Monday, July 31, 2006

The In T View: Lebanese Bloggers on The Lebanon/Hezb'allah - Israeli Conflict: Lebanos


Beirut's Martyr's by pbo31 - Flickr


Millions of words have been written by Bloggers on the conflict between Israel and Hezb'allah/Lebanon. But what do people really know? Those in the United States, protected by the geographical barriers of two vast oceans, lack from the immediacy of this war. To know a conflict is to truly grasp its immediacy and intimacy.

Thus we sought out, through a series of varying questions, the opinions of those affected by this war, first the Israeli bloggers and now their Lebanese counterparts, their homeland under attack by Israel. The Lebanese, a very hospitable people, coping together in very inhospitable times. Will there ever be peace in Lebanon?

In this In T View we present Lebanos, who maintains a strong presence in the Lebanese blogging community, appearing in such blogs as: Kadmous, Hamid Aouad, Sasar, Photo Lesson, Roula Awach, and ZouNazar.


MG: Why do you think Hezb'allah acted now?

Lebanos: Alan M. Dershowitz, a Jewish I presume, the Professor of Law at Harvard and the author of "Preemption" wrote today at jpost.com that Israel was attacked from areas that it does not occupy. And that last sentence says a lot about the situation. Hizbullah indeed attacked inside the Israeli borders, but Israel is occupying a 40 km2 of silver land, sending it's warplanes and sea destroyers to Lebanese territories, prisoning 3 Lebanese captives from earlier operations inside Israel lead by the Palestinians, and refusing to hand out the mines maps to the UN. Those points I stated above are the reasons which Hizbullah is exploiting to keep on it's political agenda, if any.

But (I) read again some lines from your interview with an Israeli citizen called "Amechad". Amechad answers to your question and says that Historian Dr. Michael Oren, another Jewish I presume, senior fellow of the Shalem Center, has written a convincing argument in favor of invading Syria. Not out of joy but out of necessity. Syria and Iran are arming Hizbollah so that they can murder our children.

So Israel, knowing that Hizbullah is merely a tool, or an entity financed and armed by Syria and Iran, choose to destroy Lebanon, the only democratic country in the Mideast, with entirely moderate groups and elites who want only to live in peace and harmony with the rest of the free world. Choosing to send us back to violence and counter violence, after freeing us from the most rogue occupation in 30 years: Syrian occupation.

Hizbullah created 1982 after the Israeli invasion, and since then they launched numerous attacks against the Israeli army. But year 2000, Israel left Lebanon. Syria then feeling that the heat is coming later on her to leave the country as well, supported the idea that Israel is still occupying a silver land called Shebaa farms. Thus Hizbullah under the slogan "Lebanese resistance" made it clear that they will not lay arms until Shebaa farms is liberated and the Lebanese prisoners are released from the Israeli jails.

In 2005, the Lebanese people, sensing that the international community is supporting them, specially the US, went in a one and half million demonstration against the Syrian occupation. Knowing that there is no need to any Syrian existence after the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon.

Without firing one bullet, and after constant demonstrations, the Syrian army left humiliated Lebanon after 30 years of occupation. Israel in July 2006 with the silence of the same international community destroyed Lebanon.

Did we give Hizbullah any more alternatives. Israel still occupy a part of my country and still has Lebanese prisoners and still violating our skies and seas, and the international community wants us to disarm Hizbullah and lead us to civil war. Is that an alternative? What act is left to Hizbullah and to us the Lebanese?

MG: Some would say, Lebanon is held hostage by the actions of Hezb'allah. Can you give us your opinion on this?

Lebanos: Lebanon is not held hostage by the actions of Hizbullah ONLY. This is half of the truth. Lebanon is held hostage by Hizbullah, Israel, Syria, Iran and the Arabs, specially the Saudi Arabia.

Israel and Syria are stopped by a ceasefire agreement signed 1973 which prevented them resuming the militarily actions on their OWN territories. Israel made one mistake: they forgot to include Lebanon's territory in this truce. Therefore Lebanon was the hostage, the battlefield in 32 years now. No bullet fired from Israeli-Syrian border since then. That is why we are not surprised to see both the Syrian army and the Israeli army flexing their muscles over this battlefield.

Iran followed the war games after the Islamic revolution lead by Khomeini, a revolution exported to Lebanon first due to the free open passage to an occupied Lebanon by both Syria and Israel. The receiver of this importation was obvious, the Shiaa Lebanese.

Saudi Arabia, the extreme Sunni Muslim regime followed the stream in defending the Sunni gains in the Arabic world, and fighting the Shiaas revolution, fearing a revolt by the Shiaas huge population in Saudi itself. The revolution exportation winnings in Lebanon meant to the corrupted Saudian regime one thing: our turn is coming. So they sided against Hizbullah.

And what this hostage can do against his kidnappers: wait and see. Maybe the international community and the US in particular can understand that we the hostage can do nothing. Instead we got the current crazy war.

MG: How has the Conflict personally affected you?

Lebanos: Like any human being during a war. Very sad and very frustrated. I feel helpless, specially when I see those chattered bodies of the kids who has nothing to do with this madness. I feel very desperate to read on the Internet that there is human beings expressing themselves like no human beings, justifying the killings of unarmed kids, stating that it's necessary to create pain to let those on the other side to understand.

Squeeze yourself in the arm and then tell me how much you can hold without releasing of pain. Imagine a piece of a 500 kg bomb is hitting your kid, your wife or your mother.

I am very angry because everybody knows that Lebanon and the Lebanese could do nothing against all this. We are a nation coming from a 30 years of different occupations, alone trying to build our country to regain our place on the world map. Instead everybody by silence or cooperation or bombing is smashing our dreams for a just free world where every nation live in peace and harmony. We never hated just to hate, we never been angry just for the sake of angriness, but to seek justice and freedom. What you think is happening now with our dreams, why destroying the love and lounge for life, what are they planting in our hearts.

MG: Does it take a special quality to be a Lebanese? You've been wracked by civil war, occupied by by foreign powers, seen a diaspora of your peoples... Do you ever say to yourself, "Oh God, this is enough for me, I'm out of here?"

Lebanos: NEVER tired, never giving up. Come again to this interview when this war ends and read these coming words: We will come again on our feet and we will build again our country. There is no power nor silence which can destroy our will or take our resignation to give up. This is not the first war launched on us. This is not the first occupation, first the Palestinians, then the Syrians and the Israelis. Why or how do you think we survived those 30 years of wars and occupations. We cant afford to loose this hope. We mastered the art of survive as our historians told us.

And I will tell you why. Because we are a nation who never asked or made a war. We love life. We love to live in peace. We love to love the beauty and the art. We make wonders in peace. We have proofs that we are a very great peaceful nations. Our diaspora and citizens sit on the top of huge companies, we have presidents with Lebanese roots, NASA scientists, prime ministers, Nobel prize winner, and the world is full of Lebanese successful in their jobs and places.

As the Jamaican journalist, Ian Boyne has said yesterday : " It's a pity that a country which has contributed so much to civilisation is being destroyed through an overdose of fanaticism and Great Power excesses. The first law school in history was located in Beirut by Ad 196. It had a depository of written constitutions where the oldest constitutions of the Roman Empire were safeguarded. The Phoenicians invented the alphabet, introduced the institution of the senate and by the tenth century BC had developed written constitutions which Aristotle cited as the model for all states. Jesus preached His message of peace to Southern Lebanon.

As we told the Syrians before when they left our land, again we tell Israel: We want to live in peace. Leave our country alone, respect our nation, don't violate our sea land sky, let us rebuild our relations based on mutual respect to our interests and rights, respect each other strive for life and prosperity. Stop the killings. Lets embrace the path for peace.

MG: So what's your biggest complaint with the Lebanese government's handling of this crisis?

Lebanos: Do you know that the majority of the Lebanese government consists of ministers belongs to political parties which cooperated with the Syrian occupation during the last 30 years. And those same political parties cooperated with the Israeli occupation in 1982-1983.


Snowy Sunset, Laklouk, Lebanon - by LouisL - Flickr


MG says: Our thanks go out to Lebanos.


Sunday, July 30, 2006

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: Mr "Dry Bones", Yaakov Kirschen


Bluebeat by Artsiamia - Flickr


Millions of words have been written by bloggers on the conflict between Israel and Hezb'allah/Lebanon. But what do people really know? Those in the United States, protected by the geographical barriers of two great oceans, lack from the immediacy of this war. To know a conflict is to truly grasp its immediacy and intimacy.

Thus we sought out, through a series of varying questions, the opinions of those affected by this war, the Israeli bloggers, their homeland subjected to uncontrolled missile attacks and barrages, damage and destruction, lives lost, innocents dead, and a Israeli response to the Hezb'allah threat by bombings and incursions into Lebanon to seek out the purveyors of this latest round of Mideast madness.

In this In T View we present Yaakov Kirschen aka Mr. Dry Bones, who has had a distinguished career as an Illustrator/Artist with Cracked Magazine and Playboy, the author of The Green Testament Book, and a Cartoonist, whose popular strip Dry Bones appears in the Jerusalem Post. Mr. Kirschen or "Bones" as he likes to be called, moved to Israel in 1971 and blogs at the Dry Bones Blog, winner of several awards including Best Jewish/Israeli blog.

MG: Could you tell us what sustains you during these times of crisis in Israel?

Yaakov Kirschen: I am sustained by the fact that the country is unified, divisions between left and right have disappeared and we have drawn together as we fight for our survival. This is a just and righteous action.

MG: How does your routine or perception change during an event like this? Do you become a news junky, call frequently to check on your family members and friends, worry a lot, spend more time with your loved ones?

Yaakov Kirschen: I get a lot of info from blogs etc. watch the constant TV coverage, etc.

MG: What would you as an Israeli like to say to the world about the necessity of this war?

Yaakov Kirschen: If you don't understand by now, then you probably never will.

MG: So what's your biggest complaint with the Omert government's handling of this crisis?

Yaakov Kirschen: I don't have any complaints. Politics and debate are for after it's over. Right now we're fighting or sitting in bomb shelters or watching those who are on TV.

MG: One thing Israel would seem to need is a good anti-missile system. Should the Israeli government have made the acqusition of such a system a stronger priority before this confict?

Yaakov Kirschen: The War was thrust upon us. We could not wait.

MG: If you had the chance to watch any of the international coverage of the war like CNN, BBC, or Fox, do you think their coverage has been fair and objective?

Yaakov Kirschen: I am not watching the usually anti-Israel biased TV news media. I do listen to U.S. radio talk shows (over the internet)

MG says: Our thanks go out to Yaakov.


Friday, July 28, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Outlaw Mike


Siren's Beauty by Gavin Mackintosh - Flickr

Generally, I In T View bloggers, journalists, writers, human rights advocates, and soldiers, but this time I thought I would expand the horizons a bit and In T View the readers of of one of the most popular and beloved Mideast and Iraqi blogs, Iraq The Model, and let them sound off, share their views, about ITM and Iraq.

Iraq The Model comes complete with a strong and loyal readership and a feisty crew of articulate commenters offering their thoughts on Omar's and Mohammed's evaluation of events in their country, the Iraqi conflict, politics, terrorism, Islam, and the actions of the Coalition Forces.


When you think of Belgium, you think of Chocolates, European Bureaucracy, and Outlaw Mike. In this In T View, we present one of Belgium's premiere bloggers, Michael C. from the very intriguing Down East blog. Take it away, Outlaw Mike....


MG: Hi Michael, how did you become aware of Iraq The Model and decide to comment there?

Michael: When OIF started in March 2003 I was devouring anything I could find about Iraq - I guess I felt the toppling of SH was a pivotal moment in history, and that the attempt to install democracy in the ME by force was quite litterally history in the making. I don't know exactly how I stumbled upon ITM, but the way I was scouting for Iraq news it had to happen anyway. And actually, it found them not long after they started, somewhere in October. I guess via Salam Pax, whom I had been reading since just after OIF kicked off.

MG: Are you as optimistic about Iraq now, as when you first started reading and commenting at ITM?

Michael: I'm still quite optimistic about the way things develop in Iraq. But I have come to see it as "just" a focal point - a battlefield if you will - in what has become a global struggle between The West and the Islamic World.

MG: Did you find that ITM was better when Ali was involved with the blog?

Michael: Frankly, I don't really notice that much difference. That is not meant as an insult towards Ali, because honestly, as for style, content and political leaning (if you could call it that way) I don't think one can discern major differences between ITM and Ali's blog. I'm very sorry they had (have?) that conflict between them and I hope they get it resolved in due time.

MG: There have been criticisms directed towards ITM and the brothers that they are too Pro-American or American Agents, Working for the CIA, not really Iraqis or located in Iraq, etc. How do you respond to this?

Michael : It's fucking nonsense. Look, and I must stress now that I am NOT trying to flatter Americans here. I would really, really like to stress that. Anyone who looks at American history and US involvement in global politics must acknowledge that the US overwhelmingly acts as a "force of the good". It's as simple as that. I can discern only two "minor" US involvements in other countries' business I would label as "imperialistic". That's the war with Spain in 1898 and the US's seizure of Mexican land somewhere in - I would have to look that up - 1836 or something.
For everything else, we should thank God on our bare knees the US played the part of the "goodies". You refuse to acknowledge that, you're STUPID. Crazy. Nuts. Ignorant. An idiot. Whatever. So, if as a rational human being you state publicly you agree with US policy, does that make you a US agent? A stooge? Nope. If a guy shows you a blackboard with 2 + 2 = 4 on and you agree, are you a yes-nodder? Of course not. There's no denying the obvious.

Of course, should US foreign policy begin to resemble, say, French, Russian or Chinese foreign policy, a person with his head screwed on the right way could not remain adamantly pro-US either.

MG: Has it been a learning experience reading ITM? You likely know more about Iraqi politics now, than you did before reading the Brothers' Blog, but have they also given you insights into other facets of Iraqi Society such as culture and history?

Michael : Politics yes. I have learned about the parties, the blocs, possible coalitions, personalities. Culture and history not that much. But I guess they never meant it that way. Zeyad and Hammorabi occasionally posted very elaborate pieces on especially history, e.g. on Iraqi tribes or the Badr battle.

MG: Should the US have involved itself in Iraq? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?

Michael : In my opinion, absolutely. Something had to happen. If anything, the stakes are much clearer now. The enemy has come out of the woodwork. The masks are off. The left has allied itself met radical Islam. OIF has forced everybody to show their true colors. Last but not least: Iraq and its aftermath may not have made the States many friends - but its enemies are RESPECTING AND FEARING IT, that's for sure.

MG: Does the World Media (Television, Radio, and Newspapers) present an accurate view of what's happening in Iraq?

Michael : It's a disgrace. Before I discovered ITM, I saved hundreds of small items of "good news" from small media outlets on my harddisk. Still have them. As I learned about a plethora of small positive developments (re-opening the railway connections to neighboring countries, a Coke factory that started up, a myriad of satellite dishes springing up, a sudden glut of small companies, wages raised five- or tenfold). I grew ever more flabbergasted why I could never hear, read or see this in my traditional news outlets. Did I know much, back in summer 2003, that three years later it would STILL be the same. During World War II, Churchill sometimes complained about the BBC's biased or excessively negative coverage. If Churchill would live today and would watch, say, CNN, he would order the SAS to kill Ted Turner.

MG: Which ITM Brother -- Omar or Mohammed -- would you like to give a hug to or have a beer with and why?

Michael : Hell, both of them of course! No particular preference. But I would have to pass the beer. I can't drink a single drop of alcohol. Even small quantities give me violent migraine. Which is why I am always sober.

MG: On February 20, 1258 A.D., the Mongols overran Baghdad, plundered and destroyed the city, and conducted a massacre of the residents that claimed 800,000 lives. Things don't look as bleak for the Iraqis now, still the topic of an Iraqi Civil War is being bandied about in the Media every day, and I have to ask: Is Iraq currently involved in a Civil War?

Michael : It certainly isn't. A civil war supposes there are competing governments, political factions strong enough to equip their own armies. Like the Royalists against the Parliamentarians in Britain's Civil war, or Unionists vs Confederalists in the American civil war. I see none of that in Iraq. It is certain though that those people living in "hot" areas suffer an awful lot, and I am very much dismayed by that.

MG: Do you have a Favorite Poster at ITM, who you like or admire, and can you tell us why?

Michael : I like all the vets on my side of the fence - the people I learned to know right from the beginning. But there's one I'd call my pal above all: Jeffrey from NY. Like me, he's to some degree nuts, and this element more than anything else makes me feel like he's a kindred soul.

MG: One of my escapist fantasies is to walk the length and breadth of Iraq from Southern Kurdisitan down to Mosul, though due to my blue eyes and practically albino skin, they'd likely be using me for target practice before I made it out of Mosul, certainly I'd be in trouble in Fallujah LOL... When conditions become safer for travel in Iraq, would you like to visit the country?

Michael : Honestly, I don't think so. Maybe once, to visit Samarra or Ur. But it's too hot. I don't like southern countries. Never visited Spain, e.g., nor do I intend to. I have a knack for the UK though and especially Scotland. I'd also like to visit nordic countries and if I have an escapist phantasy it's that I really, REALLY, would like to visit the Faeroer islands.

MG: The Recent Loss of Omar's, Mo's, and Ali's Brother-in-Law elicited many outporings of sympathy from ITM's readers and commenters, similar to if the readers/commenters had lost a member of their own extended family. When you post at ITM, is there a sense of being part of an extended family?
Has a bond been established, both between the posters themselves and Omar and Mo?

Michael : There's some kind of bond, allright. People like Louise Shah, Andrea/Minnesota, Jeffrey, thewiz, Diane C., Lee C.... even though I am almost not commenting anymore - but that's for technical reasons. On one of my two puters I'm not even able to open up the comment's section. On the other one, on which I am only for a couple of hours a week, I am experiencing problems though.

MG: Having come to know Omar and Mo through their writings these last few years, what is the one thing, you would like to say to them?

Michael : I truly admire their cool (Allah knows I can't keep my cool like them) and their decent language (I am sometimes an itsybitsy pottymouthed once in awhile). I admire their courage. In the worst case, the conflict between the West and the Islamic world will erupt in flames globally and factions from over there who were initially with us may choose for sectarian and ethnic bonds instead - kind of like many Germans who were not Nazis nevertheless carried on to fight for Hitler as the Allies intensified military action against Nazi Germany. If this conflict intensifies - and I fear that in Europe a civil war is looming at the distant horizon - I hope people like me and people like Omar and Mohammed and Ali will never be pitted against each other. I bear them personally NO ILL WILL, but I'm having the greatest difficulty to keep neutral and calm while Islam is increasingly imposing itself in Europe.

MG Says: Thanks to Michael!


Thursday, July 27, 2006

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: Rahel From Elms In The Yard



Darren by Dan Stringle - Flickr

Millions of words have been written by Bloggers on the conflict between Israel and Hezb'allah/Lebanon. But what do people really know? Those in the United States, protected by the geographical barriers of two great oceans, lack from the immediacy of this war. To know a conflict is to truly grasp its immediacy and intimacy.

Thus we sought out, through a series of varying questions, the opinions of those affected by this war, the Israeli bloggers, their homeland subjected to uncontrolled missile attacks and barrages, damage and destruction, lives lost, innocents dead, and a Israeli response to the Hezb'allah threat by bombings and incursions into Lebanon to seek out the purveyors of this latest round of Mideast madness.

In this In T View we present Rahel Jaskow from the nice Elms In The Yard blog. Rahel, a native of Jerusalem, is also a singer, whose CD Day Of Rest won the Just Plain Folks award for Best Ethnic Album of 2001.

MG: Do you feel that Israel was justified in attacking Lebanon? And could you tell us why?

Rahel: I'd like to turn this question on its head for a moment. Does anyone think that Hamas and Hizbullah are justified in their recent unprovoked attacks on Israeli cities? (Remember that Israel withdrew from Gaza last year and from southern Lebanon six years ago.) Those who would answer yes to that question are the same ones who feel that Israel has no right to exist ... which is precisely what Hamas and Hizbullah, directed by Syria and Iran, are trying to accomplish.

Now for the question as you asked it: yes, I think that Israel's attack on Lebanon was absolutely justified. What else should any sovereign country do when hostile states, or terrorist groups that have received sanctuary and sponsorship from those same enemy states -- and are acting on their behalf -- engage in unprovoked attacks upon its civilian population?

MG: What about those who would say, the real culprits in this conflict, the ones who are the puppet masters of Hez'Ballah and Hamas are Syria and Iran... So why isn't Israel dealing with them first?

Rahel: I am not a military analyst. That said, perhaps Israel is sending a warning to Iran and Syria by attacking Hizbullah first. Then again, the fact that the American Secretary of State and several European foreign ministers have begun to visit would indicate that the US and Europe also have something to say on the matter ... but I'm not a political analyst, either.

MG: Does it take a special quality to be an Israeli? You seem to be surrounded by groups that want to drive you into the sea, subjected to bombings and rocket attacks, participate frequently in wars - Does it ever get to the point where you say, I've had enough, get me out of here? In other words, what keeps you in Israel?

Rahel: I don't know whether it takes a special quality to be an Israeli because we all come from so many different places. Nevertheless, I can name a few special qualities that Israelis have: courage, hutzpah (daring, nerve), humor, inventiveness, resilience and a stubborn resistance to our enemies' desire that we lie down and die. In the Bible, God calls the Jews a "stiff-necked people." It is clear that God was exasperated with us then, but I like to think that there was also a good deal of affection in those words, since that very "stiff-neckedness" has helped us survive and even prosper against overwhelming odds for millennia.

Yet for me, this conflict is not and has never been about being specifically Israeli. Nor is it about land. For me, this conflict is about the fact that we are Jews, and about the way certain people and groups respond to our presence on the planet. They do not want us here, and to put it extremely mildly, throughout history they have not exactly kept their feelings a secret. Although there was no Jewish state from the year 70 to the year 1948, anti-Jewish persecution in its various forms continued relentlessly during all that time. So what's happening now is nothing new.

I'll give you an example: Every year, we Jews celebrate the Passover festival, which marks our liberation from slavery in Egypt. At the seder, the ritual meal that begins this seven-day festival, we recite the Haggadah, a small book which recalls our slavery and liberation and which is approximately two thousand years old. One passage in the Haggadah reads: "It has not happened only once that someone tried to destroy us. Rather, in every single generation there are those who try to destroy us, but God saves us from them." Those words are from two thousand years ago, and even the briefest look at Jewish history will show you how true they are.

You ask: "Does it ever get to the point where you say, I've had enough, get me out of here?" Well, I suppose I could leave Israel, though it would break my heart to do it. But I read your question in a deeper way: Can one opt out of being a Jew? Externally, yes. Plenty of Jews have done so throughout history, for a variety of reasons. There's an old Yiddish saying: It's hard to be a Jew. So we realize that, too. But we have still another saying: When we forget that we are Jewish, our enemies are quick to remind us. For myself, I don't think that we can ever truly opt out, because it's not about where we live. It's about who we are. And we can never truly stop being who we are.

You ask what keeps me in Israel. Well, Jews have a soul-deep, unbroken connection to the Land of Israel. For example, we are about to observe the fast of Tisha be-Av (the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av), which marks our exile by the Babylonians in 586 BCE and by the Romans in 70 CE. The Ninth of Av is the saddest and most painful day in our calendar, and in fact, we begin certain mourning practices three weeks in advance. The fact that we still observe this period of mourning two thousand years after the event says something profound about our connection to Israel. But of course, it's not just about sadness and mourning. That's only one manifestation of the connection between Jews and the Land of Israel, and I mentioned it because it is only a few days away. There are plenty of joyous manifestations of this connection, too, both in the Jewish calendar and in my own life.


Kate Elston 3 by Milktard - Flickr

MG: One thing Israel would seem to need is a good anti-missile system. Should the Israeli government have made the acqusition of such a system a stronger priority before this confict?

Rahel: We had a successful test of the Arrow missile some time ago, and we have deployed batteries of Patriot missiles. But since this doesn't seem to be helping the north very much right now, then yes, I would like to see our government do more in that department.

MG: How does your routine or perception change during a crisis like this? Do you become a news junky, call frequently to check on your family members and friends, worry a lot, spend more time with your loved ones?

Rahel: My routine hasn't really changed at all because I live in Jerusalem, which is nowhere near the front lines of this conflict. In fact, I'd like to suggest that you interview as many people who are living on the confrontation line as you can in order to get a more balanced picture. About being a news junkie: Since I translate news from the Hebrew press several times a week, I have to deal quite closely with the news whether I want to or not. Also, since I ride the bus, and since Israeli bus drivers turn up the volume of the bus radio when the hourly news broadcast begins, I'll hear the news if I'm on a bus. But other than that, I try not to watch it too much. I feel that it is important to be aware of what's going on, but within healthy boundaries. Yes, I worry. Some of the soldiers out there are my friends' children. And yes, I have been in greater connection with friends and family since the war began. Thank you very much. I hope this helps. Best, Rahel

MG Says: Our thanks go out to Rahel.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: Chayyei Sarah


cells. seed and thread by Moon Rhythm - Flickr


Millions of words have been written by Bloggers on the conflict between Israel and Hezb'allah/Lebanon. But what do people really know? Those in the United States, protected by the geographical barriers of two vast oceans, lack from the immediacy of this war. To know a conflict is to truly grasp its immediacy and intimacy.

Thus we sought out, through a series of varying questions, the opinions of those affected by this war, the Israeli bloggers, their homeland subjected to uncontrolled missile attacks and barrages, damage and destruction, lives lost, innocents dead, and a Israeli response to the Hezb'allah threat by bombings and incursions into Lebanon to seek out the purveyors of this latest round of Mideast hostilities.

In this In T View we present noted Israeli blogger Sarah from the very fine blog, Chayyei Sarah. This In T View took place on July 24, 2006.


MG: Could you tell us what sustains you during these times of crisis in Israel?

Sarah: Well, I'm dealing with it on different levels.

Perhaps the best question is not what "sustains" me, but how I'm managing not to lose my mind with worry. First, I decided to limit how much news I consume. Rather than check the news online every hour, as I usually do, I now look at it once in the morning and once in the evening. I still check all the same news sources: Ha'aretz, NYTimes, CNN, and various blogs in both Israel and other Middle Eastern countries, but now I do it more seldom. That way, if anything major happens I know within 12 hours, but I'm not stressing all the time.

The other way I cope is by throwing myself into my work. Let's just say I've been extremely productive in the past week!

I spend a lot of time praying, and thinking, and worrying -- worrying about the casualties on both sides, worried that Hezballah might be found to have missiles that could reach Jerusalem, where I live, worried about Israel's image, worried about whether there could have been another way, worried about who went wrong, and when, and worried about . . . well, everything.

MG: What would you as an Israeli like to say to the world about the necessity of this war?

Sarah: The residents of Northern Israel have been living under Katyusha fire for years. In the last 15 years, over 2,200 Katyushas have rained onto the town of Kiryat Shmona alone. So when people say that Israel should have more restraint, I would like to remind them that Israel has been showing restraint for years. The recent kidnapping of soldiers and strikes by Hezballah are not a strange and isolated incident; they were the straw that broke the camels back.

In an ideal world, the Lebanese government would have been strong enough to reign in Hezballah itself, to prevent attacks against Israel and, failing that, to be strong enough to negotiate a peaceful solution through diplomacy. Unfortunately, the government is not currently strong enough to do that. I understand that Lebanon has been through terrible crises of its own lately, and is still trying to get back on its feet. But whatever the reason, and however good the excuse may be, the fact is that Israel has to protect itself, since Lebanon is not strong enough (yet) to maintain control and peaceful relations.

As I recently indicated on my blog, I am not at all happy that we are harming so many Lebanese civilians. Rather, I'm terribly sad that we have to, that we have no choice.

MG: Do you think it's an accurate assessment to say, that while Israel appears to be winning the actual war, they are losing the propaganda battle?

Sarah: Yes. As I recently saw it expressed in Time magazine, Israel may have no choice, but by killing so many civilians, there's no way we can come out looking good.

I cannot speak for the populations of other areas, such as Europe, but I keep a close eye on American media. Americans -- or, at least, American journalists-- have an interesting idiosyncracy of always rooting for the underdog, whether they share the same values or not. It is difficult to tell how much of that attitude reflects the ideas of the masses.

Israel has made some grave errors in its policies in Gaza and the West Bank, but in the minds of many people around the world, the only way for Israel to be a good guy at this point is to become the underdog. I think there is some truth to the Jews' paranoid idea that the only way the world likes us is when we are dying. Give us some power, and they can't stand us -- even if we are right. That may be a paranoid outlook, but that doesn't make it inaccurate.

I'd also like to say that my own particular position is that I don't care whether the rest of the world, especially Europe, thinks we are right or wrong -- the "rest of the world" are the same people who persecuted us for 2,000 years -- but I do care very much whether God thinks we are right or wrong. I pray every day that He guides our decision makers, and that whatever we do is ultimately for the best. I do not know whether Israel's leaders are wise, but I hope that with God's help they are, at the very least, stumbling upon wise actions.


Bahai Gardens Above Haifa by Ark 47 - Flickr


MG: Do you feel that the U.S. shackles Israel? Does it let Israel operate at full capacity against terrorist groups like Hezb'alla and Hamas?

Sarah: That is a very difficult question to answer. Israel has often done things that displeases America. We're not exactly a puppet of the West . . . not exactly. Still, there is no question that Israel would like to stay on America's "good side," and may otherwise act more forcefully.

I realize that it may be very difficult for our neighbors to believe this, but I do believe that one thing that "checks" Israel's aggressiveness is the will of its people. Most Israelis are extremely sensitive about NOT killing innocent people, NOT creating "collateral damage." There is a tremendous population of Israelis who very much see Arabs, including Palestinians, as regular people who just want to live productive lives, and we ourselves are conscious of not wanting to hurt other people. Like I said, Israel has made grave errors, but the overall feeling I get from most Israelis (and I encounter all sorts of Israelis) is that they really just want to be left alone, and would gladly withdraw to the 1967 borders and mind their own business if only they knew with absolute certainty that they, too, would be left alone to live productive lives. Unfortunately, as evidenced by Hezballah, we have no such promise.

MG: If you had the chance to watch any of the international coverage of the conflict like CNN, BBC, or Fox, do you think their coverage has been fair and objective?

Sarah: I get all my news online. However I have many friends in America who watch CNN, and they tell me that it is grossly biased in favor of Lebanon, painting Israel as the bully who is indiscriminately killing people -- without providing enough context to explain why this war is happening. They also do not report, for example, in giving over the casualties statistics, that one of the reasons so few Israelis have died is that Israel long ago invested in early-warning systems, and bomb shelters for all residents. And also, that the North has basically emptied out. The low number of Israeli casualties is not due to a lack of effort on Hezballah's part, but because Israelis were extremely prepared for attack.


Woman by Nimbu - Flickr


MG: Will there ever be peace in the Middle East in our lifetime?

Sarah: Oh, how I wish I could say yes! I dream of someday renting an RV and traveling to Beirut, to Baghdad . . . I have been to the Israel-Lebanon border, and it is so beautiful up there . . . . surely Lebanon must be gorgeous. The mountains and the sea do not end where the border does.

But, no, barring what we call in Judaism a "revealed miracle," I do not believe that there will be peace between Israel and its neighbors in our lifetime. My personal feeling is that it will take approximately 300 years. I hope I am wrong. And maybe I am. Who would have imagined, 50 years ago, that Israel would have working (more or less) peace treaties with Jordan and Egypt? It may be a cold peace, but it's better than nothing.

I cannot give any estimates about when there will be peace BETWEEN the Arab states. That is for you guys to figure out, though unfortunately I don't think Israel will be left alone until the Arabs make peace, real peace, between themselves.

I wonder, also, when you say "peace," what does that mean to you? I have heard it said that one reason there is no peace is that we define it differently, that to the Arab states, peace with Israel means "we won't attack you any more, we'll put up with the fact that you are there," and to Israelis it means "we'll promote tourism between our countries and form mutually beneficial trade agreements." When you say "peace," do you mean "we'll agree to swallow the bitter pill of Israel's existence," or do you mean "I want to see Tel Aviv on my next vacation"?

(Most Israelis would do practically anything to get the former, but in an ideal world it would be the latter.)

Thanks very much for giving me a chance to express my views...

Thanks,
Sarah
aka Chayyei Sarah

MG Says: Our thanks go out to Sarah.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: Amechad


Lions of Judah by ForestForTrees - Flickr


Millions of words have been written by Bloggers on the conflict between Israel and Hezb'allah/Lebanon. But what do people really know? Those in the United States, protected by the geographical barriers of two great oceans, lack from the immediacy of this war. To know a conflict is to truly grasp its immediacy and intimacy.

Thus we sought out, through a series of varying questions, the opinions of those affected by this war, the Israeli bloggers, their homeland subjected to uncontrolled missile attacks and barrages, damage and destruction, lives lost, innocents dead, and a Israeli response to the Hezb'allah threat by bombings and incursions into Lebanon to seek out the purveyors of this latest round of Mideast hostilities.

In this In T View we present Amechad, an Israeli blogger who lives in Jerusalem and blogs at Am Echad.


MG: Why do you think Hezb'allah acted now?

Amechad: I am not an expert on Lebanese society so I must state, first off, that my responses are both influenced by articles that I have read in the past week and my own studies of the Middle East and my own sense. Nevertheless, in 2000, Israel unilaterally withdrew its forces from southern Lebanon. It had been in Lebanon because of the rockets that were then being shot at homes and gardens and families and children in Northern Israel. Yet, most Israelis, who only want peace for their children, opposed Israel's presence in Lebanon because it meant that they and their children had to wage war instead of prepare peace. So, in 2000 Israel voluntarily and unilaterally left Lebanon. This was seen by Hizbollah as a victory and they immediately moved in to Southern Lebanon.

I remember in 2001 standing in northern Israel, on the Good Fence "the border between Israel and Lebanon “ and looking into Lebanon “without the need for binoculars“ and being able to see yellow Hizbollah flags flying over Lebanese apartment buildings “where ordinary Lebanese live. I had previously been in the same spot before the Israeli withdrawal and the IDF presence kept Hizbollah away from both Lebanese and Israeli children. But, the IDF withdrew, hoping it would bring peace. Instead, it brought war.

Dr. Martin Kramer, formerly of the Tel Aviv University's Dayan Center for Middle East Centers, said in Haâaretz over the weekend that Hizbollah, basking in the illusion that it defeated Israel, made a strategic mistake and underestimated Israeli reaction. Why they chose to shoot Katushya rockets on Israeli civilians in cities such as Haifa, Safed, and Tiberias last week and not last month or last year is not something I can answer. But, sadly, the simple answer is simply that they do not recognize Israel's right to exist and they want to annihilate us and our children for simply living in our own homeland.

MG: How does your routine or perception change during a crisis like this? Do you become a news junky, call frequently to check on your family members and friends, worry a lot, spend more time with your loved ones?

Amechad: I live in Jerusalem and luckily Jerusalem is one of the safest cities (at least from rockets) in the world. It is assumed that Hizbollah will not attack Jerusalem for fear of hitting the mosques that sit on the Temple Mount or other Muslim sites for fear of inter-Arab retaliation. It is no secret that the Arab world is fractured and even Saudi Arabia and other Arab states have condemned their Arab brethren. Yet, publicly, by condemning Israel they do not serve to stop the violence as they have created a culture of martyrdom and want to eradicate the Jews instead of seeking peace.

Nevertheless, as Jerusalem is relatively far from the front lines, I have spent most of my time reading analyses, trying to explain Israel's position and checking the news. As an American immigrant, most of my family is in the United States and, besides my wife and a handful of distant cousins, my family is not in Israel. Yet that poses a difficult challenge as the images on television portray a danger both in Israel and in Lebanon that is distorted and not reflective of reality. I have spent my time trying to convince foreigners who claim to stand with Israel to not cancel their trips to Israel, which is the ultimate abandonment with Israel.

MG: Americans, other than when natural disasters strike, have no concept of what a shelter/bomb shelter is and living in one of them - if you've spent time in a shelter, could you describe the experience for us?

Amechad: As noted above, I have not had the misfortune of being in a shelter being in Jerusalem. Nevertheless, from what I understand, it is quite difficult because it is incredibly difficult to explain to innocent children why they are being attacked for simply trying to live their lives in peace. Sadly, we face an enemy who doesn't fight our soldiers. Rather, they deliberately target and murder innocent children in their homes and gardens.


060420-17192 (Statue, Lebanon) by Light Guard - Flickr


MG: Does the world have the wrong impression of Israel? Do you feel that you're misunderstood?

Amechad: The State of Israel has always placed the pursuit of peace as its highest goal, along with the return of the Jewish nation to its historic homeland “where there has been a continual Jewish presence for over 3,000 years." The State of Israel does not want and has never held any territorial ambitions in Lebanon and has always desired peace with her Arab neighbors.

Sadly, however, the world wants to deny the Jewish nation the right every other nation has “self determination." Jews have lived in Israel for thousands of years before Christianity or Islam existed. The Jewish people have lived in Israel, giving the world morality, monotheism, a system of universal ethics, along with science and technology and arts and culture, long before Europe and America were settled. Yet “whether due to ignorance or Antisemitism, I do not know “ much of the world, particularly those in Europe although increasingly also in America, wants to deny to Israel basic human rights that the rest of the world has. There is much misconception about Israel, the only state in the Middle East that grants Arab women the right to vote and the only real democracy in the region.

Unfortunately, too, Israelis are not always the best at communicating their message. We often act tough and talk tough and sometimes that is misunderstood and misinterpreted by an outside world that doesn't know the facts about Israel. Yet, even the most tough-talking Israeli wants only one thing: peace. Yet, peace can not come until the Arab nations recognize the Jewish people's right to self-determination in our homeland. In fact, the word Jew or Yehudiâ in Hebrew comes from Yehuda, part of the biblical heartland of Israel. The Jewish people lived in Israel even before receiving the Hebrew Bible and practicing Judaism. Peace can not come until the Arab people loves their children and lays down their arms and ends their quest for tyranny and starts pursuing peace and loving liberty.

MG Should Israel invade Syria, or are you worried about Syrian missiles and Iran's response?

Amechad: Historian Dr. Michael Oren, senior fellow of the Shalem Center, has written a convincing argument in favor of invading Syria. Not out of joy but out of necessity. Syria and Iran are arming Hizbollah so that they can murder our children. Israel must do what it needs to disarm Hizbollah and keep Hizbollah from murdering our children.

Unfortunately, they place themselves in civilian areas (many of whom, in fact, support Hizbollah
“even the Israeli-Arab family in Nazareth," whose own children were murdered by Hizbollah, support their own children's murderers) and target civilians, as noted by Human Rights Watch.

Nevertheless, I am not a military tactician nor military scholar and the decision on the most appropriate defensive actions must be left to the specialists.

MG: Will there ever be peace in the Middle East in our lifetime?

Amechad: Several decades ago, Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (the third female prime minister in the world) once said that "We will have peace with the Arabs once they love their children more than they hate us. We say 'peace' and the echo comes back from the other side, 'war,'" she once lamented. "We don't want wars even when we win." The State of Israel has always held out its arms for a true peace with her Arab neighbors. There is no reason why we can not have peace with Lebanon instantly if they wanted it.

Israel sits on the internationally recognized boundary. Until Lebanon and the international community decide to put an end to groups dedicated to murdering children, like Hizbollah, which operates freely, we have no choice but to defend ourselves and our children so that one day, when the attacks against Israel stop, we can live in peace. Sadly, however, the Arab world does not seem to recognize that peace remains the only solution “a conclusion known by all Israelis, whether on the political left or political right."

Bvrachat Shalom “ With Blessings for Peace,"
amechad

MG says: Our thanks go out to Amechad.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Player Two


Riding High - 2006 Photo by MG


Generally, I In T View bloggers, journalists, writers, human rights advocates, and soldiers, but this time I thought I would expand the horizons a bit and In T View the readers of of one of the most popular and beloved Mideast and Iraqi blogs, Iraq The Model, and let them sound off, share their views, about ITM and Iraq.

Iraq The Model comes complete with a strong and loyal readership and a feisty crew of articulate commenters offering their thoughts on Omar's and Mohammed's evaluation of events in their country, the Iraqi conflict, politics, terrorism, Islam, and the actions of the Coalition Forces.


In this In T View, we feature Player Two from the Player Two blog. What can you say about Motown's own Player Two? Well, he's a hardcore Detroit Tigers fan, an ex-Military man and punk rocker who loves the Pistons, is a big proponent of Ameircan Freedom, and never afraid to speak what's on his mind, aka a straight shooter. Take it away, Player Two...


MG: Hi Player Two, how did you become aware of Iraq The Model and decide to comment there?

Player Two: My brother's mother-in-law went to Moldova to help them with their legal system and she blogged, so I thought it couldnt be that difficult. So I dove in and started checking the Blogs out. I started reading BlackFive and just went down his links one-by-one until I hit the brothers.

Simply put, they speak my language.

I decided to comment because I'm a blabbermouth and I'm free. Use it or lose it. I don't need no badges..

MG: Are you as optimistic about Iraq now, as when you first started reading and commenting at ITM?

Player Two: I'm even more optomistic now than before. You just have to understand where I'm coming from. P2 lived in Germany on an Army base as a kid and never ever thought the wall would fall. Don't you remember all those tanks and all those nukes?!!!! But when it fell most people's reaction was: "zzzzzzz". Sorry but I'll never be like that. We are in the enemy's face over there and he's blinking, I know that scares the crap out of the enemy within so theyre turning up the gloom-and-doom machine full force. So what. What do they know about partyin', or anything else.

To me, W is like the kid at the parade when the emperor walked by naked. What are we so afraid of?!! I fear no tyrants and don't need to make friends on the left, they need to make friends with P2. How many millions of people around the world will live in slavery because free people are so stupid as to care what the enemy "thinks"? Everybody thinks the ChiCom are sooo pwerful because supposedly think in centuries not minutes like "we" supposedly do.
I call BS on that and know that what we're doing right now will have effects hundreds of years from now. There is just too much yearning for freedom in the ME and we have them surrounded. Soon they will be as fat and happy as we are and have their own stupid liberals to gum up the basepaths.

Don't believe the hype, theyre hearing footsteps all over the palaces.

MG: Did you find that ITM was better when Ali was involved with the blog?

Player Two: I see ITM as its own entity and think it rude to compare between them when theyre risking their necks. Think about it. Every letter they type is a miracle. You gonna compare miracles? Really?

MG: There have been criticisms directed towards ITM and the brothers that they are too Pro-American or American Agents, Working for the CIA, not really Iraqis or located in Iraq, etc. How do you respond to this?

Player Two: The OGA could never be THAT cool!! That's all they can come up with? How pitifully lame...

The American revolution is a revolution for ALL people just as Christ said his church was a church for ALL nations as we have ALL sinned. What are these "Americans" anyway but those that have been kicked or chased out of all those other countries? Jealous bastards need to shut up and worry more about the noose around their neckinstead of the company.

MG: Has it been a learning experience reading ITM? You likely know more about Iraqi politics now, than you did before reading the Brothers' Blog, but have they also given you insights into other facets of Iraqi Society such as culture and history?

Player Two: Mostly its about the baseline. This is all going to be history very soon, these clowns you see getting things going over there are going to be smoked by the kids you see running besides the hummers rapping fiddycent. Face saving cultures are all about not looking like an ass, theyre like hanging out with sorority girls, the real heavy lifting will be done by the next generation. Our mission is to hook THEM up (the kids.). Look at Vietnam today, all those kids there love the States and our promise. They think their parents were dolts for getting suckered.

Just keep the door open. That's what they did here right?!!

The Iraqis were writing whole books while my relatives were living in caves.

Yes, I have learned many many things about Iraqi life and I'm very grateful to the Bros for risking their lives to inform me.

MG: Should the US have involved itself in Iraq? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?

Player Two: I'm one of those crazy people that think you're involved anyway. We were involved in Rwanda, we just thought it was better to elect a clown and follow his stupidity instead of lift a finger to save a million plus people from hell. We were involved in Iraq and the torture chambers, we have the means and we owe it to others to kill the tyrants. I wish I could be a slob and convince myself otherwise, but as a free people we owe it to God and our neighbor to hook him up.

In other words, the question is flawed in my view.

MG: Does the World Media (Television, Radio, and Newspapers) present an accurate view of what's happening in Iraq?

Player Two: The blogs ARE the world media, read babalublog, or davids medienkritik or no pasaran! and tell me that we have EVER had a more clear and concise look at the world. As for the antique media,they will never get it right and frankly I'm not going to waste my time trying to help them with their "problem" I have my own wagon to paint.

Look, I'm a 42 year old punk rocker from the old school, I'm not missing out, they are. I'm always going to be about DIY (do it yourself) and think of the LSM as cartoons. Sulzberger may have billions, but he'll never be able to buy what I have, and no clown at Hahvadh can be "taught' it either.

Times are changing,

RAPIDLY.

Stand to.

MG: Which ITM Brother -- Omar or Mohammed -- would you like to give a hug to or have a beer with and why?

Player Two: See answer #3.

(If anything it would the one that posted about the Iraqi Football Team, he gets a Pilsener Urquell in a frosted glass. But I really couldnt tell the diff cuz' I've never looked for one.)


Don't Hit That Car - 2006 Photo by MG


MG: On February 20, 1258 A.D., the Mongols overran Baghdad, plundered and destroyed the city, and conducted a massacre of the residents that claimed 800,000 lives. Things don't look as bleak for the Iraqis now, still the topic of an Iraqi Civil War is being bandied about in the Media every day, and I have to ask: Is Iraq currently involved in a Civil War?

Player Two: The enemy has to modulate its bursts to get past our shields. This is just the latest gubble-gubble from the Ministry of Information. Are the crips and bloods in a "Civil War in L.A."? No...

Do you really think they would EVER write anything else? A civil war would be when all the IA troops subdivided and began attacking each other. All the rest is pitiful BS.

MG: Do you have a Favorite Poster at ITM, who you like or admire, and can you tell us why?

Player Two: Poster or commentor? No I don't have a fave poster, I have addressed that. As for commentors I have really come to appreciate the people's views that get sent in. The women like Louise and Valerie a that nutcase ( :)! ) dcat are very special in that they give a whole different aspect to things. I really like Hameed and the voices from the region that chime in.

Marine Dad, Bob, Soldier's Dad and those guys like RG and an american are priceless and funny as hell. Then there's the Cowboy!! How can I pick betweenst such talent?!!

And I have to give a shout out to the trolls, they have down their very best to keep Malone one-nine open for my qualifications...

MG: One of my escapist fantasies is to walk the length and breadth of Iraq from Southern Kurdisitan down to Mosul, though due to my blue eyes and practically albino skin, they'd likely be using me for target practice before I made it out of Mosul, certainly I'd be in trouble in Fallujah LOL... When conditions become safer for travel in Iraq, would you like to visit the country?

Player Two: My major concern would be that I would compromise OPS or Force Protection. If that was squared away, all I would want is a ACP and some Marlboros. I'm from the D,the sandbox doesnt phase me. I eat at La Shish at least once a week and love my fellow man regardless of what his parents looked like. (cf. "content of their character".MLK) Other than that I'd leave tomorrow if I could get someone to watch my hound. I just don't think I could justify tying up the assets for my sorry butt. Ever read "This is Your War" by Ernie Pyle? Read it and think about what he has to say about riding on a bombing run. Its like that. If I went over there I'd just p off all the E-5's cuz' I'd be trying to bolster the 11-b's morale so much I'd spoil'em. :)!! Got a ticket?

MG: The Recent Loss of Omar's, Mo's, and Ali's Brother-in-Law elicited many outporings of sympathy from ITM's readers and commenters, similar to if the readers/commenters had lost a member of their own extended family. When you post at ITM, is there a sense of being part of an extended family?
Has a bond been established, both between the posters themselves and Omar and Mo?

Player Two: You know, if I had the chance I probably would retract my comment about their pacifism. I'm a fixer not a commiserator (sp?) and I think that looking back on it I might have made a mistake sending that in, but dammit its my true feelings and sometimes I'm a selfish ass that should shut up. That came from a real frustration from way back. I was a fellow squad leader at Benning with Sgt Bip Ford who was murdered by Qaddaif in that Berlin Disco, I looked at the back of Bips head every formation for two months, my number was THAT close to his, so hearing about the Bros. family member getting murdered by those effing cowards brought out a heavy handed reaction that was insensitive and I regret it. But I felt like someone came into my family and did that, yes, I do feel that way about the Bros. even if I couldnt pick them out of a crowd.

MG: Having come to know Omar and Mo through their writings these last few years, what is the one thing, you would like to say to them?

Player Two: What do I have to say to them?!! If I really think about it, I'm the last person to actually lecture them about anything, they have enough to care about beside my blabber. But if they cared to actually listen I'd tell them that its all about their kids and building a very wide base for the future structure of Iraq freedom. I SAY AGAIN, What we're doing today is going to echo for a long long time because the killer elite of the ME is a house of cards. The bros. will never ever get to see the true, complete results of what they are doing because we'll all be worm food before they bear fruit, but they will. Look at what happens when free people are given a shot. The US, Germany, Japan and thousands of other stories all started out just like the current Iraq and you just can't let the enemy talk you out of believing and caving to the crap. People live and die all the time, but what do they really leave behind? What do they really DO with their lives?

The Bros might not have wished this situation upon themselves but they havent shirked it either and I really appreciate that. In fact, I wish I had half their gumption.-P2


Ghost Rider - 2006 Photo by MG


MG Says: Thanks to Player Two!


Friday, July 21, 2006

Lebanon, Hezb'allah, Iraq: All Roads Lead Back To Tehran



Ayatollah Khomeni & Carter

Jeffers at Free Republic has written -- by framing the subject matter within a series of questions -- a marvelous synopsis of the duplicity and terror-supporting activities by the Fascist regime in Iran, clearly the puppet master in this latest Mideast Crisis, with their support of Syria, Hezb'allah, Hamas, and infilitration of Lebanon and Iraq.


1. In what country did Hamas, the first terrorist organization to recently kidnap an Israeli soldier, originate?

2. In what country did Hezbollah, the next country to kidnap Israeli soldiers, thereby opening a second front for the IDF, originate?

3. From what country did the C-802 cruise missile which nearly sank Israel's radar picket ship originate?

4. Had it not been for Hamas and Hezbollah kidnappings, what country's nuclear program was scheduled to be Priority Topic One at the G8 Summit conference?

5. What country is North Korea's largest missile client, North Korea being the country that recently dragged most or all of the United States' anti-ballistic missile assets well out of range of the Persian Gulf?

6. What country has threatened to use ballistic missiles to crack containment at Dimona, Israel's largest nuclear facility, sending a plume over that tiny country similar to the one released by Chernobyl?

7. What country therefore benefits most by having US anti-ballistic missile assets far from the Persion Gulf?

8. What country is currently host to Sayed Bin Laden, operational commander of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, since the retirement of Osama Bin Laden in 2002?

9. What country is currently host to between 200 and 600 bayat members of the terrorist organization Al Qaeda, essentially a modern day Al Qaeda Brigade 055?

10. What country is currently host to the operational leadership of Al Qaeda, the terrorist organization best known for multiple simultaneaus attacks, like the recent train bombings in India?

11. What country is Russia's largest nuclear client, Russia being that country most reluctant to impose sanctions on a certain nuclear aspirant in the Middle East?

12. What country stands to benefit most from Russia's unprecedented offer to send peacekeeping troops to Lebanon to prevent the annihilation of Hezbollah?

13. What Axis of Evil country is almost certainly next in line to be dealt with in the ongoing war on terror?

14. What State Sponsor of Terrorism for over 30 years has most frequently threatened to initiate terrorist attacks on US interests in 2006?

15. What country recently signed a Mutual Defense Treaty with Syria?

16. What country's protection is the only thing which prevents Israel from destroying the pathetic Syrian army in one month or less?

17. Which Syrian ally has suddenly imbued Bashir Assad with the courage to warn Israel against utterly destroying Hezbollah?

18. What country would Saudi Arabia, who recently astounded almost everyone on earth on laying responsibility for the current crisis on Hezbollah, least like to see in charge of the Persion Gulf?

19. What oil rich nation, other than Saudi Arabia and Iraq, both of which the US has come to terms with, has repeatedly threatened to disrupt the US economy through its use of oil as a weapon?

20. What oil rich nation has an adjacent border with Turkey, the country which today threatened to invade Iraq?

21. What oil rich nation has repeatedly threatened to close the Persian Gulf?

22. Of the two nations sending terrorists and insurgents to attack Coalition forces in Iraq, which one has the largest economy, the largest military, and the largest political influence; in effect, of the two countries sending terrorists into Iraq, which is the senior partner?

23. What country's President has the longest history of any President on earth, of terrorist involvement, from the US Embassy hostage crisis until terrorist threats made today, July 19th, 2006?

24. What country is best known for labeling the US the "Great Satan", and Israel "Little Satan", and regularly stages demonstrations in which thousand of people chant "Death to America"?

25. What country, more than any other on earth, stands to benefit most from planning every single military threat from the last two months, from North Korea's missile launches, to India and Pakistan threatening each other with nuclear war, to incidents which have led Israel and Syria to the brink of war, to Turkey's threats of war with Iraq, what country planned all of this, in a manner so obvious that the only way you can avoid seeing it is by closing your eyes? {...}


You can't lay out an implication better than that. While the government and citiziens of Saudi Arabia with their contributions, support, and export of Wahabbist causes, al Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations also endanger the West, Iran meanwhile remains the largest state sponsor of terrorism.

And their tentacles reach deep via proxy groups like Hezb'allah, whose members operate in the U.S. and North America. The Counterterrorism Blog chronicles Hezb'allah criminal activity in North America (via Brian Hecht of The Investigative Project on Terrorism):

Racketeering, Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing:

* U.S.A. v. Mohamad Youssef Hammoud et al., Charlotte, North Carolina: 25 individuals charged in connection with cigarette smuggling, money laundering, credit card fraud, marriage fraud and immigration violations. Four individuals were charged with providing “material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization,” Hizballah, specifically providing “currency, financial services, training, false documentation and identification, communications equipment, explosives, and other physical assets to Hizballah, in order to facilitate its violent attacks.” In 2003, Mohamad Hammoud was sentenced to 155 years in prison, while his brother, Chawki, was sentenced to 51 months.

* U.S.A. v. Elias Mohamad Akhdar et al. (pdf), Dearborn, Michigan: 11 co-defendants charged with racketeering related to the Charlotte, North Carolina scheme. In January, 2004, Akhdar was sentenced to 70 months in prison and was fined over $2,000,000 after having pled guilty in July, 2003.

* U.S.A. v. Imam Mohamad-Musbah Hammoud, et al., Michigan, Canada (Ontario, Quebec), Lebanon: In March, 2006, 19 co-defendants charged with a racketeering scheme involving contraband cigarettes, counterfeit Zig Zag rolling papers and counterfeit Viagra, counterfeit cigarette tax stamps, transporting stolen property, and money laundering. A percentage of the profits derived from the illegal enterprise were given to Hizballah. On July 7, two of the defendants, Imad Majed Hamadeh and Theodore Schenk, 73 pled guilty (pdf). Hamadeh and Schenk face a maximum possible penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

Weapons and Planning:

* U.S.A.. v. Mahmoud Youssef Kourani (pdf), Dearborn, Michigan: In November, 2003, charged with being a “member, fighter, recruiter, and fundraiser” for Hizballah. In June, 2005, Kourani was sentenced to 4 ½ years in prison.

* U.S.A. v. Naji Antoine Abi Khalil, Montreal, Quebec; New York: Canadian/Lebanese dual citizen conspired with an Israeli, Tomer Grinberg, and charged with attempting to export military night vision goggles and infrared aiming equipment to Hizballah. In February 2006, Khalil was sentenced to 60 months in prison.

* U.S.A. v. Ali Boumelhem, Dearborn, Michigan: Man convicted in September 2001 of attempting to smuggle two shotguns, 750 bullets and assault weapon parts in a conspiracy to aid Hizballah, and 5 weapons violations. He was sentenced to 44 months in jail.

Tax Evasion:

* U.S.A. v. Talal Khalil Chahine et. al, Dearborn, Michigan: Restaurant owner and wife, Elfat El Aouar, in May 2006, charged with four counts of tax evasion and the concealment of more than $16,000,000 of cash from the federal government. The U.S. government, in a written proffer of evidence (in U.S.A. v. Elfat El Aouar, Cr. No. 06-20248, EDMI, 5/22/2006), states that Chahine and his wife attended a fundraising event in Lebanon in August 2002 with Hizballah Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, a Specially Designated Terrorist (see page 8), where the two men were the keynote speakers. The proffer also claims that a search of El Aouar’s residence turned up a “thank you letter” for sponsoring 40 “orphans,” as well as images of Chahine and his family in front of a Hizballah outpost. According to the proffer, “[t]he government is aware that the sponsorship of orphans is a euphemism used by Hizballah to refer to the orphans of martyrs. This is a common public relations and recruitment tool used by Hizballah. Hizballah gains favor with the public in Lebanon by supporting ‘orphans,’ while at the same time recruiting others into the terrorist organization willing to sacrifice their lives in terrorist operations based in part on the promise that Hizballah will take care of their families.” The government has yet to charge Chahine or his wife with any terrorism-related offense.

Drug Running:

* U.S.A. v. Mohammad Shabib, Cleveland, Ohio: Federal prosecutors charged Mohammad Shabib with hiding his role in a drug ring which profits were funneled to Hizballah. Shabib, a gas station owner, had $8,000,000 in a Chicago bank account, which authorities say Shabib amassed by shipping roughly 3 tons of pseudoephedrine from Canada to California, which he would sell to Mexican gangs who would use the drugs to produce methamphetamine. (See: Amanda Garrett, “Terrorists’ Money Takes Convoluted Path in U.S.,” The Cleveland Dealer, January 18, 2004).

Mexico: Human Trafficking:

* Mexico v. Salim Boughader Mucharrafille, Tijuana, Mexico: Boughader, proprietor of a Lebanese restaurant in Mexico, ran a smuggling ring into the U.S. Before he was arrested in December 2002, Boughader had trafficked roughly 200 Lebanese nationals, including Hizballah-linked individuals, across the border and into the U.S. Boughader admitted transporting a former employee of al-Manar television, which is owned and operated by Hizballah and currently designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist entity. Boughder is quoted as saying, “[f]or us, Hezbollah are not terrorists."

Other:

* U.S.A. v. Nemr Ali-Rahal et. al. (pdf), Dearborn, Michigan: Husband and wife pled guilty in January 2006 to credit card and bank fraud worth more than $500,000. Ali-Rahal was sentenced to 33 months in prison (see right side text box). While he was not charged with any terrorism related offenses, when FBI agents arrested Ali-Rahal, they discovered, in his home, Hizballah-related materials including a videotape of a 2002 Hizballah rally in Lebanon at which Rahal was present in Lebanon, as well as a collection of books, posters and videos including one titled “A Martyr Speaks About Martyrs” and a photo showing Rahal burning an American flag.

* Hizballah-linked Counterfeit Goods Ring in Los Angeles (pdf), Los Angeles, CA: Testimony of Lieutenant John C. Stedman, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, May 25, 2005: “There are also indicators that some associates of terrorist groups may be involved in (Intellectual Property Right/)IPR crime. During the course of our investigations, we have encountered suspects who have shown great affinity for Hezbollah and its leadership. The following are just two examples: during the search of a residence pursuant to an IPR related search warrant, I saw small Hezbollah flags displayed in the suspect’s bedroom. Next to the flags was a photograph of Hassan Nasrallah whom I recognized as the leader of Hezbollah. The suspect’s wife asked me if I knew the subject of the photograph. I identified Nasrallah and the wife said, ‘We love him because he protects us from the Jews’. Also in the home were dozens of audio tapes of Nasrallah’s speeches. During the search, one of my detectives also found a locket which contained a picture of the male suspect on one side and Sheik Nasrallah on the other. In 2004, detectives served an IPR search warrant at a clothing store in Los Angeles County. During the course of the search, thousands of dollars in counterfeit clothing was recovered as were two unregistered firearms. During the booking process, the suspect was found to have a tattoo of the Hezbollah flag on his arm.”


All roads may also lead back to Iraq. That is the case
DEBKA lays out in the latest round of Iran-U.S. machinations:

The green light flashing in Washington may give Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert a latitude never before granted any Israeli premier. But it also tells the Islamic Republic that its rulers’ meddling in Iraq carries a high price tag. By pulverizing Iran’s surrogate, Israel is articulating America’s determination to smash Iran’s strength and positions of influence around the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

This determination was sparked by an unnoticed incident in Iraq on July 4, 2006.

On that day, for the first time in the Iraq War, Nasrallah activated the three-year old sleeper terror and sabotage networks Iranian and Hizballah intelligence had established across Iraq shortly after the US invasion. He was obeying orders from Iranian supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
America’s Day of Independence 2006 was selected for this group to make its first low-key attacks against US forces in Baghdad and British units in Basra and break surface under the name of The Abu al Fadal al Abas Brigades. No one had heard of it because Tehran had kept this Iraqi arm of Hizballah dark as the ultimate weapon to spring on the Americans in Iraq at the appropriate moment.

President Bush saw that if he looked away and let Iran’s challenge burst into full-blown action without responding, America’s standing in Iraq and the rest of the region would be forfeit. He was further stirred into a response by Tehran’s developing appetite for quick gains. On July 12, believing they had got away with it in Iraq, Iran and Hizballah followed it up by opening a second front against Israel, America’s ally: the Shiite terrorists kidnapped two Israeli soldiers.


Obviously, Iran misalculated and now has a front row seat to the bloodying, perhaps eventual destruction of their Hezb'allah proxy in Lebanon. Michael Ledeen speaks out on this miscalculation:

And so they struck, first in Gaza, then in northern Israel, and, as always, in Iraq and Afghanistan and India. They imagined, just as Osama had prophesied five years earlier (almost to the Muslim day; according to their calendar Wednesday the 19th was the anniversary of our 9/11), that the regional assault would bring our allies and us to our knees. We would lose our will to fight, and abandon the battlefield to the army of Allah, and Hamas, and Moqtada, and the Badr brigades, and all the others.
It’s the same misunderestimation as before, for tyrants have always been unable to imagine the remarkable ability of free people to respond to challenge, and to organize quickly, voluntarily, and effectively to fight their enemies. Hwzbollah now risks rout, and Assad, sensing his peril, is whispering promises of betrayal in order to ensure his own survival. The Iranians still threaten Armageddon, but, so far at least, have been unable to demonstrate the capacity to provoke it.

A fine line separates charisma from buffoonery, and, instead of spreading revolutionary hegemony over the region, the mullahs risk being seen as unacceptably dangerous clowns. Never before have Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians, Kuwaitis, and Iraqis spoken so forcefully against the terrorists (Hamas and Hezbollah, Sunni and Shiite) and their state sponsors in Tehran and Damascus. Instead of driving us from the battlefield, they now must contend with the very real danger that their former prey will unite against the mullahs and the Baathist remnant.
The terror masters risk the same terrible humiliation and defeat as befell Osama, and as things stand, only we can save them from the logical and moral consequences of their folly.


A folly it has been, but the Iranians remain dangerous. Their burgeoning Nuclear capability must be eliminated. Only time will tell what events will play out, but we will all be watching.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The In T View: Bandit 36: Inside The Mind Of An American Officer In The Green Zone


Assyrian King - Photo Appear Courtesy of Christians of Iraq. com



(Update: Bandit's friend Ali, a member of the Iraqi Police and mentioned below, was recently killed.
Bandit has more. We offer our
condolences.)

In this In T View we bring forth the thoughts of an American Officer from inside Iraq's famous Green Zone.

Bandit.three.six is his name and he's a Military Blogger, who can be found at the very fine Bandit.three.six blog, where he discusses events in Iraq, provides you with the latest in B36 News and Video, and brings forth the positive contributions of American Soldiers in the country.

Bandit, 24 years-old, and originally from Alaska, serves as a Site Officer in Charge of Communications, and has a wife and newborn son waiting for him when he returns home. Take it away, Bandit...


MG: When you first received word that you were being deployed to Iraq, what thoughts were running through your mind?

Bandit: I was suprised at first, but not really concerned. I was under the impression that we commo folk didn't deploy much so when I heard that I was it caught me off guard. I knew that thousands of Soldiers had deployed and came home safely before me so I figured that the percentages were on my side.

MG: Once you set forth in Iraq, could you give us your initial impressions of the country?

Bandit: When I first landed in Baghdad I was suprised at how chilled out everything was. I had figured that it was a war zone and everyone would be running everywhere in kevlars and helmets while dodging mortars and rockets. The only reason I knew I was in Baghdad and not Georgia was because someone said, "Welcome to Baghdad."

MG: The Heat! Is Iraq really as hot as everyone makes it out to be?

Bandit: I may not be the best guy to answer this question as I grew up in Alaska (avg winter temp was -80F w/ windchill) so my personal thermometer is somewhat skewed, but the only time I really notice the heat is when I go from inside to outside. After a while outside you get used to the heat and it's no big thing.

MG: You are there in Iraq, away from your family, your home, in a distant land, a different culture - Is the Soldiers life a lonely one?

Bandit: It is, but it doesn't really affect me. I've always been something of a loner and with the internet I can still interact with my family and millions of other people so I'm not too isolated. Plus I'm around other Soldiers all the time so I often wish I could be by myself from time to time. Finding a quite place to be alone is critical over here.

MG: How hard is it to concentrate on your service in Iraq, with a wife and newborn son back in the States? Do you have to be all business when on duty and place personal concerns in the back of your mind?

Bandit: I do my best to keep my personal life seperated from my professional life. I'm lucky to be married to an amazing woman. We have an awesome relationship and she's increadibly emotionally strong. That makes it easier for me to focus on work when I need to which, in turn, allows me to focus on family when I get the opportunity. Also, as a commo guy I'm rarely out of touch so I can talk with her and get pictures of my son. On the rare occasion when I put on my body armor I say a quick prayer that they'll be safe and focus on the mission.


Baghdad mosque by The Poss - Flickr


MG: Most of the Iraqi bloggers, both inside and outside of Iraq, seem to feel the country is in the midst of a Civil War. Just from your perspective, are the Iraqis in a Civil War?

Bandit: I think Civil War is too strong a word for the fighting that's going on right now. PM Maliki kicked off Operation Together Forward to secure Baghdad and what a lot of people don't realize is that to secure an area you will probably have to fight the bad guys who are already there and don't want to move. Pile on to this the terrorists who are fanning the flame of sectarianism and I'd say that we're doing pretty good really. I think most Iraqis are looking for a unified Iraq and recognize that most of the sectarian killing is being perpetrated by outsiders and extremists. The fact that there are people at these markets to get blown up is indicative of that. The people here are remarkably resiliant and determined.

MG: Iraq receives such negative publicity: bombings, killings, unrest, kidnappings, civil strife...It's sort of portrayed as Hell on Earth by the Media. Serving in Iraq, what do you like about the country?

Bandit: The fact that in spite of what the media is portraying, that most Iraqi people continue to do their best to make their country safe. 12.5 million people voted in the last election. That's 75% of available voters. This in spite of the threat of various attacks. And I'm thrilled that I can be a part of helping them build their country!

MG: And conversely, what do you dislike about Iraq?

Bandit: Celebratory gun fire. It goes up, and then it comes back down. Keep your helmet on.

Bathouse

Bathouse Photo appears courtesy of Dave's-Not-Here.net


MG: One thing I'd like to hear about, is your most hair-raising moment in Iraq. What situation occurred that you said afterwards, "Thank God, I survived that!?"

Bandit: I went out to one of the Iraqi ministries a few months ago and while we were there I had to use the bathroom. It was my first time outside the (IZ) and I wasn't sure what was what so I did my best to follow the lead of the guys who did this kind of thing every day. I told my buddy who had already been there a few times that I had to go and he said, "There's a crapper behind the building, I'll wait here for ya." "Ok, cool, I'll be right back," I said as I got out of the truck to find the toilet figuring that finding it by myself was no big deal since he had been here before.

When I got to the gate of the ministry I asked the Iraqi guard where the bathroom was and he pointed behind the ministry building so I started walking back that way. Once I got behind the building I was having trouble finding the bathroom and some guy (no ID/uniform) started talking to me in Arabic. I coulnd't understand him but by his body language I could tell he was trying to figure out what I was looking for. I put my hands to my crotch and motioned like I was unzipping my fly and he realized what I was after. He yelled to a couple kids in Arabic and they motioned for me to follow up some stairs with open doors at every other level. Just to recap, I'm at an Iraqi secured compound, by myself, the first time I've ever been outside a US secured area, and some kid is leading me up some stairs. I had my rifle very close and my eyes wide open.

As I'm walking up the stairs in full gear I pass by some rather startled Iraqi guys and I can tell by the look on their face that they really weren't expecting to see an American at just that moment. I do my best to play it off like everything is cool saying "Salaam," with a smile while raising my right hand from my rifle just long enough to be polite. After a few flights the kids lead me inside and point at a door while pretending to pee signaling to me that this was the bathroom. I opened the door and found myself staring at a hole in the ground which had obviously been used shortly before my arrival.

When in Rome, I figured. I used one foot to keep the door open so I could look over my shoulder and one hand stayed on my rifle while I did my business. When I was done I buttoned up and stepped back out of the stall. The kids instantly presented me with several small hands palm-up while chanting, "money, money, money!?!" After paying the kids off I followed them back downstairs past some different, but no less startled, Iraqi men and made my way back to the trucks. After getting back in my buddy laughs and says, "Sh*t man, I didn't think you'd really go by yourself."

MG: From your own thoughts on the matter, do you feel the American Media is doing a good job of accurately portraying what is happening with you, the American Military in Iraq?

Bandit: No. The good news stories don't get nearly enough play in the media. This is why I've started putting out as much of the good news as I can on my blog. It's not nearly enought to counter the tidal wave of negative media, but it's the best I can do given my resources.

MG: You are in the IZ, aka the Green Zone, the protected enclave that serves as the center of Coalition Forces in the country. Could you give us an idea of what it's like to work in the Green Zone?

Bandit: The going joke is that "we went to war and a garrison broke out." Garrison is the term we use to refer to our home station where the daily focus is on maintenance, paprework and training. Except for the rockets and mortars it's a lot like working a 16 hour-a-day job in back in the States.


Flares Over Baghdad by Trinity TestSite - Flickr


MG: There are those who would argue that the Green Zone isn't the real Iraq, they'd even call it a walled fortress, shut off from the rest of the nation. Obviously, if you were stationed in Mosul or al Anbar, you would have a different perspective of the country and people. Do you ever feel that you're missing out on the real action and flavor of Iraq because you are located in the Green Zone?

Bandit: Yes, I often do feel like I'm not getting a good taste of Iraq. However, if I were in Mosul or somewhere in Anbar I wouldn't have the same visibility of the overall situation throughout Iraq as I do here. Since this is the headquarters area I get to hear about stories from all over, not just my area.

MG: How much interaction do you as an American soldier have with the Iraqis? Do you have a chance to visit them in their homes? Can you make friends with them?

Bandit: I've made friends with several Iraqi policemen and Soldiers. In fact, one of them, Ali, also just had a child. I'm hoping that we can keep in touch so that 15 or 20 years from now when I bring my family out here to show them where I lived for a year we can meet up and properly introduce our kids.

MG: The generousness of the Iraqi People: Iraqis, like many of the Mideast peoples are know for their hospitality. Can you give us an example of Iraqi generosity?

Bandit: When I go to visit Ali he always has a small pot of tea brewing and never fails to offer me some. Even if he's just run out he'll start brewing a new pot and we'll chat while we wait for it to finish.


Eye In The Sky - F16CG Fighting Falcon over Iraq by Echo9er - Flickr


MG: I know there's a camraderie, a fellowship, between members of the same unit, and when there is a loss, you are all affected. I'd like to know how hard does it hit you, when a member of your unit is injured or killed?

Bandit: My unit has been very lucky thus far, the only injury we've had has been someone at another site getting minor wounds from a mortar attack. By the time we found out about it it was already known that her injuries weren't life-threatening so it became just a cool story to tell.

MG: In the end, do you feel that Iraq has been worth your time and effort? And could you tell us why?

Bandit: Yes, without a doubt. I often wish that I could do more to make life better here. When I start getting frusterated and start wondering, "Why am I here?", I think about when my son will be old enough to start asking questions about the war. I can't wait for the day when he asks, "Dad, were you in the war?" That will be a great day for me. And the day my grandchildren ask the same question will be equally as great. The work we're doing over here is so historically significant and I'm right in the middle of it helping out. I've recently been feeling conflicted about going back home, knowing that I won't be here directly helping win the war. If it were possible for me to bring my family here, I would definately consider extending. However, as rewarding and fulfilling as it is to be here, my family is more important to me and since they can't come to me, I'll go to them.



Sundown (Iraq) by TrinityTestSite - Flickr


MG says: Thanks Very Much to Bandit for a very thoughtful In T View.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The In T View: The Readers Of Iraq The Model Sound Off: Mike H.



Deux Lunes by Jessie Romaneix - Flickr


Generally, I In T View bloggers, journalists, writers, human rights advocates, and soldiers, but this time I thought I would expand the horizons a bit and In T View the readers of of one of the most popular and beloved Mideast and Iraqi blogs, Iraq The Model, and let them sound off, share their views, about ITM and Iraq.

Iraq The Model comes complete with a strong and loyal readership and a feisty crew of articulate commenters offering their thoughts on Omar's and Mohammed's evaluation of events in their country, the Iraqi conflict, politics, terrorism, Islam, and the actions of the Coalition Forces.


In this In T View, we feature Mike H., a former military man, who still fires a mean rifle. Mike exhibits great pleasure in astronomy, and there are rumors that he may work for one of the government space agencies, but he's a modest man and is not going to brag about such things. Take it away, Mike H....


MG: Hi Mike H., how did you become aware of Iraq The Model and decide to comment there?

Mike H.: I was curious about how the Iraqi people viewed the war and whether they were going to try to reclaim their country after Saddam was deposed.

MG: Are you as optimistic about Iraq now, as when you first started reading and commenting at ITM?

Mike H.: Yup, I think the people will finally come to grips with what they need to gain freedom. It will take a while but they will see the value in establishing supremacy over gov't. That's just my myopic view.

MG: Did you find that ITM was better when Ali was involved with the blog?

Mike H.: I think that, as with any siblings, there are differences even in comparable world views. Ali should have a place to give his opinion with the slant that he as a thinking individual would have.

MG: There have been criticisms directed towards ITM and the brothers that they are too Pro-American or American Agents, Working for the CIA, not really Iraqis or located in Iraq, etc. How do you respond to this?

Mike H.: Wait a minute, they signed a Statement of Intent with me, that included a no jobs with the CIA clause. If I find out that they've accepted a position with the CIA, I'm suing. Where the heck did I leave that piece of paper! I'll sue doggonit.

MG: Has it been a learning experience reading ITM? You likely know more about Iraqi politics now, than you did before reading the Brothers' Blog, but have they also given you insights into other facets of Iraqi Society such as culture and history?

Mike H.: Finding out what a culture considers important is necessary to the process of formulating a plan of assistance. The other part of the answer is that the feedback was crucial in maintaining the atmosphere needed to support the troops. The third half of the answer is they're still needed for guidance on electoral policy.

MG: Should the US have involved itself in Iraq? Has it been a worthwhile endeavor?

Mike H.: When an individual who initiates a coup, creates a thugocracy, the populace needs a little help getting rid of him. When the living standard increases, and the freedom to live in in a self designed lifestyle in a compatible manner with ones cultural kin occurs, it will be adjudged to have been worthwhile.

MG: Does the World Media (Television, Radio, and Newspapers) present an accurate view of what's happening in Iraq?

Mike H.: Huh? The Lame Stream Media? Do you mind if I digest you an answer?

MG: Which ITM Brother -- Omar or Mohammed -- would you like to give a hug to or have a beer with and why?

Mike H.: Umm, I... Uhhh..... Not to be disrespectful to Omar and Mohammed but I don't hug nobody that can grow a beard. I only do the smooth faced set. And my poison of preference is Crown Royal. The answer is I'd have to go broke buying both of them a bottle of Canada's finest IMO.

MG: On February 20, 1258 A.D., the Mongols overran Baghdad, plundered and destroyed the city, and conducted a massacre of the residents that claimed 800,000 lives. Things don't look as bleak for the Iraqis now, still the topic of an Iraqi Civil War is being bandied about in the Media every day, and I have to ask: Is Iraq currently involved in a Civil War?

Mike H.: The people of Iraq have responded in a manner beyond that which any people could possibly be expected to absorb. Good on 'em, as Peter would say.

MG: Do you have a Favorite Poster at ITM, who you like or admire, and can you tell us why?

Mike H.: Andy, because of the yellow things that she uses for spaces.

MG: One of my escapist fantasies is to walk the length and breadth of Iraq from Southern Kurdisitan down to Mosul, though due to my blue eyes and practically albino skin, they'd likely be using me for target practice before I made it out of Mosul, certainly I'd be in trouble in Fallujah LOL... When conditions become safer for travel in Iraq, would you like to visit the country?

Mike H.: In about 15 years to see what has developed from this necessary experiment.

MG: The Recent Loss of Omar's, Mo's, and Ali's Brother-in-Law elicited many outporings of sympathy from ITM's readers and commenters, similar to if the readers/commenters had lost a member of their own extended family. When you post at ITM, is there a sense of being part of an extended family?
Has a bond been established, both between the posters themselves and Omar and Mo?

Mike H.: Yes there is a community that has been built, which is why I would use the term empathy which connotes a more personal sense of loss from the unhappy event. If it brings together feuding siblings then it has to be a heavy hit.

MG: Having come to know Omar and Mo through their writings these last few years, what is the one thing, you would like to say to them?

Mike H.: If I catch you two working for any gov't agency I'm suing, I've got the paper around here somewhere, you hear? ;)

MG Says: Thanks to Mike H.!


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