Friday, May 16, 2008

Barack Obama says he's not soft on terror

So maybe Obama can explain his plan to give Osama bin Laden exactly what he wants.

Iraq is the perfect base to set up the jihad to liberate Palestine

-- Osama bin Laden, audiotape, released March 21, 2008

. . . the situation in Iraq brings news that the victory of Islam and the defeat of the [American] crusaders and those who stand under their banner is near, Allah willing

-- Ayman al-Zawahiri, interview, released April 17, 2008

Back in December, bin Laden even gave an entire speech devoted to the need to throw the Americans out of Iraq:

My speech to you today is about the conspiracies devised by the Zionist-Crusader alliance under the lead of America -- in cooperation with its agents in the region -- to hijack the fruits of the blessed Jihad in Mesopotamia, and what our duty is in frustrating these conspiracies.

In light of these statements, Obama's plan to withdraw from Iraq amounts to giving Osama bin Laden exactly what he wants. And that is softness on terror.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Straight from the Horse's Mouth

In case you are still wondering whether or not Al Qaeda in Iraq reports to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, a recently released interview with Ayman al-Zawahiri may be of help. Here is one of the answers he gave about Iraq:

Q: What is your estimation of the current situation in Iraq? What is your position with regards to the jihadist movements in Iraq headed by the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and the Ansar al-Sunnah organization? . . . .

A: First, the situation in Iraq brings news that the victory of Islam and the defeat of the crusaders and those who stand under their banner is near, Allah willing. Second, regarding the distinguished brothers from Ansar al-Sunnah, I have clearly stated my opinion previously. Third, the Islamic State [of Iraq] is a step towards the establishment of the caliphate, and is superior to the other armed jihadi movements. Thus, it is these groups that are obliged to acknowledge [the authority] of the Islamic State and not vice versa. The Amir al-Mumineen Abu Omar al-Baghdadi -- may Allah protect him -- is one of the great leaders of the Muslims and mujahideen during this era, and we ask Allah to grant him and us the strength to stand upright, victory, and success.

I have put part of al-Zawahiri's answer in boldface here for emphasis. Notice that al-Zawahiri is saying that other armed jihadi groups in Iraq must acknowledge the authority of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, who heads up the Islamic State, an Al Qaeda front group.

If you believe that Al Qaeda in Iraq, AKA the Islamic State in Iraq, does not report to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, you have got to ask yourself why would al-Zawahiri be insisting that other armed groups in Iraq acknowledge the authority of the ISI? Would he really do that if the ISI didn't report to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The New York Times trumpets a nonsensical study

Yesterday's New York Times had an article about a study of the death penalty in Harris County, Texas. The article began as follows:

About 1,100 people have been executed in the United States in the last three decades. Harris County, Tex., which includes Houston, accounts for more than 100 of those executions. Indeed, Harris County has sent more people to the death chamber than any state but Texas itself.

Yet Harris County’s capital justice system has not been the subject of intensive research — until now. A new study to be published in The Houston Law Review this fall has found two sorts of racial disparities in the administration of the death penalty there, one commonplace and one surprising

The unexceptional finding is that defendants who kill whites are more likely to be sentenced to death than those who kill blacks. More than 20 studies around the nation have come to similar conclusions.

But the new study also detected a more straightforward disparity. It found that the race of the defendant by itself plays a major role in explaining who is sentenced to death.

The last sentence (which I have highlighted in bold) is the main point of contention. The article eventually quotes someone who is suspicious of the study's methodology. But a reader would have to go deep into the article to see that quote. And the article fails to point out the worst flaws in the study.

To see what is really going on, you need to look at the study itself. You can find it here. A few facts jump out:

First of all, as the article notes, of 100 defendants indicted for capital crimes in Harris County, 27% of the blacks and 25% of the whites were sentenced to death. No bias there.

However, after controlling for the mitigating and aggravating factors such as the heinousness of the crime, the study found bias.

But the study measured the mitigating and aggravating factors by looking at newspaper coverage of the case! So what if the newspaper coverage depends on the assailant's race? Many people have complained that a murder in a white area is big news, while a murder in a black area is not. So if the white area murderers get more thorough newspaper coverage than the black murderers, the study is going to find more aggravating factors, which makes the white murderers appear "worse" than the black ones, which in turn makes it appear unfair that they are sentenced to death at an equal rate.

That's not all. The study also reports that there were plea bargains in 38% of the cases with white defendants, and only 28% of the cases with black defendants. In capital cases, it is common for the defendant to agree to plead guilty if the prosecutor is willing to take the death penalty off the table. The statistics suggest (but do not prove) that the white defendants are more willing to plea bargain. Now, all other things being equal, a group of defendants that is more willing to plea bargain should be sentenced to death less often. But this is a result of the decisions of the defendant's themselves.

So you have a study which started with a situation that looks raceially neutral (27% of black capital defendants sentenced to death vs. 25% of whites). There are several confounding factors. Based on the newspaper coverage, the heinousness of the murders committed by whites appears to be worse than the heinousness of the murders committed by blacks. So the study controls for heinousness. Based on plea bargaining data, whites appear to be more willing to plea bargain than blacks. But the study's author, who realizes that a conclusion of racial bias will get more press than a conclusion of no racial bias, elects not to control for the defendant's willingness to plea bargain. And lo and behold, the study ends up concluding that there is racial bias.

The study's author is rewarded with coverage in the New York Times.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Find me one

Find me one liberal with a detailed analysis of the Iraq war. Just one.

What do I mean by a detailed analysis?

I mean an analysis that answers the basic and natural questions. Questions like these.

Who are the suicide bombers? Where do they come from? Why do they go to Iraq?

Whom do they target? Why do they target those people? Why do they believe those people are legitimate targets? What do they hope to accomplish by murdering those people?

If you do any serious investigation of these issues, you will learn the following:

The suicide bombers of Iraq come from all across the Arab world. The most common countries of origin are Sauidi Arabia and Libya. Their most common targets are innocent Shiite civillians.


If you think like a liberal, you now have a problem. These people are so outraged by the American invasion of Iraq that they go there to blow themselves up and kill . . . American soldiers?


Innocent Shiite civillians.

Once you understand that fact, you are on the path to realizing that withdrawal is not an option.

And that is why there are no detailed liberal analyses of Iraq.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The New York Times is at it again, with a twist.

Here is the New York Times describing Al Qaeda in Iraq [or Mesopotamia] today:

American intelligence says the group is homegrown but foreign-led.

This is a new twist. Previously, they always said something like this:

the homegrown Sunni militant group that American intelligence believes has foreign leadership.

So now the Times is attributing both the "homegrown" and "foreign led" to American intelligence. Is this simply an editing error? Or has the Times changed its line?

Meanwhile, in case you are still unclear on whether or not the "homegrown" descriptor is accurate, I decided to take a look at a few homegrown organizations here in the USA to see how many of them have foreign leadership:

United States Golf Association
American Contract Bridge League
United States Army
National Restaurant Association

After perusing all four websites for a while, I found names, addresses, and biographies of leaders of each of the four organizations. Strangely, not one of these four homegrown American organizations has any foreign leadership at all. Not only could I not find any top leaders who were from (say) Canada or England, but even when I looked at the second tier, I couldn't find any foreigners there, either.

In case you are still in doubt, here is some more evidence. The Islamic Army in Iraq was a legitimately homegrown Iraqi insurgent group. I haven't heard much from them lately. I'm not sure if joined the Awakening Councils, or even if they are still active at all. At any rate, back in 2007, they broke relations with the Islamic State in Iraq, an Al Qaeda front group. This conflict is described here. The two organizations had a shooting war back in 2007. Now that in and of itself doesn't prove anything. It is perfectly possible for two groups of Iraqis to have a war.

But what is interesting is the nature of the Islamic Army's complaints about the Islamic State. From the link above:

• al Qaeda in Iraq has divided the Iraqi people, failed to protect the Sunnis and brought the Shia death squads down on the Sunnis by inciting sectarian violence through mass suicide attacks.
• The Islamic State of Iraq in Iraq wants the Sunni groups to "pledge allegiance" to leaders, ministers and emirs whose identities are unknown, including Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.
• Islamic State of Iraq has continued to conduct an extensive campaign of assassination against rival sheikhs, emirs and insurgent group leaders, and in many cases added insult to injury by failing to give the bodies back to the families. One of al-Jabouri's own messengers was executed.
• The Islamic State of Iraq has no system of law or justice.
• Weapons and ammunition are being confiscated from insurgent groups that do not support the Islamic State.
• al Qaeda in Iraq is intentionally targeting members of the Iraqi Army and police forces, who al-Jabouri and other insurgents believe are acting in the best interest of Iraqis.
• The goal of the Islamic State of Iraq is to serve as a stepping stone to attack other nations, which endangers the Iraqi people.

Notice that several of these complaints are basically saying that the Islamic State is not working for Iraqis at all. The last two points are particularly notable in this regard.

It would be strange for a "homegrown" Iraqi insurgent group, which the New York Times wants us to believe Al Qaeda is, to do things like that. Very strange indeed.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

More on the Big Lie Technique

Following up on the investigation described in my previous post, I did a search for articles published in the New York Times during the last week that contained the phrase "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia" but not the word "homegrown". Google had some hits which it thought were dated during the past week, but upon closer examination, they all referred to older articles. A few were from earlier in April, and others were from 2006 or 2007.

So in the past week, the New York Times has published 11 articles which refer to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. All 11 times, the Times asserts, without evidence, that the group is "homegrown". And all 11 times, it ignores the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, described here and here.

The Big Lie Technique at the New York Times

I did a google search for New York Times articles containing the word "homegrown" and the phrase "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia". Google says there are "about 3,190" hits! It seems that the New York Times describes Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia [or Iraq] as "homegrown" very often.

That many hits are unwieldy. For one thing, it is difficult to tell how many articles generated all those hits. To get a sense of what is really going on, I did an advanced search limited to the past week.

At first, Google said there were "about 177" hits. But when I looked at them more closely, it turned out that there were 12 [correction: 11 -- one of the 12 is old.] articles and one photo description published during the past week containing the word "homegrown" and the phrase "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia." These articles are all linked below:

24 Iranians, Held for Illegal Entry, Escape from Iraqi Prison by Alissa J. Rubin
Accounts Differ Sharply on U.S. Attack in Iraq by Alissa J. Rubin
Attacks Kill 39 in Iraq; Massacre Details Emerge by Alissa J. Rubin
Bomb Kills Dozens at Iraqi Funeral by Erica Goode
Bomb Kills U.S. Soldier in Baghdad by Alissa J. Rubin and Stephen Farrell

Bush Sees Iraq Progress From Troop Buildup by Sheryl Gay Stolberg
Dozens Killed in Bombings in Four Iraqi Cities by Alissa J. Rubin
Execution Case Tests Iraq's Bid to Ease Divide by Richard A. Oppel, Jr. and Alissa J. Rubin
Joint Chiefs Nominee Questioned on Iraq by Mark Mazzetti
McCain, Iraq War, and the threat of 'Al Qaeda' by Michael Cooper and Larry Rohter

Pictures of the Day, April 18
Two Different Accounts of Deadly Airstrike in Baghdad by Alissa J. Rubin
U.S. Investigates Civilian Toll in Airstrike, but holds Insurgents Responsible by Paul von Zielbauer

I've listed the author next to each article. As you can see, five of the twelve articles were written by Alissa J. Rubin. Two were written by Rubin and someone else, and the remaining five were all written by different reporters. In all, a total of nine different reporters contributed to the twelve articles. So whatever is going on, it's not limited to a single reporter, or even to a small group.

Next, I took a look at the sentence which made the Al Qaeda reference. Below, I have reproduced the sentence of each article which refers to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia as "homegrown".

They said that the Iraqis who were killed were trying to defend their town from Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Sunni militant group that American intelligence believes has foreign leadership.

The group, a homegrown Sunni Arab insurgent organization with some foreign participation, had previously effectively controlled the neighborhood.

American military forces have engaged in major operations in the province for the past month and have succeeded in dislodging from Baquba Sunni extremists associated with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a home-grown group with some foreign involvement that has claimed a loose affiliation with Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

Sheik Amir Habeeb al-Khaizaran, a member of Parliament whose brother is the head of the Azawi group, said that the two men mourned at the funeral were killed by other members of their tribe who were loyal to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia , the homegrown Sunni insurgent group.

The American military warned Friday that intelligence reports indicated that “numerous” members of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Sunni insurgent group that American intelligence says has foreign leadership, “have entered the Baghdad area with the purpose of carrying out vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or suicide-vest attacks.”

But he argued, as he has in the past, that reconciliation was taking place at the local level, and that Shiite and Sunni leaders were beginning to cooperate with one another to fight against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown extremist group that American intelligence agencies say is foreign-led.

“The security forces in the province are very good, but their biggest challenge is that they are fighting Qaeda, insurgency and other gangs and armed groups,” said Maj. Gen. Abdul Karim al-Rubaie, the chief of operations for Diyala Province, referring to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Sunni insurgent group.

If the government executes him, it risks alienating potential allies in the fight against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Sunni insurgent group that American intelligence officials say is foreign-led.

The officers said the American and Iraqi militaries had made gains against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is foreign-led.

It is a largely homegrown and loosely organized group of Sunni Arabs that, according to the official American military view that Mr. McCain endorses, is led at least in part by foreign operatives and receives fighters, financing and direction from senior Qaeda leaders.

American forces also announced that they had killed a man they described as a senior terrorist in an airstrike in Musayyib, south of Baghdad, on Tuesday. The military said that the man, Abu Osama al-Tunisi, was a leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown extremist group whose leadership has foreign ties, according to American intelligence.

The military said that the man, Abu Osama al-Tunisi, was a leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a homegrown extremist group whose leadership has foreign ties, according to American intelligence.

Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is a homegrown Sunni extremist group that American intelligence says is foreign led.

In each case, I have put the group's description in boldface. Interesting, isn't it? Every time, Every time, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, is described as "extremist", not "terrorist". Every time, the times claims without evidence that it is "homegrown", without supplying any supporting evidence, and also without mentioning the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And if the patently obvious fact that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is foreign led is mentioned at all, it is attributed to "the American military" or "American intelligence" -- thereby allowing a reader who is suspicious of the American military and intelligence to doubt the truth of that assertion.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The New York Times repeats a nonsensical claim

In yesterday's front-page article about John McCain and Al Qaeda in Iraq, the New York Times published the following passage:

The entity Mr. McCain was referring to — Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, also known as Al Qaeda in Iraq — did not exist until after the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. The most recent National Intelligence Estimates consider it the most potent offshoot of Al Qaeda proper, the group led by Osama bin Laden that is now believed to be based on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

It is a largely homegrown and loosely organized group of Sunni Arabs that, according to the official American military view that Mr. McCain endorses, is led at least in part by foreign operatives and receives fighters, financing and direction from senior Qaeda leaders.

Let's take a look at this, piece by piece:

According to the NYT, Al Qaeda in Iraq is "largely Homegrown." This is a claim the NYT has made before. It is contradicted by overwhelming evidence that Al Qaeda in Iraq was created at the direction of Osama bin Laden and shares the same philosophy, goals, tactics, and methods as the rest of Al Qaeda. This evidence is summarized here.

Then there is the statement that that Al Qaeda in Iraq is "loosely organized". Strangely, the NYT does not say exactly what it means by this. I guess it is supposed to give the reader the impression that Al Qaeda in Iraq consists of a bunch of Iraqis (since it is "largely homegrown") who don't like the US. Since the NYT does not say exactly what it means by "loosely organized", this phrase doesn't really mean much. But it helps the article's reader to believe the NYT's preferred vision of the nature of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

We also have the true statement that Al Qaeda in Iraq did not exist before 2003. The liberal reader who reads this can easily jump to the conclusion that this, together with the allegedly "homegrown" nature of Al Qaeda in Iraq, makes its existence the fault of George Bush's decision to invade Iraq.

Then there is the last phrase:

according to the official American military view that Mr. McCain endorses, is led at least in part by foreign operatives and receives fighters, financing and direction from senior Qaeda leaders.

By describing this as the "official American military view", the NYT makes it easy for its readers, many of whom don't trust the American military, to distrust this view. But again, if Al Qaeda in Iraq and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda share the same philosophy, goals, tactics, and methods, that is awfully strong evidence that the "official American military view" is correct.

UPDATE: In the same article, the New York Times had the following passage:

But some students of the insurgency say Mr. McCain is making a dangerous generalization. “The U.S. has not been fighting Al Qaeda, it’s been fighting Iraqis,” said Juan Cole, a fierce critic of the war who is the author of “Sacred Space and Holy War: The Politics, Culture and History of Shi’ite Islam” and a professor of history at the University of Michigan. (emphasis added)

It was amusing, therefore, that this article just appeared on CNN:

Al Qaeda in Iraq calls for offensive against U.S.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A man claiming to be the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq mocked the death toll of American troops and urged his fighters to launch an offensive against U.S. forces in the next few weeks.

Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, is the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Click to view previous image
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The speaker was identified as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, also known as Abu Ayyub al-Masri, on several Islamist Web sites that posted the recording.

"The reason I give this speech is that the enemy declared -- even though it might be lying -- that its death toll in Iraq has reached 4,000," he said.

"So we call upon our heroes ... to ask every group within a month from the time it hears this, to offer the head of an American as a gift to the deceitful [President] Bush," he continued.

According to his Wikipedia article, Al Masri is from Egypt.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The latest mass murder in Iraq

You may have read about this:

Car bombs kill nearly 60 in Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) — Car bombs and a suicide attacker struck crowded areas in Baghdad and former insurgent strongholds to the north and west of the capital on Tuesday, killing nearly 60 people and breaking a recent lull in violence in the predominantly Sunni areas.

The attacks were a deadly reminder of the threat posed by suspected Sunni insurgents even as clashes between Shiite militia fighters and U.S.-Iraqi forces continued elsewhere.

The first blast Tuesday occurred in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, when a car parked in front of a restaurant exploded just before noon across the street from the central courthouse and other government offices.

Many of the victims were people visiting the government offices, petition writers helping people with documents in stalls outside, or the occupants of cars that were caught in the explosion as they passed through the area, witnesses said. Several cars and minibuses were set ablaze, while more than 10 shops and the restaurant were heavily damaged.

The article blames "suspected Sunni insurgents." Is that really a fair description? Who are their targets? "Many of the victims were people visiting government offices, petition writers . . ." That sounds more like terrorists.

Furthermore, this bombing bears some of the hallmarks of Al Qaeda.

The victims were mainly civillians (and not, for example US soldiers).
The means was a car bomb

Typically, al Qaeda targets Shiite civillians. From the article, it is unclear how many of the victims of this latest outrage were Shiites. But it is clear that they were largely people who had business before the Government. If you have been following the news from Iraq, you are aware that there has been a falling out between al Qaeda and Iraqi Sunnis who have decided to throw their lot in with the government. This time, the victims here were largely people with business before the government. Has al Qaeda, in its anger at losing the support of many Sunnis, decided that they are legitimate targets as well?

I suspect the answer is yes, but I don't really know. At any rate, I wish the article would have pointed out the similarities between this bombing and typical al Qaeda attacks -- as well as the one possible difference. It's something the reader deserves to know.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Human Intelligence and the war on terror

The CIA helped, a lot, in winning the cold war. What about the war on terror?

A spy could be absolutely devestating to a group like al Qaeda. This is especially true if the spy were able to reach the highest levels of the target. Operation after operation would be busted, and al Qaeda would have no idea why.

There is a problem. To penetrate to the inner reaches of al Qaeda, the spy would have to participate in terror attacks. To really get their trust, it would have to include attacks that kill many people.

What should be done? Should the American people authorize this? The life lost could be yours or mine. But so could the life saved -- if we are really able to penetrate them deeply.

Not a pleasant question. But if we are serious about winning the war on terror, it's the type of question we have to confront.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama opposed to the Law of Supply and Demand?

From a recent news story:

. . . . Clinton has taken to lashing out at the Bush administration's oil policy.

"The president is too busy holding hands with the Saudis to care about American truck drivers who can't afford to fill up their tank any longer," she said.

Obama, meanwhile, said Monday a crackdown is needed on oil companies.

"[We] need a president who can stand up to Big Oil and big energy companies and say enough is enough," Obama said Monday

I've got some news for both of them. We have pretty much the same oil industry that we had back in 1998, when crude oil traded at an average of about $12 a barrell -- about one eighth of today's price.

The current spike in oil prices has very little to do with the oil industry or the Bush administration. It is part of a major worldwide rise of the prices of many basic commodities, including gold, silver, oil, and steel. The cause of this spike is a combination of still-high oil consumption in the USA and rapidly rising consumption in booming Asian economies, particularly China.

Heck even the Onion understood perfectly well what was happening -- back in 2005.

I have a feeling that both Clinton and Obama know perfectly well what is going on, too. I suppose I can't blame them too much for playing to their audience. But it sure makes them look stupid.

As for the Saudis, they could probably lower prices by increasing production. But they don't appear to be inclined to do this. And even if they were, would they really be doing the world a favor?

English Mullah says that killing of non-Muslims is legitimate

This has got to be seen to be believed.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dealing with militant Islam

If you are liberal, you may have opinions on how to deal with militant Islam. I want to urge you to take a step back, and examine the evidence. If your opinion is simply the result of your dislike for Bush, you are not examining the evidence. Here are some questions to ask:

What does militant Islam want?
How does it plan to achieve those goals?
Can it be satisfied by concessions?
How does Iraq fit into the thinking of militant Muslims?

And the answers to these questions need to come from the statements of militant Muslims. It is not enough to think what answers they might give. You need to go find out what they are actually saying. Furthermore, you need to think about which statements are more helpful:

1) What they say, in English, to Westerners, or
2) What they say, in Arabic, to their own people.

I believe that the second group of statements is far more valuable. The first group of statements is intended to get Westerners to do what they want. Therefore, it is not particularly helpful in trying to understand their ultimate motivations. The statements that will explain what they want is what they say that is not intended for Western consumption.

Most readers of this probably don't speak Arabic. So you have to go to translations. That's why a book like the Al Qaeda Reader is so valuable. Raymond Ibrahim has gone to the trouble of finding what top al Qaeda leaders wrote, in Arabic, to the Muslim world. That is where you can get the best evidence of Al Qaeda's motivations, and its short-term and long-term goals.

If you research these questions, and you are honest with yourself when you look at the evidence, you will come to answers something like this:

1) Top militant Muslims, such as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, want to convert the entire world to Islam. They have openly said so many times. (Here is another example) Furthermore, al Qaeda has won many supporters throughout the Muslim world. Therefore, it is fair to say that militant Islam, as a whole, is working towards this goal.

2) They plan to use force and violence to achieve these goals. They constantly say so, and they constantly glorify their violent deeds.

3) Short of the entire world converting to Islam and agreeing to adopt
Sharia law, no.

4) Top militant Muslims view the defeat of the U.S. in Iraq as a stepping stone to other, intermediate-term goals. Commonly-expressed goals include the overthrow of secular Muslim regimes such as those in Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and the destruction of Israel. Examples are here and here.

If you are honest with yourself, and if you listen to what these people are saying, these are the conclusions you are likely to reach. And if you reach those conclusions, you will realize that in this fight, there can be no end save victory. And you also realize that like it or not, the Iraq war is part of this fight.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The al Qaeda we are fighting in Iraq is the real al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda.

Many Americans seem to think that the al Qaeda we are fighting in Iraq is somehow not the real al Qaeda. Here, for example, is how the New York Times describes it:

An insurgent group operating in Iraq, called Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, is actually a homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is foreign led. The extent of its links to Osama bin Laden's network is not clear. Some leaders of the group have sworn allegiance to Mr. bin Laden, but the precise links and extent of affiliation are unknown, and it was created after the American invasion.

It is revealing that the New York Times does not cite any evidence to support its assertion that al Qaeda in Mesopotamia [i.e, Iraq] is "homegrown". By contrast, I will give you evidence to support my assertion that al Qaeda in Iraq is part of Osama Bin Laden's al Qaeda. That's how honest debate works. If you make an assertion, you give evidence to support it.

First of all, way back in 2003, Newsweek magazine reported that Osama bin Laden was shifting his fighters from Afghanistan to Iraq:
Bin Laden's Iraq Plans

By Sami Yousafzai, Ron Moreau and Michael Hirsh

Monday 15 December 2003

At a secret meeting, bin Laden's reps give bad news to the Taliban: Qaeda fighters are shifting to a new front.

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, three senior Qaeda representatives allegedly held a secret meeting in Afghanistan with two top Taliban commanders.

The confab took place in mid-November in the remote, Taliban-controlled mountains of Khowst province near the Pakistan border, a region where Al Qaeda has found it easy to operate?frequently even using satellite phones despite U.S. surveillance.

At that meeting, according to Taliban sources, Osama bin Laden's men officially broke some bad news to emissaries from Mullah Mohammed Omar, the elusive leader of Afghanistan's ousted fundamentalist regime. Their message: Al Qaeda would be diverting a large number of fighters from the anti-U.S. insurgency in Afghanistan to Iraq. Al Qaeda also planned to reduce by half its $3 million monthly contribution to Afghan jihadi outfits.

All this was on the orders of bin Laden himself, the sources said.
More recently, al Qaeda in Iraq has made its feelings about Osama bin Laden perfectly clear:

Al-Qaida front group airs video glorifying Osama bin Laden
Friday, June 8, 2007

BAGHDAD: An al-Qaida front group aired a nearly hour-long video Friday showing dozens of masked men singing religious and patriotic songs and brandishing automatic weapons as they praised Osama bin Laden and the leader of the Taliban.

The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group that includes the terror network, included footage with excerpts from old speeches by the al-Qaida leader and slain al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who died a year ago Thursday in a U.S. airstrike northeast of Baghdad.

The songs praised jihad, or holy war, as well as bin Laden and Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar . . .

Furthermore, there is the matter of the home countries of the suicide bombers of Iraq. For this, my source is none other than . . . the New York Times. In an article last November, the Times detailed data captured by American forces during a raid in northern Iraq. The country that supplied the largest number of foreign fighters was none other than . . . Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, you may remember, is also the home of 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers, and of Osama bin Laden.

So what do these foreign fighters do when they arrive in Iraq? Buried deep within the article, much of which is intended to give the reader the impression that Al Qaeda is not an important part of the insurgency, the Times gets to the heart of the matter:

After the raid on the Sinjar cell, the number of suicide bombings in Iraq fell to 16 in October — half the number seen during the summer months and down sharply from a peak of 59 in March. American military officials believe that perhaps 90 percent of such bombings are carried out by foreign fighters. They also believe that about half of the foreign fighters who come to Iraq become suicide bombers. (emphasis added)

OK. So maybe you don't trust the American military. Perhaps they are making that up. Or maybe you don't trust the Times. I don't either, but when it reports news that goes against its liberal philosophy, my trust level for the Times increases. But just for the sake of argument, let's say you aren't yet convinced.

There is also the matter of whom the suicide bombers target.

Here, for example, is a 2005 report from Human Rights Watch (definitely not a gang of pro-Bush Zealots) which states unequivocally

In terms of casualties, the religious or ethnic group most targeted by insurgents in Iraq is Shi`a Muslims . . .

Shiite Muslims are, of course, the very same group that Zarqawi described in his leter to al-Zawahiri as

. . . the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom.

They also generally support the Iraqi Government, which, since it is trying to be a democracy, does not rule by Sharia, and is supported by Americans, falls into a group of governments that al-Zawahiri has variously described as "outcasts", "apostates", and "infidels".

Still not convinced? Let's take a look at the tactics of the two [in your mind, allegedly different] al Qaedas. First of all, there is al Qaeda #1, Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda. They like to use multiple bombs, timed to go off at the same time (or as close as possible), and planned to kill large numbers of innocent civillians. That's what they did on:

September 11,
The African Embassy bombings,
The Madrid bombings, and
The London bombings.

Then there is al Qaeda #2, al Qaeda in Iraq. Coincidentally, they also sometimes use multiple bombs, timed to go off at the same time, and planned to kill large numbers of innocent civillians. That's what they did on:

The Amman bombings (which, in what you must believe is a strange coincidence, happened on 11/9)
The bombings that killed several hundred Yazidis
These attacks which killed about 100 Iraqi Shiite civillians

On other occasions, al Qaeda in Iraq has used only a single bomb:

This attack, aimed at Sheikhs opposed to al Qaeda in Iraq;
This assassination of a sheikh opposed to al Qaeda in Iraq.

Summing up: Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda and al Qaeda in Iraq both:

* get large numbers of recruits from Saudi Arabia
* love Osama bin Laden
* communicate with each other via videos and letters
* agree that it is desirable to kill innocent civillians
* agree that Shiites are scum, and
* use coordinated suicide bombings

In light of all of this, the New York Times' description looks strange, doesn't it. It would have been much more informative if the Times had written a paragraph laying out the overwhelming evidence that the "two" al Qaedas are part of the same organization. But that conclusion, which is as obvious as could be, is not convenient for the Times. So instead they published the paragraph quoted at the beginning of this post:

An insurgent group operating in Iraq, called Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, is actually a homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is foreign led. The extent of its links to Osama bin Laden's network is not clear. Some leaders of the group have sworn allegiance to Mr. bin Laden, but the precise links and extent of affiliation are unknown, and it was created after the American invasion.

Now that you are aware of the evidence, it should be clear as day to you what the Times is doing. By slyly attributing the conclusion that al Qaeda in Iraq is foreign led to "American intelligence agencies", the Times leaves the door wide open for any reader who doesn't trust such agencies to doubt the truth of that conclusion. Of course, in doing this, the Times is economical with the truth, as it ignores all the evidence described above.

Then, the Times makes another sly statement: the extent of the connection between al Qaeda in Iraq and Osama bin Laden's network is not clear. Well, of course not; terrorists don't work in the open. But it is clear that the "two" al Qaedas share the same name, goals, tactics, targets, and leadership. What more do you really need?

Lastly, the Times points out that al Qaeda in Iraq was formed after the American invasion -- leaving the door wide open for the reader to blame Bush. Once again, the Times is ignoring the overwhelming evidence that al Qaeda in Iraq is doing Osama bin Laden's bidding, but hey, when United States public opinion is at stake, who cares about trivia?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The New York Times is mystified about why Al Qaeda in Iraq is murdering innocent Iraqi Shiite civillians

Here is the headline of a recent story from the New York Times about al Qaeda in Iraq:

Al Qaeda's war aims

Shortly after September 11, and in response to this letter from American intellectuals, bin Laden wrote a letter to the American people. This letter is reproduced in The Al Qaeda Reader. It details why Al Qaeda is at war with America and Al Qaeda's war aims.

This extraordinary document is 12 pages in length. This fact alone should give great pause to any American who thinks that we can have peace by withdrawing from Iraq.

Here are a few of the reasons bin Laden says he is at war with us:

The British, with your help and support, handed over Palestine to the Jews, who have occupied it for more than fifty years . . .

You attacked us in Somalia; you supported the Russian atrocities against us in Chechnya, the Indian oppression against us in Kashmir, and the Jewish aggression against us in Lebanon.

. . . the governments of our countries -- which act as your agents, -- attack us on a daily basis . . . . The removal of these governments is an obligation on us . . .

You steal our oil at paltry prices . . .

After saying that his list (of which only part is quoted above) are only some of the reasons he has gone to war with us, bin Laden then states what he is trying to accomplish, i.e, his war aims. These war aims are more expansive than those quoted here.

First, the United States must convert to Islam:

The first thing we are calling you to is Islam . . .

Secondly, the United States must begin living by Bin Laden's moral standards:

We call you to . . . reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and usury.

You are a nation who, rather than ruling through the
Sharia of Allah, chooses to invent your own laws . . .

Go ahead and boast to the nations of man that you brought them AIDS as a Satanic American invention!
[bin Laden seems to have forgotten that this portion of his letter is about war aims, not grievances]

. . . the Jews . . . control your policies, media, and economy . . .

Additionally, the United States must stop supporting Arab governments that do not govern by Sharia:

We call upon you to end your support of the corrupt leaders in our countries . . . .Leave us alone, or else expect us in New York and Washington.

The reader should understand that the above is only a portion of the war aims bin Laden lists in his letter.

Bin Laden then makes it clear that to end the war, the United States must agree to all of his conditions, not just some of them:

If you fail to respond to all these conditions then prepare to fight . . .

Friday, March 21, 2008

Al Qaeda is at war with the Muslim world, too.

The next essay in the Al Qaeda Reader was written by Ayman al-Zawahiri. It is entitled Sharia and Democracy. To understand this essay, it is important to understand that under Sharia, the punishment for a sane adult male apostate is execution.

In this essay, al-Zawahiri makes plain his beliefs about the current rulers of the Muslim world. In his typical style, he repeats and restates this belief, over and over again:

The current rulers of Muslim countries who govern without the Sharia are apostate infidels. It is obligatory to overthrow them, to wage jihad against them, and to depose them, installing a Muslim ruler in their stead.

The Koran, the Sunna, all demonstrate that exchanging the Islamic Sharia with something else is infidelity -- especially in the despicable manner that we see today in the lands of Islam. These regimes that exchange the Sharia of Allah are outcasts . . . .

Al-Zawahiri also makes it clear that support Democracy is infidelity to Islam. As usual, he repeats the point many times:

. . . democracy is an infidel religion . . .

. . . we summarize the many faces of blasphemy that are inherent to democracies . . .

The bottom line regarding democracies is that the right to make law is given to someone other than Allah Most High . . . . whoever agrees to this is an infidel . . .

In the process of enumerating one of the many sins of democracies, al-Zawahiri makes perfectly plain his beliefs regarding the status of women.

[Allah] said: "Men have authority over women, for Allah has made the one superior to the other." But in a democracy, women have the right to emulate the dignity and legal status of men.

In his final summing up, al-Zawahiri restates the main point one more time, in case the reader has missed it:

whoever claims to be a "democratic-Muslim" . . . . is an apostate infidel.

Remember that under Sharia, the penalty for apostasy is death. This is always true for sane adult men, and often for women as well. It is because of this principle that Al Qaeda believes that attacks such as the following are justified:

Iraqi Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha murdered by al Qaeda shortly after he meets with Bush

Several hundred Yazidis murdered in four bombings shortly after an al Qaeda front group circulates leaflets warning that an attack is imminent because Yazidis are "anti-Islamic"

Car bomb kills 18 in quiet Shiite Baghdad neighborhood. Bombing bears hallmarks of Al Qaeda.

Suicide bombings on 11/9 (which is 9/11 in Jordan since they put the day before the month) kill at least 60 in three hotels in Amman, Jordan. Al Qaeda in Iraq takes responsibility.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Osama bin Laden is at war with us -- part 3 -- Iraq

Al Jazeera aired a new tape from Osama bin Laden today. The tape gave us a perfect reminder of three blatantly obvious facts:

(1) Osama bin Laden is at war with the United States.
(2) Osama bin Laden sees Iraq as the most important part of this war.
(3) If the United States withdraws from Iraq, Osama bin Laden will declare that he has won a great victory and continue the war by attacking both Israel and secular Muslim countries.

The tape is brief enough that its text can easily be quoted in full: [edit: apparently, the following was an excerpt. The full translated text is available here.]

This message is to the Muslim nation on the siege imposed on the Gaza strip and how to break Gaza and Palestine free of the shackles of the Zionist enemy. The suffocating siege imposed on the Gaza Strip came into the existence after the support offered by the Arab governments to the United States and the Zionist Entity in Annapolis at the expense of the resistance in Palestine. This support is one of the ten forms of sacrelige, and as a result of their support, the Arab states are accomplices to this heinous crime. It is no secret to the Muslim nation that the nearest battlefield of Jihad to support and assist our fellow Palestinians is Iraq. We must brear this in mind and channel all our efforts in this direction. The duty of support and assistance must be shared by all Muslims in the neighboring countries.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Al Qaeda is at war with us -- part 2

The second essay in the Al Qaeda Reader was written by Ayman al-Zawahiri. He is Al Qaeda's second in command, and also its chief theoretician. The essay is entitled "Loyalty and Enmity." This is Zawahiri's doctrine that Muslims must be true friends to each other only, and that all non-Muslims are their enemies.

The essay consists of three parts: theological fundamentals of the doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity, recent deviations from the doctrine, and a conclusion.

Zawahiri gets straight to the point in the opening sentence of part 1:

Allah Most High said: "Let believers [Muslims] not take for friends and allies infidels [non-Muslims] rather than believers; whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allah -- unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions.

The remainder of part 1 repeats, restates, and expands on this point. The following passage is typical:

Love and friendship for them contradicts faith. Allah Most High said: 'O You who believe! Do not take the Jews and the Christains for your friends and protectors; they are but friends and protectors to each other. [underlining in the original].

Part 2 is about deviations from the doctrine espoused in Part 1. For example, in the following passage, Zawahiri makes it plain that his contempt extends to the rulers of several Muslim countries:

Any observer of the Arabian Peninsula, Gulf Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan will see that they have been changed into bases and camps providing administrative and technical support to the Crusader's forces in the heart of the Islamic world . . . .

Through a chain of conspiracies, secret relationships, direct support, bribes, salaries, secret accounts, corruption, and recruitment, the enemies of Islam -- especially Americans, Jews, French, and English -- have succeeded in giving this clique power over the fates of Muslims.

In case Zawahiri's contempt for these rulers is not sufficiently clear to the reader, he sums up by saying this:

They are like lethal bacteria trying to overcome the human immune system, trying to destroy it to sow corruption in the cells of the human body.

In part 3, the conclusion, Zawahiri restates (again) the fundamental doctrine:

Befriending believers and battling infidels are critical pillars in a Muslim's faith.

He also repeats (again) his views about the secular rulers of most Muslim countries:

We renounce you; enmity and hate shall reign between us until you believe in Allah alone [i.e, accept the doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity].

Monday, March 17, 2008

Al Qaeda is at war with us -- Part 1

In order to understand Al Qaeda, it is not enough to watch videotapes of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri understand that these will be translated into English and read in the West.

In order to understand them, one must read that which was not intended for Western consumption. One must read what they wrote, in Arabic, to the Muslim world.

Fortunately, a book entitled The Al Qaeda Reader allows one to do exactly that. It is a collection of English translations of Al Qaeda's most fundamental texts. It is Al Qaeda's version of Mein Kampf.

If you read these texts, you will immediately understand that Al Qaeda's war against us is total, absolute, and utterly uncompromising. It is not limited to any one country or issue. Rather, Al Qaeda's war aim is nothing less than the conversion of the entire world to Islam. Osama Bin Laden's offer to the US to end his war against us if we agree to convert was serious. Until the West converts, agrees to pay Jizya to Muslims, or destroys Al Qaeda, the war will continue.

The first essay in the Al Qaeda Reader was written by Osama Bin Laden. The essay was motivated by an exchange of letters between American and Saudi intellectuals. The Americans started the exchange with a letter entitled What We're Fighting For. It was an affirmation of American values and an explanation of the American response to September 11. The Saudis replied with a letter entitled How We Can Coexist. It welcomed a dialogue with Americans and explained certain points of agreement and disagreement with the American letter.

Bin Laden was deeply offended by the Saudi letter, not least by its title. He therefore wrote an open letter to the Saudis entitled Moderate Islam is a Prostration to the West.

Bin Laden gets right to the point in his opening sentence:

Praise be to Allah, who said: "O People of the Book [Christians and Jews], let us reach an agreement: that we worship none beside Allah, nor assign partners to Him, nor take each other as masters in place of Allah.

The essay -- and in the English translation, it is 40 pages long -- repeats, restates, and expands on this point, over and over. The following passages illustrate:

What the West desires is that we abandon the doctrine of Loyalty and Enmity [Zawahiri's doctrine that Muslims must be loyal to each other and hate non-Muslims], and offensive Jihad [the struggle to force non-Muslims to convert or pay Jizya]. That is the very essence of their request and desire of us. Do the intellectuals, then, think it's actually possible for Muslims to abandon these two commandments and simply to coexist with the West?

Battle, animosity and hatred -- directed from the Muslim to the Infidel -- is the foundation of our religion. The West perceives fighting, emnity, and hatred all for the sake of religion as unjust, hostile, and evil. But whose understanding of justice and righteousness is right -- our notions of justice and righteousness, or theirs?

Furthermore, how can [the Saudi intellectuals] claim that we have no right to force a people to change its particular values, when they transgress the bounds of nature? Such are lies. In fact, Muslims are obligated to raid the land of the infidels, occupy them, and exchange their system of governance for an Islamic system, barring any practice that contradicts the
Sharia from being publically voiced . . . .

Having read these passages, you should not fool yourself. Al Qaeda will not be satisfied by American withdrawal from Iraq, from Afghanistan, or by any other concession, short of American conversion to Islam, or agreement to pay Jizya. Instead, these partial concessions will merely encourage Al Qaeda, smelling success, to step up its war against us.

This is not a pleasant truth, or a truth Americans want to hear. But it is the truth. As a nation, we must make our decisions based on that which is real, not based on that which we wish were real. We must understand the truth of Al Qaeda's intentions, accept it, and act on it. That is not the path we want to follow, and it is not an easy path. But if we wish to maintain our values, it is the only path that is open to us.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

John McCain for President

I am coming off the fence and declaring my support for John McCain. He has been right very often:

In 2003, McCain says more troops are needed in Iraq.
In 2004, McCain says that more troops are needed in Iraq.
In 2005, McCain wants to send more troops to Iraq.
In 2006, McCain says more troops are needed to stabilize Iraq.
In 2007, McCain is a supporter of more troops in Iraq.

McCain calls for Alberto Gonzales to resign.

McCain believes that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming.

McCain believes in evolution

McCain supports NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, and WTO, and opposes subsidies

McCain is against earmarks -- and doesn't even try to get them for his own state.

McCain says that rising costs are the fundamental issue facing American health care -- and adds that he will not tolerate deceptive practices by the industry.

McCain supports the death penalty.

Is he right about everything? No. There are some issues where he is half right:

McCain is against medical maraijuana -- but at least he doesn't want to arrest very sick people for using it.

On gay rights, he is all over the place. One gets the feeling that he wants to support it, but knows it would anger a lot of his supporters. Even Mr. Straight Talk sometimes makes the politically expedient decision.

McCain would be comfortable with a gay President.
McCain supports gay marraige.
McCain opposes gay marraige.
McCain supports leaving gay marraige to the states.

And on a few issues he is wrong:

McCain generally opposes abortion rights.

McCain opposes gun control.

Overall, McCain is right far more often than he is wrong. And he is right about the most important issue. A withdrawal from Iraq would be wrong, wrong, wrong, dead wrong; possibly as dramatically and disastrously wrong as Neville Chamberlain's surrender of the Sudetenland to Hitler. Therefore, I support John McCain for President.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Duke University still doesn't get it

When you've wronged someone, try to silence them. That's how Duke is handling the aftermath of the Lacrosse case.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Doomed to repeat it?

The West may be on the verge of repeating one of the greatest blunders of history. Let us look at the similarities between Al Qaeda and the Nazis:

1. Before 1938, Hitler had set forth his plans for Europe. (Mein Kampf) Hitler openly said that he wanted to defeat France then turn on Russia to get living space for the German people.

1. Al Qaeda has set forth its plans too. (letter from Zarqawi to Al Qaeda) (Letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi). In these letters, Al Qaeda discusses its plans -- to slaughter innocent Shiites in order to get the US to leave Iraq; and Zawahiri's plan, after the US is kicked out of Iraq, to establish a government there and, once that government is strong enough, to use it to create a "Jihad wave" in neighboring countries.

2. Before, 1938, the Nazis' murderous nature was already perfectly clear. (Night of the Long Knives; Kristallnacht)

2. Today, Al Qaeda's murderous nature is also well established (September 11; slaughter of 500 Yazidis by truck bomb; Africa embassy bombings)

3. In 1938, Hitler promised peace if he could only have part of Czechoslovakia. (at 3:30-3:50 in the video).

3. In 2006. Osama bin Laden promised a long-term truce if the US will only pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq and leave them under the control of Al Qaeda.

4. In 1938, the leader of the free world was Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain was a pacifist. His convictions were deep and sincere -- he was even working on a book entitled "the struggle for peace"

4. In 2008, the leader of the free world is George W. Bush. He is not a pacifist. But Barack Obama has a good chance of becoming the next leader of the free world. He is a pacifist. And his plans for handling foreign policy bear an eerie resemblance to Chamberlain's.

5. In 1938, Chamberlain met with Hitler in an effort to solve Europe's problems.

5. Obama has said that if he is elected, he will meet, without preconditions, with the leaders of Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.

6. In 1938, Chamberlain's solution was to give Hitler control of part of Czechoslovakia in return for a promise of peace.

6. Today, Obama promises that if elected, he will pull US troops out of Iraq. This is exactly what Osama Bin Laden wants and was one of his preconditions for a "long term truce". Obama does also say that he will maintain some troops in the region for "targeted strikes" on Al Qaeda (in case Al Qaeda follows its stated plan of setting up a base in Iraq after US withdrawal). However, the realism of this approach is highly questionable. With lots of US troops in Iraq, the locals can feel confident in fighting against Al Qaeda. A few US troops at a far-away base would not inspire the same confidence.

In 1938, at Munich, the free world surrendered part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler in return for a false promise of peace. At the time, the decision was widely popular.

Today, there is a dangerous possibility that the US will surrender in Iraq, leaving the way open for Al Qaeda to take control of much or all of the country. This would be done in the false hope that it would bring peace. If the US does this, the decision will be widely popular.

Are we doomed to repeat history?

The sheer stupidity of the Democrats on free trade

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have lately been arguing over who is more anti-NAFTA. The argument is two-fold: NAFTA allegedly costs Americans jobs. Additionally, both have said they think the US should have gotten a "better deal" from Canada and Mexico.

Here is what Obama had to say:

We don't want to set off trade wars. What we want to make sure of is that our farmers are treated fairly,’ Obama said. ‘The problem in a lot of our trade agreements is that the administration tends to negotiate on behalf of multinational companies instead of workers and communities.

And Hillary:

Time-out for Trade. • Hillary has called for a trade "time out" from new trade agreements as President, and she will not enter into new trade agreements until her Administration has reviewed all existing agreements and designed a genuinely pro-American, pro-worker trade policy that is appropriate for the 21st Century.

Have they forgotten the central lesson of modern history? Freedom works. Open societies, with free trade, have prospered. Closed societies, with closed markets, have stagnated.

One of the great and enduring strengths of the United States has been its large and free domestic market. This freedom is enshrined in the Constitution:

The Congress shall have power . . . To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states . . .

Without this clause, it would be possible for Oregon to enact a law against software products from the state of Washington (Sorry, Microsoft). Or for Nevada to tax the importation of movies from California (Good-bye, Hollywood). Or for New Jersey to forbid the use of financial services from New York (So long, New York Stock Exchange). And so on.

It's not just the United States. Emerging from the devestation of the Second World War, Europe has made repeated moves towards free trade. It started with the European Coal and Steel Community, which protected free trade in coal and steel among West Germany, France, Italy, and the Benelux countries. From that humble beginning has grown the European Community, which promotes the free movement of people, goods, and services among 27 European countries. Ireland and Spain were

In the modern era, Singapore, China, and South Korea have all prospered through free trade. And all did so even before opening up their political systems.

Unfree economic policies have been tried. For example, in 1930, the United States ignored warnings from over 1,000 economists and enacted the Smoot-Hawley Tarriff Act, which was intended to protect American jobs by raising tariffs on 20,000 different imported goods to record levels. Other countries retaliated by raising their tariffs. Economists generally agree that this worsened the Great Depression.

Today, Germany and France, while enjoying political freedom and free trade, have generally unfree labor markets; for example, it can be difficult to fire workers. (German regulations are summarized here; French ones are described in numerous news articles; please let me know if you can find a more direct source.) Unsurprisingly, France and Germany also have two of the worst unemployment rates in Europe -- generally running around 8-9%.

On the central economic issue of our time, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both just plain wrong.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The New York Times does it again

Once again, the New York Times publishes a highly questionable story, insinuating sexual improprieties by someone whose interests are aligned with its political opponents. For those who remember its coverage of the Duke Lacrosse case, this comes as no surprise.

This is further confirmation that the New York Times simply cannot be trusted.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why I voted for Hillary Clinton today

Barack Obama, who has a sincere desire for peace, believes that peace can be attained if the world's leading English-speaking power surrenders a foreign nation to an irredeemably and unrelentingly evil enemy who promises peace if we only give him what he wants.

This has been tried before.

McCain will not surrender. Hillary, if you listen to her carefully, probably won't, either. Obama will.