Friday, May 23, 2008

Retrospective

Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank at the New Republic describe The jihadist revolt against bin Laden. It begins, as most of these stories do, with rich men at a lavish party who sit down after dinner to plot how to take over the world. In this case it begins with a millionaire Libyan Jihadi and Osama Bin Laden in Kandahar. A participant describes the scene in 2000, when most of the West was celebrating the End of History and worrying about the Millenium Bug.

Bin Laden was trying to win over other militant groups to the global jihad he had announced against the United States in 1998. Over the next five days, bin Laden and his top aides, including Ayman Al Zawahiri, met with a dozen or so jihadist leaders. They sat on the floor in a circle with large cushions arrayed around them to discuss the future of their movement. "This was a big strategy meeting," Benotman told one of us late last year, in his first account of the meeting to a reporter. "We talked about everything, where are we going, what are the lessons of the past twenty years."

The story ends in the present, with many in the cast of characters blaming Bin Laden for turning the world -- including the Muslim masses -- against the Jihad The scene shifts from the opulent parties of the warrior princes to the morose Muslim enclaves of East London. But as these stories go, even at the outset there were those at Osama's party who had their doubts.

Benotman recalls, "but they laughed when I told them that America would attack the whole region if they launched another attack against it." Benotman says that bin Laden tried to placate him with a promise: "I have one more operation, and after that I will quit"--an apparent reference to September 11. "I can't call this one back because that would demoralize the whole organization," Benotman remembers bin Laden saying.

Bin Laden might have been right and Benotman wrong if only Osama had been more patient. Timing is everything. They should have waited for the people we've been waiting for. As it is, their retrospective regrets, coming on the heels of their battlefield thrashing after attacking America leaves one question unaswered. Would they have been so contrite if they had not been pursued by all the furies of hell? Victory has many fathers, but defeat is an orphan.

Every warrior prince, even Osama should remember the old stage adage: laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone.




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57 Comments:

Blogger 3Case said...

Would they have been so contrite if they had not been pursued by all the furies of hell?

They have only been pursued by a bunch of the furies of hell. PC management of OIF limited the use of the furies, with the myriad imperfect results the kvetchers have so thoroughly advised us.

5/23/2008 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

It's well to remember that the roots of September 11 lie long before Iraq. Bin Laden's fatwa was issued againt Bill Clinton and William Perry. The kernel of the quarrel, if kernel there is, is deep: within the differences between the West and Bin Laden's vision of Islam. No simple meeting; no coffee; no abject apology can avoid that simple fact.

You will have to appease the Jihad with the contents of the entire store; not some bauble handed out in the Rose Garden. For a sell-out to have any meaning they will have to take everything. The problem with appeasers is that they value their adversaries too cheaply, probably because that is the price they put on themselves. The great villains may remember those who defeat them with hate and despair. But they remember those who tried to buy them off with pennies not at all.

5/23/2008 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Thrasymachus said...

Only a liberal could believe there are good jihadists and bad jihadists. This isn't an ideological war, it's a war war, meaning you are done when everybody on the other side willing or able to fight is dead.

5/23/2008 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

W: Great article
Maybe progress has indeed been made in the sense that we have learned from the appeasement of the 1930s. If AQ truly had control of a real country, they easily could have been the new Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot. The fact that all they could get was Afghanistan, and then lose it so quickly, really has been a good thing, likely saving thousands of lives, and maybe says something about the state of the world relative to the 1930s. Maybe we have learned.

AQ is not more or less nihilistic than the Nazis or the Communists or Pol Pot, and not more or less possessed of the view that they and only that have the "final revelation" (fill in the blank), except that because they do not have state power in their hands, and the only tactics they have are asymmetric, the only way for them to try to achieve their strategy is through mass casualty attacks that kill civilians more than military targets, in order to wake up the "masses." They can't hold spectacles like the Nuremberg rallies or murder their own safely within their own borders like Stalin did - and the world looking the other way. To try to gain power, like any revolutionary before them, they must try to spark disorder and instability. But disorder and instability means declaring fellow Muslims Takfirs and of retroactively labeling Muslims killed in operations "martyrs." It also means targeting Western non-combatants which, thankfully, does indeed repulse most Western Muslims youths attracted to AQ out of the usual teen alienation made worse for immigrants.

So, AQ's primary tactic, their only strategic option, has made AQ self-liquidating in that operations designed to achieve the AQ strategy ultimately lead to less support for AQ. The launching of the crusade against the far enemy in 1998 has had the effect of lessening their support overall.
So maybe, despite the seeming momentum of the Jihad, there is actually no future for terrorist organizations that cannot take a state over. Maybe there is a natural limit that makes these movement self-liquidating if all they can do is raise the tempo of nihilistic killing. Maybe that is why nation states still matter. Because the ultimate trump card the U.S. holds over AQ is that if AQ ever got a state, then we have an address and they are literally toast. In order not lose operational momentum, AQ increasingly turned to spectacular attacks to keep their brand alive. This allowed the nihilists – like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq, the Taliban, or Algerian jihadists – to take control, all of which led to operations that end up hurting AQ, and liquidating their support.

Separately, another huge problem for us in the war is that we have been so successful that people just don't know how successful we've actually been. In other words, it is the problem that Nassim Taleb calls "silent evidence." Since we have no evidence for things which did not happen because of our success, the thousands of us now alive because of our success cannot know that thousands of us – in an alternative reality – could have been killed by AQ. So, the absence of evidence is seen as evidence of absence, which provides people with (ironically) a reduced sense of risk. People look at AQ's failure to attack in the US, or the small nature of the European attacks, as proof that AQ represents no threat rather than our success in dealing with the threat. Therefore, ergo, Bush is an idiot, he overhyped the threat and Cheney is the devil, etc...

One more point. In the article is quote from a former Jihadist:

"Hanif Qadir, now 42, revealed to us that he himself was recruited by Al Qaeda after the U.S. overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Jihadist recruiters in east London, no doubt noting wealth, sought out Qadir, who had earned enough money running a car repair shop to buy a Rolls-Royce and live in some style. "The guy who handled me was a Syrian called Abu Sufiyan. ... I'm sure he was from Al Qaeda," recalls Qadir. "He was good at telling you what you wanted to hear ... he touched all my emotional buttons." Qadir agreed to join. He drew up a will and, in December 2002, bought a first-class ticket to Pakistan. But, as the truck he was in crossed the dirt roads into Afghanistan, a chance occurrence changed his life: A truck, carrying wounded fighters, approached them from the other direction. Among them was a young Punjabi boy whose white robes were stained with blood. "These are evil people," another of the wounded shouted. "[W]e came here to fight jihad, but they are just using us as cannon fodder." Qadir's truckload of wannabe jihadists made a u-turn. "That kid, he was like an angel. He kicked me back into reality," recalls Qadir. "When I landed back in the U.K., I wanted to find [the Al Qaeda recruiters] and cut their heads off."
Is this the "George Orwell in Spain" moment where the idealist comes face to face with the true nasty nature of Jihad just like Orwell learned the true Stalinist nature of the communist army in Spain?

Finally, there is this paragraph:
"In December, Al Qaeda's campaign of violence reached new depths in the eyes of many Muslims, with a plot to launch attacks in Saudi Arabia while millions were gathered for the Hajj. Saudi security services arrested 28 Al Qaeda militants in Mecca, Medina, and Riyadh, whose targets allegedly included religious leaders critical of Al Qaeda, among them the Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abd Al Aziz Al Sheikh, who responded to the plot by ruling that Al Qaeda operatives should be punished by execution, crucifixion, or exile. Plotting such attacks during the Hajj could not have been more counterproductive to Al Qaeda's cause, says Abdullah Anas, who was making the pilgrimage to Mecca himself. "People over there ... were very angry. The feeling was, how was it possible for Muslims to do that? I still can't quite believe it myself. The mood was one of shock, real shock."

Yes, shock indeed. It is OK to kill the kuffar in his own lands but to attack the holy of holies, not to mention the leaders of the faithful, well that is a whole other matter. It also shows the desperation of AQ which generates the logic of trying to spark maximum disorder, if not the domination of AQ by the nihilists and psychopaths, of which Ayman Zawirhi must surely be one. The risk with trying to spark maximum disorder to "speed up history" (as the commies would say) is that if it backfires, leading to self-liquidation, as it speeds up disillusionment with the cause, as more see it for what it really is, that is a nihilistic destructive force, not liberation of a return to the roots of Islam.

5/23/2008 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Basically, the left media wants us to believe that there wasn't much fight in these guys to begin with -- that they just got lucky a dozen or so times. So everything The Bush Administration has done is an over reaction to not much of a threat. Or a crime.

Certainly that "we will stop after one more operation" horse shit fits the bill. In fact, it is much more likely they had other terror cells in the US whose key members got swept up after 9/11 -- by our fast acting fascist Attorney General John Ashcroft. God bless him. (Have I given any liberals the vapors?)

5/23/2008 07:54:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Bin Laden was right. The great prize was always Pakistan with nukes. Access to nukes without responsibility (not control of Pakistan's state) allows AQ to kill US cities at will.

Iran's nukes only make that possibility worse, as do other proliferating nations.

Osama saw correctly the weakness politically within the West to confront aggressive attacks against it. Politically, too many groups wielding power will lose too much in fighting back. Therefore, he knew he could expect concessions after concessions. No attack would be too great to produce any real consequence.

True, AQ has lost people in Iraq's meatgrinder, and Afghanistan. But they've gained Pakistan's tribal areas and likely, access to it's nukes. More than an acceptable trade-off and victory in Iraq is at hand if Obama wins. Indeed AQ's strategy of using Western weakness, political disunity, and the desire of Western power centers not to cede power to men in the Pentagon, uniform, or police buildings was well understood by Osama.

Bin Laden was trained as a civil engineer, and made his career as a terrorist understanding organization's weak points and exploiting them. Don't forget he understood killing Azzam and his sons would give him control over AQ's precursor organization. Other than the Azzam family there was no one to oppose him. He's good at spotting weak points. Raised in the nightmare polygamist household that was his father's, with three other women as wives and umpteen concubines producing 27 siblings, he would naturally have a close, detailed understanding of power and factions and weak points.

5/23/2008 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Not a whole lotta talkin' goin on here, eh (The Unraveling):

"Qadir agreed to join. He drew up a will and, in December 2002, bought a first-class ticket to Pakistan. But, as the truck he was in crossed the dirt roads into Afghanistan, a chance occurrence changed his life: A truck, carrying wounded fighters, approached them from the other direction. Among them was a young Punjabi boy whose white robes were stained with blood. "These are evil people," another of the wounded shouted. "[W]e came here to fight jihad, but they are just using us as cannon fodder." Qadir's truckload of wannabe jihadists made a u-turn. "That kid, he was like an angel. He kicked me back into reality," recalls Qadir. "When I landed back in the U.K., I wanted to find [the Al Qaeda recruiters] and cut their heads off."

Jihadists returning with parts missing had a far greater affect than sending Bill Richardson to tea with the Taliban.

5/23/2008 08:10:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/23/2008 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

I think most liberals will hear that Bin Laden said, "I have one more operation {against the US}, and after that I will quit" and believe it without question. Their immediate thought: "See! Nothing George Bush did kept us safe!"

Because while George Bush constantly lies, Benotman would not lie to us and Bin Laden would not lie to him. And, after Ameri-k-k-k-a's chickens have finally come home to roast, the world could just have a wonderful barbecue.

But if there is another attack it's because of George Bush's chicken exports. Got it?

5/23/2008 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Whiskey,

Benotman had the measure of America.

Like Yamamoto before him.

Al Qaeda is being corralled in an impoverished, corrupt, and isolated region of Pakistan. They are expending enormous resources to simply survive. To al Qaeda this has been a Total War. And, to top it off they are contained in a region that doesn’t have the scientific or infrastructure resources necessary to build or sustain a nuke.

But, for arguments sake, let us assume they get a nuke.

Now what and where.

Benotman is still right. Whatever single target they attempt to obliterate will result in complete regional subjugation – at best. Regional annihilation a distinct possibility.

5/23/2008 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Fen said...

Now what and where.

Yemeneese freighter off the NE seaboard or Gulf of Mexico.

Whatever single target they attempt to obliterate will result in complete regional subjugation – at best.

Assuming you can trace the fingerprint back to them with the 100% certainty required for retaliation.

Think outside the box, people. Our enemies are not stupid, they have studied our methods and countermeasures. They won't be charging into the Maginot line.

5/23/2008 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger RDS said...

with the 100% certainty required for retaliation.

We get out of that box by not requiring 100% certainty. I'd demand casting the net wide enough to be sure the perps were in there somewhere.

Unfair, yes, but under the circumstances I wouldn't care; that's the whole point of the Three Conjectures!

5/23/2008 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

More tips from America's premier relationship expert:

Dear Barry:

I try to get along with the people in my neighborhood, but sometimes it can be difficult. Take for example my neighbor "Mahmoud." Last weekend while I was seeding my lawn, he drove back and forth slowly in front of my house "flipping the bird" from his minivan, which is painted with pictures of bloody corpses and mushroom clouds and "welcome 12th Imam." Normally I wouldn't have given it a second thought (I get "fingered" by a lot of the neighbors), but lately I've noticed he has been working on some kind of secret project in his garage with really stinky chemicals. Also, I've been getting these constant annoying 3 AM phone calls threatening to kill my kids.

Frankly, I'm sort of worried about the situation, but even the neighbors I get along with tell me I shouldn't jump to conclusions, and not to make a big deal of it. I don't want to make waves, but I also don't want to end up like the Goldbergs who had their house burned down last week. Am I being too much of a "worry wart"? Please help!

Concerned in Northbrook

Dear Concerned:

Misunderstanding and mistrust is a two-way street, and it's important to ask yourself: what did I do to create this situation? Without thinking, sometimes the things we do can understandably trigger homicidal rage in our friends and neighbors. Put the shoe on the other foot -- how would you like it if you had a neighbor who was always showing you up with his big gas-guzzling SUV and manicured hedges?

Before things escalate further, you should take the initiative and invite Mahmoud over for coffee and chit chat. No preconditions, and maybe you could bring a pie from Bakers Square. While he is enjoying a delicious slice of Boston Cream, let Mahmoud know that you understand his feelings, and you will do whatever it takes to repair your tattered reputation in the neighborhood. As a show of good faith, why not offer him a few bags of fertilizer and fuel for his lawn mower?

5/23/2008 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Fen said...

/Neighbor in question responds:

Dear Barry

We’re not fighting so that you’ll offer us something, we’re fighting to eliminate you

5/23/2008 11:54:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Capture the Flag

Dear Reader,

Frank Foer is a brilliant editor, and I am reminded of that simple fact every time I pick up The New Republic.

In a certain sense, this issue is a prototypical one: literate, scalpel intelligent, timely, provocative, a pleasure to read and to look at, memorable. You will carry its articles and insights in your head for weeks and months. So let me brief you on the highlights:

The main protagonist in this number of TNR is Barack Obama. Our editorial tells you why we like the unconventional Obama, the patriotic Obama whose unifying words evoked from his listeners the chanting of "USA! USA!" This hasn't happened with a Democratic crowd and a Democratic candidate for president in decades.

Capture the Flag

5/24/2008 12:20:00 AM  
Blogger Handsome Hu said...

Could the SCO take care of the Pakistan problem before NATO does? The SCO might not be too fond of NATO nuking that area. The NATO presence is encroaching across Eurasia, picking off countries and gathering them to its Western bosom. China and India could probably cleanse Pakistan and bring it back online into a vibrant south asian country.

There is always the option that Barack Obama will win them over after he scuttles every carrier group in the mediterranean to fuel coral population growth, no?

5/24/2008 01:09:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Hdgreene: Basically, the left media wants us to believe that there wasn't much fight in these guys to begin with -- that they just got lucky a dozen or so times.

Well what does Osama bin Laden say about this?

"We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all...due to my experience in this field, I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only. This is all that we had hoped for."

5/24/2008 02:26:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

And now, because it is difficult for Al Qaeda to send Middle Eastern passport holders to the United States, the organization has particularly targeted radicalized Muslims in Britain for recruitment.

What? Why would Osama send radicalized British Muslims to the US? Surely not for operations! I mean, he promised 9/11 would be the last! Only 10 paragraphs up in the article. Man, what did George Bush do? And how'd he do it so quick?

Now because of the "Shrub" we got to be on the watch for radicalized British Muslims. This will further lower us in the world's esteem. We better just give up. I got one word: Obama. It's all we need to know. Obama. He'll fix the Fix.

5/24/2008 04:52:00 AM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

As a jihadist, I have a question for you experts in military psychodrama:

As the TNR article shows, our biggest weakness is disunity. We can't seem to keep the radical Islamic factions on the same page with us, let alone draw moderate Muslims to our movement.

Do you have any ideas or suggestion about how the U.S. could possibly help unite radical Muslims and, more important, help us radicals recruit moderates?

5/24/2008 07:30:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"They should have waited for the people we've been waiting for."

Like BARAKA HUSSEIN OBAMA, the Jr.

5/24/2008 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

McDaddyo,

I would start with ejecting the DailyKos fagots back to Saudia.

5/24/2008 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

their retrospective regrets

I wonder how many of the jihadist warriors who met in Afghanistan with bin Laden are still alive. Surely most of them are dead if they remained on any battleground in the Middle East, and didn't flee to safety alongside Mookie and the other Saudi princes.

* * *

Fen still doesn't understand that when/if the Muslim fanatics attack American soil again, all bets -- and all rules -- are off. We are fighting a war the likes of which has never been fought before, and we must get used to the idea of making up new rules to do it with.

Bush has been trying mightily for seven years now to avoid genocide, to give the Muslims a chance to grow up and act like adults.

If we are attacked again, we would be damned fools if we don't annihilate the entire region and all its inhabitants, in self defense -- "obliterate" to use a candidate's term. For they will have proven beyond a doubt that they are incapable of maturity, honesty or of reining in their own bad guys.

The question after the flames of hell are rained down upon Riyadh, Tehran, Damascus, et al, will be what do we do with our internal Muslims who have moved here and are living amongst us without having integrated themselves (and yes, here I include Iraq because I'm not convinced that that country has come over to the side of the Force).

I would give American Muslims the choice of either converting and NOT being a Muslim any more, or of leaving. I don't really care where they go to, but I don't want them in our country any more -- they bring absolutely nothing to the party and I haven't seen one scintilla of sign that they will ever be able to.

I'd be very surprised if any other country other than places like Burma, North Korea, Zimbabwe, or Colombia would accept them either. In that case, they can have their very own island in the Pacific. But they have to leave -- or convert -- or die.

5/24/2008 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

nahncee,

Ok, and I suppose you have some evidence that we aren't damned fools? We'd all love to see that...

5/24/2008 11:19:00 AM  
Blogger Katchoo said...

Nahncee: I would give American Muslims the choice of either converting and NOT being a Muslim any more, or of leaving. I don't really care where they go to, but I don't want them in our country any more...they can have their very own island in the Pacific. But they have to leave -- or convert -- or die.

Well, it looks like we've got us a distaff version of Habu here. Let me introduce you to the Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment XIV, Section 1:

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

That means: Daydream all you want, you don't get to force a religious conversion on US citizens, nor deport them, nor kill them outright unless they are convicted of a capital crime.

5/24/2008 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

The terrifying possibility which almost no one wants to face is whether or not America has acquired a generational or even an eternal enemy in Islam. I don't know this is the case, but the idea of something eternally burning in hate towards America and all it stands for is so alien to its psychology as to seem unnatural.

That's why Barack Obama -- or someone like Barack Obama -- will inevitably be thrown up time and again by the political system. Because the idea of an "eternal enemy" so beggars the imagination there's always going to be the hope that if one is conciliatory enough the world can be returned to its "why can't we all get along" state. A world in which there are conflicts, but nothing that can't be solved by a short war or two and a few postwar conferences at the United Nations.

But like some long forgotten spirit liberated by the excavation of its ruined temple, Islam presents the the possibility of an eternal enemy. In this nightmare scenario, a moribund Islam, shriveled by history into mummification by the doctrines of the Prophet, has acquired new energy from its sudden exposure to globalization; and as a horror movie monster is reanimated by exposure to the air, Islam, flush on oil and empowered by devices it has whose principles it has not the foggies awareness, walks the earth anew.

The recent Pakistani "peace deal" with the Taliban cedes its the tribal population to Sharia Law, where "militants" have the legal right to stop girls going to school and legitimizes attacks on barbers who shave beards. Left to itself, Islam will transport itself into the Stone Age with its built in entropy. And if Afghanistan lay on some inaccessible plain like a lost world, which it was before the infidel invented the commercial jetliner to London, it would soon return to its self-induced stupor.

But with Globalization to furnish the free energy Islam has remembered its mission to dominate the world. It is a desire which is built into its meme, and has been reawakened principally by oil. Where do you suppose a Taliban which has consciously condemned half its population to perpetual illiteracy and ignorance will continue to get money to buy ammunition, explosives and weapons? By robbing the infidel of course, be he Christian, Hindu, atheist or Jew. Or trading in his blasphemous cities and earning money thereby.

But this possibility of eternal enmity is not written. It is not fated. One thousand two hundred years is a long time. But is far from an eternity. In a sense the impulse that brings forward an Obama which the refusal to accept an "eternal enemy" is the only hope that we have. But only if the Obamas are consciously aware they are a Forlorn Hope, a term applied to the leading troops storming a great fortress who hope to succeed by expect to fail.

For the Muslims themselves the "eternal enemy" problem takes on another aspect. Benotman, as described in the TNR article, is depressed by the possibility that radical Islam may be the eternal enemy of the Muslims themselves. He recoils from its tendency to unbounded violence. The massacres that radical Islam -- the "hundreds of thousands" of victims they decry -- has perpetrated in Algeria, Iraq, Afghanistan and all over the Middle East upon Muslims themselves, are at the heart of the Jihadi revolt against al-Qaeda.

Controlling the malignant spirit; the "management of barbarism" presents Benotman with problems. It's not that Benotman cares a fig for the infidel. But he cares about his own. And the hard reality, which he should have known from watching Frankenstein movies is that a monster once reanimated goes off killing its own master. Today New York; tomorrow Mecca. The radical Saudi cleric denounced Bin Laden because his own Haj was in the crosshairs of the man some intellectuals in the West perversely continue to admire. The radical Saudi cleric had more primitive sense, at least. But I digress.

The defeat of al-Qaeda is unlikely to spell the end of radical Islam. But it will probably guarantee another mutation. The radicals will have learned not to challenge the military strength of the infidel directly. Bin Laden's defeat is Islam's strategic gain. It has learned from it. In the process of learning what fails it has also learned what works; it will have discovered from the abject behavior of the Western intelligensia and that society's continual attempts to conciliate even with that which bites of the extended handshake, that it can catch more flies with a drop of politically correct honey than barrelful of Jihadi vinegar.

I fully expect lawfare, Islamic media acquisitions, proselytization within prisons, and political efforts to take over where Bin Laden leaves off.

Is that a victory for the moderates? The question is whether this change of tactics will in itself mutate the memetic structure of the beast. Whether an Islam that substitutes cunning argument for guns ultimately poisons itself and becomes degenerate, as Bolshevism did when it engaged in the "legal struggle". When politicians become as influential as imams a rivalry ensues. Cui bono? The dreaming West? Or Islam?

I'm not sure there are answers. But the curtain raiser is over. I am unsure whether any of us will live long enough to watch the final act.

5/24/2008 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I should add that to date Obama seems to lack any awareness of being the Forlorn Hope; that is not the part he wants to play. Rather he expects to disarm Islam with the sheer wonderfulness of his personality. Nothing is so chilling to me as his phrase "we are the people we've been waiting for" because it underscores the fatal narcissism of a messianic campaign. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

5/24/2008 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I forgot to mention why I thought the concept of an "eternal enemy" was so anathema to American thought. It was this very concept of the permanent foe that impelled to flee from the Old World into the New. America was where all men could be brothers. There was no Eternal Enemy. And for a long while the Oceans provided the isolation within which alabaster cities could be built "undimmed by human tears".

Islam has the potential to destroy the American dream of universal brotherhood. How can there be a universal brotherhood on a planet condemned to a struggle between the ummah and the infidel for as long as it lasted or the last infidel stamped out?

Therefore the existence of such implacability is literally unthinkable to many. In a sense Islam has met its final challenge in the American dream. The one refuses the possibility of friendship; the other the possibility of endless enmity. Quite a match.

5/24/2008 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law

Give 'em a fair trial, convict them of advocating the overthrow of the Constitution, kick 'em out.

5/24/2008 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

W: In a sense Islam has met its final challenge in the American dream. The one refuses the possibility of friendship; the other the possibility of endless enmity.

You betray a simple nativism by such remarks. 45 years ago people wondered if JFK would act in American interests or take orders from the Pope instead. Blacks couldn't sit where they wanted on a bus, and now we are very close to having a black sit in the Oval Office. History proves there is no endless emnity, and isolated anecdotes notwithstanding, the naysayers have yet to show a systematic anti-Americanism among US muslims. Most of them just go to work, pay their taxes, mow their lawns, and hope for a better future for the next generation.

5/24/2008 03:48:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Wretchard, the social dynamics of Islam guarantee an "Eternal Enemy." One that will never go away.

As you note, globalization brings wealth and direct connection between America and the West, and very socially backward, previously isolated places like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi, and so on.

Islam *IS* under the profound cultural threat of Western Individualism. Which erodes it's tribal basis. Can't have freedom of individuals with a tribal society.

Much of the struggle is that any contact with Islam at all brings that corrosive acid of modernity, and guarantees a Jihad.

Islam cannot accept anything less than "the Green Flag of Islam" flying over the White House. With Sharia and so on enforced in America. Anything less guarantees an eternal enemy.

So attacks will go on, and on, and on. Attrition strategies designed to break American will, and one that Obama encapsulates (surrender to Islam now). Many in the elite would see no real difference in a "deal" where America apologizes for it's existence, throws Israel off to be nuked, and allows Sharia for Muslims in the US. This is Obama's appeal and his program. But that will not satisfy Muslims because the cause: Western Individualism as a threat, and to be fair advantage gained by raiding the wealthy West, will still be there.

Muslims cannot produce wealth on their own because their societies cannot produce the type of social setting that produces men that produce wealth. No Toyotas, Hondas, Sonys, Apple Computer, Microsoft, Yahoo, Southwest Airlines, etc. have sprung up in any Muslim nation. All young Muslim men can do to advance themselves is raid the infidel. Use violence to extract wealth and concessions (same thing). What, people expected anything else?

So Obama will offer an American Surrender, on "nice" terms because he believes the surrender won't matter much. That America is so mighty nothing really can threaten it and it deserves to be defeated anyway (given his sympathies for Islam as a former Muslim and anti-American radical).

It probably won't matter because he's unlikely to win. If he did, he'd provoke through weakness even more attacks. America would lose several cities, and throw Obama over. And would do some terrible things in survival mode. It would not be pretty.

[Much of the PC-driven appeasement is in fact due to an accurate power-appraisal that any real attempt to combat Jihad will marginalize groups that wield considerable power. Some groups will have far less power and others more. Political losers include gays, minorities, women and feminists (agreed not the same thing), Leftists, various Professors, and the Media-Entertainment nexus.

The universal, visceral, and pronounced hatred for any attempt to fight back at 9/11 expressed that day and onwards by these groups is likely due to the very accurate prediction that fighting back will marginalize them. This explains Moveon.org's marches through Manhattan, days after 9/11, opposing any action in Afghanistan.]

5/24/2008 03:57:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

You didn't read the post. It is Americans who do not accept the possibility of eternal enmity. The default attitude is that American Muslims "just go to work, pay their taxes, mow their lawns, and hope for a better future for the next generation".

What the War on Terror has called into question, what is still unresolved, is whether this optimistic attitude is true. Radical Islam maintains it is not true: it believes in permanent enmities, that there is only endless conflict between the House of Islam and the House of the Infidel.

So you have got it exactly backwards.

5/24/2008 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Let me introduce you to the Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment XIV, Section 1:

Katchoo, what YOU do not understand is that, unlike the Koran, the American Constitution is not written in stone. It can be changed. Amended even.

Do you really think that if another American city is attacked, that a Constitutional amendment declaring that "No Muslims will be allowed in America" would not be passed unanimously except for the ACLU, the Mexicans and whatever small percentage of Muslims we currently have trying to overthrow our government?

And I'll bet even most of the Mexicans would vote for such an amendment once it was translated for them.

I just don't understand people who think we'll continue to play by the same rules as we've been playing the past 200 years. Geez, man, start to think outside the envelope, you sanctimonious little twit!

5/24/2008 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Nahncee: Do you really think that if another American city is attacked, that a Constitutional amendment declaring that "No Muslims will be allowed in America" would not be passed unanimously...

The purpose of terrorism is to scare people into doing just that...overreact, and change their way of life. But this is the Home of the Brave. Perhaps it is you who should consider moving.

I just don't understand people who think we'll continue to play by the same rules as we've been playing the past 200 years.

I can guarantee that terrorism won't change America into becoming the opposite of what she has always been, but I cannot promise that individual Americans will be frightened by terrorism into calling for the very fascism they want us to morph into by attacking us.

5/24/2008 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

The Europeans, who know all about "eternal enmity" are beginning to respond in traditional ways, albeit on the margins In the Italian city of Verona a "right wing" government has ordered a mosque bulldozed and named the resulting site the "Oriana Fallaci Memorial" parking lot.

Bulldozers brought down last week a building housing a Muslim prayer room in the city.

"I never felt at ease with this mosque," Elisonder Antonneli, the head of Verona city council, said.

"This place will be turned into a park and a car parking space and will be named after (Italian writer) Oriana Fallaci."


This is what happens in a world of "eternal enmities". Eventually things become recast as a fight to the death. The Islamic world knows all about death matches. Unfortunately for them, so does Europe. And if things go far enough Islam will discover that if the Europeans could gas white people and stuff them into crematoria, it can do it Muslims. But not yet. Sanity still prevails.

It's appropriate to remember, on Memorial Day, that the World War 2 generation fought to end that way of doing business. The real danger is that radical Islam, by its sheer perverse intransigence, will singlehandedly resuscitate the murderous ideas of the 20th century from the "dustbin of history".

I remember wondering, after September 11, whether Osama Bin Laden's attack was subconsciously a cry for help. If Osama's attack were driven by mere hate, why not attack Moscow or China or Israel? After all, they've been fighting those societies for a long time. If they wanted to fight why not fight their tormentors instead of their objective friends. Why attack America when the US was the Pakistan's ally against India; the KSA's savior and the only thing that stood between the Kosovars and the avenging Serbs? Why attack America? And maybe the reason is that if they had struck Moscow the Russians would have obliged hate for hate. The Kaaba would now be a glass pit. Ditto Beijing and probably ditto Tel Aviv. So why Manhattan? Because something something else is going on.

Islam is stuck in this "conquer the world" rut. And the only power which might plausibly choose to help reform it instead destroying it is the United States.

Osama doesn't believe in Allah. Deep down inside he believes in the USA.

5/24/2008 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger PapaBear said...

Let me introduce you to the Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment XIV, Section 1:

There is a precedent, although from the 19th Century: Missouri's Executive Order 44, also known as the "extermination order" against the Mormons

5/24/2008 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

That's a good example. And after one or more or our cities is laid waste a similar bill will pass, and in a hundred years it will be rescinded.

The Mormons over the years have decided to live within the society, not apart from it or against it. Their book doesn't call for an everlasting jihad against the other folks.

Being pushed west may have been a blessing in disguise. The Mormons have propered, bless them.

5/24/2008 06:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"The purpose of terrorism is to scare people into doing just that...overreact, and change their way of life."

Terrorism is warfare. Your statement above serving as taqqiyya (another form of jihadi warfare) for the purpose of this warfare.

5/24/2008 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

W: Islam is stuck in this "conquer the world" rut. And the only power which might plausibly choose to help reform it instead destroying it is the United States. Osama doesn't believe in Allah. Deep down inside he believes in the USA.

Uh, no.

It was strategic. Osama wanted to ensnare the US in Afghanistan just like the Soviet Union. He was deceived by Clinton's tepid response to the two African embassy bombings and the USS Cole, not to mention the apparent inability of the US to go to war in the Middle-East without 50 nations combined into a "coalition". He forgot he was dealing with the world's sole superpower.

5/24/2008 06:53:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Why are people still making distinctions like "radical Islam" vs. Islam? They are one and the same, if you read the Islamic scriptures and ahadith. The REAL distinction is this:

The "good" Muslims are the ones most faithful to the traditional cult of Allah, articulated by Muhammad.

The "bad" Muslims are the ones who are what could be called "cultural Muslims." That is to say, the either reject the jihad or are not truly educated enough about their cult to know that there is such a things as: jihad, kafir, taqiyya, hudna, etc. The "bad" Muslims are not our enemies, but potentially they could be, if the spirit moves them to embrace their culture and traditions more enthusiastically.

Islam will always be there. The words of Allah are eternal, uncreated, perfect, and need no interpretation. This is an eternal enemy - the concept that many Westerners just cannot wrap their minds around. They cannot wrap their brains around it, and they project on to this enemy OUR possible motivations and psychological profiles, never taking seriously the fact that these people ARE different.

5/24/2008 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger BrianFH said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/24/2008 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger BrianFH said...

Wretchard;
Your scenario that describes possible "victory for the moderates" is actually "victory BY the moderates".

Islam offers kafirs 3 choices:

1) Conversion
2) Submission (People of the Book only are eligible, dhimmitude and escalating taxes unto extinction)
3) Death.

Moderates give you somewhat longer to choose. But only somewhat longer.

5/24/2008 09:18:00 PM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

The best part about "permanent" war is that it virtually guarantees Republican political dominance.

Without an implacable, evil, scheming enemy, the GOP has little political appeal.

In our lifetimes, Democrats have won the White House only at moments when the "permant war'' concept has receded. Carter won right after Nixon's lying treachery on Vietnam and Cambodia had freshly been exposed and every fourth of fifth college student knew someone who didn't come back from the war, or came back crippled in one way or another.

Clinton won after communism collapsed so spectacularly on its own contradictions that not even the GOP whip up the threat enough to make their "we're tough minded" narrative work.

The Republican brand has become contaminated of late because its long history of starting 3rd-world wars to shore up its political base finally arrived where it was headed: at a war that could not be quickly and easily won.

The 40 percent or so of Americans who have gone from supporting the war to opposing it are the key swing voters who thought it was going to be just like El Salvador, or Panama, or Grenada, or, even, the first Gulf War. Tens of thousands of dead Iraqis a couple hundred of U.S. causalties--mostly accidental. Lots of cool news reporters about the U.S. taking things over with little resistence and saving people from themselves and their dicators. Then, a bigass tickertape parade when it's all done in a few months.

Americans love a good quick, easy war for sure, but they have no time for one that actually involves getting Americans killed and that isn't over in time for a nice spring parade to celebrate the victory of a fall attack.

Where does that leave the Republicans?

Desperately in search of a new Cold War. The beauty of the war against the Soviets was that almost all the killing and dying was of Third World people. We just spent the money, a good portion of which was simply returned to both political parties in the terms of donations from military contractors.

As long as Americans didn't have to actually fight and die and as long as economic growth didn't stall for too long, permanent war against the godless communists was marketing gold for the Republicans.

Wretchard's ''endless war'' may be risibly simplistic in terms of its view of Islam, but he is right on the money in terms of formulating a new post-Iraq Republican rhetoric.

5/25/2008 03:10:00 AM  
Blogger Katchoo said...

BrianFH:

Islam offers kafirs 3 choices:

1) Conversion
2) Submission (People of the Book only are eligible, dhimmitude and escalating taxes unto extinction)
3) Death.


Most of the world is confused these days, trying to figure out what is happening and why the Muslims won't see reason. Christians, however, can turn to the scriptures to see what is going on all around them.


Revelation 6:1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.


World War III, a war between Christianity and radicalized Islam which began in 1979 with the fall of the Shah in Iran and escalated in 9-11, will continue to spread. This follows the opening of the first of the Seven Seals.

Revelation 6:3-4 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

During this war, which will rage for decades, sleeper cells in Europe and America will stir up civil disorder and violence. This follows the opening of the second Seal.

Revelation 6:5-6 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

An embargo on oil by the Muslim countries will cause the west to fall back on biofuels, which means they will snap up anything that grows for fuel. As a result, the developing world will suffer a terrible famine. This follows the opening of the third Seal.

Revelation 6:7-8 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

The war climaxes with the Arab victory over the decadent west. One fourth of the earth's population dies as Islam takes control. This follows the opening of the fourth seal.

Revelation 6: 9-11 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.


Christians who refuse to renounce their Lord are put to death by Islamic courts in a pogrom that makes the Holocaust pale in comparison. The souls of these Christian martrys cry out for justice in heaven, and they are told to wait a while more. This follows the fifth seal.

Revelation 6:12-16 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

The Islamic World Order is given a final warning with signs in heaven and earthquakes and other calamities so severe that men seek safety in bunkers deep under the mountains. This follows the opening of the sixth seal. As a result of all these signs, many Jews come to know Jesus as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. They will be numbered and sealed, along with an undisclosed number of gentile Christians from every nation. They will witness the final judgments of the world, but will not be harmed by them. The opening of the seventh seal heralds the beginning of this judgment.

5/25/2008 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"Wretchard's ''endless war'' may be risibly simplistic in terms of its view of Islam, but he is right on the money in terms of formulating a new post-Iraq Republican rhetoric."


This is why I advocate using nuclear weapons to deal with the Islamers. Then the GOP can focus on the real issue of the day, like the infestation of DailyKos fags along with other leftist retards.

5/25/2008 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Where does that leave the Republicans?

I have thought for both the last election and the coming one that whichever candidate and/or party would step up to the late and promise to rid us of our illegals would win. It's an issue that crosses party lines, and is damned near the litmus test that abortion used to be.

Instead, the Democrats especially are running voter registration antics, trying to get illegals to vote FOR them in addition to their historic dead people's vote, Bush has a sister-in-law wetback, and McCain wants to legalize them and swear them in as citizens so they can bring their thundering herds of relatives to join them here in el norte.

This is not acceptable ... none of it.

5/25/2008 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

Good grief, Katchoo, that was a sneeze.
---
Nahncee, we're in a hell of a bind. The two worst candidates on that issue, in the two major parties. Tatally disheartening. I long for the good old days of "Operation Wetback."

5/25/2008 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Elijah said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/25/2008 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger Elijah said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/25/2008 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

``What about internal enemies?''

Good point. Another benefit of having an "eternal enemy'' is that you can label dissenters "enemies.''

That way, you don't have to engage in rational discussions about the costs versus benefits of military aggression relative to diplomacy. Rather, anyone who opposes military aggression is by definition an "enemy.''

This worked well in the Cold War and the GOP has little choice but to hammer away trying to make it work again.

Trouble is, too many Americans are dying in Iraq and the economy has gone a little to far south.

Even those swing voters -- that marginal 40 percent who supported the Iraq war before they opposed it -- woke up to reality when Katrina swamped New Orleans.

For this segment of the population, the game is up. They're asking why we're spending our money to rebuild schools in Iraq when there are plenty of schools and other public facilities that aren't being rebuilt in New Orleans.

I'm not saying that logic is all that sound, but I do know that's been what's souring people on the GOP brand.

Yes, the internal enemy indeed is what the GOP needs.

I'm glad some are looking to the Islamic extremists to provide one, because it just isn't going to happen.

In the Cold War, communism was close enough to socialism to allow for the idea that anyone who called for, say, flouridating water, could be labeled a communist "internal enemy.'' Nixon famously called Head Start "the Sovietization of American education.'' Examples abound and it worked wonders for the GOP politically.

Radical Islam has no such intermediate or nascent projections in American culture, the economy or, certainly, religion.

The internal, "eternal" enemy is who, the ACLU? People who oppose nuking Iran? People who call for jurisprudence and adhering to the constitution?

It's going to be a good decade for liberals.

My prediction is that the GOP will spend the next four or five years floundering around trying to gin up a new Reagan era by ginning up an "eternal" enemy with "internal" "fellow travelers."

It won't work, though, as Islam is simply too powerless, divided, unappealing and conservative to provide a credible threat over time.

Eventually, the Republican will do what the Tory party has done of late in the UK. It will turn, as David Brooks suggests, to using government to efficiently solve problems, while fending off the idea of using government to wage massive social transformations, at home or abroad.

Much as the Democrats transformed themselves by borrowing ideas from the Republicans and, mostly, watering them down, so the Republicans will turn to doing the reverse once they lose two or three elections trying to pretend the war against radical Islam is a new Cold War.

5/25/2008 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"..Islam is simply too powerless, divided, unappealing and conservative to provide a credible threat over time.."

So is the brotherhood of the cockroaches. We all know how that story is supposed to end. I would still use pesticide, regardless.

5/25/2008 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

"Islam has the potential to destroy the American dream of universal brotherhood. How can there be a universal brotherhood on a planet condemned to a struggle between the ummah and the infidel for as long as it lasted or the last infidel stamped out?"

Until recently, we have not attempted to impose or impress any of the fundamentals of universal brotherhood on Islamic peoples. If what we are about in Iraq is successful, if similar strategies can succeed in Afghanistan... Ultimately the problem of radical Islam becomes Islam's problem not merely because they are killing other Muslims', but because they are an embarrassment to humanity, a threat to security and an impediment to economy. So long as Pakistani leadership is merely embarrassed by the extremists the measures necessary to free their societies of the scourge will not be undertaken. The problem is more a matter of getting other Muslims to enjoy and embrace the freedoms of the west as well as our self evident rights.

We've only just begun and yet have been made tremendous progress. It is a long term struggle, and a long term solution that is not simple and is not easy but holds out the best chance for success without complete annihilation of the species and sans total destruction of the planet (or even anything considerably short of that).

If you do not believe that democracy as practiced in our representative democracy and supported by our core cultural and normative values works, then you probably will have difficulty believing that anyone else can make it work either. We will shortly have to determine whether the nation in we live, is worth the effort. We will have to determine whether or not we really believe in the raison d'etre of the United States of America, and not in some corporate or bureaucratic governing entity. We will have to make our decision known, without a doubt, without being misinterpreted or misquote or misled. As simple as that sounds, that will be harder to accomplish than defeating Islamic extremists like Al Qaeda or the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Council.

I think defeating radical Islam will be nearly impossible unless we can agree on and believe in the founding principles of the USA.

5/25/2008 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Going into this current confrontation, we were informed by the Islamists (including "moderate" Muslims) that they would surely win because while they were willing to fight and die for their cause, all the West was willing to do was to sit in front of a TV set and eat potato chips. That we must ultimate fail because we weren't willing to commit suicide like they are.

In the past seven years, we have risen up and said, "au contraire" and proven that we are equally willing to fight for our concept of freedom and although we are reluctant to die for it, we will if we must.

This, I think, has come as something of a shock to all Muslims, moderates included. The question then becomes, who is more willing to fight and die for a concept, and to make the other poor dumb bastard die even faster and in greater numbers to win?

(We are also told that Islam must eventally win because of the numerical superiority of them breeding more babies. Given that they seem to be breeding idiots and other major birth defects, the numerical superiority seems to be cancelling itself out.

Arabs keep wanting to "build bridges" of understanding to the West. I can't wait for the first huggy feely Western outreach program: "Adopt an Arab Mongoloid".)

5/25/2008 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Elijah said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/25/2008 06:58:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

But, as noted one of the last paragraphs, they haven't converted to moderate islam. Hence our dilemma, to defeat Al Queda, we have to ally with and let into our bosom the serpant that will eventually strike at us. It is folly to allow the Muslim Brotherhood to achieve the victory that eludes Al Queda.

5/26/2008 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

NahnCee wrote:

"I have thought for both the last election and the coming one that whichever candidate and/or party would step up to the late and promise to rid us of our illegals would win."

I guess Mugabe is the candidate for you.

5/26/2008 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

McDaddyo wrote of Internal enemies:

"It won't work, though, as Islam is simply too powerless, divided, unappealing and conservative to provide a credible threat over time."

fergit the muzzies, damn the wetbacks! Enemies aplenty to line the cage for the next (post McCain of course) GOP victory.

5/26/2008 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Slaughter now or slaughter later.
Slaughter later = slaughter more.

5/28/2008 04:53:00 AM  

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