Tarheeltalker

Confused about Libya? Me too!

And just think what the people in the Ivory Coast must be wondering when they see us involved  in Libya, but not in their country. After several days of air strikes,cruise missile launchings, actual reports of French jets hitting  their  targets, do we have  a clue about the final outcome and even why we are involved? Why are we involved actually is what I have wondered all along + why the President did  not consult with the Congress before beginning whatever this is.

Of course this “adventure”  of ours  stems from what to all intents and purposes is  a Libyan civil war, between forces loyal to Hugo Chavez’ best friend, Col Gaddafi, and those intent on recreating the Egyptian experience of just a few weeks ago. Unlike the events in Egypt, there is a much stronger force intent on maintaining the status quo. So, of all sources to ask us, among others, to intervene, the Arab League called for the imposition of  a no fly zone to prevent the Libyan air force from massacring those opposing the Colonel.

So, American, French and British set out to do just that, ground the Libyan air force. What would be almost amusing, were it so deadly serious, is how quickly the Arab League got more than it expected. Libyan planes were shot down, antiaircraft guns were silenced and some people were killed. I  have no intention of poking fun at all, but how exactly did the Arab League expect a no fly zone to be established?  Just ask the Libyan pilots nicely to stay on the ground?

Anyway, the no fly zone was established and then what ensued? Gaddafi’s forces have continued to fight, NATO nad its allies are bickering and whatever we and our NATO  allies are doing goes on, with no specific end or goal.

And, if you missed it while watching events in Libya, not all that far away in Syria, there are anti government protests, accompanied by a government crackdown. Just ask yourself, at what point do we intervene there? Who will have to ask and how much turmoil will have to ensue and how will the decision be made? Will Congress  have  a voice next time;when there is  a next time? Mr President, the people of the Ivory Coast  are on line one.

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March 24, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Insight on Inciting

Before  a couple  of days ago, I had never heard  of Rep Michael Capuano(D, MA). But he has made some comments that I find quite interesting and  frankly, somewhat disturbing. First, a bit of background about Rep Capuano. He is in his 7th term as the representative of the  eighth congressional district, succeeding one Joseph Kennedy III. Prior to his service in Congress  he served as mayor  of  Somerville, ma from 1990-1998.

So, what did Rep Capuano say?  At  a Tuesday rally of Boston union members, he made this comment, which by the way, was greeted with rousing applause by his audience . ” Every once  in a while you need  to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.” He was  attempting to fire up his union audience  urging  them to get down in the trenches to fend off challenges to workers rights.

After being challenged on the inflammatory nature of these words he has backtracked a bit. He issued an apology for his choice of words  stating that his passion for defending workers rights  caused him to get carried away.

Now, I am certainly glad he apologized  for what he said, but am still disturbed by its tenor and its reception. Imagine, if you will,  the response had this comment  originated from any one of several conservative speakers who would have been just as wrong in saying it.

I am a union member and am supportive of workers rights and collective bargaining but I have no wish to get out in the streets and get a little bloody in promoting those rights. ( Yes I know that there are instances of this in our country’s labor relations) I must admit, when I first became aware of his comments my mind veered towards the turmoil that has gone on for weeks now in the Middle East and North Africa , with no end in sight. Many people have gotten a little bloody(  and much worse) in pushing for change.

As with any statement such as his, I fervently hope that no one takes then literally to heart and chooses to act  accordingly. I trust that the congressman will really the troops  in a different manner when he next has the opportunity.

February 25, 2011 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Revolution by any other name is?

Events in Egypt are still unfolding. The anti-government protests are into day#14 and the final outcome is far from being determined.So, what can we say at this point? Therein lies a problem. What one says sort of “smells” like instant analysis. Although that is a staple of  our culture, it often misses the boat completely. As an illustration, look at how the Obama administration has reacted or spoken at various times since events began to unfold.

Remember vice-president Biden saying that Mubarak was not  a dictator and should not resign?  Then we have Secretary Clinton saying that we are not advocating any specific  outcome  but then urging an orderly transition. The President has spoken to Mubarak, probably more than once and has reportedly urged him to go. He has stated that we hear you in referring to the demonstrators. Today he said that Egypt was not going back to the way it was, although I believe the Egyptian military will have  a big say in that. He opined that the Muslim Brotherhood will have  a role but not a significant one. He accurately said that we cannot dictate to Egypt but  we want to see orderly change. By definition, that seems to be quite unlikely.

But what most grabbed my attention in the Associated Press article were the phrases “pro-democracy protests” and “pro-democracy protesters.” I don’t  know if those words came from Robert Burns or Kimberly Dozier who bylined the article. And I hesitate to comment to strongly but I firmly believe those characterizations are way off base. It would be wonderful to see a democracy in Egypt. But what ever form of government emerges, it will not be  a  democracy. If there were a way to ask a representative sample of those demonstrating if they were pro democracy you would get few if any takers. As an illustration walk backwards in  egyptian history ans see what you discover.

So we watch and we wait and we wonder and some of us demonstrate in support of Egypt. Those of us who are so inclined would also do well to pray.

February 6, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Egypt be another Iran?

The ongoing turmoil in Egypt is in its sixth day with no obvious end in sight and it is far too early to know the outcome. Perhaps  even informed speculation is  premature. But speculate we do for many reasons. Egypt is a major American ally and has been for  several years, at least back to the Carter presidency.( More on the  Carter connection a bit later.) Egypt is the most populous and probably most influential Arab country with a very large army and air force and is  a very close neighbor of Israel. And so we  wonder about many things. How did this uprising or revolution begin? Was there a trigger event? What ( not if) outside influences are involved?  Vice-president Biden’s comments to the contrary, Mubarak seems unlikely to survive. If he goes, then what or who? Who do we  favor, the government or those opposing the government?

The UK Daily Telegraph has an article today  stating that we have backed Egyptian dissidents who have worked on regime change for at least three years, ostensibly trying to bring about a democratic government. Of course in its 6,000 year history Egypt has never had such  a government  and is unlikely to have one any time soon.

Much of the above referenced speculation is drawing parallels between this uprising and the Iranian hostage crisis  of 1979. The result of course was an Iran with which we still have issues. Some are calling this a Carter moment for Obama, i.e. Carter”lost” Iran and Obama could be well on his way to “losing” Egypt.

Meanwhile the turmoil, including  rioting, looting, organized prison breaks etc continues. And at least three countries, Israel, Turkey and the United States have begun evacuating their citizens with others preparing to do likewise.

The turmoil will eventually end  and answers to most if not all of our questions  will come. But what kind of outcome will that be?

January 30, 2011 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Separation of Church and State?

The summer season is the time of year when many folks take to the highways for a little vacation. Some who are more intrepid will choose an overseas destination. I suppose that is what our friend Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf must be doing. He has been on a trip sponsored by the U S State Department and it is  a trip with  a mission. His trip is aimed at improving relations between the United States and the Muslim world. ( Thought that was NASA’s mission.) Of course, he has been enjoined to do no fund-raising for the Park 51 Project. Probably doesn’t need to. I expect that the $100 million plus for that effort is already in place.

One thing I have read about this trip stood. This is not  Imam Rauf’s fist American sponsored  trip. As I recall, it is the fourth. Two were during the Bush Administration and this is the second since Obama took office. He’s getting plenty of  frequent flier miles on these trips alone. These trips were arranged by Bush adviser Karen Hughes as part of a Muslim outreach. So we seem to have opportunity infatuation no matter what he says. Oh wait, the State Department says that his somewhat inflammatory comments(  in 00105, 06 I presume) were taken out of context.

Just  a bit more Islamic outreach. If you liked the Imam’s taxpayer-funded trips you will be thrilled to learn that we are also paying  for the renovation of mosques. A Washington Times article in April reported on our ambassador to Tanzania participating in a ribbon cutting ceremony for celebrating the refurbishing of a 12th century mosque there.  And, and  there was money provided to save the legendary 7th century  Amr Ebn El Aas mosque in Cairo. Who was the namesake for this structure? He was the Muslim conqueror of Christian Egypt. The site was  where he camped before doing battle with the country’s Byzantine rulers. A mosque on the site of a Muslim conquest. Does that sound familiar?

August 27, 2010 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

British Musings

Cover of "Londonistan"

Cover of Londonistan

Several days ago, I wrote about Europe and Great Britain in particular vis-a-vis Islam and terrorism and some of its implications. At the time I was attempting to read Londonistan by Melanie Phillips. I have finally managed to complete that self-assigned task. I might add that the fault is not that of the author but rather my unfamiliarity with her style and the complexity of the subject matter.

Moving forward, my intent is not to review the book but rather make reference to some  things that intrigued me and speculate  about what these things might or might not  mean.  As always dissent/disagreement is welcome. My comments do not follow the book from beginning to end since some areas were more pertinent for me than others. The  author has an excellent notes section if one desires to trace her source material and pursue things further.

There are many references to people in the book with the majority of those names probably being Arabic. I won’t refer much to those individuals. Upfront i will assert that neither the author  nor this writer  are anti- Muslim ‘ She does however, make use of the term  Islamaphobia which also appears in the American media. It refers of course to those who harbor an irrational view of the Islamic faith. An accusation of such is used at times  to stifle  even legitimate criticism of Islam. ( That didn’t work so well for Salmon Rushdie did it? )  She makes the point that adherents of the Muslim faith can often be sensitive to criticism( as are Christians) and  use that to justify or explain away certain actions. Her starting point, the London bombings of 2005 was such  a thing. Muslim leaders condemned the attacks but added that since the bombers were un-Islamic ( native Brits) they  could not have been real Muslims. And  this next that  they added which is a relatively prominent reoccurring theme, is  a concept she calls moral inversion. In general Muslims regard Western values as an assault on their principles  so they present  their own aggression as legitimate self- defense. Or, a country’s support of Israel or the Iraq war is ample cause for some sort of attack. Current example is related to the furor over the New york mosque/cultural center. The chairman of those efforts Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was interviewed by CBS just after 9/11. He opined that the United States did not deserve what happened but that its policies ” were an accessory to the crime.”

So what were the policies to which he referred? If you say support for Israel go the head of the class. That attitude in Britain, she writes, is even more prevalent. In Britain the prevailing wisdom regarding the Middle East is that of a territorial dispute. Before May 14, 1948 all was well between Arab and Jew  and would be again if Israel  acceded to legitimate Palestinian  demands. The problem, that is not factual. This cannot be totally addressed here but  factor in this one truth . Palestinians could have had a separate state in 1936, 1948 or 2000. Also, many Arab writers and leaders have often spoken of  the inherently evil  Jew out to conquer the world  and they are demonized as the source of all evil in the Middle East. Let me hasten to add that Israel is not always right in its actions/methods  but neither are they behind every conflict on earth as Palestinian Authority imam Ibrahim Mudayris said in 2005.

But let me continue. Let me refer to some of her conclusions but  encourage the reader to interpret them on their own. Britain is a hub of Islamic jihad and has been.In Britain there continues the long-standing policy of appeasing terrorism which has now been combined with the prevailing doctrine of multiculturalism and  ” victim culture.” She asserts that Britain is at a crossroads and could ease further down the road of appeasement. So the country that is the global leader of English speaking culture no longer champions those values. ( Sound  a little like American education?)

She wonders if her native country will reverse its  sleepwalk towards  “cultural oblivion ” or  sink further into disarray and drag the West down with it. Serious things to consider.

August 20, 2010 Posted by | History | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Some Israeli Humor

A friend of mine emailed me the following story. It sounds  plausible and she is a  quite reliable source. Whether the actual event occurred or not is not germane to the truth lurking in the story. So read and laugh a bit but take note of what is being said.

                         An ingenious example of speech and politics  occurred recently in the U N General Assembly which made the world community smile ( probably not all of it though) . An Israeli representative began: ” Before beginning my talk I want to tell you something about Moses. When he struck the rock and it brought forth water ( Old Testament book  of Exodus, Chapter 17, verse 6) he thought, ” What a good opportunity to have a bath.” He removed his clothes, put them aside on the rock and entered the water. When he got out and wanted to dress, his clothes had vanished. A  Palestinian has stolen them.”

                  The Palestinian representative to the U N jumped up furiously and shouted, ” What are you talking about? The Palestinians weren’t there then.”

                 The Israeli diplomat smiled and said,” And now that we have made that clear, I will begin my speech.”

Shalom!

July 29, 2010 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Words to Consider

Jose Maria Aznar: Supporting Israel.

This is an unusual thing for me but I thought the subject worthwhile and that it was read in its entirety by the original author. By clicking on the above link, you will be taken to an opinion piece by Jose Maria Aznar, prime minister of Spain from 1996-2004. The article appears on the website of aish.com the world’s largest Jewish content website. I don’t necessarily endorse all that Mr Aznar has to say, but his article is well worth a read.

July 18, 2010 Posted by | International politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Cup of Cold Water

There  are very few things any more satisfying or refreshing than a  cup of cold water on  a sweltering hot day. In my neck of the woods, there have been  a bunch of those kind of days  lately. As  a letter carrier, I am out in the midst of that heat on  a daily basis, so it is crucially important to maintain an adequate supply of liquids.

I have a couple of folks on my route that are  kind enough to provide  some welcome refreshment when  I am delivering their mail. I am always very thankful for their kindness since it is something they do willingly out of the goodness of their hearts.

Their action brought a verse of scripture to mind, Mark 9:41.

                For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I( Jesus) say to you, he shall not lose his reward.

In New Testament days, water was  a precious commodity as it still is in that part of the world. Saudi Arabia, for example , has to obtain virtually all of its water through desalinization. So, a gift of water was a precious gift indeed. Fortunately, water is not that hard to obtain for us. But, for me, it is still  a precious and highly appreciated gift.

So, to these who give, I say, Shalom!

July 7, 2010 Posted by | Life | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Suicide Bombers

Right upfront, I will confess to a great lack of understanding  as to why there are such people as suicide bombers. Any time such a tragic occurrence takes place, I am struck with anger, sorrow and confusion. Why did it happen, to what end and why would men, women or children engage in such a practice?

I suppose there is very little certainty about suicide bombers but there seem to  be several common denominators. Virtually all suicide bombings seem to take  place in the Middle East and almost all the bombers are Arab,but not necessarily Islamic.  Almost all the targets are civilan, which differs marekedly from the Japanese kamikaze  attacks of WWII.

Within the past couple  of weeks  have read about religious pilgrims being targeted in Iraq. We  periodically hear of attacks at busy marketplaces, on buses, at tourism sites, even in or near houses of worship. The attacks  by nature are somewhat random, hard to predict or prevent and designed to instill   shock and fear in those impacted. ( Israel has had some success in preventing such attacks, more than most  target countries.)

So, back to my greatest source of puzzlement. Why would individuals perpetrate such acts? For glory that they leave behind, monetary gain for their families or a perceived reward in the afterlife? I have heard of  these and there may be more. In terms of casualties inflicted, the individual numbers seem significant because of the type of people targeted. In reality the overall numbers are not so great, except for one quite notable exception. That, alas, would be the horrific attacks of 9/11.

Volumes have been written about the why. But even that signature event, why? Perhaps those “in charge” felt the United States would not respond but rather pull back. Needless to say, that did not occur. So, here we are, back to  the beginning and   asking a  question that may be  unanswerable.

It is  a war in a sense, I guess. But it has no rules or battle ground and anyone  can be a  target. One more question to pose.  I wonder why that the   act is   not universally condemned by left and  right, liberal and conservative, by those who lean toward  Israel and those who lean toward the Arabs.  It would seem to an easy act  to condemn, but such is not the case.

February 3, 2010 Posted by | Culture, Life and Death | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment