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My, what a difference a couple of years make.

It was two summers ago that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited Washington and addressed a joint session of Congress.

Except there were quite a few empty seats in the Chamber when the Prime Minister rose to speak. That’s because Democrats were boycotting Maliki’s historic appearance according to some, because he was an American “puppet” and not the head of an independent country.

That was then, this is now.

Yesterday, Maliki told German news magazine Der Speigel that he supported Barack Obama’s 16 month timetable for withdrawal of American troops. A corrected statement put out later by the PM’s office delinked Maliki’s statement from Obama’s specific call for a timetable but his meaning was clear. Maliki said that those advocating a withdrawal where Americans come out “sooner rather than later” are being more “realistic.

So, we’re going. But why are the Democrats making such a huge deal out of Maliki’s statements? They are giddy with joy over the fact that Maliki is acting like the independent head of a sovereign country when just two years ago they were saying exactly the opposite.

Which is it? Is Maliki a puppet or is he independent? Obviously, when Maliki isn’t doing what Democrats want he is a puppet. When his ideas reflect their thinking, he isn’t.

Wow, what sophistication. Such nuance.


Then let’s remember that the Democrats have been calling for withdrawal even when doing so would have been a catastrophic setback for Iraqi security. They were calling for a withdrawl even when doing so would have meant a humiliating defeat for the US as we would have abandoned the field of battle to the enemy while under fire. They were calling for a withdrawal even when doing so meant that thousands – perhaps tens of thousands of Iraqis would have been butchered in unrestrained sectarian violence. They were calling for a withdrawal even when al-Qaeda was at the heighth of its power in Iraq, controlling wide swaths of the country and was poised – once we left – to make a bid for carving out an independent duchy that would have given them shelter and protection to mount operations worldwide. They were calling for a withdrawal even when Shia militias were roaming the streets murdering innocent Sunnis while the poorly trained and corrupt Iraqi police and army looked on and did nothing.

They were calling for a withdrawal even as President Bush changed our counter-insurgency strategy and put General Petreaus in charge of a surge in US troop numbers – a surge every major Democrat including their nominee for president screamed at the top of their voices would be an utter, total, and complete failure. They were calling for a withdrawal even when the surge began to work and violence was dropping. They called for a withdrawal even when they called Petreaus a liar to his face and that he was “cooking the books” on the falloff in violence in Iraq. They were calling for a withdrawal – and saying the war in Iraq was “lost” or a “failure” – as late as the beginning of this year. They were calling for a withdrawal even as the Iraqi government slowly and painfully began to move toward political reconciliation, denigrating these efforts as “too little too late” while predicting that once the extra troops associated with the surge went home, the violence would pick up again.

They have opposed, obstructed, denigrated, mocked, accused the military of lying, predicted disaster again and again and again, all the while calling Maliki a “puppet” and the Iraqi government a joke.

I guess we should simply forget their previous stupidity and call them geniuses now?


For those who believe the clarification from Maliki’s office. that I mention and link to above,  substantially changes the political dynamic in this country, i.e. Democrats (Obama) are geniuses because they were “ahead of the curve” on withdrawing from Iraq, you are incorrect. Allah from Hot Air:

As if it’s not bad enough that they’re trying to spin this after the fact, the Times reports that the statement was put out by Centcom, just to make the U.S. fingerprints on it extra legible, I guess. In any event, Maliki’s desire to make any timetable contingent upon further security gains was already clear from the Spiegel translation – or more specifically, the first version of the Spiegel translation, before they went and surreptitiously changed it.

The PM’s clarifying statement was released through CENTCOM which means it has the White House’s fingerprints all over it. The only real change from the Der Speigel interview has to do with making withdrawals contingent on further improvements in security – which is what Bush and Maliki agreed upon on Friday.

The fact is, McCain is in an awful tough spot now that Maliki has basically agreed with his opponent. No doubt McCain will try and change the subject and point to Obama’s wretched judgment on the surge as well as his many previous calls for withdrawal when the situation in Iraq was dire.

It may very well be that Iraq is less of a campaign issue for McCain than it is now for Obama. How this plays out will probably be fairly predictable. The media will declare Obama the second coming of Bismark and the inexperience in foreign policy issue will be dead and buried. 

This post originally appeared in The American Thinker

By: Rick Moran at 12:35 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Iraq: US Should Leave ASAP...

It wasn’t exactly a highlight of Barack Obama’s rather uninspiring speech on national security the candidate gave in Washington on Tuesday. But buried under the interminable rhetoric on how the candidate, once president, will be able to wave his magic wand (or perhaps wiggle his nose like Jeannie) and conjure up coalitions of allies to deal with this problem or that (even getting Iran and Syria to cooperate on Iraqi security which would be a magic trick worthy of Merlin), there was a shocking admission by Mr. Obama that he and his Democratic colleagues had been wrong about Iraq for years.

For the first time since the Iraq war began, a Democratic leader uttered the “V” word and “Iraq” in the same sentence. That’s right; Obama called for “victory” in Iraq:

At some point, a judgment must be made. Iraq is not going to be a perfect place, and we don’t have unlimited resources to try to make it one. We are not going to kill every al Qaeda sympathizer, eliminate every trace of Iranian influence, or stand up a flawless democracy before we leave – General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker acknowledged this to me when they testified last April. That is why the accusation of surrender is false rhetoric used to justify a failed policy. In fact, true success in Iraq – victory in Iraq – will not take place in a surrender ceremony where an enemy lays down their arms. True success will take place when we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future – a government that prevents sectarian conflict, and ensures that the al Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge. That is an achievable goal if we pursue a comprehensive plan to press the Iraqis stand up.

The candidate actually defines the terms of “success” and “victory.” Why is this significant.

Because last year, Barack Obama declared the war a failure and unwinnable:

Senator Barack Obama said Tuesday that even if the military escalation in Iraq was showing limited signs of progress, efforts to stabilize the country had been a “complete failure” and American troops should not be entangled in the sectarian strife.

“No military surge, no matter how brilliantly performed, can succeed without political reconciliation and a surge of diplomacy in Iraq and the region,” Mr. Obama said. “Iraq’s leaders are not reconciling. They are not achieving political benchmarks.”

This is at the time Obama was calling for “an immediate withdrawal” of all American troops without consulting the Iraqis, the generals on the ground, or anyone else he says today that he “has always said” he would consult:
“Let me be clear: There is no military solution in Iraq and there never was,” Obama said in excerpts of the speech provided to the Associated Press.

“The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq’s leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year — now,” the Illinois senator says.

A strange part of his definition of “victory” that he stated in his Tuesday speech sounds a lot like retreat before complete victory is achieved:”
To achieve that success, I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war. Let me be clear: we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 — one year after Iraqi Security Forces will be prepared to stand up; two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, we’ll keep a residual force to perform specific missions in Iraq: targeting any remnants of Al-Qaeda; protecting our service members and diplomats; and training and supporting Iraq’s Security Forces, so long as the Iraqis make political progress.

We will make tactical adjustments as we implement this strategy — that is what any responsible commander-in-chief must do. As I have consistently said, I will consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government. We will redeploy from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We will commit $2 billion to a meaningful international effort to support the more than 4 million displaced Iraqis. We will forge a new coalition to support Iraq’s future — one that includes all of Iraq’s neighbors, and also the United Nations, the World Bank, and the European Union — because we all have a stake in stability. And we will make it clear that the United States seeks no permanent bases in Iraq.

“Achieve success” by “ending this war?” This kind of disconnect from reality reminds me of the new Soviet government in 1917 simply declaring the war was over and marching off the battlefield. They did this because their negotiations with the Germans were becoming all to real with the Kaiser demanding huge chunks of Soviet territory and crippling war reparations.

The Germans watched in amazement as more than 3 million Russian troops abandoned their positions and started the long trek home. Not quite believing their good fortune, the Germans were, at first, rather cautious. But once they realized the Soviets were retreating, they quickly advanced and turned the retreat into a rout. After pushing hundreds of miles into Russia bagging huge numbers of Russian soldiers as prisoners in the process, the Soviets realized their mistake and meekly returned to the bargaining table, giving the Kaiser virtually everything he wanted.

Drawing an historical parallel with Iraq using the Soviet-German history during World War I is probably not fair since al-Qaeda and the Shia militias can no way be compared to the German army on the Eastern front in 1917.

But where I think the analogy is apt is in positing that both the terrorists and the militias will be strengthened considerably by a withdrawal more beholden to some timeline than events on the ground. Since the candidate can’t seem to make up his mind whether he wants to pander to his base by eschewing consultation or whether he wants to pander to rational voters by including such caveats with his timeline, we just don’t know. On Tuesday at least, he was for consultation and for making “tactical adjustments” if necessary.

What if Obama had talked of “victory” and “tactical adjustments” and “consulting generals” during the primary campaign? Sure is a far cry from “immediate withdrawal,” although perhaps he meant he would withdraw the troops immediately after we felt we had achieved victory? I daresay if he had breathed the word “victory” during his contest with Hillary Clinton, he would have been hooted off the stage.

That’s because both legislative leaders of the Democratic party declared the war “lost” more than a year ago. First, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on 4/20/07:

“I believe myself that the secretary of state, secretary of defense and – you have to make your own decisions as to what the president knows – (know) this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday,” said Reid, D-Nev.

And here’s Nancy Pelosi on 2/10/08:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said twice Sunday that Iraq “is a failure,” adding that President Bush’s troop surge has “not produced the desired effect.”

“The purpose of the surge was to create a secure time for the government of Iraq to make the political change to bring reconciliation to Iraq,” Pelosi said on CNN’s “Late Edition.” “They have not done that.”

So has Obama in effect, repudiated the two most powerful leaders in the legislative branch of his own party?

You bet he has. Since neither Reid nor Pelosi have seen fit to come forward and admit that they were spectacularly wrong in their assessment of Iraq, Obama has hung them – and most of the rest of his own party – out to dry. He has redefined the goals in Iraq – albeit incoherently – by stipulating that “success” and “victory” were now the aims of American policy and not withdrawal and defeat which is still the de facto position of the netroots and the far left Moveon crowd.

Why no one has noticed this in the media is probably due to the fact that now we are enjoying a modicum of success in Iraq on all fronts, the political fruits of victory will be spread around to somehow include Democrats. It is impossible to give George Bush and his mostly conservative war supporters all the credit despite the defeatist and obstructionist policies carried on for most of the war by their political opponents. It would be inconsistent with their past reporting of Bush as a boob and incompetent. Room must be found for the Democrats to share in whatever success we achieve in Iraq.

So congratulations to Barack Obama who has now hopped on to the victory train – now that it’s almost at the station and preparing to unload.


How could I be so stupid? Yes I was dropped on my head as an infant but that doesn’t explain how I could have possibly mixed up Samantha from Bewitched with Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie.

Both my good friend Jim from the site bRright and Early and reader Mike S. were kind enough to point out my error in ascribing Samantha’s magic gesture of the nose wiggle to Jeanie. Of course, Jeanie would cross her arms and bob her head to initiate her magic spells. I apologize for the confusion.

As to which one is sexier, from the vantage point of age, no doubt Samantha is cuter but Jeanie’s costume…ooh la la. Did you know that the network censor refused to allow Barbara Eden’s navel to show?

We’ve come a long way, baby…

By: Rick Moran at 9:25 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (10) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Obama to accept nomination at Denver football stadium...

Well, duh.

The last seven and a half years have seen the world in turmoil. Growth pains due to globalization, the rising challenge of China and India, a newly autocratic Russia, an EU increasingly going its own way economically, and related to that, the slow collapse of NATO as a viable coalition, dying a slow death in the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan.

Oh…did I mention 9/11 and the American invasion and occupation of Iraq?

Those looking for a common thread may be tempted to lump all of these civilization altering changes under the rubric of “Bush’s incompetence” or “Bush’s stupidity.” But seriously now, are you really that shallow and stupid? All of those challenges have been developing for at least a decade or more. The growth and rapid advancement of globalization has resulted in unparalleled economic growth as well as massive economic dislocation. Bush policies have accelerated some of the local effects of globalization – some good some bad. China and India would be on the verge of economic superpower status regardless of anything America could do.

The EU is still trying to emerge from infancy, still unsure of itself politically. It’s economic performance is improving but nowhere near what was promised. Nevertheless, the EU seems willing to strike out on its own and become a separate entity from the US. Europe had always defined itself through its relations with America through NATO. No longer.

And NATO itself is dying. Unable to face the growing challenges in Afghanistan as most of its members refuse to commit combat forces to the fight, NATO’s reason for being is being challenged with no good answers emerging to give justification for its continued existence. It was thought adding former Eastern bloc countries to the organization would reinvigorate it. Instead, it has simply delayed the inevitable.

And then, there is Iraq.

To say that the Iraq War has made America unpopular in the world is something of a misnomer. It would be more accurate to say the war has made us more unpopular. In truth, it is a myth – one generated for obvious political reasons by the left – that post 9/11, the world was on “our side” and that we were an object of affection and that the world was with us.

Poppycock. I’ve been trying to debunk this myth almost since I started blogging. Much more of the planet celebrated the collapse of the WTC than wept. Those that laid flowers at memorial sites or wrote heartfelt missives to America were showing their solidarity with the American people, not our government.

This was made evident less than 48 hours after the attacks when audience members attending the BBC TV show “Question Time” brought the former ambassador Philip Laden to the verge of tears as they blamed America for the attacks:

Mr Lader had been attempting to express his sadness over the attacks when a number of audience members had shouted him down to voice their anti-US opinions. Mr Lader had looked close to tears.

At times, David Dimbleby struggled to control the discussion as voices and tempers became raised.

Some audience members said the US was ultimately responsible for the attacks because of its foreign policy.

William Shawcross, stuck in London following 9/11, reported what happened on the TV program “Question Time” and gave voice to the predominant view on the continent and most of the rest of the world regarding America:
But the response of some of the Question Time audience reveals a darker side and shows the awful truth that these days there is just one racism that is tolerated – anti-Americanism. Not just tolerated, but often applauded. Like any other nation, the US makes mistakes at home and abroad. (I wrote about some of those in Indochina.)

But the disdain with which its failures and its efforts are greeted by some in Britain and elsewhere in Europe is shocking. Anti-Americanism often goes much further than criticism of Washington. Too often the misfortunes of America are met with glee, a schadenfreude that is quite horrifying.

On Tuesday, I sat watching television numbed by the grief, wondering if anyone I knew had been murdered. Since then, I have been devouring newspapers, attempting to learn more and more of the details. Every day, the agony gets worse. The more details we read of the last phone calls, the emails, the relatives watching those they loved as they died on television, the more personal and intimate this catastrophe becomes – and the more the victims, their families and their society deserve our sympathy.

But I have an awful fear that the solidarity with the US expressed at the United Nations and in Europe this week will not last long. Fundamentalist anti-Americanism will again rear its head, as it did on Question Time. Philip Lader behaved with extraordinary dignity on saying, with tears in his eyes: “I have to share with you that I find it hurtful that you can suggest that a majority of the world despises the US.”

And the Wall Street Journal (“The Myth of Squandered Sympathy“) ices the case that the world was never “with us” after 9/11 with this scathing look at the French and the famous newspaper headline “We are all Americans” which was actually an anti-American editorial:
Thus are legends born. For the solidarity ostentatiously displayed in the title of Mr. Colombani’s editorial is in fact massively belied by the details of the text itself.

By the fifth paragraph, Mr. Colombani is offering his general reflections on the geo-political conditions he supposes provoked the attacks:

“The reality is surely that of a world without a counterbalance, physically destabilized and thus dangerous in the absence of a multipolar equilibrium. And America, in the solitude of its power, of its hyperpower, . . . has ceased to draw the peoples of the globe to it; or, more exactly, in certain parts of the globe, it seems no longer to attract anything but hatred. . . . And perhaps even we ourselves in Europe, from the Gulf War to the use of F16s against Palestinians by the Israeli Army, have underestimated the hatred which, from the outskirts of Jakarta to those of Durban, by way of the rejoicing crowds of Nablus and of Cairo, is focused on the United States.”

In the following paragraph, Mr. Colombani went on to add that perhaps too “the reality” was that America had been “trapped by its own cynicism,” noting that Osama bin Laden himself had, after all, been “trained by the CIA”—a never substantiated charge that has, of course, in the meanwhile become chapter and verse for the blame-America-firsters. “Couldn’t it be, then,” Mr. Colombani concluded, “that America gave birth to this devil?”

So much for “solidarity.” The world may have pitied our people. But the record is crystal clear that anti-American feelings were hardly dampened by the attacks on 9/11.

The fact is, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US has replaced Russia as the superpower foreigners love to hate. Given all of this, it should come as absolutely no surprise that Barack Obama, according to a massive study by Pew, is favored overwhelmingly by the peoples of the world.

Unfortunately for Barack Obama, citizens of Australia, Japan, Spain and Tanzania won’t have a vote in the November election.

A new survey of 47,000 people in 60 languages by the Pew Global Attitudes Project shows that around the world, people who follow the US election view Obama more favourably than Republican nominee John McCain.

The survey in 24 countries confirms Obama as the candidate of choice among those not entitled to vote in the November election.

From gleeful villagers in his father’s native Kenya to a troupe of hula dancers in Obama, Japan, the international community has embraced the Illinois senator in a way unseen in past presidential elections.

While the US electorate is divided about evenly between the two candidates, with Obama currently enjoying a slight lead over McCain in recent polling, 84% of Tanzanians who have been following election news say they have confidence in Obama, while 50% say they have confidence in McCain. Seventy-four percent of Britons expressed confidence in Obama, while only 44% do in McCain, according to the survey.

Those results are reflected in every other country surveyed save Jordan, where 23% surveyed have confidence in McCain, compared to 22% for Obama.

There are many reason why Obama is more popular than McCain. His race gives hope to many. Then there’s 8 years of Bush and Republicans that have soured the GOP brand even overseas.

But the major reason given for preferring Obama is that he will “change American foreign policy.” In fact, Obama is the perfect candidate if you hate America. Not that Obama hates America, just that his policy proposals will enable the America haters around the globe.

It’s no accident that the Iranians, Hamas, Syrians and others who hate the United States prefer an Obama presidency. Obama promises a more compliant America, a less bellicose America, a more deferential America, and a more cooperative America. Some of these changes would be welcome. Others, not. But what has Iran and Syria salivating at the prospect of an Obama presidency is a lot less pressure placed on them by the US to act like responsible international citizens and not the brigands and thugs they wish to be.

Obama – a good and honest liberal – would work within the confines of the United Nations to resolve the various crisis at large in the world today. Bush, in his second term, has tried this and has a spotty record. The biggest failure for the UN in the last few years has been Lebanon where UN forces – UNIFIL - were supposed to stop the resupply of Hizbullah and enforce Security Council resolutions which included the disarming of the terrorist militia.

The result? Utter, total, complete, and embarrassing failure. Same goes for Darfur. The same goes for any and every problem the UN insists it must address with the US in a subservient role.

The world can hate us all they want. Only little children and liberals believe that to be important. What matters is are threats to the peace dealt with or swept under the UN rug? Obama would give it the old college try at the UN but run into the same anti-Americanism, the same bureaucratic inertia that has made problems like Darfur, Lebanon, and the Congo unsolvable. So the choice is America standing in the way of the designs of Syria and Iran (and North Korea) virtually alone or as a “partner” with the UN. Since Obama has been making all the right noises about “multi-lateralism” – not as a policy but almost as religion – the world breathes easier. They can all go back to doing nothing and letting problems like Darfur fester and genocide occur.

Obama would be the perfect post-Bush president – for a large segment of the Anti-American world. Not that it matters. Americans don’t vote for a candidate because of how he is perceived overseas. But perhaps we would do well to ask why our enemies are so anxious to see Obama as president?

By: Rick Moran at 8:02 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (17)


Lefties speak out against Bush calling Obama policies “Appeasement”

That wet spot you see forming under the chair of Will Bunch, Michael D., and even the normally reasonable Joe Gandleman is a sure sign that the brand of diapers these people are using just ain’t cuttin’ it. Might I suggest “Huggies Super Absorbent” for those times – like now – when you need that extra protection against leaks and overflow?

What has many on the left squirming in their toddler seats due to the uncomfortable dampness in their tush was a speech made by our President to the Israeli Knesset celebrating the State of Israel’s 60th birthday.

Now it is probably a good thing that no one asked our President to blow out the candles on the cake since his wind is probably not what it was a few years ago – having expended all that hot air in the meantime telling us what a success his excellent adventure in Iraq had become. But no matter. Bush delivered a speech to a people under daily threat of terrorism that was designed to reassure them that America would not sell Israel down the river in the interests of making peace with other, less friendly regimes in the region.

This is pro-forma stuff when it comes to an American president speaking in Israel, hardly headline grabbing fodder for the wires. Except Bush added a little something extra – a necessary warning given we have a putative candidate for president whose ideas about diplomacy include sitting down with Syria and Iran “without preconditions” and talk about peace in the Middle East.

It does no good to try and deny Obama said this and meant it. It was not taken out context, twisted, distorted, or otherwise folded, spindled, or mutilated in any way. If the candidate wants to change his position that’s fine. He can say he made a mistake, that he realizes now he should probably have thought that answer to the debate question through a little more.

But no. Obama insists he never said what he obviously said – in other words, either a man divorced from reality or a bald faced liar. And of course, his worshipful sycophants on the left have bought into this ludicrousness. Hillary has been using this very same idea of Obama wanting to talk to Assad and Ahmadinejad without preconditions as a hammer to demonstrate her opponents lack of foreign policy (one could add it also demonstrates a lack of sanity but that might be for a shrink to decide).

At any rate, Bush had this to say about Obama’s scathingly brilliant idea:

“Some seem to believe we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” said Bush, in what White House aides privately acknowledged was a reference to calls by Obama and other Democrats for the U.S. president to sit down for talks with leaders like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“We have heard this foolish delusion before,” Bush said in remarks to the Israeli Knesset. “As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American Senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

Many on the left went into apoplectic fits, bringing out the most laughable, over the top, insanely over dramatized rhetoric we’ve seen from them in – oh, about 48 hours.

Will Bunch:

But what Bush did in Israel this morning goes well beyond the accepted confines of American political debate, When the president speaks to a foreign parliament on behalf of our country, his message needs to be clear and unambiguous. Our democracy may look messy to outsiders, and we may have our disagreements with some sharp elbows thrown around, but at the end of the day we are not Republicans or Democrats or liberals or conservatives.

We are Americans.

And you, Mr. Bush, are the leader of us all. To use a diplomatic setting on foreign soil to score a cheap political point at home is way beneath your office, way beneath your country, and way beneath the people you serve. You have been handed an office once uplifted to great heights by fellow countrymen from Washington to Lincoln to Roosevelt to Eisenhower, and have plunged it so deeply into the Karl-Rove-and-Rush-Limbaugh-fueled world of political destruction and survival of all costs that have lost all perspective—and all sense of decency. To travel to Israel and to associate a sitting American senator and your possible successor in the Oval Office with those who at one time gave comfort to an enemy of the United States is, in and of itself, an act of political treason.

First of all, there was nothing cheap about that political point. That, sir, is a 100 carat, gold plated, diamond encrusted, million dollar zinger of political shot.

Secondly, I note that many on the left really hate it when you bring up appeasement. They curse Chamberlain for turning it into a dirty word. After all, Sir Neville had the right idea, just the wrong execution. Now if we were to negotiate with Hitler today, we wouldn’t make the same mistakes Chamberlain did, say the lefties. We would have gotten an arms control deal first and tied it in with concessions on the Sudetenland. And, of course, recognizing the Nazi sphere of influence in that part of Europe with all those little countries and their unpronounceable names would have been a price for making peace. But anything is better than a World War, right?

Obama was not long in responding with a carefully measured, balanced statement…Just kidding! He whined like a 5 year old who is told he must go to bed early:

It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence to launch a false political attack. It is time to turn the page on eight years of policies that have strengthened Iran and failed to secure America or our ally Israel. Instead of tough talk and no action, we need to do what Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan did and use all elements of American power – including tough, principled, and direct diplomacy – to pressure countries like Iran and Syria. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the President’s extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel.

“Extraordinary politicization of foreign policy?” Holy Christ! Only a dimwit doesn’t think what the Democrats have been doing for 5 years in Iraq and this entire campaign season isn’t using foreign policy as a political club to beat this president and the GOP over the head. Is he really that stupid. Are his followers really that naive? Of course not! They know full well that they’ve been politicizing foreign poicy – which makes Obama’s and Free Willy’s whining all the more hypocritical.

And I wonder if Willy Boy’s outrage extends to calling to account ex-presidents or ex-vice presidents who regularly go on foreign soil and all but call the president of the United States a traitor. Where the f**k are you people when those two characters pop up in Switzerland, or Saudi Arabia, or Great Britain and make the most personal, hurtful, politically motivated attacks on Bush?

Spare me your fake outrage. When you come around to criticizing Carter and Gore for the swipes in foreign countries they’ve taken at Bush then you may have earned yourself a measure of standing to hurl your infantile charges at Bush.

This is the mindset Obama would have going into talks with Assad and Ahmadinejad. Assad will make peace with Israel if we let him back into Lebanon – bottom line. Delusions to the contrary are not allowed. Would sacrificing Lebanon on the altar of the Obama Doctrine be acceptable?

The trouble is, the Israelis don’t think so. They might be wondering if the American president might sell them out for a deal on Iranian nukes or something else – perhaps peace in Iraq. Given the extraordinary pro-Palestinian bias of many of his advisors, why would this be so shocking?

The Israelis aren’t stupid. You don’t live to be 60 and face what they’ve had to face from the minute of their birth without a keen sense of who their friends are. And when the Israelis see their mortal enemy Hamas embracing Obama’s candidacy, they might be wondering who this fellow is and just what does he have in store for Israel if he gets elected.

Bush was chastising Obama as an appeaser before an audience that understood better than anyone else on the planet what appeasement can lead to. It is now up to Obama to prove that he understands the threats facing us and our allies. It is time for him to abandon his idea to meet with Assad and Ahmadinejad without preconditions by making it clear that he misspoke during the debate and that upon reflection, he realizes he erred and that he now supports a much more cautious approach.

He won’t do it, of course. Why should he when he has the New York Times running interference for him, telling the world that what he said, he didn’t actually say? Instead, we will get more whining from the candidate of “change.”

Bush zinged Obama by pointing out the obvious shortcomings of his proposed policy. It might not be appeasement – at least the left wouldn’t use that word. It would be “constructive engagement” or some other mealy mouthed words dreamed up by our striped suit, topped hat nitwits at Foggy Bottom. The number one issue is would Obama sell out Israeli security for a deal elsewhere – either with Syria and Iran. We don’t know the answer. The Israelis don’t know the answer. And Obama himself probably doesn’t either.

If these lefties would stop their fake whining jag long enough to look at it from the perspective of the Israelis, some of us might start believing the grownups had returned to the Democratic party’s foriegn policy team.

So far, no such luck.

By: Rick Moran at 3:21 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (39) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Amendments...
Sister Toldjah linked with Barack Obama and other reality-challenged Democrats sail down Denial River...

Oh my God, Moran…not another article on Lebanon. Puh-leeez!

Yes, I can hear the groans from many of my faithful, long suffering readers out there. Give us Obamamama! Give us Hillarybash! Give us baseball! But don’t give us anything more about that crazy-quilt collection of conniving, endearing, brave, cowardly, confusing mish mash of sects, political parties, alliances, and individuals that make up the tragic nation of Lebanon.

Why write about it? Right now – as I am writing this post – the fate of the Middle East is being decided in that little country. Don’t believe me? Read Michael Young, opinion editor for the Beirut Daily Star newspaper. Iran’s most important proxies – Syria and Hizbullah – are up to their necks in trouble as a result of their actions in Lebanon. And the fall of Hizbullah would send shockwaves throughout the region, dealing a grievous blow to the plans of Iran and could threaten the stability of the Assad regime in Syria. 

Syria – the first true gangster state – has tried to reclaim what they consider their rightful place in Lebanon by simply murdering enough opposition lawmakers and ministers like a Chicagoland crime boss so that the political opposition friendly to them will have a majority of their own in parliament and thus enable them to wrest control of the country from the elected majority.

Why does Syria want back in after getting kicked out by an outpouring of democratic outrage at their excesses? Like any good “boss of the yards,” Syria was using Lebanon as a cash cow – a font of extorted money, crooked partnerships in major businesses, and outright theft of Lebanese assets. This booty, properly distributed by Syrian President Bashar Assad, kept his corrupt regime afloat by paying off the army, the Baath party, and other elements in the Syrian hierarchy.

Given all of that, if there is any other way to describe Syria except as a “gangster regime,” I cannot think of it.

And the pointed end of the stick Syria was using to do its bidding in Lebanon was the Iranian-created terrorist group/political party/Shia social service agency Hizbullah. A confluence of interests between the two guaranteed that cooperation in Lebanon was a foregone conclusion.

But the recent violence perpetrated by Hizbullah when the legitimate government tried to exercise its authority over the party has changed the game considerably – and not to the advantage of either Syria or Hizbullah.

What’s that you say? I thought the Hezzies were crushing the weak resistance put up by Sunnis to stop their military advances into West Beirut and elsewhere. The media is making it appear that Hizbullah has won a huge victory and that for all intents and purposes, Hizbullah is in control of the country.

To quote John Wayne; not hardly.

First of all, there has not been much in the American media about Hizbullah’s stinging military setback in the rugged terrain north of Beirut where fierce Druze fighters refused to back down and basically handed the hezzies and their allies their butts in a sling. Michael Young explains:

A solution appears to have been found for the immediate crisis that began last week. The airport and roads have been opened, but there never was a way for Hezbollah to emerge successfully from the conflict it created. Militarily, the only way the party could have momentarily broken the deadlock in the mountains was to mount a massive invasion of Aley and the Chouf, using thousands of men and its most sophisticated weaponry. The Druze would have remained united – as Talal Arslan’s supporters and other Druze opposition members were united with Walid Jumblatt’s followers at the weekend. There would have been carnage, and had Hezbollah prevailed, it would have had to hold unfriendly territory indefinitely, locking down resources and manpower. Then what? An invasion of Metn? Kesrouan? Jbeil? The North? Not even the most ardent Hezbollah believer would have seriously argued that such a project was feasible. Military stalemate would have prevailed, and even if the stalemate had collapsed in one area, it would have been followed by myriad stalemates.

Young is writing of the real tragedy represented by Hizbullah’s apparently unplanned but long prepared for military move; the fate of the Shias in Lebanon:
There is great poignancy in the fate of the people of Qomatiyeh. With Kayfoun, the village is one of two Shia enclaves in the predominantly Druze and Christian Aley district. The inhabitants, far more than their brethren in the southern suburbs or the South, must on a daily basis juggle between a past in which they coexisted with their non-Shia neighbors and a present and future in which the neighbors view them as an existential threat. That story written large may soon be the story of Lebanon’s Shia community after the mad coup attempt organized by Hezbollah last week. In the past decade and a half, Hezbollah has injected regional animosities and an antagonistic and totalistic ideology of confrontation into tens of thousands of Shia homes, quarters, towns and villages where such attitudes have no place. Whatever brings the Iranian concept of wilayat al-faqih – the guardianship of the jurisconsult – to Qomatiyeh? Suleiman Jaafar may have been a Hezbollah member, but he was more than anything else a village boy caught in a fight far bigger than him, than all of us.

Young points out that Hizbullah’s major problem is ignorance – they don’t have a clue about the reasons behind the political compromises necessary for the Lebanese state.

Lebanon is a polyglot collection of religious sects, clans, and powerful families kept together by a tradition of compromise and an awareness that one sect or another should not dominate. Young shows where Hizbullah really blew it with their attempt to use their militia to throw all those carefully wrought living arrangements between the parties out the window:

The Shia community is obeying a leadership that cannot be said, in any way, to have ever understood the essence of the Lebanese system. Hezbollah and its secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, will often insist that sectarian compromise requires handing the party, and Shia in general, veto power over political decision-making. But that’s not what the consociational system is about; the point of the sectarian arrangement is not to build a system based on mechanisms of obstruction. It is to force the different communities to reach compromises in order to avert mechanisms of obstruction. Hezbollah has repeatedly tried to ignore this by imposing its will in the street or through its guns. The result has been a gathering, strengthening alignment of adversaries that will fight hard before allowing Hezbollah or the Shia to gain hegemonic power.

But wasn’t this reaction always obvious? Apparently not to Nasrallah and his Iranian sponsors, who never had any liking for the baroque but necessary give and take of the Lebanese order – let alone respect for the retribution that has always crippled those ignoring its fundamental rules. Through its contempt for Lebanon, Hezbollah has left itself with two stark choices: either to integrate fully into the state or to control the state. But since it will or can do neither, we are in for a long and harsh standoff between Hezbollah and the rest of Lebanese society.

There is some speculation that the government of Fouad Siniora maneuvered Nasrallah into taking the drastic military steps that have brought Lebanon to the brink of civil war. Indeed, by challenging Hizbullah’s status as a state within a state by trying to reclaim an absolute monopoly on telecommunications in the country, Siniora and the government gave Nasrallah little choice; the offending ruling must be revoked or it would only be a matter of time when the government would go after Hizbullah’s arms.

That is now a virtual certainty. And it is clear that Siniora will have the rest of the country supporting him in that effort. The fact is, without its militia, Hizbullah is just a political party with little chance of becoming part of a majority coalition.

Will Nasrallah see the writing on the wall and start to integrate his “resistance” into Lebanese security forces?

The clock began counting down in May 2000, when Israel withdrew from Lebanon. This threatened to deny the party its reason to exist, even though it tried to keep “resistance” alive through the Shebaa Farms front. In 2005, once the Syrians departed, everything collapsed. The party found itself having to justify its private army against a majority of Lebanese that opposed Hezbollah’s state within a state and its lasting allegiance to the Syrian regime. In 2006, as the national dialogue prepared to address the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons, Nasrallah sought to turn the tables by kidnapping Israeli soldiers and imposing his version of Hezbollah’s defense strategy on March 14. The plan backfired when Israel responded by ravaging Lebanon and the Shia in particular. And now, having fully discredited its “resistance” in the eyes of its countrymen, having ensured that an antagonistic population will be to its rear in the event of a new war with Israel, having weakened its non-Shia allies, Hezbollah, as both an idea and a driving force, is in its death throes. The party may yet endure, but the national resistance is finished.

Unfortunately, Hizbullah will not go quietly into that goodnight. And here is where the international community can be of most help. Not in forcing Hizbullah to give up its arms but by drastically strengthening the Siniora government. The recent Hizbullah offensive caused the Lebanese people to ask themselves “who is on our side” when only pro-forma denunciations were forthcoming from the US, France, and the United Nations. By doing everything we can to prop up Siniora – openly supporting his government with money and arms – Hizbullah will find itself isolated and unable to effect national events the way they have recently.

If, as Young says, the “national resistance” is finished it may be that a much stronger central government will help Hizbullah see the truth in that statement and attempt to integrate themselves into the rest of Lebanese society. It won’t come easily nor probably without bloodshed. But Hizbullah has painted itself into this corner and has only itself to blame if it can’t find an easy way out.

By: Rick Moran at 9:44 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)


There are some issues that you just don’t write about if you’re a conservative blogger looking to maintain or build your site. And one of those issues is torture and this administration’s blatant violation of the law in approving interrogation techniques that are universally recognized (outside of the right in America) as illegal.

I say universally recognized because the “enhanced” techniques that were apparently a topic of conversation many times by Bush Administration aides are clear violations of the UN treaty against torture (as amended) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I won’t mention the Geneva Convention which may or may not apply as a governing instrument in this case.

But we needn’t worry. Those interrogation techniques violated US law as well – war or no war – and only by stretching the executive powers of the president farther than they have ever gone – beyond Lincoln, beyond Wilson, beyond Roosevelt – could even a fig leaf of legality be placed over this gigantic open wound that will continue to fester until we resolve to purge those who brought this evil upon us.

Bill Clinton may have sold the Lincoln bedroom for campaign contributions and used the White House for his carnal romps. But I don’t think that grand structure ever bore witness to the kinds of discussions held by Bush Administration aides as they coldly weighed the options of using various torture techniques on al-Qaeda suspects in our custody:

ABC reported that the so-called “principals” discussed interrogation details in dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House.

Then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice chaired the meetings, which took place in the White House Situation Room and were typically attended by a select group of senior officials or their deputies, ABC said.

“Highly placed sources said a handful of top advisers signed off on how the CIA would interrogate top al Qaeda suspects—whether they would be slapped, pushed, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning, called waterboarding,” ABC reported.

In addition to Rice, the principals at the time included Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft, the report said.

Ashcroft, in an Albert Speers-like moment of moral clarity, knew perfectly well what future generations would think of those involved in these discussions:
Citing sources, ABC said Ashcroft agreed with the policy decision to allow aggressive interrogation tactics and advised that they were legal but was troubled by the discussions.

Ashcroft argued that senior White House advisers should not be involved in the grim details of interrogations, sources were cited as saying.

ABC cited a top official as saying that Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: “Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”

Marc Ambinder ponders the unthinkable. He titles his post “War Crimes:”
A provocative headline, I know, perhaps needlessly so, but it remains one of those hidden secrets in Washington that a Democratic Justice Department is going to be very interested in figuring out whether there’s a case to be made that senior Bush Administration officials were guilty of war crimes. Stories like these from ABC News—Top Bush Advisors Approved ‘Enhanced Interrogation’—will be as relevant a year from now as they are right now, perhaps even more so.

Michael Goldfarb sees only the politics of the issue:
I’d love to know who’s whispering that in Ambinder’s ear. If this is a secret among Democrats, it certainly is well kept…I’ve never heard a conservative seriously entertain the possibility. But if that’s the plan for an Obama administration, let the healing begin!

I always thought that there would be a Pinochet type move to get at Rumsfeld or Bush if they ever went to Europe after the Administration was out of office. Rumsfeld has already faced such pressure and Bush will be a marked man wherever he goes – if he ever leaves his Texas ranch after his term is ended.

But it is unlikely that any such charges will be brought. JB at Balkinization:

Remember that sections 8 and 6(b) of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 effectively insulated government officials from liability for many of the violations of the War Crimes Act they might have committed during the period prior to 2006. Moreover, as Marty has pointed out, there’s a strong argument that a later Justice Department would not prosecute people who reasonably relied on legal advice from a previous Justice Department. Perhaps the Justice Department could argue that the officials’ reliance was unreasonable, but that might be difficult to show.

And putting aside the purely legal obstacles to a prosecution for war crimes, there’s also the political cost. Why would an Obama or Clinton Administration waste precious political capital early on with a politically divisive prosecution of former government officials? One can imagine the screaming of countless pundits arguing that the Democrats were trying to criminalize political disagreements about foreign policy. Such a prosecution would make politics extremely bitter and derail any chance for bipartisan cooperation on almost any significant issue. Obama or Clinton would rather get a health care bill passed, deal with the economy, or try to solve the Iraq mess, than have the first several years of their Administrations consumed by a prosecution for war crimes by officials in the Bush Administration.

JB also points out that any trials in venues like the Hague or other international criminal courts would be resisted by a Democratic Administration for the same reason and others as well.

Now certainly there is a strain of anti-Americanism at work in Europe and elsewhere overseas with regard to this issue as well as a smug, self-righteousness on the part of the European left that nauseates me.

For more than 70 years as the Communists murdered, tortured, starved, beat, and raped their way across Europe, killing upwards of 20 million – people whose only crime was that they didn’t believe they were living in a workers’ paradise, the European left gave the thugs a pass and even supported them in their efforts to cow the populations of Eastern Europe into submission while doing their damnedest to see the west defenseless against communist aggression.

How dare they. They do not have the moral standing of a jackrabbit. For them to all of a sudden get their panties in a twist over American violations of international law when they spent decades ignoring the greatest, most heartless human butchers in world history is an example of monumental hypocrisy and moral blindness that a thousand years from now will be the shame of western civilization. And for the anti-American European left to climb atop this moral high horse now speaks of a selective outrage that should sicken anyone with an ounce of historical perspective and a modicum of human decency.

No. This is an American problem. And we Americans must deal with it. Perhaps it would be worth the political war for a Democratic president to at least initiate an investigation by the Justice Department into the question of war crimes committed by the highest ranking members of the Bush Administration. The results of that investigation may conclude that the principals are innocent or just not prosecutable.

But the consequences of doing nothing are equally problematic. Somewhere along the line, a majority of Americans must be made aware of what these men have done and why what they approved is wrong. The damage is deep. But I disagree with hysterical liberals that our reputation and moral leadership is gone, never to be seen again. How we deal with what has been wrought in our name says volumes about us as a people and how determined we are to clean up our own house.

I have given up trying to convince most of my readers of the necessity in speaking out against what has transpired these last several years with regards to the approval of torture at the highest levels of our government. But I will continue to write about it because it is something about which I feel very strongly. I will not, as many liberals do, berate those of you who disagree with me. This is a matter of conscience. Each of us must examine our own beliefs, our own mind and come to our own conclusions in this matter.

Anything else would be un-American.

By: Rick Moran at 7:28 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (49) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Cheney, Others OK'd Harsh Interrogations ...

It will be a media circus when General David Petreaus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker take their seats before the Senate Armed Services Committee today to give an update on progress in Iraq – from their point of view. The caveat is important because objective reality when it comes to Iraq is about as solid as a dish of warm jello. By any measurement, the place is still a mess – a hash of armed to the teeth militias, a still weak central government, an army of questionable fighting ability, a too long delayed reconciliation between the sects, and the ever present handprint of those merry mullahs in Tehran.

How all those ingredients are mixing together and what is emerging is a matter of dispute. You can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs but neither can you put a pig in a prom dress and expect people to compliment you on your choice of dates.

I have come to the inescapable conclusion that no one knows what is really happening in Iraq – including the Iraqis themselves. And that goes double for the United States government and triple for the anti-war left. If anyone did have a solid understanding of the reality of what is happening there both on the ground and in the subsurface strata made up of the perceptions, opinions, fears, hopes and dreams of the Iraqi people, a way forward would have revealed itself.

Instead, we get a multiplex spinorama from all parties. Hell, even the Iranians are spinning which tells you something about their understanding of the modern media. That little dog and pony show in Iran where a “cease fire” was reached between Moqtada al-Sadr and the Iraqi government is a perfect example of the learning curve of the Iranians when it comes to dealing with the western press. Mookie has the anti-war left convinced that he asked for the cease fire because he was beating up on the Iraqi army and wished to save civilians in Basra. The Iranians were very helpful in spinning this little fable as were several Iraqi politicians.

The problem, as we found out later was that Maliki agreed to no such cease fire and continued operations in Basra and has escalated his crackdown on the Mehdi Army in Baghdad:

Sharp fighting broke out in the Sadr City district of Baghdad on Sunday as American and Iraqi troops sought to control neighborhoods used by Shiite militias to fire rockets and mortars into the nearby Green Zone.

But the operation failed to stop the attacks on the heavily fortified zone, headquarters for Iraq’s central government and the American Embassy here. By day’s end, at least two American soldiers had been killed and 17 wounded in the zone, one of the worst daily tolls for the American military in the most heavily protected part of Baghdad. Altogether, at least three American soldiers were killed and 31 wounded in attacks in Baghdad on Sunday, and at least 20 Iraqis were killed, mostly in Sadr City.

The heightened violence came on the eve of Congressional testimony in Washington by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, and Ryan C. Crocker, the American ambassador here, to defend their strategy for political reconciliation and improved security in the country.

Mookie has made a habit over the years of unleashing his militia to engage the Americans (and this time, the Iraqi Army), getting a bloody nose (as in Najaf and Fallujah), and then grandiosely announcing that he is willing to talk peace thus raising his standing with the people as a reasonable sort of fellow who wants to play politics with Maliki.

The fact that this gambit worked beyond his wildest dreams with the US media and anti-war left when he lost 300-400 of his best fighters in Basra while fighting the Iraqi army is an astonishing testament to the myopia of the left with regards to any news coming out of Iraq. As J.D. Johannes said on my radio show last week (and has been repeated by many observers), the winner of a fight does not ask for a cease fire. The idea that Mookie requested an end to the fighting in Basra because he wanted to pull Maliki’s chestnuts out of the fire is silly, stupid, and worse, counterintuitive. What happened is a little more complicated.

According to Bill Roggio, some cowboy politicians from Maliki’s Dawa party journeyed to Iran (without authorization from the government) and asked the Iranians to get Sadr to stop fighting. Sadr released his 9 point statement demanding the government withdraw from Basra, stop targeting his forces, and release prisoners.

The left celebrated Mookie’s forbearance while completely ignoring one glaring fact; Maliki never authorized the overture in the first place and secondly, he rejected Sadr’s 9 points outright:

Just as the Iraqi security forces began to address the shortcoming in the operation and the situation in the center-south began to stabilize, Sadr decided to pull his fighters off the streets. Members of Maliki’s Dawa political party approached the leader of Iran’s Qods Force asking him to get Sadr to stop the fighting. Shortly afterward, Sadr ordered his troops to withdraw from fighting and issued a nine-point statement of demands for the Iraqi government.

By this time, the Mahdi Army took significant casualties in Basrah, Baghdad, and the greater South. “Security forces killed more than 200 gunmen, wounded 700, and arrested 300 others, since the beginning of the military operations in Basrah,” said Major General Abdul Kareem Khalaf, the director of operations for the Ministry of the Interior. The Mahdi Army suffered 173 killed in Baghdad during the six days of fighting.

Spokesmen from the Mahdi Army claimed the Maliki government agreed to Sadr’s terms, which included ending operations against the Mahdi Army, but the Iraqi government denies this. “I refuse to negotiate with the outlaws,” Maliki said on April 3. “I did not sign any deal.”

The fact that operations continue in Basra gives to the lie to the idea that Maliki agreed to anything.

Meanwhile, Maliki got busy on the political front and lined up an impressive coalition of parties, sects, factions, and personalities to demand that Sadr disarm.

The position of Hojatoleslam al-Sadr, whose fighters fought government forces to a standstill in Basra, was looking precarious. His former erstwhile ally Nouri al-Maliki, the Shia Prime Minister who personally led the Basra crackdown, saw his standing bolstered by his tough approach to the militias.

Despite the inconclusive results of his Basra offensive, Mr al-Maliki has refused to back down and this weekend stitched together a rare consensus of Kurds, Sunnis and Shias to back a law banning from future elections any party that maintains a militia.

That united stance has put the Sadrists on the back foot, and support for the militia was waning even in Sadr City itself as official forces pushed ever deeper into al-Mahdi Army territory.

No, the Iraqi Army still did not perform very well in Basra. There were defections (nowhere near 1,000 as reported), there was greenness, there was a lack of coordination, there was confusion and there was a lack of battlefield leadership. But as Roggio points out, the army did much better elsewhere in the south and is doing just fine in Baghdad (with Americans backing them up). Call it a mixed bag with causes for both concern and optimism.

Sounds like the testimony that Petreaus is going to give today.

In a reprise of their testimony last September, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker plan to tell Congress today and tomorrow that security has improved in Iraq and that the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has taken steps toward political reconciliation and economic stability.

But unlike in September, when that news was fresh and the administration said a corner had been turned, even some of the war’s strongest supporters in Congress have grown impatient and frustrated. Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and Crocker will face many lawmakers who had expected more by now and who are wondering whether any real change will occur before the clock runs out on the Bush administration.

And that, my friends, is the problem in a nutshell. Petreaus will pretty much give a rehash of his September testimony, pointing to incremental improvements since that time, but the fact is he doesn’t know a way forward that would bring the bulk of American forces home except continuing current strategies and policies.

This may be fine and dandy for some. But the majority of the Congress – including Republicans – are finding that a bitter pill to swallow:

“I think all of us realize we’re disappointed at where we are,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said at a hearing last week. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) asked, “How do we get out of this mess?” While the cost in U.S. lives and money increases, said another senior GOP senator, who spoke on the condition of anonymity: “We cannot . . . just say we’re coasting through and waiting for the next president.”

Among the questions these and other lawmakers said they plan to ask Petraeus and Crocker is why the United States is still paying for Iraqi domestic needs ranging from military training to garbage pickup when the Maliki government has $30 billion in reserves—held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland—as well as $10 billion in a development fund, significant budgetary surpluses from previous years and a projected 7 percent economic growth rate for 2008.

Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and Sen. John W. Warner (Va.), the panel’s ranking Republican, who projected that Iraqi oil income would reach $56.4 billion this year, asked the Government Accountability Office last month to investigate how much money the Iraqi government has.

“I think it’s a very significant issue that has not had sufficient exposure,” Levin said in an interview. “They’re perfectly content to watch us spend our money while they build up these huge cash reserves from oil windfalls. It’s a real stick in our eye, as far as I’m concerned.”

Despite Maliki’s recent success in pulling together society to call for Sadr’s evisceration, the effect will probably be transitory. The factions and sects are not going to break out into songs of brotherhood and sit down to hammer out the details of meaningful reconciliation. They can barely stand being in the same room together. Self-interest will eventually prevail and some kind of modus vivendi will emerge. But if anyone thinks that such a goal can be achieved in the next year or two, they are kidding themselves.

As I said at the top, no one really knows what is actually happening in Iraq. And because of that, we look at the good news about al-Sadr’s imminent demise as some kind of breakthrough moment in the history of post-Saddam Iraq. I’m sorry but history doesn’t work that way. Only the passage of time will prove out that theory.

And time is something the American people and Congress are not likely to grant the Iraqis who are struggling to re-invent their fractured society with guns and bombs still going off on a regular basis.

By: Rick Moran at 7:59 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (18)

Neocon News linked with Petraeus engages the enemy (er, Congress…)... Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Why Iraq troop drawdown is likely to stop in July...

I don’t expect too many of you to agree with me about the shame I believe that John Yoo and the Bush Administration has brought upon America as a result of their attempt to legally justify the torture of prisoners. From what I’ve been reading for years on other conservative sites, I know that many of you believe that any treatment we hand out to terrorists is too good for them, that they deserve to suffer and besides we need the information that only torture will elicit. Beyond that, there is a troubling rationale used by many conservatives that posits the notion of reciprocity; that because the terrorists treat prisoners in a beastly manner, it is perfectly alright for us to do the same to them.

It vexes me that conservatives believe such nonsense – believe it and use it as a justification for the violation of international and domestic law not to mention destroying our long standing and proud tradition of simply being better than that. Why this aspect of American exceptionalism escapes my friends on the right who don’t hesitate to use the argument that we are a different nation than all others when it comes to rightly boasting about our vast freedoms and brilliantly constructed Constitution is beyond me.

But for me and many others on the right, the issue of torture defines America in a way that does not weigh comfortably on our consciences or on our self image as citizens of this country. I am saddened beyond words to be associated with a country that willingly gives up its traditions and adherence to the rule of law for the easy way, the short cut around the law, while giving in to the basest instincts we posses because we are afraid.

I do not wish terrorists to be tortured. I wish them dead. But if they must surrender themselves to our custody or if we find it to our tactical advantage to hold them, then we have no alternative but to treat them as Americans treat prisoners not as the terrorists themselves treat their captives. This is self evident and it is shocking at times to be reviled as a “terrorist lover” just because I wish that our tradition of human decency and adhering to the rule of law be upheld.

The specifics of what is or what is not torture matter not. Inflicting pain is not something you can put on a scale and judge whether an interrogation technique crosses some invisible line between just being a little painful and outright agony. Mental and physical pain inflicted on purpose is a crime according to international law and our domestic statutes. It is pure sophistry to argue otherwise.

Let’s be clear on this; John Yoo’s memo does a tap dance around the Constitution, the UN treaty banning torture, and domestic laws prohibiting our public officials from engaging in acts that cause bodily harm to another person.

I am not a lawyer. But I can read. When a document is written in order to justify what otherwise would be illegal acts during peacetime (something that is clearly on Yoo’s mind throughout much of his memo), one would hope that something besides expanding the power of the executive to grant immunity to those who carry out the erstwhile illegalities would be used as a legal framework. Yoo makes little attempt, from my reading, to do so.

One example of this breathtaking and troubling expansion of executive authority:

On Page 47 of the Yoo memo, if I’m not mistaken, there’s the amazing assertion that the Convention Against Torture doesn’t apply whenever the president says it doesn’t. “Any presidential decision to order interrogations methods that are inconsistent with CAT would amount to a suspension or termination of those treaty provisions.” Doesn’t this mean that whether or not a treaty has been ratified, with or without express reservations, Yoo is saying that the president can implicitly and on his own authority withdraw the United States from the treaty simply by not abiding by it? Is there precedent for such a claim? In my quick scan so far of the tortured (sorry) reasoning here, I can’t find anything other than ipso facto—because I say so, the president says so.

From the memo Part II, page 41, we see a similar justification for defense against charges of torture, i.e. the president says it’s OK:

As we have made clear in other opinions involving the war against al Qaeda, the Nation’s right to self-defense has been triggered by the events of September 11. If a govenunent defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network. In that case, we believe that he’ could argue that the executive branch’s constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions. This national and international version of the right to self-defense could supplement and bolster the government defendant’s individual right.

How can any conservative believing in limited government not at the very least look twice at such an expansion of government authority?

I believe that Vice President Cheney is correct when he says that executive power suffered as a result of naked power grabs by the Democratic Congress back in the 1970’s. But this goes far beyond redressing any imbalances that occurred as a result of abuses of executive authority uncovered in Watergate and Viet Nam. It does not appear that Mr. Yoo has deigned to supply any limits whatsoever to executive power during wartime.

As for his justifications for torture, some of Yoo’s reasoning is positively Orwellian:

As to mental torture, Richard testified that “no international consensus had emerged [as to] what degree of mental suffering is required to constitute torture[,]”but that it was nonetheless clear that severe mental pain or suffering “does not encompass the normal legal compulsions which are properly a part of the criminal justice system[:] .interrogation, incarceration, prosecution; compelled. testimony against a friend, etc,-notwithstanding the fact that they may have the incidental effect of producing mental strain.” Id. at 17. According to Richard, CAT was intended to “condemn as torture intentional acts such as those designed to damage and destroy the human personality.” Id. at 14. This description of mental suffering emphasizes the requirement that any mental harm be. of significant duration and supports our conclusion that ( mind-altering substances must have a profoundly disruptive effect to serve as a predicate.act.

It is a mindset like this that can justify barbarity.

I don’t buy the argument that because it only hurts “a little” that it’s not torture. The difference between having your fingernails pulled out and being forced to stand for 24 hours is irrelevant. It is the intent that matters. And if the intent is to cause suffering in order to get a prisoner to talk, that is torture whether it is chaining a terrorist to the floor and turning up the heat or making him believe he is drowning as a result of waterboarding.

Ed Morrissey, Christian gentleman that he is, wrestles mightily with this issue and comes up short. First, he attempts to spread the blame for torture authorization to the Congress:

First, the 2003 memo didn’t authorize the start of coercive techniques. As early as September 2002, Congressional leadership of both parties got briefed on interrogations of three al-Qaeda operatives. The CIA gave members of both parties dozens of classified briefings which detailed such techniques as waterboarding, stress positions, and other controversial methods that Congress later acted to ban. This obviously predates the Yoo memo.

Yoo also didn’t occupy any position that could have authorized any interrogative techniques. He provided a legal analysis when asked, but the responsibility for relying on the analysis falls to the CIA, Pentagon, and White House. Congress certainly appeared to agree in that same time frame; the reporting on the briefings notes that none of the Congressional delegation raised any objections during the briefings. One specifically asked whether the interrogations should be made tougher.

I would say to Ed that just because two branches of our government signed off on torture does not make it right. Whether it makes it legal or not may be another question. But it seems to me that Ed is trying to spread the blame for the US using torture techniques around and include Congress. If that is what he is trying to do, I find it irrelevant.

And I would agree with Ed that Yoo is hardly a “war criminal” as Lambchop would have us believe. There was no force of law behind this memo. As Ed rightly says it was the CIA, the Pentagon and especially the White House who relied on this memo to justify acts that would ordinarily violate international and domestic laws. Yoo was asked to give an opinion nothing more. This was no “Wannsee” scenario where justification for implementing the Nazi “Final Solution” were developed and discussed. Yoo himself may have been surprised that his memo became policy although I’m sure he didn’t mind it at the time.

The fact that his memo was withdrawn a year later and others substituted for it makes me think that the liberal criticism of the memo being a slap-dash, insufficiently fleshed out document with poor or non-existent justifications for such a massive change in policy to be pretty close to the mark. Again, I’m no lawyer but in reading it, I was struck again and again by how almost everything could be squeezed into the broad executive authority that Yoo was creating by expanding the limits of executive power. Ed Morrissey says in his piece that Yoo defined the president’s limits. This he did. But Ed did not mention that Yoo vastly expanded those limits from where they were in peace time. Did he expand them too much? I believe he did.

At some point in the future, we will be able to look back at the decisions that were made in the aftermath of 9/11 and make judgements based on how history unfolded. Some of those judgements will almost certainly meet with near universal approval. Others may prove to be less than efficacious.

But I sincerely doubt whether history will be kind to John Yoo or the president he thought he was serving when he used his considerable legal talents to justify throwing the law, the Constitution, and our good standing in the world out the window by giving a “legal” basis for torture.

By: Rick Moran at 3:29 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (60)


The anti-war crowd has been saying for years that it is possible, indeed necessary, for the United States to simply walk away from Iraq by systematically drawing down its forces without regard to the security of the Iraqi government or people.

Also for years, I have been saying that despite monumental blunders and stupidities committed by our side, that such a scenario just wasn’t a viable option unless we could be assured of leaving behind some kind of stable government that at the very least, couldn’t be hijacked by al-Qaeda and made into a base of operations that would threaten us and our friends around the world.

I still believe that to be a viable, sensible, logical position to hold – but just barely. Once again, I feel myself “stretching” to defend a position that even just a few days ago I felt quite comfortable with.

Almost a year ago, I responded to my critics who accused me of changing my mind about Iraq by writing a post that tried to show how events can undercut long held assumptions and present you with the choice of being dishonest about how you truly feel by stretching your logic and reason in order to have your beliefs comport with your original assumptions or change the underlying assumptions on which you base your beliefs in order to reflect a new reality:

One by one, assumptions I had formed at the beginning of the war and occupation fell victim to changing realities in Iraq. This is not the same place it was 4 years ago nor is it even the same as it was a year ago. And if it has changed – if the facts, perceptions, and reality has changed, what did that do to the underlying justification for my opinions?

Once I began “reaching” to justify my opinions, I got very uncomfortable. The threads of logic became more tenuous the more I examined those pesky assumptions. I realized that many (not all) of my original assumptions were basically obsolete, done in by the cruel logic of domestic politics and a growing realization that the the US military could do everything that was asked of it and more and still come up short thanks to the balking politicians in Iraq, the twisted narrative of the war being spun by the left and the Democrats, Administration failures to implement a strategy that would win the war, and a growing belief that the country was sliding out of control.

So if you’re in my shoes, what do you do? Continue to defend a position you know is becoming untenable as a result of changing realities (and new information not available at the time you formed your original assumptions)? Or do you alter your assumptions and change your opinion?

Until I got on the internet, I always believed it was the mark of a thoughtful man to constantly challenge one’s beliefs and adjust them if necessary to the changing realities of the world. This is how I went from believing in liberalism to thinking like a conservative. There came a time after college graduation where liberal dogma refused to stand the test of rigorous self-examination and I gravitated toward a much more conservative worldview. Within that conservative framework, I have altered my opinions many times regarding many issues. For instance, I am much more conservative on immigration than I was even just a few years ago while I have perhaps moderated my views on issues like affirmative action and minority set asides.

Those are small examples but telling. Think about it. What kind of idiot – right or left – would maintain a mindless belief on an issue even after the original assumptions on which they based that conviction have been superseded by events or a different set of facts?

The situation in Iraq at the moment is quite fluid and not beyond repair. A return to some kind of status quo albeit with a weakened Maliki and suddenly ascendant al-Sadr is possible. But I think that some of those underlying assumptions about Iraq that I held just a week ago have proven themselves to be changing – and not for the better.

To wit:

1. It was always an assumption that the Iraqi militias would have to be destroyed or neutralized in order for peace and security to come to Iraq.

But 6 days of fighting in Basra shows that Iraqi army incapable of doing either. And any political solution regarding the militias would necessarily put them on the police force or in the army where their loyalties would always be suspect.

2. It has been an assumption from the beginning that the Iraqi army was capable of “standing up” without American assistance so that we could safely draw down our forces.

I don’t believe the Iraqi army did that badly in Basra. There are enough credible reports that they stood up to some pretty vicious assaults by the Mehdis and may, in some instances, have been facing an enemy with superior arms including heavy weapons not in their arsenal. What is clear is that the spin on this battle has been incredible. Reports of “defections” by the army to the Mehdis have been wildly exaggerated while every temporary setback by the Iraqi army was given glowing coverage.

But their performance was nevertheless disappointing. Their inability to make much headway against the Mehdi in most neighborhoods and their reliance on American and British air power shows that they still have a long way to go before they can handle internal security for the country much less beat off an invading army from Iran or Syria.

How much more training can we give them? My military friends who read this site will no doubt tell me that it is a very difficult task to build an army from scratch and that leadership on the battlefield is a difficult commodity to recognize and encourage. I will buy that notion but will also point out that there is a political clock ticking here at home and performances like that shown in Basra by the Iraqi army do not engender confidence that they can “stand up” before time runs out and Congress (or a new president) pulls the plug.

3. It has been an assumption that Malki could unite the country despite dragging his heels on reconciliation measures.

This is one that has been slipping away for months. In fact, Maliki is proving to be not a uniter but a divider, interested in pursuing power for his coalition at the expense of other Shia parties and the Sunni minority. This was certainly a large part of the rationale he used for entering Basra in the first place. And in the end, it may be his undoing.

4. It has been an assumption that al-Sadr must die.

Mookie may have become too large a player in Iraqi politics to take him out. He and his party have become the “agents of change” in the south where precious little has been done with regards to reconstruction of basic services like electricity and sewage. His power in the national government may be small but the power of the national government is nothing to shake a stick at. If nothing else, he has become a powerful regional actor who both the US and Maliki must now deal with. His ties to Iran notwithstanding, perhaps it is time to if not embrace him, at least stop trying to kill him and the Mehdi. In other words, turn a huge negative into a slightly net positive.

5. It has been an assumption that the Kurdish north is not a big problem and that we can allow the Iraqis to deal with security in that area.

This is definitely one of those assumptions that is changing. Al-Qaeda has made its presence known in Mosul and Kirkuk while a low intensity conflict between Shias and Kurds for control of the vital oil center of Kirkuk has been going on for almost a year. Is there anything the US can reasonably be expected to do to alter that situation?

6. It has been an assumption that the US must stay in Iraq in order to kill the remnants of al-Qaeda.

This is probably the strongest argument for maintaining a large combat force in Iraq. But the Sunni militias have proven that they are very effective in securing their neighborhoods against al-Qaeda attacks while also rooting out terrorist cells on their own. Will we soon get to a point where the Sunnis can “stand up” so we can “stand down?”

These are just a few of the underlying assumptions about Iraq that most reasonable people, I believe, would have to say are in flux at the moment. Does this mean I believe we should walk away from Iraq? Not at this point. But unless some of these basic assumptions about our role as occupier and friend of Iraq can be changed for the better, I can certainly envision a day where such a course of action would become self-evident.

By: Rick Moran at 8:10 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (27)

Maggie's Farm linked with Tuesday Links...

Anyone who is cheering on what is happening in Iraq probably also roots for crashes at NASCAR races and train derailments.

Admittedly, the situation is so confused and bloggers and the MSM are spinning the news to such dizzying lengths that getting a semi-clear picture of what is actually transpiring in Basra, in Kut, even in Baghdad has become a guessing game.

We know that after some initial success, the Iraqi army is bogged down in a battle for Basra that has degenerated into running gun battles with Mehdi militiamen who appear to be equally or better armed than the US supplied government troops.

There is word that American air power is being employed to help the Iraqi army:

The air strikes are the clearest sign yet that the coalition forces have been drawn into the fighting in Basra. Up until Thursday night, the American and British air forces insisted that the Iraqis had taken the lead, though they acknowledged surveillance support for the Iraqi Army.

The assault on militia forces in Basra has been presented by President Bush and others as an important test for the American-trained Iraqi forces, to show that they can carry out a major ground operation against insurgents largely on their own.

But the air strikes suggest that the Iraqi military has been unable to successfully rout the militias, despite repeated assurances by American and Iraqi officials that their fighting capabilities have vastly improved.

A failure by the Iraqi forces to secure the port city of Basra would be a serious embarrassment for the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and for the Iraqi Army, as well as for American forces who are eager to demonstrate that the Iraqi units they have trained can fight effectively.

The airstrikes were against a “Mahdi stronghold” and a mortar position, according to the Times who quoted American military sources.

Bombing in residential areas nearly always results in collateral damage to surrounding buildings. This almost certainly isn’t making residents of Basra very happy to see us.

But the tell here is the fact that we bombed a “mortar team” for the Iraqi army.

Now I hate to get into areas where my expertise is limited but don’t Americans learn how to take a fortified position in basic training? Isn’t that like “Soldiering 101?” Correct me if I’m wrong but why, after three years of training can’t Iraqi troops manage this feat on their own?

I would take that as a sign that the Iraqi army, while not throwing down their arms and fleeing in terror, are not up to the challenge of operating independently yet. And this begs the question of why Prime Minister Maliki gave the go-ahead for this operation?

Daniel Davies asks some questions that I haven’t seen anywhere else:

John is right to be suspicious of this kind of “this looks like such a stupid idea that he must have some private information that explains it all” argument, and there was always the possibility that in fact, it just looked crazy because it was crazy – either a reckless desperation gamble, a wholly unrealistic assessment of the situation or a calculated attempt to precipitate enough of a crisis to force the USA to commit more resources. With the Maliki forces seemingly having made no progess toward their objective in Basra, and with rioting and curfews in Baghdad and actual armed battles in Kut, it looks like Maliki’s gamble is going badly wrong. Napoleon’s maxim is relevant here; “if you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna!” – having picked the fight, Maliki absolutely had to win it, and failure here is likely to mean political failure too.

It’s hard to see a good way out of this. John’s prediction record here is substantially better than mine, and he thinks that we settle back down to a lower-energy state of affairs, with some kind of renegotiated ceasefire, but I’m now less optimistic than that. It seems to me that Moqtada al-Sadr’s control over the movement bearing his name is weakening; the man himself is in Qom, Iran, studying Islamic scripture and trying to stay out of trouble[2]. Meanwhile, the Mehdi Army[3] has clearly been getting more and more restless over the six months of ceasefire and still seems to me to be potentially quite fissiparous. The really interesting question to which I don’t know the answer is; to what extent do the uprisings across Shia Iraq reflect different branches of the Mehdi Army supporting one another, and to what extent are they local flare-ups which were precipitated by the attack on Basra but not coordinated responses to it?

First, I think going after the Mahdi was the next logical step for the government to take if they were ever going to have a “monopoly on violence” in the country. Basra and most of the surrounding towns and villages were lawless outposts ruled by gangs, rogue militias, and party warlords who vied for control in a low intensity conflict that the Brits couldn’t handle because of their sensitivity to suffering too many casualties. It would be a huge boost to the government’s credibility with Sunnis and many Shias if they could reduce the power of the Mahdi in Basra while gaining control of the region.

Second, Maliki is no doubt looking to the provincial elections in the fall and feared al-Sadr’s influence and especially his ability to rig elections in the south to give the Mahdi a favorable outcome. Pure power politics has its uses when everyone has a gun.

Third, I have little doubt that the Americans have been urging this course of action on Maliki for a long time. Not only will emasculating the Mahdi help the security situation in Iraq, but a demonstration of armed prowess by the Iraqi army would be good for the American electorate and especially GOP Congressmen who are getting antsy about funding the war with so little in the way of proof that the Iraqi military is coming along and will be able to handle security well enough that we can start to draw down our forces significantly.

But it is hard to see how this can end up a net positive for Maliki unless he destroys the Mahdi Army. That’s becaue any negotiated end to the fighting with the Mahdi still in Basra will be spun as a victory by al-Sadr – just as he spun his defeat in Najaf as a victory over the Americans.

This is from a Mahdi militiaman who was on the Basra police force and who took off his uniform to join his comrades in this fight against the Iraqi army:

“We know the outcome of the fighting in advance because we already defeated the British in the streets of Basra and forced them to withdraw to their base,” Abu Iman told The Times.

“If we go back a bit, everyone remembers the fight with the US in Najaf and the damage and defeat we inflicted on them. Do you think the Iraqi Army is better than those armies? We are right and the Government is wrong. [Nouri al] Maliki [the Iraqi Prime Minister] is driving his Government into the ground.”

According to the Times Online, several hundred of these policemen (out of 10,000) switched sides – not unexpected given the level of infiltration by the militias in the police force but worrying nonetheless.

With fighting breaking out in several other southern cities, Maliki may have bitten off more than the Iraqi army can chew. And that doesn’t include the fighting in Baghdad where the Iraqis aren’t even attempting to enter Sadr City, leaving that job to the US military:

U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in Sadr City, the vast Shiite stronghold in eastern Baghdad, as an offensive to quell party-backed militias entered its third day. Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the area as American troops took the lead in the fighting.

Four U.S. Stryker armored vehicles were seen in Sadr City by a Washington Post correspondent, one of them engaging Mahdi Army militiamen with heavy fire. The din of American weapons, along with the Mahdi Army’s AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, was heard through much of the day. U.S. helicopters and drones buzzed overhead.

The clashes suggested that American forces were being drawn more deeply into a broad offensive that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, launched in the southern city of Basra on Tuesday, saying death squads, criminal gangs and rogue militias were the targets. The Mahdi Army of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite rival of Maliki, appeared to have taken the brunt of the attacks; fighting spread to many southern cities and parts of Baghdad.

We’ve used our airpower in Sadr City as well – a move that saved American lives I’m sure but I am equally certain that bombing a residential area also made a poor impression on the people who live there. And for the fourth day in a row, the Green Zone is getting hit hard:
Baghdad was on virtual lockdown Friday as a tough new curfew ordered everyone off the streets of the Iraqi capital and five other cities until 5 p.m. Sunday.

That restriction didn’t stop someone from firing rockets and mortar rounds into the capital’s heavily fortified International Zone, commonly known as the Green Zone. One slammed into the office of one of Iraq’s vice presidents, Tareq al-Hashemi, killing two guards.

An American government worker also was killed in rocket and mortar attacks Thursday in the International Zone.

U.S. warplanes pounded Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood Friday, killing six people and wounding 10.

Who is doing the shooting? Please don’t ask the American State Department:
U.S. State Department official Richard Schmierer said the rocket attacks appeared to be coming from fighters affiliated with al-Sadr who were “trying to make a statement” about the government offensive in Basra. He blamed the violence on “marginal extremist elements” who have associated themselves with the Sadrist movement.

When one of those “statements” kills an American and another crashes into the office of the 3rd ranking political figure in Iraq while the entire 2 million residents of Sadr City are being terrorized by thousands of Mehdi Army militiamen who have ordered shops and schools closed, you have to think that the resistance goes a little beyond “marginal extremist elements.”

It seems to me that the Iraqi government is already starting to weigh the domestic unrest caused by this move against any gains that might be made in Basra. If so, expect a cease fire by the end of the weekend and a humiliating pullback by Iraqi troops leaving the field to the Mehdi Army.

By: Rick Moran at 12:50 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (21) Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with US Airstrike Kills at Least 4 in Baghdad...