Friday, May 19, 2006

Taliban "Offensive"

Counterterrorism Blog does the MSM's job for it and puts the recent Taliban action in Afghanistan into some perspective:

The news reports of a major Taliban offensive in southeastern Afghanistan are inaccurate, as Coalition offensives and Taliban attacks have been lumped together to give the impression of a coordinated Taliban assault in multiple provinces. A reading of the various reports indicates that while the Taliban has launched a major strike on a police station and government center in Helmand province and a small scale attack on a police patrol in Ghazni, as well as two suicide attacks against U.S. contractors in Herat and an Afghan army base in Ghazni, the fighting in Kandahar was initiated by Afghan and Coalition security forces during planned operations. Over 100 have been reported killed during the fighting, with 87 being Taliban. Well over half of those killed were killed during the Coalition offensives in Kandahar.

There were two separate major engagements in Kandahar province, and both were initiated by the Coalition. Coalition forces conducted a raid and subsequent air strikes against a Taliban safe haven in the village of Azizi. As many as 27 Taliban are believed to have been killed during the operation. A joint Canadian and Afghan security force conducted a sweep in the Panjwai district of Kandahar, and killed 18 Taliban and captured 26 in the process. One Canadian officer was killed and three Afghan police were wounded during the operation.

The fighting in Musa Qala in Helmand province is a bonafide major Taliban attack. The Associated Press reports an "estimated 300-400 militants with assault rifles and machine guns attacked a police and government headquarters" in Musa Qala. The Afghan police provided reinforcements to the beleaguered police station, fought off the Taliban force, reestablished control over the region, and killed 40 Taliban and took thirteen casualties of their own. Two police patrols were ambushed in Ghazni, and resulted in the death of two policemen. There is no evidence the attacks were coordinated. And they certainly weren't coordinated to occur in conjunction with Coalition operations.

During the fighting of the past few days, the Coalition may have scored a major victory. The BBC's Alastair Leithead reports Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's most senior commander, has been captured, however the military has yet to confirm this report. The Jamestown Foundation describes Mullah Dadullah as "The Military Mastermind of the Taliban Insurgency" as well as "a member of the 10-man leading council of Taliban insurgents." Dadullah reportedly escaped the U.S. and Northern Alliance onslaught of the Taliban regime in the winter of 2002 and surfaced in South Waziristan, Pakistan, where he raised funds and organized the Taliban insurgency. Dadullah would be a treasure trove of information on the Taliban's operations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Qari Naeem, the Taliban commander of Ghazni province, was also killed.

The Taliban were expected to launch some sort of initiative this spring, but so far it seems that they lack the resources to be more than just an irritant to the Karzai government.

Post-Modern Prophet

Pat Robertson sounds more like a charlatan everytime we read about him. He professes to be hearing God speak to him about the future but he's not sure he's actually hearing God clearly. How convenient:

In another in a series of notable pronouncements, religious broadcaster Pat Robertson says God told him storms and possibly a tsunami will hit America's coastline this year. Robertson has made the predictions at least four times in the past two weeks on his news-and-talk television show "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded.

Robertson said the revelations about this year's weather came to him during his annual personal prayer retreat in January. "If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms," Robertson said May 8. On Wednesday, he added, "There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest."

Perhaps God needs to enunciate more clearly or speak more loudly, Pat's hearing no longer being what it once was. Or perhaps Pat's just blowing smoke in the faces of the gullible. After all, did the Old Testament prophets preface their anathemas with "If I heard God right"? Did they use such namby-pamby constructions as bad things "may well" happen? If God is really speaking to Pat why is God speaking so ambiguously? Is God himself unsure of what he thinks is going to occur?

It strikes me as highly unlikely that God talks to Pat Robertson, or anyone else for that matter, but it's just plain impossible to imagine that, if God does talk to someone, he chooses to engage in idle chatter.

Storms on American coasts are inevitable. Why would God bother to tell Pat that they're going to happen? Why would Pat bother to tell us that they're going to happen? A Northwestern tsunami also has a certain probability. Of course one "may well" happen. Everybody already knows that. If Robertson wants us to believe that God speaks to him he needs to stop equivocating and come right out with a definite prediction.

If Pat ever relates that God has told him that a tsunami will occur at a prescribed place, date, and time, then he will have my attention and then we'll be able to discern whether God really is talking to him. Until then it seems safe to say that, at best, Pat is a victim of a hyperactive imagination coupled to a spiritually pompous ego.

Ward Churchill: Fraud

FrontPage Mag has a post mortem of the recent findings in the case of Ward Churchill, the University of Colorado prof who came to national attention via a speech in which he compared 9/11 victims to nazis and who was subsequently investigated for professional malfeasance. The findings of the investigating committee are discussed at the link, but the short version is that he is guilty, inter alia, of plagiarism, falsification, and fabrication of research. The recommendation of one of the investigators is that he be fired. The others recommended a long suspension.

The most interesting part of the FrontPage article is the following:

Among the report's observations is this:

"Although many of his writings, including nearly all those discussed in this report, address historical and/or legal issues, he does not have formal training at the graduate level in those fields. Professors writing on the topics he addresses would typically have a Ph.D. in history or a law degree; Professor Churchill's graduate degree is an M.A. in Communications Theory."

This is obviously something that did not take a report to divulge. It was known by the entire Ethnic Studies department which hired him, voted him tenure, voted him a full professorship and then voted him its chairman. As one professor commented on

"The wider implications of the Ward Churchill verdict are stunning. Given the egregious findings here by a distinguished panel of professors, the question is not merely Ward Churchill's writings alone. The question is: how was it that this charlatan was promoted three times, first to tenure and associate professor, then to full professor-and finally to CHAIR of the Department of Ethnic Studies at Colorado?

"The first two promotions could ONLY have happened via the receipt of approval letters from prominent people in the Ethnic Studies field. This process must have been carried out twice, first for tenure then for full professor, and must have involved at least six and probably as many as ten prominent professors of Ethnic Studies. Yet they noticed no problems. What does that say about them as scholars? What does it say about Ethnic Studies as a valid intellectual field? In fact, the Report appears to indicate (p. 5) that Ethnic Studies is not held to the same scholarly standards as other, more traditional fields of intellectual endeavor in the humanities and social sciences. I cannot figure out whether the Report also means to imply that Ethnic Studies SHOULD not be held to those same standards. I hope that is not what the authors of the Report mean.

"Furthermore, - but this would be the most difficult thing to do - those administrators at Colorado who approved Ward Churchill's tenure and associate professorship, who then approved Ward Churchill's promotion to full professor, and who then and finally approved Ward Churchill's elevation to Departmental Chair all deserved to be disciplined. THEY are as culpable as the politically corrupt or incompetent scholars who approved Churchill's career all along the line via the writing of positive external-review letters at the time of his promotions. But these administrators will be the most protected by the system. I know someone who, when interviewing for a job at Colorado in 1997, was told that Churchill was a fraud, and that everyone knew it. The university, according to the Report, was in receipt of major complaints against Churchill as early as 1996.

"So, who DIDN'T know Churchill was a fraud? Yet he was promoted to full professor AFTER 1997, and then eventually to Chair of his Department. One needs to investigate why. Were they physically afraid of him? Were they afraid of the criticism they would receive from his supporters if they objected? Were they so supportive (or afraid) of his politics that this trumped any doubts about his worth as a scholar?"

Since the sixties most colleges and universities have instituted what might be called boutique departments. Their discipline is neither rigorous nor well-defined and caters to left-wing professors and students who wish to have their presuppositions about the wickedness of the straight Western white man (SWWM) confirmed. Gender studies, African-American studies, Ethnic studies, Queer studies, etc. are all pretty much a waste of time, unless the objective is to fuel hostility and divisiveness, but the administrations of the colleges offer them as a way to keep the militant lefties pacified. They are for many radicalized students what the basket-weaving courses used to be for the school's athletes.

Churchill is a product of a trend in which scholarship doesn't matter nearly as much as ideological correctness. Churchill could pillory the SWWM with a panache and afflatus that appealed to his callow students, and that was the only qualification he needed to gain the favor of his peers and to advance up the ladder.