April 30, 2007
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States."
-- Noah Webster, 1787 - An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution
Remember the mission
Jeff Emanuel, over at RedState is currently in Iraq and talking to our troops. In his latest post, he relates several conversations concerning whether or not America should pull out of Iraq yet.
From snipers, to IEDs, to the dirty conditions, to the long days, week, and months of thankless work in a country which is still being stitched back together, there are a thousand reasons why the troops should be unhappy, and a thousand excuses for why they might be right to side with those who are calling for an immediate withdrawal. However, despite all of the negatives, the overwhelming consensus among those with whom I have spoken to this point is not a belief that we have done everything we can here, and should therefore leave. The belief amongst the troops here, as exemplified by the aforementioned infantry Captain’s statement, is that these people deserve a chance at a better way of life, and that, rather than abandon them to a fate of certain death at the hands of ruthless sectarians, insurgents, and terrorists, we should continue to do everything we can to help rebuild and secure this nation, and to smash those who would destroy what the Iraqi people are building before they can be successful in doing so.
Surrender is not an option to the American fighting force – and they know that very well. Abandoning Iraq while the mission is still unfinished is not an option being entertained by any of the soldiers with whom I have spoken to this point; rather, it appears to be solely the purview of those at home who think that they know better than the soldiers themselves what is good for them. What the troops appear to really want is to be given the support and the resources which will allow them to complete their mission – and, more than anything else, the time to do so successfully.
There is a lot of good information in this series of dispatches from Iraq. I highly recommend you go read them all and check back often to catch the latest posts.
An OpinionJournal editorial is speaking truth to stupidity: "Democrats are taking ownership of a defeat in Iraq."
I've reprinted the entire article beneath the fold.
Democrats are taking ownership of a defeat in Iraq.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDTWe're going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war. Senator Schumer has shown me numbers that are compelling and astounding.
--Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, April 12.
Gen. David Petraeus is in Washington this week, where on Monday he briefed President Bush on the progress of the new military strategy in Iraq. Today he will give similar briefings on Capitol Hill, but maybe he should save his breath. As fellow four-star Harry Reid recently informed America, the war Gen. Petraeus is fighting and trying to win is already "lost."
Mr. Reid has since tried to "clarify" that remark, and in a speech Monday he laid out his own strategy for Iraq. But perhaps we ought to be grateful for his earlier candor in laying out the strategic judgment--and nakedly political rationale--that underlies the latest Congressional bid to force a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq starting this fall. By doing so, he and the Democrats are taking ownership of whatever ugly outcome follows a U.S. defeat in Iraq.
This isn't to say that the Administration hasn't made its share of major blunders in this war. But at least Mr. Bush and his commanders are now trying to make up for these mistakes with a strategy to put Prime Minister Maliki's government on a stronger footing, secure Baghdad and the Sunni provinces against al Qaeda and allow for an eventual, honorable, U.S. withdrawal. That's more than can be said for Mr. Reid and the Democratic left, who are making the job for our troops more difficult by undermining U.S. morale and Iraqi confidence in American support.
In his speech Monday, Mr. Reid claimed that "nothing has changed" since the surge began taking effect in February. It's true that the car bombings and U.S. casualties continue, and may increase. But such an enemy counterattack was to be expected, aimed as it is directly at the Democrats in Washington. The real test of the surge is whether it can secure enough of the population to win their cooperation and gradually create fewer safe havens for the terrorists.
So far, the surge is meeting that test, even before the additional troops Mr. Bush ordered have been fully deployed. Between February and March sectarian violence declined by 26%, according to Gen. William Caldwell. Security in Baghdad has improved sufficiently to allow the government to shorten its nightly curfew. Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has been politically marginalized, which explains his apparent departure from Iraq and the resignation of his minions from Mr. Maliki's parliamentary coalition--a sign that moderate Shiites are gaining strength at his expense.
More significantly, most Sunni tribal sheikhs are now turning against al Qaeda and cooperating with coalition and Iraqi forces. What has turned these sheikhs isn't some grand "political solution," which Mr. Reid claims is essential for Iraq's salvation. They've turned because they have tired of being fodder for al Qaeda's strategy of fomenting a civil war with a goal of creating a Taliban regime in Baghdad, or at least in Anbar province. The sheikhs realize that they will probably lose such a civil war now that the Shiites are as well-armed as the insurgents and prepared to be just as ruthless. Their best chance for survival now lies with a democratic government in Baghdad. The political solution becomes easier the stronger Mr. Maliki and Iraqi government forces are, and strengthening both is a major goal of the surge.
By contrast, Mr. Reid's strategy of withdrawal will only serve to enlarge the security vacuum in which Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents have thrived. That's also true of what an American withdrawal will mean for the broader Middle East. Mr. Reid says that by withdrawing from Iraq we will be better able to take on al Qaeda and a nuclear Iran. But the reality (to use Mr. Reid's new favorite word) is that we are fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, and if we lose there we will only make it harder to prevail in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Countries do not usually win wars by losing their biggest battles.
As for Iran, Mr. Reid's strategy of defeat would guarantee that the radical mullahs of Tehran have more influence in Baghdad than the moderate Shiites of Najaf. It would also make the mullahs even more confident that they can build a bomb with impunity and no fear of any Western response.
The stakes in Iraq are about the future of the entire Middle East--and of our inevitable involvement in it. In calling for withdrawal, Mr. Reid and his allies, just as with Vietnam, may think they are merely following polls that show the public is unhappy with the war. Yet Americans will come to dislike a humiliation and its aftermath even more, especially as they realize that a withdrawal from Iraq now will only make it harder to stabilize the region and defeat Islamist radicals. And they will like it even less should we be required to re-enter the country someday under far worse circumstances.
This is the outcome toward which the "lost" Democrats and Harry Reid are heading, and for which they will be responsible if it occurs. The alternative is to fight for a stable Iraqi government that can control the country and keep it together in a federal, democratic system. As long as such an outcome is within reach, it is our responsibility to achieve it.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
Retired General Barry McCaffrey visited Iraq in March of this year, and filed an after action report that was forwarded to me from a trusted source. He makes a frank assessment of the situation in Iraq and our military's capacity to successfully accomplish the mission there -- including how it is affecting the troops.
We are at the “knee of the curve.” Two million+ troops of the smallest active Army force since WWII have served in the war zone. Some active units have served three, four, or even five combat deployments. We are now routinely extending nearly all combat units in both Iraq and Afghanistan. These combat units are being returned to action in some cases with only 7-12 months of stateside time to re-train and re-equip. The current deployment requirement of 20+ brigades to Iraq and 2+ brigades in Afghanistan is not sustainable.
We will be forced to call up as many as nine National Guard combat brigades for an involuntary second combat tour this coming year. (Dr Chu at DOD has termed this as “no big deal.”) Many believe that this second round of involuntary call-ups will topple the weakened National Guard structure--- which is so central to US domestic security. The National Guard Bureau has argued for a call up of only 12 months instead of 18 months. This misses the point—DOD will without fail be forced to also extend these National Guard brigades in combat at the last minute given the continuation of the current emergency situation.
Iraq’s neighbors are a problem--- not part of the solution (with the exception of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait). They provide little positive political or economic support to the Maliki government.
Our allies are leaving to include the courageous and well equipped Brit’s—by January 2008 we will be largely on our own.
In summary, the US Armed Forces are in a position of strategic peril. A disaster in Iraq will in all likelihood result in a widened regional struggle which will endanger America’s strategic interests (oil) in the Mid-east for a generation. We will also produce another generation of soldiers who lack confidence in their American politicians, the media, and their own senior military leadership.
He goes on to make a thorough examination of the situation in that country and finds some reason for optimism.
In my judgment, we can still achieve our objective of: a stable Iraq, at peace with its neighbors, not producing weapons of mass destruction, and fully committed to a law-based government. The courage and strength of the US Armed Forces still gives us latitude and time to build the economic and political conditions that might defuse the ongoing civil war. Our central purpose is to allow the nation to re-establish governance based on some loose federal consensus among the three major ethnic-factional actors. (Shia, Sunni, Kurd.)
But he cautions that we're running out of time:
We have very little time left. This President will have the remainder of his months in office beleaguered by his political opponents to the war. The democratic control of Congress and its vocal opposition can actually provide a helpful framework within which our brilliant new Ambassador Ryan Crocker can maneuver the Maliki administration to understand their diminishing options. It is very unlikely that the US political opposition can constitutionally force the President into retreat. However, our next President will only have 12 months or less to get Iraq straight before he/she is forced to pull the plug. Therefore, our planning horizons should assume that there are less than 36 months remaining of substantial US troop presence in Iraq. The insurgency will continue in some form for a decade. This suggests the fundamental dilemma facing US policymakers.
Download and read the whole thing.
April 29, 2007
"No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands]."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1776 - Draft Constitution for the State of Virginia
April 28, 2007
"O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone; and you have no longer an aristocratical, no longer a democratical spirit. Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all?"
-- Patrick Henry, 1778 - speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention
In the Haditha case. It seems that an intel officer produced exculpatory evidence that shows the whole incident was manufactured by the terrorists and magnified by our media.
In a nutshell, the case exploded when an intelligence officer dropped a bombshell on prosecutors during a pre-hearing interview when he revealed the existence of exculpatory evidence that appears to have been obtained by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and withheld from the prosecutors.
This officer, described by senior Marine Corps superiors as one of the best and most dedicated intelligence officers in the entire Marine Corps, was in possession of evidence which provided a minute-by-minute narrative of the entire day's action — material which he had amassed while monitoring the day's action in his capacity as the battalion's intelligence officer. That material, he says, was also in the hands of the NCIS.
Much of that evidence remains classified, but it includes videos of the entire day's action, including airstrikes against insurgent safe houses. Also included was all of the radio traffic describing the ongoing action between the men on the ground and battalion headquarters, and proof that the Marines were aware that the insurgents conducting the ambush of the Kilo Company troops were videotaping the action — the same video that after editing ended up in the hands of a gullible anti-war correspondent for Time magazine.
When asked by the prosecution team to give his copies of the evidence to the prosecution, he told NewsMax.com that he was reluctant to do so, fearing it would again be suppressed or misused, but later relented when ordered by his commanding general to do so.
Go read the whole thing.
April 27, 2007
"There is something so far-fetched and so extravagant in the idea of danger to liberty from the militia that one is at a loss whether to treat it with gravity or with raillery; whether to consider it as a mere trial of skill, like the paradoxes of rhetoricians; as a disingenuous artifice to instil prejudices at any price; or as the serious."
-- Alexander Hamilton, 1788 - Federalist No. 29
The media as Hezbollah's weapon
World Politics Watch reports on a Harvard study titled: "The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict." Here's how the report begins:
While the war between Israel and Hezbollah raged in Lebanon and Israel last summer, it became clear that media coverage had itself started to play an important role in determining the ultimate outcome of that war. It seemed clear that news coverage would affect the course of the conflict. And it quickly transpired that Hezbollah would become the beneficiary of the media's manipulation.
A close examination of the media's role during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon comes now from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, in an analysis of the war published in a paper whose subtitle should give pause to journalists covering international conflict: "The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict." Marvin Kalb, of Harvard's Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, methodically traces the transformation of the media "from objective observer to fiery advocate." Kalb painstakingly details how Hezbollah exercised absolute control over how journalists portrayed its side of the conflict, while Israel became "victimized by its own openness."
Go read the rest.
Recall Harry Reid
David Broder, a Democrat, has some harsh words to say about the Dishonorable Harry Reid. And he backs them up with facts.
Everyone got that? This war is lost. But the war can be won. Not since Bill Clinton famously pondered the meaning of the word "is" has a Democratic leader confused things as much as Harry Reid did with his inept discussion of the alternatives in Iraq.
Nor is this the first time Senate Democrats, who chose Reid as their leader over Chris Dodd of Connecticut, have had to ponder the political fallout from one of Reid's tussles with the language.
Hailed by his staff as "a strong leader who speaks his mind in direct fashion," Reid is assuredly not a man who misses many opportunities to put his foot in his mouth. In 2005, he attacked Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, as "one of the biggest political hacks we have here in Washington."
He called President Bush " a loser," then apologized. He said that Bill Frist, then Senate majority leader, had "no institutional integrity" because Frist planned to leave the Senate to fulfill a term-limits pledge. Then he apologized to Frist.
Most of these earlier gaffes were personal, bespeaking a kind of displaced aggressiveness on the part of the onetime amateur boxer. But Reid's verbal wanderings on the war in Iraq are consequential -- not just for his party and the Senate but for the more important question of what happens to U.S. policy in that violent country and to the men and women whose lives are at stake.
Religion and raising children
LiveScience is reporting on a study about child-rearing and religion -- and it reaches some interesting conclusions.
The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services—especially when both parents did so frequently—and talked with their kids about religion were rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents.
Parents arguing about religious faith, unsurprisingly, had a deleterious effect.
Go read it all.
April 26, 2007
"The whole of that Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals...[I]t establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of."
-- Albert Gallatin, 1789 - letter to Alexander Addison
Support the troops: wear red on Fridays
Let's all support our troops by wearing red every Friday. Southwest Airlines is doing it . . .
And so will I.
A message from Iraq
J.D. Johannes has a post up with a message From Lt. Ala of the Iraq Army.
"Thank you for being here. Thank you. You are a reporter? Tell America how much we appreciate Marines. Tell the people thank you and that we want the Marines, the Army here to help us."
This from a man who has twice fought against American troops and became a field grade officer in Saddam Hussein's military.
I recommend you read the whole post . . .
The story of Jessica Lynch
Richard S. Lowry provides a well-researched perspective on the story of Jessica Lynch's capture and subsequent rescue. Here's how he begins:
TODAY, THE HOUSE Committee on Oversight and Government Reform chaired by Henry Waxman (D-CA) conducted a hearing into "misleading military statements" that followed the death of Pat Tillman and the ordeal of Jessica Lynch. I cannot speak of the Pat Tillman incident, but I can speak to the story of Jessica Lynch.
I spent more than two years of my life studying the battle of An Nasiriyah. I read thousands of pages of government reports and personally interviewed nearly one-hundred of the participants of the battle, including four survivors of the 507th Maintenance Company's ambush, several Marines who came upon the scene of the ambush, a young Marine who worked in the regimental intelligence shop and was responsible for the safekeeping of Jessica's personal effects, and several of the soldiers, sailors, and Marines who were actually involved in her rescue. The results of my research were published last year in Marines in the Garden of Eden.
Following her rescue, unsubstantiated reports abounded, the media made a variety of assertions: Jessica Lynch was a pretty teenage girl who had been subjected to the ravages of an unjust war. She had been sent into battle with inadequate equipment and protection. After taking a wrong turn, Iraqis feigning surrender had ambushed her unit. Yet, she bravely fought off the enemy until she could resist no longer. Because of the incompetence of the leadership in Washington, D.C., she had been taken prisoner by evil Iraqis who did unspeakable things to her.
This was the type of story that had "legs." Every news producer in America salivated when they read the first copy. They knew that their ratings would skyrocket when the story of this fragile American girl was told. This was the type of story that would go down in history. There was only one problem -- most of the story wasn't true.
Go read the rest.
[Via John at OPFOR.]
April 25, 2007
"[W]hereas, to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them; nor does it follow from this, that all promiscuously must go into actual service on every occasion. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle; and when we see many men disposed to practice upon it, whenever they can prevail, no wonder true republicans are for carefully guarding against it."
-- Federal Farmer, 1778 - Antifederalist Letter, No.18
How our media is manipulated
J.D. Johannes, embedded with the Marines in Anbar Province, reports on a Washington Post report about a terrorist attack -- and then explains how the WaPo article is woefully inaccurate -- because he witnessed the attack in person.
Here is what really happened, along with some astute observations:
AQIZ's attack on Blackfoot, 1-501 was a dismal failure.
The two SVBIED plan is for the first to breach the wall or knock out a tower, allowing the second to enter the OP's compound.
The only thing the SVBIEDs accomplished was creating a crater 25-feet deep and 70-feet in diameter 50 yards from the south wall of OP Omar.
If a coalition assault on an AQIZ base ever failed so miserably, the press and certain members of Congress would be in an uproar. But AQI doesn't hold press conferences and conflates the facts in its press releases.
No American service members were killed. Only one was wounded seriously enough to warrant a medevac--a large piece of shrapnel in his arm.
The fact that AQIZ was able to stage a complex attack on OP Omar should be taken for what it was--an attempt at the spectacular that was a spectacular failure.
In the days after the attack, there was little no enemy contact in OP Omar's district and only limited contact in the Karmah AO.
I will not hazard a guess as to whether another complex attack is in the wings for Omar or any of the other OPs in Karmah, but my anecdotal experience is that once AQIZ gives it all they got in an area and fail, they lose their grip.
I expect as the debates rage in Congress, AQIZ will step up the rate of complex attacks.
The enemy was not able to dislodge the paratroopers of Blackfoot from OP Omar, but Congress may be more successful.
Go read this post -- and others in the Outside the Wire blog. It will open your eyes to the fact that when our news media gives us a glimpse of Iraq, we are looking through a glass darkly . . .
Clear, hold, and build . . .
. . . is working in Ramadi. Despite the Dishonorable Harry Reid's opinion.
Ramadi is not an isolated example. There is progress across Al Anbar province. According to coalition briefings, attacks in the province are at a two-year low. Tips to coalition forces are soaring. U.S. troops used to find only 50% of IEDs. Now they are defusing 80% before they detonate. (Al Qaeda in Iraq has responded with chlorine gas bombs. In other words, using chemical weapons against Sunni civilians — not a tactic likely to win over the populace.)
The question is whether this success can be replicated in Iraq's nerve center. The challenges in Baghdad are considerably more daunting because of its size (6 million residents versus 1.5 million in all of Al Anbar province) and its sectarian fault lines. And, even when the surge is completed in June, Baghdad will not have as many troops on a per capita basis as Ramadi.
But given enough time and resources, the "clear, hold and build" strategy that worked in Ramadi — and that has worked in Tall Afar, Qaim and other cities — could succeed in Baghdad too. Unless, of course, antiwar politicians back home succeed in pulling the plug, in which case defeat is guaranteed.
April 24, 2007
"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."
-- Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishment, quoted by Thomas Jefferson in Commonplace Book
Stop the war
Mohammed at Iraq the Model supports ending the war by eliminating the murderous terrorists who are perpetuating it.
What did the last wave of terror attacks and the many crimes committed against our people all this time reveal?
If we look at how the media handles the situation we'll find something like this almost everywhere;
Dozens killed, scores wounded in attacks suggest failure of security measures…
It's as if the speaker here wants to only emphasize the defect in security measures in a way that honestly angers and disgusts me.
When shall they realize, if ever, that we are dealing with brutal crimes against humanity, a genocide against the people of Iraq? Why don't people talk about the cruelty of the crimes and expose the obvious goals of the terrorists behind the crimes?
Isn't it everyone's duty to expose the criminals, describe their sick ways and purposes and alert the world about the danger?
Where are the media when terrorists use chlorine poisonous gas, acids, and ball bearings to kill and hurt more and more civilians in utter disregard to all written and unwritten laws, ethics and values?
I understand it's the duty of the media to practice scrutiny over the work of governments but isn't it equally their duty to expose criminals and their evil deeds?
It's frustrating to see the media turn a blind eye to the nature of the crimes and open fire on an honest endeavor to restore peace to a bleeding nation. I'm sure the terrorists are pleased by the coverage. Why not, when their crimes are being portrayed as successful breakthroughs against the efforts of Iraq and America it's likely motivating them to keep up the killing.
Would it be "hate speech" to expose the terrorists for what they are?
I think our hate for their crimes must not be hidden; there is no shame in hating those blood-thirsty monsters.
Even more appalling I see and hear some people who think the solution is to end the war from our end and I can't find an argument more naïve than this—I've seen enough wars in my life that I can't remember a day when there was peace and I hate wars more than they can imagine. But we didn't start his war; it's the terrorists who started this war against life.
Instead of telling us to stop fighting back, I'd like to see some people stand up and protest the crimes of the terrorists and tell them to stop the killing and destruction…turn the stop-the-war campaign against the terrorists, is that too much to ask for?
Tell the criminals to stop killing us and stop attacking the people who are risking their lives fighting for liberty and equality.
We're not asking the media and the stop-the-war crowd to carry arms and shoot the terrorists; we just want them to stop shooting at us.
The Dishonorable Harry Reid should read this . . .
Maybe we've already won
J.D. Johannes, journalist and independent documentary maker, is currently embedded with the Marins in Anbar Provice, Iraq. He has a post in his blog that describes how the war is being won -- and how far it has succeeded in Anbar. Here's his conclusion:
A Marine Officer offered this thought to me, "could it be that we have won the war but are too dense to realize it?" From what I saw in Khalidiyah, I would say we are on track. Time will tell if the watchmen and IP will continue to progress and eventually choke out the jihadists. But from what I saw in my time, maybe they already have.
Read the whole post.
April 23, 2007
"The house of representatives...can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. This has always been deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the people together. It creates between them that communion of interest, and sympathy of sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every government degenerates into tyranny."
-- James Madison, 1788 - Federalist No. 57
April 22, 2007
"Those gentlemen, who will be elected senators, will fix themselves in the federal town, and become citizens of that town more than of your state."
-- George Mason, 1788 - speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention
Sally C. Pipes, of the Pacific Research Institute, has some rational, unheated words to say about global warming. Here's how she begins:
As Earth Day dawns for the 38th year, climate change tops the agenda of environmental activists, thanks to former Vice President Al Gore’s Oscar-winning documentary and a flurry of scientific studies attempting to make sense of our planet’s dynamic climate.
The Supreme Court has even entered the act, ordering the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
But don’t invest your life’s savings in windmills and solar-powered air conditioners just yet. While the earth does seem to have warmed slightly over the past century, the causes and implications are anything but clear. Moreover, the last ten years have seen a global plateau in temperature change.
Those who claim that we’re racing towards a fiery apocalypse are simply not basing their views on science. In fact, some scientists are now hypothesizing that we’ll see a cooling period in the near future, as we saw from 1940 to 1975.
Go read the rest.
April 21, 2007
"Such will be the relation between the House of Representatives and their constituents. Duty gratitude, interest, ambition itself, are the cords by which they will be bound to fidelity and sympathy with the great mass of the people."
-- James Madison, 1788 - Federalist No. 57
Aggies gathered together on June 26, 1883 to live over again their college days, the victories and defeats won and lost upon the drill field and classroom. Eventually the annual gathering evolved into a celebration of Texas Independence on San Jacinto Day – April 21st. Over time the tradition has changed, but its very essence has remained “If there is an A&M man in one hundred miles of you, you are expected to get together, eat a little, and live over the days you spent at the A&M College of Texas.” Muster is celebrated in more than four hundred places worldwide, with the largest ceremony on the Texas A&M campus in College Station.
Muster is a time to look to the past, present, and future…not only to grieve but to reflect and to celebrate the lives that connect us to one another. A gesture so simple in nature yet so lasting in spirit, Muster is the lasting impression every Aggie leaves with us; it reminds us of the greatness that lies within these walls, of the loyalty we possess, of the connection that binds us, and of the idea that every Aggie has a place of importance – whether they are present in flesh or spirit.
Harry Reid: Slicker than goose poop*
Austin Bay discusses Senator Harry Reid's disgraceful, defeatist remarks about the war in Iraq. And he talks about how Harry is lying for political benefit.
Harry Reid Declares War Lost — sort of
Filed under: General— site admin @ 4:36 pm
Yup. He sure did. Harry Reid unequivocally called the war lost.
His headline, directed at readers of The DailyKos:
“Now I believe myself . . . that this war is lost, and that the surge is not accomplishing anything, as indicated by the extreme violence in Iraq yesterday,” said Reid, of Nevada.
But then he carefully squiggles, weaves, and pedals:
“The (Iraq) war can only be won diplomatically, politically and economically, and the president needs to come to that realization,” Reid said.
What a slickee boy. It’s lost, but can only be won, if…Hmmm.
There are (and have been) four lines of operation in Iraq: security (military ops,building Iraqi defense capabilities), governmental (political participation and structure building), information (intel, media, and political perception), and economic (economic development, infrastructure creation).
No, the War on Terror and its Iraq phase are not lost. They certainly haven’t been lost militarily, and Reid knows it. Since mid-April 2003 the economic and governmental components have been the decisive dimensions. Check Iraq’s GDP — it’s growing. Its elected a democratic government. The Saddamists, Al Qaeda, and Iranian-influenced Shia militias have had enormous information successes. Senator Reid and I might discuss why that’s the case. One reason is that they are not penalized by the conventional media and the Left for a campaign of mass murder overwhelmingly directed against Iraqi civilians. You want to help end the terror in Iraq? Condemn the terrorists as the Cho-like psychopaths they are. Deny them the false celebrity they gain when dubbed “insurgents.”
It would be refreshing if Reid even had the courage of his defeatist convictions.
Thing is, his “convictions” aren’t convictions. They are political postures, and this statement is an example of his political game. He tosses a line to the Dems’ defeatist nuts then edges toward reality with an oily pirouette.
UPDATE: I am now listening to the tv (not reading a wireservice report) and it appears Reid added his caveat later. So he doesn’t even score clever points. It’s still an example of his political game. As soon as the going gets tough, Reid and his constituents waver. Pathetic. No, not merely pathetic, dangerous and demoralizing.
Remind me again why we wanted the Democrats to be the majority party in Congress . . . ?
* and full of same . . .
Senator Reid: When you say we've lost in Iraq, I don't think you understand the effect of your words. The Iraqis I speak with are the good guys here, fighting to build a stable government. They hear what you say, but they don't understand it. They don't know about the political game, they don't know about a Presidential veto, and they don't know about party politics. But they do know that if they help us, they are noticed by terrorists and extremists. They decide to help us if they think we can protect them from those terrorists. They tell us where caches of weapons are hidden. They call and report small groups of men who are strangers to the neighborhood, men that look the same to us, but are obvious to them as a foreign suicide cell.
To be brief, your words are killing us. Your statements make the Iraqis afraid to help us for fear we'll leave them unprotected in the future. They don't report a cache, and its weapons blow up my friends in a convoy. They don't report a foreign fighter, and that fighter sends a mortar onto my base. Your statements are noticed, and they have an effect.
Finally, you are mistaken when you say we are losing. We are winning, I see it every day. However, we will win with fewer casualties if you help us. Will you?
LT Jason Nichols, USN
Lt. Nichols is being kind. Harry Reid's treasonous words are causing additional deaths in Iraq right now. The guy is a snake.
C.R. Hardy has an introspective essay in which she considers the existence of Hell.
Four years before 9/11, the summer after my junior year in college, I had my own encounter with hell on earth. I was sitting in the back of an ugly, old tour-bus when the girl I was traveling with, a friend of just two weeks, asked me out of nowhere (it seemed to me), Do you believe that hell exists? I was somewhat annoyed, once the question had registered. We had just visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. The rest of us were sitting quietly, trying to process the scale of the awfulness we had just seen, trying to understand why those people had to suffer the loss of everything — there we were, sitting on a comfortable tour bus on our way to our third comfortable meal of the day right smack in the middle of a very comfortable life. We were squirming. And my friend, annoyingly, wanted to make this personal.
[Via Annika's Journal.]
April 20, 2007
"As our president bears no resemblance to a king so we shall see the Senate has no similitude to nobles. First, not being hereditary, their collective knowledge, wisdom, and virtue are not precarious. For by these qualities alone are they to obtain their offices, and they will have none of the peculiar qualities and vices of those men who possess power merely because their father held it before them."
-- Tench Coxe, 1787 - An American Citizen, No.2
On sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs
LTC Dave Grossman (Ret) has a compelling essay that explains the three types of people in this world". He begins with a quote from William Bennett about honor.
Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself. The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for? What is worth living for?
- William J. Bennett - in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997
Then he goes into the three types of people. It is a very interesting essay. Highly recommended.
April 19, 2007
"The rich, the well-born, and the able, acquire and influence among the people that will soon be too much for simple honesty and plain sense, in a house of representatives. The most illustrious of them must, therefore, be separated from the mass, and placed by themselves in a senate; this is, to all honest and useful intents, an ostracism."
-- John Adams, 1787 - A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, vol 1
Iraq in the balance
Fouad Ajami has an excellent editorial at OpinionJournal about the current situation in Iraq -- and the dichotomy between Iraqis' perception of the war, and Americans'.
I've reprinted it in the extended entry.
You should read it.
Iraq in the Balance
In Washington, panic. In Baghdad, cautious optimism.
BY FOUAD AJAMI
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
BAGHDAD--For 35 years the sun did not shine here," said a man on the grounds of the great Shia shrine of al-Kadhimiyyah, on the outskirts of Baghdad. I had come to the shrine at night, in the company of the Shia politician Ahmed Chalabi.
We had driven in an armed convoy, and our presence had drawn a crowd. The place was bathed with light, framed by multiple minarets--a huge rectangular structure, its beauty and dereliction side by side. The tile work was exquisite, there were deep Persian carpets everywhere, the gifts of benefactors, rulers and merchants, drawn from the world of Shi'ism.
It was a cool spring night, and beguilingly tranquil. (There were the echoes of a firefight across the river, from the Sunni neighborhood of al-Adhamiyyah, but it was background noise and oddly easy to ignore.) A keeper of the shrine had been showing us the place, and he was proud of its doors made of teak from Burma--a kind of wood, he said, that resisted rain, wind and sun. It was to that description that the quiet man on the edge of this gathering had offered the thought that the sun had not risen during the long night of Baathist despotism.
A traveler who moves between Baghdad and Washington is struck by the gloomy despair in Washington and the cautious sense of optimism in Baghdad. Baghdad has not been prettified; its streets remain a sore to the eye, its government still hunkered down in the Green Zone, and violence is never far. But the sense of deliverance, and the hopes invested in this new security plan, are palpable. I crisscrossed the city--always with armed protection--making my way to Sunni and Shia politicians and clerics alike. The Sunni and Shia versions of political things--of reality itself--remain at odds. But there can be discerned, through the acrimony, the emergence of a fragile consensus.
Some months back, the Bush administration had called into question both the intentions and capabilities of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. But this modest and earnest man, born in 1950, a child of the Shia mainstream in the Middle Euphrates, has come into his own. He had not been a figure of the American regency in Baghdad. Steeped entirely in the Arabic language and culture, he had a been a stranger to the Americans; fate cast him on the scene when the Americans pushed aside Mr. Maliki's colleague in the Daawa Party, Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari.
There had been rumors that the Americans could strike again in their search for a leader who would give the American presence better cover. There had been steady talk that the old CIA standby, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, could make his way back to power. Mr. Allawi himself had fed these speculations, but this is fantasy. Mr. Allawi circles Arab capitals and is rarely at home in his country. Mr. Maliki meanwhile has settled into his role.
In retrospect, the defining moment for Mr. Maliki had been those early hours of Dec. 30, when Saddam Hussein was sent to the gallows. He had not flinched, the decision was his, and he assumed it. Beyond the sound and fury of the controversy that greeted the execution, Mr. Maliki had taken the execution as a warrant for a new accommodation with the Sunni political class. A lifelong opponent of the Baath, he had come to the judgment that the back of the apparatus of the old regime had been broken, and that the time had come for an olive branch to those ready to accept the new political rules.
When I called on Mr. Maliki at his residence, a law offering pensions to the former officers of the Iraqi army had been readied and was soon put into effect. That decision had been supported by the head of the de-Baathification commission, Ahmed Chalabi. A proposal for a deeper reversal of the de-Baathification process was in the works, and would be announced days later by Mr. Maliki and President Jalal Talabani. This was in truth Zalmay Khalilzad's doing, his attempt to bury the entire de-Baathification effort as his tenure drew to a close.
This was more than the political traffic in the Shia community could bear. Few were ready to accept the return of old Baathists to government service. The victims of the old terror were appalled at a piece of this legislation, giving them a period of only three months to bring charges against their former tormentors. This had not been Mr. Maliki's choice--for his animus toward the Baath has been the driving force of his political life. It was known that he trusted that the religious hierarchy in Najaf, and the forces within the Shia alliance, would rein in this drive toward rehabilitating the remnants of the old regime.
Power and experience have clearly changed Mr. Maliki as he makes his way between the Shia coalition that sustains him on the one hand, and the American presence on the other. By all accounts, he is increasingly independent of the diehards in his own coalition--another dividend of the high-profile executions of Saddam Hussein and three of the tyrant's principal lieutenants. He is surrounded by old associates drawn from the Daawa Party, but keeps his own counsel.
There is a built-in tension between a prime minister keen to press for his own prerogatives and an American military presence that underpins the security of this new order. Mr. Maliki does not have the access to American military arms he would like; he does not have control over an Iraqi special-forces brigade that the Americans had trained and nurtured. His police forces remain poorly equipped. The levers of power are not fully his, and he knows it. Not a student of American ways--he spent his years of exile mostly in Syria--he is fully aware of the American exhaustion with Iraq as leading American politicians have come his way often.
The nightmare of this government is that of a precipitous American withdrawal. Six months ago, the British quit the southern city of Amarrah, the capital of the Maysan Province. It had been, by Iraqi accounts, a precipitous British decision, and the forces of Moqtada al-Sadr had rushed into the void; they had looted the barracks and overpowered the police. Amarrah haunts the Iraqis in the circle of power--the prospect of Americans leaving this government to fend for itself.
In the long scheme of history, the Shia Arabs had never governed--and Mr. Maliki and the coalition arrayed around him know their isolation in the region. This Iraqi state of which they had become the principal inheritors will have to make its way in a hostile regional landscape. Set aside Turkey's Islamist government, with its avowedly Sunni mindset and its sense of itself as a claimant to an older Ottoman tradition; the Arab order of power is yet to make room for this Iraqi state. Mr. Maliki's first trip beyond Iraq's borders had been to Saudi Arabia. He had meant that visit as a message that Iraq's "Arab identity" will trump all other orientations. It had been a message that the Arab world's Shia stepchildren were ready to come into the fold. But a huge historical contest had erupted in Baghdad, the seat of the Abbasid caliphate had fallen to new Shia inheritors, and the custodians of Arab power were not yet ready for this new history.
For one, the "Sunni street"--the Islamists, the pan-Arabists who hid their anti-Shia animus underneath a secular cover, the intellectual class that had been invested in the ideology of the Baath party--remained unalterably opposed to this new Iraq. The Shia could offer the Arab rulers the promise that their new state would refrain from regional adventures, but it would not be easy for these rulers to come to this accommodation.
A worldly Shia cleric, the legislator Humam Hamoudi who had headed the constitutional drafting committee, told me that he had laid out to interlocutors from the House of Saud the case that this new Iraqi state would be a better neighbor than the Sunni-based state of Saddam Hussein had been. "We would not be given to military adventures beyond our borders, what wealth we have at our disposal would have to go to repairing our homeland, for you we would be easier to fend off for we are Shiites and would be cognizant and respectful of the differences between us," Mr. Hamoudi had said. "You had a fellow Sunni in Baghdad for more than three decades, and look what terrible harvest, what wreckage, he left behind." This sort of appeal is yet to be heard, for this change in Baghdad is a break with a long millennium of Sunni Arab primacy.
The blunt truth of this new phase in the fight for Iraq is that the Sunnis have lost the battle for Baghdad. The great flight from Baghdad to Jordan, to Syria, to other Arab destinations, has been the flight of Baghdad's Sunni middle-class. It is they who had the means of escape, and the savings.
Whole mixed districts in the city--Rasafa, Karkh--have been emptied of their Sunni populations. Even the old Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyyah is embattled and besieged. What remains for the Sunnis are the western outskirts. This was the tragic logic of the campaign of terror waged by the Baathists and the jihadists against the Shia; this was what played out in the terrible year that followed the attack on the Askariya shrine of Samarra in February 2006. Possessed of an old notion of their own dominion, and of Shia passivity and quiescence, the Sunni Arabs waged a war they were destined to lose.
No one knows with any precision the sectarian composition of today's Baghdad, but there are estimates that the Sunnis may now account for 15% of the city's population. Behind closed doors, Sunni leaders speak of the great calamity that befell their community. They admit to a great disappointment in the Arab states that fed the flames but could never alter the contest on the ground in Iraq. No Arab cavalry had ridden, or was ever going to ride, to the rescue of the Sunnis of Iraq.
A cultured member of the (Sunni) Association of Muslim Scholars in Baghdad, a younger man of deep moderation, likened the dilemma of his community to that of the Palestinian Arabs since 1948. "They waited for deliverance that never came," he said. "Like them, we placed our hopes in Arab leaders who have their own concerns. We fell for those Arab satellite channels, we believed that Arab brigades would turn up in Anbar and Baghdad. We made room for al Qaeda only to have them turn on us in Anbar." There had once been a Sunni maxim in Iraq, "for us ruling and power, for you self-flagellation," that branded the Shia as a people of sorrow and quietism. Now the ground has shifted, and among the Sunnis there is a widespread sentiment of disinheritance and loss.
The Mahdi Army, more precisely the underclass of Sadr City, had won the fight for Baghdad. This Shia underclass had been hurled into the city from its ancestral lands in the Marshes and the Middle Euphrates. In a cruel twist of irony, Baathist terror had driven these people into the slums of Baghdad. The Baathist tyranny had cut down the palm trees in the south, burned the reed beds of the Marshes. Then the campaign of terror that Sunni society sheltered and abetted in the aftermath of the despot's fall gave the Mahdi Army its cause and its power.
"The Mahdi Army protected us and our lands, our homes, and our honor," said a tribal Shia notable in a meeting in Baghdad, acknowledging that it was perhaps time for the boys of Moqtada al-Sadr to step aside in favor of the government forces. He laid bare, as he spoke, the terrible complications of this country; six of his sisters, he said, were married to Sunnis, countless nephews of his were Sunni. Violence had hacked away at this pluralism; no one could be certain when, and if, the place could mend.
In their grief, the Sunni Arabs have fallen back on the most unexpected of hopes; having warred against the Americans, they now see them as redeemers. "This government is an American creation," a powerful Sunni legislator, Saleh al-Mutlak, said. "It is up to the Americans to replace it, change the constitution that was imposed on us, replace this incompetent, sectarian government with a government of national unity, a cabinet of technocrats." Shrewd and alert to the ways of the world (he has a Ph.D. in soil science from a university in the U.K.) Mr. Mutlak gave voice to a wider Sunni conviction that this order in Baghdad is but an American puppet. America and Iran may be at odds in the region, but the Sunni Arabs see an American-Persian conspiracy that had robbed them of their patrimony.
They had made their own bed, the Sunni Arabs, but old habits of dominion die hard, and save but for a few, there is precious little acknowledgment of the wages of the terror that the Shia had been subjected to in the years that followed the American invasion. As matters stand, the Sunni Arabs are in desperate need of leaders who can call off the violence, cut a favorable deal for their community, and distance that community form the temptations and the ruin of the insurgency. It is late in the hour, but there is still eagerness in the Maliki government to conciliate the Sunnis, if only to give the country a chance at normalcy.
The Shia have come into their own, but there still hovers over them their old history of dispossession; there still trails shadows of doubt about their hold on power, about conspiracies hatched against them in neighboring Arab lands.
The Americans have given birth to this new Shia primacy, but there lingers a fear, in the inner circles of the Shia coalition, that the Americans have in mind a Sunni-based army, of the Pakistani and Turkish mold, that would upend the democratic, majoritarian bases of power on which Shia primacy rests. They are keenly aware, these new Shia men of power in Baghdad, that the Pax Americana in the region is based on an alliance of long standing with the Sunni regimes. They are under no illusions about their own access to Washington when compared with that of Cairo, Riyadh, Amman and the smaller principalities of the Persian Gulf. This suspicion is in the nature of things; it is the way of once marginal men who had come into an unexpected triumph.
In truth, it is not only the Arab order of power that remains ill at ease with the rise of the Shia of Iraq. The (Shia) genie that came out of the bottle was not fully to America's liking. Indeed, the U.S. strategy in Iraq had tried to sidestep the history that America itself had given birth to. There had been the disastrous regency of Paul Bremer. It had been followed by the attempt to create a national security state under Ayad Allawi. Then there had come the strategy of the American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, that aimed to bring the Sunni leadership into the political process and wean them away from the terror and the insurgency.
Mr. Khalilzad had become, in his own sense of himself, something of a High Commissioner in Iraq, and his strategy had ended in failure; the Sunni leaders never broke with the insurgency. Their sobriety of late has been a function of the defeat their cause has suffered on the ground; all the inducements had not worked.
We are now in a new, and fourth, phase of this American presence. We should not try to "cheat" in the region, conceal what we had done, or apologize for it, by floating an Arab-Israeli peace process to the liking of the "Sunni street."
The Arabs have an unerring feel for the ways of strangers who venture into their lands. Deep down, the Sunni Arabs know what the fight for Baghdad is all about--oil wealth and power, the balance between the Sunni edifice of material and moral power and the claims of the Shia stepchildren. To this fight, Iran is a newcomer, an outlier. This is an old Arab account, the fight between the order of merchants and rulers and establishment jurists on the one side, and the righteous (Shia) oppositionists on the other. How apt it is that the struggle that had been fought on the plains of Karbala in southern Iraq so long ago has now returned, full circle, to Iraq.
For our part, we can't give full credence to the Sunni representations of things. We can cushion the Sunni defeat but can't reverse it. Our soldiers have not waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq against Sunni extremists to fall for the fear of some imagined "Shia crescent" peddled by Sunni rulers and preachers. To that atavistic fight between Sunni and Shia, we ought to remain decent and discerning arbiters. To be sure, in Iraq itself we can't give a blank check to Shia maximalism. On its own, mainstream Shi'ism is eager to rein in its own diehards and self-anointed avengers.
There is a growing Shia unease with the Mahdi Army--and with the venality and incompetence of the Sadrists represented in the cabinet--and an increasing faith that the government and its instruments of order are the surer bet. The crackdown on the Mahdi Army that the new American commander, Gen. David Petraeus, has launched has the backing of the ruling Shia coalition. Iraqi police and army units have taken to the field against elements of the Mahdi army. In recent days, in the southern city of Diwaniyya, American and Iraqi forces have together battled the forces of Moqtada al-Sadr. To the extent that the Shia now see Iraq as their own country, their tolerance for mayhem and chaos has receded. Sadr may damn the American occupiers, but ordinary Shia men and women know that the liberty that came their way had been a gift of the Americans.
The young men of little education--earnest displaced villagers with the ways of the countryside showing through their features and dialect and shiny suits--who guarded me through Baghdad, spoke of old terrors, and of the joy and dignity of this new order. Children and nephews and younger brothers of men lost to the terror of the Baath, they are done with the old servitude. They behold the Americans keeping the peace of their troubled land with undisguised gratitude. It hasn't been always brilliant, this campaign waged in Iraq. But its mistakes can never smother its honor, and no apology for it is due the Arab autocrats who had averted their gaze from Iraq's long night of terror under the Baath.
One can never reconcile the beneficiaries of illegitimate, abnormal power to the end of their dominion. But this current re-alignment in Iraq carries with it a gift for the possible redemption of modern Islam among the Arabs. Hitherto Sunni Islam had taken its hegemony for granted and extremist strands within it have shown a refusal to accept "the other." Conversely, Shia history has been distorted by weakness and exclusion and by a concomitant abdication of responsibility.
A Shia-led state in Baghdad--with a strong Kurdish presence in it and a big niche for the Sunnis--can go a long way toward changing the region's terrible habits and expectations of authority and command. The Sunnis would still be hegemonic in the Arab councils of power beyond Iraq, but their monopoly would yield to the pluralism and complexity of that region.
"Watch your adjectives" is the admonition given American officers by Gen. Petraeus. In Baghdad, Americans and Iraqis alike know that this big endeavor has entered its final, decisive phase. Iraq has surprised and disappointed us before, but as they and we watch our adjectives there can be discerned the shape of a new country, a rough balance of forces commensurate with the demography of the place and with the outcome of a war that its erstwhile Sunni rulers had launched and lost. We made this history and should now make our peace with it.
Mr. Ajami, a 2006 recipient of the Bradley Prize, teaches at Johns Hopkins and is author of "The Foreigner's Gift: The Americans, the Arabs, and the Iraqis in Iraq" (Free Press, 2006).
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
An interesting article at the Air Force website about an airborne reconnaissance platform that I have been associated with.
The Rivet Joint mission supports both national and tactical requirements, demonstrating a 21st century asymmetric warfare capability.
"We are also able to provide threat tippers via a classified chat capability, which enables us to cross-cue with other intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and combat platforms who might be in the area to see if we can share information and give our warfighters a more complete picture," said Lt. Col. Karen Bridges, the 763rd ERS commander.
Planners are able to build target packages on high value targets, can direct action by ground forces, prepare for operations such as the recent Operation Achilles, coordinate close-air support, direct CSAR operations and provide direct threat warning for coalition personnel or assets.
Interesting stuff . . .
April 18, 2007
"In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever character composed, passion never fails to wrest the sceptre from reason. ... Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob."
-- Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, 1788 - Federalist No. 55
Larry Kudlow talks about the "four dead bodies of inflation" and how they help indicate the prospects of inflation increasing -- and how Congress can make it worse.
Loose talk from a protectionist-leaning Congress is arguing for a lower dollar to curb the trade deficit. This would be exactly the wrong policy. The Fed should ignore this banter and instead keep its eye on all four dead bodies in the inflationary morgue.
April 17, 2007
"They are of the People, and return again to mix with the People, having no more durable preeminence than the different Grains of Sand in an Hourglass. Such an Assembly cannot easily become dangerous to Liberty. They are the Servants of the People, sent together to do the People's Business, and promote the public Welfare; their Powers must be sufficient, or their Duties cannot be performed. They have no profitable Appointments, but a mere Payment of daily Wages, such as are scarcely equivalent to their Expences; so that, having no Chance for great Places, and enormous Salaries or Pensions, as in some Countries, there is no triguing or bribing for Elections."
-- Benjamin Franklin (about the House of Representatives), 1785 - letter to George Whatley
Our troops speak
Bill Ardolino, as an independent journalist, embedded in Iraq recently for a few weeks. He reported his experiences in his blog, INDC Journal, and brought back some video -- including interviews of the troops about their mission in Iraq.
Introduction: A Citizen Journalist in Fallujah
Part I: The Troops in Fallujah Speak
I highly recommend you go watch these videos (in spite of the Ann Coulter ads) in order to get a better perspective on what our troops are going through over there.
[Via Hot Air.]
Phoenix, over at Villains Vanquished has, in my opinion, a very insightful post up, entitled 22 Ways to be a Good Democrat.
It is filled with irony -- go read the whole thing.
April 16, 2007
"It has been a source of great pain to me to have met with so many among [my] opponents who had not the liberality to distinguish between political and social opposition; who transferred at once to the person, the hatred they bore to his political opinions."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1808 - letter to Richard M. Johnson
April 15, 2007
"I leave to others the sublime delights of riding in the storm, better pleased with sound sleep & a warmer berth below it encircled, with the society of neighbors, friends & fellow laborers of the earth rather than with spies & sycophants...I have no ambition to govern men. It is a painful and thankless office."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1796 - letter to John Adams
April 14, 2007
"It behooves you, therefore, to think and act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1775 - A Summary View of the Rights of British America
The surge: first fruits
Charles Krauthammer has an excellent, well-documented, summation of the initial results of the surge -- which is not completely staffed up yet. He also addresses the dishonorable efforts of Congressional Democrats attempting to undermine the success of the war in Iraq. [Emphasis is mine.]
How at this point -- with only about half of the additional surge troops yet deployed -- can Democrats be trying to force the United States to give up? The Democrats say they are carrying out their electoral mandate from the November election. But winning a single-vote Senate majority as a result of razor-thin victories in Montana and Virginia is hardly a landslide.
Second, if the electorate was sending an unconflicted message about withdrawal, how did the most uncompromising supporter of the war, Sen. Joe Lieberman, win handily in one of the most liberal states in the country?
And third, where was the mandate for withdrawal? Almost no Democratic candidates campaigned on that. They campaigned for changing the course the administration was on last November.
Which the president has done. He changed the civilian leadership at the Defense Department, replaced the head of Central Command and, most critically, replaced the Iraq commander with Petraeus -- unanimously approved by the Democratic Senate -- to implement a new counterinsurgency strategy.
April 13, 2007
"When occasions present themselves, in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection."
-- Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist, no 71
Bias in the BBC
Ed Driscoll discusses a book by former BBC journalist, Robin Aitken, that describes a 'corrosive internal culture' in the BBC.
What is the BBC's worldview? "I think the BBC, by and large, lines up behind what I would term the progressive consensus on whatever issue one happens to be talking about," Aitken recently told me. "So for instance, during the era of the Soviet Union and the Cold War, the BBC was too willing to find excuses for Soviet misdeeds and excesses; was too sympathetic for the notion of unilateral nuclear disarmament; was too hostile and suspicious of the motives of the US.
"In other words" Aitken continues, "it was too skeptical of the West and its motives; not skeptical enough of the Soviet Union and its motives. And I think that in bending over backwards to be fair, it often tips the other way, and is actually unfair to our side if you like."
This tends to line up well with my (admittedly limited) experience with the BBC over the last 25 years, or so, during the European travel phase of my career.
When the role is called up yonder
Thank you, Mr. Hart. You are undoubtedly enjoying the fruits of your labor now. You are missed here on Earth. Godspeed.
Iran in Iraq
StrategyPage has posted a good report about some of the influences and motivations behind the terrorism in Iraq. As you would expect, Iran is discussed:
Moreover, it's not just the Sunni Arab neighborhoods that need attention. Radical Shia outfits, like the Iran backed Mahdi Army, have also become more aggressive. The pro-Iranian groups have been losing strength, mainly because Arabs don't trust the Iranians. Despite sharing religious beliefs (most Iranians, like most Iraqi Arabs, are Shia), Iraqi Arabs know that the Iranians despise them, and are still unhappy with the results of the 1980s war. In that conflict, Iraqi Shia Arabs fought for Saddam against Iranians, and fought the Iranians to a standstill, and a ceasefire. This was a humiliation for the Iranians, who had walked over the local opposition for thousands of years. But the Iranians have money, weapons and technical assistance for Iraqi Shia Arabs willing to cooperate. All the Iranians want is more chaos inside Iraq. This makes Iraq weak, and less of a threat to Iranian ambitions in the region. While some of the pro-Iranian Iraqi Arabs believe they have a chance of turning Iraq into a religious dictatorship (like Iran is), most know they are being played, and paid. You take the money. Jobs are scarce. But Iran is still the enemy. Always has been, always will be.
There's a lot more . . .
April 12, 2007
"If men of wisdom and knowledge, of moderation and temperance, of patience, fortitude and perseverance, of sobriety and true republican simplicity of manners, of zeal for the honour of the Supreme Being and the welfare of the commonwealth; if men possessed of these other excellent qualities are chosen to fill the seats of government, we may expect that our affairs will rest on a solid and permanent foundation."
-- Samuel Adams, 1780 - letter to Elbridge Gerry
Gloomy about the climate change?
M.I.T. meteorologist Richard Lindzen talks about climate change:
Modelers claim to have simulated the warming and cooling that occurred before 1976 by choosing among various guesses as to what effect poorly observed volcanoes and unmeasured output from the sun have had. These factors, they claim, don't explain the warming of about 0.4 degrees C between 1976 and 1998. Climate modelers assume the cause must be greenhouse-gas emissions because they have no other explanation. This is a poor substitute for evidence, and simulation hardly constitutes explanation. Ten years ago climate modelers also couldn't account for the warming that occurred from about 1050 to 1300. They tried to expunge the medieval warm period from the observational record—an effort that is now generally discredited. The models have also severely underestimated short-term variability El Niño and the Intraseasonal Oscillation. Such phenomena illustrate the ability of the complex and turbulent climate system to vary significantly with no external cause whatever, and to do so over many years, even centuries.
For a rational discussion of the facts about -- and potential ramifications of -- climate change, you owe it to yourself to go read the whole thing.
The real 'civil war' in Iraq
A father and his son, who both have separately been to Anbar province recently, provide unique insight into what they see as the real civil war in Iraq -- Sunni tribes versus Al Qaeda Iraq.
In late 2005, acceptably-trained Iraqi battalions began to join the persistent Americans in Anbar. AQI resorted to suicide attacks and roadside bombs, and avoided direct fights. Sub-tribes began to kill AQI members in retaliation for individual crimes, and discovered that AQI was ruthless, but not tough. Near the Syrian border, an entire tribe joined forces with the Marines and drove AQI from the city of al Qaim.
By the fall of 2006 AQI had become the oppressor, careless in its destructive swath, while the American and Iraqi forces persisted with their mix of force of arms and civil engagement. When an AQI suicide car bomb attacked an Anbar market in November, killing a Marine and nine civilians, the Marine battalion commander and his Iraqi counterpart offered medical care at the local clinic for the entire town, including the first gynecological examinations many local women had seen. This was not an isolated event, and the people noticed.
With a war-weary population buoying them, 25 of the 31 Anbar sub-tribes have pledged to fight the insurgents over the past five months, sending thousands of tribesmen into the police and army. Led by Sheik Abu Sittar, who has called this an "awakening," the tribes believed they were joining the winners.
Read the whole thing for an honest look at the situation in Anbar.
April 11, 2007
"Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
-- Benjamin Franklin, 1789 - letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy
Congress' approval ratings have gone up
Thirty-three percent of Americans approve and 60% disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Congressional approval is up five points since last month, but is still slightly lower than the 37% approval recorded a few weeks after Democrats assumed control of Congress this year. Congress has averaged 33% approval so far this year.
Martian global warming
Mars is experiencing global warming of its own. However, it's pretty hard to blame it on human activity, so AFP tries to show us why it's different on Mars . . .
Global warming could be heating Mars four times faster than Earth due to a mutually reinforcing interplay of wind-swept dust and changes in reflected heat from the Sun, according to a study released Wednesday. Scientists have long observed a correlation on Mars between its fluctuating temperatures -- which range from -87 C to - 5 C (-125 F to 23 F) depending on the season and the location -- and the darkening or lightening of swathes of the planet's surface.
The explanation is in the dirt.
Glistening Martian dust lying on the ground reflects the Sun's light -- and its heat -- back into space, a phenomenon called albedo.
But when this reddish dust is churned up by violent winds, the storm-ravaged surface loses its reflective qualities and more of the Sun's heat is absorbed into the atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise.
The study, published on Thursday by the British journal Nature, shows for the first time that these variations not only result from the storms but help cause them too.
It also suggests that short-term climate change is currently occurring on Mars and at a much faster rate than on Earth.
Its authors, led by Lori Fenton, a planetary scientist at NASA, describe the phenomenon as a "positive feedback" system -- in other words, a vicious circle, in which changes in albedo strengthen the winds which in turn kicks up more dust, in turn adding to the warming.
Go read the whole thing.
April 10, 2007
"There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war."
-- George Washington, 1793 - Fifth Annual Message
Employment, wages up again
Despite Congress' and Iran's best efforts, and the media's chicken little predictions, the U.S. economy is still improving.
The job market showed little sign of losing its vigor last month as wages climbed and job growth rose, the Labor Department reported yesterday.
Economists said the numbers were consistent with an economy that was being supported by strong consumer spending, with considerable hiring in businesses like restaurants, bars, department stores and educational services.
In all, the Labor Department said that employment outside the farming sector grew by 180,000 in March. And in another sign of the job market’s resilience, employment growth in January and February was stronger than the government first reported.
The national unemployment rate also edged down last month to 4.4 percent, from 4.5 percent, matching a five-year low that it reached briefly in October.
Still more reason NOT to roll back Bush's tax cuts . . . Supply-side actually works -- whether you believe in it or not . . .
April 09, 2007
"Our own Country's Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions - The Eyes of all our Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny mediated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."
-- George Washington (General Orders, 2 July 1776)
April 08, 2007
I and mine, wish you and yours a very blessed Easter as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior.
"He is risen!"
"You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up, spit at him or kill him; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us."
-- C.S. Lewis
April 07, 2007
"Whatever enables us to go to war, secures our peace."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1823 - letter to James Monroe
April 06, 2007
"To judge from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to conclude that the fiery and destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and beneficent sentiments of peace; and that to model our political systems upon speculations of lasting tranquillity would be to calculate on the weaker springs of human character."
-- Alexander Hamilton, 1788 - Federalist No. 34
The struggle to reform Islam
Onetime terrorist, Tawfik Hamid, is promoting religious reform in Islam. He discusses some of the issues and roadblocks to Muslim reform that he faces today.
It's well worth reading.
I've reprinted it in the extended entry.
The Trouble With Islam
Sadly, mainstream Muslim teaching accepts and promotes violence.
BY TAWFIK HAMID
Tuesday, April 3, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT
Not many years ago the brilliant Orientalist, Bernard Lewis, published a short history of the Islamic world's decline, entitled "What Went Wrong?" Astonishingly, there was, among many Western "progressives," a vocal dislike for the title. It is a false premise, these critics protested. They ignored Mr. Lewis's implicit statement that things have been, or could be, right.
But indeed, there is much that is clearly wrong with the Islamic world. Women are stoned to death and undergo clitorectomies. Gays hang from the gallows under the approving eyes of the proponents of Shariah, the legal code of Islam. Sunni and Shia massacre each other daily in Iraq. Palestinian mothers teach 3-year-old boys and girls the ideal of martyrdom. One would expect the orthodox Islamic establishment to evade or dismiss these complaints, but less happily, the non-Muslim priests of enlightenment in the West have come, actively and passively, to the Islamists' defense.
These "progressives" frequently cite the need to examine "root causes." In this they are correct: Terrorism is only the manifestation of a disease and not the disease itself. But the root-causes are quite different from what they think. As a former member of Jemaah Islamiya, a group led by al Qaeda's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, I know firsthand that the inhumane teaching in Islamist ideology can transform a young, benevolent mind into that of a terrorist. Without confronting the ideological roots of radical Islam it will be impossible to combat it. While there are many ideological "rootlets" of Islamism, the main tap root has a name--Salafism, or Salafi Islam, a violent, ultra-conservative version of the religion.
It is vital to grasp that traditional and even mainstream Islamic teaching accepts and promotes violence. Shariah, for example, allows apostates to be killed, permits beating women to discipline them, seeks to subjugate non-Muslims to Islam as dhimmis and justifies declaring war to do so. It exhorts good Muslims to exterminate the Jews before the "end of days." The near deafening silence of the Muslim majority against these barbaric practices is evidence enough that there is something fundamentally wrong.
The grave predicament we face in the Islamic world is the virtual lack of approved, theologically rigorous interpretations of Islam that clearly challenge the abusive aspects of Shariah. Unlike Salafism, more liberal branches of Islam, such as Sufism, typically do not provide the essential theological base to nullify the cruel proclamations of their Salafist counterparts. And so, for more than 20 years I have been developing and working to establish a theologically-rigorous Islam that teaches peace.
Yet it is ironic and discouraging that many non-Muslim, Western intellectuals--who unceasingly claim to support human rights--have become obstacles to reforming Islam. Political correctness among Westerners obstructs unambiguous criticism of Shariah's inhumanity. They find socioeconomic or political excuses for Islamist terrorism such as poverty, colonialism, discrimination or the existence of Israel. What incentive is there for Muslims to demand reform when Western "progressives" pave the way for Islamist barbarity? Indeed, if the problem is not one of religious beliefs, it leaves one to wonder why Christians who live among Muslims under identical circumstances refrain from contributing to wide-scale, systematic campaigns of terror.
Politicians and scholars in the West have taken up the chant that Islamic extremism is caused by the Arab-Israeli conflict. This analysis cannot convince any rational person that the Islamist murder of over 150,000 innocent people in Algeria--which happened in the last few decades--or their slaying of hundreds of Buddhists in Thailand, or the brutal violence between Sunni and Shia in Iraq could have anything to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Western feminists duly fight in their home countries for equal pay and opportunity, but seemingly ignore, under a façade of cultural relativism, that large numbers of women in the Islamic world live under threat of beating, execution and genital mutilation, or cannot vote, drive cars and dress as they please.
The tendency of many Westerners to restrict themselves to self-criticism further obstructs reformation in Islam. Americans demonstrate against the war in Iraq, yet decline to demonstrate against the terrorists who kidnap innocent people and behead them. Similarly, after the Madrid train bombings, millions of Spanish citizens demonstrated against their separatist organization, ETA. But once the demonstrators realized that Muslims were behind the terror attacks they suspended the demonstrations. This example sent a message to radical Islamists to continue their violent methods.
Western appeasement of their Muslim communities has exacerbated the problem. During the four-month period after the publication of the Muhammad cartoons in a Danish magazine, there were comparatively few violent demonstrations by Muslims. Within a few days of the Danish magazine's formal apology, riots erupted throughout the world. The apology had been perceived by Islamists as weakness and concession.
Worst of all, perhaps, is the anti-Americanism among many Westerners. It is a resentment so strong, so deep-seated, so rooted in personal identity, that it has led many, consciously or unconsciously, to morally support America's enemies.
Progressives need to realize that radical Islam is based on an antiliberal system. They need to awaken to the inhumane policies and practices of Islamists around the world. They need to realize that Islamism spells the death of liberal values. And they must not take for granted the respect for human rights and dignity that we experience in America, and indeed, the West, today.
Well-meaning interfaith dialogues with Muslims have largely been fruitless. Participants must demand--but so far haven't--that Muslim organizations and scholars specifically and unambiguously denounce violent Salafi components in their mosques and in the media. Muslims who do not vocally oppose brutal Shariah decrees should not be considered "moderates."
All of this makes the efforts of Muslim reformers more difficult. When Westerners make politically-correct excuses for Islamism, it actually endangers the lives of reformers and in many cases has the effect of suppressing their voices.
Tolerance does not mean toleration of atrocities under the umbrella of relativism. It is time for all of us in the free world to face the reality of Salafi Islam or the reality of radical Islam will continue to face us.
Dr. Hamid, a onetime member of Jemaah Islamiya, an Islamist terrorist group, is a medical doctor and Muslim reformer living in the West.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
April 05, 2007
"The circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite, and for this reason no constitutional shackles can wisely be imposed on the power to which the care of it is committed."
-- Alexander Hamilton, 1787 - Federalist No. 23
Popular Mechanics has an interesting article about a promising effort to turn algae into biofuel.
Given the right conditions, algae can double its volume overnight. Unlike other biofuel feedstocks, such as soy or corn, it can be harvested day after day. Up to 50 percent of an alga’s body weight is comprised of oil, whereas oil-palm trees—currently the largest producer of oil to make biofuels—yield just about 20 percent of their weight in oil. Across the board, yields are already impressive: Soy produces some 50 gallons of oil per acre per year; canola, 150 gallons; and palm, 650 gallons. But algae is expected to produce 10,000 gallons per acre per year, and eventually even more.
“If we were to replace all of the diesel that we use in the United States" with an algae derivative, says Solix CEO Douglas Henston, "we could do it on an area of land that’s about one-half of 1 percent of the current farm land that we use now."
This sounds very encouraging!
Last month,OpinionJournal published an informative article about a very brave lady -- Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
I highly recommend you read it.
I've reprinted it in the extended entry.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali infuriates Muslims and discomfits liberals.
BY JOSEPH RAGO
Saturday, March 10, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST
NEW YORK--Ayaan Hirsi Ali is untrammeled and unrepentant: "I am supposed to apologize for saying the prophet is a pervert and a tyrant," she declares. "But that is apologizing for the truth."
Statements such as these have brought Ms. Hirsi Ali to world-wide attention. Though she recently left her adopted country, Holland--where her friend and intellectual collaborator Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim extremist in 2004--she is still accompanied by armed guards wherever she travels.
Ms. Hirsi Ali was born in 1969 in Mogadishu--into, as she puts it, "the Islamic civilization, as far as you can call it a civilization." In 1992, at age 22, her family gave her hand to a distant relative; had the marriage ensued, she says, it would have been "an arranged rape." But as she was shipped to the appointment via Europe, she fled, obtaining asylum in Holland. There, "through observation, through experience, through reading," she acquainted herself with a different world. "The culture that I came to and I live in now is not perfect," Ms. Hirsi Ali says. "But this culture, the West, the product of the Enlightenment, is the best humanity has ever achieved."
Unease over Muslim immigration had been rising in the Low Countries for some time. For instance, when the gay right-wing politician Pim Fortuyn--"I am in favor of a cold war with Islam," he said, and believed the borders should be closed to Muslims--was gunned down in 2002, it was widely assumed his killer was an Islamist. There was a strange sense of relief when he turned out to be a mere animal-rights activist. Ms. Hirsi Ali brought integration issues to further attention, exposing domestic abuse and even honor killings in the Dutch-Muslim "dish cities."
In 2003, she won a seat in the parliament as a member of the center-right VVD Party, for People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. The next year, she wrote the script for a short film called "Submission." It investigated passages from the Quran that Ms. Hirsi Ali contends authorize violence against women, and did so by projecting those passages onto naked female bodies. In retrospect, she deeply regrets the outcome: "I don't think the film was worth the human life."
The life in question was that of Van Gogh, a prominent controversialist and the film's director. At the end of 2004, an Islamist named Mohammed Buyeri shot him as he was bicycling to work in downtown Amsterdam, then almost decapitated him with a curved sword. He left a manifesto impaled to the body: "I know for sure that you, Oh Hirsi Ali, will go down," was its incantation. "I know for sure that you, Oh unbelieving fundamentalist, will go down."
The shock was palpable. Holland--which has the second largest per capita population of Muslims in the EU, after France--had always prided itself on its pluralism, in which all groups would be tolerated but not integrated. The killing made clear just how apart its groups were. "Immediately after the murder," Ms. Hirsi Ali says, "we learned Theo's killer had access to education, he had learned the language, he had taken welfare. He made it very clear he knew what democracy meant, he knew what liberalism was, and he consciously rejected it. . . . He said, 'I have an alternative framework. It's Islam. It's the Quran.' "
At his sentencing, Mohammed Buyeri said he would have killed his own brother, had he made "Submission" or otherwise insulted the One True Faith. "And why?" Ms. Hirsi Ali asks. "Because he said his god ordered him to do it. . . . We need to see," she continues, "that this isn't something that's caused by special offense, the right, Jews, poverty. It's religion."
Ms. Hirsi Ali was forced into living underground; a hard-line VVD minister named Rita Verdonk, cracking down on immigration, canceled her citizenship for misstatements made on her asylum application--which Ms. Hirsi Ali had admitted years before and justified as a means to win quicker admission at a time of great personal vulnerability. The resulting controversy led to the collapse of Holland's coalition government. Ms. Hirsi Ali has since decamped for America--in effect a political refugee from Western Europe--to take up a position with the American Enterprise Institute. But the crisis, she says, is "still simmering underneath and it might erupt--somewhere, anywhere."
That partly explains why Ms. Hirsi Ali's new autobiography, "Infidel," is already a best seller. It may also have something to do with the way she scrambles our expectations. In person, she is modest, graceful, enthralling. Intellectually, she is fierce, even predatory: "We know exactly what it is about but we don't have the guts to say it out loud," she says. "We are too weak to take up our role. The West is falling apart. The open society is coming undone."
Many liberals loathe her for disrupting an imagined "diversity" consensus: It is absurd, she argues, to pretend that cultures are all equal, or all equally desirable. But conservatives, and others, might be reasonably unnerved by her dim view of religion. She does not believe that Islam has been "hijacked" by fanatics, but that fanaticism is intrinsic in Islam itself: "Islam, even Islam in its nonviolent form, is dangerous."
The Muslim faith has many variations, but Ms. Hirsi Ali contends that the unities are of greater significance. "Islam has a very consistent doctrine," she says, "and I define Islam as I was taught to define it: submission to the will of Allah. His will is written in the Quran, and in the hadith and Sunna. What we are all taught is that when you want to make a distinction between right and wrong, you follow the prophet. Muhammad is the model guide for every Muslim through time, throughout history."
This supposition justifies, in her view, a withering critique of Islam's most holy human messenger. "You start by scrutinizing the morality of the prophet," and then ask: "Are you prepared to follow the morality of the prophet in a society such as this one?" She draws a connection between Mohammed's taking of child brides and modern sexual oppressions--what she calls "this imprisonment of women." She decries the murder of adulteresses and rape victims, the wearing of the veil, arranged marriages, domestic violence, genital mutilation and other contraventions of "the most basic freedoms."
These sufferings, she maintains, are traceable to theological imperatives. "People say it is a bad strategy," Ms. Hirsi Ali says forcefully. "I think it is the best strategy. . . . Muslims must choose to follow their rational capacities as humans and to follow reason instead of Quranic commands. At that point Islam will be reformed."
This worldview has led certain critics to dismiss Ms. Hirsi Ali as a secular extremist. "I have my ideas and my views," she says, "and I want to argue them. It is our obligation to look at things critically." As to the charges that she is an "Enlightenment fundamentalist," she points out, rightly, that people who live in democratic societies are not supposed to settle their disagreements by killing one another.
And yet contemporary democracies, she says, accommodate the incitement of such behavior: "The multiculturalism theology, like all theologies, is cruel, is wrongheaded, and is unarguable because it is an utter dogmatism. . . . Minorities are exempted from the obligations of the rest of society, so they don't improve. . . . With this theory you limit them, you freeze their culture, you keep them in place."
The most grievous failing of the West is self-congratulatory passivity: We face "an external enemy that to a degree has become an internal enemy, that has infiltrated the system and wants to destroy it." She believes a more drastic reaction is required: "It's easy," she says, "to weigh liberties against the damage that can be done to society and decide to deny liberties. As it should be. A free society should be prepared to recognize the patterns in front of it, and do something about them."
She says the West must begin to think long term about its relationship with Islam--because the Islamists are. Ms. Hirsi Ali notes Muslim birth rates are vastly outstripping those elsewhere (particularly in Western Europe) and believes this is a conscious attempt to extend the faith. Muslims, she says, treat women as "these baby-machines, these son-factories. . . . We need to compete with this," she goes on. "It is a totalitarian method. The Nazis tried it using women as incubators, literally to give birth to soldiers. Islam is now doing it. . . . It is a very effective and very frightening way of dealing with human beings."
All of this is profoundly politically incorrect. But for this remarkable woman, ideas are not abstractions. She forces us back to first principles, and she punctures complacencies. These ought to be seen as virtues, even by those who find some of Ms. Hirsi Ali's ideas disturbing or objectionable. Society, after all, sometimes needs to be roused from its slumbers by agitators who go too far so that others will go far enough.
Mr. Rago is an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal.
[Used with permission from OpinionJournal.com, a web site from Dow Jones & Company, Inc.]
April 04, 2007
"The idea of restraining the legislative authority in the means of providing for the national defense is one of those refinements which owe their origin to a zeal for liberty more ardent than enlightened. "
-- Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 26
Calling it like he sees it
President Bush has finally decided to speak out and call Congressional Democrats on their blatant attempts to surrender to terrorists.
"Democrat leaders in Congress seem more interested in fighting political battles in Washington than providing our troops what they need to fight the battles in Iraq."
Gateway Pundit has more. Go read the whole thing.
Should we repair Hubble?
Planetary scientist and four-time shuttle astronaut, Thomas D. Jones , says "yes, we should."
Some argue that repairing Hubble is pointless, since ground-based observatories have overtaken its capabilities. But terrestrial telescopes fall short of HST's resolution by a factor of 10 or more. So would I take the risk to fly to Hubble? Just after the Columbia crash in 2003, my feeling was no. But spaceflight will always involve risk, and the scientific value and public appeal of Hubble are clearly worth it. Besides, intelligently confronting danger is how we humans have always opened the way for great discoveries.
Casualties in Iraq -- with less spin
Back Talk provides an analysis of recent casualty figures from Iraq. He also points out some misconceptions:
Americans don't realize that we are in a fight with al Qaeda and their affiliated jihadists in Iraq. And they don't know because the media equates attacks by al Qaeda with the phrase "sectarian violence." Look at this MSNBC headline again:Tal Afar bomb toll hits 152, deadliest of Iraq war
Tally arrives during week in which more than 500 died in sectarian violence
Wrong. More than 400 of those deaths were caused by al Qaeda, not because they are Sunnis who hate Shiites but because they want Shiites to start killing Sunnis. It is wrong to call that "sectarian violence," and doing so just reinforces the obsolete schema that governs the thinking of Democratic leaders and mainstream media reporters, all of whom are sure they see a civil war spontaneously erupting before their very eyes. What they are seeing instead is al Qaeda fighting against Iraq and, more to the point, against America. We either stay in Iraq and defeat them, or we leave on a timetable and lose to them. That's your choice, take your pick. There are no other choices.
April 03, 2007
"National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman."
-- John Adams, 1815 - letter to James Lloyd
April 02, 2007
"Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue."
-- John Witherspoon (The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men, 1776)
"Those who say that you don't have to fight for freedom, don't understand what fascism is."
-- Marek Edelman, 2004
House search in Baghdad
Omar Fadhil describes a nighttime house search by U.S. forces in Bagdad.
It was around midnight and we were gathered around the fire in the backyard when we heard someone talking in English in the street.
Go see what that was, Mohammed told me.
I approached the front door and peeked into the street, a number of Humvees were there. I returned to the group and told them we might have some company.
Almost every Friday night we gather with some friends for drinks and a barbecue. We all take turns hosting the nights: yesterday was our turn.
Did you notice the last paragraph? It talks about the weekly barbeque that Omar and his friends and family have at their homes in Baghdad. It must be pretty darn safe in that part of Baghdad to have weekly barbeques out in the backyard, eh? You wouldn't know it, though, by watching the news, now would you?
So what else are we not getting accurately from our news media?
Go read the whole thing -- you'll find that Omar and his guests found our soldiers to be polite, professional, and friendly.
[Via Kim Priestap at Wizbang!.]
Then . . . and now
Stephen, over at Horsefeathers, dug up an Arthur Chrenkov archive containing excerpts from an interview of the last surviving military leader of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943, Marek Edelman. Mr. Edelman talks about fascism in 1943 and about Islamic fascism in the 21st Century.
Interviewer: Not a day seems to go by in Iraq without a terrorist attack, and in the last few days two Polish soldiers and a Polish journalist have died.
Edelman: And do you know any war where nobody dies? I don't. Alas, it's in man's make-up; there's a fatal flaw there that makes him kill, for pleasure or over some silly beliefs.
Interviewer: So this war is one over some silly beliefs?
Edelman: Now, now. Who started killing people? Americans didn't invade a wonderful democratic Iraq. There was a dictatorship there, torture, terror.
Interviewer: But there are people who say it's not our business.
Edelman: And whose business is it? Every war with fascism is our business. In 1939 there were also many people who said that the war in Poland was not their war, and what happened? Great nations fell because politicians listened to those who were saying that it's not worth dying for Gdansk [Danzig]. If only we'd intervened militarily after Hitler re-entered Rhineland we probably would not have had the war and the Holocaust.
Interviewer: Many people do understand that, but they don't understand why the Americans have to go to the other side of the world and fight over Iraq now.
Edelman: And why did they go to Europe then? Who defeated Hitler and saved Europe from fascism? The French? No, the Americans did. We thanked them then because they saved us. Today we criticise them because they're saving somebody else.
Go read the whole thing. It provides a reality-based perspective on what's going on in the world today.
Here is another worthwhile link that takes you to an account by Marek Edelman of the Jewish uprising in the Warsaw ghetto in 1943.
April 01, 2007
"We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles . The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed. "
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1824 - letter to John Cartwright
Mobilizing your body's defenses
"Antibiotics are now under threat because of the explosion in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A third of all deaths on this planet are the result of infection so there is an urgent need to create new therapies," says Robert Hancock, principal investigator and Canada Research Chair in Pathogenomics and Antimicrobials. "The beauty of this peptide is that it acts on the host to trigger a protective response and doesn't act on bacteria directly. That means it's unlikely bacteria will become resistant to it."
The team found that a peptide, or chain of amino acids, they have dubbed innate defense regulator peptide (IDR-1), can increase innate immunity without triggering harmful inflammation, and offer protection both before and after infection is present.
This has some real potential . . .