« July 2006 | Main | September 2006 »

August 29, 2006

Losing the War II

NR%20Last%20Chance%20for%20Iraq.gif

I don't remember exactly how it came up in conversation. I guess it was just that we had been talking to a couple of soldiers just back from the war that prompted it. Either way, we were outside of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, and were walking down to where the Code Pink people were. The soldiers had gone down there to confront engage in dialogue with them (details here).

Either way, I made some comment about how the situation in Baghad was pretty grim. My compatriot turned to me and said something like "oh but we've been making progress recently!"

Before I could say anything, the moment ended. We got to where we were going, someone else spoke, and the conversation went elsewhere.

If I had been able, I would have said something along the lines of "Oh come on. Here we are 3 1/2 years into the war and you're telling me cheerfully that "we're making progress in the capital city"? "

In Losing the War I said that we were losing the overall war against Islamic fascism (I encourage you to read it simply because several commenters made some very astute points). In this post I'm going to say that we're losing the war in Iraq.

Before my pro-war readers freak out, be assured that one, I think we can still pull it out, and that two I still think it was a good idea to invade.

Before any anti-war readers chortle with glee, ask yourself why it makes you happy to read that I think we're losing.

The editors and writers of National Review have supported the war from the beginning, and do so today. But like me, they have come to be more and more alarmed with the state of affairs in Baghdad. As such, they gathered 10 military experts, geopolitical thinkers, Middle East scholars, and conservative writers for a symposium and asked them two questions: "Are we winning; and, if not, how can we?"

You can read their responses yourself in the September 11, 2006 edition of the magazine. If you pay for a digitial subscription (free with a subscription) you can view it on-line. And shame on you if you don't subscribe.

The participants are David Frum, Newt Gingrich, Mark Helprin, Lawrence Kaplan, Robert Kaplan, Michael Ledeen, Ralph Peters, Michael Rubin, Mark Steyn, and Bernard E. Trainor.

None of them think we're winning, with the possible exception of Mark Steyn, who offered a tepid "Iraq will be mostly all right". Most of them think it's salvagable, though barely so. All offer wise words of advice.

First, however, the editors of NR set the stage

Over the last two years, the U.S. has done nearly everything it thought might undermine the insurgency in Iraq and stabilize the country. We held elections that demonstrated the desire of most Iraqis for a better future. We brought Sunnis into the legitimate political process and fostered the creation of a unity government. We killed the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Zarqawi. We built an Iraqi army that, for all its flaws, will stand and fight. We pushed aside the ineffectual prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari to make room for his replacement, Nouri al-Maliki. We did all of this, yet the violence is as bad as it has ever been.

Attacks on American troops are up. Attacks on Iraqi forces are up. Attacks on Iraqi civilians are up. Iraqi civil society gives the impression of teetering on the edge of collapse. People are afraid to go to mosques, for fear of the horrors that regularly transpire at them. Bank officials depend on stealthy deliveries of cash in private cars, for fear of the brazen robberies that regularly befall armored vehicles. People hesitate to open their doors to the police, for fear that they might actually be militiamen prowling the streets with power tools to torture their victims. Mourners can’t even collect corpses at the Baghdad mosque free of fear that they will be killed while doing so. The middle class is fleeing the country, and both Shia and Sunni are beginning to leave mixed neighborhoods to escape sectarian violence.

If that doesn't get your attention nothing will. But on with the symposium. Following are some excerpts

Michael Rubin

Militias exist to impose through force what they cannot win through the ballot box. Iran exerts its influence through militias, and the U.S. fails to counter them. Left alone, they metastasize.

Bernard E. Trainor

The hoped-for unity government is fractured along ethnic and sectarian lines, with each group advancing its own agenda. Even in a bureaucratic sense it is not working. Corruption at all levels is endemic. Violence is at an all-time high and getting worse, with Iraqis being killed at the rate of 3,000 a month in the internecine war. The sectarian vigilantes and mafias are running wild. Iran clandestinely supports the Shiite militias. Expectations of success in the much-advertised program to restore security to Baghdad are questionable, given past failures. We have not mastered the insurgent way of war, and do not have enough troops in Iraq to “clear, hold, and build” in insurgent-dominated areas. Daily strikes against coalition forces have doubled since January. The Iraqi army remains pitiful, and the police are not only ineffective but untrustworthy. Efforts to put the country’s economy in working order are crippled by insurgent attacks, looting, and corruption.

David Frum

Will 4,000 U.S. troops redeployed from elsewhere in Iraq suffice to do the job? I don’t know anyone who thinks that they will. Not for the first time, we are left to wonder: Does the Bush administration truly believe Iraq is as important as it says it is?

Robert Kaplan

A good case can be made for ramping up troop numbers dramatically. A good case can also be made for drastically reducing them, leaving behind a force of Marines and special-operations soldiers embedded in the Iraqi security services: a classic im¬perial model. Much weaker is the case for what we are doing presently: for example, robbing Mosul of troops in order to move a few thousand to Greater Baghdad. Mosul, though it has made significant progress since 2004, is by no means secure.

Michael Ledeen

What to do? First, recognize that the Iraqi enterprise rested on a failure of strategic vision: It was never possible to secure Iraq so long as Iran and Syria were left free to wage terror war against us. Our military, and some Iraqi units, are terrific, but you can’t win a regional war by playing defense in one place. It is, as I have said ad infinitum, a sucker’s game. Ergo, work for regime change in Iran and Syria, the only way to win the war.

I could go on but you get the point. As I said above, buy the magazing or get a digital subscription and read the whole thing. A few weeks ago I wrote a post about a round table discussion in Foreign Affairs, in which several participants posed ideas on what to do to win in Iraq. I didn't necessarily agree with their ideas, but it was as useful exercise in that what we're doing now isn't working.

Most of the participants in the NR symposium urged the administration to commit more resources, especially troops. Their basic argument is that for some weird reason the administration is trying to win the war on the cheap, and that if we tried harder we would be successfrul. Unfortunately, it may be too late. Michael Rubin in particular said that we're losing primarily because neither the American people nor our politicians (GOP as well as Democrat) are not committed to winning, and took the administration to task for not making the case for war more strongly.

Regarding increased troops, a frustrated reader at NRO made the observation that

If it is true that adding this relatively small number of troops to Baghdad is significantly improving the situation there, can you please tell why in (you know where) it has taken us so long to do this?

To be sure, the issue of additional troops is more complicated than many seem to imagine, as I pointed out in a post last year. Nevertheless, it's still a good question.

The reader, btw, was referring to reports like this one

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said US and Iraqi troops have reduced the levels of violence in Baghdad but whether that lasts depends on a difficult reconciliation process....

The meeting came amid reports from military commanders in Iraq that violent incidents in Baghdad have come down by 40 percent in the past three weeks as US and Iraqi troops have cordoned off and cleared some of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods....

Thousands of US troops were brought into the capital earlier this month amid fears that spiralling sectarian violence could descend into all-out civil war, pitting Shiites against Sunnis.

Losing to Who?

Perhaps the most frustrating, and strangest, aspect of all this is who we're losing to. It's not a defined enemy, one with a headquarters or capital city. We're losing to chaos, to the Iraqis themselves, to Iranian and Syrian subsersives, to sectarian and tribal violence. Al-Qaeda is not going to take over if we pull out. A Milosevic-type fascist who wants to "cleanse" the country of Sunnis might.

Not Linear

Anti-war types will say that we were losing from the start. Some pro-war types always say that "things are improving". Both are wrong. Neither seem to realize that there is an ebb and flow to wars, that it usually goes back and forth between who is winning and who is losing. Now is not the place for a full summary, but suffice it to say that we were winning in early 2003, losing by the end of that year and in 2004 ("What Went Wrong", October 2004), we started to win again in 2005 ("We're Winning", April 2005), but in the past 6-8 months things have taken a decided downwards turn.

No Excuses

As the editors say, " In the end, there is no excuse for losing a war". The GOP has controlled both houses of congress since before the war began. The media may be an annoyance, but Reagan got around it, and he didn't even have the House. The Democrats may be a bunch of political opportunists, for the war when it was popular and against it when not, but they're essentially out of power.

Drunken Sailors

Our problems seem therefore to be twofold; one, we will not commit the resources, and two, the administration will not make the case.

It's not as if we don't have the money. I don't have the figures in front of me, but we all know that the Republicans in congress have been spending money like there's no tomorrow. President Bush encourages their irresponsible behavior, refusing to veto any spending bills whatsoever.

What makes it all so bad is the reason for all the spending; the GOP is trying to buy votes. At least when liberals spend money they do it out of principle. When it comes to most Republicans, they do it just to keep their seats.

So rather than build another carrier task force (we're down, I think to 12, a post-WWII low), reconstitute an Army or Marine Corps division or three, build more F-15s, or ramp up our intelligence assets, they spend the money on pork-barrel projects.

Michael Rubin pointed out that

The U.S. is losing in Iraq because American politicians and the general public have not decided they want or need to win. Many congressmen look at Iraq through the lens of the 2006 election: They care neither how their words embolden the enemy nor how their grandstanding impacts Iraq.

Again, yes the Democrats are not being helpful. But they're not in power. Anywhere.

The fact is that the administration went on vacation shortly after our success in smashing the Ba'athist regime and never quite came back. Reforming Social Security was a laudable goal, but not at the expense of taking attention away from the war.

If Bill Clinton was in office he'd be out making the case for war every day. He'd be visiting a military base or hospital, shaking hands and making sure the photo ops went as planned. He'd make sure that every week there was some piece of legislation designed to help win the war for him to sign, and would arrange for a full-blown press event to ensure maximum publicity. By comparison, this administration is woefully incompetent.

If We Lose

If we lose so many bad things will happen, and so many more could, that I hardly want to think about it. Mark Steyn lays out one of them with his usual blend of seriousness and humor

(The United States) has acquired the habit either of losing wars or of ending them inconclusively. A similar result in the Middle East would lead not just the Chinese, Russians, and Iranians but also the Norwegians, Singaporeans, and Australians to conclude that the nation's hyperpower status was some freak accident — like Jerry Lewis stumbling into a boardroom meeting and being mistaken for the new chairman. They would make their dispositions according, there being no reason why anyone should take Washington seriously ever again. If the Democrats think that's good for the world, I'd like to know why.

Is anyone in the administration listening?

Posted by Tom at 8:21 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 28, 2006

The Nature of our Enemy Part III An Islamic World

On the one hand, there's a danger in reading too much into any one incident. On the other, sometimes they can be so illustrative.

Take the issue of Steve Centani and Olaf Wiig, the Fox News journalists who were told to convert to Islam or die. In the video, posted here on Michelle Malkin's site (and on YouTube), Centanni reads a statement, which says in part

I have embraced Islam, and say the word Allah. My leader is the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him. Islam is not meant for just some people, but it is the true religion for all people in all times. Westerners are not following the wrong path. And I hope they realize that and change their ways,and I hope I can help them to do that. Islam helps people to love mercy, brotherhood, equality and justice....

Disbelievers will be cast into an eternal fire. But Allah is also ever merciful, and the west can change it's ways and turn to the purifying power of Islam....

Islam is not fascism. Words lke that only serve to deepen the chasm between peoples.... The West is seen as waging war on Islam, and these words, "Islamic fascists", only reconfirm that belief among many.... Please, George Bush, please Tony Blair, open your minds to Islam, and bring peace to all people around the world....

Olaf Wiig reads a similar statement. Basically it's all "we are poor persecuted Muslims, please stop killing us with your bombs" stuff.

Prior to all this, however, there is a banner in the video that says


There is no compulsion in Religion. The right path is henceforth distinct from error

Right.

Let's see what we can make of this video

A Global Caliphate

First, as Glenn Reynolds observes, "It's not a religious war to us, but it is to them"

Their definition of victory is converting the whole world to Islam. To the Western mind, a conversion at gunpoint is invalid and pointless. But although it may be politically incorrect to point this out, up until recent centuries, Islam has been spread mainly by warfare and forced conversions. Only since the end of Islamic military power at the end of the 17th century was this ended.

No I am not saying that we should also treat it as a religious war. But as I said in The Nature of our Enemy, Part II: A Problem in Islam, Islam has a problem with violence. Islam itself is not violent, but the way in which it is practiced by a disturbingly high number of people leads to violence. This is ignored both by leftist Westerners and most Muslims alike.


The Nature of Religion

Now a quick note about the nature of religion is in order. If you are a Christian or Muslim, and do not believe that yours is the one and only true and right way to see God, then you don't believe in your own religion. If you are a Christian orMuslim, and do not in your heart want everyone else on the planet to convert to your religion, you do not believe in your own religion.

As for where you're going after you die, if you are a Christian then you know that this is a decision that only God can make. You do not have the right to "judge" people, or say where they are going (bty, this is the true definition of ""Do not judge, or you too will be judged"(Matt 7:1) to a Christian, it does not mean we can't comment on someone else's lifestyle).

The difference, if I need to point it out, is that in our modern world we Christians do not convert at swordpoint. Nor do we fight over religion. Islamic radicals still do. As Christians, we send missionaries out into the world (I've done this) to convert souls. We do not send soldiers to do this.

Now that's out of the way, let's get back to our subject matter

The Propaganda

I'll give the Islamic fascists this, they know what we're saying and what our news media is reporting, and do a good job of trying to turn it against us. I can see where the weak minded at home and abroad would be fooled. I can see in the days to come some leftie saying "see, I told you that 'Islamic fascist' was inflammatory!"

So Much for the "Grievance s" Argument

Fox News anchor Brit Hume nails it

Yes, and what an appealing faith these thugs must believe Islam is, that conversions have to be effected at the point of a gun. And what of the argument that all of the ills and troubles that beset the Palestinian people, that lead them to terrorism, are the cause of what they endlessly refer to as the illegal Israeli occupation.

Consider the latest rounds of trouble in Gaza and Lebanon, two places from which Israel has withdrawn.

It has been noted that not for one day after the Israeli pullout from Gaza did the rocket attacks that came from Gaza ever stop. We’re not dealing here with something that is susceptible to a political resolution of the kind of which the State Department and many a president has dreamed.

We’re dealing here with a lawless enemy whose goal far transcends any side-by-side, two-state solution. That isn’t going to do it. We’re dealing with a terrorist, gangland-style enemy, which I think it’s fair to conclude, and this episode only further illustrates it, must be defeated.

Ditto that.

In Part I of The Nature of Our Enemy I detailed how our enemy is in fact Islamic Fascism, and not "a hundred small grievances."

Get Them

Centanni and Wiig were kidnapped by the Holy Jihad Brigades, a group unknown until this action. Fox News reports that

Senior Palestinian security officials said Sunday the name was a front for local militants, and that Palestinian authorities had known the identity of the kidnappers from the start
.

What we must do is hunt them down and kill them. At the very least, they must be arrested and executed by Palestinian forces. And no this is not simply a "legal matter" that can be handled as in a police action. This should be considered an act of war It is important that we get these terrorists for several reasons.

As Cliff May points out,

I’m glad these guys are safe and free. I wish them well. But I hope there will be some attention paid by Fox and other media to the way in which kidnappings and similar threats coerce and intimidate journalists, and may influence their coverage.

Lastly, and most simply, they are both Westerners, Centanni an American and Wiig a New Zealander. New Zealand has sent special forces to Afghanistan (where they won praise from our guys for their ability to navigate in the mountains). If we do not get the terrorists who committed this act, Islamic fascists the world over will know that this is one more act that they can get away with.

Now let's not all forget about this story in the days and weeks to come, and make sure we get the terrorists who did this.

Posted by Tom at 8:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 26, 2006

Keeping Walter Reed Pinko-Free

Once again last night I was at the main entrance to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC, helping to encourage and greet our troops as well as keep Code Pink as far away as possible.

I didn't get a count, but we must have had 35-40 people on our side, taking up positions on all four corners outside the main entrance. Code Pink had maybe 10-15 at most, halfway down the street. Our pro-troop rally is sponsored by FreeRepublic, and any true supporter of the troops who wants to join us is welcome! We call ourselves "FReepers", and the event is a "FReep", so now you know the lingo.

Last night also marks my one-year anniversary for Walter Reed. Click on Rallies and Protests at right under Categories for a complete history of my activities in support of the troops at Walter Reed and elsewhere. How we got to this situation between FreeRepublic and Code Pink would take some time to explain, so follow the link and scroll down, and at the beginning of several of the posts I review the history of the event.

We gather at 6;30 or so, and bring a large assortment of flags, banners, and signs. Sometime after 9:00, a bus with wounded troops returns to the hospital from a restaurant in Washington DC. Every Friday night a busload of the troops are treated to an evening at an upscale restaurant, courtesy of various charities. They used to go to a restaurant called Fran O'Briens, but since the lost their lease some months ago they rotate it around other restaurants in the area.

When the bus arrives we wave and holler and the troops and their families on the bus wave back. From talking to them about it later I know for a fact that it's a morale booster. But more on that later.

Here's the corner on which we have our largest banner. It is directly opposite the entrance to Walter Reed.

IM000527.JPG

But what I wanted to get to in this post was that most often some of the troops come out to meet us. Last night we met three of them.

I didn't get a chance to speak with them in detail, but did get that one of them was wounded in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. Fortunately, none of their injuries were as bad as many I've seen, and they were all able to get around without any trouble. But what they really wanted was to go see the Pinkos. Unlike some troopers, who want to "give them a piece of my mind", these guys seemed to view them more as a curiousity than anything else. They wanted an argument, but I could tell they wouldn't let it get out of hand.

So several of us walked with them a few hundred feet down to where the Pinkos were gathered. We usually maintain a sort of "block" three-quarters of then way down the sidewalk between us and them, and sometimes one of our number brings his boombox and a recording of Rush Limbaugh on his iPod to play to them. Anything to annoy the Pinkos. But no Rush tonight.

Here you can see two of the soldiers, at right in the photo, have gone down to talk to the Pinkos. Notice also that all of the Pinkos save one are ignoring them. For a group who's signs typically say "Support the Troops, Oppose the War", they sure didn't seem to want to meet any actual soldiers.

IM000532.JPG

Shortly thereafter, a Pinko we call "Bruce" did go talk to the soldiers. Another Pinko we call "large Marge", took up a position inbetween them and us, holding a sign that said "Love the Troops, Hate the War". In this photo she is flanked by two others. For some reason she seemed to think it important that she block our view of the conversation between the soldiers and Bruce.

IM000534.JPG

Here we are, maybe 30 feet from the Pinkos. Shortly after I took this, the soldier on the crutches joined his buddies in their debate.

IM000536.JPG

Later, we asked them what the Pinkos said. They told us that their main argument was along the lines that various terrorist groups were only making threats against the US, and that we were overreacting. "They were only threats, not actions", was what they said according to the troops. It's an argument so dumb I'm not going to waste space refuting it. From what I heard, the troops did quite well in taking care of the Pinkos.

The highlight of the evening, and the reason we're all there - here comes the bus!

IM000524.JPG

(the photo above is actually from last week, I didn't get a good shot last night. But no matter)

An Amazing Bunch

In the year that I've done this, I've met quite a few of the wounded warriors and their families, and they are an amazing bunch.

There was the double amputee who, on a Segway, happened along our counter-protest of the big A.N.S.W.E.R.-sponsored anti-war protest last September 24. Leaning over the fence which separated us from the anti-war hippies, he took off one of his legs and waved it at them, daring them to say anything to him. They didn't.

There were the two wives who brought us hot chocolate and donuts late one night last winter, "to show our appreciation for what you're doing". Although we graciously accepted, it was somewhat embarassing. We were there for them, and there they were thanking us.

There is Mike Sparling(at right in this photo), father of Joshua Sparling, the soldier at Walter Reed who received the "hate mail" letter which sparked national attention. In the aftermath of the incident, Joshua received hundreds of letters from around the country. Mike wanted to send thank-you's to the people who sent them, but couldn't do so himself. He came out of the hospital one night and asked us if we could help him, and of course we said yes. Each of us took maybe 40-50 letters and sent a return thank you for each of them.

The Motorists

As we stand there during the hours before the bus arrives, we wave at the motorists passing by, which prompts lots of friendly waving and horn-blowing from them. All this has generated some discussion among our group.

First, we can establish absolutely no profile to determine who might wave and honk and who won't. It cuts across all age, racial and sex lines. You can never tell.

Second, as Washington DC is a majority black city, the vast majority of motorists passing by are also black. We get a honk or a wave from as many as 1 in 5 motorists or one of their passengers. Yet all surveys show that the vast majority of them neither voted for George W Bush or support the war. What gives?

My guess is that they honk or wave for one or more of several reasons. First, our signs are pretty non-partisan. They mostly say something like "Support the Troops" with maybe a "and the mission too", but at bottom. Our large banner (called the MOAB; Mother Of All Banners) simply says "God Bless Our Troops: Defenders of Freedom: American Heroes". Who but a Pinko could disagree with that?

Second, they wave because we wave at them. I've noticed that it's somewhat of a natural tendancy for people to wave back in these circumstances.

Also, many of the honks are done by motorists "because that's what they want", and they know that when they do it they'll get more waves and shouted "Thank you!'s from us. Once one car does it, others follow suit. It becomes "the thing to do".

In addition, given that we've been doing this for well over a year, and most people drive the same route every day coming home from work or whatever, it's gotten to the point where most of these motorists expect us. They've gotten used to us, and know the drill. It's all kind a festive event at this point.

Every now and then someone will stop and shout insults at us. Everyone responds differently to this sort of provocation. Some of us will just say "Have a nice day!" Others get animated themselves and shout insults back. Myself, I just holler something like "LOSER!" and point at them. Whatever works.

Regulars and Visitors

As you may suspect, most of us are regulars who do this every week. As time goes on, we add more to our number. Some come for a few months, and then drift off.

We also get many who just come by once or twice. These might be people on vacation, who during their visit to Washington DC decide to make our FReep one of their stops. One time we got a bunch of Young Republicans who were in town for a series of training meetings. We 've had people from a whole variety of conservative groups stop by while they were in town.

In addition, some people drive down from various places on the east coast just to participate. Earlier this summer some friends of mine drove down from New Jersey to be with us.

SMASH was here: These past few weeks we have been honored to have blogger SMASH join us for several nights outside Walter Reed. He interviewed several of us, and more importantly, several of the Pinkos. Visit his posts here, here, and, here, for pictures, audio, and transcripts.

Bottom line: If there's any way you can join us we'd love to have you! Send me email if you want more information.

Lastly, you can go here for a list of all Walter Reed after-action reports posted on the Free Republic site.

Posted by Tom at 8:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 23, 2006

The Word from the Generals

Via Powerline, interviews with the Generals running the war in Iraq.

In one Hugh Hewitt interviews General John Abizaid,,commander of CENTCOM. The second is a DOD press conference with Lt. Gen. Sir Robert Fry, deputy commander of the Multinational Forces-Iraq and the senior British representative in Iraq.

Both interviews are especially interesting in light of some good news about Baghdad. Both ABC News and The Washington Times are reporting significant drops in sectarian violence in the capital as a result of Operation Together Forward, the ongoing joint US-Iraqi effort to stabilize the situation.

Following are excerpts from each interview. First is Hewett's interview with General Abizaid,

HH: Can you begin, General, by giving us an overview of the situation in Iraq as of mid-August, 2006?

JA: The situation in Iraq right now, as you've seen, of course, there's an awful lot of sectarian violence, particularly in the Baghdad area. We've found it necessary to move additional troops down into the Baghdad area by extending some forces that we were going to redeploy to help shore up some of the work that the Iraqi Security Forces are doing. We're putting additional Iraqi Security Forces in the field there as well. It's very clear to all of us that have been serving in this region that Baghdad's the key to Iraq, and that we've got to get the levels of sectarian violence down in order for Iraq to stabilize. We're confident it can be done. We've seen some changes already that are somewhat positive. It's still too early to say, but the combination of Iraqi Security Forces and our forces, along with some measures being taken by the new government, we're confident can, over time, move Baghdad in the right direction.

HH: General Abizaid, are you confident as well that victory is possible in Iraq? And what will that look like?

JA: Yeah, no, I'm very confident that victory's possible, not only in Iraq, but in the broader Middle East, if you consider victory being a Middle East where extremism is not tolerated, and doesn't have a chance of going mainstream in the region. I certainly think that in Iraq, there'll be violence after the time that American forces depart. I think that the sectarian issues are deep, but they don't need to be fatal. I believe that over time, as you build institutional capacity and the Iraqi government, and especially in the Iraqi armed forces, that Iraqis will be able to do more and more of the day to day security work. And as that happens, we'll be able to bring our forces down.

Next is Lieutenant General Robert Fry at the DOD briefing. I found this one to be a bit more interesting. General Fry talked about many issues facing Iraq, and the questions were varied. But since the question of whether or not the situation in Iraq constitutes a "civil war" or not is oft-discussed, I thought I'd just excerpt that part of the interview.

GEN. FRY:...The second point I made was about the scale of the enterprise that we're involved in here in Iraq, and I think that still is at the very top of the list of what we're doing here. We're involved in trying to transfer -- transform a whole society, to take it from autocracy to liberal democracy, to take it from something which is entirely state controlled in economic terms to bring it to the disciplines of the market. And perhaps as importantly as anything now, we've got a free and sovereign and competent government to deal with. So I think that all those dimensions make life here complicated. ...

Now, something I didn't mention last time but will mention this time is the rather contentious issue of civil war. With the valedictory message of the erstwhile British ambassador being leaked as he was leaving Baghdad, it seems to cause an awful lot of comments, both in London and also in Washington as well. And I'd just like to offer my views on where we are on that issue.

In my judgment, we are not in a situation of civil war, and I think that we collectively have a lot of experience in what civil war looks like. I know what a civil war looks like from experience in the Balkans and parts of Africa. I also know what sectarian violence looks like from all the time that I've spent in Northern Ireland, and it seems to me it's the second of these two conditions rather than the first that we confront here in Iraq at the present time. But if you want to pick me up on my assertion, I'd be delighted for you to do so.
...

Q:Sir, this is Pam Hess with UPI... What difference does it make from a military perspective whether or not you call it civil war or sectarian violence? Does that change what you do? And is that difference -- does it even matter? Back here, when we look at the number of deaths and the level of violence, what difference does a label make?

GEN. FRY: Well, I think it makes a great deal of difference in this particular case. If you have a civil war, then typically and characteristically, you have the collapse of the central institutions of government. In an absence of government, there's the possibility of chaos. You also tend to lose the instruments of security, and if the army takes part on one side or the other, then, of course, that can have equally significant implications. So I don't think we're talking about labels or military semantics here. I think we're talking about qualitative differences.

There is a very intense sectarian conflict going on, but it is geographically defined. It is not resulting in the mass movement of population, which is characteristically what civil wars do. And it's still being conducted in an environment which has the central institutions of the state functioning. Now, that's the situation that I recognize at the present time. I do not see that as civil war, and neither do I draw glib differences between civil war and sectarian conflict. I think the differences are very substantial and still in existence in Iraq today.

Both generals are cautiously optimistic, as is Army Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the main source for the Washington Times story cited above. Overall, the violence in the capital has dropped 20-33%, depending on whose numbers are cited. Obviously, we've had reason to be optimistic before, only to see setbacks. The next several months will tell.

For Additional Information: Bill Roggio of the Counterterrorism Blog has an excellent summary of the situation in Baghdad. Kirk H. Sowell of ThreatsWatch says that we're now in Phase II of Operation Together Forward. Both of them are also cautiously optimistic, but warn of dire consequences if we do not succeed.

Posted by Tom at 9:34 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 22, 2006

The Nature of our Enemy, Part II: A Problem in Islam

The simple fact is that there is a problem within Islam. Islam has a problem with hate and violence, and for the most part it is not being addressed by Muslim leaders. Quite the opposite; for the most part there are all too many Muslim teachers, leaders, and schools who teach and promote hateful doctrines.

This, in and of itself, is not an insuperable difficulty. There are those in Christianity, such as Fred Phelps, who teach hateful doctrines. The problem with regard to Islam is that one, the problem is so widespread; two, that very few moderate Muslims act in a concerted, coherent fashion to save their religion; and three, that the Western doctrine of multiculturalism prevents many of us from recognizing, much less doing something about the problem.

Disturbing Poll Numbers

The problem is much worse in Europe than it is in the United States, but we might be catching up. A recent poll of British Muslims revealed the following:

- Almost a third of those polled would like to live under sharia law.

- More than one in ten understand why British Muslims might want to carry out suicide missions in this country.

- Nearly a quarter thought that the 7/7 bombings were justified because of Britain's foreign policy.

- Almost one in five respect Osama Bin Laden to some extent.

- Two-thirds think that the poeple who publish the cartoons critical of Mohammed or Islam should be punished

- 45% think that 9/11 was a conspiracy by America and Israel

Last February, during the "cartoon jihad", another poll of British Muslims revealed similar results

- Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia law introduced into parts of the (UK)

- A fifth (of British Muslims) have sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity.

- Overall, the findings depict a Muslim community becoming more radical and feeling more alienated from mainstream society, even though 91 per cent still say they feel loyal to Britain.

When this and other polls are upsetting to the left-wing Guardian you know there's trouble afoot.

Although I wasn't able to find much on American Muslims, this Zogby poll, taken shortly after 9/11, shows that we don't have much to worry about. Yet, anyway.

Teaching Hate

We all know by now that Muslim schools throughout the Middle East teach the most vile propaganda, but it bears repeating. Whether Islam is a "religion of peace" in theory or not is not relevant. What counts is how it is taught.

Nina Shea & Jeanne Hoffman
reviewed the hate that is regularly taught in schools thoughout the Middle East. Sample paragraph

Of all the anti-Jewish influences in the region, one of the most prevalent and potent is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Disseminated with the support and official sanction of the governments of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Palestine, and Syria, as well as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, this work is used to shape the collective consciousness of Arab populations.

The Protocols, if you're not aware, is one of the most vile pieces of anti-Jewish propaganda every produced.

Arab and Iranian media constantly run shows that purport to prove that 9/11 was an American or Jewish conspiracy. Freedom House has a page on their website with paper after paper documenting the hate that is regularly taught in Saudi and other Middle Eastern schools. On and on it goes.

Now I realize that not all Christian teaching has been nice. But say what you will about Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell, it is stretching things to say that they teach hate. And I am aware of no outbreak of terrorism carried out in the name of Christianity.

Where are the Moderates?

To be sure, there are some who are fighting the good fight within Islam.

In July of 2005 the Fiqh Council of North America issued a Fatwa against terrorism and religious extremism. Mansoor Ijaz is a voice of reason, in addition to being an informed commentators on foreign affairs in his own right. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, chased out of Holland on an insignificant immigration charge, has taken a positon at the American Enterprise Institute, where we can look forward to her astute analysis of the problem within Islam.

But let's face it, these are lonely voices, struggling to be heard above the din. Groups like CAIR, which has been linked to terrorism, and who can't stand criticism of itself, get the news coverage and are feted by the White House.

The Western Response

The response in the West has generally been pitiful.

Douglas Murray is a scholar who went to Holland last February to speak at a conference on Islam in Europe, and wrote about it in an article that appeared in the Telegraph. The threat to conference speakers from Islamic terrorists was so high that they were asked by hotel staff if they wanted to register under false names. The police provided a personal security detail for everyone. Murray had a guard outside his hotel room door.

The event itself was orderly and debate was conducted in scholarly fashion. But Murray goes on about the situation in Holland and the rest of Europe

All across Europe, debate on Islam is being stopped. Italy’s greatest living writer, Oriana Fallaci, soon comes up for trial in her home country, and in Britain the government seems intent on pushing through laws that would make truths about Islam and the conduct of its followers impossible to voice.

Those of us who write and talk on Islam thus get caught between those on our own side who are increasingly keen to prosecute and increasing numbers of militants threatening murder. In this situation, not only is free speech being shut down, but our nation’s security is being compromised.

Since the assassinations of Fortuyn and, in 2004, the film maker Theo van Gogh, numerous public figures in Holland have received death threats and routine intimidation. The heroic Somali-born Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her equally outspoken colleague Geert Wilders live under constant police protection, often forced to sleep on army bases. Even university professors are under protection.

Europe is shuffling into darkness. It is proving incapable of standing up to its enemies, and in an effort to accommodate the peripheral rights of a minority is failing to protect the most basic rights of its own people.

If you don't believe that debate is being stopped, consider that Belgian authorities have harassed a blog, The Brussels Journal, for alleged "hate speech", and have threatened to shut it down. Whether you agree with what the print at there or not, this is a violation of freedom of speech in the name of political correctness plain and simple.

Why is "debate being stopped"? If you really don't know, consider the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah. How did many in the West respond? Victor Davis Hanson provided a cogent answer

These past few days the inability of millions of Westerners, both here and in Europe, to condemn fascist terrorists who start wars, spread racial hatred, and despise Western democracies is the real story, not the “quarter-ton” Israeli bombs that inadvertently hit civilians in Lebanon who live among rocket launchers that send missiles into Israeli cities and suburbs.

Some say that we should try and understand Muslims, especially those who have immigrated to the West. "Tolerance" "diversity", and "multiculturalism" are their watchwords. No country typifies these attitudes as modern day Great Britain. After reviewing yet another poll of Muslims which showed that "Muslim attitudes in Britain more resembled public opinion in Islamic countries in the Middle East and Asia than elsewhere in Europe", Melanie Phillips commented

So much for appeasement! The result of Britain being nicer to Muslims than anyone else in Europe and beating its collective breast about ‘Islamophobia’ has meant that they hate us more. Or to put it another way, Muslims hate their host countries less the more ‘Islamophobic’ they are.

The situation in the United States is not nearly as dire, but that is not for lack of trying. We should take heed from what is happening in Europe and make sure that we do not follow suit.

But the real problem is within Islam, and until it undergoes fundamental reform we are going to have problems.

Posted by Tom at 11:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Nature of our Enemy, Part I

Who exactly are we fighting in this war, and why is our enemy so upset at us?

By "this war", I refer not to Iraq, but to what is called the "War on Terror."

Generally speaking, there are two schools of thought on the matter. One side says that we are at war with "Islamofascism", or Islamic radicalism, or Islamism, or jihad, call it what you will. The other side says that we are fighting people who are against various US policies. They fight us because they have a specific greviance.

Richard Fernandez has a typically insightful post at The Belmont Club titled "The Elusive War" in which he compares and contrasts the two views. He posts two articles, suggested to him by a reader, each of which typifies one of the sides.

First up is Michael Ledeen of National Review, who lays out his views in "The Real War". The war is not, he says, a series of small battles. If Israel had killed every last Hezbollah terrorist, if we won every battle in Afghanistan and Iraq, "we will only prolong the fighting." Rather, we are at war with Syria and Iran, and the ideologies that drive both of them. Money quote

The terror masters in Syria and Iran are waging a regional war against us, running from Afghanistan and Iraq to, Gaza, Israel, and Lebanon. Alongside the ground war in the Middle East, they are conducting fifth-column operations against us from Europe to India and on to Indonesia, Australia, and the United States; the plot just dismantled in Great Britain provides the latest evidence.

On the other side we have Max Hastings writing in The Guardian a piece titled "Bush's belief in a worldwide Islamist conspiracy is foolish and dangerous." He accepts that "we face a real threat from Muslim fundamentalists", but it is what has caused the threat that separates him from Ledeen. Here, in a nutshell, is his argument.

There is no chance that the west will get anywhere with the Muslim world until the US government is willing to disassemble a spread of grievances in widely diverse societies, examine them as separate components, and treat each on its merits.
I'm going to state my conclusion up front; I agree with Ledeen, and indeed would go even farther than he. While I am glad that Mr Hastings believes that we are threatened (a plus these days), I think he is completely wrong in his analysis. Richard Fernanez points out one obvious flaw in Hastings' argument
Max Hasting's striking phrase "yet we shall defeat them only when our Muslim community at large perceives that its interests are identified with Britain's polity" is as clever a case for surrender as I've ever heard
.

Why I Don't Buy Max Hastings' Argument

First, let me deal with Max Hastings.

One reason why I don't buy the "legitimate greviance" argument is that the terrorism inflicted on us does not always correlate to any known grevience. Just two weeks ago two suitcase bombs were found on trains in Germany. The bombs "may be traceable to the Middle East", big surprise. Thankfully they were found before they went off. But what has Germany done to deserve Islamic terror? They did not participate in the invasion of Iraq, and indeed have opposed US policy at every turn since.

This past June a huge Islamic terrorist plot was foiled in Canada. The plot, which involved both bombs and the kidnapping of the Canadian prime minister, was against soley Canadian targets. Again, Canada did not participate in the invasion of Iraq, and most of it's newspapers, to say nothing of it's leaders, have spent a lot of time denouncing this or that American policy.

Further, if it's not one grievance it's another. Victor Davis Hanson goes through the "excuse after excuse" offered by the Muslims and their apologists. One time it was that we were "stealing their oil", then prices jumped to $75 per barrel. Another day it's American troops in Saudi Arabia. But, er, they're mostly gone now. Then it's aid to Israel. But Europe and the US give considerable amounts aid to the Palestinian Authority. StrategyPage takes a look at the history of Islamic terrorism, and concludes that "ruthless men have been using Islamic radicalism to create terrorists for a long time" and that "historically, a noticeable increase in violence by Islamic radicals occurred every three or four generations."

Lastly, there is is simply too long a history of anti-semitism among prominent Muslim leaders to believe that their grevience against Israel is simply based on land. Jonah Goldberg relates how the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Husseini, made Nazi-like statements in 1942, well before the establishment of Israel or even the post-war influx of Jews into the area.

Also Not the Problem

"Islam" is not the problem. If it were, the war would be unwinnable. You simply cannot, and should not, attempt to destroy an entire religion.

Further, from what I see, the problem is in how the religion is taught in many places, and how it is used to promote violence and hatred. I'm not going to get into an analysis of the Koran, and don't think it necessary.

It is true, I think, that some religions lend themselves to fitting into the modern world better than others. Our Western models of democracy, secularism, and tolerance (true tolerance, not what the left teaches) are unimaginable without Christianity and other Western models of thought. It is very difficult to imagine these things rising out of Islam. But that does not mean that Islam and these things are incompatible. It simply means that they could not have been spawned or developed by the Muslim world. It does not mean that Muslims cannot adopt them.

What is "Islamofascism"?

A much better description of our enemy, and one that also tells us why they hate us, is "Islamofascism". The term, according to Roger Scruton, originated with Maxine Rodinson (1915-2004) "to describe the Iranian Revolution of 1978." President Bush recently referred to our enemy as "Islamic fascists", which caught him as much grief as Ronald Reagan's use of the term "evil empire", which tells me he is on to something.

Stephen Schwartz, writing in The Weekly Standard, offers a helpful definition

In my analysis, as originally put in print directly after the horror of September 11, 2001, Islamofascism refers to use of the faith of Islam as a cover for totalitarian ideology. This radical phenomenon is embodied among Sunni Muslims today by such fundamentalists as the Saudi-financed Wahhabis, the Pakistani jihadists known as Jama'atis, and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. In the ranks of Shia Muslims, it is exemplified by Hezbollah in Lebanon and the clique around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.

"Fascism", he says, " is distinguished from the broader category of extreme right-wing politics by its willingness to defy public civility and openly violate the law." This is precisely what the terrorists we are fighting do.

This said, "fascism" is still a very elusive term. Jonah Goldberg points out that "there’s still no accepted definition of fascism among students of the phenomenon. " Everyone uses it, but I've read a hundred definitions and still can't tell you exactly what it means.

Be that as it may, since "fascism" is something that everyone is against, it is as good a term as any.

Next up: A Problem In Islam

Posted by Tom at 8:20 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 19, 2006

Super Tuesday?

Let's hope this coming Tuesday, August 22, passes with little news, but I and many others believe that someting big may be in the offing. Bernard Lewis, professor emeritus at Princeton and Middle East scholar, tells us why in a piece that was published last week in the Wall Street Journal

This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind.

Most elites in the West, and indeed most Westerners, I think, have trouble accepting the idea that a national leader would use a religous event to provoke a cataclysmic event. It seems like something out of the Middle Ages.

But the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is no ordinary fellow. He takes his religion seriously. Very seriously.

David Pryce-Jones, in the May 8 2006 print edition of National Review (digital subsctiption required), quotes Ahmadinejad on the purpose of his government, and provides an, er, illuminating detail.

“Our revolution’s main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi.” In the middle of the 10th century, this imam went into hiding, supposedly in a well in Jamkaran, south of Tehran, but it is an article of Shiite faith that he will return and herald the End of Days. Ahmadinejad and his cabinet signed a petition to the hidden imam, proceeded to Jamkaran, and threw it down the well for his attention

"He did what?" I said to myself the first time I read that. It's the type of thing that must be read a few times before the significance sinks in. And then you realize; there are people who actually think we can negotiate this man out of obtaining nuclear weapons. I don't think so.

Just for the record, yes I know that Christian pastors will talk about end times, and will even say "the end is near." I know because I hear this on Sundays. The difference is that the pastors say this because they're trying to get people to change their ways before it's too late, and they don't tell the parishoners to go quit their jobs and sit at home to await the rapture.

Now read what Pryce-Jones tells us about a speach he gave at the UN:

Similarly unself-conscious, he claimed that while speaking at the United Nations “I became surrounded by a green light,” so that for 27 to 28 minutes all the attentive listeners did not blink — the chronological exactitude is a touch a thriller writer might envy. And he closed that speech by urging God to “hasten the emergence of Your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the one who will fill the world with justice and peace.”

The color green, if you didn't know, is the color of Islam.

Further, all this is not just theological musing by Ahmadinejad. According to Joel Rosenberg in an article at NRO,

Ahmadinejad is telling colleagues in Tehran that he believes the end of the world is rapidly approaching. He also believes that the way to hasten the coming of the Islamic Messiah known as the “Hidden Imam” or the “Mahdi” is to launch a catastrophic global jihad, first against Israel (the “little Satan”) and then against the U.S. (the “Great Satan”).

Now do you understand why Bernard Lewis isn't crazy when he told us we better pay attention on Tuesday August 22?

What Might Happen?

One thing that might not happen is that 10 airliners dont' get blown out of the sky. Some commentators, such as Michael Ledeen, think that the airline plot was supposed to happen on August 22. Of course, it might still. The one thing about playing defense is that you never know if you've stopped all of the plots. I just hope that security people take extra precautions next week.

Iran has said that they will respond to our demand that they cease production of nuclear fuel on Tuesday August 22. So on the "lite" end of the spectrum, maybe they're just going to tell us to bugger off that day.

The other end of possibilites, the "heavy" end, looks much more dire. While it is unlikely that Iran has nuclear weapons, North Korea almost certainly does. While there is no formal alliance between them, the two countries are united in their hatred of the West in general and the United States in particular. We would be foolish to discount the possibility of cooperation. It is rumored that a North Korea nuclear test could be very near, perhaps imminent. Steve Schippert of ThreatsWatch speculates that a strong possibility therefore, is that the DPRK lites one off on Tuesday.

Iran, for it's part, has just started major military maneuvers. Schippert takes all of this into account and throws out one possibility

One speculation – taking the events and forcing them into the same context – would interpret the Iranian exercises as an actual perimeter defense deployment ahead of events known by Iran and expected to be perceived as provocative. That event could potentially be an Iranian rejection of the nuclear proposal simultaneous with a nuclear demonstration by their chief technology proliferation partner, North Korea.

The two countries might even announce some sort of formal alliance, or defensive treaty. We would do well to remember that the Tripartite Pact ("Axis Pact") between Germany, Japan, and Italy, was defensive in nature, only obligating the powers to come to each other's aid if they were attacked by an outside power.

So I don't know about you, but I'm going to pay extra close attention to the news this Tuesday. And I'm not flying anywhere.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Reasons for Hope Amid Despair

Some of my recent posts have been pretty pessimistic, and while sometimes that's needed, it's also never a good thing to wallow in despair. No situation is so bad that it cannot be salvaged, and so despite out current troubles there is hope.

First up, is the media. Victor Davis Hanson in "Hope Amid Despair" points out, for example, that if there was ever any doubt that much of the media was helping the terrorists (unwittingly or otherwise), they are now completely discredited.

The globalized media is absolutely discredited after the coverage of Lebanon. Reuters has destroyed its reputation, gained from 150 years of world reporting, by releasing doctored pictures and tolerating staged photo-ops. Almost all the Western media outlets failed to distinguish Lebanese civilian from military casualties — as if the Hezbollah terrorists they never filmed and never interviewed never died.
Indeed, thanks to the unprofessional reporters abroad, and their disingenuous chiefs back home, the world never saw the killers who sent the rockets nor many of their civilian victims on the ground in Israel. Nor did the reporters apprise their audience of the different landscapes in which they worked: candor in Israel might win loud disagreement; truth in Lebanon meant death. It would be as if Reuters, AP, or the New York Times embedded its reporters within the Waffen SS, beaming daily reports back home about the great morale and noble suffering of the Wehrmacht as it advanced into the snowy Ardennes.

Next, up are Iran and Syria

Iran and Syria unleashed Hezbollah because they were both facing global scrutiny, one over nuclear acquisition and the other over the assassination of Lebanese reformer Rafik Hariri. Those problems won’t go away for either of them — nor, if we persist, will the democratic fervor in Afghanistan and Iraq on their borders.

Let't also not forget that Israel did significant damage to Hezbollah. The latter may have claimed victory, but it's not as if they are still the fighting force they were a month ago.


We still don’t know the extent of the damage that Hezbollah suffered, but it perhaps took casualties ten times the Israelis’ — losses — not to be dismissed even in the asymmetrical laws of postmodern warfare. Hezbollah’s leaders were hiding in embassies and bunkers; Israel’s were not. For all the newfound magnetism of Nasrallah, he brought ruin to his flock, and fright to the Arab establishment around Israel.

Further, the war may have simply taught Israel how to do it right next time. When the ceasefire proves to be a fraud, for surely it will, won't it reveal the impotence of the UN and those who always drone on about "international solutions"?

A surprised Israel now has a good glimpse of the terrorists’ new way of war, and probably next time will attack the supplier, not the launcher, of the rocketry. And when the Reuters stringers go away, the “civilians” of southern Lebanon, off-camera, might not be so eager to see more real fireworks lighting up their skies — or far-off, pristine Syria and Iran in safety praising the courage of the ruined amid the rubble. Note how Hezbollah already is desperately racing around the craters to assure its homeless constituency that it has enough Iranian cash to buy back lost sympathies.

Even the ceasefire can come back to bite the Islamists and their supporters. Hezbollah won’t be disarmed as promised, much less stay out of Katyusha range of the border. And that defiance will only reveal the impotence of the Lebanese and the U.N., reminding both that they have talked themselves into a corner and now are responsible to keep caged their own pet 7th-century vipers. This can only work to Israel’s favor when the next rockets go off, since no one then will be proposing an “international” solution — although it will be interesting to see whether Jacques Chirac talks of the “nuclear” option once his soldiers begin to be picked off by Hezbollah

Lastly, the London airplane bomb plot proved the fallacy of dealing with domestic Muslim extremists through "multiculturalism" once and for all. To this I would also add the terrorist plot in Canada revealed a few months ago. Both countries worshiped at the altars of "tolerance", "diversity" and "multiculturism", and all it got them was hatred and bombs.

In a larger sense, the foiled London terrorist plot won’t endear either Islamists or their appeasers to millions in the world who face travel delays, cancelled flights, and body searches — on top of paying billions more to the Arab oil producers who in response whine even more in their victimhood.

In the light of recent developments in the Middle East, this might not seem like much. Those who are blind to the threat of Muslim extremism because of their hatred of George W Bush or Tony Blair will not change. We see this in their chortling over their "victory" in court over the Terrorist Survelience Program. But perhaps the average citizen has learned a bit this past month, and, as Hanson says, " that is a sort of progress after all."

Posted by Tom at 12:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 17, 2006

Let's Get Back to Being Feared

Niccolò Machiavelli wrote The Prince to instruct a, well, prince, in the art of diplomacy and foreign affairs. From the Wikipedia entry

In answering the question of whether it is better to be loved than feared, Machiavelli writes, “The answer is of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.” As Machiavelli asserts, commitments made in peace are not always kept in adversity, however commitments made in fear are kept out of fear. However, a prince must ensure that he is not feared to the point of hatred, which is very possible.

In the time between our invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, until it became clear in mid 2003 that the insurgency in Iraq was real and wasn't going away anytime soon, we were feared. More specifically, President Bush was feared.

Being hated was to some degree ok, as long as we were feared. During this time it appeared that we had shaken off the lethargy of the 80s and 90s whereby we let innumerable terrorist attacks go unpunished. Now, by heavens, we were going to use our military might. If the Europeans wanted to come along, fine. If not, so be it. We have the power to "go it alone" if need be, anyone who doesn't like it can get stuffed.

Today we are not feared. We are only hated. I was thinking abou this today, and was going to write about it, when I happened upon an editorial by Gerard Baker that appears in tomorrows London Times in which he says what I was thinking (hat tip NRO)

You (President Bush) invaded Iraq because you argued you would be able to bring about a peaceful, democratic society in the heart of the Arab world, a step vital to the eradication of modern terrorism. Many of us supported the project because we believed the stakes were so high that you would not stint in committing the resources necessary to achieve it.

But you tried to do it on the cheap. If many of us miscalculated the scale of the threat Iraq posed, there was no excuse for the woeful lack of preparation by your Administration for the task of pacifying the country.

The outcome? A broken nation on the verge of civil war, prey to the avarice of tyrannical regional neighbours, violently immolating itself and nurturing new generations of terrorists.

Ouch. But not necessarily inaccurate.

You supported and perhaps even encouraged Israel to invade Lebanon last month, after repeated provocations by terrorists. The aim — a good one in principle — was to crush Hezbollah, weaken its Syrian and Iranian sponsors and put Lebanon on a path to long-term, terror-free stability. But when the largely aerial campaign predictably failed and equally predictably led to the world’s media reaching their one-sided conclusion about Israel’s “aggression” , you quickly backtracked. You encouraged Israel to accept a ceasefire that amounts to the country’s most serious defeat in its 57-year history.

The result? A strengthened Hezbollah and a new Arab hero, Sheikh Hassan Nasrullah; a reprieve for the beleaguered Assad regime in Damascus and a further fillip to Iranian ambitions; a strategic setback for Israel and the condemnation of Lebanon tragically to replay the turmoil of the 1980s.

Not entirely our fault here, Israel is partially to blame. But when it happens on your watch....

You rightly identified Iran as the gravest threat to the West’s long-term security and you pledged to bend US policy to ensure that it did not gain the regional hegemony that would allow it to blackmail the world into acquiescence of its hateful ideology. Above all, Iran would be stopped from getting the bomb.

The result? The despised regime in Tehran has emerged as the true hegemonic power in the region, leeching on the battered bodies politic of Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, elevating its brand of Shia fundamentalism into position as the dominant force in the Islamic world and continuing on its path towards nuclear status.

Yup. We're headed for a showdown with Iran, but it probably won't happen for a few years. As Henry Sokolski illustrates in an article that appeared today in National Review, our approach is all carrots and no sticks. How long before we finally learn that won't work?

Going it (mostly) alone is fine, Baker argues, if you are agressive and tough and stay that way. But somewhere along the line we got cold feet. We chickened out. Ours was a risky strategy, one that certainly was going to alienate much of the world. But again, that would have been ok if we had been tough and hadn't tried to do it on the cheap.

Now we have the worst of all worlds. Not only is the US despised around the globe, it can’t even make its supposed hegemony work.

It’s one thing to be seen as the bully in the schoolyard; it’s quite another when people realise the bully is actually incapable of getting anybody else to do what he wants. It’s unpleasant when people stop respecting you, but it’s positively terrifying when they stop fearing you.

What we have now is a situation in which the world’s only superpower, with the largest economic and military advantage any country has ever enjoyed on Earth, is pinned down like Gulliver, tormented by an army of fundamentalist Lilliputians.

So can Bush get us back on track? Unfortunately, I doubt it. He's out of political capital, and his administration is curiously lethargic about our current situation. A few weeks ago I wrote that it seemed like it was 1938, with Iran playing the role of Germany. I still think that valid, but the difference is that there is no Churchill on the horizon to save us.

Let's get back to being feared.

Posted by Tom at 11:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jimmy Carter Does It Again

Many of you will have read or heard of this by now, but it bears repeating. Ex-President Jimmy Carter gave an interview to Spiegel in which he reveals why he was only a one-term president. Ok, not intentionally, but that's how it came out.

I'm not going to spend much time going after him, because it 's too easy, and readers should follow the link to get mad themselves. Don't worry, you won't have to read very far. But here are a few parts of the interview that struck me as particularly outrageous

SPIEGEL: But wasn't Israel the first to get attacked?

Carter: I don't think that Israel has any legal or moral justification for their massive bombing of the entire nation of Lebanon. What happened is that Israel is holding almost 10,000 prisoners, so when the militants in Lebanon or in Gaza take one or two soldiers, Israel looks upon this as a justification for an attack on the civilian population of Lebanon and Gaza. I do not think that's justified, no.

"massive bombing"? Compared to what? Dresden, Tokyo, Linebacker II? We bombed Baghdad more during the Gulf War. Oh wait, he was against that one too.

"entire nation of Lebanon" Oh Lordy.

And lastly there's the appeal to "proportion"; Hezbollah, described by jimma as "militants", only took two soldiers, so the Israeli counterattack was unjustified. By this logic we had no right to demand the unconditional surrender of Japan over Pearl Harbor.

There is so much more in the interview that I could spend all day on it.

Carter's Weakness Emboldened Iran

We could write off the Spiegel interview as the rantings of another deluded leftie, but this leftie is partially responsible for our current mess in the Middle East.

By failing to respond forcefully to the kidnapping of our diplomats by the Iranian "students", Carter essentially told would-be terrorists everywhere that we can be humiliated. Amir Taheri elaborates in a story


In a sense the Nov. 4, 1979 attack on the US Embassy in Tehran could be regarded as the opening scene of a long drama that reached its catharsis on Sept. 11, 2001.

Here is why....

As days passed, with the American diplomats paraded in front of television cameras blindfolded and threatened with execution, it became increasingly clear that there would be no “thunder and lightning” from Washington. By the end of the first week of the drama, that was to last for 444 days and ended the day Ronald Reagan entered the White House, Khomeini’s view of the United States had changed.

Ahmad Khomeini’s memoirs echo the surprise that his father, the ayatollah, showed, as the Carter administration behaved “like a headless chicken.”

What especially surprised Khomeini was that Cater and his aides, notably Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, rather than condemning the seizure and the treatment of the hostages as a barbarous act, appeared apologetic for unspecified mistakes supposedly committed by the US and asked for forgiveness and magnanimity.

Once he had concluded that the US would not take any meaningful action against his regime, Khomeini took over control of the hostages’ enterprise and used it as a means of propping his “anti-imperialist” credentials while outflanking the left.

The surprising show of weakness from Washington also encouraged the mullas and the hostage-holders to come up with a fresh demand each day

The slogan "Death to America" was used for the first time during the hostage crisis, and has been with us ever since. Another, perhaps less known one, is “America cannot do a damn thing” , which was also used for this first time during the crisis.

Taheri sums up


For 22 years the United States, under presidents from both parties, behaved in exactly the way that Khomeini predicted. It took countless successive blows, including the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York, without decisive retaliation. That attitude invited, indeed encouraged, more attacks. The 9/11 tragedy was the denouement of the Nov. 4 attack on the US Embassy in Tehran.

Thank you, Mr Carter.


Posted by Tom at 9:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 15, 2006

Losing the War

If we're not losing the war, then we're certainly not making any progress. I refer not to Iraq in particular, or Lebanon, or even the recent war in Lebanon, but to the entire war. Although the term "War on Terror" is used most often, it's really a war on Islamic fascism, Islamic fanaticism, or jihad, as you prefer. Whatever term we use, we're fighting those people who are motivated by Islam to kill other people, specifically Westerners, but more generally anyone who disagrees with them.

Let's cut to the chase; we're in danger of Iraq becoming a failed state, Israel failed to destroy Hezbollah and we failed Israel by agreeing to a cease-fire. Iran and Syria are emboldened and are encouraged by recent events to spread more terror, and Islamofascists have taken over Somalia. Political correctness at home and in Europe prevents far too many people from seeing the danger from unassimilated Muslim immigrants. The Democrats stand poised to take over the House and maybe the Senate, and if they get the former they'll start impeachment hearings, and if they get the latter may toss the president from office. At the very least they will try and force a withdrawal from Iraq, and will wreck our most valuable internal security and terrorist-finding intelligence operations.

Bad enough for you?

Let's get more specific.

Hezbollah and Lebanon

On the one hand, Israel didn't lose, it simply failed to win. The strategic situation between it and Hezbollah is largely unchanged. Israel destroyed much of Hezbollah at little loss to itself. In that sense, Israel is better off than it was one month ago. Further, no one can now deny that Iran and Syria were behind Hezbollah. For example, IDF forces found Russian-made AT-5 Spandrel anti-tank missiles in Lebanon that had been shipped there by Syria and Iran.

On the other side, Hezbollah's prestige went up, and the mere fact that it survived serves as an recruitment tool for Islamic terrorist groups everywhere. IDF generals believe that they were denied victory by panicked politicians. More importantly, Hezbollah rocket attacks continued until the end, and in any event it is unlikely that the terrorist organization will actually disarm. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's popularity is falling, as may his government.

An Unstable Iraq

No I am not saying that we've lost in Iraq. We can still pull it out. And what's going on there is not "civil war", as James Dunnigan of StrategyPage once again points out. But it is, he says " the prelude to massacre and mass expulsion", which is just as bad.

Althogh we may have gone into Iraq initially because of WMD, it is now and has been for some time part of the war on Islamic fascism, whether anyone likes it or not.

Either way, when Rich Lowry writes in National Review that we stand a very real chance of losing in Iraq, you better pay attention.

Iran and Syria

Iran has been at war with the United States since 1979, a fact that we as a nation refuse to acknowledge. Never once have we struck Iran, for all the times it has attacked us through it's proxies, most recently of course in Iraq and Lebanon. We should not wonder that they consider us to be a paper tiger.

Ahmadinejad is the ever confident leader, convinced that he is winning. Not only doesIran spurn Western demands that they stop nuclear enrichment, their top nuclear negotiator said earlier this month "that Iran will expand — not suspend — uranium enrichment activities".

Yet Western liberals will continue to insist that with the right package of enticements Iran can be made to see reason. Just last week on the Sean Hannity radio show, I listened to a debate between David Horowitz and someone from The Nation who proposed just that. Stanley Kurtz sees a President Hillary trying to buy off the Iranians with a “grand bargain.”

This is madness. We are headed towards a showdown with Iran that will likely end in war, possibly nuclear.

Latin America

Although obviously not Islamic fascists themselves, leaders such as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia seem intent on allying themselves with the terrorists. They're currently able to run around making trouble without much intervention on our part.

Although Fidel Castro may die shortly, it is possible through Venezuelan influence, that the communists on Cuba may be able to keep power longer than many here think. Either way, Chavez will seek to complicate our plans to being democracy to the island.

Our "Episodic" Fighting

Rush Limbaugh said today that our fighting in this war is "episodic." He was making the point that we lack strategic vision. The West, specifically the US and Israel, fight piecemeal, one place at a time. We refuse to see that it is a wider war that encompases many areas of the world. For example, we fight hard in Iraq, yet seemingly refuse to recognize that it will be extremely difficult to succedd there unless we get regime change in Iran and Syria.

As I mentioned earlier, we can't even call the war what it is; a war on Islamic fanaticism or fascism. We use "War on Terror" because we know that CAIR and similar groups won't object. Politicians live in fear of being labeled "racist" by the media.

The Democrats

The GOP will most likely lose at least the House in November, possibly the Senate as well. If the Democrats capture the House, impeachment hearings are a certainty. This will put a halt to the war as the administration and country will be distracted.

We have seen how the Democrats couldn't care less about the threat of Islamo-fascism. On domestic policy they are infected with the troika of multiculturalism, tolerance, and diversity, and in foreign affairs they will not adopt any policy unless most European governments agree with it. At the very least this handicaps our war effort with a "lowest common denominator", at worst it means appeasement of terrorist states like Iran and Syria and a complete end to the war.

The Democrats are reverting to the party of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter. Far from being a help in the war, they oppose the very policies that made the exposure of the British airline plot possible.

Korea, 1952

By 1952 Korea looked like a war gong bad. After a disasterous start, we regained our composure, and through a daring amphibious attack at Inchon we destroyed the North Korean Army. As we pushed north, it looked like we had won. But then we were caught completely by surprise by massive Chinese forces, which streamed across the border, dealing us a series of severe defeats. Although we managed to stabilize the situation, we seemed trapped in World War I style trench warfare.

President Truman faced severe criticism at home for his conduct of the war. His popularity plummeted, and he decided not to seek another term.

Yet today Truman is considered one of our greatest presidents. My point here is not to speculate on how George W Bush is considered in the future, but rather that we must not let the trees obsure our view of the forest.

The Korean War was the first "hot" conflict in a Cold War that lasted over 40 years. Our ventures in Afganistan and Iraq, as well as Israel's war with Hezbollah, are the "Korean Wars" of today. They are the first battles in what is going to be a long war.

And no, I don't think that promoting democracy is the problem. In this I agree with Steven A. Cook, who wrote an excellent editorial promoting just that view in the Washington Post last week. Rather, I agree with Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester (UK), when he wrote an editorial in the Telegraph titled "multiculturalism is to blame for perverting young Muslims"

Just as with the Cold War, and all other wars too for that matter, there will be ups and downs. We are definately in a "down" time now. Things are likely to get worse before they get better. In retrospect, the Cold War seems so simple.

Posted by Tom at 10:26 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 14, 2006

VJ Day

Today marks the 61st anniversary of Victory over Japan Day. It's a day worth marking and remembering. From Wikipedia

August 15, 1945, marked Victory over Japan Day or V-J Day, taking a name similar to Victory in Europe Day, which was generally known as V-E Day. In Japan, the day is known as, Shusen-kinenbi, which literally means the "Memorial day for the end of the war". The day marks the end of the Burma Campaign, the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Pacific War with the U.S., and other military conflicts in Asia. This is commemorated as Liberation Day in nations such as Korea, partly due to participation of her exiles in War against Japan over 40 years. See Surrender of Japan for historical circumstances surrounding Japan's surrender.

At noon Japan standard time on that day, Emperor Hirohito's announcement of Japan's acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration was broadcast to the Japanese people via radio. Earlier the same day, the Japanese government advised the Allies of the surrender by sending a cable to U.S. President Harry S. Truman via the Swiss diplomatic mission in Washington.

Since Japan was the last Axis Power to surrender and V-J Day followed V-E Day by three months, V-J Day marked the end of World War II.

Never forget

Posted by Tom at 8:29 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 12, 2006

Countering the A.N.S.W.E.R. "Stop the US-Israeli War" Protest

Yesterday I went into Washington DC to join my fellow Free Republic and Protest Warrior friends to counter International A.N.S.W.E.R.'s "Stop the US-Israeli War" protest rally and march. It was a very interesting day as these things go, and a complete report and photographs follow.

In case you are not aware, A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) is a front group for the Workers World Party. We know it is a front group because many of A.N.S.W.E.R.'s organizers, and many speakers at it's rallies, are WWP members. David Horowitz has a complete profile of them at his DiscoverTheNetwork site.

Among The Commies

A.N.S.W.E.R.'s plan was to hold a rally at Lafayette Park, which is right next to the White House, and then march down Pennsylvania Avenue, which is again next to the White House. They would continue down 15th Street, make a few turns and essentially circle the White House, ending up in Lafayette Park again where they would close out. Their rally at the park was scheduled to start at noon.

The plan for Free Republic was that we were going to meet in the south corner of Lafayette Park where it is separated by a fence from the White House. We would use our "HUMAN SHIELD" signs, just as we did when we "shielded" the Danish Embassy from a radical muslim group this past February.

I got their early, at about 10:15 or so, where I ran into three other "Freepers" (Free Republic) Maybe 200 leftists had already gathered in the park and were milling about. Since the people with our signs had not arrived yet, I decided to have a look about while my frields waited under a tree.

IM000430.JPG

He showed me a copy of his newspaper, The Militant. One of the articles as about Iran, so I asked him his position on it. He told me that we needed to leave them alone, because all they wanted was nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. I asked him if it was ok then if we had nuclear energy here in the US, and, perhaps realizing the trap, quickly said that he wasn't judging what they were doing but that it was their decision and we should leave them alone. After a few minutes of this I thanked him and moved on.

Here are some books that another guy had laid out for sale

IM000432.JPG

Here's the stage they had set up, and then some of the commies as they milled about. Among all this were some tourists, who had a what in the world did I wanter into? look on their faces.

IM000428.JPG


IM000434.JPG

The organizers had their signs stacked and ready to go. They even had a big "check in" station for the volunteers. They were nothing if not organized, I'll give them that.

IM000434.JPG

After wandering around for a bit, I rejoined my group. However, the police had noticed us. One of our group was carrying an American flag and wearing an NRA hat. Those people don't belong here. "Sorrry, but A.N.S.W.E.R. has a permit for the entire park" they told us, "you'll have to leave." They escorded us out.

Reorganization and The 2nd Boot

I made a few phone calls to the Freepers who hadn't shown up yet and we decided on a new strategy. My group would try and meet up with the Protest Warriors, while Kristinn (the Free Republic leader and guy with our signs) and his group would try and enter Lafayette Park from the other side.

We circled south, making our way around the White House. We met up with some of the Protest Warrors and found out where they were setting up. We then went back up to Lafayette Park to see if we could find Kristinn and his group.

As it was, we got there just as they were being booted. No big deal, he said, "we had some good debate with the leftists". That there were plenty of police around while this was going on was not doubt reassuring to him, I thought.

Getting Ready for the March

We rejoined the Protest Warriors at 15th and Pennsylvania, where they had the permit for our counter-demonstration. The police officers were already there, and after "checking in" with them we set up camp. There were just over 30 of us. As is the usual practice at these events, the police set up a tape that we had to stand behind. They made sure the marchers kept on the street and we had to stay behind the tape. Which was all very fair.

IM000450.JPG


Here are some of the commie signs that one of our number obtained from one of the stacks in the photos at top.

IM000453.JPG


IM000456.JPG

Here I am, ready for action. Behind me you can see several flags, at left the American, middle Israeli, and at right a Christian one. "These'll drive them crazy" the guy who set them up said with a grin. He was right about that.

IM000468.JPG


"Hezbos", btw, is how Rush Limbaugh refers to Hezbollah.

The Tourists

While we waited, tourists and other people wandered about, looking around at us and some of the commie protesters who were just arriving and making their way to Lafayette Park. Most eyed each group and just walked on, not giving any clue as to their sympathies. But we got quite a few "thumbs up", or other indications that we're on your side. It was also obvious who got the "Hezbos" reference.

But in all this I did meet and briefly speak to a few of the tourists.

The most interesting were two young Israeli men, maybe 25 or 30 yrs old. They had thick accents but I could understand them fine. "They don't know, they are ignorant", one of them said, referring to the A.N.S.W.E.R. people. They were from Haifa, one of the northern cities under rocket attack. "How are things there?" I asked. About 20% of the people in the city had left their homes, they said. How about the war, I asked. "We will win", on of them said with a confident look and smile before they were on their way.

I also met an Australian couple, another from Italy, and even a lady from France, all of whom expressed support for our side and thanked us for what we were doing. In turn, I thanked them for their country's support in the war on terror (I thanked the French lady for their help in Afghanistan, which has been considerable).

The Marchers Arrive

At about 2:00 the marchers came down the street and walked past us. Many were decidedly unhappy with our presence, evidenly surprised that they would not have the day to themselves. Which was the whole point of our presence.

The flag with two red stripes and a cypress tree in the middle is the flag of Lebanon. The one with a black, white and green stripe and red arrow near the flagpole is that of the Palestinian Authority.

IM000471.JPG

"No Justice No Peace", a fairly standard slogan and leftist marches

IM000474.JPG

IM000484.JPG


As I mentioned, some of them got very angry with us

Note the "Hands off Cuba" sign. Leftists are great for their mixed messages at these events

IM000490.JPG

Our Chants

Because it was too loud for any one voice to be heard, we would all chant in unison something at them as they went by:

Free Lebanon from Hezbollah!

USA! USA! USA!

Please, Don't, Blow Us Up!

No More Hezbollah!

Shame, Shame, Shame On You!

Iran, Syria, Out of Lebanon!


I coundn't understand most of their chants as most seemed partially in Arabic or something. But I did get a few

Stop Bombing Lebanon!

Long Live Hezbollah!

ConcreteBob, the leader of the Protest Warriors, had the foresight to bring a bullhorn, which he used to great effect

IM000505.JPG

As you can tell, many of the marchers were Arabic in appearance. This guy had on a shirt with the flag of Hezbollah on it

IM000496.JPG


The march ended at about 2:45. I may not have the start time of 2:00 exactly right, as I forgot to check my watch when they first came by and so had to ask someone what time it all started.

The Coffins

After it was all over and we had cleaned up our area, I walked back up 15th to a metro stop. This took us past Lafayette Park again, where I could see that they had reassembled.

We walked up another block or so, where to my left I saw this


Coffins!

This was a favorite of the hard left. Code Pink did this once ourside Walter Reed Army Medical Center, before the arrival of Free Republic shamed them into adopting less obnoxious tactics.

IM000518.JPG

Around the next corner we took a left towards the subway station. We caught the end of their procession. I estimate that they had maybe 15-20 coffins in all

IM000520.JPG


They were taking them to a small park across the street where they were evidently going to carry out their own separate event. I took a photo, but as they were under trees it came out too dark to be useful. I still had my small Israeli flag with me, and the last guy in their procession spoke to me as I took these photos

"Why are you taking pictures?!" he said to me in a fairly confrontational tone. He had an accent, I'm guessing it was Arabic. Then he said something about my camera being a "blunt instrument" or something like that. I decided discretion was the better part of valor and we made our way into the subway station.
Final Thoughts

This is not the place to discuss the morality or politics of the Middle East. I've done that at my personal site, The Redhunter, many times, so please visit it if you want the full story.

I've also been present at many other protests, so while you're at The Redhunter click on Rallies and Protests under "Categories" at right, for photos and reports of many events that have occured in and around Washington DC in the past year.

However, for a quick view of the Middle East from someone who's opinions I share, David Horowitz has an excellent Guide to the Middle East at DiscoverThe Network.org.

The police did an outstanding job,and my hat is off to them. All of us thanked them once the event was over. They have a good sense of humor about the whole thing. "Another day, another protest, huh?" I said to one. He just laughed.

As for the marchers, the Israelis I met where too polite when they called them ignorant. They were marching under the banner of communism, and in a cause which supports terrorists. I call that evil.

Update

LGF has a great video of some the speakers and the march itself, taken by blogger Age of Hooper. Go this his site for additional photos.

Zombietime also has great photos of the "Stop the U.S.-Israeli War" rally they held in San Francisco on August 12 also that you won't want to miss.

I briefly met Tantor of Conservative Propaganda, but so far he has not posted anything about the event.

The Washington Times has a short story on the march. As with most media coverage, the story tells nothing of who A.N.S.W.E.R. is, and ignores the vast number of communist and socialist signs. The only signs in our counter-protest they mention are the most inflamitory ones, however.

The Washington Post did slightly better, describing A.N.S.W.E.R. as "a left-wing group that has sponsored numerous antiwar rallies that often attract socialists and anarchists." They also have a few photos and a short video. But they still ignored the communist and socialist messages so prevalent among the marchers. And the only thing they say about our counter protest is this

"There is no other God but Jesus!" shouted one of the counter-protesters. He held a megaphone in one hand, a Bible in the other.
I don't remember this at all, but don't rule it out. It's entirely possible that the person saying this was not with our group. But it wasn't typical at all of our message. Our objection to the marchers was not religious, but policical.

This Associated Press this story posted on CNN also whitewashes the A.N.S.W.E.R. crowd.

Marc of USS Neverdock catches Reuters in some pretty blatant bias.

Posted by Tom at 8:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Do the Lebanese Deserve Freedom?

There's hardly a newspaper today that doesn't print a story like this one in the Washington Times about Lebanese bloggers

"Poor Israel, Poor Israelis. ... They can make a mistake and kill tens of children and apologize and the U.S. quickly forgives them. ... Lebanese children are Hezbollah supporters that should die for the new and democratic Middle East that George Bush has promised the world," Zadigvoltaire wrote sarcastically in his "Beirut Notes" blog.

The same writer is just as furious at Hezbollah and its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, for starting the war.

"Get out of Lebanon Hassan and take your ideology of death and hate with you," Zadigvoltaire wrote. "Go to heaven and let us live in the pro-American hell in peace and prosperity like many other places in the Middle East and Asia."

So let me get this straight. Lebanon has been hijacked by a terrorist army, which occupies it's southern half, which the government dare not confront, and the Lebanese people are upset when someone comes in and trys to destroy the terrorists.

Of course, it's not only the Lebanese, or a seeming majority of them, who are upset. The United Nations Human Rights Council is in on the action too

The U.N. Human Rights Council yesterday condemned Israel for "massive bombardment of Lebanese civilian populations" and other "systematic" human rights violations, and decided to send a commission to investigate.

Although the United States and Israel objected, but the resolution passed 27 - 11.

The Old Sense of Moral Clarity

There is a scene in the movie The Longest Day which should be required viewing for everyone who wants to condemn Israel.

The allies are storming the Normandy beaches on D-Day, and shellfire is going off all around them. Buildings are exploding, the whole bit. A French man and his wife are awoken from their sleep by the commotion, he looks out his window and sees the landing craft headed towards the beach. Without another thought he cheers wildly and grabs a bottle of wine or champagne that he has been saving for the occasion. He rushes down to the beach, still in his bedclothes to meet the invaders. He rushes about as they get out of their landing craft, trying to find a soldier who will share some of his drink. In the background the entire time this is happening, buildings are being hit by the shellfire and are exploding and collapsing. Not finding a soldier who will share his wine, he ends up toasting the occasion by himself.

By our modern standards the scene is silly and overdone. Today's quest for uber-realism dictates that everything be portrayed exactly as it occured, and as such, no "type" figures are allowed.

Apocryphal Realism

The scene, although of course not literally accurate, represents an attitude, the man a "type". There was a time when people understood simple truths that we seem to have forgotten today.

And that truth is that although war sucks, it is better to be free, and we have to recognize that innocents will die in the process.

The D-Day Museum website tells us that "between 15,000 and 20,000 French civilians were killed, mainly as a result of Allied bombing." This fits with what I heard from tour guides when I was over there some years ago.

Yet the Frence do not hate us because of this. They will tell you that they are grateful that we liberated them, even though they lost many of their countrymen in the process. "It was the price to be free of the Nazis" one man told me when I was over there. They will explain that although they disagree with many post-war American policies, we should not confuse this with World War II>

Why do so few people today understand this concept?

The Lebanese

In a sane world the Lebanese would be happy that Israel was bombing Hezbollah. They would rise up and help try and destroy it, or at least not complain. No doubt some are clandestinely working for Mossad or some other Israel intelligence service. I recognize this. But it is distressing that so many would evidently rather live with a terrorist army controlling much of their country than suffer a bit when someone tries to destroy the terrorists.

What if Your Country...?

Every now and then some leftist will ask me "what if your country was being bombed by someone else? You wouldn't like it, would you?"

To which the only possible answer is "well, if my country was ruled by an evil dictator like Saddam/Castro/etc, or had a terrorist army in it's midst, and the army of a democracy came to bomb them, I'd be pertty happy!"

The Answer to the Question

It is tempting to throw up one's hands and just say that the Lebanese do not deserve freedom. They(or most of them) obviously don't mind Hezbollah, so if that's what they want fine, go ahead and let half your country be ruled by a terrorist army.

But we can't do that. For one thing, of course, Hezbollah is using Lebanon as a base to attack Israel. Secondly, and more fundamentally, we can't give up on people, no matter how frustrating the situation becomes. We have to hope that if we try hard enough long enough, they will see the light. There was a time, no doubt, when people in this country wondered if large-scale racism would ever end. But the Jim Crow attitude that seemed so ingrained did die in our country, and similar attitudes can be overcome in others. It won't be easy, and will take a long time, but we can't give up.

Posted by Tom at 7:50 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 10, 2006

The Airline Plot

In all of the news about the plot, revealed earlier today, by Muslims to bomb up to 10 airliners en route from the UK to the United States, this is I think the most interesting. From the Telegraph

Twenty-four terrorist suspects being held last night over an alleged plot to blow up as many as 10 transatlantic jets include middle-class, well-educated young men born in Britain. At least one of them converted to Islam only recently.

As Britain remained on a "critical" level of alert, it emerged that among those arrested were the white son of a former Conservative Party worker, the son of an architect and an accountant and a heavily pregnant woman. Some had studied at university and came from families that owned several properties or ran their own businesses.

What's that now? Not from the slums? Not born and raised in Egypt or Saudi Arabia?

Nope. They were born in Britain.

Here's why this is important. Take a look at this poll of British Muslims taken by Channel 4 in the UK

(hat tip Andrew Stuttaford on NRO). Key Excerpts


- Almost a third of those polled would like to live under sharia law.

- More than one in ten understand why British Muslims might want to carry out suicide missions in this country.

- Nearly a quarter thought that the 7/7 bombings were justified because of Britain's foreign policy.

- Almost one in five respect Osama Bin Laden to some extent.

- Two-thirds think that the poeple who publish the cartoons critical of Mohammed or Islam should be punished

- 45% think that 9/11 was a conspiracy by America and Israel

Yet if you mention these facts you get attacked by the likes of CAIR. Political correctness uber alles.

But there's no problem with Muslim immigrants in Britain or elsewhere. Let's just forget about that little incident with the cartoons.

Michelle Malkin
has more on this. Much more.

The graphs she posts on her site show that by overwhelming margins these people do not believe that Arabs/Muslims committed the 9/11 terrorist attack and that they consider tthemselves Muslims before citizens of their own country.

Note - yes I know that according to her graphs 42 of American Christians answered the question saying that they considered themselves a Christian before an American. But to anyone who wants to make hay out of this; it's not the same thing and you know it. I consider myself a Christian first, but it's not the same as with these folks.

The British are in trouble. Years of multiculturalism and leftist political indoctrination have taken their toll. It is fantastic the police and intelligence services stopped the plot. But it should not have developed in the first place.

Meanwhile, Across the Pond

Our problem is somewhat different than what the Brits face. Ours is not from our Muslim immigrants, but from leftist Democrats who are determined to force our surrender in Iraq and across the Middle East. The far right, typified by Pat Buchanan, is guilty of advocating our defeat also. But it is the left that is dangerous because they can put people into power.

We all know about Ned Lamont and how he defeated Joe Lieberman in the Democrat primary in Connecticut. Whether Lieberman wins in November is not the point. Nor is it whether the "netroots" really had as big a role to play as they think they did (Lamont may have simply been the beneficiary of a "perfect storm").

Take a look at these comments left today at the Daily Kos, as gathered by Jim Geraghty at NRO

"how convenient to release this news the day after Lamont wins the primary. The politicization of "terror" reporting is so obvious."

"We need to wait and see - this could be another case of DOJ-style entrap & hype."

"Blair needs cover right now even more than Bush... Brittish government leaks claim Bush told Blair in advance about invasion of Lebanon. The people arrested were planning this for sometime in the future. Bumping the terror rating over here all the way to red over that seems sketchy. Brittan does have a far more effective anti terror mechanism than we or Israel, and a more reliable media. But don't let the accents fool you, MI5 is every bit as malevolent as the CIA or Mossad, prehaps more so."

"This is the price for close ties to Bush... Has anyone noticed that the planes targeted were all UK - US flights? Pretty clear symbolism there, I think."

"Wait for the backlash in the UK press - this will be laid at the feet of Blair for his unconditional support of US foreign policy."

"There may actually be a terrorist plot here. But given the false alarms and the tendency for the UK police to act stupid and run around bumping into things, I think some hard facts would be useful before we assume that there really is a viable plot to start blowing planes out of the sky."

"The US is now on "red alert," but only for incoming planes from the UK, as far as I can tell. I'm not saying nothing has happened to cause genuine concern, but this UK/US response strikes me as bull****... The report I saw stated that most or all of the 21 arrested were Pakistani; most or all were UK-born Pakistanis. Bushco is openly selling arms to Pakistan, but incoming flights from Islamabad apparently aren't worth a scratch of the head at this red-alert moment. Evil is incoming today on air flights from London and only London, dammit. Be afraid! Be very afraid of England and the evil it spawns!

Or would it make more sense to just lock down the loos on flights from the UK?

Sorry, this story just isn't passing the smell test for me."

"So the war in Iraq and all that profiteering there, all the death, results in making our airspace safer HOW??? Tell us again, Holy Joe Lieberman, how your GOP buddies' tough talk and money-grabbing war profiteering made us safer???""how convenient to release this news the day after Lamont wins the primary. The politicization of "terror" reporting is so obvious."

Now, Lamont was endorsed by Kos. Marcos even appeared in a TV commercial with him. Whether Lamont believes the same thing all the moonbats in these excerpts do is questionable. But he has no problem associating himself with them. And he could be in power come November.

I listened to a remarkable call today on the Glenn Beck show. Beck is a very popluar radio talk show host, and even has a show on CNN (TV Headline News). It was the first call he took today, and it was so incredible that he played it again later. Beck let the guy continue his rant without interruption. The caller spewed all of the "it's all a Bush-Cheney-Blair plot" stuff you could imagine.

Accuse me of turning today's near-tragedy into politics if you will, but all I'm doing is pointing out that until we're all together on at least recognizing there is a threat from many Muslims we're not going to win this war.

Posted by Tom at 9:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 9, 2006

Can We Keep Iraq?

You don't have to be an anti-war moonbat to be taken aback when this came out last week

"I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war," Gen. John Abizaid testified at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Fueling this possibility, he said, was the combination of "sectarian violence, al Qaeda terrorists, insurgents and Shia militants."

"Failure to apply coordinated regional and international pressure ... will further extremism" and could lead to a widening and more perilous conflict, he said.

The US military says that attacks are up by 40% in the Baghdad area,

Not only that, but attacks are up all across Iraq

"Right now, much like all of Iraq, the attack levels are up," (Maj. Gen. Richard )Zilmer told The Associated Press. "While numbers of attacks are up, the effectiveness, the complexity (of the attacks) has not risen."

Last May I wrote that we had entered Phase IV of the war, one in which we would concentrate on consolidating the government and taking down the militias. I think I was correct about that. The problem is that it is apparent that we should have gone after the militias from the beginning. We underestimated their ability to make trouble, and the support they would receive from Iraqi politicians. As Andy McCarthy relates, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is upset that we are going after Shiite militias.

David Frum, writing on his blog over at National Review, said what many of us are thinking; that moving a few hundred troops into Baghdad is not going to stabilize the situation. We need thousands brought into the country, and the fact is that we don't have the political will to do that. What then, he asks?

Uncontrolled militias (some of them working tacitly with the pro-Iranian Islamists at the Ministry of the Interior) will wage intensifying war against each other.

The Sunnis will use random terror: car bombings, suicide bombings, kidnappings and massacres.

The Shiite militias - supported by their friends in the Ministry of the Interior and in the police forces - will respond with increasingly coordinated terror, such as that which killed dozens of Sunnis in the al-Jihad neighborhood on July 9. It is hard to imagine that a few hundred American advisers can put a stop to such atrocities.

As the tide of urban warfare turns in the Shiites' favor, those Sunnis who can flee the city will do so .

Gradually, Baghdad will come to look like Basra, Iraq's Shiite-dominated second city, now effectively ruled by Iranian-backed Shiites with the tacit acquiescence of the British military authorities.

Baghdad - and therefore central Iraq - will in such a case slide after Basra and the south into the unofficial new Iranian empire.

The danger, as Kirk Sowell says to me in a comment on this very problem at ThreatsWatch, is that "the worst case scenario, as I see, is not Iraq as a proxy state, but Iraq as a failed state, since this is possible but the former is not." He goes on to say that Sadr's "only holds sway among a minority of the Shia, both general population and religious leaders." He's probaly right. StrategyPage has said much the same (though I can't find the link just now. Kirk says that he's going to write more about this in future, and I advise everyone to make ThreatsWatch part of your regular reading.

The Bottom Line

al-Qaeda appears to be retreating from Iraq, which is certainly good because it significantly lessens the chance that if we lose the country it turns into the seat of the global caliphate that Osama bin Laden dreams of.

We also have to take care from becomming too gloomy over the current situation, because we know that some editors spike "good news" stories in favor of bad news, and so many military officers returning from Iraq say that the situation is better than it's reported by the msm. Further, as Powerline blog points out, it's not as if Iraq was a peaceful place before OIF.

Nevertheless, the current problems are tribal and ethnic based. The Washington Post, accurately, I think, calls it a "family feud". The power has shifted from the Sunnis to the Shi'a, and the current battles are over the new power structure.

Richard Fernandez sums it up well over at Belmont Club

A realistic assessment should include what has already been gained and what is left to gain. Some people think the Belmont Club is guilty of unwonted optimism simply because it is willing to accept what Zarqawi has practically admitted: that the Sunni insurgency is militarily beaten -- and that the struggle for the political outcome is now underway. And some readers may believe that I've gone all "gloomy" because I think the political outcome still hangs in the balance. But that is nothing more than stating a fact. Yet the essential difference is this: it's in context. Those who have done some rock climbing know that while it is important to grope for the next handhold along the line of climb it is equally important to remember the footholds you have already won. Forget where you are standing and you are lost. Unfortunately, much of the regular media coverage is almost designed to conceal where where we are standing and where we have to go. There is no context, as Bill Roggio once put it on a television interview. For most casual listeners of the news the US is trapped in a featureless and starchy soup, with no beginning or end. The War on Terror becomes portrayed as a shapeless shroud from which it is imperative to escape at all costs.

And that's sad because as Baron von Richthofen said, "Those who are afraid to take the next step will have wasted their entire previous journey."

We've beaten the Sunni insurgency. Whether we'll have a satisfactory political outcome is still in question.

Posted by Tom at 8:12 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 8, 2006

End this Stupid War

To all of my readers, after long and considered thought I have reached a conclusion.

We must petition our president to end this stupid war. Now. And if he does not, we should consider articles of impeachment.

I'll list my reasons below, but by now you're familiar with most of them; we're fighting someone who never attacked us, most of the fighting is in a part of the world that does not or should not concern us, our president has used the war to violate our civil liberties, he hides the true extend of US casualties, and has fought the war incompetently.

Yes we were attacked. Yes a response was necessary. But every since the attack on

December 7 1941, this president has used his powers to take us in a direction I never imagined he would. As such, it is time for action. Here then, is my case.

Germany Never Attacked Us

I accept that we need to fight Japan (but more on that later). But there is no reason for us to be fighting Germany and Italy.

Here is the timeline, for anyone who forgets;

1) December 7 Japan attacks us at Pearl Harbor
2) December 8, the US declares war on Japan
3) December 11, Germany declares war on the United States
4) December 11, the US declares war on Germany

But why did Germany declare war on us? It was not obligated to do so by the Tripartite Pact (the "axis" treaty), which was strictly defensive in nature, only obligating the parties to come to each others aid if they were attacked.

I'll tell you why; because Roosevelt provoked them.

US Provocations

The fact is that Roosevelt gave secret, illegal, orders(and here) to the US Navy to shoot on sight Germany U-Boats years before we were officially at war with them. If you doubt me, let it be remembered that on September 11 1941, Roosevelt ended all pretense and publicly stated that he had ordered the US Navy to shoot on sight German U-Boats. Who can blame Germany for declaring war on us after this?

In March of 1940, Roosevelt rammed "Lend-Lease" through Congress, the purpose of which was to aid Great Britain by shipping her war material. Who can blame Germany for being angry with us?

To top it all off, Roosevelt and that drunk Churchill in August of 1941 issued their "Atlantic Charter", which was basically a declaration of war on Germany. They did this on warships in the atlantic, and even forced the crew of the HMS Prince of Wales to sing "Onward Christian Solders" for their entertainment. Besides gross insensitivity towards non-Christians, this event shows that Roosevelt and Churchill believe that this is some sort of religious war that they are fighting, something totally out of place in our modern world.

Great Britain and France are to Blame

But didn't Germany attack Poland, you ask?

Oh yes, and it's The Great War all over again. Didn't we learn our lesson that time? Europe went to war because one stupid assassination triggered a series of declarations of war because all those countries had treaties with each other. Well, they've gone and done it again. If Great Britain and France were stupid enough to sign a defense treaty with Poland, that's their problem.

Besides, the whole thing could have been avoided if those two countries had treated Germany decently after The Great War. President Wilson even warned them that if they carried out their vicious plans it would only set the stage for another war. But no, they had to punish Germany way beyond what was necessary. All the Treaty of Versailles did was to create political and economic chaos in Germany. Who can blame them for bringing Hitler to power? Besides, by any economic measure, Germany is a better place now that he is in power.

The Arms Merchants

The Nye Commission conclusively proved that it was the arms merchants who suckered us into The Great War. Thanks to the indefatigable efforts of Senator Nye, we now know that it was their greed that led to untoward politcal influence. Far from being a war between "good" and "evil", it was all the works of munitions lobbyists paying off congressmen. The lesson, of course, was not to sell arms to beligerants in Europe.

Why Roosevelt has ignored this is beyond me. He claims it is a war between "good" and "evil", but we've heard that one before.

The situation is not any better with regard to Japan. Japan fears the United States because of our bases in the western Pacific, such as those on Guam, Wake Island, and especially the Philippines. We obtained those bases through our own imperialist expansion, obtaining the latter in a war we provoked with Spain at the end of the last century. Yes Japan's actions in China are deplorable. But did Roosevelt expect Japan not to respond when he imposed sanction after sanction on them?

No Accountability

After the disaster at Pearl Harbor, you would think that Roosevelt would have fired most of his military advisors. But then, you don't know Roosevelt and his cronies. Virtually all of the people who held office on December 7 are still in their positions today.

Secretary of War Henry Stimson, Still on the job.

Secretary of State Cordell Hull, still on the job.

Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, still on the job.

Admiral Husband Kimmell and General Walter Short, commanders in Hawaii? They were cashiered. Which shows you the respect Roosevelt has for our military as opposed to his cronies in the cabinet.

Unprepared for War

You might think that someone who would lead us into war would at least be ready to fight it. But then you would think logically, unlike Roosevelt.

Despite years of "preparation", this is the situation that our armed forces found themselves in when war was actually declared:

- Every single one of our single and twin-engine warplanes were inferior to that of our enemies. Every single one
- 80% of our naval torpedoes were duds.
- Our army tanks were inferior to that of our enemy, and still are today. Worse, the Army has as it's stated policiy not to improve on the M-4 Sherman! Besides thin armor and a pitiful gun, they are powered by gasoline engines, while those of our enemies are powered by diesel. When hit by an enemy shell, a gasoline tank explodes, a diesel one burns. Our own troops call our tanks "ronson burners".
- Our navy built far too may battleships when it should have been concentrating on aircraft carriers.

I could go on but I think you get the point.

Military Incompetence

Roosevelt, when pressed, claims a number of "mistakes" were made. I call it incompetence. This war has been fought by amateures.

Remember these? Dieppe, Tarawa, Anzio, Manila? Or Operation Market Garden? Or how they tried to cover up the disaster of Exercise Tiger? How many American boys were killed because we underestimated enemy troop strengh at Iwo Jima? And don't think that things got any better with time; we were caught by surprise in the Ardennes and lost 19,000 brave Americans, the biggest loss of the war, and the ongoing effort to capture Okinowa looks to the be the most incompetently executed operation of all.

How about incompetent generals like Mark Clark. Or how about the kamikazes that plague our Pacific Fleet, and about which Nimitz has no idea how to stop? Admiral Halsey should have been fired after driving his fleet through a typhoon, but was inexplicably allowed to remain in command.

Out of Proportion

I will accept that we needed to respond to the Japanese attacks of December 7. But our response has been all out of proportion to the damage inflicted on us. Our stated goal is the unconditional surrender of the Axis powers. This implies occupation of their countries and punishing their leaders. But none of them has ever attacked the American homeland. Japan limited their attacks in Hawaii to military targets, yet report after report shows American aircraft bombing civilian and "industrial" targets in Germany and Japan. Our response should be proportionate; recapture the islands that Japan took in the opening days of the war and stop there.

American Atrocities

There is great evidence that there is a deliberate policy of murdering enemy soldiers. For example, Japan is estimated to have had 21,000 soldiers defending Iwo Jima, yet only 1083 survived the battle. It deflies the imagination to think that had Roosevelt been so bloodthirsty, he could not have asked his commanders to negotiate the surrender of more Japanese troops.

Further, our strategy in the Pacific is to bypass some Japanese held islands, leaving them to "wither on the vine". Translation; starve them to death. This is a violation of th rules of war. The least we could do is allow humanitarian agencies to ship food and medical supplies to the Japanese soldiers on these islands. But of course Roosevelt has seized all food through his rationing program.

Then there is our bombing of civilian targets. General Curtis Lemay, newly appointed commender of the Army Air Force's XX Bomber Command in the Pacific, has ordered our bombers to drop incendaries - firebombs - on civilian targets in Japan. Reports from the field tell of fantastic destruction of Japanese cities, especially Tokyo. It is apparent that our commanders are making little or no distinction between civilian and military targets in these campaigns.

The situation is the same in Europe. American and British bombers regulary attack German cities, taking little care as to what they hit. The recent "carpet-bombing" of Dresden is said to have caused massive civilian casualties for little or no military gain.

Alliance with the Devil

Although this is said to be a war against evil, we are allied with some of the worse dictators on the planet; Joseph Stalin in Russia and Chiang Kai-shek of China. At least Hitler can claim one democratic election (albeit a plurality), which is more than what Stalin or Chaing can claim. Not only are we allied with these two dictators, we ship them supplies. We cannot claim to be on the side of "good" as long as we are allied with such people.

Hiding the Cost of War

Roosevelt has gone out of his way to hide the cost of this war from the American people. He has forbade newspapers from publishing photos of dead Americans, and newsreels, which are nothing but propaganda, only show "happy scenes".

Roosevelt also manipulates the media at every turn, and newspapers that publish things he does not like are said to be "unpatriotic." There are even a series of posters which purport to tell us that anyone who publishes leaked information is unpatriotic. This assault on our civil liberties must stop.

In addition, mail that our brave troops send to their loved ones at home is censored. Besides the obvious violation of civil rights, it is clear that the real purpose of this is to hide the horror of the war from the American people.

The Bottom Line

We need to force this president to end the war immediately. We should bring our troops home before they get stuck in Japan or Germany for an indefinate amount of time. Even at this late date, negotiations are still possible. We should not allow ourselves to be beholden to the bloodthirsty war aims of Churchill or Stalin. If Roosevelt does not comply, articles of impeachment should be drafted.

Next up - A Decade of Failure

Posted by Tom at 8:45 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 5, 2006

A Cease-Fire in the Offing?

The United States and France are working towards drafting a resolution which they believe will pass the UN Security Council. Haaretz has excerpts


The Security Council...

- Emphasizing the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasizing the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers, :

- Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;

- Emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory ... ;

- Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:

... the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that... there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state;

- deployment of an international force in Lebanon ... ;

- establishment of an international embargo on the sale or supply of arms and related material to Lebanon except as authorized by its government;

- elimination of foreign forces in Lebanon without the
consent of its government ... ;

- Requests UNIFIL (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon), upon cessation of hostilities, to monitor its implementation and to extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the safe return of displaced persons;

There's more, but these are the essentials. The Jersulalem Post has the full text of the proposed resolution.

These terms are all fine and good, but as Rich Lowry points out, it will "be meaningless if Hezbollah doesn't accept the ceasefire, which seems quite possible." Lowry doesn't say why, but I would think that they will only accept the cease-fire if they believe that the attempt to disarm them and keep them disarmed will not be serious.

Beyond that, words on paper are all very fine, but as we saw in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the Security Council was very good at passing resolutions, but very poor at enforcing them. Why should Syria and Iran stop arming Hezbollah? Anyone who suggests that a package of economic and other incentives will work wins the dunce-of-the-day award. The reason why UNIFIL, which has been in southern Lebanon since 1978, hasn't done anything is that one, the nations donating troops to that effort don't want any of their soldiers killed, two they see peacekeeping as a money-making operation, and three, many outright sympathize with Hezbollah.

And why should Iran and Syria cease arming Hezbollah? Both know, or think, that the chance of being attacked by the US is nil. They're not interested in economic incentives. Syria will probably that they'll stop arms shipments, but will secretly begin to do so. Israel and the US will detect some of the shipments, the usual suspects will shake their heads and tut-tut that the shipments should stop, but that will be it. Then, once things have calmed down for awhile, Hezbollah will resume it's attacks on Israel and we'll be right back where we started.

Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad says that the solution is to destroy Israel.

Posted by Tom at 2:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 4, 2006

1938 Redux?

Several commentators at National Review have written recently that what they see happening in the world resembles nothing so much as the 1930s.

In the 1930s Britain and France appeased Hitler. Anything to prevent the horrors of what they called The Great War, they said. The United States stood on the sidelines, naively thinking we were secure in our isolationist policies. The elite mocked Churchill as a drunkard alarmist.

Today many in the West so no danger from Iran or the various terrorist groups that cannot be negotiated away. The elite today mock George Bush and Tony Blair.

First up is Michael Ledeen, who points out that although "9/11 was supposed to have been the wakeup call," "we are again asleep". The problem now, he says, is that we fail to recognize that it's not just about fighing "insurgents" in Iraq, or Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran and Syria are behind much or most of it, and behind that is a virulent form of radical Islam. Although I still say that going into Iraq put us on the strategic offensive, Ledeen points out that since the invasion we have been playing defense.

Meanwhile, a collection of frauds, writing in places like Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, and Mother Jones, continuously recycles a story saying that a neocon (code for “Jewish”) conspiracy duped Bush into going to war in Iraq, and is now arranging the invasion of Iran.

For those that forget, President Roosevelt was treated to the same sort of nonsense from the likes of people like Father Coughlin, who accused the president of "leaning toward international socialism or sovietism on the Spanish question." Indeed, as Ledeen says

It is the Thirties again. Many of the statements above apply to Franklin Roosevelt’s first two administrations, and to the political atmosphere of those dreadful years. Then, too, the mounting power of what became the Axis was ignored. As my father often reminded me, a few months before Pearl Harbor, at a time when Nazi armies were long since on the march, the draft passed by a single vote. Apologists for Hitler and Mussolini were legion, and some of our leading intellectuals were saying that American democratic capitalism was a failure, and we would do well to emulate the European totalitarians.

Continuing this same theme, Victor Davis Hanson reviews some of the apologists of that era

...nevertheless it is still surreal to reread the fantasies of Chamberlain, Daladier, and Pope Pius, or the stump speeches by Charles Lindbergh (“Their [the Jews’] greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government”) or Father Coughlin (“Many people are beginning to wonder whom they should fear most — the Roosevelt-Churchill combination or the Hitler-Mussolini combination.”) — and baffling to consider that such men ever had any influence.

Tell me, what is the difference between any of the above cited men and Michael Moore or Markos "Screw them" Moulitsas? Or Pat Buchanan, for that matter?

And how are our "allies" In Europe responding to all this? Hanson continues

There is no need to mention Europe, an entire continent now returning to the cowardice of the 1930s. Its cartoonists are terrified of offending Muslim sensibilities, so they now portray the Jews as Nazis, secure that no offended Israeli terrorist might chop off their heads. The French foreign minister meets with the Iranians to show solidarity with the terrorists who promise to wipe Israel off the map (“In the region there is of course a country such as Iran — a great country, a great people and a great civilization which is respected and which plays a stabilizing role in the region”) — and manages to outdo Chamberlain at Munich.


Our enemy, as I mentioned, is not just a few Taliban remnants, or "insurgents" in Iraq, it is Islaofascism (or whatever you want to call it) in general. Principal among the villans is the government of Iran. And before we congratulate ourselves, Barbara Lerner says that far from confronting Iran,

...we have yet to admit that Iran is at war with us, or to seriously consider striking back at her, and, in speaking of our own war aims, we never dare use the v-word — victory — anymore. Instead, we make head-in-the-sand happy-talk about “peace,” “democracy,” and “ceasefires,” rejecting any military action against Iran for fear of “widening the war” — as if Iran were not already at war with us — and rely on the U.N. and “the international community” to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions and to prevent her proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, from continuing to bring death and destruction to our smallest, truest, and most vulnerable ally, Israel. ...

Worse, we meet the jackals halfway by endlessly apologizing for sins our soldiers and guards are falsely accused of, in Iraq and Guantanamo, and by urging “restraint” on Israel — as if she weren’t employing near-suicidal restraint already. Then, we congratulate ourselves for our “courage” in standing up to international pressure by not forcing Israel to stop fighting for her life immediately, and promising, in return, to “protect” her with a “peace-keeping” force of enemies, led by the reborn Vichy France of Jacques Chirac and Phillipe Douste-Blazy — the French foreign minister who just called Iran “a stabilizing force.”

So is this were we are, again on the brink of the precipice? After 9/11 we said "never again", but even a casual reading of any newspaper reveals a large segment of opinion-makers who believe that George W Bush and Tony Blair are the greatest threats to world peace. Sorry, but I don't buy the notion that all would be well if only we hadn't invaded Iraq.

It also doesn't explain current attitudes on the left towards Iran. This article at Mother Jones typifies the "what me worry?" attitude the left has towards Iran: "The confrontation with Iran has very little to do with nukes—and a lot with the agenda of empire".

The good news is that the Bush Administration is letting Israel have a go at destroying Hezbollah. The bad news is that we are not serious about dealing with Iran or Syria. Barbara Lerner, in her article linked to above, has some good ideas for dealing with Iran. All too many of our elites, however, seem mired in the attitudes of the 1930s. And we all know what that got us.

Posted by Tom at 9:15 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 2, 2006

The Contrarian Views

Two days ago I wrote that "There seems general consensus that the military campaign is not destroying Hezbollah as hoped." Yesterday's post cited several astute analysists who said that Israel was not winning it's war, and that the United States was not doing so well either in the larger war on Islamofascism.

Perhaps I spoke too soon regarding a consensus. American Thinker certainly disagrees that Israel is losing. He says that the current war most resembles the battle for Iwo Jima. The Japanese defenders thought they had constructed the perfect fort, which would surely hold off the Americans. Instead, they were slaughtered, with only 1020 of the 21,000 defenders surviving.

The Israeli strategy, he says, is more subtle than many have supposed.

It is Hezbollah that has been outsmarted here, though uninformed, mainstream reporting of the initial results obscure this fact. For in banking on a massive Israeli offensive, Hezbollah apparently posted a sizeable force in the Lebanese border towns that are being picked apart one by one by the IDF. Already there are IDF reports of as many as 230 Hezbollah terrorists killed in Maroun al-Ras and Bint Jbeil. The Bint Jbeil meat-grinder, where Hezbollah appeared determined to make an ill-advised last stand, has done its work.
The IDF and the Israeli Air Force (IAF) have destroyed an estimated 1,300 Hezbollah missiles that range from the Katyushas to Farj-3s, Farj5s, and Zelzal-2s. Meanwhile, Hezbollah has expended an estimated 2,000 missiles and has little to show for it. Israeli military officials report soldiers have found and destroyed Katyusha rocket launchers, antitank missile launchers and large caches of ammunition. Few launchers are reported available. Like the Japanese at Iwo Jima, Hezbollah has stored enormous quantities of ammunition in the Lebanese border towns, perhaps planning to wage a hit-and-run guerrilla war on Israel’s supply convoys as the IDF repeats the 1982 invasion. But Israel’s been there, done that, and she is not going to make the same mistake twice. “‘This battle against Hezbollah is going to last,’ Avi Dichter, Israel’s public security minister” informed reporters. “‘We’re not in any hurry.’”

Over whatever time remains before the conflict is forced to end, the IDF will take apart the Hezbollah terrorist-guerrillas that made the ultimate error of remaining in fixed positions. It is Hezbollah that is stoked in the passions and delusions of over-confidence. If Hezbollah takes comfort from fighting in fixed positions, they need only brush up on Napoleon, who said “the army that remains in its forts is beaten.”

Steve Schippert of ThreatsWatch believes that Hezbollah is on the ropes

...in a radio interview with John Batchelor, retired Air Force General Tom McInerney detailed a debriefing with a senior IDF official in which he detailed that Israel believes their airstrikes have eliminated 70% of the long-range Iranian ZelZal missile systems in Hizballah hands. McInerney noted that over 1000 Hizballah infrastructure targets have been struck by Israeli air power up and down the Bekaa Valley (once called the most heavily defended air corridor on the planet) and throughout Southern Lebanon, including weapons storage facilities, command and control centers, vehicle repair facilities and 18 Hizballah financial centers which serve in the place of banks.

While sustaining these enormous losses, Hizballah is having difficulty re-supplying across the Syrian border. Convoys from Syria are struck by F-16’s and drones once they are within Lebanese borders, often with the massive secondary explosions that indicate arms shipments. The Israelis believe that Bashar Assad is “directly involved” in the attempts to smuggle rockets, other arms and ammunition to Hizballah, and the release of the results of ‘defense establishment’ intelligence is Israel’s way of sending a message to the Syrian president.

Lastly, Haaretz Correspondent Yoav Stern says that "Hezbollah's reports have become less and less believable

On Monday, Al-Manar television - the central component of Hezbollah's well-oiled media empire - reported that the organization had destroyed an Israeli ship off the coast of Tyre, which had some 50 sailors aboard - a charge the IDF dismissed completely."

It's not clear what incident, if any, the report was referring to, and the Arab world has been asking questions. Al-Arabiya television asked Mahmoud Kamati, a member of the Hezbollah political bureau, about the Hezbollah claim and he repeated that an Israeli ship had been hit, but said no pictures were broadcast because visibility was poor.

Given that much of the msm seems to consider Hezbollah and Israeli statments of equal value, we need to consider that the view of the war we have been receiving is not entirely honest.

So who is right? I don't know. We hear that all Hezbollah has to do to win is survive. Since propaganda is a very important part of war, this has some validity. But Israel is fighting because most of the people in it's northern cities are living underground, and it's economy has ground to a halt in these areas. It simply cannot survive under these conditions. Simply ending the rocket attacks is a victory for Israel.

The good news is that politicians in the United States are fairly united in their support for Israel. With the exception of a few moonbats on the left, most all Democrats and Republicans are in opposition to Hezbollah and are willing to give Israel the time it needs. I can't find the link, but I recall reading that the IDF thought it needed just another 10-14 days. Let's make sure they get it.

Posted by Tom at 9:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 1, 2006

Book Review: Why We Fight: Moral Clarity And The War on Terrorism

To put it mildly, the war on radical Islam is getting more difficult by the day. For those of us who have been ardent supporters of what we call the War on Terror, and believe firmly the invasion of Iraq was the right thing to do, and that "of course" we should support Israel, these are difficult times.

We've all seen the headlines, and most of you visit the same websites that I do. National Review says that we may not be winning the war (either Iraq or the larger one on terror) , but we're not winning it either. Bret Stevens and Ralph Peters think that Israel is losing it's war agaist Hezbollah.

Michael Ledeen thinks it's the 1930s all over again. That's never good. Supposedly we got over that the day after 9-11.


The greatest failure of our leaders, with rare exceptions, is their refusal to see the war plain, which means Iran and Syria (might as well call them “Syran,” since they operate in tandem, with Tehran pushing most of the buttons). It was never possible to “win in Iraq” so long as we insisted on fighting in Iraq alone. You can not win a regional war by playing defense in one country. It was, and remains, a sucker’s game. Syran pays no price at all for killing our kids and our allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now in Gaza and Lebanon/Israel.

Syran reasonably concluded that there was no price to pay for killing us, and so they predictably expanded the scope of the war. Our leaders do not see this whole; they see each component as a separate issue. They see that Hezbollah is an Iranian entity. They see Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers at work in Lebanon and Iraq. They know the best weapons in the war come through Syran and in many cases are manufactured by Syran. Any logical person has to conclude that you cannot win this war without defeating Syran.

Unfortunately, I think Ledeen is correct. 9-11 did not prove to be sufficient to wake us from our slumber. And no, Iraq did not distract us, as the left will tell you. They'd have forgotten about the whole thing once the Taliban were defeated in Iraq.

With all this, I thought it would be a good idea to step back for a minute. The situation may be dire but it is never lost. Time to remind ourselves why we need to fight this war.

It wasn't long after the terrible events of Sept 11 2001 that William Bennett saw the need to write a book explaining "why we fight". Just as Reagan was attacked for his "evil empire" reference, President Bush was attacked for "Axis of Evil". In our postmodern age, the very word "evil" is too much for some people.

The book Bennett wrote was Why We Fight: Moral Clarity And The War on Terrorism. It is short, only 170 pages, and without footnotes or index. But it was not meant to be a scholarly work, rather a quick treatise on, well, why we fight.

If you doubt that such a book is necessary, all you have to do is read the reviews at Amazon. It is obvious that the left made a concerted effort to trash the book by flooding Amazon with negative reviews. They wouldn't have done this if they hadn't felt threatened, and Bennett's logic provides much to threaten them with.

On to the book. Rather than attempt to summarize it, I thought it best if I just quoted extensively from it.

One route to pacifism, as I mentioned earlier, runs by way of current psychological doctrine. Generations of American Children have by now been raised on the principle that violence is always wrong, and that every difference can be negotiated though “dialogue.” Likewise, generations of American businessmen and executives have been trained in the principles of conflict resolution and anger management. Generations of American diplomats and negotiators have been instructed in the art of “getting to yes.”
What is wrong with that? Nothing – as long as the parties to a dispute are playing by the same procedural rules, as long as the matters under dispute are truly negotiable, and as long as each side can be trusted to abide by the settlement. In other circumstances, and especially in war, anger management is a best irrelevant. “Don’t hit!” is easy advice; “Don’t hit back!” is more fraught with complexity.

The appeal to stifle our anger and negotiate our differences with extremists bent on nullifying our existence was not only irrelevant, it was immoral; it amounted to a counsel of unilateral disarmament and a denial of justice.

One saw this bias (against the employment of force by the U.S.) at work, for example, in the insistence that the war against terrorism be prosecuted by me4ans of an international coalition and not by the United States alone. Of course, there were sound strategic reasons for securing the active cooperation of others, as we did from the start. Morally, too, there is always something to be said for having an explicit seal of approval from the global community. Something, but not everything. To make such international approval a requirement of action, as if otherwise we lacked warrant to defend ourselves, was not morally sound but morally repugnant, springing from a hostility to America that had little to do with pacifism and everything to do with the larte4r political and ideological agenda of the “peace party”. The idea behind it was that we could not b e trusted to restrain ourselves – and idea that no amount of evidence to the contrary could dislodge from the minds of those holding it.

“Killing people won’t prove anything. It’s more of the same”
More of the same? Terrorists target innocent civilians by definition; they seek the destruction of innocent life. Military action to combat terrorism seeks to avoid noncombatant casualties. It’s not more of the same; it is the opposite of the same.

“You should never be violent”
…teaching children this lesson does an unforgivable injury both to them and to the adult community of which they are about to become a part. It renders them vulnerable to abuse and injury, and leaves them without moral or intellectual recourse when abuse and injury are inflicted upon them. If no distinction is made between kinds of “peace,” children are deprived of the tools they require to distinguish a just from an unjust peace, peace with honor from the peace of the grave. They are robbed of the oldest and most necessary wisdom of the race, which is that some things are worth fighting and dying for.
Are we to tell our children that, because “you should always find a peaceful way to solve your problems,” the brave men who fought in the revolutionary War, the Civil War, the two World Wars, and every other conflict in history were acting immorally? That way lies a generation prepared only for accommodation, appeasement, and surrender.

John Stuart Mill:
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of a moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth was is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight – nothing he cares about more than his own safety – is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

(on multiculturalism) In short, little schoolchildren are routinely taught that America represents but one of many cultures and in principle deserves no automatic preference, that there is no such thing as a better or worse society, that cultural values different from our own need to understood and accepted in a spirit of sympathetic tolerance, and that, all things considered, we ourselves have at least as much to answer for as to be proud of.

The nonjudgementalism with which some of us have allowed ourselves to become infected, and which we wear as a badge of tolerance, functions as an excuse for gross moral irresponsibility. Pretending to rise above the “common” view, it robs us of the ability to recognize and call things by their proper names.

Under the aegis of nonjudgementalism, some Americans have ended up tolerating, protecting, or apologizing for evil….the refusal to distinguish good from evil (or right from wrong).

…it does no good to pretend that religions and cultures are everywhere basically the same, and basically the same as the ones we happen to know.

There is a defensive and an offensive Jihad. There are tighter limits on the latter. The nature of the war between Islam and the infidels is governed by rules. There can be no killing of innocents, or terrorism.

Around the world, we have intervened repeatedly during the past decade in behalf of Muslim interests. We defended Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein; we stopped wholesale persecutions of Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo; we brought assistance to the Muslim nation of Somalia, we were; long the biggest provider of food in Afghanistan itself, and now we have liberated that country from the boot of the Taliban. We have often been rewarded for our efforts with petulance, double-dealing, resentment, hatred – and terror. That large parts of the Muslim world remain sunk in economic and social degradation is a fact for which we are assigned the blame.

If the Islamic world is ever to experience the uplift it has demanded, all this will have to change – on both sides. They will have to cease rejecting Western civilization and instead begin to study it, we will have to cease indulging ourselves in guilt….


…whatever the connection between hatred of Israel and hatred of America (prev: that the Muslims hate America because of our support of Israel)….one could more plausibly argue, as Norman Podhoretz did in the Wall Street Journal, …that the connection ran the other way: that “the hatred of Israel is in large part a surrogate for anti-Americanism,” and that “if Israel had never come into existence, or if it were magically to disappear, the U.S. would still stand as an embodiment of everything that most of these Arabs consider evil.”

…as Gamal Abdel Nasser, the president of Egypt, put it with complete frankness, the “aggression” the Arabs sought to undo in provoking that war (1967) was the existence of Israel itself.


As the writer Norah Vincent has coldly but truly put it, “If it weren’t for our (and Israel’s) cultural commitment to tolerance and the rule of law, to the use of violence only in self-defense and to the reaching of diplomatic solutions, the Palestinian people would have no cause at all. They would not exist.”
And what if their cause should triumph? “Do you imagine,” Vincent asks, that the new state of Palestine “would be anything other than a repressive dictatorship bent on crushing it’s God-given enemies/” And “do you really suppose there would be any Jews left to protest?”

If you don't have Why We Fight on your bookshelf, get it.

Posted by Tom at 9:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack