Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ugetsued: Gates of Hell

The government that governs best governs least. But what government there is should make sense.

Gates: No need to bulk up response to piracy

By ANNE GEARAN – 7 hours ago

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday he doesn't see any immediate need to bulk up the military response to piracy near the Horn of Africa.

He added, however, that "we'll make those decisions as they come along."

Let's hope he doesn't rush into anything here. It'd be a shame to see the man bang his shins.

Pirates Fail in Attack on U.S. Ship

Published: April 15, 2009

HONG KONG – An American cargo ship was attacked by pirates armed with grenade launchers and automatic weapons in the Gulf of Aden on Tuesday, but the attackers failed to take over the ship, which was able to continue with its delivery of humanitarian food aid to the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

The ship, the Liberty Sun, was damaged in the attack but the crew members were not hurt, according to a statement from the shipowner, Liberty Maritime, of Lake Success, N.Y.

"We are under attack by pirates, we are being hit by rockets. Also bullets,” a crew member aboard the Liberty Sun, Thomas Urbik, said in an e-mail message to his mother, the Associated Press reported. “We are barricaded in the engine room and so far no one is hurt.”

Mr. Urbik said a rocket had "penetrated the bulkhead but the hole is small. Small fire, too, but put out.”

The attack occurred shortly before noon, a United States Navy spokesman said. By the time the U.S.S. Bainbridge arrived — about six hours later — the pirates had fled. The Bainbridge, the navy destroyer involved in the rescue last week of another American cargo ship, was escorting the Liberty Sun to Mombasa on Wednesday.

"Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday he doesn't see any immediate need to bulk up the military response to piracy near the Horn of Africa."

Well, it looks to me like Gates is offering less government. I think it's not what I mean when I call for less government.

So, if the government isn't going overboard defending the nation, what is the government doing?

Uh, I dunno, Lenny. what is the government doing? Living off the fat of the land?

Lance Fairchok, "DHS, 'Rightwing Extremism' and Information Warfare" American Thinker. 14 April 2009.

The DHS Intelligence Assessment Document marked "For Official Use Only" and entitled; Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment, was released to law enforcement agencies nationwide. Its stated purpose was to "deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States." Read the entire document here.

Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.

Now I get it. Our government is freaking out about all them thar Klan rallies in Washington, D.C.

Somali pirates? What was I thinking?

But at least there's one ship coming on-stream from Gates that'll patrol the Somali coast. What a relief.
For a while there I was wondering just whose side our government is on here.


Jonathon said...

Hey Dag. Gates' response may seem lame, but there's an argument to be made for not adding new resources into the anti-piracy fight.

First off, the USA already has the most dedicated anti-piracy naval assets in the region, from what I saw on the BBC yesterday. I think the Europeans and Gulf states need to step up and dedicate some more of their boats to the cause.

One American freighter getting hijacked does not require an overwhelming Yankee blue-water naval build-up in response. The pirates' vow to seek revenge is laughable.

We've got other priorities.

Dag said...

I agree, Jonathon, that on the surface the idea of doing much about Somali pirates is over-kill, especially when we realize these are peasants with guns against the world's premier military empire.

The issue isn't so much who our enemies are as who we are: do we feel mighty and invincible or do we feel paralyzed by fear of accusations of injustice? A big part of rulership is image, which prevents those less strong from attempting to push the limits. Some belligerent chest-pounding in public is often enough to deter the stupid and the sneaky. To act like Hamlet on the world stage is a losing position with those who seek out weakness at all times. Nasty jaw-jaw beats the devil out of nasty war-war.

Dag said...

I might be the only one on earth who hasn't seen a movie in the past 30 years. "Ugetsu" is a Japanese movie by Mizoguchi about a group of Leftist U.N. human rights lawyers who threaten samurai warriors with action at the Hague. "Gates of Hell" is actually a different Japanese film, but it's also about Leftist lawyers threatening to sue samurai warriors; so my headline is actually perfect. I was mistaken in assuming that everyone would know these titles, me thinking them as the last films anyone has seen in all these years since. Live and learn.

Jonathon said...

"Nasty jaw-jaw beats the devil out of nasty war-war."

Nicely put. Not entirely in agreement, but enough that my snippet of a criticism (being leery of setting up the USA to be seen as a paper tiger) makes little practical difference. And thanks for the movie title references, since I had no clue.

I apologize for not showing up lately for the CZ sessions. Work, work and more work. I'll make it out again one of these days - hopefully next week. Take care.

Eowyn said...

Like it or not, the Gulf of Aden is an extremely busy route for cargo shipping of all descriptions. Heretofore, little attention has been paid to what has been (heretofore) occasional nuisance raids by desperate small-time criminals on cargo ships. Not no mo'.

Jonathon, I must respectfully disagree that the problem is small-scale. "One American freighter getting hijacked" underestimates the situation. Ships from around the world have been attacked, increasingly, in the past two years. Islamist thugs have identified a potentially lucrative, and correspondingly soft, target.

And as far as the pirates' vow to seek revenge as being laughable, there is nothing laughable about an oil tanker spilling its load due to a reasonably accurate RPG attack at close range, by a small boat manned by a few people. Or a load of ore needed for manufacture. Or, indeed, grain bound for needy refugees. It is -- to borrow your adjective -- laughably easy to achieve these things. Witness the U.S.S. Cole.

And, Dag-Man, I must also respectfully disagree with "Nasty jaw-jaw beats the devil out of nasty war-war."

True, it does. But there are times -- like now -- when nasty war-war is all the nasty pirates will understand. They're too used to the jaw-jaw routinely (and tiresomely) offered up by the Untied Nations.

Diplomacy, in situations like these, remains as it was for Theodore Roosevelt: "Walk softly, but carry a big stick."

truepeers said...

And let's not forget that the pirates have a couple of hundred captives/hostages whose lives are in danger. Most of these are poor sailors from countries like the Philippines and Bangladesh. It's telling that they get so little attention as victims while much of the anti-Western left dwells on the pirates as victims of Western wrongs, political and ecological. Apparently, those forgotten sailors have bought into the system, by working it, and so can't be held in the same fine light as those who, while parasitic on, are effectively against the global trade system. Someone needs to free those hostages or insure payback for every death. A primitive justice is the only true justice in circumstances like this.

Dag said...

I want to consider my response to some of the comments here. There are things I know and things I'd like to write, but they need a bit of time to formulate because I know people as people in some of the nations in question, e.g. Somalia, and I have some at least slight personal stake in their lives. I don't want to jump in and start writing off the top of my head and get it all wrong.

Till I come back to this, let me put in something of some worth:

"Jaw-jaw, war-war."

AUTHOR: Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (1874–1965)
QUOTATION: To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.
ATTRIBUTION: WINSTON CHURCHILL, remarks at a White House luncheon, June 26, 1954. His exact words are not known, because the meetings and the luncheon that day were closed to reporters, but above is the commonly cited version.

His words are quoted as “It is ‘better to jaw-jaw than to war-war,’” in the sub-heading on p. 1 of The New York Times, June 27, 1954, and as “To jaw-jaw always is better than to war-war” on p. 3.

I get a kick out of that.

The graphic is of the pre-Soviet battleship Potemkin. The crew mutinied during World War One and were taken as Soviet icons, the ship's name and part of the incident being turned into a major Soviet film by the later murdered Sergei Eisenstein. I think it's fairly clear that the crew of the Potemkin weren't Communists at all but frustrated sailors on the losing end of a war with no end in sight. That they were transformed into Communist icons is a shame. I put it in here to make a mockery of Obama, to show the "Potemkin Village" aspect of his public displays, all phony, according to me, like a Stalinist Potemkin village in the midst on man-made famine, a show of Obama-solidarity with the Somalis, as if it were real.

I'll try to be coherent when I take the time to think it through.

Dag said...

I typed the following response last evening, but then I felt that I should leave it for a day to see if it's accurately expressive of my ideas. Today I found Phyllis Chesler asking question I ask. I include her post from Front Page Magazine. I'll summarize at the bottom.

Most people want others to like them and they want other to be impressed by their collective achievements, like how good a person's country is or how well they do in pubic fields of any sort, from physics to soccer. Average man on the street kinds of people want foreigners to like their homes and lands. When they know it's not happening they feel ashamed or sometimes angry at the foreigner, at their governments, at themselves. When a local is standing with a traveler and both see the same scene, the local seeing it now through the eyes of the traveler, that can be a moment of unhappy truth. "The traveler is seeing all the filth I ignore. I'd forgotten about it till I notice him seeing it for the first time. He's going to be disgusted. It's too late for me to hide it now." We might say, "Oh, nice country you have here." It really pisses people off when young travelers go out of their ways to be "nice" to the locals who aren't as stupid as some think, or who maybe don't think at all. Locals know. One hears from kids on the road, "Yes, but the people are so friendly...," or some such. It's patronizing and humiliating. The locals hear this coming from one they envy, a rich kid who comes from a country he would like to be from, would like his country to be like. He hears, "This is so exotic." The local has to ask, "Is this kid stupid or is he making a fool of me?" I've had locals plead with me not to take photos of blight. They feel ashamed of it, as would anyone who has any pride at all. Some travelers suck up.

I, on the other hand, am usually blunt if not obnoxious. It's not too surprising that when I meet people outside the crowd, when we have a quiet conversation, I hear expressed the despair the locals often have: "I wish the English would come back...." They long for normal and decent life like anyone else. It upsets me to see people babied and made fools of by teenage hippies who think it's cool to live an exotic life in a garbage dump. Someone, a clever thinker indeed, came up with the phrase, "The racism of low expectations." The locals don't like living like animals in the garbage, and they don't like others saying it's "authentic." It isn't. It hurts and kids die from diseases. Mothers there feel as much pain as mothers anywhere. That is because, and this sometimes needs pointing out, they're just like anyone else: Human.

And because we are all Human, so we must follow the ways of Humanness. Some people will take advantage of the weak and oppress them for gain, they'll manipulate and hurt just because they can, and the weak can't do much about it. The strong have to step in to break the bonds of terror and, more often, the manipulation of those who intuit but don't necessarily get the clear picture. I mean young people. They know something's wrong with their lands and people, but they can't say exactly what. They get used. Some, like the Somali kids killed recently, get killed. Those didn't deserve it, but they died because no one stopped the criminal types who make it their business to manipulate nations full of gullible people who can't figure it out otherwise. Given the chance, most would beg for American intervention by massive, not piddling, force. Give the locals a chance to live better, to make their own lives better, and they will go for it like fiends.

Most people, given a chance, will choose normal living every time. Even Afghanis. Sometimes that chance has to come under armed guard. One must keep the opportunists at bay. If not, then the locals will go along with the norm of the day, even if they don't think it's right. It's what I mean when I argue for "School teachers with guns."

If the Left really did care about people as individuals rather than as props in their theatres of the mind, they'd march off to war to liberate the world's terrorized rather than cheer-leading for tyrants. If the Left had real humanitarians invovled, they'd form International Brigades like in the Spanish Civil War, and they liberate Somalia from the warlords and the imam both, criminals of different sorts but criminals nonetheless. It would mean working for life as "mediocre." Just plain and boring and normal; food, rent, laundry, paying the car insurance, getting the kids to school on time kind of mediocrity we take for granted. If we are dissatisfied with our mediocrity we might fall for some higher vision like saving the world from poverty or blaming ourselves for the ills of the world so we can actually have some feeling at all rather than nothing-- even if we have to work it up on the spot to feel. We can troop around sympathizing with the locals and feel indignant and buy some trinkets from them to take home to show off to people, (I got this in a little village from some people who were so genuine....) Most people, though not all, want to live the American Dream. That's why they hijack ships: to finance their lives in style. It's not because they're poor, which most are, but because they don't know how not to be poor except by stealing. Most people, no matter how poor, do not steal even then. They work. They work themselves to death, and their children die. They don't have any chances to improve. They don't want exotica, they want mediocrity. But who travels around the world to see that? Not me, I'll say. I travel for personal reasons. I don't have any inclination to sentimentalize the suffering of others. I've seen too much of that to be naively impressed. I, like the majority of people, want mediocrity. Lucky me, I can go home and take a hot shower someday. Everyone deserves that luxury. Ivory Soap. Man, is that ever good. And don't get me started on plastic!

I've written thousands of pages on this theme, and I'm not done yet because I still haven't gotten to the heart of this matter. Here's Phyllis Chesler for a moment or two.

Phyllis Chesler, "Children of the Taliban, Teenage Somali Pirates: Defeat Them Or Save Them All?" Front Page Magazine. 14 April 2009.

To me, it is clear as day.

Although they are pathetically young, the Muslim Somali pirates are outlaws, thugs, war lords in training; they are like al-Aqsa (the allegedly “moderate”) Palestinian terrorists, Hezbollah, Hamas, al-Qaeda, the Egyptian Brotherhood, and the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. They will never stop coming after us until we stop them cold; indeed, a second American vessel has just escaped a new Somali pirate attack.

Leftists view all these men as oppressed and impoverished, not by their own leaders, (which they are), but primarily by the imperial western powers. As such, they are indiscriminately and subconsciously viewed as 17th century African slaves under the lash, or 19th century native American Indians, being genocidally slaughtered and penned up in reservations.

When I look at Osama bin Laden or the Taliban, I do not see a trembling Jean Valjean, forced to steal his loaf of bread and flee unjust, superior military powers. To me, these men and their way of thinking are dangerous, and we must roundly defeat them and their ideas.

But, here are some troubling questions: Do we deal with Muslim terrorists, their child-martyr weapons, the civilians behind whom they hide, simply by defeating them all militarily–or are we also obliged to feed, house, and re-educate our sworn enemies—a reprise of the Marshall Plan but this time on every continent? Or, can we just defeat those who are threatening our way of life, (or holding an American ship captain hostage), and return home for another 100-500 years?

What if the pirate is a teenager? What if the suicide bomber is an Afghan or Pakistani male child between the ages of five and twelve? PBS just ran an excellent program about this by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy: Children of the Taliban. These child martyrs killed from twenty to twenty eight people apiece, themselves included, and wounded many more.

Are we our brothers keepers? What about our sisters—are we their keepers too? Unsurprisingly, as a female journalist, Pakistani-born Obaid-Chinoy was told that she’d be killed if she came herself to interview Taliban leaders in Pakistan and in the tribal territories. She was allowed to send a male cameraman. Obaid-Chinoy introduces us to a young male “handler,” his eyes fetchinginly rimmed with kohl, who himself trains and dispatches boys as young as five. Rocking back and forth, madrassa-style, as if in a trance, he tells her that “God provides (the boys) that you need to sacrifice.” He is proud of his religious work, not ashamed of forcing young children to kill themselves.

Ah yes, Obaid-Chinoy herself interviews the head of a Taliban madrassa (Muslim religious school) in Karachi, Pakistan. When the camera is close, he engages in taqquiya, telling her that at the madrassa, the students only learn about “peace, love, and harmony.” He does so engagingly, soulfully. Then, when the interviewer has the camera retreat, he changes his story. Killing and dying for Allah “is in our blood. Muslims will never lack for sacrificial lambs.” The switch from a lie to the truth is flawless, effortless.

Most important, we meet a 14 year-old in the film who, like all the other boys, only studies the Arabic language Qu’ran. He does not understand a word of it, it is the only book he is allowed to read, and he must memorize it. One feels sorry for him–that is, until he begins spouting the party line about women. Women are supposed to stay at home and attend to domestic matters, the problem in the world is that women and girls are “wandering around.”

Obaid-Chinoy also interviews eight to twelve year-old boys who are from the same family or from the same village. Some want to join the Taliban, others want to join the Pakistani Army. She asks each one whether they would actually kill their friend/relative if they found themselves facing each other in battle. Heartbreakingly, without any hesitation, future Taliban, future Army men emphatically told her that they would have to do so.

What if the cost of re-educating every single brainwashed student in every madrassa in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the West Bank, etc.; every single impoverished Somali pirate and warlord; every single terrorist, world-wide, means that America will inevitably sink below the horizon into horrible poverty and become a failed state?

Because that is what may happen—and more. Are we, too, ready to commit national, cultural and civilizational suicide because our children and grandchildren have been taught to feel incredibly guilty about how unfair life is, and how privileged they are (or recently thought they were), as compared to the agony and screaming poverty elsewhere?

Are we so sure that every brainwashed martyr-in-training, every barbarian, can be turned around, redeemed?

This is not possible. I also think that western civilization has its mind and heart set precisely upon this idealistic, compassionate mission.

If people want to save the world, feed the poor and end homelessness, all of which I'm in favor of, they could start by realistically assessing the state of those they would help. Stop the degrading sentimentalizing of the locals. Their quaint little shit-hole villages in the mountains suck, and they know it. Those who mouth the multi-culti cliches risk death from saying such things. The locals don't want to be pandered to, they want to live well. Most people want mediocrity. Only a few, the violent parasites, criminals and ideological fanatics want things to remain as they are. The rest want a local variation of America. To tell people they don't want better lives and even life itself for their children is to humiliate, to enrage the people. Unfortunately, many of our own are as brain-washed as the local kids who think they should kill and die to get to America in the sky. We don't have to kill off nations to live in peace, nor feed them indefinitely: we have to teach them how to live mediocre lives. It's good economy. To do so, we have to stand over our students with guns to protect them from those who would use them for other ends.

That's what I think today because I have a fiberglass bathtub and a case of Ivory Soap in the bathroom. My life is good. Most people could do at least this well, given the chance, given the freedom from harm to pursue it, given the free, unterrorized time it takes to learn how to make a living beyond piracy and terrorism.

truepeers said...

a case?

You know what needs to be done, Dag, but the work now is to move beyond the concept and towards the narrative that all the people who need to can take up and make things happen.

Dag said...

Yes, a case of Ivory Soap in my bathroom. It smells good, it feels good, it gets me more or less clean, it is lovely altogether. (It's also cheaper by the case.)

Meanwhile, I type. Sometimes I think.

Eowyn said...

"Meanwhile, I type. Sometimes, I think."

Oh ... from your lips, to God's ears, my dear Dag.

As "Eowyn," warrior, defender of all that is delicate, tender and ultimately necessary in life, that is, in a word, art -- and, singularly, as a woman-warrior, possessed, as I am, of the awareness of the unique protection only mothers can give, toward that which is worth protecting --

I can say to you that I, for one, will defend you to the death. Why? Simply because I agree. What you say is right. And what is right is worth giving one's life for.

But I will echo your comrade truepeers: "(T}he work now is to move beyond the concept and towards the narrative(.)"

Time to walk the walk of the talk. In other words, are you willing to DO SOMETHING to make what you know to be true, happen?

Me, I felt renewed by showing up at a protest. Because it resulted in making sure other people knew I cared about them, and, when the balloon goes up, we will continue to take care of each other.

I dunno ... it may be selfish.

Am I doing these things to make myself feel better? Perhaps. If so, why? Because I want to feel better. Well, why?



Is there something so wrong with that? Yes, if you listen to today.

Well, me, there's nothing wrong with sticking. There's nothing wrong with knowing.


Ugh. Off on a soapbox, me. Sorry, Dag-Man.