Archive for October, 2006

UN Shocked–Shocked!–to Find Arms Smuggling

The United Nations is worse than useless.

But you knew that, didn’t you?

Lebanon regularly reports arms being smuggling into the country from Syria but the authorities are treading softly due to their fragile political situation, a senior UN Envoy said on Monday.

Government officials have informed the United Nations of smuggling as recently as “The last few weeks,” although they are providing no information on the quantities or types of arms being secreted across the border, said Terje Roed-Larsen, the top UN Diplomat on Lebanese ties with Syria.

“Generally speaking, the situation in Lebanon is worrisome,” Roed-Larsen said. “The political rhetoric shows that there are very high tensions, and I think we have to look at the situation in Lebanon with all caution.”

Syria acknowledges there might be smuggling but insists the border is porous and very difficult to control, he said.

Roed-Larsen praised Lebanon’s efforts to end the smuggling by deploying soldiers along the border with Syria and in southern Lebanon, where Hizbullah guerrillas are active.

“I think the government of Lebanon is doing its very best to stop the transport of weapons across the border,” he said. “If this is sufficient, only time can show.”

No, time has already shown it is not sufficient. And Israel can’t wait forever:

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz told a parliamentary committee two weeks ago, “If it turns into a steady occurrence, we will deal with the smuggling ourselves.”


Uganda Always Get What You Want

We’ve written about Uganda before, so we’re happy that John Edwards has found it in the atlas:

At a moment of tremendous global hardship — from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the killing fields of Darfur — it is rare to find hope. So when there is the possibility for peace, we must seize it. That’s why one of the world’s great tragedies, the conflict in Northern Uganda, deserves our attention.

It is perhaps the worst humanitarian catastrophe to have gone practically unnoticed by most of the world. The two decades of violence in Northern Uganda have had devastating consequences — nearly 2 million people have been run out of their homes and forced to live in overcrowded, squalid camps; tens of thousands have died; 30,000 children have been abducted by an organization called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and forced to fight as child soldiers or used as sex slaves. Hundreds of villages have been abandoned and destroyed.

To witness the ravaging of Northern Uganda is searing.

Yes, it is. No question.

But what does he intend we do about it–and do we do it before or after we do something about Darfur? And North Korea? And Burma? And all the other hopeless and benighted places on this earth? Edwards has some suggestions, to his credit, but they employ phrases like “publicly voice”, “must come together”, “fulfill…pledges”. I used to believe in this sort of thing, but part of becoming an adult is learning that you can voice as publicly as you like and fulfill every pledge–but people are still going to kill each other, no matter how bad you feel about it.


The Last Shoe to Fall

Haven’t the Democrats maintained, as unemployment and the defecit dropped and the Dow soared, that workers’ wages were the true and only measure of economic health?

Wages and benefits paid to American workers rose in the July-September period at the fastest pace in more than two years.

The Labor Department reported that its Employment Cost Index was up 1 percent in the third quarter, compared to a 0.9 percent rise in the April-June period. It was the biggest quarterly increase since a similar 1 percent rise in the second quarter of 2004.

What now, scream about inflation?


What’s in it for Them?

The Chinese attitude toward peace?

There’s no money in it:

Despite its rising power and wealth, China may not be willing or ready to play a responsible role in an international system aimed at encouraging peace and stability, a commission set up by Congress said in a report released yesterday.

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission accused China of failing “to meet the threshold test of international responsibility in the area of non-proliferation” by aiding Iran’s nuclear, missile and chemical programs and refusing to effectively use its leverage to bring North Korea back into nuclear arms negotiations.

It said China in recent years has allowed the transfer of weapons and technology across its territory from North Korea to Iran and even if Beijing wanted to control such transfers, this would be very difficult.

How about trying anyway? For a change.


Reaping What They Seau

I hadn’t heard of Fred Siegel before this–but I will be listening now:

France today is a lot like New York City was before Rudy Giuliani: Its government is so large it crushes the economy – yet also too weak to stem widespread criminality. As with pre-Rudy New York, the fear that France’s best days are behind it prevails.

For the moment, the French are breathing a sigh of relief, as the anniversary of last year’s three weeks of rioting by Muslim youth passed with much fanfare but no widespread disturbances.

Yet – with the nation approaching both a presidential election and the Fifth Republic’s 50th anniversary – the French elites worry that their famously unstable country is headed for breakdown and a Sixth Republic.

The 2005 Ramadan Riots, which saw some 10,000 cars torched and 300 buildings firebombed, have been followed by a yearlong, lower-grade rolling riot – what some in the French police are calling a “permanent intifada.” Nationwide, this works out to 15 attacks a day on police and firefighters, and 100 cars set ablaze nightly. And for the first time, the police are being subject to well-planned ambushes.

An accurate, but not necessarily unique, perspective. This, however…

The French press ardently insists there’s no link between Islam and the unrest in the streets. But there is a connection, albeit complex, between the rioters and Islam’s Jihadi elements.

Some of the rioters of 2005 and car bombers of recent clashes have shouted Allah Akbar (God is Great). But other rioters are drawn to Islam less as a faith and more as an off-the-shelf oppositional ideology that has replaced Marxism as the intellectual drug of the alienated.

In his Policy Review article “The French Path To Jihad,” based on interviews with French prisoners, author John Rosenthal notes that Islam’s attraction is often less its theological content than an aura of rebellion. “Islam disturbs people,” notes Jacques, a non-Muslim “and for me that’s a good sign.”

One Muslim prisoner he interviews sounds like an underclass kid from early ’90s New York: “Islam was my salvation. I understood what I was as a Muslim, someone with dignity, whom the French despised because they didn’t fear me enough . . . That is the achievement of Islamism. Now, we are respected. Hated, but respected.”

Wow. Where else have you heard that? It’s not just the French media that deny a connection between the riots and Islam.

Last, but not least, there’s this:

The Fifth Republic’s foreign policy, which sees the Arab world as a counter-balance to U.S. and Israeli power, has unintentionally legitimated some of the violence. French television, its perspective an extension of the nation’s ruling elites, has tried to incorporate young Muslims by depicting the conflicts in the Middle East largely from a Franco-Muslim perspective. On many nights, the TV news glorified the intifada against Israel. In the “al Dura affair,” French TV went so far as to fabricate images of a Palestinian boy supposedly killed by Israelis.

The Muslim underclass, not surprisingly, identified with the “youths” attacking Israelis and sees in their own violence a heroic extension of the battle against the enemies of Islam.

Siegel sees one sign of hope:

The one politician who seems to be in touch with the mood of anger and anxiety is Chirac’s plainspoken interior minister and political enemy – Nicholas Sarkozy, whose parents came to France as immigrants.

Sarkozy is not only philo-American, he admires Giuliani.

If his thus-far successful efforts to constrain Muslim violence hold, his chances of becoming the next president increase. The question then will be if Sarkozy has the Giuliani-like courage and ability to buck the tides of the traditional elites and pull his country back from the brink of ruin.

As Mark Steyn amply and repeatedly demonstrates in America Alone, it may already be too late for France. But the riots may convince even the French that they have to fight for their country.


Gray Men Behaving Badly

Yesterday, we learned just how bad Kim Jong Il was. Today, we learn how bad his system is:

The main problem with North Korea, however, is not its nuclear missiles, but its communist system. A democratic Korea, even with nuclear weapons, would hardly pose a threat. By contrast, Communist Korea, even bound by agreements and promises, remains a serious danger. From this premise it follows that the most realistic solution to the rogue state’s provocations is not to prevent that regime from producing weapons of mass destruction. It is to facilitate the rapid change of the regime.

The history of fruitless attempts to end the arms race with the Soviet Union shows us that no negotiations or agreements with a totalitarian state can stop it from pursuing a military buildup. Andrei Sakharov and other Russian human-rights activists realized very early that the only way to tame Soviet aggression was to influence public opinion in the West by exposing the system’s injustices to the outside world.

It’s obvious, but it needs restating.


Scenes From the Palestinian Liberation LXXXI

You have to admire their efforts:

Officials from the ruling Hamas movement and the rival Fatah party have agreed to work together to avoid armed clashes in the Gaza Strip Saturday, they said.

The agreement not to deploy any armed men to avert possible clashes came at a meeting in Gaza City late Friday, sources said.

The interior minister in the Hamas-led Palestinian government earlier Friday warned the mainstream security services, loyal to the rival Fatah party, not to create trouble as apparently threatened.

One day at a time, baby, one day at a time.

Still, what do you do with all that pent up rage? Start smoking? This is healthier:

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Field Update
31 October 2006

PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 15:10 on Monday, 30 October 2006, four gunmen in a yellow car intercepted another car carrying two internationals and their Palestinian assistant. The internationals were Robert Vila, a 30-year old Spaniard, and Celine Gagne, a 26-year old Frenchwoman. Both work for the Cooperation Assembly for Peace. The incident took place near Abu Holi junction on Salah El-Deen Road north of Khan Yunis.

At approximately 22:50 in the evening of the same day, the kidnappers released Vila after contacts with the Preventive Security Apparatus and a Palestinian faction. PCHR’s fieldworker learned that the kidnappers abducted Vila after a visit to the Red Crescent Society in Khan Yunis. They demanded that 15 people be hired in the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

In another incident on 24 October 2006, a Spanish journalist was kidnapped. PCHR’s preliminary investigation indicates that at approximately 7:00 on that day, masked gunmen in a white vehicle kidnapped Emilio Morenatti, a Spanish photographer working for Associated Press (AP). The incident took place in front of his home in Haitham Building near Palestine Hotel in Gaza City. He was released at 22:30 in the same evening without any indication of the motive or demands of the kidnappers.

With these two kidnappings, the number of such crimes against internationals in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) over the past two years increased to 23 crimes targeting 48 internationals.

This is not:

A Kassam rocket was fired from northern Gaza on Tuesday, landing in an open field in the western Negev. In addition, Palestinian gunmen fired three mortar rounds at IDF troops operating in Gaza.

In both incidents there were no casualties or damage to property.

Not to mention this:

Israeli forces killed two Hamas gunmen in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, in the latest fighting between the sides as Israel presses on with its military offensive in the coastal area, Palestinian officials and the army said.

The troops killed the gunmen in the heat of a battle in Khouza, a village east of the Khan Yunis refugee camp that borders Israel, Palestinian security officials and Hamas sources said. Three other Palestinians have been wounded in the fighting, which is ongoing, the officials said.


Down, Downer, Downest

Caroline Glick takes us down with her.


Last week Iran began enriching uranium in a second network of centrifuges. Just as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dropped nearly all pretenses about his intention to achieve nuclear weapons, so too he makes it clear daily that he intends to use such weapons to annihilate Israel.


The world’s reaction to Iran’s behavior is depressingly instructive. Russia tells us that we are being paranoid and continues to build the Bushehr nuclear plant. The Europeans cluck disapprovingly and threaten to pass a weak, “reversible” sanctions resolution in the UN Security Council whose main target is American security hawks. For his part, US President George W. Bush continues to adhere to the call for sanctions.

And so we have Israel. With Iran speeding up its program, Israel may have as little as six months to launch a strike on its nuclear facilities before they can start churning out atomic bombs.


Unfortunately, at this critical moment in Israel’s history, we are led by Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz and Tzipi Livni.

I know it’s Halloween, but does she have to be so scary?

By the way, if you see someone walking around with a dragon and an alien (extraterrestrial) tonight, be sure to say hi.


New Homework Assignment

If you don’t do the reading, how you going to participate in the discussion?

After America Alone, your next book is Jihad Incorporated, by Steve Emerson.


Trouble Ahead

Kosovo and Bosnia were the Darfur of the 1990s: ethnically diverse regions tortured by one militarily dominant faction. They were, also Darfurian, the darling of the Internationally Concerned.

Fat lot a good it did:

Serbian voters have approved a new constitution reasserting Serbia’s claim over the breakaway province of Kosovo, independent observers and Serbia’s prime minister said Sunday.

The Belgrade-based Center for Free Elections and Democracy said its sample count after polls closed in the two-day vote indicated that 96 percent of those who participated in the referendum supported the draft charter.

“This is a great moment for Serbia,” Kostunica told Serbian television. “This is a historic moment, a beginning of a new era for Serbia.”

The referendum had been strongly condemned by the ethnic Albanians, who have long boycotted any ballot under Serb auspices.

The charter’s key point declares Kosovo an “integral part of Serbia,” despite ongoing U.N.-brokered talks on the province’s future status. Serbs cherish Kosovo, which today is home to a dwindling Serb community of 100,000, as their historic heartland.

The province’s 2 million ethnic Albanians form 90 percent of the population in Kosovo, which has been under U.N. administration since 1999, when U.S.-led NATO airstrikes halted a Serb crackdown on the separatists.

A Serbian minority claims hegemony over an overwhelming majority. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.


This Just In [UPDATED]

In a developing story, Kim Jong Il is a ba-a-a-d man:

North Korea has committed “crimes against humanity” against its own people according to an independent report published on Monday that made a long-shot appeal for the U.N. Security Council to deal with the issue.

Released after North Korea’s October 9 nuclear test, the report describes Pyongyang’s brutal treatment of its citizens, from the beatings of pregnant women to force miscarriages to the abduction, torture and execution of political prisoners.

Commissioned by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, former Czech president Vaclav Havel and former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, the paper seeks to spotlight rights abuses that have been previously reported but are often overshadowed by concern about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

“It is clear that (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-il and the North Korean government are actively committing crimes against humanity,” they said in a letter introducing the report, which was prepared by the nonprofit, independent U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and by the DLA Piper law firm.

“We strongly urge the U.N. Security Council to take up the situation of North Korea. Protecting the people of North Korea requires nothing less,” they added.

And there is nothing less than the United Nations, I always say.

The report, largely based on previously published material, estimates that North Korea imprisons “upwards of 200,000 people in its modern-day gulag” and that double that number have died in the its prison network over 30 years.

It describes prisoners being fed near-starvation diets that they supplement with insects, being beaten until their eyeballs pop out and being entombed in “sweatbox” solitary cells so small they are forced to crouch for months.

Noting as many as one million people may have died in North Korea’s late 1990s famine and the country faces “chronic” food shortages, it argues Pyongyang “failed in its responsibility to protect its own people from crimes against humanity.”

In a second justification for Council action, it said North Korea poses a “non-traditional threat” to international peace because of its rights abuses, the possibility of mass refugee outflows and alleged drug trafficking and counterfeiting.

Elie Wiesel and Vaclav Havel are two of a very small number of people I admire–and their effort is not to be ridiculed. It is, rather, to be taken gravely seriously.

More seriously than this:

Foreign policy analysts praised the report for highlighting an issue that often gets short shrift amid concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs but they said the chances of the Security Council acting on it were slim.

Among other reasons, they noted the council has already passed two resolutions imposing sanctions on North Korea in the last four months, the first following its July 5 ballistic missile tests and the second after this month’s nuclear test.

They also said China — which holds a veto — historically has resisted bringing up human rights at the Security Council for fear that its own practices might be scrutinized.

“On the one hand, it’s probably a moral imperative. On the other hand, I think it’s a political nonstarter,” said Columbia University Professor Edward Luck, a U.N. specialist.

That will be the epitaph for our time.

[UPDATE]: The fellas speak for themselves in the NYT.


Page 17, Column 5

You’ll be lucky if that’s where you find this story:

A major terror plot was thwarted after security forces spent hours conducting car-to-car searches for a bomber over scores of kilometers of highway between Caesarea and Wadi Ara on Sunday evening.

Traffic was jammed all along the major traffic artery after almost six hours of closures and searches.

The police finally reported that they had arrested five suspects, four Palestinians and one Israeli Arab, and discovered a car carrying explosives. Police safely detonated the explosives in the car. Security concerns prevented the police from releasing any further details about the plot or the suspects.

Another Israeli Arab? Didn’t we just write about them?


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