2006 February 28 Tuesday
US Troops Want Out Of Iraq Within Year

John Zogby has found some very interesting views among US soldiers in Iraq.

An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.

The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College’s Center for Peace and Global Studies, showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq “immediately,” while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay “as long as they are needed.”

Different branches had quite different sentiments on the question, the poll shows. While 89% of reserves and 82% of those in the National Guard said the U.S. should leave Iraq within a year, 58% of Marines think so. Seven in ten of those in the regular Army thought the U.S. should leave Iraq in the next year. Moreover, about three-quarters of those in National Guard and Reserve units favor withdrawal within six months, just 15% of Marines felt that way. About half of those in the regular Army favored withdrawal from Iraq in the next six months.

I think the US troops should be replaced by neocons and Panglossian bloggers.

Of course, I can imagine why some neocons might argue these soldiers are too ignorant to be listened to about the war. After all, US soldiers in Iraq think the US invasion of Iraq was in retaliation for Saddam's imagined role in the 9/11 attack.

The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58% of those serving in country say the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42% said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure. While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”

Some people have argued to me that I should show more respect for the first hand knowledge of the soldiers who are in Iraq. Well, these soldiers think Saddam was behind 9/11.

While the Bush Administration has claimed that democratic transformation of the Arab countries is the best way to reduce the risk of terrorism the US soldiers in Iraq do not see establishment of democracy as an important goal.

“Ninety-three percent said that removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for U.S. troops being there,” said Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International. “Instead, that initial rationale went by the wayside and, in the minds of 68% of the troops, the real mission became to remove Saddam Hussein.” Just 24% said that “establishing a democracy that can be a model for the Arab World" was the main or a major reason for the war. Only small percentages see the mission there as securing oil supplies (11%) or to provide long-term bases for US troops in the region (6%).

Thanks to Greg Cochran for the heads up. Greg thinks the soldiers hold these curious views about the purpose for the Iraq invasion because otherwise the soldiers would have to conclude their national leadership is insane and the costs they are paying in deaths and maiming are an utter waste. In response to this part of it:

"While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”

Greg says:

Interesting. A good fraction, although less than a majority, in the US think both those things, even though neither seems to have ever happened, even though as far as I can tell, the Administration doesn't even claim any more that Saddam had anything to do with 9-11. I think this is pretty easy to understand: the alternative for the average Joe is to conclude that we did it for no reason that he can understand at all: i.e. that the government is insane. So, many people make up a reason. because the alternative is too disturbing - more so if they think of the government as being run by _their side_. I had figured that the fraction of our armed forces in Iraq that believed that we were retaliating (for things that Iraq never did) would be higher than at home, because a volunteer army would self-select for such beliefs, and because the idea that friends would have been crippled or killed for no reason that anyone could understand would be hateful. I had guessed about two-thirds of the Army would believe this shit, but it's higher than that.

Human minds try to find cause and effect and meaning in the events around them. Sometimes their explanations are comical, sometimes foolish, other times tragic. These soldiers with their limited knowledge are trying to find purpose in what they are doing. They have my sympathy. Their loyalty to their country should not be so abused by what passes for leaders in the United States of America. Some day we may need these soldiers for a war where US national interests are really at stake. Giving these brave soldiers a sour experience with loyalty to country is not in the long term best interests of the American people.

Update: Some in the Pentagon dismiss this poll as reflecting the negative views one would expect to find among soldiers in combat.

The survey was conducted without the Pentagon's permission, and some military officials privately questioned its validity, since troops in a combat zone are likely to express negative views of their situation.

"The poll's findings certainly aren't reflective of the attitudes we see displayed by the majority of troops, who are performing in a remarkable manner in a combat situation far from home," said Lt. Col. Barry Venable, a Pentagon spokesman.

American soldiers in Iraq, in interviews with Knight Ridder, frequently have expressed discontent with the situation there. They've cited too few soldiers to control the insurgency, a lack of equipment and pessimism about the success of the mission.

The US has too few soldiers to control the insurgency because the Bush Administration doesn't want to spend the amount that would cost and because a draft would be needed to build up the US Army large enough to exercise greater control. So the Bush Administration pretends the US has enough troops in Iraq.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 28 09:39 PM  MidEast Iraq Military Needs
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2006 February 27 Monday
1300 Dead In Baghdad From Sectarian Violence

What's your definition of civil war? The Samarra mosque bombing has set off a particularly intense period of sectarian killings in Iraq.

BAGHDAD, Feb. 27 -- Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad's main morgue. The toll was more than three times higher than the figure previously reported by the U.S. military and the news media.

Do the Shia militiamen carrying out the killings know who among the Sunnis are in the insurgency? How selective are the killings? Or are the Shias killing family members of Sunni insurgents?

Some people claim that Iraq is not yet in a civil war. Well, I'm confident of the ability of the Sunni insurgents/terrorists/patriots/holy warriors/bad guys/good guys to blow up some more Shia holy sites and kill enough Shias that the Shias will amp up their response and kick up the death rate for Sunnis to even higher levels than we've seen so far. But when does the civil war begin? Is 2000 dead in a week a civil war? Or 3000? Not enough? How about 5000? Or does the death rate need to exceed some threshold level for a number of weeks before we classify the fighting Iraq as a civil war?

The sectarian violence (mostly Shias killing Sunnis) was set off by the Feb. 22, 2006 destruction of the Shia Golden Mosque in Samarra, also known as the Al-Askariya Mosque. Check out the before and after pictures. The mosque was fairly fancy.

The golden dome of the sanctuary was completed in 1905 and is covered by 72,000 golden pieces. It measured roughly 20 metres wide with a circumference of 68 metres, making it one of the biggest domes in the Islamic world. Each of the mosques two golden minarets is 36 m high, according to the Encyclopedia of the Orient and Atlas Tours.

The power of the clerics is strengthened by this crisis since the clerics clearly are the only leaders who can restrain the Iraqi population. The Shias are hopping mad and Ayatollah Sistani wants more Shia militias.

Shiite militias remain heavily armed and emotional, and on Sunday continued to move into some Sunni neighborhoods in the capital. Clerics are emerging as the only voices that can quell the violence, even as they've come under pressure from their followers to demand revenge. Even Ayatollah Sistani has advocated the founding of additional sectarian militias, drawn from southern tribes, to protect Shiite interests.

"It may well be that things will die down now,'' says Joost Hilterman, who runs the International Crisis Group's (ICG) Middle East Project in Amman, Jordan. "But the structural dynamic still points toward civil war, and the institutions that could restrain it have become severely weakened."

Those Sunnis killed by Shia retaliations have families who will of course want revenge. But the Sunnis have already killed lots of Shias whose families also want revenge.

Some of the deaths on Saturday Feburary 26, 2006 give a sense of what is going on in Iraq right now.

Today, at least 15 people were killed and 45 injured in a mortar attack in Dora, the police and hospital officials told Reuters. Dora is a mixed neighborhood in southern Baghdad that has been gripped by sectarian assassinations for more than a year.

In the southern city of Basra, two people were injured when a homemade bomb exploded in the ablutions area of a Shiite mosque, according to a medic, and at least five people were injured when a car bomb exploded in Hilla, south of Baghdad, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

If the attacks on Shiite mosques continue enough Shiites will ignore calls from top clerics for restraint that the violence will escalate.

The attack on the Samarra mosque is seen by some as part of a strategy to get people to shift loyalties toward lower level groups.

American military leaders saw the handiwork of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the violent Sunni extremist. "Zarqawi's target is to strip away this notion of Iraqi nationalism," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy strategy director for U.S. Central Command, told me on the day of the bombing. "If he can wipe away this notion, as was done in Yugoslavia, then people would revert to the next tier: 'I am a Sunni, a Shia, or a Kurd.'"

The notion of Iraqi nationalism was always very weak anyway. The Sunni notion of Iraqi nationalism is that Sunnis rule Shias. The Shia notion is that Shias rule Sunnis. The Arabs find the concept of people meeting as equals as entirely foreign to their experience and their conceptual framework. If the rest of the world really did think like Westerners then the rest of the world would already be much more like Westerners. Current US policies toward the Middle East will eventually be seen by the politically correct mainstream as foolish due to basic facts about human nature.

Time to forget about democracy happy talk. The situation is so dire that the US is making heavy threats to all factions to keep them from moving to all out civil war.

Khalilzad’s strongest card is that the Americans have the money and the military boots on the ground. “Behind closed doors, he can say that if there is a civil war, because of our military power we can decide who comes out on top — and leave it open as to who might emerge the victor,” Krepinevich said.

It is, he added, a warning to all sides that “we can make life really miserable for you”.

Officially, talk of civil war is frowned upon in Washington. “We don’t believe we’re there,” a senior American defence official said. “We’re watching closely to see if the Iraqi forces are going to disintegrate under pressure. It’s so far so good. Iraqi leaders have shown their ability to stay together in the face of strong provocation.”

I figure the frowns in Washington D.C. are going to get a lot bigger before this thing is over.

Recall how back in September 2005 the US military downgraded the number of Iraqi batallions that they thought could fight independently.

The number of Iraqi army battalions that can fight insurgents without U.S. and coalition help has dropped from three to one, top U.S. generals told Congress yesterday, adding that the security situation in Iraq is too uncertain to predict large-scale American troop withdrawals anytime soon.

Those downgraded batallions stayed downgraded while the last top rated batallion has now also been downgraded.

The only Iraqi battalion capable of fighting without U.S. support has been downgraded to a level requiring them to fight with American troops backing them up, the Pentagon said Friday.


According to the congressionally mandated Iraq security report released Friday, there are 53 Iraqi battalions at level two status, up from 36 in October. There are 45 battalions at level three, according to the report.

It is interesting to note that some news articles have reported Shia militia moving around in Baghdad without opposition from Iraqi security forces. Are the government's forces so overweighted by Shias that the Shia militias have nothing to worry about from government troops?

A civil war could pull in populations and governments from neighboring countries and cause fighting between Shias and Sunnis in other Arab countries.

If Iraq were to sink deeper into that kind of conflict, Baghdad and other cities could become caldrons of ethnic cleansing, bringing revenge violence from one region to another. Shiite populations in Lebanon, Kuwait and especially Saudi Arabia, where Shiites happen to live in the oil-rich eastern sector, could easily revolt. Such a regional conflict could take years to exhaust itself, and could force the redrawing of boundaries that themselves are less than 100 years old.

Picture the Saudi Shiites rising up in the oil field region of Saudi Arabia where they are a majority and uniting with Shias in Iraq. The only reason I can't see that happen is that Arabs do not unite well.

The Shia retaliations might end up having salutary effects. The Sunnis have been reminded that they would suffer horribly and many of them would be killed in a no holds barred civil war. But can the Sunnis who fear civil war restrain the sorts of people who blow up Shia mosques? Are there powerful Sunnis with militias that have both the incentive and the knowledge to hunt down Zarqawi and his followers?

I see what is going on in Iraq as a signalling game between the factions. The Sunnis have been signalling they will not accept a subordinate position to the Shias. The Shias are now signalling that the Sunnis have gone too far and that the Shias will inflict lots of harm on Sunnis if the Sunnis do not back down. But I still do not see how this violent signalling back and forth can lead them to a point where they agree on terms for the political system which the major factions will all find acceptable.

I first argued for partition of Iraq in November 2003 and that still seems like the best solution to me. Also see my later partition posts here and here and here. Back in August 2005 Lieutenant General William E. Odom, U.S. Army (Ret.) and former director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan argued that all the reasons for staying in Iraq have it exactly backward. More recently Odom has argued that "staying the course" amounts to throwing away resources better used elsewhere.

Update:The signs are the crisis is easing.

"Localized difficulties also persist, but I think, at the strategic level, this crisis -- a mosque attack leading to civil war -- is over," Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said in a telephone interview. "It was a serious crisis. I believe that Iraq came to the brink and came back."

But another big mosque attack or a big killing elsewhere could reintensify the conflict.

Both the Kurds and the Sunnis decided they did not want full out civil war.

Ironically, the Kurds stood to gain the most from a civil conflict. They have long wanted an independent state, and revolted against Saddam Hussein in 1991 only to be brutally repressed. But Talabani was deeply troubled by the Samarra crisis, said Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat who was in contact with Talabani throughout the crisis.


Saleh al-Mutlak, a Sunni leader who attended the talks Saturday, put it more bluntly: "I think this is a lesson for the Sunnis," he said. "Next time they will try to buy weapons to face these kinds of developments."

The Kurds would prefer to secede from Iraq peacefully. The Sunnis have just realized they do not have enough weapons and military force to take on the Shias - yet. So I figure the Kurds and Sunnis have not abandoned their goals. But they have both had moments of clarity in terms of what they need to make happen to achieve their goals.

How will the Sunnis raise the funds to arm for civil war? Where will the money come from? They need to get access to oil money. Or steal weapons from the Iraqi military by getting more Sunnis to join up for a while. What steps will the Kurds take to make themselves better able to secede with a minimum of violence? I figure they will continue to scare Sunnis into leaving territory that Kurds control. They want to disentangle from the Arabs at a demographic level.

Update: A Knight-Ridder report throws doubt on the Washington Post claim of 1300 people killed in Baghdad.

After last Wednesday's mosque bombing, about 250 bodies with signs of violent deaths - out of the total of 379 - were taken to Baghdad's main morgue, the repository for bodies from the city and surrounding villages, according to an examination of documents there, including pictures of the corpses, and interviews with medical personnel.

A review of the morgue's logbook confirmed that most of the 250 had died of bullet wounds. A top morgue official, who asked that his name not be used for security reasons, verified those numbers.

Anyone have insight into where the truth might lie here?

By Randall Parker 2006 February 27 07:57 PM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Cleansing
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2006 February 26 Sunday
Private Health Care Ban Collapsing In Canada

The Canadian Supreme Court finally recognized the barbarity of the Canadian government simultaneously outlawing private medical care while failing to deliver taxpayer funded care in a timely and high quality manner. As a result another socialist regime is falling apart.

The country's publicly financed health insurance system — frequently described as the third rail of its political system and a core value of its national identity — is gradually breaking down. Private clinics are opening around the country by an estimated one a week, and private insurance companies are about to find a gold mine.


Canada remains the only industrialized country that outlaws privately financed purchases of core medical services.Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other politicians remain reluctant to openly propose sweeping changes even though costs for the national and provincial governments are exploding and some cancer patients are waiting months for diagnostic tests and treatment.

But a Supreme Court ruling last June — it found that a Quebec provincial ban on private health insurance was unconstitutional when patients were suffering and even dying on waiting lists — appears to have become a turning point for the entire country.

"The prohibition on obtaining private health insurance is not constitutional where the public system fails to deliver reasonable services," the court ruled.

Yes, governments do not have a right to prevent people from spending their own money to prevent their own deaths. There is nothing virtuous about this barbaric ban.

Need to see a specialist? Come back 2 months later.

The median wait time between a referral by a family doctor and an appointment with a specialist has increased to 8.3 weeks last year from 3.7 weeks in 1993, according to a recent study by The Fraser Institute, a conservative research group. Meanwhile the median wait between appointment with a specialist and treatment has increased to 9.4 weeks from 5.6 weeks over the same period.

Private MRI clinics are opening in Canada. Soon many Canadians will be able to get MRI scans as quickly as their dogs and cats can. Now, that's progress. What's next? The collapse of Castro's regime? Or will the North Korean regime go down?

By Randall Parker 2006 February 26 10:06 PM  Socialism, Capitalism
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Philippines And Thailand Face Protests Against Governments

Thailand and the Philippines both face popular street protests against governments.

In Manila, President Gloria Arroyo declared emergency rule to defy an expected military coup on the anniversary of an iconic popular uprising in 1986. Security forces later dispersed 5,000 protestors who had gathered to vent their fury against Ms. Arroyo, whose administration has been dogged by charges of incompetence and vote-rigging.

In Thailand, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra ended weeks of speculation over the legitimacy of his rule by dissolving parliament to make way for an election on April 2 - three years earlier than expected. He called this the best way to end the "mob rule" - the mass protests that have been growing in recent weeks. An estimated 30,000 Thais rallied again Sunday in the capital Bangkok to urge Mr. Thaksin to resign over alleged corruption.

While the two leaders face differing political challenges, both are struggling to satisfy expectations among voters for sustainable reforms. Their plight, say analysts, suggests that unless young democracies develop the institutions that support the rule of law - going beyond the simple right to vote - their governments remain vulnerable to "people power" coups that will usurp the democratic processes.

Democracy is as much a result of factors that create good government as it is a cause of good government.

The Filipinos have discovered that popular overthrows of governments does not lead to less corrupt successors. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Arroyo has lost support, but many middle-class voters see little alternative among the squabbling political elite. And with many disillusioned with past protests that have ousted one leader only to get another corrupt leader, few are rushing to the streets to join the latest protests. "People power is currently exhausted. People don't see it as a viable way to improve governance," says Mr. Rood.

The Filipinos need one leader with enormous virtue. Maybe a popular referendum should be held to give Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore a post where he is given the power to appoint and dismiss the leader of the Philippines. I'm serious. I bet such a system would produce far less corrupt government. When Lee becomes too old to make such decisions maybe his son could take over the role.

Update: Yet another attempted military coup happened in the Philippines this weekend.

MANILA, Philippines – A challenge to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's leadership by disgruntled marine officers ended without violence Sunday but signaled that efforts to oust the president probably will persist even without widespread popular support.

The five-hour standoff by marines began when their commander was relieved of his duties after what the government said was a foiled coup plot.

It left no doubt that the military has extremely restive elements that are fed up with neglect and corruption and are susceptible to being drawn into political adventurism.

Maybe the major branches of the Filipino military should set up a rotation where each branch gets its chance to try for a coup once a year. Or, hey, how about their best poker players play a poker game and the winner's branch of service gets to do the coup?

Or how about a game with their pay where whenever a branch launches a failed coup their salaries all go down and the salaries in the other branches goes up. But if a branch of the military succeeds in launching a successful coup then their salaries go up and the salaries of the other branches would go down. Such a reward system would reduce the number of abortive coups.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 26 11:55 AM  Democracy Failure
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2006 February 24 Friday
Attack On Saudi Oil Facility Foiled

Al Qaeda could put themselves back on the map as a serious threat to the world if they could manage to knock out Saudi Arabia's biggest oil processing facility. Well, they tried. But the Abqaiq oil facility was unharmed by the attack.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 24 — An attempted suicide bomb attack on Saudi Arabia's sprawling Abqaiq oil facility was thwarted today when guards opened fire on two explosive-laden cars, causing them to detonate at a security gate about a mile from the main entrance, the Saudi Interior Ministry said. The attack was the first on Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, and ends a yearlong lull in violence in the kingdom.

Seems to me if Al Qaeda can launch only one attack in Saudi Arabia in a whole year and that attack was lame then it is not a very powerful organization any more. Though they apparently managed to kill at least two guards and injured others. That's bad. But it is pretty small stuff compared to all the murders that happen in the world in a year.

Also, if these guys wanted to ram their way through a gate they'd need hardier vehicles and more people to take out the guards. They couldn't even make their way past an outer security perimeter let alone the main gate. Suicide bomb vehicles aren't effective means to break through layered security because the vehicles are full of explosives that can get set off by defensive fire.

Two thirds of Saudi oil passes through this facility.

But the assault on the Abqaiq compound near the Persian Gulf, through which two-thirds of Saudi oil exports pass, was the first on a significant Saudi oil facility. Oil experts warned that other attacks are likely.

Imagine an attack on that facility that succeeded. The price of oil would shoot up over $100 per barrel. Can you say deep global world recession? Sure!

The attack took place in Saudi Arabia's Shia majority region.

There was no immediate confirmation of who was behind the attack, which took place in a region where Saudi Arabia’s Shia minority is centered.

Likely Sunnis were behind the attack. The Shias in Saudi Arabia live where all oil fields are located. So Sunnis have to go to Shia regions to blow up Saudi oil facilities.

Al Qaeda has called for attacks on Saudi oil facilities.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but last September al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri called for attacks on oil facilities, saying oil revenues went to what he called "the enemies of Islam".

The Saudis and some outside experts claim this attack shows that Saudi security is very good.

"The security measures at the oil facilities are better than those at the royal palaces," said Fares bin Houzam, an expert on al Qaeda. "There is no danger to other facilities."

Obaid and Houzam both said the attempted attack was proof al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia has been weakened by a state crackdown.

My guess is the best bet Al Qaeda has for knocking out a big Saudi oil facility would be to recruit some people who work inside such facilities. But Al Qaeda would have to have a pretty extensive recruiting organization with a lot of isolated cells which would be able to get into contact with a lot of oil facility workers in order to have decent chances to succeed in such recruitment.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 24 05:44 PM  Terrorists Activities
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2006 February 21 Tuesday
Why Is US Economy More Stable At Macro Level?

Robert Samuelson says the economy has become more stable at the macro level and less stable within industries.

Hardly a week passes without layoffs from some major company, which is "downsizing," "restructuring" or "outsourcing." And yet, the broader economy has undeniably become more stable. Since the early 1980s, we've had only two recessions, lasting a combined year and four months and involving peak unemployment of 7.8 percent. By contrast, from 1969 to 1982, we had four recessions lasting altogether about four years and having unemployment as high as 10.8 percent.

The obvious question is why? My guess is that computer tracking of inventories has a great deal to do with it. Many recessions in the past were periods where companies gradually sold off excess inventories until they needed to start producing new goods and started hiring again. But just-in-time delivery, computerized reporting of sales in individual stores, computerized tracking of shipments, computerized tracking of orders, and computerized warehouse inventories allow companies at all steps in supply chains to rapidly adjust orders and production rates.

We can all identify the usual suspects. Globalization. Deregulation. Greater domestic competition. In a series of papers, Comin, Philippon and various colleagues have shown that, for most businesses, sales, profits and employment have all become more volatile in recent decades. They bounce around more from year to year, suggesting greater industry instability. Competitive pressures have dramatically intensified. One telling statistic: In 1980 a firm in the top fifth of its industry had about a 1-in-10 chance of losing that position within a five-year period; by 1998 the odds had increased to 1 in 4.

Why has the power of incumbency decreased in business? Information travels more rapidly. That includes prices, reports of product quality problems, and reports of newer and better products. You can do web searches that compare products and that will turn up product problems from customers who complain online. Also, technogical competencies are a lot more portable. A company can find needed technical skills in the internet and is less tied to particular geographic locations in order to draw on a specialized skill base. So a competitor can pop up in more places.

Are development costs a larger fraction of total costs today than, say, 50 years ago? If so, that'd make economies less susceptible to inventory recessions. Product design rates aren't going to get adjusted in response to every increase and decrease in the rate of new orders. Also, software is a major part of the economy. Well, inventory shortages and surpluses aren't a problem with software. Production costs are very small portion of total costs. The software industry doesn't contribute to inventory recessions.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 21 08:41 PM  Economics Industry
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2006 February 19 Sunday
Flemming Rose On Why Publish Cartoons Critical Of Islam

Flemming Rose, the Danish newspaper editor who ran the Mohammed cartoons which have angered Muslims to the point of burning down embassies and calling for the death of Danes, says that he decided to run the cartoons because too many people were becoming afraid and he wanted to push back the shrinking limits on critical commentary on Islam.

I agree that the freedom to publish things doesn't mean you publish everything. Jyllands-Posten would not publish pornographic images or graphic details of dead bodies; swear words rarely make it into our pages. So we are not fundamentalists in our support for freedom of expression.

But the cartoon story is different.

Those examples have to do with exercising restraint because of ethical standards and taste; call it editing. By contrast, I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self-censorship in Europe caused by widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam. And I still believe that this is a topic that we Europeans must confront, challenging moderate Muslims to speak out. The idea wasn't to provoke gratuitously -- and we certainly didn't intend to trigger violent demonstrations throughout the Muslim world. Our goal was simply to push back self-imposed limits on expression that seemed to be closing in tighter.

Rose goes on to list a number of episodes of self and other censorship in Europe done recently due to fears of Muslim violence. Click through and read the whole thing.

Also, Diana Moon of Letter From Gotham links to Stanley Fish on cartoons and naive liberal attempts at dialogue with Muslims.

This is why calls for "dialogue," issued so frequently of late by the pundits with an unbearable smugness -- you can just see them thinking, "What's wrong with these people?" -- are unlikely to fall on receptive ears. The belief in the therapeutic and redemptive force of dialogue depends on the assumption (central to liberalism's theology) that, after all, no idea is worth fighting over to the death and that we can always reach a position of accommodation if only we will sit down and talk it out.

But a firm adherent of a comprehensive religion doesn't want dialogue about his beliefs; he wants those beliefs to prevail. Dialogue is not a tenet in his creed, and invoking it is unlikely to do anything but further persuade him that you have missed the point -- as, indeed, you are pledged to do, so long as liberalism is the name of your faith.

Also see Julian Sanchez's response to the irony of Fish (extreme relativist) sort of defending free speech. But Sanchez makes a mistake in thinking that Muslims are willing to engage sincerely based on liberal assumptions:

He could as easily have put it: "There's just no arguing with these people." And of course, there are people with whom there's no arguing. But Fish is pretty clearly just flat wrong when he suggests that liberal terms of debate aren't cross-applicable for many in the Muslim world. Consider the decision by the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri to hold a contest soliciting cartoons about the Holocaust. Now, if you're like me, you found this a little befuddling initially: First we saw attacks on Danish embassies as a reaction against cartoons printed by a private Danish newspaper, and now the response extends to lampooning Jews? But it does make sense as a way of pointing up the hypocrisy of European governments that bluster about free speech in this case while making it a crime to publish Holocaust deniers. And that's precisely the kind of argument that Fish is suggesting Muslims are bound to reject—that is to say, an argument against double standards for speech depending on the target. More generally, as the French sociologist Olivier Roy has pointed out, Muslims in the West by and large do press their case using the liberal language of individual rights—objecting to France's ban on headscarves in public schools as an infringement on a general freedom of religion, for instance, rather than simply as offenses against the One True Faith. So fortunately, it appears to be empirically false that "there's just no arguing with those people," if "those people" means sincere practicing Muslims in general. But then, that's just, like, my narrative, man.

Illiberals will use liberal assumptions to promote their position when they see an advantage to appealing to liberals using liberal beliefs. But the Iranian government and its government-controlled newspapers do not intend to promote free speech by pointing out European hypocrisy. If they were for free speech they would stop locking up editors and reporters. Rather, the Iranians are trying to push Europeans to restrict speech critical of Islam just as some European countries restrict certain types of speech that is hostile toward Jews. In fact, what the Iranians would prefer would be restrictions on speech critical of Islam but no such restrictions on speech critical of Jews - like what Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other Muslim countries have now.

Sanchez's "narrative, man" is probably that libertarianism has universal appeal. My own "narrative" is that this is a foolish assertion.

See a collection of the cartoons and this cartoon collection too.. Also, the Muslim position that it has always been forbidden to draw likenesses of Mohammed is contradicted by the historical record. The Muslims did make paintings and other visual representations of Muhammad/Mohammed/Muhammed in previous centuries. I guess they should go back in a time machine and kill their blasphemous ancestors. Check out more Muslim paintings of Mohammed made in previous centuries.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 19 09:49 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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China May Buy Complete DaimlerChrysler BMW Engine Plant

A Chinese car company may ship an entire high tech engine plant from Brazil to China.

In the latest sign of this country's manufacturing ambitions, a major Chinese company, hand-in-hand with the Communist Party, is bidding to buy from DaimlerChrysler and BMW a car engine plant in Brazil. Because the plant is so sophisticated, it is far more feasible for the Chinese carmaker, the Lifan Group, to go through such an effort to move it 8,300 miles, rather than to develop its own technology in this industrial hub in western China, the company's president said Thursday. If the purchase succeeds — and it is early in the process — China could leapfrog competitors like South Korea to catch up with Japan, Germany and the United States in selling some of the most fuel-efficient yet comfortable cars on the market, like the Honda Civic or the Toyota Corolla.

The guy negotiating the deal for the Chinese car company isn't from the car company. He's a senior Chinese Communist Party official. Think about that. Of course the banks in China will probably be ordered to lend money to finance the deal. Some would have us believe that the massive US budget deficit at 5.8% of GDP is just the product of the natural workings of the market. I see currency markets and capital markets manipulated by governments and am highly skeptical of this claim.

Will DaimlerChrysler and BMW join other companies in selling the Chinese technology that'll get used to undersell them?

Ford and GM look increasingly like road kill run down by globalisation and the United Auto Workers. How can Ford and GM avoid bankruptcy once Chinese cars made with very cheap labor and embodying lots of Western technology hit the market in the United States? As things stand now GM is bleeding cash and is a few years away from bankruptcy already. That road to bankruptcy could get accelerated by events at GM's former division Delphi. Delphi's employees might go on strike when Delphi, now operating under a bankruptcy filing, cuts wages and benefits. A halt of Delphi's production lines would, in turn, stop many GM production lines. Can't build cars without engine, brake, and transmisson controllers.

About Delphi, here's what I wonder: How quickly could Delphi shift production abroad or into plants in other states in event of a strike? Also, how rapidly could GM substitute controllers from other controller makers? GM could do some engineering work in advance to qualify some controllers as drop-in replacements should Delphi go out on strike. Might be prudent to do that, especially for models that sell at healthy profits.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 19 04:13 PM  China
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On The Liberal Desire For A Servant Society

Over at Gene Expression TangoMan has a post about press bias on immigration and this led to a great comment post about liberal hypocrisy on immigration by "Big Bill".

Look, white women don't want to cook. They don't want to take care of babies. They don't even want to HAVE babies. They don't want to wash clothes. They want servants -- dishwasher, Cook, Nanny, yard boy.

They all want to be Betty Friedan feminists: a wealthy husband Carl plenty of servants, nice home, nice vacation home, and all the time in the world to write political screeds about how evil men are.

And the best part about championing illegal aliens is that they can pat themselves on the back about being good liberals.

It's a win-win situation for a feminist: you get to live off the sweat of poor people, you get to put other evil demanding white people out of a job, and you get to pretend you're still a good leftist like you were in college.

I hung out in nanny bars in Manhattan and Yonkers for a few years. I know the shtick cold.

It is hard to pretend (which doesn't mean liberals do not try) that Mexicans are being let into America to be equals when they are let in to be trash collectors, nannies, gardeners, maids, bus boys, and other very low status occupations. It is hard to pretend they will rise up the level of equality when only 53% of Hispanics graduate from high school in the United States of America. It is hard to pretend that the huge Hispanic influx isn't further impoverishing our existing lower classes.

"Big Bill" also says:

College boys who have utterly no conception of what it's like growing up and living on the left side of the Bell curve like most black folks and poor white folks in America are oh so eager to import 6 billion ignorant peasants from all over the world. It assuages their guilty middle-class conscience.

Why make America more like the lousier places in the world? Where does this impulse come from? Do the supporters of America's terrible immigration policies somehow believe that the result won't be bad? Do they believe their own rhetoric?

One of my biggest worries about growing the lower class through immigration is that people at one rung on the ladder tend to look up at people on higher rungs and think they do not deserve to be higher up. A lot of people who lack the intellectual capacity to do work that earns an upper middle class or higher income also lack the intellectual capacity to understand just how complex that work is or how much wealth that work produces.

How can a person who, say, lays brick or hammers nails into roofs imagine how much more productive is the person who develops a new roofing material or a new way to make roofing material? Their tendency is going to be toward seeing their own work as the "real" work and the work of people sitting in offices as useless work that accomplishes little that is immediately obvious. Their desire for higher self esteem combines with their inability to comprehend work that is beyond their intellectual ability to cause them to discount the value of work that commands much higher incomes. Seems to me that a society with an increasing number of such people will have a politics increasingly driven by resentment toward the most productive. Upper class liberals ought ask themselves if it is in their best interest to support development of such a society.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 19 11:40 AM  Immigration Politics
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Companies Shifting Research To China And India

US and European multinationals in 15 industries are planning to shift R&D work out of America and Europe.

A new study that will be presented today to the National Academies, the nation's leading advisory groups on science and technology, suggests that more and more research work at corporations will be sent to fast-growing economies with strong education systems, like China and India. In a survey of more than 200 multinational corporations on their research center decisions, 38 percent said they planned to "change substantially" the worldwide distribution of their research and development work over the next three years — with the booming markets of China and India, and their world-class scientists, attracting the greatest increase in projects.

They claim they aren't doing it for lower salaries. One of the conductors of this study quoted in the article was gullible enough to believe them. But the companies want to pay the least amount of money per high IQ worker as they can manage. It is as simple as that.

Looked at on a world scale there is a benefit to this trend in terms of accelerated technological development: More high IQ workers total will be employed doing research and development. Why? Companies will hire more researchers if price per researcher is lower.

However, even as companies outsource they will lead the drumbeat for more science and engineering education in the United States. Part of this is patriotism. Part of the motive for the call for more technical education is a desire for a larger supply of smart technical workers so that employers can pay each worker less in the United States too.

The American executives who are planning to send work abroad express concern about what they regard as an incipient erosion of scientific prowess in this country, pointing to the lagging math and science proficiency of American high school students and the reluctance of some college graduates to pursue careers in science and engineering.

Some of that reluctance among Americans to pursue technical educations is due to lower salaries driven by both a shifting of technical work abroad and the import of foreign technical workers to do the work in the United States at lower salaries than natives get paid. Another problem is demographic trends that are leading to a dumber population. But the inequality taboo enforced by intellectuals on America's political left effectively has removed the most important evidence about America's long term problems outside of the sphere of public debate. As a result not only the population but the political debates have become dumb and dumber.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 19 10:58 AM  Economics Globalization
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2006 February 18 Saturday
Bush Administration Supports Ethnic Power Sharing In Iraq

Think the US is in Iraq to support the principle of one person, one vote? Not exactly. The US is backing a Kurdish proposal for a system of ethnic group power sharing in Iraq.

To enforce consensus, the Salahuddin document calls for a National Security Council that would include leaders of all the main political factions and, according to the document, "outline policies that reflect national unity and reach decisions based on the principle of accord." The document also echoes the Bush administration's insistence that the leaders of the two key security ministries -- defense and interior -- "must be neutral or accepted by all the parties participating in the government."

"There can be no political stability until all the Iraqi constituencies are included," Kurdish leader Barham Salih explained in a telephone interview from Baghdad on Wednesday. "That's why we as the Kurdish alliance are working on a government that includes these four political blocs."

What matters is that the United States is embracing these principles -- at the risk of alienating its Shiite allies. Zalmay Khalilzad, America's ambassador in Baghdad, explained in a telephone interview this week: "We support the basic ideas behind the Salahuddin principles. The security ministries have to be in the hands of people who have broad support, who are nonsectarian, without ties to militias. We cannot invest huge amounts of money in forces that do not get broad support from Iraqis. They will make their choices. We will make our choices, based on their choices."

Without the power sharing the more grasping members of minority groups can't be guaranteed to receive anything from the oil money spoils system. To put it more crudely: Iraq might have a better chance of internal peace if Kurds and Sunnis have lot of corruption opportunities.

Lofty notions of democracy are hard to square with what is happening in Iraq. The country is split along ethnic, religious, and linguistic lines. The country is in civil war. The war shows little or no signs of slackening. Plus, one of the factions is at war with the United States while another faction threatens to follow.

Iraq costs $5.9 billion per month. What a waste.

The war request submitted Thursday would lift military spending in Iraq and Afghanistan to $115 billion this year and nearly $400 billion since the fighting began in March 2003.


The war in Iraq now costs about $5.9 billion a month, while Afghanistan operations cost about $900 million per month, said the Pentagon comptroller, Tina Jonas.

That cost understates the cost of the war in several ways including wear and tear on equipment, higher overall personnel costs in order to recruit reluctant would-be soldiers, and future losses from long term medical care and less work out of the chronically injured.

The Bush Administration's budget request indicates it sees no slackening in the pace of the war.

"I'm still stunned that there's no downward motion at all in the monthly costs. And clearly in 2006, the administration plans on no end in sight to that," said Michael E. O'Hanlon, senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution.

Why is Iraq a mess? Well, for a start if you are a newer ParaPundit reader and are not familiar with the term "Consanguineous Marriage" then Iraq would make a lot more sense if you read my post "John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq" and from there clicked back to and read other related posts on that page. Also, the general poor state of Middle Eastern economies can be mostly explained by a single table of politically incorrect taboo information.

Another curious cost of the Iraq war is that the drug war is getting cut back in order to supply troops for the Iraq war.

Marijuana eradication efforts have been hampered by cutbacks in Air National Guard budgets and personnel have been assigned to tasks related to the Iraq war, Wagg said. National Guard helicopters are the most productive way to spot marijuana patches in the county's remote fields and draws, he said.

"We used to get three or four days of flying time. Now, it's one to 1 1/2 days," he said. "They do a great job for us."

Some drug decriminalization advocates might see this as great. But most of Bush's supporters are not for decriminalization and see illicit drugs as a bane on American society. Fortunately for them their brains will reward them for defending their man against inconvenient facts.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 18 01:56 PM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Conflict
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2006 February 13 Monday
Walter Russell Mead For Standard National Tests

Writing for the Weekly Standard Walter Russell Mead makes an argument familiar to long time ParaPundit readers: People should be able to earn credit toward college degrees by taking standard tests to demonstrate mastery of many different subject areas.

There is no reason the government should try to prevent American families who value the traditional college experience from paying hundreds of thousands of dollars, but perhaps it could offer an alternative: a federally recognized national baccalaureate (or 'national bac') degree that students could earn by demonstrating competence and knowledge.

My first problem with this proposal is that I do not see why the federal government should get involved.

With input from employers, the Department of Education could develop standards in fields like English, the sciences, information technology, mathematics, and so on. Students would get certificates when they passed an exam in a given subject. These certificates could be used, like the Advanced Placement tests of the College Board, to reduce the number of courses students would need to graduate from a traditional college. And colleges that accepted federal funds could be required to award credits for them.

The US Department of Education should not set such standards. Professional societies are the most logical candidates for setting standards in scientific and technical areas. For example, the American Chemical Society used to (and perhaps still does) produce a standard test of what students should learn in first year college chemistry. Professional societies in engineering, math, physics, geology, and other fields could produce similar tests.

But the certificates would be good for something else as well. With enough certificates in the right subjects, students could get a national bac without going to college. Government agencies would accept the bac as the equivalent of a conventional bachelor's degree; graduate schools and any organization receiving federal funds would also be required to accept it.

Standardized tests would provide better measures of knowledge and skills acquired. Also, tests for levels of knowledge at finer levels of granularity than an entire bachelors degree in a subject would allow demonstration that a person has acquired any number of combinations of skills which might be needed in different jobs.

Subject exams calibrated to a national standard would give employers something they do not now have: assurance that a student has achieved a certain level of knowledge and skill. It is the easiest thing in the world today to find English majors with BA degrees from accredited colleges who cannot write a standard business letter. If national bac holders could in fact perform this and other specific tasks that employers want their new hires to perform, it is likely that increasing numbers of employers would demand the bac in addition to a college degree. Students who attended traditional colleges would increasingly need to pass these exams to obtain the full benefits of their degree.

For students from modest or low-income homes, as well as for part-time students trying to earn degrees while they work full time jobs or raise families, the standards would offer a cheaper, more efficient way to focus their education. Students could take prep courses that focused on the skills they actually needed to do the jobs they sought. Parents could teach their kids at home. Schools and institutes could offer focused programs. Public records could show how well students performed on the exams, offering students and parents far more accountability and information than they now get.

Standardized tests would also allow people to pursue education at an accelerated pace. Combine standardized tests with video recordings of lectures and people could take classes any day of the week or time of the day. One could sit down and in a week of long hours watch the entire lecture series for a whole year college course.

Such programs would be both cheaper and more flexible than conventional college degree programs. The contemporary American college is solidly grounded in the tradition of the medieval guilds. These guilds deliberately limited competition to keep fees high. In the best of cases, guild regulation also protected consumers by imposing quality and fairness standards on guild members. Few observers of American education today would argue with straight faces that the quality of undergraduate education is a major concern of contemporary guilds like the American Association of University Professors. Colleges today provide no real accounting to students, parents, or anybody else about the quality of the education they provide. No other market forces consumers to make choices on so little information.

Rather than the US Congress stepping in I see this as an initiative that state governments could pursue. Individual states and groups of states could approach national professional societies of science, math, and engineering and ask for standard tests for all courses leading toward degrees. In topic areas which are less objective groups of state university systems operating under the instruction of bills passed by state legislatures could make up their own common standards.

However, Mead gets it right in arguing that the current system is akin to a guild system that is obsolete and holding back automation and innovation in education.

By setting open standards for the national bac, and by allowing anybody to offer the service of preparing students to take the exams, Congress could break the guilds' monopoly on education. A century ago higher education was still a luxury, and it scarcely mattered that it was offered only by arcane guilds in a system that took shape in the Middle Ages. But today many people of very modest means need a BA-equivalent degree to succeed in the workplace.

The power of the guilds in the goods-producing industries had to be broken before the factory system could provide the cheaper goods of the industrial revolution. The service and information revolutions require the breakup of the knowledge guilds: The professoriat is a good place to start.

College education is an excessive burden in terms of the money and the time required, in terms of the need to go to a college to get educated, and in terms of the hours for classes. For example, lots of students find it hard to work a job while in school because courses end up getting scattered across all 5 days of the week and scattered out across each day. Courses start at a few fixed times per year and run at only a single pace. Colleges are highly inconvenient and costly for students.

Children could start building up college level credit at much younger ages and earn degrees more cheaply and rapidly if standardized tests were available for a larger range of subjects. State universities or even private colleges could grant degrees. Even without a degree from an existing university one could get a certificate from a professional society stating that you have learned, say, enough chemistry to equal or even exceed the typical amount of knowledge learned by those who get a bachelor's degree in chemistry.

The College Board already offers advanced placement tests. Either that organization or colleges could administer a more extensive set of standard tests. Absolute national uniformity would not be necessary. After all, every college now has its own tests that vary from class to class from one year to the next. Groups of colleges could offer different sets of standard tests.

Since state governments operate a large number of universities and colleges (probably numbering into the thousands) the states seem the logical agents for carrying out a move toward standard tests and video recording of class lectures. Taxpayers money is already paying for substantial portions of salaries of academics. Some of that money could be directed more usefully toward developing tests, recorded lectures, and places where tests held for a large range of subjects at once.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 13 10:08 PM  Education
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Israeli Intelligence Chief Worries Saddam Was Better For Israel

Head of Israel's Shin Bet intelligence agency Yuval Diskin says Israel may end up missing Saddam Hussein as dictator of Iraq.

When asked about the growing destabilisation of Iraq, Mr Diskin said Israel might come to rue its decision to support the US-led invasion in 2003.

"When you dismantle a system in which there is a despot who controls his people by force, you have chaos," he said.

"I'm not sure we won't miss Saddam."

Maybe Diskin notices that Shia dominated Iran is Israel's most feared enemy and that a Shiite theocracy in Baghdad makes that situation worse by greatly reducing the threat Iraq poses to Iran. Maybe Diskin figures a chaotic place with lots of terrorists running around is a lot worse than a place with a strong central dictator.

A tape was made of Diskin talking to some West Bank settler seminary students.

The TV station said the tape came from a closed meeting about a month ago between Diskin and Jewish seminary students at Eli, a hardline Jewish settlement in the West Bank near the city of Nablus.

Diskin's voice was heard on the tape. "Sometimes when you dismantle a system in which a tyrant controls his people by force," he said, commenting on the US-led offensive against Saddam, "and it breaks into pieces and generates chaos, you get a situation like in Iraq.

"Is the situation better in Iraq today compared to what it was before?" he asked. "From the Israeli point of view, we could come around to missing Saddam," he added.

But the neocons assure us that democracy in Arabia is just the cure for what ails them.

Diskin also thinks that Israel's leniency toward its own Jewish terrorists harms Israel.

Jewish terrorism is a "cancer" that Israel is lenient in tackling, according to Israel's Shin Bet chief.

"Understand that a Jew who carries out terrorism is ultimately much more of a cancer in the nation than an Arab who carries out terrorism," Yuval Diskin said in a recent closed-door briefing to army cadets, a recording of which was aired this week by Israel's Channel 10 television.

Asked by his audience, which included West Bank settlers, whether the Shin Bet hunts suspected Jewish radicals, Diskin said they receive better treatment than Palestinians or Israeli Arabs held in similar cases.

"I do not see an equality in the way the system handles them, even when they are accused of the same kind of crime," Diskin said.

The Israelis need to separate themselves from the Arabs. The intertwining of Arab and Jewish communities driven by the Jewish religious folks determined to settle in land they think God gave them is corrupting them.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 13 05:20 PM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis
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2006 February 11 Saturday
US Trade Deficit For 2005 Was Over 725 Billion Dollars

The mind boggles.

The $725.8 billion deficit, announced Friday by the Commerce Department, was a 17.5 percent leap from 2004's then-record deficit of $617.6 billion. The 2005 trade deficit equaled 5.8 percent of this country's gross domestic product, up from 5.3 percent of GDP in 2004 and 4.5 percent in 2003.

When I hear some argue for lower trade barriers my reaction is they are arguing for the freedom to send the whole nation deeply into debt.

The US runs large trade deficits with most (all?) of its major trading partners.

The $201.6 billion trade deficit with China in 2005 was a sharp 24.5 percent jump from 2004's $161.9 billion gap, prompting critics of free trade to concentrate their ire on that country. (Japan was second at $82.7 billion, up 9.4 percent. Canada was third at $76.5 billion, up 15.1 percent.)

If foreign banks were not buying US debt to push up the US dollar I'd be more sympathetic to arguments for letting the market work it all out. But foreign trade isn't free trade when currency valuations are manipulated by governments.

China sells the US 6 times as much as the US sells China.

America set a record for the value of goods exported to China - $42 billion - but that was dwarfed by the almost $250 billion travelling in the opposite direction.


Also contributing to the record figure was the $176 billion of crude oil imports, with America paying an average price of $47 a barrel.

By the way, if the US dollar declines in value that will lower the real cost of oil to the rest of the world since holders of their currencies will be able to buy US dollars more cheaply. That will increase demand for oil in the rest of the world and hence eventually lead to higher oil prices in US dollars. A sharp decline in the US dollar could cause a bout of inflation in the United States.

Organized labor says the trade deficit is doing real economic damage.

"Such a huge trade gap undercuts domestic manufacturing and destroys good U.S. jobs," said Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of labor's AFL-CIO. "America's gargantuan trade deficit is a weight around American workers' necks that is pulling them into a cycle of debt, bankruptcy and low-wage service jobs."

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D)., said the new deficit figure showed that "our trade policy is an unbelievable failure that is selling out American jobs and weakening our economy."

Amazingly, the dollar's value rose even as the US trade deficit broke new records.

The dollar recovered from an initial decline against the euro yesterday. It appreciated 14.4 percent against the 12-nation currency in 2005 and climbed 14.7 percent versus the yen.

I can remember a college economics professor explaining to us how we didn't have to worry about trade deficits since currency values would adjust to cause exports and imports to approximately balance.

Back in 1991 the trade deficit was only 30 billion dollars.

The trade deficit, which has risen more or less steadily since 1991 when it was $30.7 billion, widened 17.5 percent in 2005 to set a record for the fourth year in a row.

The increase in the US trade deficit in 2005 was over 4 times bigger the total US trade deficit in 1991.

Such a huge deficit seems crazy to me and I'm not persuaded by arguments that this is not a problem. I agree with Warren Buffett. Americans are living in Squanderville. The question in my mind: Why is this happening? Wider availability of consumer debt? Some demographic trend in the US population? Foreign governments manipulations of the US dollar? US capitalists shifting their capital abroad to get cheaper labor? Other?

Robert Musil argues that we should see the trade deficits as a massive purchase of political risk insurance by people in other countries. But does that explain our trade deficit with Canada for example? Still, an interesting idea.

What if anything should be done at the level of US government policy about the US trade deficit?

By Randall Parker 2006 February 11 11:01 PM  Economics Trade
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Tyler Cowen Bullish On Iran As Nuclear Power

In the mood for some contrarian thinking that steps out of the narrow confines of what passes for mainstream foreign policy thinking in the West? Tyler Cowen sees major benefits from Iran's coming status as a nuclear power.

Iranian nukes will create an Israeli-Iranian alignment of political interests. Iran is more hated by the Arab states than is often let on. Iranian nukes increase the chance that Arab terrorism will be directed against Teheran rather than Tel Aviv or Manhattan.

Iran with nukes will carve out a greater sphere of influence, in part at the expense of Israel and America. But it will seek to stabilize that sphere, and "Israel" and "stability" likely will be seen as complements. Iran won't want Iraq under the control of al Qaeda. Israel and Iran would work together, albeit covertly, to limit further proliferation in the region.

Some of the Arab nations would find themselves forced into a de facto alliance with israel, if only to resist Iranian power. This is not obviously a bad outcome.

Most politicians -- whether religious fanatics or not -- are pragmatic. The status of a nuke could be a substitute for the status earned by Iran from supporting terrorism and bashing Israel. More importantly, nuclear powers do not generally want to transfer much power to decentralized, hard-to-deter terrorists.

Do read the whole thing before you step into the comments below and confidently assert why he's wrong.

I think shallow and intellectually lazy Bush and the deluded neocons shot their wad on Iraq and are powerless to stop Iran's nuclear weapons development program. The American public is dead set against another foreign attack and does not trust Bush and his gang in another misadventure. Plus, the US military is stretched as it is. The best Bush could carry out is an air attack. But how to justify it? The Bushies assured us last time that an invasion was necessary to stop (non-existent) nuclear weapons development.

Anyway, I hope Tyler is right about Iran as a nuclear power. My concern is that even if he's right about Iran that Iran as a nuclear power will provide more impetus for other states to become nuclear powers as well.

Speaking of the Iraq Debacle and where it leaves us today Greg Cochran has this to say:

If the President had decided (because of a stroke with truly interesting side effects) that we could no longer stand idly by in the eternal conflict between penguins and skuas (penguins = Good, skuas = Evil) and sent an expedtionary force to Antarctica, an expedition in which a thousand soldiers froze to death and ten thousand others lost limbs to frostbite - an expedition that cost one hundred billion dollars, a conflict in which the skuas and blizzards left the issue in doubt, one in which we discovered that penguins are thoroughly unlikeable when you get to know them better - if he had done this instead of invading Iraq the country would be substantially better off than it is today.

Political opposition to an arctic attack would no doubt be met with a neocon argument that we could build an alliance with the Arctic Skua (which make me think of Ahmad Chalabi) against the Pomarine Skua.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 11 09:23 AM  MidEast Iran
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2006 February 10 Friday
Danimal On Islam, Bars, And A Fallacy Of Composition

I recently came across Sixteen Volts blogger Ilkka Kokkarinen because he linked to an old post of mine. Well he also linked to and apparently collects some of the better the Usenet postings of Danimal (and I have no idea who that is). Danimal says some interesting things about Islam among other topics. Kokkarinen copied a Danimal alt.romance post from September 2004 Danimal argues that just because bar patrons and religious believers could all in theory act in ways that do not cause problems for the rest us in reality certain problems are inevitable outcomes from having lots of bars or lots of Muslims.

But if all the customers only had one beer, the bar would not stay in business. So you've got a fallacy of composition there. The light drinkers are essentially freeloading on the heavy drinkers who keep the bar in business. If it wasn't for the heavy drinkers, there wouldn't be any bar for the light drinkers to enjoy.

Thus it's "quite possible" to enjoy a beer at the local without getting drunk and without being a drunk, but it's not possible for everyone to drink responsibly and have bars like the current ones to drink in.

It's also possible to be an honest lawyer, but the 97% of crooked lawyers give the honest 3% a bad name.

Similarly, it's possible to be a Muslim without being a terrorist, and a Catholic priest without being a pedophile.

But there are things about the structural reality of bars, the legal profession, Islam, and the Catholic priesthood which give rise repeatedly to those problematic behaviors, and which may, despite protestations to the contrary, be "essential" in the sense that if you made the changes necessary to completely stamp out the bad behaviors, the respective institutions would be so fundamentally altered as to have had their historic identity obliterated.

That is, if you found a way to make Islam unappealing to terrorists, the legal profession unappealing to lying crooks, the Catholic priesthood unappealing to gay pedophiles, and bars unappealing to drunks, you would basically have to destroy what each of those things is now.

I agree with this argument. Another analogy to religion fits a bit better: Infectious diseases. Take influenza for example. Some people who are exposed to a virulent strain of influenza do not get sick at all. Others get mildly sick. Some very very sick and some get deathly ill. Still others die from it. Imagine someone saying "Influenza isn't a killer because it does not kill everyone". Or "Smallpox isn't deadly because some people survive it". Some people survive bad ideas too. That doesn't make the ideas into good or neutral ideas. They are still bad.

Some other Danimal posts from Kokkarinen's archive of Danimal Usenet postings:

Even religious fanatics are able to compartmentalize. Consider the Muslim terrorists who believe after they blow up their suicide bombs, they will wake up in paradise with 72 beautiful virgin girls to enjoy deflowering. They can believe all that nonsense, to the point of killing themselves, and yet the same culture has no problem recognizing the AK-47 is a pretty good weapon. They don't reject the AK-47, even though it came from the atheist USSR.

Islam could not have gotten as large as it has if it required its followers to believe the traditional Islamic weapons of sword and spear are superior to automatic firearms. The successful religions have to be careful about how much nonsense with everyday practical impact they require their dupes to believe. The nonsense they promote has to be of a sort that isn't immediately falsifiable, which means they will be open to obvious technological improvements.

But there is a larger, indirect impact that comes from the general disrespect religion fosters for knowledge and free inquiry. The whole Islamic world is somewhat backward like Christian Europe was in the Middle Ages. It would be hard for someone like a young Bill Gates to succeed in, say, Iran, even if he did not directly challenge the religious orthodoxy. As soon as someone used Bill's invention to put up pictures of naked women, he'd be in trouble.

Danimal on the effects of Islam as the overwhelming majority religion:

When a religion gains a 99% majority in any given culture, it gets to demonstrate the true meaning of intolerance. For example, the Catholic Church of several hundred years ago burned scientists at the stake for the crime of observing the motion of planets.

In some of the Muslim nations, 99% religious majorities still exist so the climate for intolerance is especially vibrant there. Women get their fingers amputated for the sin of painting their nails and so on.

This is the natural consequence of elevating imagination to fact. Since imagination has no defense in logic it falls back to violence whenever it can get away with it.

A single Individual holding an illiberal belief has little political impact in a democracy. But make many such individuals into a majority of a country and suddenly the place isn't free any more. When some people say we should judge people solely as individuals they are making a mistake. Individuals also form groups and act as groups. We should ask what happens to a society when it lets in people from another culture or religion who will form groups with characteristics of the culture or religion that is part of their identity. We should not let in individuals who will form groups that will create problems for the existing majority culture.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 10 04:09 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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2006 February 07 Tuesday
West Waking Up To The Clash Of Civilizations

A New York Times article says "West Begining to See Wide Islamic Protests as Sign of Deep Gulf" (and it is good that people are becoming aware of this).

The catalog of Islamic terrorism — from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, to the March 2004 bombings in Madrid and the July 2005 attacks in London — has challenged governments and societies to distinguish between moderates and extremists, like the four British-born Muslims who killed themselves and 52 other people in London.

Ostensibly, said Timothy Garton Ash, an Oxford professor of European history, the clash has pitted two sets of values — freedom of expression and multiculturalism — against each other. Muslim immigrants, initially seen in the 1960's as temporary laborers, have formed permanent and expanding communities.

But beyond that, there is a seething resentment among some Muslims that they are treated as second-class citizens and potential terrorists in lands that deny the importance of their faith, even though the number of Muslims in Europe totals 20 million, and possibly many more.

Note that Ash's formulation puts the conflict in terms of a fight between two Western ideas in Western minds. But to the Middle Eastern Muslims the conflict is between them and those insulting infidels who happen to have much more money and power and who refuse to submit and accept Islam as the moral standard.

The Muslims have lower IQs on average than the white Europeans they live among. Therefore they do worse economically. However, they blame the Europeans rather than their own limits (which are just the product of natural selection) for their failures to compete with the Euros. Both the IQ gap and incompatible beliefs and values are very compelling reasons to keep Muslims out of Europe. But Western elites enforce taboos that prevent the truth from being spoken in mainstream media outlets. They expect us to bow to their bright shining lies rather than believe our own lying eyes. In a way, the corrupt lying elites and the Muslims have something in common: they want us to bow down and submit to their beliefs. The Muslims want our submission to the Koran. The elites want our submission to the secular faith of equality of ability and of multiculturalism.

Some political scoundrels posturing as ethically superior moderate middlemen try to claim that the right wing in Europe is just as unreasonable as the Muslim fundamentalists.

In some assessments, the situation rewards those at the extremes. "Islamic fundamentalists and European right-wingers both enjoy a veritable gift that can be used to ignite fire after fire," said Janne Haaland Matlary, professor of international relations and former deputy foreign minister of Norway.

Australian Janet Albrechtsen says the argument by Western intellectuals that people should not be offended has been translated into incursions on the right to free speech with disastrous results.

It's a bad sign when the cafe set of Europe echoes the Arab street on free speech. A survey by the Khaleej Times in the United Arab Emirates found that most people believed that "freedom of expression is one thing, but it should not be confused with acts of inciting feelings, which is what happened in Denmark".

If inciting feelings has become the new benchmark for free speech, we only have ourselves to blame for that misunderstanding. So many of the incursions on free speech in the West are driven by a well-meaning desire to create a world free of offence. A universal nanny state where all is peace and love, and never a cross word is spoken.

It's an impossible dream. Indeed, it's a nightmare. People invariably differ and it is debate and difference of opinion that drives progress.

We have already gone way too far in restricting free speech in an effort to protect people from offence. Tony Blair's religious hate bill is aimed at protecting Muslim sensibilities. And last week, it was only watered down because the British Prime Minister failed to hang around to vote in the House of Commons. By a single-vote margin, the bill is now free of key clauses that sought to outlaw "abusive and insulting" behaviour inciting religious hatred. But under Blair's bill, these silly cartoons could have been deemed an act of religious hatred.

The Muslims are picking up on Western arguments against free speech and proclaiming how hurt and offended they feel about these cartoons. They are using the position of our intellectual fools against us. I think we should dump the fools from positions of power and reassert our basic rights as non-negotiable.

Claims from Muslims that we should be more sensitive are rich considering the quarters these claims are emanating from. Muslims routinely use cartoons to represent the United States and Israel in extremely insulting terms.

Several of the original Danish cartoons are minted in the same style, beyond lampoon or caricature and well into the realm of pure defamation. Muhammad is seen with a huge knife and a wild thicket of a beard, flanked by two women entirely veiled but for their eyes; worse, and by far the most inflammatory, is one in which his turban holds a ticking bomb. These images confront the highest religious sensitivities of many Muslims with precisely the same style of virulent rage that Islamic countries so carefully, even ritually, cultivate against the two great boogeymen -- the United States and Israel -- of Middle Eastern politics.

But if the right-wingers are just as unreasonable as the Muslims where are all the placards by right wing protest marchers calling for the beheading of all Muslims?

Militants in Iraq have called for the seizure and killing of Danes and the boycott of Danish goods. In London, there were placards demanding the beheading of those who insulted Islam.

Here are pictures of the placard-bearers calling for the death of those who make cartoons of Mohammed. Where are Western right-wingers who are the moral equivalent of those Muslims who want to kill people for exercising their Western right to free speech and free press? Some Westerners are so keen on finding ways to proclaim their moral superiority to other Westerners that even when their interests are threatened by very illiberal non-Westerners the posturing fools can't see beyond the West and notice the importance of the outside other. The fools are parochially intent on claiming the high ground vis a vis other Westerners, insist on treating the problem as being equally the fault of their Western enemies as it is of a foreign hostile religion and ethnic group.

To the extent that the Danish cartoon flap makes more Westerners realize that people in some parts of the world differ importantly in values and in other characteristics the Muslim reaction to the cartoons has important pedagogical value.

What set off this flap? See collections of the cartoons here and here. Also, the Muslim position that it has always been forbidden to draw likenesses of Mohammed is contradicted by the historical record. The Muslims did make paintings and other visual representations of Muhammad/Mohammed/Muhammed in previous centuries. I guess they should go back in a time machine and kill their blasphemous ancestors. Check out more Muslim paintings of Mohammed made in previous centuries.

Update: Lest anyone think that I believe lower average IQ alone is responsible for the state of the Middle Eastern economies and politics see my previous post "Consanguinity prevents Middle Eastern political development". Also see my post "John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq".

By Randall Parker 2006 February 07 10:37 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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2006 February 06 Monday
Supposed Moderate Muslims Try To Claim Moral High Ground

Not to be outdone by mere Arabs with their informal boycotts of Danish goods and recalls of ambassadors an Iranian official has announced a total severing of trade with Denmark over the Mohammed cartoons.

Iran has withdrawn its ambassador to Denmark and Iranian Commerce Minister Massoud Mirkazemi said on Monday that all trade with Denmark had been severed because of the cartoons, first published in September in a Danish newspaper.

"All trade ties with Denmark were cut," he was quoted by the Iranian student news agency ISNA as telling a news conference.

I see this as grandstanding. Lots of newspapers in other European countries have now published the cartoons. Why isn't Iran cutting all trade with Germany, Britain, and France? Well, that'd be a lot more expensive for Iran to do, that's why. But little Luxembourg had better watch out. Lichtenstein and other really small places too. Iran can afford to cut trade with smaller countries and it makes for good political theater for dumb Iranian fundamentalists.

The Financial Times points out the obvious: Islamic hardliners see the cartoons as a great opportunity.

The crisis appears to have become a rallying cry for other grievances and a convenient pretext for hardline governments and groups to advance their political agenda.

The severity of the reaction of rioters and Iran's government helps strengthen the hand of self-styled moderate Muslims as they try to claim they hold a reasonable intermediate ground.

Iranian fundamentalist students attacked the Austrian and Danish embassies.

A 300-strong crowd — mainly student members of the Basij militia — torched the facade of a building housing the Austrian Embassy in Tehran and pelted the mission with stones, firecrackers and eggs, smashing all of its windows. Later at night, hundreds of protesters hurled stones and fire bombs at the Danish Embassy but nobody was hurt inside the building as the staff had evacuated.

Denmark told its nationals to avoid Muslim countries. A Foreign Ministry warning, which affects thousands of holidaymakers and business executives, listed 14 countries travelers should avoid. They are Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.

Muslims who are not crying for massive killing of Danes are trying to claim they are being reasonable and fair even as they reject freedom of the press.

Meanwhile, moderate Muslims condemned protesters who have called for ''a 9/11 against Europe" and other violence. But even moderates insisted deeper blame for the escalating disturbances lies with Western political ideals that place press freedoms and other secular liberties above respect for religion. Jyllands- Posten, the Danish newspaper that commissioned the 12 cartoons, did so as a challenge to local Muslims who had discouraged illustrations of Mohammed from appearing in a children's book.

How dare we think that we do not have to kow tow to Muslim beliefs about what is morally right and wrong.

'Yes, the violence is clearly being manipulated by Muslim extremists," said Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, which represents about 400 mosques and Muslim community groups. ''But that doesn't change the genuine hurt and anguish felt by nearly all Muslims.

''This controversy may burn for a very long time unless there is a clear, unequivocal apology from the newspaper editors who have insulted Islam and insulted Muslims," Bunglawala said in an interview from London.

He wants that apology because he wants an admission of moral error. If they win such an admission the Muslims will feel emboldened to claim they have the right to tell us to restrict our freedoms when those freedoms make Muslims feel offended. Well, I have news for the Muslims: I feel offended by the existence of a religion that would seek to violate my basic rights. I think they have a moral obligation to reject their own religion so that my rights will be better protected from moral beliefs that I see as abhorrent.

Turkey's foreign minister is trying to strike a posture of moderation even as he claims we have to restrict our freedom of the press for the benefit of his feelings.

The prime ministers of Spain and Turkey issued a Christian-Muslim appeal for calm, saying, "We shall all be the losers if we fail to immediately defuse this situation."

But Turkey’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said that media freedoms cannot be limitless and that hostility against Muslims is replacing anti-Semitism in the West.

Even the so-called moderate Muslims want the Danish paper to admit to moral wrong. The "moderate" Muslims want to establish that they hold the moral high ground, They want us to accept that it is morally wrong to make fun of the founder of their religion. They also want us to accept that since they believe that it is morally wrong to draw their founder we should believe it too. They want their feelings to have primacy. They want their claims of hurt feelings to be reason we should accept their definition of what is morally right and morally wrong. Well, we have enough people in the West who think that hurt feelings are a measure of wrongness done that the Muslims stand a chance of succeeding. This would set a very bad precedent.

Steve Sailer has some excellent insights into the West vs. Islam cartoon battle. Steve says Northwest Europeans are constitutionally (and by that I'm talking human brain, not documents) reluctant to assert their rights and that is why a rights-based system can work in the West.

In a culture like Iraq's where everyone is constantly asserting his and his family's rights at the top of his lungs, it's hard for anyone to have rights if anything is to get done. In a culture like England's where each individual is reticent about asserting his rights or the rights of his family or clan, it's much easier for everyone to have rights.

You can see the problem that then develops when people from the in-your-face end of the gradient immigrate to the feel-your-pain countries. When immigrants bring their Middle Eastern hostility and assertiveness, the natives in the northwest are reluctant to vocally protest right back at them, because, well, it's just not done. They just give them That Look that causes their fellow Northwest Europeans to feel guilty that they've caused their neighbors discomfort. But it doesn't work on the Middle Easterners. They just see the failure of the natives to do anything substantial as proof of their bland white bread inferiority.

But the truly catastrophic problem for the Northwesterners is that their empathy and politeness makes it very difficult for them to publicly discuss the problems that immigration of Middle Easterners causes for them. To say out loud, "Maybe we shouldn't let in more of these people," is seen as being rude toward the people we've already let in. The ones that are already there will get angry and cause a scene, which we just can't bear, so we'd better just not talk about immigration policy at all.

Of course, that means the problem just keeps getting worse.

Now, the Japanese get around this problem by not letting in immigrants at all, not even perfectly pleasant Filipinos. Instead, they build robots and program them to act like Japanese, which is a lot easier on the Japanese and their fragile emotions.

But we are also too reluctant to assert our rights in the face of aggressive Middle Eastern Muslims. I've overcome my own tendencies toward shyness because I think too much is at stake. We simply have to state uncomfortable and impolite truths. Islam is horrible religion that is incompatible with Western society. Middle Easterners have lower IQs than Europeans and they are too dumb to run industrialized countries or to have functioning democracies or to understand just how idiotic and contradictory their religion really is. We need to separate ourselves from them at least until genetic engineering provides a way to make them smarter.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 06 10:25 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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2006 February 04 Saturday
Embassies Burn In Syria As Embassies Attacked Elsewhere By Muslims

Some might see this as an example of the power of cartoons. I flash on David Byrne singing "Burning Down The House".

Syrian police using water cannon and tear gas fought pitched battles with stone-throwing protestors into Saturday evening.

Witnesses said that groups of protestors broke into the Danish embassy and used furniture from the offices to start fires which spread to the entire three-storey building. The building also houses the Swedish and Chilean embassies.

The embassies were closed at the time of the attacks and there were no reports of casualties at either building.

The Gaza Strip was also the scene of angry attacks on European diplomatic missions on Saturday. Around a dozen men, many of them masked, threw missiles at the German consulate office - which was closed at the time - while protestors also managed to hoist a Palestinian flag above the European Union's offices next door.

After burning the Danish embassy the rioters moved on to burn the Norwegian embassy.

Demonstrators later stormed the Norwegian embassy in Damascus, which is housed in a different building. According to the AFP news bureau 11 demonstrators were injured when the Syrian police tried to keep them away from the building. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry says the building burned to the ground.

The rioting was sparked by text messages that made false claims that the Danes were able to start burning Korans.

"Denmark wants to burn the sacred Koran Saturday in Copenhagen in response to the Muslim boycott" of Danish products, the message in Egypt said, calling on Muslims to curse the Danish.

"Send (this message on) and you will be rewarded," the text said.

The Syrian rioters tried but failed to burn the French embassy in Damascus.

Denmark and Norway condemned Syria for failing its international obligations and urged their citizens to leave.

Demonstrators also tried to storm the French mission, but were stopped.

Muslim protestors in London hate free speech even as they use their right to free speech (and there's a lesson to be learned from that fact).

The 400 or so protesters, including a group of women in burqas, waved placards bearing slogans such as "Behead the one who insults the prophet" and "Free speech go to hell".

The demonstrators, who also passed the French and German embassies, burned flags and threatened fresh terrorist attacks in revenge for the cartoons.

These 400 protesters strike me as people who belong on the top of a deportation list.

Burning down embassies is par for the course in the Middle East. A month ago Britain, Canada, and Australia closed their embassies in Amman Jordan due to some attack threat. More recently a mob tried to attack the Danish Embassy in Jakarta Indonesia which happens to be in the 25th floor of a building.

Up to 300 militant Indonesian Muslims went on a rampage inside the lobby of a Jakarta building housing the Danish embassy on Friday in protest over cartoons that Muslims say insult Islam and the Prophet Mohammad.

Imagine that mob had succeeded. Can buildings tens of stories high (which haven't been hit by a jumbo jet piloted by Muslim extremists) burn down or do they have sufficient fire control equipment to stop fires from getting out of control?

Muslim protestors in London want to kill everyone in Denmark.

Yesterday there was another protest in London involving hundreds of demonstrators chanting "Kill, kill Denmark!" They burned the Denmark flag and converged on the embassy.

Muslim immigration is bad. Why should the Brits or the Danes or, for that matter, the Dutch, Germans, or French have to have foreign cultures in their midst that reject their societies? Did the Europeans do something to deserve "getting hit on the head lessons"? Or are their leaders traitors to their own cultures?

If you haven't seen this yet Michelle Malkin has pictures of Muslim protestors in London England. Their signs include "Freedom Go To Hell", "Be Prepared for the Real Holocaust", "Behead Those Who Insult Islam", "Massacre Those Who Insult Islam", "Exterminate Those Who Insult Islam", "Annihilate Those Who Insult Islam", and "Europe You Will Pay, Demolition Is On Its Way". These people are not British in belief. They are not British in their political loyalties. They are not friendly toward what Britain represents. Why are they in Britain?

The fuss is all about these cartoons or these cartoons. Here are the 12 Danish cartoons about Islam and Mohammed that have the Muslims trying to oppress us. Yet Muslims did make paintings and other visual representations of Muhammad/Mohammed/Muhammed in previous centuries.

Want to understand the Danish cartoon conflict in a nutshell? Muslims hold other values ahead of freedom and that is the key thing you must understand about them.

Summing up the cultural rift between Islam and the West, imam Ahmed Abu Laban told worshippers at Friday prayers in a Copenhagen mosque: “In the West, freedom of speech is sacred; To us, the prophet is sacred.”

I think it speaks volumes about the Muslims that they can get all upset about how the Danes are terrible. The Danes! We are talking about the Danes. Denmark. The mind boggles. When was the last time the Danes did anything seriously harmful to humanity? People who target the Danes are a little people, a silly people - greedy, barbarous, and cruel.

Update: Muslim rioters burned down the Danish Consulate in a Christian neighborhood of Beirut.

BEIRUT, Feb. 5 — Protesters angry over European drawings of the Prophet Muhammad attacked a building housing the Danish Consulate here early today, setting it afire and clashing with Lebanese security forces just a day after protesters in Syria set fire to the Danish and Norwegian Embassies in Damascus.

The rioters also attacked Christian buildings.

But in the streets, fistfights broke out between Christian and Muslim Lebanese, after protesters threw rocks at a Maronite Catholic Church, broke windows at the Lebanese Red Cross office and shattered windshields of cars. Bands of Christian youths congregated with sticks and iron bars, promising to defend their neighborhoods.

One leaflet circulating in Beirut called Muslims to action to defend against a supposed US war against Islam.

"What are you going to do?" asked a leaflet circulated in Beirut that called for Sunday's protest.

"Bush and his group have invaded and are fighting wars by all means available," it added. "Their goal: destroying the Islamic nation ideologically and economically and stealing and looting its resources."

Lebanon is no stranger to political violence, having endured a 15 year civil war that ended only in 1990. A group claiming to be part of Al Qaeda just blew up a bomb near a Lebanese army barracks 3 days ago.

Beirut, Lebanon - A bomb exploded near a Lebanese army barracks in Beirut early on Thursday, shortly after a purported threat by al-Qaeda to attack security installations in Lebanon.

The group is protesting that some of it members were arrested several weeks ago.

Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah has not disarmed since the end of the civil war.

ALONG the shabby streets of the overcrowded and impoverished Hezbollah stronghold of Haret Hreik, in south Beirut, there is unflinching support for the right of the militant Lebanese Shia group to bear arms and for its allegiance to Syria.

"So what if Hezbollah is with the Syrian regime? We are Arabs, not American-lovers like the Lebanese who are calling for Hezbollah's disarmament," said Ibrahim Khatib, a 23-year-old biology student, as he waited for a taxi.

The split between Hezbollah and non-Shiite Lebanese widened as a result of the assassination of Rafik Hariri.

The powerful Shi'ite organisation, which has a vast social network and sizeable parliamentary bloc, has become alienated from the swath of public opinion that holds Syria responsible for the February 14 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri and a string of killings in Lebanon since then.

The Danish cartoon flap is deepening internal divisions within Lebanese society.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 04 07:41 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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2006 February 03 Friday
US And British Governments Side With Muslims Over Cartoons

Do not expect the governments of America and Britain to defend our right to free speech against Muslim theocrats. The US State Department of the Bush Administration would prefer that the press not run material that is offensive to Muslims.

In its first comment on the furore, the State Department said: "These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims."

Answering a reporter's question, its spokesman, Kurtis Cooper, said: "We all fully respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable."

US State Department press officer Janelle Hironimus says publishing cartoons that portray Islam's founder as a terrorist is unacceptable.

"Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable," Hironimus said. "We call for tolerance and respect for all communities and for their religious beliefs and practices."

Mohammed was a conqueror who killed lots of people. He wasn't a nice tolerant guy.

Brussels Journal (which has great coverage) points to the pathetic British government reaction. British Foreign Minister Jack Straw says the press should not publish things that will upset Muslims.

"I believe that the republication of these cartoons has been insulting, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong.

"There are taboos in every religion. It is not the case that there is open season in respect of all aspects of Christian rites and rituals in the name of free speech.

"Nor is it the case that there is open season in respect of rights and rituals of the Jewish religion, the Hindu religion, the Sikh religion.

"It should not be the case in respect of the Islamic religion either.

"We have to be very careful about showing the proper respect in this situation."

At the risk of stating the obvious, multiculturalism is intellectually and morally bankrupt. That the governments and populaces of Muslim countries can respond angrily in so many ways to some cartoons in a Danish newspaper speaks to the size of the conflict in values between major groups of societies in this world. But our "leaders" do not want us to know this.

The problem isn't the cartoons. The problem is that governments of Western countries have allowed people into our midst who think like these Regent's Park mosque Muslims.

Demonstrators marched from Regent's Park mosque, London, to the Danish embassy, with banners reading: "Kill the one who insults the Prophet" and "The only way this will be resolved, is if those who are responsible are turned over so they can be punished by Islamic law, so that they can be executed".

Predictably the Catholic Church is not rushing to defend freedom of speech either.

Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, a retired Vatican diplomat, said: "Freedom is a great virtue but it must be shared and it must not be unilateral. Freedom of satire that offends the feelings of others becomes an abuse, and here we are talking about nothing less than the feelings of entire peoples who have seen their supreme symbols affected."

Freedom must be shared? It must not be unilateral? Just what is this fool trying to say? How does publishing cartoons un-"share" freedom? Again, unilateral? The Catholic Church just wants its own beliefs immune from insults, jokes, and mockery.

The elites want the Western masses to be nice and quiet while the elites pursue their elite interests at the expense of the masses.

Another US State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, had marginally better things to say about the current Danish cartoon flap.

"We find them offensive. And we certainly understand why Muslims would find those images offensive," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in his daily press briefing February 3.

"At the same time, we vigorously defend the right of individuals" to express views that the U.S. government may disagree with or condemn, he added.

"For us, freedom of expression is at the core of our democracy. And it is something that we have shed blood and treasure around the world to defend, and we will continue to do so," McCormack said.

But then the State Department writer and McCormack get confused.

One of the offending cartoons, originally published in Denmark, depicts the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb. Islam bans visual images of the prophet. Muslims around the world have condemned the cartoons, saying they fuel a prejudice that equates Islam with terrorism.

Cartoons are fueling that prejudice? The Muslim reaction to the cartoons with calls to kill the cartoonists, death threats against editors, bomb threats against newspaper offices, massive boycotts, demands for suppression of freedom of speech, and their other actions in response to the cartoons show that prejudices against Islam are very well founded. The cartoons describe a real truth about the people in Muslim societies.

"[W]e would urge all parties to exercise maximum degree of understanding, the maximum degree of tolerance when they talk about this issue," McCormack said. He added that anti-Muslim images are as offensive as anti-Semitic and anti-Christian images and he expressed the hope that people would speak out with equal vigor against such images.

Anti-Muslim images that show Muslims as oppressive and violent convey a great deal of truth. Suppressing those images therefore suppresses the truth.

However, an even bigger issue is at stake. Why should religions be on some pedestal immune from criticism? We criticise secular belief systems. We make fun of, mock, deride, insult, and otherwise attack secular belief systems. Listen to Democrats talking about Republicans or vice versa. Listen to criticism of fascism or communism. Religious beliefs are just as much factors in forming political beliefs as are secular beliefs. Religion matters in politics. Religions should have no special immunity from criticism. Religious believers should not have immunity from criticism. They've provided us with plenty of reasons to criticise them. For our best interests we need to be able to do so, and that holds true especially for Islam.

Update: Muslims hold other values ahead of freedom and that is the key thing you must understand about them.

Summing up the cultural rift between Islam and the West, imam Ahmed Abu Laban told worshippers at Friday prayers in a Copenhagen mosque: “In the West, freedom of speech is sacred; To us, the prophet is sacred.”

Muslim immigrants are incompatible with a free society. They do not want us to look at these cartoons or these cartoons.

Update II: While some European leaders defend the right to freedom of speech the Catholic Church sides against any criticism of religions that causes some of the believers to feel insulted.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said she understood Muslims were hurt, though that did not justify violence.

''Freedom of the press is one of the great assets as a component of democracy, but we also have the value and asset of freedom of religion," Merkel told an international security conference in Munich.

The Vatican deplored the violence but said certain provocative forms of criticism were unacceptable. ''The right to freedom of thought and expression . . . cannot entail the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers," the Vatican said in its first statement on the controversy.

So basically the Vatican is illiberal to the core. Glad they stood up to be counted so we know where they stand: in the ranks of the enemy.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 03 10:56 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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2006 February 02 Thursday
Muslims Huff And Puff Over Cartoons And EU Mandarins Appease

Some EU mandarins do not like the decision of a Danish newspaper to publish cartoons which made fun of Islam's founder Mohammed.

The EU also entered the fray. Peter Mandelson, the trade commissioner, said that newspapers had been deliberately provocative in republishing the drawings. Franco Frattini, the EU justice commissioner, said that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten had been "imprudent" to publish the 12 cartoons on September 30. Publication was wrong, he said, "even if the satire used was aimed at a distorted interpretation of religion, such as that used by terrorists to recruit young people, sometimes to the point of sending them into action as suicide bombers".

Even Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, was drawn into the debate, saying that freedom of the press should not be an excuse for insulting religions.

But not everyone was acquiescent. France's interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, said he preferred "an excess of caricature to an excess of censure".

But some European newspapers have awakened to the fact that an important principle is at stake.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung went further, calling for the caricatures to be published in as many newspapers as possible. Urging "Europe-wide solidarity", it said: "Religious fundamentalists who do not respect the difference between satire and blasphemy have a problem not only with Denmark, but with the entire western world."

F.A.Z. doesn't go far enough. It should be entirely legal to blaspheme. So what if there is a difference between satire and blasphemy. That should be irrelevant.

In Britain the Labour government lost by 1 vote in an attempt to outlaw insults to religions. I think it should be perfectly legal to state that you hate a religion and to encourage others to hate it too. But in a close vote a religious hatred law almost passed the British House of Commons.

Austria's Foreign Minister is not being helpful either.

Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said EU leaders have a responsibility to "clearly condemn" insults to any religion.

No Ursula, EU leaders do not have a responsibility to condemn insults to religions. We should be free to insult religions and say things that religious believers see as blasphemy.

A group of Muslims from Denmark went on a trip to the Middle East to drum up anger at the cartoons.

The cartoons row grew yesterday with sharp questions asked about a group of Danish imams who toured the Middle East denouncing their own country for allowing images of the Prophet Mohammed to be published.

The group created a 43-page dossier on what they said was rampant racism and Islamophobia in Denmark and took it to politicians and leading clerics in Egypt and Lebanon in a series of trips late last year.

Ahmed Akkari, a Muslim who lives in Copenhagen Denmark, is a spokesman for the Muslims who toured the Middle East drumming up anger at the cartoons. Akkari sees the killing of Theo van Gogh for his anti-Islam film Submission as "punishment".

Mr Akkari is the spokesman for a group of Danish imams and activists who brought the cartoons - plus three more offensive ones from an unknown source - to the wider attention of Muslims in trips to Egypt and Lebanon. One of the three new cartoons shows Mohammed with a pig's snout.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Akkari referred to the murder of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands in 2004. Mr van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death by a Muslim extremist as "punishment" for making a film about the repression of Muslim women that included images of naked women with Koranic verses on their skin.

The Danes ought to deport Akkari.

My definition of "Islamophobia": The recognition that Islam is incompatible with the Western notions of freedom of speech, press, and religion and the recognition that a significant Muslim minority in a country is a recipe for trouble.

EU workers who try to improve the lives of Palestinians are now in danger of getting kidnapped or killed.

A European Commission spokeswoman said: “Colleagues working in the region are usually there to try to improve the lot of Palestinian people, and those who make the threats should bear that in mind. We oppose all use of violence.”

In Pakistan 400 Muslim students shouted “Death to Denmark” and “Death to France”. They burnt Danish and French flags and an effigy of the Danish Prime Minister. Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the chief of Pakistan’s main alliance of Islamic parties, said: “We have called for countrywide protests on Friday.”

Lesson: Do not try to help people who are not going to feel gratitude.

Danes, Norwegians, and French people would be wise to leave the West Bank and Gaza.

Two armed Palestinian groups have threatened to target Danes, Norwegians and French nationals in the Middle East.

“All nationals and those who work in the diplomatic corps of these countries can be considered targets of the Popular Resistance Committee and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades,” the groups warned.

Finnish Muslims are boycotting Danish products.

Khodr Chehab, the imam of the Islamic Society of Finland, told the Finnish News Agency (STT) on Wednesday that the depictions of the prophet Muhammed printed by Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in September were meant to offend Muslims.


Mr Chehab added that Finnish Muslims had already initiated a boycott of Danish products.

"This boycott is already taking place. All the Muslims, or lets say the majority of Muslims, in Finland are already boycotting Danish products."

I wonder if any Danish Muslims are doing their shopping in Sweden or Germany.

In Qatar foreigners are maintaining some demand for Danish products.

However, medium and smaller foodstuff outlets and grocery stores played down the boycott call given by Islamic scholars and said that foreigners were still demanding Danish products, especially butter, cheese and milk.

Smaller grocery stores said they did get enquiries about Danish products, but could not afford to remove Danish products from their shelves due to demand, particularly from non-Arabs, including Muslims.

Palestinians might start killing Danes, French, and Norwegians in their midst.

Gunmen in the West Bank city of Nablus entered four hotels to search for foreigners to abduct and warned their owners not to host guests from several European countries. Gunmen said they were also searching apartments in Nablus for Europeans.

Militants in Gaza said they would shut down media offices from France, Norway, Denmark and Germany, singling out the French news agency Agence France Presse.

"Any citizens of these countries, who are present in Gaza, will put themselves in danger," a Fatah-affiliated gunman said outside the EU Commission's office in Gaza, flanked by two masked men holding rifles.

If the European governments don't apologize by Thursday evening, "any visitor of these countries will be targeted," he said.

Europeans take note. Islamist and Prime Minister of Turkey Erdogan thinks that freedom of speech should not include freedom to insult Islam.

But the principle of freedom of speech was targeted by Egypt's Mubarak, who was quoted Thursday as saying that freedom of speech must not be used as an excuse to insult religious beliefs.

His views were echoed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who condemned the cartoons as an attack on the spiritual and moral values of Muslims and said during a meeting with French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy in Ankara that the freedom of the press must have limits, Turkey's Andalou news agency reported.

If Turkey is admitted to the EU it will some day become the biggest population in the EU. Do Europeans want such an illiberal country in the EU?

Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper whose publishing of the cartoons about Islam and Mohammed started off the latest escalation of conflict between Islam and the West, is the highest circulation newspaper in Denmark. The Jyllands-Posten political editor, Joern Mikkelsen, says that publishing the cartoons was worth it.

For his part, Mikkelsen also seemed at relative ease on Wednesday, at least given the stakes the crisis could have for Denmark's image abroad. It may be seen as a pariah in the Arab world, but the conservative Jyllands-Posten will be seen by some now as a trailblazer in the fight freedom of the press. "Was it worth it?" Mikkelsen asked rhetorically and pausing briefly before answering: "Yes, it was worth it."

Mikkelsen said the subsequent debate over who is or isn't entitled to criticize a religion only served to further legitimize his paper's decision to run the comics.

Mikkelsen said the paper had not violated ethics or even the law, but it had nevertheless apologized to all those who were offended by the caricatures. "Of course you can ask yourself if the drawings were a bit naive," he concedes. "But in the end, this doesn't have to do with the pictures anymore -- I mean, who has even seen them?" Instead, the issue has been transformed into a conflict of civilizations.

The Jyllands-Posten staff have evacuated their building multiple times due to bomb threats. The staff of the Norwegian publication Magazinet get death threats and their editor is under police protection. I wonder how many people in Europe are now under police protection due to Muslim death threats. At least several Dutch politicians are under police protection from Muslims.

Europeans, recent events are nature's way of telling you that you need to get your Muslims on outbound airplances. Europeans should pay Muslims to leave. Steve Sailer says his immigrant buy-out scheme could work. One fellow has proposed how to structure the scheme to get Muslims to leave.

Update: Michelle Malkin has pictures of Muslim protestors in London England. Their signs include "Freedom Go To Hell", "Be Prepared for the Real Holocaust", "Behead Those Who Insult Islam", "Massacre Those Who Insult Islam", "Exterminate Those Who Insult Islam", "Annihilate Those Who Insult Islam", and "Europe You Will Pay, Demolition Is On Its Way". I think mass deportation should be on its way.

Update II: The Muslims did make paintings and other visual representations of Muhammad/Mohammed/Muhammed in previous centuries.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 02 11:07 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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Time To Buy Danish Products To Counteract Muslim Boycott

Muslims are boycotting Danish products (and Norwegian products to a lesser extent) in response to cartoons critical of Islam which ran in a Danish newspaper in September 2005.

Other Danish companies targeted in the boycott include Lego, the toymaker, and Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceuticals company.

As popular protests spread, the leaders of Egypt and Afghanistan warned the cartoonshad offended millions of Muslims and could be exploited by terrorists in their war against the west.

“Any insult to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) is an insult to more than 1bn Muslims and an act like this must never be allowed to be repeated,” said Hamid Karzai, Afghan president, strong western ally and moderate Muslim leader.

I loved Lego when I was a kid.

Europeans see a double standard in what the Arabic TV channels show.

A number of European papers, including Germany's Die Welt, Spain's El Periodico, the Netherlands' de Volkskrant and Italy's La Stampa, then responded by republishing the drawings in support of the principle of free expression. "I don't really understand the fuss," Die Welt editor Roger Köppel, who ran one on his front page today, told German television. "Arabic television has shown beheadings and staged bestial rituals involving Jewish rabbis. We're seeing double standards at work here, and it's the job of journalists to expose them." Larry Kilman, communications director of the World Association of Newspapers, says the "overreaction in the Middle East is disturbing."

Well, no kidding. But that double standard is because Islam teaches that Muslims should rule and Muslims should not have to compromise with non-believers.

Danish dairy company Arla, a big exporter to the Middle East, is laying off workers due to a collapse in Middle Eastern demand for Danish dairy products.

A leading Danish exporter to Arab countries yesterday announced its first job cuts in reaction to a boycott of the Scandinavian country's goods.

Arla Foods, Europe's second-largest dairy company, said it would lay off 125 staff in its northern Danish factories, adding that a further 40 people would see their working hours reduced.

"We will lay off, from tomorrow, 125 people working in dairy factories in Bislev, near Aalborg" in northern Denmark, spokeswoman Astrid Nilsen for Arla Food said.

Arla Foods, a co-operative owned by some 11,600 milk producers in Denmark and Sweden, is Europe's second-largest dairy company.

It is also Denmark's biggest exporter to Arab countries, accounting for one-third of total Danish exports there.

All of Arla's orders to the Middle East have been cancelled.

All Arla’s customers in the region have cancelled their orders and sales have come to a standstill in almost all markets. Arla’s warehouses are full, and further products sent before the boycott started are on their way from Denmark. Within the next few days, Arla will decide whether to suspend production for the Middle East.

That is a pretty complete boycott.

But many Arabs can't be bothered to figure out which products are Danish and so the boycott is falling more widely..

JEDDAH, 31 January 2006 — Quick, which of these three products is Danish: NIDO milk, Kinder chocolate, or Anchor dairy?

The answer is none of the above.

Many international brands have become targets of the recent boycott of Danish products, thanks to the confusion of consumers caused in part by the misinformation distributed by the proponents of the ban.

You beer drinkers have two easy ways to support Denmark: Drink Carlsberg and Tuborg.

Some sites have produced lists of Danish goods available in the U.S., including Arla cheeses (Rosenborg, Dofino and Mediterra), toys (Lego) and beer (Carlsberg, Tuborg).

I went digging for more Danish companies and products. In the market for some stereo equipment? Check out Danish company Bang & Olufsen for speakers, telephones, stereos, and video systems. See Bang & Olufsen on Froogle Google for mail order stereo equipment. Going to do some painting? Danish company Hempel makes paints and surface coatings. How about some Danish furniture? Need lighting? Le Klint has all sorts of stylish light fixtures. Or you could buy jewelry or sunglasses by Georg Jensen. That's a pricey luxury brand. Check out Georg Jensen on Froogle Google. Or go to the Danish Art & Christmas Shop and buy products that will ship directly from Denmark. In Oakland California Nordic House does mail order shipments of food, candy, chocolate, cookware, mugs, and other things Danish.

In supermarkets one can easily buy Danish. I see Danish Havarti cheeses in a nearby supermarket and have enjoyed Havarti with garlic and herb and also the dill Havarti. Here is a list of Danish cheeses including Danablu and Danish Fontina. Check out the Wikipedia entries on Danish Blue (Danablu) and Danish Tilsit.

If you have any more ideas for ways to buy Danish products please post them in the comments for this post.

Update: See Paul Belien's Take Note Cardiff: We Are All Danes Now.

Update II: Michelle Malkin has an extensive list of Danish products.

What has the religious pox on humanity gotten so upset about to stop buying Danish products? Cartoons. Just cartoons.

Update III: The Muslims did make paintings and other visual representations of Muhammad/Mohammed/Muhammed in previous centuries.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 02 08:31 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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2006 February 01 Wednesday
The Danish Anti-Muslim Cartoon Flap Keeps Growing

Some cartoons in a Danish newspaper that showed Islam's founder Mohammed as a terrorist with a bomb in his turban have got Arab governments protesting and Muslims enraged. Ho hum, and so what is new here? Anyway, a French newspaper's editor decided to run the cartoons to support the right of freedom of expression.

PARIS, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- A French newspaper waded into an international storm over freedom of expression vs. respecting religious beliefs by printing Wednesday all 12 controversial Danish cartoons spoofing the Prophet Mohammed.

"Yes," the newspaper, France-Soir, declared on its front page, "One has the right to make fun of God." Underneath, it offered its own cartoon showing Jesus, Jehovah, Buddha and an upset Mohammed sitting on a cloud. "Don't whine," Jesus is telling the Muslim prophet, "We've all been made fun of here."

In an editorial, France-Soir said it was simply doing its job by printing the cartoons, which first ran in the Danish Jyllands-Posten daily last September.

The French newspaper denounced "this religious intolerance that refuses to support any mockery, any satire, any gibes." And the newspaper derided a motley assortment of critics of the cartoon -- ranging from Arab ministers who called the cartoons an "offense to Islam," to the Islamic Jihad and other extremist groups -- as hardly the "paragons of tolerance, humanity and democracy."

But the owner of the French newspaper fired the editor who ran the cartoons.

France-Soir owner Raymond Lakah said in a statement to the agency that he "decided to remove Jacques Lefranc as managing director of the publication as a powerful sign of respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual."

"We express our regrets to the Muslim community and all people who were shocked by the publication" of the cartoons, the statement added.

Appeasement is not the solution.

However, other European newspapers are also running the cartoons.

PARIS, Feb. 1 -- Newspapers across Europe reprinted cartoons Wednesday ridiculing the prophet Muhammad, saying they wanted to support the right of Danish and Norwegian papers to publish the caricatures, which have ignited fury among Muslims throughout the world.

Germany's Die Welt daily newspaper published one of the drawings on its front page and said the "right to blasphemy" is one of the freedoms of democracy.


Italy's La Stampa newspaper and the daily El Periodico in Spain also published some of the drawings Wednesday.

The Muslims keep upping the ante.

Although the newspaper on Monday issued an apology for having offended Muslims throughout the world, the conflict between Denmark and the Arab world is ever-mounting: Arab countries have ordered home their Danish ambassadors, Danish products are being boycotted in several Muslim-dominated countries, and Danish and Norwegian flags are being burned on sidewalks all over the Middle East.

On Monday, a group of armed Palestinians stormed a European Union office in the Gaza strip, a day after al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades distributed flyers urging Scandinavians to leave the area within 72 hours.

Right-wing Danish lawmakers have apparently decided to hit back, with racist propaganda there making it into the media daily.

"All countries in the West are infiltrated by Muslims. They are nice to us while they wait until they are enough to kill us," said Mogens Camre, a MEP from the right-wing Danish People's Party, or DVP.

The previous article is on the question of whether Islamophobia is on the rise in Europe. Well, duh, of course it is. Every incident like the cartoons ends up stoking far more Islamophobia due to the Muslim reaction than the actual cartoon or original statement that made the Muslims upset in the first place. The Muslims keep insisting they have a right to scare everyone else into submission. Surely with each such flap more people notice what the Muslims keep saying and the vehemence with which they say it. Then the occasional train or bus bomb drives home the point like a loud exclamation point.

I like Steve Sailer's idea that Europe's governments should pay their Muslims to leave. The illegals can just get deported. But the rest can get money offers to exit the European stage.

Are the Muslims winning with their intimidation?

In Denmark, Carsten Juste, the editor of Jyllands-Posten, yesterday said opponents of free expression had won.

"My guess is that no-one will draw the Prophet Muhammad in Denmark in the next generation and therefore I must say with deep shame that they have won," he said.

Anyone have a link to English language translations of these cartoons?

Reminding me why it has been a long time since I liked a US President Bill Clinton has sided with the Muslims as their boycott has grown.

Supermarkets in Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen all removed Danish produce from their shelves. Arla Foods, a Danish company with annual sales of about $430 million in the Middle East, said that the boycott was almost total and suspended production in Saudi Arabia.

The Muslim Council of Britain, whose leaders are to meet the Danish ambassador tomorrow, deplored the newspapers’ refusal to apologise for printing “sacrilegious cartoons vilifying the Prophet Muhammad”.

Bill Clinton, the former US President, added his voice, telling a conference in Qatar that he feared anti-Semitism would be replaced with anti-Islamic prejudice. He condemned “these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam”.

Well, I'd like to see more European newspapers run cartoons that make fun of Islam. Then maybe the Muslims would totally boycott the European Union and the Euros could shut down all flights to the Middle East except flights to deport Muslims.

Writing in The Forward Danish Jew Jeffry Mallow says Danes see the Muslim reaction as an attempt to impose Muslim religious law on Danes.

It doesn't help that Muslims — both here and in the Middle East — seem to many Danes to be demanding more than just respect. Most Danes agree that it's unfair to depict the prophet of Islam as a mad bomber. But many public voices in the Arab and Muslim press are going further: They want Denmark and the West to honor the Muslim religious ban on any depictions of Muhammad. That raises images of imposing Sharia law on Denmark, a country that guards its freedom of expression almost — well, religiously. Besides, as one observer noted this week, Jewish religious law forbids the depiction of God, but Jews don't boycott Italy for Michelangelo's "Creation."

Denmark, like France, Great Britain and the Netherlands, is finally being forced to face the question of just what it means to be an immigrant. Does it mean accepting the culture of one's adopted homeland, keeping one's own roots as long as they don't violate the law? Or does it mean, "Thanks for a piece of your territory, and now I will teach you — or force you — to live by my norms"? And what's a free society to do about it?

Do not allow in immigrants who are incompatible with your culture. Muslim immigration is bad. It is time to stop it and reverse it.

See some of the cartoons here. More complete collections are available here and here. Pretty boring stuff. But enough to make Muslims go nuts.

Update: The Muslims did make paintings and other visual representations of Muhammad/Mohammed/Muhammed in previous centuries. I guess they should go back in a time machine and kill their blasphemous ancestors. Check out more Muslim paintings of Mohammed made in previous centuries.

Update II: Wikipedia has an excellent account of the whole Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons saga.

By Randall Parker 2006 February 01 10:19 PM  Civilizations Clash Of
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