Saturday, August 12, 2006

Countering the A.N.S.W.E.R. "Stop the US-Israeli War" Protest

Yesterday I went into Washington DC to join my fellow Free Republic and Protest Warrior friends to counter International A.N.S.W.E.R.'s "Stop the US-Israeli War" protest rally and march. It was a very interesting day as these things go, and a complete report and photographs follow.

In case you are not aware, A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) is a front group for the Workers World Party. We know it is a front group because many of A.N.S.W.E.R.'s organizers, and many speakers at it's rallies, are WWP members. David Horowitz has a complete profile of them at his DiscoverTheNetwork site.

Among The Commies

A.N.S.W.E.R.'s plan was to hold a rally at Lafayette Park, which is right next to the White House, and then march down Pennsylvania Avenue, which is again next to the White House. They would continue down 15th Street, make a few turns and essentially circle the White House, ending up in Lafayette Park again where they would close out. Their rally at the park was scheduled to start at noon.

The plan for Free Republic was that we were going to meet in the south corner of Lafayette Park where it is separated by a fence from the White House. We would use our "HUMAN SHIELD" signs, just as we did when we "shielded" the Danish Embassy from a radical muslim group this past February.

I got their early, at about 10:15 or so, where I ran into three other "Freepers" (Free Republic) Maybe 200 leftists had already gathered in the park and were milling about. Since the people with our signs had not arrived yet, I decided to have a look about while my frields waited under a tree.


He showed me a copy of his newspaper, The Militant. One of the articles as about Iran, so I asked him his position on it. He told me that we needed to leave them alone, because all they wanted was nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. I asked him if it was ok then if we had nuclear energy here in the US, and, perhaps realizing the trap, quickly said that he wasn't judging what they were doing but that it was their decision and we should leave them alone. After a few minutes of this I thanked him and moved on.

Here are some books that another guy had laid out for sale



Here's the stage they had set up, and then some of the commies as they milled about. Among all this were some tourists, who had a what in the world did I wanter into? look on their faces.



The organizers had their signs stacked and ready to go. They even had a big "check in" station for the volunteers. They were nothing if not organized, I'll give them that.



After wandering around for a bit, I rejoined my group. However, the police had noticed us. One of our group was carrying an American flag and wearing an NRA hat. Those people don't belong here. "Sorrry, but A.N.S.W.E.R. has a permit for the entire park" they told us, "you'll have to leave." They escorded us out.

Reorganization and The 2nd Boot

I made a few phone calls to the Freepers who hadn't shown up yet and we decided on a new strategy. My group would try and meet up with the Protest Warriors, while Kristinn (the Free Republic leader and guy with our signs) and his group would try and enter Lafayette Park from the other side.

We circled south, making our way around the White House. We met up with some of the Protest Warrors and found out where they were setting up. We then went back up to Lafayette Park to see if we could find Kristinn and his group.

As it was, we got there just as they were being booted. No big deal, he said, "we had some good debate with the leftists". That there were plenty of police around while this was going on was not doubt reassuring to him, I thought.

Getting Ready for the March

We rejoined the Protest Warriors at 15th and Pennsylvania, where they had the permit for our counter-demonstration. The police officers were already there, and after "checking in" with them we set up camp. There were just over 30 of us. As is the usual practice at these events, the police set up a tape that we had to stand behind. They made sure the marchers kept on the street and we had to stay behind the tape. Which was all very fair.


Here are some of the commie signs that one of our number obtained from one of the stacks in the photos at top.




Here I am, ready for action. Behind me you can see several flags, at left the American, middle Israeli, and at right a Christian one. "These'll drive them crazy" the guy who set them up said with a grin. He was right about that.

"Hezbos", btw, is how Rush Limbaugh refers to Hezbollah.

The Tourists

While we waited, tourists and other people wandered about, looking around at us and some of the commie protesters who were just arriving and making their way to Lafayette Park. Most eyed each group and just walked on, not giving any clue as to their sympathies. But we got quite a few "thumbs up", or other indications that we're on your side. It was also obvious who got the "Hezbos" reference.

But in all this I did meet and briefly speak to a few of the tourists.

The most interesting were two young Israeli men, maybe 25 or 30 yrs old. They had thick accents but I could understand them fine. "They don't know, they are ignorant", one of them said, referring to the A.N.S.W.E.R. people. They were from Haifa, one of the northern cities under rocket attack. "How are things there?" I asked. About 20% of the people in the city had left their homes, they said. How about the war, I asked. "We will win", on of them said with a confident look and smile before they were on their way.

I also met an Australian couple, another from Italy, and even a lady from France, all of whom expressed support for our side and thanked us for what we were doing. In turn, I thanked them for their country's support in the war on terror (I thanked the French lady for their help in Afghanistan, which has been considerable).

The Marchers Arrive

At about 2:00 the marchers came down the street and walked past us. Many were decidedly unhappy with our presence, evidenly surprised that they would not have the day to themselves. Which was the whole point of our presence.

The flag with two red stripes and a cypress tree in the middle is the flag of Lebanon. The one with a black, white and green stripe and red arrow near the flagpole is that of the Palestinian Authority.


"No Justice No Peace", a fairly standard slogan and leftist marches



As I mentioned, some of them got very angry with us


Note the "Hands off Cuba" sign. Leftists are great for their mixed messages at these events



Our Chants

Because it was too loud for any one voice to be heard, we would all chant in unison something at them as they went by:

Free Lebanon from Hezbollah!

USA! USA! USA!

Please, Don't, Blow Us Up!

No More Hezbollah!

Shame, Shame, Shame On You!

Iran, Syria, Out of Lebanon!



I coundn't understand most of their chants as most seemed partially in Arabic or something. But I did get a few

Stop Bombing Lebanon!

Long Live Hezbollah!


ConcreteBob, the leader of the Protest Warriors, had the foresight to bring a bullhorn, which he used to great effect




As you can tell, many of the marchers were Arabic in appearance. This guy had on a shirt with the flag of Hezbollah on it



The march ended at about 2:45. I may not have the start time of 2:00 exactly right, as I forgot to check my watch when they first came by and so had to ask someone what time it all started.

The Coffins

After it was all over and we had cleaned up our area, I walked back up 15th to a metro stop. This took us past Lafayette Park again, where I could see that they had reassembled.

We walked up another block or so, where to my left I saw this


Coffins!

This was a favorite of the hard left. Code Pink did this once ourside Walter Reed Army Medical Center, before the arrival of Free Republic shamed them into adopting less obnoxious tactics.



Around the next corner we took a left towards the subway station. We caught the end of their procession. I estimate that they had maybe 15-20 coffins in all


They were taking them to a small park across the street where they were evidently going to carry out their own separate event. I took a photo, but as they were under trees it came out too dark to be useful. I still had my small Israeli flag with me, and the last guy in their procession spoke to me as I took these photos

"Why are you taking pictures?!" he said to me in a fairly confrontational tone. He had an accent, I'm guessing it was Arabic. Then he said something about my camera being a "blunt instrument" or something like that. I decided discretion was the better part of valor and we made our way into the subway station.
Final Thoughts

This is not the place to discuss the morality or politics of the Middle East. I've done that at my personal site, The Redhunter, many times, so please visit it if you want the full story.

I've also been present at many other protests, so while you're at The Redhunter click on Rallies and Protests under "Categories" at right, for photos and reports of many events that have occured in and around Washington DC in the past year.

However, for a quick view of the Middle East from someone who's opinions I share, David Horowitz has an excellent Guide to the Middle East at DiscoverThe Network.org.

The police did an outstanding job,and my hat is off to them. All of us thanked them once the event was over. They have a good sense of humor about the whole thing. "Another day, another protest, huh?" I said to one. He just laughed.

As for the marchers, the Israelis I met where too polite when they called them ignorant. They were marching under the banner of communism, and in a cause which supports terrorists. I call that evil.

Update

LGF has a great video of some the speakers and the march itself, taken by blogger Age of Hooper. Go this his site for additional photos.

Zombietime also has great photos of the "Stop the U.S.-Israeli War" rally they held in San Francisco on August 12 also that you won't want to miss.

I briefly met Tantor of Conservative Propaganda, but so far he has not posted anything about the event.

The Washington Times has a short story on the march. As with most media coverage, the story tells nothing of who A.N.S.W.E.R. is, and ignores the vast number of communist and socialist signs. The only signs in our counter-protest they mention are the most inflamitory ones, however.

The Washington Post did slightly better, describing A.N.S.W.E.R. as "a left-wing group that has sponsored numerous antiwar rallies that often attract socialists and anarchists." They also have a few photos and a short video. But they still ignored the communist and socialist messages so prevalent among the marchers. And the only thing they say about our counter protest is this
"There is no other God but Jesus!" shouted one of the counter-protesters. He held a megaphone in one hand, a Bible in the other.
I don't remember this at all, but don't rule it out. It's entirely possible that the person saying this was not with our group. But it wasn't typical at all of our message. Our objection to the marchers was not religious, but policical.

This Associated Press this story posted on CNN also whitewashes the A.N.S.W.E.R. crowd.

Marc of USS Neverdock catches Reuters in some pretty blatant bias.

A Berlin Wall moment is needed

During the Cold War between the West led by the United States and the Soviet Empire, the United States suffered many setbacks. During the mid to late 1970s, it seemed as though the Soviet Union might defeat the West, not because Communism was a superior political structure to liberal democracy in terms of bringing its citizens happiness and material wealth, but because the Soviet-Communist system was capable of effectively mobilizing resources behind a single purpose while the West, being a society that values freedom of dissent, could rarely take decisive action and maintain that action for longer than a few election cycles.

But then, as the National Review wrote in 1989, "God cleared his throat," the Berlin Wall collapsed and Eastern Europe began to pull free of Soviet domination. A few years later the Soviet Union broke apart. As we attempt to win the war against Islamic extremism, we need to look back at the Cold War and how it came to its surprising end.

The Soviet Empire was one of histories largest, spanning all over the globe from Southeast Asia in Vietnam to parts of Africa and even in the Western Hemisphere. East German agents funded peace movements in West Germany while North Korean agents similarly attempted to influence South Korean politics. The Soviet Union could increase aid to Cuba and increase its military budget without worrying about whether the people would support such expenditures, since few people were aware of how much of the nation's income was being spent on these items.

But the Soviet Empire began to collapse in 1989 without a shot being fired by the West. By this I mean that neither a single Soviet tank nor a single soldier was destroyed or killed in Eastern Europe by the West.

All governments rely, to some extent, on a willingness of its people to obey. While a military or secret police can intimidate a subject population, this still requires that the military or secret policy execute orders given to it. When a significant number people are charged with executing government "policy" decide to disobey, a dictator thought to be ruling with an iron fist can be made ineffective or even overthrown.

What is needed in the current war against Islamic extremism is a Berlin Wall moment, moment when thousands of (perhaps nominal or lapsed) Muslims in positions of executing orders given to them by their government decide to join the movement for democracy and freedom. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be happening in Great Britain and elsewhere in the West. There seem to be pockets of support for Islamic totalitarianism and hostility to liberal democracy within Western societies. If we are to win this war we have to identify and support those pockets of resistance to Islamic totalitarianism in the Islamic world. Perhaps the result will be a Berlin Wall moment in the Islamic World.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A War over risk assessment

The Democrats and Republicans differing views regarding how to fight the war against Islamo-fascism really comes down to differing risk assessments. As Rich Lowry writes in his column, The One-Percent Problem. Dick Cheney is right., just because something is unlikely doesn't mean we need not be on guard against it.
Ron Suskind's best-selling book The One Percent Doctrine refers to Vice President Dick Cheney's axiom that if there is a one-percent chance of a nuclear bomb going off in an American city, the U.S. government has to respond with all the urgency as if there is a 100 percent chance of such an event. When Suskind's book appeared, there was much clucking about Cheney's thinking so dire, so dark, so unmodulated.

But Cheney's vision can only be considered unhinged if a fog of complacency descends about the terror threat facing us. Whenever that threat becomes clear again, as it has in the wake of the breakup of a plot in Britain to blow airliners from the sky, everyone begins to think like Dick Cheney, or maybe more so: If there is a mere .0001-percent chance of a terrorist smuggling liquid explosives on a flight from Denver to Green Bay, Wis., no one can carry on hair gel, and new mothers must present their baby formula for inspection.
The standard Democrat response to the latest terrorist attempt in Britain has been to argue that the war in Iraq is diverting resources away from intelligence gathering. But here again, Lowry points out that Democrats aren't just soft when it comes to handing our enemies a victory in Iraq by "redeploying to Japan" (as Democrat Representative Murtha proposed), they are soft in a multitude of ways.
The same Democrats who oppose the war in Iraq tend to oppose the National Security Agency surveillance program, condemn aggressive interrogations, and complain about the Patriot Act. It is all part of a worldview that wishes away dangers when they demand philosophically uncongenial responses, defined as roughly anything that doesn't involve shoveling federal money to localities.
Perhaps it's time to apply the one-percent rule to Iran's nuclear program. Sure, maybe Iran will, once having developed nuclear weapons, never dare nuke Los Angeles or New York. But there is at least a one-percent chance that they might. Perhaps it is not too late to topple Iran's regime before it starts a nuclear war, a war that was foreseen by everyone who subscribes to Dick Cheney's one-percent rule.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Foreigner's Gift

The following in an extended excerpt from The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq by Fouad Ajami
Those nineteen young Arabs who assaulted America on the morning of 9/11 had come into their own after the disappointments of modern Arab history. They were not exactly traditional men: they were the issue, the children, of disappointment and of the tearing asunder of modern Arab history. They were city people, newly urbanized, half educated. They had filled the faith with their anxieties and a belligerent piety. They hated the West but were drawn to its magnetic force and felt the power of its attraction; they sharpened their "tradition," but it could no longer contain their lives or truly answer their needs. I had set out to write a long narrative of these pitiless young men -- and the culture that had given rise to them. But the Iraq war, "embedded" in this cruel history, was to overtake the writing I was doing.

A war fated and "written," maktoob, as the Arabs would say, this Iraq war turned out to be. For the full length of a decade, in the 1990s, the anti-American subversion -- and the incitement feeding it -- knew no respite. Appeasement had not worked. The "moderns," with Bill Clinton as their standard-bearer, had been sure we would be delivered by the marketplace and the spread of the World Wide Web. History had mocked them, and us all. In Kabul, and then in Baghdad, America had taken up sword against these troubles.

"The justice of a cause is not a promise of its success," Leon Wieseltier wrote in the pages of The New Republic, in a reassessment of the Iraq war. For growing numbers of Americans, the prospects for "success" in Iraq look uncertain at best. Before success, though, some words about the justice of this war. Let me be forthright about the view that runs through these pages. For me this was a legitimate and, at the beginning, a popular war that issued out of a deep American frustration with the "road rage" of the Arab world and with the culture of terrorism that had put down roots in Arab lands. It was not an isolated band of misguided young men who came America's way on 9/11. They emerged out of the Arab world's dominant culture and malignancies. There were the financiers who subsidized the terrorism. There were the intellectuals who winked at the terrorism and justified it. There were the preachers -- from Arabia to Amsterdam and Finsbury Park -- who gave it religious sanction and cover. And there were the Arab rulers whose authoritarian orders produced the terrorism and who looked away from it so long as it targeted foreign shores.

Afghanistan was the setting for the first battle against Arab radicalism. That desperate, impoverished land had been hijacked, rented if you will, by the Arab jihadists and their masters and financiers. Iraq followed: America wanted to get closer to the source of the troubles in the Arab world. It wasn't democracy that was at stake in Iraq. It was something more limited but important and achievable in its own way: a state less lethal to its own people and to the lands and peoples around it. Iraq's political culture had been poisoned by a crude theory of race and a racialist Arabism that had wrecked and unsettled Arab and Muslim life in the 1980s and 1990s. The Tikriti rulers had ignited a Sunni-Shia war within and over Islam. They had given Arabs a cruel view of history -- iron and fire and bigotry. They had, for all practical purposes, cut off the Arab world from the possibility of a decent, modern life.

It is easy to say that the expedition in Iraq is the product of American innocence. And it is easy to see that the American regent, L. Paul Bremer, didn't find his way to the deep recesses of Iraqi culture. Sure enough, it has proven virtually impossible to convince the people of Fallujah to take to more peaceful ways. It is painfully obvious that at the Abu Ghraib prison some of America's soldiers and military police and reservists broke the codes of war and of military justice. But there can be no doubting the nobility of the effort, for Abu Ghraib isn't the U.S. war. With support for the war hanging in the balance, Abu Ghraib has been an unmitigated disaster. But for all the terribleness of Abu Ghraib and its stain, this war has not been some "rogue operation" willed by the White House and by the Department of Defense. It isn't Paul Wolfowitz's war. It has been a war waged with congressional authorization and fought in the shadow of a terrible calamity visited upon America on 9/11. Sure enough, the United States didn't have the support of Kofi Annan or of Jacques Chirac. But Americans can be forgiven a touch of raw pride: the American rescue of Bosnia, in 1995, didn't have the approval of Boutros Boutros-Ghali (or of the head of his peacekeeping operations at the time, the same Kofi Annan) or of Fran├žois Mitterrand either.

My sense of Iraq, and of the U.S. expedition, is indelibly marked by the images and thoughts that came to me on six trips that I made to that country in the aftermath of the destruction of the regime of Saddam Hussein. A sense of America's power alternated with thoughts of its solitude and isolation in an alien world. The armies and machines -- and earnestness -- of a great foreign power against the background of a big, impenetrable region: America could awe the people of the Arab-Muslim world, and that region could outwit and outwait American power. The foreign power could repair the infrastructure of Iraq, and the insurgents could wreck it. America could "stand up" and train civil defense and police units, and they could disappear just when needed. In its desire to redeem its work, America could entertain for Iraqis hopes of a decent political culture, and the enemies of this project could fall back on a bigotry sharpened for combat and intolerance. Beyond the prison of the old despotism, the Iraqis have found the hazards and uncertainties -- and promise -- of freedom. An old order of dominion and primacy was shattered in Iraq. The rage against this American war, in Iraq itself and in the wider Arab world, was the anger of a culture that America had given power to the Shia stepchildren of the Arab world -- and to the Kurds. This proud sense of violation stretched from the embittered towns of the Sunni Triangle in western Iraq to the chat rooms of Arabia and to jihadists as far away from Iraq as North Africa and the Muslim enclaves of Western Europe.

In the way of people familiar with modern canons of expression -- of things that can and cannot be said -- the Arab elites were not about to own up in public to the real source of their animus toward this American project. The great Arab silence that greeted the terrors inflicted on Iraq by the brigades of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi gave away the wider Arab unease with the rise of the Shia in Iraq. For nearly three years, that Jordanian-born terrorist brought death and ruin to Iraq. There was barely concealed admiration for him in his native land and in Arab countries beyond. Jordan, in particular, showed remarkable sympathy for deeds of terror masquerading as Islamic acts. In one Pew survey, in the summer of 2005, 57 percent of Jordanians expressed support for suicide bombings and attacks on civilians. It was only when the chickens came home to roost and Zarqawi's pitiless warriors struck three hotels in Amman on November 9, 2005, killing sixty people, that Jordanians drew back in horror. In one survey, conducted a week after these attacks by a public opinion firm, Ipsos Jordan, 94 percent of the people surveyed now said that Al Qaeda's activities were detrimental to the interests of Arabs and Muslims; nearly three out of four Jordanians said that they had not expected "at all" such terrorist attacks in Jordan. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's own tribe now disowned him and broke ties with him. He had "shamed" them at home and placed in jeopardy their access to the state and its patronage. But even as they mourned their loss, the old habits persisted. "Zionist terror in Palestine = American terror in Iraq = Terror in Amman," read a banner held aloft by the leaders of the Engineers' Syndicate of Jordan who had come together to protest the hotel bombings. A country with this kind of political culture is in need of repair; the bureaucratic-military elite who run this realm have their work cut out for them. The Iraqi Shia were staking a claim to their country in the face of a stubborn Arab refusal to admit the sectarian bias at the heart of modern Arab life.

It would have been heady and right had Iraqis brought about their own liberty, had they demolished the prisons and the statues on their own. And it would have been easier and more comforting had America not redeemed their liberty with such heartbreaking American losses. There might have been greater American support for the war had the Iraqis not been too proud to admit that they needed the stranger's gift and had the United States come to a decent relationship with them. But the harvest of the war has been what it has been. In Kurdistan, Anglo-American power has provided protection to a people who have made good use of this new order. There is no excessive or contrived religious zeal in Kurdistan, and the nationalism that blows there seems free of chauvinism and delirium. There's a fight for the city of Kirkuk, where the Kurds will have to show greater restraint in the face of competing claims by the Turkomans, and by the Arabs who were pushed into Kirkuk by the old regime. But on balance Kurdistan shows that terrible histories can be remade. In the rest of the country, America rolled history's dice. There is a view that sees Shia theocracy stalking this new Iraq, but this view, as these pages will make clear, is not mine. Iraq may not provide the Pax Americana with a base of power in the Persian Gulf that some architects and proponents of the war hoped for. America can live without that strategic gain. It is the Iraqis who will need the saving graces of moderate politics.