Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Facing the Heavy Night After Taliban's Attack on Pakistan Army Public School

Coffins delivered to a Peshawar hospital

Perhaps the most profound word on today's atrocity in Peshawar was had by the Taliban's spokesman when he rationalized the massacre of children from the families of Pakistan's Army. "We are facing such heavy nights in routine," he said, referring to the thousands of casualties inflicted by the Army on extremists in Waziristan. "Today, you must face the heavy night."

It's just that simple. Inflicting suffering on the enemy is, by itself, a victory for the Pakistani Taliban.

The BBC's story was the best I saw, Peshawar school attack leaves 141 dead:
This brutal attack may well be a watershed for a country long accused by the world of treating terrorists as strategic assets.

Pakistan's policy-makers struggling to come to grips with various shades of militants have often cited a "lack of consensus" and "large pockets of sympathy" for religious militants as a major stumbling-block.

That is probably why, when army chief Gen Raheel Sharif launched what he called an indiscriminate operation earlier in the year against militant groups in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt, the political response was lukewarm at best.

We will get them, was his message, be they Pakistani Taliban, Punjabi Taliban, al-Qaeda and affiliates, or most importantly, the dreaded Haqqani network. But the country's political leadership chose to remain largely silent. This is very likely to change now.

-- snip --

Still, even by Pakistan and the Taliban's gruesome standards, Tuesday's attack may be the most abominable yet.

-- snip --

And for the past few months, the Pakistani military has been conducting a ground offensive aimed at clearing out militants. The campaign has displaced tens of thousands of people.

The military offensive in the region has spurred deadly retaliations.

Khurrassani, the Pakistan Taliban spokesman, told CNN that the latest attack was revenge for the killing of hundreds of innocent tribesmen during repeated army operations in provinces including South Waziristan, North Waziristan and the Khyber Agency.

The TTP spokesman challenged that ordinary citizens were targeted, saying that five army vehicles are routinely stationed at the school.

"We are facing such heavy nights in routine," Khurrassani said, rationalizing the siege shortly before it ended. "Today, you must face the heavy night."

According to news reports, the Pakistan Army has killed almost 2,000 militants in North Waziristan in a massive offensive that began in June. If the Pakistani political response to that anti-Taliban offensive had been lukewarm or ambivalent before, surely that will change after today's enormous provocation.

Today's attack could very well create a multi-generational war that will continue until the Pakistan Army has eradicated not just their enemy but his entire bloodline.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Most Eyebrow-Raising Headlne of the Week

"Mexican pilot fired after letting attractive singer fly plane while it was full of passengers" - Fox News Latino

That's Pretty Frugal, Eh?

Canada's Foreign Affairs Security Spending

Those must be some parsimonious fellows, up north there. A government that chooses to not spend every dollar appropriated, but instead pays down the budget deficit and cuts taxes? And to take some of that savings out of overseas security programs, of all things? Wow. See the details here.

Ottawa must be a very long way from Washington DC, where we don't even have a government budget, but instead our politicians are passing, in a two day period, a 1,600-page spending bill that crams $1.1 trillion into eleven separate appropriations and uncounted - literally uncounted, since no one saw that monstrosity of a bill until the day before yesterday - goodies and give-aways to special interests.

I can't speak to the wisdom of taking savings out of their overseas security programs, however, I definitely admire the Canadian government's style of fiscal management.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Another Obama Relative Fights Deportation to Kenya

If Barrack Obama had a mugshot, it might look like this

First it was his Kenyan Aunt Zeituni appealing her deportation from the United States, and then it was his Kenyan Uncle Omar, and now it's his Kenyan - what? second cousin? maybe something else? - George Ware Obama.

According to yesterday's Daily Caller (here) George W. Obama appealed an order of removal before the Board of Immigration Appeals in Arlington, Virginia, on November 6 and was denied.

Quoting George W's immigration attorney, The Daily Caller says he is pursuing a request for asylum based on his alleged fear of becoming a target for terrorist retaliation against his Presidential cousin - or something - if he is sent back home. That isn't going well for him, in part because "Obama has what are called 'negative equities' on his record, including DUIs and other crimes."

A few minutes of googling turned up three mugshots for George W., all taken in different Georgia jurisdictions in the Atlanta metro area, one for driving while intoxicated in Gwinnett County, another DUI plus driving with a suspended or revoked license in Decatur, and one for battery in Cobb County.

Maybe he'll keep on appealing until he hits the jackpot and gets to stay, just like the Massachusetts branch of his extended family did. Until then, George W. resides in the Rappahannoch Regional Facility of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Baghdad Bob: He Stood Superior to Truth

We have them surrounded in their tanks!

"In an age of spin, al-Sahaf offers feeling and authenticity. His message is consistent — unshakeable, in fact, no matter the evidence — but he commands daily attention by his on-the-spot, invective-rich variations on the theme. His lunatic counterfactual art is more appealing than the banal awfulness of the Reliable Sources. He is a Method actor in a production that will close in a couple of days. He stands superior to truth." - WeLovetheIraqiInformationminister.com

Absolutely right. We all loved the Iraqi Information Minister. Baghdad Bob - actual name Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf - was the comic relief during Gulf War I. If you were anywhere much over the age of five back in 2003, you remember him, or at least Saturday Night Live parodies of him.

If you weren't around then, here's a selection of his trademark lunatic counterfactual art:

Bob wasn't a war criminal. He wasn't among our deck of 52 most wanted Iraqis. We didn't want him for anything, really. After he was captured we allowed him to leave Iraq and live the rest of his life in peace.

His life is coming to an end now, according to reports in Swedish news media. RIP Bob, and I really mean that.

And, in the fullness of time, was Bob really wrong about everything?

Check out The Eerie Prophecies of "Baghdad Bob" for a sobering re-think. Consider especially this one:
"How can you lay siege to a whole country? ... We are in our country, among our kith and kin ... Faltering forces of infidels cannot just enter a country of 26 million people and lay besiege to them! They are the ones who will find themselves under siege."

Today, twelve years later, as we send yet more U.S. troops back to Iraq, who looks more prescient, Baghdad Bob or Donald Rumsfeld?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Canadian Embassy in Cairo Closes Due to Security Concerns

Cairo's Tahrir Square

The embassies of Canada, the UK, and the U.S., are all located in Cairo's Garden City district, just south of Tahrir Square, which is the focus of civil disturbances in the city.

Canada's National Post reports that our fine neighbor neighbour to the north has been forced to close its embassy in Cairo today, Canada closes embassy in Cairo amid security concerns:

The Canadian Embassy announced its closure through a message on its main telephone number Monday. An Egyptian security official told The Associated Press that Canadians asked for all roads around the embassy shut down and more security.

He said they would increase security, but the roads couldn’t close.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to speak to journalists.

The British Embassy closed its offices to the public Sunday and Monday. Both embassies are in Cairo’s Garden City neighbourhood. The nearby U.S. Embassy remained open.

CBC New World added some significant details, Canadian Embassy in Cairo closes for unspecified security reasons:

CBC's Middle East correspondent Sasa Petricic said there have been security assessments in recent years that show the Canadian Embassy is particularly vulnerable in comparison to nearby embassies, including the British and American ones.

It is not set back from the street and is vulnerable on two sides, Petricic said.

Last month, a CBC News investigation showed that the Department of Foreign Affairs failed to spend almost half of the $129 million budgeted for “strengthening security at missions abroad” in 2013-14, leaving $69 million on the table.

So, the Canadian embassy is particularly vulnerable to security threats because it is "not set back from the street?" Setback! That's the foremost defining feature of those Fortress Embassies that critics of diplomatic architecture so loath.

Loathsome it may be, but there is no good substitute for setback when you are trying to operate a diplomatic premise in a dangerous place. Especially when the host government is unable or unwilling to close the surrounding public streets, which is something I can understand when those streets are in the downtown core of their capitol city.    

Regarding that unspent budget for Canadian diplomatic security, I hope for the DFA's sake that the Canadian Parliament has no equivalent of our Representative Jason 'embassy security is my pet project' Chaffetz.