Whose Side Are They On, Really?

Whose Side Are They On, Really?
Vol: 16 Issue: 24 Friday, January 24, 2003

Despite the war of words between Germany, France and Washington, we aren’t as alone as the media would have us believe. Rummy’s comment that Germany and France aren’t Europe, but may instead just be ‘old Europe’ may have ‘vexed’ the French, but the fact is, it’s true.

(see the Omega Letter report, “French Offended at Rumsfeld’s Comments” http://www.omegaletter.com/articles.asp?ArticleID=634)

(I heard Brian Kilmeade this morning on the Fox News Channel comment on the French Environment Minister, Roselyne Bachelot. She said Rumsfeld’s comments made her so angry she was speechless. Kilmeade suggested we repeat the phrase ‘old Europe’ over and over since it would be the only way to make the French government shut up).

But we are nowhere near alone, even if the French and Germans think that without them, we have no European support. Spain is part of ‘old Europe’ but it has aligned itself with the ‘new Europe’ and is firmly behind us.

So is former Warsaw Pact enemy Hungary. Hungarian Ambassador Andras Simonyi, for example, spelled out a position on Iraq yesterday that was as tough as that of the Bush White House.

“Our wish and hope is that this can be resolved through the United Nations,” Mr. Simonyi told reporters and editors in an interview at The Washington Times.

“But we have also made clear that a situation might occur when the U.N. process might fail and an international coalition would have to be organized to disarm Saddam Hussein, who we believe poses a clear threat to the region,” he said.

The Germans also had their nose put out of joint by the ‘old Europe’ comment. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer bluntly told Rumsfeld to “cool down” his rhetoric.

Rumsfeld shot back, this time through a spokesman: “If one considers the vast number of countries in Europe, they’re not with France and Germany on this. They’re with the United States.”

What you won’t find in most mainstream coverage of Europe’s support is the fact that when it was put to a vote at NATO, 15 members out of 19 voted to extend support to the United States even if the UN didn’t authorize it. Only Belgium and Luxembourg joined France and Germany in blocking the action. (‘Old’ Europe).

Hungary has opened a military base in the town of Taszar to train up to 3,000 Iraqi opposition volunteers who could support a military operation and postwar reconstruction in Iraq.

The Czech Republic has stationed a 250-man chemical- and biological-warfare unit in Kuwait, although it cannot deploy inside Iraq without a second U.N. resolution.

Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio indicated to a parliamentary committee yesterday that Madrid was ready to offer the use of its military bases to U.S. forces in the event of war, despite public opposition.

Polish Foreign Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said this week his country will support a U.S.-led war in Iraq “even without the agreement of the United Nations.”

Prominent backers of a tough line against Saddam yesterday announced a “Committee for the Liberation of Iraq,” whose board includes former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, former Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov, and Klaus Naumann, the German general who once headed NATO’s Military Committee.

According to Gary J. Schmitt, a member of the committee’s board and head of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under President Reagan, “There was always that danger that when we took this issue to the U.N., the U.N. would behave like the U.N. always does,” he said. “It’s increasingly apparent that France and Germany are digging themselves into a big hole. . .This could be the U.N.’s Abyssinia.”

(see the Omega Letter Report “Abysinnia, UN!” http://www.omegaletter.com/articles.asp?ArticleID=238 — note the report’s publication date)

Assessment:

The liberal elites that control the media are firmly opposed to action against Iraq, mainly because George W. Bush favors it. And by selectively reporting what they claim is global opposition to America’s potential unilateral action, they are winning their self-declared war against the administration.

Most of the country evidently now believes that the United States cannot make a move without permission from the global government. Do YOU remember the day America surrendered its sovereignty to the UN? I don’t either, but it evidently happened — or so many Americans now believe.

Opinion polls in both the United States and Britain show that public support for a war against Saddam Hussein drops sharply in the absence of a supporting U.N. vote. Only 29 percent of Americans back military action against Iraq without U.N. support, according to a poll released yesterday by the Wall Street Journal and NBC, while the figure in Britain is just 13 percent.

It is clear that the liberal media and liberal politicians who remain bitter over Election 2000 oppose action against Iraq because of George Bush and for no other reason.

As evidence, consider Clinton’s 1998 bombing campaign, codenamed “Operation Desert Fox”. There was no UN authorization. There was no Congressional authorization. It was a unilateral US action in response to Iraq’s expulsion of UN inspectors. It didn’t seem to offend the liberals then. Interestingly, Clinton enjoyed wide support from the conservative side of the aisle, even though they were at the time, impeaching President Clinton as you’ll recall.

This time it’s different. Why?

“Surely we can have effective relationships with other nations without adopting a chip-on-the-shoulder foreign policy, a my-way-or-the-highway policy that makes all our goals in the world more difficult to achieve,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

We didn’t hear much from Senator Kennedy when we were dropping bombs on Iraq during the Clinton administration. Were Clinton’s bombs more humane than Bush’s will be?

The liberal elite have aligned themselves with some pretty strange company in their opposition to America. They are on the same side as the Russians. The same side as the Chinese. The same side as the Germans and French.

But countries like Great Britain and Australia are already sending troops to the region to bolster the American forces already there. When was the last time the media elite had anything good to say about either the Brits or the Aussies? Hmmmm.

Musing right along . . .

We sure picked the wrong week to try and escape the cold. But the sun is shining, the ocean is a beautiful blue, and it at least LOOKS warm (as long as we stay inside). I am warmed more by the many emails we’ve received from you than this cold snap can touch. God bless you all.

Claiming The Higher Moral Ground?

Claiming The Higher Moral Ground?
Vol: 16 Issue: 23 Thursday, January 23, 2003

It appears that former US Marine and former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter is upset that the revelation that he is a pervert might cut into his crusade to stop the war in Iraq. To Ritter, it isn’t about the fact he was arrested for trying to solict sex from underage girls via the Internet.

Ritter says it is all about the fact that somebody leaked the story to the press because he is critical of the Bush administration. Evidently, that’s dirty pool.

Ritter finally ‘fessed up – sort of – to the fact he had been arrested, but, according to him, it’s nobody’s business what for. Originally, Ritter denied it, saying it must have been some other Scott Ritter — until his mugshot showed up on the front page of USAToday.

First, a little background: The Schenectady Daily Gazette and New York Daily News originally reported Ritter allegedly had an online sexual discussion with someone he thought was an underage girl. The “girl,” however, turned out to be an undercover police investigator. Darn!

WTEN-TV, the ABC affiliate in Albany, reported that Ritter contacted the teen-age girl/police officer twice in the spring of 2001. As part of his sentencing, he was ordered to undergo sex-offender counseling from a psychologist in Albany.

He did it not once, but twice.

The first occurred in April 2001, as he reportedly drove to a Colonie business to meet what he thought was a 14-year-old girl with whom he had chatted online. That little girl, as previously noted, turned out to be a great, big cop.

Two months later Ritter was caught in the same kind of sex sting after he tried to lure a 16-year-old girl to an area Burger King restaurant.

Ritter has an interesting way of looking at things. When you dissect it, his argument is that his credibility has nothing to do with his career as a talking head, so why is it the public’s business? Ritter will tell the public what is their business and what isn’t.

Ritter made an appearance on CNN (Fox says it won’t give him any more airtime) with Aaron Brown, who almost (but not quite) played hardball with him. Brown asked him specifically why he was arrested at a Burger King 18 months ago in New York State. It was a fascinating dance. “Aaron, I will respond the same way, this way, until Sunday. I was arrested in June 2001, charged with a Class B misdemeanor. I stood before a judge and the case was dismissed. The file was sealed. And I certainly wish you and everyone else would respect that.”

He went on to explain that he was legally forbidden from discussing the facts in the case, and, to my astonishment, CNN’s Aaron Brown didn’t back down, but pressed on. He pointed out to Ritter that there was NOTHING in New York State law that would disallow him from discussing the case, observing that criminal procedings are engineered to protect the public from offenders, and not the other way around.

To Ritter, being arrested as a pedophile is an inconvenience that might prevent him from doing the important work of being the chief American apologist for the regime of Saddam Hussein. Indeed, claims Ritter, he could have saved the world if we would just mind our own business.

“I was supposed to be on an airplane yesterday flying to Baghdad on a personal initiative that could have had great ramifications in regards to issues of war and peace. I wish people would keep the eye on the ball here. It’s about war and peace. It’s about the potential of conflict with Iraq, many thousands of Americans dying. And whether you agreed with me or disagreed with me on the issue, there’s no doubting and you can’t rewrite history I was a very effective voice in the anti-war effort in the campaign to keep inspectors on the ground.”

But now, claims Ritter, going to Baghdad to stop the war and talk Saddam Hussein into obeying the United Nations resolutions, Saddam would probably want to know if Ritter really liked little girls instead of wanting to talk about the destruction of his country.

“If I went to Baghdad and tried to talk responsibly about issues of war and peace, this issue would have come up. And it would have been a distraction and it would have actually been a disservice. There are people in Baghdad right now pursuing the initiative that I started. And I want to give them every chance of success. I don’t want to provide any distractions.”

Assessment:

Ritter did an abrupt about-face in 1998 following the expulsion of the UNSCOM inspectors by Iraq. Previously, Ritter was an outspoken critic of the Iraqi regime, claiming that Saddam had hid massive quantities of prohibited weapons and that he had rebuilt is military offensive capabilities up to nearly what they had been just prior to his invasion of Kuwait.

Then, inexplicably, he did a one hundred and eighty degree turn, claiming that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was incapable of manufacturing a thumbtack, let alone weapons of mass destruction.

So complete was his reversal that his former boss, Richard Butler, commented that either Ritter was lying then, or he is lying now.

But what nobody could figure out before was why. I don’t usually indulge in speculation, but at the same time, some things are pretty obvious. For one thing, people don’t wake up one day and become pedophiles. Most medical professionals who have studied pedophilia have come to the same conclusion; once a pedophile, always a pedophile.

Which suggests that if Ritter did it twice in two months — the second time being AFTER he had already been caught — maybe he’s done it before.

Ritter spent a lot of time in Iraq — he was the first American to ever address the Iraqi National Assembly, for example. There are little girls in Iraq, too. And Saddam has a very effective secret police apparatus. One that would not blink at arranging a ‘rendezvous’ for him — someplace equipped with cameras and two-way mirrors.

That would explain a lot. Wouldn’t it?

Musing Right Along . . .

Today’s OL is later than usual, but not because I slept in. Had some trouble for a while getting an internet connection this morning.

I mentioned the other day that we had decided we would continue south until we didn’t see any more snow.

Consequently, we ended up on the Carolina coast where the average winter temperature is 54 degrees. We woke up this morning to find a six inch snowdrift — in our room — that had blown in under the crack in the door.

The biggest snowstorm to hit the area in years. LOL!

We wanted to relax and take it easy. Since it snows here about every ten years, and the standard method of snow removal is to wait until tomorrow, we’ll be watching a lot of TV today.

The Lord has it all under control.

Those Warmongering Americans!

Those Warmongering Americans!
Vol: 16 Issue: 22 Wednesday, January 22, 2003

The Germans and the French have evidently decided that the greatest danger to world peace isn t Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong Il. The real threat to peace is the United States of America led by that warmonger, George W. Bush.

According to the French, it is time for Europe to speak with a single voice against the United States.

Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said Tuesday that France would try to rally the European Union to “speak with a single voice” and oppose any hasty decision by the United States to unleash a military assault against Iraq.

He said no action should be taken while UN inspectors are seeking more time – perhaps many months – to pursue their search for evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

“We see no justification today for an intervention, since the inspectors are able to do their work,” he said from Brussels. “We could not support unilateral action.”

The European Union is divided over what to do in Iraq, with France saying bluntly it could not support an attack any time soon, Germany stating its opposition to any war at all, Greece, the current EU president, planning a European mission to the Middle East in an attempt to avert war and Italy and Spain lending tacit approval to the more aggressive British stance.

In the face of this dissension, de Villepin said that Europe must adopt a common position of standing up to American pressure for an early military move.

“It is important that Europe speak on this issue with a single voice,” he said. “We are mobilized, we believe war can be avoided.”

Assessment:

There is nothing really new here. Europe has spoken with a single voice regarding the United States before. Back in 1940, that single voice said Please save us from the Germans. In 1945, the Germans said with a single voice, please save us from the Russians.

It is important to note that the French in 1940 did NOT have contracts to build a German oil pipeline. Also, in 1945, the Germans did not have contracts to provide the Russians with prohibited dual-use technology.

The French have threatened to use their veto to stop any UN resolution authorizing the use of force. The Germans would love to do the same thing, but they don t have a veto. That is an unfortunate consequence of having tried to conquer the world twice in the last century at a time when at least some of the world was operating under adult supervision.

But that was sixty years ago and all those adults are dead now. The Germans and French left their kids in charge when they died. Those kids were spoiled by their rich Uncle who made sure the current crop of Germans and French could live in peace and prosperity.

Like all spoiled kids, they came to see that peace and prosperity as a birthright that they deserved for BEING Germans or Frenchmen. If they had been forced to EARN that birthright of peace and prosperity, like their rich Uncle did, they d probably see it for what it is.

Instead, they seem to think that freedom is free.

Or maybe there is something else. Maybe they don t want the United States to invade Iraq and start poking around for themselves. It might be a tad embarrassing to find weaponry marked Made in Germany or nuclear technology stamped Made in France lying around all over Iraq. Especially since Iraq has been under a technology embargo and they d prefer not to have the fact they have made billions circumventing it for the past twelve years made public.

President Bush doesn t seem to get it. The poor, confused soul could only comment, Surely our friends have learned from the past.

Actually, they surely have. They have learned that no matter what, if they get into hot water, their rich Uncle Sam will bail them out.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder addressed a rally of his Social Democratic Party, saying, Don t expect Germany to approve a resolution legitimizing war. Don t expect it.

Excuse me, Mr. Schroeder. If there is a war, we are well aware that you won t be in it. You aren t allowed to. The Kaiser, Hitler, the Holocaust remember all that? Oh, and the invasion of France, too. (Both countries seem to have amnesia about THAT one.)

Sarcasm aside, (if that is possible — we ll see) the Germans and the French actually do speak with one voice concerning Iraq. That voice reverberates across the EU.

But as in 1940, that voice stops at the English Channel. The UK and the United States actually observed the UN sanctions, which meant the rest of Europe didn t have to worry about competition in the Iraqi marketplace for twelve years. War means not only the end of the party but also the exposure of the party-goers.

When Gulf War Part One broke out, Europe was just launching their experiment in reviving the old Roman Empire. The European Union didn t formally kick off with the Maastrich Treaty until 1992.

And that s when they began speaking with one voice .

That one voice kept whispering, Hey, we can make some money in Iraq.

Musing Right Along . . .

At this moment, I am sitting in my 7th floor hotel room ($31.00 a night a great deal) looking out at the Atlantic Ocean. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all seems right with the world. It is hard to believe things are in such a mess.

I slept in today really slept in, I mean for the first time in two years the sun woke me up. Golly, it s pretty! I wouldn t have been able to do this if it weren t for Joy Dass, Greg Linkous, Cecie Doucet and Joe Wynne, all of whom have done a terrific job in helping me keep up with the breaking headlines. I want to thank each of them, and all of you. I was deeply moved at how many of you emailed me to tell me to take some time off, not to worry about anything and to relax.

Our mission at the Omega Letter is to compile evidence that we can use to answer the skeptic (Scripture says the fool ) who says there is no God.

For all of you who have expressed your love and support to us throughout the year, and especially during this past week, I want to offer you some powerful and tangible evidence of our God and His love.

Look in the mirror.

Must Have the Wrong Guy?

Must Have the Wrong Guy?
Vol: 16 Issue: 21 Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter has made lots of headlines over the past decade. When Ritter was part of the UNSCOM, he was an outspoken critic of both the UNSCOM inspection process and of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Until UNSCOM was booted out of Iraq, Ritter was the ‘voice of reason’ making appearance after appearance to decry the Iraqis for hiding weapons, not cooperating with inspectors and for repeatedly violating all the numerous UN resolutons passed against Saddam’s regime.

After the inspectors were kicked out, Ritter made the rounds of all the talk shows and was generally received as a super patriot. After a while, Ritter’s star faded, Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, the impeachment trial and the general insanity that marked the last two years of the Clinton administration crowded Ritter right off the front pages.

When Ritter reappeared in the limelight, after Bush was elected, he had done a 180 degree turn from his previous position. The old Scott Ritter — the one who was the super patriot who criticised his boss, Richard Butler, for being too soft of the Iraqis — ws gone. In his place was the Scott Ritter who said Saddam never had any weapons of mass destruction, was being cooperative with the UN and who never got a fair shake from UNSCOM.

Ritter’s reversal was so complete that Richard Butler could only say that either Ritter was lying when he testified before Congress in 1998 or he is lying now. The big question was always ‘why?’

That question was answered when it was revealed that Ritter was involved in producing a ‘documentary’ about Iraq, financed by Saddam Hussein, that told the Iraqi tale of what horrors the world has inflicted on Iraq in the form of sanctions that deprived babies of milk and the aged and infirm of medicine.

Especially when it turned out the Ritter had accepted some four hundred thousand dollars from Saddam to make this ‘documentary.’ Ritter evidently suffered no pangs of conscience in taking the four hundred grand while simultaneously building a case for the Iraqi innocents suffering under UN sanctions.

Ritter made the news again this week when it was revealed that he had been arrested — not once, but twice, for attempting to solicit sex from a 14 year old girl on the internet. When the story broke, Ritter immediately denied it, saying that it must have been another Scott Ritter.

But somebody in the media tracked down Ritter’s attorney, who confirmed the arrests.

The Daily Gazette first reported over the weekend that Ritter — whose full name is William Scott Ritter Jr. — was arrested in June 2001.

The New York Daily News further reported that Ritter’s arrest was part of an Internet sting. The report said he was arrested for having sexual discussions over the Internet with a person he thought was an underage girl. This individual turned out to be an undercover police officer.

Both reports say that Ritter later struck a deal with Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Preiser that allowed the case to be dismissed and the records sealed. The reports also say Preiser was fired on Friday for failing to inform Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne of the case.

However, NewsChannel 13 reported in June 2001 about an arrest of a 39-year-old William Ritter of Delmar on charges he tried to lure a 16-year-old girl he met on the Internet to a Burger King in Menands. According to police, the intent of that meeting was so that she could watch him perform sexual acts on himself.

At that time police said William Ritter was arrested before doing anything, but was facing multiple misdemeanor charges for trying to solicit an underage girl for sexual reasons.

Ritter’s attorney, Norah Murphy, confirmed that he was arrested in the town of Colonie in June 2001.

Assessment:

Whatever else it means, this latest episode does confirm beyond any doubt what Richard Butler said about Ritter when he pulled his flip flop over Iraq. Ritter’s a liar. He lied about being arrested. There is little doubt that he lied to whoever he was trying to solicit sex from on the internet.

Ritter is married, so he undoubtedly lied to his wife, unless she approves of his soliciting little girls for sex. However, when asked, Mrs. Ritter had no comment on the charges.

Much of the opposition to the coming war with Iraq grew out of Ritter’s assessment that the Bush administration doesn’t have a legitimate reason to attack Iraq and that Dubya’s real motive is to please his daddy.

Smoke and mirrors. I’ve observed that people are willing to believe the most outrageous and ridiculous charges against the Bush administration, and against Bush himself — regardless of the source, or how spurious or stupid they sound.

And so far, every charge has a Scott Ritter in there somewhere.

There are two competing realities in America. There is the one that is, and the one we keep hearing about. The one we keep hearing about is the one run by an evil cabal of oil barons and financiers who pulled the strings to get Bush elected for the sole reason of seizing Iraq’s oil fields.

Then there is the one that is. That’s the place where a guy like Ritter is believed automatically, no matter how ridiculous the claim, unless or until he is proved wrong. And George Bush is a liar with evil intentions, unless and until he is proved right.

America is a house divided. Lincoln quoted Scripture in explaining the reasons for the Civil War — ‘A house divided cannot stand.’ It was true when Jesus said it the first time. It was true when Lincoln said it in 1860.

And it is true today.

Venezuela — America’s Next Challenge

Venezuela — America’s Next Challenge
Vol: 16 Issue: 20 Monday, January 20, 2003

With all the attention being paid to North Korea and Iraq, the crisis in Venezuela is largely being played out under the radar screen, but that doesn’t make it any less dangerous in the long run.

For starters, Venezuela is one of America’s longest and most critical suppliers of foreign oil. Until 1948, the United States was energy self-sufficient. We became dependent on Venezuelan imports in ’48, and since then, our appetite for foreign oil continued to increase until we found ourselves being held hostage to cheap oil in the Middle East — and now, by Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.

The stakes have increased in recent weeks for the United States as it moves toward a war with Iraq that could affect petroleum shipments from the Middle East. The United States used to get 15 percent of its foreign oil from Venezuela.

But the strike has drastically cut exports and contributed to a rise in the price of gasoline at U.S. service stations. By contrast, Iraq accounts for 7 percent of foreign oil, whereas Saudi Arabia accounts for 17 percent.

Chavez decreed a new law in November 2001 that makes the government the majority partner in any new energy venture in Venezuela.

That is part of the reason Chavez finds himself the target of a nation-wide strike.

The strike has brought Venezuela’s economy to a standstill, causing severe shortages of gasoline, food such as milk, soft drinks and flour, and bottled water.

“Some businessmen have reflected and have started to open their factories,” Chavez said during his weekly television and radio show. “Those who refuse, who resist, well, be sure that today, tomorrow, or after we will raid your warehouses and stockpiles.”

Unlike your typical strike, which usually involves demands for higher wages or better working conditions, the strikers in Venezuela only want one thing. The end of Hugo Chavez. Chavez is attempting to break the strike by raiding striking businesses. Any businesses.

On Friday, National Guard soldiers seized water and soft drinks from two bottling plants. One was a Coca-Cola affiliate; the other belonged to Venezuela’s largest food and drinks producer, Empresas Polar.

As a consequence, leading Venezuelan financiers posted the following offer:

“This is serious: US$100 million reward for the head of Hugo Chavez Frias, to anyone who puts a bullet in his forehead and one in his heart, afterwards to decapitate and hang the head exposed to the public for the same number of days as we have held the strike in Plaza Altamira, the Plaza of Liberty.”

Chavez, a Communist whose best friend in the region is Fidel Castro, is reputed to have donated $1 million to al-Qaeda in the days following the 9/11 attacks, explained, “An immoral elite is trying to bring down a people through hunger and thirst,” Chavez said. “But the people will resist.”

Assessment:

Unfortunately for Chavez and his rhetoric, it is the ‘people’ who are on strike. Opponents accuse the president of running roughshod over democratic institutions and wrecking the economy with leftist policies.

A combination of opposition parties, business leaders and labour unions called for a general strike on Dec. 2 to demand Chavez accept the results of a non-binding referendum on his rule.

Venezuela’s National Elections Council scheduled the vote for Feb. 2 after accepting an opposition petition, but Chavez’s supporters have challenged the referendum in court. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue soon.

Chavez was ousted from power once already after an April coup attempt that left 19 people dead. Loyal soldiers restored Chavez to power two days later after an interim government dissolved the constitution.

The strike is strongest in Venezuela’s oil industry, previously the world’s fifth-largest exporter. Oil production has dwindled to 800,000 barrels a day, compared with the 3 million barrels a day the country usually produces, according to the government. Strike leaders put the figure at 400,000 barrels a day.

Chavez also warned the government would walk away from negotiations sponsored by the Organization of American States if the opposition continued seeking his ouster through what he calls unconstitutional means.

Musing Right Along . . .

The drive down was perfect — roads were clear and dry, and the only traffic jam was on the Washington Beltway. We settled along the Carolina coast for a few days in Atlantic Beach, near Morehead City.

Off-season, an oceanview hotel room runs less than forty dollars a night. We got a beauty — 400 feet from the crashing waves, with a spectacular view of the beach and ocean. God is so good to us! (Now, if He could just raise the thermostat a bit)

As I’ve mentioned before, I am an ex-Marine and was stationed in this area back in the early 1970’s. We stopped for a bite to eat at a local restaurant where there were a number of active-duty Marines in civilian clothes. (Don’t ask me how I know they were Marines in civilian clothes, if you’ve ever been a Marine, you can tell)

What struck me was how young they were. Boys, some not yet old enough to shave — gearing up for a possible deployment to war.

If this trip has accomplished nothing else, it has renewed my respect for those who willingly give their children to the service of this great country and for those who willingly risk life and limb to keep us free.

These baby-faced warriors have barely had a chance to live — some may fall in battle in the coming months. A sobering thought.

Pray for these young men who stand — volunteers all — between us and our enemies. May God bless and keep them all.

How Much Proof Is Enough?

How Much Proof Is Enough?
Vol: 16 Issue: 19 Sunday, January 19, 2003

That is the question facing the United States government in determining whether or not it will be forced to use the massive troop buildup in the Persian Gulf against Saddam Hussein s Iraq. It seems that no proof is enough proof to satisfy the UN or, evidently, for the rest of the world.

The UN demanded Iraq disarm following the Gulf War.

Instead, once the UN inspection teams started getting close to his WMD stash back in 1998, Saddam unceremoniously booted them out. By the time the United States forced the UN to back its own resolutions, Iraq was in violation of sixteen of them. Sixteen mandatory resolutions! Resolutions that were the bedrock of the Gulf War cease-fire, without which, the Gulf War would still be going on.

Nobody disputed the fact Iraq was in violation of the first sixteen resolutions, but demanded a seventeenth resolution, to give Saddam one last chance again.

So the US went again, hat in hand, to the UN Security Council to ask the UN if they would mind enforcing the resolutions that were already passed.

Instead, the Security Council passed Resolution 1441. The resolution states that Iraq remains in material breach of council resolutions relating to Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait and requires that Baghdad give UNMOVIC and IAEA a complete and accurate declaration of all aspects of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs and ballistic missiles systems, as well as information on other chemical, biological, and nuclear programs that are supposed to be for civilian purposes, within 30 days.

The resolution directs Hans Blix, executive chairman of UNMOVIC, and Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA director general, to “report immediately to the council any interference by Iraq with inspection activities as well as any failure by Iraq to comply with its disarmament obligations.” The council will then “convene immediately … in order to consider the situation and the need for full compliance with all of the relevant council resolutions in order to secure international peace and security,” it says.

Finally, it warns Iraq that “it will face serious consequences” if it continues to violate its obligations as spelled out in the resolution.

So, when Iraq turned over a bogus weapons declaration that contained, according to UNMOVIC, nothing new it seemed a fairly simple call. The resolution called for an honest declaration, Iraq didn t provide it.

BUT the fact that Iraq lied on the declaration wasn t enough to declare Saddam Hussein in material breach of Resolution 1441.

Its important to understand what the resolution demanded. It demanded a fair and honest disclosure of Iraq s weapons production programs. The inspectors role was to compare that accounting with the evidence on the ground and satisfy themselves that the declaration matched reality.

It was NEVER intended to work as the countdown for a game of hide and seek with Iraq or if so, the resolution makes no reference to it.

What the resolution says is that IF Iraq fails to fully disclose its weapons of mass destruction, then Iraq will be in material breach. It says that, in the event UNMOVIC finds weapons that are not on the Iraqi declaration, then Iraq will be in material breach.

But the UN did NOT find Iraq was in material breach by lying on the UN mandated weapons declaration. And when UNMOVIC inspectors found a dozen chemical warheads in a recently constructed weapons bunker, the UN called it troubling but said this was no smoking gun;.

And after all this, when UNMOVIC found a cache of more than three thousand documents in the possession of an Iraqi weapons scientist, the UN said it was troubling, but no smoking gun . Blix said these violations were, Not a big deal,” said Mr. Blix, who urged the world “not to be worried.”

It would seem that if an actual smoking gun were to be found, the UN team would find a way to say it was no smoking gun .

Musing Right Along

Well, it was just too cold in Pa/W Va. So we kept heading south and woke this morning in central Virginia. We ve decided to go down along the North Carolina coast around Morehead City. I was stationed near there when I was in the Marines. Should be nice and nostalgic (and a teensy bit warmer).

The Replacements

The Replacements
Vol: 16 Issue: 18 Saturday, January 18, 2003

The al-Qaeda network is beginning to reap the profits of Europe’s experiment in multiculturalism as terrorist recruiters fan out across Europe’s immigrant Muslim communities seeking new recruits. The focus is on pressing the children of Muslim immigrants to provide a range of support services.

The Netherlands is an al-Qaeda stronghold from where officials believe they could launch their European campaign.

A report by Dutch AIVD intelligence service found that Al Qaeda is already rooted in the country’s large Muslim community. Al Qaeda has recruited young Muslims in prisons, mosques and cafes throughout the Netherlands, the report by the domestic intelligence agency stated.

Targets of interest are believed to be Britain, France, Israel and the United States. The report did not rule out Al Qaeda attacks in the Netherlands, with a Muslim community that numbers 850,000 out of general population of 16 million.

“The recruitment of these youths shows that a violent strain of radical Islam is stealthily taking root in Dutch society,” the AIVD report said.

Most of the recruits were either born in Holland or arrived as children.

Western intelligence sources said France could be the first target of Al Qaeda. Earlier this month, French authorities arrested several North African expatriates suspected of membership in the organization.

Belgium has also been penetrated by Al Qaeda, the sources said. Recruiters are working among the country’s large Moroccan immigrant population in Antwerp and Brussels.

Assessment:

The recent arrests in the UK of the six North Africans in possession of ricin — a deadly biotoxin — is in harmony with the intelligence that says al-Qaeda is turning its attention towards Europe — and also with intelligence that says they are getting support from Saddam Hussein.

Iraq is reputed to have stockpiled ricin. Ricin kills within forty eight hours of ingestion, inhalation or injection. It is twice as deadly cobra venom, and there is no antidote or cure.

Musing Right Along . . .

The other day, I realized it’s been more than two years since I had a day off. And it is starting to show.

Time to recharge the batteries.

An actual day off is out of the question, but it’s said that a change is as good as a rest.

And for me, there’s never been anything like a stretch of open road to help smooth the kinks out in my mind.

So, in the dead of winter, with the snow blowing and and the wind screaming outside, my wife and I decided we’d seize the moment, and get away for a few days.

Where does one go in the dead of winter for a getaway? (Gayle voted for Florida, but I’m sure she was kidding)

A road trip — up in the mountains in Pensylvania or West Virginia — perfect for January. Off season, no crowds, reasonable rates.

So, over the next few days, if your OL comes a bit late, don’t worry, I just slept in until seven that morning.

If it seems a bit more relaxed, blame it on the restorative powers of a nice drive through the mountains in the middle of January.

Have laptop, will travel. But not far.