Realist Fantasies

Realist Fantasies
By Philip Klein
Published 12/7/2006 2:18:35 AM

James Baker is known for being from the “realist” school of foreign policy, but if the Iraq Study Group’s report is any indication, he’s about as much of a realist as Baron Munchhausen.

Munchausen was an 18th century German aristocrat famous for telling tall tales about such feats as riding cannonballs and traveling to the moon. Baker, meanwhile, used the Iraq Study Group’s report as a forum to recount tall tales about when he ended the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Okay, not quite. But that’s what one would be led to believe by the report’s nostalgic references to Baker’s diplomatic efforts in the Middle East following the first Gulf War. The commission, in a complete non sequitur, recommends that the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian peace process of the early 1990s should be the model for a broader diplomatic effort to persuade Iraq’s neighbors (including Iran and Syria) to help bring peace and stability to the war-torn nation.

Specifically, the report proposes a series of meetings “to negotiate peace as was done at the Madrid Conference in 1991” (which Baker organized when he was Secretary of State). These meetings, overseen by the international community, would be “between Israel and Lebanon and Syria on the one hand, and Israel and Palestinians (who acknowledge Israel’s right to exist) on the other.” The fact that such a parenthetical statement is needed says it all.

It’s pure fantasy to believe that Israel could negotiate a settlement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that would not be subject to the veto of Hamas, which can derail talks either through terrorism or the exercising of political power it gained after its substantial election victory earlier this year. Back in 1991, Israel agreed to the Madrid meetings under the condition that no representatives of the PLO would be present, but the Palestinian delegation got around this by bringing an “advisor” who was in constant contact with the terrorist group, which ran the show from behind the scenes. Hamas, meanwhile, helped disrupt the talks in December 1992 by kidnapping and murdering an Israeli border policeman on the fifth anniversary of the start of the first intifada.

But the report’s magical thinking does not end there. It recommends negotiating a settlement in which Syria agrees to small details such as: helping convince Hamas to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, ending its meddling in Lebanon and its aid to Hezbollah, fully cooperating with investigations into political assassinations in Lebanon and blocking Iran from using Syrian territory to transport weapons to Hezbollah.

Israel, meanwhile, will be expected to return the Golan Heights to Syria as part of a larger “land for peace” deal in the spirit of United Nations Resolution 242. The problem is that the resolution was passed in the wake of the 1967 war and its meaning has been debated ever since. Palestinians believe it means Israel should return to its pre-1967 borders, Israelis believe it means they can keep some territory captured during the Six Day War to maintain defensible borders. Whatever one’s position on this debate, it’s unlikely that after nearly 40 years of fighting and diplomacy, the issue will be resolved in time to make a difference in Iraq.

But even if, by some miracle, the Arab-Israeli conflict were resolved tomorrow, it’s hard to see how that would have any impact on what is going on inside Iraq. According to the report, sectarian violence between the Sunni insurgency and Shiite militias “has become the principal challenge to stability” and “causes the largest number of civilian casualties.” Al Qaeda wants to instigate the sectarian war and drive the U.S. out of Iraq. Regional players such as Iran and Syria, meanwhile, want to gain influence over different regions of the country. If peace were achieved between Israel and the Palestinians, would Sunnis suddenly be content to be in the minority? Would Syrians and Iranians have less interest in gaining power in Iraq?

In addition to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the commission suggests other “possible incentives” to win over Iran and Syria. Among them are: “The continuing role of the United States in preventing the Taliban from destabilizing Afghanistan.” To be considered an incentive, a party has to receive something it otherwise would not have. It’s hard to imagine Iran’s leaders living in fear that the U.S. may stop fighting the Taliban. Other incentives include entrance into the World Trade Organization and “enhanced diplomatic relations with the United States.” However, the report also says that negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program should be conducted separately, along the path they are proceeding down now. If that’s the case, why should the U.S. use all of its bargaining chips on getting Iran to cooperate on Iraq?

Of course, it’s ridiculous to expect Iran to cooperate with the U.S. on Iraq when our interests are diametrically opposed. In the report, the commission argues repeatedly that a chaotic Iraq is not in Iran’s interest. But were Iran to help stabilize Iraq, it would only do so in exchange for extending its own power and influence — not to help America build a democracy. Just last week, when Iraqi President Jalal Talabani crawled to Iran for help, Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei said that U.S. withdrawal from Iraq was a prerequisite to securing the country.

The Iraq Study Group’s report does acknowledge that “Our limited contacts with Iran’s government lead us to believe that its leaders are likely to say they will not participate in diplomatic efforts to support stability in Iraq,” but that does not prevent the commission from concluding that “as one of Iraq’s neighbors Iran should be asked to assume its responsibility…”

If this is what “realism” looks like, I’d prefer to pin my hopes on Santa Claus coming to Baghdad this Christmas and bringing peace and joy to the world.

Philip Klein is a reporter for The American Spectator.

Appeasing the Nazis of the Middle East

Appeasing the Nazis of the Middle East – Thursday, December 07, 2006 5:30 PM
I have been distracted by other agendas of late, but not enough that I don’t notice that the appeasers and the Saudi crowd are ascendant in our political firmament these days and that this means a lot of Americans, Jews and all those generally in the way of the Islamic crusade are going to die because of it. The happy warriors these days are the Jim Bakers, the Jimmy Carters and all those who sold Israel and the Iraqis and the Lebanese down the river after the 1991 Gulf War, invited the terrorist Arafat into the West Bank, gave him an army and launched the terrorist jihad in earnest in the Middle East. The news is sickening to every decent soul except to the Islamic Nazis and their friends in the international left and the delusional folk who think that if America leaves Iraq the terrorists will leave too (Speaker Pelosi actually made that precise comment this October). Talking to the Hitler in Teheran and the Arab Mussolini in Damascus makes perfect sense to the contemporary Chamberlains — Baker, Hamilton (he of the capitulate to the Sandinistas crowd). I never thought I would live to see a day when the last years of the Thirties would be repeated, let alone by Americans. But there it is.Andrew McCarthy has a terrific piece on the Iraq War in National Review, and our own Sean Daniels has a lead story in today”s Frontpage about the white paper proposing “Peace In Our Time” that Baker-Chamberlain and his Saudi patsies are waving at Achmadinejad.We are in a war and the enemy is the Taliban, al-Qaeda, the Madhi Army, Hizbollah, Hamas, Syria, Iran, the PLO and the Saudi Wahabbis. Victory will be acheived by the bloody defeat of most of them or some of them and the surrender of the rest. Those who expect more from these Islamic fanatics are sellers of a toxic illusion. The victims will be the vulnerable. The anti-Syrian Lebanese, the pro-democracy Iraqis, the Jews most of all.

Terrorists rejoicing over new Iraq ‘plan’,

Liberal Idiots have been disputing President Bush’s often repeated assertion that “we fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here” as fear-mongering and that the fighting in Iraq is nothing more than native Iraqis fighting for power and turf. But now read this from WND’S JERUSALEM BUREAU – Terrorists rejoicing over new Iraq ‘plan’, Excerpt:

Reaction to Study Group: ‘Allah and his angels’ responsible, ‘era of Islam and of jihad’ declaredA high level U.S. commission’s recommendations for an eventual withdrawal from Iraq and for dialogue with Iran and Syria proves “Islamic resistance” works and America can ultimately be defeated, according to senior terrorist leaders interviewed by WND.

The militants, from the largest Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, welcomed the policies outlined by the Iraq Study Group, which they claim recognizes Islam is the “new giant of the world.”

The group is led by former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker.

“The report proves that this is the era of Islam and of jihad,” said Abu Ayman, a senior leader of Islamic Jihad in the northern West Bank town of Jenin.

“[With the Iraq Study Group report], the Americans came to the conclusion that Islam is the new giant of the world and it would be clever to reduce hostilities with this giant. In the Quran the principle of the rotation is clear and according to this principle the end of the Americans and of all non-believers is getting closer,” Abu Ayman said.

According to Abu Abdullah, a senior leader of Hamas’ so-called military wing, Baker’s report is a victory for Islam brought about by “Allah and his angels.”

“It is not just a simple victory. It is a great one. The big superpower of the world is defeated by a small group of mujahedeen (fighters). Did you see the mujahedeens’ clothes and weapons in comparison with the huge individual military arsenal and supply that was carrying every American soldier?” exclaimed Abu Abdullah, who is considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas’ Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas’ declared “resistance” department.

“It is with no doubt that Allah and his angles were fighting with them (insurgents) against the Americans. It is a sign to all those who keep saying that America, Israel and the West in general cannot be defeated on the ground so let us negotiate with them,” Abu Abdullah said.

Abu Abdullah said following a withdrawal from Iraq, the U.S. will be defeated on its own soil.

“The Iraqi victory is a great message and lesson to the revolutionary and freedom movements in the world. Just to think that this resistance is led by hundreds of Sunni fighters who defeated hundreds of thousands of Americans, British and thousands of soldiers who belong to the puppet regime in Baghdad. What would be the situation if the Shiites will decide to join the resistance?” commented Abu Nasser.

The Al Aqsa leader said his group learned from the “Iraqi resistance” that jihad will ultimately destroy Israel.

Islamic Jihad’s Abu Ayman said after the U.S. “defeat” in Iraq is finalized, insurgents there should move to the West Bank and Gaza to help destroy Israel.

“We hope that after chasing the occupation from Iraq, these jihad efforts and experiences will be transferred to Palestine, and yes, I mean that we expect these fighters will come to Palestine as part of a big Islamic army.”

The Iraqi Study Group’s report called the U.S. position in Iraq “grave and deteriorating,” and recommended the withdrawal of most combat troops from Iraq by 2008.

“It is the dawn of the real Islam what we are seeing now, young people who are leaving everything in their countries and are coming to fight in Iraq,” said Abu Ayman.

Analysis: 2007 – The Year of War

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The Pelosi and Conyers Team: Helping Terrorists and Illegal Aliens

The Pelosi and Conyers Team: Helping Terrorists and Illegal Aliens

Jim Kouri, CPP


It didn’t take long before the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. John Conyers started making noises on how they can further undermine efforts to protect Americans from terrorist attacks.

Speaker-elect Pelosi (D-CA) is co-sponsoring the “End Racial Profiling Act”, according to syndicated columnist Sher Zieve. The proposed bill is said to have been prompted by the recent removal of six Muslim imams, who are reported to have acted in a decidedly provocative manner, from a US Airways’ flight. The problem with using this act to curb so-called profiling is that the persons who demanded the removal of the suspicious Muslims do not work for the US government.

Pelosi and Conyers are calling for the end of all racial profiling, additional severe limits placed on the Patriot Act and the implementation of broad-based US citizenship for illegal aliens.

Pelosi said, “Since September 11th, many Muslim Americans have been subjected to searches at airports and other locations based upon their religion and national origin, without any credible information linking individuals to criminal conduct. Racial and religious profiling is fundamentally un-American and we must make it illegal.”

However, she didn’t appear to care that millions of American travelers are routinely being inconvenienced by long lines, intrusive questioning and subjection to searches. In the world of Pelosi, in order prevent terrorists from commandeering a plane, airport security should allow Muslims to board unencumbered while grannies from Wisconsin are strip-searched and manhandled.

The other co-sponsor of the bill is Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), who is also reportedly preparing documents that would to lead to Articles of Impeachment against President Bush He is an interesting man.

Conyers’ congressional office manages an Arabic version of his official website. Reportedly he does the bidding of these inner-city constituents and the militant Islamist activists who feed off them.

They want to squash the Patriot Act and put a leash on the FBI agents, including stopping them from profiling Muslim suspects in terror investigations. They also want to end the use of undisclosed evidence against suspected Arab terrorists in deportation proceedings even if they are in the country illegally. And the 77-year-old Conyers has vowed to deliver those changes for them.

In January 2003 he was the only member of Congress to speak before, and lend his prestige to, an anti-war rally organized by the Marxist-Leninist, pro-North Korean front group International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Rep. Rangel also addressed the rally but not in person – via a letter read by another speaker.) Conyers embraced his comrades in this group with the same enthusiasm and support he gave during the Cold War to the Soviet-backed World Peace Council.

In a New York Times opinion piece he co-authored with Marcus Raskin, co-founder of the extreme left-wing think-tank the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), Conyers asserted that “government’s responsibility is to revitalize the nation’s economy through creative forms of public ownership” – in other words, through socialism.

As I reported earlier on these pages, Rep Conyers is the highest ranking politico working to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted murderer of a Philadelphia police officer. Conyers has been a National Executive Board member of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), which was originally created as a Soviet front and still embraces its Communist heritage.
Conyers is one of the top recipients of donations from the Arab-American Leadership PAC. And not surprisingly, he has a long history of pandering to Arab and Muslim voters, according to Investors Business Daily.

During the first Gulf War, for instance, Conyers fought FBI outreach efforts in the Arab and Muslim community in Detroit that were designed to gather intelligence on potential cells and protect the home front. Conyers and other Detroit-area Democrats at the time, David Bonior and John Dingell, threatened to hold hearings unless the FBI stopped counterterrorism interviews.

The FBI met with them privately to explain the national security benefits of outreach, but could not allay their concerns. In the end, the FBI backed off. Today, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Al-Qaeda-tied Muslim Brotherhood are all active in the area.

Expect Conyers and Pelosi to kick open the doors of Congress to Islamists from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other militant groups. They will have unfettered access, even though many of their leaders have been tied to terrorism (some CAIR officials have landed in the big house).

In 2003, Conyers hosted the first dinner on the Hill that celebrated the end of Ramadan for such Muslim leaders. It’s now a tradition. Incoming Democrat freshman Keith Ellison, a Louis Farrakhan disciple and first Muslim member of Congress, will no doubt expand the invitation list.

Syndicated columnist Debbie Schlussel reported that on June 13, during the Muslim American Society fundraising dinner for Islamic Relief, a charity with links to the Muslim Brotherhood, Conyers and his wife were the guests of honor.

They watched and clapped as the Sanabel Al-Quds “dancing” troop from Milwaukee—featuring boys as young as seven—sang in Arabic of martyrdom and jihad for Allah and Palestine. They didn’t need to understand Arabic, as the young boys used a rifle to simulate killing and pistol-whipping, simulated throat-slittings and beheadings, and dishonored the American flag.

Another contributor to the Pelosi-Conyers Fifth Column is the mainstream news media who constantly told Americans prior to the November 7 elections that people such as Pelosi, Conyers and others are really moderating their positions. They are moderates compared to Mao Zedong.

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance ( He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations.  He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.   Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for TheConservativeVoice.Com and  He’s also a columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com.   He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc.  His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri’s own website is located at

Jimmy Carter, Traitor?

Jimmy Carter, Traitor?

Christopher Ruddy
Monday, Oct. 21, 2002

God must have a sense of humor.

In the same month that Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a new book reveals that Carter may be guilty of treason, based on newly unearthed Soviet documents.

And just days after it was announced that Carter had won the Peace Prize, North Korea announced that it had atomic weapons and some “worse stuff.”

Carter, the so-called “peacemaker,” had been instrumental in the early ’90s in “mediating” U.S.-Korean relations, an effort that led to Clinton policies that actually helped North Korea build and acquire these weapons.

Isn’t it odd that a man who has helped so many tyrants and dictators through the years should get the Nobel Peace Prize?

We all know that the Nobel committee has long leaned toward the left, and long interpreted “peace” as a result of capitulations by the West and democracies to bullying and tyrannical dictators. So the award should not have come as a surprise.

The Nobel committee said it gave the 39th president the award “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”

The facts show that, far from bringing peace, Carter has left a trail of disaster behind his long path.

Far from being an honest mediator, Carter has been a shameless self-promoter who also may well have committed treason to keep himself in the presidency.

Last week, “Reagan’s War: The Epic Story of His Forty-Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism” (Doubleday) by Peter Schweizer was released.

This book offers damning evidence that Jimmy Carter, as both president and citizen, may have committed treason by enlisting the help of the Soviet Union in the 1980 and 1984 presidential elections.

Schweizer combed through once-secret KGB and Communist Party files. What he discovered about Jimmy Carter is very disturbing.

Documents show, according to Schweizer, that in the closing days of the 1980 campaign, the Carter “White House dispatched Armand Hammer to the Soviet Embassy for a secret meeting with Ambassador Dobrynin.”

Hammer told Dobrynin that Carter was “clearly alarmed at the way things stood in the election campaign.”

Hammer asked for Soviet help, especially to help Jewish emigration, which would have helped Carter’s standing in key electoral states. Hammer promised, “Carter won’t forget that service if he is re-elected.”

“Peacemaker” Carter was a boon to the Soviets. During his presidency, the Evil Empire reached its zenith, making bold moves in Ethiopia, Yemen, El Salvador, Grenada, Nicaragua and Afghanistan.

Carter once again sought the Soviets’ help in 1984.

Carter was out of office then, but he still felt the need to visit Ambassador Dobrynin at his Washington home.

According to the Soviet document, Carter came to complain about Reagan and his defense buildup.

Carter told Dobrynin that if the Soviets didn’t do something about Reagan, “there would not be a single agreement on arms control, especially on nuclear arms, as long as Reagan remained in power.”

Carter’s intention was clear. He wanted the Russians to intervene in some way to help get a Democrat back into the White House.

This new evidence questions Jimmy Carter’s patriotism.

But Carter’s devotion to “peace” also was demonstrated to be wrongheaded by Reagan, who indeed won the Cold War without war, and has brought an era of harsh tyranny against populations worldwide, but bloody conflicts where millions had died.

Reagan’s strategy, as Schweizer shows, won the Cold War.

Still, we should not forget that we are still suffering because of Carter’s decisions as president. It was Carter’s refusal to assist the Shah of Iran that allowed the Ayatollah Khomeini and Islamic fundamentalists to gain power and flourish.

Ground Zero has a trail right back to the feet of Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office.

If the Nobel committee were fair, it would have awarded the peace prize to Ronald Reagan.

But that will never happen, because Reagan didn’t apologize for dictators, didn’t pressure democracies to cave in to dictators, and didn’t accept millions of dollars from Arab sheiks and then complain about Israel’s human rights record.

And unlike Carter, Reagan never kissed up to the media.

After winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Carter telephoned NBC’s Katie Couric. Even she was surprised by the call. Why would Carter call her, of all people?

Carter, the shameless, self-promoting politician, knew exactly what he was doing.

Good PR from media liberals like Couric had helped cover up his record – a record that includes consorting with our former enemy.

Half Baked — Who can disagree with the report of the Iraq Study Group? It says, “Iran should stem the flood of arms and training to Iraq,” and “Syria should control its border with Iraq to stem the flood of funding, insurgents and terrorist in and out of Iraq” (emphasis added). It would be wonderful if Iran and Syria did those things, but unless some reasonable means of making them do so is advanced, saying that they “should” is airy wishfulness rather than strategy.

Half Baked

By The Editors

Who can disagree with the report of the Iraq Study Group? It says, “Iran should stem the flood of arms and training to Iraq,” and “Syria should control its border with Iraq to stem the flood of funding, insurgents and terrorist in and out of Iraq” (emphasis added). It would be wonderful if Iran and Syria did those things, but unless some reasonable means of making them do so is advanced, saying that they “should” is airy wishfulness rather than strategy.

Welcome to the non-reality-based world of bipartisan commissions. Even commissions flying under the banner of realism, such as the James Baker/Lee Hamilton–led ISG, inhabit that world.

The ISG doesn’t recommend any plausible way of making Syria and Iran behave the way they “should.” Instead, it advocates talks that will magically convince the Iranians and Syrians to stop pursuing their interests in Iraq. The report argues that none of Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran and Syria, favor a breakup of Iraq, and posits a common interest with the U.S. on that basis. But there is a wide range of outcomes in Iraq short of a breakup. And the outcome sought by Tehran and Damascus is very different from the one preferred by the United States. Those two governments want to defeat us in Iraq and foster the creation of an Iraqi government that is part of their geopolitical bloc in the Middle East rather than ours.

Just talking will not paper over these big differences unless we are willing to give the Iranians and Syrians serious incentives. Accession to the World Trade Organization, one of the ideas floated by the report, is just not going to cut it. Nor will it be possible, as recommended by the ISG, to broker an Israeli-Arab peace deal that will make Iraq’s neighbors behave. Realistically, Syria would want immunity from the consequences of its assassination campaign in Lebanon, and perhaps renewed suzerainty over that country. Iran would want a tacit acceptance of its nuclear program. If the ISG thinks Iranian and Syrian cooperation in Iraq is worth this price, it should say so. But it doesn’t, making its diplomatic recommendations utterly unserious.

In fact, the report acknowledges that Iran would probably rebuff an American diplomatic outreach. It cites Libya as an example of constructive engagement with a rogue state. But Libya gave up its weapons of mass destruction because it was frightened of the United States, right about the time Saddam was crawling from his spider hole. Iran and Syria have nothing to fear from the United States as long as it is in a downward slide in Iraq.

That is one of the reasons why improving conditions in Iraq is so important. Here too the report fails to offer any realistic advice. It recommends increasing the number of U.S. troops embedded in Iraqi army units. This is fine as far as it goes, but the report also calls for steadily reducing the number of American combat forces in Iraq. Since those troops are the only credible security force in the country, pulling them out is a recipe for even more chaos.

“By the first quarter of 2008,” the report says, “subject to unexpected developments and the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq.” The weasel language is meant to give President Bush flexibility, but there would be nothing “unexpected” in developments in the security situation — it would get worse, predictably, inexorably. The report retails the common fantasy that remaining U.S. forces in Iraq “would be available to undertake strike missions against al-Qaeda in Iraq when the opportunity arises.” What would such a strike mission be? Reinvading Anbar Province after it is taken over by al Qaeda in our absence?

The report’s recommendation on troops is premised on the notion that the Iraqi government is not performing mostly because it is dependent on our military. The Iraqi government certainly can be usefully pressured, and the sort of deadlines for political progress recommended by the ISG could make sense. But the Iraqi government suffers at the moment simply from an absence of reliable, functioning security forces. All the jawboning in the world won’t make up for the deficit, and as long as it exists, the U.S. military has to fill the breach.

For all these reasons, the ISG report is an analytic embarrassment. But President Bush can still make political use of it by emphasizing its responsible aspects. The report opposes timetables or deadlines for withdrawal. It warns of a precipitate pullout: “The near-term results would be a significant power vacuum, greater human suffering, regional destabilization, and a threat to the global economy. Al Qaeda would depict our withdrawal as a historic victory. If we leave and Iraq descends into chaos, the long-range consequences could eventually require the United States to return.”

Just so. The report also pours cold water on the fashionable idea of breaking up Iraq along sectarian lines: “A rapid devolution could result in mass population movements, collapse of the Iraqi security forces, strengthening of militias, ethnic cleansing, destabilization of neighboring states, or attempts by neighboring states to dominate Iraqi regions.”

There is no good alternative to succeeding in Iraq. The report notably avoids talking of an outright U.S. victory. But, between the lines, it thinks victory is still possible. Its definition of success in Iraq is reasonable enough: “an Iraq with a broadly representative government that maintains its territorial integrity, is at peace with its neighbors, denies terrorism a sanctuary, and doesn’t brutalize its own people.” And right at the beginning, the report stipulates, “We believe it is still possible to pursue different policies that can give Iraq an opportunity for a better future, combat terrorism, stabilize a critical region of the world, and protect America’s credibility, interests, and values.”

Bush should take all of this and run with it. His most important task is to secure Baghdad, which will take more troops. Even the report is open to this idea, noting that the ISG could “support a short-term redeployment or surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad.” This will probably take up to 50,000 more U.S. troops in the city, and will probably require new commanders on the ground, since Generals Abizaid and Casey are so determinedly Rumsfeldian in their orientation, favoring a light “footprint” over classic counterinsurgency tactics.

A move to send more troops and replace those generals should be packaged with an increase in the size of the U.S. military, accelerated and expanded training of Iraqi security units, and a greater U.S. intelligence effort on the ground in Iraq. (This last recommendation is included in the ISG report, and is one of many smaller ideas in it that are worth adopting.)  

It is too much to expect that any bipartisan commission be bold and creative. That is the president’s job, and he still has an opening to do it. Adopting the major ISG recommendations would amount to managing our defeat in Iraq. Since he’s not prepared to do that, Bush has to work on his own to try to save our position there, and he must do it by acting in the real world that it is always the great luxury of bipartisan commissions to ignore.

The Associated Press Spins the ISG Report

The Associated Press Spins the ISG Report

Scott Lindlaw is an Associated Press reporter who has told fellow members of the White House press corps that his “mission is to see that George Bush is not re-elected.” He is the reporter who wrote falsely that a Republican crowd at a Bush rally in West Allis, Wisconsin, booed the news of President Clinton’s hospitalization, and “Bush did nothing to stop them.” The story was a complete fabrication, later retracted by the AP, but the AP has never responded to our many emails on the subject, and to our knowledge Scott Lindlaw has never been disciplined in any way for filing a false story.

Now, Lindlaw is at it again, spinning the Iraq Survey Group’s report for the benefit of the Kerry campaign. Lindlaw writes, in a story titled “Bush, Cheney Concede Saddam Had No WMDs”:

President Bush and his vice president conceded Thursday in the clearest terms yet that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, even as they tried to shift the Iraq war debate to a new issue–whether the invasion was justified because Saddam was abusing a U.N. oil-for-food program.Ridiculing the Bush administration’s evolving rationale for war, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry shot back: “You don’t make up or find reasons to go to war after the fact.”

Lindlaw obviously agrees with Kerry’s “ridicule.” But here is the text of what President Bush said; Lindlaw actually quotes the relevant paragraphs:

The Duelfer report also raises important new information about Saddam Hussein’s defiance of the world, and his intent and capability to develop weapons.The Duelfer report showed that Saddam was systematically gaming the system, using the U.N. oil-for-food program to try to influence countries and companies in an effort to undermine sanctions. He was doing so with the intent of restarting his weapons program once the world looked away.

So Lindlaw grossly mischaracterizes President Bush’s statement. Bush did not invent a “new” rationale for toppling Saddam, or suggest that we went to war simply because Saddam was abusing the oil for food program. The point of Bush’s reference to the oil for food program was that Saddam was abusing it for the specific purpose of regaining his WMD capabilities. This is exactly what the ISG report says. Bush correctly characterized the report; Scott Lindlaw incorrectly characterized Bush’s point. Lindlaw continues:

Duelfer found no formal plan by Saddam to resume WMD production, but the inspector surmised that Saddam intended to do so if U.N. sanctions were lifted. Bush seized upon that inference, using the word “intent” three times in reference to Saddam’s plans to resume making weapons.

This is simply outrageous. Duelfer and the ISG wrote a 1,000 page report, a principal theme of which is Saddam’s continuing intent to reconstitute his WMD programs. There was no “formal plan” because Saddam wasn’t stupid enough to put his WMD intentions in writing–in any event, not in any document that has yet been identified and translated. But to say that Duelfer “surmised” Saddam’s intent is ridiculous; the report lays out hundreds of pages of evidence of Saddam’s intent.

This week marks the first time that the Bush administration has listed abuses in the oil-for-fuel program as an Iraq war rationale. But the strategy holds risks because some of the countries that could be implicated include U.S. allies, such as Poland, Jordan and Egypt. In addition, the United States itself played a significant role in both the creation of the program and how it was operated and overseen.

Here, Lindlaw is just making it up. The Bush administration, as noted above, didn’t cite the “oil for fuel” — that would be “oil for food,” Scott — program as a “first time” rationale; rather, the point was that abuses of the program gave Saddam the opportunity to reconstitute his illegal weapons programs. And the “risks” claimed by Lindlaw are risible. The countries that are actually named in the ISG report as recipients of Iraqi bribery are France, Russia, and China, countries that had Security Council veto power. And the suggestion that “the United States itself played a significant role” in the operation of the U.N.’s oil for food program is ridiculous. The only reference to bribery of Americans that I’ve seen in the report is to an American weapons inspector, presumably Bush critic Scott Ritter. And whoever may have played a “significant role” in creating the U.N. program, it certainly wasn’t anyone in the Bush administration.

Lindlaw continues:

“Iraq did not have the weapons that our intelligence believed were there,” Bush said. His words placed the blame on U.S. intelligence agencies.

Huh? Is Lindlaw denying that our intelligence agencies, and those of every other interested country, said that Saddam had banned WMDs? Apparently he hasn’t read the National Intelligence Estimate. Lindlaw is either unpardonably ill-informed, or he is taking a misleading cheap shot at the President.

And finally:

In recent weeks, Cheney has glossed over the primary justification for the war, most often by simply not mentioning it.

Saddam’s WMDs were indeed one of the reasons for going to war. But the claim that they were the only reason, or the main reason, is one that is simply asserted by Lindlaw and like-minded reporters and is generally taken to be true by dint of repetition. In fact, however, President Bush has always emphasized multiple reasons for liberating Iraq, including the moral imperative to relieve the oppression of the Iraqi people and, even more important, the long-term benefit of beginning the process of reforming the Arab world.

The Democrats have no long-term solution to the problem of terrorism. The only proposal on the table is the President’s: eliminate the cause of terrorism by liberating the Arab world, leading a transformation of the failed, oppressive, corrupt Arab states into modern democracies with economies that offer opportunities for their citizens. President Bush has articulated this rationale for the Iraq war–by any measure, the most important one–many times. Here is how President Bush expressed this rationale in just one of many speeches:

Iraqi democracy will succeed — and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran — that freedom can be the future of every nation. The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution.Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe — because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo.

Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace.

The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom — the freedom we prize — is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.

The President’s soaring vision puts to shame hacks like Scott Lindlaw who pretend to report the news, but in reality seek to advance a narrow, short-sighted partisan agenda.

The Gym Jihad

The Gym Jihad
By Janet Levy | December 7, 2006

A Muslim woman in Dearborn, Mich., lodged a complaint Tuesday against Fitness USA for an alleged civil rights violation involving a fellow gym patron. According to Jodi Berry, executive director of Fitness USA, Wardeh Sultan was praying in front of another member’s locker when the member wanted access to her belongings inside the locker. The inconvenienced patron tried to interrupt Ms. Sultan, but she remained prostrate in front of the locker and an altercation ensued. A manager was called into the locker room to intervene.

Ms. Sultan later complained that the Fitness USA management was unconcerned about the humiliation she suffered when her prayers were interrupted. She stated that the gym personnel were insensitive, rejected her complaints and did not satisfactorily intervene on her behalf. Ms. Sultan further reported that the manager told her, “You have to respect her (the other patron), but she does not have to respect your god.”

The incident is yet another example of special treatment Muslims are increasingly demanding nationwide. Last April, at the Lincoln Park, Mich. Fitness USA location, 200 Muslim women signed a petition demanding separate workout times for men and women, or, at minimum, installation of a divider between the men’s and women’s gym sections. A screen was eventually erected to obstruct the view of the women’s facilities. Another Fitness USA facility recently revised a dress code to allow Muslim women to wear more modest dress while exercising. 

Other examples abound. Last week, six imams demonstrated against U.S. Airways for alleged discrimination against Muslims and their religious practices after they were detained and questioned because they had been praying in the Minneapolis airport, loudly invoking Allah’s name and uttering anti-American statements. Recently, Muslim cabdrivers refused to carry passengers possessing alcoholic beverages or accompanied by seeing-eye dogs. Last year, city public swimming pools in Seattle, responding to pressure from Muslims, instituted regularly scheduled hours for exclusive use by Muslims, including a “Muslim Sister Swim.” In June in a Chicago suburb, a Muslim girls basketball team, whose players compete wearing long, blue gowns and hijabs, requested that in competitions with non-Muslims schools, no men or boys be allowed to watch the games.

What is behind this rash of demands for tolerance and accompanying allegations of discrimination by Muslims? Could this be part of an agenda contrived to intimidate non-Muslims into enacting special concessions and privileges for Muslims that subtlety alter American society step by step? Is this the beginning of a militant movement or a cultural jihad toward incremental demands with the ultimate goal of Islamicizing the U.S. and imposing Sharia law?     

At the same time, Muslims are alleging with greater frequency and vitriol that a growing intolerance of Islam exists and that the rights of Muslims to speak and worship freely are under attack by Americans. Muslim leaders such as Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, insist that Muslims have a right to petition for special accommodation based on their religious beliefs as mandated by the First Amendment. In truth, no requirement exists, either in state or federal statutes, requiring that such petitions be addressed or behavior adjusted accordingly. Further, the locations in question are publicly owned businesses providing services to the general public under behavioral and societal norms accepted by the majority of Americans. These are not private clubs exclusive to Muslim patrons and nothing prevents Muslims from creating their own private clubs to accommodate their needs. If a religion prohibits males and females from swimming together, its practitioners shouldn’t swim in public pools. If devout Muslim girls must play basketball in burkas away from the gaze of boys and men, competitions may be arranged exclusively with Muslims schools.  

In the case of gym patrons, how far will the requests go before non-Muslim women are subservient to the whims and demands of Muslims? If a Muslim woman decides to spontaneously pray between the bench press and the treadmill are non-Muslims expected to alter their circuit in order not to disturb her? What if Muslims decide that they are uncomfortable with the immodest attire of non-Muslims exercising around them? Will they eventually demand that all gym participants dress according to a standard that they establish as appropriate? Once a Muslim-approved standard of dress is observed in the gym, would it be extended to cover shopping malls, post offices, other community locations and eventually an entire region? 

As for praying in public places, such as fitness centers and airport terminals, to what extent should this be accommodated by American society? Do Muslims really believe that a gym locker room is a desirable and appropriate place for prayer? Can’t they schedule their day to attend the gym between calls to prayer or pray silently or in their cars? Most airports have non-denominational chapels for all religions. Aren’t these spaces more appropriate for vocal and physical attitudes of prayer than a busy terminal filled with passengers? In a post 9-11 world, it is unrealistic to expect that loud proclamations of Islamic faithfulness mixed with condemnations of U.S. policy will not raise suspicion and cause alarm. The tragedy of 9-11 has forever changed the air travel experience and certain behaviors are already constrained in the interest of American security. Is vocal and extreme religious behavior exempt? 

Countless others have immigrated to the United States without demanding that we change our society to meet their religious requirements. It’s unfathomable that an orthodox Jewish taxi driver would deny passage to a person eating a ham sandwich or a Jehovah’s Witness would deny service to a passenger carrying a bottle of wine. We have already re-engineered assembly lines (Tyson Foods and Dell Computer) and overturned a city noise ordinance to allow for Muslim calls to prayer. Squiggle graphics on Burger King ice cream cones were discontinued as they allegedly resembled the Arabic spelling of Allah. Under threat of a lawsuit, Nike recalled a sneaker with a heel design that was also similar to the Arabic configuration for Allah and built three playgrounds in U.S. Islamic communities designated by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.   

Where will this intimidation and shakedown of Americans and American institutions end? Will racism and bigotry accusations shame us into capitulating and abandoning our vigilance and security precautions? Will we be lured into curtailing our surveillance procedures, weakening the Patriot Act and enacting religious intolerance legislation focusing on Muslims? Muslim charges of victimization and discrimination have already paved the way for a variety of special treatment and dispensations. How many changes must we see on the American landscape and how far must Americans be pushed for concessions before we collectively say, “Enough?”

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First Thoughts on the Iraq Study Group Report

First Thoughts on the Iraq Study Group Report

By Greg Richards

Forget the Executive Summary which is a collection of platitudes and wish-lists.  If the assumptions in the Executive Summary were true – for instance that Iraq’s neighbors see themselves as having a stake in a stable and successful Iraq – the problem would have been solved long ago and our troops would be home.

But …the next section – “Assessment” – is an effective and hard-hitting summary of the situation in Iraq as of now.  And it isn’t pretty.  Having read Dr. Richard Feynman’s  droll narrative of the writing of the Challenger disaster report back in the 1980’s (Dr. Feynman was the Nobel Price-winning physicist from Caltech who identified the Challenger problem as being the brittleness of the rocket seals when they got cold), I assume that the Executive Summary and the Assessment were written by different people.

The police force is a disaster, essentially a Shia militia.  The army has extensive absenteeism and uncertain leadership.  Operation Together Forward II to secure Baghdad has been a failure.  One wonders if the Bush Administration and the Pentagon have been getting reports of this directness from the field and if they have, what has been the basis for their confidence about success in Iraq over the past year?

There is an excellent summary of the political situation, which basically concludes that while there is some lip-service given to national reconciliation, the Kurds and the Shia would prefer autonomous regions while the Sunni are bereft of an economically viable base, and thus desiring a strong central government, but only if they run it, which democratic arithmetic prevents!

Here is the money paragraph on security:

“The security situation cannot improve unless leaders act in support of national reconciliation.  Shiite leaders must make the decision to demobilize militias.  Sunni Arabs must make the decision to seek their aims through a peaceful political process, not through violent revolt. The Iraqi government and Sunni Arab tribes must aggressively pursue al Qaeda.”

Indeed.  And the lion must lie down with the lamb.  Well, this is the season for that.

In one of his witty and trenchant observations on the ways of government bureaucracies, Henry Kissinger observed that the Pentagon delivered its opinions with caveats where the caveat was far more important than the opinion.  For instance, a Pentagon opinion a la Kissinger might be

“We continue to expect the Korean Peninsula to remain peaceful so long as North Korea is not directed by an isolated Stalinist regime” when the entire problem is that North Korea is directed by an isolated Stalinist regime.

So also with the above paragraph from the ISGR on security.  It would indeed be nice if all the conditions listed were to hold – Shiite leaders demobilize militias, Sunnis seek their aims through a peaceful political process, etc.  That was, one assumes, what the Bush Administration thought would happen after Saddam was deposed.  That presumably was our post-war “plan.”  Alas, it has not come to be and shows no sign of doing so now.  Getting to that point is the problem in front of us!

Continuing with the Security section in the Assessment chapter:

“Sunni politicians told us that the U.S. military has to take on the militias; Shia politicians told us that the U.S. military has to help them take out the Sunni insurgents and al Qaeda.  Each side watches the other.  Sunni insurgents will not lay down arms unless the Shia militias are disarmed.  Shia militias will not disarm until the Sunni insurgency is destroyed.  To put it simply: there are many armed groups within Iraq, and very little will to lay down arms.”

Catch-22.  This is the Gordian Knot that has been at the center of the Iraq problem from the beginning – the Shia are tasting power for, as the ISGR says, the first time in 1300 years and they are not going to give it up now.  And the Sunnis are not going to retire gracefully from their historic position as the ruling class.  Controlling this was the political purpose of Saddam’s terror, however debased it became in practice.  Are we willing to be as ruthless as he was is the real question facing us.  And that we will likely have to pick a side.  Saddam had picked the Sunni side.

The Governance section is so compelling it is worth quoting in full:

“The Iraqi government is not effectively providing its people with basic services: electricity; drinking water, sewage, health care, and education.  In many sectors, production is below or hovers around prewar levels.  In Baghdad and other unstable areas, the situation is much worse.  There are five major reasons for this problem. [emphasis added]

“First, the government sometimes provides services on a sectarian basis.  For example, in one Sunni neighborhood of Shi-governed Baghdad, there is less than two hours of electricity each day and trash piles are waist-high.  One American official told us that Baghdad is run like a ‘Shia dictatorship’ because Sunnis boycotted provincial elections in 2005, aqnd therefore are not represented in local government.

“Second, security is lacking: insurgents target key infrastructure.  For instance, electricity transmission towers are downed by explosives, and then sniper attacks prevent repairs from being made.

“Third, corruption is rampant.  One senior Iraqi official estimated that official corruption costs Iraq $5 – 7 billion per year.  Notable steps have been taken: Iraq has a functioning audit board and inspectors general in the ministries, and senior leaders including the Prime Minister have identified rooting out corruption as a national priority.  But too many political leaders still pursue their personal, sectarian, or party interests.  There are still no examples of senior officials who have been brought before a court of law and convicted on corruption charges.

“Fourth, capacity is inadequate.  Most of Iraq’s technocratic class was pushed out of government as part of de-Baathification.  Other skilled Iraqis have fled the country as violence has risen.  Too often, Iraq’s elected representatives treat the ministries as political spoils.  Many ministries can do little more than pay salaries, spending as little as 10 – 15 percent of their capital budget.  They lack technical expertise and suffer from corruption, inefficiency, a banking system that does not permit the transfer of moneys, extensive red tape put in place in part to deter corruption, and a Ministry of Finance reluctant to disburse funds.

“Fifth, the judiciary is weak.  Much has been done to establish an Iraqi judiciary, including a supreme court, and Iraq has some dedicated judges.  But criminal investigations are conducted by magistrates, and they are too few and inadequately trained to perform this function.  Intimidation of the Iraqi judiciary has been ruthless.  As one senior U.S. official said to us, ‘We can protect judges, but not their families, their extended families, their friends.’  Many Iraqis feel that crime not only is unpunished, it is rewarded.” [emphasis added]

Whew!  This has the ring of truth.  And with all due respect to James Baker, a reader of the ISGR to this point does not see the Israel-Palestinian problem as at the center of the Iraq problem; it is a distraction.  The challenge to the Bush Administration is that given this description of the situation in Iraq – and this description has the ring of truth – how do we craft a strategy for victory, a word that appears in the ISGR, not as our own objective, but only in regard to the objectives of our enemies.

Pressing on into the briar patch, still in the Assessment chapter, one finds this extraordinary paragraph:

“The coordination of assistance programs by the Defense Department, State Department, United States Agency for International Development, and other agencies has been ineffective [italics added].  There are no clear lines establishing who is in charge of reconstruction.”

Reflect on that last sentence for a second, again assuming it is true and it has the ring of truth.  What has been going on with the Iraq War effort?  We have our troops making the ultimate sacrifice of both life and limb, and… what else?  I have been a fan and supporter of Donald Rumsfeld, but if the Rumsfeldian manner has any meaning, it is one of “kicking a** and taking names.” 

But that does not seem to have been or be being done!  Forget Israel. The lesson of the ISGR is that one problem of this war is that it has been incredibly undermanaged.  Only the president can rectify this totally unacceptable situation.  It is very hard to understand what he can possibly be waiting for.

Very likely, this problem reflects an institutional failure on the part of the U.S. government.  If we go to war, we have the Pentagon to plan it.  But there is no equivalent institution to the Pentagon for planning and controlling the political and civilian strategy of running another country.  In other countries in earlier times, this would have been the responsibility Colonial Office, or in the Roman Empire, of a proconsul.  But since we see ourselves as not an imperial power, as not running other countries, as we effectively are in Iraq, we have forgotten to develop the institution necessary to this function. 

If we have flattened a country militarily as we did Germany and Japan in World War II, and we have extraordinary leadership, as we did, then a military figure can fill this civilian political function, as MacArthur did in Japan and as Eisenhower and then Clay did in Germany. 

That is not the situation in Iraq, where the military leadership has a strictly military charter.  The State Department is an organization for managing the international status quo and is in no respect, by attitude, competence or intent, the organization to run another country.  The casualness and lateness, no disgrace to them, with which the two figures who were temporary proconsuls for us – Garner and Bremer – were chosen says all we need to know about the unseriousness, the essential amateurishness with which we approached this function.  And we are paying the price now.  Only the President can repair this shrieking void in our capabilities.

Greg Richards is an occasional contributor to American Thinker.