Monday, July 31, 2006

First of all I don't take sides for or against Hezbollah, or for or against Israel
-- Rep John Dingell (D - MI)

Well here's some assistance for Rep. Dingell, to help him choose a freakin side - Israel is a liberal constitutional democracy that guarantees freedoms like speech, press, assembly and religion. Hezbollah is an international terrorist organization that oppresses speech, the press, assembly and religion. It's backed by two illiberal dictatorships where power is held in the elite few who are loyal to the current regimes. Arabs are entitled to serve in the Israeli government and military. But there are no Jews in Hezbollah, nor does its state sponsors of Iran and Syria allow Jews to serve in their government or military. Perhaps Mr. Dingell should protest peacefully in Tehran and in Tel Aviv and see which country's police beat the tar out of him and lock him in a dungeon.

You can be critical of Israel like any other country, but at the end of the day I assure you there's a good guy and a bad guy in this conflict. The bad guys are the ones using terrorism to deny the region's citizens of those basic rights Rep. Dingell enjoys on a daily basis.

How can any American congressman be for liberty and freedom but not be against Hezbollah? If this is the consensus of the Democratic party than it has truly become morally bankrupt and is truly lost.

When Hezbollah bombed Khobar Towers in 1996 and killed 19 American servicemen was Rep. Dingell neither for nor against Hezbollah?

When it bombed a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994, murdering 85 and wounding 300 more, was Dingell neither for nor against Hezbollah?

When it bombed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, killing 29, was Dingell neither for nor against Hezbollah?

When Hezbollah tortured and murdered CIA station chief William Buckley in 1985 was Dingell neither for nor against Hezbollah?

What about when they hijacked TWA FLT 847, and murdered a US navy diver? Or when they killed 241 US soldiers in Beirut, or when they bombed the US embassy in Beirut, killing another 17 Americans? Was Dingell neither for nor against Hezbollah then?

Before Osama bin Laden there was Imad Mugnayah, head of the Lebaese Hezbollah, whose face is plastered all over our FBI's most wanted list for terrorism, murder, kidnapping, air piracy, bombing... it's obvious Dingell doesn't know that name and doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.


In the conflicts between Israel and its Arab neighbors there have been no less than four colorful lines, usually created by a United Nations resolution.

The Green Line denoted the 1949 cease-fire lines; purple was used for the 1967 Six-Day War cease-fire; red for the original cease-fire in Lebanon, and then the Blue Line, created by the UN in 2000, as a Secretary General report stated it, "to inform the [UN Security] Council that Israel has met the requirements defined in my [Kofi Annan's] report of 22 May," and " confirm that Israeli forces have withdrawn from Lebanon in compliance with [UN Security Council] resolution 425 (1978)."

Shortly afterward, Hezbollah and its supporters announced that they would not recognize the UN Blue Line. For them, Israel was still occupying "their" land, and Hezbollah would be free to fire rockets into Israel.

And that they did. Let it be known that the current war between Israel and Hezbollah did not begin with the July 12 murdering of eight Israeli soldiers and abduction of another two.

Those calling for a more "proportional" response by Israel, and who have absolved Lebanon's government of all responsibility, have deliberate amnesia. For Israel the July kidnapping of its soldiers was the final straw after a year or more of escalating provocation.

Last August, Hezbollah for the first time hit Israeli soil with an Iranian Fajr-3 rocket, which reportedly “marked an extended range version of the Soviet-origin Katyusha.” Though concerned over what seemed to be a performance probe, Israel did not respond.

Then, Hezbollah upped the ante and attacked Israeli soldiers at the Lebanese-Israeli border in November 2005. Israel responded proportionately. In February of this year Hezbollah fired 30 mortars into Israel, which again responded proportionately. In May, Hezbollah launched more rockets into Israel, and again Israel responded proportionately.

After a time, one supposes, Israel decided that proportion was getting them nowhere. Since neither Lebanon nor the UN Security Council was going to stop Hezbollah, Israel would.

Lebanon now plays the victim card, as though a sovereign state gets a free pass in assisting the removal from its very land a terrorist organization provoking war with its neighbor.

This year alone the UN Security Council passed no less than five toothless resolutions (1655, 1664, 1680, 1685, 1686) filled with the usual phrases to "strongly encourage" Syrian cooperation, express “grave concern,” and "reiterate" the need to disband and disarm all Lebanese militia groups (UNSCR 1559) and to – my favorite – "remain seized of the matter."

That brings us to today, with Lebanese officials echoing Hezbollah's demand that Israel leave Shebaa Farms – just south of that Blue Line, which Israel vacated in 2000 to appease the international community even though it removed its buffer from rocket attacks.

It should be additionally noted that little serious data validates Shebaa Farms as Lebanese territory. The UN refutes the Lebanese claim, citing a multitude of maps and reminding the Lebanese that they had agreed to two 1978 resolutions that established the Lebanese-Israeli border.

But it’s likely irrelevant. Can anyone with a straight face suggest that were Israel to vacate Shebaa Farms – and they probably will in time – Hezbollah would without coercion give up their arms and become a strictly political party?

Yet... in a skyscraper office in Manhattan a council of UN-Euro bureaucrats are “seized of the matter” and debating the next appropriate line color which they think – this time – will forge peace: Orange Line? No, orange will just enrage the Shiites! What does the Koran say of mauve?

Funny thing about peace though - it presupposes that all sides want it.

Hezbollah and its state sponsors of Syria and Iran have made it clear they do not want peace. Israel could agree to Hezbollah's prisoner swap, and withdraw from Shebaa Farms, but the founding fathers of terrorism within these illiberal regimes would always find another pretext to attack.

But don't take my word for it.

To the late Ted Koppel of ABC News, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah plainly stated, “There is no legal and legitimate state called Israel,” adding, “Palestine is an occupied land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, and this is the right of the entire Palestinian people, this land.”

The leaders of Syria and Iran are neither coy in their stated goals regarding Israel, nor are they to shy in to practice religious bigotry.

“Its [Israel's] democracy stems from this characteristic [Jewish faith],” Syrian President Bashir Assad asserted in 2003. “It is not a democracy based on the state's boundaries. Therefore, it is inconceivable that Israel will become a legitimate state even if the peace process is implemented, because its structure deviates from the region's norm, and maybe from the whole world…”

Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has used even heavier rhetoric, repeatedly calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map” of the Middle East, and promising that, “very soon, the stain of this disgrace [Israel] will be purged from the center of the Islamic world.”

Shebaa Farms or Tel Aviv – they're all the same to Hezbollah and its masters in Damascus and Tehran. From the river to the sea, these regimes in their current form have no intention of letting Israel achieve a peaceful existence with its neighbors and they will continue to use the Palestinians and Lebanese as (often) willing pawns in a war by proxy.


[Haaretz Daily] There is an unexplained gap of about seven hours between the one Israeli air strike that hit the Qana building housing the civilians, which took place around 1 A.M. Sunday, and the first report that the building had collapsed, said the chief of staff of the Israel Air Force, Brigadier General Amir Eshel. Speaking at a press conference at the Kirya military complex in Tel Aviv last night, Eshel said that of three Israeli air strikes on Qana early Sunday, only the first strike hit the building in which the civilians were staying. The other two hit areas at least 400 meters away.

"I can't say whether the house collapsed at 12 A.M. or at 8 A.M.," said Eshel. "According to foreign press reports, and this is one of the reports we are relying on, the house collapsed at 8 A.M. We do not have testimony regarding the time of the collapse. If the house collapsed at 12 A.M., it is difficult for me to believe that they waited eight hours to evacuate it."

Jenin, you'll recall was the name of the village in the West Bank attacked by Israel in 2002 in response to it being used as a cowardly stronghold for the al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade. First termed by the reactionary hypocritical and one-sided international community as a "massacre" - where hundreds had allegedly died - it was later discovered that 52 Palestinians had died - 30 of them militant fighters making war with Israel. Israel lost 23.

It's likely that the number of Lebanese who died at Qana this weekend did indeed die, and those numbers may (or may not) be accurate. But the point remains that the only reason they died is because - like the al Aqsa in Jenin - Hezbollah hides and fights amongst the civilian population in order to increase noncombatant deaths.

The Sunday Herald Sun has published some pictures of Hezbollah doing just that:

THIS is the picture that damns Hezbollah. It is one of several, smuggled from behind Lebanon's battle lines, showing that Hezbollah is waging war amid suburbia.

The images, obtained exclusively by the Sunday Herald Sun, show Hezbollah using high-density residential areas as launch pads for rockets and heavy-calibre weapons.

Dressed in civilian clothing so they can quickly disappear, the militants carrying automatic assault rifles and ride in on trucks mounted with cannon.

The photographs, from the Christian area of Wadi Chahrour in the east of Beirut, were taken by a visiting journalist and smuggled out by a friend...

The images include one of a group of men and youths preparing to fire an anti-aircraft gun metres from an apartment block with sheets hanging out on a balcony to dry.

Others show a militant with AK47 rifle guarding no-go zones after Israeli blitzes.

Another depicts the remnants of a Hezbollah Katyusha rocket in the middle of a residential block blown up in an Israeli air attack.

The Melbourne man who smuggled the shots out of Beirut and did not wish to be named said he was less than 400m from the block when it was obliterated.

"Hezbollah came in to launch their rockets, then within minutes the area was blasted by Israeli jets," he said.

"Until the Hezbollah fighters arrived, it had not been touched by the Israelis. Then it was totally devastated.

"It was carnage. Two innocent people died in that incident, but it was so lucky it was not more."

The release of the images comes as Hezbollah faces criticism for allegedly using innocent civilians as "human shields".

Mr Egeland blasted Hezbollah as "cowards" for operating among civilians.

"When I was in Lebanon, in the Hezbollah heartland, I said Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending in among women and children," he said.



The greatest failure of our leaders, with rare exceptions, is their refusal to see the war plain, which means Iran and Syria (might as well call them "Syran," since they operate in tandem, with Tehran pushing most of the buttons). It was never possible to "win in Iraq" so long as we insisted on fighting in Iraq alone. You can not win a regional war by playing defense in one country. It was, and remains, a sucker’s game. Syran pays no price at all for killing our kids and our allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now in Gaza and Lebanon/Israel.

Syran reasonably concluded that there was no price to pay for killing us, and so they predictably expanded the scope of the war. Our leaders do not see this whole; they see each component as a separate issue. They see that Hezbollah is an Iranian entity. They see Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers at work in Lebanon and Iraq. They know the best weapons in the war come through Syran and in many cases are manufactured by Syran. Any logical person has to conclude that you cannot win this war without defeating Syran.

-- Michael Ledeen, NRO.



[Associated Press]The prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay during the war on terror have attacked their military guards hundreds of times, turning broken toilet parts, utensils, radios and even a bloody lizard tail into makeshift weapons, Pentagon reports say.

Incident reports reviewed by The Associated Press indicate Military Police guards are routinely head-butted, spat upon and doused by "cocktails" of feces, urine, vomit and sperm collected in meal cups by the prisoners.

They've been repeatedly grabbed, punched or assaulted by prisoners who reach through the small "bean holes" used to deliver food and blankets through cell doors, the reports say. Serious assaults requiring medical attention, however, are rare, the reports indicate.

The detainee "reached under the face mask of an IRF (Initial Reaction Force) team member's helmet and scratched his face, attempting to gouge his eyes," states a May 27, 2005, report on an effort to remove a recalcitrant prisoner from his cell.

"The IRF team member received scratches to his face and eye socket area," the report said.

...Guards currently stationed at Guantanamo describe a tense atmosphere in which prisoners often orchestrate violence in hopes of unnerving their captors, especially with attacks using bodily fluids.

"I mean, seeing a human being act that way, it's terrifying. ... You are constantly watching before you take your next step to see if something is about to happen," Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Mack D. Keen told AP in an interview from Guantanamo.

"You see little signs. They kind of show their hand every once in a while. They'll take their Quran and they'll cover it up," he said. "When you see a group of detainees taking their Quran and putting it away, you know something is about to happen."

I say again, kill them in combat.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Israel Gives US Timeline for Assault on Al Qaeda, Official Says

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Afghanistan - Israel has given United States military forces between 10 and 14 days to finish dealing al Qaeda "a strategic blow," a senior US official told FOX News, as both US forces and al Qaeda guerrillas continued to volley rockets across the Afghanistan frontier.

Yeah, I messed with it -- Swap Israel with the US, and replace Afghanistan with Lebanon.

One begins to understand the ridiculous hypocrisy of the Western nations demand that Israel conform to an exception that no other Western nation would conform to in defense of their country.

Imagine if the Ku Klux Klan won about 20 or so seats in the Texan government, and then further imagine if that Klan's military faction began lobbing rockets into Mexico and that the US government claimed it was powerless to stop the attacks against Mexico. Imagine further that Canada was supplying the Klan with cash and weapons, and both the US and Canada, sitting on the Security Council, supported only actions punitive to Mexico, which they considered to be a legitimate state. And so Mexico responds with force and the entire world squeals "unfair" and Israel gives Mexico 10-14 days to finish.

You get the picture.



Mahmoud Komati, deputy chief of Hezbollah's political arm, also told The Associated Press in an interview that his group will not lay down arms.

"The truth is _ let me say this clearly _ we didn't even expect (this) response.... that (Israel) would exploit this operation for this big war against us," said Komati.

He said Hezbollah had expected "the usual, limited response" from Israel to the July 12 cross-border raid, in which three Israelis were killed.

Pity party for Hezbollah... 1, 2, 3, Waaaaaaaaaah!

Boy, to me this statement says so much, especially when joined with statements from the international community deriding Israel for its "disproportionate" response - i.e., actually, you know, trying to win! Imagine that!

You see, to the Euro-UN it says that they don't feel that terrorist organizations are something one should try to defeat - Heaven forbid! - rather something that should just be managed.

So, you know, America can respond, but can't actually invade a country and change its rulers, and the UK and Israel can respond, but only in a tit-for-tat way which helps the masters of moral equivalence in the media breathlessly misinterpret a sovereign and democratic nation's defense as a "cycle of violence." In fact, they're so successful at this that even terrorist groups have come to expect this as the norm, as the Hezbollah speakers response shows.

Easy for the Euro-UNocrats to say, of course, since they haven't had their 9-11... yet.



Last week famed hawkish liberal Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz made the "disproportionate" proponents look stupid and silly.

This week The Dershmeister elaborates, and the following paragraph is a beauty:

Part of the goal of organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas is to gain moral legitimacy for their terrorist tactics by having them equated with the conventional military tactics used by democratic regimes. Only the morally obtuse--or perverse--cannot recognize the difference between a terrorist group that targets civilian population centers with anti-personnel weapons designed to maximize civilian casualties and a democracy that seeks to prevent terrorism by employing smart bombs designed to minimize civilian casualties.
I think this goes hand-in-hand with what I've said in the past about the folly of applying Geneva Conventions to terrorists and how by doing so we'll ensure a world in which terrorism becomes the accepted norm instead of the illegal exception it's supposed to be.

The UN -- who, in Dershman's words, "goes to great pains to suggest equal fault and moral equivalence between the rockets of Hezbollah and Hamas that specifically target innocent civilians and the self-defense efforts by Israel, which tries desperately, though not always successfully, to avoid causing civilian casualties" -- risks forcing Israel to more and more adapt the tactics of terrorists. Indeed, the UN, by punishing those who fight within the rules of war the same as those who don't, risks ensuring that all nations adopt terrorism as the norm.

Why? Because it's easier, for one thing. Determining civilian from militant that takes time, money, effort and can put soldiers' lives in further danger. Israel, if pushed into a corner, may just say "screw it" and carpet bomb Lebanon and Palestine. Then, my friends, you'll know the definition of disproportionate response.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I agree with Andy McCarthy - where the hell is the Bush Doctrine?

After September 11 the official policy of the United States became the following: "The United States will make no concessions to terrorist demands and strike no deals with them.We make no distinction between terrorists and those who knowingly harbor or provide aid to them."

Hezbollah is the grand-daddy of terrorism. It's founders, including master terrorists such as Imad Mughniyeh, helped al Qaeda become al Qaeda. The 9-11 Commission linked al Qaeda to Hezbollah and Iran, including via the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 Americans. Hezbollah was suspected of hiding 9-11 mastermind Khalid Mohammed and terrorists like Saif al-Adel crossed over between Hezbollah and al Qaeda. Hezbollah was recently running operations in both Canada and the US. Yet, we and the West are silent.

Meanwhile, Iran is much more the state sponsor of Hezbollah than the Taliban was for al Qaeda (which it certainly was). Likewise Syria physically harbors Hezbollah.

Lebanese officials do have one good point - it's not entirely fair to hold Lebanon accountable for its inability to eject Hezbollah when the West is not willing to serve repercussions to Hezbollah's state sponsors!

But, I do not acknowledge the full pardon many pundits seem to give the Lebanese - sure, Israel's bombings are hurting the pro-democracy infrastructure of Lebanon's Cedar Revolution. Should Israel win they will have an obligation to help rebuild Lebanese infrastructure in the manner the US rebuild Japan and Germany.

But at any time the Lebanese could unite with Israel to help rid their country of Hezbollah. They choose not to do so. They choose the part of the helpless victim. One supposes their hatred of Jews and Israel is stronger than their desire to be truly free. They have instead chosen to be Vichy Lebanon - "What can we do about it? We're occupied!" How can one sypathize with a people who are not willing to fight for their own freedom?

Israel doesn't want Lebanon, but you can bet your ass that Iran, Syria and Hezbollah do.

Yet, were the US to truly back Israel, and offer support for threats to Hezbollah's masters in Damascus and Tehran, the Lebanese democracy might survive, and Iran and Syria just might feel afraid for the first time in a long time.

But that's all a pipe dream.

Unlike Teddy Roosevelt, these days we seem to speak softly and carry a small stick.

Worse, there's reason to think that Iran viewed the Bush administration's Europeanesque offer for concessions in exchange for halting its nuclear program as proof positive that America wouldn't have the stomach to stop Iran from letting Hezbollah off its leash.

McCarthy expands:

Well, the news service Iran Focus reports on the substance of the proposal made to Iran by the State Department in conjunction with its "partners" China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany. As detailed, it can only be regarded as crushing for those who took the Bush Doctrine seriously.

... The only thing not on the table here [in the list of concessions to Iran] is terrorism. That, after all, might upset the Iranians. Mustn’t do that. So basically, it’s: Here are valuable concessions we’ll give you if you’ll just tell us you’re going to stop trying to build nukes and let the ever-dependable IAEA police the arrangement. On Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Hamas, and the Iraqi insurgency: No action required.

Of course, the underlying logic of the Bush Doctrine was that rewarding terrorists and their rogue state benefactors with negotiations and concessions inevitably encourages more of their barbarism. Firmness is the only language they understand. As top terror recipients of Iran’s largesse wage war with Israel, it’s worth asking whether we’ve forgotten that.

I never thought I'd be saying it but it seems like Bush is loosing his will.



Kudos to famed Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz for being a liberal who gets it.

Dershowitz today published a commentary in the Wall Street Journal that underscores the foolish and dangerous moral equivalency of those who demand Israel's military attacks on Hezbollah be "proportional" or not heavy handed.

While he subtlety touches the subject without debating it one also gets the feeling that Dershowitz would find the notion of applying Geneva Conventions to those who do not abide by the Geneva Conventions themselves - for it legitimizes terrorism.

This is all well and good for democratic nations that deliberately locate their military bases away from civilian population centers. Israel has its air force, nuclear facilities and large army bases in locations as remote as anything can be in that country. It is possible for an enemy to attack Israeli military targets without inflicting "collateral damage" on its civilian population. Hezbollah and Hamas, by contrast, deliberately operate military wings out of densely populated areas. They launch antipersonnel missiles with ball-bearing shrapnel, designed by Syria and Iran to maximize civilian casualties, and then hide from retaliation by living among civilians. If Israel decides not to go after them for fear of harming civilians, the terrorists win by continuing to have free rein in attacking civilians with rockets. If Israel does attack, and causes civilian casualties, the terrorists win a propaganda victory: The international community pounces on Israel for its "disproportionate" response. This chorus of condemnation actually encourages the terrorists to operate from civilian areas.

While Israel does everything reasonable to minimize civilian casualties -- not always with success -- Hezbollah and Hamas want to maximize civilian casualties on both sides. Islamic terrorists, a diplomat commented years ago, "have mastered the harsh arithmetic of pain. . . . Palestinian casualties play in their favor and Israeli casualties play in their favor." These are groups that send children to die as suicide bombers, sometimes without the child knowing that he is being sacrificed. Two years ago, an 11-year-old was paid to take a parcel through Israeli security. Unbeknownst to him, it contained a bomb that was to be detonated remotely. (Fortunately the plot was foiled.)

This misuse of civilians as shields and swords requires a reassessment of the laws of war. The distinction between combatants and civilians -- easy when combatants were uniformed members of armies that fought on battlefields distant from civilian centers -- is more difficult in the present context. Now, there is a continuum of "civilian": Near the most civilian end of this continuum are the pure innocents -- babies, hostages and others completely uninvolved; at the more combatant end are civilians who willingly harbor terrorists, provide material resources and serve as human shields; in the middle are those who support the terrorists politically, or spiritually.

The laws of war and the rules of morality must adapt to these realities. An analogy to domestic criminal law is instructive: A bank robber who takes a teller hostage and fires at police from behind his human shield is guilty of murder if they, in an effort to stop the robber from shooting, accidentally kill the hostage. The same should be true of terrorists who use civilians as shields from behind whom they fire their rockets. The terrorists must be held legally and morally responsible for the deaths of the civilians, even if the direct physical cause was an Israeli rocket aimed at those targeting Israeli citizens.

Israel must be allowed to finish the fight that Hamas and Hezbollah started, even if that means civilian casualties in Gaza and Lebanon. A democracy is entitled to prefer the lives of its own innocents over the lives of the civilians of an aggressor, especially if the latter group contains many who are complicit in terrorism. Israel will -- and should -- take every precaution to minimize civilian casualties on the other side. On July 16, Hasan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah, announced there will be new "surprises," and the Aska Martyrs Brigade said that it had developed chemical and biological weapons that could be added to its rockets. Should Israel not be allowed to pre-empt their use?

Israel left Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005. These are not "occupied" territories. Yet they serve as launching pads for attacks on Israeli civilians. Occupation does not cause terrorism, then, but terrorism seems to cause occupation. If Israel is not to reoccupy to prevent terrorism, the Lebanese government and the Palestinian Authority must ensure that these regions cease to be terrorist safe havens.

And until they do Israel has every right to do what they are unable or unwilling to do.



The second explanation is that Hezbollah, like many of its terrorist counterparts, has learned the benefits of hiding itself in civilian areas so that any military defeat can be spun into a public relations victory. Israel is forced to inflict collateral damage and, sure as shinola, some French editorial cartoonist depicts the Israelis as Nazis.

Hezbollah’s "brave" soldiers might as well strap babies to their torsos as shields. Morally, what they’re doing is no different and, who knows, it might give them a p.r. boost. Regardless, while Israel goes to great lengths to minimize civilian casualties, it cannot be held hostage to such tactics. Hezbollah’s headquarters cannot get a free pass.

As it stands now, a loose coalition of propagandists, Israel haters, and idiots argues that Israel is deliberately targeting civilians in Lebanon. I believe - and hope - this is not true. Of course, Hezbollah is randomly targeting victims in Israel with its missiles. But Israel must have something larger in mind.

... By all accounts, Hezbollah possesses thousands of missiles, some of which can penetrate deep into Israel. And, oh yeah, its entire reason for being is to see that glorious day when Israel is wiped off the map. In other words, the strategic imperative is obvious, legitimate and pressing. Meanwhile, all a cease-fire will do is put off the inevitable, muddy the waters and give Hezbollah an escape hatch while it’s on the ropes.

If Israel agrees to a cease-fire, the story so far will have frozen in place. And what does that story look like? It looks like a tale of Israel bombing civilian targets as an end in itself. It looks like the sort of "collective punishment" that Israel’s critics routinely decry. It looks like an attack on a struggling democratic government in a beleaguered yet heroic Lebanon in order to punish terrorists only nominally under the Lebanese government’s control. Stop now and Hezbollah not only will have been left substantially intact, but perhaps even politically strengthened, not necessarily among the Lebanese, but certainly in the region as a whole.

Israel’s bombing campaign, unlike Hezbollah’s, must have a larger goal than mere terror and bloodshed. I’m certain that it does. But if the situation freezes under the current circumstances, Israel’s larger goal won’t be apparent to much of the world. It will seem like a hugely disproportionate response in which Israel killed hundreds of civilians in order to get back two kidnapped soldiers. And Hezbollah will still be there, ready to dance for any coin Syria or Iran puts in its jukebox, threatening Israel and strangling Lebanon’s democratic hopes.

Hezbollah can only be destroyed by a ground campaign. If Israel doesn’t launch one, it will be worse off, laughter will echo in Damascus and Tehran, Lebanon will have been dealt an unjust and cruel blow for nothing, and we’ll all be back here again in the near future.

-- Jonah Goldberg



Everyone agrees it [eradicating Hezbollah from Lebanon] must be done. But who to do it? No one. The Lebanese are too weak. The Europeans don't invade anyone. After its bitter experience of 20 years ago, the United States has a Lebanon allergy. And Israel could not act out of the blue because it would immediately have been branded the aggressor and forced to retreat.

Hence the golden, unprecedented opportunity. Hezbollah makes a fatal mistake. It crosses the U.N.-delineated international frontier to attack Israel, kill soldiers and take hostages. This aggression is so naked that even Russia joins in the Group of Eight summit communique blaming Hezbollah for the violence and calling for the restoration of Lebanese sovereignty in the south.

But only one country has the capacity to do the job. That is Israel, now recognized by the world as forced into this fight by Hezbollah's aggression.

The road to a solution is therefore clear: Israel liberates south Lebanon and gives it back to the Lebanese.

-- Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post

Krauthammer's summation is spot on, but it presupposes that Lebanon - once Israel exterminates Hezbollah or at least weakens them to the point of criticality - is capable or is even willing to play the part of the perpetual resistance to Iranian and Syrian strong arming and religious extremism. If Lebanon is too weak to defend themselves from Hezbollah now, will they be able to later? Or would they just coddle up to the Syrians once again.

You see, to some governments, even those governments who aren't necessarily religious based, such as in Qatar or Egypt, Israel represents a crutch they can use to oppose their own democratic reforms and curb the anger of their own people. It's far easier for them to allow Israel to bear the burden of extremist hatred. Extremism, if not aimed at Israel, will simply shift to these somewhat secular Arab regimes. Lebanon certainly learned this lesson last year when despite all their pro-democratic progress and cosmetic victories (Syrian withdrawal) they nonetheless lost important leaders and human capital to the bombs of Hezbollah. A year later they were powerless - or rather, unwilling - to stop Hezbollah from inciting the Israelis into targeting their lands.

Yes, Israel is the only willing hunter to stop Hezbollah. But it's certainly no guarantee - should the collective community stop short - that whatever regional victories we achieve against terrorism will be only short term.

That's better than the alternative.

But the bottom line remains: To truly end Hezbollah you must regime change in Iran and Syria.



Hezbollah is not some small, ragged band scattered around Lebanon. It is a huge terrorist structure, built over decades, that includes thousands of men, weapons, positions, offices and everything that enables it to control southern Lebanon. Israel is now destroying that infrastructure. A cease-fire would benefit Hezbollah and threaten Israel. It would protect both Hezbollah and the nations that support it--Syria and Iran--as well as the Lebanese who have accepted the terrorist organization as a legitimate part of their government. A cease-fire would allow Hezbollah to rebuild its power base and enable it to resume its attacks whenever Damascus and Tehran desired. For Israel, a U.N. force would create no security whatever against future attacks.
-- Jeb Babbin


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

United States to Israel: you have one more week to blast Hizbullah

Ewen MacAskill, Simon Tisdall and Patrick Wintour
Wednesday July 19, 2006

The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources... "It's clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another week," a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged conflict could spin out of control.

...George Bush last night said that he suspected Syria was trying to reassert its influence in Lebanon. Speaking in Washington, he said: "It's in our interest for Syria to stay out of Lebanon and for this government in Lebanon to succeed and survive. The root cause of the problem is Hizbullah and that problem needs to be addressed."

Tony Blair yesterday swung behind the US position that Israel need not end the bombing until Hizbullah hands over captured prisoners and ends its rocket attacks. During a Commons statement, he resisted backbench demands that he call for a ceasefire.

Echoing the US position, he told MPs: "Of course we all want violence to stop and stop immediately, but we recognise the only realistic way to achieve such a ceasefire is to address the underlying reasons why this violence has broken out."

So the US and Great Britain have a right to defend themselves but not Israel..? Could you imagine a world power saying to the US after 9-11 that it had just one more week to inflict maximum damage on the Taliban in Afghanistan, but then after that we'd have to stop?


How does one "overplay their hand" - as critics are saying of Israel's actions - when killing terrorists? Especially when today Syria was caught trying to smuggle weapons into Hezbollahs hands in Lebanon? If Syria and Iran can use proxy terrorists to kill Israelis, why is Israel on the clock?

Why should Israel be asked to moderate their force? And what's the point of pulling punches in war? That will just elongate war. We didn't defeat the fascist Japanese Empire and Nazi Germany by conducting tit-for-tat strikes, but rather by putting a tank side by side and driving forward, and dropping bombs on Dresden, Berlin, Tokyo until there was a maximum amount of damage and carnage. That's how you win wars.

Or, is the West admitting to its own detriment that terrorism will just be something to manage, to cope, to live with?



The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself.
-- Richard Cohen, Washington Post

Gosh, where to begin. I'm flabberghasted, really.

Well, let's see.

1) I'm sure Islamic extremists from Damascus to Tikrit will be happy to know that Washington Post liberals agree with them that Israel is "a mistake." Having long ago convinced Europe and the United Nations of this, if extremists can one day convince Americans of the same Israel will have no more allies.

2) How kind of Mr. Cohen to at least acknowledge that Muslim hatred of Israel has a racist core, but Israel is far more than just a nation of "European Jews." Indeed, Israel could be a nation of Arabs and it would still pose a threat - albeit not as insulting to the extremists - because Israel happens to be the only liberally constitutional democracy in the region. (Does Cohen consider liberal democracy in the Mideast likewise "a mistake" too?)

One need only recall that 18 months ago Hezbollah was murdering pro-democratic Lebanese leaders (peaked with the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri) to understand that freedoms of religion, assembly and speech are the greatest threats to Islamic extremists.

For some reason jerks like Cohen never take the extremists at their word, despite their oft repeated grievances against liberal democracy. One such example was noted by WSJ contributor Amir Taheri's 2003 column. "Secularist democracy," as al Qaeda's Abu Muhammad once termed it, is "far more dangerous to Islam" than any previous form of government because of its "seductive capacities." Muhammed (aka Yussuf al-Ayyeri) wrote that Western democracy would "make Muslims love this world, forget the next world, and abandon Jihad." Why? Presumably because people who are educated, have a political voice and the freedom to pursue their own earthly dreams will not detonate themselves for Allah. Al Qaeda leaders frequently state these notions yet the Cohens of the world have us believe that if only Israel would just go away - or relocate to New Zealand - all would be wonderful in the world.

But Israel isn't the cause of Islamic hatred - rather it's one of the only things currently fighting its spread. Take away Israel and the promoters of extremist religious fascism are that much closer to the West. The threat won't then subside. It will embolden them.

3) Leave it to a liberal to site a notion or idea - in this case "history" - as the biggest threat to mankind. For Cohen a concept - history - is the problem, most certainly not the nutjobs gunning down innocent market goers or detonating themselves at bus stops.

4) The land Israel sits atop is no more "Arab" land than it is Chinese land. The very name "Palestine" is not Arab in nature, but was termed such by the Roman Empire. The land was then owned by the Ottoman Empire (Turks, not Arabs), until the British took it after Ottoman surrender at the end of World War One. It is disingenuous to further promote Israel as a stealer or "occupier" of Arab land.



Maybe it’s too easy to take shots at the celebrities who, almost daily, are guilty of saying and doing stupid things. But in this case the sin is so grave that a response is necessary. I speak of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s latest project, a movie based on the memoir A Mighty Heart by Marianne Pearl, the widow of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Angelina is going to play Marianne, while Brad is making insulting proclamations about how important the film is going to be. To wit, last week Pitt characterized the goal of the film thusly: "We hope the film can increase understanding between people of all faiths and portray the story and the people involved as honestly as possible without anger or judgment."

Just to clarify: Daniel Pearl was a young investigative journalist writing for the Wall Street Journal from Pakistan, who in 2002 was lured to an interview, kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalists, bound, beaten, terrorized and finally beheaded - all with cameras rolling. In the last moments before Daniel Pearl was brutally decapitated, his killers demanded that he identify himself. Not as an American, not as an infidel, not as a journalist. He was forced to define himself one way and one way only - as a Jew - and then his head was removed from his body. There are tapes of this gruesome scene - and they're going cheap.

Nevertheless, along comes the great do-gooder-duo known as Brangelina to really give us an education. We are now supposed to spend $10 at the local Cineplex so we can see through filtered lens how to "understand" the killers. We are supposed to watch the people who ended Daniel Pearl’s life "without anger or judgment."

Newsflash for Pitt: We know what happened to Daniel Pearl. A group of murderous, hate-filled barbarians targeted Daniel Pearl and killed him because he was a Jew. You’re probably a bad candidate for an expert in the Pearl killing if you don’t get that already.

No one needs a movie to understand evil. Besides, the film about Daniel Pearl was already shot - by the terrorists.

-- Abby Wisse Schachter


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bush the Unilateral, Bush the multilateral? Well, which is it?

[Michael Hirsh, Foreign Affairs Magazine, October 2002] For someone of the president’s Manichaean sense of right and wrong and powerful religious faith - not to mention unilateralist instincts - the Bush doctrine came naturally (indeed, a senior adviser says Bush wrote the language himself)... Bush once said by way of explaining his blunt unilateralism. "My job is to say what I think. I think moral clarity is important." ... But Bush, to judge by his actions, appears to believe in a kind of unilateral civilization... One State Department careerist complains that the unilateralist ideologues who dominate the administration have outright contempt for Europe’s consensus-based community.
And on and on. Indeed, Mike Hirsh uses the word "unilateral" a whopping 26 times in that Foreign Affairs essay.

So, he'd be happy then that Bush, four years later, in a multilateral fashion, is engaging with Europe to halt Iranian nuclear ambitions or bestowing Geneva protections to unlawful combatants, right?


[Michael Hirsh, Newsweek, July 12, 2006] Burned by his bitter Iraq experience, Bush is eschewing leadership and hiding behind the skirts of multilateralism... Now, in his second term it has swung dramatically back toward the most squeamish sort of multilateralism - the kind of thinking that says, "Without partners, I don't dare make a move." ... Burned by his bitter Iraq experience, Bush is hiding behind the skirts of multilateralism as an excuse for not grappling with these problems personally. In all three cases, that might mean negotiating directly with regimes he abhors: Tehran, Pyongyang and the Hamas-run government in the Palestinian territories. It would mean a bit more cowboy diplomacy, taking the bull by the horns, as it were, and finding a way out on his own, like Gary Cooper in "High Noon."
Something tells me that, like most liberals, Mike Hirsh wouldn't be happy no matter what Bush does. He could raise taxes, sieze corporate property for environmentalists, and force the RNC to give all their campaign treasury to AIDS, but Mike Hirsh would denounce Bush for not enough... something.

Hirsh in 2002: Too much cowboy!

Hirsh in 2006: More cowboy!

Why's Bush even bother? If there's one thing you'd think all Republicans would have learned by now its that they'll never, ever, no matter how much outreaching or coddling they do, get these people to like them.

Mike Hirsh exposes himself as just another obstructionist; just another angry liberal; just another guy with no solutions himself, well, other than his flip-flopping criticism. Were he running for office he'd be called "John Kerry."



A brilliant column by former Lt. Col. Ralph Peters.

July 10, 2006 -- THE British military defines experience as the ability to recognize a mistake the second time you make it. By that standard, we should be very experienced in dealing with captured terrorists, since we've made the same mistake again and again.

Violent Islamist extremists must be killed on the battlefield. Only in the rarest cases should they be taken prisoner. Few have serious intelligence value. And, once captured, there's no way to dispose of them.

Killing terrorists during a conflict isn't barbaric or immoral - or even illegal. We've imposed rules upon ourselves that have no historical or judicial precedent. We haven't been stymied by others, but by ourselves.

The oft-cited, seldom-read Geneva and Hague Conventions define legal combatants as those who visibly identify themselves by wearing uniforms or distinguishing insignia (the latter provision covers honorable partisans - but no badges or armbands, no protection). Those who wear civilian clothes to ambush soldiers or collect intelligence are assassins and spies - beyond the pale of law.

Traditionally, those who masquerade as civilians in order to kill legal combatants have been executed promptly, without trial. Severity, not sloppy leftist pandering, kept warfare within some decent bounds at least part of the time. But we have reached a point at which the rules apply only to us, while our enemies are permitted unrestricted freedom.

The present situation encourages our enemies to behave wantonly, while crippling our attempts to deal with terror.

Consider today's norm: A terrorist in civilian clothes can explode an IED, killing and maiming American troops or innocent civilians, then demand humane treatment if captured - and the media will step in as his champion. A disguised insurgent can shoot his rockets, throw his grenades, empty his magazines, kill and wound our troops, then, out of ammo, raise his hands and demand three hots and a cot while he invents tales of abuse.

Conferring unprecedented legal status upon these murderous transnational outlaws is unnecessary, unwise and ultimately suicidal. It exalts monsters. And it provides the anti-American pack with living vermin to anoint as victims, if not heroes.

Isn't it time we gave our critics what they're asking for? Let's solve the "unjust" imprisonment problem, once and for all. No more Guantanamos! Every terrorist mission should be a suicide mission. With our help.

We need to clarify the rules of conflict. But integrity and courage have fled Washington. Nobody will state bluntly that we're in a fight for our lives, that war is hell, and that we must do what it takes to win.

Our enemies will remind us of what's necessary, though. When we've been punished horribly enough, we'll come to our senses and do what must be done.

This isn't an argument for a murderous rampage, but its opposite. We must kill our enemies with discrimination. But we do need to kill them. A corpse is a corpse: The media's rage dissipates with the stench. But an imprisoned terrorist is a strategic liability.

Nor should we ever mistreat captured soldiers or insurgents who adhere to standing conventions. On the contrary, we should enforce policies that encourage our enemies to identify themselves according to the laws of war. Ambiguity works to their advantage, never to ours.

Our policy toward terrorists and insurgents in civilian clothing should be straightforward and public: Surrender before firing a shot or taking hostile action toward our troops, and we'll regard you as a legal prisoner. But once you've pulled a trigger, thrown a grenade or detonated a bomb, you will be killed. On the battlefield and on the spot.

Isn't that common sense? It also happens to conform to the traditional conduct of war between civilized nations. Ignorant of history, we've talked ourselves into folly.

And by the way: How have the terrorists treated the uniformed American soldiers they've captured? According to the Geneva Convention?

Sadly, even our military has been infected by political correctness. Some of my former peers will wring their hands and babble about "winning hearts and minds." But we'll never win the hearts and minds of terrorists. And if we hope to win the minds, if not the hearts, of foreign populations, we must be willing to kill the violent, lawless fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population determined to terrorize the rest.

Ravaged societies crave and need strict order. Soft policies may appear to work in the short term, but they fail overwhelmingly in the longer term. Wherever we've tried sweetness and light in Iraq, it has only worked as long as our troops were present - after which the terrorists returned and slaughtered the beneficiaries of our good intentions. If you wish to defend the many, you must be willing to kill the few.

For now, we're stuck with a situation in which the hardcore terrorists in Guantanamo are "innocent victims" even to our fair-weather allies. In Iraq, our troops capture bomb-makers only to learn they've been dumped back on the block.

It is not humane to spare fanatical murderers. It is not humane to play into our enemy's hands. And it is not humane to endanger our troops out of political correctness.

Instead of worrying over trumped-up atrocities in Iraq (the media give credence to any claim made by terrorists), we should stop apologizing and take a stand. That means firm rules for the battlefield, not Gumby-speak intended to please critics who'll never be satisfied by anything America does.

The ultimate act of humanity in the War on Terror is to win. To do so, we must kill our enemies wherever we encounter them. He who commits an act of terror forfeits every right he once possessed.



When Israel, via statements by public security minister Avi Dichter, was toying with the idea of exchanging prisoners with Hamas I meant to post at the time what a very bad idea that would be. It's one of the oldest rules of kidnapping - don't pay the ransom because that will just entice the kidnappers to either ask for more money or kidnap more people for ransom.

Israel backed down a few days later but one must wonder if the damage was already done. Here it is five days after the initial hint of exchange and now Hezbollah has also gotten into the act by taking hostage two Israeli soldiers.

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said Wednesday evening that a prisoner exchange was the only way to secure the release of the soldiers, who he said were being held in a "secure and remote" location.

"No military operation will return them," Nasrallah told a news conference in Beirut. "The prisoners will not be returned except through one way: indirect negotiations and a trade."

Israel calls the surprise Hezbollah snatch and attach - which also killed eight Israeli soldiers - an act of war. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert didn't just single out the terrorist groups, but their financial backers:

"It is an act of war by the state of Lebanon," Mr Olmert said of Hezbollah's action. "Israel must act with appropriate severity in response to this attack and it will do so," the Israeli Cabinet said. "Israel will respond in a forthright and severe manner against the perpetrators responsible and will act to prevent future efforts and actions directed against Israel."
You better believe it is. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah, nor their financial and territorial backers in Iran and Syria, recognize the existence of Israel.

So why now? The strategy is obvious. A few weeks ago Palestinians were busy fighting amongst themselves - literally, with daily gun battles between Hamas and the dethroned rival faction Fatah.

It also distracts everyone from Iran, which has been so brazen over nuclear aims that even France is losing its patience - yes, that same France that never misses an opportunity to coddle any dictator. (Of course, not that the French would ever have the balls to actually do anything about it. And even if they did join UK-American desires for action the Chinese and Russians would be there to thwart any meaningful action.)



[National Review] In an interview with NRO, former September 11 Commission co-chairman Thomas Kean, who was briefed on the terrorist-finance tracking program and asked Times executive editor Bill Keller not to disclose it, called it "a good program, one that was legal, one that was not violating anybody’s civil liberties, and something the U.S. government should be doing to make us safer." When asked whether publication of details about the program did any damage, Kean answered, "I think it’s over. Terrorists read the newspapers. Once the program became known, then obviously the terrorists were not going to use these methods any more." And by the way, the other co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, Democrat Lee Hamilton, also asked the Times not to publish.

We know that some commentators - including, paradoxically, Keller himself, who played the story on the Times's front page - have suggested that the revelation was no big deal because terrorists already knew the U.S. was tracking their financial transactions. So why did the paper top its story with the headline "Bank Data Sifted in Secret by U.S. to Block Terror"? And beyond the headline, why did the article refer to information about the program as "secret" or "classified" not once, not twice, not thrice, but ten times?

And, as our David Frum has pointed out, far from revealing the vague outline of the program, the Times disclosed such key details as: American investigators have a hard time tracking ATM transactions in the U.S.; they can’t track wire transfers in real time; and the United Arab Emirates is cooperating with the program. All good stuff to know - if you want to evade U.S. scrutiny.

The Times had the right and will always have the right to publish. But that doesn't mean it should. They made a horrible ethical stumble - and not the first at that in leaking information that assists the very people trying to kill American, and NY, citizens - and their hubris is telling.

In short National Review demands the Justice Department investigate the source of the leak to the NY Times with the same vigor it investigated the leak of Valerie Plame (which, by the way, has to date gone nowhere, not become the 'Contraesque' scandal Democrats prognosticated, and was victimless in that Plame's name was apparently already public, and she was not a covert agent in any event).



July 12, 2006 - Mikhail Gorbachev is generally regarded as the man who broke down the "iron curtain" that separated the communist world from the West and thawed the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Actually, that'd be Ronald Reagan, but nice try ABC.

The former general secretary of the Soviet Union Communist Party accused Americans of arrogance and trying to impose their way of life on other nations.

"Americans have a severe disease - worse than AIDS. It's called the winner's complex," he said. "You want an American style-democracy here. That will not work."

Funny comment, eh? What is "American style-democracy"? Why it's nothing more than liberal constitutional republicanism. That's liberal, as in individual liberty trumping state; constitutional, or a document that bestows certain powers to the federal, state and local governments, usually providing checks and balances; and republicanism, or representative democracy (and not majority rule). Why the hell won't that work in Russia? It seems to work everywhere else in the west, albeit with slight variations.

Well, you know what else won't work in Russia, Gorby? Communism. But you wouldn't be suffering from disgruntled romanticist socialist loser's complex, would you Gorby?



[WSJ] The same crowd that said the tax cuts wouldn't work, and predicted fiscal doom, are now harrumphing that the revenues reflect a windfall for "the rich." We suppose that's right if by rich they mean the millions of Americans moving into higher tax brackets because their paychecks are increasing.

Individual income tax payments are up 14.1% this year, and "nonwithheld" individual tax payments (reflecting capital gains, among other things) are up 20%. Because of the tax cuts, the still highly progressive U.S. tax code is soaking the rich. Since when do liberals object to a windfall for the government?


Monday, July 10, 2006

Tack on George Bush's name behind Calvin Coolidge, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. Each of these men understood the dynamics of economics and national wealth. The Laffer Curve is no more theory than gravity - taxes, increases and decreases, affect economic behavior. Tax cuts create incentives to spend and invest. They grow the economy. They grow the tax base. These tax cutters created decades of productivity and encouraged business. They are the chief reason for our 13 trillion dollar economy and why our unemployment rate has averaged an amazing 5.6 percent since 1948.

Coolidge's treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, worded it this way: "The history of taxation shows that taxes which are inherently excessive are not paid. The high rates inevitably put pressure upon the taxpayer to withdraw his capital from productive business." Coolidge himself added, "the wise and correct course to follow in taxation and all other economic legislation is not to destroy those who have already secured success but to create conditions under which every one will have a better chance to be successful."

Just as important, each of these tax cuts saw tax revenues (receipts) increase, not decrease as the doomsdayers inaccurately predicted. In the 1920's pro-growth policies, tax receipts grew by 61 percent. From Kennedy's cuts, 33 percent and 28 percent from Reagan's (both factored for inflation). Here's the latest news:

[Wash. Times] Tax revenues are going up at twice the rate the administration predicted in February, with most of the surge coming from corporate income taxes and taxes paid on capital gains and bonuses. On Friday, the Congressional Budget Office reported corporations paid taxes of $250 billion in the nine months ending June 30, more than 25 percent above what was paid in the same period last year.
"A rising tide lifts all boats," as tax-cutter John Kennedy once said.



Noemie Emery draws some interesting parallels between George Bush's lofty (but necessary and, I believe, achievable) vision for defeating Islamic extremists to Harry Truman's vision for defeating communists. Truman's incredibly low public approval rating (a shabby 23 percent) is almost inexplicable considering 50 years later he's considered a great president by Democrats and Republicans both (and frankly more by the latter).

Here's a few lines that got my attention:

At the time he left office in January 1953, so toxic that most of his party had shunned him, no one could imagine that Harry S. Truman, common-man heir to a great wartime president, would one day be claimed by both major parties, each of them longing to be just like him.

...The war that Truman expected to have been clean and quick stretched into a long, hard slog with no exit plan visible. The public turned on the war, and on Truman, whose approval ratings bottomed out at 23 percent near the end of his tenure. His presidency was widely assumed to have been a debacle. In 1952, he was shunned by his chosen successor. His country was eager to show him the door.

What, one wonders, would today's liberal hawks have made of him and Korea, given their penchant for neat, well-planned wars that end quickly, and their standard of zero mistakes? Would they have screamed for the scalp of Acheson? Ripped Truman to shreds for having gone in too rashly? Flayed him alive for undoubted misjudgments? Said (as did John Kerry and some "pro-war" Democrats) that while they supported the invasion in theory, they had never expected Harry Truman "to f-- it up as badly as he did"? If they quail at the expense of Iraq, what would they have said to the expense of Korea? If they quail at casualties of under 3,000, what would they have said to the more than 37,000 dead? Would they have been among the 23 percent who stayed loyal to Harry? Or would there have been second thoughts, mea culpas, and abject, not to say groveling, apologies to the antiwar left?

Curious too, as Emery points out, that liberals rarely mention Truman's (and FDR's) merciless execution of combat during the Second World War - well before Nagasaki and Hiroshima there were unrelenting fire bombings upon Tokyo and Dresden. But, of course, for modern liberals different rules apply depending upon the party in the executive.



Here's your Homeland Security confidence booster of the day: a Middle Eastern man can lie to luggage screeners, and then board a plane with hollowed out shoes and bomb components, yet the FBI calls it a "non-event"? "It's just agencies talking with each other"? Oh, ho hum, nothing to see here...

Man allowed to board aircraft appeared to have bomb components

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

Houston police and the federal Transportation Security Administration disagree over who is responsible for allowing a man with what appeared to be bomb components board an aircraft at Hobby Airport last week.

Although the FBI eventually cleared the man of wrongdoing, police officials have transferred the officer involved and are investigating the incident while insisting that the TSA, not police, has the authority to keep a suspicious person from boarding a flight.

"Our job is not to be the gatekeepers," police Capt. Dwayne Ready said. "That burden falls squarely on the airline and TSA to make that final decision.

"We are looking at our role in the situation to make sure our policies were adhered to," he said. "During follow-up, we are finding that there simply was not a material threat."

TSA spokeswoman Andrea McCauley said screeners have the authority to stop people from going beyond the checkpoint to the boarding areas, but they rely heavily on local police.

"It's just agencies talking with each other," Ready said, downplaying the disagreement.

McCauley and Ready would not comment about the June 26 incident, but a confidential TSA report obtained by the Houston Chronicle details a dispute between screeners and a police officer on duty at the airport.

The report states that a man with a Middle Eastern name and a ticket for a Delta Airlines flight to Atlanta shook his head when screeners asked if he had a laptop computer in his baggage, but an X-ray machine operator detected a laptop.

A search of the man's baggage revealed a clock with a 9-volt battery taped to it and a copy of the Quran, the report said. A screener examined the man's shoes and determined that the "entire soles of both shoes were gutted out."

No explosive material was detected, the report states. A police officer was summoned and questioned the man, examined his identification, shoes and the clock, then cleared him for travel, according to the report.

A TSA screener disagreed with the officer, saying "the shoes had been tampered with and there were all the components of (a bomb) except the explosive itself," the report says.

The officer retorted, "I thought y'all were trained in this stuff," TSA officials reported.

The report says the TSA screener notified Delta Airlines and talked again with the officer, who said he had been unable to check the passenger's criminal background because of computer problems.

The incident gained enough attention at higher levels of the TSA that the FBI was asked to investigate. The TSA issued a statement saying its screeners "acted in accordance with their training and protocols."

FBI Special Agent Stephen Emmett in Atlanta said agents there investigated the passenger.

"It was looked at and deemed a non-event," Emmett said, declining to give further details.

Meanwhile the officer involved in the dispute, J.O. Reece, has been transferred to a desk job, "the same place they send officers who are relieved of duty," said Chad Hoffman, attorney for the Houston Police Officers Union.

Hoffman said Reece doesn't understand why he was transferred "when it seems clear from the onset of the investigation that he didn't have probable cause to detain anybody and that his actions were consistent with the law and HPD policy."

Just five years later and everyone seems to have forgotten that terrorists don't just do - they train and practice before executing their plans.

Some memorable quotes from the 9-11 Commission report:

Page 521, Footnotes (#60): "[Hamdan al] Shalawi was involved in a widely publicized incident in November 1999, when he and his friend Muhammed al Qudhaieen were detained because the crew of a cross-country America West flight reported that Qudhaieen had attempted to open the cockpit door on two occasions. FBI letterhead memorandum, Hamed al Sulami, July 25, 2002, p. 7. After the 9/11 attacks, FBI agents in Phoenix considered whether the incident was a "dry run" for the attacks.

Chapter 8: "This incident is an example of how day-to-day gaps in information sharing can emerge even when there is mutual goodwill... It is now clear that everyone involved was confused about the rules governing the sharing and use of information gathered in intelligence channels."

Chapter 10: "The government's ability to collect intelligence inside the United States, and the sharing of such information between the intelligence and law enforcement communities, was not a priority before 9/11."

I thought everyone had learned these lessons by now: dry runs + lack of intragovernmental cooperation and security = dead Americans.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

It is truly ironic that Bush can appoint two conservative judges yet nonetheless lose an important battle in the war against the war on terror - as the Left seems to be waging. It may turn out that the new Kennedy-swing vote court is far more dangerous than the Sandy O'Conner one. O'Conner, for all her moderate faults, did always seem to side with the conservatives on matters of war.

Last week it was Justice Kennedy, in a 5-to-3 ruling (John Roberts recused himself due to taking part in the case as a lower court judge), pushed the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the former driver of Osama bin Laden captured in Afghanistan, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, saying that the US executive branch overstepped its authority in ordering military tribunals, as are currently written, for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The justices made the administration's choices clear: It can prosecute the enemy prisoners under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which effectively requires proceedings akin to a court-martial. Or it can persuade Congress to adopt a different legal regime for them. Making its own rules outside congressional authority was illegal, the justices found... Still, the ruling cast doubt over another widely disputed legal claim the administration has made -- that the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which forbid "humiliating and degrading treatment," do not protect prisoners held at Guantanamo. While the administration contended that the treaty's enforcement was a matter between governments, the court read the conventions as a codification of the laws of war that Congress had incorporated into American military law. Attorneys contesting the broader policies of detention and interrogation at Guantanamo are likely to seize on yesterday's opinion.
Tribunals are illegal for Bush, but were not illegal for FDR..? I'm calling B.S. Besides, Bush did do just that. In any event, it's the here and now, and perhaps a fair criticism should be levied against Bush for not ordering the tribunals right after September 11, but almost a year after the war in Afghanistan.

The far more dangerous problem is that the Hamden decision opens a door in which future presidents might be forced to provide Geneva Protections to members of al Qaeda and other unlawful terrorist groups. Contrary to what Leftists claim they want, it could create a world in which terrorism as a form of war becomes the recognized norm instead of the unlawful exception.

The Supreme Court is ruling is dangerous both technically and practically.

First, on technical merit, the Geneva Conventions are a treaty signed by nations. Al Qaeda is not a nation, and so therefore the Supreme Court is asking that the US adhere to a treaty with al Qaeda with no way to force al Qaeda to abide by that same treaty! It's preposterous!

Next, and more importantly, are the practical concerns. It's harder to fight fair. It's more dangerous for a lawful combatant (a soldier of a nation, or lawful militia) to do those things the Geneva Conventions demand lawful soldiers do in order to receive its protections: that is, carry their arms openly, wear a uniform or other recognizable insignia to announce their presence, follow a chain of command and control, and otherwise fight in accordance to the rules of war.

Terrorists do the opposite of these things. It's much easier to be a terrorist. It's easier to hide bombs within civilian clothing or vehicles, or wear no uniform but hide the gun beneath.It's easier to follow no formal command and of course far easier to purposely target civilians, including children, the elderly and women.

Yet, the Leftists on the Supreme Court would have the terrorist protected with the same document that protects the lawful soldier.

So, what happens generations from now? What is the gain in fighting fair? There won't be. Thus, with the incentive to fight fair removed, slowly the lawful soldier will begin to adopt unlawful tactics of the terrorist.

The liberals of this country may yet attain the exact opposite of what they seek - a world in which terrorism is the acceptable norm.



The decision is actually a huge political gift to President Bush, and the detainees will not be released that easily. The President and GOP leaders will propose a bill to override the decision and keep the terrorists in jail until they are securely transferred to host countries for permanent punishment. The Administration and its allies will release plenty of information on the terrorist acts committed by the detainees for which they were detained. They will also release information about those terrorist acts committed by Gitmo prisoners after they were released. They will challenge the "judicial interference with national security" and challenge dissenting Congressmen and civil libertarians to either stand with the terrorists or the American people. The Pentagon will continue to release a small number of detainees as circumstances allow. The bill will pass easily and quickly. And if the Supremes invalidate that law, we'll see another legislative response, and another, until they get it right. Just watch.
-- Andrew Cochran
Mr. Cochran has a little more faith in the spine of Congressional Republicans then I do. That is, even if Bush is up to the fight I don't think the Republican Congress will be, even though - and Cochran's right - it's the best thing to do. It's offense instead of defense; and it's an argument I believe most Americans would agree with.

But, Congress doesn't control declassification of information - Bush and the Pentagon and CIA do. I don't see them doing that just to score political points. They'd rather al Qaeda not know what they know.

Still, there's probably some relative good that could come out of this - Most importantly, it does tend to force Democrats to take a stand on an issue they'd rather ride the fence on. More "I voted for the tribunals before I voted against it" and so on.

My prediction: Democrats may give the president the authority for tribunals he wants, but will filibuster any attempt by Republicans until after the elections, because while they want a Democratic president to have such power, they don't want their most radical Leftist voters to know that.



Take no prisoners. Kill the terrorists in combat. No detainees = no need to worry about humane treatment, or Guantanamo, or CIA contracts with allied governments being exposed, or Amnesty International weenies portraying the US as terrorists, or so on.



It works like this: The media gets to reveal anything it wants for any reason it sees fit in the name of "the people’s right to know." But when the people, in their common sense, object to the disclosure of secret programs they expected their government to be conducting all along, the cognoscenti immediately ridicule the people for their ignorance. And when politicians or pundits echo the same concerns, the press immediately circles the wagons, declaring in its coverage and commentary that any such criticism is out of bounds, even un-American. It seems that for many of these people, free speech is a lot like government secrecy. Both are only legitimate when the New York Times says so.
-- Jonah Goldberg



As Alexander Bickel wrote, the relationship between government and the press in the free society is an inevitable and essential contest. The government needs a certain amount of secrecy to function, especially on national security, and the press in its watchdog role tries to discover what it can. The government can't expect total secrecy, Bickel writes, "but the game similarly calls on the press to consider the responsibilities that its position implies. Not everything is fit to print." The obligation of the press is to take the government seriously when it makes a request not to publish. Is the motive mainly political? How important are the national security concerns? And how do those concerns balance against the public's right to know?

The problem with the Times is that millions of Americans no longer believe that its editors would make those calculations in anything close to good faith. We certainly don't. On issue after issue, it has become clear that the Times believes the U.S. is not really at war, and in any case the Bush Administration lacks the legitimacy to wage it.

So, for example, it promulgates a double standard on "leaks," deploring them in the case of Valerie Plame and demanding a special counsel when the leaker was presumably someone in the White House and the journalist a conservative columnist. But then it hails as heroic and public-spirited the leak to the Times itself that revealed the National Security Agency's al Qaeda wiretaps.

Mr. Keller's open letter explaining his decision to expose the Treasury program all but admits that he did so because he doesn't agree with, or believe, the Bush Administration. "Since September 11, 2001, our government has launched broad and secret anti-terror monitoring programs without seeking authorizing legislation and without fully briefing the Congress," he writes, and "some officials who have been involved in these programs have spoken to the Times about their discomfort over the legality of the government's actions and over the adequacy of oversight." Since the Treasury story broke, as it happens, no one but Congressman Ed Markey and a few cranks have even objected to the program, much less claimed illegality.

Perhaps Mr. Keller has been listening to his boss, Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who in a recent commencement address apologized to the graduates because his generation "had seen the horrors and futility of war and smelled the stench of corruption in government.

"Our children, we vowed, would never know that. So, well, sorry. It wasn't supposed to be this way," the publisher continued. "You weren't supposed to be graduating into an America fighting a misbegotten war in a foreign land. You weren't supposed to be graduating into a world where we are still fighting for fundamental human rights," and so on. Forgive us if we conclude that a newspaper led by someone who speaks this way to college seniors has as a major goal not winning the war on terror but obstructing it.
-- The editors of the Wall Street Journal calling the NY Times what it is - treasonous.



Speaking of the Leftist media's attempt to undermine the war on terror, USA Today eats a huge serving of crow:

On May 11, USA TODAY reported that the National Security Agency, with the cooperation of several of America's leading telecommunications companies, had compiled a database of domestic phone call records in an effort to monitor terrorist activity.

Several days later, BellSouth and Verizon specifically denied that they were among the companies that had contracted with the NSA to provide bulk calling records.

The denial was unexpected. USA TODAY had spoken with BellSouth and Verizon for several weeks about the substance of the report. The day before the article was published, the reporter read the sections of the article concerning BellSouth and Verizon to representatives of the companies and asked for a denial before publication.

At the time, BellSouth did not deny participation in the program, but it issued a statement saying the company "does not provide any confidential customer information to the NSA or any government agency without proper legal authority." Verizon said that it would not comment on national security matters and that it acts "in full compliance with the law" and with respect for customers' privacy.

On May 15, BellSouth said it could not categorically deny participation in the program until it had conducted a detailed investigation. BellSouth said that internal review concluded that the company did not contract with the NSA or turn over calling records.

USA TODAY continued to pursue details of the database, speaking with dozens of sources in the telecommunications, intelligence and legislative communities, including interviews with members of Congress who have been briefed by senior intelligence officials on the domestic calls program.

In the adjoining article, USA TODAY reports that five members of the congressional intelligence committees said they had been told in secret briefings that BellSouth did not turn over call records to the NSA, three lawmakers said they had been told that Verizon had not participated in the NSA database, and four said that Verizon's subsidiary MCI did turn over records to the NSA.

USA TODAY also spoke again with the sources who had originally provided information about the scope and contents of the domestic calls database. All said the published report accurately reflected their knowledge and understanding of the NSA program, but none could document a contractual relationship between BellSouth or Verizon and the NSA, or that the companies turned over bulk calling records to the NSA.

Based on its reporting after the May 11 article, USA TODAY has now concluded that while the NSA has built a massive domestic calls record database involving the domestic call records of telecommunications companies, the newspaper cannot confirm that BellSouth or Verizon contracted with the NSA to provide bulk calling records to that database.

USA TODAY will continue to report on the contents and scope of the database as part of its ongoing coverage of national security and domestic surveillance.

In other words, the program, which was never illegal anyway, wasn't anywhere near the "privacy breach" that USA originally claimed. Call it USA Today's version of "Fake but accurate." All the major telecomm companies USA Today identified tell USA Today they're full of crap, yet USA Today still promises to, you know, get to the bottom of this. They know there's scandal there somewhere... and even if they're isn't they'll keep digging until there is. In the meantime they'll tip off all of America's enemies on how to evade protection and kill us.



[AFP] US 'flag epidemic' reaches peak on Fourth of July
July 05 4:43 AM US/Eastern

It's a true epidemic: the red, white and blue, stars-and-stripes banners are everywhere in the United States - on house facades, front lawns, cars and clothes.

Hitting an high point on the July 4 US Independence Day holiday, it is a genuine phenomenon of American national pride that, inevitably, gets a good but also sometimes unwanted boost from commercial exploitation.

"It's a little strange, this obsession of the flag," French author Bernard-Henri Levy wrote after traveling across the country.

"Everywhere, in every form, flapping in the wind or on stickers, an epidemic of flags that has spread throughout the city," Levy wrote in "American Vertigo" of the riot of banners he saw.

Oh, woe is them... I think it's a fascinating comment in of itself that French authors and news services (AFP is a French wire) are so puzzled by America's natural and proud patriotism.

Sure, I'll agree that even patriotic Americans are lax when it comes to abiding by the laws of flag care, but I'll gladly accept that drawback so long as the average American understands that patriotism and the things our flag represents were purchased by the blood of heroes.


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