Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

August 1, 2015

Reflections on Chattanooga

Filed under: Op-eds,Terrorism — Stephen W. Browne @ 10:02 am

I was on the road again this past two weeks and not paying much attention to the news. Nevertheless I couldn’t avoid hearing that four Marines and a sailor were killed in a spree shooting at a recruitment center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I must confess it was not altogether a surprised to find the name of the (late) shooter was Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez.

As it happens, what I was doing that weekend was participating in a get together of violence professionals. Including : law enforcement, security personnel, medical professionals with experience in traumatic wounds, scholars. In general a gathering of seriously well-educated, seriously tough people.

The underlying theme of these events is the safety of yourself and your loved ones in a dangerous world.

The event included not only training in specific techniques of personal combat, but lectures on awareness, avoidance, and de-escalation.

Naturally I’m going to draw a parallel between the events of that terrible day and the gathering the following weekend.

The obvious issues were brought up right away.

We have a military in which trained men and women are not allowed to carry personal arms on base or at duty stations such as the recruitment center.

We could go back and forth on that one, and I’m sure we will over the next few weeks. I understand some governors in their capacity of commanders-in-chief of the state National Guards are taking matters into their own hands.

Then there is the observation that when that evil young man murdered nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston last month, the media immediately, and I believe correctly, assumed it was a racist hate crime. But in this case an awful lot of people seem to be looking for a motive while ignoring the quite obvious conclusion he was a jihadist who regarded himself to be at war with the United States.

What’s I’d like to contribute to the discussion is this.

There is something any professional or trained non-professional in the field of personal security would say you have to, have to do in a dangerous situation to have any chance of survival.

Don’t pretend it’s not happening!

We share the world with a culture and a religion which produces a certain critical number of individuals who hate us enough to die for the chance to kill some of us.

Yes they’re a minority within their own culture. Yes the number of casualties they inflict are miniscule in comparison to auto accidents every year.

We should not however lose sight of the fact they enjoy widespread passive support among Muslims world-wide, and that the auto industry is not working feverishly to produce more automobile casualties.

We can disagree on whether Muslim rage is caused by our foreign policy. We can argue whether we should pursue a conciliatory or aggressive policy towards Islamic countries or some combination of the two. We can argue all day about the likelihood of Islamic jihadists acquiring a nuclear bomb or bioweapons.

What we should agree on is: the jihadists regard themselves as at war with us, many live among us, they will seek to do us harm at unpredictable intervals, and they are looking for ways to maximize the harm they do.

Can we at least acknowledge this? Or will we continue to deny the simple reality until they force us to acknowledge it?

March 9, 2015

American Sniper highlights divisions in American society

Filed under: Movies,Terrorism,War — Stephen W. Browne @ 12:38 pm

Clint Eastwood’s epic biopic “American Sniper” is hitting the target with all the accuracy of the legendary sniper it portrays, becoming the highest grossing domestic release of 2014.

It has also generated a lot of vehement criticism along with the adulation, and both say a lot about where we are as a country today.

Kyle has been hailed as a patriot and a hero. He has also been condemned as a psycho racist murderer.

No he wasn’t according to the testimony of Iraqis who worked with him.

The claim that the movie character called Iraqis “savages” in the film is misrepresentation at best. The character as portrayed by Bradley Cooper called jihadists who put bombs into the hands of children savages, which is too kind. So-called savages often display admirable traits of courage and honor – these people are evil.

But Kyle himself bears some responsibility for the misconceptions. Critics have pointed out passages in his autobiography where he said he enjoyed the war and missed it when he was away.

I think he was talking about the comradeship of fighting men in battle that few experience outside of the military. But however it might have been taken out of context, it was poorly put.

He also told some lies, passed off as tall tales by admirers, about going to New Orleans with friends during hurricane Katrina and shooting looters.

Come on! You didn’t know that was going to raise some hackles?

Critics claim the film shows a simplistic black-and-white view of the Iraq war, us good, them bad.

No, a great many of those critics have the simplistic view that if the war is bad, our enemies must be the good guys.

Does, not, follow. The question of whether the invasion of Iraq was justified or prudent or strategically sound is an entirely separate issue from the fact that Islamic jihadism is a world-wide movement, a fantasy ideology which aims to drag the world into a particularly vile barbarism.

The jihadists preach, and practice, forcible religious conversion, murder of non-believers and apostates, chattel slavery, and the brutal suppression of women.

In short, they’re not the good guys.

Whether we should roam the world seeking out the bad guys is another matter. To begin with, it’s expensive. An American soldier may fire a missile that costs more than he makes in a year to kill a guy who couldn’t pay for it in a lifetime.

The questions that occur to any thoughtful person are: Is there a cheaper way to defeat the jihadists? Can we do so without making more enemies in the process? Is there a peaceful way to subvert their poisonous ideology? Can we isolate them long enough for their movement to collapse under the weight of its own stupidity as we did with communism?

And there is a question critics seem to have missed. Sniping is a highly selective method of warfare. Kyle identified individual threats to American troops, in the act. He killed only them, without “collateral damage” in that detestable military euphemism. When in doubt, he did not fire.

I think what many people are reacting to is how personal Kyle’s kills are. He sees them through his scope as if they are close enough to touch. He can see their faces, and see them as they die.

That is chilling in a way that knowing the President of the United States checks off names from a list, authorizing a remote-controlled drone to shoot a Hellfire missile which may or may not kill the target but most certainly kills and maims a great many bystanders is not.

This is what we’re having to deal with, soldiers and civilians alike.

A veteran of World War II might have survived without ever knowing if he’d killed anyone, and we once expected warfare would only get progressively more long-range and impersonal.

We were wrong. Much of modern warfare is fought at close range and is brought into our homes via television.

Eastwood has done a good job at showing the cost to our soldiers, and to us.

April 23, 2013


Filed under: Op-eds,Terrorism — Stephen W. Browne @ 2:27 pm

Note: This is my weekly op-ed column.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev is dead and his brother Dzhokhar is in custody, which is the way it ought to be by rights. Yet there are people unhappy about it.

The two brothers were from Chechnya, a majority Muslim territory in the Caucasus, occupied but never completely subdued by Russia since 1834. After the breakup of the Soviet Union the Chechens attempted to win back their independence, a rebellion that was broken with Soviet-style brutality.

Chechnya has been on my radar for a while, since I was living in the former Soviet Bloc countries during the First and Second Chechen Wars. Polish friends of mine were involved in projects to take humanitarian supplies overland to the Chechen resistance leader Dzhokhar Dudayev, before he was killed by the Russians.

The brothers were taken in by the United States as refugees, nurtured, accepted, and educated by this marvelously diverse, tolerant, and welcoming country.

They repaid us by murdering a little boy and two young women, one a guest in our country who was deserving of its protection. They maimed dozens more, then killed a cop and wounded another as they sought to flee.

From the beginning a number of us thought this was most likely the work of Muslim jihadists, though the more responsible waited for more definite indications.

Usually when the terrorism comes from any of the jihadist organizations gathered under the loose coordinating group called Al-Queda there is a claim of responsibility after a short period.

That there wasn’t an announcement wasn’t surprising though. More murders and attempted murders than we are comfortable acknowledging are perpetrated by

Muslims who’ve been living in this country for some time before they explode in what scholar Daniel Pipes labeled “Sudden Jihad Syndrome.”

In these cases we usually find a pattern of radicalization of alienated immigrants fostered by Islamic centers run by jihadist sympathizers, sometimes online as in the case of Major Nidal Hassan, the Ft. Hood murderer.

This presents problems to deal with in terms of immigration policy, police surveillance, etc.

But we can handle it. The response of the people of Boston, the people of America, and friends abroad has been magnificent.

There are reports of runners knocked down by the blast who picked themselves up and staggered over the finish line. Bystanders obeyed their first impulse after the blasts and ran, not away but towards those they saw needed help.

The Boston Red Socks traditionally play “Sweet Caroline” in the middle of the eighth inning. Neil Diamond showed up at Fenway Park and asked to sing it in person.

Runners in the London marathon observed a moment of silence before the beginning of the race, many wore black ribbons.

“We will join together in silence to remember our friends and colleagues for whom a day of joy turned into a day of sadness,” said the announcer. “Let us now show our respect and support for the victims of the tragedy in Boston.”

And something I find both ironic and inspiring, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was treated in Beth Israel Hospital by medical personnel he would have cheerfully murdered.

And then there’s these statements by various prominent journalists in the aftermath of the bombing.

“…if you care about everything from stopping war to reducing the defense budget to protecting civil liberties to passing immigration reform, you should hope the bomber was a white domestic terrorist.” David Sirota, in Salon online magazine

“Normally, domestic terrorist people tend to be on the far right, although that’s not a good category. Extremists, let’s call them that.” Chris Matthews, MSNBC.

“Obviously, nobody knows anything yet, but I would caution folks jumping to conclusions about foreign terrorism to remember that this is the official Patriots Day holiday in Massachusetts, celebrating the Battles at Lexington and Concord…” Charles P. Pierce, Esquire.

“The thinking, as we have been reporting, is that this is a domestic extremist attack. Officials are leaning that way largely because of the timing of the attack. April is a big month for anti-government and right-wing individuals. There’s the Columbine anniversary, there’s Hitler’s birthday, there’s the Oklahoma City bombing, the assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.” Dina Temple-Raston, National Public Radio “counterterrorism correspondent.”

You can find this kind of stuff all over, though many posts are being deleted as fast as possible, along with vicious personal attacks on anyone who first suggested this might be the work of Islamic jihadists.

What kind of people openly prefer to believe that a murderous attack on our country was perpetuated by their own countrymen, make that their first assumption, cling to it as long as possible, and refuse to apologize when proven wrong?

February 25, 2013

Review: Argo

Filed under: Movies,Social Science & History,Terrorism,War — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:48 am

Note: I see “Argo” won an academy award, and I see I neglected to post my review which first appeared in the print-only TV Guide of The Marshall Independent. So here it is.

After a slow beginning the reputation of “Argo” as a taut psychological thriller and intelligent action flick is getting around.

“Argo” achieves the most difficult feat for a thriller, keeping you on edge even when you know the outcome walking in. As action flick it hearkens back to an earlier time before the “non-stop action” genre, when films paid attention to set up and character development. And for once, the CIA are shown as the good guys.

And if you’re paying careful attention there are some interesting questions about realpolitik and ethics versus practicalities raised therein.

“Argo” tells the story of the “Canadian caper,” a joint CIA-Canadian operation that spirited six American diplomatic personnel out of Iran during the Iranian hostage crisis in January, 1980.

Since a generation has passed since those days, the film begins with a narrator relating the background. In 1979 the Shah of Iran was forced into exile and the Ayatollah Khomeni returned from his own exile to assume spiritual leadership of the new Islamic Republic of Iran.

Enraged that the U.S. admitted the Shah into the country for medical treatment, militants stormed and seized the American embassy, taking the staff hostage for what was to become a 444 day ordeal.

Six diplomats escaped out a back door and ultimately found refuge in the residence of the Canadian ambassador, Ken Taylor (Victor Garber.)

CIA officials brainstorm various plans to extract the six, discarding all of them as impractical, until agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck, who also directs) comes up with an audacious plan to extract the six disguised as a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a science fiction movie to be called Argo.

The plan is green-lighted as the “least bad” option.

Mendez contacts makeup artist John Chambers (John Goodman) who did contract work for the CIA with disguises.

“Let me get this straight, you want to come to Hollywood, make a fake movie, and do nothing?” Chambers asked. “You’ll fit right in.”

Chambers helps Mendez recruit producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to establish a thorough cover for the operation.

“If I’m going to make a fake movie, I’m going to make a fake hit,” Siegel said.

The cover involved a real script that justified an exotic location shoot (an adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s novel, “Lord of Light” by the way,) full-page ads in Variety, press conferences, casting calls, and an office that existed to answer precisely one phone call from Iran to verify that Mendez’s cover character was “out of the country on location.”

The understated tension is marvelously done, Afleck has a great future as a director. The living conditions of the six, in comfortable but cramped conditions, living in fear, getting on each others nerves, is shown in images with few words. A glimpse of a man shot by firing squad through a window, a man hanged from a crane, the growing suspicion that the Iranian housekeeper knows who the ambassador’s guests are. This could be a textbook illustration of the novelist’s dictum, “Show – don’t tell.”

“Argo” doesn’t shy away from the moral ambiguity of the U.S.- Iranian conflict. Yes the U.S. sponsored a coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953, and supported a despot who ruled with the brutal CIA-trained secret police SAVAK.

But with the Shah gone, what replaced him? Even more brutal religious fanatics who threw a rich and modernizing country into poverty and chaos.

And who were the militant leaders? Mendez tells the six while briefing them. Not semi-literate goat-herders but American and European-educated English speakers who had seen the west close up, and hated it. Hated the west enough to throw away ancient laws on the treatment of diplomats and stage sadistic mock-execution with their captives.

There’s food for thought here, now more than ever.

There’s also some choices Afleck made he should have thought twice about. “Argo” has it the six were refused refuge at the British and New Zealand embassies. In fact both embassies aided the six in important ways, as did the Swedish embassy which briefly sheltered one of them.

Afleck calls this dramatic license to heighten the sense the six had no place else to go.

No, having the Swissair plane chased down the runway by gunmen in trucks as it’s taking off is dramatic license. This is slander.

After the preview at the Toronto Film Festival in September, critics charged “Argo” unfairly minimized Canadian participation in the operation. Well perhaps, but then again the Canadians got all the credit until 1997 when the operation was declassified and Mendez got to claim his Intelligence Star medal, and Chambers his Intelligence medal.

January 25, 2013

Hard thinking about soft targets

Filed under: News commentary,Terrorism — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:36 am

Note: This is cross-posted on my blog at The Marshall Independent.

Today (Friday) my interview with Matthew Loeslie law enforcement coordinator at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, appeared in the Independent under the title, “Active shooter: What to do when the unthinkable happens.”

The article was the result of an interesting and wide-ranging discussion that covered much more material than could be included in the article, but may pop up later.

One of the things discussed was soft targets and how to harden them. Though school shootings are rare, they are nonetheless a magnet for the homicidal/suicidal personality precisely because they offer an unprotected target-rich environment.

I wrote about this back in ’06 after the Amish tragedy.

Other possibilities include theaters and shopping centers, both of which have featured in recent active shooter incidents. The shopping center shooter committed suicide immediately upon being confronted by an armed civilian who had a permit but technically shouldn’t have been carrying inside the mall.

(When I lived in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1998 I had to pass through a magnetometer every day I went to work in an indoor shopping mall or the British Council Library. At night I used to go to sleep to the music of partying locals firing guns into the air, and occasionally throwing grenades into the Beautiful Blue Danube.)

The concept of schools as soft target magnets horrifies some people. I’ve been the subject of almost hysterical vilification for merely pointing this out.

Too bad. Unpleasant facts do not cease to be facts because you don’t like to think about them.

And to make you even more uncomfortable, if you’ve seen “Zero Dark 30” you know that one of the things mentioned in passing is that Al Queda has discussed doing this kind of thing in a much more organized fashion.

Minnesota West and a number of other places around the country offer good information on survival. We’re beginning a dialog on a subject many don’t want to think about – arming a few teachers, perhaps by offering pay incentives for teachers who agree to take – let’s call it what it is – combat pistol training and maintain their skills.

(I’m not suggesting the teachers carry. A firearm can be kept in a lockbox with a digital combination, perhaps in a teachers desk. Students need not know which teachers have them. And if you have a problem with this, may I ask why you trust your children to them everyday?)

But of course, hardening the target doesn’t solve the problem of homicidal insanity. Harden one target and those bent on murder/suicide will go somewhere else.

How to recognize and deal with the problem of homicidal insanity, or just plain evil, without totally junking our constitutional protections against prior restraint is another subject.

But for now, hardening schools and making spree killers look elsewhere for targets is just fine with me while I’ve got kids in those schools.

Review: ‘Zero Dark 30’

Filed under: Movies,Terrorism,War — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:19 am

Note: This appeared in the print-only TV Guide of The Marshall Independent.

Yes it’s pretty good. But if you can’t handle moral ambiguity and the often nasty way the world really works, you’ve got no business seeing it.

“Zero Dark 30” is about the hunt for Osama bin Ladin culminating in his execution by Seal Team Six.

I’d better say something here. I have some strong feelings about this, because I’d heard of Osama bin Ladin before 99.999 percent of my fellow Americans had.

My students in Saudi Arabia used to ask me if I’d heard of him when I worked in the Kingdom before 9/11. I had but I told them I hadn’t. They assured me I would someday.

Did killing Osama seriously hamper Al Queda?

No. Don’t care. It’s personal.

It was personal for “Maya” (Jessica Chastain) the CIA operative recruited just out of high school whose only significant work for The Company was tracking bin Ladin. “Zero Dark 30” is Maya’s story.

It begins on 9/11, but director Kathryn Bieglow (a pretty driven woman herself by all accounts) doesn’t show you the smoking towers, or the agonizing scenes of the victims who held hands as they jumped to their deaths.

You see a blank screen, and hear a woman trapped on a burning floor talk to a 9-11 operator.

“I’m going to die, aren’t I?” you hear as the connection is lost.

Maya is introduced as a young analyst witnessing the brutal interrogation of an Al-Queda member by CIA operative Dan (Jason Clarke).

She elects to come in without a mask. Dan asks if she wants one.

“You don’t wear one. Is he ever getting out?” Maya asks.

“He’s never getting out,” Dan says.

Maya is visibly upset. She gets over it. She witnesses beating, humiliation, and water boarding, then supervises a beating herself.

When her best friend, a mother of three (Jennifer Ehle), and six colleagues are killed in the 2009 Camp Chapman attack she goes from driven – to obsessed.

The film has upset some people.

Some Republicans claimed its release was intended to highlight President Obama’s role in authorizing an operation already in the pipeline before his administration, and help insure his re-election.

Others call it pro-torture.

But if anything the person who gets the credit for deciding to trust Maya’s certainty in spite of everybody else’s doubts, is CIA Director Leon Panetta (James Gandolfini).

Obama’s sole appearance on-screen is assuring Steve Kroft on “60 Minutes” that “America does not torture.”

A lie of course, but to be fair what else could he have said without revealing too much to our enemies?

Not exactly pro-torture, the film recognizes it happens. It’s shown having an effect on Dan. He burns out and goes home, after warning Maya that when it becomes a public issue again the last person holding the bag is going down.

The fact is, our enemies torture and brutally murder captives. Civilized people have agreed to follow certain rules, even when conducting a business as uncivilized as war. Our enemies never signed those accords. Rules are for people who play by rules.

Tell anyone that someone they love more than life is in the hands of Al-Queda and watch them join the “waterboarding is for sissies” club.

If you think this is intolerable, then you need to tell your immediate family, “I’m so sorry, I love you all, but I’d rather you died horrible deaths than cause a loathesome human being a moment’s discomfort.”

It’s also been alleged Bigelow obtained improper access to classified information.

Does it give away useful intelligence?

I don’t know. If Maya is ever outed, I wouldn’t want to be her insurance underwriter.

A CIA spokesperson said the movie is, “an accurate portrayal of the men and women of the CIA, their vital mission and the commitment to public service that defines them.”

If that’s true, it’s rather alarming. But there have been reports Maya has fired off at least one email to all the CIA people who were commended for the operation, telling them in no uncertain terms they didn’t deserve it because all they ever did was obstruct her. And that’s pretty much what the movie shows,
Maya dragging the Agency kicking and screaming into seeing it her way.

In the end, Maya sees off Seal Team Six and is waiting to identify Osama’s body on their return.

There’s a lot of ambiguity here too. They got Osama, his top henchmen, and a lot of information on hard drives, tapes, and documents.

They also killed the father of a roomful of kids, and his wife when she jumped on his body. They did by all accounts attempt to confine the killing to adult males in the compound.

But those kids are going to grow up some day. You might want to see this movie before they do.

September 17, 2012

Another 9/11

Filed under: Syndicated columns,Terrorism,War — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:38 am

“Say ye unto the Khwarezmians that I am the soveign of the sunrise, and [the emperor is] the sovereign of the sunset. Let there be between us a firm treaty of friendship, amity, and peace, and let traders and caravans on both sides come and go.”
– Ghengis Khan, to an ambassador from the Khwarezmian empire, before the Khwarezmian (Persian) Emperor had the Mongol ambassadors murdered, provoking a war that led to his defeat and death.

After the murder of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other diplomatic personnel in Benghazi, Libya, I received an email that drew my attention to a letter to the editor posted in the U.K. Daily Telegraph.

“Would Americans reading this at last grasp that free speech does not extend beyond the jurisdiction of the Constitution which grants the Right. Those who imagine otherwise do the USA a grave disservice if not criminal damage to American interests.

We in UK enjoy similar freedom but Americans must not take this for granted elsewhere. Like it or not politics and religion are sides of the same coin in the Muslim world. Does the US invite another 9/11 ?”

The cluelessness of this is staggering. This WAS another 9/11. Not the same in scope and casualties, but carrying the same message.

Unfortunately this cluelessness is matched by our Diplomatic Service. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice earnestly announces that the riots in Libya are apparently spontaneous a and not part of any coherent plan, even as more embassies in Muslim countries come under siege and AL Queda urges more attacks on U.S. diplomats.

“What happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, prompted by the video,” Rice said.

Oh puh-lease! These events are deliberate, planned, and come with a message, “We are at war with you and will not allow you to forget it.”

The ostensible excuse was an amateurish 14 minute trailer for a movie depicting the prophet Mohammed in an unfavorable light, that now appears never to have been made. The trailer is probably all there is of the film. It seems to be the production of an Egyptian Coptic Christian who is on probation/parole for some kind of fraud. It is not even certain the trailer was originally intended to be about Mohammed at all, since it seems to be clumsily overdubbed.

Nevertheless, it is being touted as an intolerable insult to Islam, for which apologies, abasement, and restitution is required. Apologies which the administration seems only to willing to provide.

Those mobs claim they are offended at all of America, for the work of one man, or at most a handful of men, and want to hold all of us accountable for it.

There is something Americans fail to understand about Arab Islamic culture and their point of view. For them, rights and obligations are not reciprocal. They don’t see anything contradictory about insulting our faith, our culture, our way of life, while demanding the most meticulous respect for theirs.

It’s not the movie, it’s us! Get it? They don’t like us and will seize on any excuse to be offended.

From ancient times, both civilized people and barbarians have agreed upon one crucial principle, that the person of an ambassador is sacred. Ambassadors may come and go between warring sides bearing messages and return unharmed.

Christopher Stevens was not the victim of a random riot. He was sought out in his secret safe house and murdered. His body was dishonored and dragged through the streets as the rioters took pictures of him with their cell phone cameras, from inches away from his corpse.

This is also a message, “We are not interested in what you have to say. We will not listen. We will humiliate you as we choose, and you are impotent to do anything about it.”

Bio: Steve Browne is an award-winning reporter and columnist who entered journalism by accident while living and working in Eastern Europe from 1991 to 2004. He is the author of two books for English students: “Word Pictures: English as it is REALLY Used,” published in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Novosibirsk, Russia, and “English Linguistic Humor: Puns, Play on Words, Spoonerisms, and Shaggy Dog Stories.” In 1997 he was elected an Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights. He is currently living in his native Midwest, which he considers “the most interesting foreign country I have ever lived in.”

Note: Publications receiving this may use at most 3-4 columns free of charge to test reader reaction. Contact author for single-issue and subscription rates. It’s not very expensive.

August 7, 2011

The most tragic of ironies

Filed under: News commentary,Terrorism — Stephen W. Browne @ 11:07 am

The ever-genial pessimist John Derbyshire pointed my way to a couple of posts by Debbie Schlussel, conservative blogger and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors.

By now no one has not heard of how Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik shot up the Norwegian Labor Party youth camp, killing somewhere around 87 young people – and by young they mean some barely into their teens. (And by the way, why has it taken weeks to get a more-or-less accurate body count?)

In two posts one here, and the second part here, Schlussel details how the camp was a training ground for future leftist leaders who have strong ties to Hamas and Fatah. There are pictures too, of young people expressing their solidarity with terrorists.

And evidently Glenn Beck has been getting some flack for comparing the camp to Hitler Youth camps.

The UK’s leftist newspaper The Guardian quotes Torbjørn Eriksen, former press secretary to Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, “Young political activists have gathered at Utøya for over 60 years to learn about and be part of democracy, the very opposite of what the Hitler Youth was about. Glenn Beck’s comments are ignorant, incorrect and extremely hurtful.”

I will note the Hitler-jugend was founded in 1922, well before Hitler took power in Germany. I’ll further note Hitler came to power in an honest election, before he dispensed with democracy.

I’m conflicted. Schlussel and Beck take a cry-no-tears attitude for the fledgling fascists. But I’m a father, and from time to time I have to deal with my son coming home from grade school babbling the results of comparatively mild indoctrination about how he’s going to love the Earth, etc. We don’t have to deal with a relentless brainwashing campaign designed to create a generation of adults who can not even imagine deviating from a party line, yet.

Remember the movie “Cabaret”? Remember that scene where the three main characters are in a lovely outdoor cafe in the countryside when a beautiful blond boy starts singing “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.”

As the guest join in with him and the rousing chorus draws to a close, the camera pans down as he raises his arm in the salute the whole world knows, showing the brown shirt with the swastika armband.

A bud of mine once remarked, “Tomorrow may have belonged to him, but the day after tomorrow the little bastard sure got his.”

I’ll have more to say, more coherently, later. Right now I’m just asking myself, why is no one crying “chickens come home to roost”?

Why is no one accusing the Labor Party of creating a “climate of hate” by palling around with terrorists whose forthrightly stated goal is the extermination of Jews and the subjugation of the West?

Why is no one reflecting on John Kennedy’s wise observation that, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”

And did the Norwegian Labor Party think when they created a criminal justice system wherein an evil man could commit a mass murder on this scale knowing he’d get a maximum sentence of 21 years in a prison more comfortable than many summer camps, that it would never come back and bite them in the ass?

May 11, 2011

Are we too civilized?

Filed under: Terrorism,War — Stephen W. Browne @ 7:16 am

I’ve been busy, so I haven’t commented on the death of Osama bin Ladin, and it’s not like there was a dearth of comment anyway.

And frankly, it’s been much more interesting to wait and see what the reaction has been. Osama himself really wasn’t a very interesting person.

Think about it, if he hadn’t done what he’d done, do you think he’d have attracted any attention as a fiery Islamist preacher? Other than as a figure of fun for late-night comics that is.

There’s been the usual soft-headed logic of those who think Osama should have been given “due process.”

Yes of course, just like when the Greatest Generation hit the beaches of Normandy armed with writs, summons, and legal injunctions telling the Nazis to suspend all concentration camp operations and executions of hostages pending further investigation.

Boy that showed them!

Then there was Heinz Uthmann, the judge in at the Labor Court in Hamburg, who filed criminal charges against German Chancellor Angela Merkel for “rewarding and approving an intentional homicide,” after she expressed pleasure at the death of bin Ladin.

You know, I believe some day it’s going to be impossible for even the most cowardly and muddle-headed to deny that our civilization is at war. Against that day, shouldn’t somebody be keeping a list? I suggest the categories on that list might include: useful idiots, appeasers, and collaborators.

Then there are those who approve of bin Ladin’s killing on principle, but think the boisterous American rejoicing was somehow vulgar and unseemly.

Lately I have meditated a lot on one of those one-line gems of wisdom Thomas Sowell tosses off with such apparent ease.

“If the battle for civilization comes down to the wimps versus the barbarians, the barbarians are going to win.”

Mark Steyn pointed out when General Gorden’s death at Khartoum was avenged by Lord Kitchener at Omdurman, he had the corpse of the Mahdi dug up and took his skull for a paperweight.

At first, I thought the disposal of bin Ladin’s body was seemly and civilized. After hearing the outpouring of wimpishness from American and Europe – I say he should have been treated more like Danny Pearl’s body was.

Cut it in pieces, take his skull for the Smithsonian, and for good measure bury the rest of him in a pig yard.

Oh, and I see Omar bin Ladin is actually making noises about suing over his father’s death.

Let him show up in court. Then shoot him.

No wait, that’s an honorable death. Lynch him.

April 4, 2011

Reflections on Itamar, part 2

Filed under: Terrorism — Stephen W. Browne @ 12:38 pm

“If you are not prepared to use force to defend civilization, then be prepared to accept barbarism.”
– Thomas Sowell

“Shver tzu zein a Yid” Yiddish saying, “It’s hard to be a Jew.”

Back in Reflections on Itamar, part 1, I said I had to wait a bit before commenting to maintain a certain degree of equanimity.

For part 2 I’ve waited a bit longer to see how the international reaction would shake down.

Sadly, it seems my suspicions were correct. Attention to the murders of both parents and three young children in the Fogel family is already fading. Some say it’s news in competition with the dramatic ongoing crisis in Japan. Others think the world is sick of hearing about dead Jews.

Pro-jihadist Arabic-language sites are full of praise and the blessings of Allah for the murderers. That is perhaps to be expected.

Apologists for terrorism point to the sufferings of the Palestinians. This too is to be expected, though to my mind it’s eerily like a lot of semi-apologies for the Holocaust I’ve heard over the years.

No one seems willing to consider the sufferings of the Palestinians are very largely self-inflicted. Nor that a fundamental difference between the two sides is, there are Israeli advocates for the Palestinians who live unmolested in Israel. There are no Palestinian advocates for Israel who dare voice their opinions in public.

The most inane comment on the murders comes from those who hope this won’t “adversely affect the peace process.”

This is so far out of touch with reality you have to wonder what planet these people live on. Can no one see the truth staring them in the face?

There will never be peace between Israel and its enemies in the foreseeable future.

Eric Hoffer once pointed out that Israel is the only nation that has to sue for peace after winning a war. Israel can never make enough concessions to satisfy an enemy that hates them beyond reason.

What strategic purpose was served by murdering the Fogel family? What goal was moved forward by beheading a three-month-old baby girl?

None. They did it because it felt good. They did it to win praise and admiration from their people. And they did it to taunt the Israelis, “You can’t defend your women and children.”

The Israelis respond by announcing they are going to build still more settlements. Oooo, that’ll show them! Put more potential victims in reach.

Oh yes, and they’re going to hunt down the killers and bring them to justice.

Justice in Israel means lengthy confinement – perhaps until terrorists grab some hostages and offer to exchange them.

Israel does have the death penalty – which has been imposed precisely once by civil authority. And the executed was Adolph Eichman!

“It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death.”Moses Maimonides, Sefer Hamitzvot, Negative Commandment number 290.

What can you do to deter an enemy who gleefully announces they can lose fifteen of their own to your every one and still win?

Nothing we are willing to even consider.

How can you persuade a people not to murder your children, when they readily murder their own children in so-called “honor killings“?

You can’t. Not by any means we’re willing to use.

The Israelis could of course, surround the village the murderers fled to – the one where they handed out sweets to celebrate them, and threaten to shell it flat with artillery and napalm the rubble if they don’t hand over the murderers pronto. World opinion would call them Nazis for it, but they do that already.

They won’t. Israelis including people close to the dead family have already preemptively denounced any suggestion of collective punishment to avenge the murders.

Times like this remind me of one of Thomas Sowell’s most interesting, and disturbing insights, “The law of diminishing returns applies to morality as well. It is possible to be too moral.”

And since I seem to be quoting Sowell a lot here, let me end with one more. “If the battle for civilization comes down to the wimps versus the barbarians, the barbarians are going to win.”

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