Bin Laden’s victory?

There’s a great review in the Times today of Lawrence Wright’s new book, The Looming Tower. It offers some surprising insights into Bin Laden and how he was molded into the super-star of terrorists by his sidekick Zawahiri. It’s the last two paragraphs of the review, however, that pack the hardest punch.

Mr. bin Laden’s goal in striking the American embassies and bombing the American destroyer Cole in 2000, says Mr. Wright, was to “lure America into the same trap the Soviets had fallen into: Afghanistan”: “His strategy was to continually attack until the U.S. forces invaded; then the mujahideen would swarm upon them and bleed them until the entire American empire fell from its wounds. It had happened to Great Britain and to the Soviet Union. He was certain it would happen to America.” When neither the embassy bombings nor the Cole bombing was enough to “provoke a massive retaliation,” Mr. Wright suggests, Mr. bin Laden decided “he would have to create an irresistible outrage.”

That outrage, of course, was 9/11. Though American forces would not become bogged down in Afghanistan – at least not immediately in the fall of 2001 – another, longer war was on the horizon. On March 19, 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the start of the war against Iraq; more than three years and more than 2,500 American deaths later, the United States is still there, fighting just the sort of asymmetrical war Mr. bin Laden so fervently desired.

I always feared 9/11 would end up a complete and total victory for the attackers. Unlike Bush, they truly could proclaim, “Mission Accomplished.” Look at where we were prior to that day and where we are now, be it in Afghanistan, Iraq or the homeland. They have us where they want us, and thanks to Bush’s lofty rhetoric, there is absolutely no way out without a monumental loss of face. No matter what we do, we lose, as Zawahiri and Bin Laden go free, leaving in their wake a Middle East more radicalized and anti-America than ever before.


Christopher Hitchens on Mel Gibson’s “Jew hatred”

When Hitch is good (and he’s not good very often nowadays), he’s outstanding. Like today:

There’s a lot to dislike about Gibson. He is given to furious tirades against homosexuals of the sort that make one wonder if he has some kind of subliminal or “unaddressed” problem. His vulgar and nasty movies, which also feature this prejudice, are additionally replete with the cheapest caricatures of the English. Braveheart and The Patriot are two of the most laughable historical films ever made. (Englishmen don’t form picket lines outside movie theaters when “stereotyped,” but still.) He has told interviewers that his wife, the mother of his children, is going to hell because she subscribes to the wrong Christian sect (a view that he justifies as “a pronouncement from the chair”). And it has been obvious for some time to the most meager intelligence that he is sick to his empty core with Jew-hatred.

This is not just proved by his twistedly homoerotic spank-movie The Passion of the Christ, even though that ghastly production did focus obsessively on the one passage in the one of the four Gospels that tries to convict the Jewish people en masse of the hysterical charge of Christ-killing or “deicide.” It is validated by his fealty to his earthly father, a crackpot who belongs to a Catholic splinter group of which our Mel is a member. This group more or less lives off the stench of medieval anti-Semitism. Allow me (as one who has Mel’s father’s books to hand) to give you an example. In an attempt a few years ago to heal the breach between the Vatican and the Jews, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger did his best to make nice. Jews did not accept Jesus as savior and redeemer, said the man who is now the pope, but they did originate monotheism. Therefore, Judaism could perhaps be regarded in some ways as an “elder brother” of Christianity. The response of Gibson senior was to say that Abel also had an elder brother. … You know what? I think that this qualifies as anti-Semitism, too.

Read it all -it’s a treat.


And the winner is….

Hezbollah. What a frikkin’ tragedy. The warbloggers can rant all they want about Israel’s right to defend itself. But what matters in the end is who wins the war, not the battle. Israel will win the battle, but its scorched earth policy ensures that it will be mired in brutal warfare for a long time to come, perhaps forever. No matter how you slice it, Hezbollah wins, Israel loses. Just like our war on terror, which has ensured a thriving and self-replicating al Qaeda. No one ever learns.


Shanghai’s Xiang Yang market closed?

Or that’s what Wangjianshuo is saying. Now that would be tragic. Lisa and I had a great time there a couple of months ago.

Well. Xiangyang Market is shutdown, but the fake good store owners are always able to find places to continue their business, and more interestingly, customers (including foreign customers) seem to be good at finding them out, quickly.

Yes, but Xiang Yang had one huge advantage, namely its exquisite location right in the heart of things. It’s like Pat Pong in Bangkok, only it smells better.

Via Bingfeng.


China slaughters more than 50,000 dogs in Yunnan province

All because three people in the region died of rabies in the past four months. This is a strange story indeed.

A county in southwest China has ordered all 50,546 dogs to be killed in an effort to fight a rabies outbreak that has caused the deaths of three people, state media has said. Around 90 percent of the dogs in Muding county, Yunnan province, had already been killed since the campaign began on July 25, the Beijing News said.

Owners were ordered to kill their pets or face having teams of local police and other enforcement officers kill them, it said. Even the 4,292 dogs in the county that had been immunized against rabies were ordered put to death, as authorities said the immunizations were not 100 percent effective, the report said.

From January through July, 360 people in the county had been bitten by dogs, with the three human deaths occurring since April, the Beijing Times said. Some owners have used methods including hanging their dogs, electrocuting them and clubbing them to death, while others used drugs, the Beijing News said.

Dog owwners had been compensated five yuan (60 cents) each for the loss of their pets.

A reporter for the Beijing News who visited the county said one woman was told by dog-elimination squads patrolling the streets that her dog had to be killed. She covered her eyes as the patrollers beat her dog to death.

To prevent dog owners from violating the order, roadside checkpoints had been set up to inspect vehicles for dogs, the Beijing News said. Any dogs found were immediately killed at the scene.

I don’t know. Something about this sure doesn’t sound right to me. I mean, couldn’t they have vaccinated and then quarantined the dogs? Yeah, I know, they might not have the infrastructure in place to quarantine 50,000 dogs, especially out in the countryside, but is there really no alternative to mass slaughter?

Found on the Internet’s best forum.


The Nanjing Massacre and the “good Nazi”

This is a story I had read about earlier – how John Rabe, a German businessman and Nazi Party member, helped to save many thousands of Chinese lives as the Japanese plundered and brutalized Nanjing in 1937. Apparently there will soon be a film coming out about his act of incredible courage, which no doubt will elicit immediate comparisons with Oskar Schindler. This article gives a good rundown of who he was and what he did, and leaves us with a bit of hope at a time when tales of true heroism and selflessness seem fewer and farther between.

Tang Daoluan, the director of Nanjing University’s archive department, believes Rabe was essentially apolitical and only joined the party to get support for a German school he set up in Nanjing. For her, it was Rabe’s humanity that moved her most.

“He is only a businessman, not a priest or a humanitarian worker. What he did here – protecting citizens of another country without regard for his own safety – went far beyond his duty. He was a good man who understood human dignity,” said Tang.

…..Even at the time, his fame was such that 3 000 women from Jinling Women’s University knelt by the roadside and kowtowed in gratitude to Rabe when he was finally forced to leave the city early in 1938.

After returning to Berlin, Rabe gave lectures about the massacre and tried to get Hitler to intervene. He was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo for three days and told to shut up. He left for Afghanistan and then came back to Berlin to work for Siemens.

After the war, because of the implementation of de-Nazification, he lost his job and was kept alive by food parcels and money sent from grateful colleagues in China.

Schindler, Wallenberg, Rabe… I’m always in awe of “ordinary men” who transcend themselves and their situations, and wonder at the source of their goodness – especially people like Rabe and Schindler, ordinary businesspeople and opportunists who, when faced with a moral crisis, rise to the situation and become nothing less than saints. One of the great mysteries of us human beings, and one of the greatest sources of hope.


Paul Krugman: Shock and Awe

Shock and Awe
Published: July 31, 2006

For Americans who care deeply about Israel, one of the truly nightmarish things about the war in Lebanon has been watching Israel repeat the same mistakes the United States made in Iraq. It’s as if Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been possessed by the deranged spirit of Donald Rumsfeld.

Yes, I know that there are big differences in the origins of the two wars. There’s no question of this war having been sold on false pretenses; unlike America in Iraq, Israel is clearly acting in self-defense.



Digby on John “Butcher More Sunnis” Podhoretz

Usually I don’t link to anything Atrios links to, as chances are all intelligent readers have seen it already, but this one was too good not to recommend.


The Passion of St. Mel

One of the most heated arguments we’ve ever seen on this site took place when Gibson’s The Passion opened, and I criticized it as antisemitic pornography (though it has a lovely soundtrack). My worst fears about Gibson were confirmed with news of his arrest and his ensuing collapse into a gushing fountain of Jew hatred. Sad but not surprising, and I feel more than ever that this hatred was a dominating force behind his movie.


Frank Rich: The Peculiar Disappearance of the War in Iraq


The Peculiar Disappearance of the War in Iraq
Published: July 30, 2006

AS America fell into the quagmire of Vietnam, the comedian Milton Berle joked that the fastest way to end the war would be to put it on the last-place network, ABC, where it was certain to be canceled. Berle’s gallows humor lives on in the quagmire in Iraq. Americans want this war canceled too, and first- and last-place networks alike are more than happy to oblige.

CNN will surely remind us today that it is Day 19 of the Israel-Hezbollah war – now branded as Crisis in the Middle East – but you won’t catch anyone saying it’s Day 1,229 of the war in Iraq. On the Big Three networks’ evening newscasts, the time devoted to Iraq has fallen 60 percent between 2003 and this spring, as clocked by the television monitor, the Tyndall Report. On Thursday, Brian Williams of NBC read aloud a ‘shame on you’ e-mail complaint from the parents of two military sons anguished that his broadcast had so little news about the war.