Thursday, March 08, 2007

Matt 24 Watch, 14: Recent News Roundup, Mostly tied to the ME

A lot has been happening in the Middle East and elsewhere recently, and trying to keep up is like trying to drink from a firehose on full blast.

Unfortunately, the perspectives that we will pick up almost unconsciously from the major media easily accessible in the Caribbean tend to be biased to an uncritical acceptance of secularist progresssivism and its typical positions, so it is useful to pause every now and then to get some balancing thoughts. (Then we can form our own conclusions in light of having heard a bit on both sides of the story . . .)

So, here are some quick links, comments and excerpts, almost at random from my recent web clippings:

1] Barbados Free Press and the Veils issue:

Some weeks back, I had occasion to comment on this issue. BFP has done an interesting follow up on it. A telling excerpt:
After the London transit murder bombings in July of 2005, one of the surviving (male) Jihadists evaded police by dressing as a Muslim woman wearing a burka . . . .

In Florida, a court ruled that Muslim women who wish to drive must allow their face to be photographed and must reveal their face to any police officer just like any normal driver.

The Florida litigant, a Muslim woman named Sultana Freeman, had argued that removing her veil for a driver’s license photograph was against her religious freedom - but her comments on her blog showed wearing the veil in a different light . . . . [in her blog she commented] “Nobody said the path would be easy; wearing niqab alone can become jihad in an oppressive land.”‘

So, there is plainly more than one side to the veiling story.

2] More on the Discovery Channel film on the alleged tomb of Jesus

I particiapted in a still ongoing blog thread discussion on this, here. A thoughtful point that we should consider was made at no 54 by Mats:
[Darwinists] seek to undermine the Book which is overwhelmingly responsible for the existence of people skeptic of unguided evolutionism. . . . . [they] show once again that they don’t understand what are they up against. Even though many people can rightly list the Bible as the major reason as to why they reject unguided evolutionism, there’s also the scientific aspect of the all issue . . .
It will be interesting to see how the differeent opinions interact in a forum moderated for civility, so I encourage you to take a read. This one on the Egnor case and the stunning contrast between this thread and the onward linked one at Time Magazine are also illuminating, not only on the ID issue, but also on the issue of the breakdown of civility in public discourse in the West, and where it is largely coming from. (If you have been following some recent blog visits, you will be saddened but not surprised.)

3] On Moral equivalence arguments . . .

Some seem to see a moral equivalence in the Middle East and beyond as regards possessing WMD technologies and arsenals. Perhaps a read of this blog post may give pause, and some balance. Excerpting:
. . . the safe driver and the drunk driver are not morally equivalent. Simply put, sober drivers behave better, so we trust them with cars; convicted felons can't be trusted with guns. These allowances have been motivated by our morals.

The same is true of nations and nuclear weapons. Moral equivalency does not exist between Iran and Great Britain; nor between North Korea and the U.S. . . . . why do we perceive these nations (Pakistan and China) along with others (N. Korea, Iraq) as more likely to use WMDs? Why do we see them as a "greater threat"? Answer: Because of their demonstrated past [largely unrestrained tyrannical and oppressive] behavior . . .
Worth a pause and a thought or two -- including on the implications of the current push to delegitimise the Judaeo-Christian frame for morality in the West. Do we really want to go where that is likely to lead?.

4] Key Iranian Defection?

It seems fairly likely that a major Iranian leader, "Ali Reza Asgari, Iran’s former deputy defense minister," who reportedly "defected to the US after arriving in Istanbul from Damascus on February 7th," is causing waves of concern or possibly panic in Iran. For, as the linked notes:
Asgari is a man privy to numerous secrets which Iran desperately does not want revealed. As well as being a former deputy defence Minister, Asgari was also a General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC). The IRGC, more than any other branch of Iran’s armed forces, is aware of, and has access to Iran’s nuclear program. Its members are in charge of monitoring and protecting Iran’s nuclear installations, and scientists.

Furthermore, the IRGC is in charge of developing and testing Iran’s missiles, an arsenal which Iran has threatened to use if attacked. Last but not least, the IRGC is in charge of training and arming Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Iraqi Shiite militants in Iraq.

So, if the debriefings are declassified at least in part, we will soon begin to hear a little more on the inside story on Iran's push to nuclear power and associated missile technologies. At least, if we monitor the sort of news sources where such information is likely to be headlined . . .

5] Is this World War III or IV, or . . . ?

A former head of Mossad observes:

A third World War is already underway between Islamic militancy and the West but most people do not realize it, the former head of Israel’s intelligence service Mossad said in an interview published Saturday in Portugal.

‘We are in the midst of a third World War,’ former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy told weekly newspaper Expresso.

‘The world does not understand. [Ed: Why, since we have more media than ever before . . .?] A person walks through the streets of Tel Aviv, Barcelona or Buenos Aires and doesn’t get the sense that there is a war going on,’ said Halevy who headed Mossad between 1998 and 2003 . . . . Halevy, who was raised in war-time London, predicted it would take at least 25 years before the battle against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism is won and during this time a nuclear strike by Islamic militants was likely.

‘It doesn’t have to be something very sophisticated, It doesn’t have to be the latest nuclear technology, it can be something simple like a dirty bomb which instead of killing millions only kills tens of thousands,’ he said.

By my count, of course, if we note that the Cold War was global in scope and cost millions of lives, coming to the edge of nuclear confrontation once or twice [depending on how you vciew the events of the Yom Kippur War in 1973], this is actually WW IV, and it dates to the rise of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its global campaign.

Thus, it is fair comment to observe that the current world war is at the nuclear thereshold as we speak.

6] Homefront defeat looming for the US in the Iraq campaign?

The ongoing conflict in Iraq has turned into simply one campaign in one theatre of operations in the ongoing war to counter Islamist expansion. [Note the distinction from Islamic.]

So it is no surprise to have seen evidence of Iranian involvement and supplying of weapons and support there.

Similarly, given the tone of militant Mahdism and Islamist supremacism, there is no great surprise to see a deep antisemitic strain among the Islamists, especially in Iran. However, it is a bit disheartening in the aftermath of the plain evidence of the cases of Czechoslovakia inthe 1930's and that of South Vietnam in the 1960's - 70's, that the West again refuses to learn from history.

As Mark Steyn warns, with more than a hint of sarcasm:

The Middle East is . . . a tough nut to crack, but the myth of the unbeatable Islamist insurgent is merely a lazy and more neurotic update of the myth of the unbeatable communist guerrilla, which delusion led to so much pre-emptive surrender in the '70s. Nevertheless, in the capital city of the most powerful nation on the planet, the political class spent last week trying to craft a bipartisan defeat strategy, and they might yet pull it off. Consider this extraordinary report from the Washington Post:

"Democratic leaders have rallied around a strategy that would fully fund the president's $100 billion request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but would limit his ability to use the money. . . . The plan is aimed at tamping down calls from the Democrats' liberal wing for Congress to simply end funding for the war.

"The Murtha plan, based on existing military guidelines, includes a stipulation that Army troops who have already served in Iraq must be granted two years at home before an additional deployment. . . . The idea is to slowly choke off the war by stopping the deployment of troops from units that have been badly degraded by four years of combat."

So "the Murtha plan" is to deny the president the possibility of victory while making sure Democrats don't have to share the blame for the defeat. But of course he's a great American! He's a patriot! He supports the troops! He doesn't support them in the mission, but he'd like them to continue failing at it for a couple more years. As John Kerry wondered during Vietnam, how do you ask a soldier to be the last man to die for a mistake? By nominally "fully funding" a war you don't believe in but "limiting his ability to use the money." Or as the endearingly honest anti-war group put it, in an e-mail preview of an exclusive interview with the wise old Murtha:

"Chairman Murtha will describe his strategy for not only limiting the deployment of troops to Iraq but undermining other aspects of the president's foreign and national security policy."

Observe that key word: undermining. Plainly, the very predictable results of the US again abandoning allies in the face of adverse press -- battlefield success notwithstanding -- are not part of the equation here. No wonder, Mr Cheney observed acidly: " "If you're going to advocate a course of action that basically is withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, then you don't get to just do the fun part of that, that says, 'We'll, we're going to get out,' and appeal to your constituents on that basis."

7] Fun stuff vs harsh realities of war-policy decisions:

Mr Cheney's remark above met with the complaint that he was improperly challenging the patriotism of the Democratic Congressmen.

This was his further reply:
I'm not sure what part of it is that Nancy [Pelosi] disagreed with. She accused me of questioning her patriotism. I didn't question her patriotism. I questioned her judgment . . . .

You also have to be accountable for the results . . . What happens if we withdraw from Iraq?. . . And the point I made and I'll make it again is that al-Qaida functions on the basis that they think they can break our will. That's their fundamental underlying strategy, that if they can kill enough Americans or cause enough havoc, create enough chaos in Iraq, then we'll quit and go home. And my statement was that if we adopt the Pelosi policy, that then we will validate the strategy of al-Qaida. I said it and I meant it.

So, we all need to pause, and think about the implications of "popular" policy choices and opinions at this moment, in the deepest winter of our discontent.

And more . . .

We could go on and on, but the above should be enough for now. Are things as simple as they seem over inthe Middle East and elsewere? Could the consequences of events there affect us here in the Caribbean? is it just a matter of the wicked western imperialists at it again, and three cheeers for their getting a bloody nose? Or, is there more at stake?

Food for thought, for now. END

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