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June 2002 Archives

June 30, 2002

Dear Imam Onan...

By Joe Katzman at 09:35

Just checked my Sitemeter reports. To the person who submitted "hadith of jerking" to Google and came up with my site, I hope you found what you were looking for.

If not, keep searching. All of us here in the blogosphere are... um... pulling for you.


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June 29, 2002

Return to Crown Heights

By Joe Katzman at 14:39

Dante wrote about a foreign traveler descending into an environment of ultimate sin and depravity. What if the environment you headed into was one of people relentlessly pursuing goodness instead, but you were still every bit as much of a cultural outsider?

What if you left that environment and then returned 10 years later, with a new set of perspectives?

Wonder no more. Thanks to Asparagirl for the tip.


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Pejman Reviews Dante's "Divine Comedy"

By Joe Katzman at 14:26

This is a good review from Pejman, and one which also helps shed light on today's Sufi Wisdom. For those who think of "Dante's Inferno," that's just one part of a larger book called "The Divine Comedy."

An excerpt:

"The overarching message of the Comedy appealed to me--in order to overcome sin and evil, man must first encounter and understand it fully. This Dante does, traveling through Hell and Purgatory to intellectually comprehend the various and manifold degrees of sin and fault. Through the patience and teaching of his guides: Virgil, Beatrice and finally St. Bernard, Dante is exposed to sin and accounts of human frailty, without actually succumbing to that frailty himself. It is, in many ways, the best of both worlds. And with each lesson -- and the corresponding conquest of sinful desire associated with the lesson -- Dante further prepares himself for his ascent to Paradise, and for his glimpse into the Mind of God, whom Dante, in the last canto of Il Paradiso, unforgettably portrays as an Unmoved Mover of the sun and the stars.

Dante's exploration of the ethereal -- and his corresponding self-exploration -- is profoundly intellectual in nature, and yet, it captures very effectively the full range of emotions a pilgrim would feel if he undertook the extraordinary journey that Dante purports to have taken -- emotions which include shock, horror, terror, pity, sadness, and ultimately ecstatic joy."

That's the ultimate state of Sufiism, too, and the inner state of the Enlightened throughout history.


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Peggy Noonan on White-Collar Sociopaths

By Joe Katzman at 14:18

The doyenne of Republican columnists actually calls Enron and Worldcom types "psychopaths," but "sociopaths" is the term she's looking for. Winds of Change has written about this issue before, most recently in the "Capitalism Sucks" piece on June 13th.

The difference is that Ms. Noonan does a better job. Some excerpts are provided, but I really recommend that you read the whole thing:

"At any rate it no longer seems like a scandal. "Scandal" seems quaint. It is starting to feel like a tragedy. Not for Wall Street and for corporations--it's a setback for them--but for our country. For a way of living and being.

Those who invested in and placed faith in Global Crossing, Enron, Tyco or WorldCom have been cheated and fooled by individuals whose selfishness seems so outsized, so huge, that it seems less human and flawed than weird and puzzling. Did they think they would get away with accounting scams forever? Did they think they'd never get caught? Do they think they're operating in the end times and they better grab what they can now and go hide? What were they thinking?"

What, indeed. Ms. Noonan then goes on to talk about one of the more valued books in my collection, and derive some of its lessons. The most important being that capitalism isn't separate from morality - it actually promotes it, and also depends on it.

Attempting to decouple them, or neglecting that required foundation, means your economy is headed straight into a wall. Your polity, too.

Edward Younkins of the Acton Institute distills Mr. Novak's philosophy into "Seven Great Responsibilities for Corporations":

  1. Satisfy customers with good services of real value;
  2. Make a reasonable return to investors;
  3. Create new wealth;
  4. Create new jobs;
  5. Defeat cynicism and envy by demonstrating internally that talent and hard work will and can be rewarded;
  6. Promote inventiveness, ingenuity and creativity;
  7. Diversify the interests of the republic.
Now that's a real mission statement! A corporation that adopted this as its mission statement is one I'd invest in. And work for. All you have to do is read the empty, soulless evasions of most corporate mission and vision statements to see how far we are from this understanding.


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Wimbledon Partners Kick Butt, Stereotypes

By Joe Katzman at 13:53

This from the BBC:

"Pakistan's Aisamul Haq Qureshi has been condemned by his country's sports officials for partnering an Israeli at Wimbledon.

Qureshi has teamed up with Amir Hadad and together they upset 11th seed Rick Leech and Ellis Ferreira on Friday to make it to the third round of the men's doubles.

Qureshi, a 22-year-old Muslim, created history with the help of Jewish Hadad by becoming the first Pakistani player to reach the third round of a Grand Slam event..."

The reaction to this unprecedented success? With a few shining exceptions, Qureshi's countrymen are shouting "bad man!" at the top of their lungs. Pakistan's tennis captain Rasheed Malik spoke up in support of Qureshi, but there is talk of dropping him from the national Davis Cup team.

Hadad's reaction to the general brouhaha? "A Jew and a Muslim playing together is not the end of the world." Qureshi is also unbowed. ly, I hope they keep winning.

Back to our Sufi Wisdom for a minute.

Al-Thawri's aphorism above has many facets. Most people quickly grasp its message of being prepared to judge oneself, and to welcome correction. Consider, too, the relevant lessons brought up by this episode.

Qureshi's countrymen are shouting "bad man" - but consider the source. Should he be pleased? Probably. I've often said that "a man is judged by the enemies he keeps." If Osama bin Laden, or Noam Chomsky, or someone of that ilk name you enemy #1, serious congratulations are in order. That kind of criticism is a natural part of a good and upright life. If you don't get any, it's almost certainly because you've never stood for anything meaningful.

That's the good news. The problem with this approach is that it's a double-edged sword.

Noam Chomsky is pleased when many people dislike him, and judges himself almost exclusively bythe enemies he keeps. So the dynamic cuts both ways. Likewise, the willingness to welcome correction can quickly become ridiculous Hamlet-like indecision, or even something more sinister.

Now, let's bring these two facets of al-Thawri's aphorism together... because I think the solution may lie in combining them. Together, they have a strength and resilience that neither can claim alone.

To illustrate, let's start with Chomsky. He's quite happy to stand up for something, but finds being corrected or caught out in lies impossible to deal with. Most self-righteous jerks fit this pattern, one way or another. The importance of civility in our public debate is not some idle quibble over manners, it's the essential ingredient for warding against this very tendency. Which exists in all of us.

Now look at the "sensitivity types" and the pacifists Donald Sensing discusses. They're happy with the self-correction routine to the point of fetishizing it, but cannot deal with unpleasantness and/or will not truly stand for the ideals they profess. Which is why so many people instinctively (and correctly) distrust them.

On the one hand, you need to stand for something and take some criticism. On the other hand, you need to be prepared to judge yourself and welcome correction. Unless we understand both facets of al-Thawri's wisdom, we can be - and are - easily led astray.


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Sufi Wisdom: Good and Bad

By Joe Katzman at 12:30

As militant Islam does its level best to discredit the religion, it's important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, the Islamic mystics who live islam (submission), iman (faith) and ishan (awareness of G-d, "to act beautifully").

The Wahhabi hate them, of course, which constitutes an endorsement in my books. The great poet Rumi was a Sufi, and so were many other figures of religious and cultural significance. Every Shabbos, share some of their wisdom via my Blog.

"If someone remarks "What an excellent man you are!" and this pleases you more than his saying "What a bad man you are!" know that you are still a bad man."
  -- Sufiyan al-Thawri
In light of the Stanley Hauerwas controversy, I should note that this is not at all the same thing as saying "what bad men these people are, and will someone up above please smite them upside the head." A position taken quite comfortably and frequently by misguided religious folks of all stripes, from liberal Christians to radical Islamists.


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June 29 & 30: Shabbat Shalom!

By Joe Katzman at 12:29


As many of you know, Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath. On this blog it will always be "good news" day. We will share Sufi wisdom, highlight the acts of good and decent people, and point to amazing discoveries that could benefit humanity. Other blogging days include these things as well, but today we seek to fill our entire day with that.

Today's Blogs:
  * Sufi Wisdom of the Week: Good and Bad
  * Wimbledon Partners Kick Butt, Stereotypes
  * Peggy Noonan on White-Collar Sociopaths
  * Pejman Reviews Dante
  * Return to Crown Heights


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June 28, 2002

Other Terrorists: The American Muslim Council

By Joe Katzman at 15:07

I knew the American Muslim Council were a bad lot. Kesher Talk's Howard Fineberg has done some checking, and reveals just how bad. This goes way beyond having some bad apples on board.

I don't think "terrorist front group" is too strong a term here.

As for the AMC's planned meeting with Mueller, it depends on how the FBI Director approaches this. If it's a meeting to size up the enemy before taking action, I say go ahead. If he's seriously considering listening to the AMC on anything... well, that's what public pressure is for.

Perhaps my American readers could write their Congresscritters and Senators, and create some...


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Other Cyber-Attacks: The Spamdemic Map

By Joe Katzman at 14:55

Want to know where all your spam is coming from? It's a surprisingly interconnected group, as the Spamdemic Map points out.

And if you want to do something about spam, try this Winds of Change post. If you're a non-Outlook user like me, note the links to "Blackhole lists" et. al. and either program your own filter (UNIX guru approach), or bug your ISP to use one (all others).


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Al-Qaeda and Cyber-Attacks

By Joe Katzman at 12:03

Well, this was all over the news yesterday. Seems our friends in Al-Qaeda have been playing with computers, trying to learn new things. Nasty, nasty. Thanks to Jason of Tonecluster for sending me the tip.

Can't day this is really a surprise, though. In all fairness, it was Clinton and especially Al Gore who pushed the President's Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection a few years ago, and made the issue part of the national debate. MSNBC's article is really just talking about the realization of the possibilities sketched out back then, and largely ignored by the bureaucracy until after Sept. 11th.

For a rather more graphic illustration, read John Arquila's "Cyberwar 2002" scenario in WIRED Magazine.


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Aircraft Carrier Comeback

By Joe Katzman at 03:19

For well over a decade, America has been entirely alone in having serious aircraft carriers. France's Foch flies obsolete super Etendards. Britain's Illustrious and Ark Royal were "pocket carriers" good enough to (barely) survive combat with an extended Argentinian Air Force, but not full scale battle. Russia's Kiev class cruiser-carriers were even less capable.

That's beginning to change.


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Fouad Ajami: Palestine's Deliverance

By Joe Katzman at 03:17

Foud Ajami, author of Dream Palace of the Arabs, has this to say in the June 27th Wall Street Journal:

"History grants no people, no national movement, an exemption from having to pay for choices made or evaded."
Now, where have we heard this before?

The sub-title is "can the Arabs build a normal political order?" It's a good article, all about the future in front of the Palestinians and the possibility that they will reject it and pay yet again.

My take: I firmly believe that the answer is Ajami's question is "no," and if that is the choice the consequences will be worse than just a return to the past. The Palestinians are caught in a national version of "Groundhog Day," with no escape in sight. Not to mention a crucial difference: if they choose to imitate Bill Murray and commit national suicide, they won't get to wake up and do it all again the next day.


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The Media Are Learning

By Joe Katzman at 03:16

There's an old axiom called Occam's Razor, which states that when one can explain a phenomenon in more than one way, one chooses the simplest explanation.

For example: the CIA and FBI may have had information that could have given them clues before Sept. 11 of what was coming. One can contend that it was all a deep, dark plot to increase their budgets, involving a highly coordinated action among numberous senior people, without a single leak, carried out successfully despite being an act of dubious to no benefit with a penalty of high treason on the downside. (Someone has actually argued this with me)

Or, you can imagine that hindsight is 20/20, and they screwed up, and didn't see it. Occam's Razor says to pick this explanation. Because it's so much simpler, fewer things have to be true in order to accept it.

A Blog called Occam's Toothbrush is applying this idea to recent changes he sees in media coverage of Israel-Palestine in the USA. His conclusion: some members of the media are actually changing their minds, and becoming less pro-Palestinian as time goes on.


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June 28: TGIF

By Joe Katzman at 03:16


It has been an exhausting week. Blogging will be light for a while, though Monday will feature my first Tech Central Station Column. It got a very positive reception, and will hopefully be the first of many.

Today's Blogs:
  * The Media Are Learning
  * Fouad Ajami: Palestine's Deliverance
  * Aircraft Carrier Comeback
  * Al-Qaeda and Cyber-Attacks
  * Other Cyber-Attacks: The Spamdemic Map
  * Other Terrorists: The American Muslim Council


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June 27, 2002

And Now For Something Completely Different...

By Joe Katzman at 02:28

True story: European laws which insisted that cucumbers and bananas could not be excessively curved and had to be of a certain shape were ruled "unenforceable" by Britain's High Court yesterday. The British Government is now trying to overturn this verdict... on appeal.

Sorry, there was just no way I could resist that.


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Guest Columnist: M. Simon on Energy Storage

By Joe Katzman at 02:25

Simon has been a guest columnist here on Winds of Change before, and he recently sent me a piece worthy of another online slot. I believe in guest columnists, by bloggers or even folks (like Simon) without one. It's a good way of improving the diversity of views etc. offered by Winds of Change.

If you're interested in doing a Winds of Change Guest Column, contact me.

Storage
by M. Simon

Every one needs storage. I'm not talking about that garage so full of stuff you have to park your car on the street. I'm not talking your refrigerator with the half filled bowls in the back that are so full of life. I'm not even talking that closet full of clothes that will get worn again some day.

What I am talking about is energy storage. This is a problem that has so far proved so difficult that there has been no wide spread solution. This is about to change on a number of fronts. Let me tell you about one of those fronts, mechanical energy storage - the fly wheel.


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  • Home Office: Flywheels are one of the most promising technologies for replacing read more

Grid Expectations: Renewable Energy

By Joe Katzman at 02:15

Think renewable energy sources are just the domain of greenies and enviro-nuts? Think again.

"As program director of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, Greg Watson sits at the helm of a state agency whose singular mission is to allocate its $140 million trust fund to projects in Massachusetts and New England that support the development of renewable energy technologies."
It's an enlightening interview.


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June 27: Grid Expectations

By Joe Katzman at 02:06

Today is Grid day. Energy grids are something we're well aware of, but recent advances in alternative energy are promising, as are buy/sell systems that allow people to feed power into the grid as well as taking power out. Throw in the power of silicon chips and market rules that aren't manifestly crazy (as California's were), and the possibilties are exciting.

For those asking "what does this have to do with the war on terror"... Hellooooo! Tell me where our enemies are located, again, and what they do?

Anyway, energy grids are normal things. What about computing grids? That's right, computing power as a kind of distributed utility. It's happening, it's becoming a major inroad for open-source software, and the implications for seevral important fields are profound. Winds of Change will be writing all about it soon!

Today's Blogs:
  * Grid Expectations: Renewable Energy
  * Guest Columnist: M. Simon on Energy Storage
  * And Now For Something Completely Different...


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June 26, 2002

Honouring The World's Worst Poet

By Joe Katzman at 13:30

Sorry, folks. The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy is probably wrong about this.

William Topaz McGonagall is arguably the writer of the worst poetry in the English language. The inspiration behind the Scottish practice of "poet-baiting" finally gets some posthumous recognition. I've suggested that maybe Will Warren might want to compose something in his honour, but really, the best compositions to honour the master are probably W.T's own. I mean, we couldn't really honour him with good poetry, now, could we?

FYI, I have nothing against the Scots. It's just that they seem to be doing all kinds of things that tickle my funnybone. For the record, so does Billy Connolly.


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Our Best to Dawn

By Joe Katzman at 13:18

Blogger Dawn Olsen doesn't cover the same stuff as Winds of Change, but having seen her blog I'll be the last person to complain about coverage.

Ahem. Anyway, Dawn recently told some truths about her own existence that were highly , and painful. She's having a bad week - or is that month? Actually, it's longer than that. For entirely understandable reasons.

As Saint-Exupery notes, "L'essential…l'invisibles pour les yeux." What is essential is invisible to the eye. Hence the need for truth. And a bit of caring. Please spare a bit of your time to drop by her site today, and wish her well.

My words to Dawn are thus:

"It's not the honors and the prizes and the fancy outsides of life which ultimately nourish our souls. It's the knowing that we can be trusted, that we never have to fear the truth, that the bedrock of our lives from which we make our choices is very good stuff." (ma man Rogers, of course - who else?)
You can be trusted, Dawn. You can deal with the truth, and the bedrock you've made for yourself will help you. There is no guarantee of success in this, and that's a truth spoken from experience. Success may come to you, but faithfulness to success is not the test here. The test is faithfulness to love, as I learned too late. Learn early, and whatever happens - pass.


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3 Commencement Speeches Worth Remembering

By Joe Katzman at 12:25

We've just been through the commencement speech parade. Most of them are boring and unremarkable. There are exceptions, most notably from folks like Dr. Seuss. Not to mention the recent Mr. Rogers controversy involving the nitwits at Dartmouth.

Mr. Rogers, I read that speech. You done good. Knew you would.

As today's service, I thought I'd direct everyone to a third shining example of what a commencement speech should be. It's inspiring, yes - but most of all it's honest. A quality rare in academia these days at the best of times, never more so than on commencement day. Read the whole speech yourself, or just browse some excerpts and try to guess the speaker:

"You and your generational cohorts, after all, will be responsible for the future course of civilization. But will you specifically, with all the confidence and vitality that you claim today, assume the obligations of professional, community, national or world leaders? I’ll be damned if I know...

...Once in a great while a person is confronted with a choice or a dilemma, the implications of which are so profound that its resolution might affect your life forever. But that happens rarely and to relatively few people. For most people life is long enough and varied enough to account for occasional mistakes and failures.

You might think that this is the point in my remarks that I issue a standard exhortation not to be afraid to fail. I’m not going to do that. Be afraid. Speaking from experience, failing stinks. Just don’t stop there. Don’t be undone by it. Move on. Failure is no more a permanent condition than success...

...Will you be tomorrow’s leaders? I don’t know. But I would be proud and grateful if you were. Congratulations and good luck."

Still trying to guess the speaker? Follow this link and see for yourself...


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June 26: To Tell the Truth

By Joe Katzman at 12:25

I'll go first. More often than we'd care to admit, we don't really want to hear the truth. It's not comfortable, and most folks would rather be comfortable most of the time. Yet there are times when truth is necessary (recall the "say it test" from our June 8th Sufi Wisdom feature).

If we're habituated to not telling it, and not hearing it... well, just look at the entire Arab world, OK? Not a pretty picture, and they've mostly done it to themselves. So today we're going to spend time with some truth tellers.

Today's Blogs:
  * 3 Commencement Speeches Worth Remembering
  * Our Best to Dawn
  * Honouring The World's Worst Poet


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June 25, 2002

Military Airlift: The Hidden Hand

By Joe Katzman at 02:46

Another reference from Dan Hartung, who points me at this Washington Post article about the importance of the USA's military airlift capability and future plans for it. Dan correctly notes:

"Nobody had ever done anything like it before - and pretty much nobody has ever done anything like it since. It's something nobody else has, and it's something on which our allies silently rely."
They surely do. Canada does, and even Germany depended on it to get its troops into Afghanistan.

In a world where America may have to operate without friendly bases, military airlift is an important issue. In retrospect, the C-17 was a totally visionary program that may have done more to influence America's military punch than any other weapons system in the last 15 years:

"It's not glamorous," retired Gen. Charles T. Robinson Jr., then head of the U.S. Transportation Command, told a Senate Armed Services subcommittee a little over a year ago. "We don't got bombs. It's just that no bombs get dropped until we act first. Nothing happens until something moves."
True enough. But airlift alone won't suffice.

Yes, airlift capability needs to be improved... certainly more than the USA needs the F-22 Raptor fighter, for instance. And Army initiatives like the air-transportable Interim Brigade Combat Teams will help them leverage the airlift advantage even more. But America is fundamentally a maritime power, and the volumes that can be moved via sealift are vastly greater than airlift allows. That's why USMC concepts like "seabasing" and pilot programs like Westpac Express are also critically important in America's evolution toward Expeditionary Warfare.


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George Schultz & The U.S. State Dept.

By Joe Katzman at 02:12

There was a lot of noise recently about Bush's West Point speech, and whether it signalled a new policy of "Hot Pre-emption". As Dan Hartung of LakeFX notes, that policy's public unveiling comes from another George: George Schultz, to be specific. Lots of good links to give you solid background on the new thinking and its critics.

I like his post's conclusion, coined by Brad DeLong: "...in the end, the worst failing of a non-interventionist policy is that it's a declaration of the rights of thugs." True.

I was even more enamored of the closing thoughts in Schultz' speech. They should be put on a huge plaque and hung in the State Department, because they accurately describe much of what's wrong with the place:

"Let me conclude with a story from my time in office.  When an ambassador had made it through the hurdles of nomination and confirmation, I invited him or her to my office and said, "Before you can leave, you have one more test. Go over to that globe and show me that you can identify your country." Without exception, the ambassador-to-be spun the globe and located the country to which he would be posted.

One day, the late Mike Mansfield, already many years our Ambassador to Japan and an old friend from my previous times in the Cabinet, came in for a visit just before he was to return to Tokyo. I told him about my little test and said, "Mike, how about you?" He and I laughed. And he went to the globe. Mike put his hand on the United States and said, "Here's my country."

In this setting, dedicated to representation, always remember Mike's words..."

About time someone said that.


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7 (or 8?) Signs of Loser States

By Joe Katzman at 02:06

If Bush sticks to his guns, he has just done the Palestinians a big favour. Not only because it may help them avert the tragedy they're headed into, but because any Palestinian "state" would inevitably be a failed monstrosity under present conditions - even if all of the terrorism disappeared tomorrow.

The reason goes deeper than politics, and into the underlying culture and conditions that form the foundations of any polity.

People have agreed for centuries that these underlying conditions are critical to the success of nations, even as they disagreed quite sharply over the exact composition of the list. I certainly agree with the idea of a list. After all, if stealing technology was all it took the French would rule the world. The question is, which list?

One list source worth your time is Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (USA, Ret.), whose Spring 1998 article in the US Army War College Quarterly PARAMETERS is called "Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States."

Ralph writes:


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June 25: New Realities

By Joe Katzman at 02:04


Let's hope so. Winds of Change gives you some mental tools to help navigate them.

Today's Blogs:
  * The Palestinians' Grand Strategy (updated)
  * 7 Signs of Loser States
  * The New Doctrine of 'Hot Pre-emption'
  * Military Airlift: The Hidden Hand


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June 24, 2002

Palestinian Strategy: Go See!

By Joe Katzman at 21:40

This one deserves its exclamation mark. STRATFOR, an analysis group whose historic record is of zero preference and dispassionate analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, dropped a shocker today with its assessment of Palestinian strategy:

"From a strategic standpoint, the Palestinian suicide bombings may seem incompatible with the goal of attaining statehood. But when this tactic is viewed as a means toward achieving a transformation of the entire Islamic world, then the rationale behind it comes into sharp relief. And if this is the goal, then the Palestinians and al Qaeda are now serving each other's interests."
There's more. Much more. It's a public access article now, so read it all here.

Note that STRATFOR is not saying there's a formal alliance. What they're saying is that the Palestinians' long-term goals have essentially become one and the same as Al-Qaeda's: pan-Islamic revolution and the destruction of Israel. Nothing else seems to make sense in light of their actions. In their words:

"The answer lies in what must be a fundamental strategic shift on the part of the Palestinians. They no longer see the creation of a rump Palestinian state as a feasible or desirable end. Rather, despite the hardship of an extremely extended struggle, they have moved toward a strategy whose only goal must be the destruction of Israel. Since that is hardly likely to happen any time soon, the Palestinians must see forces at work in the Islamic world that make this goal conceivable and not just a fantasy."
Forces like those that fellow blogger "Invisible Hand" found while hanging out in an Islamic web site's discussion zone. Which match well with recent studies and polling data (see end of article) that strongly corroborate STRATFOR's analysis.

Does President Bush's June 24, 2002 speech on Palestine change anything? No. And yes. No, it won't change the Palestinian strategy or Arafat's approach. Yes, it will change Israel's political calculus.

Arafat has heard the speech, and understands the consequences. He also understands that the strategies of his ally Saddam Hussein have worked against similar efforts before, and that Arafat starts in a stronger position than Saddam did with the EU et. al. Expect, therefore, to see a "Saddam strategy" that revolves around promises made and broken, shell games with verification, and a step-up in execution of 'collaborators' within Palestinian areas. All this should be achievable, and there is little his enemies can do about it.

At the same time, Bush's very public endorsement of the two-state solution when Palestinians are ready to negotiate strongly constrains Israel with respect to potential "transfer" solutions. Barring a truly spectacular terrorist event, of course.

That isn't necessarily good news for Yasser. If forcing the Palestinians out is not at all an option, and Arafat ensconces himself at the nexus of Palestinian politics even more firmly and begins to play "Saddam games," the benefits of killing him rise significantly. With Arafat dead, the resulting scramble for power removes Saddam tactics options, and may make the nature of the Palestinian strategy even more clear if Hamas et. al. come out on top. This would end the strategy and precipitate open conflict, one which Israel would win. The case thus moves rapidly from "why Arafat must not die" to "why he must."

To my mind, sending Arafat into exile would be a serious strategic mistake. If his strategy is to create a Gordian knot for his enemies, then that knot must be cut and the consequences borne while he is still within Israel's easy grasp.

Like Den Beste, I believe this conflict has simply gone beyond negotiated options. The Palestinians have inculcated too much hatred, too deeply, at all levels of society. The resulting culture is profoundly sick in the same way that Germany and Japan's culture were fundamentally sick pre-WWII, and will probably require a similar scale of defeat before progress is possible.

That defeat could happen via direct confrontation, or via a comprehensive defeat of the states using them as proxies. It will almost certainly end up as a bit of both. Alas, anything else risks unmitigated disaster, with a body count in the millions.

As I've noted before, this is the Zen paradox of the Middle East: "until the Palestinians abandon hope, they cannot be allowed to have any." For all of our sakes.

UPDATE: Steven Den Beste of USS Clueless has his own in-depth analysis. Start reading here and keep going for the next 2 posts. Amish Tech Support says that if Colin Powell is still around in 2 months, this speech will be just hot air and "Saddam tactics" will have won. Based on what I've seen from Powell over the last 3 months, it's hard to argue.


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Fair BBC Report on Israel: Go See...

By Joe Katzman at 16:35

In other news, there have recently been reports of a fair and balanced BBC report on the situation in Israel, and on Israel's chosen strategies in the Palestinian territories. The Air Force is chalking the sighting up to weather balloons in the Bonnybridge area, and most locals interviewed by this reporter appeared skeptical of the claims.


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  • Gawen: He knows much who knows how to hold his tongue. read more

Real Aliens: Go See...

By Joe Katzman at 16:30

...Scotland! Aye, laddie, 'tis the glorious Highlands that attract the largest concentration of UFO sightings on the glooobe! Slashdot has the details, and the commentary. Best entries include:

  • "Unfortunately the report fails to mention that many of those alleged abductions were actually made by sheep, who tell tales of being abducted from their pens and rectally probed." [eyeball]
  • "Come for the Haggis, stay for the anal probes." [I_want_you_to_throw_on]
  • "Methinks the aliens saw the scene in "Braveheart" where William Wallace and his men mooned the English, and considered it a welcoming invitation to visit." [Littleguy]
  • "UFO sitings may be higher in remote areas, but I think the frequency of sightings can be more closely correlated to the alcohol consumption rate in a given area." [zerofoo]
  • "It's probably just a bunch of Thermians visiting the birthplace of Mr. Scott." [NanoGator]
  • (In response to "there are more ways of looking at this universe than through the beady eyes of rationalism.") "Hear, hear. I, for example, think that I hatched from a divine egg; that the world is secretly ruled by the dairy industry; and that robots are stealing my luggage. I cannot tell you how much these irrational beliefs have enriched my life." [gryptpype]
  • "i don't think its population density as much as a dense population." [Patrick13]
  • "The battle against human stupidity is never ending." [Dark Paladin]
  • "In other news, Angus Podgorney just received an order for 48,000,000 kilts [slightlywarped.com] from the planet Skyron."
  • "I live not far from Bonnybridge. I wouldn't call it the arsehole of the universe, because arseholes have a use." [Rogersborg]
  • "Strange creatures in strange garb, from a faraway place, speaking a strange language (the accent gets deep enough...) and with no apparent knowledge of human (or at least local) customs. and they're always trying to 'probe' the local women (not to mention the sheep)...I think that most of these sightings were actually Americans..." [darkonc]
  • "...Ah have crippling arthritis in my index fingers. I got it in 1979 from Space Invaders." - Groundskeeper Willie
    "Yeah, that was a pretty addictive video game." - Chief Wiggum
    "Video game?" [Codex the sloth]
And remember... if it's not Scottish, it's CRAP!


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  • emiljano: i am askin u are aliens real just explain it read more
  • Joe Kidd: Current UFO News, articles and reports. Huge UFO archive read more
  • Francheska: I dont think is real. that's all i got to read more

Wildfires & Global Warming: Go See...

By Joe Katzman at 10:20

...Dangerous Meta, whose weekend piece has some great information on global warming, and the underlying causes and issues behind the recent huge wildfires.

Here are the short versions...

Warming:

The current phase in the [1,800 year long] cycle suggests that a natural warming trend began a hundred years ago, increased in the 1970s, and should continue over the next five centuries.

The researchers suggest that strong oceanic tides drive changes in climate due to their ability to increase vertical mixing in the ocean and thereby transport cold ocean water to the surface. The strong tides elicit cool conditions on the sea surface, which in turn lowers temperatures in air and over land, resulting in cooler climates around the planet, often accompanied by drought conditions. Weak tides lead to less cold water mixing and result in warmer periods on Earth.

Fires:

  1. past policies of preventing fires has created forests choked with dense undergrowth and dead wood.
  2. forests are drier than in previous decades.
  3. well-meaning environmentalists are stonewalling the [clearing] process.
  4. 'controlled burns' are a myth, because of the above three items.
  5. pristine 'empty' forests are a myth, too.
  6. our forests are often the watersheds for counties and towns.
Enlightening stuff, from a blogger worth checking out.

UPDATE: Follow Me Here also references the dangerousmeta post, and has some good additional materials on the wildfires issue.


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Movie Recommendation: Go See...

By Joe Katzman at 10:17

...Lilo & Stitch. So nice to see a good Disney movie again. If some of the other trailers I saw are any indication, this may be the start of a new roll for The House The Mouse Built.


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June 24: Go See...

By Joe Katzman at 10:11


They say that seeing is believing. Sounds like a good theme for the day.

Today's Blogs:
  * Movie Recommendation: Go See...
  * Wildfires & Global Warming: Go See...
  * Real Aliens: Go See...
  * Fair BBC Report on Israel: Go See...
  * The Palestinians' Strategy: Go See!


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June 22, 2002

Bruce Hill Gets It

By Joe Katzman at 23:08

Bruce Hill gets Baba Taher's injunction. Like most Sufi injunctions, it works on a number of levels. McCain and Clinton have talked about a politico-cultural application of this principle. Hossein Derakshan shows us how any of us can step forth and live the principle as both receiver and giver.

Those are deeply admirable things. They are not what a Sufi truly seeks.

A much closer reading can be found in Bruce Hill's June 14 Shabbat writings. They make Baba Taher's spiritual point in the context of another religion, but as a Sufi, Taher would surely recognize the kinship.


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John McCain on Citizenship

By Joe Katzman at 23:08

I like John McCain. Speeches like this are a big part of the reason why. In many ways, his thrust is similar to Clinton's (insert wisecrack here). Humour aside, it's an important subject and an enjoyable read.


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I Agree With Clinton

By Joe Katzman at 23:07

Yes, as in Bill Clinton, ex-President of the United States. He's right about this issue of citizen service.


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My Thanks To More Great Givers

By Joe Katzman at 23:07

Time to practice what Taher preaches. Not just by thanking my girlfriend for the things she gives me every day (just did), but also by following Taher's injunction here in the blogosphere.

As a person who uses Blogger every day in order to reach others, I would be deeply remiss if I did not acknowledge Pyra Labs founder Evan Williams and his team, the extraordinary and generous Dan Bricklin (first via VisiCalc and now with Blogger) and Dave Winer.

People like you made it possible for Hossein Derakshan to do what he did. They also make it possible for me to do what I do. Maybe some day my achievements will catch up to Hossein. In the meantime, for all I've been allowed to give and receive through this medium you have my profound thanks.


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  • Kehinde: Can anyone out there help me please. I need to read more

Hossein Helps Iranians "Live in Truth"

By Joe Katzman at 23:06

Andrew Sullivan and Nick Denton have written about this phenomenon already. It's a great Shabbat highlight, with an important lesson.

For those unfamilliar with the story, Hossein Derakshan came to Canada from Iran. In September of 2001, he discovered blogging... and soon decided to share his discovery. Hossein posted instructions on his blog, explaining to his readers how they could start Farsi-language blogs of their own.

Over 1,200 Iranian bloggers, many of them in Iran, have taken Hossein up on his offer in the last few months. Many of those bloggers are women, who now have a public voice for the first time - albeit an anonymous one in many cases.

Think about the impact of that for a minute.

That's 1,200 writers, plus all the readers they reach, plus the people who will now get inspired and start virtually untraceable blogs of their own. All in a brutal theocracy that has been trying very, very hard to shut down the independent press outlets Hossein once worked for, yet can't reasonably disconnect from the Internet. The result is a spreading social movement for "living in truth" - and that is no small thing.

Farsi readers can find his web log here. Or perhaps you would prefer his English web log instead?

He's a remarkable receiver, and giver, of a remarkable gift.

Hossein did all this as an individual. But he didn't do it alone. The web infrastructure left in the aftermath of the dot-com bubble and those individuals who worked to make Blogger et. al. the public resource it is today. Many, many people worked hard to "do the right thing," with the results we now see in Iran, thanks to Hossein.

Think about them the next time you wonder if you can possibly make a difference. You can. If you really want to, you will. Often in unforseen and unforseeable ways.


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  • ss@shamsifard.com: Your welcome to www.shamsifard.com read more
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Sufi Wisdom: The Gift & the Giver

By Joe Katzman at 23:06

As militant Islam does its level best to discredit the religion, it's important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, the Islamic mystics who live islam (submission), iman (faith) and ishan (awareness of G-d, "to act beautifully"). Every Saturday, we share some of their wisdom. For instance:

"Whoever is content with the gift and does not see the giver, his heart is attentive only to the gift and neglectful of the Giver."
  -- Baba Tahir
This weekend's posts all revolve around this wise saying.


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June 22 & 23: Shabbat Shalom!

By Joe Katzman at 23:03


As many of you know, Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath. On this blog it will always be "good news" day. We will share Sufi wisdom, highlight the acts of good and decent people, and point to amazing discoveries that could benefit humanity. Other blogging days include these things as well, but today we seek to fill our entire day with that.

FYI, we have good news and proper conduct at last on the SFSU front... more about this on Monday.

Today's Blogs:
  * Sufi Wisdom of the Week: The Gift & The Giver
  * Hossein Helps Iranians "Live in Truth"
  * My Thanks To More Great Givers
  * I Agree With Clinton
  * John McCain on Citizenship
  * Bruce Hill Gets It


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June 21, 2002

Hollywood vs. You

By Joe Katzman at 01:26

The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Cory Doctorow pens a scathing blog piece about the anti-consumer maneuverings (once again) at the big studios and movie houses.

Bottom line: The people who tried to take away your VCR are at it again. Some excerpts...

"The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) filed the "Content Protection Status Report" with the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, laying out its plan to remake the technology world to suit its own ends. The report calls for regulation of analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), generic computing components found in scientific, medical and entertainment devices. Under its proposal, every ADC will be controlled by a "cop-chip" that will shut it down if it is asked to assist in converting copyrighted material -- your cellphone would refuse to transmit your voice if you wandered too close to the copyrighted music coming from your stereo.

The report shows that this ADC regulation is part of a larger agenda. The first piece of that agenda, a mandate that would give Hollywood a veto over digital television technology, is weeks away from coming to fruition. Hollywood also proposes a radical redesign of the Internet to assist in controlling the distribution of copyrighted works.

This three-part agenda -- controlling digital media devices, controlling analog converters, controlling the Internet -- is a frightening peek at Hollywood's vision of the future.

...Hollywood's legislative agenda may be ridiculous, but it is hardly unlikely."

I have a certain amount of sympathy for producers of copyrighted works. Everyone has the right to make a living. That sympathy turns to anger in a hurry, however, when it becomes an excuse for Big Brother behaviours and proposals that would block lawful conduct and inhibit innovation. The RIAA and MPAA crossed that line a long time ago, and if they're not brought to heel in a hurry we're going to find that private sector oligarchs can be every bit as much a threat to our privacy and liberties as any government agency.

I'm a big backer of the private sector. But this is not what I signed on for.


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The Crusader Controversy & Military Transformation

By Joe Katzman at 01:26

The Crusader is an advanced 70-ton artillery system that is self-propelled, like a tank. Right now, Donald Rumsfeld is doing his best to kill the program and stop production. The White House is issuing veto threats in order to keep Congress from reinstating it.

What's going on here? A bigger story than you see.

James S. Robbins has a great piece in National Review, explaining the Crusader controversy, what's behind it, and how this fits with the idea of military transformation. That proposed transformation, which is connected to 4th Generation Warfare but encompasses more, is the larger story. Crusader is a bellweather that tells us how far this might go. An excerpt:

"But transformation is not simply getting newer, sexier pieces of gear, it is a means of reconceptualizing threat assessment and balancing risks with resources in a rapidly changing global-security environment. In the transformational age, that mere fact that a weapon is good isn't good enough. The system has to be balanced against the type of threat it is meant to deal with and the resources required producing it."
Since our collective "explusion from the Magic Kingdom" on Sept. 11, these debates matter to all of us. Good job by James Robbins here, and good links to more information. Have a look.

My take: The Crusader is a great artillery system. Alas, it's a solution looking for a problem. It's ill-suited to Expeditionary Forces that deploy quickly, and unnecessary for many Third-World environments. The battles in Afghanistan would not have been helped by the Crusader, for instance, because it would have been almost impossible to transport and supply it there. But a smaller mobile system that could have been airlifted to Shah-i-Kot would have made a big difference.

These days, we need to have other priorities. I don't believe that precision bombs and aircraft can replace artillery, because the lead time between request and delivery is too long. I do, however, believe that existing artillery will suffice for now. Programs like HIMARS and upgrade/improvement efforts can help fill in some gaps and give the USA rapidly-deployable forces that will be effective against most enemies it is likely to face. The $11 billion requested for the Crusader will buy a lot of those.

Meanwhile, if Americans run up against massed artillery formations with longer range... that would be a very fat target for their wonderful air support. After which mobile but shorter range American artillery could move in, and go on pounding the enemy.


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Is Ted Turner a Bigot?

By Joe Katzman at 01:25

Most of you are familiar with the latest Ted Turner controversy. There was a kerfuffle after that, with some wondering if Ted might have had darker motives for his outburst.

I thought that was loony. Until now:

"...That just makes him sound like some relatively harmless blowhard when, in fact, he is a dyed-in-the-wool and very dangerous hater of the Jews....

I witnessed his anti-Semitism three decades ago in Newport, R.I., while covering America's Cup campaigns for months at a time. Turner was a total embarrassment to the yachting establishment (itself a pretty prejudiced lot at the time) with his crude anti-Jewish "jokes." They often had to drag him out of post-race press conferences for fear of what he might say."

Normally, I don't pay attention to features like this. But Neal Travis of the NY Post is speaking from experience in his June 20 article, and he put his name behind the story. As surprised and disappointed as I am by his conclusion, I believe him.


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  • David: Not only does Ted Turner hate Jews, but he hates read more

Campus Klansmen and Cowards

By Joe Katzman at 01:25

In this FoxNews.com column, Glenn "InstaPundit" Reynolds noted that:

"...If it is not addressed, last week’s riot may be next week’s — or next year’s — politically motivated murder.

Such may seem unthinkable to Americans, but we saw such behavior on college campuses thirty-five years ago, and we’re seeing such behavior in Europe now. The tolerance of smaller-scale violence and illegality by university administrators has laid the foundation for worse in the future, unless swift action establishes an example that such acts are not tolerated."

So far, the reaction continues to be cowardly at best, evil at worst. More to come about this on Monday, but meanwhile let me draw your attention to a few recent incidents and posts:
  • SFSU: More bad faith from the university administration. It is becoming clearer by the day that they'd rather let their longstanding problem with hatred on their campus fester... it's easier that way.Mac's Temporary Blog has the details.
  • Berkeley: Amygdala dissects anti-semitism there, adding yet more weight to the case that anti-semitism has become a staple of the radical left.
  • UCal San Diego: Instapundit chimes in yet again, and asks me to "take it away..." Gladly. Basically, what we have here is a Hispanic equivalent of the Ku Klux Klan at the University of California San Diego. Which is just fine with the university's administration, who are happy not only to tolerate them on campus, but to subsidize them as well.
  • SFSU has a similar situation ongoing. In my opinion, Erin O'Connor of Cant Watch is the best campus issues blogger out there. She's doing up a piece for publication on Monday.
I've given a lot of thought to what it will take to change these campus dynamics, and come to some conclusions. Sharing those in full will be a post for another day, but here are 3 insights:
  1. The structure of the campaign for fixing our campuses looks a lot like our model for victory in Afghanistan.
  2. The demographic window dictates our time frame and operational tempo.
  3. Alumni will be the conflict's center of gravity.
Perhaps the winds are not now in our favour, but we may have faith that winds of change shall come. Victory is not in sight, yet it is not beyond our power to see. That we should lose this battle, in our very citadels of reason and enquiry, is incomprehensible to the spirit of a free people. That spirit will be called upon in the coming years. Should it truly wake, the winds will come at last - and not one brick shall be left of the rotten and corrupt edifices that the merchants of cowardice and hate have built on our campuses.

UPDATE: Sardonic Views and faithful WoC correspondent Judith Weiss both pointed out this UPI report, which adds new information to the UCSD situation. Not very flattering to UCSD administrators.


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June 21: Crusaders of ill omen

By Joe Katzman at 01:07


Sorry about the DNS outages over the past couple of days, folks. My ISP is better now, and Winds of Change is back! Today's posts are all about a set of crusaders we could really do without.

Lots of emails and comments came in about my widely-linked "Biochemical Terrorism: A Scenario and its Consequences" post. Some of them made me think, and I've done a bit more research in some areas. The newly-revised version alters some actions and makes some rationales a bit clearer. Regardless, the key point - which is the gravity of the situation Palestinian terrorism could be leading us into - remains.

Unless an asteroid gets us first, of course.

Today's Blogs:
  * Revised "Biochemical Terrorism" Scenario
  * Campus Klansmen and Cowards
  * Is Ted Turner a Bigot?
  * The Crusader & Military Transformation
  * Hollywood vs. You


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June 20, 2002

A Different Liberalism?

By Joe Katzman at 03:48

Armed Liberal has been giving serious thought lately to how liberal policies might change in the coming years. He's still in the preliminary stages, but some of those thoughts are interesting.

The key, for him, is the government's inescapable role in creating "social capital."

Which means that government has to find a way to take on these roles effectively, which I don’t believe it has done. It’s taken them on, but I don’t believe that it has been as effective as we need and want it to be; and I’ll suggest that our view of government action would be substantially different if we felt it was effective.
A.L. discuses those ideas in a bit more depth, then applies some new thinking to key areas like the environment, public health, etc.


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Western vs. Islamic Law

By Joe Katzman at 03:48

You can take the blogger out of the essays, but you can't take the essays out of the blogger. Donald Sensing's "Western Law, Islamic Law and the Ordering of Society" takes an in-depth look at the differences between our legal philosophies... and how that relates to the underlying mindsets in the West and in the Islamic world. He sub-titles it "What's at stake in the struggle with Arab-Muslim terrorists," and that characterization isn't too far off the mark. As he puts it:

I am increasingly concluding that long-term peaceful co-existence between Arabysmalia and the West is not possible as each side is presently ordered. Wrenching social, legal and perhaps religious transformations of the most fundamental kind are in order for one of us.

And it had better be them.

We really are facing a very different opponent, folks, with a very different way of thinking. Read Donald, and you'll begin to grasp how different.


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More Churchill

By Joe Katzman at 03:47

A few folks wrote me yesterday in appreciation of the Churchill quote yesterday. Here's more. National Review just published some great excerpts from a book on Churchill that discusses his role as a wartime leader.

There's a lot of reading in those excerpts, but I promise you this: If you read them, you will be in a much better position to evaluate what's going on around you today. The excerpts come in 3 parts:

To give you a taste, here's an excerpt:
"Few historical figures escape revisions of their worth as statesmen; this is particularly true of wartime leaders, and especially true of Winston Churchill. Although some presidents and prime ministers have had their reputations rise (Harry Truman, most notably) or remain the same (Lincoln comes to mind), such reexamination usually chips away at the historical statuary rather than polishing it. In the case of Churchill the critique is particularly interesting, because it goes not only to the question of the character and ity of the British leader but to the essence of the activity in which he engaged — the creation of strategy. The revision downward of Churchill's worth as a war leader implies not only a changed view of the man but a changed view of what strategy is in wartime and how it is fashioned, for Churchill is the 20th-century war statesman par excellence."
That he is. And the strategic activity in which he engaged is needed by our leadership, now more than ever.


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Den Beste on Israel's New Policy

By Joe Katzman at 03:46

Enter USS Clueless captain Steven Den Beste.

Contrary to the title, he's one of the more perceptive bloggers out there and has been for quite some time. His recent analysis of Israel's new strategy will greatly improve your understanding of the issues and choices at play.

The part I wonder about is the effect of this new policy on Israel's manpower resources. If the Palestinians do keep up their attacks, they'll not only suck Israel into a string of urban combat situations - they'll also force it to maintain occupying forces to police the towns they repossess. The intelligence benefits from this kind of sustained occupation will be real. But so will the costs. This is not a trivial manpower drain, and the new policy leaves no exit strategy if the terror does not stop.

If it's not effective in fairly short order, I have questions about this policy's economic and manpower sustainability. Which is why the logical next escalation step if Israel finds itself stretched is to begin not just occupying Palestinian towns, but clearing them out and demolishing them.

At that point, the "transfer" policy discussed thus far only in whispers will begin to become reality, taking on a momentum all its own.

UPDATE: Off The Pine's record of consistently excellent comments on Israeli issues is intact. Michael correctly notes that for reasons that transcend partisan politics, the Labour Party will remain supportive but look for an exit strategy. This will provide some counterbalance to the "transfer" proposals. A combination of the struggle between these visions and Palestidiot actions will determine the result.


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Amish Tech Support's Thought Experiment

By Joe Katzman at 03:45

This one has been popular. Usually I'd go find something else to link - but if you haven't seen it yet, this blog post is too worthwhile to miss. You'll never listen to suicide bomber reports on CNN quite the same way again.

The question is, what to do about it?


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June 20: Seeing the Difference, Making A Difference

By Joe Katzman at 03:44


The Winds of Change Q2 2002 Table of Contents (see navigation at left) now reaches back to mid-April. I'll keep extending it back a day or three at a time, and pretty soon it will be complete.

Lots of emails and comments coming on about my widely-linked "Biochemical Terrorism: A Scenario and its Consequences" post. Some of them are making me think, and I've done a bit more research in some areas. I may post a changed version tomorrow, which alters some actions and makes some rationales a bit clearer. Regardless, the key point - which is the gravity of the situation Palestinian terrorism could be leading us into - remains.

Today's Blogs:
  * Amish Tech Support's Thought Experiment
  * Den Beste on Israel's New Policy
  * More Churchill
  * Western vs. Islamic Law
  * Armed Liberal on a Different Liberalism


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June 19, 2002

New Outlook Plug-In Fights Email Spam

By Joe Katzman at 14:40

I hate spam. You hate spam. You know, those stock scams, multi-level marketing scams, and graphic porn ads they send you and your kids? Right, those. You already pay for it, via increased ISP fees for the infrastructure they need to store and deal with it.

Some estimates place its growth at 500% last year, thanks to the economics of "I can piss off 100,000 if it nets me one sucker." Often, the real sucker is the yutz who paid for the spamware, a particularly virulent form of viral transmission.

For various reasons, including lobbyist pressure from the Direct Marketing Association, real legislative solutions aren't immediately at hand.

Now, some of you may be lucky enough to have an ISP who uses Brightmail, or a combination of various "Black Hole Lists" to filter spam. This works, sort of. Now a company called Cloudmark may have found a way to use Napster-like P2P technology in order to fight spam much more effectively.

If you use Outlook, this is absolutely worth a look. You can even subscribe individually!


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  • Dan: One more thing … Spam bully integrates perfectly with Outlook read more
  • Dan: Spambully is one of the best Outlook plug-in I ever read more

Tech-itis: "Version Fatigue"

By Joe Katzman at 14:12

Glenn "InstaPundit" Reynolds observes that he has less and less time for new devices. He used to spend time learning all their features; now he doesn't.

Neither do I now. And most people would call me a techie.

Glenn's explanation of "version fatigue" is completely rational. It should be read by every computer programmer, electronics manufacturer, and web designer out there.

UPDATE: Eric Raymond says he's doing just fine, and has some answers to Glenn's problem.


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Indonesia: Storing Up Trouble

By Joe Katzman at 14:04

It's great to see Fred Pruitt's "core dump %" back up and going again, in his usual style of reporting the news with sharp commentary interlaced. While I enjoyed the new stuff a lot, one of his old posts is still very relevant.

It's about Indonesia.

Most people don't think much of Indonesia. It's the largest Muslim country in the world by population, made up of hundreds of islands in the South Pacific. It has its own growing problem with Islamists, and areas of the country are already lawless havens. It's the sort of place where you wouldn't be surprised to find an 80-year old Japanese soldier who wasn't aware the war had ended.

If I was an Al-Qaeda terrorist and wanted to lie low, this is where I'd hide.

Which seems to be happening - Malaysia, Singapore, the Phillipines et. al. are getting steadily more annoyed as they consistently trace local terrorist activities back to... Indonesia. Then there's the systematic murder and persecution of Christians by Islamist groups, while the military turns a blind eye. Fred has the goods.

The whole place is a barely-stable balance, but other than naval moves to protect the integrity of shipping the area will not become a focus of the War on Terror any time soon. Indonesia isn't strategic enough to warrant military attention. But it is a very big storehouse for trouble, which means you can expect a lot of intelligence activity by the USA, India, China, et. al.


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Churchill's Words Speak to Us

By Joe Katzman at 13:40

"The Counter-Revolutionary" is on a mission to restore liberalism - says so himself. I particularly liked his recent excerpt from Winston Churchill's book The Gathering Storm, in which he writes about the run-up to WWII:

"In their loss of purpose, in their abandonment even of the themes they most sincerely espoused, Britain, France, and most of all, because of their immense power and impartiality, the United States, allowed conditions to be gradually built up which led to the very climax they dreaded most. They have only to repeat the same well-meaning, short-sighted behavior towards the new problems which in singular resemblance confront us today to bring about a third convulsion from which none may live to tell the tale."
Attention all watchers of Mideast policy: sound familiar?

I think so too. Go and read the rest!


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Guest Columnist: "Hope"

By Guest Author at 13:32

Bruce Hill came up with the "guest columnist" idea a while ago, in which he submitted a very good post to fellow blogger Josh Trevino's i330 site and vice-versa. I quite liked the idea. After yesterday's post about "Biochemical Terrorism: A Scenario and its Consequences," I have just decided to take the "Guest Blogger" concept a step further.

Simon doesn't have a blog, but he's a smart guy. He sent me a very intelligent email the other day. Which, with his permission, becomes his Guest Column on Winds of Change...

They'll Quit When They Lose All Hope
by M. Simon

I have been re-reading one of my favorite books on military history lately. The name of the book is "Strategy" by Basil Henry Liddell (B.H.L.) Hart. The book was first published in 1929 under the title "The Decisive Wars of History". The edition I'm reading was first published in 1967.

The book is mainly about warfare. Two thousand five hundred years of warfare. From the battle at Marathon to the Arab-Israeli war of 1948-49 (this section was written by Yigael Yadin, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army at the time.) The two major sections of the book cover WWI and WWII. By studying the various battles, how the soldiers reacted, what the generals and admirals did, how the battles affected heads of state and the people of the various countries involved he came to a very simple conclusion:

When it comes to dealing with people or battles butting heads is seldom effective. The indirect approach usually works better and is more economical.

Let us look at an example of the indirect approach to battle and then see how the idea applies to other parts of life where humans are involved: the current oil war. The direct strikes are to gather people's attention. The real war is economic.

The question is will the current oil powers be able to maintain their economic power. The answer is no. First American technologists are working with other countries besides the Arab countries to help them increase their oil and gas output. Second technologies are coming on line to nearly double the efficiency of use of current energy supplies. Like a combined cycle fuel cell and gas turbine electric plant that turns an astounding 80 percent of the fuel into electricity. A third point is that America is installing wind power at an astounding rate with the size of the standard installed turbine doubling over the last two years from three quarters of a megawatt to one point five megawatts. Each doubling of size only increases cost by a factor of one point five. That means a cost reduction of twenty five percent. With more to come.

In time, despite some battlefield wins, their power based on control of the worlds energy supplies is on the decline due to the emergence of new technology in the use and production of energy. So the new technology becomes an indirect attack on the oil fascists. They have no counter weapon because the advance of technology is more diffuse than their attacks. Even if the attacks are diffuse compared to normal warfare.

They are already beaten. They just don't know it.

In winning any modern war, truth is essential at the strategic level. Goals must be honestly stated although deception as to methods and timing are certainly to be expected. In the war against the communists the lies of the communists about the real nature of the two systems could not paper over what the people under Communism were promised and yet only the western capitalists managed to deliver. Again, here, the main war was economic and cultural. The troops were to there to deter military action while economics did the real work.

What is common to war against all fascist societies is that they do not give up their ambitions of dominance until the leaders and people are completely without hope. Some like the Soviet Union come to this conclusion by rational calculation and change before military conquest is necessary. Others like the National Socialists in Germany needed a military occupation because of their preference for war.

America has dealt with both kinds of fascist before. We will deal with this new batch according to the rationality of their decisions. If they insist on a war to the death it is going to be theirs not ours.

I think America and Americans would love nothing more than a peaceful world based on mutual respect and commerce. No force, no fraud. None of this convert to our religion or else. The great genius of founders of this country was the separation of church and state.

What the separation of church and state means is that the job of government is only to be the guardian of public morals. Private morals are up to the individual. The funny thing is if we keep our public morals the private one's tend to come in line as well. In public we must be honest in our dealings with each other, give good service, and work to keep the peace. If we follow this in our public lives our private lives in time will follow. Every time we have seriously deviated from this ideal of the separation of moral spaces we have come to grief.

Alcohol prohibition is the most noted failure whose cycle we have completed. Drug prohibition is our current most serious deviation from the ideal of the separation of church and state. There is no doubt of the grief we are suffering because of that deviation. Enriched criminal gangs and massive state spending on prisons are just two of the many undesirable side effects of this moral crusade. But like every other moral crusade it's proponents will not give up until they lose all hope.

Hope is what keeps wars going. Loss of hope ends them.

(c) M. Simon - All rights reserved. M. Simon is an industrial controls designer and Free Market Green.

Simon Says: "If you would like to find out more about how our limited government is supposed to work go to my web page for the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, and other good stuff. Free. Pass it on."


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June 19: Other Voices

By Joe Katzman at 13:32


The Winds of Change Q2 2002 Table of Contents (see navigation at left) now reaches back to mid-April. I'll keep extending it back a day or three at a time, and pretty soon it will be complete.

I'm mostly going to let other folks speak today. Partly because time is tight on my end. Partly because they've got such great things to say.

Today's Blogs:
  * Guest Columnist: "Hope"
  * Churchill's Words Speak to Us
  * Indonesia: Storing Up Trouble
  * Tech-itis: "Version Fatigue"
  * New Outlook Plug-In Fights Email Spam


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June 18, 2002

Biochemical Terrorism: A Scenario

By Joe Katzman at 12:27

(Updated June 21, 2002)

In the wake of my "duel" with Per Sullivan, Eric Olsen of Tres Producers has been conducting a discussion about the moral boundaries of the conflict from an Israeli point of view. I'm with him... part way. My problem is his second half, when he discussed the need for "hope" among the Palestinians. To the contrary, I argue, hope is not only cruel but toxic, and the consequences are potentially devasating.

Eric thinks I'm overstating the potential consequences. I don't.

Margaret Thatcher sees the danger - and the likely response - fairly clearly. But let's get specific. This scenario is wholly imaginary, but may be instructive:

Let's imagine that Hizbollah's policy of "mega-terrorism" bears fruit, and a second Pi Glilot attack succeeds. Alertness and sharpened contingency plans mean that the blast and oil-fed fires kill fewer Israelis than expected, and "only" 2,000 die. Two weeks later, Hamas' new strategic direction bears fruit and they manage chemical attacks at several points in and around Tel Aviv. A couple thousand people are hospitalized, a couple hundred die. The total for both attacks is now 3,000 dead and 6,000 injured, many severely.

An equivalent result in the USA would be about 150,000 dead and 300,000 injured.


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read the rest! »

Backgrounder: A History of Smallpox

By Joe Katzman at 06:06

Another good one, this time from MedPundit. She describes some experiences and experiments with smallpox vaccination.

Smallpox was believed to be eradicated in 1977, but copies of the virus remain in Russian and U.S. military labs. It is one of the great all-time killer diseases, highly infectious and highly lethal. In historical terms, it is probably the most heavily used bio-warfare agent.

Jonathan B. Tucker, Ph.D. is the Director of the Chemical & Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. His book, "Scourge," deals with smallpox's history and the current threat in great detail. Fortunately, the CNS web site has an outstanding set of point form notes.


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  • Robin Roberts: How nauseating to have this here. Anti-semitism in Europe is read more

Backgrounder: Bacilius Anthracis

By Joe Katzman at 06:05

Everything you wanted to know about anthrax... and more. An outstanding example of the kind of deep expertise blogging can bring to the fore.


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4GW: Bioterror Readiness - A 10 Point Platform for Change

By Joe Katzman at 06:04

"The Thresher" is looking like an extremely promising political journal. Michael T. Osterhold & John Schwartz have written an excellent 8-point plan for improving our readiness level and ability to cope with bioterror attacks. Their 8 points are:

  1. Stop Talking About "Weapons Of Mass Destruction"
  2. Build The Stockpile
  3. Build More "Surge Capacity"
  4. Shore Up The Public Health Infrastructure To Be Ready For Quick Response To Outbreaks
  5. Clear Up The Roles Of Federal, State, And Local Governments
  6. Clean Up The Coverage
  7. We'll Understand It If We Actually Practice
  8. We're On Our Own - Together.

This is a very fine, very lucid article. Each of these points is explained, and the explanations are worth reading. The Bioterrorism Preparedness Act of 2001 deals with some of these requirements (#2, #4, to some extent #3), but others are left out. I'd add two more points as well:


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read the rest! »

4GW: Bush Signs Bioterror Bill

By Joe Katzman at 06:04


U.S. readiness for bioterror attacks has raised justifiable alarm bells, from the "Dark Winter" smallpox outbreak simulation, to New York's slow response to the 1999 West Nile virus outbreak, to the Denver results for Operation Top-Off 2000's "Ten Days in May" exercise.

Not to mention the kind of stories told in Miller, Englebert & Broad's highly-recommended non-fiction book "Germs." Or Richard Preston's amazingly influential novel "Cobra Event".

Action is now beginning in earnest, but progress is slow. President Bush recently signed the "Bioterrorism Preparedness Act of 2001." Key provisions include:

  • $640 million to produce and stockpile smallpox vaccines
  • Expanded availability of potassium iodide for communities near nuclear plants to treat radiation poisoning in case of terrorist attack
  • More money for the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile
  • $1.6 billion in grants to states for hospital preparedness and assessments of the vulnerability of local water systems
These measures are all fine, as far as they go. The other good news is, all of them have beneficial side-effects for the public health infrastructure as a whole. The real question is, are these measures enough? Will they really help make the USA ready?

I don't think so.

For starters, the bill left out a very useful and sorely-needed idea that Winds of Change has already discussed: a molecular fingerprinting facility.

Beyond that, this bill is missing too many components of an effective bioweapons defense effort.


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Lady Thatcher Speaks

By Joe Katzman at 06:03

In a previous post analyzing nuclear consequences for the Indian sub-continent, I wrote:

"Even so, I beleieve the Kashmir situation to be containable. By contrast, shift your imagination to the nuclear development programs of Iraq and Iran... then ask yourself if President Bush might have a point when he talks about a pre-emptive strategy."
Well, knock me over with a feather. Lady Thatcher herself steps in to make the very same points yesterday in her Wall Street Journal article. She also notes:
"There can be no doubt that response to the use of WMD against us would be massive--probably nuclear. Yet even this awesome prospect might not deter a fanatic who cared nothing for his own country or safety. We already see such a mentality at work in the suicide bombers.
We do indeed, and both the bombers and their backers have made statements indicating that Lady Thatcher's parallel is not misplaced. Something Winds of Change's "Jihad Revelations" article noted back in April. Charles Johnson further notes that Hamas recently made chemical weapons part of its planning.

Not a reassuring prospect, given the regional consequences if Hamas follows through. The Iron Lady continues:

"At the rate at which nuclear, chemical and biological weaponry and missile technology have been proliferating we must expect that at some point these weapons will be used.

This is quite simply the greatest challenge of our times. We must rise to it."

The rest is vintage Lady Thatcher, full of clarity and a call to action and purpose. I'd forgotten how much I missed having her around on the world stage.


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June 18: Bio-Chemical Threats

By Joe Katzman at 06:01


The Winds of Change Q2 2002 Table of Contents (see navigation at left) now reaches back to the end of April. I'll keep extending it back a day or three at a time, and pretty soon it will be complete.

Our theme subject today is bio-terrorism, how to deal with the threat, and some of the potential sequences and consequences of failure.

Today's Blogs:
  * Lady Thatcher Speaks
  * 4GW: Bush Signs Bioterror Bill
  * 4GW: Bioterror - A 10 Point Platform for Change
  * Backgrounder: Bacilius Anthracis
  * Backgrounder: A History of Smallpox
  * Biochemical Terrorism: A Scenario and its Consequences


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June 17, 2002

Palestinian Futures: A Debate

By Joe Katzman at 02:40

Charles Johnson's "Islam Is Religion of Peace Sweepstakes" has truly had a banner month. Part of that was the June 13th "distinctive barbarism" post about the Palestinians, whose comments section quickly became the site of a cyber melee lasting several days. Here's the article and its 30+ comments.

Part of that melee was a sharp but respectful duel between Per Sullivan and yours truly. Those exchanges struck me as worth reproducing, so here they are [unedited]...

(Per)"Perhaps the reason Palestinian terrorists have become so violent and depraved is because they are the only people on that list of terrorists who have had their home taken away from them, their identity and existence denied, and then virtually imprisoned for the last 25 years of their history. How many other people in the world have lived under heavy-handed military rule for such a long period?

Lots of other people have suffered in the world, but perhaps none as completely and as consistently over the past 50 years. The British, all the countries of the Arab world, and the Israelis have made their life a living hell. The Israelis may just be one of the groups responsible for their plight, but they clearly hold the keys.

Of course, for the past 6,000 years, Jews have been the victims of virtually every society in the world. Because of this, they do not have the collective well to either exterminate or expel the Palestinians, which probably would have happened in pretty much every other case in any other country in the world. In one sense, you can say the Palestinians are lucky that their oppressors are the former (and still, in more subtle ways) oppressed, and their religion and humanity are strong enough to not completely wipe out the far weaker party. But at the same time this consigns the Palestinians to a special hell of having their punishment doled out in stages. Because of the Jewish experience on the one hand, and the anger and 'never again' mentality of the Holocaust on the other, the Palestinians are driven to the edge of madness but never put out of their misery. Because of the strength and power of the Jewish faith, there will never be a violent or bloody 'final solution' to the question of the land of Israel.

As for those who see a racial, religious, ethnic, or social component to Palestinian violence, I present the case of Arab Israelis. Living under martial law from aprox. 1948-1967, they have perodically suffered acts of violence and discrimination, including having their land seized and unarmed demonstrators killed. In virtually all respects, they are identical to their Palestinian neighbors. Most Arab-Israeli villages are within walking distance of West Bank villages, and their faith, ethnic composition (Gaza is slightly different in this regard) and history up until 1948 are identical. And they have rarely been involved in acts of terrorism. In fact their involvement in terrorism has been minimal. The only significant difference between these people is that the Arabs in Israel did not lose their homes in 1948, and have lived in a Democracy where even though the application of law is biased against them, generally provides equal treatment for citizens, and certainly doesn't repress them violently. Obviously Palestinian leadership is the other role-player in this difference, but its involvement is limited in comparison the other factors.

So while this article linked is 'true' in some regards, it really misses so much of the big picture.

   posted by Per Sullivan @ 6/13/2002"

That didn't sit well. Slap parry, and counterlunge:
(Joe) "Lots of other people have suffered in the world, but perhaps none as completely and as consistently over the past 50 years."

Wow.

Bet a discussion with a Tibetan would be enlightening. Or those few Jews still left in the Islamic world. How about people in the Baltic states, whose last 50 years have not exactly been a picnic. North Koreans (98% of them) come to mind. And maybe you'd rather be a Tutsi in Rwanda? Or how about a Sudanese Christian - hey, that slavery thing... really oversold, if you ask me. Or an Eritrean? Or a small clan in Somalia, that would make for a fun last 50 years. Or maybe you'd rather be a resident of East Timor from 1950-2002? Not a good bet, if you ask me.

Oh, and if you want to talk about identity denied and imprisonment on small pieces of land, we have a lot of native people in North America who would like a moment of your time. Oddly, they don't blow themselves up.

The heart of Per Sullivan's post is moral exculpation. Circumstances made them do it. Which is, of course, bunk. Everyone makes choices. Everyone lives with the consequences.

The Palestinians choices have included Hitler, Saddam, and Hamas over the last 60 years. They are finally running out of options, and have no clue where their choices are taking them... but it's a dark, dark future that probably starts with expulsion and ends in genocide at the hands of one or more of their arab brethren.

Nothing surprising in that last sentence. We could also point out that the Palestinians' suffering at Israeli hands is far eclipsed by their suffering at the hands of Kuwaitis and Jordanians. Would that be mean?

If the Palestinians had adopted nonviolent methods, they would have had a quality state a decade ago. The responsibility for that failure is theirs. It is wholly theirs.

The Palestinians are this way because they've created themselves this way. Their leadership has seen this mindset to be in their interest. The same is true for the surrounding Arab states, who are very happy to fight to the last Palestinian. They, too, are very happy to inculcate the mindset described - the Palestinians themselves having been conceived in the 60s as a weapon of war whose misery was part of the weapon's forging.

The Arab states see this as a good bargain, as long as the Palestinians don't actually come to their country. Because if they do, they'll be persecuted. Or worse, if they make trouble.

We all make choices. The Palestinians have chosen poorly. Again. They will learn to choose well. Or they will pay the price of their choices, in full. History admits to very few exceptions.

   posted by Joe Katzman @ 6/14/2002

Of course, I wasn't the only one engaging Per. Normally polite, his temper showed through in a fast combination attack and a sweeping tateki no kurai:
(Per) To those who responded to my ideas, did you even read what I wrote? Half of you try to tell me that others suffered too, including the Jews. Well go back and read my post.

One of the other responders gave a nice list of others who have suffered in the past 50 years. I still hold that none of those people were dispossessed from their land, and then held in virtual captivity for the next 4 decades.

And still no one is able to rebut my essential point: The difference between Arab-Israelis and Palestinians is a case-study for how Israeli violence, repression, and dispossession (which, as I also stressed, is not nearly as bad in terms of deaths as pretty much every other group in the history of the world, but is pyschologically far worse) breeds terror. As I wrote, Arab-Israelis and Palestinians are virtually identical in every aspect except for their recent history. Participation in the Jewish state, while not full, has resulted in a populace that is rarely, if ever, involved in the barbarism described daily in the news. Can there be any other reason (obviously living since the 90's under Arafat is one, but that is a more recent development) besides the dispossession of 1948 and the repression since 1967?

My central point is that as a Jew I am proud of the fact that we have moved beyond, however tempting it is, wholesale eradication of our enemies. This is a tactic of Milosevic, Hitler, and any number of other murderers of history. Of course it would be easier to just slaughter and drive out the Palestinians. But that is not going to happen, so even though I have seen friends hurt and wounded and friends of friends blown up for the awful crime of wanting to have dinner out, I still think the only solution is to live together in the same land. Arab Israelis (of whom I have several friends) are proof to me that when circumstances are equaled in terms of general freedom, the Palestinian is no different from any other person on earth. You racists on this website can have your other ideas, even when presented with the facts, but I have faith in G-d that we will persevere without resorting to the evil that Palestinian evil engenders within us.

posted by Per Sullivan @ 6/14/2002

Seeing Per's ability and willingness to stand his ground, one respectful admirer stepped forth:
(EN) Per Sullivan, I disagree with you (and will answer you some time later), but I would like to compliment you on posting lucidly and thoughtfully.

See Bunky? This is how it's done. Not just a "different point of view," but a point of view well-defended, and worth responding to. Pretty cool, huh?

   posted by E. Nough @ 6/14/2002 09:54AM PST

It was, actually. The melee was fast becoming a disorderly brawl, but our anonymous poster had given the duel its space again. Time for a Flowing Water Cut:
(Joe) Per's posts are calm and well argued. They are also wrong, often factually so. Their factual dishonesty is, alas, the precursor to their moral dishonesty.

"I still hold that none of those people were dispossessed from their land, and then held in virtual captivity for the next 4 decades."

To pick just 3:

- What do you call the Tibetans' situation? What could you possibly call it, EXCEPT that? Yet no suicide bombers. No terrorism.

- What land does anyone in North Korea own (because about 50 years ago, there were many people who did)? Their captivity, unlike the Palestinians' isn't virtual. Yet no suicide bombers. No terrorism.

- The native peoples of this continent would find this an excellent and exact description of their plight... except for the time frame. Yet no suicide bombers. And the few AIM terrorists that existed are now greying men in jail.

Why is that, do you think?

Your point about the Israeli Arabs also fails, on two grounds.

First, those who stayed were self-selected as those who were prepared to remain in place and coexist with the war's victors. They did, and they did.

In addition, while living within the Israeli state the steady diet of hatred, weapons, and armed training provided so liberally to their Palestinian brethren was denied them. That they are less engaged in terrorism under such conditions should not be surprising.

Which is not to say that none are trying.

The Israelis themselves will tell you that a problem does exist, may be as large as 100,000 people [Ed.: about 10%], and has accelerated sharply since the Palestinian Authority's return. Given that this problem's growth was prompted by the most strenuous efforts yet for a peaceful settlement, with the only other variable being the return of the PA, the "terror connections" hypothesis only gets stronger.

If your example proves anything, it is that cutting off the states supporting the terror network will dry up terrorism, and that allowing those connections to flourish will increase it. What your argument actually supports is a declared wider regional war.

The question isn't whether one should start, but how this one will finish. I say "declared war" because [an undeclared] one is already going on, complete with incontrovertible state sponsorship and frequent acts of war. But then, that has always been the plan.

For who imprisoned the Palestinians?

Their Arab brethren who refused to absorb them, as every other refugee exchange in history had been absorbed (Greek & Turks, Hindus & Muslims in India-Pakistan, Jews in Arab countries and...?) cannot wash their hands.

Had this been done in the 60s, we would have seen a roughly equal number of Arab Jews and Palestinians exchange locations, and that would have been the end of it. But this was never the plan of an Arabic culture that glorifies blood and death, and ethnic hate. The cynical invitation to suffering they extended to the Palestinians was surely no less than many extended to their own people, and thus of no moral concern.

Consigned (and thus confined) now to squalid refugee camps in Gaza and beyond. Provided nothing by the Arab nations. Fed a steady diet of hate by those who profited from their blood and misery. And recruited to violence by those who knew of nothing else.

The results were predictable. Continued, they will become tragic.

Right between the eyes, Per:

-- Your belief in the exceptionalism of the Palestinians' circumstances is simply untrue. To continue to maintain that stance will take it from "untrue" to a lie.

-- Regardless, your belief in the moral exceptionalism of the Palestinians' cause is morally bankrupt. There is no moral justification for this. Period. to quote Wieseltier: "We are not all in the same universe socially and economically, but we are all in the same universe morally. Either we are accountable for our actions, or we are not. Either, or."

-- Choices have consequences. No society will indefinitely put up with what the Israelis now face. As we can see in the poll numbers rise for "transfer" options since the late 90s. So what then? The Arabs have already demonstrated that they consider the Palestinians rabid dogs, with the full Arab cultural implications behind that term. Unless things change, it doesn't take a genuis to see tragedy in the offing.

-- And it will be a tragedy. Whatever they have done. To argue otherwise is morally wrong - and risks the same trap that has engulfed the Palestinians. I too, wish a better future for them.

But that isn't the direction they've chosen to head in. And there's nothing I can do about that. EXCEPT refuse to make excuses for them, because making those excuses fuels the very belief systems that are now creating the tragedy before our eyes, in slow motion.

That, I can do for them.

It is up to the Palestinians to make better choices if they wish to avert that fate. The Israelis are not going away, and they will not submit to the slaughter planned for them by the Islamists and Arab bigots around them. That leaves the Palestinians with the option to either create a brighter future, or no future.

The burden of that choice, and the responsibility for the consequences, rests with them.

As it always has. As it always will.

The pseudonymous "E. Nough" then offered the funniest review my posts have ever received:
(EN) Wow. I was going to respond to Per Sullivan's whole post, but Joe Katzman wrote a response that beats the snot out of anything I might have written -- and then gives it a wedgie and takes its lunch money.

So first of all, what Joe said.

That mental image still makes me chuckle. He then went on to make a number of points, ending with this:
(EN)Your faith in God is commendable, but at some point you need to remember that He only helps those who help themselves. Having faith is one thing, but you have yet to offer an explanation as to how you plan to "persevere," which once again leads me to think that your entire outlook is the triumph of hope -- and faith -- over experience. For my part, I share your hope, but no longer have your faith....

   posted by E. Nough @ 6/14/2002

Which what I'm seeing in Israel. It's exactly this loss of faith in better possibilities that will eventually create tremendous pressure for a "transfer" solution and set in motion the tragedy described above. So let's start with the reminder that averting tragedy depends on the existence of hope... among the Israelis.

Faith alone will not suffice to get us there. Better choices are needed. As the great duellist Miyamoto Musashi put it: "One must respect God and Buddha, but not be dependent upon them." To which I say: "Amen."

UPDATE: Letter from Gotham has a reply, agreeing with the rethinking but not the why. As for the enemy being "Islam," we disagree. The Bible tells us to stone adulterers too, but we don't. Different interpretations of the religion's works, plus the reduced temporal influence of the Church, led to the collective creation of a very different Christian faith. Victory begins when the same processes are at work to create a very different Islam.


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June 17: The Duel

By Joe Katzman at 02:35


The Winds of Change Q2 2002 Table of Contents (see navigation at left) now reaches back to the beginning of May. I'll keep extending it back a day or three at a time, and pretty soon it will be complete.

If you're coming from "Tres Producers" and looking for my "Harvard Jihad Speech Reconsidered" post, here it is. Sometimes, the most important change to seek in the world is a willingness to change one's mind when deserved. Then again, steadfastness also has its uses, as we see today...

Today's Blogs:
* Palestinian Futures: A Debate


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June 16, 2002

Harvard Jihad Speech Reconsidered

By Joe Katzman at 02:26

A few days ago, Will Warren of "Unremitting Verse" wrote me to say how much he enjoyed my open letter defending Mr. Rogers from those ungrateful Dartmouth College mooks. He also noted that my post about the "say it test" had been the foundation of a discussion with one of his children. Seems that Winds of Change, he said, has now joined Mr. Rogers as a source of household wisdom.

That was a pretty proud moment.

As I told Will, however, that post was provoking some hard thinking on my end, too. Recall Kabir's words:

Speech is priceless
if you speak with knowledge.
Weigh it in the scales of the heart
before it comes from the mouth.
I've been thinking about my "Harvard Jihad Speech" post in the context of that statement.

That post made some good and valid points. But was it fair? Many of us have been on the U.S. Muslim leadership's case lately, saying: Decide. Get on board. Work with us against the Islamists. Promote a different vision of Islam, and a different vision of America. Carry that view into the wider world, especially the Islamic world. Condemn terrorism unreservedly.

So now here's a guy whose speech seems to be promoting that different version of Islam, and we jump on him. My head said that every point I made was true. The scales of my heart wondered if a "damned if they do, damned if they don't" bind really served anyone. So I kept researching. And I kept thinking.

Had I made a mistake?

Let me quote a couple of excerpts from Yasin's press release following the speech:

"With this speech, I am trying to reclaim a concept from my faith - the struggle for justice - from those who have hijacked it. It is my contribution to America's War on Terrorism, a War that needs to be fought as much by Americans sharing their ideals and thoughts as by American soldiers defending our security and freedom to do so."
Or this:
"Though I cannot deny the historical corruption, as a Muslim, I must still attempt to put my faith in its first interpretation. We must struggle even to define what it is that we mean by Jihad. Returning to the truth and beauty at the essence of the word offers a powerful lesson both for Islam and America."
It should also be noted that the Muslim charity he'll be working for in Pakistan is the Aga Khan Foundation. It's a fine choice... the now-peaceful Ismaili sect are systematically persecuted in Pakistan by Deobandi and Wahhabi extremists, with little official protection.

After reviewing the evidence, I am not without misgivings about what Yasin did. But unless I'm shown a reason to doubt the sincerity or truth of his statements, I think my call on this issue was wrong.

Part of the reason people jumped on Yasin may have reflected distrust. A far larger role was played by reaction to American Muslim and Arab "leaders" like CAIR, Hussein Ibish, and others who seem reluctant to stand against terrorists - or even determined to stand with them. These misgivings were not unreasonable.

In the end, however, Yasin must be judged as an individual. As any of us would wish to be judged.

He has now had his 15 minutes of fame, and exits stage left. Yet this will not be a 15 minute war. The true measure of Zayed Yasin's greater jihad will not be legacy of his commencement address, but the legacy of his future. Much lies ahead of him, and many things will change. My hope is that he may choose well, and become the kind of American Muslim leader we need.


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June 15, 2002

Mosquito Acousticide!

By Joe Katzman at 19:29

I live in Canada. You think you've got it bad in Atlanta and Florida, but come on up here some time and experience Manitoba or northern Canada during mosquito season (June-August). Minnesotans, you understand what I'm talking about here. We're talking clouds of 'em. The only thing that compares are los badass hombres in Central America, who attack in smaller numbers but all seem to have been trained by the Green Berets.

I'm with President Bush... it's time for a pre-emptive strategy in this war.

Enter the Larvasonic, courtesy of a Connecticut teenager's high school science fair project. As technical adviser Joe Conlon of the American Mosquito Control Association put it: "His idea was so far outside of the box, it brings us into a whole new realm... I've seen this thing work and it's dramatic." Music to my ears, Joe.

It gets even better.

Tests are continuing, but initial results indicate that the technology is specific to mosquitoes and does not harm other insects. Kid, if this thing works, we're gonna be putting up statues of you here in the Great White North.


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Do You Remember, When We Met...

By Joe Katzman at 19:29

Ah, Saturdays. A show together, a walk, then strawberry and dark chocolate pancakes for two whipped up as a snack by yours truly.

The evening will feature "The Sum of All Fears," which alas I must see as part of an article I'm writing for the American Enterprise Institute. I've explained to my girlfriend that it won't be as good as the movies she's dragged me to over the last few months ("Apocalypse Now," Brotherhood of the Wolf," and "Lord of the Rings"), and she's OK with that. She'd rather share my pain.

That's love. Jami was right.

So this weekend, I'd like to take the time to highlight Eric and Dawn's first meeting, as told in their respective blogs. First, Dawn tells the story from her side. Then, Eric explains what was going on in his head.

Striking stuff.

We can never really know what's going on in someone's head when we meet them. Stuff happens in romances, and we think we know why... and usually we don't. Sometimes, though, it really does have a happy ending. Love heals the wounds that kept us from from loving, and frees us from our self-made chains.


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Sufi Wisdom: Jami on Love

By Joe Katzman at 13:07

As militant Islam does its level best to discredit the religion, it's important to remember that there are other voices within the faith. One such is the Sufis, the Islamic mystics who live islam (submission), iman (faith) and ishan (awareness of G-d, "to act beautifully").

The Wahabbi hate them, of course, which constitutes an endorsement in my books. The great poet Rumi was a Sufi, and so were many other figures of religious and cultural significance. This week's writings are a meditation on love by Jami, via Story Fadiman & Frager's "Essential Sufism":

"Be the captive of love in order that you may be truly free - free from coldness and worship of self. Thousands have passed who were wise and learned but who were strangers to Love. No name is left to them, nothing to proclaim their fame and dignity or to relate their history in the march of time. Although you may attempt to do a hundred things in this world, only Love will give you release from the bondage of yourself."
Of course, as a Sufi Jami means by this spritiual love. But he also writes:
"Even from earthly love thy face avert not,
Since to the Truth it may serve to raise thee.
Ere the alphabet is rightly apprehended,
How canst thou know the pages of thy Koran?"
Wise man, that Jami.


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June 15 & 16: Shabbat Shalom!

By Joe Katzman at 13:06


As many of you know, Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath. On this blog it will always be "good news" day. We will share Sufi wisdom, highlight the acts of good and decent people, and point to amazing discoveries that could benefit humanity. Other blogging days include these things as well, but today we seek to fill our entire day with that.

Once again, this will be a "weekend" series. Tomorrow is my 4-year old nephew's first day at the Science Center!

Today's Blogs:
* Sufi Wisdom of the Week: Jami on Love
* Do You Remember, When We Met...
* Mosquito Acousticide!
* Harvard Jihad Speech Reconsidered


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June 14, 2002

Indus Entrepreneurs' New Pakistani Chapters

By Joe Katzman at 02:33

Well, this is nice. A very successful Indian entrepreneurs' association whose main roots lie in Silicon Valley has expanded to include 8 Indian cities... and two Pakistani cities. The Pakistani chapters were set up about a year ago, with the enthusiastic support of Pakistan's government.

The report is worth reading.

"We've been fighting each other for 50 years, and that hasn't worked, so why don't we try friendship and doing business? We can always go back to fighting," said Idris Khothari, a Pakistani entrepreneur.

TIE is going to face real challenges as it moves toward becoming an international organization whose membership is defined in a different way. That just comes with what they're trying to do. That said, good on them for doing it.

When we look at places like Kashmir, we often make the mistake of seeing only the governments and prominent antagonists like Al-Qaeda. But there's always a complex web of other groups in the mix, and the roles they choose to play make a difference. As we analyze situations around the world, it's very important for us not to forget that.


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Scientists Edge Closer to Cancer Vaccines

By Joe Katzman at 02:32

A Cancer vaccine? It has been a very long, hard road, but things are finally looking up in this area. The whole question about pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc.) being involved in cancer remains an ongoing controversy, but most of these vaccines aren't based on that anyway.

"The evidence is that these things have really come to fruition," said Pacific Growth Equities analyst Thomas J. Dietz, who follows several of the cancer vaccine companies. "It's a 'when' issue, not an 'if' issue anymore."

The current crop of vaccines is expected to enhance first-line treatments for cancer, not to replace them. But because most patients experience relatively mild side effects, the vaccines could be widely used to prevent or delay a recurrence.

Significant human trials are just beginning, but as someone who has lost more than a few friends and family to cancer I consider this highly encouraging. This San Jose Mercury article offers lots of interesting background and company information.


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Canada's Asylum Laws: A Threat to US Security?

By Joe Katzman at 02:18

Darn right they are. People up here in Canada have been noting that our system makes even the American INS look good by comparison.

A big part of the problem is a government that sees continued laxity in this area as a source of votes, even post Sept. 11. Those of us who've watched this crew in action knew that we'd get cosmetic reforms, most of which would not solve the problem. We also knew that even those modest efforts would quietly be shelved later if the government thought they could get away with it.

Canada's Liberal Party government has not disappointed us.

This should matter to the USA, and the Center for Immigration Studies explains why.

Note from up north: If Americans want this to change, it will not happen from within Canada. It will happen very quickly, however, if America threatens inspection and other measures that induce border delays. That simple move would be devastating to the Canadian economy, which is hugely dependent on unfettered crooss-border trade.

Short of that, expect a continued security hole/threat on your northern border.


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Terrorists & Anti-Aircraft Missiles: Update

By Joe Katzman at 02:18

Remember the empty SA-7 antiaircraft missile launcher that was found last month near Prince Sultan Air Base near Riyadh? It prompted a significant Winds of Change briefing, with a lot of help from military analyst Donald Sensing. Now we have an explanation.

ABC News says the terrorist has been captured, is in custody in Sudan and is talking (Sudan... I'll just bet he's talking). He says he was the head of a cell operating in Saudi Arabia, casing U.S. air bases. One night they evaded Saudi security forces and fired one missile, but it failed to lock onto its target. He then became frightened, buried a second missile nearby and ran away.

OK, so he got close to the base and beat Saudi security. Yeah, well, I could probably do that. But buried the second missile and ran away?!? He's the best Al-Qaeda could do for a cell leader in Saudi Arabia, let alone a leader tasked with a dangerous mission like this one? They're in even more trouble than I thought.


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June 14, 2002: Breaking News - Karachi Attack

By Joe Katzman at 02:17

Note the new Q2 Table of Contents feature here at Winds of Change, which can also be found in our navigation template on the left! So far it goes back a month or so, but more back entries are being added every day.

UPDATE: That Al-Qaeda Karachi cell sure is keeping busy. Looks like a good try, but not exactly a Beirut Embassy reprise. They did much better against the French.

The scale of these two attacks bespeaks sophistication and a lot of organization, though, which makes me wonder how many Al-Qaeda operatives they may have helped to leave by sea. Indonesia would be a likely destination...

Today's Blogs

  * Terrorists & Anti-Aircraft Missiles: Update
  * Canada's Asylum Laws: A Threat to US Security?
  * Scientists Edge Closer to Cancer Vaccines
  * Indus Entrepreneurs' New Pakistani Chapters


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June 13, 2002

Capitalism Sucks

By Joe Katzman at 09:08

Certainly large portions of the practice of it do, these days. Andersen, Enron, Tyco, the "Nasty Babies" (Baby Bells), and so many more. Henry Paulson Jr., chairman and chief executive of the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs, spoke yesterday at The National Press Club in Washington, DC. Quoth Mr. Paulson:

"In my lifetime, American business has never been under such scrutiny. To be blunt, much of it is deserved."
Damn straight it is. Here, read the whole thing.

As far as I'm concerned, by the way, the Wall Street analysts who routinely pump stocks in return for favours to their firms' investment banking arms are among the folks who have a lot to answer for.

MSNBC's Kudlow & Cramer have been hitting these issues with both barrels for a while now. I'm glad. Kudlow points out, correctly, that conservatives have a special obligation to police deviants who screw up the capitalist system by cheating. Just as liberals have the same kind of responsibility when it comes to say... people cheating on social programs or using them to bad ends.

Liberalism's complete abdication on that score is no excuse for a similar abdication by conservatives. It's not just a matter of morality, but of long-term political survival. Liberalism's abdication created the modern conservative movement. What could a similar conservative abdication create?

Too many damn corporations seem to believe they're above the law today, in too many ways. Time to remind them otherwise. Past time, actually.


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Electrolite's Left-Wing Article Roundup

By Joe Katzman at 09:07

A good follow-on to my Shabbat bit about worthy liberal blogs. Some interesting stuff, found in surprising places. Actually, it's not wholly surprising. I myself found a great piece of reporting on some US moves in Sri Lanka yesterday, via the World Socialist Web Site.

Really. Read it for yourself. And while you're at it, read Electrolite's list too.


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Crime, Math and Libertarians

By Joe Katzman at 09:06

I've liked Tony Woodlief for a long time. Back in April, for instance, he did a fantastic series of posts on our broken education system. He recently moved his blog to a new URL and a new platform, so you'll have to find those yourself in the new archives. Well worth the effort.

Anyway, Tony recently stepped into the issue of crime, noting the rise in repeat offenders and wondering what was behind it. Some good supply/demand theorizing goes into it, but that's not really what got him nominated here.

The part I found most fascinating is that by the end of the post, he's questioning an important part of his belief structure. And you can watch that whole thought process play out on his blog.


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The BBC Bias Report

By Joe Katzman at 09:06

While we're on the topic of thorough investigations and complicity in terrorism, we would be remiss if we didn't mention the good ol' BBC, Britain's state-owned news agency. Is it biased in its coverage if Mideast events?

Well, sure. But it really helps to be able to prove it.

Trevor Asserson is a lawyer based in London who is global head of litigation for an international law firm. Research assistant was Elisheva Mironi, an Israeli lawyer who recently obtained a Masters Degree in Human Rights Law including Media Law at University College London. They do a fine job here. Conclusions include:

"Some of the breaches are in our view quite glaring. At times, by a mere selection or omission of facts, the BBC provides a report which portrays the very opposite of the truth. Frequently the BBC report is misleading. At times it appears to invent material to suit its own bias."
Wow, that's damning - and backed up all the way. Their report on the BBC is every bit as good as Die Zeit's piece on the EU and Arafat.

Thanks to HonestReporting.com for making this available.


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LGF's "WSJ Best": EU Financing of Arafat

By Joe Katzman at 09:05

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs scores big, copping an entry in the Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web." He thoughtfully provides access to the English translation of a German article in Die Zeit, entitled: "Arafat Bombs, Europe Pays."

Huge kudos to Sharkblog for doing the translation. It's a devastating, devastating expose confirming something many of us have long suspected: That most EU "aid" to the Palestinian authority funds terror (duhhh!)... and that the EU is perfectly aware of this, and has no problem with it.

To which the reasonable response is "prove it!" They do.

Special mention also goes to Damian Penny, who piles on by pointing out the deeply dishonest role played by every Briton's least-favorite Euroweenie: Chris Patten.

I don't say "must reading!" very often. This is.


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Do We Have to Hate the Enemy?

By Joe Katzman at 09:05

Bruce Hill writes a lot of good stuff. An ex "Peace Now" member, he's had a major attitude adjustment from recent events (with a little help from democracy's knight in shining armor, Victor Davis Hanson). Bruce's June 9th blog on "blogger fatigue" is excellent, and his idea of having bloggers "guest blog" on each others sites is a great concept.

Alas, i330 does not have permalinks, and so I cannot link to that specific post. If you want it, you'll have to go there and hunt it.

Fortunately, Bruce had another worthy entry when he asked "do we have to hate our enemy." His response is "no," but the why behind that no touches on a lot of interesting subjects.

Nike Hellas! Nike America!


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Various Kinds of Order: A Debate

By Joe Katzman at 09:04

GendakenPundit, who is fondly remembered here for his collaboration on our May 11th "Sufi Wisdom of the Week" blog, has quite the discussion going with Oxblog. It's all about different kinds of order, planned vs. self-organizing. Brings in lots of good stuff about chaos and complexity theory, as well as economics and philosophy.

GedankenPundit helpfully summarizes the exchange. A bit arcane in places, yet worthwhile. If you just stick with it, they'll give you lots to think about.


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Euthanasia, Atheism, and What's Life for Anyway?

By Joe Katzman at 08:50

The USS Clueless post on the subject of assisted suicide struck a nerve with one reader, and in response Mr. Den Beste gives us... more or less, his philosophy of life and its meaning.

FmH had a post Steven might be interested in, noting a recent issue of the journal Science (April 12, 2002) that tried to summarize where research stands in the science of self. "The questions are still open, but outlines of the answers are becoming clear."


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June 13, 2002: Worthy

By Joe Katzman at 08:37


First off, note the new Q2 Table of Contents feature here at Winds of Change, which can also be found in our navigation template on the left! So far it goes back a month or so, but more back entries are being added every day.

On Monday, Winds of Change talked about ways in which the rules are changing and promised more follow-on. Truth be told, I'm still too tired and burned out to do that. Instead, I'm going to highlight some excellent bits from around the blogosphere that I've come across during the past week or so.

Today's Blogs

  * Euthanasia, Atheism, and What's Life for Anyway?
  * Various Kinds of Order: A Debate
  * Do We Have to Hate the Enemy?
  * LGF's "WSJ Best": EU Financing of Arafat
  * The BBC Bias Report
  * Crime, Math and Libertarians
  * Electrolite's Left-Wing Article Roundup
  * Capitalism Sucks


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June 12, 2002

Quote of the Day

By Joe Katzman at 01:47

"We don't need to build a coalition in order to win. We need to win in order to build a world-wide, pro-American coalition."
   - Josh Chafetz, OxBlog


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Burned out

By Joe Katzman at 01:23

Burned out, tired, need a break. Back tomorrow.

Meanwhile, have a look at our new Table of Contents (Q2 2002) to see what you may have missed before!


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June 11, 2002

Starring on TV: The Milky Way

By Joe Katzman at 06:59

Right, here's a large-scale nuclear event or three that's totally worth watching and looking forward to:


Yep, that's our galaxy. Using both the latest astrophysical simulations and computer visualization techniques, Discovery is presenting "The Unfolding Universe." This hour-long documentary showcases 20 minutes of footage that stems from months of supercomputer time. Indeed, the 29,413 animated frames represent the culmination of years' worth of work.

It looks fascinating. WIRED has more details, and the Discovery Channel USA web site even has a handy email reminder service to ensure you don't miss your chosen date.

Nukes can be beautiful - as long as they go off billions and billions of miles away.


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4GW: Radiological Bombs, Local Supplies?

By Joe Katzman at 06:45

The USA is unsure what stage the Muhajir plot was at, but it doesn't appear to have included shipment of radioactive materials from abroad.

The hopeful spin says Al-Qaeda didn't have its own materials, or felt that shipping them was too risky. Which would mean that Al-Qaeda intended to find and use local US sources. The fact that nothing of this sort was used in Afghanistan suggests that this may be true.

One suggestion I've heard is that Al-Qaeda does have a radiological bomb, and is saving it as the centrepiece of an operation involving India. This would be part of Al-Qaeda's plan to incite an Indo-Pakistani war. But then, such toys would not be looked upon kindly even by Pakistan's ISI - who understand the consequences all too well if a radioactive device should go off in India. It's also kind of a "they'd have used it already if they had one" scenario.

They haven't, so they probably don't.

On one level, that's comforting. It means Al-Qaeda hasn't been as successful as they'd like in gaining access to radiological materials, despite a previous Chechen exploit with low-radioactivity substances. Recall, too, those heroic Afghani physicists we talked about several weeks ago. Those brave men kept a substantial stockpile of radioactive materials out of the Taliban's hands though effort, deception and sheer guts.

How much do you think we owe them now?

Even so, it must be acknowledged that international sources for these materials do exist. Worse, security in those places may not be what it should. A good primer on the worldwide situation, including information re: the Stanford Database on that subject, can be found via this excellent San Francisco Chronicle article (29 April 2002). There's also a quick summary in this week's TIME Magazine.

The thing is, if a radiological bomb is your goal, there may also be a number of US sources.

MetaLink had a "jaw-drop-inducing link of the day" yesterday, noting that the U.S. government spent $62 million on a building to store and treat low-level radioactive waste at a California nuclear weapons laboratory, then decided the structure wasn't secure enough.

So where is the waste kept now? Right outside the new building... under tents.

Now, a nuclear weapons lab has a lot of security. Or so you'd think. It's not pleasant reading, but the reports from the Project on Government Oversight, Nuclear Safety and Security are instructive. Holes do exist in the system, and if Muhajir had been very competent and had a good team, it's not impossible to imagine a successful operation to acquire the materials he wanted.

Remember, we're not talking nuclear bombs here. Just radioactive materials.

People like Joseph Cirincione of the CEIP have done a lot of thinking about actions the USA should take to reduce the threat from sources abroad. So, too, has former Sen. Sam Nunn's Nuclear Threat Institute, which has an excellent Harvard study (PDF format) entitled "Securing Nuclear Weapons and Material: Seven Steps for Immediate Action."

The thing is, most of these studies focus on events abroad.

There is nothing wrong with this, and the comparative neglect of these efforts in the crumbling ruin of the Soviet Empire may yet cost America dearly. More should certainly be done. What the Al Muhajir case shows us, however, is that equal attention must also be given stateside. Which means improved security, response capabilities, and perhaps a more balanced view of radiation risks as well.

Al Mujahir failed. Al Qaeda may fail. But America is not the only one who has seen the lesson here. As long as the US has serious enemies, inside or out, this issue will not go away. America needs to be realistic, act responsibly, and get busy.

As in yesterday.

UPDATE: TomPaine.com has some devastating materials on this subject, and they've been up for a while. Kudos to them for being on this issue well before it was fashionable! Meanwhile Paul Wolfowitz, appearing on the Today show, confirmed that Mujahir's intent was to gain access to radiological materials in America. This MSNBC article confirms that, and includes a useful flash module of some dirty bomb scenarios.
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4GW: What the Muhajir Case Tells Us

By Joe Katzman at 04:18

Every operation tells us something. This operation tells us a lot, or at least enables us to draw some useful conclusions.

For starters, Al-Qaeda truly does not appear to have prepared for a series of attacks post 9/11. Muhajir was in Pakistan and the Mideast since 1998, and could easily have been slipped back into the US ahead of September 11, 2001. Instead, he is arrested coming into the country on May 8, 2002.

From Ashcroft's own statement:

"Subsequent to his release from prison, he traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan. On several occasions in 2001, he met with senior al Qaeda officials.

"While in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Al Muhajir trained with the enemy, including studying how to wire explosive devices and researching radiological dispersion devices. Al Qaeda officials knew that as a citizen of the United States, as a citizen of the United States holding a valid U.S. passport, Al Muhajir would be able to travel freely in the U.S. without drawing attention to himself."

In light of everything that has happened, that's a pretty foolish and amateurish assumption. Not to mention a big risk to take with such a major plot.

I don't get it.

Al-Qaeda knew what they were preparing him for. The Chechens already had experience with the devices. They had Muhajir himself on hand well before 2001. That's plenty of time to train, and he met with senior figures during 2001.

So why go back now?

-- Why Wasn't Muhajir Here Already? --

Why not send him in August of 2001, have him answer to "Jose Padilla" at all times, "renounce" Islam, support pacifist organizations due to his "disillusionment" with the experience of Sunni-Shi'ite violence in Pakistan, and attend Catholic Mass regularly? Not only does he get back in without any risk that way owing to timing, he may not even be a suspect later. Based on that story, there are even ways to make ongoing contacts with local Muslims and operatives seem completely normal.

The possible explanations for why this was not done are all bad for Al-Qaeda:


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4GW: Dirty Bombers, Dirty Bombs

By Joe Katzman at 01:46

You've seen or heard the story about Abdullah Al Muhajir, the former Chicago street gang member turned terrorist who allegedly had plans to detonate a radiological bomb in the USA, probably in Washington. He is now in the custody of the U.S. military as an (unlawful) enemy combatant.

In many ways, "dirty bombs" fit the classic "4th Generation Warfare" (4GW) template: an act of war against non-military targets, whose main effect is not physical but psychological.

This particular incident is revealing on several levels, but let's start with the basics:

  • "Dirty Bombs" are conventional bombs, with additional material included: chemicals, radioactive matter, or (least likely) biological agents.
  • They have been used recently in Israel, and there was a radiological incident in Chechnya in 1995.
  • Their effects are more psychological and economic than physical. Which doesn't make them useless by any means. If you understand what they're for, they're actually extremely effective.
  • The USA is unsure what stage this plot was at, but it doesn't appear to have included shipment of radioactive materials from abroad... which means Al-Qaeda probably intended to find and use local US sources.
  • That's comforting on one level. It means Al-Qaeda's documented efforts in this field remain problematic for them. Recall those heroic Afghani physicists we talked about a month or so ago.
  • That said, US sources do exist and security in those places may not be what it should be. Winds of Change explains, with examples.
  • It's obvious that Pakistan played a role in this investigation on some level, and that the sources involved are sources the USA badly wants to conceal. Hence the military detention.
  • It's not about trial formats - he's a US citizen, and the government has said it won't place Muhajir before a military tribunal (even though legal precedent says it could). He can be tried later for sedition or treason, however, and in the meantime the USA may detain him 'for the duration of the conflict.'
  • While the USA claims information from Zubaydeh helped with this operation, that could well be a two-edged bluff. As long as Al-Qaeda isn't certain of that, however, it doesn't matter.
That's the essence of it. Now on to the detailed explanation.

-- Dirty Bombs --

A "dirty bomb" is an explosive device with radioactive materials, chemicals, or biological agents packed in the device. Palestinian terrorists have already used chemical weapons like rat poison and cyanide with their suicide bombs. Mundane devices like nails don't count as "dirty bombs," though their physical effects may be more severe.

Fortunately, experiments in police laboratories have shown that most easily purchased chemical compounds dissipate in the heat of explosions, without causing any damage. The cyanide bomb at the Netanya Passover Massacre, which was based on spreading a gas, failed because of a technical mishap.

"Radiological bombs" just use radioactive materials around an explosive core, instead of chemicals. USA today has a quick interactive demo explaining the concept. The Center for Foreign Relations has a more in-depth page, meanwhile, that answers a whole range questions about radiological bombs. If you have other questions like "what does it take to make one" and such, this page is a great source.

-- Radiological Bombs & 4GW --

A radiological bomb has already been used in a 4GW scenario. Chechen rebels left an unexploded dirty bomb in Moscow in 1995, then alerted the media. The bomb was defused, and it turned out the radioactivity level was low (by Russian standards, at least). The stunt didn't really achieve very much, except perhaps to increase russian ruthlessness.

So radiological bombs aren't great weapons. Well, it depends what you want to accomplish, and whom you're targeting. In terms of destructive ability, no, they're nothing special. As a harassment and psychological tool that isn't likely to induce a full nuclear response, however, they're unparalleled.

They're especially good against advanced economies whose citizens have low risk thresholds - a description that certainly fits the USA and Europe.

The LA Times reports that at a Senate hearing in March, Steven E. Koonin, provost of Caltech, testified that under U.S. government guidelines the dispersion of a fraction of a gram of a certain isotope over a square-mile area would make the area uninhabitable.

Yet, exposing the population to that quantity of the material would only add 4 more cases of cancer per 100,000 people - vs. the 20,000 cases likely to result from all other causes.

All in all, the direct economic damage per bomb could easily run into the billions. Koonin said he could imagine an attack that exposed people in 100 square blocks of a business district to 3x the acceptable level of radioactivity. This probably wouldn't kill anyone, but the area could be sealed off for months of decontamination. Hundreds of thousands of people would visit hospitals for screening. It could be cheaper to raze dozens of buildings rather than decontaminate them. The fear factor would also have huge indirect economic effects on stock exchanges etc.

Which is, of course, the whole idea. Create additional economic and political pressure against resistance, and divert official attention from fighting terrorism to fixing the economy.

A series of these would be a potent equalizer for a terrorist network determined to eat away at our capabilities.

It's all classic 4th Generation Warfare. Acts of war committed by a non-national force, using unconventional delivery and/or weapons, and relying on attrition and paralysis to weaken and eventually defeat a larger enemy.
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June 11, 2002: Changing the Rules

By Joe Katzman at 01:41


First off, note the new Q2 Table of Contents feature here at Winds of Change, which can also be found in our navigation template on the left! So far it goes back a month or so, but more entries are being added every day.

Meanwhile, yesterday was quite the day in our "War on Islamists." If it feels like the rules are changing on you, it's probably because they are. Today, Winds of Change will give you the "down n' dirty" background on dirty bombs, their uses, and what the Muhajir case tells us about Al-Qaeda.

Tomorrow, we'll go on to other ways in which established understandings and rules are changing. Some of those changes are alarming. Some are good news. Others.. you'll have to decide for yourself.

Today's Blogs
  * 4GW: Dirty Bombers, Dirty Bombs
  * 4GW: What the Muhajir Case Tells Us
  * 4GW: Radiological Bombs: Local Supplies?
  * Starring on TV: The Milky Way


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June 10, 2002

Harvard bin Laden Divestment... A Bad Idea?

By Joe Katzman at 02:16

Back on June 6, I noted:

> Speaking of Harvard, here's a divestment drive that deserves our
> support... asking Harvard University to give back the endowments
> made by the Bin Laden family, as their ties to terrorism become
> harder and harder to deny.

Reader Kevin McGuire wrote back to disagree. I think there are some valid arguments on divestment's behalf (dangers of spreading institutional influence by this donor, respect for students who lost friends and family, etc.) but Kevin's case is extremely well-argued. He may be right.

I'm just going to post his response here and let my readers make up their own minds.

"Why does this deserve our support?

Let's break it down:

  • there's a group of bad guys.
  • we consider them bad guys not because of actions they take against us themselves, but because they fund the activities of people who do take direct action against us.
  • Harvard, one of our leading universities, has received a lot of the bad guys' money in the past.
  • some people want Harvard to give the money back to the bad guys. So the bad guys will have more money.
  • but the bad guys spend their money on attacking us. Why do we want them to have the money instead of Harvard having it? In whose hands is this money more of a threat to America, snide cracks about Harvard aside?
The problem here is the word "divestment". When I was in collich it meant withdrawing investments from the target, to communicate our displeasure by means of damaging their economy. This makes sense.

Returning endowments, on the other hand, deprives someplace we like (Harvard) so that bad guys (some Saudis) can have MORE money with which to do bad things. Why is this a good idea?

It's as if instead of freezing or seizing the bank accounts of terrorists, we instead moved all their money to a London bank so that it wouldn't sully our banks.

Harvard shouldn't return the bin Laden endowments, it should put on a full-court fundraising press. Every dollar that goes to pay for a new rugby pitch in Cambridge is a dollar that doesn't buy Semtex in Jenin, or bullets in Pakistan."

A very solid argument. What do you think?


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What's Wrong With Harvard's "Jihad Speech"

By Joe Katzman at 02:16

Let's stick with the subject of commencement speeches for a minute. Here's one more from Charles Johnson's LGF, whose readers are often just as interesting as he is. One recently wrote:

"I'm sure CAIR and Muslims would make the valid point that Jihad has many non-violent meanings et cetera ad nauseum.

"In yesterday's New York Times someone wrote a letter responding to the previous day's op-ed by an Arab Harvard student defending the 'Jihad' speech at the Harvard graduation. He asked if anyone wouldn't have found a 'Mein Kampf' speech objectionable in 1939 even though 'mein kampf' did in fact mean "my struggle".

posted by James @ 6/7/2002 11:06AM PST"

It's a great point.

Supporters of Fascism often portrayed Hitler's damning little book in those same terms during the 30s. All about an inner struggle and the rebirth of Germany, etc. So do many neo-nazis today. But "Mein Kampf" also has a more sinister implication of death and evil, and incitement to hate. Especially after Czecheslovakia, and Poland.

Just as "jihad" does. Especially after 9/11.

Now imagine a Harvard "Mein Amerikanner Kampf" graduation speech in 1939, after the Nazis had invaded Poland. (For a full parallel, it would have to be given by the President of the German-American Friendship Society.) Or an Indian student today giving a commencement "American Swastika" talk, which after all is a legitimate Sanskrit symbol of goodness and light.

That's the depth of Harvard's mistake. One doesn't require a Ph.D. to be so stupid... but it seems to help.

UPDATE: Letters from Gotham, who played a key role in publicizing Matthew Yglesias' work, had the comprehensive "meaning of jihad" answer a while ago. She also made the "Jihad - Kampf" connection much earlier than I did. If you think you'll ever be in an argument where the meaning of jihad may play a role, you need to read this.


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Mr. Rogers at Dartmouth: A Response to the Critics

By Joe Katzman at 02:15

June 6th was kind of a busy day for me, what with the atomic fallout piece etc. So I missed Rand Simberg's note about Mr. Rogers being Dartmouth's commencement speaker this past weekend.

Shockingly, some of the semi-educated nitwits there had a problem with that.

"It's like Barney the dinosaur speaking at our graduation," said history major Michael Weiss. "We're 22 years old and we're getting lectured by a guy who plays with puppets for a living."

"I had hoped for someone more awe-evoking," said Chris Moore, a graduating philosophy major. "Some secretary of the U.N., or (Rudolph) Guiliani, or a human rights leader."

Fred Rogers is far too nice a guy to give these comments their proper response. But I'm not...

Dear Michael and Chris,

I hope when you look back at your graduation, 20 years from now, you'll at least have the decency to be ashamed of yourselves. You semi-educated nincompoops.

Fred Rogers has lived a life of decency and kindness, and he has helped millions of children along the way. Not tens. Not even thousands. Millions. In ways that have affected the rest of their lives. For many children he was the first adult, including their parents, to tell them they were special.

One day, your little worlds may expand enough to help you understand what that means.

Best of all, Fred Rogers did this in a way that sent a good message at all times. He is NOT Barney the dinosaur, whom many parents quite correctly ban in their households. He is someone who dealt with even his imaginary characters respectfully, as if they had minds of their own. Mr. Rogers conveyed that respect and friendship at all times, to all people, while trying to get kids to imagine for themselves and to be a part of a larger community.

If that doesn't inspire awe, there is something deeply wrong with you.

The number of lives Mr. Rogers has improved while living out this vision is difficult to imagine - but it represents a level of real success rarely achieved in our world. The Secretary-General of the UN can only dream of it. Mr. Guiliani, if you asked him, would almost certainly give you a relative ranking that would shock you.

You will be unbelievably fortunate if you can achieve 1/100th as much in your combined careers and lifetimes. I just hope that some day you will finally grow up enough to understand the value of "a guy who plays with puppets for a living."

If any of the Dartmouth students who heard the commencement address this weekend still don't understand the value of a man like Mr. Rogers, then their education has been a complete and utter failure.

UPDATE: Random Jottings chimes in with some interesting details about the start of Fred Rogers' TV career.


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Pakistan: America's Last Chance?

By Joe Katzman at 02:15

Another excellent pointer from the folks at Little Green Footballs, this time to a Sulekha.com piece about America's long-term policy in Pakistan.

Rajiv Malhotra raises the issue of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal coming under the control of what Charles Johnson gently terms "jihadi freakazoids." If not now, then 5-10 years from now. When that arsenal will be much larger.

Charles' excerpts focused on the religious dimension. I saw other key points, not least an excellent exposition of the Indian position and rationale re: Kashmir. Still, that was just a sidebar. Here are some parts that really jumped out at me:

"This article is written from the perspective of American interests: Now might be America's last chance to gain control over Pakistan's nukes, before neo-Taliban elements take control of Pakistan's military....

"Meanwhile, today's 25 nukes in Pakistan will multiply to 500 and 1,000 nukes over the next ten years.....

"Rather than imagining today's situation as a static one, American strategic thinkers need to project the most likely scenario over the next five to ten years. American choices today should be based on future projections of these critical matters. Since the average political lifespan of a Pakistani ruler has been around five years, before he gets killed by his successor, planning for US security on the presumption of the General's ability to rule would be a dangerous blunder."

All in all, Malhotra's article is highly recommended.

I'm less convinced that a "neo-Taliban" government is necessarily the next stage for Pakistan. Nor did I see a coherent alternative from Mr. Malhotra that would allow the USA to side wholly with India and also deal with Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Waziristan. Not without declaring joint war on a nuclear-armed state. That said, the prevelance of armed Wahhabi and Deobandi elements in Pakistan make Malhotra's long term worries legitimate and very well taken.

Especially given Al-Qaeda's strategy, and the consequences of failure even now over Kashmir.


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SFSU Scoop

By Joe Katzman at 02:14

The SFSU story is a long way from done. We've had some excellent coverage at FoxNews.com, a proposed Action Plan, and finally the great SFSU Blog Burst.

Since then, there have been some new developments on the ground....

During the Blog Burst, Pejman waded in with a legal analysis of the SFSU incident and some thoughts re: the students' options. My sources tell me that a group of Jewish SFSU students has contacted an attorney who has agreed to represent them. They are considering a civil action, and may be making a formal announcement this week.

A letter has also been sent to the major sponsors of SFSU's Jewish Studies program. Some excerpts follow:

"Despite President Corrigan's strongly worded condemnation... now attempting to downplay the incident, characterizing both the Jewish students and the pro-Palestinian students as equally antagonistic and guilty of hateful speech and actions. This could not be further from the truth. I know because I was there, standing with the students....

"I am writing to you because I believe this dismissal is an attempt, in part, to placate Jewish donors with hopes that if ignored, the ugly mess will all go away. I am aware that you are a generous contributor to the University and to the Jewish studies program in particular."

That charge is given support by the following account:
A group of local Muslim leaders recently made an offer to the Jewish students to drop charges against her if they would drop the charges against the Muslim students. Jewish student representatives refused, noting that she is not a member of their organizations and that even if she was, they don't condone her behavior. This response took the leaders and the administration by surprise, suggesting that she was only arrested as a token and a bargaining chip.
It does suggest that, strongly. Even more so when one considers the discrepancy between the behaviour she was charged for and the behaviour the Muslim studients were charged for. They're probably shocked that the "hostage" policy wasn't effective... maybe sensible responses like this aren't in the training manuals. And would these perchance be the same "local Muslim leaders" who refused to show up at a local event with area mayors to condemn the recent spate of anti-semitic incidents in the Bay Area?

Back to the letter:

"I am in the process of collecting evidence in the form of correspondence, student reports and student newspaper articles documenting a pervasive and ongoing climate of anti-Jewish hatred at SFSU going back several decades. Furthermore, I recently read the report published in 1995 by the JCRC. Many of the problems identified in that report continue on campus. The University administration appears to be applying the same remedies that have failed in the past. To affect real change, there will need to be some serious changes in personnel and policy rather than yet another "task force." I would appreciate any support you can provide to help affect these changes."
Good on them for taking this letter to the university's fundraising sources. I'll repeat what I said on June 3rd:

It's fine for Rabbi Kahn and the San Francisco Jewish community to support Corrigan, but they must refuse to fall for "good cop, bad cop" routines and doggedly keep the pressure on at all levels.... Those of us who are rightly aghast at recent events must not allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep by Corrigan's words, instead of insisting on effective action. Otherwise we - and our kids - will just be setting ourselves up for more violence.

UPDATE: Sharkblog hands me exhibit #1 of that very dynamic in action, via (where else?) Berkeley and Alameda County's courts. Charges dropped included assaulting a police officer. This story is exactly why the hatred and violence continue to escalate on our nation's campuses. If the San Francisco Jewish community wants a different result at SFSU, they'll have to fight for it.


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June 10, 2002: Scoops & Second Thoughts

By Joe Katzman at 02:13


Today's blogs lead off with a scoop re: developments at SFSU. The rest of today's postings are about rethinks and commentary on events that have recently passed us by.

Including a reader who has me rethinking my position from a June 6 article here on Winds of Change!

Today's Blogs
  * SFSU Scoop
  * Pakistan: America's Last Chance
  * Mr. Rogers at Dartmouth: A Response to the Critics
  * What's Wrong With Harvard's "Jihad Speech"
  * Harvard bin Laden Divestment... A Bad Idea?


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June 8, 2002

...before it comes from the mouth: Worthy Liberal Blogs

By Joe Katzman at 16:10

Cards on the table: I'm a right wing guy. Most people would call me a neo-conservative. In Canada, I support the Canadian Alliance and really like their new leader Stephen Harper. If I lived in the USA, I'd support John McCain. Much of the Blogosphere right now seems to share those views to some extent.

Which isn't surprising, given how conservatives are treated in most mainstream media outlets. What supporters of Israel are now experiencing on campuses and in newsrooms, has been par for the course for 20 years if you're a conservative (slogan idea: "Join the conservative movement. You don't have to be a Jew to feel like one!"). It took us 20 years to build an alternative media channel, starting with opinion magazines like Commentary and extending to radio talk shows and now the Blogosphere. I'm glad... a lot of stories that would once have been suppressed now become part of the public debate and trigger action.

That's good for everybody.

So I was surfing the web last night, going through a great blog called LakeFX and following his pointers to worthy blogs with a liberal bent.

And I realized how impoverished my blogging experience had become.

Now, don't get me wrong. My friends and allies in the blogosphere, of all bents, inspire me every day. But stepping into this stream of blog-consciousness meant stepping into folks who didn't just look at things differently, they looked at different things. Unlike the idiotarians at Warblogger Watch, or the Justin Raimondo types, they actually had some coherence and intellectual depth. Best of all, they could write.

Their "voice" is one I need to hear. Because hearing it will make me better. And besides... sometimes they're right. Herewith, my preliminary "Liberal-Alternative Blogroll of Honour":

Further nominations welcome.


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...the scales of the heart: Tonecluster On His Workplace Change

By Joe Katzman at 15:36

My Thursday, June 6 post about "Winning at Change" struck a chord with a talented musician, software development leader, and esteemed blogger. It's all one person: Jason Rubenstein of Tonecluster.

Jason dropped me an email telling me about his own experiences with change, and how much the article had resonated with him. I looked at it. It was great. What a worthy blog post to share with others. He agreed - and here it is.

Kotter's points about change are informed by experience, but they're a framework. Jason's experiences are the story of change as it's lived and the role played by your heart as well as your head. It's the real deal, and a perfect complement to Kotter.

Best line in the Jason's article (and there were many good ones): "Remember your mistakes. You may need them later." He also notes that:

The people around you at the office are successful soccer coaches, congregation leaders, scout leaders, home association presidents, cricket club captains, baseball team managers... in other words outside of work they're talented, creative, smart, driven, (hopefully) happy people. If this isn't evident in their behavior in the office, start thinking about creating change, and quickly!
Jason hasn't been at this long (6 years), but he's absorbed the key lessons that have taken other professionals 15 years or more to figure out.

Jason embodies the Sensei Asociates philosophy. Where we deal with web solutions, his specialty is AS/400 systems. If your organization uses these and needs help with its applications, or the relationship between business and IT, consider dropping him a line.


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...if you speak with knowledge: The Onion Spoofs China

By Joe Katzman at 15:17

The Beijing Evening News, which claims a circulation of 1.25 million, translated portions of one of The Onion's stories word-for-word in the international news page of its June 3 edition.

The reprinted version of the May 29 article, which parodies Congress as a Major League Baseball squad who threatened to move without a new Capitol Building, also copied The Onion's would-be blueprint for a new legislative home. Including a retractable dome.

The editor said he had received other calls from readers about the article. "They were also suspicious of the contents."

Told the story came from The Onion and was not true, the editor said, "We would first have to check that out. If it's indeed fake, I'm sure there will be some form of correction."

You mean, as in "correction of your employment status by an embarassed Communist Party"? No loss, that.

Congrats to The Onion, not only for its consistently funny stuff but for cracking the all-time Top 10 list of practical jokes with this lulu.


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Speech is Priceless: Lou Dobbs

By Joe Katzman at 15:14

I was watching CNN earlier this week, when Lou Dobbs did something that absolutely floored me. Charles Johnson of the excellent "Little Green Footballs" blog explains:

Lou Dobbs, host of the nightly CNN business show "Moneyline," said on the air Wednesday that he is abandoning the phrase "war on terror" in favor of the more specific "war on Islamists."

He said the enemy is not terror, but radical Islamists who argue that non-believers should be killed.

"This is not a war against Muslims or Islam or Islamics," Dobbs said. "It is a war against Islamists and all who support them, and if ever there were a time for clarity, it is now. We hope this new policy is a step in the right direction."

Is it ever! It isn't nice. But it's true. And very, very necessary.

This is the act of a decent, honest, and extremely courageous man. To do this in prime time, on a liberal nertwork like CNN... that's impressive. To then follow up on subsequent nights, reiterating it and bringing in experts to add depth and explanation to his viewers regarding the currents in the Islamic world... that's a major public service.

Predictably, there has been an outcry from Arabs abroad (it was shown on CNN Worldwide) and from Islamist sympathizers at home. Lou is catching some major public heat, and he could use some support. Email Moneyline Feedback to let them know what you think!

In prepration for that email, the LGF entry is very much worth your time, especially if you read the post along with all comments. One commentator even segues into a point about the "My American Jihad" Harvard speech that brings 100% crystal clarity to the issue. I'll leave the content of that worthy post as an exercise for my readers... go see!

And while you're at it, survey the best-designed display template in all of blogdom.


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  • Hans Duerichen: Dear Lou, THis letter speaks for itself. I wrote it read more
  • Mike McKenzie: Dear Lou, Please fight for us disabled people like you read more
  • joe paranto: The more you give truthful news the more CNN is read more

Sufi Wisdom: Kabir on Speech

By Joe Katzman at 15:13

From the ecstatic poetry of Kabir:

Speech is priceless
if you speak with knowledge.
Weigh it in the scales of the heart
before it comes from the mouth.
As usual, meaning can be derived on so many levels. The importance of allowing and celebrating honest speech, the duty to be informed when speaking, the "say it test triangle," prohibitions on idle gossip. To the geeks of our time, Kabir's words are the key to success.

The structure of Kabir's poem will be reflected in the structure of this weekend's blog posts.

N.B. A rabbi once explained the "say it test triangle" to me. I still think it's one of the most brilliant things I've ever heard. Imagine a triangle. Along each side a question is spoken: "Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it nice." The test is simple: say something only when at least two of the answers are "yes" (the open angle created is an analogue to an open mouth).


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June 8 & 9: Shabbat Shalom!

By Joe Katzman at 15:12


As many of you know, Saturday is the Jewish Sabbath. On this blog it will always be "good news" day. We will share Sufi wisdom, highlight the acts of good and decent people, and point to amazing discoveries that could benefit humanity. Other blogging days include these things as well, but today we seek to fill our entire day with that.

Since I'm taking my 4-year old nephew to his first major-league baseball game tomorrow, this will be my "weekend set".

Today's Blogs:
* Sufi Wisdom of the Week: Kabir on Speech
* Speech is Priceless: Lou Dobbs
* ...if you speak with knowledge: The Onion Spoofs China
* ...the scales of the heart: Tonecluster on Workplace Change
* ...before it comes from the mouth: Worthy Liberal Blogs


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June 7, 2002

June 7, 2002: The Fallout Continues

By Joe Katzman at 14:06

First of all, thanks to the nameless visitor who pushed Winds of Change over the 20,000 visitor mark after just 2 months of blogging. Equal thanks to the other 19,999, and to every visitor since. I intend to keep producing a blog worthy of your time.

Today's Blogs

I wasn't happy with my post yesterday on the consequences of an Indo-Pakistani nuclear war. On reflection I thought it was poorly organized, and that a number of things needed to be spelled out more for university age readers who didn't grow up during the Cold War.

Plus, Chuck Watson emailed me with some great new material.

"India & Pakistan: Nuclear Fallout, Part 2" got a major, major update and overhaul today. So major that it becomes today's post(s) as well. Scroll down a bit to see it, or follow this link.


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June 6, 2002

Cal Thomas Says: Time to Seize the Offensive

By Joe Katzman at 04:09

What he says. Fall in!


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A Harvard Divestment Drive We Like

By Joe Katzman at 03:59

(Thanks to Scott Armel of Berkeley for the tip)

Speaking of Harvard, here's a divestment drive that deserves our support... asking Harvard University to give back the endowments made by the Bin Laden family, as their ties to terrorism become harder and harder to deny. As you'll see from following the link, Harvard isn't exactly being cooperative.

The Bin Laden effort is certainly a nice contrast with the MIT-Harvard petition to divest from Israel and U.S. companies that do business with Israel. (WSJ Best of the Web notes that the divestment petition has 533 signatures, vs. 5,832 for a Harvard-only antidivestment petition.)

Just what's with Harvard these days, anyway? The place needs one big injection of sense - and signals are decidedly mixed. On the dark side we have the Bin Laden evasions, commencement follies, and much more. On the positive side we have the firing of that charlatan Cornell West, the anti-divestment petition's success, and Natalie "Queen Amidala" Portman.

Where's Yoda when you really need him?


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John Kotter on Winning at Change

By Joe Katzman at 03:55

When we talk about 4GW, or technology developments, or even local political activism, we're really talking about change in our world.

That's the whole theme of "Winds of Change."

It's one thing to see change coming. It's quite another to convince organizations to do new things as a result, or to turn around an ailing group/department/division. Believe it or not, Jason, I don't work for Tom Clancy. Instead, I'm a partner in Sensei Associates, a consulting firm that helps companies improve their bottom lines by intelligently harnessing technology to their marketing strategy and business processes.

The technology isn't the hard part. Intelligently designing and incorporating it into "the way we do things around here" is. Yet that's the part that makes all the difference to the bottom line results. I harp on this point when talking about 4th Generation Warfare (4GW), I know - but it comes from observation and experience.

Organizational change has been a focus of mine for over 20 years now. To all of you potential change agents out there, Harvard's John Kotter and his book "Leading Change" remain one of the best sources I've found, a useful framework built on (and true to) real life experience. It's built around his 8-step process:

   1. Establish a Sense of Urgency
   2. Form a Powerful Guiding Coalition
   3. Create a Vision
   4. Communicate the Vision
   5. Empower Others to Act on the Vision
   6. Plan for and Create Short-Term Wins
   7. Consolidate Improvements and Produce Still More Change
   8. Institutionalize New Approaches

Here's some more useful background and tips from the master, courtesy of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation. Use them in your own efforts to create and lead change, and make a difference!


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DodgeBlog on Rock N' Roll & Liberty

By Joe Katzman at 03:34

Okay, I confess: I'm a metalhead. Which doesn't stop me from enjoying The Grateful Dead, or Beethoven, or Son Searls, or even John Denver. But there are days when what I really want is some "heathenous" (Flora's term) AC/DC, Black Sabbath, or whatever. The best concert I've ever attended was Black Sabbath's reunion tour with Ozzy... and in its aftermath, I composed the only free verse I've ever published.

Winds of Change has also dealt with the power of Rock N' Roll as a potent cultural weapon.

So it's no surprise that Andrew Iain Dodge is a Brit whose comments on metal music and culture rate highly with this Canadian rocker. He leads off with a series of essays about the link between Rock N' Roll and liberty:

* Sex, Drugs & Rock N' Roll Series

He probably should have kept them together for easier reading, because they aren't that long. But reception was very positive, and some prodding from InstaPundit led him to publish a pair of follow-up essays.

* The Heavy Metal Crowd
* Hard Rock's Softer Side: The Power Ballad

If you're a metalhead, or a tough chick - or would like to date/understand one - these essays are for you.

UPDATE: Catallaxy Files responds with a similar post about Jazz, another insidious Western vice with a proud history of driving haters and totalitarians crazy. But then, WoC readers already knew that.

FYI: The second best concert I've ever attended was The Grateful Dead at Copps Colliseum; #3 was George Thorogood at the Ottawa Civic Centre, a small venue that held only 2,000 or so. George is something else live, and in a small venue... it was impressive.


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India & Pakistan: Nuclear Fallout, Part 2

By Joe Katzman at 03:15

(Updated June 7,2002)


72 hr. Fallout Patterns
(click picture to view full size)

Before I go any farther, I'm going to start by saying that I don't think it will come to this in the next little while. Especially with monsoon season coming, which will make extended military operations very difficult and so give both parties a face-saving out.

My May 23 posts explained the reasoning behind my belief in more depth, then answered some of InstaPundit's questions about the effects on the USA of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. Since then, a couple of crackerjack bloggers have made contributions, and research has given me some extra data to work with.

Plus, I know that many of you are asking about these issues. Hence this update and recap.

For starters, note the pictures above. They'll give you a quickie look at the geography of Kashmir, and also the likely radioactive fallout pattern 72 hrs. after nuclear strikes in the Kashmir area, Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, Delhi, Ahmedabad, and Bombay. Chuck Watson of "Shoutin' Across the Pacific" is responsible for this excellent fallout research. He also notes that the high-altitude fallout (purple lines) will only be mildly dangerous, owing to the small size of the bombs involved and the tendency of the "hottest" particles to drop out at lower altitudes.

Impressive work. It gets better.

-- Nuclear Bomb Effects --

Nuclear weapons make a very big bang, but most of the damage they do isn't from the initial fireball.

  • The supersonic shockwave literally blows buildings down like the Big Bad Wolf, depending on how flimsy and far away they are. The shockwave also turns windows and assorted other objects (cars, for instance) into a wall of flying missiles that travels for miles.
  • Then there's radiation of various types, which strikes some near the blast directly. Depending on how far away you are and how well protected, the effects can range from sunburn to fatal.
  • Radiation also strikes the objects nearby. If the bomb strike is a "ground burst," that newly-radioactive dirt et. al. gets thrown high into the air by the mushroom cloud. What went up, must come down. That's fallout, and because it's radioactive it's dangerous. Too much exposure will kill you.
  • Fires rage afterward, not so much from the blast as from broken gas lines, smoldering wreckage being ignited later, etc. This often happens after earthquakes, too, for similar reasons. Worse, these fires can easily become one huge firestorm, whose hurricane-force winds and flames literally suck the oxygen from their area. A firestorm will probably kill more people than the blast did. Note that both India and Pakistan have cities that are pretty fire-prone to begin with due to lots of trash, inflammable building materials, etc.
  • Finally, there's incidental damage. The blast, shockwave, fires, and radiation sickness destroys a lot of public services, even as it sends demand for them beyond the ability to cope. In that environment, even a minor illness like severe diarrhea can kill you. Dehydrated now? Sorry, the water mains are broken. You can drink from that stagnant pool over there, but if you get sick the doctors are dead or busy (and if it's been a few days, that pool is dangerously radioactive). Ah, you collected rainwater yourself! Very smart to avoid the infection risk, but those rains were highly radioactive and you probably just drank a lethal dose. Burned? Broke an ankle hunting around in the rubble? Got a cut? Better hope infection doesn't set in. Drugstore for antibiotics? Sorry, the pharmacists died when the building fell on them.
It doesn't help that neither India nor Pakistan has a major civil defense program in place.

The Federation of American Scientists explains nuclear bomb effects in detail, including relevant "danger distances" for 20kT weapons of the type India and Pakistan have. The aftermath, you can see up above in living colour.

-- Who Has What... and What Is That? --

Georgia State University's Physics Department offers a good explanation of the technical basics of atomic weapons. Now you're ready to read Jane's Defense Review, which offers us a pretty good guess at the size and composition of India and Pakistan's nuclear arsenals.

Note that some experts think both sides are slightly overestimating their bombs' explosive power, expressed in "kilotons (kT)". The statistic of 43kT for India's thermonuclear (hydrogen) bombs is particularaly disputed. About 15-20kT is the most frequent "adjusted estimate" range given for both countries' weapons.

The A-bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were about 18kT and 20kT, respectively.

-- "Nuclear Kashmir" Casualty Estimates --

New Scientist magazine recently found a study that estimates 2.9 million dead and 1.5 million injured if India and Pakistan used just 10% of their arsenals. This estimate represents immediate casualties only. Using a terminal for the USA's CATS estimation system, the Washington Times came up with a very detailed immediate casualties accounting of its own.

Recall our discussion above of "incidental damage," and let me give you an example. Both contaminated food/water and chemotherapy-level radiation exposure can induce diarrhea. Health infrastructure in India and Pakistan is a bit thin to begin with, and many people are used to getting water from local rivers, wells, etc. Diarrhea seems harmless, but if the infrastructure isn't there it's a killer. Between death by dehydration and death by drinking irradiated water, we could be looking at an awful lot of bodies from that cause alone.

Chuck Watson of "Shoutin' Across the Pacific" does disaster planning for a living. Thousands of lives have probably been saved as a result of his work. As Mr. Watson writes via email:

"...my company develops numerical models of geophysical hazards, concentrating on meteorological hazards such as hurricanes and other severe weather, as well as earthquakes, and tsunamis. But we also do extreme "human" hazards, such as nuclear or chemical disasters. We apply both satellite and aircraft remote sensing and computer cluster technologies (such as Beowulf clusters) to run high resolution computer models of hazardous events for government agencies and business. The Savannah nuke graphic [JK: coming in a future Winds of Change post!], as well as the Indo-Pak fallout graphics, are using our "simple" models. The more detailed models are either classified or proprietary (or both), but these aren't too far off the mark.
He estimates that the successful 10-weapon nuclear exchange pictured above would kill 15 million when "incidentals" and other things are figured in, with total deaths that might reach 100 million+ over 1-5 years if we include fallout, medical system collapses in other cities as fallout effects spread, social unrest and riots, diseases that spread from all those decomposing bodies, short-term cancer deaths, etc.

Over to Chuck for one more alarming note:

"I assumed (as DIA probably did as well) strikes on each sides reactors and nuclear infrastructure, which would add to the destruction and radiological disaster. I haven't seen any other long term (1 to 5 year) loss estimates - depending on winds and political conditions, that 100M number could be high or low by a factor of 3."
It's good to keep in mind that these estimates are always an inexact science. But the ranges under discussion are quite reliable, and sobering. The fact that they are not news to Indian or Pakistani defense planners is cause for cautious optimism.

-- Further Implications --

On June 4th, Winds of Change discussed 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) and its connection with weapons of mass destruction (WMD). On June 5th, we outlined a second kind of 4GW-WMD connection, in which the terrorists don't need to have nuclear weapons in order to trigger their use.

Oh, one more thing. India and Pakistan's arsenals are mostly made up of bombs mounted on aircraft. In attempting to deliver their bombs, it's very likely that some of those planes will be shot down. Anyone seen "The Sum of All Fears" (N.B. the book's terrorists were Islamic and backed by Iran)? Clancy is right that nuclear bombs do not detonate in crashes... way too dangerous, otherwise.

The scenarios that could ensue from unrecovered nuclear weapons amidst a stituaton of massive chaos, in regions where Al-Qaeda is known to have a significant presence... are too obvious to explain in detail.

This is, frankly, a problem that Pakistan created twice. First in Kashmir directly. Second, through its support of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Jason at Tonecluster steps in with excerpts from an excellent RAND document, detailing Pakistan's ongoing role in Kashmiri terrorism. As Jason notes: "A bunch of nuts is one thing. A bunch of well-armed nuts actively sponsored by a nuclear-capable state is completely another."

What he said. It doesn't take much to see how this connects with the "What's Up Doc?" scenarios for al-Qaeda that I posted on June 5th. Having summoned the ifrit, Pakistan is finding that it doesn't want to go back into the bottle. The servant may now be the master, in control of events.

That's what ifrit do.

Even so, I beleieve the Kashmir situation to be containable. By contrast, shift your imagination to the nuclear development programs of Iraq and Iran... then ask yourself if President Bush might have a point when he talks about a pre-emptive strategy.

UPDATE: I have such great readers. Dean Cheng noted that 1,000 tons = 2,000,000 pounds. Yup - late night brain freeze. David Gillies then chimed in again from Costa Rica, to tell me that TNT equivalent is no longer the measure. "...it was redefined (by the DoE I think) to be exactly 10^12 (one trillion) calories or 4.18 x 10^12 Joules. That's a better measure as it scales properly with increasing yield whereas blast, thermal and prompt radiation do not go up linearly with yield (blast and thermal dominate over radiation as yield goes up and getting 1000 tons of TNT in one place is tricky, let alone a million)."

Now we know. For me, being able to draw on unexpected deep expertise like David's and Chuck's is the true genius of the Blogosphere.


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June 6, 2002: Fallout, and Fall In!

By Joe Katzman at 03:08


(India-Pakistan Nuclear Fallout Post Updated June 7)

Yesterday's "What's Up Doc?" post re: al-Qaeda's latest threat, its strategic situation, and some possible scenarios is now complete. Special thanks to Vodkapundit, who wrote what may be the best referral I've received since I began blogging about 2 months ago.

Today, we start with a graphic reminder of what the al-Qaeda instigated Pakistan-India situation risks, and the consequences of failure. Radioactive fallout pattern graphics are no laughing matter. From there, however, we have a more upbeat cadence of writings to fall in behind - from rock n' roll's relationship to liberty, to tips for succeeding at organizational change, to a clarion call from Cal Thomas. Fall in!

Today's Blogs
  * India & Pakistan: Nuclear Fallout, Part 2
  * DodgeBlog on Rock N' Roll & Liberty
  * John Kotter on Winning at Change
  * A Harvard Divestment Drive We Like
  * Cal Thomas Says: Time to Seize the Offensive


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June 5, 2002

June 5, 2002: Al-Qaeda Warning - What's Up, Doc?

By Joe Katzman at 02:25

By now, you've no doubt read the stories about the latest Al-Qaeda threat against the USA, as delivered by al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman bu Ghaith and published Sunday in the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat.

There was a threat of this type issued about 3 weeks before Sept. 11. What's the purpose of this one?

I'm not sure what Al-Qaeda could do right now that wouldn't be massively counterproductive, since the US threat alerts take care of its core strategic necessity - ensuring that the Islamic world believes it has struck against the USA and survived. Besides which, their operation to create a war between India and Pakistan is going rather well so far.

Right now, everything's a guess. So let's set the strategic background, then look at 3 possibilities.

-- The Strategic Backdrop --

Jane's (and others) note Al-Qaeda's interest in a war between India and Pakistan, a fact acknowledged in Winds of Change a couple of weeks ago.

STRATFOR summarizes:

"From al Qaeda's viewpoint, an Indian attack on Pakistan would be highly desirable. Even an attack involving nuclear weapons would be acceptable, particularly if it served to isolate and protect regions in which al Qaeda dominates. That's why Pakistani-based Islamic militants aligned with al Qaeda have persistently exacerbated the crisis between the two countries. In the long run they see an India-Pakistan war as an acceptable price to pay for their ultimate goals, even if it results in the destruction of Pakistan."
Al-Qaeda sees 3 key benefits from continued hostility:

1. Distracts Musharraf from potentially hostile actions in Waziristan.

2. Potential regime change to a weaker or friendlier leader, either of which enhances their ability to continue operating from Pakistan as their main base.

3. If war breaks out, India can be portrayed as part of the Christian-Jewish-Hindu conspiracy against Muslims, hopefully helping to incite widespread jihad in the Islamic world.

Tactics: move to the Pakistani-controlled region of Kashmir and perpetrate enough terrorism to force an Indian response. Miss few opportunities to worsen the situation via well timed attacks, in order to up the ante. Take full advantage of Kashmir's importance to Pakistani nationalism, in order to paralyze the Pakistani government. Add to that Al-Qaeda's dispersal throughout Pakistan's cities and remaining ISI contacts, all of which keeps Musharraf unsure of his ability to turn on Al-Qaeda and survive.

OK, but what if this goes nuclear? Isn't that carrying the martyrdom thing a bit far? Chillingly, the answer is: "not necessarily."

Yes, Al-Qaeda cadres in the cities could die - if they remain there once hostilities break out. But even in a nuclear exchange, the lawless wastelands of Waziristan and Baluchistan on the western border would not be primary targets... or even within the main fallout patterns. The port city of Karachi, by contrast, would glow like a nite-light. As Pakistan's major port, Karachi is critical to US supply lines in the area.

Throw in the likely humanitarian crisis and plans to evacuate over 250,000 Westerners, and the West's militaries would be much too busy to deal with Al-Qaeda for many months at least. Nuclear war may not be thinkable for Musharraf or for India, but Al-Qaeda is not the first Islamofascist movement to have a different view.

Which is not to say that they hope for nuclear war... but they may not be overly concerned about the costs of one.

So, Al-Qaeda's strategy in Pakistan is clear. The game is "let's you and him fight." The goal is war, leading to a land so fragmented that Al-Qaeda can safely operate there for a long time to come. Even nuclear war is acceptable, but an averted war might still be useful. Because the USA is a superpower with interests it must protect, it cannot help but become distracted from the War on Terror by this unfolding drama. Should the worst occur, it cannot help but turn many of its resources toward aid and restoration. Its strength and assets are thus turned against it.

Terrorism doesn't adequately describe this, folks. Welcome to 4th Generation Warfare.

Now, what's unacceptable to Al-Qaeda? A settlement between India and Pakistan that leaves the United States as broker, arbiter and balance-keeper for both countries. In Al-Qaeda's worst scenario, the USA becomes Pakistan's main protection against India, in exchange for greater cooperation on anti-terrorism measures. Meanwhile, India and the USA also continue to move closer together, slowly tightening the bonds of economic and military cooperation. Al-Qaeda would find itself squeezed hard in Pakistan and Afghanistan, facing the growing need for a mass exodus and few sure routes or destinations.

That scenario must therefore be prevented at all costs.

-- Option #1: A Real Attack --

In warfare, there are several basic strategies. Formenting an India/Pakistan war is an annihilation strategy against the Pakistani government, and a near-term exhaustion strategy with respect to the USA and its allies. The unconventional execution of that strategy is what makes it 4th Generation, and its scope makes it warfare rather than terrorism.

In the lead-up to that strong 4GW move, however, tactics aimed at attrition and paralysis can play important roles.

Let's parse bu Ghaith's statement closely, shall we? I'll use this Pakistani report, since it contains more detail.

Al Qaeda "will continue to work to strike against the United States"

Well, duh. Note, however, that he didn't say within the United States. Most of Al-Qaeda's attacks have been carried out on foreign soil.

The group "will continue to work to strike against Americans and Jews and to target them, be it individuals or infrastructure."

The "individuals" reference got my attention.

"What is in waiting for the Americans will not be inferior to what the United States has already gone through," Abu Ghaith said.

Over what time frame, he does not say. Don't assume this means another 9/11 scale operation.

"Let America be prepared to fasten its seat belt because, thanks to God, we are going to surprise it in a place where it is not expecting."

Kind of hard to surprise America in a place where it is expecting, isn't it?

Right now, the most effective thing Al-Qaeda could do would probably be to assassinate Donald Rumsfeld when America's favorite butt-kicker heads to Pakistan for talks. The benefits would be several-fold:

1. It remove a key player shaping the US strategy (and media response, a critical center of gravity in a netwar like this).

2. It offers good odds of derailing US mediation efforts that might defeat Al-Qaeda's "war with India" strategy, and would definitely increase the pressure on Pakistan's government to take very unpopular actions in Waziristan and Kashmir.

3. Both effects contribute to the Al-Qaeda goal of removing Musharraf and creating a fragmented (or even ruined) Pakistan from which Al-Qaeda can operate safely.

4. Unlike, say, shooting down the President's helicopter, killing Rumsfeld would not in and of itself justify much more in the way of retaliation than is currently being done. The lack of meaningful consequences for the recent assassinations of a hard-line Israeli cabinet minister and a key Italian political player have to be encouraging from Al-Qaeda's point of view.

All in all, a pretty positive scorecard for Al-Qaeda.

Pulling this operation off would be a trick and a half, as the move doesn't exactly qualify as "unexpected". Then again, it would be much, much easier to move the reported Stingers, SA-7s, or whatever into Pakistan as opposed to the USA. What if the intelligence tip is partly right, but the focus is "American" and not "America"? Given that many Soviet war vintage Stingers may not be in working order, it makes sense to hoard the few that remain for maximum effect. This may be such a time.

Multiple Stingers could be used to defeat a "dummy helicopters" defense, and even improve one's odds against flare defenses, etc. Or perhaps Al-Qaeda can use other means to get the job done. Regardless, the key is having insiders who can supply correct information about Rumsfeld's routes and/or arrival times. Which means any assassination operation hinges on the loyalties and remaining reach of Pakistan's ISI.

Look, it's just a scenario. It's not an implausible scenario, though, and certainly fits Al-Qaeda's strategic needs much more closely than another terrorist attack in the USA.

I hope Rumsfeld is very careful during his trip.

-- Option #2: Calculated Bluff --

In this alternative, Al-Qaeda's recent threat may simply be bluff, part of the normal back and forth of warnings and false reports designed to throw the other side off balance.

Like most 4GW conflicts, the USA nor Al-Qaeda are both guessing about exactly what their adversary knows. The USA can issue warnings and see if there are any reactions by Al-Qaeda groups who believe their cover is blown. Al-Qaeda can issue threats that help overload the USA's response capabilities, and also give them an opportunity to see how the USA responds. And so it goes. STRATFOR suggests that Al-Qaeda may be looking to shift the focus of Rumsfeld's visit away from India-Pakistan, and toward their presence in Pakistan. I'd say it's equally likely that they're trying to shift the CIA's attention.

Regardless, issuing their threat so soon after the recent media blitz of warnings from Cheney et. al. and the Congressional "intelligence failure" inquiries shows very good timing.

In a calculated bluff scenario, the credibility hit from an "unfulfilled" threat is acceptable if it takes the USA's attention away from the larger game. The India war is Al-Qaeda's real game, and pressure on Musharraf to focus on Waziristan only adds to his paralysis. With the USA immobilized by threats and Pakistan immobilized by competing strategic pressures, the key then becomes bringing India into play via terrorism. Let the war begin.

That's the general plan, anyway.

The plan's strength is the extremely low commitment required to achieve a very large result. Its weakness is the ease with which it can be defeated... all the USA has to do is ignore the threat when meeting with India and Pakistan.

Since there are many incentives for doing exactly that, Al-Qaeda would have to assume that it has succeeded in sowing terror to the point that the American leadership's decision process is collapsing and they are retreating into an "internal" orientation. Adopting the calculated bluff strategy at this time would represent a fundamental misunderstanding by Al-Qaeda of its enemy's mental state.

The question for the CIA et. al. thus becomes: does such a misunderstanding exist within Al-Qaeda, especially at the senior leadership levels? If there are allied agents inside Al-Qaeda, their sense of how the group sees America right now is a very valuable clue that can only come from spies (HUMINT), not machines (TECHINT).

-- Option #3: Red Herring --

Again, recall the strategic priority of Al-Qaeda: security against threats to their Pakistani operating bases. In this option, Al-Qaeda has identified a way to further its ends that may not involve the Americans... but since everyone "knows" the fight is between the USA and Al-Qaeda, a threat aimed in the Americans' direction might be seen as an effective way to distract the real target.

This strategy could pay off if there's a large India operation brewing, for instance. Still, there are hundreds of thousands of soldiers along the border areas right now. It would be hard to execute something big that wasn't already in place as of a few months ago... and if it was in place then, it probably would have been used by now.

An Israeli operation would be even harder to execute. That said, the recent Pi Gilot oil terminal effort would certainly qualify as the kind of huge distraction whose consequences and aftermath would serve Al-Qaeda well.

Still, likely targets are already pretty focused on security for local reasons. Worse, a threat directed the Americans' way only adds an extra burst of effort from the USA. This strategy doesn't look like a probable winner, unless there's some kind of special local opportunity coming up.

-- So What Now? --

The strategic priority of Al-Qaeda is security against threats to their Pakistani operating bases, which means the weakening of Pakistan's government and creation of an environment that is more hostile to American intervention. The scenarios above detail some of the ways this scenario might be pursued.

Other options exist. Yet the strategic underpinning does not change. The tension between those two simple statements gives us our realm of likely possibilities for major central operations (as opposed to more local cell efforts).

The USA needs to work with that in mind, take reasonable precautions, and evaluate different scenarios that look at the situation from Al-Qaeda's perspective. Which I'm sure they're doing. A diversity of scenarios is especially important.

My writings aren't meant to be predictions, just a contribution that brings some clarity to the background and stretches your mind a bit. As bloggers and citizens consider these important issues and discuss them, I hope you find today's analysis and scenarios useful and thought-provoking.


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June 4, 2002

India: New Carrier May Become Nuclear Command Center

By Joe Katzman at 11:56

Defense News reports that India has prepared a detailed plan to establish a mobile nuclear command center on the "Admiral Gorshkov" aircraft carrier it is purchasing from Russia.

Supposedly included is a request for the Russians to build and integrate a mobile nuclear missile launcher on the ship, using a modified Agni missile. The total deal for the Admiral Gorshkov carrier could cost India over $2 billion for purchase, modifications, and equipment, plus another bilion or so for the aircraft.

India has been doing a lot of research on the Agni of late, and this would appear to be a way for the navy to bolster its importance by being seen as a nuclear player. I think that's probably a diversion from the Indian Navy's best strategic purpose. Then again, having a less-vulnerable component to India's nuclear command and delivery will lower the risk of nuclear war on the sub-continent.

Which is not a bad trade-off.

With the addition of 21 MiG-29K aircraft, navigation and carrier-landing aids, 12 P-500 Bazalt (SS-N-19 Shipwreck) anti-ship missiles and new control radars, the Admiral Gorshkov could make a very mobile and defensible command center that would be highly likely to survive any nuclear first strike by Pakistan or China.

Now let's talk about arms race dynamics, and some likely consequences.

If Defense News is right about the carrier's purpose, the importance of Pakistan's program to build those French Agosta-class attack submarines just went way up. Unfortunately, Al-Qaeda's recent car bombing in Karachi killed 11 French engineers working on that very project. Don't expect those sumarines to arrive as scheduled in 2003 and 2005.

India, meanwhile, may have just put some very important eggs in a naval basket. Submarine defense thus becomes a major priority... which means an inevitable move toward a slimmed-down version of the USA's "Carrier Battlegroup" strategy. That means a central carrier protected by anti-submarine frigate and corvettes, air-defense ships, etc. It would be a big accelerator to the develoopment of the Indian Navy, and the Navy knows it.

Once that new direction is underway, it will also change some of India's power projection capabilities, and thus the diplomatic balances around Southeast Asia.

An Indian naval base at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam by 2010? Maybe.

It could be very timely if Indonesia were to distintegrate a few years hence, for instance... a very real possibility as al-Qaeda continues to expand its foothold there. Piracy is already a problem in that area, and the Australians have been hiring Canadian naval officers for a few years now in open anticipation of military action involving Indonesia. Should that scenario materialize, a USA-India-Australia alliance would be an effective bedrock for any coalition effort to contain any growth in Chinese influence, protect the shipping lanes, and deal with Abu-Sayyaf types on the islands. Recent US moves in the Philippines will also be helpful... more on those another day.

The British had a similar idea for a semi-important backwater a long time ago - I believe its realization was known as "The Monroe Doctrine".
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Two New UAVs (robot planes)

By Joe Katzman at 11:15

We've dealt with UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or remote-control aircraft) a couple of times here on Winds of Change.

In "Robot Planes, Human Soldiers," we discussed what it would take for surveillance UAVs to become truly useful to soldiers in battle, as opposed to flying robot nannies. Gunner20's real-life story about a lieutenant who received a medal and a reprimand for the same firefight really drove that point home. My recent piece on Israel's rethinking of its military priorities took that point one step further, noting that robot vehicles had a significant role to play in their plans as well... if they could be meshed with the needs of soldiers on the ground.

Recently, a couple of bulletins revealed some interesting developments.

(1) Sentry Owl. Defense News reports that the U.S. Air Force has rushed into production a new 10-pound unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to help its security forces protect front-line bases.

Developed by Lockheed Martin's famous Skunk Works, the Sentry Owl Force Protection Airborne Surveillance System will be deployed some time this summer at a few critical locations. The battery-powered aircraft can apparently fly at altitudes of a few hundred feet for more than an hour. That will help protect fixed bases on a "pop up and look around" basis, especially if one is dealing with potential Stinger missile threats to an airfield and needs to survey the surroundings quickly.

That wasn't why Sentry Owl grabbed my attention, though.

Instead, what went through my mind was the thought that Sentry Owl is a big step toward a UAV that can be carried and used by an infantry squad in urban warfare. As I've said earlier, the technology is coming. The question is one of doctrine and fast incorporation into military training. If protecting bases is just a quick way of getting Sentry Owl into the field, great. If that comes to define and limit its mission, however, the technology will have been wasted.

I'll say it again: it's about imagination, flexibility, and the human element - not the technology.

(2) The Boeing X-45. Unlike the Predators, which are surveillance platforms with weapons bolted on, this is an unmanned combat plane. Designed to "hunt in packs," the X-45 will carry up to 3,000 pounds of guided bombs to dump on enemy radar and surface-to-air missile batteries when it is deployed in combat.

That's very useful for operations aimed at blowing holes in enemy air defenses. It also holds a lot of promise for the Army's "Objective Force" plans, which mirrors some things the Marines are doing with their Expeditionary Units. The Marines have their own aircraft for integrated air support, but the Army doesn't... unless the UAVs can be developed under their umbrella. Get the picture?

We'll talk about "Objective Force" some more over the next couple of days.

So, the X-35 recently made a successful maiden flight. That said, it isn't going to "stand up" and go into service any time soon. "It looks like these things have a lot of promise and we are relatively bullish on them for a lot of applications, but there are a lot of bugs with them, as there are with all vehicles, and the way you work them out is by flying them," analyst Glenn Buchan told The Associated Press. (Thanks to the San Jose Mercury's "Good Morning Silicon Valley" for the link.)


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4GW: What is 4th Generation Warfare?

By Joe Katzman at 08:02

As you may have noticed, I'm spending more time on this blog covering what I call "4th Generation Warfare" (4GW), a term that includes cyberwarfare, terrorism, "netwars", et. al.

Still, you ask, what exactly is 4GW? What makes it different? What are the key principles? Glad you asked.


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Stinger Alerts - Weapon Backgrounds

By Joe Katzman at 07:11

Multiple news reports say that the terrorists may have smuggled shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles into the United States. No missiles have yet been found, however, which suggests that it's a publicized intelligence tip.

US officials said these intelligence reports followed the discovery earlier this month of an empty SA-7 missile launcher near Prince Sultan Air Base. The Saudis "could not determine whether the launcher had fired a missile," and they apparently destroyed it before U.S. military or intelligence officials could examine it. (How convenient.)

At least this warning is specific enough that logical actions can be taken: broader airport security sweeps, special measures for planes containing important people, etc. To understand the threat, however, you need to understand the devices they're talking about.

Winds of Change is happy to oblige.


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Al-Qaeda's Threat: The Kuwaiti Angle

By Joe Katzman at 07:09

By now, you've no doubt read the stories about the latest Al-Qaeda threat against the USA, as delivered by al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman bu Ghaith and published Sunday in the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat.

Here's a part you may have missed.

The Kuwaitis stripped Sulaiman bu Ghaith of his citizenship in October 2001. Would you believe that on the same day this new threat was issued, the Emir of Kuwait made a special decree that grants Kuwaiti citizenship to bu Ghaith's daughter? Wonder who she's set up to marry... and why the Emir thinks this is a good idea.

Unfortunately, my source only offers French translations from the Arabic, but you can get the picture even if all your French comes from watching Pepe Le Pew:

Le Koweït accorde sa nationalité à la fille du porte-parole d'Al Qaïda (Al-Quds Al Arabi, London)

"Le ministre de l'Intérieur du Koweït a affirmé que son pays a accordé la nationalité koweïtienne à la fille de Sleiman Abou Al-Ghaïth, le porte-parole d'Al-Qaïda, alors que les autorités avaient déchu le père de sa nationalité. Hajer Abou Al-Ghaïth a bénéficié d'un décret de l'émir du Koweït, totalement contraire à la loi."

Thanks to RG Fulton for tipping me off on this one, and to David Gillies for the traslation correction. RG, I worry about you sometimes, but I must admit you have a remarkable ability to uncover stuff like this.

ADDENDUM: Tomorrow I'm going to spend a fair bit of time talking about Al-Qaeda's latest threat and what it could mean, including a look at the strategic background and some possibilities for Osama and friends. Their best tactical move is probably the assassination of U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during his Pakistan visit, but that's no easy task to say the least. It's also not the same thing as Al-Qaeda's larger stratregy. We'll talk about that, too.


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June 4, 2002: Warnings, Warfare, and Weapons

By Joe Katzman at 07:09


First off, thanks to Chris Matthews' Hardball Blog for linking into my "Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think" posting re: SFSU.

Today, I have some military analysis from around the web, and build on some of my earlier work around "4th Generation Warfare (4GW)" - what it means, and some looks at where we're headed. That's going to be very relevant to tomorrow's main feature, which will be a close look at Al-Qaeda's latest threat, and what it might mean in the context of their current strategic situation.

Today's Blogs
  * Al-Qaeda's Threat: The Kuwaiti Angle
  * Stinger Alerts - Weapon Backgrounds
  * 4GW: What is 4th Generation Warfare?
  * 4GW: Two New UAVs (robot planes)
  * India: New Carrier May Become Nuclear Command Center


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June 3, 2002

Bafflegab Decoder: Research Phraseology Guide

By Joe Katzman at 02:16

Here at Winds of Change, I always try to end on a positive note. Email correspondent RG Fulton recently pointed me at a handy phrase dictionary.

As the author notes: "The following list of phrases and their definitions might help you understand the mysterious language of science (including psychology) and medicine. These special phrases are also applicable to anyone reading a Ph.D. dissertation or academic paper."


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If We Fail: Will Warren's "Song of An Animal Lover"

By Joe Katzman at 00:31

The SFSU events are not an isolated phenomenon. We've recently seen where official tolerance of violence and the kind of rhetoric and vilification present at SFSU can lead us.

"Song of an Animal Lover" deals with that warning, the assassination of Dutch Politican Pim Fortuyn. An excerpt:

Through gently rolling countryside
I often take my strolls;
I love to watch the tender mares
Attending to their foals,
I love the woodland creatures wild,
The squirrels, rabbits, voles -
And if you do not love them too,
I’ll drill you full of holes.
Poetry often works on levels prose can't reach. Like "The Dean's Box," this Will Warren poem is highly recommended.


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What Effective Activism Looks Like

By Joe Katzman at 00:26

I've talked about this somewhat in the "Winds of Change SFSU Political Action Plan." The Simon Wiesenthal Center offers a good example of what I'm talking about. Meticulous documentation, going over the universities' head to the people who control the purse strings, and specific demands for strong sanctions against those who trade in violence and hate.

This is what will win the battle against bigotry and intimidation at places like SFSU, Berkeley, et. al.

April 12, 2002

Governor Gray Davis
1st Floor State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Davis:

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has been receiving reports of increased antisemitic threats, attacks and intimidation across California, particularly in and around the campus of U.C. Berkeley and San Francisco State University. All of these incidents are linked with the tragic events in the Middle East and against the backdrop of a well-organized, nonstop vilification of Israel.

Some of the specific disturbing incidents that have left Jewish students physically intimidated and socially isolated at UC Berkeley:

1. Palestinian and Muslim students rejected invitations to dialogue and cooperation with Jewish students-even in the face of the terrible carnage of September 11.

2. A February, 2002 conference organized by Students for Justice in Palestine to train student leaders to launch anti-Israel "divestment" efforts on campuses nationwide which Hillel's director and the Jewish Student Union president who attended were subjected to harassment and attempts at intimidation

3. Anti-Israel rhetoric and criticism "leaking" into classes across disciplines as faculty speak critically of Israel... evening classes where the Middle East situation is in no way related to the topic of the class, with professors whose areas of academic focus and whose classes have nothing to do with the Middle East speaking critically of Israel in the classroom

4. Simchat Torah 2001... A participant in Hillel's Simchat Torah celebration was assaulted near campus on the corner at Telegraph and Bancroft.

5. December 2001... A member of Chabad was assaulted on campus while walking from BART to Chabad on College Avenue in Berkeley.

Events of the past two weeks:

1. March 27, 2002... Antisemitic graffiti was scrawled at Hillel and Hillel's front door (glass) was smashed with a cement block

2. April 3, 2002... Two members of Chabad were attacked near campus, one of whom required hospitalization.

3. Week of Passover, 2000... multiple incidents on antisemitic and/or anti-Israel graffiti and disturbing phone calls to Jewish organizations

4. April 9, 2002... Rally on campus condemning Israeli "apartheid, colonialism, racism" culminating in storming and occupation of Wheeler Hall, on-campus building. 78 demonstrators arrested, fined and released, one demonstrator arrested and jailed for assault on a UC police officer

Governor Davis, I also enclose a flyer for an April 9, 2002 protest by Muslim students at SFSU that uses Nazi-like vile anti-Judaic imagery that conjures up the infamous medieval 'Blood Libel.'

As a result of these and other outrages, some Jewish students have felt the need to remove their kipot (traditional skullcap), while walking on campus.

Governor Davis, this type of intimidation and fear has no place in American society. We urge your immediate and involvement to help to restore an environment where all views can be heard on California college campuses without fear of intimidation and violence.

We therefore:

a. Urge that an investigation is launched by your office to ascertain the facts on the ground
b. We ask the UC Regents to review security procedures so as to better monitor and thwart hate crimes against any group of students
c. You instruct UC Regents to review state funding of any campus group that contributes to this environment of hate, intimidation and violence

On behalf of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Jewish students on campus, I thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this crisis.

Sincerely,
Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Associate Dean

cc: Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senator Barbara Boxer

Note the calls for action here. The investigation would rip away the PR flacks' facade of denial and minimization, and transfer assessment beyond the (self-protecting) universities. Item B is significant in that brings the UC regents into play, taking the oversight and brining it one step closer. Knowing that they could be hauled before the Board of Regents might even convince administrators like Will Flowers that Jews are worthy of real protection.

The real kicker is item C, which takes the funding and recognition sanction to a new level. Persistent or egregious misconduct could result in withdrawal of funding across the state. This is a meaningful sanction, which ensures that peer pressure will be brought to bear against violence and intimidation rather than for it. Without that shift in incentive patterns, nothing else will make a real difference.

Dialogue with President Corrigan is not a useless effort. Unless real effort is also put into focused campaigns like this, however, SFSU and Berkeley will remain hotbeds of politically-correct hate.
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SFSU: Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think

By Joe Katzman at 00:25

The only thing worse than the appalling displays of organized racism and hate at SFSU has been the consistent refusal of GUPS and the SFSU Mulsim Students' Association to either admit that this is a problem or apologize.

Instead, we get dishonest press statements complaining about "persecution", half-hearted non-apologies, and refusal by Muslim leaders to attend a Bay Area event denouncing anti-Semitism.

We're told again and again that "Islam is a religion of peace," but that won't mean much until we stop seeing evidence of bigotry and quiet support for intimidation and terrorism by the community's so-called "leaders." It's past time for America's Muslims to demand better leadership, before the image being projected starts extending to them as well.

As for SFSU, 8 years of action by President Corrigan has shown that he understands the problem. The same can't be said for his university, including its offensive PR department and administrators like Will Flowers. They're part of the problem, not part of the solution... and a real solution to what Corrigan himself called "the most anti-Semitic campus in the country" is as far away now as it was in 1997 when he said it.

The fact that Corrigan's words alone make him stand out from other university administrators is just one more indication of how corrupted and poisonous our universities have become. To really solve the problem, SFSU needs to step up and do something universities haven't done in 30 years: enforce real discipline, with real teeth, against politically-correct brownshirts and the organizations that foster them.

It's fine for Rabbi Kahn and the San Francisco Jewish community to support Corrigan, but they must refuse to fall for "good cop, bad cop" routines and doggedly keep the pressure on at all levels.

This is about protecting our kids, folks - nothing less. Those of us who are rightly aghast at recent events must not allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep by Corrigan's words, instead of insisting on effective action. Otherwise we - and our kids - will just be setting ourselves up for more violence.


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June 3, 2002: Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think

By Joe Katzman at 00:25


You can tell that I'm a fan of Chris Matthews' "Hardball." His liberal slant bugs me at times, but he knows politics, groks what America is all about and is one of the few guys out there who will ask the tough questions. Then, at the end of the show, he tells us where he stands. Now that my colleagues are done with the SFSU Blog Burst, it's time to take a leaf from Matthews' playbook.

Tomorrow, I'll have some military analysis from around the web, and build on some of my earlier work around "4th Generation Warfare (4GW)" - what it means, and some looks at where we're headed.

Today's Blogs
  * SFSU: Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think
  * What Effective Activism Looks Like
  * If We Fail: Will Warren's "Song of An Animal Lover"
  * Bafflegab Decoder: Research Phraseology Guide


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June 2, 2002

June 2, 2002: "Do Not Adjust Your Screen..."

By Joe Katzman at 11:42

Thanks are due to all of the bloggers, linkers, and readers who made the SFSU Blog Burst such a success.

For the first time since its inception, Winds of Change missed its Shabbat blog yesterday. Our Sufi Wisdom feature et. al. will appear next week at its usual time. The only wisdom I have to offer right now is: "Nobody wins a fight with their own digestive system."

Winds of Change will be back tomorrow with a Chris Matthews-style "what I really think" take on SFSU. Tuesday will be a day of military features, many of which are focused around our "4GW" (4th Generation Warfare) theme.


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