We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Using a Playstation controller to fire a machinegun in combat… no, really!

Talk about ingenuity! That thing does not looks very RPG-resistant, so it very wisely has a top mounted camera so it can fire from behind cover!

But guys, it is an improvised armoured ambulance, not a ‘tank’.

‘We do not need boots on the ground from any country’ says Kurds

Former head of the Marine Corps James Conway says Obama’s idea of relying on local forces with US air power has “not a snowball’s chance in hell“.

However Hemin Hawram, a leading member of the Kurdish Democratic Party, disagrees:

We just need armaments and training; we don’t need boots on the ground from any country to fight this war for us. We want these countries to support our Peshmerga – arm, train, and make them capable. Even for future confrontations against terrorists, there will be no need to support us militarily. In the coming 4-5 years, we hope the Peshmerga will be better equipped and trained, and that certain sanctions will be removed. Why should they not have tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers, for example? I hope that they will be a part of an international military unit to fight terrorists in other countries and be part of peacekeeping missions.

Surely that must be a better solution.

And the reason I am inclined to believe him, rather than General Conway, is that the US and its allies were unable to create a viable unitary Iraq that could prevent what happened from happening, because Iraq is simply untenable as a nation. This has been clear for a great many years to anyone who does not have an institutional vested interest. A significant part of the US trained and equipped Iraqi Army simply turned its weapons over to the Islamic State, because they saw no reason to fight for an Iraq that was of zero value to them. The Peshmerga on the other hand has everything to fight for, and unlike foreign troops with western sensibilities and significant cultural ineptitude regarding the realities of the Middle East, the Kurds are far more likely to ‘sort things out on the ground’ if given the tools.

Southern Kurdistan intends to become an independent nation and moreover enabling that to happen by arming them (which will be the consequence) very effectively counters the threat posed by the Islamic State. It is hard to see the downside from the western point of view of enabling a pro-western de facto nation to become an effectively armed de jure nation, one very willing to do the dirty work and sort out Northern Iraq… and frankly probably Northern Syria (Rojava) too, rather than having to deal directly with the more politically problematic Syrian Kurdish PYG.

Samizdata quote of the day

The only ‘cross’ most westerners care about is the little cross hair in a laser guided bomb aiming unit used to send a 500kg cultural critique in your direction, from our technologically advanced culture to your dark ages one.

Perry de Havilland

Are these people stupid or do they think other people are?

So John Kerry says the Islamic State has “nothing to do with Islam“. And presumably the USSR had nothing to do with Communism and Nazi Germany had nothing to do with National Socialism and the Vatican has nothing to do with Catholicism.

I have linked before to an article from a Middle Eastern writer laughing at such claims before, but seriously: how can Salafist Islam not be described as Islam? Feel free to presage comments about Salafists by noting there are non-toxic forms of Islam such as Sufi or whatever, but please stop these preposterous claims that the Islamic State is not Islamic.

It is as if John Kerry thinks that by repeating this manifest nonsense that somehow it will become true. Could this be some sort of warped world view in which people must be ‘goodies’ or ‘badies’? Therefore if (say) the Kurdish Peshmerga, who are pretty much accepted as being ‘goodies’ happen to be made up mostly of Muslims, OMG we must therefore pretend the Islamic State is not Islamic as our tiny minds cannot accept a nuanced world view that maybe, just maybe, the Peshmerga might see themselves as Kurds first and who have very little interest in political Salafist Islam?

Or could it be that Salafist Islam is actually the same as Saudi Wahhabi Islam, minus a dynastic Royal government and plus a Caliph? An embarrassing and politically inconvenient little factoid that one.

As of late I have taken to exchanging e-mails with a Kurdish couple who live near Kirkuk and they have no problem describing the Islamic State as, er, Islamic. But they way they see it, describing someone as ‘Islamic’ does not actually tell you very much about a person’s views… whereas saying someone is ‘Salafist’, for example, tells you a great deal.

But unlike the jackasses in the White House with their notions of imaginary Disney-Islam, people in the Middle East understand perfectly that Salafist ideology has a great deal to do with ‘Islam’. And so what? You think that will stop a Kurd who might or might not be a Sunni Muslim, from shooting a Salafist Islamic State soldier deader than dead? Clearly that is not the case.

By all means hyphenate the version if you want, but enough of “the Salafist Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam” crap.

Samizdata quote of the day

The day after James Foley’s beheading, President Obama paused his Martha’s Vineyard vacation—to express his condolences to the Foley family and inform Americans of the threat posed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Listening to him as a Kurd, I had no reason to doubt his sincerity when he said, “Earlier today, I spoke to the Foleys and told them that we are all heartbroken at their loss, and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.”

What troubled me was the way he qualified ISIS or failed to do. The man who hails from the “happiest” state, Hawaii, declared ISIS—the “angriest” wannabe state in the world — without a “religion.”

That’s like calling Hitler an internationalist or Lenin a capitalist!

Posing as an authority on Islam, he said, “No faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” Speaking for the 21st century, he went on, ISIS doesn’t belong to it.

And then this gem by way of reducing the threat to an understandable sound bite: ISIS is at war with the West “out of expediency,” but it really is at war with its neighbors and offers “nothing but an endless slavery to [its] empty vision.”

I will admit to my immediate reaction: my hand involuntarily went to scratch my head.

Kani Xulam

The new world of news

It is interesting that media groups like the Kurdish Rûdaw are now able to plonk their news on YouTube with English subtitles, giving us yet another perspective of what is happening beyond the usual suspects.

I find it fascinating. Of course it will be no less slanted depending on the sensibilities of the source, but the notion of being able to watch stuff from a Kurdish news organisation in Erbil would have seemed fantastical just a few years ago. The fact they provide foreign subtitles is very telling.

Deleted by the Guardian… spotting the pattern

I found this interesting:

Harun Khan said many young British-born Muslims felt pushed to the fringes of society and that the latest government crackdown could nudge them further into the grasp of radical clerics, instead of drawing them back into mainstream society.

If they want to be in mainstream society in the UK, then their young males need to go down the pub and their young females need to stop wearing a head scarf. But this was my reply:

So if I understand what Harun Khan is saying, it is that monitoring members of the Muslim community for fear of Islamic extremism will cause radicalisation, so the thing to do is to leave it to the imams and community leaders to ensure everything is hunky dory. So a bit like Rotherham then?

And the Guardian’s reply was:

This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our community standards. Replies may also be deleted. For more detail see our FAQs.

Now as I respect private property, unlike the some I could mention, I accept that as the comment was posted on the Guardian’s site, it is up to them what they allow to be published… so no nonsensical bleating about ‘censorship’ please… their house, their rules. I certainly never apologise for deleting comments I think are inappropriate on Samizdata, and neither should the Guardian.

But I do find it interesting that what I think was a pretty innocuous remark gets axed the moment it touches on this particular topic. I sense that a thread is being pulled on the whole morally relativistic carpet that has been draped over the large grunting shitting snuffling pig in the middle of the room, and there is mounting alarm in ‘certain circles’ as they see this carpet coming unravelled. So to me the issue is not “Oh noez! My comment has been cruelly deleted!” but rather “it is interesting to see this particular pattern show where the intolerable sensitivities are”. If that is the weak point, that is where to keep thrusting the dagger.

But then as I said last time I got a comment deleted, that was the sort of mainstream media world view that pushed me into setting up Samizdata in 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11.

And so I introduce a new comment category today: Deleted by the Guardian

Samizdata quote of the day

A well-armed peshmerga and renewed investment in proven intelligence techniques will be critical to combating extremists inside and outside of Iraq. America can stand tall with the Kurds, cripple Iran’s paramilitary capability, and destroy the Islamic State, but must act decisively and creatively – today.

Robert Caruso

Politically correct evasiveness fails on its own terms

Do an internet search today of any British newspaper for the word “Rotherham” and you will find accounts of how, to quote the Daily Mail’s headline, a “[d]amning report reveals 1,400 girls were abused by sex gangs because social workers and police feared racism claims – so did nothing”.

Nothing new here. There have been similar instances of organised and long-term child abuse by groups of Muslims going unpunished due to fear of claims of racism in Rochdale, Oxford, Derby, Telford and Keighley.

What is changing is the level of fury expressed not just about the rape and enslavement of the victims, nor just about the dereliction of duty on the part of social workers and police, but also about the efforts of the media to downplay that the perpetrators were Muslim. I picked the three links above because all three stories allowed comments. It is remarkable how similar the comments in the left-wing Guardian are to those in the right-wing Mail. Sarcastic, sad, jeering, hesitant or spitting righteous anger; the tone varied but outrage over that particular type of dishonesty was expressed again and again. The usual media procedure is to substitute “Asian” for “Muslim”, or for “Pakistani”, which would give the game away to anyone with a basic knowledge of the Indian subcontinent. I should say that given the relatively low numbers of orientals in Britain it is normal in British casual speech to say “Asian” when one really means “South Asian”, but British Sikhs and Hindus greatly resent the literal racism of the use of the term “Asian” in the context of this series of distinctly Muslim crimes. In some of their stories the BBC has gone further, from blurring relevant details to excising them. These BBC stories simply speak of events “in Rotherham” – even though the independent inquiry that started this firestorm of comment specifically says that fear of being denounced as racist (religious and racial prejudice are deliberately lumped together) was what kept the social workers silent. Instead Rotherham social workers devoted their child protection efforts to taking away their foster-children from a respectable couple on the grounds that they were members of UKIP.

Probably no one who who has ever had a hand in censoring mention of Islam from news reports will ever read this. But on the off-chance that someone relevant does, or in the faint hope that the general idea if not my particular words might reach such a person by indirect means, I would like to ask you, Ms or Mr Media Person, a question. Apart from the question of honest reporting, how do you think the strategy of silence and euphemism is working? Is the British public more or less likely to distinguish between the criminals of Rotherham and the next random “Asian” they see because the press has for so long refused to distinguish? Has it been successfully concealed that a common factor in these abuse rings has been that some Muslim men see non-Muslim girls as “white trash” and unworthy of respect? Not that the politically correct would care about this, but have the brave efforts of some Muslims to confront these warped attitudes been helped or hindered by the evasion?

Understanding ‘New Turkey’

There is an interesting article on Al Monitor called What exactly is ‘New Turkey’? that seems to explain Erdogan rather well. The money quote:

“A transfer to a majoritarian dictatorial regime from minority hegemony.”

It is an interesting read.

Samizdata knee-jerk reaction of the day

I read this and suddenly found myself having a knee-jerk reaction.

He said the “bigger problem” was that many young Muslims were “disillusioned” but felt they could not express their views. Mr Khan said people needed a “safe space” where they could “speak freely without being labelled as extremists”.

My immediate reaction was “how about in a mosque in your middle eastern country of choice? That sounds like a pretty safe place to speak about how Britain is deeply suspicious of people who primary identity of defined by being a Muslims these days.”

If you feel disaffected by how the largely irreligious secular host society sees you because of your religion… bugger off to somewhere your notions do not seem utterly alien to most people. Do what your high initiative parents or grandparents did when they emigrated seeking a better life: seek a batter live elsewhere. I hear there is an outfit in Raqaa looking for “disillusioned young Muslims” if you have a sense of adventure and want to put the whole 72 virgins thing to the test.

Strangely I find surprisingly few people uneasy about the mostly-Muslim Kurds, and surprisingly few Kurds moaning about how Britain has treated them, for reasons that should be fairly obvious.

The murder of journalist James Foley: a spectacular ‘own goal’

This is my take on the intended semiotics of the video showing the beheading of journalist James Foley, by a jihadi with a British accent:

If you continue to mess with us, we will kill your people. See what I just did? And do you hear my voice? We have people who can strike at you in your homeland.

This is my take on the perceived semiotics in the west:

I do not get the Middle East. Shi’ite, Sunnis, Wahhabis, Kurds, Yazidis, who the hell are all these people any way? I don’t understand why they kill each other. But this guy was just a journalist. Who the fuck cuts the heads of journalists? Yes we are war weary but suddenly all I want is to see those jihadi mother-fuckers dead! Those Kurdish guys, the Pesh-something-or-other, they seem like the only non-arseholes in the region and they hate the jihadis, so give them a fuck load of weapons, and give them air support and bomb the FUCK out of those crazy Islamic State lunatics!

The Islamic State just made it a trivial domestic political task for anyone who wants to support their enemies against them.

Hamas fires rockets at Israel and then tries to get the IDF to kill some journalists in Gaza to win sympathy. The ‘Islamic State’ murders a journalist themselves by cutting his head off.

I guess the ‘Islamic State’ cannot afford the same a PR advice that Hamas gets :-D