Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Afghan Campaign

Steven Pressfield pulls no punches with his realistically fictional account of Alexander the Great’s infamous Afghan campaign. Campaign utilizes an interesting literary style by incorporating modern military terms like enemy noncombatant into the ancient style of warfare of Alexander’s Macedonians. That combined with his expert descriptions of Afghan culture and terrain periodically trick the reader into thinking that he is reading about NATO troops storming a hovel in Kandahar. The whole thing is very effective.

At other times Campaign reads like cheap military pulp. As I said, Pressfield pulls no punches. This is a carnal telling of a brutal story but it not without message.

Pressfield toys with the modern notions of morality that have been common in military fiction since WWI and prerequisite since Vietnam. What effect is slaughtering civilians having on the souls of Alexander’s troops? Can they ever return home and be reintegrated into society?

These questions add to the story but more often then not Pressfield discards them to make a more focused point about fighting Guerillas, specifically Afghan Guerillas. The conclusions that I take from the book are that Afghan culture has changed little in 3,500 years and that the rules for fighting against Afghan Guerillas are the same now as they were then – You must fight on their terms, their way. It is brutal. It is contrary to our morality and code of honor but on their turf it is their code that matters. Do not underestimate the depth of that code. Ultimately, when the hearts and minds of the population cannot be won by carrots and they instead choose to support an active insurgency, a military commander must be willing to terrify them into submission through brute force on a massive scale.

Will NATO need to conform to Afghan codes of warfare and levels of brutality to win there? Is it even possible for anyone to win in Afghanistan long term? Am I reading too much into a fictional piece of Literature?

Travel to Asia

I'll be sojourning to Asia shortly but promise to get this blog fully up and running the way I would like it to be when I return in the New Year.

Monday, December 11, 2006

"Moderate" Cleric speaks out againt Talib Shareef

I am comforted by Rockford Iman Shpendim Nadzaku’s proclamation that Talib Shareef was acting alone when he allegedly plotted to slaughter families and children in Rockford and that he has nothing to do with the Rockford Muslim community despite his 7 years living as a Muslim in the area and the fact that he is a son of a local Nation of Islam member.

I am less comforted by Iman Nadzaku’s past statements. Nadzaku, the “moderate” spiritual leader of Rockford’s growing Muslim community has been an adamant opponent to free speech in the past. Commentator Scott Richert sums it up in an essay entitled What Lies Beneath. According to Richert, Nadzaku the moderate was quoted in the Rockford Register Star in 2004 stating, “the publications, (Dannish Cartoons of Muhammad), far from being an example of Constitutionally protected free speech, actually violate fundamental principles of American law.” He argued that the cartoons constituted “fighting talk,” and should be prohibited.

I skeptically accept Nadzaku’s claims that he is indeed a moderate, however, it is important to recognize that even so called moderate Islam is incompatible with American beliefs in liberty and freedom of speech and expression.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Midwest Jihad?

The FBI affidavit filed against Rockford Jihadist Talib Abu Salam Ibn Shareef is a great read. I find Shareef’s words like the following to be disturbing yet almost entertaining in a “could be found in a John Singleton joint” kind of way. This is perhaps the most interesting line in the affidavit:

I’m ready man, these Kafirs don’t give a damn about us, niggers don’t care what happens to the Umma, about sisters getting raped, about brothers losing their (UI). They don’t care, man. All they care about is (UI)…I probably would have eventually ended up just stabbing the shit outta some Jews or something. Just stabbing them niggers with a steak knife.

Jihad is nothing new in the Midwest. It’s been alive and well at least since Zulfiqar Ali Shah arrived to serve as the spiritual leader for the Islamic Society of Milwaukee (he’d lost his previous job as a fundraiser for an Islamist charity when the Treasury Department shut it down for funneling money to terrorists). Hopefully words like Shareef’s will wake up a few folks to the growing presence of Jihadists in the upper Midwest.

Facinating study from Turkey on the lack of rights of its rural women

Some hi-lights from the study conducted by the Diyarbakır Metropolitan Municipality Center for Women's Issues as reported in the Turkish Daily News:

80% of rural Turkish women are illiterate

16% had been traded like cattle for another woman

43% had born children before the age of 18

30% married before the age of 15

71% married by the age of 19

44% had given birth to 6 or more children

84.2% hadn’t graduated from primary school

99.6% hadn’t graduated from secondary school

45% live with their mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law or married children (perhaps because their husbands said, “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you” and threw them out into the street without any support?)

6.4% said there had been an honor killing in their area

Tell me again, why is this culture equal to American culture?

Read it All

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Palestinian Woman Killed by Family Member for Honor

From the Jerusalem Post...

A woman in her thirties was gunned down near the entrance to her house in the Sharon town of Kafr Kasem late Monday evening in what police were describing as yet another "family honor killing."

Click here for the full text

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Inside the Kingdom

"I have lived in the Bin Ladin clan. I have analyzed the workings of Saudi society and I fear for the future of the free world. My fear and outrage is based on my conviction that a large majority of Saudis support the extremist ideas of Osama Bin Ladin and that the Bin Ladins and the Saudi Royal Family continue to operate hand in hand even if their relations are sometimes too intricate for their convergent convictions to be apparent."

--- Carmen Bin Ladin
Inside the Kingom

I recently finished Carmen Bin Ladin's autobiography, Inside the Kingdom: My Life in Saudi Arabia. It's is a deeply tragic tale of a Swiss-Persian woman's long romance with Islam Bin Ladin, one of the more powerful of Osama's 21 brothers. I would immediately like to go out, buy twenty copies, and begin distributing them to all the cultural relativist feminists I meet.

Inside the Kingdom's selling point is that it provides a profoundly personal insight into the family, though clan is a better word, of the world's foremost terrorist. Indeed it even provides a few interesting anecdotes about Osama himself.

For instance, at a clan getaway to the Red Sea one sweltering summer day in the late 70's, Carmen sits with Osama's wife and baby son. As Osama's infant suffers severely from dehydration, Carmen asks Osama's wife why she is trying to feed water to her child from a metal spoon. Why not just give the child a bottle? The mother replies that Osama will not have his son raised with western practices. Even as the mother weeps and Carmen has her husband plead with Osama to let his child sip from a bottle, Osama does not budge. He would rather see his child, even his male child die than take a drink from a western made rubber tit.

The real power behind Inside the Kingdom, however, comes from Carmen's ability to express the love shared by her and her husband Islam and the tragedy of losing that love to medieval Bedouin culture and Wahabi doctrine. Inside the Kingdom is as Carmen describes it, a "Saudi Fairytale." It opens with romantic stories of Islam's princely courtship of Carmen, their first years together attending UCLA, and the free, Western lifestyle they cultivate their relationship under.

The story takes a dramatic turn when Carmen, a native of Switzerland, first sets foot onto Saudi sand for her wedding to Islam. From that point on she becomes nothing more than chattel in the eyes of the Bin Ladin men and women. In Saudi Arabia it turns out, even the extreme levels of wealth and power held by her husband and the Bin Ladin clan cannot save her from the prison of her gender.

As Inside the Kingdom develops the reader slowly watches Carmen's tragedy unfolding. This happens gradually for while Carmen is viewed as her husband's property outside the home, forced to wear the abaya, forbidden to speak to or be seen by men, unable to drive, shop, read, hold an opinion, etc…, she is able to set up her own little version of the west within her home compound. Carmen builds a library of forbidden books, invites foreign dignitaries and businessmen over for Tennis and black market beer, and focuses proudly on little triumphs like getting her Ethiopian driver to acknowledge her voice.

As her outward freedoms are completely stripped, she takes greater and greater refuge in these tiny victories within her own home. Getting her Ethiopian and Sudanese servants to respond to her voice when she asks them to mop up her terrace or to drive her to a relative's house seems to be the focus of several years of Carmen's efforts. In Saudi Arabia even the wife of a Bin Ladin, a clan second only to the al Saud princes, is inferior to her male servants. Moreover, Saudi women are forbidden from having their voices heard by any men that are not their husband or a blood relative. Carmen's struggle with her slave like male servants to control the most mundane responsibilities of her home is heartrending but it is enough for her to subsist intellectually and emotionally without slipping into the deep depression that must be a Saudi woman's only true companion.

Coupled with this is Carmen's hope that Saudi society will liberalize with time and begin to offer more modern freedoms to its women. Unfortunately, that dream ends for Carmen with the Iranian Revolution of 1979 when the Saudi Royals, concerned about the potential of a conservative Muslim revolt in their own lands, turn back the clock on liberalizing the nation to approximately 780 AD. At the same time that Carmen finds her hopes for a more open Saudi Arabia shattered, her husband Islam begins to grow ever more traditional and paranoid.

With time, Islam will become more like his many brothers demanding ever greater restrictions on Carmen and deciding that like other Saudi men, he too should hold more than one woman as his property. Their long affair that started as such a true romance ends in 1988 when Carmen and Islam separate. He later signs a death warrant for Carmen by accusing her of adultery. Carmen now faces extradition to Saudi Arabia if she steps foot inside a Muslim country. Once there, she will not be allowed to defend herself and would likely face execution.

The status of women in Saudi Arabia is an embarrassment to humanity yet so often I hear blanket statements from acquaintances and colleagues like, "you can't compare cultures," "cultural comparisons are subjective and therefore valueless," or "as an American man you shouldn't form opinions about other cultures." Most, if not all of these cultural relativists also consider themselves to be feminists. I just don't get it. I simply cannot accept the concept that Saudi culture is equal to my own in the face of the damning evidence so bravely provided by Carmen Bin Ladin. To these cultural relativists I now have my own blanket statement to share, "You are not a feminist, nor do you support women's equality in any real sense if you think that Saudi Culture is equal to American Culture…period."

Monday, December 4, 2006


I begin this blog in large part because most of my friends and family have grown quite exhausted with daily discussion of my foremost intellectual preoccupation - Islam. Who can blame them? It is not a happy subject. A forthright discussion of modern Islam is necessarily grim, oft disturbing, and if it is to be honest, manifestly un-PC.

In my community of Madison, Wisconsin, political correctness is the orthodoxy de jour. If one is heard uttering words like Muslim, Koran, or Jihad aloud in the wrong coffee house or watering hole, they will often be met with a glare of shock or a stern frown. In fact any public discourse focusing critically on Islam, or any religion save Christianity for that matter, is strictly taboo.

Although political correctness is thankfully not a virtue to be found amongst most of my friends, many of them would rather not look boorish to the 22 year-old co-ed in the Che Guevara t-shirt and Dolce sunglasses who might be eaves dropping from a near by bar stool. Furthermore, I am beginning to believe that most of my circle of friends and colleagues find depthful discussion of Islam unanimated or even boring. As hard as it is for me to imagine, I must come to accept the empirical evidence around me. Eyes glaze long before lips touch their fourth Johnny Walker when I begin using words like Hadith or Dhimmitude in lively political discussions.

So for the sake of my friends I turn to the internet to bounce my ideas about Islam off of… well, myself, and to occasionally, or perhaps frequently, vent.

  • While Europe Slept