The Party of Defeat’s Top Five Lies About Iraq

The Party of Defeat‘s Top Five Lies About Iraq

By Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | 6/10/2008

FROM THE BEGINNING, THE WAR HAS BEEN BASED ON LIES, DECEPTION, AND PROPAGANDA: the war against President Bush, that is. Beginning five years ago next month, the Party of Defeat‘s attempts to discredit the commander-in-chief in the midst of a war have continued without quarter, undeterred by factual refutation, rational discourse, measurable progress in Iraq, or palpable damage to the morale of American soldiers in a very hostile part of the world. The Left’s campaign against the very war many of its banner-wavers voted to authorize has been built upon a tissues of lies layered upon one another, big and small, consequential and unspeakably petty, political and military, and aimed at the war’s rationale and prosecution — and those implementing both.

Of the scores of such fabrications, it would be difficult to quantify the most damaging or widely held. However, here is in an attempt at recounting some of the most commonly parroted lies of the antiwar echo chamber.

1. “Bush Lied, People Died.”

One of the chief targets of any enemy campaign is not one reached by any bomb, biological agent, or terrorist attack: it is psychological. If the enemy can undermine his opponents’ self-confidence or feeling of certainty in his own moral purpose, he can win without firing a shot. This is the most successful aspect of the Left’s campaign against President Bush and the war in Iraq, embodied in one pithy, vapid saying: “Bush Lied, People Died.”

The specific instance of the president’s alleged mendacity is ever-shifting. Its sources have sometimes been Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, both proven to be liars themselves by the Senate Intelligence Committee. The theme of the president’s alleged lies tends to be the case for the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. However, as one prominent politician has stated:

The intelligence from Bush I to Clinton to Bush II was consistent. That intelligence…was very strong on the continuing presence of biological and chemical programs…It was also very consistent on the continuing effort to develop nuclear capacity

This picture of a threatening Iraq projected itself far beyond the U.S. intelligence community:

The consensus was the same, from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration. It was the same intelligence belief that our allies and friends around the world shared.

These quotations do not come from John McCain, Donald Rumsfeld, or another fire-breathing “neocon”: they were spoken by Hillary Clinton, one of the voices now declaiming the president misled her about the war.

If Bush lied to her, so, too, did the best and brightest of her own fantasy administration. According to the print media, “She said she confirmed Bush administration assessments with private briefings from experts from her husband’s administration.” This may explain why she did not bother to read the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. Although the NIE had been requested by Senate Democrats, only six senators took the time to peruse its contents. (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was not among them, either.) Yet the NIE simply codified the foregoing intelligence consensus on Iraq shared by previous administrations and the CIA’s colleagues around the world, all well beyond the controlling hand of Bush, Cheney, Halliburton, and Alcoa. This broad agreement on the threat of Saddam Hussein, however wrong it may have been, represented bipartisan territory, explaining why so many left-wing Democrats echoed the president on Baghdad’s continuing danger.

This intelligence — similar to that given to the president every morning, though less alarmist — was available to Congress, yet they refused to read it, because they based their votes on political expediency. As David Horowitz and I document in our book Party of Defeat, the war-against-the-war (and by extension, the war against the American soldiers fighting to secure victory in that war) began in the summer of 2003, led by Ted Kennedy and Ellen Tauscher. In July 2003, the Democratic National Committee launched an ad entitled, “Read His Lips: President Bush Deceives the American People.” Yet many nationally elected Democrats had voted for the war just months earlier. There had been no sea-change, no windfall revelation of the president’s deception (aside from those errants cited earlier); the Democratic Left simply tired of its charade. After the first Gulf War, savvy leftists resolved never to get caught on the wrong side of a popular war; thus, they hedged their bets, voting for the war as an act of cowardice, then turned on the war they set in motion at their earliest convenience. 

In this muddled mess, somehow it is President Bush who is tarred as inauthentic.

2. “Iraq was not an ‘imminent threat,’ as Bush said.”

“CIA Denies Claims That Iraq Posed ‘Imminent’ Danger,” blares a headline at one leftist “news” website. The contention, magnified by constant repetition, holds that, to justify spilling the blood of Iraqi innocents which he secretly lusted after, President Bush labeled Iraq an “imminent threat” to the United States. Yet, the Left contends, this is not true; thus, “Bush Lied, People Died.” (See above.)

This tactic is most shamefully embodied in the words of Sen. Ted Kennedy, belched to the Associated Press just six months after the beginning of the war:

There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud.

However, the president specifically said Iraq was not an imminent threat — and must never be allowed to become one. In his 2003 State of the Union Address, George W. Bush declared:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

Although the president did not declare Iraq’s danger imminent, some on the Left came close. Future war critic Al Gore, remembered now for how breathless hatred stained his cellulite-riddled cheeks in speech after speech before MoveOn.org, declared in February 2002 that Iraq “represents a virulent threat in a class by itself…As far as I am concerned, a final reckoning with that government should be on the table.” His successor in the also-ran column, Sen. John Kerry, agreed Saddam posed “a real and grave threat to our security.”

Although rhetoricians have cleared the president of ever making this assertion, some have claimed an implied threat of imminence, in that President Bush said Saddam had WMDs and the means to deliver them. Yet that’s exactly what Carl Levin said when he confessed Saddam had “ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.”

Even in his attempt to extricate foot-from-NIE, months after leaving office former CIA Director George Tenet wrote:

Given what we knew then, the NIE should have said: “We judge that Saddam continues his efforts to rebuild weapons programs, that, once sanctions are lifted, he probably will confront the United States with chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons within a matter of months and years. Today, while we have little direct evidence of weapons stockpiles, Saddam has the ability to quickly surge to produce chemical and biological weapons and he has the means to deliver them.

3. “The war was  about WMDs, which don’t even exist.”

Perhaps the most pervasive of the five myths holds that the United States only toppled Saddam Hussein because of his alleged possession of WMDs. Since no such weapons have been uncovered, this allows the Left to accuse President Bush of “lying” about their existence to precipitate a war. (See lie #1.) However, the possession of WMDs was never the full rationale for hostilities. The actual cause for the war was Saddam Hussein’s violation of more than a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions about his program during his “decade of defiance.” These actions invalidated the ceasefire agreed to at the end of the Gulf War. As a 1998 law declared, Iraq was at that time in “direct and flagrant violation of the cease-fire.” It concluded:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations, and therefore the President is urged to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations.

President Clinton signed that bill on August 19, 1998.

Shortly thereafter, Clinton signed Public Law 105-338, “The Iraq Liberation Act,” which “expressed the sense of Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove from power the current Iraqi regime and promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.”

The Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, which precipitated the present war, authorized the president to “strictly enforce through the United Nations Security Council all relevant Security Council resolutions applicable to Iraq and encourages him in those efforts” and to “obtain prompt and decisive action by the Security Council to ensure that Iraq abandons its strategy of delay, evasion and noncompliance and promptly and strictly complies with all relevant Security Council resolutions.” The president did so by passing UN Security Council Resolution 1441, declaring Saddam “in material breach” and demanding his compliance or assuring he will face “serious consequences.” Had Saddam Hussein verified his compliance, there would have been no war; instead, he turned in another false report. Hostilities ensued.

President Bush explained to the United Nations on September 12, 2002, that Saddam Hussein must act, or the UN must force him to act, but “Security Council resolutions will be enforced.” Among the many violations he cited were Saddam’s support of international terrorism, his persecution of his own people, and his exploitation of the Oil-for-Food Program (the extent of which was then still unknown). He may have also cited the continual attack of Iraqi forces upon UN-empowered aircraft patrolling the “No Fly Zone,” under almost daily fire. Nevertheless, his stated purpose was to enforce numerous UN resolutions dormant under Bill Clinton’s Decade of Dereliction.

Ironically, this “unilateral, go-it-alone war” was fought to uphold the integrity of the United Nations.

4. “The war is a distraction from the War on Terror.”

The 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, famously called Iraq a “diversion,” “the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time,” a conflict launched because the president took his “eye off the ball.” His successor, Barack Obama, has repeatedly spoken of “the distraction of Iraq.”

Far from a “distraction,” the war in Iraq is the War on Terror’s central front — according to both commanders of that war. The New York Times reported that al-Qaeda sees “the sectarian war for Baghdad as the necessary main focus of its operations”– last March, in a story that relies upon intelligence Americans found on laptops seized the previous December. Osama bin Laden himself verified this assessment, stating,

The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War…It is raging in the land of the two rivers. The world’s millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate…The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries; the Islamic nation, on the one hand, and the United States and its allies on the other. It is either victory and glory or misery and humiliation.

Al-Qaeda has plans for Iraq upon America’s withdrawal. Nearly three years ago, al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri sent a letter to the then-respirating Ayman al-Zarqawi containing Al-Qaeda in Iraq’s marching orders. They begin thus:

Expel the Americans…Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate – over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, i.e., in Sunni areas, is in order to fill the void stemming from the departure of the Americans.

The next steps were to launch jihad against Iraq’s neighbors before enlarging the war to Israel, and ultimately America.

This is their quest. Preventing it is no diversion.

5. “Opposing the war has no demoralizing effect on the troops.”

In theory, it is possible to oppose a given war without opposing those fighting it. However, as Henry Mencken said about Christianity, “nobody’s tried it yet.” If one believes American soldiers are pawns in “an imperial grand strategy” to “maintain [American] hegemony through the threat or use of military force”;  that the invasion of Iraq is “an immoral and illegal war”  (a charge also made by Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist government in its most craven days); that such a war makes us “an international pariah”  (as John Kerry said, alongside former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami); if you see the United States “as the aggressor” and a “belligerent bully”; it is impossible to wish those waging such a war well.

Soon, such a critic will be casting aspersions at the troops he claims to support. Witness John Kerry telling CBS’s Bob Schieffer that “young American soldiers” are “going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children – you know, women – breaking sort of the customs of the, of, the historical customs, religious customs.”

Hear Jack Murtha bellow, “Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood.”

See timid Dick Durbin prattle in monotone that soldiers guarding al-Qaeda henchmen in Iraq are no better than “Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime—Pol Pot or others—that had no concern for human beings,” with no more forethought than if he were weighing in on the merits or demerits of a farm subsidy bill.

Soon, such critics will write openly that Osama bin Laden “made sense to me.” If you share these views, Osama may one day take his cues from you, cribbing his videotapes from your movies, citing your phony war statistics, or calling you “among the most capable” of his fifth column.

This fifth column, this Party of Defeat does what no external power can dream of: undermine the war from within.

Party of Defeat is available from the FrontPage Magazine Bookstore for $15, a 30 percent discount and less than Amazon.com. Autographed and personalized copies are also available; details are on the Bookstore webpage. Please call your local bookstores and ask them to stock the new book Party of Defeat by David Horowitz and Ben Johnson, if they don’t already have it in stock.




Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and author of the book 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Charitable Giving.

Senator Lieberman Comments on Iraq in the Wall Street Journal

 http://dearbornunderground.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 26, 2007

Senator Lieberman Comments on Iraq in the Wall Street Journal

From today’s Wall Street Journal:

The Choice on Iraq

“I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to step back and think carefully about what to do next.”

BY JOSEPH LIEBERMAN
Monday, February 26, 2007 12:01 a.m.

Two months into the 110th Congress, Washington has never been more bitterly divided over our mission in Iraq. The Senate and House of Representatives are bracing for parliamentary trench warfare–trapped in an escalating dynamic of division and confrontation that will neither resolve the tough challenges we face in Iraq nor strengthen our nation against its terrorist enemies around the world.

What is remarkable about this state of affairs in Washington is just how removed it is from what is actually happening in Iraq. There, the battle of Baghdad is now under way. A new commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has taken command, having been confirmed by the Senate, 81-0, just a few weeks ago. And a new strategy is being put into action, with thousands of additional American soldiers streaming into the Iraqi capital.


Congress thus faces a choice in the weeks and months ahead. Will we allow our actions to be driven by the changing conditions on the ground in Iraq–or by the unchanging political and ideological positions long ago staked out in Washington? What ultimately matters more to us: the real fight over there, or the political fight over here?


If we stopped the legislative maneuvering and looked to Baghdad, we would see what the new security strategy actually entails and how dramatically it differs from previous efforts. For the first time in the Iraqi capital, the focus of the U.S. military is not just training indigenous forces or chasing down insurgents, but ensuring basic security–meaning an end, at last, to the large-scale sectarian slaughter and ethnic cleansing that has paralyzed Iraq for the past year.


Tamping down this violence is more than a moral imperative. Al Qaeda’s stated strategy in Iraq has been to provoke a Sunni-Shiite civil war, precisely because they recognize that it is their best chance to radicalize the country’s politics, derail any hope of democracy in the Middle East, and drive the U.S. to despair and retreat. It also takes advantage of what has been the single greatest American weakness in Iraq: the absence of sufficient troops to protect ordinary Iraqis from violence and terrorism.


The new strategy at last begins to tackle these problems. Where previously there weren’t enough soldiers to hold key neighborhoods after they had been cleared of extremists and militias, now more U.S. and Iraqi forces are either in place or on the way. Where previously American forces were based on the outskirts of Baghdad, unable to help secure the city, now they are living and working side-by-side with their Iraqi counterparts on small bases being set up throughout the capital.


At least four of these new joint bases have already been established in the Sunni neighborhoods in west Baghdad–the same neighborhoods where, just a few weeks ago, jihadists and death squads held sway. In the Shiite neighborhoods of east Baghdad, American troops are also moving in–and Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army are moving out.


We of course will not know whether this new strategy in Iraq will succeed for some time. Even under the most optimistic of scenarios, there will be more attacks and casualties in the months ahead, especially as our fanatical enemies react and attempt to thwart any perception of progress.


But the fact is that we are in a different place in Iraq today from even just a month ago–with a new strategy, a new commander, and more troops on the ground. We are now in a stronger position to ensure basic security–and with that, we are in a stronger position to marginalize the extremists and strengthen the moderates; a stronger position to foster the economic activity that will drain the insurgency and militias of public support; and a stronger position to press the Iraqi government to make the tough decisions that everyone acknowledges are necessary for progress.

Unfortunately, for many congressional opponents of the war, none of this seems to matter. As the battle of Baghdad just gets underway, they have already made up their minds about America’s cause in Iraq, declaring their intention to put an end to the mission before we have had the time to see whether our new plan will work.

There is of course a direct and straightforward way that Congress could end the war, consistent with its authority under the Constitution: by cutting off funds. Yet this option is not being proposed. Critics of the war instead are planning to constrain and squeeze the current strategy and troops by a thousand cuts and conditions.

Among the specific ideas under consideration are to tangle up the deployment of requested reinforcements by imposing certain “readiness” standards, and to redraft the congressional authorization for the war, apparently in such a way that Congress will assume the role of commander in chief and dictate when, where and against whom U.S. troops can fight.
I understand the frustration, anger and exhaustion so many Americans feel about Iraq, the desire to throw up our hands and simply say, “Enough.” And I am painfully aware of the enormous toll of this war in human life, and of the infuriating mistakes that have been made in the war’s conduct.

But we must not make another terrible mistake now. Many of the worst errors in Iraq arose precisely because the Bush administration best-cased what would happen after Saddam was overthrown. Now many opponents of the war are making the very same best-case mistake–assuming we can pull back in the midst of a critical battle with impunity, even arguing that our retreat will reduce the terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq.

In fact, halting the current security operation at midpoint, as virtually all of the congressional proposals seek to do, would have devastating consequences. It would put thousands of American troops already deployed in the heart of Baghdad in even greater danger–forced to choose between trying to hold their position without the required reinforcements or, more likely, abandoning them outright. A precipitous pullout would leave a gaping security vacuum in its wake, which terrorists, insurgents, militias and Iran would rush to fill–probably resulting in a spiral of ethnic cleansing and slaughter on a scale as yet unseen in Iraq.

I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to step back and think carefully about what to do next. Instead of undermining Gen. Petraeus before he has been in Iraq for even a month, let us give him and his troops the time and support they need to succeed.

Gen. Petraeus says he will be able to see whether progress is occurring by the end of the summer, so let us declare a truce in the Washington political war over Iraq until then. Let us come together around a constructive legislative agenda for our security: authorizing an increase in the size of the Army and Marines, funding the equipment and protection our troops need, monitoring progress on the ground in Iraq with oversight hearings, investigating contract procedures, and guaranteeing Iraq war veterans the first-class treatment and care they deserve when they come home.

We are at a critical moment in Iraq–at the beginning of a key battle, in the midst of a war that is irretrievably bound up in an even bigger, global struggle against the totalitarian ideology of radical Islamism. However tired, however frustrated, however angry we may feel, we must remember that our forces in Iraq carry America’s cause–the cause of freedom–which we abandon at our peril.
Mr. Lieberman is an Independent senator from Connecticut.

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Fitzgerald: What was done, what is being done, what should be done

Fitzgerald: What was done, what is being done, what should be done

It was right, proper, necessary to destroy Iraq’s military power, and its regime. The Ba’athist regime owed its origin to the desperate attempt of Syrian Christians to concoct an ideology that would be an alternative to naked Islam (Michel Aflaq, the founder of Ba’athism, converted to Islam on his deathbed; his life was one of pathetic dhimmitude, while his Communazi Ba’athism did little, really, to defang Islam). Despite being ostensibly “secular,” whenever necessary the Ba’athist regime made appeal to Islam: witness Saddam Hussein’s use of the Battle of Qadassiyah, the Qur’anic inscription put on the flag, the Qur’an written using his own blood, etc. Like that other “secularist,” Nasser, Saddam Hussein was a Muslim through and through in his essential attitudes — simply one who wanted to start with a unified Arabdom rather than aim for a worldwide Caliphate a la Bin Laden.

But the current campaign is a diversion of men, materiel, and attention. We should be winning back Europe by promoting a long-overdue alarm about the demographic invasion. We should expose the international alliance of fellow-travellers of Islam, from certain members of the BBC (such as John Simpson) and Agence France Press (which is, in its Middle East coverage, virtually a handmaiden of the PA) to some in the European media and in the EU hierarchy, including Javier Solana, Chris Patten, and others. Their antisemitism and anti-Israel attitudes are mutually reinforcing. Those who display either or both are obviously, in their analyses and attitudes, the ones least inclined to see Islamic tenets as a threat to Western (and other) civilizations, and most inclined to ascribe our problems to that pesky affair in western Palestine — like the antisemites who were those most inclined, of course, in the 1930s to pooh-pooh the Nazi threat.

But the winning of “hearts and minds” in Iraq cannot be accomplished. It is a chimera, a Sisyphean and hopeless task, and it is cruel to cause American soldiers to risk their lives to do something which is impossible. There is almost no gratitude directed at the Americans by more than a small fraction of the Iraqi population — for rescuing them from a monstrous regime. There are many reported cases — and returning soldiers have many more to tell — of mobs celebrating the killing of Americans. They will pocket the rebuilt infrastructure, the electricity grids, the dams, the hospitals, the schools, the soccer balls handed out by touchingly trusting and hopeful Americans. But what will be taught in those schools? What will that electricity light up? How will that hydroelectric energy be used — if not to recreate an even more Muslim civilization, at least as hostile, and perhaps more potent in its hostility, toward Infidels, as anything Iraq has seen before?

It is not “democracy” that matters, but human rights — the rights enshrined in the International Declaration of Human Rights, which, as Reza Afshari, Ibn Warraq, and others have shown, are in every single particular contradicted by Islam and the Shari’a. Will the new Iraq allow real free exercise of religion? Will those born into Islam be allowed to convert out, or openly show their lack of belief? Will women be given equality? In Islam, the greatest reforms that Infidels should welcome — that is, the reforms which limit precisely the power of Islam — have not emerged from “democracy” (a democratic but Muslim state is only more, not less dangerous, to Infidels), but from enlightened despots. These include the vain, stupid, but relatively decent Shah Reza Pahlavi, the farsighted Habib Bourguiba and the Destour Party in Tunisia, King Mohammed V of Morocco, King Hussein of Jordan (the “oily little king,” as Alan Clark once dubbed him, was a great favorite all over the West, from that eternal innocent, Anthony Lewis, to Prince Charles, that great admirer of what he takes to be Islam), and by far the most important, Kemal Pasha Ataturk.

The “democracy” industry — all those bright-eyed people in Washington with Centers for This and That Pertaining to Democracy — has failed to adequately study, understand, and thoroughly assimilate the doctrines of Islam, or to study Islamic history. They understand there is something deeply wrong, but they cling to the notion that it is not the basic texts of Islam itself, but some perversion of those texts. They have it wrong.

No, the troops should not all come home, but a much smaller force, in the Syrian desert, well away from roadside bombs, should replace the current crazy “hearts and minds” effort. The invasion was completely justified; that was War #1. The remaining around to search for, collect, and destroy major weaponry (not just WMD), to find Saddam Hussein, to capture or kill most of the top Ba’athists, was also fully justified. That was War #2. But the current attempt to do the impossible, to make those three former Ottoman vilayets into a single nation-state is hopeless. Since 1920, the Arab treatment of the Kurds, and the Sunni treatment of the Shi’a, has only made things much worse. The Administration should declare that it has done all it can: removed Saddam Hussein, sought for and destroyed WMD programs, sought and destroyed all major weaponry, effectively demolished the Ba’athist structure, and left a small — 50,000 combat troops — force in the desert to keep the essential peace.

It is time to get serious about destroying the real WMD threat in Iran, which incidentally will put a nail in the mullahocracy. If the U.S. fails to do so, and the Iranian regime obtains such weaponry, its prestige among the simple Iranians will be sky high and the reformers will be doomed — so they too have a vested interest in seeing us destroy the Iranian WMD program.

Now notice: I posted the original draft of this article on February 20, 2004, and have done nothing in this version except make some revisions for clarity. In three years, what has changed?

Iraq: Winning on the Home Front

Iraq: Winning on the Home Front
By Dinesh D’Souza
FrontPageMagazine.com | February 13, 2007

Dinesh D’Souza gave the following address at the invitation of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The speech took place at the Four Seasons Hotel on February 7, 2007. — The Editors.

David, thank you very much.

I have been dodging a few bullets of late; lately this kamikaze strike by the New York Times. I’m reminded of something that Winston Churchill said during the Boer War. He said, “There’s nothing so exhilarating as to be shot at, without result.” So, I feel pleased just to be standing here. Anyway, we were having this interesting debate in America about Iraq reconsidering Bush’s policy toward Iraq. I think that we need to go a little further back and reconsider 9/11, because our American understanding of the War on Terror emerged almost immediately in the aftermath of 9/11. There developed almost instantly a kind of left-wing and right-wing analysis of the nature of the enemy. And it is to that analysis, I think, that we need to return. For example, we’ve been talking for five years about the War on Terror, the war against terrorism, but I don’t think we’re fighting a war against terrorism any more than in World War II America was fighting a war against kamikaze-ism.  In World War II our enemy was the army of Imperial Japan. Kamikaze-ism was merely a tactic employed by the adversary. Similarly, now the war isn’t against terrorism, it’s the war against a certain species of Islamic radicalism or fundamentalism.  But again, when I use these terms I kind of catch myself short. “Fundamentalism,” as we know, is a term out of Protestant Christianity. It has somewhat limited utility when you project it abroad. You know, you turn on CNN these days, you’ll see a retired military analyst or a professor of romance languages at Bates College saying something like, “The Muslim world is divided between the liberals and the fundamentalists.”  Now, I don’t know if its news to you but there are no “liberals” in the Muslim world. We can find isolated individuals here and there – Salman Rushdie and Irshad Manji – but they have no constituency within the House of Islam.  Somebody said to me the other day, “but aren’t some Iranians secular and feminist and believe in gay rights?” And I said, “Yeah, but, they live in L.A., not in the Muslim world.” Now, fundamentalism in Christianity refers to a certain kind of Biblical literalism. You don’t accept the Bible allegorically or in parables but see it as a literal rendition of the word of God.  By that definition, every living Muslim is a fundamentalist because every Muslim believes the Koran is the Word of God: unadulterated, literal, not just inspired but dictated in the Arabic language to the Prophet Mohammed. If you don’t believe that, you’re not a Muslim.  So, my point is not that all Muslims are extreme, but that “fundamentalism” is not a useful term of classification or distinction in the Muslim world. Now, as I mentioned a moment ago, we’ve got this sort of left-wing and the right-wing analysis of why we have this powerful current of anti-Americanism coming at us from the Muslim countries.  From the Left, for example, we hear things like “the Muslims are upset because of the United States’ terrible history of overthrowing elected leaders like Mossadegh in Iran, and this has created discontent among the radical Muslims.  A little peek at history will show you that this is actually nonsense. Mossadegh was elected by nobody. He was, in fact, appointed by the Iranian Parliament, put in place by the Shah. Shortly upon being appointed he got into a power struggle with the Shah, dissolved the parliament that had appointed him, and began to suspend all civil freedoms. And, yes, at that point the CIA came in, orchestrated a coup, got him out, and restored the power of the Shah.  I went back and read an interesting book called The Collected Sermons of Khomenei, which actually goes back to the 1940s and ’50s. Khomenei preached three sermons actually saying how happy he was that Mossadegh had been removed. And if you think about it, it’s pretty clear why: Mossadegh was a secular socialist. The radical Muslims were delighted to see him go. So, this analysis of the contemporary roots of Muslim rage seems to be quite deficient.  Or you’ll see today on the left-wing websites “the radical Muslims are upset because the United States, even today, supports unelected tyrannical regimes in the Middle East.  But if you think about it, this cannot be a very plausible source of Muslim anger – that we support unelected, despotic, tyrannical regimes in the region – since there are no other kinds of regimes in the Middle East. Not counting Israel, tyrannical despotic regimes are all you have over there.  Bin Laden’s argument has never been that we support tyranny. His argument is that we support the wrong kind of tyranny. We support, in his view, the tyranny of the infidel – secular tyranny. He thinks we should be supporting the tyranny of the believer.  But now I turn very briefly to the conservative side because I think with equal confidence we have had assertions that try to explain what’s going on in the Muslim world.  The radical Muslims are against modernity. They’re against science. They’re against democracy. They’re against capitalism. President Bush says “They hate us for our freedom.” I think that these claims are equally questionable.  First of all, the radical Muslims are not against science. Most of them are, in fact, scientifically trained. If you think about the suicide attackers – not just at 9/11, but the London bombing, the Madrid, or the Bali bombing – how many of these suicide attacks have been done by mullahs? By my count, not one.  But, by contrast, most of these guys – 80 to 90 percent – appear to have some kind of scientific training, not to mention a considerable exposure to the West. Bin Laden himself was a civil engineer, his deputy Al-Zawahri was a medical doctor. Ramzi Yousef, who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993, was an electrical engineer. Mohamed Atta was an urban planner. The fellow who chopped off Daniel Pearl’s head was an attendee of the London School of Economics. And one can go on. They’re not against science. You’ll find in the literature of radical Islam – which is kind of how I started this book, to study the literature of radical Islam, the thinkers who are shaping minds over there – no condemnations of capitalism. And I think I know why: The Prophet Muhammad was by profession a trader, a merchant; Islam historically has been pretty friendly to capitalism and trade.  And what about democracy? Well, this is a little trickier, because historically the radical Muslims have been against democracy. They have taken the view, which Bin Laden himself has expressed: “You cannot allow the will of the people to substitute for the will of God.” That’s been the classical view. But, of late, the radical Muslims have had a revelation; and that is “we shouldn’t be against democracy because if you have democracy, we can win.” They saw this in Algeria in the early 1990s when an Islamic radical group called The Islamic Salvation Front routed the ruling FLN – and the FLN is the liberation group that pushed the French out of Algeria.  They were trounced by the radical Muslims. The elections were cancelled. Algeria was thrown into civil war, but the radical Muslims learned a lesson. And they have seen more recently with the victories of Hamas and the success of the Muslim brotherhood in the Egyptian parliamentary election that “look, democracy can work.” As one Hamas guy told The New Yorker recently, “we have learned to play the democracy game.”  Now the reason this is a supreme dilemma for Bush is because Bush has been basically prancing around the globe saying, “We want to have elections all over the world,” and the radical Muslims have a knock-down response: “Okay, Mr. Bush, let’s have a free election in Saudi Arabia in six months. We’ll run the Royal Family against the Bin Laden guys.”  Now, would the United States foreign policy for one minute consider the possibility that the holy sites and a big fraction of the world’s exportable oil will end up in the hands of Al-Qaeda? This would be insane.  So, what I’m suggesting is we need to go back a little bit to the drawing board. Now what I want to do, if I can in my brief time, is say a word about the Iraq war and then say a word about the enemy at home. I was on a campus the other day, and I said, “In retrospect I wish the United States had focused on Iran. Why? Because Iran is the one state that has been in the grasp of radical Islam for a generation and the Iranians have been pursuing those weapons of mass destruction with the same zeal and, apparently, greater success than Saddam.” But, I said, “Don’t be too cocky about this because, frankly, no president ever got to make a decision in retrospect. A statesman is in the moving current of events. You weigh competing risks. You make decisions with the information available at the time. You don’t have the benefit of hindsight.”  But it’s reasonable to ask, nevertheless, what is America trying to achieve in Iraq and can this, in fact, be done. To me, what America is trying to achieve is quite simple: If you are an ordinary Muslim in the Middle East – not a radical Muslim, not a Jihadi, just a guy coming out of school or college – if you look at your neighborhood, you see two kinds of regimes, two kinds of governments. You see Islamic tyranny, and you see secular tyranny. What’s Islamic tyranny? Well, Iran’s rule of the Mullahs, theocracy. That’s kind of the Bin Laden model, loosely speaking.  What is secular tyranny? Everybody else. Asad in Syria, Mubarak in Egypt, Abdullah in Jordan, the Gulf kingdoms and so on. So, the Muslim has a pretty sad choice if you think about it: Islamic tyranny or secular tyranny? It’s not totally surprising that in that bleak scenario quite a few Muslims think, ” If I’m going to have tyranny, why not pick the Islamic variety.”  I think in Iraq, the United States is attempting – boldly, against history – to put a new card on the table, a new option. Call it Muslim democracy.  Again, we should be a little clearheaded about this. The idea here is not to go around the world overthrowing dictators and establishing democracies. We are not the world’s policemen. Foreign policy is not philanthropy.  In Iraq, we are trying not to impose democracy everywhere but merely to impose it somewhere. The idea being that if it takes root, it offers the traditional Muslims an alternative, a viable third way. Now, what’s amazing is that we keep hearing that this war can’t be won; in fact, is being lost – or if you believe The New Republic, is already lost. You turn on the television you will see very eloquent people – I saw Congressman Murtha saying in a recent interview, “the Iraqis are very upset that we’re over there. The Iraqis resist the American occupation. The Iraqis feel we don’t belong there.” And this is really amazing. I’m listening to “the Iraqis think this,” “the Iraqis feel that,” and I’m thinking, “How do you know?”  You hear this type of analysis everyday. You hear, for example, “This is becoming Vietnam all over again. America is in a quagmire,” and so on. Think about this. First of all, in Vietnam there were a million men on the other side. Iraq is a little different. In Iraq you’ve got three groups. You’ve got the Shia, who are the majority (60 percent). You’ve got the Kurds, who are a minority (20 percent). You’ve got the Sunnis, a minority (20 percent). The insurgency by consensus is derived entirely from group number three, the Sunnis. The insurgency is not 20 percent; it’s a sliver of 20 percent. On the other side, you have the Kurds, who are openly and almost embarrassingly pro-American. You’ve got the Shia who I would describe as tactically pro-American. I don’t mean that they are pro-American by enthusiastic sentiment, but they’re pro-American because we put them in power.  So here you have a war, the insurgents are pulling from 20 percent. You’ve got the Kurds and the Shia de facto on our side. Add to this American wealth, American technology, American military training, and American prowess. I mean, who’s going to win the war in Iraq? I submit you don’t have to be a West Point strategist to see there is no way for America, militarily, to lose that war.  Now, having said this statement I retract it in one small but important respect. I think that there is one way for us to lose the war and that is to lose it in the American mind.  Military strategists from Sun Tzu to Clausewitz will tell us that force or strength is the product of resources times will. All the force in the world is useless if you don’t have the will. Recently Bin Laden’s deputy, Al-Zawahiri, issued a very arrogant statement: “Mr. Bush, send the whole military. The dogs of Iraq are waiting to lick their bodies” – something of that nature.  What is the meaning of that statement? To me, it implies the smell of victory. The insurgents think they are winning and they are kind of winning. But they’re winning not because they are trouncing the American military on the streets of Baghdad. They are winning because they don’t have to do that; they just have to hang in there a little longer.  Why? Because they know there’s this big debate going on in America. And they know even more that besides the legendary impatience of the American people, there is a faction in America, once marginal but now whispering daily into the ears of people like Pelosi and Murtha and Rangel and Kennedy saying “let’s get out.” So powerful is this Left that it now has the Democratic presidential candidates in a competition to see who can do the most and the quickest to thwart and trip and block Bush’s War on Terror. One guy says, “I’ll shut down Guantanamo Bay.” Another says, “I’ll cut off the funding. I’ll block the surge.” Another says, “I’ll withdraw all the troops.” And finally, Hillary said, “I’ll make sure the Iraq war is done.” Done in what way? We get out?  And if the American military plus the Iraqi government has its hands full with the insurgents, it’s a pretty safe bet what would happen if the American protective hand is withdrawn. Now again, this is not Vietnam.  The Iraqi insurgents have already said, “We want to control Iraq.” Let’s remember that Islamic radicalism for a generation has had so far only one major state, Iran. But Iran is a freak state. By that I mean Iran – the Iranians are Persian in a world that is largely Arab. They are Shia in a Muslim world that’s largely Sunni. The Khomeini revolution was inexportable; although Khomeini wanted it to go global, it never did.  The Iraqi insurgents are determined that a second major state fall into their hands, ideally to establish a Sunni model for the vast majority of Muslims in the world. And they’ve already said that if they get Iraq, their next targets will be Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  So my point is that for the foreseeable future, we’re dependent on Middle Eastern oil. Not only our economic welfare, but our basic security is at stake. In this sense, the Left is the enemy at home. What I mean is that the Left is doing work that the Iraqi insurgents need done but can’t do themselves. There’s absolutely no way Bin Laden could persuade America to withdraw from Iraq, but to his unbelievable good fortune, there is a huge powerful group in America lobbying for exactly that outcome. That’s my point. In a sense, the Left and the radical Muslims, although they have completely opposite agendas; they want to live in two very different kinds of societies. The radical Muslims want Sharia, and the Left wants the permissive society; however, they share a common imperative: to defeat Bush in Iraq. The Left would like to hang Iraq, make it a millstone around Bush’s neck. And so, the Left and the radical Muslims are operating like the two prongs of a scissors. They don’t talk to each other. They don’t conspire. However, they work independently toward the same goal. In a way, the radical Muslims supply the terror and the Left invokes it and uses it to demoralize the American people, saying, “It’s just not worth it; let’s just move out of there.”  So, as conservatives – I will end on this note, perhaps. The Bush administration has been fighting – whether it knows it or not – two wars: There is a military war against an enemy abroad, and there is a political war against an enemy at home.  As I said when I first wrote this book, the Left was not in power but now its presence is palpable. And so, in a sense, this has moved the Iraq war, one may say, into a terminal ultimate stage. I think in this book I am questioning a lot of orthodoxies not just on the Left, but also a few on the Right.  But if you think about it, the reason I think we need this debate is that our conservative strategy of the past five years has not been working all that well. This strategy I would summarize as basically attempting to convince liberals that radical Muslims don’t really like you. The idea is that if the liberal only realized this, the scales would fall from his eyes; he would jump on the bandwagon, and we would have a unified War on Terror.  I ask you, has this strategy produced a single convert to date? If not, it’s time to open up the debate. It’s time to think of some new strategies. Ultimately it’s up to people in this room, people like us, to make the difference. I want to end with that slogan from the ’60s, “If not now, when? If not us, who?”Thank you very much.

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Political and Moral Dissolution

Political and Moral Dissolution

Liberals’ head-in-the-sand urge to pull troops out of Iraq is nothing new.  Western democracies, entranced with liberal Progressivism, have failed repeatedly to preserve social and political stability.

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In words that apply to public opinion today, Walter Lippmann, in The Public Philosophy (1954), described his dismay in the summer of 1938, when war in Europe seemed inevitable.

…there was no sure prospect that France and Great Britain would be able to withstand the [German] onslaught that was coming.  They were unprepared, their people were divided and demoralized.  The Americans were far away, were determined to be neutral, and were unarmed….. I began writing, impelled by the need to make more intelligible to myself the alarming failure of the Western liberal democracies to cope with the realities of [the 20th] century.

Today we are armed, albeit at only about half the strength level prevailing when Bill Clinton slashed defense spending to reap the “peace dividend” for new welfare-state spending programs.  But we are again disastrously divided and demoralized, just as were Hitler’s adversaries in 1938.

There is a causal connection between moral dissolution in the 20th century and the end of the 19th century’s Pax Britannica, a period of unmatched social and economic progress, coupled with remarkable political stability.

The great social movements that outlawed slavery in the non-Muslim world, created free public education, and ameliorated working and living conditions were all originated by Judeo-Christian religious groups, notably the Methodists in England.  Those impulses, based on the Bible’s instruction, were strongest in the first half of the 19th century.

Economic individualism resting on the moral sentiment of benevolence, identified by Adam Smith as the source of national wealth, led to an unparalleled rapidity of growth in world commerce that raised everyone’s living standard.  Coupling economic laissez-faire with the Protestant ethic of hard work, saving for the family’s future, and applying money to God’s work, led to the rise of Great Britain and the United States as the dominant world powers. 

By mid-century, however, the growing influence of amoral, atheistic, and materialistic doctrine, masquerading as science, began blunting the Judeo-Christian impulse.  Auguste Comte’s socialistic Religion of Humanity in the 1820s preached that human reason alone (exercised by intellectuals, of course) was the route to social perfection.  Materialism took a more dangerous turn in the 1840s and 50s, when Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels called for armed revolt by the workers to forge a new and perfected human character in the fires of revolution.

The violence of the French Revolution and Marx’s Communist Manifesto took hold on the Continent in the revolutions of 1789, 1830, 1848, and the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Not infected with socialism until after mid-century, England and the United States followed the non-revolutionary path laid out by Comte’s Religion of Humanity.  Both here and there, the agency of diffusion for this morally-relativistic materialism was education in the colleges and universities. 

By the end of the 19th century, Western intellectuals were confident that civilization was inevitably marching down the path of Progress to social perfection.  Liberal governments were replacing autocracies; czarist Russia, the most autocratic of all, had abandoned the strictures of feudal serfdom in 1861.

Intellectuals understood this progress to be the result of abandoning Judeo-Christian religion and turning to the putative science of Comte’s Religion of Humanity.  Scriptural dictates of morality, from the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic law to the teaching of Jesus Christ, were regarded as limitations on the human spirit and hindrances to Progress.

Human freedom was equated with the breakdown of Victorian principles of morality.  As the Ethical Culturalists say, deeds not creeds.  John Stuart Mill expressed it crisply in his 1859 essay On Liberty. By adopting the morally relativistic principle of tolerance for all viewpoints (today’s multi-culturalism), intellectuals in theory would liberate humanity for an explosion of creativity and entry into a new world of social harmony.

Scientism, in the garments of 1859’s Darwinian evolution, taught that life itself and all life forms were the result of random chance, responding only to materialistic forces via the process of natural selection.  Darwin and his early followers declared that God had no role in the process, and morality was a fiction; life was merely a matter of survival of the fittest, in which there was no such thing as sin.

In the ivory towers of academia, such doctrine was a heady brew that fired the imagination of social and political theorists.  They hubristically presumed to reshape human nature and perfect the institutions of society.  Progress was to be achieved by regulating the material conditions of human life so as to accelerate and channel the randomness of natural selection.

It is this doctrinal background that leads liberals today to attack evangelical Christianity as a worse enemy than Islamic jihad.  The intensity of liberal emotions reflects the secular religious nature of their faith.

It is thus hardly surprising that every time a liberal Democratic Party administration takes office, we suffer a resurgence of this social fantasy, as we see now in the new Congress. 

In their materialistic world, devoid of spirituality, liberals are confident that Islamic jihad is, at bottom, analogous to labor unionism, aimed at securing a bigger slice of the public welfare pie.  They are equally confident, as were the Progressives in 1914 on the eve of World War I and again in 1938 at the outset of World War II, that diplomatic discussions at international conferences will satisfy belligerents and insure peace.

The common element in these recurrent, wishful delusions is an inaccurate understanding of human nature. 

Contrary to the liberal view, God is not dead.  Most people everywhere have spiritual longings, and everywhere instinctively perceive themselves to be creatures of a Being of infinite force and extent.  People everywhere and at all times have sought revelations of spiritual truth as the source of order in political societies. 

Voluntary compliance with the rules of social order historically flows from perception by the masses that those rules are grounded in God’s truth.  The average citizen will not give the same measure of respect to orders from Washington bureaucrats as he will to the Word of God.  True social freedom and order come from individuals’ self-discipline oriented by knowledge that their conduct will be judged in the Hereafter. 

In contrast, the bloody 20th century demonstrates the failure of imposing social order via unaided human reason alone, manifested in the arbitrary regulatory force of intellectuals’ continually changing social and economic theories.  In the USSR and National Socialist Germany, it was disastrous.  In a spiritless world of Darwinian randomness, where survival of the fittest replaces morals, anything goes.

Wed to atheistic materialism, liberals still fail to recognize that, however misguided, Islamic jihadists are driven by spiritual urges, not material desires.

What Eric Voegelin termed the search for order is a metaphor for civilization itself.  The critical question is whether the ordering principles of political societies are to come from a liberal elite, living in ivory towers far above the multitudes, or whether the ordering principles are to come from philosophical study of the human soul and from Divine revelation.

The development of Western civilization, from the time of Constantine in the 4th century AD, until the end of the 19th century, was guided by the Bible and Judeo-Christian instruction.

The horrors of both World Wars, the Russian Revolution, and Hitler’s National Socialism could only have come about after dismissal of the moral strictures of Judeo-Christianity and the accession to power of atheistic and materialistic state-planners, for whom the liquidation of a few million people was merely an unfortunate step along the pathway of Progressivism.

Liberals, unfortunately, are once again the untrustworthy gatekeepers at a critical turning point in Western history.

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al Qaeda on the run

McCain Blasts ‘Vote of No Confidence’

McCain Blasts ‘Vote of No Confidence’

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Feb 4, 3:17 PM (ET)

By HOPE YEN

(AP) Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speak about Iraq…
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WASHINGTON (AP) – The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee sought to weaken support for a resolution opposing President Bush’s Iraq war strategy, saying Sunday that proponents are intellectually dishonest.

On the eve before a possible congressional showdown on Iraq strategy, Arizona Sen. John McCain contended the bipartisan proposal amounted to a demoralizing “vote of no confidence” in the U.S. military. The measure, he said, criticizes Bush’s plan to add 21,500 troops in Iraq yet offers no concrete alternatives.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to say that you disapprove of a mission and you don’t want to fund it and you don’t want it to go, but yet you don’t take the action necessary to prevent it,” said McCain, a 2008 presidential candidate.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called GOP efforts to block a vote on the resolution “obstructionism.” Neither a Senate majority nor voters, she said, will tolerate such a delaying tactic.

(AP) This photo provided by the Library of Congress shows John McCain, (front, right) with his squadron…
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“If we can’t get this done, you can be sure a month or so down the pike, there’s going to be much stronger legislation,” she said.

The Senate, where Democrats hold a 51-49 working majority, has tentatively set an early test vote for Monday on the nonbinding resolution by Sen. John Warner, R-Va.

In a bid to attract more GOP support, Warner added a provision pledging to protect money for troops in combat.

That compromise drew the ire of some Democrats who said it leaned too far in endorsing the status quo. They want to see binding legislation to cap troop levels, force a new vote to authorize the war or begin bringing troops home.

McCain is sponsoring a resolution expressing support for a troop increase and setting benchmark goals for the Iraqi government. He sought to capitalize on some of the Democratic division.

(AP) Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. takes part in a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington in this Sept….
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“I do believe that if you really believe that this is doomed to failure and is going to cost American lives, then you should do what’s necessary to prevent it from happening rather than a vote of ‘disapproval,’” McCain said.

“This is a vote of no confidence in both the mission and the troops who are going over there,” he said, noting the proposal does not seek to cut off money for troops.

A fellow Vietnam veteran, GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, disagreed with McCain’s assessment. Hagel said the resolution would make clear the Senate’s belief that Bush’s policy is misguided.

Hagel said the proposal also lays out alternatives such as moving troops away from the sectarian violence and closer to the Iraq border to provide “territorial integrity.”

“We can’t change the outcome of Iraq by putting American troops in the middle of a civil war,” said Hagel, who is considering a run for the White House in 2008.

(AP) Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., right, accompanied by Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis. meets with reporters…
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Republican leaders are working to block a vote on Warner’s resolution. They insisted that at least two other GOP proposals also be considered – McCain’s and one focused on maintaining money for troops in the field. Such a strategy could dilute support for Warner’s measure and make it tougher for any measure to pass.

Democrats want to limit debate to just the Warner and McCain proposals.

Two Republicans who oppose Warner’s proposal, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Richard Lugar of Indiana, said Sunday they were uncertain the Warner resolution would get the support of 60 senators.

“Even if there is, it’s nonbinding, and has in my judgment no consequence,” Lugar said.

Hagel said Warner’s resolution strikes a careful balance for a majority of senators who oppose a troop buildup but differ on the appropriate response.

(AP) Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., left, talks during a special hearing on the regional impact of the new…
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He called McCain’s proposal meaningless because it offers benchmarks but does not spell out what the U.S. government will do if the Iraqi officials fail to meet them.

“What are the consequences? Are we then going to pull out?” Hagel asked. “Are we going to cut funding? Now, that falls more in the intellectually dishonest category.”

The resolution debate comes as the White House and congressional Democrats prepared to square off over war spending.

Bush’s new budget on Monday will ask for $100 billion more for military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan this year – on top of $70 billion already approved by Congress for the current year. The budget will call for $145 billion in war spending for 2008.

The spending request covers Bush’s new war strategy, including the increase in troops, White House budget director Rob Portman said Sunday.

“It’s extremely important that we support our troops,” Portman said. He described the requested money as the amount needed “to be sure our troops have the equipment they need, that they are taken care of well.”

Hagel and McCain appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” Graham was on “Fox News Sunday,” and Feinstein, Lugar and Portman spoke on “Late Edition” on CNN.

The Democrats Want To Lose In Iraq For Purely Political Reasons

The Democrats Want To Lose In Iraq For Purely Political Reasons

The pro-surrender Democrats are bound and determined to give-in to Al-Qaeda before the surge has a chance to work:

“Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee began laying the constitutional groundwork today for an effort to block President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq and place new limits on the conduct of the war there, perhaps forcing a withdrawal of American forces from Iraq….Senator Russell Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat who acted as chairman for the hearing, said he would soon introduce a resolution that would go much further. It would end all financing for the deployment of American military forces in Iraq after six months, other than a limited number working on counterterrorism operations or training the Iraqi army and police. In effect, it would call for all other American forces to be withdrawn by the six-month deadline.

…Mr. Feingold insisted that his resolution would “not hurt our troops in any way” because they would all continue to be paid, supplied, equipped and trained as usual — just not in Iraq.

The panel heard from legal experts, who cited constitutional debates over conflicts ranging from the “quasi-war” with Napoleon in 1798 to peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Somalia in recent years. No war seemed to hang more heavily over the hearing than Vietnam, where Congress brought American involvement to a close by cutting off financing.

Prof. Robert Turner of the University of Virginia suggested that Congress had made itself responsible for the deaths of the 1.7 million Cambodians estimated to have been slaughtered by the Khmer Rouge, by denying funds for President Nixon to wage war inside Cambodia. Similarly, he said Congress bore responsibility for the deaths of 241 marines killed by a suicide bomber in Lebanon in 1983 because it raised the question of forcing a withdrawal there.”

The surge hasn’t even started yet and we’re already seeing results in Iraq. Al-Qaeda is fleeing Baghdad, Al-Sadr’s militia is standing down, the Iraqi government is standing up, and we’re knocking the Iranians around. Plus, when we have clearcut performance benchmarks in Iraq, like having the Iraqis take over the day to day security of every province by the end of November, that will allow us to see if we’re succeeding or failing by the end of year. So, what’s not to like once you get beyond the mindless pessimism?

Here’s the honest truth: the primary motivator for the Democrats right now is politics, pure and simple, not our national security.

The war is unpopular and their base is demanding that we give up, but it goes much deeper than that. You see, at this point, the Democrats have calculated that it’s in their political interest to fail in Iraq and therefore, they want to lose the war.

After all, they’ve successfully managed to portray this as “Bush’s war,” and if they cut off funds and everything falls apart, well, they’re confident that they can blame that on Bush. But, on the other hand, if the surge succeeds, then Bush will get a boost from it and the popularity of the war will climb. That would put them in an incredibly tough spot in 2008 because their base will demand that we capitulate to the terrorists whether we’re winning or losing, and the rest of the American public won’t go along with knuckling under in an effort that seems to be succeeding.

On the other hand, if we lose, it would be a huge hit for the left’s most hated foe, George Bush, it’ll humiliate the military, which most liberals feel nothing but contempt for despite their protestations to their contrary, and they’ll be able to spend years walking around, saying, “See? You can’t win the war on terror with military means. We have to use law enforcement measures instead!”

To liberals, these petty concerns are more important than America winning a war that is vitally important to our national security.

War and Presidential Popularity

War and Presidential Popularity

By Frederick J. Chiaventone

Whatever one might think of President Bush’s much touted popularity numbers – or perhaps one should say unpopularity numbers – in the polls, the historical convergence of conflict and Presidential approval ratings is almost universally dismal.
Our contemporary collective memories most readily recall the lackluster approval ratings of the Presidents involved in Vietnam.  Johnson and later Nixon took severe hits in popularity as the war in Southeast Asia dragged on seemingly without end and at horrendous cost to American families. Lyndon Johnson was so disheartened that he opted not to run for re-election and Nixon worked as quickly as possible to bring to a close this very unpopular conflict.  Their predecessor John F. Kennedy seems largely to have escaped the wrath of the pollsters but it is easy to forget that the US involvement in Vietnam, initiated in his Presidency, was still in its infancy at the time of his death.
Several years before Kennedy’s Administration, Harry Truman found himself embroiled in the first of many post-World War II conflicts as the United States struggled to rescue South Korea from an unprovoked assault by hordes of North Korean and later Chinese troops.  A confused, nasty slugfest resulted that cost over 54,00 American lives by the time an uneasy cease-fire was signed in Panmunjon. By then, Truman’s approval rating had slipped to 22% (lower even than President Bush’s most recent polling figures) and his hopes for re-election had ended with his defeat in the New Hampshire primary.
Truman’s predecessor in the White House, the inimitable Franklin Roosevelt, alone among what could be termed War Presidents, seems to have avoided the excoriation of a disenchanted press and public. Despite his election to the Presidency for an unprecedented four terms, and despite America’s twin trials of the Great Depression and World War II, Roosevelt seems to have escaped the harsher judgments of the opinion pollsters (perhaps owing to the fact that the Gallup Poll did not make its debut until after his death) and the press. But even the sainted FDR had his critics as American forces sustained unprecedented casualties for a 20th Century war.
Woodrow Wilson, who was elected on the slogan “He kept us out of war!” was nonetheless obliged to commit United States forces against Imperial Germany. Unrestricted submarine warfare waged by Germany – especially with the sinking of the Lusitania – and the subsequent uncovering of the infamous Zimmerman Telegram (in which Imperial Germany urged Mexico to attack the United States) had so aroused American passions that Wilson felt he had no peaceful options open.  Notwithstanding these circumstances, so concerned was Wilson to curry the favor of the American public that some scholars have speculated that his mental and physical breakdown in the last year of his term was due to his inability to cope with the stresses of maintaining a popular mandate.
The Great Emancipator himself, Abraham Lincoln, was pilloried in the press, by opposition politicians, and even his own generals as he tried to prosecute the nation’s bloodiest, and possibly most necessary war.  In fact, as historian Geoffrey Ward has noted,

“What is remarkable…is how little praise Lincoln got and how much abuse he endured without complaint.” 

In hindsight however we readily acknowledge that Mr. Lincoln’s war was an indispensable and possibly unavoidable turning point for this nation.  The dreadful knowledge which Lincoln carried internally, was that this war, however horrifying. however thankless and distasteful a task, was one that must be seen through to the bitter end.

Thus let us try not leap to judgment in the aftermath of President Bush’s annual State of the Union address.  The opposition in both Democratic and Republican parties have been looking anxiously at  opinion polls and American involvement in Iraq.  But, the question to ask is “What if the opposition is wrong?”  Only twice before in our history has America been threatened by external forces – once by the bandit Pancho Villa’s depredations in our Southwest, and once by British troops who actually burned the White House in the War of 1812.  In neither case did the enemy have or seek the capabilities which are actively being sought by our enemies in the Middle East and Afghanistan. In neither case did the civilian casualties inflicted rival those of the attack on the World Trade Center.  In neither case did the enemy seek to destroy utterly the United States, our population, our form of government.  In neither case were the stakes quite so high as they are today. 
Frederick J. Chiaventone – award-winning novelist, screenwriter, and retired Army officer taught International Security Affairs and counter-insurgency operations  at the US Army’s Command and General Staff College.

Group Think Is Killing Us in Iraq

Group Think Is Killing Us in Iraq

By Michael Nyilis

“Know your enemy.”

     Sun Tzu, 6th century BC
“We are having a huge time, still, identifying the enemy.”

     Lee Hamilton, Co-Chairman, Iraq Study Group, December 7, 2006

Making a mistake in war can get you killed.  And when you have bad intelligence, military commanders make bad decisions-and many people get killed.
The Iraq Study Group (ISG) found that “our government does not understand very well either the insurgency in Iraq or the role of militias.” 
“Know your enemy”-all students of war are taught Sun Tzu’s maxim.  But top officials in the U.S. government remain nearly as puzzled today about the enemy in Iraq as they were in March 2003, when Iraq war began.  Astonishing.  Many of the mistakes we are making in Iraq stem from our poor understanding of the enemy.  We admit this deficiency-yet we continue on as before, making the same mistakes again and again.
Answers to basic questions elude us.  Is the main enemy in Iraq al-Qaeda or Sunni Baathists?  Should our focus be on Shia militias?  To what degree are foreign jihadists working with former Baathist regime members?  What is the relationship between the Syrian government and the Sunni insurgents?  Who is coordinating insurgent activity?  Is Iran supporting the insurgency and how?  Is our intelligence getting better over time-or are incorrect assumptions about the enemy we face actually making our understanding of the insurgency worse?
President Bush’s latest plan to turn things around in Iraq will certainly fail if we do not focus on the intelligence problems that plague us.  Why are commanders on the ground in Iraq as frustrated over the quality of the intelligence they receive today as they were three and a half years ago?  First, in fairness, the business of intelligence is inherently very difficult.  Intelligence is nearly always ambiguous, contradictory, and hard to assimilate.  Two people, looking at the exact same information, frequently come to different, even opposite, conclusions.  Add to that the fact that intelligence analysis almost always has political implications, and you have a recipe for competing theories about what all the data mean.
This is not necessarily a bad thing.  Asserting that there is a “consensus view” is often nothing more than an indicator that intelligence agencies are suffering from “group think”-which is the last thing we want, especially if the conventional wisdom is wrong.  It often is.  If it were always right, the Soviet Union would still be around.  Saddam Hussein would not have dared to defy the world in 1991.  America would have been hit again after 9/11.
In Iraq, we do not seem to be taking intelligence seriously.  The CIA has many talented and capable agents and analysts, but it has been sending people in for 90-day Iraq assignments who do not even speak Arabic, according to Bob Woodward in his latest book.  Iraq must be a low priority-personnel are rotated in and out of Iraq before having enough time to develop real expertise.  And five years after 9/11, Americans who speak Arabic are still rare.  Proficiency in Arabic is not noticeably widespread in other parts of the government either.
Another problem in Iraq is that we rely heavily on foreign intelligence agencies to provide us with information.  “Friendly” Arab governments have their own agenda, and Arab intelligence services have been known to lead us astray more times than we care to admit.
Equally vexing is the problem of Iraqis who manipulate intelligence officers by providing false or politically motivated information.  Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte candidly explained why: 

“The human sources the CIA had recruited reflected the politicization of Iraq.”

Everyone had taken sides, and it was hard to find unbiased sources, as Woodward reports.  Negroponte admitted that the insurgency was essentially a “mystery.” 
A mystery?  Is intelligence simply a matter of divining tea leaves?
There are very specific reasons for our distorted understanding of the different elements of the insurgency, their relative importance, and the nature of their interactions.  Foreign fighters use cell phones and the Internet whereas former regime members involved in the insurgency do not.  Given that our signals intelligence-interception of electronic communications-is often excellent (sorting it all out is another matter) and our human intelligence is often terrible, we are led to believe that al-Qaeda is playing a much greater role in the insurgency than are the Baathists.  What this suggests, in fact, is that the Baathists are much more sophisticated-and capable-than al-Qaeda.  This should not surprise us, especially given their greater numbers, their knowledge of their home turf, their professional military and intelligence training, and their access to high tech military hardware.
Our conclusions about how to prosecute the war are based on intelligence and on our understanding of the Middle East.   But the intelligence is often wrong or misleading, and our understanding of the Middle East, prior to 9/11, did not extend much beyond Arab-Israeli issues and has improved little since.
The key reason behind our misunderstanding of the region is a false concept we have embraced:  that “secular” and “Islamic” entities do not co-operate.  Yet we know that they do.  Syria supports Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  Qaddafi supported the Abu Sayyaf Group.  Iran supports the PLO.  Lebanon encompasses countless unusual alliances.  For example, Maronite Christian leader Michael Aoun is allied with Hezbollah.  Such alliances make no sense at all to Americans-but they are common in the Middle East.
Indeed, co-operation between “secular” and “Islamic” entities is so common that is rather strange that we dismiss the possibility that “strange bedfellows” could be operating against us.  It should not surprise us that groups and nations form unlikely alliances.  After all, the U.S. allied with Stalin, and Stalin and Hitler entered into a co-operative agreement-until June 1941 anyway.  The whole notion that secular Muslims and Islamic terrorists could not cooperate is as absurd as asserting that rival Mafia families never collaborate against a common enemy.  Terrorist groups cooperate all the time across the ideological divide-as they are doing in Iraq now.
Our obstinate belief in the false idea that secular and Islamist entities must be enemies has had dire consequences.  We have become fixated on Islamic figures, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Islamic groups like al-Qaeda, and do not seriously pursue the question of the support they receive from others.  U.S. forces finally killed Zarqawi in June 2006, but his demise has had no noticeable impact on the war.
Those native to the region have a clearer understanding of the war we are in.  Senior Iraqi officials-such as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, and many others-say that the insurgency in Iraq is primarily Baathist.  Nevertheless, we continue to believe that we know better than the Iraqis.  A June National Security Council report that was recently leaked to the New York Times all but declares that the Baathists have given up, convinced that they will not return to power.  This is utter nonsense and an example of a curious phenomenon:  we admit that our intelligence is bad, and yet we continue to hold the same assumptions about the enemy and the war that we did before.
An error in strategic intelligence has plagued us for more than a decade:  the notion that there is a jihadi movement that operates independently of terrorist states.  The idea of a movement separate and apart from Islamic terrorism that we call “Islamism” was basically invented in the early 1990′s, and we seem more committed to it than ever.  This is a classic case of “group think.”  The current consensus view, however, is the reverse of the conclusion that we reached in the 1980s, when the issue of states and groups was vigorously debated under CIA Director Bill Casey and his deputy-Robert Gates.  The same people who denied that the Soviet Union supported terrorist groups-support which has been demonstrated conclusively by those who have researched the archives of the Soviet Union and other Communist states, and which appears in the VENONA intercepts as well-continue to explain away evidence of state support for Islamic terrorism.  This fundamental misconception is crippling our ability to fight the global war on terror, and it is a violation of Sun Tzu’s first, most fundamental rule:  “Know your enemy.”   We still do not.
Michael Nyilis recently served in Afghanistan, and now works as a speechwriter in Washington, DC. 

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