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Archive for April, 2004

Tuesday, April 27th, 2004


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Tuesday, April 27th, 2004


In all likelihood, before the end of Summer, Israeli Prime minister Ariel Sharon may make good on his threat to kill Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

I base this assumption on a number of factors:

* Sharon is old and this government is most likely his last hurrah. He faces potential ICC prosecution for his role in the massacre of Palestinians by Christian militiamen during his command of Israeli forces in Lebanon and allegations of corruption at home. Arafat has been, after Nasser, the primal enemy of Israel for most of Sharon’s career. There are scores to be settled with Arafat that only Israelis of Sharon’s generation can recall. If Sharon must go out he’d rather close his career with Arafat’s head on a plate.

*Arafat, who may be somewhat addled, gives Israel no profit by being left alive and enables much harm. Arafat is demonstrably faithless in terms of keeping agreements and despite his numerous tactical retreats, Arafat promotes and encourages terrorism by other Palestinian groups when his personal and official PA forces are not actually commiting it. Arafat cannot deliver any kind of a peace not actually enforced by Israeli arms, even were he sincere and his iron control over the PA prevents any other Palestinian leader from exercising meaningful authority.

* If Israel is to have American support through the diplomatic storm that will ensue by killing Arafat it will only be while George W. Bush is president. President Kerry would not approve of such a step if for no other reason than the EU would go ballistic – the breaking of diplomatic relations with Israel by some European states could not be ruled out. However, Sharon cannot kill Arafat too close to the November elections for fear of tipping the scales to Kerry, so if this act is to be done it would have to occur before Labor Day – my personal guess is during the middle of the Democratic Convention.

* Sharon has followed through on similar threats to kill bloodthirsty sociopaths like Yassin and Rantisi. Why doubt him now ?

Juan Cole has pointed out that Israel’s targeted assassination policy has caused the U.S. needless difficulties in Iraq which is true and that such extrajudicial killings are ” illegal under international law ” which is frankly incorrect if the target is part of a hostile military organization – certainly the case with Rantisi and Yassin. Distinictions between ” political ” and “military” wings of terror groups are a specious political fiction – by that logic Osama bin Laden heads al Qaida’s ” political wing “. Israel may however still have active and binding agreements with the PA that may still be in force ( I haven’t had time to retrace all the minutia of the second intifada – I vaguely recall Arafat saying ” this is war ” but I’m not sure what formal steps each side has taken ) which need to be terminated prior to taking any action against Arafat.

The best long-term strategy for the War on Terror is much like Great Britain’s treatment of slave traders and pirates in the 18th and 19th century- characters like bin Laden, Arafat, Yassin, Mullah Omar and the like who target civilians, do not bear arms openly or follow the other rules of war should simply be attacked on sight and given swift military justice if captured – no Guantanamos and culturally appropriate meals but firing squads. Of course, if such tactics caused these various terror groups to sue for peace a la Gaddafi or follow the rules of war in subsequent attacks then they could be treated as lawful opponents with combatant rights under Geneva. We should not make it impossible for our enemies to rejoin the ranks of civilized mankind.

Israel killing Arafat could engender a tremendous crisis but it would also be a step toward the crushing of terrorism as a de facto legitimate vehicle of international relations ( Given the status of Arafat in the eyes of Europe it’s hard to argue that his tactics of suicide-bombings are not indulged and winked at by our allies as at least tolerable behavior). In any event I think it is an even we may soon see come to pass.

Friday, April 23rd, 2004


“Al-Qa’ida already has transcended its original structure to become an ideology of global jihad. Its goal is to inspire a global intifada.”

Brian Jenkins, RAND Corporation

At a joint Frontpagemag.com -RAND symposium hosted by Jaime Glazov.

Thursday, April 22nd, 2004


Noted historians Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes have risen to the defense of Allen Weinstein against the charges of Roger Sandilands

” Roger Sandilands is entitled to trumpet his unhappiness with the nomination of Allen Weinstein to be the next Archivist of the United States. But there is something odd in being lectured to in strident, self-righteous tones about an internal American governmental appointment by a British citizen relying on the undocumented claims of a Russian, an unrepentant former KGB general, to smear a respected American scholar.

In the twenty-five years since Allen Weinstein published Perjury, his masterful analysis of the Hiss-Chambers case, no one has been able to challenge his conclusion that Whittaker Chambers told the truth and that Alger Hiss was a Soviet spy. The only other full-length scholarly study of the case, Sam Tanenhaus’s Whittaker Chambers, reached a similar conclusion.

Professor Sandilands repeats the canard that Chambers was a “fantasist,” a lie first leveled by Hiss’s lawyer, the late John Lowenthal, suggesting that Chambers made up out of whole cloth his story of involvement in Soviet espionage. This requires that Sandilands ignore the voluminous evidence offered by former spies with whom Chambers worked, the handwritten and typed documents that Chambers saved and produced to verify his claims about Hiss and Harry Dexter White, and the enormous raft of material and evidence produced at Hiss’s trials and in the decades since confirming Chambers’s story and demonstrating that Hiss was a perjurer.

Professor Sandilands and a handful of other espionage deniers have frantically tried to discredit the Venona decryptions that made crystal clear the work done for the KGB by such American spies. He claims that “few scholars now accept the official NSA [National Security Agency] line that ALES was “probably Alger Hiss” in one of the telegrams. He is wrong. And his reliance on Major General Julius Kobyakov is strange. General Kobyakov has stated his nostalgia for the days of Soviet power and his disapproval of the partial opening of KGB archives in the early 1990s (ended by 1995). Why are Kobyakov’s undocumented statements acceptable while the documents that Weinstein’s collaborator, also an ex-KGB officer, Alexander Vassiliev, located in the KGB’s archives during its partial opening – documents quoted in The Haunted Wood – dismissed by Sandilands? Would Professor Sandilands similarly accept the unsupported word of a unrepentant Nazi intelligence chief about the files of his agency? If Ales is not Hiss, why doesn’t Kobyakov tell us who Ales, this high-ranking State Department employee who spied for the Soviet Union, really was? Kobyakov once directed Soviet espionage against the United States. He has chosen not only to stonewall about what he knows but to attack those who attempt to bring to light the facts of Soviet espionage in the United States.

In the meantime, we are pleased that Dr. Weinstein, a distinguished scholar and writer, has been honored by this nomination to be Archivist of the United States”.

Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes

Thursday, April 22nd, 2004


The BBC reports on the rebirth of an ancient, semi-mystical, Persian martial art among Iranian men called varzesh-e pahlavani. While I’m not an expert on either martial arts or Shiite Islam one is struck by the similarity to the meditative aspect of Tai’Chi, Yoga and Eastern martial arts. I would wager here that Sufism has been an influence but perhaps I am wrong. perhaps Juan Cole could shed some light on this story.

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