Thursday, March 29, 2007

Terroristes Sans Frontières

The time has come to withdraw from Iraq. This was the message of a British sailor now in Iranian custody, according to its media. The Iraqi Slogger reports:

A second letter allegedly written by a UK sailor in Iranian custody has been broadcast on Iranian state television. In the letter, the sailor calls for the withdrawal of British forces from Iraq, according to an al-Hurra report in Arabic, saying that "the time has come" for a UK withdrawal.

The kidnapping of fifteen British sailors by Iran has inadvertently given the public a glimpse of what it means to "negotiate" with the Ayatollahs. It is also an illustration of how safe it is to stay on "your" side of the border, such as for example within the sovereign territory of a United States embassy, or manning an outpost on the Israeli side of Lebanese border, sleeping in a housing unit in the Khobar towers, visiting a friendly Yemeni port, keeping a watch on smugglers in Iraqi waters while in a British naval vessel and -- in case anyone still remembers -- going to work in Manhattan on an autumn day.

One of the problems with assuming that a withdrawal from Iraq -- to Kurdistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or as Congressman Murtha once suggested -- to Okinawa will end hostilities is it presumes a certain conventionality: that once you have "stopped" fighting by signing some agreement; or that by withdrawing past some map border you will be safe.

The campaign in Afghanistan clearly shows that maps mean nothing to terrorists. The al-Qaeda, driven from one "country" simply moved to the neighboring country. The only ones who respected international boundaries were the Americans. For al-Qaeda the "international" border means security for their side in Waziristan but it certainly provides no safety for Coalition forces in "Afghanistan" from their attacks, except as provided by the Coalition's own defenses. A purely legal border, like the Iran-Iraq demarcation in the Shatt-al-arab is a one way street. It's a geographical "Geneva Convention", entirely asymmetrical. It doesn't keep the Iranians from crossing over to kidnap British sailors, but it does keep the Royal Navy from setting out in pursuit of captive Tars. Of course, the manifest inutility of borders doesn't deter anyone from claiming that a withdrawal from Anbar into Kurdistan will take troops "out of harm's way". It will do no such thing. In all probability Kurdistan will become a battlefield within three months of a withdrawal by troops seeking shelter in it. And any thinking Kurd should have nothing to do with it. Hosting a post-modern defensive force that will be ordered to cringe is a poor alliance. Better to defend yourself with arms of your own than rely on modern armies under the command of nerveless Western politicians. Of course America and Britain could retreat all the way home and build a wall against forcible entry. But, that will be criticized as "illegal" and probably as "immoral" too.


Blogger psychegram said...

It doesn't surprise me that nation-states have to respect borders. And naturally enough, terrorists don't, any more than corporations or NGOs do. Of course, when Iran refuses to respect borders or treaties, that's a different matter ... and should be treated like the act of war it is.

Still, I can't help but feel the time is approaching when the West will be forced to constitute it's own extra-national armed groups. Maybe corporate, like Blackwater, or maybe more like an armed NGO. Nation-states have too much trouble acting, or even reacting for that matter ... too many divergent interests tying them down in distractions and red tape and media campaigns. An armed NGO would be able to act with far fewer constraints. Were such an organization in existence now, Iran's one oil refinery would already have been demolished, as per Newt's suggestion....

3/29/2007 11:58:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

The Iranian government abducted the British sailors to force a crisis. It knows there is little stomach to forcibly overthrow Iran's regime and so long as it stays in power there is nothing anybody else can do to stop Iran from parading the sailors around. That's the point.

Terrorists are like Kaposi's Sarcoma. They are opportunists who are incited by perceived weakness.

The sad fact of academe and the media is not that they are necessarily liberal or left-leaning; they are actually far less politically liberal than is often perceived. The reason why they so often seem that way is because they are easily influenced by those who scream the loudest. "Non-violent" protests are a means to assert symbolic ownership over the public square and with it the prerogative of setting the political agenda.

One of the key events in September and October 2001 was that the anti-war movement took control over the streets. Over time, this mistake compounded itself, as the anti-war movement grew in size, gained a foothold on college campuses, spread to the media, seeped into the results of opinion polls, and eventually moved into the halls of Congress. All too often, weathervane politicians think they are feeling the breeze of public opinion when they are really feeling the gale of an electric fan owned by Soros.

So long as the streets are controlled by those who advocate defeat at all costs, our enemies will think our military force is a substitute for our political will, not an extension of it. The civil rights movement won its victories by challenging the segregationists' control over the streets and exposing segregationist violence for what it was. Likewise, victory over terrorism will require a willingness to challenge the defeatists' control over the public square. Some veterans groups have made the first few steps. It's a good start, but there's a long way to go before the public square becomes a place where people can feel comfortable expressing their opinions even if those opinions happen to be normal.

3/30/2007 01:11:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


Maybe the antiwar crowd is really the latest incarnation of the whole terrible spirit that has presided over a century of Western decline. Niall Ferguson, in his history of 20th century war, "War of the World" concludes that the last hundred years can be seen as one long collapse of a European empire.

Just as some inner sickness weakened the Chinese empire and weakened the Islamdom and allowed the West to reign supreme, some decadence has disarmed the West utterly. And now others civilizations are hovering around its carcass. Whatever weakened it is still gnawing away at its vitals. Not even America has been spared the contagion.

The Islamic world senses this. And unfortunately there is no quick fix. No politician we can elect, no fad we can begin, no revival we can start can quickly halt the rot. It has to burn itself out. And I'm afraid that means that we have to harvest the bitter crop the appeasers are sowing, oh so self-righteously; we have to endure the terrible pain, privation and loss that it will bring upon us. Endure it just as the Chinese endured humiliation for generations; until through hardship untold we, like they collectively expunge it from our system.

Alas, the Kos people are us, in part. Nancy Pelosi does represent a large segment of the population. Yesterday I passed a man with an antiwar t-shirt, jaw jutting with nothing in his gourd except what he heard on TV and realized that there but for the grace of God went anyone unlucky enough to swallow that poison hook, line and sinker.

It's a terrible thing to consider. But if its true, then what is left to us is to keep our eye on the flickering flame, trusting that it will never be extinguished completely; to keep it hidden against the day when it will return, though we see it only through eyes of faith.

3/30/2007 02:13:00 AM  
Blogger psychegram said...

Wow. I should read the comments here more often. Every bit as engaging as Wretchard's main posts. Certainly a cut above the dross I find on most blogs.

I sometimes wonder if everyone doesn't sense the decadence, if everyone isn't in some way infected by it. Certainly predictions that America is the new Rome are not hard to come by; any perusal of the polisci section at the bookstore reveals numerous titles expounding the thesis that a dark age is bearing down. I know I've wondered ever since I was a kid whether our civilization might be heading for it's own collapse. Maybe decadence is inevitable; once a society reaches the top, there's nowhere to go but down....

Now I'm 26, and I live in Tokyo, earning my bread by teaching the natives how to speak my language. Sometimes I feel a bit like a Greek slave in a Roman villa, imported in order to educate the tribune's children. I came here shortly after graduating university. I may at some point return to my native Toronto, but I don't feel any strong pull. Expatriatism is becoming increasingly common amongst my generation, kind of a western diaspora that isn't much remarked on in the media, at least not yet. But it's a growing trend, albeit still small. For some it's curiosity about foreign lands; for some, it's the taxes; for others, the lifestyle crusaders whose rules increasingly diminish the freedoms our ancestors died for. But deep down, I suspect we've all got a gut feeling that the ship is going down, and we don't want to go with it. It sounds cowardly, but the ship isn't sinking because it's been cannonballed beneath the waterline. Rather there was a riotous party on deck, too much rum was passed around, and now its own crew is busy shooting holes in the hull. And so some of us are booking passage on other ships.

3/30/2007 03:12:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Alexis, Wretchard;
To put these last 163 years in context, remember that the previous 6,000 years were pretty much the province of KINGS and ECCLESIASTICS.

The single most civilizing influence in our history, the unfolding Faith of God over the centuries, had brought humankind from families to tribes to city-states to nations, and then Muhammad declared He was the last prophet before the Coming of the Lord of Hosts.

If Jesus is to be believed, His three holy promises (Matt 24:14, Luke 21:24, Matt 24:15) CAN BE SEEN to have all come true in the same calendar year, what we now call 1844 CE or 1260 AH.

The One, like unto the Son of Man, Who came May 23, 1844, fulfilled all the previous prophecies AND prepared the way for the Lord of Hosts.

When the Lord of Hosts came to humankind, however, He was in a Muslim social/religious matrix, as Jesus was born into a Jewish matrix. The Muslim clergy (government) did everything they could to discredit Him, even poisoning Him and hiring a serial killer to assassinate Him.

By turning AWAY from the love and knowledge He brings, Muslims are left with little more than mullahs and imams, filled with their own importance and lusting for temporal power RATHER THAN submit to the Will of God, as adumbrated by the Glory of God, Baha'u'llah.

Bereft of discernment to see God with their own eyes, they immerse themselves in hatred, ignorance and power-struggles: Hizb'ullah, Hamas, al-Aqsa, Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda... just some of the more 'successful' hate-mongers and Islamic supremacists among the 900 million Muslims of this world...

Compared to the real teaching, the evident brotherhood, love, honesty, forthrightness, chastity and courage evidenced by members of the Baha'i world Community for the last 50 years, Muslims have nothing attractive save the violent, misogynist aspects of their faith.

The good news is that every day increases the chance of igniting a public dialogue about the Coming of Baha'u'llah, in the Islamic world... and when that begins, hundreds of millions of God-fearing, mullah-loathing Muslims will hear the voice of God and come into the modern world in troops, by the hundreds of millions, and change the political landscape literally overnight!

3/30/2007 03:56:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


The story of the Fall of Singapore has exercised a powerful influence over my imagination, because it was in its way a dramatic re-enactment of the tragedy of the Titanic on a much vaster scale. Singapore was a place where the assumption of the British hereditary right to rule was so strong that even the obvious advance of the Japanese Army down the peninsula could not waken social circles which had known nothing other than ineffable superiority to the new reality.

The British governor told his army commander, "oh I suppose you'll see the little men off." Only after the Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk in an afternoon did it begin to dawn on them that they were all of them doomed. Doomed.

They simply couldn't imagine what doomed meant. People accustomed to teas and dances, deference from the natives; accustomed to snapping their fingers and parting crowds at the bazaar simply couldn't come to terms with the idea that in a little while they would beaten, raped, and starved. If they were lucky. This effervescent bubble of oh so clever people even organized something called a Surrender Lunch, during which they were supposed to gorge themselves in preparation for the privations ahead. It was beyond sad. It was pathetic.

And as I said, Singapore has exercised a powerful influence on my imagination because this forgotten incident is the nearest we can come to past as prologue. That is what awaits the liberals when Islam takes over. They will still be yelling for their rights as they are led away to be flogged.

3/30/2007 04:21:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


Pope John Paul's recurring refain was to "be not afraid". The original words of course, were spoken by Christ. The time for fear is past once we are alive, I think. We spent an eternity in darkness to waken to a world with actual flowers, sunlight, wind and the care of those who loved us. What could be more improbable?

So here we are, on this strange stage, neither knowing how we got here nor whither we will go; but now is not the time for questions. It's time to act. My hands cannot count the stars; but it can put candles in my son's birthday cake, tie a ribbon round a bouquet of flowers for my wife, buy a cane for my father and stand a fragile guard over all of them. What a miracle and may I be worthy of it.

3/30/2007 04:51:00 AM  
Blogger Oengus said...

I've heard it suggested that Tony Blair cannot take sterner action against Iran because he is worried about possible violent repercussions coming from the jihadist cells embedded within Britain's sizable muslim population.

It's an interesting theory.

3/30/2007 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

"I sometimes wonder if everyone doesn't sense the decadence, if everyone isn't in some way infected by it." - Matt

I don't think most people do feel it directly. Judging from conversations I hear in passing in public, most peoples' thoughts rarely reach beyond today's weather, what's for dinner, or when Katie Holmes is going to leave Tom Cruise (and what will happen to baby Suri! OH MY!).

However, I suspect that a feeling of something amiss does exist among the majority. Unfortunately, this drives some further to the left, as they seek a 'progressive' solution to their ill-defined sense of dissatisfaction. For others, it is reflected in the widespread lack of confidence in the economy, in spite of its strength over the last few years.

I see the signs daily, and cannot understand how our Democrat congressional leaders don't also see them. So much of what they say defies basic common sense, that I wonder if they believe even a quarter of what they say publicly anymore. It's a sad state of affairs to be sure.

I remain optimistic though. Our culture has proven robust enough to see the defeat of totalitarianism in Europe, the defeat of communism (for the most part), and a host of other serious global problems over the years. I cannot imagine that we will not weather this storm.

Until the majority of our population truly believes there is an existential threat, however, I doubt we will see much improvement. In the movie 'Dune', Duke Leto says "Without change, something in us sleeps, and seldom awakens." This is where the majority of our population is, mentally. We are asleep. The right hand is twitching, but the left is feeding the body more sleeping pills.

3/30/2007 07:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oengus Moonbones: I've heard it suggested that Tony Blair cannot take sterner action against Iran because he is worried about possible violent repercussions coming from the jihadist cells embedded within Britain's sizable muslim population.

These cells are scattered throughout the British media, and they can pull the trigger and write negative pieces on Blair at any moment, which hangs over him like the Sword of Damocles. Regrets to the families of the captured sailors.

3/30/2007 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger Theo Spark said...

I think war with Iran is now inevitable. Imadinnerjacket needs hostilities with the west to save his own skin. We need to hit them hard without warning or deadlines. If all hell breaks loose so be it. Better now than waiting or Iran to go nuclear. Lets just hope that Pakistan or North Korea haven't given them a couple of nukes already.

3/30/2007 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Jim in Texas said...

Griswel said...

"This really is a war on terror, and we will defeat terrorism when we remove the incentives for terror, which exist almost entirely in the West. We win the moment we realize we can defeat terror by choosing to do so."

That is a mighty bold if somewhat vague statement; care to elaborate for the less discerning among us?

I'm always curious to learn what we do/did wrong.

3/30/2007 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Habu said...

Glenmore , for the most part beat me to the answer your liberal friends don't have about what will follow if the West, and in particular the USA implodes.

It will be some form of militia or miltitas' that will take over. Targeting will be important because resources will quickly become scarce. You can relay to your friends that those with the guns will come after those who held the placards with some thematic on "Down with the USA", or those who drag the flag through the streets.
They won't have any "rights" to invoke having decided that "anything is better than what we have".
Militias won't have any compassion to support their lifestyles and thus a 7.62 or other caliber of choice will end their angst. As they pull on their bongs in tightly knit groups talking the talk they are in no way ready to handle those who will come after them and their food supplies,gold, and whatever else is needed.
I realize it's sterotyping but it's a safe bet that most of the would be anarchists, anything is better crowd have never held a gun or field dresses a deer and know what it at least feels like to stick a knife into an animal.

So tell them they can count their lives in hours perhaps days if anarchy rules. They'll be hunted.

3/30/2007 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

"This really is a war on terror, and we will defeat terrorism when we remove the incentives for terror, which exist almost entirely in the West. "

I'm not surprised to see this repeated, as it is hammered into our collective heads by the UN and the MSM on an almost daily basis, but it is totally preposterous from a historical standpoint.

For instance, did you know that only a small percentage of the money pledged to the UNRWA by Islamic nations was ever actually provided? This is money destined to help the Palestinians. The two largest donors are Israel itself, and the USA (who did live up to their pledges). These are rich nations, which could do much for the Palestinians, but instead send the money to support anti-Israeli terrorism while their princes have contests about who can build the most impressive skyscraper!

Heck, Israel offered free tuition to the Palestinians, who refused to attend Jewish run universities.

You can say some fault lies with the West, and you'd get no argument from me. But you'd be hard pressed to show that it's a majority in a debate with anyone sporting even a modest knowledge of that region's history.

3/30/2007 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

I believe that griswel meant that the west provides incentives to terrorists by, with our response (or lack thereof), allowing terrorism to be a successful tactic.

3/30/2007 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger david abbott said...


. . .though we see it only through eyes of faith.

The beauty, courage, ethical purpose, and happiness of the civilisation I am so glad to see everyone here defending had a Judaeo-Christian root. . .the 1102 decision by the Council of Westminster to end slavery in Britain; Alfred’s transformation of marauders into citizens; Dunstan’s ideal of the servant king; Henry I’s affirmation of the Charter of Liberties that even the king is not above the law; the clergy and barons who drafted Magna Carta – "To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice"; Montfort’s dying stand for the Provisions of Oxford and the first Parliament; the struggle by so many unknown people over the centuries to protect the principle of no taxation without representation and the integrity of property – their home as their castle; Lilburne’s courageous walk through London to defend the right to silence as he was whipped 200 times; and Edward Bushell’s brave and successful defence of the principle that juries are free to return a verdict of acquittal – these were all achieved by imperfect people who believed in Judaeo-Christian teachings, in the use of reason to understand God’s world, in a God of love and justice, in a God who was a friend and promised them that the end of this life was not the end. Unlike Protagoras, they did not believe that “man was the measure of all things”, they believed that God was the measure. God was the measure, but “God’s greatest gift to us is freedom” (Dante). See the Liberty Timeline at

With freedom and reason and faith they created the world we long to defend.

3/30/2007 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

Although requested to do so by many, General Congresswomen Pelosi departed DC for vacation while refusing to bring a Congressional Resolution condemning Iran and declaring solidity with the Brits.

Perhaps those who frequent the Belmont Club have a better understanding of history than most - nations and cultures do not exist forever and never because of the good will of their enemies. The concern of the posters over the future of Western Civ is well placed.

International power and prestige are zero sum. Willingly acceding to the thuggery of Islamism comes at a cost. The Democrats and Eurocrats either don't see that or they don't care.

3/30/2007 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Excellent post, Prof. Wretchard.

I ask my liberal (progressive?) friends: What's gonna happen after we retreat to whatever we believe won't make them so mad at us?

'Progressive' moral imperiousness combined with willful ignorance of both history and logic is a study in delusion.

If only we'll follow our idea of the rules, then we'll inspire the mountain men and savage zealots in their timeless lawlessness to act like us.

What do our fellow peace-lovers base that hope upon?

3/30/2007 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Excellent post, Prof. Wretchard.

I ask my liberal (progressive?) friends: What's gonna happen after we retreat to whatever we believe won't make them so mad at us?

'Progressive' moral imperiousness combined with willful ignorance of both history and logic is a study in delusion.

If only we'll follow our idea of the rules, then we'll inspire the mountain men and savage zealots in their timeless lawlessness to act like us.

What do our fellow peace-lovers base that hope upon?

3/30/2007 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Nancy Pelosi is going to Syria. Iran is complaining that they're not cooperating with the UN because they fear a US attack. This is the same Iran that is more or less acknowledged to be attacking coalition forces in Iraq. And there are many who see nothing remarkable in these events, nor do they have anything but unreserved praise for either the trip or the Iranian allegations.

That's the data. This is where we are. RN sailors are kidnapped on friendly territory. Iran defies the UN. America is "defeated" but not on the battlefield. And the French can't even collect a fare from a turnstile jumper. And what's the main problem in the world today? Global Warming.

3/30/2007 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

General Congresswomen Pelosi is a contemptible fool. If Baby Assad is half-smart immediately following General Congresswomen Pelosi's visit he will publicly agree to do something conciliatory even without any intention of doing any such thing.

Pelosi and the Democrats will use Assad's announcement as the proof of a "better" policy. In fact it will become a lever to fracture current US policy in the region. The Dems will be more than willing to barter the Mideast to the Islamists for the WH in '08.

I'm speculating of course but Pelosi is self-serving and transparent if nothing else. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse it does.

3/30/2007 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Kin we start shooting yet? The reason for this rather slopeheaded request is that we have an immediate enemy and a long term enemy. Who are the enemy counting on to assist them in their quest to take over as much as they can before the next hudna? Congress! The organization that can immobilize the committment of the administration to fight. If the divisiveness is ended in the US then the terrorists get scared. Who then will have to be defeated before the fight can be effectively taken to the enemy. I'll give you three guesses and the first two won't count against you.

We read the script in Vietnam and it hasn't been changed for this performance. I believe that insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over again and expecting a different response?

3/30/2007 04:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just read a great conversation at the Daily Ablution between the host and Michael Crichton. The subject of the conversation was Global Warming, but Crichton's reply to the following question really stuck me.---

What is the most serious threat facing our civilisation?

Loss of classical liberal values in those western societies that embraced them.

England was the first modern state, the first superpower, the first nation to deal with moral issues around the world, and the first nation to install the benefits of what we might now loosely term a liberal society. I mean that in the 19th century sense of liberalism. That notion of liberalism was also present in America, but made it to the Continent only in a pale and limited form. It is a wonderful social conception that must be vigilantly guarded. It is not shared by other nations in the world. Nor is it shared by many citizens in English-speaking countries. Peculiarly, many of our most educated citizens are least sympathetic to classical liberal ideals. Indeed the term 'liberalism' in the modern day has come to imply a constellation of attitudes that John Stuart Mill would not recognize as liberal at all. Nor would, say, John F. Kennedy recognize them as liberal. Kennedy's conception of liberalism was simultaneously more tolerant and more tough-minded: tolerant about varieties of behavior within the society, and tough-minded toward threats to a tolerant society from without.

That's all gone, now. Today there is far too much sensitivity within societies, and too little hard-nosed recognition of threats from without. We are inclined to be intolerant of speech by our friends and neighbors, and tolerant of beheadings, rape, and homophobia in distant lands.

This makes no sense. But here we are.

3/30/2007 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You make a great point re: which side knows how to use weapons and how to field dress game. What are the egg-heads thinking? They always clamor for revolution--do they understand what a revolution looks like? Do they understand that a revolution means the people with the guns kill the people without the guns?

I read a funny little quip somewhere a while back. I can't recall the saying exactly, but it read something like this:

Those who beat thier
swords into plowshares
will be forced to work
the fields of those who
retained thier swords.

Lesson: Be careful what you wish for.

3/30/2007 05:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried to hunt once but didn't want to have to field-dress the kill, which isn't right I know. So am ever grateful for those men who can hunt, provide and protect, for those who bear arms at home and on the front.

I'm a little heartened and amazed to hear today that my mother's trainer(!) at her gym in the middle of a big city in Texas recommended she read Melanie Phillip's Londonistan. Hope this indicates that more of us are waking up to the Islamist threat in the West in terms other than terror strikes, and that even non-net addicted citizens are beginning to realize we're being eroded from within through Muslim immigration, high birthrates and non-assimilation and by their communities taking advantage of our civil liberties and tradition of tolerance.

3/30/2007 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...


The revolution started two generations ago and we are losing - the family, a classic liberal education, civility and politeness in public discourse, a sense of common history and of self - just to name a few.

All is not lost but the good buys had better start pushing back - and hard.

3/30/2007 05:44:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Powered by Blogger