Islam's Bloody Borders
Thursday, September 26, 2002

This is the best thing I've read in quite a while.

Written in 1993, The Clash Of Civilizations describes culture rather than politics or economics as the primary engine of conflict in the modern world, a point of view that has long been near and dear to my heart. To his credit, the author's predictions from a decade ago seem to have held up pretty well, and his comments about Islam are untainted by the political smog which has engulfed the discussion since 9/11.

I've excerpted a few key passages below, but I encourage you to read the whole thing. It's really quite good.

What do we mean when we talk of a civilization? [...] European communities [...] will share cultural features that distinguish them from Arab or Chinese communities. Arabs, Chinese and Westerners, however, are not part of any broader cultural entity. They constitute civilizations. A civilization is thus the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity people have...

[...] the world will be shaped in large measure by the interactions among seven or eight major civilizations. These include Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American and possibly African civilization. The most important conflicts of the future will occur along the cultural fault lines separating these civilizations from one another.

[...] differences among civilizations are not only real; they are basic. Civilizations are differentiated from each other by history, language, culture, tradition and, most important, religion. The people of different civilizations have different views on the relations between God and man, the individual and the group, the citizen and the state, parents and children, husband and wife, as well as differing views of the relative importance of rights and responsibilities, liberty and authority, equality and hierarchy. These differences are the product of centuries. They will not soon disappear. They are far more fundamental than differences among political ideologies and political regimes. Differences do not necessarily mean conflict, and conflict does not necessarily, mean violence. Over the centuries, however, differences among civilizations have generated the most prolonged and the most violent conflicts.

These three paragraphs set the general outlines of this guy's approach. Here's where he starts to hit paydirt:

[...] In class and ideological conflicts, the key question was "Which side are you on?" and people could and did choose sides and change sides. In conflicts between civilizations, the question is "What are you?" That is a given that cannot be changed. And as we know, from Bosnia to the Caucasus to the Sudan, the wrong answer to that question can mean a bullet in the head.

Our current war is being fought because of who we are rather than anything we have done; it follows, inescapably, there is little we can do to deflect the hatred of our enemies, leaving us with little choice but an ugly conflict in which we simply must prevail. I find this to be the core belief that currently separates the hawks from the doves.

At a superficial level much of Western culture has indeed permeated the rest of the world. At a more basic level, however, Western concepts differ fundamentally from those prevalent in other civilizations. Western ideas of individualism, liberalism, constitutionalism, human rights, equality, liberty, the rule of law, democracy, free markets, the separation of church and state, often have little resonance in Islamic, Confucian, Japanese, Hindu, Buddhist or Orthodox cultures.

Lots of people don't seem to get this.

When you are talking about a clash of civilizations, you are talking about a clash of those things that people hold most dear. We are not fighting over trivialities that can be negotiated away; the subjugation of our women and the extermination of our Jewish neighbors are options that are simply not on the table.

In most countries and most religions the people active in fundamentalist movements are young, college-educated, middle- class technicians, professionals and business persons. The "unsecularization of the world," George Weigel has remarked, "is one of the dominant social facts of life in the late twentieth century."

Personally, I have puzzled over the fact that so many of the terrorists that hit us - and so many of the suicide bombers in Israel - seem to have been drawn from the middle-class rather than from the ranks of the poor. I think he's got it. Not bad for a paper written ten years ago...

So, how about those "bloody borders"?

[...] It has been reflected in the on-going civil war in the Sudan between Arabs and blacks, the fighting in Chad between Libyan-supported insurgents and the government, the tensions between Orthodox Christians and Muslims in the Horn of Africa, and the political conflicts, recurring riots and communal violence between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. [...] On the northern border of Islam, conflict has increasingly erupted between Orthodox and Muslim peoples, including the carnage of Bosnia and Sarajevo, the simmering violence between Serb and Albanian, the tenuous relations between Bulgarians and their Turkish minority, the violence between Ossetians and Ingush, the unremitting slaughter of each other by Armenians and Azeris, the tense relations between Russians and Muslims in Central Asia, and the deployment of Russian troops to protect Russian interests in the Caucasus and Central Asia.

[...] This is particularly true along the boundaries of the crescent-shaped Islamic bloc of nations from the bulge of Africa to central Asia. Violence also occurs between Muslims, on the one hand, and Orthodox Serbs in the Balkans, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Burma and Catholics in the Philippines.

This reminds me of a mean-spirited poster I once saw: The only common feature in each of your failed relationships is YOU.

Islamic governments (as distinct from Islamic people) are like a cancer on this earth. They breed violence and misery, and then share them quite generously with their neighbors.

I don't think it's because these governments are Islamic, either. I think it's simply because they are repressive, violent, backwards, and stupid, unsuited to survive in the 21st century and unwilling to adapt to the changing reality of the world. I'd expect that any religion, when mingled that closely with government, could be expected to produce similar results.

And I'd expect that there is only one way to fix this problem. These governments have got to go.


The President gave his speech today at the UN, and although it stopped short of an outright declaration of war against Iraq, I thought it was still pretty good. The full text is available here. I've excerpted a few sections below that I particularly liked:

[...] Today, we turn to the urgent duty of protecting other lives, without illusion and without fear.

[...] Just months after the 1991 cease-fire, the Security Council twice renewed its demand that the Iraqi regime cooperate fully with inspectors, "condemning" Iraq's "serious violations" of its obligations. The Security Council again renewed that demand in 1994 and twice more in 1996, "deploring" Iraq's "clear violations" of its obligations. The Security Council renewed its demand three more times in 1997, citing "flagrant violations" and three more times in 1998, calling Iraq's behavior "totally unacceptable." And in 1999, the demand was renewed yet again.
[Translation: You guys really suck at this. If you're gonna shoot, shoot, don't talk...]

[...] We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in the country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left? The history, the logic and the facts lead to one conclusion. Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take.

[...] The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment. Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?
[Mike cheers at this point, annoying co-workers]

[...] The United States helped found the United Nations. We want the U.N. to be effective and respected and successful. We want the resolutions of the world's most important multilateral body to be enforced. Right now these resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraqi regime.
[Unilaterally! Nice dig.]

[...] The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable. And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.
["Hear that, fuckers?" Mike shouts at screen. The UN General Assembly acts as if it didn't hear him.]

[...] We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather. We must stand up for our security, and for the permanent rights and hopes of mankind. By heritage and by choice, the United States of America will make that stand.
[Damn straight.]

So what happened? France immediately surrendered, of course. No, seriously... after giving us shit for a year straight, the French came right out and said they agreed with us.

"So who gives a fuck?" you ask. Well, remember that the UN really has only five members: China, Russia, England, France, and us. Everybody else is just lip service. The English have been with us from the start, the Chinese will not oppose us and Russians are in no position to argue, being as how they are still begging to be let in the back door to the Western world. So if Francis is going to lighten up a bit now, that pretty much means Ol' Koffi's comments have about as much relevance to what happens as, well, mine do.

And that's a good thing.

Update: Stratfor seems to agree that the Security Council will go along with us, despite what Kofi thinks.


Some New Kind Of Pearl Harbor
Tuesday, September 11, 2001

You all know the story by now. Many thousands of people, perhaps tens of thousands, lie rotting under tons of concrete and steel, and I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a loved one missing at this hour.

My heart goes out especially to the rescue teams who raced to their deaths this morning, and to their colleagues, who will spend the next many weeks searching among their remains beneath the late summer sun. I believe that the task of dismantling that pile will prove to be the single worst job on this planet.


Things will never be the same.

This morning I awoke in a world where you just couldn't take a jetliner full of people and throw it like a child's toy at the biggest skyscraper around. I never really thought that the White House or a Yankee Stadium could, quite credibly, be destroyed in the coming weeks or months.

This is not terrorism any more. What happened today was no different than if a foreign airforce had bombed New York and strafed the people on the streets. It is, without exaggeration, war.


This is a Pearl Harbor of sorts, but probably not the sort that most people imagine. We are not at war with a nation or even a civilian population, we are at war with what probably amounts to no more than a few thousand men, unusual men who have the capability to carry their fight at a national level. Until today we could dismiss them as criminals and terrorists, tactical players of small parts on the world stage. This morning they became strategic players. I believe we are going to have a hell of a time wrapping our minds around this, but these towel-headed fucks are now no different than a medium-sized country in their ability to project power.

We can't bomb their factories, dismantle their air defenses, destroy their troops and go home. Their power is no less formidable but it is not comprised of factories and troops, contained by borders or even led by public figures. The classic model of war, and of victory in war, simply does not apply.

They can really hurt us, and they will probably continue to do so, and we may never be able to put a stop to it. Ask the Israelis how long a war like this might last.

Ask if they remember a day that everything changed forever.


I always try to look at both sides of things, especially when they piss me off. On our side, I can predict that we will soon slap Afghanistan around for harboring our attackers, and that we might have some luck in tracking and killing some of those who were directly involved. Beyond that, I have no idea what to do and quite frankly I'm eager to see what the professionals can come up with.

On their side, I have to believe that they must really hate us, and hate us much more than any of us would ever have guessed. This was such an evil, hurtful action, of such great scale an involving so many suicidal participants... is madness really so common and so easy to focus? What else could this be, but hatred?


The Idiot Parade will start soon. The usual suspects will climb from their holes, dust off their suits, and try to explain to us how wiretaps are a good idea now, how too much freedom is a dangerous thing that really needs to have some limits on it. Others will describe how we should broker for peace by offering concessions.

Remember that we are strong because we are free and unbowed, especially when threatened. Let the mice return to their little holes and be done with them.


My call? We are really in an honest-to-god war, even if it doesn't look like one. Deal with it.

On an international level we should do everything in our power - not proportional things, or accepted things, but every thing - to hurt our enemies, to harass them, to frighten their allies and bring fear to any who would help them. We should not hesitate to torture or kill foreign nationals who dare come too close to them, who rally support for them, who trade with them or supply them. We should make them pariahs and we should stop at nothing to drive them into the sea. And we should consider it a source of national pride.

We shot a lot of fucking Germans and Japanese without so much as a search warrant, and don't imagine that we didn't kill am awful lot of innocent people who were just standing around in the wrong place while we were at it. War is ugly and unfair, an incredible, irrational waste of everything precious, and we just had one dropped in our laps, from 110 stories up. History will remember our response. Let's give them something they will never forget.

Odds And Ends
Sunday, September 2, 2002

There's an interesting story brewing in Sweden, where a young man named Kerim Chatty was recently found with a handgun in his carry-on bag.

Who, me?

People who make a habit of carrying guns - either legally or illegally - will sometimes take a weapon into a secured area by mistake. The presence of a gun alone is not necessarily an indication that this guy was a potential highjacker; he might be no more than a common criminal, and an idiot.

However, the story gets better when you dig a little deeper. On the one hand, we have one Swedish official claiming quite clearly that this guy had intended to highjack the plane and crash in into an American embassy in Europe, and another directly contradicting that claim.

[...] A military intelligence source told Reuters: "We know for sure that the plan was to crash the plane into a US embassy in Europe."

[...] Swedish military sources said they were looking for four confederates, including an explosives expert.

[...] "I have never heard that the man has planned to do what you say he has," Margareta Linderoth, director of Sweden's Sapo security police, said. "We are not looking for four other men."

The courts finally filed preliminary charges of planning to hijack a plane and illegal possession of a weapon.

"The suspicions have been strengthened during the course of the investigation," police spokesman Ulf Palm said, without elaborating.

So, maybe it's nothing. Maybe the unnamed "military intelligence source" was just talking out his ass, and the whole thing got blown out of proportion. This is a politically sensitive time in Sweden, what with an election coming up and all, and this may explain the unusual gag order and lack of information being shared with the press.

But it just keeps getting better. Chatty is a hoodlum who served time in prison on a gun charge, and who beat a US Marine during a scuffle at an American embassy. He's a skilled kick-boxer and he took flying lessons in 1997, flunked out, and then presumably picked up his wings elsewhere. He's traveled all over the Middle East recently, and of course, there's no suggestion he actually has a regular job.

He does have interesting taste in friends, though:

"The Swedish Muslim accused of attempting to hijack a flight from Stockholm to Stansted has close links to a man named by the FBI as a supporter of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, it was claimed yesterday.

[...] yesterday Oussama Kassir, who, according to an FBI indictment against another man, has identified himself as a hit man for Bin Ladin, said that he had met Mr Chatty in a Stockhom prison and become his mentor.

Mr Kassir, 36, who according to the FBI was involved in a 1999 plot to set up a terrorist training camp inside the United States, said that he and Mr Chatty, 29, were close friends. He said he became Mr Chatty's mentor after the younger man's conversion to Islam.

My call? This guy is a fucking rattlesnake and it's a miracle they stopped him in time. Call him "Shoe Bomber II" - another idiot criminal recruited to drop a plane full of people who can't find his own ass with both hands. In another month or so we might even get the real story out of somebody, but in the meantime, I'm just glad he never got on that flight to London.

We can expect more of this, and we are not going to stop all of them.

One good argument for the likely invasion of Iraq that I have seldom seen discussed is the value of having many thousands of American and British troops stationed in the geographical center of the Middle East. We would like to influence - without necessarily invading - any number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria. Conveniently, Iraq borders on each of them.

Years ago, a war in the Middle East was everyone's nightmare, because we expected the Soviet Union to jump in against us as a means of protecting their oil supply. Times change, and the Soviets are not only much more toothless and friendly, but they are now net exporters of oil to boot. The Chinese hate radical Islam as much as we do and the various Arab countries are almost completely unable to protect themselves. Finally, the status quo already sucks, and can hardly get any worse from either a human rights or a US security perspective. The major opposition we face is a loud, concerted whine from the European continent, but we have already pretty much tuned it out by now anyway.

After we drop Iraq, our threat to destroy any country that supports the terrorists will carry real weight, especially if our guys are sitting right there on the border, ready to go. Credible threats mean we win with less fighting, and that's good for everybody. Even without the threat of WMDs, invading Iraq is a good way to take the war to them. We sure as shit are not going to win it by playing defense.

Finally, I'd like to ask your thoughts on how best to remember September 11th, not just for this coming anniversary but for the years ahead. One writer suggested that "this was our Memorial Day" but that didn't sit right with me, because Memorial Day is already meaningful to me, thank you very much. September 11 is something different.

I thought it might be a good day to go out to the range and make sure I can still hit what I'm looking at, maybe the right day to take a beginner shooting for the first time and show them the ropes. It would be a good day to open up my First Aid kit and make sure everything inside is freshly stocked up and ready to go, to check my fire extinguishers, to drop by my neighbor's place and just to make sure they remember my face and know that I'm friendly and there to help.

I dunno what to call it, but you get my drift. It's a time to make ready, a time to remind ourselves that the world is not always civil and safe.

What I am not going to do is watch television. I still can't watch that stuff. I saw most of it once, live on CNN, and that was quite enough. Maybe in a few years I'll be ready to watch it again, but not now.


Oh, And They Hate Dogs, Too


CNN News is reporting that officials in Iraq are pushing to have both dogs and their owners jailed in the interests of public morality.

Extremist Muslims consider dogs, like pigs, to be unclean.

Another Busy Weekend

The bad guys just blew up a mall in Finland (with a nail-studded suicide bomb) and simultaneously destroyed two separate tourist resorts in Bali, killing at least 60 people, many of them Australians.

The French I can understand, but Finns, Austrailians, and the Balinese? You'd almost think these jihadists were nothing more than simple savages, lashing out at anyone without strategy or even a coherent set of demands...

I guess it's time for yet another group of oppressive Westerners to look deeply into their own souls, to see why they are so hated in the little brown corners of the world.

I'll be waiting right here, just sharpening my knives and minding my own business.

Update: The Bali death toll now exceeds 180, most of them Austrailians.

This Is What Appeasement Gets You

The bad guys have been busy this weekend.

First, they blew up a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen, and then they stabbed the mayor of Paris for good measure.

Of course, they had goods reason to stab the mayor; he's gay, and they disapprove of that.

Seems obvious to me. If the French would just stop flaunting their culture so much, maybe they wouldn't be so hated so in the Arab world...

Another Excellent Read

This was written in 1999:

At the height of the British Empire, the average imperial subject had no idea how his rulers lived. Today, the poor of the world's slums have awakened to the lifestyles of the rich and famous, courtesy of television, film, video, radio, cassettes, the self-justifications of kinsmen who have gone abroad and failed, and appalling local journalism. They do not, of course, grasp our reality. But they believe they do. The America they see is so rich and powerful it must be predatory. It must have robbed them to grow so rich. It has no right to be so rich. And it is unjust that they should not be so rich... It is as if our riches had fallen from the skies. It is an unbearable spectacle to those who have not.

[...] When nations and their underlying cultures fail to qualify in today's hyper-competitive world, they first complain. Then, if there is no turnaround, they kill. Iraq did not invade Kuwait in a burst of self-confidence, but from fear of economic decline and future inabilities. Tomorrow's enemies will be of two kinds--those who have seen their hopes disappointed, and those who have no hope.

It is difficult for Americans, with our lack of historical knowledge and our confused notion of the validity of all cultures, to grasp the richness of hatred in this world.... We lead sheltered lives. And we imagine that the rest of the world is just like us, only less privileged.

[...] We cannot understand how Serbs and Kosovar Albanians, Croats and Bosnian Muslims could do that to each other. We cannot understand how Hutus and Tutsis could do that to each other. We do not understand how the Chinese could do that to the Tibetans. We do not understand how the Armenians and Azeris could do that to each other. We do not understand how the tribes of Sierra Leone or Liberia could do that to each other. We do not understand how India's Hindus and Muslims could do that to each other. We do not understand how the Russians and Chechens could do that to each other. We do not understand how Haitians, Somalis, Colombians, Mexicans, Indonesians, Sri Lankans, Congolese, Burundians, or Irish could do that to each other . . . .

[...] we find peace desirable. There is nothing wrong with this. The problem arises when we assume that all other men, no matter how discontented, jealous, disenfranchised, and insulted, want peace as well... Many human beings have no stake in peace. They draw no advantage from the status quo.

Dude called it.

(Via OR)

Be On The Lookout

Description of possible Maryland shooter:

"Robert Baker, W/M, cocaine user/diabetic, armed with a rifle and scope. Known to be driving a blue GMC pickup with a silver stripe, Maryland registration 63K025."

Update: Uncomfirmed report suggests this guy is NOT involved. Details will follow as they become available...

Update: Got him. He probably wasn't involved, unfortunatly.

Hell In A Handbasket

This is odd.

Five people were randomly murdered today in Maryland; a white man, an hispanic man, a black man, an hispanic woman, and then a white woman, each killed with a single shot, over the course of 16 hours.

This is really unusual. Mass killers typically target people associated with one another (either by race, occupation, or location) and frequently continue their rampage until they are confronted. Serial killers may select seemingly random targets and then slip away, but not five of them over the course of a single day... it's also unusual that five people were killed with five shots, with no apparent misses and nobody wounded. I'd assume a rifle was used, but the police have not released the specifics yet.

Doesn't sound like terrorism in my book, either.

This just seems that somehow, a really dangerous person has simply lost it out there.

Update: More details here and here (Via IP).

A truck like this may be involved:

With lettering on the side and a damaged rear lift gate.

33 Pounds Of Weapons Grade Uranium. 155 Miles From Iraqi.

From Reuters:

Turkish paramilitary police have seized more than 33 pounds of weapons-grade uranium and detained two men accused of smuggling the material, the state-run Anatolian news agency said on Saturday.

I wouldn't put this under any chair I was going to sit on.

[...] Authorities believe the uranium came from an east European country and has a value of about $5 million, Anatolian said.

Go ahead. Try to imagine where this stuff was going, and why.


Click for larger image

Update: The story has changed again. Now it's only four ounces, instead of thirty-three pounds, and it's not even weapons-grade anymore.

Maybe the whole thing, including the lead container, weighed thirty-three pounds. Maybe they just wanted to make the story less dramatic, so their Arab neighbors wouldn't think they were drumming up support for a war with Iraq. Maybe it's just that their press is as crappy as ours.

Or maybe the Turks decided they could use thirty-two and three quarters pounds of the stuff themselves. We'll never know.

Be On The Lookout

Three men driving a stolen, white 2003 subaru with temporary plates just murdered five people at a small bank in Norfolk, Nebraska. The men were described only as "Hispanics wearing dark clothing and baggy pants".

Update: Got 'em.

It Ain't Over Yet

100 grams (3.5 ounces) of semtex plastic explosive was found today in a French airliner that had just returned from Marrakesh. The explosive was wrapped in aluminum foil and hidden in an armrest.

This is what 200 grams of semtex will do to a 747:


(Via FR)

USSC Knocks It Out Of The Park

Go read this and tell me you haven't got an excellent grasp of what's going on in the world.

Silly Putty By The Pound

What it's really like to work in the exciting, hi-tech world of software development.

This Is It!

This is how the WTC should be rebuilt.

If you agree, you can vote here.

Our Friends The Saudis - Three Easy Steps

Step 1: Visit their official page at

Step 2: Click on "Profile Of Saudi Arabia".

Step 3: Try to find Israel on their map of the Middle East.

At least they said they were sorry about the terror attacks.

I Didn't Believe This When I First Heard It

...but then Slate picked up the story, and they are a fairly reputable outfit. So maybe it's true.

This guy is probably nuts; probably the sort of person who would make you uncomfortable if you had to share an office with him on an ordinary day. Probably the sort of guy I'd end up firing, if he worked for me. "You did what...?

Take this same guy and present him with an extraordinary situation, something that leaves the rest of us slack-jawed and stupid, and he becomes something splendid.

You read this article and you can criticize his actions six ways from Sunday, but be honest; if you were a soldier, isn't he the guy you'd want running your unit when everything has gone right to shit? Aren't those same qualities that make him so weird in day to day life also just perfect for dealing with uncivilized reality, face to face?

I'm honestly not sure what to make of him, but hey, credit where credit is due...


Only Five More To Go

Like many of us, I have spent an inordinate amount of time looking at our vulnerabilities as a nation and trying to second-guess how the bad guys might hurt us. I have a short list of things that I think are most possible, and most troubling. I've kept this speculation off my web page because I didn't want to give the wrong person any ideas.

Well, this one was number three on the list:

Israel: Hamas plotted poisoning of diners at major cafe

[...] The Palestinians, residents of Jerusalem in their early twenties and who worked in such Israeli institutions as the Hebrew University, were said to have contacted Hamas and offered to carry out a suicide bombing at the cafe.

They told the Islamic movement in messages over the Internet that one of the three was a short-order cook in the restaurant. Officials said Hamas ordered the Palestinians to abandon a suicide attack and instead poison diners at the cafe.

Hamas directed the Jerusalem cell on how to obtain and prepare tasteless and odorless poisons. They said the attackers planned to insert didoxin [digoxin?], a medicine which in large amounts can lead to heart failure.

The idea was to use a substance that wouldn't take effect for several hours, so that they could continue to serve the poisoned food all day long.

Fucking savages. I will not shed a tear for them when they are wiped off the face of the earth.

(Via Drudge)

Bye, You Socialist Fuck!

Andrew Cuomo Quits Race

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

This Guy Is On The List Of People Whom I Trust

...and it's a damn short list, too. I'm not even on it.

When Bruce Schneier talks about security, I shut up and listen. Here's an excellent article in The Atlantic that offers a fine introduction to one of the guys we all ought to be listening to.

None Shall Provoke Me With Impunity