Horrible abuse of prisoners by US renegade troops [BBC]

“Images of US soldiers allegedly abusing Iraqi prisoners at a notorious jail near Baghdad have sparked shock and anger.”

This is a grim story. Looks like these prisoners were abused, possibly tortured and certainly subjected to humiliation and japes. Predictably and rightly we in the West have reacted with shock and outrage. The US armed forces have arrested several of the miscreants and launched a full investigation. The abuses are freely and widely reported. Justice will be done.

Whilst I am appalled at what these photos suggest, I am proud of the reaction by the US army and the people of the West. We are horrified by this sort of abuse and react forcefully demanding justice.

Contrast this with the murder of captured soldiers and civilians by our Islamist enemies and the lack of condemnation of their actions in many Arab countries.

Abuse prisoners in this civilisation and you are a pariah punished by the law. Cut the throats of journalists or shoot Italian civilian captives on camera and harvest praise and encouragement from ‘the Arab street’.

The Good Old Naughty Days – [Guardian Film Review]

“This is a bizarre and hilarious film: a fascinating chapter in the secret history of cinema, the belle époque, and of sexual politics. Originally entitled Polissons et Galipettes (“naughtinesses and tumbles”), it anthologises a dozen sex films, furtively made in France between 1905 and 1925, well before the Chatterley ban and the Beatles’ first LP. They were often filmed covertly using the stages and costumes of legitimate productions, and designed to be shown in brothels and at stag parties.

If you think these films are going to be like coy Edwardian postcards, or that screen sex was invented in the 1970s, think again. This is in-your-face hardcore porn with surprisingly high production values, complete with flabby tummies, mottled thighs and armpit hair, and given a tinkling piano soundtrack that goes into trilling glissando runs for the money shots.” MORE

The big fat con story [Guardian]

Size really doesn’t matter. You can be just as healthy if you’re fat as you can if you’re slender. And don’t let the obesity ‘experts’ persuade you otherwise, argues Paul Campos

at is on trial, but until now the defence has been mostly absent from the court of public opinion. At bottom, the case against fat rests on the claim that the thinner you are, the longer you will live. Fat Kills, and the prescription is clear: Get Thin.

The doctors and public health officials prosecuting the war on fat would have us believe that who is or isn’t fat is a scientific question that can be answered by consulting something as crude as a body mass index chart (the BMI is a simple mathematical formula that puts people of different heights and weights on a single integrated scale). This, like so many other claims at the heart of the case against fat, is false. “Fat” is a cultural construct. According to the public health establishment’s current BMI definitions, Brad Pitt, Michael Jordan and Mel Gibson are all “overweight”, while Russell Crowe, George Clooney and baseball star Sammy Sosa are all “obese”. According to America’s fat police, if your BMI is over 25, then you are “overweight”,full stop. Note also the radical difference between how our culture defines “fashionable” thinness for men and women. If Jennifer Aniston had the same BMI as her husband Brad Pitt, she would weigh approximately 55lb (nearly four stone) more than she does. MORE

Diplomats send revolt(ing) letter

Hasbeens attack the Prime minister and Bush (and Israel) with an open letter which is vague, whiney, short on any solutions and downright wrong. Plus it was mis-reported by many. Here is my summary based on the text of the letter:

Paragraph 1: The ambassadors express concern about “policies which [Blair has] followed on the Arab-Israel problem and Iraq, in close co-operation with the United States”

Paragraph 2 – After the recent Washington press conference, they felt it was time to express their anxieties which they hope will be addressed in Parliament and will lead to a fundamental reassessment of the said polices.

Paragraph 3 – They note that the Middle East Road map raised hope that the great powers would resolve the Israel/Palestine problem which they say “more than any other, has for decades poisoned relations between the West and the Islamic and Arab worlds”. They do not note that it is in fact an Arab-Israeli conflict with the entire region having tried on 5 separate occasions to destroy Israeli by warfare and unceasingly by terrorism.

Paragraph 4 – They assert that the “legal and political principles on which such a settlement would be based were well established” and that former US president Clinton tried to help and that ” the ingredients needed for a settlement were well understood and informal agreements on several of them had already been achieved”. They fail to note that Israel voted in the most pacifistic left wing government ever under Barak, made concession after concession and offered the Palestinians 95% of their requests by Arafat STILL launched the second Intefadah. The Arabs walked away from the peace process and back to war NOT the Israelis. Ever since the Israelis have been continuing their 60 year fight for survival and security.

Paragraph 5 – They moan that “nothing effective has been done either to move the negotiations forward or to curb the violence” and that the world has waited in vain for American leadership. The whole problem is that there is no “other side” with which to negotiate or discuss peace. The PLO are sidelined and utterly corrupt and terrorists like Hamas have it in their charter that nothing less than the annihilation of Israel will suffice. Furthermore, Israel and America are fighting the same Islamist enemies. They are opting for the destruction of those enemies, not negotiation with them.

Paragraph 6 – They claim worse has come and that the international community has been” confronted” “with the announcement by Ariel Sharon and President Bush of new policies which are one-sided and illegal and which will cost yet more Israeli and Palestinian blood.” This grossly imbalanced and vague to the point of being bunk. What policies are they talking about? How are they illegal – by whose authority? Is it the security wall? Is it the fact of the settlements exist and cannot now be removed. By all expert accounts the wall Israel is building has been extremely effective in curbing suicide bombings and increasing security. It saves Israeli lives and as it is Israelis who are the targets of Islamist aggression, it is legitimate for them to take whatever measures are necessary to protect themselves.

Paragraph 7 – They are dismayed by “backward step” which they interpret as an abandonment of “nearly four decades have guided international efforts to restore peace in the Holy Land”. Might I point out that over those four decades no peace or security has been secured. On the contrary, all appeasement has invited attack. Lauding four decades of failed diplomatic efforts is proofing of nothing but the failures of those unrealistic proposals.

Paragraph 8 – They are particularly worried about this because we are “rightly or wrongly…portrayed throughout the Arab and Muslim world as partners in an illegal and brutal occupation in Iraq”. Where is the statement of support for the efforts of the coalition? Do they agree with Al Jazeera’s portrayal? Would the like to see Saddam back in charge? Or maybe they honestly believe someone like Al Sadr will make a good dictator for the Iraqi people.

Paragraph 9 – Here the diplomats assert that “there was no effective plan for the post-Saddam settlement” I would like to see them defend this assertion. They refer to their predictions of serious and stubborn resistance to the occupation. Many predicted resistance but so what? That is not a reason NOT to depose Saddam, it simply means that the resistance must be crushed. This smacks of their frustration at not being able to stop the war so now they are saying “I told you so”. There is no I told you so. The millions of refugees and tens of thousands of dead simply did not materialise.

Paragraph 10 – They reject the assertion that the is “led by terrorists, fanatics and foreigners”. Whereas the involvement by Syria and Iran in recent events is well known, there is little evidence of any genuinely popular resistance or will to return to the status quo ante. They imply that the policies of the US and UK take no account of the nature and history of Iraq “the most complex country in the region”. They then make an extraordinary defeatist claim: “However much Iraqis may yearn for a democratic society, the belief that one could now be created by the Coalition is naive.” So these esteemed diplomats are suggesting that Iraqis are doomed to dictatorship or worse, UN rule regardless of their desire for democracy? What exactly is their alternative to the current efforts? I am sure the people of Iraq will confound this bleak assessment.

Paragraph 11 – They want the UN to “clear up the mess”. Firstly, what mess? The 300,000 bodies of murdered Iraqis killed by Saddam’s regime? The Iranian and Syrian insurgents? Evidence of the WMD smuggled to Syria? Are they to “clear up” the shocking corruption, thievery and collusion with a mass murderer that the UN participated in with its Food for Oil program?

Paragraph 12 – They state the obvious, namely that “military actions of the Coalition forces must be guided by political objectives and by the requirements of the Iraq theatre itself, not by criteria remote from them.” They assert that “it is not good enough to say that the use of force is a matter for local commanders.” It is. They assert that “heavy weapons unsuited to the task in hand, inflammatory language, the current confrontations in Najaf and Vallejo, all these have built up rather than isolated the opposition.” Military commanders decide what weapons are necessary for “the task at hand”. When fighting heavily armed insurgents, one must use heavy arms oneself. In both Najaf and Fallujah all bloodshed could be stopped immediately of insurgents stopped waging war on the coalition. Whilst they continue, they must surrender or be destroyed.

Paragraph 13 – They lament the loss on Iraqi lives. They should direct this at the insurgents and bombers who continue to slaughter innocent Iraqis and attack collation soldiers. They say it is “a disgrace” that the Coalition forces themselves appear to have no estimate of the number of civilians killed in Najaf or Fallujah. I am sure, like the Al Jazeera propagandists, the Coalition could make up some numbers. They may even have relatively accurate estimates but they cannot know because they are not present in these cities. They are besieging them and the only reports coming out about casualties are almost certainly blatant lies.

Paragraph 14 – They mock tributes to fallen soldiers because they only refer to coalition fallen. Do they expect the US military to give tribute to the Insurgents they kill? Is it not enough that they express sorrow and regret for any civilians killed (unlike the Islamist foes who slaughter schoolchildren and anyone else they see fit.)

Paragraph 15 – An appeal to Tony Blair to expert “real influence as a loyal ally.” But what are they suggesting he do? What are they suggesting Bush does other than what they are doing already? What “urgent” changes do they want?

Finally, paragraph 16 – They say in a roundabout way that of Bush were to reject Blair’s prompting Blair ought to withdraw his support for “polices doomed for failure”.

It is a stupid letter. They suggest nothing. They offer nothing constructive and they are unjustifiably negative. I am glad these are former diplomats as I would be horrified if this lot were in office today.

Race: no such thing by Paul R. Gross [New Criterion]

What response would you get were you to ask almost any college student or member of the current, self-identified American intelligentsia, “What is this society’s most serious problem?” Almost certainly, a large proportion of your eligible interviewees would give this answer without hesitation: “Race!” But here is an oddity: The same interviewees who answer your question with “Race!” will assure you, also without hesitation, that there is no such thing. They will maintain that for humans the concept of “race” is meaningless: that there are no biologically significant human group differences, hence no human races.

This is a public catechism: it is recited regularly, with conviction and feeling, in the media and in the social sciences. The au courant, including well-known scientists and a good many official voices of science, insist that race is—speaking of biology or genetics —a recent illusion, fostered by European imperialism and triumphalism. If pushed, most respondents will try to invoke some authority on this, although of course the vast majority has not understood or even heard of the relevant science. The reference is usually to “modern biology.” Or, if the respondents have actually read some popular writing on the subject (or watched The Power of an Illusion, the much admired 2003 PBS documentary), they will appeal to some such visible scientific name as “Gould” or “Lewontin,” or to one of the leaders of the Human Genome Project, or to a science journalist at, say, The New York Times.

Why then do governments set so bad an example? Why do they appear to insist that race does exist—as evidenced by the requirement that we specify, inter alia, our race (choose one of three? of nine? of seventeen?) in responding to the census-taker, or when completing an application for admission, bidding for a contract, being tested for a job? The answer you get, if you get one at all, will take this form: “Well, there is no such thing as race. We’re all the same, and the little differences in various competences noted among us are due to upbringing, lifestyle, unequal social services, and the like. The differences we see are no more than skin deep; any difference we can measure is socially constructed. But: bad people argue that we are not all the same. Therefore we must assemble and keep data and records on this false category—race—so as to defeat the racists and to undo the social evils they propagate.” MORE

The Hispanic Challenge By Samuel P. Huntington [Foreign Policy]

From Foreign Policy March/April 2004:

The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves—from Los Angeles to Miami—and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril. MORE