interpol, the global network of government law enforcement agencies has declared a bio-terrorist attack a virtual inevitablity. In a dramatic statment today, Interpol Secretary General Ronald K. Noble was quoted: "In my view, al-Qaeda's global network, its desire to do the unthinkable and the evidence collected about its bioterrorist ambitions, ominously portend a clear and present danger of the highest order that al-Qaeda will perpetrate a biological terrorist attack."

UPDATE: Jury Still Out on Zarkarwi Fate

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Follow-up: Washington Post: 30% Chance Zarkawi Killed in Raid.

The Washington Post and ABC NEWS are confirming that there is a possibility that Iraqi Al Qaeda chief al-Zarkawi has been killed in a US raid in Mosul. DNA tests are currently being conducted in a frantic rush to confirm if al-Zarkawi has indeed met his maker. Meanwhile, Associated Press reports White House sources have doubts and are taking a wait and see approach. If proven, this will mark a major blow to Al Qaida and a strong symbolic victory for US forces in Iraq. As promised, the Neocon Express is on top of this one, and hoping that the DNA results prove positive.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Neocon Express: Abe Foxman Has Become An Embarassment: RESIGN NOW!

How Many Strikes Should Abe Get?

Disclaimer: The Neocon believes that the Anti-Defamation League serves an important purpose. Fighting racial and religious hatred and promoting the values of tolerance and understanding are noble causes indeed. However, the seemingly life-appointed ADL President, Abe Foxman, has outlived his usefulness to that organization and has become much more of an embarrassment than an asset. Simply put, He tends to pick the wrong fights at the wrong time with the wrong people. In the midst of a world-wide war on terror against Islamo-fascists, where real lives and the future of the world is at stake, Abe Foxman decides in the name of the entire Jewish world to declare a Jihad on… "conservative Christians", the strongest constituency in the war on terror. This is not the first time he has done this. Therefore be it resolved that:

Because of his bad judgment, bad timing, partisanship, power-drunkenness and insatiable appetite for the spotlight; his inflated ego and exaggerated sense of his own importance and infallibility, The Neocon declares that Abe Foxman has become an embarrassment to the Jewish Community of this country, of which the Neocon counts itself a proud member. Therefore be it further known to all that the Neocon resolves and declares that: MR. FOXMAN, PLEASE SPARE US FURTHER EMBARASSMENT AND RESIGN NOW!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Devastating GOP Ad Hits the Airwaves, Click Here To See.

Marked For Death

Jordan's King Abdullah

Al-Zarqawi publiclly Threatens to Kill Jordan's King in a an audiotape released today. One more reason for moderate Muslims to wake up and join the fight.

Chavez's Daily Rant: "Bush Is a 'Killer,' 'Madman'

Medical Diagnosis: Amnesia

WHEN THINGS GET TOUGH: "Ladies and Gentelmen, I, Harry Reid, take no responsibility for voting to oust Saddam Hussein. I have no recollection that I or that most of my Democratic colleagues ever voted that way; as far as I know, history began yesterday. If I did vote that way (which I have no recollection of) it was because I was duped by that genius of duplicity and evil intelligence-manipulating Neocon George W. Bush, and I was an idiot, but again, I have no recollection of being an idiot. I think I was in Aruba at the time, yeah, yeah, that's the ticket, that's where I was...."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Insight: Bush Family Split. My Son Is A Neocon!

Insight Magazine has portrayed the Bush family as split. Bush senior who served only one term, has never bothered to publicly distance himself from his close friend, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, a well know Neocon hater, Saudi Royal Family chum, and vocal critic of re-elected President George W. Bush. It seems discomforting that such a close friend of the Presidends father would be such a vocal public critic.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Shock! 9/11 Families Meet With Hezbollah Terror Leader.

The following is from Al Manara, Hezbollah Television (11-13). Perhaps it's worth remembering that Hezbollah, in addition to being card carrying members of the worldwide Radical Islamic movment, is described by the US State Department as one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world. What could these 9/11 family members have been thinking?

Daily Rant; Chavez to Fox: "Don't Mess With Me Or You Will Get Stung."

Chavez Out of Control

Fresh from whipping up riots at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, South American bad boy and Fidel Castro Want-a-be, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, has picked a fight with Mexico, essentially calling Mexican President Fox 'George Bush's Poodle.' The Neocon only wishes that Chavez was correct, however on a whole host of issues, including illegal immigration, Fox has proven to a tough player vis-a-vis the US. The personal nature of the Chavez insult is truly stunning, not to mention immature, and reflects the unstable nature of the Venezuelan strong-man. President Fox is correct in downgrading Mexican-Venezuelan relations.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Either French President Jacque Chirac is completely clueless about the situation in his own country, or he is pretending to be clueless. Chirac talked today about the need to reach out to the "disaffected French youth" and fight the "discrimination" that is at the "root cause" of the unrest in France. Perhaps Mr. Chirac should consider whether the root cause might actually be the millions of immigrants from cultures that have nothing but contempt for the great modern liberal principles of the west, such as pluralism, tolerance, freedom of expression, racial and gender equality, etc... Perhaps it would be better if the perpetrators of the violence were accurately identified as young Muslims who spit on western values and want the west and France destroyed, instead of the more politically correct and innocent term "disaffected French youth." Any alcoholic will tell you that before solving a problem, one must first honestly admit to having a problem, instead of living in denial.

Outrage: Unpresidented Racisim Against Senate Candidate Steele. Dean Refuses to Apologize.

The Neocon has served with Maryland Republican Senate candidate Michael S. Steele on the Advisory Committee of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and knows Mr. Steele to be a decent and honorable man. Lately, Democratic Party activists have taken to calling him an "Oreo" (Black on the outside, White on the inside), and have literally pelted him with Oreo Cookies at campaign events. They have illegally accessed his personal credit report. They have circulated fliers with his face painted over in a racially offensive manner. Democratic leaders (including DNC Chair Howard Dean) have refused to apologize and some have even gone so far as to justify the tactics. It is surprising that the main streem media and Republicans from the highest levels have not made more of an issue of this offensive behavior against a good man.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Direct Threat: The Queen is Targeted

Al-Qaeda number two, Ayman al- Zawahiri, has issued today a new blood curling, direct threat against the Queen of England, Elizabeth the II, who also serves as head of the Church of England. It might be worth remembering that it was only a few days ago that the Queens son, Prince Charles, was busy singing the praises of Islam and pointing out that the United States tends to "misunderstand" and "under-appreciate" the Muslim world. Further accusing the US of "intolerance" and being overly "confrontational." Perhaps it is Prince Charles who is misunderstanding the nature of the threat, including the direct threat to his own mothers life that was issued today. The Neocon does not misunderstand the threat and says in solidarity 'God Save the Queen,' even as her own son plays footsies with those who would do her harm.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Dean: Italian Alito Soft on Mafia!

First they called him Judge "Scalito" before being admonished by the National Italian American Foundation. Now Howard Dean and the DNC are attacking Italian-American Supreme Court nominee, Judge Samuel Alito, as being soft on the Mafia! This has got to be the single most overt racist attack on a judicial nominee in memory. There seems to be no shame in Dean's camp, and no limit to the outrageous rhetoric.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veterans Day 2005

One of the less famous photo's of the Flag-Raising on Mount Surabachi, Iwo Jima, February, 1945. The Mountaintop was an early priority objective so that the flag could be raised on the highest point of the Island to serve as visual inspiration to US troops still engaged in fierce combat below. To put today’s sacrifices into perspective; in 36 days of combat in the single battle of Iwo Jima only 60 years ago, the US suffered 25,851 casualties, of which 6,825 were killed. Over 22,000 Japanese soldiers perished. Many today need reminding that History didn’t begin yesterday.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ouch!!! Sac Dis's Detroit

Looking for a psychological edge just before their game with Detroit, in front of a capacity crowd at their home arena, the Sacramento Kings projected an "insensitive and unflattering" video of Detroit with typical motor-city scenes of burnt out cars, slums and abandoned buildings. Is there something wrong with that picture? ...OK, so it's a slow news day.

In Latest Bizzar Temper-Tantrum Babs Calls for... IMPEACHMENT!

Folks, you know that things are getting pretty grim when that "intellectual giant," the mother of ALL "deep thinkers," the Queen of the "cutting edge," the Diva of "political sophistication," is calling for the IMPEACHMENT of the President of the United States.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Not Unexpected

The NeoCon was in Jordan last June, at the La Royal Hotel (Seen in the Photo in the background) right down the street from two of the hotels hit today in the heart of Amman (the Radisson and the Hyatt). The NeoCon can report first hand that the lack of real security on the premises was particularly apparent as any person could enter the hotel unchallenged, and any un-inspected vehicle could approach the front entrance/lobby area. It was certainly strange to the NeoCon at the time that there would be such a presumption of immunity. Jordan is a uniquely appealing target for radical Islam because it is viewed from their perspective as a "collaborator state" and easily penetrated by radical Arab elements that can blend in undetected. Very few people in the know will be surprised at these attacks.

Image of the Day

It may be hard to take seriously, but it is fun to watch. Willie Nelson opens his ranch for a fundraiser for country singer and humorist Kinky "Texas Jewboy" Freidman, whos campaign slogan is "Kinky for Governor, Why The Hell Not?" The former Governor of Minnesota, Jessie "the body" Ventura (in the rear) also attended the event where over $170,000 was raised for Kinky's campaign for Governor of Texas. The latest Zogby poll has Freidman, amazingly, breaking 20% in the polls, making him a candidate to watch. The NeoCon is on top of this one like a fly on....

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

UN Asks for Israeli Troops

In a dramatic illustration of improved relations between the United Nations and Israel, the United Nations has requested that the Israel Defense Forces supply equipment and personnel for high priority UN Peace-Keeping missions around the world. It was only 10 years ago that the UN body was busy embarrasing itself by passing almost daily anti-Israel resolutions, and had declared Zionism to be a form of racism. This current UN request symbolizes the dramatic, almost unimaginable turn-around in UN-Israeli relations in the past few years.

Investigating a REAL Leak

As the Neocon Express has called for in an earlier posting, it seems as though the Congressional leadership is moving towards an investigation into a real CIA leak. Unlike the politically motivated, inconsequential, completely blown out of proportion Valerie Plame episode, this leak had real consequences. Where is the Democrat righteous indignation now?

Monday, November 07, 2005

FLASH!!! Cruise Ship Employ's New Secret Weapon In Fight Against Unidentified Attackers Off Coast of Africa.

In a story that just keeps on giving, it seems that Carnival Cruise Lines has a new weapon in its fleets arsenal to ward off pirates and potential terrorist threats; An ear-splitting microwave sound projector that becomes physically unbearable for those on the receiving end, forcing the attacker to retreat. The incident involving the Seabourn Spirit (owned by Carnival Cruise Lines) marks the first such use of this weapon on the high seas. Apparently it was commissioned by the US military in the wake of the attack on the USS Cole to ward off potential small craft threats. Undoubtedly, the effectiveness of this weapon and this incident is currently being carefully evaluated. Although presumed to be a pirate attack, it is still unclear if the incident represented an attempted terrorist assault.

Does Chicken Little Have Bird Flu?

It is tough for the average person to evaluate just how serious this bird flu scare is. Of course we should all be careful rather than sorry, but really, what can a person do? Should I go wash my hands every few minuets? This latest article from AP describing the latest World Health Organization meeting in Geneva is not encouraging.

Hellfires of the Eurabian Intifada

The NeoCon finds it a strange world when Gaza is more peaceful than Paris. It's beginning to look more and more like that major Euro-demographic wake-up call that so many have been warning about.

Riots Turn Deadly and Spread to Other Parts of Europe

Need we say more?

The French leadership seems paralyzed in the face of civil insurrection by mostly Muslim immigrants. Caught between two camps, those who wish to bring down the hammer and restore French Law, and French honor, and those who wish to "understand" and appease the rioters. Naturally the appeasement camp is led by the shifty eyed Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, who is standing to the left of President Jacques "the worm" Chairc. De Villepin led the anti-US, pro-Saddam efforts in the UN, in the lead-up to the ousture of Saddam Hussein.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Drama and Spirit on the High Seas

The Seabourn Spirit Attacked at sea today off the coast of Somalia!

Is there anybody who has thought to wonder aloud if this was in fact a failed Al Quaida assault on a cruise ship? The NeoCon Express tries to avoid conspiracy theories and realizes that conventional wisdom is probably correct in that it was indeed a straightforward pirate attack on the ship, because there have been similar attacks in the area against smaller ships. However, the NeoCon finds it strange that no red flags have been raised and no alternative or slightly unconventional possibilities have even been suggested in public. A coordinated Al Quaida attack on a cruise ship would be major news. According to all reports, this attack involved multiple small vessels and a number of teams utilizing rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons. Certainly a brazen attack that suggests a greater level of sophistication than perhaps first met the eye. Fortunately the attack failed because of the speedy and competent reaction of the Spirit Captain and the surprising maneuverability of the Seabourn Spirit itself. only one passenger sustained injury. Greater attention should be paid to this strange story, if only to prepare for the next and probably inevitable similar episode.

More Chickens Coming Home to Roost,

Dear France....

It has been three days since our last post on this subject, and the street-wars continue in France today with massive property destruction, although casualties have been thankfully low. The ongoing lawlessness and unrest serves as a strong symbol of Europe’s inherent contradiction of tolerating the intolerant. The below article by Mark Steyn of the Chicago Sun-Times is perhaps a bit overstated for now, but is clearly the trend to look for in Europe in the coming years:

Wake up, Europe, you've a war on your hands
November 6, 2005

Ever since 9/11, I've been gloomily predicting the European powder keg's about to go up. ''By 2010 we'll be watching burning buildings, street riots and assassinations on the news every night,'' I wrote in Canada's Western Standard back in February.
Silly me. The Eurabian civil war appears to have started some years ahead of my optimistic schedule. As Thursday's edition of the Guardian reported in London: ''French youths fired at police and burned over 300 cars last night as towns around Paris experienced their worst night of violence in a week of urban unrest.''
''French youths,'' huh? You mean Pierre and Jacques and Marcel and Alphonse? Granted that most of the "youths" are technically citizens of the French Republic, it doesn't take much time in les banlieus of Paris to discover that the rioters do not think of their primary identity as ''French'': They're young men from North Africa growing ever more estranged from the broader community with each passing year and wedded ever more intensely to an assertive Muslim identity more implacable than anything you're likely to find in the Middle East. After four somnolent years, it turns out finally that there really is an explosive ''Arab street,'' but it's in Clichy-sous-Bois.
The notion that Texas neocon arrogance was responsible for frosting up trans-Atlantic relations was always preposterous, even for someone as complacent and blinkered as John Kerry. If you had millions of seething unassimilated Muslim youths in lawless suburbs ringing every major city, would you be so eager to send your troops into an Arab country fighting alongside the Americans? For half a decade, French Arabs have been carrying on a low-level intifada against synagogues, kosher butchers, Jewish schools, etc. The concern of the political class has been to prevent the spread of these attacks to targets of more, ah, general interest. They seem to have lost that battle. Unlike America's Europhiles, France's Arab street correctly identified Chirac's opposition to the Iraq war for what it was: a sign of weakness.
The French have been here before, of course. Seven-thirty-two. Not 7:32 Paris time, which is when the nightly Citroen-torching begins, but 732 A.D. -- as in one and a third millennia ago. By then, the Muslims had advanced a thousand miles north of Gibraltar to control Spain and southern France up to the banks of the Loire. In October 732, the Moorish general Abd al-Rahman and his Muslim army were not exactly at the gates of Paris, but they were within 200 miles, just south of the great Frankish shrine of St. Martin of Tours. Somewhere on the road between Poitiers and Tours, they met a Frankish force and, unlike other Christian armies in Europe, this one held its ground ''like a wall . . . a firm glacial mass,'' as the Chronicle of Isidore puts it. A week later, Abd al-Rahman was dead, the Muslims were heading south, and the French general, Charles, had earned himself the surname ''Martel'' -- or ''the Hammer.''
Poitiers was the high-water point of the Muslim tide in western Europe. It was an opportunistic raid by the Moors, but if they'd won, they'd have found it hard to resist pushing on to Paris, to the Rhine and beyond. ''Perhaps,'' wrote Edward Gibbon in The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire, ''the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet.'' There would be no Christian Europe. The Anglo-Celts who settled North America would have been Muslim. Poitiers, said Gibbon, was ''an encounter which would change the history of the whole world.''
Battles are very straightforward: Side A wins, Side B loses. But the French government is way beyond anything so clarifying. Today, a fearless Muslim advance has penetrated far deeper into Europe than Abd al-Rahman. They're in Brussels, where Belgian police officers are advised not to be seen drinking coffee in public during Ramadan, and in Malmo, where Swedish ambulance drivers will not go without police escort. It's way too late to rerun the Battle of Poitiers. In the no-go suburbs, even before these current riots, 9,000 police cars had been stoned by ''French youths'' since the beginning of the year; some three dozen cars are set alight even on a quiet night. ''There's a civil war under way in Clichy-sous-Bois at the moment,'' said Michel Thooris of the gendarmes' trade union Action Police CFTC. ''We can no longer withstand this situation on our own. My colleagues neither have the equipment nor the practical or theoretical training for street fighting.''
What to do? In Paris, while ''youths'' fired on the gendarmerie, burned down a gym and disrupted commuter trains, the French Cabinet split in two, as the ''minister for social cohesion'' (a Cabinet position I hope America never requires) and other colleagues distance themselves from the interior minister, the tough-talking Nicolas Sarkozy who dismissed the rioters as ''scum.'' President Chirac seems to have come down on the side of those who feel the scum's grievances need to be addressed. He called for ''a spirit of dialogue and respect.'' As is the way with the political class, they seem to see the riots as an excellent opportunity to scuttle Sarkozy's presidential ambitions rather than as a call to save the Republic.
A few years back I was criticized for a throwaway observation to the effect that ''I find it easier to be optimistic about the futures of Iraq and Pakistan than, say, Holland or Denmark." But this is why. In defiance of traditional immigration patterns, these young men are less assimilated than their grandparents. French cynics like the prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, have spent the last two years scoffing at the Bush Doctrine: Why, everyone knows Islam and democracy are incompatible. If so, that's less a problem for Iraq or Afghanistan than for France and Belgium.
If Chirac isn't exactly Charles Martel, the rioters aren't doing a bad impression of the Muslim armies of 13 centuries ago: They're seizing their opportunities, testing their foe, probing his weak spots. If burning the 'burbs gets you more ''respect'' from Chirac, they'll burn 'em again, and again. In the current issue of City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple concludes a piece on British suicide bombers with this grim summation of the new Europe: ''The sweet dream of universal cultural compatibility has been replaced by the nightmare of permanent conflict.'' Which sounds an awful lot like a new Dark Ages.

The New Bafoon

Fidel Castro want-a-be, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, with the help of petrol-dollars is single-handedly resurrecting the communist menace in Latin America. A demagogue of the first order, he spent his time at the summit of the America's in Argentina working to stir up street demonstrations against the US President. Naturally, the only people to suffer were small merchants who had their storefront windows smashed, and sometimes torched. This man needs to be countered more aggressively, and the CIA should be busy dusting off old anti-communist game-plans for rogue Latin America regimes like Chavez's Venezuela.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

In The Heat of the Night

As France goes into a second week of out-of-control riots, the French chickens have clearly come home to roost. With close to 10% of it's entire population being largely unassimilated Muslim immigrants, France, and Europe as a whole will increasingly need to grapple with this demographic time bomb. How can a liberal, secular, pluralistic society with negative domestic population growth, absorb ever increasing populations of immigrants from lands that, culturally speaking, represent the complete opposite of the values that the host country (France in this case) purports to hold so dear. These riots may turn out to be a small footnote in the much larger issue of Europe’s growing demographic dilemma, or, they could represent a pivotal eye-opening moment, in which Europeans awaken to the changes that have occurred and choose to change direction.

A Much Bigger Leak to Worry About

The below article from the Washington Post fails to raise a few serious matters; If these are indeed Top Secret CIA prison facilities, than who leaked this secret CIA information to the press? The CIA was very quick to call for an investigation into who leaked the name of Valerie Plame, who was essentially a glorified pencil-pushing paper-shuffling desk clerk at the CIA offices in Washington, claiming that the revelation of her name was a serious "compromise of national security." On the other hand the public revelation of CIA secret prisons seems to me to be a far more serious matter, and a far greater damaging revelation to national security than the entire Joe Wilson - Valerie Plame affair, yet unlike the Plame affair, the CIA is not calling for an independent council to investigate who leaked this far more serious secret to the press. And why are the Democrats failing to call for an investigation into this leak?

“CIA accused of secretly imprisoning terror suspects”

The White House citing security concerns have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions about the conditions under which captives are held.

The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA’s unconventional war on terrorism.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al-Qaida captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to US and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe, as well as a small center at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, according to current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents.

The hidden global internment network is a central element in the CIA’s unconventional war on terrorism. It depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA’s covert actions.

The existence and locations of the facilities – referred to as “black sites” in classified White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional documents – are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long.

Abuse scandals

While the Defense Department has produced volumes of public reports and testimony about its detention practices and rules after the abuse scandals at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and at Guantanamo Bay, the CIA has not even acknowledged the existence of its black sites. To do so, say officials familiar with the program, could open the US government to legal challenges, particularly in foreign courts, and increase the risk of political condemnation at home and abroad.

But the revelations of widespread prisoner abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq by the US military – which operates under published rules and transparent oversight of Congress – have increased concern among lawmakers, foreign governments and human rights groups about the opaque CIA system. Those concerns escalated last month, when Vice President Dick Cheney and CIA Director Porter Goss asked Congress to exempt CIA employees from legislation already endorsed by 90 senators that would bar cruel and degrading treatment of any prisoner in US custody.

Although the CIA will not acknowledge details of its system, intelligence officials defend the agency’s approach, arguing that the successful defense of the country requires that the agency be empowered to hold and interrogate suspected terrorists for as long as necessary and without restrictions imposed by the US legal system or even by the military tribunals established for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.

The Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior US officials. They argued that the disclosure might disrupt counterterrorism efforts in those countries and elsewhere and could make them targets of possible terrorist retaliation.

The secret detention system was conceived in the chaotic and anxious first months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when the working assumption was that a second strike was imminent.

Since then, the arrangement has been increasingly debated within the CIA, where considerable concern lingers about the legality, morality and practicality of holding even unrepentant terrorists in such isolation and secrecy, perhaps for the duration of their lives. Mid-level and senior CIA officers began arguing two years ago that the system was unsustainable and diverted the agency from its unique espionage mission.

“We never sat down, as far as I know, and came up with a grand strategy,” said one former senior intelligence officer who is familiar with the program but not the location of the prisons. “Everything was very reactive. That’s how you get to a situation where you pick people up, send them into a netherworld and don’t say, “What are we going to do with them afterwards?”

It is illegal for the government to hold prisoners in such isolation in secret prisons in the United States, which is why the CIA placed them overseas, according to several former and current intelligence officials and other US government officials. Legal experts and intelligence officials said that the CIA’s internment practices also would be considered illegal under the laws of several host countries, where detainees have rights to have a lawyer or to mount a defense against allegations of wrongdoing.

Secrecy surroundings

Host countries have signed the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as has the United States. Yet CIA interrogators in the overseas sites are permitted to use the CIA’s approved “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques,” some of which are prohibited by the UN convention and by US military law. They include tactics such as “waterboarding,” in which a prisoner is made to believe he or she is drowning.

Some detainees apprehended by the CIA and transferred to foreign intelligence agencies have alleged after their release that they were tortured, although it is unclear whether CIA personnel played a role in the alleged abuse. Given the secrecy surrounding CIA detentions, such accusations have heightened concerns among foreign governments and human rights groups about CIA detention and interrogation practices.

The contours of the CIA’s detention program have emerged in bits and pieces over the past two years. Parliaments in Canada, Italy, France, Sweden and the Netherlands have opened inquiries into alleged CIA operations that secretly captured their citizens or legal residents and transferred them to the agency’s prisons.

More than 100 suspected terrorists have been sent by the CIA into the covert system, according to current and former US intelligence officials and foreign sources. This figure, a rough estimate based on information from sources who said their knowledge of the numbers was incomplete, does not include prisoners picked up in Iraq.

Theo Van Gogh's killer:
Mohammed Bouyer

A Year of Living Dangerously
Remember Theo van Gogh, and shudder for the future.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

One year ago today, the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh had his throat ritually slit by Mohamed Bouyeri, a Muslim born in Holland who spoke fluent Dutch. This event has totally transformed Dutch politics, leading to stepped-up police controls that have now virtually shut off new immigration there. Together with the July 7 bombings in London (also perpetrated by second generation Muslims who were British citizens), this event should also change dramatically our view of the nature of the threat from radical Islamism.

We have tended to see jihadist terrorism as something produced in dysfunctional parts of the world, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan or the Middle East, and exported to Western countries. Protecting ourselves is a matter either of walling ourselves off, or, for the Bush administration, going "over there" and trying to fix the problem at its source by promoting democracy.

There is good reason for thinking, however, that a critical source of contemporary radical Islamism lies not in the Middle East, but in Western Europe. In addition to Bouyeri and the London bombers, the March 11 Madrid bombers and ringleaders of the September 11 attacks such as Mohamed Atta were radicalized in Europe. In the Netherlands, where upwards of 6% of the population is Muslim, there is plenty of radicalism despite the fact that Holland is both modern and democratic. And there exists no option for walling the Netherlands off from this problem.

We profoundly misunderstand contemporary Islamist ideology when we see it as an assertion of traditional Muslim values or culture. In a traditional Muslim country, your religious identity is not a matter of choice; you receive it, along with your social status, customs and habits, even your future marriage partner, from your social environment. In such a society there is no confusion as to who you are, since your identity is given to you and sanctioned by all of the society's institutions, from the family to the mosque to the state.

The same is not true for a Muslim who lives as an immigrant in a suburb of Amsterdam or Paris. All of a sudden, your identity is up for grabs; you have seemingly infinite choices in deciding how far you want to try to integrate into the surrounding, non-Muslim society. In his book "Globalized Islam" (2004), the French scholar Olivier Roy argues persuasively that contemporary radicalism is precisely the product of the "deterritorialization" of Islam, which strips Muslim identity of all of the social supports it receives in a traditional Muslim society.

The identity problem is particularly severe for second- and third-generation children of immigrants. They grow up outside the traditional culture of their parents, but unlike most newcomers to the United States, few feel truly accepted by the surrounding society.

Contemporary Europeans downplay national identity in favor of an open, tolerant, "post-national" Europeanness. But the Dutch, Germans, French and others all retain a strong sense of their national identity, and, to differing degrees, it is one that is not accessible to people coming from Turkey, Morocco or Pakistan. Integration is further inhibited by the fact that rigid European labor laws have made low-skill jobs hard to find for recent immigrants or their children. A significant proportion of immigrants are on welfare, meaning that they do not have the dignity of contributing through their labor to the surrounding society. They and their children understand themselves as outsiders.

It is in this context that someone like Osama bin Laden appears, offering young converts a universalistic, pure version of Islam that has been stripped of its local saints, customs and traditions. Radical Islamism tells them exactly who they are--respected members of a global Muslim umma to which they can belong despite their lives in lands of unbelief. Religion is no longer supported, as in a true Muslim society, through conformity to a host of external social customs and observances; rather it is more a question of inward belief. Hence Mr. Roy's comparison of modern Islamism to the Protestant Reformation, which similarly turned religion inward and stripped it of its external rituals and social supports.

If this is in fact an accurate description of an important source of radicalism, several conclusions follow. First, the challenge that Islamism represents is not a strange and unfamiliar one. Rapid transition to modernity has long spawned radicalization; we have seen the exact same forms of alienation among those young people who in earlier generations became anarchists, Bolsheviks, fascists or members of the Bader-Meinhof gang. The ideology changes but the underlying psychology does not.

Further, radical Islamism is as much a product of modernization and globalization as it is a religious phenomenon; it would not be nearly as intense if Muslims could not travel, surf the Web, or become otherwise disconnected from their culture. This means that "fixing" the Middle East by bringing modernization and democracy to countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia will not solve the terrorism problem, but may in the short run make the problem worse. Democracy and modernization in the Muslim world are desirable for their own sake, but we will continue to have a big problem with terrorism in Europe regardless of what happens there.

The real challenge for democracy lies in Europe, where the problem is an internal one of integrating large numbers of angry young Muslims and doing so in a way that does not provoke an even angrier backlash from right-wing populists. Two things need to happen: First, countries like Holland and Britain need to reverse the counterproductive multiculturalist policies that sheltered radicalism, and crack down on extremists. But second, they also need to reformulate their definitions of national identity to be more accepting of people from non-Western backgrounds.

The first has already begun to happen. In recent months, both the Dutch and British have in fact come to an overdue recognition that the old version of multiculturalism they formerly practiced was dangerous and counterproductive. Liberal tolerance was interpreted as respect not for the rights of individuals, but of groups, some of whom were themselves intolerant (by, for example, dictating whom their daughters could befriend or marry). Out of a misplaced sense of respect for other cultures, Muslims minorities were left to regulate their own behavior, an attitude which dovetailed with a traditional European corporatist approaches to social organization. In Holland, where the state supports separate Catholic, Protestant and socialist schools, it was easy enough to add a Muslim "pillar" that quickly turned into a ghetto disconnected from the surrounding society.

New policies to reduce the separateness of the Muslim community, like laws discouraging the importation of brides from the Middle East, have been put in place in the Netherlands. The Dutch and British police have been given new powers to monitor, detain and expel inflammatory clerics. But the much more difficult problem remains of fashioning a national identity that will connect citizens of all religions and ethnicities in a common democratic culture, as the American creed has served to unite new immigrants to the United States.

Since van Gogh's murder, the Dutch have embarked on a vigorous and often impolitic debate on what it means to be Dutch, with some demanding of immigrants not just an ability to speak Dutch, but a detailed knowledge of Dutch history and culture that many Dutch people do not have themselves. But national identity has to be a source of inclusion, not exclusion; nor can it be based, contrary to the assertion of the gay Dutch politician Pym Fortuyn who was assassinated in 2003, on endless tolerance and valuelessness. The Dutch have at least broken through the stifling barrier of political correctness that has prevented most other European countries from even beginning a discussion of the interconnected issues of identity, culture and immigration. But getting the national identity question right is a delicate and elusive task.
Many Europeans assert that the American melting pot cannot be transported to European soil. Identity there remains rooted in blood, soil and ancient shared memory. This may be true, but if so, democracy in Europe will be in big trouble in the future as Muslims become an ever larger percentage of the population. And since Europe is today one of the main battlegrounds of the war on terrorism, this reality will matter for the rest of us as well.

Mr. Fukuyama is professor of international political economy at Johns Hopkins and chairman of the editorial board of The American Interest.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

So Jimmy Carter is out with his latest book. The NeoCon Express scanned the web to find the favorite review and came up with this one from Bret Stephens from the Wall Street Journal. I hope you enjoy it.

The World According to J.C.
"Tedious" doesn't begin to describe the new book by America's worst ex-president.

Wednesday, November 2, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

Jimmy Carter's 20th book is a tedious meditation about the appropriate uses of moral values in political life--as wisely and humbly exemplified by Himself--and of their misuses under the current Bush administration.

But tedious isn't quite the right word here, because it suggests mere boredom while Mr. Carter's prose manages to be irritating as well. Is there an English-language equivalent to the German Rechthaberei, which loosely translates as the state of thinking and behaving as if you're in the right and everyone else is in the wrong? Yet even such a term doesn't quite capture the sanctimony, the self-congratulation, the humorlessness, the convenient factual omissions and the passive-aggressive quirks that characterize our 39th president's aggressively passive world view. Mr. Carter is sui generis. He deserves his own word.

Everything about "Our Endangered Values" is wrong, beginning, obviously, with the title. The values Mr. Carter says are "ours" are certainly not mine and probably not yours and therefore, necessarily, not ours. In fact, it is not at all obvious that the things Mr. Carter speaks of even qualify as values, properly speaking, unless you believe that "economic justice" is a value, or you subscribe to Marxist liberation theology (Mr. Carter considers the Catholic priests who practiced this theology to be "heroes"), or you would like to pay your "personal respects" to Syria's dictator (never mind that he just had the prime minister of Lebanon assassinated), or you can think of nothing bad to say about Saddam Hussein except, perhaps, that he is "obnoxious."
Subtracting "Our" and "Values" from the title, then, the reader is left with "Endangered," the form of the verb here characteristically rendered in the former president's favorite voice. Who, or what, is doing the endangering? Mr. Carter's animating concern is the rise of fundamentalism in religion and politics, but don't suppose that this has anything to do with Islamic fundamentalism. What chiefly exercises Mr. Carter's indignation are neoconservatives, the Southern Baptist Convention and their allegedly converging and insidious influence on government. Together, Mr. Carter believes, they have contrived to set America loose "from the restraints of international organizations" like the United Nations and "global agreements" such as the Kyoto Protocol, apparently for the purpose of eradicating the separation of church and state and creating "a dominant American empire throughout the world."

This is an odd complaint, given the source. Mr. Carter admits that as president he worked "behind the scenes" with the head of the Southern Baptist Convention to develop a program called Bold Mission Thrust, "designed to expand the global evangelistic effort of Baptists." Weirdly, Mr. Carter offers this anecdote in the context of his ostensible opposition to the "melding of church and state," which, he gravely notes, "is of deep concern to those who have always relished their separation as one of our moral values."

As for neocons, Mr. Carter is nearly one himself, so obsessed does he claim to be with human rights. But much as he may hate the sin, he loves the sinner. Think of his view of various world figures from his White House years: Yugoslavia's Josip Tito ("a man who believes in human rights"); Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu ("our goals are the same"); the PLO's Yasser Arafat (a "misunderstood" figure for whom Mr. Carter once moonlighted as a speechwriter). And then there is Kim Il Sung ("vigorous," "intelligent"), whose relationship with Mr. Carter is reprised in this book.

"Responding to several years of invitations from North Korean president Kim Il Sung . . . Rosalynn and I went to Pyongyang and helped to secure an agreement from President Kim that North Korea would cease its nuclear program at Yongbyon and permit IAEA inspectors to return to the site." Leaving aside the interesting question of why that Dear Leader would be so solicitous of this one, what's chiefly notable about this sentence is that it is one of the few here that isn't demonstrably false or misleading in respect to U.S. dealings with the North.

In Mr. Carter's telling, the 1994 Yongbyon Agreed Framework--in which Pyongyang agreed to trade its nuclear-weapons program for oil shipments, security guarantees and the construction of two light-water reactors--was generally going according to plan, only to be gratuitously upended the moment the Bush administration arrived in Washington. "Shipments of the pledged fuel oil were terminated, along with construction of the alternate nuclear power plants," writes Mr. Carter.

In fact, North Korea violated the Agreed Framework almost from the moment it was signed by pursuing a secret, parallel weapons program. For its part, the Bush administration continued to honor the framework's commitments; in 2002, a State Department official even attended the groundbreaking for one of the promised reactors. Only later, when the U.S. presented the North with evidence of its cheating, and the North admitted to the cheating, did the fuel shipments and reactor construction stop.

There is more of this--personal slurs, particularly against U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, factual omissions (Mr. Carter accuses the Bush administration of making hardly any effort to reduce nuclear-weapons stockpiles but doesn't mention the 2002 Moscow Treaty, which involves the most dramatic nuclear cuts in history), trite sophistries ("a rising tide raises all yachts") and the invariable, habitual, irrepressible blaming of America first for everything from degrading the environment to alienating Syria. At a certain point it all begins to ooze and blur, in the way the speeches and doings of Al Sharpton or Michael Moore ooze and blur. Past a certain point, you just stop keeping track.
Mr. Carter, however, is no gold-plated race hustler or quack documentary maker. He is--as he constantly reminds us, as if our memories aren't still vivid--the 39th president of the United States and winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. Bill Clinton may have the heart of the Democratic Party, but Mr. Carter captures the Zeitgeist of the global left. "Our Endangered Values" is a distressing piece of work for many reasons, most of all because it cannot be safely ignored.

Mr. Stephens is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board.