Friday, November 17, 2006

Your liberal media and the Democratic Leadership Election

The coverage of the leadership races in the House have been pretty pathetic all around. Instead of noting that the democrats are electing a leader, and there are two serious candidates for the position, it's all spun as some sort of vicious civil war, full of back-stabbing and betrayl. For the Republicans? There leadership race is some excercise in decisive and strong unity. Of course, all this spin takes little regard of reality (or sanity)

From today's NY Times:
The Republicans, selecting their leaders in less dramatic fashion than Democrats
picked theirs on Thursday, chose Mr. Boehner as minority leader over the
conservative Representative Mike Spence of Indiana by a vote of 168 to
. A single vote was cast for Representative Joe Barton of
Texas. Representative Roy Blunt of Missouri was re-elected party whip by
137 to 57 over Representative John Shadegg of Arizona. (snip)

Cast in the minority role for the first time in 12 years, Republicans may
be taking solace in the battle that played out among House Democrats, who chose
Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland as their new majority leader on
Thursday, rejecting the choice of Ms. Pelosi, and straining the unity of the
new majority party
. (emphasis mine). In an indication that
rank-and-file members would be willing to break from Ms. Pelosi, Democrats chose
Mr. Hoyer over Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania by a decisive vote of 149 to 86.

So the Democrats put two candidates out. One wins decisively with 149 votes. The Republicans put two candidates up. The relect an old leadership figure (who helped lead their party to defeat) with 168 votes. The Democratic representatives did what they came to Washington to do: vote their conscience. And the new leader won big. But it's painted as some ugly, bitter affair. Even though by all appearances there was nothing partisan or ugly about it and everyone is simply moving after taking care of this required business.

The Washington Post title? "Democrats Reject Murtha." The Press always pumps the negative about Dems. They then note that this election has exposed "a deep political divide even before the party takes control." Even thought this choice wasn't really about policy or ideology, just about which individual gets to hold the reins of power. And without citing any evidence, it disparages relations between Pelosi and Hoyer.

In a show of unity after the closed-door meeting in a House office building, she
and Hoyer smiled and embraced. But the two longtime rivals must now try to pick
up the pieces after a bitter intraparty fight and prepare for a new Congress in

You know, it was an election campagin that lasted about three friggin' days. Murtha jumped in at the last minute after Hoyer already had the votes. Pelosi stood by her friend, but it didn't change anything (this aint no Tom Delay style leadership, there were no threats to drop the hammer). Nor should it have. And because the Democratic leadership let things play out fairly, they get crucified in the press.

The media loves message control (it boils things down to nice sound bites and talking points they understand). They hate the Democrats for not mandating a single, unified orthodoxy. They hate all the shades of grey, all the different opinions, and all the agendas that a truly representative, federal government brings. Because they are lazy bums who wouldn't know straight-forward and honets reporting if it slapped them in the face. Wankers.

[Update]: Please see the incomparable Mr. Greenwald, laying it out in a far more comprehensive and direct manner than my humble attempt.


The leading voices of the right generally think that they are the great wise ones, and pontificate with endless certainty on the issue du juor. There are so certain because when they go to look upon the world, the only gaze on a mirror. They only see themselves. Reassured that others will act pretty much like they will (if they are good people), they bloviate without hesitation or doubt.

Here is the latest, from Charlie Krauthammer, titled "It's the Iraqis' fault." Shorter version? We are wonderful and gave the gift of democracy to Iraq, but I was shocked to learn that they weren't prepared to radically alter their society at the insistence of the US military. Those ungrateful wretches! He starts:

We have given the Iraqis a republic, and they do not appear able to keep it. (snip)
I think we made several serious mistakes -- not shooting looters, not installing an Iraqi exile government right away, and not taking out Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army in its infancy in 2004 -- that greatly compromised the occupation. Nonetheless, the root problem lies with Iraqis and their political culture. (snip)
I'm sure our invasion, disbanding of their army and police force, and forcing the entire elite out of the power structure and leaving them at the mercy of militias had nothing to do with it. I'm sure our only fault was not leaving cities in the south while attacking a popular Shite religious figure.

Are the Arabs intrinsically incapable of democracy, as the "realists" imply? True, there are political, historical, even religious reasons why Arabs are less prepared for democracy than, say, East Asians and Latin Americans who successfully democratized over the past several decades. But the problem here is Iraq's particular political culture, raped and ruined by 30 years of Hussein's totalitarianism.
Why, who could have ever predicted that? Oh wait. Everyone with a brain before the election. In cultures that have faced 30 years of chaos and violence, political power doesn't grow out of the ballot box. It comes from the barrel of the gun. They understand that. And if we are trying to force them to use the ballot box, they will use their guns when we aren't around to intimidate and assassinate. You can't push democracy out of the barrel of a gun. A people have to choose that for themselves. So quit faulting them for our incompetent occupation that let anarchy bloom, for bringing the whirlwind of violence into the heart of Baghdad.

Oh, STFU too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The First Goal of Foreign Policy Should Be Peace

We have lived in security, across the oceans, and generally safe from foreign violence on our shore, for quite some time now (aside from 9-11). Considering the drubbing everyone else got in World War II, our States never really saw war (since Hawaii and Alaska were still territories). And our democracy and society has brought great wealth. So we have become very belligerent in recent years about trying to force our version of things down peoples throats, because deep down it is a pretty good basic system we had going (although things have been a bit broken down lately). So we forget that in most areas, some of which never really lived under democracy, and have been the worlds battlefields for hundreds of years, the people really just want a respite from violence. They want to live in peace.

We think of the first Iraq war as a spirited jaunt actoss the desert, an amazing tactical and strategic campaign. And it was, from our perspective. But to the people of Iraq, they took 100,000 casualties and had many critical pieces of infrastruture destroued. Then there was the Shia uprising, which we let Saddam crush (the Coalition, which included many Sunni leaders, weren't keen on lending a hand), and instability and war in the kurdish areas. Then crushing economic sanctions (with occasional surgical air strikes against military positions). Then another American invasion and a continuing occupation. Before all this was the Iran-Iraq war, a stupid futile and ugly thing that bled a generation out of each nation for 8 years. Iraq alone had 400,000 + casualties. So things haven't been too pretty there in the last 30 years or so.

Iraq and Iran aren't the only countries in the area that have a large number of veterans, of wars that didn't really go all that well either (which can leave some resentment in a nation). Turkey's been fighting an insurgency of their own for about 2o years. Lebanon? Hell, their last war was just a few months ago. There have been recent conflicts and strife in Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Gaza and the West Bank (Palestine?), Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, etc. All with wars. All with much destruction and loss of life. Some have even lived for years now with a steady drumbeat of war and death in their communities.

So maybe what they are really looking for is peace. Let's just get everybody some damn peace so we can all relax and catch our breath and just try to work things out, instead of shooting for "regime change," or to "shake up the status quo." We are a bunch of democratic revolutionaries with the most powerful army in the world. The last time the world really say that kind of aggression was the French Revolution, after it was seized by Napolean. An acquiescent Republican Congress combined with Bush's imperial presidency (hopefully ending soon), has led our young, idealistic democratic soldiers into the sands of Iraq. It's no Waterloo, but it's still stirring up a lot of ill will and leading people to fearfully unite against us and scramble for ways to defend themselves. They'd prefer we didn't roll in guns blazing and pushing liberty, democracy, whiskey and sexy.

Foreign Policy has many branches, there are always many options on how to finesse a situation. The key is you got to sell what's buying. You'd think an industrious nation like us should recognize this. And the people in the mid-east are ready to buy peace. All the leaders would like some peace, maybe some more trade, and a solution to Israel. Hell, the Saudis have a proposal on the table right now that the other countries are behind, but Israel is being to damned stiff-necked about things (and going off half-cocked like that in Lebanon didn't help much either). So we need to get serious about bringing Peace to the middle east, not more war. Not destabilization. We have created a violent monster in Iraq, in the heart of the middle east. That's not exactly what they were hoping the new century would bring them in the year 2000. And then the second intifada began in September of 2000 when Sharon visited the Temple Mount and everything started falling apart. And since Clinton left, we've only made things worse.

So we need to focus on peace. Forget any of the other goals in mind (democracy, oil security, the neocon desire to show a strong "will," etc.). Make Peace the number one priority, and put some muscle into it, damnit. If the Bush administration put as much effort and face time into this as he did to his ill-conceived social security plan or the atrocious Medicare bill, then something positive could actually happen (although we'll probably have to wait for a new president). Hell, Bush ran away from the whole Palestinian situation from day one, because they viewed it as unsolvable, and so didn't want to look ineffectual by getting involved (always putting spin and perception as #1).

We need to let everyone know that all we want is peace (John Lennon foreign policy, we'll brand it, get a good Beatles soundtrack. Now that's some image management). And mean it. And work for it like its the most important thing in the world. Every trip around the world for Bush is just a photo op with an occasional lecture on freedom. But he never really talks about working for peace.

We prepare for war, so that we may live in peace. But Bush prepared for war in Iraq, got inspectors in and could have secured peace, but choose war. We need to bring peace instead. If our home is attacked, we will respond, like in Afghanistan. But aside from responding to direct attacks, we will focus all our attention to championing peace, to find a way for people to just put their guns and bombs down. And if everyone can just have 10 or 15 years without all this bloodshed, the world will be a much better place. Let's keep the violence we face just from fanatical terrorists, and lets cut off the terrorist recruiting flows by preventing dead children in the streets (especially if killed by US weapons). And if we are living in peace, we can all work together to prevent and stamp out terrorism. Instead of picking fights, let's give the people what they want. The democracy, whiskey, and sexy will come. Just give it time. As Milton Friedman said, “The free market is the only mechanism that has ever been discovered for achieving participatory democracy."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


At least when you have a bunch of incompetent, unprincipled bunglers running the show they screw up in their personnal lives too, so we can at least take pleasure in their misfourtunes. They at least give us that.

There is Cheney shooting people in the face, Randy "the Duke-stir" Cunningham sobbing as led away to prison for corruption, Rick "Man-on-Dog" Santorum getting tagged with, well "santorum," Abramoff in looking both goofy and sinster in his fedora, and Mark "Caucus on Exploited Children" Foley chasing teen pages (and catching some after the big 18 too).

It leads to this natural conclusion, from America's Finest News Source:
Evangelical leader Ted Haggard, who stepped down last week after confessing that he purchased methamphetamines and various services from a male prostitute, revealed Wednesday that he was repeatedly molested by an unnamed Republican congressman in the late 1990s. "We would communicate on the Internet and then meet in his Washington office to, I thought, discuss faith-based initiatives," said Haggard in a tearful admission in which he asked for the forgiveness of God and his congregation. "Before long, he had progressed from praying alongside me to having me sit on his lap at his desk, and then to touching me in my bathing-suit area. I trusted the congressman, and he violated that trust." Authorities have not acted on Haggard's allegations, saying that Republicans are often accused of wrongdoings simply because so many of them lead secret gay or criminal lifestyles. (emphasis mine)
God Bless the Onion.

The Wild Tribal Areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan

I think there is a failure of many Americans to even conceptualize what type of dynamic we are dealing with in Afghanistan. The Arab jihadis are one thing, but the Pashtun fighters are an entirely different people. They are fighters and Islamic, yes. But they are not oil rich like the Arabs. They are not of the desert. They are mountain fighters. They have lived by the gun for a long time now. And they are not afraid of stiring up trouble in the neighborhood, before and after we showed up. Naturally, our President and press have never really tried to understand any of this, or the realities and motivations of life in the Hindu Kush.

Here's how a young Winston Churchill found the land in 1898 as a reporter covering the ends of the British Empire (compared with Bush, who never really left the country before becoming President and at the same phase in his life was just carousing in New Orleans with the 'Bama National Guard):

The inhabitants of these wild but wealthy valleys are of many tribes, but of similar character and condition. The abundant crops which a warm sun and copious rains raise from a fertile soil, support a numerous population in a state of warlike leisure. Except at the times of sowing and of harvest, a continual state of feud and strife prevails throughout the land. Tribe wars with tribe. The people of one valley fight with those of the next. To the quarrels of communities are added the combats of individuals. Khan assails khan, each supported by his retainers. Every tribesman has a blood feud with his neighbor. Every man's hand is against the other, and all against the stranger.

Nor are these struggles conducted with the weapons which usually belong to the races of such development. To the ferocity of the Zulu are added the craft of the Redskin and the marksmanship of the Boer. The world is presented with that grim spectacle, "the strength of civilisation without its mercy." At a thousand yards the traveller falls wounded by the well-aimed bullet of a breech-loading rifle. His assailant, approaching, hacks him to death with the ferocity of a South-Sea Islander. The weapons of the nineteenth century are in the hands of the savages of the Stone Age.

Every influence, every motive, that provokes the spirit of murder among men, impels these mountaineers to deeds of treachery and violence. The strong aboriginal propensity to kill, inherit in all human beings, has in these valleys been preserved in unexampled strength and vigour. That religion, which above all others was founded and propagated by the sword -- the tenets and principles of which are instinct with incentives to slaughter and which in three continents has produced fighting breeds of men -- stimulates a wild and merciless fanaticism. The love of plunder, always a characteristic of hill tribes, is fostered by the spectacle of opulence and luxury which, to their eyes, the cities and plains of the south display. A code of honour not less punctilious than that of old Spain, is supported by vendettas as implacable as those of Corsica.

In such a state of society, all property is held directly by main force. Every man is a soldier. Either he is the retainer of some khan -- the man-at-arms of some feudal baron as it were -- or he is a unit in the armed force of his village -- the burgher of mediaeval history.
The Story of the Malakand Field Force: An Episode of Frontier War, (Churchill's first book)

Basically, like the Hatfields and McCoys (and the revenuers). You know, Bush has a bust of Churchill in his office. It is apparent that his speechwriters certainly favor the man. But does he have any understanding of the things Churchill saw in his formative years as a young man? Has he read "An Episode of Frontier War?" Somehow I don't think that was on his reading list in his little contest this summer. Good to know he did "read" Camus, though.

Their views about violence and attacks (and compare it to the current empty pundits advocating the need for more "will")

This state of continual tumult has produced a habit of mind which [reckons] little of injuries, holds life cheap and embarks on war with careless levity, and the tribesmen of the Afghan border afford the spectacle of a people, who fight without passion, and kill one another without loss of temper. Such a disposition, combined with an absolute lack of reverence for all forms of law and authority, and a complete assurance of equality, is the cause of their frequent quarrels with the British power. A trifle rouses their animosity. They make a sudden attack on some frontier post. They are repulsed. From their point of view the incident is closed. There has been a fair fight in which they have had the worst fortune. What puzzles them is that "the Sirkar" should regard so small an affair in a serious light. Thus the Mohmands cross the frontier and the action of Shabkadr is fought. They are surprised and aggrieved that the Government are not content with the victory, but must needs invade their territories, and impose punishment. Or again, the Mamunds, because a village has been burnt, assail the camp of the Second Brigade by night. It is a drawn game. They are astounded that the troops do not take it in good part.

They, when they fight among themselves, bear little malice, and the combatants not infrequently make friends over the corpses of their comrades or suspend operations for a festival or a horse race. At the end of the contest cordial relations are at once re-established. And yet so full of contradictions is their character, that all this is without prejudice to what has been written of their family vendettas and private blood feuds. Their system of ethics, which regards treachery and violence as virtues rather than vices, has produced a code of honour so strange and inconsistent, that it is incomprehensible to a logical mind. I have been told that if a white man could grasp it fully, and were to understand their mental impulses -- if he knew, when it was their honour to stand by him, and when it was their honour to betray him; when they were bound to protect and when to kill him--he might, by judging his times and opportunities, pass safely from one end of the mountains to the other. But a civilised European is as little able to accomplish this, as to appreciate the feelings of those strange creatures, which, when a drop of water is examined under a microscope, are revealed amiably gobbling each other up, and being themselves complacently devoured.

You cannot out "will" these people. Your presence is an invatation to fight. They don't understand why America isn't playing along. If we could just have a good firefight, then perhaps a truce party (which we will all break later, but nothing says we can't have some fun now), everything would be better.

Even some of the religious issues were the same back then (as with some preachers today, no matter what God):

Their superstition exposes them to the rapacity and tyranny of a numerous priesthood -- "Mullahs," "Sahibzadas," "Akhundzadas," "Fakirs," -- and a host of wandering Talib-ul-ilms, who correspond with the theological students in Turkey, and live free at the expense of the people.

Now its the Saudis, and the Taliban, but the underlying culture is the same. Prophetically, Churchill imagines this scenario, of a local tribesman who once fought with the British as a young man, telling tales around the fire in his village:

He will speak of their careless bravery and their strange sports; of the far-reaching power of the Government, that never forgets to send his pension regularly as the months pass by; and he may even predict to the listening circle the day when their valleys will be involved in the comprehensive grasp of that great machine, and judges, collectors and commissioners shall ride to sessions at Ambeyla, or value the land tax on the soil of Nawagai. Then the Mullah will raise his voice and remind them of other days when the sons of the prophet drove the infidel from the plains of India, and ruled at Delhi, as wide an Empire as the Kafir holds to-day: when the true religion strode proudly through the earth and scorned to lie hidden and neglected among the hills: when mighty princes ruled in Bagdad, and all men knew that there was one God, and Mahomet was His prophet. And the young men hearing these things will grip their Martinis, and pray to Allah, that one day He will bring some Sahib -- best prize of all -- across their line of sight at seven hundred yards so that, at least, they may strike a blow for insulted and threatened Islam. …
Their allegedly sudden "radicalism" is nothing more than the same stories told since the fall of the Mughal empire. Except now they load clips of blowing things up on the Jihadi YouTube.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Iraqi Kidnapping as a Microcosm

The recent mass kidnapping in Baghdad shows what Iraq has become. This is the fruit of our effforts. Sure, most of the people were released or freed in raids the next day. But what of those who weren't? This is the new society we have built in Iraq. And it is a terrible place to live. You can't spin around the violence, anarch, reduction in the delivery of water and electricity, and general shititude. The administration likes to talk about some democratic example. But after branding the former professionals criminals and driving them into the insurgency, we've helped create a society focused more on vendetta and the spoils of power.

The breakdown of the whole mess from John Cole:

To recap, 80 gunmen walked into the Higher Education Ministry in broad daylight and rounded up between 30 and 150 Sunni men while the police stood by and watched. The regional chief of police and a chief deputy have apparently gone fugitive since the authorities didn’t simply arrest him in his office. Add this to your mental ledger regarding Iraq – entire districts are governed by security forces who have wholly gone over to the bloody sectarian conflict. How many Iraqi brigades do we have trained right now? How many police? Subtract the number who exist merely to kill their own countrymen and you have a force that might, on a good day, secure Liechtenstein.

Attack Dogs Against Diplomacy

The recent GOP thought process applies the same logic to politics as diplomacy. Always attack and demonize, never try to compromise. Always pretend you are in position of strength (since perception is all that matters), and refuse to give ground or negotiate with those who have different views. Only talk to those who agree with you. After all, in the House of Representative,s the GOP would only bring bills to the floor if the majority of the GOP agreed with it. Who cares what the rest of the country (or world) thinks?

They exclude all opposing views, and label their very existence as evil. They live within an echo chamber, where every action is glorious and only some evil/liberal media prevents others from seeing this. This creates an utter fear of negotiation or compromise.

While Regan called the Soviet Union the evil empire, he also attended summits all the time to intimately discuss issues with the leader of this evil empire. Nixon visited Communist China just after the conclusion of the Great Leap Forward killed millions. It seems that today's pundits forget all of this and simply adopt the Bush black and white of "you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."

A good example is a recent Instapundit post. When told the Baker commission encourages, you know, traditional diplomacy (as opposed to cowboy style regime change), he gulps "uh oh." He later notes:
John Hinderaker is very unhappy with this talk. He also thinks that any expectation of a deal with the Iranians is "delusional."

I'll just note that the last time folks in the White House tried to cut a deal with the Iranians, Don Regan characterized it this way: "We got snookered by a bunch of rug merchants."

Ooh, can't trust those wily Persians! Throughout all this hand-wringing, there's a failure to understand we are a far greater threat to Iran than they are to us. We occupy countries on two of their borders. Our ships ply their waters (and we could blockade them just as well as they could blockade the gulf). We have thousands of nuclear weapons, tell them our only diplomatic goal as to their government is "regime change," and call them part of the "Axis of Evil."

If we had a President with some balls who really wanted to change things (as just creating terrorists and bungling occupations), then he would fly to Tehran, admit to our past sins (overthrowing their prime minister in the 50s, installing the shah, selling arms to Saddam while he was gassing Iranians), and make a plea for respect and peace, I think we would get much farther in the world. As for Syria, if we force Israel and Palestine to take some action (we control a lot of money flows to both) and help them get Golan back, things would ease up as well.

But the Republicans would rather demonize and send out hostility, fear, and militarism.

*Sigh* I shouldn't have to say this, since it goes without question. But we would have to get Iran to grow up accept Israel's right to exist (out of the West Bank and Gaza, natch). And we would keep a wary eye on the Iranians and let them know that an attack on us is an act of war. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to live in peace.

Global Solution - Peace in Afghanistan Runs Through India

The War on Terror Part one: The key to cutting off support for the Taliban

The US has ignored the UN and the international community since getting the resolution in 2002 to put inspectors back into Iraq, in the lead up to America's new quagmire.
This is a global problem. We are in a global struggle. We need the cooperation and assistance of the world to win on a global scale, just like in WW II and during the Cold War. And we need a global solution.

This is includes significant action on the four main drivers of conflict across the middle east: Israel, Iraq, the Pashtun areas of Southern Afghanistan and the Tribal areas of Pakistan, and Kashmir. The Israel and Iraq problems need to be addressed by all their neighbors (including Syria and Iran). But Pakistan is the key to the other two. First and foremost, there must be true peace in Kashmir and between the countries that were once brothers, Pakistan and India.

Let me explain. The two have fought three major wars since the British Raj on the subcontinent split in two. They are both nuclear powers. They have almost gone to war several times in the last 1o years. And while Pakistan turns a blind eye to militant infiltration into Kashmiri India, Pakistan has basically lost all three of the major conventional wars. So once the US sort of abandoned the Pakistani government after the Soviets left Afghanistan in the 80s and began making nice with India, they planned for the worst. The Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI, began to support a group called the Taliban. If India invaded Pakistan and took the capital (located very close to the Indian border), the Pakistani military could fall back into the mountains of the tribal areas and into Afghanistan, with their allies, the Taliban. Since India is majority Hindu, Pakistan supported a very religious sect so they could count on a jihadi sentiment (like we are experiencing in Iraq) to help them resist the outsiders. After the US gave an ultimatum after 9-11, Pakistan has mad some effort to change, but 20 years of investment in the Taliban creates a very close bond between many in the ISI, Pakistani religious parties, and the Taliban. So we must bring a true and lasting peace to the Eastern Indian border to change the dynamic on the Afghani Western border.

This will not be easy. But we must break the log-jam that is stifling the relationship between India and Pakistan. We must find a way to neutralize their stiff-necked pride and bitter, recent past. And once this sort of existential threat is lifted from the East, support for the Taliban from inside the Pakistani government will plumet. It will lose any strategic value, and will instead become a source of trouble. There will be no more strong Pakistani ISI and military support

We must neutralize this threat to stability, and prevent a resurgence of violence and strife in Afghanistan. But we cannot declare war on Pakistan, and the pride of the people in that region would never stand American invasion. We must show Pakistanis, Pushtuns, and Afghanis that America wants peace for the region, not war. But this requires action on the periphery as well in the center.

As Winston Churchill said, "it is better to jaw-jaw than to war-war." We cannot pretend we can bomb everyone in that part of the world away, since right now, the madrases are a veritable factory of Taliban production. The Pashtun tribesman on both sides of the border are bound by language, pride, and blood, and years of constant warfare and resistance from outsiders. They have lived through decades of conflict and war, first funded by Americans against the Soviets, then by the Pakistani ISI, which led to Taliban control of Afghanistan. And the motives and perceived needs of Pakistan that led to this alliance still exist. The instability in Kashmir. It is the key to the region.

This covers Kashmir and some of Afghanistan. I will discuss the rest of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Israel in future posts in the "Global Solution" series.

Update, 11-14-06:

The New York times just published a story about the recent rash of suicide bombers infiltrating into Afghanistan. It notes:

The would-be suicide bombers arrested recently, the Afghan intelligence official
said, emerge from two clear strands.
Some are linked to extremist groups that have long been set up and run by Pakistani intelligence as an arm of foreign policy toward rival governments in Afghanistan and India. They are technically illegal and the government now says it has cracked down on them.
Others are allied with Afghan groups like the Taliban and the renegade
militia commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, also a longtime protégé of Pakistani
intelligence, who has now allied himself with the Taliban, Afghan and NATO
officials say.

There are too many in Pakistan right now that either view the Taliban as either heroes or strategic assets. We have to change the dynamic in the region so that they are viewed as counter-productive and troublesome. The first step is to defuse the problem with India. Only then can the Pakistani government begin to take on the Madraseshat lionize the Taliban.

Update II:

For a smash up gathering of information on the tribal borderlands of Pakistan, go to this Frontline site. Movie clips, interviews, background stories and more. Only go if you want to know what we are fighting in southern Afghanistan though. And if you don't hate the troops. You don't hate the troops, do you?

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Simpson Factor: As goes Springfield, goes America

The last two Simpsons have both critiqued the Iraq war. The first in the Halloween special, with Kang and Kodos stuck in "Operation Enduring Occupation," complaining about how they were not greeted as liberators (well, one complained, the other insisted that the invasion was necessary because of the weapons of mass disintegration the earthlings were building). This was just a quick gag, though.

The Simpsons with Homer in the Army was a far more brutal critique. It stated at the the end that a determined local populace will always be able to defeat an occupying army. Essentially, that we will be unable to impose our will on the local populace in Iraq. Which is about right, especially when we've let Iraq boil over into anarchy and a low-grade civil war over the last two years.

It may mean nothing. But maybe our President watches the Simpsons, and is mulling over the lessons of last Sunday. Is Homer Simpson the Walter Cronkite of our generation?

No. But hell, the whole Fox animated line-up has been ragging on the war lately. The atmosphere of relentless cheerleading for the war and assertions that any realistic assessment of our progress only helps the insurgents has evaporated, suddenly replaced with a general consensus that we are in a quagmire and things aint good. Hopefully, we can stop digging that hole, now.

Why Does Bush Lie? Becuase it is Convenient.

A huge problem with our Washington press corps? There are too concerned with the 'winger accusation of "liberal bias" to do their job, so they hide behind their stenography reporting. They won't call a Republican out, and will report spin as worthy and meaningful statements.

George Bush on why he lied to the country about Rumsfeld's tenure as Secretary of Defense before the election.
The only way to answer that question, and get it on to another question, was to
give you that answer.

In essence? I had to feed you something to get you to shut up. So I gave you a lie. It worked. My image as a strong and resolute decider remained.

This pretty clearly implies that he's used this tactic before and he will use it again. He wasn't even sheepish about being exposed as an empty political liar. Just a bit of a nod and a wink, since the press corps knows he lies all the time, but they are afraid to say so to America. So Bush even openly admits that he is a liar, because he knows it won't be reported. To report that simple truth would be unpardonable liberal bias, after all.

Sure enough, on Meet the Press, David Gregory (who actually can ask some pretty probing questions in a press conference), proves that in front of the public eye the Washington press can't admit to basic facts about the President:

MR. GREGORY: Right, well, he deliberately misled those reporters, and he said he
did it because he didn’t want to inject politics in the campaign. You have to
wonder why–how he could–was there a way to, to get around that question in some
fashion so he didn’t have to give that ammunition to people who thought the
policy was a failure. And that’s what he did right at the end.
MR. RUSSERT: Does that hurt his credibility with you and the press
MR. GREGORY: Well, I–look, you know, you like to get a straight answer
out of the president. He laid out his case for, for why he did it, and there’s
no question that would’ve injected politics. So I think people see it different

Translation: I wish he wouldn't lie, but some people say the lie was OK, so who am I to question the credibility of a liar? That would be partisan.

It is unfathomable why he didn't answer that question like a normal human being. That answer should have gone "Absolutely, Tim. The President admitted lying to our face for partisan political reasons, and without shame. Whenever he opens his mouth, how do we know he isn't playing the same game? He is clearly willing to lie to the American Public about our military situation, and frankly has lost credibility on that count." Is that a radical response? No. It is the response of a normal human being when he finds out someone lied to his face. A person loses credibility when they are caught in a lie. That's kina of how credibility works, you know?

Different people see it like this: normal people see what happened as brazen, bald-faced lying. Bush partisans think Bush should do whatever Bush feels is best, and if Bush felt it to be the right choice, then it was. So by the act of Bush choosing to lie, it is justifed. They will even applaud Bush for admitting it (Good for Bush for fooling those pesky reporters!). But unprincipled 'wingers schooled in newspeak should not control the definition of what is acceptable.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

What To Do About Iraq to Find a Worldwide Solution

Change is afoot in Iraq. But change in Iraq has been for the worse for quite some time. So it's time to understand that we cannot shift our policy, strategy, or troop levels and expect to erase the effects of the last three years. There is nothing we can do to change the fact that we are trapped in a low-grade civil war between many competing factions. To find a solution to our quagmire, we need to expand our horizon of possibilities. It's time admit to the world we've screwed up, we need some help, and we're willing to cede control to the world if its ready for that burden.

There was an idea infecting Washington at the end of the 90s of "We have this military so we might as well use it." Bush took this policy and ran with it, but running too far is one of the dangers inherent in such a reckless philosophy. We should always try to debate things in the arena of world opinion, and if we can't win that debate and there's no actual attack or actionable intelligence, we should simply remain vigilant and ready, like in the Cold War.

Lest we forget our history, The UN did authorize a rigorous inspection program, and Saddam let them in. An inspection team came in, and it made a report to the General Assembly only half-way through its search for WMDs (which we know now didn't exist). When they didn't find anything upon making a status report to the UN, Bush threw the inspectors out and invaded. He didn't adapt his belligerent policy to reality, and let his dogma rule his actions. Because in the minds of the Bush admin., resolve is all important, and never back down. So if you have started massing troops on the border, why not use it? That might a good surprise battle plan. But it is an utter failure politically. Invading before the search is done, against a crippled military we toppled in a few weeks? It didn't look good to the rest of the world, and it's all kind of gone downhill, with increasing anarchic violence and a decreasing Coalition of the Willing.

It's now a low grade civil war with us caught in the middle trying to keep the peace, but there is a substantial fraction of the various violent factions that view us as target number one. It creates a cloud of violence that hovers around our troops, and once the explosions start going off, neutrals get caught in the middle and bodies start to pile up. We're both targets and hunters, so we both inflict and invite violence. We do stop the local sects and militias from going at each other's throats 100% (we keep them down to about 25%, just assassinations, kidnapping, car-bombs, and the occasional ethnic cleansing bus hijacking). So that's what we're doing right now, the status quo we're defending. Here's what it looks like:

As a first step, we should scale back a heavy presence in the middle of urban areas. I think we can prevent the formation of armies or large mobs from mounting significant offensives, but from a more protected and remote position. That way, there will be less attacks on our forces (although I would expect it to increase some against our supply convoys), and less random violence against the civilians and kids. But that first step isn't enough for peace. And that is our goal. Peace. That's what winning is. And Bush doesn't seem to understand that.

We need to announce that we are open to a status quo change big time. And that means saying sorry to the world for kinda goin' off half-cocked into Iraq. We tell them we are going to establish a timetable for departure, but we're ready to commit to a totally different type of military presence in Iraq if the rest of the world is behind us. And we are willing to talk to the world and debate around the world how to handle this. And we're even willing to let another nation take the lead of any military force (subject to our veto, natch). Because leaving Anarchy in the midst of a bloody civil war and terrorist fanatics in the heart of the middle east would be a tragedy for the world.

Our last civil war? 141 years ago, and fought over slavery. There's been a hell of a lot of ugly civil wars around the globe over the last 50 years. We should ask around and see if anyone's got any good ideas on how to go forward. We understand economic based ideological civil wars a bit (like in Vietnam), but don't really get the nationalistic aspect much (also Vietnam). So let's ask around, and have some honest conversations about how to make peace and what the rest of the world is willing to do.

Right now, it's America, the local Iraqis, and the terrorists. But if it was the World instead of just America (and a few others), it could totally change the dynamic. We need to lay it on the shoulders of the world as well, so at the very least, if the world decides to let it all go to hell, we'll at least know where everything stands on the international level when we ask the world to deal with a problem collectively. We should offer to bear much of the burden and lend the firepower of our armed forces, but be open to whatever the world-wide debate produces. But we must put some real pressure on the world to find an answer to this question together.

But how often do we really put on the pressure in the UN? We put on some pressure in the run up to the Iraq war, but the UN needs general peace and stability to operate. Unless specifically authorized to use force, like in Korea, it can't operate in the violent anarchy of Iraq at the moment. We put on the pressure and got a serious resolution before the war. Let's get one to end the war too.

We'll establish a timetable to move completely to the periphery of Iraq (Murtha style re-deployment) in one year. But we will also announce our determination to ask all mankind to find a solution to this devilry. This will include a world-wide diplomatic tour for an honest conversation on the whole state of affairs in the Middle East and how to make it right: Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Iran's nuclear program, Hezbollah and Lebanon, the Golan heights and Syria: everything. Our executive leadership (President, VP, Secretaries of State, Defense) and our Senators will barnstorm the globe. Local Iraqis of all stripes will be invited to go travel for a solution as well, and the U.S. will pick up the tab. We will hold regional summits. And at the end of it all, with about four months left on our timetable, we'll take it to the UN for another month of debate. We will open the floor for a free-wheeling debate in the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council. Then we'll vote. And if one vote doesn't work, we'll make changes and vote again. And we'll vote on an official General Assembly recommendation, and then we'll have a vote in the Security Council. And I'll be damned if I know where we will be standing when the dust clears, but it can't be uglier than what we're looking at now.

I won't be naive. I won't expect this year-long bout of worldwide diplomacy to solve all our problems. But it might stop this downward spiral we're in of violence, threats, and suspicions. Let's pull away from this all-consuming fear-mongering and ascribing the fanaticism of Al-Queda to traditional Heads of State, and try to inject some rational cooperation on shared interests. It will be a noble and honest effort, unprecedented in the history of human conflict, and it might be crazy enough to work.

If it doesn't and things have deteriorated in the meantime...well, our I'll folks will be working on plan B. And we'll see what the Iraqi people and government think about things at the time. But I don't see how it could be a worse situation than our current trajectory.

The Empty Rhetoric of the Pundit Class

It is fair to say that the punditry class and journalism in general has failed America. At the dawn of the new century, we face a myriad of daunting problems and complexities, but the our press does not want to help the people deal with these issues. They want to obscure the consequences of policy and turn everything into a contest, a horse-race. They do this through dis-information and stenography reporting.

A great example of this is Greenwald's recent post on the media treatment of Feingold. He notes
...when Feingold stood up and advocated censure -- based on the truly radical and crazy, far leftist premise that when the President is caught red-handed breaking the law, the Congress should actually do something about that -- the soul-less, oh-so-sophisticated Beltway geniuses could not even contemplate the possibility that he was doing that because he believed what he was saying. Beltway pundits and the leaders of the Beltway political and consulting classes all, in unison, immediately began casting aspersions on Feingold's motives and laughed away -- really never considered -- the idea that he was motivated by actual belief, let alone the merits of his proposal.
They felt it reflected his desire to run for president. That's all they seem to care about: elections. Not who gets elected, but how. Dirty tricks? Exciting! Lying about their opponent? Just part of the game. However, it seems impolite to bring up the substance of someone's policies. For example, I never heard it mentioned by the MSM that Bush radically lightened the tax load and ran up massive deficits, a grave threat to the country, and only the democrats offered to right this problem. Instead, they wanted to talk about a Kerry joke, or how the latest dirty trick du jour showed how tough the Republicans were, how admirable it is that they are so committed to winning. Victory above all (if its Republican).

When the President was caught breaking the law, they decided this was good for him, because he was strong in national security. Nothing about how it violates the 4th amendment to the Bill of Rights. You know, our Constitution. They would let partisans (as in those with an articulated agenda) bring it up, like Feingold. But they would only do it stenographically, and would always post such a comment next to a Republican hack saying there is nothing wrong with this, and you can't enjoy your rights under the Constitution after a scary terrorists kills you and your whole family. Instead of clearly identifying the issue (President determined to violate the Constitution and your rights), the press would just shrug it off as a political dispute with two sides and no answer. They would then cite some polls and note since this was about national security, it helps the GOP and Republicans will use this to attack Democrats as weak, and they will win the election.

The stenography of two positions as equal combined with a horse-race mentality, trumpeting electoral tactics over policy substance, is corrosive to our democracy. When people lie to the press, the press needs to either not print it, or call the liar out. Editors get paid to make these judgment calls. If they could call Clinton a liar, they should be able to call anyone else a liar too. When Bush was on the trail demonizing the Democratic Party, the lead line before any of his quotes should have been "grossly mischaracterizing and at time outright lying about the Democratic position, the President said X before a partisan audience. The carefully screened audience, whom the President forced to take loyalty pledges, cheered on these distortions. The actual position of the candidate Bush disparaged is Y." There are plenty of smart, honest experts out there who don't have a dog in certain political fights. Get their opinion on paper about what it all means. But the press needs to quit going to the well of empty partisanship to pad their reporting.

A national election will roll around every two years. Focus on policy proposals combined with the facts on the ground, and how the two could interact. Honest reporting will create its own dynamic of a more informed electorate that votes based on policy and ideas, not campaign tactics. In the last Presidential election, the press devoted more stories to the meta aspects of the campaign (election strategy) than to actual policy. False narratives were peddled with a straight face (Karl Rove said it, so it must be true!). The pundits only amplified those types of empty discussions.

There should be a real story on the Feingold attempt to censure the President. It should truly examine all the actions taken by the President inconsistent with the Constitution. It should talk about how Republican corruption and acquiescence in the House and Senate helped abet these failures. It should talk about how our forefathers fought and died to prevent these various abuses, like arbitrary and indefinite detentions, torture, and suspension of habeas Corpus. Then, it can talk about the current levels of support in the Senate for such a motion. But no meta talk about this potentially affecting elections, or that national security is a GOP strong spot without any evidence of GOP competence in the field. Reporting the facts in their proper historical context creates changes of opinion. That's what is supposed to happen when new information comes to light. The current punditry merely seeks to perpetuate tired political stereotypes, regardless of the changing reality.

GOP Pundits: Trying to make Iraq like the American Civil War

I was perusing right blogistan, and found this highly recommended article in the Weekly Standard from the ole perfesser on what to do in Iraq (he actually liked it so much he recomended it twice). It says, in part:
A seemingly quick and easy military victory has turned sour. The costs, in blood and treasure, have escalated. Victory looks uncertain and distant. It seems the time has come, if not to cut and run, then surely to cut our losses. If ever the principle of sunk cost applied to warfare, it would seem to apply here.

But that instinct is wrong. Warfare is not like investment banking. At precisely the moment an economist might say to stop throwing good money after bad, a wise military strategist might say to double the bet.

Why might that be so? For one thing, willingness to raise the stakes often wins the game. Why do insurgent gangs, who have vastly smaller resources and manpower than the American soldiers they fight, continue to try to kill those soldiers? The answer is, because they believe they only have to kill a few more, and the soldiers will leave. They need not inflict a military defeat (which would be impossible, given the strength of the American military)--all they need to do is survive until American voters decide to throw in the towel, which might happen at any moment.

The proper response to that calculation is to make emphatically clear that the fight will not end until one side or the other wins, decisively. That kind of battle can only have one ending, as Abraham Lincoln understood. In a speech delivered a month after his reelection, Lincoln carefully surveyed the North's resources and manpower and concluded that the nation's wealth was "unexhausted and, as we believe, inexhaustible." Southern soldiers be gan to desert in droves. Through the long, bloody summer and fall of 1864, the South had hung on only because of the belief that the North might tire of the conflict. But Lincoln did not tire. Instead, he doubled the bet--and won the war.

First of all, this is ridiculous. How exactly is our fight in Iraq like the Civil War? Where is the Confederate Army? What provinces does this army hold? What is the analog for IEDs?

We are fighting an insurgency, made up of both locals and jihadists. We can add another 150,000 troops (that we don't have) and neither of these two will stop fighting. The locals who resent us aren't going anywhere. They live there. And the jihadists think it is a divine duty to fight against foreigners. They will continue to flock to Iraq as long as we are there. They will fight us if we are there. Period. Maybe they think if they kill a few more people, we will leave. But even if they don't, they would continue to fight.

The Union won the Civil War through a long, bloody slog. It gradually destroyed the South's armies and conquered its territory, first by taking the Mississippi river, then with Sherman marching to Atlanta. They took Richmond in the last days of the war, and an outmanueverd Lee, trapped between Grant's army from the North and Sherman's from the South, surrendered. When conventional combat ended, so did the war.

We beat the conventional Iraqi army in a few weeks. Resenting our occupation, the sunnis started an insurgency. Then Al-Queda type jihadists moved in. They are our counterpart. The yin to our yang. They will remain as long as we do, no matter how many people we add. Our very presence creates a destabalizing dynamic, since our presence draws conflict from both the nationalists in Iraq who resent our presence (mainly Sunni, but some Shiite like Al-Sadr) and the foreign Arabs who come only to fight the US. We cannot provide stability the way we do in Kosovo or the Balkans, becuase there are too many who are comitted explictly to attacking American troops through snipers, IEDs, RPG attacks, and the like. People who think they will become martyrs for Allah are not disuaded when you promise to double your resources.

The failure to grasp this basic issue on the part of many conservative commentators is staggering. They still believe that willpower is the most important tool in winning a battle. That if we clap our hands enough and believe, it will all work out. Do they honestly believe that if the US poured more troops into Iraq, the guerillas would say "gee, looks like they are serious. I guess I will lay down my arms?" It shows a fundamental failure to even understand our enemy and their motivations. It violates some of the oldest dictates of warfare: to know thine enemey.
Later on in the article, the author notes:
Iraq is not an unwinnable war: Rather, as the data just cited show, it is a war we have chosen not to win. And the difference between success and failure is not 300,000 more soldiers, as some would have it. One-tenth that number would make a large difference, and has done so in the past. One-sixth would likely prove decisive.
This shows the conventional warfare mindset of the author. What is winning? How will these troops create a "win?" There is no army facing off against the Iraqi government. There are just gurellias fighting a US occupation, terrorists bent on havoc, and competing sectarian death squads. More troops doesn't change any of these. It might lower the amount of death squad violence, since we'd have more eyes to police the area. But it would just create more targets for those who wish to attack US forces. They attack American troops to satisfy their manhood, to stand up to the perceived oppressor. We can't conventionally win against that kind of mindset. Al-Queda is there to kill Ameicans, no more, no less. More troops = more targets.

These morons want us to play right into the hands of our enemies. They want us to waste our resources in Iraq like the Russians did in Afghanistan. We already won the conventional war. It is up to the Iraqis to win the peace. And they can't do it while we are there. Our presence distorts the entire process. Less is more (less troops, a less visible presence, and less of a target) in Iraq. We are the outsider. Once we are out of the picture, the Al-Queda types will become the hated outsider, and they will be dealt with by the Iraqis at that time.

Our Culture is Our Best Weapon in the War on Terror

Ideas are like viruses, spread through speech and writing. The ideas of John Locke about the rights of man spread to American and created a revolution. A strain of these ideas traveled back to Europe and, with some mutations, created the French Revolution. And these ideas have been travelling around the globe ever since; sometimes supported and sometimes supressed. The same can be said of the ideas espoused in the Communist Manifesto by Engels and Marx.

The principle works the same with Al-Queda and its doctrine of a unified, theocratic Islamic block, of the wahabbist umma that Bin Laden seeks. It is an idea, and the 9/11 attacks and subsequent American Global War on Terror have put these ideas on the map. Like it or not, the concept is acknowledged, discussed, and debated. However, while it is rejected by the majority of Muslims, Al-Queda and its oppenents still enjoy bringing it up. Al-Queda, because that is their goal, and elected western leaders (especially the Bush administration) because they use the idea of the umma as a convenient bogeyman. They argue if we leave in Iraq, Al-Queda will take over and then conquer all of Arabia. Of course, the people of the middle east reject the idea of an Al-Queda style umma just as they reject American occupation and military presence, so the argument is just disingenuous.

Because there is a broad rejection of an American military presence to transform the Middle East by the Arabs themselves, then how can the area be changed? The status quo of petty tyrants and schlerotic socialist economies cannot continue forever. But in this age of internet connectivity, the best weapon for change (albeit of a more gradual scale) is our culture itself. Our ideas. Our political system itself. Because these ideas cannot be supressed, and we must try our best to infect the middle east with these principles. When people are marching in the streets to demand fundamental civil rights as often as they protest Israel or America, we will begin to win this conflict.

As an example of this idea based (as opposed to weapons based power), take a look at this recent Washington Post article. A key paragraph that struck me says:

When he was a college student in Washington state, Saudi Arabia's most popular blogger, Fouad al-Farhan, donned a T-shirt emblazoned with "Animal Rights Equals Human Rights" and slept on the campus lawn during a hunger strike protesting the slaughter of foxes.

That type of freedom during six years in the United States gave Farhan a taste for expressing himself that he was unable to satisfy when he returned to Saudi Arabia in 2001.

You can't write whatever you want in the newspaper here; you can't even lift up a poster in protest," said Farhan, 31, a computer programmer who attended Eastern Washington University in Spokane.
We must give these people more tastes of freedom. We must infect them with ideas of democracy and liberty. We need to expose them to authentic North American culture (Canada is OK too, but I fear there is too much latent racism in Europe for a meaningful and free exchange at the moment), so they can expose their fellow citizens to our ideals. It can't just be through the internet and television. That creates a bit of a warped view of things (many misguided Arab men think that Western women all act like porn stars, for example). We need to open up more cultural centers in their countries, more libraries, more books, more freedom, so they can understand our ideals firsthand.

I believe they do respect our freedoms, and want to enjoy them as well. Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy, and all the rest of it. But they hate our militaristic foreign policy. We need to make sure they don't see dead Arab children on the nightly news. And we need to live up to our own ideals. Terror is a tactic. The theocratic rule of a Taliban style government is an idea, just like communism, and just like democracy and civil liberties. We have to fight ideas with superior ideas. You cannot bomb an idea away. You must show it to be bankrupt and empty. We did that with communism by standing firm and continuing to assert the ideals of liberty. If physically attacked, of course we must defend ourselves. It was right to oust the Taliban just as it was right to crush the Nazis. However, while we defeated Hitler with our military, we defeated the ideals of Nazism by exposing the Nazis' depravity in the holocaust and their war crimes at Nurenburg.

The most important tool in this long struggle is our ideals. We must change the thought of the next generation in the middle east, and must work to infect this generation with our ideas as well. And we must stay true to our ideals as well, so we do not become monsters who abrogate civil liberties, who tortue, who indefinitely imprison. This is how you win a war on terror. A war on an idea. By spreading your own values and holding firm to them.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Corruption in emerging democracies

A afghan poll just came out saying they feel things look good for democracy, but worry about corruption. That's not surprising, since politics is in essence a spoils system. Corruption will always occur. The question is, how to stem its pernicious influences and make corrections to the system.

The goal in our support for new democracies should be to create competing power centers that use information, not violence to change things. If there is something that isn't working, or corruption in the system, the proper way to halt things is not violent change, but clear exposure of the corruption. Sunshine is the best disenfectant. A government needs to seperate some powers, both for the standard separation of powers arguments (that factions can be dangerious and self-interesed, sometimes fanatically so), but for reasons of embarassment. Part of the Bush era problem was that Republicans marached in lockstep demonizing their opponents while refusing to ever say anything wrong about their fellows. In an open, established society like ours, the First Amendment and the internet at least lets damning information out. The new democracies need idependent power systems within the state that can audit the government and bring information out for the public, to help expose individuals natural proclivity for corruption and abuse of power to check the excesses that will spring up.

While the GOP here called those who questioned them terrorist lovers and the like, at least there were no death squads. This is not the case in many fragile democracies. So those in power must be exposed witout fear of reprisal. The US should support (and physically protect) this "audit" branch of government, which would be armed with certain investigative powers. However, the "audit branch" will have no power but that of investigation. The results cannot be used to force a change directly. The information will be gathered, a report issued to the federal and state/province governments, and also to the public. Then it will be up to the citizenry and competing factions to use this information to create change, through protest, elections, etc.

Frankly, the US must essentially commit itself to protection of the fourth estate in Iraq and Afghanistan. If there was an investigative group empowered to ask questions, get answers, examine documents, and report on the state of affairs without fear, an informed and enlightened populace could be created, one that both understands and has a stake in civil society.

If such a system has some effect in cleaning up corruption, faith in deomcracy will grow.
The enemy of a democratic government by the people is secrecy within the halls of government itself. If those in office can hide their dealings, they cannot be called to acccount. For what is in the shadows, but darkness?