Iraq Archives

A Change in Foreign Policy?

Jesse Jackson, not a spokesman for Obama but one who certainly believes he knows what’s coming, spoke about key foreign policy changes he sees in an Obama administration.

He promised "fundamental changes" in US foreign policy – saying America must "heal wounds" it has caused to other nations, revive its alliances and apologize for the "arrogance of the Bush administration."

The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where "decades of putting Israel’s interests first" would end.

Jackson believes that, although "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" remain strong, they’ll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House.

First, let’s talk about "first", as in the US "putting Israel’s interests first".  First in front of whom, ours?  Hasn’t been that was so far.  First in front of the myriad countries in the Middle East who have been attacking, or supporting attacks on, Israel?  Well sure, but our alliance with a well-functioning democracy — the best in the region — against aggressor nations and gangs is, I would think, a good thing. 

I guess the main question would be; which country or countries would get boosted?  The Palestinians?  The folks who vote in terrorist organizations to run their government and lob rockets virtually daily into civilian Israeli towns?  The ones who, while living in Israel, get the right to vote and all?  The ones who, when given land for peace, use that land for launching attacks?  Yeah, apparently them.

Jackson is especially critical of President Bush’s approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

"Bush was so afraid of a snafu and of upsetting Israel that he gave the whole thing a miss," Jackson says. "Barack will change that," because, as long as the Palestinians haven’t seen justice, the Middle East will "remain a source of danger to us all."

If we’d just wipe Israel off the map, like Hamas wants, we’d all be much safer.  Yeah, right.

Second, about those alliances allegedly needing reviving.  I think Jackson has believed the media reports that we went into Iraq "unilaterally".  A browsing of Wikipedia will dispel that misnomer.  Granted, the US has had the vast majority of troops there, but we had more to contribute.  Much like the widow’s mite, it’s not so much the absolute amount contributed as it is the sort of sacrifice it may be.  You’ll find listed a number of countries freed from Soviet domination when we won the Cold War.  You’ll find quite a diverse collection of nationalities, all in support of the US and its policy in Iraq. 

You won’t find France on there.  That’s because they decided to work with Iraq, under the table and subverting the sanctions, for their own economic gain.  When the shooting started, however, they slinked away and waited it out.  Yeah, that’s the kind of country I want in my alliance.  Revive us today, indeed, Obama.

So our foreign policy may indeed look quite different than it does today, but that’s not necessarily a better thing.  Since the Iraq war, many countries (including, just last night, Canada and, interestingly, France) have shifted to the right politically.  Zaptero’s Spain tried appeasing terrorism by pulling out of Iraq after a change in administrations, but the Madrid bombings happened anyway.  The world has nudged slightly toward the right, and where it hasn’t, in hopes of avoiding confrontation, it’s been hounded by the bad guys anyway. 

The world is beginning to see what George W. Bush saw, but unfortunately the United States apparently doesn’t.

"Jarred by the Calm": Winning in Baghdad

When even the New York Times suggests that we might be winning, or indeed may have already won, the major part of the war in Iraq, that’s saying something.

When I left Baghdad two years ago, the nation’s social fabric seemed too shredded to ever come together again. The very worst had lost its power to shock. To return now is to be jarred in the oddest way possible: by the normal, by the pleasant, even by hope. The questions are jarring, too. Is it really different now? Is this something like peace or victory? And, if so, for whom: the Americans or the Iraqis?

The answer is, "Yes, all of the above."  Could it break down at a later date?  Yes; no peace this side of eternity is eternal.  But I would be extremely surprised if it breaks down back to rape rooms and all out firefights among Iraqis in some sort of true civil war.  (One militia a la Al Sadr does not a civil war make.)

This article, according to the bottom of the web page, appeared only in the local New York edition of the paper, as if only New Yorkers would be interested in it.  When the news agrees with the editorial page, it’s on the front page.  When it doesn’t, it’s relegated to a spot somewhere around the Parade magazine insert.  That’s what passes for "balance" at the New York Times.

Oh, By The Way, Iraq Keeps Getting Better

Amid Labor Day festivities and (if you read the blogs) Palin kerfuffles, something dramatic happened on the Iraqi front.

The U.S. military has handed over security control of the western province of Anbar to Iraqi forces.

The province was once a hotbed of the Sunni Arab insurgency, and the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war.

The handover marks a major milestone in America’s strategy of turning security over to the Iraqis so U.S. troops can eventually go home.

In the ceremony Monday in the provincial capital of Ramadi, the top American commander in Anbar, Marine Maj. Gen. John Kelly, said Al Qaeda has not been entirely defeated in Anbar. But he said, "their end is near."

As Glenn Reynolds notes, a book he just got in the mail, "Losing Hurts Twice as Bad: The Four Stages to Moving Beyond Iraq", was probably pitched before the surge.  Now it’s just an embarrassment. 

20/20 Foresight

If you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that a vote for the surge in Iraq and its strategy changes would dramatically reduce the amount of violence and deaths, giving the Iraqi government breathing room to get 15 of 18 benchmarks completed, would you vote for it?  If it was a certainty?

Obama wouldn’t have.  The man of Hope and Change(tm) would have kept the status quo.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is playing politics with the war and the lives of our soldiers.  Bailing out at all costs — big costs, to Iraq if not to us — is irresponsibility at its highest.  That’s not the kind of man I want as President.

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In. The. Tank.

Not content to send mere reporters with Obama when he visits Iraq, all the Big Three network news organizations are going to send their anchors. Which, of course, they also did for McCain. Or not.

While Thursday’s New York Times reported that the anchors from all three network newscasts will be joining Barack Obama on his trip to Iraq, they showed no such interest in following John McCain during his visit to Iraq in March. During the week of March 16, McCain’s trip received only four full-length stories during the combined ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news program coverage. Three of those stories were on NBC’s “Nightly News,” one of which focused on McCain’s mistaken comment about Iran funding Al Qaeda in Iraq. ABC’s “World News” did only one full-length story on McCain’s Iraq trip, which mentioned the gaffe. The CBS “Evening News” was by far the worst, devoting only 31 words to the Republican nominee’s Iraq visit during the entire week of evening news coverage.

(Emphasis in original.) This is pointing out yet another disparity from the media regarding news coverage that the Times is now having to grudgingly recognize.

Even the Times article acknowledged that McCain’s Iraq trip received little coverage: “Senator John McCain’s trip to Iraq last March was a low-key affair: With a small retinue of reporters chasing him abroad…But the coverage also feeds into concerns in Mr. McCain’s campaign, and among Republicans in general, that the news media are imbalanced in their coverage of the candidates.”

Oh, but it’s not actually true that the media are ignoring McCain, it’s just that the fact “feeds into concerns” that there is a problem. Like I said, grudgingly.

And by the way, how much better must the security situation be in Iraq that the Big Three feel comfortable sending their top dogs to the field?

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The Price of "Military Adventurism"

Hezbollah is planning on hitting Israeli targets anywhere in the world they can find them.

Intelligence agencies in the United States and Canada are warning of mounting signs that Hezbollah, backed by Iran, is poised to mount a terror attack against "Jewish targets" somewhere outside the Middle East.

Intelligence officials tell ABC News the group has activated suspected "sleeper cells" in Canada and key operatives have been tracked moving outside the group’s Lebanon base to Canada, Europe and Africa.


Suspected Hezbollah operatives have conducted recent surveillance on the Israeli embassy in Ottawa, Canada and on several synagogues in Toronto, according to the officials.

Latin American is also considered a possible target by officials following Hezbollah’s planning.

Being a terrorist organization, they have just one thing on their mind; death.

"They want to kill as many people as they can, they want it to be a big splash," said former CIA intelligence officer Bob Baer, who says he met with Hezbollah leaders in Beirut last month.

"They cannot have an operation fail," said Baer, "and I don’t think they will. They’re the A-team of terrorism."

And what about "The Great Satan"?  How about Israeli interests in the United States?

Baer says his Hezbollah contacts told him an attack against the US was unlikely because Iran and Hezbollah did not want to give the Bush administration an excuse to attack.

So then, a terrorist organization, even one where suicide bombing is a major weapon, can still be deterred if there is a credible threat of force.  And specifically because of the actions of the Bush administration, this organization (that Michael Chertoff, quoted in the article, says that "they make al Qaeda look like a minor league team") doesn’t want to attack us and we in the United States are safer than, say, an unnamed neighbor to the north who only wants to send their military in when there’s little chance of getting into an actual fight.

I’d rather be feared by the terrorists than get more in France’s good graces.  It isn’t enough to simply have a military if you never intend to use it.  Osama bin Laden, after we tucked tail and ran out of Somalia when things got the slightest bit hot, came to the conclusion "that the American soldier was just a paper tiger".  This emboldened him for the 9/11 attacks, but what he failed to realize is that the "paper tiger" had already finished his 2nd term. 

This is not to say that any and every conflict must be entered full force, or that diplomacy makes us less safe.  That is not the case.  But the anti-war crowd would do well to note Hezbollah’s reticence to come after us.  If we’d let Saddam Hussein have Kuwait, or if we’d not responded when he shot almost daily at our planes enforcing the cease-fire, or if we’d ignored the fact that so much of his known WMDs were unaccounted for, or simply rattled the plastic saber of UN resolutions a hundred more times (and have them ignored just as many times), Hezbollah, based on this analysis, would have been more likely to attack us on our soil.  Saddam had been subject to the world’s frowns and the UN’s sternly worded letters for over a decade.  Diplomacy had had much more than its fair shot at coming to a peaceful conclusion.

Pundits, bloggers and presidential candidates on the Left over the years have said that the Bush Doctrine has not made us safer.  The reality is, out of fear of us and due to stepped up anti-terrorism measures, the US and US interests have been safer from terrorist attacks than any 5-year period in a long time.  No attacks.  And (to torture an analogy) an ounce of an act of terrorism prevented, due to the bad guys’ fear, is worth a pound of spies. 

I would urge America not to elect another paper tiger in November.  We don’t need to embolden terrorists.

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Bush Lied! (Or Not.) – Part Deux

More deconstructing of the meme that Bush lied and the Democrats were misled. This time, it’s from James Kirchick. This isn’t someone on the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy mailing list; he’s been actively speaking out against the Right. And now we hear from him:

Yet in spite of all the accusations of White House “manipulation” — that it pressured intelligence analysts into connecting Hussein and Al Qaeda and concocted evidence about weapons of mass destruction — administration critics continually demonstrate an inability to distinguish making claims based on flawed intelligence from knowingly propagating falsehoods.

Oh please Read the Whole Thing(tm). Frankly, I’m thrilled that the Washington Post Editorial Page Editor and now an assistant editor of the New Republic are finally arriving at the truth. At the same time, the information that they’re working from — the Senate Intelligence Committee report recently released — doesn’t really break new ground in terms of the facts presented, and in fact comes to the same conclusion that the 2004 report from the same committee came to, Senator Rockefeller’s bleat about being led to war “under false pretenses” not withstanding.

As much as the media has presented and pushed and given air to the charge of lying on the part of the Bush administration, and as serious a charge as it is, one would hope that it would give as much attention to the report and those on the Left who are backing the President.

One can hope. One can always hope. But hold not thy breath.

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Bush Lied! (Or Not.)

Democratic Senator John D. Rockefeller claims victory in investigating whether or not Bush lied in order to get us into war with Iraq. 

"In making the case for war, the administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when it was unsubstantiated, contradicted or even nonexistent," he said.

"Bush lied, people died!", went the call, which is now a piece of Received Wisdom on the Left.  But just a the slogan was disingenuous, so is Rockefeller’s pronouncement on the report.  Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post (no stalwart of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, they) lays it out.

On Iraq’s nuclear weapons program? The president’s statements "were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates."

On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president’s statements "were substantiated by intelligence information."

On chemical weapons, then? "Substantiated by intelligence information."

On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information." Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? "Generally substantiated by available intelligence." Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."

As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you’ve mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s alleged ties to terrorism.

But statements regarding Iraq’s support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information." Statements that Iraq provided safe haven for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other terrorists with ties to al-Qaeda "were substantiated by the intelligence assessments," and statements regarding Iraq’s contacts with al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information." The report is left to complain about "implications" and statements that "left the impression" that those contacts led to substantive Iraqi cooperation.

So what went wrong?  Hiatt comes to admit that it’s what the Right has been saying all along.

But the phony "Bush lied" story line distracts from the biggest prewar failure: the fact that so much of the intelligence upon which Bush and Rockefeller and everyone else relied turned out to be tragically, catastrophically wrong.

(Wow, is having the MSM call the "Bush lied" meme "phony" one of the signs of the apocalypse?) 

So the line has been drawn, ironically by the Democrats themselves.  Henceforth, anyone parroting this idea is themselves lying or hopelessly uninformed.  Stay tuned.

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Shire Network News #132

Shire Network News #132 has been released. The feature interview is with Ann Bayefsky, editor of the Eye on the UN website and Director of the Touro College Institute of Human Rights and the Holocaust.  She says the 2001 Durban Conference on Racism, which turned into an anti-semitic hatefest, is being repeated shortly in Geneva, and as happened the first time, it’s been hijacked by Islamic countries, who seem bent on widening the focus to include taking away the right to free speech. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News, asking you to "Consider This!"

It’s time to go through the "Consider This" mailbag because, well, frankly, it’s never been gone through before, and my wife is wanting some floor space back in our basement.  So I’ve combed through the sacks and sacks of letters, found that most of them were filled with clothes our kids have outgrown, and come up with some of the burning questions that simply must be answered.

Is your real name Doug Payton, or is it a pen name, like Tom Paine or Brian of London?  Indeed, that is my real name.  If I was going to use a fake name, I’d hope I could come up with something more interesting and more obviously fake, like Barack Obama.

Why are we losing in Iraq?  Well, Mr. Bin Laden, I find it very interesting you should ask that question.  The fine folks at the Strategy Page website have indeed been reading what different factions in your organization have been saying on that very matter.  Aside from the fact that most of your leadership and soldiers are dead, captured, running away or just quitting, I’d have to say that killing fellow Muslims in an attempt to kill the infidels probably had a lot to do with it.  Framing those casualties with the oxymoronic term "involuntary martyrs", while probably enriching some public relations firm, didn’t seem to turn the tide.

Will Susan Sarandon really move to Italy or Canada if McCain is elected US President?  I think she technically said she’d "be checking out a move".  And, like all those other Hollywood types that threatened a move when Bush was elected, and then re-elected, maybe she’s just acting.  The "Consider This" Magic 8 Ball replies, "My sources say no."

I read that Harvey Korman died.  Who was he?  Oh, you poor, poor youngster.  Harvey Korman, who died at 81 this past week, was a comedian who, among many other things such as a few Mel Brooks movies, was one of the regulars on the old Carol Burnett Show.  Now that was comedy.  It was so funny that Korman himself, after rehearsing the sketches over and over, still often had to stifle his own laughter, or turn his back to the audience to hide it, when Tim Conway delivered some zingers.  But Korman most certainly pulled his own weight on the show and made it the classic it is. 

Is Al Gore’s movie "An Inconvenient Truth" really going to be done as an opera?  Yes, it seems so, for the 2011 season in Milan, Italy.  No, you just can’t make up stuff like this.  Pavarotti with charts and graphs just seems like it would chase off all but the most liberal of opera lovers, but if it works, I wonder if setting the US Constitution to music would be useful.  I’m betting that the opera house will initially have its thermostat set at a chilly 65 degrees, and programmed to rise to 80 by the end, just to enhance the experience.  Dave Barry thinks that, at the end, the fat lady will burst into flames.

I like Obama’s idea of talking with our enemies without preconditions.  We just need to sit down with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, explain our point of view, give him some economic incentives, and make friends with him.  Then he won’t pursue nuclear weapons, if you really believe that’s what he’s doing.  Is that all it would take?  Have a heart-to-heart, give him some goodies, try to identify with his inner anti-Semite, and we’d all be hunky-dory.  I don’t know, Mr. Carter, I just seem to remember that that sort of "diplomacy" didn’t work out so well with North Korea.

Where are people disappearing from at an alarming rate?  From Barack Obama’s "Faith Testimonials" page.  First Jeremiah Wright mysteriously disappeared.  Now Father Michael Pfleger has dropped off the radar after saying, from the pulpit of Trinity Church, that Hillary Clinton thought she was entitled to the presidency because she’s white, which is demonstrably false.  Actually, she thinks she entitled to it because she’s a Clinton.  And now, Obama himself is disappearing from the Trinity Church rolls.  I guess after 20 years, the Trinity pulpit got too outrageous in just 6 short months.

I have a math question: If a missile leaves Tehran at 3pm traveling 125 miles per hour, and 10 minutes later a missile defense system in Jerusalem launches countermeasures traveling at 150 miles per hour, where will they meet and who can I blame it on?  Well, Mr. Ahmadinejad, I’m just going to forward this to someone who could figure that out.  "Jimmy Carter, Plains, Georgia."  There, that should be educational, for the both of you.

Consider that.

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"Why We Lost in Iraq"

From "Strategy Page" comes this extremely interesting analysis of why al Qaeda believes they lost in Iraq. 

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