And that is all.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

If We Don't Call Them Names, the Terrorists Win

If We Don't Call Them Names, the Terrorists Win


After the terrorist near misses in London and Glasgow, British officials did the expected. They raised their nation's threat-assessment level. They weighed the balance between civil liberties and new, tougher security measures. They pondered the latest fold in the elaborate tapestry before them, the possibility of a privileged jihadist cell tucked into the country's National Health Service.

Finally, they produced the usual morally namby-pamby, logistics-heavy rhetoric about getting to the bottom of each case. They sounded deadly serious about investigating the attempts, deadly uninterested in morally judging what happened.

"We are on the trail," a senior Whitehall official immediately told The Sunday Times of London, and so, as subsequent arrests indicated, they were. London Mayor Ken Livingstone urged city residents to remain vigilant. Lord Carlile of Berriew, a top British terrorism official, upped the ante by admonishing Londoners to be "forever vigilant." New Prime Minister Gordon Brown declared, "We will not yield, we will not be intimidated, and we will not allow anyone to undermine our British way of life."

Brown obviously hadn't tried as mere citizen to connect internationally through Heathrow lately, a feat that requires the very un-British task of squeezing all carry-on items allowed elsewhere into one bag (really, one bag) or losing them to Heathrow security officers, who must be scoring quite a take on duty-free purchases.

A similar rhetorical fiasco took place after the conclusion of the 114-day kidnapping of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston. No government ministers denounced the successful Gaza kidnappers, who reportedly won release of some gunmen in the deal, as bastards, lowlife, cowards, scum. Official rhetoric after terrorist acts has become ethically neutral, merely strategic in tone and content.

You might think shrewd politicians would notice something wrong with this picture. After all, the last major national politician to insult those who violate civilized norms in expressing political anger — former French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who denounced Muslim rioters in France as "scum" for their car burnings and mayhem — won election as president of France despite predictions that he'd committed political suicide.

Yet the vast majority of statesmen believe in purely operational talk after terrorist acts. On July 4, Franco Frattini, the EU's top justice official, announced a wide array of new antiterrorist measures, including an EU-wide passenger-data-recording system, and criminalization of bomb-making instructions on the Internet. "We will find a better way to discourage and detect terrorists," Frattini said.

W hy does such a better way not include a call for sterner moral judgment, forcefully expressed?

Should Ayman al-Zawahri, deputy head of Al Qaeda, be the only "leader" quoted making moral judgments — that Arab regimes are "corrupt" — in a week of terrorist incidents? Why do media parrot this moral irresponsibility, as in The Boston Globe's post-Glasgow editorial that the terrorist threat can "be countered by means of sound intelligence, conventional police work, legal adaptations that do not create a law-free zone, and leadership that distinguishes law-abiding communities from the crazed Islamist ideologues that prey upon them"?

The reasons fall into five categories.

The first rationale amounts to political correctness, however odd that may ring in regard to terrorism, the most political of all matters on the government's plate. It's the reflexive unwillingness of officials to express moral and political beliefs for fear they'll insult and offend others. Remember Fowler's classic definition of euphemism: "mild or vague or periphrastic expression as a substitute for blunt precision or disagreeable truth."

These days officials win praise for such evasion. In London, Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil-rights group Liberty, observed of Gordon Brown that he "has passed the first test of his administration. He has not played politics with the terror threat and has treated this weekend's events as an operational rather than a political matter."

But if the admirable part of political correctness is that one shouldn't utter unsupportable, reactionary ethnic, gender, or other generalizations, that principle is misapplied in the case of terrorists, who are picked out for condemnation by their acts alone. Aren't "bastards," "scum," and so on precisely the right terms for people who seek to maim and kill presumably innocent others to make a political point?

A second reason for muted language is the notion that not using emotional, judgmental words means one is acting more rationally and efficiently. Here, too, current clichés of proper official behavior encourage word-mincing. New Home Secretary Jacqui Smith won applause for the "calmness and dignity" of her remarks to Parliament after the failed car bombings.

That backslap makes little sense in regard to commentary on terrorists. Are all morally judgmental words "emotive"? Few would think that calling terrorists "wrong" or "immoral" counts as emotive, though branding them "evil" might slip into that category nowadays, on the ground that President Bush gave "evil" a bad name. The step to "cowardly" or "barbarian" strikes far more people as worrisome verbal escalation. What, though, is the logical inference between emotionally strong language by responsible people and irrational action? We don't expect President Bush to make weepy, emotionally upset decisions because he emerges teary-eyed from meetings with American families who've lost loved ones in Iraq. We don't expect religious figures or ordinary people who deliver strong, moving remarks at funerals to make irrational decisions immediately afterward. Why infer such things with politicians?

A third reason, construable as a corollary of the second, is that citizens don't want to see their leaders act emotionally. Hitler's histrionics and Khrushchev's shoe-pounding remain quintessential Bigfoot examples of the political equation that emotional language signals demagoguery. On a different scale, famous moments in American political history, such as Sen. Edward Muskie's alleged crying over attacks on his wife, reinforced a perceived equation between emotion and weakness.

Here one would like to see a poll. Politicians might be surprised by the result.

A fourth reason for morally neutral language about terrorism is fear that emotional, insulting language might make terrorists angrier and more dangerous. An old anecdote about former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir figures on the other side. Once, at an Israeli cabinet meeting, someone reportedly warned that the action contemplated would anger the Palestinians. Shamir supposedly replied, "Are they going to hate us more?" — implying that enemies of Israel had already hit their max in that department, freeing Israel from such consequentialist calculations. A similar logic appears more applicable to terrorists than fear of inciting them to greater ferocity. That aside, fear that insulting or strongly judging terrorists will cause greater terrorism appears to contradict the logic behind emotionless security talk itself — that violence is prevented by tough tactical measures rather than rhetoric. So long as rigorous tactics remain in place during rhetorical upgradings, things should not get worse.

Finally, there is the reason, intuited even by nonexperts on rhetoric, that repeating such language weakens its power. Listening to President Bush denounce terrorists every day as cowards would grow old fast, this thinking goes, as did hearing the mantra that "terrorists hate our freedom." Here, one might nonetheless ask, for what would we be trying to hold language's power in reserve? For another 9/11? A dirty bomb exploded in an American city? Is anything short of slaughtering thousands at a time insufficient for moral outrage? Nonuse of morally strong language arguably saps it of power more than repeated use, making it seem quaint and archaic.

All key reasons for avoiding stern moral judgments and insults toward terrorists, then, prove less than compelling. What might we argue in favor of calling terrorists names?

Let's mention just one key goal: the education of the world's Muslim youth. Instead of hearing moral praise and encouragement for terrorism from jihadists, which then gets mixed in their minds with the nonjudgmental, tactical talk of Western officials and media, they'd have to absorb a steady stream of insults of terrorists' intelligence, morality, decency, and reasoning. Young Muslims would have to get used to hearing jihadist heroes described as savages, scum, and uncivilized losers, along with the reasons why. It would intellectually force them, far more than they are forced today, to choose between two visions of the world.

We should not minimize the thirst for respect among terrorists and their potential sympathizers. When we treat terrorists only as tactical foes, as though we're too jaded for moral talk, we raise the self-respect of terrorists and their appeal to young people. Christopher Hitchens's surprise best seller, God Is Not Great, employs wry understatement in its title, then sarcastically drills home why "not being great" is the least of God's problems and sins. Perhaps officials around the free world, under a portfolio titled "Terrorism Is Not Great," could start stockpiling verbal weapons that penetrate the enemy more sharply than, "They're dangerous and we must fight them."

Carlin Romano, critic at large for The Chronicle and literary critic for The Philadelphia Inquirer, teaches philosophy and media theory at the University of Pennsylvania.

Spleen sez:

It is morally repugnant and against the WORD of GOD to accept evil on any level.

Carlin does not realize this, but it is the Wests' GODLESSNESS that has allowed this
mealy mouthed dhimmi pathetoric to be our politicians "diplomatic normal"


~ The original proposal for the seal of the United States ....
Around a picture of Moses parting the sea.


Israel Matzav: Why we should make moral judgments about terrorism

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Putin Cites Extraordinary Circumstances

(Hat Tip: FQ Kafir)

Russia withdraws from arms treaty

  • Russia withdraws from Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty
  • 1990 pact is considered a key element in maintaining stability in Europe
  • President Putin blames "extraordinary circumstances" affecting Russian security
  • Withdrawal allows Russia to build up forces closer to its borders

MOSCOW, Russia (AP) -- Russia on Saturday suspended its participation in a key European arms control treaty that governs deployment of troops on the continent, the Kremlin said, a move that threatened to further aggravate Moscow's already tense relations with the West.

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree suspending Russia's participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty due to "extraordinary circumstances ... which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Putin has in the past threatened to freeze his country's compliance with the treaty, accusing the United States and its NATO partners of undermining regional stability with U.S. plans for a missile defense system in former Soviet bloc countries in Eastern Europe.

Under the moratorium, Russia would halt inspections and verifications of its military sites by NATO countries and would no longer limit the number of its conventional weapons, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

In Brussels, NATO spokesman James Appathurai condemned the decision. "NATO regrets this decision by the Russian Federation. It is a step in the wrong direction," Appathurai said.

The treaty, between Russian and NATO members, was signed in 1990 and amended in 1999 to reflect changes since the breakup of the Soviet Union, adding the requirement that Moscow withdraw troops from the former Soviet republics of Moldova and Georgia.

Russia has ratified the amended version, but the United States and other NATO members have refused to do so until Russia completely withdraws.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia could no longer tolerate a situation where it was complying with the treaty but its partners were not, and he expressed hope that Russia's move would induce Western nations to commit to the updated treaty. VideoWatch a report on Moscow's decision »

"Such a situation contradicts Russia's interests," Peskov told The Associated Press. "Russia continues to expect that other nations that have signed the CFE will fulfill their obligations."

The treaty is seen as a key element in maintaining stability in Europe. It establishes limitations on countries' deployment of tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery, attack helicopters and combat aircraft.

Withdrawal from the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty would allow Moscow to build up forces near its borders.

But Russian military analysts have said the possibility of suspending participation in the treaty was a symbolic rising of ante in the missile shield showdown more than a sign of impending military escalation.

Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based defense analyst, said the moratorium probably won't result in any major buildup of heavy weaponry in European Russia. Russia has no actual interest in the highly costly build up of forces because it faces no real military threat and has no plans to launch an attack of its won, he said.

But, he said, it could mean an end to onsite inspections and verifications by NATO countries, which many European nations rely on to keep track of Russian deployments.

For the United States, the moratorium will mostly be a symbolic gesture, he said, since the U.S. has an extensive intelligence network that keeps close track of Russian forces. But it will still be seen as another unfriendly move in Washington, Felgenhauer predicted.

"This will be a major irritant," he said. "It will seriously spoil relations. The kind of soothing effect from the last summit with Putin and (President) Bush will evaporate swiftly," he said referring a summit between the leaders earlier this month at the Bush family home in Kennebunkport, Maine.

Felgenhauer also said that there is no provision under the treaty for a moratorium, suggesting Russia was acting illegally. "This is basically non-compliance, and this is an illegal move," he said.

See Also: Enter the King of the North

Vladimir Putin dancing a sword dance in Saudi Arabia

Iran and Hamastan: A Comprehensive Overview

Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC)

July 15 , 2007

Iran and Hamastan:

From Iran’s perspective, the establishment of a Hamas-dominated entity in the Gaza Strip presents both opportunities and risks, in general tipping the scales in Iran’s favor. Iran publicly recognized the legitimacy of Ismail Haniya’s government and is expected to continue providing Hamas with economic and military aid.

Iranian foreign minister Mamuchehr Mottaki met with Imad al-Alami, a member of Hamas's political bureau (Al-Alam TV, July 7). Iran is the only country so far to have received a senior Hamas delegation since the organization took over the Gaza Strip.


1. The dramatic developments which led to the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip and the creation of “Hamastan” surprised Iran, in our assessment, and created a new situation in the internal Palestinian arena, which holds both opportunities and risks for Iran. The main ones are the following:

A. On the one hand , the establishment of a Hamas-controlled entity reinforces Iran 's deterrent image and creates new opportunities for Iran to maneuver against Israel , the moderate Arab camp and the Western countries. That is because the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip can be perceived as the victory of the ideology the radical Islamic movement which is supported by the Iranian-Syrian axis. That ideology includes resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict through terrorism and violence. The takeover weakened the nationalist-secular and pro-Western trend in Palestinian society and also harmed American and Israeli interests.

B. On the other hand , Iran had no control over the events leading to the establishment of Hamastan. The worsening tension between Hamastan and Israel , the opposition to Hamastan of most of the Arab world and its isolation in the international arena have all created the potential for weakening Hamas rule. It may also show that such a radical Islamic entity, like the one created in the Gaza Strip, is not viable in the long run (and whose regional implications go beyond the Israeli-Palestinian context). In addition, recent events have also deepened the ideological and political schism in the Palestinian society and may draw attention away from the violent campaign against Israel .

2. So far, Iran seems to be studying the situation and formulating its policy regarding the recent developments in the Palestinian arena. In our assessment, at this point Iran is trying to maneuver between various considerations and constraints : One consideration is its desire to settle the differences of opinion between Hamas and Fatah in order to focus their activity on the campaign against Israel; another is its desire to exploit the event to strengthen Hamas and radical Islam, and encourage the use of violence and terrorism against Israel, a common interest for both Hamas and the Iranian regime.

3. With that in mind, senior Iranian figures and the Iranian media expressed their support for Hamas and Ismail Haniya's government, criticizing Fatah and Abu Mazen were criticized. At the same time they called for Hamas-Fatah unity , and expressed their worry as to what might result from the split in Palestinian society. On the diplomatic front , Iran is so far the only country to have hosted a Hamas delegation since the organization took over the Gaza Strip.

A summary of Iranian responses to the establishment of Hamastan in the Gaza Strip

Senior figures

4. Senior figures within the Iranian regime recognized the legitimacy of Ismail Haniya's government but at the same time called upon Hamas and Fatah to reconcile their differences. Some of the responses were the following:

A. On June 17, Mohammed Ali Hosseini, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman , stated that Iran would invite representatives of all the factions to Iran to settle their internal differences and avoid clashes. He added that all the factions had to close the gaps between them and begin a common campaign against “the Zionist enemy” in order to restore their rights. However, he also noted that the Palestinians had to respect the results of the elections (to the Palestinian Legislative Council) to restore democracy (i.e., to recognize the legitimacy of the Hamas government).

B. Mehdi Mustafawi , deputy Iranian foreign minister, stated that the establishment of the Palestinian emergency government in the West Bank parallel to the Haniya government in the Gaza Strip was undemocratic. He warned that it would “serve to fuel other conflicts in occupied Palestine ,” and called upon the factions to settle their differences through dialogue, in that only Israel benefitted from the current situation.

C. On June 23, Hamid Reza Haji Baba', a member of the Iranian committee for foreign policy and national security , accused Israel and the United States of “plotting” to cause a rift among the Palestinians. He called upon Fatah and Hamas to join forces and turn their resources against Israel .

D. On June 26, Gholam Ali Haddad- Adel, chairman of the Iranian Majlis , called upon Hamas and Fatah to settle the conflict between them. He extolled Palestinian solidarity and at the same time expressed support for the legitimacy of the elected Hamas government.

The Iranian press

5. The conservative Iranian press expressed support for Hamas which, it claimed, “had been elected in democratic elections” (Keyhan International). At the same time, as part of its desire to bring an end to the confrontations, it claimed that “the Zionist regime profited most from the clashes” (Tehran Times).

6. The daily Jumhuri , one of Leader Khamenei's mouthpieces, sided unequivocally with Hamas, severely criticizing Fatah and Abu Mazen. Some of the main points of Jumhuri articles were:

A. On June 20 an editorial expressed the hope that recent developments would prove that Hamas had drawn the right conclusions, and that it intended to refrain from integrating into the Palestinian Authority, which reflected the “disgusting legacy of Arafat's tendency to compromise,” and would join the efforts of the Islamic jihad in Palestine to carry out “the orders to destroy the Zionist regime.” Jumhuri repeatedly stated that the solution had to be formulated in “ the spirit of remarks made by Khomeini regarding wiping Israel from the pages of history .”

B. On June 26 an editorial accused Fatah of having betrayed the Palestinian people because for years it had collaborated with Israel and the United States . Therefore, no government should be allowed to be established in accordance with Abu Mazen's proposals because that would lead to a situation in which “the Zionist regime would again control Palestinian fate under the guise of nationalism.” The editorial also attacked Egypt and Jordan 's “cursed” regime for their mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

C. On July 3 an additional editorial belittled Salam Fayyad's government and described it as “a puppet government of the Zionist regime.”

The first visit of a Hamas delegation to Tehran .

7. On July 7 a Hamas delegation, representing the “external” leadership in Damascus , visited Tehran . Two members of the delegation were Imad al-Alami , a senior terrorist operative and member of the Hamas political bureau, and Muhammad Nasser , a member of the political bureau. The delegation deliberated with senior Iranian figures. Among others, al-Alami met with Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (currently Chairman of the Expediency Discernment Council of Iran) and with Mamuchehr Mottaki, Iranian foreign minister.

8. On the same day, after the meeting Mottaki made a cautious statement expressing his support for the Palestinian national unity government and expressing hope that al-Alami's consultations in Tehran would play a significant role in resolving the Palestinians' internal differences of opinion.

Imad Al-Alami, member of the Hamas political bureau (Al-Alam TV, June 7)

Iranian support for Hamas

9. Since the Hamas victory in the Palestinian Legislative Council elections, Iran has increased its financial, military and political support for the organization. In 1our assessment, the support will continue and increase following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, to fortify Hamastan's ability to survive and to improve its terrorist operative capabilities against Israel . 2

10. Musheir al-Masri , Hamas representative in the Palestinian Legislative Council, was asked whether Hamas would agree to accept aid from Iran . He answered that despite Hamas's ideological differences with Iran , Iranian support, if offered, would be accepted. He added that Iranian support was “a thousand times preferable to putting our trust in the Americans and Zionists…” (Al-Zaman, July 7, 2007)

1 For further information see our March 11, 2007 Bulletin entitled “Anti-Israeli Terrorism, 2006: Data, Analysis and Trends”

2 Tawfiq al-Tirawi, commander of Palestinian general intelligence, said in an interview that more than 70 Hamas terrorist operatives on their way back to the Gaza Strip after training in Iran , were among the thousands of Palestinians held up at the Rafah Crossing (Al-Quds, July 14).