Thursday, August 04, 2005

Radical Moderates

This is coming straight off the cuff while I'm working, but I had to get it out. The situation in Iraq has gotten me thinking about possible solutions to the issue. Well all know that the Iraqis need to take control of their own country for this all to work, but the question remains why that doesn't seem to be happening. I won't get into all the historic and cultural reasons for this, as I will quickly stray out of my league, but one thing strikes me that's missing in this equation that seems essential to a thriving, democratic Iraq. This missing element is a class of moderate muslims that truly understand what's at stake, and are willing to go to the same lengths, if not further, that the terrorists are to gain control of their country. We can talk all day about what's civilized, what's acceptable, etc, but this sort of thing doesn't happen by sitting around talking and hoping it goes away, or relying on a big brother (the U.S.) to take care of things for you. You have to have a dedicated force of people from within who are willing to be absolutely ruthless in their pursuit of the jihadists. They have to be willing to out intimidate, out fight, and out murder these scumbags at every turn. The jihadists have to live in fear of them, or all is lost.

I don't care about all this bullshit about "becoming one of them" or "stooping to their level". If you're not willing to sacrifice as much as your enemy, you are bound to lose. There isn't an independent democratic society anywhere that can't trace it's roots back to a group of radicals who were willing to take things to a level beyond what their enemies could tolerate in order to secure their freedom. If this group doesn't emerge in Iraq soon, all will be lost.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Steven Vincent

Steven Vincent is dead. Dunno if you check sometimes for new on-the-spot bloggers in Iraq, but in recent months a spate of newcomers caught my eye, a.o. Michael Yon, blogging from Mosul, Sgt. Missick with his blog A Line in the Sand and… Steven Vincent, whose blog In the Red Zone dealt mostly with his Basra experiences. Well, Steven was killed yesterday, Tuesday August 2. He was abducted at gunpoint in the Ashar neighborhood of Basra, together with his female interpreter Mrs. Tiays, and his body was found on a nearby spot shortly after, showing multiple gunshot wounds. Mr. Tiays was shot in the chest but is being treated in a hospital. She is in critical condition.

During the short time I got to know Mr. Vincents blog I nevertheless was impressed by his vivid writing style and ability to paint a situation as if you were there. I especially recall his report on a visit in a British Army Landrover to an Iraqi Border Fort somewhere east of Basra. Basra seems to have been the place he was irresistibly drawn to, he was writing a book about it, and his numerous blog accounts picture a telling tale of a city where – let’s face it – corruption and rising religious interference threaten to destabilize reconstruction.

It now seems Vincents criticism of the disastrous impact of strictly religious Islamic groups on Basran society may have cost him his life. He was killed days after a critical piece of him appeared in the New York Times. I don’t have the link to that, but below is one to his latest (and alas, last) contribution to National Review. Steven was not shy to calling a spade a spade and had no good word for, a.o., SCIRI’s interference in Basra politics (e.g. their appointing of religious zealots in technical capacities over the heads of competent engineers) as well as the infiltration of SCIRI and Mehdi Army puppets in Basra Police.

On again, off again...

BASRA, IRAQ — In the middle of an interview with Sheik Abdul al-Baghdali, an American-hating supporter of Moqtada al-Sadr, the lights in his office suddenly went out. "This is what your country has done to Iraq," he snorted, "stolen its electricity." On his pumpkin-sized face was the insufferable smirk of a man who knows — right or wrong — he has you beat in an argument.


Save a prayer for this brave man and fellow blogger. Steven Vincent was a New Yorker, and I think it is only fitting that the last words in this post should be his:

"I stood that morning on the roof of my building in lower Manhattan and watched United Airlines Flight 175 strike the south tower of the World Trade Center. At that moment, I realized my country was at war -- because of the 1993 attack on the Trade Center, I figured our enemy was Islamic terrorism -- and I wanted to do my part in the conflict. I'm too old to enlist in the armed services, so I decided to put my writing talents to use."

Steven Vincent, December 2004, interview with Frontpage Magazine


Monday, August 01, 2005


George, I love you!

John, luvya too!