Last week, reader Jim sarcastically inquired, "Do you know if Jimmy Carter has any plans to monitor the elections in Iraq? I know it would be in his interest that the elections go as smoothly as possible and that the human rights abuses of the former regime are officially put to a permanent end. Or does he only monitor elections where Communists and terrorists are suspiciously voted in (Chavez, Abbas, et. al.)?"
Well, Jim, I think we have our answer.
Going to the website for The Carter Center one can find information about Palestinian Presidential Elections, Carter's Calls on Western Hemisphere to Strengthen OAS, a Postelection Statement on Mozambique Elections, and even news about the upcoming 'Winter Weekend' Auction that I'm sure readers won't want to miss.
But elections in Iraq?
Nary a word.
But such silence is telling, is it not?
The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.
-- Michael Moore, April 14th, 2004.
Now I'm not a Revolutionary War expert or anything but I don't recall Nathan Hale, moments before the British hung him, exclaiming, "I only regret I have but one retarded child to give for my country."
[Wa. Post, today] BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's interior minister said Monday that insurgents used a handicapped child as one of the suicide bombers who launched attacks on election day.
Falah al-Naqib told reporters in Baghdad that 38 attacks were carried out on polling stations in Iraq on Sunday and that one of the suicide bombings was carried out by a disabled child.
"A handicapped child was used to carry out a suicide attack on a polling site," al-Naqib said. "This is an indication of what horrific actions they are carrying out."
He gave no other details about the attack, but police at the scene of one the Baghdad blasts said the bomber appeared to have Down's Syndrome.
Al-Naqib praised an Iraqi citizen who was killed while blocking one suicide bomber from reaching a crowd of people outside at polling station.
Keep yapping your gums, Mr. Moore & Co. -- you only hurt your own movement that much more.
Caption quote: An Iraqi woman cries tears of joy after casting her vote, outside a polling station in the holy city of Najaf...
These are the true Minutemen, and Minutewomen.
"This was such a happy day. Under Saddam, it was suffer, suffer, suffer. It was danger, prison, torture, hunger, no food, no democracy. You go to one prison and when you leave, you go to another. Today, for the first day, I feel like an Iraqi."
-- Faheka Abedl Wahed
John Kerry grumpily says we shouldn't "over-hype" the election, which is just one more grain of sand on the vast beach of reasons why he deserves to remain the junior senator from Ted Kennedy's state.
-- Jonah Goldberg
Read the entire Goldberg piece when you get a moment. Here's another nugget:
Three days before the Iraqi election, this gaseous dybbuk of democracy proclaimed that America was losing — or "not winning" — the battle for the "hearts and minds" of Iraqis even as the barbarians were scrawling on walls that anyone who voted would be slaughtered. Does Kennedy truly understand the meaning of the phrase, "winning the hearts and minds"? You do not win a man's heart or mind by threatening to kill him if he expresses what is in his heart or mind. To pick this moment to say that the battle was equally joined by the squads of foreign terrorists and domestic thugs — whose only "agenda" is to retrieve the keys to the dungeons and restore the rape rooms — is to do incalculable and deliberate violence to the effort to bring democracy to Iraq and to the ideals he claims to be speaking for. To suggest that we should look to the Arab League to usher in democracy in Iraq is to give polysyllabic pseudo-intellectual form to the substance of whoopee-cushion exhalations.
Senator Kennedy gave that speech either to deliberately undermine the elections or without much concern that he was doing precisely that. To declare in advance that America should leave Iraq to fend for itself against the thugs promising to murder those who want to be free was in effect to tell the Iraqi people not to stick out their necks out for democracy. Shame on him.
Fortunately, the majority of Iraqi voters didn't hear him or listen to him. They turned out in what appear for the moment to be heroic numbers. Samir Hassan, a 32-year-old man who lost his leg in a car bomb blast three months ago, showed-up. "I would have crawled here if I had to. I don't want terrorists to kill other Iraqis like they tried to kill me. Today I am voting for peace," he said. A polling station in Baghdad re-opened after a suicide bombing because the voters would not be deterred.
If Americans were under fire from suicide bombers would we have had 60 percent voter turnout on election day? Now in the days that follow this estimate may decline, and the deaths of 45 people, Iraqis and Americans included, shouldn't be overlooked, but regardless the election was a startling success.
For all the hype of death and chaos it would seem that in terms of violence election day in Iraq wasn't any different than any other day. But nonetheless one should not downplay the bravery of the Iraqi people, who despite threats and attacks on their lives in the weeks and months before this election, showed up at the polls in about a 60 percent turnout.
Thus, once again, all the pessimists and naysayers look petty. Enjoy that crow, Ted Kennedy.
And Abu Zarqawi looks weaker than ever before. Sunday's events are exactly what al Qaeda had feared.
[Wa. Post] At least 45 people, including a U.S. Marine shot while on combat patrol in Anbar province, were reported killed in suicide bombings, shootings and mortar and rocket attacks. But for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein in April 2003, the haggard capital and other parts of Iraq took on the veneer of a festival, as crowds danced, chanted and played soccer in streets secured by thousands of Iraqi and American forces. From the Kurdish north to the largely Shiite south, at thousands of polling stations, voters delivered a similar message: The elections represented their moment not only to seize the future, but also to reject a legacy of dictatorship and the bloodshed and hardship that have followed the U.S. invasion.
Lines that began small at polling stations grew during the 10 hours of voting, sometimes dramatically. After casting ballots, many Iraqis triumphantly pointed their index fingers, stained with the purple ink that indicated they had voted, and hardly flinched at gunfire and explosions that interrupted the day. At one station, a woman showered election workers with handfuls of candy. At another, a veiled, elderly woman kept repeating, "God's blessings on you" to election workers. Across town, three Iraqi soldiers carried an elderly man in a wheelchair two blocks to a voting booth.
"It's like a wedding. I swear to God, it's a wedding for all of Iraq," said Mohammed Nuhair Rubaie, the director of a polling station in Baghdad's Sunni neighborhood of Tunis where, after a slow start, hundreds of voters gathered as the cloudless day progressed. "No one has ever witnessed this before. For a half-century, no one has seen anything like it.
"And we did it ourselves."
Indeed. And congratulations.
Once more the leaders of the liberal voice find themselves on the wrong side of history:
Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the former Democratic presidential nominee, called the vote "significant" but warned on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "what really counts now is the effort to have a legitimate political reconciliation that is going to take a massive diplomatic effort and a much more significant outreach to the international community than this administration has been willing to engage in."
Actually, Kerry has it backwards -- it's not the US which must reconcile with the world but the world which must reconcile with the Iraqis. The 60 percent of the Iraqi population that voted knows that France, Germany, Russia, the Arab League and others didn't even lift a finger to try and help them. The Iraqis will remember who fought beside them and who did not.
Next, it's Two Drink Minimum Teddy:
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) called on the White House to "look beyond the election." Kennedy, who last week gave a blistering speech on Iraq policy, said in a statement yesterday that the best way to show Iraqis that the United States has no long-term intentions is to pull out some troops now and negotiate a "phase-down" of U.S. forces.
Teddy slays me. His message -- The elections were successful, so let's quit now... Say again, Teddy?
Before the elections the "analysts" were predicting that they would be a failure from abysmally low turnout and new levels of violence. The opposite occurred. Proven wrong they admit no mistakes, but rather revise history and claim that these elections were not the elections Bush wanted:
Analysts also noted that the Bush administration initially resisted the idea of holding elections this soon and only succumbed under pressure from Iraq's most powerful cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The original plan, designed by then-U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer, was a complicated formula of regional caucuses to select a national government, which would write a constitution, and then hold the elections.
"It was Sistani who demanded one-person, one-vote elections. So to the extent it's a victory, it's a victory for Iraqis. The Americans were maneuvered into having to go along with it," said Juan Cole, an Iraq expert at the University of Michigan.
Other analysts said recent opinion polls indicate that many Iraqis viewed the election as one way to accelerate the U.S. withdrawal rather than as a vindication of U.S. policy. "They realize that the quickest way to get the United States out of Iraq is to create a new government," said Henri Barkey, a former State Department policy planning staff member now at Lehigh University. "Not to vote would mean a continuation of the status quo. So the election is not a vindication of U.S. policy."
Oh, on the contrary it was very much a vindication of US policy. It's really simple -- no Bush, no war, no vote, no democracy in Iraq, no chance to spread this democracy outward. Based on events this weekend Muslims from Riyadh to Damascus will be asking "If Iraq, why not here?"
Barkey's point that Iraqis are using elections to speed the process of American withdraw are noted, but insignificant. It's what we want too. The acceleration of a US withdraw is vindication of US policy, and consistent with what the White House has said from day one: we'll leave Iraq when Iraq can protect and rule itself.
Middle East analysts are most concerned about how the divide among the electorate yesterday could translate into trouble when Iraqis get down to forming a government and particularly writing a constitution.
"We shouldn't get hysterical with hyperbole, we shouldn't have a 'mission accomplished' moment," said James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute and an analyst with Zogby International, a New York-based polling firm. "Our polls show that the divisions are quite deep."
He compared Iraq's election to the 1860 U.S. election, which paved the way for the Civil War after Abraham Lincoln won -- and South Carolina seceded. "This election could exacerbate the divide," Zogby said. "You can't have 20 percent of the population feel disenfranchised."
Wow, suck on those sour grapes. Did you ever think you'd see the day when liberals excused the confederacy? They betray their own core values out of hatred for Bush. They hate Bush so much they're willing to excuse Iraqi insurgents who choose violence over democracy. One cannot be "disenfranchised" if one chooses to be that.
Besides that, who is getting hysterical other than the liberal opponents of the war - or the wafflers like John Kerry? We've been hearing predictions of civil war for two years but the most consistent thing in the war has been the restraint shown by Shiites and Kurds.
[Peggy] Noonan, David Frum, and others make the argument that the Bush speechwriting team should have thrown itself in front of the oncoming train of the inaugural address. This was a familiar refrain during the 1980s, when many of Reagan’s advisors tried to stop him from calling the Soviets an evil empire, or telling the Russians to tear down that wall. Yet Natan Sharansky, in his new book The Case for Democracy, relates that it was exactly these visionary Reagan declarations that gave the Gulag-imprisoned refuseniks great hope — indeed all the oppressed peoples of the former Soviet empire great hope — that freedom-loving help was on the way.
“Let Reagan be Reagan,” was the cry of that great president’s loyal supporters. How is it that Peggy Noonan is now deciding, “Don’t let Bush be Bush”?
...Osama bin Laden and Zarqawi both know that free-election democracy is the death knell of terrorism. They also know that the potential impact of free Iraqi elections on the rest of the region — including Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia — is incalculable. The Iraqi elections will reverberate throughout the entire Muslim world, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and the whole South Asian tsunami zone.
-- Larry Kudlow
I was really disappointed by Noonan's myopic commentary about Bush's inaugural speech. Considering that she's a former Reagan speechwriter her conclusions were truly puzzling.
A couple of bloggers have noted how the NY Times changed the headline of the same story on Iraqi voters more negatively as the day progressed.
Earlier today, I commented on the somewhat positive NYT headlines here, including one that said "Amid Attacks, a Party Atmosphere on Baghdad's Closed Streets." That article was picked up by Memeorandum, which collects blog commentary on it: a lot of prominent bloggers have observed that even the NYT is acknowledging the great success. Then, I clicked on the link for the article and the headline is now:
Insurgent Attacks in Baghdad and Elsewhere Kill at Least 24
The text remains the same.
Gabe Rivera of Memeorandum emails:
FYI, here is the headline progression for this piece that my site picked up throughout the day. You might have missed the initial version, which was even more upbeat than the one you cited (the second).
09:24 High Turnout in Baghdad Points to Early Success
10:24 Amid Attacks, a Party Atmosphere on Baghdad's Closed Streets
18:26 Insurgent Attacks in Baghdad and Elsewhere Kill at Least 24
20:50 Attacks in Baghdad and Elsewhere Reportedly Kill Several Dozen
If you haven't had the opportunity make sure you read Tom Sewell's column from last week regarding media coverage of the Iraq war compared to WWII:
His point is proven by Sunday's NY Times' coverage: "One of the biggest American victories during World War II was called "the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" because American fighter pilots shot down more than 340 Japanese planes over the Mariana Islands while losing just 30 American planes. But what if our current reporting practices had been used back then? The story, as printed and broadcast, could have been: "Today, 18 American pilots were killed and five more severely wounded as the Japanese blasted more than two dozen American planes out of the sky." A steady diet of that kind of one-sided reporting and our whole war effort against Japan might have collapsed."
[Wa. Post] "I would have been happy to have died voting at the time of this explosion, because this is terrorism mixed with rudeness," said Saif Aldin Jarah, 61, a balding man with white hair who leaned on his daughter, Shyamaa, as he shuffled into the afternoon sunlight after casting his ballot.
"When terrorism becomes aimless and without a goal, it becomes rudeness," Jarah said, holding aloft a finger stained purple with indelible ink. "How could they force people not to vote?"
Mr. Jarah may not realize it but he has uttered a simple fact about the failure of this terrorism.
Carl von Clausewitz coined the truth that "War is merely the continuation of policy by other means." While terrorism is considered an illegal form of war it nonetheless seeks political objectives to be attained -- in its case a random, violent and isolated act that seeks to influence the political climate beyond that act.
Al Qaeda terrorists like Abu Zarqawi had hoped to turn the political public climate within both Iraq and American public. But instead the Iraqis, while not overjoyed by American presence, see the terrorists as the biggest intrusion.
Mr. Jarah's statement that the terrorism seems to have become mindless and aimless is a sign of al Qaeda's failure. It seems that way because that is what it has become.
Al Qaeda went for broke and lost. Zarqawi feared this long ago when he wrote in private correspondence - captured by coalition forces - the following:
"How can we fight their cousins and their sons and under what pretext after the Americans, who hold the reins of power from their rear bases, pull back? The real sons of this land will decide the matter through experience. Democracy is coming, and there will be no excuse thereafter."
How true is that now! With every passing day every terrorist attack will now be perceived by decent Muslims as an attack on a sovereign nation, not America or the West. The insurgency is a dead movement walking.
It's truly a great sign when Iraqi politicians wear the threat of assassination like a badge of honor:
January 30, 2005 -- BAGHDAD — The man replacing the mayor of Baghdad — who was assassinated for his pro-American loyalties — says he is not worried about his ties to Washington.
In fact, he'd like to erect a monument to honor President Bush in the middle of the city.
"We will build a statue for Bush," said Ali Fadel, the former provincial council chairman. "He is the symbol of freedom."
Fadel's predecessor, Ali al-Haidari, was gunned down Jan. 4 when militants opened fire on his armor-covered BMW as it traveled with a three-car convoy.
Fadel said he received numerous threats on his life as the council chairman, and expects to get many more in his new post.
"My life is cheap," Fadel said. "Everything is cheap for my country."
... "We have a lot of work and we are especially grateful to the soldiers of the U.S.A. for freeing our country of tyranny," Fadel said.
[Time] ...although the cold war is long over, Russia is fielding an army of spooks in the U.S. that is at least equal in number to the one deployed by the old, much larger Soviet Union.
Russia runs more than 100 known spies under official cover in the U.S., senior U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement officials say. And those are just the more easily spotted spies working under the classic guise of diplomat. An unknown number of so-called nocs—who work under nonofficial cover as businessmen and -women, journalists or academics—undoubtedly expand the Russian spy force. "They're baaaaack," says a former senior U.S. intelligence official who worked against Moscow during the cold war. "They're busy as hell, but I don't think we've really got what it is that they're doing."
Go see a surgeon and they'll want to cut. Put a former KGB head into the Russian presidency and he'll spy on you. It is a little worrisome however, because Russia knows we're so preoccupied with the Arab/Far East theater we don't have the time or resources to fully understand what they're up to.
Blogger Charles Johnson discovers an interesting little admission by John Kerry in his Meet The Press visit:
Well, here you go, if you can stomach another heaping helping of John F. Kerry’s by-now tiresomely predictable bellyaching and posturing; the transcript of his interview with Tim Russert on Meet the Press: MSNBC - Transcript for Jan. 30.
he magic hat makes an encore appearance:
SEN. KERRY: I still have the hat that he gave me, and I hope the guy would come out of the woodwork and say, “I’m the guy who went up with John Kerry. We delivered weapons to the Khmer Rouge on the coastline of Cambodia.” We went out of Ha Tien, which is right in Vietnam. We went north up into the border. And I have some photographs of that, and that’s what we did. So, you know, the two were jumbled together, but we were on the Cambodian border on Christmas Eve, absolutely.
Kerry delivered weapons to the Khmer Rouge? As far as I know, this is a new detail—and one that makes no sense at all. Why would the CIA be running weapons to the communist Khmer Rouge guerillas, when we were fighting communists in North Vietnam? And as several LGF readers have pointed out, the Khmer Rouge didn’t even become a real factor in Cambodia until 1970.
Did Kerry get flustered at Russert’s question and start embroidering again?
I've always thought Paul Volcker was a standup guy - as in character, not comedian - so I hope there's nothing to this:
NEW YORK — Paul Volcker , the man tapped by the United Nations to lead a probe into the troubled Oil-for-Food program, has potentially too-close-for-comfort ties to companies he's supposed to be investigating, FOX News had learned.
While few, if any, are questioning the integrity of the man heading the Independent Inquiry Committee, there is concern about his personal and professional interests that create an appearance at least of impropriety, which some on Capitol Hill say fits the definition of conflict of interest.
Volcker acted as a paid adviser — and remains an adviser — to a company that is closely linked to Total, the French oil giant that bought $1.75 billion of oil from Iraq under the Oil-for-Food program. Volcker also acted as an adviser to BNP Paribas , the French bank that is one of the focal points of the investigation.
"These revelations are troubling ... and it is absolutely imperative that Mr. Volcker ... come forward ... to allay the concerns that arise out of what appears to be a conflict of interest," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who sits on the House International Relations Committee. The panel is one of five on Capitol Hill conducting investigations of the program.
...Total received $1.75 billion worth of oil from Iraq and was also in discussions with former dictator Saddam Hussein to get contracts to develop a number of oil fields in Iraq if and when the U.N. sanctions were lifted. Those contracts would have been worth billions of dollars more.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi officials on Friday announced the capture of three leading members of the insurgent group headed by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh said that a "high-level Zarqawi lieutenant" identified as Anat Mohammed Hamat al-Kays was arrested on Friday.
Al-Kays, who is also known as Abu Alid, is a 31-year-old Iraqi who served as a military adviser and assisted in financing terrorist operations in Baghdad, Saleh said.
Earlier, Iraq's minister of state for national security announced that two leading members of al-Zarqawi's group previously had been arrested.
"The Iraqi security and intelligence services have reached a level where we are now able to capture the heads of the terrorist groups," said Qassim Dawood.
Again, it's a really, really good sign that Iraqi military forces are capturing insurgents now.
[Front Page Mag] The influential Association of Muslim Scholars still seem intent on leading a Sunni boycott of Iraq’s first real election in over half a century. It’s a bit like saying “as punishment for letting me speak, I will now shut-up.” They wish to boycott as a way of removing legitimacy from the process. What they’re forgetting is that while forced exclusion is a credible argument against an election’s legitimacy, self-imposed exclusion is not. Your right to vote doubles as your right not to vote, and opting for the latter doesn’t equal a removal of the former. The ploy is fundamentally a self-fulfilling prophecy that has been embraced by much of the press, willing to sacrifice their craft in exchange for political gamesmanship out of desperate antiwar zeal.
"We waited for this a long time. We've ached for this freedom. We want to be like the rest of the world."
[From same article above] "I am very happy," said Faruq Nabil, 24, a laborer with thick black hair and green eyes. "Since I was born, this is the first time I will go and elect the government. I want to thank Mr. George W. Bush for his efforts in making this happen."
Hey, what do you know? Finally, a major US newspaper prints some positive news from Iraq. They must have screwed up. The editor is probably being canned as you read this.
Well, naturally it's back on page 16.
Here's a little more:
"We were dreaming for this day to come," said [Adnan] Ismael, the KDP leader for Irbil's Tajil district, who darted back and forth to get a look at the scene unfolding on every side of the bus. "Now we will all choose our representatives for the future. Every Kurd wishes to see this day."
On the last official day for campaigning before Sunday's national elections, candidates and their supporters here in the Kurds' administrative capital blasted old Kurdish songs from loudspeakers at party headquarters, waved to passing cars from plastic chairs lined up on sidewalks and raced through the streets in caravans with flying banners. Unlike in many parts of Iraq, where fears of insurgent violence and doubts about the political process have muted voter enthusiasm, there was nothing tempered about the elections here, where voters will help select members of a new National Assembly, choose regional councils and pick a Kurdish parliament.
[In Iraq this weekend] There will be an election and there will be a turnout. There will be acts of violence and there will be happy voters. The images of violence will upstage the happy images. You'll have to look long and hard to see happy images on television, at least in Al Jazeera and the American media. The most explosive acts of violence will likely take place closest to where the journalists are stationed, which is why CBS is in the Sunni triangle.
-- Rush Limbaugh
Limbaugh's observations are really no different than those of any number of pundits -- the first bombing that occurs after this election and liberals from Los Angeles to New York City will denounce the effort and say it solved nothing. Those of that thought are naturally fools who forget that our country has twice held elections - in 1812 and 1864 - while difficult battles whose outcome was still uncertain raged.
The second observation is equally obvious -- the terrorists go to where are media because they know they can count on the nonstop coverage they need to demoralize the American public. Our enemy knows our predictable media well.
There's an article in the Washington Post today that will make you both sad and proud. Last Saturday the men of 2nd Platoon, C Company, 3rd Battalion of the 21st Infantry Regiment were patrolling for insurgents and helping convince Iraqi citizens to vote in this weekend's elections. The platoon's beloved leader, 1st Lt. Nainoa K. Hoe, was shot and killed by an Iraqi sniper.
2nd Platoon fought off the ambush, but were unable to save Hoe; he died to give absolute strangers those same liberties and freedoms he enjoys back home. The insurgents killed him to prevent that.
And the Michael Moore liberals call the insurgents "Minutemen." Well, they aren't one one-hundredth the man that Hoe was.
Hasn't Ted Kennedy been one of those constantly criticizing the Bush administration for troop levels in Iraq? Now here he is today calling for a withdraw. Even more galling, he's basically taking the plan the Pentagon has always had in place for that withdraw and repacking it as his creation.
Kennedy, one of the most searing critics of the war, said the conflict is being perpetuated by the continuing presence of U.S. forces and the Iraqi perception of being occupied. He laid out his five-point exit strategy, which envisions turning over the battle to the new Iraqi government chosen this weekend, possibly aided by a U.N. military contingent.
Well, timing aside, that's always been the plan. The Pentagon isn't going to cut and run this weekend as Ted suggests, but the point is that we leave when Iraq can take care of itself.
"It is time to recognize that there is only one choice: America must give Iraq back to the Iraqi people," Kennedy said in a speech at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. "We have no choice but to make the best we can of the disaster we have created in Iraq. The current course is only making the crisis worse."
Warning against a repeat of mistakes made during the Vietnam War, Kennedy proposed withdrawing 12,000 of the 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq "immediately" and the rest "as early as possible in 2006." He acknowledged that pulling out might exacerbate the fighting. "There may well be violence as we disengage militarily from Iraq and Iraq disengages from us," he said. "But there will be much more serious violence if we continue our present dangerous and reckless course."
Democracy -- reckless and dangerous. Indeed, it often is - ours sure was. But this isn't about providing stability, but liberty. If we wanted stability we could have just kept Saddam there and King George here.
I believe that Kennedy, despite his rhetoric, sees the writing on the wall. The Iraqi insurgency is not popular and their violence will not result in a political victory for them. I think Democrats know this. So they will repackage any success as failure, including the existing exit strategy.
Since day one of this war the Pentagon, Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush have said they will pull US troops out once the new Iraqi government and security forces are capable of sustaining themselves.
Even so, according to the NY Times, Bush answered yesterday that if the Iraqi government asked him to do so he would withdraw US troops:
"I've, you know, heard the voices of the people that presumably will be in a position of responsibility after these elections, although you never know," Mr. Bush said. "But it seems like most of the leadership there understands that there will be a need for coalition troops at least until Iraqis are able to fight."
He did not say who he expected would emerge victorious. But asked if, as a matter of principle, the United States would pull out of Iraq at the request of a new government, he said: "Absolutely. This is a sovereign government. They're on their feet."
Separately, Donald Rumsfeld agreed with his British counterpart, Geoff Hoon, to double the Iraqi police forces before withdrawing coalition troops. These things take time, however, and the Pentagon expects to maintain current troop levels for another two years. But nobody can dictate an exact plan for withdraw because we don't know how Iraqi security will progress, how the new Iraqi government will react, and, frankly, because such talk encourages terrorists.
Back to Kennedy. He also undercuts the argument that more troops would have automatically led to more stability. There have been definite drawbacks to our smaller sized occupation but because of that force size it has always been the insurgency seen as the greater intrusive force to the population. You don't fight an unconventional war conventionally. Because of this and because the insurgents are so reckless in choosing targets they cannot secure a political victory.
As with force size, there is also a balance to the number and time we can withdraw troops. The Pentagon has that balance in mind. Kennedy does not.
There are two more differences between Kennedy and our current plan as well.
First, to aide the Iraqis Ted Kennedy would empower UN peacekeepers who can't seem to go one African peacekeeping mission without starting a criminal child-sex ring.
And second, while any rational person would term a new, healthy and stable Iraqi government as the goal and success of this war, Kennedy calls it "disaster."
I don't know if election day in Iraq is necessarily the beginning of the end, but I do know that the only "disaster" is its existence to the insurgency.
They [Democrats] have used it [Condoleezza Rice's nomination] as a vehicle to stake out their opposition to the Iraq war. They are likely to pay a heavy political price. In this country, it is customary to allow the president to choose his own Cabinet so long as the nominee is minimally qualified. Rice is superbly qualified, and everyone concedes that. So it is mildly shocking that the Democrats mustered more votes against this nomination for secretary of state than have been cast against any since 1825.
... Indeed, secretaries of state are generally approved unanimously. This is the first nomination in a quarter-century to have earned even a single dissenting vote. It is certainly legitimate for senators to use whatever instrument they wish to make a political point. But it is not very smart.
Because of her race, her symbolism and her personal story, Rice is not a run-of-the-mill appointment but a historic one. Which makes some of the more vitriolic charges against the first African American woman ever chosen for the office once held by Thomas Jefferson particularly wounding and politically risky.
Mark Dayton of Minnesota accused her of lying in order to persuade the American people to go to war -- a charge that is not just false but that most Americans don't believe. Rice was not a generator of intelligence. She was a consumer -- of a highly defective product.
-- Charles Krauthammer
John Podhoretz from his column yesterday: "Their pessimism isn't really based in concern about Iraq's elections. It's really based in concern about the success of American policy in Iraq. Anti-Bush partisans — both Democrats and Leftist ideologues — understand that if the elections are seen as a triumph, they will be seen as Bush's triumph, and they cannot stomach it."
How right you are, John.
Behold today's reporting roundup, desperate to undercut elections in Iraq:
The media just loooooves "deadliest days".
Where's "here," you ask? Baghdad? Tikrit? Samarra? Nope, a grocery store in Detroit, Michigan. Forgive my skepticism if (I find it obnoxious, really) the Post reports on Iraqi Americans complaining about conditions in Iraq when they're cozy in the local Safeway...
Actually, they were cautious to point out that they didn't expect violence to just stop, but they didn't express caution on the "vote" or elections.
And my personal favorite...
They're exhausted! Let's just quit now! Pack it up! Written by former Clinton adviser Sidney Blumethal in the UK Guardian. Vengeful? Bringing liberty and democracy to Iraq is now "vengeful"? Expressing a vision to promote liberty and freedom in the world is now "vengeful"? The only thing "vengeful" is that Democrats like Sidney are bitter that Bush and not they are now the progressives. Mind you, Bush never said we're going to invade "Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or China" as Sidney so ridiculously concludes in his vitriol, just that the US would continually pressure liberal reform and work to end tyranny. Bush has stolen the progressive mantle from the Democrats, who are always high on rhetoric but willing to put Cuba or Sudan on the UN Human Rights Commission. They will never forgive Bush for exposing them for what they really are - lip-service progressives.
Never offering a solution or vision of their own, the world’s Blumethals, Jimmy Carters and Madeline Albrights sit back in the rafters of historical insignificance and criticize. Fine. Frankly, that's right where we want them.
Thomas Sewell must have read the same headlines I've been reading. The conclusion is both obvious and aggravating:
THERE ARE still people in the mainstream media who profess bewilderment that they are accused of being biased. But you need to look no further than reporting on the war in Iraq to see the bias staring you in the face, day after day, on the front page of The New York Times and in much of the rest of the media.
If a battle ends with Americans killing a hundred guerrillas and terrorists, while sustaining 10 fatalities, that is an American victory. But not in the mainstream media. The headline is more likely to read: "Ten More Americans Killed in Iraq."
This kind of journalism can turn victory into defeat. Kept up long enough, it can even end up with real defeat, when support for the war collapses at home and abroad.
One of the biggest American victories during World War II was called "the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" because American fighter pilots shot down more than 340 Japanese planes over the Mariana Islands while losing just 30 American planes. But what if our current reporting practices had been used back then? The story, as printed and broadcast, could have been: "Today, 18 American pilots were killed and five more severely wounded as the Japanese blasted more than two dozen American planes out of the sky." A steady diet of that kind of one-sided reporting and our whole war effort against Japan might have collapsed.
...The Fourth Estate sometimes seems more like a Fifth Column.
[Wa Post reporter Peter Baker:] Bush brushed off questions about the perceived legitimacy of the election if large numbers of the country's minority Sunni Muslims boycott the balloting.
The best retort to this came from John Podhoretz yesterday: "If white South Africans had refused to participate in that nation's first-ever free elections back in 1994, nobody on earth would have argued that their lack of participation invalidated the election results."
But Iraqi Sunnis still loyal to the old oppressive and illegitimate regime -- I guess the Left gives them a free pass.
From the same article above:
The focus on freedom [Bush's inaugural speech] represents a contrast to Bush's 2000 campaign, when Condoleezza Rice, then his adviser and now his secretary of state, wrote an article in Foreign Affairs magazine defining a Bush foreign policy as concentrated on security issues, free-trade pacts and confronting rogue states, not democracy-building around the world. Asked about the article, the signature foreign policy statement for his campaign, Bush said yesterday that he never reviewed it. "I haven't seen the article, I didn't read the article."
The 2000 campaign? It may as well been a century ago, because it's so insignificant now. Our mainstream media loves to focus on what Bush said in 2000, or how he was opposed to nation building then, as a contrast to his vision now. I'm not sure what purpose that serves, however, other than to remind readers that our media apparently has never heard of 9-11, or at most considers it just some tragic event - like a tsunami - and not the watershed moment in history it is.
Can you imagine in 1944 a reporter quipping to FDR or Truman that their policy to spread freedom ran in stark contrast to their isolationist 1940 campaign?
It's bizarre thinking, and why we can't allow their vision to lead the White House. It's just dangerous thinking. Bush and the vast majority of Americans learned the lessons of 9-11. But many have not, White House press included.
[Wa. Post] In one of several attacks against polling locations, a bomb exploded inside a school in the village of Nai, about 50 miles north of Baghdad. A guard, who refused to give his name, said, "The bomb exploded at 10:30 a.m. and it was terrible. The whole school is destroyed now."
These terrorists - we accepted the term "insurgent" way too easily, didn't we? - are what the apologists on the far Left call "Minutemen." Michael Moore wasn't alone; remember even Jimmy Carter made the American Revolution comparison.
But I don't recall Paul Revere blowing up schools, or Sam Adams trying to prevent democracy.
Great oped by Fouad Ajami
Behold these elections: they are not a prelude to civil war, as some of our sages continually warn. They are the substitute for a civil war. Indeed, the remarkable thing about the Shiites has been their restraint in the face of the terror that the remnants of the old regime and the jihadists have thrown at them. It is their leaders and their mosques and their weddings and their religious gatherings that have been the steady targets of the terror. It is their faith that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his band of killers continue to dismiss as a heresy at odds with Islam's "purity." Men are not angels. The Shiite restraint has rested on the hope that redemption shall come at the ballot box.
We needn't be afraid of a Shiite electoral victory. The scarecrow that stayed America's hand in the first Gulf War ought to be seen for what it is. There is no "sister republic" of the Iranian theocracy in Iraq's future. The religious scholars in Najaf know that theirs is a country that differs from Iran; it is a checkered country of multiple communities. The Shiite secularists know this as well. Besides, the Iranian state next door offers no panacea today, only terrible economic and cultural sterility. It has been Iraq's luck that Ayatollah Sistani was there when most needed. A jurist of deeply quietist bent who embodies Shiism's historical aversion to political redemptionism, he has reined in the passions of his community. He has held out the hope that history could be changed without large-scale violence, and without millenarianism. Grant the old man his due.
...Leave aside American liberalism's hostility to this venture and consider the multitudes of America's critics in Arab and European intellectual circles. It is they today who propagate a view of peoples and nations fit--and unfit--for democracy. It is they who speak of Iraq's "innate" violence. For their part, the men and women in Iraq--who make their way to the ballot box, past the perpetrators of terror--will be witnesses to the appeal of liberty. In their condescension, people given to dismissing these elections say that Iraq is the wrong place for a "Jeffersonian democracy." (Forgive the emptiness of that remark, for America itself is more of a Hamiltonian creation, but that is another matter.) No Jeffersonianism is needed here. A kind of wisdom has been given ordinary Iraqis--an eagerness to be rid of the culture of statues and informers and terror. It takes no literacy in the writings of Mill and Locke to know the self-respect that comes with choosing one's rulers. Though it would not be precisely accurate to speak of the "restoration" of democracy in Iraq, older Iraqis have a memory of a more merciful history. Now Iraq has to be rehabilitated. These elections--flawed, taking place alongside a raging insurgency--are part of the rehabilitation of this deeply wounded country.
DUBAI, Jan 26 (AFP) - Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi has appealed to the kidnappers of US hostage Roy Hallums to spare his life, the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera reported Wednesday.
Kadhafi urged the kidnappers to free their captive "in the name of Islam and the Arab nation, and in accordance with the principle of clemency," according to a text of his appeal obtained by Al-Jazeera.
I'd trust Kadhafi about as far as I could throw him, but having said that we could do much worse.
Besides, I don't see other world leaders, in France for example, pleading for Hallums' life. Indeed, just yesterday an Italian judge named Clementina Forleo released three Tunisians and two Moroccans charged by Italian authorities with recruiting for the Iraqi insurgency. One the same day that an Italian soldier died the ignoramus judge tossed out the charges because he considered them "guerrilla" activities normal in the time of war.
Guerrilla beheaders and bombers of Red Cross buildings... Nice. Insignificant too as all UN member nations are bound to halt the activity.
So this begs the question, who's more dangerous - an old tyrant like Kadhafi or the fifth column of the global Left?
If you owe $100,000 you are in serious debt, right? Well, that depends, of course. If your name is Bill Gates then that's your lunch money. The point, of course, is that debt is useless until it's measured against your assets. That's the point the following WSJ editorial makes in retorting this week's sky is falling forecast about the federal budget deficit estimates:
From 3.6% of GDP in the 2004 fiscal year, the deficit will fall steadily to an insignificant 0.5% of GDP in 2011, assuming continued economic growth...
Even at 38.6% of GDP in 2006, debt held by the public would remain well below the 49.4% level hit in 1993, the most recent peak year. And it would also be well below the general government debt burden in Germany (51.9% of GDP), France (42.7%) and especially spendthrift Japan (79.3%), according to statistics from Bear, Stearns & Co. Compared with other industrial nations, in short, the U.S. is in strong fiscal shape.
Bear, Stearns economist David Malpass adds the cheeky point that, despite its high debt burden, Japanese interest rates are close to zero. This would tend to refute the claim -- made so often by politicians who want to raise taxes -- that deficits cause higher interest rates. Robert Rubin, call your press agent.
[Wa. Post] Later in the day, Bush met at the White House with the 43-member Congressional Black Caucus. Members said Bush listened quietly as they went through their legislative agenda, much of which takes a dramatically different approach to social issues than envisioned by Bush. The caucus plan calls for preserving affirmative action, establishing universal health care and keeping Social Security "as a safety net" for older Americans.
"He was attentive, he was listening, I think he was engaged, but whether this will have any impact on any of his policies remains to be seen," Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said of Bush.
This is where the Congressional Black Caucus is revealed as a sham - they're looking out for liberal interests, not interests of African Americans, because if any group gets screwed from the CBC and Democrats promotion of the "safety net" of Social Security it's elderly African-Americans.
According to at least one study (Heritage Foundation) "low-income African-American males may actually pay more into the system than they will ever receive in benefits, even under the most favorable assumptions."
Because of their lower life expectancy, African-Americans are hit especially hard by the inability to include their lifetime investments in the Social Security system in their estates. Except in situations where a worker leaves behind young children or a spouse who has lower benefits, the money invested by low-income minority employees will permanently leave their family and community at the time of their death and instead benefit others with longer life spans.
With regard to disability benefits, while it is true that African-Americans and other minority groups do receive proportionately greater benefits than non-minority workers, Social Security's disability program is a separate program that is financed by its own tax and has its own trust fund. The fact that minority workers do better under Social Security's disability program does not make up for the fact that they do much worse than non-minority workers under its larger retirement income program.
[UK Independent] Global warming might be twice as catastrophic as previously thought, flooding settlements on the British coast and turning the interior into an unrecognisable tropical landscape, the world's biggest study of climate change shows.
...The new study, in the journal Nature, was done using the spare computing time of 95,000 people from 150 countries who downloaded from the internet the global climate model of the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. The program, run as a screensaver, simulated what would happen if carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere were double those of the 18th century, before the Industrial Revolution, the situation predicted by the middle of this century.
There’s an old rule in computers – GIGO, or Garbage In, Garbage Out. In this case multiply it times 95,000.
If white South Africans had refused to participate in that nation's first-ever free elections back in 1994, nobody on earth would have argued that their lack of participation invalidated the election results.
... So let's talk turkey about the dark talk emanating from the media and opinion leaders this week. Their pessimism isn't really based in concern about Iraq's elections. It's really based in concern about the success of American policy in Iraq.
Anti-Bush partisans — both Democrats and Leftist ideologues — understand that if the elections are seen as a triumph, they will be seen as Bush's triumph, and they cannot stomach it.
-- John Podhoretz
Earlier this month the Washington Post's Richard Cohen wrote, "As the late Susan Sontag bravely pointed out in a New Yorker essay published right after Sept. 11, 2001, those terrorist attacks were in response to American policy in the Middle East - not, as Bush has said repeatedly since, because Islamic radicals cannot abide freedom."
And Patrick Buchanan - allegedly on the other side of the ideological spectrum - has declared countless times, "Osama bin Laden and his crew up there in Tora Bora did not stumble on a copy of the Bill of Rights and go berserk that Americans are free in the United States."
In short, the notion that America is in a war for freedom over tyranny has elicited bipartisan snickering and guffawing. In the wake of Bush's inaugural, the chorus of complaints intensified. And understandably so, given the fact that his address was the most forceful articulation of his "freedom" vision to date.
But before the cackles could reach their crescendo, the naysayers hit an inconvenient snag. Musab al-Zarqawi, the "prince" of Al-Qaida in Iraq, appointed by Osama Bin Laden, came out and agreed with President Bush. "We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology," Zarqawi declared in a statement. "Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion," he said, and that is "against the rule of God."
You can almost hear Cohen and Buchanan snapping their pencils "Darn it, stop stepping on my message!"
Zarqawi's declaration came after a statement by Bin Laden himself in December, in which he pronounced: "Anyone who participates in these elections . has committed apostasy against Allah."
-- Jonah Goldberg
Read the rest. If you want to know why they hate us all you have to do is read or hear the words of the Jihadists - and they read and speak of it frequently.
[Washington Post] Senate Democrats delivered one of the sharpest critiques yet of the Bush administration's credibility and its handling of the Iraq war yesterday, as the Senate prepared to confirm Condoleezza Rice's nomination to be secretary of state today.
Seizing on a nine-hour debate that Republicans had hoped to avoid, several Democrats excoriated the administration's prewar claims about Iraqi weapons and its handling of the ongoing war and transition. Both parties agreed that Rice, 50, will be confirmed, but that did not stop a cross section of Democrats from questioning her truthfulness in terms that until yesterday were used only by liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
Too many Republican senators allow Bush's top aides "to get away with lying," said Sen. Mark Dayton, a Democrat who opposed the war and will face reelection next year in the swing state of Minnesota. "Lying to Congress, lying to our committees and lying to the American people. It's wrong, it's immoral." The only way to stop it, Dayton said, is to keep the administration from promoting officials "who have been instrumental in deceiving Congress and the American people, and regrettably that includes Dr. Rice."
...Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee and a critic of the war, said Rice "clearly overstated and exaggerated the intelligence concerning Iraq before the war in order to support the president's decision to initiate military action against Iraq. Since the Iraq effort has run into great difficulty, she has also attempted to revise history as to why we went into Iraq."
...Republicans also noted that Boxer -- whom Rice accused of unfairly challenging her credibility at the Foreign Relations Committee's two-day hearing last week -- recently issued a fundraising letter for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee that said Republicans "didn't count on me to ask the tough questions" of Rice. Rice spokesman Jim Wilkinson said the letter "puts to rest any doubts some may have had that this is all about politics." Confirming a secretary of state, he said, "was designed to be a constitutional duty, not a political fundraising opportunity."
Indeed, that's pathetic. National Review has posted Barbara Boxer's Internet fundraising letter in whole, which twice states "Click here to contribute to the DSCC [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] today."
You want more evidence that this is nothing but petty politics by the Democrats - it's in the very first paragraph of this article. Indeed, according to Senate Democrats Condoleezza Rice is a "liar" who cannot be trusted to serve the American public, yet these Senate Democrats are not going to block her confirmation. I mean, if Barbara Boxer and the Senate Democrats are really serious about "put[ting] the brakes on four more years of misdirection in Iraq and reckless policies at home," as her fundraising letter states, then how come Rice will be confirmed? If Rice is really this terrible person then why aren't the Democrats going to block her nomination?
Because if they tried that they would have to back up their empty attacks on Rice's character. Of course, were roles reversed the media would be accusing the Republicans of a racist attempt to block an African-American nominee.
If Rice lied to the American public about Iraq's WMD then so did a slew of Democrats, including both John Kerry and John Edwards - who both served for a time on the Senate Select Intelligence Committee and who both repeatedly stated Saddam Hussein had WMD.
Democrats and the media like to throw the "mushroom cloud" statement back in Rice's face as proof that she exaggerated or lied about Iraq's capabilities. But they ignore persons in their own party, such as co-chair for the Senate Select Intelligence Committee Sen. Jay Rockerfeller, who said the same thing.
Rockefeller, who got his information from the same CIA as did Rice, said on October 10, 2002, "There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years." Not even an administration official ever offered a timeline.
But Rockefeller's point then was no different than Rice's -- we cannot afford to adopt a "wait and see" attitude regarding Saddam Hussein's weapons program.
Yet nobody is calling Rockefeller a liar.
Using the Rice standard:
"We now know that Saddam had no nuclear weapons program, and no weapons of mass destruction of any kind."
-- Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), 1/25/05
"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
-- Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), 1/27/02
Again, the Rice standard:
"[Rice] clearly overstated and exaggerated the intelligence concerning Iraq before the war in order to support the president's decision to initiate military action against Iraq."
-- Carl Levin (D-Mich.), 1/25/05
"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them."
-- Carl Levin (D-Mich.), 9/19/02
Carl Levin was additionally an original author for the 1998 Congressional resolution to bomb Iraq in Operation Desert Fox because of Saddam Hussein's refusal to comply with UN resolutions.
Reader Jim asks:
Do you know if Jimmy Carter has any plans to monitor the elections in Iraq? I know it would be in his interest that the elections go as smoothly as possible and that the human rights abuses of the former regime are officially put to a permanent end.
Or does he only monitor elections where Communists and terrorists are suspiciously voted in (Chavez, Abbas, et. al.)?
Curious and Dubious in Jacksonville
Well, maybe Carter can star in the next Oliver Stone film.
Speaking of a favorite Carter dictator:
[Thor Halvorssen] Since assuming the presidency of Venezuela in 1999, Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez has often sympathized with global terrorism. Not only has he proclaimed his "brotherhood" with Saddam Hussein and bestowed kind words on the Taliban, but he also maintains close economic and diplomatic ties with the leaders of Iran and Libya. Moreover, President Chavez is increasingly identified with the FARC terrorists. Although the full extent of Chavez's involvement with FARC is unknown, he has been accused of everything from sympathizing with the group to providing it with weapons and monetary support. The allegations against Chavez are numerous and it is likely that some of them are either exaggerated or untrue. Even so, President Chavez's activities reveal a consistent pattern of sympathy for terrorists.
Read the whole thing.
[Reuters] Russia's nationalist lawmakers have asked the prosecutor general to ban all Jewish organizations because of their "extremist" views, in a vitriolic call ahead of this week's 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.
...The seven-page call signed by 20 members of the 450-seat State Duma lower house of parliament that included the Communist Party and nationalist groups used some of the most profane language against Jews publicly published in the post-Soviet era.
"The whole democratic world today is under the financial and political control of the Jews," said the statement.
The group was led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky and his Liberal Democratic Party.
"We would not want our Russia, which is subject to a permanent, extra-legal war seeking to prevent its rebirth, to find itself among unfree countries," the statement said.
It called on the Russian courts to ban "all Jewish religious and community groups" which the statement also described as "anti-Christian" and accused Jews of staging attacks against their own community as a provocation so they could pin blame on others.
"We would like to underline that many anti-Jewish acts around the world are staged by the Jews themselves as a provocation in order to take punitive measures against patriots," the letter said.
How do you say 'Reichstag Fire' in Russian?
"I've never understood why conservatives in principle oppose tougher fuel standards or conservation measures. Conserving energy is conservative, no? And increasing energy independence is a useful foreign policy tool, no?"
-- pundit Andrew Sullivan on his website today.
The answer is pretty simple, but the surprise is why Andrew Sullivan - a self-proclaimed conservative (but who voted for John Kerry and seems to define tax cuts as a "cost") - doesn't understand the reasons.
If we're talking conservation of energy in general that's fine, assuming one's government is not legislating curbs on energy, which is what the Green agenda really is - not conservation, but limitation. A country's health and wealth is directly related to its energy production and economic policies. Thus the Green's definition of "conservation" hurts the economy and thus you and me. Conservation must also be cost-effective; recycling often costs more, much more, and so makes little sense economically. The Greens aren't the champions of conservation so much as they are of socialism - and their guise of conservation is a way to get them there from here.
For evidence of this all one must do is look at their refusal for any compromise. Sure, we'd all like to be less dependent on Saudi oil (which is still a bit of a red herring as I'll explain in a moment). So let's drill in Alaska, or off Florida, right? Nope, Greens say. Oh, well lets go for more nuclear power, right? Sorry, Greens say no. Not even massive wind farms in New England? Nope, say Greens, it kills the birds you see.
Conservatives rightly should oppose legislated fuel standards because it's just another example of government interfering with market forces. Whether a consumer purchases a Chevy F150 that gets horrible gas mileage or a hybrid is their decision, not Uncle Sam's. Furthermore, the fact remains that heightened fuel standards kill. Better gas mileage means a lighter car means more highway deaths. Is that conservative? Only if you're a Green who sees humans as a plight - any many of them do.
Finally, let's talk about foreign oil dependence. True, we imported 1,700 barrels a day from Saudi Arabia in 2003. But we also imported about 1,550 from Mexico, 1,550 from Canada, and almost 1,200 from Venezuela. Sure, we could drop Saudi Arabia in favor of a new vendor, but all the Saudis would do is find that vendor, discount their price a little, and sell to them to sell to us. The vendor would because it would be cheaper to buy and resell the Saudi oil than sell their own. It won't really affect foreign policy.
If we're talking about replacing oil, well, let's first remember that oil is used for more than just cars and gasoline - everything plastic (polymers) was made with petroleum. So the Greens want us to un-invent the combustible engine, but do we get rid of plastics too?
Finally, as a conservative, I'm not against any independent or even government-funded study to research a green plastic or produce a sea-water car so long as they work as good, are as inexpensive, or are as practical as the varieties in place. If they're worth their weight the market forces will work - consumer demand will lower price.
Michelle Malkin has uncovered some interesting details about the plane of illegal alien Chinese forced down by Homeland Security. It seems they can be tied to a flight school which once trained a terrorist.
The co-owner of the plane, Afzal Hameed, is president of Alpha Tango Flying Services in San Antonio, which trains pilots and mechanics.
Guess who trained at Alpha Tango Flying Services--which, by the way, caters to Saudi Arabian flight students(!!!!):
Among their clients were three Arab flight students investigated by the FBI, including Al Qaeda operative Abdul Hakim Murad , who was arrested in Manila in 1995 and later convicted in New York of plotting to blow up a dozen U.S. airliners over the Pacific, then crash a suicide plane into CIA headquarters.
The FBI has been keeping tabs on Alpha Tango since Sept. 11. So, now, a plane co-owned by Alpha Tango's president, who is incommunicado, has been forced down with a planeful of Chinese illegal aliens in the wake of a terror alert involving Chinese illegal aliens.
Curiouser and curiouser.
Might mean something. More likely nothing. But if anything it should help the public stay awake regarding the flight school angle.
[Broadcasting & Cable] Ted Turner called Fox a propaganda tool of the Bush administration and indirectly compared Fox News Channel's popularity to Adolph Hitler's popular election to run Germany before World War II... While Fox may be the largest news network [and has overtaken Turner's CNN], it's not the best, Turner said. He followed up by pointing out that Adolph Hitler got the most votes when he was elected to run Germany prior to WWII. He said the network is the propaganda tool for the Bush Administration. "There's nothing wrong with that. It's certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy. Particularly when the news is dumbed down," leaving voters without critical information on politics and world events and overloaded with fluff," he said.
This coming from a guy whose CNN admitted it purposely downplayed negative reporting - that is, dumbed down - on Saddam Hussein in order to gain greater access to the vile regime.
And, boy, these Lefties never get tired of using the ridiculously beyond the pale and lazy comparison to Hitler every time they don't like something. Bush? Hitler. Fox News? Hitler. War on terror? Hitler. Scalia? Hitler. Neo-cons? Brown shirts. Yawwwwwwwn.
"It was embarrassing when President Carter fawned over the Shah of Iran and the Communist dictators of Poland, Romania and the USSR. But where are those men now, or the governments they headed?"
-- Joshua Muravchik
A few days ago Washington Post columnist EJ Dionne criticized Bush for being too idealist, and not enough the realist. Today EJ Dionne criticizes Bush for being a realist, not idealist. Dionne comments that Bush officials spun that his inauguration speech was not meant to be a policy shift (something I and others never inferred anyway) and terms this "Bush's Freedom Shuffle - he's an idealist on Thursday and a realist on Friday."
As I asked yesterday, did Harry S. Truman get this much grief?
Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another." Mind you, this was a man who owned slaves and most certainly committed aggression on their equal rights. So, was Jefferson an idealist or a realist? He was both. Jefferson understood that in his time reality was as it existed, but he had a leader's vision to know that he could in time change that reality to one more idealistic. The founders started with words and ideals and then in time transformed that to policy. But that policy and law was not applied equally in idealistic fashion. It took time. But it always starts with a vision.
Even so, our elitist snobbery of historical revisionism call our founders hypocrites and their words rhetoric. How easy it is to judge men when not wearing their shoes. Historians and pundits have that luxury. Presidents and leaders do not; they must pick and choose their battles if they are to make the world a better place. 250 years later the United States of America is a far better place than it was in 1776. But it started with a vision.
Bush wishes to export this vision of liberty to the Middle East as the founders did here, and as FDR, Truman and Cold War presidents did in Europe and the Far East. But for this the elitists eternally criticize and crucify.
Yet, in 20 years who will be credited for making Iraq, Afghanistan and possibly Palestine or another state a democracy? EJ Dionne? The NY Times editorial board? No. The people with the vision, and those who bled to make it so.
I don't mean it to be pick on Dionne day, but I have to retort what is the continuing media fabrication of "shifting rationale" for the war in Iraq.
[Dionne:] A war originally justified in the name of ridding the world of weapons of mass destruction is transformed with some well-chosen phrases into -- presto! -- an episode in the long struggle for freedom. The shifting rationale is never acknowledged.
There was no acknowledgement because there was no single rationale. WMD was certainly the primary rationale but it was never the only one and all a dutiful journalist such as Dionne would have to do is go back - as your lowly blogger can do - to past Bush speeches and find his references to humanitarian concerns, past Saddam atrocities, support for terrorism, to name a couple.
Bush: October 7, 2002:
"And these resolutions are clear. In addition to declaring and destroying all of its weapons of mass destruction, Iraq must end its support for terrorism. It must cease the persecution of its civilian population. It must stop all illicit trade outside the Oil For Food program. It must release or account for all Gulf War personnel, including an American pilot, whose fate is still unknown...
The dictator of Iraq is a student of Stalin, using murder as a tool of terror and control, within his own cabinet, within his own army, and even within his own family.
On Saddam Hussein's orders, opponents have been decapitated, wives and mothers of political opponents have been systematically raped as a method of intimidation, and political prisoners have been forced to watch their own children being tortured.
America believes that all people are entitled to hope and human rights, to the non-negotiable demands of human dignity. People everywhere prefer freedom to slavery; prosperity to squalor; self-government to the rule of terror and torture. America is a friend to the people of Iraq. Our demands are directed only at the regime that enslaves them and threatens us. When these demands are met, the first and greatest benefit will come to Iraqi men, women and children. The oppression of Kurds, Assyrians, Turkomans, Shi'a, Sunnis and others will be lifted. The long captivity of Iraq will end, and an era of new hope will begin."
Similarly, in his September 12, 2002 address before the United Nations the very first UN resolution which Bush charged Saddam with breaking did not cover WMD, but human rights! It was UNSCR 688, which, Bush summarized, "demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities -- which the Council said, threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored."
I'm certainly not trying to argue that WMD was not the primary impetus for the war, but I do argue that the many, many references by Bush to liberty and human rights are conveniently ignored by our press -- EJ Dionne included today.
Also, WMD was focused upon the most in large part because the media was usually concentrating on that “sexy” telegenic issue rather than, say, human rights concerns - a telling statement on the media itself.
Continuing my line of argument is Joshua Muravchik in the WSJ:
Those who are skeptical of injecting issues of freedom, democracy and human rights into the conduct of foreign policy call themselves "realists," and they accuse their opposite numbers--the so-called idealists--of an almost juvenile enthusiasm. But a sober reading of the historical evidence shows that President Bush and his fellow idealists are more realistic than the "realists."
To begin with, the idealists are right about the possibility for freedom and democracy to spread across borders and cultures. In 1775 there were no democracies. Then came the American Revolution and raised the number to one. Some 230 years later there are 117, accounting for 61% of the world's governments.
...Moreover, there is the factor of example and momentum: As the proportion of democracies rises, it will become harder for the remaining authoritarians to hold out. The skeptics ridicule President Bush for declaring his ultimate goal to be the end of tyranny. But today probably no more than 20% of the world's governments could rightly be called by that name, whereas once the proportion was vastly higher. Why shouldn't that 20% go the way of the others?
The skeptics continue to point to cultural differences to explain why democracy is absent from various non-Western states. But this is the true picture: In Latin America and the Caribbean, 32 out of 35 states have elected governments. In Asia and the Pacific, the ratio is 23 out of 39. In the states of the former Soviet Union and its satellites, 17 out of 27 are democratic. And in sub-Saharan Africa, 19 out of 48, or 40%, of the governments have been elected by their people, despite the familiar litany of disabilities: poverty, illiteracy, AIDS, tribalism and borders drawn artificially by former foreign rulers.
The one region completely left behind, until now, by this democratic revolution is the Middle East and North Africa, where Israel remains the only democracy among 18 states. In the wake of 9/11, President Bush concluded that it was no accident that this region where democracy was uniquely absent was the epicenter of global terrorism, and it was here that he launched his campaign for freedom, of which last week's speech was a broader statement.
Read the rest; Muravchik additionally points out that right now, despite all the petty criticism from the Left and even many on the paleoconservative right, Bush's vision is either directly transforming or at least influencing towards reform Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Retired Col. Ralph Peters expands on two important events of which I commented upon yesterday - Iraq's role in capturing a key Jihadist and Abu Zarqawi's condemnation of democracy.
January 25, 2005 -- IN just two days, Iraq took two giant steps forward. The forces of freedom in Baghdad announced the earlier bust of the al Qaeda killer behind the wave of suicide bombings. And Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the No. 1 terrorist in Iraq, told the world what he thinks.
Under pressure, men and women reveal their true character. On the run and frantic, Zarqawi offered a perfect contrast to President Bush's inauguration speech supporting global freedom: Zarqawi announced that democracy is "an evil principle."
There you have the deepest fear of oppressors everywhere. Whether dictators or assassins, they dread the free choice of free people. Terrorists know they can't win elections. Nor will many people vote to impose religious law on themselves.
The only hope the terrorists have is the tyranny of the bomb, the gun and the lash.
Even Moqtada al-Sadr, baby-faced bully of the Shi'a slums, realized that few of Iraq's Shi'as would vote for his con- game wrapped in religion. As a result, he's withdrawn his sup port for elections. The Iraqi response? Nobody cared.
Even before the elections, democracy did what the guns could not: It downed another demagogue.
Here's another point Peter's makes from his above commentary; one, assuming he's accurate, so important it needs its own post:
Indeed, while he [Zarqawi] and the other terrorists have played checkers, the Shi'a majority has been playing chess.
For example, key Shi'a religious leaders wisely agreed that Iraq's first free elections should not replicate Iran's mistake of putting mullahs atop the government. That keeps the mullahs off the blame-line, should governmental efforts falter, while still allowing reli gious leaders a voice behind the scenes (an authority that men of God enjoy from Indiana to India). It calms Western fears of a "second Iran" emerging in Iraq and so reduces the chance of a confrontation between the Coalition and the mullahs.
This isn't deviousness. It's statesmanship. We may live to be disappointed in them, but Iraq's Shi'as are confounding all the Western elitists who insist that the yokels aren't ready for democracy.
[American] private donations to the tsunami survivors - already more than $400 million - have exceeded your own government's financial aid ($350 million). In fact, at least one-third of American households say they have donated money to an aid group in tsunami-hit nations.
This outpouring of charity from individuals, as well as from religious groups and corporations, wasn't just because of the scale of nature's wrath on Dec. 26 in the Indian Ocean...
The US branch of Doctors Without Borders announced it won't take any more donations for its operations in southern Asia. It had all it could handle. Direct Relief International explained to donors that their tsunami aid money would be held in a separate bank account.
The Red Cross, among other aid groups, has worked harder to ensure that scam artists aren't asking for money in its name. Some charities say none of the donations will go for administrative costs.
That sort of accountability, openness, and human touch in helping both the donors and the disadvantaged should only encourage more giving.
Here's the lesson in all this for elected officials: Such accountability in aid and in connecting taxpayers to recipients is something governments haven't done enough, or at all.
Taxpayers gladly turn to private giving for others rather than expecting their government will provide aid - perhaps out of fear that their tax money might be ill-spent, either because of high overhead costs, badly managed projects, or corruption at some level.
Private philanthropy does have a few things to teach all governments, as well as the United Nations, which are in the business of humanitarian work.
But governments can also do more to encourage private giving.
President Bush asked two former presidents, his father, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, to lead a campaign to raise private money for tsunami relief groups. Congress has allowed taxpayers to deduct donations made to relief causes this month on their 2004 returns.
The UN, in particular, can do more to encourage private giving as well as pleading for more foreign aid from governments. Its latest report, by an advisory group of development experts, makes a strong case for rich nations to give more for poverty reduction. But it also acknowledges that much official aid goes to waste in nations with high levels of corruption and inefficiency.
It's just that sort of slippage in official aid that turns off taxpayers and turns them toward private giving.
-- Christian Science Monitor
And that's precisely the point, isn't it? Private charities are more likely to earn your trust and ensure that the money will be spent as intended. They're also not as burdened with bureaucracy and inefficiency -- two components which ensure less of your dollar goes to a recipient and more to administrative costs. Indeed, that's precisely why United Nations and Euro-accounting of charity fail - they only factor government aid, but never report the costly inefficiencies.
"We have declared a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it. Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion [and that is] against the rule of God."
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi security forces have arrested a top lieutenant of al-Qaida's leader in Iraq who was behind 75 percent car bombings in Baghdad, the prime minister's office said Monday.
Sami Mohammed Ali Said al-Jaaf, also known as Abu Omar al-Kurdi, was arrested during a raid in Baghdad on Jan. 15, a government statement said Monday. Two other militants linked to Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's terror group have also been arrested, authorities announced Monday.
Al-Jaaf was "the most lethal of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's lieutenants," the statement said.
Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi heads al-Qaida in Iraq, the terror network's local affiliate. The group is behind many of the car bombings, beheadings, assassinations and other attacks driving the insurgency in Iraq.
Al-Jaaf was responsible for 32 car bombing attacks that killed hundreds of Iraqis, the statement said.
"Abu Omar al-Kurdi claims responsibility for some of the most ruthless attacks on Iraqi police forces and police stations," said Thaer al-Naqib, spokesman for interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
The statement said the suspect "confessed to building approximately 75 percent of the car bombs used in attacks in Baghdad since March 2003," al-Naqib said.
This wasn't an American capture - it was the Iraqis capturing Iraq. The key to this entire endeavor is getting the Iraqi political system self-sufficient. So, needless to say, this capture is a good sign.
At the present moment in world history nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life. The choice is too often not a free one. One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression. The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.
I believe that it must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures. I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way. I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes...
The seeds of totalitarian regimes are nurtured by misery and want. They spread and grow in the evil soil of poverty and strife. They reach their full growth when the hope of a people for a better life has died. We must keep that hope alive. The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world -- and we shall surely endanger the welfare of our own nation.
The text above came from Harry Truman, and quickly came to be known as the Truman doctrine. It was a message of hope in a dangerous time.
So in the aftermath of Bush's inauguration speech, in which his language seemed to mirror much of the previous wording of Truman and Reagan, I have to ask - Did Harry Truman get this much grief?
The answer is, of course, no. Rather, the public and punditry both domestic and abroad applauded Truman's vision.
They did not attack Truman for a lack of realism, for Truman did often apply double standards to illiberal regimes in order to combat Communism, as Bush did and does not to combat Islamic extremism. Likewise, they did not attack Truman for practicing Real Politik while he mouthed idealism as they accuse Bush of doing.
To me, then, it's just surreal how large numbers of people, even many notable conservatives, are criticizing Bush for his inauguration speech, or condemning a speech as an unworkable or hypocritical policy.
Regarding the conservative critics, they seem to have misunderstood everything about the speech. It wasn't, by my reading, intended to be policy, and additionally one could argue that even were it so it wasn't much different than the one already in place from the previous "Bush doctrine" -- that the US distinguishes not between a terrorist organization and a state that harbors them.
Take, for example, Peggy Noonan's criticism (in what I - a Noonan fan - thought was an unusually boring, flowery and misguided commentary):
The United States, the speech said, has put the world on notice: Good governments that are just to their people are our friends, and those that are not are, essentially, not. We know the way: democracy. The president told every nondemocratic government in the world to shape up. "Success in our relations [with other governments] will require the decent treatment of their own people."
Ending tyranny in the world? Well that's an ambition, and if you're going to have an ambition it might as well be a big one. But this declaration, which is not wrong by any means, seemed to me to land somewhere between dreamy and disturbing. Tyranny is a very bad thing and quite wicked, but one doesn't expect we're going to eradicate it any time soon. Again, this is not heaven, it's earth.
Peggy makes her first mistake in a fashion similar to most critics - she confuses democracy with liberty. But there are illiberally democratic regimes (Iran) and liberally undemocratic regimes (when Hong Kong was under UK rule). Bush's speech emphasized not just democracy, but freedom and liberty. Peggy criticizes Bush by mocking "we know the way: democracy." Well, we do know the way, but that way is only termed "democracy" if one adds the word liberal before it (liberal short for liberty - the basis of our country's founding.)
Next, Peggy seems to be saying that we shouldn't even try to end tyranny. Why bother? Well, with the logic that we exist on Earth, and not heaven, why bother attempting any progressive movement? I sure am glad men named Washington, Jefferson, Adams, or Lincoln didn't have that attitude. Abraham Lincoln: "Why bother ending slavery as an institution, the whole world is doing it."
Geez, Peggy, I think you can do better than this.
People who get this war know it to be true that our past policy to fully excuse a lack of liberty in promoting stability and interests gained us nothing -- a fundamental truth of which Bush spoke in December 2003.
People who don't, well, don't.
What really galls me is the reaction of so-called Liberals. This is where we are reminded that Liberals may have stolen their moniker from the word liberty but they don't always seem to believe in that notion. Liberty for me, not for thee.
The Washington Post, for example, actually frets that Bush's inauguration speech will get a "chilly reception" in Europe. But what's more embarrassing, that Europeans have a problem with Bush wanting free nations to reward states that pursue liberal reforms or that the Washington Post is okay with that bizarre but typical European response?
Indeed! Can Bush win either way? Suppose Bush had said in his speech that the United States will no longer commit itself to spreading freedom and liberty and will simply pursue its own national interests, reformation movements be damned? Do you think these same so-called liberals might have had a problem with that?
"His importance as a world leader will turn out to be far larger than the sort of tactical issues that are widely debated and for which he is sometimes reviled," said Richard Perle, an influential former adviser to the Pentagon. "Put this in a historic perspective: He's already created profound change. All around the Middle East, they're talking about the issue of democracy. They're talking about his agenda. It's an extraordinary thing."
... The inspiration for Bush's thinking lately has been Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet political prisoner turned conservative Israeli politician. Bush read Sharansky's book "The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror" and invited him to the White House in November to talk about its ideas. Since then, Bush has been recommending the book to nearly everyone he sees, from friends to journalists to foreign leaders, telling CNN last week that "this is a book that . . . summarizes how I feel."
In the book, Sharansky outlines what he calls the "town square test," meaning that a country is not free if its citizens cannot go to a public place and express dissent from the ruling power without fear of reprisal -- a test Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice embraced during Senate testimony last week.
Before Bush the discussion of elections or freedom in the Middle East didn't even exist. We have now had them in Afghanistan and Palestine, and they're to take place in Iraq within days. It makes no sense to me, then, that anyone could argue that this is an unattainable task.
Do they hate liberty and democracy, or do they just hate the man who is at the head of the movement championing it?
We already knew that answer.
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