July 31, 2006

Nuri al-Maliki


From AFP: Iraq resolute in the face of terror, sectarian bloodshed: Maliki.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed to remain resolute in the face of violent sectarianism ripping apart his country, calling Iraq the "front line" in the war against terror.

The Iraqi leader cast the ongoing sectarian violence raging across his country as an internecine Islamic religious battle.

"This is a battle between two Islams -- for which a person's liberty and rights constitute essential cornerstones -- and terrorism, which wraps itself in a fake Islamic cloak," he told a joint session of the US Congress.

"Iraq is the front line in this struggle, and history will prove that the sacrifices of Iraqis for freedom will not be in vain," he said.

"We faced tyranny and oppression under the former regime, and we now face a different kind of terror. We did not bow then, and we will not bow now," he vowed.

Maliki has faced growing doubts among some lawmakers about his leadership.

The Iraqi leader came in for sustained congressional criticism Tuesday over his recent remarks regarding Israel's bombing raids in Lebanon. After Maliki condemned "Israel aggression" in Lebanon, lawmakers called for a "clarification" from the Iraqi leader before he speaks to Congress.

To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.

Posted by Forkum at 07:50 PM

July 30, 2006

Usual Suspects


From CNN: Suspect ticketed before Jewish center shootings.

Three of the shooting survivors were in serious condition, according to Harborview Medical Center; the other two victims were in satisfactory condition, including a woman who is five months pregnant. Police said she was shot in the arm while covering her abdomen. ...

According to [Police Chief Gil] Kerlikowske, Haq was upset over three world events: U.S. involvement in Iraq; the U.S. backing of Israel; and what Haq said was the mistreatment of the Pakistani people.

Haq found the Jewish center by researching "something Jewish" on the Internet, Kerlikowske said.

From a Seattle PI article:

"He said 'I am a Muslim American, angry at Israel,' before opening fire on everyone," [Marla] Meislin-Dietrich said. "He was randomly shooting at everyone."

From NRO in 2002: Sympathizer Terrorists; Terrorists don’t always carry membership cards. by Eleana Gordon. (via Michelle Malkin)

We should not be bound by our past perceptions and definitions. The perpetrator of an act that has all the hallmarks of terrorism — deliberately targeting civilians, intent to send a message, in support of a broader cause or ideology — is a terrorist, whether or not he, or she, is formally affiliated with a terrorist organization.

All this has important implications for how we fight terrorism. We need to pay close attention to how radical Islamic ideas, such as jihad against infidels, are promoted in our country. We should keep a watch on Islamic hate groups, just as we keep a watch on Christian white-supremacist hate groups. And we should be on the lookout for hate-driven, sympathizer terrorism, a phenomenon that is real, that is happening, and which must be recognized if we are to have any chance to defeat it.

Also see Little Green Footballs, Michelle Malkin and Jawa Report.

Posted by Forkum at 05:01 PM

July 27, 2006

Global Jihad


From CNN: Al Qaeda: War with Israel is 'jihad'.

Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader issued a worldwide call Thursday for Muslims to rise up in a holy war against Israel and join the fighting in Lebanon and Gaza until Islam reigns from "Spain to Iraq."

In a taped message broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, Ayman al-Zawahiri said the terrorist organization would not stand idly by while "these (Israeli) shells burn our brothers.

"All the world is a battlefield open in front of us," said the Egyptian-born al-Zawahiri, second-in-command to Osama bin Laden.

"The war with Israel does not depend on cease-fires ... . It is a Jihad for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq," al-Zawahiri said. "We will attack everywhere." Spain was controlled by Arab Muslims until they were driven from the country at the turn of the 16th century.

Al-Zawahiri declared that Arab regimes were complicit in Israeli fighting against Hezbollah and the Palestinians.

"My fellow Muslims, it is obvious that Arab and Islamic governments are not only impotent but also complicit...and you are alone on the battlefield. Rely on God and fight your enemies...make yourselves martyrs."

From AP: Iranian volunteers set off for Lebanon.

Surrounded by yellow Hezbollah flags, more than 60 Iranian volunteers set off Wednesday to join what they called a holy war against Israeli forces in Lebanon. ...

Iran says it will not send regular forces to aid Hezbollah, but apparently it will not attempt to stop volunteer guerrillas. Iran and Syria are Hezbollah's main sponsors. ...

"We are just the first wave of Islamic warriors from Iran," said Amir Jalilinejad, chairman of the Student Justice Movement, a nongovernment group that helped recruit the fighters. "More will come from here and other Muslim nations around the world. Hezbollah needs our help."

Military service is mandatory in Iran and nearly every man has at least some basic training. Some hard-liners have more extensive drills as members of the Basiji corps, a paramilitary network linked to the powerful Revolutionary Guard.

Other volunteers, such as 72-year-old Hasan Honavi, have combat experience from the 1980-88 war with Iraq.

"God made this decision for me," said Honavi, a grandfather and one of the oldest volunteers. "I still have fight left in me for a holy war."

The group, chanting and marching in military-style formation, assembled Wednesday in a part of Tehran's main cemetery that is reserved for war dead and other "martyrs."

They prayed on Persian carpets and linked hands, with their shoes and bags piled alongside. Few had any battle-type gear and some arrived in dress shoes or plastic sandals.

Some bowed before a memorial to Hezbollah-linked suicide bombers who carried out the 1983 blast at Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. servicemen. An almost simultaneous bombing killed 56 French peacekeepers. ...

"We cannot stand by and watch out Hezbollah brothers fight alone," said Komeil Baradaran, a 21-year-old Basiji member. "If we are to die in Lebanon, then we will go to heaven. It is our duty as Muslims to fight."

From the New York Sun: An Explicit Debt by Daniel Johnson.

A second key similarity between today's Islamists and past Arab nationalists relates less to ideology than to geopolitics. Both movements are more or less openly imperialist. As the historian Efraim Karsh convincingly shows in his new book "Islamic Imperialism," the pursuit of empire has been a constant theme since the time of Muhammad.

Both Islamists and Arab nationalists, however, deploy anti-imperialist rhetoric against Israel and the West. Ayatollah Khomeini notoriously denounced America as "the Great Satan" while attempting to annex his neighbor, Iraq. The purpose of Osama bin Laden's jihad on behalf of "oppressed Muslims" is to subject them to a universal Caliphate. Even as Nasser dreamt of what John Dulles called "an empire stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean," the Egyptian dictator posed as the champion of the "non-aligned" nations, struggling against European colonialism and superpower hegemony.

Posted by Forkum at 04:54 PM

July 26, 2006

High Stakes


This cartoon was originally posted in September 2004 and is in our book Black & White World II

From the Jerusalem Post: Seeing the war in its true colors by Caroline Glick. (hat tip Boaz Arad)

STRENGTHENING the view that opposition to war against Iran and its proxies is suicidal, it was reported Sunday that Bulgarian border guards along their border with Romania had intercepted a British truck filled with radioactive materials for building a so-called dirty bomb. The components, which included dangerous quantities of radioactive caesium 137 and americium-beryllium, were stored in 10 lead-lined boxes addressed to the Iranian Ministry of Defense.

According to the Daily Mail, this was the second time in less than a year that a British shipment of nuclear materials had been stopped by Bulgarian border guards. Last August, Bulgaria stopped a shipment of zirconium silicate, which can be used as a component of a nuclear warhead, at its border with Turkey en route to Iran. ...

[I]t is impossible not to recognize the Bush administration's centrality in the current [Israeli] campaign [in Lebanon]. Not only is the US rearming the IAF with bunker buster bombs, it is making certain that its own public and the international community recognize that what is at stake here is far greater than the well-being of Israel's citizens.

As President George W. Bush has made clear, this is not just Israel's war. This is a campaign of the Iranian-led axis of jihad that seeks to dominate the entire free world. ...

[I]t must be hoped that now that the US, Israel and other Western states are acknowledging the true nature of the war against Israel, they will abandon their suicidal demons and use this campaign as a stepping stone for neutralizing its chief instigator: The Islamic Republic of Iran.

Posted by Forkum at 09:12 PM

July 25, 2006

Cowardly Blending


The U.N. official quoted below has been spouting the typical moral equivalence about the Israel/Hezbollah war, but his specific criticism of Hezbollah is surprisingly frank and accurate. From FoxNews: U.N. Chief Accuses Hezbollah of 'Cowardly Blending' Among Refugees.

The U.N. humanitarian chief accused Hezbollah on Monday of "cowardly blending" among Lebanese civilians and causing the deaths of hundreds during two weeks of cross-border violence with Israel.

The militant group has built bunkers and tunnels near the Israeli border to shelter weapons and fighters, and its members easily blend in among civilians.

Jan Egeland spoke with reporters at the Larnaca airport in Cyprus late Monday after a visit to Lebanon on his mission to coordinate an international aid effort. On Sunday he had toured the rubble of Beirut's southern suburbs, a once-teeming Shiite district where Hezbollah had its headquarters.

During that visit he condemned the killing and wounding of civilians by both sides, and called Israel's offensive "disproportionate" and "a violation of international humanitarian law."

On Monday he had strong words for Hezbollah, which crossed into Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12, triggering fierce fighting from both sides.

"Consistently, from the Hezbollah heartland, my message was that Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending ... among women and children," he said. "I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this. I don't think anyone should be proud of having many more children and women dead than armed men."

UPDATE I -- July 26: From the editorial page of Investor's Business Daily: Hezbollah: Party Of Cowards.

Hezbollah is no different from the car bombers in Iraq, those who blew themselves up at weddings in Jordan, who bombed Bombay, Madrid and London, or who attacked us on 9-11. They just wreak their carnage at longer range.

Then again, they may be worse, for in addition to targeting civilians indiscriminately, they also use civilians, their homes and their neighborhoods to hide behind.

Civilians are casualties in every war, but arguably the Israelis are at least trying to hit military targets or the infrastructure that supports Hezbollah.

The problem is that Hezbollah has woven itself into the very fabric of Lebanon, masquerading as a political party much as the Nazis did in Germany. The terrorists have in fact converted an entire nation into a human shield.

UPDATE II -- July 27: From the Ottawa Citizen: Hezbollah was using UN post as 'shield'. (via I Blow Stuff Up For A Living)

The words of a Canadian United Nations observer written just days before he was killed in an Israeli bombing of a UN post in Lebanon are evidence Hezbollah was using the post as a "shield" to fire rockets into Israel, says a former UN commander in Bosnia.

Those words, written in an e-mail dated just nine days ago, offer a possible explanation as to why the post -- which according to UN officials was clearly marked and known to Israeli forces -- was hit by Israel on Tuesday night, said retired Maj.-Gen. Lewis MacKenzie yesterday.

The strike hit the UN observation post in the southern Lebanese village of El Khiam, killing Canadian Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener and three others serving as unarmed UN military observers in the area. ...

"What that means is, in plain English, 'We've got Hezbollah fighters running around in our positions, taking our positions here and then using us for shields and then engaging the (Israeli Defence Forces)," he said.

That would mean Hezbollah was purposely setting up near the UN post, he added. It's a tactic Maj.-Gen. MacKenzie, who was the first UN commander in Sarajevo during the Bosnia civil war, said he's seen in past international missions: Aside from UN posts, fighters would set up near hospitals, mosques and orphanages.

Posted by Forkum at 05:19 PM

July 24, 2006

Hassan Nasrallah


From YnetNews: Nasrallah: Rocket attacks will continue despite ground operation.

Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said in remarks published Monday that an Israeli ground invasion would not prevent Hizbullah from firing rockets into northern Israel.

"Any Israeli incursion will have no political results if it does not achieve its declared goals, primarily an end to the rocketing of Zionist settlements in northern occupied Palestine," Nasrallah told As-Safir newspaper. "I assure you that this goal will not be achieved, God willing, by an Israeli incursion," he said.

His remarks came after Hizbullah fired dozens of rockets at Israel on Sunday.

Responding to reports about diplomatic efforts to end the fighting, Nasrallah said the priority was to end Israeli attacks on Lebanon, but added he was open to discussing initiatives. ...

Nasrallah downplayed Hizbullah's loss of the strategic border village of Maroun al-Ras, saying Israeli media have hyped up the first major ground operation of the 13-day-old confrontation "as if it's the conquest of Stalingrad."

To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.

AUCTION REMINDER: The bidding ends Tuesday, July 24 at 3:00pm CST: Art Auction: "Holy Land".

Posted by Forkum at 08:56 PM

July 23, 2006

Signs of the Times


From the Arlington National Cemetery: The Bombing of the Marine Barracks, Beirut Lebanon.

On October 23, 1983 at 6:22 a.m., a large delivery truck drove to the Beirut International Airport where the Marine Barracks was located.

After turning onto an access road leading to the compound, the driver rushed through a barbed-wire fence, passed between two sentry posts, crashed through the gate, and slammed into the lobby of the barracks.

The driver detonated explosives with the power equal to more than 12,000 pounds of TNT. The explosion crumbled the four-story building, crushing service members to death while they were sleeping.

The terrorist attack killed 220 Marines and 21 other U.S. service members who were stationed there to help keep the peace in a nation torn by war.

It was the bloodiest day in the Corps' history since World War II, when Marines fought to secure Iwo Jima.

From CNN: Iran responsible for 1983 Marine barracks bombing, judge rules.

Iran is responsible for the 1983 suicide bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, that killed 241 American servicemen, a U.S. District Court judge ruled Friday [May 30, 2003].

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth said the suicide truck bombing was carried out by the group Hezbollah with the approval and funding of Iran's senior government officials.

From TimesOnline: God's army has plans to run the whole Middle East by Amir Taheri.

Terror has been its principal weapon. Throughout the 1980s Hezbollah kidnapped more than 200 foreign nationals in Lebanon, most of them Americans or western Europeans (including Terry Waite, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s envoy). It organised the hijacking of civilian aircraft and more or less pioneered the idea of suicide bombings against American and French targets, killing almost 1,000 people, including 241 US marines in Beirut and 58 French paratroopers.

Charles Johnson is doing a excellent job of rounding up photos and reports of anti-Israel demonstrations around the world. The fact that a pro-Hezbollah sentiment has been repeatedly witnessed is disgusting, especially in America. Below are links to his posts but be sure to click on the links within the posts for many more photos.

In America:
Mayhem at the Defend Hizballah Rally, Boston
Terror Supporters in New York City
Terror Supporters in Los Angeles
Terror Supporters in Chicago
Hizballah/Hamas supporters in San Francisco

Terror Supporters in Moscow
Terror Supporters in Montreal
Thousands of Terror Supporters in Sydney
London Muslims: "We Are All Hizballah"
Terror Supporters in Switzerland
Terror Supporters in Copenhagen
Thousands of Terror Supporters March in Berlin

UPDATE I -- July 24: Faith Freedom Intl. has posted pictures and video from a demonstration in Ottawa, Canada.

UPDATE II: Craig Eisenberg has a few more NYC pics.

UPDATE III -- July 26: More demonstration photos from Montréal.

UPDATE IV -- July 29: Pro-Hezbollah pics from Birmingham, England.

UPDATE V -- Aug. 4: Pro-Hezbollah pics from Brussels.

Posted by Forkum at 08:51 PM

July 20, 2006

Helter Shelter


After the Cedar Revolution, the Lebanese managed to eject Syria from their nest, but Hezbollah was allowed to stay, whether out of fear or sympathy or some combination of both. The Lebanese were supposed to disarm Hezbollah, but the "Party of God," supported by Iran's Islamic theocracy and Syria's regime, has become a lethally armed "state within a state." Hezbollah is not only responsible for terrorist attacks against Israelis; Americans have died at theirs hands too, most notably the 1983 Beirut attack in which 241 U.S. Marines were killed. There should be no doubt who is the enemy here.

As Lebanon is being used as a shield for Hezbollah, both politically and literally, some Lebanese have cried for help in the fight against Hezbollah's presence in their country.

But some Lebanese officials have been more conciliatory toward Hezbollah. Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora has expressed sympathy with Hezbollah claims against Israel. Lebanese President Emile Lahoud formally thanked Iran for its support during the Israeli attacks, knowing that Hezbollah is using missiles made in Iran. And though its been reported that the Lebanese army is too weak to take on Hezbollah, this report says the Lebanese army may join forces with the "Party of God" to take on Israel.

As criticism of Israel rises with the Lebanese deathtoll, it is paramount to remember: Hezbollah initiated this war by crossing Israel's border from Lebanon to kill eight Israeli soldiers and kidnap two. Hezbollah then returned to take refuge in Lebanon where the terrorist group enjoys a safe haven behind Lebanese human shields. The civilian casualties in Lebanon will continue to rise so long as Lebanon continues to harbor Hezbollah. Every single Lebanese victim should be laid at the feet of Hezbollah and any Lebanese who have supported Hezbollah's home in Lebanon.

UPDATE I -- July 21: At Level Ground notes the good news of those rallying behind Israel.

UPDATE II: From the Ayn Rand Institute: The Indispensable Condition of Peace by Onkar Gate.

To achieve peace in the Middle East, as in any region, there is a necessary principle that every party must learn: the initiation of force is evil. And the indispensable means of teaching it is to ensure that the initiating side is defeated and punished. Decisive retaliatory force must be wielded against the aggressor. So long as one side has reason to think it will benefit from initiating force against its neighbors, war must result. Yet this is precisely what America's immoral foreign policy gives the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Hezbollah reason to think.

Israel is a free country, which recognizes the rights of its citizens, whatever their race or religion, and which prospers through business and trade. It has no use for war and no interest in conquest. But for years, Arafat and the Palestinian authorities, with the aid of Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and other states, sought not to learn the conditions of freedom, but to annihilate the only free nation in their midst: Israel. Did the United States demand that the Palestinian leadership be destroyed?

No. Clinton invited Arafat to dine at the White House and Bush declared that peace requires Israel to give in to its aggressor's insistence on a state.

UPDATE III: Rich Chandler comments on some CNN coverage: Poor Hezbollah!.

UPDATE IV: Regime Change Iran has an article on the Lebanese perspective: The Lebanese really blame Hezbollah by Michael Young.

The Lebanese people have watched as Hezbollah has built up a heavily armed state-within-a-state that has now carried the country into a devastating conflict it cannot win and many are fed up. Sunni Muslims, Christians and the Druze have no desire to pay for the martial vanity of the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah. Nor will they take kindly to his transforming the devastation into a political victory.

Some even welcome Israel’s intervention. As one Lebanese politician said to me in private (but would never dare say in public) Israel must not stop now. It sounds cynical, he said, but ‘for things to get better in Lebanon, Nasrallah must be weakened further’.

Even some Shiites are beginning to have doubts about Nasrallah. If interviewed on television they will praise Hezbollah, but when the cameras are off, there are those who will suddenly become more critical. Many have had to flee, leaving behind their homes and possessions with no hope of recovering anything of any worth.

UPDATE V -- July 23: Via Little Green Footballs:
BBC Admits Many Lebanese Casualties are Terrorists
Hizbullah's Filthy Methods

Posted by Forkum at 04:56 PM

July 19, 2006

Art Auction: "Holy Land"


View larger image

When we started our weekly art auctions in May, we said there would be at least six. We postponed the final auction because of the July 4th holiday, so this auction is it (for the time being).

"Holy Land" is in our book Black & White World II and was created in February 2003 before we even launched this Web site. Eventually we posted the cartoon under the title "Road Map Sign". Unfortunately the topic of war and terror in the Middle East is not one that has faded in relevance.

The 9" x 6.5" ink illustration is on a 11" x 7" acid-free bristol board (the black border is not part of the illustration). John and I have signed the front in pencil. The original art does not have the gray shading on the sign (added with a computer) as on the final cartoon.

The starting bid is $250. Bidding takes place in the comment section below in increments of at least $10. Buyer pays shipping in addition to the winning bid amount, and the shipping method is buyer's choice (e.g, Priority Mail, FedEx overnight, etc.). Payment can be made via PayPal or directly to us.

Auction ends Tuesday, July 25, at 3:00pm CST.

UDPATE -- July 25: Bidding for this cartoon is closed. Our congratulations and thanks to Nick for his bid.

As I said at the beginning of this post, this will be our last auction until sometime later this year. Again, thanks to everyone who bid and to those who purchase our original artwork.

Posted by Forkum at 08:16 PM | Comments (1)

July 18, 2006

Asymmetrical Warfare


From The Wall Street Journal: Osama in Genevaland. (via TIA Daily)

The Geneva Conventions of 1949 govern the treatment of lawful combatants and civilians during wartime. But now a new Pentagon memorandum concludes that Common Article 3 of the Conventions also governs the treatment of unlawful combatants: pirates, drug mafias and especially terrorists. So, five years after 9/11, the U.S. is about to give to people who ram commercial jets into buildings many of the same legal privileges and immunities as the average GI.

How did we get to this Osama in Genevaland world? Credit belongs to last week's Hamdan Supreme Court decision, and to Pentagon officials who have overinterpreted the meaning of that decision. Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England signed the memo, and our sources tell us it was issued without any wide deliberation with, or even particular awareness by, the White House Counsel's office or the Justice Department. (A White House spokesman didn't respond to our query.)

Mr. England's memo overturns a 2002 Justice Department memo that ruled explicitly that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to members of al Qaeda or the Taliban, a policy change the White House confirmed late on Tuesday. For an Administration that has fought so hard, and in our view rightly, to protect its executive powers, this is being heralded as an embarrassing reversal. It also has the smell of a bureaucratic fiasco, since we can't recall another situation in which Presidential power was so freely handed away. ...

By identifying terrorists as illegal combatants and treating them accordingly, the Administration was attempting to remedy the defects of the pre-September 11 legal architecture for handling terrorists. The pre-9/11 view divided the world between combatants and noncombatants, and viewed terrorism as just another crime to be dealt with through the existing criminal-justice system.

We have learned the hard way that that approach doesn't work. The criminal-justice system takes too long and is complicated by the government's need to keep military secrets. Moreover, according such rights to terrorists who murder women and children gives them moral legitimacy that will make winning this war that much harder. It elevates terrorists nearly to the level of GIs who obey formal rules of engagement and who can be, and as we've seen often are, punished severely for harming innocents.

Posted by Forkum at 05:05 PM

July 16, 2006

Disproportionate Response


The criticism that Israel is using a "disproportionate response" to the kidnappings of its soldiers is an attempt to morally disarm Israel and make Israel out to be a bully. This notion is ludicrous when considered in the full context: Hezbollah and Hamas initiated the current crisis in an ongoing war against Israel's right to exist. Notice that no one cried "disproportionate response" when Hamas demanded 1,200 prisoners in exchange for one Israeli hostage. Hamas and Hezbollah aren't playing a game of proportions, why should Israel?

Israel, an outpost of freedom in the Middle East, has every right to use whatever means necessary for her long-term interests to defeat those who are warring against her. All the "disproportionate response" critics are accomplishing is to empower Israel's enemies to wage more war, harm more Israeli citizens and escalate the violence. They are kicking Israel when she is down, when she needs our support the most.

Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute is spot-on: World Leaders Encourage Hezbollah and Hamas.

"The worldwide condemnation of Israel's retaliation against Lebanon is morally obscene," said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. "The calls effectively demand that the innocent victim be sacrificed to the aggressor."

"Instead of excoriating Hezbollah and helping Israel to annihilate it, President Bush and other leaders urged that the victim, Israel, not cause 'excessive' damage to the aggressor--and begged that no harm come to Lebanon's terrorist-supporting government. Were Israel to follow such calls, it would have to leave in place the terrorist leadership and infrastructure that works to abduct, blow up and slaughter Israelis.

"The obscene premise governing so many of the West's leaders is the belief that we have no moral right to defend ourselves against the forces of Islamist barbarism.

"All of this can serve only to encourage Islamic totalitarian groups to intensify their war on Israel--and the West."

From The Jerusalem Post: Chirac: Israel has gone too far.

French President Jacques Chirac castigated Israel for its military offensive in Lebanon on Friday, calling it "totally disproportionate," while he and other European leaders expressed fears of a widening Middle East conflict that could spiral out of control.

Referring to Israel's attacks Friday on Lebanon's international airport and other transport links, the latest in a three-day offensive, Chirac asked aloud whether Lebanon's destruction was not the ultimate goal.

"One could ask if today there is not a sort of will to destroy Lebanon, its equipment, its roads, its communication," Chirac said during an interview in the garden of the presidential Elysee Palace to mark Bastille Day, the French national holiday.

From Russia to Spain, leaders voiced concern at the escalation of the conflict, with Lebanon now drawn into the spiral of violence that has long been the mark of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin called on all sides to stand down.

"All the sides that are involved in the conflict must immediately cease military action," he said before a G-8 summit this weekend in St. Peterburg. ...

In Spain, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero warned Israel that it was "making a mistake" to attack Lebanon and said that both the EU and the United Nations must secure "an immediate cessation of the hostilities."

"One thing is defense, which is legitimate, and another is a counteroffensive of widespread attack," Zapatero told Punto Radio. "It won't bring anything other than an escalation of violence."

The Vatican, the seat of the Roman Catholic church, echoed that remark - and the fear of a widening conflict.

"In fact, the right to defense on the part of a country does not exempt it from respecting norms of international law above all for that which concerns the safety of the civilian population," said a statement by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's No. 2 official.

Pope Benedict XVI was following the situation, the statement said, warning that it risks "degenerating into a conflict with international repercussions."

From FoxNews: G8 Leaders Agree on Statement About Mideast Fighting.

Leaders of the world's wealthiest nations agreed Sunday that three Israeli soldiers kidnapped by terror groups must be returned as a first order of business, and that all sides must put down their arms to resolve a conflict that is tearing up both Lebanon and Israel's northern region.

Members of the Group of Eight, the world's industrialized nations and Russia, issued a consensus statement that they say sends a "strong message" on the Mideast crisis.

UPDATE I: Bush is still ridiculously urging "restraint" from Israel, but at least we're sending them jet fuel for their warplanes.

UPDATE II -- July 17: Some critics of our inclusion of the Pope in this cartoon are trying to distance the Pope from the comments of Cardinal Sodano. But this news report quotes the Pope as follows:

"In recent days the news from the Holy Land is a reason for new and grave concern for all, in particular because of the spread of warlike actions also in Lebanon, and because of the numerous victims among the civilian population." ...

"But neither terrorist acts nor reprisals, especially when they entail tragic consequences for the civilian population, can be justified," he said. "By such paths, as bitter experience shows, positive results are not achieved."

UPDATE III: A very relevant observation at Tigerhawk that I think also applies Israeli strikes in Lebanon. (via Alan Fang)

There has been some complaint about Israel's reactions in Gaza as "asymmetrical." Those complaints are, frankly, silly. Military actions in war are meant to be asymmetrical and lead to victory. They are not meant to be measured to achieve a stalemate.

UPDATE IV: Via LGF, at Tale of Two Demonstrations:
From Atlas Shrugged: Stand With Israel Rally in New York City Overwhelming
From Reuters: Marchers chant "death to Israel" at Berlin landmark

UPDATE V -- July 21: More from Pope Benedict XVI: Pope makes new appeal for peace in Middle East.

"In reality, the Lebanese have the right to see the integrity and sovereignty of their country respected, the Israelis the right to live in peace in their State, and the Palestinians have the right to have their own free and sovereign homeland," a message from Pope Benedict read, as released by the Vatican Information Services on Thursday.

The Lebanese surrendered their sovereignty when they continued allowing a terrorist state to exist within their borders. Palestinians leadership has never demonstrated that they would create anything but a terrorist state, and they have no right to that.

UPDATE VI -- July 26: From LA Daily News: Vatican heaping blame on Israel counterproductive. (hat tip Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi)

It is incumbent upon the pope to advocate a peaceful solution, but realism tells us that Islamic militants - feeling that their acts of terror are God's bidding - will not sit down at the negotiation table and broker an agreement with the infidels. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah does not lead his followers in chants of "Peace treaty now!" but in a chorus of "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!"

Posted by Forkum at 07:19 PM

July 15, 2006

Rock'em Sock'em


From AP: Israel: Iran aided Hezbollah ship attack. (via Little Green Footballs)

Elite Iranian troops helped Hezbollah fire a sophisticated radar-guided missile at an Israeli warship, Israeli officials said Saturday, describing an apparent surprise blow by militants who had been using only low-tech weapons.

Iran denied that it had any troops in Lebanon.

Israel initially believed that an aerial drone armed with explosives hit the warship, but it became clear that Hezbollah had used an Iranian-made C-802 missile to strike the vessel late Friday, an Israeli intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information. ...

One Israeli sailor was killed and three were missing after the attack. The ship was returning to its home port in Israel, the army said.

About 100 fighters from Iran's Revolutionary Guard helped import, equip and fire the missile at the Spear, a missile ship cruising off the coast of Lebanon, which is under an Israeli naval blockade, Israeli officials said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad condemned Israel's military offensive in Lebanon, saying "the Zionist regime behaves like Hitler," Iranian state television reported.

Hezbollah is widely believed to have been trained, funded and guided by the Revolutionary Guard since the militant group was founded during Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. The Islamic republic's elite corps of more than 200,000 fighters is independent of the regular armed forces and directly controlled by Iran's supreme leader.

"We can confirm that it (the ship) was hit by an Iranian-made missile launched by Hezbollah. We see this as a very profound fingerprint of Iranian involvement in Hezbollah," Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan told The Associated Press.

Robert Tracinski has an excellent editorial at Real Clear Politics about Iran's war: The War Comes to Us.

If, in the face of repeated threats and provocation by an aggressive dictatorship, you refuse to go to war, the war will eventually come to you.

That's the meaning of Iran's de facto declaration of war against Israel--which is, ultimately, a new war Iran is waging against the US. Iran is so desperate for war with the West that it is bringing the war to us, openly and willfully initiating a regional conflict that may soon involve three of Iran's proxies--Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria--fighting against America's proxy, Israel.

The danger for us is that, in seeking to avoid an unavoidable war with Iran, we have allowed Iran to start the conflict on terms that it believes will be most favorable to it. ...

In my view, the issue is not why Iran chose to begin a shooting war now; the issue is where it chose to do so. Iran is striking at the point where it thinks it is strongest and the West is weakest.

This is an Iranian strong point because it controls a whole network of proxy forces that can attack Israel on two fronts. As for the weakness of the West, the craven Europeans, crushed by leftist self-loathing over their "colonialist" past, seek to apologize for their sins by offering a scapegoat for sacrifice: the Jews who fled Europe to establish the one outpost of Western civilization in the Middle East. As for America, Israel is the one area where we have consistently suspended every virtue of American war policy.

Worse, the Palestinian Authority is the one area where we have tolerated the creation of a new Islamist terrorist regime, on the grounds that it is "democratically elected." As I explained in "The Weapon of Democracy," in TIA's last print issue, this is how the US has been disarmed by the dangerously vague concept of "democracy": if we claim that we are fighting for liberty, and then we equate liberty with "democracy"--then how can we condemn a "democratically elected" terrorist regime?

Thus, predictably, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon split the West, with the European Union taking its usual anti-Israel stance, even as the US vetoed a proposed Security Council resolution condemning Israel.

The Iranian provocation of Israel is also calculated to roll back one of the recent achievements of US foreign policy: the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. After Syrian troops were forced to withdraw from Lebanon last year, the advocates of Lebanese independence began calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah, the Shiite militia in Southern Lebanon that has long served as a Syrian ally and proxy. But, using the "weapon of democracy," Hezbollah has long had a large representation in Lebanon's parliament.

And for those not familiar with the game depicted in the cartoon, here's more about Rock'em Sock'em Robots.

UPDATE I -- July 16: For the latest on the war, be sure to visit IsraellyCool and At Level Ground.

UPDATE II: Bush is still ridiculously urging "restraint" from Israel, but at least we're sending them jet fuel for their warplanes.

UPDATE III -- July 17: From The Telegraph: Israel fights West's cause against radical Islam.

The last thing Washington needs is for Syria and Iran to win a proxy victory in Lebanon.

Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese Druze leader who had been a strong foe of Israel during the civil war but then became a powerful critic of Syria, summed up the situation as follows: "The war is no longer Lebanon's … it is an Iranian war. Iran is telling the United States: You want to fight me in the Gulf and destroy my nuclear programme? I will hit you at home, in Israel."

UPDATE IV -- July 18: In a recent interview with Bill O'Reilly (see it at Hot Air), Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador to the U.N., expressed the sentiment that we tried to capture in this cartoon:

"Iran is no longer just a threat to Israel, just as terror is no longer a threat just to Israel. A few years ago, terror was an Israeli affair, a local affair, Iran was a local threat. Today both terror and Iran are global threats. Therefore we feel that it's the international community that should deal with Iran not just Israel. ...

"I feel even today, as we do what we're doing in Lebanon, that much of the world feels and thinks that we're doing the right thing, and in a way that we're doing its work for them. Because this is no longer just a war against terror; this is a war against extremist, fundamentalist, dangerous Islam."

UPDATE V -- July 21: From FrontPageMagazine: Iran's Proxy War Against America by Kenneth R. Timmerman.

The Iranians created Hezbollah in 1983. Unlike many parents, they never let their “child” alone, and have carefully nurtured it with funds, weapons, ideological guidance and military orders ever since.

When Hezbollah damaged an Israeli gunboat off the Lebanese coast last week, Iranian officers supervised the launch of the Iranian-built C-102 radar-guided missile.

Posted by Forkum at 08:10 PM

July 13, 2006

Exchange Rate


We're hoping that Israel continues to vigorously defend herself and refuse negotiations with Hezbollah and Hamas for the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. In our cartoon "Non-negotiable" we celebrated such an aggressive response. But it should be remembered that the terrorists' tactics have worked for them in the past. A FoxNews article yesterday noted this fact in passing:

Israel has carried out several prisoner swaps with Hezbollah in the past to obtain freedom for captures Israelis. These include a January 2004 swap in which an Israeli civilian and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers were exchanged for 436 Arab prisoners and the bodies of 59 Lebanese fighters. In 1985, three Israeli soldiers captured in Lebanon in 1982 were traded for 1,150 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.

The Jewish Virtual Library has more on the issue: Israel-Hizbollah Prisoner Exchange (2004):

In exchange for the bodies of three Israeli soldiers, missing since October 2000, and one Israeli businessman, abducted in October 2000 under questionable circumstances, Israel released more than 430 Arab prisoners on January 29, 2004. Those released by Israel included 400 Palestinian prisoners who were released to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Another 29 prisoners from Arab nations, and a German-citizen who worked with Hizbollah, were flown to Germany and then most went to Lebanon. In addition, the bodies of approximately 60 Lebanese terrorists were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross at the Israel-Lebanon border near Rosh Hanikra.

The prisoner exchange was the latest example of Israel's determination to bring its soldiers home, dead or alive. In 1985, Israel freed 1,150 prisoners in exchange for three Israeli soldiers kidnapped in Lebanon by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)-General Command. Many of the Arabs who were freed became leaders in the first Palestinian intifada. ...

In the wake of the morning rush hour bus bombing in Jerusalem's upscale Rehavia neighborhood, some last minute voices were heard urging the government to stop the prisoner swap. MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) told Maariv, "Yesterday this murderous organization promised us a 'surprise,' so we must stop the release of 400 terrorists before we discover that they've put us in a death trap." According to Dr. Shmuel Bar, a senior research fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, the message this swap sends to the Palestinians is that "the only way in which anyone can succeed in freeing prisoners is Hezbollah's way of abducting Israeli soldiers and citizens … We're going to be sorry for this."

The Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center has more information on Hezbollah's ongoing war against Israel.

UPDATE -- July 25: Hezbollah has reacted as we depicted in the cartoon. From AP: Hezbollah: Israeli onslaught a surprise.

A senior Hezbollah official said Tuesday the guerrillas did not expect Israel to react with an all-out offensive after the capture of two soldiers, the first acknowledgment by the group that it had miscalculated the consequences of the raid two weeks ago.

Mahmoud Komati, deputy chief of the Hezbollah's political arm, also told The Associated Press in an interview that the Shiite militant group will not lay down arms.

"The truth is — let me say this clearly — we didn't even expect (this) response ... that (Israel) would exploit this operation for this big war against us," said Komati.

He said Hezbollah had expected "the usual, limited response" from Israel after the two soldiers were seized by guerrillas on Israel's side of the border on July 12.

In the past, he said, Israeli responses to Hezbollah actions included sending commandos into Lebanon, seizing Hezbollah officials and briefly targeting specific strongholds in southern Lebanon.

Komati said his group had anticipated negotiations to swap the Israeli soldiers for three Lebanese held in Israeli jails, with Germany acting as a mediator as it has in past prisoner exchanges.

Posted by Forkum at 05:03 PM

July 12, 2006

Black Wedding


This cartoon was originally posted in February 2005.

From FoxNews: U.S. Blames Syria, Iran For Israeli Soldiers' Kidnapping

Syria and Iran are to blame for the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah terrorists and the subsequent Israeli military response, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The White House called for the immediate and unconditional release of the two soldiers abducted by Hezbollah guerrillas on Wednesday. Seven Israeli soldiers have also been killed in a cross-border attack that Israel has called an act of war by Lebanon. (Full Story)

"The United States condemns in the strongest terms this unprovoked act of terrorism, which was timed to exacerbate already high tensions in the region and sow further violence. We also hold Syria and Iran, which have provided long-standing support for Hezbollah, responsible for today's violence. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of the Israeli soldiers," reads a statement released by the White House press secretary.

"Hezbollah's actions are not in the interest of the Lebanese people, whose welfare should not be held hostage to the interests of the Syrian and Iranian regimes. We reiterate the international community's insistence that all parties in the region fulfill their obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1680, and cease all support for Hezbollah," the statement continues.

Posted by Forkum at 05:57 PM

July 11, 2006

Stars and Barred


From The Wall Street Journal: Conservatives and Immigration: The debate on the right about freedom, culture and the welfare state. (via TIA Daily)

No issue more deeply divides American conservatives today than immigration. It's the subject on which we get the most critical mail by far, no doubt reflecting this split on the right. So with Congress holding hearings on the issue around the country, perhaps it's a good moment to step back and explain the roots of our own, longstanding position favoring open immigration. ...

The most frequent criticism we hear is that a newspaper called "The Wall Street Journal" simply wants "cheap labor" for business. This is an odd charge coming from conservatives who profess to believe in the free market, since it echoes the AFL-CIO and liberals who'd just as soon have government dictate wages.

Our own view is that a philosophy of "free markets and free people" includes flexible labor markets. At a fundamental level, this is a matter of freedom and human dignity. These migrants are freely contracting for their labor, which is a basic human right. Far from selling their labor "cheap," they are traveling to the U.S. to sell it more dearly and improve their lives. Like millions of Americans before them, they and certainly their children climb the economic ladder as their skills and education increase.

We realize that critics are not inventing the manifold problems that can arise from illegal immigration: Trespassing, violent crime, overcrowded hospital emergency rooms, document counterfeiting, human smuggling, corpses in the Arizona desert, and a sense that the government has lost control of the border. But all of these result, ultimately, from too many immigrants chasing too few U.S. visas.

Those migrating here to make a better life for themselves and their families would much prefer to come legally. Give them more legal ways to enter the country, and we are likely to reduce illegal immigration far more effectively than any physical barrier along the Rio Grande ever could. This is not about rewarding bad behavior. It's about bringing immigration policy in line with economic and human reality. And the reality is that the U.S. has a growing demand for workers, while Mexico has both a large supply of such workers and too few jobs at home. ...

When border patrol agents don't have to chase down people coming here to work, they can concentrate on genuine threats, like gang members and terrorists. The real choice is between throwing more resources at an enforcement-only policy that has failed, or a larger reform that's had some past success in reducing illegal border crossings and meeting the demands of our economy and of human dignity.

As I've said here in the past, I advocate open immigration (not "open borders" as some leftists do). So I'm glad to see that The Wall Street Journal continues to strongly argue for open immigration. The editorial notes that immigration is a divisive issue for the right but also asserts that the "conservative silent majority is pro-immigration." In contrast, John Hawkins at Right Wing News recently conducted a poll of right-leaning blogs, and the results by a large majority favored a more restrictive approach to immigration.

So for what it's worth, as an addition to the cartoon, here are some of my brief observations on the issue.

Are there things we can all agree on? Certainly border security should be a priority, especially after 9/11, right? And we should respect "rule of law" and not encourage illegal behavior, right?

Yes, all true ... generally speaking. But the specifics of the immigration issue are crucial. Unfortunately, much of the opposition to "illegal immigration" seems to evade the full context, namely that the right to immigrate is restricted by government quotas and that that artificial restriction is the primary cause of the problems related to illegal immigration. Worse still, judging by complaints I've read about the prospect of raising the limit on immigrants allowed into America, some people are simply using the phrase "illegal immigration" as a euphemism for "too many immigrants."

Notice that we don't commonly talk about, say, "illegal homeowners" or "illegal students." Why? It's not because homeowners and students are fanatics for rule of law. It's because there are no government quotas limiting the number of home buyers and education seekers. If there were, if only a small number of houses were permitted to be built every year, if only a small number of people were allowed to attend school, then we'd be hearing about "illegals" who forge construction documents and smuggle students in station wagon dashboards.

I also find suspicious the frequent invocation of "rule of law" by some opponents of illegal immigration. It's as if they think "rule of law" means to always obey the law no matter how unjust. From that perspective, blacks escaping Southern slavery and Jews fleeing Nazi Germany were all violators of the "rule of law."

But "rule of law" was a phrase originally used to distinguish between the rule of men, such as the whim of a king or corrupt ruler, and the rule of law, where the government itself along with the citizens are governed by a clearly defined and fairly enforced set of rules that apply equally to all. Invoking the "rule of law" against immigrants coming here simply to work and better their lot is unjust and wrong.

Likewise, sneers at the word "amnesty" are telling, for shouldn't any derision depend on whether or not the law from which one receives amnesty is just or not?

For some there is clearly an ugly anti-immigrant sentiment driving their opposition to "illegal immigration." But I suspect many people are primarily concerned with America security in a post-9/11 world. My hope is that the anti-immigrationists are truly the minority.

UPDATE:: From FoxNews last week: Immigration the Hot Campaign Issue Across America.

Posted by Forkum at 05:38 PM

July 10, 2006

Stephen Harper


From Reuters: Harper did well in Bush meetings: observers.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made little progress in getting President Bush to change anti-terror policies that could hurt Canada but he did succeed in keeping the media spotlight off a trip to visit a U.S. leader who is disliked in Canada.

In his first visit to Washington since the right-wing Conservatives won power in February, Harper sought to improve relations which had become badly strained under the previous Liberal government.

When the two leaders met on Thursday Harper complained publicly about a planned U.S. border crackdown which Canada fears could hurt bilateral trade.

Bush was noticeably warm with his guest, sympathizing with him on the border issue without making any promises and also praising Ottawa's record in the fight against terror.

The White House press release/transcript: Remarks by President Bush and Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada in Press Availability.

To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.

Posted by Forkum at 09:43 PM

July 09, 2006

Palestinian Body Armor


In a FoxNews report about Israel's attempt to rescue a kidnapped soldier and prevent rocket attacks, civilian casualties among Palestinians are used as propaganda against Israel:

The Palestinian casualties, while mostly gunmen, include civilians. On Saturday a woman and her two children were killed in a blast at their house and four other family members were wounded.

Israeli military officials said they weren't responsible. They said the only military activity in the area was a successful airstrike on a cell firing anti-tank missiles.

In Gaza City, hundreds of people joined a funeral procession for the family. The body of 6-year-old Rawan Hajaj was carried on a bloodstained stretcher, her face exposed and body covered in a flag of the Islamic Jihad militant group. In a show of unity, gunmen from rival Palestinian factions fired into the air.

Late Saturday, the United Nations accused Israel of widespread human rights violations and hardship to civilians. It said the operations "have seen innocent civilians, including children, killed, brought increased misery to hundreds of thousands of people and ... will wreak far-reaching harm on Palestinian society."

Israeli officials rejected the criticism.

"Anybody who calls this operation disproportionate has no clue about the facts on the ground. We have been attacked and bombarded for months and weeks," Cabinet minister Yitzhak Herzog said Sunday. "With all due respect to all those who criticize us, if anything of this nature would have happened in their homeland, they would have acted much worse."

Totally ignored by the U.N. and the article is how Palestinian terrorists use fellow Palestinians as human shields and how Palestinian culture teaches children to put themselves in harms way.

This Reuters report provides some light:

A dozen small boys, not yet teenagers, were among relatives gathered at a funeral in Gaza on Friday for a young man killed in clashes between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops.

Asked if they would learn from the death of 19-year-old Mohammed Maher Shahine, killed while watching Thursday's fighting as Israel stepped up an offensive in the strip, the boys answered almost with one voice.

"No. We want to be martyrs too," they said, seemingly oblivious to the danger of following around bands of gunmen as they battle more powerful Israeli troops, who are backed by tanks and helicopters.

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs keeps track of such sentiment. This week he posted recent photos of Palestinian boys acting as human shields for terrorists. Johnson also maintains a slideshow called Palestinian Child Abuse that catalogs photos of children being militarized and prepared for "martyrdom" by their families and culture.

What leads parents to sacrifice their children? What leads Palestinian boys to say "we want to be martyrs too"? Robert Tracinski recently wrote an excellent examination of The Suicide Bomb Morality -- and it's not just Palestinians who hold selflessness in high regard.

[T]he worship of suffering is the world's disease, a very old affliction that has evaded our cultural immune system by disguising itself as a morality. That morality is accepted as uncontroversial in today's world, and you hear it, and probably nod in agreement, whenever someone tells you that self-sacrifice is the essence of moral virtue. ...

The Palestinians show us a society based on sacrifice in its purest, most fanatical form. It is a society built around a single moral model: the suicide bomber, who is lionized on billboards, on television, in popular songs. And this is not just the propaganda of the corrupt Palestinian rulers. One of the delegates elected to the Palestinian parliament in the populist upsurge for Hamas was Umm Nidal, the "mother of martyrs," who has sent three of her sons to kill themselves in terrorist attacks on Israel, proclaiming that their "sacrifice...makes me happy."

For the great mass of Palestinians this worship of sacrifice is sincere. By rejecting every chance at peace and coexistence with Israel--breaking every truce and turning down every peace offer--they have lost everything and gained nothing. Taking the suicide bomber as their moral model, the Palestinians seek to emulate his fate: in their lust to destroy Israel, they are willing to accept the utter destruction and collapse of their own society.

Look to the other side of the security barrier and you see a very different society. While the Palestinians raise their children on visions of blood and murder, the Israelis are largely preoccupied by the business of producing, creating, making a living. Consider, for example, the vast Gaza greenhouses handed over from the departing Israelis to the Palestinians. In the hands of the society that "made the desert bloom," these greenhouses produced millions of dollars worth of produce. Under Palestinian control, they were looted and their products have literally been left to rot. As with the Cold War examples of East and West Berlin, Gaza and Israel offer side-by-side laboratories for opposing moralities.

The contrast to America--a nation founded on the right to "the pursuit of happiness"--is even more vivid. When Alexis de Tocqueville visited America in 1832, he reported that the moral doctrine of "self-interest properly understood"--not hedonism, but a version of rational, benevolent self-interest--was "universally accepted": "You hear it as much from the poor as from the rich."

The distinctive model for American culture is not the suicide bomber but the "self-made man": the entrepreneur who achieves prosperity by hard work and ingenuity. Implicitly, we recognize that the proper business of life is not sacrifice but achievement. This is the actual code by which most Americans live.

The tragedy is that we don't recognize it.

UPDATE -- July 10: From the Jerusalem Post: Palestinian suicide strategy by Barry Rubin. (via Robert Tracinski)

Every day Western governments, media and academics try to impose this model on Palestinian behavior, politics and ideology. Yet it just doesn't work. The things many in the West think motivates Palestinians - getting a state, ending the occupation - are of no interest in their own right. Indeed, the only way to maintain the pretense is a combination of amnesia and abandoning of the kind of rational analysis used to view any other political situation in the world.

I must add that in private (though virtually never in public) Palestinian intellectuals sound a lot like me. Over and over again, one hears disgust, despair and profound cynicism along the lines described below.

Given the current Palestinian ideology and strategy the conflict is unsolvable, and there is no way to stop the violence. On the other hand, as a result, Palestinian tactics are unworkable, politics are disorganized, and military strategy is self-defeating. The Palestinians can harass Israel, but not much more.

Posted by Forkum at 04:35 PM

July 06, 2006

Red, White and Desecrated


This The New York Times article has a lot of unnecessary editorializing (no surprise), but the facts speak for themselves: Lady Liberty Trades In Some Trappings. (via TIA Daily and Gus Van Horn)

On Independence Day, Lady Liberty was born again.

As the congregation of the World Overcomers Outreach Ministries Church looked on and its pastor, Apostle Alton R. Williams, presided, a brown shroud much like a burqa was pulled away to reveal a giant statue of the Lady, but with the Ten Commandments under one arm and "Jehovah" inscribed on her crown.

And in place of a torch, she held aloft a large gold cross, as if to ward off the pawnshops, the car dealerships and the discount furniture outlets at the busy corner of Kirby Parkway and Winchester that is her home. A single tear graced her cheek.

It was not clear if she was crying because of her new home, her new identity as a symbol of religion or, as the pastor said, America's increasing godlessness. But although big cheers went up from the few hundred onlookers at the unveiling, and some people even wore foam Lady Liberty crowns bearing Christian slogans, she was not universally welcomed.

Most of the customers at the Dixie Queen food counter near the church viewed the statue as a cheap attention grab, said Guardia Nelson, 27, who works there.

"It's a big issue," Ms. Nelson said. "Liberty's supposed to have a fire, not a cross." ...

The Statue of Liberation Through Christ, as she is called, stands 72 feet tall from the base of her pedestal to the tip of her cross. She was the idea of Mr. Williams, a very successful pastor whose church, World Overcomers, qualifies as mega: it has a school, a bowling alley, a roller rink, a bookstore and, he said, 12,000 members. ...

"I decree the spirit of conviction on this intersection," Mr. Williams boomed from a podium decorated with red, white and blue bunting. "This statue proves that Jesus Christ is Lord over America, he is Lord over Tennessee, he is Lord over Memphis."

A related aside: Last August, John and I worked on an illustration for a TIA cover story titled "Faith vs. Freedom." We created a pencil rough of an idea that has basically come to life in Memphis, albeit on a much smaller scale (see sketch here). Ultimately the idea was not used because it didn't quite match the focus of the article.

Posted by Forkum at 05:07 PM

July 05, 2006

Paper Bullet


From CNN: U.S.: World united against N. Korean missile threat.

Japan on Wednesday called for "swift, strong" U.N. action in response to North Korea's missile tests, while U.S. officials cited "unprecedented" international unity on the issue.

U.S. and Australian officials warned that more missiles may soon be launched.

United Nations Security Council members discussed a draft resolution proposed by Japan -- and backed by the United States and Britain -- that demands countries cut off any money or materials that could be used for North Korea's missile program, diplomats said.

The resolution, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, also would condemn the missile tests and demand that Pyongyang cease any missile activity and return to six-party talks on the issue, according to U.N. diplomats.

After the emergency Security Council meeting on Wednesday morning, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said, "No member defended what the North Koreans had done."

Japan's ambassador, Kenzo Oshima, said, "We hope the response from the council will be swift, strong and resolute."

Japan imposed travel and other restrictions on North Korea in the wake of the test-firings and while Oshima would not be drawn on whether broader U.N. sanctions would emerge, he called for any resolution to "have clear and strong condemnation of the missile launches".

Russia's ambassador, however, said his country didn't think sanctions were forthcoming.

"In the discussion today, I didn't hear the word 'sanctions' and I frankly do not expect that anybody would be proposing any sanctions," Vitali Churkin said. ...

The missile causing the most concern, the Taepodong-2, which some analysts say is capable of hitting the Western United States, was fired in the morning. It failed after about 40 seconds and landed in the sea about 200 miles (321 kilometers) west of Japan, U.S. officials said.

The short-range missiles also all landed in the Sea of Japan.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said countries around the world have expressed concern "about this provocation."

"Whatever [the North Koreans] thought they were doing, they have gotten a very strong reaction from the international community," Rice said.

UPDATE -- July 6: From FoxNews: Bush: U.S. Wants Diplomatic Solution for North Korea Standoff.

President Bush said Thursday that the United States is seeking a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff with North Korea, but cautioned that diplomacy will take time.

Bush said he was pleased that leaders of China, South Korea, Japan and Russia, in telephone calls during the past few days, agreed that the reclusive communist regime should not be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. ...

At the United Nations, there were differences over a Japanese-backed draft resolution to sanction North Korea. U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the measure had "broad and deep support," but Russia's deputy U.N. ambassador told The Associated Press that Moscow would not back sanctions, as the resolution calls for.

Instead, Russia wants the council to pass a nonbinding presidential statement with the goal of getting North Korea back into six-party talks on its nuclear program.

Posted by Forkum at 07:19 PM

July 04, 2006

Junichiro Koizumi


From AFP: Japanese media cool on Koizumi's rosy ties with Bush

Japan should seek a more mature relationship with the United States rather than one based on personal bonding, the country's media said after Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's trip to Washington.

Koizumi displayed his media savvy by crooning Elvis Presley hits during a visit to Graceland with US President George W. Bush, with whom he has forged a close friendship over his five years in office.

But the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper said Japan's diplomacy should not be so dependent on the prime minister's personal ties.

"It was disappointing that Koizumi failed to make full use of his friendly Japan-US relationship on the real international scene," the newspaper said, bemoaning "Japan's failure" to win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Tokyo failed to get a formal commitment of support from Washington for its bid to obtain a permanent seat on the Council, which was blocked by China.

The Mainichi said that failure had "exposed the limits of Koizumi's diplomacy, that depended on his personal relationship and lacked strategies".

One of Japan's leading dailies, Asahi Shimbun, praised Koizumi for tackling several thorny issues left over from previous administrations, including the controversial realignment of US troops stationed in Japan.

Posted by Forkum at 10:35 PM

July 02, 2006

Independence Day 2006


The National Archives has an excellent Web site for the Declaration of Independence, including a detailed history and high-resolution images of the actual document. From the introduction:

Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is at once the nation's most cherished symbol of liberty and Jefferson's most enduring monument. Here, in exalted and unforgettable phrases, Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people. The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new; its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers. What Jefferson did was to summarize this philosophy in "self-evident truths" and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country. We invite you to read a transcription of the complete text of the Declaration.

Posted by Forkum at 07:30 PM