2007-06-27

Morning Report: June 27, 2007

Tony Blair steps down. Tony Blair officially resigned as Britain's Prime Minister today. to be succeeded by Gordon Brown. Telegraph: 'Tony Blair has submitted his resignation to the Queen after receiving an unprecedented standing ovation from MPs at the end of his final Prime Minister's questions. Labour MPs rose and applauded after the 30-minute session, which saw Mr Blair cracking jokes - even admitting he had received his P45. Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, was in tears.'

On the surge. David Kilcullen at Small Wars Journal: 'On June 15th we kicked off a major series of division-sized operations in Baghdad and the surrounding provinces. As General Odierno said, we have finished the build-up phase and are now beginning the actual “surge of operations”.' Kilcullen explains:
These operations are qualitatively different from what we have done before. Our concept is to knock over several insurgent safe havens simultaneously, in order to prevent terrorists relocating their infrastructure from one to another, and to create an operational synergy between what we're doing in Baghdad and what's happening outside. Unlike on previous occasions, we don't plan to leave these areas once they’re secured. These ops will run over months, and the key activity is to stand up viable local security forces in partnership with Iraqi Army and Police, as well as political and economic programs, to permanently secure them. The really decisive activity will be police work, registration of the population and counterintelligence in these areas, to comb out the insurgent sleeper cells and political cells that have "gone quiet" as we moved in, but which will try to survive through the op and emerge later. This will take operational patience, and it will be intelligence-led, and Iraqi government-led. It will probably not make the news (the really important stuff rarely does) but it will be the truly decisive action.

Kilcullen wants you to understand that the point here is not to expend a lot of resources chasing terrorists all over Iraq. Been there, done that. The focus now is to build security for the civilian population.
The "terrain" we are clearing is human terrain, not physical terrain. It is about marginalizing al Qa’ida, Shi’a extremist militias, and the other terrorist groups from the population they prey on. This is why claims that “80% of AQ leadership have fled” don’t overly disturb us: the aim is not to kill every last AQ leader, but rather to drive them off the population and keep them off, so that we can work with the community to prevent their return.

The Belmont Club has more:
There is a very strong streak of impatience in politics. The very difficult is expected to be accomplished in two years. The impossible may take a little longer. Fortunately, real problems defy media impatience and society eventually shifts mental gears to deal with it. This happened with the AIDs crisis. Perhaps some day it will happen in the confrontation with the networked global insurgency. In the first years of the AIDs crisis there was great impatience and desperates hopes among sufferers for a "cure" round the corner. Something out of Harvard or Johns Hopkins. Interferon, maybe. With the passage of years came the acceptance that there was probably no single forthcoming "cure" Yet this realization was tempered by the gradual realization that while AIDs defied -- and still defies -- a Silver Bullet solution, real and important victories were constantly being won against the disease. A drug here, a drug there. Little by little the fearsome epidemic, which some actually believed would destroy the human race in the early frantic years, became gradually less terrifying. Today there are hopes that AIDs may someday become a serious, but chronic disease. Something that can be managed like hypertension. AIDs still kills, but we have a handle on it; and it is not the end of the world.

David Kilcullen, in explaining operations in Iraq, seems to be mentally at that point already. He does not categorically say 'we are going to win'. He says 'we are making progress here' and 'things are working there'. He is encouraged without being certain. He sees the political and the lead bullets strike home and knows things are not hopeless; that the enemy, like us, are simply men. ...


Commentary. What applies on the physical battlefield also applies in the war of minds: patience, incremental progress, a focus on achievable goals, and a results-oriented approach are the keys to victory. As more and more ordinary citizens inform themselves of the facts and issues, and as the lies and fabrications of the journalistic establishment are exposed, the ground is being prepared for the final defeat of the terrorists and totalitarians. Victory is ours - but only if we want it.

2007-06-24

Morning Report: June 24, 2007

Clueless in Gaza?  Portland's man in the Middle East sounds the alarm, and analysts suggest learning from the Lebanese army's no-nonsense approach. 

A warning from Gaza.  Michael Totten:  'Americans are siding with a weak government compromised and undermined by militarily superior terrorists, the Syrians and Iranians are backing the terrorists, and the Saudis are trying to broker some kind of moderate compromise. Sound familiar? It should.'  Read the rest of MJT's analysis of the Hamas/Syria/Jordan/Lebanon equation at the link.

Chemical Ali to hang.  CNN:  ' An Iraq court on Sunday sentenced three former aides to Saddam Hussein, including the man known as "Chemical Ali," to death by hanging for their role in a 1980s genocide campaign that that killed up to 100,000 Kurds.  Ali Hassan al-Majid, Hussein's first cousin, earned his nickname for atrocities committed in a military campaign code-named Operation Anfal during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war.'

Fox to air 'Muslims Against Jihad'.  Allahpundit:  'As predicted, PBS’s loss is Fox’s gain. Note: this isn’t “Islam vs. Islamists,” the film PBS originally spiked allegedly because it wasn’t quite “balanced” enough in its treatment of fundamentalists. This is a companion documentary made by the same producers, Frank Gaffney and Martyn Burke. As you’ll see from last night’s interview with Gaffney on H&C, even Fox doesn’t have its facts straight about that. Nor is it straight about the airdate: Lowry gives it as 7 p.m. but according to the website and my own cable guide here, the actual time is 9.'  Readers lucky enough to live in Oregon will be able to see the original documentary via OPB:

Portland, OR, May 23, 2007 - Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) today announced that it will distribute Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center to public television stations under an agreement reached between The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Oregon Public Broadcasting.

"Islam vs. Islamists addresses very difficult issues," Steve Bass, president and CEO of Oregon Public Broadcasting. "We are pleased to facilitate a dialogue on one of the central issues in the world today in conjunction with the broadcast."

"As stewards of the investment in public broadcasting, this fulfills our responsibility to the taxpayer," said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


Watch Dreams Into Lightning and Morning Report for details.

Olmert:  No to talks with Abbas.  Ha'Aretz:  'Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected, during his visit to the United States last week, a proposal by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel negotiate a permanent settlement with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Rice supports talks on a "shelf agreement" that would outline the permanent settlement but not be implemented immediately because of Abbas' weak standing. ...'  Read the rest at the link.  ProSemite Undercover
has a comments thread.

Sadr's charge.  Mohammed at ITM

In our last post we briefly mentioned a statement in which Sadr’s office accused Iran of hosting and assisting al-Qaeda, today I’ll talk about that statement in more detail.

The claim itself is not strange. What’s strange is whom it came from. Sadr was the last voice we’d expect to say such a thing. Accusing Iran of interfering in Iraq’s affairs is one thing, but accusing it of hosting and assisting [the Sunni-aligned] al-Qeada is a whole new ballgame. It opens the door for speculation and analysis, especially since Sadr only weeks ago returned from a long stay in Iran in which he was a guest of the top leaders of the Islamic Republic. So why make this statement now?

Some say that the many accusations in and outside of Iraq that Sadr is Iran’s man forced his hand in an effort to distance himself from suspicion. But Sadr’s words do not support this theory because, as previously mentioned, he could have just said that Iran is maliciously interfering in Iraq. When the accusation went beyond that to link al-Qaeda with Iran it became a serious claim that put Iran, his ally, in a very embarrassing position. Are we seeing signs of a breakup?


Full post at the link.  For an apparent breakup between Sadr's main Iraqi Shi'a rival, SCIRI, and Iran, see Morning Report: May 13.

Rice:  No to soft line on Iran.  Fox:  'Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice maintained a firm line Sunday against efforts to soften conditions for Iran to enter talks over its disputed nuclear program, dismissing as "chatter" discussions among U.S. allies about a new approach. ... "I don't know where that's coming from," Rice said en route to France for two days of get-to-know-you meetings with the new, conservative-led French government and a strategy session on the violence and refugee crisis in Sudan's Darfur region. ... "My counterparts when I talk to them are not interested in lowering the bar," Rice said. "There may well be chatter, and I'll call it chatter," Rice said, about other options, but she did not sound concerned about divisions within the international coalition arrayed against Iran.'

Six al-Qaeda killed, five more busted.  MNF-Iraq:  'Six al-Qaeda members were killed and five were detained following a series of early-morning raids in the vicinity of Karmah June 21.  The individuals are believed to be responsible for numerous terrorist incidents, to include kidnappings, murder and improvised explosive device attacks against coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. Members of the cell are also believed to be responsible for the Feb. 7 shoot down of a U.S. Marine CH-46 helicopter that resulted in the deaths of seven Marines.  With Coalition Forces present as advisers, Iraqi Security Forces entered two residences and discovered a computer, various weapons, identification cards and propaganda materials.'

A small life saved in Afghanistan.  Linda writes:  'On the Afghanistan border with Pakistan, our troops battled to save the lives of both mother and child.  Against all odds, our troops won that battle! It was touch and go for a while, but both Mom and baby are on their way to recovery.  Watch the clip, its amazing. I never would have expected such reporting from the BBC. I don't know how it got past the anti-American, anti-war censors, but I'm grateful that it did. Imagine what life would be like if more of these stories slipped past the censors and into the living rooms of America.'  Be sure to read Beth's comment, too.

What is Constant Hawk?  StrategyPage:  'Pattern analysis is one of the fundamental tools Operations Research (OR) practitioners have been using since World War II (when the newly developed field of OR got its first big workout). Pattern analysis is widely used on Wall Street, by engineers, law enforcement, marketing specialists, and now, the military. Constant Hawk uses a special video camera system to observe a locality and find useful patterns of behavior. Some of the Constant Hawk systems are mounted on light aircraft, others are mounted on ground structures. Special software compares photos from different times. When changes are noted, they are checked more closely, which has resulted in the early detection of thousands of roadside bombs and terrorist ambushes. This has largely eliminated roadside bomb attacks on supply convoys, which travel the same routes all the time. But those routes are also watched by Constant Hawk. No matter what the enemy does, the Hawk will notice.'

Hamas militant detained.  Stratfor (subscription) reports:  'Israeli forces on June 23 seized Saleh al-Aruri, founder of Hamas militant wing Izz al-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, in a village north of Ramallah in the Palestinian territories. The detainment comes three months after al-Aruri's release from Israeli custody.'

Taheri:  Military dynamism, political lethargy in Iraq.  Amir Taheri:  'Six months ago, the US-led coalition force in Iraq appeared to be largely in self-defense mode, allowing terrorists and insurgents much latitude in parts of Baghdad and the troubled provinces of Anbar and Diyalah. At the same time the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki appeared to be engaged in a broad political offensive.  Today we have what looks like a reversal of the two situations. There is dynamism in the military field but lethargy in the political.'

What is Arrowhead Ripper?  OpFor

Operation Arrowhead Ripper is aimed at eliminating terrorists operating in, and around Baquoba in Diyala Province. The city has been surrounded with orders to the encircling force – nobody in, nobody out. A Stryker Brigade Combat Team is attacking house to house within the city. I was told last Monday by a senior Public Affairs Officer in Baghdad that the goal was not to clear Al-Qaeda from the city, but to kill them. There will be no running away to fight another day.

On Tuesday, seven al-Qaeda cowards attempted to flee the onslaught in an ambulance but alert Soldiers from 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Lewis, Washington, stopped it. The Soldiers checked the ambulance and found a driver and six men, who appeared to be in their 20s and 30s. Yesterday, an Apache helicopter caught more than a dozen enemy trying to flee the area. They were quickly dispatched from above.

All the while the 3rd ID is on the offensive in the southeast in Operation Marne Torch. They are interdicting river borne smugglers on the Tigris River. Seventeen barges have been sunk. Insurgents have been captured and killed and weapons and explosives have been confiscated or destroyed. Just the other day, Operation Commando Eagle kicked off on the west side of the Tigris, south of Baghdad. This Brigade-sized operation is focusing on the countryside where the two missing soldiers were last seen.

That’s not all folks. Iraqi Army units fought rouge elements of the Mahdi Army in Nasiriyah early this week. There are other operations in the north, around Mosul and the Iraqi Army has taken up blocking positions on the west bank of the Tigris River, north of Baghdad, to insure that the insurgents in Diyala don’t spill over into Salhadin Province. The Marines are on the offence too. They are sweeping through the territory north of Fallujah in an unnamed operation.

All the while, Operation Fardh-al-Qanoon is alive and well in Baghdad. ...



Commentary.  JINSA ties it all together for us:

... We agree that peace, security and a “political horizon” for Iraq requires pushing the enemy out of your neighborhood and destroying him and his military capabilities.

In the broader scheme, it may be instructive for breaking the web of religious/ideological and financial support provided by Iran and Saudi Arabia to non-state actors in weak states. The Lebanese Army, for one, appears clear on the principle. According to Reuters, “The Lebanese army’s insistence on the surrender of the leaders of a militant group holed up at a Palestinian camp is complicating efforts to mediate an end to fighting... Mediators had been upbeat (but)... A Lebanese security source confirmed the army wants the surrender of Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker al-Abssi and his military commander known as Abu Hurayra... A group of Palestinian clerics has been leading efforts to end the fighting... One of the mediators said the army had yet to respond to a peace initiative presented by the clerics on Wednesday.”

Surrender. No mediation; no co-optation; no fooling around. Security will come when Fatah al-Islam is gone. ...

2007-06-22

Israel's Pride

Two important conflicts have played out in the Land of Israel this past week. But first, a word from Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook:
Near the end of their journey in the desert, the Israelites arrived at Kadesh. But there was no water to drink, and the people complained bitterly. God commanded Moses to take his staff before the entire people and speak to the cliff-rock, to provide water for the nation. Moses took the staff and assembled the people. But he shouted,

"Listen now, you rebels! Shall we produce water for you from this cliff?" [Num. 20:10]

Moses then struck the cliff twice with the staff, and a huge amount of water gushed out. ...

According to Rav Kook, all religious rage, all intolerance for moral failings, is rooted in this display of anger by Moses. Instead of words of reconciliation, he shouted, "Listen now, you rebels!" Instead of speaking to the heart, he hit the rock. While righteous indignation stems from sincere and pure intentions, the highest goals of holiness will only be achieved through calm spirits and mutual respect.

In our generation, the instruction of Torah and its details involves a pedantic form of debate. Father and son, teacher and student, struggle and battle over Torah study. In the end, their mutual love returns; but the residual feelings of enmity are never completely erased.

The restoration of the peaceful ways of Torah will come through the prophet Elijah, who "shall turn the heart of fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." [Malachi 3:24]


Rav Kook, who is widely regarded as the founder of religious Zionism (and who's one of my personal heroes), embodied an extraordinary combination of idealism and pragmatism, nationalism and universalism, mysticism and rationalism. One of his greatest strengths was his ability to build bridges between seemingly antagonistic parties. The optimism and magnanimity of spirit that enabled him to do this is evident in the passage I've quoted here.

In Jerusalem this week, the annual controversy over the city's gay pride parade ran its course. Regular readers of Dreams Into Lightning will know that I have sympathies on both sides of the issue, and I posted extensively on the controversy last year. This year, the event seems almost anti-climactic. Here is the Jerusalem Post article:
"Jerusalem of Gold," the ballad that united Israelis following the Six Day War, once again echoed in the streets of the capital as both gay rights activists and religious counterprotesters used the song as their anthem.

The point of unity may have been unintentional, but was not entirely surprising, as both the protesters and the marchers acknowledged that the theme of the parade was more about its Jerusalem location than its message of gay pride.

"When we march in Tel Aviv it's like a big party. We have music, we have fun. We are glad to be here but it isn't fun… we're looking over our shoulders all the time, wondering if it will become violent," said David Etkes, a Tel Aviv University student participating in the event. "We came here because we wanted to show Jerusalem that they can't scare the gay community. Jerusalem must learn to accept us, too."

The article goes on to say that the gay parade was seen by observers as much more subdued than its counterparts in cities like Paris, and that a few religious demonstrators managed to infiltrate the parade and heckle participants before being escorted away by police. Meanwhile, Arutz Sheva reports that leading rabbis are moving away from encouraging any kind of counter-demo:
Leading hareidi-religious rabbis say that anti-Gay Pride Parade protests should be put on a low burner. "Prayers are more effective than rallies," they say.

Rabbi Shmuel HaLevy Vozner, Rabbi Nissim Karelitz, and other leading rabbinical sages in Bnei Brak have issued a statement against participation in the "protests and similar events" against the upcoming gay-pride parade in Jerusalem.

The homosexual march is scheduled to take place along King David St. in Jerusalem on Thursday at 5 PM, followed by a rally at 8 PM. Some 7,000 policemen will be on hand to try to neutralize violence, though Jerusalem Police Chief Ilan Franco says he has no illusions that the event will be "violence-free."

"We again warn regarding the gathering of youngsters in the streets of Bnei Brak for protests and similar events," the rabbis wrote, "and we hereby present our position, the position of Torah, that the Sages are not pleased with these gatherings, and whoever studies Torah should guard himself and stay away from them."

The rabbis even say that it is known that the organizers are reckless and "do not have fear of G-d opposite them, and joining up with them is a spiritual danger... A significant number of them are not yeshiva students, but youngsters from other towns who are looking for an excuse to go wild, burn trash bins and destroy public property... Our strength is in our mouths, in prayer to G-d that He will bring down a spirit of purity to enable us to serve Him truly." ...

In other words, what has happened was exactly what needed to happen: both sides have learned to assert their beliefs and values in a civilized way - and they have learned to live with each other. And that is all that anybody could expect.

And this is how it works in a civilized society. Protesters may sometimes get carried to extremes in the heat of the moment - for example, the Haredi demonstrations in past years, or the original Stonewall riots - but ultimately they understand that it is in their own best interests to reach out to the community through dialog.

Contrast this with the mayhem that occurred in Gaza with the takeover by the islamist fanatics of Hamas. Ha'Aretz reports that some Palestinians are seeing the irony in being forced to flee to Israel:
"There were five of them. They stood over me and shot my legs from the knee down. One of them put his Kalashnikov to my head. Instinctively I moved the barrel aside and the bullet hit my hand," Shadi told Haaretz yesterday. He arrived at Ichilov with one leg amputated and the other leg crushed.

"I wanted to shoot myself for voting Hamas," another patient said. He came with his brother, who had been shot in the head while evacuating wounded people in his taxi. "We really believed Hamas would change things," he said. ...

Later yesterday, Zecharia Alrai, 39, an officer in Fatah's elite Force 17 commando unit, arrived. He had been abducted by four Hamas gunmen a week ago. They loaded him into a jeep and drove him to an isolated spot, where they shot three bullets into his leg and dumped him.

"That's not Islam. That's evil and hypocrisy. How ironic that Israel is rescuing us from our Muslim 'brothers,'" he said.

Like Gay Patriot West and Nate Nelson, I'm skeptical of the concept of "gay pride" as such; I think it's better to be able to be proud of one's achievements. Israel - a free, strong, and democratic state surrounded by hostile dictatorships, and a nation where the most widely divergent views can find open expression - has much to be proud of.
The same profundity and precision which in the past was achieved via zeal and passion ("rit'cha d'oraita"), will be achieved in the future through the spiritual strength of gentleness and equanimity. Then the light of the sukkah of peace will encompass the Jewish people and those nations of the world who gather from afar to the holy city of Jerusalem.

2007-06-17

Morning Report: June 17, 2007

The two-state solution. Noah Pollak at Michael Totten's Middle East Journal has a roundup on the two Palestines. Go read the whole thing, but I'm going to cite Khaled Abu Toameh here:
Mahmoud Abbas, who succeeded Arafat in January 2005, had run on a platform that promised Palestinians an end to corruption, mismanagement and nepotism. That's why more than 60 percent of the Palestinians then gave him a mandate.

But after Abbas came to power, he did almost nothing to fulfill his pledges. Instead of fighting corruption, he surrounded himself with symbols of corruption and former Arafat cronies. ...

Amir Taheri, writing in the Times, explains that Hamas, having expelled Fatah, takes over Fatah's lucrative protection racket. On an ideological level, though, here's the nucleus of the conflict:
The longer-term cause of the duel is the deep ideological divisions in Palestinian society: Hamas is religious, Fatah secular. Hamas is pan-Islamist, Fatah Palestinian nationalist.

Translation: Say goodbye to that last brewery in Gaza. Mikey at Harry's Place ponders the implications for "pro-Palestinian" activists in the West. Meanwhile, Arutz Sheva reports that the two Palestines have gotten busy on the important work of not recognizing each other:
Abbas declared that the Hamas armed militia will be outlawed and disbanded. In response, Haniyeh said he had decided to fire the top PA security officials, including the commander of internal security, Rashid Abu Shabak, and the PA's chief of police.

And finally, Maynard at Tammy Bruce reports that Yasser Arafat and his Nobel Peace Prize are finally getting the respect they deserve.

CTB: Jemaa Islamiya updates. Zachary Abuza at the Counterterrorism Blog reports: 'Indonesian authorities announced yesterday that another top JI leader, Zarkasih, often referred to as Nu’aim, was captured in the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, the same day as Abu Dujana’s arrest. It is a remarkable blow against JI. Like Dujana, Nu’aim was trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and served as a trainer in Mindanao. In a press conference yesterday, Dujana admitted to being the head of JI’s military wing and that Nu’aim was the amir, or overall head of the organization since 2005. Clearly the loss of two first-generation, Al Qaeda trained operatives from the dwindling pool of leadership, is a major blow for the terrorist organization.' Kenneth Conboy has more details on JI's embattled leadership:
Based on initial interrogations of top Jemaah Islamiyah members who were captured over the past week, the Indonesian police are now painting a picture of a terrorist organization attempting to consolidate in the face of heavy attrition.

According to the police, JI has now done away with its earlier region-wide mantiqi ("regional command") structure. Previously, JI had four mantiqi covering large portions of Southeast Asia and Australia. At its peak (prior to late 2002), each mantiqi consisted of up to a dozen wakilah, and each wakilah were comprised of several fiah, or cells. Overseeing all this was a markaz, a small headquarters consisting of top JI members.

It is now understood that JI still recognizes a markaz. But under the markaz, JI now divides itself into four ishoba which only cover the Indonesian island of Java. These ishoba are named after historical figures in Islam. ...

Late justice, but justice still. Or Does It Explode: 'A former member of the Klu Klux Klan has been convicted of murdering two black teenagers back in 1964, at the height of the civil rights struggle in the US. It's a sign of hope that perhaps those perpetrating civil rights abuses today will eventually face justice ...'. CNN: 'A jury on Thursday convicted reputed Klansman James Ford Seale of kidnapping and conspiracy in the 1964 deaths of two black teenagers in southwest Mississippi, grisly drownings that went unpunished before federal prosecutors re-examined the forgotten case. Seale, 71, faces life in prison in the deaths of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee. The 19-year-olds disappeared from Franklin County on May 2, 1964, and their bodies were found later in the Mississippi River.'

Commentary. So, what's in store for Israel and the two Palestines now? I'm guessing Hamas down in Gaza may link up with their islamist pals up north across the Lebanese border, Hezbollah. Like Hamas, Hezbollah is islamist, not secular-arabist, in ideology (they're backed by Iran, after all), and rejects even the pretense of accepting Israel's existence. So the logical next step would be for Hezbollah and Hamas to launch a coordinated attack and force Israel to fight a two-front war ... unless Syria decides to make a grab for the Golan, in which case it'd be a three-front war.

Probably Israel is not going to just sit around waiting for this to happen. The Times: 'ISRAEL’s new defence minister Ehud Barak is planning an attack on Gaza within weeks to crush the Hamas militants who have seized power there. According to senior Israeli military sources, the plan calls for 20,000 troops to destroy much of Hamas’s military capability in days. The raid would be triggered by Hamas rocket attacks against Israel or a resumption of suicide bombings. Barak, who is expected to become defence minister tomorrow, has already demanded detailed plans to deploy two armoured divisions and an infantry division, accompanied by assault drones and F-16 jets, against Hamas.' But Israel Matzav comments:
My first comment about this story is to consider the source. I have noted in the past that Uzi Mahnaimi is an extreme leftist who looks for any excuse to make Israel look bad. In January, Mahnaimi reported that Israel was going to attack Iran's nuclear facilities with 'tactical nuclear weapons.' The report came with lots of details about what Israel was going to do - like this report. We're still waiting for it to happen. ...

Go to Carl's post for a detailed analysis, with an update citing the Captain. Captain Ed concludes:
Israel has to do something about Hamastan, without a doubt, but the question is what can they do most effectively. They would be better off taking out the major military points of Hamas and sealing off Gaza. Otherwise, the Israelis would not only have to roll across the entirety of Gaza, but they would also have to re-occupy it to keep Hamas from rising up again in the vacuum of their withdrawal. That does not sound like a promising use of the IDF, especially while Lebanon and Syria threaten Israeli security from the north.

Carl agrees:
My guess is that most of the 'major military points' can be taken out from the air (although they may need some bunker buster bombs for the tunnels). I don't believe Hamas is as well entrenched underground as Hezbullah is and with the sandy soil in Gaza, it would be much harder to dig down deeper.

Shlomo Brom at Israpundit has a lengthy analysis.

"If you don't like it, don't come back."

Joe Arpaio, America's toughest sheriff:
The good sheriff follows the law to the letter. He provides food, clothing and shelter to the inmates. Anything beyond that is not required and is not provided.

He has taken away "comforts" that are common in jails and prisons across our nation. For instance, Sheriff Joe has eliminated smoking and porno magazines in all eight County jails. If someone can show him that prisoners have a constitutional right to lung cancer or porn, I am sure he will reinstate these things.

He also took away weight-lifting equipment. Sheriffs and wardens have long complained that prisoners spend hours every day "bulking up" with weights and becoming extraordinarily strong. Jail and prison guards don't have the luxury of hours of weight training every day. And the result has often been that super-strong inmates have attacked and over-powered guards. Instead of complaining about this, Joe did something about it.

He started chain gangs so the inmates could do something useful with their time. They do free work on county and city projects. Then he started the first female chain gangs in the country so he wouldn't get sued for discrimination. He also started the nation's first juvenile chain gang.

He cut off cable TV because all the prisoners watched were R and X-rated movies. Then he found that there was a ridiculous federal law that requires cable TV in jails. So he hooked the cable TV back up, and now only allows the Disney Channel and the Weather Channel. When he was asked why he allowed the Weather Channel he replied, "So they will know how hot it's gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs."

He removed coffee from the jails because it has no nutritional value. When the inmates complained, he told them, "This isn't the Ritz/Carlton. If you don't like it, don't come back." ...

Read the rest at the link. Hat tip: Blanche in SF.

Let's Blogroll!

Venomous Kate at Electric Venom shares eight things. Find out what she's allergic to, but eats anyway. But it can't compare with another dish that's "smoky, and with a texture that's hard to find." Yum!

What is Jeanne Faulkner's blog about?
Currently that is the work of letting go. Letting adult daughters go out in the world without hovering. Letting worry about their safety balance with security of knowing we raised them well. Remembering how much fun it was to be young adults and wishing I'd had the same kind of support to jump off the ledge that my children have. Raised in different times by different parents, my own launch was more jumping ship than a send off. ...

Read the rest at the link.

Nancy Rommelmann goes below the belt. And somehow, through the mysterious processes of life, Christopher Hitchens fits into it all.

Sa'id Hamza Gets His Virgins

MNF-Iraq:
Coalition Forces killed a senior terrorist leader during an operation Tuesday morning targeting the al-Qaeda in Iraq network in Mosul.

Kamal Jalil Bakr ‘Uthman, also known as Sa’id Hamza, was known to be the al-Qaeda in IraqMosul. Intelligence reports indicate he planned, coordinated and facilitated suicide bombings in the Mosul area. Additionally, he facilitated the movement of more than 100 foreign fighters through safe houses in the area, and orchestrated attacks against Iraqi and Coalition Forces. military emir of

Coalition Forces targeted ‘Uthman Tuesday as part of their operations to disrupt the al-Qaeda in Iraq Mosul. As they entered his residence, ‘Uthman rushed into another room and reached under a mattress. Coalition Forces, reacting appropriately to the hostile threat, engaged ‘Uthman, killing him. The ground force later found a suicide vest under the mattress. senior leader network in

Coalition Forces had detained ‘Uthman during an operation in August 2006. He was released from the Iraqi judicial system in April 2007, and intelligence reports indicate he was planning a six-vehicle suicide bomb attack to avenge his detention.

“We have taken another very dangerous terrorist off the streets of Iraq, and we will continue to deplete the senior leadership of al-Qaeda in Iraq,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokesperson.

A Fourth Possiblity

The Belmont Club:
I will propose a 4th possibility. That a few hundred years ago tribal and incessant warfare was in fact the norm, even in Europe. Especially in Europe, but that somehow many societies have learned how to live in relative peace and freedom; yet somehow this eludes certain societies in the Middle East.

"What does it feel like?"

They can't stop thinking about Jews.

Wouldn't it be great?

What he said.

2007-06-11

Morning Report: June 11, 2007

Libya has second thoughts about chemical weapons, while other minds are occupied with weapons of a more exotic nature.

Libya may back out of chemical arms deal. Bald-Headed Geek spots this story: 'Libya, citing cost and liability concerns, has informed the United States of plans to back out of a contract to destroy its mustard gas stocks as promised under a landmark 2003 agreement, U.S. officials said. The State Department played down the development and insisted Tripoli remains committed to getting rid of its chemical weapons agents.' Well, State would say that, wouldn't they? BHG says, 'I don't suppose that this could have anything to do with our rapid backtracking to the Bush 41 Foreign Policy, right down to the pressuring of Israel while lavishing praise and aid on the Arab states. ...' Nah, that couldn't be it.

Never leave your ... oh, never mind. The gay bomb story has been kicking around the blogosphere for at least a year, but Reason claims it broke on Friday. Well, okay, let's go with it. What about military women? Did anybody invent a "lesbian bomb"? I'm betting that would make some people happy.

Remarks. Morning Report will be going on a short hiatus. I want to focus on some other posts I've been planning to write (here at DiL and elsewhere); also I am traveling to San Francisco for a couple of weeks and preparing to move to SF by the end of the summer. I'll post more about this in an update, but I'm mentioning it here for the benefit of the folks who tune in to read Morning Report.

2007-06-10

About that KGB video

and why I'm not linking it. (Go to Pajamas Media.)

This is an example of something I think is probably true and probably important - but I'd like to have better sourcing and context before posting it. Yuri Bezmenov is (we're told) a former KGB agent, and he explains the KGB's covert tactics including "demoralization" in the US.

Now I don't doubt for a minute that the Soviet Communists did a lot of damage to America with covert operations, and it wouldn't surprise me if every word Bezmenov says is true. But here's the thing: Who is interviewing him? Where and when was the interview conducted? What do we know about Bezmenov other than what the video (and Pajamas media) tell us?

I'm an enemy of Communism. But not every enemy of Communism is a friend of mine.

Where did this video come from? And did the folks at Pajamas Media take a look at the other videos this same YouTube user has posted?

And did they notice the "88" in the guy's username?

Morning Report: June 10, 2007

The good old days. Cinnamon Stillwell: 'Despite all the calls to "end the occupation," Israel withdrew (against many of its supporters wishes) from Gaza almost two years ago and now it seems the Palestinians want them back. Fed up with the Hamas terrorist leadership they elected (turns out terrorists don't govern very effectively - who knew?) and its constant armed battles with Fatah, the previous terrorist leadership and current partner in the "unity government," Gazans are asking Israel to stop the chaos.' Cinnamon cites this Reuters article: 'For most Palestinians, black-hooded gunmen have long been respected symbols of resistance against Israeli occupation. Now, frequent internal fighting and lawlessness gripping the Palestinian territories have transformed the militants into no more than gangsters in the eyes of many of those who once saw them as heroes.' See Commentary, below.

UK Education Minister slams Israel boycott. JPost: 'The intention to impose a boycott on Israel by the British Union of Colleges and Universities (UCU) is academically counter-productive and does not represent the position of the British people or their government, British Minister of Education Bill Rammell said on Sunday. "A boycott is fundamentally wrong," Rammell said during a press conference at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. "I hope that my visit here sends a strong message of the views of the British government and people." '

Six Al-Qaeda suspects captured. MNF-Iraq:
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Coalition Forces captured six suspected terrorists Sunday morning during operations that continue to deny safe haven to members of the al-Qaeda in Iraq terrorist network.

Based on information gained during a successful operation May 27, Coalition Forces targeted a location in Fallujah looking for an individual suspected of recruiting for al-Qaeda. The suspected jihad leader is known for using “join or die” sermons and indoctrination ceremonies where those who refuse to swear allegiance are killed. Coalition Forces detained one suspected terrorist associated with the leader.

In Mosul, two coordinated operations netted three suspected terrorists tied into the al-Qaeda in Iraq network. One of the suspects is allegedly a recruiting emir for the terrorist network in Mosul, while another is suspected of facilitating the movement of foreign fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Southeast of Fallujah, Coalition Forces detained two suspected terrorists for their alleged involvement with a senior al-Qaeda in Iraq leader known for placing improvised explosive devices and coordinating terrorist attacks.

“We’re relentlessly attacking the al-Qaeda network to deny terrorists the ability to hide among the Iraqi people and spread their jihadist propaganda,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokesperson. “The Iraqi people are choosing their own future, and it does not include terrorism.”

IDF arrests wanted terrorist. Arutz Sheva: 'IDF soldiers arrested an Islamic Jihad terrorist at the Bekaot checkpoint, northeast of Shechem. The operation took place on Saturday, and details were released for publication on Sunday afternoon. The terrorist is Masoud Abdullah Masoud, who has been wanted for some time. He was taken to security services for questioning.'

Lebanon catches terrorists with Al-Qaeda, Syria links. Gateway Pundit: 'The captured Al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Lebanon confessed to having direct links to Syrian President Assad's brother-in-law, Gen. Asef Shawkat. The captured Al-Qaeda terrorists in Lebanon were planning attacks on UN and foreign diplomats.'

Commentary. There's been a definite trend in the items showing up on my Google reader. I'm starting to see a lot of stories like this article from JPost: 'One Palestinian was killed and 17 wounded in renewed fighting between the two sides in the southern Gaza Strip. Palestinian Authority officials expressed fear that the tensions would lead to another round of bloody fighting. About 160 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds wounded in internecine fighting in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the beginning of the year. Burhan Hammad, the top Egyptian security representative in the Gaza Strip, warned about renewed fighting between the two parties. He blamed "suspicious parties" among the Palestinians for working to renew the violence. Although he did not name the parties, his remarks were seen as directed toward a number of Fatah warlords, including Muhammad Dahlan.' The article goes on to tell the story of 20-year-old Hassan al-Bazam, a bodyguard for PA leader Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, who was captured and tortured by Fatah gunmen. "These people are real murderers," Bazam said. "Even the Jews did not do such cruel things to us."

That would probably go a ways to explain this item from Israel Matzav: PA Mufti issues fatwa against emigration. Israel Matzav adds: 'Some 10,000 'Palestinians' - mostly university graduates who cannot find work in the 'Palestinian Authority' administered territories - have applied for permission to reside permanently abroad since the beginning of this year. Most of the applications have been to the US, the EU and Canada. Some 45,000 applications by 'Palestinians' to emigrate are pending over all.'

For some Palestinians, reunification with Jordan is starting to not look like such a bad idea after all.

Also on the radar: Israeli/Syrian talks. Good idea? Bad idea? Here's Anshel Pfeffer at the Jerusalem Post:
The American attitude toward Israel's dealings with Syria reflects the downturn in the cachet Israel enjoyed in Washington before last summer's Lebanon war. At the outset of the war, Israel was regarded as the front-line of the West's war against radical Islam and was given carte blanche to go after Hizbullah. Having failed to do so in a satisfactory manner, Israel's leadership is now seen as too weak to deliver a peace treaty with Syria and its military as too disorganized to deal a conclusive blow to its enemies.

That sounds about right. So does Pfeffer's estimation that, despite Israel's poor position, Washington sees Assad's predicament as no better, and that "he can be left to stew in his own juices" while the Administration tackles the more pressing matters of "stabilizing Iraq, confronting Iran, ensuring the survival of the Saniora government in Lebanon and restarting some kind of process between Israel and an Abu Mazen-led Palestinian Authority."

JINSA wonders what's in it for Syria.
But if we understand the Prime Minister’s motivation, what about Syria’s motivation to talk even as it continues to threaten Israel, make Jordan nervous, and undermine Lebanon and Iraq?

Answer: "Syria doesn’t want to talk to Israel, but to the U.S. government. Bashar Assad wants to find a way to receive assurances that the U.S. will not topple his regime." JINSA believes that "the Administration should not only NOT provide such assurances - nor should Israel presume to discuss this on our behalf - but we should strongly suggest that the longevity of the current regime is of less than no interest to us." And that's my opinion too.

2007-06-08

Morning Report: June 8, 2007

Israel's government offers a deal to a neighbor; signs of life from Old Europe.

Olmert offers Syria talk, Golan. Our anonymous Western diplomat must have had the Prime Minister's ear. Arutz Sheva: 'Israel's daily Yediot Acharonot reports Friday that PM Olmert has agreed to a deal with Syrian leader Bashar Assad, whereby Syria would receive control of the Golan Heights in exchange for revoking the Syrian-Iranian alliance and cutting all ties with terrorist organizations. Olmert reportedly informed Syria, via a third party, that he is aware that a peace agreement with Syria "means returning the Golan to Syrian sovereignty." He said he is willing to do so, but wishes to know if Syria, in return, will "dismantle, in stages, its alliance with Iran, Hizbullah and Palestinian terrorist organizations." ... Assad has not yet responded to Israel's latest offer.' Fox News: 'Israel sent secret messages to Syria recently signaling willingness to give up the captured Golan Heights in return for a peace deal that would require Syria to distance itself from Iran, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had German and Turkish diplomats relay to Syrian President Bashar Assad that Israel is willing to hold direct peace negotiations and give up the strategic plateau, seized in the 1967 Mideast war, the Yediot Ahronot daily said, quoting officials close to Olmert.' IRIS: 'Olmert has lost his mandate to be Prime Minister for failing to defend the country during a war with Syria's proxy, Hezbollah. So what does he do? Offer the strategically commanding Golan Heights to Syria, which 84% of the public opposes. In exchange for words from a terrorist regime.'

France moves to condemn Ahmadinejad's Israel remarks. It's a different France under Sarkozy, that's for sure. JTA: 'France will move to have the Security Council condemn the Iranian president’s recent comments on Israel. A spokesman for the French mission to the United Nations said France would formally introduce a draft declaration to the Security Council Friday condemning President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent declaration on the destruction of Israel. A declaration is a lesser step than a council resolution, which carries the weight of international law.'

Commentary. The Fourth Rail has a roundup of Iranian secret cell activity against Coalition forces.

2007-06-07

Morning Report: June 7, 2007

A Turkish offensive sparks rumors and denials.

Turkey-Iraq-Kurdistan update. Debka is standing by its story of a major anti-PKK offensive by Turkish forces, but has backed down from its earlier claim that some 50,000 Turkish troops had entered Iraq. According to a press release, Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gül (and will somebody please tell Debka that the man's name is Gül, not Gulf) denied that any troops had crossed the border at all.
Turkish FM denies troops enter northern Iraq
Published: 06/06/2007 16:28 GMT

ANKARA - Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul denied Wednesday that Turkish troops had entered neighbouring northern Iraq in a cross-border operation to hunt down Kurdish terrorists.

"There is no incursion into any other country at the moment," Gul told reporters here.

He was responding to a question on media reports that several thousand Turkish troops had crossed into the Kurdish-held autonomous enclave to crack down on Kurdish terrorists based there.

Interestingly enough, a similar denial came from Baghdad:
Iraq says sees no sign of incursion by Turkish army
Wed Jun 6, 2007 12:40PM EDT

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Wednesday there was no evidence that Turkish troops had crossed the Iraqi border to launch a military operation against Turkish rebels hiding in the mountains.

"We have checked all along the border and there hasn't been any incursion or military operation inside Iraqi territory," he told Reuters.

"Iraq will not tolerate any military incursion. There is always room for dialogue," he said.

A Turkish military official said Turkish troops had conducted a "limited operation" into northern Iraq in recent days in pursuit of Kurdish rebels.

"This cannot be called a cross-border operation, it is a limited operation," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Here's what Debka is saying about the Turkey/Iraq situation now:
June 7, 2007, 3:59 PM (GMT+02:00) - Turkey imposes three-month martial law on its border region with Iraq, closes region’s airspace to civilian flights, DEBKAfile’s military sources report.

The announcement appeared Thursday, June 7, on the Turkish General Command’s Web site and mentioned three zones Siirt, Sirnak, where Turkish forces fighting Kurdish PKK rebels are concentrated, and Hakkari.

It followed the outbreak of fierce battles between Turkish army and Kurdish PKK rebels on both sides of Turkish-Iraqi border. A Turkish Black Hawk shot down over Iraq and several tanks hit. Heavy casualties are reported on both sides.

The PKK Kurdish Workers Party turns out to have been ready for the major Turkish operation, well-armed with anti-tank and shoulder-borne missiles for shooting down Turkish warplanes and helicopters. Despite Ankara’s blackout on the scale of operation against the Kurdish rebels on both sides of the border and the scope of the Turkish incursion of Iraq, DEBKAfile’s military sources report the situation as of Thursday, June 7:

PKK bands, who stole earlier into southeastern Turkey from Iraq and locally, are hitting Turkish concentrations behind the lines and impeding their thrust into Iraqi Kurdistan to destroy rebel hideouts. The Turkish army is therefore fighting on two fronts: in the southeastern Turkish Gabar, Cudi and Bakok mountains and River Cehennem, as well as in northern Iraq.

DEBKAfile’s military sources reported Wednesday that the several thousand troops which entered N. Iraq were only the first wave of the Turkish invasion, with more to come. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US ambassador to Ankara had met with the Turkish General Staff, which confirmed that the initial reports of the invasion were not accurate [duh - aa]. Later reports spoke of a “cross-border” raid.

Our military sources estimate that some 15,000 rebel Kurdish Workers Party, PKK, are holed up in Iraqi Kurdistan. To destroy their bases would require many more than the few thousand Turkish troops and longer than a cross-border raid admitted by Ankara – especially if the incursion sparked Iraqi Kurdish resistance as has been threatened. ...

Full post at the link. That's absolutely all I have on this at the moment, so now you know as much as I do. I'll post anything else that comes up.

Commentary. My unscientific guess is that there was a cross-border attack, and the "several thousand troops" figure is closer to the truth. There is probably a lot of backstage poltics going on here; the Kurds are not a political monolith, and Kurds on the Iraqi side of the border may have different interests from those on the Turkish side - with all due respect to the ideal of a unified Kurdistan. I'm hoping Michael Totten will post something on this soon. Right now he's resting up from our road trip with Judith Weiss yesterday.

2007-06-05

JFK Terror Plot Update

Latest updates. Tammy Bruce: 'As I noted about an offhand comment made by one of the Islamists wife, there seems to be quite a direct connection to the JFK Airport plot to both Venezuela and Iran. Now, the FBI is making noise that they, too, are curious about the situation. The fact that this is news to them concerns me. Chavez and Ahmadinejad have been making eyes at each other for quite some time, even to the point last year of Chevez offering Venezuela as aplace for Iran to park some of its warplanes.

I have also reminded you on various occassions about al-Qiada, Hamas and Hezbollah running the drug operations in South America, and using the Mexican border as a conduit for Islamists terrorists. Thism akes the absurdity of the amnesty bill the monumental danger to homeland security. Even though Michael Chertoff seems to be more worries about $50 lettuce.'

Abdul Nur, 4th suspect in JFK terror plot, surrenders. 'A Guyanese suspect in an alleged plot to bomb a fuel pipeline feeding New York's John F. Kennedy Airport surrendered to police Tuesday in Trinidad, a police official said. Abdel Nur turned himself in at a police station outside the Trinidadian capital of Port-of-Spain, police spokeswoman Wendy Campbell told The Associated Press. "This is the fourth of the group we were looking for" in the alleged plot to blow up fuel lines that feed the airport, said FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko in Washington. ... The others arrested include a former opposition member of Guyana's parliament and a former airport air cargo employee who was arrested in New York. ... U.S. authorities claim the alleged plotters unsuccessfully sought support in Trinidad from Jamaat al Muslimeen, a radical Islamic group that staged a deadly coup attempt in the Caribbean nation in 1990. In addition to Nur, Trinidadian authorities are holding two suspects: Abdul Kadir, the former Guyanese lawmaker, and Kareem Ibrahim of Trinidad. They are fighting extradition to the United States. The other suspect named, Russell Defreitas, is a former JFK air cargo employee who was arrested in New York. He is a U.S. citizen native to Guyana, a former Dutch and British colony on the northern coast of South America.' Go to the link for full story.

KEYE-42 (CBS) has more, with quotes from anti-terrorism expert Richard Miniter. They've also got a still from the video at Lindenwood Diner where Defreitas took his last breaths as a free man. And reminders that this nutjob was nursing a grudge against America and Israel for a long time.

CNN: Four men charged. This item has a good video segment by CNN (worth sitting through the commercial).

Remarks. One thing that's starting to bug me about this story is that the Government's assessment of the plot seems to be inconsistent: it would have resulted in a "significant loss of life" (Mark Mershon, FBI) and yet it "wasn't technically feasible" (Homeland Security). Well, which is it? It might be possible to reconcile these two statements, but on the face of things it looks as if the Feds can't make up their minds.

Morning Report: June 5, 2007

One terrorist plot busted, but many more to go. Are we surprised that Iran's name is coming up? Sometimes the biggest challenge is keeping the power on.

JFK terror plot "tip of the iceberg". The Telegraph: 'The alleged conspiracy to blow up John F Kennedy airport, in New York, and a recent plot to kill soldiers at a nearby United States Army base represent only the "tip of the iceberg" of terrorist plots against America, according to US officials. "There's a lot of activity out there," a counter-terrorism official said yesterday. "Obviously, you don't want to tip off every suspect that they are being monitored. On the other hand, we are not going to wait until the fuse is lit." He said that the airport plot, which sparked a lengthy FBI sting operation, was first detected by CIA operatives in the Caribbean and South America nearly 18 months ago. "Our intelligence agencies pay careful attention to what goes on there," the official told The Daily Telegraph. ... The FBI announced at the weekend that they had foiled a plan to blow up a 40-mile fuel pipeline to JFK airport, which handles a thousand flights a day. It was allegedly hatched by Russell Defreitas, a Guyanese-born American citizen who had enlisted the help of a Guyanese politician and a radical Islamist group in Trinidad, when he worked as a cargo handler at the airport before 1995. The counter-terrorism official said that although the plan "was not technically possible" it was one of many cases being investigated by the US government and highlighted the twin dangers of Muslim Islamists holding American passports and plots with links to other countries.'

Iran connection? Via Power Line, The New York Sun reports: 'As New York police and the FBI interview suspects in an alleged plot to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport, one thread the ongoing investigation will explore is why one of the suspects was planning to go to Iran. A former Guyanese legislator, Abdul Kadir, was arrested in Trinidad on Friday on a plane bound for Caracas, Venezuela. According to Mr. Kadir's wife, Isha Kadir, he was in the island nation to pick up an Iranian visa so he could attend an Islamic conference in Tehran. Two of Mr. Kadir's children are studying in Iran, according to Mrs. Kadir. Trinidad's counterterrorism police are also investigating whether one of Mr. Kadir's alleged co-conspirators, a 56-year old Shiite imam in Trinidad named Kareem Ibrahim, had ties to Shiite organizations in southern Iraq and Iran through an Islamic discussion group he hosted, according to the Trinidad Express.'

Power surge. CENTCOM: '“The surge has assisted civil military operations by putting more coalition eyes on the environment, so that we get a more responsive analysis of what essential services and economic development services are needed by the populace,” said Lt. Col. John Rudolph, the assistant chief of staff of civil military operations for Multi-National Division – Baghdad. Rudolph said civil military operations in MND-B’s area of operation, which run the gamut from governance to agriculture to infrastructure to economic improvements, have already dedicated more than $163 million of Commander’s Emergency Relief Project (CERP) funds to projects all aimed at improving the quality of life for Iraqis living in and around Baghdad. “This really is about improving the quality of life for the Iraqis,” said Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the deputy commanding general for support with MND-B. That “support” role not only touches the lives of the 50,000-plus troops working under MND-B, but also the Iraqi people. He said it’s challenging to move ahead with quality of life initiatives in the face of extremist efforts to stop them. “There is a perception that I’ve seen in every sector of this region we have responsibility for - when I talk to the Iraqis - that the Americans have the ability to put a man on the moon, and yet they can’t provide us with electricity,” Brooks said. “That whole idea of an expectation that we promised and haven’t delivered causes a great deal of problems.” Most westerners and Americans, for sure, cannot conceive flicking on a light switch on the wall and having it click with no effect. But, Baghdad has never had electricity flowing to its six million residents 24 hours a day. Electricity, or the lack thereof, was also tool used by the Ba’athist regime to reward or punish the population. “You saw areas favored by Saddam and his regime see power longer throughout the day, but they still didn’t get power 24/7,” Rudolph said. “They still had to use what they called the ‘generator men,’ who were entrepreneurs who had their own generators and supplied power to local neighborhoods for the ‘off power’ periods - even during Saddam’s period.”'

Suspected terrorists detained. MNF-Iraq: 'Coalition Forces detained four suspected terrorists including one suspected terrorist cell leader Tuesday morning during raids in northeast Baghdad. The individuals detained during the raid are believed to be members of the secret cell terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training.'

Commentary. The official quoted in this morning's first item says the plot was "not technically possible", which comes as a relief and will no doubt provide amusement for those who insist that concerns about terrorism are exaggerated. Well, good; and let's hope the rest of the terrorist iceberg isn't technically possible either, but my money's on keeping the fight on.

There are two things going through my mind right now. The first is that it's a well-established technique of the Left to practice the art of misdirection. Whenever the concern is raised about domestic terrorism, or a foreign islamist threat, or Communist influence in our government, the response is to shift the focus from the concern itself to a counter-concern: "Some people think terrorism is a threat [primary concern], but what about the threat from domestic wiretapping [counter-concern]?" The function of the counter-concern is to divert attention from the primary concern, which is left unaddressed. There is no interest in the question, "Why might some people consider terrorism a threat? Is terrorism a threat?"

The second is the principle noted by Jonathan Weiner in the Counterterrorism Blog, "What we have seen in common with each of these dangerous movements fizzling out is the lost of belief in the underlying ideology that sustained the terrorist fervor, and the integration of persons who once could have been subjects from recruitment into the opportunities of mainstream society." In this process - as in the ground war itself - patience and persistence will be the key.

I remember reading a comment on a liberal friend's journal worrying about the "'war on terror' mentality". It is this "mentality" that most spooks our enemies and their enablers, and it is indeed precisely this "mentality" that we must maintain. This means holding our ground and being clear in our conviction that the blessings of freedom and liberal democracy are worth defending.

2007-06-04

Sadr's Return

Omar Fadhil at PJM:

Given the combination of SIIC leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim’s [wiki] absence from the Shia political scene, the training Sadr received in Iran, and the timing Tehran chose for his return, Moqtada al-Sadr has obviously returned strong. Strong enough to summon seven Iraqi governors to meet him and listen to his instructions about how they should run their respective provinces in central and southern Iraq at the same time his militiamen were fighting the police forces of at least one of those provinces.

In the speech Sadr made at that meeting he called for the peaceful coexistence and cooperation of the police and army on one side, and the Mahdi Army on the other.

Setting aside the fact that endorsing an armed outlaw militia is a brazen violation of the constitution and criminal law (militias that existed prior to OIF are something of a different case, though they too remain constitutionally unacceptable), the meeting sets a dangerous precedent. Sadr is presenting himself as a head of state, leading senior state officials to his meeting like sheep, and challenging the power of the legitimate leaders of the country.

Maliki reacted quickly and gathered the governors around his table in an attempt to minimize Sadr’s influence, and ordered the governors to cleanse their security forces of any elements whose loyalties lie outside of the Iraqi government. It remains unclear which man made a bigger impact. And it remains painfully disappointing that no one in the government did anything to condemn Sadr’s move, or publicly denounce his undermining of the structure of the state.

It’s become clear now that Iraq will not become a successful state when such violations of the law can happen in the open and remain unchecked. Confronting Sadr’s militia with limited operations is not enough—it’s time to deal with him seriously. ...

Read the rest.

Update

I'm getting caught up with some old drafts that I had been putting off posting until I got them more filled out and polished. Well, the great is the enemy of the merely adequate; so I'm just going to throw them up there. Totten and Taheri raise some important points about liberalism, and I am still hoping to come back to these with a few thoughts of my own. Meanwhile, please take a few moments to read this.



Also, I've just put up a bunch of posts at DiL on Typepad which I'm going to copy over to here (Blogger site) shortly.


Don't forget to watch the Google Reader, newly added to the right-hand sidebar just above the links list. I am continually updating that with new items of interest from my favorite feeds.


Finally, I am experimentally making the transition from Safari to Firefox as my main browser. I'm mostly a novice at html and I'm still getting used to how Firefox handles style tags and text; so please be patient if the format here looks a little funny now and then.

The Dream Palace of the Liberals

Already linked at Morning Report, but worth a post of its own, here's a selection from The Liberal Betrayal by Amir Taheri:

BEFORE the U.S.-led inter ventions in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, much of the Middle Eastern Left shared the views of its U.S. and European counterparts with regard to America.

"We looked to the Left in the West and imitated it," says Awad Nasir, one of Iraq's best-known poets and a life-long Communist. "We heard from the United States and Western Europe that being Left meant being anti-American. So we were anti-American. And then we saw Americans coming from the other side of the world to save us from Saddam Hussein - something that our leftist friends and the Soviet Union would never contemplate."

Mustafa Kazemi, spokesman for the new Afghan front, expresses similar sentiments. "Our nation is still facing the menace of obscurantism and terror from Taliban and al Qaeda," he says. "Thus, we are surprised when elements of the Left in the United States and Europe campaign for withdrawal so that our new democracy is left defenseless against its enemies."

IRAQ'S parties of the Left were shocked when the new So cialist government in Spain decided to withdraw from the U.S.-led coalition in 2004. "We had hoped that with a party of the Left in power in Madrid we would get more support against the Islamofascists, not a withdrawal," says Aziz al-Haj, the veteran Iraqi communist leader.

Tareq al-Hashemi, vice president of Iraq, has also gambled his impeccable progressive record on the success of the pluralist experiment in his country. "Our enemy is al Qaeda, not the United States," he says. ...


Go read it all, and then take a trip down memory lane with this article describing what happened when Iraqis tried to speak at an anti-war rally in 2003:

I
spent part of last Saturday with the so-called "antiwar" marchers in
London in the company of some Iraqi friends. Our aim had been to
persuade the organizers to let at least one Iraqi voice to be heard.
Soon, however, it became clear that the organizers were as anxious to
stifle the voice of the Iraqis in exile as was Saddam Hussein in Iraq.



The
Iraqis had come with placards reading "Freedom for Iraq" and "American
rule, a hundred thousand times better than Takriti tyranny!"

But
the tough guys who supervised the march would have none of that. Only
official placards, manufactured in thousands and distributed among the
"spontaneous" marchers, were allowed. These read "Bush and Blair,
baby-killers," " Not in my name," "Freedom for Palestine" and "Indict
Bush and Sharon."

Not one placard demanded that Saddam should disarm to avoid war.

The
goons also confiscated photographs showing the tragedy of Halabja, the
Kurdish town where Saddam's forces gassed 5,000 people to death in
1988.

We managed to reach some of the stars of the show,
including Reverend Jesse Jackson, the self-styled champion of American
civil rights. One of our group, Salima Kazim, an Iraqi grandmother,
managed to attract the reverend's attention and told him how Saddam
Hussein had murdered her three sons because they had been dissidents in
the Ba'ath Party; and how one of her grandsons had died in the war
Saddam had launched against Kuwait in 1990.

"Could I have the microphone for one minute to tell the people about my life?" 78-year old Salima demanded.

The reverend was not pleased.

"Today
is not about Saddam Hussein," he snapped. "Today is about Bush and
Blair and the massacre they plan in Iraq." Salima had to beat a
retreat, with all of us following, as the reverend's gorillas closed in
to protect his holiness. ...

Go read the rest at the link. Now, putting it all together, here's Cinnamon Stillwell:

It's gotten to the point where one would be hard pressed to tell the difference lately between the foreign policy of so-called liberals and that of so-called realists. Both are in favor of the sort of isolationism that would leave dictators and theocratic regimes to their own devices, not to mention the oppressed people living under their thumbs. To the extent that engagement with these foreign powers is encouraged, it's in favor of meaningless negotiation in the craven hope that they can save their own skins in the process.



And let it be lesson to those who still don't understand why some of us no longer wish to associate ourselves with Western leftism. There's nothing "progressive" about it.


***

Liberals by nature are idealists. It is our blessing and our curse.

Here is Amir Taheri on liberalism, east and west.

In much of the Middle East, most notably Afghanistan and Iraq, the Left is part of these new alliances.

- In Iraq, two rival Communist parties, along with Social Democrats and other center-left groups, supported the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and continue to play a significant role in the new pluralist system. They are resolutely opposed to a premature withdrawal of American and allied forces, as demanded by the U.S. Congress.

- In Lebanon, Walid Jumblatt's Progressive Socialist Party is at the heart of the democratic movement to against the Islamic Republic's attempt to dominate the country through its Hezbollah surrogates. The Lebanese democratic movement includes other parties of the Left, notably the Socialist Salvation Movement (Inqadh) and the Movement of the Democratic Left.

- In Iran, virtually the whole of the Left rejects President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's anti-Americanism and calls for normalization of ties with the United States. The recently created independent trade-union movement is emerging as a vocal challenger to Khomeinism.

Now here's Michael J. Totten on Iran's revolutionary liberals :

The Communists hosted us warmly and kindly gave us a tour of their camp. But the liberals who split with them in the late 1980s proved to be far and away their intellectual and political superiors.



(UPDATED TO CLARIFY: There are two
separate Iranian parties here who both call themselves Komala. One is
communist, the other is liberal. The people interviewed in this article
are the ex-communists. The people interviewed in the previous article
are still communists.)



Secretary General Abdullah Mohtadi and Political Bureau member Abu
Baker Modarresi sent two men to pick us up from our hotel – just to
make sure we made it to the right place. They drove us to their safe
house under armed guard less than an hour away from the Iranian border.
We met over coffee and cigarettes.



MJT: You are both from Iran?



Mohtadi: Yes, yes we are.



MJT: How long have you been here?



Mohtadi: The first time our headquarters came inside Iraqi
Kurdistan was in late 1983, when we lost the last liberated area in
Iranian Kurdistan. So we moved our headquarters to Iraqi Kurdistan at
that time, which was under Saddam Hussein. For some months they were
reluctant to accept us, but they realized, okay, we are against the
Islamic regime.



MJT: Did you ever have any problems with Saddam’s government?



Mohtadi: Yes. They shelled us. Also, we are the only Kurdish Iranian party that has been gassed by Saddam Hussein. ...



MJT: You had a split with the
Komalah Party down the road at some point. We know about that because,
as you know, we accidentally met them a few days ago instead of you.



Mohtadi: That Komalah Party was established as an underground
organization in 1969, under the Shah. We were a leftist organization.
It was the 60s and 70s. It was a struggle against the Shah, against
oppression, dictatorship, for social justice, and against…the United
States. Sorry. [Laughs.]



MJT: Well, that’s alright.



Lasswell: My father was working pretty vigorously against aspects of the United States at the same time.



Mohtadi: We were also inspired by the anti-war movement in the 70s.



MJT: We wouldn’t expect you to have any other position. You’re a leftist, so…



Mohtadi: Yeah, ok. So, members of Komalah were arrested
several times. Every other political dissident in Iran…there was no
political freedom, especially in the 1970s. A system of very harsh and
brutal torture was carried out in Iran, in the prisons. The
dictatorship intensified. The Shah paved the way for his overthrow.



So many organizations in Iran were crushed and disintegrated. Komalah was not. We survived. ...



Mohtadi: There were two different groups, religious and
secular leftist guerilla groups who were influential at that time.
People thought they were the way out of the dictatorship. Many many
intellectuals and students and political activists joined them. But we
wrote different pamphlets criticizing their methods. And that made us
people who had something, a kind of political theory for a movement.



MJT: What do you think of PJAK? [The Iranian wing of the Marxist-Leninist Kurdistan Worker’s Party, the PKK, from Turkey.] Are they the kind of people you just described? Or are they more…popular than that?



Mohtadi: No, no, no, they are not popular. They are part of the PKK. When they cross the border [from Turkey] they change their name.



The problem with the PKK…I mean, the Kurdish toilers have every right to fight for their rights and their freedom. But the PKK as
an organization is not reliable. They are very fanatic in their
nationalism. They are very undemocratic in nature. They have no
principles. I mean, they can deal with Satan. They can fight the Kurds. ...



Lasswell: The people down the road [referring to the estranged and unreconstructed Communist faction of the Komalah Party] said the PKK has a lot of money.



Mohtadi: They do.



MJT: Where do they get this money? Do they get it from these other regimes?



Mohtadi: The Kurdish-Turkish community in Europe is a huge
community, unlike the Iraqi Kurds who are a few thousand or tens of
thousands. They are millions. And they tax people. They impose taxes on
people, on every business that Kurds have in Europe. They cannot fail
to pay.



MJT: So it’s basically a mafia now. In Europe.



Mohtadi: I think so, yes. Unfortunately, they are. They also
have bases on the border between Iran and Turkey. They help people
smuggle drugs and they tax them. It is a huge source of raising money.



PKK ideology is a mixture of Stalinism, Kurdish tribalism, patriarchalism.



MJT: I thought they were opposed to tribalism.



Mohtadi: They exploit the tribal culture. They have mobile
phones, walkie talkies, satellite stations, but I don’t consider them
to be a modern party in the real sense of the word. Like the mafia. The
mafia was modern in a sense, but they exploited the medieval culture
that was there in Italy, the family connections, the family loyalties.
The PKK did not start the struggle against
Turkey until they had eliminated other Kurdish groups and achieved a
monopoly of the Kurdish movement. ...



MJT: If I describe you as social democrats, is that accurate?



Modarresi: We won’t be angry. [Laughs.]



Mohtadi: We haven’t decided to take that name or not. But we
are for democratic values. We are for political freedoms, religious
freedoms, secularism, pluralism, federalism, equality of men and women,
Kurdish rights, social justice. We are for a good labor law, labor
unions. There is an element of the left in our political program.



MJT: You sound like the mainstream left.



Mohtadi: But as a leftist and as a Kurd I thought the left
discredited itself by associating itself with Saddam Hussein and with
the political Islamist groups. The left, the genuine left, should have
been the real defenders of democracy, of political rights, of political
freedoms, of overthrowing dictators, no matter if the United States
government is or is not against them.



Liberals, being idealists by temperament, wish for a day when war will be abolished. This wish is noble in itself, but is not the basis for a sound defense policy. Albert Einstein's famous quote, "You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war," is factually wrong and was proved so by the effectiveness of deterrence in the Cold War.

But still there persists a wish to do away with warfare, or at least to make it disappear.

The Democrats' obsession with "special forces" as a military cure-all, as described in this Michael Fumento's Weekly Standard article on the Democrats' Special Forces fetish, is an example of this kind of wishful thinking. In this view, America's Special Forces troops are X-Men. They are superheroes with magical powers. They can overcome evil without the messiness of regular warfare. And best of all, they operate in secret - hey, that's what makes 'em special! - so the rest of us don't have to know too much about what they are doing. Pelosi's New Direction for America promises on page 10 to "double the size of our Special Forces".



Here's Fumento:

If you like SOF, you love the SEALs. They are the stuff of legend, and I'm proud to be among the few journalists to have been with them in combat in Iraq, thereby allowing me to say with firsthand experience that the legend is deserved. They truly fight like machines. So we want a lot more SEALs, right? Ideally, yes. But Special Operations Command is already "mandated to create two entirely new SEAL Teams by 2010," notes 14-year SEAL veteran Matthew Heidt (who blogs as "Froggy" at www.blackfive.net). Attrition in the would-be SEALs' first round of training, the BUD/S course, "is 70 percent or more," according to Heidt, and even to man the two new authorized teams by 2010 "will be difficult . . . unless training standards are radically lowered."

Capt. Larry Bailey, a SEAL for 27 years, vouches for the difficulty of expanding the teams. He's best known for tirelessly exposing men who fraudulently claim to have been SEALs (of which there is a virtual epidemic). But he commanded the BUD/S School at Coronado, Calif., for three years in the 1980s. He was given a mandate to graduate more SEALs without lowering the quality and did so temporarily. Nevertheless, "the Naval Special Warfare Center, which runs BUD/S, has been for years doing everything it can, short of lowering standards, to increase the number of graduates from this most difficult course," he told me. "There are just so many souls that can withstand that stress."

Go to www.navyseals.com and click on "training" and you'll wonder that even 30 percent survive. "Doubling the size is impossible," Bailey told me. "But there's something about special ops that appeals more to Democrats than GOP," he added. "There's almost like there's a craving to be accepted by real men. I don't know any liberal Democrat who doesn't like special ops."

Expanding other units will prove more doable because their attrition rates are lower. But few if any Special Operations Forces units could be doubled, much less the overall force. "Doubling SOF is a joke," says Heidt.

Utopianism is a form of perfectionism. In the perfectionist or utopianist mindset, only two conditions exist: perfect and not-perfect. In this view, whatever is "perfect" has no faults, and whatever is "imperfect" has no value.

Morning Report: June 4, 2007

JFK terror plot updates.  More on the JFK terror plotThreatsWatch

In 2006, the House Committee on Homeland Security released a report titled A Line In The Sand: Confronting The Threat at the Southwest Border (PDF).  Within it is found the following paragraphs regarding terrorism, South America and how little we know about the convergence.



Furthermore, according to senior U.S. military
and intelligence officials, Venezuela is emerging as a potential hub of
terrorism in the Western Hemisphere, providing assistance to Islamic
radicals from the Middle East and other terrorists.
...



“Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, has been clearly
talking to Iran about uranium,” said a senior administration official
quoted by the Washington Times. Chavez has made several trips to Iran
and voiced solidarity with the country’s hard-line mullahs. He has
hosted Iranian officials in Caracas, endorsed Tehran’s nuclear
ambitions and expressed support for the insurgency in Iraq. The Times
reports Venezuela is also talking with Hamas about sending
representatives to Venezuela to raise money for the militant group’s
newly elected Palestinian government as Chavez seeks to build an
anti-U.S. axis that also includes Fidel Castro’s Cuba. “I am on the
offensive,” Chavez said on the al Jazeera television network, “because
attack is the best form of defense. We are waging an offensive battle….”




Given all that is happening in Chavez’s Venezuela, some American
officials regret that terrorism is seen chiefly as a Middle East
problem and that the United States needs to look looking to protect its
southern flank. A U.S. intelligence
official expressed concern that “Counterterrorism issues are not being
aggressively pursued in this hemisphere.” Another intelligence official
stated terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay are not being
interrogated about connections to Latin America. The bottom line, when
it comes to terrorism so close to U.S. shores, says the official, “We don’t even know what we don’t know.”




And hence, the sudden unexpected appearance of Guyana as a potential
hub of terrorism support and finance. When the arrested in the JFK
Airport plot include a powerful former member of Guyana’s parliament,
the usage of that individual’s influence within and upon government
there must be considered. Think “Passports.”

Go read the whole thing at the link.  Douglas Farah at the Counterterrorism Blog has more:  'Plots such as that of bombing JFK airport can come to fruition
because of the mixture of Hezbollah training and intelligence guidance
under the protection of states; access to sophisticated weaponry from
the FARC and other rebel groups in the northern tier of South America,
again with the protection of states, primarily Venezuela; clear, easy
access to our borders through the normal _coyote_ routes through
Central America; the ability to move people and materiel by the Central
American _maras_, or gangs, that now have franchise operations in more
than 30 states in the United States.'



Putin to target Europe.  Washington Times:  'President Vladimir Putin sent a chilling message to world leaders on the eve of the Group of Eight summit with a threat to aim Russian nuclear missiles at European cities for the first time since the Cold War. In comments that seemed calculated to cause consternation and division at Wednesday's meeting in Germany, the Russian leader said U.S. plans to erect a missile-defense shield in Eastern Europe had left him with no choice but to retaliate.  "It is obvious that if part of the strategic nuclear potential of the United States is located in Europe, we will have to respond," he told reporters from G-8 countries in Moscow over the weekend. "What kind of steps are we are going to take in response? Of course, we are going to acquire new targets in Europe." '  CNN:  'Speaking to foreign reporters days before he travels to Germany for the annual summit with President Bush and the other Group of Eight leaders, Putin assailed the White House plan to place a radar system in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in neighboring Poland. Washington says the system is needed to counter a potential threat from Iran.'



CAIR named as terrorist supporter.  And now for a spot of good news.  From Captain's Quarters

Federal prosecutors have named the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as an unindicted co-conspirator in support of the terrorist group Hamas. CAIR joins Islamic Society of North America and The North American Islamic Trust as accused terror-supporting organizations in the case against The Holy Land Foundation's officers, as well as 300 other individuals and entities:

Federal prosecutors have named three prominent Islamic organizations in America as participants in an alleged criminal conspiracy to support a Palestinian Arab terrorist group, Hamas.
Prosecutors applied the label of "unindicted co-conspirator" to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, and the North American Islamic Trust in connection with a trial planned in Texas next month for five officials of a defunct charity, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. ...

Read the rest at the link.  Ed concludes:  'It's about time that CAIR got outed, and in a manner which shows the editorial boards of papers like the NY Times and the Strib as the saps and suckers they are. It's also time for Keith Ellison to explain his ties to CAIR and to either repudiate them or to resign his office.'





Commentary.  I suppose I should have included an item on Ahmadinejad's latest declaration that the countdown to Israel's destruction has begun.  But that's not exactly news, is it?