Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Blogging will be light this week due to my schedule at WPRO.

The Times of London is excerpting a book called "Celsius 7/7" by Michael Gove. In this excerpt, Gove asserts that Islamism is a revolutionary attempt to remake society, in much the same way that the Nazis and Soviet Communists tried to do.

Islamism is a twentieth-century phenomenon. Like its sibling ideologies, fascism and communism, it offers followers a form of redemption through violence. Like fascism, Islamism envisages the creation of a purified realm purged of toxic outside influences and internal corruption. Like communism, Islamism is not ethnically exclusive, it seeks to enlist new converts through proselytisation, political education and military advances. Like both, it reserves a special hatred for the West, for political freedom the separation of the public and private realms, dissent, sexual tolerance and a belief in the sanctity of individual life. And like both it finds a dark and furious energy in hatred towards the Jewish people.

It is a very interesting analysis. Read the whole thing.

Saturday, June 24, 2006


I will be filling in for Ron St. Pierre this week on News/Talk 630 WPRO in Providence, RI. The show airs from 5 AM to 9 AM, Monday through Friday. On Monday's show we will be talking about Rhode Island's political races, jobs, Superman Returns and the North Korean missile test business.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Once again the New York Times chooses to weaken our ability to wage war against our Islamofascist enemies, with this story revealing a classified program that sifts through international financial transaction data to try and cut off the money supply to the terrorists. While there are many folks commenting on this in the blogosphere, Andrew C. McCarthy has it right in this piece on the National Review website. This will not stop, he says, until the leakers and the reporters who help them are PROSECUTED. If the administration was fighting this war like a real war, instead of relying on rhetoric, they might actually start playing hardball with those who are undermining our national security.

But this is all part of the same pattern I have written about repeatedly. After 9/11 President Bush created the proper intellectual framework with which to understand this new war. He declared that it was, in fact, a war, and not a matter for the criminal justice system. He said that those who aided and abetted the terrorists would be treated the same as the terrorists, and that we would use all the resources available to us to defeat them. Then, of course, he refused to follow the logic of his own position. He refused to ask Congress for a declaration of war. He refused to re-instate the draft, or even expand the size of the volunteer military. He did not ask Congress for authority to censor the press regarding war news, nor did he create a propaganda bureau to help bolster American morale and demoralize the enemy. He refused to take strong action against the Saudis and other so-called "allies" who have been funding the ideology of our enemies. In short, he talked about treating 9/11 as an act of war, made some great speeches crafting the framework for that policy, then failed to follow through. As a consequence, we are now stuck in a grey area, somewhere between the politics of peace and normality, and the politics of war and emergency. This has created the confusion that has led to the President's low approval numbers, and to the belief by so many Americans that we are not really at war and, therefore, we can engage in business as usual.

Perhaps, after the nuclear 9/11, we will start taking those steps one would expect of a nation fighting for its way of life and even its very existence.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The release late yesterday of previously classified information about the existence of hundreds of chemical weapons in Iraq should bolster the case being made inside the GOP that they should remain steadfast on the war. Certainly, there is no chance now that any significant troop withdrawals will happen before November. Since that will not happen, and there is almost no chance of any significant diminution of the violence in Iraq by that time, the GOP has no choice but to back the President and the war policy to the hilt. Karl Rove, now clear of any possible indictments, can lead the charge from the political standpoint, and the President continues to lead from the policy standpoint. GOP leaders in Congress seem now to realize this and are aggressively forcing the Democrats to come to some sort of conclusion about the war. This has already led to serious infighting inside the Democratic Party, as the less ideologically blinded or opportunistic Senators and Representatives understand that they cannot go back to their constituents and campaign on a policy of accepting defeat in a war. If the news about WMDs is bolstered by the release of more information about further discoveries, that will go a long way toward defusing the argument that the President misled us into the war in the first place. Things are finally starting to look better for the GOP.

Unfortunately, other issues can always unexpectedly intrude. With the North Koreans poised to launch an ICBM test, the former Secretary of Defense and one of his assistants from the Clinton Administration, William Perry and Ashton Carter, have written this provocative piece in the Washington Post this morning. They advocate a pre-emptive U.S. military strike against the Taepodong-2 missile on its launch pad in North Korea. While I believe they are correct in asserting that this could be done with sea-launched cruise missiles, thus not using the territory of an ally like Japan or South Korea, and not risking the shoot-down of any of our planes and, thus, the potential capture of our pilots, I cannot buy their assertion that the North Koreans would do nothing in response. Can we really be sure that Kim Jong (mentally) Il would really do the prudent thing and not spark a regional war in response? It seems like quite a gamble.

David Warren also thinks the test is not a test at all, but an act of war. Like me, though, he expects the only action on our part to be limited to strongly-worded protests.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The President is accusing the Iranians of foot dragging as their government has announced they will not answer the proposals put forward by the U.S, Europeans, China and Russia until mid-August. Gee, you'd think the Iranians were just playing for time, wouldn't you? But, of course, that can't be happening, can it? They wouldn't be pretending to follow a diplomatic route just to give them enough time to develop a nuclear weapon, would they?

Until we face up to the fact that the Iranians are going to do whatever is necessary to achieve their goal, we are going to have a hard time reaching any kind of consensus on what to do about it. I still think that for the U.S., since there is very little sentiment for military action on the part of the public and their representatives, it may simply be a matter of time before we have to throw up our hands and figure out how to deal with a nuclear Iran.

Jeff Jacoby writes about the Philadelphia Cheese Steak vendor who is refusing to serve anybody who can't speak English, and is getting flack from local government for his statement.

Robert Samuelson says inflation fears are real.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The bodies of those two missing American soldiers have been found. Early reports indicate they were tortured before being killed, which fits into the pattern of what has been going on all across the country as Iraqis kill other Iraqis. The Uncle of one of the soldiers is already criticizing the government for its response. He seems to think the offer of ransom money would have bought their release. I doubt it. This sorry episode will almost certainly add a little more impetus to the "cut and run" crowd, even if they don't think it is cutting and running. The Iraqi National Security Advisor says his government does have a plan to secure Iraq, which would lead to our departure.

In a totally unrelated story, here is a piece from the New York Times about an the unexpected problems created by eyesight correction surgery, which is now becoming commonplace among our young military members.

Monday, June 19, 2006

John Fund thinks the Democrats continue to be incoherent on Iraq.

This piece in the New York Times illustrates the difficulty in dealing with the 12 million illegal aliens working in this country. With employers unable or unwilling to scrupulously examine and verify employment documents, the only solution to the problem remains the simplest one. Build a wall, then legalize the 12 million who got in before we got serious about guarding the borders.

The search continues for those soldiers who went missing the other day. I still expect to see a video of the captured soldiers any day now. The real question is why they were left in an unsupported position such that they could be overrun and captured?

Al Qaeda says they have the soldiers, who are now identified as coming from the 101st Airborne Division.

This Newsweek article pretty clearly lays out the reasons why the Duke rape case is a complete farce, and that prosecutor is either an idiot or criminally unscrupulous.

North Korea is readying a missile that could reach the U.S. for a test launch. I'm sure we will scold them with a strongly-worded protest.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

According to this piece in Time magazine, al Qaeda was within 45 days of launching a gas attack in the New York City subway system, but the attack was called of by Zawahiri. If it is true, it could mean that Zawahiri, and his boss, Osama bin Laden, have finally reached an understanding about how to win this war. They can win it by refraining from attacking Americans in their homeland, thus convincing them that there really isn't a war going on at all, thus creating the political conditions that will bring the Democrats back to power, thus leading to a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. I have long thought that this was the only reasonable explanation as to why they have not hit us here at home since 9/11.

In Afghanistan, the fighting has intensified and more airstrikes have been called in, according to this story in the Washington Post.

David Warren may have hit upon something in this piece, in which he postulates that what we may be seeing is not a resurgent Islam clashing with a collapsing Christian civilization but, rather, two collapsing civilizations clashing as each writhes in its death agony. An interesting thought.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Democrats have released their platform for the Fall campaign. It is a grab-bag of domestic issues, like raising the minimum wage. Unfortunately for them, no one will pay any attention to it, as the election is shaping up to be a referendum on George W. Bush and the war in Iraq, and the larger war on terrorism. House Republicans know this, so they took their first shot, in the wake of the Zarqawi hit, by debating a "no withdrawal without victory" resolution, which passed easily, drawing over 40 Democrats to the "yes" side. The reason this is a political victory for the GOP is that the unpopularity of the war as seen in poll numbers is driven not only by the desire of some to get out of Iraq, but also by some who are unhappy that the war is not being fought more vigorously. If the GOP can make a credible case that they are the party that will fight the war as vigorously as necessary to achieve victory, then that will bring some of those disaffected voters back to their side. That should be enough to prevent a Democratic takeover of the House.

Unfortunately, bad news from Iraq will be the deciding factor, like this story about two missing American soldiers. If they show up in a hostage video in the next few days, that will be very bad news, indeed.

Arnaud de Borchgrave has an interesting piece in the Washington Times about the ideological founder of the Islamist movement, a man de Borchgrave compares to Karl Marx.

The Islamists have triumphed in Mogadishu, and are expanding their control throughout southern Somalia. Their victory has finally brought peace to Mogadishu, according to this article from the Washington Post. Of course, as I have said many times before, one way to achieve peace is through the victory of one side over the other. Wars oftentimes end in just that way.

While Iran's President is hinting at an easing of the nuclear crisis concerning his country, according to this article in the New York Times, in the same edition there is this story of the North Koreans, who have apparently decided it is time to test another missile, which might have the range to reach the United States.

Ralph Peters re-draws the map of the Middle East. His prescription for a final settlement of the ethnic disputes might be reasonable, but the only method I know to achieve such a fundamental re-drawing of national boundaries would be a massive, global war (like World War I led to the re-drawing of the map of Europe in 1919).

Friday, June 16, 2006

While members of Congress debate whether or not we should pull our troops out of Iraq, new documents captured as a result of the killing of Zarqawi indicate that the terrorists recognize that things are not going well for them. In fact, as Ralph Peters points out...

We're winning.

Yeah, the good guys. Our troops. And the Iraqi army. We're winning. We were winning big even before we nailed Zarqawi. The terrorists themselves said so. In their state-of-the-troubled-union message to themselves.

According to al Qaeda in Iraq, critics of "stay the course" need to stick it where the sun don't shine: One key captured document states that "time is beginning to be of service to the American forces."

Guess we ought to pull our troops out now. Right, Nancy? Howard? Teddy? John?

Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, the Israelis are still dealing with Qassam rockets being fired into their territory from Gaza, despite the fact that they did what the Palestinians wanted by evacuating all Jewish settlers from the region and dismantling their military checkpoints and posts. This, of course, has led to Israeli retaliation by the use of artillery, which may have killed a Palestinian family on the beach. As Charles Krauthammer says...

This is another example of the Palestinians' classic and cowardly human-shield tactic -- attacking innocent Israeli civilians while hiding behind innocent Palestinian civilians. For Palestinian terrorists -- and the Palestinian governments (both Fatah and Hamas) that allow them to operate unmolested -- it's a win-win: If their rockets aimed into Israeli towns kill innocent Jews, no one abroad notices and it's another success in the terrorist war against Israel. And if Israel's preventive and deterrent attacks on those rocket bases inadvertently kill Palestinian civilians, the iconic "Israeli massacre" picture makes the front page of the New York Times, and the Palestinians win the propaganda war.

Bingo. Whether the Israeli artillery shell really killed the Palestinian family is not relevant. The Palestinian terrorists DELIBERATELY try to kill Jewish civilians with their horribly inaccurate rockets, while the Israelis try to kill only the terrorists. This is just the kind of war that, as an American, I have always hated. It just goes on and on without resolution, because neither side is willing to fight it out to total victory, or end it with some sort of reasonable compromise. To their credit, the Israelis tried to settle on a compromise with the Oslo Accords, only to be double-crossed by Arafat. Unfortunately for the Israelis, without any prospect for another reasonable compromise, and an unwillingness to launch an all-out assault against the Palestinians that would destroy their communities and drive their people into Jordan and Egypt, they are left with this 'tit-for-tat' , never-ending low-grade war.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dick Morris thinks the Democrats will win big this Fall, Michael Novak thinks they won't. Yesterday, the Democrats released a document calling for a 'New Direction' for America. Its wishy-washy, same old same old tone makes me lean more toward the Michael Novak view of how things will turn out in November.

David Broder says the GOP is divided on the immigration issue.

George Will does not believe Iraq can overcome the sectarian differences that were exploited so effectively by Zarqawi.

More violence in the Palestinian Territories. This violence, unfortunately, is necessary. Until the Palestinians determine whose vision will win out, either that of accepting Israel and a two-state solution, or continuing to dream of eradicating Israel, they will not be able to find real peace. Peace can come to the Palestinians only when they accept Israel, or when they are able to wipe it out (which does not seem possible).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Tony Blankley has an excellent piece in the Washington Times on the mental path to appeasement regarding Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. Since I am currently re-reading William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, I especially liked this bit from Blankley's column...

Virtually no one believes Iran only wants peaceful nuclear generation. Neither do serious people believe that enactable economic and diplomatic sanctions will deflect the Iranians from their objective. Thus, the offer on the table — to give them peaceful nuclear technology or threaten them with non-military sanction — suffers from providing a "carrot that is not tempting and a stick that is not threatening" (the quote is from Ian Kershaw's "Making Friends with Hitler"). This evolving mental path to appeasement mirrors in uncanny detail a similar path taken by the British government to Hitler in the 1930s. Contrary to popular history, the British government was under little illusion concerning Hitler's nature and objectives in the early 1930s. Those illusions only emerged as mental rationalizations later in the 1930's. In April 1933, just three months after Hitler became chancellor of Germany, the British government presciently assessed the man and his plans. The outgoing British ambassador to Germany, Sir Horace Rumbold, who had been closely observing Hitler for years, reported back to London in a special dispatch to the prime minister on April 26, 1933. He warned his government to take "Mein Kampf" seriously. He assessed that Hitler would resort to periodic peaceful claims "to induce a sense of security abroad." But that he planned to expand into Russia and "would not abandon the cardinal points of his program," but would seek to "lull adversaries into such a state of coma that they will allow themselves to be engaged one by one." The ambassador was sure that "a deliberate policy is now being pursued, whose aim was to prepare Germany militarily before her adversaries could interfere." He also warned that Hitler personally believed in his violent anti-Semitism and that it was central to his government policy. Back in London, Major General A.C. Temperley briefed the prime minister on the Rumbold dispatch that if Britain did not stop Hitler right away, the alternative was "to allow things to drift for another five years, by which time ... war seems inevitable." In the event, general war in Europe came in six years, not five. But because the British people, still under the sway of their memory of WWI, were against military action, and because the politicians wanted to spend precious tax revenues on domestic programs, they walked away from their own good judgment.

Read the whole thing. I would also point out that the military dictator of Poland and the President of France discussed launching a preventive war against Germany upon Hitler's coming to power in 1933. If they had done so, they would have easily won and Hitler and his whole crowd would have been imprisoned or killed. Such a war would have resulted in a few thousand deaths, but it would have prevented the larger war that later killed tens of millions of people.

Jeff Jacoby says there are signs of progress in Iraq. Ralph Peters says the MSM cannot be too happy with all the good news coming out of Iraq. Meanwhile, Senator John Kerry says we should set a deadline for withdrawal. Kerry is certainly singing to the choir that booed Senator Hillary Clinton when she suggested such a deadline would be unwise.

Fortunately, we have a President who will not surrender to the terrorists, whether they are plotting to behead the Canadian Prime Minister or setting IEDs in Iraq. He correctly sees Iraq as part of the overall war, and will not bow down to a public that is no longer buying what he is selling. I only wish he would take the gloves off our soldiers and put the muzzle on the press, like President Roosevelt did in WWII.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

If Republicans read this article and follow its advice, they are sure to be doomed.

Jack Kelly writes about how we got to where we are in Iraq. In essence, Donald Rumsfeld and his generals made some very serious mistakes. These were compounded by the CIA and the State Department. Curiously, no one got fired, which is the pattern in the Bush Administration.

Richard Cohen points out that the NYT, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, all publicly traded companies that have families who control the majority of shares, are in financial trouble, causing Wall Street to demand changes, which Cohen thinks would be detrimental to their mission.

Fatah and Hamas are battling it out in the Palestinian territories. I predict a true civil war in those territories before we see one in Iraq.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sometimes I wish I was not such a news junkie. Reading the papers every morning these days can oftentimes be a depressing experience. For instance, our armed forces finally are able to locate and take out one of the most despicable murderers of this or any other generation, so despicable, in fact, that he was loathed by many of his own people, and yet an American general is forced to come out and rebut some half-assed charge from some Iraqi "witness" that American soldiers beat Zarqawi as he lay dying in the dirt. Fortunately, another witness described American soldiers ripping open his clothes in an effort to save his life. Then there is this story about the suicides at Guantanamo, which includes condemnation from the Saudi Arabian government, a non-democratic government that continues to fund the spread of a hateful, anti-American ideology throughout the Muslim world. After reading this stuff every day, I just want to throw up my hands and say "bring the boys home"! Let the Arabs rip each other to shreds, Shiite against Sunni, radical against moderate, tribe against tribe. Let the Israelis deal with them on their own, without our aid. Let the Europeans make their peace with them, and the Iranians for that matter, on whatever terms they can get. Fortress America, anyone?

Speaking of the Iranians, they are now campaigning for talks without pre-conditions. If they can get the Chinese or Russians on board (which I believe will happen), then they can force the U.S. and the Europeans to back down on enrichment even before they get to the table.

Joel Mowbray has an interesting column about why Canada became a target for potential terrorist acts.

Michael Barone has some thoughts on why the vitriolic anger on the Democratic left may actually be backfiring on Democrats at the polls.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Finally, we are getting the other side of the Haditha story. According to this Washington Post story, through their lawyers, some of the accused Marines are giving their account of the action. Based on what I read in this story, which is presumably only the first in a number of stories to come as the lawyers get their client's version out to the public, these Marines did not kill civilians "in cold blood" as Congressman Murtha said, but may have killed them through actions that went beyond the rules of engagement (finding out exactly what those rules were for these men will go a long way toward determining their culpability). If these Marines, responding to AK-47 fire from some houses, then entered those homes, kicking down doors, throwing grenades, and firing through the smoke to 'clear' those homes, then they may have not taken the required care to ensure that no civilians were present in the line of fire. That would be a mistake and a tragedy, but not murder 'in cold blood', not executing women and children while they begged for their lives, as we have heard from some Iraqi 'witnesses'. As I wrote in an earlier post, I find the story of Marines murdering civilians deliberately hard to believe, but not impossible to believe. I still hold out hope that what happened in Haditha was either simply the result of some poor decision-making by the on-scene leadership, or something that was caused by insurgents who do not care that their actions place civilians at risk.

Friday, June 09, 2006

It appears that Zarqawi was ratted out by one of his own guys, which led to the surveillance of his 'spiritual advisor' that led to the rendevous with two 500 lb bombs. It was, according to Christopher Hitchens, a good piece of work by all involved. Michael Ledeen says we may be in the midst of one of the greatest counterterrorism operations of all time, as he connects the Zarqawi strike to the 17 other raids held simultaneously in Iraq and the arrests happening elsewhere, including in Canada, Switzerland and the UK. Ledeen believes that, despite the Shiite-hating pronouncements and murders committed by Zarqawi that he really was doing his dirty work with the help and at the direction of the Mullahs in Iran.

Despite his intonations against the Shiites, and his manifest efforts to promote civil war in Iraq, Zarqawi was happy to work with the radical Shiite regime in Tehran, and they were happy to work with him. It is quite wrong to view him as a leader of one faction in a religious war; his promotion of religious conflict was simply a tactic designed to destabilize Iraq and drive out the Coalition. He and his Iranian backers/masters were desperate to promote all manner of internal Iraqi conflict: Kurds against Arabs, Turkamen against Kurds, anything that worked. ItÂ?s The Godfather all over again: the terror masters put aside their differences, sat down around the table, and made a war plan in which Sunni and Shia, Syrian and Saudi, Iranian and Iraqi cooperated against their common satanic enemy, the United States.

I have long thought that we should look at these guys like the Mafia, including the rulers of the terror states like Iran and Syria. They operate within a common framework of language and rules, but they still have their differences and can fight each other. As Ledeen says, they have set aside their differences in order to make common cause against the United States. This does not mean that they will not ever fight each other again or betray one another when the timing seems right. This, no doubt, happens all the time. Still, they share certain goals, the most important of which is to drive the United States out of the region. Should they ever succeed, they will almost certainly fall to fighting each other over the spoils. But to ignore the connections, as so many in our intelligence and security apparatus are prone to do, is dangerous. As long as the Mullahs hold power in Iran, they will continue to provide all sorts of aid to terrorists like Zarqawi in their effort to prevent a true democratic Iraq from emerging.

Meanwhile, to make sure they keep their hold on power, the Mullahs are continuing their efforts to arm themselves with nuclear weapons.

Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq writes this op-ed outlining his government's strategy to build a secure Iraq.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Congratulations to the members of the U.S. and Iraqi militaries for their efforts in finding and killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and some of his close associates yesterday. President Bush made this statement about the operation. Iraq the Model expresses, I think, the attitude of most ordinary Iraqis about Zarqawi, who killed thousands of Iraqis in his deadly career, when he celebrates the news. Here are some thoughts by Dan Darling at the Weekly Standard on the news. Instapundit and the Drudge Report also have numerous links to related articles and opinions about the subject.

While the death of Zarqawi, or any individual terrorist for that matter, will not end the war, it must be seen as a victory and will almost certainly impede al Qaeda's efforts in Iraq.

Jay Cost has an excellent analysis of the results in the special election in CA-50. He believes that the results were "normal", which leads him to conclude that it looks good for the GOP in holding seats they need to keep in order to stay in the majority in November.

David Corn thinks that illegal immigration may be a wedge issue for Republicans that will actually work this year. I think he is right. If Republicans bang the drum for border security this Fall, not only will they energize their dispirited base, they will win over independents and working class Democrats who are concerned about security, both from terrorist threats and economic security. I recommend to all House Republicans a strategy of repudiating the President and the Senate on their version of immigration reform, and then trumpet that repudiation in their Fall campaigns.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Here is a round-up of some of the commentary following the special election in California to fill the seat of disgraced ex-Congressman "Duke" Cunningham. It is a solidly Republican district, and the GOP candidate ended up winning the seat. I think special elections are a poor barometer of behavior in general elections, primarily because the turnout in special elections is so much different than what one would see in a general election. Still, the Republicans will spin this to prove their contention that they are not in danger of losing control of Congress, while Democrats will say that the narrow nature of the loss in such a solidly Republican district is a harbinger of the landslide to come in November.

The Iranians are indicating that they are receptive to talks on their nuclear program. Michael Ledeen is very critical of these new negotiations, likening our Iran policy to the days of Bill Clinton. Ledeen believes the Iranian leadership is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons and of continuing their war against the West. I believe he is right, but what he does not understand is that, for domestic political reasons, the President has no choice but to attempt a North Korean-style appeasement strategy. The American people are tired of the war we are fighting and do not want to add another to the list. The big war that Ledeen believes could be avoided if we played a tough hand against the Iranian government and aided the opposition inside and outside Iran is almost inevitable, in my view. We are currently engaged in a Cold War-style containment policy, with smaller wars fought directly or indirectly with Islamist states and their allies and special ops and CIA guys taking on the Islamists abroad and our law enforcement types taking them on here at home. Like the Cold War against Communism, this is designed to prevent the outbreak of a big war, while slowly wearing down the opposition until they collapse. I am not very hopeful that we can wear the Islamists down since, unlike the Communists, they have the power of faith on their side. They also do not have a state to protect, as the Soviets did in Russia. I am still betting on the big war.

More details are out on the alleged plot in Canada by some home grown Islamists.

While most of us worry about the high price of gasoline, or the terror war, or even global warming, here is another article about something that could cause the collapse of civilization before the end of the century...declining fertility rates.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


This news out of Somalia should act as a wake-up call to the Administration about the ineffectiveness of our lackluster response to terrorism. "Lackluster response" you ask? Didn't we invade Afghanistan and Iraq? Don't we have troops in those countries and special ops guys and CIA guys all over the world? Yes, yes and yes. But the Somalia example, in which a group of warlords backed by the CIA were routed by a bunch of warlords who formed a loose, Islamist alliance, perfectly illustrates our problem in dealing with the Islamist threat. Clearly, we have the conventional military power to knock down a government like Saddam's, and even one as chaotic and diffuse as the Taliban's. What we have not shown any success at doing is knocking down the underlying power of our enemies, which is their faith and the appeal of that faith to millions of their co-religionists. We can call it a "perversion" of Islam all we want, yet it is still being taught in thousands of madrassas across the Islamic world, oftentimes funded by one of our supposed "allies", Saudi Arabia. This ideology has such power because it offers hope to the hopeless. That is why different, but related, versions of this ideology triumphed against the Shah in Iran in 1979 and against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s through violent means. It is also why it has won elections in the Palestinian Territories and threatens to win elections in Egypt were they ever to be held in a fair and open manner. As long as so many millions of Muslims are mired in poverty and powerlessness, they will provide fertile ground for fanatics like Osama bin laden, President Ahmadinejad, and the leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah. Just as Adolph Hitler promised downtrodden Germans a path to restored power and glory, so too do these modern fanatics promise Muslims a return to their glory days. It is pretty heady stuff, and our response so far, of limited war and a promise that democracy will cure all, is not cutting it.

Unfortunately, the only thing that will sate the thirst for a restoration of power that inflames so many young Muslims is for them to achieve that power. When people talk about Islam as a religion of tolerance and peace, they refer to those periods when the Islamic empire was controlling vast swathes of territory and its rulers governed millions of people almost unchallenged from within and without. They could afford to be magnanimous to Christians and Jews who lived under their control. As long as the Muslim world is divided and outpaced by the rest of the world, the resentment will fester and strengthen. In the end, unless Muslims themselves learn to live as separate peoples in separate states and give up their dream of unity and suzerainty over the rest of the world, we will continue to face a growing threat. This threat will not be defeated by a bunch of CIA guys buying up warlords with suitcases full of money.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Supreme Leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khamenei, says that any attack on Iran would lead to the disruption of oil supplies through the Straits of Hormuz. I'll let the specialists try to parse the statements and read the tea leaves to try and figure out what is exactly going on inside Iran's political leadership. The simplest analysis is that the statement is what it is, a statement designed to remind everyone of the stakes involved. While it is true that the Iranians could not close the Straits permanently, they certainly could stop the flow for some period of time, until the U.S. Navy eliminated their ability to do so by sinking their navy and destroying their land-based missile sites. A combination of Navy and Air Force planes would quickly do away with their air force. But the damage would already be done, as oil prices would rise to over $100 or $150 a barrel. Thus, the statement is just another reminder that an attack on Iran would lead to far more severe consequences than the historically recent bombing campaigns against countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, or Serbia.

Ed Morrissey reports that Iranian President Ahmadinejad has said he will release the details of the package recently sent to his government by the U.S., Europeans, Russia and China. Morrissey believes that since by doing this he can only make the possibility of fruitful talks more difficult, he is providing more evidence that he really does not want talks to succeed. Morrissey believes that Ahmadinejad really does believe this "Hidden Imam" stuff, and wants to bring about the apocalyptic conditions necessary for the Imam's return.

Theodore Dalrymple says that it might not be possible to have a "moderate" form of Islam. Time will tell. But the example of young Canadians and Britons, in some cases born and raised in the relative wealth and safety of those countries, choosing to embrace the ideology of radical Islam, does not bode well for the future.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


We still do not yet know the extent of the crimes that were committed in Haditha, or who actually committed them, but this Washington Post article would certainly seem to indicate that there was a cover-up. So far, the company commander, the battalion commander and another company commander in the same battalion have all been relieved of duty. Do not be surprised if, when the investigation is over, we see a platoon leader, a platoon sergeant, a squad leader and some privates getting charged with crimes. I still hold out a very slim hope that, in the end, investigators will find that insurgents actually did the killing of the old people and children (although that might be hard to prove as, so far, the families of the victims have refused to give permission for their loved ones bodies to be exhumed, which makes me a bit suspicious).

W. Thomas Smith, Jr., a retired Marine officer, writes this excellent piece about the stresses of combat from men who know what they are talking about. It provides some much needed context for anyone wishing to understand the Haditha incident. I would add that if we were really fighting a war for our national existence, like WWII, this is one of the reasons why we would censor news reports from the war zones, in order to keep from handing the enemy some easy propaganda victories. Warfare is a street fight on a large scale. If it is fought for survival, then the rule book is thrown away and whatever is necessary to win is the only guideline. How many Japanese women, children and old men in wheelchairs did the boys in the B-29s kill during the summer of 1945,( just to use one example)? Unlike 1945, Americans of today do not think we are in a fight to the finish. We can pack up and leave whenever we want to, just like Vietnam, and the only people who will face the consequences live in a faraway land. So we pretend we can fight the war with limited resources and limiting rules. I am more and more convinced that, since we persist in fighting the Iraq War like we did in Vietnam, we cannot hope to expect a different result.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

While the investigation of the incident in Haditha continues, our old friend Zarqawi is exhorting Sunnis to make war against the Shiites. Our troops are under tremendous stress trying to discriminate between insurgents and civilians, between the Iraqis they can trust and the Iraqis they cannot, all the while being picked off by snipers and blown up by IEDs. They are doing a tremendous job under very difficult circumstances, oftentimes despite the failures of their leaders. I wonder, though, if ordinary Iraqis truly appreciate what our troops are trying to accomplish? In order to better secure the U.S., they are trying to create a space for the Iraqis to effect a political transformation of their country, from a violent, brutal land that can only be governed by bloodthirsty tyrants, to a true democratic republic. The process is an ugly one, leading to mistaken bombings of homes, mistreatment of prisoners, and the killing of innocent civilians, sometimes by mistake, perhaps sometimes deliberately by a few soldiers or marines who have lost their moral bearings under the stress of combat. But without this process, without the presence of American troops, what would Iraq look like? One need only look to Lebanon in the 1980s or Somalia today, except on a much larger and more violent scale. In the end, I hope that the leaders of the new Iraqi government understand this fact. If they do, then our soldiers will have at least one set of Iraqis they can trust. Still, can they trust their own leadership and the will of the people back home? That is an open question.

Will Haditha effect the mid-term elections? Is it really all that different from the history of other conflicts? Is the handwringing over Haditha distracting us from the real prize?

Iranian leaders have not, as yet, accepted the offer of negotiations from the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China over their nuclear program. This is a real test of the rationality of the men who lead that country and, if they refuse to negotiate, a real test of the resolve of the major powers when dealing with nuclear proliferation.

If you have not read it yet, this Peggy Noonan piece is stirring up some reaction, as she predicts a growing momentum for the creation of a true, viable third party. I will have some more thoughts on that later.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Victor Davis Hanson has a good piece on the American way of war on the National Review website. Essentially, he correctly asserts that no one is willing to take us on in an all-out, total war, as we have the power to win such a war either with overwhelming conventional force or through the use of nuclear weapons. Thus, they resort to asymmetrical warfare. We are limited in our ability to respond to this kind of warfare. We can bomb from afar, or send in the ground troops.

A riskier proposition is to employ American ground troops to change the political situation—that is, to flip a hostile government on the theory the people are desirous of freedom and would welcome liberation. Invasions are easy in a small Panama or Grenada, less so in large countries in the Middle East or Asia with well-entrenched political or religious movements that can pose as nationalists.

And once America enters such a risky landscape, the clock ticks. The question of victory or quagmire is decided by whether we can defeat the insurgents and set up a local government before the enemy can erode U.S. public opinion—either by killing enough Americans on the evening news to make us doubt the cost is worth the gambit, or, by suggesting that the vaunted values of Western bourgeois society have become sullied in the conflict at places like My Lai or Abu Ghraib. The key in any such effort is mostly political: Can indigenous forces, with American aid and the promise of democratic government, take the lead in the fight, ensuring fewer American losses, while offering something better than the past that resonates with sympathetic Westerners?

Read the whole thing. Hanson believes the jury is still out. I think the verdict is in, and it fits neatly within the American historical experience. Americans do not have the stomach or the patience for long, limited wars. Americans are a black-and-white people. They want WAR or they want PEACE, not anything in-between. Thus, the support for these limited wars erodes as it becomes clear that our troops are handcuffed by rules that limit their ability to make all-out WAR. While I still hope for the best, I fear that we will not have a happy outcome in Iraq, and maybe not even in Afghanistan.

It has now reached the point that some are calling it "Iraq Syndrome" (in the tradition of the "Vietnam Syndrome".

According to this column, American soldiers are generating road rage in Kabul.

Not only are American soldiers inconsiderate in Afghanistan, according to the new Iraqi Prime Minister, they are downright dangerous to civilians in Iraq.

How many more Americans have now decided that the Iraqis and Afghans can 'go to hell', after hearing the story about the anti-American riots in Kabul and the condemnation from the Iraqi PM who is only sitting in his chair because our troops liberated his country? This is the drip-drip-drip that is eroding public support for these wars and may lead to a return to isolationism.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Now that the U.S. has offered to join direct talks with Iran on the nuclear question, let the second-guessing begin. The bottom line is actually pretty simple, we have no other good options. The American people are very unhappy about the war we are fighting in Iraq, they have absolutely no stomach for another war. Karl Rove knows this and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice knows this, which is why President Bush is listening to them and not to Vice-President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. The President knows that the only possible course is to keep offering talks and incentives to Iran, just as the Europeans have been asking us to do. If the Iranians are really hell bent on becoming a nuclear power (which I believe they are), then they will reject those talks, or negotiate in bad faith. The Europeans have already moved much closer to the U.S. position on sanctions. Now the effort will be focused on convincing the Russians and Chinese. This may not be possible, but becomes more likely if the Iranians continue to stonewall. Even if the Russians and Chinese refuse to back sanctions, despite Iranian intransigence, the Europeans may be willing to go along with a package of tough sanctions once they are convinced that the Iranians will not play ball, and the Russians and Chinese will block U.N. action. This is not a very satisfying outcome, because the process will take time, which will allow the Iranians to continue with their clandestine program. But, at the end of the day, it will allow the U.S. to honestly say that it has tried every peaceful avenue with the Iranians and, more importantly, it will avoid a war that the American people do not want to fight. Of course, it could result in a larger war that we have to fight, but I have long thought that was inevitable. The American people are in the process of rejecting the Bush policy of fighting small, manageable wars in order to avoid the big one. This will make even greater the likelihood of the big one happening anyway.