Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Blockade and the Prisoner Swap

I have been wondering for the last few hours why Israel is keeping up the Naval blockade of Lebanon. Carol Herman in the comments to Lebanon's Cash Flow Problems points out that the goods bound for Lebanon are going through the Syrian port of Tripoli and then into Lebanon. Meaning that the graft is going to Syria not Lebanon. Why would that be in Israel's interest?

And then I read this bit of news:

Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said Thursday that a prisoner swap with Israel was being considered by his government but "nothing has materialized."

Fuad Saniora said Lebanon was "continuing the contacts" with Israel about a possible swap in which two Israeli soldiers would be released in exchange for all Lebanese detainees in Israeli prisons.
So maybe this is Israel's way of putting a lot of pressure on the Lebanese Government which is controlled by the March 14th Movement which is opposed to Syria and Hizballah. If Israel can get this done in the next month or two it will be a severe blow to the prestiege of Hizballah. Of course he is not going to get all the Lebanese prisoners (all four of them). One fellow (Samir Kuntar) who smashed the skull of a four year old with the butt of a rifle after making her watch her father being shot to death is definitely not going back. However, consider this as Saniora's opening bid. He will settle for less.
Saniora said Lebanon was interested in seeing the return of all detainees, "in other words the abducted soldiers as well as the Lebanese detainees that have been in Israeli prisons for over 28 years."

"I hope the Israeli government will respond to the call of reason so that we can finish with this and everybody will return to his home," he said.
Its the blockade. Lebanon survived for 20 years with others in control of south Lebanon. So it is unlikely that the Israeli troops there are a problem.
Israeli military officials have said Israel is holding 13 Hizbullah prisoners and the bodies of dozens of guerrillas that it could swap for the two captive soldiers.

Earlier, a senior Israeli political official said that Israel would agree to conduct negotiations over the release of the soldiers kidnapped by Hizbullah, if they were handed over to the Lebanese government.

The official told Army Radio that if the talks are conducted with the Beirut leadership the move will not be perceived as a reward for Hizbullah.
The reward for Hizballah? Forcing Israel into direct indirect negotiations. i.e. you have to deal with us on our terms but only through third parties because we do not recognize your right to exist.
The proposal will be submitted to Nasralla's associates and the Lebanese government via UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Veteran civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson who are visiting the region.

Jackson reiterated his claim on Thursday that the three kidnapped soldiers, captured by Hizbullah and Hamas, were alive.
Kofi and Jesse. What a pair. My guess is that they are doing their usual. When the Arabs need to publicly accept some political or war time defeat they call Jesse to do the job. I think this news increases the probability of the soldiers return.

Update: 01 Sept '06 0655z

Free Samir Kuntar? - The Arab prisoner that Hizballah wants Israel to release in exchange for two abducted Israeli soldiers, is serving multiple life sentences for killing a four-year-old girl with a rifle butt.

Samir Kuntar is one of only two or three Lebanese prisoners still held by Israel, and Hizballah said its July 12 assault is aimed at winning his freedom.
The mother of Einat and Yael speaks:
As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl's skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her.
I do not think Samir will be part of any exchange until he dies. Maybe not even then.

Update: 01 Sept '06 1031z

Corrected text so the stories of murder by Samir agree.

Update: 01 Sept '06 1427z

Captain's Quarter's discusses Assad's promise not to re-arm Hizballah.

Lebanon's Cash Flow Problems

Beirut to the Beltway is discussing the Lebanese economy post war. Before the war an economic plan was presented by Prime Minister Siniora which was vigorously resisted by Hizballah and its allies in the government.

One of the main proposals fought by Hizbullah and co concerned public sector workers. The finance minister at the time proposed then quickly withdrew an idea aimed at reducing public expenditures by hiring public sector employees on a contractual basis. Hizbullah and Aoun both strongly opposed this idea, and threatened "street revolutions."

Well, fast forward to the present. The Daily Star is now reporting that the finance ministry has "enough cash to cover salaries of public sector staff for a few more weeks, adding the ministry has spent $1.5 billion since war broke out."
So what are the odds that these fixed expense government workers are supporters of the Hizballah faction of government?
The Central Bank has reportedly intervened with $2.5 billion dollars (at least 2% of total deposits) to stabilize the pound, and the ongoing blockade is costing the treasury hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenues from VAT and customs duties,usually collected at the Beirut port. (According to the finance minister Jihad Anzour, the 34-day war caused more than $3.6 billion in material damage and another $3 billion in indirect losses, especially in the tourism sector.)
B2Bw (Beirut to the Beltway) then quotes frm a Reuters report.
Thousands of shipping containers filled with vital imports have been turned away from Beirut Port by the Israeli blockade, causing commercial cargo bound for Lebanon to flow through Syrian ports. Containers destined for Lebanon have started arriving over the last few weeks at the Syrian ports of Latakia and Tartous, where they are being loaded onto trucks and moved to Lebanon on roads bombed by Israel in the recent war, port officials told Reuters.
This total blockade is designed to prevent arms smuggling and encourage the UN to get its forces deployed as soon as possible.

Then B2Bw delivers some more really bad news for the Lebanese economy.
The industrial, tourism and hospitality sectors were hit hard. The factories that were not destroyed by Israel are now operating at a 20% capacity. Many restaurants had to lay off their seasonal workers.
Of course this is going to affect employment adversely. B2Bw gives some estimates.

Then he quotes economist Marwan Iskandar:
"An economic rebound will allow 80 percent of lost jobs to be recovered if political stability is assured and a public aid program is enacted," he said.
And gives his acid observations about the requirements.
Political stability? Tell that to Aoun and Nasrallah. They didn't want it before the war, and they don't want it now. With Siniora overbidding Hizbullah by offering a $33,000 $40,000 compensation package to families who lost their homes, it almost seems as if Lebanese people will be paying Hizbullah and Aoun for co-destroying the country along with Israel.
That is very interesting. Hizballah's initial offer of $12,000 was a low ball. Assuming 15,000 homeless families $33,000 comes to $500 million (about). A $400,000 offer bumps that $100 million.

Evidently human shields are worth a lot to Hizballah, because the hizzies will determine where houses are built if they pony up the cash. Like on top of bunkers and arms depots. So I do not think B2Bw has that point entirely correct.

If the government (probably with Saudi help) outbids Hizballah the hizzies will be out of business in south Lebanon.

Also note that the people of Iran are livid about the $500 million offer when a lot of Iran still hasn't been rebuilt from the last earthquake.

B2Bw has links. Visit him to learn more.

Update: 31 Aug '06 1902z

Commenter Carol Herman reminds me ever so gently that the proper abreviation of Beirut to the Beltway is B2Bw. So that has been changed.

Strangled by Socialism

Socialism strangles. I just ran across two interesting illustrations of that in the news. The first is from Germany.

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Thomas Koerber, an engineering technician from Viernheim, Germany, was looking for a new job. He found it -- 4,700 miles away, in Canada.

"I looked around, found a job I liked in Canada, and left Germany within two months," Koerber, 39, said in a telephone interview from Calgary. "If I can get a better job abroad, and if I'm being treated better, I'm gone."

Koerber is one of 145,000 Germans who fled the fatherland last year amid record postwar unemployment, pushing emigration to its highest level since 1954, Federal Statistics Office figures show. Last year was also the first since the late 1960s that emigrants outnumbered Germans returning home from living abroad, the statistics office said.
Note that for the last few years the world economy has been booming, despite the on going wars and terrorist threats. Yet the German economy faces record unemployment in the number of unemployed with an unemployment rate od 8.2%.
"People say things aren't getting better in Germany, and nothing's going to change any time soon," said historian Simone Eick, director of the German Emigration Center in the northern port city of Bremerhaven. Indeed, "some indicators suggest that this may be the start of mass emigration."

That's reflected by the 630 postings recorded since Aug. 10 on an Internet forum on emigration hosted by Germany's Spiegel magazine. Germany doesn't have much of a future, a 40 year-old German teacher who moved to France said Aug. 26 in a typical posting. The teacher, writing under the alias "Kritischer Leser," meaning Critical Reader, said he's working fewer hours and making more money than his sister, a doctor in Germany.

For Koerber, the decision to leave was largely one of taxes. In Germany, where the highest tax bracket starts at 52,152 euros ($66,600), he would have to pay 42 percent of every euro above that level. In addition, the German value-added tax -- a kind of national sales levy -- is 16 percent, which is scheduled to rise three percentage points next year.
So there you have it. High taxes are bad for workers. Why? Well there is competition.
"I only get 25 percent deducted from my salary and that includes everything," said Koerber of his pay packet in Canada. "And I'm in the highest tax bracket!" The goods and services tax in Alberta is 6 percent, cut from 7 percent in July, he said.
If America doesn't watch out we could start losing skilled workers (the highest paid workers) to Canada as well.

Germany has other problems besides high taxes. They have lots and lots of regulations.
Other German expatriates cite what they say is the over- regimentation of the labor force. "Life in Germany is totally over-regulated,'' said Christian Kaestner, 38, an attorney who moved from Munich to Cape Town, South Africa, in 1997. "There are hardly any freedoms left, and you keep bumping into regulations and prohibitions."
Every regulation adds cost and friction to the economy. Just another thing to pay attention to. Considering that attention is probably the most expensive commodity in the universe, the cost is high indeed. In fact I tell my kids that the hardest thing to pay in the world is attention.

The second story is via the Sand Monkey. He discusses what is happening to the oil industry in Bolivia since populist/communist Evo Morales got elected.
Bolivia's move to nationalize their oil reserves and make the state control it has been failing miserably, once again proving that such socialist moves never work, as I have said here before. The reasons why the program is failing? Well, where to begin? First, there is that whole thing with Brazil being mad at its assets and investments being nationalized by a neighboring country's government, to the degree that it slashed its future investments in Bolivia from 2 Billion US dollars to a measly 90 million. This of course will lead other Oil investors to follow suit, like European Repsol, which announced that it had enough of the Persecution of Bolivian authorities and will cut investment in Bolivia. More companies will surely follow suit.
Morales' response:
Bolivian President Evo Morales said yesterday in a speech
that the country never planned to throw out foreign companies or expropriate their assets “but they can't act likes bosses or owners, they need to be partners," newspaper El Pais reported today.
Geez people who own stuff acting like owners. What a surprise. Bolivian economist Hernando DeSoto says the the protection of private property for the rich and the poor is the most essential element required to bring the third world out of poverty. I discuss that and DeSoto in Property.

The Sand Monkey goes on:
Of course you can't have socialism without corruption or mismanagment, and both are present here. The Bolivian Oil minister -a political appointee by Morales- just got censured for his managment of the nationalization plan , which was his idea in the first place, and therefore resigned. And the head of the Bolivian Oil state company-also appointed by Morales- has been mired by allegation of corruption for so long that he finally quit today. Morales, of course, can't figure out what went wrong. Socialism happend dude. Maybe looking at Venezeula's state of oil production, which y'all look up to as a great example of socialism done right, might give you a hint of what is going wrong.
The Sand Monkey has hit the nail squarely on the head. The more socialism the quicker the destruction of the economy, not just mismanagement, but also corruption. He goes on to discuss the Venezeula example in more detail. Plus his text is loaded with links. RTWT.

Hat tip: Instapundit for the Germany story.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Hizballah Losing More Hardware

After a lot of bluff and bluster. After losing a lot of bunkers. Hizbollah is losing a lot of its favorite hardware.

The Lebanese army has made a major seizure of weapons in southern Lebanon, Prime Minister Fouad Saniora was quoted as saying in a French newspaper on Tuesday.

"The army has been seizing certain weapons, that is confirmed," Saniora told a group of four journalists, including Le Monde's correspondent, accompanying U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to Beirut.
I guess the March 14th Cedar Revolution folks are serious about kicking Hizballah out of the country. Israel must have kicked their butts very severely. It is beginning to look more and more like a "no mas" moment.
"We are not the enemies of Hizbullah," he said, "but we will tolerate no armed presence, either carrying weapons or wearing uniforms."

"No area will be off limits to the army," he said, vowing that Lebanese forces would "confiscate any weapons that it finds".

"That is already what is happening in a firm but friendly way."

Le Monde's correspondent quoted "informed sources" as saying that Hizbullah was "trying to rearm as quickly as possible" and that the Lebanese army was "doing its best" to intercept shipments allegedly coming by land from Syria.(AFP)
And yet no one is disarming or bothering the Israelis who are doing most of the truce "violations". Most of the indication's I've seen so far show Hizballah withdrawing not rearming. At least for the last few days. So either the French information is out of date or the French are covering for Hizballah's retreat. Or there is the possibility that it is something else (most common suggestion is I've lost my mind - well you know a mind is a terrible thing to lose).

Hat tip (and worth a read on the subject) Beirut to Beltway

Update: 30 Aug '06 1738z

The Captain's Quarters has a different view.

Update: 01 Sept '06 1422z

Captain's Quarter's discusses Assad's promise not to re-arm Hizballah.


Kofi Annan says that Israel must stop violating the truce to prevent a resumption of the hostilities. As if Hizballah has any fight left.

Then Kofi asks - pretty please - if Israel wouldn't lift the blockade of Lebanon.

Annan also called on Israel to lift the aerial and naval blockade imposed on Lebanon since the beginning of the war. At this time, however, Israel has no intention of complying with the request.
Note in the accompaning photo that Israeli Defence Minister Peretz is grinning from ear to ear and Kofi is trying real hard to force a smile.

Hizballah Joins Cash Flow Jihad

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Bush administration is working to squeeze Hizballah's assets in addition to the damage already done by the Israelis.

The Bush administration moved on Tuesday to isolate a Lebanese organization financially for allegedly funneling money to bankroll Hizbullah's terror.

The Treasury Department's action, which covers the Islamic Resistance Support Organization, or IRSO, means any assets belonging to the group found in the United States must be frozen. Americans also are prohibited from contributing to the organization.
That is a good start.

The Hizballah guys are no slouches at fund raising. They set up their operation so you could have donated to specific projects. People always like it better if they know what their money is used for.
"Solicitation materials distributed by IRSO inform prospective donors that funds will be used to purchase sophisticated weapons and conduct operations," Treasury said. "Indeed, donors can choose from a series of projects to contribute to, including, supporting and equipping fighters and purchasing rockets and ammunition."
Isn't that special?

Well it looks like the rocket fund has been severely depleted. Not to mention the bunker fund and the well equipped fighter fund. I wonder if they have a gasoline fund for hauling what is left of their equipment out of Lebanon? Or a refugee camp fund for all the people who no longer have living accomodations? My guess it that they will just cheat and siphon the cash out of the various funds for unnamed "necessities".

Update: 30 Aug '06 0757z

Snapped Shot has more on Hizballah finances including the strong possibility that the US currency they handed out maybe counterfeit. They have some evidence and a number of opinions.

Snapped Shot is providing more updates on The Funny Money Scandal.

For those of you who may have missed other pieces in the Cash Flow Jihad series here is a partial list:

Cash Flow Jihad Strikes Hamas
Cash Flow Jihad Meets Aftermath
Iran to Enter Cash Flow Jihad Zone
Follow the Money
Follow the Gold

Update: 31 Aug '06 0730z

Strategy Page discusses Hizballah's loss in the war and some of its economic dimensions.

Update: 01 Sept '06 0733z

Karridine has an MP3 about the Cash Flow Jihad.

Terror Attack in Frisco?

Commenter Linearthinker alerted me to this piece by Yoni the Blogger about a hit and run (automobile) attack in San Francisco (yes I know - don't call Frisco, Frisco). He lists the locations of people hurt by street intersection. Linearthinker reminds me that the neighborhood is predominately Jewish.

CBS news of San Francisco says the driver's name is Omeed Aziz Popal.

Police have identified a man who killed a pedestrian with his sport utility vehicle in Fremont before going on a hit-and-run rampage in San Francisco today as 29-year-old Omeed Aziz Popal.

San Francisco police Sgt. Neville Gittens said Popal, a Fremont resident, faces 14 counts of attempted murder and various vehicle code charges.

Popal remains at San Francisco's Richmond District station this evening and will be booked into San Francisco County Jail tonight. District attorney's office spokeswoman Debbie Mesloh said it's unlikely he will be arraigned Wednesday and may be arraigned as late as Friday.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called the spree "a malicious and hateful act" in a statement issued this evening.
Of course murder is always hateful. I wonder what the governor is thinking? Note that none of the victims is named.
An FBI agent on his lunch break, a cyclist, a teenager and a 52-year-old woman are among Popal's 14 victims of in San Francisco, authorities said.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said this afternoon, "The investigation is occurring as we speak. At this stage, it's an indiscriminate act with no pattern. The victims are of all ages and all races."

The mayor visited three of the more seriously hurt at San Francisco General Hospital this afternoon.
Further down in the article we find that there may be some reason other than general hatefulness for the rampage.
The youngest victim is a teenager who suffered severe lacerations and surface wounds, Newsom said. The mayor said he also spoke to an older man hospitalized with fractures. According to authorities, other victims include a 53-year-old woman who was seriously hurt and a man who was hit while riding his bicycle outside the Jewish Community Center on California Street. The cyclist was treated and released.
So Linearthinker's charachterization of the neighborhood as predominately Jewish appears correct.

So let's see if we can figure this out. Feller with "Asian" name. Predominately Jewish neighborhood. I wonder what he had in mind?

The San Jose Mercury News reports:
Relatives of a Fremont man connected to Tuesday's deadly driving rampage said he may have been distraught after returning recently from Afghanistan without his newlywed wife who iswaiting for a visa.

Omeed Aziz Popal, 29, who sources said was being held by the San Francisco police, was normally a kind and gentle person, said Hamid Nekrawesh, 43, a first cousin in Fremont.

But a recent trip to Afghanistan to participate in an arranged marriage could have caused him a lot of stress, Nekrawesh said.

``He was a very respectful, quiet, nice guy,'' Nekrawesh said. ``I've never seen him do anything violent.''

Zarghona Ramish of San Jose, who also identified herself as Popal's cousin, said he had been having strange dreams since returning a month ago from Afghanistan.
Yeah, that's it. The arranged marriage. In Afghanistan. Wouldn't want to jump to any hasty conclusions.

I do have a question. Could he be a victim of Sudden Jihad Syndrome? There appears to be a minor epidemic of the disease in America. So far, this disease appears to be flying under the radar of our news media.

Fortunately it is being covered elsewhere by Daniel Pipes, and The Jerusalem Post, and Powerline, and Gus Van Horn, and Jeff Jacoby, and what do you know The New York Sun. Search "Sudden Jihad Syndrome" for much more. Most of the articles are reprints or refer back to the piece by Daniel Pipes. Jeff Jacoby and Gus Van Horn have good commentary.

Update: 30 Aug '06 1040z

Gateway Pundit has pictures, video links, maps and lots of other information. (Hat tip: LAT who has been quite busy with the story) (Note: when I was in the Navy I spent a lot of time drinking at the Presidio which is not far from these events)

Nice Shirts

Coyote Organics sent me a very nice hemp and cotton jacket to try out. Except I haven't used it as a jacket so far. I have used it as a shirt and a wonderful shirt it is. It feels good against bare skin. No rough edges or loose threads and the label is soft and will not abrade your neck. Lots of pockets. Lots of pockets. Five pockets all together. I'm an engineer by trade and love pockets. The main pockets are generously sized. The pocket on left breast has plenty of room for pens and a velcro closure for those who are not pen fanatics. The two smaller pockets on either side of the jacket (behind the hand warming pockets) also have velcro closures. The jacket has a number of features which I have not mentioned (like loose sleeves, good ventilation, and a nice hood). You can find out about those features and see some nice pictures (look for the camel) at Coyote Organics. Keep in mind that there is also an organic cotton version available which is a little cooler. Here in the midwest with cooler nights the hemp and cotton is a bit warmer, thus better suited.

I have enjoyed the jacket immensely. However, there is one small problem which Coyote Organics is in the process of fixing. Size. I'm 6' 1 1/2" and the large jacket fits nicely. My first mate who is 5' 6" fills the large size nicely (ever so nicely). For my #1 son who is 6' 4" (don't you just hate looking up to your kids?) the large is not quite big enough.

The designer of the Coyote jackets has this to say about his dreams:

Since I want to make fabric choices that I believe are healthy, both for the customers wearing the clothes and for the people making them, I work with a very limited palette of options. This forces me to be creative, which is good, but I still want more. I want more fabrics, more blends and more options. Hemp is a crucial fabric for me because it blends with cotton well and provides a meaningful difference in feel and function.

The prospect of sourcing my hemp fabrics here in the US is exciting to me, not so much for the logistical improvements it can bring to my business, which are there, but because it will finally help to normalize the choices I want to make. More apparel companies in the US market using hemp will lead to more and better fabric choices for me, and finally to more design freedom.
I like that. It is the essence of engineering or any other kind of creativity. Making what you want from what you can get. As to normalization, I think with a major California Republican backing the change in the status of hemp, nomalization is here.

Now to the best part, Coyote Organics is offering a 10 percent discount from their already reasonable prices to readers of Power and Control.


Fine merchandise by fine merchants. At a discount.

Coyote Organics has some very nice shirts/jackets suitable for the desert and other places. Like the American Midwest. Lots of pockets. I review them at Nice Shirts.

This page created 30 August '06 0430z
Last Updated: 30 August '06 0440z

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Fabric of Our Times

Captain's Quarters asks: "Is It Time to Legalize Hemp? And Perhaps Marijuana?". The Governator is going to have to make a decision on that question in the next few days. The Santa Cruz Sentinal says:

Farmers aren't sowing their fields with hemp seeds just yet, but a few Pajaro Valley growers, along with the county Farm Bureau, are hoping Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs a bill that would permit farmers to grow hemp legally.

Translation: A year from now the fiber in that cool hemp sweater that you buy could come from a field in California — as opposed to Canada, China or Europe.

The bill, known as AB 1147 or the California Industrial Hemp Farming Act, is headed for the governor's desk, where it will be vetoed or signed by late September, the governor's press office said Thursday.
The Governator appears to be in no hurry to make a decision.

So why all the fuss about hemp? After all Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew it. It was essential to the American Navy until well into the age of steam. Pretty simple really. Hemp is a cousin to that dreaded drug, marijuana. But is it the same as marijuana? Why no. The difference? The hemp crop is very low in THC and the fiber has practically none at all.

The Guardian quotes a Republican:
"Hemp bears no more resemblance to marijuana than a poodle bears to a wolf," said Tom McClintock, a Republican state senator who backed legislation that would reverse one key section of a 1937 law banning the growth of all types of the plant. "You'd die from smoke inhalation before you'd get high."
Is Tom some fringe Republican? Not at all.Tom McClintock has this to say about Tom:
During 19 years in the state legislature, and most recently as a candidate for governor in California’s historic recall election, State Senator Tom McClintock has become one of the most recognizable political leaders in California. According to every major public opinion poll during 2003 campaign, Californians consistently rated McClintock as the best-qualified and most capable candidate in the field. McClintock ended the election with higher favorable ratings than any other politician in California.
Tom is running for Lt. Governor of California this year (2006). Not fringe at all. It will be interesting to see if Arnold bucks or backs Tom.

From a review of the Guardian article at Hemp for Victory we learn about:
...the oft repeated argument that hemp fields would be an ideal place to hide pot plants, which is thrown out as a stumbling block to progress. The truth is that fibre hemp plants grow thin and tall and the bushy, short varieties of Cannabis sativa that epitomise pot would stick out immediately. Further, as hemp fields would be subject to spot testing, no pot dealer in their right mind would want the visits from law enforcement. Better to plant them in a field of herbs growing the same height and not attract attention.
Also the low THC hemp would cross polinate with the high THC marijuana lowering the quality of the marijuana.

The North American Industrial Hemp Council discusses some marijuana vs hemp myths. Here is one of many myths busted.
Myth: Feral hemp must be eradicated because it can be sold as marijuana.

Reality: Feral hemp, or ditchweed, is a remnant of the hemp once grown on more than 400,000 acres by U.S. farmers. It contains extremely low levels of THC, as low as .05 percent. It has no drug value, but does offer important environmental benefits as a nesting habitat for birds. About 99 percent of the "marijuana" being eradicated by the federal government-at great public expense-is this harmless ditchweed. Might it be that the drug enforcement agencies want to convince us that ditchweed is hemp in order to protect their large eradication budgets?
Speaking of ditch weed, it is a remnant of another government program, a war time program (1942) that was considered essential at the time: Hemp in Illinois.

The Guardian article also notes that hemp has other uses besides fiber.
California has a thriving industry in the manufacture of products made from hemp, which also includes luggage, toys, sports equipment, jewellery and rope. Energy bars are particularly popular because hemp is high in essential fatty acids, protein, Vitamin B and fibre. Until now, however, raw materials have had to be imported from Canada, where hemp cultivation was legalised in 1998.
Imagine that. Hemp in Canada. I hear that the Mounties are still busting marijuana plantations and grow ops. The Mounties must be a lot smarter than the police in America. They can tell the difference between marijuana and hemp. I expect with a little education our police could be brought up to Canadian standards in the matter.

I have looked at in more detail some of the medical uses and some of the industrial uses of hemp. If you are interested in one of the medical uses of marijuana (which is not hemp) see: PTSD and the Endocannabinoid System. The plant in all its forms is truly amazing. It would be nice to bring it back. To America.

I'd like to do my part. Coyote Organics sent me a very nice hemp and cotton jacket to try out. Except I haven't used it as a jacket so far. I have used it as a shirt and a wonderful shirt it is. It feels good against bare skin. No rough edges or loose threads and the label is soft and will not abrade your neck. Lots of pockets. Lots of pockets. Five pockets all together. I'm an engineer by trade and love pockets. The main pockets are generously sized. The pocket on left breast has plenty of room for pens and a velcro closure for those who are not pen fanatics. The two smaller pockets on either side of the jacket (behind the hand warming pockets) also have velcro closures. The jacket has a number of features which I have not mentioned (like loose sleeves, good ventilation, and a nice hood). You can find out about those features and see some nice pictures (look for the camel) at Coyote Organics. Keep in mind that there is also an organic cotton version available which is a little cooler. Here in the midwest with cooler nights the hemp and cotton is a bit warmer, thus better suited.

I have enjoyed the jacket immensely. However, there is one small problem which Coyote Organics is in the process of fixing. Size. I'm 6' 1 1/2" and the large jacket fits nicely. My first mate who is 5' 6" fills the large size nicely (ever so nicely). For my #1 son who is 6' 4" (don't you just hate looking up to your kids?) the large is not quite big enough.

The designer of the Coyote jackets has this to say about his dreams:
Since I want to make fabric choices that I believe are healthy, both for the customers wearing the clothes and for the people making them, I work with a very limited palette of options. This forces me to be creative, which is good, but I still want more. I want more fabrics, more blends and more options. Hemp is a crucial fabric for me because it blends with cotton well and provides a meaningful difference in feel and function.

The prospect of sourcing my hemp fabrics here in the US is exciting to me, not so much for the logistical improvements it can bring to my business, which are there, but because it will finally help to normalize the choices I want to make. More apparel companies in the US market using hemp will lead to more and better fabric choices for me, and finally to more design freedom.
I like that. It is the essence of engineering or any other kind of creativity. Making what you want from what you can get. As to normalization, I think with a major California Republican backing the change in the status of hemp, nomalization is here.

Now to the best part, Coyote Organics is offering a 10 percent discount from their already reasonable prices to readers of Power and Control.

Hemp in Illinois

Here is a piece I wrote in June of 2001. It is a historical note about hemp cultivation in Illinois during WW2.


Hemp has a very recent and interesting history in the Rockford, Illinois area.

The story starts in 1937 when marijuana was outlawed. Since American law enforcement was unable to tell the difference between hemp and marijuana hemp growing was outlawed.

Let jump forward to 1942. America is in a war with Japan and Japan has cut the US of A off from Asian hemp supplies from the Philippines and Java. Hemp was essential at that time for making naval ropes because of its long fibers, strength, and strength when wet. In addition it resisted rot and mildew making it relatively long lasting in a very harsh environment ranging from the frozen Arctic to the tropical Pacific.

The American response was to forget about hemp/marijuana prohibition and grant special licenses to mid-west farmers to grow hemp. In addition to educate and encourage farmers a film "Hemp for Victory" was made by the agriculture department to explain how important hemp was to the war effort and to encourage farmers to plant it.

Now we get closer to Rockford. A pilot plant built in Polo, Illinois in Ogle County was to serve as a center for hemp production in the surrounding area. It was expected that 42 hemp mills would be needed in the mid-west and 11 in Illinois.

The first harvest was in 1943. Because much of the machinery was untested, the hemp tangled machinery started breaking down. Production suffered and yet had to be completed before the end of harvest season. With a war on and labor at peak demand where could the Agriculture Department turn to fill its labor needs?

It turns out that Camp Grant in Rockford had quite a few German prisoners of war from the African campaign who were brought in by bus to help harvest the hemp. By January 6th of 1944 fifty-two truck loads of hemp had been brought to the hemp mill. One hundred and fifty one tons of fiber total were delivered to spinning mills on the East coast. The hemp brought a little over ninety-three dollars an acre.

By 1944 the government started closing the hemp plants because of the availability of alternate supplies from Central America and the Mediterranean region. By 1945 the Hemp for Victory Program was over.

If you would like to find out more about this story you can go to:

Polo's Hemp Mill.

Hemp for Victory video download.

Let me know if you have trouble with the Hemp for Victory video. All I have is a 28.8 dialup and haven't tested it.

Update: 29 Aug '06 2121z

The Hemp Industries Association has the latest hemp news. Today they are covering the California Hemp Bill Extensively.

Hemp Makes Wonderful Fiber

As a break from war news and related misery, I'm re-publishihing some stuff I wrote about hemp in response to the California bill on hemp growing which just passed and is awaiting the governor's signature. I'll have more about the bill later.

From July 2001.


Hemp the non-psychoactive cousin of marijuana makes wonderful fiber and has been cultivated for its fiber for at least 5,000 years.

It is well known for its use in rope and in canvas ( the word itself is derived from cannabis ) sails for the sailing ships that dominated the seas for many thousands of years. Hemp was so precious in America that early Colonists were required to grow it for its cordage and cloth uses. Hemp was required to maintain the lifeline between the early colonies and Britain.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were known to have grown hemp. As far as can be definitely determined they were only interested in fiber.

Modern uses for the fiber still include hemp twine for use in fine quality shoes and boots. New uses being researched include fiberboard for walls and laminated structural beams for building construction. The very long hemp fibers make these products especially strong compared to their wood counterparts.

Surprisingly hemp may find its way into your automobile body. In fact there is a chance it may already be in the car you drive. The use of hemp as a replacement for fiberglass is just beginning. Hemp composites are easier to recycle than fiberglass composites and due to their long fibers they may be stronger. Using hemp fibers can reduce the weight of car by as much as 40 percent and reduce the energy requirements for car manufacture as well. Hemp is sixty-five cents a pound cheaper than fiberglass and a new crop can be grown every year.

Two percent of automobile fiberglass matts, seat backs and other plastic composites had organic fiber reinforcement last year . Hemp is the dominant organic fiber in this field.

The number one problem in this field is that the DEA unlike its Canadian counterparts cannot tell the difference between hemp and marijuana. In America you need DEA approval, a fenced garden with razor wire to top the fences and 24 hour monitoring. In Canada all you need is a license. Admittedly the Canadians had a little problem with pot poachers the first year they grew a hemp crop. But soon enough the word got out that all you got from smoking hemp was a headache and the poaching all but ceased.

The Illinois legislature has twice passed bills for the study of hemp in Illinois in the hopes of getting a bill that the DEA would approve of and the Governor would sign. So far the Governor has not acted favorably on the latest hemp bill HB 3377. ( HB stands for House Bill not Hemp Bill ) The vote in the House was 72 to 43 in favor.

The Governor needs a little nudging on the hemp issue. He can be reached at: [217] 782-6830 or e-mail the Illinois Governor or you can get the full street address and other phone numbers from: State of Illinois. Click on "State Government" on the upper right. Then State Telephone Directory.


That was what was going on in 2001. What about 2006? Governor Blagojevich has an ambitious plan for organic liquid fuels. Illinois Energy Independence Plan. There is no mention of hemp oil which can be converted into bio-diesel or the conversion of the celulose in the stalks to alcohol. Perhaps he needs to be informed.

Now is this hemp for fuel idea economical? We have no idea. Moderate scale trials (thousands of acres for a few years) will be required in order to find the answer. So far such trials are illegal in America.

Update: 29 Aug '06 2012z

The politics of hemp.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Militias Disarmed?

Remember the Shaba Farms? One of Hizballah's grievances. Hizballah is packing up.

Hizbullah has dismantled 14 outposts on the Israel-Lebanon border near the Shaba Farms, Lebanese security sources said Monday.

Reportedly, the group evacuated the posts using trucks to carry artillery, other weapons and military equipment, while bulldozers blocked access to tunnels and bunkers.

Witnesses said that the vehicles laden with weapons and other military equipment were headed northward.

A French news agency reported that the Lebanese army had deployed troops along the border with Syria and that its soldiers had blocked routes used by weapons smugglers.
Several commenters have wondered if the Lebanese Army was serious. The test was a deployment along the Syrian border. I think we may have an answer.

But wait. More surprises in store. Lebanon demands disarmament of Palestinians.
The Lebanese government demanded from Palestinians in refugee camps in the Litani area to disarm in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1701, senior Fatah operative in Lebanon, Monir Al-Makdah, reported on Monday morning.

Reportedly, Lebanese Prime Minister Faud Saniora made the request to Fatah representative in Lebanon Abbas Za'aki.

Al-Makdah rejected the demand in an interview with Jordanian newspaper Al-Dostur, saying that the Security Council resolution was illegal since it did not include the right of return of Palestinian refugees.
Right of return to where? Lebanon? What exactly does the right of return (no such right exists - it is a figment of the fevered Palestinian imagination) to Israel have to do with Lebanese security?

It is looking like Lebanon may get a real government courtesy of Israel.

Who would have ever suspected those UN resolutions for Lebanon, 1701 and 1559, would get enforced by the Lebanese Government?

One final question. If Hizballah won, why are they packing up? If they are politically stronger why is the admittedly weak Lebanese government pushing them around?

My guess? Iran has decided that the support of the shia in Lebanon is not worth the cost.

It may also have someting to do with US Rep. Tom Lantos' (D-Calif.) demands.
American aid to Lebanon should be held up until the country agrees to allow international forces to patrol its border with Syria, US Representative Tom Lantos of California said Sunday in Jerusalem.

Lantos, a Holocaust survivor on his 68th visit to Israel, also said he planned to file bipartisan legislation for Israel to receive reconstruction aid.

"It would be singularly unfair and inequitable in the wake of this disaster to have aid flow to one party, which basically allowed the provocation, but not to the other victims," he said. "Lebanon will get help from Europe, the Arab world and the United States. And unless the United States provides some aid to Israel, Israel will not receive aid."
Given the way these things work in the ME, I'd have to say that Uncle Sam's bankroll is bigger than Iran's. At least if you are counting bankable notes.

Update: 28 Aug '06 1559z

Here is an interesting update on bunker busting in Lebanon. It appears that the bunkers were connected by telephone wires. Which is why jamming the radios did not prevent Hizbollah from communicating. The really interesting part is news from the North Bekaa.
Lieutenant Colonel Emanuel Moreno was killed two days earlier during an elite unit operation in the town of Baalbek in the eastern sector.

According to the IDF, the operation was aimed at preventing the smuggling of arms from Iran and Syria to Hizbullah. Army sources stated that the operation's goals "have been achieved."

The army also claimed that the operation did nor constitute a violation of the ceasefire agreement, as the IDF said it reserves the right to prevent arms smuggling to the terror group.
It looks like Israel is clearing out the Bekaa Valley without much of a fight. The strategy Israel is using appears to be even better that the one I envisioned in Tactics, Strategy, Grand Strategy. I had assumed a major battle to accomplish the purpose of disarming Hizballah and straining Syria. Here Israel is doing it without much of a fight. Hizballah must be way more seriously damaged than they are admitting.

Speaking of admissions. Nasserallah has this to say.
During the interview, Nasrallah said he did not expect a second round in the war with Israel, but in the same breath added that his organization was reserving the "right to resistance" as long as IDF soldiers continue to remain on Lebanese territory.

"I won't send calming messages to anyone," he said. Despite the remark, there was a lowering of tones compared to comments made in previous speeches, according to which his organization would continue to fight IDF soldiers, but would only cease firing Katyusha rockets at Israel in case of a ceasefire.

"The open war with Israel ended on August 14, but Israel is continuing its acts of provocations to drag us into the confrontation," said Nasrallah.
Funny thing is the "resistance" is not resisting much these days. Well Nasserallah is basically a peaceful guy and refuses to be provoked. Ya, right, whatever.

I'm still not clear on one minor point though. Who won?


I couldn't resist adding this bit of humor.
"If we respond to the provocations we'll be considered the party that violated the international agreement, something which might cause a meeting around a second decision, which president Bush is working for and which is tied to the disarmament of Hizbullah. We have been restrained and we will not be provoked, especially as Resolution 1701 gives Israel the right to defend itself – something we opposed."
Yeah. A real shame. Israel has the right to defend itself.

Of course it looks like no one will disarm Hizballah. They are packing up their gear on their own for a one way trip to Syria. Next time I don't think they will get off so easy.

Nasserallah could do stand up if his current career has no future. Of course if he has no future he will not be doing stand up. He will be doing lie down.

"This is our policy – to refrain from displaying weapons. If the Lebanese army notices any gunman – it is it's natural right to expropriate the weapons," said Nasrallah.

Nasrallah's comments match Israeli beliefs that Hizbullah's political stance has been harmed following the war.
He is packing up his shit and hightailing it from Dodge. The new Hizballah in Syria? Looks like it might be the old one from Lebanon. Somewhat the worse for wear.

Update: 28 Aug '06 2142z

Clayton Cramer links.

Pointing Out the Obvious

Commenter Carol Herman points out the obvious:

Israel really has no desires to be in Lebanon. Nada. Not for keeps. While now? Just a few. With plenty of cover from the bumbling UN. And, france. Not a bad outcome after you're finished making your points.

What points? That it got to be more expensive for nasrallah to kidnap two soldiers than it was worth. But nobody's gonna mention something this obvious.
Well at long last we have some one pointing out the obvious, Sheikh Naim Kassem Hizballah's deputy leader.
Sheikh Naim Kassem told Lebanon's leading An-Nahar daily that Hizbullah's "resistance" to Israel would continue, saying "justifications for ending it do not exist."

Kassem said Hizbullah was surprised by the magnitude of Israel's response to the group's capture of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser.

Hizbullah had expected Israel to respond at most with "some limited attacks" and two or three days of bombing, Kassem said.

"We were surprised by the size and strength of the Israeli reaction. We expected that the IDF would bomb areas close to the border for several days and only cause minimal damage," he said. "In the last days [of the war], the enemy exercised military hysteria... The size of the aggression was beyond our expectation."
Well, well, well, a disproportionate response. Obviously a higher price than he was willing to pay. I guess he went to the bazzar expecting a deal. He got a bigger deal than he bargained for.

And still the question is: who won?

Here is what I say:

Israel is camping on Hizballah territory. Hizballah is laying low. Nasserallah is living in basements. Olmert is enjoying the sunshine.

Israel is blowing up Hizballah bunkers these days at their leisure. Hizballah is blowing what? Smoke.

More on bunker busting:
He also mentioned that Golani forces had initiated the move to uncover the bunker after the same battalion, in an earlier operation, had discovered maps specifying certain areas where Hizbullah had planned such tunnels in south Lebanon.

The IDF blasts caused concern among nearby residents, who thought the loud explosions were rocket fire.

The IDF has continued to operate in southern Lebanon since a cease-fire was called two weeks ago, stopping weapons shipments to Hizbullah and killing several armed Hizbullah operatives who posed an immediate threat to IDF forces.
So Israel is destroying Hizballah's equipment without having to take it by force of arms. Seems like a smart strategy. And a nice immediate payoff for intel collected during the war.

Evidently Hizballah has abandoned their fortifications in order to not give them away by coming and going.

So let me lay it out, plain and simple like. The Israeli Army is still operating in Southern Lebanon. Hizbollah is not.

And the winner is............


The Captain is discussing a similar quote by Nasserallah - aproximately "we wuz surprised".

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Nazis of the Middle East

Baron Bodissey at the Gates of Vienna reminds me of an important part of Middle East history that does not get near the attention it deserves. (although I covered some aspects of it here: The Palestinian Role in the Holocaust where I link the Mufti to Yasser Arafat through family connections) The Baron starts with:

Pastorius has sent a note reminding me of the excellent video from German television, “Hitler, The Mufti Of Jerusalem And Modern Islamo Nazism“. It’s about the Mufti, Muhammed Amin al-Husseini, and his collaboration with the Nazis before and during the Second World War.
If you want to learn more about Pastorius or see the video the Baron has links. I asked my mother (now 85) who lived through that period in America (her mother and father were immigrants from Romania) if she had heard of Mufti al-Husseini, her reply was offhand as if every one ought to know that history: she said "Of course."
The Berlin based headquarters of the Mufti controlled almost a world-wide net of collaborators. Sponsored by German money he extended his claws to the Middle East, as well as to other areas where Muslims lived. His main activities were:

1. Radio propaganda;
2. Espionage and fifth column activities in the Middle East;
3. Organising Muslims into military units in Axis-occupied countries; and
4. Establishing some German controlled Arab Legions and the Arab Brigade.
According to this Nationa Review article, the first Arabic versions of Mein Kampf were distributed in 1938.
The Third Reich and the Arab East, by Lukasz Hirszowicz, a Polish-born scholar, was published almost 40 years ago but remains a definitive work. It examines in careful detail how Hitler's Germany sought to woo Arabs through anti-British and anti-Jewish policies. Nazi personalities like Josef Goebbels and Baldur von Schirach of the Hitler Youth carried out goodwill tours. Various German agents financed and armed clandestine Arab fascist groups. The first Arabic translation of Mein Kampf appeared in 1938, and Hitler himself tactfully proposed to omit from it his "racial ladder" theory.

Of all the Arabs convinced of Hitler's coming triumph, none was so eager as Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem and leader of the Palestinian Arabs in the Hitler years. Vincent Sheean, the Thomas L. Friedman of the day, thought that Haj Amin had "great gifts." Along the lines that "my enemy's enemy is my friend," Haj Amin converted the Palestinian cause into a local branch of Hitler's worldwide anti-Jewish persecution. Fleeing from the British, he spent the war in Berlin. A friend and admirer of Himmler's, he raised a division of Bosnian Muslims for the SS. Hitler made grandiose promises to him, but was cautious enough to add that they could be met only after victory.
Verrrrrrrrrrry Interesting. Did all this end with the death of the Nazi Empire? Why no. Nazi Jew hatred didn't end with the Nazis. It was taken up by Muslims all over the world. An updated version of Islamic Jew hatred. dire are the injustices and the poverty, and so threatening is the tyranny over their heads, that many are lost in pity for themselves, and hatred of everyone else. A slew of racists, radicals, and Islamists share a frame of mind that the West is selfishly conspiring against them, with the Jews once again secretly in charge. Catering to such people since the early '60s, editions of Mein Kampf have been put out in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, and it is reported to be a bestseller in the Palestinian Authority area. It is available in London stores selling Arabic books. As its Arabic translator Luis al-Haj expresses it in his preface, "National Socialism did not die with the death of its herald. Rather, its seeds multiplied under each star."

In traditional society in the Middle East, Arabs were the masters and Jews were second-class subjects, protected though under rather demeaning conditions. European-style anti-Semitism, usually spread by missionaries and diplomats, came in during the 19th century. Zionism, another import from Europe, redefined Jews according to nationality rather than religion, and the accompanying improvement in their lowly status abruptly challenged Arab assumptions of superiority. These second-class people could surely never have done it on their own; they could only be obtaining their new power from outside — it had to be a plot. Hitler says so too in his book. He believed Zionism was "nothing but a comedy," and he could see through "this sly trick of the Jews."
So we have a resurgence of the European disease in the Islamic world. Swell. No wonder the Europeans don't want to look too closely at this. Let's get back to what the Baron has to say about the Mufti. Continuing his quote from Muftism and Nazism (the Baron has a link):
His greatest achievement was, however, the recruitment of tens of thousands of the Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania to the Waffen SS. His Arab Legions later participated in massacring tens of thousands of partisan Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. In 1943 there were 20,000 Muslims under arms in “his” division of the Waffen SS, the Handschar… Nevertheless, the Balkan adventure was only his spare-time activity because his main interest was the fight against World Jewry. In the annual protest against the Balfour Declaration, which in 1943 was staged in the large Luftwaffe hall in Berlin, the Mufti attacked the “Anglo-Saxon and Jewish conspiracy” phrase he so frequently used, and said: “The Treaty of Versailles was a disaster for the Germans as well as for the Arabs. But the Germans know how to get rid of the Jews. That which brings us close to the Germans and sets us in their camp is that up to day.”
This was the man who Arafat called "uncle".

The Baron concludes with this:
A favorite canard from Muslims (and the Left) is that “the Jews are just like the Nazis”. But the story of the Mufti is a sobering reminder — as if we needed one — that such assertions are what psychologists refer to as “projection”.

The Baron has a photo of the Mufti and Himmler looking perfectly slimy shaking each other's hand.

Update: 31 Aug '06 0611z

Captain's Quarters reviews a movie Obsession about the Nazi/Islamic fascist connection.

Hizbollah Beats Israel Loses Arabs

As reality starts to intrude into the Middle East Amir Taheri in Opinion Journal (Hat Tip: Ted Belman of Israpundit) notes that Israel and the west may have lost the propaganda war but Hizbollah has lost the Arabs. Lebanese Shiit Arabs.

The way much of the Western media tells the story, Hezbollah won a great victory against Israel and the U.S., healed the Sunni-Shiite rift, and boosted the Iranian mullahs' claim to leadership of the Muslim world. Portraits of Hassan Nasrallah, the junior mullah who leads the Lebanese branch of this pan-Shiite movement, have adorned magazine covers in the West, hammering in the message that this child of the Khomeinist revolution is the new hero of the mythical "Arab Street."
He notes this is fueled by a gullible western media (who would have guessed?) and a propaganda campaign from Iran/Hizbollah.
By controlling the flow of information from Lebanon throughout the conflict, and help from all those who disagree with U.S. policies for different reasons, Hezbollah may have won the information war in the West. In Lebanon, the Middle East and the broader Muslim space, however, the picture is rather different.
Which is what I have been saying for a while. Aftermath.
Initially Hezbollah had hesitated between declaring victory and going into mourning for its "martyrs." The latter course would have been more in harmony with Shiite traditions centered on the cult of Imam Hussain's martyrdom in 680 A.D. Some members of Hezbollah wished to play the martyrdom card so that they could accuse Israel, and through it the U.S., of war crimes. They knew that it was easier for Shiites, brought up in a culture of eternal victimhood, to cry over an imagined calamity than laugh in the joy of a claimed victory.

Politically, however, Hezbollah had to declare victory for a simple reason: It had to pretend that the death and desolation it had provoked had been worth it. A claim of victory was Hezbollah's shield against criticism of a strategy that had led Lebanon into war without the knowledge of its government and people. Mr. Nasrallah alluded to this in television appearances, calling on those who criticized him for having triggered the war to shut up because "a great strategic victory" had been won.

The tactic worked for a day or two. However, it did not silence the critics, who have become louder in recent days. The leaders of the March 14 movement, which has a majority in the Lebanese Parliament and government, have demanded an investigation into the circumstances that led to the war, a roundabout way of accusing Hezbollah of having provoked the tragedy. Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has made it clear that he would not allow Hezbollah to continue as a state within the state. Even Michel Aoun, a maverick Christian leader and tactical ally of Hezbollah, has called for the Shiite militia to disband.
Plus with a million Shia refugees in Lebanon people are bound to talk. Cell phones and internet. Revolutionary tools.
Mr. Nasrallah followed his claim of victory with what is known as the "Green Flood"(Al-sayl al-akhdhar). This refers to the massive amounts of crisp U.S. dollar notes that Hezbollah is distributing among Shiites in Beirut and the south. The dollars from Iran are ferried to Beirut via Syria and distributed through networks of militants. Anyone who can prove that his home was damaged in the war receives $12,000, a tidy sum in wartorn Lebanon.

The Green Flood has been unleashed to silence criticism of Mr. Nasrallah and his masters in Tehran. But the trick does not seem to be working. "If Hezbollah won a victory, it was a Pyrrhic one," says Walid Abi-Mershed, a leading Lebanese columnist. "They made Lebanon pay too high a price--for which they must be held accountable."
Note that Mr. Nasrallah is handing out good old American greenbacks (which may be counterfiet), not Euros, or Syrian currency, or Iranian currency. It must be humiliating to have to hand out your opponents currency to your supporters.

As I pointed out in The Bitter Taste of Victory: A few more Hizballah victories like this one and Hizballah will be out of business. A few more Israeli losses like the one they suffered in Lebanon and they will control all of Lebanon. Some victory. Some loss.
Hezbollah is also criticized from within the Lebanese Shiite community, which accounts for some 40% of the population. Sayyed Ali al-Amin, the grand old man of Lebanese Shiism, has broken years of silence to criticize Hezbollah for provoking the war, and called for its disarmament. In an interview granted to the Beirut An-Nahar, he rejected the claim that Hezbollah represented the whole of the Shiite community. "I don't believe Hezbollah asked the Shiite community what they thought about [starting the] war," Mr. al-Amin said. "The fact that the masses [of Shiites] fled from the south is proof that they rejected the war. The Shiite community never gave anyone the right to wage war in its name."
And you thought the Long Knives were out in Israel. Hizballah's declaration of victory may come back to hurt them seriously in the Arab world where truth is starting to pierce the fog and in an Israel burning for revenge for having "lost" the war.
There were even sharper attacks. Mona Fayed, a prominent Shiite academic in Beirut, wrote an article also published by An-Nahar last week. She asks: Who is a Shiite in Lebanon today? She provides a sarcastic answer: A Shiite is he who takes his instructions from Iran, terrorizes fellow believers into silence, and leads the nation into catastrophe without consulting anyone. Another academic, Zubair Abboud, writing in Elaph, a popular Arabic-language online newspaper, attacks Hezbollah as "one of the worst things to happen to Arabs in a long time." He accuses Mr. Nasrallah of risking Lebanon's existence in the service of Iran's regional ambitions.

Before he provoked the war, Mr. Nasrallah faced growing criticism not only from the Shiite community, but also from within Hezbollah. Some in the political wing expressed dissatisfaction with his overreliance on the movement's military and security apparatus. Speaking on condition of anonymity, they described Mr. Nasrallah's style as "Stalinist" and pointed to the fact that the party's leadership council (shura) has not held a full session in five years. Mr. Nasrallah took all the major decisions after clearing them with his Iranian and Syrian contacts, and made sure that, on official visits to Tehran, he alone would meet Iran's "Supreme Guide," Ali Khamenei.
At least they didn't call him a "Hitlerite" which would have been closer to the mark.
The list of names of those who never endorsed Hezbollah, or who broke with it after its Iranian connections became too apparent, reads like a Who's Who of Lebanese Shiism. It includes, apart from the al-Amins, families such as the al-As'ad, the Osseiran, the al-Khalil, the Hamadah, the Murtadha, the Sharafeddin, the Fadhlallah, the Mussawis, the Hussainis, the Shamsuddin and the Ata'allahs.

Far from representing the Lebanese national consensus, Hezbollah is a sectarian group backed by a militia that is trained, armed and controlled by Iran. In the words of Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the Iranian daily Kayhan, "Hezbollah is 'Iran in Lebanon.' " In the 2004 municipal elections, Hezbollah won some 40% of the votes in the Shiite areas, the rest going to its rival Amal (Hope) movement and independent candidates. In last year's general election, Hezbollah won only 12 of the 27 seats allocated to Shiites in the 128-seat National Assembly--despite making alliances with Christian and Druze parties and spending vast sums of Iranian money to buy votes.

Hezbollah's position is no more secure in the broader Arab world, where it is seen as an Iranian tool rather than as the vanguard of a new Nahdha (Awakening), as the Western media claim. To be sure, it is still powerful because it has guns, money and support from Iran, Syria and Hate America International Inc. But the list of prominent Arab writers, both Shiite and Sunni, who have exposed Hezbollah for what it is--a Khomeinist Trojan horse--would be too long for a single article. They are beginning to lift the veil and reveal what really happened in Lebanon.

Having lost more than 500 of its fighters, and with almost all of its medium-range missiles destroyed, Hezbollah may find it hard to sustain its claim of victory. "Hezbollah won the propaganda war because many in the West wanted it to win as a means of settling score with the United States," says Egyptian columnist Ali al-Ibrahim. "But the Arabs have become wise enough to know TV victory from real victory."
If only Americans, Europeans, and Israelis were so wise.

At some point the disparities between TV and reality will become too great. That is when one of two things happen. World views collapse or insanity sets in.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Iran to Enter Cash Flow Jihad Zone

John Bolton American Ambassador to the UN promises to institute sanctions on Iran with or without the help of the UN (i.e. Russia and China ). Note: the imposition of sanctions (which used to be called a blockade) is an act of war.

WASHINGTON-VIDEO: Even after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated the Iranian heavy-water reactor Saturday, the US will have a hard time convincing Russia and China to support sanctions in the Security Council. Official sources in Bush's cabinet said to newspaper Los Angeles Times that if these efforts fail, the US will try to build an independent coalition to impose sanctions on Tehran.

According to the newspaper's headline report, the countries that will participate in a coalition against Iran will freeze assets and will impose sanctions on commerce with Iran. This upcoming Thursday the ultimatum put forth by the UN to Tehran to halt uranium enrichment within the framework of UN Resolution 1696 will expire.

The US believes that Japan and the European trio - Germany, France, and Britain – will provide the base for international rallying outside the Security Council in the case that Russia and China block the sanctions.
Bolton is trying to get the banks of the world to do to Iran what they did to Hamas. Stop dealing with them.
Bolton clarified in the interview that the US would focus efforts to pressure Japanese and European banks to stop doing business with Iran. This is a hint that the US Treasury Department is holding talks with other countries, which Bolton refused to identify. The Treasury Department reported that they are already seeing the fruits of this effort, including a decision by Switzerland's Union Bank to cut off relations with Iran.
Iran of course expected this which is why it withdrew $30 to $35 bn in cash and gold from European banks. However,the money will only last so long. Plus it is hard and expensive to move cash around. It is why International Banking was invented. Iran will become dependent on the banking systems of Russia and China. It can't be a happy thought for them. Control of the transmission of bits is the high ground in this war.

Iran is having money troubles. Hamas is having money troubles. Hizbollah is having money troubles. I think I detect a pattern here.

Update: 27 Aug '06 2328z

Captain's Quarters is of the opinion Hizballah lost.

Stalked by Long Knives

Reader and commenter Linearthinker alerted me to this hatchet job on Olmert in the American Thinker. In a way he deserves it. He promised the Israeli people a strategic victory. And he may have actually delivered such a victory; it was not the strategic victory the Israeli people imagined - that is his problem.

At the bottom of this page there are links to a group of articles that outline what I think Israeli objectives were given what we know now (early days) about what happened.

Let me start off with the short version.

1. A punitive expedition
2. A reconnaissance in force to collect intel and operational data
3. To create a logistics disaster for Hizballah to drain cash and prestiege from Iran.
4. See how the Israeli people stood up to rocket attacks
5. Spoiling Iran's 22 August attack
6. Shakedown for the armed forces
7. Live fire exercises for the troops
8. Destroy Iran's rocket deterance by reducing fear

All this was accomplished. Several of them could be considered strategic defeats for Hizballah. Items 3, 5, and 8 especially.

However, there are a lot of complaints. The defeat was not as severe as it could have been. Hizballah, though busy trying to care for 1 milliion refugees, still exists. Assad still stands in Damascus and the mullahs in Iran still control their government. The bottom line here is that the strategic victory the Israelis imagined (me too! Tactics, Strategy, Grand Strategy) did not materialize.

Let us take a look at some of the complaints the American thinker has:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert must go. He is endangering the security of Israel and he now poses a serious liability to American security as well. Good leadership is indivisible – Olmert cannot be bad for Israel and simultaneously be good for America.
This is true. Except that the intel bonanza (covered here Electronic Warfare and here Jabbing) is very good for America to know for any coming confrontation with Iran.

Then they cover this statement Olmert made a year ago.
“We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want to be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies.”
Israel is engaged in a thousand year war and after only 60 years Olmert is tired. Feh.

Then the American Thinker brings up the support Olmert gets from his family.
His own family members are all politically on the far left. His wife joined with Israeli leftists to harass Israeli soldiers guarding their country at border checkpoints. His daughter accused the Israeli Chief of Staff of being a murderer. One son is a draft dodger and the other son, after serving, now discourages other Israelis from serving. In a family interview on PBS’ Frontline program Olmert said that his family had influenced him to alter his views to be closer to theirs.
Leftists - they are the bane of sane governments - I discuss why in Socialism Kills. Why is he listening to these folks? He either needs to divorce his family or the Israeli people. He can't stay married to both and deliver the leadership the Israeli people demand.
Ariel Sharon pledged no more withdrawals after the Gaza expulsion until there is a genuine change in Arab attitudes. Olmert claimed that Sharon, now comatose, wanted to proceed with unilateral withdrawals and he, Olmert, intends to expel up to 80,000 from the West Bank in return for nothing.
I thought the Sharon Plan would destroy the Israeli left (it has) and would clarify the war with the Palestinians (it has). However, there is no political will in Israel for further unilateral withdrawals. Why would he even want to float a trial baloon for something that has no popular mandate?
His proposed West Bank withdrawal would inflict immense suffering and costs in expelling some 80,000 Jews and require a huge military effort. This would then expose Tel Aviv and the major population centers to rocket attack from only 10 miles away, making defense impossible and mass casualties certain. The densely populated coastal plain would be highly vulnerable to saturation attack by Katyusha rockets from the West Bank, weapons which are easy to launch, impossible to intercept and hard to defend against. Every sane observer, inside and outside of Israel, called this proposal suicidal. And yet Olmert remained adamant on pursuing this insane policy.
Militarlily and politically the idea is nuts. Olmert ran on a platform of returning territory just to get rid of Israeli responsibility for the Arabs living there. The people of Israel changed their minds about this. Olmert is sticking with his electoral platform. Makes no sense.
Olmert rushed to accept a lopsided U.N. cease fire resolution, harmful to Israel, in order to extricate himself from his failing war effort. The resolution failed to obtain the release of the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers, failed to assure the disarmament and removal of Hezb’allah terrorists, and failed to assure the prompt insertion of outside troops with the ability and mission to disarm Hezb’allah by force if necessary.

At this writing, Hezb’allah is rapidly rearming and reconstituting itself in violation of the U.N. cease fire resolution. After only one such Israeli action Olmert then refused to order his air force to continue bombing these illegal arms shipments, despite a green light from the Bush Administration. This additional Olmert insanity, combined with the feeble U.N. Resolution 1701, will insure that the next war will begin sooner rather than later.
This is not such a bad thing. Israel can fix the systems that are broken and go in to the next battle in better shape than it went in to the last one politically and militarily. If the UN and/or the Lebanese Army does not enforce UNSCR 1559 and 1701 then they will have no complaints (it will invent them) about Israel doing the their job for them.
Olmert’s conduct of the war showed that he was an incompetent amateur given to unsubstantiated boasting which revealed his lack of honesty and credibility. His choice of Defense Minister was also a disaster. Amir Peretz, has no defense experience and even admitted knowing nothing about Hezb’allah’s fortifications. Olmert is trying to avoid an independent investigation of his conduct of the war – anything to retain power and evade responsibility.
I agree about the "unsubstantiated boasting" point. I think it was a case of his word's not matching the imagination of the Israelis. He is a politician. He should be able to explain things in a way that confuses his enemies and comforts his friends. This he did not do. I think Defense Minister Putz wanted to be defence minister because of the possibility of steering contracts to his friends. Fighting a war was the last thing on his mind.

I think Olmert has to go. Not because on balance he didn't do what needed to be done, but because he and his ministers have lost the confidence of the Israeli people.

Update: 27 Aug '06 0018z

Commenter Adam notes that Lebanon is under a UN sanctioned Israeli arms blockade. I might also note that the German ships which are supposed to replace the Israeli ships also wish to enforce the blockade.

Update: 27 Aug '06 0418z

Captain's Quarters discusses Olmerts prospects.

Some Heavy News

Iran is making progress with a heavy water moderated nuclear plant.

TEHRAN (Reuters) -
Iran has completed a new phase in its Arak heavy-water reactor plant, a presidential official said on Saturday, referring to part of Iran's atomic program which the West fears is aimed at producing bombs.

The official said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would give a speech later in the day "announcing that the heavy-water project has become operational."

Iran is building a heavy-water nuclear reactor at Arak, 120 miles southwest of the capital Tehran. The plant's plutonium by-product could be used to make atomic warheads.
Heavy water is water made with heavy hydrogen. Normal hydrogen has one proton in its nucleus. Heavy hydrogen has one proton and one neutron.

In a nuclear reactor a moderator slows down neutrons to make them easier for U235 and U238 to capture. When the U235 captures a neutron it fissions releasing energy. U238 when it captures a neutron converts to U239 which changes to Pu239 by emitting an electron. Pu239 in high enough concentration is bomb making material. It also represents 30% of the active fuel in an operating reactor.

Now why use heavy water instead of normal water which is used in most US reactors? Normal or light water reactors require enriched uranium to produce enough neutrons to function. Heavy water absorbs 600 times fewer neutrons per collision than light water. Although normal water doesn't absorb many neutrons it is still enough to require enriched fuel. A heavy water plant can operate on natural uranium containing only .7% U235.

This University of California, Berkeley site has the basics about the different reactor designs.

The advantage of a heavy water plant for Iran is that it can save its enriched uranium for a U235 type bomb. Also plutonium production is not dependent on the enrichment program so the two programs can be run in parallel.

Update: 26 Aug '06 2228z

Captain's Quarters discusses the issue at greater length with more politics and fewer technical details. Comes to similar conclusion.

Mistakes Were Made

A former Israeli general says mistakes were made.

Israel should seek to deal with Iran and Syria, "Hizbullah's parents," instead of chasing "the child who's throwing stones," a former Israel Defense Forces general said on Friday.

Speaking at a conference about the war in Lebanon entitled Thoughts after the War, former head of military intelligence Uri Saguy criticized the lack of a broader vision among Israeli leaders in handling the war and said that failures in the army's organizational and operational capacities need to be addressed urgently.
This is exactly the broad vision I expected when I wrote:Tactics, Strategy, Grand Strategy and Syria Has a Problem and Tactical Moves
He particularly slammed the government's orders to the army to capture the territory south of the Litani River 48 hours ahead of the ceasefire as useless and costly in terms of the heavy casualties sustained by the forces.
Not useless at all. It forced the UN to commit to policing all of Southern Lebanon rather than just a few km from the border. A moral victory if not an actual one. It also showed the Arabs that the Israeli army could still, after 20 years of rust, execute a time limited dash. That has deterrant value. Badly lead, poorly equipped, barely supported logistically the Israeli Army could still do the Patton thing. Think of how much better they will be as they get their problems fixed.
He also linked the IDF's deficiencies to the fact that it for the last six years it has been "busy with other things," namely the fight against Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and the West Bank.

Asked about the conflict with the Palestinians, he said a solution is possible through talks, citing that the conflict is "territorial and not cultural."
I think he is mistaken. At this time there is no territorial solution that will satisfy the Palestinians. Here is the problem:
Hizbollah and Hamas have constructed core ideologies based upon this Islamic theology of Jew hatred, which one can glean readily from their foundational documents, and subsequent pronouncements, made ad nauseum. Hamas further demonstrates openly its adherence to a central motif of Jew-hatred in Muslim eschatology—Article 7 of the Hamas Charter concludes with a verbatim reiteration of the apocalyptic hadith alluded to earlier:

“The Last Hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: `Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him’; but the tree Gharkad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985).
Apocalyptic Muslim Jew-hatred.

This is cultural all the way. Those who espouse this culture must either change their minds or be destroyed.

What Israel did was an opening gambit in the war, not a full fledged battle. More like a punitive expedition or a reconnaissance in force. I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that the Israeli public goaded Olmert into more of a war than he needed or desired to meet his politico-military objectives. This is always the great problem in democracies. They will bear a lot. However, once they feel the peace is broken, nothing but unconditional surrender of the enemy will do.

I looked at what Israeli objectives might have been given what they actually did at: The Bitter Taste of Victory and Deception and Intel Bonanza and Jabbing and Cash Flow Jihad Meets Aftermath.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Trust the Rust

Zombie has an expose' on the "Israel targets ambulances" story. The key is the rust.

Hat tip: Michele Malkin

Power Sharing

The Jerusalem Post reports that Syria is no longer sharing power with Lebanon.

ASSOCIATED PRESS BEIRUT - Syria has cited technical problems for its decision to cut power supplies to Lebanon, which was already suffering from severe electricity rationing after the outbreak of hostilities last month, Syrian and Lebanese officials said Friday.

The Syrian office for the production and transport of electricity had informed the state-run Lebanese electricity company that "it cannot ensure supplies anymore," because of technical problems with its own power grid.
Now suppose Israel offered to share electrical power with the Lebanese? That could change the balance of power in the Middle East.

The Bitter Taste of Victory

Michael Young of the newspaper Daily Star in Lebanon has a piece in Reason Magazine about the great Hizbollah victory in Lebanon.

Hezbollah beat Israel in the latest war in Lebanon, and if you have any doubts, listen to what a certified expert on defeat, Syria's President Bashar Assad, had to say:

"We tell [Israel] that after tasting humiliation in the latest battles, your weapons are not going to protect you—not your planes, or missiles, or even your nuclear bombs... The future generations in the Arab world will find a way to defeat Israel."
A few more defeats like the Israelis suffered and they will control all of Lebanon. Michael quotes a few more luminaries and pundits and then gets to the heart of the matter.
Well, since it's all settled that Hezbollah has won, let's just open a six-pack of non-alcoholic beer and drink to the health of the party's secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, the Arab world's latest Che Guevara.

But what kind of victory is this that, even by Hezbollah's unexacting standards, must qualify as a major setback? In its public appraisals of the conflict, Hezbollah has ignored what Israel did to those parts of Lebanon the party cannot claim as its own. Its cries of triumph have been focused on the stubborn resistance put up by Hezbollah combatants in south Lebanon. Nothing has been heard from party leaders about the billions of dollars of losses in infrastructure; about the immediate losses to businesses that will be translated into higher unemployment; about the long-term opportunity costs of the fighting; about the impact that political instability will have (indeed has already had) on public confidence and on youth emigration; and about the general collapse in morale that Lebanon faces.
I think Hizballah would count those results as positive if their ultimate ambition was to turn Lebanon into a Hizballah controlled state. The losses to Lebanon are not a serious concern to them if those losses advance their goal.

Then Michael goes into what Hizballah has lost.
Take the rationale for Hezbollah's rockets. For some time it has been obvious that the weapons, estimated to number between 10,000 and 15,000, were mainly there to help deter an American or Israeli attack against Iran's nuclear facilities. Nor did the Iranians distinguish between aggressors. Last May, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Rear Adm. Muhammad-Ebrahim Dehqani stated, "We have announced that wherever America does something evil, the first place that we target will be Israel." He didn't mention Hezbollah or Lebanon, but it didn't take much discernment to see that Iranian retaliation would at least partly come from across Israel's northern border.
Deterance is based on fear. Did the rockets create more fear in Israel causing the Israelis to beg for a cease fire? Just the opposite. They were demanding that the Army take Lebanon up to the Litani and the Bekaa Valley. The strongholds of Hizballah. Michael covers his reasons why the deterance is gone. His reasons focus on Lebanon.
Does that deterrence option still exist? Yes and no. Hezbollah is believed to have many more rockets in storage and its network of bunkers in south Lebanon is probably mostly intact. However, it cannot initiate a conflict without facing the political fallout of imposing new suffering on its already traumatized Shiite community. Almost a million Shiites were thrown into the streets by Israeli bombardments between July and August. Hezbollah has started distributing money to the community, but that won't pay for much of the horrendous suffering—lives lost, profitable businesses closed, self-respect gone for those without homes or livelihoods, and much else that cash handouts cannot remedy.
That I think was the crux of the war for Israel. Making Hizballah financially responsible for the shia of Lebanon. I discussed that more extensively in: Cash Flow Jihad Meets Aftermath. I believe in that piece, I estimated the number of refugees at 100,000 to 200,000. That they number close to a million emphasizes my point. The cash drain will be larger.

Michael then discusses why it will be harder for Hizballah to start the next battle. First, the shia will resent being used as cannon fodder for Iran. Second two armies will be deployed in Southern Lebanon. The Lebanese Army and the UN "Peace Keepers". They would not prevent a war. They would complicate it.

Then Michael discusses what Hizballah/Nasrallah owes Iran
Nasrallah also has accounts to settle with Iran. The regime in Tehran has not only seen its main reason for supporting Hezbollah go up in smoke in a largely futile endeavor, but must now dole out large sums of compensation money to Lebanese Shiites so the party can hold on to its base of support, even as Iran's poor complain their regime has left them by the wayside. Iran will probably pay out the money (though I've heard unconfirmed reports of delays), but of what value is this if Hezbollah cannot fire on Israel in the event of an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities? Or, to the contrary, of what value is the compensation if, by firing on Israel at Tehran's behest, Hezbollah only brings new destruction down on the heads of Shiites, who might then turn against Nasrallah?
Iran is going to lose money or prestige. Either one will be a serious blow.
Some analyses suggest Iranian officials are livid with Nasrallah for having squandered massive Iranian investment in Hezbollah. Missing from this, however, is that the party has also managed to turn the Lebanese consensus squarely against the party. Despite Saad-Ghorayeb's assertion that the balance of power will change in Lebanon, in the past week the opposite seems to have been true, as both the government and the parliamentary majority, made up of the so-called March 14 forces hostile to Syria and critical of Hezbollah, have worked to curtail any effort by Nasrallah to transform his so-called victory into political gains. Indeed, as the costs of the war are tallied, there has been a noticeable lack of enthusiasm in Lebanon to see the war as anything but a calamity. With the party itself deeply occupied with the Shiites' rehabilitation, it has not been able to reverse this mood.
The Hizballah manpower is now almost totally occupied with a task for which it is ill suited. Large scale logistics in a country with a badly broken road net. They have to supply communications, fuel, food, water, shelter, and sanitary facilities to people who are mostly used to city living (the missing areas of Beirut). All this of course costs money. However, as a terrorist organization Hizballah doesn't have access to banks. So they have to carry in cash from Iran (via Syria), which complicates their mission. Moving a lot of cash in a wild country requires a lot of armed guards. This further detracts from their available force.
So perhaps a victory it is, but in that case Hezbollah's victory is no different than most other Arab victories in recent decades: the "victory" of October 1973, where Egypt and Syria managed to cross into Israeli-held land, their land, only to be later saved from a thrashing by timely United Nations intervention; the "victory" of 1982, where Palestinian groups were ultimately expelled from West Beirut, but were proud to have stayed in the fight for three months; the Iraqi "victory" of 1991, where Saddam Hussein brought disaster on his country but still held on to power. Now we have the Hezbollah "victory" of 2006: the Israelis bumbled and blundered, but still managed to create a million refugees, to kill over 1,000 people, and to kick Lebanon's economy back several years. One dreads to imagine what Hezbollah would recognize as a military loss.
A few more Hizballah victories like this one and Hizballah will be out of business. A few more Israeli defeats like the one they suffered in Lebanon and they will control all of Lebanon. Some victory. Some defeat.

Ht tip: Instapundit

Update: 27 Aug '06 0552z

Sand Monkey discusses Michael Young.

Across the Bay discusses Michael Young.

Update: 27 Aug '06 2328z

Captain's Quarters is of the opinion Hizballah lost.