Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Prince of Thieves

The Guardian featured an atmospheric piece on how the Prince of Marbella, Monzer al-Kassar, a man on the "Most Wanted" list of Iraq, lived. You could do worse.

The Observer tracked him down to his lavish, 15-suite residence, designed like a Renaissance palazzo overlooking Puerto Banus. Guards swing the gates open to allow guests into the estate, where there is a swimming pool built like a four-leaf clover. Three Spanish mastiffs prowl during the night to deter uninvited guests.

Inside the palace, a grand piano is showcased at the bottom of a marble staircase under a domed skylight. In the grand salon, silk flowers are arranged in a giant Chinese vase in front of a marble fireplace. Statues of servants holding lamps stand before the massive drapes, and on the wall are murals of African servants in turbans, carrying platters of fruit.

Not bad for a man associated with the Achille Laura shipjacking, whose walls are adorned with photographs of him shaking hands with Uday Hussein, members of the Somali Aideed clan, Abu Abbas, up on hashish smuggling charges in the UK, mentioned in connection with Iran-Contra, said to have sold anti-ship missiles to Teheran, and with supposed side businesses supplying terror groups in Latin America and Iran-backed militias. While some might to object to his choice of friends, Monzer al-Kassar is cheerfully broadminded.

Kassar admits that a lifetime in the arms business has led to a variety of acquaintances: 'I met interesting people: good people, bad people. How do I know who's good and who's bad? This is a matter of opinion ... The bad people for you may be the good people for me.'

Who's good and who's bad? If you weren't good to Monzer it was definitely bad for you. The PBS blog tells this droll story of what happened when mere policemen tried to put the collar on the Prince of Marbella.

In 1992, Spain arrested Al Kassar on charges of piracy and providing the arms to the Abu Abbas-led PLF terrorists who hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship and murdered American Leon Klinghoffer. Western intelligence agencies concluded that Al Kassar flew Abbas to safety aboard one of his private planes after the hijackers surrendered. One prosecution witness, Ahmed Al Assadi, while spending time in Vercelli prison for participating in the hijacking, changed his story and refused to go to Spain to identify Al Kassar as the person who supplied the hijackers' weapons. After Al Kassar's arrest, another accuser, Ismail Jalid, fell to his death from a fifth-story window in Marbella, Spain, in what the coroner called "an alcoholic coma." During the 1995 trial, in a highly publicized standoff with police, a third witness's children were kidnapped by Colombian drug traffickers shortly before he testified. The witness blamed Al Kassar, who denied involvement and stated, "I have nothing to do with the kidnapping and I hope that it is over as soon as possible. Children are sacred for Arabs. No one, not even your worst enemy, deserves this." Al Kassar was later acquitted of all charges.

The really interesting thing about the underworld life is how often coincidences routinely happen. How many people do you know who will stagger up from an alcoholic coma and pitch themselves out of five story windows? Fortunately for most of us civilians, there are people who don't believe in coincidences. And a lot of them apparently work at the DEA, who asked themselves, now what kind of person would Monzer al-Kasser hang out with? The answer they came up with was 'the kind of people looking to buy uranium'.

Among the more explosive revelations from the laptops of the late FARC leader Raul Reyes is the allegation that the FARC was trafficking in radioactive materials and according to Colombia’s Vice President was planning to build a “dirty bomb.”

That meant FARC had money to burn, and Monzer was going after some of it. After all, castles in Spain don't come cheap and a man's got to make a living.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s press release, international arms-trafficker extraordinaire Victor Bout was arrested for plotting to sell weapons to the FARC – not knowing that the reputed FARC representatives were in fact working for the DEA. Only nine months ago another notorious international arms dealer, Monzer al-Kasser was arrested for conspiring to sell weapons (and trainers) to the FARC, when in fact the FARC buyers were in fact DEA operatives. For al-Kasser, who has been linked to the Palestine Liberation Front (the group responsible for the Achille Lauro hijacking) as well as leading Baathist figures from Syria and Iraq, it was more than just business. He offered to raise an army to assist the FARC. Al-Kasser seems to have had a passion for his work.

The details of Monzer's tender to FARC make interesting reading. A DEA release is a tale of ships, missiles and mercenaries.

During their consensually recorded meetings, Kassar, Ghazi, and Moreno-Godoy provided the CSs with, among other things: (1) a schematic of the vessel to be used to transport the weapons; (2) specifications for the SAMs they agreed to sell to the FARC; and (3) bank accounts in Spain and Lebanon that were ultimately used to conceal more than $400,000 from DEA undercover accounts that the CSs represented, and Kassar, Ghazi, and Moreno-Godoy believed, were FARC drug proceeds for the weapons deal. During their meetings with the CSs, Kassar, Ghazi, and Moreno-Godoy reviewed Nicaraguan end-user certificates that were used to make the weapons deal appear legitimate. Kassar also promised to provide the FARC with ton-quantities of C4 explosives, as well as expert trainers from Lebanon to teach the FARC how to effectively use C4 and improvised explosive devices (commonly referred to as "IEDs"). In addition, Kassar offered to send a thousand men to fight with the FARC against United States military officers in Colombia.

He offered to supply Strela 2M MANPADs that could be used against US helicopter assets operating in support, presumably, of the Colombian government. FARC is a major insurgency and controls or influences an area larger than some European countries. The DEA documents suggest it was planning some major fireworks. Even so, what developments pushed FARC into planning its buildup just now? Was it fantasy or a serious plan? Had they acquired major new allies internationally or in the region? When Monzer and Bout's trial opens, the public may get to find out.




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42 Comments:

Blogger Wretchard said...

One of the things the otherwise astute Observer correspondent failed to remark upon was the "murals of African servants in turbans". It occured to me that Monzer's painting might actually depict black slaves. The idea is not as far fetched as it seems and came to mind from a recently sent a link to a discussion of the French book Le Génocide Voilé ("Veiled Genocide") on the Arab slave trade. Here's an excerpt:

Because the misery, the poverty, the long demographic stagnation and the current developmental delays of the black continent, are not merely the consequences of the transatlantic slave trade, as many imagine. The transatlantic drain is well known and has been debated for decades. Studies and syntheses on this slave trade are legion. And yet, even though one cannot speak of degrees of horror or a monopoly on cruelty, it is possible to declare that the Negro slave trade and the wars provoked by the Arab-Muslims were, for black Africa through the centuries, much more devastating than the transatlantic trade. Likewise the Islamization of many Negro-African peoples and all that it engendered, such as jihad, were no less the source of innumerable implosions. But to this day, only the genocide of black peoples by the Arab-Muslim nations has not been clearly acknowledged by those who research the responsible parties. Even though this crime is historically, juridically and morally forbidden.

Paintings depicting slaves? It's the kind of thing a man like Monzer might find amusing. It's interesting to realize that even a well-read newspaper correspondent might just be ignorant of the fact that not every historical in the world was an invention of Europe. I was almost unaware of the other slave trade until recently. But in a world where people in alcoholic comas can get up, poise on the windowsill and try to fly like Superman from a 5th story balacony, things don't have to make sense.

6/18/2008 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

I used to enjoy James Bond plots and villains, but think they were absurd. Sadly, no longer. These guys actually exist.

Osama bin Laden is in some ways closer to Mike Myers' 'Dr. Evil'. He makes about the same amount of sense, and has been about as successful.

6/18/2008 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger Mr X said...

This bastard has also been for a while in Argentina, where miraculously obtained passport and all argentinian documentation for legal residence in less than 24 hours (most people have to wait at least a month), and was involved in arm smuggling for president Menem... Some say he is involved somehow in the terror attacks against the israeli embassy and the AMIA as well.

Or perhaps it was all just a coincidence.

6/18/2008 09:06:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Paintings depicting slaves? It's the kind of thing a man like Monzer might find amusing.

We've observed how the Arabs perceive Condoleeza Rice, and how she is depicted in their editorials and cartoons. Makes you sort of wonder how they'd react to a mixed black man as President.

6/18/2008 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Part of the dark glamor of the Low Life is that what it lacks in class it makes up for in grotesqueness. Les Fleurs de Mal. But it's only glamorous from a distance. Up close you get to see the gore, the grue and the spittle. And then you might want out. But it's like the Roach Motel or the Hotel California. Easier in than out.

The boundary between the civilian world and the underworld is more mental than physical. A killer is physically just an ordinary man whose mind is remarkably uninhibited. I think Monzer would approve of my choice of words. Anyone who reads Tolkien's account of what happens when you slip on the Ring will instantly recognize the altered consciousness of someone in the Life, where the world looks the same but is different. Everything acquires a second color. Jokes take on an edge; "friendships" a menace; even the sweetness is sickly.

I remember eavesdropping on the conversations between lawyers and their clients in the visitor's rooms of a jail. The lawyer would whisper "just sign this power of attorney. And if you just sell the carabao, give me your lifesavings, I can fix it with the judge. I can get you out of here." Ha, ha ha. And even if the prisoner knew it would go straight into the pocket of the lawyer, of the public defender sort who always started off by advising you to plead guilty, they'd sell the carabao anyway, from desperation. Anyone who heard the story would laugh. Ha, ha, ha. If you didn't laugh at that sort of thing and worse, you really werent' ready to rumble yet. Stay long enough in the Life and cruelty should became funny if executed cleverly enough. The attitude was the border. The bars were for decoration.

A guy like Monzer is a work of perverted art. He is in every way as elaborate as the Mona Lisa, if the devil and not Da Vinci were the painter. And evil at that level knows what you're thinking; entices you; laughs with you; upbraids you for your petty prissiness. Dudley Do Right doesn't work so well against this kind of villain. But there are other kinds of people in the Life; not very nice people; the sort who live for the satisfaction of pulling the Monzers down a peg or two. It's a low ambition to be sure; an unworthy and vengeful one. Imagine what it's like to live for the thrill of kicking a Monzer in the face. But sometimes I'm glad there are men like that, though I know I shouldn't be.

6/18/2008 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Makes you sort of wonder how they'd react to a mixed black man as President.

Probably with a great deal of hope.

6/18/2008 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

It takes a certain kind of nerve to understand the world of the professional criminal without getting sucked into becoming a monster one's self. I respect someone who can understand what it is we are fighting against without losing sight of what it is we are fighting for.

6/18/2008 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

The focus on the Translatlantic slave trade really obscures the other ones. A reader writes:

There were three big slave trades routs in Africa. There was the trans-Atlantic trade which came out of West Africa. The second was located in Eastern Africa and that consisted of Muslim slaver traders taking Black Africans further East. The third slave rout was North Africans taking Europeans to sell in the slave markets. This was not just the Barbary Pirates stopping shipping in the Mediterranean. Muslim traders sailed as far north as Iceland to capture their victims. Over the course of the 1600s they think over 1 million Europeans were kidnaped and sold as slaves. You can read more in Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters, by Robert C. Davies from the University of Penn. Press.

The focus on the the Transatlantic slave trade papered over another slave trade which Filipinos should know all about, though few of them do: the Southeast Asian slave trade.

It was the Iranun, clients of the Sultan of Sulu, who scoured the shores of the island world in their swift raiding boats, finding slaves to meet this burgeoning labor demand.

In his book, Fortress of Empire, the Jesuit Javellana describes the how the Moros embarked on two raiding expeditions per year to snatch slaves from the Christian parts of the Philippines.

A stiff southwesterly filled the sails of the garay, the Samal Balangingi warship. Sixty oars hit the waters in rythym, manned by Visayan slaves bound by ropes to projecting platforms built on either side of the vessel. On board, warriors were armed to the teeth. The vessel was cutting ten knots, heading in a bee line for the Visayan coasts. Behind were smaller and lighter crafts, the salisipan. The flotilla was cruising in the pre-dawn darkness, ready to pounce on unsuspecting fishing communities along the rugged shores. The scene was no nightmare spawned in the dead of night but a real danger ...

And fewer still remember that Pershing's campaign in Mindanao was occasioned by abolitionist pressure to clamp down on the slave trade in what had become a US territory. Charles Byer, writing in Military Review, takes up the story of how the United States gradually came into conflict with the southern Sultanates.

The practice of slavery among the Moros drew condemnation from critics in the United States, who denounced the Bates Agreement for permitting its continuation. American officers serving in the southern Philippines grew frustrated with the Sultan of Sulu and other Moro leaders and began agitating for direct U.S. rule. Determined to modernize the Philippines, these officers saw Moro leaders as hostile to the values Americans hoped to nurture and as being incapable of maintaining order. By 1903 the U.S. Government decided to bring the Moros under direct rule. The end of major fighting between the U.S. Army and Filipino nationalists meant more troops were available for the effort.

It's one of history's supreme ironies that the Moro Campaigns were in part caused by the need to suppress the slave trade in South East Asia. Mindanao was the Darfur of it's day. The difference was the UN didn't exist yet. Of course today, not only Americans but most Filipinos are ignorant of this history of human trafficking, and we're talking the early 1900s.

Slavery did mean Simon Legree and all that. But even today there are dozens of ruins of Spanish fortifications lining the Philippine coast which are mute testimony to the need to defend against the slavers. You can visit them if so inclined.

6/18/2008 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Not So Secret Report Says Nuke Parts Are Missing And we are reputed to have things under control compared to the Russians.

Perhaps soon genetic science will uncover the conscience gene(s), which I believe must exist, and, if we still have the opportunity, we can start testing folks in sensitive positions for this defect, like colorblindness or something.

6/18/2008 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Regarding the missing warhead parts. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/04dfa24c-3db6-11dd-bbb5-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1

The implication is that the investigation into Taiwan snafu opened a whole can of worms, eventually culminating in the dismissal of high ranking Air Force leadership.

In announcing the departure of the top air force officials earlier this month, Mr Gates said Admiral Kirkland Donald, the naval officer who led the investigation, concluded that both incidents had a “common origin” which was “the gradual erosion of nuclear standards and a lack of effective oversight by air force leadership”.

What can I tell you?

6/18/2008 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

The evil of a guy like Monzer is easy to see. He wears it on his sleeve and has no flag, no bomb and no promise of liberation to hide behind.

Then there's Oli North, a man whom Monzer helped deliver weapons to the Iranian theocracy in order to pay Contra terrorists, ostensibly to prevent the Sandinista Navy -- a converted trawler -- from steaming up the Rio Grande and laying siege to Brownsville, Texas.

Why are Wretchard's villains always dark-skinned and either Muslim or affiliated with Muslim? Is his world truely that monochromatic?

6/19/2008 12:48:00 AM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Ollie North, working for the President of the United States, duly elected I might remind you McDaddyo, engaged in the usual intelligence operation.

The policy of Ronald Reagan was to prevent the Soviet Union from keeping it's foothold in Central America, namely Nicarauga. Not the least of which was to avoid the inevitable tidal wave of refugees sure to follow consolidation of Communist rule. Along with establishment of Soviet bases, including perhaps missiles and certainly listening devices which would compromise the security of one leg of the triad -- ballistic missile submarines.

That was hardly trivial.

At the same time, Reagan (stupidly I will certainly grant you) sought to "engage" the Iranians in the same way Obama does now, by giving them things, so they'd release the hostages they held through Hezbollah. Including CIA station chief Casey who was tortured and murdered in Tehran.

Congress was free to make examples of North and Ronald Reagan, for that matter, for contempt of Congress and any other charge they might consider. They did not because they knew that most Americans approved of the policy Reagan pursued. At any rate, once North's operation was public it ceased. Reagan's policy was stupid, not evil on the measure of Monzer, and everyone with eyes can see the difference.

Here is the difference between North and Monzer: after North's activities were public, he and the Reagan Administration defended the broad policy and the need for it. No one was thrown out of windows. No children were kidnapped. No witnesses killed. Congress could have impeached Reagan had they chose, they did not because most Americans backed Reagan.

Your problem McDaddyo is that you wish to criminalize policy differences, and establish moralizing and PC nonsense blaming "evil white men" instead of confronting evil where you see it: Pol Pot, Robert Mugabe, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Ayman al Zawahari, the men of the GIA and GSPC.

To what response do you offer to the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat when they enter an village in the bled, and massacre everyone there, including children as young as two and infants, because a school operated there?

Well, obviously Ollie North's fault. After all, we can't lay blame to the actual villain. As Obama's advisor said about calling Rwanda Genocide, we might actually be expected to do something about it!

6/19/2008 01:17:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters was written by Robert C. Davis. The reader e-mail misspells the author's last name as "Davies".

6/19/2008 01:19:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

I understand that the portion of the African slave trade that involved the U.S. was around 5%. I wonder when we will hear calls for reparations from those associated with the other 95%.

As for the Achille Lauro, if you want to get your blood pressure up, do a search and read what happened to the terrorists captured by Ronald Reagan's courageous decision.

And finally, as to Iran Contra, I am convinced that the Left's rage over that operation is largely based on the fact that clearly it was a good idea. Note that we illegally shipped weapons top Great Britian in violation of the Neutrality Acts as well, and that was a good idea, too; when will the criminals behind that activity be prosecuted?

6/19/2008 04:09:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

I read somewhere about the French transporting 5 million slaves, but the number of voyages and the size of the ships don't seem to add up.

Anybody have any sources that document clearly how MILLIONS of people were moved via tiny sailing ships?

6/19/2008 04:56:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Curveball Speaks

6/19/2008 04:57:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...


Obama workers snub 2 Muslim women

Osama Obama kisses Muslim Ass and makes up, so all is well.

6/19/2008 04:58:00 AM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

The difference lies not just in lifestyle vs. Policy, as a matter of consistent course the fella who pursued Lend lease in violation of the Neutrality act was fudging a moral stance against the representative democratic need for a majority to agree with him. It could have been done quicker by letting the public know about all the U Boats off the Jersey shore but we weren't ready. It took Pearl Harbor to make a serious change in American's attitudes about Herr Hitler and company.

President Lincoln faced an equally difficult challenge in keeping spirits together and focused on the War of Northern Aggression (I love that ironic twist of expressions.) As an Abolitionist Lincoln had to balance the issuance of emancipation against the needs of the troops and the mood of the nation. Such an understanding is completely beyond the ability of a court to determine they can only ponder in their own time line which has nothing in common with the citizen voter. It is too much a part of the legislature's daily business to trust that institution as well. It is only the executive that can balance the will of the people with the needs of the republic. That patience is especially lacking in the current Democrat party, as shown through their determination to undermine and shortcut the democratic process on the perceived merits of their case vs the merits perceived by the public. For some folks the ends ultimately justify the means and if you don't understand and agree with it you must be a dullard. For Roosevelt, Lincoln and Regan, the means ultimately were justified by the ends. It is a linguistic difference of a magnitude that creates tsunamis, topples earthen dams and embitters those impatient with the plodding process that is democracy.

The Prince of Marbella is a carpetbagger to be sure, with the moral scruples of a sociopath. How far from the Modern American Democrat party leadership, Code Pink, G. Soros, NOW, et. al., is his frame of mind.

6/19/2008 05:36:00 AM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

Whisky provides a blunt reminder of how readily ideologues rationalize evil whenever it coincides with their dogma.

Consider the Whisker’s Oli North tale, which diverges widely from the facts.

Whiskey writes: `` Congress was free to make examples of North and Ronald Reagan, for that matter, for contempt of Congress and any other charge they might consider. They did not because they knew that most Americans approved of the policy Reagan pursued.’’

But Congress did investigate the Iran-Contra case, which led to the indictment and felony convictions for North. Reagan evaded responsibility primarily by testifying some 15 times that he “could not recall’’ what took place as regards the illegal funding of Contras using proceeds from the sale of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to Iran. There was also the fact that he was on his way out of office and had amassed a formidable team of supporters within the mass media.

But maybe we should backtrack a bit and ask why the Marine Colonel found himself in need of legal defense. It surely wasn’t merely a political difference with Congress or the Reagan administration. At the behest of Reagan’s operatives –- Reagan himself forgot virtually the entire episode, so was arguably unaware of it in any meaningful sense – North circumvented the explicit will of the people and of the Congress by deliberately subverting the Boland Amendment.

The fact that Whisky has no problem with this and goes so far as to describe North’s flouting of the law as a mere political difference says everything about how logically inconsistent his brand of moral relativism is.

North’s illegal activities were not limited to simply providing funding for the Contras against the explicit wishes of the Congress. The operation had to be secret because, if made public it would surely be halted immediately. Americans had already demonstrated their democratic opposition to that sort of military aggression, so North and Reagan, when he was conscious, knew they had to keep it secret. This is also why North had to launder money using bank fraud, etc. and break all manner of laws on the way to that.

North did later have the convictions reversed, but only because of legal technicalities related to the immunity offered to witnesses in the case. Other’s, such as Reagan advisers “Bud” McFarlane and John Poindexter, did time in the case, as they failed to obtain the immunity of some witnesses against North or to have their convictions overturned on technicalities.

Whiskey writes:

``Here is the difference between North and Monzer: after North's activities were public, he and the Reagan Administration defended the broad policy and the need for it. No one was thrown out of windows. No children were kidnapped. No witnesses killed. Congress could have impeached Reagan had they chose, they did not because most Americans backed Reagan.’’

The official death toll in the Contra war surpassed 30,000, including many civilians and most estimates are that far more than 25,000 of those are attributable to Contra attacks on villages that supported the Sandinista government. The Contras were also involved in kidnapping – a tactic specifically advised by North himself in a comic book he wrote on how to conduct terror operations that was distributed to Contra guerrillas, as was the murder of potential informants and the intimidation of witnesses.

I’m the last one to assert North and Monzer are moral equivalents.

Both have been involved in very different kinds of evil and its virtually meaningless to assert one is more evil than the other.
It’s a cold hard fact North’s actions directly led to the deaths of 10s of thousands of people, including many thousands of innocent civilians. And for what? The supposedly “evil” Sandinista government, duly elected I might add, was recently elected again to rule Nicaragua, headed by none other than Daniel Ortega, a man Reagan had once compared to Hitler.

6/19/2008 05:43:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Why are Wretchard's villains always dark-skinned and either Muslim or affiliated with Muslim? Is his world truely that monochromatic?

Villains can come in all shapes and sizes. But in this particular case the inconvenient fact is the villains -- the slavers in fact -- weren't white, Christian or American. And no amount of revisionist history can make it otherwise. Sorry to disappoint you.

6/19/2008 06:32:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

"It’s a cold hard fact North’s actions directly led to the deaths of 10s of thousands of people, including many thousands of innocent civilians."

There you go. It is always our fault.

Context is everything. Ortega is now in charge because of politics, not the rule of the gun. The opposition parties could not get their act together.

6/19/2008 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger Mr X said...

Daniel Ortega is an asshole responsible for thousands of deaths, the forced remotion of indian communities (search for Navidad Roja on google) and a pedophile who abused his own stepdaughter:
http://www.sandino.org/zoila.htm

Not Hitler, sure, but a SOB nonetheless.

6/19/2008 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Why are Wretchard's villains always dark-skinned and either Muslim or affiliated with Muslim? Is his world truely that monochromatic?

Not only are the Left's villains monochromatic (always white), but they couldn't manage to keep track of all the players, so they've narrowed it down to one white man who they claim is the world's biggest terrorist and responsible for all its evil: George W. Bush.

I know which version of history makes the most sense to me, and find the argument to be a revised version of the "racist!" meme that liberals like to throw out when they've lost an argument.

6/19/2008 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

...bigot, nativist, homophobe, xenophobe, and etc, ad nauseum.

6/19/2008 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

McDad wrote:

"I’m the last one to assert North and Monzer are moral equivalents."

But the implication seems to be that their actions are analogous, and therefore to some extent congruent, if not exactly equivalent. The U.S. is not without sin and therefore cannot cast the first stone.

Jimmy Carter declared he would always take the high road and provide transparency. That's why I voted for him. The bad guys (I mean the thug leaders of thugocracies and their fellow-travellers)said, "Thanks!"

Nomenklatura notes the James Bond-bad guys have nothing on current bad guys. Oil-for-Food, an offical and sanitized version of corruption, showed the extent of the international laundering and interests.

My favorite Oil-for-Food exposure was that of Maurice Strong, whose company (not him, of course) received $1M (in a plastic bag, deposited in a Jordanian bank) from Mr. Tongsun Park, that perpetual dweller in the shadows. How satisfying to see the links between the ever-peaceable and green Mr. Stong, even if he wiggled out of the net, to the esteemed president of Iraq. This is not conspiracy theory, just public record now thanks to Ms. Rosetti and, following reluctantly her lead, the Canadian press. Mr. Martin has also received his deserved electoral reward. We can be sure, however, that Mr. Strong will not cease acting from the shadows until he casts off his mortal coil.

I think the purpose of the Belmont site is not to engage in 'got-cha,' or 'my side is cleaner than your side.' Both sides have plenty of unsavory connections. And each has different motives and aims. I happen to like (and tend to excuse)the motives and aims that privilege freedom and a widening circle of prosperity over imposed equality. The purpose of the site, as Wretchard has said, is to apply what we know (in my case about-zero) to figure out what's around the corner. If it is possible to share some small amount of knowledge that will leverage some small but perhaps significant change, that would be no small thing. At how many points in the Iraq War has public opinion teetered on an edge, waiting to fall one way or another?

Excuse the length.

6/19/2008 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Although, in addition, I guiltily admit that I look forward more than I should to the occasional viscious, entertaining ad hominem flame from hdgreen.

6/19/2008 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

It’s a cold hard fact North’s actions directly led to the deaths of 10s of thousands of people, including many thousands of innocent civilians. And for what? The supposedly “evil” Sandinista government, duly elected I might add, was recently elected again to rule Nicaragua, headed by none other than Daniel Ortega, a man Reagan had once compared to Hitler.
////////////
A lot of people have real problems with the way General Clark conducted his Italian Campaign during WWII. His vain glory cost a lot of american lives. No one argues with eisenhowers invasion of normandy or halsey's island hopping campaign.

Your critique of the nicaraguan campaign or even the viet nam war would hold water if you could name some cold war campaigns that you thought were successful.

after all the nicarguan campaign and the vietnam war were just battlefields of the cold war--an ideological war-- that was won. if ideological war is difficult to understand then try religious war-- as in something akin to the 30 years war in europe of 1619-1649.

similiarly your critique paricipants in the afghan war would make sense if you could point to successes in the war against al quaeda.

6/19/2008 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger McDaddyo said...

I have to say I'm a little surprised how readily posters here flaunt the logical fallacies of their worldview.

They give a very good demonstration of the essential difference between the right-wing and left-wing logical process.

For example, the B Club's vehement consensus is that liberals blame white people and/or Americans for everything and blame non-white, non-Americans for nothing.

Yet my comment began and ended by noting that Monzer --a nonwhite, nonAmerican has done evil.

I say Monzer is evil, and the B Club regulars all respond by saying I blame all evil on non-Monzers and, even, that I've excused Monzer's evil.

Yet the contradiction isn't obvious to them.

That's because they are inured to rigid, reflexive binary analysis.

It works like this:
If I say pears taste good, it means I think apples taste bad. Or in politics, if I say Oli North did evil, it means I think Monzer did good.
Many B Clubber's add a layer of generalization to come up with:
If someone says pears taste good, they must hate all vegetables and love poison sumac. Or in politics, if someone says Oli North did bad, they must love all the people North opposed and hate all the people he supported.

The whole point of my post was to suggest that evil comes dressed in all sorts of costumes: military uniforms, flags, clerical robes and so on, but it also comes naked. And that Wretchard undercuts his credibility by coming up to bat only against the slowest, fattest pitches, i.e. retelling MSM tales of swarthy Muslim villians and conspiracy theories trying to link them to Obama.

The binary reflex is evident across the neoconservative narrative:

The primary objection to the war in Iraq was that it would be counterproductive. The argument was never that was Saddam was either a good guy nor insufficiently evil to deserve the ouster. The anti-war position was always that there were better ways to deal with Saddam than an invasion which may well deliver the country to Shia theocracy -- which is exactly what has happened.

Yet militarists consistently portray opposition to the war as wanting to "do nothing" about Saddam or as supporting Saddam or as somehow underestimating Saddam's evilness.

Many take it further to suggest that opposition to the war is opposition to the America itself and its ideals and institutions. The binary mind has it that there can only be two positions: for the war and for America, or against the war and against America.

This pattern is so ingrained in right-wing thinking that even when someone comes along and points out the obvious evil of a guy like Monzer, he gets immediately accused of saying Monzer isn't evil.

If you want to know the key difference between conservatives and liberals, the conservative reflex toward binary thinking is it.

6/19/2008 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/19/2008 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

'all is fair in love and war' is that your position Charles or is there a bridge too far? Do you give the enemy the same moral latitude as well?

6/19/2008 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

In 2008, the tired old ways of the past no longer apply to the problems of today, for the times, they are changing.

A man no longer breaks his promise; he declares his independence from keeping it.
A man no longer tells a lie; he declares his independence from telling the truth.
A man no longer acts irresponsibly; he declares his independence from responsibility.
A man no longer acts dishonorably; he declares his independence from honor.

A man’s word? What does that matter when hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake? A man’s honor? Aren’t there more important things to talk about? Ah yes, the times they do change. What breathtaking innocence to imagine that a promise broken should be remembered in the future! How utterly naïve to think that foreign leaders would ever take the measure of a man’s lies!

Decry the power of big finance until the power of big finance lies within the palm of one’s hand, and then talk about how this is the first presidential campaign truly funded by THE people. So, what does that make the rest of us who do not support such a crusade, illegal aliens in our own land? Is the claim of popular finance superior to keeping one’s word?

Oh yes, we have a new hope in the land, a new hope called the broken promise. Oh yes, we have a siren call for change, change whose name is expediency. To break a promise, that can be understandable. To tell a lie, that can be statecraft. Yet to beatify a broken word, to sanctify a lie, that is the hallmark of the vilest of demagogues.

6/19/2008 04:04:00 PM  
Blogger bg said...

++

just contributing my 2 cents..

Muslim Black slavery - Islam slave history of Black Africa

==

6/19/2008 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

McDaddyo said...

....has done evil.

////////////
the problem is the word "evil"....

Its impossible to evaluate what you mean by the word evil. without understanding that the rest of your piece doesn't hold water. Certainly a godless communist has just as strong a sense of evil as a homosexual faschist as a islamic jihadi. But they are all different ideas of evil.

That's why the sight of all three at demonstrations against global WOT has had conservatives amazed. you sound like just the guy to explain the subtlties that distinguish these world views.a

6/19/2008 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Blogger Ash said...

'all is fair in love and war' is that your position Charles or is there a bridge too far?
///////////
the latter.

6/19/2008 05:19:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

"The anti-war position was always that there were better ways to deal with Saddam than an invasion which may well deliver the country to Shia theocracy -- which is exactly what has happened."

Really? The only argument I've ever heard against he war was that it was "illegal". Any links to substantiate this claim?

I'll go back to my video games now.

6/19/2008 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Maybe you can also go so far as to outlining what the better ways to deal with Saddam were?

6/19/2008 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

"retelling MSM tales of swarthy Muslim villians and conspiracy theories trying to link them to Obama."

I don't think the swarthiness of a given person has anything to do with the point, and yet you insist on bringing it up, why is that?

Ok, seriously, now I have to go, I have virtual worlds to conquer.

6/19/2008 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger mouse said...

This comment has stayed with me for over a day now:

"But there are other kinds of people in the Life; not very nice people; the sort who live for the satisfaction of pulling the Monzers down a peg or two. It's a low ambition to be sure; an unworthy and vengeful one. Imagine what it's like to live for the thrill of kicking a Monzer in the face. But sometimes I'm glad there are men like that, though I know I shouldn't be."

Along with this passage on Moros embarked on raiding expeditions to snatch slaves:

"Sixty oars hit the waters in rhythm, manned by Visayan slaves bound by ropes to projecting platforms built on either side of the vessel. On board, warriors were armed to the teeth....The flotilla was cruising in the pre-dawn darkness, ready to pounce on unsuspecting fishing communities along the rugged shores."

That image --of warriors armed to the teeth, powered forward by slaves, on a mission to capture more slaves-- offends the bunny rabbit in me. As I read it I felt a most powerful impulse to kick them in the face, with an automatic weapon. That hardly seems like a low or vengeful impulse. It seems proper. To annihilate those men seems proper.

As I write this I don't feel the fury I felt on the first reading. I wouldn't want to live a life where that fury lasted more than just seconds, but the fury itself seems wholesome. And I don't know that I would feel bad that there are men who would want to take a Monzer down a peg or two.

6/19/2008 09:07:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Wretchard had specified in his initial post that the people he was talking about were in "the Life" -- those who live to take down the bullies and the monsters, which I must confess I've never run across, because if you're in the Life, you probably have a different set of values that makes the definition of "evil" and "monster" different from thee and me.

However it seems to me that a great deal of the fun of sending American soldiers into the cesspools of the world which are being terrorized by native bullies and soldiers in their jacked-up white Toyotas is that we can then intimidate the intimidators.

To quote Crocodile Dundee, "That's not a knife. [Dundee draws a large Bowie knife]
*That's* a knife."

Which was demonstrated by the hot knife through butter ease of American troops on their thunder run into Baghdad -- THAT's a tank, or a bomb, or a mortar, or an Apache!

Otherwise known as, "Pipe down or else. Don't make me come in there!"

6/19/2008 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger Swami said...

"The whole point of my post was to suggest that evil comes dressed in all sorts of costumes: military uniforms, flags, clerical robes and so on, but it also comes naked."

But the whole point of making THAT point is to distract from the issue at hand. It's like launching into an explanation on the fear/aggression response in dogs and how it can be found in any domestic canine, when the real problem is that there is a damned Rotweiller trying to rip your arm off.

McD uses it as a springboard to launch an accusation of racism- akin to accusing someone in the above situation from having a specific and irrational hatred of Rottweillers.

Yeah, we're tuned in to Muslims and Muslim-connections at the moment. There's a reason.

First, shoot the Rottweiler. Then we'll talk theory.

6/20/2008 10:43:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

No no no, first, find out why the Rotweiler is biting your arm.

6/20/2008 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger James Garland said...

Swami, I'm not sure McD is sufficiently versed in the fine art of logical argument to appreciate how deftly you slid your stiletto in.

6/20/2008 03:54:00 PM  

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