Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Call of Cthulhu

US troops freed 42 Iraqis who had been held captive by the al-Qaeda in Diyala. Some had been hung from the ceiling and tortured for as long as 4 months. One of the captives was a 14 year old boy.

Military officials said the operation, launched on tips from residents, showed that Iraqis in the turbulent Diyala province were turning against Sunni insurgents and beginning to trust U.S. troops.

"The people in Diyala are speaking up against al-Qaida," said Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq. ...

"The more contact we have (with) the Iraqi citizens, the more confidence that they develop in us, and in the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army. That leads to greater cooperation from the Iraqi citizenry," said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman.

I've always wondered what tactical utility the al-Qaeda obtained from its "slaughterhouses". The Iraqi captives -- and certainly the 14 year old boy -- could not have had any information of military value. And what information they had would have gone stale in the four months. Moreover the operational danger to maintaining these dungeons must have been immense, as the al-Qaeda who may now be in US custody after the raid must now realize. So what was the purpose of the "slaughterhouses"? The answer I suspect, will largely resemble the answer to the question of why the Nazis made lampshades out of human skin, soap out of gas-chamber victims or performed medical experiments on live inmates when there was very little practical use in it. The utility was in the brutality itself; in the psychological benefit which the Nazis somehow derived.

Al-Qaeda, like all the evil vapors of the world through history, inevitably comes to resemble its predecessors. Soldiers of the dark eventually find themselves wearing the same livery. Flowers bloom in myriad ways, but evil, like pornography, is repetitive. It marches to the same dull beat that all the Lost of the ages have heard call. Poor men, these al-Qaeda, they who would remake the world in their ostensibly new vision only to find it had been templated long ago by some sad and ancient corruption.


Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Religion at its core attempts to freeze time. This is true of Judaism Christianity Islam, though Islam is most egregious in its methods. But the real path of least resistance in human existence is change, not nihilistic dissembly of progress.

5/27/2007 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger karl said...

Just what in the world does this have to do with Great Cthulhu? I see no discussion of bizarre dreams tormenting artists or aged professors, no reference to savage cults of lurking in the swamps of Louisiana, nor any discussion of His House in Rl'yeh.

5/27/2007 05:22:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Mat, just a week ago you quoted Ecclesiastes. That Book sure wasn't trying to freeze time (preserve a state of being).

5/27/2007 06:44:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...


What you say is true, but

1/ Organized religion is not to be confused with any particular passage found in scripture.

2/ Organized religion, like any other power structure, will always attempt to consolidate and preserve its power. Once this is done, there's an inherent psychological disincentive to allow for change because change is seen as a destabilizing factor that may threaten the hierarchy of power and privilege.

5/27/2007 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...


Power and privilege will always be challenged. And so, the seasons turn turn. ;)

5/27/2007 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger ForNow said...

Wretchard knows what he's talking about. You can tell that he's had Cthulhu in mind for a while.

When Cthulhu returns, the sane will beg to be eaten first, lest they witness the later horrors, and will drive themselves insane as soon as possibe.

5/27/2007 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Cthulhu was a suitably fictional example of ancient evil that calls out to people in their disturbed sleep. A kind of symbol of the universality and banality of evil.

But after reading about the migratory patterns of the Jihadi nation at the Counterterrorism Blog, I am obliged to rethink my original assertion about the lack of utility of al-Qaeda "slaughterhouses". If you read the Counterterrorism Blog article, it is evident that professional Jihadi now belong to some kind of international nation. For example, many veterans of the Afghan Jihad, unable to return to their home countries because the authorities rightly feared they would start trouble, went to Algeria where they mutated the GIA into something surpassingly virulent. There was about them something of the Red Guard, where the most vicious of them, emerging through some kind of Lord of the Flies or Clockwork Orange type of natural selection, went on to be crowned the Princes of Hell.

The high rate of attrition also meant that the ranks of the GIA were continuously being refilled
with increasingly more junior fighters: “the average age of the mujahadeen is 19-20, up to 24.
The leaders of the GIA are 27. Occasionally you get an old one who’s 30 or 35.

The Jihadi nation is like a country of the damned; there you will live and there you will die. And you hope for nothing more. It is difficult for the West, with its emphasis on protecting the innocence of children, albeit very unsuccessfully, to appreciate how useful to cold and evil men like Osama Bin Laden or Africa's General Butt Naked the provision of child-soldiers are. Taken up in their formative years and twisted beyond all recognition by these demonic men, child and teenaged fighters make the perfect killers. But I digress.

Al-Qaeda has been as successful as the early Bolsheviks were in seizing the leadership of every existing anti-establishment movement for the same reason the Bolsheviks were. They have a cadre of missionaries of murder who are far better trained, funded, motivated and ruthless than the usual homegrown counterpart. Anyone who observed the old and real underground Left in action in the Third World will understand what I mean. These men lived for revolution. They were fearless. They were brutal. They had access to guns, money and travel. They were a brotherhood unto themselves. And as such they brushed aside the "moderate" opposition every time they came up against them. It was no contest; like pitting a flabby dilettante against a trained fighter.

Can you hunt down your friend? Can you slit a man's throat in front of his crying children? Can you lie through your teeth? Can you spit in the face of a government soldier who has just captured you? Are you able to give up family, childhood acquaintances and all ties to humanity to serve your cause? If you can't do all of the above you are no Bolshevik, nor are you a Jihadi.

To understand the Jihad then is to understand the Jihadi experience. The camps in the mountains; the terrible privation; the constant stimulus of danger; and lastly, the hardening of the will. All go into the creation of the Islamic superman. SS recruits were encouraged to bring their pets to barracks for training, but not told why. On the day of graduation they were suddenly informed that they had to kill their beloved pets. Simply because it was required. It was the final psychological test of suitability that only the real SS man could joyfully fulfill. The "slaughterhouses" may fulfill a similar function. Unless a Jihadi can scoop out a man's eye with a spoon and think nothing of it, he isn't ready for prime time.

Of course, not even the hardest of the soldiers of civilization can compete on this field. If they could, we would certify them insane. But we don't have to follow the same "tough guy" path. What we did in World War 2 was overwhelm the Superman with our tanks, aircraft, production and systems. That way we could make up for a deficit in brutality with a surplus in means. But that requires a mobilized society, and a true of perception of Why We Fight.

Karl, I am sorry if I maligned the Great Cthulhu. He is nowhere near as evil as the men that we face.

5/27/2007 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger ForNow said...

Wretchard is correct there, too. I remember when Mugabe was talking about training all Zimbabwean teenagers in the art of torture. That would certainly separate them from traditional culture. The thought of such a generation spreading through Africa and around the world concentrates the mind. He seems to have stopped talking about such plans, thank goodness.

5/27/2007 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Karl, I believe Wretchard was referencing Lovecrafts exploration of creatures who loved evil for evil's sake in his labyrinths of Cthulhu.

There was no tactical utility to the torture dungeons, apparantly no politico-religious objective.

Other insurgencies can be monstrous. The Jewish Bolshevik's decision to liquidate the Russian Orthodox priesthood, dynamite most churches as they made "anti-semitism" punishable by the death penalty. Later classic Communist, anti-colonial, Islamist, or fascist insurgencies where far greater liquidators than Al Qaeda ever will be....but from the Bolsheviks on, there has been a method to the butchery. Fast, plentiful, brutal....but no torture chambers where infliction of pain is the end in and of itself. In insurgencies, the trick is to balance terror. While inflicting punishment, it is to help drive the populace into your arms.

Al Qaeda and many other Islamist groups, fortunately for us it seems, are infected with irrational madness. Make enemies. Make the infidel target you. Make the Shia target you. And work on alienating the Sunni locals in every country you have a big presence in.

Hezbollah appears smarter than other groups....

5/27/2007 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

During WWII the Japanese soldiers looked down on the allied soldiers and airmen that they captured. The allied soldiers should have fought to the death and not allowed themselves to be captured. So it was fair to treat these POWs horribly and even kill them since they had lost their honor by being captured.

Probably the jihadis look down on their captives in a similar fashion.

In addition, the one rule that the jihadis follow is that there are no rules. They are allowed to use all methods to humiliate their enemies, all methods to win.

I suspect that this attracts the sort of person for whom brutality is normal. And that sort of person rises through the ranks to become headchopper in chief, and worse.

5/27/2007 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger Seafarious said...

Abattoir training starts early in Islam.

The Eid celebrations require Muslim males to personally restrain and kill human-size animals each year.

You've got to be carefully taught.

5/27/2007 09:54:00 PM  
Blogger Helping others said...

good work keep it up...


5/27/2007 10:13:00 PM  
Blogger Habu said...

When they froze Ted Williams head was that a religious act?

And more importantly how is Ted's head doing in it's cyrogenic state? Has it turned brown like bananas put in the freezer?

And finally when are they going to set up a webcab to view Ted's head?

Let's earmark or headmark a bill in Congress...I mean he was the last .400 hitter in the majors.

5/27/2007 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I would like to also suggest that the sexual degradation commanded by the Koran might have something to do with transferring that energy into some other physical manifestation that *is* OK. That if you're forbidden to have sex, then don't you think that masturbating to the torture of a young boy for four months while simultaneously squalling "allah u akbar" would be more than a subliminal substitute?

5/27/2007 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger brdavis9 said...

To the those with eyes to see, the answer to why? torture is quite simple: they (jihadis, in this particular incarnation) are demonically possessed.

As to why demons demand torture of humans? - Chthulu knows.

5/27/2007 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Al-Qaeda's torture facilities may have an entirely different reason for their existence -- recreation.

Once men are hardened enough to torture and once they are primed to enjoy it, it is unlikely they can stop themselves. Mass murderers kill over and over because killing becomes a compulsion; the same is true for mass rapists. Al-Qaeda is a training and recruiting academy for those who seek a life intoxicated by the power of cruelty and spattered blood.

While he was imprisoned, Vlad the Impaler would impale rats; inflicting pain became his compulsion. So it is for many a hard core revolutionary -- they may think they are fighting for a higher cause, but their "higher cause" is merely a pretext to commit atrocities, for torture is their idea of fun.

Recreational torture is an old custom, an ancient custom, and can be considered to be a religion unto itself.

5/27/2007 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Go to habu, you'll find it.

5/27/2007 11:56:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

More than subliminal, for sure, Nahncee.

5/27/2007 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger Pugmak said...

alexis has a good point.

If you take the "jihadi" out of this issue and look at the normal conduct of men and how they exist in the seams between the tribal areas in the harsher areas of the caliphate, then what the jihadi do is not much more than a basic enhancement of the general norm.

This shouldn't be any real surprise. The nature of the culture is to produce psychopaths and psychotics.

There is denying that the islamos are using the same play books as the soviet revolutionaries at least in part. But islamos being islamos mean they will definitely put their own medieval twist to things.

5/28/2007 12:16:00 AM  
Blogger Pugmak said...


Meant there is NO denying... but pimf is for the vain.

5/28/2007 12:17:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Military officials said the operation, launched on tips from residents, showed that Iraqis in the turbulent Diyala province were turning against Sunni insurgents and beginning to trust U.S. troops.

Typically Al Qaeda are not referred to as “Sunni insurgents”, that appellation is reserved for the indigenous Iraqis fighting the US occupation. Was the writer just being sloppy or is there another agenda at work here? Are we actually taken to be stupid enough to believe that there is no distinction between Al Qaeda and Iraqi Sunni fighters?

Recent signs that the Sunni resistance has turned against Al Qaeda (of course for obvious reasons, in those articles a stark contrast is painted between the two groups) has been trumpeted as evidence of US success in Iraq. Nothing could be further from the truth; it is a clear sign of the decline of US power in Iraq.

Since the rise of Islam, Arab culture has been vacillating between two very opposite organizational principles, the universalism of Islam and the traditional sectarian structure of the local tribe. When facing a powerful outside force, the Arabs would tend to gather around the unifying principle of Islam while as the force recedes the tribal structures would regain their prominence.

So after the US invasion in 2003, those Iraqis who refused to submit to the will of their powerful occupiers had to turn to the unifying force of Islam, which meant accepting the aid of unsavory foreign elements including Al Qaida. But over the years as the Iraqi insurgency has wedged its deep roots into Iraqi society (at least in their regions) and as their ability has grown to not only attack and kill US soldiers, but to slow down their re-supply, the primary orientation of the indigenous forces again naturally tends to return towards their local tribal structures and against Islam and that other group of foreigners trying to impose their will on the Iraqi people – Al Qaeda.

The question is can the same US forces, desperate for “evidence” that the US is “winning” in Iraq, keep out of their collective OODA loop, this nonsense about a bipolar world where the only two choices for Iraqi insurgents are the US or Al Qaida? That any Iraqi rejection of Al Qaida is necessarily a submission to the will of the US occupiers? While most of the impetus behind these US propaganda campaigns is to shore up the shaken confidence Americans have of the strategic wisdom of their political elite, another reason for these lies is a vain attempt to lift our soldier’s moral. But is the gain this propaganda aims at really worth the price of further polluting the all-important “orient” portion of our soldiers OODA-loop?

I suppose the only real “good news” here is that since war is paradoxical, as the Sunni insurgency grows in power if will tend to develop into a conventional army and the US forces would once again gain the upper hand if this development were actually allowed to occur. It won’t, however, with the firepower of the US occupation serving only to infantilize the developing Iraqi military forces, again paradoxically the efforts of the US will only serve to keep the insurgencies unbeatable by US forces by forcing them to stay below the threshold of a conventional force.

5/28/2007 12:26:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

My son was brave and steadfast and irrepressible.
Andrew J. Bacevich, Washington Post

I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose.
We Were Both Doing Our Duty.

5/28/2007 12:32:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Can you slit a man's throat in front of his crying children?"
Can you slit a young woman's throat in front of a planeload of crying Children, Women, and Men?

5/28/2007 12:45:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Addendum to 12:45:00 AM:
Knowing your act of evil, and the resulting effect on the victim, will be one of the last images/experiences these people have on this earth.

5/28/2007 01:51:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"On the day of graduation they were suddenly informed that they had to kill their beloved pets. Simply because it was required.

It was the final psychological test of suitability that only the real SS man could joyfully fulfill.
I am reminded of the Adventurer responsible for the dogs on "Endurance" having to slaughter his beloved teammates on the ice when the food ran out.
The Strength of Nobility
The Stench of Evil.

5/28/2007 02:00:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

You might appreciate this straightforward presentation:

The US is not failing to contend with Iran because it went to war in Iraq.

It is failing because it is implementing policies that prefer imaginary silver bullets to real solutions for real problems.

AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, Bush explained that the attacks showed that the friend of your enemy is also your enemy. As he put it last September, "America makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror, and those that harbor and support them, because they're equally guilty of murder."

Yet what Bush failed to note is the converse of that reality: The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend. Here the distinction generally relates to Sunnis and Shi'ites. The administration's failure to grasp that just because Shi'ites and Sunnis are rivals doesn't mean that they will join forces with the US to fight one another, or won't join forces with one another to fight the US, has caused the Americans no end of difficulty.
- Caroline Glick

Also, this thread.

5/28/2007 02:13:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Steve was known to you here as USMC retired.

5/28/2007 02:16:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/28/2007 02:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

If We Won’t Fight Them Here…

Such is the context of the three major ground fronts against al-Qaeda.

In Afghanistan, we have stopped at the border and granted reprieve.

In Somalia, our aid-wielding foreign services leadership has ignored those who engage al-Qaeda in a fight for their broken country and their very lives.

And in Iraq, where we are face-to-face with the enemy who has killed so many of us and seeks to kill more (at home and abroad), much of our elected Congressional leadership seeks to disengage the fight. All in the name of ‘counterterrorism.’

This begs the obvious question: If U.S. political leadership currently lacks the will to confront and defeat al-Qaeda terrorists where they mass to confront us in the battlefields of Iraq, what confidence can the American people possibly derive that the current Congressional leadership can muster the will to defeat them elsewhere?

And elsewhere they will certainly be. The national security consequences could be grave.

5/28/2007 02:31:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Wretchard, thanks for reminding us the nature of te evil we face. Too bad we got diverted from doing nothing else but destroying them.

5/28/2007 03:34:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"The world is watching our southern border, as long as they realize that it's open.
When we pass a bill that gives people the impression that there are new benefits to be had in the United States, and that's the Senate bill, you will have a stampede for the U.S. border that will overwhelm our border forces."

-- Duncan Hunter

5/28/2007 03:49:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

From a less enlightened era, Execution of SS soldiers at Dachau

"The killing of unarmed POWs did not trouble many of the men in I company that day for to them the SS guards did not deserve the same protected status as enemy soldiers who have been captured after a valiant fight. To many of the men in I company, the SS were nothing more than wild, vicious animals whose role in this war was to starve, brutalize, torment, torture and murder helpless civilians." Flint Whitlock, The Rock of Anzio, From Sicily to Dachau: A history of the U.S. 45th Infantry Division

5/28/2007 04:12:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Corporal Jason Dunham, who gave his life so that his fellow Marines would live.
He jumped on a grenade to save two other men.
(But site's slideshow starts with his two VERY young children.
Tears at your heart)

5/28/2007 04:17:00 AM  
Blogger Bill said...


If U.S. power is diminished, then why is Anbar becoming "quiet"?

5/28/2007 04:29:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

He jumped on a grenade to save two other men.

I've never thought people that "take one for the team", be it grenade floppers, guys that close watertight doors and die in the fooding, anyone in a rearguard action that saves the main body of infantry at the cost of their lives -- deserves the MOH. Its more akin to the suicidal sacrifice of the Kamikaze or the Soviets ordered to stand and fight to the last with rifle clubs rather than retreat when their ammo ran out, the pilot that died and stayed at the controls so his men could bail out.
The MOH should be for unbelievable valor and accomplishment of profound military feat in the face of the enemy. Not just for "sacrifice". Not for voluntary suicide in lieu of a sandbag serving the same function.

One true worthy MOH winner, who did accomplish and amazing feat of arms, was Staff SGT Smith, single-handedly holding off 90-100 attacking Iraqis and saving 30 at a medical rally point before being fatally shot after reinforcements arrived. He deserved the MOH under the classic definition.

A big oversight by Bush and DOD in this conflict is the reluctance to give a MOH or two to deserving living heroes. A few of the Distinguished Crosses and Navy Crosses were for men that would have received the MOH in past wars.

A 3rd MOH is likely after 5 1/2 years of war. To another willingly sacrificial/suicidal grenade flopper. At least we don't do Kamikaze or Banzai charges where everyone does voluntary suicide for the good of the team..

5/28/2007 06:26:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 05/28/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

5/28/2007 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

Who would you rather be captured by- Al - Qeada or the US Army? Could anyone credibly make the case for Al Qeada? Why not ask every reporter that question? I bet they wouldn't answer.

5/28/2007 07:28:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...


Thanks for the links.

I particularly liked the Andrew J. Bacevich piece where he states: “Money maintains the Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics. It confines the debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels.” You see this on Iraq and immigration, where the interests of wealth trump those of the working-to-middle classes. While the Left often talks about “chickenhawls” those who support the war but refuse to fight it, you rarely hear about their opposite numbers “chickendoves” those who oppose the war but don’t lift a finger to stop it.


Al-Anbar is quieter not because we have imposed our will on the Baathists, former Army officers, and nationalists who have been running the indigenous insurgency there for the past four years, it is quieter because we have admitted defeat and stopped trying to impose our will on them. The indigenous insurgency has responded by turning their guns on Al Qaida, which is to be expected since Saddam’s men were never really into the whole caliphate thing in the first place. While the insurgents may accept weapons and assistance from the Iraqi and US Army, don’t think for a minute that they have suddenly bought into the idea that they will be the loyal servants of Shia masters in Baghdad. These Sunni tribes are most certainly not going to stop until they rule all of Iraq, just like they did in March 2003. Wiping out Al Qaida in Iraq is just one more step towards either their eventual reconquest of the entire country.

5/28/2007 07:32:00 AM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Metuselah, what version of Christianity or Judaism are you talking about, because freezing time is not a concept I have ever come across in the Bible.

It does show that God has a plan and is going to fulfill it. Whether you believe in it or not is your choice, but at least try to understand that which you speak of.

I can only guess that you equate conservative values with something like aversion to change and rejection of progress. But again, the God is not against progress or change. He is against sin. Not the same things.

5/28/2007 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...


“Soldiers of the dark eventually find themselves wearing the same livery."

This has never been said better.

Evil is not nationalistic.
Evil is easily known when one sees it.
Not sensing the distinctive heraldic sign of evil is not honorable.

5/28/2007 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Couldn't the term "Sunni insurgent" be used to mean the jihadist wannabe's being sent into Iraq from Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Egypt? I don't know that a Saudi young punk would necessarily also be Al-Queda, but he'd definitely be a Sunni insurgent going into Iraq for the fun of killing Americans and getting his 72 virgins.

5/28/2007 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger Boghie said...

I fear that many confuse the sound of Spartan piping at Thermopylae with the signed or whispered or shouted orders at Diyala and Auschwitz and Andersonville.

On this Memorial Day, I think we should take a moment to note the difference.

5/28/2007 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger jane said...

It’s not just the horrific doings of the Nazis and jihadis, but the everyday cruelties visited upon friends and strangers. There’s degree, yes, but what about our base nature? That simple decency and dignity are too often more difficult to attain and sustain than thoughtlessness and conscious evil in the human heart is the great mystery of human time. We fight against the downward pull of immoral leadenness and amoral gravity in order to stand upright. Perhaps the fight is the all.

All thanks to our good warriors and priests, both in the service and in everyday life.

5/28/2007 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

“….find themsleves wearing the same livery.”

Perhaps, but I see much evidence that while our warriors become less sensitive to the suffering of the enemy they still know right from wrong. I just finished reading the biography of Gerald Johnson, one of the CO’s of the 49th Fighter Squadron in WWII. In New Guinea they were treated to signs of Japanese brutality, such as the place were the comfort women were kept in conditions of utter squalor, and to the bodies of those same women killed by the retreating Japanese, along with hundreds of Korean slaves. By the time the squadron got to the Philippines, when they shot down a Japanese airplane they strafed it on the ground to make sure they had killed the crew.

And Cedarford: I think I know what you mean about the award of the MOH, and I am not sure if I agree or disagree. But I think it is a bit dangerous to consider the Result as factor rather than just the Valor.

In WWII Maj Richard Ira Bong was awarded the MOH not for a specific outstanding act of valor, but for being better than anyone else at shooting down Japanese airplanes – although that required lots of valor, and on a wholesale basis. Maj James Howard of the 354th Fighter Group received a MOH not for shooting down the most enemy airplanes but for singlehandedly engaging some 36 German fighters, keeping them away from the B-17’s he was escorting. Which man deserved the MOH more? I am not qualified to say, but I am damn sure that Maj Howard deserved it – and both men thought they were just there doing their jobs.

On the other hand – during the Battle of Britain an aging WWI RAF pilot who commanded a fighter station (i.e., base) was told that there was a Luftwaffe raid inbound to his field and there were no RAF fighters available to intercept. He took off in his personal aircraft, an early model Hurricane with fabric wings. Sighting the Germans, he alone dived in to attack. And as it turned out, the Germans bombers had been unable to link up with their fighter escorts and were flying along with the attitude of “Boy, are we going to get clobbered on this trip.” All it took was that one Hurricane attacking to make then jettison their bombs and turn for home. You can’t help but admire that Hurricane pilot’s valor and sure can’t argue with the results – but to my knowledge he did not get any medal.

Happy Memorial Day, everybody!

5/28/2007 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...


So when Michael Yon says "Dishes are appearing on rooftops and people are communicating more freely. During today’s prayers, one mosque announced that divorce is bad and that parents should take care of their children. One mosque cried about Christians and Jews, while yet another announced that Al-Jazeera is lying and people should not watch it. "-- What is happening is that the bad guys are saving their amunition for Bahgdad.
That may be true, or it may be that they just want to have some semblance of local control, and kicking Al Queda butt is one way to do that.
It all depends on who buys into the idea of a federal Iraq and are they co-opting us, or are we co-opting them?

5/28/2007 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger mouse said...

Alexis is right, these torture facilities are for "recreation", in that it's a strengthening of a brutality that's a pleasure, one never satiated.

This is what I see as the dynamism: The personality that violates natural conscience becomes weak. If I kick a cat or shoot a man I become weak, that's just the way men are made. This weakness is very unpleasant. There are only two ways to move back toward strength: through remorse, penalty, and a commitment to do better; or through a continued and ever increasing violation of nature.

Strength is the desire of every man. Al-Qaeda, already with a good start, has chosen violation as the path to that strength, that's the reason for the torture rooms. The intent is not to gain information, but to gain strength, and the enemy in those rooms is not the men tortured nor thoughts of the US Army, the enemy is conscience, and conscience is vanquished.

This is strength, this is delight, but it can never rest, it remains strength only as it attains new triumphs. The Manual of Torture has no pragmatic function, it's just a further violation and celebration and triumph and pleasure. This is the dynamic, and so al-Qaeda will become ever more vicious. But that is our triumph. Not many men can be al-Qaeda, and at some point not many men will be able to ally with them.

5/28/2007 05:24:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

It's really worwhile reading the history of GIA which traces a kind of descent into madness, which despite its denunciation as an aberration by Islamic intellectuals, is, I suspect the norm. The Islamic radicals are fascinated -- maybe fatally fascinated -- with the idea of the modern Jihadi who appears to levitate above the normal human boundaries; a figure transfigured by a kind of spirit-possession. Each new leader arises bearing the hopes that he, alone of his many predecessors, may escape the fatal bloodlust. But each man in turn succumbs. The lure of power proves too much and the children of the Jihad devour each other. At some point an actual insanity overtakes them, as evinced in the GIA leaderships condemnation of all Algerians; in the pronunciamento of guilt upon all of them. Did Hitler in his bunker need company these men would supply it.

5/28/2007 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...


It's not a coincidence that the "Dark Ages" occurred when the Church establishment was in ascension and was most powerful. Neither did the burning of books and the persecution of heretics start with Hitler. As far as Judaism and the Temple Cult establishment, up until after the destruction of the Second Temple, art philosophy science were not considered proper spheres of human endeavor and Jews were actively discouraged from participating and engaging themselves in these disciplines.

5/28/2007 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard -- good points but I would also note how the Left also has found brutality to be "strength." This is particularly true among "feminists" particularly those men who style themselves feminists, in having a very warped view of masculinity and what is strength.

The qualities of mercy, compassion, kindness, decency, honor, loyalty, and good humor are thought to be "weak" while cruelty and sadism are found to be "strength."

This is particularly seen in popular culture, where TV and movies depict male compassion and kindness as weakness, sadistic torture of one's enemies as strength. The Hannibal Lecter films are a good example, as is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it's spin-off Angel, and the TV show and movie Firefly. The Sci-Fi series BattleStar Galactica is another example (of cruelty seen as strength) and so too those horror movies where people are slaughtered as "fun." Instead of the guy killing the monster and getting the girl, the girl and everyone else is slaughtered.

What's striking is the lack of men in popular culture outside of the CBS "crime-time" shows that demonstrate the classic model of masculinity, the "John Wayne" mode. I know Wayne comes in for a lot of flack, but his onscreen roles always had (as in Rio Bravo) compassion for women, drunks, the less fortunate along with physical and moral bravery.

You see echoes of that in Fox's 24, with Kiefer Sutherland playing a man who can brutally kill enemies but display compassion and kindness to children, the retarded, and women. Or the variations of the "tough, middle aged leader" played by The Unit's Dennis Haysbert, NCIS's Mark Harmon, CSI:NY's Gary Sinise, CSI:Miami's David Caruso, the CSI: Original Recipe William Peterson, and NUMBER's Rob Morrow. In all cases compassion and kindness are keys to their characters. Of course, these shows skew much older, and their viewers are not much in demand.

Yet what is shocking is how movies offer only callow youths, such as Orlando Bloom, or cartoon characters like Johnny Depp, as male role models. Liberty Film Festival's "Dirty Harry" recounts how shocked he was at the young male audience for the latest Bond movie laughing when the Eva Green character is in danger and shouts of "run her over" when the Bond character nearly does that. IMHO something is terribly, terribly wrong in popular Western culture about how men and ideal male actions and behaviors are perceived.

Perhaps beause so few artists, writers, and creative people have experienced much of life beyond the TV and Movie Screen (yes, I'm pointing fingers at Tarantino and Romero specifically) brutal cruelty is confused with strength. This might explain the shocking amount of venom directed at "300" ... primarily for the model of idealized male behavior (Leonidas is kind as well as brave, even to the deformed traitor). Because it threw down the gauntlet to say the creator of Angel. Who's character is deemed strong because he enjoys torturing people.

At any rate, this weakness is not among Jihadis alone. A quick look at all the torture-horror movies like Saw, Hostel, etc. will confirm this. [In John Wayne's day these films would not have been shown, as they would have been deemed socially unacceptable.]

5/28/2007 07:52:00 PM  
Blogger Pangloss said...

I tend to agree with Alexis and mouse that these abattoirs are recreational, and that their other purpose is to build up the magnitude of the evil in the jihadists. As for whether Cthulhu is the right metaphor, if I go back to my misspent youth I'd first propose Hellraiser as an alternative horror-metaphor for the jihadists, or perhaps I could get even more obscure and go for that most gnostic of roleplaying game universes, Kult. One of the central conceits in that universe is that there are two paths to transcendence, the difficult path of goodness and the easier path of pure evil that leads first to madness and loss of individuality, similar to our own vampire and werewolf stories.

5/28/2007 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

whiskey 199,

Recently I was hiking a trail in the Snowy Mountains and crossing a dirt road, found the corpse of a cat which had been dragged to death, the noose still round its neck. It had been a pet as its chubby and well tended body showed. How else could the torturers of this little animal have approached it?

You probably know that I like cats. But my reaction in the next instant was to go to full alert. I walked more warily thereafter. Cruelty has a way of demanding more to achieve an equal satiation. Don't think that cruelty in one place will stay there. What brews in Iraq and in the Jihad as well as the dark recesses of our own culture is greatly to be feared.

In case nobody has read Lovecraft's Cthulu, here's a quote which is strangely appropriate.

That cult would never die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return.

Evil exists. But take heart. So does good.

5/28/2007 08:26:00 PM  
Blogger Mr.Atos said...

Like Pickman, the Left illustrate for us the image of their reality, yet they deny the true source... even unto themselves. The unholy visages readily concieved are in fact reflections rendered in a colour not of this world, of a terror realized but never dared acknowledged. The depths of their stygian horrors yield a hungry Dagon climbing from the slimy chasms of their very souls.

5/28/2007 10:42:00 PM  
Blogger mouse said...

It occurs to me that there's a difference between trying to defeat conscience and trying to defeat God. To defeat God is easy, just pick a different one more to your liking. For the Bolsheviks this was the State. The State, as God, has no interest in the individual, so brutality is easy. But it's also limited. There must, after all, be a state, so brutality always at least has the intent of policy, whatever might be the motivation of individuals.

With the Algerian GIA under Zitouni, on the other hand, the intent, by the alchemy of Islamism, became one to defeat conscience, and this is individual, and has no limits. Brutality, without the political intent of national governance, becomes mindless.

The jihadis do have a very specific, "universal" God, and they're stuck with him, because he's the one who justifies the killing they do, of infidels and apostates. But he doesn't have much of a concept of the nation state, and killing, outside of the restraints of that concept, can't stop, because it is a violation of conscience, and the only way that that violation can be made a celebration is to do it more and more.

This is what it means to go beyond good and evil, "with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy." It's not that men are ever unaware that it's evil that they do, it's in fact because they know it's evil that they take such joy in it, as an embrace and a liberation, and it's only in defining their joy as good that they're able to define their act as good. But the joy is never one of peace, it's always fleeting because only felt within the violation, and so they must kill more. And again, without the concept of state, as a recognizable, governable entity, there can be no limits.

This seems to argue that no extreme jihadis are ever going to control a modern state, and al-Qaeda will never control Iraq.

5/29/2007 05:40:00 AM  

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