Sunday, January 28, 2007

Rudy Giuliani, Daniel Pipes, etc...

I Support Rudy for President in '08. I know, some will say "but his social positions!"... He is a truly GREAT leader, and has been for decades, not just since 9/11. A true Reagan Republican (who also, by the way, stayed away from social issues while president, since there is almost nothing at all a president CAN do!), and the 1st I've called such...T

After he was defeated for mayor of New York in 1989, Rudy Giuliani spent a lot of time at Manhattan Institute seminars. They helped to shape his thinking on issues like crime, welfare, and taxes. Now Steven Malanga of the Manhattan Institute reminds us how successful a mayor he was and how he achieved that success. Under Giuliani, crime was reduced by 64 percent and welfare dependency by a similar proportion. He took on established liberal interests, most notably the editorial writers of the New York Times, and prevailed. It is an executive record second to none. A more detailed and, I think, definitive account of Giuliani's achievements is Fred Siegel's The Prince of the City, to the latest paperback edition of which he has appended an afterword. America knows how Giuliani performed on September 11. But Republican voters who must choose who the party's nominee will be should at the very least read Malanga's article and will profit from reading Siegel's book.

Daniel in the Lion's Den

I can't say how much I admire Daniel Pipes, who was warning us about the dangers posed by radical Islamic fascists long before September 11. For that, of course, he has been assailed by all the usual suspects. Daniel was invited to a debate by London's leftist Mayor Ken Livingstone; it took place last Saturday. Here are two accounts, well worth reading, by Stephen Schwartz in the Weekly Standard's online edition and by Daniel Johnson in the invaluable New York Sun. Side note: When Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean came to U.S. News for an interview in November, he noted that his mother, who lives on Park Avenue, reads the New York Sun and gives him copies of it when he comes to visit. He said she especially liked the culture pages. Perhaps Seth Lipsky can ask her for an endorsement.

Executive Pay

As I've noted, one issue on which I still have populist instincts is executive pay. Are these CEOs really worth the hundreds of millions of dollars they're paid. In this article in TCS Daily, Nathan Smith examines Sen. Jim Webb's denunciation of the rise in CEO pay relative to workers and argues pretty persuasively that CEO pay is high and has gotten higher because the market is working, and working better than it used to. An effective CEO can increase a company's market cap hugely (see Jack Welch) and so is worth the money. Question for Jim Webb: Assuming it's true that the ratio of National Basketball Association player pay to NBA fan pay has increased vastly over the last 40 years (I would think it has but haven't bothered to look up the numbers), does this mean that NBA fans are worse off?
Smith's article makes another, larger point: George W. Bush in his State of the Union offered policies to make the poor better off; Webb merely complained that some people are getting too rich and that we needed to do something for the middle class. He said nothing about the poor.
Click here for full article

Friday, January 19, 2007

Will it Work?

I hope Barone is right, and I think he is. I have always thought that we had the pieces in place, strategically, to remake the situation on the ground in the region. Now we'll find out...T

Thoughts on the President's (new strategy):

Near the beginning Bush noted that sectarian violence increased markedly after the bombing of the Samarra mosque early in 2006. In retrospect, that probably should have prompted the rethinking that has gone on since the November election. Evidently Gens. John Abizaid and George Casey and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld didn't think so at the time. Military history is full of examples of mistakes; this appears to be one of them.

I was struck by the way Bush portrayed the new strategy—actually, new tactics—as having been initiated by the Iraqi leadership. And I was especially struck by this passage:

"I've made it clear to the prime minister and Iraq's other leaders that America's commitment is not open-ended. If the Iraqi government does not follow through on its promises, it will lose the support of the American people–and it will lose the support of the Iraqi people. Now is the time to act. The prime minister understands this. Here is what he told his people just last week: "The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation."

This sounds like a threat that we will withdraw unless the Maliki government gives us carte blanche to go after Shiite militias, including the Sadr militia. That threat was reinforced by Sen. Dick Durbin's response, in which he said that our commitment was not only "not open-minded" but that as far as the Democrats were concerned it should be ended pretty soon. That will probably be reinforced by the votes on the nonbinding resolutions on Bush's policy that the Democratic leaders have said they will hold. Opponents will presumably prevail.

That won't doom Bush's policy; remember when Speaker Dennis Hastert failed to get a majority vote supporting Bill Clinton's policy in the Balkans? But it should alert the Iraqis to the real possibility that some time in the 2007–08 cycle this Democratic Congress might move to shut off or limit funds for our forces in Iraq.

What we're seeing is a version of the good cop, bad cop routine. Bush is the good cop to Maliki, promising him support but reminding him it's contingent on his own behavior. Durbin, representing the congressional leadership, is the bad cop, telling him he'd like to cut off support very soon and suggesting he may well do it later.

Bush noted that he is sending another carrier force to the Persian Gulf and addressed the nearby Sunni powers thusly:

"Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the gulf states need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and a strategic threat to their survival. These nations have a stake in a successful Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors, and they must step up their support for Iraq's unity government."

This should be read in light of this interesting column by Edward Luttwak in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. Luttwak's conclusion: "The Iraq War has indeed brought into existence a New Middle East, in which Arab Sunnis can no longer gleefully disregard American interests because they need help against the looming threat of Shiite supremacy, while in Iraq at the core of the Arab world, the Shia are allied with the U.S. What past imperial statesmen sought to achieve with much cunning and cynicism, the Bush administration has brought about accidentally. But the result is exactly the same." A pretty hopeful perspective from a usually gloomy observer.

To Iran and Syria, the president sent the following message:

"Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity and stabilizing the region in the face of extremist challenges. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq. "

This leads Michael Ledeen to ask, "Did we just declare war on Iran and Syria?"

I was very pleased to see the following:

"To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis."

As faithful readers know, I've been calling for creation of something like the Alaska Permanent Fund in Iraq for a long time now. Is it possible that this will actually happen?

More thoughts later. In the meantime, for more commentary you can follow the links on these Instapundit posts from yesterday and today.
Click here for full article

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Munich Redux?

In the days following Neville Chamberlain's return from Munich, there had been great public rejoicing, enthusiastic crowds, and celebration. Winston Churchill, just an ordinary MP at this point in his career, rose slowly from his seat to address Parliament:
"I do not grudge our loyal, brave people, who were ready to do their duty, no matter what the cost, who never flinched under the strain of last week – I do not grudge them the natural, spontaneous outburst of joy and relief when they learned that the hard ordeal would no longer be required of them at the moment; but they should know the truth.

They should know that there has been gross neglect and deficiency in our defenses. They should know that we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road...we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies:
"Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting".
And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time."
One of Chamberlain's ministers, Malcolm McDonald, later recalled how his own palms were sweating, such were the force of these words...
Does history repeat itself, now, as the the Islamo-fascists mock our resolve?...T

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Boneless Wonders

I get tired of posting these, as what is written seems so obvious is to this 46 year old mind ( not that old yet!), that I wonder if the entire western world has not come down with an acute case of collective amnesia...T

"I remember when I was a child, being taken to the celebrated Barnum's Circus, which contained an exhibition of freaks and monstrosities, but the exhibit on the program which I most desired to see was the one described as 'The Boneless Wonder.' My parents judged that the spectacle would be too demoralizing and revolting for my youthful eye, and I have waited 50 years to see The Boneless Wonder--sitting on the Treasury Bench."

--Winston Churchill, January 28, 1931, in the House of Commons, referring to Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald

Today, Boneless Wonders sit on the benches of both parties in Congress. More are to be found on the Democratic side of the aisle than the Republican. But the herd of Boneless Wonders these days is a bipartisan one. Let's see if we can describe their thinking.

Say you're an average congressman. How do you react to President Bush's Iraq speech? You suspect, deep down, that he's probably doing more or less what he needs to do. We can't just click our heels and get out of Iraq--the consequences would be disastrous. And the current strategy isn't working. You have said so yourself. Last fall you called for replacing Rumsfeld. You've complained that there weren't enough troops. What's more, you've heard good things about General David Petraeus from colleagues with military expertise. So now Bush has fired Rumsfeld, put Petraeus in command, and sent in more troops. Maybe this new approach deserves a chance to work?

But, hey . . . look at those polls! And those op-ed pages! You didn't come to Washington to support an unpopular president conducting an unpopular war. And the Bush administration is doing a crummy job of explaining this change in strategy. The path ahead in any case is going to be tough, and the new strategy might fail. Besides which, being for "escalation" sure doesn't sound good. Wasn't that a problem in Vietnam?

So you work on your talking points: You understand the president has a tough set of choices. You've got doubts about the path he's chosen. You've got lots of questions. But perhaps we should give it a chance . . .
But wait--that doesn't sound like leadership. That doesn't look decisive. And, if you're a Democrat--you didn't put in all that effort getting elected just so you could get a lot of grief from your own activists. If you're a Republican from a Democratic-leaning state--you didn't put in all those hours getting elected just so you could alienate the swing voters you need. So why not take the next step? Condemn the president's approach! There. That's a position.

But you're not just a talking head. You're a legislator. You need to vote. But on what? How about voting to disapprove of the president's "escalation"? Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have come up with a nonbinding resolution opposing a troop increase. That's the ticket.

After all, you're not cutting off funds. You're not embracing any alternative policy. (God knows what it would be.) As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Thursday, "I'm not the president. It is the president's obligation to set the policy."

What's your obligation? Certainly not to take responsibility for proposing a real alternative to the president's policy. No way.

Thus, the Boneless Wonders. There are honorable exceptions, and not just among those who support the war. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) reminded his colleagues last week that "Congress is a co-equal branch of government." He continued: "We have an urgent responsibility here. Congress under Article I, Section 8, has the war-making power. Congress appropriates funds for the war. Congress does not dispense with its obligation to the American people simply by opposing a troop surge in Iraq. It is simply not credible to maintain that one opposes the war, yet continues to fund it. If you oppose the war, then don't vote to fund it." Logical. But naive and quixotic, in the eyes of the Boneless Wonders.

So the Boneless Wonders will push a nonbinding resolution to, as Joe Biden put it, "demonstrate to the president he's on his own." Sure, the resolution will weaken the president's hand abroad--but that's not their problem. It will lessen the chances of success in Iraq--but that's above their pay grade. It will dispirit friends and embolden enemies--but maybe there won't be much attention paid overseas to some non-binding congressional resolution. It will send the message to the soldiers fighting in Iraq that help is not on the way--that there are no reinforcements. That's unfortunate. But, hey--they volunteered.

And how about Sen. Obama on the Today show? "We're not going to babysit a civil war." To serious people that sounds juvenile. To most of his colleagues, it's a good soundbite.

It's a demoralizing and revolting spectacle.
Click here for full article

Dennis Miller on WMD and War on Terror

Oh Dennis...This guy was always too quick to be liberal, but you know, hollywood has it's ways, and he was young. Welcome home sir, and you are a marvel!...T

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

From the Classroom to the War

Amen. This is one man I'd really like to meet, since Reagan's and Churchill's departure...T

Cry the Once Beloved University
What are we to make of this increasingly corrupt institution, whose health is so necessary to the welfare and competitiveness of the United States? It brags that American higher education is the strongest on the globe, but that is largely true only because of the non-political and still untainted hard sciences, engineering, and informational and computer sciences—and despite the humanities, particularly literature, philosophy, and history that have become increasingly ideological and theoretical.

I was thinking of all this the other day, remembering the Larry Summers fiasco, eighty-eight of the Duke faculty weighing in through a public letter against their own students unjustly accused, the Ward Churchill mess, and the assorted outbursts of professors since 9/11.

We should at least insist on a little accountability from this increasingly medieval institution. After teaching some twenty years in the university and writing about its endemic problems, I keep asking myself the same questions.

Why? Why? Why?

Why does tuition continue to rise beyond the rate of inflation?

Why does the faculty castigate the free enterprise system that its own development officers court to ensure competitive faculty compensation? After all, their much praised socialism ensures under-funded universities, as we see in Europe where the once great institutions of higher learning have slipped badly and lack the resources of a Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Texas, or Berkeley.

Why do such vocal egalitarians stay mum, when part-time faculty and graduate students often teach classes for a fraction of professors’ pay, in a hierarchical system of exploitation that even the much maligned Wal-Mart would never get away with?

Why do professors insist after six years on life-long tenure—when everyone from garbage collectors to lawyers and doctors do not enjoy such insulation from both the market and accountability about job performance? If it is for the promise of “academic freedom” and “intellectual diversity” then the resulting institutionalized uniformity and mediocrity were not worth the cost. Compare the lopsided Academic Senate votes about issues extraneous to the operation of the university from gay marriage to the war in Iraq. There are usually reminiscent of plebiscites in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Castro’s Cuba with majorities of 90-100%.

Why when academia is so critical of other American institutions, from the Republican party and corporations to churches and the military, does it ignore its own colossal failures? The level of knowledge of the today’s graduate is the stuff of jokes, exactly what one would expect once a common shared instruction in science, history, literature, languages, and mathematics largely disappeared, replaced by a General Education potpourri of specialized classes in gender, race, class, and politics masquerading as knowledge-based?

All these thoughts I think explain the tragic-comic position of today’s university presidents who Janus-like must talk like normal humans when courting alumni donors only to assume alien characteristics when dealing with their often lunatic faculty. I noticed once that UC Berkeley administrators always talked about a beloved “Cal” to their alumni constituents, but always “Berkeley” to their grim-faced faculty, as if there were two different campuses. And, of course, there were—the real tragic one of the present, and the idealized lost one of the past.

Criminals more than combatants

In World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, most Americans died either from small arms in firefights, grenades, or artillery, but in Iraq almost every combat-related death is due to two causes: either suicide bombers/IEDs or sniper/RPG fire. Both have one thing in common: the enemy is not often immediately to be seen, much less uniformed. So what do we call such a war in which the jihadist will never confront American troops in the manner of Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, or Vietnamese, but resembles more a sniper or bomber from the bad part of town? For all the tragedy of losing 3000, their tactics explain why we have lost 60-70 a month in over three years in Iraq and not 8,000 every thirty days as was true in 1941-5.

Don’t Cry For Saddam?

What a weird sick world. The more globalized we become, the more we make the fallacy that the resulting world village is Carmel rather than Tombstone. The latest absurdity is the daughter of the mass-murdering Saddam Hussein complaining to the British Daily Mail that she couldn’t call daddy one last time. Not much worry about how she got her millions or where she was when Pop was gassing the Kurds.

Indeed, the entire Western hysteria over the uncouth hanging of Saddam revealed more about pious intellectuals than it did abstract notions of justice. All executions are messy. Prisoners and guards banter all the time. That an Iraqi hanging was far cruder than our own lethal injections is to be regretted—but expected. In the end, one’s qualms about how exactly Saddam went into Hell depends to some degree on which end of his wood-chipper you were likely to end up on.

The Premodern versus Postmodern

We are careful to avoid talking about a “clash of civilizations,” perhaps in fear of alienating moderate Muslims. Our enemies welcome the identification in confidence they will thereby win over bystanders. So bin Laden bragged:

"In a war of civilizations, our goal is for our nation to unite in the face of the Christian crusade…This is a recurring war. The original crusade brought Richard (Lion heart) from Britain, Louis from France and Barbarossa from Germany. Today the crusading countries rushed as soon as Bush raised the cross. They accepted the rule of the cross."

Recently Dr. Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s most frequent megaphone, warned that he would fight to free those poor terrorists in Guantanamo. We in turn worry that his brethren there get their Korans, Islamic-correct diets, and thus we can preempt Sen. Durban from more libeling of our troops there as Nazis and worse.

Go to the Internet and there are dozens of jihadist terrorist videos that broadcast IED explosions showing American torn apart to triumphalist jihadist music. Yet we recoiled when Marine Gen. Mattis remarked “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil,” Mattis said. “You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.” Whatever one thinks of the General’s candor, his realism and audacity and spirit are precisely what is needed now, and we owe him a great deal of thanks for past, present, and future service in the most horrific of landscapes.

Iran’s Ahmadinejad is cheering crowds by promising a world without the United States, of wiping Israel off the map, or becoming a nuclear player in the Middle East. We respond by fighting among each other about our impolite snubbing of Iran, as if our mannered discourse with Mr. Ahmadinejad could have led him to see the errors of his fanatical ways.

And now we in the West worry whether Sunni dominated governments in the Middle East will blame us for allowing the elected government in Iraq unceremoniously to execute the savage thug Saddam Hussein. But these same moralists did not mind when these same governments said little when Saddam once butchered thousands—or even applauded his bounties to suicide murderers.

Lowering the Bar

So the great disconnect in this present war continues, one that tests whether a sophisticated affluent West that eschews violence and nobly professes its wish to evolve beyond war, capital punishment, and unilateral preemption can defeat an ideology that is openly reactionary and seeks to return to the primordial world of the 8th century when beheading, limb-lopping, sharia law, and half the population in burqas were normal.

This is now a boring topic since 9/11—our postmodern refinement and their premodern savagery. One final thought though. I used to hear people say “It will take another 9/11” to come to our senses about our real peril. Now in several gloomy conversations I hear instead, “It will take three or four 9/11s to …”

The Old Slur of Impotence

During our own Civil War the Confederate propagandists proclaimed that Yankee industrials and city dwellers were no match for Southern martial courage. They erred since there were more yeomen farmers in the North than in the old South—as William Tecumseh Sherman’ s Army of the West demonstrated as it split apart Georgia and the Carolinas.

Hitler and the Nazis, along with the Japanese imperialists, laughed that American ‘cowboys” and “gangsters” were not up to fighting fascism’s ideological warriors. But they erred too—not realizing that a generation who came out of the Great Depression knew something about sacrifice and hardship.
The Soviet Union and Mao’s China made a similar complaint about the running-dog capitalists who would rather profit than sacrifice for their ideas. But the World War II generation that had endured Normandy Beach, the Bulge, and Okinawa proved them wrong in Berlin, Korea, and Cuba. So when the Cold War ended Russia and China both ended up trying to emulate our success rather than we aping their failures.

Now that the jihadists have taken up the tired age-old cry that America can’t fight, they become more barbaric as we seek to remain refined. Will bin Laden, like those in the past, find himself severely mistaken?

The verdict is out—not on our military that, as pointed out, crushes like a bug any jihadist who climbs out of his hole—but on our citizenry in general. So far, when we used overwhelming force in deposing the Taliban and Saddam, or retaking Fallujah or routing the Mahdists we were successful. In contrast, every time we have temporized—first Fallujah or pardoning Sadr—we have emboldened our enemies by perceptions of weakness, not won over their hearts and minds through magnanimity.

The American way of war has never been to be vicious or savage. Rather past success was always found opposing slavery, fascism, communism, or extremism by explaining to our enemies the choices before them, and then using overwhelming force to preserve our culture and values. Let’s hope that the surge follows that pattern, as President Bush warns that the gloves are coming off, and new rules of engagement are now geared solely toward victory.
Click here for full article

One last post mortem

I agree with Power Line here. 2008 will be an historically important election (not so much as 1980 though), and demographic & issue trends favor a republican restoration. All depends on Iraq, and the presidential campaign...T

Tonight I attended an informal dinner hosted by the Hoover Institution. The topic was the 2006 election. The dinner featured Stanford University political science professor David Brady and MIT political science professor Stephen Ansolabehere. Both are involved in (and the latter is heading) a massive empirical study of the 2006 election based on a survey of about 35,000 voters.

It's early days when it comes to analyzing the data, but here a few of the professsors' observations: (1) dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq (including dissatisfaction among Republicans) played a huge role in the election, probably accounting for at least half of the six point decline in the Republican share of the vote from 2002, (2) the economy does not appear to have played a role in the 2006 results, (3) party affiliation did not seem change much from 2004 to 2006, (4) the evangelical vote seems to remained stable, (5) the Republican landslide in 1994 was laregly due to a "sorting out" wherein representatives who were too liberal for their district finally paid the price; 2006 less a "sorting" election than just a bad year to be a Republican, (7) apart from "low hanging fruit" issues like the minimum wage (and putting the war to one side), Republican positions on the big issues remain more popular than Democratic positions, (8) in light of (6) and (7), the Republicans have a decent shot at recapturing the House in 2008 unless the war again causes them to have a bad year, but (9) given the number of Senate seats the Republicans have to hold in 2008, their chances of gaining a majority in that body are not very good.
Click here for full article

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A war of endurance

This man gets it, and then he can state the case, clearly and without any counter argument to be easily made. None that I have heard. This is it: Win, or lose...T

As we begin a new year, with a new Congress having been sworn in Thursday, it is a good time to take stock of the "global war on terror." The enormous U.S. conventional military power probably ensures that we will not lose in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. Yet the considerable advantages of the jihadists suggest we might not necessarily win, either.

So before we surge troops into Baghdad, as many Republicans wish, or yank everyone out of Iraq, as many Democrats are calling for, it is wise to review why America has had trouble turning wins over the Taliban and Saddam Hussein into long-term strategic successes.

Creating new political systems on the ground is far more difficult than simply blasting away terrorist concentrations. Such engagement demands American soldiers leave the relative safety of ships, tanks and planes to fight subsequent messy battles in streets and neighborhoods. Once that happens, the United States loses its intrinsic military advantages.

(1) The Islamists have just enough Western arms -- automatic small weapons and explosive devices -- to achieve parity with individual Americans on the ground. Our billions spent on aircraft carriers, drones and stealthy jets were not intended to fight hundreds of terrorists hiding in houses.

(2) When losses mount, they are viewed differently by the two sides. Violent death and endemic poverty are commonplace in the Middle East, but not so in the West. We aim to avoid casualties in our warmaking; the Islamists want only to inflict them, whatever the cost to themselves.

(3) Everything our soldiers do is subject to Western jurisprudence and ethical censure. Americans distinguish soldiers from civilians to avoid collateral damage. Jihadists deliberately hide among women and children to ensure our restraint provides them sanctuary. Our utopian moral expectations can never be met; their very lack of such considerations means we are accustomed to rather than are outraged by their beheadings, kidnappings and suicide bombings.

(4) In the process of reconstruction, Americans are held responsible for keeping the electricity and water on to ensure life improves for Afghans and Iraqis. Jihadists win only by destroying such efforts. And it is always easier to tear down than to build.

So we are at an impasse. Now after five years of fighting, Americans have two stark choices in the war against terrorists.

One, we can withdraw ground troops and return to punitive and conventional bombing -- tit-for-tat retaliation for each attack in the future. That way, the United States stays distant and smacks the jihadists on their home bases below. Few Americans die; terrorists sometimes do. The bored media stay more concentrated on the terrorists' provocations, not on our standoff response from 30,000 feet in the clouds.

Or American forces, at great danger, can continue changing the Middle Eastern political and economic structure in hopes of fostering constitutional governments that might curb terrorism for generations. This current engagement demands our soldiers fight jihadists on their vicious turf, but by our humanitarian rules. For this, we must pay the ensuing human and materiel price -- all broadcast live on the evening news.

The first choice, a return to what was practiced throughout the 1980s and 1990s, is easy and offers short-term relief with little controversy. But the second path, which we have taken to prevent another September 11, 2001, is hard, lengthy and thus unpopular. Yet it holds out the promise of long-term solutions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Presidents Reagan, George Bush the elder and Bill Clinton, who respectively skedaddled out of Beirut, skipped Baghdad and fled from Mogadishu, didn't risk, lose or solve much against the terrorists.

In contrast, George W. Bush wagered everything by going into Afghanistan and Iraq. And he will either make things much worse or much better for millions -- depending on how successfully the United States can endure the messy type of war that jihadists welcome and the American military usually seeks to avoid.

Military success on the ground now demands that we expand the rules of engagement to allow our troops to shoot more of the jihadists, disarm the militias, train even more Iraqis troops to take over security more quickly, and seal the Syrian and Iranian borders.

This solution, of course, is easier said than done. The military must use more force against those destroying Iraqi democracy at precisely the time the American public has become exasperated with both the length and human cost of the war.

Imagine this war as a sort of grotesque race. The jihadists and sectarians win if they can kill enough Americans to demoralize us enough that we flee before Iraqis and Afghans stabilize their newfound freedom. They lose if they can't. Prosperity, security and liberty are the death knell to radical Islam. It's that elemental.
Click here for full article

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

How the West Could Lose

This encapsulates my views nicely. Don't overlook the fact the Pipes was architect of Reagan's policy of Overthrowing the Soviet Union (a fact which almost no one knows: he is the most important anonymous man of the 20th century!)...T

After defeating fascists and communists, can the West now defeat the Islamists?

On the face of it, its military preponderance makes victory seem inevitable. Even if Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon, Islamists have nothing like the military machine the Axis deployed in World War II, nor the Soviet Union during the cold war. What do the Islamists have to compare with the Wehrmacht or the Red Army? The SS or Spetznaz? The Gestapo or the KGB? Or, for that matter, to Auschwitz or the gulag?

Yet, more than a few analysts, including myself, worry that it's not so simple. Islamists (defined as persons who demand to live by the sacred law of Islam, the Sharia) might in fact do better than the earlier totalitarians. They could even win. That's because, however strong the Western hardware, its software contains some potentially fatal bugs. Three of them – pacifism, self-hatred, complacency – deserve attention.

Pacifism: Among the educated, the conviction has widely taken hold that "there is no military solution" to current problems, a mantra applied in every Middle East problem – Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, the Kurds, terrorism, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. But this pragmatic pacifism overlooks the fact that modern history abounds with military solutions. What were the defeats of the Axis, the United States in Vietnam, or the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, if not military solutions?

Self-hatred: Significant elements in several Western countries – especially the United States, Great Britain, and Israel – believe their own governments to be repositories of evil, and see terrorism as just punishment for past sins. This "we have met the enemy and he is us" attitude replaces an effective response with appeasement, including a readiness to give up traditions and achievements. Osama bin Laden celebrates by name such leftists as Robert Fisk and William Blum. Self-hating Westerners have an out-sized importance due to their prominent role as shapers of opinion in universities, the media, religious institutions, and the arts. They serve as the Islamists' auxiliary mujahideen.

Complacency: The absence of an impressive Islamist military machine imbues many Westerners, especially on the left, with a feeling of disdain. Whereas conventional war – with its men in uniform, its ships, tanks, and planes, and its bloody battles for land and resources – is simple to comprehend, the asymmetric war with radical Islam is elusive. Box cutters and suicide belts make it difficult to perceive this enemy as a worthy opponent. With John Kerry, too many dismiss terrorism as a mere "nuisance."

Islamists deploy formidable capabilities, however, that go far beyond small-scale terrorism:

A potential access to weapons of mass destruction that could devastate Western life.

A religious appeal that provides deeper resonance and greater staying power than the artificial ideologies of fascism or communism.

An impressively conceptualized, funded, and organized institutional machinery that successfully builds credibility, goodwill, and electoral success.

An ideology capable of appealing to Muslims of every size and shape, from Lumpenproletariat to privileged, from illiterates to Ph.D.s, from the well-adjusted to psychopaths, from Yemenis to Canadians. The movement almost defies sociological definition.

A non-violent approach – what I call "lawful Islamism" – that pursues Islamification through educational, political, and religious means, without recourse to illegality or terrorism. Lawful Islamism is proving successful in Muslim-majority countries like Algeria and Muslim-minority ones like the United Kingdom.

A huge number of committed cadres. If Islamists constitute 10% to 15% of the Muslim population worldwide, they number some 125 to 200 million persons, or a far greater total than all the fascists and communists, combined, who ever lived.

Pacifism, self-hatred and complacency are lengthening the war against radical Islam and causing undue casualties. Only after absorbing catastrophic human and property losses will left-leaning Westerners likely overcome this triple affliction and confront the true scope of the threat. The civilized world will likely then prevail, but belatedly and at a higher cost than need have been.

Should Islamists get smart and avoid mass destruction, but instead stick to the lawful, political, non-violent route, and should their movement remain vital, it is difficult to see what will stop them.
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The down-side of optimism

As the author states: "the challenges before us are surely not as daunting as assaulting Hitler's Fortress Europa and reclaiming the Pacific from Japan. " Why is it that no one seems to see this? We have lost just 3,000. Let's try and reclaim our sanity from the brink of Bush-Derangement-Syndrome, MSM Drive By's! -- I grew up in the 70's when serious people were debating abolishing the Presidency of the United States!...T (Thanks CJ!)

We Americans, despite our current grumblings, are fundamentally an optimistic people. Our optimism has helped us achieve great things. But it can also be a problem. There is an assumption in public life that every problem has an optimum solution, all gain and no pain. Much of our political debate takes the form of yelling that everything would be just fine if the other side weren't so stupid that it failed to see the perfectly obvious policy.

The debate over Iraq has often been based on this assumption. The Bush administration has been blasted for dissolving the Iraqi army (actually, allowing it to disperse), which left it harder to maintain order. But maintaining Baathist officers in place would have produced much oppression and left weapons in the hands of many determined enemies. There was no optimum solution here — there were serious downsides to either policy.

A superficial view of our history buttresses the assumption that there's always an optimum policy. In times of crisis, we seem always to have found great leaders — Washington, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt. In war, we have always surged through to victory.

Our economy has grown so bounteously that we have come to take its miraculous performance for granted. But this line of thought leaves out some inconvenient facts. We've had some pretty awful leaders — the politicians of the 1850s who led us toward civil war, Woodrow Wilson after his incapacitation, who prevented ratification of the Versailles Treaty.

We haven't won all our wars: the War of 1812 and Korea were ties and Vietnam ultimately a loss. Our economy has gone through some pretty rough patches, caused by what are now recognized as major policy mistakes — the depression of the 1930s and the stagflation of the 1970s.

And sometimes we have been faced with tragic choices. Just 65 years ago, just after Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill spent Christmastime at the White House conferring with Franklin Roosevelt. Optimum solutions were not in sight. The American fleet was still smoldering, the Japanese were streaming into the Philippines and headed into Malaya (with its rubber) and Singapore. Nazi troops were on the outskirts of Moscow (you can see the monument marking their farthest advance on the highway in from the airport today), and U.S. military leaders all believed that the Soviets would be defeated within months.

But Churchill and Roosevelt were determined to move forward, even (as in the North Africa invasion of November 1942) against the advice of their military leaders. And they both without hesitation chose to support the Soviets, even though they were well aware of the evil of Stalin's regime — and understood that in destroying Hitler they were risking Soviet enslavement of Eastern Europe.

We forget now, but there was opposition to Roosevelt's decision to go after Hitler first (hadn't we been attacked by the Japanese, not the Germans?) and to support Stalin (an indubitably evil leader). And there were many times — not just moments, but agonizingly long months — when it seemed that victory was impossible. Our military strategy and tactics were far from perfect. And the Soviets did gobble up Eastern Europe and North Korea, as well. But the less-than-optimum choices Roosevelt and Churchill made, in retrospect and on balance, look preferable to any alternatives.

George W. Bush now faces an array of less-than-optimum choices on Iraq. On the campaign trail and on Sunday interview shows, many Democrats and a few Republicans for months blithely talked of withdrawal. But as they have faced the probable consequences, spelled out by among others the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, the downside risks seem ominous.

Nor does the ISG's recommendation that we negotiate with Iran and Syria look at all promising, given the recent behavior of Iran's Ahmadinejad. Debate continues on military tactics. Should we embed more trainers in Iraqi units? Should we surge some 35,000 or so troops in to pacify Baghdad? The success of military tactics, as Churchill and Roosevelt knew, is never certain. But the challenges before us are surely not as daunting as assaulting Hitler's Fortress Europa and reclaiming the Pacific from Japan.

Bush has stressed that he has followed the advice of his military leaders. But he needs to do more. He needs to engage now with his new secretary of defense and his military leaders, in the aggressive and detailed way that Churchill and Roosevelt did, probing and critiquing their proposals, eliciting from them plans that can reduce the sectarian violence in Baghdad and the Baathist and Al-Qaida attacks there and in Anbar province to tolerable levels. Even over Christmas, as Churchill and Roosevelt did
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Bush is my hero

Thanks to CornetJim again, for this one. Since the elections, historic perspective is "en vogue" again, so here is mine, aptly expounded by the former liberal mayor of New York...T

President George W. Bush, vilified by many, supported by some, is a hero to me.

Why do I say that? It's not because I agree with the President's domestic agenda. It's not because I think he's done a perfect job in the White House.

George Bush is a hero to me because he has courage. The President does what he believes to be in the best interest of the United States. He sticks with his beliefs, no matter how intense the criticism and invective that are directed against him every day.

The enormous defeat President Bush suffered with the loss of both Houses of Congress has not caused him to retreat from his position that the U.S. alone now stands between a radical Islamic takeover of many of the world's governments in the next 30 or more years. If that takeover occurs, we will suffer an enslavement that will threaten our personal freedoms and take much of the world back into the Dark Ages.

Our major ally in this war against the forces of darkness, Great Britain, is still being led by an outstanding prime minister, Tony Blair. However, Blair will soon be set out to pasture, which means Great Britain will leave our side and join France, Germany, Spain and other countries that foolishly believe they can tame the wolf at the door and convert it into a domestic pet that will live in peace with them.

These dreamers naively believe that if we feed the wolves what they demand, they will go away. But that won't happen. Appeasement never works. The wolves always come back for more and more, and when we have nothing left to give, they come for us.

Radical Islamists are very much aware that we have shown fear. For example, we have allowed the people of Darfur — dark skinned Africans — to be terrorized, killed, raped and taken as slaves by the supporters of the Sudanese government, radical Islamists. The countries surrounding Iraq — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan — made up of Sunni Arabs, know that for them, the wolves who are the radical Shia are already at their door. The New York Times reported on December 13, 2006, "Saudi Arabia has told the Bush administration that it might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq's Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq, according to American and Arab diplomats...The Saudis have argued strenuously against an American pullout from Iraq, citing fears that Iraq's minority Sunni Arab population would be massacred...The Bush administration is also working on a way to form a coalition of Sunni Arab nations and a moderate Shiite government in Iraq, along with the United States and Europe, to stand against 'Iran, Syria and the terrorists."

This Saudi response will take place notwithstanding that until now, according to The Times, "The Saudis have been wary of supporting Sunnis in Iraq because their insurgency there has been led by extremists of Al Qaeda, who are opposed to the kingdom's monarchy. But if Iraq's sectarian war worsened, the Saudis would line up with Sunni tribal leaders."

The Times article went on to state the opinion of an Arab expert, Nawaf Obaid, who was recently fired by the Saudi foreign minister after Obaid wrote an op ed in The Washington Post asserting that the Saudis were prepared in the event of an American pullout to engage in a "massive intervention to stop Iranian-backed Shiite militias from butchering Iraqi Sunnis." Obaid went on "suggest[ing] that Saudi Arabia could cut world oil prices in half...a move that would be devastating to Iran."

The Times reported, "Arab diplomats...said that Mr. Obaid's column reflected the view of the Saudi government." When writing about affairs of state in distant places, unless you are on the scene talking to knowledgeable participants, the most reliable sources to support conjecture with "facts" are the superb reporters of the great international newspapers like The New York Times.

Surely this turn of events in Saudi Arabia undoubtedly replicated in other Sunni-dominated countries — Sunnis are 80 percent of the world's Muslim population. This will give support to my proposal, advanced nearly a year ago, that we tell our allies, regional and NATO, that we are getting out of Iraq unless they come in. That may well work, and they will come in, in large part and share the casualties of combat and the financial costs of war.

Doing what I suggest is far better than simply pulling out, which is the direction in which we are headed, notwithstanding the President's opposition. I think at the moment simply getting out and not making an attempt to bring our allies in is supported by a majority of Americans and would be supported by a majority of Democrats in the Congress. For me, staying is clearly preferable, provided we are not alone and are joined by our regional and NATO allies, aggressively taking on the difficult but necessary task of destroying radical Islam and its terrorist agenda if we don't want to see radical Islam destroy the Western world and moderate Arab states over the next generation, or as long as it takes for them to succeed.

Two other requirements are needed to bring the war in Iraq to a successful conclusion: first, require the Iraqi government to allow greater autonomy for the three regions — Kurd, Sunni and Shia. The second requirement is that the national Iraqi government enact legislation that will divide all oil and natural gas revenues in a way similar to that of our own state of Alaska.

The Alaskan state government takes from those revenues all it will need to finance government and provide services and the balance is divided among the population of Alaska, in a profit sharing program. That would settle the major Sunni problem which has been being cut out of oil revenues because the country's oil is located only in Kurdish and Shiite areas. If the Iraqi government refuses our demands, our reply should be "Goodbye. You're on your own." This proposal was suggested to me by Mike Sheppard in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

It won't be easy to implement this proposal. But President Bush has courage. Now is the time to use it.
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