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February 28, 2007

The Bush Doctrine R.I.P.

This morning we learned that the Bush Administration might just, after all, "talk" with Iran over the future of Iraq. From the Washington Post

The United States agreed yesterday to join high-level talks with Iran and Syria on the future of Iraq, an abrupt shift in policy that opens the door to diplomatic dealings the White House had shunned in recent months despite mounting criticism.

The move was announced by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in testimony on Capitol Hill, after Iraq said it had invited neighboring states, the United States and other nations to a pair of regional conferences.

The Administration quickly backtracked, however. At 4:28pm today CNN posted this

U.S. officials won't hold direct talks with Iran or Syria at a Baghdad conference next month despite the Bush administration's complaints that those countries are allowing weapons into Iraq, White House spokesman Tony Snow said Wednesday.

Direct talks would happen only if those countries made changes to their own policies. Iran would have to halt its uranium enrichment work and Syria would have to stop supporting groups Washington considers terrorist organizations, Snow said.

I don't know if this "only if those countries made changed" bit was part of the original plan or not, but there's nothing about it in the Post story and I don't have time to do extensive research. My guess is that they backtracked once they heard the outrage from the right.

Either way, contrast this with the set of policies popularly known as the Bush Doctrine, first outlined in a speech to graduates of West Point in June of 2002, and formalized in this AEI document.

- Military pre-emption
- Unilateral action when necessary
- A policy of "you're with us or against us"
- Bringing democracy, liberty, and security to other parts of the world

It looks like the Administration has bought into the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. Or they're trying to appease the Democrats. Or the editorial page of the New York Times. Or Secretary Rice is unable to resist the influence of the Arabists in the State Department. Or they've gone nuts.

Frank Gaffney outlines at least three reasons why negotiating with Iran is a bad idea

First, such negotiations will legitimate one of the most dangerous regimes on the planet. By acceding to the pressure to accord the mullahocracy in Tehran the status of equal partners and members in good standing of the “community of nations”....

Second, embracing Ahmadinejad and his mullahs in this way can only alienate our natural allies: the people of Iran. They have lately been demonstrating a growing willingness to challenge the Islamofascists who have oppressed them for so long.

Third, the adoption of the negotiating track effectively forecloses other options for dealing with the danger posed by the Iranian regime. In particular, efforts to bring about its downfall will be precluded. Diplomats predictably will insist that nothing be done — for example, through covert operations, more far-reaching and effective economic sanctions, military preparations, or political warfare — that will jeopardize the prospects for successful negotiations.

All three are good reasons not to engage in high-level public negotiations, but the last one strikes me as being particularly important. Several months ago I proposed several actions we ought to take that fall short of military strikes, but do not involve "negotiations" either. They include a human rights campaign, support for democratic movements inside Iran, propaganda, and giving them their own insurgency to worry about.

But Gaffney is right; diplomats will put a brake on any covert or overt actions. They won't even want a public human rights campaign for fear that it would "disrupt sensitive negotiations".

The Administration used to insist that it would never negotiate with states which sponsored terrorism. Iran is supposed to be part of the "axis of evil." What has changed? Andy McCarthy asks the same question

Other than the fact that we have now caught the Iranians red-handed killing Americans in Iraq and that the Iranians have made plain that they have no intention of foregoing their nuclear ambitions, what has changed in the last six months to suddenly transform these uncompromising, murdering extremists into negotiation material?

The only answer I can think of is what I stated above, that the administration is in full pander mode.

Talking vs Negotiating

Let's get one thing out of the way right now; there's a difference between "talking" and "negotiating". We "talk" with everyone. This is something you do in the back room of the a third party embassy somewhere in a rarely-traveled corner of the world. I'm certain we're "talking" with Iran right now, using the back room of the Canadian embassy in Madrid or something like that. Secret trips also count, such as when Kissinger's secret trip to China in 1971.

But when people say "negotiate" they mean the public stuff that occurs when high-ranking diplomats disappear behind closed doors and come out to a throng of journalists eagerly snapping photos and pushing microphones in their faces. This is a whole 'nother matter.

Defined this way, you simply don't enter into negotiations unless you're pretty sure of what the result is going to be. So when President Nixon made his public trip to China in 1972, he knew what was going to happen because Kissinger had laid the groundwork the year before.

But walking into high-level negotiations without this groundwork is like walking onto a minefield. This is what happened in 1986 when Reagan and Gorbachev got together at Reykjavik Iceland. The whole thing essentially blew up, and each came home to bad press. In the long run I think it became clear that Reagan got the better of Gorbachev, but my point is the danger in entering into high-level negotiations when the groundwork has not been properly laid.

What Do You Even Say To Them?

For those who say that we should negotiate with Iran I have one simple question; what exactly are we supposed to say to them?

I ask honestly, because for the life of me I don't know. "Please stop sending weapons into Iran"? "Please stop your nuclear weapons program"?

Negotiations can only succeed when there is the possibility of reaching common ground. Each side gives a little, and in the end the end you meet somewhere inbetween. But the US and Iran have diametrically opposed views on the future of the Middle East. The US wants a pluralistic Iraq, the better which to spread liberty around the region and thus combat jihadism. Yes, we also want a steady supply of oil but we'd pretty much get that in any event (they've got to sell it to someone. An embargo hurts them in the long run too). Iran wants to create a Khumeinist superstate that can compete the Sunni jihadists. I do not see the possibility of meaningful agreement.

If any commenters can enlighten me please do so. I insist, however, that you avoid generalities and tell me exactly what you would say and how you think they'd react.

There's a fierce debate going on right now over at The Corner on just this. Andrew Stuttaford says that we should negotiate with Iran, and the others are beating him up over it. Mark Levin asks essentially the same question that I put to Stuttaford in an email today; "So, Andrew, I'm curious, these discussions you argue for, what what you say and to whom?" Stuttaford hasn't responded yet, and I'll be at CPAC the rest of this week so might not be able to check aback for awhile. However, Andy McCarthy has posted a hilarious parody of how talks might go.

Meanwhile

Iran continues to ship arms to the terrorist insurgents in Iraq. I'm sure the far left is dismissing this evidence because "Bush lied!" on WMD.

Two weeks ago the Financal Times published an internal European Union document in which officials conclude that negotiations with Iran will probably fail and that "at some stage we must expect that Iran will acquire the capacity to enrich uranium on the scale required for a weapons programme."

Just thought you'd like to know.


Posted by Tom at 7:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 27, 2007

How the "Plan for Success in Iraq" is Progressing

From what I can tell we seem to have a situation in Baghdad whereby sectarian violence has significantly decreased, while al Qaeda continues it's campaign of terror.

The headline of the Stars and Stripes article cited by Bill Roggio in his daily report tells it all: "Military: Attacks down in Baghdad, but too early to predict trend". Bomb attacks are down 20%, "reporting of sectarian murders is at the lowest level in almost a year", and "coalition commanders at all levels remain cautiously optimistic". Insurgents are still keeping up their attacks, with deadly bombings and killings making daily headlines.

The Mahdi Army is being slowly dismantled. Whether it is permanently destroyed or only temporarily disabled remains to be seen. Nevertheless, US and Iraqi Army pressure on them has been a major factor in decreasing the violence.

Exactly how much the violence has been reduced is a matter of some dispute, of course, StrategyPage says it's down 70%, but whatever the figure it is significant. Some of the reduction in violence could simply be because the bad guys are keeping their heads down for awhile, as Iraq the Model suggested last week. But this is still good. If we can keep their heads down long enough we can root them out and bring them to justice.

But we may have reached a "fundamental turning point in the war", as Richard Engel characterized it last week, because the Shiite-Sunni fighting has slowed, the Shiite miltias are not active, and it's now the Sunnis who are trying to attack everyone.

The point is that you can't have a political solution until the security situation is stabilized. So when or if the militias try to come back they'll be met not only by a stronger Iraqi Army but the political will among the Iraqi leadership to use it.

Before we go to far, though, lets step back for a moment.

First, if you're not clear on the new plan, and think that it's just sending more troops to do the same thing in a "surge", stop and go read the actual plan. Here's the unclassified version: "A Plan for Success in Iraq". Download and read the whole thing.

Second, let's quickly review the four wars that are going on in Iraq

1) Shia v. Shia in the South
2) U.S. v. al Qaeda in Anbar
3) Shia v. Sunni in the Shia ethnic cleansing campaign in Baghdad
4) Sunni extremists v. Shia (and everyone else) in its car-bombing/suicide bombing campaign

From what I understand Baghdad #3 is the most important, followed by Anbar #2. #4 comes in as the third biggest problem followed by the Shia vs Shia violence in the South.

In terms of making progress, the Marines have been doing well in Anbar, and as already stated it's so far so good in Baghdad. Stopping the bombing campaign will prove the most difficult, but is just as important because it generates such unfavorable headlines. Not to short-shrift the South, but compared to the other problems it's just going to have to wait.

Whatever one thinks about previous efforts to quell the capital, the good news is that our national civilian and military leaders seem to realize that this time they have to get it right. Mohammed of Iraq the Model noted after his tour of the city last Friday that "the buildup of troops in the capital seems to be incremental and increasing by the day giving a steadily growing sense of the seriousness of the operation."

This seriousness is not just an impression. Austin Bay reports that Iraqi Prime Minister "Maliki understands the United States will no longer wait for Sadr's dissipation." Other observations by Bay:

"The relentless, focused targeting of Shia and Sunni extremist organizations is a far more important feature of what Iraqis are calling "the new security plan" than more U.S. troops" "Attacks on Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army have been the most public examples of "focused targeting." "Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the new security plan is the increased aggressiveness of the Iraqi Army as it conducts counterinsurgent operations.

Rich Lowry's “Pentagon intel guy” wrote him a very interesting email which he posted on The Corner today:

1) Definite and measurable decrease in number of sectarian killings within Baghdad: From nearly 1,400 to 680 in the last two months.

2) We are killing and capturing increasing numbers of Sunni insurgents and Al Qaeda fighters. And when I say "we"- I mean Multi-National Forces Iraq as well as the Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Police Commando, and the newer "National Guard"/Territorial Forces in Anbar.

3) The recent bombings in ANBAR demonstrate red on red kinetic operations. Something which has been rare until the last few months. More and more Sunni tribes are pledging fealty to the Iraqi government and the Coalition and turning their back on the insurgents/AQI. This has caused them to be targeted.

We have seen the enemy bomb police recruitment drives, and now mosques of "apostate" Imams and Sheikhs who have sided with the Americans. This has happened twice in the last week. While the mainstream media considers this more proof of failure- it is actually a sign of the precarious position the terrorists are in. They need the Sunni population to protect them and shelter them. If they are now butchering them like everyone else- this could be a turning point in the relationship. This is crucial to watch. We need to protect the tribal leaders who have come over to us- and AQI knows that it is a death sentence for them if they can't stop it.

Take it for what it's worth, but it seems to tie into everything else I'v read; cautious optimism.

Meanwhile, the enemy continues to target our helicopters. Their objective is TV drama,a nd they're getting it. They know that dramatic things play well on TV and demoralize the American public. Note that I'm using this to criticize the media, it is part of the Clauswitzian "friction" that we just have to live with. It is what it is.

Also in the department of cautious is Sen Jon Kyle's (R-AZ) report on his recent visit to Iraq

Based on face-to-face meetings with U.S. troops and our top military commanders on the ground, as well as Iraqi officials in Baghdad, I took away three key points.

First, both the Iraqi leaders and Americans we met expressed cautious optimism about the new Baghdad Security Plan, and all believed that it was already showing some signs of working....

The second message I took away from our trip was that we cannot micromanage this war from the U.S. Congress....

Finally, I left the Middle East with a growing concern over the pernicious role Iran plays in the region.....

I returned home from this trip more convinced that stabilizing Iraq is the only acceptable outcome in this struggle, and that the president's new strategy is our best opportunity for achieving it.

Beyond the military news, we have cautiously optimistic news on the political front as well. A long-sought agreement between the various parties on sharing Iraqi oil revinue has finally been reached. The NY Times reported today that "the Iraqi Cabinet approved a draft of a law on Monday that would set guidelines for nationwide distribution of oil revenues and foreign investment in the immense oil industry."

To be sure, it still has a long way to go before it's enacted into law, but at least the negotiators have struck a deal. Nevertheless, it is good news because each step represents progress. As Andy McCarthy commented on The Corner, it "could very well be a key turning point in Iraq's road to stability." More fundamentally,

An elemental objection of many of us democracy-project skeptics has been whether the Iraqis really view themselves as a single country with a common destiny. The jury is still very much out on that, but a path to success is clear: the three major factions have to come together not to sing kumbaya but to solve difficult national challenges jointly.

And just to put it all in perspective, StrategyPage reminds us that "here are over a dozen wars going on in Africa, and the daily death count far exceeds that of Iraq" and that "the murder rate in South Africa is higher than in Iraq." Ouch. Now is not the place to review the horror of Sudan or Congo, but they are issues that we need to address, and ones that the "international community" has no interest in taking on. Anyone who thinks our venture in Iraq to be difficult need only take a look at a map of either of the aforementioned countries.

Finally, we'll take a look at Sen Lieberman's much commented on editorial that appeared in Monday's Opinion Journal. As always, he lays out the stakes with a clarity not seen among many of his colleagues these days. He reviews the progress that we have been making and stresses that Gen Petraeus must be given time to make the new plan work. He concludes:

I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to step back and think carefully about what to do next. Instead of undermining Gen. Petraeus before he has been in Iraq for even a month, let us give him and his troops the time and support they need to succeed....

We are at a critical moment in Iraq--at the beginning of a key battle, in the midst of a war that is irretrievably bound up in an even bigger, global struggle against the totalitarian ideology of radical Islamism. However tired, however frustrated, however angry we may feel, we must remember that our forces in Iraq carry America's cause--the cause of freedom--which we abandon at our peril.

The situation is grave, and the hour late. But in a series of posts I hope to start next week I am going to lay out in some detail the full extent to which the jihadist enemy threatens our nation, and indeed the entire West. I hinted at some of the danger with my reviews of Melanie Phillips Londonstan and Mark Steyn's America Alone, but in this next series I'll go even farther in explaining who the jihadists are and their sophisticated strategies for achieving their goals.

Later this week I'll be at CPAC, so the next several posts will be about what I see and hear there. Hopefully I'll have some good photos too. After that I'll get started on the jihadist threat. Stay tuned.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 25, 2007

Adopt-a-Platoon

Our troops need your support more now than ever.

Adopt-a-Platoon is an organization that offers many ways you can support our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. I've been sending weeky letters and/or packages to soldiers and Marines through them for a few years now so I know they're a good outfit.

Please go to their site and see if one of their programs fits the level of support that you can provide. You do not have to adopt an entire platoon of 50 troops. They have different levels of individual troop support, and have both recurring and one-time programs.

If you're already involved in one or more campaigns through this or any other organization, then God bless you for your efforts. If not, please go visit Adopt-a-Platoon and check out the ways you can support our troops.

Posted by Tom at 8:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 22, 2007

Feel Good Politics

Several congressmen from both sides of the isle have introduced something called the Armenian Genocide Resolution(House Resolution 106). There are some 150 bipartisan co-sponsors.

You can read the full text of the resolution by following the link above, but here is it's "Declaration of Policy"

The House of Representatives—

(1) calls upon the President to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide and the consequences of the failure to realize a just resolution; and

(2) calls upon the President in the President’s annual message commemorating the Armenian Genocide issued on or about April 24, to accurately characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians as genocide and to recall the proud history of United States intervention in opposition to the Armenian Genocide.

I'm going to take a leap and say that the House should not be in the business of passing resolutions of this sort. It is simply feel-good politics and selective indignation.

Just so we're clear, we're talking about something that happened between 1915 and 1917. Here's the Wikipedia entry on it, which I suppose is as good a description of what happened as any.

I see nothing good coming from this resolution. Genocide, or for that matter murder or mass-forced deportation, is certainly to be condemned. But if we're going to pass resolutions condeming this atrocity, why stop there? How many murderous campaigns go on in Africa every year that we vitually ignore?

It has become fashionable these days for people who haven't done anything wrong to apologize to people who haven't been at least directly harmed. President Clinton famously apologized for slavery while in Africa, not knowing or not caring that the Africans themselves were complicit in the crime.

It's all very fine to become indigant and say that "We cannot let realpolitik dictate truth", as Jules Boyadjian of the Armenian Youth Federation France says in a letter printed in the Washington Times today. I understand that Armenians do not want what happened to them to be forgotten. Their organizations deserve to be heard, and we should all become educated on what happened.

By the same token such education should occur in the private sector. Government should become involved only when the atrocity is ongoing or might happen again, for example when the killers are still in office. We should use our power to stop murder and/or punish the perpetrators whenever possible. We should also be generous to victims who survive.

No one who committed the Armenian massacre is alive. No one who was directly harmed is alive. Reasonable people may say that the next generation was harmed and deserves compenstation too, but surely everyone would agree that at some point decendants are not really affected anymore, at least not to the degree that requires government conpensation. We wouldn't compensate descendants of the Anglos, Saxons, or Judes even if we could find them.

Who is beind this resolution? According to a Washington Times editorial on Tuesday, "H. Res. 106 has far more to do with the power of ethnic lobbies" than anything else. Armenian and Greek lobbying organizations in the US are simply out to settle a score with Turkey, and don't care about the consequences.

As Soner Cagaptay points out in today's Washington Times, US-Turkish relations will be seriously harmed if this resolution passes. Among other things, the large Air Base at Incirlik in southern Turkey, is an invaluable asset that we might well lose if this resolution goes though. France passed an "Armenian Resolution" last year, and the Turks have cut military relations with them. To be sure, it's one thing to do without the Frence militay and quite another to be without US protection, but the point is that there should be no doubt that the Turks would retailiate.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems unaware of all this. She supports this resolution. Just as she and her fellows think that passing resolutions against the "surge" will have no effect on the morale of our troops or of the enemy, they seem to think that they can pass this resolution with out serious consequences.

We should also remember that as imperfect as it is, Turkey is the world's only secular Muslim democracy. Some Turks say that what happened in 1915 was not genocide but more a forced deportation to Syria. My guess is that this is mostly cover-up, and that while some of it was deportation there was also a lot of murder. Either way, as the Times editorial points out, passing a congressional resolution would mean that our government is passing judgement on Turkish history. Given that the event in question happened 90 years ago, I don't think we as a government ought to be involved.

But the Democrats, and some Republicans, want to feel good about themselves. They want to pat themselves on the back and say "look at us, we're good people because we condemn genocide". This is feel-good politics and should be avoided. This resolution should not be passed.

Posted by Tom at 8:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 21, 2007

Iran and the Bomb - Can they Be Stopped?

There are those who take a "what me worry?" approach to Iran.

Like Newsweek, for example. Their cover-story "Rumors of War" is an exercise in denial that will please many a liberal heart. Take this passage, quoted by Victor Davis Hanson on NRO

The secret history of the Bush administration's dealings with Iran is one of arrogance, mistrust and failure.

By Newsweek's account, Iran helped stabilize Afghanistan after the US invasion. To Iranian "reformers", "9/11 was a blessing in disguise". All these many years, you see, they "wished to offer an olive branch to the United States."

To Newsweek authors Michael Hirsh and Maziar Bahari, there are no problems that cannot be negotiated away. The Iranian leaders wish us no harm, and "have reason to feel paranoid" because "senior American officers have condemned Tehran for providing training and deadly explosives to insurgents"

Apparently agreeing, Sen Clinton now demands the President Bush get Congressional approval before using any force on Iran. Her husband had no such qualms, bombing Serbia in 1999 without either approval from Congress or the UN.

Blech.

Back to the real world. The Financial Times has a must-read piece in which the authors say that it may be too late to stop Iran from obtaining the bomb

Iran will be able to develop enough weapons-grade material for a nuclear bomb and there is little that can be done to prevent it, an internal European Union document has concluded.
In an admission of the international community’s failure to hold back Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the document – compiled by the staff of Javier Solana, EU foreign policy chief – says the atomic programme has been delayed only by technical limitations rather than diplomatic pressure. “Attempts to engage the Iranian administration in a negotiating process have not so far succeeded,” it states. ...

The admission is a blow to hopes that a deal with Iran can be reached and comes at a sensitive time, when tensions between the US and Tehran are rising. Its implication that sanctions will prove ineffective will also be unwelcome to EU diplomats. Only yesterday the bloc agreed on how to apply United Nations sanctions on Tehran, overcoming a dispute between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar.

So it would appear that those who believe that negotiations and sanctions will convince Iran to give up it's nuclear program are wrong.

It's hard to overstate the danger of a nuclear Iran. In a previous piece I outlined what I thought would happen if we let Iran get the bomb. I laid out three scenarios. In the first, there was no general war, but other countries in the region went nuclear and everyone held their breath. The other two involve war, one more severe than the other.

has two excellent articles on ths subject that appeared in the Jerusalem Post recently. In the first, Daniel Elfrati explains the the financial costs of an IDF attack on Iran, and in the second, Anshel Pfeffer, lays outthe cost to the IDF of maintaining a nuclear deterance.

Unfortunately, most of the current talk about Iran focuses on the extremes; negotiations and sanctions or a direct military attack. There are many measures inbetween these that we should be pursuing. I laid out a whole range of options in a post last September.

There was one that I seem to have missed. I heard this from Glenn Beck last week:

Vice-President Cheney visited Saudi Arabia last November. There was a meeting of the OPEC ministers shortly thereafte. At this meeting other countries wanted to drop production to raise the price, but the Saudis said no. Rather, they boosted production and of course prices went down, if only slightly. For geological reasons Iranian oil is expensive to drill for and pump out. It requires sophisticated equipment which is hard to obtain.

Obviously we won't sell them what they need. We persuaded Canada and Japan to forgo sales to Iran also.

All of this means that Iranian oil is only profitable to drill is the price of oil is high.

Given this, Iran knows that their time is limited. They're accelerating their work on the bomb. They're going to Russia fcor help. The Russian NSA advisor met with their top Ayatollah/ or a top Ayatollah. With a lagging economy,Russia wants no part of sanctions on Iran.

I don't have time to do much research this but, did find one article that lends credence to Beck's theory. I certainly hope so.

We need to stop Iran, and there are more options than the extremes of negotiations/ sanctions and direct military attack. Serious people can disagree on what exactly we need to do, as long as we agree that our current strategy doesn't stand much chance of success and that it is imperative that we do stop Iran. What we don't need are Newsweek articles like the one cited above.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Is it a Temporary Turnaround?

For what it's worth, there was this post on The Corner yesterday:

“A Fundamental Turning Point In The War” [Rich Lowry]

That's how Richard Engel characterized the surge last night on “Hardball.” Here's his take:

Chris, right now there is a fundamental turning point in the war. For the first three years, roughly, U.S. troops were fighting Sunnis and were fighting mostly a Sunni insurgency. Then after that Samarra attack last February, almost one year ago to the day, the Shiite militia groups which had been gaining strength on the ground could not take it any more. They have been absorbing so much abuse that after that attack they decided that was it and they started attacking everyone.

The Shiite militias started attacking Sunnis, they started attacking U.S. forces, also any local shop owners. Anyone who wasn‘t agreeing with them.

Then—now there is a new fundamental shift. The Shiite militias have decided to go to ground. Have stopped fighting for the time being. They are going try to and wait it out. And it is the Sunnis who are now in the forefront and are trying to attack both Americans and to attack the Shiites to get them back into the fight so they don‘t just sit back and consolidate their power.

Now, there are a couple of things to say about this. 1) It shows how fluid and dynamic the war is. An influx of a couple of thousand U.S. troops pursuing a different strategy has already caused a change in the nature of the war. 2) Doesn't this mean the Democrats have to rest the “caught in a civil war” soundbite? We are basically back to fighting the Sunni insurgency again, a much less complex, but still extremely difficult proposition. 3) The militias are pursuing a sensible strategy to duck and cover and come back when we leave. But, if we can get the security situation under control, the political environment might be very different when the militias try to come back. The government might have more legitimacy, and the military forces more capability, making it harder for the militias to occupy the space they had before.

But, of course, all this depends on us actually getting the security situation under control.

Ditto that. It also depends on the political situation here at home. Gen Petraeus only has a short time to show concrete results or the Democrats, followed by some Republicans, are going to pull the plug on the whole thing.

Posted by Tom at 8:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2007

Walter Reed FReep #96 - The Bus Stops Here

Instead of "The Bus Stops here" I could well have titled this AAR "Freeping on a Glacier". Last week we had a typical Washington DC area winter storm; sleet and snow. During the day it partially melts, and at night freezes rock-hard. This time, after only about one day of partial melting, the temperature stayed below freezing even during the day, unusual for around here. The result was that any driveway or parking lot that didn't get plowed on Wednesday had turned into a glacier by the weekend. Cars that didn't get cleaned off were encased in ice.

The parking lot were we set up our base of operations was like a skating rink.

Honor role of attendees for this week's FReep: tgslTakoma, Tom the Redhunter; VAFlagWaver; Kristinn, Albion Wilde, Mr & Mrs Trooprally, Lurker Bill, Cindy-true-supporter, Just A Nobody, TFroatz, , Fraxinus, Nina0113, FReeper Black Republican(Adam below), Olney-Keith, and about 10 students from the George Washington University College Republicans!

Mr Trooprally took shovel and pickaxe in hand to work at clearing the area on the sidewalk where we stand to greet the cars coming out of the base entrance. He's looking a bit tired just thinking about it!

Mr Trooprally provides a narrative

"[Mrs] T and I arrived at 6PM and pulled into an icy parking lot, wondering who was standing next to the entrance. Upon getting out into the low 20 degree air, we met a cold Lurker Adam. He hasn't been at WR for a while, but he was dressed warmer than in the past. Some greetings and he got into the jeep to warm up while I unloaded the shovel and salt. The driveway up to the parking lot was salted down. Before we could start clearing the corners of ice pack, a call came in from Nina0113 . She was at the Metro station, cold and needing a ride. Leaving [Mrs] T and Adam there in the cold (they didn't know how to get to Metro station), I left to get Nina . ...

Returning with Nina, I saw [Mrs] T and Adam had a good start on the NE corner. [Mrs] T got into the jeep with Nina while Adam and I proceeded to clear and salt the other four corners. As other FReepers arrived, they helped in enlarging the cleared areas."

TFroatz and Fraxinus also put in a lot of effort at pickaxing the sidewalks. Thank you guys!

Here are Lurker Adam and Mr Trooprally cleaning the NE corner, the one directly across from the main entrance:

We quickly put up the flags and got our our signs. It was far too windy for the MOAB, but the flip side of that was that the flags look great flying in all that breeze.

Here are tgslTakoma, Kristinn & TFroatz standing on frozen snow while setting out flags

Cindy_True_Supporter and Nina0113 are all bundled up on the NE corner. The first thing you learn about FReeping in cold weather is that you don't dress for the first hour, but for the last! Chemical pack hand warmers are a must

I took up a station by Lurker Bill on the SE corner and we soon started receiving our usual high quota of friendly waves and honks from passing cars. Many are police cars, and one lady officer used the car's loudspeaker to say "Thank you for coming out to support the troops!"

Sometimes cars will stop and speak with us briefly. On this evening one of the cars coming out of the hospital stopped by the NE and spoke with Olney-Keith and Albion Wilde, and say "thank you" for being outside in the cold to lift the spirits of those inside. He said he was a Vietnam vet who worked with new troopers who had just arrived from the war zone (which could be Iraq or Afghanistan). He helped them through their issues.

Here is Olney-Keith's account of the encounter:

Kristinn and I were standing on the NE corner and a car exited WR and stopped along side the two of us. He reported that he had been wounded in Vietnam and visits the troops often. He wanted all of us to know that even though we might not actually see or meet many of the soldiers, they know FR will be standing guard every Friday night. He said it does volumes to the psyche of the troops. I was also present when the soldier who lost an eye said he is planning on going back to Iraq. I'm 32 years old and I almost broke down right there on that street corner.

Later that evening, while standing at the NW corner, VAFlagWaver, Mr Trooprally and I met a young soldier who was coming back to the hospital. He said that he appreciated what we were doing, we told him that we appreciated his service, and we shook our hands. He said that he had lost an eye but was still going back to Iraq in a non-combat role. Far from feeling depressed over his redeployment, he seemed proud of his service and that he was going back. What an amazing bunch they are, and how fortunate as a nation we are to have them protecting us.

Here are Lurker Bill(foreground) and I greeting the cars on the SE corner


And here's Olney-Keith holding down the NE corner


Meantime, here are VAFlagWaver(foreground) and I on the opposite corner


The "Young Pubs" Arrive!

At around 9:15 about 10 members of the GW College Republicans arrived to take up stations around the four corners. No matter the cold, they add a burst of energy to the FReep!



And Here is the Obligatory Picture...

...of the sad bunch of Pinkos down the street. They don't fool anyone with their "vigil" sign. It's an anti-war, anti-troops protest plain and simple.


The Buses Arrive - and Stop!

As the buses came up Georgia Avenue this time I noticed something unusual; they were in the right lane. In order to turn into the hospital they should be in the left lane, I thought. Surely they'll move over to the center.

But they didn't. Rather than put on their turning signals they turned on their flashers and stopped right in front of Lurker Bill's corner. At the time I was on the opposite corner with VAFlagWaver

"Well isn't this interesting", I thought. Something's up.

After stopping I noticed someone getting out of each bus and walk up to the FReepers on the corner. Then I saw Mrs Trooprally and tgslTakoma get onto the big bus.

The troops and their familes just wanted to say "Thank You" to us for greeting them every Friday. The feeling was quite mutual!

Here is the gathering outside the big bus:


And here is Mr Trooprally getting onto the small bus


This is hardly the first time we've heard these sentiments from the troops and their families. We're heard it hundreds of times over the past 18 months. Anyone reading this who thinks that our standing outside doesn't mean anything and that it's all for show doesn't know what they're talking about. Word has spread far and wide about our rallies inside the hospital, and indeed in Iraq as well.


Here's the view from inside the bus as tgslTakoma and Mrs Trooprally speak with the troops and their families:


Cindy-True-Supporter sends this account:

"I had the great opportunity to get on the small bus along with tgsTakoma. It was a trill to be able to express our appreciation of their sacrifice and service. The addition I made to Takoma's very heartfelt expression of love and thanks, was that we reprecent a strong support group across the nation. I wanted them to know that there are tens of thousands of very supportive, true Americans that respect, value and realize the job they've done.

They are increditably, amazing, selfless individuals.
Words just can't express what I feel about them."

One more of the scene at the corner. Mr Trooprally is getting on the small bus. Lurker Bill is at left beside his sign.


During all this VAFlagwaver and I decided to stay where we were because sooner or later the buses would pull into the entrance and it would be good if they could see people on all four corners.

In the face of all that our troops do for us in Iraq, Afghanistan, and all around the world, if we can lift their spirits a little by doing what we do ourside Walter Reed it's worth it times a hundred to stand outside for a few hours.

Acknowledgements and More

Don't be shy! We'd love to have you with us one evening! If you'd like more details please send FReepmail to me or any of the other participants.

* A special Thank You to Mrs Trooprally for taking the photos for this AAR. All of her photos for this FReep can be viewed here.

* Thank you also to BufordP for maintaining the BIG LIST of all Walter Reed FReeps

* Tom the Redhunter blogs at The Redhunter

This post can also be viewed on FreeRepublic.

Update

Mr Trooprally provided this additional commentary about the buses:

"My best decision in a while was tonight, when I joined Lurker Bill on the southeast corner. He was by himself, holding the banner's supports because the wind was playing havoc with all the banners. He was partially hidden by a tall traffic signal box and was behind some cars, not nearly as visible as he normally is. And there was no flag on his corner. While there, a car drove by and yelled to those on the NE corner that the buses were coming. We eagerly watched for the buses, knowing that soon we'll be breaking down and getting warm.

Several buses stopped two blocks from us and several feeble, unsure calls that the Walter Reed buses were in view were heard. But they stopped two blocks away. Are they OUR buses or metro buses? The first looked white, but the wind kept our eyes watering and unclear. I'm not sure about the others, but Lurker Bill and I were confused.

Then they started up and came towards us, the yells of "buses, buses" now being loudly heard among the FReepers. Strangely, the inside lights that normally go on when they are several hundred feet from us, didn't come on, and they were in the wrong lane to turn into WR. Now we were really confused. Do we all have hypothermia and are hallucinating?

Then the buses stopped!! With the small bus besides Lurker Bill and me! Jeez, we were dumb founded as what was going on. The inside lights came on and the door to the both bus opened. We waved to the troops inside, getting eager waves back. We were again surprised that the driver motioned for us to come over. Lurker Bill couldn't let go of the banner support so I walked over to see what was up.

At that time, a lady from the big came over and said several of us can go onto the buses. There is a GOD!! I called over to the other corner and they quickly came over. The lady tried to say that only two or three could get on, but the FReepers and Young Republicans overwhelmed the buses.

[Mrs] T, I and a Young Republican were among the first of our group to get onto the big bus. Once we got up the steps, the troops and their families erupted into a loud round of applause for us, FOR THE FREEPERS, LURKERS AND OTHERS WHO STAND THERE EVERY FRIDAY NIGHT! (one minute, screen getting blurry just like Friday night). I mean, everyone on the bus was applauding for their FRiday night supporters who braved a few hours of cold while their lives have been changed forever. Looking down the inside of the bus at the troops, it looked like it went on forever with clapping troops. Overwhelming is the only way I can describe it.

Being surprised and not being as quick as our silver-tongue Kristinn, I didn't say anything memorable, just that we support them. [Mrs] T did better than I did and thanked them for their sacrifice, telling them that Friday nights are the least we can do for them. It seemed that those who got to talk to the soldiers said something different, so they received real heart-felt words. No talking points here.

We didn't forget Lurker Bill. I offered to hold the banner for him so he could go into the buses. He graciously declined. I guess with the swarm of Freepers already there, he felt he didn't need to go. Lurker Bill is a real stand-up person. At both WR and at Olney he puts up the blue banner, most of the time by himself, and holds his post in all types of weather, and quietly leaves afterwards. He is also part of Soldiers' Angels.

[Mrs] T and I were also able to get onto the little bus and thank the troops. When [Mrs] T mentioned that our Marine son was soon to go to Iraq, they wished him the best of luck."

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 18, 2007

Copperheads in Congress

copperhead1.gif


I don't suppose there's anyone in their right mind today who couldn't imagine not fighting to free people imprisoned in the hell of slavery, especially when it's happening on your own soil.

And if you're like me, when you were younger and less well-read you had this view of events like the American Revolution, Civil War (from the North's perspective), and World War II as glorious crusades in which "of course" we were all in it together.

But it were the truth. Most history books will tell you that only about 1/3 of the colonists supported independence, another 1/3 were loyal to the crown, and the last 1/3rd just didn't care. Up until Dec 7 1941 up to 80% of Americans wanted nothing to do with aiding the British in any shape way or form. Yet who today could imagine not wanting to fight the Nazis?

We all know, I suppose, that the North stumbled many times in the road to victory. Lincoln went through general after general before he found one who could consistently win. And then after the victories of early 1863, came the losses of later in that year and early 1864.

The Federal Army was unable to fill it's ranks with volunteers and resorted to a draft, which proved so unpopular that riots broke out in New York City over it. Many northern Democrats, disappointed in the way the war was being conducted, decided that it wasn't worth it.

These "peace Democrats" became known as Copperheads. By 1864 they had gained effective control of their party.

There was a presidential election in 1864. From the Democrat Party Platform:


Resolved, That this convention does explicitly declare, as the sense of the American people, that after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of war, during which, under the pretense of a military necessity of war-power higher than the Constitution, the Constitution itself has been disregarded in every part, and public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of the country essentially impaired, justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view of an ultimate convention of the States, or other peaceable means, to the end that, at the earliest practicable moment, peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union of the States.

Amazing, isn't it? Yet it's true; the "peace Democrats" of 1864 wanted an immediate end to the fighting and a negotiated peace that would undoubtably have left slavery in peace. Today's Democrats want an immediate withdrawal regardless of consequences, which would be a huge victory for the jihadists.

As with the Civil War Copperheads, today's variety think that they have the public behind them. They are convinced that the results of the last election "prove" that the American people want an unconditional withdrawal. But as a poll published in Investor's Business Daily points out, it isn't that simple (hat tip Power Line)

IBD%20poll%20Surrender%20Nuts.gif

From the accompanying editorial

The party of John Murtha shamelessly seeks to defund and defeat U.S. troops on the battlefield and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Congress the terrorists wanted is doing their bidding ...

As we've noted on several occasions, Democratic talk of "redeployment" has encouraged terrorist groups around the world.

Jihad Jaara, a senior member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, said before the 2006 vote: "Americans should vote Democratic," adding that "it is time the American people support those who want to take them out of the Iraqi mud." The statement could have come from Murtha, Kerry, Hillary or any number of Democrats.

We find it scary that the Democratic and terrorist game plans are indistinguishable.

I'd say that's about right. I'm reading Walid Phares' Future Jihad, which is the best book I've read on the terrorists period. He lays it out just as IBD says; that one of OBL's objectives was to get us to become divided and fight each other. Critics will say that it's all President Bush's fault, that if only we hadn't invaded Iraq we'd all be in it together.

Hogwash. The left would still object to the Patriot Act and Gitmo. Take Iraq out of it and the right and left still have fundamentally different views of what the war is even about. The right sees it as a war against fundamentalist Islam, and the left sees it as a police action against criminals. But more on that when I review Phares' book.

John Murtha has become the chief Copperhead and his plan for our defeat is in full swing. The Washington Times explained on Friday that

When the House votes today on the resolution denouncing Mr. Bush's plans for additional troops to combat al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Iraq, members should be under no illusions about what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership are trying to do: to make it impossible for American troops to properly do their job in Iraq. In an interview yesterday with MoveCongress.org, a Web site for a coalition of anti-war groups, Mr. Murtha, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, explained that by placing conditions on $93.4 billion in new combat funds, he would make be able to effectively stop the troops in their tracks. "They won't be able to continue. They won't be able to do the deployment. They won't have the equipment, they don't have the training and they won't be able to do the work. There's no question in my mind," Mr. Murtha said.

"We will set benchmarks for readiness," a top Democratic leadership aide told the nonpartisan Politico.com Web site, which summarized the Democrats' strategy this way: "If enacted, these provisions would have the effect of limiting the number of troops available for the Bush surge plan, while blunting the GOP charge that Democrats are cutting funding for the troops in Iraq."

No one should be fooled by Murtha's "readyness standards". They're fraudulent and everyone knows it. If you don't believe me listen to what Murtha himself said as quoted by the IBD article

"We're trying to force a redeployment not by taking money away, (but) by redirecting money,"

The Democrats, and some Republicans, don't just think that the Keane-Kagan plan, "A Plan for Success in Iraq", around which the "surge" is based, won't work, they're trying to ensure that it won't . It's shameful enough that they've given our most vicious enemies aid and comfort with their stupid resolutions, now they're trying to pull the rug out from under our troops feet too.

Copperheads, all of them.

Posted by Tom at 9:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 17, 2007

The War The "Allies" Are Supposed To Support

I thought that Iraq was the bad war, but that we were all supposed to agree on the need to win in Afghanistan. So why this AP story "NATO allies question Afghan troop surge"?

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is getting a lukewarm response to his plea for NATO allies to send more troops and aid for a spring offensive in
Afghanistan

In his first meeting of NATO defense ministers, Gates said the U.S. made no additional commitments for more troops of its own. Gates recently extended the tour of a brigade in Afghanistan, where the U.S. has 27,000 troops — the most since the war began in 2001.

U.S. and NATO military leaders in recent months have repeatedly called on alliance members to send reinforcements and lift restrictions on where their troops can serve. On Thursday, Gates secured smaller offers from some nations, but he met resistance from key allies.

France and Germany are questioning the wisdom of sending more soldiers, while Spain, Italy and Turkey have also been wary of providing more troops.

Well isn't that special.

So what excuse reason did our "allies" give?

"When the Russians were in Afghanistan, they had 100,000 soldiers there and they did not win," German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung told reporters.

Well no, but they were trying to make the place one of their communist-ruled satellites. If you think Afghan Muslims(the only kind there are) are wary of the US, try an athiest ideology. In case the good German Minister didn't notice, we more or less let the Afghans set up their own government and rule themselves. We're also funding the reconstruction of their country. So it's not the same.

This is not the first time we've been betrayed by NATO. I first reported on this in September, quoting Stanely Kurtz who wrote on The Corner that

This is not a matter of military incapacity. It is a deliberate refusal of our so-called allies to fight. Supposedly, Europe was with us on Afghanistan. Who but the most radical leftists and pacifists opposed that action? Yet our NATO allies are plainly unwilling to involve themselves in a fight that they themselves said was justified and necessary. If Afghanistan collapses, it will prove that Europe has entirely lost the will to fight.

Just a few weeks ago the Bush Administration requested$10 billion more for Afghanistan, and agreed to send more troops there ourselves to show that we were willing to step it up as well. In fact, 3,200 troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade are being diverted from Iraq to Afghanistan. Yet our "allies" have refused to commit more money or troops.

I thought that Afghanistan was the war that we were all supposed to agree was the one we had to win?

Some will no doubt say that the reason why the Europe won't contribute more troops or money is bad diplomacy by President Bush. If that's the case then our "allies" are operating at the grade-school level; "please talk nice to us or we don't do the right thing". And they want us to listen to their advice on what to do about Iran?

So rather than pass stupid and harmful resolutions in Congress, maybe our lawmakers could spend their time trying to find ways to get Europe to help us a little bit.

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

February 15, 2007

The Mahdi Army Crumbling?

We've all seen the stories that firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has fled to Iran in the face of US and Iraqi Army attacks on his Mahdi Army. Wherever he is, he's certainly in hiding. This leaves his forces without a leader. The word from StrategyPage is that they're melting into the population, trying to avoid the onslaught. Further, it's not just al-Sadr that has fled, many of his lieutenants have also.

As Rich Lowry pointed out today over at The Corner, this puts the lie to the notion that there's no military solution for Iraq. Those who say that only a political solution will work have it exactly backwards; the security situation must be stabilized before any political solution is possible.

Ralph Peters explains how "Mookie's" cowardace will cost him politically because his soldiers will not want to fight for a leader who cannot stand with them.

It's going to be hard for him to maintain his image as an Iraqi nationalist after running to mommy back in Qom or Tehran. To be fair, the Mookster hasn't always done Iran's bidding in the past - but now he's going to owe the Shiraz Sopranos.

Oh, and that trusted source tells me that Mookie's not the only bad actor who's fled the country - he's the marquee act, but the supporting cast took off, too. Leaving the chumps with the push-brooms to deal with the mess.
...

What's changed? Plenty. Mookie's probably sensed that President Bush is cornered politically and, with little left to lose, isn't going to settle for more half-measures. The troop surge that Sen. Barack "I'm entitled!" Obama and so many others in Congress deride got his attention, too: Sadr City's no longer a safety zone.

And after being beaten sufficiently about the head and shoulders, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has decided that maybe Mookie's not the man of the future. Najaf and Karbala just don't feel safe anymore.

Over the past several weeks, we've taken out or busted nearly a dozen high-ranking Sadrists, the boys who decide where the bombs will go off and who choose the death-squad targets. It's hard to feel warm and fuzzy when your deputies keep going down.

And there's a new kid in town: Gen. Dave Petraeus is a different kind of adversary and Muqtada, who made his bones judging the limitations of his opponents, recognizes that the rules just changed. Petraeus has a tactile sense of Iraq that his predecessors in Baghdad simply lacked. And King David's out to win.

Read the whole thing, but I think Peters is on to something.

Last May I wrote a post called Now Entering Phase IV of the War in Iraq, in which I predicted that our next step would be to take down the militias. In retrospect I obviously got the timing of this next step completely wrong. Rather than make the bold move to destroy the Mahdi Army, Badr Brigade(or "Badr Organization"), and the other militias, we dithered and let the sectarian violence escallate.

Fortunately it now looks like with implimentation of the Keane-Kagan plan we are doing what we ought to have done a long time ago.

Peters leaves us with this analysis, and warning

What Mookie's hasty hejira to Hamadan tells us is that our fanatical enemies, Sunni and Shia, face a leadership crisis. The dons of terror are afraid.

If we can't take advantage of that, shame on us.

President Bush better be serious about seeing this through to the end. I believe that Petraeus is the right man and if given the tools and troops stands a good chance of getting the job done.

Unfortunately, half the battle has to be waged here at home, with that idiot John Murtha promising to introduce legislation that would prevent Petraeus from receiving those troops that he needs. I doubt Murtha's bill will pass, but it's got to please al-Sadr.

Previous
New Plan for Iraq VI
New Play for Iraq V
New Plan for Iraq IV
New Plan for Iraq III
New Plan for Iraq II
Here's the New Plan for Iraq

Posted by Tom at 8:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 14, 2007

Can the New Plan for Iraq Succeed?

I don't know, and opinions are all over the place. What will happen will happen, but I'm cautiously optomistic. Following are some articles I found recently on the situation and my thoughts on the matter.

Maybe it's my imagination, but it seems to me that many Americans indeed Westerners in general think that insurgencies are well nigh impossible to defeat. According to this analysis in Foreign Policy, nothing could be farther fromt he truth.

The cold, hard truth about the Bush administration’s strategy of “surging” additional U.S. forces into Iraq is that it could work. Insurgencies are rarely as strong or successful as the public has come to believe. Iraq’s various insurgent groups have succeeded in creating a lot of chaos. But they’re likely not strong enough to succeed in the long term.Vietnam taught many Americans the wrong lesson: that determined guerrilla fighters are invincible. But history shows that insurgents rarely win, and Iraq should be no different. Now that it finally has a winning strategy, the Bush administration is in a race against time to beat the insurgency before the public’s patience finally wears out.

Time is definately running out for Iraq. We might not be at the 11th hour yet, but it's after 10.

StrategyPage also doesn't buy into the notion that all is lost. Number 10 of their Top Ten Myths of the Iraq War points out that

Saddam and his Baath party are out of power. There is a democratically elected government. Part of the Sunni Arab minority continues to support terror attacks, in an attempt to restore the Sunni Arab dictatorship. In response, extremist Shia Arabs formed vigilante death squads to expel all Sunni Arabs. Given the history of democracy in the Middle East, Iraq is working through its problems. Otherwise, one is to believe that the Arabs are incapable of democracy and only a tyrant like Saddam can make Iraq "work." If democracy were easy, the Arab states would all have it. There are problems, and solutions have to be found and implemented. That takes time, but Americans have, since the 18th century, grown weary of wars after three years. If the war goes on longer, the politicians have to scramble to survive the bad press and opinion polls. Opposition politicians take advantage of the situation, but this has nothing to do with Iraq, and everything to do with local politics in the United States.

Yes I know, a vote does not a democracy make. Or more precisely, voting does not ensure liberty. Nevertheless, it is disheartening to see so many on the left disparage the votes in Iraq.

Via Instapundit, Robert Kagan wonders at the juxtaposition of a congress that now wants to bail just as the administrationis finally beginning to fight the war the right way.

Speaking of wanting to lose, Daniel Henninger wrote in the Opinion Journal a few weeks ago that "We're Talking Ourselves into Defeat"

The United States is talking itself into defeat in Iraq. Its political culture is now in a downward spiral of pessimism. In the halls of Congress, across endless newspaper columns, amid the punditocracy and on Sunday morning talk shows--all emit a Stygian gloom about America.

Whether we succeed or not will depend on the al-Maliki government, and the people of Iraq. Charles Krauthammer, speaking on Brit Hume's Fox News All-Stars, thinks that we can win the war, " but it depends on Maliki. It's going to depend on what he does, what his brigades do and what he does in curtailing the Shiite death squads." StrategyPage, which has written on the subject many times before, says that "the basic problem in Iraq is, and always has been, a shortage of public minded citizens."

As for the insurgency itself, Nibras Kazimi, writing in the New York Sun, thinks that there has been a "Turnaround in Baghdad"

What needs to be understood is the central role that Al Qaeda — or more accurately its successor organization, a group called the Islamic State of Iraq — is playing on these fronts and the diminishing role of all the other insurgent groups. The wider Sunni insurgency - the groups beyond Al Qaeda - is slowly, and surely, defeated. The average insurgent today feels demoralized, disillusioned, and hunted. Those who have not been captured yet are option for a quieter life outside of Iraq.

Well maybe, but al Qaeda isn't the problem there anymore, it's sectarian violence. The ever-valuable StrategyPage says that "most of the five million Iraqi Sunni Arabs in Iraq have been driven from their homes." That's pretty bad news if true. The good news, they say, is that it does show that the Sunnis have lost the insurgency.

As for the militias, the word is that firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has fled to Iran, leaving his Mahdi Army without a leader. I've also read many stories that this militia and others are taking a pounding from our forces. Skeptics will charge that militamen and their leaders are simply laying low, and no doubt there is some truth to this. Yet I have to think that if we can keep the pressure up for long enough they won't be able to come back, at least not in strength. Anyway, the longer we keep them out of the picture the longer we have to get it right.

Finally, the reconstruction goes on. The indefatigable Bill Crawford posted another of his long pieces on the rebuilding efforts, this time however concentrating mostly on security.

Go ahead, accuse me of only posting good news. I'm actually cautiously optimistic about Iraq, it's what's going on here at home that ha me most worried. The simple fact is that Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known as "Lawrence of Arabia", had it right when he said that defeating an insurgency was like "Eating Soup with a Knife". Full explanation here but the short version is that most insurgencies can be defeated in time.

Previous
New Play for Iraq V
New Plan for Iraq IV
New Plan for Iraq III
New Plan for Iraq II
Here's the New Plan for Iraq

Posted by Tom at 8:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Iran in Iraq

There are a rash of stories lately to the effect that Iran is arming and aiding the terrorist insurgents in Iraq. Here's one from Fox News that's pretty typical

U.S. military commanders in Iraq have shown members of Congress explosive devices that bear Iranian markings as evidence Tehran is supplying Iraqi militants with bombs, a senior U.S. government official said Saturday.

One of the lawmakers, independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, said he has seen some of the evidence, though he would not be specific. "I'm convinced from what I've seen that the Iranians are supplying and are giving assistance to the people in Iraq who are killing American soldiers," Lieberman said.

However, in another story Gen Pace is quoted as saying that he isn't sure if the Iranian government knows about it

On Monday, Pace said he had no firm knowledge that the Iranian government had sanctioned the arming of the insurgents.

"It is clear that Iranians are involved, and it's clear that materials from Iran are involved, but I would not say by what I know that the Iranian government clearly knows or is complicit," Pace told the Voice of America.

What is going on here?

Andy McCarthy over at NRO cites a story in the Boston Globe in which Daniel Serwer of the U.S. Institute for Peace and who was part of the Iraq Study Group, said that "he was not convinced that the Iranian government had decided 'at the highest levels' to provide weapons to target US troops," From the Globe story

Some skeptics also say that US officials in Iraq and their British counterparts have known for more than two years that armor-piercing explosives were being smuggled from Iran, but had never displayed them to the media until Sunday, prompting critics to ask why the administration is choosing this moment to highlight the alleged misdeeds of the Iranian regime.

McCarthy comments that

When it comes to Iraq, the Left is dizzying. Are these not the same people who said that if Lynndie England was walking a naked Iraqi prisoner around like a dog on a leash, she simply must have been acting on orders from Don Rumsfeld, if not Bush himself? Now, the mullahs' own militia, formed for the purpose of exporting the Islamic revolution, is caught red-handed exporting the Islamic revolution to Iraq, and the Left's response is to ask whether we can really be sure the mullahs put them up to it?

I sent an email to McCarthy asking him about what Pace said and what he thought about it. I'll check The Corner tomorrow to see if he responds.

My Take

Like McCarthy, I find it very difficult to believe that some rogue elements in Iran are aiding the insurgency, and the leaders don't know about it. If by some chance it is true then the Iranian government is much more fractured and brittle than I had supposed.

I'm not sure, but my guess is that the administration is ratcheting up pressure on Iran but doing so cautiously. On the one hand, they want to let everyone know that we know that Iran is arming the insurgents. On the other hand, they don't want to directly accuse Iran. Maybe I'm missing something, but this is the best I can come up with.

What We Ought To Be Doing

Last September I wrote a longer piece exclusively on what we ought to do about Iran, so read that if you want my complete thoughts on the matter.

For now though if we think Iran is involved in aiding the insurgent terrorists we ought to say so unequivocally. I see no benefit to this half-way "we know there are Iranian weapons in Iraq but don't know if the Iranians are behind it" stuff.

Rumor has it (I didn't save the link) that a few years ago Secretary Rumsfeld wanted to attack terrorist bases in Syria but President Bush said no. We lost that opportunity, we oughtn't lost another. If we're not going to go after Iranian terrorist bases militarily(directly or though proxies) we ought to at least mount a serious PR offensive. It's bad enough that the administration isn't making a big deal about Iran's human rights abuses, we ought to at least go after them on aiding the insurgents.

Update

There's a long post on Instapundit on Iran in Iraq with lots of links. The short version of the post is that the administration ought to be doing a lot more, but direct military strikes aren't the answer.

Interestingly, Glenn posts an email by a leftie who thinks that taking any strong action against Iran would make us equal to the 9-11 terrorists. The other line from the left that I've seen recently is that "you guys screwed up Iraq now you want to create a bigger mess in Iran?" This is at best a bumper-sticker mentality. We've got a big enough problem with the administration not seeming to want to do much, we're evidently not going to get any help from the left side of the isle.

Posted by Tom at 7:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 13, 2007

The North Korean Nuclear Deal

Today we discover that a tentative deal has been reached with the DPRK regarding it's nuclear weapons program

In a landmark international accord, North Korea promised Tuesday to close down and seal its main nuclear reactor within 60 days in return for 50,000 tons of fuel oil as a first step in abandoning all nuclear weapons and research programs.

North Korea also reaffirmed a commitment to disable the reactor in an undefined next phase of denuclearization and to discuss with the United States and other nations its plutonium fuel reserves and other nuclear programs that "would be abandoned" as part of the process. In return for taking those further steps, the accord said, North Korea would receive additional "economic, energy and humanitarian assistance up to the equivalent of 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil."

Yeah right. On the one hand I fully expect the Koreans to cheat on the deal at the earliest opportunity. On the other, of all the threats we face right now this one is the least amenable to a solution.

As for the agreement itself, if you want the gory details you can find them on the Washington Post's website here.

Here's what I think is going to happen:

One fine day we're going to wake up and North Korea will be in chaos. It will come out of the blue, totally unexpected.

Totalitarian governments are at once very strong and very weak. They're strong in the ways we're all familiar with; total control of socitey. But at the same time they're very brittle. One day it seemed like the Soviet Union would be forever, and in a short time the entire Empire had collapsed. Romania, for example, was totally under the control of Nicolae Ceausescu. Then one day we heard of fighting in the streets and rumors that he and his wife were on the run. The next we learn that they'd both been shot by their own army. The whole thing was triggered by the government's attempt to evict a popular pastor from his apartment. Who could have imagined?

I think the same thing is going to happen with North Korea. Some small event, the type you can never forsee, is going to snowball into something massive.

The question is whether the end will be relatively peaceful or terribly violent. No one in Eastern Europe had nuclear weapons, the Soviets having removed theirs before they evacuated.

Kim Jong il may be tempted to go down in a blaze of glory. He might not have a deliverable weapon for some time, but all he has to do is put one close to the border and light it off and lots of people are going to die.

But they don't even have to do that. Over half of the North Korean army is stationed within 90 miles of the border with the south (GlobalSecurity analysis here). The South Korean capital, Seoul, is almost right on the border itself, and the North has spent fifty years hiding artillery and rockets in the mountains just north of the city. The North could do great damage in a short period of time.

None of this is to say that it is a waste of time to negotiate with North Korea. Far from it. This agreement does stand a chance, but only if China puts pressure on the North to impliment it. They might not, in that I believe China is using the Korean crisis to distract us from their main goal, which is to take back Taiwan. But we shall see.

The real test, I think, will be how we handle the collapse of the North. It might be an unwinnable situation, and we need to recognize that even if we do everything "right", the situation might still get out of control. And it isn't going to be any easier whether the person in the White House is Republican or Democrat.

Posted by Tom at 9:08 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 9, 2007

An Escallation by the Jihadists

While we are spending most of our time debating whether to "escallate" the war in Iraq by sending more troops and/or adopting a new strategy, we seem to have missed what the enemy is doing.

They're escallating too.

But I don't mean in Iraq. I'm talking about the jihadists in Europe.

Walid Phares says that the jihadists are changing tactics and that this represents a "new benchmark" in their war against the West. Last week British police arrested nine suspects for what it says was an "Iraq-style kidnapping" plot. The plan was to seize a British soldier, behead him, and show it on the Internet. The target soldier had served in Afghanistan.

Previously, al Qaeda and other jihadists concentrated their efforts on large-style dramatic attacks. They wanted to emulate 9-11 as much as possible. Now, says Phares, we may be witnessing a change in tactics. Following are excerpts from his article

1) “A factory”: The repetitive arrest in this important city, if anything, tells us that a hub is producing successive waves of Jihadists, ready to strike within Great Britain. ...

2) “Urban pocket:” The concentration of Jihadi Terror activities in this one city (along with other possible sites) could mean that the militants have formed an “urban pocket” out of which they can coordinate activities, and in which they have established one or more safe havens.
...

3) “Urban Battlefield”: The decision to conduct a kidnapping operation against a British soldier, to behead him and to post the criminal scene online presumes that the British Jihadists have chosen the option of “Urban battlefield.”
...

4) “Seizing the community”: One of the most dangerous Terrorist tactics is to apply violence within a particular community, so that the Terrorist leadership would break the ties between the group and the general society. A very risky choice, but from a Jihadi thinking process, it is unstoppable....(S)eizing a community through fear and Terror "within" the West will have unique consequences. In the mind of the Jihadists, eliminating moderate Muslims, starting with the ones who work with Government, particularly in defense and security matters, will spread terror in the hearts of the community, further isolating it.
...

Thus, the Birmingham Jihadi plot is not just “another” Terrorist happening. It is a crossing of a line, a benchmark. Somewhere in a British city, a war room has decided to create an enclave of terror. The arrests are certainly important, but what the Terrorists wanted to achieve is even more important. It is one of these signals, that in Britain and probably in many European cities, a new phase has begun.

Make sure to follow the link above and read the whole thing.

Phares' point, I think, is that the kidnapping and murder of the Muslim British soldier was not meant to be just another attack on the West. We need to give the jihadists credit. As he makes clear in his book Future Jihad, the jihadists have a very sophisticated strategy. They don't just sit around and say "how and where can we stage another big attack?" That's part of it, to be sure, but it's all part of a much larger and more complex plan. More on this when I post my review of his book, which I am reading now.

In the "urban battlefied" section Phares believes that the jihadists think that "they have the necessary numbers to wage successive operations" because they have established a "a “feeder,” that is a continuous flow of new recruits." Melanie Phillips' documented how extensive radical Islam is in her book Londonistan, so Phares' conclusion is supported by a lot of evidence.

We'll see whether Phares is right or not in the weeks and months to come. I've often wondered why the jihadists didn't "scale down" their attacks from big-dramatic ones to lots of smaller ones. Now that I'm half-way through Future Jihad I'm starting to understand why. The short answer is that their strategy is a lot more complex and long-term than I'd imagined. But again, more on this when I post the book review.

But either way, it looks like Britain's toleration of radical Islam is beginning to bear fruit; of the rotten variety. Let's encourage them to take action before it's too late.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 8, 2007

The Bad Side of Environmentalism

There is a good and bad side to many or most movements. More on the good side of environmentalism below.

In the meantime, watch this

I first heard about this film, Mine Your Own Business, over at Michelle Malkin's Hot Air (I think that's where I saw it). Today Peter Suderman wrote an article about it over at NRO, and in a comment on The Corner linked to Mary Katharine Ham's video above.

Here are two excerpts from Suderman's review


Mine Your Own Business looks primarily at ongoing efforts to stop Canadian company Gabriel Resources from building a gold mine in Rosia Montana, Romania. The region is poor, with many people still residing in tiny, Communist-era block apartments and forced to use outhouses in a place in which freezing temperatures are common. Most anti-mine activists, of course, live far away, surrounded by modern comforts. But despite this, they claim to know what the locals want.
...

Environmentalists, of course, talk endlessly about preserving traditional ways of life, but locals don’t want to preserve poverty and hardship. They want a chance to provide a more comfortable existence for themselves and their families. McAleer catches Francoise Heidebroek, who works with an anti-mining NGO, claiming that Rosia Montana residents would “prefer to ride a horse than drive a car.” When McAleer asks locals if they’d prefer to clop about in freezing temperatures on a horse, they just laugh at him. Heidebroek, it's useful to note, sequesters herself away in the modernized capitol city of Bucharest. If she wants to saddle up every morning, well, I say good luck. But there’s no reason that her equestrian whimsy should force actual Rosia Montana residents to do the same.

The point should be clear by now; a mining company wants to start a mine in Romania, the locals are thrilled with the idea of real jobs, and some Western environmentalists want to stop the mine.

The Good Side of Environmentalism

Let's get this part out of the way right now so you wont' think I'm a troglodyte.

In June of 1993 I went to Russia for about 10 days with my parents. We spent most of our time in Moscow, taking the night train to St Petersburg where we spent two days. I'd say it was a vacation, but given the near third-world status of the place, more an adventure than anything else.

Every fourth car, it seemed, spewed visible black or blue smoke. The entire city of Moscow stank of pollution. Trash seemed everywhere. We were told before going not to drink the water. You get the point.

It was enough to make even the most hard right capitalist into an environmentalist. It certainly made me appreciate the air-quality standards we have here in the United States.

This to me is good environmentalism. Clean water, clean air. Emissions control on cars and factory smokestacks. Recycling. Not dumping your motor oil into the sewer. Regulating the use of fertilizer so that we don't have so much of it in water runoff that goes into our streams and rivers. I buy into all this.

Yes I know that surface ("strip") mines can harm the environment unless there are serious reclamation efforts. Rainwater can mix with minerals turned up in the mining process, and the resulting runoff can be toxic. I get it.

Bad Environmentalism

I'm not going to get into it here, but obsessing over global warming is bad environmentalism. Environmentalists hurt their own cause when they tell us the world will end unless we adopt the Kyoto Protocols.

I do not buy into the notion that all surface mines are bad and must be stopped. I do get it that in Romania they don't have our laws, and that the company that does the mining might well get away with things that wouldn't be allowed here. And from what I understand much pollution actually comes from third-world countries precisely because of a lack of strict laws regarding the environment.

But I also think that we can have our cake and eat it to. The people of Romania need jobs. Their life as it is now stinks. It's a question of trade-offs; improving the lives of the people in Romania versus risking some environmental problems. The question, I suppose, is whether the proposed mine would actually harm the environment as much as the environmentalists say it would. I don't know, and I don't know if the film Mine Your Own Business addresses the issue.

In short, bad environmentalism is when it devolves into bananna thinking; Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.

I would not be unsympathetic to the environmentalists as much if they concentrated on ways to build(?) good mines and factories that had a minimum footprint on nature. My perception is that they're often mindlessly opposed to just about everything. This mine is probably something they ought to let through.

Posted by Tom at 9:07 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 6, 2007

John Burns on Iraq

John Burns, Iraq reporter for New York Times, spoke with Tim Russert the other day on Meet The Press. I haven't been able to find the transcript on the MSNBC site, but a snippet was posted on The Corner. I think you'll agree that what he has to say is interesting, coming as it does from someone at the Times

Russert: John, was it possible for our policy makers to truly understand the way Iraqis would have reacted? The judgments made here were that when we went in we would be greeted as quote, "liberators," to quote Dick, Vice President's Cheney's phrase, that they were prepared, in effect, to take governing into their own hands, that they were so upset and had been so downtrodden by Saddam Hussein that they would embrace democracy and rise up, almost immediately.

Burns: Well first of all, I think, again, to be fair, the American troops were greeted as liberators. We saw it. It lasted very briefly, it was exhausted quickly by the looting and the astonishment and puzzlement and finally anger of Iraqis that nothing, or very little was done to stop that. I think that to be fair to the United States, when I speak as a citizen of the United Kingdom, I think that the instincts that led to much that went wrong were good American instincts: the desire not to have too heavy of a footprint, the desire to empower Iraqis.

But, and I think that the policy makers in Washington, and to be on honest with you the journalists also, to speak for myself, completely miscalculated the impact of 30 years of violent, brutal repression on the Iraqi people and their willingness, in President Bush's phrase, "to stand up" for themselves, to take authority, to take risks. Why did we who, people like Rajiv [Chandrasekaran of the Washington Post] and myself who were there under Saddam, why did we not fully understand that? I think it's because we were extremely limited by the Saddam regime as to where we could go and who we could go and speak to and what we wrote about mostly — certainly I can speak for myself — was what was most palpable and accessible to us which was the terror, it was real.

To that extent, I suppose you'd have to say people like myself enabled what happened, the decisions made here to go into Iraq and I'm not going to apologize for that. I've been to, I think many of the world's nastiest places in a 30 year career as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times and Iraq was, by a long way saving only North Korea, the nastiest place I've ever been. It was a truly terrible place and what I think we were transfixed by was the notion that if you could remove this of carapace of terror and you could liberate the Iraqi people, many good things would happen.

We just didn't understand, and perhaps didn't work hard enough to understand, what lay beneath this carapace which is a deeply fractured society that had always been held together, since the British constructed it, by drawing geometric lines on the map — Winston Churchill and Lawrence of Arabia in the 1920s — a country that had really always been held together by force and varying degrees repression. The King, King Faisal, is remembered, the King who was assassinated in 1958, as a kind of golden era, but even that is really, was not really a parliamentary democracy. It was still basically an autocratic state and I think we needed to understand better the forces that we were going to liberate.

And my guess is that history will say that the forces that we liberated by invading Iraq were so powerful and so uncontrollable that virtually nothing the United States might have done, except to impose its own repressive state with half a million troops, which might have had to last ten years or more, nothing we could have done would have effectively prevented this disintegration that is now occurring.

emphasis added

So in the end were we simply naive going into Iraq? Perhaps we were too intoxicated by ideas of spreading democracy. Works such as Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy have been very influential on the right in recent years. Scharansky was right in that totalitarian societies are brittle, and that most people who appear to love Big Brother in fact do not. What he and all of us missed was the power of the forces balled up inside of Iraq, the forces that Burns spoke of with Russert. The Soviet Union had "cooled" since the time of Stalin; imagine if we had somehow been able to liberate it in 1950. Who knows what forces that would have unleashed?

There is now no doubt we missed how much Iraqi society was broken. I remember reading Andrew Sullivan say just this in the months after the invasion, when it became clear that the aftermath would not go as smoothly as we had hoped.

So if the left wants to make fun of us for hoping that we could turn Iraq into a better place in short order so be it. Strange, this criticism coming from those who all during the Cold War attacked US foreign policy for supporting "authoritarian" regimes over "totalitarian" ones. I wrote a few weeks ago that George Bush's foreign policy is more in line with what the liberals said they wanted, he just carried it to it's logical conclusion.

Is Burns right that there was nothing we could have done to prevent the self-destruction of Iraqi society? I don't know. If he is right, then the justification for invasion is that an alternate future with Saddam in charge would have been worse than the present situation, or what it might turn into. I think that the idea that we had Saddam bottled is wrong, and we may well make Iraq into a success. But in the final analysis the answer is unknowable. We can't rerun history using different variables.

Posted by Tom at 8:02 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 5, 2007

John Edwards Said What?

On Sunday former Senator John Edwards was on Meet the Press with Tim Russert. Russert brought up Edwards' 2002 vote in favor of the Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. Edwards now says that he "regrets" that vote.

Russert played of the October 2002 speech that then-Senator Edwards gave to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He gave the speech during the very week that the Senate was debating the war resolution:

Videotape, October 7, 2002)

SEN. EDWARDS: My position is very clear. The time has come for decisive action to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. I’m a co-sponsor of the bipartisan resolution that is presently under consideration in the Senate. Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave threat to America and our allies. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons today, that he’s used them in the past, and that he’s doing everything he can to build more. Every day he gets closer to his long-term goal of nuclear capability.

Edwards was riding the bandwagon. Russert then asked him about that vote

MR. RUSSERT: “ A grave threat to America,” do you still believe that?

SEN. EDWARDS: No.

MR. RUSSERT: Why were you so wrong?

SEN. EDWARDS: For the same reason a lot of people were wrong. You know, we—the intelligence information that we got was wrong. I mean, tragically wrong. On top of that I’d—beyond that, I went back to former Clinton administration officials who gave me sort of independent information about what they believed about what was happening with Saddam’s weapon—weapons programs. They were also wrong. And, based on that, I made the wrong judgment. I, I, I want to go another step, though, because I think this is more than just weapons of mass destruction. I mean, I—at the—I remember vividly what I was thinking about at the time. It was, first, I was convinced he had weapons of mass destruction. That’s turned out to be completely wrong and false. I had internal conflict because I was worried about what George Bush would do. I didn’t have—I didn’t have confidence about him doing the work that needed to be done with the international community, the lead-up to a potential invasion in Iraq. I didn’t know, in fairness, that he would be as incompetent as he’s been in the administration of the war. But I had—there were at least two things going on. It wasn’t just the weapons of mass destruction I was wrong about. It’s become absolutely clear—and I’m very critical of myself for this—become absolutely clear, looking back, that I should not have given this president this authority.

Russert didn't let this go by unchallenged. He brought up General Zinni and Brent Scowcroft, both of whom said that going into Iraq would be a mistake. He also quoted from a National Intelligence Estimate that Edwards saw that questioned the assumption that Iraq had WMD. Edwards gave what amounts to a non-answer

SEN. EDWARDS: Mm-hmm, I did see it. I mean, I, I think it was—there were serious questions about whether—again, we’re looking back. Now we know none of this was true. But, at the time, there were serious questions about any effort to obtain nuclear weapons, which is what that statement just was. All of us believed there was no question that he had chemical and biological weapons, and there was at least some scattered evidence that he was making an effort to get nuclear weapons.

MR. RUSSERT: But it seems as if, as a member of the intelligence committee, you just got it dead wrong, and that you even ignored some caveats and ignored people who were urging caution.

SEN. EDWARDS: Well, I, I, I would—first of all, I don’t want to defend this. Let me be really clear about this. I think anybody who wants to be president of the United States has got to be honest and open, be willing to admit when they’ve done things wrong. One of the things, unfortunately, that’s happened in Iraq is we’ve had a president who was completely unmoving, wouldn’t change course, wouldn’t take any responsibility or admit that he’d made any mistakes. And I think America, in fact the world has paid a huge price for that. So I accept my responsibility. I’m not defending what I did. Because what happened was the information that we got on the intelligence committee was, was relatively consistent with what I was getting from former Clinton administration officials. I told you a few minutes ago I was concerned about giving this president the authority, and I turned out to be wrong about that.

So what of this? On the one hand, I'm tempted to say that yes the President should have admitted mistakes earlier. My more realistic side says that in our political culture he would have received no credit for this whatsoever. In fact, the Dems would likely have just used any such admission for their own political ads. As for the changing course part, I've expressed my frustration with the president several times on this blog (see Iraq under categories at right and scroll down).

What does taking responsibility mean? If he's so bad at making such important decisions he shouldn't be running for president, should he?

Let's continue

MR. RUSSERT: In that same speech I showed earlier, you seemed to embrace, however, a—the Bush vision of what could happen in Iraq. And let’s just watch that and come back and talk about it.

SEN. EDWARDS: Sure.

(Videotape, October 7, 2002)

SEN. EDWARDS: Democracy will not spring up by itself overnight in a multiethnic, complicated society that’s suffered under one repressive regime after another for generations. The Iraqi people deserve and need our help to rebuild their lives and to create a prosperous, thriving, open society. All Iraqis, including Sunnis, Shia and Kurds, deserve to be represented. This is not just a moral imperative. It’s a security imperative. It is in America’s national interest to help build an Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbors, because a democratic, tolerant and accountable Iraq will be a peaceful regional partner, and such an Iraq could serve as a model for the entire Arab world.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: Do you think that was naive?

SEN. EDWARDS: No, I think that had, had Saddam, who’s—had the war in Iraq been executed the way that it should have been executed, I think there would be a much greater likelihood of there being a democratic Iraq. I think we would still see at least some symptoms of what we’re seeing raging on the ground in Iraq right now. But no, I think there was some potential for a democracy in Iraq.

"Democracy will not spring up by itself overnight"

"Democracy will not spring up by itself overnight"

Yes I think we've got that part figured out by now.

But Edwards has joined the cut-and-run crowd. He voted for the war when it was popular, and regrets it now that it's unpopular. He made fine sounding speaches when it seemed expedient to do so but now wants to leave Iraq to it's own devices.

To his everlasting credit, Russert pursued just this line of questioning, pointing out that "many have suggested... that the reason so many Democrats voted for giving the president authority in October of 2002 was a political calculation", and asked if that wasn't the case with him:

SEN. EDWARDS: It’s a—it’s a completely fair question. If I—if I were watching a, a politician under those circumstances, I’d be very cynical about what their motives are, and why, why they did what they did. I can only tell you, in my case, I came to the conclusion, turned out to be wrong, that the president should be given this authority.

I do think it’s important—again, not defensively—but important to point out that I didn’t run the war and neither did the other people in Congress who voted for the war. The president’s the one who made this extraordinary mess. I mean, it’s been mistake after mistake after mistake. But I did cast this vote, and I’m the person responsible for this vote, no one else.

Talk about a guy sweating bullets. Edwards must have hated every second of that interview.

Edwards excuse for now joining the cut-and-run crowd is that in his opinion the war has been run incompetently, that it's been "mistake after mistake after mistake."

I'm not going to debate the Iraq war here, but rather point out the the history-challenged John Edwards that this is how wars usually go. For the winner, that is.

Read about the American Revolution, or our Civil War. Who today could imagine not wanting to fight either - the latter from the North's perspective.

Just to consider the Civil War, we all know it went very poorly for the North the first several years. Lincoln was raked over the coals for his conduct of the war, especially for his perceived attacks on civil rights in pursuit of war goals. At the start of the war he announced that his only goal was to keep the country whole, yet after the battle of Antiedam in Sept of 1862 issued the Emancipation Proclamation, effectively changing his war goals to that of also freeing the slaves. This was hugely controversial at the time, with several some Union troops threatening to mutiny over the matter. By late 1963 the war had proved so unpopular that the Union army was unable to fill its ranks and resorted the the draft. The draft proved so unpopular that riots broke out over it in New York City. For a time Lincoln was convinced that he was going to lose the election of 1864. Northern Democrats, smelling blood, became the cut-and-run party of their day. The Democrat Party's 1864 presidential platform demanded "that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities" and a negotiated peace with the South. If you don't believe me look it up yourself.

To be sure, there were differences. Lincoln fired general after general when they couldn't perform. Would that Bush have done the same.

But what's done is done, and now Edwards wants to abandon the Iraq war that he spoke so passionatly in favor of earlier.

Let's continue on with Russert's inverview and watch Edwards twist a bit more

MR. RUSSERT: Let me bring you back to October 10th of 2004. You were running for vice president, a few weeks before the election...

SEN. EDWARDS: Yes.

MR. RUSSERT: ...you were on this program. The war...

SEN. EDWARDS:I remember.

MR. RUSSERT: The war is now a year and a half old, and I asked you about your vote. Let’s watch.

SEN. EDWARDS: Sure.

(Videotape, October 10, 2004)

MR. RUSSERT: If you knew today, and you do know, there is—there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, would you still vote to go to war with Iraq?

SEN. EDWARDS: I would have voted for the resolution, knowing what I know today, because it was the right thing to do to give the president the authority to confront Saddam Hussein.

I think Saddam Hussein was a very serious threat. I stand by that, and that’s why we stand behind our vote on the resolution.

(End of videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: That’s a year and a half into the war.

SEN. EDWARDS: Mm-hmm. Perfect—that’s a very fair question. I can tell you what happened with me, personally. We got through—I was—at that point, I was in the middle of a very intense campaign, one that I thought was very important for America. When the campaign was over and the election was over, we had a lot going on in my own family. Elizabeth had been diagnosed with breast cancer, we were taking care of her. And for the first time I had time to really think about, number one, what I was going to spend my time doing, and, number two, my vote for this war. And over time, when I reflected on what I thought was going to be necessary going forward, to have some moral foundation to work on issues like poverty and genocide, things that I care deeply about, I could no longer defend this vote. It was pretty simple. And I got to the place I felt like I had to say it and had to say it publicly. And so—what?--a year—a year or so ago I did that.

My prayers go out to his wife. If Sen Edwards is saying that he was so distracted by her illness that he could't think straight then he has no business running for president.

Like so many others he spoke strongly in favor of the war when it seemed popular to do so. Now he takes it all back and "regrets" his vote. Sorry, but anyone who's read the least bit of history knows that wars have their back and forths, and often go badly for the eventual winner. But like the Copperheads that Lincoln had to deal with, when the going get's tough he want's to cut-and-run.

But I can't take this anymore. Follow the link at top and read the rest of the interview if you like, or if you think I'm being unfair to Sen Edwards.

My bottom line is that he has no business even running for the presidency, and would make a terrible one if by some miracle elected.

But if you think all this is bad, you ought to meet Amanda Marcotte, the official blogmaster of the John Edwards for President campaign. She's a real piece of work.

Even More on Edwards' nutcase blogmaster by Karhryn Jean Lopez

Update

Captain Ed looked at the Edwards interview and catches something I missed; that Edwards blames Clinton Administration officials for allegedly lying to him or misleading him as well.

So Edwards is admitting that former Clinton Administration officials gave him the same intelligence information that he got from the Bush White House. In other words, Bush didn't lie or exaggerate.

Hallelujah, a liberal finally speaks some sense, if only by accident.

He may simply be saying all this as a preemptive strike against Hillary. He is, after all, a slip 'n fall trial attorney. But whatever the case, Capt'n Ed says,

All of this results from the lack of political courage by Democrats in Congress. They voted for the war based on the same intelligence that fueled American policy well before George Bush took office. When that intel turned out to be incorrect, or at least out of date, they panicked and tried to shove all the responsibility off onto the Bush administration, calling him and Dick Cheney liars and whipping up anti-war sentiment to cover for their own responsibility in the decision to go to war. In the process, they have made it almost impossible for the White House to exercise any flexibility in the war strategy to ensure a positive outcome from the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Edwards has proven himself to be a craven, whiny opportunist. He's also exposed many of his colleagues as having similar character flaws.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Posted by Tom at 9:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 3, 2007

Videos: Leftist Anti-War Protesters Abusing the Troops Parts II & III

In Part I you saw videos of the abuse Iraqi war veterans took at the hands of the "peace protesters" who converged on our nation's capital last Saturday. In my original report I provided a chronology of the day's events, posted some photos, and described some of the chants used by each side. I also exposed United for Peace and Justice, the organization who sponsored the event, for the extremist group they are.

For a full explanation of the videos below and day's events, follow the links above. Suffice it to say for now that several thousand "anti-war" protesters marched along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC, and about forty of us stood in North Senate Park to counter them. Among our group were several Iraqi war veterans.

In parts II and III you'll see more abuse that the lefties heaped on our Iraq war veterans. The pictures look dark at times because it was late afternoon and the sun was behind the protesters, and so was coming right at the camera.

Once again, you'll hear the protesters calling our veterans cowards. You'll see their vulgar signs, and various messages of hate. Funny how almost none of the mainstream media outlets see fit to print or show this stuff. But then, they almost never tell you that among the member groups in United for Peace and Justice is the Communist Party USA.

Thank you to tgslTakoma for taking these videos and capturing the left in all their moonbat glory.

Last is Part III, in which tgslTakoma captured the end of the march and some of what happened afterwards.

In Part I, you saw how, four of the "peace protesters" threaten Iraq war veteran Joshua Sparling. In this next video, you'll see how after the march they came up behind us and stood maybe fifty feet away, carrying stakes without any posters on them. It didn't take a genius to figure out that they were probably up to no good, so tgslTakoma called the police, who escorted them away.

You'll also hear one of the leftis say that the war is all about Halliburton, "follow the money", and all sorts of other conspiracy stuff. Yawn.


Posted by Tom at 1:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 2, 2007

Videos: Leftist Anti-War Protesters Abusing the Troops

In my report on the Freeper counter to the anti-war protest organized by United for Peace and Justice I related how the lefties insulted our soldiers time and again. One of our number, tgslTakoma, took video which proves it. She helpfully provides subtitles where it's hard to hear what's being said.

If you're not familiar with these, click the arrow in the center to play

Here's another video of a Fox News segment where Joshua Sparling is being interviewed by Alan Colmes.

Joshua describes the scene as "The most angry peace march that I've ever witnessed". I was right there with him the whole time, and I'll second that.


The leftists who participated in the "peace march" were about the most hateful crowd I've ever seen. There were thousands of them and only about forty of us, yet our mere presence drove many of them into paroxysms of rage.

Joshua, his girlfriend, and father also appeared on Fox and Friends. "I received more fingers that day than I've ever seen before." There's also a surprise at the end of the segment. Don't miss it.

Here's the original hate mail that he received that they refer to in the segment.

Caveat; no I am not lumping everyone who is against the war in Iraq into this category. As I said in my original report on the event, United for Peace and Justice and it's affiliated groups are on the extremist fringe.

But if you want to get an idea of some of the hate that is directed at the troops who served in Iraq and dare to publically say that they support our efforts there, go to YouTube and look at some of the comments that have been left under the videos I posted above. Here's a sample of what was left in response to the last video above

bloodstomper (4 hours ago) Joshua Sparling, listen up! When you proposed to your girlfriend right there on Fox television the other day, you revealed yourself to be a tactless little twit who'd do anything for a few more minutes in the national glare.

I'm surprised she didn't spit at you.

p4cific (1 day ago)
that's true,kinda crude way to "force" the girl to accept

tonelook (1 day ago)
Any videos, any pictures, any proof?

Tofucactus (1 day ago)
Attention Ho. He's whining about a protester who argued with him. Josh was standing under an effigy of Jane Fonda hanging by a noose; chanting "Code Pink Kills". It's newsworthy that somebody argued with him?

Josh says the guy spat on him. I'd believe that if Josh had also told us about the retired Army Colonel and Code Pink speaker who, over the PA system, pointed him out in the crowd, identified him by name and thanked him for his service, despite his booing and thumbs-downing.

wntoply6 (1 day ago)
well, not exactly nepatriot, the biggest outright hypocrisy THERE EVER HAS BEEN is george w bush, and his lying, ignorant bigoted neo con party. look first in the mirror before you start sharing that term with others. communist-led ha! what a stupid fool you are. do you like just throwing words around for the hell of it? you damn fool.

WwRRJJ234 (1 day ago)
"heh heh,er um,i'm the decider by god,heh heh,er uh,must stay the course,er heh heh,rummy will stay as sec def,er you'll see heh heh,dick(cheney)didn't shoot him on purpose,er uh,fool me once er um,fool me again,cause i'm still a fool. bin laden?hell i don't know where he's at,er ah,i don't think about him much heh heh,it undermines the troops heh heh"

Halo4Lyf (1 day ago)
Tell me, in what way have I lied? Lying consists of two things: a falsehood and intent to spread it. You have not presented evidence of me knowingly spreading a falshehood, so it is you who sins by making false accusations.

repsac3 (1 day ago)
Where's Ann Coulter now that this poor amputee is exploiting his victimhood in the name of right wing politics? Wonder what foul name she'll be calling him, and how soon that'll be? (If she actually ever did--which we all know will never happen--I'd defend Mr Sparling's right to speak out, just as I did Ann's other victims.)



Can we question their patriotism now?

Posted by Tom at 7:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack