Category ►►► War Against Radical Islamism

October 13, 2012

Obama's Orwellian Binge and Purge

Language Is a Virus , Military Machinations , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

This post is a Sachi-Dafydd joint.

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever." George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, chapter 3.

One would imagine that to "know your enemy" is common sense, and nobody would gainsay it. If we're ignorant of whom we're fighting, how can we hope to out-think, surprise, resist, and defeat him?

Knowledge is our most powerful weapon: knowledge of strategy and tactics; of how to maintain supply lines and other logistical necessities; of actionable intel on what the enemy is going to do next; of how to transport combat units quickly hither and thither; and of course, knowledge of who the enemy is (so we know who to attack), how he fights (so we know what signs to look for), and how he thinks (so we understand what the enemy will do even before he himself knows.

One would imagine. But under President Barack "Ve knew nussink, nussink!" Obama, our military is systematically purging that valuable weapon of knowledge, word by word and concept by concept, from our military, intelligence, and political agencies... and all in the name of sensitivity and political correctness.

This Orwellian loss of language, like the "Newspeak" of Nineteen Eighty Four, has one obvious and ominous consequence. Since language evolved, human beings have learned to think primarily in terms of words; so when all the words that describe an idea are banned, it becomes impossible even to think it, because we have no verbal hook to hang it on.

That is precisely what the Obamunists have done... and now it even has its human face. Meet LTC Matthew Dooley, a West Point graduate and decorated combat veteran... a once and perhaps future instructor at the Joint Forces Staff College at the National Defense University, teaching such courses as "Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism."

His courses were popular among students and colleagues. Nevertheless, Dooley was relieved of his position NDU. He and his course was adjudged "unprofessional" and "against our values," by no less a personage than Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Chillingly, this is no isolated case; it has become Department of Defense policy to remove from training materials and even military-university textbooks and course outlines any word or concept that is declared objectionable by Moslem in general or even by Islamists in particular.

In October 2011, a cohort of Islamic and Islamist individuals and organizations -- including a number of radical Islamist groups, including unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land Foundation trial -- the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, and the Islamic Society of North America, ISNA -- jointly signed a letter to a number of federal, state, and local agencies, including the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the FBI, the CIA, and local law-enforcement. The Islamist letter complains about supposedly offensive, bigotted, and religiously discriminatory documents and training courses, and its authors demand that the Obama administration purge all such material.

The letter was taken seriously by the administration, which responded, as instructed, with a sweeping purge of all military training documents. Page after page of materials were ruthlessly cut from the curricula of training and education courses, simply because the passages contained certain expressions that angered radical Islamsts and their co-dependents. Much of the purge was less surgical and more like an overwrought lumberjack. Sometimes, every single word that could describe a concept was rejected, leaving the concept itself inarticulable.

The purge policy did not arise from a vacuum; oddly, it began under the administration of George W. Bush... and initially was a misguided effort, not to shelter Moslem terrorism, but rather to avoid glorifying, aggrandizing, and popularizing radical Islamists.

In April of 2008, the Bush administration sent a global memo to American embassies; the memo listed specific words that should not be used, such as "jihadist" (holy war or struggle) and "mujahedeen" (holy warriors, warriors for God):

  • "Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahedeen' in conversation to describe the terrorists. ... Calling our enemies 'jihadis' and their movement a global 'jihad' unintentionally legitimizes their actions."
  • "Use the terms 'violent extremist' or 'terrorist.' Both are widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy."
  • On the other hand, avoid ill-defined and offensive terminology: "We are communicating with, not confronting, our audiences. Don't insult or confuse them with pejorative terms such as 'Islamo-fascism,' which are considered offensive by many Muslims."

I understand the Bush State Department's intent. But any word can be misused or corrupted and be turned into an excluse for the chronically violent to act violently. That cannot mean we should purge such words from our lexicon, particularly when those most anxious to censor our speech are those who ally themselves with our enemies and routinely engage in Dawa -- jihad and the imposition of sharia law through means other than actual combat.

Dawa includes direct propaganda; "lawfare" (using our own civilized legal system against us); calling mass protests; appealing to the eager and pliant "fourth estate," the press; teaching Islamism in liberal universities as gospel; producing or at least influencing the production of movies and television shows, and other ostensible entertainments, that portray sharia and Islamism in a positive lighe; or alternatively, using methods such as boycotts, protests, and political persuasion to prevent the production of movies or tv shows that depict radical Islamism in a critical light.

And of course Dawa includes persuading military leaders, up to the Chairman of the JCS, to do their dirty work for them by purging "objectionable" words, phrases, and understandings in the name of diversity, tolerance, and inclusiveness. Leftist totalitarians are already in the censorship groove; it doesn't take much to get them all het up about "religious bigotry" or "hate speech."

Our Founding Fathers had a different approach: Rather than try to prevent speech considered "bad," they allowed it; and they likewise encouraged counter-speech that was "good," or at least allowed speech aggressively supporting and attacking every conceivable proposition. We now call that our sacred right to freedom of speech; and the religious nature of the phrase is no accident: Such universal freedoms come ultimately from the Hebrew and Jewish side of our American Judeo-Christian heritage, and are utterly rejected by the same radical Islamists who use freedom of speech here to support the imposition of sharia. (Their love of free speech ceases the moment sharia law is established, naturally.)

Rather than purge words from teaching materials lest some Islamist get huffy, we should redouble using those very "forbidden" words; but using them in an accurate, correct, and complete context. We enrich our ability to think by having more word arrows in our vocabulary quiver; and we do not further corrupt the English language by transforming it into Newspeak, trying to bludgeon Americans into concensus by whittling their tongues down to size.

Ever since Obama went on his Middle-East apology tour, Americans have suspected something strange was going on. He called it his "smart diplomacy," but we sensed something more sinister: The president was not simply apologizing for America's sins, he was kow-towing to radical Islamists and changing the language of our official documents -- and by extension through the establishment media, of our very way of thinking about radical Islamism.

Like Obama's Fast and Furious scandal, Purgegate had its earliest roots in the Bush administration; but also like Fast and Furious, the bad seed sprouted a far more poisonous fruit when Obama took office. From the Washington Times piece:

By 2011, Obama’s Counterterrorism and Deputy national security advisor John Brennan was urged by Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations to begin an “independent, effective investigation into the federal government’s training of its agents and other law enforcement” and institute a “purge” of any material that the undersigned organizations deemed unacceptable.

In an October 19, 2011 letter to Mr. Brennan, the groups criticize for anti- Muslim bias the FBI’s 2011 training manual, the books at the FBI library in FBI training academy in Quantico, Virginia, specific FBI trainers and analysts, and a report made by Army Command and General Staff at the Fort Leavenworth School of Advanced Military Studies."

Swiftly thereafter, Tom Perez, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division, made his final recommendations to John Brennen:

In response to these recent disclosures, federal officials across the country—particularly FBI field offices—have been reaching out to local Muslim communities to state that the offensive training materials do not reflect the opinion of the FBI, its field offices or the federal government. Until the following steps are taken to remedy this problem and to prevent it from recurring, we will not be confident in these assertions. We urge you to create an interagency task force, led by the White House, tasked with the following responsibilities:

We paraphrase the so-called "following steps" that Perez recommended:

  1. Review all FBI, DoD, and Homeland-Security trainers and training materials at government agencies;
  2. Purge all biased materials;
  3. Install mandatory re-training programs;
  4. Ensure all trainers who used "biased" training materials are effectively disciplined (Adios, Col. Dooley);
  5. Ensure that bigoted trainers and biased materials are purged;
  6. Make clear that religious practice and political advocacy are protected under the First Amendment, are not indicators of violence, and shall not be subject to surveillance or investigation.

The recommendations concluded:

The interagency task force should include a fair and transparent mechanism for input from the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, including civil rights lawyers, religious leaders, and law enforcement experts.

But not, it appears, any military, intelligence, or even diplomatic personnel or organizations that might harbor "bigoted trainers and biased materials." Presumably this would include anybody who saw a connection of some sort, however tenuous, between radical Islam and murderous terrorism.

How significant was the ideological purge of inconvenient military, diplomatic, and intelligence truths? Is there any basis to conclude that this was a deliberate effort to expunge certain ideas from the American mind, so that better and more "flexible" understandings, perhaps more anti-colonial, could take their mental slots? Consider this point from the Washington Times:

In December of 2011 Congressman Dan Lungren, California Republican, questioned Paul N. Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, at a joint session of the Senate and House Homeland Security Committee. After much back and forth, Stockton would not say the United States was “at war with violent Islamist extremism.” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, Texas Republican, had a similar experience in May of 2010, when he questioned Attorney General Eric Holder at a House judiciary hearing about the issue of radical Islam.

The FBI training manual changed. Nearly 900 pages of training that was considered offensive were deleted. Members like Congressman Allen West, Florida Republican, and Congressman Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican, were critical of the purge.

Gohmert questioned FBI director Robert Mueller in May 2012 about the deleting of FBI material. Rep. Gohmert went to the House floor and compared the number of times certain terms (at 22:40) were used in the 9/11 Commission report as opposed to the now purged FBI training manual. For example, according to Gohmert, the 9/11 report mentioned the word “Islam” 322 times. However, Gohmert discusses that the FBI training manual can no longer mention the terms: Islam, Muslim, jihad, enemy, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, caliphate, Shariah law.

Now we know why "the fierce urgency of now" demanded Dooley's course be thrown into the ashheap of history and his head on a pike: As far as the Obama administration is concerned, there are some things Man is not meant to know; and among those unknowable things is the absurdity of Obama's perverse foreign policy, where we cast off our allies and bitterly cling to our adversaries and enemies.

Dooley himself is fighting back, trying to regain his job. But the real issue here is not whether one man can stop the boot from stamping on his face, but whether the American electorate can bring itself to believe just how anti-American is the American president... and can find the spine to do something about it on November sixth.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, October 13, 2012, at the time of 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2012

Moaning Mona

Illiberal Liberalism , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

By now everybody knows that Mona Eltahawy -- writer for the Washington Post and the New York Times, stalwart Leftist activist, and now evidently supporter of jihad -- was arrested last Tuesday for defacing a poster. The poster was displayed (after a bitter legal fight) in ten New York subway stations; it reads:

IN ANY WAR
BETWEEN THE
CIVILIZED MAN
AND THE SAVAGE,
SUPPORT THE
CIVILIZED MAN.
SUPPORT ISRAEL
DEFEAT JIHAD

Leftists across America and in Europe have weighed in on this controversy; while most (but not all) condemn Eltahawy's vandalization of the poster, they are in unanimity that the advertisement itself constitutes "hate speech." Even New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority considered the adverts hate speech, because Pam Gellar was forced to get a court decision requiring the MTA to display them.

I confess being puzzled: How can it be hate speech to oppose holy war against innocents?

I have yet to find a person who has even the sketchiest argument why supporting the "civilized man" and supporting Israel while opposing holy war is hateful. Most simply announce that it's hate speech, relentlessly repeat that it's hate speech, and declare that only haters could possibly disagree that it's hate speech (generally accompanied by the verbal equivalent of pounding on the table). But surely there must be some intellectual, rational, logical argument behind the idea that such a poster is hateful.

Is there a good, or at least not entirely stupid argument that the ad is hate speech? Because it seems to me that the only way to read this as an attack on Moslems in general -- is first to equate radical Islamists to all Moslems. Which would, I am sure, make these purportedly pro-Moslem Progressivists actually anti-Moslem religious bigots.

Jihad -- as used in this advert, and as commonly used by people everywhere, including Moslems -- means war waged by radical Islamists in order to bring about the imposition of sharia law. Sharia law is one of the two most oppressive, anti-liberal, sexist, theocratic, triumphalist ideologies on the planet (the other being totalitarian socialism, whether national or international). Thus if so-and-so considers anti-shariaism itself, by its very nature, to be hate speech, doesn't that mean so-and-so necessarily supports sharia? After all, if you hate all systems other than sharia, what then is left?

And anyone who supports the imposition of sharia law -- which is totalitarian and the whole point of jihad -- is by definition a totalitarian. (Similarly, a person who hates all economic systems but Capitalism is by definition a capitalist.)

I've long thought the Left was in fact totalitarian: Michelle Obama telling everyone how to eat, Michael Bloomberg telling his subjects how much soda to drink, enviro-mental cases telling us what vehicles we're allowed to utilize, ad nauseum; but is the Left now openly ready to "come out" about the totalitarian tendency of Progressivism?

Perhaps it's possible that the advert really is hate speech, even if nobody on la Rive Gauche can articulate why. If so, then a new advert with the same structure but different content should likewise be hate speech. Let's consider:

IN ANY WAR
BETWEEN THE
INNOCENT MAN
AND THE CRIMINAL,
SUPPORT THE
INNOCENT MAN.
SUPPORT POLICE
DEFEAT THE MAFIA

Is this hate speech? If not, then why not? Other than the most diehard Italian Americans who actually deny that la Cosa Nostra even exists, what civilized person could possibly object to this advert?

Or this one:

IN ANY WAR
BETWEEN THE
FREE MAN
AND THE FASCIST,
SUPPORT THE
FREE MAN.
SUPPORT AMERICA
DEFEAT NAZIISM

Is there anything in this advertisement at which even a freedom-minded German in 1943 could take offense?

I'm often at a loss to explain the leftist mindset; but this time, I am utterly dumbfounded. Can somebody point me to a non-risible argument for the original subway-station advertisement being hate speech? Because I would hate to be forced to believe that the actual offending words are "support Israel," and the only reason to consider this advert "hate speech" is rank Jew hatred.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 27, 2012, at the time of 1:38 PM | Comments (3)

September 21, 2012

Story Wars, Chapter Two

Election Derelictions , Libyan Ludicrities , Nile Nuttery , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

For reasons which remain obvious, the reelection campaign of Barack "I actually believe in redistribution" Obama has turned the tragic, humiliatingly successful attacks against our Cairo embassy and the Benghazi consulate into a week-long "squirrel!" distraction from the parlous state of Obama's economy.

Not that the Permanent Campaign really wants to discuss al-Qaeda overrunning two diplomatic missions, tearing down and burning our American flags, murdering Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other diplomats, and raising the black flag of radical Islamism in their place; no, never that discussion, the Prophet Mohammed forbid! The totality the Obamunists want to focus on, and the only story that their media-arm "presstitutes" vigorously flog, is the risible and tendentious meme that the real loser here is Mitt Romney.

Democrats in full scream denounce and repudiate (but fail to refute) Romney's post-attack statements -- variously described by the fourth estate fifth column as "gaffes," "divisive," "unprecedented," "the end of Romney's campaign," and "Romney's worst week ever" -- as insufficiently sensitive to our peace-loving allies in Islamist Egypt and Islamist Libya, and in blatant violation of a longstanding rule of civil discourse the Left just discovered: Presidential challengers shalt not criticize the incumbent's foreign policy in an election year.

All right, I'll bite: Let's take a look at those statements... all of them.

I take for my source that redoubt of right-wing rodomontade, the New York Times, which helpfully collected the colloquy of competing condemnations and complaints, from nine hours before the Cairo embassy was "breeched" until a day or so after. We shall start at the beginning and push on through the batch!

Here is the first infamous statement issued by the Cairo embassy, before the attack on the embassy, but after hysteria had already risen about the "movie that mocked the Prophet Mohammed" (obviously, as the statement refers to both movie and how it "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.") Nota Bene: Assume all emphasis in any of these statements is added by me, unless otherwise instructed:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

And here is a very important restatement issued (via Twitter) by the same Cairo embassy, but this time after the attacks had begun at "midafternoon", and more than twelve hours after the first statement above; as a timeline check, note that the embassy refers to the "unjustified breach of the Embassy" (This is one of a series of similar tweets that the embassy or the State Department quickly deleted.):

This morning's condemnation (issued before protest began) still stands. As does our condemnation of unjustified breach of the Embassy

(For the record, "this morning's condemnation" could only have referred to this sentence in the original statement: The embassy "condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions." Those are the only two things the original message condemned.)

Allow me to analyze the text:

  • The first sentence condemns those who would "hurt the religious feelings of Muslims."
  • The next chunk notes that we honor our patriots (how sweet).
  • Then the statement reiterates "respect for religious beliefs" (yatta yatta).
  • Finally, it rejects speech that "hurt[s] the religious beliefs of others," additionally adding the gratuitous conclusion that speech that hurts "feelings" or "beliefs" actually "abuses the universal right of free speech," which, one concludes, only protects speech to which nobody objects.

That is, the initial statement unquestionably sympathized with the "hurt" felt by Moslems and condemned anyone who said, wrote, or produced anything that might hut Moslem feelings. And the follow-up tweet "stand[s] by" that first missive, thus continuing to sympathize with those who had, by then, savagely attacked us. Remember this point, that the embassy stuck to its guns on its original, protester-sympathetic statement; it becomes a vital issue later.

My first observation: Wow, such a forceful reply to burning, sacking, and murder; we condemn it!

My second: Not one word defending freedom of speech in either of these two official statements, none; only a mewling apology for... what? For not censoring those videomakers, as is universal in Islamic countries?

When an American embassy leads off by condemning American citizens and residents for exercising their freedom of speech -- and then stands by that denunciation, even after rampaging jihadis attack that same embassy plus a consulate, murder four Americans including the Ambassador to Libya, and raise their own bloody, black terrorist flag over the conquered territory, the sanity gap is... breathtaking. Obamunists live in an alternative universe.

That the statements contain not one word about our sacred freedom of speech is hardly surprising: While the hard-Left of the 1930s and 40s had no difficulty vigorously defending the fundamental rights, liberties, and freedoms protected by the Constitution, today's "Progressivists" comprise only the Left of hate-speech codes; of political correctness and sensitivity training; of forced recantation of heretical doctrine and reeducation camps; the Left of argument by intimidation, deceit, and thuggish assault; of "SLAPPs" (strategic lawsuits against public participation) and other forms of lawfare; of government censorship, consent decrees that include a code of silence, and every form of suppression of inconvenient speech they can possibly get away with. And all to silence what Tim Leary used to call "injudicious use of the First Amendment."

Does hurting people's feelings or beliefs really "abuse" the freedom of speech? Anyone who believes it does needs a refresher course in early American history! As the Founding Fathers argued, the only kind of speech that needs protection is unpopular speech; popular speech needs none, because popularity itself confers the protection of numbers.

Besides, as even the least observant observer observes, the cheapest emotions in the world are indignation, outrage, hatred, and fury. Many people can go from zero to six million on the Rage-O-Meter just because somebody took a parking place the irate driver had his eye on. Were we to hand over our freedoms to any old fool who takes offense; were we restrained from expressing any creed that might hurt someone's feelings or beliefs; were the government to prevent us from speaking anything that a listener (seen or unseen) considers "hate speech," then however noble the intent of that government (though nobility is rarely the reason for such censorship), we would have no freedom of speech left whatsoever. For "freedom of speech" is precisely the liberty to say that which pisses off other people.

Yes, even including Moslems.

One would expect that elected or confirmed federal officials, of all people, would understand and defend such liberty; first, they take an oath to do so; second, that freedom has been used incessantly to good effect in this country, from the American revolution, to the abolitionist movement, to the marches and speeches against segregation, to Ronald Reagan calling the Soviet Union an "evil empire," to George W. Bush calling Iran, Iraq, and North Korea the "axis of evil." Despite the fact that everybody on the other side of such speech was (or professed to be) outraged, upset, shocked, shocked, nauseated, and infuriated that free speech could be so abused. Should we have censored Patrick Henry and smothered Martin Luther King, jr., just because lobsterbacks and Klansmen were offended?

Enough, let us move on. Three and a half hours after the tweet (and there were others, deleted by the State Department before the Times could archive them), Hillary Clinton issued her first pronunciamento:

I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack.

This evening, I called Libyan President Magariaf to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya. President Magariaf expressed his condemnation and condolences and pledged his government’s full cooperation.

Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.

In light of the events of today, the United States government is working with partner countries around the world to protect our personnel, our missions, and American citizens worldwide.

All right, but how deep is Hillary Clinton's commitment to tolerance of speech that offends her and her boss? Her declaration tells us little we didn't already know:

  • We now discover that the State Department doesn't believe that an anti-Moslem video justifies attacking embassies and murdering ambassadors. (Thank heaven for small favors!)
  • And once again, we sympathize with Moslems everywhere, who suffered such a crushing blow to their self esteem by learning that not everybody loves the Prophet Mohammed.

  • Finally, and let me be clear, we deplore violence.

Anybody notice what is still missing from this series of official responses, both before and after the bestial and unlawful attacks?

Two minutes later, the Department of Hillary summarily rejects the original embassy response, throwing Ambassador to Egypt Anne W. Patterson under the bus (along with her acting comandante, not sure who that was, since she was in Washington DC at the time of the attacks):

The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government.

Finally, and for the first time (a quarter hour after the Hillary manifesto and about seven hours after the attacks), Gov. Mitt Romney offers his own reaction and thoughts about the official governmental responses to this point:

I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

The Left immediately assailed Romney on three grounds:

  1. That he had no right to jump into this imbroglio because that would "politicize" it.
  2. On the spurious and unproven grounds that Romney had "confused the timeline" by foolishly thinking that the initial embassy response occurred after the attacks.
  3. And because, claims the Left, accusing Obama and minions of sympathizing with those who attack us is a vicious, racist lie! Romney's name should instantly be removed from every ballot on all fifty-seven states, allowing Barack "You didn't build that" Obama to win the way he normally wins his elections... by default!

On the first, here is Ben LaBolt, the Mouth of Barack, trying to pound home the first meme less than two hours later, that a presidential challenger has no right to criticize the president's political statements because doing so would politicize them:

We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America isconfronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya,Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack.

I'm shocked, shocked to find that politics is going on in here! So what was LaBolt's own statement, chopped liver? Don't be a dolt: Accusing your opponent of playing politics is itself playing politics.

Never in the modern era have we seen a more politicized presidency than the one we suffer through right now. I marvel at the chutzpah LaBolt required to accuse anyone else of "launch[ing] a political attack!" I reckon he didn't want a crisis to go to waste. We can dispense with the absurdity of the pot calling... oh dear, I don't want to be accused of racism, so I'll just stifle my freedom of speech. (See how well it works?)

All right, but what about the second prong of the attack on Romney? Didn't he confuse the timeline? Isn't he just another fulminating, redfaced, rage-filled, cement-headed, racist rightwinger?

The charge that Romney was just too stupid to know (or too dishonest to admit) that the attacks hadn't occurred yet when the Cairo embassy released its first statement critically depends upon one completely hidden assumption: The Left must assume that Romney had not seen the several follow-up tweets that came after the attacks, where the embassy "stands by" its earlier kowtowing to Moslem sensitivity.

But why wouldn't he have? Many hours had passed between the original embassy statement, the attacks, and Romney's first response. He has a very large and well-funded campaign; and the tweets themselves were known by news agencies -- again obviously, as several of them still exist, even after the State Department deleted them: People knew about the tweets and had saved them.

Let's assume that in the seven hours or so between the attacks and Romney's response, he wasn't just sitting on a treestump, silent as the Sphinx. Let's assume the GOP nominee was actually talking about the most urgent and shocking news story of the day.

Is that so farfetched? How unreasonable is it that Mitt Romney, angered by that first embassy response, asked his staff whether there was any other statement or pronouncement responding to the developing international incident? How unthinkable is it really that some member of his crack staff put the tweets in Romney's hand and said, "take a look at these, governor."

I can easily imagine the conversation -- because I went through pretty much the same conversation with my wife Sachi at about the same time:

ROMNEY: Wait -- when were these tweets sent?

STAFFER: Six-thirty p.m. Eastern time, sir.

ROMNEY: But that's three hours after the attacks! They're still feeling sorry for those poor, put-upon terrorists, even after the attacks? And what's this bit here, that expressing a view that offends Moslems is an abuse of freedom of speech? What lunatic wrote this?

STAFFER: Governor, this statement from the State Department just came in...

ROMNEY: Great leaping horny toads -- what does Hillary Clinton mean when she says we "deplore any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others?" Iran says Jews should be exterminated; Hamas calls Jews and Christians "pigs and monkeys," and demands that the U.N. enact an anti-blasphemy law; and the ACLU, great pals of President Obama, are busy in court trying to prevent the display of the "miracle cross" from the World Trade Centers, because God unconstitutionally fused two pieces of metal together! This is insane. This is nothing like what George W. Bush said when he stood on the rubble at ground zero. This administration is a pack of howling jackals! And I'm going to let them know just what I think of such unAmerican bowing and scraping.

The Romney statement could have followed immediately thereafter -- greaty toned down, of course.

But what about the third attack, that it's a damned lie to claim that the government "sympathized" with the radical Islamists? Here is my neat and sweet, three-point syllogism refudiating the Progressivist position on this exchange:

  1. Count how many times the official administration responses defended our fundamental freedom of speech.
  2. Count how many times, how many lines, how many paragraphs, and the percent of these government responses taken up with blanket, codependent reassurances issued to radical Islamists that we feel their pain, that we're appalled that Americans would "abuse" the freedom of speech in such an unconstitutional way: insulting the Prophet Mohammed, of all things!

  3. Contrast and compare: Between those wicked and despicable free-speechers on the right hand and the blood-gutted, human-sacrificing terrorists on the left -- and using only the textual evidence before us -- which side has all of the administration's sympathy? Which side gets the "poor babies," and which gets the back of Obama's hand?

I rest my case: Romney had the bastards pegged.

(If you're still confused about where our government's sympathies lie, just read this breaking Yahoo News story about our tax dollars hard at work... airing an advert in Pakistan reassuring Moslems that we really, really, really don't believe in freedom of speech, and we're extremely concerned for the feelings of jihadists, so please, please, don't kill us!)

Early the next morning, Barack "Too busy with Letterman to meet with Netanyahu" Obama issued his own statement; it was entirely trivial, uninformative, perfunctory. Here is the only sentence that pertains to the question at hand:

While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.

Senseless? Really? Al-Qaeda, defeated by "the previous administration," has been resuscitated by the current one. They launched a series of astonishingly successful attacks, killed our people, raised their own flag and burned ours, and generally demonstrated their prowess and fitness to rule the ummah. Makes a heck of a lot of sense from their perspective!

We have one last document to document. Just to make it super-duper clear, this is Mitt Romney's second response, the next morning. Note that what was missing from all of the official government statements is present, loud and clear, in the ringing words of the next President of the United States.

I shall put the entire Romney release under the "Slither on;" here I post only those portions of his televised speech that pertain to what the government forgot, on every possible occasion, to do: make the case for a general right to freedom of speech for everyone, even those living in Moslem countries.

Mitt Romeny makes it crystal clear in this statement what he only implied in his first statement: The Cairo embassy, on its twitter feed, stood by its first apology for freedom of speech at 6:30 pm EDT. Therefore, they effectively issued the same statement twice, once before the attacks and once after them. Romney was outraged by that second statement, the "ditto" declaration. And it was that reiteration, that standing by, that prompted the governor to state, four hours later, that it was "disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."

When he made his statement, the embassy had already been attacked -- and had already reaffirmed its initial apology. That is the context in which Romney first sent a statement, then later gave a press conference. Romney and the rest of us already knew that our embassies had been attacked, and anybody following the twitter feed already knew that the embassy was still apologizing for American values even after being attacked and overrun, and after the attack on its sister consulate in Libya turned murderous.

Never forget that. The Left wants us to believe that the Cairo embassy had no idea what was going to happen when they idiotically denigrated freedom of speech. But they did it again after the attacks, so they have no excuse whatsoever.

Here is Romney's presser, beginning with a small portion of his prepared remarks:

America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We'll defend, also, our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion. We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution, because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.

I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions. It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values. The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn't cleared by Washington, and that reflects the mixed signals they're sending to the world.

In the Q&A that followed (unlike Obama, Romney welcomes questions; he even welcomes them from those in the news biz who sincerely want to see Romney lose):

Q: The statement you refer to was very -- (inaudible) -- last night -- (inaudible) -- given what we know now?

MR. ROMNEY: I -- the embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached. Protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach. I think it's a terrible course to -- for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. And apology for America's values is never the right course.

Q: Governor Romney, do you think, though, coming so soon after the events really had unfolded overnight, it was appropriate to be weighing in on this as this crisis is unfolding in real time?

MR. ROMNEY: The White House also issued a statement saying it tried to distance itself from those comments and said they were not reflecting of their views. I had the exact same reaction. These views were inappropriate, they were the wrong course to take. When our embassy is -- has been breached by protesters, the first response should not be to say, yes, we stand by our comments that suggest that there's something wrong with the right of free speech....

Q: Governor, some people are saying you jumped the gun a little in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Do you regret having that statement come out so early, before we learned about all the things that were happening?

MR. ROMNEY: I don't think we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles. We express immediately when we feel that the president and his administration have done something which is inconsistent with the principles of America. Simply put, having an embassy which is -- has been breached and has protesters on its grounds, having violated the sovereignty of the United States -- having that embassy reiterate a statement effectively apologizing for the right of free speech is not the right course for an administration.

Sure, it's not Tom Paine or Thomas Jefferson; but for a contemporary politician embroiled in a hot race for the presidency -- which both Gallup and Rasmussen polls today show to be neck and neck -- it's a bold, spirited, unapologetic, and forthright celebration of our greatest freedom. Mitt Romney thinks like a real American, while Barack "Citizen of the world" Obama thinks like an anticolonial Progressivist who has never been sure whether he loves his country or despises it to the bone.

(Much like how the president feels about his biological progenitor: Abandoned by the man himself, Obama wraps himself in a self-generated fantasy -- dreams from his father, dreams from his country, an obsessed fan longing for love with a fictional TV character.)

But back to the point. Mitt Romney's heartfelt response to the administration's tepid condemnation of the attacks, and his outrage at the complete absence of any defense of freedom of speech (in fact, a tacit renunciation of such freedoms, now shackled by the "Tender Sensibilities of Moslems" exception), was clearly the best and most appropriate possible thing he could say anent the craven surrender by the Obamunists.

Several more attacks against the United States have been carried out in Yemen, Kuwait, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, and now China; yet even the pro-forma denunciations of violence against America have been dropped, presumably because the administration concludes that denial of the new attacks is more tenable at this point than an explanation of the administration's own foreign-policy and security failures.

What concrete steps have we actually taken to find and punish the Libyan killers, and those Egyptians who so easily overran our actual embassy in Cairo? How are we responding to the new attacks on Americans and on America itself? China and Japan are in a tussle over what the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands and purchased them from its previous owner, the Kurihara family. China calls them the Diaoyu Islands; and since oil was discovered under the islands in 1968, the People's Republic of China demands they be seized from Japan and handed over to China.

Naturally, anti-Japanese protesters in China see this as the perfect opportunity to attack the American ambassador -- because we're allied with Japan, and because one of the islands (Kuba, no relation to Castro's paradise) is used as an American bombing range. For the PRC, snatching away the islands, which have been controlled by Japan or by the United States since 1895 and never by China, would be a "two-fer": Red China would get the oil and would be able to drive the U.S. Navy out of part of what China considers its hemisphere.

Why is Red China so bold as to threaten us and Japan over the sale this month? Because we are weak. America is weaker today than it has been in many, many decades; and the ease and impugnity of these attacks on our embassies (American sovereign territory -- once) and allies proves it. One would probably have to return to the mass American disarmament following World War I to find a moment when we were more ill prepared to defend ourselves, our property, our international rights, and our ideology of liberty.

Barack H. Obama has brought hope and change, all right: He has given our enemies hope and changed America from the final remaining superpower to a global laughingstock which cannot even fight back when attacked, so thoroughly has he gelded us. It's now a serious question whether we can man-up enough to fire the wretched redistributionist; or whether so many Americans have become court eunuchs, depending upon the government for their very sustenance, that a once proud nation now whines under the triple leash of Russia, China, and radical Islamism.

We shall find out how strong those leashes are on November 6th.

Here is the transcript of Mitt Romney's full remarks (truncated at the beginning, as for some reason the feed didn't begin right away):

…. with tragic news and felt heavy hearts as they considered that individuals who have served in our diplomatic corps were brutally murdered across the world.

This attack on American individuals and embassies is outrageous. It's disgusting. It -- it breaks the hearts of all of us who think of these people who have served during their lives the cause of freedom and justice and honor. We mourn their loss and join together in prayer that the spirit of the Almighty might comfort the families of those who have been so brutally slain.

Four diplomats lost their life, including the U.S. ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, in the attack on our embassy at Benghazi, Libya. And of course, with these words, I extend my condolences to the grieving loved ones who have left behind as a result of these who have lost their lives in the service of our nation. And I know that the people across America are grateful for their service, and we mourn their sacrifice.

America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We'll defend, also, our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion. We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution, because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.

I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions. It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values. The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn't cleared by Washington, and that reflects the mixed signals they're sending to the world.

The attacks in Libya and Egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed. In the face of this violence, America cannot shrink from the responsibility to lead. American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region don't spin out of control. We cannot hesitate to use our influence in the region to support those who share our values and our interests.

Over the last several years we stood witness to an Arab Spring that presents an opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region but also poses the potential for peril if the voices -- forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events. We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring does not become an Arab winter.

Q: The statement you refer to was very -- (inaudible) -- last night -- (inaudible) -- given what we know now?

MR. ROMNEY: I -- the embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached. Protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach. I think it's a terrible course to -- for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. And apology for America's values is never the right course.

Q: Governor Romney, do you think, though, coming so soon after the events really had unfolded overnight, it was appropriate to be weighing in on this as this crisis is unfolding in real time?

MR. ROMNEY: The White House also issued a statement saying it tried to distance itself from those comments and said they were not reflecting of their views. I had the exact same reaction. These views were inappropriate, they were the wrong course to take. When our embassy is -- has been breached by protesters, the first response should not be to say, yes, we stand by our comments that suggest that there's something wrong with the right of free speech.

Q: So what did the White House do wrong then, Governor Romney, if they -- if they put out a statement saying --

MR. ROMNEY: It's their administration -- their administration spoke. The president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth but also from the words that come from his ambassadors, from his administration, from his embassies, from his State Department. They clearly -- they clearly sent mixed messages to the world. And -- and the statement that came from the administration -- and the embassy is the administration -- the statement that came from the administration was a -- was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a -- a -- a severe miscalculation.

Q: Governor, some --

Q: Talk about mixed signals -- (inaudible) -- itself a mixed signal when you criticize the administration at a time -- (inaudible)?

MR. ROMNEY: We're -- we have a campaign for presidency of the United States and are speaking about the different courses we would each take with regards to the challenges that the world faces. The president and I, for instance, have differences of opinion with regards to Israel and our policies there, with regards to Iran, with regards to Afghanistan, with regards to Syria. We have many places of distinction and differences.

We joined together in the condemnation of the attacks on American embassies and the loss of American life and joined in the sympathy for these people. But it's also important for me -- just as it was for the White House last night, by the way -- to say that the statements were inappropriate and, in my view, a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for American values.

Q: Governor, some people are saying you jumped the gun a little in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Do you regret having that statement come out so early, before we learned about all the things that were happening?

MR. ROMNEY: I don't think we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles. We express immediately when we feel that the president and his administration have done something which is inconsistent with the principles of America. Simply put, having an embassy which is -- has been breached and has protesters on its grounds, having violated the sovereignty of the United States -- having that embassy reiterate a statement effectively apologizing for the right of free speech is not the right course for an administration.

STAFF: Last question.

Q: If you had known last night that the ambassador had died -- and obviously, I'm gathering you did not know --

MR. ROMNEY: Well, that came -- that came later.

Q: That's right. If you had known that the ambassador had died, would you have issued --

MR. ROMNEY: I'm not going -- I'm not going to take hypotheticals about what would have been known when and so forth.

We responded last night to the events that happened in Egypt.

Q: Governor, what sort of --

Q: Governor Romney, your -- one of your professed reasons for running is your economic know-how and your private sector experience. But now that foreign policy and the situation in the Middle East -- (off mic) -- the presidential campaign, can you talk about why, specifically, you think you're better qualified than President Obama -- (off mic)?

MR. ROMNEY: I think President Obama has demonstrated a lack of clarity as to a foreign policy. My foreign policy has three fundamental branches: first, confidence in our cause, a recognition that the principles America was based upon are not something we shrink from or apologize for, that we stand for those principles; the second is clarity in our purpose, which is that when we have a foreign policy objective, we describe it honestly and clearly to the American people, to Congress and to the people of the world; and number three is resolve in our might, that in those rare circumstances, those rare circumstances where we decide it's essential for us to apply military might, that we do so with overwhelming force, that we do so in the clarity of a mission, understanding the nature of the U.S. interest involved, understanding when the mission would be complete, what will be left when it is -- what will be left behind us when that mission has been -- has been terminated.

These elements, I believe, are essential to our foreign policy, and I haven't seen them from the president. As I watched -- as I've watched over the past three and a half years, the president has had some successes. He's had some failures. It's a hit-or-miss approach, but it has not been based upon sound foreign policy.

Q: Governor Romney, how, specifically -- how, specifically, Governor Romney, would President Romney have handled this situation differently than President Obama did? Before midnight, when all the facts were known? How would you have handled it differently than the president did?

MR. ROMNEY: I spoke out when the key fact that I referred to was known, which was that the Embassy of the United States issued what appeared to be an apology for American principles. That was a mistake. And I believe that when a mistake is made of that significance, you speak out.

Thank you.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 21, 2012, at the time of 4:11 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2012

The Prince's New Clothes

Afghan Astonishments , Media Madness , Military Machinations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

Almost the definition of "TMI", too much information: Prince Harry's naked binge in Las Vegas, shortly before he was deployed to Afghanistan as an Apache pilot. So a young, privileged man got drunk and naked in Las Vegas; what else is new?

Harry, third in line for King of England (after his father, Charles, Prince of Wales; and Harry's brother, William, Duke of Cambridge), was photographed in the buff with some pretty, young, and equally naked thing of the female persuasion, who gallantly crouched behind him during his epic Kodak moment. But that singular embarassment seems to have produced quite a few ripples in spacetime... which may have been the proximate cause of the killing of at least two United States Marines.

A week after Hank's exhibitionist exertions -- and right around the time his sister in law enjoyed her own naked romp in full view of an unnoticed camera -- the princeling was trundled off to war. (What is it with these Royals constantly putting their crown jewels on display?)

Impudent question: Did Harry's harem antics themselves damage British morale, even apart from the deadly, if somewhat tenuous chain of events that followed? Hard to say; how did you feel about Bill Clinton as Commander in Chief, after the flood of bizarre snd squalid sex stories broke? Did you have the same respect for him that you had for other, previous CinCs?

All right, all right; it's not as if the Royal Pains sent the blot away to get him out of the headlines. His deployment was long planned; more than likely, he went on a tear in Vegas precisely because he was about to be shipped out. Alas, the former conjecture is exactly what the Taliban believes, or at least professes: That Harry was sent away to cover-up his "shame." He thus became a perfect target for the cave-dwelling barbarians in Afghanistan, he and everyone else around him.

But let's take a side excursion. When we read the news about Prince Harry heading to Afghanistan, many bloggers with a military background were worried. Too much information was being revealed, allowing the "insurgents" -- radical Islamists in the Taliban and allied terrorist groups -- to track Prince Harry's every movement:

The 27-year-old arrived in Camp Bastion in Helmand in the early hours of this morning, where he will be based for the duration of his tour with 622 Sqn, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps.

His role will be to kill insurgents as he operates the aircraft's weapon systems, which include Hellfire missiles and a 30mm chain gun. He will also be expected to provide air cover on missions by special forces....

In stark contrast to the media blackout imposed when the Prince undertook his previous tour, the Ministry of Defence has taken the decision to inform the public about his presence in Afghanistan from the word go, and arranged for a reporter and photographer from the Press Association news agency to fly to Camp Bastion to provide coverage on a pooled basis.

We understand that the Brits wanted to advertise the fact that Prince Harry is a serious officer in the Royal Army; and they wanted to remove the bad taste from Harry's last deployment, which had to be cut short after he was targeted four years ago:

The Prince was "incredibly frustrated" to be pulled out of Afghanistan 11 weeks into his last tour because of US media reporting on his presence there, said his spokesman, though the fully understood why the decision had been taken.

But was it actually necessary to tell the whole world the exact base at which he would be deployed, precisely what his mission would entail, and even which squadron he'd be assigned to? Whatever happened to the old expression, "loose lips sink ships?"

It doesn't take a General Petraeus to figure out that Harry would instantly become Taliban Enemy Number One; plenty of milbloggers foresaw that possibility; they even joked about the possible outcomes to the careless announcement of Harry's whereabouts:

Prince Harry or Captain Wales, whichever you prefer to call him, is reporting for duty at Camp Bastion as an Apache pilot. I believe that his previous tour in Afghanistan saw him in essentially a JTAC role with the british cavalry. The photo and info below was provided courtesy of the MoD [Ministry of Defence].

Is this the result of his vacation in Vegas (the notes I read state that this was long planned)? And why in the hell would the MoD announce the unit, camp, location, etc of his current station?

Surprise, surprise on the Jungle Riverboat Cruise tonight. Just yesterday, two US marines were killed protecting Prince Harry:

British troops were involved in the firefight to repel the deadly Taliban attack on the military base in Afghanistan where Prince Harry is currently based, it was revealed this morning.

At least two US Marines were killed in the strike on the base in Helmand province, which houses American and British troops among others....

A Taliban spokesman said the attack was in revenge for an amateur film that mocked Islam, and because Prince Harry was known to be at the base.

Why do we say they were killed "protecting Prince Harry?" Leaving the boilerplate about "revenge for an amateur film that mocked Islam" on the cutting-room floor -- it's the all-purpose excuse du jour for any Taliban outrage -- the Taliban themselves say they attacked the base precisely because they knew that "Captain Wales" was there.

And the Marines were killed defending against that attack, which actually breeched the 30-foot high, concrete perimeter wall, something which the Taliban had never been able to do before. They must have pulled out all the stops, desperately trying to kill the British Royal.

And how did the Taliban know the prince was there? Because some subgenius in Britain's Ministry of Defence thought it a wonderful idea "to inform the public about his presence in Afghanistan from the word go, and arrange[] for a reporter and photographer from the Press Association news agency to fly to Camp Bastion to provide coverage on a pooled basis!" [Punctuation altered; the original Brit kept a stiff upper lip and refrained from using an exclamation point. -- the Mgt.]

Bureaucrats, even those in the MoD (and those in our own DoD), simply do not see the world as real, populated with real people with real lives to lose. They treat war like an artfully staged "reality TV" show. What the British and American media did to American and British troops is far worse than anything done by those pathetic filmmakers and their lame trailor.

All the latter did was express their political and religious points of view; but the media released a military secret, thus goading the Taliban into an all-out attempt to pull off a 9/11-type "martyrdom operation," with the potential of causing devastating harm to both our countries. Fortunately, the primitive radical Islamists couldn't quite pull it off; they didn't kill Prince Godiva. But they did kill two American Marines.

I wonder whether General Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will call those American and British reporters (along with the British Defence Ministry) and urge them to stop revealing military information and offending free countries. He likes to let his fingers do the kow-towing.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, September 18, 2012, at the time of 3:34 AM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2012

Story Wars, Chapter One

Election Derelictions , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Word on the street is that Leon Panetta, the hyperpartisan Democratic representative now inexplicably elevated by Barack "You didn't build that" Obama to Secretary of Defense (i.e., America's penultimate military official), is beside himself with rage at the publication of a book by a former US Navy SEAL, Matt Bissonnette (writing under the pseudonym of "Mark Owen"). Panetta has made it quite clear that he's going to drop the hammer on "Owen":

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is suggesting that a retired Navy SEAL be punished for writing a book giving an insider's account of the U.S. raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.

Asked in a network interview if he thinks the writer should be prosecuted, Panetta replied, "I think we have to take steps to make clear to him and to the American people that we're not going to accept this kind of behavior."

Hm.

Yet it's interesting that Panetta is still not willing to state with authority that "Owen" revealed any classified information whatsoever in the book; the Pentagon is still "reviewing" the situation. Either Panetta and his brass band are inordinately slow readers; or they've already read the dang book twice through, yet still can't find anything in it that shouldn't be. But they're certain that increasingly crabbed and narrow scrutiny will reveal something, anything, to justify prosecution!

The secretary stopped short of accusing the author of revealing classified information, but said Pentagon officials "are currently reviewing that book to determine exactly, you know, what is classified and what isn't, and where those lines are."

(Note that the AP news story charmingly -- or tendentiously -- refuses to print the title of the book: No Easy Day, if you're curious and want to read it yourself. I cannot recall similar MSM reticence and respect for the military's, or at least the Pentagon's tender sensibilities since... well, since the last time a whistleblower blew the whistle on a Democratic president.)

But the most Alice In Wonderland feature of this bizarre brouhaha is that we do have a public figure who has revealed reams, bushels, boxcars of undisputed, highly classified intelligence about this very same raid. And that incontinent leaker is of course Leon Panetta's boss: Barack Hussein Obama, Occupier in Chief.

President B.O. doesn't "leak" SEAL and bin Laden intel; he blasts it from a firehose. But there is a more fiercely urgent distinction between the two, from the president's perspective: When Barack Obama opens the floodgates of classified material, it's to plant a heroic, epic version of the raid that puts Himself front and center. And he clearly intends his gusher of erstwhile secrets to buttress his national-security credentials, paradoxically enough; for on the campaign trail, he thumps his chest and bleats how "he" killed bin Laden... absurdly contrasting himself favorably to the disfavored Mitt Romney, who has never killed anybody.

Given that context, it's very had not to conclude that what really torques off Secretary Panetta is that "Mark Owen" and co-author Kevin Maurer stomp all over Obama's self-serving fairy tale with the dadburned truth. This undercuts any electoral advantage the killing of bin Laden might otherwise confer on the Lightbringer and Ocean Subsider.

Obama and minions are hopping mad because No Easy Day rained on Obama's campaign parade.

AP's final paragraph is a wonder of undetected irony:

Panetta said the book, which went on sale this week, raises troubling national security questions.

"Well, I think when somebody talks about the particulars of how those operations are conducted, it tells our enemies, essentially, how we operate and what we do to go after them," he said.

Preach it, Grandmaster P.!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 11, 2012, at the time of 1:40 PM | Comments (6)

January 1, 2012

Barack the Peacemocker

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

According to my favorite blogger at my favorite blog (and the Associated Press), President Barack H. "Bubble Boy" Obama is currently in secret negotiations with the Taliban -- to be "mediated," if Obama has his way, by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi: a Koran-thumping, jihad-urging, radical-Islamist cleric in Afghanistan.

The bare bones of the agreement our president is hammering out with the Taliban is this:

  • Americans unconditionally withdraw all forces from Afghanistan.
  • We give up all objection to the Taliban returning to power (as part of a "coalition" with the Karzai government * ).
  • We build a headquarters compound for the Taliban.
  • We announce that we are no longer enemies with the Taliban.
  • We release all Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay and allow them to return to Afghanistan -- and resume the activities that landed them in Gitmo in the first place.
  • We issue an apology from the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan; after which Obama goes barefoot and bareheaded to Kandahar, where he bows deeply from the waist and begs forgiveness -- for George W. Bush's wickedness.

(That last bullet point isn't official; I'm just logically extrapolating.)

In the Power Line post, John Hinderacker theorizes about what President B.O. has in mind:

[T]he Afghanistan war is deeply unpopular [it is? I thought that was the good war! -- DaH], and Obama wants to run for re-election next November on the boast that he "ended two wars." The baleful consequences of re-installing the Taliban in Afghanistan will not appear until long after the next election campaign, which is all that Obama cares about.

John implies, I believe, that the maneuver will have the desired effect: Obama will be lionized for being the peacemaker, Bush reviled as a warmonger, and this will give Bubble Boy a swift boost into a second term. But bear in mind that traditionally, the closer we approach an election, the more pessimistic become the lads at Power Line.

I have a different take on the political outcome of Obama "workin' the machinations behind the scenes," as Louis Farrakhan might put it. Rather than a political triumph for Obama, I see a soft spot that even the Republican Party will be able to hit while dead drunk and with one eye tied behind its back -- which, to be honest, is the way it usually campaigns.

Here's the plan. We wait until Barack Obama begins strutting and chest thumping about how he has "ended two wars," then we respond thus:

President Obama has discovered a super-easy way to end any war quickly: just surrender. We prematurely withdraw from Afghanistan at the same time we prematurely withdraw from Iraq, leaving the door wide open to an Iranian invasion; what a diplomatic masterstroke! Obama becomes the first president in American history to lose two wars... simultaneously!

It seems the One We Have Been Waiting For actually believes that surrendering to two different gangs of radical Islamists is America's greatest national-security triumph, and he expects us to reward him with another term. Even worse, these are two wars that we had already won -- that is, until Barack Obama took over and found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Heckuva job, Mr. President.

I have no idea who gave him the cockamamie idea to bring the Taliban back in Afghanistan and to prematurely withdraw from Iraq and allow Iran to take over. It's as if in 1945, after the Germans surrendered in World War II, FDR had entered into secret negotiations with the surviving Nazis to withdraw all American troops, then help restore the Nazi Party to power again in Germany... while simultaneously encouraging the Soviets to seize control of Japan, China, and the Philippines.

Even Jimmy Carter stands in awe of such a colossal concatenation of catastrophe.

Barack Obama has pulled off a feat that none of us thought possible: His foreign and national-security policy has failed even worse than his domestic and economic policy... a breathtaking achievement!

I say, bring it on; how I long to have that debate. What is Obama going to argue? "Look, it has been three months already, and the Taliban has not yet reinstated mass torture-executions of Christians, moderate Moslems, and uppity women!"

Well of course not: Part of Obama's secret deal with the Taliban requires them to hold off until Obama is safely reelected... probably the only clause of the contract they will fulfill; and then only because having Barack Hussein Obama continue to occupy the White House is in the Taliban's best interest, and Iran's as well.

All that's left is to declare all American hydrocarbon fuel off-limits at the very moment the Iranians decide to blockade the Strait of Hormuz; then the cosmic Obasmic failure will be complete, thorough -- and irreversible.

 

* Note that the Taliban and Hamid Karzai's government are deadly, sworn enemies; how's that parlay going to work out?

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 1, 2012, at the time of 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2011

Where We Were

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

My own story is not particularly inspiring: I was still sleeping (morning does not become Dafydd) when Sachi, who had left for work long earlier, came bursting home, shook me awake (none to gently), and breathlessly announced, "Dafydd, something terrible has happened -- the World Trade Center is gone!"

As I tried to make sense of what she was saying, she spilled the rest of the news -- that a barbaric and evil terrorist attack brought down both the Twin Towers and leveled one of the segments of the Pentagon, or the five-sided triangle, as I call it. Worse, that there were still unaccounted planes in the air, other targets, and that Southern California could be in the crosshairs as well.

We spent the day glued to the television while calling friends and relatives, naturally; but my own experience of the enormity was neither interesting nor personal but purely communal. (I found out later that one of my cousins, who worked in a building just a few blocks from the WTC, had actually eyewitnessed the second plane striking the south tower.)

But Sachi's tale is rather more interesting and cautionary, speaking to the heart of why the September 11th attacks could succeed in the first place. So I turn the forum over to her...

~

That day, Tuesday, September 11, 2001, I left home a little after six in the morning, PST. When I turned on the radio, I heard the excited voice of a local Los Angeles radio show host, Larry Elder. I thought it was strange, because his program usually came on in the afternoon. I don't remember whose program I expected, but normal programming was not on. The first words I heard Elder say were "-- the worst terrorist attack in the US history!"

I remember shouting at the radio: "What? What happened?" It seemed like forever before Elder came back to the point that two jet airliners had slammed into the World Trade Centers, and that several planes were still unaccounted for.

Elder was on with another news reporter from New York, who talked about the many people still trapped inside the two towers. The New York reporter said people were actually jumping off the buildings to their deaths rather than brave the heat and hopelessness on the roof. Then suddenly, he stopped and shouted, "What was that?"

A terrible sound came over the radio, like something big exploding. It was the sound of the first tower collapsing, the south tower (which was actually the second tower struck).

Still driving, I started to feel dizzy. I thought it was not safe for me to drive any longer. But I was very close to the Navy base where I worked as a civilian engineer, so I kept on going. A half an hour after the south tower collapsed, while I was waiting in a terrible jam-up at the security gate, I heard the second tower disintegrate.

The base was at Threat Condition Delta, the highest alert condition. Sailors with automatic weapons, not the usual security guards, were checking our credentials and cars a lot more thoroughly than usual. Needless to say, it took long time to get through the gate.

Over the next thirty minutes or so, I began to hear what had already happened to United Flight 93, which had crashed into Stonycreek Township, PA; and to American Flight 77, which had crashed into the Pentagon.

Finally I parked and headed for the office, but I felt disconnected. I had to lean over the car to stop myself from falling. I kept saying out loud, "Oh my god, oh my god!"

As soon as I got to my desk, I tried to call Dafydd. But for some reason, the phone in the office was out of order, and I didn't have a cell phone back then.

In a stunning instance of irony, the attack fell on a Tuesday; and in 2001, an anti-terrorism brief was given every Tuesday at our base. As a new employee, I was scheduled to attend a brief that very morning!

At 0900 PST, I attended the brief. But the instructor just shook his head and said, "Everything I was going to tell you is out the window. I was supposed to tell you that a highjacking is a survivable situation, as long as you do what the highjacker demands. Don't be a hero. See how that turned out!"

So instead, we just watched the TV. For the first time, I actually saw what I had only heard before: planes driving into the towers, people jumping off the buildings, and the two towers crumbling like waterlogged sand castles, one after another.

I couldn't cry; I just felt sick to my stomach.

After the brief, we non-essential employees were all dismissed. "Go home, don't come back until we call you." I drove home.

I went into the bedroom and woke Dafydd. I remember saying, "Dafydd, something terrible has happened...!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 11, 2011, at the time of 4:33 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2011

They Call the Wind "Sharia"

Constitutional Maunderings , Liberal Lunacy , Sharia Shenanigans , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Let's start with a simple call and response.

Mr. Bones:

A national drive against citing “foreign” laws in U.S. courts -- one that critics say is a veiled attack on Islamic Shariah law -- has reached the state with the nation’s largest concentration of Muslims.

The Michigan bill, which mirrors "American Laws for American Courts" legislation introduced in more than 20 other states, was introduced in June by state Rep. Dave Agema, Grandville Republican. He has argued that it has nothing to do with Islam or the faith’s Koran-based Shariah law, but is designed to stop anyone who seeks to invoke a foreign law in state courts.

Mr. Tambo:

Victor Begg, a Republican and senior adviser to the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, calls the legislation "hogwash" and said it is clear there is an underlying agenda. He suggested that such measures moving through more than 20 states are part of an organized and well-funded "witch hunt" and that Islam and Muslim-Americans are the real targets.

"We are appalled that our elected officials would waste their time on something that is unnecessary," Mr. Begg said, noting Michigan’s economic woes, including one of the nation’s highest jobless rates.

"We are very unhappy that in these days and times that a large number of legislators would target a minority faith like ours. This is reminiscent of what happened to Catholics a century ago. We don’t need to go back to the Dark Ages here. We have built relationships and we do a lot of interfaith work, and we are not into civil rights, filing lawsuits and such."

Catholics? Were Catholics in the United States trying to introduce Catholic ecclesiastical law into civil and criminal courts? Were they prevented from doing so by brand new legislation forbidding the vicars of Christ from exercising temporal authority over citizens? In my readings of history, I seem to have overlooked that chapter.

In fact, the "Catholic" accusation is a complete non-sequitur, a red herring; but it's also a preemptive strike of "dawa," the promulgation and propagation of jihad by means other than actual warfare.

The American Laws for American Courts legislation can be argued either way, pro or con (though I think on the whole it's a very good idea, and I would vote for it if it was a citizens constitutional amendment).

It's certainly true that American law comes from British law, to a large extent, so we've already let the cat out of the bottle. And what about situations where a court is stuck deciding a case with virtually no American caselaw; shouldn't the court at least look at how other nations have dealt with the situation, for good or ill?

But on the other hand (how Kerryesque!), other countries almost certainly have very different ideas of due process, evidence, and the rights enjoyed by the people. Areas of conflict between foreign courts and the demands of American jurisprudence include:

  • The citizen's interaction with the government, including the right to keep and bear arms, religious freedom, freedom of speech and assembly, and due process rights, all of which many countries curtail in ways that would be unconstitutional in the United States;
  • The proper interaction between men and women, often abused via the acceptance of so-called "honor" killings and curtailing of women's property rights, voting rights, employment rights, and women's right to choose their own relationships (forced marriages);
  • The tension between the individual and his or her community; many countries enforce a national culture by law, for example by prescribing or prohibiting unconventional clothing or hairstyle, banning certain kinds of music, literature, art, and even advertising, or confining immigrants to special zones to avoid "corrupting" the native-born;
  • And the proper role of Capitalism; many foreign countries greatly mistrust private capital altogether and have criminalize "excess profit," or allow the State to sue individuals to relieve them of the fruits of their labors; others set up so many rules, regulations, and required licenses that only the well-connected can run the gauntlet to start a new business. (Alas, the United States itself is starting to heed the call of that siren temptation.)

To hijack foreign laws in order to force the United States to become one with the rest of the world would be an irrecoverable enormity that would either spell the end of American exceptionalism -- which many opponents of American Laws for American Courts would likewise denounce -- or spark another bloody American revolution to restore liberty and freedom.

But whichever side you take on the underlying sins and virtues of the legislation, one fact is demonstrably clear: The American Laws for American Courts legislation itself is facially and de facto non-sectarian. Unlike some recent state actions, it does not single out sharia law or any other specific foreign law (which would allow-by-omission the admissibility of all the rest).

I have added the model legislation for American Laws for American Courts in the "Slither on" section of this post (click to read); you can read it for yourself and judge whether it specifically and particularly attacks sharia law while allowing American courts to base decisions on other foreign courts, or whether it is even-handed and applies equally to all.

I take this version of the model legislation from the American Public Policy Alliance. On their website, they do cite sharia law as the most dangerous current incursion of foreign concepts of jurisprudence into American law; but the legislation itself singles out no particular foreign court whatsoever, not sharia, nor Communist, nor tribal principles of criminal compensation, nor the Napoleonic Code of France.

Yet despite that fact, all of the mass protest against this law -- both by sectarian groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR, essentially a front group for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood) and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan, and by atheist and non-sectarian activist groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU, essentially a front group for the most liberal of the Democratic National Committee) -- all the mass protest has focused exclusively on Moslems and the introduction of sharia law into many, many states of the United States.

Which, in a completely unrelated coincidence, has been accelerating of late:

A study by the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., looked at 50 appellate cases from 23 states and found that Shariah law had been applied or formally recognized in court decisions.

Those cases, said Christopher Holton, a vice president at the center, represent the tip of the iceberg in what he describes as a growing conflict in state courts, where many decisions are never publicized.

"There is no question -- Shariah principles are finding their way into our courts for years now. It’s inherently discriminatory for women -- most of these involved family law. When you get a ruling in a child custody case from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan or Egypt and it’s family law, it’s all Shariah," he said.

So how should we understand this phenomenon? I have a simple principle: When a law banning X is proposed, and a person or group vigorously opposes that law, there are only two plausible motivations:

  1. The opposition has no personal interest in X but is simply high-minded and believes in the liberty of others, enough so to put themselves at risk for pure principle.
  2. The opposition actually wants to engage in X and is angry at being thwarted; it has a deep and direct personal interest in stopping the legislation.

Consider Motivation 1: If the opponents of American Laws for American Courts are simply high-minded, then they must believe that courts should generally be allowed to cite not only sharia law but also rulings from Catholic countries like France and Italy; Protestant countries like Great Britain and Germany; the lone Jewish state of Israel; countries whose governments are very socialist and anti-religion in general, like the Netherlands, the Scandanavian countries, and Red China; and of course "international courts," such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court (both at the Hague), the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, and indeed all other courts in France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, the U.K., Australia, and Canada that claim "universal jurisdiction" when prosecuting "crimes against humanity."

Such noble dissenters would never single out one kind of court and one alone, because that would fly in the face of the exact principle they defend... just as a true supporter of the principle of freedom of religion cannot say, "oh, but of course I don't mean religious freedom for Mormons; that's totally different!"

But of course, that is precisely how a person or group would act if he opposed the legislation for Motivation 2 -- because he or they actually want to engage in X themselves and are fighting back when told they cannot. There is nothing inherently wrong with Motivation 2; it generally supplies far more energy to a movement than the detatched and lofty dissent emanating from Motivation 1. I would say much of the mounting opposition to Obamunism comes from people suddenly being directly hurt by that avatar of "Progressivism."

But by the same token, opponents driven by Motivation 2 are often few but fanatical, and frequently act contrary to the rights, privileges, and welfare of the many.

I think it obvious which motivation, 1 or 2, best categorizes CAIR and the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan; they rail against the legislation as "an organized and well-funded 'witch hunt'" whose "real targets" are "Islam and Muslim-Americans." You certainly don't hear CAIR sticking up for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. (For that matter, you also don't hear CAIR supporting the authority of American courts to try American-killing jihadis in American courts, even when the murders are committed in some Moslem dictatorship. It only applauds international precedents when they favor Islamism, sharia, and jihad, not when they attempt to hold radical Islamists accountable for their despicable deeds.)

No doubt whatsoever; the vast majority of those opposing the American Laws for American Courts legislation are doing so from an entirely self-serving motive: They have a long-term plan to fully embed sharia law into U.S. courts.

But why? Consider this: If jurisdictions within the United States codify sharia law into their public legislation, that would allow radical imams to declare the United States to be part of the ummah, the Moslem world; then, under sharia, such a declaration would make it perfectly legitimate to call for full-scale jihad against America -- bombings, assassinations, and the use of weapons of mass destruction -- to "reclaim" that "Moslem" country that is currently "occupied" by infidels.

Laws such as American Laws for American Courts are vital in order to maintain, not some racial or religious "purity of essence," but the seminal, organic principles upon which this country was founded: individual liberty, limited government, and Capitalism.

As Sam Gamgee says, there are good things in this world, and they're worth fighting for. I believe one whopping good thing worth fighting for is the American system of justice: When not being abused by traitors, seducers, and corrupters, it is still the ninth wonder of the world.

This is the model legislation suggested by the American Public Policy Alliance:

~

MODEL LEGISLATION

AN ACT to protect rights and privileges granted under the United States or [State] Constitution.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE [GENERAL ASSEMBLY/LEGISLATURE] OF THE STATE OF [_____]:

The [general assembly/legislature] finds that it shall be the public policy of this state to protect its citizens from the application of foreign laws when the application of a foreign law will result in the violation of a right guaranteed by the constitution of this state or of the United States, including but not limited to due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of this state.

The [general assembly/state legislature] fully recognizes the right to contract freely under the laws of this state, and also recognizes that this right may be reasonably and rationally circumscribed pursuant to the state’s interest to protect and promote rights and privileges granted under the United States or [State] Constitution, including but not limited to due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of this state.

[1] As used in this act, “foreign law, legal code, or system” means any law, legal code, or system of a jurisdiction outside of any state or territory of the United States, including, but not limited to, international organizations and tribunals, and applied by that jurisdiction’s courts, administrative bodies, or other formal or informal tribunals For the purposes of this act, foreign law shall not mean, nor shall it include, any laws of the Native American tribes in this state.

[2] Any court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency ruling or decision shall violate the public policy of this State and be void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency bases its rulings or decisions in in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any law, legal code or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the U.S. and [State] Constitutions, including but not limited to due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of this state.

[3] A contract or contractual provision (if capable of segregation) which provides for the choice of a law, legal code or system to govern some or all of the disputes between the parties adjudicated by a court of law or by an arbitration panel arising from the contract mutually agreed upon shall violate the public policy of this State and be void and unenforceable if the law, legal code or system chosen includes or incorporates any substantive or procedural law, as applied to the dispute at issue, that would not grant the parties the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the U.S. and [State] Constitutions, including but not limited to due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of this state.

[4]

A. A contract or contractual provision (if capable of segregation) which provides for a jurisdiction for purposes of granting the courts or arbitration panels in personam jurisdiction over the parties to adjudicate any disputes between parties arising from the contract mutually agreed upon shall violate the public policy of this State and be void and unenforceable if the jurisdiction chosen includes any law, legal code or system, as applied to the dispute at issue, that would not grant the parties the same fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the U.S. and [State] Constitutions, including but not limited to due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and any right of privacy or marriage as specifically defined by the constitution of this state.
B. If a resident of this state, subject to personal jurisdiction in this state, seeks to maintain litigation, arbitration, agency or similarly binding proceedings in this state and if the courts of this state find that granting a claim of forum non conveniens or a related claim violates or would likely violate the fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges granted under the U.S. and [State] Constitutions of the non-claimant in the foreign forum with respect to the matter in dispute, then it is the public policy of this state that the claim shall be denied.

[5] Without prejudice to any legal right, this act shall not apply to a corporation, partnership, limited liability company, business association, or other legal entity that contracts to subject itself to foreign law in a jurisdiction other than this state or the United States.

[6] This subsection shall not apply to a church, religious corporation, association, or society, with respect to the individuals of a particular religion regarding matters that are purely ecclesiastical, to include, but not be limited to, matters of calling a pastor, excluding members from a church, electing church officers, matters concerning church bylaws, constitution, and doctrinal regulations and the conduct of other routine church business, where 1) the jurisdiction of the church would be final; and 2) the jurisdiction of the courts of this State would be contrary to the First Amendment of the United States and the Constitution of this State. This exemption in no way grants permission for any otherwise unlawful act under the guise of First Amendment protection.

[7] This statute shall not be interpreted by any court to conflict with any federal treaty or other international agreement to which the United States is a party to the extent that such treaty or international agreement preempts or is superior to state law on the matter at issue.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 23, 2011, at the time of 6:49 PM | Comments (9)

June 6, 2011

On Beyond al-Qaeda: the Long War Ten Years After

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

After the long-overdue death of Osama bin Laden, Barack H. Obama has chosen to reduce the war against radical Islamism -- the "long war" -- to "finishing the job" in Afghanistan; it's a monstrous caricature of synecdoche that underpins every foolish program of his foreign policy.

Afghanistan has symbolic and military significance; but truly, I'm far more concerned about radical Islamists running their own countries -- with advanced technology and deadly weapons already -- in Iran, Syria, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Turkey; or living (and plotting) within high-tech, war-torn countries such as India, Russia, Bosnia, Lebanon, and Israel; or living within extremely high-tech countries as spies and sabateurs, using the cover of poorly administered "guest worker" programs and relatively unvetted legal or illegal immigration -- in countries such as France, Australia, Great Britain, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Central and South America, and the United States.

Afghanistan was only centrally important for a while because it was the current address of al-Qaeda in 2001; but as near as makes no difference, al-Qaeda no longer exists. That doesn't mean the threat is gone; in the amorphous, soupy manner of this kind of long war, the threat center has simply shifted locations.

Until and unless we change the entire wartime equation -- the one where you input the current security and ideological situations at one end, and a horrifically unacceptable level of successful terrorism pops out at the other -- we will be in as much danger and more as we were ten years ago.

The major difference is that back then, the deadly peril of terrorism was largely an unknown unknown; today it's a known unknown, which is a huge leap forward -- if we can maintain that consciousness. Alas, under the second Bush term and Obama's term, I fear it's slip-sliding away.

Still, many Americans have begun to realize that the danger will only increase until we attack it at its root. We've achieved that understanding before -- in 1776, 1787, 1860, 1941, 1981, and 2001; and what Man has done, Man can aspire to do.

We must find a way to achieve two critical goals:

  1. We absolutely must alter how post-Cold War Americans think about security issues; we must re-learn that "eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," vigilance not only against enemies without (radical Islamism and Communism) but those within (Obamunism).

As Jefferson wrote, "Against us are... all timid men who prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty... We are likely to preserve the liberty we have obtained only by unremitting labors and perils."

Americans used to understand this, and not so very long ago, within our own conscious memories. We persistently fall into the fatal fallacy that having defeated the enemy du jour -- the Nazis, the Soviets -- vigilance has become passé. We no longer need those scary men on the wall; let's make them get real jobs, like being a ward heeler or a community activist.

But vigilance alone is not enough; it's a strong defense, but we all know what is the best defense...

  1. Begin fighting just as hard to advance our ideology of liberty, free will, individualism, ethical monotheism, and Capitalism as the radical Islamists and the bloody-handed socialists fight to advance their despicable ideologies of religious and political submission and eternal servitude.

That is, as hard as Americans used to fight in decades past to advance the ideology of liberty. What Man has done... did I say that already?

Liberty always has at least some appeal in every culture; even people who like to be bossed around generally hate their own bosses. For God's sake, on today's great anniversary, let's start defending, promoting, advancing, and spreading the ideology of liberty once more.

We've done such a great job evangelizing American Borg culture and the wealth, security, and choice it provides; we must expend even more effort spreading the "good news" of that same culture's ideological foundation. That is our most urgent long-term task.

The last president who really achieved that was also the last to attempt it: Ronald Reagan -- thirty years ago. But Americans are again ripe for such a crusade; the post-Cold War moral drift is, I believe, largely driven by the lack of a higher calling. We thrive on a reach that exceeds our grasp, it is our natural state.

More than anything else, it is America's yearning for that evangelist feeling, for knowing we're not just hunkering down to preserve our own bitter-won gains but boldly advancing them across the world, that makes political superstars out of people like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the raft of small and subversive groups collectively called the tea partiers (subversive of the last three decades' political understandings). For all their flaws, they call us to a higher and distinctively American purpose in life, something beyond meaningless "hope" and "change" and "spreading the wealth around."

Vigilance and ideological evangelism: That is what will, in the end, win this particular long war. Let's hope it won't take so long to ramp up for the next grand crusade after that!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 6, 2011, at the time of 2:11 PM | Comments (0)

The Commencement of History

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd
So long mommy,
I'm off to get a commie,
So send me a salami
And try to smile somehow.
I'll look for you when the war is over,
An hour and a half from now!

In a previous post on Big Lizards, perennial commenter MikeR took issue with a central (if unstated) point. I had noted that, while Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI, 96%) was excellent on matters of budget and the economy, he didn't seem to have much of a grasp, let alone any fire in the hole, for fighting what has been dubbed the Long War, the war against radical Islamism. Therefore I concluded that he was not yet ready for promotion to President of the United States.

MikeR responded in the comments:

Dafydd, I think a lot of this hangs on whether one thinks that the Long War against Islamic Terrorism is still a critical job of the president. At some point during the Iraq War, I guess we parted ways on that....

I no longer see radical Islam as being an existential issue for the United States....

I think that most Americans are probably closer to my point of view.

I am certain MikeR is right about that last: They are closer to his point of view... as were they in 1940, 1980, and 2001. Americans have a bad tendency to mistake holding our enemies at bay with having no more enemies.

We've all seen that wonderful piece of inadvertent, pro-vigilance propaganda, the Bush-41 era movie a Few Good Men, starring Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, and some woman. Let me quote the part that was supposed to make viewers roll their eyes and smirk knowingly, winking about those insane few who actually believed the United States needed actual "defense" from our "enemies." The writers were actually true to the characters (until the very end), and the very opposite happened as they had expected: The scene instead became perhaps the best articulation in any recent movie of why complacency is prelude to national disaster.

Please bear in mind that my argument isn't directed at MikeR, but rather at those "most Americans" he called upon for authority:

Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg?

I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.

You don't want the truth, because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall; you need me on that wall.

We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to.

Again I note that I'm not saying MikeR is merely complacent; nor am I trying to explain why he personally no longer thinks radical Islamism poses an existential threat. I am certain he thought deeply about it before arriving at that conclusion. But he wrote something further; he wrote that "most Americans are probably closer to my point of view"... And it is that to which I respond here.

Yes, I agree; most Americans probably are closer to his point of view. But but I fancy they are for very different reasons than his own.

Many Americans, perhaps even most, recoil in horror or disgust from the thought that hundreds of thousands of people are actively seeking to kill as many of us as possible to overthrow liberty and individual conscience -- that millions are actively aiding and abetting them -- that hundreds of millions are in sympathy with their goal of a world caliphate run by Moslems with everyone else enslaved or discriminated against -- and that 1.5 billion at the very least acquiesce to that dream, a nightmare that is the real "long war," going all the way back to the seventh century founding of Islam.

Americans reject the very well established fact of a determined, thirteen-hundred-years war for two reasons:

  • First, because it is so existentially terrifying that mere war, normal war as in Iraq and Afghanistan, becomes a comforting mental euphemism.
  • And second, most Americans reject the existence of monsters because the men on our wall have done such a bravura job of protecting them, like Strider and his Rangers protected the hobbits in the Shire. Only a handful of monsters have breeched our wall, and the protected have concluded that no more orcs or balrogs lurk on the other side; they've all been driven away. The danger is over -- and it was blown all out of proportion in the first place!

In fact, many Americans now believe the only real danger to the protected comes from those scary protectors themselves.

MikeR is right: I part company with "most Americans" on this point. I know the orcs are still there; and even though we've killed one or two balrogs, there are still plenty left in stock. We haven't slain Sauron yet, and we never will; because Sauron (and Morgoth before him) isn't a person -- he's an ideology, a diseased mode of thought with an infinite number of faces. Sauron is, in Thomas Jefferson's words, "every form of tyranny over the mind of Man."

In the past, tyranny used the face of a bloodthirsty god, Moloch, or his divine successors, the iron gods of fire and blood and death. Then in the eighteenth through twentieth centuries, tyranny put on a new face: It tarted itself up as the vox populi (as in the French Revolution), ultimately wearing the face of "scientific" socialism, both national and international. And now, the wheel having come full circle, we're right back to a leering, false god of servitude, slavery, and submission.

But it's the same old Evil: You produce, and I consume; you labor, and I loaf; you obey, I command. That demon can be defeated in this theater or that, but never destroyed.

The storm outside our wall still gathers, and it rages stronger now, with more ghoulish gales having joined the whirlwind, than it did on September 11th, 2001. The trumpet that heralded that lightning blast wasn't the culmination; it wasn't playing Taps; it was actually blowing Charge, signaling commencement of the next phase of the longest war.

Too bad America hasn't yet even sounded Reveille.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 6, 2011, at the time of 5:25 AM | Comments (9)

May 31, 2011

Cerebrating Death

Philosophical Phatheads , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary-General of Hezbollah, famously made the following grisly remark in 2004:

The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win, because they love life and we love death.

He merely paraphrased a near contemporary of Mohammed, an unnamed seventh-century warlord who bragged about his "army of men that love death as you love life." Indeed, we tend to contrast Western liberal democracy with radical Islamism by saying we have a culture of life, while they have a culture of death. I have even characterized the latter as a culture of human sacrifice and Moloch worship.

So I understand why some naive and morally confused priests, pastors, ministers, imams, and rabbis condemn celebrating the assassination of Osama bin Laden, calling it "morally equivalent" to Palestinians celebrating the murder of thousands of people at the World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and in a field in Pennsylvania. But understanding need not yield agreement; these condemners are dead wrong; they are indeed "naive and morally confused."

Dennis Prager has a great column today in Townhall.com, and a longer version of the argument at the Jewish Journal; I will be quoting from the latter.

Here is Prager's core argument:

As a rule, little changes in basic human responses. For example, it is probably fair to say that throughout human history, just about all decent people have celebrated the death of those human beings understood to be truly evil.

It takes a lot to change such basic human reactions. But over the last generation, a major attempt to do so has been made. And it has somewhat succeeded.

Osama bin Laden, a man whose purpose in life was to inflict death and suffering on as many innocent people as possible -- the more innocent his victims, the greater his achievement -- was finally killed, and much of the Western world’s religious and secular elite has expressed moral annoyance with those who celebrated this death.

The argument is that no person’s death should be celebrated. Therefore celebrations of bin Laden’s death are morally questionable.

Prager continues, noting that this confusion results from not distinguishing between the killing of innocents and the killing of the guilty; but I believe the root grows much deeper, tapping into the polluted water-table of a general lack of discrimination and of intellectual laziness, perhaps even narcissism. If all answers are correct, then no answer is correct, and there is no need to think, judge, or conform to any particular standard; simply find the cultural standard that agrees with you and wallow in it, happy as a pig in a rug.

Worse, the "argument" appears to be just another example of leftist mysticism, the conscious rejection of logic. And as always on the left, mysticism, metaphysics, and ethics begin and end with sloganeering. (Epistemology never enters into the equation; per Thomas Sowell's the Vision of the Anointed, the Left simply receives the Vision from on high -- that is, from anybody to their left -- and parrots it uncritically.)

Examples of Progressivist reasoning:

  • All you need is love.
  • War is not the answer.
  • Hope and change.
  • Food for all.
  • Land for use.
  • You can't hug your children with nuclear arms.
  • The survivors will envy the dead.
  • From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.
  • No enemies to the left.
  • Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ. has got to go.
  • Solidarity forever.
  • One planet, one people.
  • Soak the rich.

And the slogan most relevant to this post,

  • Why do we kill people who kill people to show that killing people is wrong?

In my youth, this seemingly rhetorical question adorned literally hundreds of thousands of posters, usually printed in ink that glowed under black (UV) light. Cool, man. For impact, the fallacy relies upon a faux irony that only exists when stripped bare of all context. Restore the missing adjectives, and watch that slogan transform from rhetorical question -- how can we possibly teach the evil of killing by killing? -- to virtual tautology, and incidentally into a more succinct version of Dennis Prager's argument:

Why do we kill evil people who kill innocent people to show that killing innocent people is wrong?

The question answers itself.

Prager tries to find a logical calculus of morality:

It seems to me that if one does not celebrate the death of a truly evil person, one is not celebrating the triumph of good over evil. I do not see how one can honestly say, “I am thrilled that bin Laden can no longer murder men, women and children, but I do not celebrate his death.”

Yes, I know one can argue that bin Laden’s arrest and life imprisonment would have also prevented his murdering anyone else. Indeed, anyone opposed to capital punishment would have to prefer that bin Laden had been captured and tried. But no one could argue that a dead bin Laden is less likely to provoke further terror than a living bin Laden.

Celebrating the death of bin Laden is a moral imperative.

But it goes nowhere, just as Ayn Rand's attempt to deduce all ethics from "A is A" is mathematically doomed to failure: You can't make the jump from verbs of identity to imperatives without further grammatical input. (It's no coincidence that Prager and Rand, along with Michael Medved and many other representatives of the punditocracy, are basically innumerate: Innumeracy is one of many symptoms of paralogia.)

The problem with leftism is not strictly with the rules of inference -- though that is often one of the root problems with Progressivists; it equally arises from faulty premises and subversive goals. Those who say ordering the death of bin Laden is "morally equivalent" to bin Laden ordering the deaths of (relative) innocents on September 11th, 2001 are not simply confused whether bin Laden is a good person or a bad person; they passionately believe there is no real distinction between the concepts of good and evil, that we should strive to be, as proclaims the title of one of Friedrich Nietzsche's books, "beyond good and evil".

The Left sees those two terms, good and evil, laden with the plunder of social propaganda... hence their fascination with cultural relativism, the idea that you're only allowed to judge a culture based upon its own standards. (Under this deranged philosophy, Hitler's only crime was that he didn't kill enough Jews; he was supposed to get them all!)

In other words, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, you can't argue a man out of something he wasn't argued into in the first place. This is higher-wisdom stuff, the "Vision," whose beholders thereby become the "anointed" and are granted absolute moral dispensation: E.g., Roman Polanski isn't a rapist; he's an artist. Barack Obama isn't a serial liar running a gangster government; he's off to save the world.

And in the minds of Western, liberal, non-Moslems who nevertheless protested against the assassination of bin Laden, the target wasn't a terrorist, a homophobe, a violent misogynist, or a mass murderer; he was a "warrior against imperialism" and American hubris! Like Che Guevara, bin Laden lasted long enough to metamorphose, not into a Kafka-esque cockroach, but into a charismatic but remote revolutionary figure, just the type to tickle the Left's fancy.

And just the type for them to martyrize, all in the name of moral preening and militant, censorious post-judgmentalism.

Me, I celebrated; Sachi and I drank a toast. And if anybody had tried to shame me for it, I would have hurled the booze in his face, glass and all. To commit yet another paraphrase, this time of S.I. Hayakawa, I have a very low threshold of idiocy.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 31, 2011, at the time of 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 2, 2011

What It Doesn't Mean

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

As we all raise our glasses and toast the toasty hellish roast in which Osama bin Laden is just now finding himself -- is he disappointed that he won't be getting those seventy-two raisins? -- let's spare a few thoughts about what the long-overdue assassination doesn't mean:

  • It doesn't mean the end of the War Against Radical Islamism or Islamist adventurism and attempted conquest, more's the pity.

Ever since at least Tora Bora (possibly before), Ayman Zawahiri has been the real operational boss of al-Qaeda -- what's left of it, after the kills and captures we've carried out in the intervening decade; we've mowed them down like scything wheat.

Remember Musab Zarqawi, the head of "al-Qaeda in Iraq," desperately begging bin Laden to send reinforcements? The U.S. Army and Marines not only didn't leave, as bin Laden had promised, they poured into Iraq like a tsunami overtopping a levee. A year after Zarqawi sent that letter, we killed him too. There's very little left in the al-Qaeda organization these days; and bin Laden's role has long been confined to being the "spiritual leader."

In any event, Hezbollah, Hamas, and even the Taliban have long since overtaken aQ as our core enemies in the War Against Radical Islamism.

  • It doesn't mean that Barack H. Obama is now guaranteed a second term, as a friend of mine worries.

See everybody and his unkie's monkle knows that we've had death squads out trying to kill not only bin Laden but Zawahiri and many other top al-Qaeda leaders ever since 2001; in fact, we've been extraordinarily successful -- which is why nobody has heard a peep from al-Qaeda for many years, ever since the Anbar "awakening," other than the occasional video or audio tape.

So nobody's going to buy the idea that the successful hit was due to B.O.'s brilliant Special-Forces leadership, though some might pretend to believe it for political impact. By contrast, a huge percentage of Americans might well be offended that Obama is trying to grab credit away from the CIA snipers! The preposterous and insulting claim will just make Obama seem even more smuggish, conceited, and self-absorbed than voters already think him.

He will get a short-term bump in the polls, but that's just euphoria at bin Laden's death. After a few weeks, it will drift right back down to where it is now... particularly as reality sinks in that bin Laden himself has been a dead letter for years.

But there's an even more embarassing possibilty here. We know that Saddam Hussein used a lot of look-alikes, precisely to confuse the myriad of people who wanted to see him attain room temperature. Is it completely impossible that Osama bin Laden might do the same? There must be other extremely tall Arabs who are cadaverously thin and can grow a beard.

Imagine, just suppose, that when the CIA returns the body to Langley, or wherever our main CIA medical facilities are found, and they compare the DNA of the corpse to samples taken from bin Laden's relatives... imagine that the analysis proves that the deceased is not, in fact, OBL. After Obama has made his triumphal credit grab, to find out that it wasn't even the tall man himself would be so humiliating, so perfect an example of "pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall," that Barack Obama would become the world's laughingstock.

What would that do for his reelection chances?

It will probably turn out to be bin Laden; but we're never sure until we're sure, eh?

  • Finally, it doesn't mean that bin Laden now becomes a world martyr, radicalizing millions upon millions of ordinary Moslems and rallying hundreds of thousands to the cause. That train has long since sailed.

I cannot but believe that the vast majority of Islamdom has grown weary of constant combat. (I exclude the Palestinians from this war-weary cohort; but the rest of the ummah thinks they're totally insane anyway.) Besides, those radicals who are desperate to fight for their brother Moslems have their own causes to occupy their energies -- mostly in trying to overthrow the dictatorial, national-socialist governments that litter the Middle East like broken promises on the marble floors of Congress.

I doubt that bin Laden's call for a world-wide caliphate (with himself the Caliph) ever held much appeal to Moslem Arabs in Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, let alone to Persian Moslems, Indonesian Moslems, or Chechen, Bosnian, Indian, or Chinese Moslems. Even if they cheered his attack on the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon, it wasn't a pledge of loyalty to al-Qaeda so much as Schadenfreude against America and Israel, for those radical Islamists who see us as the Great and Little Satans, respectively.

If his life did not inspire, his death will likely not radicalize. We may see some riots, but that's due to the very fact that (presumed) non-Moslem CIA snipers done in the old man of the mountains. When some new outrage displaces the current one, bin Laden will be forgotten like yesterday's cud.

But still, there is an excellent chance that Osama bin Laden, who "needed killin'" more than almost anybody in the current era, has gone to meet his judgment and his doom. So let's celebrate what the assassination was -- the ignoble, ignominious end of one of the world's most evil men -- but without falling into the error of making more of it, for better or worse, than it truly signifies.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 2, 2011, at the time of 1:35 AM | Comments (6)

April 28, 2011

Will "Director" Petraeus Betray Us, or Hooray Us?

Afghan Astonishments , CIA CYA , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

With the news that President Barack H. Obama intends to name Gen. David Petraeus Director of the Central Intelligence Agency -- after current top spook Leon Panetta, who spent a couple of years in the Army, shifts to being Secretary of Defense -- we are left with a series of known (and unknown) unknowns. After all, Petraeus has been in the Army for decades and could not thus enunciate his own political positions and opinions; he could only support the policy of the Commander in Chief under whom he served, whether that was Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, or Obama.

Given that tabula rasa, we must identify at least a few of the conundrums:

  • Most urgently, can Petraeus actually master an out-of-control, leak-crazy, internationalist progressivist CIA... or at least render it somewhat less anti-American?
  • Does the appointment mean that the CIA will actually become more like it's "predecessor," the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in World War II? That is, will the CIA show more interest in furthering America's military aims and less in trying to pick the next president?
  • Does the appointment mean that David Petraeus is interested in heading into electoral politics next?
  • Does it show Petraeus is going to "come out" as a Democrat to run against the Republican incumbent in 2016?
  • Does it mean Obama has changed his mind about the need for the United States to have a strong and vigorous intelligence community to further American goals... or does it mean Petraeus has grown in office and now supports Obamunism, full and stark?
  • What will happen to the Afghanistan war effort as Petraeus withdraws, ushering in Marine Lt.Gen. John R. Allen as Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) -- a man who has no Afghanistan experience whatsoever? Though Gen. Allen certainly does have battlefield experience in the War Against Radical Islamism: He was Deputy Commanding General in al-Anbar province, Iraq, during the Iraq war.

    But what type of commander is he? Is he like Petraeus, with a deep understanding of contemporary counterinsurgency strategy? Or is he more akin to the Shinseki-ites devoted to the Powell Doctrine of endlessly refighting WWII in all the dorky, little countries found in what Thomas P.M. Barnett, author of the Pentagon's New Map, aptly calls the "Non-Integrating Gap?"

I doubt anyone can answer these questions authoritatively at this juncture in time, as Nixon was wont to say; but they are indeed critical queries.

And here is the last and most pregnant:

  • Will the appointment receive vigorous examination during Senate confirmation hearings, in order to answer some of these unknowns, among others? Or will Republicans and Democrats alike give the war hero a pass -- the former because he is a war hero; the latter because he will have been appointed by the Obamacle, whom all Democrats must prop up and buttress in every imaginable way for the 2012 election?

At the moment, President B.O.'s deft and crafty move has handed us a Petraeus in a poke.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 28, 2011, at the time of 5:01 PM | Comments (2)

March 30, 2011

A Question That Deserves an Answer

Obamic Options , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Today's Libya news is not good:

Moammar Gadhafi's ground forces recaptured a strategic oil town Wednesday and moved within striking distance of another major eastern city, nearly reversing the gains rebels made since international airstrikes began. Rebels pleaded for more help, while a U.S. official said government forces are making themselves harder to target by using civilian "battle wagons" with makeshift armaments instead of tanks....

Airstrikes have neutralized Gadhafi's air force and pounded his army, but his ground forces remain far better armed, trained and organized than the opposition....

Gadhafi's forces also have adopted a new tactic in light of the pounding airstrikes have given their tanks and armored vehicles, a senior U.S. intelligence official said. They've left those weapons behind in favor of a "gaggle" of "battle wagons": minivans, sedans and SUVs fitted with weapons, said the official, who spoke anonymously in order to discuss sensitive U.S. intelligence on the condition and capabilities of rebel and regime forces.

Winning!

Obviously, it's still a volatile situation, and the rebels might yet rally and regain the upper hand. But we must grab the bull by the tail and look the facts in the face: There is a very real possibility that Gaddafi's forces will finally crush the untrained, unled, poorly armed uprising.

Whither then? Commander in Chief Barack H. Obama has very few options, given his prior performance (or nonfeasance) and emphatic pronouncements, including his speech a scant two days ago:

  1. He could intensify the bombardment and target military facilities across Libya. (Which I say he should have done from the git-go -- strike not just tanks but bases, government buildings, gasoline refineries, and the homes of top members of the government, including You-Know-Who.)
  2. He could arm the rebels; but given that many of the rebels are radical Islamists who hate America -- and evidently some are even full-blown members of al-Qaeda -- that might raise opposition to the Libyan adventure to a fever pitch, and it could create huge problems over the next two years.
  3. He could rescind his heartfelt pledge to protect and preserve Muammar Gaddafi's life at all costs; but then he would have to spin like a whirling Dervish to explain why yesterday's war crime is today's U.N.-authorized, kinetic military action.
  4. He could change his mind even more profoundly and order American boots and rifles on the ground. But a full ground invasion would require weeks to prepare, and Qaddafi would almost certainly have won by then.

    We could instead use small groups of special forces to get an attack rolling more quickly; but strike where? Raid what? Capture who? Unless we seized or killed Col. Q. almost immediately, our Arab "allies" would likely flip on a dime and condemn the entire operation, pull out their own forces, and of course leave us vulnerable to IED and terrorist attacks. Plus, our Western allies would probably get cold feet as well.

    And how could Obama possibly avoid the obvious and odious comparison to George W. Bush, and the highly successful operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, with the dog's breakfast of a collapse in Libya?

  5. Or the final Obamic option: After the president dithered for weeks before deciding to do anything; after he waited to get approval from the U.N., but then completely bypassed our own Congress; after he flung our forces into aerial attacks and killed many civilians along with the bad guys; after he made a huge point of renouncing American leadership and handing the operation over to NATO; after he went on television and unconvincingly explained why he thought this war kinetic military action was so vital to America (if not us, who? if not now, when? if not about me, then why bother?) -- Barack Obama could simply declare defeat and go home.

    That is, he could start a war few seemed to want, prosecuted it in a pathetic, faint-hearted, and fumbling way, and then run away, leaving Muammar Gaddafi even stronger and more despotic than ever. Heck of a job, Barack! I'm sure that will do wonders for his plummeting poll numbers.

    Other dictators (e.g., Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Bashar Assad) would be emboldened and would regain their vicious and bloodthirsty Libyan ally; the entire situation in the Middle East would become decidedly worse and more deadly for the West, and for America in particular.

See, this is the sort of Hobson's-choice we get (and deserve!) for electing the unexamined presidency in 2008; for allowing jingoisms like "Hope" and "Change," which sound vague but are in fact meaningless, to displace experience, gravity, competence, and coherence; for opting to roll the dice on a complete unknown, an unseasoned "playground president," rather than demand the same standard of disclosure, openness, access, and investigation that we have always insisted upon in previous Presidents of the United States: We got us an incurious, incompetent craven in the White House at a time of grave national peril. (Of course such a president creates his own tsunami of grave national peril.)

I mentioned the contrast with the two wars of the preceding administration; let's make that comparison.

George W. Bush took both major wars seriously: He consulted extensively with Congress, including the minority Democrats. He sought and received authorizations for the use of force from Congress on both occasions. He went to the U.N. and, as Obama did, obtained a UN Security Council resolution that could be read as authorizing both wars; but he had an actual strategy for both the initial invasions and the occupations of both countries -- the first worked brilliantly, the second not so well. He knew how many troops he would have to commit and had at least somewhat of an idea how long it would take. He certainly had a firm set of victory conditions in mind, and thus we always knew whether we were winning or losing at any given moment.

Finally, Bush leveled with the American people, persuasively explaining the rationale for the wars and what we the people could expect.

Obama has done none of that. He more or less stumbled into the war like tripping over a drunk, finding himself thoroughly entangled with incoherence and befuddlement before even realizing it. He has no plan, just a series of negatives which boil down to a steadfast refusal to do anything that might actually win the war. And he's doing everything imaginable to convince us that he is no leader and doesn't even want to be one; he prefers that NATO -- meaning France's Nicolas Sarkozy, Germany's Angela Merkel, and Canadian Gen. Charles Bouchard -- take command, with American forces just following their orders. Thus Obama hopes to avoid at least some of the blame if things go dreadfully wrong... which his own fecklessness makes much more probable.

And suppose they do go dreadfully wrong: Losing a war in such an embarassing manner would not only flip the 2012 election once again, making it likely that any vaguely competent-sounding Republican would beat the Obamunist at the polls, it would damage American national security for years to come.

For that reason, even if victory would slightly help the Obama administration, we should still fervently hope that some miracle occurs to transform our president from a mere community organizer sinking in the deep end (or more recently, "an errand boy for grocery clerks") into a reasonably competent warrior.

Either that, or we must hope that one of our allies, who stands to lose as much as we if Qaddafi wins this war, steps up and grabs the reins. But my God, what a position to find ourselves in: Praying that the flibbertigibbet French swoop down and save our bacon!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 30, 2011, at the time of 6:16 PM | Comments (2)

March 23, 2011

How to Blight a War

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

First off, I must point out that I am not a military expert; this isn't a MilBlog; I don't have any experience commanding troops in battle; I was never Secretary of the Navy; I never taught at Annapolis, VMI, or even Wellesley.

Still, I think I'm on pretty safe ground in saying that an American military establishment that allows itself to be dragged willy-nilly into a war in North Africa; rushes to obtain United Nations support but pointedly refuses to ask Congress for authorization; loudly announces it won't use ground forces under any circumstances; makes conflicting and incomprehensible pronouncements of victory conditions; admits it has no idea how long it will take to win -- or even what "winning" means; pushes itself into control of the air strikes, drops a bunch of bombs in seemingly random locations, and then announces after a few scant days that it has become bored and restless and wants to cede control of the entire operation to some other country and just MoveOn... I think it safe to conclude that said military establishment is in total collapse.

Have I exaggerated Barack and Billery's Wacky Adventure? Have I misstated the sequence of events? I stand willing to be instructed in what really happened -- which must surely be less insane than it looks to us, the observing, here in Sector 001.

Here is the always reassuring Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense to presidents, prime ministers, and the crowned heads of Europe:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged Wednesday that there is no clear end to the international military enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya, and says no one was ever under any illusion that the assault would last just two or three weeks.

He added that the U.S. could turn over control of the operation as soon as Saturday, but could not say how the coalition operation might be resolved.

I feel better already. I'll have that drink now, if you please.

I have read that it's the soaring gasoline prices that may well drag Barack H. Obama to defeat in 2012; yet I cannot help but suspect that this Libyan lunacy, as it shreds whatever credibility remains of the President's national-security strategy after two long years of imperialist Obamunism (seems like twenty), will be even more devastating to his diminishing reelectoral chances. Is there anybody left in the country (besides Garth Brooks) who doesn't look upon our Island King of the Peacock Throne, and laugh, laugh -- until he cries, cries?

America is going to be a long time living down the national, self-inflicted humiliation of November 4th, 2008.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 23, 2011, at the time of 3:19 PM | Comments (8)

March 9, 2011

The Pulse of the Axis of Evil

Future of Warfare , North Korea Nastiness , War Against Radical Islamism , ¡ Rabanos Radiactivos!
Hatched by Dafydd

Nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons (NEMPs): In a single explosive EMP flash, detonated 400-500 km above the surface and thus impervious to most of our ballistic missile defenses (BMDs), we could lose nearly the entire communications network -- including broadcast television and radio, cable and satellite channels, shortwave and microwave broadcast, and cell phones (which are simply UHF radio phones); all modern unshielded electronic devices -- including computer microprocessors, the internet, hard drives, video- and audiotape, televisions, radio receivers, radar installations, missiles that use sophisticated guidance systems, and microprocessor implants in cars, microwave ovens, thermostats, and the like (some vacuum-tube technology would be spared); and even the nationwide power grid.

All it takes is an enemy ruthless enough, and little-enough concerned about retaliation, to get his hands on such a device, mount it on a missile, and "pull the trigger."

And according to ABC News, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is just this close to developing an NEMP; and North Korea has already used non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons (NNEMPs) against American and South Korean forces in the Korean peninsula... and shows interest in exporting such weapons to radical Islamist countries and organizations:

The North is believed to be nearing completion of an electromagnetic pulse bomb that, if exploded 25 miles above ground would cause irreversible damage to electrical and electronic devices such as mobile phones, computers, radio and radar, experts say.

"We assume they are at a considerably substantial level of development," Park Chang-kyu of the Agency for Defense Development said at a briefing to the parliament Monday.

Park confirmed that South Korea has also developed an advanced electronic device that can be deployed in times of war.

The current attempts to interfere with GPS transmissions are coming from atop a modified truck-mounted Russian device. Pyongyang reportedly imported the GPS jamming system from Russia in early 2000 and has since developed two kinds of a modified version. It has also in recent years handed out sales catalogs of them to nations in the Middle East, according to South Korea's Chosun Ilbo.

(This post is dedicated to all those on the Left -- and the "Realists" on the Right -- who mocked George W. Bush for including North Korea with Iran and Iraq in his original "Axis of Evil" speech.)

Detonating an NEMP high above North America would devastate not only power and communications but the economy (obliterating internet-based financial transactions and electronically stored financial data), transportation (disrupting electronic monitoring and control of everything from traffic signals to freight-train switching to commercial air traffic control), and even our military, much of which relies heavily on GPS navigation and site determination -- though United States forces do still train extensively in low-tech navitation and warfare. The electromagnetic pulse would wash across the entire continental United States, plus the southern part of Canada and northern Mexico, like a tidal wave of voltage-lava, melting all the circuits in its path unless specially shielded.

Such a strike would be utterly devastating, resulting in trillions of dollars in damages... and tens or hundreds of thousands of deaths, both direct (from crashes) and indirect, from loss of medical records, the inability of emergency services to respond to life-or-death situations, utility and power shutdowns, and economic dislocation. Recovery would likely take decades. And there is absolutely nothing we can do at this time to prevent or even mitigate it; shielding every electrical circuit in the U.S. heavily enough to resist an NEMP would dwarf the cost of all natural disasters and terrorist attacks of the last century combined.

A nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack starts by detonating a nuclear warhead in the high atmosphere; this produces a burst of gamma radiation, which triggers beta rays -- that is, high-energy electrons moving at more than 90% the speed of light -- between 20 and 40 km altitude. The gamma radiation is deflected at right angles by the Earth's magnetic field to create an oscillating electric current in the atmosphere. And this oscillation in turn generates a pulse or burst of electromagnetic energy. [Beta-ray correction per commenter Count to 10 on the Hot Air rogues' gallery cross-post. Thanks!]

When this EM firestorm strikes the surface, it will have a peak power density of 50,000 volts and millions of megawatts, easily enough to fry most modern transistors and microcircuits. Since the pulse from detonation to peak value takes only 5 nanoseconds (five billionths of a second), and the entire first component (E1) of the EMP effect is over at about 1 microsecond (one millionth of a second), protection technology -- designed for much slower lightning strikes -- generally cannot react quickly enough to save the delicate printed circuitry that run our electronic devices these days. Any modern device without thick passive shielding will likely be destroyed or severely damaged.

There are additional secondary effects of an NEMP, dubbed E2 and E3, that are respectively similar to lightning strikes (E2) and electromagnetic storms caused by very severe solar flares (E3); surge-protectors can ordinarily handle those -- unless they are compromised, damaged, or destroyed first... which is exactly what phase E1 of a Nuclear Electromagnetic Pulse attack accomplishes. Thus the E2 and E3 phases are often much more devastating than are natural lightning strikes and EM storms.

So far, the North Koreans have not detonated any NEMP device; the EM pulses they have used to jam or damage our GPS and other electronic devices are non-nuclear, and their range is much more limited; but the principle is the same. NNEMP weapons (non-nuclear) use a non-nuclear method to generate the initial burst of energy, generally chemical explosives; the energy front is sent through wave-shaping circuits or microwave generators, thence through an antenna:

This is the second time North Korea has sought to interfere with military communications. Pyongyang is thought to have been behind a failure of GPS receivers on some naval and civilian aircraft during another joint military exercise in August.

South Korea's minister of defense at that time had reported to the Congress, warning that the North poses "a fresh security threat" capable of disrupting guided bombs and missiles by sending signals over a distance of up to 60 miles.

However Russia, which sold North Korea the non-nuclear devices that it has used against South Korea and its allies (including the United States), also has an arsenal of the nuclear version; the only force we have to rely on to safeguard against North Korea getting its hands on an NEMP is the basic "decency" and "good sense" of Putin's post-Soviet paradise. Color me unreassured.

The effect of an NEMP detonated over the United States would be catastrophic; but what would be our response? More appropriately, what are we doing to prevent it from happening in the first place?

I'm sure nuclear scientists have tackled the technological aspect of the threat; but we could also begin shielding vital systems, switches, and lines; infiltrating our own Korean-speaking and -looking agents into the DPRK to find out how far they've gotten, rather than overrelying upon intelligence-sharing from the Republic of Korea (South Korea); and even using backchannel communications to warn North Korea's sponsors (mainly Russia and China) that if Kim Jong-il actually utilizes one, we will consider it to be a nuclear attack on the United States -- and we will respond appropriately, both against North Korea and anyone we believe helped them. Or might have helped them.

Obviously, much of the anti-EMP research is heavily classified, and I have no idea how far we've gotten. Is there a wide-area techie defense against an electromagnetic pulse? But I'm far more worried about the political aspect: Simply put, I do not trust the Obama administration to do anything effective on either front. I don't believe they are taking the threat seriously; President Barack H. Obama surely believes that his peerless "smart diplomacy" with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, coupled with his slavish kow-towing to Red China and Russia, will induce the DPRK dictator to back away from his threats to wipe America out via a nuclear EMP.

And even if Kim -- or his looming successor, Kim Jong-un, a.k.a. "Lil' Kim" -- committed the unthinkable against us, what would the Obamunist do about it? He has shown himself incapable of responding to a military threat, incompetent at running a war, and averse to the point of revulsion to defending the United States or retaliating upon our attackers. More than likely the president would issue a very stern diplomatic communique through the proper channels (once radio communications, television broadcasts, word processors, and teleprompters were brought back online); file a criminal and civil complaint in the International Court of Justice at the Hague; and furiously tingle his bell.

And even more likely, that is what Kim believes Obama would do (and not do); which makes it ever so much more probable that North Korea will go right ahead and use the first NEMP they acquire against us... or at least threaten to use it unless Obama capitulates and gives Kim -- well, whatever he demands, again and again. Nothing works better than nuclear blackmail, when you have an anti-American coward and weakling in the White House.

If there is a God, and if He believes we're on His side, then let's hope He ensures that the DPRK does not get a nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapon; at least not until we have a president who takes seriously the primary duty of the office: to protect American territory, the American people, and America itself from violent attack by foreign princes and terrorists.

Otherwise, "American exceptionalism" will take on a new and very tragic meaning.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 9, 2011, at the time of 7:58 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 19, 2011

Obamacle Tries to Make Lemonade Out of a Sow's Ear

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

For years during both the George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama presidencies, American military commanders have complained that Pakistan is not fighting hard enough against Taliban and al-Qaeda forces along the Pakistan/Afghanistan "border" -- which is entirely artificial, as the Pashtun and other tribes move back and forth across the menagerie lion with impunity, indeed without even being aware (I suspect) that they have crossed from one country to the other.

Though every region in Pakistan is dangerous, the most deadly is likely the seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATAs), called Agencies:

  • Bajaur
  • Mohmand
  • Khyber
  • Orakzai
  • Kurram
  • North Waziristan
  • South Waziristan

(The FATAs also include six Frontier Regions: Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan [Darazinda], Kohat [Darra Adam Khel], Lakki Marwat, Peshawar, and Tank [Jandola].)



Pakistan Pakistan FATAs

Pakistan (L) and FATAs pullout (R)

Because the FATAs abut Afghanistan, terrorists and insurgents attack Afghans, Americans, or our Coalition partners, then flee back across the "border" and moon American troops, which must perforce come to screeching halt at that crayon mark. Once in Pakistan, the most we can do is lob Hellfire missiles from drone aircraft.

The situation in the FATAs got significantly worse when Pakistan strongman Gen. Pervez Musharraf was ousted from power in August, 2008, after seven years of iron-fisted rule. Musharraf had "aligned" Pakistan with the international coalition that fought the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, but he was eventually forced to resign after being threatened with impeachment.

He was succeeded by the head of the Pakistan People's Party, President Asif Ali Zardari -- widower of Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007, likely by al-Qaeda and possibly on orders of Ayman Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's left-hand man. Since assuming the Barnacle Throne, or whatever they call it, Zardari has prosecuted the war against the terrorists with a notable lack of zeal.

And even more recently, Nawaz Sharif, head of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (N for Nawaz faction) -- long suspected of having cozy ties with terrorists -- has yet again become a rising star in Pakistan. Correspondingly, the prospects of that country fighting a full-on war to expunge the Taliban, the ocean in which the fish of al-Qaeda swim, has sunk even lower.

The current strategy appears bizarre: The Pakistan army has fought against the Taliban in six of the FATAs; but they have by and large ignored North Waziristan. Not surprisingly, a motley crew of Taliban, al-Qaeda, and assorted other nuts, fruits, and flakes has collected there, sludge always finding the lowest level:

Pakistani Army operations in the other six of seven tribal areas near the border with Afghanistan have helped drive fighters from Al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani network and other militant groups into North Waziristan, the one tribal area that Pakistan has not yet assaulted.

And now, in an almost freakish claim, "senior United States intelligence and counterinsurgency officials" are saying that the existence of a safe haven along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border is a good thing:

A growing number of senior United States intelligence and counterinsurgency officials say that by bunching up there, insurgents are ultimately making it easier for American drone strikes to hit them from afar.

American officials are loath to talk about this silver lining to the storm cloud that they have long described building up in the tribal area of North Waziristan, where the insurgents run a virtual mini-state the size of Rhode Island. This is because they do not want to undermine the Obama administration’s urgent public pleas for Pakistan to order troops into the area, or to give Pakistan an excuse for inaction.

“We cannot succeed in Afghanistan without shutting down those safe havens,” Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week, underscoring a major conclusion of the White House’s strategic review of Afghanistan policy last month.

But as long as the safe havens exist, they provide a rich hunting ground, however inadvertent it may be.

It's an amazing bit of rhetorical gymnastics. While these anonymous intelligence and counterinsurgency stratgists admit it would be better if Pakistan actually stepped up and destroyed the terrorists -- you think? -- they nevertheless continue making excuses and trying to minimize the embarassment of a presidential administration that has fecklessly and only half-heartedly fought against those who struck the United States ten years ago. (And the embarassment of the Zardari administration, as well.)

How's this for rationalization:

A senior counterterrorism official concurred, saying: “We’ve seen in the past what happens when terrorists are given a de facto safe haven. It tends to turn out ugly for both Pakistan and the United States. It’s absolutely critical that Pakistan stay focused on rooting out militants in North Waziristan....”

But half a dozen senior intelligence, counterterrorism and military officials interviewed in the past several days said a bright side had unexpectedly emerged from Pakistan’s delay. Pounding the militants consolidated in the North Waziristan enclave with airstrikes will leave the insurgents in a weakened state if the Pakistani offensive comes later this year, the officials said.

“In some ways, it’s to our benefit to keep them bottled up, mostly in North Waziristan,” said a senior intelligence official, who like others interviewed agreed to speak candidly about the Pakistan strategy if he was not identified. “This is not intentional. That wasn’t the design to bottle them up. That’s just where they are, and they’re there for a reason. They don’t have a lot of options.”

The claim might have some merit under two conditions:

  • First, if we had a real plan for taking advantage of this "bunching up" of terrorists, something a bit more robust and lethal than Predator drone attacks that kill three or four of them at a time and often miss the actual commanders. Alas, President B.O. has no stomach for the fight, and indeed is sticking to his timetable for pulling all our troops out of Afghanistan starting in June 2011. The odds that he would send American troops directly into Pakistan (as he suggested during his presidential campaign) is nil.
  • Second, if those advancing the claim were confident enough about it that they were willing to use their names. Alas, nobody is willing to go on record saying it's a good thing that Pakistan is leaving the terrorist haven of North Waziristan unmolested... and I suspect we all know the reason why they won't.

By contrast, those who say it's a rotten thing that Pakistan is shying away from North Waziristan are willing to show their faces, are much more highly placed, and are legion. For example:

All the more reason proponents of Pakistani action say time is of the essence. “I’ve been very clear in my conversations with General Kayani over the last year or so that there needs to be a focus, from my perspective, on North Waziristan,” [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] Admiral [Michael] Mullen told reporters in Islamabad last month. “That’s where Al Qaeda leadership resides, that’s where the Haqqani network, in particular, is headquartered, and the Haqqanis are leading the way and coming across the border and killing American and allied forces. And that has got to cease.”

Admittedly, North Waziristan is the hardest Taliban/al-Qaeda nut to swallow. But as noted above, that's all the more reason to swallow hard and crack it.

And wouldn't it be nice if we had a president with enough leadership that he could not only persuade our supposed allies to step up, but also step up himself and cancel the troop withdrawal. We could certainly use the extra forces to move into North Waziristan and deny the terrorists their safe haven.

Then we might obliterate the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and we might even break the back of the terrorist Haqqani network, which enjoys widespread support within Pakistani security and intelligence forces themselves, since Haqqani often launches terrorist attacks against Afghans perceived as supporting the United States. In June of last year, the Pakistani Army and Intelligence heads, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, held power-sharing talks with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, offering to incorporate Haqqani into the Afghanistan government after the U.S. leaves:

Washington has watched with some nervousness as General Kayani and Pakistan’s spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, shuttle between Islamabad and Kabul, telling Mr. Karzai that they agree with his assessment that the United States cannot win in Afghanistan, and that a postwar Afghanistan should incorporate the Haqqani network, a longtime Pakistani asset. In a sign of the shift in momentum, the two Pakistani officials were next scheduled to visit Kabul on Monday, according to Afghan TV.

The Haqqani network has its base in North Waziristan, another reason Pakistan has avoided attacking that Tribal Area:

But there have long been suspicions among Afghan, American and other Western officials that the Pakistanis were holding the Haqqanis in reserve for just such a moment, as a lever to shape the outcome of the war in its favor.

On repeated occasions, Pakistan has used the Haqqani fighters to hit Indian targets inside Afghanistan, according to American intelligence officials. The Haqqanis have also hit American ones, a possible signal from the Pakistanis to the Americans that it is in their interest, too, to embrace a deal.

Evidently, Pakistan considers the eventual behind-the-scenes control of Afghanistan after we withdraw a much more important war -- of conquest -- than the minor war of mere national defense in their own tribal areas. Sadly but not shockingly, even some members of the Obama administration seem willing to allow Pakistan and the Haqqani terrorist network to carve up Afghanistan:

Some officials in the Obama administration have not ruled out incorporating the Haqqani network in an Afghan settlement, though they stress that President Obama’s policy calls for Al Qaeda to be separated from the network. American officials are skeptical that that can be accomplished.

Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said on a visit to Islamabad last weekend that it was “hard to imagine” the Haqqani network in an Afghan arrangement, but added, “Who knows?”

"Realists" like the late Richard Holbrooke may go and come, but the urge to appease abides.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 19, 2011, at the time of 1:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 12, 2011

The Lizardian/WARI Doctrine (for Winning the War Against Radical Islamism)

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The war against radical Islamism (WARI) is completely winnable; but we have not, to date, taken the necessary steps to win it. George W. Bush made a good-faith beginning, but we need to build on what he started, expand where necessary and harden what we already have, in order to have a chance for ultimate victory.

I'm not a military or foreign-policy expert, nor a historian, nor a philosopher; my formal training is all in math. I am a clear thinker, however -- which is worth more than the yammering of most "pundants," as Bush would call them (total value: a bucket of warm spit).

So what, from the perspective of this "subject-matter generalist," do we need to do? I reduce it to "the Four Dees": Defund, defend, debate, and defeat.

Defund the terrorists

Defund the human-sacrificing Moloch-worshippers. We must remove all prohibitions against drilling for our own oil and natural gas. It's all right to retain restrictions to ensure we drill in the most environmentally sound way that is economically feasible; but there is no excuse for banning oil and natural-gas production anywhere in American territory -- thus forcing us to rely upon our mortal enemies for the lifeblood of the United States.

In addition, we must charge full steam to the metal to develop, bring online, and improve the performance of non-petroleum energy sources, especially those that can produce energy in large quantities, such as nuclear power plants and solar-power satellites; but spot-sources, such as rooftop solar cells and windmill farms, are useful as well.

And there is nothing wrong with conservation, so long as we don't fantasize that it can take the place of energy production; it makes good business sense... for example, pushing (via an "X Prize," say) high-temperature ceramic engines for cars, so they can more thoroughly burn gasoline or other inflammables -- and flywheel technology to capture the energy from braking and use it for acceleration -- all in order to obtain dramatically better mileage, perhaps as much as 80 to 100 miles per gallon.

The overall goal is to scale back, by orders of magnitude, the moolah we in the West fork over to the Arabs, the Russians, and our pal, President for Life (and Beyond), Oogo Chavez of Venezuela.

Defend the homeland

To quote Patrick Henry, "The great object is, that every man be armed."

Outside the United States, the first line of defense is the American military. But inside the country, where the military services cannot normally operate (under the Posse Comitatus law), the first line of defense is the armed American citizen.

The problem of course is the patchwork of anti-gun and anti-concealed-carry laws that liberals have erected, with the sole purpose being to nullify the very sentiment propounded directly above; since the late 1960s, the New Left has vigorously, at times viciously, opposed the very idea of individual self defense and defense of family, the neighborhood, and society in general. They insist that all social defense must come from the police.

And then they demand that the police likewise be disarmed, as in Great Britain.

Thirty-seven of the fifty (or is that fifty-seven?) states have shall-issue Carry Concealed Weapon (CCW) permit laws, where the state authorities are required to grant a CCW to any adult who passes a background check and a firearms safety class; and Vermont does not require a permit to carry concealed in the first place. But in the twelve remaining states that do not have such laws, CCW permits are granted capriciously, by cronyism, or not at all under any circumstance; these twelve states comprise about a third of the population of the United States (32.3%)... and of course no state CCW permit is valid in all other states.

Considering the war we find ourselves engulfed by -- and the inability of police or even the Army, should it come to that, to be everywhere at once -- the only solution is to rearm the citizenry. I would suggest that Congress (when we again have a responsible, adult Congress) should rely upon its Article I, Section 8 authority "to provide for the common defense," to "make rules concerning captures on land and water," "to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions," and most particularly "to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia" to make the appropriate laws to allow every law-abiding, qualified citizen to carry a concealed weapon legally in every state and the District of Columbia, including on commercial airplanes, trains, and buses.

I am not a lawyer; but I believe it would be absolutely constitutional, under the enumerated powers of Congress listed above, to enact legislation that would (a) redeclare that all able-bodied men, and women this time, between certain ages, comprise the "unorganized militia;" and (b) enact a Federal CCW (FCCW) permit that supercedes all state, local, and federal gun-control laws.

The FCCW would require a background check, some training in combat shooting, firearms legality, and I suggest also training in behavioral profiling. The FCCW permit must include a photo of the holder and his biometric information; those attempting to board public transportation while armed are required to show their permits, and in some cases may also have to use a digital thumbprint to identify themselves.

In other words, rather than trying to make America a "gun-free zone" -- that is, a victim-disarmament zone -- let's return to our foundational principle of individual responsibility for defending the nation and the innocents within it against the enemies who strike by stealth, assassination, and mass murder.

It seems to work fairly well for the Israelies (though Janet "Big Sister" Napolitano insists it wouldn't "scale up").

Debate the real issues

It's urgent that we begin an honest discussion of the threat of jihadism and dawa, and the rights and duties of citizens of a free country.

The president must take the bull by the horns and look the facts in the face: Islam is not a "religion of peace;" but then, neither is Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Shinto, Sufism, socialism, or Buddhism. No religion is uniformly peaceful; all have troubled histories of violence and murder, especially in their early stages.

The rough beast of Islam is such a danger today because its childhood has stretched across centuries, as it slouches towards the world caliphate. What Islam needs, if it is to endure, is to pass from minority, through puberty, into adultery. (Wait, I don't think that came out quite right.) If it doesn't grow up and start acting like a modern adult, the rest of the world will ultimately have to smash Islam flat; it will become an existential threat, and no other choice will be available but destroy or be destroyed.

In order to live in relative peace, Islam needs a reformation; essentially, it needs to admit that humans by nature have free will, including religious freedom. Only then can an enlightenment, or age of reason, begin -- one hopes without the need for a Thirty Years War. Thus, we need to clarify to the nation that we are not fighting all of Islam, only that portion that refuses to accept freedom... including the freedom to dissent from Islam.

Moslems who accept that they can convince but must not coerce will be unmolested; those who believe in spreading Islam by the sword (or by dawa), and who practice what they preach, must be targeted by relentless legal, military, and social interdiction. America and the rest of the West must unify, not against all Islam, but against that understanding of Islam that is incompatible with the individual freedoms at the core of modernity.

(At the moment that understanding composes a huge but undetermined chunk of Islamdom; it's pretty ugly. But hundreds of millions of Moslems don't support jihad, don't want to see a world caliphate under sharia, and would be perfectly happy living in civilized countries with rights and liberties.)

That case has never been made with real clarity to the American people; it's high time we elected a president who will make it, who will speak to us about radical Islamism the way Ronald Reagan spoke to us about Communism and other totalitarian, paranoid styles.

Defeat the enemy

We must mentally prepare America for the struggle ahead, in a serious way. George W. Bush started doing this, but he didn't follow through; it must be a "total war" against ignorance and wishful thinking.

In particular, he or she must make Americans understand that, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you go to war against the enemies you have, not the enemies you wish you had.

Yes, it would be less nerve-wracking to have a clear-cut, comprehensible enemy like the Axis in World War II, or even the Communist North Vietnamese and their "mini-me" Viet Cong terrorists. It would be wonderful to look forward to an eventual surrender signed in a brick schoolhouse in Rheims or on the deck of the USS Missouri... but that's not going to happen.

This is a different kind of war than we are used to seeing in the last hundred years; it has more in common with the Indian wars than with the wars of the twentieth century. Nor will hostilities ever completely cease; new "prophets" will always arise and try to rekindle the flames of the salafi, the wahhabi, al-Andaluz.

But the war can still be won: We will have defeated the radical Islamists when no government on Earth will befriend them.

We have a long way to go; but if we can envision the end of the war, we will have heart enough to see it through. Our problem to date is that presidents and prime ministers throughout the West have offered only two visions: Perpetual warfare with no visible progress -- or surrender and dhimmitude. This is proof positive that we're not using the correct "grand strategy" against this enemy. We need clear and unbiased thinking in the Pentagon, the State Department, and within the intelligence community; anyone who is not on board for victory, real victory, must be discharged (which likely means we need an end to public-employee unions, who of course fight against merit-based termination with every fiber in the book).

When no nation befriends radical Islamism, all nations will fight it; and without a government-protected home base, without friendly territory, they will be about as effective as neo-Nazis and state secessionists.

The de-lemma we face

Everything above depends upon several conditions:

  • We need a Congress and POTUS that actually intend to win the WARI, the war against radical Islamism.
  • We need lower-level government functionaries, flunkies, and nomenklatura who do not see America itself as their greatest enemy, wasting time and treasure fighting against any war measure that might actually be effective.
  • We need a citizenry that wants the United States to survive into the twenty-second century; that believes in the sacred rights, liberties, and freedoms we enjoy -- and the equally sacred duties we accept; and a citizenry that believes (this is the really controversial part) in something greater than themselves.

    Most would call this last belief "God," or more precisely, the ethical-monotheism that Dennis Prager writes about; but it's acceptible if some call it a "higher calling," so long as it's centered around traditional American virtues. These include liberty, democracy, Capitalism, service, and tolerance of the tolerant (coupled with intolerance of the intolerant). (Note that tolerance is not the same thing as approval or government preferential treatment.)

  • And we need foreign allies equally willing to undertake a WARI, as we cannot do it alone.

None of these conditions is impossible; all are necessary; and the sum is likely sufficient. We can take the first step in 2012, by electing a president who understands the WARI and is willing to fight it, plus a Congress that will enact the bills and consent to the officials (civilians and general officers) who will turn the new president's leadership into action on the ground.

Fortunately for us, such a president and such a Congress, with such clear vision of the urgency of the task and what we need to accomplish it, will have equally useful ideas on the economy, so-called "entitlement" programs, health care, border enforcement and the reforming of legal immigration, enforcing the Monroe Doctrine against Oogo, and most other issues; so there need be no conflict among Republicans, conservatives, right-leaning Independents, truly moderate Democrats, and even those few libertarians (such as myself) who understand that rights may be inalienable (you can't give them away), but they are surely suppressible; and that, for any government to defend liberty, it must first be able to defend itself.

I believe there is something greater than ourselves, and this "something" gives me hope that we will first engage, and then defeat the enemies of liberty, as we have in the past.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 12, 2011, at the time of 2:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 18, 2010

TSA Exceptionalism

Laughable Lawyers , Liberal Lunacy , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Although there is no hard evidence as yet, it's becoming increasingly plausible that Janet Napolitano, Capa di Tutti Capi of the Department of Homeland Security, has been giving -- or at least considering giving -- special exemptions from the highly invasive airport porno-scan and the even more highly invasive "custody search" of all passengers; these possible exemptions would only be extended to (drum roll) Moslem women in full burkas... and perhaps inadvertently to Moslem men in full burkas.

Or perhaps even women (or men who can "pass") just wearing the head covering, the hijab, plus the veil. Anything, that is, that so completely obscures the head, face, and/or body that identification is impossible; those passengers will (perhaps!) receive a "get out of humiliation free" card, a fact which Napolitano cannot seem to deny:

When asked today if she will insist that Muslim women wearing hijabs must go through full body pat downs before boarding planes, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano did not say yes or no, but told CNSNews.com there will be “adjustments” and “more to come” on the issue.

“On the pat downs, CAIR [the Council on American-Islamic Relations] has recommended that Muslim women wearing hijabs refuse to go through the full body pat downs before boarding planes,” CNSNews.com asked Napolitano at a Monday press conference. “Will you insist that they do go through full body pat downs before boarding planes?”

(CAIR also helpfully suggested that Moslem women could "pat down [their] own scarf, including head and neck area, and have the officers perform a chemical swipe of [their] hands.”)

Napolitano "responded" to Cybercast News Service's question thus:

“Look, we have, like I said before, we are doing what we need to do to protect the traveling public and adjustments will be made where they need to be made,” Napolitano responded. “With respect to that particular issue, I think there will be more to come. But, again, the goal here, you know, we’re not doing this just to do it. We’re doing it because we need to keep powders and gels and liquids off of planes that are unauthorized just as we need to keep metals off of planes.

Unless those powders, gels, and liquids are carried by Moslem women. Or Moslem girly-men.

Dear Secretary Napolitano;

How about instead trying to keep terrorists off of planes?

This freakish policy must be the synthesis of (1) confusing the actor with the inanimate object he uses in the action, colliding with (2) the overriding imperative to play the dhimmi to every nutty fatwa issued by CAIR, the Muslim American Society, Iran, Hamas, or any other radical Islamist group that practices either full-blown jihad or at least dawa, the use of preaching, threats, extortion, "lawfare," protests, organized whining and complaining, or any other means (short of actual slaughter) to push for world Islamic domination.

Rational people already know what to do: The most effective and least invasive security protocol would be to a system of behavioral profiling, accompanied by facial and body recognition of suspected terrorists by electronic scaning and by human "spotters" who roam the airport concourse, men and women exceptionally good at recognizing people from a photograph.

But liberals like Napolitano (and her own boss, Barack H. Obama) utterly refuse to consider these methods, probably because they treat passengers as individuals responsible for their own behavior, rather than representatives of groups with varying degrees of aggrievedness... and also because it smells a bit too much like Israel, which the Obama administration considers a pariah state, and every Israeli policy thus tainted and unusable.

At the very least, to speed up the process and minimize the angst, we should implement an "opt-in" system, where frequent fliers can submit to a fairly deep background check, pay a modest fee, and be issued a picture I.D. with biometric information on it, such as a thumbprint. At the airport, they would show their cards, submit to a quick facial-recognition scan and electronic thumbprint, and bypass the security line altogether. But that, of course, is pure elitism; and the top-level Obamunists cannot tolerate any such elite group... except for themselves, of course; you'll never catch Janet Napolitano having to go through the porno-scanner! (Except perhaps as a one-time publicity stunt, though so far, she has refused even that.)

With the obvious security measures swiftly and soundly rejected, Secretary Napolitano instead concocts an astonishing invasion of privacy for all airline travelers, without regard to their likelihood of posing a threat -- and then considers exempting the very people most likely to pose just such a threat: Moslems, whether male or female, who are so intensely religious (or so intensely comitted to jihad) that they must conceal their features and form from all security officers and scanners.

We apply the most intrusive, offensive, humiliating, and degrading imaginable security scrutiny to those least likely to commit terrorism, and then apply virtually no scrutiny at all to those most likely to want to blow up an airliner or fly it into a building. What could possibly go wrong?

Dennis Prager is fond of saying that the difference between conservatives and liberals is that conservatives think liberals are wrong and need to be convinced, but liberals think conservatives are either evil or insane (or both) and need to be put away. But as we are subjected more and more to liberal-progressives in full cry, and we see the natural end-result of the cult of liberalism (see When Prophecy Fails), it becomes impossible not to see the death-spiral of sanity inherent in leftism. When an ideology starts from a fundamental disconnect from reality, it eventually must either collapse upon itself -- or else deny and reject that reality in increasingly strident and ultimately hysterical pronunciamentos and surreal policies.

At that point, conservatives and other anti-liberals face their own dilemma: How do we inform the electorate of the sheer madness into which the Left has fallen without sounding delusional ourselves?

Of course, maybe that's the progressive plan of Barack Obama. If this month's elections are any guide, it ain't working.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 18, 2010, at the time of 12:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 14, 2010

Profiles in Servility

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

I am a frequent traveler. I fly a lot. I fly at least once a month, sometimes eighteen, twenty times a year; so aviation security is a great concern for me. I endure lengthy security line; I wear slip-off shoes, no belt, jewelry, or God forbid, an underwire bra. I am careful and efficient opening up my bags. In short, I am the Asian businessman (businesswoman) you really, really want to be behind in the TSA line.

However, the stupid, new security measures implemented by the Transportation Security Agency simply go too far: The full body scanning and the enhanced pat down -- actually a "custody search," according to one cop on an interview show -- are not only intrusive, they are inefficient and ineffective. I'm thinking of joining the grass-roots protest by refusing to fly to the East Coast and scheduling a teleconference instead.

Already, many pilots and flight attendants are considering boycotts. Many passengers are considering alternatives to flying, rather than going through such terrible experiences. If enough people opt out of flying this holiday season, it could spell disaster for the airline industry.

The TSA would probably justify their security fondling by bringing up Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a.k.a. Abdul Metal-Knob, a.k.a. the Undiebomber of last Christmas. True, his bomb was not detected by the normal metal detector; but had the Department of Homeland Security (TSA's parent) done its job properly, Metal-Knob couldn't have come near the airport in the first place.

Metal-Knob was a known terrorist, considered so dangerous that his name was already on DHS's no-fly list. He was not supposed to fly at all! But there he was, aboard a Northwest Airlines flight. Why? Because somebody in charge of the DHS failed to do her job; that is, somebody who shall remain nameless, but whose initials are Janet Napolitano, hand-picked by Barack H. Obama to be Secretary of Homeland Security.

Janet Napolitano was once governor of Arizona ("I can see Mexico from my house!"); after Metal-Knob's bomb failed to explode and kill everyone aboard, Napolitano declared "the system worked!"; and she raised a boatload of money for Obama's presidential campaign. The One We Just Shellacked concluded that these three accomplishments (especially the last) easily qualified her to become the point-woman for defending the American homeland.

In addition to allowing Metal-Knob onto Northwest Airlines, DHS and TSA have also done a great job keeping the total number of illegal aliens enrolled in American flight schools down to just a few thousand:

Outside Boston, one shady flight school provided single-engine pilot lessons to at least 33 illegal immigrants from Brazil. But clear counter-terror rules ban illegal aliens from enrolling in U.S. flight schools. Clear counter-terror regulations require TSA to run foreign flight students’ names against a plethora of terrorism, criminal and immigration databases. Head-scratching airport security officials were at a loss last week to explain how dozens of these illegal alien students eluded their radar screen when the agency “performs a thorough background check on each applicant at the time of application” and checks “for available disqualifying immigration information,” the Boston Globe reported....

Whistleblowers have warned for years about the gaping holes in both the TSA’s and the Federal Aviation Administration’s foreign pilot screening systems. In 2005, aviation safety inspector Edward H. Blount of the Alabama Flight Standards District Office sent a letter to the TSA warning of federal policies that were “fostering illegal flight training by foreign individuals” in the U.S. on improper visas. Blount reported that he and another investigator were told by a TSA official that the agency was “not going to look at the visa status” of pilot applicants....

In 2008, ABC News discovered that thousands of foreign nationals were able to enroll in flight schools despite the strict flight security rules. “Some of the very same conditions that allowed the 9-11 tragedy to happen in the first place are still very much in existence today,” one regional TSA officer warned. “TSA’s enforcement is basically nonexistent,” former FAA inspector Bill McNease told the network. The matter was kicked upstairs to DHS higher-ups in Washington. And there it gathered dust.

While TSA agents are busily groping innocent men, women, and children, real terrorists are slipping through the our non-existent security screening, even earning pilots licenses in the United States. I'm sure it's all George W. Bush's fault.

So if you're not keen to have some overweight, sweaty, 22 year old grab your groin -- or worse, give an amateur breast exam to your sixteen year old daughter -- then what is the alternative? Fortunately, others have already paved the way to far more effective and less intrusive security measure.

Unfortunately, the way was paved by the Israelis... so there's about a zero percent chance the Obamunists will ever give it a try. I'm talking about good, old behavioral profiling. David Nodell writes:

The most effective check, as many analysts have commented, remains the human one, Israeli-style, designed to detect bombers rather than bombs. The system works: Every passenger in the queue for the check-in at Ben-Gurion airport, or for any El Al flight elsewhere, is questioned, if only for a few seconds, by a trained ‘selector,’ who can basically conclude within a few seconds from someone’s reactions -- body language and facial expressions more than verbal responses -- to questions such as ‘Where did you come from just now?’ and ‘Did you pack your bags yourself and did anyone give you anything to take to someone else at your destination?’ who might be a potential threat from who is just the average tourist. This leaves time to ask people who might be a threat more searching questions before even considering whether to search them and their bags or not. As Daniel Pipes reminds us in an article almost 21 years ago, this is what saved an El Al flight from London in April 1986 from being blown up by the completely unwitting Ann-Marie Murphy, in whose luggage her Arab boyfriend had hidden a bomb.

Behavioral profiling cannot be mistaken or confused with racial profiling. Racial profiling is not only offensive to certain group of people, it simply doesn't work: Terrorists quickly realize you're only searching Arabs, for example, so they recruit another blond-haired, blue-eyed Johnny Taliban to carry the plastique. You just can't go by race, sex, or country of origin; you must hunt for people who behave suspiciously, then implement a thorough search.

Whatever name, religion, skin colour or clothes you bear passing through airports and their security checks, your behavior is the most telling. If you are planning to blow yourself up together with two or three hundred other people, you are anxious that you are going to succeed without first getting caught, and concerned that Allah’s heaven will match the glowing descriptions on which you have been fed by your instructor or imam: the stress does show -- which is why there is a good chance that you will get caught.

This, of course, cannot be done by an untrained TSA circus-seal just been hired off the street last week. The selectors must be highly trained professionals with real-world experience in behavioral profiling; so what better material to recruit than current or former police officers? Police profile people's behaviors all day, every day, as anyone knows who has watched even a couple episodes of COPS.

You're pulled over by a highway patrol officer. "Good evening sir; do you know why I stopped you?" (First test -- guilty conscience?) "Where are you going, sir? Where are you coming from? (Second -- the route should match the location of the stop.) "Have you had anything to drink tonight, sir?" (Third -- Does the driver start to get nervous? Can he not remember exactly how many drinks? Does the cop smell alcohol on the driver's breath?) And so on; the patrolman's exact sequence of questions depends on the circumstances, what more serious offenders he's already on the lookout for, and of course on any evasive, non-responsive, or just plain goofy answers he receives.

And the same basic technique works for jihadi bombers too, as the Israelis demonstrate with their almost perfect record of keeping their airliners safe.

Obviously, ordinary beat cops don't pat down or interrogate everyone they see; they have neither the time nor the need. Instead, they are very highly trained over many months in the Academy, augmented by years on the job, to spot suspicious activities and notice people who are simply wrong. They pull such people over and start asking questions that anybody with nothing to feel guilty about should easily be able to answer.

Most of us are innocent; all we want to do is get from one place to another with no delay. Conducting custody searches and taking pornographic pictures of everyday grandfathers, grandsons, and businesswomen wastes time and causes unnecessary anguish.

It also gives TSA and DHS -- and the American public -- a dangerously false feeling of security; we think we're safe, when in fact terrorists can use fairly simple tricks to "defeat" the security protocols (administered by bureaucratic nitwits): Terrorists can always find some weapon nobody thought to scan for. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, nobody imagined nineteen men could bring down the two tallest buildings in America with a handful of retractable utility knives, a.k.a. "box cutters."

So, why not implement the more effective, tested, and proven technique of behavioral profiling? I think there are three main reasons the current administration shies away:

  • First, it's just too hard for a three-weeks wonder to do.

In the short training period, TSA can teach him to conduct an invasive custody search, fondling passengers for fun and wages, and to push a button and look at a video screen. Whether he can spot something suspicious in the image is another question; but I doubt the TSA workers are as much concerned with protecting passengers -- the inspectors aren't flying! -- as they are with getting a cushy job that requires no heavy lifting, putting in their eight hours, and going home.

But he certainly cannot be trained in a week, a month, or even six months to spot a wannabe terrorist walking through the airport concourse.

  • Second, profiling of any kind smacks too much of "discrimination."

The "progressive" nomenklatura who clutter up the TSA and the rest of DHS, along with the CIA, Justice Department, State, the Department of Agriculture, and all other branches of the administration (even when we have a Republican president) have an ideological fetish that prevents them from "discriminating" in any way between people... including discriminating between the innocent and the deadly. They simply do not believe in evil people... just evil inanimate tools, like guns, bombs, and Bibles.

The permanent bureaucracy is horrified by the very idea of holding individuals responsible for their own actions; it flies in the face of leftist orthodoxy, which sees people only as representatives of special interests. If a member of a minority group (and who isn't?) commits a crime or even acts suspiciously, he cannot be held responsible unless you hold every other member of that group equally responsible. When a highly visible group (race, sex, age) is considered "oppressed," then every member of that group has what Ann Coulter calls "absolute moral authority" and cannot be held to account for anything.

To a liberal, behavioral profiling doesn't really exist; it's mentally impossible due to stereotypes and hidden prejudices; to the Left, "profiling" always and everywhere just code for racism, sexism, homophobia, or Islamophobia.

  • And third, there's that pesky Israeli "taint."

You just can't get away from it. If the Jews Israelis pioneered the technique, then it must be a crime against humanity!

The fact that the progressive-bureaucratic ideology fits so neatly with the laziness of most TSA hirees is sheer coincidence. (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.)

But when the TSA and DHS refuse to do their jobs, we shouldn't allow them to play "CYA" by forcing us to endure yet another level of intrusive inspection, one that goes beyond even that reserved for criminal suspects. What's next, full body-cavity searches? Lengthy background checks? Forcing all air passengers to fly stark naked?

Ordinary Americans will not stand for being treated like potential killers; we'll either file lawsuits or simply refuse to fly.

Meanwhile, if you are planning on flying this holiday season, expect to see a long line at the security check. Especially be prepared to hear children screaming, men yelling, women crying, and passengers being dragged off to detention for "dissing" their TSA protectors. Nice way to start the Christmas holiday, don’t you think?

Dafydd adds: Could these "custody searches" and full-body naked scans be a back door to full-blown affirmative action in TSA hiring? If they're really going to do this, they'll need a massive hiring spree; but since at least a third of air passengers are female, and since females make up a much smaller percent of the TSA, and since most women would absolutely refuse to be fondled or seen in the nude by a male TSA agent... then logically, nearly all the new hires would have to be women, just to bring females up to parity with males.

I can just see the Triumvirate of Harpies -- Janet Napolitano, Hillary Clinton, and Carol Browner -- marching arm in arm into the Oval Office chanting "We shall overcome!" The president would be charmed, I'm sure.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, November 14, 2010, at the time of 11:01 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

September 13, 2010

What If We Made Every Day "Burn a Koran Day"?

Cultures and Contortions , Democrazy Inaction , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

I rib you not; what if, every day of every week of every month of every year, folks in the West held a good old, traditional Koran despoiling?

Suppose each of us ran out and bought 52 copies of the Koran (or al-Quran, if you prefer); then, joining in covens of seven, each of us picked a day of the week -- and burned one Koran each name day. That's a year's worth of poached prophet for each cabal!

  • Wednesday's child could burn the book.
  • The Friday desecrator could fling that week's copy into the sewer.
  • The Monday marauder could mangle the monstrosity in a meat masher.
  • The man who was Thursday could trample it underfoot with muddy boots.
  • Saturday's cross-tab could wrap it with strips of bacon, fry it up, and eat it, leaf by leaf.
  • Tuesday's tot could drink lots of Budweiser, then toss the tome in the toilet and make lots of Budweiser.
  • And of course, he who is blessed to have the duty of desecrating a Koran on Sunday could hammer a spike through its heart and bury it at a crossroads -- beneath a veritable Vesuvius of hog jowls, pickled pig's feet, and pork rinds.

Then we start all over again.

Dear Mr. Huge: Have you finally and irrevocably flipped your Yid lid? Signed, the Society for Prevention of Lighting Up Holy Lit

No no, I have a point, and it's a good one. Suppose we did this day in and day out, so that never did a single day pass without someone, somewhere creatively desecrating a Koran. On the telly. On YouTube, in the papers, on the sacred soil of the wirefeed. Suppose Koran-obliterating became ubiquitous, offhand, humdrum: Yawn, another Koran in the trash compactor, how droll. Desecrate, desecrate, desecrate!

Hard as it may be to believe, even radical Islamists are human beings; and as humans, eventually they will just plain run out of outrage. Only a tiny handful of people have a literally infinite capacity to become incensed, hysterical, like a middle-aged matron who thinks she saw a mouse. (Or like the gangster Woody Allen described in one of his books, probably Without Feathers, since that's the only one I read: Allen's mafioso was so paranoid, ne never allowed anyone in New York City to get behind him.)

For the rest of the world, including the vast majority of Moslems, outrage is not infinite: Pitching a spaz requires hormones such as adrenalin coursing through one's body; but the body cannot produce adrenalin all day, every day without it taking a terrific toll on health. Sooner or later, each individual hysteric must either calm down, take a deep breath, and resolve just to ignore the unholy undertaking in future... or else die of a coronary delusion at age 38.

Therefore, if the West made every day "Burn a Koran Day," then after a very few months, the ummah would greet each day's desecration as conservatives greet each day's Obamunism: With an exasperated eye-roll, but elsewise equanimity. When Ahmadinejad or Nasrallah or Zawahiri screams "The infidels are burning the Koran, we must rush forth and slay the nearest Christian and the ten nearest Jews!" -- the rest of Islamdom will shrug and say, "So what else is new?" The action of burning a Koran will have utterly lost all impact, all effect, all meaning... it will have become just another book.

And then we can stop.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 13, 2010, at the time of 9:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 1, 2010

Through a Lens Darkly

Lawn Forcement , Terrorism Intelligence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

In a post published today on Patterico's Pontifications, Patterico highlights a pair of news stories that seem at sixes and sevens. Both relate to the two Moslem immigrants from Yemen to the United States who were arrested in the Amsterdam airport and charged with plotting a terrorist attack... but one story says the two were actually friends, while the other says they were complete strangers -- at least according to unnamed U.S. government officials. ("The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.")

Detroit News:

Both of the detained men are friends who lived and worked in Dearborn [Michigan], said Imad Hamad of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. The al Soofi and al Murisi families are prominent within the Yemeni-American community in Dearborn, Hamad said.

CNSNews.com reprinting an AP story:

The two men arrested in Amsterdam -- both traveling to Yemen -- did not know each other and were not traveling together, a U.S. government official said.

The point most important to the investigation is whether the two were connected; because if they didn't even know each other, they clearly weren't joined in a conspiracy to blow up planes, and this flight could not have been the "dry run" that many believe it may have been, including police in the Netherlands.

But the salient point to me is the simple fact that one story said the two were "friends who lived and worked in Dearborn" -- and relied upon Imad Hamad, who appears to be local to Dearborn, from the way he speaks of their neighbors; while the other that said they "did not know each other" -- and its source was a pair of anonymous federal officials, presumably associated with the FBI, which is conducting the probe.

Patterico goes on to say, "Who ya gonna believe? I think you know where I stand." But I'm less interested in the metaphysical truth of the terrorism allegation here -- any prosecution would likely occur in the Netherlands -- than I am in the epistemology of terrorist law enforcement. How does the FBI purport to know that the two are strangers to each other?

I'm not a philosopher, but I understand that classical philosophy is divided into three broad areas of study: metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. (Though with modern philosophy being taken over by psychology and deconstructionism, I have no idea whether anyone else still uses these concepts -- save perhaps in an "archeology of philosophy" class.) Very roughly and glibly put, I define them this way:

  • Metaphysics: What we know.
  • Epistemology: How we know what we know.
  • Ethics: What we do about what we know.

Most people seem to focus on ethics; most of the rest appear lost in metaphysics. But I've always been fascinated by how we "know" what we know -- or think we know; how do we try to answer Pontius Pilate's famous question, "What is truth?"

Problems abound everywhere. First, we must find evidence, which may require a lot of digging. Where is it? Who's got the evidence, and will he tell us?

Next, all that digging will invariably unearth conflicting evidence; how do we reconcile it when (as in this pair of stories) some evidence says one thing, while other evidence says the polar opposite?

Then the third problem: How much of the evidence can we believe? People lie, people forget, people misunderstand or misremember. People do all of the above when they write books, produce documentaries, or publish blogposts, as well. So who is persuasive, and why?

Finally, once we've found as much evidence as we can, and once we've reconciled the contradicitons as best we may, how can we put what's left into a narrative, a story that tells us what happened before, what's happening now, and what's likely to happen in the future?

But even when we've surmounted these general obstacles, there is another and larger hurdle to overcome: the filtering effects of ideology, expectation, face saving, faction, and interest.

  • Ideology: Your belief system can determine what you can and cannot accept; for example, a person who, for deeply religious reasons, believes biological evolution doesn't happen will tend to disbelieve any scientific evidence supporting it. Similarly, a devout environmentalist may be ideologically incapable of considering evidence that global warming is natural and has many positive and benign effects.
  • Expectation: The expression "seeing is believing" has it exactly backwards; it's more accurate to say believing is seeing. That is, we all tend to see what we expect to see.

    In the one psych class I took, we were briefly shown a drawing of a subway scene, then asked to write down everything we remembered. One mini scene was an angry encounter in one part of the car between a white and a black man; the white guy held a straight razor in his hand -- not threatening, just holding. Yet more than three quarters of the (very large) class "remembered" the black man holding the razor -- and remembered him threatening the white man with it.

    The misremembering seemed evenly divided among Left and Right in that class. Expectation can easily color (sorry!) one's perception and memory... we all tend to remember things, not as they happened, but as they should have happened.

  • Face saving: Human beings don't like being embarassed or humiliated, and they will often remember things happening differently to avoid such painfulness. For example, if you were the guy who thought James Joyce wrote "Trees," and the other guy mocked you, then a month later, you might confabulate a memory where you were the one who correctly identified the author as Joyce Kilmer, and it was the other idiot who thought it was James Joyce!
  • Faction: If you are a member of a political, business, social, or other faction that vehemently argues for one side of a contentious issue, you may have a very hard time even understanding the other side's evidence, let alone acknowledging it. This is true even if you, yourself don't particularly care about that issue; it's an important issue for your "side," and you identify with that side.
  • Interest: If you have a financial or other personal interest in one particular side of an issue, you might not be trustworthy on that point; you may even lie to yourself! For example, if you have a huge investment in a company that sells carbon allowances, you may very well be incapable of fairly evaluating arguments against anthropogenic global climate change. For the same reason, trial lawyers can't see any benefit in tort reform, while even conservative politicians tend to drift into supporting more government control (they "grow in office"), thus giving themselves more power.

Now that we have the rhetorical tools we need, we can get to the point of this post... at last!

Let's assume that Imad Hamad either lives in Dearborn or knows many people who do, so he would actually know whether Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi and Hezem al Murisi were in fact friends. I suppose Hamad could have some obscure reason why he would either lie about it or be unable to imagine the two not being friends, but I confess I cannot think of any. Why would ideology, expectation, embarassment, faction, or interest hinge on whether those two were friends or strangers to each other?

But let's look at the other side: Members of the administration of Barack H. Obama have many reasons why they really, really wouldn't want to admit (even to themselves!) that this might have been a dry run for a terrorist attack, even if their own evidence implies it:

  • The ideology of the Obamunists is that terrorism against the United States was caused by America's own wretched actions -- invading Moslem countries to steal oil, bullying the world, and of course, supporting those Zionist squatters in Palestine. Heck, the president won't even say the word "terrorism;" such events are just "man-caused disasters." Surely anything they do to us, we richly deserved!
  • The expectation of the administration is that the election of Barack Hussein Obama, coupled with the wonderfully pro-Moslem and pro-Arab policies he has put into place, will absolutely resolve the "miscommunication" that led to all this violence (in the previous administration). But if guys named Mohamed are still anxious to attack America, then that means... But no, that just can't be.
  • And think how embarassing to have a domestic terrorist attack while B.O. was president! Especially two or three years into his presidency, not eight months, as with George W. Bush. The One would never live it down.
  • Too, his own ultra-liberal-verging-on-socialist party is absolutely committed to the idea that all we need is diplomacy. They're already looking askance at the Obama administration, what with not shutting down the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, continuing the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and talking about possibly still using Bushitler's military commissions. To remain in good standing with his evaporating political allies, Obama simply cannot prosecute people before they actually set off a suicide bomb or murder some Jews; that could only be racial profiling -- just like W. used to do.
  • Finally, the president must consider his own reelection prospects in 2012. If he ever admitted (even if he knows it's true) that radical Islamists continue to attempt massive terrorist attacks, it would immensely complicate his reelection strategy. What is Obama supposed to argue -- "Reelect me, and I swear I won't do as bad a job on national security as my first term?" His own power depends upon convincing voters that he has kept us safe, much better than did his predecessor. He cannot admit it's only sheer luck that we haven't been hit again, or he'll start seeing those "Miss me yet?" t-shirts on his own White House staff.

In other words, Imad Hamad has no obvious reason to lie or misremember that al Soofi and al Murisi are pals, no detectable "parsing filter;" but Obamunists have many filters pushing them to believe the pair were total strangers.

Which is yet one more reason to lean towards believing the Detroit News story over the Associated Press... at least until more and better data comes through.

That was my point, small though it may be. But hey, getting there is half the fun!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 1, 2010, at the time of 6:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 21, 2010

Obamacle Demands Lockerbie Bomber Be Reincarcerated; World Laughs

Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, a spokesman for President Barack H. Obama hilariously demanded that Libya hand over the Lockerbie Bomber to be returned to prison in Scotland:

John Brennan, President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, told reporters accompanying the vacationing leader the United States has “expressed our strong conviction” to Libya that Abdel Baset al-Megrahi should not remain free.

Brennan criticized what he termed the “unfortunate and inappropriate and wrong decision,” and added: “We’ve expressed our strong conviction that al-Megrahi should serve out the remainder - the entirety - of his sentence in a Scottish prison.”

I doubt that either Brennan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or Obama himself believes that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi will sheepishly hand Megrahi over to Scottish authorities; while I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it does appear that yesterday's censorious "Sermon on the Hill" might have been nothing more than presidential grandstanding.

The Obamunist has repeatedly insisted he did everything humanly possible to stop the release, which he only found out about a day or two beforehand -- far too late to intervene in any serious way. But by golly, he sure talked a good fight!

However, British officials revealed last September that the Obama administration knew about the pending release for months before it happened and was privy to the entire negotiation; yet Obama told no one and did nothing effective to stop it:

British officials claim Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton were kept informed at all stages of discussions concerning Megrahi’s return.

The officials say the Americans spoke out because they were taken aback by the row over Megrahi’s release, not because they did not know it was about to happen.

‘The US was kept fully in touch about everything that was going on with regard to Britain’s discussions with Libya in recent years and about Megrahi,’ said the Whitehall aide.

‘We would never do anything about Lockerbie without discussing it with the US. It is disingenuous of them to act as though Megrahi’s return was out of the blue.

Big Lizards posted about the president's uncharacteristic taciturnity nearly a year ago; to quote myself (my favorite pastime!):

[H]ad Obama put his foot down, perhaps even threatening to go public about the talks (thus scuttling them) -- had he even threatened to reveal the real reason for the amnesty, a massive oil deal for British Petroleum offered as a bribe by Libyan military dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi -- Obama could almost certainly have stopped the release of Megrahi.

Given the reaction not only here but across the Atlantic, such a deal must be negotiated in the dead of night; a credible threat to bring it out into the open before the terms were agreed upon would have meant both Great Britain and Libya would have had to deny and denounce the deal, and it couldn't have happened... not for years, at least, while the furor died down.

Evidently, Obama feels the periodic urge to thump his chest and buttress his national-security credentials -- especially just before an election, albeit midterm. But to loudly demand the impossible now, when the horse has long since been let out of the bag, doesn't make Obama (or the United States) look strong; it makes us look pathetic and desperate. Worse, America becomes an object of mirth and triumphalism to our enemies. It could hardly be worse if B.O. himself had stood in a dinghy off the shores of Tripoli, shaken his fist and shouted, "You wascally wabbit...!"

Of all the hypocritical and disingenuous things Obama has said, directly or through a sock puppet, this one may top the list. In a single demand, he has pulled off a hat trick:

  • Insulted and offended our allies by making out that they went behind Obama's back, when in fact he was fully informed before, during, and after the release;
  • Made the United States look weak and impotent;
  • Made himself look like a pompous, clueless, ineffectual ass.

By first standing by, hat in hand, while the Brits sold the Lockerbie bomber back to Libya for a mess of petrolidge, then raging and storming a year later, when it has become obvious to the world that we, the Brits, and the Scots were all flim-flammed by Megrahi the Mysterious, President Obama picked the worst possible combination of responses to yesterday's anniversary. I'm certain our radical-Islamist enemies have taken note.

Thank you, Mask Man!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 21, 2010, at the time of 7:32 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 4, 2010

The Dawa Bums, and the Only Hope

Islamarama , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The only hope for final victory in the war against radical Islamism is to turn the majority of the umma against the Islamists, against sharia, against jihad, against dawa.

The only hope to turn the majority of the umma is to bring about a reformation and enlightenment within Islam.

The only hope for reformation and enlightenment is to engage open-minded Moslems in a war of ideas and ideologies.

The only hope to engage open-minded Moslems is clearly to discriminate between Islamists and non-radical Moslems, and to offer persuasive arguments to the latter that radical Islamism is a colossal exercise in cultural suicide.

The only hope to single-out Islamists is to lead Westerners to understand what radical Islamism is; and to shine the light of truth, not only upon obvious terrorists but, much more important, upon the shadow-warriors who practice dawa -- promoting Islamist ideas by means other than violent jihad.

The only hope to lead Westerners to understanding is to speak honestly, forthrightly, and in plain words about the web of mass hatred, human sacrifice, nihilism, totalitarianism, and destruction of the individual that constitutes radical Islamism.

The only hope to expose the dawa-bums is to enunciate those truths again and again and again.

The only hope to speak honestly and enuciate the truths of Islamism is to have courage, determination, and American cussedness.

The only hope to develop courage, determination, and cussedness is to practice it... and that means taking advantage of every election to throw out the appeasers, obfuscators, accomodationists, bribe-takers and rent-seekers, and panderers who infest state legislatures and governors' mansions, Congress, and la Casa Blanca.

The only hope to throw the traitors out is to use our votes wisely: to vote for conservatives and Tea-Partiers in primaries where the state or district is probably going to go Republican no matter what; but not to nominate extremist conservatives in states or districts that are likely to lurch left if the Republican nominee is too right-wing.

And even being willing to vote for a Democrat with clarity on radical Islamism, in preference to a Republican who still thinks Islam is the "religion of peace."

The goal is to change the environment in the states, in Congress, and in the White House... not to "send a message." If you want to send a message, write a blasted blogpost; don't dump your vote.

That's the only hope; so don't blow it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 4, 2010, at the time of 1:23 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 29, 2010

Round One Masque for the "Ground Zero Mosque"

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Two libertarian friends of mine -- one of whom is the immortal Brad Linaweaver, co-founder of this very blog -- are debating with various libertarian and conservative opponents about whether the city government of New York City should bar construction of Cordoba House on a site two blocks from the remains of the World Trade Centers in southern Manhattan, a site now grimly referred to as Ground Zero.

Those opposed to building the center call it the Ground Zero Mosque (GZM), and the term has become widespread. Those opposed to the opposers object that the term is misleading: Cordoba House an Islamic cultural center, not a mosque, they argue; and it's not to be emplaced exactly upon the rubble of Ground Zero but is actually a couple of blocks away

GZM opponents respond that the center will almost certainly include a mosque, or at least a place where center members can go for Islamic services, to pray, and to hear Islamic sermons... almost certainly radical Islamist sermons, given the nature of the center's Imam, Muslim Brotherhood associate and possible member Feisal Abdul Rauf. It's supposed to be dedicated on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks (I don't know that this is true, but that is the argument). And they argue that the GZM site chosen by Rauf was the closest he could get to Ground Zero itself; I believe even Rauf admits that, though he disputes the claim that he selected it in order to crow over the attack. And there stands the debate so far.

Brad and the third party wrote me to find out where I stood on the issue; this post is adapted from two e-mails I sent them addressing various aspects. (While Brad suggested I write about this debate, I haven't the permission of the third party to drag his or her name into it; so please forgive me if I don't use a name.)

The controversy has two sides (as most do); the first is the American virtues of religious liberty and property rights, enshrined in both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Let's take that side first.

...With liberty and justice for all

I don't particularly respond to "sacred symbols" or "holy land." I see nothing especially special about Mecca, Jerusalem, the Cross, the Magen David, Ground Zero, or for that matter, Arlington National Cemetary; each is just a physical thing or a spot on the map. While I am moved in various ways by the signified -- the actual events and the purposes behind them -- I feel nothing for the signifiers, the geographical places and symbolic objects that point at the more important ideas and events.

I take no personal umbrage at the owner of the property at Ground Zero -- which happens to be the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, basically a two-state port district, or government-owned corporation -- choosing to build another office building there, or a taco stand, or a shrine, or a mosque; it's Port Authority property, and the corporation should be able do what it wants with it. But I do understand the power of symbolism to other people... in this case, both to most Americans and to nearly all Moslems:

  • To the former, Ground Zero symbolizes a contemptible and unprovoked sneak attack on thousands of American civilians, innocent foreigners, our most revered part of the American government (the military), and indeed upon our entire economic system of (mostly) free enterprise.
  • To a great many, if not most Moslems, Ground Zero symbolizes a righteous blow against the wicked Zionists and Crusaders -- however regrettable it may be that some innocent infidels and even some of the faithful had to die in the striking.
  • To other Moslems, it symbolizes the radical Islamism that holds Islam in thrall to Mediaevalism, tribalism, xenophobia, and totalitarianism. (I doubt that any but a handful of Moslems has no reaction whatsoever to Ground Zero as a symbol.)

Thus, for purely strategic reasons, an action in the war against radical Islamism, I would far, far prefer that any building erected on the actual site be a tall, powerful, arrogant, American commercial building, rising even higher than did the Twin Towers; and this time, let's design the damn thing to look as much as possible like a colossal, world-bestriding middle finger extended to the Moloch worshippers who plotted and carried out the 9/11 attacks. I hope thereby to rally Americans to defense of our nation and our culture, and dishearten the Islamists by showing that we will not be cowed, intimidated, or defeated.

As a libertarian (or propertarian), I don't believe the City of New York should be able to forbid the Port Authority from allowing someone to build an actual mosque on the actual site of 9/11; for that matter, as the Port Authority is owned by the states of New York and New Jersey, I don't believe the city would have any legal authority to enact such a prohibition.

(I would be much less forgiving if the Port Authority built a groveling appeasement center at Ground Zero. I still believe the corporation should have the right to build such an apology to the jihadis, but its commissioners would be monumental asses to do so. And I would hope some gazillionaire would raise the funds to buy the site from the P.A. and build something more appropriate there instead -- see design point above.)

But for the very same reason -- the sanctity of private property -- I also oppose allowing the city to prevent Rauf from building an Islamic center (or mosque) two blocks away, on land now owned by Soho Properties (a Moslem-run real-estate investment corporation). Soho owns it; the Cordoba Initiative (run by Rauf) presumably leases it; it's their private property... not communal property owned by the citizens of New York City.

Oh yes, and declaring the site, an old Burlington Coat factory, a "historical landmark" in order to deprive its owner of the right to commercially exploit the real estate is an anti-capitalist scheme that would be denounced by every conservative and libertarian in America... if only Soho Properties and the Cordoba Initiative were Christian or Jewish organizations. I understand from Mike Gallagher's radio show that the vote to declare it a landmark failed. Hallelujah, the God of Take-a-Deep-Breath was working overtime that day.

As to whether Cordoba House will include a mosque... so what if it does? There are plenty of mosques in New York already, as well as Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, Hindu temples, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, Mormon temples, and probably Scientology churches. Obviously we cannot single out one religion and say "but we don't want them!"

Moslems have as much right to erect Islamic cultural and religious centers as do members of any other religion; we have freedom of religion in America. But that does bring us to the other side of this controversy: How far does religious liberty extend? And must we treat every religious institution with exactly the same degree of scrutiny as all of the others, or can we discriminate on the basis of actual behavior?

"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"

The best article about the GZM controversy I have yet read is "Rauf’s Dawa from the World Trade Center Rubble," by Andrew McCarthy, the former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York who successfully prosecuted the "Blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel Rahman, and eleven co-defendents for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centers. McCarthy also assisted in the prosecution of the terrorists who bombed the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; and he is the author of what I believe to be the single most important book on radical Islamism thus far -- the Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America -- which I urge you all to read.

He argues that Cordoba House is not intended for "interfaith cooperation," as Rauf claims, but is in fact an exercise of dawa, Arabic for spreading Islam by means other than brute force; besides ordinary proselytizing, dawa includes propaganda, lying, bribery, extortion, infiltration, sedition, and sabotage, each of which is condoned by Moslem law if the goal is to advance Islam, specifically radical Islamism and sharia. (Advancing the supremacy of Islam by brute force would be jihad; thus dawa is sometimes called soft jihad by supporters and critics alike.)

McCarthy also amasses good evidence that Rauf is either a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, or at the very least in league with them:

  • Two Brotherhood front groups published a special edition of Rauf's 2004 book on Islamism.
  • Rauf has high praise for the spiritual leader of the Brotherhood, Yusuf Qaradawi, a fundamentalist Islamist (and Brother) who explicitly supports Hamas, the Holy Land Foundation, and suicide attacks on any Israeli and on any American in Iraq. Qaradawi is an exterminationist antisemite who praises Hitler and expresses the desire that during the next Holocaust -- though he claims the Jews exaggerated the previous one -- the final extermination of all Jews in the world will be brought about "at the hand of the believers" (that is, by Moslems).

    To Feisal Abdul Rauf, this is a band leader to follow!

Jihadi jiu jitsu

So the question becomes, given that Cordoba House is likely to be a radical Islamist recruitment center, assuming it takes after its founding imam, and a source of infiltration and sabotage into the government and institutions of the United States, for the avowed purpose of overthrowing them and replacing all with a sharia-based Islamic state -- what should be our response? Most of us supported the outing and prosecution of Communist infiltrators, agitators, and saboteurs in the last century; should we not likewise support the outing and prosecution of radical Islamists in this one?

I don't believe the proper response is to prevent it from being sited so close to Ground Zero; but that being said, we certainly have the right to defend ourselves, our nation, and our culture. As Justice Robert H. Jackson opined, "the Constitution is not a suicide pact."

So let's use a little asymmetrical warfare against those who would destroy us. Let's use American ingenuity, which I daresay we have in nigh-infinitely greater supply than adherents of a religion that is frozen in time at the seventh century. We'll turn the enemy's own strength against him: We step back and allow the Cordoba Initiative to proceed, let Rauf build his Cordoba House dawa center; but as it's being built on the site of the old Burlington Coat factory, we should bug the entire building, surveille everyone, and infiltrate the staff and membership.

I suspect such an effort would produce a veritable deluge of actionable, anti-Islamist intelligence. It would allow us to avert numerous terrorist attacks and other crimes, including terrorist funding efforts, sabotage, and espionage. It would give the FBI a tool to uncover untold numbers of Islamist moles, seemingly benign charitable organizations that are in fact the ideological heirs to the Holy Land Foundation. And it would allow us to keep tabs on a very dangerous group of insurgents right here in the United States.

Of course, I would also not be averse to revoking the legal residency or naturalization of any foreign-born resident at the center caught engaging in anti-American activities.

None of these responses conflicts with the principles religious liberty or property rights; certainly law-enforcement agencies have the authority to investigate possible crimes, even when committed by clergy or congregants; and intelligence agencies have authority to detect threats to national security and expedite their extirpation.

The liberal "elites" will believe they have won the day, and in an orgy of overconfidence will take a three-month victory lap. Those conservatives who are eager to trade essential liberty for temporary security will be prevented from giving in to their own worst impulses. And we'll be better able to take the war against radical Islamism straight to the enemy.

See? The quick and the clever can always find a middle ground between fascist tendencies on the Right -- and liberal-fascist tendencies on the Left.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 29, 2010, at the time of 6:56 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 28, 2010

Brilliance at Midnight - the Dawn

Educational Elucidations , Kriminal Konspiracies , Terrorism Intelligence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

In the comments of the previous post, commenter BigLeeH asked how I would "go about pursuing the war of ideas which we both agree should be a central focus in our confrontation with radical Islamism." Here are some thoughts I've had recently on that very subject.

(Note that I only discuss here the war of ideas against the radical Islamists; we of course also need actual military action... but that is beyond the scope of this piece.)

I point out that every one of these suggestions was actually carried out during World War II, within the context of the 1930s and 40s, of course. In fact, the defenders of American values went even farther, making scores of movies that were pro-American, pro-allied (including pro-Soviet), anti-Nazi, and anti-Imperial Japanese; producing pro-America propaganda for radio and the stage; and enlisting the aid of popular entertainers world-wide. There is no reason that conservatives within the entertainment industry -- and there are some -- cannot do at least some of that; "What Man has done, Man can aspire to do again."

School's in forever

The most important task before launching into a war of ideas is to fully arm and equip our "soldiers" -- in this case, our soldiers comprise all Americans willing and able to defend Western values of individual liberty, property and Capitalism, freedom of speech and religion (not merely freedom of worship, as Obama would have it), actual rule of law, and governance by the consent of the governed. Bluntly, I mean educating the masses about the Grand Jihad, its goals, its methods, and the existential danger it poses.

There are, as we know, any number of excellent books which will give the reader a very good education in the goals, strategies, and history of what Andrew McCarthy calls the Grand Jihad or the Project, a.k.a. the Islamist Project (just to be more specific). I'm not going to give a suggested reading list, because I can't possibly survey the literature deeply enough to make even a fair pass at it. But I'm sure there are experts in the field, such as former federal prosecutor McCarthy, or Professor Bernard Lewis, or even a lowly journalist like Mark Steyn or Hugh Hewitt, who could promulgate a required and desired reading list.

Step 1 in the war of ideas is not to be a tabula rasa; let's assume you've all read enough to educate yourselves. We move along.

Alas, while such books are necessary, they won't do the heavy lifting of educating the American heartland. Not because Americans are too stupid to read (that's a canard of the Left), but because most Americans either don't have time to read, or have been so traumatized by being force-fed leftist propaganda in school that they never developed the habit of reading. Thus, a 300-page tome is unattractive and intimidating.

Too, young Americans prefer a more interactive, more human style of communication. I believe much of what we find out, despite the left-leaning news media's desperate attempts to suppress it (such as the true nature of ObamaCare, with its huge taxes, massive premium hikes, and rationing councils that amount to death panels), we find out just by talking to our friends. (I call this news distribution system "water-cooler samizdat.")

Americans are always news-hungry; but for the water-cooler samizdat to start spreading the news virally, it must have an input source somewhere.

Our ideological army must publish short, readable articles in surprising venues, from Readers Digest to People to McCall's to Newsweek to Popular Mechanics, even to Playboy... except for the last, all magazines you'd find in a doctor's office or in the lobby of your office building or in the waiting room of your automobile service center.

These articles should:

  • Keep the message simple and clear, using plain words.
  • Include necessary examples but not lard down the piece with too many anecdotes.
  • Be brutally honest -- not minimizing, but not exaggerating, either.
  • Focus on the ideology and how it encourages violence when necessary, but is even more dangerous when it's "mere" propaganda and sabotage.

So much for structure; what about substance? I think this should be the general outline of the articles, though obviously each one should deal with a different aspect or "take" on the central theme:

Radical Islamism has been at war with us not just since 9/11, not even just since 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini seized control in Iran, but at least since 1928, the year that Hassan al-Banna founded the Society of Muslim Brothers (the Muslim Brotherhood). Or perhaps since the mid-eighteenth century, when Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab began preaching what we now call Wahhabism. Or one could even trace the war's beginning all the way back to Mohammed himself at the turn of the 7th century.

The point is that they, the Islamists, have always known they were at war with us, the West; and they have acted accordingly. Contrariwise, we have known, then forgotten, then remembered, then forgotten again, then remembered again, then forgotten again... for literally centuries. 9/11 was an alarm klaxton warning us that we've allowed the enemy to breach the outer defenses. The threat persists; but too many Americans, and especially too many of our national leaders, have long since hit the snooze button, rolled over, and fallen back asleep.

But can anti-Islamists really gain a toehold in national magazines? Not all, but surely some.

A few of the obvious venues will be utterly hostile to "outing" radical Islamism. But credentialed journalists who oppose the Grand Jihad must keep trying; and of course, keep publishing in those magazines that are not actively hostile to Western values or active collaborators with radical Islamism.

(How does an ordinary writer get published in a magazine like the above? It's not easy; I've never been able to crack them. But one tactic is to team up with someone who has "credentials" in the national-security or Islamic studies field, someone who has the knowledge but not the ability to write a strong article. National magazines are much more likely to publish something by, say, a former senator and his co-writer, or a former CIA analyst and his co-writer, than by some no-name writer whose only nonfiction publication is the blog he writes. Of course, if the writer himself has such credentials, that's even better!)

Another good source of education is a guest speaker at a club, service organization, or church gathering. Such venues are often desperate for entertaining and motivational speakers on a wide variety of topics; so why not this one? Those of you who are good at public speaking could work up a nice 45-minute talk: Why the world seems suddenly upside-down -- and how it's been a long time coming.

The presidential "bully pulpit" is another powerful venue. Of course, Obama is highly unlikely to aid or abet this effort... but if this president won't do it, we must demand that the next president becomes the Great Communicator, like Ronald Reagan, about the threat of our time that rivals the threat of Communism that Reagan faced -- and defeated.

But there are plenty of mini-bully pulpits, many Republican and even some anti-jihad Democratic congressmen who can talk about the Islamist Project -- its origins, its agenda, the threat it poses, and what we can do about it -- during town-hall meetings, during interviews, and during their reelection campaigns. It shouldn't be too much of a distraction; national security is always an important "issue" for American voters.

Once Americans have a much better understanding of what we're up against and where to look for radical Islamist subversion of our system of government (for example, demands for "sharia law" in some section of an American city that happens to have a large Moslem population), they can denounce the idea, out the vermin who are pushing it, and largely neutralize the "soft jihad."

There's gotta be a law...!

And for the most part, there is.

It's long past time we start prosecuting (at the least) every member of the government, federal, state, and local, who knowingly leaks classified information, contributes money or effort to terrorist groups, or infiltrates vital agencies or departments with the intent to sabotage them. For too long, our policy has been to fret and dither but never actually file charges.

This stands in marked contrast with how we treat those caught spying, infiltrating, or sabotaging on behalf of foreign governments in past decades, such as the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, or a host of other hostiles. Why should covert agents for enemy ideologies like radical Islamism get a free pass?

We'll win some prosecutions and lose others; but even the losses, if well publicized, will serve to wake up Americans and other Westerners to the danger. And every prosecution will out another batch of deep-cover, enemy organizations and individuals; just as the Holy Land Foundation prosecution outed CAIR, the Council for American Islamic Relations, as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the Grand Jihad.

More particularly, we need to find and expose all the "Major Hasans" who have infiltrated the military, the intelligence services, or the State Department; alas, I suspect there are hundreds of such (wide awake) sleeper agents in our midst.

At the very least, we can start with the loudest, most visible, and most astonishingly overt about their sympathies... as was Nidal Malik Hasan, who is charged with murdering thirteen of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood and attempting to slay 32 others. His radical Islamism and America hatred was an open secret for years, but the Army did nothing substantial about him. And then he had his episode of "sudden" jihad syndrome. But in most cases, such explosions of violence are neither sudden nor surprising; such radicals generally cannot contain themselves for longer than a few minutes without outing themselves... if anyone's listening.

Let the Midnight Special shine a light on them

Similarly, whenever anti-Islamist government officials of any party, or any news organization that actually supports freedom of the press, obtains intelligence of some atrocity or infiltration or subversion in the West, even outside the United States, it should issue a press release or publish a story, respectively. In the first case, politicians should e-mail the press release to every newspaper, local or national news channel, and news radio show in the country. Many small-town newspapers love getting national press releases, because they can quickly write a story from it, getting some nice, international coverage without them having to pay reporters to hang out in Washington D.C. And Even the big metro papers and the network newsies find it hard to ignore forever a story that powerful Washington personalities are pushing hard.

Even if they write a story to try to refute or rebut the claim that Islamists are trying to subvert and destroy Western democracy, that would be better than completely ignoring it... which is what they do now, with nobody pushing back.

As a general rule, the best way to disrupt the infiltration and sabotage phase of the soft jihad is to drag it, writhing and screaming, into the light of day.

Invite the God of the West into the debate

Conservatives who are well educated on the subject of the Islamist Project, and who are members of a congregation, should encourage their pastors to begin giving sermons on the differences between the Judeo-Christian God and what He wants from Mankind -- and the radical Islamist version of Allah, and what he demands from Mankind. I daresay many more Americans get their worldview and moral compass from church or synagogue than from the rive-gauche news media, shocking as that may sound.

Again, it's vital not to exaggerate; we are not fighting a jihad against all of Islam. There are hundreds of millions of Moslems who reject the Islamist Project, who have undergone a quiet Enlightenment on their own, however ahistorical such moderating influences may be within Islam.

Of course, the Mediaeval Christian Church itself was militant, supremacist, totalitarian, and perfectly willing to slaughter those we now see as innocents, but who the Church damned at the time as heretics, infidels, Jews, witches, or sadly, sometimes simply people who owned property that some powerful clergyman coveted. Such hypocritical or intolerant behavior is, in fact, what led to the Judeo-Christian Enlightenment in the first place; and it can lead to the same rejectionism within Islam... though admittedly, Enlightenment thinkers had more to work with in Judeo-Christianity; neither Jesus nor Moses was a bitter, enraged, vengeful old man defined entirely by who and what he hated, rather that what he loved.

Still, the Reformation and the Enlightenment are precedents we should not discard. I don't believe there are many today who defend, say, the harsh sentences (including death by stoning) for seemingly trivial offenses in ancient Judaism; the violent excesses of the crusades; the expulsion of all Jews from Spain in 1492; the continent-wide Inquisition against witches in the fifteenth century; the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572; the brutal suppression of Catholics under Queen Elizabeth in the late sixteenth century, the seventeenth-century witch-mania among Protestant churches in the United States; or even such modern-day acts of extraordinary religious violence as the Mountain Meadows Massacre of more than a hundred peaceful settlers by the Mormons in 1857.

Yet today, neither the Catholic Church, nor the Protestant churches, nor any branch of Judaism, nor the Mormons engage in, condone, or even tolerate such violence and totalitarian control over the individual. They changed; they changed in the wink of an eye; and they changed much for the better.

But no one living in the earlier versions of those societies would have suspected such a change was about happen. It seemed to come out of nowhere; but reformation and englightenment typically do spring "ex-nihilio." There clearly is hope, and we must believe there is hope, that Islam too can shed its own history and become "just another religion."

Such change begins by dissidents drawing contrasts between the paradise the radicals promise -- and the Hell on Earth they actually deliver.

Finally, closer to home, Christian ministries must focus with an even greater intensity on converting black prison inmates to Christianity, to save them from being converted by the Nation of Islam instead. The combination of a violent life history, an unwillingness to live within the law, and a violent, jihadist ideology is the ideal incubator for terrorists, subversives, and saboteurs. Reform would be best; but even if they remain mere criminals, that's far better than becoming self-styled "soldiers of Allah."

"Good enough" is good enough

This list of suggestions is surely not inclusive, but we cannot wait for the perfect plan before we start to implement what we can do today. In fact, if we even followed half or a third of the obvious paths I suggest here, we'd be a heck of a lot better off, better armed, more vigilant, and we would make much harder targets than we do right now.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 28, 2010, at the time of 4:26 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 26, 2010

Brilliance at Midnight

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , Terrorism Intelligence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The take-away from the massive dumping of leaked U.S. military documents on WikiLeaks, documents related to the conduct and progress of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is this: The putative "rift" between Islamist terrorists on the one hand, and radical Islamists who "reject terrorism" (at specific times and places) on the other hand, has nothing to do with any ultimate goal of Islamism.

The rift reflects only a difference of opinion about the precise strategies and tactics for achieving that goal. Islamist victory conditions are the same in both groups: a pure, radical Islamism dominant across the globe, with sharia the final law in every country.

This is, of course, the central thesis of Andrew McCarthy's seminal work, the Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America. But we see it played out in the carefully parsed response of the administration of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to the documentation, throughout the leaked papers, of cooperation between Pakistan officials and the Taliban... at the very time the former are supposed to be allied with the United States and NATO at war with the latter.

Note how carefully spokesmen dance around the actual accusation:

A senior ISI official, speaking on condition of anonymity under standard practice, sharply condemned the reports as “part of the malicious campaign to malign the spy organization” and said the ISI would “continue to eradicate the menace of terrorism with or without the help of the West.”

The unnamed official pointedly restricted the term "menace" to terrorism; but the danger is not terrorism but Islamism. The accusation against the ISI, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence in Pakistan, is not that they, themselves engage in "martyrdom operations" in Pakistan or Afghanistan; of course they don't (in general). Rather, the data-dump documents that the ISI especially, but other Pakistan government bodies as well, leak military intelligence like a sieve. Some of the leaks are simple incompetence; but others are due to corruption (bribery) or a radical ideology that deliberately aids and abets Islamist groups... including those who prematurely engage in terrorism at this time, before Pakistan has been sufficiently "Islamicized" to embrace the ideology of the Taliban.

And again:

Farhatullah Babar, the spokesman for President Asif Ali Zardari, dismissed the reports and said that Pakistan remained “a part of a strategic alliance of the United States in the fight against terrorism....”

Mr. Babar questioned how Pakistan could possibly have the kind of connections to the Taliban that some of the reports suggest, asking if “those who are alleging that Pakistan is playing a double game are also asserting that President Zardari is presiding over an apparatus that is coordinating attacks on the general headquarters, mosques, shrines, schools and killing Pakistani citizens?”

Yes, I think we all agree that the current quasi-democratic, partially authoritarian regime in Pakistan believes it should remain in charge; consequently, it opposes terrorist attacks on "mosques, shrines, schools," and especially upon "the general headquarters" of Pakistan's military. But that isn't the question, is it?

Are elements of the ISI collaborating with the Taliban to bring about an Islamist revolution in Pakistan? That is the real question, and it remains unanswered by the Zardari administration.

Such a revolution needn't include terrorism; for example, if Zardari himself fully embraced Islamism and enacted sharia law, overturning what democracy Pakistan still possesses and joining "the Project" -- but if he declared himself the supreme Taliban leader in Pakistan -- that would still constitute an "Islamist revolution," without firing a shot. And it would be just as catastrophic for America and the rest of the West as a bloody insurrection or coup d'état.

Terrorism is not the enemy; it is a tactic of the enemy, one bolt in an entire quiver of bolts. A "global war against terrorism" has no meaning; but surely we can understand and support a war against radical Islamism. (To highlight this point, I am changing the category formerly known as "the War Against the Iran/al-Qaeda Axis" -- too limiting! -- to "the War Against Radical Islamism.")

This specifically includes not only those who want to advance Islamist ideas by terrorism but also those, like the Muslim Brotherhood, who share that goal but believe, at this time in history, that the Islamist Project is best advanced by propaganda, sabotage, bribery, "democratically" electing a totalitarian government (which then "pulls the ladder up" behind it)... and only sometimes by terrorism and bloody revolution.

Thus the surety we need is that Pakistan rejects the Islamist Project, and all it comprises:

  • Dominance -- Islam is dominant over all the world; infidels worldwide must pay the special tax and be treated as inferior beings.
  • Purity -- Islam is the Islam of Mohammed and his original followers; no reformation, no enlightenment, containing no Western ideas of individual liberty, democracy, or separation of religion and State.
  • Completeness -- Sharia is the entire law in every country and Islam the entire morality.
  • Hegemony -- the "true" Caliphate is restored to its rightful place as supreme ruler of the world.

If highly placed individuals within Pakistan (or Afghanistan) still support any element of the Project, then those individuals are our enemies, regardless of whether they believe terrorism is the best route to advance the Project at this time, in that particular place; and they should be treated as enemies by anyone who purports to reject radical Islamism.

The clever way found by representatives of Pakistan to ignore the implication that high-ranking government and intelligence officials either support the ideology of radical Islamism, or are at least willing to ally with them (for money, for power), and tendentiously redefine the question to focus only on the straw man of direct ISI involvement in terrorist attacks upon themselves, should make us very nervous indeed.

Why can't Pakistani officials, or President Zardari himself, just come right out and denounce the ideology of the Taliban? While it's important what tactics they use to advance that ideology, the most important factor is radical Islamism itself.

But don't look for the current American administration of Barack H. Obama to demand an answer; it has already ruled out ideology as a motivator of "Man-caused disaster" in the first place (an act of "Willful Blindness"). We cannot possibly win the war until and unless we are willing to confront the real enemy -- radical Islamists -- and win the war of ideas.

There are many ways to win a war of ideas or ideologies; but our core strategy is the same as that of the Islamists: conversion. We must convert the unaligned and even the enemy -- either to another religion entirely (Christianity, perhaps), or at least to a non-radicalized version of Islam.

One path to conversion is to prove that our Western "culture of life" leads to a better life than the Islamists' cult of death. Another is to show that the West is the "strong horse;" this plays directly into the Arab cultural tendency to gravitate to the winning side in any conflict. But in order to convert, we need a Borg-like ideology that is powerful and seductive, against which "resistance is futile."

Fortunately, we have a couple ready to hand: Evangelical Christianity is winning that war in Africa, for example, as Animists and even Moslems on that continent are converting in mass numbers to an African Christianity that is both Western in outlook and native in local implementation.

Too, our own American ideology of individual liberty, Capitalism, rule of law, separation of religion and State (while maintaining the connection between religion and culture), and democratic governance by the consent of the governed is itself powerful and awesome, leading to a staggering improvement in human life and meaning, and to a strength that has made the still-young America the most powerful nation on Earth. (Even after eighteen months of Obamunism!)

But you can't surrender your way to victory; we must engage on the most important front -- the ideological one.

That's how our Founders won the Revolutionary War, how the North won the Civil War, and how the Democratic West won World War II and the Cold War... they fought and won the war of ideas. Yet by allowing the multi-culti "elite" to jettison the entire intellectual arsenal of liberty, we have disarmed ourselves in what could be an existential armageddon.

So to hell with taking back "the night;" it's long past time for real America to recapture the light of the Western day.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 26, 2010, at the time of 6:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 7, 2010

The Flying Fickle Finger of Guilt

Pakistan Perplexities , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , Terrorist Attacks , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

I'm a little tired of seeing everything and everybody blamed for the failed intelligence, failed security, and failed prevention of the ultimately failed bombing that Faisal Shahzad failed to perpetrate... that is, blaming everybody except Barack H. Obama, of course. I come not to praise Obama, but to accuse him.

Here are a few facts:

According to a CBS story published Tuesday, May 4th at 2:41 PM, Shahzad was arrested "late Monday night." That would have to be Monday, May 3rd. The story includes the following sentence: "Shahzad... was later read his Miranda rights and continued to cooperate with authorities after that, [Deputy Director of the FBI John S.] Pistole said."

If Shahzad was arrested "late Monday night" and Mirandized prior to Tuesday afternoon, when the story was posted, that means the Feds questioned him less than one day before telling him he had the right to clam up and lawyer-up. This is insane, but hardly unprecedented; they did pretty much the same with the Undiebomber.

(It's irrelevant that Shahzad chose to keep on yapping; just as our counterterrorism strategy cannot be "hope the bombs fail to explode," our terrorist interrogation strategy cannot be "hope the detainees waive their Miranda rights.")

The supposed reason he was Mirandized so quickly was to make it easier for prosecutors to try the case. But that's hardly the most burning issue, is it? It's much more important to determine whether he acted alone, whether he had accomplices who might carry out further bombings -- successfully, this time -- and whether he was part of a large plot directed from Pakistan, by the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or some other international terrorist organization. Prosecution is far down the list of critical tasks, particularly if we can hold him in custody until we finish interrogating him, using enhanced techniques as necessary and legal.

In the case of a terrorist attack, safeguarding the country takes precedence over a criminal prosecution. The inverted priorities are stupid and incompetent.

In a segment on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, I heard some administration spokesman say that they couldn't hold Shahzad as an unlawful enemy combatant because "he is an American citizen.... We can't just hold an American citizen without charges indefinitely." But is he really an American citizen? Let's examine that a bit more thoroughly.

First of all, it was the Obama administration itself that made him a naturalized American citizen on April 17th, 2009. The president and his federal government clearly dropped the ball by not investigating Shahzad more thoroughly -- just as they did in the months leading up to the Fort Hood massacre last November.

But unlike natural-born citizenship, naturalization is not irrevocable.

In order for Shahzad to become naturalized, he must have filled out form N-400 Application for Naturalization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Reading that form, I notice the following on page 7:

B. Affiliations.

9. Have you ever been a member of or in any way associated (either directly or indirectly) with:

...

c. A terrorist organization?

10. Have you ever advocated (either directly or indirectly) the overthrow of any government by force or violence?

And on page 8:

D. Good Moral Character

15. Have you ever committed a crime or offense for which you were not arrested?

...

24. Have you ever lied to any U.S. government official to gain entry or admission into the United States?

Shahzad was naturalized in April of 2009; less than two months later, he flew to Peshawar, Pakistan, where he claimed to have undertaken explosives training.

Considering that he had flown to Pakistan many times in the last eleven years, it is a reasonable inference that he did not suddenly develop an interest in -- and contacts with -- terrorist training camps in Pakistan. The most reasonable interpretation of the facts suggests that Shahzad was already in contact with the Taliban and/or al-Qaeda and/or Lashkar-e-Taiba before last April.

If so, then Faisal Shahzad lied on his Application for Naturalization. Lying about a material fact in order to obtain citizenship makes the application fraudulent, which is grounds for administrative denaturalization.

In other words, the Obama administration had an excellent case for stripping Shahzad of his U.S. citizenship... after which he could be held as an unlawful enemy combatant and even transferred to the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. So much for the risible claim that his "American citizenship" required the FBI to Mirandize him less than 24 hours after being captured.

Don't let's get buffaloed again: There was no reason at all to Mirandize Faisal Shahzad -- not within 24 hours, nor afterwards. Rather, President Obama should have directed the Justice Department to call an immediate immigration hearing to strip him of the shield of American citizenship precisely so that he could be held as an unlawful enemy combatant and interrogated for as long as it takes to extract all possible intelligence from him.

Anything less constitutes a dereliction of duty on the part of our (ugh) Commander in Chief. Ask not at whom the flying, fickle finger of guilt points; it points directly at B.O.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 7, 2010, at the time of 3:33 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 22, 2010

The Coming Conflagration: the Inevitable Ground War Against Iran

Hezbollah Horrors , Missile Muscle , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The mullocracy of Iran has made brutally clear that they will not be satisfied with anything less than a full-scale, intercontinental war against the West, which means (certainly to them) against the United States of America. And in the process of sending this message, they have humiliated and cuckolded our weak and frankly delusional president, Barack H. Obama: His policy of "engagement" -- which appears to comprise begging and pleading with Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to be his Facebook friend -- lies in ruins; in the process, he has made America the laughingstock of the ummah.

Yes, for all his faults, I certainly miss the muscular foreign policy of George W. Bush.

This is what I'm talking about:

Iran is increasing its paramilitary Qods force operatives in Venezuela while covertly continuing supplies of weapons and explosives to Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the Pentagon's first report to Congress on Tehran's military.

The report on Iranian military power provides new details on the group known formally as the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the Islamist shock troops deployed around the world to advance Iranian interests. The unit is aligned with terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, North Africa and Latin America, and the report warns that U.S. forces are likely to battle the Iranian paramilitaries in the future.

The Qods force "maintains operational capabilities around the world," the report says, adding that "it is well established in the Middle East and North Africa and recent years have witnessed an increased presence in Latin America, particularly Venezuela."

So in response to all of the Obamacle's "diplomacy" towards Iran; in response to all the apologies he has made them about America the bully, the unilateral concessions to Russia on sanctions, the heavy-handed pressure on Israel to capitulate to the Palestinians; in response to every Eid and Ramadan greeting Obama has extended to "the Iranian people;" and in particular, in response to the clear policy statement that we will not attack Iran for any reason, and that we shall sit idly by and let them get their nukes... Iran's response to this appeasement is to send even more special forces to our own backyard.

Thank you, Mr. Hope N. Change.

The benefit to Venezuela President-for-Life Oogo Chavez of an infusion of highly trained, brutal, and very combat experienced "shock troops" is obvious: Chavez rules by terror, but the Venezuelan military is frankly pathetic. In particular, Venezuela's next-door neighbor, America-friendly Colombia, has a significantly better trained and better funded military -- according to the CIA World Factbook, Colombia spends about $13.6 billion annually on its military, three times the $4.2 billion spent by Venezuela; and while Colombia President Álvaro Uribe Vélez has his own internal problems fighting the Marxist insurgency -- Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) -- I suspect that Oogo Chavez must deploy a lot more of his military just to maintain his barbarous rule.

Chavez needs military aid, which the Iranian pact supplies him; but what does Ahmadinejad get? Venezuela is not a Moslem country, nor will it ever be. It's nowhere near Iran, and there is no ideological connection between them, other than hatred of America. And while Venezuela has a lot of oil, so does Iran and hardly needs any crude from Oogo.

That one shared trait then must logically be the answer: The only reason for Iran to send Qods-Force troops to Venezuela is to threaten or attack the United States:

The report gives no details on the activities of the Iranians in Venezuela and Latin America. Iranian-backed terrorists have conducted few attacks in the region. However, U.S. intelligence officials say Qods operatives are developing networks of terrorists in the region who could be called to attack the United States in the event of a conflict over Iran's nuclear program.

Qods force support for extremists includes providing arms, funding and paramilitary training and is not constrained by Islamist ideology. "Many of the groups it supports do not share, and sometimes openly oppose, Iranian revolutionary principles, but Iran supports them because they share common interests or enemies," the report says.

George W. Bush, I believe, once said (if I may paraphrase) that the difference between the Vietnam war and the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis is that unlike in Vietnam, if we retreat from the jihadis, they will follow us home and continue the war on American soil. In 2001, al-Qaeda proved it.

It's pretty clear this is exactly the situation we see in Latin America: Under President B.O., we have (in Iran's view) fled the battleground. As Lee Smith discusses extensively in his book on Arab culture, the Strong Horse, the reaction this provokes in the Moslem world is not one of sympathy for the vanquished but rather the bloodthirsty desire to follow and utterly destroy the beaten foe. "Mercy" only has meaning within the ummah as a (possible) response to "submission."

Even though Persian Iran is not Arab, its Moslem culture and history of empire cause it to react just the same: Ahmadinejad unquestionably believes that Iran is the "strong horse," America the weak horse. In his world, once the Iranian people realize how the power has changed with the passing of the Bush administration, they will quickly regroup behind the new strong horse. Thus, when we retreat and submit to Iranian demands and insults, not only does Obama encourage Iran to project yet greater force into the Western hemisphere, buddying up to our greatest enemy in Latin America; but the One We Have Been Regretting Already also manages to strengthen the hand of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad within Iran itself. Obama executes a perfect double-play -- against America.

The latest aggression in Venezuela hardly occurs in a vacuum. Iran has repeatedly attacked American forces, both indirectly and directly, for decades, going all the way back to the hostage crisis of 1979. Attacks continue to the present day:

  • In response to military intelligence that Iranian troops had infiltrated southern Iraq, President Bush responded forcefully; from 2006 to 2008, we captured a number of Qods Force officers and other personnel.

    In July of last year, President Obama ordered five of the most senior Qods Force detainees released from custody and handed over to the Iraqis to be returned to Iran. The president never really explained what he hoped to accomplish by such blatant appeasement. It was not reciprocated by the mullahs.

  • We fought a long and ultimately successful campaign against Iran's biggest puppet within Iraq, Muqtada Sadr, driving him to exile in Iran; there he remains, so far as I know -- hunkered down in the holy city of Qom (217th holiest city in all of Islam!)
  • Iran also gave powerful explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) to Shiite insurgents in Iraq, along with Qods Force trainers and commando leaders; EFPs are powerful enough even to rip apart our Abrams main battle tanks.
  • Iran has also been supplying Afghan insurgents with high-powered and technologically sophisticated weaponry with which to fight not only the democratic Afghan government (democratic by the standards of the "non-integrating gap") but also the American military forces prosecuting the Afghanistan counterinsurgency (COIN) under the command of Gen. Stanley McChrystal:

    Qods forces in Afghanistan are working through nongovernmental organizations and political opposition groups, the report says. Tehran also is backing insurgent leaders Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Ismail Khan.

    "Arms caches have been recently uncovered [in Afghanistan] with large amounts of Iranian-manufactured weapons, to include 107 millimeter rockets, which we assess IRGC-QF delivered to Afghan militants," the report says, noting that recent manufacture dates on the weapons suggest the support is "ongoing."

    "Tehran's support to the Taliban is inconsistent with their historic enmity, but fits with Iran's strategy of backing many groups to ensure that it will have a positive relationship with the eventual leaders," the report says.

  • Most recently, Iran transferred Scud missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon; that branch of Hezbollah is nominally controlled by Syria, operating under the direction of Iran. The Scuds have a range of 435 miles and are quite accurate, in contrast to the rockets Hezbollah has been shooting at Israeli cities recently, which have a maximum range of 60 miles (and very little accuracy at even half that distance). This brings nearly all of Israel within Hezbollah's range, including Tel Aviv, Israel's second-largest city with a population of nearly 400,000... and the natural target, as the capital and most populous city, Jerusalem, is also holy to Moslems (the 355th holiest city in all of Islam!)

    It was this same Lebanese branch of Hezbollah that directly slaughtered 241 American Marines, sailors, and soldiers (along with 58 French paratroopers) in the Beirut barracks bombing of 1983. Qods Forces also likely had a hand in the terrorist attack on Americans at the Khobar Towers in 1996, killing 19 American servicemen.

Bluntly put, Iran is already at war with America, Israel, and the West, and has been since 1979. In response to Obama's policy of Neville-Chamberlain like capitulation, it has only gotten more aggressive, belligerent, and intractable. And just like the last evil empire we defeated, Iran has boldly moved its military forces into our hemisphere to threaten or even outright attack the United States homeland, secure in the knowledge that even if they did, the only response likely from the Obama administration would be a public tongue-lashing -- followed by a furious fusillade of indictments.

Only two possible endings exist to this buildup of Qods Force in Venezuela and around the world: Either we ultimately go to all-out war against Iran and defeat it, overthrow Ahmadinejad, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and the mullahs, and and "drain the swamp" by democratizing Persia (same caveat about "democracy")... or else Iran goes to all-out war first and defeats us. If we respond by retreating in panic and confusion, then we cede the entire Middle East to what will become an Iranian Caliphate... a crescent stretching from the pyramids of Egypt to the minarets of Istanbul, across the Hindu Kush to Islamabad, encompassing the aptly named Persian Gulf, and with colonies and outposts speckled across Africa, India, and Latin America.

I know which option our current Capitulator in Chief will choose; through Secretary of Defense (and neutered Republican) Robert Gates, Obama has already signalled his intentions: He intends to do nothing:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recently played down the growing Iranian influence in the Chavez government. Asked about Iran's ties to Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, Mr. Gates said, "I think it makes for interesting public relations on the part of the Iranians, the Venezuelans."

"I certainly don't see Venezuela at this point as a military challenge or threat," Mr. Gates said during a visit to the region.

Well, neither do the rest of us, Mr. G.! Neither is Syria, to pick another small ally of the enemy.

Iran itself, however, is a different question, one that Gates should not have begged with a snark: Iran has "the largest missile force in the Middle East" (the Moslem Middle East, one presumes the Washington Times means) and borders the Persian Gulf and the Straight of Hormuz, through which much of the world's oil passes -- including most of the Middle-East oil we buy to fill the gap left by our truculent refusal to responsibly develop our own oil, natural gas, and coal fields. Iran has already overtly threatened, if attacked, to sink a tanker or two in the Straight to shut down all the Western economies, possibly for years. (I wonder: If Iran carried out its horrific threat, then could we drill in ANWR and the Gulf of Mexico?)

Oh yes, and I almost forgot; there's also that pesky "nuclear warhead atop a Shahab-3 missile" problem. That might complicate a war with Iran two or three years from now.

Fortunately, I don't think Iran will be ready to launch such a cataclysmic attack before 2013, so we still have a chance to make the only sane decision and launch a pre-emptive war. (By "pre-emptive," I mean like our other putatively pre-emptive war in Iraq, in which we finally responded to the latest casus belli after twenty years of provocation.)

The Herman Option is more difficult now; evidently, somebody on the Guardian Council staff reads Big Lizards, and Iran has been building more gasoline refineries and trying to strengthen its existing facilities against attack. But the option is still available -- at a somewhat greater human cost than if George W. Bush had acted before leaving office, as he promised he would. I suggest that now is the time to take it; that door may no longer be open for the next president.

Instead, Obama's legacy will be to force us to use a much longer, more expensive, and tremendously bloodier invasion of Persia proper, fighting against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the IRG Qods Force, and Hezbollah in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. Call that the "no-option Obama mandate."

That is, if we have any money left after four years of Obamunism.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 22, 2010, at the time of 3:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 25, 2010

Why the Rush to Blame Mossad - Other Than Anti-Israel Paranoia?

Iran Matters , Israel Matters , Terrorist Attacks , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The world still roils over the assassination of Hamas senior commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai; perhaps a better word would be "hyperventilates":

Last week, Israel's ambassador to Britain was called in for an official reprimand by the Foreign Office. In Dubai, Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the chief of police for the emirate, has said he is "99 percent" sure that operatives of the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, killed Mr. al-Mabhouh.

But I still haven't seen a single shred of evidence that Mossad, Israel's premier agency for intelligence, covert ops, and counter-terrorism, was behind the bizarre scheme... and several tantalizing bits indicating that they weren't:

  • In general, the hit job was too elaborate, too complex, too Byzantine. Gas? Guns? Electrocutions? This is silly.
  • The 26-member hit squad was far too large for the job; that scrum was almost guaranteed to be found out!
  • The killers were clumsy enough to be caught on surveillance video, which seems very unlike the highly professional Mossad.
  • They stole the identities of real Israeli citizens. Far from pointing the finger at Mossad, I believe this curious fact points firmly away from that agency; why would they intentionally implicate their own citizens?
  • And a new piece of intel I'd not seen until today: According to Dubai intelligence, one of the best in the Middle East, two of the assassins chose a peculiar refuge to flee after the hit:

    Nonetheless, some details have emerged that do not track with traditional Israeli intelligence tradecraft. The Dubai authorities this week said two of the operatives fled to Iran.

Let's do a little detecting. We need a suspect group that (a) kills Hamas members; (b) doesn't mind implicating Israel; and (c) has some sort of affinity with Iran. Hm... that's a toughie; unless, just possibly, the hit was actually carried out by Hezbollah.

  1. Hezbollah is fighting Hamas for control of Gaza and the West Bank; they have ample reason to want to assassinate al-Mabhouh.
  2. Hezbollah takes its cue from Iran, and no country on Earth hates Israel more than Iran. Killing al-Mabhouh -- and ensuring that Israel would get the blame in the international community, which is always eager to blame the Jews for everything bad in the world, anyway -- would send a tingle down Hassan Nasrallah's leg.
  3. Hezbollah is Iran's private terrorist group, which they send out to other countries and regions, notably Syria and the Palestinian Authority, to enforce Iran's will. It makes perfect sense for Hezbollah assassins to flee to Iran for sanctuary.

To my thoughts, all signs point to Hezbollah, not Mossad, as the author of this plot. It seems that even the Devil can do a good deed now and again, albeit for his own nefarious reasons.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 25, 2010, at the time of 2:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 20, 2010

The Exception That Tests the Rule

Europa Political Grand Opera , Immigration Immolations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

For anyone who still denies either the rightness or existence of "American exceptionalism," consider this appalling story:

Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders sat in the defendant's dock Wednesday, nodding his head as prosecutors read aloud a hundred remarks he has made condemning Islam, Muslims and immigrants -- notably one comparing the Quran to Hitler's "Mein Kampf."

Wilders' criminal trial for allegedly inciting hate against Muslims has resonance across Europe: He is one of a dozen right-wing politicians on the continent who are testing the limits of freedom of speech while voicing voters' concerns at the growth of Islam.

For the tendentious phrasing, "the growth of Islam," read the more accurate "the growth of Islamism." If Moslems were coming to the Netherlands and assimilating, as they do for the most part in the United States, I honestly doubt Geert Wilders would have such a problem with them. But because of the liberal socialism of Western Europe, a member of the Dutch parliament is now on trial for properly representing his own constituents.

Here is the philosophical sequence:

  • Liberal socialism ("Stalinism lite") has infected Western Europe for many decades. (One could make a good argument that Otto Eduard Leopold prince von Bismarck, the "Iron Chancellor" of Prussia, invented it in the latter half of the nineteenth century.) Note, this is not liberal fascism; it's the internationalist version. Hence the European Union, the first step on the liberal-socialist (lib-soc) road to global government.
  • A primary element of liberal socialism is atheism; lib-soc governments persecute Judeo-Christian religions and to a lesser extent frown upon all other religions: Their religion is "secular humanism" -- that is, the First Church of Fundamentalist Materialism, as Robert Anton Wilson used to put it.
  • A secondary effect of official and widespread Fundamentalist Materialism is a dramatic and frightening drop in the regional fertility rate. We can explore the "whys" in more depth another time if folks find the connection puzzling; suffice to say that Western Europe is not replacing its population, hence must import truly staggering levels of immigrant labor.
  • Since Europe must draw from those cultures that have a high fertility rate for their foreign labor pool, they tend to draw disproportionately from Moslem populations in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Turkey, and Morocco. For example, in the Netherlands, six percent of the labor pool are Moslems from the latter two countries. (If the same ratio applied in the United States, we would have 9.25 million Moslem immigrants in the civilian labor pool, or about eight to ten times the level we actually have.)
  • Another primary element of lib-soc is authoritarianism; socialist states are authoritatian by definition.
  • One secondary effect of authoritarianism is that the government not only does not encourage immigrants to assimilate, it typically doesn't allow them to. Instead, immigrants are shunted into enclaves and ghettos and generally treated as "the help," rather than as full citizens... even those who were actually born in the "host" country. Generation after generation can be born in some European countries, but none is considered a full citizen.
  • Such "apartness" leads inevitably to a great many immigrants seeing themselves as transients and foreigners in the land of their birth; they often turn against the "host" with a vengeance, rioting and looting, sealing off areas and declaring them "liberated" from the host and instead under the laws -- or the imagined laws -- of the rioters' ancestral countries. For the most obvious example, Moslem "immigrants" may seal off the Moslem enclaves and declare them under sharia law, instead of French, Dutch, or Spanish law. (The same dynamic of separation from the rest of society leads to criminal behavior among native-born full citizens.)
  • Yet another aspect of authoritarianism is that, for all their high-minded hectoring of the rest of the world, socialist countries do not actually protect freedom of speech. (This claim should not even be controversial.)
  • Ergo, put everything together, and we have the situation in the Netherlands, which applies in a great many other European countries as well: The country has a real, serious, and growing problem with estranged and disaffected Moslem youths; but hate-speech codes make it a criminal offense to discus the disastrous failure of the government's social policy, even by members of parliament.

It's a prescription for catastophe. It could never happen in Ronald Reagan's or George W. Bush's America because of individualism, assimilation, and community; I fear it may be all too plausible in Barack H. Obama's America.

The solution to this terrible dilemma is quite beyond the capacity of any socialist country; but it's the essence, the very core, of American exceptionalism (or simple Americanism):

  • Allow immigrants to assimilate;
  • Encourage, urge, and demand that they assimilate;
  • Require that they be assimilable before letting them immigrate in the first place;
  • And treat them exactly like every other American citizen when they do assimilate and naturalize themselves.

This is the ideal, however imperfectly it can be applied in the real world. Alas that we have an immigration system biased against assimilation; and we have two prevailing ideologies, neither of which is geared towards assimilation for different reasons: The Left doesn't want aliens to assimilate because lib-socs tend to dislike America and all it stands for; while the Right doesn't want aliens to come here at all, by and large, because they understand assimilation is a two-way street.

Like the Borg, when we assimilate an immigrant, we add his cultural "memes" to American culture. That's one reason we're such a powerful and irresistable force for social change throughout the world... and it's a positive characteristic, not a necessary evil.

But I think I fight a lonely war on this issue.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 20, 2010, at the time of 9:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Life Goes On: Adios, Erroll Southers

Confirmation Incongruities , Unionista Ululations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The week in politics just keeps getting better and better.

In a brief and happy follow-up to an earlier post on Big Lizards, Terror Strike Out, we are pleased to report that Barack H. Obama's nominee to head up the Transportation Security Agency, Erroll Southers, has withdrawn. Or Obama withdrew him. Or he was informed that he would never be confirmed, so beat it.

Or else, maybe another big revelation was about to drop, and he high-tailed it -- Bog only knows:

President Barack Obama's choice to lead the Transportation Security Administration withdrew his name Wednesday, a setback for an administration still trying to explain how a man could attempt to blow up a commercial airliner on Christmas Day.

The Obamacle nominated Southers in September, but Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC, 100%) put a hold on the nomination. To quote ourselves (one of our favorite pastimes)...

DeMint's hold... is due to Southers' refusal so far to answer one simple question:

DeMint won't withdraw his hold until Southers answers a simple question -- does he think TSA employees should be allowed to collectively bargain with the government on workplace rules and procedures? To date, Southers has declined to give a definitive response to DeMint's question, even though it's importance was highlighted by the attempted Christmas Day massacre of nearly 300 people aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The 23-year-old Nigerian Muslim terrorist boarded the Detroit-bound flight despite having explosives sewn into his knickers.

In addition, Paul Mirengoff at Power Line noted that Southers repeatedly lied to the Senate during his, Southers', confirmation hearings. (Actually, I don't think Paul has ever undergone Senate confirmation hearings, so you probably weren't confused. Never mind.)

During testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, two senators, Joe Lieberman (I-CT, 85% Dem) and Susan Collins (R-ME, 20%) -- the chair and ranking member of that committee -- questioned Southers about his abuse of authority when he was in the FBI. In response, he lied at least twice. He "corrected" his testimony only when he was caught.

Southers later admitted that he used his FBI powers to run a database search on his "then-estranged wife's boyfriend," and that the FBI censured him when they found out; that was lie number one. The second was that in his corrected testimony, he said that he had gotten the local police to do the search; in fact, he subsequently admitted he had run it personally, himself. Each correction was issued only after the lie was discovered.

The "coups d'étatist" just keep coming, don't they?

Southers continues to whine about his ill treatment, rather than simply man-up and answer the questions:

Erroll Southers said he was pulling out because his nomination had become a lightning rod for those with a political agenda. Obama had tapped Southers, a top official with the Los Angeles Airport Police Department, to lead the TSA in September but his confirmation has been blocked by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who says he was worried that Southers would allow TSA employees to have collective bargaining rights.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Southers said the confirmation process made him question his willingness to participate in public service.

"I am not a politician. I'm a counterrrorism expert," Southers said Wednesday. "They took an apolitical person and politicized my career."

His response makes me doubly glad that DeMint stood firm on the unionization question, and that Lieberman and Collins stood firm on the abuse issue. Curiously, it looked like Obama and Southers had already won just before they pulled the plug (kind of like the voter intimidation case against the Black Panthers). From the Washington Post piece liked atop:

The withdrawal of Southers' nomination was another setback for the TSA at a time when the government is still trying to answer questions from Congress about how a man was able to carry out a bombing attempt on Christmas Day on a Northwest Airlines flight found from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Democrats had lined up behind Southers' nomination after the December incident, with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., saying he would call for a full Senate vote on his confirmation this year.

This is why I wonder whether another shoe was about to drop: Ordinarily, a president doesn't pull a nominee when the Majority Leader of the Senate has practically guaranteed a vote. Perhaps Southers, like ObamaCare, fell "victim" to the election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts... which means that Obama must have been pretty sure that Republicans would vote en masse against the Southers nomination.

Frankly, I would find that unlikely... unless the president (or his nominee) knows something I don't know, a possibility that now becomes a probability.

I admit that on paper, he looked like a good candidate to head the TSA; but that's why you don't hire an applicant until you've had a chance to interview him in person. In this case, it was the tête-à-tête in the Senate that brought out both these problems, either of which alone should have been a deal-killer:

  • That Southers clearly had every intent of giving "collective bargaining" rights to TSA employees, so they could threaten national security by going on strike whenever their union demands it (so much for being "an apolitical person");
  • And that he had already abused his authority at one law-enforcement agency, then lied to the Senate about it at least twice -- a point he failed to bring up in his whiny withdrawal announcement.

In any event, another Obamic nominee bites the dust. So it goes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 20, 2010, at the time of 4:54 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 5, 2010

Yemeni Crickets!

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Several interlinked stories highlight the real danger to the country from having a president who is, let us say, reluctant to play his Commander in Chief rôle:

  • Yemen assures us that it has al-Qaeda completely under control (and they resent us pushing them around):

    Yemen showed signs of friction Tuesday with the United States over the fight against al-Qaida, insisting it has the terror group under control, as the U.S. Embassy in San'a ended a two-day closure.
  • Meanwhile, John McCain -- who, with Joe Lieberman, visited Yemen, that garden-spot of the Middle East, in August -- warns of a mounting al-Qaeda presence. (I wonder who we should believe, McCain and Lieberman -- or the Yemeni government?)

    "We cannot allow Yemen to be a base for Al-Qaeda to mount attacks on other countries in the region as well as the United States," said McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008....

    Lieberman said an American who was working in Yemen had warned him during the August visit that "Iraq was yesterday's war, Afghanistan is today's war and if do not act pre-emptively now, Yemen will be tomorrow's war."

  • Finally, in response to the Yemen problem, Barack H. Obama has decided to forego the planned release of Gitmoids to Yemen... at least until the furor dies down:

    The U.S. will not transfer any detainees from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Yemen right now, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

    Ninety detainees in Gitmo are from Yemen, which is combating a resurgent Al Qaeda. A delayed return could mean they will end up in a federal prison in Thomson, Illinois, Gibbs said...

    "While we remain committed to closing the detention facility, the determination has been made that right now any additional transfers to Yemen is not a good idea." [As you can see, with this crowd in la Casa Blanca, there's ever a "Duh" moment! -- DaH]

Recent terrorist events corroborate the McCain-Lieberman warning: We all know by now that failed boxer-bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab trained in Yemen, and that is likely where he got his underwear bomb; and last August, a member of the same al-Qaeda branch in Yemen tried to assassinate Muhammad bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia's chief counterterrorism official, using the same underwear-bomb technique as did Abdulmutallab (and Nayef informed us all about that attack last year). Finally, just a few days ago, the U.S. and U.K. embassies in Yemen were shut down due to credible bombing threats from the same jolly band of terrorists.

Al-Qaeda has strong roots in Yemen, of course; that's whence the bin Laden family originally came, and it's possible that Osama bin Laden himself is technically a Yemeni citizen, not Saudi Arabian (I'm not sure of the law in the two countries). The Moslems in Yemen are a split between Sunni (a big chunk of them Wahhabi) and Shia (including a great many "Twelvers"); and control by the radicals definitely appears to be growing, to the point of having the government in a stranglehold -- or at least a half-nelson.

Note that this is not an example of al-Qaeda being driven out of one place, like Afghanistan, and fleeing over the mountains and across the border into Pakistan. From Waziristan and Balochistan, where we believe al-Qaeda to be headquartered today, Yemen is more than two thousand miles away: The Yemeni al-Qaeda aren't refugees... they're an expanding base of operations.

This is what happens when a president doesn't pro-actively fight against the Iran/al-Qaeda Axis and take the fight to the enemy: During the years when we were going after AQ in Iraq and Afghanistan and all around the world, they were too busy defending (and losing) their home turf to branch out into other countries. They were on the run, especially after we defeated them in their self-styled center of gravity, Iraq.

But Barack H. Obama has made it quite clear that he doesn't consider attacks on the United States and on our allies by Iran, and by Iranian-backed terrorist groups, to constitute a "war." The One al-Qaeda Has Been Waiting For considers such mass murders merely "criminal activities," akin to drug running or auto theft. He sends a dozen signals every month that he has no intention of making war on the evil-doers, but is content to sit back and play defense. And now they're moving right back into the Middle East, into Yemen, which sits at the southern border of Saudi Arabia -- where there is already war, terrorism, and chaos enough to feed a dozen al-Qaedas.

We cannot play defense against the Axis: If we don't take the war to them, they'll follow us home and take it to us.

Al-Qaeda will send as many Einsatzgruppen as necessary, so that at least one will get through; then we'll have another London Tube-bombing sized "man-caused disaster," or even, God forbid, a second September 11th-level catastrophe . But that's what happens when we play defense: We must get it right every time, for all time; they only have to get it right once.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 5, 2010, at the time of 7:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 18, 2009

Oil Follies - and a Gentle Suggestion

Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Today, Iran sent troops into Iraqi territory and seized one of Iraq's oil wells.

This is nothing new; it evidently happens several times every year:

The field is about 500 metres (yards) from an Iranian border fort and about 1 kilometre from an Iraqi border fort, US Colonel Peter Newell said, adding that it falls on the Iraqi side of a border agreed between the two countries.

There are five other similar fields that also fall into disputed territory, he said. [The territory is only "disputed" because Iran covets it. -- DaH]

"What happens is, periodically, about every three or four months, the oil ministry guys from Iraq will go ... to fix something or do some maintenance. They'll paint it in Iraqi colours and throw an Iraqi flag up.

"They'll hang out there for a while, until they get tired, and as soon as they go away, the Iranians come down the hill and paint it Iranian colours and raise an Iranian flag. It happened about three months ago and it will probably happen again."

In keeping with the absurdity of Obamunism, everyone -- Americans and Iraqis alike -- is desperate for a "diplomatic" solution:

"There has been no violence related to this incident and we trust this will be resolved through peaceful diplomacy between the governments of Iraq and Iran," a US military spokesman told AFP at Contingency Operating Base Adder, just outside the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.

"The oil field is in disputed territory in between Iranian and Iraqi border forts," he said, adding that such incidents occur quite frequently.

To which I respond, "Well there's yer problem right there!"

Nations always have disputes between them... but territorial integrity is the first and most basic component of sovereignty: If a country cannot hang onto its own territory, it may as well hang it up; it's not really a nation.

(And before anyone starts shouting about immigration, yes I believe that a country must be able to control who crosses its borders; but no, we are not being "invaded" by Mexicans. Immigrants are not invaders; they're guests. They may be unwelcome and unwanted guests, but that doesn't make families the equivalent of heavily armed Iranian soldiers.)

Iraq has been entirely too complacent for entirely too long about so-called "disputed" territory; worse, this lackadaisical attitude, in the Age of Barack H. Obama, has even infected the American military forces in Iraq. This is unacceptable; it's primitivism. And rather than enable it, we should help the Iraqis stamp it out and shift to a modernist conception of sovereign territory.

(The same could be said, by the way, about Japan's complacency when South Korea declares the island of Takeshima part of the Republic of Korea, or when Russia plants its flag on the four disputed islands in the Kuril Island chain, in violation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951.)

So I have a suggestion; it should be familiar to our Commander in Chief, coming from Chicago... but it appears he has never heard of such a thing, so I'll enlighten him:

  1. For right now, send a combined U.S. and Iraqi force into the area; the Iranians will amble on out, smirking. We linger at the border for a few weeks, then withdraw. (This step is necessary to feign weakness and set the Iranians up for step 3.)
  2. Inform Iran that this is the last time they will enter the Abu Gharb oil field, the Iraqi side of the al-Fakkah field, or any other Iraqi oil field... but don't tell them what will happen if they do. We keep troops fairly nearby but not close enough to keep the Iranians from doing what comes naturally.
  3. Within a few months, Iran will do it again; we know they will, because we deliberately signalled weakness with step 1. This is the trigger for which we will be waiting: Our troops move into the region; the Iranians withdraw. But instead of stopping at the border, American troops move into Iranian territory, seize some of their oil wells (on the pretext that they are "disputed territory")... and sit on them.
  4. We invite Iraqi oil workers in to start pumping the oil from these wells and driving it back to Iraq. The idea is not just to chase Iran out of Iraq but to force them to serve penance for their sins.
  5. We hold the wells for six months; then we tell Iran that this seizure was their one warning: The next time Iran invades any portion of Iraq, these wells and unspecified other assets will be annexed to Iraq... permanently.

If we are to introduce Iraq into the community of civilized nations, we must first induce them to break from their bad, old Arab traditions that turn nationalism on its head and keep them a backwards, "third world" nation with a few trappings of modernity. Until they think of themselves as a sovereign nation, nationalism will never trump tribalism.

Such a jump is impossible in Afghanistan, at least anytime in the forseeable future; all we can do there is maintain a more or less "tribal-democratic" government (where each tribe gets a vote -- in the form of each person voting) and keep the Taliban and their ilk out of power. But Iraq can be so much more; they can be a powerful American ally in the Middle East into the future. But we must encourage them to stop thinking like their neighbors and start thinking like us.

We cannot allow them to revert to their former ways; the danger to the United States would be dire.

Alas, this is all fantasy: Barack Obama cannot "feign" weakness because he is weak, and only the strong dare such pretense to draw an attack -- an expected attack -- and turn it back on the enemy. Perhaps someday Iran will school Obama on what it means to act from strength, not submission.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 18, 2009, at the time of 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 20, 2009

Imagine No al-Qaeda, It's Easy If He Tries...

Crime and Punishment , Presidential Peculiarities and Pomposities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The national-defense syllogism of President Barack H. Obama is pristine in its consistency:

  • The war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis is over! It ended on January 20th, 2009, when the One We Have Been Yearning For was finally inaugurated.
  • It was just one more of those failed policies from the previous administration. The war criminal Bush brought it on himself when he enraged the world by launching an unprovoked invasion of Iraq.
  • There are still a few criminal gangs that want to commit crimes against individuals inside the United States. The attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole, the attacks on the World Trade Centers and some other public building -- these were crimes: serious perhaps, but no different in substance from a home-invasion robbery or a residential burglary.

    And we already know how to deal with crime: After the next 9/11, we'll issue an immediate and sweeping flurry of indictments against the suicide perpetrators.

  • Of course, you can't stop a burglary with missiles and bombs... therefore we should stand down all those needless, senseless military defenses -- think of the money we could save!

And to gain the love of the whole rest of the world, we should proudly and publicly proclaim that we've done so:

The commander of military forces protecting North America has ordered a review of the costly air defenses intended to prevent another Sept. 11-style terrorism attack, an assessment aimed at determining whether the commitment of jet fighters, other aircraft and crews remains justified....

The review, to be completed next spring, is expected to be the military’s most thorough reassessment of the threat of a terrorism attack by air since Al Qaeda’s strikes on Sept. 11, 2001, transformed a Defense Department focused on fighting other militaries and led to the Bush administration’s “global war on terror.”

Think of it: No more fighter jets fueled and ready to shoot down airliners... no more American troops sent all over the world... no more Guantanamo Bay... no more torturing innocent farmers and scholars kidnapped from Tora Bora. With all the protections against crime we now have -- security screenings at airports, locked cockpit doors, no-fly zones around wherever the Obamacle happens to be -- who needs military force?

The eight-year national nightmare is over; it turns out that the entire premise of "war" was flawed to begin with, as the trials of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other criminals prove. And the money, the expense! Just think how all those billions that could be better spent on seizing control of health care and crippling America's energy production:

The assessment is partly a reflection of how a military straining to fight two wars is questioning whether it makes sense to keep in place the costly system of protections established after those attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Though the last of the air patrols above American cities were discontinued in 2007, the military keeps dozens of warplanes and hundreds of air crew members on alert to respond to potential threats.

“The fighter force is extremely expensive, so you always have to ask yourself the question ‘How much is enough?’ ” said Maj. Gen. Pierre J. Forgues of Canada, director of operations for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or Norad, which carries out the air defense mission within the United States military’s Northern Command.

What could possibly go wrong?

We cannot stick with the old regime of military defense anyway; we just don't have the resources:

General Forgues said the American and Canadian fleets of fighters, refueling tankers and radar planes “are always in high demand and low supply.”

Rather than do something crazy and counterproductive, like increasing the supply of fighters and refueling tankers to match the demand, it's so much easier simply to reduce demand by ending the air defenses.

But of course, nothing is carved in stone yet; that Canadian general who runs the American air defense at NORAD, Pierre Forgues, is merely conducting a review. Who can say how it may turn out?

General Forgues cautioned that there was no predetermined outcome of the review and that it was possible the commitment to the air defense mission would remain the same, or even increase.

Just as Obama, after careful consideration, may actually choose a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan and send even more troops than Gen. Stanley McChrystal has requested -- who can say? It's still under review.

The Times notes the truly staggering expenditures of the Bush regime's warmongering and jet-jockeying over the skies of America: Combat air patrols over our cities cost (brace yourselves) in excess of $50 million every week. That's more than $2.6 billion each and every year -- an utterly unsustainable expense, fully equal to an entire week of the price for ObamaCare. How can we possibly continue to bankrupt ourselves by paying for such unnecessary, imperialist, neoconservative militarism?

Thank goodness our nation came to its senses in time to elect a president who believes in strength through disarmament. It's no wonder he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; Barack Obama is Mother Teresa on steroids.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 20, 2009, at the time of 1:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 13, 2009

Michael "Miss-the-Point" Medved Strikes Again

Future of Warfare , Injudicious Judiciary , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

In the first hour of his show today, Michael Medved was objecting to the staggeringly stupid decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to put Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, each accused of planning the September 11th attacks, on trial in a civilian court in New York City. (Of coruse, the policy could only have been announced had it been enthusiastically approved by President Barack H. Obama; so let's not blame Holder... blame Holder's boss.)

Well of course Medved opposes the scheme; he is (generally) a conservative, and what conservative could possibly support such an asinine policy?

But I was driven to distraction when Medved explained why he was against it. Because of the danger it would provoke another terrorist attack against New York? Because of likely attempts by terrorists to free the Gitmo Five? Because of the horrible risk that they might be acquitted, simply because we would be hamstrung by threats to national security?

Why no: Michael Medved's main argument, which he repeated over and over, was that such a trial would cost too much money.

"This could cost as much as a hundred million dollars!" he hyperventilated -- which, by the way, is less than one one-millionth of the cost of ObamaCare. Several callers took their cue from Medved, calling to complain about wasting all that taxpayer money.

Where to begin? Talk about missing the dead cow on the tennis court. The reason the Holder decision is utterly insane is not the money; and it's not that it would give a "platform" for the terrorists to spout their anti-American propaganda, which Medved also mentioned en passante. I'm sure the courtroom will be closed; and even if there is a TV feed, it will be court controlled, which the judge can order shut down if the defendants begin ranting. (Not that a raging Khalid Sheikh Mohammed screaming "God damn America!" would be a good recruiting tool to convert Americans to jihadist Islam anyway.)

The real danger is twofold:

  1. It establishes a precedent that such terrorist attacks, launched from a foreign country by foreign nationals, with the aid and support of other foreign nations, are simply criminal acts that should be tried in civilian court, alongside carjacking and check kiting cases.

We must understand that such attacks are the future of warfare. We're not going to be subject to a missile barrage directly from Iran; when Iran attacks us in future, it will be through the agency of another KSM and Ramzi Binalshibh.

  1. It carries the distinct risk that terrorist attorneys can "game the system" to get all five terrorist detainees acquitted... on grounds that demonstrate once again why we need to try these terrorists via military tribunals, not the civilian justice system (which was never set up to prosecute unlawful enemy combatants).

The defendants' attorneys, probably supplied by CAIR or some other terrorist-linked organization, can use a peculiar tactic to practically force an acquittal: They can claim that they cannot possibly defend against the charges without knowing exactly how they were found, how they were captured, what intelligence led them there, who were the sources for that intel (so they can be subpoenaed into court), what methods were used to collect it, and so forth. Thus, they will demand all such documents -- probably more than a million pages of heavily, heavily classified material -- during discovery.

Obviously, we cannot possibly hand that over to the defendants' attorneys. Even if the attorneys are Americans, how do we know we're not putting such vital intelligence data into the hands of another Lynne Stewart? Even the incompetocracy of Obama will be bright enough to realize it cannot release such intel... which will give the attorneys the perfect opening to demand all charges be dismissed.

In addition, they're sure to move to dismiss charges against KSM on the grounds that Mohammed was "tortured," i.e., waterboarded. This will give the federal courts yet another crack at formally declaring waterboarding to be torture -- which would make it much easier for Team Obama to prosecute our anti-terrorist interrogators... and once again blame George W. Bush for all the woes afflicting America.

At that point, all will be in the hands of a federal judge, then an appellate court panel, then the Supreme Court, where it will ultimately be decided by how Justice Anthony Kennedy feels that day. If he woke up grumpy, we could find all five of them (or perhaps just the most well-known terrorist, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed) acquitted, out on the streets, and quickly back in Iran or Pakistan or Indonesia, receiving a hero's welcome -- and returned once again to the terrorist fold.

(Medved did mention one other problem: That the civilian trial itself, no matter how carefully managed, would almost certainly compromise American intelligence gathering. But he presented it only as a quote from somebody else, at the very end of the hour.)

Honestly, the hundred-million dollar cost is the least of the perils to which such jackassery exposes us.

Queerly enough, the Justice Department also announced that other terrorists from the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility will be tried -- by military tribunals!

But the administration will prosecute another set of high-profile detainees now being held at the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba -- Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of planning the 2000 bombing of the Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen, and four other detainees -- before a military commission.

Why the difference? Because Nashiri attacked a military target, the U.S.S. Cole? But the 9/11 plotters attacked the Pentagon -- which is also a military target, I would reckon. Both KSM and and Nashiri were captured abroad, in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, respectively. Both are foreign nationals: KSM is a Kuwaiti, Nashiri is Saudi Arabian. Both planned their crimes abroad.

The only difference appears to be that Nashiri's target was an American ship sitting at anchor in Yemen, while Mohammed's targets were all in the United States; but this hardly seems such an important distinction that we couldn't have tried Mohammed and his five pals in a military tribunal as well, where we could much more securely control the circulation of any discovery documents that could compromise American national security.

I just don't understand what's so hard to understand about the insanity of this grandstanding move -- whose real purpose, I suspect, is to find yet another way to blame everything on Bush. But evidently, it's too subtle a point for Michael Medved to grasp. Yes, I agree, we spend too much federal and state money; we should significantly reduce spending and dramatically drop the tax rates.

But for heaven's sake, that's not the big problem in this case.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 13, 2009, at the time of 2:12 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 9, 2009

Could He Ever Bring Himself to Say It? "No We Can't!"

Domestic Terrorism , Obamic Options , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Just an update to our earlier post, Could He Ever Bring Himself to Say It? Obamic Options 004. I posed the following question:

[W]ould President Barack H. Obama ever admit to the American people that -- contrary to the knee-jerk FBI statement -- such a shooting under these assumptions would almost certainly be an act of "jihadist" terrorism?

But I prefaced that question on five assumptions, four of which (all but he last) were being widely reported at the time; I wrote, "let's assume for sake of argument that the following reports are correct." (I even italicized it.) Here are the assumptions:

  1. The main shooter was Major Malik Nadal Hasan (or Nidal Malik Hasan -- I've seen both versions);
  2. Hasan was a recent convert to Islam;
  3. Hasan was "violently hostile" to the deployment of American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq;
  4. That the two persons currently being held in custody are, in fact, collaborators in the massacre.
  5. That the two in custody were also recent converts to Islam or radical Moslems.

As it turned out, most of the original assumptions for sake of argument were wrong:

  • Yes, it seems pretty solid that Nidal Malik Hasan was the shooter.
  • But he was not a recent convert to Islam -- he is a lifelong Moslem who is now a radical Moslem (I don't know whether he has always been radicalized or whether it's a recent event).
  • He was certainly "violently hostile" to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
  • But the two people briefly held in custody were not collaborators and were released.
  • I don't have any information whether they were Moslems, so let's call this unconfirmed.

However, my point not only stands but is bolstered. How? How can my point become stronger when 60% of the underpinning of premises on which it was based has been kicked down?

Should be obvious: Because each discarded assumption has been replaced by even more solid evidence that Hasan's massacre at Fort Hood was not senseless and motive-free, but was in fact an act of putative jihad.

We now know about Hasan's repeated anti-American, anti-infidel outbursts, his justification of suicide bombings, his incomprehension that American Moslems could possibly fight against their "brothers" in Afghanistan and Iraq. We now learn that he posted jihadist messages on the internet, that he had contacts with a radical imam who preached at the mosque that the 9/11 butchers attended, and even that he evidently attempted to contact al-Qaeda.

He was not a recent convert, but he was a radical jihadist. He evidently acted alone when he committed mass murder, but at least two witnesses insist he shouted "Allahu Akhbar" as he did it.

Let's just jack up the question and run the new, more careful reporting under it in place of the discarded assumptions; when you finish tightening the bolts, the same question is even more urgent now than it was four days ago.

And now we appear to have an answer: No; Barack H. Obama cannot bring himself to call this brutish massacre "an act of 'jihadist' terrorism." It simply is not in his nature, nor his best interests -- which do not seem to coincide with the best interests of the United States.

Honesty may be the best policy, but it's not Obama's policy.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 9, 2009, at the time of 4:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 8, 2009

A Tale of Two Mentalities

Dhimmi of the Month , Domestic Terrorism , Islamarama , Liberal Lunacy , Military Machinations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

There are so many categories for this post because it touches on so many hot-button issues; but I picked "Dhimmi of the Month" as the primary category. We never did get the polling software off the ground, so you can't vote on it... but I'll still use the category when appropriate.

Sadly, today it's appropriate.

The Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Gen. George Casey, has just uncovered the greatest threat exposed by the Fort Hood massacre, presumably committed by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan. Is it radical jihadism? A future Islamic terrorist attack in the United States? The use of political correctness as a human shield for potential murderers? The inability of the Army to notice that one of its members swam in currents of hate so strong, they seared his soul (as Winston Churchill put it)?

No. Gen. Casey has identified the real danger: a potential anti-Moslem backlash!

General George Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, said on Sunday that he was concerned that speculation about the religious beliefs of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, accused of killing 12 fellow soldiers and one civilian and wounding dozens of others in a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, could “cause a backlash against some of our Muslim soldiers.”

“I’ve asked our Army leaders to be on the lookout for that,” General Casey said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union. “It would be a shame -- as great a tragedy as this was -- it would be a shame if our diversity became a casualty as well.”

General Casey, who was appeared on three Sunday news programs, used almost the same language during an interview on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” an indication of the Army’s effort to ward off bias against the more than 3,000 Muslims in its ranks.

“A diverse Army gives us strength,” General Casey, who visited Fort Hood Friday, said on “This Week....”

“The speculation could heighten the backlash,” he said on “This Week.” “What happened at Fort Hood is a tragedy and I believe it would be a greater tragedy if diversity became a casualty here.”

Losing our "diversity" would be "a greater tragedy" than the Fort Hood massacre itself? Does any rational human being actually believe this? And does any military historian believe that "a [religiously] diverse Army gives us strength?" I think it clear from context that Casey is claiming that having a tiny handful of Moslem soldiers -- 3,000 out of nearly 1.1 million soldiers -- somehow makes the Army "stronger."

This is ludicrous. I'm positive having Moslems in our ranks doesn't make us any weaker, but neither does it make us stronger, except marginally: If we banned all Moslems from the ranks, we might have to accept a lesser qualified Christian, Jewish, or Buddhist soldier instead of a more qualified Moslem. But the diminishment would be slight at best.

What really makes us stronger is:

  • The independence and initiative of our soldiers, especially officers and non-coms;
  • Our rigorous and realistic training (with live ammunition);
  • Our general population's familiarity with firearms through civilian gun ownership;
  • Our technologically advanced weaponry and other warfighting systems;
  • And most of all, our ideology of liberty, which gives our servicemen reasons to fight more powerful than "because I told you to."

Casey's remark is yet another example of transforming the criminal into the victim; it's political correctness run wild. And if George Casey cannot understand why Hasan's religion -- which appears by all reports to be a violent, extremist, jihadist sect of Islam -- could be the primary motive behind the otherwise senseless spree killings, then Gen. Casey should be removed as Chief of Staff. Immediately.

It's as stunning as if Eisenhower had said in 1942 that we should not "speculate" on the possible role National Socialism might play in the military aggression of the Axis, lest we create a "backlash" against soldiers with names like, well, Eisenhower. For heaven's sake, the ideology of National Socialism was the primary cause of World War II... just as the ideology of violent Islamic jihadism is the primary cause of global Islamic terrorism.

Or doesn't George Casey believe that? Of course, Casey also didnt' believe in the "surge;" he thought it would inevitably fail, leading to American defeat in Iraq. Fortunately for us (and the Iraqis), he was kicked upstairs, and Gen. David Petraeus took his place as Commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq.

I find it curious that Gen. Casey is so worried about a potential "backlash" against other, non-radical Moslems -- when has this ever happened, by the way? -- but he seems utterly unconcerned about the possibility of another massacre at another military installation by another radical [REDACTED]. I guess each of us must prioritize his own concerns.

Does Casey's response make him a "dhimmi," by which we popularly mean a non-Moslem who bends over backwards to explain away or excuse the excesses of radical jihadism? Yes, I argue it does... because Casey tries to deflect blame from the horrific ideology of jihad: "Nothing to see here, folks; let's just MoveOn!" We know that the jihadist mindset directly causes Islamic terrorism; this appears to be terrorism, perpetrated by a Moslem who increasingly appears to have been radicalized. But we can't "speculate" on this seemingly urgent question for fear of that putative "backlash."

Casey's delusional political correctness was echoed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 82%), naturally enough:

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican of South Carolina, and Sen. Jack Reed, a Democrat of Rhode Island, took also pains on Sunday to say that Muslims have served honorably in the military and at risk to their lives.

“At the end of the day this is not about his religion -- the fact that this man was a Muslim,” Senator Graham said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

I wonder if Graham thinks that Osama bin Laden's hatred of the West and of Jews has anything to do with his religion; I'm afraid to ask.

In order to conclude that Hasan's religion had nothing whatsoever to do with the attack, one really must ignore an awful lot of evidence. For example (of both the evidence and how it can be brushed aside):

The San Antonio Express-News has reported that classmates in a graduate military medical program heard Major Hasan justify suicide bombings and make radical and anti-American statements. But investigators have said that Major Hasan might have suffered from emotional problems that were aggravated by the strain of working with veterans of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and by the knowledge that he might soon be deployed to those theaters as well.

I think I would go along with the general premise that every radical Islamic jihadist "suffers from emotional problems;" but I understand the defense:

Only a lad
You really can't blame him
Only a lad
Society made him
Only a lad
He's our responsibility
Only a lad
He really couldn't help it
Only a lad
He didn't want to do it
Only a lad
He's underprivileged and abused
Perhaps a little bit confused

I note, however, that "understanding" is not the same as "exonerating."

Before we swing to the second "mentality," let's encapsulate the Casey mentality here:

On the base Sunday morning, mourners were asked [by the garrison chaplain] to pray for Major Hasan and his family, The Associated Press reported.

Yeah. That and not blaming the perpetrator are the most urgent tasks before us right now.

There is, however, another way to respond to the Fort Hood "tragedy" (man-caused disaster?); it was exemplified today by the man who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite senators:

A key U.S. senator called Sunday for an investigation into whether the Army missed signs that the man accused of opening fire at Fort Hood had embraced an increasingly extremist view of Islamic ideology.

Sen. Joe Lieberman's call came as word surfaced that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan apparently attended the same Virginia mosque as two Sept. 11 hijackers in 2001, at a time when a radical imam preached there.

God forbid we should "speculate" about how Hasam's religion might have slightly influenced his murderous actions. "This is not -- the radical imam -- I knew...!"

Classmates participating in a 2007-2008 master's program at a military college complained repeatedly to superiors about what they considered Hasan's anti-American views. Dr. Val Finnell said Hasan gave a presentation at the Uniformed Services University that justified suicide bombing and even told classmates that Islamic law trumped the U.S. Constitution.

Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wants Congress to determine whether the shootings constitute a terrorist attack.

"If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have zero tolerance," Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, said on "Fox News Sunday." "He should have been gone."

Couldn't we arrange for Gen. George Casey to be gone? He could be kicked upstairs again, this time to junior assistant deputy shavetail to the RINO Secretary of the Army, John McHugh. Then we could replace Casey with a new Chief of Staff, one with a mentality more like Joe Lieberman than George Casey.

Alas, that wouldn't work: The new Chief would have to be nominated by Barack H. Obama... and the One would probably name John Murtha!

Cross-posted to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 8, 2009, at the time of 6:26 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 5, 2009

Could He Ever Bring Himself to Say It? Obamic Options 004

Domestic Terrorism , Obamic Options , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Regarding the shooting at Fort Hood; let's assume for sake of argument that the following reports are correct:

  • The main shooter was Major Malik Nadal Hasan (or Nidal Malik Hasan -- I've seen both versions);
  • Hasan was a recent convert to Islam;
  • Hasan was "violently hostile" to the deployment of American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq;
  • That the two persons currently being held in custody are, in fact, collaborators in the massacre.

And let's make one final assumption that is admittedly based on nothing more than my speculation about the nature of the shooting:

  • That the two in custody were also recent converts to Islam or radical Moslems.

My question is this: In such a case, would President Barack H. Obama ever admit to the American people that -- contrary to the knee-jerk FBI statement -- such a shooting under these assumptions would almost certainly be an act of "jihadist" terrorism?

Or would he insist it was just a trio of motiveless killers, no matter what?

(Maybe he would dub it a man-caused Major disaster, suggest we respond by initiating a domestic contingency operation, and blame George W. Bush.)

Sachi believes Obama would not; that no matter how much evidence emerged, Obama would never say that this was domestic radical-Islamic terrorism. But I'm not entirely sure; he might realize that the disconnect between what he was saying and what the average guy or gal on the street was thinking would be so great that his approval would suffer significantly.

Recall, we made some assumptions up there: First, that all "facts" reported so far hold up, and second, that the accomplices were also Moslem converts or radicals. So everything I'm saying here is conditional.

But given those assumptions, what do you think the One would say?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 5, 2009, at the time of 3:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 15, 2009

Free the Gitmo 220!

Democratic Culture of Corruption , Tribunals and Tribulations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Say -- let's bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to the United States to be tried in a civilian court! What could go wrong?

The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to allow foreign terrorism suspects from the Guantanamo Bay prison into the United States to face trial.

The 307 to 114 vote removes one of many roadblocks the Obama administration faces as it tries to empty the internationally condemned prison by January.

Hm, here's a plausible scenario:

  1. KSM (you may pick the vicious terrorist mass-murderer wannabe of your choice) is brought to the United States for a criminal trial in civilian court.
  2. Since he would then be granted all the rights normally allowed defendants accused of carjacking or check kiting, he gets the attorney of his choice and full access to discovery.
  3. CAIR and the Muslim American Society find him an attorney recently moved here from Pakistan, Abdul al-Yazid.
  4. Mr. al-Yazid immediately demands tens of thousands of highly classified documents related to the capture, detention, and interrogation of Mr. Mohammed, including all intelligence that led to his capture in the first place, sources and methods included.
  5. The Department of Defense and the White House balk, refusing to hand over such sensitive intelligence to an attorney who has disturbing ties to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
  6. The liberal judge rules that without all this intelligence, Mr. Mohammed cannot receive a fair trial. Surely he must have access to all evidence that led to his capture, just as the man arrested for receiving stolen goods has the right to see the evidence that led to the search warrant that led to his arrest.
  7. The Executive is adamant: No vital intelligence will be given to the al-Qaeda lawyer.
  8. The Judge dismisses the case, releasing the innocent back to Pakistan, whence he had been captured in 2003. (Assuming Pakistan would even take him, which is doubtful; more likely, he would have to be released here in the United States, there being nowhere else that would accept him.)
  9. KSM rejoins al-Qaeda -- I've heard rumors there may be some terrorists in Pakistan -- as a top general; jubilation among jihadi around the world.
  10. The Pakistan government ends up giving the Taliban its own territory, to join with the Taliban tribal territory in Afghanistan that the Barack H. Obama administration reportedly is mulling.
  11. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed becomes the first Sultan of Talibanistan.

What could possibly go wrong?

There are approximately 220 likely terrorists currently held in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. The One wants to close the facility. We can't possibly find "friendly" countries to take all those detainees, especially since most come from countries that even President B.O. would admit are not exactly cheerleaders for America.

Ergo, the only option eventually will be for the president to release some significant portion of those 220 right here in America... or else admit that he cannot do what he ordered done his second day in office -- even before being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize!

Barack Obama must pick one of two choices:

  • Put American security at catastrophic risk;
  • Admit something personally embarassing that makes him look an utter fool.

What could go wrong?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 15, 2009, at the time of 3:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 30, 2009

Withdrawing from Afghanistan, Plus Future Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Pinch Me, I'm Dreaming

Afghan Astonishments , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , Military Machinations , Obama Nation , Pakistan Perplexities , Terrorism Intelligence , Terrorist Attacks , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

I just heard Bill Kristol on the Hugh Hewitt show dropping a couple of political bombshells:

  1. First, Kristol now believes for the first time that President Barack H. Obama is paving the groundwork for rejecting Gen. Stanley McChrystal's recommendation of a COIN strategy for Afghanistan, including increasing troop levels.

Note that it was the Obamacle Himself who appointed McChrystal to head up his present commands, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), just three months ago; and he it was who ordered McChrystal to undertake a complete review of the Afghanistan policy.

I suspect Obama expected McChrystal to recommend declaring defeat and pulling out. But in response to Obama's order, McChrystal released a 66-page report to continuing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that called for significantly increasing troop levels there and redeploying the force in a counterinsurgency mode, similar to Iraq.

Ever since, as several bloggers have argued (notably John Hinderaker at Power Line), Obama has acted like a man who deeply regrets having picked an actual fighting general in the first place -- and who wants to prepare the American people for the complete rejection of his own appointee's report, in favor of a phased withdrawal from "the war we should be fighting," as some guy named Barack Obama called it during the campaign (in contrast to Iraq, the war we were supposed to lose, one presumes).

  1. Second, and far more shocking, is some political intel that Kristol received from a person who is in "cose contact" with top Defense officials: That holdover George W. Bush Defense Secretary Bob Gates will be asked by Obama to step down at the end of the year... and that Obama plans to name former senator Chuck Hagel, who never met a war he didn't want us to withdraw from, as his new Secretary of Retreat and Defeat.

Hagel was an infantry grunt in Vietnam for two years, leaving shortly after the Tet Offensive; that experience seems to have colored his attitude towards all subsequent conflicts: He sometimes votes for them (as for example the Iraq war); but as soon as the going gets tough, Hagel demands an immediate and aggressive surrender.

  • He was one of only four Republicans in July 2007 who voted in favor of cloture on a bill to force withdrawal from Iraq starting 120 days from that vote; the other three were Olympia Snowe (ME, 12%), Susan Collins (ME, 20%), and Gordon Smith of Oregon, liberals all.
  • In railing against the Iraq COIN strategy of Gen. David Petraeus, Hagel called it "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam, if it's carried out." (I don't recall Hagel ever issuing an apology, or even a statement, after the Petraeus strategy proved decisive in our victory in Iraq.)
  • Speaking about Israeli's incursion into Lebanon to stop Hezbollah's rocket attacks on their northern cities, Hagel blurted out:

    "The sickening slaughter on both sides must end and it must end now.... President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop."...

    "How do we realistically believe that a continuation of the systematic destruction of an American friend -- the country and people of Lebanon -- is going to enhance America's image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East?" asked Hagel, the No. 2 Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Yes, the perfect man to defend America -- Barack Obama style. I can just picture the furious and manly letters of strong disapproval Hagel will shoot off whenever some dictator funds and gives safe haven to a terrorist group while they blow up another American embassy.

Currently, Chuck Hagel is Chairman of the Board of the Atlantic Council, a foreign-policy think tank cum policy advocacy group that appears to lean heavily towards diplomacy above everything -- talking loudly and forgetting to bring any stick at all, big or small. (E.g., its International Advisory Board is headed by Brent Scowcroft and includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Edelman, Lawrence H. Summers, and a huge inflation of bankers and CEOs of vast multinational corporations.)

Hagel replaced outgoing Chairman Jim Jones, who was tapped to serve as Obama's National Security Advisor; Jones was last seen offering what we called "the weirdest explanation to date for cancelling the long-range ballistic-missile defense system in Eastern Europe -- while simultaneously betraying our allies, Poland and the Czech Republic."

Since the Jim Jones appointment as security sock puppet worked out so well for Obama, it certainly seems plausible that he would go back to the same well to draw out a bucketful of Defense Secretary. Admittedly, Kristol just lost his father, Irving Kristol; but it was hardly the sort of shocking or unanticipated demise that might throw William Kristol into a blue funk and darken his normal optimism.

The threatened appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense would be catastrophic for the war efforts, all of them: Iraq, Afghanistan, the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis, intelligence gathering, interrogations, dealing with Pakistan, North Korea, China, Russia... and of course, Hagel would be a disaster for Israel, as he would almost certainly back Obama to the hilt in the latter's quest to force Israel back to the indefensible borders of the pre-Six Day War era. (In exchange for the Palestinian's promise that they might seriously consider deciding whether or not to recognize Israel sometime in the distant and not very likely future.)

Appointing Hagel would seriously diminish our ability to protect our allies or even defend ourselves, and in general would signal the end of American power and leadership in the world, at least for a while (say until 2013). Therefore, I conclude that Obama is already plotting to make the appointment.

I must also conclude that the Senate will swiftly approve the nominee; Hagel was once one of them... therefore, "comity of the Senate" and all that, Republicans will probably support him, though he rarely supported them while in that august body.

And there you have it, your recommended minimum daily allowance of political pessimism and national-defense despair.

Cross-posted (of course) to Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 30, 2009, at the time of 5:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 7, 2009

Lockerbie Bomber Release: What Did Obama Approve, and When Did He Approve It?

Democratic Culture of Corruption , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Blogger DRJ on powerhouse blogsite Patterico's Pontifications links to an important article; but I think she missed one of its major implications.

She linked to an article in the UK Daily Mail, "No.10 turns on Obama and Clinton for criticising decision to release Lockerbie bomber," focusing on the damage this contretemps is doing to our special relationship with the United Kingdom. But there is a deeper and much more disturbing conclusion to be drawn from that piece:

British officials claim Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton were kept informed at all stages of discussions concerning Megrahi’s return.

The officials say the Americans spoke out because they were taken aback by the row over [Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset] Megrahi’s release, not because they did not know it was about to happen.

‘The US was kept fully in touch about everything that was going on with regard to Britain’s discussions with Libya in recent years and about Megrahi,’ said the Whitehall aide.

‘We would never do anything about Lockerbie without discussing it with the US. It is disingenuous of them to act as though Megrahi’s return was out of the blue.

But what is the real implication here? If these "British officials" are truthful and accurate, then President Barack H. Obama has known for months that they were negotiating the unconditional release of Megrahi to the Libyans, with predictable results (the "hero's welcome").

But had Obama put his foot down, perhaps even threatening to go public about the talks (thus scuttling them) -- had he even threatened to reveal the real reason for the amnesty, a massive oil deal for British Petroleum offered as a bribe by Libyan military dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi -- Obama could almost certainly have stopped the release of Megrahi.

Given the reaction not only here but across the Atlantic, such a deal must be negotiated in the dead of night; a credible threat to bring it out into the open before the terms were agreed upon would have meant both Great Britain and Libya would have had to deny and denounce the deal, and it couldn't have happened... not for years, at least, while the furor died down.

And again, the Obamacon must have known this: first and foremost, because he is of course omniscient; just ask any supporter. But beyond that perhaps dubious claim, because Rahm Emanuel would have told him that he had the de facto power to stop the deal, as would neutered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Which leads me to only two possible conclusions:

  • The British officials are either lying or jaw-droppingly misinformed about what Obama knew and when he knew it; or...
  • Obama could have stopped the release but chose, for political reasons, not to do so. To put it another way, if the Brits are correct, then Obama tacitly approved, by deliberate inaction, the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

I lean towards the second conclusion, since it strains my credulity to the snapping point to believe that unnamed, but surely well known to the British press, "officials" would tell a complete cock-and-bull story that could easily be debunked, leading to their own disgrace and ruin within a day or two.

The administration might argue, as a last-ditch defense, that Obama didn't approve the deal; he just couldn't make up his mind whether to go whole hog to prevent it. But not making a decision is making a decision, the decision to do nothing. And when the non-decider has the power to force a moral conclusion but refuses to exercise it, that equates to approval of and support for rank evil: The sin of omission in such a case is functionally identical to the corresponding sin of commission.

These may be the most urgent questions to be asked of the president at this moment, more important than why he hired Van Jones or what his own health-care takeover plan may be:

  1. Mr. Obama, did you have advance knowledge about the release of Abdelbaset Megrahi to Libya after only a few years in prison in Scotland, despite his conviction in Scottish court of the murder of 270 people, including 180 Americans, four American intelligence officers, and children and families of many nationalities?
  2. Given the fact that you allowed the release without blowing its secrecy, at what point did you decide to tacitly acquiesce to that ghoulish decision, whose only justification was a multi hundred million pound bribe (an oil lease) paid by Gaddafi to BP?
  3. And how can you possibly justify your approval of Megrahi's release? To what principle can you appeal beyond pure political opportunism, coupled with depraved indifference to human life?

If Americans understood that, protestations notwithstanding, Barack Obama was in on the deal to release the Lockerbie bomber, I suspect that might be the last straw for a huge chunk of the still undecided voting population.

Obama has buttered his bread, and now he must sleep in it. We must hold his feet to the grindstone on this vile, cynical, and cowardly "non-decision" decision.

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 7, 2009, at the time of 12:09 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 23, 2009

Surge Against the Resurgence of the Insurgency

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

Since Barack H. Obama took office, anti-war protesters, major media figures, and even conservatives seem to have forgotten that there are wars going on still in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks to General David Petraeus and his counterinsurgency strategy (COIN) in Iraq, the situation dramatically improved there during the tail end of the Bush adiministration. But in Afghanistan, the situation is not improving; it anything, it's deteriorating.

Our Marines are still there and fighting; we can always rely on them. But they cannot win this war alone; ultimately, Afghanistan must be won by the Afghans themselves. But in a place where terrorist and vengence killings and kidnappings by the Taliban continue to be "situation normal," getting Afghans to join the fight against so-called "jihad" is easier promised than delivered, as the Obamacle is finding out.

The New York Times notes that the Marines are not getting the help they need, either from local tribes or the Afghan national government:

Governor Massoud has no body of advisers to help run the area, no doctors to provide health care, no teachers, no professionals to do much of anything. About all he says he does have are police officers who steal and a small group of Afghan soldiers who say they are here for “vacation.”

It all raises serious questions about what the American mission is in southern Afghanistan -- to secure the area, or to administer it -- and about how long Afghans will tolerate foreign troops if they do not begin to see real benefits from their own government soon. American commanders say there is a narrow window to win over local people from the guerrillas.

Didn't we hear the same story in 2006, in Iraq? Americans are strong; the Marines can win every pitched battle. We have killed tens of thousands of Talibani, conquered most of the territory of Afghanistan, and occupied them with American and local security forces. But have we secured Afghanistan? Hardly. Instead, it threatens to again become what it used to be called: the graveyard of empires.

Why is it that we cannot win the hearts and minds of the Afghans? All right, when George W. Bush was in the White House, distrust was understandable, liberals might argue; Bush was that evil dictator, that big meaniee, who refused to negotiate or even talk with the "freedom fighters" who only had the best interests of their fellow Pashtuns at heart. Naturally Afghans didn't trust Bush -- everybody in the entire world hated him! But Barack Obama -- the One We Have Been Waiting For, the Obamessiah -- surely ought to be able to resolve this situation diplomatically with a few well-chosen words from his trusty teleprompter.

Yet the sad truth of the matter is that it doesn't matter who the president is; all that matters is our long term, consistant, relentless presence in the country... for a long time to come; probably as long as our military presence in the Philippines, fighting the Moro insurgency -- around 15 years -- as an earlier post discussed.

Afghans are afraid: Even if the Marines secure a region, the populace knows we'll eventually leave; we don't plan to live here permanently as colonial masters. And then what?

Counterinsurgency is much like building a road in the desert. We can shovel and smooth, lay tarmac, and build a superhighway; but if we do not constantly maintain it, if we even take a breather, the desert will reclaim its own and turn the fancy road back into sand dunes, as if we were never even there. Look what is happening in Iraq, since Barack H. Obama arrived and began his months-long victory lap. [Sergeant Garcia: How did we capture Zorro? Capitan Monastario: "We?" You had nothing to do with it, baboso! -- DaH]

Afghans will have to live in Afghanistan long after the Americans leave. They need to be convinced that siding with American troops to build a free Afghanistan is a courageous, honorable, and rational idea -- that cooperating with us does not mean signing their own death warrants. Unless we can guarantee the safety of the Afghan civilians, as we did in Iraq (while President Bush was still in charge), we cannot expect the Afghan tribes to cooperate anytime soon.

What Afghanistan needs is a COIN operation, like the one Gen. Petraeus executed to brilliant victory in Iraq; it would have to adapt to local and regional differences between Afghanistan and the Middle East, but the main goal would be the same: protecting the civilian population long enough for effective and honest civil institutions to arise naturally. But with Barack Obama in the White House, I am not as confident we'll succeed as I once was.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, August 23, 2009, at the time of 5:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 18, 2009

The Price of Presidential Poltroonery

Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

On July 2nd, the Iraq government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki unilaterally issued guidelines to the withdrawal of forces agreement; nothing could make more clear how much we have lost by not having President George W. Bush to kick around anymore.

The sudden guidelines, which took American military commanders completely by surprise, included the demand that we cease all joint patrols with Iraqi forces:

In a curt missive issued by the Baghdad Operations Command on July 2 -- the day after Iraqis celebrated the withdrawal of U.S. troops to bases outside city centers -- Iraq's top commanders told their U.S. counterparts to "stop all joint patrols" in Baghdad. It said U.S. resupply convoys could travel only at night and ordered the Americans to "notify us immediately of any violations of the agreement"....

The new guidelines are a reflection of rising tensions between the two governments. Iraqi leaders increasingly see the agreement as an opportunity to show their citizens that they are now unequivocally in charge and that their dependence on the U.S. military is minimal and waning.

The new "guidelines" also reflect demands from Iran. What's next -- no Jewish Marines allowed in Iraq?

I am convinced this Iraqi betrayal would never have happened under President Bush; of all people in the world, Iraqis are most acutely aware of George W. Bush's resolve, his toughness, and his refusal to compromise American security, even to accomodate the vanity of an ally.

But the new administration is a different kettle of monkeys: Maliki understands that President Barack H. Obama is in full diplomatic retreat virtually everywhere, from Russia to North Korea to China -- even to our allies in Europe and Latin America. (Were I a psychologist or psychiatrist, I might speculate that his insensate hunger to meet other heads of state anytime, anywhere, for any reason, and without any preconditions is perhaps best understood as an unconscious need to be loved and approved, possibly due to being abandoned by his father; but I'm not, so I won't.)

In particular, Maliki sees the Obamacle kow-towing to Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, even to the extent of releasing the very Qods Force officers who have been directing the violence and murder by splinter groups of the Mahdi Miliia against not only American and Coalition forces but Iraqis as well:

The strict application of the agreement coincides with what U.S. military officials in Washington say has been an escalation of attacks against their forces by Iranian-backed Shiite extremist groups, to which they have been unable to fully respond....

A spate of high-casualty suicide bombings in Shiite neighborhoods, attributed to al-Qaeda in Iraq and related Sunni insurgent groups, has overshadowed the increase of attacks by Iran-backed Shiite extremists, U.S. official say....

The three primary groups -- Asaib al-Haq, Khataib Hezbollah and the Promised Day Brigades -- emerged from the "special groups" of the Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM) militia of radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, which terrorized Baghdad and southern Iraq beginning in 2006. All receive training, funding and direction from Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force.

"One of the things we still have to find out, as we pull out from the cities, is how much effectiveness we're going to have against some of these particular target sets," the military intelligence official said. "That's one of the very sensitive parts of this whole story."

Sensitive -- you think?

Does anybody believe that Barack Obama is ever going to crack down on Iran, in Iraq or anywhere else, so long as there is the faintest thread of a possibility in the One's mind that he can "talk Iran out of" building a nuclear bomb?

Does anybody think Obama would fight to preserve effective rules of engagement from depredations by the Iraqi Council of Representatives (acting as a stalking horse for Iran) -- or even from our own congressional defeatists trying, once again, to cripple our fighting ability?

Or would he just shrug and go with the flow? Especially if he is completely engrossed in trying to enact his domestic agenda to nationalize health care, the entire banking system, and all energy use; raise taxes back to Carter-era rates; and triple the national debt?

I think our military is quite chary of picking a fight with a tough enemy like Qods Force, unless they can be certain that the Commander in Chief will back our hand 100%. Since certainty is certainly lacking, considering the new CinC, I'm not sanguine about our willingness to go after those "three primary groups" of Shia attacking American forces in Iraq.

Worse, Iraqis are extremely sensitive to signs of their allies going wobbly; in the Middle East, an "ally" is a temporary arrangement subject to change at a moment's notice. If Iraqis gain the faintest sense that we cannot be relied upon, then they will find an ally who is more steadfast. Looking around, now that Bush is gone, there are but two other players in Iraq who have been there from the beginning and who appear determined to stay until the bitter end: al-Qaeda and Iran.

I worry that if Obama continues to send a message of weakness, vacillation, and subservience, the Iraqi Shia, in the face of an increasing tempo of attacks from the former, will naturally turn to the latter:

Maliki has occasionally criticized interference by Shiite Iran's Islamic government in Iraqi affairs. But he has also maintained close ties to Iran and has played down U.S. insistence that Iran is deeply involved, through the Quds Force, in training and controlling the Iraqi Shiite extremists.

U.S. intelligence has seen "no discernible increase in Tehran's support to Shia extremists in recent months," and the attack level is still low compared with previous years, U.S. counterterrorism official said. But senior military commanders maintained that Iran still supports the Shiite militias, and that their attacks now focus almost exclusively on U.S. forces.

With the replacement of George Bush by Barack Obama, the mullahs, the bloodthirsty, megalomaniacal, Twelver mullahs, may win after all; and all that blood and treasure will be flushed away. But the most galling part is this: After physically wrenching a brilliant victory around to a humiliating defeat, does anyone expect the One to accept responsibilty for his own stupid decisions?

Of course not; he'll blame Bush. Obama will crow that this proves he was right all along; the war was unwinnable from the start!

There is one possible saving grace: The troop-withdrawal agreement necessarily contains a lot of vagueness and ambiguity (this is, after all, the Middle East). We might interpret it to make Iraq's unnegotiated "guidelines" to withdrawal invalid.

Naturally, that would be a higher level decision than a mere military commander could make. It's political; it transcends strategy. Such a decision requires some stubbornness, resolution, military acumen, and just a little spine. And it must come from the political command, through the Department of Defense, the State Department, the intelligence agencies, and ultimately from the president himself.

Uh oh...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 18, 2009, at the time of 6:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 16, 2009

The Obamacle's "Drag and Drop" War Against the War Against the Axis

Tribunals and Tribulations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

I believe we can safely generalize to this extent: President Barack H. Obama may propose, but his attention wanes when he must then dispose.

Two days after taking office, he ordered a halt in all proceedings of the military hearings desperately trying to try detainees in the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, pending an administrative "review." He electifyied the Left (and electrocuted the Right) with a round of stunning rhetoric (Obama "proposes"); but when it came time to actually conduct the review, he lost interest -- nobody "disposes" (and Moses supposes his toeses are roses).

The review lags, and cases drag and droop. Soon some cases may finally drop from sheer inattention:

The unfinished review of the cases against 229 suspected terrorists held at the detention center here has slowed the legal process to a crawl, leaving military prosecutors - and even judges - bewildered as to how to move forward....

In another hearing Wednesday, Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi, a top aide to Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, spent 90 minutes in a high-security courtroom behind razor-wire fences as military prosecutors argued to delay the case until at least September - the deadline for the review.

U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Seamus Quinn, a military prosecutor, told the judge that proceeding with the case now "would be an injustice to all concerned." He said the delay is needed to "address and eliminate all possible challenges" to the government's case.

Defense attorneys also went on the attack, asking the military judges to either dismiss the charges or move forward. "You cannot sit somebody in indefinite detention. It violates every principle we have as Americans," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Travis Owens, a lawyer representing Al Qosi.

The reason prosecutors moved for a postponement in the Qosi case is that, when the review ends -- if there ever is an end -- Congress will almost certainly have to rewrite the entire rulebook (yet again), in order to satisfy Obama's (and Hillary Clinton's, and Joe Biden's) sense of "fair play for terrorists." If the trials proceed now, then in September or October -- whether the hearing was complete or not -- they will have to start all over.

Defense attorneys are playing "damned if you do, damned if you don't," knowing that it's win-win for them:

If trial is delayed, they will argue that the detainee's right to a speedy trial is being violated.

And if it's not, then they'll argue that the rules were changed in the middle of the game!

Both claims will likely find much support from a chronically conflicted White House, which might jump at the chance to use a legalism as an end-run around actually trying terrorists at all, at all.

But why are we in this situation in the first place? Because on January 22nd, the barely unwrapped Obamacle issued a barely pondered pronunciamento. That brought to an abrupt halt proceedings that had been carefully crafted by a combination of a White House that had been fighting the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis for years, two different Congresses, and the United States Supreme Court -- ruling twice.

So, how is the B.O. review going so far?

A government task force has reviewed half of cases against the 229 suspects to determine which ones should be transferred, tried or held indefinitely, said a military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The White House did not respond to questions about the status of the review and the delays in proceedings.

Some "military official" -- a general? rear admiral lower half? colonel? 2nd lieutenant? PO-3? -- says the Obamarama has managed to review 114½ cases in a scant six months; presumably those are the easier ones. Does that mean it's going to be another year gone before they've reviewed the toughies?

And what happens if Obama forgets to rescind his executive order closing Guantanamo Bay before finishing the review -- are all detainees simply released into the wild, without even being tagged? But how will we know their migration routes, their mating proclivities, or even if they're becoming endangered?

Closing the military prison - as Mr. Obama has vowed to do by January - has proved far more difficult than originally thought.

Gee, you think?

Here's a partial timeline of the Dashing Dance of the Detainees:

November 13, 2001: President George W. Bush announces that some detainees will be tried by military tribunal. Democrats drag the proceedings out as much as possible, kicking and screaming every step of the way.

During the 2004 campaign: Democrats demand that all detainees be transferred to civilian courts and tried alongside federal credit-union robbers and marijuana smugglers.

December 30th, 2005: President Bush signs the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), which limits all interrogations by Department of Defense employees to those allowed by the Army Field Manual, but also makes explicit that unlawful enemy combatants detained outside the territory of the United States have no habeas corpus rights to file petitions in U.S. federal courts. CIA and other non-military interrogators are prohibited from using "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment," but not restricted to the Army Field Manual. Classifications (lawful or unlawful enemy combatant) finally start to roll.

June 29, 2006: US Supreme Court rules in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld -- actually, Justice Anthony Kennedy rules, since the case was 5-3 (Chief Justice Roberts recused himself, having ruled against Hamdan as a circus-court judge) -- that the military tribunals set up by President Bush are inadequate; Court strongly hints that Congress should enact legislation. Everything on hold.

September 28th-29th, 2006: Congress enacts legislation, passing the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA). Classifications start over from scratch, but at least they finally start to roll. Again.

June 29th, 2007: The Supreme Court, which had earlier chosen not to hear the cases Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. United States challenging the MCA, changes its mind and says it will hear the cases. Everything on hold. Again.

December 5th, 2007: Supreme Court hears oral arguments. Everything still on hold.

June 12th, 2008: Supreme Court rules -- actually, once again, Anthony Kennedy rules, since the case was 5-4 -- striking down the MCA as well as the DTA, holding that neither of these acts gives enough rights to terrorists in al-Qaeda and other jihadist organizations. The Court holds that the MCA is inadequate (congressional legislation notwithstanding), and that terrorist prisoners captured on the battlefield deserve either full-blown civilian trials, or at least a military trial that is at least as "fair" as, say, an American soldier being court-martialed for, e.g., robbing a military credit union or smuggling marijuana. Everything must start over from scratch.

November 4th, 2008: Barack H. Obama elected president of the United States. Everything on hold. Again.

January 22nd, 2009: Obama issues EO formally suspending all prosecutions of terrorist detainees until his scream team finishes reviewing all cases. Whenever that turns out to be. Everything at a dead stop, except for defense motions to dismiss charges on grounds that terrorists are being denied a speedy trial.

And now, the punchline:

[O]n May 21, Mr. Obama said in a speech at the National Archives in Washington that the tribunals are "an appropriate venue for trying detainees for violations of the laws of war." But at the same time, he lashed out at the Bush administration for what he called undue delays. [!]

"For over seven years, we have detained hundreds of people at Guantanamo. During that time, the system of military commissions that were in place at Guantanamo succeeded in convicting a grand total of three suspected terrorists. Let me repeat that - three convictions in over seven years. Instead of bringing terrorists to justice, efforts at prosecution met setback after setback, cases lingered on," he said.

I can't imagine why we haven't convicted more terrorists -- it's eerie; it's... inexplicable!

I fear that on the issue of military tribunals commissions courts-martial civilian trials indefinite detention under Obama's, not Bush's orders, the One We Have Been Waiting For is still keeping us waiting, while once again he votes -- "Present!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 16, 2009, at the time of 11:43 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 7, 2009

Jew Hatred and Other EuroLeft In-Jokes

Blogomania , Israel Matters , Palestinian Perils and Pratfalls , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

I cannot more strongly urge everyone to read Mark Steyn's piece Israel Today, the West Tomorrow. A few snippets:

"Israel is unfashionable," a Continental foreign minister said to me a decade back. "But maybe Israel will change, and then fashions will change." Fashions do change. But however Israel changes, this fashion won’t. The shift of most (non-American) Western opinion against the Jewish state that began in the 1970s was, as my Continental politician had it, simply a reflection of casting: Israel was no longer the underdog but the overdog, and why would that appeal to a post-war polytechnic Euro Left unburdened by Holocaust guilt?

Fair enough. Fashions change. But the new Judenhass is not a fashion, simply a stark reality that will metastasize in the years ahead and leave Israel isolated in the international "community" in ways that will make the first decade of this century seem like the good old days.

The problem is not simply European boredom with Holocaust haranguing but a combination of three trends:

  1. The demographic expansion of the Arab and Moslem populations, coupled with the decline of the population of (Old World) Christendom. (Christendom is expanding in Latin America, Asia, and Africa; but so far, they have not entered the lists in the battle of civilizations.)
  2. The aggressive expansion of radical, militant Islamism -- whether of the Salafist, Wahhabist Sunni variety or the Iranian-controlled Qom Shia flavor: Recently, both strains of terrorism-wielding militancy have allied in a war against the "Dar al-Harb," or "House of War" (also called Dar al-Garb, House of the West)... meaning any country that is not run as a sharia state; Shiite Iran now controls Sunni Hamas, for an example of such ecumenicalism.
  3. The recent suicidal alliance between the atheist, intellectual Left and radical Islamism: The former seem to believe that they can temporarily team up with the Moslem militants to overthrow democracy, Capitalism, and Christendom (and Judaism); then they'll quickly brush the mullahs and caliphs aside, so that the New Marxism -- that is, liberal fascism -- can reign supreme.

The reality of point 3 above, of course, is that the opposite will happen: It is the Islamists who will fall upon their secularist "allies" and rend them to pieces, leaving only the former to reign over the ruins. The Left, especially the EuroLeft, whose "intellectual" ideology still rules the roost over Chinese and Latin American strains, is in fact intellectually bankrupt and enervated. All the passion, energy, and revolutionary fervor comes from the Moslem militants (hence the name).

Back to Steyn... who is, in case you've forgotten in all the excitement, the actual subject of this post...

Brussels has a Socialist mayor, which isn’t that surprising, but he presides over a caucus a majority of whose members are Muslim, which might yet surprise those who think we’re dealing with some slow, gradual, way-off-in-the-future process here. But so goes Christendom at the dawn of the third millennium: the ruling party of the capital city of the European Union is mostly Muslim.

I find this astonishing; not because I was unaware of the trend, but just as Steyn anticipates, because I had no idea we were so far along the trendline. This goes beyond "disturbing" to "time to push the Panic Button." But there's more to come:

One Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago, a group wearing "BOYCOTT ISRAEL" T-shirts entered a French branch of Carrefour, the world’s largest supermarket chain, and announced themselves. They then systematically advanced down every aisle examining every product, seizing all the items made in Israel and piling them into carts to take away and destroy. Judging from the video they made, the protesters were mostly Muslim immigrants and a few French leftists. But more relevant was the passivity of everyone else in the store, both staff and shoppers, all of whom stood idly by as private property was ransacked and smashed, and many of whom when invited to comment expressed support for the destruction. "South Africa started to shake once all countries started to boycott their products," one elderly lady customer said. "So what you’re doing, I find it good."

Others may find Germany in the ‘30s the more instructive comparison. "It isn’t silent majorities that drive things, but vocal minorities," the Canadian public intellectual George Jonas recently wrote. "Don’t count heads; count decibels. All entities -- the United States, the Western world, the Arab street -- have prevailing moods, and it’s prevailing moods that define aggregates at any given time." Last December, in a well-planned attack on iconic Bombay landmarks symbolizing power and wealth, Pakistani terrorists nevertheless found time to divert one-fifth of their manpower to torturing and killing a handful of obscure Jews helping the city’s poor in a nondescript building. If this was a territorial dispute over Kashmir, why kill the only rabbi in Bombay? Because Pakistani Islam has been in effect Arabized. Demographically, in Europe and elsewhere, Islam has the numbers. But ideologically, radical Islam has the decibels -- in Turkey, in the Balkans, in Western Europe.

How long before Europe's liberal-fascist rulers seize upon such "boycotts" as government policy, to placate (appease) the rampaging "Asian youths" in their cities -- and to distract the rest of their population away from the EuroLeft's own abysmal economic, social, and police failures? How long before the "boycott" extends from Israel to "unregistered Israeli agents"... that is, Jews? Please pardon me if I don't have much faith in the ability (or willingness) of leftist intellectuals to take the high road, and not blame some convenient minority group for all of the Left's incompetencies.

(Note the sarcasm-quotes around boycott. A real boycott is voluntary: Charles Parnell did not force anyone to shun landlord Charles C. Boycott. But these Carrefour rioters, which is what they actually are, prevent other people from buying Israeli products.)

I think I can only quote one more passage and remain within the "fair use" exemption to copyright infringement, so I shall choose carefully. Consider this; Steyn postulates :

So it will go. British, European, and even American troops will withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, and a bomb will go off in Madrid or Hamburg or Manchester, and there will be nothing left to blame except Israeli "disproportion." For the remnants of European Jewry, the already discernible migration of French Jews to Quebec, Florida, and elsewhere will accelerate. There are about 150,000 Jews in London today -- it’s the thirteenth biggest Jewish city in the world. But there are approximately one million Muslims. The highest number of Jews is found in the 50-54 age group; the highest number of Muslims are found in the four-years-and-under category. By 2025, there will be Jews in Israel, and Jews in America, but not in many other places. Even as the legitimacy of a Jewish state is rejected, the Jewish diaspora -- the Jewish presence in the wider world -- will shrivel.

And then, to modify Richard Ingrams, who will dare not to damn Israel? There’ll still be a Holocaust Memorial Day, mainly for the pleasures it affords to chastise the new Nazis. As Anthony Lipmann, the Anglican son of an Auschwitz survivor, wrote in 2005: “When on 27 January I take my mother’s arm -- tattoo number A-25466 -- I will think not just of the crematoria and the cattle trucks but of Darfur, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Jenin, Fallujah.” Jenin?

Jenin, you will all recall, is the fake massacre that many accused Israeli forces (without a shred of evidence) of committing in April 2002, during an incursion into the West Bank called Operation Defensive Shield. Despite wild allegations that Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers wantonly slaughtered civilians and machine-gunned prisoners, bulldozed houses and entire apartment buildings with families inside, and tied Palestinians to the front of Israeli tanks as human shields (!), subsequent investigations by the United Nations and even Israel-hating Amnesty International debunked all the claims except two:

  • There was indeed a battle in Jenin; but it was between the IDF on the one hand and Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Yassir Arafat's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades on the other. Nearly everyone killed on both sides during the Battle of Jenin (and in the larger operation) was an armed soldier or militant.
  • When Israel took control of Jenin, they followed their longstanding and pretty effective policy of bulldozing houses of the families of suicide bombers -- but specifically, only those houses that had been granted to those families by the PLO or Fatah or Hamas (depending on the era) as a reward for the suicide bombing (eras may go and come, but Jew hatred abides).

Palestinian "leaders" hope to encourage even more suicide bombings, as sons kill themselves so that their fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters can live in a nice house that otherwise the bomber could never afford. By bulldozing such houses, Israel removes that incentive. Amnesty International, however, considers any bulldozing of "civilian" housing to be a "war crime," no matter the provenance of said house.

War crime it may be, in the technical sense. But to lump Jenin in with the real genocides in Darfur and Rwanda is utter madness, especially for a man whose mother is a Jewish Holocaust survivor. Perhaps when the sharia court comes to hang Mr. Lippman, he will lend them the rope, in an effort to show his "interfaith multiculturalism."

Israel is vitally important to the West not only because it's the Jewish homeland, not only because it's one of only two democracies in the Middle East (the other being the rather recently democratized nation of Iraq), but because Israel is a bellwether, the "canary in a coal mine" that previews what is to come for the rest of the non-Moslem world. As Israel goes, so goeth Dar al-Harb.

Israel is going -- going under for the second time, though not yet the third. An increasing portion of the world sees Israel as the greatest threat to world peace... not because anyone expects Israel to attack Antwerp or Brussels, but rather because the very existence of Israel so enrages Dar al-Islam (the "House of Peace") that they can think of nothing but war and bloody human sacrifice.

The non-American world (plus the Barack H. Obama administration) thinks of Israel as a threat to world peace because of how Moslems insist upon reacting to Israel: "Look what you made me do!"

And they see world peace arising from Israel's suicide as an act of spiritual propitiation, rendering it consistent for militant Moslems to allow everyone else to live in relative peace, as dhimmi, second-class citizens in a sharia state. Thus, secular leftists around the globe argue, we bring about world peace by joining in violent attacks upon the only peaceful culture in the most violent part of the world.

Welcome to the monkey house.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 7, 2009, at the time of 5:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 4, 2009

Silvestre the Prat

CIA CYA , Democratic Culture of Corruption , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX, 82%), has now sent a letter to the CIA apologizing for Congress' role anent the controversy over waterboarding and other "enhanced" interrogation techniques.

No, really; in his letter, he laments that the Intel Committee didn't run all interrogations more directly, instead leaving such vital functions to professionals who actually knew what they were doing:

"One important lesson to me from the CIA's interrogation operations involves congressional oversight," wrote Mr. Reyes, Texas Democrat. "I'm going to examine closely ways in which we can change the law to make our own oversight of CIA more meaningful; I want to move from mere notification to real discussion. Good oversight can lead to a partnership, and that's what I am looking to bring about."

The letter both seeks to excuse Democrats who were briefed after Sept. 11, 2001, about interrogation techniques such as waterboarding and at the same time suggests that members of Congress cleared to receive highly classified material have a responsibility in the future to let their criticisms be known.

I read this as saying, in effect, "Yes, I admit that we were partly to blame" -- wipes tear from eye -- "we should never have allowed the CIA to make intelligence decisions that we could easily have made in their place." One presumes that little bit of awkward permissiveness will be corrected henceforth, and Congress will assume much more aggressive and direct control of intelligence operations. "No more license for you, young man!" From now on, CIA Director Leon Panetta will sit quietly and wait for instructions from Congress before interrogating any captured man-caused disaster-causing men.

On the other hand, given Panetta's odd set of credentials for his job in the first place -- he was never in the CIA (or any other intelligence-related organization); and in his sixteen years in the House of Representatives, he never served on the Intelligence Committee -- perhaps it's just as well that Congress takes the lead role in this one instance.

(I am being a bit unfair to Director Panetta. It's true he had no formal participation in intelligence gathering or analysis whatsoever, unlike his predecessor, Michael Hayden -- who had a long and distinguished intelligence career before heading up the CIA, including stints running the Air Force's Air Intelligence Agency and working as an intelligence officer in Guam, being Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and running the National Security Agency. But on the third hand, Leon Panetta "has long been an advocate for the health of the world's oceans"... surely a distinction that Hayden cannot claim!)

On the fourth hand, House Intelligence Chair Reyes doesn't exactly come to the table with cleanly scrubbed paws; there is that slight, ah, faux pas he made when his pal, Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, 100%), assigned him that committee chairmanship over longtime ranking member and co-statist Jane Harman (D-CA, 100%): Asked by reporter Jeff Stein of the Congressional Quarterly whether al-Qaeda was primarily a Sunni or Shiite organization, Reyes -- who had sat on the House Intelligence Committee and Armed Services Committee for eight years or so -- answered thus:

"Al Qaeda, they have both,” he answered, adding: “Predominantly probably Shi’ite.”

In fact, Al Qaeda was founded by Usama bin Laden as a Sunni organisation and views Shia Muslims as heretics. The centuries-old now fuels the militias and death squads in Iraq.

Jeff Stein, a reporter for Congressional Quarterly, then put a similar question about Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia group. “Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah . . .” replied Mr Reyes. “Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?” Go ahead, said Stein. “Well, I, uh . . .” said the congressman.

On the fifth hand, another former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV, 94%), had his own small brush with destiny: When he was the ranking minority member (which the committee somewhat pompously calls the "committee vice chairman"), he appears to have been a target of a probe by the Justice Department about whether he and former fellow committee member then-Sen. Dick Durbin may have leaked classified information about a new spy-satellite program (including some of the satellite's weaknesses).

Though it's not certain who the probe targetted (we have not yet seen any results yet), the leak immediately followed and buttressed criticism by Rockefeller and Durbin on the floor of the Senate, and Durbin at least subsequently opined that the leak "points to a weakness of the whole process...[that] it takes a leak to understand that billions of taxpayers' dollars are being wasted that could be spent to make America safer."

And a few months earlier (hand number six), a mystery memo drifted out of Rockefeller's "vice chairman's" office in early November, 2003; it was a Democratic game-plan for politicizing an investigation on pre-Iraq war intelligence gathering, using the joint report -- and a planned exclusive minority report -- to campaign against President George W. Bush in 2004. The Wall Steet Journal editorialized on the case a couple of days later (link may require either a subscription or registration; I'm not sure):

Mr. Rockefeller refuses to denounce the memo, which he says was unauthorized and written by staffers. If that's the case, at the very least some heads ought to roll. A good place to start would be minority staff director Christopher Mellon, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence in the Clinton Administration.

But we'd say Republicans ought to go further and make this a matter of political consequence. After months of Democratic charges about the "politicization of intelligence" based on little or no evidence, this memo is smoking gun proof of precisely that. A referral to the Senate Ethics Committee seems in order, and we'd even suggest that the entire committee be shut down, cleaned out and reconstituted later, preferably after the next election.

This may seem like political shenanigans, but we've been here before as a nation. With the Church Committee purges of the 1970s, U.S. intelligence gathering was crippled for a generation, arguably right up through 9/11. Given the crucial importance of intelligence to the war on terror, the country can't afford a repeat Congressional performance.

Sen. Rockefeller still sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, evidently unscathed and unabashed by his earlier exploits. This history of congressional involvement in the collection, analysis, and management (including keeping secrets!) of vital classified intelligence should at least give the reader a moment's pause about whether expanding congressional control would actually improve matters.

The award for Howler of the Day (last Friday, May Day 2009) goes to the following exchange, from the Washington Times story about House Intelligence Chairman Reyes' letter:

Mike Delaney, staff director for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Mr. Reyes had not received complaints from the CIA about President Obama's decision last month to release Justice Department memos authorizing so-called enhanced interrogation and describing methods that Mr. Obama has banned.

"No, we've not received complaints from CIA work force," Mr. Delaney said. "CIA employees, in the chairman's experience, typically don't complain."

No, they make their displeasures known in more gracious, subtle ways: they leak classified information to blow the cover of operations they dislike, thus destroying their effectiveness.

It's tempting to simply say "a plague on both their houses" and be done with them. Alas, they're responsible for being the nation's eyes and ears. But has anyone looked into the possibility outsourcing the job to Israel's Mossad? They, at least, are run by professionals.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 4, 2009, at the time of 3:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 12, 2009

Time to Fish or Get Off the Pot

Iran Matters , Missile Muscle , North Korea Nastiness , Obama Nation , Russkie Resurgence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

While President Barack H. Obama tries to make up his mind how to respond to the Somalian pirates (the larger group, not just the ones who were holding Captain Richard Phillips hostage), he's not wasting any time... he's simultaneously dithering about how to respond to a Somalian Islamist "extremist" group, al-Shabab, that is allied with al-Qaeda. Neither dilemma appears close to resolution; in fact, the paralysis and refusal to use swift retaliatory force reminds me more and more of the 444 days of national humilitation in Jimmy Carter's first term in office.

His second term -- under his standby, Barack Obama -- seems no more decisive on the foreign-policy front than the first term, back in the late 1970s. This stands in bizarre contrast to Obama's firm resolve in his domestic agenda to remake America as a socialist country.

But why not launch a massive attack on the pirates in their lair, to punish them for having attacked an American vessel in the first place? We note with some interest that the entire "community" of Somalis in that modern-day Tortuga (the eighteenth-century pirate island) appears to be on the side of the pirates:

Talks to free [Capt. Phillips] began Thursday with the captain of the USS Bainbridge talking to the pirates under instruction from FBI hostage negotiators on board the U.S. destroyer. The pirates had threatened to kill Phillips if attacked....

Before Phillips was freed, a pirate who said he was associated with the gang that held Phillips, Ahmed Mohamed Nur, told The Associated Press that the pirates had reported that "helicopters continue to fly over their heads in the daylight and in the night they are under the focus of a spotlight from a warship."

He spoke by satellite phone from Harardhere, a port and pirate stronghold where a fisherman said helicopters flew over the town Sunday morning and a warship was looming on the horizon. The fisherman, Abdi Sheikh Muse, said that could be an indication the lifeboat may be near to shore.

The district commissioner of the central Mudug region said talks went on all day Saturday, with clan elders from his area talking by satellite telephone and through a translator with Americans, but collapsed late Saturday night.

"The negotiations between the elders and American officials have broken down. The reason is American officials wanted to arrest the pirates in Puntland and elders refused the arrest of the pirates," said the commissioner, Abdi Aziz Aw Yusuf. He said he organized initial contacts between the elders and the Americans.

Two other Somalis, one involved in the negotiations and another in contact with the pirates, also said the talks collapsed because of the U.S. insistence that the pirates be arrested and brought to justice.

Fine; then the "clan elders" of "the central Mudug region," which contains that "port and pirate stronghold" of Harardhere, are clearly not with us... they are with the pirates. So what is to stop us from launching a series of devastating retaliatory strikes against these strongholds? Nothing, evidently, but Barack Obama's infamous inability to make a decision. (This disability applies even to ongoing wars; in Iraq and Afghanistan, he simply decided not to decide, accepting the Bush doctrine in both theaters by default.)

In fact, Obama is so indecisive that he's not even sure he's ready to commit to criminal charges yet:

U.S. officials said a pirate who had been involved in negotiations to free Phillips but who was not on the lifeboat during the rescue was in military custody. FBI spokesman John Miller said that would change as the situation became "more of a criminal issue than a military issue."

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said prosecutors were looking at "evidence and other issues" to determine whether to bring a case in the United States. The pirate could face a life sentence if convicted, officials said.

Well, that will certainly put the fear of the Judeo-Christian God into Long John Somali!

But back to the problem of al-Shabab. It appears that Obama is not only unwilling to attack pirates, he's also unsure whether we should attack militant Islamist terrorists in Somalia; from the Washington Post article:

Al-Shabab, whose fighters have battled Ethiopian occupiers and the tenuous Somali government, poses a dilemma for the administration, according to several senior national security officials who outlined the debate only on the condition of anonymity.

The organization's rapid expansion, ties between its leaders and al-Qaeda, and the presence of Americans and Europeans in its camps have raised the question of whether a preemptive strike is warranted. Yet the group's objectives have thus far been domestic, and officials say that U.S. intelligence has no evidence it is planning attacks outside Somalia.

An attack against al-Shabab camps in southern Somalia would mark the administration's first military strike outside the Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan war zones. The White House discussions highlight the challenges facing the Obama team as it attempts to distance itself from the Bush administration, which conducted at least five military strikes in Somalia. The new administration is still defining its rationale for undertaking sensitive operations in countries where the United States is not at war.

Yes, that's a toughie that would stump even a leader as decisive as Carter, let alone our current President Hamlet; it's especially tough when the president acts as if there never was any discussion in the previous administration about the rationale for launching strikes against terrorists -- and when the most important criterion of the brand new Obamaic rationale is whether such an attack would make the current administration look too much like the Bush administration.

In the meantime, a decision must be made, and the clock is ticking: Do we attack a terrorist group allied with al-Qaeda, which runs terrorist training camps full of domestic and foreign Moloch worshippers (including Europeans and Americans, who could presumably fly under the radar into the United States), which is trying to violently overthrow the current Somali government that we helped install (by supporting the Ethiopian invasion that overthrew the previous, al-Qaeda-friendly government), because we have "no evidence it is planning attacks outside Somalia?"

Of course, neither did the Taliban; they isolated themselves, completely fixating upon Afghanistan and Pakistan. But they also leased their country to the demonic Ayman Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden, offering them safe haven from which they could launch the September 11th attacks, and aiding and abetting them in other, more tangible ways. Somalia looks ready to do exactly the same... for exactly the same group. And say what you will, bin Laden is not an isolationist.

I suppose the alternative course under consideration is to make it "more of a criminal issue" and "determine whether to bring a case in the United States." We might even file an indictment with the International Criminal Court at the Hague... though we'd probably have to agree to give them jurisdiction over American citizens as well.

(No matter -- the ICC's first action against Americans would doubtless be to put George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Douglas Feith, John Yoo, Mark Steyn, Rush Limbaugh, and a cast of thousands on trial for crimes against humanity, such as advocating war against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, spying on al-Qaeda without a world search warrant, and lowering taxes on the rich. What's not to like?)

What is the argument against striking at al-Shabab? Primarily that other countries in the world might object:

Some in the Defense Department have been frustrated by what they see as a failure to act. Many other national security officials say an ill-considered strike would have negative diplomatic and political consequences far beyond the Horn of Africa. Other options under consideration are increased financial pressure and diplomatic activity, including stepped-up efforts to resolve the larger political turmoil in Somalia.

That is, all those heads of government who praised Obama to the heavens at the G-20 might instead accuse him of being just like George Bush, and the president's self image would be shattered. Not that those same leaders respected him enough to acquiesce to any of the three major policies he wanted them to implement -- stronger sanctions against Iran and North Korea, stimulus spending, or enlarging the NATO commitment to Afghanistan; but at least they said really nice things about Obama personally.

The most recent discussion of the issue took place early this week, just before the unrelated seizure of a U.S. commercial ship in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates who [were] holding the American captain of the vessel hostage for ransom.

But are these two questions -- what to do about al-Shabab and what to do about the Somalian pirates -- truly "unrelated," as the Post declares? And even if they are discrete today, how long will they remain so? It stands to reason that terrorists, who oppose the new government of Somalia for being insufficiently Islamist, and pirates, who oppose it for cracking down on piracy, may very well make common cause against their shared enemy.

Barack Obama already fumbled his first test on foreign policy -- the debacle in London at the meeting of the G-20. He appears to have flunked on every measure except cordiality (the leaders all liked him as a person, so long as he kow-towed to China, Russia, the Arab countries, and Europe). I suggest that how we respond to the two Somalian threats represents Obama's first big military-policy test: If he cannot even muster up a military response to pirates and terrorists in the Horn of Africa, then how will he ever respond to the subtler but far deadlier perils of Iran's centrifuges, North Korea's missiles, the Palestinians' pratfalls, Red China's increasing economic dominance, and a resurgent "Soviet Union?"

The answer, I fear, will be even grimmer, and the damage even longer lasting, than his response to the economic crisis.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 12, 2009, at the time of 5:22 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

March 7, 2009

I'll Take Both A and B, Patterico

Beggar's Banking Banquet , Blogomania , Econ. 101 , Iraq Matters , Tax Attax , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Patterico published a post yesterday comparing two statements, one by Rush Limbaugh, the other by Huffington Post commentator Lee Stranahan. (Patterico titled his post "More on Limbaugh," ha ha.)

Patterico draws a parallel between the two statements -- not difficult, since Stranahan cooperated by deliberately crafting his to reflect Limbaugh's -- and our friend Patterico appears to believe he has scored a point by noting that both have the same structure (which was Stranahan's point anyway). Here's Patterico:

If I were a liberal, and if Stranahan had had a major national platform where the entire country was discussing his views, I’d want to tell him to find a different way to say what he said. Do you think it would help Democrat politicians to spend days answering questions like: “Do you also want the Iraq war to fail, like Lee Stranahan?” -- and have to spend time explaining to people that Stranahan didn’t really want soldiers to die? I’d tell Stranahan: You want to say you opposed Bush’s policies, great. Stop saying it in a way that makes it sound like you wanted troops to die. Yes, I know you don’t mean that. People will still think you do -- and frankly, you weren’t all that clear about saying you didn’t. You said it, but the implications of what you said could suggest to some that you might not have meant it....

Rush has had a major national platform where the entire country was discussing his views. As a result, I wish he’d find a different way to say what he said. I say to him: If you want to say you oppose Obama’s policies, great. Stop saying it in a way that makes it sound like you want Americans out of work. Yes, I know you don’t mean that. People will still think you do -- and frankly, you weren’t all that clear about saying you didn’t.

Anyone who bristles at hearing the phrase “You’re damn right I wanted the Iraq war to fail.” -- or who can imagine other Americans bristling at that line -- should understand what I’m saying.

I have a very different reaction than Patterico, however: I am offended by neither statement; neither makes me "bristle." I take each as a pronouncement of the core position of its speaker:

  • Rush Limbaugh wants Barack H. Obama's leftist revolution in America to fail utterly, even if that means many thousands of Americans are temporarily hurt economically; Limbaugh hopes and believes this will make America stronger, so that America will become once more the "shining city on a hill" that Ronald Reagan dubbed us, spreading American-style republicanism across the globe.
  • Stranahan wants America's military opposition to the militant Islamism of the Iran/al-Qaeda axis to fail utterly, even if that means many thousands of American soldiers are killed permanently; Stranahan hopes and believes this will make America weaker and more like a European country, so that internationalism will reign supreme and we have one-world government in the model of the United Nations.

What demarcates these polar-opposite worldviews is not the structure of their presentation but the substance of their philosophies; I ringingly endorse Limbaugh's and resoundingly reject Stranahan's.

I share Limbaugh's statement that he hopes Obama fails in his quest to remake America into a socialist state and remake the American citizen into the New Soviet Man... and I reject Stranahan's statement that he hopes the Iraq war fails to stop the tide of militant, fundamentalist Islamism, "jihadism," and terrorism from washing across the entire world, making America an international laughingstock and making it easier for his god, Barack Obama, to utterly transform us into antiAmerica.

I make no apology for being a partisan in that philosophical, political, and military conflict; and I'm astonished that Patterico doesn't see that we can defend Limbaugh's statement on its merits, and attack Stranahan's on its -- using as controversial language as we want -- without offending middle America or being in the least hypocritical: The two philosophies are substantively worlds apart, which is far more important to ordinary people than Stranahan's tendentiously crafted structural similarity.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 7, 2009, at the time of 12:07 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

February 20, 2009

Gitmo Litella-ville Blues: Obama Report Says... 'Never Mind!'

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Oh, please read this story in the New York Times titled "Guantánamo Meets Geneva Rules, Study Finds":

A Pentagon report requested by President Obama on the conditions at the Guantánamo Bay detention center concluded that the prison complies with the humane-treatment requirements of the Geneva Conventions.

All right; then what in bloody blue blazes were the skirt-hiking, chair-jumping Democrats shrieking about all these years?

"What's all this I hear about pioneers being tartared? Didn't our brave ancestors have enough trouble crossing the Alps in their covered wagons without being assaulted by a condiment? And why tartar sauce? It would be much more American to mustard them, or ketch them up, rather than using some fishy foreign sauce squeezed from a plastic packet! If we can't show some respect for our forty-niner forebears, then I don't know what --"

Now that the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility is Barack H. Obama's baby, it's anybody's game: The Pentagon can issue the same sort of report it routinely issued during the Bush administration; but that was then, this is now. Back during the tyranny of the chimp, such reports were routinely savaged, mocked, and made into exhibits in federal human-rights lawsuits. Today, they're simply accepted as more evidence of the fantastic job that the One is doing... look, he's only been president for a month, and already Gitmo is Geneva-clean!

As the great Emily Litella would say...

"Oh. Prisoners, not pioneers? And tortured, not tartared? That's very different."



Emily Litella

"Never mind!"

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 20, 2009, at the time of 10:19 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 17, 2009

Say, Let's Nuclearize the Taliban!

Pakistan Perplexities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Yesterday was a wonderful day in Pakistan... if you're a militant Islamist terrorist, that is. If you're a fan of civilization, however, it's a day of somber reflection for some -- and atonement for others.

Yesterday, the craven, new government of Pakistan signed a deal with the Taliban and al-Qaeda... this time handing Malakand over to them; the region includes the Swat Valley area of Pakistan, which used to be one of the nicest, calmest, and least violent tourist areas of that very troubled country:

Pakistan agreed Monday to suspend military offensives and impose Islamic law in part of the restive northwest, making a gesture it hopes will help calm the Taliban insurgency while rejecting Washington's call for tougher measures against militants.

A U.S. defense official called the deal "a negative development," and some Pakistani experts expressed skepticism the truce would decrease violence. One human rights activist said the accord was "a great surrender" to militants.

It has become increasingly clear that the endpoint of the current government's pathetic "war" against the Taliban -- which seems to be fought primarily using Obamic principles of defensive apology punctuated by frequent concession -- will be complete surrender to Mullah Omar, allowing the Taliban, having been kicked out of power in Afghanistan, to take over Pakistan instead... a nation that possesses actual functioning nuclear weapons.

It also possesses an actual functioning mad scientist: A.Q. Khan was just released from house arrest by the Islamabad High Court this month; Khan confessed to helping Libya, Iran, and North Korea's nuclear weapons programs by sending them centrifuges and other components for building nuclear bombs (he later recanted his confession, saying he misspoke). Khan is now free to travel about Pakistan or out of the country, and even to take control of the Pakistan nuclear program again, should the government decide to invite him back, either before or after they hand Pakistan over to the Taliban.

Why would Pakistan commit such a devastating act of appeasement against a group that is trying to violently seize control of the country itself? Because the government of Pakistan is increasingly afraid to fight for the country. As bad as Pervez Musharraf was, the new tag-team of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, both of the Pakistan Peoples Party (formerly led by Benazir Bhutto), and behind-the-scenes khan-maker Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) -- the "N" is for Nawaz -- is staggeringly worse. At least Musharraf actually fought against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, in between occasional "cease fires" allowing both sides to recover; the current government for the most part simply retreats.

And what did Pakistan get in return? They got a ten-day cease fire:

The Swat Taliban, which had said Sunday it would observe a 10-day cease-fire in support of the government's initiative, welcomed the deal.

"Our whole struggle is for the enforcement of Shariah law," Swat Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said. "If this really brings us the implementation of Shariah, we will fully cooperate with it."

Pakistan officials hasten to add that the form of sharia they offer isn't quite as extreme or cartoonish as what the same Taliban enforced in Afghanistan:

Hoti said the main changes to the legal system promised by the accord already are included in existing laws stipulating Islamic justice. But he said they would be implemented only after peace was restored in the valley. [Aha, hence the "10-day cease-fire"!]

Hoti said the laws, which allow for Muslim clerics to advise judges when hearing cases and the setting up of an Islamic appeals court, would ensure a much speedier and fairer justice system than the current system, which dates back to British colonial times.

The rules do not ban female education or contain other strict interpretations of Shariah that have been demanded by many members of the Taliban in Pakistan -- restrictions imposed by Afghanistan's Taliban regime that was ousted by the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001.

The rules do, however, strengthen "Islamic justice," where secular judges are "advised" by "Muslim clerics," and where such harsh penalties can also be decided by "Islamic appeals court" judges; thus, while the rules do not explicitly call for, e.g., stoning "adulterers" (including rape victims) and homosexuals to death, allowing "honor" killings, and banning music and dancing, they likely would allow individual judges to impose such sentences themselves. Certainly nobody has gone on record saying they wouldn't allow such grotesqueries.

There is a certain "the biter bitten" irony to this; Pakistan helped create the Taliban in the first place, hoping a fundamentalist Islamist Afghanistan would support Pakistan's struggle to seize the part of Kashmir that is still controlled by India, to join it to the part already controlled by Pakistan.

In fact, it was Benazir Bhutto herself who initiated that policy when she was prime minister in the 1990s. She was later assassinated by the Taliban's ally al-Qaeda. Today, the government that appeases the Taliban is led by her widower husband (and partner in corruption) President Zardari; by the party she used to lead, the Pakistan Peoples Party; and by her former ally in bringing down Musharraf (and later rival for the presidency), Nawaz Sharif. Thus the gratitude of the Taliban.

Perhaps this should give Pakistan a clue of how satisfied the Taliban and al-Qaeda will be by controlling but a few regions of that country and imposing only partial sharia law. I think it just barely possible that they will instead see Malakand and the Federally Administrered Tribal Areas as safe havens from which to launch increasingly savage and successful attacks on the rest of the country, until all of nuclear-armed Pakistan is in the hands of those terrorist groups.

Well, President Barack H. Obama -- what is your plan; do you still plan to launch a ground invasion of Pakistan?

"When I am president, we will wage the war that has to be won," he told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center in the District. He added, "The first step must be to get off the wrong battlefield in Iraq and take the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Do you have any specifics? Will you settle upon the Colin Powell approach, taking six months to build up a huge invasion force in the Indian portion of Kashmir? Have you any serious thoughts about the following issues:

  • Where we are to get those forces in the first place?
  • How we are to get India to allow them to march across their country to threaten all-out war with Pakistan?
  • Do you anticipate India will eagerly join the expedition to launch Armageddon between the two unfriendly neighbors?
  • How we are to support and supply them in the field?
  • What is the goal -- to conquer Pakistan?
  • What then... nation rebuilding? Do you have a plan for that?
  • How we should respond if the Islamists drop a nuke, which we know Pakistan has, on our expeditionary force? Should we nuke Islamabad in retaliation, a city with a population of 1.5 million, 4.5 million in the metro area?
  • Have you consulted with Gen. David Petraeus, who is the commander of CENTCOM? Or even offered him cookies?
  • Have you figured out how to sell to the American people a war that would utterly dwarf the Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined?

Afghanistan has 33 million people, Iraq has 25-30 million. Pakistan has a population of 173 million, three times the GDP of Afghanistan and Iraq combined, 1.4 million men in its military forces (including paramilitary and reserves, which would surely be activated in such a war), an air force of 523 combat aircraft (the entire United States has but 2,604)... and those pesky nukes.

If President Obama no longer wants to invade Pakistan, then is he willing to accept a nuclear nation controlled by al-Qaeda and the Taliban? If not -- then what is his plan? He doesn't seem to have commented. Or noticed.

In the meanwhile, Pakistani immigrants living in America -- some of them American citizens -- are being threatened, both directly and by proxy attacks against their families, into sending ransom and tribute to the Taliban and to cease protesting or organizing against terrorists... even to cease speaking about the subject right here in America.

But Zardari, Gilani, and Sharif are hoping the Islamist terrorists will be satisfied with sharia-lite in some areas of Pakistan, that the agreement will bring peace in our time. Well, perhaps; but if so, they would be the first fanatics ever to be bought off by partial appeasement. I think others are more foresighted (from the AP article above):

Critics asked why authorities were responding to the demands of a militant group that has waged a reign of terror [and has specifically fought to overthrow the Pakistan government, both under Musharraf and under Zardari, Gilani, and Sharif].

"This is simply a great surrender, a surrender to a handful of forces who work through rough justice and brute force," said Athar Minallah, a lawyer and civil rights activist. "Who will be accountable for those hundreds of people who have been massacred in Swat? And they go and recognize these forces as a political force. This is pathetic."

President Obama has proven himself an adept at Bush bashing, al-Arabiya kowtowing, and Ahmadinejad fawning. Now let's see him in action in the real world. We'll see if, like his hero Franklin Roosevelt, he excoriates his predecessor... then apes every one of his major policies -- but on steroids.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 17, 2009, at the time of 3:49 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

February 10, 2009

Al Qaeda's Army of Darkness

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Bill Roggio has a chilling report up at the Long War Journal about the resurgence of the "Shadow Army," comprising elements from al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and numerous other terrorist and paramilitary units. It has been allowed to fester not only in Pakistan but in Afghanistan as well; clearly we blundered in trusting NATO units to take on the fight in the latter country:

The Shadow Army is active primarily in Pakistan's tribal areas, the Northwest Frontier Province, and in eastern and southern Afghanistan, several US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.

The paramilitary force is well trained and equipped, and has successfully defeated the Pakistani Army in multiple engagements. Inside Pakistan, the Shadow Army has been active in successful Taliban campaigns in North and South Waziristan, Bajaur, Peshawar, Khyber, and Swat.

In Afghanistan, the Shadow Army has conducted operations against Coalition and Afghan forces in Kunar, Nuristan, Nangahar, Kabul, Logar, Wardak, Khost, Paktika, Paktia, Zabul, Ghazni, and Kandahar provinces.

"The Shadow Army has been instrumental in the Taliban's consolidation of power in Pakistan's tribal areas and in the Northwest Frontier Province," a senior intelligence official said. "They are also behind the Taliban's successes in eastern and southern Afghanistan. They are helping to pinch Kabul."

We first encountered the Shadow Army, then called Brigade 055, during the 2001 invasion; we destroyed it then, but aQ and the Taliban have resurrected and rebuilt the army until it is at least as good as it was pre-invasion (probably better):

The effectiveness of the Shadow Army can be seen in a video taken by an Al Jazeera reporter during an operation in Loisam in the Bajaur tribal agency in the fall of 2008 [see video at the Long War Journal blogpost]. The Taliban forces drive off a battalion-sized assault from regular Pakistani Army troops that are supported by at least a platoon of tanks. The Pakistani tanks are seen racing away from the fighting, and the Pakistani infantry moving in behind them does the same after taking fire. The reporter describes the Pakistani tank commander as "quite shaken." The tank commander calls for airstrikes to take out the Taliban positions, but the infantry and tanks go into full retreat and return to base after the Taliban counterattacks.

Will our new president have the guts to send those "30,000 American troops" into Afghanistan to fight? Or will they simply mill about to make it appear as though Barack H. Obama is "doing something," but in reality will be about as effective as we were during the hunt for Mohamed Farrah Aidid in Somalia?

I know Obama once talked about invading Pakistan, but that was when it was still our ally. I'm not at all convinced that he would be willing to invade Pakistan if it were taken over by the al-Qaeda/Taliban axis and became our enemy again.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 10, 2009, at the time of 4:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 29, 2009

Military Judge Shockingly Chooses to Follow Law, Not Obamic Decree

Injudicious Judiciary , Military Machinations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Military Judge Col. James Pohl decided to continue with the arraignment of Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri, accused of planning the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen in 2000, an attack that killed seventeen American sailors and wounded fifty.

Nashiri, one of the Big Three who was waterboarded, is about to be arraigned by a military commission at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. But President Barack H. Obama wants to personally "review" all 245 cases before allowing the George W. Bush policy of trying the detainees by military commissions to proceed. To that end, Obama signed an executive order calling for a delay of at least 120 days, while he decides whether to:

  1. Close the facility, drop all charges against everybody, and release all the terrorist detainees in the United States;
  2. Close the facility and rendite all the detainees to European allies -- who refuse to accept them;
  3. Or close the facility and transfer all the detainees to ordinary federal courts -- which will promptly order the feds to produce all classified data from the war on the Iran/al-Qaeda axis in open court, thus conveying it all to al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Jemaah Islamiya, and every other militant Islamist terrorist organization in the world... and when even the Obama administration refuses to do this, the civilian courts will dismiss all charges against each detainee, releasing them into the United States.

But bizarrely, Judge Col. Pohl has ruled that his military commission will follow the law, which mandates an arraignment hearing by a certain date, rather than Commander in Chief's the hastily drafted delay:

The government, Pohl wrote, sought a delay because if cases went ahead, the administration's review could "render moot any proceedings conducted during the review"; "necessitate re-litigation of issues"; or "produce legal consequences affecting options available to the Administration after completion of the review."

"The Commission is unaware of how conducting an arraignment would preclude any option by the administration," said Pohl in a written opinion, which was obtained by The Post. "Congress passed the military commissions act, which remains in effect. The Commission is bound by the law as it currently exists, not as it may change in the future."

How can mere law trump the pronunciamentos of the One We Have All Been Waiting For? What's the matter with that judge... didn't he get the memo?

The judges in 20 other military-commission cases that were set to proceed within the next 120 days have purportedly agreed to the postponement; Nashiri's is the only case where the judge denied the prosecutor's motion, at least so far. Now an ordinary reasonable person, one would imagine, would take the obvious compromise: accept the postponements of the other cases and order the prosecutor to proceed with the Nashiri case, as Col. Pohl ordered.

But the One is not to be thwarted or ignored. He is determined that Nashiri will not be arraigned during that period, and they're willing to use any means necessary to ensure that President Barack H. Obama, not Judge Col. James Pohl, wins this standoff:

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said at a briefing today that "this department will be in full compliance with the president's executive order. . . . And so while that executive order is in force and effect, trust me, there will be no proceedings continuing down at Gitmo with military commissions."

So where does that leave us? What means are necessary? I shall have to tell you what the Obama administration is considering, because you would not guess it in a thousand tries: They are looking into the prospect of withdrawing all charges against Nashiri; and then, 120 days from now, trying to refile them.

With the charges withdrawn, obviously Col. Pohl could not proceed. If they're able to refile the charges after the review period, Obama's advisors on military law evidently believe that the case can simply pick up again and proceed as normal. Or else maybe they would have to start all over again; but in any case, Obama will have asserted his authority and shown the military who is boss.

When military defense attorneys heard what was in the offing, some of them said they may force the administration to withdraw all charges against all detainees in Gitmo; I think what they are saying is that they would change their minds about stipulating to the postponement, thus forcing the hand of "the Pentagon official who approves charges and refers cases to trial."

That person is none other than Susan J. Crawford, of course, who came to our attention most recently when she flatly declared that at least one detainee in Guantanamo Bay had been "tortured;" she could not point to a single interrogation tactic that she would argue was torture itself; but she decided the concatenation of tactics bothered her delicate sensibilities:

You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge" to call it torture, she said.

She decided not to file charges against the detainee (Mohamed Mani Ahmad al-Kahtani, the "twentieth 9/11 hijacker") in that case. Of course, many, many other prisoners were interrogated using "a combination of things" and could claim it had "a medical impact" on them; thus, they, too, can claim they were "tortured" according to the unique, subjective, virtually iconoclastic standard set by the Pentagon's own convening authority. Thus, she had already set us up for the kill even before Obama's order.

If Crawford now withdraws the charges against Nashiri, and if the military defense attorneys follow through on their threat, Crawford will be caught between the Devil and a deep, blue, hard place:

  • On the one hand, if the defense obects to the postponement, many military judges may follow Pohl's lead and side with the defendant's right to a speedy trial, thus denying the prosecutors' motions;
  • On the other hand, Obama has issued marching orders to his staff that "there will be no proceedings" until the review period is up, no matter what.

This may leave Ms. Crawford with no option but to withdraw all charges against each detainee. But on the third hand, that path is also fraught with peril: If the arraignment is begun and the defendant pleads not guilty before Crawford can navigate the Pentagon labyrinth and formally withdraw the charges, then at least some defense experts claim that jeopardy attaches... and the Obama administration might not be allowed to reinstate the charges later.

At this point, the Supreme Court rulings of Hamdan and Boumediene, so eagerly praised and even sought by liberal Democrats such as Barack H. Obama, may rear up and bite the country hard. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 126 S. Ct. 2749 (2006), the Court held that it retained jurisdiction to hear habeas corpus filings under the law that created the first set of military commissions, created under the authority of the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005; it also struck those commissions down. The case was decided 5-3, with Chief Justice John Roberts recusing himself, as he had been on the appellate-court panel whose decision was under review by the Supreme Court; but considering his vote on the Boumediene case below, I suspect this would otherwise have been a 5-4 decision.

Then just last year, in Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. ___ (2008), the Court decided a straight-up habeas corpus case arising out of the second stab at military commissions, this time under the authority of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, enacted by the Republican-controlled Congress in October 2006 as a specific remedy for the problems the Court found with the first version of the commissions.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for yet another 5-4 decision, held that the prisoner did indeed have habeas rights; and further, that such rights could not be stripped by subsequent legislation unless that legislation included a "substitute" method for determining guilt that included, well, all the protections offered by the Constituition to defendants in civilian trials.

Therefore, I doubt that the Court as presently constituted (it won't get better with Obama making future appointments) will allow Susan Crawford or Barack Obama or anyone else to keep Nashiri and all the other detainees in indefinite detention if they have withdrawn the charges and are prevented by double-jeopardy from refiling them later.

I suspect the only remedy available in such a case will be the immediate release of all such prisoners... right here in the United States, since no other nation will likely take them. We can't even deport them, because they would clearly face execution and likely torture in their host countries -- and that violates the same section of the Geneva Conventions that so impressed the justices in the majority on both cases: John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, David Souter, Stephen Bryer, and of course the swing vote, Anthony Kennedy.

Oh well; that the way the cookie bounces when conservatives stay home and refuse to vote for a Republican Congress and president.

The only solution here will be for President Obama to suck it up and just allow the Nashiri case to proceed, ordering Crawford not to withdraw the charges against that detainee. Without the precedent of dropping the charges for one, the other defense attorneys won't have a snowball to stand on trying to force the withdrawal of charges in other cases. If they refuse to agree to the continuance, then those cases will also simply move forward.

So what are the odds that Obama will accept defeat on this issue, with the mild humiliation and political hit it will bring, rather than jeopardize the centerpiece of the defense against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis -- the detention and trial of terrorist murderers and conspirators? I suppose it depends upon which weighs more heavily in the president's mind: the good of the country or his own personal authority.

Yikes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 29, 2009, at the time of 6:43 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

December 28, 2008

Anyone Up for a Nice, Little Religious War - in Europe?

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Bosnia and Herzegovina, when it was part of Yugoslavia, was fairly secular (granted, it was also Communist). But since the horrific war there against Serbia, when Tito's "Yugoslavia" sundered and shivered into pieces that instantly began to gnaw on each other, Bosniak Moslems have veered in a dangerous direction. Fueled by the kindling of several new madrasas (built by our friends, the Saudis) and the recent introduction of "Islamic education" into kindergarten classes, Wahabbi Islamism is sweeping through Bosnia-Herzegovina:

Many here welcome the Muslim revival as a healthy assertion of identity in a multiethnic country where Muslims make up close to half the population.

But others warn of a growing culture clash between conservative Islam and Bosnia’s avowed secularism in an already fragile state.

Two months ago, men in hoods attacked participants at a gay festival in Sarajevo, dragging some people from vehicles and beating others while they chanted, “Kill the gays!” and “Allahu Akbar!” Eight people were injured.

Muslim religious leaders complained that the event, which coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, was a provocation [but what isn't?]. The organizers said they had sought to promote minority rights and meant no offense.

It's not surprising that Bosnian Moslems would respond to their newfound freedom from Communist thugocracy by embracing the forbidden religion of their forefathers; but Serbians had the same reaction, embracing a newly invigorated Christianity. As the Wahabbism and Salafism of their Moslem neighbors take increasingly militant liberties with other Bosnians' freedom of religion (or of secularism), clashes, both verbal and violent, are bound to increase.

Although Bosniak (48%) is the plurality ethnic group and Islam (40%) the plurality religion, in fact Serbs and Croats together form a 51.4% majority of Bosnians, while Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Catholicism account for 46% of citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Thus, being outnumbered and not in totalitarian control of the government, the militant Islamic faction of the Bosniaks feels insecure and "under siege." This of course drives them towards greater militancy and terrorism (but what doesn't?)

I believe we may be on the brink of a new Bosnian civil war, which might serendipitously test a pet proposition of mine: Passionate Christianity is a greater bulwark against militant Islamism than is enlightened Euro-secularlism, and its rise is indeed the only thing that might possibly defeat the so-called "jihadist" movement.

This falls under the rubric of "you can't fight something with nothing;" the standard liberal democracic "philosophy" of Europe is as close to nothing as one can find on this globe; while Christianity, strained and anemic as it may be in this post-Enlightenment, post-Renaissance age of science and sanity, is nevertheless a powerful belief system that (we all remember) united the Jews, the Greeks, and the Romans; conquered the Roman Empire; held sway over most of the known world; civilized the Vikings, the Celts, and other nomads of land and sea; and predates Islam by more than six centuries.

I think we'll find that the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be unable to cope with the rise of Saudi-funded extreme Islamism... but the Orthodox and Catholic populations will answer the call to arms. I also believe, perhaps paradoxically, that moderate, modern Moslems will find themselves more on the Orthodox-Catholic side than that of their own fanatical co-religionists, for the same reasons that Sunni Iraqis finally formed the "salvation councils" to rid themselves of their turbulent brothers.

I anticipate a salutory lesson on dealing with the worldwide rise of militant, violent, terrorist Islamism.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 28, 2008, at the time of 8:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 16, 2008

The Party of Pre-Americans

Econ. 101 , Elections , Immigration Immolations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

In today's topsy-turvy world, best described by Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland --

"Let the jury consider their verdict," the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first -- verdict afterwards."

-- I thought it best to present my conclusions first, then tuck all the boring explication and justification into the slither-on. This will make it easier for 95% of readers to skip the post entirely, and the remaining 8 to proceed to the argumentum already in a state fit to be tie-dyed.

Accordingly, I conclude that the Republican Party cannot survive as "the native-born American party." We have no option but to reach out to all those immigrants and children of immigrants who come here because they love America and what she stands for. Instead of discouraging or even stopping immigration, we must encourage it -- but only by the right people, those who come here anxious to assimilate, who already believe in American values, no matter where they were born. We need more, not less, immigration by folks who were already American in their hearts long before they immigrated here.

I call such folks "pre-Americans." If we don't want to repeat the same mistake with the rising population of Hispanics that we made with blacks, the Republican Party must become the party of pre-Americans. Here are the three main reasons I discover:

  • Without Hispanic votes, we are sunk as a viable party;
  • Without (pre-American) immigrants, we cannot survive economically;
  • Nor can we win the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis.

All else is dicta. Please read the dicta before raining katzenjammers on us in the comments section.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that my earlier prediction was correct: The anti-immigration hysteria of some putative "conservatives" during the 109th Congress, while the immigration-reform bill was under consideration, has so poisoned the well that we may never win another national election -- unless we act immediately to undo what a few prominent Republicans did.

I'll call them the Tancredistas, not because Tom Tancredo was the leader of the opposition (he wasn't), but because his anti-immigrant rage -- not simply anti-illegal immigrant, but anti-immigrant, period -- exemplifies all that is wrong with the GOP's approach to the subject. Angry opponents of what they were pleased to call "amnesty" often demanded a moratorium on all immigration; this went far beyond mere opposition to fence-jumping and cut right at the heart of America, which has always been a nation of immigrants.

Worse, whenever any pro-legal immigrationist wondered why the Tancredistas thought we needed to curtail all immigration, the stock answer was invariably that Hispanics "refused to assimilate," or even that it was impossible for Hispanics to assimilate. Sometimes Moslems were tossed into the mix as non-assimilationers, as well; but the Tancredistas never complained about non-assimilating Europeans or Canadians. Evidently, Italians and Albanians were quite willing and able -- just not Hispanics and Moslems. (I wondered aloud about immigrants from Spain, but no one rose to clarify.)

I am quite convinced that the number of out and out racists among the Tancredistas was always very, very small. Most in the anti-"amnesty" camp believe, in their hearts, that they're only opposed to illegality, to lawbreaking, to flouting our national borders.

Alas, even the non-racists adopted exclusionary language, phrases that could hardly be distinguished from those signs during Jim Crow that read "No dogs, Jews, or Coloreds allowed." This sort of cold, harsh language was frequently coupled with irrational arguments: A few La Raza activists parading through Los Angeles carrying Mexican flags and chanting "Aztlan!" were equated to the entire Hispanic population of the United States, for example; any method of regularizing illegals already living here was dubbed "amnesty," even if it involved punishment; and any call to reform the legal immigration system was rejected as "selling out to Ted Kennedy."

Tancredistas offered increasingly pugnacious counterproposals:

  • Closing the borders (that permanent "moratorium" on immigration)
  • Mass round-ups and deportations
  • Kicking "illegal" children out of school
  • And denying citizenship to the children of illegals, even if they were born in the United States

All of this energetic and frankly over-the-top anti-immigrant activism has convinced a great majority of American Hispanics, both immigrants and first- or second-generation native-born Americans, that the Republican Party hates them and wants to deport them all -- not just the illegals, but those here legally as well. I believe that most of those I'm labeling Tancredistas (let alone other Republicans) don't really want to deport legal Hispanic immigrants. But that's the way it comes across; and in politics, perception is just as important as reality.

Democrats constantly try to hang a label of racism on us; they hoot that the GOP cannot survive as "the white party." That's certainly true, but it's a vile smear, well befitting their general approach to life: "It's not how you play the game, it's whether you win -- and utterly destroy your opponent." I've never heard anybody inside the Republican Party suggest we should be "the white party."

But a more appropriate and accurate variation on that vile, racist, anti-GOP slander is also true: We cannot survive as "the native-born American party;" we must, must reach out to those who come here wanting to become Americans, those who come here anxious to assimilate, those who come here with American values, no matter where else they had the misfortune to be born. Let's call these folks, those who were already American in hearts and minds even before coming here, "pre-Americans": We must rebrand the Republican Party as "the party of pre-Americans." (Note, I'm not saying exclusively pre-Americans.)

Once our immigration laws become more rational, predictable, and fair, then and only then we can equate pre-Americans with legal immigrants. But our laws are neither rational nor predictable nor fair; they are arbitrary, capricious, and unjust to a staggering degree. (Their only virtue is that they're nowhere near as irrational, unpredictable, and unfair as those of every other nation on the planet.)

Thus, the first step in rebranding the GOP is for the GOP to unify behind a legal-immigration reform law -- which could be separate and distinct from a decision on what to do with illegal immigrants already here, about guest workers, and so forth. The sole purpose of the legal-immigration reform law should be to make the system:

  • Rational. Agents should decide who gets residency and citizenship on the basis of assimilability and American values, not irrational criteria such as country of origin or whether the applicant has a cousin with a green card.
  • Predictable. Applicants must know in advance how likely they are to gain residency or citizenship... and more important, what steps to take to increase their odds. Thus, those who really want to become Americans and are willing to work for it will have a clue what to do.
  • Fair. Agents must decide based upon the individual applicant, not some larger group over which he has no control and may disagree vehemently ("Sorry, we've already admitted our quota of PhDs; we're only admitting plumbers now"). They must also decide based upon known and published criteria that do not change from day to day, depending on which agent or office the immigrant happens to get.

Reform is a good first step, but it's not sufficient to woo back Hispanic Americans who feel betrayed by the GOP. In politics, it's not just what you say but how you say it. Too many Republicans picked an incredibly toxic way to argue against a plan they thought too generous towards illegal aliens... and the words they used convinced tens of millions of immigrants and children of immigrants that they were unwanted nuisances polluting the precious bodily fluids of the United States.

This reaction may be unfair; reality often is. However, given John S. McCain's dismal performance among Hispanics in November -- he was equated with the Tancredistas by a series of Spanish-language ads run by Obama, despite McCain being the leading Republican voice for immigration reform -- it's almost undeniable at this point that the GOP "brand" among Hispanics and other ethnically foreign populations within the country is more unpopular than New Coke.

Therefore, we not only must support significant reform of the legal immigration system, we must start to rebuild our relationship with, in particular, Hispanics. Having given them the impression we were spitting in their faces, we must now show regret for the intemperate language used and begin using much more inclusive language in the future.

There is no need to compromise on the fundamental requirement of controlling our borders; but we must finally recognize that most illegal immigrants are not "criminals," not in the commonly understood sense of a convenience-store robber or a carjacker. Most are simply responding irrationally to an irrational and unjust immigration system. Correct the system -- which we should do anyway for our own reasons -- and we'll see a huge drop in illegal entries, as those pre-Americans who rationally should be admitted are allowed in legally.

But it is important to show sympathy and support for those "huddled masses yearning to breath free" who desperately desire to become real Americans -- those that already have the distinctive American values and virtues. Instead of talking about a moratorium on immigration (which comes across as "There are too many of your sort here already"), we must say, in essence, "While it's important to enforce our territorial integrity, we understand that many folks see America as a 'shining city on a hill,' and we'll do everything in our party's power to open the gates to all those who are truly American at heart... no matter where they were born."

Then actually do it.

When the legal immigration procedure is more rational, predictable, and fair, the honest will use it rather than trying to swim the Rio Grande. With a much smaller rate of illegal border crossings, we could focus much more attention on those who still feel the need to sneak into the United States; likely, there is a very good reason why they cannot immigrate legally. And we would be able to use harsher, more authoritarian means to crack down, since (again) when the honest can enter honestly, only the dishonest persist in entering dishonestly.

Not only do Republicans (and the nation) need pre-American immigrants for economic reasons (they're far better for our country than "guest workers" who feel no affiliation or affinity with the United States), but they would also benefit and strengthen American borg culture, as has every other wave of immigration. American immigration has always been another example, besides Capitalism, of the "creative destruction" that signals a nation rising, rather than the cultural stagnation that betokens a nation in decline. And that's something we desperately need, as we're engaged in a true Kulturkampf (and I don't mean against American liberals).

We're at war with a vicious culture that worships a murder-totem who demands endless human sacrifices; that militant Islamist culture wants to overwhelm the West and institute so-called "sharia" law, enslaving both Christendom and the rest of Islam to its bloodthirsty death cult. All Western, Judeo-Christian and anti-militant Moslem cultures must join forces to defeat the Moloch worshippers.

We cannot retreat into ethnic enclaves and still win that war. Yes, admitting massive numbers of pre-American Hispanics will change American culture... just as did admitting massive numbers of Russians, Poles, Chinese, Irish, Catholics, Jews, and of course Africans. Allowing anyone other than British Anglicans or German Lutherans, the dominant groups when the country was founded, to become American necessarily changed American culture.

But there's nothing inherently wrong with changing American culture; what matters is how it's changed. And there is nothing within traditional Latin-American culture that's incompatible with the deepest American values; it's not like admitting tens of millions of Ayatollah-Khomeini followers. If anything, Latin-American values of work, family, and entrepeneurship are a perfect compliment to the corresponding Republican (and American) values.

The same could have been said of black values back before the civil-rights era... and had we taken the route of eliminating institutionalize state racism, empowering individuals through Capitalism and home-ownership, and raising victims of discrimination up to meet the universal standards (instead of lowering the standards to make it easier for the class of all blacks to exceed them), then I believe we would have a black voting population today that cast its individual votes on the basis of individual opinion, instead of a black voting population that is wholly captive to a single party -- one that does not have the best interests of individual black families at heart.

Ergo, if we don't want to repeat the same mistake with the rising population of Hispanics, the Republican Party must become the party of pre-Americans. I reiterate the three reasons, in increasing order of importance:

  • Because without Hispanic votes, we cannot survive as a viable American political party;
  • Because without pre-American immigrants, we cannot survive economically;
  • Because without pre-American immigrants, we cannot win the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis.

It's long past time to swallow our pride and accept the inevitable: There are going to be millions of Latin American immigrants into the United States annually for the forseeable future. The only question is whether they come in through the gate or over the fence... and whether we make it easy for the law-abiding and hard for the bad guys by reforming our broken system -- or do nothing, leaving it equally easy for everyone, righteous or rotten, to enter anywhere and everywhere.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 16, 2008, at the time of 8:25 PM | Comments (41) | TrackBack

December 1, 2008

Puzzle Solved!

Gun Rights and Occasional Wrongs , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

My favorite blogger just put up a post on my favorite blog; he quoted from an AP story on the appalling ineptitude of the Indian security forces during the terrorist siege -- where ten men held an entire city of 19 million souls hostage.

Some choice quotes:

As more details of the response to the attack emerged, a picture formed of woefully unprepared security forces. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised to strengthen maritime and air security and look into creating a new federal investigative agency - even as some analysts doubted fundamental change was possible.

"These guys could do it next week again in Mumbai and our responses would be exactly the same," said Ajai Sahni, head of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management who has close ties to India's police and intelligence....

Bapu Thombre, assistant commissioner with the Mumbai railway police, said the police were armed mainly with batons or World War I-era rifles and spread out across the station.

"They are not trained to respond to major attacks," he said.

The gunmen continued their rampage outside the station. They eventually ambushed a police van, killed five officers inside -- including the city's counterterrorism chief -- and hijacked the vehicle as two wounded officers lay bleeding in the back seat.

"The way Mumbai police handled the situation, they were not combat ready," said Jimmy Katrak, a security consultant. "You don't need the Indian army to neutralize eight to nine people."

Constable Arun Jadhav, one of the wounded policemen, said the men laughed when they noticed the dead officers wore bulletproof vests....

Even the commandos lacked the proper equipment, including night vision goggles and thermal sensors that would have allowed them to locate the hostages and gunmen inside the buildings, Sahni said.... [Ajai Sahni is "head of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management who has close ties to India's police and intelligence."]

The slow pace of the operations made it appear that the commandos' main goal was to stay safe, Hefetz said. [Assaf Hefetz is "a former Israeli police commissioner who created the country's police anti-terror unit three decades ago."]

To which John appends his own bafflement:

In view of the number of terrorist attacks India has suffered, its failure to be more prepared is puzzling.

Well, perhaps the puzzle is more solvable than at first it appears. Of course the Indian authorities failed to be prepared for any sort of resistance: They relied upon India's extensive and draconian gun-control laws.

For what they proved worth.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 1, 2008, at the time of 3:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 28, 2008

Two Steps Forward, One Tantrum Back

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

In the last few days, we have enjoyed two stunning successes over the militant Islamist terrorist axis that has spread like a contagion around the globe for near a century now -- particularly noticibly since 1979. And as horrific as they were, the attacks in Bombay yesterday were really no setback to the increasingly successful campaign of quashing the Islamist death cult at the back of the seemingly random violence.

First, the victories:

  • Yesterday, the Iraqi parliament overwhelmingly (75%) gave final approval to the U.S.-Iraq security pact, allowing American and Coalition forces to remain in Iraq until January 1st, 2012.

While the current pact requires us to leave then, three years is a long time; as Iraqis grow more comfortable with an American presence that does not, in fact, run their country or police their nation, they may well be open to permanent American bases there (it's good for their national security and their economy, especially with oil prices plummeting).

But in any event, for at least three years, neither Iran nor Syria will dare invade Iraq directly, knowing that this would force the hand of even the most left-liberal of Obamatons.

  • And on the domestic front, four days ago, the Holy Land Foundation was convicted on all charges of aiding, abetting, supporting, and fostering Islamist terrorism, mostly Hamas.

The HLF "charity" has now been proved in a federal court of law to be nothing but a terrorist front organization. It has been supported by numerous other American and European Islamic groups, including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which are now themselves in the legal crosshairs. This decision will have an even greater impact over the long war than the decision by Iraq's parliament allowing our forces to remain in situ for a few more years.

The HLF verdict will have very significant fallout for the quasi-legitimate enablers of terrorism, without which terrorist insurgencies necessarily fail. Most important, it gives us a legal opening to go after other terrorist front groups, like CAIR: Having had extensive and intertwining financial connections with the HLF -- now proven to have been a terrorist financing, supporting, and enabling organization -- these other groups stand in legal jeopardy themselves; all that needs proving is that they knew with whom and with what they collaborated, which should not be that difficult an argument to sustain.

A Barack H. Obama administration should be overjoyed to prosecute group after group, since it gives them the opportunity to fight the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis the way they want to do... in the courts!

But it also sets a precedent that even the most spineless Western ally can follow: Follow the money. Now we see the extraordinarily folly of the New York Times "outing" the SWIFT Terrorist Finance Tracking Program. Like everything else in the modern world, international terrorism is very expensive. It's not inherently a moneymaking enterprise; straight robbery and kidnapping for ransom produce only a very tiny portion of their funds. World-wide terrorist attacks depend upon financial and logistical support from, e.g., the government of Iran and individual wealthy Saudis, willing or un-, from non-terrorist supporters of terrorism.

This why we took out Saddam Hussein: Not to steal Iraq's oil, not to "liberate" Iraqis, but to remove the government that was, in 2003, the second biggest supporter of Islamist terrorism (Iran was probably the biggest).

Military force is one way to go after terrorist enablers, but another way is to dry up their funds through legal action. Funding requires banks and other financial institutions; banks must necessarily leave a huge footprint on world financial institutions (they cannot be completely invisible, as a terrorist organization strives for), and this extrusion into the civilized world gives us a handhold by which we can grab them and shake.

Too, even the most terrorist-enabling banks have other concerns besides financing Hamas and PIJ; that is, they have a lot to lose -- so are much more easily intimidated or frightened away than a terrorist bomber who expects to die in the holocaust he causes. Simply put, attacking terrorism by filing criminal cases against its semi-legitimate financial and logistical enablers is an extremely effective (and non-military) strategy; in the elite media's rampaging BDS, they attacked one of the few anti-axis programs that would meet with liberal Democratic approval.

Filing many court cases against Islamist terrorist enablers, to be tried in the ordinary civilian court system, would be right up the Obama adminstration's sleeve -- or even John Kerry's! -- and it would actually be extremely effective, to boot. This is win-win for the incoming "office of the President Elect," and I very much hope that he realizes his opportunity.

Now, to the disastrous attack yesterday in Bombay: While it is of course devastating to everyone personally involved, the reality is that, if it has any effect at all on India's tactics against Sunni terrorism, it will be to intensify and redouble its efforts against the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and related death cultists in Pakistan, China, and India.

It's hardly a shock; many people don't realize that India has the second third largest Moslem population of any country in the world, and the largest Moslem population of any non-Moslem dominated country. [Doh! When I first wrote this, I completely forgot about Indonesia. Yeesh.] Indonesia has the largest population, at 204 million Moslems; Pakistan is second and India third -- but just barely. Although only 13.4% of the Indian population is Moslem, according to the CIA World Fact Book, India's 1.1 billion population yields about 154 million Moslems (larger than the entire population of all but a few countries on earth)... compared to 164 million in Pakistan, which is 95% Moslem.

With such a staggering number of Moslems in a Hindu-majority country, the sad fact is that mass terrorism is a fact of life. It's typically confined to the "disputed" southern region of Kashmir -- the only dispute is that India possesses it and Pakistan wants it -- but Sunni terrorists from India and Pakistan have struck in nearly every large Indian city in recent years. This latest attack is similar in casualties, though larger in scope, to some of the train bombings in the last decade... to be fair, on both sides (though I believe that Moslems are still driving the lion's share of the conflict). It seems large to us because we don't often hear much about the violence in India that has been ubiquitous for centuries before India and Pakistan separated in 1947.

The two countries fought actual wars over Kashmir in 1947, 1965, and 1971; and terrorism is omnipresent. I just don't see that the Bombay attacks could possibly result in, say, India giving up their portion of Kashmir: The land was divvied up between India and Pakistan during the partition; and in the 1950s, China grabbed a chunk of Kashmir in the Northeast. Nothing that happened yesterday is going to change that.

Nor does the current, quasi-democratic government of Pakistan have any intention of fighting another war with India... particularly since both nations have nuclear weapons. In the history of the nuclear age, no two nuclear-armed countries have ever fought a direct war with each other, though "proxy wars" have been frequent. India and Pakistan obviously share a border; the temptation for the loser in such a war, fearing being overrun, to resort to the nukes is so great that I cannot imagine either nation deciding to roll the bones.

So the attacks were really nothing more than a horrible, murderous temper tantrum by the Islamists... or, as I prefer to see it, a mass human sacrifice by an Islamic death cult... senseless, futile, and ritualistic.

Thus, the last week has seen two giant strides forward against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis, tainted only by a vile immolation of innocents by the modern-day equivalent of Moloch worship. No matter how one works the accounts, this has been a very, very good week in the clash between civilization and utter barbarity.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 28, 2008, at the time of 1:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 20, 2008

I Scream Napolitano

Obama Nation , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

I start reading through the AP newswire, and the first thing I see is that Barack H. Obama's "top contender" for Secretary of Homeland Security is -- Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano?



Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano cabinet post within grasp

Has the President-Erect gone barking mad? What in the world remotely qualifies her to assume the second most important cabinet position in the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda axis? Oh, wait; perhaps it's somewhere on this list:

  • Anita Hill's attorney during the Clarence Thomas lynching;
  • Former U.S. Attorney -- in Arizona;
  • Former Attorney General of Arizona;
  • First female governor elected to follow another female governor;
  • First female governor to be re-elected;
  • Would be first female Secretary of Homeland Security;
  • Would be first sexually ambiguous Secretary of Homeland Security;
  • Endorsed Barack Obama for president during the primaries and joined his transition team.
  • Strongly opposes security fence along U.S.-Mexico border;

For some reason, one of these career highlights jumps out at me as likely the most important qualification of all. Can anyone quess which? I am shocked, but not surprised, to discover that Obama considers the Secretary of Homeland Security to be a sinecure to be bestowed upon an early supporter, like ambassador to Luxembourg.

Looking back, there were two previously confirmed Secretaries of Homeland Security and one acting secretary:

  1. Tom Ridge, first Secretary 2003-2005: Combat veteran of Vietnam and Assistant to the President for Homeland Security from 2001–2003.
  2. James Loy, acting Secretary 2005: Admiral in the United States Coast Guard; 21st Commandant of the Coast Guard; Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration; Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security.
  3. Michael Chertoff, Secretary 2005-2009 (est): Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the Justice Department; led the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui; crafted much of the "legal war" against al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist organizations; authored much of the USA-PATRIOT Act of 2001.

To this list, perhaps we shall shortly add...

  1. Janet Napolitano, Secretary 2009-?: Endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, soon to be her fellow cabinet secretary.

Add this one to the list of Obamappointments that already includes Attorney General Eric "September 10th" Holder, Secretary of State Hillary "Climber" Clinton, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom "DaschilleryCare" Daschle, and I think we have a very clear -- and disturbing -- vision of the upcoming administration: a return to treating terrorism as just another crime, like carjacking or credit-card fraud; the re-erection of the wall of separation between intelligence and law enforcement; a return to Clintonian, September-10th foreign policy; and the resurrection of the slain hydra of universal socialized medicine (should've cauterized those stumps).

Perhaps if we're lucky, Treasury Secretary Barney Frank, Education Secretary William Ayres, and Energy Secretary Ralph Nader will join the crowd.

Is "forward to the past" the sort of change we want to believe in?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 20, 2008, at the time of 10:25 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 4, 2008

Hamdan's Lawyer Admits Client Was Deep in al-Qaeda

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

I consider this story to be a rather stunning admission against interest -- or at least against the interests of those who have steadfastly proclaimed the innocence of Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s driver and the poster-boy for al-Qaeda suspects held "without charge" at the Guantanamo Bay military detention facility (where "without charge" has that special meaning of "without charges in an American civilian courtroom; and we ignore any charges made by military prosecutors at military tribunals, because the corrupt and incompetent Bushies just made that all up.")

During closing arguments at Hamdan's trial before a military tribunal, his lawyer, LTCDR Brian Mizer, has asked for leniency for his client because, he claims, Hamdan told military and CIA interrogators much valuable information... not only about bin Laden's whereabouts, but also details about specific al-Qaeda plots.

This rather undercuts the idea that Hamdan is but an innocent chauffeur caught up in the overly broad fishnet of post-9/11 hysteria:

Secret evidence at the war crimes-trial of Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s driver, showed that Mr. Hamdan offered “critical details” to American forces “when it mattered most” in 2001, a defense lawyer said on Monday, during closing arguments at the first war crimes trial here....

It had previously been clear from testimony given at public sessions of the trial that Mr. Hamdan cooperated with his captors, providing detailed information about possible locations of Mr. bin Laden and even leading them on a tour of some of Mr. bin Laden’s homes and training camps in Afghanistan.

It was disclosed publicly during the trial that Mr. Hamdan had told interrogators about the role that a senior Al Qaeda operative, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, played in the 2000 attack on an American destroyer, the U.S.S. Cole, in which 17 sailors were killed.

Hamdan could have known bin Laden's haunts and hangouts simply by being his otherwise innocent driver; but nobody has ever suggested that Osama bin Laden was a chatterbox who liked to discuss details of terrorist operations with every Mohammed, Achmed, or Salim underling wandering about. Hamdan could only have known this information by being significantly higher up the totem pole than a mere "driver."

So evidently, even Hamdan's own lawyer admits that Hamdan was deep enough in the conspiracy to know details about previous al-Qaeda operations, including Nashiri's bombing of the USS Cole. Not only that, but during the time he was held "without charge," he was providing valuable information that helped us towards victory in the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda Axis... according to his own defense team.

So let us have no more moaning at the bar about all those innocent farmers, goat herders, and luxury chauffeurs, like Salim Hamdan, swept up by "mistake" and held "indefinitely" for "no reason whatsoever."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 4, 2008, at the time of 2:50 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 3, 2008

Supreme Sunshine Scenario

Constitutional Maunderings , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Maybe I'm slow (shut up, you in the back), but this just occurred to me...

If John S. McCain wins in November, then he will get to appoint at least one, possibly as many as three Supreme Court justices; the odds are that John Paul Stevens (who will be 89 years old when the next president is sworn at) will have to retire, as well as Ruth Bader Ginsburg (she will turn 76 a couple of months into the new term). Antonin Scalia will turn 73 about the same time Ginsburg has her birthday; and even Anthony Kennedy is in his seventies.

If McCain names someone like John Roberts or Samuel Alito to replace Stevens or Ginsburg, the nominee would be hard to filibuster in the Senate. It's one thing (and already upsetting to millions of American voters) to prevent an appellate-court nominee from getting an up-or-down vote.

But to prevent a vote on a Supreme Court nominee and leave the Court in a state where every controversial case ends in a 4-4 split, would be so brazenly politicizing that it would anger even centrist Democrats. Republicans would romp in the 2010 elections.

Yet absent a filibuster, a new Roberts or Alito has a very good chance of winning -- if not when named, then after the next congressional election. Again, ordinary American voters have a distaste for senators who openly oppose a Supreme Court nominee for obviously political reasons.

So what happens if we can get another Roberts on the bench? One intriguing idea is this: The very next time the Court hears a case that hinges on granting habeas corpus rights to enemy combatants captured and held abroad, it's entirely possible that the new Court will simply reverse the previous Court's Boumediene.

Why not? Which of the four dissenting justices -- Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Roberts, or Alito -- is going to flip over to counteract the new justice's vote to overturn? Kennedy will no longer be the "swing vote," because there will be a solid, 5-justice majority of judicial conservatives.

Certainly liberals are not going to get very far screaming about stare decisis -- the general bias courts should have against radically changing the law by court decision -- because the obvious rejoinder is that that is exactly what the Court did in Boumediene in the first place: It created a brand, new "right" out of thin air. In addition, it will only have been law for a couple of controversial, strife-filled years, hence not yet embroidered into the fabric of American society; and it will already have proven to be unworkable in the real world.

I think it would be an easy call. Justice Kennedy can write the dissenting opinion, if he wants.

So this may not be the catastrophe we all fear... if John McCain beats Barack H. Obama. Contrariwise, if we send B.O. to the White House, the Court will become even more noisome.

Think a second time, conservatives.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 3, 2008, at the time of 8:17 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

July 1, 2008

The New "Fairness" Doctrine

Constitutional Maunderings , Crime and Punishment , Iraq Matters , Military Machinations , Terrorism Intelligence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd
Why civilian judges have no business ruling on Gitmo cases...
and why Patterico, with the best of intentions, got it so wrong
.

Patterico has been scathing in his denunciation of the Bush administration and the Pentagon for how they conduct the military tribunals. Back in December, he dubbed the tribunals at Guantanamo Bay "Kafkaesque," saying "they just don’t seem fair." He concludes:

But I do know that the procedures in place now just don’t seem fair. If you can’t find out what evidence the Government has against you; if you can’t present your own evidence; if you are arguing to a tribunal that is told to presume that the Government’s position is correct . . . that’s not fair. It runs a real risk of causing us to hold people who are innocent.

There has to be a better way.

Then today, he crows, or perhaps "views with alarm," that a D.C. circus panel threw out the first enemy-combatant classification by the Pentagon of a detainee:

Add this to the Kafkaseque nature of the tribunals process, which has forced detainees to respond to secret evidence, together with the criticism by a former chief prosecutor that the Administration was rigging trials there to ensure convictions, and the picture is not pretty.

So why do I disagree with Patterico, and why do I think he has gone terribly awry? Consider the last line of his earlier post. The real question here is the very one Patterico begs: "There has to be a better way"... to do -- what?

What's all this then?

"Well there's yer problem, right there!"

Those three judges, the "former chief prosecutor" (Air Force Col. Morris Davis), and Patterico all see these Commission hearings as fundamentally judicial. It's not unreasonable to draw that conclusion, since the result is that those found to be unlawful enemy combatants would be held for periods of time up to life -- and could even be executed.

But reasonable does not mean right... and this conclusion is fundamentally wrong: These hearings are not judicial, nor is their primary purpose justice or punishment; they are military hearings to determine if a detainee is dangerous to the United States.

That is why questions of "fairness" are inappropriate. Fairness is a valid, even vital concern in Patterico's line of work as a deputy district attorney. In civilian trials in civilian courts, the most important underlying issue is justice (of which fairness is an essential component). Practically, the most important question litigated is whether the State has proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, by admissible evidence, that the defendant is guilty of the crimes charged.

But military commissions' most important underlying issue is the same as that of every other branch of the military: victory over our enemies. That means safeguarding American citizens and lawful residents and protecting us from international bad guys. Fairness has nothing to do with it.

  • Is it "fair" to bomb a factory during wartime, knowing that at least some of those killed may oppose the war and only be working there under duress, or even as slave labor?
  • Is it "fair" to imprison a captured enemy soldier for years, even if he is a draftee?
  • Is it "fair" to fire upon enemy combatants, even knowing they are using innocent "human shields," who will necessarily be killed as well?

None of these is in any way fair to the innocents (or at least non-guiltys) involved. But in none of these cases is "fairness" the central concern. If any "crime" was committed, it's a war crime; and the prosecution of war crimes is primarily intended to deter our enemies from doing such things in the future, not to bring about abstract justice for acts in the past. For this reason, war-crimes tribunals traditionally grant many fewer "rights" to the accused than are found in civilian trials of ordinary criminals conducted by those same countries.

In the three cases directly above, Patterico would have no difficulty agreeing with me that we cannot invoke abstract "fairness" to refuse to fight in any situation where innocents might be harmed. On the battlefield, nobody except a pacifist absolutist would be so confused; and Patterico is not a lunatic pacifist by any stretch of rhetoric.

But when the military action shifts from the battlefield to a military commission or tribunal, it superficially resembles a courtroom; "counsels" present "evidence" while a (military) "judge" presides. And that is when those who have spent their lifetimes doing yeoman work within the civilian court system, trying to make America a safer and better place, seem to become befuddled. We see this from Patterico to the D.C. Circus to the Supreme Court's Boumediene decision.

It's said that to a carpenter, every problem looks like a nail, and every solution looks like a hammer. To a heart surgeon, every problem looks like a bad coronary artery and every solution looks like a scalpel. And to a lawyer, even many military lawyers, every problem looks like a crime, and every solution looks like a court trial.

Every objection seems to flow from this single, faulty conceptualization of what these commissions are and what they're supposed to do. For example, what about that charge that the commissions are "rigged" against the detainees?

This bloody fight's been rigged!

Col. Davis bases his accusation on three issues: a lack of "openness" at the commission hearings; the use of classified information that neither the detainee nor his counsel is allowed to see (which "could taint the trials in the eyes of international observers"); and that, as the Nation put it in an interview with Davis, "the process has been manipulated by Administration appointees to foreclose the possibility of acquittal."

The piece in that leftist magazine begins thus -- and here is the same misunderstanding, this time flashing in neon letters the size of the Hollywood sign:

Secret evidence. Denial of habeas corpus. Evidence obtained by waterboarding. Indefinite detention. The litany of complaints about the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay is long, disturbing and by now familiar. Nonetheless, a new wave of shock and criticism greeted the Pentagon's announcement on February 11 that it was charging six Guantánamo detainees, including alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, with war crimes--and seeking the death penalty for all of them.

In the piece, Col. Davis lobs the allegation that Pentagon general counsel William Haynes demanded the tribunals produce nothing but convictions:

When asked if he thought the men at Guantánamo could receive a fair trial, Davis provided the following account of an August 2005 meeting he had with Pentagon general counsel William Haynes--the man who now oversees the tribunal process for the Defense Department.

"[Haynes] said these trials will be the Nuremberg of our time," recalled Davis, referring to the Nazi tribunals in 1945, considered the model of procedural rights in the prosecution of war crimes. In response, Davis said he noted that at Nuremberg there had been some acquittals, which had lent great credibility to the proceedings.

"I said to him that if we come up short and there are some acquittals in our cases, it will at least validate the process," Davis continued. "At which point, [Haynes's] eyes got wide and he said, 'Wait a minute, we can't have acquittals. If we've been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can't have acquittals. We've got to have convictions.'"

First, I am rather skeptical that Haynes said exactly this. Was Col. Davis literally transcribing the conversation while it was in progress? Or is this his reconstruction of the conversation days, weeks, or perhaps two and a half years later? Is this exactly what Haynes said, or is this Davis' tendentious confabulation, based upon his appalled reaction to what he thought Haynes meant?

But let's leave this question aside... despite the fact that it cuts to the fundamental "fairness" of the accusation. How can Davis be unaware of the fact that earlier commissions conducted by the same Pentagon, taking place at the same Guantanamo Bay, managed to release hundreds of detainees from custody... including some who went right out and committed terrorist acts?

Finally, I truly question Col. Davis' historical understanding of war-crimes tribunals if he unfavorably compares the "fairness" of the military commission hearings today with the Nuremberg trials after World War II... considering that far fewer accused Nazis were "acquitted" than terrorist suspects have already been freed from Guantanamo, and the accused Nazis in 1945 had far fewer "rights" than the Military Commissions Act of 2006 gave to the detainees in Guantanamo Bay... even before the Boumediene decision.

To me, it sounds as if Davis is repeating at least one absurdist Democratic Party talking point, regardless of how many others he rejects. The viral meme "MCAs are nothing like the fair and just Nuremberg trials" can be "caught" by anyone whose mind is rendered susceptible by overly legalistic thinking.

The allegation that the system is "rigged" against acquittals is silly, because it has already acquitted hundreds; it betrays Davis' conclusion that these hearings just aren't "fair" to the "accused."

“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble,… “the law is a ass -- a idiot."

In the New York Times article that sparked Patterico's post today, we discover that the D.C. Circuit panel threw out the Pentagon finding against Huzaifa Parhat, an Uighur Moslem from China, because the classified intelligence against him was not as specific and credible as one would demand in a civilian criminal trial:

Pentagon officials have claimed that the Uighurs at Guantánamo were "affiliated" with a Uighur resistance group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, and that it, in turn, was "associated" with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The ruling released Monday overturned the Pentagon’s finding after a 2004 hearing that Mr. Parhat was an enemy combatant based on that affiliation. He and the 16 other Uighurs were detained after the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The court said the classified evidence supporting the Pentagon’s claims included assertions that events had "reportedly" occurred and that the connections were "said to" exist, without providing information about the source of such information.

"Those bare facts," the decision said, "cannot sustain the determination that Parhat is an enemy combatant."

But "those bare facts" are all that we ever get from intelligence operations! That is precisely the reason why civilian courts have no business making the determination whether a person detained is truly an enemy combatant... because the standard demanded by a civilian court for a civilian criminal conviction is virtually impossible to meet in the context of terrorists picked up because of intelligence.

(For one major point, because terrorism is so incredibly destructive, we try to grab them before they carry out their schemes... which means, since the detainee didn't actually succeed, that little evidence is available other than supposition.)

Do these judges imagine that before the Marines open fire on a fleeing vehicle, they must have proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the vehicle contains terrorists? Intelligence is always vague, almost never confirmed, and frequently obtained from foreign sources who do not reveal where they, themselves got it; but if they've been reliable in the past, we must assume they're reliable now, until and unless they disappoint us more than one usually expects from any intelligence. You cannot demand trial-level specificity and sourcing from covert intelligence; it's just not going to be available.

What the court derided -- quoting from Lewis Carroll's the Hunting of the Snark and mocking the administration -- is as good as it gets... and that's the very reason why a civilian court is not competent to make any of these decisions, let alone all of them, as the Supreme Court has now declared. It's as absurd as expecting the D.C. Circuit to approve missile targets in Pakistan.

One law professor understands this point; I'm pleasantly surprised the Times bothered to quote anyone on the military's side at all:

Some lawyers said the ruling highlighted the difficulties they saw in civilian judges reviewing Guantánamo cases.

“This case displays the inadequacies of having civilian courts inject themselves into military decision-making,” said Glenn M. Sulmasy, a law professor at the Coast Guard Academy and a national security fellow at Harvard.

I wonder if Mr. Sulmasy has more or less experience with the needs of the military than do the three judges in the D.C. Circuit panel who decided the Parhat decision.

Old King Cole was a tortured soul

In today's post, Patterico also calls attention to the upcoming trial of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, accused of masterminding the bombing of the USS Cole... and the third detainee, along with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, who the CIA has said it waterboarded. Patterico notes that Nashiri claims his "confession" was induced by unspecified "torture".

Of course, Nashiri could be fibbing; to paraphrase Charles Bronson in Breakheart Pass, if a man is a thief and murderer, it follows he may be a liar as well. But let's suppose he is telling the truth for once. This point tells us nothing about whether he is or is not a danger: Even if the confession was true, he still might only have given it because of this supposed "torture."

Why do we customarily believe that in civilian trials, coerced confessions cannot be used? Two main reasons:

  1. We believe they are of dubious reliability, since the person being tortured might say anything he thinks his torturers want to hear.

Leaving aside the question of whether waterboarding really constitutes "torture" (it certainly forces people to say things they later wish they hadn't), this objection is easily dismissed: If detailed facts came out during the coerced interrogation that were checked and found to be accurate, and if those facts could only be known by the guilty (such as where the body is hidden, in a murder case), then we may conclude the confessor is guilty.

So that leaves only one reason why coerced confessions are never allowed in court:

  1. Forcing people to testify against themselves is, again, simply unfair; it violates the Fifth Amendment protection against enforced self-incrimination.

But this second point again depends upon thinking that the tribunal is an attempt to mete out justice to a mere criminal, rather than a way for the military to decide whether the country would be safer if we kept the detainee behind bars or even executed him.

Finally, one more purely legal point (bearing in mind I'm not a lawyer): It's plausible to argue that the USA PATRIOT Act allows these tribunals to used evidence obtained for intelligence purposes in military commission hearings, even if the intel itself was obtained by means that would ordinarily render it inadmissible in a civilian court hearing, absent the intelligence angle.

This is a point which I don't believe has ever been addressed by the Supreme Court (not even in Boumediene).

Thus, if we reject "fairness" as the core value we're trying to uphold in the MCA hearings at Guantanamo Bay, and accept instead that the core value is "victory in the war," then we cannot have a hard and fast prohibition on using coerced testimony or even confessions: Again, we're not trying to punish miscreants so much as (a) protect the country from them, and (b) pour l'encouragement des autres.

An army of lawyers

A maxim of the law is that it's better that a thousand guilty criminals go free than a single innocent man be wrongly convicted. But when we're discussing a thousand guilty terrorists, we have to think a second time. When we released Abdullah Salih al-Ajmi from Gitmo (which was clearly a mistake in hindsight), he went right out and killed thirteen innocent Iraqi civilians in a suicide bombing in Mosul.

So if Ajmi is typical, then a thousand guilty terrorists released could kill 13,000 innocent civilians and wound an additional 40,000. That's 53,000 innocent lives destroyed. Some may still believe that's better than keeping one innocent person in Guantanamo Bay... but that is not so obvious to me.

Many folks reading this will object that, even if it's true that judges and lawyers have an overly legalistic bias, it's likewise true that the Military Commissions Act of 2006 had an overly militaristic bias. But the captivity and treatment of enemy combatants, whether lawful or unlawful, is at the core of any military strategy -- thus it's fundamentally a military issue, where the most important issue is victory.

But with Boumediene, the Court has held that henceforth, all major decisions in the detention of combatants -- not just the strictly limited set of decisions that the MCA left up to the D.C. Circuit, but all decisions without exception -- will ultimately be decided by civilian courts, even lowly district courts, by civilian judges who cannot help seeing the "trials" as exercises in legal justice -- where the most important issue is fairness.

Perhaps this new "fairness" doctrine is all for the best; maybe I stubbornly refuse to see the obvious. But certainly nobody on that side of the aisle at any level, from Justice Anthony Kennedy to Patterico, has endeavored to make the case to me that in dealing with terrorists, fairness should trump victory.

I'm listening, but I hear no argument.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 1, 2008, at the time of 7:55 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

June 18, 2008

The American Military: Threat... or Menace?

Injudicious Judiciary , Liberal Lunacy , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

An illuminating argument has erupted between Democratic (de facto) nominee, Barack H. Obama, and Republican (de facto) nominee, John S. McCain. Simply put, Obama said in an interview that we should go back to the Bill Clinton policy of only going after terrorists in the courts, with writs and subpoenas, and not by force and violence; McCain said this was naive, that we had already tried this approach -- and it brought us 9/11; and Obama has ripped him for engaging in the "politics of fear."

Fear. This reminds me... in a BBS discussion I was just involved in, one very leftist participant sneered something (I don't rememeber the precise wording) to the effect that, "I'm not afraid of old men in turbans living in caves," and accused me of being a frightened, sniveling coward.

I asked him whether he had ever wondered why they're now living in caves, instead of Afghan training camps and Iraqi palaces... but he didn't respond, of course; having run rings around me logically, he had already moved on.

The answer should be clear with a little thought: Because military action by President George W. Bush drove them out of those camps and palaces, harried them up and down the land, until finally the only place they could find to hide -- was in a hole, whence they can no longer direct terrorist campaigns against the United States or our allies.

Keep this in mind as you read the following:

At issue were Obama's comments Monday in an interview with ABC News. Obama was asked how he could be sure the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies are not crucial to protecting U.S. citizens.

Obama said the government can crack down on terrorists "within the constraints of our Constitution." He mentioned the indefinite detention of Guantanamo Bay detainees, contrasting their treatment with the prosecution of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.

"And, you know, let's take the example of Guantanamo," Obama said. "What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks - for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center - we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.

"And the fact that the administration has not tried to do that has created a situation where not only have we never actually put many of these folks on trial, but we have destroyed our credibility when it comes to rule of law all around the world, and given a huge boost to terrorist recruitment in countries that say, 'Look, this is how the United States treats Muslims....

"We could have done the exact same thing, but done it in a way that was consistent with our laws," Obama said.

What conclusions can we draw from this unguarded admission by Sen. Obama?

  • Obama as much as admits that under his presidency, America will no longer go after terrorists militarily, but only through the courts.
  • He thinks that 1990s policy worked out much better than the current one. Evidently, he is completely ignorant of the numerous terrorist attacks on United States interests during that period... and he has even forgotten 9/11 itself.

(Or perhaps Obama thinks that 9/11 only happened because terrorists thought Bush was weak; had Algore been president, they would have been quaking in their boots so that they would never have attacked us! But that's a bit hard to swallow, considering how comfortable they had become with the Clinton policy -- which allowed for one major terrorist strike against the Great Satan every 2-3 years.)

  • As well, Obama has never even heard of any of the terrorist prosecutions conducted by the Bush administration -- including those of "dirty bomber" Jose Padilla, "failed shoe-bomber" Richard Reid, and "twentieth hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui

John McCain finds the Obama/Clinton/Carter "law enforcement" policy dangerously naive and unworkable:

The McCain campaign responded with a call in which McCain's senior foreign policy adviser Randy Schuenemann said, "Once again we have seen that Senator Obama is a perfect manifestation of a September 10th mindset. He brings the attitude, the failures of judgment, the weakness and the misunderstanding of the nature of our adversaries, and the dangers posed by them to a series of policy positions."

He added, "I have no doubt that we will hear in the course of the day that the Obama campaign will say we're practicing the, quote, politics of fear, and the reality is what Senator Obama's statement reflects last night is that he's advocating a policy of delusion that ignores what happened in the failed approach of the 1990's which allowed al Qaeda to thrive and prosper unmolested and that policy clearly made America less safe and more vulnerable."

For this attitude -- treating mass Islamist terrorism as war, not a criminal conspiracy -- Obama accuses McCain of just reiterating the "failed policies" of President Bush; failed presidential nominee John Kerry charges McCain with "defending a policy that is indefensible;" and Bush hater and presumed National Security Advisor under the Obama administration, Richard Clarke, called McCain's anti-terrorism policy the "big lie technique." Clarke thus directly compares John McCain to Josef Goebbels, Adolf Hitler's Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.

Obama continued his tirade:

"These are the same guys who helped engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq at a time when we could have pinned down the people who actually committed 9/11," Obama said on his campaign plane.

Presumably, Obama was referring to how some of the perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombing were prosecuted during the Clinton administration... but was not referring to, or even recalling, the utter failure ever to arrest anybody for any of the other mass Islamist terrorist attacks against the United States during the 1990s and into 2000.

It is true that some terrorists were prosecuted under Clinton; but in fact, Obama appears completely ignorant of the fact that far more terrorists have been criminally prosecuted -- in civilian courts -- during the Bush administration than during Clinton's tenure. The three high-profile cases mentioned above, Padilla, Reed, and Moussasoui, are just the tip of the ice cube.

In fact, according to a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) out of Syracuse University, there have been 579 terrorism prosecutions from September 11th, 2001, through August, 2006, or 116 per year... compared to only 115 in the previous five years under Bill Clinton, or 23 per year. The rate of criminal-court terrorist prosecutions more than quintupled under Bush from what it was under Clinton.

Sure, maybe Clinton didn't go after the terrorists by force of arms; but don't forget, he didn't prosecute them, either! Does Obama really want to go back to the that failed policy?

Even more important, there are far more failed terrorist prosecutions than there are successful ones. The TRAC study, released in 2006, found that only 1% of defendants actually convicted in terrorism cases received sentences of 20 years or longer; and more than half of convicted defendants received only time already served -- or no prison time at all.

And this doesn't even include terrorists who cannot be tried because, as an integral part of the attack, they killed themselves: Not a single person who carried out the actual hijackings on September 11th, 2001, was ever tried, because all 19 of them died in the bestial orgy of murder.

Why are criminal prosecutions so dicey? The point is that the government's most important task is to prevent terrorist attacks... not sit around, wait for them to happen, and then prosecute the perpetrators (those who happen to survive). Thus lawn-forcement officers try to arrest the terrorists before they commit the attack; and this necessarily weakens the legal case. From the International Herald Tribune:

"There are many flaws in the report," said Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra. "It is irresponsible to attempt to measure success in the war on terror without the necessary details about the government's strategy and tactics."

For instance, Sierra said, prison sentences are "not the proper measure of the success of the department's overall counterterrorism efforts. The primary goal ... is to detect, disrupt and deter terrorist activities."

Because prosecutors try to charge potential terrorists before they act, they often allege fraud, false statements or immigration violations that carry lesser penalties than the offenses that could be charged after an attack, Sierra said. This "allows us to engage the enemy earlier than if we waited for them to act first."

But wait; maybe it's just the Bush administration that incompetently handles terrorism cases. Perhaps the Clinton administration was just much better at it. But that's not what the evidence appears to show:

TRAC totaled the cases that prosecutors labeled as terrorism or antiterrorism no matter what charge was brought. It found only 14 prosecutions in fiscal 2000. That rose to 57 in fiscal 2001, which ended three weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks [and which included the last four months of the Clinton administration]. The figure then soared to 355 in fiscal 2002. But by fiscal 2005 it dropped to 46. And in the first eight months of fiscal 2006, through last May, there were only 19 such prosecutions.

Even in FY 2006, the year in which the IHT sniffs that the Bush administration failed to prosecute enough terrorist cases, there were more prosecutions in the first eight months than in all of FY 2000.

But surely such prosecutions are the best method of preventing terrorist attacks... right? Hardly. During the last administration, there were several major Islamist terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda and affiliates: The first World Trade Center bombing in 1993; the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996; the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; and the USS Cole bombing in 2000. In addition, you have to count 9/11 itself in 2001, because the Bush administration had not yet shifted from the Clinton-era "law enforcement" response to terrorism to the more robust policy of military interdiction and of law enforcement driven by intelligence gathering (such collaborations were forbidden by "Gorelick's Wall" until after 9/11).

After we did shift strategy, however, from December 2001 to today, there have been exactly zero successful Islamist terrorist attacks on us, except for attacks on our military in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of "asymmetrical combat operations" in those wars. From five major successful attacks by radical Islamist terrorists to none at all... that's a pretty good argument for the McCain approach, rather than the Obama approach.

And here is yet another: Yesterday in the U.K., the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ordered the Ministry of Justice to release on bail Abu Qatada, the highest ranking al-Qaeda affiliate they currently hold -- and a direct clerical counsel to Osama bin Laden himself.

So why are they releasing him? As near as I can make out, Qatada was being held on an immigration charge:

  • He is a Jordanian, and he was tried and convicted in absentia (twice!) in a Jordanian court for "conspiracy to carry out bomb attacks on two hotels in Amman in 1998, and providing finance and advice for a series of bomb attacks in Jordan planned to coincide with the Millennium."
  • But because he had these two convictions pending, which presumably could result in a sentence of death in Jordan, he could not be deported back to that country... because the U.K. refuses to recognize the validity of executions.
  • Therefore, reasoned the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, since he could not be deported, that meant the entire immigration case against him collapsed.
  • Therefore, he could not be held indefinitely without a criminal charge.
  • But the moment Qatada was charged with a regular civilian crime, the judges told the Ministry that they had to offer Abu Qatada bail;

It seems that in the U.K., this is an even more fundamental right than here. For one difference, we do not set bail for a prisoner deemed a flight risk; and evidently, the U.K. does.

Therefore, Qatada walks tomorrow. I wonder how long it will be before he is spirited out the U.K. by his al-Qaeda friends? But in any event, that is another reason why America is much better off treating mortal combat as "warfare," rather than a mere "crime" that needs to be investigated, and a flurry of papers that need to fly out in response to the next 9/11.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 18, 2008, at the time of 4:30 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 15, 2008

More Boumediene Bothers and Bewilderments...

Constitutional Maunderings , Court Decisions , Injudicious Judiciary , Liberal Lunacy , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Those ghastly Tribunals...

Here's a thought that should bring you up short:

Military tribunals are fair for American servicemen being courtmartialed; but foreign terrorists deserve better.

As Beldar wrote:

These commenters [on Beldar Blog] seem to be unaware that, in direct response to earlier suggestions from the Supreme Court, a bipartisan majority of Congress carefully crafted a system that balanced national security concerns against the need to provide fair, just hearings for these detainees. By no means did Congress rubber-stamp what the Bush-43 Administration suggested.

The resulting system closely resembled, and explicitly drew heavily from, the legal system already in place via the Uniform Code of Military Justice for our own servicemen and -women who are accused of crimes. The resulting statutes thus represented the will of the people as expressed through both of the elected branches of government, which -- not coincidentally -- are also the two branches of government given substantial responsibility by the Constitution with the declaring and conduct of war.

Beldar refers to the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which created a set of procedures for a fair hearing for each and every detainee in the Guantanamo Bay military prison; it provided for legal representation for every detainee, rules of evidence, and a standard of probable cause to hold the captured enemy combatant "for the duration."

That is what five justices of the Supreme Court -- the four ultra-liberals plus Anthony Kennedy -- ruled "unconstitutional"... for foreign terrorists captured on foreign soil during a war, that is. But the same procedure is evidently perfectly constitutional when it's merely our own soldiers, airmen, seamen, and Marines on trial.

Goose, no gander...

Why are the Democrats uniformly cheering and lauding this decision, which seemingly ties the hands of the president and Congress for all time... even during a Democratic administration? Don't they expect to win big in November?

Yes they do, but...

Democrats applaud Boumediene because they know that only Republican administrations will obey it. Democratic presidents will completely ignore the ruling -- and they'll get away with it using the argument attributed to Andrew Jackson: "The Court has made its decision; now let's see them enforce it."

I cannot imagine any other reason -- except a case of Bush Derangement Syndrome so overpowering that it even drives out their own self-interest -- why Democrats would be so united in applauding this wretched opinion, which is likely the worst Supreme Court decision of my lifetime.

Two, four, six, eight...

Finally, I wonder why Republicans and John McCain haven't jumped on a slogan as simple and obvious as this for the election:

Republicans say that foreign terrorists attacking our country have no rights. Democrats say they have more rights than American servicemen. You choose.

I think that succinctly sums up the difference between the two parties... don't you?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 15, 2008, at the time of 8:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 13, 2008

Lizards Propose U.S. Constitutional Amendment

Constitutional Maunderings , Court Decisions , Injudicious Judiciary , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

I rarely support proposed federal constitutional amendments; most offer permanent solutions to transient problems, threatening to lock in today's compromise for all time. For exampe, I reluctantly supported the Equal Rights Amendment -- twenty years ago, as a young man; but I don't think I would today, because it is clear that the problems it was designed to resolve have been handled legislatively, and there is no chance that could ever be reversed by judicial fiat.

But yesterday's Supreme Court ruling in Boumediene v. Bush was so devastating in its effects, so unprecedented in its legal claims, and frankly, so mad in its hubris -- an undisguised power grab by the unelected branch of government over the warmaking power of the democratic branches -- that I honestly believe we must pass a constitutional amendment to undo the damage and restore sanity.

I am under no illusions that such an amendment will pass easily or quickly; but as a secondary point, if we word it carefully enough and limit it to just what we need, it will also serve as a potent campaign weapon against Democrats who refuse to support it.

Finally, it deals with an issue of such fundamental importance that it does indeed rise to the level of the Constitution of the United States... for it defines just who is covered by said Constitution.

Here is our first crack at wording such an amendment:

This Constitution extends to all persons subject to the actual sovereign authority of the United States of America.

Our objects are threefold:

  • The amendment must be brief and precise. The more complex an amendment is, the more leeway anti-American justices and judges have to find loopholes. This amendment is but eighteen words and doesn't even need an "enactment" clause, since all it does is define to whom the rest of the Constitution applies. Think how the framers inadvertently helped gun prohibitionists by prepending "a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state" to the Second Amendment.
  • The amendment must be clear to anyone who reads it, even non-lawyers (such as myself). We only have a hope of passing this if every man and woman, and even children above the age of thirteen or fourteen, understands exactly what it would do -- and why it's vital.
  • The amendment must be clean. It cannot include hidden or unanticipated wiles; we cannot give the Democrats (and RINOs) any excuse or justification to hide behind as they vote against this amendment. We want a clean choice: Either you believe our Constitution extends protection to aliens living abroad -- or you believe it extends only to the soverign territory of the United States.

For an example of the last, it cannot say "extends to all citizens subject to," because that would mean that all immigrants, even legal immigrants, suddenly lose all constitutional protections. In fact, it cannot even say "all legal residents subject to;" although many people wish they could strip illegal aliens of all constitutional rights (no protection from search and seizure, no requirement to give them a fair trial before imprisoning them for crimes, etc.), such a provision would make it easy for Democrats (and many Republicans) to defeat it.

Worse, it would flip the political effect around to destroy any chance of the GOP picking up seats and trying again in the 111th Congress: Such underhanded and dirty pool would anger even many Americans who oppose legalizing illegal immigrants, and the growing Hispanic vote would become like the black vote: a Democratic plantation.

As I say over and over, I am not a lawyer. This wording may well run afoul of elements of constitutional law. However, a lot of lawyers read Big Lizards, and I especially invite them to comment on the wording and how it could be improved.

After a few days and any corrections that seem better to me, I plan to send this to every Republican senator and congressman, urging them to make it a part of the national GOP campaign for the November elections. I believe such an amendment, coupled with the campaign they're already running to "drill here, drill now, pay less," will give us an unprecedented and unexpected opportunity to reverse the trend of the 2006 elections and actually pick up seats -- perhaps even taking back the Congress. That is tough but doable, if we can change the climate to one that is just as toxic to Democrats, who are suddenly seen as anti-American, as it currently is to Republicans.

For God's sake, for a million practical, legal, and sovereignty reasons, we cannot let this insanity stand. Five people on that Court need a swift and strong kick in the robes from the American people.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 13, 2008, at the time of 2:19 PM | Comments (36) | TrackBack

June 10, 2008

What Was George W. Bush's Worst Mistake?

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

He never answers such questions (rightly so), but I will. In retrospect, I believe Douglas Feith has perfectly encapsulated it in this passage from p. 228 of War and Decision (the hardcover edition):

In its review of such prewar intelligence failures, the Silverman-Robb Commission criticized the CIA, and the intelligence community in general, for flawed tradecraft. Those failings raise the question of whether policy officials were skeptical enough about the intelligence -- whether we challenged the CIA vigorously enough -- and if not, why not. The errors created an enormous credibility problem for the United States, because Administration officials, for reasons we'll explore further, chose to make the stockpiles -- and the intelligence about the stockpiles -- part of the case for war.

The decision to feature the CIA's badly crafted assessments of Iraqi WMD stockpiles this way was unfortunate, because the existence of those stockpiles was not a cornerstone of our rationale for going to war. But the differences between the actual strategic rationale for the action against Saddam and the public presentation were not lies or misrepresentations. They reflected mistakes in judgment about how best to focus the presentation both at the United Nations (whose support we sought for resolutions approving action against Saddam) and to the American people. By presenting the case for the war poorly, the Administration hurt more than its own credibility; it jeopardized the success of the war effort itself.

This error by the Administration was more than a mere public relations problem. When leaders decide that war is necessary, communicating their reasoning -- showing "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind," as Thomas Jefferson put it -- is a critical element of strategy and statecraft. The Administration's public statements were the basis on which the American people and their representatives in Congress supported the war. The flaws in that presentation inevitably affect the public's willingness to continue to support the war, at times when patience is required and confidence in victory is shaken.

This is true anent the war in particular; but even more generally, the only absolutely miserable element of Bush's presidency has been his inability to communicate. If Ronald Reagan was "the Great Communicator," George W. Bush has proved to be "the Great Miscommunicator."

This has negatively impacted every aspect of his presidency:

  • Foreign policy -- even now, he has still not explained his extraordinary success in getting Libya to give up its nuclear program, gaining the cooperation of scores of countries in the war against the Iran/al-Qaeda Axis, and of course prosecuting that war and its campaigns themselves;
  • Economic policy -- the inability to explain to the American people why we must privatize Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, the inability to defend his own necessary tax cuts, and the inability to explain why free-trade agreements are a long-term good to everyone, even those in states hit hard by foreign competition, has eroded our economic position almost beyond repair -- and certainly beyond the repair of this president;
  • Energy policy -- the inability to explain to Congress the absolute necessity of exploiting our own vast energy resources, as well as those on the outer continental shelf, has crippled the country... although we have staggeringly large reserves of oil, coal, and natural gas -- not to mention nuclear power generation -- we're pouring hundreds of billions of petrodollars every year into the pockets of men who support terrorist attacks against us and our allies;
  • The federal judiciary -- the administration's inability to explain to the people the distinction between judicial activism ("legislating from the bench") and judicial restraint, and why the former will wind up killing us all, has resulted in a brazen power-grab by the judiciary that will haunt us for decades to come;
  • Even disaster relief -- the federal response to Hurricane Katrina was most probably the best, the most effectively, and unquestionably the fastest in American history... yet Bush and his inability to communicate his own successes has allowed the Left to slander it as the worst, most inept, and slowest in history.

The ability of the president to communicate -- to his own party, to Congress, to the courts at trial, and to the American voter himself -- turns out to be the single most critical ability he must have. If the president is weak on policy, he has advisors who can help him out. If he is irresolute, his spine can be stiffened by appealing to pride and ego. If he has a vile temper, his aides can sit on his head until it cools.

But if he cannot explain what the hell he's doing, then it doesn't matter how good his policies are or how steadfast and courageous he may be... he is going to lose the confidence of the people, and that will be his destruction. He doesn't become powerless; the vast resources and authorities of the presidency itself see to that. But without the ability to explain, enlist support, keep spirits bright until victory, and finally persuade even naysayers to his side, he cannot do his job the way it should be done.

Don't make the liberal mistake of confusing communication skills with soaring oratory: Given a choice between a person whose rhetoric floats with angels, but who cannot think of a single thing to say, and a person who knows what to say and how to say it, but whose delivery is leaden, I have faith that the American people will select and follow the latter -- as they did in 1952 and 1956, 1968, 1972, 1988, 2000, and 2004.

(In all the other post-WWII presidential elections save one, the conditions did not apply: In 1948, neither Truman nor Dewey could think of anything particularly important to say; in 1960, Kennedy had both delivery and substance; in 1964, both Goldwater and Johnson had substance; in 1976, neither Ford nor Carter had either quality; in 1980 and 1984, Reagan dominated Carter and Mondale on both qualities; and in 1996, Clinton and Dole were equally subtance-challenged. Only in 1992 did style, Clinton, win out over substance, Bush-41, in a big way; and the personal betrayal by Bush of his own promise was an extenuating circumstance.)

Therefore, I'm not worried about the 2008 election: Obama has great delivery -- but that's all he is, a "delivery man": He delivers the package on time but has no idea what's inside.

McCain is not electrifying... but people remember what he says afterwards, for good or ill; he takes positions and defends them, even when we dislike them; he has thought deeply about the great issues of the day and has defensible policies on them all, even if I often disagree with him -- e.g., on campaign finance reform and on drilling in ANWR.

But the Bush administration has been a grand demonstration that communications skills are vital to a successful presidency. If only we could have married the policy-making ability of George W. Bush to Roosevelt's ability to communicate to the average Jane and Joe (and the average Rep. or Sen. Jones)... we would have had a "Ronald Reagan" of the twenty-first century!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 10, 2008, at the time of 12:59 AM | Comments (19) | TrackBack

June 4, 2008

Talking Islam 3.5: Response to Thomas Joscelyn (and Wolf Howling)

Confusticated Conservatives , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The proprietor of Wolf Howling ("GW") left a cryptic comment on Big Lizards wondering whether I would like to respond to his post... in which he critiques both a Big Lizards post and (wait for it) the response to that post on the Weekly Standard website.

Needless to say, I had no idea the Weekly Standard had done such a thing. But it made some sense, as my earlier post had attacked a small section of a book review by Thomas Joscelyn of that revered magazine. For some unfathomable reason, he chose to respond there, where he has an audience of tens of thousands, rather than commenting on our rather obscure blog with its audience of tens of hundreds.

I was going to respond to Joscelyn first, as befitting his august personage; but after reading the relevant post at Wolf Howling -- Much Lizardly Ado About . . . A Little Something -- I realize that GW's point is a necessary precursor to my response to TJ: It gives me the nudge to expand upon what I meant by an "ideological counterinsurgency" -- that it's not merely some minor linguistic changes suggested by a couple of memos, useful though they may be, but a much larger enterprise that will require total committment by our government and many other allied governments.

But every journey starts with a single crawl... and it's self-defeating to hoot and jeer at the crawler because he didn't start with a sprint.

So let's start with Wolf Howling. Here, on a nutshell, is Mr. Howling's critique of (what he believes to be) my position:

Dafydd is right, we absolutely need an ideological counterinsurgency. Defeating al Qaeda physically and stopping Iran’s deadly meddling throughout the Middle East are only treating the symptoms. Both could go away tomorrow, yet our nation will still not be safe from terrorism in the long run at the hands of radical Islamists. That is because the ideology underlying "radical Islam" is what has to be countered. And on that issue, we have failed utterly because have never defined "radical Islam...."

Understand that among those who favor Dafydd’s approach are most of the Wahhabi / Salafi and Muslim Brotherhood organizations in the U.S. Those organizations have spared no expense and no effort to get the U.S. to stop making a connection between Islam, terrorism and jihadism. I fully realize this is not what Dafydd is advocating, but the danger of only going forward on the semantics is that you obfuscate the true nature of the problem and allow the Wahhabists and Salafists off the hook. Their goal is simple -- they want to metasticize in the West without challenge. Without the first step of utter and absolute clarity about the Wahhabi / Salafi / Khomeini sources of Islamic terrorism, mere semantic changes will only further obfuscate the issues -- with a net gain to the Salafists.

My only response to this is that, when I said the semantic changes out of DHS and the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) were a good first step, I meant a good first step for them: That is, I'm glad they have finally realized that an ideological counterinsurgency is just as important for winning the Long War as a military counterinsurgency... both are necessary, urgent, and long overdue.

On the larger issue, I agree with Wolf Howling completely; these linguistic changes cannot be the sum total of the ideological counterinsurgency, and I certainly never meant to imply that they should. He's also right that if they become the entirety, if we fail to confront directly the terrorists' arguments that Islam demands (their understanding of) jihad, then we're in for several very grim decades indeed, with no guarantee that we will win.

But I don't for one moment believe that even the State Department thinks that these minor (but helpful) semantic changes fulfill our duty to respond to the ideology of death. I'm sure they understand we need more... but I'm not at all sure they're on board the full campaign I (and probably you) envision -- and that is definitely a problem.

I believe we need to undertake a full-scale propaganda campaign:

  1. We -- by we, I mean everybody who opposes the radical militant Islamists -- must clearly identify the schools, both physical facilities and schools of thought, that teach/preach the radical interpretations of Islam that theologically underpin the Islamic death cults;
  2. We must counter those schools and their arguments with alternative interpretations that are just as theologically sound... which means, I am convinced, working with Islamic scholars and clerics who have already been doing this for many years, including (a non-exhaustive list):

    • The "Quietist" school of Shiism, whose spiritual leader at the moment is Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf;
    • The Indonesian Sunni organization Nahdlatul Ulama -- the largest Moslem organization in the world with perhaps as many as 40 million members -- which is headed by Abdurrahman Wahid, a.k.a. Gus Dur;
    • And the Turks, who are currently opening schools around the world that are teaching a non-violent (or at least much less violent) sect of Islam to counter the influence of the Salafist/Wahhabist schools financed and run by radical Saudi clerics.

    They have far more credibilty than we; but we must be careful not to buddy up to them too closely, lest we create an obvious line of attack against them by our enemies. Nobody trusts a sock puppet (except maybe Glenn Greenwald).

  3. And most important, we must get both State and Defense on board with the program... and also Congress. I'm afraid this will be the hardest task, but it's vital if we're to present a unified front against the enemy. About the only hope would be if the Senate would confirm a "John Bolton"-like nominee as Secretary of State, one who could actually clean house in that wretched, out of control bureaucracy, whose Statethink has swallowed up my second favorite gal, Condoleezza Rice.

(Note that the memos also caution against using the word "Islamist" because it's too easily confused with "Islam," especially by listeners whose native language is not English. But I'm addressing an English-speaking audience of above-average intelligence here, so I'm not going to avoid the term.)

I certainly never meant the linguistic changes to be the entirety of our ideological counterinsurgency; but I do welcome them as an indication that both DHS and State are finally, belatedly, realizing that we desperately need a propaganda offensive (and that there is nothing inherently offensive about propaganda) -- one that is always truthful, because a lie discovered is catastrophic; always respectful of contrary opinion, because a challenge unanswered is a challenger unpersuaded; and relentlessly pro-American and pro-West, because we should never pay for the privilege of being smeared. (I wish VOA followed this rule!)

They see the need for a propaganda offensive; I don't think they're ready yet for the propaganda offensive that we actually need. Just as Moslems can change, so too can bureaucrats.

But it won't be easy, because one characteristic of the West is the reflexive self-destructive tendencies of large portions of it... mainly the Democratic Left, which includes many elements within America and our government. The last time the Democratic Left was solidly behind America was during World War II... when we were allied with the Soviet Union. Most European countries will not follow us down the road of a pro-West propaganda blitz; they're too busy gnashing their teeth about the failings of Capitalism, democracy, and liberty to notice that we're in an existential war with Islamic death cults that want to obliterate us -- and raise in our place a world-wide sharia-state.

So we'll have to go it more or less alone; the U.K. might help, and we'll get sporadic aid from this or that European country that happens to be somewhat more conservative at the moment (France, perhaps, or Italy now that Berlusconi is back; maybe Germany). What we really need is a president who is a hugely effective communicator, and who is on board for the propaganda campaign.

I'm not sure that John McCain is up to the task; but after Barack H. Obama's liberal-fascist moment yesterday after the last primaries, I doubt he's even sure which side he's on.

Regardless, the last thing in the world we should do is heap scorn and mockery on the heads of those professionals at the Department of Homeland Security or the National Counter Terrorism Center who are actually trying to get the ball rolling on such a project. And that segue brings me to the response by Thomas Joscelyn to our Big Lizards post...

Joscelyn was evidently -- annoyed? ticked off? incensed? -- perturbed by our post here, where I rhetorically took him to the woodshed for, in my opinion, unfairly attacking civil servants who were "finally doing something right on the urgent task of confronting the terrorist ideology," as I put it in our first post on this subject. He defended himself hotly in a post on his Weekly Standard blog yesterday.

(Since I cannot imagine that he ordinarily reads Big Lizards, I presume someone sent him a link.)

Mixed messages

Let's get one point out of the way immediately. Joscelyn wrote:

First, he claims that I misrepresent this January 2008 memo from the Department of Homeland Security. He says that I "never actually read the memo itself" and that the term "'jihadist' was not banned"; instead "the memo suggests caution." Here is what I actually wrote: "Just as Willful Blindness was released, the State Department and other agencies published an edict banning the use of the word 'jihadist' (as well as similar terms) from the government's lexicon."

And here's the problem: I never referred to this DHS memo Dafydd cites either directly or indirectly in this sentence or anywhere else in my review. (And, by the way, I actually had read this DHS memo, which is logically and factually flawed in many ways.) I was referring to an even more recent memo accepted by the State Department, which endorsed the ban--that's right, ban--of the use of terms like jihadist.

I accept the correction; I was wrong to leap to the conclusion that he was responding to the memo from the Department of Homeland Security we already linked in previous posts, when in fact he was responding to a memo written by the Extremist Messaging Branch at the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), and released through the State Department. I apologize to Mr. Joscelyn, and I have corrected our earlier post to take this into account.

However, the NCTC memo makes exactly the same argument as the DHS memo as to why we should use certain words and not use others. This is the argument that Joscelyn fails to engage, and indeed does not appear even to understand. Thus, all of my points still apply with minimal modification.

And as to this supposed "ban," he is correct that the NCTC memo says, "Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahideen' in conversation to describe the terrorists," which sounds pretty emphatic.

But not so fast; on the very first page, that same memo says this:

The following set of suggestions regarding appropriate language for use in conversations with target audiences was developed by the Extremist Messaging Branch of the National Counterterrorism Center [NCTC] and vetted by the interagency "Themes and Messages" editorial board at the CTCC. This advice is not binding and is for use with our audiences. It does not affect other areas such as policy papers, research analysis, scholarly writing, etc. The purpose of this paper is to raise awareness among communicators of the language issues that may enhance or detract from successhl engagement.

Joscelyn writes, "Sounds like a ban to me;" I say, sounds like a non-binding suggestion.

The blunting of the snark

The next matter appears trivial, but in fact, it cuts right to the problem I have with Joscelyn's response to the memo(s) -- and with the responses of Bruce Thornton at the National Review and Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch. Joscelyn tries to score a "touch" against me, but in fact reveals that he simply doesn't get my point:

Second, Dafydd apparently believes that we should call this conflict the "war against global caliphism," or some such. He uses the phrase repeatedly. (Ironically, the web link to his posts on the "war against global caliphism" contains the phrase "war on global jihadism)." [Not ironic; easily explained by the time evolution of that category title. See below.] In that case, he should not be too fond of the NCTC memo, which was approved by State and other agencies, either. For example, the NCTC memo notes:

Avoid the term "caliphate," which has positive connotations for Muslims, to describe the goal of al-Qaida and associated groups. The best description of what they really want to create is a "global totalitarian state."

Will Dafydd submit to the NCTC's will, and avoid using the phrase "war against global caliphism"?

I feel such a temptation to say, "well there's yer problem right there!" (I never resist temptation.)

Yes, I have been using the phrase "war against global caliphism." Up until about a year ago (June 29th, 2007), I used "war against global jihad." But that month, I read articles by Col. David Kilcullen, then the senior counterinsurgency advisor to Gen. David Petraeus (then commander of MNF-I) and by Jim Guirard (following up on the Kilcullen article), both on Small Wars Journal; together, they called for "a [new] lexicon to better describe the threat" America and the West face from militant Islamist terrorists and what the DHS memo suggests we call Islamic "death cultists."

I saw where Giurard was heading with this and thought it an excellent idea. So as a first cut at not using bin Laden's vocabulary to describe bin Laden, I changed our category title from "war against global jihad."

Nota bene: Changing the title only changes the title; it doesn't automatically go through thousands of blog posts changing any earlier reference to "global jihadism"... which is why Joscelyn found earlier posts that contained that phrase.

He thought this anomalous somehow, as if it would have been more proper for me to scrub the site of all evidence of my evolving thinking. That's not how we work here at Big Lizards; we believe in transparency... when we change our minds, we don't make stealth corrections: I actually blogged about making this change before I did it.

I hope this clears up the supposed "irony" that puzzled Joscelyn.

I first changed the category title to "war against global hirabah," (unholy war); then I decided that was was too obscure: Calling them "hirabis" was akin to calling them "disestablishmentarians" or "vampires;" you can't just say it, you have to take ten minutes explaining.

I was still looking for a pithy but entirely accurate and truthful phrase to describe who -- and what -- we were fighting. I settled (with misgivings) on the "war against global caliphism." I figured the most salient feature of the revolutionary, radical enemy I was trying to name was that he wanted to overthrow all existing order, particularly democracies where people could choose their own lives, and impose a world caliphate. But I've never truly been satisfied with that term either.

But the point is that I'm not encased in amber; I'm not eternally wedded to any particular term -- nor should any of us be, including Thomas Joscelyn: We should use whatever term best describes the enemy, without adding to the neurolinguistic problem by using his own, self-congratulatory vision of himself as a "holy warrior" (mujahideen) fighting a "holy war" (jihad) against the Great Satan (us).

Far from being "not... too fond of the NCTC memo" because it suggests not using caliphate, I appreciate the guidance by actual experts (as should Joscelyn); I didn't know that it was also flattering to the terrorists; now that I do, I'll stop using that, too.

It has nothing to do with "submit[ing] to the NCTC's will;" submission is the hallmark of Islam, not Americanism. (In fact, I believe the very word "Islam" translates to submission.) But as a patriotic American -- and out of pure self-interest as a person who really prefers living in a free democracy than a sharia state -- I will freely choose to use a better term, as soon as I can think of one. (And when I do, you'll still be able to find earlier posts that use the old phrase. C'est la guerre.)

But I cannot imagine Joscelyn switching for any reason. He and many other conservatives are locked in embrace with whatever terminology they first learned; they act exasperated, even infuriated, when told they should change it, no matter how good the reason.

I believe Joscelyn objects to the memos not because the suggestions they made were inherently bad; rather, his main objection is having to switch at all! That would explain why he never articulated any actual argument against the terms themselves: His core objection is that they're not the ones he's always used (or at least used for so many years).

This may well be the defining difference between us: He wants to continue using the familiar term he's comfortable with, whereas I want to use what works best today, in this conflict. Even if that means change.

Jihad or not jihad, that is the question

And that brings us to Joscelyn's non-response, where he doesn't engage the root of my first post:

Third, and most importantly, "jihadist" and similar terms are appropriate. The government's argument to the contrary is simply wrong. For example, the authors of the NCTC memo argue that using "jihadis" to describe our enemies "unintentionally legitimizes their action." Dafydd picks up on this argument (via the DHS memo I didn't cite [which is also made by the NCTC memo Joscelyn did cite]) when he writes that calling our enemies jihadis is not a smart move "because it confers upon the militant Islamists exactly the legitimacy they crave."

This is wrong for too many reasons to list here. [Oh please, give it a stab, Mr. J.] U.S. policymakers are not granting unintentional legitimacy to the terrorists by calling them jihadis. The jihadis already have legitimacy in the eyes of many because their actions are explicitly endorsed by leading Islamic clerics. [Parenthetical comments and emphasis added.]

All right; "in the eyes of many." But what about the millions of other "manys" who do not look to radical Islamic clerics (leading or not) for moral guidance on jihad? What about those sitting on the fence, with their mugs on one side and their wumps on the other, unsure what to think? They may notice that the terrorists always seem to have their theological enablers (Zawahiri, Khomeini, Sadr), but they also their opponents -- who are also respected clerics. So who's right?

Linguistical tactics can certainly change the dynamic of a debate; but they only have a determinative effect on a small subset of listeners. Most people have already made up their minds, and they only listen to confirm what they already believe. But there are always those who really aren't sure, and they can be won over by the right word -- or lost by the wrong.

That subset may be critical, depending on how near a philosophical tipping point we are. Anent Iraq, for example, it didn't take many passive supporters to create the ratline of safe houses and supplies, informants and intelligencers, that the terrorist groups needed to operate. Consequently, it didn't take a large conversion to flip al-Qaeda or Iranian hegemony into American victory.

In Anbar, Baghdad, Baqouba, Diyala, and other Iraqi provinces in late 2007-early 2008, we contacted Sunni "Salvation Councils," connected them to each other, and supported them in an uprising against al-Qaeda: We turned enough Sunni Iraqis that AQI finally collapsed into ruin. Later, we did the same with the Shia in Basra and the Sadr City slums of Baghdad City, and the Iran-backed militias in Iraq are steadily losing ground as well. We're well on our way to complete victory in Iraq, what Osama bin Laden called the central front in the war between al-Qaeda and the West.

We didn't do this by a mass conversion of radicals to mainstream Islam; the Sunni and Shia are likely just as religiously Islamic as they ever were. Rather, this fight was fought on the definitions: They had to convince themselves that the terrorists were not fighting on the side of God but on the side of their own ambition, or on the side of external, power-mad nations like Iran.

Again, such a paradigm change doesn't occur as a mass movement; it begins with a small cadre of respected insiders, who then, over the space of time, persuade their tribes and their coreligionists. But we may have helped them along by not undercutting them, by not routinely calling their al-Qaeda enemies "holy warriors" fighting a "holy war" against the Great Satan, thus contradicting what tribal leaders and members of the Salvation Councils were arguing.

If changing our lexicon, as Col. Kilcullen and Jim Guirard suggest, can help turn a small cadre away from the terrorists and towards us, help even a little, then why try to laugh it off the stage?

To attack the linguistic approach of the DHS and the NCTC, Joscelyn needs to demonstrate (not simply assert) one of three conditions:

  • That the new approach will have little good effect. But if it will do no harm, either, why not do it -- along with other things?
  • That it may have a good effect; but there is something better we can do, which will have a much greater good effect, yet is fundamentally incompatible with the linguistic approach. If this is his argument, then what is this "something better," and why is it incompatible with the memos? Joscelyn is mum on both these questions.
  • Finally, he can argue that the government's approach will actually have a negative effect. But if that's his argument, shouldn't he be prepared to explain exactly what that bad effect is? Again, he enunicates no downside to this approach.

Those are the only rhetorical options; all else is mishnah.

Now getting back to Wolf Howling's point, I certainly agree that the linguistic changes suggested by the memos are not enough to qualify as an ideological counterinsurgency.

Heck, they're not even enough to fully meet Col. Kilcullen's call for a "new lexicon." He was primarily talking about a new way for our military to approach the sort of counterinsurgencies we're fighting against ideological Islamic terrorist groups... for example, Kilcullen objects that the phrase "major combat operations" -- or as the doctrine was actually termed, Phase III Decisive Operations -- "actively hinders innovative thought" by misleading commanders into thinking that the tank, artillery, and massive infantry actions of early 2003 would literally be "decisive;" when in fact, as Kilcullen puts it, the most critical phase would actually be the post-conflict nation-building and counterinsurgency.

Kilcullen's new lexicon would go far beyond what the memos suggest; but it surely encompasses such a minor linguistic change as well.

Hearts, minds, and stomachs

Joscelyn argues that "many" Moslems have already made up their minds that terrorism against the West is holy war. This is certainly true... but it's also a non-sequitur, since nobody has ever argued that there is not a large group of Islamic clerical terrorist enablers. Even the militant Islamists and terrorist collaborators in CAIR admit that much!

But does Joscelyn accept, even now, that there are many Moslem mugwumps? That for many of them, "jihad" and "mujahideen" are entirely positive terms that help legitimize the death cultists and human sacrificers?

If he doesn't accept this premise, then does he believe there are no undecideds? Does he dispute that for these undecideds, words like "jihad" and "mujahideen" have mostly positive connotations -- as they do for most Moslems, according to the DHS memo (which Joscelyn has also read)?

Or does he believe -- most likely, I think -- that nothing we say or do can possibly have any effect on these undecideds; that they pay attention only to Moslem clerics? If so, then I wish he would straightforwardly make that argument... because I simply don't buy it as is.

We have always insisted that a critical element of warfare is to win the "hearts and minds" of those on the enemy side who are not totally committed to his cause; that tactic presupposes that such persuasion is at least possible.

It seems to have been possible among some Germans in Nazi Germany, among some citizens of Warsaw Pact nations, and among many North Vietnamese: In all of those conflicts, we had many allies within the enemy ranks, just as they had a number of their own allies within ours.

Are Moslems uniquely immune to the lure of such Western -- and not necessarily anti-Islamic -- concepts as democracy, security, and tolerance of individual opinion? I don't believe this, and I'm sure that Thomas Joscelyn doesn't either. But if we agree that such propaganda is sometimes effective, and that there is no inherent reason why that general rule wouldn't apply within the Islamic world... then why not try using it?

What can we possibly lose by refusing to call terrorist butchers and their depraved human sacrifices "holy?" Why should we continue to provide four-part harmony to their self-serving song of themselves? If Joscelyn will answer that question, I promise to ponder his argument deeply (as deep as I'm capable of being).

The only remaining question is whether we have the will -- the stomach -- to inaugurate an all-out propaganda campaign to win whatever hearts and minds we can, hoping they will form the nucleus of the only real, long-term solution to our problem: an Islamic Enlightenment, similar to what Christianity went through in the eighteenth century.

Bottom line

I cede Joscelyn his first point, that he was thinking of a different memo (NCTC's) -- whose argument was nevertheless identical to several decimal points to the one I thought he meant (DHS's).

On his second point, he is correct that I have changed my own use of language as I read new arguments why our lexicon matters; but the reason is not that I obey orders and "submit" to the will of my masters, but rather that I don't consider some phrase I'm currently using to be an "eternal verity" that can never change. I always consider the opinion of those more expert than I that there may be better terminology to use... and so should everyone, including Mr. Joscelyn.

Rhetoric should be a movable verity, one that changes as circumstances change... yet always strives toward the ultimate goal.

But Thomas Joscelyn loses the most important point by default: There is no reason to mock these memos as mere semantics -- when semantics can have such a large impact on a small but critically placed group of Moslem mugwumps. The linguistic change may do some good; it fits in well with what a recognized military expert on the pointy end has suggested; the changes were designed by other recognized experts within the government bureaucracy; and not even Thomas Joscelyn has articulated any bad effects such a change would cause... other than repeating his mantra that we have "fail[ed] to name the enemy" because we use a different name than the familiar, comfortable one Thomas Joscelyn prefers.

Color me unrepentant, unregenerate, and uncowed.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 4, 2008, at the time of 5:55 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 3, 2008

Talking Islam 3: the "Jihad" Watchdog

Confusticated Conservatives , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Frequent commenter Wtanksleyjr challenged me to respond to this blogpost by Robert Spencer. Spencer attacks a State Department memo -- actually prepared by the Extremist Messaging Branch at the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC) and released through the State Department -- that urges the U.S. government to change the lexicon by which it refers to militant Islamists and terrorists.

In fact, Spencer does not respond to the memo itself, which he neither links nor quotes. He responds only to the Times op-ed by P. W. Singer of the liberal Brookings Institution and Elina Noor of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Malaysia, and what the op-ed says about the memo. But his attack is no more effective than earlier attacks on the earlier DHS memo with which we've already dealt....

Our previous posts on this issue are:

Spencer is often cited as an authority on Islam, but he is actually just a pundit like the rest of us. (If you want an actual Islamic scholar, try Bernard Lewis.) He writes columns for some magazines -- and several of them are quite good. This isn't meant as a fisking of Spencer, whose heart is in the right place. Alas, I just don't think his rhetorical abilities are up to the task.

Spencer has very rigid, unchangeable views on Islam... which he sees (surprise) as rigid and unchangeable. Reading the Truth About Muhammad, Spencer's best known book, Sachi found numerous examples of verses that Spencer insisted could only possibly be read one way, as commanding eternal war against the infidel; yet she, herself thought of several contrary yet equally apropos ways to read the same verses. She was not impressed by his critical thinking.

And neither have I been, when I've read his articles... even when I agree with him, as with his attacks on Iran appeasers and on Rep. Keith Ellison (D-CAIR, 100%). Alas, this piece is no exception.

At first, I thought Spencer was going to give us a different argument:

At issue here is whether it is propagandistic, and playing into the hands of the enemy, to call Osama bin Laden and others like him "jihadists," or whether it is merely descriptive to do so -- in which case avoiding doing so would be playing into the hands of the enemy, for if we cannot name the enemy correctly, we certainly cannot defeat him.

This sounds like he correctly understands that the point of the memo is not to assuage the hurt feelings of the terrorists in the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), but rather to deny a propaganda victory to the terrorists. But reading further, he switches to making exactly the same mistake as the other conservatives who have attacked that memo (or in Spencer's case, a New York Times op-ed on the memo in place of the memo itself):

Here is the fundamental assumption of the new State Department guidelines, as well as of Singer and Noor: that the jihadists are twisting the meaning of jihad within Islam, appropriating for their own purposes what is in traditional Islam a spiritual struggle or a struggle for justice. Singer and Noor appear unaware that the term jihad fi sabeel Allah in the Qur'an and Islamic tradition refers specifically to warfare. They also probably do not realize that in Islamic theology justice is equated with Sharia, such that an "external fight for justice" is a fight to impose Islamic law, with its denial of the freedom of conscience and institutionalized discrimination against women and non-Muslims.

No, no, no! Nobody I have read -- including liberals Singer and Noor -- argues that the word "jihad" cannot mean armed conflict to advance justice and godliness; this is the mother of all straw men in this debate. This is the "bad meme" I referred to in Talking Islam 2.

The underlying assumption behind the memo is that language influences how people think; this is a core conclusion of neurolingistics. If we agree publicly with al-Qaeda that what they're actually doing -- bombing their way across the ummah -- constitutes "armed conflict to advance justice and godliness," then we have lost the propaganda campaign.

Let's take a cleaner example: We all know what Hezbollah is; it's a bloodthirsty death cult that butchers people by the thousands, without regard to race, religion, or even creed... just anybody that the Iranian political leaders tell them to bomb, shoot, or otherwise slay.

But what do they call themselves? Hezbollah literally translates as "army of God." Every time we say Hezbollah this or Hezbollah that, linguistically, we're agreeing with the gangsters that they're God's holy army on earth.

If instead we relentlessly and mercilessly called them "Iran's mercenaries," "Iran's gangsters," or "Iran's enforcers" -- which, by the way, is much more accurate and (Spencer's term) "descriptive" than calling them the army of God -- we use linguistics to drive home the point, to anyone who hears or reads what we say, that they're not a "holy force" trying to unify the ummah behind the true Islam, but rather just a brutal and thuggish army-without-uniforms that does the bidding of whoever currently runs Iran... whether that's Ali Khamenei, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, or perhaps tomorrow, Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi.

Whether such neugolinguistic tactics work, they certainly cannot hurt. And it's hardly "PC" to refuse to call these terrorists the "army of God" and instead call them "Iran's enforcers."

In his blogpost, Spencer writes:

Al-Qaeda and other contemporary jihadists did not originate this definition of jihad from Ibn Arafa, a scholar of the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, who explains that jihad is "fighting by a Muslim against a kaafir [unbeliever] (who does not have a treaty with the Muslims) to make the word of Allah the highest."

But that begs the question, for this is not what al-Qaeda is doing. They're not trying to "make the word of Allah the highest;" they're trying to make the word of Osama bin Laden (or perhaps his spritual mentor, Ayman Zawahiri) the highest. Most of their energy is spent in murdering "fellow" Moslems with whom they disagree over politics. At best, they're sectarian killers trying to assassinate their way into control of the ummah. How is it "PC" to consistently and relentlessly point this out -- and to deny them their preferred, self-congratulatory term for themselves?

The problem with Robert Spencer is that he is utterly locked into the belief that we are basically at war with Islam itself; that Islam is irredeemably evil; that the Koran can only be read to authorize -- nay, command! -- eternal, bloody war against the West. He insists that Islam must change; but the change he appears to envision is not an Islamic enlightenment but a mass Islamic conversion... which I think he knows isn't going to happen.

Spencer simply does not believe that contemporary Moslems will ever turn against this so-called "jihad." How, then, does he explain the fact that many Moslem nations and the largest of the Moslem religious organizations disagree with him? Simple: He doesn't.

For Spencer's point to carry, he must deny that this is so:

  • He cannot admit, for example, that Turkey is a functioning democracy that has not attacked its neighbors (or the West) since the the Ottoman Empire fell and, a few years later, the Republic of Turkey was created.
  • He must pretend that Iraq can never be a functioning democracy that supports the West (despite the fact that it already is).
  • He must insist that he knows more about the Koran than Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Abdurrahman Wahid, a.k.a. Gus Dur, and any other Islamic scholar or cleric who comes out foursquare against what Spencer calles "jihadism"; either that, or else he must accuse everybody who has ever reported on any of these "mainstream," nonviolent Moslems of lying and fabricating quotations to make them look good.

Spencer is an absolutist -- which means that it's impossible to disagree with him unless you're either a fool, an appeaser... or a "jihadist" yourself. He often doesn't even understand the arguments arrayed against his position; and he sometimes replaces them with superficially similar arguments he has already rejected.

For example, I have long derided the term "Islamofascist," or the even stupider term of Michael Medved, "Islamo-Nazi." Spencer later published an article that attacked my position (not because of me; I doubt he's ever even heard of Dafydd ab Hugh or Big Lizards... but others have objected as well); you can find it here.

Now there have been historical examples of Islamic forms of fascism; the Muslim Brotherhood, for example, as well as the political philosophy of Gamal Abdel Nasser, president-for-life of Egypt from 1954-1970. But the term is not used that precisely; in fact, it's flung willy nilly at any Islamic group that practices terror, whether they're religious or socialist, pan-Islamic or only pan-Arabic, a putative "jihadist" group or a revolutionary group. The phrase Islamofascist is therefore utterly useless, because it has no set meaning other than "I don't like you."

Here is Spencer defending the term "Islamo-Fascism" as its used, without even looking into the different kinds of groups that acquire the epithet:

First things first: "Islamo-Fascism" has connections to fascism, as Christopher Hitchens has pointed out, because “both movements are based on a cult of murderous violence that exalts death and destruction and despises the life of the mind.” Both are nostalgic for past glory, obsessed with real and imagined humiliations and thirsty for revenge, filled with anti-Semitism, and committed to sexual repression and its subordination of the female.

Hitchens is a great guy in some ways; but as a critical thinker, he leaves much to be desired. He opposes Islamist terrorism -- but he equally opposes Capitalism (Hitchens is a proud socialist). These similarities exist... but few besides Robert Spencer would use the Hitchens equation as the definition of fascism. Spencer continues:

There is nothing artful or contrived in the term “Islamo-Fascism.” It is derived from history itself. Hassan al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (from which today’s radical Muslim groups descend) was, after all, an open admirer and supporter of Adolf Hitler -- as was the principal theorist of the modern jihad, Sayyid Qutb. During World War II, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, cousin of Yasir Arafat and spiritual godfather of Palestinian nationalism, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, pronounced his pro-Nazi sympathies openly and proudly. In May 1941, he issued a fatwa calling upon the Germans to bomb Tel Aviv, and in November 1941 traveled to Berlin and met with Hitler. He implored the Nazi dictator to help implement a Final Solution in the Middle East. Then he went to the Balkans, where he spearheaded the creation of Muslim units of the Waffen SS.

Does it occur to Spencer that this is nothing but an alliance for common cause? Hitler wanted to obliterate Judaism; Islamic radical militants want to obliterate Judaism. But that does not mean that Islamic terrorism is best described as "Naziism." For one major difference, very few Islamic terrorist groups are avowedly atheist. (And even fewer worship the Germanic pagan god Wotan.)

But such public German paganism (and private atheism) were just as central to Naziism as was Jew hatred. And of course, Italian fascism had nothing to do with race-based Jew hatred... at least not until it was taken over by the Nazis, relegating the founder of fascism, Benito Mussolini, to the status of sidekick.

Finally, Spencer gives us yet another definition of Islamofascism:

In terms of the specific terrorist groups and entities mentioned in the MSA packet, all of them -- along with many others -- have indeed made clear that they wish to destroy the United States and dominate the world under an oppressive caliphate – that is, a unified Islamic state ruled by Islamic Sharia law

Rule by theocracy under the supposed direct word of God... how is this the least bit like actual fascism? Is Spencer saying that any empire that sought to "dominate the world" was fascist? Alexander, Caesar, the British Empire -- was Napoleon a fascist? If so, then that word no longer has any meaning.

What Spencer has done here is replace the initial argument -- that we shouldn't use the term "Islamofascism" because it's a poorly defined and misleading neologism -- with a much easier, straw-man argument: That we shouldn't use the term because it's insulting to peace-loving "jihadis." The second argument can be knocked down by simply showing that militant Islamism is, well, militant; while that may be a necessary condition to being "fascist," it's by no means sufficient. And the term fails the other required test... showing that fascism is the correct brand of militarism to use as an analogy to militant Islamism.

This technique is classical Spencerism.

My argument against the term Islamofascism is twofold: First, the second part of the term, "fascism," is so powerful linguistically that it utterly overshadows the first part, "Islam;" yet the most salient fact about militant Islamism is its Islamic character and pretensions... not any putative connection to the economic theories of Mussolini (or Hitler, for that matter).

Second, associating contemporary Islamic death cults with the Fascists or the Nazis fails to note how incredibly primitive and reactionary the former are... fascism and Naziism are twentieth-century heresies of modernity; but radical militant Islamism utterly rejects modernity and civilization, urgently demanding a retreat to the barbaric absolute monarchy of the dawn of the seventh century in the Middle East. "Sharia" terrorists don't even rise to the civilizational level of Nazis.

Fascists would consider such a position even lower on the evolutionary scale than "capitalist imperialism." Calling such human-sacrificing throwbacks "Islamofascists" is like dubbing some aggressive, stone-age warrior-tribe in Melanesia "cannibal-fascists."

Spencer never addresses either of these two points; instead, he fixates on the idea that it's not politically correct and might insult Islamic terrorists... a pair of straw men easily brushed aside with a minimum of intellectual effort.

Back to the core argument. What Spencer does not appear to understand is that religions really do change; but they change internally when their earlier paradigm ceases to work. We have good evidence that Islam hit that point of non-viability in its present form some time ago; Bernard Lewis wrote an entire book analyzing that historical fact: What Went Wrong? There is some evidence that the current (ca. 1920s) so-called pan-Islamic reactionary caliphist movements (as well as the more modernist, socialist movements of, e.g., Nasser of Egypt) are floundering attempts to respond to that failure.

(The collapse is manifest even from within Islam: They have only to compare the economic state of the ummah to that of the West. Why would Allah permit such destitution and backwardness, unless they were doing something wrong?)

So Islam is poised to change. And the only change that will stick is one that is more successful than the current paradigm. But that cannot be one that locks them into perpetual warfare with an enemy that is bigger, richer, and more powerful... and which would crush the ummah like a grape in any direct confrontation.

Most Moslems today do not materially participate in this putative "jihad;" even Spencer agrees. He argues that a majority are either passive supporters or apathetic. But even there, he relies upon polls of dubious authenticity or accuracy; we have no idea how many Moslem respondents honestly believe what they say in such polls, vice how many answer a certain way because they think they're supposed to do.

That polling effect arises even here; we often see polling that is much more PC than the actual vote. In a poll, the respondent is actually talking to a person he imagines might disapprove of his opinion; so he says what he thinks the pollster wants to hear. But later, when he is alone in the voting booth, he is free to vote his actual belief.

That is one of several reasons why I do not believe polling that says some enormous percent of Moslems support "jihad." Another reason, as even Spencer agrees, is that respondents may be thinking of jihad in its "spiritual improvement" sense. A third is that the poll itself is usually conducted by "stringers," who (a) may be agents of jihadist groups (and may let the respondents know what will happen if they answer wrong), or (b) may simply get bored, stop knocking on doors, and just make up the numbers.

And a fourth reason for polling skepticism is that pollsters often ask questions that would cause even me to sound like a "jihadist," such as asking whether a suicide bombing is "ever" justified. Anyone who has the least bit of historical knowledge -- and I proudly admit that "the least bit of historical knowledge" is exactly what I have -- remembers that Claus von Stauffenberg planted a bomb in Adolf Hitler's briefing room in the Führerbunker. As it happens, von Stauffenberg left before the explosion; but had he stayed to ensure that Hitler actually died -- thus making it more likely the plot would have succeeded -- wouldn't that suicide bombing still be "justified?"

I would have to answer "Yes," which means the poll would have marked me down as a jihadist!

Instead of fixating on hard-to-interpret polling, look at what happens when we make secret contact with people who actually live under the control of al-Qaeda or the Taliban or Shiite militias... and we offer our help to free themselves: A huge percentage take us up on the offer and fight for freedom. That sure doesn't sound like people who cheer on al-Qaeda.

According to Spencer, however, none of this is happening. From his blogpost:

It consequently may seem wise for us to try to impugn that legitimacy [of being on God's side] by calling them other names, but then we must ask ourselves: which authority carries more weight for a pious Muslim -- an Islamic scholar renowned for centuries, or the non-Muslim American government?

According to Spencer's theory, Moslems will believe Islamic scholars rather than the non-Moslem American government.

According to the eyewitness accounts of our soldiers in Iraq, Moslems threw in with the non-Moslem American government and actually went to war against al-Qaeda, against Muqtada Sadr, and against the theological teachings of Iranian scholars in Qom.

Which source I should believe?

As Robert Anton Wilson used to say, "convictions make convicts." Spencer's convictions cause him to turn his back on the evidence of his own eyes:

If Muslims really reject the worldview propagated by Al-Qaeda, they can show it best not by getting huffy about Western nomenclature, but by actually fighting against the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism in their communities. Where is this happening?

In Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Indonesia, in Turkey, in Somalia, and elsewhere. There are many places where Moslems are actually bearing arms against al-Qaeda.

Where in the world are mosques preaching against Osama's Islam, and presenting a viable Islamic alternative that advocates peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims as equals on an indefinite basis? Why, nowhere.

In Indonesia (Nahdlatul Ulama), in Iraq (the "Quietist" school of Sistani), in Turkey (where their madrassim teach exactly that -- and they're exporting that alternative to Wahhabism/Salafism around the world).

Do I think Robert Spencer has never seen or heard of any of this? No, it's impossible, given his interests. Therefore, he must simply reject it all out of hand, because it violates what he "knows" must be true. How is this any different from what Thomas Sowell calls the vision of the anointed?

I understand that many people revere Spencer for (this should make you cringe) speaking truth to power. And I don't deny that he is courageous in sticking to his principles. But I cannot be impressed by Robert Spencer's analytic ability: He begins with his conclusion and reasons backwards... as do most people.

To impress me, however, a person must rise above that average level of mentation and show me that he can break free of his own preconvictions. I want to see an example where Spencer arrives at a conclusion he never expected, merely because that's where the evidence leads. That would make me sit up and take notice.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, June 3, 2008, at the time of 8:36 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

May 31, 2008

Talking Islam 2: A Bad Meme Infects the Conservative Meme Pool - CORRECTION

Confusticated Conservatives , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

In our previous post about Bret Stephens' ham-fisted misinterpretation of a memo from the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the Department of Homeland Security -- which urges the U.S. government to change the lexicon by which it refers to militant Islamists and terrorists, in order to open what I dubbed an ideological counterinsurgency -- I noted that the usually solid and dependable Bret Stephens had utterly misunderstood the purpose of the memo... which is a neat trick, since it nakedly declared its real purpose right in the memo itself. Heather Wilhelm at Real Clear Politics negligently accepted Stephens' misunderstanding and acted as the first carrier.

We're beginning to see a full-blown epidemic of destructive memes (a meme-idemic?): The bad Stephens memes spread through the body politic (the "dextrosphere," in this case) with the speed of a bacterial epidemic in the real world, as each new person infected by the Stephochete spreads it further through the conservative intellectual domain.

Now, Power Line points us to the most recent outbreaks: Two reviews of the book Willful Blindness, by Andrew McCarthy, hijack the book to bash DHS anent this memo; and both give all appearance that the authors never actually read the memo itself... just Bret Stephens' bad caricature of it.

The first review is by Thomas Joscelyn for the Weekly Standard, the second (subscriber only) by Bruce Thornton for the National Review.

CORRECTION: In a response to Big Lizards in the Weekly Standard -- and never did I expect to be typing that! -- Joscelyn responds that he was not bashing the DHS memo but a memo from the Extremist Messaging Branch at the National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), and released through the State Department, that made identical arguments; I happily accept the correction. I shall make occasional other corrections in this piece that arise from this mistake.

Throughout Joscelyn's review, he consistently refers to the terrorists as "jihadists." But to Moslems or Arabic speakers, the word "jihad" means "holy war": To call someone a "jihadist" is the same as calling him a holy warrior... which is precisely what the death cultists and human sacrificers pine to be. Using the word thus accepts their self-designation at face value without demanding a single concession in return.

This is precisely the argument the memo makes: Why add legitimacy to terrorist claims of holiness? Yet Joscelyn seems not to understand this straightforward point; instead, he imagines a very different (and monumentally silly) basis for the objection to the word "jihadist":

The strategic failure McCarthy exposes is ongoing, and extends even to something as basic as naming the enemy. Just as Willful Blindness was released, the State Department and other agencies published an edict banning the use of the word "jihadist" (as well as similar terms) from the government's lexicon. The thinking is that the terrorists like to call themselves "jihadists," thereby appropriating an Islamic term which can have far more benevolent meanings, such as the struggle for spiritual betterment or simply to do good.

It is true that, in some Islamic traditions, "jihad" has been endowed with such inoffensive meanings. But as McCarthy rightly argues, "jihad" has far more frequently been used to connote violent campaigns against infidels since the earliest days of Islam. When Sheikh Rahman called on his followers to wage "jihad," they knew that their master did not mean for them to become absorbed in prayer.

Moreover, Washington is apparently too obtuse to notice that Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda's terrorists, Tehran's mullahs, and Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi clerics have called for a militant brand of jihad persistently over the past several decades. All of these parties know how their words will be interpreted by the Muslim masses, and no fiat from the Washington bureaucracy will undo this widely accepted meaning.

In this clumsy tirade, Joscelyn makes it quite clear that he has never actually read the memo itself, which certainly does not make the argument that "jihad" shouldn't be used because it really means a struggle for spiritual improvement. Joscelyn appears simply to have made that up. [Joscelyn insists he did so read the memo; very well, then he did not read closely -- because again, even the correct NCTC memo does not make the argument he attributes to it.]

Here is what the DHS memo actually says about the word "jihad":

What terrorists fear most is irrelevance; what they need most is for large numbers of people to rally to their cause. There was a consensus that the USG should avoid unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers, or spokesmen for ordinary Muslims. Therefore, the experts counseled caution in using terms such as "jihadist," "Islamic terrorist,'' "Islamist," and "holy warrior" as grandiose descriptions.

And here is what the NCTC memo says:

Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahideen' in conversation to describe the terrorists. A mujahed, a holy warrior, is a positive characterization in the context of a just war. In Arabic, jihad means "striving in the path of God" and is used in many contexts beyond warfare. Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement a global jihad unintentionally legitimizes their actions.

First, "jihadist" was not banned [by the DHS memo]; the memo suggests caution.

[Joscelyn has a better argument with the NCTC memo; but even there, on the first page, it says:

The following set of suggestions regarding appropriate language for use in conversations with target audiences was developed by the Extremist Messaging Branch of the National Counterterrorism Center [NCTC] and vetted by the interagency "Themes and Messages" editorial board at the CTCC. This advice is not binding and is for use with our audiences. It does not affect other areas such as policy papers, research analysis, scholarly writing, etc. The purpose of this paper is to raise awareness among communicators of the language issues that may enhance or detract from successhl engagement.

Joscelyn writes, "Sounds like a ban to me;" I say, sounds like a non-binding suggestion to me.]

Second, it does not suggest caution because of any confusion over the true meaning of jihad, rather because jihad is not a dirty word to Moslems... it's a heroic term. It's every bit as counterproductive as calling insurgents "freedom fighters," when in fact they are bloody-minded terrorists.

Instead, the DHS memo suggests the term "death cultists" -- which can hardly be faulted for refusing to call the enemy what he is. The DHS memo also suggests dubbing terrorists takfiri (when talking to Arabic speakers); takfir is the act of "excommunicating" fellow Moslems for "apostasy." After declaring them non-Moslems, killing them becomes legitimiate, in the eyes of other militants. Takfir is always a horribly negative term in Arabic... unlike jihad, which is generally a positive term (several different meanings, all good).

[The NCTC memo suggests "terrorists," "violent extremists," and "totalitarian"... which, once again, does not sound particularly PC to me. Does it to you, readers?]

In other words, this memo constitutes one of the first attempts by the government to generate a "new lexicon," as David Kilcullen famously called for in his article in Small Wars Journal a year ago. Jim Guirard expanded on this article in his own piece a week later: "David Kilcullen's Call for a New Lexicon":

The first of Kilcullen's five steps toward an effective antidote -- a worldwide chemotherapy counterattack -- on the raging AQST cancer is his call for "a new lexicon based on the actual, observed characteristics of [our] real enemies ..."

....Although he does not list particulars of this proposed new lexicon, here are more than a dozen of the Arabic and Islamic words of which he would almost surely approve. They are the words, the semantic tools and weapons, we will need to break out of the habit-of-language box (largely invented by Osama bin Laden himself) which currently depicts us as us the bad guys, the "infidels" and even "the Great Satan" -- and which sanctifies suicide mass murderers as so-called jihadis and mujahideen ("holy guys") and "martyrs" on their heroic way to Paradise....

irhab (eer-HAB) -- Arabic for terrorism, thus enabling us to call the al Qaeda-style killers irhabis, irhabists and irhabiyoun rather than the so-called "jihadis" and "jihadists" and "mujahideen" and "shahids" (martyrs) they badly want to be called. (Author's lament: Here we are, almost six years into a life-and-death War on Terrorism, and most of us do not even know this basic Arabic for terrorism)....

takfir (takh-FEER) -- the Wahhabi and al Qaeda-style practice of making wholesale (and largely false and baseless) accusations of apostasy and disbelief toward Allah and the Qur'an. Those radicals, absolutists and judgmental fanatics who engage in this divisive practice of false witness are called "takfiri...."

So, what is the point of this new and improved lexicon of Arabic and Islamic words and frames of reference? In terms of the vital "hearts, minds and souls" aspects of the Long War (or is it the Endless War?) on AQ-style Terrorism about which Dr. Kilcullen is so appropriately concerned, the rewards could be great, indeed.

Just for starters, imagine the khawarij (outside the religion) al Qaeda's great difficulty in winning the approval of any truly devout and faithful Muslims whatever once these genocidal irhabis (terrorists) come to be viewed by the Umma (the Muslim World) as mufsiduun (evildoers) engaged in Hirabah (unholy war) and in murtadd (apostasy) against the Qur'an's God of Abraham -- and as surely on their way to Jahannam (Eternal Hellfire) for their Satanic ways.

In this context of truth-in-language and truth-in-Islam, bin Ladenism's so-called "Jihadi Martyrdom" becomes Irhabi Murderdom (Genocidal Terrorism), instead, with it a hot ticket to Hellfire rather than to Paradise. And is this not precisely the powerful disincentive we need for the unholy cancer of suicide mass murder?

So Thomas Joscelyn assumes that the memo (which he clearly did not read [closely] before critiquing) "bans" the use of the term jihadist out of some exaggerated sense of tolerance for those Moslems who use it to mean spiritual development; while in reality, the DHS memo merely urges "caution" in using the term [while the NCTC memo makes the "suggestion" it be avoided] because it confers upon the militant Islamists exactly the legitimacy they crave. And the memo very closely tracks a call by Col. David Kilcullen to develop an official "new lexicon" to undercut al-Qaeda by changing the language used in discussing militant Islamism.

Perhaps some of you remember David Kilcullen: He is the ex-Australian-Army colonel who was the top civilian counterinsurgency and counterterrorism advisor to Gen. David Petraeus, while the latter was the commander of Multinational Force - Iraq during the so-called "surge." Kilcullen now serves that same role on the staff of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

I think Petraeus' best mate knows a thing or two about counterinsurgency. But perhaps Mr. Joscelyn knows better. After all, he is a "terrorism researcher, writer, and economist," a subject-matter expert unencumbered by the necessity of putting his theories into practice on the battlefield, with lives on the line. (Of course, I myself do not even rise to what George W. Bush would call a "pundent;" so what do I know? Though at least I can parse simple English sentences with clarity and precision.)

Evidently, Bruce Thornton in NR is another such expert. I cannot see his entire review (I don't subscribe), but Power Line quotes the relevant passage:

This jihadist ideology motivated Abdel Rahman and the 9/11 jihadists, and continues to motivate Islamic terrorism today. But, then and now, this obvious traditional belief is ignored or rationalized away by those entrusted with our security: The secretary of state publicly croons that Islam is the “religion of peace and love,” and the State and Homeland Security departments instruct their employees not to use words like “jihad” or “mujahedeen” (holy warrior) in their communications. In contrast to this delusional thinking, McCarthy bluntly, and correctly, states the obvious: “Islam is a dangerous creed. It rejects core aspects of Western liberalism: self-determination, freedom of choice, freedom of conscience, equality under the law.” We refuse to face the truth about Islam, and thus we disarm ourselves before “a doctrine that rejects our way of life and a culture unwilling or unable to suppress the savage element it breeds wherever it takes hold.”

If we assume this is not a complete non-sequitur, then we must conclude that Thornton is under the impression that the reason DHS [and NCTC] give for cautioning against the promiscuous use of "jihadist" is that the word is actually synonymous to the virtues that form the core of Western liberalism. Else how else could that core stand "in contrast to [DHS's] delusional thinking?"

Which means that Thornton also didn't bother reading the DHS [or NCTC] memos, only a careless reader's drive-by mischaracterization.

Is it really too much to ask that intellectual heavy-hitters with much knowledge of Islamic terrorism, writing reviews of an important book for respectable, nationally distributed conservative magazines, at least bestir themselves to read the primary document -- not a secondary source of dubious authority -- before firing their broadsides at the Department of Homeland Security? Good heavens, Big Lizards applies stricter literary standards before publishing a blogpost!

I read much of Joscelyn's online book, Iran's Proxy War Against America, and found it first rate; I don't know who Thornton is, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, subject-matter experts are just as prone to careless reading as the rest of us... especially when the misreading fits their preconceived notions of their enemies (DHS [and State], in this case) as benighted fools and political poltroons.

Yet such outbursts of "I don't need to read them, I know what they're going to say" often prove far more embarassing for experts than for us ordinary folk, who have nothing much to lose by accidentally spreading malicious memes.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 31, 2008, at the time of 11:29 PM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

May 27, 2008

Talking Islam 1: Why Bret Stephens Acted the Fool, and Why Heather Wilhelm Needs a Neuron Infusion

Confusticated Conservatives , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The Department of Homeland Security is finally doing something right on the urgent task of confronting the terrorist ideology; but some conservatives, quagmired in their "clash of civilizations" nightmare, are unprepared even to listen. Alas, Bret Stephens, writing on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, plays to this crowd (perhaps inadvertently) by mocking a DHS internal memo as "Newspeak" for recommending the language to use to avoid driving mainstream Moslems into the terrorist ideology and instead give them good reason to come over to the side of civilization.

(On Real Clear Politics, Heather Wilhelm dutifully follows suit, parroting Stephens' hilarity with a one-sentence dismissal of the memo -- without, evidently, bothering to read the memo herself or form her own opinion; consider this a rather left-handed hat tip.)

Our government does a lot of stupid, self-destructive things in the long war -- for example, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were once stalwart against negotiating or even meeting with Palestinian representatives (whether Hamas or Fatah) until and unless they both recognized the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state and also renounced terrorism... and actually stopped committing terrorist acts. Both Bush and Rice declared this a necessary first step in the "Road Map to Peace."

But now, they appear to have abandoned that precondition and are willing to invite to a Middle East peace conference countries and powers that not only refuse to recognize Israel but actively engage in terrorism against it.

However, that fact that the "invisible foot" of government frequently trips up our best laid plans should not blind us to cases where they really are trying to do the right thing -- and doing a fairly good job of it. I believe this is the case with the DHS memo; we need to see more action (and more sustained effort) in fighting the ideological as well as the military battles.

Stephens' column annoyed me precisely because it may strangle this vital effort in its cradle. Let me explain why that would be so defeatist...

I've been reading Douglas Feith's magnificent but very dense tome War and Decision; one of the most frustrating -- infuriating! -- sections details the attempts by Feith and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to get the State Department to move off of its collective posterior... and actually craft an ideological counterinsurgency (my term) to fight against the ideology of violence, murder, torture, and bombing promulgated by al-Qaeda, Iran, and other terrorist actors... an ideology that strongly attracts and least stable and most disaffected of Moslems around the world, losers who believe they have been marginalized by the tyrannical and unresponsive governments that still characterize the ummah.

State insisted that this fell into their jurisdiction, not the Pentagon's; but then they refused to engage or do anything other than issue a couple of press releases. Engaging the terrorist ideology head-on is vital to the war against global caliphism: Without our own futurist, international front of modernity, individualism, and freedom, how can we hope to confront and overpower the terrorists' reactionary ideology?

They preach bloody human sacrifice, eternal war, brutal repression of the individual, and destruction of every vestige of civilization and the modern world beyond what Mohammed himself knew. Without our own ideological counterinsurgency, we're left with nothing but brute physical force. (Certainly Gen. David Petraeus considers the ideological war of ideas to be as important to the Iraqi counterinsurgency as the military forces added during the "surge;" I assume he knows what he's talking about.)

Feith and Rumsfeld were ultimately thwarted in their attempts to get an ideological counterinsurgency up and running; but now, at least, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the DHS has actually begun the long overdue process: They issued an internal memo -- instantly leaked to the press by disgruntled leftists -- suggesting the language the USG (United States government) should use (and terms to avoid) in speaking about the war. It's actually not a bad first effort... despite Stephens' hooting and braying.

The first page of the memo explains why diction -- word choice -- is so important to winning the ideological war against those seeking to impose a worldwide caliphate:

[T]he terminology should also be strategic -- it should avoid helping the terrorists by inflating the religious bases and glamorous appeal of their ideology....

If senior government officials carefully select strategic terminology, the government's public statements will encourage vigilance without unintentionally undermining security objectives. That is, the terminology we use must be accurate with respect to the very real threat we face. At the same time, our terminology must be properly calibrated to diminish the recruitment efforts of extremists who argue that the West is at war with Islam.

DHS amplifies this message on pp. 7-8:

Bin Laden and his followers will succeed if they convince large numbers of people that America and the West are at war with Islam, and that a "clash of civilizations" is inherent. Therefore, USG officials should continually emphasize a simple and straightforward truth:

Muslims have been, and will continue to be part of the fabric of our country. Senior officials must make clear that there is no "clash of civilizations;" there is no "us versus them." We must emphasize that Muslims are not "outsiders" looking in, but are an integral part of America and the West.

Too many conservatives have fallen in love with the romantic idea of a "clash of civilizations," and they passionately believe that we are "at war with Islam." Of course, we aren't and shouldn't be: The majority of Moslems are at least open to modernity, liberty, and democracy, depending on how they are presented... that is, assuming they are not restricted only to those who renounce religiosity -- a requirement never demanded of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, or Hindus, who are allowed to be democratic, modern, yet also religious.

I have seen numerous hard-core, absolutist culture warriors roll their eyes in disgust at such "liberal" thinking. The very idea that not every Moslem wants to murder us all!

I do not believe Bret Stephens is among that group; but his cynicism about everything coming out of DHS makes him an unwitting tool of such absolutist conservatives... they use his column to buttress their own loser-philosophy.

They see themselves as hard-headed, reality-based grownups; anyone who believes that Islam and the West can coexist they accuse of being an infantile fantasist. But if they are correct, then we are already lost: If we literally are at war with a billion fanatics, each of whom is just one cartoon away from strapping on a suicide vest and heading off to the local Galleria, then we cannot possibly win such a war without changing the West so drastically, it would no longer be a liberal, democratic zone of the globe. We should have to become a military dictatorship ourselves to have a chance.

Fortunately, there isn't the slightest bit of evidence that this is true. Every Moslem-majority country has an element, exerting greater or lesser control, of global caliphists who are absolutely our enemies; I'll go farther... this is true in every country that has a substantial Moslem minority. But the existence of an insurgent fifth column within every Islamic enclave does not mean that each such enclave constitutes an insurgency.

That would be "liberal thinking" -- or more precisely, liberal fascist thinking... the idea that each individual is utterly defined by his group identity. That's the thinking behind liberal-fascist ideas from "affirmative action" and "hate-speech" codes to the round-up and incarceration of tens of thousands of Americans of Japanese descent in American concentration camps during World War II. How is liberal racist and classist dogma any different from saying that "all Arabs" or "all Moslems" are enemies of (and incapable of understanding) Western values such as democracy and freedom of conscience?

The overarching purpose of this DHS memo is to give the USG the language to avoid driving fence-sitting or even mainstream Moslems into the arms of militant Islamism, and instead to drive them towards modernity, democracy, and individualism:

Starting from the premise that words do indeed matter, three foundational assumptions inform this paper:

(1) We should not demonize all Muslims or Islam;

(2) Because the terrorists themselves use theology and religious terms to justify both their means and ends, the terms we use must be accurate and descriptive; and

(3) Our words should be strategic; we must be conscious of history, culture, and context. In an era where a statement can cross continents in a manner of seconds, it is essential that officials consider how terms translate, and how they will resonate with a variety of audiences.

So what, specifically, does the memo suggest? Here are a few of the recommendations:

  • They urge USG spokesmen to use "caution" in using terms like jihadist, Islamic terrorist, holy warrior, and even Islamist; the former terms because they "give the terrorists the legitimacy they seek" -- they're not really "holy warriors," for God's sake -- and the last, Islamism/Islamist, because, while it's certainly accurate, "it may not be strategic for USG officials to use the term because the general public, including overseas audiences, may not appreciate the academic distinction between Islamism and Islam."

This is not a slam against Moslems; even many Americans who do not study this stuff night and day get those terms mixed up and may not know they mean different things. Yet these suggestions of words to avoid produces much snorting and pawing by Stephens in his WSJ piece:

In "1984," George Orwell famously created Newspeak, "the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year." How things haven't changed. The Homeland Security memo begins by declaring that "Words matter," whereupon it proceeds to suggest that some words matter so much it's best not to use them at all. Instead, the memo proposes a "strategic terminology" to dictate the utterances of public officials regarding the so-called Global Struggle.

But Stephens completely misses the point. The memo does not argue that we shouldn't use such words out of an Orwellian desire to make the concepts themselves disappear, as if by magic.

It argues that government officials shouldn't use them for the same reason that we shouldn't call our military effort in Iraq and Afghanistan a "crusade" -- because it may frighten potential Moslem allies into thinking that we plan to take away their countries and force-convert them all to Christianity. Even suspecting such a thing would stampede many Moslems otherwise disposed towards us and against the terrorists into allying with the bad guys, for the same reason we allied with the Soviet Union during World War II: self preservation.

  • They warn government officials away from using the term "moderate Moslem," because many Moslems imagine that means a Moslem who doesn't really believe in Islam.

    A better term to use for a Moslem who does not support extremism, militancy, and violence against the innocent is to call him a mainstream Moslem, or an ordinary or traditional Moslem: That allows him to be very religious but still locates him within the larger Moslem community that does not sacrifice women and children to Moloch. (That's my analogy; the DHS paper doesn't use the terms "human sacrifice" or "Moloch," more's the pity.)

  • Similarly, they warn we should be careful using Arabic terms unless we really understand what they mean -- not just the literal text but the subtextual meaning as well.

    For example, al-Qaeda adherents are "Salafists;" they believe that Islam was perfect in the days of the prophet Mohammed and the two generations that followed, and that should be the model for Islam even today. But that doesn't mean that all Salafists are al-Qaeda supporters. So if we verbally attacked "Salafism," we would be condemning tens of millions of non-violent Moslems in order to get at the tens of thousands of violent Salafists among them. It's a terrible blunder, a stupid strategy that will lead to defeat, like attacking "Catholic priests" for being pederasts, when we really mean to attack just those priests who engaged in such horrific sins (and anyone who shielded them from exposure).

  • Nevertheless, the memo does suggest some Arabic terms that cannot be misunderstood. For example, they recommend understanding the concept of takfir: Moslems who declare other Moslems to be apostates or unbelievers ("kafiri"), making it legitimate (to takfiri) to blow them up or torture them to death. The term is universally used in Arabic as a purely negative concept: Nobody says, "Takfir and proud of it, man!"
  • Just as nobody says "I'm a cultist." Militant Islamism is a death cult, and that's a perfectly proper word to use against it: It's accurate -- they have very cult-like recruiting and retention techniques (lies, propaganda, isolation, physical coercion) -- and calling terrorists "death cultists" cannot possibly help them recruit new suicide bombers.

At a conference convened two years ago in Amman, Jordan, by King Abdullah, 200 leading Islamic scholars from 50 countries unanimously issued a fatwah condemning takfir; so it's not even controversial: Takfir is bad, and takfiri are despised:

Strictly speaking, takfirism most accurately describes terrorism by Muslims against other Muslims. But it may be strategic to employ the term in a wider context given that (1) many of the leaders of al-Qaeda are known to have adopted a takfiri ideology, and (2) part of the USG's anti-terrorism strategy should be to emphasize that the majority of the victims of modern terrorism are Muslim. There may also be a useful nexus to cult terminology; regarding takfiri indoctrination. French terrorism expert Roland Jacquard states: "Takfir is like a sect: Once you're in, you never get out. The Takfir rely on brainwashing and an extreme regime of discipline to weed out the weak links and ensure loyalty and obedience from those taken as members." Thus the phrase "takfiri dearh cult" may have some relevance.

Again, I don't think Stephens advocates a war of Islam vs. the West; he wrote a very penetrating article about Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Moslem organization in the world with more than 40 million members... and which is unabashedly pro-West, pro-modernity, and even (yes, really) pro-Israel. I read and posted about it at the time: We Found the "Moslem Methodists!"

But I sure wish Stephens could have thought a second time before firing off today's ill-advised and remarkably unhelpful column. We actually need to get on the same page here: Without a strong ideological component to the war against the takfiri death cults, we are not going to win. The DHS memo is at least a very good first step... and it's unfortunate that some folks are so stuck in the mode of knocking anything DHS or State does that they cannot even notice when they do something right for a change.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, May 27, 2008, at the time of 7:52 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

April 10, 2008

"Time to Begin to... Focus on the Challenges Posed by Afghanistan"

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters , Presidential Campaign Camp and Porkinstance , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The wit and wisdom of Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, April 8th, 2008:

Without mentioning Senator McCain by name, Senator Clinton responded that supporters of the Bush administration's policy often talk about the cost of leaving Iraq, yet ignore the greater cost of continuing the same failed policy....

"I think it is time to begin an orderly process of withdrawing our troops, start rebuilding our military and focusing on the challenges posed by Afghanistan, global terrorist groups and other problems that confront America," she said.

I think it safe to say that if Democrats have one unifying theme to their national-security policy, it is that Iraq is nought but a "distraction" from the real war, which is against al-Qaeda... but only against the branch of al-Qaeda found along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. They insist we must immediately withdraw virtually all our forces from Iraq and plant at least a significant portion of them in Afghanistan, to fight the good fight there instead.

Let's not speculate (for this post) about the real motivation behind the call to withdraw from Iraq or even whether Democrats are actually sincere in saying they would vastly increase the forces in Afghanistan. Let's assume complete good faith on their part. (I know it's a stretch, but work with me here.)

My question is -- what more, exactly, do Democrats expect us to do in Afghanistan?

We currently have 31,000 troops in Afghanistan as our component of the NATO mission (the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF); we have already pledged an additional 3,000 Marines for fighting and training purposes (to improve the Afghan National Army). Our ISAF allies have collectively sent an additional 28,000 forces, some of whom fight, while others only participate in nation-building efforts, bringing the total current NATO commitment to 59,000 troops.

The former Chief of Naval Operations of the U.S. Navy, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, wants this overall figure to increase by 7,500 soldiers and 3,000 military trainers; outgoing ISAF commander Gen. Dan McNeill wants to increase by two combat brigades (3,000-8,000 soldiers or Marines) and one training brigade (1,500-4000 soldiers or Marines):

[U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert] Gates said the number of additional combat troops would depend on several things, including the extent of U.S. and NATO success on the battlefield this year, as well as the impact of a new senior U.S. commander taking over in coming months. Gen. David McKiernan is due to replace Gen. Dan McNeill this spring as the top overall commander in Afghanistan.

McNeill has said he believes he needs three more brigades - two for combat and one for training. That translates to roughly 7,500 to 10,000 additional troops. The Bush administration has no realistic hope of getting the NATO allies to send such large numbers.

McKiernan told Congress on Thursday that while he can't yet say how many more troops he would want there, he believes he needs additional combat and aviation forces, intelligence and surveillance capabilities, and training and mentoring teams.

Marines don't use brigades as a normal organizational force; they prefer the regiment. Gen. McNeill is Army, much of our ISAF committment are Marines... so I'm not sure exactly how many troops he calls for. Let's just split the difference between small brigades and big: 5,500 incoming combat troops and 2,750 incoming trainers.

This would mean that we expect our ISAF partners -- all of whom have pledged more troops (France alone will up their committment by at least 700) -- to pony up an additional 3,500 combat troops and 1,750 trainers... unless the next president plans to increase our own committment by more than President Bush has proposed. As noted above, it's unlikely that we can get the full complement from our allies, whose military budgets are woefully small compared to ours (as ours is woefully small, as percent of GDP, compared even to the average of the last 45 years).

However we reach the goal, that would bring the NATO forces in Afghanistan to a total of more than 67,000 combined combat forces and training forces. That, by the way, is all the force that the top commander of ISAF says he needs; he has not called for additional tens of thousands of men.

So what about the Afghan National Army? We have been training them just as we have trained the Iraqi army. As of December 2007, the Afghan army comprised 57,000 soldiers, or about as large as the current ISAF force level. Presumably they are still recruiting, so we can expect tha tnumber to rise along with the NATO forces. But even as they are now, that makes a total integrated army of 116,000 today, rising to about 125,000 over the next year.

(The Afghans are probably not as close to being a modern army in equipment, strategy, and attitude as are the Iraqis, but that is a very high standard; they're certainly far better than they were just a year ago. Fewer units can take the lead, but they generally fight very well when NATO leads.)

So the real question for the Democrats is this: What could we do with, say, 225,000 troops that we can't do with 125,000? If we funneled even just 100,000 of our current 150,000 Iraqi troops into Afghanistan instead, what exactly would the extra brigades be doing that we're not doing successfully now?

And there's where you nit the snag: Afghanistan is even less a force-on-force war than Iraq. When we shifted from the failed "attrition" strategy of Gen. George Casey to the successful counterinsurgency strategy (COIN) of Gen. David Petraeus, we added only 30,000 extra soldiers, an increase of 23%. In Afghanistan, that would mean an increase of only 13,500 NATO troops -- which is only 3,500 more than we're already increasing them.

Is that all the Democrats envision, an additional 3,500 troops? Or are they thinking of something vastly bigger? I have the bizarre image in my head of a Democratic army of 200,000 extra soldiers, all linking hands and walking the length of the border to "find Osama bin Laden!" When (of course) they fail to find him, they'll declare that he, too, was invented by Bush, just like the WMD; there never was a 9/11 attack; and we can go back to Clintonian somnambulism again.

Back to real life. The main point of the so-called "surge" in Iraq was not the increase in troops but the change in strategy; the strategy -- specifically crafted for the Iraq situation -- happened to require 160,000 soldiers, and we only had 130,000 at the time; thus we increased our force structure by the difference.

There's been no such crafting of a COIN strategy in Afghanistan that I know of, because the situation there is not the same as it was in Iraq. But if we eventually do switch to COIN, we will have to evaluate the military needs from scratch... and we might end up increasing forces, but we might end up leaving them the same or even reducing them. The strategy must drive the troop levels, not the other way round. We won't increase troop levels just to increase troop levels, but only as part of a new strategy that demands more soldiers: The strategy comes first; setting force levels is a byproduct of the strategy.

Needless to say, no Democrat -- and no general advising a Democrat -- has crafted such a strategy or reasonably could, since it could only be done by a COIN specialist like Gen. Petraeus who had spent years in Afghanistan and was intimately familiar with the progress of the war and the nature of the enemy right there. So what the heck do candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and other Democratic elected officials, mean by saying we should be "focusing on the challenges posed by Afghanistan, global terrorist groups and other problems that confront America?" What does "focus" mean in this case?

They advocate pulling troops out of Iraq and putting them into Afghanistan. But doing what? Deployed how? Do they mean for combat or training? What mix of Special Forces, air forces, grunts, and administrative/logistics?

How do they want them organized? What strategy should they follow? What would be their rules of engagement? Can ground forces cross into Pakistan in hot pursuit? How about initiating cross-border contact?

Al-Qaeda's presence is mostly in the tribal areas that span the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan -- Balochistan, which also includes a piece of north-eastern Iran; South and North Waziristan in Pakistan; and several other provinces on both sides of the border; the heaviest fighting is currently in southern Afghanistan, which touches both Iran and Pakistan. According to Bill Roggio, attacks are heavy in Kunar in the eastern region, Khost in the southeast, and Helmand and especially Khandahar in the southern region:

According to NATO statistics, “More than 75% of [Afghanistan] experienced less than 1 security incident per quarter per 10,000 people, supporting the assessment that the insurgency is not expanding across [Afghanistan]. 70% of the events occurred in 10% of the districts. The population of these districts is less than 6% of the population of [Afghanistan].” NATO attributes the increase in violence to increased operations by NATO forces.

The problem is that the tribes there do not recognize the border; and there are many trails that cross the Tora Bora mountains or the Hindu Kush, along which al-Qaeda can retreat into Pakistan when we attack (or into Afghanistan when the Pakistani troops attack).

What we really need is a coordinated operation attacking from both sides simultaneously; but we could never get President Musharraf to go along with it... and I suspect we're even less likely to ally with his successor, who will almost certainly be a member either of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (the "N" is for Nawaz Sharif) or the Pakistan People's Party of the late Benazir Bhutto, both of which are more Islamist and less America-friendly than is Musharraf.

Sad to say, I don't think that a single Democrat has even so much as thought about these questions, let alone come up with any answers. The Democratic slogan "Withdraw troops from Iraq and send them to Afghanistan!" has every bit as much semantic content as their other slogan -- "Free Tibet!"... none at all.

At some point, we may well change strategy in Afghanistan to COIN... or we may change to some other strategy. We may decide to launch a pre-emptive attack on Balochistan and Waziristan; or we may end up cutting a deal with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani or caliph-maker Nawaz Sharif, after Pervez Musharraf is voted out.

But there is no way to know at this point what we're going to end up doing, because everything is in flux. Thus it's not not irresponsible, it's imbecilic to announce in early 2008 your military plan for Afghanistan in 2009. It's like a financial manager saying, "in 2009, we're going to sell the following stocks and invest in these others here." How can you possibly know today whether that will be a good decision a year from now?

So even giving the Democrats all benefit of the doubt on sincerity and motive, just taking their pronouncements at face value, I can only conclude, in strict social-science terms, that the Democrats are behaving like poorly trained baboons. Their long-war rhetoric is just empty jingoism, whose only purpose is to make them look tough in advance of elections.

They have no specific plan; they have no grand strategy; they're not even aware that such things are required (or exist). They've never read any books that would explain this to them. They don't even know enough to know that they don't know enough; to borrow a wonderful phrase from Donald Rumsfeld, to the Democrats, military strategy is an "unknown unknown."

I recommend we not put one in la Casablanca. I'm not even comfortable with them sitting on the national-security committees; alas, there's nothing we can do about that.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, April 10, 2008, at the time of 6:16 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 9, 2008

Between the Lines

Congressional Calamities , Iraq Matters , Liberal Lunacy , Media Madness , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

It's never safe to take at face value anything written by the mainstream media about Iraq. You must always tease the real story from the misleading and sometimes completely fabricated "first draft of history" they publish. But even propaganda can reveal the deeper truth.

It's now clear that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Iraqi army and Iraqi National Police showed decisive leadership and initiative -- perhaps a bit too decisive! -- during the recent Operation Knights' Charge in Basra. Even AP is reluctantly reporting the latest achievement of Nouri al-Maliki... though of course they couch it in dismissive terms:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's faltering crackdown [!] on Shiite militants has won the backing of Sunni Arab and Kurdish parties that fear both the powerful sectarian militias and the effects of failure on Iraq's fragile government.

The emergence of a common cause could help bridge Iraq's political rifts.

The head of the Kurdish self-ruled region, Massoud Barzani, has offered Kurdish troops to help fight anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.

More significantly, Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi signed off on a statement by President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and the Shiite vice president, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, expressing support for the crackdown in the oil-rich southern city of Basra.

The elite media used to criticize Maliki for not being able to bring other parties together and for not going after Shiite militias (that is, the Mahdi Militia, a.k.a. Jaish al Mahdi, or JAM). It's true that Vice President Hashemi and Prime Minister Maliki have been bitter rivals; but then, now that Hashemi has decided to support Maliki’s effort, how can the "crackdown" be “faltering?” Rather, shouldn't it now be called "strengthening" -- or even that other favorite media word, "mounting?" (I forgot for a moment: Only problems for Republicans are allowed to "mount.")

Political players in the Middle East are not known for backing the underdog; the best conclusion is that Hashemi has correctly assessed that the Basra crackdown is working, so now he wants to join the "strong horse." Of course, the Associated Press has its own defeatist tale of how the Battle of Basra ended:

The Basra crackdown, ostensibly waged against "outlaws" and "criminal gangs," bogged down in the face of fierce resistance and discontent in the ranks of government forces. Major combat eased after al-Sadr asked his militia to stop fighting last Sunday.

But al-Maliki continued his tough rhetoric, threatening to take his crackdown to the Mahdi Army's strongholds in Baghdad. Al-Sadr hinted at retaliation, and the prime minister backed down, freezing raids and arrests targeting the young cleric's supporters.

How can a campaign that ends with the enemy’s surrender be described as “bogged down?” (Thank goodness they didn't say "quagmired.") It's true that Maliki stated that he would halt offensive action for ten days, but not because he was afraid of Sadr’s revenge; if he feared Sadr, he would never have attacked in the first place -- or at least he would have stopped the moment he saw that the JAM was stronger than he expected.

But instead, Maliki responded to the fierce fighting by sending reinforcements into the battle and driving the JAM out of their entrenched positions. Now it's the Iraqi army that patrols the streets of Basra, not the Mahdi Militia.

There's more, much more that we now learn...

Here is what Bill Roggio (you knew he had to come into this debate somewhere!) has to say about the Battle of Basra:

Subsequent to the ceasefire, the Iraqi military announced it was moving reinforcements to Basra, and the next day pushed forces into the ports of Khour al Zubair and Umm Qasr. Iraqi special operations forces and special police units have conducted several raids inside Basra since then, while an Iraqi brigade marched into the heart of a Mahdi-controlled Basra neighborhood on April 2. And two days after Sadr called for a ceasefire, the government maintained a curfew in Sadr City and other Shia neighborhoods in Baghdad. None of this would be happening had Maliki simply caved to Sadr. [So much for the image of the PM cowering in fear of the sidelined Muqtada Sadr... who is himself still hiding in Qom, Iran, and afraid to show his face even in the Shiite areas of Iraq.]

Maliki's governing coalition did not revolt over this operation. When the Iraqi opposition held an emergency session of parliament to oppose the Basra operations, only 54 of the 275 lawmakers attended. AFP reported, "The two main parliamentary blocs--Shiite United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdish Alliance--were not present for the session which was attended by lawmakers from radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc, the small Shiite Fadhila Party, the secular Iraqi National List and the Sunni National Dialogue Council." The fact that the major political blocs in Iraq's parliament ignored the emergency session is politically significant, and no evidence suggests that Maliki's governing coalition has been jeopardized since then.

(Roggio is now posting at a new website you should all bookmark, Iraq Status Report)

The ten days suspension of offensive operations in the south was meant to give militia members time to lay down their weapons and surrender. Operation Knights' Charge continues against those Iran-trained, Iran-led elements of the JAM that have not stopped their own attacks, according to Roggio, this time writing in the Long War Journal, which he edits.

One of the reasons cited by the elite media to prove that Muqtada Sadr won the Battle of Basra is that Sadr's followers listened to him and stopped fighting when he told them. But it has become increasingly clear that Sadr himself no longer has operational control over the JAM; those element who were actually fighting against the Iraqi army were under the direct leadership of Iranian Qods Force commanders (the so-called "Special Groups")... as is Sadr himself, as Bill Roggio notes in the Long War Journal:

Just as the new Iraqi forces began to arrive in Basrah and US and British forces were gearing up to augment the Iraqi military, Muqtada al Sadr, under orders from Iran’s Qods Force, called for his fighters to withdraw from the streets. Sadr issued a nine-point list of demands, which included that operations cease. Maliki refused and Iraqi and US forces continued to move into Basrah and conduct pinpoint raids against Shia terror groups. More than 200 Mahdi Army fighters were killed, 700 were wounded, and 300 captured during the six days of fighting in Basrah alone.

Despite Sadr’s so-called "order" for them to stand down, some of these Special Groups continue to fight... and continue to be driven out. Eventually, they will have nowhere left to flee to except back into Iran, where they came from.

The media have also criticized Maliki for "not making political progress." Several senators said as much to Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker during the hearings in the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But now, as Maliki successfully reaches out to Kurds and Sunni and gains their support, do the MSM praise his effort? (Is that a rhetorical question?)

Of course they don't. They accuse him of seeking short term political gain for his own interests:

But other motives may have played a role in the crackdown.

Provincial elections are scheduled to be held before Oct. 1 and Shiite parties are gearing up for a tough contest in the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq, where oil-rich Basra and the wealthy religious centers of Najaf and Karbala are prizes.

A successful crackdown in Basra would have boosted the election chances of al-Maliki's Dawa party and his Shiite allies in the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, whose Badr Brigade militia is the Mahdi Army's sworn enemy.

Let's pause a moment to ponder that last sentence. Nouri al-Maliki was originally a client of Muqtada Sadr. The Dawa Party has historically been associated with the JAM; opposing them on the Shiite side, as AP admits, has been the Badr Brigades (now Badr Organization and no longer functioning as a private militia), controlled by the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (formerly the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq).

So AP says that Maliki attacked the militia associated with his own Dawa Party, rather than the one associated with the SIIC, in order to get more Shia to vote for both Dawa and the SIIC.

This is as creative an interpretation as their line that the Iraqi forces were utterly crushed, and Muqtada Sadr was on the brink of wiping them out and making himself Caliph of Mesopotamia... when he suddenly had a change of heart and surrendered instead.

If that makes perfect sense to you, you're probably a liberal.

And now, Maliki and the leaders of the other parties in the Iraqi parliament are taking a bold step to isolate the JAM even further -- by barring any party that maintains a militia from even contesting seats in the Iraqi provincial elections this coming October. From the same Long War Journal piece linked above:

Less than two weeks after Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki launched Operation Knights' Assault to clear the Mahdi Army and other Iranian-backer militias in Basrah, the Iraqi government is moving to ban Muqtada al Sadr's political movement from participating in the election if it fails to disband the militia. Facing near-unanimous opposition, Sadr said he would seek guidance from senior Shia clerics in Najaf and Qom and disband the Mahdi Army if told to do so, according to one aide. But another Sadr aide denied this.

The pressure on Sadr and his Mahdi Army started on Sunday after Maliki announced the plans to pass legislation to prevent political parties with militias from participating in the political process. "The first step will be adding language to a draft election bill banning parties that operate militias from fielding candidates in provincial balloting this fall," Reuters reported on Sunday. "The government intends to send the draft to parliament within days and hopes to win approval within weeks...."

The legislation is said to have broad support from the major Sunni, Kurdish, and Shia political parties, and is expected to quickly pass through parliament.

This leaves the Sadrists in a pickle: If they disband the JAM, then they're just another (minor) political party in the Shiite alliance. But if they don't, they will be nothing but a militia. At that point, Maliki would have even more support for annihilating all trace of the mighty Mahdi Militia from Iraq: They would be the Iranian version of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

But of course, the elite media assure us that Muqtada Sadr won the Battle of Basra, while Prime Minister Maliki was politically ruined.

Yesterday and today, Gen. Petraeus and Amb. Crocker testified on Capitol Hill to various congressional committees. As a glimpse into our political leaders' understanding of such a crucial issue of the Iraq war and how it relates to the larger war against global caliphism, the transcripts of those hearings are illuminating, frightening, and frustrating.

(The transcript for the House Armed Services Committee hearing can be found here; the transcript for Senate Armed Services Committee hearing here; and the transcript for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing here.)

Judging from the Democratic senators’ questions during General David Petraeus’s testimony before Congress this morning, their understanding of the Basra situation is little better than that of the MSM. For that matter, Democratic senators' understanding of Iraq itself, let alone the war, is completely outdated: They imagine it's still 2006, the "civil war" still rages, and a hundred civilians are being slaughtered each day.

But according to Iraq Coalition Casualities, during last month, civilian deaths averaged 27 per day, not 100; but that included the Battle of Basra. February saw only 19 killings per day across the whole country, a drop of more than 80% from the highs of late 2006, before we changed to the counterinsurgency strategy. This stunning turnaround has mostly flown below the Democrats' Iraq-success radar -- which, to be perfectly blunt, is rarely even turned on.

Some of the exchanges are laugh-out-loud funny, such as this between Gen. Petraeus and a certain senator with a "chest full of medals," during the former's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The good senator was trying to get Petraeus to admit that our continued presence in Iraq was the only reason that Iraqis have not stepped up to the plate; if we simply walked away, that would make everything much better:

SEN. KERRY: But isn't there a contradiction, in a sense, in your overall statement of the strategic imperative? Because you've kept mentioning al Qaeda here today. Al Qaeda -- AQI, as we know it today -- first of all didn't exist in Iraq till we got there. The Shi'a have not been deeply interrupted by AQI. The Kurds --

GEN. PETRAEUS: Oh, sir, they were. They were blown up right and left by AQI. That was the height of the sectarian violence.

SEN. KERRY: I understand that. I absolutely understand that. But it is not a fundamental, pervasive -- I mean, most people that I've talked to, Shi'a, and most of the evidence of what's happened in the Anbar province with the Sunni is that once they decided to turn on al Qaeda and not give them a welcome, they have been able to turn around their own security --

GEN. PETRAEUS: And we helped them, sir.

SEN. KERRY: (Inaudible.)

GEN. PETRAEUS: And we cleared Ramadi, we cleared Fallujah, we cleared the belts of Baghdad --

SEN. KERRY: And every plan I've seen --

GEN. PETRAEUS: -- (inaudible) -- Baqubah and everything else.

SEN. KERRY: Every plan I've seen here in Congress that contemplates a drawdown contemplates leaving enough American forces there to aid in the prosecution of al Qaeda and to continue that kind of effort.

GEN. PETRAEUS: That's exactly right, yes, sir.

SEN. KERRY: But then why doesn't that change the political dynamics that demand more reconciliation, more compromise, accommodation, so we resolve the political stalemate which is at the core of the dilemma?

GEN. PETRAEUS: Sure. No, that's -- sir, that's a great question. One of the key aspects is that they are not represented right now. And that's why provincial elections scheduled for no later than October are so important. The Anbar sheikhs, for example, will tell you "We want these elections," Senator, as they, I'm sure, did, because they didn't vote in January 2005. Huge mistake.

SEN. KERRY: (Inaudible.) [By this point, Kerry appears to be just making small squeaking noises.]

GEN. PETRAEUS: And they know it. They'll do much better this time than they did before. More important, even in Nineveh province, where because they didn't vote you have a different ethnic group, actually, that largely is the head of the provincial council. So again, all of those.

SEN. KERRY: (Inaudible.)

GEN. PETRAEUS: Yes, sir. Thank you.

Here is another exchange, this time with Sen. Barbara "Mrs. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" Boxer (D-CA, 80%): She seizes an extremely important, even urgent issue in her teeth; and like a deranged Pekingese, she won't let it go:

SEN. BOXER: If I could say, I agree with you that there are certain factions there that certainly support Iran. That's part of the problem. But my question is this. Ahmadinejad was the first national leader --

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Off mike.)

SEN. BOXER: Can you please cool it back there? Ahmadinejad was the first national leader to be given a state reception by Iraq's government. Iraq President Talabani and Ahmadinejad held hands as they inspected a guard of honor while a brass band played brisk British marching tunes. Children presented the Iranian with flowers. Members of Iraq's Cabinet lined up to greet him, some kissing him on both cheeks. So it's not a question about the militias out there. I'm saying, after all we have done, the Iraqi government kisses the Iranian leader! And our president has to sneak into the country. I don't understand it Isn't it true that after all we've done, Iran has gained ground?

AMB. CROCKER: Senator, Iran and Iranian influence in Iraq is obviously an extremely important issue for us, but it's very much, I think, a mixed bag. And what we saw over these last couple of weeks in Baghdad and in Basra, as the prime minister engaged extremist militias that were supported by Iran. is that it revealed not only what Iran is doing in Iraq, but it produced a backlash against them and a rallying of support for the prime minister in being ready to take them on. Iran by no means has it all its own way in Iraq. Iraqis remember with clarity and bitterness the 1980 to '88 Iran-Iraq war.

SEN. BOXER: Yes. Well, that's my point.

AMB. CROCKER: In which --

SEN. BOXER: And now he's getting kissed on the cheek. That's my point.

AMB. CROCKER: And there was a lot of commentary around among Iraqis, including among Shi'a Iraqis, about just that point; what's he doing here after what they did to us during that war? But Iraqi Shi'a died by the tens, by the hundreds of thousands defending their Arab and Iraqi identity and state against a Persian enemy, and that's, again, deeply felt. It means when Iran's hand is exposed in backing these extremist militias that there is backlash, broadly speaking, in the country, including from Iraq's Shi'a. And I think that's important, and I think it's important that the Iraqi government build on it.

SEN. BOXER: I give up. It is what it is. They kissed him on the cheek. I mean, what they say over the dinner table is one thing, but actually kissed him on the cheek. He got a red carpet treatment and we are losing our sons and daughters every single day for the Iraqis to be free. It is irritating is my point.

AMB. CROCKER: Senator, the vice president was in Iraq just a couple of weeks after that, and he also had a very warm reception.

SEN. BIDEN: Did he get kissed?

AMB. CROCKER: I believe -- (laughter) -- he did get kissed.

SEN. BIDEN: I want to know whether he got kissed. That's all. (Laughter.)

Perhaps the general and the ambassador can educate this sad crew of media manipulators in motley; but somehow I doubt it.

Dafydd adds: "The Lord helps those who help themselves." We should begin an urgent project of homeschooling Senate Democrats.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, April 9, 2008, at the time of 7:08 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 3, 2008

Memo to Japan: You Are Aware There's a War On... Right?

Military Machinations , Mysterious Orient , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

On February 19th, a Japanese Aegis destroyer, JS Atago, equipped with an advanced radar system, collided with a small fishing boat Seitokumaru off the Boso Peninsula in Chiba Prefecture. Tragically, the accident killed a father-and-son pair of fishermen aboard Seitokumaru. Atago was on her way home from Pearl Harbor, having just finished four grueling months of training and testing in Hawaii waters.

It seemed a mere traffic accident, and it had nothing to do with the Aegis system or the radar installation. However, it was the latest in a series of mishaps and scandals that have plagued the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF -- the Japanese "navy") over the last couple of years. The Minister of Defense egregiously mishandled the collision investigation and public relations, further exposing the deep-seated problems of the ministry itself; and the Japanese press instantly blamed Aegis, demanding to know why a multi-million dollar system designed to intercept missiles in flight didn't somehow make a fishing trawler get out of Atago's way.

The stunned ministry took severe disciplinary action against 88 defense-ministry officials and service members, including Adm. Eiji Yoshikawa, MSDF chief of staff. (This does not include Atago's captain or crew, since the investigation is still underway.) The crew were confined aboard the ship in port, essentially in jail, for over a month; they were subjected to harsh treatment from zealous investigators and scathing criticism from the media. One sailor who'd been on watch the morning of the accident actually attempted to "cut his stomach" -- commit suicide to save his face.

The "mere traffic accident" has metastisized into a full-blown fiasco for the Maritime SDF...

The government concluded that Yoshikawa, who took office in August 2006, should take responsibility for a series of accidents and blunders, including a fire on the destroyer Shirane at Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture in December 2007 and the leakage of confidential information, including data on the Aegis system....

Kohei Masuda, vice defense minister, will have his pay cut by 10 percent for two months.

Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba said he will return two months of salary for the minister's post in a self-imposed disciplinary measure.

Year 2007 did not start well for JMSDF. In March, a petty officer second class from Destroyer JS Shirane -- yes, the same ship that later had a huge fire -- was arrested for illegally removing classified Aegis-related information from his ship and giving it to his Chinese wife:

Police confiscated digital storage devices containing the data during a search in January of the home of the 33-year-old petty officer 2nd class in connection with his Chinese wife, who is suspected of violating immigration law. The couple were not identified, and the law the wife was suspected of violating was not specified.

Information on her current status was not provided.

The hard drives and other storage media contained Aegis destroyer radar data and telecommunications frequencies, sources said.

Since the unidentified PO2 did not have authorized access to any secret information, police realized that higher up personnel had to be involved in the leak. A 43 year old lieutenant commander was later arrested as well, and he implicated 34 year old Lt.Com. Sumitaka Matsuuchi.

Note: The linked Sankei Newspaper’s article is in Japanese; this quote comes from the same article from the English-language Yomiuri Newspaper, from which no link is available.

A 34-year-old Maritime Self-Defense Force lieutenant commander was arrested Thursday on suspicion of leaking top-secret information about key functions of MSDF Aegis destroyers.

The Kanagawa prefectural police and the MSDF’s Criminal Investigation Command arrested Sumitaka Matsuuchi, a former member of the MSDF’s vessel development team in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, on suspicion of violating the Law Concerning the Protection of Secrets for the Japan-U.S. Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement.

It was the first time for a person to be arrested under the law since its enactment in 1954. The law prohibits the leaking of information about weaponry and warships containing U.S. technology.

According to investigators, Matsuuchi used the SDF internal mail service to send a compact disc holding a computer file of top secret information to one of his colleagues around August 2002, at which time he was working for the vessel development division.

By doing so, he leaked secret material to the 43-year-old lieutenant commander, who was an instructor at the MSDF’s First Service School in Etajima, Hiroshima Prefecture, the investigators said.

Matsuuchi admitted the allegation. He told the investigators: “It’s true I handed it to a lieutenant commander who studied in the United States with me after he asked for it. I knew it was top secret material, but I sent it by the SDF’s internal mail delivery service anyway.”

I want to clarify one interesting point about the age of the unnamed lieutenant commander, because it leads directly into the real problem with the Japanese Maritime SDF: In the Japanese military, members often reach a rank plateau and simply stay there for the rest of their careers. Thus it's not unusual to find a 43 year old lieutenant commander (O-4) who remains at that rank for fifteen years.

Why? Because a central problem for the Japanese military is that neither the government nor the country itself really sees the "Self Defence Force" as a real army or the Maritime SDF as a real navy. Japan has been "allergic" to having a real military ever since the Japanese parliamentary democracy was founded after the post-World War II occupation ended.

2007 ended as it began -- with another blow to the pride of the Maritime SDF: JS Shirane, the same ship from which the second class stole the classified information, caught fire when a sailor brought a defective "unauthorized space heater" aboard:

Japanese MSDF 5200 ton destroyer Shirane scheduled to sail out early morning on December 15, caught fire at about 2220 hours on December 14. The Shirane destroyer can hold three helicopters and this is the first Japanese warship to carry a three-dimensional radar....

This fire cause substantial damage to the ship and inured three sailors.

Last year, I worked in Hawaii with a number of members of the Japanese Self Defense Force (SDF). Right after Japan’s first ballistic-missile defense ship, JS Kongo, successfully completed a live firing event, I talked extensively with the public affair officer from Japan. He told me the success of Kongo was very important because the "series of unfortunate events" surrounding the Aegis program had tarnished the Maritime SDF’s reputation, driving public support to an all time low.

The SDF desperately hoped for the total success of Atago’s Aegis system test events in early 2008... and they were not disappointed. Atago successfully completed the final live firing tests in February, and everyone -- including all the American team members I spoke to -- was ecstatic. Finally, they thought, the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force will become the pride of the Japanese people!

Then on the way home, Atago crashed into the fishing trawler.

When I first heard that almost 90 military and civilian personnel were being disciplined, I thought the Japanese government had gone into overkill, as usual. But the more I think about it, the more convinced I become that this purge may be just what they need.

The impression I got from working with JMSDF servicemen is mixed:

  • On the one hand, they are highly efficient, professional, and eager to learn.
  • But on the other hand, they have a certain unseriousness that disturbs me. They seem to think the military is just a jobs program with quirky gamerules.

For a simple example, in the United States Navy, we have a rule that officers and enlisted men must "move up or move out;" if a service member is not promoted after several opportunities, he's pushed out the door (I believe this is also true for the other branches). This keeps a constant circulation of new blood in the service and prevents the military from becoming a dumping ground for useless officers and non-coms who are simply given a "window seat," a Japanese term from the days when nobody was ever fired -- but some employees were sidelined into do-nothing jobs where they couldn't cause any damage.

Don’t get me wrong, the SDF service personnel I interacted with were vigilant about checking visitors IDs and logging all recording media that came in to or went out from the ship. They may think the gamerules are peculiar, but they normally follow them.

But oftentimes they forgot that unclassified and classified media should never be mixed; and I believe it was because they never got the underlying point behind the regulations.

For another example, Japanese sailors train for emergency procedures vigorously, much more than their American counterparts. But the training scenarios are always predetermined and known in advance to all the sailors; they would know the exact day and time of the drill -- which in my opinion defeats the whole point of emergency training.

Just as they treat the military as a jobs program, the SDF is simply not on a “war footing” in any other respect. Nobody seems to take the Self Defense Forces seriously as a real military... and that is a fatal flaw.

China poses a much bigger threat to Japan than to the United States. The Chinese government is quite hostile to Japan, and of course much closer; and that's not even taking into account their other enemy, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea -- or their very intense competitor, the Republic of Korea. Seeing what China is doing to the Tibetans, and remembering all the Japanese civilials who were kidnapped over the years by North Korea, it's astonishing that the Japanese imagine those countries would never attack Japan.

Serviceman with access to highly classified information must start taking their responsibilities seriously; they must understand that the beautiful Chinese girl who is overfriendly may very well be a spy.

This is no April Fool; the Chinese government has one of the most active, world-wide human-intelligence spying program in the world. In fact, Gregg Bergersen, a weapons analyst at the Pentagon, just pled guilty to transferring classified air-defense information to a Chinese businessman, Tai Kuo, whom he thought "only" had connections to Taiwan, but who turned out to be a spy for Red China. Kuo is a naturalized American citizen.

The nonchalant attitude towards security on the part of so many Japanese members of the Self Defense Forces and the defense ministry, and towards basic safety -- such as not using unauthorized electric devices on board and failing ot keep an observant watch on the deck -- are all symptoms of fundamental unseriousness about the global war against caliphism. The entire culture of the SDF needs to be upended and overhauled: The Self Defense Force needs to become real military.

The hostility of Japanese public opinion towards the SDF in Japan is unbelievable. Before any details of the accident become clear, the Japanese elite media had already indicted and convicted the sailors. In such a political environment, it seems impossible to imagine turning the SDF into a real, full-time, professional military; but the fate of Japan as a significant power in the 21st century demands it.

I have no idea if they can finally grow beyond the simplistic "war, what is it good for?" meme they absorbed following the catastrophic defeat in 1945... but if they cannot, I'm afraid they will never be able to maintain their economic hegemony in the Orient. Japan can defend its own prosperity without having to recreate the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, April 3, 2008, at the time of 7:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 28, 2008

Brave Sir Robin vs. the Mosque of England

Europa Political Grand Opera , God in the Dry Dock , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

In recent years, Moslems in the United Kingdom have gotten bolder. Not only do they commit more violent crime against ordinary British citizens, they demand special treatment from the British government ("All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others"). Yet I am now convinced that the core of the problem in Great Britain is not the Moslems but the Church of England itself.

Great Britain has a state religion, and many British subjects look to the established church for moral guidance. The house of God should be an unwavering, unchanging, and uncompromising spiritual core of the people. Even though we humans often cannot meet God's expectations, we're at least supposed to learn through the churches and clergy what He expects of us.

Isn’t that why people are willing to risk their lives for their fellow men, for what's right, or for their faith? Isn’t that why ordinary people will rise up to fight against evil? People should know what is good and what is evil.

But what if the church tells you that the most important thing is to be "tolerant of the intolerant" and instructs its faithful to be "sensitive" to a rogue culture -- one that demands human sacrifice, no less -- simply to avoid "conflict?"

As unbelievable as it sounds, that is just what is happening in the UK, per Tony Blankley:

Two weeks ago, the story came from a town with a college that has been a leading force in the advancement of Christian civilization for 900 years: Oxford, England. Once again, something more than bluebirds threatens English skies. It seems that authorities at the Oxford Central Mosque have requested permission to use loudspeakers to blast the call to prayer five times a day from atop their minaret across the town that has heard for the past 900 summers, falls, winters and springs only the bells of the local churches.

Unsurprisingly, the Church of England's bishop for Oxford, the Right Rev. John Pritchard, has announced his support, calling on his congregation to "enjoy community diversity." He would be a likely successor to the current archbishop of Canterbury, who called for Shariah law for England recently.

It is not so much the attempt by European Muslims to alter their adopted homeland to fit their faith that's troubling as it is the willingness of Europeans to accommodate them. Sharia creep will continue as long as it meets no resistance.

If Christianity's teachings are now to include “diversity” of faith, then why should it even be a separate religion? A broken moral compass points nowhere, and cultural sensitivity to the violent will not buy peace; all you will get is more confusion, more violence, and fewer Christians.

We have long known that the "Moslem Mafia" has been running drugs and coercing underaged girls into prostitution. When parents seek help from the local authorities, British police often refuse to pursue the criminals for fear of being insufficiently sensitive to minority cultures or even provoking racial violence:

Last night Mohammed Shafiq, director of the Ramadhan Foundation, said the police were differentiating between criminals on the basis of race.

He claimed, driven by fear of race riots in places like Blackburn and Oldham, officers were "overtly sensitive" and not clamping down on the sordid practice.

His controversial comments in this week's Panorama reignite a massively controversial issue which exploded over a Channel 4 documentary in 2004.

That programme which claimed Asian men in Bradford were grooming under age white girls for prostitution was pulled from C4's schedules.

This was because police claimed at the time that it could provoke racial violence during the local election campaign.

(Hat tip to Lionheart.)

But it's not just "tolerance" that Moslems demand in Great Britain; some Moslem "youths" are beginning to act more like Hitler Youths, with the children of Pakistani immigrants physically attacking Christian and Jewish worshippers and clergymen:

Canon Ainsworth, 57, who was wearing his clerical collar, was punched and kicked by two Asian youths while another shouted religious abuse outside St George’s on March 5. He suffered cuts, bruises and two black eyes. He was discharged from St Bartholomew’s hospital but later readmitted following complications to an injury.

But British authority does nothing, and church authority coos and placates the aggressors. Actually, that is not entirely true; the rozzers have done something: They've arrested a blogger, Lionheart, for the "crime" of exposing the Moslem crimes above. He was arrested for "stirring up racial hatred" against Moslems.

[Dafydd adds: Thank God the UK has such strong freedom of speech protections...]

Evidently, the UK is less interested in stopping the gradual, frog-boiling takeover of their country by Moslem militants than they are in stopping the mouths of those who speak out against it. When the Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali complained about Moslem violence against non-Moslems, he was severly criticized -- even by the leader of the Liberal Democrat Party:

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, blamed multiculturalism for segregating religious groups and said non-Muslims faced a hostile reception in places dominated by the ideology of Islamic radicals.

He wrote that the integration agenda pursued by the government lacked "a moral and spiritual vision", and he condemned the failure to give priority to the established church [the Church of England], which he believes has led to a "multi-faith mish-mash".

He also questioned whether elements of sharia law were applicable in the UK, particularly the use of loudspeakers on mosques to spread the call to prayer.

The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, said the bishop had not produced any evidence of "no-go areas" for non-Muslims, a notion he described as "an extraordinarily inflammatory way of putting it".

Mr. Clegg could perhaps have had a little sensitivity himself, realizing how dangerous it was for an Anglican bishop born in Pakistan to blow the whistle on militant Islam, which might well see him as an "apostate," despite the fact that he was born into a Christian family. Not all Islamist radicals stop to consider the niceties of religious freedom. Coming from a Moslem culture, the bishop evidently understands better than many pure-British clergy the fundamental incompatibility between liberal Christianity and militant Salafism from the land of the Taliban.

So what has the head of the Anglican Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to say about these outrageous attacks against men of Christian faith? Well, recently he called for incorporating Sharia in England; then he turned about and equated Moslem extremists and their victims.

It doesn't take much imagination to see how internally divided societies find brief moments of unity when they have successfully identified some other group as the real source of their own insecurity. Look at any major conflict in the world at the moment and the mechanism is clear enough. Repressive and insecure states in the Islamic world demonise a mythical Christian 'West', and culturally confused, sceptical and frightened European and North American societies cling to the picture of a global militant Islam, determined to 'destroy our way of life.' Two fragile and intensely quarrelsome societies in the Holy Land find some security in at least knowing that there is an enemy they can all hate on the other side of the wall.

So is it any wonder that Moslems in the UK are emboldened in direct proportion to the rate of dismay and disheartening of British Anglicans? Not that the Cathlic Church is much better; if they have stepped forward to provide moral guidance to Brits confused by the easy acquiescence of government and religious officials to Islamic bullying, they've been awfully quiet about it.

Recently, the marriage rate in the UK has dropped to a record low. As Moslem worshippers grow, the number of churchgoers diminishes; as politicians turn a blind eye to rampaging "Asian youths" and take seriously demands for polygamy under sharia, and as churches abandon their historic role of enunciating God's eternal law in favor of politicaly correct "tolerance" and "sensitivity" to what looks a lot like evil -- sex-slavery of teenaged girls, violence against priests, threats and intimidation -- it's hardly surprising that the British lose respect for the church, for priests and bishops, and even for God.

The voices of Archbishop Rowen Williams and the Right Rev. John Pritchard are heard throughout the United Kingdom loud and clear. The real danger these people create is not emboldening Islamist extremists but driving Christians away from faith. If British Christians cannot rely on the moral authority of the Church of England, where can they seek it? If the church says there is no difference between Moslem terrorists and Christian faithful, why should anyone go to church, pray, obey the laws of the Bible, or even get married before God? And certainly, why risk life and limb fighting back against violent religious zealots?

I am not a Christian, so take this advice for what it's worth. I think what Britain desperately needs is to purge all these multicultural bishops, these "men without chests," as C.S. Lewis called them... "cerebral men" who are pure thought with no courage, no stability, no magnanimity. Just as the Catholic Church had finally to purge child molesters and practicing homosexual priests, no matter what the cost, the Church of England mast rid itself of forever-compromising, socialist, chestless non-believers who pretend to represent faith.

The survival of Christianity in Great Britain depends on purging the clergy; the survival of the United Kingdom in any recognizable form depends upon the survival of Christianity there.

It's hard to watch Great Britain go down without a fight. I cannot believe there isn't a regiment of English yeomen left to stand against this evil, longbows in hand. Of course there are some, such as Lionheart, Melanie, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali; and lets not forget the British troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, who are ill-served by their Labour PM Gordon Brown (he's no Tony Blair).

But they are too far and too few between. If the Church of England cannot cover the heroes' backs, how can the flock face the enemy front?

Hatched by Sachi on this day, March 28, 2008, at the time of 5:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 22, 2008

Democrat: War Without Fascism... What's the Point?

Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

No, that's not what freshman senator and longtime congressman Robert Menendez (D-NJ, 90%) intended to say; but if he knew anything about either economics, military strategy, or history, he would have realized what his actual point was:

With U.S. troops entering their sixth year of combat in Iraq, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez demanded Saturday that President Bush give an honest assessment of the costs of the conflict.

You keep using that word, "honest." I do not think it means what you think it means.

Menendez responded, "President Bush should tell us the truth -- that after thousands of lives lost and perhaps [he's not sure?] trillions of American taxpayer dollars, Iraq remains crippled by violence and corruption, still light-years [sic] from building a stable government or a lasting peace." [Does Menendez think a light year is a measure of time?]

"Crippled" should be a comparative term, because what Menendez really means is that Iraq is not as stable or peaceful as the United States, or Great Britain, or Canada. But what about compared to Pakistan, where the Musharaff government is about to fall, the president himself will likely be prosecuted, and civil war may erupt -- where one of the sides will be the Taliban?

Or how about compared to Iran, where internal violence against the Iranian people is endemic, thought crime can be punished with death by stoning, the state employs a terrorist group (Hezbollah) as internal police, and the ruling mullahs are so despised that the government only survives by tyranny and the simulation of elections?

For that matter, Iraq doesn't even look that bad compared to Israel right now: The violence is definitely higher, but at least Iraq is actively fighting against it -- and at least the government more or less accurately represents the desires of the Iraqi people (defeat the terrorists and live in peace).

But I suspect the real explanation of Sen. Menendez's absurdist claim is that he hasn't actually reexamined the condition of Iraq and the progress of the war since he was appointed to replace Jon Corzine in January of 2006. He's completely ignorant of the counterinsurgency and everything that has happened since July of 2007.

The senator argued that the war "has severely depleted the resources and morale of our armed forces" and said Bush should acknowledge "that because of Iraq, we haven't finished the job in Afghanistan, al-Qaida is regrouping and our hunt for America's No. 1 enemy -- Osama bin Laden -- has been compromised."

So Menendez is vexed that we've been so busy nation-building in Iraq that we haven't had time to nation-build in Afghanistan?

The Democrats have a fetish with "finding Osama." I think they envision a human chain of soldiers who would join hands and sweep Afghanistan from one end to the other, eventually netting Mr. Big... a very cooperative Mr. Big who wouldn't, for example, slip across the border into Pakistan or hide out in a cave in the Tora Bora Mountains, laughing at the blundering efforts to find him where he is not.

Although I would love for us to find bin Laden, that is not the central focus of the war against global caliphism. The purpose of the long war is to protect the peace and security of the United States of America; that means defeating the global caliphists, not dropping everything to throw our entire Army into finding one long-disempowered monster.

Bin Laden, far as we can tell, no longer has any operational control over what we loosely call "al-Qaeda." He still has spiritual value, but he will continue to have it even after being captured or killed (caliphism is very big on martyrs). It's far more important that we booted the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan, that they're rising in Pakistan, that we obliterated al-Qaeda in Iraq and turned the Iraqi Sunnis against them and many of the Shia away from Muqtada Sadr and his Iranian masters, and that Europe is succumbing to the temptation to be tolerant of the radically intolerant.

It's important to build a modern, civilized nation in Afghanistan; but that is going to be a much more extensive project than doing the same in Iraq. Afghanistan is far more primitive and barbarous a country; it's civilized than Pakistan, which had the benefit of a couple of centuries of rule by the British Empire.

"New Left" Democrats have the attention span of mayflies. If the war is not all neatly wrapped up after 43 minutes of actual plot (not counting commercials and end credits), like Kosovo, they lose interest and wander away. What does Robert Menendez imagine would happen, if only we pulled 150,000 troops out of Iraq and sent them into Afghanistan?

  1. We would quickly capture bin Laden (who probably isn't even in Afghanistan);
  2. This would cause the collapse of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, so we could all go back to "situation normal, nothing has changed?"

This vision of the long war is frankly childish. It's not too much to ask that in time of war, we elect grownups to the United States Senate.

Finally, we get to the meat of Menendez's complaint, and indeed that of virtually every Democrat in Congress:

Menendez also linked the cost of the war to the United States' faltering economy. "Instead of building barracks in Iraq, we could be helping millions of Americans avoid losing their homes to foreclosure," he said. "Instead of policing the streets of Baghdad, we could be investing in universal health care and a better education system."

There you go: Were it not for the Iraq war, the federal government could take over even more of the nation's economy! Were it not for the money spent on the Iraq war, we could seize control of the housing market; we could offer socialist health care for (rather, force it upon) all American residents, both legal and illegal; and we could finally get rid of those infuriating private schools, which insist upon rowing against the current, countering our vital reeducation efforts in the public schools.

George W. Bush invaded two countries; but he forgot to use that "crisis" to circumvent the normal democratic procecures and reorganize all of society along military lines. The latter is classical fascism... and it is Democrats, not Republicans, who generally practice it (Wilson, FDR, Johnson). If either Obama or Hillary is elected this November, don't imagine for a moment that we'll withdraw from the war against global caliphism; the new Democratic president will simply use the global "crisis" to institute public and private "cooperation and coordination" and eliminate all that wasteful competition of the free market.

We may pull out of Iraq; but when it subsequently collapses, we'll have to go back in; and that will become yet another crisis du jour, to go along with global militant Islamism, global economic collapse (Democrats create the very crises they then exploit), and global warming:

  • To institute socialized medical "alliances" between government and private health-care experts eerily similar to Benito Mussolini's business alliances;
  • To seize control of industry in the name of the environment;
  • To draft "hate-speech" laws and create an American Human Rights Commission that will finally outlaw all that pesky dissent;
  • To reinstate Woodrow Wilson's sedition laws, criminalizing non-cooperation with the Progressivist agenda;
  • To seize more and more national resources through confiscatory taxation and onerous regulation;
  • To use that vast, new revenue stream to reeducate and reform Americans' health and morals -- from what we are allowed to eat, drink, and smoke to what we are allowed to watch, read, and think -- along the lines of It Takes a Village (and Nineteen Eighty-Four);
  • And always, always, to do an end-run around normal democracy, Capitalism, and individual choice... because, during this emergency, there's no time to waste on debate or disputation. The time for selfish indulgence is past; we need action, action, action!

That is what Menendez wants, as does Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%), Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%), and the entire Democratic congressional leadership and the gaggle of committee chairs. This is the core of Progressivism, and has been for more than a century: They long for a terrifying intermarriage between Maximilien Robespierre and Otto von Bismarck, between Jacobite France and totalitarian Prussia.

Had they the opportunity -- under either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama -- they would cast off all restraint and simply implement what they "know" is necessary. After all, they have the vision; how could they allow mere voters to elect the wrong person?

At core, Robert Menendez's great complaint is that we have our war, but we haven't exploited it to get our fascism. Bush has failed to grasp that war is the health of the fascist state... he's completely missed the point of going to war in the first place.

We've squandered the opportunity to abuse the crisis of the moment to implement eternal tyranny over the mind of Man... for our own good, of course. And all for the want of a Democratic president!

Thanks, Senator Menendez, for letting the mask slip. Once again, the choice come November is clear.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 22, 2008, at the time of 4:24 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Failing to Fight the War Machine

Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Brad

Here is a rare (too rare!) post from our co-conspirator, Brad Linaweaver.

Brad began his political life at the age of four, during the Spanish-American war; he was a conservative then, but the 1960s made him a libertarian, and he burned his AARP card in protest. Then, after viewing the horrors of 9/11, he rose from his walker to become, for the first time, a spry, robust, athletic supporter of what he termed (with pride) "American imperialism."

But he became disenchanted with the war in recent days. Still sharp as a hammer at 114 years young, Brad has now reverted back to libertarianism, going so far as to brazenly, nakedly support Ron Paul for president (it is indeed a blight for sour eyes). He put his clothes back on to be interviewed by Ron Garmon for City Beat's "The Great Hollywood Peace Parade"... yet another left-wing magazine covering Tinseltown as the center of the universe.

(Oddly enough, these progressive corporate dupes have cleverly designed their website so that it's only readable when using Microsoft Internet Explorer; if you use Netscape or Firefox, the text comes up black on black, which is rather hard to read. You must select all the text in order to peruse the article. I'm sorry, but I just find it hilariously ironic that an über-left film rag plays lickspittle to Bill Gates!)

Here -- extracted for your viewing pleasure from endless ramblings about self-immolating musicians, Code Pinko ANSWERistas, and the inevitable fake coffins, puppets, and inflatable beavers -- is Brad's contribution to this magnum gropus. Without führer adieu, heeeeeeeeere's Bradford...!

~

The Republican Party should not pretend to spread democracy to the benighted regions of the world. That is not in the Republican party's job description. Bush is in the wrong comic book. Bill Buckley thought his Iraq policy “un-conservative,” a fact noted by Fox News in his obituary, which I thought unusually fair and balanced of them.

The left is completely failing to fight the war machine. They won in '06 and have failed ever since. They don’t understand even now how the corporate power-elite runs both parties. George W. Bush is such a happy man these days. Why? He’s done his job, serving his masters well, giving us a foothold in Iraq forever. We will never leave. McCain is being unduly optimistic when he said we’d be there a hundred years. We’ll be in Iraq as long as the American Empire exists. Bush went there for one reason -- to stay there.

They’d rather kill people than develop alternative energy.

~

Back to Dafydd. Needless to say, I'll put up a post relatively soon responding to Brad's post, with which I, ahem, take some issue.

Hatched by Brad on this day, March 22, 2008, at the time of 5:14 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 20, 2008

Jobs for Jihadis!

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The AP headline: Religious Hard-Liners Out in Pakistan.

The story:

Fed up with violence and economic hardship, voters in the deeply conservative northwest have thrown out the Islamist parties that ruled this province for five years - a clear sign that Pakistanis are rejecting religious extremism in a region where al-Qaida and the Taliban have sought refuge. [Say... that sounds promising...]

Instead, voters in turbulent North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan, gave their support to secular parties that promised to pave the streets, create jobs and bring peace through dialogue and economic incentives to the extremists.

...And that sounds about as effective as making little al-Qaeda dolls and sticking pins in them. Or electing Barack Obama.

The New York Times carries essentially the same message:

The winners of Pakistan’s parliamentary elections said Tuesday that they would take a new approach to fighting Islamic militants by pursuing more dialogue than military confrontation, and that they would undo the crackdown on the media and restore independence to the judiciary....

The two opposition parties share similar views of how to tackle the terrorism problem. The new approach is more likely to be responsive to the consensus of the Pakistani public than was Mr. Musharraf’s and is more likely to shun a heavy hand by the military and rely on dialogue with the militants.

Mr. Zardari [Asif Ali Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto and head of the PPP since her murder] said his party would seek talks with the militants in the tribal areas along the Afghan border, where the Taliban and Al Qaeda have carved out a stronghold, as well as with the nationalist militants who have battled the Pakistani Army in Baluchistan Province.

Alas, what the victors propose is not "a new approach;" it's the same old approach that has been used in Pakistan under the previous administrations of Bhutto and Sharif, is currently being used in European countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands, and is being pushed by the Democrats in the United States Congress -- and in particular by Barack Obama, favorite for the Democratic nomination for president, who wants to sit down and dialogue with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (Who I believe just said that Israel was a "filthy bacteria... lashing out... like a wild beast." And as George Orwell quotes, "the fascist octopus has sung its swan song.")

We even have a name for this strategy: Appeasement. But at least Neville Chamberlain never fantasized that appeasing Adolf Hitler would produce permanent peace... only "peace in our time."

A combination of trying to buy off al-Qaeda and the Taliban, coupled with the relegation of terrorism to a police problem, not enemy military action, has been tried repeatedly... and has produced one colossal failure after another. President Clinton's policy of policing and appeasing led directly to the 9/11 attacks, for a recent American example. It fails because it avoids the most fundamental and necessary strategy to combat Islamist terrorists: naming the enemy.

This is the perennial problem with Pakistan and other Islamic countries: Even more than the West, the ummah rejects the idea that the problem with hirabis is not that they're poor, downtrodden, or unemployed; their problem is that they are monstrously evil butchers whose vision of Islam demands constant human sacrifice. Militant Islamists are like a mutant hybrid of mullahs and Aztecs.

Naturally, the putative "new approach" of the winners in last Tuesday's Pakistan elections plays well in the elite media, because it plays into the Bush derangement syndrome that fevers their brains; and it also makes everything seem much less scary: They don't want to kill us because of who we are... they want to kill us because they don't have jobs! If we just get them jobs, feel their pain, reassure them that we love them, and dialogue with them, then all this scary stuff will just go away.

And besides: The enemies (Pakistani parliament leaders) of our enemy (President George W. Bush) must be our brothers. Back to AP:

That [the plan to "bring peace through dialogue and economic incentives to the extremists"] may conflict with U.S. pressure to step up the fight against armed militants linked to al-Qaida and the Taliban....

Five years ago, voters in this mostly Pashtun province -- many of them from the same ethnic group as the Afghan Taliban -- set off alarm bells in the U.S. when they elected a provincial government dominated by a coalition of pro-Taliban clerics -- the United Action Alliance.

The alliance rode to victory on the crest of public outrage over the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, not only winning control of the North West Frontier but taking 12 percent of the vote in national parliament balloting as well.

See? It's all Bush's fault. If only we had listened to Sharon Stone, instead of the Israel lobby; if only, instead of invading Afghanistan after 9/11, we had chosen peace -- and offered the Taliban and al-Qaeda dialogue, understanding, and a jobs program. Possibly membership in NATO.

The election results are very mixed. There were two major winners: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP, headed until she was assassinated by Benazir Bhutto, the first head of state to formally recognize and heavily fund the Taliban), nor the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N, headed by the beloved protege of former Pakistan dictator General Zia, Nawaz Sharif). But neither could even crack the a third of the seats in the National Assembly; the PPP got 86 out of 268 seats (32%), and the PML-N got 66 (25%).

The Pakistan Muslim League (Q) -- the PML faction that supported Pervez Musharraf -- took only 38 of the 268 contested seats, for 14%. And "the remaining seats were divided among seven smaller parties and factions and 27 independent candidates," as the Times reports. (Ten seats are not yet decided.)

In addition, neither of the winning parties has a successful track record. From the Times:

But Mr. Zardari and Mr. Sharif have reasons to bear grudges. Mr. Zardari, who returned from exile only after Ms. Bhutto’s death, spent eight years in prison on murder and corruption charges under the government of Mr. Sharif. Mr. Musharraf was army chief at the time.

Mr. Sharif was thrown out of the government in 1999 by Mr. Musharraf, who mounted a coup and arrested and then exiled him. Many Pakistanis agree that the governments of Ms. Bhutto and Mr. Sharif did not distinguish themselves. Both were ridden with corruption.

But I believe there is real hope here, though not in the way that the drive-by media fantasize. See if this reminds you of anything:

Powerless to stop the militants, local police stood by as tribal leaders opposed to the Taliban were assassinated and owners of video and music stores received threats to close their businesses or face death.

"They made false promises. They said they would give us education, food and jobs but they didn't give us anything. They were all lies," said retired soldier Mohammed Akram Shah. "I am from a village of more than 30 homes and we don't have any electricity even after five years."

As I read this, I see the nascent beginnings of a Pakistan Salvation Council. I don't know if it will be born, but the sperm (the staggering arrogance and murderous hatred of the militant Islamists) and egg (more than five years of Pakistans in the tribal areas having to live under the brutal jacksandal of Taliban/al-Qaeda rule) have merged, and the anger of the people indicates we're at least at the blastocyst phase, if not yet a full-blown embryo.

As Pakistan is still a Democracy, gestation of a Pakistan Salvation Council would likely take the form of a political party, rather than a militia. But if the Moslem terrorists respond as they always have before -- murderously -- then the party will likely metamorphose into an armed political movement. But clearly, the people of Pakistan are fed up to the eyelids with living under terrorist rule... but also by the feeble, half-hearted military tactics of Musharraf's army, which is strong enough to rile the terrorists but not enough to destroy them, cripple them, or drive them out. It's been a "lite" version of the American strategy in Iraq prior to the arrival of Gen. David Petraeus.

So on the whole, I'm pleased by the vote. Not because it's the right solution -- it isn't -- but because it indicates that Pakistanis are groping for a way to boot the militant Moslems. They recognize that what Musharraf was doing wasn't working; they're somewhat willing to give the PPP and the PML-N a second chance (but not particularly persuaded that they're going to succeed)... and I think they're going to start edging closer to the solution that has worked throughout Iraq and that is starting to appear in Afghanistan: Sunni tribesmen themselves rising up against the slaughterhouse-rule of al-Qaeda and the Taliban and recapturing Islam from the Baal worshippers who have declared themselves beyond any judgment but their own.

Islam has gone through periods of horrific expansionist violence against the West and times of relative peace. We're currently in one of the former; but ordinary Moslems around the globe have the power -- and increasingly the will -- to wrench Islam back to the latter.

The rise of salvation councils à la Iraq is exactly what we mean when we call for a more "moderate" Islam.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 20, 2008, at the time of 4:44 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 13, 2008

Another Painful, Humiliating Loss for Majority Leader Harry Reid...

Terrorism Intelligence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

...Another legislative victory for America:

The president’s remarks came the morning after the Senate handed the White House a major victory by voting to broaden the government’s spy powers and to give legal protection to phone companies that cooperated in President Bush’s program of eavesdropping without warrants.

The immunity for the phone companies is the key difference between the Senate bill and the one passed by the House last year. The president said that without that protection, American telecommunications companies would face lawsuits that could cost them billions of dollars. Without the protection, he said, “they won’t participate, they won’t help us.”

“Liability protection is critical to securing the private sector’s cooperation with our intelligence efforts,” Mr. Bush said.

The bill now returns to the House of Representatives, which refused to grant such retroactive immunity to the telecoms before... presumably on the grounds that they had helped us identify terrorist cells in the United States right after the 9/11 attacks; and, well, no good deed goes unpunished. Or should, if the Democrats have their way.

Incidentally, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama raced to Washington D.C. (or perhaps simply stayed there, if he was there for the primary yesterday) to vote against the immunity clause in a failed amendment that would have stripped it from the bill; but then he suddenly became unavailable and incommunicado for the roll-call vote on the actual bill. As was Hillary Clinton, also a Democratic presidential candidate. Profiles in courage!

How bad was the thumping of Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%)?

On Tuesday, the Senate rejected amendments that would have imposed greater civil liberties checks on the government’s surveillance powers. Finally, the Senate voted 68 to 29 to approve the legislation, which the White House had been pushing for months.

The outcome in the Senate amounted, in effect, to a broader proxy vote in support of Mr. Bush’s wiretapping program. The wide-ranging debate before the final vote presaged discussion that will play out this year in the presidential and Congressional elections on other issues testing the president’s wartime authority, including secret detentions [of international terrorists], [so called] torture and Iraq war financing.

That last point, innocuously labeled "Iraq war financing," covers a multitude of leftist sins. It also means that the Democrats plan to try -- for about the eleventh or twelfth time -- to strangle war funding during a war and force defeat on troops who are currently pressing on to victory. This Quisliotic effort is led by the defeatist Reid, who famously declared many months ago, before the counterinsurgency even began, that it had already failed; that we had already lost; that the only thing left to do was evacuate the field and let al-Qaeda take over Iraq.

He spoke only the truth as he saw it, for Harry Reid is an honorable man. So are they all, all honorable men.

The attempted surrender in Iraq had, of course, nothing whatsoever to do with the Democratic Party compulsion to blame everything they hate, from the war to terrorism to the weather to the Boy Sprouts, on President George W. Bush. Honorable men would never be so petty and reckless as to precipitate military defeat and the deaths of hundreds of thousands, just to embarass our own government. And they are all honorable men.

So the next question is, will Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%) now throw herself on the defeatism landmine, bravely immolating herself to rescue the leadership of her Senate counterpart -- at the expense of her own?

Is a rabbi Catholic? Does Ivana Trump sleep in the woods?

How big was the victory for the United States of America in the valiant quest to exterminate the human sacrificers in al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other transnational terrorist groups, along with their national sponsors in the Arab states, in Pakistan and Indonesia, and especially in Iran -- our war against global hirabah (Arabic for "unholy war")? Take a look at what our "lame duck" president achieved in Harry Reid's Senate:

The measure extends, for at least six years, many of the broad new surveillance powers that Congress hastily approved last August just before its summer recess. Intelligence officials said court rulings had left dangerous gaps in their ability to intercept terrorist communications.

The bill allows the government to eavesdrop on large bundles of foreign-based communications on its own authority so long as Americans are not the targets. A secret intelligence court, which traditionally has issued individual warrants before wiretapping began, would review the procedures set up by the executive branch only after the fact to determine whether there were abuses involving Americans.

“This is a dramatic restructuring” of surveillance law, said Michael Sussmann, a former Justice Department intelligence lawyer who represents several telecommunication companies. “And the thing that’s so dramatic about this is that you’ve removed the court review. There may be some checks after the fact, but the administration is picking the targets.” [As opposed to unelected federal judges on the secret FISA court -- all honorable men -- picking the terrorist-surveillance targets.]

The Senate plan also adds the provision that was considered critical by the White House: shielding phone companies from legal liability. That program allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without warrants on the international communications of Americans suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda.

More than three dozen lawsuits have already been filed against AT&T, MCI, and other telecoms for violating the privacy rights of Americans who receive phone calls from al-Qaeda. It would be rude and offensive for us to compare these lawsuits to the threats by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to target a huge bunch of "John Doe" passengers in the lawsuits filed by CAIR on behalf of the "flying imams" against US Airways. Certainly there can be no similarity between lawsuits designed to stop telecoms from participating in future efforts to identify al-Qaeda cells inside the United States -- and suing passengers for reporting extremely suspicious behavior by Moslem activists on an airline flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix.

No, we can all agree they're not in the least bit similar; still, I wonder how many Democrats would also vote against extending immunity to ordinary citizens who report suspicious, terrorist-like behavior to authorities, immunity from being sued for daring to speak up.

(We'll probably never know; both the House and Senate finally reinserted such protection into the reauthorization of the Homeland Security Bill in late July, 2007... but only after the Democrat-led conference committee first stripped it from the bill on July 20th. I don't know what deal was struck to get it back in, but I believe it was finally reinserted into the final bill before passage.)

Contrariwise, we certainly do know that there are 21 "Blue Dog" Democrats willing to vote for the Senate version of the FISA-reform bill:

Some House Democrats were prepared to support immunity, regardless. In a Jan. 28 letter, 21 Democrats in the conservative Blue Dog Coalition sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., supporting immunity and listing other provisions that they believed were needed in a FISA bill.

They wrote that the Senate bill “contains satisfactory language addressing all these issues, and we would fully support that measure should it reach the House floor without substantial change.”

Those 21 Democrats, plus the 202 Republicans in the House, makes a 51% majority in favor of reforming FISA to allow intelligence agencies to engage in rapid-response surveillance, rather than wait weeks for a FISA decision -- and have to show "probable cause" to surveille even foreign terrorists living abroad. And of course, there are other Democrats who will support the Senate version just to prevent the FISA law from expiring, as President Bush has already announced that he will support no more temporary extentions.

On the other side, some of those 202 Republicans might vote against it. But clearly, this is a vital issue in the war on global hirabah; a substantial portion (possibly a majority) of the House supports it; and the Senate just passed it overwhelmingly.

Of course, Speaker Pelosi pushed instead for a 21-day extension of the bill... knowing the Senate would never go along, and the president wouldn't sign it anyway. Of course, it might buy a few days time. Of course, the August extention expires Saturday. Of course, the House won't be in session either tomorrow or Friday. Of course, of course.

Of course, the delay tactic failed when "more than 30" Blue Dogs joined the Republicans to vote it down, 229 to 191.

That means the Speaker has only two options left in her bag of tricks:

  1. Refuse to vote on the Senate bill, thus allowing the entire edifice of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reform to expire in three days... leaving our intelligence agencies high and dry. And all for the want of the will to allow a vote that Pelosi knows she will lose.
  2. Hold her nose and hold the damned vote.

Which hand will she choose? I suspect that by the end of the day, we will have a vote and a new FISA law sent to the president's desk for signature. That will resolve our intellignece crisis... for the next six years; after which -- you're way ahead of me -- it will expire. Again.

Democrats: So are they all, all honorable men (and women).

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 13, 2008, at the time of 4:49 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 5, 2008

Al-Qaeda "Movin' On Out?"

Afghan Astonishments , Pakistan Perplexities , Terrorism Intelligence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

According to prepared testimony delivered by Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence -- chaired, oxymoronically enough, by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IVth (D-WV, 60%) -- al-Qaeda has largely been thwarted in their attempts to launch attacks in Iraq; so they are focusing on conducting future operations from the "lawless" regions of Pakistan along the Afghanistan border. But they are still aggressively pursuing a strategy of carrying out major attack on the West, and have indeed tried several already (which we and our allies shut down):

Last summer, for example, with our allies, we unraveled terrorist plots linked to al-Qa’ida and its associates in Denmark and Germany.... The death last week of Abu Layth al-Libi, al-Qa'ida’s charismatic senior military commander and a key link between al-Qa’ida and its affiliates in North Africa, is the most serious blow to the group’s top leadership since the December 2005 death of then external operations chief Hamza Rabi’a.

Al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI) suffered major setbacks last year, although it still is capable of mounting lethal attacks. Hundreds of AQI leadership, operational, media, financial, logistical, weapons, and foreign fighter facilitator cadre have been killed or captured. With much of the Sunni population turning against AQI, its maneuver room and ability to operate have been severely constrained. AQI’s attack tempo, as measured by numbers of suicide attacks, had dropped by more than half by year’s end after approaching all time highs in early 2007. We see indications that al-Qa’ida’s global image is beginning to lose some of its luster; nonetheless, we still face multifaceted terrorist threats.

Unfortunately, they are also making progress towards once again being able to attack the United States directly:

Al-Qa’ida’s central leadership based in the border area of Pakistan is its most dangerous component. Last July, we published a National Intelligence Estimate titled, "The Terrorist Threat to the US Homeland," which assessed that al-Qa’ida’s central leadership in the past two years has been able to regenerate the core operational capabilities needed to conduct attacks in the Homeland.

In particular, here are McConnell's concerns:

  • That "Al-Qa’ida has been able to retain a safehaven in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)." It's not as large or secure as the one that used to be in Afghanistan; but it can be used for training purposes and as a platform whence to stage attacks "in Pakistan, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the United States."
  • They have managed to maintain a cadre of somewhat skilled lieutenants and operations officers in the Pakistan border region.
  • And they have managed to recruit a number of Westerners to their Pakistan safe haven to carry out major attacks on the West.

One very positive note from the DNI:

AQI tactics, tradecraft, and techniques are transmitted on the Internet, but AQI documents captured in Iraq suggest that fewer than 100 AQI terrorists have moved from Iraq to establish cells in other countries.

So the spirit is willing, but the investment of flesh is weak.

Also, interestingly enough, it appears that, like Dr. Frank-N-Furter, AQI's mission is a failure, their lifestyle's too extreme: Numerous religious leaders formerly associated with al-Qaeda have begun denouncing them and their violence (against Moslems, that is); and fewer unconnected terrorist groups and extremists see AQ, or especially AQI, as the model for their own hirabah (unholy war).

I think it increasingly clear that the current situation in Pakistan is unacceptable: Americans can go up to but not across the border between Afghanistan and Pakisan, while President Pervez Musharraf pledges to crack down on the militants in Waziristan and Balochistan and then breaks his pledge. (Whether out of mendacity or simple inability to make headway against the Taliban and al-Qaeda and their supporters is irrelevant.) We must either negotiate a new arrangement with Musharraf -- or else implement one in spite of him.

Later, speaking abour Iran's WMD programs, Mike McConnell clarifies some of the conclusions of the infamous National Intelligence Estimate that said Iran had stopped its nuclear program. What the NIE actually meant, says the Director of National Intelligence is:

  • Iran stopped "warhead design and weaponization" and covert attempts to enrich uranium;
  • They have not stopped declared programs to enrich uranium (perhaps even weaponizing it);
  • And they have actually accelerated their ballistic-missile program, closing in on being able to fire a missile from Iran and hit targets in the United States mainland.

About the other elements of Iran's WMD program:

We know that Tehran had a chemical warfare program prior to 1997, when it declared elements of its program. We assess that Tehran maintains dual-use facilities intended to produce CW agent in times of need [sound familiar...? -DaH] and conducts research that may have offensive applications. We assess Iran maintains a capability to weaponize CW agents in a variety of delivery systems.

We assess that Iran has previously conducted offensive BW [biological warfare] agent research and development. Iran continues to seek dual-use technologies that could be used for biological warfare.

Finally, McConnell noted that, like Iraq, the Afghan army is growing slowly and becoming more and more effective; while the Afghan National Police has grown more quickly -- but "corruption, insufficient training and equipment, and absenteeism hamper their effectiveness."

McConnell concluded on a hopeful (if not Pollyannic) note:

I, my colleagues, and the Intelligence Community we represent are fully committed to arming our policymakers, warfighters, and law enforcement officers with the best intelligence and analytic insight we can. This is necessary to enable them to take the actions and make the decisions that will protect American lives and American interests, here and around the world.

Considering that the Senate I-Com, the very body that DNI Mike McConnell was addressing, now sports such stalwarts of the aggressive collection and distribution of intelligence as Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD, 100%), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI, not yet rated), Russell Feingold (D-WI, 100%), and Dianne "DiFi" Feinstein (D-CA, 90%) -- not to mention their Republican counterparts, including Sens. Chuck Hagel (NE, 75%), John Warner (VA, 64%) (for the rest of this year), and Olympia Snowe (ME, 36%) -- the idea that they will make any decision or take any actions at all about anything significant is charming... but about as realistic as the idea that Ron Paul would aggressively pursue the war against global hirabah.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 5, 2008, at the time of 11:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 21, 2008

Petraeus, Shmetraeus; the Real Question Is - Who's Next?

Afghan Astonishments , Iraq Matters , Military Machinations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

The New York Times carries the vaguely interesting speculation (whic barely even qualifies as news) that top Pentagon brass are trying to decide what to do with Gen. David Petraeus for his next assignment. The choices seem to be:

  • Commander of NATO, which would give him a strong say in what we do in Afghanistan, where our combat mission is led by American NATO troops;
  • Commander of CENTCOM, which would give him an even stronger say, assuming someone can figure out where to stick Adm. William Fallon. Fallon seems to be doing a bang-up job as CENTCOM commander right now and has said that rumors of his death or imminent retirement are greatly exaggerated.

The idea seems to be for President George W. Bush to give Petraeus an appointment and confirmation before leaving office a year from yesterday. If the administration does not, and if a Democrat wins the presidency, the incoming POTUS will surely do everything he can to sabotage Petraeus' career -- taking petty revenge against him for the crime of rejecting the Pelosi-Reid conclusion that we've already lost the Iraq war... and worse, being proven right!

But if Petraeus can serve a term in a less politically charged job (especially as NATO commander), goes this reasoning, then maybe President Hillary (or President Mike, President Barack, President John, President John, President Mitt, President Fred, or Citoyen Ron) will consider kicking him upstairs to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- a gold watch and a window seat.

I don't know. I don't care. He should stay in Iraq as long as possible, then be moved somewhere he can continue to fight... or perhaps train others to fight. I'm far more interested in the question, who will succeed Petraeus as Commander of Multinational Force - Iraq (MNF-I)?

Here, the Times again channels its beloved anonymous sources:

If General Petraeus is shifted from the post as top Iraq commander, two leading candidates to replace him are Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who is running the classified Special Operations activities in Iraq, and Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, a former second-ranking commander in Iraq and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’s senior military assistant....

Of the potential successors for General Petraeus, Generals McChrystal and Chiarelli would bring contrasting styles and backgrounds to the fight. General McChrystal has spent much of his career in the Special Operations forces. He commands those forces in Iraq, which have conducted raids against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the mainly Iraqi group that American intelligence says has foreign leadership, and against Shiite extremists, including cells believed to be backed by Iran....

General McChrystal, a 53-year-old West Point graduate, also commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment and served tours in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf war in 1991 and in Afghanistan as chief of staff of the military operation there in 2001 and 2002....

General Chiarelli’s strengths rest heavily on his reputation as one of the most outspoken proponents of a counterinsurgency strategy that gives equal or greater weight to social and economic actions aimed at undermining the enemy as it does to force of arms. General Chiarelli, 57, has served two tours in Iraq, first as head of the First Calvary Division, where he commanded 38,000 troops in securing and rebuilding Baghdad, and later as the second-ranking American officer in Iraq before becoming the senior military aide to Mr. Gates.

In a 2007 essay in Military Review, he wrote: “Unless and until there is a significant reorganization of the U.S. government interagency capabilities, the military is going to be the nation’s instrument of choice in nation-building. We need to accept that reality instead of resisting it, as we have for much of my career.”

There are times in a nation's life when its future lies in the balance, and it is within the power of men to turn the tide of history in one direction -- or the other. In this case, the choice of a successor for Gen. Petraeus appears to leave us with two stark directions:

  • If McChrystal is selected, then we have turned towards a policy of clandestine warfare whose only function is to destroy the enemy's will and ability to fight against our interests; this, to my mind, is to return to the cold war strategy of yesteryear, though against a different foe.
  • But if Chiarelli is chosen instead, we will have turned instead towards a policy of undermining the enemy by denying him the fertile breeding ground of political and legal chaos, resentment, fanaticism, hopelessness, and futility that attends failed states. We will be firmly on the path of nation-building.

I believe the latter would infuriate most conservatives... and I believe it essential that we follow that path nevertheless.

I harken back to the seminal book the Pentagon's New Map, by Thomas P.M. Barnett. Barnett's genius was to recognize that virtually all threats to the United States and our interests came from a narrow swath cut through the middle of the map. The Pentagon had long called this jagged cancer in the world body the "arc of instability;" but Barnett realized it was something more profound: It largely comprises those nations that stubbornly refuses to integrate with the rest of the world's politics, economics, and communications net.

Not that the Non-Integrating Gap (as Barnett calls it) is bereft of political organization; factions are constantly maneuvering to bind all the world's disgruntled postal workers into a single, globe-girdling caliphate... that is, groups like al-Qaeda and countries like Iran engage in the ceaseless struggle of nation-building; but the "nation" they're trying to build is one that offers neither friendship nor a place at the table for us.

Turning to our Special Forces, not simply as tools but as the sharp end of our foreign policy, means abandoning the nation-building field to militant Islamism. You can't beat something with nothing: AQ and the mad mullahs offer something: stability under their rule. If we offer nothing but dark-of-night strikes on people, places, or things that piss us off, then we can never win this war.

Rather, it's absolutely essential that we offer a creative, constructive plan to drain the fever swamps that breed bin Ladens and Mezba-Yazdis and build something functioning in its place; otherwise, we may as well resign ourselves to a generational, existential war that we jolly well may lose.

We cannot simply frighten hirabis into quiessence by clandestine ops and air strikes. We're talking about people for whom, as Cal Thomas put it, "death is a promotion." If hirabis eagerly look forward to dying in order to kill us, how do we "deter" them? Besides, they're not even rational actors, and there is no central caliphate command that can surrender to us.

Gen. Petraeus succeeded because instead of just more killing, he gave the Iraqis a "tomorrow." After tearing down the insurgency, he built something better in its place. He protected the civilian population, helped strengthen the rule of law in Iraq, coordinated the "rebuilding" of that shattered state, made military service a respected career choice for Iraqis for the first time since the Baath Party took over, and in general, spread hope that out of the ashes of Saddam's putative empire, Iraqis could grow the green shoots of normalcy.

We need to follow up with another commander who has the same far-reaching worldview as David Petraeus... not just another Special-Ops marauder who can destroy but cannot build.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 21, 2008, at the time of 7:07 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

December 30, 2007

The Best Years of Their Lives: Hollywood and Franklin's War

Media Madness , Movie Madness and Fractured Flickers , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

This JoshuaPundit piece, which we linked on an earlier Watcher's Council post, raises an interesting question: Why were Americans so much more supportive of World War II -- demonstrating what I would call a "frenzy of patriotism" -- than they are of the current War Against Global Hirabah (WAGH)?

Certainly the WAGH is even more "existential" than the so-called good war: On December 7th, 1941, Japan bombed a fairly remote territory being used as a forward operating naval base in the northern Pacific. When that famous headline appeared -- "Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor" -- I suspect the vast majority of Americans had no idea where Pearl Harbor even was. Or Oahu, for that matter; how many even knew that was an island in Hawaii?

By contrast, every American who wasn't a subliterate troglodyte knew what the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon were. Do you know anybody who didn't (and who was over five years old)?

During the war, many Americans may have fretted that the Japanese and Germans would attack the American heartland; but they never did. By contrast, the 9/11 attacks, which killed more Americans than died at Pearl, struck at three of the four chambers of America's heart: the financial center in Manhattan, the central fortress of the American military, and the political center of the White House or Congress (we don't know the intended target of Flight 93). Had that third prong of the attack succeeded, the devastation could have rivaled the sacking and burning of Washington D.C. during the War of 1812. (The only chamber they missed was some social and entertainment center, such as Disneyland in Anaheim, California.)

Finally, even had we lost World War II, the suffering caused to America would probably be less devastating than it would be if we were to lose the WAGH: Hitler wanted to control America, but he didn't want to kill us all and burn America to the ground.

So why are Americans not particularly anxious to do everything they can to win this war, as they were during World War II? Why do so many Americans urge appeasement, surrender, and even nakedly support the enemy during wartime?

Freedom Fighter's answer was that President Franklin Roosevelt was simply a much better leader than Bush; but I believe that is simply unsupportable. As much as people like to extoll FDR as a leader comparable to Washington and Lincoln, the plain fact is that he just wasn't.

He was likeable; but sheer likeability is not the same as leadership... Bill Clinton was eminently likeable, even lovable; but that didn't make him a leader.

Mere likeability doesn't explain the willingness of Americans to sacrifice virtually every traditionally American verity: the ability to travel freely (rationing of gas and tire-rubber), to eat what we want to eat (food rationing), to be free of massive government intrusion into our lives (the militarization of the country), and even the most essential freedoms of speech, the press, and assembly (censorship, wholesale violation of habeas corpus at Manzanar, even direct control of media outlets by the government).

FDR was certainly not a great leader in terms of policymaking; his response to the Great Depression that brought him to power was an exercise in futility. The unemployment rate spiked to 25% in 1933, then remained mired in the low-20s over the next two years. Until 1940 and the wartime boost in industrial output, unemployment never dropped below 14%, more than five times the unemployment rate of in 1929 (3.2%). Most of the time, it was at 17% or more; that's a lot of Americans out of work and standing in breadlines.

The stellar book by Amity Shlaes, the Forgotten Man, demonstrates quite unequivocably that FDR's economic policies were disastrous and almost certainly prolonged the Great Depression years longer than necessary.

Once I built a railroad,
Made it run,
Made it race against time;
Once I built a railroad, now it's done...
Brother, can you spare a dime
?

Roosevelt's wartime leadership was hardly any better. Starting with Pearl Harbor, the Army and Navy under Roosevelt made an avalanche of stupid mistakes. It was only because of the even more colossal mistakes by Adolf Hitler, such as holding his Panzer divisions back and allowing the Brits and free French to evacuated more than 300,000 soldiers from Dunkirk, that we were able to stay in the war until our superior industrial capacity could finally put us back in the driver's seat in 1943-1944.

And then the pinnacle of poor leadership occurred in February 1945, when Roosevelt made the colossal mistake of going to Yalta personally, despite his serious illness, to preside over what turned into the enslavement of half of Europe, handed over lock, stock, and manacles to Roosevelt's great friend, Josef Stalin.

Roosevelt didn't simply honor our Soviet allies... he deified them. One need only watch Mission to Moskow, the FDR-ordered Warner Brothers hagiography of Stalin, to see what I mean... but more on this amazing movie later.

And of course, it's hardly the mark of leadership to allow Stalin's spies to riddle the American administration from top to bottom.

So if it wasn't Roosevelt's putative "leadership" that brought virtually Americans on board during World War II, then what did cause that "frenzy of patriotism," and why isn't it happening today? In a single word, the answer is Hollywood.

World War II was America's first "movie war." While there were newsreels made (often staged) during "the Great War," and even some fiction movies, film was still in its infancy in 1917. But by the late 1930s, movies had supplanted radio (which had, in its day, supplanted vaudeville); film was the dominant American art form and primary entertainment medium in the country. Everybody went to see every film that came out; it was a shared American gestalt that we've only recreated since then for rare, exceptional TV shows, such as the Tonight Show during the decades when Johnny Carson was hosting... and even rarer historical events: the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963; the moon landing on July 20th, 1969; the days right after 9/11.

World War II married the power of the great American medium to the ideological fervor of its creators: The struggle gave leftist Hollywood both an enemy it could truly hate -- Fascism -- and an ally it could truly love, the Soviet Union (at least, after that embarassing little interlude from 1939 to 1940).

Both partners in the nuptials were necessary to produce that frenzy of patriotism. Had we decided to join Germany in its war against the ComIntern, instead of the other way around, we would never have seen the tidal wave of patriotic movies that flooded theaters in the 1940s. But Roosevelt hated Hitler and loved Stalin, so our decision was foreordained (and to be fair, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were certainly the most immediate dangers to the United States).

Counting B-movies and featurettes, I'm sure there were more than a thousand World War II-related movies and shorts produced during the war... and every, single film made about the war during the war was completely and unabashedly on the side of the United States and our allies, and against our enemies.

It is probably the only time in American history that the Brahmins of art and intellectualism were 100% behind the actions of a presidential administration during wartime. Gone was the world-weary cynicism, the smirking and winking, the nihilist anarchy we generally associate with the leftist intellegencia. Peer pressure, ideology, personal economic benefit, and the Vision of the Anointed crashed together in a perfect storm of patriotic production.

Every movie, every radio broadcast, stage production, article in a national magazine, pronunciamento from the White House, and congressional floor speech (from either side the aisle) sent Joe Dokes the same message: If you don't jump aboard the military bandwagon, you're a slug and a creep and fair game to be stomped by your erstwhile friends.

Look, there were anti-war movies before WWII -- though like All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and the Road to Glory (1936), most of these pacifist flicks were about non-American forces. And there were anti-war movies made after WWII, including From Here to Eternity (1953), Paths of Glory (1957), and Catch-22 (1970). But from 1942 through 1945, and probably for a number of years after we won, no movie about the war could be produced unless it took America's side.

America's side and the side of Hollywood's favorite American ally: In 1943, FDR personally ordered the very-conservative Jack Warner to produce Mission to Moscow. This flick, astonishing to see today, is a two-hour journey by Roosevelt's ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1936-1938, Joseph Davies, from credulous naïveté to full-blown Stalin worship. You will never believe it until you actually see it; and even then, your mind may boggle at what your eyes and ears tell you. You may think it was somehow faked by Karl Rove; but I assure you, it is absolutely real. And Mission to Moscow is more typical than anyone cares to remember: Song of Russia (1944) also extolled Stalinism; while in Tender Comrade (1943), Ginger Rogers learns the joy of American-grown Communism.

In any event, during the war, more than a hundred million Americans watched scores of movies telling them that their patriotic duty was to sacrifice their time, money, and freedom "for the duration"... movies that had become the bedrock of the shared American community were all pulling in the same direction, like a twenty-mule team.

It's hardly a shock that Americans patriotically supported World War II like no other before or since: They received the word from on high, delivered by the holy bishops of Hollywood, from Jimmy Stewart to Irene Dunne, to Spencer Tracy, Esther Williams, John Wayne, Rita Hayworth, Humphry Bogart, Jane Wyman, Errol Flynn, Ann Miller, Henry Fonda, Betty Grable, Gary Cooper, Marlene Deitrich, Clark Gable, Carol Lombard, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Van Johnson, Hedy Lamarr, and on and on. If the Almighty could be half as persuasive as the American cinema in full cry, He would be a happy deity.

Not to mention the songs, of course... from Vera Lynn to Dinah Shore to Sophie Tucker to the Andrews Sisters (I won't bother listing any guys, you know who they are). In every jukebox in America and on every radio broadcast, citizens back home could expect to hear "The Last Time I Saw Paris," or "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B," or "Der Fuhrer's Face," or any of a thousand other pro-war, anti-Nazi songs.

It was not government leadership that drove patriotic support for the war; it was the vise-like grip on popular media by the pro-war Left. There were also pro-war novels, plays, production numbers, paintings, and pin-up girls. You couldn't hardly swing a dead Kraut without hitting some elitist member of the Communist Party or fellow traveler -- from Ernest Hemingway, to Dashiell Hammett, to Lillian Hellman, to Dalton Trumbo, to Paul Robeson, to Pete Seeger, to Eleanor Roosevelt -- manipulating some aspect of the mass media to promote victory over the "right-wing" hordes in World War II.

And of course, the right-wingers in the arts (John Wayne, Adolph Menjou, Jimmy Stewart, et al) were bright enough to keep their mouths shut about any disagreements they had with the way FDR ran the country -- or even the war itself -- and just pull along with everyone else... a talent that the Left has sorely lacked (when the president is Republican) since "the big one."

The distinction between then and now is manifest... and maddening. For years, Hollywood simply ignored the WAGH, as if it were all just a crashing bore. And now, finally, they're releasing some war-related product. But what do we get?

  • Paradise Now (released on October 28th, 2005);
  • Jarhead (November 4th, 2005);
  • Syriana (November 23rd, 2005);
  • Day Night/Day Night (May 7th, 2007);
  • In the Valley of Elah (September 14, 2007);
  • The Kingdom (September 28th, 2007);
  • Rendition (October 19th, 2007);
  • Lions for Lambs (November 9th, 2007);
  • Redacted (November 16th, 2007).

Can anyone find a single moment in any of these movies that takes America's side in the war on global hirabah? Can anyone think of a single serious movie -- with the possible exception of a Mighty Heart (June 22nd, 2007) -- that was released after the 9/11 attacks that unambiguously takes America's side in this war? (Even considering comedies, I can only think of one: Team America, October 15th, 2004.)

In music, there are some Country-Western songs that are pro-America or anti-terrorist, from Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" to Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten?" to Chely Wright's "the Bumper of My S.U.V.," probably lots of others. But the saturation is nowhere near as overwhelming as it was in the 1940s; I can't offhand think of a single rock song that fits the category.

And of course, the nattering nabobs of the elite "news" media keep up a steady tom-tom beat of negativism: We're losing, we've already lost, even if we win we've lost our soul; America is on the verge of collapse, we're going to hell in a hambone; say... did George W. Bush bring down those buildings by controlled demolition?

The huge gulf between the movies, music, arts, and literature of World War II and the same sources today explains the difference in patriotic fervor quite nicely... and much more believably than the supposed "leadership" of FDR, or the concomitant "leaderlessness" of George Bush. There is no need to look any deeper for an explanation than the hurricane of bleeding hearts and artists, and what they tell today's media-driven culture, about commerce and conquest, freedom and sharia, the modernity of the West and the Mediaeval pinings of radical Islamists -- and the steel-cage death match they're fighting between them for control of tomorrow.

Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 30, 2007, at the time of 11:57 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

December 28, 2007

Bullets for Ballots: Benazir Bhutto and the Future-Past Imperfect of Pakistan

Pakistan Perplexities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

A roundup of more or less random thoughts on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. First, of course we've all read yesterday's horrible faux pas by Mike Huckabee -- the man who would be Bill Clinton:

With about 150 supporters crowded around a podium set up on the tarmac of Orlando Executive airport (and about 20 Ron Paul supporters waving signs outside) Mike Huckabee strode out to the strains of “Right Now” by Van Halen and immediately addressed the Bhutto situation, expressing “our sincere concern and apologies for what has happened in Pakistan.”

He (rather, his campaign) quickly issued a statement saying he misspoke (quelle surprise!); he meant to say "concern and sympathies." But how on earth could he manage to misspeak and offer an apology to a radicalizing Islamic nation for the assassination of a beloved (if hapless) once and future leader? What use does Huckabee think the Islamists will make from that blundering soundbite?

This sort of gaffe, coupled with fatuously calling Bhutto a "profile in courage," when she was in fact a profile in power struggle (and the Taliban's first patron in 1996), is exactly why we should demand that the President of the United States have a better foreign-policy understanding than this century's "former governor of Arkansas" has ever demonstrated.

It's not enough to quip, "I may not be the expert that some people are on foreign policy, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night." I suppose it's a clever play on a commercial (that I've never seen). But the killing itself should tell us that complete naiveté when it comes to foreign affairs is no joke in the midst of an existential war with those preaching global hirabah -- en route to a global caliphate.

The Democrats are no better, of course; they responded to the assassination by blaming Pervez Musharaff and demanding his instant resignation (to be replaced by whom -- Nawaz Sharif, the protégé of former "strongman," General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq?) Here's Joe Biden:

"This fall, I twice urged President Musharraf to provide better security for Ms. Bhutto and other political leaders -- I wrote him before her return and after the first assassination attempt in October. The failure to protect Ms. Bhutto raises a lot of hard questions for the government and security services that must be answered.

And Bill Richardson:

A leader has died, but democracy must live. The United States government cannot stand by and allow Pakistan's return to democracy to be derailed or delayed by violence.

We must use our diplomatic leverage and force the enemies of democracy to yield: President Bush should press Musharraf to step aside, and a broad-based coalition government, consisting of all the democratic parties, should be formed immediately. [Formed how, exactly? Which angels in the forms of kings will fly down from the sky and put together this coalition of wise men?] Until this happens, we should suspend military aid to the Pakistani government. [Such a boycott of Pakistan will surely cripple the Islamist movement there!] Free and fair elections must also be held as soon as possible. [Put into place by...?]

It is in the interests of the US that there be a democratic Pakistan that relentlessly hunts down terrorists. Musharraf has failed, and his attempts to cling to power are destabilizing his country. He must go."

This is as irresponsible and reckless as "Huckabee’s Sunday School Foreign Policy" is credulous. If Musharaff resigned tomorrow, what would happen? Would the parties in Pakistan simply come together in calm reflection and decide to rule the country wisely and for the good of the people? Who are the Democrats kidding (besides themselves)?

Assassination has been a commonplace in Pakistan politics ever since the country was created amidst a convulsion of Islamist terrorism. It has been truly democratic in the past; but without a dictator like Musharaff at the helm at this moment, the other powers would begin killing each other off like the last act of Hamlet.

In the long run, President George W. Bush is right: There must be a restoration of democracy in Pakistan with free and fair elections. But that cannot happen in the poisoned atmosphere of intimidation, violence, corruption, and murder brought by the Islamist parties -- such as Jamaat-e-Islami, ally of the Muslim Brotherhood and proponent of sharia law for Pakistan -- and their sometime allies, such as Nawaz Sharif, who partnered with Jamaat-e-Islami to form the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad coalition in 1988 that brought him to power two years later. (Of course, intimidation, violence, corruption, and murder are also practiced by opponents of the Islamist parties, including Musharaff himself; but that fact doesn't sweeten the democracy pot any.)

Pakistan is in the same situation as Germany in 1933 or the Palestinian Authority in 2006: When parties campaign by bullets instead of ballots -- Nazis and Communists, Hamas and Fatah -- then there is no such thing as a "free and fair election;" there is only victor and vanquished. This is simply war extended to the voting booth.

The Musharaff government insists that the Taliban and al-Qaeda were responsible for the assassination of Bhutto. This has to rank up there with the least surprising news of 2007; they had repeatedly threatened to slay her if she returned to Pakistan, and they already tried to kill her once by a huge suicide attack in Karachi in October.

But of course, many Bhutto supporters accuse Musharaff instead... so they rampaged through the streets killing 23 other innocent people, to show the wickedness of politics by murder:

On Friday, Bhutto's supporters ransacked banks, waged shootouts with police and burned trains and stations in a spasm of violence less than two weeks before parliamentary elections.

Soldiers patrolled the streets of the southern cities of Hyderabad and Karachi, witnesses said. At least 23 people were killed in unrest, said Ghulam Mohammed Mohtaram, home secretary for Sindh province.

Are these the people who are going to form "a broad-based coalition government, consisting of all the democratic parties?"

While it's naturally tragic that Benazir Bhutto was slain the way she was, I'm quite certain that it would have been a dreadful thing for her to re-assume power in Pakistan. Mark Steyn says Bhutto represented yesterday's Pakistan and would have been doomed to fail -- and drag Pakistan with down with her -- had she returned as prime minister in today's Pakistan:

The State Department geniuses thought they had it all figured out. They'd arranged a shotgun marriage between the Bhutto and Sharif factions as a "united" "democratic" "movement" and were pushing Musharraf to reach a deal with them. That's what diplomats do: They find guys in suits and get 'em round a table. But none of those representatives represents the rapidly evolving reality of Pakistan. Miss Bhutto could never have been a viable leader of a post-Musharraf settlement, and the delusion that she could have been sent her to her death. Earlier this year, I had an argument with an old (infidel) boyfriend of Benazir's, who swatted my concerns aside with the sweeping claim that "the whole of the western world" was behind her. On the streets of Islamabad, that and a dime'll get you a cup of coffee.

Bhutto was, as Steyn sarcastically put it, "everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be": Female, secular, and socialist. But her previous governments (1988-1990, 1993-1996) were marred by corruption and socialism.

Both times, she and her party, the Pakistan People's Party, were dismissed from power by corruption charges, which have been substantially confirmed by subsequent investigations by Pakistan, France, Switzerland, and Poland; though one government report -- produced in 2005 at Pervez Musharaff's orders, while he was courting Bhutto to return to Pakistan -- claims the charges were mere fabrications. Musharaff granted Bhutto amnesty in 2007 when she agreed to return.

But she and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari (who spent eight years in prison for corruption), appear to have assets in Swiss bank accounts and in real property held in Great Britain and elsewhere totaling nearly $1.5 billion... money which cannot be easily accounted for legitimately. They were both convicted of money laundering in Switzerland in 2003; and both France and Poland have conducted investigations that found corruption by Bhutto and Zardari in those countries.

Her party, the PPP, was founded in 1967 by Bhutto's father, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto -- who was eventually executed for corruption (or judicially assassinated by General Zia, take your pick). It is linked to the Socialist International, and its credo is "Islam is our faith; democracy is our politics; socialism is our economy; all power to the people."

Honestly, I cannot see how Benazir Bhutto, for all that our own State Department has loved her since she was in power (and may have "loved her to death" yesterday), could have represented anything but a Pakistani "Fulgencio Batista," who would likely have ruled so incompetently and corruptly, that she would have opened the door for the tiny minority of Islamists in Pakistan to seize power... just as Batista opened the door to Fidel Castro's Stalinists. I have believed for a couple of years now that the return of Bhutto to power in Pakistan would have been utter catastrophe: What the country needs now is stability, which can only come from the defeat of al-Qaeda and the Taliban... not the turmoil of another controversial reign by Benazir Bhutto.

Sad as it is to say, and I am aware of how monstrous this may sound, the assassination of Bhutto by the terrorists may have averted a much worse fate for the nation of Pakistan -- and for us as well, considering the nuclear arsenal that would have been laid in the hands of Ayman Zawahiri and Mohammed Omar.

Max Boot has a more sanguine view of Bhutto. He also says (and I agree with this part) that Pakistan is mostly secular, and the Islamists are only a small percent of the nation:

As I mentioned in a previous post, the Islamic factions are not popular with the people of Pakistan as a whole; they are polling only 4% at the moment, about what Ron Paul is getting in polls of Republican voters. Their support has never exceeded 12% in any election, and that only because Musharraf hobbled the mainstream parties from competing. Now their backing has cratered because of their failure to deliver on their good governance pledges in Northwest Frontier Province which they have been running since 2002.

There is a vast “silent majority” in Pakistan that abhors the militants and has come to detest military rule. They are waiting for a leader. Bhutto, for all her imperfections, could have been that leader. She won’t be now. Alas. But let us hope that she will at least become a martyr for the cause of Islamic democracy, and that her death will inspire others to carry on her brave struggle.

Yet I think that Boot, in the passion of the moment, has failed seriously to consider how severely another corrupt socialist government would have set back the cause of democracy in South-Central Asia; it's just the sort of thing that leads to revolutions -- whether in Russia, Cuba, Iran, the PA, or Pakistan.

All human life has value, but sometimes that value is a negative number. Even occasionally when the person in question is affable, likeable, charming, secular, socialist, and pretty... "everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 28, 2007, at the time of 4:29 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

December 20, 2007

Today's Huckalunacy: Back to the Future? No, Forward to the Past!

Afghan Astonishments , Elections , Iraq Matters , Military Machinations , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Some evangelicals, such as Lee Harris at TCS (Technology, Commerce, Society) Daily, passionately believe that conservatives (and even non-conservatives such as myself) who say bad things about Mike Huckabee's campaign for the presidency, are simply haters who despise religious people. We spend our time nitpicking every word that Huckabee utters, find absurd conspiracies (such as the "floating cross" in his Christmas TV ad that was actually a reflection off his bookshelves), and even fabricate supposed faux pas out of thin air. We are the polar opposites of those believers who see Jesus in a tortilla and the Virgin Mary in a rock formation.

Not so! In fact, I knew absolutely nothing about Huckabee until I began to hear his own words. I have assumed from the git go that he is no more or less religious than that other evangelical, born-again Christian who currently occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. And everything I have attacked about Huckabee's campaign has been based upon his own words, either spoken, or in the case of his Foreign Affairs article on his deep, surethoughted foreign policy, written after careful pondering and the hiring of a skillful ghostwriter... thus all, one presumes, the considered position of Gov. Mike Huckabee himself.

So I feel no guilt for bringing to your eyes what I just heard with my own ears, on just about the most friendly venue Huckabee can possibly get: the Michael Medved show, a one-on-one conversation with a pal who has pulled out all the stops to turn his show into a virtual daily campaign spot for Gov. Huckabee.

Today, Medved began by asking Huckabee about the section of his article where he says he wants to build up the military much more rapidly than President Bush is doing. As a reminder, this is what Huckabee wrote, or at least put his name to; I include annotations from myself:

The Bush administration plans to increase the size of the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps by about 92,000 troops over the next five years. We can and must do this in two to three years. [Considering that the president has just barely met his own expansion rate, how exactly does Huckabee plan to double it? Care to tell us?] I recognize the challenges of increasing our enlistments without lowering standards and of expanding training facilities and personnel, and that is one of the reasons why we must increase our military budget. [How would increasing our DoD budget cause recruits to magically appear -- and to magically get 4-5 years of training in 2-3 years?] Right now, we spend about 3.9 percent of our GDP on defense, compared with about six percent in 1986, under President Ronald Reagan. [At the peak of the Cold War.] We need to return to that six percent level. [So he wants to add another $240 billion per year to the DoD budget... if he has a plan for getting Congress to vote this -- without a staggering tax increase -- does he care to share?] And we must stop using active-duty forces for nation building and return to our policy of using other government agencies to build schools, hospitals, roads, sewage treatment plants, water filtration systems, electrical facilities, and legal and banking systems. [That would be a great idea, if we could recreate the Foreign Office of the British Empire; but when has America done such a thing in the middle of a war? The Marshall Plan came after Germany was utterly razed.] We must marshal the goodwill, ingenuity, and power of our governmental and nongovernmental organizations in coordinating and implementing these essential nonmilitary functions.

If I ever have to undertake a large invasion, I will follow the Powell Doctrine and use overwhelming force. [A force that took months and months to settle in the friendly country of Kuwait -- which had just been invaded by Iraq, thus was willing to allow us to do so. Which country in the Middle East would have been willing to make itself a target over a six-month period prior to launching our own invasion of Iraq?] The notion of an occupation with a "light footprint," which was our model for Iraq, is a contradiction in terms. [Oddly, though, it seemed to work -- as even Gov. Huckabee admits a couple of sentences later.] Liberating a country and occupying it are two different missions. Our invasion of Iraq went well militarily, but the occupation has destroyed the country politically, economically, and socially. [Destroyed it? It appears to be doing significantly better by many measures than it was under Saddam Hussein.] In the former Yugoslavia, we sent 20 peacekeeping soldiers for every thousand civilians. [And say, that's worked out well, hasn't it!] In Iraq, an equivalent ratio would have meant sending a force of 450,000 U.S. troops. [Great leaping horny toads. And where were we to get the extra 200,000+ troops? Can Huckabee the Great conjure 20 divisions out of his hat?] Unlike President George W. Bush, who marginalized General Eric Shinseki, the former army chief of staff, when he recommended sending several hundred thousand troops to Iraq, I would have met with Shinseki privately and carefully weighed his advice. [Before or after he publicly smeared you with his "advice" at a Congressional hearing?] Our generals must be independent advisers, always free to speak without fear of retribution or dismissal. [Where "our generals" includes Eric Shinseki, but not, evidently, Tommy Franks.]

Look at that -- lots of attacks on Huckabee's ideas, yet not a single reference to "knuckle-dragging evanvgelicals" or "protofascist Christian theocrats!"

But Gov. Huckabee's military naïveté is perfectly encapsulated by a pithy, sententious aphorism he just delivered on the show, which is what spurred me to write this post. Here is what he said -- transcript from my own memory (but as you'll see, it would be hard to get this wrong):

Donald Rumsfeld famously said, "You don't go to war with the Army you'd like; you go to war with the Army you have." But I say, you don't go to war with the Army you have... you go to war with the Army you need. And you don't go to war until you have the Army you need!

(Actually, what Rumsfeld said was "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." But Huckabee's paraphrase is near enough to the meaning.)

Think about that for a moment. How many things are wrong with that sentiment?

  1. How do you calculate "the Army you need?"

    Huckabee would use the Powell Doctrine -- where we essentially refight World War II in every military conflict we undertake. The Gulf War was a classic force-on-force confrontation not that different from Patton's North Africa campaign or the Battle of the Bulge. But wars in the future will not much resemble those of the 20th century; and if we're still trying to fight campaigns against agile, assymetrical insurgents with the bigfooted approach of a Colin Powell -- well, look at our Iraq tactics of 2005-2006 and how effective they were.

    And for how many years could we have supported that size of a force in Iraq, by the way?

  2. How long do you wait to go to war, trying to raise the Army you think you need under the Powell Doctrine?

    When Colin Powell fought the Gulf War, he had the advantage of the Reagan Army build-up already under his belt. I understand that Huckabee wants to build up our armed forces; but he's still only talking about another 92,000 troops -- in three years. But he now says we should have used 450,000 soldiers in Iraq, which is more than 200,000 more than we used. So should we have waited six years to attack Iraq?

    What kind of WMD would Saddam Hussein have had by now, had we done nothing for the last six years?

  3. Where exactly would Huckabee have staged an Allied Expeditionary Force of near half a million? Turkey? Kuwait? Iran? Has the governor even thought this through? Which Moslem country was going to allow us to build up such a massive force of crusading Christians on its territory, in the era of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda?
  4. Perhaps Huckabee is covertly saying he wouldn't have invaded Iraq at all; that like President Clinton, he would have been content with occasional bombing runs to "keep Saddam Hussein in his box." And when the sanctions regime collapsed under the weight of the UN's Oil for Fraud bribery scheme, we would have grimly watched -- while building our mighty, Cold-War sized Army -- as Hussein rebuilt his entire arsenal of chemical and biological weaponry.

    (Which, by the way, he might have used against neighboring civilian populations or even his own people, rather than against our soldiers... and the civilian death toll could have been much, much higher... even as high as the ludicrous Lancet guesstimate of 655,000 deaths, or the even more risible Opinion Research claim of 1.2 million.)

    If that is what Huckabee is saying, I wish he would just straightforwardly make that case, so we could confront his arguments... instead of advocating policies that would force us down that road, willy nilly, in future.

  5. And what if our goal to add another 20-30 divisions were delayed indefinitely by a Congress unwilling to increase the military budget by 65%? How long do we wait before going to war... not just in Iraq, but anywhere?

    Years? Decades? Never? But even Huckabee admits that "our invasion of Iraq went well militarily."

    It seems he would preferentially never invade anywhere at all if he couldn't get enough troops to do it more or less like Operation Overlord on D-Day. This is like the king who had the largest army in Europe -- but would never fight for fear of "breaking" it.

Pace, Lee Harris, but this is why so many Republicans don't think much of "President" Mike Huckabee. Those of us who are not captive to the identity-politics of evangelism realize that electing yet another naïve Arkansas governor with no foreign policy experience to the White House is probably a bad idea during an existential war against global hirabah. Heck, the first was bad enough during the American vacation from history!

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 20, 2007, at the time of 1:37 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

December 17, 2007

Huckasmears of Yesteryear...

Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

I'm almost tempted to start a whole new catagory just for bizarre, liberal conspiracy theories that Mike Huckabee buys into; we'll see.

I've been reading Huckabee's article in Foreign Affairs from the January/February 2008 issue. I'm stunned by how many liberal shibboleths the governor would easily pass. (As I type this, Hugh Hewitt is on the same topic.)

Although the article is current, in fact each of these nutroot smears were originally delivered by Huckabee back in September, when he gave a condensed version of this article as a speech at a conference organized by the magazine; so he's been passing these canards for some time. (In that same speech, by the way, he said he was the only candidate with a Theology degree... which, of course, he does not actually have.)

Let's take a look at a couple.

President Bush took "retribution" against Gen. Eric Shinseki

Here's one that no one has mentioned so far:

In the former Yugoslavia, we sent 20 peacekeeping soldiers for every thousand civilians. In Iraq, an equivalent ratio would have meant sending a force of 450,000 U.S. troops. Unlike President George W. Bush, who marginalized General Eric Shinseki, the former army chief of staff, when he recommended sending several hundred thousand troops to Iraq, I would have met with Shinseki privately and carefully weighed his advice. Our generals must be independent advisers, always free to speak without fear of retribution or dismissal.

Mike Huckabee thinks that Gen. Eric Shinseki was dismissed? This is straight out the Democratic talking points. In fact, Shinseki was sworn in for his fixed, 4-year term as Army Chief of Staff in 1999, and he left office in 2003 -- four years later. Huckabee tries to weasel a bit by saying Bush "marginalized" Shinseki; but rejecting a general's advice is not marginalizing him.

Some Democrats make a big deal out of the fact that the Washington Post had an article in April, 2002, claiming that the Bush admininistration had just announced Shinseki's successor... Jack Keane. This, claim Democrats and liberals (such as Mike Huckabee), "undercut" Shinseki and turned him into a "lame duck," or "marginalized" him, as Huckabee says... and all as an act of "retribution" for Shinseki saying that we would need "several hundred thousand" troops to win in Iraq.

There are a two major problems with this Huckasmear:

  1. Eric Shinseki's successor as Army Chief of Staff was not Jack Keane; it was Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker;
  2. The Post published its article in April, 2002... but Shinseki made his comment about needing "several hundred thousand troops" in congressional testimony in February 2003, ten months after the supposed "retribution." (I've heard of preemptive war, but preemptive retribution?)

Here is a clip from CNN, where Wolf Blitzer does a little fact-checking on Paul Begala, who appears to be Huckabee's main source:

BLITZER: As promised yesterday, we want to do a follow-up now on something Paul Begala said in an exchange with Torie Clarke yesterday in our strategy session. Paul charged that General Eric Shinseki was effectively relieved of duty as Army chief of staff for testifying under oath that the U.S. needed lots more troops to secure Iraq.

We promised to check the facts on that. And here's what we've come up with. This is what we know. General Shinseki served out his full four-year term as the Army chief of staff. But the defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld tapped a successor for Shinseki back in April of 2002, more than a year before his retirement.

That person didn't wind up taking the job, but such an early announcement was indeed embarrassing to Shinseki, and some say it wound up undercutting his clout inside the Pentagon.

Here's a critical point on the timing. The Pentagon was planning for Shinseki's retirement nearly a year before the general testified that several hundred thousand soldiers might be need in post-war Iraq. That testimony got a very quick response from the secretary, that would be Donald Rumsfeld, who charged that Shinseki's assessment was flat out wrong.

Rumsfeld says that suggestions, though, that Shinseki was fired are a myth. Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre, who's done a lot of reporting on this story, says that Shinseki was certainly ostracized and criticized for his testimony about troop levels in Iraq. But Jamie says Shinseki was not fired. He wound up retiring after serving his full four-year term.

This show aired on March 21, 2006... a year and eight months ago. Yet Mike Huckabee still believes, today, that the "arrogant" President Bush, probably acting from his "bunker mentality," took "retribution" on Gen. Shinseki by "marginaliz[ing]" or "dismiss[ing]" him for saying we would need more troops than Rumsfeld was planning at the time. Gov. Huckabee is way behind even the MSM on correcting a Democrat smear of George W. Bush.

Bush "let bin Laden escape at Tora Bora" by outsourcing the battle to the Afghans

Just one more; the rest must wait for another day, another Huckapost:

When we let bin Laden escape at Tora Bora, a region along the Afghan-Pakistani border, in December 2001, we played Brer Fox to his Brer Rabbit.

This is another Democratic talking point against Bush; it was first reported in 2002, starting with the Washington Post, I believe, and then all over the elite media. Every so often, the meme bubbles up again: A 2004 document surfaces that allegedly charges a prisoner with "assist[ing] in the escape of Usama Bin Laden from Tora Bora;" Fox News reports that some Afghan warlord claims he was the one who helped Bin Laden escape Tora Bora, and so forth.

But the fact is that no Army document has ever been presented, and nobody in charge of that battle has ever come forward to say, that we knew then or know today whether Osama bin Laden was personally present at Tora Bora. Jed Babbin did what none of these other news agencies did: He actually interviewed those involved and asked them:

I asked [Lt. Gen. Michael DeLong, deputy commander of CENTCOM during the Afghan conflict] to bottom line it: Had the Bush administration concluded that OBL was present in Tora Bora? Was it the gravest error of the war to not commit enough U.S. ground troops? "Rifle" DeLong said, "Somebody could have made that statement, but it sure as hell wasn't the people who fought the war." No one in the military chain of command -- or in the Pentagon in any position of authority -- has reached this phantom "conclusion" that we blew it at Tora Bora....

After the north fell and then Kabul, "...we got word that Osama bin Laden with his leadership -- what was left of it -- could possibly be up in the Tora Bora mountains. We also got word the same day that he could be in Egypt." Reports poured in, some appeared reliable, that OBL could also be in Dubai or in Pakistan. Franks and DeLong concluded, based on the preponderance of the intelligence that OBL was in Tora Bora. U.S. forces couldn't invade Egypt, Pakistan, or Dubai, but they could take a shot at Tora Bora where a substantial number of al Qaeda -- with or without bin Laden -- were hiding. Once again, the Afghanis were integrated with the American and Coalition forces. Nobody "outsourced" the job to them.

Babbin's piece was published on November 1st, 2004. Considering this Huckasmear along with the one above, and his statement that "If I ever have to undertake a large invasion, I will follow the Powell Doctrine and use overwhelming force," and his unattainable demand that we must raise our Defense budget up to what it was during Reagan's term, during the Cold War (that is, add $240 billion annually to bring it up to 6% of the GDP)... I have to wonder whether Huckabee is simply living in the past. Did he stop following the War on Global Hirabah in 2003, or has he read or learned anything more recent than that? (What next... will he demand we bring back the Crusader program?)

And who is is actual advisor on this? We already know he would have believed Eric Shinseki over Tommy Franks; does he also pine for advice from Madeleine Albright, Paul Begala, and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA, 95%)?

The more I read about him -- in his own words! -- the more I believe that Huckabee is the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time. If I may quote Friend Lee (notwithstanding Huckabee apologist Michael Medved), "it can't be hush-a-bye time soon enough for Mike Huckabee."

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 17, 2007, at the time of 6:12 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 13, 2007

The Men on the Wall

Mysterious Orient , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

I recently had a conversation with a Japanese-American who calls himself "Asean-Peace." He is a regional director of an NGO on an island in the South Pacific, and I know him through online correspondence. We argued about maritime safety in Japanese waters and the dangers that face Japanese merchant and naval vessels in international waters. When I complained that the United States Navy often has to protect the Japanese because the Japanese ships cannot defend themselves (not even from pirates in Somalian waters), he said something profoundly disturbing.

But before I get to that, let me detour to a great work of literature; don't worry, it will all make sense in the end. Trust me.

One of my favorite novels is J.R.R. Tolkin's the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Overall, I was extremely pleased with Peter Jackson's movie adaptation. However, he disappointed me when he decided to cut a critically important chapter near the end of the trilogy: "The scouring of the Shire." A subsequent interview with Jackson, in which he referred to this chapter as an "anticlimax," led me to believe that Jackson never fully appreciated the importance of the return to the Shire and the final war. In fact, this chapter, not the destruction of the ring and the war against Sauron, is the true climax of the entire story.

The Lord of the Rings begins and ends in a land called the Shire ("shire" is a British word similar to county or parish); the Shire is where live the main characters of the novel, the "hobbits."

The Shire has been a peaceful place for generations. It is said that there once was a great war in which many hobbits fought and died; but that was so long ago that even ancient memories had long since forgotten it.

Except for a few hobbits who live in a city called Bree, hobbits don't venture out of the Shire. Occasionally, the Shire hobbits hear rumors of approaching war; but war always means "bad things happening in faraway places" to them... nothing to do with the Shire! The Shire is peaceful, and that is all that matters.

But what the hobbits don't realize is that their beloved Shire has been protected night and day by a group of raggedly dressed but impeccaby captained warriors called the Rangers. The Rangers -- led, in the story's era, by Strider, also called Aragorn -- have fought many, many battles over centuries to prevent evil forces from advancing into the Shire.

Hobbits occasionally see Rangers, but they think of them only as dangerous and unseemly folk to be avoided. The Rangers' bravery and blood are not only not appreciated, they are not even noticed.

Bear all that in mind; let's return to my online acquaintance from Japan.

Asean said that Japan is paying "a lot of money" to the U.S. for protection. What he meant was that Japan allows the United States to maintain military bases in Japan, mostly free of charge; and that Japan even pays some of the operating costs and the expenses of moving to new locations... for example, when we had to relocate our base from Okinawa to Guam because of protests by Japanese leftists.

Also, the Japanese government buys a lot of U.S. savings bonds, which (insisted Asean) keeps the American economy afloat. I was told by a number of Japanese that if Japanese taxpayers stopped supporting our economy, it would collapse. Frankly, I think that is a bloody bunch of... but I digress.

Since the US military is the only entity capable of policing the world, why shouldn't Japan totally rely upon them? That is how my online correspondent sees the situation: Japan pays enough to buy its protection, so what are Americans complaining about?

I told Asean that paying others to protect your own country is a sure way to lose face. He shrugged; most Japanese think merely losing respect is a cheap price to pay for never having to fight. Japan suffered so much from the last war -- in which Japan was the imperialist aggressor -- that many Japanese simply refuse to fight again, ever... no matter what the provocation. They won't to fight even to protect their own interests, land, or culture; they are content to outsource national defense in a way that Americans cannot even imagine.

Is this a position worthy of a once-proud nation of Samurai warriors? How can they face their ancestors, who would have fought bravely and died rather than surrender?

Aside from the craven and disgusting nature of this attitude, their strategy of self defense by proxy is doomed to fail. It has several problems:

  • Refusing to fight does not let you avoid war; rather, it invites war.

    Why did radical Iranian students keep American hostages for 444 days, rather than the three or four days which they initially planned? Because then-President Jimmy Carter made it very clear that he would not initiate any military action against Iran to get the hostages back.

    Why did Sadam Hussein openly defy UN resolution after UN resolution following the Gulf war? Because then-president Bill Clinton was utterly unwilling to fight an open war with Hussein.

    And why did al-Qaeda launch the 9-11 attacks? Because Osama bin Laden passionately -- and wrongly -- believed that Americans would not fight. America is weak and corrupt, he said, and they will run if we are bold. The perception of weakness invites attack; the perception of strength deters attack.

  • Mercenaries are not loyal to you; they always have their own agenda.

    Americans will protect Japan only when it is necessary for American defense. But if we have to choose between Japan and our own interests, the choice is clear.

  • Americans cannot be everywhere; we're not omnipotent: It's impossible for the United States to fully protect Japan even if we wanted.
  • Finally, the most likely reason outsourcing national defense will fail is the "men on the wall" syndrome: Just like the hobbits of the Shire, the Japanese have not fought a war for a long, long time. They have forgotten how to fight, and even that there is any need to fight.

Because Japan has let someone else do the fighting for them, they have forgotten that the war currently raging between Western civilization and radical Islam involves Japan, as well. They have forgotten the need for the men on the wall, as Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) puts it in the 1992 movie a Few Good Men. I think this is a good time to revisit that speech, the only honest scene in Rob Reiner's movie:

We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Whose gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg?

I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: That Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives.

And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the truth because deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall.

We use words like honor, code, loyalty; we use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post.

Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are "entitled" to.

Since Tom Cruise -- and Rob Reiner -- are unable to answer Nicholson's point, they find a way to destroy him using a stupid pet trick. But the points still stands, right up there on the wall with the Marines; Reiner cannot cannot answer because there is no answer.

The reason Japanese are now bitterly complaining about American bases being in Japan, about having to pay the cost of relocation -- a relocation Japan itself demanded -- is that they have forgotten why Americans are there in the first place.

Who are these people spending our tax money and staying on our land for free? they demand to know. Well, it isn't "free": Americans are there to protect Japan, and the risk we incur is the price we pay for having our own bases in Asia. A fair deal, position for protection... remember? People who once thought the price was well worth it now decide they're paying too much.

This is only natural, because two whole generations of Japanese have never seen war. It doesn't exist to them, and they don't remember why those men were on top of that silly wall in the first place. (There's an old American expression: Never tear down a fence until you know why someone put it up.)

And that is the reason Peter Jackson is dead wrong, and "the scouring of the Shire" is so important: war finally comes to the Shire itself. The Rangers are long gone, Gandalf is elsewhere, and even the elves have left. There is nobody else to defend the Shire but the hobbits. If they want to take back their land, they must themselves fight against the occupiers. A couple of hobbits who had ventured out of the Shire and fought in alien lands, Merry and Pippin, lead the battle. They've seen war; they've learnt how to fight.

Maybe as more and more Japanese work closely in peacekeeping operations with Americans and other fighters -- even if the Japanese work in a non-combat capacity -- they will rediscover war, the common heritage of all humanity. Then they can return to Japan and explain to Japanese civilians about the wall, the men, and "punchlines" like honor, duty, and a code. (We even have a word for that already: Bushidō (武士道). Too bad Japanese youths have never heard of it.)

This is not just about Japan. Europe suffers from the same syndrome. In fact, it's even worse in Europe, since the war has already reached their lands. How many terrorist attacks and riots do they need before they finally wake up?

It is time for both Europe and Japan to scour their own shires.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, December 13, 2007, at the time of 8:19 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

December 3, 2007

Japanese Ship Sails Dangerous Waters

Media Madness , Military Machinations , Mysterious Orient , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Sachi

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk to a naval officer in the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF). The conversation turned to the Japanese role on the war on global hirabah, as Dafydd calls it (the global war on terrorism, GWOT, as everyone else calls it).

You might not know that under Japan's pacifist constitution, the JMSDF is not legally allowed to engage in any aggressive war, regardless of its merits. However, as our ally, they are allowed (and obligated) to help our war effort in a limited, non-violent capacity. .. which they used to do by refueling American naval ships in the Indian Ocean, among other tasks.

But this effort was halted at the insistance of the opposition parties in the Japanese Diet (parliament); by refusing to support the anti-terrorism bill that fostered such cooperation, the opposition effectively made sure it would expire:

Japan's government ordered its ships supporting U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan to return home Thursday, after opposition lawmakers refused to support an extension of the mission, saying it violated the country's pacifist constitution....

It was an embarrassing retreat for Japan's new Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who was a strong advocate of the six-year mission and had vowed to pass legislation that would let Japan take on at least a more limited role in fighting terrorism in the region.

The order also reflected the growing power of Japan's main opposition party, which made significant gains in elections in July and is pushing to scale back the country's role in international peacekeeping efforts that involve military operations.

Many Japanese do not understand the urgent need to protect their own country. They think the GWOT is something Americans are doing which does not affect Japan at all. Some members of the Diet argue that cooperating with the US will unnecessary endanger Japan; and the Japanese "mainstream media" openly criticize the JMSDF for becoming almost a part of the United States Navy.

But the fact is that Japanese commercial ships are routinely attacked on the high seas by terrorists and pirates. Yes, pirates -- in 2007. And we're not talking Captain Jack Sparrow here: A Japanese blogger (probably female, but bloggers in Japan rarely have "about me" pages on their blogs) called Usagi ni Kaze (兎に風) reminds us of an incident that occurred three years ago. The link is to an English translation; I have left it mostly uncorrected:

April 24, 2004. British Navy assigned to Persian Gulf in part of multinational forces noticed dubious 3 high-speed boat approaching to the Japanese tanker ”Takasuzu” that was piered to the oil-loading port near Basra. Apparently 3 small boats were the self-exploding terrorist attacking the tanker.

The British Norfolk operation log reported that oil-loading port terminal became a target of terrorists. One of the high-speed boats exploded about several hundred-meters off from Takasuzu tanker. The bullets were biting into body of the Tanker making a big hole, and iron-wraught door blew apart. Unfortunately 2 US Marine Corps and and 1 Coast Guard died. Terror was blocked but 3 lost lives.

I think she (or he) means the terrorists were shooting at the tanker before setting off the explosives on the small boat.

My Japanese officer acquaintance reports that Japanese combat ships are not allowed to patrol the area, not even to protect Japanese shipping. Even if a naval vessel happened to have been there, it's not likely they could have done much, because of their overly restrictive rules of engagement.

"Even if we are attacked, we can only fight back with the equivalent power," my acquaintance said. "That means if the terrorists use pistols, we cannot shoot back at them with machine guns. What happens if a boat filled with explosives approaches? Which weapon is the Japanese destroyer allowed to use? Who knows?" He sounded quite frustrated.

Usai ni Kaze and other Japanese bloggers point to this much more recent attack on a Japanese ship to show that the situation is not improving:

A Japanese chemical tanker with 23 Korean, Filipino and Myanmar crew on board has been hijacked off the coast of northern Somalia, a piracy watchdog and officials said Monday. The vessel, believed to be carrying oil products, sent out a distress message on Sunday which was picked up by a rescue centre in Norway and relayed to the International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre here. "We tried to establish contact with the ship but we failed to get any response, so we than contacted coalition warships in the area," IMB spokesman Noel Choong told AFP. The coalition naval forces informed the IMB that the ship then entered Somali territorial waters, meaning no rescue could be initiated, he said.

Acccording to CNN Japan, two American destroyers, the Arleigh Burke and the Porter, chased after the pirates. As several Japanese bloggers have pointed out, the Japanese media barely even reported this attack; they're so quiet that the details of the attack are very sketchy.

The Somalian ocean is notoriously dangerous due to rampant piracy; it's the Tortuga of the twenty-first century. Last March, two U.S. Navy warships, the cruiser Cape St. George and the destroyer Gonzalez, exchanged gunfire with pirates off the coast of Somalia:

The battle started after the USS Cape St. George and USS Gonzalez, which were patrolling as part of a Dutch-led task force, spotted a 30-foot fishing boat towing smaller skiffs and prepared to board and inspect the vessels.

The suspected pirates were holding what appeared to be rocket-propelled grenade launchers, the navy said. When the suspects began shooting, naval gunners returned fire with mounted machine guns, killing one man and igniting a fire on the vessel.

(I have some personal knowledge of this incident; a current co-worker of mine (American) was aboard the Gonzalez during the firefight.)

The reason Japanese media is silent about these incidents is that they want to play down the real danger Japanese commercial ships face on the open ocean. They know that if Japanese realized how dangerous maritime activity had become, they would demand that the "Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force" become an actual blue-water navy... which would require the constitution be changed; Japan is an island nation that lives by the sea trade, and Japanese know how vital that is to their own livelihood.

For further evidence of Japan's need for a real navy, and the weakness caused by its lack, see also our series about South Korea, Japan, and the island of Takeshima:

Some concerned Japanese bloggers are very frustrated by the fact that the Japanese government, by law, currently keeps its ships defenseless against terrorists and pirates. "Don't forget," Usagi ni Kaze writes in another post, "three Americans have lost their lives protecting our ship." She (he) thinks it's disgraceful that Japanese purposely allowed the anti-terrorist resolution to lapse, thus forcing Japan to cease protecting the freedom of the seas -- or even its own shipping -- while still giving "plausible deniability" to ministers and members of the Diet who don't want to be seen as endangering Japanese merchant vessels.

Today's AP story addresses the growing problems in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia, the follow up to the seized Japanese tanker incident:

The U.S.-led coalition working to secure sea lanes beset by pirates believe skiffs like the ones used in the attack on the Japanese ship must have come from elusive "mother ships...." [They mean a larger ship that launches the small skiffs and other boats that carry out the actual attack; the larger ship would be the "base" which must be destroyed to stop the pirates or terrorists.]

The International Maritime Bureau has recorded 31 attacks off Somalia this year but believe many more go unreported.

The 31 includes the seizure a month ago of a Japanese tanker carrying as much as 40,000 tons of highly explosive benzene in the Gulf of Aden.

Initially, American intelligence agents worried terrorists from Somalia's Islamic extremist insurgency could be involved and might try to crash the boat into an offshore oil platform or use it as a gigantic bomb in a Middle Eastern port.

When the Japanese vessel was towed back into Somali waters and ransom demanded, the coalition was relieved to realize it was just another pirate attack.

The more recent attack on a separate Japanese vessel occurred some 85 nautical miles from Somalia in the busy lanes used by boats entering the Suez Canal -- too far for the two small boats carrying pirates to have come from shore. Some attacks are even farther from land, as much as 250 nautical miles, Hasham said.

The pirates boarded the Japanese vessel before their skiffs were destroyed and remain aboard. The U.S. Navy has in the past persuaded pirates to abandon ships they have boarded and still hoped to do so in the case of the Japanese vessel -- though that might be complicated now that the pirates no longer have skiffs on which to leave.

No warship has located a mother ship yet, although that could be due to the continuos radio chatter they put out to warn pirates that they are patrolling the area in an effort to deter attacks. However, numerous ship captains have reported seeing the bigger pirate vessels.

Thanks to blogs and other media outlets, the Japanese people are slowly waking up. I am hopeful that the resolution will be re-approved, and that refueling in the Indian Ocean will resume; just as Democrats here in America will be forced, in the end, to approve funding for the Iraq war without an attached date for America to surrender to the terrorists. In America, sanity usually prevails; I am not so sure about Japan, though.

In any event, the pace at which the Japanese are navigating this water is agonizingly slow and nerve-wracking.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, December 3, 2007, at the time of 3:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 31, 2007

Courts v. Terrorism = Wile E. Coyote v. Road Runner

Crime and Punishment , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Another terrorism trial in civilian court has just gone awry; it is now a world-wide phenomenon:

Spain's National Court convicted the three main suspects in the Madrid commuter train bombings of mass murder Wednesday and sentenced them to tens of thousands of years in prison for Europe's worst Islamic terror attack.

But the verdict was a mixed bag for prosecutors, who saw four other key defendants convicted of lesser offenses and an accused ringleader acquitted altogether.

With much of the case resting on circumstantial evidence, the three judges may have been wary after a number of high-profile Spanish terror cases were overturned on appeal.

Spain's prime minister said the verdict still upheld justice. But victims of the attack, which killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800 when bombs exploded on four trains on March 11, 2004, expressed shock and sadness over the court's decision.

In short, the court convicted the low-level button-men who actually carried out the Madrid bombings, but it acquitted the top terrorist bosses who planned and ordered it in the first place... including Rabei Osman Sayed Ahmed, the ringleader -- who has already been convicted and jailed in Italy for the bombings in Spain, but who was found not guilty in Spain because Spanish judges found "nuances" in Osman's surveillance-taped confession.

The problem with trying to prosecute terrorists in civilian courts is that the latter were never set up to handle global conspiracies that play out over multiple cell phones, the internet, and coded conversations in several different countries. Just a simple, factual recounting of a typical conspiracy the size of the one in the Madrid bombings is apt to sound like paranoid ravings to a jury not versed in the scope and mindless ferocity of such attacks.

Thus, they tend to discount the testimony of insiders and subordinates... particularly when couched in the bizarre religious beliefs that characterize those willing to commit what amounts to human sacrifice on a scale not seen since the Aztecs. But jurors also reject the dry, factual recitations by experts on terrorism from, e.g., Israel -- as we saw in the Holy Land Foundation trial, for which see more below.

And that's assuming one even has low-level perpetrators still sucking air and available for prosecution, turning to state's evidence, and convicting their terrorist overbosses: Often, as in 9/11, the actual "soldiers" plan on joining the mass human sacrifice they precipitate.

Worse, as Judge Richard Posner pointed out, it's ludicrous to require a warrant based upon probable cause before we can start surveillance -- which is inevitably the situation we're in whenever we rely upon the civilian court system -- because the whole purpose of surveillance is to determine "who is a terrorist" in the first place! (Hat tip to Power Line.) You obviously cannot produce probable cause for surveilling "John Does 1 through 57 to be named later."

Terrorism is not even like organized crime. At the end of the day, the Mafia (and versions from other countries, such as the "Mexican Mafia" or the "Vietnamese Mafia") have a simple and understandable purpose: to make money for those at the top. Thus, you can generally prove who is il capo di tutti capi by simply following the money trail.

But the purpose of terrorism is simultaneously more elusive, like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall, and more irrational: Thus, to the extent that jurors are rational men and women, they naturally resist believing that people could rationally plot an irrational, insane, and meaningless act of mass murder.

Look at the sustained effort on the part of thousands of intelligent and rational pundits to figure out what "caused" Mohammed Atta and his 18 merry men to "martyr" themselves in order to destroy multiple buildings and kill nearly 3,000 souls... after all, it couldn't possibly be for the risible reason that American troops profaned the holy country of Saudi Arabia -- which Osama bin Laden hated and despised above all others! That wouldn't be... rational.

And the prosecution of terrorist cases is also hampered by the defense tactic of demanding hundreds of heavily classified documents in discovery and trying to call top antiterrorism officials to testify under oath; when the government refuses, for obvious reasons, to produce those documents and witnesses, many soft-hearted, soft-headed, and very angry liberal judges retaliate against the government by dismissing the charges... on grounds that Mr. Terrorist is not getting a fair trial. Thus, such judges force the government into a Sophie's Choice moment: Either they can convict this one terrorist -- or else they can continue to fight against the global Salafist, terrorist conspiracy... but not both.

Finally, many countries routinely refuse to extradite wanted prisoners to the United States if the prisoners could possibly be subject to the death penalty.

For all of these reasons, a typical civilian-court trial has about as much chance of convicting and properly sentencing a terrorist mastermind as our hapless coyote has of catching the road runner. Most of our judicial efforts come boxed from the same Acme Co. that supplies Wile E. Coyote with the rockets that malfunction, carrying him over the cliff to disappear in a tiny dust cloud at the bottom.

Another perfect example is the just "concluded" -- by which I mean "ended in a mistrial without a conclusion on nearly all the charges" -- Holy Land Foundation trial. Despite a massive volume of intelligence information introduced to the jury, much of it from "an array of internal Muslim Brotherhood documents from the 1980s and early 1990s," the jury could not agree on a single conviction for a single charge for any of the seven defendants.

There have been some partial successes: The Italian conviction of Osman cited above, for example. But even in that case, the man actually convicted (in Italian court) for planning and ordering the Madrid bombings -- thus organizing a mass murder, as far as Italian law is concerned -- received a sentence of just ten years... which an Italian court of appeals promptly reduced to eight years. That works out to just slightly over 15 days per murder, in case you're counting.

In another infamous case, the Bush administration eventually saw the graffiti on the wall and transferred the Jose Padilla prosecution from military to civilian court. At that point, the government had to drop all of the allegations that Padilla was plotting a "dirty bomb" attack (an attack using conventional explosives wrapped in a dangerously radioactive casing) and other attacks on American soil... likely because they could not use in civilian court any of the intelligence data from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed:

Padilla's attorneys would have argued that since Mohammed was "tortured" (waterboarded), everything he said was inadmissible; worse, even the successful capture of Padilla and any evidence taken at the time came, ultimately, from Mohammed's intelligence... hence was "fruit of the poisoned tree" and likewise inadmissible.

The prosecution was reduced to presenting evidence to a grand jury that got Padilla indicted on three counts -- one of which, conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim, was immediately chucked out by the trial judge. It was restored by the appellate court, but it's another illustration of the "soft-hearted judge" dilemma above.

There is a reason the Bush administration has resisted, to the maximum extent possible, shifting primary responsibility for dealing with terrorists to the civilian court system... and it's not that Bush wants to shred the Constitution and imprison thousands of liberal activists in Gitmo: it's that terrorists are well-trained in using the rights and liberties of our own judicial system as a weapon against us.

They are well-versed in tying our courts into knots, playing the victim, and shifting blame to American foreign policy. And because the refutation of such lies would require revealing classified information that is vital to national security, the government is typically helpless to defend itself and its prosecution.

Alas, there is also a reason why the Democrats, to a man (and I include Hillary in that), will fight until the cows come home to roost to return the war on global hirabah to the courtrooms, as it was under President Bill Clinton: Because it's so much easier simply to charge terrorists in civilian court, then throw up one's hands at the mistrials and not-guilty verdicts and say "what can we do?" than to take on the duty oneself and actually achieve results.

Declaring that the proper way to fight terrorism is not with special forces and intelligence but subpoenas and indictments relieves a future Democratic administration from all responsibility. It takes the whole "terrorism thing" off the president's plate... allowing him or her to focus on more pleasant tasks, such as raising taxes on poor smokers in order to finance government-run health care for all middle-class children and their parents.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 31, 2007, at the time of 7:56 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

October 30, 2007

Dem Prez Candidates Find Unanimity - Opposing Presidential Authority!

Elections , Hillary Hilarity , Terrorism Intelligence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL, 95%), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbag, 95%), and ex-Sen. John Edwards have three things in common:

  • Each is a current (or former) member of the Senate;
  • Each is running for president... a.k.a. "chief executive";
  • Each claims he wants presidential power curtailed, making the president little more than a congressional catspaw.

How's that last one again? I think Hillary expressed it best (with a hat tip to Real Clear Politics):

The Attorney General is the chief defender of the rule of law in our country. After Alberto Gonzales's troubled tenure, we cannot send a signal that the next Attorney General in any way condones torture or believes that the President is unconstrained by law.

What exactly does this mean? The Democrats made the meaning explicit a few days ago, as we faithfully reported in Mucking About With Mukasey: When Democratic senators write "condones torture," you should read "refuses to declare the use of waterboarding anathema, forbidden under any or all circumstances, no exceptions."

Attorney General Designate Michael Mukasey, in his Senate confirmation hearings, has so far refused to declare waterboarding to be torture or to agree to forbid the president to order it (though how Mukasey -- who works for the president, not the other way around -- could enforce such a ban is left hanging). Thus, Clinton and Obama have both declared they will not vote to confirm him. Can't have an Attorney General who thinks the president is "unconstrained by law!"

But wait -- how is waterboarding related to the "rule of law," of which the Attorney General should be "the chief defender?" No bill declaring waterboarding to be an act of torture has ever been enacted into law in the United States. In fact, Congress has never sent such a bill to the president to be vetoed. While "torture" is banned, it is left up to the president to determine how to execute that law -- specifically, to determine what does and does not constitute torture, using broad guidelines contained in various acts and treaties.

But these Democratic candidates want to remove that task from the president's plate. Rather, they want the president's understanding of the laws banning torture -- Title 18, part I, chapter 113C, § 2340 of the United States Code, for example -- to shift with every shift of the majority wind blowing from Congress, without the tedious necessity of Congress passing bills that the president is willing to sign... or (in a pinch) overriding the president's veto.

What these candidates demand is that President Bush declare waterboarding torture for no other reason than that a majority of Congress considers it torture -- as if the president himself should have no say in the matter. The so-called Commander in Chief and Chief Executive becomes a congressional spokesman, fit only to echo the understanding of the law as enunciated by congressional leaders.

The president thus becomes Chief Executive Secretary to the majority leader of the Senate and the squeaker of the House.

On a related point, recall that Democratic senators routinely ask judicial nominees, during their confirmation hearings, how they will rule on various cases. In particular, they invariably ask nominees to federal district courts, circuit courts, and the Supreme Court whether they will uphold a woman's "right" to get an abortion, with the clear understanding that if they will not, or if they refuse to answer, that senator will oppose their confirmation. This is just as improper as demanding that an incoming Attorney General agree to congressional policy decisions that will bind the president as a condition of his confirmation; and it indicates a very disturbing pattern:

Democrats evidently believe that, while we have three coequal branches of government, one is more coequal than the others.

But it's not just my inference here; we can take the direct word of John Edwards. While Edwards has become almost a fringe candidate, he speaks for a great many other Democrats in the Senate and House. In his own statement rejecting Mukasey (though he has no say in that question), he included this paragraph:

Mukasey has also said that the president doesn't necessarily have to abide by acts of Congress. We need an Attorney General who will put the rule of law above the administration's short-term political interests, and Mukasey has already shown that he's unwilling to do that.

Sadly, Edwards actually appears to believe that a president must "abide by acts of Congress"... all of them. (The statement makes no sense unless we assume that Edwards meant to allow no exceptions; if exceptions are allowed, then anything can be an exception!) But what if a runaway Congress enacts a patently unconstitutional law? Must the president abide by it anyway?

Here is the scenario: Suppose John Edwards becomes president; and because of the Silky Pony's feckless policies, we are hit with another terrorist attack -- but this one is a widespread, distributed attack on America's malls. In 12 Gallerias across the country, a series of coordinated bombings kill 23,000 last-minute shoppers during Christmas week.

Al-Qaeda swiftly claims credit for the attacks, and within a couple of days, the attacker are identified; all are Arab Americans. In a spasm of rage, Congress passes a law ordering the immediate arrest and detention of all Americans of Arabic descent. President Edwards valiantly tries to stop the madness, but Congress overrides his veto.

He is now faced with a constitutional crisis: The act is clearly unconstitutional and should be overturned when the courts get around to hearing it. But they're in no hurry, just as they were not in 1942. So should President Edwards go ahead and implement this obviously unconstitutional act of Congress? Or should he exercise his authority -- and duty -- as a coequal branch of the government to ignore the act, on his own authority?

The point of the exercise is that "the law" is not solely determined by statutory law enacted by Congress: It also includes the Constitution, the bedrock law of our government, along with caselaw.

Likewise, Congress is not the sole arbiter of what the Constitution and the law require, either. The Supreme Court obviously plays a role; but so too does the president, in his capacity as the executor of the laws of the land -- including the most basic law, the Constitution of the United States of America.

But while Congress seems willing to include the Court into the club of those who get to determine what is constitutional, it is equally pleased to include the president out of that fraternal order. And since many senators also believe they should only confirm judges who agree in advance to decide certain cases in favor of the senator's position, these members of Congress quite clearly believe that Congress should be preeminent in determining what "rule of law" means. This tendency crosses party lines, by the way; cf. Sens. Arlen Specter (R-PA, 43%), Lindsay Graham (R-SC, 83%), and everyone on the Gang of Fourteen.

This is almost an attempt at a slow-moving, bloodless coup d'état... well, "bloodless" in the sense that they do not openly espouse killing the president; but they do push policies that are likely to get a lot of Americans killed, in the guise of protecting their "civil liberties." From Hillary again:

We need to restore the nation’s confidence in the Department of Justice. The Department must once again defend our Constitution and the rule of law without regard to ideology and partisanship. And we need to protect the country from terrorism while also respecting Americans’ civil liberties.

It's not quite clear to me how waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed -- a Kuwaiti on the lam, who was captured by Pakistani troops in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, with or without CIA participation, and was transferred to CIA custody -- impacts "Americans’ civil liberties." Perhaps Hillary Clinton will elaborate when she's asked that tough question during tonight's Democratic candidates' debate. [Note for the irony impaired...]

In fact, I do not believe there is any evidence that any American citizen or legal resident has ever been waterboarded in order to obtain information. However, we have waterboarded many American soldiers and CIA interrogators as part of their training for either resisting that interrogation technique (in the case of soldiers) or using it on captured terrorists (in the case of CIA interrogators).

Also, at least one reporter, Fox News Channel's Steve Harrigan, voluntarily underwent three of the reputed five stages of waterboarding for a video report. Harrigan pronounced it "torture," but he also noted that just a few minutes after each session, he felt perfectly fine -- which makes his pronouncement a bit dicey, as all definitions of psychological torture I've seen, including the legal one above, require "prolonged mental harm" resulting from the session.

Others who have undergone it, including many military and CIA personnel, say it's not torture. The point is not to prove one way or another (though I believe it is not torture, and I would happily undergo it just out of curiosity) but to prove a much easier point: That waterboarding is a controversial issue with people of good faith and strong experience landing on both sides.

In other words, it's a perfect candidate for a case by case determination whether it's legitimate to use waterboarding to obtain intelligence information, based upon the criticality of the information sought, the particular person it's sought from, and any prevailing exigent circumstances. Implementation like this is precisely the purview of the Executive branch, not the Legislative -- which creates one size fits all rules for everyone -- or the Judiciary -- which decides ex-post facto whether information gathered can be used at trial; nobody has ever attempted to use a "confession" obtained by waterboarding in court as evidence at the confessor's criminal trial.

Whether or not to use waterboarding to obtain critical intelligence is a job for Super President, not Glacially Ponderous Judge or Mealy-Mouthed Congressman. But to the top three Democratic candidates for Chief Executive Secretary of the United States Congress, branches one and two need only ask Congress what they think, and then rubber-stamp the congressional leadership's decision... the president as puppet.

I wonder: How much of this do they truly believe and would actually follow through on if elected... and how much is just electoral hype in the never-ending Democrat hit single, "The Bushies Have Bushwhacked America"?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 30, 2007, at the time of 6:26 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 29, 2007

Does Kagan Read Big Lizards, or Does Big Lizards Anticipate Kagan?

War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Actually neither; Frederick W. Kagan has been making this same point for weeks now -- that we've already won the first Iraq battle against al-Qaeda, giving us encouragement as we tackle the second against the Iran-controlled Shiite militias. But he makes the argument very forcefully in an opinion piece in the current Weekly Standard.

Kagan, recall, was a co-author along with Gen. Jack Keane and Maj. Daniel Dwyer of Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq, which most argue was the impetus behind President George W. Bush deciding to scrap the previous strategy we were using in Iraq and choose a counterinsurgency strategy (and a new general) instead. The link above is actually to a Power Point presentation on the strategy (masquerading as a PDF file) that I particularly like: Just set the zoom to "Fit page" and keep pressing the Page Down key to progress through the "slides."

From the Weekly Standard piece, here is Kagan putting it on a nutshell:

America has won an important battle in the war on terror. We turned an imminent victory for Al Qaeda In Iraq into a humiliating defeat for them and thereby created an opportunity for further progress not only in Iraq, but also in the global struggle. In the past five months, terrorist operations in and around Baghdad have dropped by 59 percent. Car bomb deaths are down by 81 percent. Casualties from enemy attacks dropped 77 percent. And violence during the just-completed season of Ramadan--traditionally a peak of terrorist attacks--was the lowest in three years....

Before the surge began, American forces in Iraq had attempted to fight al Qaeda primarily with the sort of intelligence-driven, targeted raids that many advocates of immediate withdrawal claim they want to continue. Those efforts failed.... Success came with a new strategy....

The so-called "water balloon effect," in which terrorists were simply squeezed from one area of the country to another, did not occur in 2007 because our commanders finally had the resources to go after the terrorists wherever they fled.... The addition of more forces, the change in strategy to focus on protecting the population, both Sunni and Shia, and the planning and execution of multiple simultaneous, and sequential operations across the entire theater combined with a shift in attitudes among the Sunni population to revolutionize the situation.

Everyone should read this (fairly short) opinion piece. Coming as it does from the military historian most qualified to opine on the counterinsurgency, and being so succinct and clearly thought out, it shines as one of the preeminent, must-read publications on the endgame in Iraq. I believe it stacks up well beside the Arthur Herman piece we first linked on January 4th, 2007, in Iran Strategies 6: Preparing For the "Herman Option?", and the recent Max Boot book War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today... three publications that are essential to understanding the post-modern, distributed, asymmetrical warfare of insurgencies and terrorist groups today.

(Dare we call that "POMODA" war?)

If you read all three, I guarantee you'll know more about the subject than all but a child's handful of senators, congressmen, and civilian administration officials. Which is scary and discouraging, when you stop to think about it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 29, 2007, at the time of 6:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 26, 2007

Mucking About With Mukasey

Congressional Calamities , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

In our last whack at the contentious issue of the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his replacement (maybe) with "someone better," I warned that this might not be as easy or successful as 158% of all conservatives swore it would be. "Why, anybody we get would better than Gonzales!" was the usual refrain, as I recall; also, "We just fire Gonzales, then go out and get someone much, much better!"

I played Cassandra then, pointing out that, while I shared many of the conservative objections to Gonzales, replacement proponents were skipping over a critically important step: They had no plan for how to get this "someone better" confirmed by a Democratic Senate... or even supported by a Judiciary Committee chaired by Sen. Pat "Leaky" Leahy (D-VT, 95%), with ranking Republican Arlen Specter (R-PA, 43%).

Why would Democrats support an attorney general who is "better" than Gonzales -- from a conservative perspective? The Democrats are enemies of conservativism... they want to hurt or destroy it, not promote it.

In that previous post linked above, "Is AG Designate Mukasey Already Kowtowing to Pat Leahy?", I worried that Mukasey was already, on the first day of his hearing, giving a number of answers and reassurances to Democrats that I found disturbing (the reassurances, I mean... though I must admit I actually do find some of the Democrats themselves "disturbing" as well):

  • He reassured Democrats that he believes that the president "doesn't have the authority to use torture techniques against terrorism suspects;"
  • That he would bar United States Attorneys and other lower-ranking Justice-Department officials from making or receiving calls to "political figures to talk about cases;" thus, local elected officials would not be allowed even to talk to the USA for their district to answer their constituent's questions about cases of local interest. (This also appears to imply that local Republicans were tainting or biasing cases somehow -- an allegation which the Democrats could never support, but to which Mukasey now lends credibility by his ham-fisted answer.)
  • That his primary role as attorney general will be to say "No" to the president; "that's what I'm there for," he assured Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY, 100%). [And here I thought the primary purpose of the AG was to execute the laws of the United States of America... not to stop the president from doing anything that offends Chuck Schumer];
  • That, in the Department of Justice, “Hiring is going to be based solely on competence and ability and dedication and not based on whether somebody’s got an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ next to their name.”

    Which sounds good, until one recalls that Janet Reno, Hillary Clinton (D-NY, 95%), James Carville, Sandy Berger, and Noam Chomsky all have "competence and ability and dedication;" but are they really good rôle models for top picks in the Mukasey Justice Department? I noted that Mukasey had left off the quality of "willingness... to follow the president's legal priorities and agendas, rather than ride off on their own quests."

Mukasey as a "political peace offering" to Democrats, as AP called him on October 17th, was worrisome enough; but his refusal to take a stand on some very important controversies over the next few days was worse. Repeatedly, for example, the Democrats drilled down on what, exactly, constituted forbidden "torture" -- in particular, did that prohibition apply to waterboarding, the most successful method of interrogating terrorists we have ever developed?

To which questions, Mukasey answered a resounding and calming "I don't know." He claimed not to know what waterboarding was, thus couldn't make a decision.

Well... the "peace offering to Democrats" appears to be in peril due to that very waffling, for today we have this:

The nomination of Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general encountered resistance today, with some Democratic senators suggesting for the first time that they might oppose Mr. Mukasey if he does not make clear that he opposes waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques that have been used against terror suspects.

The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, joined in the expressions of concern about Mr. Mukasey. The senator said in an interview today the nomination could hinge on Mr. Mukasey’s written response to a series of questions posed to him this week about the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism policies, including its use of interrogation techniques like waterboarding, which simulates drowning.

But what does the Times mean by saying "some Democratic senators?" As it turns out, what they're obliquely trying to say is that all Democrats on the J-Com -- a majority, of course, since the Democrats run the Senate -- plus Senate Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%) demand that he specifically ban waterboarding, or they won't vote for his confirmation:

On Tuesday, all 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Mr. Mukasey asking him to make a clear-cut statement of opposition to waterboarding and to describe it as illegal.

On Thursday, the Senator Majority Leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, was asked by a reporter if Mr. Mukasey should be confirmed in light of his failure to make a statement of opposition to waterboarding.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” Senator Reid said, adding that he had been “troubled” by Mr. Mukasey’s testimony last week. “I think if he doesn’t change his direction in that regard, he could have at least one concern. And that’s me.”

The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, said that his vote on the nomination might depend on Mr. Mukasey’s written response to questions about waterboarding. “It’s fair to say that my vote would depend on him answering the question,” he told reporters. [I suspect that Leahy would not be satisfied by Mukasey "answering the question" by rejecting a ban on waterboarding. But I'm probably doing the senator an injustice; I'm sure he is an honorable man; so are they all, all honorable men.]

Alex Swartsel, spokeswoman for Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, another Democrat on the committee, said Friday that Mr. Mukasey’s views on waterboarding were “the issue could cause the senator to vote against Mukasey.” She said Mr. Whitehouse “wants to see the judge’s answer before he makes that determination.”

So there you have it. The Democrats are making it blindingly clear: The cost for confirming Michael Mukasey is that he promise to make waterboarding illegal in all cases.

Will the president accept this ultimatum? Will he throw away the only means we have of extracting intelligence vital to our nation's security from the hardest terrorist prisoners... just to make a "political peace offering" to the Democrats? And if he refuses -- if Mukasey sticks to his ambivalent, waffling, Kerryesque, "on the one hand/on the other hand" guns -- will the Democrats on the J-Com, joined by Arlen Specter, shoot down Mukasey's nomination, setting us right back to square one again?

Is this what the collapse of GOP support for Gonzales has bought us?

We closed our piece last time with a plea for conservatives to explain to us, in comments here or blogposts or articles elsewhere, why it was, in the end, a good thing that we forced Gonzales from office. So far as I know, none has taken up the angry man's burden; having accomplished the purpose of getting rid of the hated Gonzales -- who stood in the way of mass deportations of all illegals, either directly or by "attrition" (which means starving them out) -- conservatives seemed to do naught but congratulate themselves on a job well done... and then just, like the moving finger, move on.

I'll close this one the same way: Will some conservative who called for the ouster of Alberto Gonzales please step up to the plate and make a reasoned argument why we're better off now -- even if Mukasey agrees to make waterboarding illegal in all circumstances and for any reason -- than we were with the admittedly flawed Gonzales?

I'm tired of hearing crickets. Time's a flying.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 26, 2007, at the time of 5:34 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

October 17, 2007

Is AG Designate Mukasey Already Kowtowing to Pat Leahy?

Laughable Lawyers , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Ever since the drumbeat to "fire Gonzales" shifted from Democrats and RINOs (about whose opinion on the subject, who cares?) to conservative Republicans upset that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales opposed the mass deportation of illegal aliens, I have warned that if Gonzales went, it would be virtually impossible to find someone that most Republicans would consider "better."

It would be trivially easy to find someone we would consider worse... and I'm starting to worry that that's exactly what President Bush, abandoned on the issue by Republicans as well as Democrats, has done: replaced King Log with King Stork:

Attorney General-designate Michael Mukasey said Wednesday the president doesn't have the authority to use torture techniques against terrorism suspects, a stance not taken by predecessor Alberto Gonzales and considered key to the nominee's confirmation.... [But how is "torture" defined -- the Bush/Gonzales way, or the Leahy/Schumer way?]

Within minutes of convening the hearings, Leahy elicited specific assurances from the nominee that had been sought by liberal interest groups and senators who had endured months of Gonzales' faulty memory during congressional hearings and highly parsed statements.

Under questioning by Leahy, Mukasey promised to bar all but the top Justice employees from taking calls or making calls "to political figures to talk about cases," a problem under Gonzales. [A "problem" to Democrats and RINOs like Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA, 43%); I don't recall conservatives complaining.]

"Partisan politics plays no part in either the bringing of charges or the timing of charges," Mukasey said....

Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat from Mukasey's home state of New York, said he already had heard the answer he wanted in a private meeting with Mukasey a day earlier. Schumer said he asked the nominee, "Will you have the courage to look squarely into the eyes of the president of the United States and tell him 'no,' if that is your best legal and ethical judgment?"

Mukasey, Schumer said, replied: "Absolutely. That is what I am there for." [The Attorney General is "there" to tell the president he can't implement policy that Democrats don't like -- not to prosecute the laws of the United States?]

The White House has seldom, if ever, placated prickly Democrats into the kind of support they are exhibiting for Mukasey. But in the troubled twilight of Bush's second term, Mukasey's nomination is a political peace offering. [Was that what conservatives were hoping for when they demanded Gonzales' ouster... that his replacement would be a "peace offering" to Democrats?]

Did Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat "Leaky" Leahy (D-VT, 95%) also elicit a definition of prohibited torture from Mukasey that includes waterboarding, stress positions, a raised voice, the attention grab, or that crime against humanity, the belly slap?

Did they gain a promise from Mukasey to resign only if his personal ethical standards were offended by the president -- or also if Leahy's ethical standards were offended?

And does another promise Mukasey made to the Democrats mean that local congressmen and senators cannot even call U.S. attorneys to inquire whether there is an investigation about some local issue, and whether it's progressing or stymied? That hardly seems like undue interference by politicians in legal issues. And while we're on it, did Mukasey also pledge not to dismiss any USAs -- unless Democrats on the Senate J-Com approve the firings in advance?

We don't know the answers to any of these vital questions. But the New York Times adds one more "interesting" policy that Mukasey definitely pledged to Democrats and RINOs on the J-Com that he would implement:

Moreover, the nominee said, “Hiring is going to be based solely on competence and ability and dedication and not based on whether somebody’s got an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ next to their name.”

I notice he excluded basing hiring on the willingness of candidates to follow the president's legal priorities and agendas, rather than ride off on their own quests. Does this mean Mukasey has pledged to hire as a US Attorney or Assistant Attorney General the next competent, legally astute, and dedicated Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Stephen Breyer who comes along?

But besides mere competence, ability, and dedication, ideology and the willingness to be the president's voice, not a wild card with a wild hair, must play a role in selecting top officials at the Justice Department, as well as United States Attorneys.

What if a candidate has all the proper attributes on paper, but he makes it clear that he thinks the most urgent issue to pursue, to the exclusion of virtually everything else, is the unsupported accusation of massive suppression of minority voting by the wicked Republicans -- rather than well-founded allegations of voter fraud by Democrats? What if he announces, in the interview, that he plans to launch an immediate investigation of the "vital unanswered question" of what the president knew about 9/11, and how long before the attack did he know it? Or if a nominee for USA of some border-state declares that the most important task of his office will be to assist state and local law enforcement authorities track down and prosecute policemen who cooperate with federal immigration agents, in defiance of local "non-compliance" and "sanctuary" laws?

On its face, this pledge would seem to directly contradict the very idea of the unitary executive -- supported by conservatives and originalists, but hated and despised by the Left (at least when a Republican is in the White House): the theory that the elements of the Executive branch of government are extensions of the president... not completely independent agents whose real job is to confront and thwart the president at every turn.

For example, the Secretary of State does not set her own foreign policy; she implements the foreign policy of the president. But does the incoming Attorney General believe he and his hirees set legal policy, and to hell with the president?

Maybe I'm just paranoid; but when both the Times and AP simultaneously write entire stories gushing over how many concessions the Attorney-General designate has already made to Democratic senators on the opening day of his confirmation hearing, I don't feel easy or comfortable that we've made a good swap.

On the other hand, maybe Mukasey is just saying whatever it takes to get confirmed, and he doesn't really mean it... in which case, he's a liar. As Sancho Panza says in Man of La Mancha, "Whether the stone hits the pitcher or the pitcher hits the stone, it's going to be bad for the pitcher."

So I would appreciate it if conservatives could please tell me why it was such a wonderful, productive idea to force Alberto Gonzales out -- if his replacement sees his primary role as saying "No" to the president whenever Pat Leahy frowns.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 17, 2007, at the time of 2:50 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 12, 2007

The Shia Awaken

Elections , Iran Matters , Iraq Matters , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

We've talked about this in previous posts -- for example, in The "Don't Make Waves!" Theory of Iraqi Politics -- but it occurred to me as soon as I began hearing about the "Anbar awakening" that the same dynamic would apply to the Shiite areas of Iraq: In short order, the Shiite militias were sure to go overboard in their thuggish, homicidal zeal, and begin brutalizing the Shia... just as al-Qaeda in Iraq did against the Sunni. At that moment, time would be ripe for a "Shia awakening," where Iraqi shia would turn on the militias that presume to speak for them.

Surprise, it's starting to happen... and even the New York Times has sat up and taken note:

In a number of Shiite neighborhoods across Baghdad, residents are beginning to turn away from the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia they once saw as their only protector against Sunni militants. Now they resent it as a band of street thugs without ideology.

The hardening Shiite feeling in Baghdad opens an opportunity for the American military, which has long struggled against the Mahdi Army, as American commanders rely increasingly on tribes and local leaders in their prosecution of the war.

The Times does a remarkable job (for the elite media) of fairly and in unbiased fashion describing the mechanism of Shiite discontent (apologies for the long quotation):

In interviews, 10 Shiites from four neighborhoods in eastern and western Baghdad described a pattern in which militia members, looking for new sources of income, turned on Shiites....

The street militia of today bears little resemblance to the Mahdi Army of 2004, when Shiites following a cleric, Moktada al-Sadr, battled American soldiers in a burst of Shiite self-assertion. Then, fighters doubled as neighborhood helpers, bringing cooking gas and other necessities to needy families.

Now, three years later, many members have left violence behind, taking jobs in local and national government, while others have plunged into crime, dealing in cars and houses taken from dead or displaced victims of both sects.

Even the demographics have changed. Now, street fighters tend to be young teenagers from errant families, in part the result of American military success. Last fall, the military began an aggressive campaign of arresting senior commanders, leaving behind a power vacuum and directionless junior members.

“Now it’s young guys — no religion, no red lines,” said Abbas, 40, a Shiite car parts dealer in Ameen, a southern Baghdad neighborhood. Abbas’s 22-year-old cousin, Ratib, was shot in the mouth this spring after insulting Mahdi militia members.

“People hate them,” Abbas said. “They want them to disappear from their lives.”

A mouthpiece for Iranian puppet Muqtada Sadr carefully explained that all of the Mahdi Militia members committing criminal violence against Iraqis are actually -- by that very act -- not members of the Mahdi Militia... a useful and fluid redefinition that allows the militia to slough off all accountability for the violence that continues, albeit at a much slower rate.

And as Sachi has argued many times in this blog, when Sadr does return from Iran (like the Turkish ambassador to the United States, Muqtada Sadr was withdrawn to his host country Iran for "further consultations"), he will not only find that the remnants of the Mahdi Militia don't want him or any of his "loyal lieutenants" back, but that there's no more militia to return to anyway.

I may as well go public with a bold prediction I have privately made to several friends: Big Lizards predicts that the Iraq insurgency is going to collapse much faster than anyone has publicly dared suggest. First AQI dangles at the end of its rope (there's a nice visual); now the Shia turn on the Mahdi and Badr militias. So who's minding the insurgency?

The collapse of the insurgency would have happened much earlier, in my opinion, were it not for the intervention of foreign forces. No, I don't mean the United States and the Coalition... I mean Iran's aggressive warmongering and the foreign hirabis from central al-Qaeda. Both Iran and al-Qaeda -- the latter may be funded by the former -- saw a national or ideological interest in fomenting a civil war in Iraq.

However, because of the essentially tribal -- not sectarian -- nature of Iraq, coupled with a cohesive Iraqi identity binding the tribes together, both Iran and al-Qaeda were unsuccessful; there never was a real civil war in Iraq... not even in 2006, after AQI blew up the golden-domed al-Askiri Mosque in Samarra on February 22nd. Both sects carried out a long wave of gangland massacres; but neither fielded armies or set up shadow governments.

As it becomes clear that there never will be a civil war, and that the Iraqis have turned against the joint insurgencies (Sunni against al-Qaeda and Shia against Iran), rather than being driven by fear into the arms of their Islamist "saviors," I strongly believe the principals will pull back. In the long run, neither has the resources to remain engaged in a losing war.

This will happen months before the November elections; and the victory in Iraq will play a major role. Simply put, the Democrats have some small nits against the GOP, but they're old chestnuts such as abortion and tax cuts; the only major new argument was over Iraq. In the 2006 elections, the Iraq war appeared to be a loser -- and so too were the Republicans. But they didn't lose as much as the Democrats had predicted; many voters took a "wait and see" attitude.

And good thing they did. If the war goes as I predict, and the very significant drop in violence we've seen continues, accompanied by a significant drop in the level of U.S. forces in Iraq (possibly to as low as 75,000) and a concommitent drop in American casualties, Iraq will increasingly and correctly be seen as a historic American victory.

Bear in mind, this is no guarantee that the voters will reward the Republicans: A Democratic President, Woodrow Wilson, and a Democratic Congress entered into World War I in 1917, won it handily in 1918... and in that same year, the GOP captured both houses of Congress. Two years later, Republicans solidified their congressional gains and added the presidency, all in a landslide. Even so, it's surely better for the sane party if Iraq is considered a victory, not a defeat.

Let's invite the Times to pen the Mahdi Militia's epitaph:

Ali, the Ur businessman, said he expected the Mahdi Army to be much smaller in the future. People simply do not believe its leaders anymore. “There is no ideology among them anymore,” he said.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 12, 2007, at the time of 11:11 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

September 25, 2007

Military Tribunals Finally Listening to Big Lizards' Advice

Injudicious Judiciary , Terrorism Intelligence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

Last June, a pair of judges on U.S. military tribunals issued a ruling that may be the most boneheaded technicality in American judicial history. (They were not ruling on the same case, but they used the exact same excuse in two different cases to dismiss all charges against enemy combatants, holding that the military tribunals themselves had no jurisdiction.) We wrote about it at the time:

In what AP calls "a stunning reversal for the Bush administration's attempts to try Guantanamo detainees in military court" -- but which rational observers would call "a shockingly thin example of dismissal by technicality" -- a military judge has dismissed murder charges against a detainee at Guantánamo Bay... because the military's combat status review tribunal only classified him as an "enemy combatant," rather than as an "unlawful enemy combatant"...

The law says that only those persons who are qualified to be designated as unlawful enemy combatants can be tried; the clear intent and substance of the law is not affected by whether the earlier tribunal used the same words as the later-enacted law, but by whether they used the same standards... and Judge [Army Col. Peter] Brownback should jolly well understand that.

All he needed to do was check that the criteria used by the earlier tribunals to declare someone an "enemy combatant" are the same as those that used today to declare someone an "unlawful enemy combatant." Maybe this is the non-lawyer in me; but it was utterly clear to everyone, including the detainees, that the entire purpose of the status-review tribunal was to determine whether they were bad enough to warrant trial by a military tribunal.

The detainees knew exactly what that meant: They knew that if they were found to be "enemy combatants," they would be tried by a military court. Now the defense argues -- and the judge, Army Col. Peter Brownback, seems to have independently argued himself into believing -- that the trivial difference in words violates the rights of the detainees, because they didn't know they were in jeopardy of trial if found to be enemy combatants... which was the very term used at the time to designate those detainees eligible for trial!

The two judges -- Brownback and Navy Capt. Keith Allred -- ruled not only that they could not preside over the cases against the two enemy combatants (one of which was the infamous Salim Ahmed Hamdan of the even more infamous Hamdan Supreme-Court decision), they could not even hear evidence about whether the two were, in fact, "unlawful enemy combatants," as opposed to mere "enemy combatants." They decided they (or any other tribunal judge) lacked any jurisdiction whatsoever, and all the cases against all the detainees should be dismissed.

It was like a Barry Sheck dream come true.

Fortunately, a three-judge panel of the Military Tribunal Appellate Court reads Big Lizards. At least, I can only conclude that, as they used virtually the same argument today in overturning the decision of Judge Brownback as we argued in the previous post last June. (They did not specifically consider Allred's decision; but since it was identical with that of Judge Brownback, one presumes the same ruling will reverse that of Allred as well; I wonder if he will mulishly force the court to do so explicitly?) According to the New York Times:

The three appeals judges said yesterday that Judge Brownback had “abused his discretion in deciding this critical jurisdictional matter without first fully considering” the government’s evidence. The appeals court sent the case back to Judge Brownback for further consideration....

The military appeals court said in its ruling yesterday that Judge Brownback was wrong in concluding that he did not have the authority to decide whether a detainee was an “unlawful” enemy combatant, which would give his court the power to hear a war-crimes case.

The court said the trial judge could hear the government’s evidence that a detainee was an unlawful combatant. An unlawful combatant, for example, could be a fighter who does not wear a uniform and conceals his weapons.

It's hard to fathom just how stupid were the original decisions. I took a stab at in the June post; but reading it over, I don't think I succeeded. Let's see if I can do better in my second time at bat:

  1. Congress originally passed a law setting up a system of military tribunals. The basic procedure was that the president first had to evaluate every detainee's case and determine whether each was or was not an "enemy combatant." Those determined to be enemy combatants would then be tried by the tribunals, while the rest would have to be released.
  2. They went through the process; the Pentagon held hearings and determined that 80 of the 300+ detainees qualified as enemy combatants. They put them on trial. (The classification hearings determined that a number of detainees used to be enemy combatants but were no longer; in several well-known cases, it became clear the Pentagon was punked.)
  3. But before the trials, Hamdan went to the Supreme Court and successfully argued that the procedures at the trial itself were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court did not hold that there was anything wrong with the process that classified Hamdan and the other 79 as "enemy combatants," nor that there was anything wrong with the label itself.
  4. But when Congress enacted a new law, responding to the Hamdan decision, they used a slightly different label: They said that only "unlawful enemy combatants" could be tried. However, they used the exact, same criteria to determine status as an unlawful enemy combatant as had been used under the previous law to determine status as an enemy combatant. The two terms were de-facto identical, and even de-jure -- if one dug so deep as to consider the definition, not merely the label.
  5. Yet when the first two cases came to trial, Allred and Brownback both ruled that they lacked jurisdiction to hear the trials, because Hamdan and Omar Ahmed Khadr had only been designated "enemy combatants," per the first law, not "unlawful enemy combatants," per the second.
  6. This might have been all right... except that they also ruled that they lacked jurisdiction even to hear any evidence that the two defendants were, in fact, unlawful enemy combatants under the new designation; or that, in fact, the two terms had identical definitions.

This is the ultimate in technicalities, exactly the sort of thing that confusticates ordinary people about the American judicial system: Horrific murderers and terrorists should be turned loose -- because the administration used a slightly different label for them (based on earlier legislation) than was picked by a later Congress in writing subsequent legislation, even though the two labels were defined by identical language in each act.

That last point (6) is the dumbass ruling that was struck down today; the appellate court held that the two previous judges did indeed have jurisdiction to hear evidence that the "enemy combatants" (old label) were also "unlawful enemy combatants" (new label):

In the ruling Monday, the military appeals judges, the United States Court of Military Commission Review, agreed that the law written by Congress did say that finding by a military panel that a detainee was an “unlawful” enemy combatant was a prerequisite for prosecution. But the judges said Congress intended the Guantánamo courts to apply usual procedures of military courts.

“This would include the common procedures used before general courts-martial permitting military judges to hear evidence and decide factual and legal matters concerning the court’s own jurisdiction over the accused appearing before it,” the appeals judges wrote. [One can almost "hear" the annoyance and exasperation in the appellate judges' decision.]

Again, since there is no difference between the criteria for each label, it should be easy to prove... unless Brownback and Allred decide to dig in their heels and declare that Congress was wrong to define unlawful enemy combatant as it did; the judges could tack on one impossible criterion after another until they can achieve their goal: making it impossible to prosecute anyone for anything before a military tribunal.

Dennis Edney, Mr. Khadr’s Canadian lawyer, said the defense was considering whether to appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. If there is an appeal, it could delay the resumption of Guantánamo cases yet again.

Mr. Edney said he was disappointed by the military panel’s ruling but not surprised. “Omar Khadr still faces a process that is tainted, and designed to make a finding of guilt,” he said.

Well, yeah; and Mr. Edney is doing everything in his powe to prevent the court ruling, thus put-off any finding of guilt. I believe he has fallen for the great temptation of defense attorneys, where getting the client off becomes the overriding goal, rather than ensure he has a fair trial. (This is the snare into which Lynne Stewart fell, finally winding up convicted of passing messages from Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman to his terrorist cell.)

The real underlying problem here should be obvious: There is an amazing amount of resistance among the military's Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps to the very idea of trying terrorist detainees in military tribunals, notwithstanding both statutory law and military tradition. Most lawyers are liberals, and this evidently applies even when the lawyer works for the military.

I believe most of them desperately want all detainees to be charged and tried in civilian courts, with the full panoply of criminal-defendant rights to counsel of their choice, open and public trial, the ability to subpoena all evidence (including heavily classified evidence) they claim will help their defense, and the power to subpoena all individuals involved in their capture -- from the soldiers trying to fight a war in the field to the Secretary of Defense and even the Commander in Chief who ordered the war fought in the first place -- and haul them all into court to testify for as many weeks as the judge orders.

We see this same tendency in politicians who are too closely allied with the JAG Corps: I believe that is what drives Sens. John McCain (R-AZ, 65%) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 83%), for example. Among this crowd, no military tribunal process will ever be fair or sufficient: They reject the very idea of treating terrorists any differently than we treat carjackers and pickpockets. Despite the decidedly uncertain record of attempting to try terrorists in civilian courts, "Jaggers" believe that we'll forfeit the "moral high ground" if we don't sacrifice national security on the altar of judicial purity.

There is a controversial Latin saying: fiat justicia ruat coelum; "let justice be done, though heaven should fall." I happen to believe this, but it critically depends on how one defines "justice." But what these Jaggers have in mind is something far more radical -- and utterly indefensible: "Let procedure be followed, though America should fall."

Even as a libertarian-conservative-ish political non-Euclidean, I consider this a foolish and unnecessary self-immolation; I agree rather with the last sentence of the dissent of Justice Robert H. Jackson in the case Terminiello v. Chicago:

There is danger that, if the Court does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.

This certainly applies in the Case of the Footdragging Military Judges. Let us move past the surreal technicalities, get on with the cases, and finally see the backs of these infamous detainees.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 25, 2007, at the time of 3:03 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

September 6, 2007

Let's Play "Guess the President!"

Injudicious Judiciary , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

A federal judge has just thrown out one part of the revised Patriot Act as unconstitutional:

A federal judge struck down parts of the revised USA Patriot Act on Thursday, saying investigators must have a court's approval before they can order Internet providers to turn over records without telling customers.

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero said the government orders must be subject to meaningful judicial review and that the recently rewritten Patriot Act ''offends the fundamental constitutional principles of checks and balances and separation of powers.''

The suit was brought by the ACLU, and the judge's ruling would rip to shreds one of the most critical elements of our intelligence war against al-Qaeda -- in order to protect the putative "right" of terrorist suspects to privately plot attacks over the internet.

Now, here's the game: Without looking him up, can anyone guess which American president nominated Judge Marrero to the bench in 1999?

(Hint: There is a clue cleverly concealed in the sentence directly above.)

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 6, 2007, at the time of 2:37 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 25, 2007

How Dare the Dictator Spy on Radical Mosques!

Constitutional Maunderings , Media Madness , Terrorism Intelligence , War Against Radical Islamism
Hatched by Dafydd

This could get interesting (and potentially ugly): An imam and a pizzeria owner were convicted of supporting terrorism... and they're now appealing, claiming the National Security Agency's Terrorist Surveillance Program violated their constitutional rights.

First, just the facts, ma'am:

After a bloody raid by American military forces on an enemy camp in Rawah, Iraq, on June 11, 2003, a Defense Department report took inventory. Eighty suspected terrorists killed. An enormous weapons cache recovered. And, in what the report called “pocket litter,” a notebook with the name and phone number of the imam of a mosque halfway around the world, here in the state capital.

Prompted by that notebook and records of 14 phone calls between the imam, Yassin M. Aref, and Damascus, Syria, the Federal Bureau of Investigation quickly began a sting operation aimed at Mr. Aref. Federal agents used an informant with a long history of fraud who spun tales to Mr. Aref about a fictitious plot involving shoulder-launched missiles and the assassination of Pakistani diplomat in New York.

Mr. Aref and a friend who owned a pizzeria were convicted of supporting terrorism by agreeing to help launder money for the fake operation, and in March the two men were sentenced to 15 years in prison.

What makes the case unusual is that Aref may have been under surveillance by the National Security Agency, possibly under the TSP. There are two external indicators of this:

  • An exchange during the trial over an FBI agent who was on the stand. One of Aref's defense attorneys (who is paying for the high-powered legal defense?) asked Special Agent Timothy Coll whether Aref had been under "24-hour surveillance." The lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney William C. Pericak, objected, saying "I’m concerned that a truthful answer should implicate classified information."

    The defense lawyer rephrased the question to ask only whether Aref had been under 24-hour physical surveillance, and Coll quickly answered No. I'm not sure how Coll interpreted the phrase "physical surveillance," or even whether that is a term of art; but the implication is certainly that Aref was under 24-hour non-physical surveillance, which may mean a phone tap, which in turn may mean the TSP.

  • At one point during the trial, the defense lawyers asked the judge to require the federal government to produce information about the TSP. The government (the Times is unclear what branch or division, or whether it came through Pericak) responded with a brief that was itself classified. The defense attorneys were not allowed to see the prosecutor's filing, even though they had "security clearances" (again, no indication how high); and Judge Thomas J. McAvoy subsequently denied the defense motion -- with his entire decision classified and unavailable to the defense attorneys.

Neither of these is as definitive as the Times appears to believe. It's possible, for example, that Aref did have his phone calls intercepted... but it may have been by the FBI after receiving a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). In such a case, the warrant would be classified, and the FBI agent hesitant to answer a question about the surveillance without it first being formally declassified.

And it's entirely possible that the government's response to the request for TSP information could have been that Aref was under surveillance pursuant to a FISA warrant, not the TSP; but that the information requested was nevertheless highly classified and could not be revealed or even discussed. This is an alternative reason why the judge's order itself could be classified, as well.

Note that the Times article nowhere says or even suggests that evidence from telephone intercepts (by the NSA or anyone else) was actually presented at trial, heard or seen by the jury, or even that the prosecutor attempted to introduce such evidence and was rebuffed. The main pieces of evidence against the defendants were the recordings of their conversations with the "informant with a long history of fraud" during the sting. (Was the writer's insertion of "long history of fraud" intended to lure readers into believing that the case, despite the guilty verdicts, was fraudulent?)

There is one other indicator, though it's rather vague. According to the Times' unsupported word, unnamed "officials" told them there was a connection:

The wiretapping program was disclosed by The New York Times in December 2005. The next month, The Times reported that officials had cited the arrests of Mr. Aref and the pizzeria owner, Mohammed M. Hossain, as one of the relatively rare instances in which domestic surveillance by the N.S.A. had played a role in a criminal case.

The Times explicitly identifies the TSP program in the first sentence of the paragraph quoted above (the program "disclosed by The New York Times"). But in the next sentence, they slip on their cloak of vagueness, invoking only "domestic surveillance by the N.S.A." Since we know the NSA was running multiple intelligence-gathering programs at the time, there is no way to be sure which one "officials" were citing -- if indeed the conversation ever occurred at all, and assuming it wasn't one of those non-confirmation confirmations, à la the "re-reporting" of the Beauchamp story by the New Republic.

It's possible that Aref was surveilled under the TSP; after finding the notebook in the Rawah raid that put the feds onto Aref, the NSA might have begun intercepting his international telephone calls, to see who he was contacting. Even so, I'm still not sure how this would become a critical factor in the trial:

  • We already know how the feds got Aref's name, and it had nothing to do with the TSP;
  • Armed with that name, it would have been simple for the FBI to get a warrant from the FISC;
  • Aref was neither convicted nor even charged with committing a terrorist act abroad, or acting in concert with any known foreign terrorist, in which an NSA telephone intercept under the TSP would play a role;
  • The Times doesn't say what Aref and pizzeria owner Mohammed M. Hossain were actually convicted of, but I presume it was conspiracy to support an act of terrorism, with the third "conspirator" actually being an FBI informant, Shahed Hussain, who was wired for sound. Again, nothing to do with the TSP.

Nevertheless, the defendants' attorneys have seized upon the TSP as a last-ditch effort to avoid a stretch in the pokey for their clients... and the New York Times sees the challenge as an opportunity to get a federal circus court to rule the entire surveillance program unconstitutional:

But their case seems far from over, and it has become a centerpiece in the effort to challenge one of the Bush administration’s signature espionage programs.

Lawyers for Mr. Aref say they have proof that he was subjected to illegal surveillance by the National Security Agency, pointing to a classified order from the trial judge, unusual testimony from an F.B.I. agent and court documents concerning the calls to Syria.

If they are right, the case may represent the best chance for an appellate ruling about the legality of the N.S.A. program, which monitored the international communications of people in the United States without court approval. Unlike earlier and pending appeals disputing the program, all of them in civil cases, Mr. Aref’s challenge can draw on the constitutional protections available to criminal defendants.

The Times -- and presumably the entire panoply of leftist law professors, activists, and their elite-media lapdogs who have ached for a chance to take Bush down over this -- seems most enraged by the fact that civil-court attempts to ban the TSP and other intelligence-gathering operations have run into the brick wall of "standing," thwarting the valiant efforts of the heroic anointed: Unenlightened courts keep holding that the plaintiffs cannot show that they, personally, were subjected in any way to the TSP, and therefore have no standing to sue.

To the Times, via a surrogate interviewee, this constitutes an unfair legal technicality:

In the civil cases, appeals courts have confronted significant threshold questions, including whether the plaintiffs have standing to sue.

“There are dodges available in civil cases that just aren’t available in criminal cases,” said Corey Stoughton, a lawyer with the New York Civil Liberties Union, which has filed supporting briefs in the case. “This case might be able to put this issue to the test.”

I can't shake the feeling that to the Times, the Aref-Hossain case is the Left's best chance to finish the world-saving job that the Times began when it disclosed the program; that is, I believe that the Times saw its role as shining the light of day on a horrific violation of the constitution... a revelation that would allow activists and law professors to finally shut down all these thuggish, unnecessary, police-state infringements of our sacred constitutional right to support anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Jew, and especially anti-Bush terrorists.

The fate of Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain themselves is an inconsequential side issue.

It appears to me that these defendants are being treated much the way the Left treated "Jane Roe," who never did get her abortion... for which the real-life Norma Leah McCorvey, now an anti-abortion activist, is very thankful. Once McCorvey served her purpose, the attorneys in that case dropped her like a squalling newborn.

I cannot help but believe that the elite media could not care less whether Aref and Hossain end up serving their 15 years, just as they never cared whether McCorvey got her abortion, what happened to her, and what she later came to believe; all of that is irrelevant -- what matters is the ideological struggle, and the real defendants are the American people, who are clamoring for terrorist suspects to be given full rights to treat the American justice system the way Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and O.J. Simpson have.

Having already Simpsonized the civil and civilian criminal courts (for those with money, or connections to activist organizations that have money), now the elites want to Simpsonize national security and terrorist surveillance and interdiction.

The Times would stamp out every post-9/11 surveillance and intelligence program impleme