Genocide vs women

A shocking article if true by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

One United Nations estimate says from 113 million to 200 million women around the world are demographically "missing." Every year, from 1.5 million to 3 million women and girls lose their lives as a result of gender-based violence or neglect.

How could this possibly be true? Here are some of the factors:

In countries where the birth of a boy is considered a gift and the birth of a girl a curse from the gods, selective abortion and infanticide eliminate female babies.

Young girls die disproportionately from neglect because food and medical attention is given first to brothers, fathers, husbands and sons.

In countries where women are considered the property of men, their fathers and brothers can murder them for choosing their own sexual partners. These are called "honor" killings, though honor has nothing to do with it.

Young brides are killed if their fathers do not pay sufficient money to the men who have married them. These are called "dowry deaths," although they are not just deaths, they are murders.

The brutal international sex trade in young girls kills uncounted numbers of them.

Domestic violence is a major cause of death of women in every country.

So little value is placed on women's health that every year roughly 600,000 women die giving birth.

Six thousand girls undergo genital mutilation every day, according to the World Health Organization. Many die; others live the rest of their lives in crippling pain.

According to the WHO, one woman out of every five worldwide is likely to be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime.

What is happening to women and girls in many places across the globe is genocide. All the victims scream their suffering. It is not so much that the world doesn't hear them; it is that fellow human beings choose not to pay attention.

It is much more comfortable for us to ignore these issues. And by "us," I also mean women. Too often, we are the first to look away. We may even participate, by favoring our sons and neglecting the care of our daughters. All these figures are estimates; registering precise numbers for violence against women is not a priority in most countries.

Read it all.



We have every right to kill our enemies. When we kill our enemies on the field of battle, it is both out of immediate and future self preservation. We kill because our enemy poses a threat to us, now and or later. But once we have captured them and have effectively declawed them, can we still claim a threat necessitating extermination? Sure we still have the right to kill our captured enemy, but it is not quite the same. A captured enemy is no longer an imminent threat, or even a likely potential threat. So to kill the captured foe requires a justification of more than just because he is an enemy. We can kill him because he has committed egregious acts. But what if he hasn't yet. Should we enact punishment for what could have been? Or is it for retribution and vengeance we should kill him?

I am a supporter of the death penalty in general, but I do not believe Moussaoui should get it. While he may have plotted and planned mass homicide, he actually did not do it. To put him to death would be in essence punish him for what the terrorists, but not he, did on 911.

We should reserve the death penalties for people who have actually committed a heinous acts.



V for Vendetta, not quite a movie review.

V for Vendetta

In a democratic society, the government is empowered by the people rather than in power over the people. When such a government becomes oppressive and homicidal, it loses its prerogative to rule and the people are expected to replace it, by force if necessary. This movie actually undermines this principle premise. The people are portrayed as helpless sheep capable of action only after being prodded by a hero, a person of extraordinary ability and means. What kind of message is that, telling the oppressed to wait for a Savior?

As living individuals, average and ordinary, we all have the power and capability to enact changes. All of us are capable of heroic actions. To wait in silence is tacit endorsement of oppression, acknowledgement that the oppressor holds power in themselves rather than as a conduit of our power. To wait in inaction is to allow others to suffer first, until yours come knocking. I find the waiting-for-the-savior ideation diminish all of us as sentient individual human beings.

Naturally our individual power is magnified when collected as a group. All revolution fails without popular support. Thus, successful insurrection requires timing and organization of popular support. And what is popular support other than a collection of individuals?

Before storming the streets, it is worthwhile to determine whether your cause is just, and the enemy real rather than manufactured and manipulated. That requires thought and analysis. That can be started by any individual, average and ordinary even.

Other Reviews:
Architecture and Morality


Public Relation on the War on Terror

Over at Neo-neocon there is a post about public relation and propaganda during a war. My response, with regard to the War on Terror is as follows.

The war against terror is a misnomer. This is a war against fundamental and militant Islam as represented by Wahhabism, spreading among the Arabs and through the Middle East. Thus if you see this as the primary threat, then you have to formulate a strategy to defeat it.

This administration's strategy is to fight fundamentalist Islam with liberalized Islam. They believe that if given the choice, most Muslims as most humans would not kill and maim innocent non-Muslims. Liberalism at its root is predicated on individual freedom. Where could they cultivate a sufficient number of liberal Arab Muslims to stand against the fundamentalists? By taking those who would crave individual choice after years of being denied individual choices and liberate them. You start with those oppressed the worse and work your way up. Thus first liberate the Afghans under the Taliban and follow that up with Iraqi under Saddam. Risky? Very.

Thus if you are about to undertake a massive social-political-religious transformation, do you declare you intent for all to hear, especially the target of your work? There was no way this could have or ever would be declared.

So where do you start after 911? By declaring an apparent target of threat, in this case terrorists in particular and states that harbor and support them. But if you are bound by certain international laws, like the UN charter, what are your options? With Afghanistan it was easy in appearance, the Taliban had al Qaeda and refused to hand them over, thus with a blur the Taliban and al Qaeda was treated as one and the same. Now it was Afghanistan-al Qaeda that attacked the US on 911 and thus we had the legal context to strike back. Done.

But Afghanistan is far away from the core of the problem of Wahhabism that is in the Middle East (Afghanistan more Central Asian). It would have been pointless to attack Saudi Arabia because you cannot cultivate the Saudi to fight Wahhabism. The Saudis were not craving freedom from oppression. Thus Iraq. Legal context? Violation of the ceasefire from 1991.

As much as possible all the international actions had to be interpreted as consistent with our international rights and obligations. The greatest stumbling block has been the American public perception that the war against terror should only be against terrorists in general and al Qaeda in particular.

What I am getting at is that while this administration has been poorer at PR than necessary, the nature of this war's strategy does not lend itself to a PR campaign. While it maybe easy now to sell capitalism over communism, this wasn't so clear 30 years ago. But at least we could announced that was your intention for all to hear. How do you go about declaring that we will turn moderate Muslims against their brethren the fundamentalist Muslims? How do you go about selling this to your domestic public and not let the international audience hear about it? I don't think it can be done well if at all.

I am satisfied with the reasons and motives for the war on terror, and its progress thus. Bad PR included, as you cannot always declare your intentions.


Modernity and Islam

Islam is currently at war with itself. Most obvious is the fight between Shia and Sunni. However, this is merely a manifestation of the war between what Islam was, and what Islam should be. The flag waved by those who defend and try to perpetuate what Islam was are predominantly carried by fundamentalists. Many of their banners were written not in the Koran, but in teachings through the ages, adopted as laws. Those who seek to reform Islam wants it modernized, but still within the teaching of Mohammed. I find this article in Asharq Alawsat very interesting (HT Xroad Arabia):
The juristic opinions expressed by Sheikh Gamal Al Banna, the brother of Sheikh Hassan Al Banna who founded the Muslim Brotherhood caused much controversy last week as the conservatives considered Banna's views daring and unacceptable. Gamal is an Islamic intellect well known for his conflicting opinion of the tradition of interpretation. Al Azhar had condemned his book entitled, "The Responsibility for the Failure of the Islamic State in the Modern Age." The book reflects what he had once said in an interview with Al Arabia Net, that if a Muslim woman in European society felt it was safer not to wear the veil in light of recent events then she is permitted religiously to wear western headgear rather than the traditional hijab.

What is positive about this Sheikh is that he insists on declaring that he is a religious scholar despite the fierce attacks waged against him by traditional scholars and religious figures. He persistently defends the image of his late brother Hassan Al Banna that many, he states, seek to "distort."

In his most recent statements (which are not new, as they have been expressed in his books) Gamal Al Banna regarded free-mixing between the two sexes as not only permissible religiously but in fact necessary. He views the connection of men and women as natural because separation in his words is a "vicious process."

However, Gamal Al Banna has not been the first Sheikh to express such surprising and bold statements and he will certainly not be the last. Why should such bold opinions be oppressed when they are derived from the same sources as those of traditionalists and not from Western literature. This is especially the case relating to women, which many believe (including myself) is the battleground for social modernity in the Islamic world. The fact remains that the widespread fear of the modernist discourse is caused by the redefinition of the female role i

One of the major point of contention pertains to the role of the sexes. If one think about it, the hallmarks of modernity rely on equality and rights. Equality of men and women, as well of the races, thus the social fabric that binds together the community. The rights and freedoms define how individuals may act within that fabric. Seems that many if not most Muslims have already accepted in idea if not in practice the value of individual, i.e. human rights. The battle of the sexes continues.

Related post:
All Things Beautiful


Dubai Port Deal

Dubai attempted to buy managements of segments of several US ports from a British company. Ownership and management were already in foreign hands. It seems prejudiced to tolerate British ownership but not Arab. If the concern is over terrorism, keep in mind that the majority of 911 terrorists lived and planned in Western Europe.
Dubai would not be in control of port security. Never was an issue other than continued misinformation by the MSM and perpetuated by isolationists, racists, and Democrats.

This is a gross strategic error: to raise a mountain out of a mole hill and in the process alienate an ally.

All Things Beautiful
Crossroads Arabia


Democracy: WaPo gets it right

For once, WaPo gets it. FIrstly that democracy is more than just an election. Secondly that democracy is not imposed. Thirdly that it can fluourish where it never had historical precendence. Fourthly that it recognize the defacto power in existence rather than empower them. And finally, that there is little better alternatives.
THE "DEMOCRACY backlash" is in full swing, largely because of the carnage in Iraq and the electoral success of the terrorist organization Hamas in the Palestinian Authority. In the past week our op-ed writers from right to left have expressed doubts about, or opposition to, the Bush administration's project of encouraging democracy in the Middle East. From their and others' arguments, three principles tend to emerge: You can't impose democracy by force. You shouldn't push for elections, or expect a democracy to develop, until a mature "civil society" is in place. We are better off with dictators like Mubarak, Musharraf and the rest than with the alternative, which is anarchy, terrorism and religious fundamentalism.

These are serious arguments, and those of us who supported the war in Iraq in particular have a responsibility to consider them seriously. It would be comfortable for us to blame the Bush administration for everything that's gone wrong there: After all, it failed to anticipate a Baathist underground resistance, failed to prepare for postwar nation-building, failed to commit enough troops. All true. But even war planners far more diligent and serious than this administration's will get things wrong -- an assumption that should be built into any prewar calculation. And even if President Bush had gotten a lot more right than he did, Iraq still might not be at peace today.

There are and will be many lessons to be drawn from that, but "democracy cannot be imposed by force" is not one of them. For one thing, democracies do sometimes emerge from wars (Japan and Germany). More to the point, the United States never has gone to war, and is unlikely ever to go to war, with the dominant purpose of imposing democracy. We did not fight imperial Japan because we were offended by its system of internal governance. We hoped eventually to bring democracy to Korea and Vietnam, but we fought because we saw communism as a threat. We believed that unyoking the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein would be a great benefit to them, but Congress authorized (and this editorial page supported) war in Iraq not primarily for that reason but because we believed that Saddam Hussein represented a threat to U.S. national security interests -- in the weapons he was thought to possess and to crave, his flouting of international norms, his totalitarian example and his ambition to dominate the Middle East.

The second notion -- that it is foolish to press for democracy in unready societies -- also is less useful than it appears at first blush. Of course elections don't make for a democracy; the Soviet Union conducted them for years. And it's true that many of the countries that have developed democratically in the past two decades began with advantages that not everyone shares, such as (in parts of Central and Eastern Europe) memories of a democratic past between the world wars. But other nations progress without that head start. Everyone would acknowledge that it's difficult; that culture, history and ethnic politics matter; that totalitarian habits take decades to recover from. But it's hard to look around the world -- to democracies in South Korea, India, South Africa, El Salvador and Indonesia -- and come up with rules to predict where democracy can succeed and where it can't.

The unreadiness argument is often applied to countries where the election results, as in the Palestinian Authority, are not welcome in the West. The fallacy of this thinking is that it supposes that without elections Hamas and other fundamentalist movements could be suppressed or excluded from the political system. But radical Islamists and others hostile to Western interests cannot be wished away: They are powerful forces in the Middle East that, until their recent participation in elections, pursued their goals by terrorism. Democratic participation has caused Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah and at least some of Iraq's Sunni and Shiite groups to scale back violence at least temporarily. Over time, it is more likely than exclusion and suppression to moderate their political aims.

Amore fundamental problem with the readiness argument is that it imagines a choice that policymakers rarely enjoy. Yes, we might welcome the benign dictator who would nurture the "rule of law" until his nation was "ready" for democracy -- and then would give way gracefully to his matured people. But for the same reason that we wish for civil society as a precursor, most dictators do everything they can to squelch it. Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak gives space to the Muslim Brotherhood while persecuting his secular liberal opposition, because he wants to be the only acceptable alternative; he doesn't want a civil society. In much of the autocratic world -- Central Asia, Russia, Burma -- the picture is the same.

So it's fair to oppose democracy promotion, but only if you're honest about the alternative. Throughout much of the Muslim world, that alternative is not a gentle flowering of civil society but the conditions that after Sept. 11 were recognized as threatening: closed and stagnant economies that leave millions of young people unemployed; brutal secret police services that permeate society and stifle education and free thinking; corrupt rulers who nurture religious extremism to shield themselves at home and make trouble abroad.

Those who promote democracy as the best alternative do not imagine that it will succeed quickly, or in all places. It's important to press autocratic allies such as Mr. Mubarak to create more space for political parties, so that when elections do take place Egyptians can take advantage of them responsibly. Of course elections aren't enough; of course civil society and prosperity and the emergence of a middle class matter, too; and which comes first, and in what ways, will be different in every country.

But without elections, or the prospect of elections -- without some measure of accountability to the people -- what will induce a dictator to allow civil society to grow? The "realists" need to answer that question, too.


Our Media

John Stewart is a Comedy Channel "News" host, Larry King is CNN news host. Their exchange via Opinion Journal:
Larry King suggested to Jon Stewart that the current low ebb of the Democrats and Republicans was good for Mr. Stewart's business.

King: So, in a sense you're happy over this.
Stewart: No.

King: This gives you fodder.

Mr. Stewart replied that if government "began to solve problems in a rational way rather than just a way that involved political dividends, we would be the happiest people in the world to turn our attention to idiots like, you know, media people, no offense."

King: So, you don't want it to be bad?
Stewart: Did you really just ask me if I want it to be bad?

King: Yes because you--

Stewart: What are you--I have kids. What do you think? I want things to corrode to the point where we're all living in huts?

King: You don't want Medicare to fail?

Stewart: Are you insane?

You got to wonder when a comedy host makes more sense in life than a serious news host.