discarded lies: wednesday, june 28, 2017 1:29 pm zst
You're the schlager in my gold flakes
daily archive: 01/03/2005
zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
What's It All About
It's one thing to be giving, especially in time of need. But how about repeatedly being giving to people who would like nothing better than to see you dead?
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Terrorists and Non-Terrorists
While some suicide bombers have been the victims of blackmail, and some have been led to believe, wrongly, that the bombs in their trucks would go off after they had left them, my sense is that most recruitment today relies on small-group pressure and authoritative leaders. Anyone who took social-science courses in college will surely remember the famous experiments by Stanley Milgram. In the 1960s, Milgram, then a professor at Yale, recruited ordinary people through a newspaper ad offering them money to help in a project purporting to improve human memory. The improvement was to come from punishing a man who seemed unable to remember words read aloud to him. The man, a confederate of Milgram’s, was strapped in a chair with an electrode attached to his wrist. The punishment took the form of electric shocks administered by the experimental subjects from a control panel, showing a scale of shocks, from 15 to 450 volts. At the high end of the scale, clearly marked labels warned: “Danger—Severe Shock.? As the subject increased the imaginary voltage, the man who was supposed to have his memory improved screamed in pretended pain.

About two-thirds of the subjects Milgram had recruited went all the way to 450 volts. Only two things made a difference: the absence of a clear authority figure and the presence of rebellious peers. Without these modifications, almost everybody decided to “follow orders.? This study suggests to me that, rightly managed, a cohesive group with an authoritative leader can find people who will do almost anything.

Terrorist cells, whether they have heard of Stanley Milgram’s Obedience to Authority or not, understand these rules. They expose members to unchallenged authority figures and quickly weed out anyone who might be rebellious. They get rid of doubts by getting rid of the doubters.

This is not very different from how the military maintains morale under desperate conditions. Soldiers fight because their buddies fight. Heroism usually derives not from some deep heroic “urge? or from thoughts of Mom, apple pie, and national ideology, but from the example of others who are fighting.

Milgram did not train terrorists; he showed that one instinct Cynthia Ozick neglected—the instinct to be part of a team—can be as powerful as the one that tells us to be decent to other people. But suppose Milgram had been the leader of a terrorist sect and had recruited his obedient followers into his group; suppose teachings in the schools and mass propaganda supported his group. There is almost no limit to what he could have accomplished using such people. They might not have been clinically ill, but they would have been incorporated into a psychopathological movement.

The central fact about terrorists is not that they are deranged, but that they are not alone. Among Palestinians, they are recruited by Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, among others. In Singapore, their recruitment begins with attendance at religious schools. If ardent and compliant, they are drawn into Jemaah Islamiyah, where they associate with others like themselves. Being in the group gives each member a sense of special esteem and exclusivity, reinforced by the use of secrecy, code names, and specialized training. Then they are offered the chance to be martyrs if they die in a jihad. Everywhere, leaders strengthen the bombers’ commitment by isolating them in safe houses and by asking them to draft last testaments and make videotapes for their families, in which they say farewell.

Given its long history, one must wonder whether terrorism accomplishes its goals. For some ideological terrorists, of course, there are scarcely any clear goals that can be accomplished. But for many assassins and religious terrorists, there are important goals, such as ending tyranny, spreading a religious doctrine, or defeating a national enemy.
Read it all, it's an excellent analysis: What Makes a Terrorist?
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Iraq's Shi'ite Future: Theocratic Or Secular?
Iraq's flamboyant defense minister echoes Jordan's King Abdullah, warning that Iran is trying to create a Shi'ite crescent stretching across the middle east.
Iraq’s Defence Minister, Hazem Shaalan, accused Iran today of attempting to “create a Safavian-style Shiite Crescent stretching from Iran all the way to Syria and Lebanon, engulfing Iraq and bringing about corruption in the country?.

In comments made to the Jordanian daily, Al-Qadr (Tomorrow), the defence chief also promised to release in the next two days footage of “taped-confessions from agents who, acting on foreign orders, were disrupting Iraq’s security?.

Mirroring previous comments Shaalan also called Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda’s strongman in Iraq and Iraq’s most wanted man, an “Iranian puppet, whose goal is to destabilise security and welfare in Iraq?.

He sharply criticised Iran for “its efforts at destabilising Iraq? and said that “its objectives were known to everybody?.

The purpose of the January 6th conference in Amman, on Iraq’s security, is “to put pressure on Iran and Syria to stop supporting insurgents? who are entering the country through their borders, Shaalan said.

Over the past year, a string of Iraqi officials, including Iraq’s interim-Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, and the interim-Iraqi President Ghazi Yawar, have accused Iran of meddling in Iraq. In a December 7 interview with the Washington Post, Yawar accused Iran of pouring “huge amounts of money? into fundamentalist Shiite parties hoping to create an Iraqi Islamic Republic.

Shaalan’s comments on a Iranian-style Shiite Crescent dominating Iraq echoed comments in December by the Jordanian King Abdullah, who said a new "crescent" of dominant Shiite movements or governments stretching from Iran into Iraq, Syria and Lebanon could emerge if pro-Iran parties dominated the new Iraqi government.
There's likely more than a little truth in this. However, Shaalan is also running for office and the Shi'ite list are some of his toughest competition. The Iraqi Shi'ite establishment thinks it has superior religious authority and doesn't think it should be subservient to Iran. The United Iraqi Alliance (the so-called Shi'ite list) held a surprise press conference on Sunday (which is not a day off in Iraq, it's part of the work week). Interestingly, the secular Shi'ite leader Ahmad Chalabi was there. He said he'd just come back from explaining to the Iranians how to butt out. They advocated pluralism and democracy and said they wanted US troops out, but not until Iraq's military was sufficiently strong. And they said that they were not under Iran's sway, and did not want to create an Islamic theocracy. All in all rather theatrical politics. Read more inside...
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
A Racist Plot
Jews may control the world but neocons control the blogosphere, so when one of them gets cranky and comes up with a scandalous idea, we have no choice but to spread the word (or our blogging privileges may be revoked):
Let's have a little game: We'll have a contest to see who will be the first major figure to declare the whole U.N. corruption scandal is a racist plot against Kofi Annan.

So who do you think will be the first slime to rush to the cheapest, most expedient conclusion? Will it be...
Go guess at Cranky Neocon's Race Card Watch
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evariste in Discarded Lies:
Winds of War Monday Brief
My Monday Winds of War briefing with Bill Roggio is up. Topics include:
A takeover of the Assam insurgency; Lasers directed at American planes; Nukes in the Middle East; Iran Reports; Iraq is Communism's last stand?; Saudi attackers ID'ed; Near miss by Israeli SF; Palestinians accept Hezbollah aid; A al Qaeda tape; Venezuela aligns with Communists; Ceasefire in Sudan?; Reforms in North Korea?; Holland ignores Islamic threats; Ignorance protecting us from bioterrorism; A look at Osama's tape; Tsunamis and the Oil and more....
[Topic list shamelessly stolen from Bill, because I am a lazy man and why should I make my own when he already did the work?]
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Attacking Jews in Russia
The level of anti-Semitic acts in Russia remained stable and relatively low this year, but three violent cases took place in Moscow within two weeks in December — and all went unreported in the local media.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Revolt Colourfully On Your Own
Could it be that Europeans today are suffering from Post Iron Curtain Stress Syndrome? It's possible, but what was our excuse before the wall was torn down?
The fact is that Western Europeans also had a hard time connecting with the suppressed people in countries such as Poland and East Germany.

Even though they were our neighbours and we shared the same language and religion with many of them, there was a widespread misunderstanding among us that people on the other side of the "Iron Curtain" actually wanted their communist system.

It was a general feeling that their undemocratic system was part of their "culture", their eastern tradition.

Sound familiar?
Totally.
There are many lessons to be learned from these Cold War dilemmas.

First, people in the Arab-Muslim world cannot count on a better understanding from Western Europe than we showed towards our own neighbours.

You have to take the first step yourselves.
(In other words, we're not gonna do s**t about you).
Second, Western Europeans in general are interested in giving a hand - we just need to be better informed about the will of the people.

And the moderate voices from your region need to be supported - if possible more than Havel - so they can also be heard in northern Europe.
Why would the will of the Arabs be any different than the will of Europeans? Democracy, prosperity and freedom are the will of all people even if they don't know how to go about it. And how deaf are northern Europeans, anyway?
Third, Western European countries in several respects are doing better at supporting democracy in the Middle East now than we did with Eastern Europe before.

Sure, oil-companies such as Statoil deal with Tehran without guarantees of human rights - against the will of the Iranian people.

But at the same time the Norwegian Nobel committee last year boldly awarded the Peace Prize to female lawyer Shirin Ebadi, an important symbolic support for the freedom-loving Iranian people.
Ok, this is where I lose it. Iranians are getting killed, including children, they kill girls by stoning, others are being persecuted but since the world gave an Iranian a Nobel prize, I suppose it should all balance out.

Fourth, that it does not help to blame others for not unlocking the gates, when it is oneself who holds the key to change.

We cannot help more effectively until you have tried harder yourselves.

In 1989 we witnessed the Velvet Revolution in Eastern Europe, in 1999 the Red Revolution in Indonesia and in 2004 the unfolding of the Orange Revolution in Ukraine.

Our next hope is a democratic and colourful revolution in the Arab-Muslim world.
Europe to Arab world: Help us help you
I hope so too. But it's not Europe that's going to help it happen, that's for sure.
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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
Babak Tehrani - Last Seen in Evin Prison
What if you were an Iranian citizen and you tried to escape from Iran and you got caught? Chances are you'd have to pay a fine or go to prison for a couple of months. Unless you happen to be Jewish, of course.
Elena Tehrani turns away at the mention of her son, tears flowing down her tired face.

Even 10 years after the fact, the story of Babak Tehrani’s imprisonment in Iran is painful to tell.

On June 8, 1994, Babak, then 17, and his friend Shaheen Nikkhoo, then 20, left Tehran on a secret journey to freedom. Leaving Iran was illegal and risky for the pair, both of whom were at the age of military conscription.

The two Jewish youths planned to cross into Pakistan, then head to Austria and finally to the United States. They and the man who was smuggling them out Atta Mohammed Rigi, arrived in the southeastern city of Zahedan, near Iran’s southeastern border with Pakistan.

Eyewitnesses there saw the two Jews being arrested by non-uniformed secret police, Tehrani said.
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