As we have noted here many times. From AFP (thanks to Freckles):
The US administration underestimated the difficulty of having Iraq’s Sunnis and Shiites agree on key national reconciliation measures, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates admitted Thursday.At the end of a regional tour, he called the withdrawal of the main Sunni bloc from the Baghdad government “discouraging.”
Gates told reporters as he flew back to Washington that gains made in security in western Iraq’s Anbar province and at the local level were cause for optimism, but he acknowledged they were offset by divisions at the top.
“In some ways we probably all underestimated the depth of mistrust and how difficult it would be for these guys to come together on legislation, which let’s face it is not some kind of secondary thing,” he said.
“The kinds of legislation they’re talking about will establish the framework of Iraq for the future so it’s almost like our constitutional convention,” Gates said.
“And the difficulty in coming to grips with those we may all have underestimated six or eight months ago,” he said.
A faction within America always denigrates our country, seeing our enemies through rose colored lenses and finding only oppression at home. The Long War we face with Radical Islam is matched by the long war against this bloc.
Color me cynical, but I think that the fix is in on Iraq. In September Gen. Petraeus will report on the surge and declare a qualified victory. Then President Bush will start drawing down the troops. Slowly.
Everyone will feel betrayed. The conservative base will feel that our steadfast support for the war was all in vain.
The netroots will continue to demand immediate withdrawal. Expect the Democrats in Congress to keep offering a Resolution of the Week to support the troops and bring them home now.
It would be easy in this situation to get discouraged, but we are conservatives and we are better than that. This is a point worth making because right now the Conservatives in Britain are having a total meltdown over a couple of minor political setbacks.
But if we are not to panic like our formerly stiff-upper-lipped cousins across the Atlantic we must “do something.” I recommend we “do” some strategic thinking. As we retreat from Iraq we should think about the big picture.
The great lesson that we should learn from the first six years of the 9/11 era is this. If it weren’t for our liberal friends here in the United States and in Europe, the terrorists would be nothing more than a bunch of Saudi rich kids and Iranian regime thugs out for a rumble.
What makes these Saudi rich kids and their pals world-historical is the understanding they get from the left and the publicity they get from the media. Exhibit A is the CNN-YouTube questioner who asked the Democratic presidential candidates:
“Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?”
Earth to YouTube: The gap that divides us from the thug dictators is not a lack of negotiations; it is the question of power. For a dictator power isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.
The left always seems to be swooning over the latest gang of designer thugs. Right now university book stores are featuring dozens of earnest attempts to understand Islam. Back in the 1980s the lefty Sandalistas were flocking to Sandinista Nicaragua. In the 1970s the left was busy understanding the rage of well-born terrorists in the Weathermen, the Italian Red Brigades, and the Baader-Meinhof gang. A decade before that it was Castro and the execrable Che Guevara. All of those thugs would have got nowhere without the fawning of the luvvies on the left.
You might think that these dictator lovers are evil, and you might be right. But conservative philosopher Roger Scruton talks instead, in A Political Philosophy, of a kind of sickness: “oikophobia.” It’s a fancy Greek neologism for “educated derision at… national loyalty,” always siding with “‘them’ against ‘us,’ and the felt need to denigrate the customs, cultures, and institutions that are demonstrably ‘ours.’” In short, as Scruton writes, it is “the repudiation of inheritance and home.”
Modern conservatism was founded by Edmund Burke upon the opposite idea. It regards “our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be transmitted to our posterity” without repudiation.
The great challenge for us, conservatives and libertarians, people inspired by the spirit of democratic capitalism, is the challenge of the “oikophobes.” It means that the war on terror is not finally a war with Islamic terrorism, but an episode in the long war within the west that began in 1789. It is the war between the heirs of Burke and the heirs of Rousseau and Robespierre, between ordered liberty and the “oikophobic” alliance between rational experts, progressive activists, designer revolutionaries and out-and-out thugs.
The “oikophobic” alliance presents a Janus face to the world. It claims to be the very highest and best in human evolution, committed to equality, sharing and caring. In pursuit of this ideal it advocates constantly for inclusiveness and against divisiveness. Yet it conducts its politics according to the crudest techniques of the demagogue, setting worker against boss, renter against owner, woman against man, poor against wealthy, secularist against believer, black against white, gown against town.
And its institutions–the schools, universities, foundations, arts communities, and newsrooms of the world–are the most exclusive and divisive around. Conservatives and Christians need not apply.
But for all their faults you would think that the “oikophobes” would be willing to help conservatives defeat the homophobes, the racists, and the patriarchs of the Middle East.
But they won’t. They are “oikophobes” and they believe in taking the side of “them” against “us.”
Christopher Chantrill is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his roadtothemiddleclass.com and usgovernmentspending.com. His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.
The United States is now employing our former enemies to fight Al-Qaeda. This new approach, especially noticeable in the provinces of Anbar and Diyala, is paying off. We shouldn’t be surprised. History has ample precedent.
A number of former enemies – Sunni and Shi’a groups – of the American presence in Iraq have already signed on and are guided by three simple rules: they must promise to stop fighting American forces; agree to attack Al-Qaeda forces; and finally, begin a gradual rapprochement and cooperation with Iraqi military and police forces.
Bringing former insurgents into the fold is a mark not only of progress but of sound, practical thinking, a good grasp of historical precedent, and a much better understanding of local politics. Pols everywhere agree: all politics is local.
U.S. commanders have in fact realized that the best weapon against a guerrilla is frequently a former guerrilla. Except to the political naifs who get their history lessons from Showtime this is not a new concept, but one which has been used by the U.S. Army — indeed by a number of armies — in the past, and frequently with remarkable success.
When the fascist government in Italy finally collapsed, some of the fiercest fighters on the Allied side were Italian soldiers who but weeks before had fought alongside their German counterparts. The Italians, however, had come to fear and loathe their Nazi allies. It hadn’t taken too long for them to realize who their real enemies were. Eager to come to blows with their former oppressors they sought to fight alongside Allied forces. Allied leadership was practical enough to recognize the potential contributions of Italian fighters. Rather than disarm these former enemies or shift them to the sidelines, we took strategic and tactical advantage of our new allies’ hard won experience, their intimate knowledge of Wehrmacht operations, and their enthusiasm to pay back their Nazi overlords.
Payback is by no means a new concept. When Hernando Cortez conquered what is now Mexico he never had more than 500 Spanish soldiers under his command. Certainly the horses, steel swords and primitive muskets gave the Spaniards a limited advantage, but even these would have been fairly useless in confronting an enemy numbering literally in the tens of thousands. Instead, Cortez quickly realized that while the Aztecs were the big dog on the block, they had not made any friends in the region. Arrogant to a fault, rapacious and brutal to neighboring tribes, the Aztec Empire looted and murdered its neighbors without compunction. They herded thousands of captured subjects back to Tenotchtitlan for the sole purpose of butchering them to appease bloodthirsty gods. (Does the behavioral pattern sound familiar?) When the Spaniards arrived they were delighted to welcome the thousands upon thousands of local tribesmen who flocked to their banners in the hope of getting back at their Aztec overlords. This approach worked to a fault. In record time the vaunted and vicious Aztec Empire ceased to exist.
American soldiers in the field were quick to recognize the potential of the disenchanted and yet fierce members of Native American warrior sects. The majority of scouts for the US Army during the extensive Sioux Wars of the 1870′s through 1890′s for example were not, as Hollywood might have us believe, United States soldiers. Instead they were largely Arikara, Shoshone, Pawnee, Winnebago, and Crow scouts. All of these indigenous people knew and hated the Sioux. The Sioux were fellow Indians to be sure, but not well loved by those who by necessity or tradition lived near them. It was a group of Shoshone and Crow scouts who in June of 1876 first discovered and then blunted a massive assault by Crazy Horse’s warriors on Brigadier General George Crook’s encampment along the Rosebud. A week later, George Custer would use Crow and Arikara scouts to discover a large encampment of Sioux led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. Unfortunately for him and many of his men Custer would dismiss the Crow’s declaration that the camp contained “…more warriors than you have bullets.” A cavalier disregard of his scouts’ advice proved disastrous in this event.
The following year the Sioux themselves would actually volunteer to track and fight the Nez Perces. And in later years General George Crook would be faced with the task of bringing to bay Geronimo’s fierce marauding Apaches. No pushovers, Crook described the Apaches as “the tigers of the human species.” Knowing the difficulties facing him Crook quickly enlisted the aid of other Apache warriors as scouts. It was the Apache scouts who finally located and brought Geronimo to bay. They knew the enemy and the terrain intimately. Apaches would continue to serve as scouts for the Army as a separate unit until as late as 1942. In almost every significant case, throughout the Indian wars it was the Indian Scouts who led American forces to the enemy in question.
We should keep this in mind when congressmen and news commentators begin to question a military use of former guerrillas against Al-Qaeda or the Mahdi Army. Perhaps it has taken us some time to relearn the lessons of history but this may just be the approach that our commitment to Iraq requires. Our newly acquired allies have learned their lessons the hard way. They have come to realize that the true enemies of Iraq and the Iraqi people are not American GIs — instead they are fanatical Saudis, Syrians, Egyptians, Chechens, Palestinians and Iranians who have come to feed their blood thirsty gods with the bodies of Iraqis. Or they are criminals and murderers who thrive on the chaos of war at the expense of those who would work and live in peace rather than raise their children in a climate of fear and death.
What we must now strive to do is to not repeat our past grievous errors. Most Native American Indian scouts were woefully treated after they had served honorably and well. Disarmed, abused, returned to reservations, their treatment amounts to nothing less than a national disgrace. In our own history General Crook, in a rare display of integrity, resigned his commission when his promises to his Apache scouts were broken by a duplicitous government in Washington.
But I don’t worry about the generals, it’s the politicians who bear careful watching.
Frederick J. Chiaventone – retired Army officer and award-winning novelist and screenwriter taught counter-insurgency at the Army’s staff college.
Monday July 30,2007
FILLED with contempt for the rebellious British colonies on the other side of the Atlantic, the 18th-century wit, lexicographer and writer Dr Johnson once said: “I can love any man but an American.”
More than 200 years later, that is the attitude that prevails within Europe’s liberal elite, where sneering at the
US passes for a political philosophy. Self-indulgent Left-wingers work themselves into a frenzy of righteous indignation over every supposed failing by the Bush government while ignoring human rights abuses committed by genuinely tyrannical regimes across the world.
They attack the US over climate change but utter no condemnation of far worse pol-luters such as China and Russia. They rage against Guantanamo Bay and the Iraq War but say nothing about the barbarism that radical Islam inspires.
Because of their neurosis about so-called US imperialism, they end up siding with terrorists who are filled with loathing for the concept of freedom. They treat the US President as a darker threat than Mugabe, Putin or Bin Laden.
On a personal level Gordon Brown, now in the US for his first summit with George Bush, appears to have none of this puerile animosity towards America. Indeed, throughout his political career he has, if anything, been even more pro-American than Tony Blair. Unlike many of the US’s more hysterical European critics, he has read widely about American history and has built friendships in US academia and the Democratic party.
Yet institutionalised schizophrenia is becoming a hallmark of the Brown reign. So he blathers about enhancing democracy but refuses a referendum on the EU constitution. He pledges to protect the environment but seeks a vast expansion in housebuilding.
The same contradictions lie at the heart of his policy towards the US. He claims he wants our “special relationship” to become stronger yet his Government appears to be moving in the opposite direction.
Earlier this month the International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander, a fawning acolyte of Brown’s since the early Nineties, signalled that British foreign policy should be driven by our links with the UN rather than the US.
In a comment interpreted as a dig at US military power, Alexander said: “In the 20th century, a country’s might was too often measured by what they could destroy. In the 21st, strength should be measured by what we can build together.”
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His apparent scorn for the US was wholly unjustified. Not only did America help to save Europe twice from German oppression but it was only through the generosity of the Marshall Plan that Europe was rebuilt after the Second World War. In recent years, it was the US that ended the conflict in the Balkans after Europe had dithered, while the Bush administration has been by far the greatest donor of funds to fight Aids in Africa.
But anti-Americanism has been even more obvious in the outpourings of new Foreign Office Minister Mark Malloch Brown, former UN deputy general secretary. A noisy critic of the US government, Malloch Brown has not only proclaimed that Britain will “no longer be joined at the hip” to America but has even mocked Mr Bush’s Christian faith. In the recent past he has attacked the US for its lack of support for the UN, for the robust nature of its free press and for the “extremism” of Washington.
Yet it is absurd to argue, as Alexander and Malloch Brown have done, that the UN is a greater force for good in the world than the US. The United Nations is a hopelessly extravagant, bureaucratic and incompetent organisation which spends its time sucking up to dictators while demanding yet more funding from the richer countries of the world.
And its recent record is a disgraceful one. For all its hollow rhetoric about compassion, it has presided over genocide in Rwanda, Darfur and Kosovo, while its oil-for-food programme with Iraq became a byword for corruption.
Anti-Americans are also fond of pretending that the EU could, like the UN, be an alternative source of global power. But this is just more wishful thinking. The EU is as wasteful and enfeebled as the UN.
Since the end of the Second World War, most European nations have retreated into the comfort zone of welfarism and appeasement of their enemies. They are not willing to fight to defend the values of their civilisation. In the face of Islamism or a resurgent Russia, they just wave the white flag.
Only America, with Britain as its ally, has shown the guts to defend democracy. For all the derision it has endured, the US has been a beacon of freedom. Central Europe would probably be under the jackboot of communism were it not for the heroic Cold War the US waged against Russia after 1945.
No nation in history has ever possessed the kind of wealth and military authority that the US now holds, yet it is a reflection of America’s democratic values that this power has been used not for imperial conquest but for the spread of liberty.
Even in the mistaken adventure in Iraq, America’s goal was to overthrow tyranny and bring democracy. The failure of this mission is a sorry testament to the lethal internecine feuding inspired by Islam.
The “special relationship” between Britain and America has been a far greater influence for good in the world than all the empty posturing of the UN and EU. We should cherish this link, not seek to undermine it.<!–
I’m a soldier; haven’t been in uniform in forty years but the six years of active duty I did serve and the ensuing thirty-plus years I’ve spent working with the U.S. military, instilled in me certain qualities and beliefs that have grown and persisted within me all these decades and provide me with the basis for my stance on the war on terror. I may now be only an armchair warrior, but I’m still a soldier. As such, I understand the value of a rapid counterattack when your enemy has struck and badly hurt you.
I say this as a brief, prefatory explanation of why I believe the Bush Administration has done the right thing in carrying the war on terror into the heart of terrorism itself. Yes, I know there are legions of liberals, so blinded by their certainty that the Supreme Court cheated Al Gore out of the presidency that they actually profess to believe that there were no ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq. To them I would say consider this: Syria had ties to Al Qaeda; Jordan had ties to Al Qaeda; Egypt had ties to Al Qaeda; Yemen had ties to Al Qaeda; Somalia had ties to Al Qaeda; Saudi Arabia had ties to Al Qaeda; the various Gulf monarchies had ties to Al Qaeda; Iran had ties to Al Qaeda; Pakistan had ties to Al Qaeda; Indonesia, the Philippines, North Korea and several of the former Soviet satellites under Muslim rule had ties to Al Qaeda.
About time. By Helene Cooper for the New York Times (thanks to Doc Washburn):
WASHINGTON, July 26 — During a high-level meeting in Riyadh in January, Saudi officials confronted a top American envoy with documents that seemed to suggest that Iraq’s prime minister could not be trusted.One purported to be an early alert from the prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, to the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr warning him to lie low during the coming American troop increase, which was aimed in part at Mr. Sadr’s militia. Another document purported to offer proof that Mr. Maliki was an agent of Iran.
The American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, immediately protested to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, contending that the documents were forged. But, said administration officials who provided an account of the exchange, the Saudis remained skeptical, adding to the deep rift between America’s most powerful Sunni Arab ally, Saudi Arabia, and its Shiite-run neighbor, Iraq.
Now, Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia’s counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that beyond regarding Mr. Maliki as an Iranian agent, the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow.
One senior administration official says he has seen evidence that Saudi Arabia is providing financial support to opponents of Mr. Maliki. He declined to say whether that support was going to Sunni insurgents because, he said, “That would get into disagreements over who is an insurgent and who is not.”
Indeed it would.
BAGHDAD – The top U.S. general and diplomat in Iraq warned on Thursday against cutting short the American troop buildup and suggested they would urge Congress in September to give President Bush’s strategy more time.
Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus, in separate Associated Press interviews at their offices in the U.S. Embassy on the banks of the Tigris, were careful not to define a timeframe for continuing the counterinsurgency strategy — and the higher U.S. troop levels — that began six months ago.
Still, Petraeus’ comments signaled that he would like to see a substantial U.S. combat force remain on its current course well into 2008 and perhaps beyond. He said that a drawdown from today’s level of 160,000 U.S. troops is coming but he would not say when.
Petraeus said he and his top deputy, Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, are working on how to carry out a reduction in the extra troops Bush ordered to Baghdad and to Anbar province. He said the drawdown would be done “over time, without undermining what we’ve fought to achieve.”
“There is a lot more that we certainly will try to do,” Petraeus said.
‘Its going to take longer’
With the American public’s patience wearing thin, many in Congress are pressing for a troop reduction soon. Bush has resisted, saying he is waiting to receive the advice of Petraeus and Crocker in September.
Pressed repeatedly on when he thought troop levels could be reduced and other U.S. involvement scaled back, Crocker said: “It’s going to take longer than September.”
He said he saw his mission as ensuring “we’re all looking at reality. I don’t think any service is done either in Iraq or the U.S. by saying, again, ‘It’s going to be OK by November.’ This is hard. There is tremendous damage that’s been done physically, politically, socially and it’s going to take time to repair.”
U.S. military officers have said in recent interviews that while troop levels should be determined as conditions evolve, they see little reason to remove the full 30,000 U.S. troop buildup before next summer. Some say they can foresee beginning some reductions by summer or earlier.
Petraeus said he would make his case in September, when he and Crocker are due to report to Congress on military and political progress and on their recommendations for the future.
He said the troop buildup has clearly established “tactical momentum,” meaning its more aggressive efforts to secure volatile neighborhoods in Baghdad and areas around the capital are succeeding. The bigger issue is whether those gains will lead to a stability that can be sustained over time.
“The surge enables us to turn the tide just a bit in key places,” the four-star general said in an hour-long interview.
Patraeus: Iraqi forces need training
Asked what more the U.S. military needs to accomplish to put Iraq on a steadier track, Petraeus ticked of a list that included furthering the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces, which are intended to gradually take over for U.S. forces, beginning in areas where security and political conditions allow.
“We want to make much more progress against al-Qaida. We would like to build on the early momentum from local groups rejecting al-Qaida and militias,” Petraeus said. We want to certainly not just sit on the violence in Baghdad neighborhoods and stabilize it but to create a way ahead that can be sustained by the Iraqis over time. We want to, where possible, frankly, to continue the process of handing off to Iraqis.”
‘Movie will keep on rolling’
Crocker spoke more directly of his conviction that the current strategy should be maintained — and about his concern that if the United States were to withdraw now Iraq would be plunged into a humanitarian disaster.
“It is not as though we can simply decide that we do not want to be involved anymore and the movie comes to an end,” he said. “The movie will keep on rolling in Iraq and in the region whether we’re here or not.
“I, for one, as someone who has spent decades in the Middle East, am deeply concerned about what could happen if we decide based on reasons other than conditions on the ground in Iraq that we simply don’t want to be involved anymore.”
He said the consequence could be inroads by the al-Qaida terrorist network, a consolidation of Iranian influence in Iraq, intervention by Turkey and other neighboring states, and a “massive human catastrophe.”
‘No … magic answers’
Sprinkled throughout his remarks were references to a need for patience in seeing Iraq through its current crisis.
“There are no easy, quick, magic answers at this stage,” he said.
Petraeus, who was installed as the top U.S. commander here in February as the troop buildup got under way, underscored his belief that the extra troops have produced the intended benefit of reducing sectarian murders, encouraging more Iraqis to help U.S. forces and squeezing extremist groups.
“Once you get the locals recognizing that you are going to be there a while, they then tell you” where insurgent forces are hiding, where they have placed roadside bombs and where they store weapons, he said.
The problem, at this stage, is that these developments have not led the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to push through key legislative measures and to move toward political reconciliation between the majority Shiites, the Kurds and the Sunnis who lost power when Saddam Hussein was toppled.
Petraeus said he believed the Sunnis are beginning to see their future in a different, more positive light.
They have “gotten a little bit past the point where they were the last few years, which was one of feeling disrespected, dispossessed, disappointed, disgusted, distressed, you name it, at their loss of power,” he said
Operation Phantom Thunder and the Baghdad Security Plan continue to place pressure on al Qaeda in Iraq, allied Sunni insurgent groups, the Mahdi Army and the Iranian-backed Special Group. In Baghdad, junior al Qaeda in Iraq operatives are reportedly cooperating with Coalition forces and a series of car bombs hit a Shia area of the capital. In the Belts, U.S. and Iraqi forces maintain aggressive operations against al Qaeda and insurgent cells as both Sunni and Shia tribal leaders in and around Taji have banded together to fight the Mahdi Army and al Qaeda. Meanwhile, the U.S. captured two more members of the Special Groups and have indicated that Iran is now smuggling Chinese made weapons into Iraq.