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March 29, 2007

Barry McCaffrey on Iraq II

Retired Gen Barry McCaffrey is just back from Iraq and has another must-read report. Last May I reported on his April trip, in which he called our army in Iraq "The Most Brilliantly Led Military We Have Ever Fielded". In June I wrote a post on his report on Afghanistan, in which he was cautionary but mostly positive.

I ran across it in a post by Rich Lowry on The Corner. It's reported in a story by Thomas Ricks in The Washington Post, but you can also download the actual report as a pdf file (most of the excerpts below I just copied from Lowry's post after double checking them against the document).

First, the bad news, or "The Problem", as he sees it:

Iraq is ripped by a low grade civil war which has worsened to catastrophic levels with as many as 3000 citizens murdered per month. The population is in despair. Life in many of the urban areas is now desperate. A handful of foreign fighters (500+) —- and a couple of thousand Al Qaeda operatives incite open factional struggle through suicide bombings which target Shia holy places and innocent civilians. Thousands of attacks target US Military Forces (2900 IED’s) a month—-primarily stand off attacks with IED’s, rockets, mortars, snipers, and mines from both Shia (EFP attacks are a primary casualty producer) —-and Sunni (85% of all attacks—-80% of US deaths—16% of Iraqi population.)
Three million Iraqis are internally displaced or have fled the country to Syria and Jordan. The technical and educated elites are going into self-imposed exile—-a huge brain drain that imperils the ability to govern. The Maliki government has little credibility among the Shia populations from which it emerged. It is despised by the Sunni as a Persian surrogate. It is believed untrustworthy and incompetent by the Kurds.

There is no function of government that operates effectively across the nation—- not health care, not justice, not education, not transportation, not labor and commerce, not electricity, not oil production. There is no province in the country in which the government has dominance. The government cannot spend its own money effectively. ($7.1 billion sits in New York banks.) No Iraqi government official, coalition soldier, diplomat, reporter, foreign NGO, nor contractor can walk the streets of Baghdad, nor Mosul, nor Kirkuk, nor Basra, nor Tikrit, nor Najaf, nor Ramadi—-without heavily armed protection.

The police force is feared as a Shia militia in uniform which is responsible for thousands of extra-judicial killings. There is no effective nation-wide court system. There are in general almost no acceptable Iraqi penal institutions. The population is terrorized by rampant criminal gangs involved in kidnapping, extortion, robbery, rape, massive stealing of public property —-such as electrical lines, oil production material, government transportation, etc. (Saddam released 80,000 criminal prisoners.)

The Iraqi Army is too small, very badly equipped (inadequate light armor, junk Soviet small arms, no artillery, no helicopters to speak of, currently no actual or planned ground attack aircraft of significance, no significant air transport assets (only three C-130’s), no national military logistics system, no national military medical system, etc. The Iraqi Army is also unduly dominated by the Shia, and in many battalions lacks discipline. There is no legal authority to punish Iraqi soldiers or police who desert their comrades. (The desertion/AWOL numbers frequently leave Iraqi Army battalions at 50% strength or less.)

That's all certainly bad news. Add to that his accurate statement that "US domestic support for the war in Iraq has evaporated and will not return" and you've got problems.

But that's not all. Under "The Current Situation" he's relatively optimistic, which may seem a bit odd given what we just read. But we should not expect wars to be all good or bad news. Most of the time they are a mixture of both. Victory, after all, goes to the side that makes the fewest mistakes, not to the side who makes none at all.

Here are some excerpts

Since the arrival of General David Petraeus in command of Multi-National Force Iraq—- the situation on the ground has clearly and measurably improved.

1st: The Maliki government has given the green light to prune out elements of the renegade Sadr organization in Baghdad...

2nd: The US and Iraqi Forces have now dramatically changed their operational scheme. More then 50+ Iraqi Police/Army and US Army Joint Security Stations (JSS) are now being emplaced across the city and extended into the suburbs....The Iraqi people are encouraged....The murder rate has plummeted....

3rd: The Iraqis have finally committed credible numbers of integrated Police and Army units to the battle of Baghdad...

4th: There is a real and growing ground swell of Sunni tribal opposition to the Al Qaeda-in-Iraq terror formations....The Takfiri AQI (al-Qaeda in Iraq) extremism of: no music, no photos, no videos, no cutting of beards, etc does not sit well with the moderate form is Islam practiced among the western tribes. This is a crucial struggle and it is going our way - for now.

5th: The equipment and resources for the Iraqi Security Forces has increased dramatically...

6th: Reconciliation of the internal warring elements in Iraq will be how we eventually win the war in Iraq—-if it happens. There is a very sophisticated and carefully integrated approach by the Iraqi government and Coalition actors to defuse the armed violence from internal enemies and bring people into the political process...

7th: US Combat forces are simply superb...Re-enlistment rates are simply astonishing.

8th: The US Tier One special operations capability is simply magic. They are deadly in getting their target - with normally zero collateral damage....

Much better than the first part. If you're not clear on our new strategy, or think that we're just sending more troops to do the same thing, I suggest you go read the unclassified version of the plan. It was put together by ret. Gen Jack Keane and AEI resident scholar Frederick Kagan, and is called "A Plan for Success in Iraq." Most media reports simply refer to it as a "surge" and leave it at that. The truth is that there's a lot more to it.

McCaffrey's conclusion is that

In my judgment, we can still achieve our objective of: a stable Iraq, at peace with its neighbors, not producing weapons of mass destruction, and fully committed to a law-based government. The courage and strength of the US Armed Forces still gives us latitude and time to build the economic and political conditions that might defuse the ongoing civil war. Our central purpose is to allow the nation to re-establish governance based on some loose federal consensus among the three major ethnic-factional actors. (Shia, Sunni, Kurd.)

However,

We have very little time left. This President will have the remainder of his months in office beleaguered by his political opponents to the war....This insurgency will continue in some form for a decade. This suggests the fundamental dilemma facing US policymakers.

Insurgencies are not like World War II. Even in ones in which the government eventually wins, they drag on for years. As Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, better known as "Lawrence of Arabia", said; defeating an insurgency is like eating soup with a knife. You can do it, but it's messy and takes a long time.

In the end, McCaffrey says

We have a brilliant military and civilian leadership on the ground in Iraq. General Dave Petraeus, LTG Ray Odierno, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have the country's treasure and combat power at their disposal. Our cause is just. The consequence of failure will be severe.

So it's like I've been saying for some time; beat up on the Bush Administration if it makes you feel better. Berate Rumsefeld, Franks, Abazaid, whomever you like.

Contrary to polls I do think that we did the right thing in invading Iraq and deposing Saddam. My Belgium friend and blogger Michael wrote an eloquent piece recently about Why Operation Iraqi Freedom Was the Right Thing to Do, and I second every bit of it.

But at this point whether you agree with that assessment or not doesn't matter. We are where we are. The bottom line is that McCaffrey is right: " Our cause is just. The consequence of failure will be severe. "

Posted by Tom at 9:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 25, 2007

When All Else Fails, Blame American Capitalism

This morning I'm flipping through the paper, and come across an AP article titled "Youngsters in Britain Seen as Menace to Society". Ok, I think, another article about how the country is going to pot. More about crime, juvenile delinquency, and the general decay of manners.

And that's pretty much how the story started out. Pretty soon, however, the political correctness started in. The Institute for Public Policy Research, described as "center-left", decided that it's all the fault of the complainers, terming it all "pedophobia". "There has always been a culture in Britain that's a bit anti-children," said one of the researchers.

Standard stuff, however regrettable. Then came this:

Britain's poor performance may be one of the downsides of the country's embrace of American-style free-market competition -- a move that has unleashed enormous economic energy since the 1980s, but widened inequalities and left many without a safety net.

I had another drink of coffee to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

So it's American-style capitalism then, that has caused all these poor "youths" go commit crimes? A lack of welfare checks causes them to join gangs?

You don't have to have all of the figures in front of you to know that Western countries have been spending more and more on the social welfare "safety net" and less and less on the military. I recall some figures recently published in the Washington Times in which during most of the Cold War the United States spent 8-10% of GDP on its military, and the UK over 5%. Today the US is at 4% and the UK 2.3%. During the height of the Cold War in the 1950s and 60s 50% of the Federal budget went to the military. Today it's 19%. I'm sure the figures are similar for the UK.

No safety net? What do people like Jill Lawless and the people at the Institute for Public Policy Research think the rest of the money was spent on?

Posted by Tom at 9:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Moral Blindness of Omar Shakir

When I decided to file this under two categories; the Middle East and Moral Clarity I had to smile. Rarely do Muslims or those on the left have moral clarity when it comes to the Middle East. They go to great lengths to excuse the terrorism and human rights abuses committed by every Muslim regime in the region, while complaining incessantly and loudly about their favorite whipping boy; Israel.

I open this mornings paper and find an article titled "Student urges Stanford divestment from Israel".

Grrr

You just know what such a story is going to be about, and you just know how awful it's going to be. This one didn't disappoint.

Student Omar Shakir wants Stanford University to divest from a country that he says engages in an apartheid-style system of oppression and human rights abuses against a beleaguered minority.

Bosnia? Sudan? Not quite. Mr. Shakir is referring to Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians, and his campaign has become this year's hot political topic on the Stanford campus.

"We don't want our university to profit from abuses of human rights and violations of international law," said Mr. Shakir, a senior international-relations major who heads Students Confronting Apartheid in Israel.

This Omar Shakir sounds about as vile as Jimmy Carter.

Shakir is head of a group caleld Students Confronting Apartheid in Israel. They're beyond disgraceful.

I've no idea whether Shakir will achieve his goals. On the one hand I rather doubt it. The article does mention that he has "legions" of critics. On the other hand these leftists are nothing if not persistent, and if not countered quickly and forcefully they will get their ideas adopted.

Some time ago on this blog I laid out my position on the Israeli settlements. Since there's no point in reinventing the wheel, here it is again

Today we hear from the Arabs that the settlements are the major obstacle to peace. And, if you read the papers, you can be forgiven for thinking that if only the Israelis would give up their settlements a peace could be quickly worked out. The solution, it is said, is to give the Palestinians a country on the West Bank, and to let (demand, really) that Israel live within it's pre-1967 borders.

This is not true for a number of reasons.

1. If the settlements are the problem today, then what was the problem before 1967? Terrorism against Israel did not begin with the end of the Six Day War. The PLO, for example was formed in 1964.
2. If the West Bank is such a perfect home for the Palestinians, why didn't Jordan give them this land as their country when they had the chance (i.e. before 1967)?
3. The fact is that Israel is willing to negotiate with the Arab countries but with the exception of Egypt and Jordan the Arab countries still refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist.
4. The Palestinian "right of return" must be abandoned. This is not something that you read about often (if at all) in your daily newspaper but it is one of the most important things that must be resolved. In short, during the 1948 War of Independence, some 800,000 Arabs fled the area (for reasons that are disputed). Today their ancestors demand the right to return to Israel and claim the land they left, or at least to take up Israeli citizenship. One need not be a demographer to see that these ancestors (and anyone could claim to be one as documentation would be impossible to verify) would now number in the tens of millions. They would simply flood Israel with Arabs, and, in the next election, vote the state of Israel out of existance.
5. In short, if the Arabs had not opposed Israel's right to exist from the beginning, had negotiated a peace, had given the Palestinians a homeland on the West Bank, stopped their terrorism, formed democratic (or at least representative) governments, the present situation could have been entirely avoided.
6. Further, the Security Fence that Israel is building is not preventing peace as some alledge. It is stopping terrorism, and that is a good thing. My only question is why didn't the Israelis think of it earlier. And I don't care what any "world court" has to say about it.

So "the settlements" per se are not really the issue preventing peace.

The Real Issues

The main issues preventing peace are the following

1. Lack of Moral Clarity. I've written on this before here. Here are two of the essential elements of moral clarity lacking in some people:
A. Israel is an imperfect democracy, but it is a democracy. No Arab state is a democracy. This does not mean that Israel may do anything it wishes, but it does mean that we should give them the benefit of the doubt.
B. Israeli forces practice discrimination in warfare. That is, they only attack military targets. Civilians are sometimes killed as a byproduct, but the civilians are not the target themselves. Arab/Muslim terrorists deliberately target civilians. Why this is hard for some people to understand is beyond me.
2. Lack of Democracy among the Arab States. Natan Scharansky wrote about this in his excellent book "The Case for Democracy". Simply put, democracies do not fight each other. We in the west are partly responsible for the current state of affairs, since in the past we did not pressure Arab governments to reform.
3. Palestinian terrorism - until the Arab states and/or the PA put and end to terrorism by organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the others there will be no peace.
4. The expansion of the settlements should stop. Ok, I know I said earlier that "the settlements per se" are not the problem. And that is true. But it is also true that in my opinion Israel does not need new settlements, and by expanding them they give Palestinian extremists a propaganda message that is useful in recruiting terrorists.

I'll even add that Israel should abandon most of the setttlements. Not all, but most.

The Bottom Line

In the end the Arabs have had many opportunities for peace and have blown every one of them. They could have accepted the UN partition in 1948. Jordan could have given the Palestinians the West Bank at any time before 1967. They could have at least offered to join Sadat in his peace talks with Begin. Arafat could have listened to President Clinton at Camp David in 2000 and accepted what Prime Minister Baruk offered him.

And when Israel unilaterally handed over Gaza they could have shown the world what wonderfully peaceful people they were by spending their time trying to make the place better, instead of turning it into a base from which to attack Israel.

But no, they can't do this. And they cry foul when Israel does the only sensible thing and builds a wall to keep the terrorists out. But then, such is the moral blindness of people like Omar Shakir

Posted by Tom at 8:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 24, 2007

Motivations and The Mahdi

One of our current problems in the war on jihadism is that we can't even call it by it's rightful name. We insist on "War on Terror", an unfortunate description started by our president. I think he had good motives in that he wanted to divide moderate Muslims those with evil intent and get good Muslims on our side.

Unfortunately the world didn't cooperate. We should have called a spade a spade right off the bat and termed it "War on Jihad". There is an important religious aspect to this war whether our government wants to admit it or not.

The Khumeinists (and here) in Iran are one leg of the jihad. They are motivated not by nationalism but by religious beliefs. The Ayatollah himself is on record as speaking out against Iranian nationalism, saying among other things that "Those who, in the name of nationalism, factionalism, etc, create schism and disunity among Muslims, are armies of Devil, opponents of the holy Quran and helping agents of the superpowers", and that "Our Movement is Islamic before being Iranian." (I've got another quote somewhere and will put it up when I find it- ed)

The way I see it too many people look at Iran and the situation in the Middle East as if they were looking at 19th century Europe. They see it in terms of power struggles between nation-states. I believe this is mistaken. We will never understand what is going on unless we understand their motivations, and the Western concept of nationalism isn't one of them.

Ahmadinejad and The Creation of Chaos

From the invaluable MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute):

In his just-published memoirs, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy relates the story of a meeting between three European foreign ministers together with Javier Solana of the European Union and President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The meeting, which took place at the United Nations on September 15, 2005, dealt with what Douste-Blazy characterized as "the generous European offer" to Iran regarding its nuclear program. Ahmadinejad was characterized by Douste-Blazy, a surgeon and a professor of medicine by profession, as stubborn, and the meeting was described as leading nowhere. Suddenly, Ahmadinejad changed the course of the conversation with the following aside: "Do you know why we should wish to have chaos at any price?" he asked rhetorically. "Because, after the chaos, we can see the greatness of Allah."(emphasis added)

A casual observer would ignore or pass over the mention of "chaos". Ahmadinejad is, after all, fairly nutty by our standards. He did, after all, host a holocaust denial conference last December.

Unfortunately it's not so simple. It is rumored that Ahmadinejad and some of his close associates are members of the Hojjatieh, a radical sect within Shia Islam.

The Hojjatieh believe that chaos and bloodshed will prompt the return of the 12th Imam, or Mahdi (Muhammad al-Mahdī (محمد المهدى) (or Muhammad ibn Hasan ibn Al). To Muslims, the Mahdi is "the ultimate savior of mankind", and will one day arrive to set things right by Muslim standards.

Patrick Poole, writing for FrontPage Magazine, elaborates on the Mahdi

Most Shiites await the return of the 12th Shiite Imam, Muhammad ibn Hasan, the last direct male descendent of the Prophet Mohammed’s son-in-law Ali, who disappeared in 874AD and is believed to be in an invisible, deathless state of existene, or “occultation”, awaiting his return... His reappearance will usher in a new era of peace as Islam vanquishes all of its enemies. The Sunnis, who reject the successors of Ali, believe that the Mahdi has yet to be born.

But rooted in the Shiite ideology of martyrdom and violence, the Hojjatieh sect adds messianic and apocalyptic elements to an already volatile theology. They believe that chaos and bloodshed must precede the return of the 12th Imam, called the Mahdi. But unlike the biblical apocalypse, where the return of Jesus is preceded by waves of divinely decreed natural disasters, the summoning of the Mahdi through chaos and violence is wholly in the realm of human action. The Hojjatieh faith puts inordinate stress on the human ability to direct divinely appointed events. By creating the apocalyptic chaos, the Hojjatiehs believe it is entirely in the power of believers to affect the Mahdi’s reappearance, the institution of Islamic government worldwide, and the destruction of all competing faiths.

So far this is interesting but only from an academic view if you're not a Muslim. But here's where it gets interesting.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has clearly indicated that he is a true believer in this faith. It has been reported that he has told confidants that he anticipates the immanent return of the Mahdi. When he previously served as Mayor of Tehran, he advocated for widening the roads to accommodate the Mahdi’s triumphal entry into the city. One of his first acts of office as President was to dedicate approximately $20 million to the restoration and improvement of the mosque at Jamkaran, where the Mahdi is claimed to dwell.

Pool also quotes Ahmadinejad as saying that "“Our revolution’s main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi.".

By itself we would not rely on one article from FrontPage Magazine. But talk about the Mahdi has a way of popping in with regard to Iran.

Again from MEMRI, we have on the website of the governmental Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting(IRIB) an article titled "Waiting for the Mahdi: Official Iranian Eschatology Outlined in Public Broadcasting Program in Iran" . The link is to the actual Iranian website (note the .ir), where they have helpfully provided an English translation.

The document is rather lengthy and readers can go to it and form their own conclusions, but here is the summary by MEMRI

The program describes in glowing terms the messianic age to be inaugurated by the Mahdi. He is to begin his uprising in Mecca, and then march on Iraq, where he will establish his "seat of world government" in the city of Kufa and subjugate the current world powers. This will be an age of unparalleled happiness; there will be completely new technologies at mankind's disposal, and "corruption, war, and rebellion will no longer exist." Neither will "liberal democratic civilization."

Various days of the year are mentioned as being propitious for the appearance of the Mahdi, though the program says that the precise date cannot be known.

The series also includes, in parts not reproduced here, a lengthy polemic against the West, focusing on Evangelical Christians, Zionism, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Hollywood. It also gives a historical survey of Western thinking, from Saint Augustine to Francis Fukuyama.

Just as with the mention of "chaos" by Ahmadinejad to the European ministers, if we didn't know any better we would pass over this article on IRIB. Non-Muslims would, or should, treat it with academic curiousity, but that's about it. Decent people don't make fun of what other people believe, we just don't believe in it.

The problem is that we've seen and heard too much from Ahmadinejad and his cohorts over the past several years. When we read this stuff we have to pay attention.

Yes I know that Ahmadinejad does not hold all of the real power in Iran. Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-Khamenei is the Supreme Leader and holds, well, supreme power. But from what I can tell Khameini and his fellows differ from Ahmadinejad more in style than substance. They share his Khumeinist goals of creating a regional Shiite superpower armed with nuclear weapons.

The reason motivations matter is that the way I see it Iran isn't going to give up on obtaining nuclear weapons because of a few trade sanctions or a "carrot and stick" approach. No I'm not saying we ought to go to war against them, as I've proposed many options that fall short of that while being more intensive than "sanctions".

All I'm saying in this post is that we must stop looking at Iran and the Middle East as if it was 19th century Europe.

Posted by Tom at 8:17 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 21, 2007

Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 6: al Qaeda

Scroll to bottom for links to previous parts of this review

It will seem odd to the uninitiated that a discussion of al Qaeda has not appeared until Part 6 of a book review on jihadism. To most people, I think, al Qaeda is the jihad. They've heard our president and leaders talk about a "War on Terror", and it was al Qaeda who attacked us on Sept 11. Most people by this point are suspicious about Islam as a "religion of peace", but they still see al Qaeda as the primary, if not the only, enemy.

And I am not trying to downplay the threat from al Qaeda. If they had the capability they would set off nuclear devices in all major American cities.

But as Walid Phares patiently explains in Future Jihad, the threat is far more extensive than that of a single terrorist organization, no matter how dangerous it might be. In the first five parts of my review of his book, I laid out the historical background and logic of jihad, and discussed the three parts of the jihad; the Wahabists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Khumeinists as explained by Phares.

In this part of the review I'll explain the origins of al Qaeda, why Phares describes it as a "neo-Wahabist" organization, why Osama bin Laden decided to directly attack America, and what he thought would happen after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The Origins of al Qaeda

As Phares tells it, "Osama bin Laden did not create al Qaeda. It created him." By this he means that it was the culture of jihad the permeates the Middle East that "sculpted" him for the roll. Comparing it to the Lord of the Rings series, Phares says that in the case of al Qaeda and OBL it was the "rings" that found the lord.

al Qaeda ("base" in Arabic) is described by Phares as "an advanced form of neo-Wahabi jihadism." He also calls them the "SS of the jihad" because they have taken Saudi-based Wahabist teachings and carried them to their logical conclusion. This is why during the 90s Saudi leaders did not reveal in any detail to American policy-makers the philosophy of al Qaeda, because to do so would have exposed them as having the same goals of al Qaeda minus the terrorism.

Once the Ottoman caliphate fell in 1924, and the ability to call for a jihad went private, al Qaeda was inevitable. As mentioned earlier, it is simply the logical conclusion of Sunni Salafi Wahabist Islam (think of it as concentric circles; Islam is the largest circle, them Salafism, then Wahabism, and finally al Qaeda).

Bin Laden's three causes were Beirut, Kabul, and Baghdad. He was in Beirut in the summer of 1982, and was incensed at the sight of Israeli jets rocketing downtown buildings. The invasion of Afghanistan by the athiest Soviets was the second outrage. The third trigger was the presence of American troops in Muslim lands, particularly Saudi Arabia, the home of Mecca and Medina.

The Importance of Afghanistan

Between the fall of the caliphate and the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviets in 1979, there were few opportunities to put the jihad into action. The Wahabists and Muslim Brotherhood could infiltrate their targets, but there was no place for those inclined to direct action to participlate. Even the fight against "the Zionist entity" was carried out by secular Arab regimes.

Afghanistan provided "the perfect war and a huge opportunity for the jihadists worldwide." The Saudis provided most of the support for the jihad, believing that they could achieve two objectives; the first to mobilize all Salafis under their banner, and secondly to get in the good graces of the West by showing that they were good allies in the fight against Soviet communism. The purpose of the first was so that the Saudis would be in control of the worldwide jihad, the second that it is simply easier to infiltrate a society that thinks you're their friend.

The war in Afghanistan drew jihadists from around the world. All those of the Salafist tradition, whether Wahabist, Muslim Brotherhood, or other factions, eagerly participated. Best of all from their standpoint, much of it was funded by the United States. Even those monies that came from Saudi Arabia came by way of oil revenues from the West. Painful as it is to admit it, our money jump-started the very jihadists we are fighting today.

Me: As commenter "jason" pointed out in the previous segment of this review, all jihadists are not allied in some sort of united movement. While they all share the same general goals, they spend considerable time fighting among themselves. In Afghanistan, for example, there was never a united front against the Soviets.

Me again: So was it right for us to support the Afghan resistance? Yes, even if we had known that we were creating jihadists. The reason is that Soviet communism was the greatest single threat to the planet in the latter part of the 20th century, and we had to do everything we could to defeat it. It was not knowable at the time whether the Soviet Union would fall, or what would be the straw that breaks the camels back. Some today say that the Soviet Union would have fallen anyway, even if we had not supported the Afghan resistance. But such things are unknowable. Our fault was not in supporting the Afghan resistance, or even in shipping them Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, it was in ignoring the country once the Soviets had left.

Why Attack America Directly

Put simply, bin Laden decided to attack America because his reading of the 1990s showed that we were a paper tiger. Time and again he or other jihadist terrorist organizations attacked Americans and got away with it.

The list of attacks by jihadist groups on America in the 80s and 90s that we did not respond to is long: Beirut(1983 Marine Corps barracks), Algeria, Somalia, the 1993 World Trade Center attack, Khobar Towers, Chechnya, Bosnia (we allowed a jihadist brigade to form up and fight "alongside" us), ignoring the Taliban, the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and the USS Cole.

Worse, on Feb 22, 1998 Osama bin Laden issued a formal declaration of war against the United States. He had all his t's crossed and i's dotted; the text met all of the legal requirements as established by centuries of Islamic law. Yet the United States completely ignored it. Bin Laden was stunned.

His assumption was that it was a sign from Allah that America was ripe for the picking.

What Osama bin Laden Thought Would Happen after September 11

Osama bin Laden thought that three things would happen after the attacks

Popular Chaos: Bin Laden thought that Americans would rise up by the millions against the government. He thought that congress and the president would be paralyzed and that the economy would collapse.

Backlash on Arabs and Muslims: Bin Laden expected us to do what he would do if the situation was reversed; slaughter anyone remotely associated with the enemy. Let us not think that by "backlash" bin Laden was expecting what we would call "discrimination" or even name-calling; he was expecting pogroms of the sort that used to happen against Jews in Czarist Russia. He thought there would be armed strife whereby fascist militia groups would murder Muslims by the hundreds or even thousands.

American Wrath Overseas: Just as bin Laden would have slaughtered his enemies at home, he would have done likewise with a foreign enemy that dared to attack him. He was thus expecting us to lash out at all Muslims and Arabs overseas, perhaps even using nuclear weapons in a mass slaughter.

The net result, he thought, would be that the United States would be in disarray and Arab Sunni Muslims would rally around him and annoint him the new caliph.

What Might Have Happened

It is easy to smile at what bin Laden thought would happen, for in fact he was wrong on all counts. But what if he had waited 5 - 10 years? What if he had waited until he was able to infiltrate hundreds into this country instead of barely more than a dozen?

Instead of 19 hijackers on 4 airplanes, imagine 50 - 60 on a dozen or more.

Imagine also that the terrorists are not only boarding airplanes, but that al Qaeda has infiltrated people into the FAA, where they now work as air traffic controllers. Others are mechanics at working at airlines. On the appointed day they all work in unison. The air traffic controllers issue bogus commands, and the mechanics sabatoge aircraft.

Truck bombers attack attack police stations and government offices, not just in Washington DC or New York, but around the country.

U.S. Military bases experience terrorist attacks carried out by soldiers and sailors working for al Qaeda. Aircraft are destroyed and ships crippled. Others in intelligence or communications units work to sow confusion.

Still terrorists act as snipers in cities, perched atop buildings or holed up in strategically located apartments, shooting at random those below.

How would Americans have acted then? The answer is that we don't know, but it might get ugly very quickly.

Phares lays out just such a scenario in Future Jihad. Now, I think the chances of such a plot going undetected are pretty slim, even in a pre-9/11 mentality. Yet even so, it is not clear that if we had caught some terrorists we could have prevented the entire operation. It is something to think about, certainly.

Up Next:

Guidelines and prescriptive policies.

Previous

In Part 1 I introduced Walid Phares' book Future Jihad and explained the logic of jihad.
In Part 2 I mapped out the three branches of the jihad as identified by Phares.
In Part 3 we discussed methods of the jihad as told by Phares.
In Part 4 we covered how the Saudi Wahabists Undermine the West
Part 5 was about the success the Muslim Brotherhood has had in penetrating the government of Egypt, and it's success in establishing an Islamist government in Sudan

Posted by Tom at 8:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2007

On Target

I'm not typically one to refight old battles. What's done is done. We invaded Iraq and we are there. Whether it was right or not is pretty much irrelevant. I'm interested in what we do next.

But today I'll make an exception.

I thought that yesterday's piece by Christopher Hitchens in Slate titled "So, Mr. Hitchens, Weren't You Wrong About Iraq?" was dead spot on. As such, I'm simply going to reprint part of it here. When Hitch is on, he's on.

Four years after the first coalition soldiers crossed the Iraqi border, one can attract pitying looks (at best) if one does not take the view that the whole engagement could have been and should have been avoided. Those who were opposed to the operation from the beginning now claim vindication, and many of those who supported it say that if they had known then what they know now, they would have spoken or voted differently.

What exactly does it mean to take the latter position? At what point, in other words, ought the putative supporter to have stepped off the train? The question isn't as easy to answer as some people would have you believe. Suppose we run through the actual timeline:

Was the president right or wrong to go to the United Nations in September 2002 and to say that body could no longer tolerate Saddam Hussein's open flouting of its every significant resolution, from weaponry to human rights to terrorism?

A majority of the member states thought he was right and had to admit that the credibility of the United Nations was at stake. It was scandalous that such a regime could for more than a decade have violated the spirit and the letter of the resolutions that had allowed a cease-fire after the liberation of Kuwait. The Security Council, including Syria, voted by nine votes to zero that Iraq must come into full compliance or face serious consequences.

Was it then correct to send military forces to the Gulf, in case Saddam continued his long policy of defiance, concealment, and expulsion or obstruction of U.N. inspectors?

If you understand the history of the inspection process at all, you must concede that Saddam would never have agreed to readmit the inspectors if coalition forces had not made their appearance on his borders and in the waters of the Gulf. It was never a choice between inspection and intervention: It was only the believable threat of an intervention that enabled even limited inspections to resume.
...

Could Iraq have been believably "inspected" while the Baath Party remained in power?

No. The word inspector is misleading here. The small number of U.N. personnel were not supposed to comb the countryside. They were supposed to monitor the handover of the items on Iraq's list, to check them, and then to supervise their destruction. (If Iraq disposed of the items in any other way—by burying or destroying or neutralizing them, as now seems possible—that would have been an additional grave breach of the resolutions.) To call for serious and unimpeachable inspections was to call, in effect, for a change of regime in Iraq. Thus, we can now say that Iraq is in compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty. Moreover, the subsequent hasty compliance of Col. Muammar Qaddafi's Libya and the examination of his WMD stockpile (which proved to be much larger and more sophisticated than had been thought) allowed us to trace the origin of much materiel to Pakistan and thus belatedly to shut down the A.Q. Khan secret black market.

Some people today have it in their heads that the role of the inspectors was to run around the country playing hide-and-seek with the Iraqis. Not the case. As Hitch says, their role was to verify the destruction of the material that Saddam declared following the Gulf War, not "comb the countryside" looking for weapons.

In 1987 the United States and USSR signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty ("INF Treaty"). The US agreed to destroy our Pershing II and some of our GLCMs(Ground Launched Cruise Missile). The Soviets promised to destroy several types of their medium-range missiles, most notably the SS-20.

Inspectors of each country were sent to verify the destruction of the aformentioned systems. They watched while workers cut up the missiles with large saws and burned the fuel in special incinerators. What they did not do is run around the countryside in 4x4s on wild goose chases. Such a scenario would have been unimaginable. Why, then, do so many people seem to think that we should have done just that with Saddam for an indefinate period?

Hitch has a lot more to say, so go and read the whole thing.

Posted by Tom at 10:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 19, 2007

Walter Reed Freep #100 - March 16, 2007 - 100 Weeks in a Row

Neither snow nor rain nor sleet nor gloom of night, nor all four combined can keep the Freepers from our appointed duty.

A special THANK YOU to everybody who came in from out-of-town to be with us! Many of you I know came from areas far north where the weather was much worse. Many people I spoke with told me that it was snowing that morning in their hometown when they left, and that the driving was tough the whole way down. Many I'm sure were not able to come at all. THANK YOU and we hope to see you again!

This Friday was doubly special because it was the 100th week that Free Republic has been holding rallies outside of Walter Reed! It started as a simple counter to Code Pink by a few intrepid FReepers, and has grown into a weekly pro-troops rally that we would keep doing even if the Pinkos stopped holding their protests entirely.

It started out as rain, turned into sleet, and by 8 it was snowing steadily. It rained during the day, which by evening had turned into a mixture of sleet and snow. Temps dropped from the mid-30s to just below freezing, which is about typical for this time of year for the DC area.

We decided to start an hour early because Code Pink announced that they would start at 6pm instead of their usual 7. Since we didn't want them anywhere near the entrance to the hospital, we wanted to make sure we had people there early.

When I got there at about 6:30 there were already over 20 people there with all four corners well staffed by patriotic volunteers. Here's the sight that greeted me as I drove up. The grainyness of the photo conveys the weather conditions. Thankfully I always carry a poncho in the car for just such situations.

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I hoped out and quickly made my way to the "main" corner where we set up shop. There were almost a dozen people on that corner alone and I went around and spoke with each of them. It seemed that almost everybody had come in from out-of-town, the majority from places north. Impressive, given that it was much worse up in New Jersey/Pennsylvania/New York.

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As you can see everyone was in their raingear

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We quickly got our signs out and went to work! As usual we got a huge response from people in their automobiles. Maybe they were just amazed at our dedication, being out there in the rain and sleet, but it seemed that we got a higher number than usual of honks and waves that night

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I counted heads on our side at around 8:00 and came up with about 60 people. Usually we have anywhere from 15-30, the higher number when a group like the GW College Republicans show up. 60 was a very good turnout given that the weather was so bad and that many of our regular folks stayed at home getting our flags and banners ready for Saturday's Gathering of Eagles on the Mall.

After awhile I took out my notebook and tried to record names, but had to stop after just one corner. The rain just about soaked the pages, and cold just about froze my fingers. People also came and went so I'm afraid any list will be incomplete. I thought about just trying to list the regulars but didn't want to slight folks who took the effort to come in from out-of-town. My apologies and I hope no one is offended.

Here are a pair of intrepid FReepers who came in from out of town to join us

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This patriot isn't going to let a little bad weather stop her from showing the flag

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About the time the sun went down the rain had turned to sleet and we had snow mixing in with the lot. It was wet snow so the flakes were large. You can even see them in this next photo

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Sometime during the evening we saw the long-time Pinko we call "Squeeje Man" walk past us to join his gang of traitors. Several of us decided to follow him down and see how many of them there were. We counted about 12, which was kind of surprising. I figured that they'd have more people in town too for the events on Saturday. I guess they just couldn't take the weather, or are just demoralized from being sidelined for so long. Probably both.

Here then is the obligatory shot of the sad bad of Pinkos down the street.

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One thing we've noticed is that their leaders are almost never with them. On only a few occasions have Code Pink founders Medea Benjamin and Gael Murphy been spotted, and they rarely seem to stay the entire time. That's one good reason, I am sure, that their numbers have steadily dropped. I guess Medea and Gael figure they're too important.

Kristinn Taylor, on the other hand, is present from beginning to end at almost all of our FReeps. If you want to make something a success you have to lead by example, and I'd certainly say our Walter Reed FReeps have been successful.

Here are some more of our friends from out-of-town

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Bad weather didn't stop this FReeper from carrying three flags and a sign

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I know this next one is grainy but poor Mrs Trooprally didn't want to use her good camera and for excellent reason. Water damage doesn't do a camera well! It's just as well though because I think the way the photo came out rather conveys the feeling of being in a mixture of sleet and snow after dark

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And unless I am very much mistaken this is Jim Robinson, the founder of Free Republic, who came out to join us

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Thank you once again for everyone who came out to be with us this evening! In selecting photos I tried to get the folks from out-of-town who aren't usually with us.

And for all the rest of you, we realize that it may not ever be possible for you to join us in person, but that you are here in spirit. We very much appreciate your thoughts and prayers. All I would do is encourage you to seek ways in your community to show your support for our troops. Most of you probably already participate in various programs.

Until next time...

Acknowledgements and More

Don't be shy! We'd love to have you with us one evening. If you'd like details on location, parking, etc, please send FReepmail to me or any of the other DC chapter members. You can also reach me by email at redhunter43@yahoo.com


* A special Thank You to Mrs Trooprally for taking the photos for this AAR. You can find all of the photos she took for this FReep on her Photobucket site

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

* Thank you always to Kristinn and tgslTakoma for all the work they do to keep these FReeps happening.

* This post can also be viewed on Free Republic

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2007

A Gathering of Patriots

It was a historic day in Washington DC today when thousands and thousands of American war veterans and other patriots gathered to show their support for the troops currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as counter the moonbats of International ANSWER and other sumilar groups.

Months ago when they set this up, ANSWER no doubt thought they'd have the day largely to themselves. But not this time. First, the incident on Jan 27 at the UPJ protest where anarchists spray-painted the capital made a lot of people mad. Second, ANSWER decided to start their march at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. That torqued off Vietnam veterans, who remember well how they were stabbed in the back by leftist protesters and said they're not going to use our memorial extremist agenda.

A grassroots organization called a Gathering of Eagles sprang up to take action. Melanie Morgan led a caravan across America called "These Colors Don't Run", making her final stop the Mall in Washington DC. Sgt. Artie Muller, Founder and Executive Director of Rolling Thunder, put out a call to all chapters to show up at the Wall on March 17, because "we do not want, nor will we tolerate a repeat of what happened at the U.S. Capitol." Veterans for Victory and Free Republic also put forth a full-press efforts.

The result was that although it was a cold, windy and muddy day on the Mall in Washington DC, thousands of Vietnam veterans and other patriots showed up to show their support for our troops currently serving and to make sure the moonbats knew that their message was not appreciated and that if you got right down to it, they were a bunch of traitorous idiots.

And if you don't believe me when I say these things about ANSWER, check out David Horowitz entry on them at DiscoverTheNetwork, and if that's not enough for you take it from David Corn himself, a writer for the leftist magazing The Nation. His October 2002 article on them tells it all.

I got uptown at about 8:30m, and made my way to 21st and Constitution, across from which on the Mall was the Gathering of Patriots sponsored by the aforementioned groups. People continued to show up all morning, but there were several hundred there when I arrived. Our space (all reserved by permit) was maybe 200 yards from the Vietnam Memorial(more on it later). ANSWER and other traitors had permits for other areas. In between the permit areas hundreds roamed freely. Perhaps it was my perception from where I was, but it seemed like the vast majority of them were on our side.

As you'll see from the photos below, there were a huge number of Vietnam vets there

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American flags were at the patriot rally by the hundreds. I saw not one among the leftists.


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In this one you can see the stage and other tents in the background. Behind that is Constitution Avenue, where later that morning we countered some moonbats on the march, including the odious Code Pink.


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I thought this next sign was especially good


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After awhile we decided to pay our respects to the Vietnam Memorial itself. I've been there before, but it seemed like a good thing to do today. Before today's event there was a lot of talk on blogs by lefties about how "we're going to the wall and what are you going to do about it? (I even had one such comment). Veterans and other patriots were understandable nervous, given the episode in January where the Capitol steps were defaced, and because of how in general leftists tend to act at their protests.

Fortunately the Park Police had the situation well under control. They fenced off the memorial, and limited access to a single point where they used metal detectors to search everybody. All liquids and aerosols were banned, as you might imagine. There was a line of a few hundred waiting to get in, and it took us maybe 1/2 hour to make it to security.

While waiting in line we could hear the ANSWER rally getting underway a few hundred yards away by the Lincoln Memorial. I can't be certain but I think we heard the disgraceful Cindy Sheehan parroting whatever latest talking points were handed to her. We heard a few other speakers rant and rave about the usual stuff. We also heard them play Calypso music, which we thought odd.

If you click to enlarge the below photo, you'll notice that the lady at lower right talking on her cell phone has on a Dennis Kucinich sweatshirt.


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The First Moonbats Arrive!

After visiting the memorial we headed back to the Gathering of Eagles where we were earlier. No sooner had we arrived when we noticed a crowd of leftists marching down the sidewalk on Constitution Avenue. They were headed to the area by the Lincoln Memorial where ANSWER was holding their pre-march rally.

A crowd of patriots quickly gathered to see the sight and express their wonder. It was my impression that most of the patriots had not been to a leftist "anti-war" protest before, so had never seen real moonbats in the flesh. I say this because the general attitude of most of them, especially I think of the Vietnam vets from Rolling Thunder, was more one of amused contempt than anything else.

The leftists had to weed their way through a crowd of patriots that lined both sides of the sidewalk. Note to any leftists reading this: Don't get your panties in a wad, the moonbats were allowed to pass peacefully. Most of what the crowd of patriots did was chant "USA! USA! USA!" again and again. We were quite loud and drowned out even one leftist who had a megaphone


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Do I even need to say that all of the American flags were in the hands of the patriots?

I got closer and mixed it up with the crowd. It was quite a mob scene there for awhile, but everyone was totally self-controlled.

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Next came the nutjobs of Code Pink (exposed here at DiscoverTheNetwork). This bunch has the bad-taste to hold "anti-war" protests outside Walter Reed Army Medical Center every Friday night(Details here, here, and here. In January 2005 we got them moved down the street so that they're no longer at the main entrance, but of course they shouldn't be there at all. Everyone has a right to protest, but it is disgraceful that they choose to do it in front of a military hospital. Over my year and a half of countering them there, I've spoken with hundreds of veterans and their families, and can tell you that whatever they think about President Bush or the war, they despise Code Pink.

This one with the megaphone was completely drowned out by the crowd of patriots who were shouting "USA! USA! USA!" over and over.

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Here's Code Pink Nutjob-in-Chief Media Benjamin. Last year I and some other Freepers had a run-in with her and co-nutjob Gail Murphy in front of Walter Reed when they came up to confront us. Big mistake. Gail was actually beside Media but they went by so fast I wasn't able to get them both.


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The ANSWER March

After all this we decided to head over to the Lincoln Memorial to see the moonbats as they marched from their gathering spot across the Memorial Bridge to get closer to the Pentagon. We brought with us several Free Republic American flags, as well as few banners. It was too windy to fly the banners, so we set up the flags and carried them.

Much to my delight there were hundreds if not thousands of Rolling Thunder Vietnam veterans and other patriots lining the march route ( From my vantage point I could not be sure how many people there where. Patriots were lined up on both sides of the Lincoln Memorial and across the bridge as well).

The ANSWER people are marching from right to left in these photos. The Lincoln Memorial is behind me, and in this first photo you can see the marchers start to make their way across the bridge. You can also see red Che Guevara flags carried by the moonbats. See why I called them communists in my earlier post rallying people to join us for this day?


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In addition to the patriots on the street below lining the march route, many hundreds more stood atop the wall around the Lincoln Memorial.

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Lots of flags among the patriots, none that I saw among the leftists. Update: Actually, a few photos below there are some leftists carrying an American flag. Of course, it's upside down, so it doesn't really count. Ever notice how leftists can't just fly the American flag straight? They have to jazz it up with a peace symbol in place of the stars or fly it upside down or something.


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Of course the "9-11 Truthers" were there. I saw a few dozen signs like this one


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More idiots


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But lots and lots of patriots


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A large group of patriotic war veterans just turned their backs on the protesters


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Update: :

Initially I posted an estimate that there were 30,000 patriots in attendance. Since I cannot confirm that, I have removed that section and added this next paragraph:

Estimates are all over the place with regard to how many people were in attendance. Whatever the figures, the bottom line is that the leftists were successfully challenged by large numbers of patriots. The leftists expected to have the public square to themselves. The hard-core leftists may have liked a challenge, but the average person who just thought they'd show up for a "peace" march wasn't expecting to be challenged by thousands of Vietnam veterans. These leftists did not have a good time, and for that I am pleased.

The reaction of the patriots ranged from angry words, to shouted but not-angry words, to bemused contempt. Most of the older veterans just stood there shaking their heads. Most of the yelling, I think, was by the younger people (in this case under 50!), which isn't really surprising. My first few counter-protests I joined in some of the hollering, but these past few I've more just observed. Maybe I'm jaded or the novelty has just gone out of it for me.

So the ANSWER people made their way across the Memorial Bridge into Arlington where they held another rally and I'm sure railed against BushCo some more. But we were done, victims of both an early morning rise and hours out in the cold wind. The communists could have their fun in Arlington without us, for we had made our point.

It was certainly an historic day to remember.


Other Coverage

Michelle Malkin was there, and has photos and commentary. She says that they'll have video on Hot Air Monday.

BlogmeisterUSA was there and has photos and commentary.

7.62mm Justice was there and says he'll post pictures later.

Age of Hooper has one video up and I would expect more tomorrow or shortly thereafter. Update: Hooper now has another video and two photo essays up. One is of the Moonbats and the other of the Gathering of Eagles.

I saw Tantor of Conservative Propaganda there, but he was too far away for me to get his attention. Look for a post from him soon. Update: Tantor's first post is up. Part II is now up as well, and he promises a Part III. Lots of good photos and commentary. Update II: Part III and even a Part IV (the last I think) is up. Definately worth a visit.

This Ain't Hell has excellent photos and commentary.

Mary Katharine Ham was there and has video of the speakers at the Gathering of Eagles.

Semper Gratus has good pics from the area around the Lincoln Memorial and Memorial Bridge.

This post on Free Republic has several good photos.

Michelle Malkin has her own photo essay up as well as links to many other blogs, including this one (Thank you Michelle!)

Update: Hot Air has three new videos up: Here is their main show on the Gathering of Eagles. If you don't follow any other links, make sure you go see this one. It's one of their best. In this one Bryan has posted a photo essay, and at bottom is a video of Kristinn Taylor of Free Republic being interviewed on Fox News. And here you can see Move America Forward's TV commercial which will be shown on national TV starting Monday. Be sure to watch all of them.

Media Accounts

The Washington Post's headline was "4 Years After Start of War, Anger Reigns:
Demonstrators Brave Cold to Carry Message to Pentagon, as Counter-Protesters Battle Back". A bit overly dramatic, I think. Maybe I'm a bit jaded after having been to several of these, but I think that between the story and accompanying photo essay they tried to make it sound a whole lot "angrier" than it really was. Read the blogs for comparison

The Washington Times, on the other hand, headlined their shorter story "Anti-war protesters echo Vietnam", which was more accurate, I thought. Not as much detail, but they avoid the hyperbole of the Post.

Final Update

SMASH (who is also an occasional visitor to our Walter Reed FReeps) was uptown and filed a report on his site. What's interesting is that he goes into the history of ANSWER and the 2004 split within the Workers World Party which I did not know about. The ones who left the WWF formed the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and they now control ANSWER. The WWP formed a front group called the Troops Out Now Coalition. The odious Brian Becker has switched his membership from the WWF to the PSL as evidenced by this article he wrote which was recently published in the magazine of the PSL titled "Why We Are Marching on the Pentagon".

Posted by Tom at 6:55 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack

Mark Your Calendar for March 17

This post will stay at the top until March 17
Updated March 12, scroll to bottom

The communists at International ANSWER have planned an "anti-war" protest for Saturday, March 17th, in our nation's capital.

We cannot let them have the day to themselves. If at all possible, please make arrangements to come to Washington DC and help us counter these people. We cannot let them deface our capital unchallenged. As the date draws nearer I'll post information on where we will meet to counter these traitors, but for now just make note of March 17 your calendar.

From the ANSWER website

On March 17, 2007, the 4th anniversary of the start of the criminal invasion of Iraq, tens of thousands of people from around the country will descend on the Pentagon in a mass demonstration to demand: U.S. Out of Iraq Now! 2007 is the 40th anniversary of the historic 1967 anti-war march to the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. The message of the 1967 march was "From Protest to Resistance," and marked a turning point in the development of a countrywide mass movement. ...

The March 17 demonstration will assemble at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Constitution Gardens) at 12 noon in Washington, D.C.and march to the Pentagon.

Among the endorsers listed on their website; moonbat-in-chief Cindy Sheehan.

But of course.

Update

It would appear that ANSWER miscalculated by announcing that they would start at the Vietnam Memorial. There has been a strong reaction from veterans groups who do not want their memorial used by the extreme left.

Move America Forward
has organized a "These Colors Don't Run" National Caravan. It will start in San Francisco on March 8 and work it's way across the country, ending up in Washington DC on Friday, March 16th. They will set up a "Flag City" on the Capitol Mall that day. That evening they will be with Free Republic at Walter Reed Army Medical Center to show support for the troops.

On Saturday they are sponsoring a "Patriotic/Pro-Troop Rally with Move America Forward, A Gathering of Eagles, Free Republic, Rolling Thunder, Vets for Victory
& Others"

The message from Rolling Thunder's Founder and Executive Director Sgt. Artie Muller is particularly strong:

On March 17, 2007 a group of anti-war protestors are planning to march to the Pentagon from Washington, D.C. The March 17th anti-war demonstration will assemble at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Constitution Gardens) at 12 noon in Washington, D.C. and march to the Pentagon. In order to ensure that the Wall and other Memorials in the general area are not defaced, like what happened at the anti-war demonstration at the U.S. Capitol on January 27th. I am requesting that as many Rolling Thunder, Inc. chapters, members and supporters that can make it, meet at the Wall no later than 8:00 AM on the 17th. We do not want, nor will we tolerate a repeat of what happened at the U.S. Capitol. Rolling Thunder members be sure to wear your Rolling Thunder vests on the 17th. Show your support to our Troops, to those who sacrificed their lives in the past Wars and to protect our Memorials. Hope you can make it.

As a result ANSWER has changed their tune. Now they're posting this

We will not be in the Vietnam Memorial and all speakers for amplified sound are turned away from the Memorial so as not to interfere with family members visiting the site.

Heh heh.

Update II

Kristinn Taylor's Citizens Report on Iraq provides excellent information on the situation there that you won't find elsewhere. Download it, and if you read nothing else go though pages 68-75; "There is no Anti-War Left in America". Here's an excerpt

What the media call antiwar protesters are actually pro-terrorist propaganda exercises organized by Marxist front groups whose leaders cut their teeth cheerleading the North Vietnamese communists to victory in the Sixties and Seventies, who spent their time in the Eighties aiding Marxist guerrillas in Central America and working with the Soviet Union on its nuclear freeze propaganda program, and in the Nineties organizing anti-capitalism riots while propping up Cold War remnant leftist dictators like Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and Saddam Hussein.

Read it and you'll learn all about the origins of International ANSWER and other "anti-war" groups.

In addition to the information on leftist groups, the report covers much else that you don't usually find in the news. From the press release announcing the report

In the Citizens Report on Iraq, readers will learn that progress is being made in Iraq; there are large areas of Iraq that are safe and prospering; that the enemy is being killed and wounded in astounding proportion to American casualties; that the reporting on Iraq by the dominant media is universally despised as inaccurate and misleading by those fighting for Free Iraq -- Americans and Iraqis alike; that the so-called antiwar movement, including the organizers of this past weekend's protest in Washington, is led by terrorist supporting Marxists as part of a global alliance seeking America's defeat in the Global War on Terror and that a prominent White House correspondent has allied herself with one of these groups.

Check it out.

Update III

Check out this video from Melanie Morgan of Move America Forward on the "These Colors Don't Run" National Caravan.

Update IV

Michell Malkin says in a hotair video "How many times have you (watched moonbats) thought to yourself 'what can I do? . Put down the remote control, kick off your slippers, get rid of the chips, and get off your rear end!" She and Bryan Preston will be there, she promises.

And if you doubt my description of ANSWER as a bunch of communists, don't believe me, believe David Corn, the leftist writer for The Nation. Here's a reprint of his October 2002 article in which he exposes ANSWER as a front group for the Workers World Party.

Update VI

The communists at ANSWER are definately spooked. Not only have they removed all references to the Vietnam Memorial from their website, they've cancelled the rally at the jumpoff site too. Here's their latest garbage

There will not be a rally at the assembly area, as we want to hit the streets and march to the Pentagon. There will be a rally at the Pentagon. It is important that everyone make the effort to get to the assembly location at 23rd and Constitution early. Try to get to the site by noon - don't miss the march! If you are coming by bus or driving from out of town, make sure your group is leaving early enough to get you to the assembly site no later than noon.

At the assembly site, between 8 a.m. and 12:30, there will be a pre-march People's Assembly in the park at 23rd and Constitution. Contingents and organizations will be providing information displays and literature tables. We will be joined by the famous Bread and Puppet Theater. There will be children's activities, including sign-making for the march, where our children can also pick up anti-war balloons. There will be a large Impeach Bush tent with impeachment materials and a place for impeachment advocates from around the country to gather and meet.

Patriots will still meet at the Vietnam Memorial early that morning. Be there if you can.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

March 14, 2007

Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 5: Brotherhood Success Stories

In Part 1 I introduced Walid Phares' book Future Jihad and explained the logic of jihad.

In Part 2 I mapped out the three branches of the jihad as identified by Phares.

In Part 3 we discussed methods of the jihad as told by Phares.

In Part 4 we covered how the Saudi Wahabists Undermine the West

The Muslim Brotherhood: Success Stories

As explained earlier, the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the three branches of the jihad. The first two are Sunni Salafist; the Wahabists and Muslim Brotherhood. The third is Shiite; the Khumeinists. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in the 1920s by Hassan al Banna. Not directly affiliated with any government, it "uses the power of Muslims" at the grassroots level throughout the Middle East to infiltrate socities from the bottom up.

In Part 3 I laid out the Brotherhood strategy as explained by Phares; they infiltrate a target government from the bottom up and then back down again, carerful not to confront the regime until they have appropriate strength. Ideally they'll gain enough power to stage a coup, if not, influencing the rulers will do.

Their ultimate goal is the same as the Wahabi Salafists; a worldwide caliphate.

Today we'll examine some some Brotherhood success stories.

The Sudan

The biggest success of the Muslim Brotherhood has come in Sudan. In 1989 a coup brought to power the National Islamic Front(NIF). The military officers who seized power were led by General Umar al Bashir, and the NIF was led by Dr Hassan Turabi, described by Phares as a "shrewd intellectual."

As everyone knows, the government of the Sudan decided to wage a series of jihads against their own citizens. The first was against Christian and animist Africans in the south of the country, and the second, which continues today, is against African Muslims in Darfur. In addition to waging genocidal jihad, they used another weapon; slavery. Tens of thousands of Africans were sold into slavery around the Arab world in an attempt to subdue the target populations.

Turabi also invited the world's most infamous terrorist into Sudan; Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden stayed there as a guest of the NIF approximately from 1991 to 1996. From Sudan al Qaeda planned and executed a series of terrorist attacks, which we will cover in future installments.

The Palestinian Authority

In order to achieve it's goals against Israel, the Brotherhood created Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Of the two the former has been by far the most successful, gaining power in the Palestinian Authority after winning the January 2006 elections.

Hamas, of course, is part of the "rejectionists"; no negotiations and no recognition of Israel's right to exist. Their reason is not geopolitical or some Western concept of revenge for alleged wrongs, but rather purely Islamist; any land once ruled by Muslims must never revert to rule by the infidels. Brotherhood writings make clear that this holds true not only for "Palestine", but Chechnya, Kashmir, and even Spain.

Egypt

The base of the Muslim Brotherhood is still in Egypt, where it remains popular, despite being officially outlawed. President Hosni Mubarak (b 1928) is growing old, and the Brotherhood sees a chance to seize power when he dies.

In order to prepare for the day when Islamists can seize power, they have been infiltrating Egyptian institutions. Over the decades the government has attempted to destroy the Brotherhood by mass arrests and persecution, but has never been completely successful, as the Brotherhood always comes back.

The Brotherhood advocates democracy, and uses elections to place its own people in power. In fact they have made strong showings in recent elections, sometimes teaming with other parties in alliances of convenience.

Other Countries

The Muslim Brotherhood has chapters in almost all Arab Middle Eastern countries. As many of these countries have a parliament, they always try to get their members elected.

The Brotherhood is also active in the United States. According to Wikipedia, Muslim activists involved with the Muslim Brotherhood have started organizations in the US including the Muslim Students Association in 1963, North American Islamic Trust in 1971, the Islamic Society of North America in 1981, the American Muslim Council in 1990, and the Muslim American Society in 1992, and the International Institute of Islamic Thought in the 1980s.

Next Up: Al Qaeda

In the next installament we'll examine the origins of al Qaeda, it's goals, and what Osama bin Laden thought would happen after the attacks of Sept 11 2001.

Update

Two articles of interest on the Muslim Brotherhood today.

In the first one, Candace de Russy writes on NRO about that "darling of the left", Tariq Ramadan. Ramadan is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood:

Joseph Crowley reports that this past weekend Ramadan tangled with a young policewoman who stopped him from entering a prohibited area of Charles de Gaulle Airport. Crowley writes

an indignant Ramadan pitched such a macho hissy fit that airport police felt compelled to detained and officially charged him with “insulting a public agent” - punishable by up to 6 months of relatively torture free imprisonment and a € 7,500 fine.

Crowley wonders if “you can take the chauvinist out of Sharia” and “if the SOS-Racisme…, the French equivalent of our ACLU, will pick up the Islamophobic gauntlet thrown down by the French police in this case.”

In the second, M. Zuhdi Jasser writes about "The Not-So-Moderate Muslim Brotherhood", after Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke tell us in an article in Foreign Affairs that the Brotherhood's “relative moderation offers Washington a notable opportunity for engagement.”

After reviewing their argument, Jasser comments that

As a devout anti-Islamist American Muslim I have been struggling to explain to all those who will listen the central incompatibility of the Islamist doctrine with America’s pluralistic ideology. The literal Islamization of society, consciousness, and government as advocated by the Muslim Brotherhood is an anathema to America as it is to a pluralistic and liberated Islam. Leiken and Brooke, in effect, whitewash an international organization whose mission is at odds with our own Constitutional system of governance.

Read the whole thing.

March 30 Update

Egypt is trying to stamp out the Brotherhood, and the latest tactic is constitutional reform. In an article published Monday the 26th by Amir Taheri tells how President Mubarak's proposals would rewrite 34 articles of the constitution. He says it will move the country towards democratic pluralism. Critics say that the objective is really to consolidate the grip on power held by existing elites and the armed forces. Among the critics is the Muslim Brotherhood.

Taheri relates how the proposals target the Muslim Brotherhood in two ways

* They would make it illegal for any political party or group to be based on religion, forcing the Brotherhood to drop the word "Muslim" from its name and its old slogan, "Islam is the Solution."

* They would enable the government to stop the Brotherhood and similar Islamist organizations raising funds and establishing welfare networks as a means of recruiting members. The authorities may use the new constitutional provisions as an excuse to seize the Brotherhood's considerable assets, accumulated over some 80 years of business activities.

Analyzing all this, Taheri says that

Despite the Brotherhood's objections, the idea of banning political parties based on religion appears to have substantial support across Egypt. Mubarak's liberal and leftist critics support the measure because it forces the Brotherhood and other Islamist outfits to fight for votes by offering political programs rather than fomenting religious passions.

The idea that political parties should not be based on religion is gaining ground in much of the Muslim world.

I certainly hope so.

A quick news search shows some predictable headlines: "Voters Scarce as Egypt Holds Constitutional Referendum", "Blogs show footage alleging vote rigging in Egypt’s referendum", and "Egypt introduces changes, but much remains the same"

Sigh.

Posted by Tom at 8:24 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 13, 2007

Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 4: How the Wahabists Undermine the West

In Part 1 I introduced Walid Phares' book Future Jihad and explained the logic of jihad.

In Part 2 I mapped out the three branches of the jihad as identified by Phares

In Part 3 we discussed methods of the jihad as told by Phares.

How the Wahabists Undermine the West

As Phares tells is, the Wahabi strategy runs like this:

Inside Saudi Arabia, "pure" Islam would be practiced. Sharia law in its most harsh form would be enforced.

Outside the country, a two-track strategy was pursued. The long-term one is diplomatic and financial support for like-minded Islamists around the world through their schools, charities, mosques, hospitals, and the like. The second is to use its oil wealth to influence Western governments and the media. In effect, to pull the wool over our eyes while they infiltrate us.

Phares has identified six tracks that the jihadists follow in the West:

1) Economic jihad: Oil as a weapon - Because we need their oil, we collaborate with them. This give them the opening that they seek.

2) Ideological jihad: Intellectual penetration - The Wahabis have spend much time and money penetrating academia. Many if not most Middle East studies programs are funded by Saudi money. For their money the Saudis want and get a sanitized version of Islamic history.

3) Political jihad: Mollification of the public - One, reassure the public that there is nothing to worry about, and two, promote acceptance of Islam in general and their verison in particular. They want us to turn to their approved sources for information about Islam.

4) Intelligence jihad: Infiltration of the country - The first step is to control the Islamic community in the target country. They do this by trying to gain control of the mosques, Muslim community centers and the like. The next step is to encourage their members and sympathizers to join Western governments, intelligence agencies, police units, and military.

5) Subversive jihad: Behind enemy lines and protected by its laws - As long as they obey the laws of the target government, they are relatively safe. As Phares put it during an interview on NBC after 9-11: "The safest place on Earth to hide from the dragon is inside its belly."

6) Diplomatic jihad: Controlling foreign policy - "Arabists" in the US State Department have been a problem for some time. Because we listened to Saudi advice we became convinced that the Taliban weren't really so bad, we missed al Qaeda because they didn't want us to know the truth about how close OBL's philosophy was to Saudi Wahabism, we let Hezbollah take over Lebanon, and we stalled too long over Sudan and let a genocide develop.

Other Wahabist Infiltration Strategies

Sometimes the apologists simply try to discredit their critics. Ismael Royer of CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) made it his mission to track and attempt to discredit academics such as Daniel Pipes and Walid Phares, as well as human rights activists such as Charles Jacobs.

Phares has been called as an expert witness in for the prosecution at the trials of many accused of terrorism-related crimes. He related sevaral stories about how the defense tries to conceal the nature of the material the police investigators found:

In every single case I witnessed and in all cases I reviewed (on both sides of the Atlantic), one pattern is dominant. There is a clear and firm attempt by a political faction to deny essential information and education to juries, prosecutors, and judges. The Wahabi lobby did all it could to block basic facts from reaching the United States and the western justice system regarding jihadism. In each case, where the defendants were tried for alleged terrorism, the defense and their experts would claim that Salafism is not jihadism and that jihad is not violent.

The Wahabists have also tried to exploit racial tensions by recruiting black Americans. Bin Laden and other jihadists have a somewhat strange attitude towards race. On the one hand, they talk about a war against the "white man". Yet in Sudan they favor the Arab Muslims over black Muslims of Darfur and the south. Yet again in the US they try to recruit blacks and influence the Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. As Phares tells it, "the ultimate scenario of al Qaeda and it's sisters are for many U.S cities to look more like Sarajevo, Beirut, and Belfast at the peak of urban wars." In future installments we will explore this further when we talk about what bin Laden hoped would happen after 9-11.

Why We Missed bin Laden

The reason we missed the threat posed by al Qaeda, Phares says, is because the Wahabis had successfully penetrated the US to the degree that "before Sept 11, if the government had issued national "warnings" of potential "jihadists attacks" even by al Qaeda, it would have been faced with a barrage of apologists accusing it of bashing Islam." It is hard to see how he is wrong, given that even after Sept 11, when the President talks about "Islamic Facsists", he is criticized by at least one prominent democrat. In fairness, had President Clinton declared a "War on Jihadism", Republicans and conservatives would have dismissed it as an attempt to "wag the dog".

The failure to see the danger went beyond politics and the government, however. The media completely dropped the ball, discussing terrorism but not jihadism or any form of Islamic radicalism. The worse, Phares says, was PBS, which actually showed more programs endorsing the aplogists than all of the broadcast and cable networks combined.

Phares disagrees with the 9/11 Commission that our failure to prevent the attacks of that day were a failure of imagination. He sees it more as a failure to educate Americans on the danger of jihadism. And the reason we failed is that penetration by the Saudi Wahabists successfully pulled the wool over our eyes.

Next up: Brotherhood Success Stories

Walid Phares relates how the Muslim Brotherhood has tried, with varying degress of success, to infiltrate Middle Eastern societies and take control of governments.

Update

If you doubt that Salafist infiltration is taking place in the West, consider this editorial by Paul Belien of the Brussels Journal, titled "The Islamicization of Antwerp", which appeared in today's Washington Times. Following are the first few paragraphs (emphasis added)

The decisive battle against Islamic extremists will not be fought in Iraq, but in Europe. It is not in Baghdad but in cities like Antwerp, Belgium, where the future of the West will be decided.

I recently met Marij Uijt den Bogaard, a 49-year-old woman who deserves America's support at least as much as Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Ms. Uijt den Bogaard was an Antwerp civil servant in the 1990s, who spent many years working in the immigrant neighborhoods of Antwerp. There she noticed how radical Islamists began to take over. "They work according to a well-defined plan," she says.

One of the things Ms. Uijt den Bogaard used to do for the immigrants was to assist them with their administrative paperwork. Quite a few of them came to trust her.

About three years ago, young men dressed in black moved into the neighborhoods. They had been trained in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and adhere to Salafism, a radical version of Islam. They set up youth organizations, which gradually took over the local mosques. "The Salafists know how to debate and they know the Qur'an by heart, while the elderly running the mosques do not," she said They also have money. "One of them told me that he gets Saudi funds." Because they are eloquent, the radicals soon became the official spokesmen of the Muslim community, also in dealing with the city authorities. Ms. Uijt den Bogaard witnessed how the latter gave in to Salafist demands, such as the demand for separate swimming hours for Muslim women in the municipal pools.

Read the whole thing.

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Soldiers Angels in Kansas City

My friend Kat, who normally blogs at The Middle Ground, has been working with some of her friends to do something special for the troops in her area.

They became involved in the Kansas City chapter of the Soldiers Angels, a 501 3(c) organization dedicated to sending care packages to our troops overseas. Their motto: "May No Soldier Go Unloved"

Among other things, Kat and her frields constructed a float and marched in the annual North Kansas City, Missouri Snake Saturday Parade. The Snake parade is a charity event and raises awareness for charities in the Kansas City area.

Videos are on the KC chapter website. Go and watch them.

Several times I have posted about Adopt-a-Platoon, an organization in which I participate to send letters and care packages to soldiers. Whether you choose to participate through one of these or another charity doesn't matter. Our troops need to know that we care about them and are willing to take action. Head over and sign up today.

Posted by Tom at 7:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 12, 2007

Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 3: Methods of the Jihad

One of the problems we face in fighting this war is that I do not think that most people understand who we are fighting. Much of this is the fault of the Administration, which insisted on calling it the "War on Terror"

This name implies that the only people who really threaten us are those who engage directly in terrorist acts. As such, when you mention "War on Terror" most people, I think, believe that we are fighting al Qaeda and al Qaeda only.

In Part I of my review of Walid Phares Future Jihad, I introduced his book and laid out the jihadist's world view. In Part II I mapped out the three branches of the jihad as identified by Phares; two Sunni Salafist, Wahabi and Muslim Brotherhood, and the third Shiite, the Khumeinists.

In this installment I'll discuss some of the methods the jihadists use against us as identified by Phares. Readers will note that violence is not part of all or even most of the jihad.

Following is a brief overview of the methods used by each of the three branches of the jihad. In future installments I'll go through each of these in more detail.

The Wahabists: Top Down Jihad

As discussed in Part I, Salafi Wahabist Islam is the state religion of Saudi Arabia. The goal of the Wahabists is to spread their version of Islam throughout the world, and eventually unify it under the caliphate. The way they do this is by sending "pilgrims" into targeted societies/countries and infiltrate it's institutions. This process is funded by oil revenues. The function of the Saudi state is to reassure the targeted people that all is well and that there is nothing to be worried about. In effect, to pull the wool over our eyes.

At the end of World War II the Wahabists made two historic choices; first, they decided that they would adhere to Western concepts of international law, and second, they allied themselves with the West against the communists.

Their method of spreading their version of Islam is characterized by Phares as a "top down" approach:

The Wahabi state logic was perhaps the most perfect one: Float with the world, release the teachings without violence, let the teachings plant the seeds, wait for their growth irrigate them with money, and make sure to mollify any abrup reaction from the other side. ...

(At the formation of the Saudi state) a historic deal was cut between the emirs on the one hand and the radical clerics on the other. The monarchy would manage the finances and political power, including diplomacy, while the scholars would be in charge of the souls, especially the young ones. The other component of the equation, the Salafi clerics, roamed the world preaching Wahabism with state funding and encouragement.

The Muslim Brotherhood: Bottom Up Jihad

Unlike the state-sponsored Wahabists, the Brotherhood is independant of any state. It works with rulers who are sympathetic to it, but operates outside of them. Theirs is a "grassroots" strategy. While the Wahabists "float with the world", the Brotherhood floats with the target society, which thus far has always been a Middle Eastern one.

The Brotherhood is part of the same Sunni Salafist tradition as the Wahabists. To some extent the Brotherhood competes with the Saudi Wahabists for influence within the Muslim world. Sometimes they cooperate, it all depends on the politics of the moment.

Basically, the Brotherhood seeks to change a society and government by trying to put its members or symthathizers in positions of influence. These positions may be in the media, industry, military, or, if it exists in the target country, a parliament. It is willing to start small, encouraging members to join at the "entry level" and work their way up. Rather than fighting the regime directly, it seeks to undermine it from the bottom up.

After infiltrating from the bottom up, they work their way back down again. As Phares explains, "the Brotherhood would be intereted in spreading through the elites, converting them patiently into the Salafi doctrime, and only then enlisting them into the organization." They never engaged the regime directly until they reached full strength. Their methods were "amazingly fluid and adaptable to circumstances. Their ideal shortcut wa to infiltrate the ranks of the military and proceed with a coup d'etat against the government. Their next choice was to "advise" the ruler and influence him instead."

In addition, the Brotherhood has created Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad to pursue the fight against Israel. Hamas is a terrorist group, but also participates in the political process. This is important to note, for it again shows the sophistication of the Brotherhood in pursuit of it's goals. We must understand that these are not a bunch of ignorants who sit around playing with AK-47s and C4 explosive.

The Khumeinists: The Shiite Superpower

It is important not to think of this group as Iranians for the simple reason is that is not how they see themselves. Yes, nationalism plays a role. But the mullah's highest allegiance is to Allah, not to their nation. While this is theoretically true of all religious people, it would be a mistake to see a similarity between the Khumeinists and Western Christians or Jews. The goal of the Khumeinists is not Iranian power but the creation of a Shiite Imamate.

As discussed in Part 1, for thirteen centuries the Shiites were shut out of the jihad. Considered a footnote, the West barely took note of them. All of the ancient calphates were Sunni. When they gained control of Iran in 1979 they shook the Musim world to it's foundations by announcing that they would not only participate in, but would lead, the jihad. This not only placed them in competition with the Salafists, but spurred the latter on to more extremism as well.

While the Salafists seek to infiltrate targeted countries/societies, the Khumeinists seek to build a superstate that will dominate the region. Their goals are limited by the demographics of where Shiites live; Iran and a few other countries in the region, notably Iraq.

From what some Shiite jihadists have said, once the Khumeinist superpower is in place, a more general jihad can ensue which will result in the Fatah(conquest of infidels).

Next up: How the Wahabists undermine the West

In the next installment we'll get into more detail on how the Wahabists go about the business of infiltrating Western societies.

Posted by Tom at 9:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 9, 2007

Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 2: Who are the Jihadists?

On September 11, 2001, our homeland was directly attacked for the first time since the war of 1812 by a foreign enemy. We learned shortly thereafter that al Qaeda was responsible. Everyone, or almost everyone, realized that what occured had been building for some time. Suddenly all of the attacks on us that occured during the 1990s around the world didn't seem so far away anymore. Further, the idea that we should respond as if the attack was a criminal matter seemed absurd to everyone except those on the far ends of the political spectrum. We were going to war.

The President quickly termed it the "War on Terror". Unfortunately, this designation has served to obfuscate rather than clarify the nature of our enemy.

The fact is that despite the horrors of that day, Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terror network make up only one part, and a small one at that, of the enemy that we face. In no way am I minimizing the threat from al Qaeda, for it is real and serious. We must devote much time and energy to destroying it and defending against it.

The threat that Walid Phares lays out in Future Jihad is much more extensive than one single terrorist organization, however. In Part 1 of my review of his book I explained how, according to Phares, our enemy is best described as "jihadists", since, after all, they describe themselves as "men of jihad" in their literature, on their websites, and in their videos. Our war, therefore, is best described as a "War on Jihad".

In this part I'll outline the three branches of the jihad as described by Phares. Readers may wish to read Part 1 in case they are not familiar with some of the terms I'll be using.

Before we get to the jihadists themselves, however, let's look at what they want, for all three groups want essentially the same thing.

The Three Objectives of the Jihad

1) Tahrir: Liberation

All jihadists want to liberate Muslim lands from "occupation" by non-Muslims. Their definition of "Muslim lands" is any territory that was at any time ruled by Muslims. Thus not only Palestine, but Kashmir, Chechnya and even Spain qualify for "liberation".

2) Tawheed: Unification

All existing states in which Muslims make up the majority are to be dismantled and unified into one superstate. Jihadists do not consider existing national boundaries legitimate.

3) Khilafa: The Caliphate

The eventual goal is to reestablish the Calphiate, which was abolished by Musafa Kemal in 1923. All Muslims the world over are to give their primary political allegiance to it. With its reestablishment, the jihad of old can be restated, which in their view will lead to the fatah, or conquest, of all non-Muslim lands.

The Three Branches of the Jihad

1) The Wahabists

Phares describes them as the "first wave" of the modern jihad because it is the oldest of the three. This extreme brance of Islam was founded by Mohammed Abdel Wahab (spellings vary. 1703 – 1792). Wahab was a cleric who lived in the Arabian peninsula, and he founded a movement within Sunni Salafism that eventually became known by his name; Wahabism.

Wahab's idea was that "the salaf under the Prophet launched the Islamic state and divided the world in two, and so should the present-day Muslim countries." Wahab opposed the Ottomans, who at that time ruled the Muslim world (or at least most of it) through the caliphate. He said that they had diverted from the ways of salafi Islam.

Several of the tribes in the region adopted his teachings. By the end of the 19th century, one of them, the al Saud, had come to power in Riyadh. Ottoman power had begun to wane, and in the 1920s the state of Saudi Arabia was founded. Wahabist Islam quickly became the official state religion.

During the latter stages of the Cold War, the Wahabists made common cause with the West against the communists. The rationale was twofold; one was a straight geopolitical calculation, the other theological. Westerners were Christian, and thus "people of the book". The communists were athiests, a concept completely alien to the Muslim mind.

The Wahabists attempt to spread their version of Islam around the world through infiltration of other societies. This is done in stages. The first step is to seize control of, or at least have primary influence in, Muslims in the diaspora. This is done by funding Mosques, Muslim schools, community centers, libraries, hospitals, and the like. The eventual goal is to influence the laws and customs of the targeted society/country.

The role of the Saudi government is to pull the wool over our eyes while all this is going on. Muslim organizations within the target country use it's institutions and customs against it. Thus in the West, liberal traditions of tolerance and diversity are used as a defense against criticism.

Only in it's final stages will violence be used, when the target society/country has been heavily infiltrated. Readers will recall Part 1 in which Phares discussed a debate that took place on al-Jazeera shortly after 9-11. Although the argument was hot and heavy, both sides agreed on the need to attack the West. One thought that bin Laden's timing was appropriate, the other said that he'd jumped the gun and that the United States had not been sufficiently infiltrated for the attack to be truely successful.

In later parts of this review we'll see where Phares thinks that al Qaeda fits into the Salafist tradition. For now, just take note that there's a lot more to what's going on than a band of terrorists hiding in caves along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

2) The Muslim Brotherhood

The Brotherhood, or "Muslim brothers", is also in the sameSalafist tradition as Wahabism. This organization was founded by Hassan al Banna in Egypt in the 1920s.

Unlike the state-sponsored Wahabists, the Brotherhood is a private organization. It has spent most of it's time in opposition to the various secular regimes of the Middle East.

While the eventual goal of the Brotherhood is the worldwide caliphate, it's near-term goals are all local to the Middle East. It attempts to achieve its objectives by establishing branches in Muslim countries, and then infiltrating it's people into key positions in government, military, the media, and industry. The eventual plan is to seize control of the country.

Sudan is such a country that has been successfully infiltrated. The National Islamist Front, led by General and President Umar al Bashir and Dr Hassan Turabi, has as it's philosophy the principles of the Brotherhood.

Egypt, the home of the brotherhood, has been heavily infiltrated by sympathizers of the Brotherhood. They now have established themselves into positions of influence in the media, business, the military, and parts of the government, such as the parliament.

Sometimes the Brotherhood establishes what it would call "military" branches to achieve local goals. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were created to "liberate" Palestine.

3) The Khumeinists

The third and final branch of the jihad comes out of Iran, but it would be something of a mistake to see it as exclusively Iranian. In a way, this is the most revolutionary of the three parts of the jihad.

For 13 centuries the Shiites were shut out of jihad. The caliphate was exclusively Sunni, and the Shiites were at best relegated to a supporting role. Historically, they've been a footnote. The majority Sunnis did not and do not believe that the Shiia can legitimitely call for jihad.

Then came the 1979 revolution in Iran. The KIhumeinists did three things that rocked the Islamic world to it's foundations, and at the same time gained them enormous prestige. First, they claimed to be the leaders of the entire Muslim world in it's age-old struggle against the infidels. Since the Sunni caliphate had ceased to exist in 1923, there was no single Sunni authority to denounce this claim.

Second, the form of government established by the Ayatollah Khumeini and his followers was unique in the Muslim world. While we in the West call it an "Islamic Republic", the best translation according to Phares is "mandate of the religious scholar". What this means is that until the return of the Mahdi, Muslims should follow the wisest Imam.

To fight a local war against Israel the Khumeinists established Hezbollah. The Alawite( a branch of Shiite Islam) regime in Syria have proved willing accomplices in this endeavour

Lastly, and most importantly, the Khumeinists announced that they would oppose both the Soviet communists and the West. Suddenly, the Wahabists in Saudi Arabia looked embarassed, for they had made common cause the the West, and especially with the Great Satan itself, the United States.

The objective objective of the Khumeinists is the establishment of an Imamate in the Shiia world, just as the objective of the Salafists is the reestablishment of the caliphate in the Sunni world.

In order to achieve this, they must first chase the United States and other Western powers from the region.

Next up: Methods of the Jihad

In the next part of this book review I'll discuss methods of the jihad as identified by Walid Phares. In it, we'll explore in greater detail the techniques described above.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 6, 2007

Book Review - "Future Jihad" - Part 1: The Logic of Jihad

If you want answers to these questions

- Who are the terrorists?
- What exactly do they want to achieve?
- What did they expect to happen after 9-11?
- Why did they attack us?
- Do they have a global strategy and if so what is it?
- Are they at war with us? If so, since when?
- Why didn't we know they were coming?
- Who obstructed our knowedge about them and continues to do so?
- Do they wish to destroy us or absorb us?
- Is it possible to conclude peace with them?
- Do they have allies and if so whom? If not now, who might they seek out as allies?
- Do they want to attack the West and United States before they accomplish their goals in the Muslim world or afterwards?

...and many more questions

Then run to your local bookstore and buy Walid Phares' Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against the West.

This is simply the best book I have read so far about our current war hands down. As such, I am not going to give it my usual one-post review, but will summarize the book sections at a time. Today's topic; "Who Are the Terrorists?"

Don't get me wrong, there are other books that I highly recommend. Mark Steyn's America Alone, Melanie Phillips Londonistan, Bill Bennett's Why We Fight , and Richard Miniter's Disinformation are must-reads.

But if there is only one book that you read, let it be Future Jihad. Like America Alone and Londonistan, it's not a particularly encouraging book.

The bottom line to what Phares has to say is this; the enemy is much bigger, better organized and has much clearer goals than most people imagine. If you think that the only people out to get us are Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network, you're only seeing a tiny part of the picture.

The point is that people we consider "terrorists" are only a part of the enemy. Many are not trying to kill us, at least not yet.

Phares relates a debate that took place on al Jazeera shortly after 9-11. The show was titled Opposed Directions, and it was set up like a Hannity and Colmes or Crossfire, where the arguments get hot and heavy. The two guests, Phares says, were almost literally at each other's throats.

The question at hand was over the "worthyness" of bin Laden's attacks, whether he had done good or bad to the Arab world. However, one was not for the attack and the other agains. They both argued in favor of the attack. The only difference was that one thought that bin Laden should have waited a few years until the time was more ripe.

This debate, Phares says, was representative of what went on across the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Jihad

Before we get to who the terrorists are, let's clear up the meaning of the word "jihad", for it is central to understanding who the terrorists are and what they want.

Put simply jihad is "a call for action" to spread the faith. Jihad is the sum of all efforts, and was declared by early Muslim leaders to be a sixth unofficial pillar of Islam. In a "normal" situation, Muslims think, their faith would spread without jihad, for people should recognize that Islam is the true faith and it would be only logical to accept it. Only when things are not going smoothly is jihad needed.

The call to jihad can only be given by a legitimate authority. It is not something that can be done unlilaterally by individuals. Under the Caliphate of old, only the Caliph or his designated local political authority could declare a jihad. Jihad, then, is a "state of effort at the service of the umma, the state, and Allah (umma meaning "community of Muslims").

Jihad can be used for defense, but is primarily to spread the faith. Jihad should lead to Fatah, or conquest. And it is the goal of jihadist thinkers to spread the faith to the entire planet, violence and forced conversions if necessary.

It is also important to note that the jihad need not be violent in it's initial stages. As will be seen in later posts, infiltration leading to violence is a key element in their strategy.

The people we call "terrorists" call themselves "men of jihad" in their videos and on their websites. So rather than call it a "war on terror", it seems to me a better term is War on Jihadism.

Phares stresses that in the Middle East among Arabs there is no debate as to the meaning of the word "jihad". Everyone there, he says, knows that it essentially means spreading the faith by violence and forced conversion if necessary.

Many in the West, however, have been hoodwinded. Shortly after 9-11, the church I was attending held an "information meeting" in which two local Muslims were going to tell us about their faith. The woman insisted that it was a total misunderstanding to think that jihad meant something violent, that rather it meant a peaceful inner struggle one had in one's mind to purify yourself before God. At the time I knew she was lying, but until I read Future Jihad I didn't know by how much.

Strangely to Westerners, Muslims regard the jihad as a defensive action. They see the world as being divided into the dar el Islam, or "house of peace", and the dar el harb, or "house of war". Historically the Caliphs justified their wars by telling infidels "you will have peace if you surrender to my rule."

Islam would spread through jihad, with the Caliphs justifying their actions by saying that the infidels had not accepted their offer of peace. It is important to note this definition of "peace" whenever we are dealing with jihadists.

The Caliphate

To make a long story very short, some time after Muhammed died in 632 AD the new Muslim world consolidated itself politically. An absolute ruler emerged called the Caliph, essentially a combination king and pope. Family dynasties emerged, each of which ruled from a particular city for a few hundred years before being supplanted by the next. The Umayyads, for example, ruled out of Damascus from 661 - 750 AD. The Abbasid's ruled from Baghdad from 750 until 1258. The whole thing ended with the Ottomans ruling from Istanbul from 1299 - 1923. The last Caliph was overthrown by Musafa Kemal in that year and a secular Turkey emerged.

The ending of the Caliphate threw the Muslim world into confusion. Without a central leader, many of their tenants seemed irrelevant. How would they spread the faith? Who could declare jihad? Who was the leader?

One effect was the jihad was privatized. Whereby during the days of the Caliphate only the legitimate political ruler could declare a jihad against the infidels, now it seemed that any Muslim could. Once freed from state control, it was only a matter of time before organizations under or guided by religious leaders developed which declared that they now had the authority to declare jihad.

And the goal of those who believe in a "fundamentalist" version of Islam is that the faith must be spread thoughout the world, by violence and forced conversion if necessary.

al Qaeda, then, was an inevitability once the Caliphate fell.

The Logic of the Jihadists

Phares puts it best

Put simply, in the mind of the jihadists, there is no rupture in the evolution of the Islamic state since its inception in Medina. No refoem has taken place, and therefore the jihadists are in line to fulfill a mission launched centures ago.

Modern Jews and Christians acknowledge their history, but most of us don't base our world view on Talmudic or Biblical passages (though some do). To us the crusades are ancient history. But to the jihadists it may as well have happened yesterday. Phares again

In essence, the Islamists movements, from which the doctrine of jihadism flourished, see themselves as a direct continuation of the Islamic state and strive for its reestablishment - including its past expansionist drive.

Phares relates stories of jihadist websites in which the posters discuss ancient battles as if they occured last week and are relevant to todays newspaper headlines. bin Laden himself calls the West al Rum, or "the Byzantines"

Frozen in the Middle Ages

During the early Abbasid dynasty, the Muslim world was truely the center of learning, science, and literature. While Europe was stuck in the Dark Ages, Baghdad was experiencing what we would later call the Enlightenment.

The Abbasid's ruled the largest empire the earth has ever seen before or since. Since it was all due to the will of Allah, and expansion (fatah) had been successful so far, it only seemed natural that it would continue forever.

Then it all came to a sudden halt.

The Muslim world was invaded first by crusaders and then by Mongols. The first were bad enough, but the slaugher by the Mongols under Genghis Khan exceeded even that of the crusaders. Worse, Muslim armies seemed incapable of stopping either. The Mongols even sacked Baghdad itself and ended the Abbasid dynasty in 1258.

The full story is obviously complicated, but essentially a movement developed which concluded that the reason the Muslim world was defeated was improper adherence to the teachings of Muhammed. The leading scholar of this movement was one Ibn Taymiya (1263-1328). He developed the doctrine of takfir, essentially the Muslim equivalent of the inquisition. This would later develop into the Salafi movement which would in turn spawn Wahabism, both important concepts that we will take up in some detail in later reviews of Phares' book.

What is important is that Taymiya led a "back to the Dark Ages" movement. Gone was enlightened or "progressive" thought. While Europe would go from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance and Enlightment a few centuries later, the Muslim world did just the opposite.

And it has remained frozen in time ever since.

Phares stresses that this is not all ancient history to those who are our enemies

The literature of the modern jihadists, their speeches, their texts, and their web sites lead directly back to Ibn Taymiya's thought. ...

The complex ideology of the Salafi jihadist movement could be defined in simplest terms this way: It is a movement that wants to return the Muslim world to the times of its earliest conquests and move forward from there. This movement wants to being back Muslim society to a strict applicatiion of Sharia laws despite all the intervening evolution accomplished by Muslims through history. Finally, it is a movement that wants to resume fatah and conquests desite all norms of internationl relations and laws.

As Phares says, it sounds like something out of a Hollywood move, but unfortunately it's true.

Next up: Who are the Jihadists?

In the next part of this book review I'll reveal the three branches of the jihad as identified by Walid Phares. Stay tuned, because it's not just a small band of al Qaeda that are out to get us.

Posted by Tom at 8:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 3, 2007

CPAC 2007 - Day 3

The morning rock star was Sean Hannity. Hannity was brilliant and in a way the best speaker of the entire CPAC. Of course, I'm sure the leftists still consider him a hatemonger, but aren't all of us on the right hatemongers to them?

I got there early, and of all the speakers I was closest for him. Given that he was the best it turned out just right.

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As you might imagine, people in the crowd, including me I confess, started shouting "You're a Great American!" when he came on stage. he laughed and of course said it right back to us. "Three hours a day, that's all I ask" came quickly afterwards. The show was on.

Unlike Coulter, Hannity's humor was not simply a series of one-liners. He went easily from one topic to another, turning it up or down in perfect sync with the crowd's reactions.

As with every other speaker, he brought up Ronald Reagan as an inspiration. It's hard to overstate the influence of Reagan on modern conservatives, young and old alike. I can really think of no one with similar influence in the Democrat party. FDR is too long gone, and Clinton both too recent and too...unaccomplished.

One story he told was of an interview of big lib Paul Begalia that he did on his radio show. He presented a series of quotes about how bad a person Saddam Hussein was, about how he definately had WMD and needed to be takien out. Hannity told Begala that the quotes were from President Bush. "Do you think the president lied?" asked Hannity. "Definately yes!" replied Begalia. "Uh, you voted for John Kerry last time, didn't you?" asked Hannity. "Yes" from Begalia. Hannity shot back "Well, those quotes were really from him!" A furious Begala cried "You tricked me!"

LOL

He spoke of freedom and liberating Iraq and Afghanistan, and how women can now go to school and at least have a hope of equal opportunity. The world is a better place for these things.

Afterwards Hannity was outside in the hall, or rather in the doorway of a room adjacent tot he hall, surrounded I'm sure by tons of security. You can make him out at right under the camera. Obviously the crowd was going wild during all this.

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Before Hannity went on stage there was a short debate on civil liberties and national security between Bob Barr and John Yoo. Barr is a former congressman, who now, among other things, serves on the board of directors of the NRA.

Despite that Yoo is a professor at UC Berkley, he was the one who defended the Patriot Act (he helped write it) and the way the Bush Administration has conducted itself. His main point was that we can have absolute civil rights or absolute security, but not both. Rather, he said, we need to strike a balance. The people we capture overseas are not entitled to Miranda warnings or necessarily lawyers and certainly not trials in civilian courts.

Barr said that he does not believe in a "balance" between civil rights and security. He said that we do not or should not engage in torture, and that much of the talk these days on the subject by defenders was word splitting.

While I ended up agreeing with Yoo more than Barr, anyone on the board of the NRA is a friend of mine.

I got more books signed today, one by the invaluable David Horowitz called Indoctrination U: The Left's War Against Academic Freedom. As with Malkin the day before, he was gracious enough to pose for a photo. Fortunately my camera worked perfectly the first time around.

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While at the Horowitz book signing I saw Phil Kiver, whom I'd met while countering the UPJ protest march this past January 27. He was signing his new book, a war journal of his time as an Army journalist in Iraq; 182 Days in Iraq, so of course I picked it up too.

I hadn't intended to listen to the panel on "The Future of Fusionism", but heard the last 15 minutes of their presentation when I came into the room early for the next group. Anyone who thinks that modern conservatism is monolithic, or that the CPAC organizers insisted on ideological conformity among speakers, didn't attend this panel. The only panelist I'd heard of was Donald Devine. It was sponsored by Reason magazine, which I've heard of but never read.

"Fusionism" is the attempted synthesis of libertarianism and traditionalism, though all of the panelists seemed to be pretty extreme libertarians from what I could tell. These guys were isolations in the old sense of the world; pull up the welcome mat and stay out of the affairs of the rest of the world. People could be dying right and left in some foreign country and the world going to hell and they wouldnt care, or at least do anything. I leard lines that may as well have come from Ted Kennedy; "the world hates us because of Iraq","Rick Santorum's defeat was the best thing that happened in the last election","opposition to gay marriage will destroy the GOP because all the young people are for it", and so on. Although they got their own panel, they're a fringe movement within conservatism and will thankfully never have much influence.

After the "fusionists" were done, the panel I really wanted to hear went on the dias. It was called Are we Safer Than on 9/10? National Security 5 Years Later. On the panel were Joel Mowbray, Ilan Berman, Chris Seiple, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, it being moderated by Kayne Robinson .

Seiple said that asking whether were safer or not was the wrong question. They are going to try and attack us again no matter what we do. The real question is "are we winning?" The way we know whether we're winning is 1) No attacks on the US, 2) We deny them the means of attack, and 3) We are able to expand freedom to the places where the terrorists come from. Guns are not enough, we need a "grand strategy" that consists of using the right words. Public opinion worldwide matters. We must also not be afraid to talk about faith and religion, because good theology defeats bad theology.

Berman talked about the necessity of missile defense. While groups like al Qaeda don't have missiles yet, we have seen what happened with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Further, terrorist states such as Iran are working on missiles and if we are not able to effect regime change one day they'll develop ones that can reach the US.

Gartenstein-Rosslisted successes and failures in the war. The successes were removing the Taliban, simply being engaged (unlike the 90s), domestic security measures, and understanding how the al Qaeda network operates (again unlike the 90s. On the failure side of the ledger he placed the Warziristan accords, problems in the Anbar province, an increase in Islamic radicalism, our military being overstretched, the new security measures being under attack domestically, and that many analyists and Westerners in general still don't know squat about Islam.

Mowbray spoke of the investigative work he did in uncovering the visas that the 9-11 terrorists used to gain entry into the United States. The visa forms were filled out incorrectly and should have been denied. The problem was with the State Department, which still does not see Saudi Arabia as a problem. He told of how shortly after the attacks they issued a press release in Saudi Arabia, in arabic, essentially telling Saudis "don't worry it'll be business as usual. To this day over 90% of all Saudis who apply for visas are approved. Career employees in the State Department see Israel as the root of all our problems. Unfortunately I wasn't surprised to hear this.

You may not know him, but former VA governor Jim Gilmore is runninging for president. Not a bad speaker, above average but not as good as Rudi, Mitt, or Newt. One thing he did which turned me off is that he attacked by name the other candidates as not being true conservatives. He was the only candidate that did this. He did it, I know, because he's virtually an unknown and wanted to generate some press. Nevertheless I found it distasteful.

Tom DeLay, of whom I'm not particularly fond, introducted David Horowitz, of whom I am. This panel was called No Retreat, No Surrender: Fighting the Shadow Party. Horowitz is a tough fighter as anyone who has followed his career knows. DeLay was hated by liberals mainly because he, too, was very effective in getting what he wanted.

Horowitz spoke about the difference between liberals and conservatives in their approach to government. Liberals go to Washington to change the world. Their causes are to them messianic missions. The left infiltrates institutions in order to undermine them. "I ought to know", he said, "because that's what I did when I was with the left." For the right politics is a necessity but isn't or shouldn't be a way of life. The "shadow party" consists of all of the leftist organizations who are all tied together in a kind of church. Horowitz has compiled a database of leftist groups and the information is available at his Discover The Network site.

Before Newt came on stage the CPAC organizers released the results of the straw polls that they'd taken during the conference. I recorded two of them.

Do you consider yourself a Ronald Reagan conservative or a George W Bush conservative?

Reagan conservative: 79%

Bush conservative 3%

(I'm not sure what happened to the rest, this is all from my notes)

Who is your first choice for president?

Romney 21%

Giuliani 17%

Brownback 15%

Gingrich 14%

McCain 12%

all others were below 5%

The last major speaker was Newt Gingrich. Unlike any other speaker, he entered from the back of the room and worked his way through the crowd to the front. It was a stroke of genius, as the crowd loved it and he shook hands the whole way. I was some distance away but standing on my chair could make him out.

His talk was typically Newt; intellectual and captivating. No matter what the subject, he has an absolute command of the material. He would slaughter any of the Democrats in a debate, especially intellectual lightweights like Barack Obama or John Edwards.

Given the distance and lighting, here's the best my little camera could do

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Posted by Tom at 10:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

CPAC 2007 - Day 2

Day 2 at CPAC started off with a speech by presidential hopeful Rep Duncan Hunter (CA). Hunter spoke about the United States should be the Arsenal of Democracy, but more and more of our manufacturing base was going overseas. This puts our national security jeaporday, he said, because in a crisis we might not get the parts we need.

On the positive side Hunter is serious and presidential. On the downside he doesn't seem to have much of a sense of humor. His demenor reminded me of of John Ashcroft. The one thing he said that I didn't agree with was that he would pardon the two border patrol agents who were recently convicted. My take is that one, they're guilty, and two he shouldn't make such promises during a campaign. Other than that I agreed with everything he said.

One of the most entertaining and yet informative speakers was Sen Jim Inhofe (OK). He devoted his entire speech to global warming and the Kyoto treaty. I don't watch much TV news so didn't know much about him, but was quite impressed. He showed sevaral clips of him on CNN sparing with Miles O'Brien; all of which made Inhofe look good, of course. In his talk he combined charts and facts with with clever witicisms all of which combined for a very good presentation.

I had only vaguely knew who he was but he seemed quite intelligent and personable, so I'll make a note and see if I can follow him his activities. He's going to be a leader in our fight to stop stupid "global warming" legislation. While he was speaking some people dropped a paper off at each table that detailed some of the points he was making. Actually, the happened with just about every panel. I was inundated with information packets and papers by the end of the third day.

Other presidential hopefulls giving speeches this day were Sen Sam Brownback (KS) and Rep Tom Tancredo (CO). Given all of the other things that were going on at CPAC, I decided to head out. I'm not happy with Brownback over his opposition to send more troops to Iraq, and although I know a lot of conservatives love him, my opinion of Tancredo is a bit different.

One of the best things about CPAC were the number of authors present who did book signings. Most of them also gave presentations or were part of panels too. One author I particularly wanted to meet was Michelle Malkin. So I headed down to the general exibit area where I picked up one of her latest works; Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild.

She was nice enough to pose for a photo for anyone who wanted one. When her assistant had trouble making my camera work at first, she offered the use of her camera and said she'd email me the photo. Very gracious (and thoughtful that she had one ready), I thought.

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Speaking of unhinged, and I wasn't there when this happened, Malkin wrote on her blog that "Two punks from The Nation with a camera stopped by my book signing to ambush me about In Defense of Internment. Have they bothered to read the book? No. I look forward to their butchering of my comments and the predictable unhinged reaction. "

The second presidential hopeful who spoke on Day 2 was Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. He started off well enough, telling a few funny stories about him and the Clintons. Good humor and personality, he hit all the right buttons during his speech. Obliquely refering to the Clinton's fixation on polls and focus groups, he said that we should not elect thermometers as leaders. Rather, he said, we should elect thermostats, people who could guide opinion.

He said he would sign Grover Norquist's pledge not to raise taxes, which I do not think is a good idea. Don't get me wrong, I'm a low-tax kind of guy. I just don't think a pledge is the way to campaign and it sounds gimmicky.

His speech also went on for too long, turning into a laundry list at the end. One thing I'll give Duncan Hunter, he was short and to the point. Huckabee did well, I just wish he had ended sooner.

One of the most encouraging things about CPAC were the number of young people there. There were a lot of students from all around the country, and the bulk of the attendees seemed to be in their 20s and 30s.

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association was there, and gave a very good presentation. As with Inhofe, he showed videos of him sparing with CNN news anchors, including one in which he (correctly as it turned out) accused them of faking a news story. A forceful speaker, he makes the NRA case well.

George Will introducted Rudy Giulianiwho drew the largest crowd of anyone so far at CPAC. The room was packed and they had to limit entrance to the hall, so some people had to watch in the hallway. Will reminded everyone that in the 60s and 70s it had become convention wisdom that New York City was "ungovernable". The place was going downhill fast, and Giuliani did the seemingly impossible; he reduced both crime and welfare roles.

In general Giuliani gave a very good speech. Oddly, he seemed to take a few minutes to get going, as if he started cold or hadn't psyched himself up beforehand. But after a few minutes he found his tempo and did very well from them on. He is an inspring leader, and someone I'd want in charge during a national security crisis.

Everyone knows that conservatives are suspicious of him on social issues, and he dealt with it the best way possible; with humor and charm. He said that that yes we don't agree on everything, but "I disagree with myself sometimes"

America has the right ideas, he said. Peace through strength.

He also said that we made a mistake in calling it the "War on Terror". It's not our war on them, but their war on us. The war will be over when they stop planning to come over here and kill us. Me: Rudy is dead right. And anyone who thinks that getting out of Iraq will change anything is deluded.

He gently criticized President Clinton for treating terrorism as a criminal matter, mentioning the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. However, that's all hindsight.
"I don't blame people for not seeing it build(in the 90s)", he said. "But I do blame people for not seeing it after 9-11." Here here.

Democrats want to go back to a 90's way of dealing with terrorism, and it simply won't work.

He said that the way to fight terrorism domestically was to do it like he went after the Mafia when he was a prosecutor in NYC. "No one walked in our office to tell us about the Gambino crime family, we had to go out and look for them." He talked about using the "Al Capone" approach; once you know who the criminals are you prosecute them for spitting on that sidewalk if that's all you can get them on.

After Giuliani I headed out again for other seminars or book signings.

Unfortunately, getting back into the main room for the next two stars was not to be so easily. A victim of it's own success, a lot more people signed up for CPAC this year (6300) that the organizers had anticipated, so not everyone could fit into one room at once.

I got back in line but didn't make it in to see Mitt Romney. The scene outside the ballroom was an absolute madhouse

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The line entrance to the main room was at the bottom right of these stairs, and the line went for some distance behind me. Due I'm sure to fire regulations, they could only let a certain number of people into the room, and they did it by counting seats. When someone left, or the ushers identified an empty seat, they let people in.

I was still in the hall when Mitt Romney gave his speech, but the organizers thoughtfully had a TV and speakers in the hall so I heard it perfectly fine. I'd never heard him before, so wasn't quite sure what to expect.

It turned out he did a very good job and I can see why he is a front runner. He combined knowledge of the issues with humor and charm. He spoke about efficient government, but concentrated most of the time on social issues, where he has been accused of being a flip-flopper (as it was, there were anti-Romney people handing out little flipflops, and a guy in a dolphin suit was there too).

Forceful and dynamic throughout, he started by bringing his wife on stage with him and ended with a rousing "God bless the United States of America!"

As with every other presidential candidate, he brought up Ronald Reagan as an inspiration. It's impossible to overestimate the influence he has on the conservative movement. He spent some of his time talking economics, and about his record in Massachusetts. He bashed Ted Kennedy, which as you might suspect went over well with the crowd.

Probably because he has been accused of flip-flopping on social issues, he spent a lot of his time talking about them. He talked about traditional values, the sanctity of life, and preserving marriage as being between one man and one women. He said that McCain-Feingold needs to be repealed, and that there must be no amnesty for illegal aliens.

Next was the rock star herself, Ann Coulter. I was let into the room and got to a seat seconds before she went on stage. The young people in the room went wild, as she is obviously a hero to the college kids

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Ann is certainly quite a speaker. Most of her "speech" was a series of one-liners. Here are a few as I wrote them down (not going to be literally accurate)

Here is how liberals think:

Global warming is a moral issue. Not like, say abortion.

Nuclear power is bad. Unless the Iranians are pursuing it*

Al Gore has inspired me to save energy. Whenever I see him on TV, I turn it off

Obama is half white and half black. Bill Clinton is half white and half trash

Then Ann did what she does too often; she went too far

I was going to comment on John Edwards, but if you mention the word faggot you go to rehab

Unlike with her previous comments, this time the laughter was quite muted. I didn't like what she said, andMichelle Malkin didn't like it either. There's no excuse for saying things like that, and all she does is hand ammunition to the left.

Unlike any other speaker, she devoted at least half of her time to Q & A. Most of the questioners were college kids, and Coulter loved the give and take with the crowd. Her thinking is lightning fast, where with me I always think of the clever retort about 10 minutes too late. Like Malkin, she was ambused by the same punk from the leftist mag The Nation. She handled him perfectly, by making fun of him and not directly answering his question.

She also made a point of saying that she was not anti-gay, just anti-gay marriage. It won't do you any good, Ann. To hard-core liberals the two are equal.

* I actually had a leftist tell me this once. Scroll through this post.

I did a quick check of a few leftie blogs and they're all over the Coulter comment. It's tempting to think that if we excluded Coulter from our ranks entirely we wouldn't have the problem of leftist idiots using her comments against us, but the reality is that if it wasn't her they'd go after someone else. Exorcise her from the conservative movement if you want but the left thinks that Newt Gingrich is a hatemonger so you just can't care what they think. The left demands perfection from conservatives, but frankly they've got so many nutcases in their ranks that it's laughable for them criticize us.

Myself, I'm in agreement with Malkin. Coulter isn't my type of conservative. She oughtn't be invited to CPAC next year.

Anyway...

After CPAC was done (I didn't attend the evening dinner) it was time to head over to Walter Reed for our weekly pro-troops rally. Although I was about dog-tired, it wasn't that far away and it's the least I can do for our troops. Fortunately it wasn't that windy so we got the MOAB up

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Posted by Tom at 10:01 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 1, 2007

CPAC 2007 - Day 1

Just got back from CPAC and it was quite a long day. Because I live in the area I didn't get a hotel room, so am driving back and forth each day. And because traffic is murder it seemed that I spend half the day in the car. Fortunately I don't have to go into the city each day or I'd go insane. And usually when I do go it's in the evening or on weekends so I don't have to deal with it. Getting lost a few times didn't help either. Oh well.

This was my first time at a CPAC conference, and didn't quite realize what a huge gathering it is for conservatives. They've been doing this for 34 years now, and only recently have I been involved in politics to the point where I'm attending these things.

An amazing number of conservative commentators, pundits, and politicians will be there.

I ran into and briefly spoke with Michelle Malkin and Bryan Preston of Hot Air(and all else that Michelle does), Melanie Morgan, "AJ" producer(I think) of the Laura Ingraham show, Mary Katharine Ham, and Robert Spencer. I saw in the hallways but did not speak with Jed Babbin and John Bolton I met a few local politicians as well. It was very cool.

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's people were there in force, handing out material everywhere, it seemed. Rudy Giuliani will be there tomorrow. Sam Brownback and Jim Gilchrist were there and I saw some of their people handing stuff out too. Everyone, that is, except for John McCain.... what is he thinking?

Perhaps the most interesting seminar today was the debate between Robert Spencer and Dinesh D'Souza on the nature of the Islamic terrorist threat. It was rather short, but was about the most spirited 20 minute exchange I've heard in a long time. Both of them made their cases well, and although the debate was fierce it was polite and each used humor to good effect (I took notes and in future will post them, it's late and I don't have time now).

If you're not familiar, the genesis of the debate can be found in books that each has written. Spencer is most famous for The Truth about Muhammed: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion, and D'Souza for The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and It's Responsibility for 9-11.

As of this writing I have not read either book. My general take is that while both made very good points Spencer got the better of D'Souza.

Update - Video of the debate can viewed at Atlas Shrugs. It's well worth a visit. While you're at it, see this post on Spencer's Jihad Watch for his response to a D'Souza post on the debate.

After their debate I went down and picked up The Truth About Muhammed, getting it autographed by Spencer. While at the book signing I got My Year Inside Radical Islam by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, who was signing his book alongside Spencer. Gartenstein-Ross was part of a panel on day 3, and did a pretty decent job I thought of summing up where we were in the war on jihadism(as I call it).

Another very good panel was called Strategies for a Bold Conservative Future , hosted by of the . On the panel were Phyllis Shlafly, Ken Blackwell, and Richard Viguerie. Here's a bad photo of Schlafly, about as good as I can get with my little pocket camera.

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Schlafly is a fantastic speaker, and it is easy to see why she was such a pioneer of modern conservatism. Much of her talk today was about that hot button among conservatives; illegal immigration. Viguerie talked about how the GOP congress had betrayed us and how if they wanted our votes they needed to act like conservatives.

Viguerie is best known for his pioneering work in direct mail, which he used to great effect to mobilize conservatives in the 70s and 80s around certain causes. It has been described as "the Internet of the day". He said that this was the first time he could remember that the chairman of the GOP had not been invited to CPAC. The reason is obvious; conservatives are very upset with their party. He described the Republicans in congress as being anti-conservative in the way they governed. You can view his talk on YouTube.

Afterwards, I went down for her book signing, but because I waited too long I got their right as she was leaving. Fortunately they had some pre-signed books, so I picked up The Supremacists: The Tyranny of Judges and How to Stop It.

Another interesting panel was Social Issues and the Conservative Movement. Wendy Wright of the Concerned Women for America (the anti-NOW) compared the situation today with that of William Wilberforce two hundred years ago. We on the right are accused of "imposing our values" on others, but so was he when he started his anti-slavery crusade. There may be "two Americas", she said, but the divide is not economic but moral. I would certainly agree with that.

Ben Shapiro talked about the concept of "defining deviancy down" that Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan talked about many years ago. The liberal call for "toleration" simply leads to one thing after another. it used to be that we instinctively knew that porn was bad for you, for example. Now we need some social scientist with a fancy degree to spelll it out in a paper before people will believe it. John Stuart Mill said that if it doesn't harm you it's ok. No; we're not moral relativists. Liberals invent new "rights" all the time. We on the right understand that rights come from the creator. All sentiments I can agree with.

Senator Mitch McConnell gave a great speech on conservative values. He stressed party unity but also that we needed a clear and coherent message. He led the fight against McCain's campaign finance reform and promised not to give up until it was overturned.

McConnell slammed the Democrats for opposing the new strategy in Iraq. He said that they were trying a "goldilocks approach"; find something that is hot enough for the anti-war base, but cold enough for the moderates. Pretty accurate, I thought.

He also pointed out that if we on the right are going to make a difference, we need clarity and unity of purpose. We must offer a real alternative, and not just criticize.

In addition to the panels there was a large exhibit area with dozens of conservative groups. NRARadio was there along with "blogger row" (where I said hi to Mary Katharine Ham). At right Ginny Simone and Cam Edwards broadcast the news NRA style

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Lastly for tonight, here is a (bad) photo of Michelle Malkin accepting an award from Reed Irvine's Accuracy in Media (my little camera just doesn't do well inside at range. I touched it up a bit but it still doesn't do her justice)

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I attended more panels and saw more people but it's late and tomorrow will be even longer. At some point next week I'll expand this post with more about what everyone said.

Posted by Tom at 10:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack