Blog Smith

Blog Smith is inspired by the myth of Hephaestus in the creation of blacksmith-like, forged materials: ideas. This blog analyzes topics that interest me: IT, politics, technology, history, education, music, and the history of religions.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Where Is the Public Outcry of Discrimination Against Buddhists?

Graphic source: CNN

I find it ironic that a popular culture news site such as CNN can run a feature entitled "Buddha's Warriors" without any public outcry. On the other hand, despite the fact that Muslims have been associated with worldwide violence, something that is not identified with Buddhism, there is a public outcry of discrimination when public figures suggest that Islam possibly has something to do with a martial, warrior mentality. Islam even has a doctrine which is suggestive of a warrior mentality, jihad, a point that is not shared with Buddhism.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

CIA Presses Pakistan Plays

Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani Graphic source: The New York Times

The C.I.A. seems to have been more confrontational than in the past and their recent assessment earmarks the links between members of the spy service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, and the militant network led by Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani, who appears to act as a proxy for Al Qaeda.

A C.I.A. official, Stephen R. Kappes, the agency’s deputy director, was apparently more direct in communicating American displeasure with Pakistan while on a recent visit. The public face is the one displayed by Bush with the Pakistani Prime Minister but behind the scenes the communication must have been blunter.

The loyalties of the various players is unclear. Just last weekend for example, Pakistani military and intelligence officials thwarted an attempt by the central government to put the ISI more directly under civilian control. Thus, it is unclear whether Pakistan officials are covering for the insurgents, or if the ISI has rogue elements that the government chooses to ignore.

The Afghan government has stated that the recent suicide bombings which killed dozens at the Indian Embassy in Kabul was conducted with the approval of the ISI.

According to the Times article: it was the ISI, backed by millions of covert dollars from the C.I.A., that ran arms to guerrillas fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It is now American troops who are dying in Afghanistan, and intelligence officials believe those longstanding ties between Pakistani spies and militants may be part of an effort to destabilize Afghanistan.

Is there likely to be any fruit borne by Pakistan's latest effort at countering the insurgency? What happened yesterday is indicative I believe. According to the Times: "On Tuesday, Pakistani security forces raided an abandoned seminary owned by Mr. Haqqani, Pakistani officials said. No arrests were made."

This is simply more of the same, the Pakistanis make another feeble attempt at counter-terrorism as a show to the Americans. Oops! Haqqani is not at his abandoned seminary, who knew?

NASA Launches Historical Portal

Graphic source: NASA

This image is a cutaway illustration of the Explorer I satellite with callouts. The Explorer I satellite was America's first scientific satellite launched aboard the Jupiter C launch vehicle on January 31, 1958. The Explorer I carried the radiation detection experiment designed by Dr. James Van Allen and discovered the Van Allen Radiation Belt.

NASA last week launched a new interactive Web site, jointly developed with the non-profit Internet Archive, which is a single online resource featuring enhanced search, visual, and metadata capabilities. The portal stores more than 140,000 digitized high-resolution NASA photographs, audio, and film clips. Web 2.0 elements are scheduled to follow this initial launch.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Quick Fix for Much Bigger Issue

Forty years ago, the U.S. was the world's biggest oil producer. But in 1970 U.S. crude oil output peaked. More importantly, the 9.6 million barrels produced a day was enough to cover the bulk of the country's needs. Currently, U.S. crude production covers only 42% of the country's needs. After that, we are dependent on foreign oil and the repressive regimes that guarantee the availability of oil to us. Despite Nixon's clarion call for "Project Independence" in 1973 we have done little to make that vision real.

On the world front, Matthew Simmons, a voluble Houston-based consultant, states that the world hit its sustainable peak oil level in May 2005.

The immediate obstacle to oil though is political as whatever resources we have left remain isolated in Alaska's wilderness preserves and on the Outer Continental Shelf off the Atlantic, Pacific and eastern Gulf of Mexico coasts.

These should be opened up immediately.

Thereafter, in Iraq, where the world's biggest untapped prospects lie, major oil firms should invest in the country which would help both the U.S. and Iraq.

None of these obvious statements are an answer since they are simply an immediate fix while we wean ourselves away from dependence on foreign oil.

The next President should be thinking long and hard on seriously implementing the vision that Nixon sought in '73.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Bush Weak Before Pakistan

Today begins a week of frustration as President Bush praised Pakistan's prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for his commitment to their joint battle against extremists. This is a joke.

Neither leader addressed the latest clash in Pakistan, a missile strike that hit a madrassa housing insurgents just inside the border with Afghanistan.

Bush said: "Pakistan is a strong ally and a vibrant democracy."

Pakistan double-deals with the insurgents who are killing our troops. It is not a vibrant democracy but large swatches of its territory are under the de facto control of various competing insurgent groups.

Until Washington gets tough with countries that will stab us in the back or our troops are unleashed the situation will continue in the insurgents favor who trade lives for time. They are waiting us out knowing that the CIA is limited in their actions and since we have no troops in Pakistan they can bide their time. In the meantime, the insurgents, many of whom are viewed highly by Pakistan, can raid our troops in Afghanistan before beating a hasty retreat across the border of protection of Pakistan.

The threat of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the insurgents has allowed Pakistan to snooker the U.S. into feeding them more cash. They are playing up the terrorist threat to the hilt and yet do nothing to stop them.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ranking Terrorist Threats: Do Nothing Until You Hear From Me

On the Counterterrorism Blog Madeleine Gruen and Frank Hyland have released their second installment on the homegrown terrorism threat in the U.S.

They are clear on the criteria used for the threats. The terrorist group must have "the presence, the level of intention, and the capability to carry out its threat." Although a number of groups would like to carry out acts they are not able thus they are ranked lower as a result.

Al-Qa’ida (AQ) is on the top of a list such as this and thereafter each threat is ranked from the most likely to least likely.

The Groups:

1. Al-Qa’ida & Al-Qa’ida-Inspired Individuals or Groups:

An unnamed group or individual then is at the top of the list. The authors are playing the numbers. With the size of our population and the relative unhindered legal and illegal access to weapons and explosives, along with out course our continuing unpopular policies here and abroad, "the odds are high that someone will see coverage of an incident abroad - Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel - and react." The exact nature and timing of such a threat is virtually impossible to predict. "The perpetrators are not necessarily members of a network, often do not know each other, and therefore leave no `tracks' to follow from one to the other." The organization of AQ consists of groups, cells, and individuals that act independently.

The two World Trade Center attacks were by people who received training in terrorist camps; currently however, Westerners have attended AQ training camps in Pakistan and/or Afghanistan. Moreover, the UK attacks were "AQ-inspired native-born men who carried out the attacks on London commuters in July 2005."

At a subsequent point the authors promise to consider "US-based groups that have no clear-cut physical ties to AQ, but that abide by the same ideological doctrines as AQ and which are unabashed supporters of AQ, such as As-Sabiqun."

The second rank consists of White Nationalist Groups who have carried out attacks but they have "been relatively disorganized. . . lacked funding, and its adherents have not been as ideologically committed as they have been committed to a social network and cults of personality." For these reasons, I believe this places them at a significantly distant second to AQ.

The authors then rank the Lebanese Hizballah (LH) at number three but they continue to outline the group's major strengths. In this regard, I believe they are in fact more dangerous than the White Nationalist Groups. For example, the authors contend that the group have access to weapons, explosives, have the motivation, and the requisite skills in order to carry out a successful attack here. Hizballah meets all of these criteria. In addition, they maintain that LH has "undoubtedly carried out the pre-attack surveillance necessary not only to carry out at least one attack, but to do it in short order after receiving the `Go' from their masters in Tehran and Beirut. Members of the group have insinuated themselves into many of the major metropolitan areas of the US." They are entreched in criminal activities already such as cigarette smuggling thus they have the tactical and monetary resources for an attack. LH has already hit Buenos Aires.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) places fourth mostly because for decades they have had an infrastructure presence in the U.S. PIJ leader Fathi Shqaqi was assassinated in 1995 when University of South Florida Computer Engineering Professor Ramadan Shallah immediately left Florida, journeyed to the Middle East and assumed the chairmanship of PIJ. They are here.

The fifth place finisher, HAMAS, has been successful elsewhere in politics whereas in the U.S. they have been involved in lengthy legal proceedings against their fund-raising arm--The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development--at one time the leading Islamic charity in the U.S. I have no doubt they could strike but I believe they are significantly less of a threat than the higher ranked groups.

Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) is a political Islamist organization that is present in the U.S. HT has not been directly linked to a terrorist attack but its published ideological doctrine and strategy are identical to AQ’s. We have to live with this group I believe, until, or unless they break the law. The group does not even use the HT name in the U.S. so they may be difficult to even identify.

Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is arguably the most influential of all Islamist groups but the authors have not identified the group with violence in the U.S. thus they must simply bear watching.

The eighth and final grouping, the USA General Store, is a catchall for groups such as the Tamil Tigers, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) who exploit or extort funds from American contacts.

Most of the analysis seems to hinge on the weaknesses inherent in the security posture of the U.S. In the same way that key Counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson writes, the threat is non-specific, unnamed, and general enough that little can be done except act in defense, or in reaction to a violent act or acts. Given the constitutional constraints on legal action, and the paucity of actual, physical attacks, the groups remain little more than named threats. The threat is very real, lethal, and places Americans in the uncomfortable and unfamiliar role of facing domestic threats. I would predict that little will be done until or unless said groups or individuals actually act. Although our security posture has undoubtedly improved since 9/11 we are by no means safe. Hence, the frustrating position for Americans to watch and wait.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

U.S. Let Bin Laden Get Away During Two Administrations

Salim Ahmed Hamdan, right, said his boss, Osama bin Laden, left, was gleeful about killing people on 9/11. Graphic source: Miami Herald

It is a strange world when I have to agree with Islamic insurgents but Bin Laden's driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, is correct on at least one point. The U.S. let the insurgents slip away.

Hamdam told a pair of FBI agents that it was America's fault that the al Qaeda leader is alive.

He stated: ''You had these opportunities, America. You didn't do anything,'' FBI agent George Crouch Jr. testified Friday at Salim Hamdan's war-crimes trial.

The U.S. could have killed bin Laden in Khartoum, Sudan, before he moved to Afghanistan in 1996; we could have killed him after al Qaeda's 1998 U.S. twin bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa; or Bin Laden could have been eliminated after the October 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole, in Aden, Yemen, which left 17 U.S. sailors dead.

Hamdam said: ''bin Laden was emboldened.'' So he struck with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. And nearly 3,000 people died.

Hamdam opened up in particular to a Lebanese-born FBI agent named Ali Soufan who was praised as well as an interrogator in Lawrence Wright's, The Looming Tower.

The testimony is chilling and corresponds in rough outline to what key counter-terrorist experts have said in contrast to George Tenet and Louis Freeh's self-serving accounts of fighting al Qaeda.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pakistanis Steal More Money From Americans: Americans No More Secure Than Before

Graphic source: photo by Stuart Freer

It is one of those mind-boggling stories that is surely designed to upset you if you have been paying attention at all to the Pakistani situation. The U.S. is transferring Pakistani counter-terrorism aid in favor of a fighter jet upgrade. What are they thinking in Washington? As Pakistan has become the latest and best haven for the Islamic insurgency, and therefore desperately need counter-terrorism funding to lock down the insurgents, and the potential of obtaining nuclear material, the Pakistanis are now going to get: a jet upgrade?

The Pakistanis play our politicians to the hilt. Using nuclear weapons as their creed, they extract more from us, make a show of attacking terrorists to demonstrate their commitment against the war on terror, and then Pakistani government officials either look the other way, or know about insurgent safe havens and possess the intelligence that would be invaluable to American efforts to root insurgents out. The Pakistanis have so far stolen $10 billion from us since 9/11. And, yet, the insurgents are in their backyard. Polls taken show that many Pakistanis support the Taliban anyway. Its mind-boggling how blind Americans can be.

Upgrading U.S.-supplied F-16 fighter planes is not going to assist the engaged troops on the ground currently across the border in Afghanistan. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani is visiting next week and he should be grilled on the insurgency. Who cares about Pakistan's aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets? Those upgraded jets will not protect America, or Americans on the ground in the region.

About $230 million in aid money has been approved by Congress for military equipment and training that had been earmarked for law enforcement and counter-terrorism purposes.

The Pakistani explanation is that the F-16s are used against the insurgents. Hows about U.S. fighters take care of that problem?

The other excuses do not make sense either. Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi visited earlier this month and the administration believes the upgrade is a way to both enhance the Islamabad government's anti-terrorism capabilities, and ease its financial burden in the face of soaring energy and food prices. Huh? It may help Pakistan with its costs, but I believe Americans have problems with rising energy costs as well and the upgraded jets will not improve the security of Americans.

Senate Democrat Patrick Leahy and House Democrat Nita Lowey, both of whom chair key foreign affairs appropriations subcommittees, expressed reservations about the aid shift. They are correct.

President Bush is to meet Prime Minister Gilani at the White House next Monday for talks expected to be dominated by aid and security issues. Why doesn't Bush find out we need to know about the insurgents who are fighting, and killing Americans, and take them out?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Innovative Educational Outlet Just-In-Time

For today's class, we are going to review all the educational tools available, including the latest Education 2.0 implements. We have text messages, ring tones, songs, chants, poetry, cassettes, the web, pamphlets, magazines, multiple languages, DVDs, and fliers. This is just-in-time education at its best.

What innovative and yet comprehensive American educational facility is this?

The answer is: none.

This is the Taliban undermining the Afghan government. The International Crisis Group, based in Brussels, Belgium, reported that the Islamist insurgency is making a violent comeback and innovatively employs all these tools to defeat the Coalition.

The Taliban's propaganda machine widely exploits collateral damage and civilian killings by Coalition forces. On the other hand, the Afghan government and the Coalition barely mentions the Taliban's atrocities of ruthlessly killing or torturing those who disagree or oppose them. Indeed, in the wake of the sparse interest that the Western, mainstream media has in these event, independent journalists usually can not verify conflicting claims. Journalists often report the Taliban claims.The Taliban gets its message out both to the West; and craftily, the Taliban employs songs, religious chants, and poetry that appeals to Afghan nationalism and Islamic pride. The Taliban wins on both counts for their double-sided message.

The Coalition is getting whupped in the information aspect of the war.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Japanese Sleipnir the New Contender in the Browser Wars

Like most of the new contenders in the browser wars a Japanese software company has an entry in the international market. As Internet Explorer and Firefox have dominated the field the new entry, the Sleipnir browser, has arrived. The difference is said to be in the high level of customization that the browser allows. In particular, the browser contains the selection either the Trident or Gecko layout engines for each Web site visited. Trident was developed by Microsoft Corp. and is used in Internet Explorer while Gecko is used in Mozilla's Firefox. Since web browsers display information differently, in Sleipnir the user can click a small button in the bottom left of the browser and switch between Trident and Gecko, i.e., users can choose the best one for the particular site.

The first time I tried it the browser would not run Gecko and it told me to run Addons and Install. I couldn't find it easily so the first-time around was a bit of a struggle.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Saudis Spew Hatred Through Madrassa Textbooks

In an update to stories about Saudi textbooks, Slate ran an article about current revisions. The story was about a report published by the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom. One example is a question that appears in a recent edition of a Saudi fourth-grade textbook, Monotheism and Jurisprudence, in a section that attempts to teach children to distinguish "true" from "false" belief in god:

"Q. Is belief true in the following instances:
a) A man prays but hates those who are virtuous.
b) A man professes that there is no deity other than God but loves the unbelievers.
c) A man worships God alone, loves the believers, and hates the unbelievers."

The correct answer, of course, is c). According to the Wahhabi imams who wrote this textbook, worship of God includes hating unbelievers too. By the same token, b) is also wrong. Someone who worships god cannot be said to have "true belief" if they love unbelievers.

"Unbelievers" are Christians and Jews.

This question is typical of the new, "revised" Saudi textbooks. Previous versions contained even darker passages and the Saudis agreed to clean up their act, and this is the clean-up, to eliminate the disparaging remarks about other religious groups.

The textbooks in question do not remain in Saudi Arabia, a nation that is no ideological friend to the U.S. The texts are written and produced by the Saudi government and subsequently distributed, free of charge, to Saudi-sponsored schools throughout Africa and South America. Muslim British textbooks contain books that call Muslims to kill all apostates.

The West is charged with cultural imperialism so I will now wait to hear from American academics who will denounce the Saudis as religious and cultural bigots.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Iran Supports Hezbollah: Iraq

As reported on the Long War Journal, Coalition special forces teams, likely the terrorist hunter-killer teams of Task Force 88, have captured a Hezbollah Brigades propaganda specialist during a raid in New Baghdad. The propaganda specialist uploads web sites with imagery and video taken from attacks on Iraqi Security and Coalition forces. The really annoying part of this effort is that then the propaganda is believed hook, line, and sinker but gullible Americans. Since the mainstream media has little presence in Iraq, and is not reporting by and large, the propaganda is then seen as reliable evidence that the insurgents are doing really well.

In this case, the propagandist is a part of the Hezbollah Brigades, or the Kata'ib Hezbollah. Multinational forces Iraq indicates the group receives support from Iran, and is an “offshoot of Iranian-trained Special Groups." US forces captured Ali Mussa Daqduq inside Iraq in early 2007; he is a senior Hezbollah commander tasked with setting up the Mahdi Army Special Groups.

Any dealing with Iran must include the evidence that Iran is actively engaged in killing U.S. troops.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

"Pickens" Not So Slim

T. Boone Pickens, oilman and financier, launched a low-key but effective campaign for his “Pickens Plan,” a call for energy independence that includes greater reliance on natural gas and wind power. He has more details on his web site.

What Do You See?

Graphic source: The New York Times

Satire reveals something real through stripping away the veneer. The cover depicts the worse fears of misunderstanding Americans who fear the worse the Obamas have to offer the U.S. It says little about the Obamas themselves but it is a satire of American misunderstandings. I don't think it demeans either Michelle or Barack at all. The laugh is on American ignorance of which there is much.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Japan Backs Out of Supporting Coalition

Japan backed out of an earlier commitment to dispatch its Self-Defence Forces (SDF) to Afghanistan now that the security situation has declined. Nonetheless, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's ruling party plans to extend a special law for another year that allows the SDF to continue refueling mission past January in the Indian Ocean to support the Coalition. Japan's war-renouncing constitution limits the SDF's use of arms outside of Japan which is of course a limitation that does not hinder AQAM (al-Qaeda and Allied Movements).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Six Ways to Wage Ideological Warfare on Islamism

Graphic source: Global Security

During a statement that aired in September 2007 Abu Yahya al-Libi, a prominent al-Qaeda recruiter, provided six ways to wage ideological warfare: highlight the views of jihadists who renounce violence; publicise stories about jihadist atrocities against Muslims; enlist Muslim religious leaders to denounce jihadists as heretics; back Islamic movements that emphasize politics over jihad; discredit and neutralize jihadist ideologues; and play up personal or doctrinal disputes among jihadists. This is a beginning. I would like to see any educational leaders in the West begin this path.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

NASA Confirms Water Deltas on Mars

This is a color-enhanced image of the Jezero Crater delta on Mars which NASA scientists are saying once held a lake. Researchers contend that ancient rivers ferried clay-like minerals (shown in green) into the lake which formed a delta. Clays tend to trap and preserve organic matter which makes the delta a good place to look for signs of ancient life. Graphic credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS/Brown University.

Some of the latest, dramatic photos have been released and scientists are confirming that what appeared on Mars for some time, deltas and rivers, are, in fact, deltas and rivers. This is a dramatic development nonetheless and confirms what we had thought about the Red planet. This confirmation has implications about the uniqueness of life on Earth. We may not have always been alone.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mainstream Media and American Lack of Interest in Pakistani Threat

Despite the serious decline in security along the Pakistani border with Afghanistan I would not think much will come of it. A survey of the leading mainstream news outlets reveals a lack of interest. They simply note more troops may be needed in the area. The war on terrorism and the possibility that rogue elements in these areas seems to have fallen off the list of Washington's interests. No wonder the elephant continues to be attacked.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Petraeus Drawdown Exactly as Planned

Graphic source: September 2007 graph from Gen. Petraeus' testimony before Congress.

The U.S. is not undergoing an accelerated withdrawal as falsely reported by The New York Times. The pace for drawing down troops was publicly available and announced last year by General David Petraeus during his September 2007 testimony before Congress. The graph demonstrates that the current pace is following his plan. The U.S. military planned to draw down to 15 combat brigades by July which has happened and targeted a drawdown to 12 combat brigades by the end of this year. The decision to draw down to 12 brigades will be made sometime in September based on security considerations. In March of 2009, the U.S. will decide to draw down to about 10 combat brigades.

As noted by Bill Roggio, of the Long War Journal:

The reality is that as the media focused on deriding General Petraeus's testimony on the state of the security situation in Iraq, they ignored the military's assessments on the planned posture of U.S. forces in Iraq in 2008 and beyond. Now that the U.S. is moving forward with its plans, their failure to note the timeline last year is characterized as an acceleration.

The drawdown in Iraq is exactly as Petraeus announced it months ago.

Taliban Overrun Pakistani Outpost

With the Taliban developing a massive, coordinated attack which destroyed a Pakistani paramilitary fort in Hangu, I wonder how long the Pakistanis can claim sovereignty in the tribal regions. Afghanistan's President Karzai has virtually declared war against Pakistan in his most recent statement yesterday, critically for Coalition interests is that the Taliban have virtually free reign in the outlying districts. This has got to stop.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Afpak Lack of Sovereignty: Coalition Should Respond Vigorously

As AQ has slithered out of Iraq due to their recent losses the Afpak region has become a hotbed of fighting. In a massive attack insurgents tried to overun a Coalition base but they failed to take it. Although many insurgents were killed the Coalition lost 9 troops as well.

The security situation is grim because Pakistan seems unable to rule the largely lawless tribal regions. At the loss of our own troops, the Coalition can ill afford Pakistan's inability to reign in the Taliban and AQ. Pakistan's sovereignty is not absolute. It obviously must not be absolute or they would not have conceded areas to the insurgents. We can not continue to handicap our troops while they are in harm's way while the lawless attacks persist.

If Afpak can not secure its sovereignty and the training camps and insurgents continue uninhindered we have to act more vigorously. Afpak has abdicated their sovereignty thus these areas should be regarded as they are in other places and instances as under international law. In short, lawless, non-state territories, regarded as havens of piracy and brigandry, need to be dealt with forthwith.

The U.S. acted vigorously in fighting the Berber pirates, or in the intrusion of the U.S. across the border with Mexico to defeat Pancho Villa, and so we should act now.

We should not announce our attacks or ask for permission since we do not intend to occupy territory in Afpak, on the other hand, it might be possible to persuade Pashtun tribal leaders that the insurgents are no good for their areas. As in all precious areas, the locals eventually wise up and call for the removal of the insurgents and AQ. The locals would be better off backing the Coalition.

Special forces should be deployed in the tribal areas, if they are not already, and call on air strikes to defend against Taliban and AQ reprisals. High value targets of opportunity should be hit hard.

I would hope that the vacationing politicians in Washingon are advocating effective and forthright action.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Obama's Forged Birth Certificate and Pious Muslim Schooling

Graphic source: Israel Insider

An anomaly on the published document, and doubts of the authenticity of Obama's birth certificate by Hawaiian state officials, has clouded Obama's candidacy. Obama's published certificate does not contain the offical seal and authenticating marks on the document. An anomaly has been identified by certificate documents experts in regards to Obama's birth certificate, originally posted by Obama advocate Jay Mckinnon, which would indicate that Obama's certificate has been tampered with; and, coupled

Graphic source: Israel Insider

with the fact that Obama's half brother Malik has indicated that his brother was raised as a Muslim and attended a particularly devout Indonesian Muslim school, more serious doubts about Obama's background should be considered. The Fight the Smears website, an official Obama website does not address the issue or offer effective counter evidence. The site simply posts a copy of the tampered document.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Chinese Uyghur Situation a Golden Opportunity for U.S. Diplomacy

Map of the Western (purple) and Eastern (blue) Göktürk khaganates at their height, c. 600 CE. Lighter areas show direct rule; darker areas show spheres of influence. Graphic source: Wikipedia Commons

The Uyghur peoples of China are a Turkic people of Central Asia who live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (also known by its controversial name East Turkistan or Uyghurstan). In shades of widely dispersed ethnic groups, there are Uyghur diasporic communities in Pakistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Germany, Canada, Turkey, and a smaller one in Taoyuan County of Hunan province in south-central China, as well as in major Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

But that is not all. There is a U.S. connection as well which implies that their fate is somehow connected to the U.S. as well, as there are Uyghur enclaves in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, DC.

In a possible conflict the Uyghurs of China may ally themselves with their co-religionists, Muslims, throughout Asia and the Middle East. This situation presents an excellent opportunity for diplomacy. The Chinese can assist the Coalition, provide greater assets for security in the region, on the one had, yet the U.S. can promote human rights and disabuse China of the notion that it can repress Muslims indiscriminately. China is particularly apt to listen to world opinion currently as host of the Olympic Games. So how is China doing?

According to the Times of India:

Chinese authorities have replaced top police and security officials in the Muslim dominated Xinjiang province, which is the hotbed of separatism and political violence. They have also closed down 41 "illegal" places of worship.

Chinese authorities claimed the houses of worship were used as training grounds for conducting a "holy war." Xinjiang, which borders central Asia and Pakistan, has been tied to a pro-independence movement connected to its co-religionists across the border.

82 "suspected terrorists" have been held in the past six months in view of fears that they might disrupt the Olympic Games.

The re-organization brought one of the three new core commanders to the fore, Hanabati Sabukhaya, an officer from the Kazak race, since Xinjiang borders Kazakisthan and several other countries including Pakistan and Russia, the choices are based on age-old ethnic conflicts. This will no doubt increase the tension, or at least temporarily, quell the political opposition.

The opportunity will likely be lost on U.S. diplomatic efforts. The Islamic world largely is suspicious of U.S. foreign policy and one primary reason is that the U.S. makes little tangible efforts to protect the human rights of Muslims.

Map of the Uyghur Khaganate and areas under its dominion (in yellow) at its height(not correct) see Uyghur Empire, c. 820 CE. Graphic source: Wikipedia Commons

Friday, July 11, 2008

Robert Fisk, The Great War For Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East

Although the thought of Noam Chomsky is amply represented in Fisk's journalistic tour-de-force in this work, he never acknowledges him and makes no reference to his ideas throughout. A reference to Chomsky does appear in the bibliography though but this is a form of dissembling from an otherwise forthright journalist.

Fisk's work is a fascinating study which waves his personal journalistic odyssey, psychological makeup, and family history into a compelling conquest narrative. "Bill," his war veteran father, gripped the teen age Fisk by trampling upon the hallowed British battlefields of his father's WW I battle memories.

Will Fisk reconcile his liberal, journalist's aversion to the horrors of war with his father's crotchety, war-scarred experience?

We won't know for sure but as readers we are offered a rare glimpse into the mind of a journalist who will be interpreting chaotic Middle Eastern violence through his lense of Chomsky and as a journalist haunted by his father's wartime memory.

Chomsky--Paul Berman tells us in Terror and Liberalism--holds that corporations greedily command the press and governments, and with these institutions at their behest, "drench the world in blood and misery" (p. 146). The freedom instinct though animates the human spirit to resist and the freedom instinct battles the greedy instinct. The battle between the two instincts explain nearly everything we see in world events.

As the Chomskyian view has unfolded and interpreted American foreign policy since the 1960s, Chomsky's analysis does not admit that pathological mass movements exist (Berman, 147). As described by Berman, we are all seduced by the attractive belief that "people are bound to behave in more or less reasonable ways in pursuit of normal and identifiable interests. It was a belief that the world is, by and large, a rational place" (Berman, 153). It is as Berman states: "In this country, we are all Noam Chomsky" (Berman, 153).

On the contrary, pathological mass movements, especially those based on faith, do exist. Blinded by Chomsky, Fisk is oblivious to what "should now be obvious to everyone that Muslims have more than their fair share of the latter," i.e., bad beliefs (Harris, The End of Faith, p. 108). Fisk is left with the lack of explanatory power inherent in many commentators who attribute the roots of Muslim violence on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the collusion of Western powers with corrupt dictatorships, and the endemic poverty and lack of economic opportunity plaguing the Middle East. He usually can not see that he is also dealing with Middle Eastern elites and the `best and the brightest' of Middle Eastern society.

As Harris comments, the usual explanations do not account for the virulent theological hair-splitting that characterizes political Islam. Harris states:
the world is filled with poor, uneducated, and exploited peoples who do not commit acts of terrorism, indeed who wold never commit terrorism of the sort that has become so commonplace among Muslims, and the Muslim world has no shortage of educated and prosperous men and women, suffering little more than their infatuation with Koranic eschatology, who are eager to murder infidels for God's sake (Harris, p. 109).

Not only poor and uneducated are willing Islamic terrorists but the educated Muslim elites are ardent jihadists.

Islam is a religion of struggle and of conquest. If it were not, the bloodshed between the rival claimants to Mohammed's mantle, Shia and Sunni, would have reconciled long ago. But without the equivalent of a Reformation movement, the Koran is seen as a document as if wafted down the clouds from heaven, and all human actions are seen as subject to divine review. The Koran is beyond reproach or is not critically examined.

Indeed, one of the central propositions of Western thought is self-criticism (Paul Cartledge, Thermopylae, p. 205). The West is not beyond reproach but it is a tradition that reflects upon itself, criticizes the tradition, and re-applies and innovates with new ideas. Fisk describes Amira Hass, for example, the Israeli journalist who lives, voluntarily, though some might argue foolishly, in Ramallah in the heart of the Palestinian homeland. There is reflection and self-criticism in this valiant perspective.

Although the conquest, and the failure to grasp the futility of not criticizing received Islamic thought occurs before his eyes, Fisk only sees the conquest characterized by his psychology and his own private battle with inheriting British culture. Fisk sees: The West vs. Middle East, Christian vs. Muslim, Israeli vs. Palestinian, Power vs. conquest--all mediated as his conflict with "Bill," his father.

Fisk writes of "an arrogance of power" (p. xxi) as "the sins of fathers visited upon their children" (p. xxii). Indeed, Fisk is reporting "Bill" vs. Fisk. Fisk reflects that in 1992 he "stood upon the very paving stone"
where "Gavrilo Princep stood as he fired the fatal shot that sent my father to the trenches of the First World War. . . . That was the year in which my father died. This is therefore the story of his generation. And of mine (p. xxii).

Fisk is reporting his personal struggle and conquest of his father.

The parallels continue in Fisk's odyssey. The British descend on Afghanistan resulting in a series of British-Afghan Wars (1838-42, 1878-80, 1919-21) only to leave their dead behind. During the period of British aggression Bill is dispatched to fight in WW I; and while reporting, Fisk surveys early British accounts of Afghanistan characterized by "British heroism" and "Muslim savagery" (p. 35).

This survey will in turn be undone by Westerners such as British soldiers. And, the West will get what it has coming to it as a result.

In an account such as this then, the Ottoman slaughter of Armenians, although related, is not seen as a Middle Eastern atrocity. Fisk describes it as the "First Holocaust." Haven't the Germans flagellated themselves over the Holocaust? Have the Turks?

Fisk does not equate Middle Eastern atrocities as in the same class as Western intrusions in his detailed presentation of material. For example, on 17 May 1987 the USS Stark was hit by Iraqi Mirage missiles in the Persian Gulf where 37 American sailors were incinerated (p. 215). In this tragic mistake no human details are provided about the American sailors. They barely seem to exist. They don't have names and we do not learn anything personal about them. The only voices that are heard belong to impersonal U.S. government officials and statements.

Yet, an almost exact parallel exists in the unfortunate and mistaken shooting of the Iranian Airbus on 3 July 1988 by the U.S. but according to Fisk has an "appalling human dimension" (p. 259). Fisk details the human aspect of the atrocity and describes the families, the horror, and the sickening maiming of limbs and the deaths at American hands.

This is by no means the only human atrocity committed by the Americans. Fisk tells us of Raafat al-Ghossain, who dies at the hands of an American bomb in Libya on 15 April 1986. The eighteen year old artist, on holiday from school in England, and the family, wealthy Palestinian refugees live and work in Libya. Yes, there is the photograph of Raafat taking part in several Palestinian demonstrations in England Fisk tells us, but never mind, we are provided with an insight into her hopes, dreams, laments, and the desire for her to return to the family's Palestinian homeland. In any case, she fell victim to American bombing.

What are we to make of this? In a world where there are no innocents, no one is innocent.

The possibility that Raafat was a more dangerous student radical, or someone simply at the wrong place at the wrong time does not occur to Fisk. The American bombing, or acts brought on at least as much by Libyan leader Khadafi's intransigence, as American hard-line bombing strategy, is not entertained.

Fisk seems to miss that human cruelty and atrocities are the monopoly of no one. There are many losers in the appallingly inhuman atrocities in the clashes of the Middle East. Arafat, the betrayer of Palestine, comes off easily in Fisk's account. Why?

However, the banality of atrocities, and the unflinching Middle Eastern cultural value of death seems to escape Fisk's grasp. He can lament the deaths of ordinary persons of any culture, and I believe rightfully so, but Muslim v. Muslim atrocities, regardless of how outrageous, fail to elicit a response.

Most troubling though is the discussion of post-colonial Algeria. Granted France performed horribly in Algeria but how long can France be held responsible for post-independence civil wars? The tricks of government, according to Fisk, were learned from the French during the colonial era. Its as if the 1990s Islamic internecine struggles were somehow immune from inventing their own diabolical means of destruction (p. 522-585). "The Plot" is Algerian paranoia though which saw the U.S. behind every bush (p. 546). Dialogue with Islamists was thought to be suspect as well. If anything, the U.S. hoped the Islamic conflict could be resolved. Even when the Islamists and the Algerian government commit mutual, despicable horrors, even invoking the Koran's blessing, Fisk fails to criticize (p. 548). Though the U.S. was not present during the horror, according to Fisk though, they can be criticized for arriving with too little, too late, along with the U.N. which should bear responsibility for human rights abuses (p. 585). Its damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of thinking. The section on Algeria is not for the faint of heart. Do not eat before reading this section.

Why do Islamic societies produce such heinous abuses of humanity? I would certainly like to know. If there is no Plot, because we know the U.S. has no designs on backwater places like Algeria or Libya, why are the Islamists so brutal? Why is there so much killing and bloodshed? Fisk does not tell us.

At some level, Westeners, including Fisk, are profoundly motivated to act with integrity, compassion, and reflect seriously on their behavior. I fear Fisk is seduced by the same phantasmal (Michael B. Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy, pp. 13-14) force that has clouded so many Western observers. He seems though to have no expectation of somewhat reasonable behavior by his informants, though in at least one instance he himself has to fear for his physical safety while under personal attack in Afghanistan.

I hope Mr. Fisk can resolve his issues of self-flagellation through which he sees the Middle East, or the Other, and in that way overcome how his father never accepted the basic humanity of the Other during his wartime experience. Fisk is filled with outstanding powers of observation, and he is an extremely important source because of his early access and interviews with Bin Laden (Michael Scheuer, Through Our Enemies Eyes, pp. 408-09), his journalistic relationship with Arafat, and his touching descriptions of ordinary Middle Easterners and their experience. His reporting though is tainted by a naivete about his subjects. The Middle East, as anyone will tell you, is a rough neighborhood.

Fisk defines war early on as "about death and the infliction of death" (xviii). Yes, Mr. Fisk, you got that right.

Benjamin Franklin Opposes Surveillance

ACLU Challenges Surveillance Law

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and several other groups filed a lawsuit to counter a law allowing the U.S. government to intercept the phone calls and e-mail messages of people with suspected ties to terrorism.

The ACLU is opposing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act.

As approved by the Senate on Wednesday, the law allows the U.S. National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies to conduct surveillance of a wide range of people "reasonably believed" to be outside the U.S. The law also will likely require a U.S. court to dismiss more than 40 lawsuits that have been filed against telecommunication carriers that allegedly participated in the NSA program before there was court oversight of the surveillance.

The FISA Amendments Act still allows broad, un-targeted surveillance, including spying on U.S. residents who are talking with people overseas, said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU National Security Project.

The law allows the "massive acquisition of U.S. citizens' and residents' international communications," Jaffer added. "It permits the government to conduct intrusive surveillance without ever telling the court who it intends to surveil, what phone lines or e-mail it intends to monitor, where the surveillance targets are located, or why it is conducting the surveillance."

The new law violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the government from unreasonable searches and seizures, the ACLU said.

Author and journalist Chris Hedges, former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, stated that the FISA Amendments Act will make it difficult for journalists, especially those who report on overseas issues, to do their jobs. The difficulty is in determining whether journalists, since they are reasonably outside the U.S., are subject to surveillance. The new law impacts negatively on the First Amendment because Congress is not to prohibit the freedom of the press.

Hedges raised questions on whether the law will negatively effect the voices of "whistle-blowers, human-rights activists, dissidents, true-tellers and people with a conscience to rise up and speak against the audacity of those in power."

In 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit threw out a similar lawsuit against the surveillance program brought by the ACLU because they didn't have standing to sue the government in that they couldn't demonstrate they were targeted by the secret program.

Amendment IV states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The new law abrogates the citizen's rights to be secure in the person and their papers. Its a bad law that has not been proven to be effective in thwarting terrorism.

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." -- Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Iranians Doctored Missile Fauxtographs

Charles Johnson's Doctored Fauxtographs

The Western media has a penchent for accepting anything uncritically from Middle Eastern sources but fortunately, Charles Johnson, a debunker, noticed how the Iranians fudged their recent missile launches.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Home-Grown Terrorism Hits Turkey

The showdown outside the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey which left six people dead was clearly terrorism and the latest in a test of Western defenses. Gunmen simply pulled up in a car and opened fire at a police security checkpoint at the consulate entrance. Three police officers and three assailants were killed in the shootout. Two other police officers were wounded in the attack. No American assets were hurt.

This is the latest attack in Turkey since November 2003 when a string of bombings targeted the British consulate, two synagogues, and a British-owned bank. The blasts killed more than 70 people.

Turkey faces its own battles with terrorists, including battles between secularist and traditional Muslims, and the ongoing difficulties between Kurdish separatists and the central government. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks just yet but I suspect this is as much a home-grown terrorism as anything else. It is not spectacular enough nor deadly enough to be the markings of an AQ attack.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Iran and the Strait

The Iranians can not claim to be the most rational folks on the planet but I do not think they would be foolish enough to challenge the world on the Strait of Hormuz. And, although the Coalition has conducted a naval exercise designed to maintain international shipping, the practice seemed to be more saber-rattling than anything else. The exercise was helpfully subtle.

Since the mid-seventies, the Strait of Hormuz has been considered a major political point of contention in the region. The Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, pretended to be the region’s police officer so that he could spank the socialist Iraq. Once the West's lackey Shah was ousted by Ayatollah Ruhollah, the Khomeini revolution and Tehran’s policy began to threaten blocking the strait thus Western presence was required.

The Strait has evolved to be congested with battleships and nonstop maneuvers while nearby nations are embroiled in a constant vigilant state of security.

Nonetheless, just as in the case of the Suez Canal, or other critical waterways, there is international resolution against Iran's arbitrary approach to a Strait that they share with their neighbors. The Sultanate of Oman overlooks the Strait as well. Further, the Strait of Hormuz represents the only exporting exit for Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, while the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman overlook the Gulf of Oman, and Saudi Arabia overlooks the Red Sea.

Critically, most of the Gulf oil goes to China, Japan, and India, as well as to European countries.

And, as I often will advocate on this blog, this is another excellent opportunity for both rising powers, China and Japan, to step up to the plate and offer security resources. Japan already has pledged to increase its security presence in the region as a result of more support for the Coalition in Afghanistan.

Monday, July 7, 2008

McCain Old, Obama Outsider, Poll Shows

The presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, according to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll are perceived in particular ways. The percentage of people who provided these answers is listed and bear in mind that more than one response was allowed.

John McCain:

1. Old, 19 percent

2. Military service, 9 percent

3. Record, qualifications, 8 percent

4. Bush, 7 percent

5. Strength, 7 percent

6. Insider, politician, 7 percent

7. Iraq, terrorism, 6 percent

8. Honest, 5 percent

9. Republican, 5 percent

10. (tie) Moral/good and dishonest, 4 percent

Barack Obama:

1. Outsider, change, 20 percent

2. Lack of experience, 13 percent

3. Dishonest, 9 percent

4. Inspiring, 8 percent

5. Liberal, 6 percent

6, 7 (tie). Obama's race, young, 6 percent

8. Not likable, 5 percent

9. Intelligent, 4 percent

10. Muslim, 3 percent

The only double-percentage word association regarding McCain is age. Outsider and inexperience are the double-digit terms associated with Obama. I wonder if McCain should be defeated because of age discrimination as the leading negative association. And, Obama does not seem to be favorably viewed in any case. It makes one lament the sad state of candidates who can be taken seriously as presidential candidates. I mean, this is the best that American democracy can do?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Apostate, or Reverting?

One of the profound difficulties America will have, if we elect a Muslim apostate, would be to further inflame Middle Eastern tensions. Edward Luttwack, a military historian, writes revealingly of the point in an article in The New York Times. In fact, I don't know which is worst, Obama as a Muslim apostate, or, if he decides to revert to his childhood upbringing in a Saudi madrassa. Neither scenario would increase the security of the U.S.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

AQ Pressed in Af-Pak Region, Expands to Central Asia

An undated image from a video released by the U.S. military claims to show an al Qaeda in Iraq training operation involving child recruits. Graphic source: AP Photo/US Military

Al Qaeda has said to have successfully established a network for recruiting boys as young as 12 from across central Asia according to senior security officials from the Middle East and as revealed to CBS News.

Last May, a senior Pakistani security official screened a video clip to CBS News documenting a boy, barely 12 years old, using a machete to severe the head of a middle-aged man whom militants suspected of being a spy for the U.S.

The central Asian nations, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, appear to be the most likely areas to recruit AQ adherents because of lack of Coalition presence and the largely Muslim population.

The anonymous security spokesperson indicated that there are "maybe a few hundred such cases."

With the Coalition pressing in on AQ in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the organization is seeking areas of less resistance.

Friday, July 4, 2008

July Order of Battle Iraq

Graphic source: The Long War Journal

On this day of liberty I publish the July Order of Battle in Iraq. Most of the Order concerns the increasing rate of Iraqi defenders of their country. The Coalition is standing down and turning over security all over the country to native defenders.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Note on How the Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think

Yes, this is one of the preeminent historians of war writing today. Yes, we should expect a great deal from his work. With these points in mind, Victor Davis Hanson, former professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, describes how particular battles persist and therefore ripple through the centuries. In Ripples of Battle, Hanson begins on a engrossing and fascinating starting point, his own family military history, and weaves the fateful account of his father's first cousin who was to die tragically, and as Hanson argues, unnecessarily, on Okinawa. His cousin died without progeny and his branch of the family ended. Hanson speculates later on in the work who is know what kind of contribution the dead may have made. He seems to be aware of the futility, though tragic necessity for war. War is central in the human experience. This is the high point of the work. It is written with a great deal of passion and verve.

As to the remainder of the work, it is less successful, and in summary reverse order, Hanson reviews the Athenian defeat at Delium in 424 BCE that brought tactical innovations to infantry fighting; it also assured--which is a flaw in Hanson's argument--the influence of the philosophy of Socrates, who fought well in the battle. Nearly twenty-three hundred years later, the debacle at Shiloh and the death of the brilliant Southern strategist Albert Sidney Johnson inspired a sense of fateful tragedy that would endure and stymie Southern culture for decades. The Northern victory would also bolster the reputation of William Tecumseh Sherman, and most critically according to Hanson, inspire Lew Wallace to pen the widely popular Ben Hur. And, most poignantly, the agony of Okinawa forced the Japanese to sanction state-supported suicide, a tactic so fanatical, it haunts our view of non-Western combatants to this day. Okinawa also provoked the appropriate level of response, the controversial deployment of atomic weapons.

The odd thing of Hanson's argument is that he loses force the further back in history he reaches. He correctly places Okinawa front and center in American thinking that led to dropping atomic bombs on the Japanese mainland. Okinawa was far bloodier than American field commanders expected and he shows that most likely only the unfortunate death of General Simon Bolivar Buckner, during the battle, prevented an inquiry into his unimaginative and flawed tactics that did nothing to avoid the unwarranted deaths of so many Marines. Buckner ignored the credible alternatives of his staff and plunged many more to their deaths without cause.

Hanson's argument is less effective than his review of Okinawa in his account of Shiloh. Shiloh was of course a tragedy but he does not make a clear connection between Johnson's death, and the brilliance of General Nathan Bedford Forrest at the battle. The mistake is that by simply relating a cataclysmic event, and drawing a connection to much of what follows chronologically, is not enough. Shiloh was a tragedy on so many levels, the amount of casualties, the unmitigated carnage, and who is to say that Forrest would have become the leader of the Ku Klux Klan regardless of his important role at Shiloh. The Northern victory of course bolstered the reputation of Sherman and he is widely recognized for inventing a more comprehensive, if not brutal tactic of devastating the enemy's infrastructure to demolish your opponent, an American military trademark since then. The fact that Wallace wrote the incredibly popular Ben Hur as an allegory and defense of his flawed role in the battle would escape later readers. In fact, in more recent times, the story is best known for the classic film adaptation, and is no longer even associated with a Civil War general, much less Shiloh. Hanson gives Americans too much credit, and attributes a much profounder appreciation of history than the story would warrant.

Even more troubling is Hanson's review of the Athenian defeat at Delium. I'm with him when he argues that the battle initiated tactical innovations to infantry fighting. However, I must part company when he states categorically, that since Socrates lived to tell the tale of his personal involvement in the battle, he therefore has been a huge influence in philosophy. Once again, he mistakes the personal appearance of a participant in a battle as proof of how wars determine our thinking and how we live.

The failure is the lack of evidence which is the hallmark of historical analysis. As Plato relates the ideas of Socrates, did Socrates argue this point? Did Socrates agree that Delium was a personal watershed? Is there any evidence for such a statement? It is true of course that we only have evidence of Socrates through second-hand sources, since he did not write, but surely we should some Socratic statements indicating that this traumatic battle is the wellspring of his thought.

In the final analysis, we know where Hanson is going with all this. He wants to argue that 9/11 is a defining moment for the West. The West will fight vociferously, will think of non-Westeners as we have in the past, and will determine how we will fight the war on terror. In a final section, this is what he has been driving at which he reveals. However, it is simply still an open question of how the defining moment of 9/11 will be addressed. We are too close to the events in question and since the West is characterized at least as much by its ambiguity, defeatism, and misunderstandings in the face of a resurgent Middle Eastern Islam, Hanson's argument fails to persuade. If he were correct, the West's response would be swift, ferocious, and devastating. That day may come but it has not arrived, not yet anyway.

Note on Benjamin & Simon, Sacred Terror

A "treasure trove" (p. xii) exists of information about sacred terror. The authors note that much of their information is readily available in 50,000 pages of testimony against terrorists therefore their information is hidden right before us.

What has not happened though is that the government institutions, sworn to our safety, have not responded well enough or quickly enough to protect us. In this contentious debate various scapegoats have been found but upon reading the work I think the blame can be spread equally amongst both administrations: Democrat and Republican, Clinton and Bush. There are plenty of mistakes to go around.

The institutions of federal protection, the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, the DOD, the State Department, and both White House administrations failed to share critical data and collaborate. This is a major stumbling block and a "failure of imagination" on the part of government institutions to recognize, and respond appropriately, to a new post-Cold War threat.

The roots of contemporary jihadist terrorism are profound. In 1990, Meir Kahane, the Jewish leader of the JDL (Jewish Defense League) was murdered which gave birth to the brand of terrorism reflected in, and which influenced 9/11. By dating contemporary terrorism so deeply, the authors are making the point that terrorism has been with us for some time. Even the first WTC bombing in 1993 though failed to garnish an appropriate response against Middle Eastern terrorism. Not even an attack on CIA headquarters itself a month and a day later, by a Pakistani Mir Aimal Kansi, who killed two and wounded three, failed to elicit a response by policy-makers. They did not heed the message jihadists sent.

The authors note that this violent, contemporary brand of terrorism was spawned some time ago, with Ibn Taymiyya, b. 1269, the Wahhabists, and more recently, by Sayyid Qutb. The "Warrior Prince," Bin Laden, was born and bred in this strain of Islam. The movement he began, by the raiders and in the fields, attempted to capture and hold land according to this theology, against the "near enemy."

The question is: why were American policy-makers so slow to react given this history and the roots of violent Islam? In the 90s, the authors note the paradigm shift that took place amongst the field operatives and mid-level analysts such as Richard Clarke. This shift did not occur amongst the high-level decision-makers though. The higher-level policy makers remain mired in only recognizing the terrorism of the state-sponsored variety. Under the radar, then, terroristic efforts were taking a more ominous and deadly turn. Policy makers still considered terrorism a low-level threat and sought state sponsorship, something eschewed by jihadists.

During the same period, overseas assets of the U.S. were attacked and Americans were killed, yet these incidents were not recognized by policy-makers, as the lower and middle-level analysts identified, as part of a larger whole, a jihad against the West begun by Middle-Eastern Muslims.

Policy-makers did not connect the dots. Only in 1995 do we have the first mention of Bin Laden stated by a U.S. official (p. 235). During the same period, the CIA was in transition, if not disarray, and the Clinton administration was unresponsive to warnings about a more significant jihadist movement afoot.

When Clinton did respond, as in the '98 al-Shifa bombing, Bill was denounced by the media as a 'wag the dog' President. The mainstream news services failed in their duty to investigate and reveal the newsworthy story of rising jihadist sentiment and the violent terrorists who emerged at the time.

Bin Laden at least began to be viewed as a more significant threat during the Clinton administration, in fact, missiles were readied three times to take him out (p. 380). The period was marked unfortunately by legal ambiguities, and hand-wringing which tied the Administration's hands and effective options failed to develop in American security services to eliminate Bin Laden.

The CIA did not develop options and assets in al Qaeda's region which may have initiated effective means against Bin Laden. George Tenet, personally popular though marginally effective as CIA chief, began to advocate the necessity of addressing the rising Bin Laden threat.

Their counterparts at the FBI were in even worse shape to pursue Bin Laden or jihadists. Their crime-fighting expertise in fact worked against them in developing an appropriate response to Bin Laden. AQ (al Qaeda) was out of their bailiwick. FBI Director Louis Freeh performed dreadfully in countering terrorism, and although there were individuals of excellence who pointed out the AQ threat, such as the FBI's John O'Neill, these prescient analysts were drowned out by organizational lethargy and incompetence.

Since Tenet came in late to the game during the Clinton-Bush transition, he began to sound the alarm about Bin Laden. The Bush administration was slow to recognize the Bin Laden threat, failed to act on AQ effectively, and did not promote the proper tools to handle AQ.

Both administrations failed to protect Americans. The policy makers dedicated to security, the CIA and the FBI in particular, did not collaborate and develop an effective counter-strategy. Only in the field operatives and mid-level analysts did the more violent strain of Islam become identified as a more significant threat to American interests. The authors have traced the violent, and older strains of Islam that have become much more popular, and represent the mainstream view of contemporary Islam. The authors make a compelling case for examining both the evidence and the incidents which led us to our current clash between Islamism and the West. The quagmire that we are in is due to the West failing to understand the severity and the violent opposition of Middle Eastern Muslims.

"Mookie" Chameleon

Widely reported on this blog has been the recent dismantling of Sadr's militia. Omar Fadhil, co-author of the blog Iraq the Model, and a two time winner of the Weblog Awards, cogently summarized on The Long War Journal the next moves for "Mookie," as Sadr has been referred to.

Through his decision to trim Mahdi Army, Sadr hopes to salvage some of Mahdi Army’s best trained and most loyal units, and put them under one command to operate in a secretive manner and, ostensibly, only against US targets. If Muqtada’s plan is to make his militia operate in manner akin to al Qaeda Iraq by keeping a low profile and using selective targeting of opponents and occasional spectacular attacks like the recent car-bombing in Hurriyah district, then Mahdi Army will continue to be a source of trouble; but not of the magnitude seen 2006 and 2007. However, the problem for Sadr is that al Qaeda Iraq itself is on the verge of being defeated; trying to copy the methods of a defeated power isn’t likely to lead Sadr to a better end.

Other possible rationales for Sadr’s decision to disband the larger Mahdi Army include:

• Shedding extra unnecessary “weight:” The current larger Mahdi Army has many thousands of poorly trained foot soldiers. Those were proven to be effective in paralyzing life and spreading fear in several cities over the last few years. However, Muqtada’s ability to deploy these mobs to take over the streets has been drastically compromised following the recent crackdowns by US troops and Iraqi security forces. Sadr may get rid of these soldiers simply because they are no longer suitable for his goals. These untrained mobs could easily act as a shadow army for the shadow government Sadr wanted to establish, but they are not qualified to be members of a professional guerrilla army.

• Leaderless resistance: Sadr’s announcement could be a trick: vowing to fight the occupier until victory or death, while concurrently giving this “honor” to a small, select group. He’s basically telling his followers that fighting is good, but you shouldn’t do it. The result would be that some or many of those followers will indeed go against his orders and continue fighting. In this case, Sadr gets the service he needs from those men, while maintaining the ability to claim that Mahdi Army is not responsible and those men do not represent him.

• Preventing infiltration by informants/Iraqi security forces: Sadr’s emphasis on secrecy in his letter may indicate that he’s trying to limit the number of people that have access to information concerning the planning, operations, structure, command and control, logistics, and other secretive information of the Mahdi Army in order to prevent any security breaches. Sadr’s advisors may have convinced him that the smaller the army, the less likely it will be infiltrated, and the less likely that civilian locals will be able to get information to relay to Iraqi security forces and US troops. Muqtada’s fear from infiltration may have been exacerbated by the formation of Awakening groups in his main stronghold of Sadr City; especially that many of the Awakening men are relatives or neighbors of Mahdi Army fighters, if not were themselves members of the Mahdi Army.

• Emulating Hezbollah: Since Hezbollah plays a significant role in training and organizing the Mahdi army, this decision may be an attempt to reform the militia and make it evolve into something similar to Hezbollah. It is common knowledge that Hezbollah maintains a force of 2-3 thousand well-trained, active fighters prepared for immediate duty. Thousands of others Hezbollah operative serve in the social, financial and other civil society networks of the group, in addition to a reserve paramilitary force. In fact, rebuilding the Mahdi army following Hezbollah’s example of a clear separation between the armed and civil wings is what Sadr literally said in his letter a few weeks back.

Whatever the rationale, it is clear that Sadr is scrambling to make adjustments to his plans. The results of the recent fighting with the Iraqi security forces and US troops rendered the Mahdi army incapable of sustaining Sadr’s Plan ‘A,’ forcing him to accept a new plan with a smaller army. Cf.

My personal view is the latter, the Mahdi are evolving into a Hezbollah-type counter-society directed by Iran. With the failure of AQ to be competitive, and largely viewed as a foreign oppressor, AQ did not capture the hearts and minds of Iraqis. Sadr, due to the respect bestowed on his father, is still seen as an Iraqi power player. He will sacrifice anyone he needs to, as did Arafat, in order to advance the agenda of his co-religionists, the Shi'ite Iranians.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Update on AQ Theorist Naji

Abu Bakr Naji, who I recently commented on here, portrayed AQ differently in times past. In 2004, in his book, The Management of Savagery, Abu Bakr Naji did not simply advance a religious agenda, but a careful reading of Western political theories.

Naji says that the jihadis had to provoke the United States to invade a country in the Middle East which proved to be hauntingly true and he argued that this is the only way jihadists could prevail.

We know the result: 1) Muslims railed against local governments allied with the U.S.; 2) the U.S. aura of invincibility was tarnished through the media; and 3) sympathy for the jihadis was created since they are viewed as standing up to Crusader aggression. Moreover, the invasion would bleed the U.S. economy and sap its military power, leading to social unrest at home and its ultimate withdrawal from the Middle East.

In his previous work though, just as in the latest one, The plan is to conduct small- to medium-scale attacks on crucial infrastructure (like oil or tourism), which will cause the government to draw in its security forces. Chaos or "savagery" will erupt in the unpoliced areas. Then, the jihadis will move into these security vacuums and provide basic services to people, who will welcome an end to the instability. The final result is the same, a single global state ruled by a pious Muslim, the caliph, who will implement a strict interpretation of sharia.

Naji deserves a listen. He was correct as events unfolded before, he may well be right again.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Insurgency Gone, Criminals Sought

Graphic source: Michael Gisick/S&S

Iraqi troops pass a poster memorializing fallen Jaish al-Mahdi fighters in Shula.

With Jaish al-Mahdi banished, the Arabic name for al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, Coalition troops are walking the neighborhood to root out the last vestiges of the insurgency. American troops don't care for the name, Army, or miltia for example, "I don’t like to call them that," said Lt. Col. Gregory Baine, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment in eastern Baghdad. "They’re criminals, thugs, terrorists. ‘Militia’ could have a positive connotation," according to a statement in Stars and Stripes.

Comforting to a Theater Near You

Since the insurgency is doing so poorly, you may wonder if AQ has a back up plan. It turns out they do.

The Islamists will turn the world into "wildernesses" where only those under jihadi rule enjoy security. According to al Qaeda's chief theoretician, Sheik Abu-Bakar Naji, this is the world depicted in his new book "Governance in the Wilderness" (Edarat al-Wahsh). From the sounds of it, it looks like they see the world much as apocalyptics, and other end-time groups do. If correct, AQ is changing its strategy. AQ has failed in its tactical objectives. The Coalition is making slow, but marked progress. AQ has failed to obtain a needed homeland, or land. Something must be done.

Naji divides the jihadi movement into five concentric circles: ranging from first Sunni Salafi (traditionalist) Muslims (who, though not personally violent, are prepared to give moral and material support to militants); to Islamist groups with national rather than pan-Islamist agendas; (such as the Palestinian Hamas and the Filipino Moro Liberation Front). The fall of the Ottoman Empire and the abolition of the Islamic Caliphate in 1924 meanes that the "infidel" rules today via native proxies. Even the Taliban has not established, or rather re-established the Caliphate so they failed. Today, the Islamic movement must be global, fighting everywhere, all the time, and on all fronts.

After 9/11, the infidel U.S. failed to collapse. On the contrary, the "Great Satan" slapped back, hard. That said, the smaller and slower path but with steadier attacks has been advocated by Ayman al-Zawahiri, AQ No. 2 leader. The "near" jihad targets oppressive Muslim regions close to home first. Naji states that the low-intensity near battles must extend the war wherever there is a significant Muslim presence.

Islamist "wilderness" zones will create a parallel society alongside existing nation-states. If we are formless, we can not be defeated.

Daily life would be insecure, unstable, and unsafe. This would be a major departure from the previous AQ strategy of a few, spectacular, impressive attacks such as 9/11.

Parallel sharia societies would exert pressure on non-Muslims to submit and thus the killings, kidnapping, and local atrocities would end. The tactics would be a major change but the strategy is based on the same basic AQ point. Naji believes that, subjected to constant intimidation and fear of death, most non-Muslims (especially in the West) would submit: "The West has no stomach for a long fight."

Naji identifies that the United States is the practically the soke, exclusive target.

Naji targets the tactical objectives of oilfields, sea and airports, tourist facilities, and especially banking and financial services in "a very long war," a war of attrition.

Naji's theory is based on Mohammed who practiced the tactic by making his enemies in Medina, where he ran his version of the "wilderness," pay "the maximum price" for any deviance, and through constant raids on trade caravans belonging to his enemies in Mecca.

According to Naji, America lacks the will for a long war. The "infidel" loves life and treats it as an endless feast. Jihadis have to ruin that feast and persuade the "infidel" to abandon this world in exchange for greater rewards in the next.

Note on Keegan, Intelligence in War

Nothing about the prose seemed compelling though there were points of interest that are notable in this work. Keegan took classic incidents in war where intelligence proved crucial for the action--Napoleonic wars, Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, the invention of the wireless, Crete in WW II, Midway, the Atlantic War in WW II, and German advances late in WW II--then, he notes the limitation of intelligence and how it did not prove to be the crucial factor in the outcome. On Crete, for example, the British had detailed intelligence and yet, lost the engagement. He makes the point that force predominates over intelligence, advance knowledge or inside information does not always determine the outcome. More importantly, in the section on intelligence after 1945, he points out that intelligence can not ascertain the appropriate course of action. Saddam proved to be exceptionally obtuse and the Coalition acted on the limited intelligence available to them. The knowledge of intelligence can only go so far. Force is required although the popularizers of intelligence, mostly from novels, gives us the impression that intelligence reveals all. It does not. The key to Keegan's work, as a pre-eminent military historian, is in the subtitle: "The value--and limitations--of what the military can learn about the enemy."

Note on Strassler, The Landmark Thucydides

As important as Thucydides is, the difficulty for the layperson to grasp him and understand his work, is to overcome certain limitations in his presentation of the war. Robert Strassler's supplemental edition provides resources by providing a commentary of the narrative, and the necessary background of an easily misunderstood cultural tradition that we do not share in order to provide a useful context for modern readers. The work is amply bolstered by a plethora of unique maps, substantive appendices by leading classical scholars, such as Victor Davis Hanson, explanatory marginalia, and a helpful and complete index. Thucydides is much more easily understood by using this volume.

Note on Kagan, The Peloponnesian War

Along with using Robert Strassler's, The Landmark Thucydides, while reading the original text in translation, Donald Kagan's, The Peloponnesian War, is a masterpiece of elucidation. The text is clear and well-written while expounding on the War mostly covered by Thucydides. Kagan also is supplemented by maps not available in Strassler that I found extremely helpful to understand Thucydides while imagining the personalities involved, such as Alcibiades, the terrain, and battle conditions. This is a masterful one-volume work for general readers of the period which is much more than a simple summary of his four-volume corpus for specialists published by Cornell University Press.

Jihadists Denounce Osama and AQ

Graphic source: al-Khansa

Umm Osama, the founder of Al-Qaeda's first women-only website is said to be announcing her renunciation of the organization on Saudi TV. The al-Khansa women's website have denounced jihadism. An interview with the Egyptian-born Abu Azza al-Ansari will also be aired; he was the director of the al-Qaeda linked 'Echoes of Jihad' online magazine.

There Goes the Neighborhood: AQ on the Run

Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organisation, driven out of Afghanistan and defeated in Iraq, is re-emerging in Pakistan, Somalia, and Algeria as safe havens for training, operational planning, and recruiting.

15 of 18 Iraq Benchmarks "Satisfactory"

Iraq achieved 15 of 18 benchmarks and are now "satisfactory," almost twice of what it determined to be the case a year ago. The May 2008 report card determines that only two of the benchmarks, enacting and implementing laws to disarm militias and distribute oil revenues, are unsatisfactory.

Iraq's Violence Down to U.S. Levels

Iraq's gun related violence dropped dramatically to just over 6 deaths per day in June. If adjusted for population this would result in a murder rate of 8/100,000 people. The murder rate in the US is 4 per 100,000 people.

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Reading since summer 2006 (some of the classics are re-reads): including magazine subscriptions

  • Abbot, Edwin A., Flatland;
  • Accelerate: Technology Driving Business Performance;
  • ACM Queue: Architecting Tomorrow's Computing;
  • Adkins, Lesley and Roy A. Adkins, Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome;
  • Ali, Ayaan Hirsi, Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations;
  • Ali, Tariq, The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads, and Modernity;
  • Allawi, Ali A., The Crisis of Islamic Civilization;
  • Alperovitz, Gar, The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb;
  • American School & University: Shaping Facilities & Business Decisions;
  • Angelich, Jane, What's a Mother (in-Law) to Do?: 5 Essential Steps to Building a Loving Relationship with Your Son's New Wife;
  • Arad, Yitzchak, In the Shadow of the Red Banner: Soviet Jews in the War Against Nazi Germany;
  • Aristotle, Athenian Constitution. Eudemian Ethics. Virtues and Vices. (Loeb Classical Library No. 285);
  • Aristotle, Metaphysics: Books X-XIV, Oeconomica, Magna Moralia (The Loeb classical library);
  • Armstrong, Karen, A History of God;
  • Arrian: Anabasis of Alexander, Books I-IV (Loeb Classical Library No. 236);
  • Atkinson, Rick, The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (Liberation Trilogy);
  • Auletta, Ken, Googled: The End of the World As We Know It;
  • Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice;
  • Bacevich, Andrew, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism;
  • Baker, James A. III, and Lee H. Hamilton, The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward - A New Approach;
  • Barber, Benjamin R., Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism's Challenge to Democracy;
  • Barnett, Thomas P.M., Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating;
  • Barnett, Thomas P.M., The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century;
  • Barron, Robert, Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith;
  • Baseline: Where Leadership Meets Technology;
  • Baur, Michael, Bauer, Stephen, eds., The Beatles and Philosophy;
  • Beard, Charles Austin, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (Sony Reader);
  • Benjamin, Daniel & Steven Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam's War Against America;
  • Bergen, Peter, The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader;
  • Berman, Paul, Terror and Liberalism;
  • Berman, Paul, The Flight of the Intellectuals: The Controversy Over Islamism and the Press;
  • Better Software: The Print Companion to;
  • Bleyer, Kevin, Me the People: One Man's Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America;
  • Boardman, Griffin, and Murray, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Roman World;
  • Bracken, Paul, The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics;
  • Bradley, James, with Ron Powers, Flags of Our Fathers;
  • Bronte, Charlotte, Jane Eyre;
  • Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights;
  • Brown, Ashley, War in Peace Volume 10 1974-1984: The Marshall Cavendish Encyclopedia of Postwar Conflict;
  • Brown, Ashley, War in Peace Volume 8 The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of Postwar Conflict;
  • Brown, Nathan J., When Victory Is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics;
  • Bryce, Robert, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence";
  • Bush, George W., Decision Points;
  • Bzdek, Vincent, The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled;
  • Cahill, Thomas, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter;
  • Campus Facility Maintenance: Promoting a Healthy & Productive Learning Environment;
  • Campus Technology: Empowering the World of Higher Education;
  • Certification: Tools and Techniques for the IT Professional;
  • Channel Advisor: Business Insights for Solution Providers;
  • Chariton, Callirhoe (Loeb Classical Library);
  • Chief Learning Officer: Solutions for Enterprise Productivity;
  • Christ, Karl, The Romans: An Introduction to Their History and Civilization;
  • Cicero, De Senectute;
  • Cicero, The Republic, The Laws;
  • Cicero, The Verrine Orations I: Against Caecilius. Against Verres, Part I; Part II, Book 1 (Loeb Classical Library);
  • Cicero, The Verrine Orations I: Against Caecilius. Against Verres, Part I; Part II, Book 2 (Loeb Classical Library);
  • CIO Decisions: Aligning I.T. and Business in the MidMarket Enterprise;
  • CIO Insight: Best Practices for IT Business Leaders;
  • CIO: Business Technology Leadership;
  • Clay, Lucius Du Bignon, Decision in Germany;
  • Cohen, William S., Dragon Fire;
  • Colacello, Bob, Ronnie and Nancy: Their Path to the White House, 1911 to 1980;
  • Coll, Steve, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century;
  • Collins, Francis S., The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief ;
  • Colorni, Angelo, Israel for Beginners: A Field Guide for Encountering the Israelis in Their Natural Habitat;
  • Compliance & Technology;
  • Computerworld: The Voice of IT Management;
  • Connolly, Peter & Hazel Dodge, The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens & Rome;
  • Conti, Greg, Googling Security: How Much Does Google Know About You?;
  • Converge: Strategy and Leadership for Technology in Education;
  • Cowan, Ross, Roman Legionary 58 BC - AD 69;
  • Cowell, F. R., Life in Ancient Rome;
  • Creel, Richard, Religion and Doubt: Toward a Faith of Your Own;
  • Cross, Robin, General Editor, The Encyclopedia of Warfare: The Changing Nature of Warfare from Prehistory to Modern-day Armed Conflicts;
  • CSO: The Resource for Security Executives:
  • Cummins, Joseph, History's Greatest Wars: The Epic Conflicts that Shaped the Modern World;
  • D'Amato, Raffaele, Imperial Roman Naval Forces 31 BC-AD 500;
  • Dallek, Robert, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963;
  • Daly, Dennis, Sophocles' Ajax;
  • Dando-Collins, Stephen, Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome;
  • Darwish, Nonie, Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror;
  • Davis Hanson, Victor, Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome;
  • Dawkins, Richard, The Blind Watchmaker;
  • Dawkins, Richard, The God Delusion;
  • Dawkins, Richard, The Selfish Gene;
  • de Blij, Harm, Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America, Climate Change, The Rise of China, and Global Terrorism;
  • Defense Systems: Information Technology and Net-Centric Warfare;
  • Defense Systems: Strategic Intelligence for Info Centric Operations;
  • Defense Tech Briefs: Engineering Solutions for Military and Aerospace;
  • Dennett, Daniel C., Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon;
  • Dennett, Daniel C., Consciousness Explained;
  • Dennett, Daniel C., Darwin's Dangerous Idea;
  • Devries, Kelly, et. al., Battles of the Ancient World 1285 BC - AD 451 : From Kadesh to Catalaunian Field;
  • Dickens, Charles, Great Expectations;
  • Digital Communities: Building Twenty-First Century Communities;
  • Doctorow, E.L., Homer & Langley;
  • Dodds, E. R., The Greeks and the Irrational;
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor, The House of the Dead (Google Books, Sony e-Reader);
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor, The Idiot;
  • Douglass, Elisha P., Rebels and Democrats: The Struggle for Equal Political Rights and Majority Role During the American Revolution;
  • Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, The Hound of the Baskervilles & The Valley of Fear;
  • Dr. Dobb's Journal: The World of Software Development;
  • Drug Discovery News: Discovery/Development/Diagnostics/Delivery;
  • DT: Defense Technology International;
  • Dunbar, Richard, Alcatraz;
  • Education Channel Partner: News, Trends, and Analysis for K-20 Sales Professionals;
  • Edwards, Aton, Preparedness Now!;
  • EGM: Electronic Gaming Monthly, the No. 1 Videogame Magazine;
  • Ehrman, Bart D., Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scriptures and the Faiths We Never Knew;
  • Ehrman, Bart D., Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why;
  • Electronic Engineering Times: The Industry Newsweekly for the Creators of Technology;
  • Ellis, Joseph J., American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson;
  • Ellis, Joseph J., His Excellency: George Washington;
  • Emergency Management: Strategy & Leadership in Critical Times;
  • Emerson, Steven, American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us;
  • Erlewine, Robert, Monotheism and Tolerance: Recovering a Religion of Reason (Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion);
  • ESD: Embedded Systems Design;
  • Everitt, Anthony, Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor;
  • Everitt, Anthony, Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome's Greatest Politician;
  • eWeek: The Enterprise Newsweekly;
  • Federal Computer Week: Powering the Business of Government;
  • Ferguson, Niall, Civilization: The West and the Rest;
  • Ferguson, Niall, Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power;
  • Ferguson, Niall, The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World, 1700-2000;
  • Ferguson, Niall, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Decline of the West;
  • Feuerbach, Ludwig, The Essence of Christianity (Sony eReader);
  • Fields, Nic, The Roman Army of the Principate 27 BC-AD 117;
  • Fields, Nic, The Roman Army of the Punic Wars 264-146 BC;
  • Fields, Nic, The Roman Army: the Civil Wars 88-31 BC;
  • Finkel, Caroline, Osman's Dream: The History of the Ottoman Empire;
  • Fisk, Robert, The Great War For Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East;
  • Forstchen, William R., One Second After;
  • Fox, Robin Lane, The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian;
  • Frazer, James George, The Golden Bough (Volume 3): A Study in Magic and Religion (Sony eReader);
  • Freeh, Louis J., My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror;
  • Freeman, Charles, The Greek Achievement: The Foundations of the Western World;
  • Friedman, Thomas L. The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century Further Updated and Expanded/Release 3.0;
  • Friedman, Thomas L., The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization;
  • Frontinus: Stratagems. Aqueducts of Rome. (Loeb Classical Library No. 174);
  • Fuller Focus: Fuller Theological Seminary;
  • Fuller, Graham E., A World Without Islam;
  • Gaubatz, P. David and Paul Sperry, Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That's Conspiring to Islamize America;
  • Ghattas, Kim, The Secretary: A Journey with Hillary Clinton from Beirut to the Heart of American Power;
  • Gibson, William, Neuromancer;
  • Gilmour, Michael J., Gods and Guitars: Seeking the Sacred in Post-1960s Popular Music;
  • Global Services: Strategies for Sourcing People, Processes, and Technologies;
  • Glucklich, Ariel, Dying for Heaven: Holy Pleasure and Suicide Bombers-Why the Best Qualities of Religion Are Also It's Most Dangerous;
  • Goldberg, Jonah, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning;
  • Goldin, Shmuel, Unlocking the Torah Text Vayikra (Leviticus);
  • Goldsworthy, Adrian, Caesar: Life of a Colossus;
  • Goldsworthy, Adrian, How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower;
  • Goodman, Lenn E., Creation and Evolution;
  • Goodwin, Doris Kearns, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln;
  • Gopp, Amy,, Split Ticket: Independent Faith in a Time of Partisan Politics (WTF: Where's the Faith?);
  • Gordon, Michael R., and Bernard E. Trainor, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq;
  • Government Health IT: The Magazine of Public/private Health Care Convergence;
  • Government Technology's Emergency Management: Strategy & Leadership in Critical Times;
  • Government Technology: Solutions for State and Local Government in the Information Age;
  • Grant , Michael, The Climax of Rome: The Final Achievements of the Ancient World, AD 161 - 337;
  • Grant, Michael, The Classical Greeks;
  • Grumberg, Orna, and Helmut Veith, 25 Years of Model Checking: History, Achievements, Perspectives;
  • Halberstam, David, War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals;
  • Hammer, Reuven, Entering Torah Prefaces to the Weekly Torah Portion;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, An Autumn of War: What America Learned from September 11 and the War on Terrorism;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Between War and Peace: Lessons from Afghanistan to Iraq;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, How The Obama Administration Threatens Our National Security (Encounter Broadsides);
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Ripples of Battle: How Wars of the Past Still Determine How We Fight, How We Live, and How We Think;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, The End of Sparta: A Novel;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny;
  • Hanson, Victor Davis, Wars of the Ancient Greeks;
  • Harnack, Adolf Von, History of Dogma, Volume 3 (Sony Reader);
  • Harris, Alex, Reputation At Risk: Reputation Report;
  • Harris, Sam, Letter to a Christian Nation;
  • Harris, Sam, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason;
  • Hayek, F. A., The Road to Serfdom;
  • Heilbroner, Robert L., and Lester Thurow, Economics Explained: Everything You Need to Know About How the Economy Works and Where It's Going;
  • Hempel, Sandra, The Strange Case of The Broad Street Pump: John Snow and the Mystery of Cholera;
  • Hinnells, John R., A Handbook of Ancient Religions;
  • Hitchens, Christopher, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything;
  • Hogg, Ian V., The Encyclopedia of Weaponry: The Development of Weaponry from Prehistory to 21st Century Warfare;
  • Hugo, Victor, The Hunchback of Notre Dame;
  • Humphrey, Caroline & Vitebsky, Piers, Sacred Architecture;
  • Huntington, Samuel P., The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order;
  • Info World: Information Technology News, Computer Networking & Security;
  • Information Week: Business Innovation Powered by Technology:
  • Infostor: The Leading Source for Enterprise Storage Professionals;
  • Infrastructure Insite: Bringing IT Together;
  • Insurance Technology: Business Innovation Powered by Technology;
  • Integrated Solutions: For Enterprise Content Management;
  • Intel Premier IT: Sharing Best Practices with the Information Technology Community;
  • Irwin, Robert, Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents;
  • Jeffrey, Grant R., The Global-Warming Deception: How a Secret Elite Plans to Bankrupt America and Steal Your Freedom;
  • Jewkes, Yvonne, and Majid Yar, Handbook of Internet Crime;
  • Johnson, Chalmers, Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire;
  • Journal, The: Transforming Education Through Technology;
  • Judd, Denis, The Lion and the Tiger: The Rise and Fall of the British Raj, 1600-1947;
  • Kagan, Donald, The Peloponnesian War;
  • Kansas, Dave, The Wall Street Journal Guide to the End of Wall Street as We Know It: What You Need to Know About the Greatest Financial Crisis of Our Time--and How to Survive It;
  • Karsh, Efraim, Islamic Imperialism: A History;
  • Kasser, Rodolphe, The Gospel of Judas;
  • Katz, Solomon, The Decline of Rome and the Rise of Medieval Europe: (The Development of Western Civilization);
  • Keegan, John, Intelligence in War: The Value--and Limitations--of What the Military Can Learn About the Enemy;
  • Kenis, Leo, et. al., The Transformation of the Christian Churches in Western Europe 1945-2000 (Kadoc Studies on Religion, Culture and Society 6);
  • Kepel, Gilles, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam;
  • Kiplinger's: Personal Finance;
  • Klein, Naomi, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism;
  • KM World: Content, Document, and Knowledge Management;
  • Koestler, Arthur, Darkness at Noon: A Novel;
  • Kostova, Elizabeth, The Historian;
  • Kuttner, Robert, The Squandering of America: How the Failure of Our Politics Undermines Our Prosperity;
  • Lake, Kirsopp, The Text of the New Testament, Sony Reader;
  • Laur, Timothy M., Encyclopedia of Modern US Military Weapons ;
  • Leffler, Melvyn P., and Jeffrey W. Legro, To Lead the World: American Strategy After the Bush Doctrine;
  • Lendon, J. E., Soldiers and Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity;
  • Lenin, V. I., Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism;
  • Lennon, John J., There is Absolutely No Reason to Pay Too Much for College!;
  • Lewis, Bernard, The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror;
  • Lewis, Bernard, What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East;
  • Lifton, Robert J., Greg Mitchell, Hiroshima in America;
  • Limberis, Vasiliki M., Architects of Piety: The Cappadocian Fathers and the Cult of the Martyrs;
  • Lipsett, B. Diane, Desiring Conversion: Hermas, Thecla, Aseneth;
  • Livingston, Jessica, Founders At Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days;
  • Livy, Rome and the Mediterranean: Books XXXI-XLV of the History of Rome from its Foundation (Penguin Classics);
  • Louis J., Freeh, My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Fighting the War on Terror;
  • Mackay, Christopher S., Ancient Rome: A Military and Political History;
  • Majno, Guido, The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World;
  • Marcus, Greil,Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes;
  • Marshall-Cornwall, James, Napoleon as Military Commander;
  • Maughm, W. Somerset, Of Human Bondage;
  • McCluskey, Neal P., Feds in the Classroom: How Big Government Corrupts, Cripples, and Compromises American Education;
  • McCullough, David, 1776;
  • McCullough, David, John Adams;
  • McCullough, David, Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt;
  • McLynn, Frank, Marcus Aurelius: A Life;
  • McManus, John, Deadly Brotherhood, The: The American Combat Soldier in World War II ;
  • McMaster, H. R., Dereliction of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam;
  • McNamara, Patrick, Science and the World's Religions Volume 1: Origins and Destinies (Brain, Behavior, and Evolution);
  • McNamara, Patrick, Science and the World's Religions Volume 2: Persons and Groups (Brain, Behavior, and Evolution);
  • McNamara, Patrick, Science and the World's Religions Volume 3: Religions and Controversies (Brain, Behavior, and Evolution);
  • Meacham, Jon, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House;
  • Mearsheimer, John J., and Stephen M. Walt, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy;
  • Meier, Christian, Caesar: A Biography;
  • Menzies, Gaven, 1421: The Year China Discovered America;
  • Metaxas, Eric, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy;
  • Michael, Katina and M.G. Michael, Innovative Automatic Identification and Location-Based Services: From Barcodes to Chip Implants;
  • Migliore, Daniel L., Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology;
  • Military & Aerospace Electronics: The Magazine of Transformation in Electronic and Optical Technology;
  • Millard, Candice, Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey: The River of Doubt;
  • Mommsen, Theodor, The History of the Roman Republic, Sony Reader;
  • Muller, F. Max, Chips From A German Workshop: Volume III: Essays On Language And Literature;
  • Murray, Janet, H., Hamlet On the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace;
  • Murray, Williamson, War in the Air 1914-45;
  • Müller, F. Max, Chips From A German Workshop;
  • Nader, Ralph, Crashing the Party: Taking on the Corporate Government in an Age of Surrender;
  • Nagl, John A., Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam;
  • Napoleoni, Loretta, Terrorism and the Economy: How the War on Terror is Bankrupting the World;
  • Nature: The International Weekly Journal of Science;
  • Negus, Christopher, Fedora 6 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux;
  • Network Computing: For IT by IT:
  • Network World: The Leader in Network Knowledge;
  • Network-centric Security: Where Physical Security & IT Worlds Converge;
  • Newman, Paul B., Travel and Trade in the Middle Ages;
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, The Nietzsche-Wagner Correspondence;
  • Nixon, Ed, The Nixons: A Family Portrait;
  • O'Brien, Johnny, Day of the Assassins: A Jack Christie Novel;
  • O'Donnell, James J., Augustine: A New Biography;
  • OH & S: Occupational Health & Safety
  • Okakura, Kakuzo, The Book of Tea;
  • Optimize: Business Strategy & Execution for CIOs;
  • Ostler, Nicholas, Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin;
  • Parry, Jay A., The Real George Washington (American Classic Series);
  • Paton, W.R., The Greek Anthology, Volume V, Loeb Classical Library, No. 86;
  • Pausanius, Guide to Greece 1: Central Greece;
  • Perrett, Bryan, Cassell Military Classics: Iron Fist: Classic Armoured Warfare;
  • Perrottet, Tony, The Naked Olympics: The True Story of the Olympic Games;
  • Peters, Ralph, New Glory: Expanding America's Global Supremacy;
  • Phillips, Kevin, American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush;
  • Pick, Bernhard; Paralipomena; Remains of Gospels and Sayings of Christ (Sony Reader);
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