THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 596 November 9 - 15, 2009
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November 9, 2009
The Fall of the Wall
The Cold War -- Seventy Years War -- shaped my life, and was certainly the most influential historical event of my lifetime. The Beginning of the End of the Cold War happened twenty years ago on this date, when Gorbachev gave up Soviet dictatorship of Warsaw Pact nations. When the Wall came down, the Soviet Empire began unravelling. No more Prague Spring, no more Hungarian Uprising of 1956. In both those cases the other members of the Warsaw Pact used their soldiers to suppress other members of the Empire; classic imperial strategy. Koestler predicted that glassnost would end totalitarianism. Of course the regime could hang on bereft of its belief systems so long as the Russian troops were loyal enough to intimidate the puppet regimes so that the puppet regime troops would suppress centrifugal tendencies, but doing that required a will to rule that was rapidly vanishing even among the Nomenklatura.
For much of my life there were over 20,000 nuclear weapons aimed at the United States. Young men and women sat in concrete holes deep below ground listening for Emergency War Orders they hoped they would never hear. Bomber crews lived out at the ends of the runways, and nuclear submarines tried to avoid their Soviet shadows knowing full well that the USSR had missiles targeted on their last known location. Those who didn't live in those times will not understand just what a relief the end of the Cold War was. When the Wall came down it was clear that the end of the Cold War was near. Rejoice.
From Saturday's Mail:
I didn't comment at the time because I didn't think a comment was needed, but apparently a few readers -- and a number of people I never heard from before -- are upset. First they have truncated what was said into "Not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims," a straw man easy to kick apart. They then spray words like "this little platitude", and "stupid and baseless" without addressing the central issue of "extra scrutiny rather than extra tolerance."
It would seem to me rather obvious that if we are going to disarm our troops and concentrate them into target areas known to be safe to terrorists, we might give some thought to access to those target areas. Yes, of course there are Muslims loyal to the United States. Yes, there are anti-abortion terrorists. Yes there are Green terrorists. All these facts need to be considered in framing our policies.
There were plenty of indications that Major Hassan was behaving in an odd manner. Nothing was done about that. In my judgment it is not stupid to ask why nothing was done. It is not stupid to pay attention to probabilities. It is certainly not less stupid to attempt to confiscate a retired general's Medal of Honor at an airport in the name of political correctness. "Extra scrutiny rather than extra tolerance" may not be the proper policy, but suggesting that as a policy does not deserve the kind of obloquy I have been receiving. Of course it's usual to denounce any questioning of political correctness. That, after all, is the politically correct thing to do...
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|This week:||Tuesday, November
Are all Muslims enemies of everyone not part of the House of Submission to Islam?
In one sense this is a very silly question: that is, anyone who cares to can find someone who calls himself a Muslim and who is generally agreed to be a Muslim who does not consider everyone not part of the Dar al-Islam to be an enemy to be put to tribute or converted to Islam. Moreover, it's not hard to find honorably discharged Muslim veterans of the US Armed forces, and with a bit more effort one can find heroes among their number. They don't consider the rest of us enemies to be converted by force. The question is mindless and stupid.
And yet, then the question becomes, are those people Muslims? Surely another silly question? They say they are. Their friends say they are. They attend services at mosques, some faithfully and some occasionally, some hardly at all. Surely, then, they are Muslims as certainly as any church going Catholic or for that matter a Catholic who hasn't been to confession or mass in thirty years but insists he is still a member of the church is Christian?
But it all depends on how you define "Muslim" and even more importantly, how the Muslim scholars who define Islam define Muslim; and there the question is not so silly. The Koran is explicit on the subject: all true Muslims must make war on the unbelievers and force them either to convert or to pay tribute. There can be truce in that war, but never peace. This is the nature of Islam. In other words, if you are not at war with the unbelievers you are not a Muslim, and thus the answer to our first question is "yes." Perhaps it is not a silly question at all.
Of course many religions have exhortations and commands that may remain on paper but aren't taken very seriously. The Old Testament condemns witches to death. Other sections seem to promise true believers immunity to poisons and the stings of serpents. Few take any of this seriously. Why be concerned about such commands in the Koran? How can that be different?
Alas, it is different, because while I know of few important Christian officials who command the faithful to slay witches, there are numbers of highly regarded Muslim scholars who command jihad against the infidel, and a very great many people take them seriously. Ask Salman Rushdie about that; a fatwah -- a religious edict -- from the supreme Ayatollah of Iran proclaimed it a duty of all true believers either to kill Rushdie or to point him out to someone who could if you couldn't do it yourself. Note also that this isn't a story from a novel. The ayatollahs who issue proclamations concerning the duty of jihad against unbelievers are not part of a secret organization, and the orders are not given in secret to an albino monk. It's all quite open and public. And sometimes there are real consequences, as we saw at Fort Hood.
The question becomes, what can be done? The facts remain. Most Muslims are not terrorists -- but a reasonably large number of Muslims including some very high ranking scholars consider that anyone not a terrorist is not a Muslim, and that anyone who thinks he is a Muslim must take this question seriously. This may well be what happened to Major Hassan. By the standards of some highly respected scholars, he was a heretic if not an apostate, and the only remedy was to join the jihad against the unbelievers who were making war on his fellow religionists. I suppose an equivalent would be a protestant infantry officer in the ranks of Tilley's army during the Thirty Years War. A more modern case might be if the United States found itself on the other side in a war with Israel. Many Americans, both Jewish and Christian, would find that they were forbidden by God to take part in any such exercise.
Interestingly, as I write this, I find that Hassan's Power Point presentation to fellow officers in a formal conference over a year ago was an exposition on the Koran as it affects Muslims in the US Army, including the question of just what is Islam. He took the question seriously. One wonders if others might.
What should be done? I don't know the answer to this question. I do think it's important that we find out. I do have a modest proposal. When troops are to be deployed, there is a long check list of things that one must do. They include making a will, naming a beneficiary of one's insurance, being certain that one's shot record is up to date, having one's dental records certified, and a number of such mundane issues. I propose that we add one: that each soldier pledge allegiance, and renew the oath of enlistment, both verbally by swearing before an officer, and by signing it. This wouldn't take five minutes -- it's not as if you're asking the soldier to do anything not previously done -- and the cost of adding this to the deployment activities would be trivial (after all, they're all being paid, and the whole checkout is a 'hurry up and wait' process and always has been). There's no additional records to be kept, just another box to be checked off.
Would requiring a renewal of the oath have any effect? On most troops, not at all, of course. It would be just one more damned thing to get done. On some, though, there definitely would be an effect. Those who take oaths and religious duties seriously would have to think hard about their duties. Hassan would have taken it seriously: he openly advocated that Muslims be allowed conscientious objector status in the Iraq and Afghani wars -- incidentally, a position that isn't automatically absurd. (In my day, conscientious objector conscripts sometimes ended up as medics, and more than one performed heroically in that task.) Hassan might have expressed some concern and reservation when required to renew his oath, and he might have refused to do it: which should have been a significant sign that more investigation was needed.
That's not enough, of course. But it's a start. We need to take the question seriously. Major Hassan did.
I have been asked in mail if treason can be a solitary act. I would think so. It's of course simpler to charge Hassan with murder, but I see no reason why he ought not also be charged with treason. John Brown was hanged for treason after his raid on the Harper's Ferry arsenal, and he was not acting in concert with any other organization: he did hope to inspire others to rise in revolt and do as he did. I make no doubt that Hassan would have been pleased if he could bring about a general uprising of Muslim troops in the US armed forces. I'd call that levying war against the United States.
Now the record comes out. Even the FBI became concerned -- nothing was done as the evidence that Hassan was dangerous mounted. What would Israel have done in this case?
If you think you have flu, this may help you decide.
And in other news, the niece of the Mayor of Cleveland is said to have lived with the mass murderer, in the midst of all that smell. I await further news. With 'bated breath.
November 11, 2009
Be sure to buy a poppy.
I do not care to comment on Obama's speech at Fort Hood. I suppose it was the best his team could write, but I do not think the speech was of great comfort or inspiration to the Legions.
It is time for our walk.
You can't assume that every Muslim is a terrorist. That's obvious. Unless you begin looking at the definition of "Muslim." But I said all that yesterday. Hassan had a religious crisis; apparently he resolved it by deciding that a true Muslim must become part of jihad. I do not think the nation is well served by ignoring that.
Ideas have consequences.
Oops. Thanks. I've fixed it.
November 12, 2009
They have charged Major Hassan with murder, not treason. I think that's a mistake.
There are 3500 Muslims in the US military. It is unlikely that any great number believe in the strict interpretation of the Koran: by which I mean that the fundamental command is to bring the entire world into the House of Submission, either through conversion or by levying tribute on unbelievers. There can be no peace between the House of Islam and the unbelievers. There won't be many in the armed forces who believe that, but we have seen the consequences of not paying attention to the matter.
The Department of Justice has the resources to look into the possibility of prosecuting members of the previous administration, but apparently not enough to look into the activities of an army psychiatrist making contact with declared enemies of the United States, but in fairness this is not a new problem, and the previous administration didn't deal with it either.
It is not a crime to be a Muslim. It is not a crime for a nominal moderate Muslim to begin taking the Koran literally. It is not a crime for him to seek advice on what it means to be a Muslim. It is not a crime even for an army major to do that. This is not a matter for criminal investigation with all the safeguards that implies. Yet surely it is a reason for concern, and it becomes a matter of investigating and neutralizing threats.
This is a serious matter. We do not want to be unfair to loyal soldiers, but we cannot ignore the situation. I leave its resolution to the professionals, but it would be comforting to know that there is serious thought at appropriate levels.
I've been working hard on fiction. Progress is being made. Meanwhile, there is mail on many subjects.
About thirty years ago when I was science correspondence for a national weekly newspaper, I came across a study of pollens and leaves retrieved from deep cores taken from Belgian lakes. They clearly showed that the last Ice Age came on quickly, with the area going from deciduous trees to under sheet ice in well under 100 years. Alas, I do not have my notes and references, and I haven't been able to track down the original study. I did read it. The principle author wsa a female Belgian scientist whose name I cannot recall. (I recall that the name was feminine, in part because women were less common in science in those days == there were panels at AAAS meetings to promote women in science, and I recall showing the paper to one of the members of such a panel at an annual AAAS meeting.)
I would like to find it again. There is increasing evidence that "tipping" to a warm climate doesn't happen fast, fast, fast, but the spiral from leafy trees to tens of meters of ice can be very rapid. That paper was my first indication of this. I'd like to find it again.
November 13, 2009
Friday the 13th falls on Friday this month
This place will be slowing down for a few days. I am going to Tyson's Corners, Virginia, to take part in a conference. I'll be back Tuesday evening. Answering email and updating this place will depend on connectivity at airports, and whether I can make a router work at the motel, and that sort of thing. All worked out well on my last trip, so I don't expect problems, but I'm not sure of my time management for the duration.
The White House has announced that the "Gitmo Five" charged with responsibility in the destruction of the Twin Towers will be tried in Federal Court in New York City. We may now expect legal complexities as lawyers demand a change of venue (obvious), pleas as to jurisdiction, and no doubt many other arcane points. This will certainly expose a great number of practices to court study. We may expect this to go on for a long time. Is information obtained from water boarding subject to the "fruit of the poisoned tree" argument? Given the time they have been held, can anyone claim they have had any right to a speedy trial? Will any of this affect the trials of other detainees who won't be tried in open court?
It will take a while to transfer the suspects/detainees from the Guantanamo detention complex to somewhere in New York City, because so far there have been no formal charges: if they come under the jurisdiction of US Courts, they are subject to habeas corpus, and at the moment there is no response to that writ: they aren't charged with defined crimes, at least in the 9/11 attacks. There have to be indictments. Then there has to be discovery, hearings of motions, and all this in a short while unless the detainees waive their right to a speedy trial. Many of the overt actions committed in connection with the the 9/11 attack took place in foreign countries, where there's no possibility of compelling the attendance of witnesses they may want to call in their defense. If any of the evidence is from confessions, is that admissible? If the Department of Justice asks for the death penalty there is automatic appeals. Etc. The questions that can be raised seem endless. We live in interesting times.
The White House has also announced its determination to tackle the issue of comprehensive immigration reform next year. The intent is to ram something through before the 2010 Congressional elections, because after those elections the votes probably won't be there. Even California opposes a new amnesty. Remember Proposition 187? But Pelosi is sure they have the votes now, and This Time For Sure. Once again, we live in interesting times.
I just heard a radio announcement that the wounded at Fort Hood will NOT receive Purple Hearts. I do not have a source nor have I heard the arguments. I presume the argument is that they weren't deployed against an enemy, and Major Hassan was not an armed enemy of the United States. If so, this is more political correctness. Perhaps that decision can be overturned.
I always feel better for doing these, and this is the best demonstration I have ever seen. By a 73 year old lady.
As usual, there is mail, much of interest. I wasn't inspired to an essay today. It takes longer to pack and get ready for a trip than it used to.
November 14, 2009
I am about to go to bed. I'll be up at 0 dawn thirty for my flight to Washington National. I've posted some mail.
It's apparently true, they've decided that Dr. Hassan's attack was not enemy action so the wounded are not eligible for the Purple Heart. If that wasn't enemy action, what is? This was an attack on US military personnel by a terrorist during a war on terrorists. It was an act of treason, and an act of war against the United States.
I expect I should do an essay on entangling alliances. It's one of the things that having platinum subscribers allows me to do. I will start putting together notes this weekend. Thank you.
And now for bed. I've posted a bunch of mail.
November 15, 2009
I'm in Tyson's Corners, waiting for a visit from family members who live in the DC area. The news is interesting. I see that a general consensus is forming on Afghanistan: that we cannot make the kind of commitment it will take to transform Afghanistan into a liberal democracy allied with the US.
What will happen? Probably a compromise. Some extra troops will be sent so that it can be spun that a surge did not work. This will cost blood and treasure spent to buy some kind of credibility to the administration and to the United States. I doubt that it will buy much face saving for the nation, but I can hope it does so.
The only real interest the United States has in Afghanistan is that neither the central government nor the provinces harbor our enemies. That can be done with silver bullets. Note I said silver bullets, not pieces of silver. Bullets can be fired, if need be.
It is not really in our interest to force the Afghan provinces into subservience to Kabul, even if that were in our power, which is doubtful. We need a way out that relieves us of most responsibilities in Afghanistan and saves as much of our reputation as we can save. I wish Obama well in finding such a solution; it appears that he wants that as much as we do. I think the Republicans ought to make that as easy on him as they can. In this case, politics probably should end at the water's edge.
That does not in any way diminish my opposition to the health care grab, the carbon tax, and the continued attempts to Nationalize America. Unlike foreign policy, these are very much the stuff of politics.
Regarding the show trial in New York: it is not obvious that this is the best way to dispose of the matter. If that sounds ambiguous not to say wishy-washy, perhaps: as I say, it is not obvious. The 9/11 attacks, like the Fort Hood Massacre, were acts of war against the United States. We do not traditionally deal with such enemies in the open courts. They are not citizens. Dr. Hassan is, and is entitled to his day in court -- in, my judgment, to a trial for treason. He can always be tried in Texas for murder. The Federal charge ought to be for levying war against the United States.
I presume that the Administration and the public authorities of New York have considered the security implications of these show trials. We can all think of increasingly horrifying scenarios. I thought of one last night that I don't think I'll publish just yet. That's either squeamishness or arrogance, I guess: I really don't think that anything I can think of in the course of dinner with my son Phillip is beyond the ability of determined terrorists to come up with. They have a better idea of their resources and technologies than I do. Do not underestimate your enemies -- nor take counsel from your fears. How's that for ambiguities? Yet each principle is true and important to a stragtegist.
I will also note that the conviction rate in DC on drug charges is in essence zero in jury trials. Contemplate that when considering the upcoming show trials in New York. Contemplate the OJ Simpson trial in Los Angeles. The administration is bold.
Sarah Palin's newest book is already a best seller and it is not yet in stores. She is a strikingly accomplished young woman. She would not be my first choice for President of these United States, but that should not be taken as condemnation -- I wouldn't be my first choice either. I will get her book next week.
There seems to be a tizzy about President Obama bowing to the Emperor of Japan.
I can't think why. John Adams went through the usual ceremonies including three bows when he present his credentials as Ambassador to the Court of St. James after the Revolutionary War. He took some satisfaction over the fact that His Majesty had no choice but to deal with Mad Dog Adams. The United States has generally gone along with the accepted protocols. At the Congress of Vienna everyone was concerned about precedence who should bow to whom. It's the kind of fetish the US has tended to avoid -- it was Adams who declined to address President Washington as His Excellency or any of the other appellations fashionable at the time among Republics and addressed the President simply as "Mr. President."
It is true that we have no "Chief of State" other than the President, and thus we can't shuffle off some of those niceties onto a Royal Family; but we have managed it for a long time. If Obama chooses to go along with the protocol niceties of court procedure, that does no harm to the United States. It's what he agrees to that disturbs me, not his adherence to protocols of long precedence.
Incidentally, even into the early Twentieth Century the Prime Minister of England presented his reports to the reigning monarch on his knees...
The President made a good speech as Chief Mourner in the Fort Hood Massacre.
It's time for bed. I have to get up very early tomorrow.
If the administration admits that Hasan committed treason and an act of war against the United States, there are implications that at least some of his advisors do not want to hear.
That would apply to allowing the Purple Heart for the Fort Hood victims:
it would have the same implications. Either this is a war on terrorism or --
I still wonder: suppose they got to Afghanistan and Hasan had shot them down in Kabul just after they landed. Would they get Purple Hearts? If they were killed in a travel way station? On board a US troop carrier on the way to Afghanistan? On an airplane to Afghanistan from the US? What if the airplane was still flying over the United States? Or was on US soil on a runway, ready to take off for Afghanistan or Iraq, and a Muslim soldier aboard jumped up, yelled Allahu Akbar!, and started shooting? I ask not to be witty but to make a point.
And now to bed.
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