The World According to Imal

Musings on Life, the Universe and Everything.

"Imal is a warrior poet, a modern day Nostradamus without all the annoying quatrains."
-Greg Packer

"Heed the need to read my screed."

Published Wheneverly. A Proud American and Citizen of the Free Republic.

"Come for the coffee, stay for the pie."

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Saturday, November 29, 2003

Mujahidin, Taliban or Al Qaeda? 

There actually is some overlap among Mujahidin and Taliban, as well as Usama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, but based on what I am seeing in the news these days, there seems to me to be some confusion on the part of some notable talking heads about their history and relationships. The most inflammatory (and inaccurate) charge is that Al Qaeda is the product of U.S. foreign policy and intervention in Afghanistan. I thought I would share my observations on the histories and interactions of these three groups, and how they refute this key allegation made by the more breathless and under-informed critics quoted by overly credulous reporters.

The Afghani Mujahidin arose mostly from the indigenous Afghani population to fight the Soviets after their invasion in the late '70s, and received U.S. support beginning under the Carter administration as part of its "passive resistance" to Soviet expansionism. While some Mujahidin allied with the Taliban during the '90s, most violently opposed its rise and resisted it throughout its tenure. Today, the remnants of the Mujahidin are usually referred to as "warlords" in the press, notable among them the loose confederation known as the Northern Alliance.

Usama bin Laden was one of thousands of foreign nationals who flocked to Afghanistan during the '80s to assist the Mujahidin in their fight against the Soviets, and used his considerable wealth and leadership skills to solicit and manage millions of dollars in foreign aid, including some from the United States. He also directed hundreds of military operations and gained a reputation as a talented and capable military strategist. Al Qaeda ("The Base") appears to have originally evolved from his Mujahidin and Wahhabist cadres.

Although he was a Saudi, many Afghanis still hail him as a hero for his role in defeating the Soviets and his largesse in helping the Afghani people with numerous public works projects (he has a degree in civil engineering) and Islamic charities. When trying to understand why so many Muslims revere Usama, it is important to remember that he was viewed by many as a sort of Islamic George Washington long before he began his murderous campaigns against the "western enemies of Allah".

The Taliban arose during the early '90s in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal as an Islamic military/political movement intended to transform Afghanistan into an Islamic state. A great many of its members came from Islamic religious schools (madrassas) in Pakistan, including numerous Afghani refugees as well as Pakistanis and other foreigners who nourished the movement in the interests of "fundamentalist" Islam. While I have seen nothing indicating that Usama was the impetus behind the Taliban movement ("Taliban" means "students"), his Wahhabist convictions were completely in line with their objectives, and he became an important and powerful ally. I have seen nothing to indicate U.S. support for the Taliban; if there has been, it would most likely have been related to drug war programs such as opium poppy eradication efforts.

With the Taliban as both an ally and a tremendous source of recruits, Al Qaeda blossomed into an international organization, expanding its reach throughout the Islamic world and gathering dozens of disparate radical groups into its fold. During this time, in the early '90s, Al Qaeda shifted from local insurgency to international "activism", in the form of strategic fundraising, charitable activities ("zakat", or charity, is one of the five pillars of Islam) and militant activities including the support of insurgencies and Islamic state-building in Chechnya, the Balkans, Kashmir, Palestine, southeast Asia, Africa and the Phillipines. Also during this time Al Qaeda undertook a campaign of terrorism aimed at western nations in an apparent attempt to discourage them from interfering with these "Islamic jihads" and the spread of fundamentalist Islam, with successive attacks tending to increase in ferocity, sophistication and lethality.

It is specious to assert that the Mujahidin, Taliban or Al Qaeda were products of U.S. interventionism. While U.S. activities did contribute to their advent, they came into being and would have come into being on their own, regardless of American foreign policies.

What is not in dispute is that the United States will play a key role in deciding the futures of these groups.

posted by Imal  # 6:07 PM

Sunday, November 23, 2003

American Soldiers Dragged Through The Streets 

Three U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq (Yahoo/AP)

Journalists are comparing this incident to Somalia, but for some reason I am reminded of Los Angeles in 1992, and Israel on any given day.

I don't like finding out about more U.S. deaths in Iraq every time I check the news, but that's the reality of our times. Whenever I learn about one of my countrymen dying, whether in battle, due to accident or from ambush, it feels like I've been smacked in the face with a two by four. Needless to say, my virtual face looks pretty damn ugly right now.

But I don't want to be cut off from the truth, and the truth is that this is a painful, costly and vital mission that must not fail. I'll be damned if I ever lose sight of that, or forget how crucial the work of our troops is in defending my homeland.

I have a problem with the way things are being handled in Iraq, but it is not the same problem leftists and other enemies of freedom have. My problem is the realization that we should not be trying to win a popularity contest in Iraq, which apparently is our goal based on our actions there.

U.S. troops being forbidden to fly our nation's flag? I will never agree with such utter nonsense. It's a disgrace, an insult to those sworn to defend our flag and the nation it represents, and a crime against those soldiers who are denied their sacred right to die under the colors of their country.

We are in Iraq to impose a new government by force, not by acclamation. After all, Saddam Hussein won 100% of the vote in the last election, a fine example of "democracy in action", and we are there overturning the "will of the people" by such euphemistic standards.

As in past wars, including those in Europe, the west Pacific and more recently in Afghanistan, we are in Iraq to neutralize a dangerous enemy and convert that enemy into an ally. We have done it before, and we'll do it again as many times as we must. We have no other choice except our own destruction.

In the Middle East, nice guys do indeed finish last, and become the targets of opportunity for every bad guy or would-be bad guy in the region, a description which includes a huge number of people.

From a strategic standpoint, I believe our forces are making a crucial mistake in Iraq: we are trying to be liked. This is the wrong approach. As things stand, the Iraqi people fear Saddam's loyalists and Al Qaeda more than they fear American troops. This leads to disrespect, which leads to contempt, which leads to mobs dragging the bodies of U.S. troops through the streets.

Every incident where U.S. troops are killed demands ruthless reprisals, informed and directed by top-notch intelligence. The U.S. Constitution applies within the borders of the United States, not to foreign war zones. Swift military tribunals and public executions must reign supreme until Iraq establishes its sovereignty and is able to stand on its own. This can all be accomplished with brutal efficiency and without violating the Geneva or Hague conventions, and the alternative is not only more U.S. casualties in Iraq, but possible mission failure.

If U.S. leaders and military commanders fail in Iraq because they were too nice or politically correct, I will never forgive them, and teach my children and their children to curse their names. Do not abandon the needs of our nation for your own vanity and ambitions, lest you earn and incur the undying wrath of your countrymen.

Iraq, and the world, must come to fear the U.S. military, not love it. While we may be Iraq's liberators, we must make sure that once our troops are gone, Iraq will never want to see them return for any reason. We must ensure that the prospect of American troops returning to Iraq is far less desirable than a return to Baathist totalitarianism. And that means we must be even meaner and nastier than the Baathists.

No one, anywhere, should come to favor the presence of American troops over solving their own problems, lest we be drawn into endless conflict leading to our ultimate ruin.

My advice is a bitter prescription, especially for a people we wish to have as allies, but history shows that our best allies are those whom we have defeated soundly and indisputably in battle. That truth may be unpalatable to some who are ignorant of history and prefer fantasy to fact, but it is nonetheless the truth, against which all contrary opinion is irrelevant.

Even our closest allies, in the end, should fear our wrath. Otherwise, they will themselves eventually become enemies, and possibly our masters.

It is long past time that we demonstrate beyond contention that contempt for the United States of America is not only unprofitable, but fatal. This means doing things we'd rather not do, including lining thugs, rapists and murderers up against walls and killing them. Once such beasts are either cowed or exterminated, then, and only then, our mission becomes feasible and our nation more secure.

Having established ourselves as a strong and resolute force for justice that cannot to be opposed by any means, we can move on and rid the world of the kind of savage scum that murder women and children simply for being women and children.

President Bush, speaking as an American and a veteran of the United States Navy, I urge you, no, I beg you to change our military policy. Please, for the sake of our warriors, their families and all Americans, please teach all enemies of the United States to fear our troops!

posted by Imal  # 4:16 PM

Monday, November 17, 2003

Hateful Partisan Rhetoric 

Vicious partisanship in politics is nothing new. One of my favorite political cartoons of all time is one whose exact source I cannot recall, having seen it several years ago. It appeared in a prominent newspaper during the administration of Thomas Jefferson. Drawing from memory, it was as follows:

President Jefferson pulls on a rope tied to a statue labeled "The Republic". The Devil has hold of Jefferson's waist, helping him pull. Next to Jefferson's feet is a half-empty bottle labeled "Brandy".

The Devil: "Heave away, Heave away my son! I'll help you pull!"

Jefferson: "With the help of my Old Friend and a little more Brandy, I'll bring it down!"

Yes, the rhetoric spewing forth from the self-styled Opposition Party (because they have no credible ideas of their own to promote) is vile, hateful and frequently obscene. However, it is neither a new nor original development, and it most certainly is never going to go away.

On the other hand, some other things never seem to change, either. From the Biography of Thomas Jefferson on Whitehouse.Gov:

When Jefferson assumed the Presidency, the crisis in France had passed. He slashed Army and Navy expenditures, cut the budget, eliminated the tax on whiskey so unpopular in the West, yet reduced the national debt by a third. He also sent a naval squadron to fight the Barbary pirates, who were harassing American commerce in the Mediterranean.

Sound at all familiar?

posted by Imal  # 2:53 PM

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Former Chief Justice Roy Moore 

Mr. Moore is right about the unconstitutionality of the federal ruling in this case, but he is the wrong man for the job.

Instead of using the correct legal methods for getting this issue to the Supreme Court, where ideally a clear-cut case could be presented in defense of state powers, and instead getting the injunction that was offered to him three times by the federal judge in this case to keep the commandments in place until an appeal was heard, former Chief Justice Moore chose instead to pursue a campaign of self-serving grandstanding and set up a carnival atmosphere that completely obscured the underlying legal issues and utterly ruined the case.

It will take years to frame the matter properly enough for a Supreme Court challenge, during which time organizations like the ACLU will continue to promote unconstitutional attacks on all forms of religion, but with special malice and fervor to be directed against Christianity.

I cannot believe that any Christian who knows one whit about the issues in this case can praise Moore for what he has done. There was actually a good chance that this case would have been decided in the favor of the Alabama constitution and religious freedom in the several states. Mr. Moore foolishly and selfishly cast that chance aside in favor of certain defeat. What is so praiseworthy about abandoning the cause of religious freedom in favor of personal chest-beating?

Mr. Moore has failed the cause of preserving state powers in the face of federal intrusion, resulting in a constitutional setback for all Americans at a time when we truly did not need another one. For that reason alone, I am glad to see him unseated, and support his disbarment not only for his misconduct, but for dealing a critical blow against "states' rights" at a crucial time in American history.

What's more, he is turning out to be nothing more than just another self-deluded drama queen.

Roy Moore is the Ross Perot of the fight for true, constitutional state sovereignty and religious freedom in the United States. That is nothing to be proud of.

posted by Imal  # 8:51 PM

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Dem Intel Committee Memo Reveals Anti-Bush Plot

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2003 4:38 p.m. EST

A memo circulated among Democrats on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence shows the committee's minority plotting to use classified information against the White House in next year's presidential campaign.

The document, obtained and disclosed by nationally syndicated radio host Sean Hannity Tuesday afternoon, suggests that the top priority among senior Democrats entrusted with guarding the nation's security is instead driving the Bush administration from power based on claims it exaggerated intelligence on the threat posed by Iraq.

The memo as reported by Hannity reads as follows:

"We have carefully reviewed our options under the rules and believe we have identified the best approach. Our plan is as follows:

"1) Pull the majority along as far as we can on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials. We are having some success in that regard.

"For example, in addition to the President's State of the Union speech, the chairman [Sen. Pat Roberts] has agreed to look at the activities of the office of the Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, as well as Secretary Bolton's office at the State Department.

"The fact that the chairman supports our investigations into these offices and cosigns our requests for information is helpful and potentially crucial. We don't know what we will find but our prospects for getting the access we seek is far greater when we have the backing of the majority. [We can verbally mention some of the intriguing leads we are pursuing.]

"2) Assiduously prepare Democratic 'additional views' to attach to any interim or final reports the committee may release. Committee rules provide this opportunity and we intend to take full advantage of it.

"In that regard we may have already compiled all the public statements on Iraq made by senior administration officials. We will identify the most exaggerated claims. We will contrast them with the intelligence estimates that have since been declassified. Our additional views will also, among other things, castigate the majority for seeking to limit the scope of the inquiry.

"The Democrats will then be in a strong position to reopen the question of establishing an Independent Commission [i.e., the Corzine Amendment.]

"3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority. We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation of the administration's use of intelligence at any time. But we can only do so once.

"The best time to do so will probably be next year, either:

"A) After we have already released our additional views on an interim report, thereby providing as many as three opportunities to make our case to the public. Additional views on the interim report (1). The announcement of our independent investigation (2). And (3) additional views on the final investigation. Or:

"B) Once we identify solid leads the majority does not want to pursue, we would attract more coverage and have greater credibility in that context than one in which we simply launch an independent investigation based on principled but vague notions regarding the use of intelligence.

"In the meantime, even without a specifically authorized independent investigation, we continue to act independently when we encounter footdragging on the part of the majority. For example, the FBI Niger investigation was done solely at the request of the vice chairman. We have independently submitted written requests to the DOD and we are preparing further independent requests for information.

"SUMMARY: Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public's concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq. Yet we have an important role to play in revealing the misleading, if not flagrantly dishonest, methods and motives of senior administration officials who made the case for unilateral preemptive war.

"The approach outlined above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration's dubious motives." [End of Memo Excerpt.]

The revelation that Democrats are using the intelligence committee to conduct opposition research for the coming presidential campaign demands an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee, Hannity said.

posted by Imal  # 3:07 PM

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