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Appeasing Arab Dictators
The Weekly Standard ^ | 04/08/2002 | Reuel Marc Gerecht

Posted on 03/30/2002 7:39:16 AM PST by Pokey78

The road to peace in the Middle East runs through Baghdad, not the Arab League.

THE ARAB LEAGUE, like so much else in the Muslim Middle East, has an identity problem. Created in 1944 through British inspiration, the League was supposed to cement a hodgepodge of newly created Arab states into a postwar bulwark of British influence and power. That didn't happen. The organization quickly became a cacophonous expression of the anti-Western, anti-Zionist "Arab nation," its meetings and declarations rhetorical exercises in wishful, often disingenuous thinking. Even Egyptian diplomats, who have long dominated the machinery of the Arab League, and who give the institution an urbanity not present in many of its constituent states, can privately apologize for the juvenility of its proceedings and the enormous gap between the League's version of the Arab world and the way the Middle East really works.

Which of course provokes the question: Why did the Bush administration hitch its prestige to the deliberations of this body? There was no chance whatsoever that the League would produce, as the New York Times surreally put it, an "extraordinary appeal" for peace to the Israeli people. The most fundamental political and cultural mechanics of the Arab Middle East dictated that Saudi crown prince Abdullah's "peace initiative," warmly welcomed and frenetically advanced by the administration, would dead-end in a proposal more retrograde than the one Yasser Arafat demanded at Camp David in July 2000. A quick tour d'horizon of the region should have told the administration that any League declaration would, at best, be just a Saudi pronouncement, that Syria--the only other front-line Arab state besides Saudi Arabia and Iraq without a peace treaty with Israel--would never go along with anything remotely feasible.

Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak expended enormous capital and time in 1999 and 2000 trying to seduce Syria's dictator Hafez al-Assad into signing a peace treaty. (Please recall the optimistic Western reporting, newspaper editorials, op-eds, and State Department assessment of the Israeli approach and Syrian receptivity.) Deploying Israeli concessions as his epee--the same maneuver he tried later with Arafat at Camp David--Barak got nowhere. Indeed, Barak's precipitous unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon--Iran's clerical overlord, Ali Khamenei, more accurately described it as a "flight"--clearly signaled Damascus, and Arafat, that Israel no longer had the stomach for guerrilla fighting.

The Assad regime in Syria has one overriding concern--to maintain control of Lebanon, where perhaps as many as one million Syrians now live, sucking the life out of a country that many, maybe most, Syrians consider a runaway Syrian province. A Syrian peace treaty with Israel, which perforce would entail a Lebanese accord, would require the Assad regime to crack down on the Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah, whose members consider themselves on the cutting edge of the Muslim world's holy war against the Jewish state. They are spiritually, financially, and militarily the children of Iran's clerical regime, and Hezbollah has become an important arms entrepot for the Palestinian war against Israel. The recently seized Karine A, the Palestinian Authority's freighter carrying 50 tons of Iranian weaponry, rendezvoused with Tehran's men in the Persian Gulf via a Hezbollah middleman. A Syrian accord with Israel would fracture Damascus's critical economic and political ties to the clerical regime, which sees Hezbollah's war against Israel as its war, proof that Iran's Islamic revolution in foreign affairs is not dead. Most important, a Syrian treaty with Israel would inevitably set in motion greater Lebanese agitation for a Syrian withdrawal. The West, which has largely ignored Syria's occupation of Lebanon, might possibly start to focus on the Assad regime's depredations in the Levant. Hezbollah, which now lives to export its holy-warrior cause beyond Lebanon's borders, would definitely and violently focus on Syrian efforts betraying its anti-Zionist ideals. One suspects that the "Lebanese" decision to deny Arafat a satellite-delivered television presence at the Arab summit in Beirut was in part the Assad regime's way of reminding Yasser Arafat, and everybody else, who calls the shots. (The Lebanese no doubt also enjoyed insulting Arafat, who did so much in the 1970s to radicalize and destroy Lebanon's delicate society.)

And Syria's calculations aren't that different from Egypt's or Saudi Arabia's. Neither of America's Arab "allies" has much to gain--they actually have a good deal to lose--by making a real peace with Israel. In foreign affairs and domestically, Egypt's $2 billion-plus American aid package is premised on the assumption that Egypt is the Arab pillar of Middle East peace. If Egypt removes itself from the front line, then irrespective of the actions of other Arab states, war against Israel is unwinnable, if not unthinkable. Egypt is, as American diplomats are fond of saying, the great pro-American bulwark among Arab states, the intellectual and military anchor of "moderateness." Its peace treaty with Israel is thus sui generis.

However, with a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, one that banished war and evil thoughts against the Jewish state, Egypt's position--or to put it another way, President Hosni Mubarak's guaranteed cash flow--could be in serious jeopardy. The Mubarak regime's ability to politely blackmail the United States just wouldn't be the same, certainly not in the halls of Congress, if peace and tranquility broke out all over the region.

Domestically, a comprehensive peace for Egypt makes even less sense. Mubarak's war against homegrown Islamic fundamentalism--and the regime believes it decisively won its brutal campaign against Islamic militants in the 1990s--entailed an all-important compromise. The Egyptian president would allow increased Islamic sentiment throughout Egyptian society, particularly within the governing apparatus and schools, in exchange for internal peace and more explicit support for the regime from religious quarters. Also, Egypt's political class has been winking at its Arab-nationalist intellectuals, who find the idea of a permanent, normal peace with the Jewish state profoundly unsettling, if not morally repugnant. Cairo would thus have no more than a cold peace with Jerusalem. In its heart, Egypt would remain true to anti-Zionism.

Mubarak's strategy, which is the modus operandi for many Muslim regimes confronting fundamentalism, has been for America unquestionably a Faustian bargain--our biggest Arab "ally" has become the intellectual engine of anti-Americanism in the Arab world, a key factor in the rise of bin Ladenism. But for Mubarak it has worked. The Egyptian dictator, unlike Pakistan's ruler Pervez Musharraf, hasn't even made a pretense of reforming Egypt's dysfunctional educational system or the government-controlled press that spews forth some of the foulest stuff since Josef Goebbels.

A comprehensive Arab peace, enthusiastically and thoughtfully backed by Mubarak, would of course shred the social compact that has defined right and wrong in Egypt for twenty years. There is perhaps no surer way for Mubarak to spark domestic unrest in Egypt, certainly in the militant neighborhoods where Osama bin Laden was, and probably still is, viewed as a hero, than for the president to withdraw the government's seal of approval from anti-Zionism. If an individual's actions are a sign of cognizance, Mubarak certainly understands that Arab moderation in the cause of peace fuels the Islamic extremism that once seriously threatened the Egyptian regime. The Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the organization that gunned down Anwar Sadat and is now one with bin Laden's al Qaeda, savagely attacked the Egyptian state because it had made unforgivable compromises with Israel and the West. Mubarak waged a truly draconian campaign against them. He is unlikely to be so deluded by his success as to tempt fate again and reignite kamikaze holy warriors in his midst.

In other words, for the Egyptians, the Saudi peace initiative is nearly the opposite of what the Bush administration so desperately envisioned: Because it is not moderate, it is actually a means for Mubarak to demonstrate his anti-Israeli credentials to his citizenry and the larger Arab world. Mubarak, who appears to have no particular fondness for Arafat, stood by the chairman in July 2000 when the Palestinians scuttled the Camp David talks. He stood by the chairman in September 2000 when Arafat decided again to augment his negotiation tactics with terrorism. He actually leapfrogged Arafat by canceling his appearance at last week's Arab summit in Beirut. In so doing, he also preempted and trumped the annoying Saudis, who are once again trying hard to be the preeminent Arab players in the Middle East. In Beirut, the Saudis actually laid down their new yardstick for justifying Arab intransigence against Israel (again, the opposite of what the Bush administration was hoping they were going to do; the opposite of what the elite American press reported from the summit). Mubarak, by not showing up, tried to make himself appear above the League's always distressing theatrics. He wanted to be one with the Palestinian people in their resistance to Israeli oppression. He wanted to be for both "peace" and war. Given his desire for U.S. money and domestic tranquility, he took an eminently reasonable approach.



FOR THE Saudis and Egyptians, Beirut must be considered a success. No one in Washington is now talking about September 11. No one is talking about the instrumental Saudi and Egyptian roles in poisoning the minds of two generations in the Arab world. No one is talking about the key aid Saudi Arabia has given to Palestinian fundamentalist groups, preeminently Hamas, which sent the kamikaze holy warrior into the Israeli seaside hotel in Netanya during Passover. No one in the administration--the president excepted, of course--has stood up to issue a scathing philosophical denunciation of this death-wish phenomenon, to state in irreversible words that anyone who labels a suicide bomber a "martyr" in a "war of resistance" is beyond the pale of civilization. With the exception of the president, the Bush administration seems to want to hold itself captive to the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation--by default or by choice, to define that conflict in terms inoffensive to the Saudis and the Egyptians and, beyond them, the "Arab street," supposedly represented by the Arab League. The Bush administration's panic to have Arab and Muslim cover for future action against Iraq has left it rhetorically defenseless.

The administration is now in an unpleasant spot. Saudi Arabia and Egypt--its two heavyweight Arab "allies"--have no intention whatsoever of forcing Yasser Arafat, or any of his minions who may succeed him, to accept a settlement along the lines that Arafat rejected at Camp David. A clear-cut, maximalist position has been laid out in Beirut, a stand that allows the Arab nations to claim the cause of peace yet endorse suicide bombers. The entire Arab world saw how Vice President Cheney's journey through the Middle East predictably became a public roadshow for belittling America's support of Israel and the president's decision to do something about Saddam Hussein. The Bush administration's decision to veto a meeting between Arafat and Cheney because the chairman had failed to demonstrate his commitment to curtail Palestinian terrorism, and simultaneously to encourage the Israelis to allow Arafat to go to Beirut to advance the cause of "peace," reveals extraordinary confusion, both strategic and moral, within the State Department and the National Security Council. The Arabs are not blind. Washington was asking to be publicly kicked, and the Arab League, particularly the Saudis, obliged. The Saudi delegation went out of its way to make nice-nice to the Iraqis present, adding in its own eyes a little extra public humiliation for the United States.

Saudi Arabia, like Egypt, is a society tied in knots, both fearful and proud of its Arab and Muslim credentials. It is congenitally incapable of being a bold country, domestically or internationally, a prerequisite for being on the cutting edge of the Arab world and seeking peace with Israel.

No matter. Unless the Bush administration continues to indulge its pretentious side, the Saudi royal family really doesn't believe that it can long contradict or sidetrack the United States. If Washington pushes against Iraq or against Arafat, the Saudis, like the Egyptians, will give ground. The Bush administration should calm down. Even if it persists in the belief that it needs political cover for its actions in the Middle East, it ought to understand that our Muslim friends will be more numerous and steadfast the more forceful and determined we appear. One of the great blessings that America enjoys, and Israel does not, is that we can mess things up repeatedly and still win. The superpower advantage will become crystal clear the moment the Bush administration decides to change the debate in the Middle East, from Israel and the Palestinians to the far more important issue of Baathi Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction.

However, the administration must first understand that it can change the debate overnight, that it is in no way held hostage by "the Arab street" or the convictions of an Arabian prince and an Egyptian dictator. With one hand tied behind its back, America can turn the tables on the Arab League and Yasser Arafat, who has repeatedly tried to get Washington to obtain for him what terrorism so far has not. When American soldiers are in Baghdad, and the Al Jazeera satellite television channel is reluctantly broadcasting footage of jubilation in the streets throughout Iraq, the embarrassing episode of Prince Abdullah's "peace initiative" at the Beirut summit will prove to have been but a brief entry in the State Department's annals.

In the meantime, the Bush administration should tell the Israelis that they ought to do whatever it takes to defend themselves from suicide bombers. Saddam Hussein, if not the Near East Bureau of the State Department, will then understand that America intends to be unrelenting in its war on those who convert nail bombs, jet airliners, or toxin-laden warheads into expressions of love of God or country. If we persevere, we will also do far more for the Palestinians than Yasser Arafat and the Arab League have ever done.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Israel; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: arafat; gaza; israel; napalminthemorning; wot
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1 posted on 03/30/2002 7:39:16 AM PST by Pokey78
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To: Pokey78
read later
2 posted on 03/30/2002 7:42:08 AM PST by freedom9
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To: Pokey78
What stands out in all this is the arab obsession with Israel, 5.8 million jews in a tiny strip of land representing less than 1/2 of 1% of the Middle East, against 350 million arabs. The jews arrived, or perhaps I should say returned to Palestine in the 1920s and earlier, as impoverished refugees, and built a nation that has 13 times the per capita GNP of Egypt (the number would be even more disparate were it not for the pumping up of the Egyptian number by US aid payments). They also established a representative democratic government, something no arab nation has ever done.

Average IQ among the arab countries of the Middle East is about 85 (borderline retarded), as compared to about 100 in Israel, according to Lynn and Vanhanen in "IQ and the Wealth of Nations." This may account to some extent for the arab tendency to live in their dream world of revanchist fantasy and paranoia.

3 posted on 03/30/2002 7:52:24 AM PST by thucydides
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To: freedom9
The Arab states are a combination of dictatorships ruled by elite families grasping the wealth and leaving the citizens impoverished. By placating the dictators, we give the impression we are as corrupt as they are, which in a way, is true. We sure haven't supported freedom in any way, shape, or form for the public.
4 posted on 03/30/2002 7:54:22 AM PST by meenie
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To: Pokey78
In the long, or short, run, I'm thinking there is just too much steam built up to not blow the lid off this little potboiler moment in history.

The radical Islamic intention is so large in it's hatred for things Jewish, or American, that it is irreversible. Israel and the the U.S. will prove to be too implacable in their desire for self-preservation.

There is big war around the corner.

It is enabled by the spectre which haunts Europe, the ghost of Hitler is still doing the two-step as it watches the reflexive anti-Semitism that lingers in the Continental psyche rear its hydra-heads.

I sense a disturbance in the Force. Only war can bring it back into balance.

We are in a millenial clash of the civilizations. My money is on King David and Davy Crockett.

5 posted on 03/30/2002 7:56:08 AM PST by jwfiv
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To: Pokey78
Interesting take, but wrong IMHO.

The Bush people are trying to establish cover,
but not in the Arab world. They want cover domestically;
to be able to say "We did all could diplomatically to
resolve the Israeli-Palestine conflict, even pushed for
the Saudi peace plan and a nation for the Palis, etc".

Bush and his people did all that because they knew
perfectly well Arafat and the Palis would never go for
it

Now they are not bound to wait on a peace between Israel
and the Arabs; they can shrug and say to any critics: "What
more could we have done?"

They have created a situation where they can now act
with a free hand.

6 posted on 03/30/2002 8:11:54 AM PST by MrNatural
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To: MrNatural
You are absolutely correct!
7 posted on 03/30/2002 8:33:13 AM PST by McGavin999
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To: thucydides
Average IQ among the arab countries of the Middle East is about 85 (borderline retarded), as compared to about 100 in Israel, according to Lynn and Vanhanen in "IQ and the Wealth of Nations."

So these guys think that the average IQ in Israel is dead average? Somehow that strikes me as rather odd, especially considering the following:

Jews are generally regarded as more intelligent than the average person. This perception has a basis in fact - the best and brightest throughout Jewish history traditionally became rabbis. Unlike priests, rabbis are permitted to marry, and rabbis traditionally have large families, partially in order to set a good example for their flocks. Also, Jews have endured numerous persecutions and massacres of various types for nearly 2,000 years. It only makes sense that the survivors (and their offspring) would have a higher level of intelligence, as intelligence is definitely a positive survival factor throughout the animal kingdom. Thus, the base of Jews before the Holocaust probably had an IQ of more than 100.

Israel was the beneficiary of a large influx of Holocaust survivors. Since higher intelligence is a positive survival factor, this leads to the conclusion that such survivors are more intelligent than the average of all of the people subjected to such treatment (who themselves probably had an IQ of more than 100). Simple genetics predicts that the offspring of such generally more intelligent people will also be more intelligent.

Israel managed to establish itself in a desert wasteland against the wishes of its much more numerous and better armed adversaries, and to then survive and prosper against overwhelming odds, as well as to develop a rather robust nuclear weapons infrastructure. None of these things are easily accomplished by very intelligent societies, and would probably be impossible for those of merely average intelligence.

Israel's intelligence services, Shin Bet and the Mossad, are looked upon as being the best in the world, man-for-man. Israel's armed forces are looked upon in the same manner, or at least no worse than #2 or #3 in this regard. From precisely which population base did the very numerous people in these institutions spring?

Israel has a disproportionately large number of doctors and scientists in its population, probably the highest per capita figures in the world. Certainly the vast majority of people in these professions have well above average intelligence.

Are we to believe that the rest of Israel's population (i.e. non-Mossad, non-armed forces, non-professional) are so far below average that they drag the overall average Israeli IQ to only 100? Keep in mind that these people also have families, and most people like to marry others of similar intelligence levels; their offspring will, as indicated above, also be of higher intelligence. Thus, the base of people with higher intelligence in Israel is multiplied by a factor of somewhere between 2 and 4 (depending on marital status and the number of children) beyond the raw numbers of people in the "higher intelligence" category defined above.

By the way, does this figure include Israeli Arabs (about 1 million)? How about the Pallies that live under Israeli control (1 million? 2 million)? If these groups are included, then the average IQ of Jewish Israelis is likely considerably higher than 100.

I'd love to know the details and methodology of this book.

8 posted on 03/30/2002 10:06:03 AM PST by Ancesthntr
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To: thucydides
...Israel, 5.8 million jews...

Israeli Jews number around 4.6-4.8 million; the rest of the population is composed of Arabs with Israeli citizenship and Bedouins.

9 posted on 03/30/2002 10:08:47 AM PST by Ancesthntr
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To: jwfiv
The radical Islamic intention is so large in it's hatred for things Jewish, or American, that it is irreversible. Israel and the the U.S. will prove to be too implacable in their desire for self-preservation.

There is big war around the corner.

It is enabled by the spectre which haunts Europe, the ghost of Hitler is still doing the two-step as it watches the reflexive anti-Semitism that lingers in the Continental psyche rear its hydra-heads.

I agree that a war is coming. It has apparently taken the Arab world nearly 30 years to forget that the Israelis have far better troops, equipment, training, intelligence and generalship. (not to mention a rather important deity in their corner, if they obey His laws, and the world's only superpower as an ally). Israel will kick their behinds again, provided that they don't sit still and take the first blow like they foolishly did in 1973. With Sharon in charge (or Netanyahu, if Sharon's government falls), I doubt that this will happen.

By the way, Hitler's spectre haunts more than Europe. Arafat's uncle was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem during WW2. He was the evil bastard that suggested to Hitler that he kill all the Jews, rather than deporting them. This, in combination with the PLO charter and all of its actions since 1964, shows the direct ideological connection between Arafat and Hitler. The fact that this scumbag is in his bunker with a pistol is a remarkable irony - can we get Suha to join him and provide some cyanide?

10 posted on 03/30/2002 10:18:00 AM PST by Ancesthntr
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To: Veronica; dennisw; nachum; sabramerican
Bump for an interesting article.
11 posted on 03/30/2002 10:19:57 AM PST by Ancesthntr
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To: Ancesthntr
Thanks for the info in tha last paragraph, about Yassir's lineage...he's one degree from Adolph, but of the same cloth and kind.

Total war is brewing. Krauthammer said this morning, to Tony Snow, that 'if' it comes, it would likely start with an offensive from the Evil Ones in the north, from Lebanon with it's Hezbollah and 10,000 Katyusha rockets. A reasonable assumption, I think.

And, I think that there is no 'if', only when.

12 posted on 03/30/2002 10:33:35 AM PST by jwfiv
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To: Ancesthntr
The book is published by Praeger and is available through Amazon.com, but it is expensive. Keep in mind that the Israelis have taken in large numbers of poorly educated jews from various countries. Jewish IQ in Europe and US is above average. However, the main point was to show the appalling deficit in IQ among the arab population, and to suggest it might account for some of what is going on.
13 posted on 03/30/2002 1:27:30 PM PST by thucydides
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To: MrNatural
bump
14 posted on 03/30/2002 1:30:29 PM PST by timestax
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To: Ancesthntr
Right you are: the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics estimates 4.9 million jews, and 1.2 million others.
15 posted on 03/30/2002 1:32:09 PM PST by thucydides
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To: Ancesthntr
I agree that a war is coming. It has apparently taken the Arab world nearly 30 years to forget that the Israelis have far better troops, equipment, training, intelligence and generalship. (not to mention a rather important deity in their corner, if they obey His laws, and the world's only superpower as an ally). Israel will kick their behinds again, provided that they don't sit still and take the first blow like they foolishly did in 1973. With Sharon in

AMEN !

16 posted on 03/30/2002 5:50:45 PM PST by timestax
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To: MrNatural
bttt
17 posted on 03/30/2002 6:47:39 PM PST by timestax
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To: thucydides
Keep in mind that the Israelis have taken in large numbers of poorly educated jews from various countries.

I was always taught that IQ was utterly independent of one's level of education, and dealt solely with one's ability to learn. Raw intelligence should have nothing to do with one's educational level.

18 posted on 03/31/2002 7:45:19 PM PST by Ancesthntr
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To: Ancesthntr
You are right. However, educational attainment is statistically closely correlated with IQ.
19 posted on 04/01/2002 6:28:04 AM PST by thucydides
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To: Pokey78
bump
20 posted on 04/01/2002 2:52:27 PM PST by timestax
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To: thucydides
bump
21 posted on 04/01/2002 10:22:59 PM PST by timestax
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To: Ancesthntr
bump
22 posted on 04/02/2002 9:21:39 PM PST by timestax
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To: meenie
bump for the newbies to see this here post !!
23 posted on 04/03/2002 6:35:40 AM PST by timestax
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To: Ancesthntr
bump
24 posted on 04/03/2002 10:18:38 AM PST by timestax
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To: meenie
bump for the newbies!!
25 posted on 04/03/2002 12:28:02 PM PST by timestax
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To: muggs
bump for newbies to see
26 posted on 04/04/2002 5:34:42 AM PST by timestax
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To: Pokey78
please bump for the newbies coming aboard to see!!
27 posted on 04/05/2002 6:22:25 AM PST by timestax
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To: Ancesthntr
bttt
28 posted on 04/10/2002 11:13:33 PM PDT by timestax
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To: muggs
Please bump for newbies and politicians on board!!
29 posted on 04/11/2002 6:33:50 PM PDT by timestax
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To: timestax
bump
30 posted on 04/12/2002 6:06:35 PM PDT by timestax
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To: freedom9
bump
31 posted on 04/12/2002 6:11:59 PM PDT by timestax
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To: freedom9
bump
32 posted on 04/14/2002 7:21:08 AM PDT by timestax
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To: muggs
bumped for the newbies to see!! ok??
33 posted on 04/22/2002 1:03:19 PM PDT by timestax
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To: timestax
bump
34 posted on 04/22/2002 9:56:21 PM PDT by timestax
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To: muggs
bump for the road
35 posted on 04/23/2002 7:18:40 AM PDT by timestax
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To: meenie
bump
36 posted on 04/24/2002 7:51:43 AM PDT by timestax
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To: timestax
bttt
37 posted on 04/25/2002 4:48:45 PM PDT by timestax
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To: muggs
bttt
38 posted on 04/26/2002 8:11:43 PM PDT by timestax
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To: timestax
bttt
39 posted on 05/02/2002 5:24:18 PM PDT by timestax
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To: muggs
bttt
40 posted on 05/07/2002 7:56:19 AM PDT by timestax
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To: timestax
bttt
41 posted on 05/07/2002 5:12:41 PM PDT by timestax
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To: timestax
Appeasement !!baby !!
42 posted on 05/08/2002 9:09:24 PM PDT by timestax
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To: timestax
bump
43 posted on 05/09/2002 7:26:08 PM PDT by timestax
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To: muggs
bump
44 posted on 05/10/2002 8:22:19 AM PDT by timestax
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To: muggs
bttt
45 posted on 05/31/2002 10:10:22 PM PDT by timestax
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To: jwfiv
bttt
46 posted on 06/01/2002 8:09:42 PM PDT by timestax
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To: muggs
bump for newbies to read and think about!!eh
47 posted on 06/02/2002 9:22:45 AM PDT by timestax
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To: timestax
bttt
48 posted on 06/02/2002 5:39:40 PM PDT by timestax
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To: Pokey78
bump for the newbies coming aboard!
49 posted on 06/03/2002 12:58:15 PM PDT by timestax
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To: jwfiv
bump for newbies to read this post!
50 posted on 06/04/2002 8:54:41 AM PDT by timestax
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