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news & opinion with no titillating non-news from the major non-news channels.


I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Warrantless Searches:
   Take Two

And, from OutsideTheBeltway.com, here is a link to Andrew C. McCarthy's list, a former Federal Prosecutor, at the National Review of 28 legitimate reasons when a warrant is not required.

The most relevant appear to be, Conduct warrantless searches of American citizens and their vessels on the high seas; and Conduct a warrantless search at the border of the baggage and other property of any American citizen entering or leaving the United States.

The funniest is, Conduct warrantless searches of junkyards maintained by American citizens.

McCarthy apologies for not including this tidbit:

I neglected, after all, to mention the long-established "inherent authority" of the president to "conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information," recognized by federal appeals courts and assumed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review in 2002.

The sarcasm is quite enjoyable.

'Plame Platoon' is AWOL:
   Max Boot

In his weekly column in the LA Times, Max Boot raises the question of media inconsistency in reporting leaks of National Security information, like the identity of a CIA agent and the existence of secret intelligence programs to thwart terrorists.

although it's treasonous for pro-Bush partisans to spill secrets that might embarrass an administration critic, it's a public service for anti-Bush partisans to spill secrets that might embarrass the administration. The determination of which secrets are OK to reveal is, of course, to be made not by officials charged with protecting our nation but by journalists charged with selling newspapers.

Boot points out that the same law that stopped pre-9/11 FBI agents in obtaining a warrant to search Zacarias Moussaoui's laptop, one of the Al Qaeda plotters and a failure in intelligence gathering that the 9/11 Commission explicitly singled out, is the same "law that Bush is now accused of circumventing" when he authorized wiretaps without warrants on international communications.

Quality Public School Systems:
   We should not hold them in contempt

I just returned from getting lunch at a local sub shop, Potbellies, an establishment for which I am eminently qualified to patronize. I got an Italian with a Key Lime soda for $5.70 and forked over a $20. As the cashier punched in $20 and the $14.30 Change was displayed, I quickly interjected, "I have a one" and pulled the bill out before she had to start counting ones.

Such a look of utter contempt I have rarely seen.

She took the one, canceled the order and reentered it with $21 Tendered. Naturally, the Change Returned displayed $15.30.

Had I not been so taken off my game by such a ferocious look, I would have then pulled out a dime and two nickels...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Living in Interesting Times:
   A Ludlum or Soylent Green novel?

Two articles in today's Washington Times:

U.S. frees 'high-value' detainees from Iraq

By Paul Martin
December 20, 2005

AMMAN, Jordan -- U.S. forces yesterday flew eight newly released "high-value" Iraqi detainees out of the country aboard a special military aircraft, in a move other officials said was aimed at furthering a secret peace process with Sunni hard-line groups. The releases, made Saturday but announced only yesterday, angered Iraqi government officials who pledged to hunt down and recapture some of the detainees, including former leaders of Saddam Hussein's government and security forces. Among those released or about to be freed is Rihab Taha, who was dubbed "Dr. Germ" by the popular press in the West and admitted to producing germ-warfare agents. A State Department official told the Associated Press she was no longer considered a security threat.

In a late-night telephone interview with The Washington Times, the Iraqi government's national security adviser said that U.S. forces had taken the eight released detainees to Jordan.

"We will certainly claim them back, and we will follow them wherever they go," said Mowaffak al-Rubaie. "The Iraqi judiciary will follow them."

He said an Iraqi judge had issued arrest warrants for the detainees several weeks ago, and that their release from U.S. custody had not been authorized by any Iraqi judicial process.

Chinese inmates' organs for sale to Britons

By Richard Spencer
December 20, 2005

GUANGZHOU, China -- A Chinese company has begun marketing kidneys, livers and other organs from executed prisoners to sick Britons in need of transplants. Hospital Doctor, a British magazine, earlier this month reported that a firm called Transplants International was trying to recruit British patients. Operations were to be carried out at Guangzhou Air Force Military Hospital by doctors from a hospital affiliated with the nearby Sun Yat-sen Southern University. Guangzhou is the fast-growing metropolis near Hong Kong in the heart of China's southern manufacturing zone.

The Telegraph confirmed the story in an interview with the hospital's Dr. Na Ning, in which a reporter posed as someone interested in getting involved as a business venture.

"We can sign an agreement," Dr. Na said over a business lunch in a smart Western restaurant.
"We should be cautious -- this is sensitive. There is no need to bring in lawyers or consultants. We should do the agreement on trust."

Dr. Na is one of many doctors involved in a growing organ-transplant trade that has caused revulsion around the world. In China, the practice raises few eyebrows.

Executed prisoners are the main source of organs used in the country's transplant operations, thousands of which are conducted each year.

Crowley's Crowings:
   Sheehan is worth more than
48 Medal of Honor Recipients

Michael Crowley is a Contributor to The New Republic's blog, The Plank. An article yesterday brought him into the sights of The Gadfly Chronicles, and I anticipate some voracious feeding.

Crowley is now a featured dinner guest.

Click here to see how he ridicules Fred Barnes at the Weekly Standard and how he defends, nay, practices, the MSM bias that Barnes criticizes.

Monday, December 19, 2005

NYT Talks Tough:
   "Syria is getting away with murder in Lebanon"

The NYT published an editorial today lambasting the UN Security Council for not being more aggressive with Syria and the allegations it played a major role in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, former three-term Prime Minister of Lebanon.

Some Council members, including the United States, would have liked to do more to honor the urgent requests for help delivered last week by Lebanon's prime minister, Fouad Siniora. But they ran into a wall of apologetics erected mainly by Russia, China and Algeria.

Since the Council can take credible action only on the basis of broad consensus, Washington and its like-minded partners - Britain, France and Denmark - had to accept a watered-down resolution as the best that could be achieved at this time. But this necessary compromise will do little to convince Damascus or anyone else that the international community is capable of taking effective action against a regime that exports terrorism and tramples with impunity on a neighboring country's sovereignty.
Syria's deadly meddling in Lebanon presented an ideal opportunity for the Security Council to show it was capable of taking effective diplomatic steps to defend vulnerable member states and punish brazen international terrorism. It is too bad that Russia, China and Algeria failed to recognize the fundamental issues at stake.

source: NYT

NYT Quotation Of The Day:
   Bush:Give Freedom a Chance

I don't expect you to support everything I do, but tonight I have a request: Do not give in to despair, and do not give up on this fight for freedom.

President Bush, Speech to the Nation, December 18, 2005

WSJ Blues:
   A Lesson in Geography (and Rhetoric) 101

James Taranto, offering his Best of the Web in the WSJ's OpinionJournal, suffered from myopic adolescent shenanigans last Wednesday.

Out of Africa
From a Baltimore Sun article on Anthony Brown, who is running for Maryland's lieutenant governor on a ticket with Martin O'Malley:

He chose a partner who reflects some of the diversity of Maryland. Brown is the product of the marriage between a Cuban father raised in Jamaica and a Swiss mother.

"It does not hurt that he is an African-American," [Rep. Elijah] Cummings said. "African-Americans in the Democratic Party want to see somebody on that level representing them, coming from that community."

OK, here's a trivia question. Which of the following countries is in Africa?

a. Cuba
b. Jamaica
c. Switzerland

Actually, as far as we know, the answer is d. none of the above.

Actually, Mr Taranto, what's your point? Cuba is not a homogenous population. Many Cubans have an African heritage for exactly the same reason as nearly all African-Americans do. Or are you raising the possibility of "grandfathering" in Jim Crow credentials for politicians? What should that threshold be? 1/8? 1/16? 1/32?

By reinforcing the negative stereotype of money equals racism, it is little wonder the WSJ has such a tough time appealing to a broader base of readership.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Saddam vs his victims:
   Even Perry Mason could not inspire this much drama

Tamara Chalabi, daughter of Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, tells a tale of courtroom drama while observing the Saddam Trial. Implicit behind every line, behind every word is the poignant question, in trials involving high crimes against humanity is it really possible to ensure both a fair trial for the accused and justice to the victims?

Foer's Follies
   "Bush gave Iran Nukes!"

Franklin Foer is Senior Editor at The New Republic Online and a major contributor to TNR's blog, The Plank. Two very recent articles brought him into the sights of The Gadfly Chronicles, and I anticipate some voracious feeding.

Foer is now a featured dinner guest.

Click here to see how he holds Bush to blame for Iranian nukes.

The New Old Guard:
   An Exercise in Disingenuous Rhetoric

Every generation must fight their Generation War where the new generation challenges the Order of their parents. In the 60s, the "Flower Children" balked and fought the stifling society of strength, order and stability that their parents built in the aftermath of the upheaval of the Great Depression and World War II.

Spurred by a revolution in politics and the media, in the wake of Vietnam, the Kennedy Presidency, the triple political assassinations, the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandals, these battles like all generational battles were neither polite nor genteel. Slurs abounded from both sides of the generational fence. One of the more clever labels thrown about by the Flower Children was antidisestablishmentarism, a word from English Anglican Church history redefined as a negative philosophy of steadfast and stubborn resistance to change, and one that had the virtue of being one of the longest words in the English language.

Today, the children of that generation are finding themselves, and the liberal society they have created and vigorously defended and protected, assailed by their own children of the internet. And the slur of the new children this time is the deceptively simple moniker, MSM.

Franklin Foer, senior editor at The New Republic, takes umbrage with the electronic usurpation of the established liberal press by the bloggers and their blogosphere, accusing the blogosphere of corrupting the free press. It seems he also takes issue with "the blogosphere (that) nurses an ideological disdain for "Mainstream Media"--or MSM, as it has derisively (and somewhat adolescently) come to be known"

Foer believes that his "Mainstream Media" is the moral equivalent to Plato's philosopher-kings; the Knights-Templar of the Holy Protective Order of the Free Press, if you will. The Inquisitors of this Holy Order are solely charged by Foer with maintaining the purity and integrity of an independent free press, "Newspapers deserve an army of enemies that nag them to be less lazy, less timid, and less nice (but) they don't deserve the savage treatment that they routinely receive in the blogosphere."

I suspect that Foer's Holy Order believes it should police itself, and all newcomers (or newbies, as his children might say) should be brutally suppressed, nay, dare I say it, tortured. His griping is tantamount to "flaming" the blogosphere as a Pretender to his Office of the Holy Inquisitor. Foer, in a revealing peek into his partisan beliefs, identifies the spawning grounds of this beast,

"You would expect this kind of populism from the right, which long ago pioneered the trashing of the MSM, or, as Spiro Agnew famously called its practitioners, "nattering nabobs of negativism." "

but Foer despairs,

"that liberal bloggers seem to have forgotten [...] (t)he right has used media-bashing as political gimmickry (and) want to weaken the press so it will stop obstructing their agenda [...] By repeating conservative criticisms about the allegedly elitist, sycophantic, biased MSM, liberal bloggers have played straight into conservative hands. These bloggers have begun unwittingly doing conservatives' dirty work."

Or to deconstruct and undiscombobulate, "No fair, they beat us to the punch!"

But Foer gets back on the high ground and continues, "What they (the bloggers) are attacking is the MSM's Progressive-era ethos of public-minded disinterestedness. By embracing the idea of objectivity, newspapers took a radical turn from the raw partisanship that guided them in the nineteenth century."

But Robert W. McChesney and John Nichols, in The Rise of Professional Journalism at inthesetimes.com, have a very interesting take on the (de?)evolution of the twentieth century newspapers that Foer exalts and exhorts. In short, McChesney and Nichols take to task the oligarchical consolidation of that raw ideologically partisan free press, typical of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, to a more narrow commercial, business-minded, market-share ideology of non-ideologies, Foer's rosy exuberance for a time that never really existed notwithstanding.

At the Founding of our Republic, a hundred years before Foer's "radical turn" of the free press, there existed numerous smaller partisan broadsheets, newspapers and pamphleteers that colored the free press with a broad spectrum of Diverse Opinions. This was the state of affairs when the works of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, John Dickinson, James Madison, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, to mention a mere few, were published in broadsheets and pamphlets.

Foer's School of Objectivity did not consolidate the multitudinous diversity of Free Opinions until a hundred years AFTER the Founding of the Republic. Foer fails to understand that the Republic survived, nay prospered, for those hundred years, despite (or indeed because of) that "raw partisanship that guided them in the nineteenth century."

The blogosphere, contrary to Foer's "nattering nabob of negativism", has spurred the free press to return back to what it does best, encouraging and provoking the debate of public policy so vital to a free democracy. The free press fails utterly in that solitary responsibility if it imposes entrance requirements...

And what is that requirement to admission that Foer would impose?

The Holy Grail of Objective Facts.

"That "objective" style worked well for many years, because, in the postwar period, political elites shared broad assumptions about policy with one another--and the media."

I am not sure if Foer has retreated into a fantasy world again, but what shared broad assumptions and what postwar period? The Red Menace? McCarthyism? Hoover at the FBI? Perhaps he is thinking of a mere slice of that era, somewhere between Watergate and Ross Perot?

But, never the less, what happened to Diversity of Opinion? Has it no value? Objectivity is fine when you are talking about mere Facts. But much of what is going on within the blogosphere is the sharing and dissemination of Opinions and the subjection of those Opinions to the fiery crucible of open debate. I guess Foer believes select opinions belong on the Editorial or Op-Ed Page of established newspapers, or in unresponsive and highly edited Letters to the Editor (me! me! pick me, sir!). Or perhaps in journals and magazines such as, say, The New Republic??

And what has happened in recently history to Foer's Holy Grail of Objectivity? Has not MSM botched even getting the Facts straight? Has it not confused agenda and opinions with Facts? Remember Rathergate? And how many journalists of renowned press agencies such as the New York Times have recently eaten crow with their scrambled eggs because their trusted journalists invented the Facts?

But, ignoring these pardonable lapses of integrity as Foer is apt to do, are we to assume from his analysis that the general populace needs issues dumbed up for them by Foer's elites? In fact, is that not the core of a pre-internet criticism of the free press, by the free press, for the free press, that by dumbing up the news in the interest of increasing market-share, we have endangered an educated critical public and replaced it with uncritical consumers of news? Anybody remember the antics of the Mary Tyler Moore (MTM) show as it parodied local news in the 1970s?

Of course, an ever objective Mr. Foer understands where his shining city on the hill has failed. "But the Bush administration has violently rejected that consensus [...] (of) political elites shar(ing) broad assumptions about policy with one another--and the media."

Ah, so now we understand. The Blogosphere is an invention of those unscrupulous scoundrels who have stolen three successive national elections!

"The mainstream blogosphere (MSB) (Foer's less than adolescent moniker for the bloggers) is only too happy to bury the old media regime, because it has an implicit vision for a new order, one that would largely consist of ... bloggers"

I think Foer, in his "objective" mode of journalistic integrity, is blinded by one salient Fact. Neither Bush, nor Gore, invented the internet. And neither party is driving it alone. Maybe that is what Foer's hidden agenda is all about, buried under his "objective" journalistic analysis. He implies that his Holy Inquisitor is more competent than either party, or the people themselves, to "control the horizontal and the vertical". We cannot trust the other guy, so trust me!

What Foer fails, or refuses, to recognize is that in the end, the blogosphere is dominated, not by the behemoths of the two party system or that "independent" fourth branch of the government, but by the little people, as in We The People, much as it was in that era of Revolutionary broadsheets and pamphleteering. In fact, would it not be too large of a stretch of the imagination to classify the collective works of The Federalist as a pre-electronic blog?

Give Mr. Foer a dictionary, please. Can anyone spell "disingenuous"? Or maybe Elmer Fudd should just fall back to more simple "dishonest".

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Iraqi Successes:
   A short timeline of major events

Patrick Clawson, deputy director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote a piece in the New Republic Online on the laborious nation building efforts in Iraq. While the following is not exactly the main point of the article, it is interesting to note the accomplishments thus far:

  • In 2003 formation of the Governing Council,
  • the November 2003 outline plan for transition,
  • the December 2003 capture of Saddam,
  • the January 2004 writing of the Transitional Administrative Law,
  • the June 2004 handover from the Coalition Provisional Authority,
  • and the January 2005 elections
Let us not forget the drafting of the constitution in August 2005, the popular vote in October that accepted the draft, and the elections for a new Parliament today

Rejecting American "rejectionist" arguments:
   Stay the Course vs Cut 'n Run

The following is a post of mine at Port McClellan, where measures of Iraqi success are being debated:

The various American "rejectionist" arguments against our involvement in Iraq all seem to orbit round the singular assumption that peace and unity in Iraq is impossible.

Why? Why is this impossible?

Just because Shiites and Sunnis are sometimes, oftentimes, violently contentious sects of the same religion? Just because Arabs and Kurds are ethnically different? These differences do not doom us to failure. Difficult to be sure. But this does not make peace and unity unattainable.

We have been there before. We have prevailed.

The differences between Sunni and Shiite, the differences between Arab and Kurd are no more unmanageable, and the reconciliation between the two no more unthinkable, than the differences between the Tories and the Radicals, or between the Virginians and the New Englanders of our own democracy's birth. This is not a trivial comparison. Eighty years later, those differences still had the potency to ignite a bloody Civil War that nearly tore us asunder, a conflict arguably born in the very pains of our own democracy's birth.

The Iraqis today have not shown any more incompetence towards democracy than we ourselves demonstrated two centuries ago. Democracy and the desire for liberty are not mere Western or Christian values or institutions. We just succeeded first, whether by chance or fate.

So why do some insist birthing Iraqi Democracy stillborn? Do they believe Iraqis are intrinsically incapable of something that we ourselves have demonstrated a supreme capacity for? Do they believe this reasoned capacity of ours was self-evident, and destined to be, during any time of the Founding of the Republic?

American democracy was not preordained to succeed. The centrifugal forces before, during and in the wake of the Revolutionary War also nearly tore us apart. Quaker pacifism. Southern slavery. Boston insurgency. Tory loyalties. And the venal greed and self-absorbed passions of men such as Arnold and Burr. Only the threat of European invasion, particularly British, conspired to unite us as nothing intrinsic to our own nature could. By 1820, a whole generation later, we were beginning to be sufficiently and uniquely American enough to be a country.

Just as the borders in the New World were drawn by cartographers in London, Madrid and Paris, Iraqis are Iraqis by virtue of lines artificially drawn on maps by people living on far distant shores. There is not, yet, that single Iraqi national spirit akin to what we found only a generation after our birth. So how can the Iraqis overcome their differences? How can this democracy survive until the engines of democracy become self-sustaining? And what role can we, should we play?

I see only three possible outcomes; segregation, conflict or cooperation. And only two roles for us; abandon the Iraqis to their own devices, or keep our commitments to peace and freedom.

Splitting the country into three independent countries would resolve the internal difficulties of Iraq, but only by making them external. And by definition, it would certainly not create a single national Iraqi Identity. There is also the larger issue of regional politics. As others have rightly pointed out, once the Kurds have inviolate and sovereign borders, the strong gravitational forces pulling Iranian and Turkish Kurds within the realm of a Greater Kurdistan would be enormous, risking war between the three countries in and around the Zagros Mountains, where the ancient enemies of Mesopotamia lived and raided from. And too close to the one region in the world so vital to our own national strategic interests.

Likewise the Shiites would naturally gravitate toward Shiite Iran, as in fact they already are. While it is difficult to forecast the exact nature of the relationship, it is not a stretch to say that the wealth and power that comes from oil would thus concentrate even more into the hands of the Iranians, reducing the major players in the Middle East power struggle to two, a fundamentalist Shiite Iran and an increasingly fundamentalist Sunni Saudi Arabia. If you think an Iraqi Shiite-Sunni conflict is daunting, contemplate a regional Iranian-Saudi death match.

The third country parceled from Iraq would, of course, form in the Sunni center, Iraq Proper, if you will. It would be a poor and dissolute second cousin of the Middle East, more akin to Lebanon or Palestine than the grandeur that is, or ever was, Iraq. Discontent would run rampant, a discontent that might be subdued if a new Iraq, or modern day Babylon, were forged by consolidating this country with Syria and Jordan, but only marginally at best. And the region has had enough with redrawing lines on a map.

All three of these flashpoints, though, would only exacerbate the War on Terrorism, no less than the condition of the Lebanese and Palestinian people has had in creating a breeding ground for terrorism in the past few decades. So, from a purely American point of view, segregation would not be a viable strategy or outcome.

War, of course, has always been the ultimate arbiter of peace. Cut 'n run and let the opposing sides slug it out and to the victor goes the spoils. Again, if the American objective is to exorcise terrorism from Middle East politics, this is not a solution. And it seems none of the rejectionists are arguing that this would not happen if we leave, now or twenty years from now. By that logic, we can never leave.

It seems to me the only solution is cooperation, aka democracy. To have success, we must do everything in our power to foster, nurture and protect this democracy in Iraq. To do anything else seems to invite the self-fulfilling prophecies of doom.

American presence in Iraq is protecting Iraqi democratic institutions fragile in their infancy, as our own fragility was protected by a vast ocean and continental intrigues that distracted our formidable opponents. Regardless of the forces that conspired to pull us into this fight, we are there now to insulate this democracy from the wolves within and beyond the borders. Despite the rhetoric, we are not there as ravenous invaders.

But, might we fail? Yes. Is it worth risking our reputation on that failure? But what reputation would we have if we did not try? What reputation have we endured in recent history because we have not tried? Remember, al Qaeda explicitly stated one of its reasons for going ahead with the 9/11 attacks was they did not believe we would stand tall.

Is that the reputation we want to defend? A democracy that has not the credibility of its own convictions? Because until 9/11, that was exactly the reputation we had.

John F. Kennedy challenged us nearly fifty years ago to strive to do the things that are difficult. As Iraqis on this day risk life and limb to exercise their new democracy, I say Democracy is worth the struggle, whether for Iraqi or Arab or American.

Maybe we need to start measuring success from an Iraqi point of view.

(TrackBack to OutsidetheBeltway's linkfest)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Iranian Strategy

Given that the Iranians have long been known for strategic finesse, one wonders of the intent of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in recent weeks. He has certainly been deliberately confrontational. Is he playing to an internal audience, whipping up domestic support? or could it be the Iranians are just beggin' to be pummeled so they can play the righteous victim in international politics?

Iran's President Again Doubts Holocaust

One wonders....

The Great Torture Debate

From the WallStreet Journal's OpinionJournal on the Great Torture Debate,

Part of the problem with interpreting those words is that they depend on the context. All things being equal, we can't think of a worse human rights abuse than blowing someone to bits with a Hellfire missile. Yet no one objected when that happened to al Qaeda leader Hamza Rabia in Pakistan two weeks ago. If certain individuals can be ethically targeted for death in a war, then wouldn't the same hold true for rough interrogation methods? A strange code of morality would allow the killing of Rabia but not his stressful questioning to prevent further murders he might plan against innocent civilians.

Now, just because the WSJ says so, doesn't make it so, Joe. But I am glad that my voice is not the only voice in the wilderness. I have been arguing the same exact point both with competent critics, at the Port, and with psuedo-intellectual boobs at inthesetimes.com who see nothing incongruous with employing brutish debate tactics to object to brutish behavior.

Another slow Pearl Harbor:
   Bad boy Syria and its like-minded partner, Hezbollah

Yesterday, I posted an article on "slow Pearl Harbors".

Here is a perfect example of one from the OpinionJournal. Gebran Tueni was a Lebanese newspaper man, inheriting the family newspaper, An-Nahar, that was started by his grandfather in 1933. Tueni has been an outspoken advocate for freedom in Lebanon and demanding Syria leave.

He was assassinated hours before the latest release of the UN report by Detlev Mehlis who is investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri.

The slow Pearl Harbor scenario is being played out as Syria is being given time to come to its senses and join the international community.

It won't. With democracy threatening its own bedroom chambers, Syria is not wont to throw the barn doors wide open.

update, from the LA Times, U.N. Weighs Next Move on Syria:

But U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton said that details in the report about disappearing documents, grudging testimonies and witness intimidation made it clear that Syria was trying to block the inquiry and should be pressured to comply with investigators' demands.

"On the part of the United States there is absolutely no wavering from the proposition that Syria is not going to get away with obstructing this investigation," he said. "It's not going to cover up the actions of its senior officials, and it's not going to escape the consequences."

France introduced a draft resolution Tuesday evening seeking an extension of the investigation beyond its six-month mandate, which expires Thursday. It also proposes establishing an international tribunal to try suspects in the assassination and expanding the investigation to include political killings in Lebanon since October 2004, at the discretion of the commission. Since then, four prominent Lebanese critics of Syria have been killed by car bombs, including newspaper publisher and politician Gibran Tueni on Monday.

and so it goes ...

Hate torture? Consider boot camp:
   Max Boot speaks out


HOLD THE PRESSES. I've discovered that the use of torture by the U.S. government is far more pervasive than previously believed. There are major facilities all over the country where thousands of men and women who have not committed any crime are held for prolonged periods while subjected to physical and psychological coercion that violates every tenet of the Geneva Convention.

nuf said....

How True Democracy Works:
   Rubin warns Arabs of the reality
  of Iraqi Democracy

Michael Rubin writes of democracy and accountability in the Middle East on the pages of the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal. In Iraqi Beacon, Message to the Arab world: Democracy works, (registration may be required) Rubin exhorts and warns the Iraqi people, and the Middle East in general, Here's your chance. Make it a good one.

Iraqis will go to the polls tomorrow for the third time this year. Their actions mark both a triumph for the Iraqi people and a warning for Arab autocrats. Not only has the Iraqi march toward democracy proved naysayers wrong, but Iraqis' growing embrace of democracy demonstrates the wisdom of staying the course. Iraqis are changing political culture. Howard Dean and John Murtha may believe that the U.S. military has lost. Brent Scowcroft may think Arab democracy a pipe dream. They are mistaken.

The greatest impediment to progress in the Arab world is not terrorism or Islamism; both are recent phenomena. Rather, it is lack of accountability. Instead of accepting responsibility for lack of progress, many Arab regimes blame outsiders.
The process of democratization may be messy--but it is working. Iraqis are frustrated with their situation but, unlike elsewhere in the Arab world, they can now hold their government to account. In Brent Scowcroft's world of realpolitik, Arab regimes are unaccountable to their people. There are no constituents.

Ready or not, here it comes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Neither success nor failure:
   I am starting to take an cynical view
   towards Iraq's future

In the wee hours before the Iraqi elections, Jeffrey White and Brooke Neuman have written an excellent PolicyWatch article for the Washington Institute entitled Iraq's Sunnis Play the Election Card.

Briefly, the Sunnis have realized that the "boycott" politics of the previous year scored merely a short-term tactical success and have found themselves marginalized in the flowering Iraqi democracy. The Sunnis are now turning towards "participatory" politics to regain lost momentum, but they do not appear to be ready to abandon the leverage that the largely Sunni insurgency gives them.

Sort of like Sinn Fein and the IRA of Ireland, or as White and Neuman compare it, like the

“Nazi path to power” using the political system to destroy it from within. The Sunni bloc in the government will also likely function as a restraint on government counterinsurgency actions and as a critic of the extralegal actions of the security forces.
The Sunnis are driven by a complex set of issues. These include the Sunni resistance to the U.S.-led occupation; the rise to power of the Shiite community; the perceived escalation of government and militia attacks on the Sunni community; the quest to restore the political power of the Sunni community; and the trial of Saddam Hussein. Participation in the political process is seen as another means—alongside armed resistance—of handling these issues.
Sunni Arab politicians in the new parliament will likely constitute a substantial bloc of seats. As such they will be able to exercise more political leverage. Iyad Allawi, a secular Shiite, and the Kurds will be looking for partners.

Given that the Sunnis and Kurds each make up only 20% of the population, wheeling and dealing with the more secular Shiites may lead to interesting bedfellows.

And you know what the Chinese say about living in interesting times...

A Slow Pearl Harbor:
   Interesting Retrospective

James Johnson and Robert Zarate write an interesting retrospective in the Weekly Standard on the conclusions of the Pearl Harbor debate and why we were surprised, and they apply that, not to 9/11, but the ongoing negotiations between the Iranians and Mohamed El Baradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, over the Iranian nuke controversy.

In the years following (Pearl Harbor), fierce debates raged--in congressional hearings and among historians--over how the United States could have been so completely surprised. But it was not until the publication of Pearl Harbor: Warning and Decision, historian Roberta Morgan Wohlstetter's 1962 Bancroft Prize-winning study, that the dimensions of this national tragedy came to be fully understood.
But another problem that concerned her deeply has received less attention--namely, what she termed "slow Pearl Harbors." Wohlstetter developed this concept in a 1979 essay in the Washington Quarterly, "The Pleasures of Self-Deception," and in a later, unpublished manuscript. Unlike the dramatic surprises of December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001, slow Pearl Harbors unfold when "the change at any given time seems innocent enough," but, over time, "the changes add up and can ultimately spell disaster." Here, she elaborated, "the problem is that after each small change even hindsight is not very clear.
Last week, El Baradei agreed with Western assessments that, once Iran's underground uranium enrichment complex at Natanz resumes operation, Iran will be within "a few months" of building a nuclear explosive. Still, he warned against attempts to use non-diplomatic--yet less-than-military--responses to Iranian intransigence.

In other words, these surprises are not so much unknown but buried in plain sight. We need mechanisms that will flush the trivial away and leave the truly relevant.

Jefferson called it "higher education".

Democratic Success in 2008

I think the Democrats have a real shot at winning the 2008 Presidential election.

No, really.

Paul Mirengoff wrote an article for the Weekly Standard appropriately titled, There They Go Again. Mirengoff argues,

THE DEMOCRATS' 2006 election strategy regarding the war in Iraq has begun to emerge. According to the Washington Post, key Democratic operatives and legislators "are slowly coalescing around a political plan [that] would involve setting a broad time frame for drawing down U.S. troops and blaming Bush for misleading the country into a war without a victory plan." Their aim is to "provide the party enough maneuvering room to allow Democrats to adjust their position as conditions in Iraq change." This strategy, the Post explains, is the product of fear that advocating a prompt withdrawal from Iraq would jeopardize the party's chances of succeeding in 2006. Thus, for the third straight election, mainstream Democrats intend to craft their position on matters of war and peace based on political calculation, not their view of the national interest.

And, at the top of Page 2,

The Democrats and their partners base their counter-intuitive and anti-historical strategy on the premise that our military presence fuels the terrorist insurgency. Thus, the argument goes, if we announce that we are leaving, the terrorist insurgency will magically run out of steam.

Same ol', same ol'.

As Iraq racks up success after success, the Democrats get more and more desperate. Which is just fine with me. I firmly believe in everyone's right to blindly run off the top of a cliff, especially after repeated warnings.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman is taking a real beating by his fellow Democrats as he persists in not tree-hugging the nuclear hand grenade the party is playing with. And there is where I see the glimmer of hope for the Democrats in 2008. The Democrats are on the fast track to self-destruction, if not as fatally catastrophic as the Whigs in the mid 1800s, then certainly equal to the turn of fortunes of the Republican Party with the failure of Hoover in 1932.

If the Democrats are lucky, they will blow the 2006 election, causing a party revolt after four successive national failures before the national electorate. That may not be enough time to turn the party around in time for 2008, but at least potential candidates like Lieberman will have a chance to take over the party stick shift and stop grinding the gears.

There is nothing like repeated failures to inspire revolutions.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Unfriendly Fire:
   One of Murtha's soldier-constituents responds

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I am an infantry soldier with "Task Force Panther" from Pennsylvania. We are deployed in the Anbar Province of Iraq. I have also been a registered Democrat for 25 years. Over the years I've watched and warned that our party was falling into an abyss of absolutely reprehensible behavior.

Was the Democratic Party so afraid of a victory in Iraq, three weeks before its national election, that it would coerce its last respected member in Congress to abandon U.S. soldiers while still in the field?

How dare you, Mr. Murtha -- a Vietnam veteran -- sell out soldiers in combat right before the end of a successful mission! Your behavior is inexcusable. You should be ashamed. I am sure the terrorist insurgency is grateful to you for announcing our defeat days before yet another victory in this country. You owe every American soldier a formal apology.

You could have been remembered as distinguished member of Congress, but now you'll only be remembered as a foolish old man who sold out his country to a den of vipers in the Democratic Party. Thank you for proving once and for all that the Democratic Party is the party of the sore loser, the selfish whiner and the gutless coward. So what was the price to betray us, Judas?

May God have mercy on your soul.

Note: We the returning soldiers of this war will be the force to tell the truth about this conflict and about the despicable actions of the Democratic Party.

Sgt. Mark Russak
"B" Co. 1/110th
North Irwin

Kiss of Death:
     Jailed Iranian dissident is hailed by Bush

I am leery of quoting anything from the New York Post, though I do link to news articles in my Above the Fold section. They always seem more of an East Coast National Enquirer or Green Onion without the intellectual wit than real news.

But this caught my eye. So I offer it with reservations with respect to the source:


I had been trying for months to persuade the Western media to take an interest in Ganji, a former Khomeinist revolutionary who is now campaigning for human rights and democracy. But we never got anywhere because of one small hitch: President Bush had spoken publicly in support of Ganji and called for his immediate release.

And that, as far as a good part of the Western media is concerned, amounts to a kiss of death. How could newspapers that portray Bush as the world's biggest "violator of human rights" endorse his call in favor of Ganji?

To overcome that difficulty, some of Ganji's friends had tried to persuade him to make a few anti-American, more specifically anti-Bush, pronouncements so that the Western media could adopt him as a "hero-martyr."

Would Ganji adopt a similar tactic in order to get media attention in the West? The answer came last January and it was a firm no.

The article goes on to explain that Ganji was recently honored by the Foreign Press Association, but Iran wouldn't even allow his wife to leave the country to accept.

But then things went pear-shape as a petite middle-aged lady dressed all in black was invited to come on stage to make a symbolic offer of the award to an absent Ganji. (The mullahs had not even allowed Ganji's wife to travel to London to attend the occasion.)

The lady in question was introduced as one Bianca Jagger, whose title is UNICEF Ambassador. What her day job is, however, is a mystery to me.

Bianca, it seems, then proceeded to do what Ganji refused to do.

And they say there is no bias in MainStream Media.

Is Torture Wrong when Life is on the Line:
   Some thoughts

Yesterday, a man was shot and killed by air marshals after he claimed to have a bomb. It turned out he didn't.

Those who have been following my debate on the use of "torture" as a legitimate tool in protecting life will understand why I include this quote from today's LA Times,

But, said Jon Adler, president of the Law Enforcement Agents Assn., "The fact that [Alpizar] did not ultimately have a bomb is not relevant to the action taken by the air marshals.

I will try and get the important points of that debate posted here shortly.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Prime Directive:
     Dude! This isn't the Land of Tribbles!

Daniel McKivergan, editor of the Weekly Standard's WorldwideStandard.com blog, quotes The New Republic's Lawrence Kaplan

The contradiction pits the liberal ideal that discourages impinging on the autonomy of others against the liberal ideal that no people ought to be governed without their consent.

Now, this is very likely taken out of context, but Kaplan's piece requires a (paid!) subscription to TNR, which I don't have and haven't thought much about getting.

What contradiction?

Is it not a given that you cannot have autonomy without consent?

If the "others" have autonomy, then they would be governed by their consent and need no impinging on their autonomy.

If the "others" do not have autonomy, then they would not be governed by their consent and any impingement would not be on their autonomy, but those who have taken it away from them.

Am I missing something?

Above the Fold:
   Weekly News for Dec 4-10

Navigating the 'human terrain' - Max Boot:
   US Marines' ongoing need for cultural awarenes

Max Boot has written an excellent article, in his weekly LA Times column, on the need for a broader understanding in the world around us,

We need smart people, not smart bombs — Americans who are familiar with foreign languages and cultures and proficient in such disciplines as intelligence collection and interrogation. Yet these are precisely the areas in which the U.S. government is the weakest.

Specifically, Boot focuses on the efforts of one Marine General "who as a combat commander in Iraq saw firsthand the need to enhance the cultural awareness of his own forces ... (beyond) "Culture 101" classes".

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Proper Perspective:
   The American and Iraqi Civil Wars linked across 143 years

In an article at the New Republic, Noble Cause, William J. Stuntz writes of parallels between the unpopularity, and righteousness, of the American Civil War and the current Iraqi insurgency. He also reflects on different and changing rationales between entering the fight, and finishing the fight.

I would offer Stuntz' arguments against Cohen's lame and disenguous snipes of yesterday.

Thanks to the Port McClellan for the tip.

Forgetting Pearl Harbor:
   A not-so-conventional memorial

Ken Masugi, from the Claremont Institute, writes a rather different Pearl Harbor memorial article.

NYT Quotation of the Day:
   Muslim killing Muslims

"I just want to ask, 'Is this jihad? Is this jihad against Iraqis?' I want to ask the mujahedeen, 'Do you slaughter your brother in the name of jihad?'"

HASSAN DAWOOD after suicide bombs killed 36 in Baghdad.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Success in Iraq:
     Defeat at Home, again. And again

Since when does an Op-Ed piece mean merely "not officially our opinion". I thought it was supposed to be an editorial in opposition to the official editorial content of a newspaper.

Well, if that is so, then the Washington Post has just become President Bush's most ardent supporter.

In a December 6 "Op-Ed", Let Rumsfeld Go, Richard Cohen scares up some tired old accusations of incompetence against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Before boring you with the charges, and my point for point rebuttals, let me quote Cohen on the "tragedy" of the Iraq War:

... any victory that comes three years and more than 2,000 U.S. military deaths later than promised cannot be considered a triumph. Call it what you will, but at the very least it's a tragedy.

Like, say, the American Revolution? 8 years, 25,000 soon-to-be American dead.

Or the Civil War? 5 years and 860,000 (combined) American casualties.

How about World War I? 4 years and 110,000 doughboy casualties.

Or World War II? 4 years and 400,000 GI Joe deaths.

The Forgotten War? 3 years and 54,000 American deaths.

Of course, there is always the Vietnam War. A military victory, but a political disaster. 13 years and 56,000 deaths.

Think about it.

So, here are the charges. Well, the charge:

Under Rumsfeld's plan, the United States never had enough troops on the ground -- still doesn't, actually.

And where are these phantom troops supposed to come from, Mr. Cohen? Is Iraq our ONLY strategic interest? Are the Guards and the Reserves not stretched incredibly thin? Is there not significant progress on the ground (you need to stop watching the 6 o'clock news if you want to get a full picture)? Are not the objectives being met?

When will you acknowledge that, far from the "quagmire", the only thing making the job difficult is the enemy's belief that we don't have the political will to sustain the fight?

And where are they getting that idea from?

The Rhymes of History:
   Need a Moniker for a Research Project

Google 'historical cycles' and you'll get several million hits. From Mayan calendars to astrological cycles to generational cycles to cycles of history, the examples of the repetition of history are endless.

I want to explore those cycles. Knowing the cycles not only bares the past but reveals the future. And I want to know both.

But, before I start on this epic venture, I need a moniker. A Rhyme in Time, The Rhyme of History, Rhyming Time, are a few that come to mind, all influenced by the quote allegedly from Mark Twain, or at least, from Will Rogers quoting Twain (??), "The past does not repeat itself, but it does rhymes."

Regardless of the provenance, it appeals to me.

I am also partial to Santayana's quote about those not learning from history are doomed to repeat it, but it lacks the structural implications of the other.

Anyway, whilst I ponder this, if anyone has suggestions, drop me a note.

Security in the Middle East: Iraq, Iran and Syria
     Wesley Clark offers rehashed advice

At first glance, my hackles rose as I read the first three paragraphs of Clark's, December 6, NYT's Op-Ed, The Next Iraqi Offensive. Knowing Clark to be a slightly(?) pontificating MacArthuresque Caeser-wanna-be, I figured this was going to be more tripe of sophism of how America needs to be strong, but Bush is screwing it up.

Well, it is and it isn't. The shadow of Clark's 2004 presidential campaign for the Democratic Nod certainly lingers, but the good general does himself right. In obvious response to Bush's National Strategy for Victory in Iraq, Clark fleshes out some military details, but still tries to co-opt the President's message on the Strategy's Political Track.

Clark starts by bracketing the Iraqi internal security issue with regional political issues, notably Iran.

"Iran is emerging as the big winner of the American invasion"

Indeed. The Iranians have always been the Middle East grandmasters of strategy and they have definitely manipulated the chaotic flux in the wake of the Iraqi war, a flux endemic to any upheaval, to their advantage. They have strengthened their ties with the Iraqi Shi'ites, they have taken the public fear of the encirclement of Iran by American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and translated that into stunning electoral success, and they are reaping goodwill among the more militant Islamics, and sympathetic Arabs, as they provide safe harbor and shelter for much of al Qaeda's senior people, including Osama's family.

It is true, though, that the Iraqi Shi'ites in the south have always been close to Iran, that the mullahs have a lopsided advantage in the Iranian electoral process as they "vet" candidates and having much of al Qaeda's people under their control is little more than hostages ensuring al Qaeda deference to Iranian interests.

But after paying deference to the Iranians, what Clark is really arguing for is, well, not a plan, but more of a strategic idea. Clark advocates using American troops to tighten Iraqi border security with Iran and Syria. Clark estimates,

"We need to deploy three or four American brigades, some 20,000 troops, with adequate aerial reconnaissance, to provide training, supervision and backup along Iraq's several thousand miles of vulnerable border."

He also calls for "continue(d) military efforts against insurgent strongholds and bases in the Sunni areas" saying that "in conjunction with Iraqi forces ... (o)ver the next year or so, this will probably require four to six brigade combat teams, plus an operational reserve, maybe 30,000 troops."

So, I am thinking, other than providing a few back-of-the-envelope calculation, .... "why do you think this is such a new idea?"

It is a good idea. It also happens to be a logical extension of what the White House has been signaling for the past couple years. As the Iraqi Security Forces start taking over operational control from American forces, the American forces gradually pull back, letting the Iraqis take the lead more and more with American forces providing backup, support and reinforcement, if necessary.

The Bush Administration has also been very critical of Syria for allowing the Sunni insurgency to use Syrian soil as a safe rear echelon (can anyone say Vietnam?) and the Administration has fired more than a few warnings towards the Iranians for interfering in local politics in southern Iraq.

Here is where Clark is trying to jump the gun and take credit for a good idea whose time has not quite come. We are not yet ready to turn over the bulk of the security duties to the Iraqi forces. Criticisms abound against Bush for not sending enough forces to do the job, all the jobs, in the first place. Lemme 'splain. America has other commitments around the world. Should we abandon them? Where are we gonna get these hundreds of thousands of phantom forces? If these forces were as readily available as the criticism is from the naysayers, why is our Guard and Reserve stretched so thin covering current operations?

Even Clark says, "Yes, our military forces are dangerously overstretched."

So where are the extra forces going to come from? It seems Clark is advocating a change in strategy, an evolution of strategy, before we have accomplished the first strategy.

One thing at a time, General.

As forces are freed up in clearing the insurgents and holding secured areas, we can start changing our strategy. We can then start securing the borders. Clark is merely outlining an idea that is supremely and simply logical. And as obvious to the naked eye as Clark's intentions are.

As for usurping Bush's Strategy, the pretender has this to say about the need for a political strategy,

"As important as these military changes are, they won't matter at all unless our political strategy is rethought. First, the Iraqis must change the Constitution as quickly as possible after next week's parliamentary elections. Most important, oil revenues should be declared the property of the central government, not the provinces. And the federal concept must be modified to preclude the creation of a Shiite autonomous region in the south.

Also, a broad initiative to reduce sectarian influence within government institutions is long overdue. The elections, in which Sunnis will participate, will help; but the government must do more to ensure that all ethnic and religious groups are represented within ministries, police forces, the army, the judiciary and other overarching federal institutions.

And we must start using America's diplomatic strength with Syria and Iran. The political weakness of Bashar al-Assad opens the door for significant Syrian concessions on controlling the border and cutting support for the jihadists. We also have to stop ignoring Tehran's meddling and begin a public dialogue on respecting Iraqi independence, which will make it far easier to get international support against the Iranians if (and when) they break their word."

If you have read the National Strategy, you would only be surprised by the confluence of Clark's views with it. If the good general hasn't yet read The National Strategy, coincidentally just recently released, then I would be very surprised if his name wasn't included in the credits (it isn't).

Now, as a general, there is no punishment for plagiarism. In fact, learning historical lessons on strategies and tactics is part and parcel of a good military education. And stealing ideas is absolutely a critical tool of the trade for politicians.

Unless you get caught. Just ask Sen. Biden.

Letters to the Editor

I have opened up this space to allow unfettered and unsolicited comments on whatever you may wish. It can always be found under the new easy-to-find Always on Top section

Monday, December 05, 2005

Reposted: The National Strategy for
     Victory in Iraq

War always has, and always will, be about imposing one's will upon another. Success in war means you have the power to effect that will.

America is gambling that it has the resolve and the power to impose its will upon Islamic militants. America has put its reputation on the line, committing itself to helping the Iraqi people build a free and democratic society.

Winning in Iraq means the marginalization of the Sunni insurgency and al Qaeda as potent forces in the world. They know that. Both forces have compared their fight with America to the Vietnam War, the American failure in Somalia and the failure in Beruit. Al Qaeda attacked on 9/11 believing America would cut and run. Our failures in Vietnam, in Beruit, in Somalia emboldened al Qaeda and continues to embolden the Sunni insurgency.

We cannot let them win in Iraq. Too much is at stake.

We have, and have had, a consistent and comprehensive strategy. We have, and have had, definite goals, tactics, objectives. Just because we did not analyze them to death, just because we didn't laboriously compose, write and publish a 500 page "peace" document (a la Richard Holbrooke and Bosnia) detailing beforehand exactly what those objectives were and how were going to accomplish it and when each milestone would be met, does not mean we went in blind.

As much as I enjoy analysis in the extreme, I have a great deal of respect for leaders who take action because it is Right, and not merely because of, or only after, all the i's have been meticulously dotted and all the t's scrupulously crossed.

Three years after President Bush took action, the words he spoke in early 2003, laying out the broad reasons and objectives, are accurately reflected as those i's and t's are dotted and crossed in the recently released Administration's National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.

Who do YOU want leading the country? A President who writes 500 page edited scripts before considering any action, or one who acts when necessary? A President who does not give the troops the support they need to mount a simple rescue operation of a downed Black Hawk helicopter, or one stays in the fight even while taking flak from his own rear echelon? A President who acts only when the political risks have been managed to death, or one who takes those risks before they become unmanageable?

I have been reading the National Strategy. It is clear, it is concise (38 pages in PDF format), it is comprehensive, it is consistent. And it is no different than what President Bush has been saying for three years.

I will post the quotes from Bush offered in the Strategy. These are not equivocal by any stretch of the imagination.

The Strategy is clear. The enemy must, will, be defeated. Iraq will be protected until she can stand on her own, with established democratic institutions and a fair chance to survive in the long term.

The Reason is clear. The Middle East is a vital strategic interest to America. Fostering democracy is the best means we have to establishing a free, peaceful, stable world. To fail is to crawl up behind two oceans and turn our back on the world. But remember, those two oceans didn't stop 9/11 from happening. We either work to make the world safer, or we resign ourselves and learn to accept anarchy and chaos.

The Means is clear. We will support Iraq in building a constitutional and representative government. We will provide for Iraq's security and help in creating her own security services.

Politically, we will isolate the enemy from those who can be won over by democratic processes, we will engage all who want to be a party to the political process, we will help build national institutions to create a society ruled by law, not the whims of tyrants.

Militarily, we will clear territory of enemy influence and control, we will hold that area with the ever-expanding Iraqi security forces, and we will build local institutions to secure the rule of law and civil society in those areas. And we will not stop until we succeed.

Economically, we will restore the economic infrastructure, we will reform the economic infrastructure from the legacy of the Tyrant to a modern self-sustaining one, we will build an infrastructure governed by the rule of law and one that improve the general welfare of all Iraqis.

Yes, these are "talking points". So what? Shouldn't we be talking about this?

Bush has put America's reputation on the line. Those that would lament that do not seem to understand that a reputation that is mere potential is merely nothing.

Max Boot:
   Weekly Columnist at the LA Times

Max Boot always writes good copy. In the past few weeks, he has taken the Democrats to task for their Flip-flopping (Kerry and Clinton take top honors) and their promotion of an Iraqi damn-the-consequences cut 'n run strategy, the "real" experts on the success of the Iraqi War (it's the Iraqis, stupid, voting with their feet), called on America to be honest with itself and start paying (and planning) our "liberal imperialism" since the end of the Cold War, criticized the French for their failed social system in the wake of the French riots (criticism not so different from what The Economist has been saying for years), and with respects to Plamegate, Boot exclaims what everyone knows but no one listens,

The problem here is that the one undisputed liar in this whole sordid affair doesn't work for the administration. In his attempts to turn his wife into an antiwar martyr, Joseph C. Wilson IV has retailed more whoppers than Burger King.

I have put Boot's weekly column on my Blogroll, even though it isn't a blog.

Happy reading!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Blah, blah, blah:
   MSM and Dems in cahoots and collusion, again

There has been a flurry of news reports the past week or so about the Iraqi government calling for a timetable on an American troop pullout and giving the Sunni insurgency a nod in acknowledging their "right of resistance".

Sounds a lot like what the Democrats are saying and makes one wonder if the Bush Administration is being left out of the cold.

Unfortunately, we are not getting the straight poop from "reputable" news sources. Here is what three of the big ones are saying.

CNN:Symptoms of withdrawal

The Administration's willingness to discuss removing forces from Iraq, where more than 2,100 Americans have died, followed a sharply worded statement from Iraqi leaders at an Arab League meeting in Cairo last week. The gathering of Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds not only demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops but also gave implicit support to the insurgency by calling resistance "a legitimate right," so long as it doesn't involve "terrorism and acts of violence" against civilians, institutions and houses of worship.

NYT: Iraqis Getting Together

"Iraqi Factions Seek Timetable for U.S. Pullout" is hardly the kind of headline the White House wants to read these days.

WaPost: In Cairo, Clarity on Iraq

So Iraq's Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds finally found something they can agree on. They are jointly demanding that the United States set a timetable for withdrawal of its troops from their country. That's hardly the rallying cry the Bush administration might have hoped for, but perhaps it could provide a base line for stabilizing Iraq.
After the Bush administration's mistakes in Iraq, it's not surprising that the Iraqis want liberation.

WaPost: Iraqi Leaders Call for Pullout Timetable

Iraqi leaders at a reconciliation conference reached out to the Sunni Arab community by calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces and saying the country's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance.

But, surprisingly, here is how al Jazeera sees it:

Iraqi leaders agree on resistance right

Iraqi politicians have saved a reconciliation conference in Cairo from collapse with a compromise language saying all peoples have a right to resist.

On Monday, all parties to the three-day meeting called by the Cairo-based Arab League agreed to the formula: "Resistance is a legitimate right of all peoples", said Mizhir al-Dulaimi, a Sunni Muslim from the west of Iraq.

Shaikh Imad Muhammad Ali, an official of the Sunni Muslim Iraqi People's Gathering, confirmed the agreement.

The Iraqi government, which depends on US military support, has opposed any language that could be interpreted as support for armed groups that are opposed to the US presence in Iraq and have been fighting to drive US-led troops out of the country.

Sunni Muslims opposed to the government have argued that US occupation is the root cause of the violence in Iraq and US troops should leave as soon as possible.

In the debate in Cairo, Iraqi government representatives conceded a theoretical right to resist occupation, but said that as elected representatives of the people, the government had decided to end foreign occupation gradually, as Iraq builds its own security forces to replace the foreign troops.


In an Aljazeera talk show recorded in Cairo on Monday, Hadi al-Amiri, chairman of the Badr Brigades, said the US withdrawal timetable depended on the security situation in Iraq. The Badr Brigades is the Iran-backed military wing of the Shia Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

"The conferees in Cairo were notified that, before asking for a US withdrawal timetable, there should be a timetable for building strong Iraqi armed forces," he said.

"When this timetable is achieved and implemented successfully, and Iraqi forces can tackle the security situation in Iraq properly, Iraqis can ask for a US withdrawal timetable."

Interior minister

Iraqi troops will be ready to take charge of security in the country by the end of next year, so this month's UN Security Council extension of the mandate for US-led forces in Iraq could be the last, the Interior Minister and senior SCIRI member, Bayan Jabr, said on Monday.

Speaking on Aljazeera, Jabr criticised attacks against foreign forces in Iraq, saying: "What is happening in Iraq has nothing to do with resistance but it is terrorism. They try to target an American tank and it [a bomb] could hit the target once but misses dozens of times and explodes in the middle of our people."

He said foreign troops should stay in Iraq until the country's security forces were trained and ready.

"By mid-next year, we will be 75% done in building our forces, and by the end of next year, it will be fully ready."


This month, the Security Council voted unanimously to extend the mandate of the nearly 180,000-strong US-led force in Iraq for a year, a decision the United States called a sign of the international commitment to Iraq's political transition.

"In my opinion, this is the last extension for coalition forces, then Iraq security forces will be in charge within Iraq," Jabr said.

He called fighters to join security forces to bring the withdrawal closer.

"I am asking you to tell them to join. I want to recruit 1200 members and I ask some of those who call themselves resistance fighters to come and join us in the National Unity battalion that includes, Kurds, Shabak, Yazidis, Shias and Sunnis and Turkmen," he said, referring to the country's different ethnic and religious groups.

My take is that 1) the timetable desired is one based on results, not calendars (that's Bush's line, not the Democrat's), 2) the theoretical right to resistance is one that every American acknowledges, and 3) the Iraqi government does not want an American troop withdrawal until after the Sunni insurgency is crushed, or at least until the Iraqi Army is ready to crush them on their own.

As al Jazeera quoted, "Iraqi government representatives conceded a theoretical right to resist occupation" and "What is happening in Iraq has nothing to do with resistance but it is terrorism". I don't see a specific acknowledgement of the right of the Sunni insurgency to take up arms against the duly elected Iraqi government. In American, the South tried that in 1860. This is no different and I don't see the Iraqi government justifying the attacks by the Sunni insurgents on Iraqi or American forces.

I don't know. Maybe I am being too cynical, too jaded, splitting too many hairs. But it seems that while the news organization that serves the Arab people and has been accused of being in bed with our enemies is offering facts, our own news organizations are still in feeding frenzies pouncing on any scrape of juicy and tawdry meat.