Easter Weekend open post
When do you believe one General and disbelieve another? Captain's Quarters links to a subscription-only article at the Washington Times. "General John Vines, the commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps, told a policy conference that al-Qaeda terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has conceded defeat in Iraq and has begun pulling out, thwarted in his attempt to bring down the elected Iraqi government by his own heavy-handed tactics."
Al Qaeda in Iraq and its presumed leader, Abu Musab Zarqawi, have conceded strategic defeat and are on their way out of the country, a top U.S. military official contended yesterday. The group's failure to disrupt national elections and a constitutional referendum last year "was a tactical admission by Zarqawi that their strategy had failed," said Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who commands the XVIII Airborne Corps. "They no longer view Iraq as fertile ground to establish a caliphate and as a place to conduct international terrorism," he said in an address at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. ...
There's a roundup here with links, from all over the blogosphere on the subject of Rumsfeld's resignation representing every point of view.
The New Republic looks back on the formative years of the Iranian President for clues about what he is like, what he believes in. Pajamas Media has a roundup of Ahmadinejad's latest vow to annihilate Israel. Is he serious?
During the Iran-Iraq War, the Ayatollah Khomeini imported 500,000 small plastic keys from Taiwan. ... After Iraq invaded in September 1980, it had quickly become clear that Iran's forces were no match for Saddam Hussein's professional, well-armed military. To compensate ... Khomeini sent Iranian children ... to the front lines. There, they marched in formation across minefields toward the enemy, clearing a path with their bodies. Before every mission, one of the Taiwanese keys would be hung around each child's neck. It was supposed to open the gates to paradise for them.
At one point, however, the earthly gore became a matter of concern. ... Such scenes would henceforth be avoided ... Before entering the minefields, the children [now] wrap themselves in blankets and they roll on the ground, so that their body parts stay together after the explosion of the mines and one can carry them to the graves."
These children who rolled to their deaths were part of the Basiji, a mass movement created by Khomeini in 1979 ... And yet, today, it is a source not of national shame, but of growing pride. Since the end of hostilities against Iraq in 1988, the Basiji have grown both in numbers and influence. They have been deployed, above all, as a vice squad to enforce religious law in Iran, and their elite "special units" have been used as shock troops against anti-government forces. In both 1999 and 2003, for instance, the Basiji were used to suppress student unrest. And, last year, they formed the potent core of the political base that propelled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad-- a man who reportedly served as a Basij instructor during the Iran-Iraq War--to the presidency. ... He regularly appears in public wearing a black-and-white Basij scarf, and, in his speeches, he routinely praises "Basij culture" and "Basij power" ... A younger generation of Iranians, whose worldviews were forged in the atrocities of the Iran-Iraq War, have come to power, wielding a more fervently ideological approach to politics than their predecessors. The children of the Revolution are now its leaders.
There's a bizarre story about an Ohio State University librarian who is being sued for harassment by faculty members because he recommended books by David Horowitz, Bat Ye’or, Rick Santorum and David Kupelian. Three faculty members complained the list made them feel "unsafe". Legal blogger Eugene Volokh thinks the complaint is technically a "sexual orientation harassment" case and says:
It's quite sad, I think, that these university professors are responding to offensive ideas not just by arguing against them, but by trying to coercively suppress them (apparently, according to the ADF's letter, with considerable support from their colleagues). I expect that the university will promptly dismiss the complaint, since even under the university's own policy such speech is not prohibited -- among other reasons, the speech wasn't "based on a person's protected status," since the statements weren't about the complainants, and weren't targeted towards the complainants because of their sexual orientation. But it reflects badly on the complainants that the complaint is even being filed.
Volokh notes that the librarian will be lucky if the complaint isn't upgraded to a human-rights violation case. That would be interesting.
Oh, and one related item, from a message during this debate written by another professor, Hannibal Hamlin (no, not the Hannibal Hamlin): "On the matter of homophobia, I think you should be rather careful, Scott. OSU's policy on discrimination is not simply a matter of academic orthodoxy, but a matter of human rights." Yes, reference librarians, professors, students, everyone: On matters of certain viewpoints that are prohibited by university policies, we think you should be rather careful.
Tigerhawk thinks "It will be very interesting to see whether the American Library Association, which purports to care a lot about 'intellectual freedom' will have anything to say about this outrage."
What do you think?
Here's another reminder that the Second World War generation is passing. It's an interesting comparative to the Basiji story. An obituary from the Daily Telegraph recalls one of the real X-Men:
Lieutenant-Commander Dicky Kendall, who has died aged 82, placed a two-ton mine under the German battleship Tirpitz in the Kaa Fjord of northern Norway. ... On the evening of September 20 1942, after being towed 1,200 miles from Scotland in an attack submarine, Kendall boarded the miniature sub X-6. ... At 0200 hours, the nets opened for a coaster, and [the minisub] followed through in the boat's wake. ...
Suddenly X-6 struck a shoal, and was forced to the surface by Tirpitz's port bow; all Kendall could see was the ship's grey paint. As X-6 scraped down the battleship's side, Kendall released the starboard mine under Tirpitz's B turret. After opening the buoyancy tanks to scuttle their craft, [minisub captain] Cameron, Kendall and the two other crew members clambered on to the casing to be hauled aboard a German picket boat, where all four saluted as X-6 sank.
Kendall was locked in a small compartment on board Tirpitz, but refused to speak to his captors, despite threats of summary execution. Then, at 0812, there were two violent explosions, and she heaved upwards several feet, throwing him and his guard to the deck. As the ship listed heavily, Kendall knew that the attack had inflicted serious damage. Cameron was awarded the VC; Lt John Lorimer and Kendall received the DSO; and Engine Room Artificer Edmund Goddard the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.
Kendall sat in the hull of the Tirpitz over his own mine and waited for it to go off. When the last of the Second World War generation are buried, this can truly be said:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Ahmadinejad take note: not everything has been forgotten.