Iraq Pulls Police Brigade Out of Service


Oct 4, 7:15 PM (ET)

By DAVID RISING BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Iraqi authorities pulled a brigade of about 700 policemen out of service Wednesday in its biggest move ever to uproot troops linked to death squads, aiming to signal the government’s seriousness in cleansing Baghdad of sectarian violence. The government move came amid steadily mounting violence, particularly in the capital. A U.S. military spokesman said the past week had seen the highest number of car bombs and roadside bombs in Baghdad this year. Four U.S. soldiers patrolling in Baghdad were killed by gunmen on Wednesday, the U.S. military said, also announcing the deaths of two other soldiers a day earlier in Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk. The deaths brought to 21 the number of Americans killed in combat since Saturday. The suspension of the police brigade was the first time the Iraqi government has taken such dramatic action to discipline security forces over possible links to militiamen, though some individual soldiers have been investigated in the past. Baghdad’s Sunnis widely fear the Shiite-led police, saying they are infiltrated by militias and accusing them of cooperating with death squads who snatch Sunnis and kill them. The brigade was responsible for a region of northeast Baghdad with a slight Shiite majority, where gunmen on Sunday kidnapped 24 workers from a frozen food factory. Hours later, the bodies of seven of the workers were found dumped in a district miles away. Sunni politicians have said all those who were kidnapped were Sunnis. They blamed Shiite militias for the abduction and accused police of allowing the gunmen to escape and move freely with their captives. Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, the chief ministry spokesman, said the brigade was being investigated because it “didn’t respond quickly” to the kidnapping. The top U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, said the police brigade in the area had been ordered to stand down and was undergoing retraining. He said some were being investigated and that any found to have militia ties would be removed. “The government of Iraq was very clear as we go through this process that if that (unit) comes out at 30 percent of what it went in with, that’s OK with the government of Iraq,” he told a Baghdad news conference. “There is clear evidence that there was some complicity in allowing death squad elements to move freely when, in fact, they were supposed to have been impeding their movement,” Caldwell said. The U.S. military appeared to have a key role in getting the brigade sidelined. Caldwell said problems with the unit had emerged during a broad brigade-by-brigade assessment of police in Baghdad carried out by the U.S. military over the summer – and the decision was made by the Interior Ministry to act Tuesday. U.S. forces have been carrying out raids and arrests of militia members for the past month as part of a wide-scale U.S.-Iraqi sweep of Baghdad launched in August, which has seen the number of American troops in the capital double. Forces have been moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, searching houses, confiscating weapons and arranging services like water and electricity for residents in an attempt to stop sectarian violence and insurgent attacks. The rise in U.S. deaths in recent days may be linked to their increased presence in the capital, commanders have said. But at the same time, Sunnis have accused the Shiite-led government of balking at sending its security forces against the Shiite militias, many of which are linked to parties in the coalition. The suspended brigade had about 650-700 members, and the Iraqi Interior Ministry said Tuesday that its commander of the unit, a lieutenant colonel, has been detained for investigation. The major general who oversees the brigade and two others in the area has been suspended temporarily and ordered transferred. Khalaf said a random selection of troops in the suspended unit were being investigated for ties to militias. The sectarian spiral of revenge killings between Shiites and Sunnis has become the deadliest violence in Iraq, with thousands slain in recent months. “Over the past three months, murders and executions (by death squads) have caused the majority of civilian deaths in Iraq,” Caldwell said. The violence has also threatened to undermine the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as Shiite and Sunni parties in his coalition accuse each other of backing militias. On Monday, al-Maliki announced a new security plan to unite the feuding parties, creating local committees in which Sunnis and Shiites will work together to manage efforts to stop the violence on a district-by-district level. But contentious details of the plan still must be worked out – and Shiite and Sunni parties for a second day on Wednesday put off negotiations. At the same time, Sunni-led insurgents have continued their attacks targeting civilians, Iraqi officials and U.S. and Iraqi troops. Car bombs, as well as other explosions and shootings, killed 34 people across the country Wednesday. In the deadliest attack, a string of two bombs and an explosive-packed vehicle blew up in a district of stores and auto shops in a mainly Christian neighborhood of Baghdad, killing 12 people and wounding 56, police said. Hours later, after sunset and the end of the day’s Ramadan fast, gunmen opened fire on a popular cafe in an overwhelmingly Shiite district of southeast Baghdad, killing four patrons and wounding seven others. Caldwell said the number of car bombs and roadside bombs that went off or had been found and defused over the past week was the highest this year. He declined to give firm numbers, but said, “The trend line has been up over the last couple of months.” But he also said the military has killed or captured an increasing number of suspected members of al-Qaida in Iraq, the most feared Sunni insurgent group. In September, 110 al-Qaida suspects were killed and 520 detained – including a driver of the group’s leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, captured on Sept. 28.  

W. Va. Lawmaker Embarasssed by Photos — State Sen. Randy White, a Webster County Democrat

W. Va. Lawmaker Embarasssed by Photos
The Associated Press
Wednesday, October 4, 2006; 11:52 AM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A state senator said he is evaluating whether to continue his bid for a second term after a Charleston television station aired revealing pictures of him last week.

“My family has urged me not to withdraw from the election and I will work with them to make a decision in the immediate future,” State Sen. Randy White, a Webster County Democrat, said in a letter to newspapers in his district.

An apologetic White also wrote that he was “shocked” and “horribly embarrassed” after WCHS-TV aired photos depicting him and at least two other men wearing only body paint.

“The pictures were taken approximately two years ago in private and were stolen from my personal computer,” said White, 51, a married father of three. “I am not sure why they were given to the media, but I must assume for obvious political reasons.”

WCHS said it received the photos anonymously on a compact disc. The various photos, censored by the station, were shown for about 80 seconds during a 5-minute news segment alleging White was the apparent victim of a blackmail plot. The station aired the segment during several newscasts last week.

White did not mention extortion during a brief Monday interview with The Associated Press or in Tuesday’s letter. White wrote that he had been working with his family to overcome a “personal identification situation” and to overcome depression for which he has been treated through medication for over a year.

“I am a religious person and have been for some months praying to God to help my family and me through this tragic and troubling episode in my life,” the letter said.

In its news segment, WCHS said it had reported the disc and its contents to the FBI.

White served three terms in the House of Delegates before winning his seat in the 11th Senate District in 2002.

Republican Harold “Pete” Sigler is challenging White in the November election. Sigler did not immediately respond to messages requesting comment Tuesday.

Who Knew Congressman Foley Was a Closeted Democrat?

The Philosopher and the Fatwa

The Philosopher and the Fatwa
By Robert Spencer
| October 2, 2006

It has happened again. On the heels of global Muslim rage against Pope Benedict XVI – which led to riots and three killings of Christians – a teacher in France has gone into hiding after receiving death threats. His offense? He published a column in the French newspaper Le Figaro in which he characterized the Muslim prophet Muhammad as “a merciless war chief, plunderer, slaughterer of Jews and a polygamist.”

Redeker said that one of the threats he received stated: “You will never feel secure on this earth. One billion, three hundred thousand Muslims are ready to kill you.” As the death threats poured in, everyone abandoned Redeker. The teacher himself noted that France’s education ministry “has not even contacted me, has not deigned to get in touch to see if I need any help.” The senior editor of Le Figaro, Pierre Rousselin, declared on Al-Jazeera that he had been mistaken to publish Redeker’s article, and hastened to assure the Islamic world that the article did not reflect the opinion of the paper. It was unclear what exactly those who are threatening Redeker are upset about. Were they contending that he had lied about Muhammad? If so, they must contend with the fact that many Muslims around the world seem to agree, unapologetically, that Muhammad was “a merciless war chief, plunderer, slaughterer of Jews and a polygamist.” As I explain in my forthcoming book The Truth About Muhammad, mujahedin throughout the world see the Prophet of Islam as the personification of the qualities they are trying to embody. They have provided abundant evidence of this in recent years: 

·        Merciless war chief: On September 5, 2003, Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris invoked one of Muhammad’s battles, an expedition against the Byzantine empire known as the Battle of Tabouk, when speaking of the Iraq war in a sermon broadcast by the Palestinian Authority: “If we go back in the time tunnel 1400 years, we will find that history repeats itself…. Byzantium represents America in the west…. America will collapse, as Byzantium collapsed in the west….The Prophet [Muhammad] could, by means of unbroken ranks, conquer Byzantium, the greatest power compared to today’s America — and this without a single martyr falling from among the Muslims….The Prophet could, by means of the unity of the Muslim ranks and its awakening, defeat the America of that time….America is our No. 1 enemy, and we see it as our No. 1 enemy as long as we learn from the lessons of the Battle of Tabouk [which took place in October 630 AD]: ‘Make ready for them whatever you can of armed strength and of mounted pickets’ [Koran 8:60]. We are prepared and ready, but victory is from Allah….”[i]  

On November 21, 2003, Muslims poured out of the Maiduguri Road Central Mosque after Friday prayers in the Nigerian city of Kaduna, demanding the implementation of Sharia law and distributing flyers stating: “The only solution is Jihad, the type of jihad put into practise by Prophet Muhammed and exemplified by Shehu Usman Dan Fodio and the late Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran. We Muslims should unite and embrace this concept of jihad that will undoubtedly empower us to destroy oppression and oppressors, and in its place establish Islam.”[ii] 

In October 2004, Sheikh Aamer Bin Abdallah Al-Aamer wrote this in the Al-Qaeda online journal Sawt al-Jihad: “Perform the Jihad against your enemies with your [own two] hands, sacrifice your souls and your property in fighting your enemy, as an imitation of [the acts of] your Prophet [Muhammad] in the month of Ramadan [and in order to] enrage your enemies.”[iii] 

Fawwaz bin Muhammad Al-Nashami, the commander of the jihad group that killed twenty-two people in a jihad attack in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, on May 29, 2004, said that he acted in accord with Muhammad’s wishes for Arabia: “We are Mujahideen, and we want the Americans. We have not come to aim a weapon at the Muslims, but to purge the
Arabian Peninsula, according to the will of our Prophet Muhammad, of the infidels and the polytheists who are killing our brothers in
Afghanistan and
Iraq….We began to comb the site looking for infidels. We found Filipino Christians. We cut their throats and dedicated them to our brothers the Mujahideen in the Philippines. [Likewise], we found Hindu engineers and we cut their throats too, Allah be praised. That same day, we purged Muhammad’s land of many Christians and polytheists.”[iv]

In the run-up to the 2004 American presidential election, a Muslim preacher invoked Muhammad to denounce democracy: “Our Prophet did not run for office in any election….He did not win any political debate. [Instead] he won the war against the infidel.”[v] 

In a January 2005 article in Arab News, columnist Adil Salahi reminded his readers that Muhammad never made war on a people without first inviting them to convert to Islam: “During the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) lifetime the Muslim community had to fight many battles, because there were several sources of danger and many opponents who were keen to suppress the rising voice of the Islamic message. The Prophet made sure that in none of these battles the Muslims would exceed the limits of what is lawful in Islam….[H]e would not launch an attack without alerting the enemy and calling on them to accept Islam and live in peace with the Muslim state.”[vi] 

London Muslim leader Hani Al-Sibaai in February 2005 justified the slaughters being perpetrated by Al-Zarqawi’s mujahedin in Iraq: “Do these people base themselves on Islamic law or not? They claim that they do, and to support it, they say that slaughtering appeared in a hadith by the Prophet, which was pronounces authentic by Sheik Ahmad Shaker. The Prophet told the Quraysh tribe: ‘I have brought slaughter upon you,’ making this gesture. But these are religious issues that may be disputed….[T]he Prophet drove nails into and gouged out the eyes of people from the ‘Urayna Tribe. They were merely a group of thieves who stole from sheep herders, and the Prophet drove nails into them and threw them into the Al-Hrara area, and left them there to die. He blinded them and cut off their opposite legs and arms. This is what the Prophet did on a trifling matter – let alone in war.”[vii] 

·        Plunderer: On March 28, 2003, the Palestinian Sheikh Muhammad Abu Al-Hunud warned in another sermon broadcast over Palestinian Authority television against those who would attempt to “mess with Allah’s book, to Americanize the region, Americanize the religion, Americanize the Koran, Americanize Muhammad’s message….” Any doubt that he meant by this that the Qur’an and Muhammad’s message would be stripped of their violent components were dispelled when he prayed about the Americans in Iraq: “Allah, make their possessions a booty for the Muslims, Allah, annihilate them and their weapons, Allah, make their children orphans and their women widows….”[viii] 

As late as November 2003, the website of the Islamic Affairs Department (IAD) of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, D.C. contained exhortations to Muslims to wage violent jihad in emulation of Muhammad, and quoted Muhammad’s words about plunder: “Whoever of My slaves comes out to fight in My way seeking My pleasure, I guarantee him that I will compensate his suffering with reward and booty (during his lifetime) and if he dies, I would forgive him, have mercy on him and let him enter Paradise.”[ix] 

·        Slaughterer of Jews: A jihadist explaining that the Israeli/Palestinian struggle was more than just a nationalist conflict over land declared: “But all of these people don’t realize that our struggle with the Jews goes way back, ever since the first Islamic state was established in Madeenah with Muhammad (SAWS) the Messenger sent to all of mankind, as its leader. Allaah has related to us in the Qur’ân, the reality of the Jews’ malice and hatred for the ummah of Islaam and Tawheed, as he says: ‘You will surely find that the people with the most enmity towards the believers are the Jews and the polytheists.’ (Surah Al-Maa’idah: 82) [Qur’an 5:82].[x]


In July 2006 a writer on a British Muslim Internet forum declared: “I’m so fed up with these dirty, filthy Israeli dogs. May Allah curse them and destroy them all, and may they face the same fate as Banu Qurayzah!”[xi] This was an Arabian Jewish tribe that was massacred on Muhammad’s orders, and with his participation, after he came to believe that they had betrayed him. Muhammad’s first biographer, Ibn Ishaq, puts the number of those killed at “600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900.”[xii] 

·        Polygamist. It is not disputed by anyone that Muhammad had many wives. Muslim apologetic websites do not deny the fact, but celebrate it: Islam Online says of Muhammad’s wives that “they gave advice to their husband when he needed it, went with him to battle to nurse the wounded, accompanied him on his travels. They preserved the memory of intimate details of their married life in order to educate succeeding generations in the rules of purification and relations between spouses.” 

These are not the slanders of “Islamophobes.” These are the statements of people who consider themselves to be pious and knowledgeable Muslims, who wouldn’t dream of insulting Muhammad. It is noteworthy also that at least those who spoke in televised sermons seemed to assume that their Muslim audience would also know and accept that Muhammad behaved the way they say he did. Nor were there any protests raised against these or similar statements by other Muslims anywhere in the Islamic world. So why is Robert Redeker in fear for his life after threats for saying, in effect, what many Muslims around the world themselves say? It would appear that his chief crime was in saying these things as a non-Muslim, and in a disapproving way. Those Muslims who have issued threats to Redeker seem to be attempting to extend the traditional Islamic legal tenet forbidding non-Muslims in the Islamic state to insult Allah or Muhammad, or to hold any critical discussion of Muhammad by non-Muslims. It seems to be acceptable for non-Muslims to speak about Muhammad only if they speak as if they were believers, or with the sensibilities of believers paramount in their considerations. Even the noted moderate Muslim spokesman Akbar Ahmed of American University recommends something like this when speaking of the rage against Pope Benedict XVI. Ahmed hedges his support for free speech with an appeal to be sensitive to the consequences of speaking out: “Although I totally support free speech and freedom of expression, and have been saying so publicly, all of us need to be sensitive to the culture and traditions of other faiths. I am not talking of a purely academic or idealistic discussion but the possibility of people losing their lives as a result of some perceived attack on faith made across the world. I believe that the lives lost and the properties destroyed—including mosques and churches—after the Danish cartoons controversy erupted could have been avoided had there been people of greater wisdom and compassion at the start of the crisis.” (Ahmed’s “mosques and churches” statement is curious, since those who were angered by the Pope’s statement destroyed churches in Gaza, the West Bank, and Nigeria. They destroyed no mosques.) 

Ahmed seems to be saying in effect that non-Muslims should tread lightly about Islamic topics simply because violence might ensue. But if someone reacts violently to another’s words, particularly if those words would be inoffensive coming from someone else, the fault lies with the one who is reacting, not with the speaker. The threats to Redeker, following so closely on the global outrage at the Pope, are yet another example of the jihadist attempt to frighten and intimidate the West into chastened silence. 

That makes it all the more crucial, in these perilous times, for free people to speak out.

[i] Steven Stalinsky, “Palestinian Authority Sermons 2000-2003,” Middle East Media Research Institute, Special Report No. 24, December 26, 2003.

[ii] Adeyeye Joseph and Agaju Madugba, “Bomb Scare in Lagos,” This Day, November 22, 2003.

[iii] “Al-Qa’ida Internet Magazine Sawt Al-Jihad Calls to Intensify Fighting During Ramadan — ‘the Month of Jihad,’” Middle East Media Research Institute, Special Dispatch No. 804, October 22, 2004.

[iv] “Commander of the Khobar Terrorist Squad Tells the Story of the Operation,” Middle East Media Research Institute Special Dispatch Series No. 731, June 15, 2004.   

[v] Amir Taheri, “Kerry Wins The Arab Vote,” New York Post, August 18, 2004.

[vi] Adil Salahi, “No Fighting Before Explaining Islam,” Arab News, January 31, 2005.

[vii] “London Islamist Dr. Hani Al-Sibaai Justifies Slaughters in Iraq: The Prophet Muhammad Used to Slaughter As Well,” Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) Clip No. 576, February 22, 2005.

[viii] Steven Stalinsky, “Palestinian Authority Sermons 2000-2003,” Middle East Media Research Institute, Special Report No. 24, December 26, 2003.

[ix] Steven Stalinsky, “The ‘Islamic Affairs Department’ of the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C.,” Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) Special Dispatch No. 23, November 26, 2003.

[x] “Our Struggle with the Jews is a Struggle for Existence, Not a Struggle for Land,” Al-Asaalah Magazine, Issue 30.

[xi] Yaakov Lappin, “UK Islamists: Make Jihad on Israel,” YNet News, July 2, 2006.

[xii] Ibn Ishaq, 464.



Fouad Ajami

  The scaffolding of the Iraq war is under renewed attack. So there had been no meeting between Mohamed Atta and Iraqi intelligence operative Ahmad al-Ani in Prague; and Saddam’s regime was “intensely secular” while al Qaeda was steeped in religious doctrine. Tariq Aziz, once Goebbels to his master, now in captivity, says that Saddam had only “negative sentiments” about Osama bin Laden, and that the despot had issued a decree “outlawing Wahhabism in Iraq and threatening offenders with execution.”     The case against the Iraq war now has a new canonical document: a report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released on Sept. 8. Opponents of the war–to use their own language against the Bush administration–now “cherry pick” this report, and they find in it the damning evidence that had been their conviction all along. In their eyes, the case for this war was a willful hoax. And on the heels of this report, it was revealed that the National Intelligence Estimate now depicts Iraq as the breeding ground of a new generation of terrorists.     Intended or not, the release of the Senate report, around the fifth anniversary of 9/11, has been read as definitive proof that the Iraq war stands alone, that the terrors that came America’s way on 9/11 had nothing to do with the origins of the war. Few will read this report; fewer still will ask why a virtually incomprehensible Arab-Islamic world that has eluded us for so long now yields its secrets to a congressional committee. On the face of it, and on the narrowest of grounds, the report maintains that the link between the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq cannot stand in a Western court of inquiry.     But this brutal drawn-out struggle between American power and the furies of the Arab-Islamic world was never a Western war. Our enemies were full of cunning and expert at dissimulation, hunkering down when needed. No one in the coffeehouses of the Arab world (let alone in the safe houses of the terrorists) would be led astray by that distinction between “secular” and “religious” movements emphasized by the Senate Intelligence Committee. They live in a world where the enemies of order move with remarkable ease from outward religious piety to the most secular of appearances. It is no mystery to them that Saddam, once the most secular of despots, fell back on religious symbols after the first Gulf War, added Allahu Akbar (God is great) to Iraq’s flag, and launched a mosque-building campaign whose remnants–half-finished mosques all over Baghdad–now stand mute.     No Iraqi agents had to slip into hotel rooms in Prague for meetings with jihadists to plot against America. The plot sprang out of the deep structure of Arab opinion. We waged a war against Saddam in 1991 and then spared him. We established a presence in the Arabian Peninsula to monitor him, only to help radicalize a population with religious phobias about the “infidel” presence on Arabian soil. The most devout and the most religiously lapsed of the Arabs alike could see the feebleness of America’s response to a decade of subversion and terror waged by Arab plotters and bankrolled by Arab financiers. The American desire to launch out of Iraq a broader campaign of deterrence against the radical forces of the region may not have been successful in every way, but the effort was driven by a shrewd reading that, after Kabul, the war had to be taken deep into the Arab world itself.    Strictly speaking, the National Intelligence Estimate–another “canonical” document–is not a finding: It is an assessment of Islamic terrorism and its perceived links to Iraq. (It is odd, and ironic, that the intelligence agencies that had been mocked by liberal opinion for their reporting on Iraq before the war have now acquired an aura of infallibility.) Islamic terror did not wait on the Iraq war. The assertion that Islamic terrorism has “metastasized and spread across the globe” because of Iraq takes at face value what the jihadists themselves proclaim. It would stand to reason that their Web sites, and the audiotapes of their leaders, would trumpet their attachment to the cause of Iraq. It is inevitable that American analysts glued to jihadist cyberspace, and lacking intimate knowledge of Arab ways, would take the jihadists at their word. But Islamic radicals have not lacked for grievances. The anti-Americanism and antimodernism that brought them onto American soil five years ago predated Iraq. For the good part of two decades, jihadist terror blew at will, driven by the conviction in the lands of Islam and its diaspora communities that America was a pampered land with little zeal for bloody struggles.     The declassified portions of the NIE are not particularly profound in the reading of Islamism. Their sociologese is of a piece with a big body of writing on Islamist movements–that the resentments of these movements arise out of “anger, humiliation and a sense of powerlessness” in the face of the West. I dare guess that were Ayman al-Zawahiri to make his way through this report, he would marvel at the naïveté of those who set out to read him and his fellow warriors of the faith. Ayoob al-Masri (Zarqawi’s successor in Iraq) would not find himself and his phobias and his will to power in this “infidel document.” These warriors have a utopia–an Islamic world ruled by their own merciless brand of the faith. With or without Iraq, the work of “cleansing” Islam’s world would continue to rage on.    It was inevitable that the Arabs would regard this American project in Iraq through the prism of their own experience. We upended an order of power in Baghdad, dominated as it had been by the Sunni Arabs; and we emancipated the Shiite stepchildren of the Arab world, as well as the Kurds. Our innocence was astounding. We sinned against the order of the universe, but called on the region to celebrate, to bless our work. More to the point, we set the Shia on their own course. We did for them what they could not have done on their own. For our part, we were ambivalent about the coming of age of the Shia. We had battled radical Shiism in Iran and in Lebanon in the 1980s. The symbols of Shiism we associated with political violence–radical mullahs, martyrology, suicide bombers. True, in the interim, we had had a war–undeclared, but still a war–with Sunni jihadists. But there lingered in us an aversion to radical Shiism, an understandable residue of the campaign that Ayatollah Khomeini had waged against American power in the ’80s. We were susceptible as well to the representations made to us by rulers in the Sunni-ruled states about the dangers of radical Shiism.    The case against the war makes much of Iran’s new power in Iraq. To the war critics, President Bush has midwifed a second Islamic republic in Iraq, next door to Iran. But Iran cannot run away with Iraq, and talk of an ascendant Iran in Iraqi affairs is overblown. We belittle the Iraqi Shiites–their sense of home, and of a tradition so thoroughly Iraqi and Arab–when we write them off as instruments of Iran. Inevitably, there is Iranian money in Iraq, and there are agents, but this is the logic of the 900-mile Iranian-Iraqi border.    True, in the long years of Tikriti/Saddamist dominion, Shiite political men persecuted by the regime sought sanctuary in Iran; a political party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and its military arm, the Badr Brigade, rose in those years with Iranian patronage. But the Iraqi exiles are not uniform in their attitudes toward Iran. Exile was hard, and the Iranian hosts were given to arrogance and paternalism. Iraqi exiles were subordinated to the strategic needs of the Iranian regime. Much is made, and appropriately, of the way the Americans who prosecuted the first Gulf War called for rebellions by the Shiites (and the Kurds), only to walk away in indifference as the Saddam regime struck back with vengeance. But the Iranians, too, averted their gaze from the slaughter. States are merciless, the Persian state no exception to that rule.     We should not try to impose more order and consensus on the world of Shiite Iraq than is warranted by the facts. In recent days a great faultline within the Shiites could be seen: The leader of the Supreme Council for the Revolution in Iraq, Sayyid Abdulaziz al-Hakim, has launched a big campaign for an autonomous Shiite federated unit that would take in the overwhelmingly Shiite provinces in the south and the middle Euphrates, but this project has triggered the furious opposition of Hakim’s nemesis, the young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Hakim’s bid was transparent. He sought to be the uncrowned king of a Shiite polity. But he was rebuffed. Sadr was joined in opposition to that scheme by the Daawa Party of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, by the Virtue Party, and by those secular Shiites who had come into the national assembly with former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. A bitter struggle now plays out in the Shiite provinces between the operatives of the Badr Brigade and Sadr’s Mahdi Army. The fight is draped in religious colors–but it is about the spoils of power.     The truculence of the Sunni Arabs has brought forth the Shiite vengeance that a steady campaign of anti-Shiite terror was bound to trigger. Sunni elements have come into the government, but only partly so. President Jalal Talabani put it well when he said that there are elements in Iraq that partake of government in the daytime, and of terror at night. This is as true of the Sunni Arabs as it is of the Shiites. The (Sunni) insurgents were relentless: In the most recent of events, they have taken terror deep into Sadr City. The results were predictable: The death squads of the Mahdi Army struck back.     It is idle to debate whether Iraq is in a state of civil war. The semantics are tendentious, and in the end irrelevant. There is mayhem, to be sure, but Iraq has arrived at a rough balance of terror. The Sunni Arabs now know, as they had never before, that their tyranny is broken for good. And the most recent reports from Anbar province speak of a determination of the Sunni tribes to be done with the Arab jihadists.    It is not a rhetorical flourish to say that the burden of rescuing Iraq lies with its leaders. No script had America staying indefinitely, fighting Iraq’s wars, securing Iraq’s peace. The best we can do for Iraq is grant it time to develop the military and political capabilities that would secure it against insurgencies at home and subversion from across its borders. No one can say with confidence how long the American body politic will tolerate the expense in blood and treasure. It would be safe to assume that this president will stay with this war, that its burden is likely to be passed onto his successor. The Iraqis are approaching reckoning time, for America’s leaders are under pressure to force history’s pace. The political process here at home is not likely to impose a precise deadline for withdrawal. But the Iraqis should not be lulled into complacency, for the same political process is more likely to place limits on this commitment in Iraq.     For their part, the Iranians will press on: The spectacle of power they display is illusory. It is a broken society over which the mullahs rule. A society that throws on the scene a leader of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s derangement is not an orderly land; foreigners may not be able to overthrow that regime, but countries can atrophy as their leaders–armed, here, by an oil windfall of uncertain duration–strut on the world stage. Iran’s is a deeper culture than Iraq’s, possessed of a keen sense of Persia’s primacy in the region around it. What Iranians make of their own history will not wait on the kind of society that will emerge in Iraq. On the margins, a scholarly tradition in Najaf given to moderation could be a boon to the clerics of Iran. But the Iranians will not know deliverance from the sterility of their world if Iraq were to fail. Their schadenfreude over an American debacle in Iraq will have to be brief. A raging fire next door to them would not be pretty. And, crafty players, the Iranians know what so many in America who guess at such matters do not: that Iraq is an unwieldy land, that the Arab-Persian divide in culture, language and temperament is not easy to bridge.    We needn’t give credence to the assertion of President Bush–that the jihadists would turn up in our cities if we pulled up stakes from Baghdad –to recognize that a terrible price would be paid were we to opt for a hasty and unseemly withdrawal from Iraq. This is a region with a keen eye for the weakness of strangers. The heated debate about the origins of our drive into Iraq would surely pale by comparison to the debate that would erupt–here and elsewhere–were we to give in to despair and cast the Iraqis adrift. 

(Fouad Ajami, a professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins, is the author, most recently, of “The Foreigner’s Gift” (Free Press, 2006). He is a recipient of the 2006 Bradley Prize.)


Why we don’t take the anti-war arguments of “liberals” seriously –

Why we don’t take the anti-war arguments of “liberals” seriously – Wednesday, October 04, 2006 11:50 AM

Do opponents of the war stop to think of how they sound to people not caught up in their Bush-hating, America-doubting psychosis? Evidently not. Pete Wehner who is doing a terrific job in the White House sent out an email with these quotes from Washington Post writer Richard Cohen:

Richard Cohen Now:

“George W. Bush wanted, in effect, to win the second term that George H.W. Bush had lost (to Bill Clinton), and he also wanted to finish the job his father had started with Saddam Hussein. If there is a better explanation for why Bush — not necessarily the neocons around him — so fervently wanted war, I cannot come up with it.” — Richard Cohen, “Can Bush Save Bush?” The
Washington Post
, October 3, 2006.  

Richard Cohen Then:

Iraq is in violation of U.N. Resolution 1441 — no ifs, ands or buts. It will not account for its weapons of mass destruction — chemical and biological for sure, maybe nuclear down the road. It is ruled by a thug who twice invaded neighboring countries and whose human rights record is as wretched as one could be. There is no need to gild the lily. The case for war is a good one.”
 — Richard Cohen, “Powellian Propaganda?” The
Washington Post
, February 13, 2003. 

Oh, and his view of the revenge-the-father canard then:

“Too often, though, compression becomes simplification. Thus we get references to colonialism, oil and militarism and a naive admiration for the Palestinian struggle. George W. Bush is caricatured as a simpleton out to avenge Saddam Hussein’s attempt to assassinate his father or doing the bidding of Big Oil. This is not the compression of wisdom, nor, for that matter, is it art.” — Richard Cohen, “Rhyme Ill-Reasoned,” The
Washington Post
, February 18, 2003. 

Democrats and their press: lying about the war – Monday, October 02, 2006 11:32 AM

Democrats and their press: lying about the war – Monday, October 02, 2006 11:32 AM
Watching MSNBC “reporting” on Woodward’s book this morning. The anchorwoman was describing Powell’s speech at the UN as the Administration’s case for going to war. In fact, the Administration’s case for going to war is contained in the 2002 White Paper, the congressional authorization for the use of force (November 2002), in the State of the Union message of January 20, 2003 and in its statement calling for the enforcement of UN Resolution 1441, a war ultimatum whose deadline passed on December 7, 2002. Powell’s speech was in February 2003.

Powell’s speech was not America’s rationale for going to war with Iraq. Powel”s speech had one purpose — to persuade Russia and China and France to enforce UN Resolution 1441. We now know why this was futile. Russia, China and France were Saddam’s allies and stood to lose billions of dollars each if he was toppled by a US-led UN force. The malicious Democratic Party campaign against Rumsfeld, the President and the War — which is abetted by the anti-war left in the press — is reaching a fever pitch. Two books a day it seems (as the Post‘s Karen DeYoung joins Woodward with another political illiterate screed against the Administration). The fact is that the left’s solution to present difficulties in Iraq is to deliver Iraq to Iran. The Democrats’ anti-war arguments are as sickening as they are absurd: We create the terrorists. If only America would stop its aggressions, the problem of the Islamic jihad would diminish accordingly.

Absurdity two: if only America left Iraq and focused on killing Osama bin Laden, the Islamic jihad would be over. Bin Laden’s death was recently reported. Did anybody stop to think what this would mean if it were true? It would mean nothing. Did the killing of Zarqawi end the war in Iraq? Bin Laden has been ineffectual for nearly three years. The war we are in is not a war with a gang, which will be demoralized by the loss of its leader. Dead leaders make martyrs — precisely what our enemies aspire to. By the left’s logic we should stop killing them, because that only encourages them.

Our enemies are engaged in a religious crusade It is a war with a religious crusade. Winning the war is going to require a long hard struggle. The weak and cowardly are going to counsel appeasement and retreat all along the way. Those who attack us from within without offering a constructive policy for winning are helping the enemy. They are not criticizing the Administration; they are sabotaging the war. I have yet to come across a single Democrat who has a plan to prosecute the war more effectively. That tells me more than I care to know about the integrity of the opposition.

Bottom line: This war will be won or lost on the battlefront at home — and right now the Democratic Party is a big part of the problem.