Dear [i]Reason[/i]…

Why do you run anything by Jonathan Rauch? I know you guys are more interested in promoting Big Macs and drive-thru abortions than you are in advancing libertarian foreign policy, but I have yet to read anything even mildly liberty-oriented by Rauch. The absurd and revolting premise of today’s article is that U.S. and Israeli goals should be inseparable. The hell they should! If Rauch wants to move to Jerusalem and join the IDF, I will buy his one-way ticket and drive him to the airport. But I don’t owe the state of Israel (or Egypt, or the Palestinian Authority) any goddamn thing except nonaggression, and that goes for moral support, too.

Rauch pitches a hissy fit about world reaction to Israel’s assassination of Sheikh Yassin. As I wrote at the time, nary a tear crossed my cheek over the killing. Israeli depredations against regular Palestinians are an outrage, but taking out a murderer doesn’t much bother me–nor will it if Hamas returns the favor directly to Mr. Sharon. But the simpering statist Rauch is distraught that the Bush administration didn’t plant a wet one on Sharon’s backside after the attack:

    The United States vetoed the [U.N.] resolution [condemning the attack] but did not directly challenge its premises, which were that Yassin was a civilian, that civilians are subject only to civil punishment, and that extrajudicial violence of any sort is therefore illegitimate. Instead, the Bush administration said it was “deeply troubled” by the Yassin killing but that the resolution should also have mentioned Hamas’s attacks against Israel. See? Everyone is a terrorist, but the resolution should have named all the terrorists. Or something.

    If those are the rules, then former President Clinton is a terrorist, for he, too, ordered a hit. Clinton attacked Osama bin Laden with a cruise missile and only narrowly missed. According to The New York Times, President Clinton’s national security advisers have testified to the September 11 commission “that Mr. Clinton wanted Mr. bin Laden dead.”

Newsflash: Clinton is a terrorist, as the Serbs and Sudanese can tell you. Sharon’s terrorism goes back decades, but includes such greatest hits as Sabra and Shatila. No decent person, ideology aside, should stick up for anyone who aggresses against innocent civilians. And let’s be clear about that term. Rauch:

    Hamas’s civilian operations, however, hardly made Yassin a civilian in any sense that mattered. To the contrary, he was head of a terrorist organization that is well on its way to operating its own mini-state in Gaza. State sponsors of terrorism and terrorist sponsors of states (Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan) are two sides of one coin. None of these entities are or were “civilian” in the sense of being ordinary criminals.

Agreed–so I suppose Reason will hammer the warbots for calling the martyrs of Fallujah “civilians,” too, smearing everyone who disagrees, and promoting the indiscriminate murder of that city’s actual civilians in retaliation?

Of course you won’t. You guys carry Rauch’s column precisely because he’s an establishment sycophant, er, Beltway authority who lends your magazine some mainstream respectability by lacking any libertarian inclinations. But if you’re going to run such soporific, predictable, rah-rah Israel, statist tripe in your mag, I’ll just read The New Republic instead–they do it far better.

Will Sadr be Assassinated?

Will the US assassinate al-Sadr? They’ve announced an arrest warrant for him, and called him a “terrorist.”

The White House accused Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr of being an ally of “terrorist organizations” on Monday and said the religious leader whose supporters fueled a violent weekend uprising was seeking to undermine the June 30 transfer of sovereignty.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan sought to cast the uprising among Sadr’s followers as an isolated development rather than a Shi’ite rebellion with sweeping public support.

“What you’re talking about is one individual who is seeking to derail democracy and freedom for the Iraqi people. This is one individual who is seeking to undermine the transition process to sovereignty,” McClellan told reporters aboard Air Force One as President Bush traveled to North Carolina.

“This is an individual, I would remind you, that has pledged solidarity with terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah.”

Bush, speaking at a political stop in Charlotte, said that despite “tough action” in Iraq the United States’ “will stay the course.”

“A free Iraq will make the world more peaceful, a free Iraq will make America more secure. We will not be shaken by thugs and terrorists,” he said.

In case anyone needed any proof that the White House is clueless as usual, and has no idea what is happening in Iraq.

Neocon warbots on the internet caught the logic of the arrest warrant immediately:

  • He should quit before he ends up like Ahmed Yassin.
  • The warrant should come AFTER our troops riddled him with bullets!!
  • True. Hopefully his followers will put up armed resistance. If he goes to jail alive, his followers will endlessly demonstrate to demand his release. In this case a dead martyr is better than a live radical cleric.
  • It is past time that Gods will is exercised and the mosque that this shitbird is hiding in explodes with him in it, inshallah of course.
  • I hope that jolly ole Sadr will end up a martyr soon. I think a MOAB would be my weapon of choice to deliver to his mosque and his neighborhood. A little shock and awe would be refreshing right about now.
  • The dangers that he presented were well known:
    The Sadrist movement

    Shows a lot about Sadr, the whole mess would be prevented if he were assassinated in time.
    G-d forbid we assassinate “holy men”!
    This is Ahmed Yassin all over again,
    no actually this is not even a pathetic copy.

“In the particular incident with Sadr, this is one person who has decided rather than allow democracy to flourish, he is going to exercise force and we just can’t let it stand,” Bush said.

Bush noted that an Iraqi judge has issued an arrest warrant for al-Sadr. Al- Sadr has been charged with murder.

Setting Al-Sadr up for a hit? Time will tell.

Meltdown in Iraq

“Iraqi Army” turns on the Americans

Watch for more of this to happen:

US Apache helicopters sprayed fire on the private army of radical Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr during fierce battles today in the western Baghdad district of Al-Showla, witnesses and an AFP correspondent said.

“Two Apaches opened fire on armed members of the Mehdi Army,” said Showla resident Abbas Amid.

The fighting erupted when five trucks of US soldiers and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) tried to enter the district and were attacked by Sadr supporters, Amid said.

Coming under fire, the ICDC, a paramilitary force trained by the Americans, turned on the US soldiers and started to shoot at them, according to Amid.

The soldiers fled their vehicles and headed for cover and then began to battle both the Mehdi Army and the ICDC members, he said. Their vehicles were set ablaze.

Classic guerilla tactics. Watch for the same thing to happen in Fallujah today. Reports like this are all over the wires:

U.S. forces ready Fallujah crackdown

Some 1,200 U.S. Marines and two battalions of Iraqi security forces were poised to enter the city to arrest suspected insurgents

For an example of how well the Americans are doing getting the Iraqis to fight for them:

Members of the new Iraqi army and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps were to play support roles in the operation, but some had to be sent home today when they reported without their uniforms or ID cards, Marines said.

Sadr’s Al-Mahdi army has taken over some “government buildings” in Basra and are currently in a pitched battle with UK troops.


As the US troops moved into Falluja, there were reports in Baghdad of fighting and demonstrations in all quarters of the capital.

Heavy fighting between Mr Sadr’s Mehdi Army and the Americans was raging in Shualla district, which has been locked down. Weapons were reportedly being stockpiled in a Shiite mosque in Kadamihya, and Iraqi police in the same area are said to have reported to Mr Sadr’s office, volunteering to fight with his men. Several loud explosions could be heard from the city centre.

There were heavy tank movements and aerial surveillance of trouble spots, and reports from Basra, in the south, said that as many as 1000 al-Sadr supporters had taken over the governor’s residence.

Egyptian Political Theatre

A look at Egyptian political theater, with valuable insight into what often cannot be otherwise openly expressed in the Middle East.

    U.S. Marines, actors armed with wooden assault rifles, storm into the theatre cafe even before the audience has taken its seats, harassing, searching and intimidating them to set the mood for a performance meant to raise the spectre of American occupation.

    Elsawy’s agitprop production, ”Messing with Minds,” is now in its third month at a small stage in the grounds of the Cairo Opera House … the play, which is running well past its original slot in the theatre’s programme, reflects the deep scepticism in the Arab world about U.S. intentions in the Middle East and goes way beyond what Egyptian politicians are willing to say in public.
    … read more

Gypsy village destroyed

A month ago, Qawliya’s collection of perhaps 150 homes in southern Iraq contained a small red-light district, an isolated warren known for prostitution and gunrunning and as a haven from the law. Today, it is destroyed, the few sounds of life made by barking dogs and scavengers piling bricks from razed homes.

Its residents — hundreds of men, women and children, mostly members of Iraq’s tiny Gypsy minority — were driven out by a militia controlled by a militant Shiite Muslim cleric, residents and police say. Neighbors systematically looted it. Some accounts say the village was burned, though the militia denies it.

No one has been punished, police say. The U.S.-led occupation, which learned of the raid soon after it happened on March 12, has yet to make it public. Qawliya’s residents, most of whom fled to other cities, largely remain in hiding, fearful to talk.

Go look at the picture – the destruction is unbelievable.

No one has been punished, police say. The U.S.-led occupation, which learned of the raid soon after it happened on March 12, has yet to make it public. Qawliya’s residents, most of whom fled to other cities, largely remain in hiding, fearful to talk.

Qawliya’s fate is a grim tale about the forces that are shaping southern Iraq as the civil occupation nears an end — the ascent of religious militias, the frailty of outgunned police and the perceived reluctance of foreign peacekeepers to play an assertive role. Making those factors more combustible, residents say, is the question of whose law rules Iraq’s people.

This situation with al Sadr is getting progressively more grim. Right now, Sadrists are protesting in Baghdad and the newswires are reporting that American tanks have run over some protestors. The protests are over Bremer’s closure of al Sadr’s newspaper.