The Week

Rahm Emanuel (Roman Genn)


Would you want a terrorist living in your neighborhood? In Berkeley, Calif., this is considered a difficult question. A resolution before the city council proposed inviting two released Guantanamo detainees to settle in the city, which “has a longstanding policy in support of peace and justice, including previously welcoming refugees from other countries who unjustly suffered imprisonment, torture and related traumatic experiences.” One member, who makes up the council’s tiny sensible caucus, voted against the measure; four were in favor, but the other four abstained, leaving it one vote short of a majority. We sympathize with the abstainers, who confronted a difficult choice — do something manifestly deranged, or face deranged voters’ wrath — and resolved it in classic Obamaesque fashion. The abstainers can always tell their constituents that they hesitated out of fear that the detainees would not be radical enough for Berkeley.

Whatever else happens in Libya, Moammar Qaddafi has definitely lost at least one of his comforts: Ukrainian nurse Galyna Kolotnytska, famously described in a Wikileaked cable from our Libyan embassy two years ago as “a voluptuous blonde” who was never far from his side. Ms. Kolotnytska is now back in her family’s apartment east of Kiev, refusing all interviews. She spent nine years in Qaddafi’s entourage. Whether her ministrations went beyond the strictly medical is not known. Qaddafi is reported to be a hypochondriac, and considering the number of domestic enemies he must have made in his murderous 42-year despotism, it is understandable that he wishes his closest attendants to be foreigners. No doubt Ms. Kolotnytska has tales to tell. Given Qaddafi’s track record of assassinating critics and opponents around the world, she would be wise to wait until he no longer holds power. May it be soon.

Said Musa, the Afghan Red Cross worker who was condemned to death for converting to Christianity, was released from prison after international appeals to save his life. Musa’s travails remind us that Afghanistan is a barbarous country populated in large part by barbarians. That does not mean they should be subjected to ideologies that worsen their condition, and while we fight to break the power of anti-American zealots, we should also be attentive to the welfare of ordinary Afghans. If Karzai feels too insecure to modify his sharia-based constitution, then he must expect arm-twisting from his American benefactors every time a new Daniel finds himself in the lions’ den.

The United States maintains the Central Command Naval Forces in the Arabian Sea. One of its tasks is to deal with the Somali pirates who are busy hijacking passing ships, especially oil tankers whose owners are prepared to pay millions of dollars in ransom. Somalia may be a failed state ravaged by Islamist terror and civil war, but a handful of big-time gangsters there know how to organize this extortion. Something like 50 ships and 800 captives are being detained right now. The latest victims are a retired couple from California, Jean and Scott Adam, and two friends of theirs, Phyllis Macay and Robert A. Riggle from Seattle. These four liked to sail to faraway places. They were held up at gunpoint in their yacht a couple of hundred miles off the coast of Oman. A U.S. ship arrived, and in the midst of negotiations a firefight broke out, during which two of the pirates were killed and their hostages were fatally wounded. Navy Seals were too late to save the four of them from death but did manage to capture the surviving pirates. The United States has been here before. In the early years of the Republic, it was usual to pay ransom for ships and crews seized by pirates. Thomas Jefferson persuaded Congress that force was “more economical and more honorable.” Powder and ball was the answer then; and helicopters and missiles are the answer now.

March 21, 2011    |     Volume LXIII, No. 5

Books, Arts & Manners
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .