Thursday, February 27, 2003

No doubt you've seen such drivel about Afghanistan passed around as of late.

Well, a reporter in the field seems to have some different things to say:

But Latifa, a longtime Kabul resident, says that where others saw unacceptable risks, he saw the opportunity of a lifetime.

"There is so much money to be made in Afghanistan now," he said in English learned in a Pakistani refugee camp. "The country has been held back for 25 years, and now is the time to invest and do business. Afghans are very good at this -- we've been doing it since the time of the Silk Road."

Although countries around the world have promised more than $4 billion in aid to rebuild Afghanistan, there are today very few visible signs of the planned roads and schools and infrastructure projects. There are, however, signs throughout the capital, and in many provinces, of fast and dramatic change as Afghans and some intrepid foreigners open shops, businesses and even factories, quickly put up buildings to house them, and buy enough cars to create daily traffic jams.

In a city that had a handful of shopworn eating places two years ago, a new Chinese or Italian or American hamburger restaurant opens almost weekly, as well as kebab shops by the score. Small hotels have sprung up, and a $40 million Hyatt is on the way. The food bazaars are bustling and there are downtown blocks filled almost entirely with bridal shops. Rebuilt homes are rising from the ruins, and every little storefront seems to be stuffed with bathtubs or fans or with men building and carving things to be sold.


Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Max Boot (The Weekly Standard) offers some foreign policy optimism:

Yet some of our foreign policy mandarins are now warning darkly of crumbling transatlantic unity and a setback for the entire West. The cover of a recent Economist showed a torn-up landmass labeled "The West." Calm down, fellas. The only thing that's coming apart is France's power grab, and its failure provides a great opening for Britain to lead the rest of the continent in a different direction--more free-market, more decentralized, and more closely aligned with Washington.

But won't this mean the end of NATO, as many analysts warn? It depends on which NATO you're talking about. NATO the military alliance has been dead for years, if it was ever alive. The Kosovo conflict in 1999 showed it's virtually impossible to wage war effectively when any one of 19 nations (soon to be 26) has a veto on all targeting decisions. That's why, even after NATO invoked its Article V mutual-defense provision following September 11, the United States refused to turn Afghanistan into an alliance war. The boost to Europe's ego, the administration calculated, would not have been worth the price in lost military effectiveness.

But NATO the political alliance remains alive and well, despite France's efforts. This NATO will continue to perform two vital functions: integrating Eastern and Southern Europe into the West and integrating the United States into Europe. When a new military mission looms, Washington can pick and choose allies from among NATO members. Germany, for instance, won't support the United States over Iraq but, along with the Netherlands, it is now leading the peacekeeping force in Kabul. It would be nice to add an official NATO imprimatur to this mission (as general secretary George Robertson wants), but it's hardly essential.
Garofolo on Kilmeade:

-- Kilmeade: "You don't think those people deserve a shot at freedom?"
Garofalo: "Of course I do. And stop framing it that way. I absolutely believe-"
Kilmeade: "Then, what [inaudible] frame it? These people are going to be liberated, why don't they have a shot at being liberated? Why don't those people have a shot at liberation?"
Garofalo: "They do have a shot at being liberated. First of all, negotiating with Turkey sure isn't going to accomplish that. Turkey with one of the worst human rights records in the world by the way-"


I would love to hear her suggestions about how to accomplish democratic reforms in Iraq without foreign intervention. But, alas we never get the chance to hear, because she quickly changes focus to (what else?) evil American foreign affairs.

Celebrity pundits are a shame to their own cause. And remind me, what half-decent movie has she ever appeared in? (the They Might Be Giants documentary doesn't count.)
I'm serious when I say that this article makes one of the best cases for Iraqi liberation I've heard while at the same time critiquing the protesters. The end result is kind of depressing:

"Are these people ignorant, or are they blinded by hatred of the United States?" Nasser the poet demanded.

The Iraqis would had much to tell the "antiwar" marchers, had they had a chance to speak. Fadel Sultani, president of the National Association of Iraqi authors, would have told the marchers that their action would encourage Saddam to intensify his repression.

"I had a few questions for the marchers," Sultani said. "Did they not realize that oppression, torture and massacre of innocent civilians are also forms of war? Are the antiwar marchers only against a war that would liberate Iraq, or do they also oppose the war Saddam has been waging against our people for a generation?"

Sultani could have told the peaceniks how Saddam's henchmen killed dissident poets and writers by pushing page after page of forbidden books down their throats until they choked.

Hashem al-Iqabi, one of Iraq's leading writers and intellectuals, had hoped the marchers would mention the fact that Saddam had driven almost four million Iraqis out of their homes and razed more than 6,000 villages to the ground.

"The death and destruction caused by Saddam in our land is the worst since Nebuchadnezzar," he said. "These prosperous, peaceful, and fat Europeans are marching in support of evil incarnate." He said that, watching the march, he felt Nazism was "alive and well and flexing its muscles in Hyde Park."

Abdel-Majid Khoi, son of the late Grand Ayatollah Khoi, Iraq's foremost religious leader for almost 40 years, spoke of the "deep moral pain" he feels when hearing the so-called " antiwar" discourse.

"The Iraqi nation is like a man who is kept captive and tortured by a gang of thugs," Khoi said. "The proper moral position is to fly to help that man liberate himself and bring the torturers to book. But what we witness in the West is the opposite: support for the torturers and total contempt for the victim."

Khoi said he would say ahlan wasahlan (welcome) to anyone who would liberate Iraq.

"When you are being tortured to death you are not fussy about who will save you," he said.

Ismail Qaderi, a former Baathist official but now a dissident, wanted to tell the marchers how Saddam systematically destroyed even his own party, starting by murdering all but one of its 16 original leaders.

"Those who see Saddam as a symbol of socialism, progress, and secularism in the Arab world must be mad," he said.

Khalid Kishtaini, Iraq's most famous satirical writer, added his complaint.

"Don't these marchers know that the only march possible in Iraq under Saddam Hussein is from the prison to the firing-squad?" he asked. "The Western marchers behave as if the US wanted to invade Switzerland, not Iraq under Saddam Hussein."
I'm serious when I say that this article makes one of the best cases for Iraqi liberation I've heard while at the same time critiquing the protesters. The end result is kind of depressing:

"Are these people ignorant, or are they blinded by hatred of the United States?" Nasser the poet demanded.

The Iraqis would had much to tell the "antiwar" marchers, had they had a chance to speak. Fadel Sultani, president of the National Association of Iraqi authors, would have told the marchers that their action would encourage Saddam to intensify his repression.

"I had a few questions for the marchers," Sultani said. "Did they not realize that oppression, torture and massacre of innocent civilians are also forms of war? Are the antiwar marchers only against a war that would liberate Iraq, or do they also oppose the war Saddam has been waging against our people for a generation?"

Sultani could have told the peaceniks how Saddam's henchmen killed dissident poets and writers by pushing page after page of forbidden books down their throats until they choked.

Hashem al-Iqabi, one of Iraq's leading writers and intellectuals, had hoped the marchers would mention the fact that Saddam had driven almost four million Iraqis out of their homes and razed more than 6,000 villages to the ground.

"The death and destruction caused by Saddam in our land is the worst since Nebuchadnezzar," he said. "These prosperous, peaceful, and fat Europeans are marching in support of evil incarnate." He said that, watching the march, he felt Nazism was "alive and well and flexing its muscles in Hyde Park."

Abdel-Majid Khoi, son of the late Grand Ayatollah Khoi, Iraq's foremost religious leader for almost 40 years, spoke of the "deep moral pain" he feels when hearing the so-called " antiwar" discourse.

"The Iraqi nation is like a man who is kept captive and tortured by a gang of thugs," Khoi said. "The proper moral position is to fly to help that man liberate himself and bring the torturers to book. But what we witness in the West is the opposite: support for the torturers and total contempt for the victim."

Khoi said he would say ahlan wasahlan (welcome) to anyone who would liberate Iraq.

"When you are being tortured to death you are not fussy about who will save you," he said.

Ismail Qaderi, a former Baathist official but now a dissident, wanted to tell the marchers how Saddam systematically destroyed even his own party, starting by murdering all but one of its 16 original leaders.

"Those who see Saddam as a symbol of socialism, progress, and secularism in the Arab world must be mad," he said.

Khalid Kishtaini, Iraq's most famous satirical writer, added his complaint.

"Don't these marchers know that the only march possible in Iraq under Saddam Hussein is from the prison to the firing-squad?" he asked. "The Western marchers behave as if the US wanted to invade Switzerland, not Iraq under Saddam Hussein."

Monday, February 24, 2003

Been out for the weekend.

Recently have read this article on post-war Iraq, this fisking of a NYT op-ed by Regis DeBrey (scroll down), and other stuff not particularly worthy of linking.