Category Archives: War Commentary

Fear of Queuing

I’ve ranted on the subject of fear of flying vs avoidance of lousy airline service before, but Mark Steyn has written, I think, the last word on the subject. I am in awe.

He has also coined a great new word. I like Islamofascists, but Islamakazi is very evocative to describe the suicidal fanatics who carry out their will.

[Update] I should clarify the above, lest it be misinterpreted. I like the word “Islamofascists.” I find actual instances of them despicable.

A New Afghan Concept–Death-Free Soccer

According to this story from Reuters, via, Kabul residents are enjoying watching and playing soccer in their stadium without having the games interrupted by executions (often the family of the victim was forced to carry them out). They also get to play in shorts, and to actually applaud (you know, clap your hands together) the rare (it is soccer, after all) score, instead of chanting “Allahu Akbar!”

O tempora, o mores! Sounds like anarchy. Just give them a few millennia–they’ll be begging for the Taliban to come back.

Girls (and Boys) Just Wanna Have Freedom

Apparently, if we’re to go by the reaction in Kabul, while, as the old song goes, “girls just wanna have fun,” what they really want is freedom. So do boys.

Opinion Journal’s Claudia Rossett has a good follow up to Michael Ledeen’s piece yesterday on the US as fomenter of revolution. We are also (often, unfortunately, with inadequate justification as of late) still a symbol of liberty worldwide, as becomes clear whenever and whereever the boot of oppression is lifted from silent throats, and people can speak their minds and hearts.

As we wonder what lies ahead most prominently in Iraq, but also across the rest of the Islamic world, what we must keep in mind is this universal human cry. America is a land that stands for liberty, and in this we have allies–however silent they may now be–among repressed people everywhere. We can debate how best to get our message out. In waging war we need not only faith in our own values, but strategy on the ground. But in understanding what lies locked up in the tyrannies of the world, it will be important to remember the shouts in Kabul this week: “America, America!”

The images from liberated Afghanistan shows that America is much more than a place–it is still an idea–one of the most powerful ideas ever conceived–that calls to people all over the planet. I hope that we can continue to live up to the reputation, perhaps even better than we have in the past, at least the recent past. For much of the world (particularly the Muslim world), the status quo is not liberty. It’s past time for the folks at Foggy Bottom to end their mindless worship of stability, and once again orient our policy in support of the values on which this country was founded.

More Darwin Awards

Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Hofer are having trouble dredging up any sympathy for these fools. Me too.

Normally, the Darwin Award is an individual achievement, honoring that person who has eliminated him or herself from the gene pool in the stupidest possible way. I think that this year, it should be a special group award, and perhaps even retired. No one is going to ever top this bunch. Or at least, if someone does, I want to be warned if ever they come within a couple hundred miles of me.

And yes, allow them to be martyrs if they are too stupid to surrender (they must be getting down to the dregs in the virgin supply along about now), but allow a few to return to Pakistan, Arabia, Egypt, and New York to spread the word about what happens to those who throw in their lot with murdering fundamentalist monsters.

Curiouser and Curiouser

My theory that this was sabotage was complicated (but not necessarily invalidated) by the most recent findings.

According to the story in the New York Times,

The tail was torn off, leaving the attachment points, which are made of the same composite, still bolted to the plane’s metal frame, investigators said. They have not found any evidence that an explosion or contact with another object in flight caused the damage.

So much for the loose fastener theory…

Looking More Like Sabotage To Me

Well, let’s see now–the data is accumulating. Both engines are intact (no internal failure), so that eliminates the bird ingestion theory. The aircraft lost both engines and the vertical stabilizer. The latter was reportedly taken off as cleanly as if someone had simply…loosened the fasteners. And the investigators say “they cannot rule out sabotage.”

Well, from what I understand about the situation now, being a glass-half-full-of-sabotage kind of guy, I’d put it differently–we cannot rule out random mechanical failure, but it’s starting to look very unlikely. The chances of a single engine falling off are very low. The chances of both engines just falling off are very low squared. The chances of both engines falling off, and the vertical stabilizer cleanly falling off are infinitesimal, absent active (sub)human intervention.

And the reporting on this is atrocious (as though that would distinguish it from any other subject). I’ve read things like “no intruders’ voices were heard on the cockpit voice recorder, ruling out sabotage.” As though it’s necessary, or even desirable, to be on an airplane that you’re sabotaging. Do these people even know what the word sabotage means?

OK, let’s forget about nail clippers and cleaning crew for the moment. How tight is the security in the maintenance hangars? What kind of background checks do the mechanics get? Have they checked the maintenance records for the plane, and checked to see who worked on it most recently, and who had access to it? It could have been done the night before, by simply loosening a few bolts on the pylons and empennage. Or it could have been done weeks before, planting shaped charges with a radio-controlled detonator, to blow off the engines and tail right after takeoff, almost ensuring a crash in…Queens. I hope that American (and the other airlines) have done an inspection of their entire fleet before flying them again.

At this point, if it turns out to not be sabotage, I’ll be very interested to hear the NTSB explanation for this one. It may be almost as entertaining (and sad) as the video that they cobbled together for TWA 800 to explain how flames falling from an aircraft could somehow magically appear to be a fire trail heading up toward it, to hundreds of eyewitnesses.

Kabul Liberated

Apparently dead Taliban soldiers are left lying in the dust, or hanging from trees like ornaments in an early Christmas (or more likely, Ramadan) celebration. For the first time in years, women are walking with each other, and by themselves, without the accompaniment of men, and some are even unburdening themselves of their burqas. The local barbers are doing a land-office business shaving the beards of the men, many of whom claim that they shave not because they dislike beards, but as a final one-finger salute to the recently departed, but not lamented, Taliban. Music is playing, and TVs are being dug up from gardens, and are once again showing such devout Islamic fare as “Titanic.”

Shades of Paris in 1944.

But Mary Robinson is still whining and wringing her hands about potential human rights abuses…

New Attack?

Not necessarily–airplanes crashed on takeoff before 911, and they will in the future. That’s just statistics, and a risk that we’ve learned to live with, and will again. But apparently an American Airbus 300 just went down in Queens after takeoff from La Guardia, and the authorities have closed all New York area airports and locked down Manhattan. Not clear yet whether this is just precautionary, or if they know something that we don’t. But accidents do happen, even in the wake of the attacks.

More information should be available later this afternoon, when I get back from the XCOR rollout.

2 PM Update:

Most of y’all are certainly aware of this now, but I should correct the above–it was out of Kennedy, not La Guardia. And it looks as though my initial reaction was correct, this was an accident, albeit a disconcerting one in the current environment as to timing (Veterans’ Day), and location (New York–in fact in a neighborhood in which many police officers and firefighters reside, including Mike “kiss my royal Irish ass” Moran). I still think, though, that this is just a very unfortunate coincidence, but if it was deliberate, it will have no effect except to further steel our resolve against the cave dweller and like-minded monsters.

Treason Watch

“I’m willing to kill the Americans. I will kill every American that I see in Afghanistan. And I’ll kill every American soldier that I see in Pakistan,” Junaid boasted to British television correspondent, Jon Gilbert, in an interview for the ITN Channel 5 network.

“I do have an American passport. But at the end of the day, I’m a Muslim,” Junaid said last week.

Again I ask, what is the legal situation here? Are we or are we not at war? Is this or is this not treason? If by some miracle, he doesn’t get his sorry butt killed over there, and tries to come back, is there any reason that we shouldn’t simply confiscate his “American passport” (on which he apparently places so little value anyway) upon attempted return, and be told to go somewhere else (if not actually arrested and tried)? If, that is, at the end of the war, there is anyone else who would take him…