Saturday, May 31, 2008

Opposition To A SOFA Agreement Growing In Iraq Or Being Pushed By Iran?

Iraq's government is in the midst of negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which would provide the legal framework for any U.S. forces that operate inside Iraq after the end of the UN mandate in January. The elements that stand most opposed to such an agreement are Iran and its proxies.

The SOFA agreement currently under negotiation with Iraq is, in most respects, mundane. We have them with every country in which the U.S. has maintained forces. They are more coordinating documents than anything else, and, other than the unique SOFA agreement with NATO, they do not specify that any particular troop level will or must be maintained. Though important, SOFA agreements are themselves innocuous.

The NYT writes to claim that opposition to a SOFA agreement is "growing" inside Iraq, but the NYT does a very poor job of explaining the genesis of the opposition to such an agreement. Indeed, their assertion at one point that it is because the presence of U.S. troops is "demeaning and humiliating" is pure Sadrist / Iranian propaganda. And it is with Iran that the opposition to the SOFA agreement begins. Iran sees an American presence in Iraq as both dangerous and an impediment to its goal to dominate Iraq through militias beholden to Iran. As I wrote here, the mad mullah's worst nightmare in the long run would be an Iraq that would both respect the millenium old Shia tradition of quietism and offer the example to Iran's terrorized populace of a people living in a real democracy and with real freedoms.

Twice now, the senior levels of Iran's government have expressed opposition to any SOFA agreement or any U.S. forces remaining in Iraq. The latest came just yesterday from the new Speaker of the Majis, Ali Larinjani, as reported in FARS:

Iran's newly elected Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani urged Iraqis to resist a pact under discussion to extend the US troop presence there beyond 2008.

"The Iraqi nation should courageously resist the US security pact just as they have so far resisted the occupiers," Larijani said in a speech in the religious city of Qom on Thursday.

"The occupiers' withdrawal is the only way to implementing security in Iraq," he said, describing the military agreement as a "challenge threatening the Iraqi people and government."

Washington and Baghdad are negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement aimed at giving a legal basis to American troops in Iraq after December 31, when a UN mandate defining the current status of foreign forces expires.

. . . Iran strongly opposes the US military presence in its neighbor to the west, and has repeatedly stressed the need for a pullout of the US troops from its war-ravaged Muslim neighbor.

Tehran has always backed the Baghdad government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Read the entire article. If that last line doesn't make you laugh, you haven't been paying attention. Read the speech on the scale of Iranian involvement and Iraqi attitudes towards it by Col. H.R. McMaster here.

The NYT also ignores history that would be well remembered by all of our leadership. In the leadup to the 1979 revolution in Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini regularly and grossly mischaracterized a SOFA agreement with the Shah to build anti-American sentiment and popular hatred of the Iranian regime. What appears to be coallescing is a page right out of Khomeini's playbook - only aimed this time at Iraq. And the NYT seems somewhat inclined to assist.

This today from the NYT:

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is facing growing opposition to a proposed security agreement that would set out how long American forces and military bases stayed in Iraq.

Some senior Iraqi political leaders said they had serious concerns over the central issues under negotiation, including what sort of military operations and arrests of Iraqis the American troops could carry out without Iraq’s permission, legal immunities sought for American troops and security contractors and what the Iraqi officials characterized as demands for a long-term American military presence.

. . . A United States official familiar with the talks described as “completely false” the assertion that negotiators had sought any provisions for long-term American military garrisons in Iraq.

Nor have Iraqi negotiators signaled any desire to delay, the official said. “What we are hearing is that they want to move full steam ahead.”

The raw feelings that the negotiations engender among many Iraqis — who view the prospects of a long-term American troop presence as demeaning and humiliating — underscore the political risks the negotiations hold for Mr. Maliki’s government.

Tens of thousands of Shiites in Baghdad and southern Iraq who are loyal to the cleric Moktada al-Sadr denounced the negotiations in rallies after noon prayers on Friday, criticizing any pact that would allow American troops to establish a long-term presence in Iraq. “No America! No Israel!” demonstrators shouted in Sadr City, the Baghdad district that is Mr. Sadr’s base of power.

“This isn’t an Iraqi government, it’s an American government,” said Muhammad Mohsin, a 25-year-old laborer who attended prayers in Sadr City, where clerics delivered sermons condemning the negotiations and demonstrators later burned American flags. “The Americans keep pressuring Maliki to carry out what they want. The agreement will only serve the Americans’ interests.”

. . . But there are many Iraqi politicians who support the negotiations, including Sunni leaders who view an American military presence as a bulwark against what they fear could be an attempt by Shiite leaders backed by Iran to renew a sectarian grab for Baghdad and the mixed areas around the capital.

“We think that this agreement will guarantee the rights of Iraq and the United States,” said Adnan al-Dulaimi, a leader of Tawafiq, the largest Sunni political bloc. “If the American forces withdraw from Iraq before the right time, a state of chaos and civil war will ensue.”

. . . A second American official in Baghdad said that the Iraqis appeared to be unwilling to make any concessions before the provincial elections scheduled for later this year that would seem to voters to be too accommodating to the occupying forces. “They are playing hardball right now,” the official said.

American and Iraqi negotiators are far apart on a number of issues, said Mr. Adeeb and another senior lawmaker close to Mr. Maliki, Haider al-Abadi, in interviews on Friday.

The Americans want to continue to have “a free hand” to arrest Iraqis and carry out military operations, and they want authority for more than 50 long-term military bases, Mr. Adeeb said. He said that he doubted that a security pact along the lines sought by the Americans would pass in the Iraqi Parliament.

Mr. Abadi, another senior member of Dawa, said Americans were insisting on keeping control of Iraqi airspace and retaining legal immunity for American troops, contractors and private security guards.

The United States official familiar with the negotiations accused Iran of orchestrating a disinformation campaign to undermine the negotiations, saying, “This is Iran’s playbook.”

The official, who like others interviewed for this article requested anonymity because of the fluid nature of the negotiations, said the debate over what kinds of operations American troops could carry out without Iraqi permission “will be subject to constant revisions and review.” Troops right now are cooperating extensively with Iraqi security forces, and the “new mandate should reflect that fact,” the official said. . . .

Read the entire article.


The Malignant Effects Of Socialism In The UK

I am a rabid anglophile by any measure. I believe that Britain has, over the last millenium, had the single greatest positive impact on the world of any nation. That said, as I wrote here, Britain today sits amidst a perfect storm brought about by its near century embrace of socialism and its membership in the EU. A read through the British papers today shows some of the truly malignant effects of socialism – one on crime and policing, the other on the war against Christianity.

Socialists are by definition anti-democratic statists. A core tenet of the socialist philosophy is to centralize control instead of allowing locals to make their own decisions on local issues. One of the areas where the deleterious effects of centralization can be easily seen is in policing.

Local police chiefs in the UK are appointed and controlled from the central government. The locals do not control their police through the ballot box. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest complaints I hear from my British friends is that the police in the UK are nowhere near as responsive to the locals they serve as they should be.

Since all is centralized, what has inevitably evolved is policing based on targets and quotas set by a government that wants to show good statistics to the people in advance of elections. Indeed, if you read the Labour crime statistics, they are inevitably impressive. But get below the statistics, and what you find is a country that has spiraled so far down in terms of law and order that a person living in Britain today is less safe from violent and serious crime than if they were living in the Balkans. Indeed, the government’s quota system is not only an incompetent and incredibly cynical game of smoke and mirrors, it is having an adverse effect on Britain’s middle class, as discussed in a report just released:

The middle classes have lost confidence in the police, a stark report has warned. They fear they have been alienated by a service which routinely targets ordinary people rather than serious criminals, simply to fill Government crime quotas.

The attitude of some officers has also led to spiralling complaints about neglect of duty and rudeness. The report from the Civitas think-tank says incidents which would once have been ignored are now treated as crimes - including a case of children chalking a pavement.

. . . The report warns that a generation of young people - the police's favourite soft targets - are being criminalised, putting their future prospects at risk.

. . . The report details how officers are expected to reach a certain number of 'sanction detections' a month by charging, cautioning or fining an 'offender'. Arresting or fining someone for a trifling offence - such as a child stealing a Mars bar - is a good way of hitting the target and pleasing the Home Office. Amazingly, the chocolate theft ranks as highly as catching a killer.

Miss Sergeant says performance-related bonuses of between £10,000 and £15,000 a year for police commanders depend partly on reaching such targets. This leads them to put pressure on frontline officers to make arrests for the most minor misdemeanours. . . .

Read the article.

Meanwhile, the socialist Labour Government continues its war on Christianity - and as the Bishop of Rochester pointed out the other day, it is a war the government is winning at perhaps existential cost to British society. Indeed, it is a war that has been going on since the inception of socialism. "It is a profound truth," declared the British Socialist Party in a 1911 manifesto, "that Socialism is the natural enemy of religion." And today, we have the story of a man who regularly rented out a castle for weddings. The state is now closing his business because he refused to make the castle available for a gay couple to be wed there. The man is a devout Christian, such unions violate his faith, and the castle is his private property. The state is using its police power to punish him for his Christian faith and to promote its socialist, anti-religious agenda.

There is finally a push-back going on in Britain. The socialist Labour government is being slaughtered in local elections and faces the abyss come the next general election. That said, the “conservative” party in Britain, the Tory party, seems little more than Labour-lite. As such, it is doubtful that even a crushing Tory victory can salvage Britain with its historical anglo-saxon values in tact. That is certainly true as long as Britain remains in the EU. Britain is just too far down the socialist / EU road to survive in even its current form beyond half a century. If the Britain of Churchill is ever to return, it will take some near disaster to move the British of today from their complacency, though I of course hope that I am proven wrong in that prognostication.


The Perfidy of Europe

According to a Telegraph poll, a plurality of Europe's citizens see America as evil. Further, the socialists of Europe join the ranks of Ahmedinejad, Castro, FARC, Ghadaffi, and other assorted haters of America in desiring to see Obama as President.

The Telegraph ran a poll of several thousand people in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Russia to determine attitudes towards America. Question 1 was do you consider America a force for good or a force for evil in the world. The results:

Britain - Evil 35% / Good 33% (Et tu, Britain, et tu?)

France - Evil 40% / Good 28%

Germany - Evil 39% / Good 25%

Russia - Evil 56% / Good 16%

Italy was the one country, surprisingly, that has a very positive view of America - Good 49% / Evil 27%. It is also the only country that has finally rid itself of communists and elected a true conservative to head its government.

I am not surprised by the British response, given the stranglehold socialism has on that country, though I am depressed about it. Britain is a natural ally and our closest European ally.

It should also be noted that in a poll taken last year, 48% of Germans believed that the US is a greater threat to the world then a soon to be nuclear armed Iran. With allies like these . . .

The poll also asked several other questions, including whom would you like to see elected President. In every country, the overwhelming majority went for Obama. The sum total of all polled went for Obama, 52% to 15%. You can find the poll results here.

We pulled Europe out of the fire in two world wars. We spent a great deal of our wealth rebuilding all of Western Europe with the Marshall Plan following WWII. We protected Western Europe against the Soviet threat during the Cold War. Even with the fall of the Soviet Union, we are still spending billions each year in support of European defense through NATO. Indeed, virtually all European nations have taken advantage of the situation to run minimal defense budgets and rely on the U.S. for their protection. With all of that, one might expect a bit of good will towards the U.S. But there is little to be found among the perfidious socialists who dominate Europe. Indeed, Der Spiegel, the BBC, and many of the state owned media outlets of Europe promote a virulent form of anti-Americanism.

The photo at the top of this post adequately sums up my take on this. If you have not seen it before, its LTG George Patton urinating into the Rhine in 1945. Can the U.S. get out of NATO and the UN fast enough? And as to the Middle East, if we can get our oil from other locales, we should leave Iran to the Europeans to worry about. The nuclear missles they will have in two years won't reach America, but Brussels will likely be in range. And while I am willing to defend the classical values of western civilization with my life and the life of my progeny, when I see things like this, it leads me to conclude that there is little of such civilization left in Europe to defend.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday's Art & Verse

Art: Little Red Riding Hood & The Big Bad Wolf, Richard Hermann Eschke

Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma's door.
When Grandma opened it, she saw
The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin,
And Wolfie said, "May I come in?"
Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
"He's going to eat me up!" she cried.
And she was absolutely right.
He ate her up in one big bite.
But Grandmamma was small and tough,
And Wolfie wailed, "That's not enough!
I haven't yet begun to feel
That I have had a decent meal!"
He ran around the kitchen yelping,
"I've got to have a second helping!"

Then added with a frightful leer,
"I'm therefore going to wait right here
Till Little Miss Red Riding Hood
Comes home from walking in the wood."

He quickly put on Grandma's clothes,
(Of course he hadn't eaten those).
He dressed himself in coat and hat.
He put on shoes, and after that,
He even brushed and curled his hair,
Then sat himself in Grandma's chair.

In came the little girl in red.
She stopped. She stared. And then she said,
"What great big ears you have, Grandma."
"All the better to hear you with,"
the Wolf replied.
"What great big eyes you have, Grandma."
said Little Red Riding Hood.
"All the better to see you with,"
the Wolf replied.
He sat there watching her and smiled.
He thought, I'm going to eat this child.
Compared with her old Grandmamma,
She's going to taste like caviar.

Then Little Red Riding Hood said, "
But Grandma, what a lovely great big
furry coat you have on."

"That's wrong!" cried Wolf.
"Have you forgot
To tell me what BIG TEETH I've got?
Ah well, no matter what you say,
I'm going to eat you anyway."

The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature's head,
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.

A few weeks later, in the wood,
I came across Miss Riding Hood.
But what a change! No cloak of red,
No silly hood upon her head.
She said, "Hello, and do please note
My lovely furry wolfskin coat."

- Roald Dahl

Dahl, born in 1916 in Wales, was a novelist, short story writer and screenwriter, who rose to prominence in the 1940s with works for both children and adults, and became one of the world's bestselling authors. His most popular books include The Twits, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Witches and The BFG. Read more about Roald Dahl


Whoa . . .A McClellan-Soros Connection

This promises to get real interesting real quick.

Scott "Fredo Corleone" McClellan, has written a scathing book that takes aim at the Bush White House. With the latest revelations, it seems possible that McClellan's work was heavilly influenced by, if not twisted by, Soros minions. If so, this could be a true scandal. Media Mythbusters provides some of the background:

This just in from The American Pundit:

Very interesting. Especially since Ari Fleisher spoke with McClellan yesterday, who claims his editor “tweaked” the book. Apparently the original book Ari was told about was supposed to be “good for the president”.

Rumor has it from what I hear on radio and the Internet that large parts or most of this book was not even written by McClellan… Hmmm, the worm turns…

Now it turns out that the book publisher is ultimately owned by . . . Dr. Evil himself. As ham-handed as Soros is (Gen. Betrayus, Lancet Study), this is one of those rare situations where there really might be a conspiracy.

Dafyyd, at Big Lizards, has spent already written posts (here and here) pointing out the glaring disconnects already evident about the book itself.

It will be fascinating watching this one pan out. I am really glad now that our Democrats are planning to subpoena Fredo to give testimony before Congress. I'll have to break out the popcorn for that one. I want to see if Soros appears at the hearing with Fredo's brother to sit in gallery.

(H/T Fausta)


More Evidence of the Declining al Qaeda Brand

CIA Chief Michael Hayden sees the U.S. as winning the war on terror against al Qaeda, though the organization still has the capacity to pull off a catastrophic attack. Al Qaeda is losing support of the world's Muslims, and coupled with strategic defeats in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, is now on the defensive throughout the world. Hayden hits a lot of important points in his speech, including that our safety over the past seven years has not occurred by happenstance and that Iran remains a major threat.

This today from the Washington Post:

Less than a year after his agency warned of new threats from a resurgent al-Qaeda, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden now portrays the terrorist movement as essentially defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and on the defensive throughout much of the rest of the world, including in its presumed haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

In a strikingly upbeat assessment, the CIA chief cited major gains against al-Qaeda's allies in the Middle East and an increasingly successful campaign to destabilize the group's core leadership.

While cautioning that al-Qaeda remains a serious threat, Hayden said Osama bin Laden is losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and has largely forfeited his ability to exploit the Iraq war to recruit adherents. Two years ago, a CIA study concluded that the U.S.-led war had become a propaganda and marketing bonanza for al-Qaeda, generating cash donations and legions of volunteers.

All that has changed, Hayden said in an interview with The Washington Post this week that coincided with the start of his third year at the helm of the CIA.

"On balance, we are doing pretty well," he said, ticking down a list of accomplishments: "Near strategic defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qaeda globally -- and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' -- as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam," he said.

The sense of shifting tides in the terrorism fight is shared by a number of terrorism experts, . . .

"One of the lessons we can draw from the past two years is that al-Qaeda is its own worst enemy," said Robert Grenier, a former top CIA counterterrorism official who is now managing director of Kroll, a risk consulting firm. "Where they have succeeded initially, they very quickly discredit themselves."

Others warned that al-Qaeda remains capable of catastrophic attacks and may be even more determined to stage a major strike to prove its relevance. "Al-Qaeda's obituary has been written far too often in the past few years for anyone to declare victory," said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University. "I agree that there has been progress. But we're indisputably up against a very resilient and implacable enemy."

A landmark study last August by the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies described the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area as a de facto al-Qaeda haven in which terrorist leaders were reorganizing for attacks against the West. But Hayden said counterterrorism successes extend even to that lawless region. Although he would not discuss CIA operations in the area, U.S. intelligence agencies have carried out several attacks there since January, using unmanned Predator aircraft for surgical strikes against al-Qaeda and Taliban safe houses.

"The ability to kill and capture key members of al-Qaeda continues, and keeps them off balance -- even in their best safe haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border," Hayden said. . . .

. . . Despite the optimistic outlook, he said he is concerned that the progress against al-Qaeda could be halted or reversed because of what he considers growing complacency and a return to the mind-set that existed before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"We remain worried, and frankly, I wonder why some other people aren't worried, too," he said. His concern stems in part from improved intelligence-gathering that has bolstered the CIA's understanding of al-Qaeda's intent, he said.

"The fact that we have kept [Americans] safe for pushing seven years now has got them back into the state of mind where 'safe' is normal," he said. "Our view is: Safe is hard-won, every 24 hours."

Hayden, who has previously highlighted a gulf between Washington and its European allies on how to battle terrorism, said he is troubled that Congress and many in the media are "focused less on the threat and more on the tactics the nation has chosen to deal with the threat" -- a reference to controversial CIA interrogation techniques approved by Hayden's predecessors.

"The center line of the national discussion has moved, and in our business, our center line is more shaped by the reality of the threat," Hayden said.

On Iraq, he said he is encouraged not only by U.S. success against al-Qaeda's affiliates there, but also by what he described as the steadily rising competence of the Iraqi military and a growing popular antipathy toward jihadism.

. . . While al-Qaeda misplayed its hand with gruesome attacks on Iraqi civilians, Hayden said, U.S. military commanders and intelligence officials deserve some of the credit for the shift, because they "created the circumstances" for it by building strategic alliances with Sunni and Shiite factions, he said.

Hayden warned, however, that progress in Iraq is being undermined by increasing interference by Iran, which he accused of supplying weapons, training and financial assistance to anti-U.S. insurgents. While declining to endorse any particular strategy for dealing with Iran, he described the threat in stark terms.

"It is the policy of the Iranian government, approved at the highest levels of that government, to facilitate the killing of American and other coalition forces in Iraq. Period," he said.

Read the article. More on why the defeat of al Qaeda does not end the threat of radical Islam here.


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pelosi Crosses The Line

The latest from the train wreck that is our House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi:

"The surge didn’t accomplish its goal. And some of the success of the surge is . . . [because of] the goodwill of the Iranians."

So the question is, is she traitorous or simply insane?

Nancy Pelosi gave an interview with the SF Chronicle yesterday. When asked about what she observed in Iraq during her May 17 visit, she replied:

Well, the purpose of the surge was to provide a secure space, a time for the political change to occur to accomplish the reconciliation. That didn’t happen. Whatever the military success, and progress that may have been made, the surge didn’t accomplish its goal. And some of the success of the surge is that the goodwill of the Iranians-they decided in Basra when the fighting would end, they negotiated that cessation of hostilities-the Iranians.

As to reconciliation, Ms. Pelosi's narrative is ridiculous. Even our own perfidious MSM is now acknowledging both the great strides towards reconciliation that Iraq has made and the fact that the Iraqis are rallying around Maliki as a nationalist leader. Maliki is extremely popular across the spectrum of Iraq's citizens. Indeed, the only places where he is unpopular are in Tehran and, apparently, in the offices of Congressional Democrats.

As to Iran, any inference from events surrounding Basra that Iran is acting with goodwill towards the U.S. and the government of Iraq is not merely unsupported by the facts, it is a highly malignant falsehood. Iran's primary contribution to the situation in Iraq is death and mayhem. Their malign and extensive proxy war is at the heart of the need for the continuation of the surge.

Pelosi is a hyperpartisan hack. She is either wholly unable to distinguish reality or quite willing to ignore it in her all encompassing desire for political power.



ABC News, May 28, 2008: Maliki's Midas Touch

. . . The Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites alike all eventually lauded the Basra operation as a huge success and whole-heartedly backed Maliki in his next endeavor — to revisit Mosul, and take on al Qaeda.

. . . Acutely aware of his political momentum, on May 12, Maliki, accompanied by crews from Al Iraqia TV, the official state-run media outlet — went to Mosul — and Maliki personally, and publicly, took charge of the military operations there.

He was the lead story and plastered across almost every local front page.

. . . Sadr is trying to grasp on to a sliver of political leverage, claiming to have struck the deal which brought his people their livelihoods back. While Maliki is lauding the latest in a series of successes to ensure security and a regained national unity to his country.

Certainly, it seems as though there is little Maliki can do wrong these days. With provincial elections around the corner, an Iraqi future without Maliki is almost impossible to imagine.

The Atlantic, May 13, 2008, Maliki's Southern Strategy

. . . At first, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's decision to confront Moqtada al-Sadr's Iranian-backed militas looked like a major strategic misstep. Now it appears to have transformed Iraqi politics, potentially paving the way for real reconciliation between Sunni and Shia.

. . . [T]here has also been a more lasting change: The Sadrists have been marginalized. Even the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has been reluctant to make political interventions in recent years, pointedly condemned Sadr for refusing to disarm. Leading Sunni faction have also returned to the fold. The Kurds, who have their own problems with Sadr, are also on board. Maliki, suprisingly enough, increasingly looks like the leader of all Iraqis.

. . . Unfortunately, few Americans understand what Maliki has accomplished, and how much international assistance he needs to beat back foreign elements that aim to undermine Iraq's fragile democracy -- which is, as far as neighboring governments are concerned (particularly those that begin with an "I" and end with an "n"), a profoundly subversive influence.

USA Today, April 22, 2008, Iraq Frees Detainees

Most of those released were Sunnis who had been low-level army officials or former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. . . .

The prisoners are being freed under an amnesty law passed by Iraq's parliament in February. More than 52,400 detainees in government custody have applied for their freedom. Of those, nearly 78%, or more than 40,000, were granted amnesty. . . .

"This is sort of a new life," Othman said. "Terrorism started and now it is ending. A new life is coming, God willing."

NYT, February 12, 2008, Making (Some) Progress In Iraq

Iraq’s Parliament has finally approved a budget, outlined the scope of provincial powers, set an Oct. 1 date for provincial elections and voted a general amnesty for detainees. All these steps are essential for national conciliation.

. . . We are, of course, cheered by the news that representatives from Iraq’s three main ethnic groups — Shiite, Sunni and Kurd — finally saw some benefit in compromise. . . .



Washington Post, May 29, 2008, U.S. Cites Big Gains Against Al Qaeda

. . . [CIA Chief Michael]Hayden warned, however, that progress in Iraq is being undermined by increasing interference by Iran, which he accused of supplying weapons, training and financial assistance to anti-U.S. insurgents. While declining to endorse any particular strategy for dealing with Iran, he described the threat in stark terms.

"It is the policy of the Iranian government, approved at the highest levels of that government, to facilitate the killing of American and other coalition forces in Iraq. Period," he said.

Fox News, Aug. 9, 2007, Captured Video Shows Iraqi Insurgents Firing Sophisticated Iranian-Made Rockets at U.S. Positions

Dramatic video produced by Iraqi insurgents and captured in a raid earlier this week by U.S. troops clearly shows a battery of sophisticated Iranian-made rocket launchers firing on American positions east of Baghdad, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.

The video, captured during a raid on Monday by the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment in northeast Nahrawan, shows insurgents setting up and carrying out an attack on Sunday, as well as an attack on July 11 that killed one soldier and wounded 15 others, officials said. The raid last month appeared to involve 34 launchers firing 107 mm Iranian-made rockets.

AFP, May 5, 2008, Iran Ex-President Under Fire For Comments On Insurgents

Ex-president [of Iran] Mohmamad Khatami was under fire from hardliners on Monday after comments interpreted as accusing Iran's clerical leaders of supporting insurgents in the Middle East.

. . . His speech has been seen by some observers as accusing the Iranian authorities of encouraging militants to destabilize the Middle East, in particular Iraq and Lebanon. . . .

Voices of Iraq, May 3, 2008, Karbala Operations Commander Accuses Iran of Disturbing the City

Karbala operations commander said on Saturday that Iranian intervention is disturbing the city's security.

He noted that huge quantities of Iranian made weapons were seized throughout different locations in the province.

"There is Iranian intervention . . . in Karbala," Major General Ra'id Shaker Jawdat said in a press conference at Karbala operations command's building, after showing a large quantity of Iranian-made weapons.

. . . "Those weapons entered Karbala to destabilize security, . . .

AEI, May 13, 2008, Speech by Col. H.R. McMaster, Advisor to Gen. Petraeus

Col H.R. McMaster: . . . When I traveled through the south on a last couple of visits, what I heard – and this is again on the point of militias being increasingly discredited, and this is from Iraqi Shiite leaders who were saying things like Iran is the true occupier of Iraq. They would say jokingly that the Iranians are now all Iraqi nationalists, which is a thinly-veiled swipe at some of the militias in some of these areas.

And so whereas before about a year ago, you wouldn’t really hear Iraqi leaders, especially in these areas in the south, offering criticism of Iran and the parties and communities within Iraq who were playing host to Iranian influence but you hear that almost all the time now among Shiite Arab leaders. And also a connection to Iran, and this again affects the militias, is becoming a liability much like being connected to Al-Qaeda was a liability for so-called resistance movements in the Sunni Arab community. These are again changes that I’ve seen in the last year.

The contradictions of Iranian policies I’ve mentioned at the beginning have been exposed and Iraqis have to deal with them now. They have to deal with them again partly because of that pressure on the political parties, who are embarrassed by the connections to Iran and what Iran is doing. So the sixth thing is, no big surprise, the exposure of Iranian activity and Iran’s true intentions. . . .

. . . In the case of what Iran is doing in Iraq, it is so damn obvious to anybody who wants to look into it, I think, that is drop the word “alleged” and say what they’re doing, which is, we know for a fact organizing and directing operations against the government of Iraq and against our forces – the government of Iraq forces and our forces – we know they have done that, certainly in the past. We know that they are supplying them with weapons and the most effective weapons that they used to attack the Iraqi people and our forces and these include the long-range high payload rockets that have been coming in from Iraq as well as the explosively formed projectile roadside bombs that come from Iran.

We know that they have trained forces in the employment of these munitions - and in pretty large numbers. We know that they were concerned that their maligned hand being obvious in Iraq would alienate their Arab neighbors so they try Arabize these efforts by using Lebanese Hezbollah for a lot of the training but it’s a pretty cosmetic shift that they’ve made in some portions of the training.

We know for a fact that they have directed assassination operations. They have a reputation of being some of the best assassins in the world. They’ve trained Iraqis to do that. They’ve trained them in skills not only for roadside bombs and in long-range rockets but also in snipers and other skills used to intimidate or kill individuals. And we know that they have been sort of backing all horses to destabilize the situation and we know that their support is continued to key Badr officials who are in influential positions who remain on the payroll of Iran and to advance the interests of Iran and, in some cases, to provide leadership for other militia organizations that are stood up.

We know that they ostensibly have supported this government but have armed, equipped and trained a militia that has been attacking the very government they ostensibly support. And this is not just something in Basra, this is last year. This is in Nasariyah, this is Samwa, this is in Diwaniyahm, this is in Amarah and it was in Karbala in August 26th and 27th of last year. And now again in Basra.

So I think it’s very obvious. Now on this specific question you have - has it increased or has it decreased? I think it’s very clear that what Iran has done over the last year is try to develop a considerable latent capability that it could turn on in short notice. And I think that it may have been that this bold and very quick action by the Prime Minister in Basra foiled what was to be perhaps a much larger and coordinated effort, maybe even coordinated with efforts in other places in the region, like what we’re seen happening right now in Lebanon.

So, anyway, I think it’s very obvious what they’re doing. I think it’s very obvious to Iraqis, it certainly is. The Iraqis I’ve spoken to are incensed about it and I think it’s no longer alleged. Yes?

Demetri Sevastopulo: If it’s been going on for so long, why is it you said earlier that the Iraqis are only recently starting to talk about Iranian involvement? Why did it not bother them before?

H.R. McMaster: Now, that’s a great point. Part of the reason is the intimidation factor. We know that Iran had really been able to establish a pretty high degree of control over some key officials, you know, provided them protection. And then also some assassination cells and elements of militia that would kill anybody who made a statement against Iranian interests. So what I think what has happened is Iran has so blatantly undermined the security situation and it’s so clear now that they want to keep Iraq as a weak, failing state, is what they would like I think, dependent on them for support that many more Iraqis now are disavowing connections to Iran and providing more space, more physical space in terms of intimidation. There’s more sort of a political space to address this issue than there had been previously.

And then also, if you remember Iran was a big supporter of the militias which before and this goes back to the effective operations against Al-Qaeda and the importance of it, those militias were justified in large measure because of the perception that they were protectors against these Takfirists and Salafi jihadistss who play with Al-Qaeda, and the Baathists, the former regime. So all these, what Iran could do was raise the specter of terrorist attacks against Shiite communities as a justification for its support in nefarious activities. Now, the contradiction of what they’ve been doing is much more obvious to many more people than it had been previously. . . .

Nancy Pelosi has slandered the incredible accomplishments of our soldiers. She owes our soldiers and our nation an apology. And she owes a special apology to the family of every soldier killed and maimed by Iran in the conduct of their proxy war. She has denigrated their sacrifice with her falsehoods in her pursuit of partisan power.

The tremendous offensiveness of Pelosi's falsehoods are bad enough. But what makes her remarks truly malignant are that those remarks are upon an issue at the heart of our national security. Indeed, on the largest national security issue we face, Iran, pretending that they are a benign and helpful entity can only serve to place our nation in ever greater danger. It prevents us from acknowledging reality and developing a plan to deal with Iran that will have the support of our nation. That is not merely inexcusable, but for the third most powerful person in our government, it is traitorous and criminal.


Nazir Ali - The Collapse Of Chistianity Is Wrecking British Society & Islam Is Filling The Void

Nearly two centuries after socialism was born in France and began its attack on Christianity, and about one and a half centuries after Karl Marx called religion the "opiate of the masses," socialism's war on Christianity, the foundaional element of Western civilization, is bearing truly malignant fruit. This is nowhere more true than in Britain, a country that firmly embraced socialism in the twentieth century to cure the social ills of a class based society only to find, today, that the cure is proving far more deadly than the disease. The majority of the problem is the inherent nature of socialism itself, with the utter rejection of moral limits growing out of the Judeo-Christian ethic, elevating in its stead narcissism, moral relativism, multiculturalism, and a firm belief that the evils in this world derive from Western oppression. Add to that the pressures from Salafi and Deobandi Islam, two deeply expansionist and triumphalist sects that are opposed on many points to Western values and that suffer no such internal angst, and you have, today, Britain in crisis.

Not only is Britian in crisis, but so too, of course, is the Church of England. As I wrote below, at the current rate of progression, Islam will overtake Christianity as the dominant religion in Britain within thirty years. It is fascinating that, at the head of the Anglican Church today, is a weak and incredibly misguided Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, an inveterate Marxist and multiculturalist who seeks to appease the Islamists.

At the other end of the spectrum is the man increasingly in the news as the voice of the Anglican Church - and the one man in Britain who speaks honestly on the virtues of Christianity, the malignant effects of socialism and the dangers of Islamism - the Pakistani-born Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali. Indeed, he is shouting all this from the roof tops. And he does so today, quite eloquently.

This from the Daily Mail:

The collapse of Christianity has wrecked British society, a leading Church of England bishop declared yesterday.

It has destroyed family life and left the country defenceless against the rise of radical Islam in a moral and spiritual vacuum.

In a lacerating attack on liberal values, the Right Reverend Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, said the country was mired in a doctrine of 'endless self-indulgence' that had brought an explosion in public violence and binge-drinking.

In a blow to Gordon Brown, he mocked the 'scramblings and scratchings' of politicians who try to cast new British values such as respect and tolerance.

The Pakistani-born bishop dated the downfall of Christianity from the 'social and sexual revolution' of the 1960s.

He said Church leaders had capitulated to Marxist revolutionary thinking and quoted an academic who blames the loss of 'faith and piety among women' for the steep decline in Christian worship.

Dr Nazir-Ali said the ' newfangled and insecurely founded' doctrine of multiculturalism has left immigrant communities 'segregated, living parallel lives'.

Christian values of human dignity, equality and freedom could be lost as the way is left open for the advance of brands of Islam that do not respect Western values.

The Bishopric of Rochester is one of the ten most powerful positions in the Church of England.

Dr Nazir-Ali's attack on the decline of Christianity appears to put him in the opposite corner to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and many of his fellow bishops.

But he holds some views in common with the Church's other widely-heard and popular prelate, Ugandan-born Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York.

Over the past six months, Dr Nazir-Ali has made a number of criticisms of Islam and its influence.

Among them have been charges about the spread of no-go areas for non-Muslims and worries over the impact of new mosques.

Last weekend he was one of just three bishops who backed a move in the Church's parliament, the General Synod, to encourage the conversion of Muslims to Christianity.

His latest attack once again criticises Dr Williams's backing for sharia law, saying that 'recognising its jurisdiction in public law is fraught with difficulties, precisely as it arises from a different set of assumptions than the tradition of law here'.

Dr Nazir-Ali detailed his arguments in an article in the newly-launched political magazine Standpoint.

The bishop, himself an immigrant from Pakistan in the mid-1980s, admitted that he might be thought the least qualified person to discuss British identity. But he quoted Kipling: 'What should they know of England who only England know?'

The bishop said 'something momentous' had happened in the 1960s. He quoted historians who point to a cultural revolution in which women ceased to uphold or pass on the Christian faith and to the role of Marxist revolutionaries.

Dr Nazir-Ali pointed with approval to a finding that 'instead of resisting this phenomenon, liberal theologians and church leaders all but capitulated.

He said: 'It has created the moral and spiritual vacuum in which we now find ourselves.' In the place of Christianity there was nothing 'except perhaps endless self-indulgence'.

The bishop said the consequences were 'the destruction of the family because of the alleged parity of different forms of life together, the loss of a father figure, especially for boys, because the role of fathers is deemed otiose, the abuse of substances (including alcohol), the loss of respect for the person leading to horrendous and mindless attacks, the increasing communications gap between generations and social classes - the list is very long.'

Another result, he said, was that immigrants had been welcomed, not on the basis of Britain's Christian heritage, to which they would be welcome to contribute, but by the 'newfangled and insecurely-founded doctrine of multiculturalism'.

The bishop warned that views not founded on Christianity would not produce the same values. 'Instead of Christian virtues of humility, service and sacrifice, there may be honour, piety, the saving of face, etc'.

He questioned what resources were available for an ideological battle against radical Islamism, saying 'the scramblings and scratchings around of politicians for values which would provide ammunition' were hardly adequate.

. . . Born into a Roman Catholic family in Pakistan, the young Michael Nazir-Ali converted to Anglicanism at the age of 20.

As a young man, he suffered rough treatment of the kind regularly handed out to Christians in a country where failing to follow the official religion can sometimes end in murder.

He moved to Cambridge to study theology and then returned as a priest to Pakistan before being brought to London in the 1980s to serve as an assistant to the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie.

He is one of the bishops who has been called on by the Prince of Wales to give advice on Islam.

However, Dr Nazir-Ali does not share the prince's enthusiasm for Islamic values. He has warned Charles to give up his hope of being 'defender of faiths' because of the incompatibility of different beliefs.

Dr Nazir-Ali has accused Muslims of promoting double standards by looking for both 'victimhood and domination'; he has called for powers for officialdom to remove veils from Muslim women for security reasons; and he has warned repeatedly over the dangers of extremism.

In particular he has called on Islamic leaders to allow Muslims to abandon their beliefs and adopt other religions.

Dr Nazir-Ali has spoken up for an estimated 3,000 Britons under threat of retaliation for giving up their faith and he has condemned Islamic states that maintain the death penalty for apostasy.

His outspokenness has put him in the vanguard of opposition to hardline Islamism and made him one of the highest-placed enemies of the gay rights movement.

He angered the Archbishop of Canterbury by threatening to boycott this year's Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops from around the world.

He has criticised civil partnerships and opposed the extension of IVF treatment to single women and lesbians.

Dr Nazir-Ali has much in common with the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu. Unlike him, however, he does not have a populist touch.

This may have contributed to his failure to win the post of Archbishop of Canterbury, for which he was once considered a leading candidate.

The 58-year-old bishop has now remained in Rochester for nearly 14 years.

Read the entire article. It is ironic indeed that the two most staunch defenders of Western values and civilization in Britain were both born in Asia, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali and the Muslim author Ibn Warraq. If you have not read Ibn Warraq's eloquent defense of the West, I urge you to do so. You can find it here.


ABC Sings The Praises of . . . Maliki?

Somebody alert the rest of the MSM. There's a glitch in the narrative.

It's been fairly clear for over a year that the MSM narrative of Prime Minister Maliki as a partisan and ineffective leader beholden to militias was wrong. And today, ABC acknowledges it, noting that "there is little Maliki can do wrong these days. . . . [A]n Iraqi future without Maliki is almost impossible to imagine." Maliki's decision at the end of 2006 to break with Sadr was the real turning point, though his willingness to take on both Iran's proxies and al Qaeda have made him hugely popular in Iraq as a nationalist leader.

This from ABC:

In Baghdad's Sadr City today, once again, street vendors line the sidewalk with colorful shirts and shoes. Vegetable markets, once again, have fresh limes and produce. Family stores, once again, are back in business.

And in the local Ibn al Balad hospital, no more war wounds.

. . . The residents of Sadr City have been longtime followers of the firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr and his 60,000-strong Mahdi militia. He and his fighters staunchly oppose the U.S. military presence in Iraq and have frequently targeted U.S. troops across the country.

But all that has changed. Last week, al Sadr's representatives and the main Shiite political party here signed a cease-fire agreement.

And at sunrise on May 20, a legion of Iraqi soldiers cautiously marched into Sadr City. Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki had ordered the thousands of soldiers into the Shiite enclave as part of "Operation Peace." They were greeted with open arms.

"Now, we feel safe and stable," said Ayad Abbas, a Sadr City resident. "All the people of Sadr City want the rule of law … so, the army can enter" said another.

. . . The soldiers were heralded as heroes. And Maliki was seen as the strong leader he's frequently failed to be in the past — taking on the unpredictable Sadr and his Mahdi army.

But that wasn't always the case. A little context:

On Nov. 8, 2006, U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley wrote in an internal memo: "The reality on the streets of Baghdad suggests Maliki is either ignorant of what is going on, misrepresenting his intentions, or that his capabilities are not yet sufficient to turn his good intentions into action."

Since Hadley's widely publicized opinions of Maliki, the prime minister has implemented a carefully planned strategy and precise public relations campaign.

Early this year, on Jan. 25, Maliki publicly announced his intentions to take on and finish off al Qaeda in Iraq in its last claimed stronghold — Mosul.

But after a couple of months of tough-talk about al Qaeda, he surprised many, including U.S. military commanders, when he decided to turn his attention to Basra.

Basra had erupted into a Shiite-on-Shiite power struggle, and as long as Maliki ignored the evident instability in the South, whispered doubts flourished about his dedication to national unity. Maliki was still struggling with many Sunnis and Kurds over his willingness to tackle Shiite troubles and in-fighting.

On March 23, Maliki launched Operation Knight's Assault, in Basra. Thousands of soldiers stormed the southern Shiite bastion, specifically targeting Muqtada al Sadr and his army.

. . . At congressional hearings in April, Gen. David Petraeus said, regarding Knight's Assault, "There's no question but that it could have been better planned and that the preparations could have been better."

But as Maliki bore the brunt of international backlash over the execution of the operation, he stood his ground.

And although many of the Shiite fighters melted into the streets, a little over a month later, the city is being called the "new city of hope." Not perfect by any means, but there are steady reports of businesses reopening, women cautiously baring skin and life being somewhat manageable. Success.

The Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites alike all eventually lauded the Basra operation as a huge success and whole-heartedly backed Maliki in his next endeavor — to revisit Mosul, and take on al Qaeda.

On May 9, late at night, we received word of an indefinite curfew in all of Nineva province. The next day, on May 10, Operation Lion's Roar surged ahead.

Acutely aware of his political momentum, on May 12, Maliki, accompanied by crews from Al Iraqia TV, the official state-run media outlet — went to Mosul — and Maliki personally, and publicly, took charge of the military operations there.

He was the lead story and plastered across almost every local front page.

In the first five days of Operation Lion's Roar, more than 500 terrorists and militants had been reportedly captured. Success. This time, with the Sunnis and Kurds behind him.

Then one week ago, on May 20, 10,000 Iraqi Army soldiers, backed by tanks (and U.S. air support), strolled into Sadr City. Not a single bullet was fired and there haven't been any gunfights, airstrikes or rockets launched into, or out of, Sadr City since.

. . . Nevertheless, today, both Maliki and Sadr seem to be on the verge of declaring victory in the eastern Baghdad slum.

Sadr is trying to grasp on to a sliver of political leverage, claiming to have struck the deal which brought his people their livelihoods back. While Maliki is lauding the latest in a series of successes to ensure security and a regained national unity to his country.

Certainly, it seems as though there is little Maliki can do wrong these days. With provincial elections around the corner, an Iraqi future without Maliki is almost impossible to imagine.

Read the entire article. Wow. ABC's MSM brethern will be choking on their cornflakes over this one.


Obama and Non-Linear Progression

Trying to keep up with the latest from Obama is very much like trying to follow the action inside a pinball machine. It is non-linear and taking odd turns at breakneck speed. A week ago, Obama called Iran a minor threat - a characterization he revised 180 degrees the next day. In October, he said he'd meet Ahmedinejad and Chavez without precondition - and now says there will be preparation, as thought that is a distinction with any difference. Then there were the bi-weekly revisions of the narrative regarding Rev. Wright, Trinity United and black liberation theology memorialized by Karl Rove today in the WSJ and blogged below. The latest is Obama's decision to visit Iraq the day after turning down an invitation from McCain as a political stunt. This guy flip flops faster than Kerry on steroids.

The difference between McCain and Obama is drawn into no more sharper focus than on the issue of Iraq. McCain feels that success in Iraq is more important to our nation than his winning the Presidency. He is a man driven by principle. Obama is the polar opposite. He wants to pull us out of Iraq as a function of political expediency to further his bid for the Presidency. He could care less about the ground truth in Iraq. I could think of no clearer distinction between these two men and how they would lead this country. In this regards, John McCain issued an invitation to Obama to come to Iraq - and invitation that Obama, two days ago, refused as a political stunt. That led to this ciriticism from McCain:

No sooner had John McCain issued this highly effective criticism than the pinball wizard himself decided a short sojourn in Iraq might be worthwhile. I wonder how long it will take for the reality to become apparent to the majority of American's that Obama's overriding principle is his own ambition, that he is dangerously naive and unprepared, that he is every bit as disingenuous as Bill Clinton and, in terms of flip flopping, he puts John Kerry to shame.


Oil Prices - Its Big Congress, Not Big Oil

I wrote in a post below that the big domesitc issue for Republians between now and November should be the price of gas, and laid out the basic facts in a seperate post here. Republicans need to end every speech between now and November with the words "drill and the prices will go down, vote Democrat and the prices go up - because they won't let us drill." Today, Mackubin Thomas Owens drives the point home that the villian at the pump is not big Oil, its big Congress:

This today from Mr. Owens writing in the WSJ:

Gasoline prices are through the roof and Americans are angry. Someone must be to blame and the obvious villain is "Big Oil" with its alleged ability to gouge consumers and achieve unconscionable, "windfall" profits. Congress is in a vile mood, and has dragged oil industry executives before its committees for show trials, issuing predictable threats of punishment, e.g. a "windfall profits tax."

But if there is a villain in all of this, it is Congress itself. That venerable body has made it impossible for U.S. producers of crude oil to tap significant domestic reserves of oil and gas, and it has foreclosed economically viable alternative sources of energy in favor of unfeasible alternatives such as wind and solar. In addition, Congress has slapped substantial taxes on gasoline. Indeed, as oil industry executives reiterated in their appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 21, 15% of the cost of gasoline at the pump goes for taxes, while only 4% represents oil company profits.

To understand the depth of congressional complicity in the high price of gasoline, one must understand that crude oil prices explain 97% of the variation in the pretax price of gasoline. That price, which has risen to record levels, is set by the intersection of supply and demand. On the one hand, world-wide demand has accelerated mainly due to the rapid growth of China and India.

On the other hand, supply has been curtailed by the cartel-like behavior of foreign national oil companies, which control nearly 80% of world petroleum reserves. Faced with little competition in the production of crude oil, the members of this cartel benefit from keeping the commodity in the ground, confident that increasing demand will make it more valuable in the future. Despite its pious denunciations of the behavior of U.S. investor-owned oil companies (IOCs), Congress by its actions over the years has ensured the economic viability of the national oil company cartel.

It has done so by preventing the exploitation by IOCs of reserves available in nonpark federal lands in the West, Alaska and under the waters off our coasts. These areas hold an estimated 635 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas – enough to meet the needs of the 60 million American homes fueled by natural gas for over a century. They also hold an estimated 112 billion barrels of recoverable oil – enough to produce gasoline for 60 million cars and fuel oil for 25 million homes for 60 years.

This doesn't even include substantial oil shale resources economically recoverable at oil prices substantially lower than those prevailing today. . . .

If Congress really cared about the economic well-being of American citizens, it would stop fulminating against IOCs and reverse current policies that discourage, indeed prohibit, the production of domestic oil and natural gas. Even the announcement that Congress was opening the way for domestic production would lead to downward pressure on oil prices.

. . . As in the 1970s, U.S. energy policies have essentially restricted the exploitation of domestic sources of energy. Curtailed supplies have combined with rapid, world-wide energy demand to increase the price of oil and other sources of energy. This provides leverage to foreign producers and threatens U.S. energy security. Freeing up domestic energy resources will do today what President Reagan's decision to deregulate oil prices in 1981 did then: cause oil prices to fall, thereby enhancing U.S. energy security.

Read the entire article.


A Revisionist Retrospective

Obama appears to be unprincipled and disingenuous individual who refuses to take personal responsiblity. His greatest skills are his oratory and his ability to dance around tough questions with the liquid grace of a Bill Clinton at the top of his form. Karl Rove serves to provide us with a reminder of these facts today as he takes us on a guided tour of Obama's serial revisionism.

This today from Karl Rove in the WSJ:

. . . [Obama] instinctively resorts to parsing, evasions and misdirection. The saga over Rev. Jeremiah Wright is Exhibit A. In just 62 days, Americans were treated to eight different explanations.

First, on Feb. 25, Mr. Obama downplayed Rev. Wright's divisiveness, saying he was "like an old uncle who sometimes will say things that I don't agree with." A week later, Mr. Obama insisted, "I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial," suggesting that Rev. Wright was criticized because "he was one of the leaders in calling for divestment from South Africa and some other issues like that."

The issue exploded on March 13, when ABC showed excerpts from Rev. Wright's sermons. Mr. Obama's spokesman said the senator "deeply disagrees" with Rev. Wright's statements, but "now that he is retired, that doesn't detract from Sen. Obama's affection for Rev. Wright or his appreciation for the good works he has done."

The next day, Mr. Obama offered a fourth defense: "The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation." Mr. Obama also told the Chicago Tribune, "In fairness to him, this was sort of a greatest hits. They basically culled five or six sermons out of 30 years of preaching."

Then, four days later, in Philadelphia, Mr. Obama finally repudiated Rev. Wright's comments, saying they "denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation." But Mr. Obama went on to say, "I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother. . . ."

Ten days later, Mr. Obama said if Rev. Wright had not retired as Trinity's pastor, and "had he not acknowledged that what he had said had deeply offended . . . then I wouldn't have felt comfortable staying there at the church." (Never mind that Rev. Wright had made no such acknowledgment.)

On April 28, at the National Press Club, Rev. Wright re-emerged – not to apologize but to repeat some of his most offensive lines. This provoked an eighth defense: "[W]hatever relationship I had with Rev. Wright has changed, as a consequence of this. I don't think that he showed much concern for me. More importantly, I don't think he showed much concern for what we are trying to do in this campaign . . . ." Self-interest is a powerful, but not noble, sentiment in politics.

The Rev. Wright affair is just one instance where the Illinois senator has said something wrong or offensive, and then offered shifting explanations for his views. Consider flag pins.

Mr. Obama told an Iowa radio station last October he didn't wear an American flag lapel pin because, after 9/11, it had "became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues . . . ." His campaign issued a statement that "Senator Obama believes that being a patriot is about more than a symbol." To highlight his own moral superiority, he denigrated the patriotism of those who wore a flag.

Yet by April, campaigning in culturally conservative Pennsylvania, Mr. Obama was blaming others for the controversy he'd created, claiming, "I have never said that I don't wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins. This is the kind of manufactured issue that our politics has become obsessed with and, once again, distracts us . . . ." A month later Mr. Obama was once again wearing a pin, saying "Sometimes I wear it, sometimes I don't."

The Obama revision tour has been seen elsewhere. Last July, Mr. Obama pledged to meet personally and without precondition, during his first year, the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea. Criticized afterwards, he made his pledge more explicitly, naming Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Venezuela strongman Hugo Chávez as leaders he would grace with first-year visits.

By October, Mr. Obama was backpedaling, talking about needing "some progress or some indication of good faith," and by April, "sufficient preparation." It got so bad his foreign policy advisers were (falsely) denying he'd ever said he'd meet with Mr. Ahmadinejad – even as he still defended his original pledge to have meetings without precondition.

The list goes on. Mr. Obama's problem is a campaign that's personality-driven rather than idea-driven. Thus incidents calling into question his persona and character can have especially devastating consequences. . .

Read the entire post.


VD Hanson On The Surreal Narrative Of The Left

I blogged earlier that evidence is ever mounting that two myths of the left - that the war in Iraq has increased terrorism and that Iran is stronger as a result of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - are false (see here). Today, VD Hanson blogs on a similar theme, discussing the surreal left who cling to their narrative at all costs and who flatly refuse to find any ties between the improving figures and the President's conduct of the War on Terror.

This from Victor Davis Hanson writing at the NRO:

Recent studies showing a decline in global incidents of Islamic terror have been interpreted as solely a Middle-East intramural affair. . . .

But surely the catalyst for the decline in terrorist incidents worldwide was the radically different response of the U.S. to terrorism and 9/11 that finally brought jihadism into an open-shooting war against the West (e.g., cf. the Left’s “creating terrorists”), in which the terrorists are losing the battle-space, along with the hearts and minds of those in the Middle East — as their own websites and cries of anguish attest.

The successful toppling of Saddam was followed in short order by the shutdown of Dr. Khan’s atomic shop, the surrender of WMDs by the Libyans, and the supposed sidetracking of the Iranian nuclear bomb program (at least according to the National Intelligence Estimate) — and yet no one thought the timing of all these events was odd (even when Ghaddafi himself reportedly connected his decision to abandon a weapons of mass destruction program to Saddam’s fate).

By the same token, the rise of governments that are sympathetic to the U.S. in France, Germany, and elsewhere in Europe is never associated with a shared and growing worry over Islamic radicalism — or a grudging, often private acknowledgment of the U.S. role abroad in beating back jihadism. How surreal to see a constitutional government in Iraq, with broad popular support, fighting and defeating terrorists and insurgents of both the Wahhabi and Iranian brand — at a time when the consensus is that Iraq only made terrorism much worse. . . .

So these are upside-down times when facts and events on the ground simply do not support the general pessimism of the Western media, the serial publication of gloomy he-did-it,-not-me memoirs about the post-9/11 supposed failures, and the shrill rhetoric of the Democratic primaries.

In general, the hard efforts of the last six years against radical Islam — that bore fruit by the radically changed atmosphere in Iraq, the decline in terrorism worldwide, the lack of a follow-up to 9/11, and polls that showed a marked fall in approval for al-Qaeda, Bin Laden, and the tactic of suicide bombing — are explained away in various ways. The common theme, however, is that one never mentions the efforts of the bogeyman George Bush. . . .

We have not won the war on terror, but we are starting to see how the combination of domestic security, international cooperation, military action, cultural ostracism of those who condone terrorism, and promotion of constitutional government in the Middle East can, and will, marginalize and eventually defeat the jihadists. We know this not just by the anguished complaints of the Islamists themselves, and real progress on the ground — but also by the mantra of increasingly ossified critics who still insist that things are either worse, or were never that bad, or abruptly got better on their own.

Read the entire article.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

God Save The . . . Caliphate?

Next to the Church of the Holy Sephulcre, the most famous Church in the world is the Hagia Sophia built about 532 A.D.. Except that it is not a church. Now a museum, it was captured by the Ottomans when they overran Byzantium in 1453. The Ottomans tore out the crosses, painted over the iconic images, added several minarets, and made it into a Mosque to the glory and ascendancy of Islam. Much the same thing is happening in the UK today, though at the invitation of the secular left – no need for any force or coercion.

Since the forced dechristianization of France by Robespierre, and later, the condemnation of religion as the opiate of the masses by Marx, the socialist left has been a determined foe of Christianity. They have succeeded in gutting Christianity in Britain and across Europe. This, coupled with the insane immigration policies and multiculturalism of the left have led to the suicidal but inexorable march towards the ceding of their lands, laws and traditions to those who still devoutly believe in a religion – Islam. According to the latest estimates, the religion of Islam will dominate in the land of King Richard within thirty years.

This from the Church of England Church newspaper.

If recent reports of trends in religious observance prove to be correct, then in some 30 years the mosque will be able to claim that, religiously speaking, the UK is an Islamic nation, and therefore needs a share in any religious establishment to reflect this. The progress of conservative Islam in the UK has been amazing, and it has come at a time of prolonged decline in church attendance that seems likely to continue.

This progress has been enthusiastically assisted by this government in particular with its hard-line multi-cultural dogma and willingness to concede to virtually every demand made by Muslims. Perhaps most importantly the government has chosen to allow hard-liners to act as representing all Muslims, and more liberal Muslims have almost completely failed to produce any leadership voices to compete, leading many Britons to wonder if there are indeed many liberal Muslims at all, surely a mistake.

At all levels of national life Islam has gained state funding, protection from any criticism, and the insertion of advisors and experts in government departs national and local. A Muslim Home Office adviser, for example, was responsible for Baroness Scotland’s aborting of the legislation against honour killings, arguing that informal methods would be better. In the police we hear of girls under police protection having the addresses of their safe houses disclosed to their parents by Muslim officers who think they are doing their religious duty.

. . . The point is that Islam is being institutionalised, incarnated, into national structures amazingly fast, at the same time as demography is showing very high birthrates. Charles Taylor’s new and classic work on the Secular Age charts the rise of the secular mindset and what he calls the ‘excarnation’ of Christianity as it is levered out of state policy and structures. Christianity is now regarded as bad news, the liberal elite’s attack developed in the 1960s took root in the educationalist empire, and to some extent even in areas of the church.

Today the Christian story is fading from public imagination, while Islam grows apace. There needs to be some fresh thinking in this area where the claims of Christ are sensitively explained. Our church leaders must develop ways of explaining this, as our feature on mission and evangelism this week demonstrates.

Read the entire article. (H/T LGF). God help Britian and the West. The socialist utopia of Marx has turned into a British nightmare with the determined and suicidal policies of the left. One wonders how they will fare under Sharia law. Or will they just move elsewhere in the EU and leave the working class to sort it out?


"Fredo" McClellan

It is one thing to turn on your friends and mentors on the basis of principal. Scott McClellan has not done that. In reading of Scott McClellan's new book and its contents, I am reminded of nothing so strongly as Fredo Corleone in the Godfather - the weak, incompetent and disloyal brother who turned on his family to build himself up and curry favor with those who stood opposed to his family. I think that the apt analogy for the weak, largely incompetent and supremely disloyal Mr. McClellan. Karl Rove responds on video here. Dave in Boca adds his own cogent thoughts. Update: And similar thoughts at Powerline.

My parting advice to McClellan, don't accept any offers to go fishing.


A Humor Break

Thanks to Michael Ramierez for pointing out the increasingly obvious parallels between would-be President Obama and our own national train-wreck, Jimmy Carter.

And speaking of Carter, TNOY has the top 9 tag lines for the former President. My favorite, "If only I could have talked to Hitler." The only difference between Carter and Borah was that Borah displayed a bit more common sense. Also at TNOY, they have an exclusive on new Congressional legislation to repeal the law of gravity. Evidently, the Congress is absolutely giddy over their success in repealing the law of supply and demand as it pertains to oil and gas and are now ready for an even more ambitious project.


Watcher's Council Nominations

Each week, the members of the Watcher's Council nominate one of their own posts and a second from outside the Council for consideration by other council members in a contest for best post. The Watcher publishes the results each Friday morning. The Watcher also has a process for anyone who would like to submit one of their posts for consideration as part of the weekly contest. You can find out more about that here. This week's nominations are:

Council Nominations:

1. Soccer Dad - Dear Mr Hoyt
This is an open letter from Soccer Dad decrying not mere media bias, but media willingness to unquestioningly accept spin and report false news on behalf of Palestinian causes and their unwillingness to even acknowledge this practice despite the mountains of evidence. He raises several examples, including that of the infamous al Dura affair.

2. Done With Mirrors - In Which It Gets Worse
I have heard of the dumbing down of America, but the personal example DWM gives from his observation of his son's American History class is simply incredible - and not in a good way. I wonder how we increase teacher performance across the spectrum of our public education?

3. Wolf Howling - Cowbama Diplomacy and Iran
Obama's plans for unilateral, Presidential level diplomacy combined with his complete lack of undersanding of the Iranian regime portend an existential disaster.

4. Rhymes With Right - An Honest Assesment of the MSM's Problem
Thank God for the even handed and responsible journalistic ethics . . . of bloggers to balance out the sensationalist MSM.

5. Hillbilly White Trash - Reflections on the State of the Republic
What would it take for there to be blood in the streets? This is an interesting question and while I think we are far and away from such a tipping point in this country, I look at Britain today and ask myself, why isin't there blood in the streets over there?

6. Bookworm Room - Why Jews Are Right To Suspect Obama's Advisers
An insightful post from BR that hits the nail on the head. You can evaluate the strength of her argument by her opponents responses - labels and rhetorical devices to end the debate.

7. The Colossus of Rhodey - Will History Redeem President Bush?
CoR thinks that history will not treat George Bush kindly because he chose to stay in Iraq after no WMD's were found. I always thought at the time that the WMD argument was less a convincing reason to go into Iraq than the necessity to establish a reasonably functioning and secular democracy that may well alter the trajectory of the entire Middle East. I could not disagree more with CoR's reasoning or conclusions on this one.

8. The Glittering Eye - Strange Device
A fascinating and thorough review of some of the major themes in a book by Walter Mead, God and Gold. I have not previously read Mead, but I now intend to do so.

9. Cheat Seeking Missiles - Peacekeepers Raping Children... Again
A very troubling post on an oft repeated problem - UN Peace Keeping forces out of control and engaging in the rape and sexual abuse of children without any repercussions.

10. The Education Wonks - Say Goodnight, Hillary
EW has had more than his fill of the Clinton clan.

11. Joshuapundit - Looking At The Last Full Measure Of Devotion
JP ponders what drives our soldiers towards sacrifice in war and asks us to remember the benefits conferred on us by all who have served.

12. The Razor - Memorial Day 2008
The Razor honors our war dead and those who served on Memorial Day by looking at the actions of one who served in WWII.

Non-council Nominations:

1. Iowahawk - Return to Sender

2. Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal - Deep Thoughts with Biggie Smalls

3. Pajamas Media - An Open Letter to Senator Obama on Iran

4. UrbanGrounds - Democratic Congress Votes to Defund the Future of Military Prepardness

5. The Brussels Journal - The State of Englishness

6. The Paragraph Farmer - Over Red Coffee Cans and Cigarettes

7. The New York Sun - Siege of the Ivory Tower

8. The Moderate Voice - Madonna of China: Chinese Policewoman Saves Orphan Babies' Lives by Breastfeeding Them

9. Bottom Line Up Front - Obama Excludes Military Service as Way to Serve Country in Memorial Day Weekend Commencement Speech

10. Classical Values - Remembrances

11. Big Lizards - All the Views They Spit Into Print

12. Outside the Beltway - Libertarian Party Embraces Big Tent

13. Eternity Road - Unavoidable Sadness

14. Dodgeblogium - Google Earth Mysteries


Taheri On Talking With Mullahs

I wrote a post several days ago (see here) on the many naive aspects of Obama's "new" plan to unilaterally and unconditionally - but with preperation - engage Iran's theocracy. Iranian columnist Amir Taheri weighs in on the same topic today, making many of the same points.


This from Amir Taheri in the WSJ today:

In a report released this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency expressed "serious concern" that the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to conceal details of its nuclear weapons program, even as it defies U.N. demands to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama – in lieu of a policy for dealing with the growing threat posed by the Islamic Republic – repeats what has become a familiar refrain within his party: Let's talk to Iran.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with wanting to talk to an adversary. But Mr. Obama and his supporters should not pretend this is "change" in any real sense. Every U.S. administration in the past 30 years, from Jimmy Carter's to George W. Bush's, has tried to engage in dialogue with Iran's leaders. They've all failed.

Just two years ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice proffered an invitation to the Islamic Republic for talks, backed by promises of what one of her advisers described as "juicy carrots" with not a shadow of a stick. At the time, I happened to be in Washington. Early one morning, one of Ms. Rice's assistants read the text of her statement (which was to be issued a few hours later) to me over the phone, asking my opinion. I said the move won't work, but insisted that the statement should mention U.S. concern for human- rights violations in Iran.

"We don't wish to set preconditions," was the answer. "We could raise all issues once they have agreed to talk." I suppose Ms. Rice is still waiting for Iran's mullahs to accept her invitation, even while Mr. Obama castigates her for not wanting to talk.

The Europeans invented the phrase "critical dialogue" to describe their approach to Iran. They negotiated with Tehran for more than two decades, achieving nothing.

. . . The Islamic Republic does not know how to behave: as a nation-state, or as the embodiment of a revolution with universal messianic pretensions. Is it a country or a cause?

A nation-state wants concrete things such as demarcated borders, markets, access to natural resources, security, influence, and, of course, stability – all things that could be negotiated with other nation-states. A revolution, on the other hand, doesn't want anything in particular because it wants everything.

. . . The problem that the world, including the U.S., has today is not with Iran as a nation-state but with the Islamic Republic as a revolutionary cause bent on world conquest under the guidance of the "Hidden Imam." The following statement by the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the "Supreme leader" of the Islamic Republic – who Mr. Obama admits has ultimate power in Iran -- exposes the futility of the very talks Mr. Obama proposes: "You have nothing to say to us. We object. We do not agree to a relationship with you! We are not prepared to establish relations with powerful world devourers like you! The Iranian nation has no need of the United States, nor is the Iranian nation afraid of the United States. We . . . do not accept your behavior, your oppression and intervention in various parts of the world."

So, how should one deal with a regime of this nature? The challenge for the U.S. and the world is finding a way to help Iran absorb its revolutionary experience, stop being a cause, and re-emerge as a nation-state.

Whenever Iran has appeared as a nation-state, others have been able to negotiate with it, occasionally with good results. In Iraq, for example, Iran has successfully negotiated a range of issues with both the Iraqi government and the U.S. Agreement has been reached on conditions under which millions of Iranians visit Iraq each year for pilgrimage. An accord has been worked out to dredge the Shatt al-Arab waterway of three decades of war debris, thus enabling both neighbors to reopen their biggest ports. Again acting as a nation-state, Iran has secured permission for its citizens to invest in Iraq.

When it comes to Iran behaving as the embodiment of a revolutionary cause, however, no agreement is possible. There will be no compromise on Iranian smuggling of weapons into Iraq. Nor will the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps agree to stop training Hezbollah-style terrorists in Shiite parts of Iraq. Iraq and its allies should not allow the mullahs of Tehran to export their sick ideology to the newly liberated country through violence and terror.

As a nation-state, Iran is not concerned with the Palestinian issue and has no reason to be Israel's enemy. As a revolutionary cause, however, Iran must pose as Israel's arch-foe to sell the Khomeinist regime's claim of leadership to the Arabs.

As a nation, Iranians are among the few in the world that still like the U.S. As a revolution, however, Iran is the principal bastion of anti-Americanism. Last month, Tehran hosted an international conference titled "A World Without America." Indeed, since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, Iran has returned to a more acute state of revolutionary hysteria. Mr. Ahmadinejad seems to truly believe the "Hidden Imam" is coming to conquer the world for his brand of Islam. He does not appear to be interested in the kind of "carrots" that Secretary Rice was offering two years ago and Mr. Obama is hinting at today.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is talking about changing the destiny of mankind, while Mr. Obama and his foreign policy experts offer spare parts for Boeings or membership in the World Trade Organization. Perhaps Mr. Obama is unaware that one of Mr. Ahmadinejad's first acts was to freeze Tehran's efforts for securing WTO membership because he regards the outfit as "a nest of conspiracies by Zionists and Americans."

. . . The Islamic Republic might welcome unconditional talks, but only if the U.S. signals readiness for unconditional surrender. Talk about talking to Iran and engaging Mr. Ahmadinejad cannot hide the fact that, three decades after Khomeinist thugs raided the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, America does not understand what is really happening in Iran.

Read the entire article.