Monday, April 30, 2007

The Spread of Terror to Africa

Algeria's ISLAMIC militants were finished. As recently as last summer, security officials thought they had subdued Islamic insurgents after nearly a decade of civil war. They were wrong. Nearly eight months ago, Algerian militants declared an alliance with Al Qaeda and have violently announced their resurgence with a wave of spectacular attacks. So far this year, at least 165 people have died in the ensuing political violence. The newly christened Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb presents a new challenge – and not just in North Africa. Staff writer Jill Carroll reports on the rise of this new-old group of jihadists.

...long before the official union was announced, Algeria's radical Islamists were building ties with Osama bin Laden's group, according to terrorist experts.

As a Peter Wehner recently wrote: The terrorists will not go gently into the night. They will take what they can get. The speed of our capitulation and loss of will is directly proportional to the gains fundamentalist Islamic fascists make around the world.

The New York Times: As Blog Proliferate

“Bloggers, serious ones, do contribute to the spread of information,” said Tuyet Nguyen, a correspondent for the German press service DPA and president of the United Nations Correspondents Association.

What is Warming the Globe? A lot of hot air...

The ocean?

The United States' leading hurricane forecaster says that global ocean currents, not human-produced carbon dioxide, are responsible for global warming, and the earth may begin to cool on its own in five to 10 years.

The sun?

There is some news making the rounds that Earth is not the only planet experiencing global warming. Mars, for example, possibly appears to be getting a bit warmer, as are Jupiter, Neptune’s moon Triton, and even Pluto.

Could this mean that global warming is caused by the Sun and not man’s pollution?

As Hot Air noted the words of a Hurricane forecaster: It’s “crazy” to blame global warming on humans:

Gray, speaking to a group of Republican state lawmakers, had harsh words for researchers and politicians who say man-made greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming.

“They’re blaming it all on humans, which is crazy,” he said. “We’re not the cause of it.”

In a separate post, Hot Air also detailed Al Gore's apostasy... his attack on the professor who first opened his eyes to Global Warming. It seemed the professor had second thoughts about the causes of global warming, and suggested we not jump to conclusions for at least "10 or 20 years."

And finally, MediaMatters has launched its Global Warming: Misinformation Action Center, a great place to find resources, links and information that will scarcely be found among mainstream media outlets.

I can't believe Rosie O'Donnell was wrong!

When I heard the news report of the highway overpass collapse in San Francisco, my jaw dropped. But I wasn't surprised at the destruction on a California highway. Rather, it was the particular language the reporters, and even Governor Schwarzenegger, who was quoted, used... "The fire melted the steel."

But when I got to work, Hot Air was already on the case:

MSNBC also writes: The intense heat melted the steel of a highway passing overhead, causing a 250-yard section of the roadway to collapse.
Update: Then, of course, there is the comments section of Rosie's Blog. She at least responded to all of them...
The politely questioning:

The angry ones:

The confused...
The supporters...
The disgusted...
And there were, of course, the blissfully ignorant:

And no, she has not apologized...

The Question of America's Involvement in the World

Someone recently gave me his opinion of what America's role in the world should be, and how he thought we were overstepping our bounds, getting too involved in world affairs, and doing more harm than good:

We have enough to worry about within our own borders to run around wearing ourselves out with other's problems. I think our actions abroad only stimulate the hatred and act as catalysts to these anarchist groups that act in the name of Jihad. If we focused on gathering intelligence and self preservation, rather than aggressive imposition of our values, we would be safer, richer and in better favor with the rest of the planet. Yes, that would create more of a "have and have-nots" situation, but no more than we already have.

Isolationism versus engagement, passivity versus action, the status quo versus progress. The United States has wrestled with this issue throughout its history, and the debate continues in these troubled times. It is a difficult question, one that certainly evokes strong emotions among many people. But as usual, Thomas P.M. Barnett does an excellent job explaining why the latter position should be the only course of action.

I would surmise that there are three basic responses most people advocate when confronted with the Core-Gap thesis (Core=1st world, modern, peaceful countries; Gap=3rd world poor, undemocratic, chaotic, dangerous countries). The first basic response I would locate on the left, or liberal, end of the political spectrum. What these people are most upset about is the notion that the U.S. military is clearly headed toward "perpetual war" all over the Gap, which in their minds will only make things worse there. They advocate a sort of Hippocratic, "do no harm" approach that readily admits that the Core is largely to blame for the Gap's continuing misery and therefore should rescue those in pain, bu do so primarily through state-based foreign aid and private charities. The "do no harm" aspect refers to their strong desire to see America bring its military forces back home and stop all these military interventions overseas, the underlying assumption being that fewer military interventions on our part would actually improve the international security situation by not scaring our allies so.

The second basic approach is simply to say, "That's the way things are" and to blame the Gap for its own problems. These responses came more from the right or conservative end of the political spectrum. These writers' basic point is that the Gap is not America's problem and that if we make it so, we will eventually end up running some "empire" that will corrupt both our souls and our political system... the more mainstream response from the right focuses on the notion that shrinking the Gap is simply too big a problem for the United States to take on-militarily or otherwise. Instead, they bluntly advocate a sort of civilizational apartheid that strikes me as a mirror image of what I believe many violent anti globalization forces would also prefer-including Osama bin Laden. Rather than fix the Gap, these respondents prefer segregation. The most common way this gets expressed is the idea that if America would only end its dependence on foreign oil, illegal narcotics, and cheap immigrant labor, we could just build a big fence around this nasty neighborhood called the Gap and not have to deal with it anymore. People who advocate this twenty-first-century form of isolationism do not argue so much for pulling our military forces home as positioning them around the Gap as a sort of global border patrol, making sure the bad stuff stays in the Gap...

Then there are those who have written in agreement. These respondents see both a moral culpability on the part of the Core and a moral responsibility on the part of the sole surviving super-power, the United States, to shrink the Gap by all means possible-including the use of force in the worst situations. This moderate middle views the Gaps plight more pragmatically, citing the history of past colonialism by Core states in terms of both the good and bad legacies, the right and wrong lessons to be drawn, and their underlying optimism that America-always the reluctant imperialist-would do better than those European powers had in centuries past. The only morality these moderates touched upon was the immorality of doing nothing.

...Like the Cold War containment theorists, I believe it is essential that we be honest with ourselves about the world we live in, and to me, that means-first and foremost-that we identify the sources of mass violence in the system and work to progressively shrink those sources... "shrinking the gap" as a strategic vision is not about making amends for the past. Instead, it is a practical strategy for dealing with the present danger that will-on regular occasion, I believe-reach into our good life and cause us much pain if we continue to ignore it. But more than just looking out for ourselves, shrinking the Gap is a strategy that also speaks to a better future for that roughly one-third of humanity that continues to live and die in the Gap.

- Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett, The Pentagon's New Map, p 159.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

The rainbow bridge to Asgard.

The best I could do while driving with a camera phone.

The colors of the rainbow prism can still be clearly seen through the hazy lens of a smoggy overcast morning.

al Qaeda's Global Campaign in Iraq

General David Petraeus, during a press conference this week:

Iraq is in fact the central front of al Qaeda's global campaign, and we devote considerable resources to the fight against al Qaeda Iraq. We have achieved some notable successes in the past few months: Killing the security emir of eastern Anbar province, detaining a number of key network leaders, discovering how various elements of how al Qaeda Iraq operate, taking apart a car bomb network that had killed 650 citizens of Baghdad, and destroying several significant car bomb factories. Nonetheless, al Qaeda Iraq remains a formidable foe with considerable resilience and the capability to produce horrific attacks, but a group whose ideology and methods have increasingly alienated many in Iraq. This group's activities must be significantly disrupted at the least for the new Iraq to succeed, and it has been heartening to see Sunni Arabs in Anbar province and several other areas turning against al Qaeda and joining the Iraqi security forces to fight against it - that has been a very significant development.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

email to NPR Ombudsman

I am a daily NPR listener, and I admire the quality programming and reporting for the most part. However, NPR Baghdad Bureau Chief Jamie Tarabay's performance on Bill Maher's 'Real Time' was disappointing to say the least.

In particular, I take issue with Ms. Tarabay's response to Bill Maher's assertion that anyone who has been to Iraq knows that the war is lost. Ms. Tarabay agreed with Maher, and added: "Because we're not giving a clear enough picture."

Her agreement with Maher not only is a poor reflection of NPR, but it is inaccurate, dishonest, and flies in the face of a multitude of sources.

Tarabay seems to have not done her homework. She must not have read Max Boot, or recently listened to CNN's Michael Ware, heard Fred Kagan speak, or even NY Times Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns on this issue, and how the war is NOT lost, and how it would be a disaster if we would pull out.

Furthermore, her admission that the press is not doing a good enough job getting the word out on how bad the war is - tacitly implies she is not doing a good job for one, and secondly runs contradictory to the majority of stories I hear on NPR criticizing the war and emphasizing the deaths and negative events.

I would hope this is at least brought to someone's attention, as I feel that a public media organization such as NPR has the duty to present an honest, nonpartisan image of itself. Furthermore, it should strive to appear competent.

Ms. Tarabay's comments were ill-informed and embarrassing.

Thank you

Flat Out Lying about Iraq

...It's hard to tell - ignorance, stupidity, malicious deception, or all three? There was so much trash and ineptitude bandied about on the April 27th airing of Bill Maher's show, it's hard to tell.

Lisa Schiffern (The lone conservative who, unfortunately, performed weakly and meekly): All hell will break loose when we leave, one way or the other.

Maher: But how do we know that for a fact?

How do we know that for a fact? Can Maher's assertion that a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq will lessen the violence even be dignified with a response?

Even more unbelievable, NPR's Baghdad Bureau Chief, Jamie Tarabay, was moved to defend Harry Reid's "Iraq is lost" comment. (It should be noted that virtually all Democrats have distanced themselves from his remarks).

Jamie Tarabay: I think acknowledging that it is failing gives everyone the opportunity to say 'How can we fix it?'

It is also worth mentioning this ridiculous comment by actor Richard Belzer, as he sat back smugly, arms crossed:

Now the Democrats are stealthily working with Republicans to take all the oil from Iraq and give like a little bit to the Iraqi people. So this is an oil war.

Thank you, Mr. Belzer. But then comes the bombshell from Maher:

Everybody who comes on this show, or I listen to, or I read, who actually has been to Iraq, and I'm not going to pretend I've ever been anywhere near it, and I'm not giong to go - But they can't all be just liberal doves, Bush haters. It seems like the people, like Jamie, who have the experience of actually being on the ground, come away saying ' Oh my god, this is over! Too far gone!' And I don't know why the people who haven't been there don't listen to the people who have been there.

Tarabay: Because we're not giving a clear enough picture.

Firstly, Maher's opinion is completely ungrounded in reality. People who have the experience of being on the ground come away saying 'it's over?' That is factually inaccurate and on true. There are plenty, plenty of qualified individuals who have been on the ground, Liberals, conservatives, the press, and intellectuals, that flatly contradict Maher's casuistry, and Tarabay's resulting ignorance. Taraby's agreement is worse, because she is a journalist, she should know what she is talking about. What galls me the most about Tarabay's comments is her insinuation that the press is "not giving a clear enough picture" about how bad it is on the ground. As a daily NPR listener, I can tell you that 98% of the stories on Iraq focus on the multitude of deaths, or on the sad state of military families at home waiting for their loved ones to return. In fact, only one report by Tom Bowman two months ago, describing the improvement of the situation in Anbar province comes to mind as a positive story about Iraq.

People who have been on the ground know that the war is over, huh?... What about Max Boot? Or this by Max Boot as well? Or CNN's Kyra Phillips and Michael Ware? Or Fred Kagan? Or New York Times Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns? Or General Petraeus? Or Fouad Ajami? Or the troops?

NPR's Baghdad Bureau Chief should also pay attention to the news, and what other people are saying, not simply what she perceives to be the truth. I did not watch Maher's show to actually learn something, but I was hoping to at least be entertained, which he on occasion is capable of. Little did I expect to be confronted with a level of unspeakable, farcical reductionism and dissembling.

Global Warming Celebrity Hypocrites

McCain the weak and inarticulate

This Daily Show segment exemplifies why John McCain will not be elected president. If he cannot hold up in a debate with Jon Stewart, how will he fare against a Democratic candidate?

Stewart: Here's the thing that I'm trying to say. When they attack people who disagree with their policy, they attack them in that they don't understand that there's a real threat out there. I'm saying to you, the American people... they know there's a real threat out there, they felt like Iraq lessened our ability to lessen that threat... they're trying to follow us home anyway!

McCain: The war was terribly mismanaged. Look, we are where we are now. Can we give this strategy a chance?

How utterly weak, McCain's retort. For one, he seems to agree with Stewart, blames the administration, and then blithely says "we are where we are now," (which he will repeat MANY times throughout the interview).

Stewart: If the architects that built the house without any doors or windows don't admit that that's the house they built, can continue to say that 'no, it's your fault for not being able to see into it...'

McCain: I was the most severe critic of that architect.

Again, essentially vindicating Stewart's argument, but supplying no serious rebuttal or intellectual alternative argument. How about: President Bush has admitted the mistakes the administratin made, he had a press conference with Tony Blair in fact. That's just one possible reply, but there are many others.

Stewart: They say that asking for a timetable or criticizing the president is not supporting the troops - explain to me why that is supporting the troops less than extending their tours of duty from 12 to 15 months, putting them in stop loss, and not having Walter Reed up to snuff.

McCain: All I can say is that if you talk to these young men and women who are fighting, they'll tell you they think it's a worthwhile cause, and that they're fighting for freedom (boos)

That's all he can say? How about: 1) Who is 'they?' 2) The criticism among the right is not nearly as much about how Democrats are not supporting the troops. The criticism of the timetable is two fold - Firstly, that it will signal to the enemy our intent to leave, and when we plan to leave. Secondly, there is virtually no precedent for the Congress to attempt to manage a war itself, overruling the Generals, and the President (Commander in Chief).

Stewart: What's less supportive to the good people who believe they're fighting a great cause, is to not give them a strategy that makes their success possible. Adding 10,000 people to quell Baghdad - adding 350,000, and maybe you'll have a shot.

McCain: (Once again) We are where we are.

Here, McCain does not even point out Stewart's inaccurate description of the troop surge as '10,000.' The surge will eventually yield two to three times that number. Furthermore, McCain did not even call out Stewart on the fact that of course Stewart and the Democrats would not support 350,000 troops, nor would it be logical. Is Stewart a General? How does he know the number of troops it will take to quell the violence?

If John McCain somehow manages to win the Republican nomination, it will not be due to his efforts. If he wins the nomination, he will be carried by the weakness of his opponents, by the idea of John McCain, and by his biography. But he won't win the nomination.

Friday, April 27, 2007

An Appeal to Hope for Iraq

While most Democrats, and some Republicans, don't have the audacity to hope for success in Iraq, others take up that mantle.

Max Boot: An Iraq success story

There is no doubt that U.S. forces face an agonizingly difficult task in Iraq. The bombings that killed nearly 200 people in Baghdad last week make clear how hard the challenge is. But as Gen. David Petraeus said on taking command in February, "Hard is not hopeless." The experience of Ramadi — which has gone from being one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq to one of the safest — provides a glimmer of hope.

Re-taking Ramadi

Iraqi forces have begun to participate effectively in coalition operations, and nowhere more so than in Ramadi. Key to the success of this undertaking has been the recent decision by most of the major Al Anbar tribes to turn against Al Qaeda and its indiscriminate reign of terror.

The Numbers

Ramadi is not an isolated example. There is progress across Al Anbar province. According to coalition briefings, attacks in the province are at a two-year low. Tips to coalition forces are soaring. U.S. troops used to find only 50% of IEDs. Now they are defusing 80% before they detonate. (Al Qaeda in Iraq has responded with chlorine gas bombs. In other words, using chemical weapons against Sunni civilians — not a tactic likely to win over the populace.)

'Independent' Democrat Joe Lieberman also expounded on the many reasons we should hope and fight for success. The signs are there:

What is needed in Iraq policy is not overheated rhetoric but a sober assessment of the progress we have made and the challenges we still face.

In the two months since Petraeus took command, the United States and its Iraqi allies have made encouraging progress on two problems that once seemed intractable: tamping down the Shiite-led sectarian violence that paralyzed Baghdad until recently and consolidating support from Iraqi Sunnis -- particularly in Anbar, a province dismissed just a few months ago as hopelessly mired in insurgency.

No reprisals

Even as the American political center falters, the Iraqi political center is holding. In the aftermath of last week's attacks, there were no large-scale reprisals by Shiite militias -- as undoubtedly would have occurred last year. Despite the violence, Iraq's leadership continues to make slow but visible progress toward compromise and reconciliation.

Lieberman concludes

To me, there is only one choice that protects America's security -- and that is to stand, and fight, and win.

As if this was not enough, American soldiers now fighting in Iraq are writing to bloggers in defense of the war, explicitly rejecting Senator Harry Reid's harsh rhetoric that "The war is lost":

Marine Corporal From A Bunker In Ramadi: “I Got A Message For That Douche Harry Reid”

yeah news worth reporting…. well ramadi was once dubbed by everyone as the worst city in the world. but we have done such a great job here that all the families in the area have worked with us on driving out the insurgency and that we work directly with the IA and the IP’s. the city has been cleaned up so well that the IP’s do most of the patrols now and we go out with them to hand out candy and toys to the children. you can tell that the people want us here to protect them from the thugs and gangs (insurgents). granted they would rather have peace and quit but they know that if we arent here they will be thrown around by the insurgents. a good example is this one mission we did. long story short we got blown up in multiple buildings and had to run into a families house. i spent my christmas holidays covered in ash from the mortar fire and the IED’s, sleeping under a dirty rug i found in the house. everyone was sleeping way to close for comfort just to stay warm. anyways. a family was there and they obviously didnt want us there. at least at first. the daughters were very sick so our corpsman treated them. they didnt have electricity so we got them a generator for power, they were cold so we got them gas heaters, we got them food and water and then we gave them $500. by the end of the week long visit with them we were drinking tea with them. when we left we cleaned their house better than it was when we got there. i even have pictures with the family. they told us that they liked marines and they would help us as much as they could and they gave us some information on the insurgents in the area. we ended up catching a HUGE target down the road from there house because of it.

yeah and i got a qoute for that douche harry reid. these families need us here. obviously he has never been in iraq. or at least the area worth seeing. the parts where insurgency is rampant and the buildings are blown to pieces. we need to stay here and help rebuild. if iraq didnt want us here then why do we have IP’s voluntering everyday to rebuild their cities. and working directly with us too. same with the IA’s. it sucks that iraqi’s have more patriotism for a country that has turned to complete shit more than the people in america who drink starbucks everyday. we could leave this place and say we are sorry to the terrorists. and then we could wait for 3,000 more american civilians to die before we say “hey thats not nice” again. and the sad thing is after we WIN this war. people like him will say he was there for us the whole time.and for messages back home. i have a wife back home who is going through a tough time. i just cant wait to be back home and see everyone. haha and i cant wait to go back home and get some starbucks. i love it when those people serve me. hahaha”

It's damning that a sitting Senator, a majority leader of the United States Senate, can evoke such a visceral reaction from an American Marine, who has taken the time out of his duties to express his disgust with Washington politics.

Charles Krauthammer sums up the contradiction in terms

By the day, the debate at home about Iraq becomes increasingly disconnected from the realities of the actual war on the ground. The Democrats in Congress are so consumed with negotiating among their factions the most clever linguistic device to legislatively ensure the failure of the administration's current military strategy -- while not appearing to do so -- that they speak almost not at all about the first visible results of that strategy.


...where was the mandate for withdrawal? Almost no Democratic candidates campaigned on that. They campaigned for changing the course the administration was on last November.

And why do the Democrats lead the charge against the war in Iraq? What accounts for their obstinacy? Is it because their base despises this war? Are Democrats taking a principled stance? Perhaps. Unlikely, though. What is more likely is this - The more Democrats legislate and obfuscate against the war, the more they are able to avoid the spotlight shine on their own actions, or lack thereof. As only ABC noted on the Democrats' first 100 days in office, the Democrats failed to even pass their 'Six for '06' campaign pledge. The more the Democrats spend valuable legislative time investigating the administration's legal, albeit irresponsible hiring and firing practices, the more the Democrats hold hearings on CIA cases that have already been closed, the less time they are spending on real issue, the less time they have to take solid, principled stands on issues. Investigations and hearings provide them with press coverage and a smokescreen for their own failings. The Republicans were guilty of the same calumny during the final years of the Clinton administration.

It is a sad practice in Washington, these accusatory hearings; they waste time, money and resources, they don't solve our problems, and they drag peoples' names in the mud. In the midst of a war, it is almost criminal to spend even a single day in the United States Congress about questions and issues tantamount to gossip - when there are thousands upon thousands of fanatics overseas and perhaps at home who are ready, willing and able to do us harm.

Democrats have found time for hearings, they have found time to be briefed by Al Gore on global warming, but could not find the time to meet with General Petraeus for an update on Iraq. Something is wrong here. Something stinks. Republicans may have broken their lofty "reform" goals of the 1990's, Republicans may have began these disastrous hearings, but it brings me no solace to have found the Democrats have picked up right where Republicans have left off.

Congressmen and women are not elected to act out show trials in front of the cameras, we are not talking about the McCarthy hearings here, we are not talking about a reckless Federal agency suspending habeus corpus, illegally imprisoning innocent Americans. We are talking about Washington gossip, settling scores, and petty, trifle politicking of the most venal kind.

It's shameful.

Finally, I will finish with a quote from Michael O'Hanlon, who warns of the real issue at hand. That if we leave Iraq:

[I] think [the consequences] would probably be…the civil war getting anywhere from two to ten times worse in terms of the rate of killing. I think ultimately, the Sunni Arabs would be mostly defeated, and they would essentially be ghettoized in the western part of their country without much oil, very angry at the world, and therefore even more likely to collaborate with al Qaeda... I’m not saying that it would destabilize the entire Persian Gulf, but there would be some chance of a regional war, and a very high chance of genocide inside Iraq.

Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates

By Christopher Hitchens

How many know that perhaps 1.5 million Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic North Africa between 1530 and 1780? We dimly recall that Miguel de Cervantes was briefly in the galleys. But what of the people of the town of Baltimore in Ireland, all carried off by “corsair” raiders in a single night?

Very good reading.

Hitchens on the definition of al Qaeda and Islamic Terrorism

Christopher Hitchens the verbose, the technical, the precise:

Now put the case of al Qaeda. Its supporters do not live under a foreign occupation, even if you count the apparently useless and now embarrassing American bases in Saudi Arabia. It is partly a corrupt multinational corporation, partly a crime family, partly a surrogate for the Saudi oligarchy and the Pakistani secret police, partly a sectarian religious cult, and partly a fascist organization. One of its taped proclamations, whether uttered by its leader or not, denounces Australia and celebrates the murder of Australians - for the crime of assisting East Timorese independence from "Muslim" Indonesia! But this doesn't begin to make the case against bin Ladenism. What does it demand from non-Muslim societies? It demands that they acknowledge their loathsome blasphemy and realize their own fitness for destruction. What does it demand for Muslim societies? It demands that they adopt seventh-century norms of clerical absolutism. How does it demand this? By a program of indiscriminate attacks on the civilian population of both. (Yes, both: The Afghan population was reduced by as many Hazara Shiites as the Taliban could manage to kill.) This is to demand the impossible, and to demand it by means of the most ruthless and disgusting tactics. - p. 25, A Long Short War

This is not the sort of group that should be left the spoils of a restless and chaotic Iraq to further plunder its riches, maim its citizens, and rape any and all vestiges of humanity and decency.

A Bad Day to be a Terrorist

No progress, eh?

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon announced Friday the capture of one of al Qaida's most senior and most experienced operatives, an Iraqi who was trying to return to his native country when he was captured.

US forces on Friday detained four members of a gang suspected of smuggling armour-piercing bombs from Iran to Iraq and sending back militants for "terroristtraining", the military said.

Even the Saudi's chipped in:

Police arrested 172 Islamic militants, some of whom had trained abroad as pilots so they could fly aircraft in attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil fields, the Interior Ministry said Friday. A spokesman said all that remained in the plot “was to set the zero hour.”

Not bad for a day's work.

This Is Why We Fight

Jawa Report:

On the day of the killing, the young Muslim men had arranged to meet the Christians at 10:00 am to ostensibly learn more about the Bible.....

They arrived, and reportedly, after Necati read a chapter from the Bible the assault began. The young men tied Ugur, Necati, and Tilman’s hands and feet to chairs as they videoed their work on their cellphones....

They were disemboweled, and their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed. Fingers were chopped off, their noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open. Possibly the worst part was watching as their brothers were likewise tortured. Tilman was stabbed 156 times, Necati 99 times and Ugur’s stabs were too numerous to count. Finally, their throats were sliced from ear to ear, heads practically decapitated.

This filth is going on in Turkey, a secular Muslim country considered to be one of the most civilized and politically advanced in the Middle East. Imagine the potential for reckless, despicable violence that would run rampant in Iraq if the U.S. were to pull out now. The gift of withdrawal would only embolden these masochistic terrorists to act with impunity.

Telegram to the Taliban and al Qaeda

In recent days, many have criticized Harry Reid's "Iraq is lost" comments, including some Democrats, who have sought to distance themselves from Reid's remarks. David S. Broder of the Washington Post, described Reid as The Democrats' Gonzales:

As if that were not mind-boggling enough, consider the mental gyrations performed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as he rationalized the recent comment from his majority leader, Harry Reid, the leading light of Searchlight, Nev., that the war in Iraq "is lost."

On "Fox News Sunday," Schumer offered this clarification of Reid's off-the-cuff comment. "What Harry Reid is saying is that this war is lost -- in other words, a war where we mainly spend our time policing a civil war between Shiites and Sunnis. We are not going to solve that problem. . . . The war is not lost. And Harry Reid believes this -- we Democrats believe it. . . . So the bottom line is if the war continues on this path, if we continue to try to police and settle a civil war that's been going on for hundreds of years in Iraq, we can't win. But on the other hand, if we change the mission and have that mission focus on the more narrow goal of counter terrorism, we sure can win."

Everyone got that? This war is lost. But the war can be won. Not since Bill Clinton famously pondered the meaning of the word "is" has a Democratic leader confused things as much as Harry Reid did with his inept discussion of the alternatives in Iraq.

Reid the Name-Caller

He called President Bush " a loser," then apologized. He said that Bill Frist, then Senate majority leader, had "no institutional integrity" because Frist planned to leave the Senate to fulfill a term-limits pledge. Then he apologized to Frist.

Most of these earlier gaffes were personal, bespeaking a kind of displaced aggressiveness on the part of the onetime amateur boxer. But Reid's verbal wanderings on the war in Iraq are consequential -- not just for his party and the Senate but for the more important question of what happens to U.S. policy in that violent country and to the men and women whose lives are at stake.

Aside from the obvious critiques of the remarks by Reid the Ridiculous, The Politico has also noted that Dems fail to back Reid's 'Iraq war lost':

Several leading Democrats said this week that they did not agree with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's recent statement that "the war is lost" in Iraq, even while they support his broader message.

But they did agree that Reid's wording was clumsy and potentially damaging. Even the Nevada Democrat himself appeared to be backing away from his remark.

Potentially damaging? There are few certainties in politics, but one of them is that Americans will not vote for a weakling, just ask McGovern. However, delusional liberal blogs have come to Harry's aid. But, despite efforts by liberal blogs, which are at pains to depict Harry Reid as a strong, central figure with wide-support, [Politico Hit Piece on Reid over Iraq Misses the Real Story], the damage is done.

And what was Reid's defense of his reckless remarks?

"General Petreaus has said the war cannot be won militarily, he's said that," Reid said.
Well, that clears it up. It's interesting that Reid cited Petraeus in his own defense, and then went on to refuse to meet with Petraeus for a briefing on Iraq, and said he would not believe Petraeus if he told Reid progress was being made in Iraq.

"Madman, you're a madman!"

"Madness? This... is... Sparta!!!"

But I digress.

Hugh Hewitt did a fantastic job exploring the general ineptitude of the political left, its opportunists, and its soporific sophists... with the help guests Mark Steyn and Max Boot.

Hewitt: Generally, we are living in extraordinarily terrible times, and it looks as though a lot of our political class doesn't know or will not pay attention in a serious way to it.

Steyn: Well, they are paying attention to it, and they're doing some truly terrible things for some of the worst possible reasons, for the most silly and trivial short term political opportunism. I know for example during recent decades there were many messy, unpleasant colonial struggles... for example the left wing of the British Labor party had no enthusiasm for, but they never did what the U.S. Congress has done, which is to attempt to cut the legs out of the executive in the middle of a war. It's well known, for example, that the British Labor party is basically sympathetic to the Irish nationalist movement, but they never attempted to set a deadline for British troop withdrawal from northern Ireland and impose it on the executive.

Hewitt: I had former Congressman Bob Schaffer on the program, he had just come back from Afghanistan. He was carrying with him a recent edition of the only English daily in Kabul, the 'Daily Outlook' in Afghanistan, and there above the fold in large caps was the headline "Iraq War Lost Says Leader of Democrats." It was like a telegram to the Taliban.

Steyn: They have a very ambitious agenda, and simply put if you're like those Taliban guys and you're looking at the English language newspaper in Kabul, it makes sense - it seems achievable. When you watch Harry Reid on CNN International... it seems within your grasp.
On hypocrisy

Steyn: They're the side, the left is the side who claim to be the big international progressive-ists, who say 'we are the world,' and 'the guy born in the rice patty on the other side of the world, he's just the same as me,' well they're the ones who let millions of those people in those rice patties die from their blinkered parochial stupidity in the early 1970's.

Max Boot is just as blunt, yet more concise:
I don't think the war is lost by any stretch of the imagination...

Hewitt: Now, Max Boot, this week I've talked to Lawrence Wright, Fred Kagan, Melanie Philipson... a lot of people who understand the war both in Iraq and globally, and what they say, and what you say and what you write just doesn't add up with what Harry Reid has said... do the Democrats not understand this war, or are they putting politics ahead of it?

Boot: You know, that's a very good question - it's just so incredibly irresponsible for the majority leader of the United States Senate to make a proclamation like that - and it makes you think - if we've lost the war, who's won it? Is he saying al Qaeda has won this war?

Boot continues: I think that there is this very naive attitude that we can pull out of Iraq, it won't be a big deal, and then we can concentrate our resources on the real fight - in Afghanistan! Ignoring the fact that Iraq right now is the front line of the struggle against al Qaeda, and if we give up there, it will be a tremendous boost to al Qaeda, similar to defeating the Red Army in Afghanistan. And they're not going to be content with fighting us in Iraq, they 're going to go fight us in Afghanistan, and the situation there will deteriorate, and then they'll fight us elsewhere around the world, and we would have to grapple with that.

I can't say it any better than that.

New Military Toys; the Good and Bad

After spending 15 years on R & D, the Pentagon is outfitting soldiers for a high-tech battlefield network designed to cut through the fog of war. Popular Mechanics tests out the high-tech package and discovers why America's wireless warriors think it will slow them down in Iraq.

But as Alpha kicks in doors, rounds up terror suspects and peals off automatic fire in deafening six-shot bursts, not one of the soldiers bothers to check his radio or look into the eyepiece to find his buddies on the electronic maps. "It's just a bunch of stuff we don't use, taking the place of useful stuff like guns," says Sgt. James Young, who leads a team of four M-240 machine-gunners perched on a balcony during this training exercise at Fort Lewis, Wash. "It makes you a slower, heavier target."

Does every soldier need to be wired?

But on the eve of what should be the program's biggest success, support for Land Warrior is crumbling. In the halls of the Pentagon there's a pitched battle being waged over Land Warrior's long-term budget and its long-term future. Army program managers are questioning Land Warrior's most basic premise: Does every soldier need to be wired?

Every rifleman a marksman

Mounted on the rifle and connected to the rest of the system is a digital sight that lets a soldier, in effect, see around corners; all he has to do is stick his gun out — not his neck. The sight also serves as a long-range zoom, with 12x magnification. "It makes every rifleman a marksman," says Col. Richard Hansen, Land Warrior's project manager. Night vision and laser targeting, which once required clunky binoculars or attachments to the weapon, are now built in.

But there's a catch

Land Warrior weighs a comparatively trim 16 pounds, in part because extra batteries are now kept in the soldiers' vehicles instead of on their backs. Per-soldier costs are down to about $30,000. But despite 15 years of work and nearly $500 million, the system still has bugs. And some of the gear seems outdated, even before it goes off to war. The 400-MHz processor running the system would have been bleeding-edge — in 1999.

Remember that 12x magnification?

I point the M-4 across the lot at a row of rental cars. I wait — and wait — for the enhanced gunsight to focus. It responds more like a cheap digital camera than an advanced piece of military gear. At this speed, the sight would be nearly useless in fast-moving urban combat.

However, there are other new military technologies that may hold more promise, especially when it comes to urban warfare - WIRED Magazine writes: Lasers Stop Snipers Before They Fire

Cops and soldiers now have the ability to pinpoint incoming sniper fire. The military's way-out research arm wants to take that a step further, by finding and "neutralizing" shooters before they ever pull their triggers.

The agency wants to have its sniper-detector "integrated" with its existing gunshot locator, the Crosshairs/Boomerang system.

What's the Boomerang?:

Boomerang uses a bundle of seven microphones, each facing a different direction, mounted on top of an 18-inch pole. When a bullet flies by, creating a shock wave, each microphone picks up the sound at a slightly different time. Those tiny differences allow the system to calculate where the shooter is. (Boomerang also listens for the blast from the gun's muzzle, which reaches the system just after the bullet's faster-than-sound flight.) Inside the Humvee, a recorded voice buzzes through a dashboard speaker, announcing the shooter's position -- ''Shot 10 o'clock! Shot 10 o'clock!'' -- and an analog clocklike display indicates the direction. Other information, like the shooter's G.P.S. coordinates, range and elevation, are also provided. ''We're now accurate way beyond 500 meters,'' says Dave Schmitt, Boomerang's program manager at BBN Technologies in Cambridge, Mass.

Coming to a battle near you.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Two Iraq Fables Exposed

Hot Air does a great job twice reporting on two stories out of Iraq which have been botched by the Mainstream Media. However, the stories have continued to unfold, and time does indeed bring truth:

Iran is undoubtedly meddling in Iraq, and killing Americans: Petraeus: “No question” that Karbala attackers were linked to Quds Force


U.S. Troops did not woefully slaughter civilians in Haditha: Haditha: Time for another “everything you know is wrong” Newsmax piece

Hot Air is picking up where the Mainstream Media has left off... and the omissions and lazy reporting among our supposed "media elite" are glaringly obvious, as these two stories point out.

Update: Flopping Aces also has a very thorough analysis of the Haditha story.

Global Warming Profiteers

Financial Times:

Companies and individuals rushing to go green have been spending millions on “carbon credit” projects that yield few if any environmental benefits.

A Financial Times investigation has uncovered widespread failings in the new markets for greenhouse gases, suggesting some organisations are paying for emissions reductions that do not take place.

Others are meanwhile making big profits from carbon trading for very small expenditure and in some cases for clean-ups that they would have made anyway.

Newsbusters asks: Will Media Report Global Warming 'Carbon Credit' Fraud?

Hot Air answer: No (Well, not really)

A Golden Age of Media

An excellent piece about the current state of the media; newspapers, television, the internet, and regulation. Some excerpts:

The Media Cornucopia, Adam D. Thierer

Some grumbled that TV and radio featured too much religious programming; others argued that there wasn’t enough. Everyone said that local radio broadcast nothing but garbage—but everyone defined garbage differently. And many aired long lists of complaints about the multiple radio stations, television channels, and newspapers in their areas, only to conclude that their local media markets were insufficiently competitive!

The critics did agree on one thing: government had to take steps to reverse our current media predicament—whatever it was. A variety of advocacy groups then took the FCC to court and got the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to put the whole media ownership revision on hold.

Most participants in the meetings fell into the scarcity-obsessed camp. On the face of it, the scarcity critics have a tough case to make. According to FCC data and various private reports, America boasts close to 14,000 radio stations today, double the number that existed in 1970. Satellite radio—an industry that didn’t even exist before 2001—claimed roughly 13 million subscribers nationwide by 2007. Eighty-six percent of households subscribe to cable or satellite TV today, receiving an average of 102 channels of the more than 500 available to them. There were 18,267 magazines produced in 2005, up from 14,302 in 1993. The only declining media sector is the newspaper business, which has seen circulation erode for many years now. But that’s largely a result of the competition that it faces from other outlets.

Throw the Internet into the mix and you get dizzy. The Internet Systems Consortium reports that the number of Internet host computers—computers or servers that allow people to post content on the Web—has grown from just 235 in 1982 to 1.3 million in 1993 to roughly 400 million in 2006. At the beginning of 2007, the blog-tracking service Technorati counted over 66 million blogs, with more than 175,000 new ones created daily. Bloggers update their sites “to the tune of over 1.6 million posts per day, or over 18 updates a second,” according to Technorati.

What media monopoly?

It’s all nonsense, starting with the notion that a tiny group has a stranglehold on the media. A 2002 FCC survey of ten media markets—from the largest (New York City) to the smallest (Altoona, Pennsylvania)—showed that each had more outlets and owners in 2000 than in 1960. And the FCC counted all of a market’s cable channels as a single outlet (even though the typical viewer would regard each channel as a distinct one) and didn’t include national newspapers or Internet sites as media sources, so the diversity picture was even brighter than it seemed.

Staying informed

Becoming an informed citizen has never been easier. You can get up in the morning and still read your (probably liberal) local paper and several national ones—say, the Wall Street Journal (right-of-center editorial page) and USA Today (more or less centrist). Walk to the newsstand and you’ve got political magazines galore, from the Marxist New Left Review to the paleoconservative The American Conservative. On cable and satellite television: CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, FOX News, PBS, local news, the big networks (at least for now), the BBC, C-SPAN, community access shows—all offer a wide variety of news and information options, some around the clock. Turn on the car radio and Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity booms out at you from the right; or maybe you can tune in to Sirius Left on satellite.

The Internet has done more to create the sort of media that scarcity critics claim to desire than any other technology. Every man, woman, and child can have a “newspaper” or broadcast outlet today—it’s called a website, blog, or podcast. It’s hard to imagine how the political blogosphere could be more diverse, ranging from the Daily Kos and the Huffington Post on the left to National Review Online and Power Line on the right to Andrew Sullivan, Instapundit, and Buzz Machine somewhere in between. A political junkie must hustle to keep up with what RealClearPolitics posts on its site every day.

New Media is making our democracy stronger

In truth, one can make a strong case that the new media—and the Internet, above all—are facilitating a more rigorous deliberative democracy and a richer sense of community. “In modern American political history, perhaps only the coming of the television age has had as big an impact on our national elections as the Internet has,” observes Raul Fernandez, chief executive of the software firm ObjectVideo. “But the effect of the Internet may be better for the long-term health of our democracy. For while TV emphasizes perception, control, and centralization, Internet-driven politics is about transparency, distribution of effort, and, most important, empowerment and participation—at whatever level of engagement the consumer wants.”

Speaking of censorship and worry that media monopolies will filter our news for us... Is Kucinich a Liberal, or a Fascist?

Dennis Kucinich has recently introduced plans in Congress to revive the Fairness Doctrine, which once let government regulators police the airwaves to ensure a balancing of viewpoints, however that’s defined.

Read newspapers, watch television news, listen to the radio, read blogs, write blogs, buy a magazine. If you're being swindled, you will know it. And if you are not bright enough to realize that you are being duped... then I doubt you would be reading this post in the first place.

CNN Knows Retreat Spells Disaster

I'm struck by the nature of the debate on Capitol Hill, how delusional it is. Whether you're for this war, or against it; whether you've supported the way it's been executed, or not; it doesn't matter. You've broke it, you've got to fix it now. You can't leave, or it's going to come and blow back on America. - Michael Ware, CNN correspondent

Courtesy, Newsbusters:

Kiran Chetry, CNN: Would all of us, all of the American troops pulling out, help the situation?

Kyra Phillips and Michael Ware: "Oh no! No way!"

Phillips: "It would be a disaster... there is no way U.S. troops could pull out. It would be a disaster."


"Even more than that, if you just wanted to look at it in terms of purely American national interest, if U.S. troops leave now, you're giving Iraq to Iran... and al Qaeda. That's who will own it. And so, coming back now, I'm struck by the nature of the debate on Capitol Hill, how delusional it is. Whether you're for this war, or against it; whether you've supported the way it's been executed, or not; it doesn't matter. You've broke it, you've got to fix it now. You can't leave, or it's going to come and blow back on America."

Harry Reid, your rebuttal?

Answers Harry Reid does not want to hear

Hugh Hewitt: Is the U.S. presence in Iraq manufacturing terrorists? ...or is it simply attracting them to the most obvious battlefield?

Frederick Kagan, co-architect of the surge, scholar, and writer for the Weekly Standard:

I know for sure that it is attracting them to the most obvious battlefield. Is it making more of them? I'm not sure. But if you take a look at the example of Afghanistan in the 1980's, there was a situation where the Soviet presence - was definitely manufacturing terrorists, and as long as the Soviets were there, they were fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. As soon as the soviets left, the terrorists didn't just go home and take up gardening. they left, they moved all around the world, and then they started attacking us - that's how we got al Qaeda. So the question really is, if we were to leave Iraq tomorrow, what would happen with these guys? And the answer for sure is that they would find other ways to attack and kill us elsewhere.

Kagan also said:

al Qaeda is surging against us and I think that's happening globally, and I think al Qaeda is funneling all of the resources it can into defeating us in Iraq, and it is funneling all of its resources in Iraq to creating spectacular attacks against us, and against innocent Iraqi civilians - both Sunni and Shi'a. And they're indiscriminate in their killing, this isn't really sectarian killing, this is just terrorism, plain and simple. And they are surging to try to break our will, and I hope to heaven that we won't let them.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Lawrence Wright: al Qaeda, Iraq and Islamic Terrorism

Lawrence Wright on the Hugh Hewitt Show:

Lawrence Wright: "There's al Qaeda in Iraq, which is really the heart and soul of al Qaeda right now. And that's where the main effort is. It's where the Jihadis are going to be trained, and when that conflict is over they will be returning to their own countries and into the west to cause additional havoc.

"And then there's al Qaeda in Europe, which is very widespread, loosely connected, centered largely in London, England, but also in the outskirts of Paris and Italy - all over Europe, really. And finally, there is the mother ship, which is located in Pakistan.

"Those... entities are loosely connected and but have a common cause and are still directed overall by bin Laden."

Hugh Hewitt: "The penetration of the book into some leadership circles is profound, and in other places, I still find myself amazed that leading public figures are not only unacquainted with it, but unacquainted generally nature of al Qaeda. Is that phenomenon still surprising to you, that our political leadership is still in the dark about the nature of our enemy?"

Lawrence Wright: "I get so discouraged about this. It's not just the political leadership, it's the intelligence community, which is supposed to know... you know, it's not a joke when the head of the counter terrorism division for the FBI testifies under oath that he doesn't know the difference between a Sunni and a Shi'ite."

Clean Nuclear

Courtesy Instapundit:

Energy officials argue for a new breed of reactors that run on recycled radioactive fuel

Later this year, scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee hope to take a big step toward solving America's nuclear-waste woes. Pending clearance from the Department of Energy, they will demonstrate a new toxic-waste recycling process.

The aim of the demo—part of a controversial $405-million government project called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)—is to transform nuclear leftovers into fuel for a new breed of reactors. The new reactor/fuel combo, GNEP officials say, could produce up to 100 times as much energy as conventional reactors and could generate 40 percent less waste. The initiative is a key part of the Bush administration's long-term strategy to meet America's rising demand for electricity—according to the DOE, it's expected to jump by 45 percent from 4,000 billion kilowatt-hours in 2005 to 5,800 billion kilowatt-hours in 2030—without creating more greenhouse gases. "Nuclear energy is the biggest source we have for meeting our energy needs without contributing to global warming," says Sherrell Greene, director of the nuclear-technology program at Oak Ridge.

Sounds promising.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

John Burns of the NYT on the surge

Courtesy Newsbusters:

Matt Lauer: By its very nature a surge is a temporary dynamic. What is the biggest factor in your opinion as to whether they can have success in the near term and the longer term?

NYT Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns: Well, the number of troops, that's fine. The amount of time they can stay, we think that's probably finite, too. And the calculations of the insurgents, who, as one military officer said to me, will always trade territory for time. That's to say, they will move out, they will wait. Because they know the political dynamic in the United States is moving in a direction that is probably going to be favorable to them.

We have already tipped our hand.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Iranian Clemency

It can be a heartwarming thing to hear tales of forgiveness and new beginnings. It can be. But not in this case: Iran Exonerates Six Who Killed in Islam’s Name

TEHRAN, April 18 — The Iranian Supreme Court has overturned the murder convictions of six members of a prestigious state militia who killed five people they considered “morally corrupt.”

The reversal, in an infamous five-year-old case from Kerman, in central Iran, has produced anger and controversy, with lawyers calling it corrupt and newspapers giving it prominence.

According to the Supreme Court’s earlier decision, the killers, who are members of the Basiji Force, volunteer vigilantes favored by the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, considered their victims morally corrupt and, according to Islamic teachings and Iran’s Islamic penal code, their blood could therefore be shed.

Hot Air also reports that: Thousands of Iraqi Shiites training for war in Iranian camp

But the sun may be setting on Iran (and Ahmadinejad's) brief tenure as reigning self-anointed speaker for the under-appreciated, misunderstood semi-failed states; theocracies and socialist pariahs one and all: The Iranian Parliament vs. Ahmadinejad, Round Two

Worse for the demonizing Iranian Mullahs, the US urges Iran to join Iraq talks. Look at who is trying to promote a multilateral effort in the region? Fancy that. Lastly, to add insult to injury, an olive branch from the dreaded... <gasp> Jews! - Israeli Prime Minister Olmert Says Nuclear Standoff With Iran Can Still Be Ended Peacefully.

The west should have put the Iranians on the defensive about their bellicose posturing in this way a long time ago. Amid placating offers for consultation and somewhat conciliatory words, how will Iran respond?

No doubt, the mullahs will seek a way to sharpen the exchange and promote further instability. Iran thrives in the region while instability reigns; it provides more cover, and keeps its enemies busy. However, once Ahmadinejad is forced to the table - can he sit still and play nice?

It is unlikely that he will come to negotiate himself. However, it should be noted that the U.S. (and the dreaded Israelis) are opening a dialogue - albeit, not to be confused with diplomatic recognition. Regardless - the Iranians will parley - and if and when they fail, pull out, or sabotage talks - the world will excuse them.

"A quiet corner of Parliament House"

John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia:

Why our troops must stay [excerpts]

In one sense, this quiet corner of Parliament House is a long way from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In another sense, it helps bring into focus much of what is at stake.

A hallmark of our free society is the ability to debate issues forcefully and to resolve inevitable differences peacefully. Our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan see this as a sign of weakness. We know it is our greatest strength.

A tough road still lies ahead

I am not asking Australians to discount the enormous difficulties in Iraq or to change their views about the original decision. I am asking them to consider the situation we now face and the stakes involved.

What Iraq and her people need now is time, not a timetable. They seek our patience, not political positioning. They require our resolve, not our retreat.

The Long War

The long war against violent Islamic extremism goes on. It is a very different kind of war – a war without borders and with no clear frontlines; a war fought as much by our ideas and values as by our armies.

Terrorist cells are active today in between 30 and 40 countries plotting action based on a warped interpretation of Islam. Attacks have been planned in Australia.

Nor should we forget the essential lessons of 11 September 2001 – that failed states can quickly become havens and projecting grounds for global terror; and that terrorists can turn our openness and technological achievements against us to devastating strategic effect.

Patriots and Internationalists

There are about 3,300 Australian Defence Force personnel on operations overseas or undertaking security tasks in our maritime protection zone. They advance our nation's interests and ideals with great courage.

I regard them as our finest patriots and our finest internationalists.

Roughly 2000 Australians are part of operations today in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Afghanistan, our largest contingent – the Reconstruction Task Force in Oruzgan Province which I visited last week – is working in partnership with the Dutch on the reconstruction and improvement of infrastructure. It has made excellent progress rebuilding schools, roads and bridges and training the local population to ensure the benefits remain into the future.

No Timetable for withdrawal

For the record, let me state clearly why I believe a timetable for premature withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq would invite disastrous strategic and humanitarian consequences.

First, it would undercut the forces of moderation in Iraq at the precise moment when they have a chance – perhaps the last chance – to stabilise their country. Sectarian violence would escalate, with the Sunnis abandoning the unity government and parliament.

Second, it would lead to more widespread and extreme human rights abuses, more internally displaced Iraqi civilians and further outflow of refugees to neighbouring states.

Third, a precipitate withdrawal would give a green light to those looking to make Iraq a platform for global terror. With Al Qaeda and other extremists claiming withdrawal as a victory, this would likely inspire more terrorism outside Iraq, including in South East Asia.

Iraq is undeniably a frontline in the fight against international terrorism. The terrorists view it as such.

Fourth, it would further destabilise what is already the world's most unstable region, perhaps igniting a wider war in the Middle East. Any prospect of resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict would lie in tatters.

And fifth, it would be a crushing blow to America's global leadership, emboldening those who, like Osama Bin Laden, have argued all along that America is a "weak horse" on which no one should depend.

Security first

We recognise that in Iraq as well as in Afghanistan political progress and security are inextricably linked.

Labor seems to believe that Iraq can achieve reconciliation without security – essentially, that if the coalition leaves the Iraqis will sort out their differences.

Let's be clear. Labor supports setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq irrespective of the situation on the ground. It would pull out Australia's combat forces as soon as it can. And it opposes stepping up our effort to train the Iraqi Army – even though the Iraqi government, the US government, Tony Blair and the Baker-Hamilton report all agree that training is a critical priority.

Our position could not be more sharply different.

We believe that restoring security in Iraq is critical to creating the space and time Iraqis need to find a lasting political solution. This means that we are opposed to a precipitate withdrawal. It means we are opposed to setting timetables for withdrawal.

And it means we strongly support training – which is why the government has decided to step up our training effort.

We will be able to leave Iraq. But we cannot do so responsibly until we have some confidence that the Iraqi security forces are in a position to defend Iraq's democratically-elected government and the Iraqi people, whether from terrorists, insurgents or sectarian strife.

There might be few good alternatives in Iraq. But that does not absolve those of us in positions of political responsibility from facing up to the alternatives that exist.

The right thing to do

The question to be confronted now is this: what do we do to maximise the chances of future stability in Iraq?

That means supporting the Iraqis and our coalition partners in their security operations and continuing to strengthen the capacity of Iraq's security forces. Then, as Iraq moves forward, we can draw back.

I believe this course is in Australia's long-term national interest. And it happens to be the right thing to do.

Britain's Channel 4: The Great Global Warming Swindle

Courtesy Powerline Blog: "Each day the news reports grow more fantastically apocalyptic. Politicians no longer dare to express any doubt about climate change."

"There i s such intolerance of a dissenting voice."

"Global warming... is a new kind of morality."

"It is presented in the media of having the stamp of authority of an impressive international organization: The United Nations International Panel on Climate Change."

"The final conclusions are politically driven."

"Many of them disagree."

"This is the story of how a theory about climate turned into a political ideology."

"I don't even like to call it the environmental movement anymore, because really, it is a political activist movement."

"It is the story of a distortion of a whole area of science."

"We have a vested interest in creating panic, because then money will flow to climate science."

"It's become a great industry in itself."

"The environmental movement has evolved into the strongest force there is for preventing development in developing countries."

"It's become like a religion. People who disagree are [known as] heretics."

"The climate has always changed, and changed without any help from us humans."

"Humans are not the main source of CO2. Humans produce a small fraction in the single digits percentage-wise of the CO2 that is produced in the atmosphere. Volcanoes produce more CO2 each year than all the cars, factories and planes put together. More still comes from animals and bacteria, which produce about 150 gigatons each year, compared to a mere six and a half gigatons from humans... but the biggest source of CO2 by far is the oceans."

"The current warming began long before people had cars or electric lights. In the past 150 years, the temperature has risen just over half a degree Celsius. But most of that rise occurred before 1940. Since that time, the temperature has fallen for four decades, and risen for three."

"But if CO2 isn't driving climate, then what is?"

"Isn't it bizarre to think that its humans, you know, when we're filling up our car, turning on our lights, that we're the ones controlling climate - just look in the sky - look at that massive thing, the sun. Even humans at our present 6.5 billion, are minute relative to that.

"There is a bias - there is a very powerful bias within the media, within the science media itself - toward results that are dramatizeable.

"You've got a whole new generation of reporters... environmental journalists, and if you're an environmental journalist, and if the global warming story goes in the trash can - so does your job."


Inconvenient Truth or Fiction?

Courtesy Powerline:

An Inconvenient Truth, or Fiction? Steven F. Hayward of the Pacific Research Institute and AEI explores and debates the issues raised in former Vice-President Al Gore's documentary.

Terror Warning for Britain


AL-QAEDA leaders in Iraq are planning the first “large-scale” terrorist attacks on Britain and other western targets with the help of supporters in Iran, according to a leaked intelligence report.

Spy chiefs warn that one operative had said he was planning an attack on “a par with Hiroshima and Nagasaki” in an attempt to “shake the Roman throne”, a reference to the West.

Another plot could be timed to coincide with Tony Blair stepping down as prime minister, an event described by Al-Qaeda planners as a “change in the head of the company”.

The report, produced earlier this month and seen by The Sunday Times, appears to provide evidence that Al-Qaeda is active in Iran and has ambitions far beyond the improvised attacks it has been waging against British and American soldiers in Iraq.

The authors of the report:

The report was compiled by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) - based at MI5’s London headquarters - and provides a quarterly review of the international terror threat to Britain. It draws a distinction between Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda’s core leadership, who are thought to be hiding on the Afghan-Pakistan border, and affiliated organisations elsewhere.

It is no surprise that Britain is a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism. However, a second large-scale terrorist attack in Britain, timed with the ascension of a new Prime Minister, would present stark new choices for the direction of the country, and that of its allies in America and Europe with regard to the war on terror.

Iraq: Who is paying attention to Progress?

While Democrats are skipping briefings on Iraq by General Petraeus:

The commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, returns to Washington this week, but last week Pelosi’s office said “scheduling conflicts” prevented him from briefing House members. Two days later, the members-only meeting was scheduled, but the episode brings to mind the fact that Pelosi and other top House Democrats skipped a Pentagon videoconference with Petraeus on March 8.

...others have taken great care to document successful missions by U.S. and British troops. Michael Yon is one such chronicler, the below is an excerpt from an excellent account he gave while attached to a British unit in southern Iraq:

As the firing began to wane, the day’s heat began to fade along with it. Dust wafted thick on the cooling air. The soldiers were still sweating when a light rain began to fall. Iraqi dust polluted the pure rain as it fell, forming mud drops that splattered onto man and machine. In an operation that lasted over four hours, British forces killed 26-27 enemy and sustained no casualties. 5 Platoon fired more than 4,000 bullets before their guns began to cool, and about 15 of the enemy kills were accredited to 5 Platoon. Another platoon captured two enemy fighters, including one Iraqi policeman who might have been heeding al Sadr’s call for Iraqi Police and Army forces to turn on their Coalition partners.

His words ring with truth and clarity.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The U.S. Army is Going Green

Friedman makes some good points here.

The Power of Green [Excerpt]

The notion that conserving energy is a geostrategic imperative has also moved into the Pentagon, for slightly different reasons. Generals are realizing that the more energy they save in the heat of battle, the more power they can project. The Pentagon has been looking to improve its energy efficiency for several years now to save money. But the Iraq war has given birth to a new movement in the U.S. military: the ''Green Hawks.''

As Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, who has been working with the Pentagon, put it to me: The Iraq war forced the U.S. military to think much more seriously about how to ''eat its tail'' -- to shorten its energy supply lines by becoming more energy efficient. According to Dan Nolan, who oversees energy projects for the U.S. Army's Rapid Equipping Force, it started last year when a Marine major general in Anbar Province told the Pentagon he wanted better-insulated, more energy-efficient tents in the Iraqi desert. Why? His air-conditioners were being run off mobile generators, and the generators ran on diesel, and the diesel had to be trucked in, and the insurgents were blowing up the trucks.

''When we began the analysis of his request, it was really about the fact that his soldiers were being attacked on the roads bringing fuel and water,'' Nolan said. So eating their tail meant ''taking those things that are brought into the unit and trying to generate them on-site.'' To that end Nolan's team is now experimenting with everything from new kinds of tents that need 40 percent less air-conditioning to new kinds of fuel cells that produce water as a byproduct. Pay attention: When the U.S. Army desegregated, the country really desegregated; when the Army goes green, the country could really go green.

''Energy independence is a national security issue,'' Nolan said. ''It's the right business for us to be in. ... We are not trying to change the whole Army. Our job is to focus on that battalion out there and give those commanders the technological innovations they need to deal with today's mission. But when they start coming home, they are going to bring those things with them.''

Let's take the oil money out of the hands of terrorists, and put it back into our own pockets.

Have your cake or Eat it

NRO: What Do Muslims Want? Priority problems, by Raymond Ibrahim

Muslim cab drivers have long discriminated against customers carrying or suspected of carrying alcohol. Officials at the St. Paul International Airport estimate that, on average, alcohol-bearing customers seeking cab rides are denied 77 times per month. Some blind customers have also been turned down on account of their seeing-eye dogs.

Muslims in Seattle have requested (and been granted) regularly scheduled hours for their exclusive use of public pools; an all-Muslim-girls basketball team at Chicago university demanded that men be barred from attending their matches; some 200 Muslim women signed a petition at a Michigan fitness center demanding separate workout times for men and women, or at least the erection of a screen divider between the men’s and women’s section (which was granted).

Ibrahim goes on to say:

“Straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel” has long been a sure sign of hypocrisy. All Muslims who freely migrate to the West must understand that they can’t have it both ways — that they can’t have their cake and eat it, too. They must choose between either strictly upholding the laws and customs of 7th-century Arabia (in which case they should remain in their “sharia friendly” countries of origin) or, if prosperity and comfort is their first choice, let them relocate to the West, but prepare to assimilate — that is, compromise — to some degree. It’s a simple question of priorities.

I think these are all valid points. Muslims in the United States, indeed, Muslims living in the West, should be conscious of the societies they are entering, societies greatly different than what they have left behind. Economically and socially, their adopted homeland offers them opportunities, and perhaps temptations, that were previously taboo. Let them take a lesson from the Chinese, Italians, Irish, Koreans and Indians before them. Bring with you the best of what your country has to offer; knowledge, hard work, and an eagerness to learn. But leave behind that which has held back your countrymen; racism and intolerance.

Winning and Losing in Iraq

The picture is courtesy Michelle Malkin's Blog. As a former college rower, this satire (if you can call it that, although this happening right now in Washington), is very poignant. How easy, I often thought during a race, it would be to ease off the oar just a little, slam my legs down slightly less violently, thrust my arms forward with a little less strength, forget the race and dwell on my aching, burning muscles...
...and then I would look over at my opponents, maybe a few seats up on us, maybe half a boat length up. Or, perhaps they were a few seats down on us with 500 meters to go. What to do? Ease up on the pressure and give in to the pain? Lighten up on the stroke and pray we hold our lead?
I have been in races where my crew won during the last few strokes, after getting beaten by the other crew the entire length of the race - all 1900 meters prior. But the past is not always prologue. A race can be won or lost in the final 100 meters. But the necessary ingredients must be there - dedication and the will to win. Giving up is the surest way to lose.
"The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it." ~ George Orwell

Pulitzer Prize Winner: The Looming Tower

Congratulations to Lawrence Wright.

One Review: The Looming Tower may be the most riveting, informative, and "heart-stopping account" yet of the men who shaped 9/11 (New York Times Book Review). The focus on individuals gives the book its emotional punch, but it is also a narrative bold in conception and historical sweep. Lawrence Wright conducted more than 500 interviews, from bin Laden's best friend in college to Richard A. Clarke, Saudi royalty, Afghan mujahideen, and reporters for Al Jazeera. The result, while evenhanded in its analysis of the complex motives, ideals, and power plays that led to 9/11, leaves few nefarious details uncovered. An abrupt ending did little to sway critics that Looming Tower is nothing less than "indispensable" reading (Cleveland Plain Dealer).