June 29, 2004



CNN reports: Pentagon to call up rarely tapped Reserves.

Pentagon officials admit that the military is reaching deep into its resources but say that war planners have long had contingency plans for such a call-up when troops are needed.

The Pentagon has about 118,000 such troops, former enlisted soldiers who served less than eight years on active duty or officers who did not resign their commissions.

The Individual Ready Reserve category is distinct from regular Army Reserve because the troops do not perform any military service during the year yet are still eligible to be called to active duty.

About 2,000 IRR troops already serve in some capacity in Iraq, although many of them volunteered for service, according to Pentagon officials.

UPDATE July 1: Four Right Wing Wackos has a funny story relating to the topic of this cartoon.

Posted by Forkum at 10:41 PM

June 28, 2004

Early Delivery


CNN reports: U.S. returns sovereignty to Iraq; Handover comes 2 days before date coalition had announced. And this Washington Times article discusses the long road ahead for self-secured Iraq. (Via TIA Daily)

Posted by Forkum at 11:04 PM

June 27, 2004

Aid and Comfort


Little Green Footballs has a post and photo from weekend "anti-war" protests.

Posted by Forkum at 10:41 PM

June 23, 2004



CNN reports: Saudis offer terrorists month to surrender.

"We are announcing for the last time that we are opening the door to repentance and for those to return to righteousness," said Crown Prince Abdullah in a televised address. ... "To everyone who has gone out of the righteous way and has committed a crime in the name of religion and to everyone who belongs to that group that has done itself a disservice, everyone who has been captured in terror acts is given the chance to come back to God if they want to save their lives, their souls," Abdullah said. "If they give themselves up without force within one month maximum from the date of this speech, we can promise them that they are going to be safe."

Abdullah said all such people would be dealt with fairly, in accordance with Islamic law.

"If they are wise and they accept it, then they are saved. And if they snub it, then God is not going to forbid us from hitting them with our force, which we get from our dependence on God."

He added that Saudi forces would not hesitate to act.

"Not hesitate"? Almost three years after 9/11? I'm sure the terrorists are quaking in their suicide vests. As we've noted before (e.g., here and here), the Saudis didn't really care about Islamic, anit-western terrorism until their own people started getting killed and their oil business was threatened. Their amnesty offer simply demonstrates the religious sympathy they have for the terrorists' cause.

In today's TIA Daily, Robert Tracinski writes under "Saudi Pseudo Civil War":

The good news: the Saudis are threatening to fight a civil war that has been declared against them by the Islamic fanatics they spawned. The very bad news (for the Saudi regime and for oil prices): the prelude to this fight indicates that the Saudis don't have the nerve to attack their own offspring -- since they have begun by boldly offering to let their opponents off the hook in a general amnesty for the Kingdom's terrorists.

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UPDATE: I added "Non" to the title. Seemed more appropriate.

UPDATE June 26: Reader Josh Spencer has adpated our cartoon into, of all things, a radio commerical.

Posted by Forkum at 06:14 PM

June 22, 2004

Prose and Cons


Former President Bill Clinton's autobiography hits the stands today. CNN reports:
Crowds line up for Clinton book; Knopf has printed 1.5 million hardcover copies
Critics bored, booksellers buzzed by Clinton book
Review: Clinton book big but shallow; With little insight, book is a daily grind

And Andrew Sullivan notes that Clinton inadvertently admits to perjury in this new book.

UPDATE: CNN has posted an article on Clinton's perjury, though they manage to put the best possible spin on it with the headline: Clinton revises timeline of Lewinsky affair.

Posted by Forkum at 04:36 PM

June 21, 2004

Open for Business


Space.com reports today: SpaceShipOne Makes History: First Manned Private Spaceflight.

Scaled Composites, designer and builder of the rocket plane, say the successful mission will "demonstrate that the space frontier is finally open to private enterprise." ... "This event could be the breakthrough that will enable space access for future generations," a pre-launch Scaled Composites press statement explains.

Glenn Reynolds has more links here.

UPDATE June 22: TIA Daily links to two SpaceShipOne articles in The Washington Post (registration require) and The Los Angles Times. TIA's Robert Tracinki comments:

"Starship Private Enterprise" ... Today's Washington Post offers a nice bit of reporting on the events surrounding the test of Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne -- an event that recalls the inspiring days of the 1960s space program. But this space race is proof, not just of the power of the mind, but also of the power of private enterprise -- which just sent a man to space on the same budget and schedule NASA would require for "a paper study." (The LA Times coverage ... is a little too flippant in tone, but it does capture more of the entrepreneurial, capitalistic flavor of the event.)

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Posted by Forkum at 08:53 PM

June 20, 2004

Unlearned Lessons


Above is our cover illustration for the May 2004 issue of The Intellectual Activist. Contrary to what some on the right my think, there are dangerous parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, though not in the way the defeatist, anti-American leftists would have us believe. In the cover article, editor and publisher Robert Tracinski writes:

Iraq is not and need not be Vietnam. But the similarity is not merely the wishful thinking of the left-leaning media. The similarity is not the nature of the conflict itself, but in the reaction to the conflict by America's leaders.

For many of our nation's political leaders, the Vietnam War was one of the most profound events in the early years of their lives and careers. [...] The great irony of the conflict in Iraq, however, is that none of these men learned the lessons of Vietnam. They are bringing to this new conflict the same premises that crippled American power and made victory impossible 35 years ago.

The reason our leaders did not learn the lessons of Vietnam is that those lessons were not primarily military or political lessons; they were philosophical lessons.

Tracinski goes on to show how philosopher Ayn Rand's analysis of the Vietnam war (a 1975 essay titled "The Lessons of Vietnam" available in the book The Voice of Reason) is relevant to today's war in Iraq. For example, Ayn Rand wrote:

In compliance with epistemological irrationalism, it [the Vietnam War] was a war and a non-war at the same time. It was a modern monstrosity called a "no-win" war, in which the American forces were not permitted to act, but only to react: they were to "contain" the enemy, but not to beat him.

That could be a description of America's contradictory strategy in Iraq, where, as Tracinski explains, we have both an "occupation" and a "liberation," where the enemy is allowed to shoot at Americans during "cease-fires," and where we seek legitimacy from illegitimate organizations like the U.N. (whose U.S.-approved envoy in Iraq declared, "There is never any military solution to any problem.").

Even some of the political goals in Iraq compare to those of the Vietnam War. Ayn Rand wrote:

In compliance with modern politics, the [Vietnam] war was allegedly intended to save South Vietnam from communism, but the proclaimed purpose of the war was not to protect freedom or individual rights, it was not to establish capitalism or any particular social system -- it was to uphold the South Vietnamese right to "national self-determination," i.e., the right to vote themselves into any sort of system (including communism, as American propagandists kept proclaiming). [...]

Picking up the liberal's discarded old slogan of World War I days -- "the self-determination of nations" -- the American conservatives were trying to hide the American system, capitalism, under some sort of collectivist cover.

In Iraq, the Bush Administration's oft-stated goal -- besides the laudable goal of defending America from terrorists -- has been the "liberation" of Iraq for the sake of "democracy," even if that means allowing Iraqis to vote themselves into a Iranian-style theocratic dictatorship (which Secretary of State Colin Powell said we would "have to accept").

Tracinski asserts that to avoid defeat in Iraq and in the broader War on Terror, America needs political leadership "that will establish policy goals consistently shaped by America's interests and the requirements of victory, uncorrupted by any element of consensus-worship and appeasement," policy goals that are integrated "from top to bottom, from the White House down to the commander in the field."

In my opinion, there's no indication that presidential candidate Senator John Kerry would ever adopt such a pro-American, self-interested, military-oriented policy. So I will continue to voice criticisms of the Bush Administration and hope that President Bush, if re-elected, will do better.

There is far more analysis in "The Unlearned Lessons of Vietnam" than I can summarize here, including the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. If you're interested in the full article, we highly recommend that you contact TIA for a copy of the May issue.

In the meantime, we also highly recommend that you take advantage of the free trial offer for Robert Tracinski's TIA Daily. Just enter your e-mail address in the space below and click to arrow to receive TIA Daily free for 30-days:

In TIA Daily, Robert Tracinski and others provide an individualist perspective on the news five times a week. I look forward to every e-mail. Here is a sample of Tracinski's commentary relating to "unlearned lessons":

After losing hundreds of fighters in a lame uprising against US forces -- then vowing, just a few days ago, to die fighting -- al-Sadr's Mahdi Army has now declared victory and disbanded. And they have won, at least in the short term: al-Sadr has escaped punishment for murdering a rival cleric, and he has gained a base of support that he can use to push his theocratic agenda in the new Iraqi government.

How al-Sadr and the terrorists in Fallujah are treated in the coming weeks will be the real test of the Iraq turn over. Keep track with TIA Daily.

Posted by Forkum at 08:58 PM

June 17, 2004

When Worlds Collude


CNN reported today: Blair: Al Qaeda worked in Iraq; 9/11 panel finds no link between terror network, Saddam.

Notice the subhead, which asserts no link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Other news outlets used similar headlines giving the impression that the 9/11 commission has dismissed all links between Saddam and Osama bin Laden. But even the CNN article recites links between Al Qaeda and Iraq that are mentioned in the commission's report.

CNN later reported: Bush insists Iraq, al Qaeda had 'relationship'.

Bush reiterated that the administration never said that "the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated" between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. "We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda," he said. [...] "I always said that Saddam Hussein was a threat," Bush said. He was "a threat because he provided safe haven for a terrorist like (Abu Musab al-) Zarqawi, who is still killing innocents inside of Iraq."

In a news release, U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) made this point:

"We don't have evidence that Saddam Hussein helped plan the attack on September 11th, but we do have plenty of evidence that Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden shared a similar view of the United States and were exploring ways to develop closer ties. Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden are cut from the same cloth. One leads a terrorist organization, while the other led a terrorist government."

And Andrew C. McCarthy takes a detailed, critical look at the 9/11 commission's report and how the media are presenting it: Iraq & al Qaeda: The 9/11 Commission raises more questions than it answers. (Via Little Green Footballs)

This is clear -- if anything in this regard can be said to be "clear" -- from the staff's murky but carefully phrased summation sentence, which is worth parsing since it is already being gleefully misreported: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States." (Italics mine.) That is, the staff is not saying al Qaeda and Iraq did cooperate -- far from it. The staff seems to be saying: "they appear to have cooperated but we do not have sufficient evidence to conclude that they worked in tandem on a specific terrorist attack, such as 9/11, the U.S.S. Cole bombing, or the embassy bombings."

[...]al Qaeda is a full-time terrorist organization -- it does not have the same pretensions as, say, Sinn Fein or Hamas, to be a part-time political party. Al Qaeda's time is fully devoted to conducting terrorist attacks and planning terrorist attacks. Thus, if a country cooperates with al Qaeda, it is cooperating in (or facilitating, abetting, promoting -- you choose the euphemism) terrorism. What difference should it make that no one can find an actual bomb that was once in Saddam's closet and ended up at the Cole's hull? If al Qaeda and Iraq were cooperating, they had to be cooperating on terrorism, and as al Qaeda made no secret that it existed for the narrow purpose of inflicting terrorism on the United States, exactly what should we suppose Saddam was hoping to achieve by cooperating with bin Laden?

Glenn Reynolds has more on the subject here and here.

UPDATE June 18: From CNN: Putin: Russia warned U.S. of Iraq terror.

Posted by Forkum at 10:05 PM

June 15, 2004

The Hedge of Allegiance


CNN reported yesterday: Court dismisses Pledge case; Atheist father cannot sue over use of 'Under God'.

The Supreme Court preserved the phrase "one nation, under God," in the Pledge of Allegiance, ruling Monday that a California atheist could not challenge the patriotic oath but sidestepping the broader question of separation of church and state. ... The high court's lengthy opinion overturns a ruling two years ago that the teacher-led pledge was unconstitutional in public schools. ... The [overruled] 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the language of the First Amendment and the Supreme Court's precedents make clear that tax-supported schools cannot lend their imprimatur to a declaration of fealty of "one nation under God."...

Congress adopted the pledge as a secular, patriotic tribute in 1942, at the height of World War II. Congress added the phrase "under God" more than a decade later, in 1954, when the world had moved from hot war to cold. Supporters of the new wording said it would set the United States apart from godless communism.

This cartoon was directly inspired by a headline from Robert Tracinski's June 15th TIA Daily: "Supremes Punt on the Pledge". Tracinski wrote:

Faced with the need for a controversial decision, the Supreme Court bravely dodges the issue, deciding (somewhat dubiously) that a girl's own father doesn't have standing to sue on her behalf. But when the court finally does make its decision, it is clear that there are at least four votes on the court for weakening the wall of separation between church and state.

From the CNN article: "Justice Antonin Scalia removed himself from participation in the case, presumably because of remarks he had made that seemed to telegraph his view that the pledge is constitutional. [...] Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist agreed with the outcome of the case, but still wrote separately to say that the Pledge as recited by schoolchildren does not violate the Constitution. Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas agreed with him."

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Posted by Forkum at 10:14 PM

June 14, 2004

Dog Daze


CNN reports: Nuclear watchdog criticizes Iran.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei was critical Monday of Iran's cooperation with his agency as the IAEA board of governors met. Iran's cooperation with U.N. nuclear inspectors is "less than satisfactory," ElBaradei said. [...] But, ElBaradei said, there is "steady progress" in the rest of the agency's work with the Islamic republic.

But as The Wall Street Journal editorial Coddling the Mullahs pointed out:

If Iran goes nuclear within the next year or two, don't blame the inspectors at the International Atomic Energy Agency. Earlier this month Mohammed ElBaradei's U.N. team issued yet another damning report on the mullahs, describing a pattern of deception and non-cooperation that all but screams "bomb program." But the international community, with the apparent acquiescence of the Bush Administration, is treating it all as a matter of indifference.

OK, that's a mild overstatement. IAEA member states have been going through the motions required by their inspection process. But when they meet today in Vienna the consuming issue will be whether to "deplore" Iran's deceptions or note them with "serious concern." The Iranians are protesting that they consider even those words as all but a casus belli, but they are reported to be privately pleased as punch that the IAEA will yet again fail to refer them to the U.N. Security Council for sanction.

Posted by Forkum at 10:18 PM

June 13, 2004

Uphill Battle


CNN reported today: Car bomb kills 12 Iraqis; Government official assassinated outside home in Baghdad

Members of Iraq's government have become targets of insurgents who see them as collaborating with the U.S.-led coalition.

Saturday morning, Bassam Salih Kubba, one of Iraq's four deputy foreign ministers, was killed when a carful of assailants drove by and fired at him. Assailants also opened fire on Iraq's deputy health minister, Ammar al-Saffar, Wednesday morning as he left his home for work. He escaped unharmed. Last month, a convoy carrying Salama al-Khafaji, a female member of the Iraqi Governing Council, was ambushed. Al-Khafaji survived the assassination attempt. In mid-May, a suicide bomber killed Izzedine Salim, who was just two weeks into his monthlong term as the council's president.

The governing council dissolved itself June 1 to make way for the interim government, which assumes leadership from the coalition June 30.

UPDATE June 14: CNN reports: Baghdad car bomb kills 13; At least 16 people killed in five attacks Monday

Posted by Forkum at 08:44 PM

June 11, 2004

Baby Got Burqa


This cartoon was inspired by a post at Charles Johnson's blog, Little Green Footballs. We stole his title outright: Hip-Hop, Islamofascist Style.

The post is about an Iranian rapper who was allowed by the theocracy to release an album, but only after the "ministry of Islamic guidance and culture" censored 20 lyrical excerpts and a few songs. What was left? According the London Telegraph article:

Many of the songs question the habit of girls following western fashions. The lyrics mock the girls in Teheran who stroll through the capital with designer headscarves and make-up.

"More important than bread at night is your lipstick and lipliner," raps Binesh Pagoh about a conceited girl. "There's a lot of religious people here, cover your legs with that skirt."

The article claims the album's release is an indication that officials are easing the restrictions on art. Perhaps. It's certainly an indication of how far Iranian people are from a free society.

Posted by Forkum at 12:01 AM

June 09, 2004

Just when you thought it was safe...


The New York Times reported this weekend: The Saudis Fight Terror, but Not Those Who Wage It. (Via LGF)

There has, in fact, been a profound silence in the kingdom in the wake of the attacks in Yanbu and Khobar, in which foreigners were the main targets and Muslims were pointedly spared. Web sites popular with the more religious Saudis brimmed over with condemnation for the April bombing of the traffic police headquarters in Riyadh because all the victims were Saudis, while virtually ignoring the two subsequent attacks.

That leads some Saudi intellectuals to conclude that the religious establishment, or at least its more militant elements, basically support Al Qaeda's goal of driving all foreigners out of the Arabian peninsula and establishing a Taliban-like caliphate.

Meanwhile, in news from the kingdom yesterday, CNN reported: American shot dead in Saudi Arabia (the second fatal attack on Westerners in three days) and Poll of Saudis shows wide support for bin Laden's views. From the latter story:

Almost half of all Saudis said in a poll conducted last year that they have a favorable view of Osama bin Laden's sermons and rhetoric, but fewer than 5 percent thought it was a good idea for bin Laden to rule the Arabian Peninsula. The poll involved interviews with more than 15,000 Saudis and was overseen by Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi national security consultant. It was conducted between August and November 2003, after simultaneous suicide attacks in May 2003 when 36 people were killed in Riyadh.

The Times article did note an exception to this sympathy with the terrorists' goals, a Saudi prince who recently said that the kingdom's religious scholars, or clerics, "have to declare jihad against those deviants [terrorists] and to fully support it, as those who keep silent about the truth are mute devils."

But as John Lewis observed in the June 4 TIA Daily:

The Saudi declaration must not be confused with America's war. The Saudis have declared a war, not against fundamentalist Islam -- of which they are a part -- but against those Muslims who disagree with Saudi Wahhabism. [...] For those who think that Islam is not violent, or that only "some" Muslims have "hijacked a great religion," consider that all sides in these conflicts require the sanction of clerics for their declaration of wars.

UPDATE June 13: CNN reports: Saudi hunt for missing American; Another American murdered.

The man was reported missing shortly after gunmen killed Kenneth Scroggs, an American working for a British-Saudi company, at his home in Riyadh's upscale Malaz neighborhood.

The [Al Falluja Squadron group's] statement identified the man it said it had kidnapped, posting a driver's license, passport, business card and other documents and described him as a system engineering "specialist" for the Apache AH-64 helicopter.

"We have our legal right to treat them [hostages] the same way they treat our people," the statement reads. "We will publish more details about the man kidnapped and explain the mujahedeen's demands."

The group added, "We will continue this determination in the same road toward Jihad and for supporting our brothers in Palestine, Iraq, Cuba and everywhere."

Meanwhile, the same Web site posted a video purporting to show the killing of Robert Jacobs, an American worker Saudi authorities said was gunned down Tuesday at his Riyadh home. CNN has not confirmed the authenticity of the video, and the victim's face is never seen.

Jacobs, a 63-year-old employee of Vinnell Arabia, was gunned down in the eastern Riyadh neighborhood of al-Khaleej, which contains several residential compounds for Westerners, according to Saudi police and Jacobs' company.

The one-minute video starts with Arabic text over a black background that reads "The murder of the Jewish American Robert Jacob, who worked for the Vinnell espionage firm." Below, in English, it reads "Robert Jacob." Arabic music plays over the graphic.

Scroggs, the victim in Saturday's shooting, was shot in the back as he parked his car at his home in central Riyadh, Saudi police said. The U.S. Embassy identified him, but provided no other information.

Posted by Forkum at 03:05 PM

June 08, 2004



CNN reports on the G-8 Summit:

This year terrorism and its likely impact on world oil prices will see the European leaders lining up with the U.S. in common concern, according to [Katynka] Barysch [, an analyst at the Center for European Reform].

Posted by Forkum at 03:29 PM

June 07, 2004



Posted by Forkum at 03:17 PM

June 06, 2004

Generation Chasm


From The Wall Street Journal: Too Much, Too Late. (Via TIA Daily)

A cultural establishment that (on the whole) doesn't give a damn about World War II or its veterans thinks it can undo a half-century of indifference verging on contempt by repeating a silly phrase ("the greatest generation") like a magic spell while deploying fulsome praise like carpet bombing.

The campaign is especially intense among members of the 1960s generation who once chose to treat all present and former soldiers like dirt and are willing at long last to risk some friendly words about World War II veterans, now that most are safely underground and guaranteed not to talk back, enjoy their celebrity or start acting like they own the joint.

UPDATE: If you ever get a chance, be sure to visit the The National D-Day Museum in New Orleans.

Yale Kramer has posted an excellent article he wrote for The American Spectator for the 50th anniversary of D-Day: EASY RED, FOX GREEN: THE MEANING OF OMAHA BEACH. It contains a brief account of D-Day, specifically Omaha beach. Highly recommend. (Via LGF)

Posted by Forkum at 01:21 AM

June 03, 2004

Kerrying On


From AP: Kerry Outlines Way to Limit Nuke Threat. (Via LGF)

"At this hour, stockpiles go unguarded, bomb-making materials sit in forgotten facilities, and terrorists plot away," the senator said. "They have their technology. They have their scientists. All they need is that material. But we can stop them." ... "Remember. No material. No bomb. No nuclear terrorism," he said.

Senator Kerry seems to be applying the leftists' anti-handgun philosophy to nukes: It's the weapons that are evil not necessarily the people who misuse them. In the same way the anti-handgun fascists want to limit a law abiding citizen's right to self defense, so Kerry wants to limit America's right to self defense, by reducing our nuclear weapons stockpile and stopping further research.

I have a "new" strategy suggestion: "No terrorists. No terrorist-sponsoring states. No terrorism." This used to be known as the Bush Doctrine, but we haven't heard it in a while.

Robert Tracinski commented on Kerry's new strategies in TIA Daily:

In a new speech, Democratic candidate John Kerry sets forth his plan to deal with the threat of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. His answer, as usual, is to fire off a barrage of paper bullets, negotiating new "anti-proliferation" treaties and appointing new people, as a cover for doing nothing of real substance.

Posted by Forkum at 12:01 AM

June 02, 2004

Movie Disaster


Posted by Forkum at 12:01 AM

June 01, 2004



In Saudi Arabia, Islamic terrorists systematically hunted and executed Westerner oil workers for being "infidels" and "crusaders" in the Holy Kingdom. Saudi Arabia's leaders finally realized that their own Islamic fundamentalism had spawned a threat to themselves and their oil customers, and rushed to launch an effort to secularize the government and hunt down all Islamist terrorists and their supporters...

No, of course, they didn't: Saudis rush to assure the world that oil production is okay.

Saudi Arabia's leaders rushed to assure the world they were in full control, hours before global markets pass judgment on Tuesday on a suspected al Qaeda attack on their oil industry.

Many oil sector analysts said the militants' shooting and hostage-taking rampage at the weekend in the world's biggest oil exporter, in which 22 people were killed, could push fuel prices higher.[...]

Arab countries joined in the condemnation [of the attacks] and many will be at an OPEC meeting later this week at which Saudi Arabia is proposing production increases to help ease present high oil prices that threaten to stunt global economic growth. State-owned oil company Saudi Aramco has vowed to keep supplies flowing smoothly.

As for the "militants," it's reported that Saudi security forces 'allowed the killers to escape'. (Via LGF)

SAUDI authorities struck a deal with al Qaeda hostage-takers which led to three of them escaping, it was claimed yesterday. Checkpoints set up across Saudi Arabia also failed to trace three Islamic militants who went on the run following Saturday's attacks in the eastern oil city of al Khobar. The allegation of collusion involving Saudi Arabian security forces emerged amid fears that the latest terrorist outrage in the country may have a knock-on effect on the global economy by sparking further rises in oil prices.

Now there's some crack anti-terrorism tactics for you. Where's the cry of "No Blood for Oil" when you really need it?

UPDATE: From Victor Davis Hanson: Appeasing al-Qa'ida will only encourage militants (Via LGF)

Much of the West's problem in the Middle East has been the false dichotomy between authoritarian regimes and their Islamo-fascist critics, who sometimes work conjointly against the West, while on other occasions turning on each other.

The Saudi royals, like most autocracies in Jordan, Egypt and Syria, play a tired game well known in the West. To ameliorate increasing misery among the populace (unemployment in Saudi Arabia is more than 40 per cent while $US800billion [$1.1trillion] is held by the royal family outside the country), few Arab regimes embark on liberalisation, constitutional government, open markets, free speech, sexual equality or religious tolerance.

Instead, popular frustration in state-controlled media is carefully filtered and directed against the US and Israel -- as if those in New York or Tel Aviv can explain why Saudi jobs are scarce or Egyptian water undrinkable. Direct aid to Islamic "charities", funding of hate-spewing madrassas and subsidising firebrand clerics were the old Danegeld that Saudi elites meted out to turn bin Laden's fury against us. And such triangulation worked, if we remember that 15 Saudi suicide killers struck on September 11, 2001 -- and earned smug, though private, smiles among many in the kingdom.

But feeding monsters is dangerous.

Posted by Forkum at 12:56 AM