War Archives

War On … What, Exactly?

According to President Obama’s top counterterrorism official, we should no longer use the term "war on terror" to describe the struggle against jihadis.  Oops, sorry, John Brennan also said we’re not at war with jihadis either, since "jihad" is, "a legitimate term, ‘jihad,’ meaning to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal".  No, this should just be called a "war with al Qaeda", because after all, they’re really the only jihadi terrorists that hate us. 

Oh, and World War II is to be renamed in all future textbooks as the "War Against Adolf Hitler, Personally".  Otherwise, it would sound like it took place everywhere and was against the whole country of Germany.  Well, and Italy, but the "War Against Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, Personally" doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely.

And it’s not a global war either, says Johnny.  Just because al Qaeda operates in the Middle East and Africa, and attacked the US on its home soil, we don’t want to risk making it sound like they really are all over the place.  It’s an image thing, you know.  Control the message.

So my question is this; if this counterterrorism official says we’re not fighting terrorists, what does that say about his position as a … counterterrorism official?  Perhaps he’d just rather put up a sign over his door saying, "Mission Accomplished" and hit the golf course.


Regarding Gitmo detainees who may have been acquitted,

Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration argues that the legal basis for indefinite detention of aliens it considers dangerous is separate from war-crimes prosecutions. Officials say that the laws of war allow indefinite detention to prevent aliens from committing warlike acts in future, while prosecution by military commission aims to punish them for war crimes committed in the past.

On national security, Obama has pretty much held the Bush line.  But hey, he gave great speeches about Change, so it’s OK.

Good News from Gitmo

The prisoners don’t want to leave.

BAGHDAD (AFP) — An increasing number of Iraqi detainees are refusing to leave detention centres despite being eligible for release because they want to complete studies begun behind bars, a US general said on Sunday.

“In the last three or four months we have begun seeing detainees asking to stay in detention, usually to complete their studies,” Major General Douglas Stone told a news conference in Baghdad.

The US military offers a wide range of educational programmes to the 23,000 or so detainees — adults and juveniles — being held at its two detention facilities, Camp Cropper near Baghdad’s international airport and Camp Bucca near the southern port city of Basra.

Some parents of juvenile detainees, too, have asked that their children remain behind bars so they can continue their schooling, said Stone, the commanding general for US detainee operations in Iraq.

The US military, he added, was not encouraging the trend.

“We don’t want them to remain in detention,” he said. “When they are no longer considered a threat we want them to go home.”

(Hat tip: Betsy Newmark.)  Just keep this in mind when human rights groups complain about how bad the place is.  What kinds of a “concentration camp” educates its own prisoners to the point that they’d rather not leave?

Israel Moves to the Right

The election in Israel, the outcome of which makes parliamentary government very entertaining to watch, gave more votes to right-leaning parties than to left-leaning ones.  Meryl Yourish with the analysis:

The vote in Israel shows that a majority of Israelis voted for right-leaning parties. Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party, loathed by many for issues like wanting Arab Israelis to swear a loyalty oath, won fifteen seats in the Knesset. Labor, the party that gave us the worst Defense Minister ever (but the best Stalin lookalike, Amir Peretz) won only thirteen. The “peace” parties—the parties that the world most expected to bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians—were shoved aside. Why is that? Why is Labor doomed to the opposition, and Meretz even more marginalized than before?

Her answer is basically that the rockets voted. That’s actually a phrase I read in an opinion piece in the Atlantic, though it does convey her meaning. 

But the thing is, the rocket fire hasn’t traumatized the Israelis so much as it has woken them up.

Israelis want peace. But the policies of the last decade have failed. So Israelis are voting for the strong horse, as they say, but only just. The right-leaning parties have a bare majority in a 120-seat Knesset. The majority of Israelis no longer trust the peace process, because they’ve tried it for decades, and every time Israel gives up land, in return, they get terror.

The Gaza Strip was not blockaded when Israel first pulled out. Instead of working on building Gaza up economically, Gazans destroyed every last vestige of Israel, including the greenhouses, and then installed Hamas firmly into the government. The message to Israel was clear: We’re still going to destroy you. The thousands of missiles carried that message to southern Israel on a regular basis. Even now, Hamas refuses to stop the rockets, refuses to put aside “resistance,” and still calls for an Islamic state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Israelis aren’t stupid. They were hopeful. They were optimistic. They were willing to believe that the Palestinians wanted peace just as much as they did.

They were wrong.

And that’s why the Israeli vote went to the right. Not because of the drivel that you read in the AP that says Israelis have a “self image as a besieged nation surrounded by enemies.” Not because “many Israelis are still traumatized by the Palestinian uprising.”

Sorry, John Lennon.  They gave peace a chance, for decades, frankly, and through the barrage of thousands of terrorist attacks in just the last 7 years.  Every effort and concession has been made and still their adversaries will simply not abide by their agreements. 

So now, Israel has spoken, and softly at that.  This was not an overwhelming change in political power, but it was significant.  Israel’s attackers have been put on notice.  Once more.

Is The Iraq War Won?

ABC News thinks it’s possible.

An epochal media moment Monday night on ABC’s World News? In an upbeat story about the election in Iraq "with virtually no violence," reporter Jim Sciutto raised the possibility the war is now over — just in time to enable President Barack Obama to fulfill his promise to reduce troop levels — as Sciutto asked a member of Iraq’s parliament: "Is this the end of the war?" Mahmoud Othman cautiously predicted: "If the Iraqi leaders could get together and work together sincerely, yes, this could be the end of the war."

     Anchor Charles Gibson set up the story by asserting the Saturday elections "mark a major turning point in the Iraqi effort to move forward and the U.S. desire to pull back." Sciutto began with a woman who agreed with his premise "Iraq is ready to move on without the Americans." Sciutto described how "almost every day there’s another handover from American to Iraqi authority" and that "it was Iraqi soldiers who kept polling stations remarkably safe" while check points "used to be manned by American soldiers. Today, they are almost exclusively Iraqi security forces."

Thank you George W. Bush, for this "liberation moment".  Thanks especially from Barack Obama who can now safely pull the troops out.

Rendition is Still an Option

Ed Morrissey notes that…

For the last seven years, the Left has screeched hysterically over the CIA practice of rendition, in which agents turn detainees over to authorities in their home country for interrogation.  Never mind that the practice started in the Clinton administration, and never mind that the other options were Guantanamo Bay, release, or two caps in the back of the head; they pilloried Bush over renditions as if he’d thought them up himself.  Hollywood even made a movie about how awful the process is, apparently matched in awfulness only by the film’s box office.

Obama has signed an executive order to remedy some things he finds wrong with the Bush administration policy, but some things remain as they are.

The CIA’s secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.

But even while dismantling these programs, President Obama left intact an equally controversial counter-terrorism tool.

Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role going forward because it was the main remaining mechanism — aside from Predator missile strikes — for taking suspected terrorists off the street.

The anti-war Left is surprisingly silent.

The decision to preserve the program did not draw major protests, even among human rights groups. Leaders of such organizations attribute that to a sense that nations need certain tools to combat terrorism.

"Under limited circumstances, there is a legitimate place" for renditions, said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "What I heard loud and clear from the president’s order was that they want to design a system that doesn’t result in people being sent to foreign dungeons to be tortured — but that designing that system is going to take some time."

But as Moe Lane notes, Human Rights Watch was playing quite a different tune up until a Democrat made it to the Oval Office.  Their web site says, in an article from April 7, 2008:

The US government should:

·Repudiate the use of rendition to torture as a counterterrorism tactic and permanently discontinue the CIA’s rendition program;

That was then.  This is now.  Now, it has "a legitimate place".  Funny how some Bush policies look oh-so-different through the Obama prism.

At least according to the incoming President Obama.  Charles Krauthammer explains, but I just have the bullet points here to get you to "Read the Whole Thing"(tm).  All lines below are quotes from the article.

  • Vindication is being expressed not in words but in deeds — the tacit endorsement conveyed by the Obama continuity-we-can-believe-in transition.
  • It is the repeated pledge to conduct a withdrawal from Iraq that does not destabilize its new democracy and that, as Vice President-elect Joe Biden said just this week in Baghdad, adheres to the Bush-negotiated status-of-forces agreement that envisions a U.S. withdrawal over three years, not the 16-month timetable on which Obama campaigned.
  • It is the great care Obama is taking in not preemptively abandoning the anti-terror infrastructure that the Bush administration leaves behind.
  • [On interrogation techniques]  Obama still disagrees with Cheney’s view of the acceptability of some of these techniques. But citing as sage the advice offered by "the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history" (according to Joe Biden) — advice paraphrased by Obama as "we shouldn’t be making judgments on the basis of incomplete information or campaign rhetoric" — is a startlingly early sign of a newly respectful consideration of the Bush-Cheney legacy.

The upshot?

Which is why Obama is consciously creating a gulf between what he now dismissively calls "campaign rhetoric" and the policy choices he must make as president. Accordingly, Newsweek — Obama acolyte and scourge of everything Bush/Cheney — has on the eve of the Democratic restoration miraculously discovered the arguments for warrantless wiretaps, enhanced interrogation and detention without trial. Indeed, Newsweek’s neck-snapping cover declares, "Why Obama May Soon Find Virtue in Cheney’s Vision of Power."

Another "Now They Tell Us" moment in the mainstream media.  All the anger and disdain thrown at Bush, figuratively here and by a certain Iraqi reporter there, is over ideas and policies that the incoming administration has show it’ll be slow to dismantle.  Those policies have indeed kept up safe for the 7 years since 9/11. 

No, the ends do not at all justify the means.  But for some of us, these were just wars.  For others, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq were just, and the reflexively anti-war crowd will continue to push Obama, as they did Bush, to just do whatever our enemies want so they won’t get angry with us.  Or perhaps isolate them, which "worked" so well for the 70+ years of aggressive communism in the Soviet Union.  That even failed miserably with Hussein’s Iraq, with our own "allies" funneling aid to them through the back door. 

No, George W. Bush kept us safe, and, despite the rancor and alarmism, without shredding the Constitution or civil liberties.  Obama played on the fears of his supporters long enough to get elected President, but the time has come for action, and before you judge the actions of his predecessor, see what his actions are.  That will speak louder to the success or failure of George W. Bush than any pundit’s pen can write.


With all the promises of change that Barack Obama got his supporters to believe, we’re now finding out that "promises" are more like "goals".  Or perhaps "hopes".

Close Gitmo on the first day in office?  First week?  First 100 days?  Well, technically, he may only issue an order to do it soon, but it’s "a challenge" to even close it within the first 100 days.  The ACLU wants a timetable.  Good luck with that.

"That’s a challenge," Obama said on ABC’s "This Week." "I think it’s going to take some time and our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do."

It’s not as easy as some on the Left expected it would be.  The "Reality-based community" finds that facing reality isn’t what they thought it would be.

Iraq withdrawal within 16 months?  Well, Biden has said that they’re going to follow the Bush plan instead.  Additional take on this and all the Iraq issues at RedState.

Universal Health Care is being back-burnered.  Indeed, the economic crisis should be one of the top priorities, but I thought this whole scheme was supposed to save us all money.  If it’s such a win-win for the economy and health care, why delay?  Hmmm.  (Perhaps it has something to do with how poorly UHC is working in places like Massachusetts?)

No lobbyists serving in policy areas they have worked to influence in the past year.  So then, September 2008 is technically last year.

Interrogation techniques that Obama campaigned against may actually get a new lease on life.  Newsweek tells us:

Dick Cheney, who will step down as vice president on Jan. 20, has been widely portrayed as a creature of the dark side, a monstrous figure who trampled on the Constitution to wage war against all foes, real and imagined. Barack Obama was elected partly to cleanse the temple of the Bush-Cheney stain, and in his campaign speeches he promised to reverse Cheney’s efforts to seize power for the White House in the war on terror.

It may not be so simple

This could be another entry in my "New They Tell Us" category.  This was so simple during the campaign, but now they tell us it’s complex.  Nuance, anyone?

All this added to Obama’s waffling on tax cuts, windfall profits taxes on Big Oil, and FISA.  Now, I have no illusion that Obama has become some sort of bedrock conservative (though he’s been seen in the company of some), and we’re still likely to see many a liberal policy enacted.  However, underneath all this complaining by the Left that the new boss seems the same as the old boss is one thought; maybe the old boss got some things right.

Shire Network News #154: Back to Gaza

Shire Network News #154 has been released. The theme for the first episode of the new year is the war in Gaza, and includes long-lost SNN contributor Lawrence Simon.  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.

I do not have a segment in this show.

Shire Network News has been nominated for Best Podcast in the 2008 Weblog awards.  Please vote for us at this link.  Thank  you very much.

The 2008 Weblog Awards

The Gaza War and the "Anti-War" Left

"There have been approximately 7,200 rockets (Grads, Qassams) and mortars launched at Israel since 2005", according to IDFSpokesperson.com.  There are more stats at the link, but let that one sink in for a moment (especially after reading this headline).

Now consider that when Israel finally defends itself, and launches a counter-attack, with the goal, not of revenge, not of tit-for-tat, but to stop the attacks aimed at it’s civilians by targeting Hamas’ military, then and only then does the "anti-war" Left spring into action.  I really must put "anti-war" in scare quotes because, as much as their rhetoric is anti-all-war, they only get their dander up when their particular political ox is being gored.  They dredge up their celebrities, who have been chirping with the crickets for years regarding Hamas’ continual barrage, and get them to feign outrage for the media.

Israel made the extremely difficult decision to evict its own people out of their homes to make Gaza available to the Palestinians.  But with respect to international relations, the only thing that did was give Hamas a closer base of operations to fire rockets into southern Israel.  And as this short video production notes, distance is only a matter of time.  Unless Hamas’ ability to launch is severely curtailed or stopped, major population centers are on their list. 

But nary a word from the "anti-war" Left, hardly a bare nod to what Hamas terrorists have been inflicting on Israel for years.  There’s a word for this: Disingenuous. 

I’d like to re-link something that Mark O. noted before.  This post at Chicago Boyz notes that terrorism, historically, cannot be negotiated with.  Any concessions simply bolster their cause for more terrorism.  Israel, after decades of pressure, gave up land for peace.  They did the former, but they never got the latter.  And if all they do is make concessions, they never will.  (Remember this when discussing "root causes" of 9/11, by the way.)

I’ll leave you with this post from Yourish.com; 15 New Commandments for gradual self-destruction.  See what the liberal mindset hath wrought.  (And bookmark "yourish.com".  Their analysis of the media coverage of the Gaza war has been fantastic.)

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