Thursday, January 26, 2012

We Are Outraged!

Current events, as the US rethinks its enthusiasm for the Arab Spring:
Six Americans working for publicly funded U.S. organizations promoting democracy in Egypt have been barred from leaving the country, provoking angry demands in Washington that Cairo's new military rulers stop "endangering American lives".

Among those hit by travel bans - one of those targeted called it "de facto detention" - is a son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, as well as other foreign staffers of the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute, officials at the two organizations said on Thursday.

The United States said Egypt should reverse them: "We are urging the government of Egypt to lift these restrictions immediately and allow these folks to come home as soon as possible," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

A month after police raided the Cairo offices of the IRI, NDI and eight other non-governmental organizations, it raises the stakes for Washington, which had already indicated it may review the $1.3 billion it gives the Egyptian military each year if the probe into alleged breaches of local regulations went on.

Some see it as a poor omen for Egypt's fledgling democracy following last year's overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

John McCain, the leading Republican senator who chairs the IRI, voiced "alarm and outrage" at a "new and disturbing turn" which included a travel ban on Sam LaHood, the group's Egypt director and son of President Barack Obama's transport chief.
You know, in the context of the history of Western involvement in the affairs of Arab states, and American invlovement in particular, you have to wonder about the meaning of weaselly euphemisms like "publicly funded U.S. organizations promoting democracy in Egypt." Just what the hell does that mean, anyway? What concrete, behavioral actions do you take, if you're a publicly funded U.S. organization promoting democracy in Egypt? Do you buy commercials on Egyptian TV? What do they say? "Be a democratic sort of Egyptian guy, and all the Egyptian women will go crazy over you?" I'm not at all sure I could blame Egyptians who might be wondering what these fine organizations are really up to. Funding terrorists, maybe? Perish the thought! We're Americans -- we don't fund terrorists! If we fund 'em, they must be freedom fighters. Or maybe democracy activists or something. But not terrorists, that's for sure.

(Side note: there's my old buddy again -- State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland! Clearly, she knows she's working for the Obama regime: she wants those restrictions lifted, so those folks can come home. "Folks" ... no doubt about it, she got the memo. And read it, too.)

How is it that this "IRI" outfit is described as a "non-governmental organization," after being described as "publicly funded?" And it's chaired by John Freakin' McCain? And Ray LaHood's boy is the "Egypt director?" Yup, sure sounds non-governmental to me, yessir. Nothing to see here. Move along, folks, move along.

I have some free advice for those Egyptian "Islamists" who, being all evil and everything, are presumably holding our folks. Don't just travel-restrict them; detain them, indefinitely, without charges, in some warm-weather Egyptian paradise that you rename "Al-Gitmo." Don't let a lawyer or a court within hundreds of miles of them. Let 'em ride the waterboard while you inquire, again and again and again, about their nefarious activities. When they've said what you want to hear (and they will!), announce it. Then tell Washington that you'll close your Gitmo when they close theirs. As for young Mr. LaHood: after he's been imprisoned without charges for a decade or two, you'll have to decide that he's become radicalized, and can never be released, for fear that he'll "return to the battlefield" and do some harm to the Prophet's Islamic Republic of Egypt, or whatever you're calling it by then. It would have a certain pleasing symmetry to it, yes?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blackout at Midnight: Difficult to Detect

Yeah, sure, I thought about not writing a post here today, in protest of SOPA and PIPA. But then I thought: how would anyone know? It's not like I write any posts here anyway.

So ... never mind.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wet Work vs. Terrorism

I wonder how the US would react if US experts in the development of flying drone killbots were in limited supply, and this stuff kept happening to them:
TEHRAN, Iran — Two assailants on a motorcycle attached a magnetic bomb to the car of an Iranian university professor working at a key nuclear facility, killing him and his driver Wednesday, reports said. The slayings suggest a widening covert effort to set back Iran’s atomic program.

The attack in Tehran bore a strong resemblance to earlier killings of scientists working on the Iranian nuclear program. It is certain to amplify authorities’ claims of clandestine operations by Western powers and their allies to halt Iran’s nuclear advances.

The blast killed Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a chemistry expert and a director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran, state TV reported. State news agency IRNA said Roshan had “organizational links” to Iran’s nuclear agency, which suggests a direct role in key aspects of the program.

Natanz is Iran’s main enrichment site, but officials claimed earlier this week that they are expanding some operations to an underground site south of Tehran with more advanced equipment.

The U.S. and its allies are pressuring Iran to halt uranium enrichment, a key element of the nuclear program that the West suspects is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Uranium enriched to low levels can be used as nuclear fuel but at higher levels, it can be used as material for a nuclear warhead.
To avoid exasperating my fellow Murricans, I'll skip right over such niggling considerations as was Professor Roshan anyone's son, or anyone's brother, or anyone's uncle, or anyone's husband, or anyone's father, or anyone's friend? or was Professor Roshan a human being, created in the image of God. Much less will I try my countrymen's notoriously short patience by raising these same trivial speculations about "his driver," in whose case we're not even burdened with a name. No, like everything else in the world, it's all about us -- or, rather, it's all about the Israelis, but that's the same thing, right? Instead, I'll ask a bigger-scale question. Most Murricans -- not all, for sure, but most -- are probably willing to admit that installing the Shah, back in the 1950s, might not have been the very smoothest move ever made by Murrica. So how is it that we never, ever, ever seem able to learn even the tiniest little thing from our mistakes?

Meanwhile, forget all about this magnetic car-bombs business. Just wipe it right out of your mind. After all, the NFL playoffs are here, and the Super Bowl is imminent. And when terrorism revisits these shores (and I'm talking real terrorism here, the kind that's done against Murricans, not to be confused with putting bombs on professors' cars -- that ain't terrorism), we can once again be all hurt and confused and completely unable to imagine why anyone, anywhere could ever hate us.