Tuesday, September 26, 2006

We Want You! For The War Against America.

A new report by the U.S. Intelligence Agencies shows that the threat of terrorist attack has grown since September 11th as a result of America’s actions in the Middle East (especially the war in Iraq) not decreased as intended by the designers of the war.

The truth is that the war in Iraq has solidified the feelings of resentment by extremist fundamentalist Muslims in the Middle East. President Bush says that America is a safer place since 9/11 but without qualifying data the President’s statement is a matter of opinion not fact. Other opinions and the follow up attacks on nations in Europe show that the world is not safer and probably more dangerous after sowing the seeds of resentment for these last five years.

The nightly news is filled with events from the Middle East that does not inspire confidence that the war has achieved its intended goals, as shifty as they are. The administration’s backpedaling and excuse-ridden explanations for going to war have been counter-intuitive.

At the start, it was the fact that Sadam Hussein himself was direct threat to America because he definitely had Weapons of Mass Destruction, including intentions of building and launching Nuclear Missiles against the U.S. and its allies. Then the real reason was exposed: That Sadam Hussein was harboring connections to Al Quaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the 9/11 attacks. In a final and less convincing revelation, Bush says that bringing democracy to the Middle East to stabilize the region was his intended goal and that above all else is the ultimate aim of this war effort. After layering on these causes and then using the old magician’s trick of sleight of hand, we were confused and scared but all pointed in the right direction. The effect was a nation lined up to go to war no matter what the cost.

Now that we are elbow deep in Iraq, facing insurgent attacks daily and on the brink of becoming ensnared in a civil war, our reason for being there is to help put Iraq back together and stem the growing domestic terrorist threat inside the country. A terrorist threat that never existed before and a civil war that we caused by ripping open the region.

Of course the reasons do not fit. Why a secular dictator would invite fundamentalist religious fanatics into his own country to train in war simply does not make sense. Why would he risk his own presidency and power to train these people who would probably like to see him dead just as much as the Americans. Sadam Hussein is an ungodly fellow. He does not follow the same playbook as Osama Bin Laden. As a matter of fact it seems to make more sense for Sadam Hussein to limit or prevent Al Quaeda’s influence within his borders. Any simpleton can see that Sadam Hussein does not share the selfless (if totally misguided and twisted) aims of the ultra religious Islamic terrorists. These people are about giving up their lives for the greater good and a dogmatic agenda to spread Islam and protect it by the sword. Sadam Hussien wants to keep control over his people while enjoying all the decadence benefits of wealth and power. Not exactly the basis for radical fundamentalism.

The Western nations will not stand up for Sadam Hussein. He was clearly a madman and a dangerous enemy to freedom and democracy. He was a terror to his own people running his country with a militaristic iron fist. Yet at the same time, one has to wonder the reasoning behind Bush’s war. Let’s put aside the fact that he felt he had to save face for Daddy Bush. Being aware and relatively sober during that period of time (I was in college after all) I remember the reasons for not going all the way into Baghdad. The first being we were leading a UN coalition formed to prevent the attack of one nation, unilaterally and with provocation against a smaller weaker one. In the final analysis, it seemed prudent not to take over a country we had no idea how to subdue once the initial coup was over. In short, at the time of the first Gulf War, we did not attack Sadam Hussein simply because we had no exit strategy. Colon Powel is said to have told the elder Bush that if “we break it we bought it.” The price for owning Iraq was too high. Besides, we had accomplished a goal, made a point and enforced subsequent UN sanctions against an aggressor nation.

Years later, young Bush decided that a war by one larger aggressor over another nation was a good idea. He had a nation that had been sufficiently weakened by UN sanctions for more than ten years and whose leader was unpopular in the region anyway. Bush made the intelligence data fit his picture no matter how much he had to stretch the truth.

It was not a hard war to sell to American citizens or to Congress at the time. We were salivating for blood. We wanted revenge for the attacks against the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Flight 93. He gave us exactly what we wanted. He gave us a place to vent all our collective vengeance, anger, frustration, anxiety and fear.

The modern war on terrorists is not one fought like our father’s war or even our Grandfather’s. This was a war that was more like the Cold War’s long, drawn out campaign. We needed intelligence and subversion. We needed policing and sanctions and a coalition of nations in a unified front. We needed to make sympathizers to the Al Quaeda cause regret their former allegiance to a murderous organization. We needed to make the world unsafe for terrorists.

Instead of patience, Bush chose “shock and awe.” Admittedly, this is exactly what we all wanted. We wanted bombs bursting in the air over some Middle Eastern nation not a quiet, hidden, secretive, operation. We wanted blood not long trails of ink on confidential papers. We wanted guns not legal action to stem the flow of money from supporters to the terrorists.

He gave it to us. And we were distracted for a while. Then the long slog began. Evil things like beheadings started to be carried out on American civilians. Not even journalists or humanitarians were safe. An Iraqi Al Quaeda was able to attach itself to the region. Now we have what Bush insisted was the reason for the war. Like circular paradox we created the reasons for going to war and now those reasons are touted as the very reasons to stay on for the entire fight. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy on the part of the Republican Party.

Iraq has become the rally cry of the fundamentalist Muslims hell-bent on destroying America. It both proves their point to serves as a recruitment crusade. We’ve pushed the fence sitters over to the other side.

Bush states that it is naïve to think that the war in Iraq has caused terrorism around the world to become worse. It would seem that the opposite is true. It is naïve to think that the Iraq War has not increased the terrorist threat. In fact, it is dangerous for Bush not to accept the truth. He endangers the United States every time he decides policy without considering that any action might increase the threat to Americans or other good people of the world. A president who does not plan for every contingency is a president who is steering this nation on a course straight into the rocks.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Surviving Siblings Reunited!

Good news of the day from Yahoo.com.

Yahoo has a great story up about a brother and sister separated during the Holocaust and recently reunited. Hilda Shlick’s grandsons used the Internet to locate her long lost, 81-year old brother, Simon Glasberg.

While searching the database of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem (the Israeli Holocaust memorial) her two grandsons found that the list was in error, reporting that their grandmother had died over 50 years ago. By cross checking the database with her maiden name, Glasberg, the two industrious twenty-something grandsons found family living in Ottawa, Canada.

According to the report on the Yahoo website, written by Aron Heller of the Associated Press:

When Glasberg, who lives near Ottawa, Canada, saw his gray-haired little sister for the first time, he recognized her immediately, he said.

"I felt I couldn't talk. I just cried," he said. "You don't understand, 65 years..." His voice trailed off.

Shlick, 75, said she too was overwhelmed by the discovery.

"For 65 years, I lived thinking I had no family besides one sister," she said.

They last saw each other in 1941, when the Nazis invaded Romania and split the family up. At the time, Hilda was 10-years old. She escaped to Uzbekistan with her older sister. The rest of the family, parents, Simon and three other brothers found refuge in a basement in Romania.

Simon Glasberg then emigrated to Canada after the war and Hilda eventually went to Israel in 1998 after living in Estonia.

While most of the other family dies (the Glasberg parents lived well into their 90s and died in the Nineteen Eighties, the surviving siblings are Simon, Hilda and Mark.

They will be spending the Rosh Hashanah holiday together in Israel where Simon and other siblings went to reunite with Hilda.

Simon said mentioned that his parents always wanted to reunite all their children.

"My poor parents, they always said, 'We wish we would find all our kids'" he said. "It is such a tragedy, but now I am so happy."

This is the second reunion of siblings lost during the Holocaust who found each other through the Yad Vashem database. Recently sisters were reunited after being apart for 61 years.

Happy News for the Jewish New Year.


Friday, September 15, 2006

Human Rights Violation in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan was a Soviet Republic until 1991 when it broke away. Considered a dictatorship, the President and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers Saparmurat Nitazov has absolute power going so far as to prevent any religious practices. This totalitarian, secular, cult-of-personality government opposes religious freedom and human rights. The freedom of the press is near the bottom of all countries in the world.

The United Nations today called for an investigation of Turkmenistan for the death of a human rights activist and journalist, Ogulsapar Muradova. She was with the Bulgaria-based Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, and was a reporter with U.S.-funded Radio Liberty. Tried in the country on trumped up charges, the reporter along with two other activists were arrested in June. Knowing the reputation it shouldn’t surprise anyone the actions of this government.

Pope Benedict XVI's comment against Islam

Pope Benedict XVI quoted a book during a speech to a German University that described a conversation between a 14th century Byzantine Christian Emperor Manuel Paleologos II and a Persian scholar on the truths of Christianity and Islam.

"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said. "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'"

Many in the Muslim world are now outraged by the remark. In Turkey, where the Pope hopes to make his first visit to a Muslim country this November, members of the ruling president’s party there called the quote “ignorance.”

Islamic religious groups protested quickly to the Pope’s words and demanded an apology saying he was throwing gasoline on a fire raging in the world between religious groups and also likened the comment to a movement to bring back the Crusades.

The First Crusade was Medieval campaigns in the name of Christianity backed by Pope Urban II. The Byzantine emperor Alexius I called for help defending his empire against the Turks and the Pope offered full penance to any Christians to join the war and help defend the empire and free the Holy Land. The war grew in power and force.

The war helped the Pope fuel Christian passion. Until the 11th Century, Christians were allowed to visit the Holy Land peacefully on their pilgrimages. Then the Turks took over Jerusalem and prevented Christians form visiting. The Pope called for all Christian princes to take up arms and campaign to free the Holy Lands from Turkish control.

What followed were twelve more crusades but none matched the fervor of the First Crusade.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad President of the Islamic Republic of Iran expressed the following statement in a speech:

“They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets. The West has given more significance to the myth of the genocide of the Jews, even more significant than God, religion, and the prophets, (it) deals very severely with those who deny this myth but does not do anything to those who deny God, religion, and the prophet. If you have burned the Jews, why don't you give a piece of Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to Israel? Our question is, if you have committed this huge crime, why should the innocent nation of Palestine pay for this crime?”

What he says here is that the holocaust is a myth and if we believe this myth then Europe or America should give up a piece of its land for Isreal. This is a curious statement since almost everyhwere in Europe and America (I do say slmost because in theory it is correct) Jews are welcome to setlle in any place they like.

Of course the heart of the matter is that not one Muslim leader protested against this hateful comment. Of course the United States and Germany had something to say to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but silence from the Muslim world. No protests in the streets over inflaming religious hatred, no publich condemnations, the Pakistan's parliament did not adopt a resolution condemning the Iranian leader as they did to condemn the Pope.

The overreaction in the Muslim world to perceived insults and minor infractions, like the cartoon controversy earlier last year show the instability in the leadership of that part of the world. Public outcry against statements or opinions comes from one direction only.

I find this to be an appalling state in the Muslim community. Where one leader can insanely deny one of the 20th Century’s worst humanitarian crimes without rebuke from his people but a statement from another religious leader or even a political cartoon can incite this type of reaction.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years.

I can't believe it's been that long. Yet personally and politically there have been so many changes in the past five years.

Take this time to reflect on the words of others who spoke out that day and in the days that followed. If only we could have harnessed that outpouring of sympathy from the world and not turned the world against us.

"All of a sudden there were people screaming. I saw people jumping out of the building. Their arms were flailing. I stopped taking pictures and started crying."
--Michael Walters, a free-lance photo journalist in Manhattan.

"The city is going to survive, we are going to get through it, It's going to be very, very difficult time. I don't think we yet know the pain that we're going to feel when we find out who we lost, but the thing we have to focus on now is getting this city through this, and surviving and being stronger for it."
--Rudolph Giuliani

As for those that carried out these attacks there are no adequate words of condemnation. Their barbarism will stand as their shame for all eternity.
--British Prime Minister Tony Blair

It is with enormous distress that France has just learned of the monstrous attacks—there is no other word for it—that have just struck the United States of America. In these horrifying circumstances, the entire people of France, and I want to emphasize this, stand by the people of America. They express their friendship and solidarity in this tragedy. Naturally, I want to assure President Bush of my total support. France, as you know, has always condemned and unreservedly condemns terrorism, and considers that terrorism must be combated by all possible means.
--French President Jacques Chirac, September 11, 2001.

It was with horror that I learned of the abominable terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington in which so many innocent people have lost their lives. My government staunchly condemns these acts of terrorism. The German people are at the side of the United States of America in this difficult hour. I wish to express my deep-felt condolences and complete solidarity to you and the American people. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.
--German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, September 11, 2001.

I was stricken by news and television pictures coming from the United States this morning. It is impossible to fully comprehend the evil that would have conjured up such a cowardly and depraved assault upon thousands of innocent people. There can be no cause or grievance that could ever justify such unspeakable violence. Indeed, such an attack is an assault not only on the targets but an offense against the freedom and rights of all civilized nations.
--Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien , September 11, 2001.

This morning we were notified about the horrible news of the series of terrorist attacks in the United States, that have left a great trail of destruction. Mexico expresses its condolences to the Government and the American people for the irreparable human losses. We also express our energetic condemnation to these attacks. I have informed President George Bush of our feelings of sorrow and our solidarity in such difficult moments.
--Mexican President Vicente Fox, , September 11, 2001.

Shocked to learn of the serious attacks against certain areas in New York City and Washington D.C. on September 11, which caused horrendous casualty, I wish to express, on behalf of the Chinese Government and people, our deepest sympathy and solicitude to you and, through you, to the Government and people of the United States. I wish also to extend our condolences to the families of the victims. The Chinese Government has consistently condemned and rejected all forms of terrorist violence.
--Chinese President Jiang Zemin, September 11, 2001.

The United States today faced an unprecedented act of aggression on the part of international terrorism. First of all, I express sincere and profound condolences to all the victims and the families of the dead. The event that occurred in the US today goes beyond national borders. It is a brazen challenge to the whole humanity, at least to civilized humanity. And what happened today is added proof of the relevance of the Russian proposal to pool the efforts of the international community in the struggle against terrorism, that plague of the 21st century. Russia knows at first hand what terrorism is. So, we understand as well as anyone the feelings of the American people. Addressing the people of the United States on behalf of Russia I would like to say that we are with you, we entirely and fully share and experience your pain. We support you.
--Russian President Valdimir Putin, September 12, 2001.

We take it so close to heart because we all know what it is. Points of contention between the United States and Russia seem like minor disputes between neighbors that fade in the face of such great sorrow, which unites people.
--Valentina Nikitina, Russian economist

The whole international community will be united in condemning what they have done.
--Nato Secretary General Lord Robertson