Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Who votes to trade?

The Afghan Lord discusses the proposal that Italy and the Vatican deliver up Abdul Rahman, an Afghan to converted to Christianity, in exchange for the release of Gabriele Torsello, an Italian journalist who converted to Islam and was kidnapped in Afghanistan. The IHT reports that "Before demanding the withdrawal of Italy's 1,800 troops, the kidnappers reportedly requested the return of Abdul Rahman, an Afghan who had faced the death penalty for converting to Christianity and was granted asylum in Italy."

Let's do an informal survey of Belmont Club readers about whether Italy should consider a trade. Bonus question: who might think trading Rahman for Torsello is a good idea?


Blogger plymaniac said...

On what basis do Italy or the Vatican have jurisdiction to deliver Abdul Rahman to anyone?

10/24/2006 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

One possible response from the script of Casablanca. As Rick to Mr. Ferrari: "I don't buy and sell human beings". Can we still use that cultural rerference or would it be too "insensitive".

10/24/2006 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

The Afghan is "delivered" and the Italian lost, by Christian thought. The Italian is blood-barter and the Afghan dead man walking, by his Muslim captors' calculus.

One would hope Italy's response would be: the Afghan is home, and the Italian is free to return home when his fellow Muslims release him.

10/24/2006 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Isn't this the same sort of fuzzy thinking as the Frogs asking the US government to make Americans quit laughing at them?

The Vatican has no authority over a private citizen, even if he was born in Afghanistan, any more than the President of the United States has the authority to tell us who to laugh at. The people making the demand are simply demonstrating their own version of reality, and how extraordinarily limited that is.

10/24/2006 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

i suggest we tell the afghan lord to keep his convert.

We'll keep his apostate...

10/24/2006 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

This news is interesting because it is is an absurdity presented a serious negotiating point. The characteristic of today's political environment is that the crazier a proposition is, the more respectable it becomes. 'We are peaceful and if you deny it, we will kill you.' 'Let the Pope convert to Islam' 'We blew up the marketplace and its your fault'. 'We sentence you to death for drawing cartoons'

And the craziness is symmetrical. 'We Christian peacemakers are here to protect suicide bombers'. 'The BBC refuses to refuse to disclose documents showing its bias on the grounds that such a revalation would violate press freedom'. 'Let us defend Iraq from Okinawa'. 'The people in the WTC were little Eichmanns. The Jews too. Especialy the Jews'. 'Paris is being burned by youths'.

It is a fascinating parade of mental illness. Today's newspapers have to be saved for the entertainment of future readers. If there are any left. So many apparently insane things have happened or been said in the last half decade that I can't see where the limit is any more. Those who the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. Perhaps we are already mad.

10/24/2006 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

America's ambassador to Afghanistan yesterday expressed deep unease over the British military's ceasefire with the Taliban and subsequent withdrawal from a flashpoint town. Brigadier Ed Butler, the outgoing commander of British forces in Helmand, said "I fully acknowledge that we could be being duped; that the Taliban may be buying time to reconstitute and regenerate. But every day that there is no fighting the power moves to the hands of the tribal elders who are turning to the government of Afghanistan for security and development." (Telegraph)

I'm not wholly unsympathetic to the British Brigadier, but we don't have a clue about what works do we? Does anybody remember the First Fallujah? Does anybody remember catch and release? Does anybody remember the endlessly learned arguments about how "fighting them" is only going to increase "their" numbers. Well the Brigadier has decided not to fight them. Think this is going to work?

That's why I'm not sure nobody in some European office isn't seriously thinking about throwing Abdel Rahman to the wolves.

10/24/2006 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

This is satire, right?

I agree with every word of what Catherine said, and Wretchard you are right; this is madness at its most audacious.


10/24/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger chsw10605 said...

I suggest that in exchange for freeing Torsello, Italy should not triple the size of its force in Afghanistan.

10/24/2006 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Pyrthroes said...

We too detect some sort of mass psychosis in the West, dating from approximately 1964. Conflating private with public circumstance ("the personal is political") is but one aspect. Others represent collectivist Statism in pure form: Argument from Authority ("the guru [ruling incumbents] has spoken"), by Stipulation ("it's true because we say so"), by many another spurious rationale... the point being, not just that argumentation has turned sour, but that shouting matches devolve to ad hominem attacks that discourage all meaningful context and perspective.

On the left, Global Warming with its "hockey stick" graph and contentious discrepancies is a conscious, knowing fraud. On the Right, Intelligent Design with its "Darwin's black box" and all-powerful Old Man with white whiskers, dwelling beyond Space and Time, stirring the quantum pot with a relativistic finger, is an obnoxious travesty. (What about "Newton's black box", or Niels Bohr's or Schrodinger's?)

As public "psychoses" shade from delusions of Socialist grandeur to Leftist persecution complexes, Islam's looming personal paranoia enables an extraordinarily vicious death-cult, wherein suicides find virtue not merely in self-destruction but in murderous attacks on others. Call it Nihilism, Thanatos... this is a scorched-earth policy on every front. A generation or two from now, the once-enlightened Western world may well have sunk by default to Dark Age barbarism once again.

"Who's next to be liberated from freedom, Comrade?" Stalin asks in a David Low cartoon from Orwell's Year in 1948. Our answer is, Anyone today who fails to recognize the threat and defend against it. Grown elderly, we cling to Saint Teresa's hope: "All will be well again, we know."

10/24/2006 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...



10/24/2006 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

I was thinking the kidnappers could give us Adam Gadahn and in exchange we'll give them Santa Claus and Tooth Fairy.

That reminds me. I've sometimes wondered what would happen if some idiot on the internet held a Quran hostage. That is, to pay off a student's school debts, he offers to not burn or shoot or mutilate or desecrate a Quran if he receives a ransom of $50,000 by a certain time.

I can see it now. A maniacally laughing infidel crows, "Pay up, oh Muslims, or this Koran gets it!!"

Would any Muslim pay up? And how many people would die in the resulting riots...?

10/24/2006 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger The Machinist said...

Wait, I don't understand...it is suggested that steps be taken to save the life of a journalist? Surely, as she is a Muslim, she is perfectly safe. Let her have a nice visit, and come back telling us how well she was treated.

10/25/2006 12:33:00 AM  
Blogger David Blue said...

I vote for no deal, and no discussion.

10/25/2006 03:29:00 AM  
Blogger Quig said...

No deal. Let Allah protect her.

10/25/2006 03:38:00 AM  
Blogger charlotte said...

Oh, "Gabrielle." Now that I see the Italian journo is a she, I have to wonder if an Afghan blue body duvet cover with a single tiny netted aperture is her best color for life. These things matter to decadent western women.

10/25/2006 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger Elmondohummus said...

Forget the religion of the respective participants; we have a simple kidnapping and ransom situation here. The ransom simply happens to be in human form this time around.

In general with kidnappings, it's inconceivable to pay the ransom unless the payment is merely a step towards identifying and ultimately delivering justice (i.e. arrest or elimination) to the kidnappers, as well as some indication that their elimination will end or put a severe dent in kidnapping threat. Otherwise, paying the ransom serves merely to perpetuate the problem. Once you pay the danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.

But that's when the payment is merely money. Here, in this specific case, we're confronted with the choice to force one person into captivity in order to free another. That's simply not acceptible for so many reasons, but not the least of which means we accept the view that apostates to Islam are religious criminals who deserve death. Regardless of whether that's an accepted fact in Islam, if we in the west accept that, we're also unquestioningly accepting a criminal organization's interpretation of religion (they kidnapped someone, a criminal offense), as well as accepting that criminal organization's judgement on another human being. That's a lousy precedent to set, regardless of what the religion itself says.

It'd be bad enough if Rahman was an Afghan felon or convicted criminal, and the Taliban was merely trying to extradite him. But we in the West draw a boundary between what is criminal and what is against a religion, and to accept that a violation of religion by conversion to another one is also a capital criminal offense is to cross a line that the west wisely chose to not do a long time ago. For that reason alone, I'm already very much against any trade, even though there are many other reasons to consider.

10/25/2006 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Have each side draw up internationally legal paperwork...

Have the ACLU mediate...

The Vatican can draw up the paperwork to extradite Abdul Rahman from the consensual secular nation state of Italy. Maybe the Presbyterians can draw up something similar for the great and glorious 17 victims of American Terror in Guantanamo.

Then have the duly elected terrorist clans in Afghanistan draw up the paperwork (internationally legal - of course) for those held in that state. While at it, why not draw up the paperwork for Osama et. al...

These folks are barbarians. Give them a flashy trinket - not a person.

10/25/2006 07:51:00 AM  
Blogger Dave H said...

Wretchard said:
Those who the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. Perhaps we are already mad.

Take it from an old redneck. There ain't no "perhaps" to it.

10/25/2006 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen Renico said...

I'm beginning to think that any endeavour in the Middle East is hopeless because there is an incurable proclivity there toward barbarism.

When free elections are held, do they choose governments who will bring prosperity and world acceptance? No. Instead they willingly give power to head-chopping maniacs and nuke-testing jihadists.

The only real way to win in the Middle East is energy independence. Buying oil, ultimately, puts money in the hands of groups who hate the west. That's the problem with money: it circulates. When we buy oil, the money doesn't just sit as bullion in the vault of some oil sheikh. He spends it (if he doesn't donate it directly to some hate-mongering madrassa) and it finds its way to terrorists' wallets.

If we quit buying oil, the entire Middle East would either

1)become a political zero overnight, as the only two resources they'd have would be (now worthless) oil and sand. Let them contemplate whether or not they want to buy more semtex when their childrens' bellies are swollen with hunger.


2) become the problem of someone else who still needs oil, like China or India. I don't think the Middle East would take kindly to the atheist Chinese or the polytheistic Indians having a presence there. Let them be weighed down with that millstone instead of us.

I'd be willing to put up with some painful economic times for five or even ten years if it meant we could be forever free of relying on the most fouled-up region on the planet for our energy.

10/25/2006 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger Goyo said...

I think you may be suffering from the disease you wish to diagnose.
The point of Darwin's Black Box is that Darwin did not know anything about cellular biology. He assumed the cell was just a lump of protoplasm. He did not realize that change in an organism had to begin at the molecular level. Darwin did not know that a cell is a mechanism much more intricate and much more accurate than any watch of human design.

Greg Marquez

10/25/2006 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger The Wobbly Guy said...

And a crystal can spontaneously form from a solution of random iopnic particles. Your point?

We're getting closer to the truth every day. If Darwin didn't know the exact mechanism, at least he was observant enough to spot the larger pattern. We go from biology to biochemistry to chemistry to quantum chemistry to physics, explaining things all the way. Burrowing down, seeking the truth of things, because we skeptics won't be, will never be satisfied with a 'just because'.

We don't need god, nor faith. After all, I will never forget it was over-zealous faith in a fictional higher power that brought us into this stupid mess in the first place, a long time ago. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

As for the trade, a simple 'no' will suffice. Abdul Rahman is a free human being, beholden to nobody. Let's keep it that way.

10/25/2006 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger Shinobi said...

Convert to Christianity, get sentanced to death....

Convert to Islam, get kidnapped....

You just can't win with these people!!

10/25/2006 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

They might have just as well said "Let us kill Rahman, and you can have this other person back".

To my knowledge, Rahman isn't charged with any crime in Italy, is he? How could the government there just decide to hand him over? Of COURSE they will refuse, as they should, and since in fact they have no other choice.

10/25/2006 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger m al-content said...

a small point, but i think he is a guy, see http://www.kashgt.co.uk/kash.htm

10/25/2006 12:58:00 PM  
Blogger Roderick said...

Hey, why stop at Abdul Rahman? Why not throw in Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoonists?

10/25/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Let's see . . .

Rahman isn't a hostage or prisoner of either Italy or the Vatican, so the Palestinian swap thing won't work.

And so many of these 'journalist' 'kidnappings' -- involving the 'detention' of scribes sympathetic to the kidnappers -- are such fishy affairs when all the details finally emerge.


Seems Belmonters have no trouble dissecting the situational ethics here.

But, I'm afraid our flaccid so-called 'leadership' classes are so easily snookered by third world hucksterism that I'd bet dollars to doughnuts there will be a serious effort to affect some sort of exchange, or at the very minimum, to 'punish' Rahman while allowing him to remain in Italy.

Thus advancing sharia jurisdiction to the entrance of St. Peter's Square.

10/25/2006 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger charlotte said...

Thanks, M-al-Content, for re-assigning correct gender to the kidnap victim, if he is, indeed, one (Cosmo may have it right.) I thought my initial reading comp had gone worse than usual.

We can forget any concern over the victim having to don mandatory blue bed clothes. All Gabriele has to worry about is his beard length, knowing which is his filthy hand, and mastering florid anti-western rhetoric.

10/25/2006 03:51:00 PM  

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