This blog is closed until further notice due to unspecified threats from a supporter of the Holocaust denying British National Party and Belgian Vlaams Belang.
This blog is closed until further notice due to unspecified threats from a supporter of the Holocaust denying British National Party and Belgian Vlaams Belang.
And one more…
Kudo’s due upon identifications.
So the Pakistani government finally put their first string offense into the big game. But judging from the results so far, it doesn’t seem as though they’ve changed the game plan any.
That burned out hulk is the remains of a Pakistani Army Al-Zarrar (highly upgraded Type 59) somewhere in Swat Province. (corrected tank identification)
There isn’t any open source information on the actual circumstances of that tank being burned out, but it’s pretty easy to surmise that once again Pakistani armor was operating without infantry support, or that whatever infantry support they had wasn’t able to do its job for whatever reason. Although without seeing the right side and rear of that tank it is possible that a mechanical failure caused the fire.
The basic RPG-7V HEAT warhead is quite capable of penetrating the thinner side and rear armor of the Al-Zarrar but the RPG gunner would have to be within about 300 meters of the target.
The Pakistani Army has apparently learned nothing from its armored debacles of 1965 and 1971, and seems to have not included WW2 in its military history books.
Photo courtesy of The Long War Journal, which really should be required daily reading in the White House and the Pentagon.
Updating with the actual video from al-Jazeera. Hat tip to the Almighty Mr. Roggio.
Video confirms multiple hits on both sides and a sophisticated ambush by experienced pros.
Reprinted with the kind permission of Bruce Bawer…
Thursday, May 6, 2009, 9:28 P.M. CET: Recently, Andrew Sullivan posted a link to an article about Charles Johnson, the celebrated blogger who has distanced himself from many other anti-jihadists and called them “a bunch of kooks.” Though it grieves me to say so, and though I’ve hoped that things would somehow turn around, Charles is, alas, not whistling Dixie: I can testify that in the last couple of years some significant, and lamentable, shifts have taken place on the anti-jihad front. Writers and bloggers whom, not very long ago, I would unhesitatingly have described as staunch defenders of liberal values against Islamofascist intolerance have more recently said and done things that have dismayed me, and that, in many cases, have compelled me to re-examine my view of them.
Once upon a time, these people made a point of distancing themselves from far-right European parties such as Belgium’s Vlaams Belang – whose most prominent Internet voice, Paul Belien, has declared himself to be fighting for “Judeo-Christian morality” not only against jihadist Islam but also against “secular humanism.” Belien has made no secret of his contempt for gay people and for the idea that they deserve human rights as much as anyone else. Now, however, many of the anti-jihadist writers who once firmly rejected Vlaams Belang have come to embrace it wholeheartedly. In fact, for reasons unknown to me, this regional party in one of Europe’s smallest countries appears to have become, for a number of anti-jihadist writers on both sides of the Atlantic, nothing short of a litmus test: in their eyes, it seems, if you’re not willing to genuflect to VB, you’re not a real anti-jihadist.
I happen to be aware of this new state of affairs because during the last year or so I’ve been scolded by a number of respected and accomplished writers for refusing to make nice with Vlaams Belang. Some of them have done this gently, pleadingly; others, who once addressed me with civility and respect as a fellow independent writer, have taken a harsh and hectoring, and in two or three cases even a condescending and bullying tone with me, as if they’re the bosses of some political machine and I’m an irksome underling who’s deviating from the party line. The shift is, frankly, breathtaking. Some of these writers have admitted privately that VB is bad news but argue that the party is nonetheless a valuable ally in the struggle against the Islamization of Europe, just as Stalin was a useful partner in the war on Hitler; others insist vehemently that Belien & co. are terrific folks, and claim that their checkered reputation is entirely the work of Charles Johnson. Never mind that other right-wing European parties, such as Norway’s Progress Party, have explicitly distanced themselves from VB; never mind that in 2006 Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a far more well informed student of Benelux politics than any of VB’s eager new boosters, called VB “a racist, anti-Semitic, extremist party that is unkind to women” and earlier today, while acknowledging that “the party has adjusted its rhetoric and seems to have dropped its anti-Semitic stance,” told me in an e-mail that “it’s very difficult to know whether this [adjustment] is genuine or political pragmatism.”
The other day, in the wake of my City Journal piece “Heirs to Fortuyn?”, a couple of anti-jihad writers who had not yet rebuked me for my stance on Vlaams Belang finally got around to doing so. Not only did they send me e-mails taking me to task for criticizing VB in that article; one of them also took it upon himself to chew me out for, in his view, admiring Pim Fortuyn too much and Geert Wilders too little. (Never mind that I’ve defended Wilders frequently and that Wilders has blurbed my new book, Surrender.) Wilders, this individual felt compelled to lecture me, is a far greater figure than Fortuyn ever was. Why? Because, he explained, Wilders stands for “Western values,” while Fortuyn stood only for – get ready for this – “Dutch libertinism.”
Yes, “Dutch libertinism.” The words took my breath away. During the last few days (while, as it happened, I was visiting Amsterdam) I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind. For a self-styled anti-jihadist – who, by the way, I first met three years ago at the Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference in The Hague – to refer in this way to a man who sacrificed his life for human liberty is, in my view, not only incomprehensible but profoundly despicable. This is, after all, precisely the sort of language that Dutch Muslim leaders hurled at Fortuyn during his lifetime. And in the present case the words were plainly aimed not only at Fortuyn but at me – a writer who, like Fortuyn, that great martyr for freedom, is gay.
What the hell, one is entitled to wonder, is going on here? Why has Vlaams Belang, of all things, become a veritable sacred cow for so many anti-jihadist writers? And why does at least one of them now take such a staggeringly contemptuous view of Pim Fortuyn? I can’t honestly say that I understand any of it. But I do know this: when writers who represent themselves as champions of liberty start cozying up to distinctly illiberal parties like Vlaams Belang – and when one of those supposed champions of liberty starts to sound uncomfortably like the Islamist enemies of freedom whom he purports to despise – then there’s something terribly wrong, and genuinely evil, afoot.
Did you think we would not recognize you? You took off the brownshirts and put on suits, but you still stink of the hatred, the evil. The stench of six million dead oozes from your pores. I know who you are, I know what you are. I will never forgive, nor forget. You have no excuse for existence.
Extreme Right Political Parties
The Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest − VB) succeeded the Vlaams Blok after the latter was forced to disband in 2004 following a Belgian court’s decision that it was racist and outside the bounds of legal public discourse see (ASW 2004). After toning down some of the Blok’s extremist anti-immigrant and Holocaust denial rhetoric, the VB won significant percentages of the vote in Flanders. Despite its demonstrations of solidarity with the Jewish community since the creation of the AEL and its more moderate tone in relation to the Holocaust and the Jews in general, the VB continues to retain ties with small neo-fascist and antisemitic groups, such as Voorpost, Were Di and the Vlaamse Militanten Orde (VMO). Besides being the leading political party in the city of Antwerp, having gained 35 percent of the overall vote in the 2004 elections, the VB is also the main Flemish political party in the Brussels regional parliament, with 6 out of the 11 seats held by Flemings. The VB is one of the founders of the Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty (ITS), a racist and antisemitic group formed in the European Parliament in January 2007. Other members include the French Front National and Romania’s Greater Romania Party, among others.
Filip Dewinter, one of the leaders of VB and a member of the Belgian parliament, and Frank Vanhecke, VB member of the European parliament, visited the US in February, where they reportedly met with representatives of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and spoke at a forum organized by the conservative Robert A Taft Club in Arlington, Virginia. Dewinter also spoke on the white supremacist “Political Cesspool” Internet radio program. The Virginia forum consisted of an amalgam of supporters of the former conservative Republican presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, proponents of scientific racism, and white supremacists from the Council of Conservative Citizens. Dewinter and Vanhecke attacked multiculturalism (as the “new communism”), bemoaned the falling birth rate among white Europeans and declared their intention to save “the West” from the depredations of immigrants who followed the Islamic faith. Islam was like a cuckoo that laid its eggs in your nest; but the West was not yet dead, they argued, in a reference to Pat Buchanan’s book, The Death of the West (Searchlight Magazine, 2007). The two reportedly met privately with Buchanan, who gave them a copy of his anti-immigrant book, State of Emergency (ADL release, Feb. 26).
In September, Dewinter and the man responsible for party security, Luc Vermeulen, participated in a Flemish neo-Nazi VMO meeting.
Since its establishment in Brussels in 1985, the francophone Front national belge (FN) has attracted the leaders of political groups and circles known for their endorsement of antisemitism and Holocaust denial, such as the Fraternité sacerdotale Saint-Pie X, Belgique et Chrétienté (see below), and Cercle Copernic (a cultural group belonging to the neo-Nazi stream of the New Right). A number of “independent” publications with antisemitic content, such as the Walloon Altaïr, have expressed support for the Front’s political struggle. Following the June 2004 regional elections, the FN became the second major party in Charleroi (18.9 percent) after the Socialist Party, but remains only the fifth largest within the Wallonia region (8 percent). Nevertheless, the FN confirmed its standing in the francophone political landscape.
The FN – run by Daniel Féret, who has declared himself life president – has been subject to continuous breakaway threats (see ASW 2005). Unlike its Flemish counterparts, the French-speaking right has never put antisemitism on hold, as demonstrated by postings on the forum of the Tonnelier.be website, where the “Jewish Internationale” is fiercely denounced. Its operator, Georges-Pierre Tonnelier, includes in his “political priorities” abrogation of the Belgian anti-racist (1981) and Holocaust denial laws (1995). Both Tonnelier and Féret were convicted in 2006 of racism and inciting hatred (see ASW 2006).
In March, a Belgian committee of support for Jean Marie Le Pen, leader of the French National Front and candidate in the 2007 French presidential election, was formed in Charleroi (Wallonia). It was led by Droite et Modernité, which is linked to a dissident wing of the National Front opposed to Daniel Feret, and consists of Belgian Senate member Michael Delacroix, Charles Pire and Jean-Pierre Borbouse, both MPs in the Wallonian regional parliament, Georges-Pierre Tonnelier, Ghislain Dubois founder of Belgique & Chrétienté and Patrick Sessler, a former neo-Nazi and VB activist. Droite et Modernité calls for a “nationalist” alliance in Brussels of the FN and the Vlaams Belang. On the dissident FN website, leader Michael Delacroix says (in French): “I do not detest Karl Marx, I hate him. He represents the morbid paroxysm of Judeo-Cartesianism [of Descartes], which is pushing for the negation of humankind and which caused the deaths of tens of millions of people due to the cult of the sponginess of the mind” [Je ne déteste pas Karl Marx: je le hais. Il est le paroxysme morbide d’un judéo-cartésianisme qui se complet dans la négation de la nature humaine et a coûté à l’Europe quelques dizaines de millions de morts par le culte de la facilité spongieuse de l’esprit] (http://www.fn.be/michel-delacroix.html).
Extreme Right Extra-parliamentary Groups
Among extra-parliamentary groups of the Belgian far right, antisemitism is less of a taboo than among parliamentary rightists, and many such groups maintain regular contact with parliamentary representatives of right-wing extremism. In francophone circles, the Nation movement, a self-proclaimed alternative to the FN, represents the radical far right. The movement, established in 1999, with its theoretical review Devenir, maintains close ties to other neo-Nazi groups, in particular through the activities of the Committee of Nationalists against NATO led, among others, by Hervé Van Laethem (see ASW 2006). Nation also has ties to the outlawed Unité radicale in France and the NPD in Germany, as well as to the local FNB and VB, and significantly, to radical Islamist elements, such as the French Parti des musulmans de France, whose virulently anti-Zionist position, communitarian demands and Arab nationalism attract the radical fringe of the European extreme right.
The integrist Belgique et Chrétienté (B&C), created in Liège (Wallonia) in 1989, has links to the FNB and is a recognized lobby in the European parliament. The organization could be considered the political wing of the Catholic fundamentalist Fraternité Saint-Pie X. The latter is a dissident (and excommunicated) branch of the Catholic Church, whose declared mission is to fight “anti-Belgian and anti-Christian racism.” B&C leader Alain Escada is also founder of Polémique-info, a weekly magazine appearing both online and in print, which frequently attacks “restless and anonymous high finance,” a euphemism for the Jews.
In 2007, B&C lost a case they brought against the Belgian anti-fascist group RésistanceS. The B&C sued in 2004 after two members of ResistanceS – Nadia Geerts and David Lefébure – published articles on the B&C and on Polémique info denouncing them as a “nest of fascists.”
In Flanders, almost 700 skinheads attended the Ian Stuart Donaldson [deceased leader of the British neo-Nazi skinhead band Skrewdriver] memorial hate rock fest in Belgium on October 27, a disappointing turn-out for Blood & Honour − Vlaanderen (B&H-VL) organizers who had hoped to attract at least 2,000 to the event. While it is unclear whether the poor attendance was due to internal problems in the banned German wing of the organization, the event, which, as in 2006, took place in the remote village of Wolfsdonk, near Aarschot, in the province of Vlaams-Brabant (Flemish Brabant), was widely covered in the Belgian national media. Security was organized by British B&H members, who threatened a national TV team which sought to interview the locals. The program included notorious hate bands such as Whitelaw, Propaganda, Eternal Pride Avalon and the Flemish band Kill Baby Kill, led by the neo-Nazi skinhead Dieter Samoy, who served a prison sentence for a vicious racist attack on a black man and his white friend in Bruges in May 2006. The moderate nationalist party Spirit, which was part of the pre-2007 Belgian federal government, has announced that it will reintroduce its demand that the federal parliament outlaw neo-Nazi activities on Belgian soil and ban groups such as B&H, which are illegal elsewhere in Europe.
A week before the B&H hatefest, the far right Vlaamse Jongeren Westland (VJW − Flemish Youth Westland) staged a “national demo” in the streets of Bruges. Despite an intense mobilization campaign, no more than 60 to 70 extremists showed up, including many skinheads and a delegation from the Walloon fascist Nation. There were no representatives from either the VB or its satellite Voorpost because relations between the “bourgeois-liberal’ VB and the “genuine nationalist radical” VJW are frosty.
It’s not the Golan Heights and it’s really bad camera work (hold still!), but it is Merkava 4’s at practice.