Friday, September 10, 2004

David Horowitz: How The Left Undermined America's Security Before 9/11

David September 10, 2004

(The following article by David Horowitz first appeared in our March 24, 2004 issue. We are reprinting it to mark the three year anniversary of 9/11. -- The Editors)
While the nation was having a good laugh at the expense of Florida’s hanging chads and butterfly ballots, Mohammed Atta and Marwan al Shehhi were there, in Florida, learning to drive commercial jetliners [and ram them into the World Trade Center towers]. It will take a novelist to paint that broad canvas properly. It will take some deep political thinking to understand how the lackadaisical attitude toward government and the world helped leave the country so unready for the horror that Atta and Shehhi were preparing.
—Michael Oreskes, New York Times, October 21, 2001.

THE SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACKS on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center marked the end of one American era and the beginning of another. As did Pearl Harbor, the September tragedy awakened Americans from insular slumbers and made them aware of a world they could not afford to ignore. Like Franklin Roosevelt, George W. Bush condemned the attacks as acts of war, and mobilized a nation to action. It was a sharp departure from the policy of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, who in characteristic self-absorption had downgraded a series of similar assaults—including one on the World Trade Center itself—officially regarding them as criminal matters that involved individuals alone.

But the differences between the September 11 attacks and Pearl Harbor were also striking. The latter was a military base situated on an island 3,000 miles distant from the American mainland. New York is America’s greatest population center, the portal through which immigrant generations of all colors and ethnicities have come in search of a better life. The World Trade Center is the Wall Street hub of the economy they enter; its victims were targeted for participating in the most productive, tolerant and generous society human beings have created. In responding to the attacks, the President himself took note of this: "America was targeted for attack," he told Congress on September 20, "because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining."

In contrast to Pearl Harbor, the assault on the World Trade Center was hardly a "sneak attack" that American intelligence agencies had little idea was coming. Its Twin Towers had already been bombed eight years earlier, and by the same enemy. The terrorists themselves were already familiar to government operatives, their aggressions frequent enough that several commissions had been appointed to investigate. Each had reached the same conclusion. It was not a matter of whether the United States was going to be the target of a major terrorist assault; it was a matter of when.

In fact, the al-Qaeda terrorists responsible for the September 11 attacks had first engaged U.S. troops as early as 1993 when the Clinton Administration deployed U.S. military forces to Somalia. Their purpose was humanitarian: to feed the starving citizens of this Muslim land. But, America’s goodwill ambassadors were ambushed by al-Qaeda forces. In a 15-hour battle in Mogadishu, 18 Americans were killed and 80 wounded. One dead U.S. soldier was dragged through the streets in an act calculated to humiliate his comrades and his country. The Americans’ offense was not that they had brought food to the hungry. Their crime was who they were—"unbelievers," emissaries of "the Great Satan," in the political religion of the enemy they now faced.

The defeat in Mogadishu was a blow not only to American charity, but to American power and American prestige. Nonetheless, under the leadership of America’s then commander-in-chief, Bill Clinton, there was no military response to the humiliation. The greatest superpower the world had ever seen did nothing. It accepted defeat.

The War

On February 26, 1993, eight months prior to the Mogadishu attack, al-Qaeda terrorists had struck the World Trade Center for the first time. Their truck bomb made a crater six stories deep, killed six people and injured more than a thousand. The planners’ intention had been to cause one tower to topple the other and kill tens of thousands of innocent people. It was not only the first major terrorist act ever to take place on U.S. soil, but—in the judgment of a definitive account of the event—"the most ambitious terrorist attack ever attempted, anywhere, ever."

Six Palestinian and Egyptian conspirators responsible for the attack were tried in civil courts and got life sentences like common criminals, but its mastermind escaped. He was identified as Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, an Iraqi Intelligence agent. This was a clear indication to authorities that the atrocity was no mere criminal event, and that it involved more than individual terrorists; it involved hostile terrorist states.

Yet, once again, the Clinton Administration’s response was to absorb the injury and accept defeat. The president did not even visit the bomb crater or tend to the victims. Instead, America’s commander-in-chief warned against "over-reaction." In doing so, he telegraphed a clear message to his nation’s enemies: We are unsure of purpose and unsteady of hand; we are self-indulgent and soft; we will not take risks to defend ourselves; we are vulnerable.

The al-Qaeda terrorists were listening. In a 1998 interview, Osama bin Laden told ABC News reporter John Miller: "We have seen in the last decade the decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier who is ready to wage Cold Wars and unprepared to fight long wars. This was proven in Beirut when the Marines fled after two explosions. It also proves they can run in less than 24 hours, and this was also repeated in Somalia. We are ready for all occasions. We rely on Allah."

Among the terrorist entities that supported the al-Qaeda terrorists were Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization. The PLO had created the first terrorist training camps, invented suicide bombings and been the chief propaganda machine behind the idea that terrorist armies were really missionaries for "social justice." Yet, among foreign leaders Arafat was Clinton’s most frequent White House guest. Far from treating Arafat as an enemy of civilized order and an international pariah, the Clinton Administration was busily cultivating him as a "partner for peace." For many Washington liberals, terrorism was not the instrument of political fanatics and evil men, but was the product of social conditions—poverty, racism and oppression—for which the Western democracies, including Israel were always ultimately to blame.

The idea that terrorism has "root causes" in social conditions whose primary author is the United States is, in fact, an organizing theme of the contemporary political left. "Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘the free world’"—declared the writer Susan Sontag, speaking for this faction—"but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq?" (Was Susan Sontag unaware that Iraq was behind the first World Trade Center attack? That Iraq had attempted to swallow Kuwait and was a regional aggressor and sponsor of terror? That Iraq had expelled UN arms inspectors—in violation of the terms of its peace—who were there to prevent it from developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons? Was she unaware that Iraq was a sponsor of international terror and posed an ongoing threat to others, including the country in which she lived?)

During the Clinton years the idea that America was somehow responsible for global distress had become an all too familiar refrain among leftwing elites. It had particular resonance in the institutions that shaped American culture and policy—universities, the mainstream media and the Oval Office. In March 1998, two months after Monica Lewinsky became a White House thorn and a household name, Clinton embarked on a presidential hand-wringing expedition to Africa. With a large delegation of African-American leaders in tow, the President made a pilgrimage to Uganda to apologize for the crime of American slavery. The apology was offered despite the fact that no slaves had ever been imported to America from Uganda or any East African state; that slavery in Africa preceded any American involvement by a thousand years; that America and Britain were the two powers responsible for ending the slave trade; and that America had abolished slavery a hundred years before—at great human cost—while slavery persisted in Africa without African protest to the present day.

Four months after Clinton left Uganda, al-Qaeda terrorists blew up the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

"Root Causes"

Clinton’s continuing ambivalence about America’s role in the world was highlighted in the wake of September 11, when he suggested that America actually bore some responsibility for the attacks on itself. In November 2001, even as the new Bush administration was launching America’s military response, the former president made a speech at Georgetown University in which he admonished citizens who were descended "from various European lineages" that they were "not blameless," and that America’s past involvement in slavery should humble them as they confronted their attackers. Characteristically the President took no responsibility for his own failure to protect Americans from the attacks.

The idea that there are "root causes" behind campaigns to murder innocent men, women and children, and terrorize civilian populations was examined shortly after the Trade Center events by a writer in the New York Times. Columnist Edward Rothstein observed that while there was much hand-wringing and many mea culpas on the left after September 11, no one had invoked "root causes" to defend Timothy McVeigh after he blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building in 1995, killing 187 people. "No one suggested that this act had its ‘root causes’ in an injustice that needed to be rectified to prevent further terrorism." The silence was maintained even though McVeigh and his collaborators "asserted that their ideas of rights and liberty were being violated and that the only recourse was terror."

The reason no one invoked "root causes" to explain the Oklahoma City bombing was simply because Timothy McVeigh was not a leftist. Nor did he claim to be acting in behalf of "social justice"—the historical code for totalitarian causes. In an address to Congress that defined America’s response to September 11, President Bush sagaciously observed, "We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism."

Like Islamic radicalism, the totalitarian doctrines of communism and fascism are fundamentalist creeds. "The fundamentalist does not believe [his] ideas have any limits or boundaries,… [therefore] the goals of fundamentalist terror are not to eliminate injustice but to eliminate opposition." That is why the humanitarian nature of America’s mission to Mogadishu made no difference to America’s al-Qaeda foe. The terrorists’ goal was not to alleviate hunger. It was to eliminate America. It was to defeat "The Great Satan."

Totalitarians and fundamentalists share a conviction that is religious and political at the same time. Their mission is social redemption through the power of the state. Using political and military power they intend to create a "new world" in their own image. This revolutionary transformation encompasses all individuals and requires the control of all aspects of human life:

Like fundamentalist terror, totalitarian terror leaves no aspect of life exempt from the battle being waged. The state is felt to be the apotheosis of political and natural law, and it strives to extend that law over all humanity…. No injustices, separately or together, necessarily lead to totalitarianism and no mitigation of injustice, however defined, will eliminate its unwavering beliefs, absolutist control and unbounded ambitions.

In 1998 Osama bin Laden explained his war aims to ABC News: "Allah ordered us in this religion to purify Muslim land of all non-believers." As The New Republic’s Peter Beinart commented, bin Laden is not a crusader for social justice but "an ethnic cleanser on a scale far greater than the Hutus and the Serbs, a scale that has only one true Twentieth Century parallel."

In the 1990s America mobilized its military power to go to the rescue of Muslims in the Balkans who were being ethnically cleansed by Serbian communists. This counted for nothing in al-Qaeda’s calculations, any more than did America’s support for Muslim peasants in Afghanistan fighting for their freedom against the Red Army invaders in the 1980s. The war against radical Islam is not about what America has done, but about what America is. As bin Laden told the world on October 7, the day America began its military response, the war is between those of the faith and those outside the faith, between those who submit to the believers’ law and those who are infidels and do not.

While The Clinton Administration Slept

After the first World Trade Center attack, President Clinton vowed there would be vengeance. But like so many of his presidential pronouncements, the strong words were not accompanied by deeds. Nor were they followed by measures necessary to defend the country against the next series of attacks.

After their Mogadishu victory and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, unsuccessful attempts were made by al-Qaeda groups to blow up the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and other populated targets, including a massive terrorist incident timed to coincide with the millennium celebrations of January 2000. Another scheme to hijack commercial airliners and use them as "bombs" according to plans close to those eventually used on September 11, was thwarted in the Philippines in 1995. The architect of this effort was the Iraqi intelligence agent Ramzi Yousef.

The following year, a terrorist attack on the Khobar Towers, a U.S. military barracks in Saudia Arabia, killed 19 American soldiers. The White House response was limp, and the case (in the words of FBI director Louis B. Freeh) "remains unresolved." Two years later al-Qaeda agents blew up the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania killing 245 people and injuring 5,000. (One CIA official told a reporter, "Two at once is not twice as hard. It is a hundred times as hard.") On October 12, 2000 the warship USS Cole was bombed while re-fueling in Yemen, yet another Islamic country aligned with the terrorist enemy. Seventeen U.S. sailors were killed and 39 injured.

These were all acts of war, yet of the President and his cabinet refused to recognize them as such.

Why the Clinton Administration Slept

Clinton’s second term national security advisor, Sandy Berger, described the official White House position towards these attacks as "a little bit like a Whack-A-Mole game at the circus. They bop up and you whack ‘em down, and if they bop up again, you bop ‘em back, down again." Like the Administration he represented, the national security advisor lacked a requisite appreciation of the problem. Iraq’s dictator was unimpressed by sporadic U.S. strikes against his regime. He remained defiant, expelling UN weapons inspectors, firing at U.S. warplanes and continuing to build his arsenal of mass destruction. But "the Administration held no clear and consistent view of the Iraqi threat and how it intended to address it," observed Washington Post correspondent Jim Hoagland. The disarray that characterized the Clinton security policy flowed from the "Administration’s growing inability to tell the world—and itself—the truth." It was the signature problem of the Clinton years.

Underlying the Clinton security failure was the fact that the Administration was made up of people who for twenty-five years had discounted or minimized the totalitarian threat, opposed America’s armed presence abroad, and consistently resisted the deployment of America’s military forces to halt Communist expansion. National Security Advisor Sandy Berger was himself a veteran of the Sixties "anti-war" movement, which abetted the Communist victories in Vietnam and Cambodia, and created the "Vietnam War syndrome" that made it so difficult afterwards for American presidents to deploy the nation’s military forces.

Berger had also been a member of "Peace Now," the leftist movement seeking to pressure the Israeli government to make concessions to Yasser Arafat’s PLO terrorists. Clinton’s first National Security Advisor, Anthony Lake was a protégé of Berger, who had introduced him to Clinton. All three had met as activists in the 1972 McGovern presidential campaign whose primary issue was opposition to the Vietnam War based on the view that the "arrogance of American power" was responsible for the conflict rather than Communist aggression.

Anthony Lake’s own attitude towards the totalitarian threat in Southeast Asia was displayed in a March 1975 Washington Post article he wrote called, "At Stake in Cambodia: Extending Aid Will Only Prolong the Killing." The prediction contained in Lake’s title proved to be exactly wrong. It was not a small mistake for someone who in 1992 would be placed in charge of America’s national security apparatus. Lake’s article was designed to rally Democrat opposition to a presidential request for emergency aid to the Cambodian regime. The aid was required to contain the threat posed by Communist leader Pol Pot and his insurgent Khmer Rouge forces.

At the time, Republicans warned that if the aid was cut the regime would fall and a "bloodbath" would ensue. This fear was solidly based on reports that had begun accumulating three years earlier concerning "the extraordinary brutality with which the Khmer Rouge were governing the civilian population in areas they controlled." But Anthony Lake and the Democrat-controlled Congress dismissed these warnings as so much "anti-Communist hysteria," and voted to deny the aid.

In his Post article, Lake advised fellow Democrats to view the Khmer Rouge not as a totalitarian force—which it was—but as a coalition embracing "many Khmer nationalists, Communist and non-Communist," who only desired independence. It would be a mistake, he wrote, to alienate Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge lest we "push them further into the arms of their Communist supporters." Lake’s myopic left-wing views prevailed among the Democrats, and the following year the new president, Jimmy Carter, rewarded Lake with an appointment as Policy Planning Director of the State Department.

In Cambodia, the termination of U.S. aid led immediately to the collapse of the government allowing the Khmer Rouge to seize power within months of the congressional vote. The victorious revolutionaries proceeded to implement their plans for a new Communist utopia by systematically eliminating their opposition. In the next three years they killed nearly 2 million Cambodians, a campaign universally recognized as one of the worst genocides ever recorded.

The Warnings Ignored

For nearly a decade before the World Trade Center disaster, the Clinton Administration was aware that Americans were increasingly vulnerable to attacks which might involve biological or chemical weapons, or even nuclear devices bought or stolen from broken pieces of the former Soviet Union. This was the insistent message of Republican speeches on the floors of Congress and was reflected in the warnings of several government commissions, and Clinton’s own Secretary of Defense, William Cohen.

In July 1999, for example, Cohen wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post, predicting a terrorist attack on the American mainland. "In the past year, dozens of threats to use chemical or biological weapons in the United States have turned out to be hoaxes.
Someday, one will be real." But the warnings did not produce the requisite action by the commander-in-chief. Meanwhile, the nation’s media looked the other way. For example, as the president of the Council on Foreign Relations told the New Yorker’s Joe Klein, he "watched carefully to see if anyone followed up on [Cohen’s speech]. But none of the television networks and none of the elite press even mentioned it. I was astonished."

The following year, "the National Commission on Terrorism—chaired by former Reagan counter-terrorism head Paul Bremer—issued a report with the eerily foreboding image of the Twin Towers on its cover. A bi-partisan effort led by Jon Kyl and Dianne Feinstein—was made to attach the recommendations of the panel to an intelligence authorization bill." But Senator Patrick Leahy, who had distinguished himself in the 1980s by opposing the government’s efforts to halt the Communist offensive in Central America "said he feared a threat to ‘civil liberties’ in a campaign against terrorism and torpedoed the effort. After the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, Kyl and Feinstein tried yet again. This time, Leahy was content with emaciating the proposals instead of defeating them outright. The weakened proposals died as the House realized ‘it wasn’t worth taking up.’"

After the abortive plot to blow up commercial airliners in the Philippines, Vice President Gore was tasked with improving airline security. A commission was formed, but under his leadership it also "focused on civil liberties" and "profiling," liberal obsessions that diluted any effort to strengthen security measures in the face of a threat in which all of the proven terrorists were Muslims from the Middle East and Asia. The commission concluded that, "no profile [of passengers] should contain or be based on … race, religion, or national origin." According to journalist Kevin Cherry, the FAA also decided in 1999 to seal its passenger screening system from law-enforcement databases thus preventing the FBI from notifying airlines that suspected terrorists were on board."

In 1993, the FBI identified three charities connected to the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas that were being used to finance terrorist activities, sending as much as $20 million a year to America’s enemies. According to presidential adviser Dick Morris, "At a White House strategy meeting on April 27, 1995—two weeks after the Oklahoma City bombing—the President was urged to create a ‘President’s List’ of extremist/terrorist groups, their members and donors ‘to warn the public against well-intentioned donations which might foster terrorism.’ On April 1, 1996, he was again advised to ‘prohibit fund-raising by terrorists and identify terrorist organizations.’" Hamas was specifically mentioned.

Inexplicably Clinton ignored these recommendations. Why? FBI agents have stated that they were prevented from opening either criminal or national-security cases because of a fear that it would be seen as ‘profiling’ Islamic charities. While Clinton was ‘politically correct,’ Hamas flourished.

In failing to heed the signs that America was at war with a deadly adversary, overcome the ideological obstacles created by the liberal biases of his administration and arouse an uninformed public to concern, it was the Commander-in-Chief who bore primary responsibility. As one former administration official told reporter Joe Klein, "Clinton spent less concentrated attention on national defense than any another President in recent memory." Clinton’s political advisor Dick Morris flatly charged, "Clinton’s failure to mobilize America to confront foreign terror after the 1993 attack [on the World Trade Center] led directly to the 9/11 disaster." According to Morris, "Clinton was removed, uninvolved, and distant where the war on terror was concerned."

Opportunities Missed

By Clinton’s own account, Monica Lewinsky was able to visit him privately more than a dozen times in the Oval Office. But according to a USA Today investigative report, the head of the CIA could not get a single private meeting with the President, despite the Trade Center bombing of February 26, 1993 or the killing of 18 American soldiers in Mogadishu on October 3 of the same year. "James Woolsey, Clinton’s first CIA director, says he never met privately with Clinton after their initial interview. When a small plane crashed on the White House grounds in 1994, the joke inside the White House was, ‘that must be Woolsey, still trying to get an appointment.’"

In 1996, an American Muslim businessman and Clinton supporter named Mansoor Ijaz opened up an unofficial channel between the government of the Sudan and the Clinton Administration. At the same time, "the State Department was describing bin Laden as ‘the greatest single financier of terrorist projects in the world’ and was accusing the Sudan of harboring terrorists." According to Mansoor, who met with Clinton and Sandy Berger, "President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir, who wanted terrorism sanctions against Sudan lifted, offered the arrest and extradition of bin Laden and detailed intelligence data about the global networks constructed by Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, Iran’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas. Among the members of these networks were the two hijackers who piloted commercial airliners into the World Trade Center. The silence of the Clinton administration in responding to these offers was deafening."

President Bashir sent key intelligence officials to Washington in February 1996. Again, according to Mansoor, "the Sudanese offered to arrest bin Laden and extradite him to Saudi Arabia or, barring that, to ‘baby-sit’ him—monitoring all his activities and associates." But the Saudis didn’t want him. Instead, in May 1996 "the Sudanese capitulated to US pressure and asked Bin Laden to leave, despite their feeling that he could be monitored better in Sudan than elsewhere. Bin Laden left for Afghanistan, taking with him Ayman Awahiri, considered by the U.S. to be the chief planner of the September 11 attacks…."

One month later, the US military housing complex in Saudi Arabia was blown apart by a 5,000 lb truck bomb. Clinton’s failure to grasp the opportunity, concludes Mansoor, "represents one of the most serious foreign policy failures in American history."

According to a London Sunday Times account, based on a Clinton Administration source, responsibility for this decision "went to the very top of the White House. Shortly after the September 11 disaster, "Clinton told a dinner companion that the decision to let bin Laden go was probably ‘the biggest mistake of my presidency.’" But according to the Times report, which was based on interviews with intelligence officials, this was only one of three occasions on which the Clinton Administration had the opportunity to seize Bin Laden and failed to do so.

When the president’s affair with Monica Lewinsky became public in January 1998, and his adamant denials made it a consuming public preoccupation, Clinton’s normal inattention to national security matters became subsumed in a general executive paralysis. In Dick Morris’s judgment, the United States was effectively "without a president between January 1998 until April 1999," when the impeachment proceedings concluded with the failure of the Senate to convict. It was in August 1998 that the al-Qaeda truck bombs blew up the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The Failure to Take Security Seriously

Yet this was only half the story. During its eight years, the Clinton Administration was able to focus enough attention on defense matters to hamstring the intelligence services in the name of civil liberties, shrink the U.S. military in the name of economy, and prevent the Pentagon from adopting (and funding) a "two-war" strategy, because "the Cold War was over" and in the White House’s judgment there was no requisite military threat in the post-Communist world that might make it necessary for the United States to be able to fight wars on two fronts. Inattention to defense also did not prevent the Clinton Administration from pursuing massive social experiments in the military in the name of gender and diversity reform, which included requiring "consciousness raising" classes for military personnel, rigging physical standards women were unable to meet, and in general undermining the meritocratic benchmarks that are a crucial component of military morale.

While budget cuts forced some military families to go on food stamps, the Pentagon spent enormous sums to re-equip ships and barracks to accommodate co-ed living. All these efforts further reduced the Pentagon’s ability to put a fighting force in the field—a glaring national vulnerability dramatized by the war in Kosovo. This diminished the crucial elements of fear and respect for American power in the eyes of adversaries waiting in the wings.

During the Clinton years, the Democrats insistence that American power was somehow the disturber—rather than the enforcer—of international tranquility, prompted the White House to turn to multilateral agencies for leadership, particularly the discredited United Nations. While useful in limited peacekeeping operations, the UN was in large part a collection of theocratic tyrannies and brutal dictatorships which regularly indicted and condemned the world’s most tolerant democracies, specifically the United States, England and Israel, while supporting the very states providing safe harbors for America’s al-Qaeda enemy. Just prior to the World Trade Center attacks, the UN’s "Conference on Racism" engaged in a ritual of America bashing over "reparations" for slavery and support for Israel. The agendas had been set by an Islamic coalition led by Iran.

During the 1990s, Bill Clinton’s most frequent foreign guest was Yasser Arafat, whose allegiance to Iraq and betrayal of America during the Gulf War could not have been more brazen. Following the defeat of Iraq, a "peace process" was launched in the Arab-Israeli conflict that predictably failed through Arafat’s failure to renounce the terrorist option. But why renounce terror if there is no price exacted for practicing it?

Clinton and the Military

It is true that the Clinton White House was able, during its eight-year tenure, to shed some of the Democrats’ normal aversion to the use of American military might. (As recently as 1990 only 6 Democratic Senators had voted to authorize the Gulf War against Iraq). But the Clinton deployments of American forces were often non-military in nature: a "democracy building" effort in Haiti that failed; flood relief and "peace keeping" operations that were more appropriately the province of international institutions. Even the conflict Clinton belatedly engaged in the Balkans was officially characterized as a new kind of "humanitarian war," as though the old kinds of war for national interest and self-defense were somehow tainted. While the Serbian dictator Milosevic was toppled, "ethnic cleansing," the casus belli of the Western intervention, continues, except that the Christian Serbs in Kosovo have now become victims of the previously persecuted Albanian Muslims.

Among Clinton’s deployments were also half-hearted strikes using cruise missiles against essentially defenseless countries like the Sudan, or the sporadic bombing of Iraq when Saddam violated the terms of the Gulf peace. Clinton’s strikes failed in their primary objective—to maintain the UN inspections. On the other hand, a negative result of this "Whack-A-Mole" strategy was the continual antagonizing of Muslim populations throughout the world.

The most notorious of these episodes was undoubtedly Clinton’s ill-conceived and ineffectual response to the attacks on the African embassies. At the time, Clinton was preoccupied with preparing his defense before a grand jury convened because of his public lies about the Lewinsky affair. Three days after Lewinsky’s grand jury appearance, without consulting the Joint Chiefs of Staff or his national security advisors, Clinton launched cruise missiles into two Islamic countries, which he identified as being allied to the terrorists and their leader Osama bin Laden. One of these missiles hit and destroyed a pharmaceutical factory in the Sudan, killing one individual. Since the factory was the sole plant producing medicines for an impoverished African nation, there were almost certainly a number of collateral deaths.

The incident, which inflamed anti-American passions all over the Islamic world, was—in conception and execution—a perfect reflection of the distorted priorities and reckless attitudes of the Clinton White House. It also reflected the irresponsibility of congressional Democrats who subordinated the safety concerns of their constituents to provide unified support for the presidential misbehavior at home and abroad.

The Partisan Nature of the Security Problem

More than 100 Arabic operatives participated in the attack on the World Trade Center Towers. They did so over a period of several years. They were able to enter the United States with and without passports seemingly at will. They received training in flying commercial airliners at American facilities despite clear indications that some of them might be part of a terrorist campaign. At the same time, Democrats pressed for greater relaxation of immigration policies and resisted scrutiny of foreign nationals on the grounds that to do so constituted "racial profiling." To coordinate their terrorist efforts, the al-Qaeda operatives had to communicate with each other electronically on channels that America’s high-tech intelligence agencies normally intercept. One reason they were not detected was that the first line of defense against such attacks was effectively crippled by powerful figures in the Democratic Party who considered the CIA the problem and not America’s enemies.

Security controls that would have prevented adversarial agents from even acquiring encryption devices that thwarted American intelligence efforts were casually lifted on orders from the highest levels of government. Alleged abuses by American intelligence operatives became a higher priority than the abuses of the hostile forces they were attempting to contain. Reporter Joe Klein’s inquiries led him to conclude, "there seems to be near unanimous agreement among experts: in the ten years since the collapse of the Soviet Union [and the eight years of the Clinton presidency, and the seven since the first Al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center] almost every aspect of American national-security—from military operations to intelligence gathering, from border control to political leadership—has been marked by … institutional lassitude and bureaucratic arrogance…"

The Democrats’ Anti-Intelligence Bill

The Democrats’ cavalier attitude towards American security in the years preceding September 11 was dramatized in a bill to cut the intelligence budget sight unseen, which was introduced every year of the Clinton Administration by Independent Bernie Sanders. The fact that Sanders was an extreme leftist proved no problem for the Democrats—still enjoying their long-standing congressional majority—when they appointed him to a seat on the House intelligence committee. Indeed why should it be a problem? Shortly before the World Trade Center attack, Senate Democrats made another leftist, California Senator Barbara Boxer, an opponent of the war against Saddam Hussein and a long-time critic of the American military, the chair of the Senate Sub-committee on Terrorism.
The Sanders initiative was launched in 1993, after the first al-Qaeda attack on the World Trade Center. In that year, the Democrat-controlled House Intelligence Committee had voted to reduce President Clinton’s own authorization request for the intelligence agencies by 6.75%. But this was insufficient for Sanders. So he introduced an amendment that required a minimum reduction in financial authorization for each individual intelligence agency of at least 10%.

Sanders refused to even examine the intelligence budget he proposed to cut: "My job is not to go through the intelligence budget. I have not even looked at it." According to Sanders the reasons for reducing the intelligence budget were that "the Soviet Union no longer exists," and that "massive unemployment, that low wages, that homelessness, that hungry children, that the collapse of our educational system is perhaps an equally strong danger to this Nation, or may be a stronger danger for our national security."

Irresponsible? Incomprehensible? Not to nearly half the Democrats in the House who voted in favor of the Sanders amendment. Ninety-seven Democrats in all voted for the Sanders cuts, including House Armed Services Committee chair Ron Dellums and the House Democratic leadership. As the terrorist attacks on America intensified year by year during the 1990s, Sanders steadfastly reintroduced his amendment. Every year thereafter, right until the World Trade Center attack, nearly 100 Democrats voted with him to cut the intelligence budget.

According to a study made by political consultant Terry Cooper, "Dick Gephardt (D-MO), the House Democratic leader, voted to cut on five of the seven amendments on which he was recorded. He appears to have ‘taken a walk’ on two other votes. David Bonior (D-MI), the number-two Democratic leader who as Whip enforces the party position, voted for every single one of the ten cutting amendments. Chief Deputy Whips John Lewis (D-GA) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) voted to cut intelligence funding every time they voted. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), just elected to replace Bonior as Whip when Bonior leaves early in 2002, voted to cut intelligence funding three times, even though she was a member of the Intelligence Committee and should have known better. Two funding cut amendments got the votes of every single member of the elected House Democratic leadership. In all, members of the House Democratic leadership supported the Saunders funding cut amendments 56.9 percent of the time."

Many of the Democrats whose committee positions give them immense say over our national security likewise voted for most or all of the funding cut amendments. Ron Dellums (D-CA), the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee from 1993 through 1997, cast all eight of his votes on funding cut amendments in favor of less intelligence funding. Three persons who chaired or were ranking Democrats on Armed Services subcommittees for part of the 1993-99 period—Pat Schroeder (D-CO), Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) and Marty Meehan (D-MA)—also voted for every fund-cutting amendment that was offered during their tenures. Dave Obey (D-WI), the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee that holds the House’s keys to the federal checkbook, voted seven out of eight times to reduce intelligence funding.

In 1994, Republican Porter Goss, a former CIA official and member of the House Intelligence Committee, warned that because of inflation, the cuts now proposed by Sanders-Owens amounted to 16% of the 1992 budget and were 20% below the 1990 budget. Yet this did not dissuade Dellums, Bonior and roughly 100 Democrats from continuing to lay the budgetary ax to America’s first line of anti-terrorist defense. Ranking Committee Republican Larry Combest warned that the cuts endangered "critically important and fragile capabilities, such as in the area of human intelligence." In 1998, Osama bin Laden and four radical Islamic groups connected to al-Qaeda issued a fatwa condemning every American man, woman and child, civilian and military included. Sanders responded by enlisting Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio to author an amendment cutting the intelligence authorization again.

David Horowitz is the author of numerous books including an autobiography, Radical Son, which has been described as “the first great autobiography of his generation,” and which chronicles his odyssey from radical activism to the current positions he holds. Among his other books are The Politics of Bad Faith and The Art of Political War. The Art of Political War was described by White House political strategist Karl Rove as “the perfect guide to winning on the political battlefield.” Horowitz’s latest book, Uncivil Wars, was published in January this year, and chronicles his crusade against intolerance and racial McCarthyism on college campuses last spring. Click here to read more about David

Clifford May: Patriotic Muslims Join the War on Terror

Clifford D. September 10, 2004

Christians slaughtered by terrorists in Beslan, Russia. Nepalese Hindus butchered by terrorists in Iraq. Jews suicide-bombed in Beersheba, Israel.

On this third anniversary of 9/11, adherents of a radically and rabidly politicized version of Islam are still not discriminating – they are attacking innocents of all races, creeds and colors.

But the hopeful news is that within the Muslim world voices are beginning to speak out against the terrorists, the nihilist barbarians who – if not stopped – will damage both the causes they claim to champion and Islam itself.

“We cannot tolerate in our midst those who abduct journalists, murder civilians, explode buses,” wrote Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, the general manager of Al-Arabiya news channel. “We cannot accept them as related to us, whatever the sufferings they claim to justify their criminal deeds.”

He added: “These are the people who have smeared Islam and stained its image. We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women.”

Such courageous responses are long overdue -- as Nonie Darwish, self-described “daughter of an Arab warrior,” has noted. “The world has been seeing Arab radical terrorism growing without much international outcry for half a century,” she wrote. “Many thought it is only against Israel and its interests and ignored it.”

True, such voices are still a minority. Many leaders in the Arab and Muslim worlds avoid taking positions that might anger radicals. And there are still those who defend terrorism.
Known as “the spiritual leader” of the Al-Muhajiroun sect, Omar Bakri Mohammed lives near London, where last weekend he told an interviewer that he would not condemn the massacre of hundreds of Russian children. On the contrary, he would support similar attacks elsewhere – including in Britain where he has been granted asylum.

"If an Iraqi Muslim carried out an attack like that in Britain, it would be justified,” he declared, “because Britain has carried out acts of terrorism in Iraq.”

This weekend, Mohammed noted, he will be appearing at a 9/11 event -- to commemorate not the victims, but the perpetrators.

Of course, it is not just Islamists who condone terrorism. Darwish observes that “many in the West and the UN are still finding excuses for terrorism.”

Take Michael Kinsley, one of America's leading public intellectuals. He has written:

An illegitimate tactic used in a legitimate cause, as part of a conflict with legitimate and illegitimate tactics and aspirations on both sides, is different from an illegitimate tactic used for purposes that are utterly crazed and malevolent.

How is that different from Omar Bakri Mohammed's view?

Similarly, editors at the Reuters news agency long ago pronounced that “one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.” They will not judge whether those who murder children in classrooms, decapitate hostages and blow up buses are any worse than, say, George Washington or Mahatma Gandhi.

By contrast, Egypt's Grand Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi has accused the killers in Russia of “taking Islam as a cover -- and it is a deceptive cover; those who carry out the kidnappings are criminals, not Muslims."

Certainly some terrorists have legitimate grievances and the causes they claim to represent may be just. The plight of the Chechens falls into such a category.

Chechyna, a mostly Muslim land, resisted Tsarist Russian conquest until the middle of the 19th Century. During World War II, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin exiled hundreds of thousands of Chechens to Siberia, believing them to be likely Nazi allies.

In 1991, as the Soviet Union was collapsing, Chechnya briefly achieved independence. But Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first post-Soviet president, used an iron fist to restore Kremlin rule. Vladimir Putin, Russia's current leader, has been equally brutal. Since 1994, more than 80,000 Chechens have been killed.

Still, nothing suggests that most Chechens support the Beslan atrocities. Exiled Chechen president Alsan Maskhadov does not condone the mass murder of children. His London spokesman said the terrorists are harming the cause of Chechen independence. "But, of course, their demands have all to do with Chechnya,” he acknowledged, “so whatever has happened the Chechens will be held responsible. That's what I'm afraid of."

The Chechen terrorist leader, Shamil Basayev, seeks more than an independent Chechnya. Like his al Qaeda allies, he wants a new Islamic caliphate that would expand well beyond Chechnya's borders.

Hamas, the Palestinian organization that claimed responsibility for the Be'ersheba bombing, has similar ambitions. Reuters is reluctant to tell you what Hamas wants: not an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, but an Islamist state in place of Israel, one that would kill or ethnically cleanse its non-Muslim population.

As for the butchering of the Nepalese in Iraq, that was carried out by Ansar al Islam, an al Qaeda affiliate that was based in north-eastern Iraq while Saddam Hussein was in power. For Ansar the question is not, “Why kill minimum-wage workers from Nepal?” but “Why not?”

On the third anniversary of 9/11, self-proclaimed jihadis -- “holy warriors” -- are engaged in a World War against Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and, not least, moderate Muslims.

“Islamist terrorism represents one of the most lethal threats to the stability of the civilized world,” said Kamal Nawash, the Palestinian leading the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism. “Democracy can not succeed unless terrorism is defeated and Islamic extremism is discredited.”

It helps that more people like him are joining the battle. CBS News Exposed?

CBS NEWS EXPOSED?: The problem is CBS News wanted the Bush National Guard memos to be true. In fact, the memos confirmed all of their suspicions and doubts about George W. Bush so they more or less assumed they were authentic. They got some "expert" to say they were legit and then they plowed ahead with their hit piece on President Bush.
Twenty years ago, ten years ago, even five years ago they might have gotten away with it. However, in the new information age that we live in today, driven by the blogosphere, the fraud appears to have unraveled in less than 24 hours.

Our friends over at Powerline got the ball rolling at 7:51 yesterday morning. The flood gates were fully opened when the 800lb gorilla on the internet, the DrudgeReport, linked to Scott Johnson's post on Powerline. From there the likely hoax spread like wildfire throughout the blogosphere.

Little Green Footballs and indcjournal followed up with a series of posts outlining more evidence against the CBS' documents. Before noon Jim Geraghty over at NRO's Kerry Spot asked:

I want to reserve my final judgment on this one — but the early evidence doesn't look good for CBS, or the Boston Globe.....CBS News and the Globe ought to check this out big-time, and fast. If they ran with a story based on a forgery (and a forgery that the blogosphere managed to check out in just a few hours) this report will join Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair, and Janet Cooke in journalism's hall of infamy.

Our friend Hugh Hewitt was able to track down forensic document expert Farrell Shiver and interviewed him at length on his nationally syndicated radio show, and subsequently posted the full transcript at And then at 7:20 EST, less than 24 hours after the original 60 Minutes exclusive ran, Stephen Hayes at the Weekly Standard filed: Is It a Hoax? Experts weigh in on the 60 Minutes documents. Says one: "I'm a Kerry supporter myself, but . . . I'm 99% sure that these documents were not produced in the early 1970s."

This morning the front page of the Washington Post becomes the the first major paper to acknowledge the likelihood that CBS was duped. The New York Times and the Boston Globe, which ran front page stories attacking President Bush Wednesday and Thursday, citing the CBS documents, were silent on their front pages. The Globe actually ran an above the fold story titled: "Kerry Team, DNC Hit Bush on Guard Issue."

Now, to be fair this story has not been conclusively proven to have been a fraud, and there is still a chance, albeit a pretty darn small one, that CBS, the Times and the Globe have it right, and the blogosphere has it wrong. But I wouldn't be making any big bets on Old Liberal Media on this one.

We'll get in to the political dynamics of this fiasco later, if indeed it does turn out that this story is a hoax, but let's just say that after yesterday's three major polls showing Kerry trailing 4 - 9 points nationally and Gallup's state polls showing Kerry behind in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Missouri this is not what the Kerry campaign needed. J. McIntyre 8: 33 am Link Email Send to a Friend

Victor Davis Hanson: The Whole World is Watching

September 10, 2004, 7:00 am.

Three years of terrorism since September 11.

Chechen Islamicists burn up Russian airliners and shoot schoolgirls — and say they are victims, deprived of the chance for their own autonomous theocracy. Beheaders in Iraq decapitate Americans, Pakistanis, Koreans, Japanese, and Nepalese — only to claim that these are infidels guilty of trying to build roads and bridges. Italian humanitarians and charity workers are kidnapped by Islamicists. In the "holy" city of Najaf, religious extremists bomb innocents, not only without gratitude for those who freed them from Saddam, but full of hatred for those who would bring them consensual government.

Islamic terrorists kidnap French journalists and threaten them with execution, demanding that a sovereign nation previously known for its appeasement of radical Middle Eastern rogue regimes overturn a law protecting secular life in its schools. Hamas "freedom fighters" blow up buses inside Israel and call the dead children Zionists who belong in the sea.

Islamic fascists incinerate dozens in Madrid, and claim they have a right to do so because of the Spanish role in ridding the world of the Hussein clan — or was the real rub the Reconquista? Australians in Bali are engulfed in flame by car bombers for the felony of being Western visitors in an Islamic enclave.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, as in the major capitals of Europe, Islamic terrorists are arrested periodically, seeking to trump the foul work of September 11. Theocrats blew apart General Massoud in Afghanistan, attempted to kill President Musharraf of Pakistan, and now claim that they plan to do the same to our own leaders here in the United States. A few thousand Islamic males made an entire nation take off their shoes at their airports and changed forever the daily routine of 300 million Americans — and promise they are not done yet.

Ask yourself: What do a Russian ten-year-old, a poor black farmer in Darfur, an elderly pensioner in Israel, a stockbroker in New York, and a U.N. aid worker in Afghanistan have in common? In the last three years, they have all died in similar ways: Unarmed and civilian, they were murdered by a common cowardly method fueled by a fascist ideology.
The recent slaughters in Russia were the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back of excusing or explaining away radical Islamic terror. If the Estonians can break away from post-Soviet oppression and free themselves from Russian authoritarianism without slaughtering schoolchildren and blowing up airplanes, then the Chechens can as well — but only if they wish to create democracy rather than an Islamic fascist state.

But there is something else going on here besides the cloak of so-called Chechen nationalism. The perversion not of religion per se, but of Islam; the singular method of suicide bombing rarely found elsewhere; the frequent resort to the unique grotesquery of beheading; the now-common display of abject incompetence on the battlefield coupled with craven slaughter of the noncombatant and civilian aid worker. At some point, the leaders of the Western world (if there are any left besides George W. Bush and Tony Blair) are going to look at all this madness worldwide and come to the bitter conclusion that there is a disgusting pattern: Not every Muslim is a fascist terrorist, but almost every fascist terrorist is a Muslim. Killers are not screaming "Hail Mary" when they machine gun children in the back, slit the throat of airline stewardesses, or blow pregnant women up on buses across the globe. And they are not the subjects of condemnatory fatwas in Iran or Saudi Arabia.

Their grievance is not really Russian imperialism, or the 5 to 10 percent of the West Bank under dispute, or black African encroachment on Arab land, or purported French insensitivity to legitimate Islamic pride, much less an American "crusade" to harm Muslims.

All these issues and the hundreds of others — from the right to build a reactor in Iran to the desire for a semi-autonomous Chechnya — in theory could be discussed, argued about, and adjudicated through democratic dialogue.

But that is impossible. For you see, the real problem is the democratic dialogue itself — unknown in the Arab Middle East and much of the Islamic world, and a hindrance to both sharia and the pan-Arabist thug with epaulettes and sunglasses. Yet consensual government alone is the key to ending failed statist economies, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, state-controlled media, and tribalism. It alone might stop the self-induced misery and with it the tedious scapegoating of "the Jews and America."

Much of the Islamic Middle East continues to blame others for its own induced catastrophe, apparently unaware — thanks to the lever of oil it didn't discover, doesn't know how to develop, and uses to intensify rather than alleviate its poverty — that its entire culture is becoming an international pariah. Islamic young men on European flights are looked at with distrust; they are not welcome in Russia. China wants none of them. They are wary of visiting India. Australia learned from Bali. The whole world is watching — in disgust.

In short, the suicide bomber, the improvised explosive device, the car bomb, the televised beheading, the wacko fatwa, the sleazy propaganda streamer on the Internet, the new cult of death — all cowardly and lethal phenomena — these are now the innovations that the world associates with the Middle East in lieu of gene research, car production, or computer breakthroughs. If you look for gender equity in the Middle East, you won't find it in Arab Olympic delegations, Saudi schools, or the Iranian government, but in the opportunity for young women to blow themselves up right beside men. Indeed, killing infidels is the nascent women's-liberation movement of the radical Muslim world.
It won't do to fault a few bad apples — as if when Ziad Jarrah in his red bandanna yelled out "Allah is the greatest" as he crashed United Flight 93 on September 11, he did so alone, to the horror and disgust of the Arab Street, and without a shared ideology.

Yet if we look for change from within, the Arab League offers instead the tired victimization from colonialism of some 50 years past or retro European-Zionist conspiracies of the 1940s. It remains mostly silent about past American efforts to free Kuwait, save Bosnians and Kosovars, topple murderers such as Saddam and the Taliban — and is completely mute about the ongoing Arab genocide of black Africans in Darfur.

The last three decades have taught Americans that extending aid or help to the Islamic world is almost as bad as warring with it, inasmuch as the Middle East apparently admires strength of any sort but despises magnanimity as decadence. Here at home there will always be a retired Clintonian diplomat or Council on Foreign Relations grandee to assure us that "the Bush foreign policy" is what stirred up the previously sober Middle East or alienated those once courageous French and Germans — as if the last decade did not lead logically to September 11.

But there is a problem here that makes our struggle more than just a war against the "terror" of newfound stealthy cells. Libya came clean not out of principle but out of fear. Saudi Arabia is not quite the Saudi Arabia of September 11, thanks to American pressure. There is a reason Dr. Khan was exposed and Pakistan is suddenly doing more to harm than help al Qaeda. The cause of all of this ongoing change is not fear of a windsurfing John Kerry as the next president threatening a more "sensitive" war.

True, this war can be lost if we fail to address the hearts and minds of the Arab people — if we fail to offer something better than the false choice between jihad and autocracy. Chechnya of the 1990s proves that perhaps. But it cannot be won by aid and diplomacy alone — any more than the Kaiser, Mussolini, Hitler, Tojo, and Stalin and his successors could be talked or bought out of their extremism.

The U.S. military — not NATO, the U.N., or the EU — shut down the al Qaeda sanctuary in Afghanistan and the nightmare of Saddam's Iraq. It is the only protector of the effort to jumpstart reform in Iraq. Appreciation of that power impressed both Pakistan and Libya.

Threat of that force keeps terrorist killers in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran careful not to leave visible tracks among their compliant, but also apprehensive, hosts. India understands that; so does China. Russia also grasps that there is now no appeasement possible with Islamic killers. How the Arab-Islamic world managed to unite over 3 billion nuclear Anglo Americans, Indians, Chinese, and Russians in their suspicions of it will be a case-study in imbecility for diplomatic historians for decades to come.

Only the Europeans, in their fear and impotence, still pray that obsequiousness might fend off Islamofascism, as if a Madrid is an aberration rather than a harbinger of worse to come. Only the elite radical American Left is either too timid or too morally bankrupt to condemn the new fascism in the Middle East or the Arab genocide in Sudan, preferring instead to whine about Bush's "lies" and all the other non-issues that the most secure and leisured people on the planet protest about for an hour or two before calling it a day.

Some insist that this war is only against a few "crazy" extremists and that it cannot be won by force. That is half true. In fact, millions of young Middle Easterners are watching Islamic fascists to learn whether to applaud or condemn them — and that decision in places like Najaf, Fallujah, Kandahar, Madrid, Grozny, and Ramallah sadly hinges as much on resolute force as it does on "sensitive" understanding. There are millions we must help, but there are also thousands of wannabe Osama bin Ladens and Mohammed Attas who have neither minds nor hearts that anyone would want to win over.

In a war against such killers, it is the proverbial "Them or Us." Islamic fascists are not crazy — however crazy they sound — but evil, as their evil work confirms. We do not need more lectures about the impossibility of winning a postmodern conflict, about al Qaeda's not following the laws of Clausewitz or being immune to our way of war. In fact, we can and have defeated them. Keep doing that and the "hearts and minds" of others in the region, whom we are already helping, will mysteriously prove more open to dialogue.
Fail again like we did on September 11 — and the entire United States Treasury could not buy the good will of an Islamic Street once more gone mad with delight for having felled the Great Satan.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a visiting professor for the month of September and a fellow of Hillsdale College.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Ann Coulter: The More Kerry Changes, The More He Stays The Same

Ann Coulter
September 9, 2004

There's been a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth among the Democrats since Vice President Cheney said if the country makes the wrong choice on Election Day, "then the danger is that we'll get hit again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States." (I mean there is weeping among Democrats who aren't actually rooting for us to get hit again because "we deserve it!")

I believe this is one of those "issues" Democrats claim to be champing at the bit to discuss – in lieu of discussing the charges of the Swift Boat veterans. In fact, there is no more important issue in this election: Which candidate will best protect America from terrorist attack? Hint: It's not the guy whose running mate (sounding so much like Sean Hayes from "Will and Grace" it was eerie) said their message to the terrorists was: "We will destroy youuuuuuu!"

Of course, it gets complicated trying to do a side-by-side comparison of the candidates' positions on terrorism since we don't know which John Kerry is running for president. The one who opposes war with Iraq or the one who supports it? The one who opposes the Patriot Act or the one who voted for it? The one who wants to work with the allies, or the one who ridicules them when they support America?

The only way Kerry's constantly changing positions on little matters like war would seem rational is if we found out he was using a Ouija board to determine his positions – much as he's using a crystal ball to predict when we should start removing U.S. troops from Iraq. Six months – whoops, no, four years. Stupid crystal balls – they never work!

Republicans have been having raucous fun trying to predict what Kerry's next policy shift will be. Education? AIDS? Pollution? Dang! He picked women's rights! OK, here's another dollar. Give me three more balls, please.

While waiting for the Ouija board to give us Kerry's final answer on the Iraq war, perhaps we could get an answer on something simpler – like whether or not Kerry owns an SUV.

During the Democratic primaries, Kerry went to Michigan and bragged to the Detroit News: "We have some SUVs. We have a Jeep. We have a couple of Chrysler minivans. We have a PT Cruiser up in Boston. I have an old Dodge 600 that I keep in the Senate. ... We also have a Chevy, a big Suburban." He was starting to sound like a used-car dealer in a giant cowboy hat peddling his wares in a cheesy, low-budget late-night TV commercial: "We got Jeeps, we got PT Cruisers, we got minivans, and they're priced to move, folks ..."

But a few months after Kerry won the Michigan primary in February, the feckless opportunist told a bunch of environmentalists: "I don't own an SUV." When pressed on the apparent contradiction, Kerry explained: "The family has it. I don't have it." We're still waiting for reaction from some group calling themselves "SUV Owners for the Truth."

As I recall, when it came to funding his campaign last January with a $6 million mortgage on the "family" home in Boston – owned by Kerry's billionaire wife – he was not so picky about what he owns and what she owns. Back then, Kerry had somewhat more liberal views on the notion of "community property" – or maybe that was just the pre-nup talking.

The "family" angle could also explain Kerry's positions on the wall in Israel: His wife supports it and he opposes it!

Speaking to an Arab group in Michigan in October 2003, Kerry called Israel's erection of a wall between Israeli and Palestinian areas "another barrier to peace."

But a few months later, Kerry got on the fence on the subject of the wall. Adding clarity to the subject, his campaign issued a memo in February, saying Kerry took the precise opposite position of his earlier position. The memo said: "John Kerry supports the construction of Israel's security fence to stop terrorists from entering Israel. The security fence is a legitimate act of self-defense ..."

So the wall was either (1) a barrier to peace or (2) a legitimate act of self-defense. The campaign then said Kerry had meant to say the real barrier to peace was Pink Floyd's "The Wall."

While Kerry works out his positions, apparently the voters have decided that their legitimate act of self-defense is to vote for Bush.

Ann Coulter is a bestselling author and syndicated columnist. Her most recent book is Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism.

Abdel Rahman al-Rashed: A Wake-up Call For Muslims

An Arab journalist challenges Islamic terror

12:01 AM CDT on Thursday, September 9, 2004
The Dallas Morning News


It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.

The hostage-takers of children in Beslan, North Ossetia, were Muslims. The other hostage-takers and subsequent murderers of the Nepalese chefs and workers in Iraq were also Muslims. Those involved in rape and murder in Darfur, Sudan, are Muslims, with other Muslims chosen to be their victims.
Those responsible for the attacks on residential towers in Riyadh and Khobar were Muslims. The two women who crashed two airliners last week were also Muslims.
Osama bin Laden is a Muslim. The majority of those who manned the suicide bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and buildings, all over the world, were Muslim.
What a pathetic record. What an abominable "achievement." Does all this tell us anything about ourselves, our societies and our culture?

These images, when put together or taken separately, are shameful and degrading. But let us start with putting an end to a history of denial. Let us acknowledge their reality, instead of denying them and seeking to justify them with sound and fury signifying nothing.

For it would be easy to cure ourselves if we realize the seriousness of our sickness. Self-cure starts with self-realization and confession. We should then run after our terrorist sons, in the full knowledge that they are the sour grapes of a deformed culture.

Let us listen to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the sheikh – the Qatar-based radical Egyptian cleric – and hear him recite his fatwa about the religious permissibility of killing civilian Americans in Iraq. Let us contemplate the incident of this religious sheikh allowing, nay even calling for, the murder of civilians.

This ailing sheikh, in his last days, with two daughters studying in "infidel" Britain, soliciting children to kill innocent civilians.

How could this sheikh face the mother of the youthful Nick Berg, who was slaughtered in Iraq because he wanted to build communication towers in that ravished country? How can we believe him when he tells us that Islam is the religion of mercy and peace while he is turning it into a religion of blood and slaughter?

In a different era, we used to consider the extremists, with nationalist or leftist leanings, a menace and a source of corruption because of their adoption of violence as a means of discourse and their involvement in murder as an easy shortcut to their objectives.
At that time, the mosque used to be a haven, and the voice of religion used to be that of peace and reconciliation. Religious sermons were warm behests for a moral order and an ethical life.

Then came the neo-Muslims. An innocent and benevolent religion, whose verses prohibit the felling of trees in the absence of urgent necessity, that calls murder the most heinous of crimes, that says explicitly that if you kill one person you have killed humanity as a whole, has been turned into a global message of hate and a universal war cry.
We can't call those who take schoolchildren as hostages our own.

We cannot tolerate in our midst those who abduct journalists, murder civilians, explode buses; we cannot accept them as related to us, whatever the sufferings they claim to justify their criminal deeds. These are the people who have smeared Islam and stained its image.

We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women.

We cannot redeem our extremist youths, who commit all these heinous crimes, without confronting the sheikhs who thought it ennobling to reinvent themselves as revolutionary ideologues, sending other people's sons and daughters to certain death, while sending their own children to European and American schools and colleges.

Abdel Rahman al-Rashed is general manager of Al-Arabiya news channel. This article first appeared in the London-based pan-Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

John McWhorter: Why I'm Black, Not African-American

September 9, 2004
The Manhattan Institute

It's time we descendants of slaves brought to the United States let go of the term "African American" and go back to calling ourselves Black — with a capital B.

Modern America is home now to millions of immigrants who were born in Africa. Their cultures and identities are split between Africa and the United States. They have last names like Onwughalu and Senkofa. They speak languages like Wolof, Twi, Yoruba and Hausa, and speak English with an accent. They were raised on African cuisine, music, dance and dress styles, customs and family dynamics. Their children often speak or at least understand their parents' native language.

Living descendants of slaves in America neither knew their African ancestors nor even have elder relatives who knew them. Most of us worship in Christian churches. Our cuisine is more southern U.S. than Senegalese. Starting with ragtime and jazz, we gave America intoxicating musical beats based on African conceptions of rhythm, but with melody and harmony based on Western traditions.

Also, we speak English. Black Americans' home speech is largely based on local dialects of England and Ireland. Africa echoes in the dialect only as a whisper, in certain aspects of sound and melody. A working-class black man in Cincinnati has more in common with a working-class white man in Providence than with a Ghanaian.

With the number of African immigrants in the U.S. nearly tripling since 1990, the use of "African American" is becoming increasingly strained. For example, Alan Keyes, the Republican Senate candidate in Illinois, has claimed that as a descendant of slaves, he is the "real" African American, compared with his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, who has an African father and white mother. And the reason Keyes and others are making arguments such as this is rather small, the idea being that "African American" should refer only to people with a history of subordination in this country — as if African immigrants such as Amadou Diallo, who was killed by police while reaching for his wallet, or Caribbean ones such as torture victim Abner Louima have found the U.S. to be the Land of Oz.

We are not African to any meaningful extent, but we are not white either — and that is much of why Jesse Jackson's presentation of the term "African American" caught on so fast. It sets us apart from the mainstream. It carries an air of standing protest, a reminder that our ancestors were brought here against their will, that their descendants were treated like animals for centuries, and that we have come a long way since then.

But we need a way of sounding those notes with a term that, first, makes some sense and, second, does not insult the actual African Americans taking their place in our country. And our name must also celebrate our history here, in the only place that will ever be our home. To term ourselves as part "African" reinforces a sad implication: that our history is basically slave ships, plantations, lynching, fire hoses in Birmingham, and then South Central, and that we need to look back to Mother Africa to feel good about ourselves.

But what about the black business districts that thrived across the country after slavery was abolished? What about Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wright and Thurgood Marshall, none born in Africa and all deeply American people? And while we're on Marshall, what about the civil rights revolution, a moral awakening that we gave to ourselves and the nation. My roots trace back to working-class Black people — Americans, not foreigners — and I'm proud of it. I am John Hamilton McWhorter the Fifth. Four men with my name and appearance, doing their best in a segregated America, came before me. They and their dearest are the heritage that I can feel in my heart, and they knew the sidewalks of Philadelphia and Atlanta, not Sierra Leone.

So, we will have a name for ourselves — and it should be Black. "Colored" and "Negro" had their good points but carry a whiff of Plessy vs. Ferguson and Bull Connor about them, so we will let them lie. "Black" isn't perfect, but no term is.

Meanwhile, the special value of "Black" is that it carries the same potent combination of pride, remembrance and regret that "African American" was designed for. Think of what James Brown meant with "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm proud." And then imagine: "Say it loud, I'm African American and I'm proud."

Since the late 1980s, I have gone along with using "African American" for the same reason that we throw rice at a bride — because everybody else was doing it. But no more. From now on, in my writings on race I will be returning to the word I grew up with, which reminds me of my true self and my ancestors who worked here to help make my life possible: Black.

John McWhorter, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is the author of "Authentically Black" (Gotham Books, 2003).

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Jonah Goldberg: What's Wrong With You People?

September 8, 2004 Print Send

Liberal academics and journalists have been asking this question in various forms a lot lately. And it seems that, as John Kerry's campaign continues to flounder, they're asking it more and more bluntly.

In the August 30 issue of the New Yorker, Pulitzer Prize winner Louis Menand tries to figure out why on earth voters vote the way they do, particularly why they don't vote liberal. The depressing conclusion, for Menand, is that huge numbers of Americans have no good reason to vote at all. He quotes one recent study that asserts " '2.8 million people voted against Al Gore in 2000 because their states were too dry or too wet' as a consequence of that year's weather patterns."

The most comprehensive presentation of this thesis comes from Thomas Frank, a left-wing journalist and author of the bestseller "What's the Matter with Kansas." Frank argues that conservatives have been duping lower- and middle-class voters into voting Republican, when any moron can see that these people should vote their class interests - that is, vote Democrat. "The preeminent issue of our day," Frank writes, is "people getting their interests wrong."

He cites, for example, the "Piss Christ" controversy which, well, I'll let him describe it: "Because some artist decides to shock the hicks by dunking Jesus in urine, the entire planet must remake itself along the lines preferred by the Republican Party, U.S.A."

If the word "hick" didn't clue you in, Frank is very condescending to those who vote on that broad array of issues we generally put under the rubric "values."

We'll come back to that point in a moment. Another major voice in the voters-are-stupid chorus is Princeton economist Larry Bartels (he's the one who came up with that blame-it-on-the-weather explanation of Gore's loss). In numerous studies Bartels has sought to show that voters are inherently irrational in their electoral choices. Voters often profess to believe one thing, he argues, while at the same time they do quite another. Their votes often contradict their beliefs and interests, in other words - at least as political scientists define these things.

In the June issue of the American Prospect, Bartels summarizes his study "Homer Gets a Tax Cut." Here's the gist: Americans believe, by huge majorities, that income inequality is a problem that is getting worse. Yet by equally large majorities they support George Bush's effort to repeal the estate tax, even though it only affects estates worth more than $1 million. The fools!

Bartels says these voters are operating on "unenlightened self-interest." Hence the reference to "The Simpsons." Homer thinks his taxes are too high, so he supports a tax cut for super-rich Mr. Burns. As Simpsons-o-phile, I salute the reference. And I think Bartels' data is often very interesting, especially since I'm the sort of curmudgeon who thinks voting should be more difficult and there should be less of it. (That's a column for another day.) But, all in all, this whole thing strikes me a huge steaming pile of . well, let's just call it nonsense.

Let me try to peel the onion a bit. First of all, the assumption behind all of this is that liberal economic policies are, in fact, in the average Joe's economic self-interest. This needs to be proven, not asserted. In an age when average Joes are in the stock market and own homes at unprecedented rates, it is not obvious to me that Republican policies are contrary to their bottom lines. Moreover, many of these people hope to be rich one day. Or they hope their children will be.

Which gets us to the next point. People vote - or at least should vote - based upon the kind of country they want their kids to live in. And that means they vote on more issues than narrow economic interest, however defined. Most people - liberals and conservatives - don't see the government as the source of a welfare check and therefore don't vote for the party that promises to put the most zeros on that check. Most see government more as a protector than a nanny. And some people see the government as a reflection of, and influence on, the society in general. And so asking them to subsidize soaking Jesus in urine offends them not because they're "hicks" but because they don't think that's the sort of society they want to raise kids in.

Besides, what an enormous crock it is to say that Democrats or liberals only believe in voting their economic interests. A great many environmental issues hurt working-class voters. For example, the Arctic Wildlife Refuge would be open for drilling if working-class interests were the sine qua non of liberalism. Indeed, why do most liberals oppose the death penalty? Or favor gay marriage? They would cite justice more than self-interest. Unless, that is, I missed the news that most liberals are murderous homosexuals eager to tie the knot before they get the electric chair.

Jonah Goldberg is editor of National Review Online, a member group.
©2004 Tribune Media Services
Contact Jonah Goldberg Read Goldberg's biography Catholic Official Condemns Dutch Euthnasia Proposal

Vatican Official Blasts Dutch Euthanasia for Children Proposal

by Steven Ertelt Editor September 3, 2004
The Vatican ( -- A leading Catholic official is blasting a proposal in the Netherlands that would allow children under the age of 12 to request assisted suicide.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia, the vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, condemned the idea saying "the final boundary will have been crossed" in disrespect for the sanctity of human life.

"No one can claim such homicidal responsibility for himself or for another person. No authority can legitimately impose or permit it. This is a violation of divine law, an offense at the dignity of the human person, a crime against a life and an attack against humanity," the papal representative said.

Bishop Sgreccia warned of a "moral relativism" that has "anesthetized society," and said that modern medicine is wrongly focusing on costs rather than the welfare of the patient.

Approved in 2002, Dutch law allows adult patients suffering from incurables diseases to request assisted suicide. Teenagers under the age of 16 must have their parents approval, but the newly proposed law would drop that to 12 years of age.

Bishop Sgreccia's comments, which appeared in the newspaper l'Osservatore Romano, said that children that young can't provide valid consent.

The Vatican official said the Dutch law is rapidly moving away from assisted suicide and towards euthanasia. Many residents of the European nation wear arm bracelets telling doctors not to end their lives prematurely.

Sgreccia said that Catholic teaching on end of life issues and its opposition to euthanasia and assisted suicide is "well known, constantly repeated, and confirmed."

"We must repeat with the utmost firmness that nothing and no one can give permission to kill an innocent human being, whether he be a fetus, an embryo, a child, an adult, an old person or a sick person in incurable agony," wrote Sgreccia.

Expanding on the Catholic Church's pro-life policies on assisted suicide and euthanasia, the Pope in March said that removing the feeding tube of a disabled patient is immoral and amounts to "euthanasia by omission."

Pope John Paul II also said that the lexicon used to describe such patients -- as being in a "vegetative state" was degrading and inhuman.

Christopher Hitchens: Murder By Any Other Name

The rest of the world may be tiring of jihad, but The Nation isn't.

Posted Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2004, at 11:31 AM PT

Not to exaggerate or generalize or anything, but in the past week or so it seems to have become very slightly less OK to speak of jihad as an understandable reaction to underlying Muslim grievances. The murder of innocents in a Russian school may have been secondarily the result of a panic or a bungle by Vladimir Putin's "special forces," but nobody is claiming that the real responsibility lies anywhere but on the shoulders of the Muslim fanatics. And the French state's policy of defending secularism in its schools may have been clumsily and even "insensitively" applied, but nobody says that the kidnapping and threatened murder of two French reporters is thereby justified. As for the slaughter of the Nepalese workers in Iraq … you simply have to see the video and hear the Quranic incantations in the voice-over. (I use the words "murder" and "slaughter" by the way, and shall continue to do so, as I hope you will, too. How the New York Times can employ the term "execution" for these atrocities is beyond me.)

Even Abdulrahman al-Rashed, the general manager of Al-Arabiya television, was less euphemistic than that. In a column published under the unambiguous headline, "The Painful Truth: All the World Terrorists are Muslims!" he wrote, in the pan-Arab paper Al-Sharq al-Awsat: "Our terrorist sons are an end-product of our corrupted culture."

According to a very interesting AP report from Maggie Michael, this was part of a wider refusal and denunciation across Arab and Muslim media. It wasn't all unambiguous—some critics said that the Chechen outrage was so bad that the Israelis must have been behind it—but it had a different tone from the usual trash about holy war and martyrdom. By the same token, nobody coerced the majority of French Muslim schoolchildren into turning up quiet and on time, almost all unveiled, on the day of the murder "deadline" set by the kidnappers in Iraq.

Often unspoken in commentary on attacks on America and Americans—and even worse, half-spoken—has been the veiled assumption that such things have a rough justice to them. The United States, with its globalizing blah-blah and its cowboy blah-blah, supposedly invites such wake-up calls. And the sorry fact is that French and Russian commentators and politicians have been noticeable for their promiscuity in this respect. It's also true that the French and Russian record could, if you looked at it in one way, be a real cause of sacred rage. (The French authorities have backed Saddam Hussein and many other regional despots, and the conduct of Russian soldiers in Chechnya makes Abu Ghraib look like a blip on the charts.) But no serious person would ever let these considerations obscure a full-out denunciation of those who deliberately make war on civilians. So let us ponder this serious moment, of solidarity with French and Russian victims, and hope to build upon it.

Any jeering can be saved for the strictly political, in which category I would include the recent speech of the new French foreign minister, Michel Barnier. In an address to the annual conference of French ambassadors on Aug. 26, Barnier pointedly warned the assembled envoys that "France is not great when it is arrogant. France is not strong when it is alone." He very noticeably did not mention America, or American policy, even once.

All that was lacking from his address was a self-criticism for French "unilateralism" and a promise that in future he would seek to "build alliances." Intelligent French people understand that the Bonapartist policy of the Chirac-de Villepin regime has been deeply damaging: You can see this in any French newspaper. In pledging to shape his own policy to conciliate the Elysée Palace, in other words, John Kerry seems to have once again chosen to change ships on a falling tide.

Another small but interesting development has occurred among my former comrades at The Nation magazine. In its "GOP Convention Issue" dated Sept. 13, the editors decided to run a piece by Naomi Klein titled "Bring Najaf to New York." If you think this sounds suspiciously like an endorsement of Muqtada Sadr and his black-masked clerical bandits, you are not mistaken. The article, indeed, went somewhat further, and lower, than the headline did. Ms. Klein is known as a salient figure in the so-called antiglobalization movement, and for a book proclaiming her hostility to logos and other forms of oppression: She's not marginal to what remains of the left. Her nasty, stupid article has evoked two excellent blog responses from two pillars of the Nation family: Marc Cooper in Los Angeles and Doug Ireland in New York. What gives, they want to know, with a supposed socialist-feminist offering swooning support to theocratic fascists? It's a good question, and I understand that it's ignited quite a debate among the magazine's staff and periphery.

When I quit writing my column for The Nation a couple of years ago, I wrote semi-sarcastically that it had become an echo chamber for those who were more afraid of John Ashcroft than Osama Bin Laden. I honestly did not then expect to find it publishing actual endorsements of jihad. But, as Marxism taught me, the logic of history and politics is a pitiless one. The antiwar isolationist "left" started by being merely "status quo": opposing regime change and hinting at moral equivalence between Bush's "terrorism" and the other sort. This conservative position didn't take very long to metastasize into a flat-out reactionary one, with Michael Moore saying that the Iraqi "resistance" was the equivalent of the Revolutionary Minutemen, Tariq Ali calling for solidarity with the "insurgents," and now Ms. Klein, among many others, wanting to bring the war home because any kind of anti-Americanism is better than none at all. These fellow-travelers with fascism are also changing ships on a falling tide: Their applause for the holy warriors comes at a time when wide swathes of the Arab and Muslim world are sickening of the mindless blasphemy and the sectarian bigotry. It took an effort for American pseudo-radicals to be outflanked on the left by Ayatollah Sistani, but they managed it somehow.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair and a regular contributor to Slate. His most recent book, Blood, Class and Empire: The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship, is out in paperback.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004 Thoughts on Beslan

by Dan Darling at September 5, 2004 08:46 PM
From the blog:

I didn't intend for this to be my first blog entry on Winds of Change since my return from DC, but I thought it might help to supplement Armed Liberal's earlier remarks on Chechnya and in particular the people who orchestrated the wave of terrorism that has killed upwards of 500 Russian civilians since last week.

This should in no way be seen as an endorsement of Russian policies in Chechnya, which have been worse than brutal - they're simply ineffective. I'll conclude with a link to a reputable organization that is seeking to raise money for the victims of this tragic act of barbarism.

A little background ...

First of all, claims that this has to do with the Russian military presence in Chechnya completely misunderstand the situation.

The problem with Chechnya, more or less, is that the Russians tried to surrender after their failure to bring the rebellious republic back into the fold in the first Chechen war and it didn't work. The country was taken over by a mixture of international terrorist organizations, Wahhabi theocrats, drug cartels, and other criminal organizations that subsided more or less on generous funding from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

This funding helped the Wahhabis to finalize control over the institutional infrastructure of the de facto independent state and led for calls for the imposition of sha'riah even though most Chechens (and Caucasus Muslims in general) are Sufis. The al-Qaeda presence in Chechnya was headed up by bin Laden's protege Amir ibn al-Khattab, a Saudi national who had previously assisted Islamic fighters in the Tajik Civil War and the Armenia-Azerbaijan War over Nagorno-Karabakh.

In 1999, Khattab and his "Islamic International Brigade" used Chechnya as a base from which to invade the neighboring Russian republic of Dagestan (summarized here by GlobalSecurity) as part of a long-term al-Qaeda strategy to export the Chechen political culture to the rest of the Caucasus. That failed invasion of Dagestan marks the proper beginning of the current fighting in Chechnya.

Originally, the Chechen command structure was fairly solid and made up of both secular nationalists led by President Aslan Maskhadov and Wahhabi extremists led by Shamil Basayev, the former Chechen prime minister who serves as Khattab's superior, having fought alongside him in Nagorno-Karabakh and been yet another product of Afghanistan's terrorist training camp. However, since the fall of Grozny in 2002 the Chechen Wahhabi fighters under Basayev have increasingly been in ascendance and are set up along the following lines:

United Forces of the Caucasian Mujahideen: The Russians refer to this group as the Supreme Military Majlis ul-Shura of the Mujahideen Forces of Caucasus, but this is the coordinating organization under which all of the Chechen Wahhabi groups operate that is headed up by Shamil Basayev. It also includes the Chechen sha'riah court, which provides theological rationales for activities such as that which we witnessed in Beslan.

Islamic International Brigade (IIB): Commanded first by Khattab and then his late successor Abu Walid al-Ghamdi (a relative of 3 of the 9/11 hijackers), the IIB is also known as the "Arab brigade" or the al-Ansar Mujahideen due to the high percentage of Arab al-Qaeda fighters in its ranks. While other Chechen groups contain al-Qaeda members serving either as "officers" or in some kind of a military advisor capacity, the IIB is unquestionably the hub of the al-Qaeda presence in Chechnya.

Special Purpose Islamic Regiment: (SPIR) Also known as the al-Jihad Fisi Sabiliah Special Islamic Regiment and formerly commanded by the late Ruslan Gelayev (killed in early 2004), SPIR engages primarily in guerrilla attacks against Russian forces as well as the execution of those Chechens deemed to be collaborators. Also contains a fair number of Turkish jihadis in its ranks.

Riyadus Salikhin: This is a Romanization of the Russified form of Riyadh al-Saliheen or Garden of the Righteous, which I believe comes from Islamic descriptions of Paradise. This is basically the Chechen equivalent to the Tamil Tigers' Black Tigers suicide bombing squad and essentially performs the same duties for the Chechen Wahhabis. It first came into existence in June 2000 when two suicide bombers blew up a truck loaded with explosives at a checkpoint near a Russian OMON (Special Forces) unit at Alkhan-Yurt in Chechnya.

Suicide bombing, I should mention, is not an indigenous Chechen tradition but rather a Middle East import, although the Chechen sha'riah court has appropriated the concept of smertnitsi (the idea of virtuous warriors willing to sacrifice their own lives in defense of others) in its theological justifications. In most cases, members of Riyadus Salikhin are the widows of dead Chechen jihadis.

Islamic Army of Dagestan: The name given to the Karamakhi-based Dagestanis recruited by Khattab that helped him to forment his 1999 invasion of Dagestan.
Military Council Majlis al-Shura of Ingushetia: The name given to the Ingush Wahhabis who fought alongside the United Forces during the June 2004 raid into Ingushetia and led by Abu Kutayba, a Saudi national.

Urus-Martan Front: A small Ingush group led by Akhmed Basnukayev that was fighting for greater autonomy in the Urus-Martan and Achkoi-Martan districts of Chechnya before it was absorbed into the framework of Basayev's United Forces.

Basayev's terror offensive ...
Since August 21, Russia has been subject to a wave of Chechen terrorist attacks masterminded by Basayev and bankrolled by al-Qaeda through the personage of an Arab national named Abu Omar al-Saif who serves as the network's paymaster in the Caucasus. While the European and Pakistani arrests of numerous mid-level al-Qaeda figures over the summer appear at least on the surface to have disrupted the network's plans for attacks inside Pakistan and hopefully the continental United States, no similar pattern of disruption appears to have occurred in Iraq or the Caucasus by virtue of the famed al-Qaeda decentralization.

Here's a basic chronology of Chechen attacks prior to Beslan:
From August 21-22, upwards of 60 Russian and Chechen-backed troops were slaughtered in and around the Russian-controlled Chechen capital of Grozny. While Russian troops routinely die by the dozens inside Chechnya, these attacks utilized the same tactics that were first harnessed in the June 22 raid by hundreds of Chechen and Ingush jihadis into the Ingush capital Nazran as well as the nearby cities of Karabulak and Sleptsovsk. Over 100 Ingush were killed during that raid, including the republic's interior minister, and the 3 cities were more or less sacked by Basayev's fighters. I mention this because it indicates just how confident Basayev was feeling to have devoted such a large percentage of his forces to the raid. In contrast to the tactics employed by Sadr's Mahdi Army (which attempted to take and hold territory), Basayev's fighters took what they needed from the Russian armories and banks and left the town before Russian reinforcements could arrive.

On August 24, we had the twin plane bombings apparently carried out by members of Riyadus Salikhin that killed 89.

On August 31, a double suicide bombing in Moscow killed 10, also perpetrated by members of Riyadus Salikhin.

Why North Ossetia ...
Basayev's reasons for selecting North Ossetia in general and Beslan in particular are obvious to one familiar with the warped nature of al-Qaeda and its fellow travelers.

Unlike most of the North Caucasus, most North Ossetians are Eastern Orthodox Christians, so it "makes sense" to target them rather than say Russian Muslim schoolchildren in Ingushetia or Dagestan if you're a Wahhabi who subscribes to bin Laden's belief in a Huntingtonian-esque clash of civilizations. In addition to being majority Christian, North Ossetia was also one of the few regions of the North Caucasus that voluntarily joined the Russian Empire and its population formed a lot of the levies that were eventually used to subdue other Caucasus nations that refused to submit to the Tsar. As such, even the murder of innocent schoolchildren can be fit into a warped idea of "vengeance" for actions that their ancestors may have committed.

I should point out that regardless of what one thinks about Russian involvement in Chechnya, the people of Beslan had no power whatsoever to effect Russian policy in region. Basayev is an educated man who is quite familiar with the North Caucasus, so he must have known this when he was planning the attack. Things like this make his decision to target the innocent people of Beslan all that much more inexcuseable.

However, I should point out that Basayev's ambitions extend far beyond just Chechen independence, so everybody saying that a political solution to the Chechen war or Russian withdrawl from the region is going to solve the issue is going to be sorely disappointed.

Here's Amir Ramzan, one of Basayev's flunkies, in an interview with the Chechen propaganda website Kavkaz Center from last year:

Q: From your words I can assume that you operate not only in Chechnya but all over the North Caucasus.
R: Yes, very much so. Not only we carry out raids to various areas in the Caucasus, but we also form local Jama’ats, militant sabotage groups locally. We are joined by a lot of Kabardinians, Dagestanis, Karachaevans, Ingushetians and even Ossetians (Muslims).

Q: That means that those in Russia who say that you want to create a caliphate in the Caucasus from sea to sea, are right?
R: Yes, it is so. Since they are unwilling to negotiate with us, then we’ll be doing what we can. And there is a lot we can do. Next year the war will seize the entire Caucasus from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea. Apart from Ossetia and Ingushetia, this year another guerrilla war has already started in two areas of Dagestan bordering Chechnya. I swear by Allah, this is only the beginning. Russian authorities are well aware of this and this is why they are trying to organize formations of the local residents in the area who could resist us effectively. Similar process is taking place in Chechnya. But it will come to absolutely nothing. Having reached a certain level of confrontation inside Chechnya, Russia will sooner or later have to withdraw its troops beyond the Terek River, for instance. In that case we will need no more than two weeks to destroy all the pro-Russian puppet formations.

Note that his reference to negotiations refers to the establishment of a caliphate from the Black Sea to the Caspian, not to Russian withdrawl from Chechnya. So unless one wants Putin to consider placing millions of people in the hands of these madmen, there is really very little for him to negotiate with Basayev about. Maskhadov is another matter entirely and the Russians might do well to obtain a political settlement on that end, as he has indicated that he might well be open to such a thing.

Fred Pruitt also has some thoughts on what the Russians can learn on their end from what happened in Beslan and I think he hits the nail pretty well on the head.

Links to al-Qaeda ...
People keep asking me about this over on Regnum Crucis or via e-mail, so I'll be up-front:
in my own opinion, the only difference between al-Qaeda and Basayev's Chechen Killer Korps is one of semantics, especially when one considers the prominence of people like bin Laden's protege Khattab or Abu Walid al-Ghamdi within the hierarchy of the Chechen forces loyal to Basayev. I've said as much before, but since there is a fair amount of quibbling that can be done in this regard I'll just stick to what is pretty much universally agreed upon by serious observers of the situation in Chechnya, including even some politicians:

Khattab first met bin Laden during the Afghan War and later served as the leader of an al-Qaeda brigade sent to assist first the Tajik Islamists in the Tajik Civil War and later the Azeri military during the Armenia-Azerbaijan War during the early 1990s.

Ties between al-Qaeda and a number of other Chechen leaders go at least as far back as the early 1990s.

Basayev first met with Khattab while fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and then traveled to Afghanistan to receive al-Qaeda training along with several hundred fellow Chechens.
By August 1995, a large number of Basayev's followers were Afghan-trained Chechen or Arab fighters.

Several hundred additional Chechens were trained in Afghanistan during the republic's period of de facto independence from Russia and former Chechen president Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev convinced Mullah Omar to recognize Chechnya as an independent state and allow it to set up offices in Kabul and Kandahar. A number of elite Chechen fighters were also made members of bin Laden's personal guard.

Basayev and Khattab sent emissaries to Afghanistan in 1999, who met with bin Laden in Kandahar and returned with several hundred members of al-Qaeda's elite Brigade 055 as well as a large amount of cash to help bankroll the invasion of Dagestan. An additional $30,000,000 was later funnelled to Khattab from bin Laden through the International Islamic Relief Organization and Global Relief NGOs based in Georgia.

As the fighting intensified in late 1999, bin Laden sent large amounts of money and weapons to Basayev, Khattab, and Arbi Barayev and appointed Abu Tariq to oversee the distribution of al-Qaeda funds in Chechnya. Abu Tariq was killed in December 2002 and succeeded by Abu Omar al-Saif, another Arab national.

Al-Qaeda funding was used by Chechen commanders loyal to Basayev to recruit fighters from Georgia, Ingushetia, South Ossetia, Azerbaijan, and Dagestan.
The last contingent of Chechen trainees arrived in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001 fought against the US-backed Northern Alliance at Mazar-e-Sharif and Kunduz during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).

After 9/11, Khattab sent a token force of Chechen and Arab fighters to Afghanistan to demonstrate his solidarity with bin Laden as well as recognition of him as the undisputed leader of the international Islamist movement.

A number of key al-Qaeda commanders, including Saif al-Islam al-Masri and Abu Iyad, a member of the group's ruling council, sought sanctuary with Khattab following the fall of the Taliban.

After Khattab's death in February 2002, al-Qaeda contacted its various NGO front organizations in the Gulf to urge an additional shipment of $2,000,000 to Khattab's successor Abu Walid al-Ghamdi.

Al-Qaeda WMD chief Midhat Mursi has used the Chechen stronghold in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge as a base from which to train European al-Qaeda members in toxins and crude chemical weapons.

Abu Omar al-Saif has called for attacks on US forces in Iraq and Abu Walid sent a force of Arab and Chechen fighters to Iraq in answer to Abu Musab Zarqawi's January 2004 request for assistance.

This does not include, of course, Russian reports that Abu Omar al-Saif bankrolled this most recent attack or that there were dead Arabs found among the bodies of the Beslan hostage-takers.

What can be done to help the victims?
As I said, the innocent people of Beslan had absolutely nothing to do with Russian policies in Chechnya and should not be held accountable for whatever differences one may have with the policies of the Russian government. MoscowHelp has been set up to assist the survivors of this tragedy and has already raised $95,206, or nearly double what the US government is donating.

UPDATE: The Telegraph has a pretty good primer on what Basayev's ambitions are that should help to make it clear why negotiations aren't going to end the fighting in the region.