Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Maybe Iran's last chance to relent

The United States is to attend a conference in Baghdad next month to discuss the "stabilisation" of Iraq with its six neighbours, including Iran which Mr Bush once described as being part of an "Axis of Evil".

Perhaps Iran can earn some credibility in this meeting, and maybe convince the U.S. that it nuclear talks should occur. Probably not.

Threats transmitted directly (Iran and Sudan accuse US of creating Mideast strife), or through acolytes(Hizbullah warns US and Israel against attacking Iran), will not intimidate the U.S.

If anything, the pressure on Iran may be building, as France's Sarkozy calls nuclear-armed Iran unacceptable. This, a far cry from French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy's comments last August that Iran was a "stabilizing force" in the Middle East. Perhaps this will also lead the French to reconsider their economic ties with Iran.

Muslim Newspapers speak out on Terror

United Press International:

The London-based al-Hayat commented on Sunday's attack on European tourists in Saudi Arabia, saying it broke a six-month "silence of terrorism" in the kingdom. The Saudi-financed daily said the "ugly crime," in which four people were killed, came in a new form and place. It's as if the terrorists want to send a message that terror will from now on target tourists, it added, noting that an extremist trend opposes the idea of foreign tourism in their county. The daily, distributed in many Arab capitals, suggested those who carried out the attack may have been "victims of a (religious) fatwa (decree) that allows the spilling of tourists' blood," and the perpetrators might not have been a terrorist group. It called on religious leaders to forbid attacking foreigners, saying the "voices of the clerics and scholars are still too low or non-existent, although they are influential." It stressed that such violence normally carries the name of religion, and fighting it starts in the mosques.

However, a commentator from UPI also declares:

U.S. allies and their opponents, American congressmen and terrorist leaders, professional politicians and ordinary people, journalists and generals are increasingly comparing the war in Iraq with Vietnam. They are all wrong. Iraq is not Vietnam. The situation in Iraq is much worse, and the majority of parallels with the Vietnam war do not apply.

I don't have much time, but these arguments are so simplistic, it's absurd:
It was not very difficult for the United States to leave Vietnam. South Vietnam lost, and North Vietnam won

In Vietnam, the sides were fighting for control over the country, whereas Iraq became a territory a long time ago.

The war in Iraq involves everyone. The Iraqis believe that it is a war of insurgents against the occupants; the West believes that it is the war of the coalition forces against the terrorists; a war between Arabs and Kurds; and a war between Kurds and Turkmen. It is also a Shiite-Sunni war, and Iraq is the main front of this war which is unfolding in the entire Muslim world from Lebanon to Pakistan.

His first mistake was comparing the two wars, because they are both so entirely different. Secondly, and finally, because it's late, he compares the multitude of players in Iraq as if Vietnam was a singles tennis match. Vietnam involved the North Vietnamese, South Vietnamese, the U.S., Chinese, Russians, French... just to name a few. And the implications - the spread of communism, shouldn't be so idly dismissed because the new threat of Islamic terror has emerged.

We still need to worry about Terrorism

I wrote in a previous post about some Britons' apathy toward terror threats, and commented on reports that Spain and India remained acutely fearful. A number of recent news reports would bolster these fears. These reports should also remind us that it is not just the Bush administration that is sounding the warning siren about terrorism, as many liberals accuse Bush of.

The Telegraph reports: Bin Laden 'back in control' of terror blitz, while ABC News also notes: CIA: Bin Laden in Pakistan Establishing New Camps. Two clear threats in two days.


In the most definitive statement in years, America's top intelligence official said Tuesday Osama bin laden is in Pakistan actively re-establishing al Qaeda training camps.


Osama bin Laden has re-established control over a terrorist network along the Pakistan and Afghan border, according to US sources.

American security officials claim that bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, have rebuilt an operations hub in the mountainous Pakistani tribal area of North Waziristan.

"The chain of command has been re-established," The New York Times reported one US government official as saying. The official added that the al-Qa'eda "leadership command and control is robust".

Along the same lines, ABC has also reported on a suicide tape that was recently released by a militant Islamist website: Anatomy of a Suicide Attack

The tape shows a suicide bomber, a young man, in a beat-up Toyota loaded with explosives. The ease with which his bomb was prepared is documented on the tape, released on the Internet by al Qaeda's propaganda arm this week.
Also, just days ago, Britain's MI-5 issued a Secret report: Terror threat worst since 9/11

The terrorist threat facing Britain from home-grown al-Qaeda agents is higher than at any time since the September 11 attacks in 2001, secret intelligence documents reveal.

The number of British-based Islamic terrorists plotting suicide attacks against "soft" targets in this country is far greater than the Security Services had previously believed, the government paperwork discloses. It is thought the plotters could number more than 2,000.

The document, which has been circulated across Whitehall to MI5, Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorist Command, the Home Office, the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Defence, also reveals that al-Qaeda has grown into a world-wide organisation with a foothold in virtually every Muslim country in North Africa, the Middle East and central Asia.
This is not a report to be taken idly. However, does not see the problem: The Overblown Terror Threat and Islamophobia. The author, Abukar Arman, quotes extensively from Professor John Mueller, a best-selling author who likes to debunk terror threats, see an interview with him here: Is Terrorism Threat Overblown?

Mueller is quoted:

"If there were any sleeper cells or al-Qaeda operatives who are as determined, as inventive and as demonically competent as assumed, why have they not done it yet, especially when carrying a terrorist act does not require flying planes into buildings? Could it be because they are not yet here? If not, they must not been trying hard enough or perhaps they are far less dedicated, diabolical, and competent than we are being told."
As I recall, Islamic terrorist attacks have been repeatedly broken up in the U.S. before they have reached fruition. Britain, too has been successful, although let's not forget the March 2005 bombings in London, or the Madrid bombings.

He repeatedly pointed out the sheer absurdity that justifies the post 9/11 fear-driven policies and initiatives. He said the FBI embraces a spooky line of reasoning that he refers to as "I-think-therefore-they-are."
According to Professor Mueller, it is this kind of mindset combined with the rhetoric of fear-mongering politicians whose aim often is to frighten voters to their side; lazy journalism and the media's desire to sensationalize the news; and those in the security business who are motivated to seize this golden opportunity to push their services and maximize their profits that perpetuate the terrorism industry, keep Muslims demonized, and the anti-terrorism laws irrationally rigid.
Contrast this view with the facts: Muslim terror cells broken up in England, attacks foiled in the United States, numerous Islamic attacks that have not been documented as "terror" (See the Nashville cabbie killing and Utah mall shooting), along with Muslims killing civilians and their own family members here in the west with impunity, and a very different picture is painted of Islam in the west.

Increasingly, Islamic terror threats appear to have become a tapestry of angry, disenfranchised, frustrated muslims who have come to not accept their adopted homeland. This threat, combined with that of professional, organized terror cells, should keep the average American - the average westerner - on their toes.

YouTube: Forum for hate

You can find all sorts of interesting stuff in YouTube's community pages. On this page, you can find YouTube members admiring Islamic radicals who have decided to pursue Jihad in Somalia with the Islamic Courts Union:

"It brought great joy to me when I found that there were Yemenese, Pakistani and many other Arab Mujahideen going to Somalia to help the I.C.U. As a Moorish (African American) Muslims, it really helps my faith when I hear of Muslims coming together, no matter the race."

Or, if that doesn't strike your fancy, how about some good old-fashioned Shi'ite bashing?

"The Kuffar will never be satisfied with us until we follow their ways. We need to rid the Ummah of Ahlul Bidah and Shirk (ie the Shiites and Khawarij/Takfeeris/Jihadis) They are pollution to this ummah"

Amen to that, right?:

"I Agree. The only true Muslim is the Sunni/Salafi Muslim. Shias worship Ali (RA), and all of their other BLATANTLY prohibited images of men."

If these radical saplings ever get off their computers, we might have to worry about them in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Somalia.

Bush Role Play - FUNNY

This isn't for the young one's, but it's a laugh.

YouTube what we say you tube

While critics of Islam are silenced on YouTube, as I've reported here, Iraqi insurgents are allowed to distribute their own propaganda, as The Jerusalem Post reports:

Now on YouTube: Iraqi insurgent propaganda
Iraqi insurgents are increasingly distributing their propaganda movies and violence footage not through fringe, hard-to-find Web sites, but by uploading them directly to popular video sharing sites such as YouTube.

Many of the videos have been seen by tens of thousands of viewers, and some by hundreds of thousands, on YouTube, Google Video and Some show footage from terror attacks, including close-ups of badly burned children. Others give a slide show of photographs depicting exploded military vehicles and dead American soldiers, while Arabic victory songs play in the background.

It seems that Google's infectious hypocrisy has spread to YouTube. After caving in to China's censorship requests, Google/YouTube has relented yet again to the principles of free speech, freedom of thoughts, ideas and communication that it once espoused through it's motto: "Don't be evil."

Hypocrisy of the worst kind.

It's looking brighter in Iraq... for some

The Houston Chronicle reprts that Iraqi officials say crackdown working:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The Baghdad security operation has been under way less than three weeks, but it has already registered a success: a sharp drop in the number of bullet-riddled bodies found in the streets — victims of sectarian death squads.

The number of bodies found so far this month in Baghdad — most of them shot and showing signs of torture — has dropped by nearly 50 percent to 494 as of Monday night, compared with 954 in January and 1,222 in December, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press.
This news, coupled with the major weapons cache the U.S. found, which "includes parts for sophisticated roadside bombs that are believed to originate in Iran" would seem to herald good news for Iraq.

Meanwhile, the Paul Harris Show, for one, asks "Is Terrorism Threat Overblown?" which contends that:
The cost of that fear has been millions of dollars wasted on counterterrorism and an higher risk level assigned by the Department of Homeland Security than is necessary.This is an important perspective that is all too rarely heard amid the clamor of voices promoting the way the war on terror is being fought.

The Danes don't think so, as Little Green Footballs reports:
A Danish political party is risking the rage of the Religion of Peace by suggesting that parts of the Koran should be censored.
The report goes on:

A political party named SIAD (Stop Islamiseringen af Danmark-Stop Islamisation of Denmark) has demanded a censorship for parts of Quran, stating that certain parts ‘encourage violence.’

After caricature crisis and the attack on Muslim graves, Denmark has hit the headlines for the third time again with its anti-Islamist movements. A political party called Stop Islamisation of Denmark has claimed that verses of Quran are violating the 67th and 69th articles of the Danish constitution and the mosques across the country should be closed according to the 78th article of the Danish constitution. SABAH Newspaper has talked with the leader Anders Graves of SIAD; a party that has about 400 members. Graves said: “Denmark is our country. Some verses of the Quran are filing me with worries about the lives of my children and grand children.” Stating that they have no intention or expectation on banning the Islam religion across the country Gravers said people living in Denmark should obey the constitution of the country no matter what they believe in.

Of course, there is good reason to fear Islamic radicalization throughout Europe's muslim community. If Muslims cannot tolerate foreign tourists in their own country (Gulf News: cowardly attack against French tourists in Saudi Arabia came at a time when we all thought that the terrorism threat had been contained.), imagine how they must feel as a minority in Europe.

North Koreans Kicking and Screaming

Beyond Bizzare:

HELSINGIN SANOMAT reports that a bizarre altercation on the train leads to a dispute between Finland and North Korea, and accusations of Finnish human rights violations.
Finland and North Korea found themselves in the middle of a diplomatic spat last week, after two North Korean diplomatic couriers caused a scene on a Moscow to Helsinki train.

According to the Finns, the diplomats had refused to show their train-tickets to the Finnish conductor or their luggage to Customs officials who came on board the train. As a result, a scuffle took place in the train compartment, after which the two North Koreans were bodily escorted to Kouvola police station.

"They roughly threw a female Customs inspector out of the compartment and into the corridor outside. She said that she had been bruised both physically and mentally", reported Tommi Kivilaakso, who heads the Eastern Customs District.

"The problems stemmed from the steep language barrier, because the North Koreans were almost completely without foreign language skills."

The North Koreans have seen the events in Kouvola in a markedly different light. On Friday of last week, the North Korean Embassy in Stockholm passed a diplomatic note to the Finnish Embassy in the Swedish capital, complaining at the actions of the Finnish police, immigration officials, and Customs officers in Kouvola. The note was then delivered to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Helsinki.

The North Korean note makes pretty chilling reading. It states that the Finnish Customs inspectors attempted by force to open the couriers' bags of diplomatic post and acted in a violent manner. For their part, the police who were called to the scene used tear gas and handcuffs on the couriers. In addition to all this, a police dog bit at least one of the men. North Korea accuses Finland of human rights violations and of transgressing against accepted international rules and agreements.

It is quite shocking that diplomats would have such a severe lack of language skills. If the Diplomats didn't speak the language, how could they conduct any diplomacy in Finland? What kind of a regime supplies diplomats without the necessary language skills? A brutal, repressive, backwars regime such as North Korea, apparently. Kim Jong Il must be spending such vast sums of cash on presents for the generals and acolytes who help bolster his rule that expenditures for the basic skills a representative of a foreign government should have while abroad are severely lacking.

In related news, a Japanese group to drop leaflets by balloon on North Korea, offer reward for information.

A Japanese advocacy group said Tuesday it will use balloons to scatter flyers over North Korea, offering residents a US$10,000 cash reward for information on Japanese citizens kidnapped by the regime decades ago.

North Korea can scarcely afford to make more enemies. Adding to the list of the U.S. and Japan, they've alienated Russia and China with their detonation of a nuclear bomb, South Korea is doubting its aid, and now Finland can be added to that list. This is the regime with which we are in diplomatic discussions with regarding its nuclear program.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Damn that YouTube...

The online community that was created, in part, to promote open source sharing and communication of videos, thoughts and ideas among the average joe has continued its descent into censorship pandering.

YouTube recently removed a community topic on "United Muslims" because of a conspiracy among its opponents to flag the topic as inappropriate.
Fortunately, there is proof:

This screen shot was taken from, where I first found the story

The story was Dugg 1,537 times, so the popularity of the topic is clear. But if one clicks the link to the YouTube group this Digg is referencing, all that comes up is:

"Unable to load topic." What does that mean? It's obvious that YouTube took down the community topic and all discussion. But what did YouTube leave up? With only a small amount of research, I came upon this Muslim YouTube community group:

YouTube saw fit to remove the community discussion, which revealed the Muslim censorship AND YouTube's shameless collusion toward their ends. But YouTube must have missed the proof that these Muslim users conspired to perpetrate an act of censorship toward other users.
The community discussion that YouTube took down was created by users who simply wanted to point out that YouTube was caving into the multicultural sensitivity of Muslims.
YouTube doesn't want you to know that.
One can see this happening all over the world, perhaps most notably in Britain. Muslim groups have banded together to apply pressure on the British government to change its laws and rules so that they better conform to the Muslim faith as they see fit. I've written about it here. The inability of many Muslims to assimilate into their adopted homeland should result, in their view, in the indigenous populations altering their own culture. Sadly, many sympathize with this growing trend, and seem almost willing to cede their own freedoms for this immigrant cause.
I do not want to seem overly xenophobic. I have no problems whatsoever with Muslims immigrating to my country, and/or establishing a prosperous lifestyle for themselves and thriving. However, it's hypocritical of certain Muslim groups to flee their ancestral homelands due to persecution, or lack of freedoms, only to set up shop in a foreign land and proceed to impose their own beliefs.

When will YouTube/Google, and other media organizations cease to pander to such groups?
When will these forums, which should be shining examples of free speech, cease to suppress that which they profess to cherish and support?

Monday, February 26, 2007

More Iraq "Talk"

60 Minutes aired a story about Iraq-war veterans that are against the war. However, as Mudville reports, at least one of the soldiers hasn't even been to Iraq.

Speaking of fumbles, the Washington Post reported today how Representative Jack Murtha has already "botched" his own Iraq plan. Yes, the same Murtha who was caught on tape in 1980, soliciting bribes from Arab Sheiks. (I hated to do it, but that last bit was from Ann Coulter)

OpEd News asks Why not state the plain facts about the genocide in Iraq? And boldly states:

Usually sub-contractors get paid for their work, but the ever shockingly stupid W has us paying in both the bloodshed of our US military and in our treasure for the gruesome task of slaughtering Iraqi Sunnis.
I suppose someone should come to the aid of the Sunnis, eh? After all, they only have al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia, and 80% of the Arab world behind them.

The author calls Iraqi Shiites "mere stooges for the hated by all Iranians, to have power in Iraq."

I suppose someone should come to the aid of the Iranians, lord knows they've been victimized an awful lot lately.

The author also writes:
The US soldiers are also losers in this and know it as "Several U.S. soldiers, some of whom have grappled repeatedly with the question of Sadr during their second or third tours in Iraq, blamed politics for the failure to enter Sadr City full-force and said it had been a mistake not to move against Sadr previously.

Why not state the plain facts about the genocide in Iraq? The US is contributing to the genocide of the Sunnis in Iraq. The Islamic world knows it and consequentially sympathy and identification for the jihadists is increasing. W's stupid policies regarding GWOT are perpetuating GWOT.

Curiously, the author doesn't equivocally state that we should pull out of Iraq, although he calls it an "illegal war." He must be a good dancer.

Thankfully, at least one politician is calling a spade a spade. Joseph Lieberman (I) Connecticut, writes in his Opinion piece today in the Wall Street Journal:

Two months into the 110th Congress, Washington has never been more bitterly divided over our mission in Iraq. The Senate and House of Representatives are bracing for parliamentary trench warfare--trapped in an escalating dynamic of division and confrontation that will neither resolve the tough challenges we face in Iraq nor strengthen our nation against its terrorist enemies around the world.

What is remarkable about this state of affairs in Washington is just how removed it is from what is actually happening in Iraq. There, the battle of Baghdad is now under way. A new commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has taken command, having been confirmed by the Senate, 81-0, just a few weeks ago. And a new strategy is being put into action, with thousands of additional American soldiers streaming into the Iraqi capital.

If we stopped the legislative maneuvering and looked to Baghdad, we would see what the new security strategy actually entails and how dramatically it differs from previous efforts. For the first time in the Iraqi capital, the focus of the U.S. military is not just training indigenous forces or chasing down insurgents, but ensuring basic security--meaning an end, at last, to the large-scale sectarian slaughter and ethnic cleansing that has paralyzed Iraq for the past year.

But the fact is that we are in a different place in Iraq today from even just a month ago--with a new strategy, a new commander, and more troops on the ground. We are now in a stronger position to ensure basic security--and with that, we are in a stronger position to marginalize the extremists and strengthen the moderates; a stronger position to foster the economic activity that will drain the insurgency and militias of public support; and a stronger position to press the Iraqi government to make the tough decisions that everyone acknowledges are necessary for progress.

Unfortunately, for many congressional opponents of the war, none of this seems to matter. As the battle of Baghdad just gets underway, they have already made up their minds about America's cause in Iraq, declaring their intention to put an end to the mission before we have had the time to see whether our new plan will work.

There is of course a direct and straightforward way that Congress could end the war, consistent with its authority under the Constitution: by cutting off funds. Yet this option is not being proposed. Critics of the war instead are planning to constrain and squeeze the current strategy and troops by a thousand cuts and conditions. Among the specific ideas under consideration are to tangle up the deployment of requested reinforcements by imposing certain "readiness" standards, and to redraft the congressional authorization for the war, apparently in such a way that Congress will assume the role of commander in chief and dictate when, where and against whom U.S. troops can fight.

In fact, halting the current security operation at midpoint, as virtually all of the congressional proposals seek to do, would have devastating consequences. It would put thousands of American troops already deployed in the heart of Baghdad in even greater danger--forced to choose between trying to hold their position without the required reinforcements or, more likely, abandoning them outright. A precipitous pullout would leave a gaping security vacuum in its wake, which terrorists, insurgents, militias and Iran would rush to fill--probably resulting in a spiral of ethnic cleansing and slaughter on a scale as yet unseen in Iraq.

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

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

That's one Senator with a pragmatic view. One Senator who held to his convictions amidst a devastating betrayal by his own party in the last election. One Senator with a positive outlook, one that will serve to inspire us, rather than play against are insecurity and fear.


A sinkhole in Guatemala swallows a number of homes. At least three people are missing.

Patrick Bateman: The world just opens up and swallows them.

Donald Kimball: Eerie. Very eerie.

- American Psycho, 2000

To question whether Iran should be under question

It should come as no shock that the United States keep itself in a state of readiness, but it appeared to be news today on Yahoo!, which reported the U.S. is developing a contingency plan to bomb Iran. Of course the military has contingencies prepared for worst-case scenarios, or lightning strikes against serious regimes that pose a serious threat.

Few regimes so aptly deserve such status. I doubt the U.S. military has seriously pondered the best possible way to launch an assault on Singapore. Indeed, only today U.S. officers discovered a factory for assembling sophisticated roadside bombs from Iranian-made components. Perhaps more damning, an Iranian General, the third highest ranking Iranian General in the Iranian Quds force, is in custody in Iraq. He was caught planning attacks against Americans and supplying weapons. This latest raid only further supports U.S. claims on Iran.

Meanwhile, Palestinians have pledged their support for Iran in the event of a joint U.S./Israeli strike. Yet, the wind may be taken out of their sails, if indeed the U.S. is conducting "very aggressive" special operations in Iran, as Seymour Hersh alleges in his latest expose, bolstered by numerous unnamed sources.

If indeed Americans are engaging in stealth operations within Iran, the world should not be surprised, for as Amir Taheri has said, Iran has been playing "Russian Roulette." Taheri was born in Iran and educated in Tehran, London and Paris. Between 1980 and 1984 he was Middle East editor for the London Sunday Times. Taheri has been a contributor to the International Herald Tribune since 1980. He has also written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Taheri has published nine books some of which have been translated into 20 languages, and In 1988 Publishers'' Weekly in New York chose his study of Islamist terrorism, "Holy Terror", as one of The Best Books of The Year.

Taheri writes:

The gunboat was a medium of communication, a semiological prop, used by powerful nations to persuade weaker ones not to transcend red lines. In a sense, it was an instrument of peace insofar as it persuaded putative adversaries to moderate their defiance.

Watching a second American battle group sail into the Gulf of Oman the other day, one could not help recall the days of gunboat diplomacy. Accompanied by its flotilla of warships, the USS Dwight D Eisenhower, was sailing towards the Strait of Homuz to join its sister aircraft carrier, the USS Stennis.

What is the message that the aircraft carriers are supposed to convey? And, to whom is it addressed?

The answer to the second question, relayed by the media ad nauseum, is clear: the American "gunboat" message is destined for the Khomeinist leadership in Tehran.

The Khomeinist leadership is convinced that the United States' domestic political feuds would not allow Bush to cry: fire!

The Khomeinist analysis is based on two assumptions.

First, the US is in the midst of a political civil war in which the new Democrat majority would do all it can to frustrate Bush's attempt at reshaping the Middle East. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad praises Democrat leaders as "wise men", and counts on them to force a premature withdrawal of American troops from the region. It is assumed that those ready do all to ensure that the US is defeated in Iraq, would not help Bush restrain the mullahs.

Ahmadinejad's second assumption is that Bush is an atypical American leader who, if slapped, would not turn the other cheek. However, Bush is already a lame duck, forced to spend more energy countering domestic foes than promoting pax Americana. All that Tehran has to do is wait another year or so, in the hope that whoever succeeds Bush will be another Jimmy Carter, Bush the father, or Bill Clinton.

In the old times, gunboat diplomacy worked because the man who sent the flotilla could use it without being second-guessed at every step. The gunboat was a symbol of power that was real because those who possessed it had the will and the courage to use it. In most cases, it was not actually used because those targeted knew that it could be used.

Today, however, the US has all the power in the world but lacks the will and courage to use it. Over the past quarter of a century, the Khomeinist regime has had the prudence not to behave like suicidal adolescents. When faced with the risk of hitting something hard, it has always retreated. In 1988, Khomeini accepted a humiliating ceasefire with Iraq when he realized that the Americans would punish him if he refused. Ten years later, Khamenehi, decided to eat humble pie when the Taliban killed dozens of Iranians, including eight diplomats. He had no stomach for a fight against elements even madder than the mullahs.

The key question now is whether the Khomeinist regime, which has always played chess, has decided to play Russian roulette.

The perceived political weakness of the United States, and the expectation that the Democrats would seek a strategic retreat, may have persuaded the Khomeinist leadership that Ahmadinejad may be right after all: the Islamic Republic can pursue a hegemonic strategy with no fear of hitting something hard.

Ahmadinejad, reported to watch a lot of CNN, has seen the gunboats sail in. But he has also seen Nancy Pelosi, Jack Murtha, Barrack Obama, and other American luminaries such as Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky and Jane Fonda who would rather see Bush destroyed than the mullahs restrained. The American gunboat ballet does not impress the radicals in the ascendancy in Tehran. And that is bad news for all concerned, above all the people of the region.

But Iran may be destroying itself, as TCS Reports, courtesy JunkYardBlog:
Iran receives 80-90% of its export earnings from oil exports. Due to problems with Iran's oil refining sector, Iran must import 40% of the gasoline it consumes. Iran's existing oil fields suffer natural output declines of 8-10% per year. Iran requires foreign capital investment and foreign technical expertise to maintain its oil industry and the income it produces. (See this country report from the U.S. Energy Information Agency for background on Iran's energy sector. And see this recent academic study predicting the collapse of Iran's oil industry.)

Iran's undiversified economy is highly vulnerable to attack. Murder and intimidation, performed by a ruthless non-state group, may be all that is required to slowly but surely grind down the Iranian economy.

As previously mentioned, the Iranian oil industry requires the expertise of foreign engineers to maintain its output. An anti-Iranian terror group could target for assassination the engineers and executives (and their families) of any French, Russian, Japanese, or Chinese oil companies that may be considering work in Iran. The goals of such a terror group would be to create social and political chaos inside Iran, to weaken the government and its ability to function, and to dry up funding for Iran's nuclear industry.
The moral of the story is, there is a preponderance of evidence that Iran is up to no good; from U.S. arm seizures in Iraq, to captured Iranian generals, to Iranian dissidents who know the mentality of their homeland's leaders, to its pernicious and desperate attempts to obtain nuclear capabilities.

The wrong decision is for us to back down.

Beware that perilous road

In this Sunday's Wall Street Journal, Nick Cohen writes:

The British far left makes common cause with Muslim reactionaries
After suicide bombers massacred Londoners on July 7, 2005, leftish rather than conservative papers held British foreign policy responsible for the slaughters on the transport network. ("Blair's Bombs," ran the headline in my own leftish New Statesman.)

Our Stop the War coalition is an alliance of the white far left and the Islamist far right, and George Galloway, its leader, and the first allegedly "far left" member to be elected to the British Parliament in 50 years, is an admirer of Saddam Hussein and Hezbollah.

Why is the world upside down? In part, it is a measure of President Bush's failure that anti-Americanism has swept out of the intelligentsia and become mainstream in Britain. A country that was once the most pro-American in Western Europe now derides Tony Blair for sticking with the Atlantic alliance. But if Iraq has pummeled Mr. Blair's reputation, it has also shone a very harsh light on the British and European left.

Until very recently our Labour government was allowing its dealings with Britain's Muslim minority to be controlled by an unelected group, the Muslim Council of Britain, which stood for everything social democrats were against. In their desperate attempts to ingratiate themselves, ministers gave its leader a knighthood--even though he had said that "death was too good" for Salman Rushdie, who happens to be a British citizen as well as a great novelist.

Beyond the contortions and betrayals of liberal and leftish thinking lies a simple emotion that I don't believe Americans take account of: an insidious fear that has produced the ideal conditions for appeasement. Radical Islam does worry Europeans but we are trying to prevent an explosion by going along with Islamist victimhood. We blame ourselves for the Islamist rage, in the hope that our admission of guilt will pacify our enemies. We are scared, but not scared enough to take a stand.

On the contrary, in a new poll, Indians rate terrorism as 'biggest worry', and Terrorism Tops List Of Citizens’ Concerns in Spain. It's difficult to discern the difference between the threat these two societies face, and those of America and Britain. True, India and Spain are much closer to the middle east, but Spain is one of the most liberal countries in Europe. India's fears are well-founded; terror attacks by homegrown Islamic radicals, or scions of Pakistan, are nearly a monthly occurrence.

Liberal Europe and America would do well to live in just a little more fear. It would heighten our senses and steel our resolve. Unfortunately, the post-9/11 unity we saw had deteriorated into lackadaisical complacency.

I fear that we will awaken again to the terrorist threat the hard way.

Murtha Stumbles on Iraq Funding Curbs - Slow Bleed Is Dead

Democrats believed they could grab hold of Iraq war policy but a botched launch by the plan's author, Rep. John P. Murtha (Pa.), has united Republicans and divided Democrats, sending the latter back to the drawing board just a week before scheduled legislative action, a score of House Democratic lawmakers said last week.

read more | digg story

Al-Qa'eda 'plotted to kill Tony Blair in front of the Queen'

Tony Blair defied an assassination threat from al-Qa'eda to take part in the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations in central London in 2002, it can be revealed for the first time. Mr Blair had become a target after backing the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan by the deployment of British air power and troops.

read more | digg story

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Let's talk about Iraq

The decision to invade Iraq has left the region less stable in the short term. It is true that removing Saddam unleashed Iran's ambitions. It is true that terrorist attacks now occur on a daily basis in Iraq, perpetrated by a combination of warring sectarian militias, former Baathists, al Qaeda militants, and possibly Iranian operatives. It is true that this kind of violence did not take place under Saddams Hussein's alternatively murderous regime. Arguably, we have traded on evil for another, or so it would seem.

This author was not in favor of the Iraq invasion, mostly based on the evidence, or lack thereof. Americans were right to question the government's aims and reasoning to go to war. It is true we had not completed our mission in Afghanistan while pursuing Iraq. We still have not completed the mission in Afghanistan.

It is true that when we invaded Iraq, we should have sent more troops, secured arms storage facilities better, done more to stem the looting, and certainly kept better track of the U.S. tax-payer dollars spent, as Paul Bremer's recent testimony in Congress revealed how poorly he managed the crates of cash.

It is also true that Congress, many Democrats included, gave the President authorization to remove Saddam Hussein through the use of military force. Democrats, and many Republicans claim today that they would not have voted to go to war given what they know now. However, the same Congressmen knew full well the potential for bloodhshed with their vote.

Yes, Bush was foolish to declare "mission accomplished" on an aircraft carrier. It was foolish to blithely declare "you are with us or against us." It was foolish to brazenly provoke terrorists by saying "Bring 'em on." It was foolish of the President to allow his secondaries, such as Donald Rumsfeld, to engage in flippant rhetoric, particularly by derisively describing many of our European allies as "old Europe." There is no question that these actions impinged America's "soft power" by inciting enemies, offending allies, and instigating critics.

However, a healthy skepticism about nation-building, pre-emptive strikes, and spreading democracy has descended into a cascading series of Bush-hating diatribes. Unfortunately, the hatred of President Bush (I've been there, too) has morphed into a wholesale, categorical repudiation of his policies. Nowhere is this more self-evident than the debate about Iraq on Capitol Hill.

The dominant news coverage on Iraq has focused on suicide bombings, troop deaths, and civilian casualties. It is true that thousands of lives have been lost in Iraq, with civilians suffering the most. We have lost more than 3,000 American soldiers. Foreign fighters stream into Iraq via porous Iranian and Syrian borders. Al Qaeda has mounted numerous attacks. Revenge killings between Sunni and Shi'a are a daily occurrence.

Of the Good, Bad and the Ugly - It is by far the Ugly which gets the most press. Understandably, because the media needs to sell papers and advertising. The unfortunate, unintended consequence to this situation, though, is obfuscation.

Americans are not getting the full picture. Any attempt to place Iraq in context is often drowned out by another suicide bombing. For this reason, it is thoroughly important that an accurate account of the situation be told, which I can only modestly attempt to do.

There is much more at play in Iraq - and much more at stake - than troop or civilian deaths. Moreover, the facts and figures, when placed in context, paint a very different portrait of the situation throughout the country. The under reported news, combined with analysis, does much more to shed light than banal casualty figures cited daily from AP or Reuters wires.

For example, Bob Simon of CBS recently reported from Iraqi Kurdistan for 60 Minutes:

"Try to imagine a peaceful and stable Iraq, where business is booming, and America is beloved," Simon begins. In Kurdistan, "there are more cranes than minarets, and new malls are being built." Even an Opera house is under construction. Not a single American soldier has been killed in Kurdistan. For that matter, only between 60 or 70 American troops are even stationed in Kurdistan. The region holds boundless promise - English is taught as a second language, not Arabic.

Dr. Ali Sayyed Mohammed, the President of Sulaimaniya University says: "The Kurds will be the best friends for the Americans in this region. Even better than Israel."

Simon then asks:

"So from your point of view, the American invasion of Iraq was a good thing?"

"It was not invasion, it was liberation. Americans liberated the Iraqi people from the dictatorship."
Even Kurdish mosques speak well of the United States after Friday prayers. "We were always friends with America, we are in love with America" a Kurdish man states while interviewed outside the mosque. The Kurds had a long road to freedom, and they are very thankful of the U.S. One one day in 1988, Saddam gassed 5,000 Kurds.

The interview ends with Simon asking Dr. Mohammed "Do you ever feel like you're dreaming?"

To which he replies "Sometimes dreams come true."

This 60 minutes clip is but on example of the good we are doing in Iraq, and the hope that Iraqis hold dear.

NPR news, a well respected, but also left-leaning media outlet that I listen to five days a week, recently reported on developments within the Sunni-dominated al Anbar province: Sunni Sheiks Join Iraqi Police to Fight Al Qaeda

The NPR correspondent, Tom Bowman begins:

“Angered by the brutal attacks by al Qaeda, these traditional leaders are not ordering their men to join the Iraqi security forces.
"Sheiks once worked with al Qaeda militants, or at least tolerated their presence. But when some Sheiks tentatively reached out to the Americans, al Qaeda’s reaction was swift and deadly. Sheiks were murdered – even their children were targeted – beheaded – and delivered to the family doorstep.”
Tribal leaders list some complaints:

“They killed my father, they killed three of my brothers. They killed 14 other sheiks from different tribes.”
Bowman continues:
"Finally, these Sunni tribal leaders had enough. Some two dozen Sheiks banded together last year in what they called the awakening. They signed a document pledging to destroy al Qaeda and said any attack on the Americans was considered an attack on the tribes."

“The insurgents have the upper hand in al Anbar. And we decided we must put our hand together and fight, defeat these criminals.” said a Sheik. The local assistance helps to "bring what Americans don’t have. A detailed knowledge of the people, they can pinpoint the Anbar citizens fighting the Americans, they can pick out a foreign fighter." [They] say their alliance with the Americans have crippled al qaeda in Anbar province.

These reports, this atypical news cannot be simply categorized, it needs a word to define it. Perhaps this kind of news can best be described as "atypical." A better word, more unique and appropriate might be "especial," since we are speaking of something of special note, highly distinctive, directed toward a particular end. This especial news is Highly distinctive news from the media about Iraq that is not common.

Especial news can be found, if one looks:

Mark Steyn notes that "80 percent of the violence in Iraq took place within 30 miles of Baghdad."

Patrick Ruffini also remarks in Shhh... The surge is working, that:
"...something interesting is happening on the way to the "new direction." Early indications are that the troop surge into Baghdad is working. It hasn't been reported on widely, but murders in Baghdad are down 70%, attacks are down 80%, Mahdi Army chief Moqtada al-Sadr has reportedly made off for Iran, and many Baghdadis who had fled the violence now feel it's safe enough to return. The strategy that Congress is busy denouncing is proving to be our best hope for victory."

Time magazine also worries that it's "Quiet in Baghdad. Too quiet."

The especial news keeps rolling in, if you look:

BizzyBlog published an amazing post in January: Iraq and the US: ‘Violent Death’ Stats That Will Iraq Your World

Citing AP figures, US census figures, and figures from the Iraqi government, civilian casualties in Baghdad on a per capita basis are an eye-opener when put in context:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Government officials on Monday reported that 16,273 Iraqi civilians, soldiers and police died violent deaths in 2006, a figure larger than an independent Associated Press count for the year by more than 2,500.

The tabulation by the Iraqi ministries of Health, Defense and Interior, showed that 14,298 civilians, 1,348 police and 627 soldiers were killed in the violence that raged in the country last year.

The Associated Press accounting, gleaned from daily news reports from Baghdad, arrived at a total of 13,738 deaths.

Using the government's figures means that Iraq's violent death rate was 56.49 per 100,000 residents.

Click the link above for further statistics and explanation.

Moving forward with especial news - Alicia Colon of the New York Sun continues along the same lines with her piece Heroes and Cowards:

The total military dead in the Iraq war between 2003 and this month stands at about 3,133. This is tragic, as are all deaths due to war, and we are facing a cowardly enemy unlike any other in our past that hides behind innocent citizens. Each death is blazoned in the headlines of newspapers and Internet sites. What is never compared is the number of military deaths during the Clinton administration: 1,245 in 1993; 1,109 in 1994; 1,055 in 1995; 1,008 in 1996. That's 4,417 deaths in peacetime but, of course, who's counting?


The noted Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff wrote in an April 3, 2003, column headlined "Why I Am Not Marching": "I participated in many demonstrations against the Vietnam War. … But I could not participate in the demonstrations against the war on Iraq." He had learned of Saddam's atrocities again the Iraqi people and said, "If people want to talk about containing [Saddam Hussein] and don't want to go in forcefully and remove him, how do they propose doing something about the horrors he is inflicting on his people who live in such fear of him?" That's a question these protesters fail to address.

Bill Roggio also reports:

Mishan al-Jabouri, the owner of al-Zawraa, or Muj TV, has issued a scathing statement against al-Qaeda in Iraq, and its political front, the Islamic State in Iraq, which is run by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. The attack on al-Qaeda in Iraq was given by al-Jabouri himself and broadcast on al-Zawraa after several days of publishing items critical of al-Qaeda in its scroll.

Al-Jabouri provides a laundry list of complaints against al-Qaeda and its Islamic State:

• Al-Qaeda in Iraq has divided the Iraqi people, failed to protect the Sunnis and brought the Shia death squads down on the Sunnis by inciting sectarian violencethrough mass suicide attacks. Al-Qaeda has "broken the back of national unity in Iraq and they resulted in bringing great suffering upon Iraqis" by targeting Shia and giving the Shia "the excuse for it to retaliate and go to the Sunni neighborhoods to kill 4 or 5 or 10 times the number that was killed of the Shi'as."
• The Islamic State of Iraq in Iraq (al Qaeda) wants the Sunni groups to "pledge allegiance" to leaders, ministers and emirs whose identities are unknown, including Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.
• Islamic State of Iraq has continued to conduct an extensive campaign of assassination against rival sheikhs, emirs and insurgent group leaders, and in many cases added insult to injury by failing to give the bodies back tot eh families. One of al-Jabouri's own messengers was executed.
• The Islamic State of Iraq has no system of law or justice. "Is this the State you want to establish? To kill people without an accusation, or investigation, without a judge or nothing."
• Weapons and ammunition are being confiscated from insurgent groups that do not support the Islamic State.
• Al-Qaeda in Iraq is intentionally targeting members of the Iraqi Army and police forces, who al-Jabouri and other insurgents believe are acting int eh best interest of Iraqis.
• The goal of the Islamic State of Iraq is to serve as a stepping stone to attack other nations, which endangers the Iraqi people. "We will not allow Iraq to turn into a dangerous place that threatens the countries of the region under any pretext, these Arabs that you have about you, let then go and fight in their own countries and not among us..."
• Because of al-Qaeda's actions the Sunni insurgents not aligned with the Islamic State are preparing to battle with al-Qaeda outside of Ramadi. "I warn you that in areas apart from Ramadi the situation is changing whereby all will cooperate to confront you."

Why should we leave now when we are gaining the upper hand, while al Qaeda exposes itself as an organization of brutish thugs?

The especial news does not end there. While Murtha, Edwards, Clinton and Obama call for withdrawal, Iraqis say the opposite:

Ramadi Shaykhs in No Hurry to See Americans Leave Al-Anbar

That's from Col. Sean B. MacFarland, commander of the 1st BCT, 1st AD which hasreturned to its home base in Wiesbaden, Germany after a 14 month deploymentin Ramadi, where he flipped the majority of Ramadi's tribal shaykhs toour side. "If you talk to these sheiks, they'll tell you that they're in no hurry to see the Americans leave al-Anbar," he said.

While we are asked by Iraqis to stay abroad, Americans diametrically opposed to even the notion that the United States stay one more day are attacking war supporters in their homes. Here is one such individual's rants:

Republicans are Cowards

Who's afraid of the terrorist "threat"? Republicans.

Who's afraid of dirty bombs, airplanes, and anthrax attacks that have the statistically miniscule possibility of hurting you? Republicans.

Who's willing to wave little plastic flags and shed a tear listening to God-awful music by backwards hillbillies who talk the talk and fear everything under the sun?


Face it, the GOP is the party of the cowardly. And all fucking cowards will fucking hang.

Whether he knows it or not, Andrew Stone is quite literally towing Osama bin Laden's line: "Every American man is an enemy to us."

And from January, 2006:

"My message to you is about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the way to end it." [By turning tail and running]

The Pentagon figures indicate the rise in the number of your dead and wounded, let alone the huge material losses, and let alone the collapse of the morale of the soldiers there and the increase in the suicide cases among them.

This news indicates that what is carried by the news media does not exceed what is actually taking place on the ground. What increases doubts on the information of the White House's administration is its targeting of the news media, which carry some facts about the real situation.

Jihad is continuing, praise be to God, despite all the repressive measures the US army and its agents.

On the other hand, the mujahideen, praise be to God, have managed to breach
all the security measures adopted by the unjust nations of the coalition time
and again.

The evidence of this is the bombings you have seen in the capitals of the most important European countries of this aggressive coalition.

As for the delay in carrying out similar operations in America, this was not due to failure to breach your security measures. Operations are under preparation, and you will see them on your own ground once they are finished, God willing. ...announce that the US interference in the world's countries has ended for ever.

Finally, I would like to tell you that the war is for you or for us to win. If we win it, it means your defeat and disgrace forever as the wind blows in this direction with God's help.

If you win it, you should read the history. We are a nation that does not tolerate injustice and seek revenge forever.

Days and nights will not go by until we take revenge as we did on 11 September, God willing, and until your minds are exhausted and your lives become miserable and things turn [for the worse], which you detest.

However, the argument that he avoided, which is the substance of the results of opinion polls on withdrawing the troops, is that it is better not to fight the Muslims on their land and for them not to fight us on our land.

Do you want to give in to this guy? Does he sound like he will give up unless he is dead? But what does al Qaeda want?

Lawrence Wright says:

One line of thinking proposes that America's tragedy on September 11th was born in the prisons of Egypt. Human-rights advocates in Cairo argue that torture created an appetite for revenge, first in Sayyid Qutb and later in his acolytes, including Ayman al-Zawahiri. The main target of their wrath was the secular Egyptian government, but a powerful current of anger was directed toward the West, which they saw as an enabling force behind the repressive regime. They held the West responsible for corrupting and humiliating Islamic society. Indeed, the theme of humiliation, which is the essence of torture, is important to understanding the Islamists' rage against the West. Egypt's prisons became a factory for producing militants whose need for retribution—they called it "justice"—was all-consuming.

Qutb said:

"We need to initiate the movement of Islamic revival in some Muslim country," he writes, in order to fashion an example that will eventually lead Islam to its destiny of world dominion. "There should be a vanguard which sets out with this determination and then keeps walking on the path."

Possibly worse than the primary fanatics are the stealth supporters of radical Islam and terrorism, who depict their support through thinly veiled poetry:

I am for Terrorism, as long as this new world, deeply hates, the smell of Arabs

I am for Terrorism, If this new world, Is equally split between, America and Israel

Yet are we doomed to make the same mistakes as we have in the past? As evidenced by [now] Senator James Webb in this essay from 1997:

It is difficult to explain to my children that in my teens and early twenties the most frequently heard voices of my peers were trying to destroy the foundations of American society, so that it might be rebuilt according to their own narcissistic notions. In retrospect it’s hard even for some of us who went through those times to understand how highly educated people—most of them spawned from the comforts of the upper-middle class—could have seriously advanced the destructive ideas that were in the air during the late ’60s and early ’70s. Even Congress was influenced by the virus.


This so-called Watergate Congress rode into town with an overriding mission that had become the rallying point of the American Left: to end all American assistance in any form to the besieged government of South Vietnam. Make no mistake—this was not the cry of a few years earlier to stop young Americans from dying. It had been two years since the last American soldiers left Vietnam, and fully four years since the last serious American casualty calls there.
For reasons that escape historical justification, even after America’s military withdrawal the Left continued to try to bring down the incipient South Vietnamese democracy. Future White House aide Harold Ickes and others at "Project Pursestrings"—assisted at one point by an ambitious young Bill Clinton—worked to cut off all congressional funding intended to help the South Vietnamese defend themselves. The Indochina Peace Coalition, run by David Dellinger and headlined by Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden, coordinated closely with Hanoi throughout 1973 and 1974, and barnstormed across America’s campuses, rallying students to the supposed evils of the South Vietnamese government. Congressional allies repeatedly added amendments to spending bills to end U.S. support of Vietnamese anti-Communists, precluding even air strikes to help South Vietnamese soldiers under attack by North Vietnamese units that were assisted by Soviet-bloc forces.
The rhetoric of the antiwar Left during these debates was filled with condemnation of America’s war-torn allies, and promises of a better life for them under the Communism that was sure to follow. Then-Congressman Christopher Dodd typified the hopeless naiveté of his peers when he intoned that "calling the Lon Nol regime an ally is to debase the word.... The greatest gift our country can give to the Cambodian people is peace, not guns. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now." Tom Downey, having become a foreign policy expert in the two months since being freed from his mother’s apron strings, pooh-poohed the coming Cambodian holocaust that would kill more than one-third of the country’s population, saying, "The administration has warned that if we leave there will be a bloodbath. But to warn of a new bloodbath is no justification for extending the current bloodbath."


As the shocked and demoralized South Vietnamese military sought to readjust its forces to cope with serious shortages, the newly refurbished North Vietnamese immediately launched a major offensive. Catching many units out of position, the North rolled down the countryside over a 55-day period. In the ensuing years I have interviewed South Vietnamese survivors of these battles, many of whom spent ten years and more in Communist concentration camps after the war. The litany is continuous: "I had no ammunition." "I was down to three artillery rounds per tube per day." "I had nothing to give my soldiers." "I had to turn off my radio because I could no longer bear to hear their calls for help."
For those who had evaded the war and come of age believing our country was somehow evil, even as they romanticized the intentions of the Communists, these few weeks brought denials of their own responsibility in the debacle, armchair criticisms of the South Vietnamese military, or open celebrations. At the Georgetown University Law Center where I was a student, the North’s blatant discarding of the promises of peace and elections contained in the 1973 Paris Accords, followed by the rumbling of North Vietnamese tanks through the streets of Saigon, was treated by many as a cause for actual rejoicing.
There is perhaps no greater testimony to the celebratory atmosphere that surrounded the Communist victory in Vietnam than the 1975 Academy Awards, which took place on April 8, just three weeks before the South’s final surrender. The award for Best Feature Documentary went to the film Hearts and Minds, a vicious piece of propaganda that assailed American cultural values as well as our effort toassist South Vietnam’s struggle for democracy. The producers, Peter Davis and Bert Schneider [who plays a role in David Horowitz’s story—see page 31], jointly accepted the Oscar. Schneider was frank in his support of the Communists. As he stepped to the mike he commented that "It is ironic that we are here at a time just before Vietnam is about to be liberated." Then came one of the most stunning—if intentionally forgotten—moments in Hollywood history. As a struggling country many Americans had paid blood and tears to try to preserve was disappearing beneath a tank onslaught, Schneider pulled out a telegram from our enemy, the Vietnamese Communist delegation in Paris, and read aloud its congratulations to his film. Without hesitating, Hollywood’s most powerful people rewarded Schneider’s reading of the telegram with a standing ovation.
Those of us who either fought in Vietnam or supported our efforts there look at this 1975 "movie moment" with unforgetting and unmitigated amazement. Who were these people who so energetically poisoned the rest of the world’s view of us? How had they turned so virulently against their own countrymen? How could they stand and applaud the victory of a Communist enemy who had taken 58,000 American lives and crushed a struggling, pro-democratic ally? Could they and the rest of us be said to be living in the same country anymore?
Not a peep was heard then, or since, from Hollywood regarding the people who disappeared behind Vietnam’s bamboo curtain. No one has ever mentioned the concentration camps into which a million South Vietnamese soldiers were sent; 56,000 to die, 250,000 to stay for more than six years, and some for as long as 18. No one criticized the forced relocations, the corruption, or the continuing police state. More to the point, with the exception of the well-intentioned but artistically weak Hamburger Hill, one searches in vain for a single major film since that time that has portrayed American soldiers in Vietnam with dignity and in a true context.
As reported in Public Opinion, Gallup surveys from 1966 to the end of U.S. involvement show that younger Americans actually supported the Vietnam war longer than any other age group. Even by January of 1973, when 68 percent of Americans over the age of 50 believed it had been a mistake to send troops to Vietnam, only 49 percent of those between 25 and 29 agreed. These findings that the youth cohort as a whole was distinctly unradical were buttressed by 1972 election results—where 18- to 29-year-olds preferred Richard Nixon to George McGovern by 52 to 46 percent.
This same survey contained what was called a "feelings thermometer," measuring the public’s attitudes toward various groups on a scale of 1 to 10. Veterans who served in Vietnam rated a 9.8 on this scale. Doctors scored a 7.9, TV reporters a 6.1, politicians a 5.2, antiwar demonstrators a 5.0, and draft evaders who went to Canada came in at 3.3.
Contrary to persistent mythology, two-thirds of those who served during Vietnam were volunteers rather than draftees, and 77 percent of those who died were volunteers. Of those who died, 86 percent were Caucasian, 12.5 percent were African-American, and 1.2 percent were from other races. The common claim that it was minorities and the poor who were left to do the dirty work of military service in Vietnam is false. The main imbalance in the war was simply that the privileged avoided their obligations, and have persisted since that time in demeaning the experience in order to protect themselves from the judgment of history.
James Webb, a Marine rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam, hasserved as Secretary of the Navy and is the author of several novels.

And today, some Congressman, like Jack Murtha, slight our troops by decrying that they live in "palaces" in Iraq, as if they are on vacation.

Michael Moore is not too bashful to say "Cut and Run, the only brave thing to do," while other Congressmen now oppose the surge they were for only a year ago. It's hypocrisy, panderous hypocrisy.

The especial news is out there: American journalists openly and unapologetically use their position to launch pernicious verbal assaults, and call our troops mercenaries, such as William Arkin, from the Washington Post:

"America needs to ponder what it is we really owe those in uniform."

"These soldier should be grateful..."

"...ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them..."

But there is a silver lining, as always. I am pragmatic, which is confirmed by the following comments of John Burns, Baghdad bureau chief for the New York Times for over a decade recently said on Charlie Rose:

I think it's important for Americans to know that despite the price that America has paid and the deaths of American troops and how many was it this weekend? - the Blackhawk crash with 13 dead... a very heavy price to pay - the ordinary Iraqi, believe me, the ordinary Iraqi, and I think the vast majority of them are deeply grateful to us for having got rid of Saddam Hussein, and that's not just the Shiites.


When we [journalists in Baghdad] sit around at our table for dinner... two things to my mind categorize those conversations... you could never say this is lost. You can't preclude the possibility that a change in a number of things, first of all stabilizing Baghdad, an exhaustion of violence that will come sooner or later... and a realization on the part of neighboring countries that there is not much to be gained for them from a slide into complete anarchy and chaos. And the other thing that we talk about is... what is the alternative?
I've never been involved in a story that's quite so compelling, that weighs quite so heavily on the American interests in the world... for my generation... I think this has been the defining moment.

The following is an excerpt from an article by, Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. It is important to note that the over-arching goal of the most radical muslims is to spread Sharia law throughout the world, and establish the Caliphate.

However well-known the Rushdie affair may be, we have arguably missed its larger significance. As D’Souza notes, given that sharia law punishes apostasy with death, “Khomeini’s fatwa against Rushdie was entirely in line with Islamic teaching, and even traditional Muslims could not disagree with the ayatollah’s verdict.” Westerners see the Rushdie case as an attack on free speech, and that it is. More deeply, however, the Rushdie affair was a triumph for the built-in enforcement mechanism that seals off Islam from adaptation to the modern world.
D’Souza gives the example of the Taliban’s notorious execution by stoning of two adulterers. Recently, notes D’Souza, Maulvi Qalamuddin, former head of the Taliban’s Department for the Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue, defended that stoning: “Just two people, that’s all, and we ended adultery in Kandahar.” By the same token, Ayatollah Khomeini might with justice have said of Salman Rushdie: “Just one writer, that’s all, and we killed off the possibility of a reformist Islam growing up in Europe.” Rushdie may not have been a religious reformer himself, yet the death sentence pronounced upon him sent out a powerful message to any European Muslim who might be planning to lead a movement for reform.

This, while Muslim groups in Britain, for example, are moving to Islamicize their adoptive homeland. And only last week it was revealed that a Muslim man killed his family for "being too Western."

Are these the monsters that we want to placate? Will they simply back down if we withdraw from Iraq? Or will the fanatics be emboldened to continue their crusade on Western values, institutions, and the essential basic structure of our 21st century global world?

The fact is - 292,000 Americans didn't die during World War II for us to lay down to a new breed of fascists. Likewise, 3,000 Americans shouldn't die in vain, (fighting a battle during a longer period than we fought World War II), because a chunk of the country doesn't like the President's Texas drawl, or his pedigree.

Enough is enough.

Once political maneuvering is placed ahead of the nation's interest, the terrorists will have really won. That is the danger that we now face. The average length of active-duty service during World War II was 33 months. My grandfather served 53 months. However, Jack Murtha believes a year is too long. Will Murtha stand up and finally say that we don't have the will, that we are not good enough - not as strong - as our forebears?

How do we allow zealots like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to pronounce "As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," with impunity? How can American citizens defend such a regime? This is not a slip of the tongue by a flippant politician - these are measured, deliberate remarks intended to shake our will and split us apart.

President Bush is far from an ideal statesman. His management of the federal budget, coupled with an inept, corrupt, Republican Congress, has dug us further in the hole, to such a degree that China provides $1 trillion in reserves to the United States, without which we could not live as we do. Republicans have been profligate; they've gotten bloated and complacent.

Democrats came to power in Congress on a wave of reform, and as such, they have begun to accomplish some good. But those same Democrats should be wary of the consequences if they lead the charge of defeat and withdrawal from Iraq.

It's much easier for Democrats to criticize and finger point from the sidelines. It's easy to pass non-binding resolutions. But the decision to pursue a policy of defeat should weigh heavily on any politician's soldiers. For we may pay less in blood and treasure in the long run if we pull out now, but by showing our enemies weakness, they will smell blood and look to continue this conflict for a long time to come.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Creationists Beware!

Washington Post:

Chimpanzees living in the West African savannah have been observed fashioning deadly spears from sticks and using the tools to hunt small mammals -- the first routine production of deadly weapons ever observed in animals other than humans.

The multistep spearmaking practice, documented by researchers in Senegal who spent years gaining the chimpanzees' trust, adds credence to the idea that human forebears fashioned similar tools millions of years ago.

The landmark observation also supports the long-debated proposition that females -- the main makers and users of spears among the Senegalese chimps -- tend to be the innovators and creative problem solvers in primate culture.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Let's iron out these Iranian ironies

It's not every day that the media reports blatantly contradictory news. Well... maybe it is every day, but the dichotomy may not always be seen so clearly. Today, the media's inconsistent message and faulty logic is evident.

Before we start, let's ask a question: Should we be judged by what we say or what we do?

Let's take, for example, a headline from today's Guardian:

Much of the intelligence on Iran's nuclear facilities provided to UN inspectors by US spy agencies has turned out to be unfounded, diplomatic sources in Vienna said today.

The claims, reminiscent of the intelligence fiasco surrounding the Iraq war, coincided with a sharp increase in international tension as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran was defying a UN security council ultimatum to freeze its nuclear programme.
Fine, there may be some cause for skepticism

However, most of the tip-offs about supposed secret weapons sites provided by the CIA and other US intelligence agencies have led to dead ends when investigated by IAEA inspectors, according to informed sources in Vienna.

"Most of it has turned out to be incorrect," a diplomat at the IAEA with detailed knowledge of the agency's investigations said.

"They gave us a paper with a list of sites. [The inspectors] did some follow-up, they went to some military sites, but there was no sign of [banned nuclear] activities.
In other words, because there is no smoking gun, such as a billowing mushroom cloud, or three-headed fish swimming around the Guld, Iran must be acquitted.

One particularly contentious issue was records of plans to build a nuclear warhead, which the CIA said it found on a stolen laptop computer supplied by an informant inside Iran. In July 2005, US intelligence officials showed printed versions of the material to IAEA officials, who judged it to be sufficiently specific to confront Iran.

Tehran rejected the material as forged, and there are still reservations within the IAEA about its authenticity, according to officials with knowledge of the internal debate in the agency.

"First of all, if you have a clandestine programme, you don't put it on laptops which can walk away," one official said. "The data is all in English which may be reasonable for some of the technical matters, but at some point you'd have thought there would be at least some notes in Farsi. So there is some doubt over the provenance of the computer."
Of course, just because there is evidence on a laptop doesn't mean it's real evidence. The Iranians wouldn't be that stupid, right?

Wait for it...

One of the "outstanding issues" listed in yesterday's report involves a 15-page document that appears to have been handed to IAEA inspectors by mistake with a batch of unrelated paperwork in October 2005.

That document roughly describes how to make hemispheres of enriched uranium, forwhich the only known use is in nuclear warheads. Iran has yet to present a satisfactory explanation of how and why it has the document.
They "mistakenly" gave us incrimating evidence! But you just said they wouldn't be that stupid?

"The issue here is the Iranians have not addressed outstanding issues, and we are still uncertain about the scope and intent of the programme," a senior UN official said last night.
No, the issue here is that the Iranians are harboring a clandestine nuclear weapons program, accidentally gave us evidence toward that assertion, also put it on a laptop, and are trying to wipe Israel off the map while consolidating regional hegemony.
But curiously, Iran's neighbors are much more skeptical:

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 22 — As fears grow over the escalating confrontation between Iran and the West, Arab states across the Persian Gulf have begun a rare show of muscle flexing, publicly advertising a shopping spree for new weapons and openly discussing their security concerns.

Typically secretive, the gulf nations have long planned upgrades to their armed forces, but now are speaking openly about them. American military officials say the countries, normally prone to squabbling, have also increased their military cooperation and opened lines of communication to the American military here.
The threat of Iran is not news to Iran's neighbors:

“There has always been an acknowledgment of the threat in the region, but the volume of the debate has now risen,” said one United Arab Emirates official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the subject. “Now the message is there’s a dialogue going on with Iran, but that doesn’t mean I don’t intend to defend myself.”
They look to the U.S. for defense:

As tensions with Iran rise, many gulf countries have come to see themselves as the likely first targets of an Iranian attack. Some have grown more concerned that the United States may be overstretched militarily, many analysts say, while almost all the monarchies, flush with cash as a result of high oil prices, have sought to build a military deterrent of their own.

“The message is first, ‘U.S., stay involved here,’ and second, ‘Iran, we will maintain a technological edge no matter what,’ ” said Emile el-Hokayem, research fellow at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a research center based in Washington. “They are trying to reinforce the credibility of the threat of force.”

“It is a message to enemies that ‘We are taking defense seriously,’ ” Mr. Kenkel said, emphasizing that the new arms were for deterrence.

“If the U.S. ever does pull back, these countries in the gulf have realized, they may have to fend for themselves,” Mr. Kenkel said. “As the Boy Scouts say, always be prepared.”

Senior United States military officials say gulf countries have become more nervous as Iran has conducted naval maneuvers, especially near the Straits of Hormuz, the main artery through which two-fifths of the world’s oil reaches markets.

“A year ago you could have characterized the interaction with the Iranians as professional,” said Vice Adm. Patrick Walsh, departing commander of the Fifth Fleet. “What’s different today has been the number and amount of exercises and the proximity of those exercises to the Straits of Hormuz themselves.”
The media should get its story straight. More importantly, the American public, policy makers, and critics should not ask: What is Iran saying? What are they telling us? What are they promising?

Rather, they should carefully note what Iran does, what Iran has done, and, perhaps most tellingly - what Iran's neighbors (who are no doubt more tuned to its temperament) are doing to react.

If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, will you still believe it's not a duck if someone tells you it's a donkey?

India makes a smart decision

India has banned the export to Iran of all material, equipment and technology which could contribute to Tehran's nuclear program, the government said Wednesday.

The restrictions bring India, a longtime Iranian ally, into compliance with the U.N. Security Council resolution passed in December that imposed limited sanctions on Tehran for its refusal to stop enriching uranium, which could be used to produce nuclear fuel or materials for a nuclear bomb.

Economic Warfare

Dr. Paul Kengor has a great article in Townhall today about Reagan's economic war against the soviets; particularly U.S. collusion with Saudi Arabia to drive down the price of oil, a critical source of revenue for the U.S.S.R.

In his pursuit of Cold War victory over Soviet communism, Ronald Reagan enlisted several fascinating covert efforts as part of a bold campaign of economic warfare, an assault so sensitive and so damaging that Reagan advisers denied it publicly, only acknowledging it decades later. “Certainly it was economic warfare,” said Reagan defense official Richard Perle, “although we had to deny it at the time.” Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger explained that the effort had to be “a silent campaign.”

In 1985-86, the Reagan team enlisted the secret support of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia to help destroy the Soviet economy by drastically reducing Soviet income from oil exports—a commodity that provided the Kremlin with the vast majority of its hard currency revenues. Reagan officials privately worked with the Saudis to manipulate the world’s oil market, encouraging them to increase production, thereby lowering the global price of oil. In the six months that followed, the price of oil dropped from $30 a barrel to $10 a barrel, sending catastrophic shock waves through the Soviet economy.

Definitely worth a read, and for the administration - some thought regarding Iran

George Will on weakness

Excerpt from George Will on

The new agreement might not bring Pyongyang to heel. It is, however, unlike that of 1994, in three particulars.

First, China was infuriated by North Korea's October nuclear test which fizzled but expressed defiance of China. So now China seems amenable to serious pressure on its mendicant neighbor, which is substantially dependent on China for food and energy.

Second, the new agreement, like the 1994 pact, is an attempt to modify behavior using bribery. But under the 1994 agreement, North Korea got the bribe -- energy assistance -- before being required to change its behavior. Under the new agreement, North Korea will receive just 5 percent of promised oil -- 50,000 of 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil -- before it must fulfill, in 60 days, the first of the many commitments it has made.

Third, the administration believes it found, in Banco Delta Asia, a lever that moved Pyongyang. The Macau bank was pressured into freezing 52 accounts holding $24 million -- yes, million, not billion -- of North Korean assets because Pyongyang has been using them for illicit purposes. If Pyongyang flinched from being deprived of $24 million -- less than Americans spend on archery equipment in a month -- Pyongyang's low pain threshold suggests how fragile, and hence perhaps how containable, that regime is.

Regarding Iraq, the Democratic-controlled Congress could do what Democrats say a Democratic president would do -- withdraw U.S. forces. A president could simply order that; Congress could defund military operations in Iraq. Congressional Democrats are, however, afraid to do that because they lack the courage of their (professed) conviction that Iraq would be made tranquil by withdrawal of U.S. forces.

So they aim to hamstring the president with restrictions on the use of the military. The restrictions ostensibly are concerned with preparedness but actually are designed to prevent deployments to Iraq.

In conclusion
In that welter of criteria there are reasons why the court will not rescue congressional Democrats from facing the logic of their posturing. They lack the will to exercise their clearly constitutional power to defund the war. And they lack the power to achieve that end by usurping the commander in chief's powers to conduct a war.