Tarheeltalker

The Future of Europe?

This is a subject that   I have been pondering for quite  awhile and  is probably just an initial effort at expressing  some opinions. To me the subject is at once complicated, disturbing and perhaps  a view of  our ( United States ) future.

I am a great fan of political novels, especially those set in our era. Those that depict events similar  to those that are occurring and make reference to actual people and places in the course of their books. I have referred before to Daniel Silva whom I thoroughly enjoy and I have just finished a book by Michael Walsh, Hostile Intent, that addresses some similar issues but from a  quite different perspective. Factored in to my post is a challenging nonfiction book that I have just begun to read. It  is by British author Melanie Phillips  and it its premise dovetails nicely with my fictional reading.

These slightly disparate works all have one word common to them that struck me quite forcefully. That word is Londonistan, which is the title of Ms Phillips book. Walsh mentions and I am fairly certain that Silva does also. Both fictional writers speak heavily of the concept as well.

What is the concept of which they speak? Ms Phillips says it best in the intro to her book. She begins her intro with the London subway suicide bombings of July 7. 2005 and  its implications . She asserts that  it reveals London as the  epicenter ( good Joel Rosenberg word) of Islamic militancy. She uses the word ” Londonistan” which is  a mocking play of the names of London and state sponsors of terrorism such as Afghanistan. You can think of others. She added this chilling detail that one could argue that al-Qaeda actually began in London in the 1980s and 90s. She continues to  talk about Britain in essence turning on itself and attacking its own historical values.

And this next may be the most troubling. There is underway an attempt to establish a separate Muslim identity in the country. This is  in  a country approximately 5% Muslim . So there is a  minority attempting and succeeding in many ways to impose its values on the host country. A tiny but illustrative example is that piggy banks are banned from British banks lest Muslims be offended. Funny, maybe, but not ha-ha funny by any means. British Muslims actually insist they are under Western attack  and blame any wrongdoing by Muslims on others. One more thought before part #1 closes.

 British liberals fear being labeled racist or Islamophobic so Muslim extremism goes somewhat  unchecked and  criticism is against the so-called bigot. The London train bombings were, by this logic, caused by American , Israeli or British policies.

My intent is to refer to Ms Phillips book  again in part #2 as well  as some fictional  references from Walsh and perhaps Silva. As I alluded,  her book is a difficult read for me but I hope to plow through  a bit further.

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August 11, 2010 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 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

CAIR’S “FOXY” Behavior

Lot of stuff going on at Fox News these days and not just the hiring of Sarah Palin as a  commentator, although that should be interesting.The real thing  that  interests me is the emergence of  CAIR spokesmen on the network. For the uninitiated, it is the Council for American Islamic Relations. Betcha there is no counterpart to it  in your favorite Middle Eastern country.

Anyway, one of the CAIR spokesmen was on Bill O’Reilly the other day, his second appearance in  a month. Ibrahim Hooper was discussing  profiling of Muslims following the recent Christmas Day bombing attempt. Prior to his appearance, CAIR’s top guy Nihad  Awad,  among others,  had appeared on FOX to refute any the notion that the Fort Hood shooter had any Islamic ties. Oh, almost forgot. After  Hooper’s latest appearance O’Reilly called him a ” stand-up guy.”  Somehow, he failed to make mention of the organization’s terror connections. Our government has it as an un-indicted terrorist  co-conspirator  as well as investigating it through the FBI.

(CAIR could be called many things but I suppose  a connection to FOX would have not been one of them. The Administration itself  barely considers them a news organization, much less a fair and balanced one. But that may charge.)

So, is there any reason, logical or otherwise, as to why these guys should get deferential treatment from the FOX guys? Could be. As Rush is wont to say, one should always follow the money. For our purposes, the money comes from a Saudi Arabian source and goes to both  CAIR and to FOX. The financial guy is a Saudi prince named al-Walid bin Talal, who at present owns a 5.5% voting share in the FOX parent company News Corp, run by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. That fact is no secret, as it is readily admitted by News Corp. But, our friend bin-Talal also helps bankroll CAIR as do other Saudis, a fact that is blatantly denied by their leadership, but has been confirmed  through State Department and other sources.

So CAIR, who is not a legitimate source for Islamic interests continues to portray itself as  such’ when in reality it is much closer to those who advocate violent behavior. Seems that with FOX, they are getting their own bully pulpit to influence American public opinion in  a manner not consistent with the usual perception  of  FOX as one who tilts to the right. Maybe Palin can look into this. Or better yet, what about it Mr Beck? Is there a story here?

January 12, 2010 Posted by | International politics, Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who’s Fighting Whose Wars?

Seems that a former senior CIA agent, Michael Scheuer, thinks we have some misplaced allegiances in the Middle East. Mr Scheuer was on  a C-Span call-in show  last Monday which degenerated into  an anti-Semitic gab fest.

Scheuer, with a number of callers agreed, thinks Israel is of no strategic importance to the United States. He also said that  American soldiers are dying in Iraq for the sake of Israel. He had this telling quote, ” Their association with us is a negative for the United States. Now that’s a fact. What you want about that fact is entirely different.” One more tidbit from Mr Scheuer. We should somehow “persuade”  Islamic terrorists who threaten us to” focus their anger” on Israel (as if they already do not)  and oppressive Middle Eastern regimes.

Wonder who he thinks is our most staunch ally in the Middle East, as well as the only thing country even close to having a freely elected government. Uh, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia. None seem to ring a bell. As for the part about our troops dying for Israel, may we return briefly to Desert  Storm in 1991. If memory serves, we fought that war to liberate Kuwait and by extension keep Hussein away from Saudi Arabia. Israel suffered the indignity of repeated scud missile attacks without provocation. I also seem to remember our asking them to hold off on retaliation ( defend  themselves) which they did. Not sure of Mr Scheuer’s thoughts on that matter.

Add the above to this next Obama administration maneuver. Middle East envoy George Mitchell is heading over to do some tough talking to the Israelis( must have been reading from the playbook of the Palestinian from Plains) about restarting peace negotiations. He threatened a freeze in U S aid to Israel if  satisfactory progress is not made. No wonder that polls indicate  a large majority of Israelis are nervous about the state of relations with us.

Wonder if the letters Mitchell is bringing with him bring instructions about the division of Jerusalem as well as the two-state solution. Methinks Israel is right to be ill at ease. For greater discussion of  the issues and insight as to why we should have a strong relationship with Israel, visit   Joel Rosenberg’s blog .It  gives one  a good perspective on Israel in particular as well as the Middle East as a whole.

Shalom!

January 9, 2010 Posted by | International politics, Media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Channeling His Inner Truman

The President continues to bob and weave as regards the Nigerian bomber. Doubtless, the more said, the better. He is now invoking words that hark  back to  the plain-spoken one, President Harry S Truman. Obama says that failures regarding the bomber should be laid on his desk, saying  ” the buck stops with me”  as concerns intelligence failures.

But, not so fast. Apparently top anti-terror official John Brennan thinks there is blame enough to share. He said  that he let the president down and told him that he would do better. This is the same guy who said there was no smoking gun as regarded intelligence failures  over  the bombing attempt. Mark Steyn has a great line regarding that statement. It is probably a poor choice of words said Steyn to say smoking gun regarding an attempted suicide bombing. Besides if the metaphorical gun were smoking that would have been bad news.

One last aside. Apparently Obama didn’t really mean that line about the stopping buck since he blamed U S spies for not “aggressively”  chasing down the Al-Qaeda  guys that planned and funded the attack. Is that a sound of resumes being sent out from Langley? Maybe so.

January 7, 2010 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Much Ado About Yemen

The little country of Yemen is very newsworthy these days; more so than in a while. The map shows the country’s position and an interesting one it is. One can see it shares a border with Saudi Arabia and how it juxtaposes with Iran, Iraq Egypt,etc. And of course there is that little thing about the Christmas Day bomb attempt by a young Nigerian who was allegedly trained and funded by al-Qaeda from Yemen, whew! 

But the Yemeni news continues. Seems that the terror guys have posed threats credible  enough to get both the United States and Britain to close their embassies in Yemen. This on one hand, while on the other we offer financial aid and training for Yemeni police and military. Full power of the United States at work and will spare no effort. So said the President, in words to that effect, and no more diplomatic presence. If we’re scoring ladies  and gentlemen, we will give this round to Osama and friends ( Yemen is an ancestral homeland for the bin ladens) are we not? 

I heard a retired general on Fox this morning, can’t remember his name, who called Yemen a “petri dish” for terrorism. Now, biology was never  a strong  subject for me but I believe that has something to do with an environment where things are grown. If that is the case, this impoverished country with a near non-existent economy will loom increasingly large on our radar. 

Yemen,et al

January 3, 2010 Posted by | International politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The System Worked ?

So said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in commenting on a failed terrorist attempt to take down Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam  to Detroit. No,wait a minute. Yesterday, she said that it failed miserably. So, which is it? Did it fail or not ? If one measures that by the new security measures and  the additional U S marshals assigned to aircraft, I’m going with failure.There are lots of  ways to look at this event that could have , but thankfully, did not have tragic consequences. The alleged bomber, who

is in custody, is Nigeria, although funded from Yemen  and claims that there are more like himself on the way. Comforting thought, is  it not? Yemen  itself does seem to be developing into fertile ground for Al-Qaeda. Although it is located at the bottom of the Arabian Peninsula, it isn’t  that far from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan,etc.We sorta know about them and terrorists,do we not?

The President issued  a statement today from Hawaii, 3 days after the near bombing, if you are counting. What he said sounded good. We’re gonna get ’em, not just words but”every element of our national power.” No matter where they are, he added.

Imagine, if you will, thoses words coming from Bush, war mongerer, etc. And, if he had waited 3 days before speaking on the issue. Wonder if there will  be any criticism of the President  in that regard?

We have been providing support, both overt and covert to Yemeni  forces and that support is slated to increase even more next year. Senator Lieberman, who has been there recently thinks that Yemen could be the next battleground, not that it hasn’t  been before. In October, 2000, the USS Cole was victimized by a suicide bombing.And, there is even a 9/11 connection.

So, let us hope that the President backs up his rhetoric in an appropriate fashion.

December 28, 2009 Posted by | International politics, military, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

You Gotta Love The U S Senate

Senator Orrin Hatch

Senator Orrin Hatch

OK folks, time to email  or call or write your U S Senators. There is a major issue before that august body that probably exceeds in importance anything that they have dealt with in quite a while. The economy, AIG, terrorism, Iran, North Korean missiles, Chinese harassment- actually, none  of the above  would be accurate. They might seem vitally necessary of attention but alas, they must wait. For this new  issue we can primarily thank Sen. Orrin Hatch, (R) Utah. So, what is the good senator so vexed about? Surely you jest. Of course it is college football or at the least  how it determines its national champion.

Here is a quote from the senator regarding the BCS system, has proven itself to be inadequate, not only for those of us who are fans of college football, but for anyone who believes that competition and fair play should have a role in college sports.”

Hatch serves on the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights. Now I suppose that Sen. Hatch’s angst has nothing to do with the fact that the University of Utah  went undefeated in football and yet did not play for the national championship. No, they were stuck in the Sugar Bowl which paid them a measly  $17.5 million which was roughly the same $ as the title game. Hatch’s office said he would introduce legislation to rectify this situation but no derails were forthcoming. Not to be outdone, Rep Joe Barton (R) Texas has introduced a bill that would ban the NCAA from calling their title game a  national championship game, unless  there was a  playoff system involved.

Perhaps, college football needs a playoff system, somewhat similar to that which basketball employs. But, come on, Senators and Congressman; give me a break. If Senators Hagan and Burr from North Carolina get involved, I feel an email campaign in the works.

March 26, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment