June 20, 2014

This time Obama is right

I've been in unfamiliar territory this week as I find myself approving of President Obama's decision to NOT start shooting and bombing "ISIS terrorists" in Iraq. The novelty here is the agreement with the president, and disagreement with most hosts and callers on talk radio. One notable exception is Jason Lewis, who says we have no business risking blood or treasure in the latest Iraq violence.

"Because Iran will if we don't" is no reason to insert ourselves in Iraq's civil war. Nor is "because Russia will if we don't" a reason to use force in Syria or Turkey. (We can have a conversation about Ukraine.)

Perhaps I'm following a recent trend of taking contrarian views without sufficient reflection and if so, I welcome those who may correct me. But first I want to warn you that my side includes Wednesday's "From the Right" editorialist on IBD's Ed page, Doug Bandow.

It is time for Washington to stop trying to micromanage other nations' affairs and to practice humility. This wouldn't be isolationism. America, and especially Americans, should be engaged in the world. But our government's expectations should be realistic, its ambitions bounded. American officials should abandon their persistent fantasy of reordering the world.

Obama's foreign policy may be feckless. But that's not its principal failing. As long as Washington tries to dominate and micromanage the world, it will end up harming U.S. interests.

Yes, that was from the right, a place not occupied by Neocons like McCain, Graham and Cheney.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:23 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Tentative agreement, though I think we are coming from different perspectives.

A blog named after a Natan Sharansky quote must come to terms with some of the excesses of neo-conservatism. I have quietly revised some views since 2003, but I am not in the camp of Rand Paul's WSJ Editorial today. And I suspect, I am neither in the camp of brother jg.

An older, wiser, hindsight-enabled jk looks back and concludes:

1) The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was worthwhile. War opponents are correct to point out bad current conditions, but they never compare those exigencies to 11 more years of Saddam Hussein's rule. Some good things happened in Iraq -- and some good things happened in other mideastern nations; Sharansky was vindicated.

2) I don't agree with Ambassador John Bolton everyday, but he was on The Independents last week. Facing a triple barrel of hostile, Libertoid snark, he held firm that invasion, good, nation-building bad. We deposed Saddam in nine days. With all respect to Sec, Powell, it wasn't Pottery Barn. We could have left it broken and done it again if the new government was not more amenable. Folks came in and looted the museums? Sorry 'bout that.

3) I recall talking with ThreeSourcers in 2008. It was obvious that then Senator Obama was going to win and we knew he would squander the hard-fought gains. We knew he'd telegraph a retreat; hell, he campaigned on that. Thucydides warned about long engagements and Democracies.

4) A projection of strength would have gone a log way in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Iraq. President Obama so obviously wants to focus on Domestic issues that the would world knows they may act with impunity. We were the house with the "proudly gun free!" sign out front and now we're surprised we were robbed.

5) At this point in time, I do not trust the President's commitment, discernment, or competence to intervene. The Electoral College chose him, he chose disengagement, we are where we are -- blustering our way in there now has little upside and tremendous downside.

BUT: I'll quibble with Bandow's "As long as Washington tries to dominate and micromanage the world" and Rand Paul's "We will do ourselves no favors if we simply recommit to the same mistakes and heed the advice of those who made them in the first place."

I sure wish the world did not require US influence and that Pax did not require Americana. But I do not believe it for a second. David Boaz and Rep. Ron Paul assert that they'll leave us alone if we leave them alone. People used to tell me that about wasps -- and they always stung me.

Bringing me to: 6) Elect a competent and tough C-in-C in 2016. Until then, world, you're on your own.

Posted by: jk at June 20, 2014 5:46 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Good reply. It seems I'm not too far in the weeds but brother BR hasn't chimed in yet.

I agreed with 1) and 2) at the time, and I agree with them still, albeit stronger on 2) than 1).

A big problem with a foreign policy of "projecting strength" is that someone might call your bluff. Islamists are generally inclined to do this in spite of self-interested reasons not to. They're kinda old fashioned playground toughs that way. But take Bandow's point about Iran and the Shah back in '53. What if we'd left them alone then? We'd still be a Satan for supporting Israel but there would be fewer grievances for sustaining anti-American fervor.

Here's the rub: I don't advocate isolationism, rather diplomacy with carrots instead of sticks. Just as I don't agree with government force as a tool for reducing drug use or abortions, I think we'll do better with the nations and peoples of the world when they try things on their own and find out we were right when we needled and cajoled and incentivized our way than if we bomb their asses for disobedience. Or even just install our own puppet regimes.

I'm really curious where you quibble with "Washington ... dominate and micromanage the world." Are you happy when Washington does that to Colorado? We are all TEA Partiers now!

Posted by: johngalt at June 20, 2014 6:17 PM
But jk thinks:

I should admit that 2) has been a point on which I've evolved ("Hey, jk, you misspelled 'cravenly inconsistent!'") I would not have argued against a quick withdrawal, but sticking around and teaching them the finer points of Democracy seemed plausible. I believed Sharanshy that all hearts yearn for liberty and I wept at purple fingers. All that seems rather naïve today.

We're both Occidentalists in different ways. I think their self-interest shines more brightly in preservation than incentive. So put me down for "sticks."

Don't like "dominate and micromanage" because it implies that all US influence is bad or wrong. I like when we meddle with Iran and generally torque off North Korea, neither are protected by the Tenth Amendment.


Posted by: jk at June 20, 2014 7:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I may not be on record about it but I disapproved of the post war plan as "nation building." I might not have said it, but I believed it.

"Sticks" must be used only in defense, whether that be of the homeland, of our citizens, or even of minority populations in foreign lands on occasion. In Iraq, some are proposing that we use our force to protect the majority population from a minority. Sorry, that's their own job.

I don't read Bandow as saying that all US foreign policy seeks domination and micromanagement, but that when it does go that far it is contrary to our interests.

Posted by: johngalt at June 22, 2014 10:44 AM

July 17, 2008

Why are we in Iraq?

"Joe from Denver wants to know, 'Why are we in Iraq and how will we know when we've won the war?'"

Listen to Bob Schaffer, Colorado's Republican candidate for the US Senate, explain it.

In politics this is what's known as a direct hit.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:29 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

But Bush Lied!!! There were no WMDs!! My poor Congressman was duped -- it's Bush's fault!

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2008 10:50 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

It don't get any better'n that!

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at July 18, 2008 12:10 PM

July 6, 2008

Final Yellowcake Removed from Iraq

Sixteen words...

Sixteen words...

Wait a minute.

The last major remnant of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program — a huge stockpile of concentrated natural uranium — reached a Canadian port Saturday to complete a secret U.S. operation that included a two-week airlift from Baghdad and a ship voyage crossing two oceans.

The removal of 550 metric tons of "yellowcake" — the seed material for higher-grade nuclear enrichment — was a significant step toward closing the books on Saddam's nuclear legacy. It also brought relief to U.S. and Iraqi authorities who had worried the cache would reach insurgents or smugglers crossing to Iran to aid its nuclear ambitions.


This is not the yellowcake you've been looking for.

Posted by AlexC at 4:02 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

Mmmm, cake.

Am I missing something here? I saw a couple of things on this, but it seems to be a non-story. The MSNBC story you linked has 300 words on the difficulty of safely removing it -- and then a weird non sequitor ending about Scooter Libby.

Am I the only one who thinks the story might be, um, something like: "SADDAM HUSSEIN HAD MORE THAN 600 TONS OF URANIUM!!"

Posted by: jk at July 6, 2008 4:43 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

That evil Karl Rove...he has such power, even after leaving the Bush Administration, that he makes the MSM forget about his evil plans to out Valerie Plame and frame Scooter!

Seriously now, why should this be a "problem" for Washington, when it vindicates the Bush Administration's belief that Saddam harbored stuff he shouldn't have had? Sheesh, only the damn liberal media could spin it this way. I suppose this was among the banned materials Saddam shouldn't have had, which the inspectors for a long time said he didn't have, then on the eve of the invasion "found" it again. I was briefly acquainted with one of the inspectors, a real bitch who did little to dispel the stereotype of French arrogance. She had a Ph.D. in physics, specializing in rocketry, but she was a poor detective.

So Saddam didn't buy any from Niger. Now we see why: he still had plenty at home, which apparently could have been used in the so-called "dirty bomb." I wonder how many degrees of separation there were between Saddam and the likes of Jose Padilla.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 6, 2008 10:35 PM
But jk thinks:

Nor am I willing to concede that Joe Wilson IV was right that none of the 600 tons was bought from Niger. Speaking of people who are really not good detectives...

Posted by: jk at July 7, 2008 10:32 AM
But johngalt thinks:

But the important thing was that the CIA told Bush not to use the intelligence information on yellowcake in his SOTU address (and he did it anyway, that impertinent little man) - not whether it was true or not. No matter what you can't take away from that bit of "gotcha" journalism that the Times is so proud of.

Posted by: johngalt at July 7, 2008 3:48 PM
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I don't know that I'd give a **** what the CIA asked me to say or not say. This is the same CIA that has its own agenda, whose least sin is continuing to keep Valerie Plame in covert status -- after she outed herself to a guy she was romantically involved in (she revealed her covert status to Joe Wilson when they were dating). Love trumped duty and being a competent spy, as I explained here to a dimwit limey.

http://www.alarmingnews.com/archives/007395.html

Anyway, the only "gotcha" the liberals ever had on Bush is accusing him of lying about something he never said. If John Kerry or B. Hussein had said it, liberals would say that the 16 words were too "nuanced" for critics to understand.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 8, 2008 2:32 PM

May 23, 2008

Lying to Win

Pa Congressman Paul Kanjorski:

"I'll tell you my impression. We really in this last election, when I say we...the Democrats, I think pushed it as far as we can to the end of the fleet, didn't say it, but we implied it. That if we won the Congressional elections, we could stop the war. Now anybody was a good student of Government would know that wasn't true. But you know, the temptation to want to win back the Congress, we sort of stretched the facts...and people ate it up."

Democrats lying about the war for electoral gain? You're kidding!

Read the whole post, and watch the video.

(tip to Ace)

Posted by AlexC at 12:04 PM

October 17, 2007

Undertakers Hardest Hit

James Taranto has a semi-regular feature on Best of the Web that goes something like "X happens, Y hardest hit."

In the vein, here is an actual headline.

"As violence falls in Iraq, cemetery workers feel the pinch"

At what's believed to be the world's largest cemetery, where Shiite Muslims aspire to be buried and millions already have been, business isn't good.

A drop in violence around Iraq has cut burials in the huge Wadi al Salam cemetery here by at least one-third in the past six months, and that's cut the pay of thousands of workers who make their living digging graves, washing corpses or selling burial shrouds.

That's terrible!

Posted by AlexC at 11:14 AM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Bush's fault!

Posted by: jk at October 17, 2007 12:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Well done, ac, you out-Tarantoed Taranto. He did the same headline, or as he would say "Life imitates ThreeSources."

Posted by: jk at October 18, 2007 11:44 AM
But AlexC thinks:

Homer nods.

Posted by: AlexC at October 19, 2007 11:22 AM
But jk thinks:

Kerfuffle!

Posted by: jk at October 19, 2007 12:11 PM

September 10, 2007

"Worked out"

So I was flipping through the channels and landed on an interview with Helen Thomas on CN8, the Comcast Channel.

She was talking about Iraq and the need to pull out, using references to Vietnam. She eventually said, "We left the Vietnamese eventually, and let themselves work it out."

Sure did.

Posted by AlexC at 2:19 PM

July 31, 2007

Dem Clyburn: "real big problem for us"

... if General Petraeus's report on Iraq in September is good.

Allahpundit says

In fairness, by “us” he seems to be referring to the House Democratic leadership, not the left as a whole.

Is that really any better?

The Dems have long staked their electoral successes on a loss in Iraq. The only difference here is that they're admitting to it.

Posted by AlexC at 12:08 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The Democratic leadership, and many pundits on both sides, have an advance copy of General Patraeus's report. It will be "mixed" with a few minor successes and calls to continue.

I don't scream at the TV a lot, but I do every time somebody tells me what is in a report that will be delivered to congress in six or eight weeks.

Leader Reid, of course, got his copy before the troops were transported over there. I wonder if he got the new Harry Potter book early as well.

Posted by: jk at July 31, 2007 12:45 PM

July 13, 2007

WMDs and the Silent Evidence

The Phoenicians supposedly invented the alphabet. However, for a vast number of years, we had virtually no evidence of their writing. Based on this absence of evidence, historians hypothesized about why the Phoenicians didn't keep written records. Thus when it was discovered that the Phoenicians did actually use their alphabet and that absence of evidence was due to the fact that the written records merely struggled to stand the test of time, the hypotheses of historians greatly changed. The lesson is that historians had succumbed to the problem of silent evidence. In other words, the absence of evidence is by no means evidence of absence.

In this light, the most intriguing story to me about the War in Iraq is that of the weapons of mass destruction. Prior to the invasion, there were many intelligence agencies and political figures who trumpeted Saddam's possession of WMDs. However, since the invasion the United States has failed to turn up any weapons of the magnitude described by President Bush and intelligence agencies across the globe. This lack of evidence has contributed to the shrinking support for the war and has even led many Democrats to claim that Bush lied.

Political posturing has created the belief that Democrats supposedly made a mistake in authorizing troops, but that President Bush lied. Alas, this is the world of politics. Elected officials must seize opportunities such as these to maintain power. The political posturing is not surprising and neither is the "conclusion" that Iraq did not have WMDs.

While it is not surprising that in the analysis of the war politicians, experts, and the general public have rejected claims that Iraq possessed WMDs, it does reveal a startling bias. It may be true that Saddam did not possess WMDs on the scale that intelligence communities had claimed or that said weapons did not exist. Regardless, one cannot claim that the weapons did not exist solely on the basis of a lack of evidence.

Perhaps the weapons existed and perhaps they did not. Like the discovery of Phoenician literature, the sudden appearance of WMDs would have a profound effect on the support for the war. This is by no means an attempt to justify the war. This post merely serves as a reminder that the most important lesson that any man can learn is that he possesses far less knowledge than he believes is the case.

Posted by Harrison Bergeron at 11:07 AM | Comments (1)
But Perry Eidelbus thinks:

I forget his name off the top of my head, but there's the Iraqi general who said, yeah, they shipped tons of materials and equipment to Syria when it looked like an American invasion was coming. And there's the vast desert. Saddam was even burying planes during the first Gulf War to keep them from being destroyed.

Why didn't Saddam admit he still had WMDs? But that presumes he'd have something to gain by telling. If he couldn't kill his enemy George W. Bush, he could at least go to the gallows with the satisfaction of knowing Bush lost credibility.

Such a shame. All I needed was five minutes with the bastard, and he'd have sung like a canary.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at July 13, 2007 4:08 PM

March 29, 2007

The Real Front Line in the Iraq War

I place great importance on the lessons of history. Unfortunately, having lived only since the early sixties (and having a mediocre public school education influenced by John Dewey) I wasn't aware of a counterinsurgency war in the fifties - fought by France and the Algerian government against Muslim extremists in that country - until today.

Arthur Herman, retired professor of History at George Mason and Georgetown Universities, explains on today's WSJ Ed page how the French ultimately defeated the combatants on foreign soil but were ultimately forced to surrender to them anyway.

What happened was this: while the French military had been concentrating on fighting the insurgency in the streets and mountains in Algeria, an intellectual and cultural insurgency at home, led by the French left and the media, had been scoring its own succession of victories.

(...)

Led by Jean-Paul Sartre, a campaign of denunciation got under way in which French forces were accused of being the equivalent of Nazis--an especially freighted charge coming only a decade and a half after World War II and the German occupation of France. Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre's companion, went so far as to say that the sight of a French army uniform had "the same effect on me that swastikas once did." Although many of the antiwar agitators were communists or leftist fellow travelers, their petitions and demonstrations included enough authentic heroes of the Resistance and eminent liberals like Francois Mauriac to bestow upon the movement a credible public image. The constant message it conveyed was that the true authors of violence in Algeria were not the FLN at all but the French, and that only when the latter departed would Algerians be able to sort out their destiny for themselves.

The French military and political leadership was completely blindsided by the attack. No amount of justification of the selective use of torture, not even the cancellation of the original authorization, could halt the criticism or stem the loss of public support for the war. Even as the FLN took to setting off bombs in France itself, leftist Catholic priests continued to raise funds for it, while those like Albert Camus who harbored doubts about the wisdom of handing victory to the terrorists were derided and silenced. The consensus that had informed French politics as late as 1956--namely, that abandoning Algeria was "unthinkable and unmentionable"--fell apart.

Divisions over Algeria doomed France's Fourth Republic. For its successor, the price of political survival was handing over Algeria to a totalitarian band that had lost the war on the battlefield but managed to win a stunning victory in France itself. The result was the massive flight of Algerian whites and, at home, a bloodbath as FLN terrorists put to death tens of thousands of Muslim Algerians who had been loyal to the French regime. Soldiers who had fought alongside the French were forced to swallow their medals before they were shot.

The "surge" is underway in Iraq. While long overdue it is, as Herman describes earlier in the piece, showing remarkable progress. [Read the whole thing.] But to avoid the same fate described above, America's domestic leaders need to initiate an intellectual surge on the home front. The survival of Iraqi patriots, and of America's ability to champion liberty anywhere in the world, hang in the balance.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:37 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

One aspect of the comparison is inapt. The French ran Algeria as a colony. I am all for coalescing free Western nations and all but the French had much more to be guilty about.

Posted by: jk at March 29, 2007 4:55 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Al Qaeda and their domestic apologists would certainly refer to Iraq as an American "colony" if they thought that would sour the American public's support for the counterinsurgency. Perhaps when "civil war" grows stale.

The vital point is that the Democrats, as tools of the far left, CAN lose this war for us if they aren't opposed in the arena of ideas. But they should be careful: Imagine how much more evil Bush will be to them when he declares a state of emergency and funds continued military action in Iraq by executive order - without congressional approval. I would support such a thing rather than see a repeat of Vietnam (or Algiers.)

Posted by: johngalt at March 29, 2007 5:31 PM

February 17, 2007

56-34

The Senate failed to pass a non-binding chicken sh*t resolution on not supporting the surge in Iraq.

The Senate gridlocked on the Iraq war in a sharply worded showdown on Saturday as Republicans foiled a Democratic attempt to rebuke President Bush over his deployment of 21,500 additional combat troops.

The vote was 56-34. That was four short of the 60 needed to advance the measure, which is identical to a nonbinding resolution that Democrats pushed through the House on Friday.

"The Senate, on behalf of the American people, must make it clear to the commander in chief that he no longer has a rubber stamp in Iraq," said Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in the final moments before the vote.


Filibustered. Darn. That's really a shame.

In unrelated news, there's a non-binding cease fire in place in Iraq.

A coalition of major terror groups operating in Iraq today announced a symbolic, non-binding ceasefire in response to House Democrats’ passage of a non-binding resolution rejecting President George Bush’s troop surge plan.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Shiite Mahdi army and representatives of a Sunni car-bomb cartel said they would continue to fully fund martyrdom operations, with help from their friends in Iran, Syria and elsewhere.

Posted by AlexC at 6:36 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Wasn't sure when I would next have a kind word for the GOP Senate Caucus, but "Yay Team!"

Posted by: jk at February 18, 2007 11:01 AM

February 16, 2007

The War Vote

I got an email today from my Congressman Jim Gerlach where he writes...

Saying that it undermines the country’s support of troops fighting the War on Terror, Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-06) announced today that he will vote against a controversial resolution introduced by the House Democrat Majority that criticized the President’s call for a surge in U.S. military involvement in Iraq.

“I will vote against this resolution because I reject the status quo,” Rep. Gerlach said. “The Democrats’ resolution offers no new direction on Iraq. Their resolution doesn’t say that 20,000 additional troops are not enough – so we should send more. And it does not call for our troops to come home. Rather, by neither requesting more troops nor calling for our troops to return home, the Democrats are defending the status quo. The status quo is not an option and neither is defeat. While I don’t agree completely with the President’s plan, I believe we must fight harder and smarter because surrender in this case only serves to make our enemies stronger, and endangers the lives of American troops.”


Here's the blow by blow.

I think the Democrats are going to pay for this non-binding resolution... The leftists are going to demand their pound of flesh, and a non-binder isn't enough. The Democrats in the House and Senate were hoping to take a position without having to really have it count.

The Republicans should have amended this thing to make it binding.

Posted by AlexC at 4:55 PM

February 14, 2007

"Missing Militant"

As congress debates whether or not to surrender the nascent Iraqi state to Islamist militants, the mere suggestion of a more muscular approach has apparently dislodged one of the largest such cockroaches:

Anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr fled Iraq for Iran ahead of a security crackdown in Baghdad and the arrival of 21,500 U.S. soldiers sent by President Bush to quell sectarian violence, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.

But there's not much time to waste for Democrats, for whom any discernable success of the muscular approach would be anathema:

The long-awaited floor debate on Iraq is the first since Democrats took control of Congress in the November midterm elections. It also comes as the war approaches the four-year mark with more than 3,100 U.S. troops dead.

Democrats made clear the nonbinding resolution was the beginning of a longer campaign to bring the Iraq war to an end.

"A vote of disapproval will set the stage for additional Iraq legislation, which will be coming to the House floor," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said.

UPDATE: Terri at Ithinkthereforeierr has more reports of Islamist's bad news.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:36 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

I hope Congress can pass some defeatist resolutions before Bush wins the war -- boy wouldn't that be embarrassing!

Posted by: jk at February 14, 2007 3:56 PM

January 28, 2007

Petraeus: The "Not Greatest Generation's" Patton?

I almost fell out of my chair Tuesday when I heard General David Petraeus tell a Senate Subcommittee, "That's correct" in reply to a question from, I think, McCain or Lieberman asking if those resolutions [proposed non-binding resolutions of no confidence in further offensive operations in Baghdad] would give encouragement to the enemy by exposing divisions among the American people. (I heard the statement first hand on the Rush Limbaugh program (taped delay) via C-Span3 and I've been desperately seeking a transcript ever since.)

Townhall.com's Mary Katherine Ham is in the same boat, so until we can get the unadulterated, unfiltered, unslanted version of what happened we'll just have to read between the lines of MSM accounts, as Mary Katherine has done.

Whither Patton, you ask? I can't exactly put my finger on what he said that inspired me to believe Pettraeus is a general's general (hence the desire for a transcript) but I think it was a bit like Patton's "Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way."

One person unwilling to get out of Petraeus' way was Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.):

His statement drew a sharp rebuke from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), who said, "I very sincerely but wholeheartedly disagree," saying the point was to send a message to Iraqis.

With all due respect, Senator, the question was not, "Are those resolutions intended to give encouragement to the enemy," it was if they "would give" said encouragement. You can sincerely but wholeheartedly disagree, you can belabor your version of reality, you can even pound on the desk with your shoe, but none of this does anything to alter the facts.

Patton once said, "No good decision was made in a swivel chair." Now that the Senate has confirmed his appointment 81-0, Petraeus can stop wasting time with these people and spend it with his warriors instead. As a military scholar he is doubtless aware of Patton's creed: “I am a soldier, I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight.” You fight in Iraq, General; we'll fight America's enemies in the U.S. Senate.

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:23 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Report showed the clip and followed it with Senator Warner's dissembling, "he had no right to answer that question" response. They usually post a transcript of the show on Monday.

I will be linking to the transcript as well, James Taranto ended the show saying "I'd just like to say, by the way, four weeks ago on this show, I said I thought that now the Democrats are in power, they would be more responsible. I officially retract that statement."

UPDATE: I corrected the quote and here's the link.

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.): Suppose that we send you additional troops, and we tell those troops that we support you, but we are convinced that you cannot accomplish your mission and we do not support the mission we are sending you on. What effect does that have on the morale of your troops?

Petraeus: Well, if would not be a beneficial affect.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn): The Senate-passed resolution of disapproval for this new strategy to Iraq would give the enemy some encouragement, some feeling that--well, some clear expression that the American people were divided.

Petraeus: That's correct, sir.

[...]

Gigot: But those comments by Gen. Petraeus clearly discomforted some senators. And let's see that--Sen. John Warner of Virginia, how he responded.

Warner: I hope that this colloquy has not entrapped you into some responses that you might later regret. I wonder if you would just give me the assurance that you'll go back and examine this transcript, as to what you replied with respect to certain of these questions.

Gigot: Clearly, John Warner, Kim, did not like what he had heard from the general, because he thinks that--and he is one of the sponsors of these resolutions. Other senators felt the same way. Why are they so upset?

Strassel: You saw them all twisting in their seats. And it's because Petraeus blew apart this sort of fiction that's out there, which they would all like everyone to continue to believe, which is that they can put forward this resolution, they can express their unhappiness, and that nothing serious will happen as a result of it. And Petraeus said, no, that is not the issue. What was more interesting is he seemed to be so angry that Petraeus was involved with politics. And the shame of it is that someone didn't mention why is John Warner involved with generaling the war?


Posted by: jk at January 28, 2007 7:12 PM

January 25, 2007

Senatorial Surrender Monkeys

First the Democrats...

US Senate panel opposes plan to send more troops to Iraq
"The committee adopted the measure by 12-9 vote with one Republican, Senator Chuck Hagel, breaking ranks to join the 11 Democrats on the panel in approving the resolution."

Then the Republicans...

Senate showdown looms for troop buildup in Iraq
"The Foreign Relations Committee approved the resolution Wednesday on a vote of 12-9, with Senator Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, joining 11 Democrats in supporting the measure."

Key GOP senator opposes Bush's Iraq plan
"Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, is one of four principal sponsors of a compromise that would express the Senate's opposition to the additional deployment, but avoid calling it an "escalation" of the four-year-old war."

Brownback could back rival resolution against troop increase

War stage set: Congress v Bush
"And, with several Republicans advancing their own resolution opposing the president's troop deployment, Democrats are negotiating for a common wording that could lead to a bipartisan vote against the war."

All of this about-facing and navel gazing is nauseating, and unseemly for a stately body such as the United States Senate. But it does remind me of the way I felt back in 2003 when another group of surrender monkeys was wringing its hands. Here's what I said then and here's

what I say now.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:44 PM

January 24, 2007

Knowing Jack

I give Jack Murtha credit for having more guts than nearly all Democrats put together.

But that doesn't mean he's right.

Rep. John Murtha on Tuesday urged that a "responsible phased" withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq begin from within Saddam Hussein's palaces and said the United States should denounce any aspirations to build permanent military bases in the country.

"Historically, whether it was India, Algeria or Afghanistan, foreign occupations do not work and, in fact, incite civil unrest," said Murtha, D-Pa., before the Senate Foreign Relations committee, which is looking at options in Iraq.


It's too bad he missed "Germany" and "Japan." Strange, because his idea of redeploying to Okinawa, would have put American soldiers in bases in Japan.

We have bases all over the world, we'd be silly to not have bases in the Middle East. The Island of Diego Garcia, while closer than Okinawa, probably isn't big enough should problems arise.

Murtha said that for the United States to regain international credibility, the country must make it clear that it doesn't want permanent military bases in Iraq, and it must also close the Guantanamo detention facility and bulldoze the Abu Ghraib prison.

For symbolic reasons, he said, the withdrawal of U.S. forces should start from Saddam's palaces, where some U.S. troops operate, and then from Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone. That should be followed by a withdrawal from prime real estate in Iraq's major cities, factories and universities and then the entire country, Murtha said.

Posted by AlexC at 12:32 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

And y'all said Democrats don't have a plan.

"[T]he withdrawal of U.S. forces should start from Saddam's palaces, where some U.S. troops operate, and then from Baghdad's heavily guarded Green Zone. That should be followed by a withdrawal from prime real estate in Iraq's major cities, factories and universities and then the entire country."

Then we should hide under our beds. If there is a noise, or it's dark, we could run to our neighbors...

Posted by: jk at January 24, 2007 1:21 PM

January 11, 2007

The Surge

It begins.

    ABC News has learned that the "surge" Bush is expected to announce in a prime time speech tonight has already begun. Ninety advance troops from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Baghdad Wednesday.

    An additional battalion of roughly 800 troops from the same division are expected to arrive in Baghdad Thursday. Eighty percent of the sectarian violence occurs within a 30-mile radius of Baghdad, so that is where most of the additional troops will be concentrated.


Whoa. 80% within a thirty mile radius? The way it's reported, I thought the whole country was going to shit.

Tip to Dan Riehl.

Posted by AlexC at 12:19 AM | Comments (1)
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

To that end,..my only major criticism in promoting General Patraeus is how he "rebuilt Mosul."

Unfortunately, what isn't reported in all of this feel-good news is that Mosul is in the Kurdish north. The Kurds had it good under our "no-fly zones" and still look to the US as an ally against Saddam's Ba'athists.

Cleaning up Mosul's insurgency is nothing compared to what's going on in Baghdad, but I wish the general well.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at January 11, 2007 8:47 PM

December 29, 2006

Ding, Dong, Dead

Reports: Saddam Executed in Baghdad

The New York Times calls this a "rush" to execute the former national leader. By American standards, perhaps. The crimes his neck was stretched for were committed in 1982. He was arrested by US troops on December 13, 2003. It took three years for an Iraqi court to be established and to find him guilty. The Times' real problem here is not the time it took, but the finality of the verdict. "Surely there must be some doubt."

This execution marks a definitive end for the Saddam era. It is a good day for Iraq (and for America, whose finest delivered the tyrant to justice). It is not, however, the turning point for peace and harmony and goodness in the world, nor does it even "automatically create a new and better Iraq." But then, who ever said it would?

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:40 PM | Comments (4)
But AlexC thinks:

I had a number of guests over tonight, Fox was on in the background... nobody cheered, but nobody felt bad either.

It just was.

F that monster.

Posted by: AlexC at December 29, 2006 11:41 PM
But AlexC thinks:

Does YouTube's policy prevent execution video for being posted?

Posted by: AlexC at December 29, 2006 11:42 PM
But jk thinks:

A sovereign Iraqi court tried him -- I believe fairly -- and chose the punishment.

I laughed at the NYTimes "rush" as well. In their defense, the appeal seemed very perfunctory. After the trial had drug on, with many unusual events, a closer look at the procedure might have been warranted.

I will cheer inside. After Nuremburg, Nazism was thoroughly discredited and only a few fringe groups(man, I hate Illinois Nazis) keep it alive. Communism never had the formal purge and persists. I'd like to see Baathism as practiced by Hussein expunged.

Besides, South Park fans know he now enjoys eternal life with his soulmate, Satan.

Posted by: jk at December 30, 2006 11:23 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Most likely, someone will try to get the execution on YouTube. You can guarantee the handlers will be looking for it. If nothing else, someone may download it before it gets dumped and they'll pass it around some other way.

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at December 30, 2006 11:32 AM

December 7, 2006

Iraq "Surrender" Group Report

" . . . more than six people cannot agree on anything, three is better -- and one is perfect for a job that one can do. This is why parliamentary bodies all through history, when they accomplished anything, owed it to a few strong men who dominated the rest. Never fear, son, this Ad-Hoc Congress will do nothing . . . or if they do pass something through sheer fatigue, it will be so loaded with contradictions that it will have to be thrown out." --Bernardo de la Paz, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, pg 162 [Robert A. Heinlein]

I've been waiting all week for someone to blog the celebrated Iraq Study Group report, for I have a comment I'd like to make about it. Alas, nobody has obliged on these pages. But with each passing day I've come to realize that the real blogging is taking place on the front pages of the major dailies. They took the slap dash 97 page report as their kernel and proceeded to concoct every sort of meaning from it in their headlines. Every one, that is, except for making the world safe for liberty. Well, here goes.

Let's start with part I, subpart D: Achieving Our Goals:

We agree with the goal of U.S. policy in Iraq, as stated by the President: an Iraq that can “govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself.” In our view, this definition entails 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. Given the current situation in Iraq, achieving this goal will require much time and will depend primarily on the actions of the Iraqi people.

It is critically important to understand that, with Saddam gone, Iraq matters little in the present war between civilization and archaic totalitarianism. Re-read the passage above and replace "Iraq" with "America." An America that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. [...] Given the current situation in America, achieving this goal will require much time and will depend primarily on the actions of the American people."

And where America represents civilization in this war, the seat of archaic totalitarianism today is... anyone? anyone? Bueller? That's right: Iran. Now re-read the passage above replacing "Iraq" with "Iran." In our view, this definition entails an Iran 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.

Now, what actions of the American people can do anything to help Iraq "govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself?"

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:10 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

Speaking for myself, I was so happy that the report wasn't worse. I think it significantly undercuts the cut and run crowd and can be used more to the President’s favor than his detractors.

The idea of using Iran and Syria seems tedious but there is an interesting context. I don't know if you saw Brit Hume's panel discussion on this (you get kicked out of the VRWC if you don't watch 4x a week) but Secretary Baker believes that Syria might be incentivized to help us and the Sunnis. "Flip Syria" he said to Brit as they were packing up their cameras.

It's a long shot and I hate to think of the price but it is not necessarily "nuts."

Posted by: jk at December 7, 2006 7:33 PM
But AlexC thinks:

They want peace in the middle east. That's a bold vision.

How much did we pay for this, again?

Posted by: AlexC at December 7, 2006 11:54 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And now, my long awaited comment. With respect to diplomacy with Iran, or even Syria:

"Do steers sign treaties with meat packers?" -Robert A. Heinlein

I agree with John Murtha. It is time to redeploy coalition forces to "another region in the Middle East." TEHRAN

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2006 8:51 AM
But jk thinks:

I also resent the implication that ThreeSources was behind in commenting on the ISF. We hit the idea of Syria help on November 21.

Posted by: jk at December 8, 2006 11:51 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Credit duly noted. And that post also reminded us what we get whenever we employ "realpolitik" when killing people and breaking things is in order.

Posted by: johngalt at December 8, 2006 3:09 PM

November 16, 2006

Degenerate Journalism

I think Sheldon Alberts of CanWest News Service really meant to say, "Iraq denigrated into a rat's nest" as the resemblence of the Iraq we see in western media spins further and further from the actual place where thousands of brave and patriotic Americans try mightily to separate the killers from the killees. Instead he wrote, as the headline no less, "Iraq denigrating into a rat's nest, general testifies." If the general actually said that we've no way of knowing since there's nothing approaching such a quote in Sheldon's piece carried on Canada.com.

Instead it's a stream of encouragements such as, "the situation could be bleak" and "I would not say we've turned the corner." Don't increase the number of soldiers deployed there, nor send them elsewhere before Iraqi forces are available to replace them. Instead, the general suggests, we should (ahem) stay the course.

(...) Abizaid said it was his ''professional opinion'' that Iraqis could restore calm if the U.S. rapidly accelerates training of the country's military forces.

Far be it for me to degenerate dear mister Alberts, however. That is his editor's job, is it not? (Or perhaps, his high school grammar teacher's.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:09 PM

November 5, 2006

Saddam Found Guilty

Sun rises in east.

Sentenced to be hanged.

Hangman, hangman, hold it a little while,
I Think I see my friends coming, Riding a many mile.
Friends, you get some silver?
Did you get a little gold?
What did you bring me, my dear friends? Keep me from the Gallows Pole.
What did you bring me to keep me from the Gallows Pole?

I couldn't get no silver, I couldn't get no gold,
You know that we're too damn poor to keep you from the Gallows Pole.
Hangman, hangman, hold it a little while,
I think I see my brother coming, riding many a mile.
Brother, you get me some silver?
Did you get a little gold?
What did you bring me, my brother, to keep me from the Gallows Pole?

Brother, I brought you some silver, yeah.
I brought a little gold, I brought a little of everything
To keep you from the Gallows Pole.
Yes, I brought you to keep you from the Gallows Pole.

Hangman, hangman, turn your head awhile,
I think I see my sister coming, riding many mile, mile, mile.
Sister, I implore you, take him by the hand,
Take him to some shady bower, save me from the wrath of this man,
Please take him, save me from the wrath of this man, man.

Hangman, hangman, upon your face a smile,
Tell me that I'm free to ride,
Ride for many mile, mile, mile.

Oh yes, you got a fine sister, She warmed my blood from cold,
She warmed my blood to boiling hot to keep you from the Gallows Pole,
Your brother brought me silver, Your sister warmed my soul,
But now I laugh and pull so hard And see you swinging from the Gallows Pole

But now I laugh and pull so hard And see you swinging from the Gallows Pole
Swingin' on the gallows pole!

Posted by AlexC at 8:35 AM | Comments (1)
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Led Zep rules!

BTW - Ain't it amazing what happens when you ignore the UNtied Nations and do things your way?

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at November 5, 2006 1:14 PM

October 19, 2006

In Case You Were Wondering

Crazy guy in Iran who happens to be President.

    "The Zionist regime is counterfeit and illegitimate and cannot survive," he said in a speech to a crowd in the town of Islamshahr in southwestern Tehran.

    "The big powers have created this fraud regime and allowed it to commit all kind of crimes to guarantee their interests," he added.


A guy who works for a crazy guy in North Korea.
    If President Bush continues to ask North Korea to "kneel," war "will be inevitable," and it would begin on the Korean Peninsula, North Korean Gen. Ri Chan Bok told "Good Morning America" anchor Diane Sawyer, in an exclusive interview inside North Korea.

If only we had a topical quotation from Hugo Chavez, Robert Mugabe or Fidel Castro, then we'd have a crazy trifecta.

A general who impliments policies of a government who's crazy to respect a religion that can't respect itself, or it's gays, or it's women, or religious minorities, or... or... or... ad nauseum.[1]

    The U.S. military spokesman says there has been a 22 percent jump in attacks during Ramadan and the drive to secure Baghdad has "not met our overall expectations."

    The spike in violence during the Islamic holy month of fasting was "disheartening" and the Americans were working with Iraqi authorities to "refocus" security measures, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell said.

Note 1: Out of respect, weren't we supposed to scale back our military activities around Islamic holy days? I'm glad the other side got the message. As a reward, we should treat their prisoners nicely. Maybe they'll stop the beheadings.

Posted by AlexC at 11:51 AM

September 10, 2006

Unbiased Media

Forget about the media being on the Democrat's side.

Some are plain on the other side.

    Document ISGQ-2005-00026108.pdf dated July 25 2000 is a report from an Iraqi Intelligence officer to different Iraqi Intelligence Directorates talking about information provided to them from a trusted source that works in the Associated Press (AP). The information is about the formation a newly formed UN weapons inspectors team called UNMOVIC

Posted by AlexC at 5:40 PM

September 5, 2006

Cindy!

Some lady who is on her twenty-seventh minute of fame get interviewed by the Waco Tribune.

    On moving to Crawford

    Q: Last question. Do you plan to come back next year? The president is going to be in office till 2009 and our continued presence in Iraq seems fairly assured.

    A: I hope he’s not in office till 2009, but this (anti-war presence in Crawford) is permanent. We’re going to start building a permanent structure soon. This may sound weird, but I’m going to live here. My residence is going to be a tree house. We’ve got some plans for amazing tree houses! This is a flood plain, so we have to build it. But the first structure we’re going to build is a camphouse with a great room and an industrial-type kitchen and an office and some bathrooms. So we’re planning on being permanent. It’s not just about George Bush, it’s about ending the occupation of Iraq and making sure it never happens again.


A tree house.

And this is someone we should consult for foreign policy decisions.

Posted by AlexC at 5:17 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

And after President Bush leaves office, the media are going to traipse to Crawford Texas every day to get the opinions of a Gold Star mother in a tree house.

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2006 6:22 PM
But jk thinks:

As soon as it's built, I'll go down and file an ADA complaint if it is not a handicapped-accessible treehouse.

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2006 6:24 PM

September 4, 2006

Another One Bites the Dust!

"And another one's gone, and another one's gone. Doop doop doop da doop!"
Al-Suaidi mug shot.jpg

From Australia's Herald Sun:

US and Iraqi forces have arrested the second most senior figure of al-Qaida in Iraq and killed 20 fellow militants.

{...}

"Hamid al-Suaidi led a group that kidnapped people. He ordered bombings and mortar attacks that killed a number of our armed forces and our citizens. Al-Qaida in Iraq is severely wounded," Rubaie [Iraq's national security advisor] said.

"After his arrest he gave critical and important information and we ended up killing 11 militants of the second tier of leaders and nine of the lower tier," Rubaie said of Suaidi.

I had to scroll through the "all 825 news articles" Google link to find one from Australia in order to avoid liberal media bias in the report. For example, the ITV [Britain] version that I took the photo from waited until the fifth of seven paragraphs before mentioning the captured man's name, and even then did it thusly:

Hours after an "embarrassed" US military again postponed a ceremony to hand command of Iraqi troops to the government, the national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie summoned reporters to a news conference to announce that Hamid Juma Faris al-Suaidi had been seized some days ago.

So after starting the story with, "Security officials [no mention of whose] claim [as it's apparently in dispute] to have arrested the second-in-command of the terror [what, no scare quotes?] group al-Qaeda in Iraq," they morphed this news item into a slanted report on the so-called occupation of Iraq by the US military. In the process they inplicity question Washington's sincerity to "let Americans go home."

If you still wonder why the majority public opinion is that things are going "badly" in Iraq, here's your answer.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:15 AM | Comments (3)
But jk thinks:

Al-Qaida in Iraq?

Posted by: jk at September 4, 2006 10:48 AM
But TrekMedic251 thinks:

Is it me,..or does that green thingy under his chin look like the bottom of a gallows??

Posted by: TrekMedic251 at September 5, 2006 12:59 PM
But jk thinks:

What is that? I've seen that picture a hundred times and never quite got it.

The New Republic today says that this guy wasn't important and that the London explosive guys weren't really dangerous. Even our wins are losses.

Posted by: jk at September 5, 2006 1:14 PM

July 10, 2006

WMD Programs?

What else is out there?

    The Bush administration briefed top lawmakers on a significant intelligence program only after a key Republican committee leader angrily complained of being left in the dark, House Intelligence Committee chairman Peter Hoekstra said yesterday.

    Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, would not describe the program but said it was significant enough that the administration should have briefed him and others voluntarily, without waiting for them to learn of it through government tipsters.

    ``There was at least one major -- what I consider significant -- activity that we had not been briefed on that we have now been briefed on," Hoekstra said on ``Fox News Sunday." ``Some people within the intelligence community brought to my attention some programs that they believed we had not been briefed on. They were right."


Related:

Ed Morrissey continues to dig through Iraqi files.

    So here we have confirmation that Iraq continued to work on WMD, and that the new UNMOVIC inspections verified that. We had previously heard from the mainstream media that UNMOVIC only found that the Iraqis still refused to cooperate fully with the inspections, but this puts a little different light on the situation as the UN found it as they debated how to deal with Iraq. Even with Saddam actively pursuing WMD, as it turns out, they refused to take any action except to propose extended inspections.

    Another point seems rather interesting here. The third paragraph seems to match up pretty well with the CIA/DIA description of the mobile laboratories discovered shortly after the invasion of Iraq.


...
    Once again, it looks like Saddam's own documentation makes it clear that he had never stopped working on WMD programs. This time, it also shows that UNMOVIC and the UNSC knew it.

Ace of Spades:
    What's this?
      CENTER OF MANAGEMENT AND LAW / PRESIDENT
      For that, we order Dr. Hazem Anwar Alnasery, assigned to the Health Department Center, and Dr Mothny Abas, president of the Central Health Testing Department, to be members of the Anthrax Operation Room. This order will not cancel the previous order assigned to Dr. Mostafa Fathee, president of the Central Health Testing Department and president of the Health Research Institute. Thanks.

      Signed
      Zohir Saeed Abd Elsalam
      10/13/2002


    Maybe they were just fans of the band Anthrax, and the "Anthrax Operation Room" plotted ways of getting them to tour in Tikrit.

Posted by AlexC at 10:58 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

I watched Rep. Hoekstra yesterday. With all the leaking of effective secret counter-terrorism measures, I think his request is at best ill-timed.

Glad to hear the Boston Globe is on the case, though. I'd hate to think there were any secret programs I didn't know about.

Posted by: jk at July 10, 2006 11:43 AM

July 7, 2006

Bonuses & Evasion

Now this is odd.

Powerline links to an Iraqi document which came out as a result of Project Harmony.

It is the "Bonus Record for 2003."

    This eight-page document is a list of employees in various categories who received bonuses listed as "5,000"--dinars, I assume. Most of the categories are what you would expect: "Office of the General Director," "Finance," "Consultant Office," etc. Presumably the names under each of these headings are the employees in those departments who received bonuses.

    But then we have these categories: "Chemical;" twelve employees got bonuses. "Nuclear;" nine employees got bonuses. "Missiles;" seven employees got bonuses. "Biological;" nine employees got bonuses. I suppose those words might mean something other than the obvious. But what?


Another document...
    The subject is how to evade the search for "non-conventional weapons and other chemical agents." The evasion includes moving Iraqi Intelligence documents, and substituting Department of Health employees for intelligence agents. Further, the Intelligence Service's "chemical materials and equipment" were relocated. This doesn't sound like they were just moving old munitions left over from the 1980s from place to place.

    As much as one document can prove anything, this seems to demonstrate that Iraq was secretly producing and hiding chemical weapons as of September 1999.


Senator Rick Santorum was involved in releasing the documents which were released as part of Project Harmony.

Posted by AlexC at 12:27 AM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

The only thing surprising about these reports is how long it is taking for them to dribble out.

To be fair, though, we're talking about policies and programs in the nation of "Iraq, which has nothing to do with al Qaeda." We should never have seen these confidential documents in the first place, right? Remember, Bush is a war criminal.

Posted by: johngalt at July 8, 2006 1:56 AM

June 22, 2006

WMDs

Allow me to shamelessly link whore my other blog.

Rick Santorum Says We Found WMDs

Posted by AlexC at 12:01 AM