Saturday, December 29, 2007

Lessons From the Surge

320 years - not a bad victory streak at all. I'll say it again: The most successful military campaign, in the shortest time, and with the fewest casualties, in the history of warfare. The Drive-by MSM has never been more despicable than during their quest to humiliate America. Not even during Vietnam, when at least there was a question of whether success was being achieved...T

There are lessons to be learned from the dazzling success of the surge strategy in Iraq.

Lesson one is that just about no mission is impossible for the United States military. A year ago it was widely thought, not just by the new Democratic leaders in Congress but also in many parts of the Pentagon, that containing the violence in Iraq was impossible. Now we have seen it done.

We have seen this before in American history. George Washington's forces seemed on the brink of defeat many times in the agonizing years before Yorktown. Abraham Lincoln's generals seemed so unsuccessful in the Civil War that in August 1864 it was widely believed he would be defeated for re-election. But finally Lincoln found the right generals. Sherman took Atlanta and marched to the sea; Grant pressed forward in Virginia.

Franklin Roosevelt picked the right generals and admirals from the start in World War II, but the first years of the war were filled with errors and mistakes. Even Vietnam is not necessarily a counterexample. As Lewis Sorley argues persuasively in "A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam," Gen. Creighton Abrams came up with a winning strategy by 1972. South Vietnam fell three years later when the North Vietnamese army attacked en masse, and Congress refused to allow the aid the U.S. had promised.

George W. Bush, like Lincoln, took his time finding the right generals. But it's clear now that the forward-moving surge strategy devised by Gens. David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno has succeeded where the stand-aside strategy employed by their predecessors failed. American troops are surely the most capable military force in history. They just need to be given the right orders.

Lesson two is that societies can more easily be transformed from the bottom up than from the top down. Bush's critics are still concentrating on the failure of the central Iraqi government to reach agreement on important issues -- even though the oil revenues are already being distributed to the provinces. We persuaded the Iraqis to elect their parliament from national party lists (reportedly so that it would include more women) rather than to elect them from single-member districts that would have elected community leaders more in touch with local opinion.

But the impetus for change has come from the bottom up, from tribal sheiks in Anbar province who got tired of the violence and oppression of al Qaeda in Iraq, from Shiites and Sunnis who, once confident of the protection of American forces and of the new Iraqi military, decided to quit killing each other. They did not wait for orders from Baghdad or for legislation to be passed with all the i's dotted and t's crossed.

Our own recent history should have taught us that bottom-up transformation, in local laboratories of reform, can often achieve results that seemed impossible to national leaders. At the beginning of the 1990s we seemed to have intractable problems of high crime and welfare dependency. Experts argued that we couldn't hope for improvement. But state and local leaders got to work and showed that change for the better was possible. They included Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson on welfare and New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on crime control and many others, mostly Republicans but many Democrats as well. The federal government came charging in only after success was achieved in states and cities across the country. By now welfare dependency and crime have fallen by more than half, and they have virtually disappeared as political issues.

Lesson three is that it doesn't pay to bet against America. As Walter Russell Mead explains in his trenchant (and entertaining) "God and Gold: Britain and America and the Making of the Modern World," first Britain and then America have built the most prosperous and creative economies the world has ever seen and have prevailed in every major military conflict (except when they fought each other) since the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Many of those victories have been achieved in conflicts far more grueling than what we have faced in Iraq.

Some of George W. Bush's critics seem to have relished the prospect of American defeat and some refuse to acknowledge the success that has been achieved. But it appears that they have "misunderestimated" him once again, and have "misunderestimated" the competence of the American military and of free peoples working from the bottom up to transform their societies for the better. It's something to be thankful for as the new year begins.
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Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Horrible Inevitability

A sad day, yet an easily predictable one. As a long time critic of the Bhutto political clan, I still wished, against all reason, for success. As the author writes - " The State Department geniuses thought they had it all figured out". Now it's going to take a lot of blood to save Pakistan - and we have no choice but to accept this...T

Benazir Bhutto's return to Pakistan had a mad recklessness about it which give today's events a horrible inevitability. As I always say when I'm asked about her, she was my next-door neighbor for a while - which affects a kind of intimacy, though in fact I knew her only for sidewalk pleasantries. She was beautiful and charming and sophisticated and smart and modern, and everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be - though in practice, as Pakistan's Prime Minister, she was just another grubby wardheeler from one of the world's most corrupt political classes.

Since her last spell in power, Pakistan has changed, profoundly. Its sovereignty is meaningless in increasingly significant chunks of its territory, and, within the portions Musharraf is just about holding together, to an ever more radicalized generation of young Muslim men Miss Bhutto was entirely unacceptable as the leader of their nation. "Everyone’s an expert on Pakistan, a faraway country of which we know everything," I wrote last month. "It seems to me a certain humility is appropriate." The State Department geniuses thought they had it all figured out. They'd arranged a shotgun marriage between the Bhutto and Sharif factions as a "united" "democratic" "movement" and were pushing Musharraf to reach a deal with them. That's what diplomats do: They find guys in suits and get 'em round a table. But none of those representatives represents the rapidly evolving reality of Pakistan. Miss Bhutto could never have been a viable leader of a post-Musharraf settlement, and the delusion that she could have been sent her to her death. Earlier this year, I had an argument with an old (infidel) boyfriend of Benazir's, who swatted my concerns aside with the sweeping claim that "the whole of the western world" was behind her. On the streets of Islamabad, that and a dime'll get you a cup of coffee.

As I said, she was everything we in the west would like a Muslim leader to be. We should be modest enough to acknowledge when reality conflicts with our illusions. Rest in peace, Benazir.
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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Gen. David Petraeus - Man of the Year

Amen, in every way...T

I remember the excitement. It was the week before Christmas a year ago, and I had lazily picked up my copy of Time magazine. And there it was: Time's Person of the Year for 2006 is "You."

Wow! We deserved credit, Time judged, "for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game." Thanks, Time!

And thanks for not choosing the obvious alternative--Nancy Pelosi, who had led the Democratic takeover of Congress. That takeover, Time editors and many others hoped, heralded our withdrawal from Iraq. However much they may have desired that outcome, Time was lucky not to select Pelosi. In the subsequent 12 months, she and her colleagues failed to impose a defeat in Iraq. Instead, President Bush announced a new strategy and a new commander, General David Petraeus, in January 2007. And all the real achievements of this year belong to them.

We are now winning the war. To say this was not inevitable is an understatement. Even those of us who were early advocates and strong supporters of the surge, and who thought it could succeed, knew the situation had so deteriorated that success was by no means guaranteed. Two military experts told me early in 2007 that they thought the odds of success were, respectively, 1-in-3 and 1-in-4. They nonetheless supported the surge because, even at those odds, it was a gamble worth taking, so devastating would be the consequences of withdrawal and defeat. We at THE WEEKLY STANDARD thought the chances of success were better than 50-50--but that it remained a difficult proposition.

Petraeus pulled it off. The war is not over, of course. Too quick and deep a drawdown--which some in the Pentagon and elsewhere in the Bush administration are, appallingly, pushing for--could throw away the amazing success that has been achieved. Still: It is as clear as anything can be in this world, where we judge through a glass darkly, that General David H. Petraeus is, in fact, America's man of the year.

Time ludicrously chose to make Russia's ex-KGB agent-turned president Vladimir Putin its cover boy. They just couldn't make Petraeus man--oops--person of the year. Our liberal elites are so invested in a narrative of defeat and disaster in Iraq that to acknowledge the prospect of victory would be too head-wrenching and heart-rending. It would mean giving credit to George W. Bush, for one. And it would mean acknowledging American success in a war Time, and the Democratic party, and the liberal elites, had proclaimed lost.

The editors couldn't acknowledge their mugging by reality. That's fine. Nonetheless, reality exists. And the reality is that in Iraq, after mistakes and failures, thanks to the leadership of Bush, Petraeus, and General Ray Odierno--the day-to-day commander whose contributions shouldn't be overlooked--we are winning.

The reality is also this: The counterinsurgency campaign that Petraeus and Odierno conceived and executed in 2007 was as comprehensive a counterinsurgency strategy as has ever been executed. The heart of the strategy was a brilliant series of coordinated military operations throughout the entire theater. Petraeus and Odierno used conventional U.S. forces, Iraqi military and police, and Iraqi and U.S. Special Operations forces to strike enemy strongholds throughout Iraq simultaneously, while also working to protect the local populations from enemy responses. Successive operations across the theater knocked the enemy--both al Qaeda and Sunni militias, and Shia extremists--off balance and then prevented them from recovering. U.S. and Iraqi forces, supported by local citizens, chased the enemy from area to area, never allowing them the breathing space to reestablish safe havens, much less new bases. It wasn't "whack-a-mole" or "squeezing the water balloon" as some feared (and initially claimed)--it was the relentless pursuit of an increasingly defeated enemy.

That defeat has implications far beyond Iraq. In 2007, Iraq's Sunni Arabs fought with us against al Qaeda, and Iraq's Shia Arabs joined with us to fight Iranian-backed Shia militias. So much for the notion that Americans were doomed to fail in their efforts to mobilize moderate Muslims against jihadists. The progress in Iraq in 2007 represents a strategic breakthrough for the broader Middle East whose importance would be hard to overstate.

One additional point: Petraeus's counterinsurgency stands out not just for its conceptual ambition and the skill of its execution but for its humanity. There were those who argued that the U.S. military could not succeed in counterinsurgency because Americans were not tough and bloodthirsty enough. They said that brutality was essential in subduing insurgents and our humanity would be our downfall.

They were wrong. The counterinsurgency campaign of 2007 was probably the most precise, discriminate, and humane military operation ever undertaken on such a scale. Our soldiers and Marines worked hard--and took risks and even casualties--to ensure, as much as possible, that they hurt only enemies. Compared with any previous military operations of this size, they were astonishingly successful. The measure of their success lies in the fact that so many Iraqis now see American troops as friends and protectors. Petraeus and his generals have shown that Americans can fight insurgencies and win--and still be Americans. For that and so much else, he is the man of the year.
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Friday, December 21, 2007

Deja Vu

...all over again...T
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Monday, December 17, 2007

The Unbelievable Tenacity of George W. Bush

I concur - and have been saying so, consistently, throughout the past several years. Bush II will go in the history books as a great, not just good, President (er, the high school textbooks, all written by liberals, notwithstanding)...T

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat." --Theodore Roosevelt

Listening to the fatuous Al Gore claim his undeserved Nobel Prize and maunder on about how America is ruining the planet makes me realize how fortunate America is to have as its president George W. Bush. Yes, Bush has his ample share of failings. He occasionally speaks at the fifth-grade level. He is too willing to surround himself with cronies and sycophants. An unsupple man, Bush sometimes reminds me of the toy soldier who walks into the wall and keeps going.

Bush's weaknesses, however, are more than compensated for by his one great strength. This is a man with unbelievable tenacity. No American president in my lifetime, not even Reagan, had Bush's guts. Perhaps one would have to go all the way back to Franklin or Teddy Roosevelt to find comparable determination. On the international stage, Bush's stamina recalls that of Churchill. Consider: when Bush was elected in 2000 with the tiniest conceivable margin--a margin so slender it required Supreme Court intervention to place him in the Oval Office--I was sure that Bush's proposed tax cuts were dead. But no: Bush pushed ahead and got most of what he proposed. And the subsequent health of the economy--low interest rates, low unemployment, steady growth--has undoubtedly been nourished by Bush's tax cuts.

Then in 2006, after the midterm debacle, I thought that Bush's Iraq policy was finished. And you could hear the pundits and the newly-elected Democratic congressmen and the pathological Bush-haters gleefully declaring, "Now he's going to have to start pulling out of Iraq." Instead Bush pressed for an increase of 20,000-25,000 troops. Incredibly, he got it. Congress shrieked and howled but went along. The American people were very doubtful, but Bush serenely told them to "wait and see." Bush has seemingly singe-handedly pursued his vision for Iraq even when his allies both at home and abroad have dwindled or lost their nerve. And once again Bush's policy seems to be working. Iraq is becoming more peaceful, and apparently there are Shia and Sunni leaders cooperating with the Americans. The Bush-haters are still with us, but the wind has gone out of the antiwar movement.

Bush has had a tough second term in office. But I think history will be kinder to him than the opinion polls, at least in the past couple of years, have been. When the country looks back at Iraq and sees a standing, even if fragile, democracy, Americans will see that when they became impatient, Bush forged ahead. When they were ready to give up, he was undeterred. And as a consequence the Middle East has its first Muslim democracy, and a pro-American democracy to boot. The lesson of Iraq may well be: Thank God we didn't listen to those advocates of defeat on the left; if we had, it would have been Vietnam all over again.

The diplomat Clare Luce once wrote that history, which has no room for clutter, will remember every president by just one line. I'm not quite sure how Bill Clinton will be remembered: perhaps his only distinguishing mark will be the one that Paula Jones identified. As for Bush, he will go down in history as the president who refused to back down, and if staying the course in Iraq proves to be the right move, then Bush could be remembered as one of America's great presidents.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bush surging, not fading, as tenure's end nears

After reading this, the viewer may ask him, or herself, "why isn't the President's approval rating somewhere in the the 60's then?". The answer is simple and yet depressing - The Drive-by MSM. Never in my life have I seen such an open, coordinated effort to cripple a presidency in the press. Not with Reagan, not even with Nixon.

In the absence of scandal, in the face of an historic booming economy. With stout moral leadership, and with the most substantive and broad based tax cuts ever, excepting Reagan and JFK. After leading our nation through attack, near economic depression ( few know how close we came to this disastrous event after 9/11, with no economic activity at all occurring, without the terrorism insurance he forced through congress, among other reforms), and leading us to total victory in two wars, far across the globe, in record time and with historically low casualties.

Yes, after all this, the Drive-by MSM has successfully water boarded this presidency in the eyes of many - even blaming him for a hurricane, in a state with a liberal democrat governor and a liberal democrat city mayor - AFTER they refused his offer of help under the insurrection act!

Yes, President Bush will go into the history books as one of the greatest presidents of the 20th century...T

Recent polls placing President Bush’s approval numbers near 30 percent miss an important distinction: The policies and positions the president has advocated since 2001 have led to significant results in recent days. In short, the presidency of George W. Bush is surging, rather than waning, with little more than one year remaining in his term.

On the domestic front, the tax cuts the president pushed through the Congress have led to remarkable economic growth, low unemployment and record-high tax receipts that members of Congress can hardly wait to spend. New data released last week showed that America added 94,000 jobs in November 2007 — capping a remarkable 51 straight months in which jobs have been created in our economy. Despite partisan claims that the economy is soft, more than 8.3 million jobs have been created since August 2003 and unemployment remains low (4.7 percent). America remains open for business.

More Americans have more money in their savings accounts and in their wallets as a result of the Bush tax cuts. Despite talk on Capitol Hill of rolling back the president’s tax cuts that “benefit only the wealthy” Democrats have been loath to pass legislation and return to their districts to explain why raising taxes and eliminating the popular $500 per child tax credit is good public policy. Not going to happen anytime soon.

Roundly criticized back in 2001 for his position on stem cell research, the president’s resolve and strength to draw a moral boundary line to protect innocent unborn life has been vindicated. Despite the yammering that the president had hampered scientific progress in stem cell research, despite the vicious demagogy and false claims that if the president hadn’t placed restrictions on how federal funds were spent, people would rise and walk from their wheelchairs, scientists announced last week they could produce an embryo-free way to produce genetically matched stem cells. Or put another way, the president’s decision to draw a bright moral line against destroying human life while providing federal dollars for the first time to stimulate stem cell research has proven successful. The silence in the media about this remarkable development has been deafening.

Equally deafening have been the media (and congressional Democrats’) reaction to success on the ground in Iraq. After linking vital resources to fight the war on terrorism to a timetable for troop withdrawals, Congress has failed on numerous occasions in recent months to hamstring the president’s ability to conduct the war as commander in chief. And despite claims that the surge of troops and the leadership of Gen. David Petraeus and President Bush have failed, even ardent foe Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) has concluded that the surge in Iraq is working.

Not content to celebrate the success of our brave men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line every day to provide stability in a volatile region of the world, congressional Democrats now claim that while the surge might be working, the Iraqis have “failed” to produce meaningful political results on the ground. Once again, facts get in the way of those on the Hill who are pressing — wishing — for an American defeat on the ground in Iraq.

Absent from media coverage of late is the fact that the central government of Iraq has reached its 2007 budget revenue target of $30.2 billion. This figure is derived from oil revenues — revenues of which the Democrats have criticized the Iraqis and President Bush for not capturing to fund the cost of the new government in Baghdad. This criticism now rings hollow.

Similarly, 40 Iraqi leaders were killed in Iraq during the month of November and Lt. General Ray Odierno has reported that the has been a 23-week decline — nearly six months — in insurgent deaths and attacks upon Iraqi civilians. This decrease in violence has led thousands of civilians to return to the country each and every day to reopen their schools, businesses and neighborhoods that have long been abandoned due to violence.

In Mosul, the airport opened for the first time in 14 years for commercial aviation flights. In a region of the country long associated with violence, Iraqi Airlines is now open for business. While there is always a potential for violence to flare up, Iraqi civilians have returned home to provinces all around the country that had previously been strongholds held by terrorists and Saddam loyalists.

Political stability long thought to be an elusive dream is becoming a daily reality across Iraq.From the surge in Iraq, vindication with his stem cell position and strong economic development on the home front, President George W. Bush has hit his stride and is surging rather than limping into his last year in office. For those who have counted him out, the president remains resolute, perhaps comfortable in the knowledge that history, rather than bitter partisans in Washington, will favorably reflect on his two terms in office for waging an effective war against terrorism while demonstrating capable stewardship and remarkable domestic accomplishments during a time of war.
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Saturday, December 08, 2007

Keep Up the Pressure

This - "middle option" - makes the most sense to me right now, and at least has the grace and simplicity of covering all options. Take note of the effect that US military power (2nd to last paragraph) always has on shaping the political realities on the ground...T

For Democrats, good news in Iraq is bad news. For me, good news is good news, whether from Iraq or now from Iran. Facts are facts. And if the conclusions of the most recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) about Iran's nuclear program are true, they are moderately encouraging. Moderately only, because the NIE itself expressed only "moderate confidence" in its most sensational conclusion--that Iran had not restarted its previously suspended covert nuclear-weaponization program.

First, the good news. To go nuclear, you need three things: a) the raw material, b) the ability to turn the raw material into a weapon and c) the missiles with which to deliver the weapon. Regarding a and c, Iran is proceeding with alacrity and determination on uranium enrichment (with 2,000 to 3,000 centrifuges running) and on the development and testing of long-range missiles. It is the intermediate step--weaponizing the uranium into a bomb--that the intelligence estimate tells us has been suspended.

Now the caveats. First, weaponization is the most opaque of the three elements. Iran has never declared it or admitted it. Accurate information about it would be hardest to come by. Second, the logic is odd. We now believe weaponization was suspended in fall 2003, at the same time uranium enrichment was suspended. However, when uranium enrichment was resumed a few months after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's accession to power, the weaponization program (we are now told) was not.

This does not make a lot of sense. Uranium enrichment is more public and therefore more likely to bring sanctions--which, of course, it did. Why reactivate that and not the covert weaponization program--inherently a less open provocation? And why invest enormous resources on the centrifuges for enrichment and on the missiles for delivery if you're not going to eventually weaponize?

Nonetheless, we learned from the Iraq WMD debacle that logic has a limited place in assessing the behavior of radical regimes. Saddam Hussein bluffed his way into a war that cost him his regime and his life, when he could easily have come clean regarding a WMD program he no longer had. So we must be prepared to grant that bluff and pretense may be part of the Iranian nuclear game as well.

Third, we seem to be relying on one giant and juicy piece of information that came to the U.S. this summer. President George W. Bush said it then took time to determine whether it was disinformation. One can never be sure how these double- and triple-agent mirror games are played, which might be why the NIE is only "moderately confident" it has gotten this one right.

Assuming it has, the conclusion drawn by some--that this means Iran has abandoned its nuclear ambitions--is not just wrong but also contradicted by the NIE itself. Suspension does not mean abandonment. The program can be restarted at any time. The fact that huge amounts are still being spent on uranium enrichment and missile development--the other essentials for a nuclear-weapons program--while the weaponization part remains dormant is overwhelming evidence of a country that wants to go nuclear but is being restrained by international pressure.

Which is why the critics' claim that this NIE report is a mandate for a new and soft Iranian policy is wrong. John Edwards immediately said the report justified his vote against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and imposing sanctions on it. But the NIE's major conclusion is that Iran calibrates its nuclear efforts--including the suspension of the weaponization part--in a real-world cost-benefit reaction to outside pressure. It makes the case precisely for sanctions.

Moreover, the critics seem not to have noticed when uranium enrichment and weaponization were halted: fall 2003--before the rise of the Iraqi insurgency and while the shock and awe of the U.S.'s three-week conquest of Baghdad was still reverberating throughout the Middle East, scaring WMD pursuers, like Gaddafi's Libya, into giving up their nuclear programs altogether. Timing suggests that the American military option exercised in Iraq contributed to Iran's suspension of weaponization.

The military option may not be necessary right now. If weaponization has been suspended, the window for sanctions has been widened. But there is no reasonable argument for taking military action off the table. If the Iranians refuse to negotiate seriously--their new negotiator says all previous negotiations are void and talks now return to square one--the military option needs to be on the table and in plain view.
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Iran Curveball

Or, then again, there is this depressing possibility. This pattern has, certainly, been the most spectacular failing of the Bush administration(in stark contrast with his corrupt predecessor, who at least ran an admirably tight ship).

We have to remember that this is not just an inside the beltway, political intrigue story - Iran must be forced to abandon it's Nuclear ambitions at all cost...T

This latest intelligence fiasco is Mr. Bush's fault.

President Bush has been scrambling to rescue his Iran policy after this week's intelligence switcheroo, but the fact that the White House has had to spin so furiously is a sign of how badly it has bungled this episode. In sum, Mr. Bush and his staff have allowed the intelligence bureaucracy to frame a new judgment in a way that has undermined four years of U.S. effort to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions.

This kind of national security mismanagement has bedeviled the Bush Presidency. Recall the internal disputes over post-invasion Iraq, the smearing of Ahmad Chalabi by the State Department and CIA, hanging Scooter Libby out to dry after bungling the response to Joseph Wilson's bogus accusations, and so on. Mr. Bush has too often failed to settle internal disputes and enforce the results.

What's amazing in this case is how the White House has allowed intelligence analysts to drive policy. The very first sentence of this week's national intelligence estimate (NIE) is written in a way that damages U.S. diplomacy: "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program." Only in a footnote below does the NIE say that this definition of "nuclear weapons program" does "not mean Iran's declared civil work related to uranium conversion and enrichment."

In fact, the main reason to be concerned about Iran is that we can't trust this distinction between civilian and military. That distinction is real in a country like Japan. But we know Iran lied about its secret military efforts until it was discovered in 2003, and Iran continues to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, with 3,000 centrifuges, in defiance of binding U.N. resolutions. There is no civilian purpose for such enrichment. Iran has access to all the fuel it needs for civilian nuclear power from Russia at the plant in Bushehr. The NIE buries the potential danger from this enrichment, even though this enrichment has been the main focus of U.S. diplomacy against Iran.

In this regard, it's hilarious to see the left and some in the media accuse Mr. Bush once again of distorting intelligence. The truth is the opposite. The White House was presented with this new estimate only weeks ago, and no doubt concluded it had little choice but to accept and release it however much its policy makers disagreed. Had it done otherwise, the finding would have been leaked and the Administration would have been assailed for "politicizing" intelligence.

The result is that we now have NIE judgments substituting for policy in a dangerous way. For one thing, these judgments are never certain, and policy in a dangerous world has to account for those uncertainties. We know from our own sources that not everyone in American intelligence agrees with this NIE "consensus," and the Israelis have already made clear they don't either. The Jerusalem Post reported this week that Israeli defense officials are exercised enough that they will present their Iran evidence to Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, when he visits that country tomorrow.

For that matter, not even the diplomats at the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency agree with the NIE. "To be frank, we are more skeptical," a senior official close to the agency told the New York Times this week. "We don't buy the American analysis 100 percent. We are not that generous with Iran." Senator John Ensign, a Nevada Republican, is also skeptical enough that he wants Congress to establish a bipartisan panel to explore the NIE's evidence. We hope he keeps at it.

All the more so because the NIE heard 'round the world is already harming U.S. policy. The Chinese are backing away from whatever support they might have provided for tougher sanctions against Iran, while Russia has used the NIE as another reason to oppose them. Most delighted are the Iranians, who called the NIE a "victory" and reasserted their intention to proceed full-speed ahead with uranium enrichment. Behind the scenes, we can expect Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to expand their nuclear efforts as they conclude that the U.S. will now be unable to stop Iran from getting the bomb.

We reported earlier this week that the authors of this Iran NIE include former State Department officials who have a history of hostility to Mr. Bush's foreign policy. But the ultimate responsibility for this fiasco lies with Mr. Bush. Too often he has appointed, or tolerated, officials who oppose his agenda, and failed to discipline them even when they have worked against his policies. Instead of being candid this week about the problems with the NIE, Mr. Bush and his National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, tried to spin it as a victory for their policy. They simply weren't believable.

It's a sign of the Bush Administration's flagging authority that even many of its natural allies wondered this week if the NIE was really an attempt to back down from its own Iran policy. We only wish it were that competent.
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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Questions Raised by the NIE on Iran

This could potentially be the greatest Geopolitical breakthrough since Reagan induced the end of the Cold War. Save this one, and watch as the predicted future unfolds, hopefully, for all...T

December 4, 2007

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate released on Monday-the little bombshell that says Iran has had its nuclear weapons program on hold since 2003-raises two fundamental questions. First, if Iran really does not have a military weapons program, why has it resisted international inspections? Second, why is the United States allowing this news to break?

The Iranian motive for resisting inspections should first be considered.

For the past five years, Washington and Tehran have been engaged in on-again, off-again negotiations over Iraq's future. In these talks the Iranians have been at a sizable disadvantage. The United States has more than 100,000 troops in the country, while Iran's leverage is largely limited to its influence with many of the country's Shiite militias. This influence is a useful tool for denying the United States the ability to impose its desires, though it is not a powerful enough one to allow the Iranians to turn their own preferences into reality.

Moreover, given that the majority of Iran's population is either in or behind the Zagros Mountains, Iran might be difficult to invade, but it lacks military expeditionary capability. Its infantry-heavy army is designed for population control, not power projection. Therefore, for Iran to have a lever in manipulating events in its region, it must develop other playing cards.

Its nuclear program is one of those cards. Iran has had a vested interest in convincing the world-unofficially, of course-that it possesses a nuclear program. For Iran, the nuclear program is a trump card to be traded away, not a goal in and of itself.

As to the U.S. motive, it also wanted to play up the nuclear threat. Part of Washington's negotiation strategy has been to isolate Iran from the rest of the international community. Charges that Iran desired nukes were an excellent way to marshal international action. Both sides had a vested interest in making Iran look the part of the wolf.

That no longer is the case. There are only two reasons the U.S. government would choose to issue a report that publicly undermines the past four years of its foreign policy: a deal has been struck, or one is close enough that an international diplomatic coalition is no longer perceived as critical. This level of coordination across all branches of U.S. intelligence could not happen without the knowledge and approval of the CIA director, the secretaries of defense and state, the national security adviser and the president himself. This is not a power play; this is the real deal.

The full details of any deal are unlikely to be made public any time soon because the U.S. and Iranian publics probably are not yet ready to consider each other as anything short of foes. But the deal is by design integrated into both states' national security posture. It will allow for a permanent deployment of U.S. forces in Iraq to provide minimal national security for Iraq, but not in large enough numbers to be able to launch a sizable attack against Iran. It will allow for the training and equipping of the Iraqi military forces so that Iraq can defend itself, but not so much that it could boast a meaningful offensive force. It will integrate Iranian intelligence and military personnel into the U.S. effort so there are no surprises on either side.

But those are the details. Here is the main thrust: Ultimately, both sides have nursed deep-seated fears. The Iranians do not want the Americans to assist in the rise of another militaristic Sunni power in Baghdad-the last one inflicted 1 million Iranian casualties during 1980-1988 war. The United States does not want to see Iran dominate Iraq and use it as a springboard to control Arabia; that would put some 20 million barrels per day of oil output under a single power. The real purpose of the deal is to install enough bilateral checks in Iraq to ensure that neither nightmare scenario happens.

Should such an arrangement stick, the two biggest winners obviously are the Americans and Iranians. That is not just because the two no longer would be in direct conflict, and not just because both would have freed up resources for other tasks.

U.S. geopolitical strategy is to prevent the rising of a power on a continental scale that has the potential to threaten North America. It does this by favoring isolated powers that are resisting larger forces. As powerful as Iran is, it is the runt of the neighborhood when one looks past the political lines on maps and takes a more holistic view. Sunnis outnumber Shia many times over, and Arabs outnumber Persians. Indeed, Persians make up only roughly half of Iran's population, making Tehran consistently vulnerable to outside influence. Simply put, the United States and Iran-because of the former's strategy and the latter's circumstances-are natural allies.

On the flip side, the biggest losers are those entities that worry about footloose and fancy-free Americans and Iranians. The three groups at the top of that list are the Iraqis, the Russians and the Arabs. Washington and Tehran will each sell out their proxies in Iraq in a heartbeat for the promise of an overarching deal. Now is the time for the Kurds, Sunni and Shia of Iraq to prove their worth to either side; those who resist will be smears on the inside of history's dustbin.

Separately, a core goal of U.S. foreign policy is to ensure that the Russians never again threaten North America, and to a lesser degree, Europe. A United States that is not obsessed with Tehran is one that has the freedom to be obsessed with Moscow. And do not forget that the last state to occupy portions of Iran was not the United States, but Russia. Persia has a long memory and there are scores to settle in the Caucasus.

Back in the Middle East, U.S. foreign policy has often supported the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, favoring the weak against the strong in line with the broad strategy discussed above. A United States that does not need to contain Iran is a United States that can leverage an Iran that very much wishes to be leveraged. That potentially puts the Arabs on the defensive on topics ranging from investment to defense. The Arabs tend to get worried whenever the Americans or the Iranians look directly at them; that is nothing compared to the emotions that will swirl the first time that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and U.S. President George W. Bush shake hands.

We expect the days and weeks ahead to be marked by a blizzard of activity as various players in Washington and Tehran attempt both to engage directly and to prepare the ground (still) for a final deal. Much will be dramatic, much will be contradictory, much will make no sense whatsoever. This is, after all, still the Middle East. But keep this in mind: With the nuclear issue out of the way, the heavy lifting has already been done and some level of understanding on Iraq's future already is in place. All that remains is working out the "details."

Stratfor is a private intelligence company delivering in-depth analysis, assessments and forecasts on global geopolitical, economic, security and public policy issues. A variety of subscription-based access, free intelligence reports and confidential consulting are available for individuals and corporations.
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Friday, November 30, 2007

Republicans Report Much Better Mental Health Than Others

Relationship persists even when controlling for other variables

...What a surprise (not)! As they say, "tell me something I don't already know". Look at the stats, its hilarious: Republicans are the most mentally healthy, followed by independent squishy types, and trailing, badly!, are the dumbocrats...T

PRINCETON, NJ -- Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats or independents to rate their mental health as excellent, according to data from the last four November Gallup Health and Healthcare polls. Fifty-eight percent of Republicans report having excellent mental health, compared to 43% of independents and 38% of Democrats. This relationship between party identification and reports of excellent mental health persists even within categories of income, age, gender, church attendance, and education.

The basic data -- based on an aggregated sample of more than 4,000 interviews conducted since 2004 -- are straightforward.

...But an analysis of the relationship between party identification and self-reported excellent mental health within various categories of age, gender, church attendance, income, education, and other variables shows that the basic pattern persists regardless of these characteristics. In other words, party identification appears to have an independent effect on mental health even when each of these is controlled for.

...What are the implications of these findings?

Correlation is no proof of causation, of course. The reason the relationship exists between being a Republican and more positive mental health is unknown, and one cannot say whether something about being a Republican causes a person to be more mentally healthy, or whether something about being mentally healthy causes a person to choose to become a Republican (or whether some third variable is responsible for causing both to be parallel).

...But the key finding of the analyses presented here is that being a Republican appears to have an independent relationship on positive mental health above and beyond what can be explained by these types of demographic and lifestyle variables. The exact explanation for this persistent relationship -- as noted -- is unclear.
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Two Hours of Humiliation

Good job CNN (known to all, now and forever, as the Clinton News Network)! I remember one of their reporters in the 90's, commenting live on the Monicagate fiasco, that she "would gladly get down on my knees and service him, for keeping abortion legal!"

Now, this is state of the modern MSM drive-by media, and anyone who disagrees is either hyper partisan, willfully ignorant, or suffers some form of mental disease...T

When the CNN-You Tube debate among Republican presidential candidates began with a guy named Chris Nandor playing a guitar and singing, my wife Barbara exclaimed, "This is humiliating. This is really bad." Of course she was right. And then things got worse. This debate not only was mortifying to the candidates. It also should have been embarrassing to the viewers, especially Republican voters who might have been watching.

I don't know if the folks who put the debate together were purposely trying to make the Republican candidates look bad, but they certainly succeeded. True, the candidates occasionally contributed. For the first few minutes, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney continued their debate over their records on immigration and did so with the kind of intensity that this trivial matter didn't warrant. These are two fine candidates who have only themselves to blame for looking petty.

But it was chiefly the questions and who asked them that made the debate so appalling. By my recollection, there were no questions on health care, the economy, trade, the S-chip children's health care issue, the "surge" in Iraq, the spending showdown between President Bush and Congress, terrorist surveillance, or the performance of the Democratic Congress.

Instead there were questions - ones moderator Anderson Cooper kept insisting had required a lot of time and effort by the questioners - on the Confederate flag, Mars, Giuliani's rooting for the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, whether Ron Paul might run as an independent for president, and the Bible. The best response to these questions was Romney's refusal to discuss what the Confederate flag represents. Fred Thompson discussed it.

The most excruciating episode occurred when Cooper allowed a retired general in the audience to drone on with special pleading in favor of allowing gays in the military. This was a setup. The general had asked a question by video, then suddenly appeared in the crowd and got the mike. The aim here could only have been to make the Republican candidates, all of whom oppose gays in the military, squirm. As it turned out, they didn't appear to. The general turns out to be a Clinton supporter, by the way.

By my count, of the 30-plus questions, there were 6 on immigration, 3 on guns, 2 on abortion, 2 on gays, and one on whether the candidates believe every word in the Bible. These are exactly the issues, in the view of liberals and many in the media, on which Republicans look particularly unattractive. And there were two questions by African Americans premised loosely on the notion that blacks get nothing from Republicans and have no reason to vote for them.

These questions would better be asked of Democrats at one of their presidential debates. After all, the biggest news so far at a Democratic debate was when Hillary Clinton muffed a question about illegal immigrants and drivers' licenses.

My impression was that Ron Paul, the libertarian, got considerably more attention than he usually does in debates and far more than he deserves as a marginal candidate. At least Paul's harping on the need to keep American troops at home prompted one good exchange. John McCain's response to Paul was that he'd been with the troops on Thanksgiving and their message was, "Let us win. Let us win. Let us win."

Nonetheless, it was a good night for Paul if only because he was treated as a major political figure rather than as the Republican version of Dennis Kucinich. The other candidates, with the exception of Mike Huckabee, were losers. They came off as a bunch of squabbling cousins.

Huckabee, though, knows how to conduct himself in TV debates. He's genial, funny, extremely likable, and not very substantive. He seems to understand that a CNN-You Tube debate is not a serious forum at which serious people discuss serious issues. So he doesn't get worked up, and this posture works.

At the end of the debate, I was left with one question. Why would Republican candidates with a chance of actually winning the presidential nomination subject themselves to two hours of humiliation? I wish the candidates had been asked that. It would have the highlight of the evening.
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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The World Doesn't Hate America, the Left Does

Right on Dennis! We (USA) never made policy only on the condition it pleased the World's other countries before...(Quiz: remember the INF deployment in the 80's?!). Guess when we started? Right - when G.W. Bush became president and decided that allowing us to be bombed, kidnapped and Nuked was no longer a wise option.

Has anyone in the drive-by msm noticed that all the countries that opposed us in Iraq have tossed out their socialist leaders and replaced them with staunchly pro American ones? Sarkozy in France? Merkel in Germany? All of whom fully support our mission of democratization? And who ever started caring what that dictator Putin thinks in the USSR, er, Russia? ;)...T

One of the most widely held beliefs in the contemporary world -- so widely held it is not disputed -- is that, with few exceptions, the world hates America. One of the Democrats' major accusations against the Bush administration is that it has increased hatred of America to unprecedented levels. And in many polls, the United States is held to be among the greatest obstacles to world peace and harmony.

But it is not true that the world hates America. It is the world's left that hates America. However, because the left dominates the world's news media and because most people, understandably, believe what the news media report, many people, including Americans, believe that the world hates America.

That it is the left -- and those influenced by the left-leaning news and entertainment media -- that hates America can be easily shown.

Take Western Europe, which is widely regarded as holding America in contempt, but upon examination only validates our thesis. The French, for example, are regarded as particularly America-hating, but if this were so, how does one explain the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France? Sarkozy loves America and was known to love America when he ran for president. Evidently, it is the left in France -- a left that, like the left in America, dominates the media, arts, universities and unions -- that hates the U.S., not the French.

The same holds true for Spain, Australia, Britain, Latin America and elsewhere. The left in these countries hate the United States while non-leftists, and especially conservatives, in those countries hold America in high regard, if not actually love it.

Take Spain. The prime minister of Spain from 1996 to 2004, Jose Maria Aznar, is a conservative who holds America in the highest regard. He was elected twice, and polls in Spain up to the week before the 2004 election all predicted a third term for Aznar's party (Aznar had promised not to run for a third term). Only the Madrid subway bombings, perpetrated by Muslim terrorists three days before the elections, but which the Aznar government erroneously blamed on Basque separatists, turned the election against the conservative party.

There is another obvious argument against the belief that the world hates America: Many millions of people would rather live in America than in any other country. How does the left explain this? Why would people want to come to a country they loathe? Why don't people want to live in Sweden or France as much as they wish to live in America? Those are rich and free countries, too.

The answer is that most people know there is no country in the world more accepting of strangers as is America. After three generations, people who have emigrated to Germany or France or Sweden do not feel -- and are not regarded as -- fully German, French or Swedish. Yet, anyone of any color from any country is regarded as American the moment he or she identifies as one. The country that the left routinely calls "xenophobic" and "racist" is in fact the least racist and xenophobic country in the world.
Given that it is the left and the institutions it dominates -- universities, media (other than talk radio in America) and unions -- that hate America, two questions remain: Why does the left hate America, and does the American left, too, hate America?

The answer to the first question is that America and especially the most hated parts of America -- conservatives, religious conservatives in particular -- are the greatest obstacles to leftist dominance. American success refutes the socialist ideals of the left; American use of force to vanquish evil refutes the left's pacifist tendencies; America is the last great country that believes in putting some murderers to death, something that is anathema to the left; when America is governed by conservatives, it uses the language of good and evil, language regarded by the left as "Manichean"; most Americans still believe in the Judeo-Christian value system, another target of the left because the left regards all religions as equally valid (or more to the point, equally foolish and dangerous) and regards God-based morality as the moral equivalent of alchemy.

It makes perfect sense that the left around the world loathes America. The final question, then, is whether this loathing of America is characteristic of the American left as well. The answer is that the American left hates the America that believes in American exceptionalism, is prepared to use force to fight what it deems as dangerous evil, affirms the Judeo-Christian value system, believes in the death penalty, supports male-female marriage, rejects big government, wants lower taxes, prefers free market to governmental solutions, etc. The American left, like the rest of the world's left, loathes that America.

So what America does the American left love? That is for those on the left to answer. But given their beliefs that America was founded by racists and slaveholders, that it is an imperialist nation, that 35 million Americans go hungry, that it invades countries for corporate profits, and that it is largely racist and xenophobic, it is a fair question.
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Monday, November 26, 2007

Iraq’s Savage Ironies - Adaptability, self-critique, and persistence will prevail

Excellent overview of the effect that victory in Iraq has had on our traditional and future global security aliances. Also how the press (the MSM drive-by version), got it all wrong from the start. Note that Europe is now pro american (more so than before the Iraq war), that Iraq is not just won, but that Al Queda is resoundingly defeated, and most importantly, humiliated and now detested by the Arab "street".

"it was not the American military that was ruined fighting an unpopular war in the heart of the ancient caliphate, but most likely al Qaeda who has lost thousands, (and, far more importantly, completely destroyed its Pan-Arabic mystique of religious purity).

The more the jihadists fought, the more they were killed by the U.S. military — while kidnapping, murdering, stealing, mutilating, raping, and outraging Iraqi civilians. Nothing is worse in the Arab world than to be seen as weak and cruel, and al Qaeda proved, eventually, to be both on Al-Jazeera"


The war in Iraq — as all wars — is fraught with savage ironies. In the build-up to the invasion, anti-Americanism in Europe reached a near frenzy. It was whipped up by French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and evoked warnings of an eternal split in the Atlantic Alliance. If Iraq had proved a catalyst for this expression of near hatred — fueled by long-standing angers and envies — it soon, however, proved to be a catharsis as well.

Both leaders overplayed their hands when the U.S. had already begun downsizing its NATO deployments in Germany. Elsewhere, Europeans started to have second thoughts about alienating America at a time of rising Russian belligerency, and suffered from increased worry over radical Islamic terrorists, at home and abroad.

The result is that their successors, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, are staunchly pro-American in ways their previous governments were not, even well before the Iraq War. And given the increased jihadist threats to Europe, worries about Iran, and the consistency of the U.S. effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, these governments may well have learned — in a way they did not anticipate in 2003 — that there really is no other ally like a steadfast United States, in these unstable times.

European youth can print all the anti-war leaflets they wish with splashy photos from Abu Ghraib — but their leaders quietly understand not only that the United States did not quit Iraq in defeat, but that it also may be winning an unforeseen victory there. Moreover, they see that this victory has repercussions for the security of their own countries — and this will require readjustments to the easy anti-Americanism of the past.

The post-war occupation was supposed to be difficult, but few envisioned a bloody four-year struggle. Instead, after the fall of Saddam, al Qaeda chose to escalate its war against the West by sending thousands of jihadists into the new battleground of Iraq — in part, to aid the Sunni and ex-Baathist insurgencies in their wars against the U.S., and the Shiites. The violence that ensued left tens of thousands dead, and resulted in nearly 4,000 American battle fatalities. We spent nearly a trillion dollars, as public support dropped from a 70-percent approval of the war to less than 40-percent.

Yet it was not the American military that was ruined fighting an unpopular war in the heart of the ancient caliphate, but most likely al Qaeda who has lost thousands, (and, far more importantly, completely destroyed its Pan-Arabic mystique of religious purity).

The more the jihadists fought, the more they were killed by the U.S. military — while kidnapping, murdering, stealing, mutilating, raping, and outraging Iraqi civilians. Nothing is worse in the Arab world than to be seen as weak and cruel, and al Qaeda proved, eventually, to be both on Al-Jazeera.

After Iraq, the al Qaedists’ reputation has become more akin to the Cosa Nostra, than to romantic Holy Warriors. It was not our intention in going to Iraq to cripple and discredit al Qaeda per se, in some third-party theater; but once the jihadists upped the ante, they also raised the stakes of being defeated with global implications to follow. Polls in the Arab world show a decline in support for suicide bombing, and a radical change of heart about bin Laden.

We made all sorts of mistakes in the immediate aftermath of the war. Pundits still bicker over whether we should have disbanded the Baathist army — or whether there was anything much left to disband. And by openly allying ourselves with the once-despised Shiites, we alienated the powerful Sunni elite minority that not only had run the country, but alone in Iraq, knew how to administer the infrastructure of a modern state.

All that being said, it is difficult to see how we could have immediately reconciled with the Sunnis, given their past alliances with Saddam, and their furor at the results of our one-man/one-vote policy of democratization. It was as if the British had landed at Mobile in 1859, declared slavery over, and expected the Southern white population to join in such a foreign-inspired multi-racial reconstruction.

Yet four years later, the Sunni insurgency is largely over — but largely over only because it has been defeated by the U.S. military. Tribal sheiks feel that they have restored the honor that was lost in Saddam’s three-week rout, by fighting the Americans tooth-and-nail for four years. That said, they now have learned that resistance brought them nothing but defeat and, if it continues, abject humiliation.

So there is a sort of tragic irony here too. It may well be that the Sunni tribes have learned, only through their failed insurgency, that they cannot defeat the U.S. military; that their Sunni al Qaeda allies were far worse than we are; that the Shiite government is not going away; and that the United States is an honest broker of sorts that is advancing their interests with the Shiite majority.

The unexpected result of all this is that it is only now — after the Sunnis have fought, lost, and learned the futility of continued resistance — that there a better chance for a lasting stability. It is impossible to imagine that the Southern Plantationists in 1860 would have been willing to reconcile with the North, or that Germans would have come to their senses and rejected Hitler in 1939. If the old dictum remains valid, that a war’s reconstruction and reconciliation come after, not before, the defeat of an enemy, then it may well be that the Sunnis had to learn the hard truth, the hard way, about the perversity of al Qaeda, the military superiority of the United States, and the permanence of the Iraqi constitutional government.

It is sometimes said that someone must be culpable for not finding a David Petraeus and his team of brilliant colonels earlier in the conflict. I wish it were that easy.

But such a conjecture is like saying Lincoln should have known of a Grant or Sherman at the war’s outset; or that earlier Union generals, even in error and blunder, did not attrite the enemy and provide both experience (even if by negative example), and some military advantage when Grant and Sherman finally emerged to positions of real influence; or that a Grant and Sherman did not themselves learn the necessary, prerequisite skills for their prominent command in 1864-5, while in obscurity during 1861-2.

The emergence of a Patton, LeMay, or Ridgway is usually through a process of distillation, where a military learns only from its mistakes, and only slowly sorts out the right people for the right job at the right moment. We should also remember that we did not suddenly discover the proper strategy for Iraq. We learned it only through the heroic sacrifices of thousands of lost Americans who took a heavy toll on the enemy all through 2003-6, and, in four years of trial and error, provided the lethal experience of what would and what would not work.

The war’s savage irony even extends to the reconstruction. Iraq by now was supposed to be pumping over 3 million barrels a day during the post-Saddam reconstruction. But due to vandalism, insurgent attacks, corruption, and neglect, the oil industry rarely currently sustains over 2.2. million barrels produced per day — despite a capacity to pump 3 million, and a potential some day to produce perhaps over six million per day.

Yet, because oil prices, in unforeseen fashion, have more than quadrupled since the war, Iraq finds itself with more petroleum revenues than ever before. Its total oil annual worth may reach $70 billion at the present price in the upcoming year, even without much of a change in production levels.

Electricity production has hit 5,000 megawatts per day and is climbing steadily, but consumption has skyrocketed from prewar levels. If Iraqis would consume electricity at prewar levels, they would probably now have power almost 24-hours per day. What the coalition and the Iraqi ministries are trying to do, then, is, at a time of war, protect and restore electrical service, but at the same time increase it threefold to meet increased demand brought on by millions of imported electrical appliances.

Nothing is for certain in any war — as the savage ironies of Iraq have shown the last four years. Few envisioned the initial brilliant three-week war, and the utter and rapid defeat of Saddam. Fewer foresaw the ensuing bloody four-year occupation. And the fewest of all anticipated that out of that mess, the present chance at stability and a real reconciliation under a constitutional framework could come.

The lessons are only the eternal ones: that wars won’t be fought as believed and won’t end as planned, but that adaptability, self-critique, and persistence, in an effort believed to be both right and necessary, will eventually prevail.
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Monday, November 19, 2007

It's true: Iraq is a quagmire

But the Real Story is Not Something You Have Heard

We've won in Iraq, and this is an accomplishment for the ages - it was really inevitable all along, supposing we kept the Drive-Bye-MSM and the democrat defeatists from snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. This will transform the entire Middle East - mark my words...T

We're floundering in a quagmire in Iraq. Our strategy is flawed, and it's too late to change it. Our resources have been squandered, our best people killed, we're hated by the natives and our reputation around the world is circling the drain. We must withdraw.

No, I'm not channeling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. I'm channeling Osama bin Laden, for whom the war in Iraq has been a catastrophe. Al-Qaida had little presence in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein. But once he was toppled, al-Qaida's chieftains decided to make Iraq the central front in the global jihad against the Great Satan.

"The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this third world war, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation," Osama bin Laden said in an audiotape posted on Islamic Web sites in December 2004. "It is raging in the land of the Two Rivers. The world's millstone and pillar is Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate."

Jihadis, money and weapons were poured into Iraq. All for naught. Al-Qaida has been driven from every neighborhood in Baghdad, Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil, the U.S. commander there, said Nov. 7. This follows the expulsion of al-Qaida from two previous "capitals" of its Islamic Republic of Iraq, Ramadi and Baquba.

Al-Qaida is evacuating populated areas and is trying to establish hideouts in the Hamrin mountains in northern Iraq, with U.S. and Iraqi security forces, and former insurgent allies who have turned on them, in hot pursuit. Forty-five al-Qaida leaders were killed or captured in October alone.

Al-Qaida's support in the Muslim world has plummeted, partly because of the terror group's lack of success in Iraq, more because al-Qaida's attacks have mostly killed Muslim civilians.

"Iraq has proved to be the graveyard, not just of many al-Qaida operatives, but of the organization's reputation as a defender of Islam," said StrategyPage.

Canadian columnist David Warren speculated some years ago that enticing al-Qaida to fight there was one of the reasons why President Bush decided to invade Iraq. The administration has made so many egregious mistakes that I doubt the "flypaper" strategy was deliberate. But it has worked out that way. It may have been a mistake for the United States to go to war in Iraq. But it's pretty clear now it was a blunder for al-Qaida to have done so.

You may not be aware of the calamities that have befallen al-Qaida, because our news media have paid scant attention to them.

"The situation has changed so unmistakably and so swiftly that we should be reading proud headlines daily," said Ralph Peters, a retired Army lieutenant colonel. "Where are they?"

Richard Benedetto was for many years the White House correspondent for USA Today. Now retired, he teaches journalism at American University in Washington, D.C.

When U.S. troop deaths hit a monthly high in April, that was front-page news in most major newspapers, Mr. Benedetto noted. But when U.S. troop deaths fell in October to their lowest levels in 17 months, that news was buried on page A-14 of The Washington Post and mentioned on Page A-12 in The New York Times. (The Post-Gazette put the story on the front page.)

"I asked the class if burying or ignoring the story indicated an anti-war bias on the part of the editors or their papers," Mr. Benedetto said. "While some students said yes ... most attributed the decision to poor news judgment. They were being generous."

Mr. Peters suspects the paucity of news coverage from Iraq these days is because "things are going annoyingly well."

Rich Lowry agrees. "The United States may be the only country in world history that reverse-propagandizes itself, magnifying its setbacks and ignoring its successes so that nothing can disturb what Sen. Joe Lieberman calls the 'narrative of defeat,' " he wrote in National Review.

If what Mr. Peters, Mr. Benedetto and Mr. Lowry suspect is true, it must have pained The Associated Press to see a correspondent write Wednesday: "The trend toward better security is indisputable." It'll be interesting to see which newspapers run the AP story, and where in the paper they place it.

"We've won the war in the real Iraq, but few people in America are familiar with anything other than its make-believe version," said the Mudville Gazette's "Greyhawk," a soldier currently serving his second tour in Iraq.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hillary Backs Spitzer Dropping Illegal Alien License Plan

OK, Hillary can now say, perhaps, "I was for licences for illegals before I was against it!" , as Kerry did. She just issued a statement supporting licences for illegals last week, after all. What a craven hypocrite...T

Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton today said she supports New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s decision to drop his plan to issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens as vigorously as she had backed his effort to issue such licenses in the first place.

“I support what governors are trying to do to address illegal immigration,” said Sen. Clinton, “whether they’re taking action to change the system, like Gov. Spitzer was, or caving to political pressure to maintain the broken system, like Gov. Spitzer did today. I think it makes a lot of sense, and simply highlights the failure of George Bush to take Spitzer-like leadership on immigration.”

Asked whether her statement means that states should not issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, Sen. Clinton denied it and accused a reporter of trying to “play gotcha.” “I didn’t say he shouldn’t do it, nor that he should,” said Sen. Clinton, “I only said I recognize that whatever he does I can understand because George Bush makes us all do irrational things.”
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Iraqi thoughts

VDH summarises the situation on the ground in Iraq - and the geopolitical fallout, very well here. I've always said, even at the height of the insurgency, and will say again now: The quickest victory, with the fewest casualties, in the history of warfare!

There is a terrific book, that puts this all in perspective, by Norman Podhoretz - "World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism" (he describes WWIII as the Cold War, ending when the Berlin wall fell)...T

The New Iraqi Debate

Now that the Democrats suspect that the U.S. is not only not losing Iraq, but may well “win”—victory being defined by stabilizing the country with a radical cessation of violence—expect the critique suddenly to morph as well.

We will soon hear that the war, while granted that it may be winnable, was not worth the commensurate cost, from liberal critics who have embraced much of the realist and neo-isolationist creed of the past (at least apart from Darfur). That is a legitimate debate—as long as opponents accept that it is a fallback position, and Harry Reid was mistaken when he announced the war “lost”.

Also expect Democrats to find ways to exaggerate the aggregate costs (like counting the rise from 20-100 dollars a barrel for oil entirely due to the Iraqi war without notice of the new Chinese/Indian demand, unrest in Africa, and declining production from the UK to the US), while Republicans will claim that Iraq is part of a larger existential war against Islamic extremism. How to resolve the dispute?

It depends on whether Iraq is stable—and the effect it has on Lebanon, Iran, Syria, the Palestinians, etc. I know such thinking is now dubbed “Neocon” warmongering and worse, but should the constitutional government in Iraq encourage reform in the region, then it would be impossible to compute all the multifarious ways in which that would contribute to world stability and US security. We’ll see, and 2008 for a variety of reasons will be interesting to say the least.

Iraqi Turn-about

I posted this thought the other day on NRO about the radical change in Iraq. There are three sub-texts rarely discussed—at least publicly—about the so-called Anbar awakening. First, oil is now $98 a barrel. Even with oil production still not quite at 2003 levels, the Iraqi government is raking in an enormous amount of cash—the equivalent of Iraq pumping about 7-8 million barrels per day at the 2002-3 price. Even if oil production were to stay flat (and some think it may climb to over 3 million b. a day by next year), Iraq might earn per annum well over $70 billion from oil alone at the present price. And for all the inefficiency and corruption, the money is starting to permeate Iraq, as any can attest from the storefronts stuffed with consumer goods and the astronomical climb in Iraqi demand for electricity. And Iraq is not the Saudi desert, but has the richest and best irrigated land in the Middle East, with an ideal commercially-strategic location, all suggesting that without Saddam’s wastrels, the country could very rapidly turn things around.

Second, the US military has eliminated a large number of terrorists, insurgents and general terrorists since 2003. Given the noxious fumes of Vietnam-era “body-counts” we don’t mention this. But many of the sheiks suffered horrendous losses among their tribes to the US in the past four years that led to some demoralization and the simple absence of their more skilled and veteran fighters. So, when they weighed the odds—increasing oil-generated wealth on the one hand versus being mowed down by the US on the other—the choice was to join us.

Third, for all the criticism of the Shiite government, it continued to function despite hourly threats and constant assassinations, both from Iranian-backed extremists and Sunni-backed Al-Qaedists. It has been a congressional pastime to trash the Iraqis, but few people in the world have so braved daily mayhem and still clung to a constitutional government process, however sometimes exasperating.

I’m not suggesting that the repugnance of al Qaeda, concern that the US pressure the Shiite government to help Sunnis, or machinations about the future did not play a role in bringing the Sunni tribes to our sides. But the notion that life could be pretty good with oil wealth and without US bullets—coupled with the acknowledgment that the elected government wasn’t going to quit or flee—played a large role in turning things around.
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Monday, November 05, 2007

A Watershed Moment on Immigration

Finally a clear articulation of this issue, with which I fully agree...T

October 2007 may turn out to be the month that immigration became a key issue in presidential politics. It hasn't been, at least in my lifetime.

The Immigration Act of 1965, which turned out to open up America to mass immigration after four decades of restrictive laws, wasn't one of the Great Society issues Lyndon Johnson emphasized in 1964. The Immigration Act of 1986, which legalized millions of illegal immigrants but whose border and workplace provisions have never been effectively enforced, was a bipartisan measure unmentioned in the debates between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale.

There was no perceptible difference on immigration between George W. Bush and Al Gore in 2000. Both favored a comprehensive bill with legalization and guest-worker provisions. John Kerry in 2006 and 2007 voted for immigration bills along the lines supported by Bush.

Now, things look different. In the Democratic debate on Oct. 30, Tim Russert demanded to know whether Hillary Clinton supported New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's policy of issuing driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. The forthright answer: yes and no. A clarifying statement by the Clinton campaign later in the week did not much clarify things: a hedged yes. It was one of several issues on which Clinton seemed to take calculating and ambiguous non-positions. But it is one that may have major reverberations in the presidential campaign -- and in congressional races, as well.

The reason is that the Democrats -- and Bush -- are out of line with public opinion on the issue. That became clear as the Senate debated a comprehensive immigration bill in May and June. Most Republicans and many Democrats, in the Senate and among the public, turned against the bill. Supporters of the bill tended to ascribe that to something like racism: They just don't like having so many Mexicans around.

But if you listened to the opponents, you heard something else. They want the current law to be enforced. It bothers them that we have something like 12 million illegal immigrants in our country. It bothers them that most of the southern border is unfenced and unpatrolled. It bothers them that illegal immigrants routinely use forged documents to get jobs -- or are given jobs with no documents at all.

You don't have to be a racist to be bothered by such things. You just have to be a citizen who thinks that massive failure to enforce the law is corrosive to society.

That was apparent to me as I listened to a focus group of Republican voters in suburban Richmond, Va., conducted by Peter Hart for the Annenberg School of Communications. One voter after another complained that the immigration laws were not being enforced. None of them made any derogatory remarks about Latino immigrants -- two said they admired how hard they work. They don't want to see Latinos banished from this country. They want the immigrants here to be legally here.

Which leaves Democratic politicians and political candidates out on a pretty flimsy limb. Most of them reflexively back a comprehensive bill, and some of them (like Bush and a number of Republicans backing such a bill) have dismissed opponents as racists.

Most Democrats have also been backing bills extending various benefits to illegal immigrants, like the Dream Act for college education for illegals brought over as children. There are appealing arguments for such bills. But most voters reject them. And most voters certainly reject driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. That was one of the issues that led to the recall of Gov. Gray Davis in California in 2003.

The Republican presidential candidates have taken note. Only John McCain, a longtime backer of a comprehensive bill, stands apart, and he concedes that voters are demanding tougher enforcement. In the special congressional election in Massachusetts on Oct. 5, the Republican was able to hold the Democrat to 51 percent by stressing immigration as one of his two top issues.

Other Republicans are likely to echo that theme next fall. And the Democratic presidential nominee (unless Chris Dodd gets the nod) is going to have to explain why she or he believes it's a good idea to give illegal immigrants driver's licenses.

The last several Democratic nominees could have said that they're just taking the same position as their Republican opponent. The 2008 nominee won't be able to say the same of hers or his (unless McCain gets the nod).

"The centrality of illegal immigration to the current discontent about the direction of the country may be taking us back again to a welfare moment," write the shrewd Democratic strategists James Carville and Stanley Greenberg. Yup.
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Friday, November 02, 2007

Breck Girl Ad Slams Mrs. Clinton

This is the kind of add we need to do in the general election, as Rush said today...T

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Day Later, Clinton Embraces Spitzer’s License Effort

That's it, she's toast! no way she wins in the General election now. Independents recoil from giving drivers licences to Illegals (after which, they could easily obtain passports and welfare and other document entitling them to government largess).

Lost in the "She tries to have it both ways" spin lifesaver that the Drive By's have thrown to her is the fact, recorded here below, that she is now on record as officially endorsing this crazy idea. This is eerily reminiscent of Michael Dukakis and Willie Horton, in what it says about the values of the candidate...T

A day after she appeared to struggle to give her views on the subject, Hillary Rodham Clinton offered support today for Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s effort to award New York driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, as her campaign sought to contain potentially damaging fallout from a what her own supporters saw as a tense and listless debate performance.

Mrs. Clinton’s statement affirming her support of Mr. Spitzer in his office came less than a day after she offered a muddled and hesitant position on the bill, prompting a round of denunciations by her opponents. It signaled the extent to which her advisers viewed that moment as the biggest misstep she made in the debate, and one with long-term potential to undermine her candidacy.

“Senator Clinton supports governors like Governor Spitzer who believe they need such a measure to deal with the crisis caused by this administration’s failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform,’” her campaign said.

Mrs. Clinton’s voice of support for Mr. Spitzer’s plan suggested her advisers believed it was politically wiser to embrace a position that could clearly hurt her in a general election rather than risk providing more fuel to what has emerged as a damaging line of criticism: That she, taking advantage of her dominant position in some polls, is not being candid about her views and about would she would do as president.

That argument was voiced by Senator Barack Obama, an Illinois Democrat, in an interview leading up to the debate and set the framework for two hours of attacks on Mrs. Clinton. And it continued this morning as Democratic and Republican presidential candidates attacked her for her answer on Social Security.

“She is a habitual evader,” said Mr. Obama’s senior strategist, David Axelrod.
And Rudolph W. Giuliani, the Republican presidential candidate who has spent more time attacking Mrs. Clinton than any of his opponents, pounced as he offered a preview of what a Clinton-Giuliani race might be like, should both win their party’s nomination, in a radio interview with Glenn Beck.

“You know, she was being attacked all night for taking different positions in front of different audiences and then by the end of the night, she took different positions in front of the same audience,” he said. “It was pretty amazing. I mean, in politics I’ve never quite seen that before.”
Gerald W. McEntee, presented Mrs. Clinton with a pair of red boxing gloves today. (Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign fought back on a variety of fronts. It announced that she had won the endorsement of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union in a Washington news conference in which its president, Gerald W. McEntee, presented Mrs. Clinton with a pair of red boxing gloves and tried to put the best light on her performance the night before.

“Six guys against Hillary,” he said. “I’d call that a fair fight. This is one strong woman.”
Mrs. Clinton hoisted the gloves, declaring: “When it comes to fighting for America’s famlies I’ll go 10 rounds with anyone.”

Her campaign sought to stir sympathy of Mrs. Clinton -– in a way that was reminiscent of what happened after she was confronted by Rick Lazio, the Long Island Republican, in their Senate race in 2000 — by suggesting that she was the victim of ganging-up by a stage of presidential opponents and one of the moderators, Tim Russert.

“The Politics of Pile-On,” Mrs. Clintons’ Web site announced this morning. “What happens when the ‘politics of pile-on’ replaces the ‘politics of hope.’” The campaign later released a video that featured Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic rivals saying her name repeatedly. A headline on the Drudge Report, which said it was reflecting thinking in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, read, “Scorn: As the Men Gang Up.”

Taken together, the events of the day suggested the difficulties Mrs. Clinton faces as she in effect tries to bridge two very different electorates: Democratic primary voters and general election voters. Going into the debate last night, she had been largely successful offering views on Iran, Iraq, and Social Security tailored to a general election audience
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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gun Free Zones

Another gem from CornetJim - A generation ago, Charles Bronson and Dirty Harry "blew away" the silly arguments of liberals that you could ban legal guns, and not worry about the illegal ones...but now they are back... c'mon Clint! saddle up!!!...T

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Stossel- Al Gore Global Warming Myth

Yes - even the Drive by media has some thoughtful members. Here's John Stossel on this week's "20/20"...people who believe in man made, CO2 driven warming are either ignorant of the facts, or part of the deception - it really is that conclusive. Fact: even the most die hard warming scientist will tell you that the damage has already been done - that even if all CO2 emission is immediately halted (devastating beyond repair the world economy), it's too late to stop the coming warming. Ponder that while you wonder, then, "why do they want what they claim they want"...T

Victory Is Within Reach in Iraq

Again - The most successful campaign, with the fewest casualties, in the history of warfare (Drive-by-media flagellation's aside). We are winning a spectacular victory, one that still remains hidden to the public eye...T

Should we declare victory over al Qaeda in the battle of Iraq?

The very question would have seemed proof of dementia only a few months ago, yet now some highly respected military officers, including the commander of Special Forces in Iraq, Gen. Stanley McCrystal, reportedly feel it is justified by the facts on the ground.

These people are not suggesting that the battle is over. They all insist that there is a lot of fighting ahead, and even those who believe that al Qaeda is crashing and burning in a death spiral on the Iraqi battlefields say that the surviving terrorists will still be able to kill coalition forces and Iraqis. But there is relative tranquility across vast areas of Iraq, even in places that had been all but given up for lost barely more than a year ago. It may well be that those who confidently declared the war definitively lost will have to reconsider.

Almost exactly 13 months ago, the top Marine intelligence officer in Iraq wrote that the grim situation in Anbar province would continue to deteriorate unless an additional division was sent in, along with substantial economic aid. Today, Marine leaders are musing openly about clearing out of Anbar, not because it is a lost cause, but because we have defeated al Qaeda there.

In Fallujah, enlisted marines have complained to an officer of my acquaintance: "There's nobody to shoot here, sir. If it's just going to be building schools and hospitals, that's what the Army is for, isn't it?" Throughout the area, Sunni sheikhs have joined the Marines to drive out al Qaeda, and this template has spread to Diyala Province, and even to many neighborhoods in Baghdad itself, where Shiites are fighting their erstwhile heroes in the Mahdi Army.

British troops are on their way out of Basra, and it was widely expected that Iranian-backed Shiite militias would impose a brutal domination of the city, That hasn't happened. Lt. Col. Patrick Sanders, stationed near Basra, confirmed that violence in Basra has dropped precipitously in recent weeks. He gives most of the credit to the work of Iraqi soldiers and police.

As evidence of success mounts, skeptics often say that while military operations have gone well, there is still no sign of political movement to bind up the bloody wounds in the Iraqi body politic. Recent events suggest otherwise. Just a few days ago, Ammar al-Hakim, the son of and presumed successor to the country's most important Shiite political leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, went to Anbar's capital, Ramadi, to meet with Sunni sheikhs. The act, and his words, were amazing. "Iraq does not belong to the Sunnis or the Shiites alone; nor does it belong to the Arabs or the Kurds and Turkomen," he said. "Today, we must stand up and declare that Iraq is for all Iraqis."

Mr. Hakim's call for national unity mirrors last month's pilgrimage to Najaf, the epicenter of Iraqi Shiism, by Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni. There he visited Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shiite cleric. The visit symbolically endorsed Mr. Sistani's role as the most authoritative religious figure in Iraq. Mr. Hashemi has also been working closely with Mr. Hakim's people, as well as with the Kurds. Elsewhere, similar efforts at ecumenical healing proceed rapidly. As Robert McFarlane reported in these pages, Baghdad's Anglican Canon, Andrew White, has organized meetings of leading Iraqi Christian, Sunni and Shiite clerics, all of whom called for nation-wide reconciliation.

The Iraqi people seem to be turning against the terrorists, even against those who have been in cahoots with the terror masters in Tehran. As Col. Sanders puts it, "while we were down in Basra, an awful lot of the violence against us was enabled, sponsored and equipped by. . . Iran. [But] what has united a lot of the militias was a sense of Iraqi nationalism, and they resent interference by Iran."

How is one to explain this turn of events? While our canny military leaders have been careful to give the lion's share of the credit to terrorist excesses and locals' courage, the most logical explanation comes from the late David Galula, the French colonel who fought in Algeria and then wrote "Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice" in the 1960s. He argued that insurgencies are revolutionary wars whose outcome is determined by control of, and support from, the population. The best way to think about such wars is to imagine the board game of Go. Each side starts with limited assets, each has the support of a minority of the territory and the population. Each has some assets within the enemy's sphere of influence. The game ends when one side takes control of the majority of the population, and thus the territory.

Whoever gains popular support wins the war. Galula realized that while revolutionary ideology is central to the creation of an insurgency, it has very little to do with the outcome. That is determined by politics, and, just as in an election, the people choose the winner.

In the early phases of the conflict, the people remain as neutral as they can, simply trying to stay alive. As the war escalates, they are eventually forced to make a choice, to place a bet, and that bet becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The people have the winning piece on the board: intelligence. Once the Iraqis decided that we were going to win, they provided us with information about the terrorists: who they were, where they were, what they were planning, where their weapons were stashed, and so forth.

It's easy to say, but quite beside the point, that any smart Iraqi would prefer us to the terrorists. We're short-termers, while the terrorists promise to stay forever and make Iraq part of an oppressive caliphate. We're going to leave in a few years, and put the country in Iraqi hands, while the terrorists -- many of whom are the cat's-paws of foreign powers -- intend to turn the place into an alien domain. We promise freedom, while the jihadis impose clerical fascism and slaughter their fellow Arab Muslims.

But that preference isn't enough to explain the dramatic turnaround -- the nature of the terrorists was luminously clear a year ago, when the battle for Iraq was going badly. As Galula elegantly observed, "which side gives the best protection, which one threatens the most, which one is likely to win, these are the criteria governing the population's stand. So much the better, of course, if popularity and effectiveness are combined."

The turnaround took place because we started to defeat the terrorists, at a time that roughly coincides with the surge. There is a tendency to treat the surge as a mere increase in numbers, but its most important component was the change in doctrine. Instead of keeping too many of our soldiers off the battlefield in remote and heavily fortified mega-bases, we put them into the field. Instead of reacting to the terrorists' initiatives, we went after them. No longer were we going to maintain the polite fiction that we were in Iraq to train the locals so that they could fight the war. Instead, we aggressively engaged our enemies. It was at that point that the Iraqi people placed their decisive bet.

Herschel Smith, of the blog Captain's Journal, puts it neatly in describing the events in Anbar: "There is no point in fighting forces (U.S. Marines) who will not be beaten and who will not go away." We were the stronger horse, and the Iraqis recognized it.

No doubt Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno know all this. It is, after all, their strategy that has produced the good news. Their reluctance to take credit for the defeat of al Qaeda and other terrorists in Iraq is due to the uncertain outcome of the big battle now being waged here at home. They, and our soldiers, fear that the political class in Washington may yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They know that Iran and Syria still have a free shot at us across long borders, and Gen. Petraeus told Congress last month that it would not be possible to win in Iraq if our mission were restricted to that country.

Not a day goes by without one of our commanders shouting to the four winds that the Iranians are operating all over Iraq, and that virtually all the suicide terrorists are foreigners, sent in from Syria. We have done great damage to their forces on the battlefield, but they can always escalate, and we still have no policy to direct against the terror masters in Damascus and Tehran. That problem is not going to be resolved by sound counterinsurgency strategy alone, no matter how brilliantly executed
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