Post: Iraq: Reports From the Field--Us v. Them.
First, NRO's Thomas Smith interviews an Iraqi military officer on progress over there; well worth a look. Fred Kagan's 4-pager explains in detail why the "local US presence" strategy is working, whereas the earlier "small US footprint" strategy cannot work in Iraq.
Below, with names removed (and with formatting errors due to cutting and pasting from an e-mail--please forgive), is a forwarded message from one of our magnificent Marines serving so nobly in Iraq--consider this a war update par excellence:
This is from a
buddy of mine who I was a platoon commander with in the first
Gulf War. He is now a Lt. Colonel and commander of a battalion of Marines
(about 1000 troops).
Approaching two months now into this deployment (or "tour" as we say) so
I thought I would bring you up to speed on what's happening. I am well
aware that folks back home are throwing "Al Anbar" around in casual
conversation like it's a new sitcom. We have certainly had our share of
attention of late. Guess everyone loves a winner! I'll tell you (from
someone who has lived more time in Al Anbar than in any of my last four
houses in the States), that things are better than I could have ever
What's changed? Mostly Iraqi attitude. And the surge has helped.
Attitude. The people out here have simply decided "enough's enough".
They've had it with AQI's brutality on fellow Iraqis. I'm not
exaggerating when I say AQI has literally been chopping of fingers and
heads for too long. Most every Iraqi I talk to these days has had
someone, sometimes many members of their families killed or kidnapped by
AQI. So we are riding the wave of the "awakening" started by Sunni
tribal leaders over the last year or so (with no small amount of work by
the Marines). This more than anything has changed everything. "The enemy
of my enemy is my friend" kind of thing. So what has largely gone away
is what these guys used to refer to as the "honorable resistance" that
fought to get us out for years with AQI's assistance. When their
"common goal" became overshadowed by AQI's extremist islamist agenda and
tactics (and we didn't leave!), they turned. The realists among them, I
think, foresaw the stark difference between a Taliban-like future
dominated by AQI versus one with of potential prosperity with the help
of the Americans.
The manifestations of this in our area really just sprung up in the last
3-4 months and we have worked to expand it. But AQI wasn't giving up
without a fight. The Area of Operations (AO) we assumed was only partly
"pacified"--with the Sheikhs standing up and their men volunteering to
secure their own neighborhoods, and joining the police and army. We
also inherited areas that remained AQI sanctuary from where they
continued to attack and try to roll back the clock. What we have
essentially done in this first month and a half was clear out those
areas, hold them, and allow the fledgling (yet eager) volunteers and ISF
to step up. Which brings me to the surge.
Surge. While Baghdad got all the early press, we had a Marine surge in
Al Anbar as well. This has allowed us to finally stay in those areas we
cleared, and in so doing, give confidence to the fence sitters that we
would not leave them hanging as events in the past years forced us to
do. Ironically, the "new" strategy is not new for us. What General
Petreaus has advocated in Baghdad--get out and protect the populous, is
exactly what the 1st Marine Division did when we first came to Al Anbar
in 2004 ("No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy"). Unfortunately, what
started out well, soon was overcome by events such as Fallujah I,
Fallujah II, and the Samarra Mosque bombing which required us to move
forces from cleared areas to address these hotspots. In those early
years we didn't have the ISF to maintain security in great enough
numbers either. The areas we left became sanctuary and killing fields
for AQI and eventually we had to go back in and clear again. The extra
forces we've had over the last 9 months combined with the awakening of
the Sunni Tribes has allowed us to clear, hold, and build. The build is
what is truly key because with the improved security situation, we can
now put resources (ie. Money) against the basic needs of the people so
that they can actually see tangible results. This gives them incentive
to keep standing up and stay part of the security solution. It has also
provided a security and economic umbrella under which the Iraqi Security
Forces have been able to further grow and mature. In addition, it has
led to a resurgence of local governance to manage the daily processes of
life here. Still strongly organized around the tribes, we are leveraging
that historic organizational framework to forge government institutions
you'd be more familiar with (mayors, city councils, etc).
While there is still some fighting, it is a fraction of what it was only
months ago, and certainly nothing like my tours here in 2004-05 and
2006. This is hard data I'm sure you heard General Petreaus describe.
Still, you have to step out every day ready for the worst. Even the
youngest Marines in the Battalion walk this fine line between being
ready to kill and treating the Iraqi people with respect everyday. I am
very proud of their ability to grasp the fundamentals of
counter-insurgency--no easy task despite how much we trained for it. We
spend a lot of time patrolling the towns, villages, and farms--a lot of
it on foot, up close and personal. The heat is oppressive still (we have
yet to have a daytime temp below 104)! But we've had very little problem
adapting due to good leadership and planning at the lowest levels. I am
repeatedly impressed with the maturity and attitude of our Marines and
Sailors. I've watched them enter countless Iraqi homes, collect
information, ask about their needs, hand out sweets and school supplies,
and treat people with respect. The response from the locals is
overwhelmingly positive... they are so thankful that it is us knocking
and not AQI. The true sign that we are winning is the kids. I have been
all over this area in past tours and rarely saw a kid outside, and even
more rarely had any adult male do so much as glare back at you. Now
everyone waves, barefoot kids line every street and road when they see
us approach--clapping, giving thumbs up and dancing. It is reminiscent
of my travels through recently liberated southern Iraq in 2003. Even
young girls in their flowered dresses are out. Boys (and men too) can
often be seen swimming in the canals in the afternoon. I've been invited
to more meals than I could ever accept...even from the poorest of the
poor. Marine patrols are routinely served tea in Iraqi homes.
Despite the positive atmospherics, it remains sad to see how poor a lot
of these families are. Open sewage, mud floors, and limited electricity
is still common. A very basic existence for most. A father once brought
his three year old son to a Marine patrol base while I was there. No
telling how far he walked to get there. The kid was lifeless in his arms
with leukemia or some type of cancer. The Iraqi hospitals could do
nothing more for him and his last hope was that we could do something.
There was nothing we could do for him there, but I promised him I would
go and find out how we could get him some help soon. The kid died that
same day. But life goes on...In sh'allah...it is Gods will...as they
But for the first time, many Iraqis have told me they finally have hope
for a better future. No one expects even a fraction of what you and I
enjoy in America. But they see some light at the end of the tunnel. And
I guess that's what counts.
My company commanders and I spend an inordinate amount of time doing
"leader engagement". That is, meeting, greeting, and eating with our
local tribal, government, and security leaders. It is mind-numbing at
times. There are no short, business-like, get 'er done meetings in Iraq.
There is much talk, plenty of drama, but always with the best Arab
hospitality. It always takes hours, and often the real nugget is
whispered into your ear only as you are leaving. And doing this through
interpreters only increases the challenge. What's different for me on
this tour is seeing the tribal dynamic from the inside. Last year I
dealt mostly with Iraqi Army and Police organizations which were a
little more akin to what Marines are used to dealing with. Now I am
immersed in tribal mysteries with all of its twisted power and family
honor issues. What looks like one contiguous tract of land and people to
us, is really a very complex and intertwined maze of "fiefdoms", pecking
orders, rivalries, and agendas that make one's brain hurt. It's a
strange mix between Medieval Feudalism and the Godfather. As the link to
Coalition security and money--we are always the center of attention
wherever we go-- wooed, courted, lobbied, and patronized, and sometimes
directly challenged from all directions by anyone and everyone seeking
to gain access and favor for their interests. Money is power--it is the
carrot now more than the stick that is our weapon. Trying to figure out
who's who and what their agendas are while shaping things appropriately
for the future is the biggest challenge we face. Marines are still doing
Marine things, but embedded in each infantry mission (to include the
hundreds of squad level patrols) is economics, governance, human
relations, city management, agriculture, essential services, census
operations, police work, etc, etc. I'm relying some on the
counter-insurgency training we've done, but mostly on the fundamental
knack Marines seem to have for seeing every challenge as a problem to be
solved. They thrive on cracking the case, seeing behind the curtain, and
winning. It's too early to say how this will all turn out in the end.
But, for now, we'll keep moving the ball down the field as best we can.
I've rambled on far too long. So I'll leave it at that for now. Thanks
for all your prayers and support. Hope this gives you some ground truth
from one little neck of the woods over here.
Till the next time...Semper Fi.
Aren't we the luckiest people to have such grand folks representing us in an enterprise of great moment?
Iran has built its first indigenous combat aircraft, a fighter named Sa'eqeh (Farsi for "Lightning"). In reality, as this Weekly Standard assessment explains, it is a knock-off of America's fifty-year-old F-5, except that it borrows the tail design of our F/A-18 Hornet. Iran's flacks called the fighter "more powerful" than the F/A-18 and declared that the recent flight test "scared Iran's enemies." Probably not nearly as much as it scared Iran's test pilots. How would you like to be the Persian Chuck Yeager sent up to engage an F/A-22 in an airplane older than Barack Obama?
On-air news reports have Hofstra University signing up attorney Lynn Stewart to teach a one-month legal ethics course. Stewart was recently convicted of aiding terrorist groups while representing defendants in 1990s terror trials. Hofstra's rationale: Stewart will be an example of what not to do. Let's see: How about inviting O.J., who has a long list of things he is an authority on as to what not to do?
NY Sun columnist Hillel Halkin informs us that a French appeals court has ordered France-2 to turn over to the Court its entire 27-minutes of footage from which it produced the 45-second fable about Israel killing a 12-year-old Palestinian boy allegedly named Muhammad al-Dura on September 30, 2000, just at the start of the Second intifada. The video stunned the world and put Israel on the defensive. Several independent investigations have concluded that the video footage was staged by the Palestinians--with knowledge of France-2. Should the full video ever become public, the manipulative dishonesty of the press as to Palestinian events will become common knowledge. The odds still are against it, but perhaps we will get lucky. The Court will review the tape in November, behind closed doors.
I watched the "Main Event" live--no, not the sideshow at the UN, where hot air predominates always, but rather the Big Show at Columbia. My report follows.
Columbia President Lee Bollinger surprised me by really lacing into Ahmadinejad in a way I hardly expected. But Iran's Prez ducked every question, and assailed what he claimed was lack of manners and also attempting to make up the mind of the students before the speaker speaks. A clever dodge indeed. He played the part of a visiting professor, discussing, ex cathedra, philosophy, academia, material and spiritual aspects of the learning process. Hearing a devout believer in returning the entire planet to a ninth-century version of militant Islam speak of "the darkness of ignorance" is rich indeed.
Despite a performance by President Bollinger far better than I anticipated, I fear that Iran's Prez won--merely by showing up and getting polite applause upon being introduced. His real audience is not here, but dissidents inside Iran. The message I fear they are getting is this: America, and one of its leading universities, accorded him the respect of a platform to speak. This likely demoralizes those in Iran, by conferring, however unintentionally on Columbia's part, a measure of legitimacy upon Iran's Prez.
I plead guilty to convicting President Bollinger in advance, of preparing a Giant Suck-Up. That, thank God, and to Bollinger's credit, did not happen. (Reports attribute this to alumni pressure, but still, let's give him a little credit for doing the right thing.)
For his part, Iran's Prez is delivering a rambling philosophical discourse. But wait, after about 15 minutes, he now is protesting the NSA wiretap program!! In the midst of a soporific speech, now he goes on to WMD and blames the "big powers" for abuse of science in creating WMD!!! He now claims adverse environmental and health effects from our using depleted uranium munitions in Iraq. (DU is essential to penetrate modern armor.)
Citing his main job as being a university professor (!!!!), he asks why he got "a wave of insults and allegations" coming from those who proclaim most to believe in freedom of speech and information. He slips into "boilerplate" mode: He refers then to Palestinian misery, blaming Israel for all the human disasters there. He asks two questions: (1) Given that the Holocaust is a reality of our time, why is there not sufficient research that can approach the topic from different perspectives, whose adherents in Europe have been sent to prison? (2) Given this history, if it is reality, we shouldn't we still ask whether the Palestinian people should pay for crimes they did not commit?
Next, he fires off a salvo: Iran is an IAEA member and thus permitted to have a "peaceful" nuclear program. Even IAEA cannot prevent such rights from being exercised. We are co-operating with the IAEA. They have reported Iran's activities as peaceful (!!!!!). Economic sanctions are hurting Iran. Do not use "human rights" and "freedom" to interfere in Iran's internal affairs. "We are a peaceful [sic] loving nation. We love all nations."
The Question Period
Destruction of Israel. Asked to give a yes or no, Iran's Prez says that the questioner is giving the answer, and then rambles about the Palestinians again.
Terrorism and Iran. He calls Iran "a victim of terrorism." He jumps to alleged US support for Kurdish "terrorism" in Iran, launched from within Iraq.
Further "research" on the Holocaust. He reiterates the need for perpetual "progress of science and knowledge" on researching the question. He cites the lack of "absolutes" in physics and science, and infers that the same could happen as to the Holocaust.
"Draconian" punishments of women and execution of homosexuals. He asserts that outside government distorts the truth about freedom, citing Iran's 80 to 90 percent "election" turnouts. (Iran's "elections" are for a slate of candidates pre-approved by the supreme religious authorities.) Iran, he says, has, just like the US, capital punishment. He says "We don't have homosexuals in Iran, like in your country." A chorus of boos come from astonished students.
What he wanted to accomplish at Columbia. He returns to scolding Bollinger over the pasting he delivered at the start of the lecture.
What he would have said at Ground Zero, site of the "tragedy" of 9/11. He says that he wanted to show his "respect" and "sympathy" for the families. (Yeeech!!!!) Could our skepticism be due to our knowing that Iran has long aided al-Qaeda (even sanitizing 8 or 9 passports of the 9/11 hijackers, as reported by the 9/11 Commission)?
Why Iran seeks to acquire enriched uranium. He (again) cites Iran's "completely peaceful" program--with fuel enriched below 5 percent, and thus purely commercial purposes. If the US has "fifth-generation" nuclear weapons, how can Iran's peaceful program be questioned?
Whether Iran is prepared to open negotiations with the US, and what might result. He states that Iran is ready to negotiate with all countries. He cites two exceptions: the (now-defunct) apartheid regime and South Africa, and the "Zionist regime in Israel."
Iran's Prez concludes by inviting Columbia faculty and students to Iran to speak with their Iranian counterparts. Former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton states on Fox News after the event that no US group will get this kind of forum in Iran.
Bottom Line. Despite a better performance than I expected from Bollinger the event was unfortunate, because it in some measure legitimates Iran's status while it wages war against us. The news report of the Iran News Agency underscores what Bollinger failed to grasp. It reports that Ahmadinejad got a standing ovation (apparently, he did in fact get several--were there plants in the audience?) and received from Bollinger an introduction that "they would have the chance to hear Iran's stands as the Iranian President would put them forth." Oh yes, Iran's Prez told the students that "Iranians are a peace-loving nation, they hate war, and all types of aggression." Except the aggression they are conducting inside Iraq right now (having spurned the negotiations that last December's Iraq Surrender Group report told us they would favor us with in pursuit of our presumed common interest in bringing stability to Iraq....)
Let's give Jay Leno the last word, describing Iran's Prez as "Ahmadinutjob."
In the wake of the recent Blackwater atrocity, when private guards opened fire without cause on Iraqi civilians and killed an estimated eight, columnist Ralph Peters advises the government to "lose the mercenaries." Peters attributes this to under-funding for our armed forces, leaving us hiring private contractors whose guards are free of strict military discipline--in his words, we "'outcourced' the work to thugs, vultures and cons." And despite rotten performance, companies get new contracts.
Worse, we shelter the guilty from local legal process. Peters also suggests that we not protect such folks from local justice. He is right on all counts. For its part, the Iraqi government plans to file criminal charges. They should, and we should get out of their way on this one. Yes, there is the argument that Iraqi courts do not confer due process rights that Americans get in the US of A, but that is outweighed by harm to our mission done by denying local courts authority. The Washington Post reports on repeated rebuffing by the US of Iraqi efforts to reign in Blackwater. Reign them in.
A war on terror is a hybrid, in that while it is a war it relies on law enforcement resources to a significant degree, in protecting the homeland. There are 700,000 cops versus about 12,000 FBI agents. The first contact terrorists inside the US, once having crossed our border, are likely to have is with local authorities. LA top cop William Bratton (former chief of NYPD for Rudy's first two years) and policing expert George Kelling enlighten us with their thoughts on these matters.
A Wall Street Journal editorial brings up one of those inside-the-Beltway tussles that can seriously harm the quality of vital services, yet is unknown to most Americans: foot-dragging on confirmation of federal appeals judicial nominees. In Jimmy Carter's last two years the Senate confirmed 17 nominees per year; only 3 nominees have been confirmed this year. Consider the plight of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, a panel that has handled several key terror case appeals. Only 10 of 15 seats on the court are occupied. One Fourth Circuit vacancy has gone unfilled for five years.
There is a pernicious, subtle impact, one I had not even thought of before: With only 10 members the Fourth Circuit cannot issue en banc (law-French for "in bench") rulings, which entail the entire set of judges sitting as a group to re-hear the case (such a hearing is solely a matter of judicial discretion--there is not entitlement to such review). A recent Guantanamo detention ruling by a panel of three Fourth Circuit judges case that went against the Administration cannot be reviewed en banc, because the 10-judge total is too low for such review to be available.
This is a hard issue to bring before a public unschooled in the minutiae of judicial appointments and arcane court rules. President Bush seems unlikely to raise the matter. But Republican candidates for 2008 should raise it--loudly and often, in the general election. Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson, as legal-eagles, are especially well-qualified to discuss this issue and explain it to voters. Perhaps equally important is to raise it at the Senatorial level, as the mater of confirmation ultimately rests with senators.
The best form to raise it is to ask Senators and Presidential candidates to take this pledge: "If elected I will support a passage of a law requiring that judicial confirmation votes be taken within one year of nomination. If a nominee becomes ill, withdraw the name. Any investigation not complete at that time is terminated. One permissible 30-day waiver for last-minute disclosures. Then it is time to vote: Up or down."
Columbia, whose decline began in the 1960s when student radicals were allowed to take over the campus, has hit a new low. It has invited Iranian president Ahmadinejad, with its President, Lee Bollinger, proclaiming:
“It should never be thought that merely to listen to ideas we deplore in any way implies our endorsement of those ideas, or the weakness of our resolve to resist those ideas, or our naiveté about the very real dangers inherent in such ideas. It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their voices. To hold otherwise would make vigorous debate impossible.”
Really? Pundit Bill Kristol notes that such broad-mindedness doesn't apply to allowing ROTC on Columbia's campus. Kristol also notes that challenging Ahmadinejad over his Hitlerian views has the effect of treating them as legitimate alternative perspectives, instead of unspeakable evil. Take the argument one step further. Would Bollinger, in the spirit of open debate, invite an Aryan Nation speaker who advocates genocide against blacks? Or would he invite an extremist evangelical who advocates a crusade to destroy Islam? Sure. And O.J. will find the real killer someday.
Napoleon's storied 1806 victory at Jena, Prussia was one of his greatest triumphs. Mounting political reaction to the Jena, Louisiana inter-racial assault case bids fair to go down as another American defeat on race. It will further poison not only the nation's badly-frayed race relations, but even contaminate a Presidential campaign. The facts of the case are simple enough: black students at a small school in a rural Louisiana parish, in a school where there was much self-segregation of the races (as is true at many schools and colleges) occupied space under a tree that had been a place where white students congregated. Fair enough, as the white students didn't own the space, and thus all students had an equal legal right to use the space. In response, one or more whites played a crude racial prank, clandestinely putting nooses on the tree, to evoke earlier days when blacks' fear of lynching by whites was based upon very real dangers. This led to protracted racial violence at the school, and ultimately, to six black students violently assaulting a white student, for which they were prosecuted, and one student convicted.
Enter racial passion. Blacks in the local community protest the conviction as unfair. Apparently, violently assailing someone--who may not even have been involved with hanging the nooses, somehow mitigates criminal violence in response to a crude gesture. There were many other fights, and depending on the circumstances and on how badly people were hurt it may well be that prosecution is warranted in some of those.
Enter, as ever, racial arsonist Jesse Jackson, accusing Barack Obama of "acting like he's white." This compounds earlier complaints from "civil rights" leaders who note that Obama is half-Caucasian, and thus is not "black enough." Jackson, as usual (as he did in Florida in 2000) evoked Selma, Alabama yet again, as if there is any serious resemblance between the vicious assaults on blacks in Selma, exclusion from school and lunch counters, segregated restrooms, official racism, etc., and this case.
In 2007 school authorities are incapable of controlling violence. Parents in the community stoke passions, instead of demanding that violence never be condoned. And now the racial grievance industry and a presidential bid are entangled in the matter, guaranteeing further fraying of the nation's tattered racial fabric. Obama, to his credit, has been more moderate in his comments that the Reverend Jesse, who rarely misses an opportunity to inflame racial passion, in contemptuous disregard of its poisoning further a social issue that is already poisoned more then enough. But this will prove Obama's Waterloo, if he cannot continue to resist such calls. The nation's first African-American with a decent chance to win his party's Presidential nod must present himself not as a "black" or "white" candidate, but as a candidate for all constituencies.
In sum, what must we learn from this mess?
1. No violent response to a racist prank can be tolerated. The crude prankster(s) should be punished--in the case, he or they should have been expelled, as an example to others. But punishment is the province of school authorities. A peaceful demonstration is a proper response to such events, not violence.
2. Anyone who is intimidated by a stupid crude joke lacks the resilience to make it in life. Young people must be taught that being insulted racially does not excuse violence. They must be counseled as to how to respond positively and constructively to such wrongs. Instead of black students and their parents whining about how they are being scarred with reminders of wrongs past, how about their expressing pity for such a pathetic, sick joke, and resolving that the best answer by their children to such moronic insults is for them to excel?
3. Political and community leaders have a responsibility, above all, to use their influence to tamp down violence and racial passion. The obligation to refrain from unlawful violence must be impressed upon students of all races, with no double standards excusing minority violence.
A society that cannot enforce minimal rules barring violent self-help and that condones, even encourages, the amplification of racial resentment, is a society headed for more trouble.
The latest Reuters/Zogby poll shows that Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have hit upon the right strategy--reflexive obstructionism and vicious character assassination--to thwart President Bush. Bush's standing is now 29 percent. Congress? It surpasses it all-time low 14 percent registered this summer. It is now at an 11 percent approval rating. So, Congress has managed to get a plus rating barely one-third that of a President whose poll numbers are among the lowest ever recorded for a President since modern polling surveys have been carried out ( modern polls made their debut during the Truman Administration).
Blogger Michael Totten reports from Anbar after the assassination of its brilliant tribal leader. the locals are now even more strongly with us. Enjoy text and images--the site visit is worth it for the look on the faces of the Iraqi children in the photos. On the down (way down) side, read this disturbing account of an unprovoked shooting by employees of Blackwater, a civilian contractor, in Baghdad last Sunday, that has angered (very understandably) the locals, and led U.S. authorities to confine civilians to the Green Zone.
An acquaintance of mine lived in Iraq in 1985. and found it nearly impossible to get Iraqis to chat with him. Living in what was called a "Republic of Fear" by a leading Iraqi dissident (Kanan Makiya, author of a book with that title), people were so afraid of Saddam's Stalinist thugs that they would not even wish to be seen with Americans on the street. It was that broken society that we encountered in 2003, in far worse shape than we had thought.
Let one of our magnificent soldiers have the last word:
"We’re learning to use local conflict resolution strategies,” said Colonel John Charlton. “Living with Iraqis every day helps us understand local culture. We’ve actually become attached to these people on a personal level. We feel responsible for their safety. We’re concerned about what will happen to our Iraqi friends if we don’t succeed in this country.
Its baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!!! Like Godzilla risen from the depths and advancing, not towards Tokyo, but the West Coast of the US of A. Entitlement expert Peter Ferrara has the clandestine details of how HillaryCAre II will kill private health insurance, in the guise of preserving choice. The devil here really is in details not easily compressed, so read the five pages and be afraid, be very afraid.
Daniel Pipes, expert on militant Islam, poaches on his distinguished father Richard's territory--Russia--and writes about a revelation confirming the thesis of a fascinating book, Foxbats Over Dimona, released last Spring. The book, by two Israeli journalists, sifts through a complex mosaic of evidence that points to the USSR having fomented the 1967 Mideast War. It seems the Soviets feared Israel going nuclear, and wanted to create an excuse to bomb Israel's reactor at Dimona. So they fed Egypt's pan-Arabist pro-Soviet thug, Nasser, dezinformatzia ("disinformation") that led Nasser to decide to bluff Israel into thinking Egypt intended to attack. The plan was that as soon as Israel struck, the Soviets would (a) bomb the reactor and (b) invade Israel. Yes, invade Israel.
But Israel struck too quickly, and the plan was O.B.E., causing the Soviets to abandon their plans. One part of the plan, however, was carried out: a daring Mach-3 pass by the new MiG 25-RB "Foxbat" (NATO assigns code words for Russian aircraft beginning with "F" for fighters and "B" for bombers.) , the reconnaissance version of what became the USSR's fastest plane ever, a highly unusual aircraft. (The interceptor model was designed to shoot down the American B-70 Valkyrie high-altitude Mach-3 bomber, canceled before the Foxbat's first flight. (Check out these sites describing two fantastic aircraft, the MiG-25 Foxbat and the B-70 Valkyrie.) Read Pipes's item, and buy the book to enjoy a terrific detective story, detailing how the authors decoded the sequence of events four decades ago.
In nominating federal Judge Michael Mukasey for Attorney-General, President Bush has done what he should have done in 2005, when John Ashcroft left. The good judge is tops on the merits, almost impossible to defeat in a confirmation battle that Pat Leahy wants but probably cannot instigate, and is aces up on terror war issues. NRO's Andy McCarthy, himself a great prosecutor, explains how superb the Judge is. NY Post columnist John Podhoretz details how the judge's personal experience contains surprises--unpleasant--for Islamists. Watch the nomination video with 43 & the nominee at their best. If Leahy, Arlen Specter, Russ Feingold think that they will win a public debate with Judge Mukasey on wiretapping, bring it on!!!!
Ed Whelan, whose "Bench Memos" for NRO is unfailingly informative and who, as a former Supreme Court law clerk, has a legal mind as sharp as Occam's Razor, highlights a pair of rulings, before and after a Congressional amendment to child custody laws, that show the Judge faithfully applying the law in both cases, despite different case outcomes. (Because there may be more postings on Ed's NRO blog by the time you visit, you may need to scroll down to find his nugget on Judge Mukasey.)
Judge Mukasey served as an assistant A-G in the Nixon Administration. He said of then versus now:
I said a moment ago that the challenges the Department faces are vastly different from those we confronted 35 years ago. Less than a week ago, we marked a solemn anniversary that reminds us, if we need reminding, of how different those challenges are. Thirty-five years ago, our foreign adversaries saw widespread devastation as a deterrent; today, our fanatical enemies see it as a divine fulfillment.
Let the good Judge have the last word.
Wall Street Journal columnist-editor Bret Stephens, formerly editor of the Jerusalem Post offers strong reason to believe that Israel's September 6 strike into Syria took out a nuclear facility. Israel would not be silent if it hit a weapons cache intended for Hezbollah, as disclosure would revel Syrian violations of UN resolutions stemming from last summer's war. Syria would want to publicize aggression if its facility were not a deep dark secret. And the silence of Arab regimes, in the wake of a Jewish state's air strike against an Arab country, is deafening. Silence in Turkey, too. Syria has been receiving "technical assistance" from (who else?) North Korea. Besides WMD, what useful technical advice can the world's most backward regime give?
Massachusetts, embarrassed at having elected a solid, sane Governor, reverted to type and elected Deval Patrick, the "Quota King" of the Clinton years (nominated after Lani Guinier, just as lefty, went down). Patrick somehow became Governor, and on September 121 outdid himself, as Mark Steyn recounts with his trademark wit. But savor Patrick's comment on 9/11 + 6, that 9/11, which he termed "a mean and nasty and bitter attack" on the US, "was also a failure of human beings to understand each other, to learn to love each other." As Dan Quayle once said: "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."
OK, I promise not to make a habit of posting comment on un-OK O.J. But what could be a more delicious juxtaposition that his almost-book ("If I Did It"--now with a sub-title, "Confessions of a Killer") released by the Goldmans (yes, I do feel sympathy for their loss), and O.J. facing charges in a Vegas sports memorabilia altercation? One thing for sure, O.J. learned little from his many months in court, about not talking to police without a lawyer present. He placed himself at the scene of the crime, admitted there was an altercation and admitted taking stuff. Yeah, he said the stuff was mostly his, and that he took some other stuff by mistake, and that he had just met his lowlife associates at a wedding cocktail party, and that "nobody was roughed up"and that he was conducting his own "sting...."
Juice faces trial in a jurisdiction much different from downtown La-La Land. If O.J is convicted, at sentencing the judge can take into account the civil verdict for wrongful death, as a factor in deciding the sentence. (It need not be a criminal conviction for the judge to consider it as a factor; civil tort liability will do just fine.) The Juice could find himself spending the rest of his life "searching for the real killer" in stir, and not on the golf courses of Florida.
Bottom Line: a classic low-life transaction. No angels in sight. Juice will have to do some fancy broken-field running to get another tee-off time. Let Mark Fuhrmann have the last word. Calling O.J. "A thug who can play football Fuhrmann summed it up elegantly: "He's too stupid to be walking around."
BTW, here is the un-censored tape of O.J.'s "sting"--keep the kids in the next room if you run it, as it will not sound like General Petraeus testifying.
Health care maven Betsy McCaughey smacks the American Cancer Society for announcing that it plans to push for universal health care in 2008, instead of spending its funds on anti-smoking ads and the like. Yet the U.S. health care system outperforms all others in treating cancer, catching cancers earlier and treating them better. Betsy McCaughey's piece gives the metrics of a major international survey of cancer treatment around the world. An excellent primer on cancer care.
An excellent 6-pager in The Weekly Standard examines the history of anti-Semitism among Arabs, and how 9/11 was prompted in part by this scourge. This is a factor the 9/11 Commission Report ignored, preferring to focus on American Mideast policy instead.
It seems I jumped the gun yesterday in reporting that Alan Greenspan said in his just-released memoirs that Bush went to war for oil, implying 43 lied. Greenspan now says his passage was misinterpreted. Upon seeing it on a TV screen, I have concluded it was. He believes the Iraq War is ultimately about oil, but did not intend to accuse 43 of lying. My apologies to Mr. Alan (Not Cindy) Greenspan.
Happy Constitution Day!!! It's the 220th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787.
4 posts: (1) 9/11: The Mastermind's Confession--Us v. Them; (2) 9/11 +6: American Attitudinal Adjustments--The Home Front; (3) Europe: The War For the Islamic Waverers--Weenie Watch; (4) Kerry Bucks Baker, Backs Bush! "Cindy" Greenspan Does a Brutus--The Home Front.
The Pentagon released an unclassified version of the 26-page transcript of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad's confession to a military tribunal. The Combat Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) was convened Mmarch 10, 2007. Thus, KSM's testimony was given in open court, not upon his being (reportedly) waterboarded in Pakistan shortly after his 2003 capture. At the outset, the judge explains to KSM what his rights are in the CSRT hearing. Detainees have these rights before a CSRT: to be present at all open session, given good behavior; to testify or to refuse to testify, either under oath or unsworn, at detainee's option; to present evidence to the tribunal; to examine unclassified documents or statements introduced into evidence; to have a personal representative (a lay adviser, not defense counsel). These don't equate to full formal criminal law due process, but they compare favorably, to say the least, with rights (zilch, right?) accorded detainees held by al-Qai'da. Asked by the presiding judge if he had any questions about his rights or the proceeding, KSM answered: "Okay by me."
The Pentagon redacted for the video release KSM's own account of how he killed Daniel Pearl and also where KSM compared himself to George Washington. But the online written version of the transcript includes this stuff. My favorite part is when KSM says, right at the end, after noting that war started when Cain killed Abel (KSM's syntax preserved exactly): "American start the Revolutionary War then they starts the Mexican and then Spanish War and then World War One, World War Two. You read the history." Sounds like he studied history at one of our K-12 public schools.
The American Enterprise Institute's superb AEI Political Report (not posted yet online) surveys American attitudes on war issues. Four sets of numbers are unusually noteworthy. (As to who is currently winning the war, numbers are also provided for the US and its allies combined, without any breakdown.) In 2001, 53 percent felt the West was winning, whereas in 2007 the figure is 29 percent; of the 24-point drop, 11 percent went into the "terrorists are winning" column and 15 percent into "neither side" (rounding puts total over 100%). Interestingly, in 2006 the "we are winning" number went up to 38 percent from 2005's 35 percent. Yet 2006 was the year Iraq descended into the Hobbesian Hell of raging sectarian conflict.
Back to American respondents only, for the last three items. A June 2007 poll shows Americans by 49 percent versus 40 percent agreeing that the "war on terror" really is a war. Independents track these numbers closely, splitting 49 - 43 in favor. Republicans, predictably, responded 76 - 17 in favor. Democrats, equally predictably, responded negatively. It is the percentage margin that shocks: By 56 - 31 Democrats do not regard the war as a real one. No wonder they want the troops home!
The third question covers civil liberties. In 2001, 55 percent of Americans agreed that it would be "necessary" to surrender civil liberties as part of the war. Since then the number of Americans agreeing has ranged from 49 percent in 2002 to 38 percent in 2004 (when John Kerry ran a campaign stressing threats he saw to civil liberties). The 2007 number is 40 percent.
Finally, in August 2007 Americans were asked which candidate could best handle the war in Iraq. Rudy Giuliani topped the tally at 14 percent, followed by 10 percent each for Fred Thompson and Hillary Clinton, 9 percent for Barack Obama, 7 percent each for John McCain and Joe Biden and 5 percent for John Edwards. How John McCain, a certified war hero and having based his campaign on persevering in Iraq, finished in a tie for fifth is a mystery. How Barack Obama, lacking any foreign policy experience, and having committed a trifecta of major gaffes in July (on Pakistan, nukes and Afghanistan) finished ahead of McCain (and Biden, for that matter), simply beggars the imagination.
Oxford Professor of European Studies Timothy Garton Ash warns his fellow Europeans that Europe is now a front line in the war against Islamist terror. He sees as critical the 10 percent of young Muslims who Germans call the sympathisanten--the sympathizers. These are youth who waver between legitimate society and entrance into the terror underground, where the one percent hardcore seduce them. Ash recalls the terror of the late 1970s, when by a narrow margin the waverers tipped into normal careers. The danger, he counsels, is greater now, and the outcome more uncertain. Ash believes that Europe can prevail, but admonishes that "we had better shape up to it."
Extra! Extra! John Kerry and John McCain appeared on Meet the Press, and engaged in a superb half-hour debate on Iraq. Both spoke very well. But the Big News: Kerry said (a) "Iran loves our being bogged down in Iraq"; and (b) "We should have an enduring relationship [with Iraq]." Kerry's first statement sinks Jim Baker's December 2006 Iraq Surrender Group idea that Iran shares a common interest with the U.S. and other regional players in a stable Iraq. Kerry's second statement endorses President Bush's position in Thursday's nationwide address that American troops will be in Iraq for a long time, and that we will have a deal with the Iraqis to that effect. Kerry is right on both counts.
Meanwhile, Alan Greenspan's memoirs go on sale today. Greenspan, a distinguished public servant, has now given a raspberry to the man who gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. AG repays 43 by accusing 43 of going to war for oil. In essence, AG is saying, like Cindy Sheehan, "Bush lied, people died." AG also knocks the Moveon.org ad off center stage (but, in poetic justice, O.J. does the same to AG). And this comes after AG's failure to see, during his tenure, the sub-prime mortgage risk to the economy. No Class. Next: Cindy for Fed Chairman?
6 posts: (1) Belgium: The Next Velvet Divorce?--Weenie Watch; (2) Nuke Facilities in Syria?--Us v. Them; (3) Russia: Daddy-Bomb and Baby Bomb--Weenie Watch; (4) NY Times: Subsidizing Moveon's McCarthyism--MSM Murders; (5) Immigration: Activist Child Abuse--The Home Front; (6) A Scrooge Election: Advice for the Candidates--Cyber-Serendip.
Guess what may be coming to a screen near you? Belgium has been without a government since June 10 elections that split sharply along sectarian lines. Flemings and Walloons, it seems, dislike one another a great deal. An NY Sun editorial provides the details.
Israeli intelligence believes that North Korea and Iran are helping Syria go nuclear. Syrian officials are pressuring Bashir Assad to retaliate for this week's night raid by the Israeli Air Force, detailed here, targeting weapons sent illegally to Syria (in violation of UN Security Council Resolution1 701, which bars re-supplying arms to Syria or Iranian factions within Lebanon).
Russia announced it has tested the world's most powerful non-nuclear bomb. Designers dubbed it FOAB--Father Of All Bombs, a dig at America's MOAB--Massive Ordinance Air Blast, but colloquially the "M" standing for Mother and OAB the same as the Russian model. It is four times more powerful than ours and generates, at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, twice the heat. It weighs 7 tons but packs the equivalent of 11 tons of TNT. It yields an explosion equivalent to 44 metric tons of TNT--about 50 tons, It creates a fireball 2,000 yards wide, and the resulting blast wave destroys everything within a three-mile radius and causes deafness within a four-mile radius. Everything within the 3-mile circle is effectively vaporized. The device was dropped by the world's heaviest combat plane, a TU-160, code-named Blackjack by NATO.
On the "kinder, gentler" side the Governor of Ulyanovsk Province (named for Vladimir Ilich Ulyanov, better known to history as Lenin), has for the third year in a row proclaimed September 12 "Sex Day." The idea: Boost Russia's declining birthrate by encouraging couples to make love, not war. A prize goes to all families with babies born the following June 12. This year the prize was a jeep. Next year it may be a free apartment. We will know it is working when "The Bradyski Bunch" airs.
The New York Post reports that its rival, the Times, gave Moveon.org a steep discount in running the "Will Petraeus Betray Us?" obscenity on Wednesday. A Post staffer anonymously called the Gray Lady and was given $167,000 for a comparable ad. Moveon paid $65,000, roughly a 60 percent discount. The original, odious Senator Joseph McCarthy earned his place in history by accusing people of being Communists, without regard to who was guilty (some were) and who was not (some were indeed innocent). Moveon has gone a step further, and leveled totally egregious, false charges against a man who is revered in military circles for his character and well as his competence. Civilians owe him no less.
In placing such an appalling, defamatory ad, Moveon has given top Democrats a serious headache. Either they disavow an ad most Americans find repellent, and hurt themselves in raising funds from Moveon and like-minded givers, or they fail to condemn, and anger lots of voters. For the General the ad is an injustice that slights his decades of distinguished public service. For the Democrats and their media allies this is truly poetic justice, as this hit was planned with knowledge of Democratic Party leaders, who figured that they could not risk directly attacking Petraeus this way (though some came close), but could smear him by proxy and escape accountability. Rest assured that Mitch McConnell and his merry men will not let this happen. Republicans running for the Presidency have already brought it up. They must continue to do so during the campaign, so that the full price for McCarthyism from the Left is exacted from the Left's chosen candidates.
Democrats point to a 30-second ad run by Republican Senatorial candidate Saxby Chambliss in his 2002 race against Max Cleland, in which they allege Chambliss questioned Cleland's patriotism. The ad does not question Cleland's patriotism, but it does question his judgment (OK) and his courage (NOT OK). Cleland, a triple amputee, made an extraordinary life for himself. He deserved better from his opponent. But the ad, unlike Moveon's outrage, does not accuse Cleland of betrayal, which implies treason. The ad, in sum, is unfair, but not obscene. This website has the ad. Simply scroll down a few paragraphs.
A few weeks ago Elvira Arrellano, twice having entered America as an illegal, was deported to Mexico. Her eight-year-old American-born son, Saul, was left behind in Chicago with Elvira's activist buddies. For her part, Elvira staged a press conference before she was deported. This past week her activist friends took her son to Capitol Hill to lobby Congress on immigration issues. Cameras caught Saul, trapped in a rugby scrum in a corridor in the Capitol building, crying, then screaming, with a frightened look on his face, obviously wishing he were anywhere else on the planet.
What should we do? I vote for: (1) inviting Elvira back for a third visit; (2) indicting her for child abuse; (3) if she is convicted, jailing her and then deporting her upon release; (4) if she is acquitted, deporting her as an undesirable; (5) placing her abused son in a foster home, pending permanent adoption by parents who do not view their children as instrument of their political causes.
The Daily Telegraph (UK)advises readers on 50 ways to be more frugal. This has grand possibilities for our 2008 campaign season. Herewith LFTC's own "Frugality Guide" to the candidates (and to some possible candidates). Frugality need not be monetary.
Al Gore: Fly small corporate jets only.
John Edwards: $200 haircut ceiling.
Barack Obama: One Oprah fundraiser per month.
Hillary Clinton: Asian-American campaign fundraising limited to 4 percent of total (equals estimated Asian-American share of the US population).
Rudy Giuiliani: One "Here's how I did the impossible in New York" reference per debate.
Mitt Romney: One over-practiced candidate smile per questioner.
John McCain: One "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb bomb Iran" song per month.
Fred Thompson: One late-night talk-show appearance per month.
Mayor Mike (Bloomberg): One-percent limit of his total assets for a campaign war-chest (still exceeds $50 million).
Posts: (1) Iran 1980: What If It Had Been Tehran One?--Us v. Them; (2) Hollywood and Fine--The Home Front; (3) Moderate Muslims: Rising and Shining--Us v. Them; (4) Big Brother WAS Watching and IS Remembered, Not Fondly--Cyber-Serendip; (5) Under Fire Down Under--Weenie Watch; (6) Asia's Flat-Top Frenzy and Emerging Alliance--Us v. Them.
Plowing through a mountain of materials for my book, I stumbled upon a wonderful anecdote told by author Jed Babbin, in a recent article. It concerns the architect of Stealth technology, the late Ben Rich, and the 1980 Iran hostage rescue mission. Rich had an idea as to how a surprise rescue might have been done, a plan far more elegant than the cumbersome plan that resulted in a wreck at Desert One. In addition to rocket packs (RATO: Rocket-Assisted Take-Off) mounted on the rear of the super-versatile C-130 Hercules military transport plane (a 4-prop, land anywhere war-horse), a second RATO pack is placed facing forward. Land the special C-130 on a street in Tehran, firing the forward RATO pack to stop the plane on the proverbial dime, right in front of the embassy, escorted overhead by fighter jets. Out pop our Special Ops, who storm the embassy and kill the captors, then free the surviving hostages. They spirit the hostages off to the C-130, which fires the remaining RATO to take off rapidly. Imagine what a movie that would have made!!!!!
An actress and mother who chose a nom de cyber to avoid ruffling feathers in "Leninwood" gives director Brian de Palma a much-needed civics lesson over his anti-war film, much heralded at the Venice Film Festival. De Palma's is one of eight--yes, eight--anti-war screeds coming to America's screens between now and the 2008 election.
The sixth anniversary of 9/11 carries other marks of Americana: legalism. A 9/4 New York Times front-pager informs us that the original 95 lawsuits against the government, the airlines and security companies have, been whittled down to 41. defendants, it will be argued, should have anticipated the attacks. Two trials are set, one begins Sept. 24 and the other begins Oct. 15. In an unusual move, the judge is having the first state trials address liability, with the liability phase to come later. His stated objective is to encourage a settlement. Meanwhile, a 9/4 Washington Post story recounts a lawsuit targeting the Saudi Binladin Group, a more appropriate target. The Saudi firm says that Osama was bounced from the company, with no parachute, in 1993. Stay tuned.
But there is good news. A major movement of moderate Muslims known as LibForAll has a website and a cause. Columnist Mona Charen has the happy details on NRO. Indonesia's largest Muslim group (40 million members) has signed up, as has the country's favorite rock star (don't laugh, they reach kids). Nice to hear, and let's hope more such groups spring up. Here is the final communique from the Bali conference:
Religion, the art of peace, speaks to the peoples of the world of compassion, justice and mutual understanding. A blessing for all creation, religion is a constant reminder to humanity of the divine spark in every person. Yet today the world shudders as horrific acts are perpetrated in the name of religion. All too often, hatred and violence replace peace as religion is manipulated for political purposes.
Leaders of the world's religions have a special obligation to refute such claims, and to mobilize their communities to not only respect, but also defend the rights of others to live and worship differently. We, the undersigned, gathered here today in Bali, Indonesia, take a stand against wanton violence, and urge other religious leaders to follow our example in respect to our diversity and our commitment to end the violence.
Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia
June 12, 2007