January 24, 2002



Looks like beating up on the Red Cross is becoming fashionable. Peter Worthington in the Sun takes another slice at the ICRC today, in defending the Guantanamo detentions. (I should add parenthetically that Mark Steyn's piece on the same topic in the Spectator today is eminently fair.)

These prisoners were fighters, maybe, but not soldiers. They had no code, no rules, little mercy. They are not PoWs as we understand the term, but supporters of terrorism.

Peter, Peter, Peter... have you forgotten the ideals you and your father fought for so quickly? Did you oppose the way we held SS POWs, then, too?

All 158 prisoners at Guantanamo are there for a reason -- they are suspected of having information that could be useful in curbing terrorism. They are not camel drivers and peasants, they are leaders and special.

It's real simple, Peter. I'll spell it out for you. In western countries, we don't imprison people just because someone suspects they might have information about a crime... at least without a court examining if there's something to the case. That's the ideal you're really beating up on here. Ignoring the latent racism of the second sentence, (Camels? In Afghanistan?), how do we KNOW that these prisoners are special, Peter? What was the process? Where's the indictment, the charge, the arrest warrant?

Anyway, the Red Cross are just a bunch of fascists anyway, right?

As for indignation from the International Red Cross, I was with Eritrean fighters against Ethiopia, when the IRC refused to visit Ethiopian PoWs held by Eritrea, and ignored Ethiopia bombing civilians -- all because the IRC didn't want to offend Ethiopia.

Worthington conveniently doesn't say when this supposedly happened. But the Red Cross did only get access to Eritrea in September, 2000, once the new state acceded to being guided by the Geneva Conventions, after over 5 years of negotiations with the Eritrean government to get them to sign. I can't find anything to back up Worthington's apparent contention that this was due to ICRC footdragging, as opposed to Eritrean: but there would be no point to them visiting Eritrean camps, even if they'd been given access, until the Eritreans signed the Conventions, obviously. (At one point since, the ICRC also expressed dismay at Eritrea for sharing confidential reports it had provided on the treatment of Eritreans in Ethiopia with the media: it apparently didn't impact their activities, but it did piss them off.) You can read the summary of activities by the Red Cross in Eritrea over the last six years here.

Posted by BruceR at 12:17 PM



The conspiracy has finally been unmasked. Former LAPD officer Michael Ruppert has unmasked it. It turns out the Sept. 11 attacks were not just about propping up U.S. oil interests... they were really about propping up the U.S. heroin industry!

[Ruppert] says the Taliban upset American officials when they burned their bumper opium crop last year... Ruppert says that burning the opium was a huge blow to the already faltering U.S. economy, estimating that it ripped millions of dollars of drug money out of the system, money the U.S. needed in order to stay out of recession... "Mark my words," says Ruppert "We're going to se an explosion of heroin use and deaths this summer."

I'm actually thinking of consuming some myself, about now. The opium connection makes it clear, Ruppert goes on, that:

"The attack on the World Trade Center was perpetrated, facilitated and criminally abetted by the United States government."

Posted by BruceR at 11:25 AM



Penny and Instapundit are wrong today about the Telegraph piece on the Iranians sending supplies to their chosen man in Afghanistan. There's nothing here much to worry about yet, as much as the Telegraph would like it so:

With more than a little help from his friends, the warlord Ismail Khan is restoring his fiefdom. There is every sign that Iran is reviving the so- called new Great Game that perpetuated Afghanistan's disastrous civil war and led to the creation of the Taliban.

First off, the idea that the Americans have already struck Khan's arsenal with a cruise missile and everyone's now denying it, is rather ludicrous, and the Telegraph has no evidence for this wild surmise. Plus, it would be incredibly stupid... as the article goes on to say, Ismail Khan (the "Lion of Herat") hasn't bought into the central government yet, but probably because he hasn't been offered a plum by them yet, either. That hardly makes him rebellious.

Look, Ismail Khan was one of the GOOD guys... at least as good as they get in Afghanistan. Arguably the second-best Afghan resistance fighter after the dead Masood, he fought the Taliban to a standstill in the early years of their rise almost singlehandedly. I remember when I heard he was back in play in Herat after Mazar fell... I knew then that the Taliban's day was over. He's a little old man now, ruling an ethnically and geographically distinct part of Afghanistan, the Herat area. Unlike, say, Dostum, he has a reputation for justice, and taking care of his people fairly. Other than the years the Taliban ran it, Herat under his rule was known for its religious tolerance, liberal attitudes towards women, and relative sophistication. Imprisoned by the Talibs for three years, he escaped in a Steve McQueen style prison break. Since he rode back into town, Herat has retained a sense of order, and food distribution has proceeded as efficiently as anywhere in the country. Thanks to Khan's rapid restoration of the old order, no one's starving in Herat this year. And Khan has never expressed any kind of ambitions that affect the rest of the country, other than just ruling over the Heratis until he dies. (The downside of that being he'll never care about anyone or anything outside of Herat, either, such as Afghan "nation-building.") Incorruptible in his amorality, if you had to find a comparison to him in movies, it would be Anthony Quinn's Audar Abu Tayi in Lawrence of Arabia:

I carry twenty-three great wounds, all got in battle. Seventy-five men have I killed with my own hands in battle. I scatter, I burn my enemies' tents. I take away their flocks and herds. The Turks pay me a golden treasure. Yet, I am poor, because I am a river to my people!

As Lawrence finds, the completely uncompromising self-interest of Audar makes him unreliable. It also makes him easily bought and controlled. But going in with cruise missiles after a stand-up guy like Ismail Khan would be proof the Americans were LOSING control over Afghanistan again, not winning it.

UPDATE: The Iran-Khan connection is also in the Post today. In the end, though, all Khan seems to be doing here is driving up the price of his fealty a little. Warlords in quasi-medieval societies tend to do that. Much more worrisome would be if Iran let slip the leash it has on Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, arguably the most psychopathic of the Afghan warlords and the person more than anyone else responsible for the destruction of much of the country after the Soviets left, following his twisted philosophy of "destroying the country in order to save it." Currently in exile in Iran, Hekmatyar is a genuine, bona fide war criminal and an Islamic zealot. If Iran helps his star to rise again, that's a whole different ball of wax.

Posted by BruceR at 11:00 AM