Burmese junta hits bottom, digs.

October 31, 2007

This is so low and so vile, part of me desperately wants to believe it’s a hoax. But I bet it isn’t: Brokers Supply Child Soldiers to Burma.

Burma’s military government has been forcibly recruiting child soldiers through brokers who buy and sell boys to help the army deal with personnel shortages, which have been exacerbated by desertions and public aversion to its brutality, Human Rights Watch concludes in a detailed report being released today.

Private militias and ethnic insurgent groups in Burma have also been using child soldiers, though in far smaller numbers, according to the New York-based group’s 135-page study, based on an investigation in Burma, China and Thailand.

"The brutality of Burma’s military government goes beyond its violent crackdown on peaceful protesters," said Jo Becker, children’s rights advocate for Human Rights Watch. "Military recruiters are literally buying and selling children to fill the ranks of the Burmese armed forces."

More at Blue Crab Boulevard, which notes the UN’s all too typical reaction: a bold decision to study the issue.

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Cross-dressing legislator: "I swear, I only gave him gas money!"

October 31, 2007

Uh-huh. Sure. And I’ll bet your constituents will believe that come next election time.

He’s in enough trouble with his wife as it is. I sure hope he didn’t borrow her lingerie without asking….

More here.

(hat tip: Memorandum)


The man gets it

October 30, 2007

Rudy Giuliani may be too socially liberal for some Republicans (though not me), but, on the crucial issues of our time –the struggle with Islamic fascism and the dangers of nuclear proliferation in the Persian Gulf area– he is right on the mark:

“Do I think the mission overall in Iraq is the correct one, I think without a doubt it is,” the former New York mayor said at Insight Technologies, which makes tactical weapon lights and laser systems for the military.

“And I think the Democrats are going to change their minds about it again,” Giuliani said, noting that Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards voted as senators for the initial invasion in 2003.

Edwards, who is no longer in the Senate, since has apologized for his vote. Clinton has not apologized, but has said she would not have voted for the measure authorizing use of force if she had known then what she knows now.

“I think they’re going to change their minds. I think the verdict of history is going to be that it was the right decision,” Giuliani said.

He argued that had the U.S. not invaded Iraq, it would now be facing two dangerous countries trying to become nuclear powers – Iraq and Iran.

“Suppose Hillary Clinton and John Edwards’ new position was their position back then, that it was a mistake to take him out,” Giuliani said, referring to former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. “Wouldn’t we be dealing with Saddam Hussein becoming nuclear right now? If Iran was becoming nuclear what would he be doing? Sitting there letting his arch enemy gain nuclear power over him? Or would we now be dealing with two countries seeking to become nuclear powers.

(Emphasis added)

The final report of the Iraq Survey Group established beyond a reasonable doubt that Saddam Hussein intended to restart his nuclear program once the sanctions regime against Iraq had ended. And, make no mistake about it, the sanctions regime was failing, as the UN Oil for Food scandal made nauseatingly clear. I remain convinced that, for this and other reasons, the invasion and liberation of Iraq was the best from among a bunch of bad choices facing us at the time.

And I’m heartened to see Mayor Giuliani thinks the same way. Honestly, all the serious Republican candidates (Giuliani, Romney, Thompson, and McCain) “get it,” and, on this issue, I could comfortably vote for any of them. (But not for this loon.) But Rudy states the issues most clearly, and I have no doubt he would act with decision and energy when needed. For that reason, and recognizing that not a single ballot has been cast yet in this ludicrously long campaign, Hizzoner is my favorite for the nomination.

(hat tip: Roger L. Simon)

UPDATE: Oh, and he opposes the Law of the Sea treaty, too. Go, Rudy.


They’re still trying to kill us: one in a series

October 29, 2007

The brave and noble warriors of jihad had another of their brave and noble plans foiled by lackeys of the Zionist Crusader Forces(tm), as Azerbaijani security forces broke up a plot to attack the US and British embassies in Baku:

A large-scale terrorist attack on embassies and government facilities in Azerbaijan has been foiled, according to authorities.

The National Security Ministry said it had thwarted a radical Islamic group’s plot to conduct a “horrifying terror attack” in the capital, Baku.

A group of Islamic militants has been detained after planning the attack near the US embassy in the ex-Soviet state’s capital, the ministry said.

The British embassy in Baku closed temporarily today and the US embassy scaled back its operations in response to the threat.

In a statement, the ministry said the radical group included an Azerbaijani army lieutenant who had stolen 20 hand grenades, a machine gun, four assault rifles and ammunition from his military unit in preparation for the attack. The group also reportedly possessed a grenade launcher.

Security forces tracked down the plotters, reportedly from the Wahhabi group, and arrested several of its members on Saturday during a sweep in the village of Mastaga, about 20 miles northeast of Baku.

(Emphasis added.)

Wahhabism is the purist sect that is one of the intellectual  wellsprings of modern Salafist, jihadist Islam. It’s also the only permitted sect in Saudi Arabia, our “ally” in the Long  War. Backed by Saudi money and young fools anxious to get themselves killed in pursuit of their 72 virgins, Wahhabism is spreading rapidly through the Islamic world — the Taliban, for example, are heavily influenced by the Wahhabism brought by Saudi imams to the madrassas in Pakistan.

It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that this “Wahhabi group” in Azerbaijan is largely Saudi, or at least lead by Saudis.

(hat tip: Wake Up America)


Would you like some rope, too?

October 29, 2007

My God, can Britain be this stupid?

Iranians study nuclear physics in Britain

THE Foreign Office has cleared dozens of Iranians to enter British universities to study advanced nuclear physics and other subjects with the potential to be applied to weapons of mass destruction.

In the past nine months about 60 Iranians have been admitted to study postgraduate courses deemed “proliferation-sensitive” by the security services. The disciplines range from nuclear physics to some areas of electrical and chemical engineering and microbiology.

Additionally, figures obtained by David Willetts, the shadow secretary for innovation, universities and skills, show that in 2005-06, 30 Iranians were doing postgraduate degrees in subjects covering nuclear physics and nuclear engineering.

The flow of Iranian scientists to Britain for training has caused alarm as the nuclear standoff between Iran and the West becomes increasingly tense.

No, really? You mean someone might be alarmed that we’re teaching Iranians crucial skills they need to build nuclear weapons, weapons that would be in the hands of millenarian religious fanatics who pray for a world without Israel and hope to create chaos that would hasten the return of their beloved Mahdi? (That’s the guy hiding at the bottom of a well. You’d think a divine savior could find someplace less damp.)

It’s news like this that makes me wonder if Lenin was right.

(hat tip: Melanie Phillips)

LINKS: More at Pat Dollard and Sweetness & Light.


Now’s not the time to panic

October 27, 2007

Over recent months more and more Republicans have become depressed at the party’s chances in the 2008 elections: there’s the remaining stink of the corruption scandals and free-spending ways that cost them so heavily in 2006 (though the Democratic majority is trying hard to out-stink them); an unpopular war pushed by an unpopular president (though things have so turned around in Iraq that even the press has had to notice); a perception of economic troubles (though the economy by any rational measure is going great guns); and an aura of invincibility and inevitability that’s grown around the likely Democratic nominee, Senator Hillary Rodham-Clinton (D – SEC Violations NY).

That last is particularly odd, since it seems to be a spillover from the Democratic nomination race: the press has anointed Hillary the nominee before any votes have been cast. Their propaganda on her behalf encourages people to back her and donors to give money, leading to great poll numbers and fabulous fundraising figures, which the press then declares to be proof of her frontrunner status, thus completing the circle. (And if you buy into the inevitability argument, I have two words for you: Howard Dean.)

The Hillary chorus has become so loud that it’s affected the Republican race, with many Republicans thinking they have no chance against the Clinton machine. No matter whom they nominate, Hillary can’t be beat.

Not so fast, writes Charles Krauthammer. Compared to the Democratic frontrunners, the Republicans have some pretty impressive candidates:

The point is … to argue that in 2007 we have, by any reasonable historical standard, a fine Republican field: One of the great big-city mayors of the last century; a former governor of extraordinary executive talent; a war hero, highly principled and deeply schooled in national security; and a former senator with impeccable conservative credentials. 

So why all the angst? If you’d like to share just a bit of my serenity, have a look at last Sunday’s Republican debate in Orlando. It was a feisty affair, the candidates lustily bashing each other’s ideological deficiencies — Mike Huckabee called it a "demolition derby" — and yet strangely enough, the entire field did well. 

McCain won the night by acclamation with a brilliant attack on Hillary that not so subtly highlighted his own unique qualification for the presidency. Citing his record on controlling spending, he ridiculed Hillary’s proposed $1 million earmark for a Woodstock museum. He didn’t make it to Woodstock, McCain explained. He was "tied up at the time." 

How do you beat that? McCain’s message is plain: Sure, I’m old, worn and broke. But we’re at war. Who has more experience in, fewer illusions about, and greater understanding of war — and an unyielding commitment to win the one we are fighting right now? 

Giuliani was his usual energetic, tough-guy self. He fended off attacks on his social liberalism with a few good volleys of his own — at Thompson, for example, for being a tort-loving accessory to the trial lawyers — and by making the fair point that he delivers a conservatism of results. His message? I drove the varmints out of New York City — with their pornography, their crime and their hookers (well, a fair number, at least). Turn me loose on the world. 

Romney’s debate performance was as steady and solid and stolid as ever, becoming particularly enthusiastic when talking about the things he’s done — build a business, rescue the Winter Olympics, govern the most liberal state in the Union. He got especially animated talking about his Massachusetts health care reform, achieved by working with an overwhelmingly Democratic Legislature. His message? I’m a doer, a problem solver, a uniter. 

(…) 

As for Thompson, he is a paradox, too. He’s been around forever — since Watergate — and yet is mostly a blank slate. Can anybody remember anything of significance he achieved in his eight years in the Senate? Nonetheless, he helped himself in Orlando, showing that while he can be appealingly amiable and affable — a Reaganesque quality that should not be underestimated when people decide who they want in their living rooms for the next four years — he can be tough, as demonstrated by his opening salvo at Giuliani’s social liberalism.

Compare that to the Democrats: Hillary is a one-term senator of little accomplishment and a record of abrasive ineffectualness when she was First Lady; Obama is a half-term senator and ex-state legislator with little record to speak of; Edwards spent most of his one term in the Senate running for president or vice-president; and Richardson, with arguably the best resume, is little more than a Clinton apparatchik who had the bad sense to take the execrable Joe Wilson on as a foreign policy advisor. 

That isn’t to replace pessimism with irrational exuberance and say the Republicans are destined to win the presidential race. Far from it. Aside from keeping their own party together, which could be quite difficult if Rudy is the nominee, the Republicans have to show independent voters and conservative Democrats that they are worthy to govern again, that they have the best approach to the problems facing America. It’s a tough sell, but they have four excellent candidates to make the pitch.

(hat tip: Blue Crab Boulevard)


When garbage detail is good

October 26, 2007

Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader of the Copperhead Democratic famously said last summer that, before the surge even had a chance to take effect, the war in Iraq was lost.

Well, in another sign that Harry doesn’t know what he’s talking about, the security situation in Ramadi –once dubbed the most dangerous city in Iraq– has become so good that Marines are more concerned with cleaning up the garbage than with guarding against terrorists:

Lt. Sayce W. Falk stopped mid-stride and stood in the dust-fine, silvery sand. He smiled serenely at the scene ahead.

“Good. That is good,” the lanky Marine said in a quiet, almost reverential tone as he watched workers load filth into the back of an orange dump truck. “It makes me happy, just to see them working.”

It would be an understatement to say that Falk has a passion for picking up trash. Like the other Marines in his infantry unit, the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Falk sees trash pickup as the key to maintaining security in Ramadi, where a decision last year by Sunni Arab tribal leaders to turn against insurgents has brought calm to the once-violent capital of Anbar province.

Falk is one of several members of the unit who were in Ramadi in early 2006, when U.S. convoys raced down the main drag at 65 mph to dodge insurgent gunfire. Every patrol risked hitting buried bombs or being caught in a gun battle.

The situation had changed by the time the unit returned in April. Marines trained as snipers, tank experts and riflemen found those skills unnecessary here. Instead, they became masters of municipal mess, working under the theory that the way to keep the Iraqi city from going back to the insurgency was by improving the quality of life, from the fetid ground up.

Now, instead of worrying about roadside bombs, they worry about puddles.

One of the points brought home by the article is the difficulty Americans are having getting Iraqi officials to take the initiative, to act on their own rather than awaiting government orders. Trash is just one example, with reporter Susman describing an overflowing garbage can that sat for weeks, in spite of repeated Marines entreaties to the Iraqis to just go empty it.

Decades under Saddam made Iraqis both dependent on government to make decisions, and fearful of punishment if they displeased anyone above them. I said when we invaded that we would be in Iraq for a long time, and I think this article is just one example of the mentoring needed at all levels until Iraqis develop the skills, initiative, and confidence to run a healthy, functioning state on their own. It’s difficult, but I think the progress being made shows it can be done.

One other thing: I’ve often complained (and I’ve read the complaints of others) that journalists only report the bad news: car bombs, scandalous behavior by Americans, &c., that they never hang around to report when things are calm and going well, thus giving a one-sided, negative narrative to their audience. The author of the LA Times article, Tina Susman, and her editors thus deserve a lot of praise for reporting on something as hopeful as plain-old garbage collecting.

(hat tip: PJM)