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July 31, 2003

Say What?

I'm not sure which is more unusual: the headline or the story:

'Living Dead' Seek Indian Government Help

Two dozen people who call themselves "the Living Dead" held a Hindu last rites ceremony outside a state assembly this week to protest their plight: being wrongly declared dead and losing their property to conniving relatives and officials.

They said tens of thousands more share their problem in India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh. Figures for the rest of the country weren't known.

"My son produced a fake death certificate to revenue officials and grabbed my 12 acres (five hectares) of property. The government still refuses to recognize me as alive," said Rashida Bibi, 62. She was declared dead in 1993.

Posted by David Mader at 01:00 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Mosquito, Meet Shotgun

The Associated Press reports the passage of an Israeli bill that would prevent Palestinians who marry Israelis from obtaining residency or citizenship rights. The law is intended to curb the threat of Palestinian terrorist using sympathetic Israeli Arabs to obtain permits which would allow unrestricted movement within the State of Israel.

Israeli Arab groups, however, call the law racist, and many human rights organizations agree. And while it would be nigh-on-irresponsible to judge an Israeli policy based on a media report, one has to wonder whether the measure is proportionate to the risk. I'd be interested to learn whether, as the spokesman from B'tselem said, this is "an extreme solution to a marginal phenomenon."

MORE: The Ha'aretz report.

Posted by David Mader at 12:58 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Cowardly And Dumb

I know, I know, you're all tired of me harping on about the decision to cancel the Policy Analysis Market. And few folks would be surprised to hear similar condemnations coming from Tech Central Station.

But Slate?

If you go to the Policy Analysis Market, or PAM, Web site, you'll find nothing but a blank page. You don't even get one of those "This page cannot be found" screens. Thanks to the publicity firestorm started by Sens. Byron Dorgan and Ron Wyden on Monday, the Defense Department's plan to run an experimental futures market to forecast conditions in the Middle East is dead. And we're all worse off as a result.

The surprisingly wide-spread after-the-fact support for the PAM makes Congress' knee-jerk decision to cancel it all the more lamentable. What, after all, was the rush?

[Via the Volokh Conspiracy]

Posted by David Mader at 12:30 PM | (0) | Back to Main


As the situation continues to deteriorate, the Washington Post repeats its call for an American intervention, criticizing the administration for falsely raising hopes and for establishing a 'ludicrous' set of criteria.

But as Mark Steyn writes in the Spectator, calls for intervention rest on a faulty premise: that West Africa's troubles can be fixed in the short term.

I’m an imperialist, and right now no one could use a little imperialism more than Africa. The British insertion into Sierra Leone was a good thing; Ivory Coast is on balance better off with the French on the ground. Why shouldn’t the Americans also have a little piece of the West African mosquito swamp? If a couple of thousand Marines can ‘stabilise’ Liberia, for a great power to deny them seems, as William F. Buckley put it, ‘parochial’. But the idea that the US would be there for ‘no more than several months’ and hand over to a ‘legitimate and stable government’ is ludicrous. If the Yanks are there for only a few months, the warlords will keep their ears close to the ground and bide their time. The intervention would be an intermission, after which the show would resume, as it has done after previous desultory interventions in the region.

Neither party seems prepared to propose a long-term commitment to West Africa, and with a hostile press mentally stuck in Saigon, a sympathetic public atmosphere is unlikely to arise. Ultimately, Liberians - and their neighbors - will pay the price.

Posted by David Mader at 10:01 AM | (0) | Back to Main

July 30, 2003

'How Dumb Is This?'

Instapundit has a link-filled condemnation of Congress' short-sighted decision to scrap the Policy Analysis Market.

I think the bottom line was that the market was such an incredibly good idea that Congress simply didn't know what to do with it.

But the Congressional critics' incredible and instantaneous display of economic illiteracy, combined with a complete unwillingness to even consider the merits of the idea, should be cause for a significant degree of unease.

Posted by David Mader at 09:08 AM | (0) | Back to Main

July 29, 2003

Everything is Economics - III

Over at the Conspiracy, Tyler Cowen joins Glenn Reynolds and Josh Chafetz (and myself) in endorsing the (now defunct) idea of a 'terrorism futures' market. In fact, Cowen's arguments on the merits of the idea are quite similar to my own, though stated more succinctly. He also provides a link to a mind-boggling example of the genius of the market, demonstrated in the minutes following the Challenger disaster:

While the event was widely observed, it took several months for an esteemed panel to determine which of the mechanical components failed during the launch. By contrast, in the period immediately following the crash,
securities trading in the four main shuttle contractors seemingly singled out the firm that manufactured the faulty component.

The market is smarter than you or me, and it's certainly smarter than the Government of the United States.

Which is why it's so unfortunate that Congressmen on both sides of the aisle seemed to be jumping over themselves to scrap the DARPA project. Remember: these people decide your taxes. They create business regulations. And yet they have no time for basic market principles.

Posted by David Mader at 04:59 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Crackpot Economics

Guest Volokh Conspirator Daniel Drezner tears into the economic reasoning of Howard Dean, Democratic darling.

As for the argument that unions created the American middle class, this paper suggests that union membership did not bestow appreciable benefits on one group of workers from the relevant time period. To be fair, Nathan Rosenberg and L.E. Birdzell, in their magisterial How The West Grew Rich (p. 237), do argue that labor unions improved wages in manufacturing. However, their causal logic is slightly different than Howard Dean's:

The confrontational character of employer-employee relations has encouraged the use of labor-saving, capital-intensive methods of production throughout the West. The effects of using these methods include a reduction in the number of employees in manufacturing industry, the substitution of machine effort for human effort in many of the more strenuous jobs, and an increase of the marginal productivity, and hence the compensation, of the remaining workers.

Read the rest. In this morning's Ottawa Citizen, the commentary page was given over to two columns debating ways to 'level the global economic playing field' - one proposing the reduction of developed-world agricultural subsidies, the other proposing the increase of similar subsidies in the developing world. I was surprised to find myself quietly considering the merits of the second suggestion as well as the first. But Drezner's to-the-point critique has given me deserved pause.

Posted by David Mader at 03:04 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Everything is Economics - II

Instapundit agrees with my positive assessment of DARPA's Policy Analysis Market.

A good number of people, however, don't. The objections seem to fall broadly into two categories, political and practical.

On the political side, the objection seems to be that a program which allows people to 'bet' on the eventuality of terrorist attacks is 'grotesque'. This is largely a problem of perception, and it would be a shame if such a promising project was sunk by misunderstanding.

A futures market should not be thought of as a form of betting, but of valuation. Already, in all sorts of ways, individuals anticipate the risk of various eventualities and terrorist attacks and adjust their behavior accordingly. Sometimes such behavior-modification is reflected in a 'human' sense, as when travellers cancel vacations to Israel. At other times such modification is reflected in monetary terms. Investors weighing opportunities in South Korea, for instance, must factor in the risk of an attack by Pyongyang or an all-out war. The higher the risk, the less investors will be willing to invest. The difference between the price of the opportunity given the risk, and the theoretical price of the same opportunity in the absence of such a risk, is the risk-premium. It is, in other words, a monetary measure of the likelihood of the eventuality - the odds of a Korean war.

The proposed futures market would simply serve the function of isolating and valuing the risk-premiums of a listed set of eventualities. The key factor is not the potential 'profit' to be made, but rather the valuations which would result from the market's aggregation of information. Neither these valuations, nor the potential for profit, would be unique, of course: as I've said, premiums exist in every financial market and most human activity; moreover, all markets react to terrorist attacks, so in a sense the same profits stand to be made by shorting the S&P or the Tel Aviv exchange. The point is that these trends already exist and occur. The PAM (lame acronym, by the way) would simply assist in isolating, clarifying and measuring these trends.

The practical objections have considerably more substance, and seem to be acknowledged within DARPA:

In a statement, Darpa said the trading idea was "currently a small research program that faces a number of major technical challenges and uncertainties."

"Chief among these," the agency said, "are: Can the market survive and will people continue to participate when U.S. authorities use it to prevent terrorist attacks? Can futures markets be manipulated by adversaries?"

These concerns echo some of those raised by reader Andre Setton. It seems to me the anonymity of traders is unnecessary, especially as traders on every major financial exchange - public and private - are registered. There seems to me little reason why any serious trader would be averse to registering with DARPA for the purposes of participation. There's always a possibility, of course, that an individual trader would act as an agent, but so long as the agent is known, the supposed security threat is diminished.

With regard to terrorists profiting from their actions, I think there are a number of things to keep in mind. First, most terrorists need no economic incentive to carry out their attacks. Second, the list of tradable products is defined by the DoD, so that, for instance, a cell in Kansas City can't list 'Bombing of Postal Sation, Wichita', buy shares at 5¢ and then make a killing (pardon the pun). Third, the theoretical ability of certain traders to affect the outcome of the contracts doesn't seem to cause a great detriment to, for instance, the agricultural futures markets - though there may be limits on, say, swine farmers buying pig's ears of which I'm not aware.

I also continue to think that asymmetric information represents the greatest challenge to the fluid and robust operation of this market. This, along with the knowledge that the DoD will actively attempt to address perceived risks - and therefore affect futures prices - has a great potential to deter traders or distort their valuation processes.

Obviously, then, the proposal is not without its flaws. But those flaws are cause for increased, not decreased, examination. As both Prof. Reynolds and Mr. Chafetz have noted, the project represents an important and imaginative attempt to measure the massive amounts of information pertaining to the war on terror in a real-time and accessible fashion. As I've argued, the information already exists. Let's harness it.

UPDATE: The Policy Analysis Market project has been cancelled. It's too bad these congressmen allow an obsession for image to trump any understanding of economic principles. They should be embarrassed at their knee-jerk response. But one presumes they won't.

It really is a shame that the Congress of the United States is so quick to establish itself as an opponent of dynamic information assessment. We can only hope the project is picked up by some more imaginative, private sector folks.

Posted by David Mader at 12:15 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Iraq and the Spread of the Anglosphere

With the removal of Saddam Hussein, young Iraqis are clambering to learn a valuable skill. They're learning English.

Few soldiers have a command of Arabic and misunderstandings have been blamed for more than one fatal checkpoint shooting.

But Sajida has other aims in learning a language she feels will open up a world previously closed to her by Saddam.

''If I have any information about Fedayeen or Saddam's followers, I must tell them. We must make friends with the Americans. I see them as angels. I call them God's army,'' said Sajida, a Shi'ite Muslim who says her two brothers were killed by Saddam...

Iraqi English teacher Dhia' Saadallah prefers a British accent, but says that's not the popular choice. ''I teach them American English. What can I do? They want it,'' he said.

At Mamoun, around three dozen students hope the barely audible decades-old language tapes they are using will help win them jobs at U.S. companies they expect to pour into Iraq.

''Saddam Hussein made us backward,'' one student said. ''We didn't learn the computer. We didn't learn English language very good.''

The ultimate success of the Iraqi campaign won't be the simple introduction of representative government, but the incorporation of the new state into an alliance of liberally-minded nations dedicated to the propogation of democracy, the free exchange of ideas and goods and the defeat of terror and tyranny. Such an alliance already exists, in a restricted form, in the so-called Coalition of the Willing; it is strongest among the English-speaking nations, and particularly the United States, Australia and Great Britain. This is due in large part to the democratic tradition of the English-speaking world, thanks to the common British heritage; but it also owes much to the English language itself, both a product and a cause of that democratic heritage. English is among the most democratic of languages, subject to an organically-evolved hodgepodge of rules of usage, open to dialectical variance and foreign vocabulary, and restricted by no state-sanctioned Office of Academy. English may in fact be unique in its ability to convey democratic ideas. That should not mean the sacrifice of other, native tongues; but it may mean that the long-term success of democracy in foreign lands depends on the successful emergence of an English-speaking, though bilingual, populace.

Posted by David Mader at 09:30 AM | (0) | Back to Main

The Horror

Labour MP Kate Hoey's account of resistance in Zimbabwe reminds us of a tyranny that desperately needs to be addressed.

It is the moment I dreaded. "They are after us," shouts David, sitting behind me in the car. I look back and hard on our tail, headlights flashing, is a truckload of Robert Mugabe's heavies. Having been warned by the Foreign Office of the dangers awaiting any British MP caught sneaking around Zimbabwe, we have been spotted filming while driving past the Grain Marketing Boards depot in Mvurwi.

In other police states, it is a crime to film military bases. The state secret here is that the grain silos are empty...

In this country, once the bread-basket of Africa, I drive for miles past uncultivated fields. Where wheat and maize once grew, irrigated from the well-filled dams, only weeds flourish. Mugabe's "land reform" has seen his cronies installed in agricultural properties, and even small-scale plots are allocated to members of the ruling party. Most have jobs. The unemployed farm workers with agricultural skills who have always worked those fields are prevented, by force, from growing a few crops for their families.

The food distribution network is controlled by Zanu-PF. Party officials have hoodwinked aid agencies and get rich on scams while entire districts that oppose Mugabe are denied food.

Everywhere, I hear terrible accounts of state terrorism against individuals suspected of being Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters. One man tells me how he was blindfolded for three days with electrodes attached to his body, badly beaten, then left for dead by the roadside. His small farm, leased from a commercial farmer, had been ransacked and taken from him when the owner had his land stolen by "war veterans"...

It is impossible to describe the fear. The Public Order and Security Act is used to harass those who protest against the state-sponsored repression. You break the law when you meet more than one other person to discuss the crisis. You can be arrested for sitting down with a group of pastors to hear of their plans to involve the church in the struggle for freedom.

Posted by David Mader at 08:46 AM | (0) | Back to Main

July 28, 2003

Everything is Economics

Kudos to Oxblog for pointing out a DARPA project so shockingly wonderful it's hard to fathom.

A new Department of Defense program allows traders to bet on the likelihood of future terrorist attacks.

The department's "Defense Advanced Research Project Agency" designed what it calls the "The Policy Analysis Market."

The program works much like the financial markets where traders buy and sell "futures" based on the possibility of a specific event in the Middle East, 11 News reported.

Some of the examples listed on the agency's Web site include the assassination of Palestinian leader Yassar Arafat and a missile attack by North Korea. Bidders would profit if the events for which they hold futures occur.

Defense officials said the market-based system is highly accurate when assessing such things as political and civil stability, economic health and military disposition of Middle East countries.

Yes, yes and yes. Similar projects have been undertaken to predict popular elections and the like, to reasonable success. As Mr. Chafetz rightly notes, markets serve an extraordinarily important function in aggregating information and expectation in a manner otherwise impossible.

Critics of the project - the story cites two Democratic Senators - demonstrate a fundamental lack of economic understanding and open themselves to well-deserved public ridicule. In fact, the only major criticism of the project seems to be that it provides an incentive for terrorists attacks that might not otherwise occur. The first rejoinder to this notion is that most terrorists don't need an economic incentive to carry out there attacks. The second is that small-time crooks looking to make a buck stand to be foiled quite easily, seeing as the market is run by the Department of bleeding Defense. The third is that since the DoD is ultimately responsible for clearing the market, it in fact has a large incentive to address any security threat listed.

In fact the only major problem, to my mind, is that of information availability. A proper valuation of many of the listed eventualities would likely require knowledge of a good deal of sensitive information. A keen interest and access to a computer would allow for a balll-park pricing, but a well-disciplined market would require, I think, more than that. Will such information be made available? Will those traders privy to such information stand to make substantially more than those who do not? And will those who do not have such access simply stay away from the market?

Nonetheless, this seems to me a wonderfully imaginative attempt to illustrate - and harness - those natural economic processes that quietly dominate so much of daily life.

Posted by David Mader at 08:45 PM | (1) | Back to Main

The End of Objectivity

In today's Wall Street Journal Robert L. Bartley cites the Kelly Affair and the Blair Scandal as evidence that the age of 'objectivity' in journalism may be over.

The notion of press 'objectivity' is, I think, one of the most powerful detriments to the quality of modern public discourse. The idea that journalists somehow operate free of normal human passions and other faults is not only false but contributes to a terrible hubris that can ultimately only degrade the quality of their work.

The notion of journalistic 'objectivity' is quite recent. It is due, in part, to the post-Watergate idea of crusading journalism and the sense among journalists that they are the keeper of some greater truth which the 'other' - whether governments or corporations or individuals - is actively trying to obscure. It is also likely due in part to the proliferation of journalism schools which separate and reinforce the sense of entitlement created by this 'fifth-estate' attitude.

Historically, of couse, journalism held few such pretenses. The news sheets of seventeenth-century London, especially during the censorship-free years of the interregnum, were wonderfully direct in their attitudes, opinions and agendas. This partisanship survives, in some degree, in the modern-day British print-press (collectively known as Fleet Street). And from the interregnum to the modern day, 'straight' news sources have competed with the (far more popular) tabloid presses, which range from the overtly ridiculous (Crop Circles Appearing on Peoples' Heads) to the passionately partisan (Gotcha!).

As Bartley notes, an opinionated press is a healthy press - but only if the opinion is recognized and declared. Consumers of news seeking to be well-informed certainly have a responsibility to seek out a multitude of sources in order to encounter a diversity of interpretations and opinions. But such consumers can only properly be served by a press that is honest and upfront about its passions and opinions. This should not restrict each journalist's quest for some objective interpretation of events; nor should it allow the press to descend into partisan bickering - a discerning clientele will sill demand quality.

But it should bring an end to the arrogance of the 'fifth estate'. And none too soon.

Posted by David Mader at 09:54 AM | (3) | Back to Main

July 25, 2003

Don't Know Much About History

Roger Ebert, on the new Tomb Raider movie:

In the somewhat murky chronology she describes early in the film, the original box arrived from outer space, and was discovered by an Egyptian pharaoh in 2300 B.C. "in a place he called the Cradle of Life," she explains to her colleagues, mentioning Pandora's Box. "You mean the Greek myth?" she is asked. "That's the Sunday school version," she says. Only Lara Croft would go to a Sunday school that teaches Greek myth.

Some two centuries later, the box was obtained by Alexander the Great, who hid it in a temple, which was buried beneath the sea by an earthquake, its location revealed as the film opens by another earthquake.

I beg your pardon? "Discovered by an Egyptian pharaoh in 2300 B.C", and found by Alexander the Great two centuries later? Would that be the little-known Alexander the Great who predated the patriarchs, then?

Surely, Mr. Ebert means two millenia. Or is this an error in the film?

Posted by David Mader at 12:20 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Sowing Doubt

In a further effort to convince Iraqis that Uday and Qusay Hussein are dead, the US military has partially reconstructed the faces of the two brothers' corpses, and has invited journalists to film and take pictures of the results.

Both the AP and Reuters have published photos of the two bodies. But while the AP seems satisfied that the two are, indeed, the dead tyrants, Reuters doesn't seem convinced.

From the AP: "The body of Saddam Hussein's son Odai is shown to the media in Baghdad, Friday, July 25, 2003..."

And from Reuters: "A body said to be the corpse of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's son, Uday, who U.S. forces announced was killed in a fierce gun battle on July 22 in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, lies in the U.S. Air Force morgue at the Baghdad airport July 25, 2003.

Posted by David Mader at 11:45 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Power for the People

The Telegraph notes a political trend I highlighted yesterday (see the comments): support or opposition to popular-democracy initiatives increasingly seem to reflect one's conceptions of the appropriate size and scope of government:

"Referenda" and "recall" were inserted into the California constitution - and those of other states - in the early years of the last century at the urging of progressives and radicals. They saw them as the means of using "people power" to restrain the overweening influence of the trusts and rapacious utility companies.

In this era, there is little popular demand for economic radicalism. Radicalism, rather, nowadays comes from above - often through the agency of the judiciary - and takes a predominantly cultural form. It is no coincidence that gay marriage advocates have concentrated their efforts in states such as Vermont and Massachusetts, where the process of passing constitutional amendments has far less popular input than in California (which has its own claims to be the world's gay capital). The judiciary, once the anchor of society, has now become the sail. The populace, once the sail, has become its anchor.

Posted by David Mader at 10:58 AM | (0) | Back to Main

The Governator

The Wall Street Journal's John Fund profiles Arnold Shwarznegger, politician.

Posted by David Mader at 10:52 AM | (0) | Back to Main

The Willing

Kim H., a reader of Tim Blair's fine blog, recently sent an e-mail to Australian Prime Minister John Howard expressing support for his government's role in the Second Gulf War. The reply she received is quite something:

Thank you for your recent correspondence concerning Iraq. I very much appreciate your words of support.

There has always been a special bond between the people of Australia and the people of the United States. We share a common love of freedom and respect for democracy.

The decisive victory of the American-led coalition reflects great credit on the strength and determination of President Bush's leadership. Through its action the coalition has sent a clear signal to other rogue states and terrorists groups alike - the world is prepared to take a stand.

The Australian Government does not for one moment regret the decision to join the coalition of the willing. Australian military forces have participated with just cause, in an action properly based in international law, which resulted in the liberation of an oppressed people.

We are enormously proud of the magnificent job done by our defence personnel but we also pay tribute to the contributions of the American and British forces. They have behaved and conducted themselves with great honor and distinction and set new standards of integrity and ethical behavior in military conflict.

All the coalition partners are now focussing their efforts on rehabilitating Iraq's dilapidated infrastructure and renewing its social, economic and political framework. I am deeply moved to think that for the first time in my lifetime the people of Iraq have a real and genuine opportunity to have a free, open and democratic society. I am confident that with our support and assistance they will achieve this objective.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write me and for your support.

Yours sincerely,
John Howard

[Via a comment at England's Sword]

Posted by David Mader at 10:05 AM | (3) | Back to Main

The Way of Things

James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA and current advisor to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, provides the best concise statement of principles for the war on terrror, what it is, how we must fight it and why we must win: At War for Freedom:

America and the western world are at war with 'fascist' Middle East governments and totalitarian Islamists. The freedoms we stand for are loathed and our vulnerable systems under attack. Liberty and security will be in conflict as we line up behind the new march of democracy.

On why they hate us:

I was in a taxi a year ago last February, the day after former President Bill Clinton gave a speech in Washington in which he said that September 11 was a payback in part for American slavery and the treatment of the American Indian. I saw right away that the newspaper on the front seat was open at that article and that the driver was one of my favourite substitutes for polls - a black citizen of the District, wearing his Redskins cap, a guy of about my age, who had probably been driving a cab for a long time.

So I asked him what he thought about Clinton's speech. He said: 'Those people don't hate us for what we've done wrong; they hate us for what we do right.' I would submit that is the essence of the matter.

On democracy and the Arab world:

These are places where, year after year, the smart, self-appointed experts have said, 'X will never be a democracy'. They said that the Germans would never be able to run a democracy, the Japanese would not, Catholic countries would not - because in the 1970s, Iberia and Latin America were non-democratic. They said it about people from a Chinese cultural background, yet the Taiwanese seem to have figured it out; maybe China will too. They said it about the Russians; after all, they missed the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment - how could they run a democracy? But they seem to be getting started...

If we want to be successful in this long war, we will have to take on this issue of democracy in the Arab world. We will have to take on the - and I would use the word 'racist' - view that Arabs cannot operate democracies. We will need to make some people uncomfortable.

The entire article, available at the link above, is reposted below. I strongly recommend it. Last September, Steven Den Beste penned an excellent essay on the necessity for Iraqi regime change in the context of the Islamist threat. Woolsey's speech continues, and expands, the explanation.

[Via OxBlog]

At War for Freedom

The former Director of the CIA says that America should make no apology for its robust response in the "war on terrorism". And if that makes other states nervous, so much the better.

James Woolsey
The Guardian
Sunday July 20, 2003

America and the western world are at war with 'fascist' Middle East governments and totalitarian Islamists. The freedoms we stand for are loathed and our vulnerable systems under attack. Liberty and security will be in conflict as we line up behind the new march of democracy.
This is about the war we are in, whom it is with, how we have to fight it inside our own countries and how we have to fight it abroad. The war is, essentially, similar to the Cold War. This is the origin of the phrase World War IV, which Professor Eliot Cohen came up with in America shortly after September 11 2001, to characterise the parallels between this war and what he called World War III - the Cold War.

Those parallels are: that it will last a very long time - decades; that it will sporadically involve the use of military force, as did the Cold War in Korea for example; but that an important component would be ideological. I would add that, just as we eventually won the Cold War - and when I say 'we' here, I always mean Britain, the United States, the democracies, our allies - it was in no small measure because, while containing the Soviet Union and its allies militarily and with nuclear deterrence, we undermined their ideology.

We undermined it over a long period by convincing the Lech Walesas, the Vaclav Havels, the Andrei Sakharovs, the Solidarities, that this was not a clash of civilisations, not even a clash of countries, but a war of freedom against tyranny, and that we were on their side.

To exactly the same degree, we will surely be successful in this long war if we convince the hundreds of millions of reasonable and decent Muslims around the world who do not want to be terrorists, who do not want to live in dictatorships, that we are on their side and they on ours.

Fascists and Islamists

There are really three movements in the Middle East that are essentially at war with the west, with modernity, with western Europe and the United States and our allies. They are, first of all, the fascists, a term that I use advisedly because the Arab nationalist movements of Syria - until recently Iraq and Syria - and Libya and other such groups in the Middle East are effectively modelled on the fascist parties of the 1920s and 1930s. They are structured like them, and are similarly anti-semitic. They are fascists and there is no reason to mince words.

The other two movements are both Islamist, and I use that term to denote precisely totalitarian movements masquerading as portions of a religion. The mullahs in Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and those with him, and Al Qaeda and its supporters - one on the Shi'a side of the Islamic divide and the other on the Sunni side - are effectively totalitarian movements disguised as religions, in much the same way that Tomás Torquemada and the Dominicans around him who operated the Spanish Inquisition were a totalitarian movement in the guise of a portion of Christianity.

The Islamists on the Shi'a side of the divide, in Tehran, are massively unpopular in their own country. Even according to their official public opinion polls, a substantial majority of Iranians would like to have dealings with the US and, whenever given an opportunity to vote, have supported reformist candidates and President Mohammad Khatami.

From around 1996 to 1998 a number of us were optimistic about the possibility of internal reform in Iran as part of governmental procedures. However, beginning in 1998-1999, the murder of dissidents, and the imprisonment of newspaper editors and the rest, pushed the situation to one in which - though occasionally American spokesmen and those elsewhere call it a democracy - it is a democracy in exactly the same sense that the old Soviet Union was. Iran has a constitution, political parties, and elections; they just do not mean anything.

The struggle that is now going on is one in which the mullahs have lost the support of the students - and half of the country is aged nineteen and younger; the women; the reformers; the brave newspaper editors being tortured in prison; and, increasingly and importantly, their own clergy.

Ayatollah after ayatollah is turning against the mullahs who control the instruments of power; not only brave Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who has been opposed to them for years, but also conservatives, such as Ayatollah Jalaluddin Taheri, the prayer leader in Isfahan, who denounced them last year as un-Islamic for sponsoring terror, torture and the rest. And of course, he is absolutely right.


The third movement, the Islamists from the Sunni side of the divide - Al Qaeda and those who support them, fund them and provide their ideological fervour, which involves many who are encouraged by the Wahhabi religious conservatives in Saudi Arabia - is likely to be the longest lasting. In his new book, The Shield of Achilles, Philip Bobbit calls Al Qaeda a virtual state, and there is a good argument to that effect. It is a virtual state chiefly because of its access to resources. As long as it receives economic assistance from prosperous Saudis, from the wealth of the Gulf, and its intellectual sustenance from the Wahhabi sect, it will be with us for a long time.

If you put these three movements together, particularly the latter, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that we will be in this war for many years, quite probably for decades. Eliot Cohen's original characterisation of this as World War IV - in the sense that it has certain parallels to the four and a half decade-long Cold War - is fair and accurate.

Hated for Freedoms

If that is whom we are at war with, why? There are two reasons, an underlying one and a temporal one. The underlying one was best stated to me a little over a year ago by a taxi driver in the District of Columbia. I absolutely hate reading articles about public opinion polls, which I find intensely boring and a waste of time. Instead, since I spend a lot of time in taxis, I talk to the drivers, which in America at least I find a much better finger on the pulse of the country than opinion polls.

I was in a taxi a year ago last February, the day after former President Bill Clinton gave a speech in Washington in which he said that September 11 was a payback in part for American slavery and the treatment of the American Indian. I saw right away that the newspaper on the front seat was open at that article and that the driver was one of my favourite substitutes for polls - a black citizen of the District, wearing his Redskins cap, a guy of about my age, who had probably been driving a cab for a long time.

So I asked him what he thought about Clinton's speech. He said: 'Those people don't hate us for what we've done wrong; they hate us for what we do right.' I would submit that is the essence of the matter.

We and you are cordially loathed for freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, open economies, equal - or almost equal - treatment of women, and so on. It is not what we have done wrong that is creating the problem; it is what we do right.

If that is true, then this is not a war that will end with an Al Qaeda Gorbachev; it will not end with an arms control agreement. It is a war to the death, like the war with the Nazis, and we should understand that it will have to be fought that way.

Kick Me

The other side of this is why, temporally? Why did they choose to do this now? I cannot speak for Britain or other countries but in the case of America, for something like a quarter of a century, for all practical purposes we hung a 'kick me' sign on our backs in the Middle East.

First, we convinced many people there that we did not give a damn about the people in the region and that we cared principally about its oil; that it was a filling station for our large sport utility vehicles. Secondly, we convinced them that we were a wealthy, feckless country that would not fight.

Starting in 1979, when our hostages were seized in Tehran, we tied yellow ribbons around trees. In 1982-1983, our embassy and marine barracks were blown up in Beirut and we left. Throughout the rest of the eighties, there were various terrorist attacks against us, mainly sponsored by Iran, and we prosecuted a few terrorists here and there - we sent the lawyers, basically - and we would occasionally lob in a bomb or a cruise missile from afar.

In 1991 in the course of the Gulf war, we encouraged the Kurds and the Shi'a to rebel against President Saddam Hussein, then we signed a ceasefire agreement which left the Republican Guard and their armed helicopters intact, and the bridges intact. We stood back and watched the Republican Guard massacre the Kurds and Shi'a whom we had encouraged, thereby convincing all and sundry that once the Americans and their allies had secured the oil of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, they did not give a damn about the people of the Middle East.

In 1993, Saddam tried to assassinate former President George Bush in Kuwait. The best response that Clinton could come up with was to launch two dozen cruise missiles into an empty Iraqi intelligence headquarters in the middle of the night, thereby presumably responding effectively to Iraqi cleaning women and nightwatchmen, but not particularly effectively to Saddam.

In 1993, our helicopters were shot down in Mogadishu, our rangers were killed and again, as a decade earlier in Beirut, we left. Throughout the rest of the nineties, with the USS Cole and East Africa embassy bombings and the like, again we prosecuted a few terrorists and occasionally launched a cruise missile or a bomb at a tank or a surface-to-air missile site.

No doubt if you were in al-Qaeda, in Iraqi intelligence, or one of Khamenei's advisers assessing things at the end of the twentieth century, you would have had to say that the Americans - from this wealthy, feckless, spoiled country - would not fight. You would have had some evidence for that. Now, just as that was the assessment of us by the Japanese at the beginning of the 1940s, and just as they were somewhat surprised after Pearl Harbour, after September 11 both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and now the Ba'athists in Iraq, are somewhat surprised. However, there is still a long way to go.

Liberty and Security

If that is who is at war with us and why, what do we need to do about it, both inside our own countries and in the Middle East? Inside the US, during the Cold War and the decade of the 1990s after it, we became very used to the proposition that liberty and security do not conflict, that we do not need to worry about that. Liberty we had plenty of, or as much as almost any reasonable, modern society could, and security was something that the navy, the Central Intelligence Agency and so on dealt with overseas. September 11 rather changed that.

The US at least has to understand that for a number of years we will have to face conflicts between liberty and security that did not occur before. We really did have people who were legally in the United States training in aircraft simulators to work out how to kill thousands of Americans. There really were terrorist cells in places like Lackawanna, Pennsylvania.

So we are going to do things that are effective against terrorism, and which may involve steps like special scrutiny of Wahhabi-backed charities, for example, that would not have happened prior to September 11. We also have to realise who we are. We are not a race or a culture or a language. We are creatures of fourth US President James Madison's Constitution and his Bill of Rights. We can never forget that.

These two conflicting concerns - security and liberty - are going to be with us for a long time. They will conflict in ways they did not appear to before September 11. We have to choose wisely and remember both. We cannot forget the need to be effective, not just politically correct, in the way we deal with the real threats to us. We also cannot forget the Bill of Rights.

Vulnerable Networks

In addition - and this is what I spend most of my day job working on - we have to start looking at all the networks that serve our modern society so effectively: electricity grids, oil and gas pipelines, the Internet, food production and delivery, and so on. We have to realise that in the post-September 11 world, these networks have been put together - in Britain, Japan, Australia, the United States - by very bright and able people, business people, sometimes government regulators, engineers. They are constructed to be responsive to the public, to be open, easily accessed, easily maintained, fully utilised to spread overheads, and the like. All these characteristics are quite reasonable in the context of peace.

In the context of war on one's own soil, however, things look very different. Take 'just in time' delivery: many American factories have components for four or five days' work, which is fine in most circumstances. It means you do not have to maintain big inventories. You can change model characteristics quickly, whether manufacturing computers, cars or whatever. It saves costs.

It is an excellent idea, until someone puts a dirty bomb - say caesium or strontium packed around high explosives - inside a container shipped in from somewhere in South Asia, for instance. With a simple detonator it goes off in an American city and makes a large portion of that city effectively uninhabitable for a long time, because of the increased risk of cancer. This would not be a nuclear explosion but one that spreads radioactive material.

Then the fifty thousand containers a day that cross American borders will start having to be inspected. We now inspect two per cent. If we inspect them all, it will not be long before those four or five days' worth of components in factories are no longer there and they will have to begin shutting down.

The whole set of networks that we have constructed has the functional equivalent of flimsy cockpit doors. The flimsy doors made it possible for aeroplanes to be taken over and turned into giant cruise missiles to be flown into buildings killing thousands of Americans, rather than 'merely' blown up or crashed causing the death of the people on board.

Because of the doors, thousands more could be killed. There was a network vulnerability that could be exploited to turn a portion of it into a weapon. With respect to our electricity grids, oil and gas pipelines, food production and delivery, there are many such weak points that we need to work together to fix.

Democracy on the March

My most controversial point may be about what needs to be done to fight this war in the Middle East. We will have great difficulty bringing peace to the region without changing the nature of governments there - without bringing democracy.

If one starts out from the proposition that this is a task for America, Britain or others to accomplish principally with military forces, we will fail. We have to take a much longer view, and, for example, pay attention to the brave newspaper editors - such as one in Saudi Arabia who recently took on the religious police and got himself fired by the Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdul Aziz. There are similar brave reformers in Egypt and other countries who are effectively the green shoots springing up through the pavement, indicative of a growing approach, a growing openness in much of the Muslim world to democracy and liberty.

Some people seem to think that this is a hopeless task. Two points: first, the substantial majority of the world's Muslims live in democracies - Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Turkey, Mali, the Balkans. They may not be perfect democracies but they are democracies nonetheless. I am the Chairman of Freedom House, the oldest human rights organisation in America. Freedom House says that there are a hundred and twenty one democracies, eighty nine of them free - that is, they have parliamentary elections plus the rule of law. Another thirty two are partly free, like Russia or Indonesia, say, with substantial difficulties with respect to the rule of law, but nonetheless regular elections.

In the eighty-nine years since the guns of August 1914, the world has gone from ten or twelve democracies to over a hundred and twenty, and those ten or twelve in 1914 were democracies only for the male portion of the populations. Nothing like that has happened within a single lifetime in world history before. Anyone eighty nine years old has seen democracies multiply tenfold.

Most of those came about not through military force, but in all sorts of ways. During and after the Cold War, for example, in Iberia, the role of the German Social Democrats was important in working with their socialist colleagues to steer Spain and Portugal away from communism and totalitarianism and towards democracy. In the Philippines, it was people power. In Mongolia, Mali and countries all over the world, democracy has become a way of life.

These are places where, year after year, the smart, self-appointed experts have said, 'X will never be a democracy'. They said that the Germans would never be able to run a democracy, the Japanese would not, Catholic countries would not - because in the 1970s, Iberia and Latin America were non-democratic. They said it about people from a Chinese cultural background, yet the Taiwanese seem to have figured it out; maybe China will too. They said it about the Russians; after all, they missed the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Enlightenment - how could they run a democracy? But they seem to be getting started.

All along, the smart money has been wrong on this subject. It is not that there are no retrograde steps. There are in Venezuela and elsewhere, and in the Arab world, a portion of the Muslim world, there are some two hundred-plus million Arabs who live without democracy. This is an area where the transition will be difficult for a series of historical, cultural and religious reasons, many to do with the influence of the Wahhabis.

Nonetheless, it is not hopeless. It is the best path to peace, since democracies do not fight one another. They fight dictatorships and dictatorships fight each other, and democracies sometimes preempt against dictatorships, but they do not fight one another.

If we want to be successful in this long war, we will have to take on this issue of democracy in the Arab world. We will have to take on the - and I would use the word 'racist' - view that Arabs cannot operate democracies. We will need to make some people uncomfortable.

As we undertake these efforts in the Middle East and elsewhere, occasionally by force of arms but generally not, generally by influence, by standing up for brave students in the streets of Tehran, we will hear people say, from President Hosni Mubarak's regime in Egypt or from the Saudi royal family, that we are making them very nervous. And our response should be, 'Good. We want you nervous. We want you to change, but realise that now, for the fourth time in a hundred years, the democracies are on the march. And we are on the side of those whom you most fear: your own people.'

- James Woolsey is former Director of Central Intelligence. This is an edited version of his address to the Political Risk conference at Chatham House last month.

Posted by David Mader at 09:33 AM | (0) | Back to Main

July 24, 2003

Election Law

With the California gubernatorial recall vote set for October 7, the campaign will now likely take to the streets - and the courts. Loyola law professor Rick Hansen's blog Election Law is covering the recall, among other legal and political issues.

In his most recent post, Hansen discusses some of the possible or anticipated legal actions the anti-recall campaign will likely now take. Legal matters aside, I think that such actions - much like the attempt to brand the recall a 'republican conspiracy' - reflect some poor political decision-making. There are an awful lot of Californians who aren't partisan and aren't ideological but who really, really, really don't like Grey Davis. There are more who just generally don't like him. In fact, more than 70% of the state has unfavourable feelings about him, though only about 50% currently favour a recall. To label 70% of the state fanatics seems like an awfully bad way of winning votes. Attempting to obstruct the recall effort by resorting to the courts only seems to confirm the conception of Gray as an opponent of the popular will.

Already many are linking the recall effort to the 2004 presidential election, noting the state's large number of electoral votes. My brother has suggested - quite correctly, I think - that in fact the success or failure of the recall could have an inverse effect on the '04 election. If the recall is successful, many of the political malcontents will be satisfied, and the presedential vote could be up for grabs. If the recall is frustrated, however - and especially if it is frustrated by the courts - the electorate could try to vent its collective frustration in November '04.

[Election Law link via Eugene Volokh]

Posted by David Mader at 02:36 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Rule Britannia

The Queen yesterday presented a new Colour to the Royal Navy for the first time since 1969 and for only the third time ever. The ceremony at Plymouth also marked the 450th anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada - an event marked by many as the opening of the Atlantic to English exploration and expansion and the beginning of the British Empire.

Said the Queen:

As Lord High Admiral, I take great pride in this link between the Sovereign and the Royal Navy. This special relationship stretches back in some respects to King Alfred, but more directly to the time of King Henry VIII. Every Sovereign since those days has recognised the great responsibility of the Royal Navy as the protector of our island home.

It is most appropriate that I should be presenting this Colour here in Plymouth Sound with its long association with the Service and on the 415th Anniversary of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. That decisive battle thwarted an attempted invasion and secured the vital interests of the nation. Ever since then the safety of all those who "pass on the seas upon their lawful occasions" has continued to rest on the broad shoulders of the men and women of the Royal Navy.

In recent years, their courage and dedication have been tested many times and never found wanting. Yet success has its price and I would like to express my sympathy once again to the families and friends of those who have recently given their lives on active service. As a daughter, wife and mother of Naval officers, I want to pay tribute to the families for the support they give to those who are serving far from home.

The new Colour appears, I believe, as below:

Posted by David Mader at 11:53 AM | (0) | Back to Main


The US authority in Iraq has released pictures of Uday and Qusay Hussein in order to convince skeptics that the brothers were indeed killed in a raid two days ago. Maderblog will post the pictures when they become available on-line.

In the meantime, the photos have been distributed to the press in Iraq, and Reuters is convinced:

Pictures of the bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons Uday and Qusay, seen by Reuters on Thursday, show the face and torso of the two feared brothers who are recognizable despite facial injuries suffered by Uday.
A U.S. military source showed two photographs of Uday and two of Qusay to an Iraqi Reuters reporter who was familiar with the appearance of both men.

Uday appeared clearly recognizable despite a wound that destroyed part of his nose and upper lip. Qusay's face did not show any sign of wounds.

More reaction as it comes...

UPDATE: The pictures have been released, and two are available below (click 'Continue Reading...'). Some readers may find the images disturbing.

Uday Hussein

Qusay Hussein

Posted by David Mader at 10:59 AM | (1) | Back to Main

The Most-Discussed Glenn on the World Wide Web

There's an interesting write-up of Glenn Reynolds - Instapundit - in the Yale Law Report. A worthwhile read for blog-junkies, I think. And it contains this wonderful tidbit:

When something catches his eye, he’ll quickly pursue it around the web, darting from one blog to another alonga channel of links. He opens more and more Internet Explorer windows as he goes (though he’s discovered that the program won’t let you have more than forty-two open at once).


[Via Instapundit. Heh.]

Posted by David Mader at 09:20 AM | (0) | Back to Main


The campaign to recall California Gov. Gray Davis has succeeded. The State has validated 1.3 million signatures, far more than the 897,158 necessary for the recall to be put to a vote.

I first noted the recall effort back in January (or early February) with a simple blog post. I updated it only once. It nonetheless became by far the most sought item on my blog, collecting handfulls of comments. What struck me most about these comments was that they seemed - by all indications - not to come from blogosphere regulars, but by Californians who had logged on to the internet to find out how they could help recall their governor. Coming overwhelmingly from search engines, they patently did not seem to be right-wing ideologues. Some mentioned the energy crisis; some the budget; some immigration. But they all expressed a common desire to see Davis recalled.

They've succeeded. And power to them. Some pundits - on the right as well as the left - have bemoaned the recall effort, calling it an affront to representative democracy, and pointing out that Davis was re-elected less than a year ago. Others, who put more faith in the government than the people, have warned of the dangers of plebiscites and other expressions of popular sentiment, suggesting that even a million signatures represents a minority view that should not be cause for a change in government.

These concerns are legitimate. The recall campaign may be sour grapes; it may undermine the current political order. But it's also perfectly legal, and it has succeeded in prompting the most active popular participation in government in recent memory. And that cannot be a bad thing.

So to those Californians who have petitioned to recall their governor: congratulations. Today is your day.

UPDATE: Mark your calendars - the vote to recall Gray Davis will be held on October 7.

Posted by David Mader at 09:01 AM | (2) | Back to Main

July 23, 2003

Raymond Chandler on Acid

In today's dangerous world, with terrorists and baathists and attacks on our troops and our interests, it's important to remember that this aggression will not stand, man.

Posted by David Mader at 01:50 PM | (0) | Back to Main

July 22, 2003

It's Official

The US Army is confirming the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who broke the news, also said that the Army learned the whereabouts of the two Husseins thanks to a walk-in tip.

The Army's word won't likely be enough to convince nay-sayers in the US and Europe, but Iraqis themselves seem convinced as they lit up the Baghdad sky with gunfire in celebration of the death of the two tyrants.

The stock markets also seemed convinced, rising markedly on the news (as much as any market movement can be attributed to any one development, etc.).

MORE: I said some in the US and Europe wouldn't be convinced by the Army's announcement. Should we be surprised that among the nay-sayers is the BBC?

Saddam sons 'dead'

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's two sons, Uday and Qusay, have been killed by US troops in Iraq, a US military commander in Baghdad has said.

General Ricardo Sanchez said he was "certain" the two were killed along with two other people in a fierce gun battle in the northern city of Mosul.

For goodness' sake, even Reuters is laying off the scare quotes.

MORE: Here's the text of Lt. Gen. Sanchez' statement. Some interesting bits:

QUESTION: General, could you tell us whether DNA tests on the two bodies you said belong to Qusai and Odai are positive?

SANCHEZ: We are currently continuing to exploit the site and we continue to investigate the elements that were recovered from the scene.

QUESTION: If, in fact, you use DNA to confirm the identities, where would the original sample have come from?

SANCHEZ: I couldn't answer that question.

I'll bet. Also:

QUESTION: Sir, there were two $15 million rewards for information leading to these characters. Were those rewards, will those rewards be paid out?

SANCHEZ: We're pursuing that at this point in time. I would expect that it probably will happen.

And finally:

QUESTION: Do you think that the killing of Odai and Qusai, as you put it, is going to have an impact on the guerrilla warfare that's being carried out against your forces?

SANCHEZ: I believe very firmly that this will, in fact, have an effect. This will prove to the Iraqi people that at least these two members of the regime will not be coming back into power, which is what we've stated over and over again. And we remain totally committed to the Hussein regime never returning to power and tormenting the Iraqi people.

Posted by David Mader at 04:10 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Eiffel Tower Burns

From the AP:

One of the top floors of the Eiffel Tower was on fire Tuesday, officials said. Smoke could be seen rising from the famous Paris monument.

Officials said they were not sure whether anyone was on the top level, where the fire appeared to have erupted.


UPDATE (13:46 EST): The AP's latest:

The company that operates the Eiffel Tower confirmed the fire but gave no details as to its origin and had no information about whether anyone may have been injured in the blaze, which appeared to be limited to a top floor of the monument.

UPDATE (13:56): CNN reports that the fire started in "a so-called technical room housing antenna equipment at the top of the tower" according to Paris Police.

Find the latest news here.

Posted by David Mader at 01:46 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Uday & Qusay Dead?

Reuters is repeating a DebkaFile rumour that Uday and Qusay Hussein may have been killed during a special forces raid of a Hussein loyalist's compound in Mosul.

[Via Instapundit]

UPDATE (13:01 EST): The latest AP dispatch filed 12:55 EST has changed the 'likely dead' line to 'believed dead'. The story also has a good section on the 'Sunni Triangle' north and west of Baghdad that forms the core of anti-American activity. The concentration of such activity puts lie to the Big Media line that armed opposition to the coalition occupation is geographically and ideologically widespread.

Posted by David Mader at 01:03 PM | (1) | Back to Main


Hard to argue with this Washington Post editorial:

AT THE BEGINNING of this month, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan led much of the international community in imploring the Bush administration to help restore order in Liberia, a West African country with strong ties to the United States. Put on the spot on the eve of his tour of Africa, President Bush promised that the United States would help but didn't offer specifics; instead, he dispatched a team to study the situation. His pledge, which was greeted with joy and hope in Liberia, now looks empty...

It now may be considerably more difficult, and costly, for an international force to restore order in Liberia -- and some say it may be too late. If so, that will please many of Mr. Bush's political nominees, especially in the Pentagon. They continue to resist any use of American troops for humanitarian or peacekeeping operations; for the past several weeks they have been promoting a foot-dragging response to Liberia, in the hope that once the president's media events around the continent were completed, the dispatch of U.S. troops could be quietly ducked. The opponents point out that U.S. forces are stretched thin around the world. But the experience of Britain in neighboring Sierra Leone shows that an American force numbering in the hundreds, supplemented by West African peacekeepers, would very likely be able to disarm the ragtag militants of each side, while ensuring the departure of Mr. Taylor. In so doing, an American mission could offer a chance for stability not only to Liberia but to much of the neighboring region, which has been ravaged by Mr. Taylor and his criminal allies.

The administration has something of an out given the delay in deploying the Nigerian-led peacekeeping/peacemaking force organized by the West African states; moreover, while a Marine carrier has been ordered to the Mediterranean, it is still at least two weeks from full deployment. Nonetheless, one gets the feeling that even a token intervention would do much to calm the situation, as both the government and the rebel groups seem to want an American presence - in part as an excuse to stop fighting. At the very least, the White House should take a stand. The continued 'monitoring' looks less like careful consideration, and more like passing the buck.

Posted by David Mader at 09:16 AM | (0) | Back to Main

July 21, 2003

Faster, Please

Pejman Yousefzadeh links to an interesting Telegraph article on the spread of Iran's new hang-out: the pool-hall.

His favourite pastime was once banned. But now Amir and his friends spend their evenings at one of Teheran's recently-opened social "sports halls" playing snooker.

It is all the rage for the young generation in Iran but may prove to be a headache for the conservative defenders of Islamic social conduct.

They are well aware of the potential dangers; women are barred from joining most of the clubs or from playing at the same time as men.

"The posture women take up in the game is deemed sexual, and thus they are forbidden to play with us," said Amir, a 24-year-old regular at a club in north Teheran. But the game still attracts the female sex, who go to watch the men play.

"I don't play. But I regularly come with my [male] friends and watch them," said 23-year-old Fariba. "It's a form of social gathering for us. Apart from coffee shops, Teheran offers very little facilities for get-togethers. An outing to the park, for example, will result in us being questioned."[...]

As the conservatives gave an inch to the social reformists, the young generation seized the opportunity to take a mile for themselves.

The sign outside the snooker club in the north of the capital says Islamic dress code must be obeyed.

But this does not discourage many stylish young women from entering it wearing see-through scarves and tight-fitting mantaues, light overcoats intended to obscure the shape of the body.

For those raised on the 'great satan' image of the Islamic Republic, the notion of young Iranians chilling and flirting might seem a bit absurd. But IranianGirl is happy to link to a series of photos which show the beauty of Persia.

Iran waits to be free. Many young Iranians, it seems, are not content to wait.

Posted by David Mader at 09:33 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Kelly Affair

Jeff Jarvis has a round-up.

Posted by David Mader at 08:55 AM | (0) | Back to Main

July 20, 2003

A Casualty of Anti-War

The Daily Telegraph rightly condemns both the Blair government and the BBC for the suicide of Dr. David Kelly:

The BBC, as represented by its Head of News, Richard Sambrook, and its Chairman, Greg Dyke, is convinced that the Government had twisted the information it had from the intelligence services on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and as a result, may have dragged the country to war with Iraq on false pretences. The Government was, and is, furious that the BBC was questioning its honesty and integrity. As Tony Blair said with his trademark moral vanity two weeks ago, "There is nothing worse you can say about a Prime Minister than to question his integrity."

The individual crushed by the collision of those two powerful and frequently self-righteous organisations was the unsuspecting Dr Kelly...

His death has shocked the Prime Minister into ordering Lord Justice Hutton to inquire into the events which led to it. Tony Blair is to be commended for taking that step. He was not forced into it - a Government with a majority of the size that this one enjoys in the Commons cannot be forced to do anything.

The result of Lord Hutton's inquiry, however, could be very uncomfortable for both the Government and the BBC. The BBC will now have to answer the question of whether or not Dr Kelly, who in fact was not "in the intelligence services", was the source for Mr Gilligan's claim that the intelligence dossier had been "sexed up". Alastair Campbell will have to say whether or not he was responsible for releasing Dr Kelly's name to the press. When Lord Hutton's inquiry is complete, we should know whether or not Dr Kelly told Mr Gilligan that the Government had lied about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction; or whether the BBC was itself guilty of "sexing up" a more truthful, but less exciting, statement from Dr Kelly.

While the government must not escape blame, I'm inclined to lay the blame more squarely at the feet of the BBC. Theirs, after all, was the dodgy dossier game, a game that increasingly looks to be based on a gross distortion of Kelly's statements. While they've now admitted that he was their source, neither the organization nor the reporter who brought the original 'sexed-up' allegation will back down:

"We can confirm that Dr. Kelly was the principal source" for Gilligan's story, the BBC said in a statement Sunday. "The BBC believes we accurately interpreted and reported the factual information obtained by us during interviews with Dr. Kelly."

The statement said Kelly had also been the source for a piece by reporter Susan Watts on its Newsnight analysis program.

Politicians across the ideological spectrum accused the BBC of inaccurately reporting Kelly's comments, citing his parliamentary testimony that while he spoke privately to Gilligan, he did not recognize the journalist's most damaging claims as his own.

"I believe I am not the main source," Kelly told the committee. "From the conversation I had, I don't see how (Gilligan) could make the authoritative statement he was making."

Assuming the BBC had no secondary source who made the report's central claims, the critics accused Gilligan of twisting Kelly's words.

Gilligan denied that Sunday evening.

"I want to make it clear that I did not misquote or misrepresent Dr. David Kelly," Gilligan said in a statement pointing out that Kelly also had been a source for the Newsnight report.

"Entirely separately from my meeting with him, Dr. Kelly expressed very similar concerns about Downing Street interpretation of intelligence in the dossier and the unreliability of the 45-minute point to Newsnight," his statement said.

Conservative party MP Robert Jackson, who represents Kelly's home district, told the BBC earlier in the day that he believed Gilligan "dressed up what was said to him by Dr. Kelly."

"I believe that the BBC has knowingly, for some weeks, been standing by a story that it knew was wrong," he said.

It increasingly seems as though Gilligan - and others at the BBC - came to the conclusion some time ago that the government had misled parliament. After that editorial decision was made, it was only a matter of finding a 'source'. Kelly's discussions to Gilligan and others wasn't quite what they had in mind, but in the absence of a better source it had to do. Gilligan himself will now be scrutinized for having 'sexed-up' his conversation with Kelly - in order to grind his anti-war axe.

If that was the case - and, again, it increasingly seems to have been the case - then Kelly will not have been a casualty of war. He'll have been a casualty of the BBC's ongoing anti-war campaign.

Posted by David Mader at 05:11 PM | (0) | Back to Main

July 18, 2003

Rule of Law - Or the Alternative?

The family of an American woman murdered in a suicide attack in 1997 has been awarded $313 million from the Iranian government by a federal court judge:

In the Stern case, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth said he found the evidence "overwhelming" that Iran's military had trained the commanders of the Islamic Resistance Movement, also known as Hamas, and that these commanders arranged the 1997 market bombing. The judge said there is also clear evidence that Iran's government had paid millions of dollars to sponsor the group's attacks and the purchase of sophisticated bombing supplies.

The decision was based on "a 1976 law aimed at making foreign governments that sponsor terrorism pay American survivors and bereaved families."

But the State Department doesn't want the Sterns - or any other bereaved families - to collect:

The decision came the same day that the State Department pressed Congress to place a limit of a few hundred thousand dollars each on the compensation that victims of future terrorist attacks could receive... The idea, offered by the State Department, is aimed at discouraging victims of future terrorist attacks from seeking relief in the courthouse.

If the families of victims of terror are discouraged from seeking relief in the courthouse, where shall they seek relief?

The battlefield?

State's suggestion not only puts the interests of foreign nations above the interests of American citizens, it undermines the fundamental democratic tendency to seek judicial recourse. That's not just bad for Americans - it's bad for America.

Posted by David Mader at 01:32 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Reaping and Sowing

The RCMP has issued a report suggesting that suicide terror attacks in Canada are a logical probability, given the large number of migrants from regions where such attacks are common. The report rightly notes that many migrants leave such areas in order to escape the prevailing socio-political climate; nonetheless, many such immigrants are known to be actively involved in fundraising and other administrative tasks on behalf of terrorist organizations. Canada has largely managed to stay off the radar of Islamist terror groups - except as a haven. But the presence of potentially-sympathetic populations combined with the narrowing of targets and opportunities abroad suggests that acts of terror in Canada are, if not inevitable, likely.

Posted by David Mader at 12:26 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Blair's Speech

Read it. Thoughts forming; more later.

Posted by David Mader at 11:53 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Slow Day

Sorry for the light posting yesterday - it was a fast-day, so I wasn't in top blog-writing mode.

Posted by David Mader at 09:30 AM | (1) | Back to Main

July 17, 2003


Fighting seems to have started anew.

Posted by David Mader at 04:29 PM | (0) | Back to Main

July 16, 2003

January Surprise

Pejman Yousefzadeh links to an MSNBC interview with David Kay, who is in charge of the effort to uncover and document Saddam Hussein's WMD program.

The transcript is much worth a read. Of course, as Kay is an agent of the administration, many will be quick to dismiss the allegations and suggestions as propaganda. Nonetheless Kay's responses suggest that - as Andrew Sullivan predicts - critics who have latched on to the 'failure to find WMD' are digging their own rhetorical grave.

The administration has not been without fault over the case made for war and the story told concerning WMD; nonetheless, declaring a failure of intelligence - and even a breach of trust - after only two or three months may prove fatal for critics of the President. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see the first 'confirmations' of an Iraqi WMD program trickle out of Washington just in time for the opening of primary season, 2004, at which point Democrats will have to choose between scrapping their previous months' work or asserting that the evidence is false. Either way - if it comes to pass - Bush could have them snookered.

Until then, the search continues.

Posted by David Mader at 11:11 PM | (3) | Back to Main

Coup in West Africa

There has been a military coup in the West African island nation of Sao Tome & Principe.

- CIA factbook entry

- State Department profile

- Most recent news: Google,

Posted by David Mader at 03:13 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Reverting to Form

Earlier this week Canadian papers were abuzz with the rumour that a meeting of centre-left heads of government would endorse a study commissioned by the Government of Canada which recommended intervention to protect civilian populations when local government abused, or refused to protect, human rights. This blog expressed its surprise that many of the conference participants, who had only months earlier opposed and obstructed intervention to remove the tyrannical Iraqi regime, would sign on to such a hawkish document. Nonetheless the declaration was applauded in this space as a welcome, if consternating, development.

But the so-called 'progressive' heads of government have helpfully removed all consternation by refusing to endorse the interventionist proposal - because it could be taken as after-the-fact approval of the invasion of Iraq:

German officials denied reports that Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who strongly opposed the Iraq war, had also held out against the wording. But it is understood that he had strong reservations and acted to prevent anything that would be seen to have approved of the decision to go to war.

Early drafts of the communiqué, quoting from a report by the Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, launched by the Canadian government in 2000, stated: "Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect."

That wording did not appear in the final version. As a compromise, the conclusions agreed merely that the work being done by ICISS was a valuable contribution to a debate within the United Nations about how to deal with brutal regimes.

In asserting the right to intervene for humanitarian reasons, the heads of governments which had opposed the liberation of Iraq demonstrated a tremendous hypocricy. In renouncing the same principle, they demonstrate a breathtaking amorality.

Posted by David Mader at 02:23 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Zahra Kazemi

The crisis surrounding the murder of photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi has focused attention on both the personal tragedy and the geo-political obstinancy of the Iranian regime. Kazemi, in death, puts a human face on the brutality of the Islamic Republic and its various thuggish agents of force - both in and out of uniform. The growing diplomatic row with Ottawa has given given Tehran a further black eye, and Canadian Ambassador Phillip MacKinnon's description of the Iranian political culture as "feudal" is damning in its accuracy.

But in a sense, the cotroversy surrounding Kazemi's murder has also obscured the personal and political toll of the 'mullocracy'. The journalist was one of an untold number of dissidents killed in the past month of unrest. Thousands have been arrested; the fate of many remains unknown. In all likelihood there are others similarly murdered whose names and memories are kept only by grieving and wondering families. Moreover, the haggling over Kazemi's remains, and the debate over an internal inquiry into her beating, fails to recognize the fundamental intransigence of the Iranian regime. A proper inquiry would reveal not just an isolated instance of police brutality, but a culture of repression and state-sanctioned terror. No diplomatic agreement could right this wrong; no mea culpa could exonerate the guilty. Zahra Kazemi was murdered by the theocratic regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and that regime must bear the consequences.

[With files from Damian Penny and ActivistChat]

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New Blog Roll

I've reorganized the blogroll on the right, adding quite a few. The groupings are based on a loose association of the author's physical location and his or her geo-political area of focus. Some are straightforward (IranianGirl); some are not (LGF). All are worth reading. I'll add more over time. I'm always open to suggestions.

Posted by David Mader at 01:05 PM | (3) | Back to Main

Anti-Semitism in the Observer

This piece has been getting a lot of play around the blogosphere, and rightly so:

I have developed a habit when confronted by letters to the editor in support of the Israeli government to look at the signature to see if the writer has a Jewish name. If so, I tend not to read it.

Too few people in this modern world are prepared to declare an interest when it comes to this kind of thing. It would be enormously helpful, for example, if those clerics and journalists who have been defending Canon Jeffrey John, the so-called gay bishop, were to tell us whether they themselves are gay. Some do, but more don't.

The issue arises partly because, in both cases, these people are often accusing the other side of being prejudiced and biased - we are either homophobes or anti-Semites.

The other day, for example, the Canadian journalist Barbara Amiel wrote a long denunciation of the BBC in the Daily Telegraph, accusing the Corporation of being anti-Israel in its Middle East coverage.

Many readers of the Daily Telegraph may have been impressed by her arguments, assuming her to be just another journalist or even, as she was recently described in another newspaper, an 'international-affairs commentator'.

They might have been less impressed if the paper had told them that Barbara Amiel is not only Jewish but that her husband's company, in which she has an interest, owns not only the Daily Telegraph but the Jerusalem Post .

In other words, when it comes to accusing people of bias on the Middle East, she is not ideally qualified for the role.

The best treatment I've seen comes from Eugene Volokh, who notes: "Jews, though, are somehow different. They apparently have nothing interesting or valuable to say about Israel. Their opinions -- not just their bare factual statements, taken on a "trust me" basis, but apparently even their arguments that can logically be evaluated on their face, with no reference to who's making the argument -- are useless."

The writer - Richard Ingrams - himself establishes his criteria for discrimination in news-reading - the 'Jewishness' of a commentator's name. Ingram freely admits, therefore, that the worthiness of a man's opinion is based not on the opinion, or on a man's intellectual capacity to speak on the subject, but solely on his membership in an ethno-religious group. Jewish? Shut your mouth.

Says Volokh: "I'm usually quite hesitant to accuse people of anti-Semitism, but it's hard to see how this column by Richard Ingrams can be explained as anything but that."


Posted by David Mader at 11:44 AM | (0) | Back to Main

July 15, 2003

Free Iran

Though July 9 has come and gone, the struggle for a free Iran continues. For regularly updated news and information about the campaign for freedom, I strongly recommend, which is dedicated to peaceful reform and democratization. Head on over and sign their petition or buy some gear and show your support.

Iran yearns to breath free. Soon she will.

Posted by David Mader at 09:55 AM | (0) | Back to Main

July 14, 2003

What But Anti-Americanism?

A group of 'centre-left' heads of government are set to endorse a report which calls for intervention and regime change in failed states:

The participants will issue a joint communiqué and, according to a draft leaked over the weekend, it will claim that the international community has a right to intervene in the internal affairs of failing states.

The key section said: "Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of internal war, insurgency, repression or state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect."

Another section justifies this stance on the grounds that, just as individuals have rights and responsibilities, nations do too.

"The right to sovereignty brings associated responsibilities to protect citizens," the draft said.

The principle is laudatory, but it's confounding to read the list of politicians expected to endorse it, which includes "Jean Chrétien, the Canadian prime minister, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder of Germany, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, and Helen Clark, prime minister of New Zealand." Chretien and Schroeder, of course, recently invoked 'principle' to obstruct the removal of the tyrannical Saddamite regime in Baghdad.

One could argue, of course, that the invasion of Iraq did not meet the Chretien criteria: "We have to develop the process to be able to intervene when it's needed and intervene without creating the impression that you are intervening for your own personal interest." But such an explanation fails to address two key points: first, why is 'interest' only ever understood as a negative? Is not human liberty a universal interest? And second, if intervention must be avoided in instances of material interest, why did Canada and Germany, who had little to gain under the anti-war interpretation of oil-interested invasion, not participate in Iraq's liberation?

Indeed, the complete failure of the signatory countries, with the exception of Great Britain, to take any constructive steps towards the alleviation of human suffering anywhere in the world - not to mention the tacit support of some for repressive regimes and tyrants - makes the endorsement of a humanitarian-intervention protocol at once a hopeful and outrageously hypocritical development. Moreover, if the signatories are to be taken at their word, then what but anti-Americanism prompted their opposition to the liberation of Iraq?

Posted by David Mader at 02:49 PM | (0) | Back to Main

IRA in Ramallah

Trent Tolenko at Winds of Change brings the news that a Real-IRA terrorist has been arrested in Ramallah, where he is believed to have been training Palestinian terrorists in explosive use.

Irish republican terrorists have also been arrested in Columbia, where they are believed to have logistical ties with FARC and other narco-terrorists.

The IRA-FARC-Palestinian connection shouldn't be particularly surprising, as each movement is driven, to a degree, by a fundamental contempt for democracy. The war on terror has focused, of course, on Islamic terror and, to a lesser but still considerable degree, on pan-Arabist terror. The IRA and the narcos have come to be seen more as criminal enterprised than terrorist organizations - a perception driven in part by the notion that the IRA is now a 'partner' in the Northern Ireland peace process, and is no longer in a position to use terror to achieve its ends.

But as the recent discovery of republican espionage in Northern Ireland reveals, neither the IRA nor the nominally more moderate Sinn Fein have truly come in from the cold. In fact, as the IRA continues to refuse to disarm despite increasing devolution of power by Westminster, and as IRA members continue to be caught aiding not only Latin American 'criminal enterprises' but Palestinian terrorist groups, it's time we came to recognize the ideological ties that bind. When Irish republicans fly Palestinian flags, they aren't just displaying thier support for a progressive or marxist revolutionary movement akin to their own. They are demonstrating their mutual hostility to the most basic tenets of freedom and democracy. They may not pose the same threat to the United States as does al-Qaida. But they pose a similar threat to freedom. And sooner or later, they too must be confronted.

UPDATE: This turns out to have been a case of mistaken identity. Reports suggest British intelligence contributed to the mix-up, advising Shin Bet to pick up a man with the same name as a known republican terrorist.

Posted by David Mader at 09:56 AM | (1) | Back to Main

July 11, 2003

Jews and the GOP

The Jewish Daily Forward reports that a full-fledged campaign is underway to woo Jewish voters in anticipation of the 2004 election. Certainly President Bush and his strong performance and leadership in the war on terror provide an opportunity for a shift; cultural matters, religious observance and even issues such as school choice present a common ground between observant Jews and the GOP; and not a few liberal Jews will undoubtedly be turned off by the company now kept by the American left.

Incidentally, the Forward - once the Forverts - was, upon a time, the largest foreign-language newspaper in the United States (by readership). It was also ardently socialist. The paper has experienced a number of ideological and editorial shifts over the past fifty years, I understand, and it's interesting to note that Seth Lipsky, President and CEO of the New York Sun, was editor of the Forward from 1990-2000. Just a little Jewish-American-conservative trivia.

Posted by David Mader at 10:34 AM | (0) | Back to Main


I've expressed my hesitancy over a proposed Liberian intervention, and in doing so have admitted that there seems to be little definite strategic interest in the country. But I may have been quite wrong - if Michael Totten is right. Totten cites an article in the latest New Republic which traces the ties between Liberia (and specifically Taylor), diamonds and al-Qaida. It's not clear whether these alleged ties still hold, and it may be that al-Qaida activity in West Africa has shifted elsewhere. In fact, if the case were otherwise, there would likely already be American forces on the ground - though unpublicized. Still, Totten is right to point out that al-Qaida has, historically, been drawn to Taylor's Liberia. Until the Tyrant is well-removed, and a regime not hostile to democracy is introduced, there's no reason to believe the threat will be comprehensively diminished.

[Via Winds of Change]

Posted by David Mader at 09:56 AM | (1) | Back to Main


There wasn't very much big-media coverage of the events in Iran on Wednesday, so you won't do better than Patrick Belton's round-up of the day's major stories.

Posted by David Mader at 09:47 AM | (0) | Back to Main

July 10, 2003

Something to Celebrate

This blog was down on July 4, and so was unable to post some of the many fine pieces of opinion that appeared in print and in the blogosphere. As a belated tribute to the land of the free I recommend a column by McGill Professor Gil Troy (full disclosure: with whom I've studied) which appeared in the Montreal Gazette on the Fourth. The column is hosted on Prof. Troy's own web-site, and is nothing less than a celebration of the idea that is America: Something to Celebrate.

The founders were not pinched parliamentarians narrowly crafting a tax code; these were ambitious revolutionaries promising “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as “inalienable rights” to their fellow citizens, be they rich or poor, long-established or newcomers, deemed worthy or vulgar.With this revolutionary step, government would facilitate individual growth rather than perpetuate kingly prerogatives. Government would now serve the people, rather than having the people serve the government. The declaration emphasized that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Locating sovereignty in the people rather than the traditional “sovereigns” – the monarch or God himself – anticipated America’s Constitution a decade later emanating from “We the people.”

The innocuous phrase “consent of the governed” transformed the fundamental governing equation. Rights were no longer doled out to the people by the whims of the sovereign or the Parliament. Rights now inhered within the people who chose to grant certain powers to the government, as long as it suited them. “Consent of the governed” guaranteed a government working for those who do the consenting. This made every government bureaucrat in America, from dog-catcher to the president, the people’s servant not the other way around...

I really do recommend the whole thing.

Posted by David Mader at 02:04 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Global Poverty

A surprisingly refreshing and candid leader in the Times deconstructs the United Nations Development Program's annual Human Development Report:

At least one newspaper yesterday presented the UN findings solely in the most numbingly depressing terms and condemned the whole of the 1990s as an unqualified disaster for humanity. It noted that while the US economy boomed during that decade, “more than 50 countries suffered falling living standards”.

The strong implication of such ludicrous analysis is that enhanced wealth in one place is always bought off the backs of others. Prosperity is presented as a stock, not a flow, a ridiculous proposition in the light of human history. In fairness to those who swallowed this line, the UN was more than willing to dangle it in front of them. The focus of this lengthy document, the size of a telephone directory with the literary appeal to match, was overwhelmingly negative. It reads like a manifesto for transferring more money from developed nations to the Third World immediately. Yet the numerous details contained in it did not support this worthy contention.

What details? Read the whole thing.

Posted by David Mader at 10:10 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Thousands Take to Tehran Streets

From the Jerusalem Post:

Shrugging off death threats by government paramilitary forces, tens thousands of Iranian students took to the streets Wednesday night, burning at least three government banks, calling for the country's democratization and the death to its extremist leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini.

The demonstrations, banned by the Mullarchy, came on the 4th anniversary of 1999 pro-reform protests which triggered a violent regime crackdown, the death of one student and the arrest of thousands.

Opposition group leaders hailed Wednesday's demonstrations the culmination of month-long anti-government activities as a deadly blow to the repressive regime, saying it edges Iran ever closer to a democratic revolution.

Following and eerily quiet day in Iran, three-sided street battles erupted between pro-reform youth, regime-backed para-military forces, and police outside Tehran University.

As many as 100,000 also gathered around one of Tehran's main city squares Wednesday night chanting pro-democracy slogans and calling for the death of Khameini, an opposition source said.

[Via Eugene Volokh]

Posted by David Mader at 09:27 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Free-Iran Protests

Asparagirl was in New York, and has reflections. And pictures Have a look.

Instapundit also relays an account of the DC protest. Both accounts have mentioned the lack of non-ethnic-Iranian attendees, which is both telling and unfortunate. Telling, as Asparagirl sayss, because it suggests the double-standard upon which the nominally-pro-democracy left operates; unfortunate, because it suggests that the nominally-pro-democracy right stayed home too.

Posted by David Mader at 09:07 AM | (0) | Back to Main

July 09, 2003

Students Battle Police in Tehran

Sky News reports ongoing street battles between 'pro-democracy youths' and 'hardline Islamic vigilantes'.

The confrontation follows the seizure of three student leaders following their announcement of the cancellation of planned protests. The three were assaulted by a gang of plain-clothes men - possibly of the Basij 'militia' - as they left a news conference.

(14:31) The latest Reuters report.

Posted by David Mader at 01:38 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Students in Tehran have cancelled planned protests after receiving threats of a 'Tiananmen-like' confrontation. But protests go on around the globe, and on the blogosphere. Check out the Winds of Change Carnival of Liberties for a round-up of online activity.

Posted by David Mader at 09:45 AM | (0) | Back to Main

July 08, 2003

Judgement Day Will Come

Pooya Dayanim, president of the Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee, says that the clerical regime may not fall tomorrow - but it will fall:

The regime has closed the University of Tehran. All other universities are closed. The so-called reformist city council and the Khatami government have banned all rallies and demonstrations inside university campuses and outside in the streets. Newspapers inside Iran have been told not to report what is happening...

The streets of Tehran and several other major cities are swarming with members of the revolutionary guard, the Hezbollah militia, plainclothes thugs, foreign mercenaries, and others hired by the regime to immediately suppress and crush any gatherings...

For the past two days, three Los Angeles-based satellite TV stations that were largely responsible for carrying political messages and urging pro-democracy activists to pour to the streets of Tehran have had their signals jammed — at a time when they are about to play a potentially historic role in the liberation of Iran...

All of this, however, is irrelevant. The people of Iran (inside Iran and outside) want an end to this evil regime. Freedom will prevail.

Posted by David Mader at 08:20 PM | (0) | Back to Main


IranianGirl awaits tomorrow's protests with hope, fear and anxiety:

Yes, people are really pessimistic about a soon change of regime; they are tired & hopeless & for sure scared. And I just don't know if they can throw away their fear & tiredness or not.

People have seen enough violence from this regime & for sure they don't like to lose their children & teenagers in a street battle & let them fight for what is their right. I just wish they could open their eyes & see clearly what is happening to their children & just compare that with death...

Tomorrow is July 9...the day that Iranians will show what they really want, & will prove that they're not a kind of people who leave alone the students & the young guys who are spending they life in prisons, just because they wanted freedom for all Iranians.

IranianGirl is in Tehran, and her blog will undoubtedly be a site of interest tomorrow, as it always is. If you'd like to mark the day and show your support, but aren't sure how, why not send her an e-mail at and let her know that you're thinking of her and all the young Iranian women who dream of a life free from fear.

Posted by David Mader at 07:53 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Cox and Forkum support a free Iran:

Visit their site for a number of links to excellent commentary.

Posted by David Mader at 07:44 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Free Iran

Tomorrow, July 9, is the fourth anniversary of pro-reform student riots in Tehran that shook the Islamic Republic. Though the clerical regime has vowed to stifle any insurgency, and has rounded up thousands of students and other reformists, freedom-loving Iranians have pledged to rally all the same.

MaderBlog supports their efforts, as we support their dreams of a free Iran.

Across the blogosphere, dilligent bloggers will be marking the day with a blog-burst focusing on the Islamic Republic and the efforts for democratic change. Of special note is Winds of Change, an excellent group blog that will be hosting the 'July 9 Carnival of Liberties' in honor of the Iranian protest. I encourage you to visit the blogs linked on the side-bar, all of whom, I'm sure, will be celebrating the effort for democracy in Iran.

MaderBlog will similarly be supporting the blog-burst, and the campaign for a free Iran, as much as possible over the next twenty-four hours, just as it has since its inception, just as it will until Iran is made free.

Posted by David Mader at 07:28 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Africa, Democracy and Hope

In the Times, RW Johnson says that the President's visit to Africa displays the administration's recognition of the region's second generation democrats, and predicts that liberalism - in the classical sense - is the wave of the African future.

Posted by David Mader at 09:09 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Swear Words Be ******

A hilarious leader from the Daily Telegraph.

(10:20) Here's the background story, itself worth a chuckle.

Posted by David Mader at 08:52 AM | (0) | Back to Main

July 07, 2003


The situation in Liberia is now front page news as President Bush and his administration debate intervention. It's hard to say exactly why the crisis has garnered so much attention - the country isn't strategically important, and the humanitarian crisis, though not to be understated, certainly pales in comparison to that of the DRCongo. Perhaps the summertime news-lull has elevated a peripheral issue to center-stage. Perhaps the focus on Liberia is a testament to the successes in Afghanistan, Iraq and the wider war on terror. Or perhaps the decision to intervene in Liberia really does merit front-page status in a way that even the UN mission to Congo didn't.

I've been talking about Liberia for a few weeks, although even I was years too late on Africa, and so I'm certainly glad that the region is now a subject of discussion and debate. I've also called for intervention in the region. But now that intervention seems possible - and even likely - I find myself hesitant, second-guessing my assumptions and arguments.

In part I'm surprised to find myself in the company of an unlikely group urging the United States to intervene. The UN, the French and the liberal chattering-classes have decided that intervention is America's moral imperative - a fortiori given Liberia's historical connection to the United States. There's much to be written on the social-democratic aversion to interest-driven conflict given the apparent - and repeated - willingness to engage in wars for little other than emotional reasons. As the Wall Street Journal editorializes, the left's eagerness for intervention suggests that "liberating Iraqis from a dictator was an act of imperialism, but sorting out a civil war in West Africa is now America's moral obligation. We suppose," the Journal continues, "we should be grateful that the French and U.N. have rediscovered the virtues of American power."

Indeed. But while the left's calls for intervention may be hypocritical, they aren't necessarily wrong. The argument that humanitarian crises present a security threat isn't entirely persuasive, but it has its merit. Moreover, the explicit connection that the President has enunciated between tyranny and terrorism suggests a necessary re-evaluation of the African situation. If tyranny breeds a hostility to democracy and allows the reallocation of resources to anti-democratic non-state actors, Africa must surely be a focus of concern.

If nothing else, Liberia presents an opportunity in a region that affords few. It would be extraordinarily difficult to occupy, say, Somalia, which has no state infrastructure to speak of. Congo, which more or less defines the Central African crisis, is orders of magnitude bigger than anything anyone's prepared to deal with. But Liberia - which is relatively small, and therefore theoretically manageable, and which enjoys a relatively high degree of governmental organization - may represent a happy medium.

My hesitency, then, also isn't driven by a fear that the US, even with an over-burdened military deploying a small-scale force, isn't up to the job. My concern is whether, given the sudden calls for intervention from uncommon sections, and the desire of some administration members to do good by the 'international community', a US intervention will be done right. And a truly successful intervention will not follow the 1990s 'peace-keeping' rubrick. It must resemble, more than anything, trusteeship - what those same leftist cheerleaders, devoid of historical awareness, would undoubtedly call 'imperialism'.

Moreover, such a project, once begun, would inevitably extend beyond Liberia - in part to achieve a proper stability in the initial target country, but in part to bring the benefits of such an endeavor to neighboring countries. At present there is absolutely no political will, not to mention military capacity, to engage in such a project. But once American troops have successfully pacified Liberia (something not to be taken for granted, but not to be unduly doubted), questions will inevitably be asked, and the temptation for expansion will be great.

The decision to intervene, then, may well be more important that it otherwise might seem. The President is therefore to be applauded for his cautious approach. If the Pentagon and the forces ultimately report that an intervention is inadvisable, proponents of African democratization should not be disheartened. If, on the other hand, an expeditionary force is deployed, we must be active in tracking its progress, and in making the case for a proper and therefore intermediate- or long-term mission. If the deployment is successful, and is of an appropriate size and mandate, it will fade into the background once more. If it is not, we can expect Liberia to dominate the front page once more - and we none of us will like what we read.

MORE: The Times says that President Bush is serious about Africa, and has proved it with both words and deed.

Add the Economist to the list of new-found friends, as they welcome the President's focus on Africa with a feature story in the latest edition.

(18:15) In the Australian, James Morrow says that the left should stop being confounded by President Bush's humanitarian actions. He ties Liberia into the greater African strategy that Bush appears to be following:

As former US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Herman Cohen puts it, Liberia is a place where "everyone wants to be an American". In short, despite the complaints of Pentagon officials that their forces are spread thin enough already, any action in Liberia would likely be quick and largely painless...

Besides the relative ease of sorting out the troubles in Liberia before handing it over to some sort of UN-led interim government (East Timor provides an excellent model for such a system), a US-led effort to stop the mayhem in Liberia would be an unquestioned humanitarian good; over 200,000 people have died in the dozen years of Liberia's civil war. Bush, as a Christian, seems no longer content to let the US stand on the sidelines of human misery, despite his earlier rhetoric about humility abroad.

The notion that if the US can save lives somewhere, it ought to do so, rather than surrender power to international talking shops that settle for easy, feel-good solutions that do nothing to help ordinary people, has clearly taken hold in the White House...

Those on the Left who are driven mad by the man they derisively call "Dubya" and his use of US power should stop to consider their prejudices – and the alternatives. If they truly care about people, they might find that Bush isn't so scary after all.


Posted by David Mader at 10:50 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Fourth... OK, Fifth Time's a Charm

Don't ask.

In the interests of space, there are going to be some changes around here, at least for a while. I'm shifting to having only monthly-archives, which means no individual-post web-pages (with all their space-eating code) and no more categories (which essentially replicate the individual and monthly archives, eating up even more space). I think I've figured out why I was using so much space (something about uploading to the wrong directory), so in time I might reintroduce categories, but we'll see how it goes.

Oh yea, and I'm not importing all my old archives unless people really really want them, or I find I 'need' them. Otherwise I'll just bring in text from old post as required, and you'll have to trust me.

Also, I'm going to be fiddling around with this template, which, while similar to the old one, is different in some fundamental ways. We'll see how that goes to.

But for now, I'm content just to be back online, and hopefully I'll return to my (extremely low summer volume of) posting soon.

ALSO: I have to fiddle around with the template before permalinks will work. Sorry. It'll take some time.

Posted by David Mader at 09:22 AM | (2) | Back to Main