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Candide’s Latest: Monday, September 18, 2006
The Crusades, Cont'd.

“We’re fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” That’s been one of the many justification of the war in Iraq. But it’s morally untenable. What gives the United States the right to make battle grounds of other countries to spare its own? How different is that formula than the more direct use of civilians as human shields? And where’s the strategic logic of seeing a terrorist behind every insurgent? “It’s like in the Vietnam era, when they said we'd be fighting communists in San Diego if we pulled out,” says John Mueller, a professor of national-security studies at Ohio State University in Columbus. “It's a preposterous argument.” A piece in the CSM deconstructs Bush’s argument, repeated last week, that “The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad .”

If the United States has Guantanamo-style kangaroo courts, can Israel play? Why, of course: Israel captured three alleged members of Hezbollah during its recent war on Lebanon . On Monday, it indicted the three on criminal charges including murder, attempted murder, and membership in a terrorist organization, which is a clever way to get around the rules of war regarding war prisoners. Just don’t call them war prisoners. Slap the terrorist label on them and be done with it (“enemy combatant” is already used up). What if Hezbollah did the same with its captured Israelis? There’s no difference, except that Hezbollah would have a somewhat stronger case, if it’s terrorism against civilian populations that controls the judicial calculus. Not just the terror unleashed during the war’s all-out days, but the terror that blooms still: “The war in Lebanon has not ended. Every day, some of the million bomblets which were fired by Israeli artillery during the last three days of the conflict kill four people in southern Lebanon and wound many more,” the Independent’s Patrick Cockburn reports. “The casualty figures will rise sharply in the next month as villagers begin the harvest, picking olives from trees whose leaves and branches hide bombs that explode at the smallest movement. Lebanon's farmers are caught in a deadly dilemma: to risk the harvest, or to leave the produce on which they depend to rot in the fields.” China, meanwhile, sees and seizes an opportunity.

And at the original Guantanamo: “In a letter to The Times today, 120 signatories from the medical profession call for an independent investigation to determine the medical needs of the detainees, and criticises the “shameful” refusal of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to respond to a request by the British Medical Association to send a team of doctors to Cuba.”

Not even journalists are safe from America’s kangaroo detentions: “The U.S. military in Iraq has imprisoned an Associated Press photographer for five months, accusing him of being a security threat but never filing charges or permitting a public hearing,” the AP reports. “Military officials said Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi citizen, was being held for "imperative reasons of security" under United Nations resolutions. AP executives said the news cooperative's review of Hussein's work did not find anything to indicate inappropriate contact with insurgents, and any evidence against him should be brought to the Iraqi criminal justice system. Hussein, 35, is a native of Fallujah who began work for the AP in September 2004. He photographed events in Fallujah and Ramadi until he was detained on April 12 of this year.” And how can you report a war accurately when 98 percent of your territory is off limits? “Journalists are in danger everywhere in Iraq these days, making it nearly impossible to report, and it only seems to be getting worse, said New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins, speaking Thursday at the offices of the Committee to Protect Journalists in Manhattan. Filkins, who will begin a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University this month and start work on a book, said that 98% of Iraq, and even most of Baghdad, has now become "off-limits" for Western journalists.”

Remember Suez, says Geoffrey Wheatcroft in Sunday’s Globe : “In November 1956, British and French troops tried to regain control of the Suez Canal, which had been seized by the Egyptian leader, Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser. There are all too many painful similarities between the Suez operation and Iraq, although there is also one crucial difference: Far from leading the attack (or orchestrating the deception), the White House was enraged, with President Eisenhower asking Eden, ``Anthony, have you gone out of your mind?" But then those were the far-off days when even a conservative secretary of state could see his task as gaining ``the friendship and understanding of the newly independent countries who have escaped from colonialism." Since then, there has been a startling role reversal. In 1956, not only did London and Paris act in secret collusion with Tel Aviv, the United States was almost hostile to Israel-and toward ill-considered Western adventures in the Middle East. Today, Blair might ponder whether he should have acted as President Bush's candid friend, in the way that Eisenhower did with Eden, counseling the president against a rash enterprise rather than grandiosely supporting him ``to the last."”

That’s all we goddamn needed; thanks, Pope Benedict: “An Iraqi militant group led by al-Qaeda vowed a war against the "worshippers of the cross" in response to a recent speech by Pope Benedict on Islam that sparked anger across the Muslim world,” the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian reports. “We tell the worshipper of the cross [the pope] that you and the West will be defeated, as is the case in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya," said a statement posted to a website by the Mujahideen Shura Council, an umbrella group led by Iraq's branch of al-Qaeda. "We shall break the cross and spill the wine. ... God will [help] Muslims to conquer Rome ... God enable us to slit their throats, and make their money and descendants the bounty of the mujahideen," said the statement. It was posted on Sunday on an website often used by al-Qaeda and other militant groups. ” The Pope, meanwhile, was sorry he used a nasty quote from a Medieval text defiling Muslims. He wasn’t sorry about the speech. Just the quote. This from an individual considered the intellectual powerhouse of the Vatican . Jesus (forgive our Latin) foutre Christ. The madness unfrocked: “An Italian nun was killed by gunmen at a children’s hospital in Somalia yesterday in an apparent revenge attack for the Pope’s speech about Islam last week,” the UK Times reports

Karen Armstrong on the Pope’s remarks: “Pope Benedict delivered his controversial speech in Germany the day after the fifth anniversary of September 11. It is difficult to believe that his reference to an inherently violent strain in Islam was entirely accidental. He has, most unfortunately, withdrawn from the interfaith initiatives inaugurated by his predecessor, John Paul II, at a time when they are more desperately needed than ever. Coming on the heels of the Danish cartoon crisis, his remarks were extremely dangerous. They will convince more Muslims that the west is incurably Islamophobic and engaged in a new crusade.”

And this from the Borowitz Report: Fox News Offers Pope His Own Show: "In what many in religious and broadcasting circles are calling an unprecedented development, the Fox News Channel today announced that it had offered Pope Benedict XVI his own show as part of their weekly primetime lineup. The program, which will be broadcast live from a specially built television studio in Vatican City, will be called "The Pope Benedict XVI Factor" and will feature the outspoken pontiff shooting from the hip on a variety of topics." Read the rest at The Borowitz Report...

A nuclear Korea, anyone? But no one wants to play : “It is a year to the day since delegates to the fourth round of the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear ambitions hammered out their first joint declaration in Beijing,” says the Korea Herald. “It was by far the most notable accomplishment by the members - the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia - in their efforts to denuclearize North Korea diplomatically and peacefully. But nothing has happened since then.” The president didn’t once mention North Korea in his last press conference (actually, that’s not exactly true: a reporter asked him what would happen if a CIA agent was captured by North Korea and tortured, given Bush’s supreme desire to get rid of anti-torture provisions, and Bush answered by ridiculing the North Korea “hypothetical.”) He didn’t mention Korea once in his Sept. 11 address. And when he did receive the South Korean president at the White House last week, he was mostly busy making jokes about his “blue tie.” When he finally got down to business, here’s where how he addressed the question of having done nothing at all a year later: “As for the question about the common and broad approach being talked about between our two countries for the re-start of the six-party talks, I must tell you that we are at the working level of consulting very closely on this issue, but we have not yet reached a conclusion and this issue is very complex, so I would be hesitant and it would be difficult for me to answer the question at the moment.” The brief question-and-answer period lasted all of twenty minutes. That’s what we’re down to: four years ago, Korea’s nukes made it part of the “Axis of Evil.” (Remember that speech?) Today, North Korea rates lower than a bad joke.

But regarding Iran, it’s Iraq all over again: “In an echo of the intelligence wars that preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a high-stakes struggle is brewing within the Bush administration and in Congress over Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program and involvement in terrorism,” McClatchy reports. “U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials say Bush political appointees and hard-liners on Capitol Hill have tried recently to portray Iran's nuclear program as more advanced than it is and to exaggerate Tehran's role in Hezbollah's attack on Israel in mid-July. The struggle's outcome could have profound implications for U.S. policy. President Bush, who addresses the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, has said he prefers diplomacy to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but he hasn't ruled out using military force.”

Australia , one of the three charter members of the Axis of Anglos, wants to make it harder for immigrants to pass the Australian test of citizenship. The Government released a discussion paper yesterday proposing to strengthen laws to make immigrants wait longer to be eligible for citizenship,” the Sydney Morning herald reports. “Immigrants also would have to take a test to prove they understand Australian history, national symbols, culture and the democratic system, as well as English, before being granted citizenship. Some Muslim leaders have criticised the proposed changes, but Mr Howard today insisted the reforms had "nothing to do with the Muslim religion". It only has to do with the Anglo-Saxon one.

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