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Belmont Club

The Return of the Natives

August 1st, 2014 - 3:13 pm

With  Gaza now looking more and more like a fight to the finish and president Obama vowing to ‘act alone’ to solve the ‘historic influx of migrants’ it may be time to examine some of the finer points of the ongoing world crisis.  First Syria. Let’s not forget Syria, which by the numbers is the highest intensity conflict in the region.

Nate Petrocine of the Institute for the Study of War (Syria Updates) notes how the Syrian rebels are using the same anaconda techniques the Belmont Club described in the Siege of Baghdad.  They are systematically attacking M4 and M5 in Syria to isolate Assad’s forces both from each other and the Latakian coastal region. “Rebel operations have continued to target the vital highways segmenting Idlib province, namely the M5 and the M4. The M5, which spans the western length of Syria from Damascus to Aleppo, is an essential supply route for both regime and opposition forces. Likewise the M4, which connects Aleppo and Idlib to the coast of Latakia, is indispensable for regime forces currently fighting in Aleppo City.”

ISIS (ISIL) is now able to conduct large scale operational warfare competently both in Iraq and Syria. Maliki and Assad are no longer fighting the Viet Cong. They are fighting the NVA. As Petrocine put it:

The late spring and early summer rebel advances in Idlib province indicate that opposition forces have the ability to coordinate large scale offenses over relatively large swaths of territory. The initial Idlib offensive on the M5 around Khan Sheikhoun began with a combined assault over a distance of 45km on a single day. Such an operational range demonstrates that opposition forces are able to coordinate effectively at above a tactical level.

The same adaptive mutation can be observed in Hamas. Israel has waked to the sudden realization that as its drones patrolled the skies over Gaza, its foes, like mole-men, had honeycombed the border with tunnels. The underground equivalent of Iron Dome won’t be ready for a year.

“The high-tech system, which uses special sensors and transmitters, is still in its R&D phase, and if all goes well, should be operational within a year”, notes a report on Israel’s I-24 news.

The enemy has everywhere learned, adapted and evolved. Hamas’ weapons are no longer the crude Qassam rocket. They are bona fide missiles able to cover he breadth of Israel and concreted tunnels, each costing millions. The same however, cannot be with confidence of the Western intelligensia. Terence McCoy of the Washington Post explores ‘Why Hamas stores its weapons inside hospitals, mosques and schools’.

The United Nations has found troves of rockets hidden in three of its schools since the conflict began. “We condemn the group or groups who endangered civilians by placing these munitions in our school,” Chris Gunness, spokesman for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said in statement published Wednesday by the Times of Israel. “This is yet another flagrant violation of the neutrality of our premises. We call on all the warring parties to respect the inviolability of U.N. property.”

Earlier this month, the United Nations also found rockets piled inside one of its vacant schools — near other schools used to accommodate displaced people.

The international organization also found 20 additional rockets at another of its schools during an inspection, calling it one more “flagrant violation of the inviolability” of the premises….

The Washington Post’s William Booth saw a “group of men” at a mosque in northern Gaza. They “could be seen moving small rockets into the mosque,” Booth wrote. He also reported that Shifa Hospital in Gaza City had “become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices.” …

According to longtime Middle East analyst Matthew Levitt, Hamas has long planted weapons in areas inhabited by vulnerable residents. “It happens in schools,” he wrote in Middle East Quarterly. “Hamas has buried caches of arms and explosives under its own kindergarten playgrounds,” referencing a 2001 State Department report that said a Hamas leader was arrested after “additional explosives in a Gaza kindergarten” were discovered.

For years, Hamas has “planned carefully for a major Israeli invasion,” according to a Washington Institute for Near East Policy report.

Yeah, why do they use playgrounds, schools and mosques to store ordnance?

Groups like Hamas are biding their time and anyone who imagines the next attack on America just will be a rerun of 9/11 is ignoring every available signal. It will something much, much worse than you can imagine.

But the Western response is denial, and re-running the same old tropes that our hoary intellectuals learned at French universities in the 1960s. They still think Hamas wants justice; break the cycle of violence and to achieve equality in the apartheid state of Israel.  Yet this back page story from AFP about Libya may provoke some wry amusement. “Libya hospitals face collapse if Asian staff flee.”

TRIPOLI: Libya has warned of a “total collapse” of its health care system as the chaos plaguing the country threatens to send into flight many of the Filipino and Indian staff on whom its hospitals depend. …

Now, 3,000 health workers from the Philippines, making up 60 percent of Libya’s hospital staff, could leave – along with workers from India, who account for another 20 percent.

The question is, where did the other non-Asian 20% come? What did Libya do with all their oil wealth these last decades, besides learn to build bombs to bring down jetliners over Lockerbie?

The flight of the Filipinos is representative of the exodus of expats from the war-torn areas of the Middle East. The last die-hard Filipinos have fled Syria. They are bugging out of Iraq citing “crisis warning number 3″, which appears to mean ‘the beheading is now starting in your neighborhood’.  And when they go its a sure sign the other Third Worlders  are heading for the exits too.

The degree to which the oil-rich countries of the Middle East are dependent on Filipino ‘slave’ labor is so astonishing that it’s funny. The Guardian writes “Qatar’s foreign domestic workers subjected to slave-like conditions”.

Hundreds of Filipino maids have fled to their embassy in recent months because conditions are so harsh. Many complain of physical and sexual abuse, harassment, long periods without pay and the confiscation of mobile phones….

The non-payment of wages, confiscation of documents and inability of workers to leave their employer constitute forced labour under UN rules. According to the International Labour Organisation, forced labour is “all work which is exacted from someone under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily”.

Lack of consent can include induced indebtedness and deception about the type and terms of work, withholding or non-payment of wages and the retention of identity documents. Initial consent may be considered irrelevant when deception or fraud has been used to obtain it.

Why does the region, after decades of petrodollars, still have to import managerial, technical from the West and ‘slave’ labor from places like the Philippines? Consider: foreign workers make up four fifths of the population of Qatar. One third the population of Saudi Arabia are ‘non nationals’.  And they can’t even practice their Christian religion in the KSA, despite the UN convention of universal rights. Who’s the apartheid state? Yet if these despised ‘slaves’ leave these host countries will be toast.  Who’s going to change the bedpans, run the x-ray machines, operate the scanner, do the operation, stick in the IV?  Who’s going to pump out the oil?

You can make the world’s best playground-based missile, but you can’t eat it. Time and distances still matter in military operations; the persistence of hatred still drives policy; the everlasting character of slavery breeds dependency among the masters. It’s too bad the left has forgotten its Brecht. He had some good lines.

Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
And Babylon, so many times destroyed.
Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima’s houses,
That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
Where did the masons go? Imperial Rome
Is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song.
Were all her dwellings palaces? And even in Atlantis of the legend
The night the seas rushed in,
The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.

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Top Rated Comments   
The history of the Philippines is by and large locked up in the experiences of the silent, semi-literate poor. They settled the land, fought the Moro wars, constituted the great bulk of the resistance against the Japanese, went down with ship as generations of US Navy men. They went out to the four corners of the earth to earn money as overseas workers.

In that capacity they've lived in steel containers in the desert; on rigs out at sea; worked as chambermaids in London or Moscow. They ply the ocean as sailors; are playing endless rounds of cards as captives on ships in pirate Somali harbors.

They drove supplies as contractors in Desert Storm, sleeping in hammocks underneath their trucks at night. They are the baggage handlers, gofers and utility men in a hundred different climes, including equatorial Africa. The men who wave goodbye to the last helicopter which never comes for them.

They've poured the coffee for every US president in modern history and nobody even knows their name.

If you go past a middle eastern airport or Hong Kong you will see them in their teeming peripatic millions. Squatting on airline seats, cadging the salt and the pepper from the airline meal, on their way to some blessed job, even if it means living chained under a sink or housed in a camping tent in the indoor courtyard of a desert home.

They are the nation. Not the upper class people most Westerners meet in Manila, who are largely useless. It's the poor and lower middle class that make it go round; the unlovely and the unremembered. And the object their journeys is found in the many malls that dot the Philippines, where their relatives go to cash the remittance they send each month at the money-changer and to have a good time at the Jollibee's hamburger outlet conveniently located near the money shop.

I have often been moved to inexplicable tears at the sight. Not because they are perfect or even nice. But because it reminds me of how little humanity needs to be happy. A little love, a handful of rice and the hope that Jesus, if no one else, will not forget them.
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30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hardworking, healthy Filipinos who fit into our culture, are ambitious and capitalistic, and who want their children to excel will NEVER be imported as a matter of government policy. We have already expressed a preference for disease-ridden Mexicans and Central Americans who either desire American welfare largesse, or the criminal opportunities of preying on Americans. Both wings of our Governing Party have spoken.

Subotai Bahadur
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I agree that food is going to be a major crisis soon. Not as a deliberate weapon [unless the enemy has been thinking farther ahead than I thought].

Food is mainly exported in the form of grain. Wheat primarily. The main exporters are the EU, the US, Canada, Russia, Australia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Argentina; roughly in that order.

The EU, as a conglomerate, exports a little more than the US. But look at the trends. It takes energy to grow food. Russia has the EU by the short and curlies in the field of energy. And given the presence of active warfare on the natural gas routes, that might be interrupted at any time. The US, while still a major exporter; faces an unlimited drain on its grain reserves due to the government mandate to use food to make alcohol to blend with gasoline. Russia and the Ukraine have a war going awfully close to their grain belts. And Argentina is literally bankrupt having defaulted on their government bonds for either the 4th or 5th time since the 1930's. Economic collapse means farmers cannot get the financing to grow, nor shippers to ship.

The outlook for grain exports is not exactly rosy. And I would note that the US as a supplier is at risk from economic, political, and social collapse in the near term. Further this does not factor in normal variations in seasonal heat and cold.

If there is no grain to export, countries dependent on grain imports go hungry. Countries that are hungry do not sit quietly and starve. Generally, they go to war, civil or external.

The top wheat importing countries are Egypt, Indonesia, Brazil, Algeria, Japan, the EU, Turkey, Nigeria, and Iran.

Japan and the EU may be able to either outbid other countries, or substitute other grains and avoid starvation; in the case of the EU by removing part of their production from the export market and aggravating shortfalls elsewhere. But ponder the effects of emply bellies in the rest of the countries. Now add in the countries currently involved in war and epidemics and on the verge of starvation.

The Four Horsemen may be abroad, but Malthus and Darwin are scouting for them. And we ourselves may also be on the circuit they are riding.

As far as the use of UN facilities as arms stores and missile sites; the UN can lie all it wants. But reality intervenes. The entire area of Gaza is only about 32 miles long and at its widest [along Egypt] less than 7 miles wide. The whole place could easily fit inside my county a half dozen times. The UN runs those schools and hospitals being used by HAMAS for military purposes. The HAMAS equivalent of the Pentagon is in the basement of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, and everybody including the world press knows it.

There is no possible way that the UN does not know that they are being used to protect military attacks on Israeli civilians. They have two explanations. First, they are afraid of HAMAS, so they allow it. Or they approve, and they allow it. Neither gives them any moral standing, nor any reason for Americans to respect them any more than HAMAS.

Subotai Bahadur
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (153)
All Comments   (153)
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“We condemn the group or groups who endangered civilians by placing these munitions in our school,”

But not enough condemnation to stop funding them. What a liar.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Philippines has been one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia in recent years. The gross domestic product rose 7.2 percent in 2013, although it is expected to slow modestly this year while remaining above 6 percent, according to most regional economists. In addition to new, streamlined government spending processes and the paying down of public debt, much of the improvement in the economy is linked to the anticorruption efforts of President Benigno S. Aquino III.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Cyrano de Bergerac (Jose Ferrer) was just on. So many jewels: if you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor.

Here's his famous "No, thank you!" speech: one particularly apropos for all you contrarians and apostates:
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
allen said: As to taking care of business with artillery and air, please tell me how you intend to rid yourself of the sniper who has made the tenth floor of Gaza''s main hospital his lair - air, artillery - I think not.

I don't think you've really understood my position. Artillery, absolutely. Well, you might try a counter-sniper. But really who cares, a sniper in the hospital can't hit anything across the border. I might well have taken out that hospital years ago. Israel should be specializing in building bunker-busters exactly so they can take these things out from stand-off distances. There was a big kerfuffle a couple of years ago when the US promised to deliver them some, then delayed them when Obambus took the throne, but allegedly they were finally delivered. But these are not super high-tech and Israel should be building their own.

Debka (and yes I realize the need to discount it, but it is clearly not run now by the same people who originated it years ago) suggests that the tunnels that cross the border turn out to be a small percentage, that there are all *kinds* of additional tunnels throughout Gaza.

But really, to repeat, tunnels are not the problem, *people* are the problem.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Although Washington DC would be an obvious target for a nuclear attack by al-Qaeda, it's not the only one. There are the obvious targets of Boston, New York, and Philadephia in the east, as well as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle in the west. However, one must not assume that Houston would never be a target for terrorists – in many respects, it's the most obvious target of all.

Houston is the world capital of the petroleum industry. The headquarters of many oil companies are there, as well as some of the world's most top notch refineries. Despite Houston's reputation as a juggernaut of right wing politics, it is also a hotbed of anti-war sentiment, and anti-war sentiment tends to serve as a magnet for terrorists. As a bonus, Michael Moore would be jumping for joy if Houston got nuked – black people dying there would be collateral damage for him given all of those “evil Republicans” getting killed, and only Charleston and New Orleans (or possibly Atlanta) would strike a stronger chord among narrow minded leftists than Houston.

I regard Michael Moore as a traitor. For that reason, I would rather not emulate him.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I strongly suggest moving our capital to a central – and easier-to-defend – location. Washington DC is partly the way it is because it is the federal capital, but it is even more the way it is because of its extremely vulnerable location and its easy proximity to old colonial colleges. Its location was a sectional compromise between Alexander Hamilton and James Madison in the first place, and its location makes less sense now than ever. The location of the District of Columbia is essentially a “KICK ME” sign.

Once the District of Columbia is shifted, Washington City would still be a tourist trap, with people gawking at the buildings of the “Old Capital”. As much as Americans may loathe the Beltway, the attitude is mainly “only WE can do that to our pledges...”
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
DC is corrupt. NYC is TWANLOC as are Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. Have at 'em, boys, for there are serious lessons to be learned. And mighty follies to be unlearned.
29 weeks ago
29 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why would al-Qaeda take out a hornet's nest of Muslim supporters like Seattle? This is "Baghdad" Jim McDermott country.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The same could be said for Chicago, Detroit, and...

...Washington DC.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment for thought during the Third Gaza War...

Waterloo, 18 Jun 1815

"Duke of Wellington: They're coming on in the same old style.

General Sir Thomas Picton: Well, then we shall have to meet them in the same old style."

That day it worked, though a close run thing. Other days it did not. Israel cannot afford close run battles because it is fighting "in the same old style."
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
Additional tunnels have been discovered, today. I have no reason to believe others will not be discovered tomorrow. Presumably, that put to rest the business of Israel having found and destroyed all the tunnels.

As to taking care of business with artillery and air, please tell me how you intend to rid yourself of the sniper who has made the tenth floor of Gaza''s main hospital his lair - air, artillery - I think not.

Israel remains insecure.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
What makes you so sure that these tunnels weren't discovered a week ago, and just announced today?

That way, Netanyahu could announce his withdrawal and disengagement, and then say "oh wait, never mind, there's more to do, and it's their fault."

He could do this for weeks.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I suppose he could.

He could also be following Mr. Obama's orders as the the timing of the withdrawal suggests. Short version: Mr. Obama calls and in less than 48 hours Israel begins its withdrawal from Gaza.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
dherion: "You can be creators or destroyers...Muslims have always been destroyers, unable to build anything unless a Westerner, African or Asian(non-Muslim) builds it for them...without the petro dollars they are nothing but goat herders."

I once listened to a North American run down the Arabs. The average Gulf Arab, he said, "works" in a government office, sitting at his made-in-Taiwan computer. Then he gets into his German car and drives home while fiddling with his Korean smart phone. Once home, he flops down on the sofa and stares at his Chinese big screen TV, flicking through channels carried by a European satellite launched on a Russian rocket.

And the more he talked, the more I squirmed.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I've known americans who've worked in the gulf + saudi oilfields for 30 years. Universally, they relate that the Arabs (even the most "industrious" ones) get their "jobs" based solely on family connections, never leave the confines of their offices (culturally, they consider it "beneath them" to do anything that even hints at physical labor, even if it is just turning a valve), and tend to spend every day either deciding what to have for lunch, or arguing over who has the most impressive sounding job title.

That's why they pay any ex-pat who goes there so much. I'm convinced that there's not a single arab alive today who has any conception of the what the western (or Chinese-Japanese) concept of "work" is.

30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
allen said: As to Mr. Netanyahu's performance, he has allowed Hamas to determine when, where, and how to fight.

First the facts, that Israel has apparently pulled all troops back out of Gaza as of last night.

While I share the rest of your concerns, your assumption isn't exactly the case. Israel waltzed into Gaza when they chose, went where they decided to go and fought how they felt like fighting. Part of the problem is the execrable quality of the reporting, that never ever mentions any armed Hamas resistance. Your real argument is with where and how Israel did decide to fight, but it is an overstatement to say Hamas controlled that, you know what controls it, various international considerations - and Israel's own self-image. I too have expressed grave disappointment with Israel's net decsions, that they are teaching the wrong lessons and not changing conditions such that it won't all immediately repeat and each time a little worse for Israel. Or a lot worse. BUT it is easy for an outsider to say that. I've never quite understood the Israeli opinions on the Palestinians from either side, why they befriend them in spite of all, and why they don't destroy them in spite of all. I understand the Israeli judgement is under extreme pressure, and may be right, even if it doesn't seem so to me. I do think Israel has caused only a tenth of the damage and casualties needed to "make the point". I hope I'm wrong.

But of course it's not over, they can finish making the point at any time, with artillery and missiles. Frankly I'm not sure why they had to put boots on the ground at all, from the wisps of rumor on sites like good ol' Debka, it sounds like they had plans for some counter-infiltration and this did not work.
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30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I gave up on reading Debka some time ago. I think it's a bit more likely that we could say "the stories made up by the fantasists who write for Debka turned out to be stories written by fantasists".
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
I suppose, since Netanyahu isn't prosecuting the war to the satisfaction of some, the Israeli electorate should go back to his immediate predecessor, Ehud Olmert, who did such a spectacular job against Hezbollah in 2006. If they hurry, they can catch him before he reports to prison to do his six years.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
The time has come where we can no longer wait for government to control itself, stick to budgets, and stop squandering the peoples purse. It is time to take action alone to dismantle the burgeoning leviathan. The rule of law has failed, it is time to act alone...

Let the president show the way, that 10 million points of light armed with no more than pitchforks and torches can rid the world of this scourge against world peace.

Follow Eric Holders example, the very symbol of law in this nation and disregard it. If someone desperately needs a lynching, know that the law can be followed to the letter or disregarded altogether. Remember, we are a nation of cowards and cowards do not complain when armed men disrupt polling booths.

Do what the IRS does. Take money from your enemies with unlimited force and reward your friends in arms with the booty of conquest.

There is a lot that 100 million citizens can learn from a government. While they are busy saving the planet, handing out free condoms, stopping the rising oceans, diverting drinking water for bait fish. We will see them there and know that they are not us. They are not the US and they have no moral authority to breath our air. Let them seek the continence of their constituents in Honduras.
30 weeks ago
30 weeks ago Link To Comment
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