All posts by Rand Simberg

The Crescentade Is Failing

Several people have pointed out this article in the WaPo about the disillusionment of many formerly jihading muslims in Pakistan. This paragraph caught my eye particularly:

“Sufi Mohammad let down the people,” said Khisda Rahman, 35, in Chakdara. “He took all these guys and now they are dead or in prison. But he ran away and came back. People are asking why he didn’t sacrifice himself.”

When Sufi Mohammad organized the convoys that passed through Chakdara, “the whole town was celebrating,” Rahman said. “Now they are sad they did. They will never follow him again.”

Compare with these paragraphs from this web site:

Urban…promised them the Church’s blessing, the aid of God, and the certainly of being taking immediately into heaven for those who fell in the attempt.

The crowd was swept up in the call, and the cry of Deus vult! (“Gods wills it!”) spread far and wide. Almost all classes and nationalities of Europeans responded in a movement far greater and more varied than Urban may have expected. It is unlikely that anyone realized how well this call suited the needs and predisposition of the Europeans of the time.

It is ironic that so many Islamicists accuse the West of going on another crusade against them. The reality is that, just as Christianity went through its dark ages, so now is Islam (or at least some virulent sects of it) in their own. And the response is the same–a distraction of the peasants from their (government-imposed) peasantry with the excitement of a Holy War (in this case, Jihad or a Crescentade).

Fortunately, our communications and information transfer is much better now than it was in the European middle ages, so the lesson may be learned after a single dramatic failure, instead of having multiple Crescentades.

Our Friends The Swedes

who are concerned about us equating Arafat with terrorists. Horrors!

Foreign Minister Anna Lindh days:

“This is just insane. It contradicts the entire peace process…and can only lead to outright war in the Middle East.”

Yes, let’s continue to live in a fantasy world that allows the Palestinians to continue to dismantle themselves and Israeli civilians. That’s a lot better than a war.

More Revisionism

Josh Marshall makes an interesting statement in his comment on my recent post about Mr. Clinton’s friends and business associates.

He states, as though it were a fact, that:

The post (on another blog) lists Marc Rich, the McDougals, and even people like David Hale, who, if you actually follow these things, you know had little if any actual connection to Clinton — as opposed to fictive connections manufactured later, etc. etc. etc.

I will grant that Marc Rich was probably not a close associate of Mr. Clinton, since he wasn’t allowed in the country (as far as we know)–Mr. Clinton simply received money in exchange for a pardon, on at least the appearance.

And it is possible, if one wishes to engage in extreme wishful thinking, to believe that Mr. Clinton was technically innocent of any crimes in Whitewater (though it strains the credulity of anyone truly familiar with the record). But to think that nothing shady occurred, or that Mr. Clinton had little or no connection to David Hale or the McDougals, who were his documented business partners, is delusional.

My respect for Mr. Marshall’s opinions has diminished considerably.

First In War, First In Peace, First In the Hearts Of His Countrymen?

I don’t think so, but Yasser “Jihad” Arafat apparently does.

Responding to harsh criticism by US officials, Arafat also made an appeal yesterday to the American people in a program on the Qatari satellite channel Al- Jazeera, asking them to compare the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation to their own against British forces in the American War of Independence.

“Did you ever accept the British occupation of the United States,” Arafat asked. “Didn’t George Washington fight, along with his people, until they freed the United States?”

Obviously, my education of colonial history is deficient. I can’t recall reading about that part where England had millions of people living in cities on the east coast, and George Washington had the colonials strap black-powder balls to themselves and walk into New York shops to set them off.

I also must have been asleep in class on the day when they described how George Washington made speeches in English feigning conciliation and victimhood, and different speeches in colonialspeak urging his followers to drive all English men, women and children into the Atlantic.

And I must have cut class the day they explained how Washington, listening to the wise council of the French, and Spanish and Italians, urged him and his followers to withdraw from their own land to Mexico, and wait for the ultimate war that would defeat those evil Englishpeople living in America, after which they would be able to have all of the territory, even that part of it which had been legally granted by treaty. And that when that war was launched, and ignominiously lost, that George Washington started up bands of terrorists to kill innocent English civilians.

I was apparently taught by some historical revisionist that George Washington was fighting an empire across the sea, and that he waged war on the armed forces of that country, many of them mercenaries–not on innocent civilians in Philadelphia.

But I’m sure that now that Yasser has straightened us out, he will receive appropriate respect from world leaders. Maybe he’ll even get another well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize…

[Update at 3:30 PM]

UPI Columnist Jim Bennett provides an alternate point of view:

Actually, there were millions of English people living on the Eastern seaboard. Washington was one of them. The equivalent of the Arabs were the Indians, who did try terrorist tactics for a long time. In fairness, that was the way they always fought. And the surrounding powers did try to aid the Indians, while mostly exploiting them for their own strategic purposes.

But I don’t suppose Arafat would find the analogy of use in appealing to
Americans. It’s also not hopeful to the Palestinians.

Another Intifada?

An interesting article in today’s Telegraph. It lends additional support against the absurd notion that we are treating the Gitmo prisoners too harshly.

Brig Michael Lehnert, commanding troops at the base, said earlier that there were signs of a structure and activities emerging among the prisoners that could be a prelude to an act of violence or escape attempt.

“We’re seeing that some leaders are beginning to emerge. Many have received training and are observing activities such as security procedures. Many appeared disciplined and very patient.”

and

Some have tried to scratch out grids or messages on the floors and others have been caught hiding stones picked off the scrubby ground.

Of course, the anti-American boobwasie in Europe will say that such behavior can only be expected when we’re so cruel to the poor dears. They have no choice, under such inhumane conditions, except to gain their liberty and an end to their horrific suffering by any means necessary. They’re not terrorists–they’re just fighting for freedom, like the noble Palestinians, with stones if necessary.

Let’s review the bidding here. We have a group of people (to be generous with the term) who express enduring hatred of us, and a continuing desire to kill us. They have been extensively trained in all manner of stealth and mayhem. They show every sign of intent to carry out their vile desires, if allowed. Yet we’re supposed to treat them as run-of-the-mill criminals? Not on my planet.

There was another item of interest in the article concerning the news reports that Powell wanted to make some of these vipers POWs:

The leak appeared to have come from the Pentagon, many of whose officials view Gen Powell as bowing to pressure from the European Left and State Department officials who served under Bill Clinton.

More of Bill Clinton’s legacy. Keep polishing, Bill…

Ad Astra Per Ardua

Sixteen years ago today, I was sitting in a meeting at the Rockwell Space Transportation Systems Division in Downey, California. It was a status review meeting for a contract on which I was working, called the Space Transportation Architecture Study. It was a joint NASA/USAF contract, and its ostensible purpose was to determine what kind of new launch systems should replace or complement the Space Shuttle. Its real purpose was to try to get the Air Force and NASA Marshall to learn how to play together nicely and stop squabbling over turf and vehicle designs (it failed).

It was a large meeting, with many people in attendance from El Segundo and Colorado Springs (Air Force) and Houston, Huntsville and the Cape (NASA) as well as many Rockwell attendees.

As I sat there, waiting for the meeting to begin, one of my colleagues came running into the room, his face white as a freshly-bleached bedsheet. He leaned over and told me and others, in an insistent sotto voce, “I just saw the Challenger blow up.”

We stared at him in momentary disbelief.

“I’m serious. I just came from the mission control center. It just exploded about a minute after launch.”

One could actually see the news travel across the large meeting room as expressions of early-morning torpor transformed into incredulity and shock. More than most people, even with no more information than the above, we understood the implications. While there was speculation in the media all morning that the crew might be saved, we knew instantly that they were lost. We knew also that we had lost a quarter of the Shuttle fleet, with a replacement cost of a couple billion dollars and several years, and that there would be no flights for a long time, until we understood what had happened.

The ironic purpose of our meeting became at once more significant and utterly meaningless. Most of the NASA people immediately made arrangements to fly back to Houston, Huntsville and the Cape, and we held the session without them, in a perfunctory manner.

This was one of those events, like the more recent one in September, that is indelibly etched into memory–where you were, what you were doing, what you were feeling. I’m curious about any inputs from others, either in comments here or email.

Oh, and I should note that it’s an easy date to remember for me–it was (and remains still) the anniversary of my date of birth…

Maybe He’d Be More Comfortable Working For Dan Goldin’s NASA

Apparently there are still a few unrepentent socialists left in the former Soviet Union. Cosmonaut Valentin Lebedev isn’t very happy about this new-fangled free-enterprise Russian space program, in which people can travel into space by simply (horrors!) paying money.

It is a frightening trend; why, if this keeps up, it might eventually lead to free enterprise in that last proud bastion of socialist manned space programs–the USA.

[Thanks to Jim Bennett for the link]