Category Archives: Asia

The Speech

He reminded me again (as if I needed it) of exactly why I voted for him.  He was logical, methodical and hit just the right tone — he’s no believer in “American Exceptionalism” but he also is no apologist as others have tried to portray him.  We must finish what we started, back in the day when virtually everyone — and everyone I knew at the time — was with us.  He’s laid the groundwork through his travels, meetings and speeches since taking office.  He’s got not only the support of, but also praise from his lead commander in the region.  And despite McCain being on two networks right afterwards acting cranky and old, (along with Bob Schieffer of CBS — gah the man is obnoxious;  I don’t care how long he has been around), I think President Obama will be more persuasive.

This morning I was listening to Bill Bennett, and one of his callers related a story about his son being at Westpoint in 1996 or 1997 when Bill Clinton gave a speech.  The caller suggested that Clinton had already by that time disgraced the office . . . perhaps his memory is . . . spotty . . . but he claimed that the cadets would be polite for President Obama (no big surprise there) just like they were for Clinton, but he also claimed that after they had shaken hands with Clinton, they had a ceremony to “cleanse” their hands.  The caller suggested the same would happen with President Obama.  I’m doubtful.  Those I saw on teevee thrusting their hands forward through the thick of their classmates didn’t seem to be faking it.  They all seemed enthusiastic.  Many of them also asked to pose for pics with the president.  I’d like to follow up on this with Bennett tomorrow, but since I have a job, I’m not able to spend three hours on hold while Bennett belches and mumbles.

On the very long way home from work (don’t ask) I listened to a completely incoherent Michael Berry.  He is struggling with his position on Afghanistan — dipping into anti-war arguments, but clumsily.  (I’m doing this from memory — during a very terrible drive home, so forgive me if I don’t get it exactly right.)  He disparaged both the Afghans and the Pakistanis.  They live in caves.  They are backwards.  Osama Bin Laden can only connect with people in old fashioned ways because there are no cell towers where he is.  They are an arbitrary conglomeration and not a nation (neither one).

Then he switched over to hyper- conservative and agreed that going to war for oil is good.  You know, because WE NEED IT.  So it’s ok.  I didn’t hear him make the same argument for poppy seeds, but he could have.  He also proclaimed that he supports the troops!  as much or more than anyone because he is a good redneck.  Unfortunately, like all other chickhawks of all time, he never felt so strongly about it that he could serve.  Maybe it was because he was fat.  He does go on and on about that weight loss company that sounds a lot like AA for fatties (not that there is anything wrong with that).

But enough of giving time to small audience talk radio types for tonight.

I am proud of my president.  While I did not advocate military action even in Afghanistan, even back in the day (I’ve always been for the law enforcement approach), President Obama inherited (and no, Michael Berry, you cannot redefine what “inherited” means, no matter how hard you try) this conflict, and from all I can tell he has made an informed and prudent decision.  I support him.  He made a difficult decision.  He will follow through.  He has the support of the his commanders.

Now it’s just up to us — all of us — to make sure that we — with this plan — can succeed.

Proselytizing

With what happened at Fort Hood, and the relentless stream of scary Muslim stories in the U.S. — tonight a report on the local news that some Mosques here are sending money back to Iran, I just have to point and laugh.

For a long time, churches here in the U.S. have been funding people to spread out around the world to proselytize. When I was a pre-teen, my mom’s church was where I discovered Africa — through its program to send missionaries there.

With the fall of the former Soviet Union, missionaries flooded Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics. I can’t tell you how many of my students in Latvia practiced their English with Mormons around pool tables. And the other Christians were there, too.

So why is anyone surprised that Muslims are proselytizing here in the U.S.? Why worry that there are Muslims in our armed forces? Why be concerned about growing Muslim populations?

I admit I am an innocent bystander. I don’t really care what crazy omniscient being you believe in, and none of them will convince me that their God is the one, but I still find it calmly humorous that now Christians are getting bent about Muslims horning in on their turf. Religions are funny that way.

A Happy, Hopeful, Ending and Beginning

Four of the Uighurs held at Gitmo for years arrived in Bermuda this past Thursday.  Articles and photos here and here.

I’m still very disappointed in Jim Webb over this.  There is a Uighurs community in Virginia very willing to take the men in.  Perhpas its all for the best.  They probably wouldn’t have had the same warm welcome there that they received in Bermuda.

Some Satisfaction for Cambodians, at Long Last

Thirty years later, meaning that the man on trial today was approximately 32-36 years old when he tortured his fellow citizens, Kaing Guek Eav apologized for what he had done.

It has been a long wait for the families of the victims.  At least now they may be able to learn what happened to their loved ones, or the whys or hows of the whole thing.

Trials and truth commissions have helped other countries come to terms with atrocities committed by citizens upon their fellow citizens.

I’ve always thought that the reason so many Americans have felt comfortable with so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques is solely because it wasn’t Americans doing it to other Americans.

A Barbaric Circle Made Complete

From the NYT via memeorandum — The plan for interrogations at Gitmo orginated from the methods (which the U.S. classified as torture) used by Red China on U.S. military personnel during the Korean War — which btw — resulted in mostly false confessions from said personnel.

So, let’s get this straight:  The Red Chinese tortured U.S. military personnel during the Korean War.  The torture results in false confessions, i.e. admitting to the U.S. using germ warfare, among other atrocities.  These men were later interviewed and they detailed what was done to them.  The military then incorporated this information into SERE training.  Then the Bush Administration decides that it would be a good idea to use the same techniques our government had long claimed was torture on detainees at Gitmo.

One more time — to just pound it home — The Bush Administration took torture techniques from Red China,  known to have produced false confessions, and used them in some completely misguided attempt to get TRUE confessions from the detainees in Gitmo.

These ‘techniques’ aren’t lawfully used by the DoD anymore, but Bush made sure the CIA still can.

I’m sure that the genius who came up with this thought something along the lines of, “Well the Chinese didn’t get it right, but we can!!!!”

A “fun” factoid from the article — these are the same techniques used by cults to brainwash initiates.  That’s just great. /sarcasm

 Added: Kevin Drum at the Washington Monthly  + comments

Some Links re: Bhutto and Pakistan

I can’t say, like some others I have read today, that I expected Bhutto to be assassinated.  The News Hour replayed an interview Margaret Warner did with Bhutto this fall — and she knew the risk she was taking.  It doesn’t make things any better.

Warner also recently did a series of reports from Pakistan, which I highly recommend.  Here’s a page with many links to other reports.

John Edwards spoke with Musharraf today.  Here’s the content(from a very good original source blog by O. Kay Henderson in Iowa.

Henderson:  “In regards to the situation in Pakistan, if you were president, what would you be doing?”

Edwards: “If I were president I would do some of what I’ve already done.  I spoke with the Pakistani Ambassador and then a few minutes ago I spoke with President Musharraf, urging him to continue on the path to democratization, to allow international investigators to come in to determine what happened, what the facts were so that there would be transparency and credibility about what actually occurred and also about the upcoming schedule of elections and that the important thing for America to do in this unstable environment is first of all focus on the tragedy that’s occurred.  Benazir Bhutto was a strong woman, a courageous woman, someone that I actually spoke at a conference with a few years and she talked about the path to democracy in Pakistan being baptized in blood so she understood the extraordinary risk that she was taking by going back and it’s a terrible tragedy for the people of Pakistan, but it’s important for America to be a calming influence and provide strength in this environment.”

Henderson:  “How did you get in touch with Musharraf? What’s the relationship there?”

Edwards:  “I met Musharraf years ago in Islamabad.  We talked about many of the problems that his country was faced with including kids being educated in Madrasahs and some of the struggles that he was having within his own country and so when I spoke to the ambassador earlier today I said if Musharraf, if the president had time would you have him give me a call because I’d like to speak with him directly and he called.”

I can only hope that my former Pakistani students, as well as their families, are all safe.

ADDED (from the Chronicle):  Houston’s Mayor White has known the Bhutto family for 35 years, having roomed with Bhutto’s brother at Harvard.

Also, Bill Bennett’s analysis so far this morning (Friday) is that Bhutto’s assassination helps McCain and Giuliani because they are tough guys.  (With the caveat that McCain is soft on torture, but tough otherwise.)  He and Seth shrug their shoulders and say well maybe this helps Clinton, but you know, this sort of thing actually hurts the Democrats.  Oh, and Bennett has already decided that Musharraf didn’t have anything to do with it, despite the fact that he didn’t know until about 5:30 a.m. central time that AQ had claimed responsibility.  What would I do without Dr. Bill’s insight?