Friday, June 22, 2007

Fred Doesn't CAIR

To Fred's great credit, he has no blinders on about CAIR and is quite willing to speak up. Of more importance, he has no blinders on about those funding CAIR. Fred not only speaks out against CAIR, but also its financial backers - Saudi Arabia and the UAE. If ever the problem of radical Islam will be addressed in the West, then the first step is to acknowledge the role of our supposed Middle East allies in fanning the flames of radicalism in the West.

This from Fred:

. . . For years, CAIR has claimed to represent millions of American Muslims. In fact, they claim to represent more Muslims in America then [there are Muslims] in America. This has alarmed Americans in general as the group often seems to be more aligned with our enemies than us -- which isn't surprising as it spun off from a group funded by Hamas. As you know, Hamas has been waging a terrorist war against Israel and calls for its total destruction. It also promises to see America destroyed. Nowadays, Hamas is busy murdering its Palestinian political rivals.

Even with this history, and CAIR's conspicuous failure to condemn Hamas by name, it has been treated as if represents Muslim Americans by our own government. The good news is that the financial support CAIR claims to have among American Muslims is a myth. We know this because The Washington Times got hold of the group's IRS tax records.

CAIR's dues-paying membership has shrunk 90 percent since 9/11 . . . Clearly, America's Muslims are not supporting this group -- and I'm happy to hear about it.

Of course, every silver lining seems to have a cloud; and this cloud is that CAIR's spending is running about $3 million a year. They’ve opened 25 new chapters in major cities across the country even as their dues shrank to a pittance. The question is; who’s funding CAIR?

CAIR's not saying. The New York Times earlier this year reported that the backing is from "wealthy Persian Gulf governments" including the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Obviously, we have a bigger problem here than the one with CAIR.
Read the entire story here. If you read Robert Baer's book "Sleeping With The Devil," he thoroughly documents on Saudi money has had a horrendously corrupting influence on our government, Republican and Democrat alike. Part of this has played out in governmental silence about the Saudi's export of radical Wahhabi / Salafi Islam throughout the Western World. Part of this has played out in the government's refusal to acknowledge the Saudi's destructive influence. And part of it has played out in calling our enemy "Islamofacism" rather then Wahhabi / Salafi Islam and Khomeinist Shia'ism.

This has all been in an effort to make sure that the Saudi's are angred or upset and decide to turn off the oil and money spigot. But this facade has to end. And the bottom line is that the Saudi's need the U.S. economically and as a bullwark against Khomeinist Shia'ism. It is time for our leaders to take on radical Islam at its source. And that source begins with Saudi Arabia. Thus, I salute Fred for this first step.


BBC The Fifth Column?

As this poster from WWII communicates, one should not blithley give away information about military units or their precise movements. This is sheer common sense. Information is power in war. If you know where the enemy is, his routes of travel, and his strength at any particular location, then you can successfully attack and kill them. Such information in wartime is always classified and always closely guarded. It is a matter of life and death. This is all the more true when you are moving on the offensive - as the U.S. military is now doing. The U.S. military is in the opening stage of a massive Corps size offensive going on throughout Iraq, including in Diyala Province.

The BBC ran a story on the U.S. and Iraqi offensive in Diyala Province the other day. At the conclusion of the article, they appended the following request for information:

"Are you in Iraq? Have you seen any troop movements? If you have any information you would like to share with the BBC, you can do so using the form below."
See here. There is an excellent discussion of this at the website Biased BBC. And the Telegraph provides some additional information on this incident:
A spokesman was unable to offer a detailed explanation of why anyone at the BBC should be seeking such information or whether any details on troop movements had been received.

He refused to identify who put the message up but said that "the journalist" responsible had been reminded that "this is not a form of words we would use".

However, in a statement, the BBC added: "BBC Online regularly asks visitors to its websites to supply information they may have relating to a specific story through a response form posted at the end of a news item.

"This particular page should not have been published. The BBC never broadcasts or publishes information which may put British troops at increased risk."
Read the entire article here. here. There is no legitimate reason whatsoever for the BBC to be seeking this information just as American soldiers are launching a major offensive. Information on troop movements during an offensive has no news value. Its only value is to the enemy. Even setting aside for the moment the virulently anti-American bent of the BBC, as well as their pro-Arab bent, it is quite reasonable that our government should be demanding a thorough investigation of who put up this request for information, who received information per the request, and whether it was retransmitted to anyone.

The BBC has completely stepped over the line on this one.


Brits Getting a Bit Less Multicultural?

It seems the rank and file of our cousins across the pond are losing patience with Islamic women who think it appropriate to wear the Niqab, covering themselves head to toe. Actually, rather then take issue with the women, greater issue should be taken with the poisonous Wahhabi clerics who strongly call for this as just one more means of insuring that Muslims do not integrate into the West. In either event, the UK is not Saudi Arabia. Dressing in such garb is a clear sign of a refusal to integrate into British secular society, and as such, it is wholly inappropriate inside the UK. The UK should outlaw such garb in all government buildings, as do France and Turkey.

Increasingly, Muslim women in Britain take their children to school and run errands covered head to toe in flowing black gowns that allow only a slit for their eyes. On a Sunday afternoon in Hyde Park, groups of black-clad Muslim women relaxed on the green baize lawn among the in-line skaters and badminton players.

Their appearance, like little else, has unnerved other Britons, testing the limits of tolerance here and fueling the debate over the role of Muslims in British life.

Many veiled women say they are targets of abuse. Meanwhile, there are growing efforts to place legal curbs on the full-face Muslim veil, known as the niqab.

There have been numerous examples in the past year. A lawyer dressed in a niqab was told by an immigration judge that she could not represent a client because, he said, he could not hear her. A teacher wearing a niqab was dismissed from her school. A student who was barred from wearing a niqab took her case to the courts, and lost. In reaction, the British educational authorities are proposing a ban on the niqab in schools altogether.

A leading Labor Party politician, Jack Straw, scolded women last year for coming to see him in his district office in the niqab. Prime Minister Tony Blair has called the niqab a “mark of separation.”

David Sexton, a columnist for The Evening Standard, wrote recently that the niqab was an affront and that Britain had been “too deferential.”

“It says that all men are such brutes that if exposed to any more normally clothed women, they cannot be trusted to behave — and that all women who dress any more scantily like that are indecent,” Mr. Sexton wrote. “It’s abusive, a walking rejection of all our freedoms.”

. . . Some who wear the niqab, particularly younger women who have taken it up recently, concede that it is a frontal expression of Islamic identity, which they have embraced since Sept. 11, 2001, as a form of rebellion against the policies of the Blair government in Iraq, and at home.

. . . Other Muslims find the practice objectionable, a step backward for a group that is under pressure after the terrorist attack on London’s transit system in July 2005.

“After the July 7 attacks, this is not the time to be antagonizing Britain by presenting Muslims as something sinister,” said Imran Ahmad, the author of “Unimagined,” an autobiography about growing up Muslim in Britain, and the leader of British Muslims for Secular Democracy. “The veil is so steeped in subjugation, I find it so offensive someone would want to create such barriers. It’s retrograde.”

Since South Asians started coming to Britain in large numbers in the 1960s, a small group of usually older, undereducated women have worn the niqab. It was most often seen as a sign of subjugation.

Many more Muslim women wear the head scarf, called the hijab, covering all or some of their hair. Unlike in France, Turkey and Tunisia, where students in state schools and civil servants are banned from covering their hair, in Britain, Muslim women can wear the head scarf, and indeed the niqab, almost anywhere, for now.

But that tolerance is slowly eroding. Even some who wear the niqab, like Faatema Mayata, a 24-year-old psychology and religious studies teacher, agreed there were limits.

“How can you teach when you are covering your face?” she said, sitting with a cup of tea in her living room in Blackburn, a northern English town, her niqab tucked away because she was within the confines of her home.

She has worn the niqab since she was 12, when she was sent by her parents to an all-girl boarding school. The niqab was not, as many Britons seemed to think, a sign of extremism, she said.

She condemned Britain’s involvement in Iraq, and she described the departure of Mr. Blair at the end of this month as “good riddance of bad rubbish.” But, she added, “there are many Muslims like this sitting at home having tea, and not taking any interest in jihad.”

The niqab, to her, is about identity. “If I dressed in a Western way I could be a Hindu, I could be anything,” she said. “This way I feel comfortable in my identity as a Muslim woman.”

No one else in her family wears the niqab. Her husband, Ibrahim Boodi, a social worker, was indifferent, she said. “If I took it off today, he wouldn’t care.”

. . . At the East London Mosque, one of the largest mosques in the capital, the chief imam, Abdul Qayyum, studied in Saudi Arabia and is trained in the Wahhabi school of Islam. The community relations officer at the mosque, Ehsan Abdullah Hannan, said the imam’s daughter wore the niqab.

At Friday Prayer recently, the women were crowded into a small windowless room upstairs, away from the main hall for the men.

A handful of young women wore the niqab, and they spoke effusively about their reasons. “Wearing the niqab means you will get a good grade and go to paradise,” said Hodo Muse, 19, a Somali woman. “Every day people are giving me dirty looks for wearing it, but when you wear something for God you get a boost.” . . .
Read the entire story here.


Krauthammer On Hamas & Fatah, Challenges & Bench Marks

Charles Krauthammer sees the challenges and opportunities in the clarification of Hamas Fatah scenario, as well as noting how Israel, with the hands on the controls of Gaza's water, gas and electricity has Hamas by its radical Islamic short hairs:

Gaza is now run not by a conventional political party but by a movement that is revolutionary, Islamist and terrorist. Worse, Hamas is a client of Iran. Gaza now constitutes the farthest reach of the archipelago of Iranian proxies: Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Mahdi Army (among others) in Iraq and the Alawite regime of Syria.

This Islamist mini-replica of the Comintern is at war not just with Israel but with the moderate Arab states, who finally woke up to this threat last summer when they denounced Hezbollah for provoking the Lebanon war with Israel. The fall of Gaza is particularly terrifying to Egypt because Hamas is so closely affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, the chief Islamist threat to the secular-nationalist regime that has ruled Egypt since the revolution of 1952. Which is why Egypt has just invited Israeli, Jordanian and moderate Palestinian leaders to a summit next week -- pointedly excluding and isolating Hamas.

The splitting of Palestine into two entities is nonetheless clarifying.

. . . The policy implications are obvious. There is nothing to do with the self-proclaimed radical Islamist entity that is Gaza but to isolate it. No recognition, no aid (except humanitarian necessities through the United Nations), no diplomatic commerce.

Israel now has the opportunity to establish deterrence against unremitting rocket attacks from Gaza into Israeli villages. Israel failed to do that after it evacuated Gaza in 2005, permitting the development of an unprecedented parasitism by willingly supplying food, water, electricity and gasoline to a territory that was actively waging hostilities against it.

With Hamas now clearly in charge, Israel should declare that it will tolerate no more rocket fire -- that the next Qassam will be answered with a cutoff of gasoline shipments. This should bring road traffic in Gaza to a halt within days and make it increasingly difficult to ferry around missiles and launchers.

If that fails to concentrate the mind, the next step should be to cut off electricity. When the world wails, Israel should ask, what other country on Earth is expected to supply the very means for a declared enemy to attack it?

Regarding the West Bank, policy should be equally clear. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas represents moderation and should be helped as he tries to demonstrate both authority and success in running his part of Palestine.

But let's remember who Abbas is. He appears well intentioned, but he is afflicted with near-disastrous weaknesses. He controls little. His troops in Gaza simply collapsed against the greatly outnumbered forces of Hamas. His authority in the West Bank is far from universal. He does not even control the various factions within Fatah.

But the greater liability is his character. He is weak and indecisive. . .

Moreover, his Fatah party is ideologically spent and widely discredited. Historian Michael Oren points out that the Palestinian Authority has received more per capita aid than did Europe under the Marshall Plan. This astonishing largess has disappeared into lavish villas for party bosses and guns for the multiple militias Arafat established.

The West is rushing to bolster Abbas. Israel will release hundreds of millions in tax revenue. The United States and the European Union will be pouring in aid. All praise Abbas as a cross between Anwar Sadat and Simón Bolívar. Fine. We have no choice but to support him. But before we give him the moon, we should insist upon reasonable benchmarks of both moderation and good governance -- exactly what we failed to do during the Oslo process. Abbas needs to demonstrate his ability to run a clean administration and to engage Israel in day-to-day negotiations to alleviate the conditions of life on the ground.

Abbas is not Hamas. But despite the geographical advantages, he does not represent the second coming, either. We can prop him up only so much. In the end, the only one who can make a success of the West Bank is Abbas himself. This is his chance. His last chance.
Read the entire story here. Finally, some benchmarks we can get behind. This sounds perfectly appropriate and far more sound then just opening the spigots. We may have to force Fatah to succeed as a nation - rather then subsidize opulence for its war lords. Perhaps, given their recent fate in Gaza, we may find Abbas and his gang a bit more willing this time.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Official Inquiries Into The Iran UK Hostage Crisis Leave Much To Be Desired

The Iran UK hostage crisis of several weeks ago marked a low point for Britain - and a lower one for the EU. All was compounded when, in the wake of crisis, Britain's Naval Office authorized the former hostages to sell their stories to the media, an act normally reserved for people who have committed acts of bravery sufficient to win the UK's highest award, the Victoria Cross. That authorization was soon rescinded in a firestorm of protest. As a result of all that transpired, the government commissioned two inquiries, one on the hostage taking, the other on selling stories to the media.

As a threshold matter, Britain was short one inquiry. Britain should have commissioned a third inquiry into the actions of the EU to assess at a minimum the state of Britain's security relationship to the EU in light of every member state's complete refusal to help Britain in the conflict with Iran. To so soon forget that act of craven, short-sighted greed by the EU, and then to sweep it under the rug, does a tremendous disservice to Britain and allows a wholly dysfunctional EU to continue business as usual. Neither is acceptable.

Leaving that glaring omission aside for the moment, the results of the other two inquiries are in.

The first of these two inquiries looked into responsibility for the situation which ultimately led to the kidnapping. This from the EU Referendum:

Lt General Rob Fulton - former Commandant of the Royal Marines – came very highly recommended, and those who have seen his full report on the Iran hostages incident retain their opinion of him.

His report concludes that the events of 23 March were the result not of a single failure or any particular individual's human error, but rather of an unfortunate accumulation of factors - many relatively small when viewed in isolation - but which together placed our personnel in a position that could be exploited through a deliberate act by an unpredictable foreign state.

The Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, adds to that, saying of the report:
…it does identify a number of weaknesses, including the coherence of strategic and operational direction within the coalition environment, the handling of intelligence, the development of doctrine and the conduct of training.
The authors of the EU Referendum blogspot find this acceptable. I have nothing but the highest regard for the authors of EU Referendum. The work that they do is absolutely first rate. But in this instance, I think that they are much in error. I do not believe that the public should accept the Fulton Report as presented for several reasons.

One, the entire report has been held classified and not subject to release. I find it hard to believe that, in light of an event of this magnitude, the bulk of the inquiry and the results thereof could not be made public. While security considerations must be given priority, this was a national travesty, and to wholly black out the entire report does not satisfy the government's duty to its people or its soldiers.

Two, it is hard for me to believe, in light of all the facts now in the public domain, that at a minimum the Commander of the HMS Cornwall or officers under his command did not fail in their duty. There is no circumstance, nor any snowballing set of of circumstances, that make up for a commander allowing his troops to operate outside of support. This is not good news for the British military.

To put this in perspective, twice now there has been a similar occurrence with the US military in Iraq. In the first instance, three soldiers of the 101st Abn were left without support to man a checkpoint. They were kidnapped and killed. The company commander and platoon leader were relieved of dury. There has not been any media reports regarding the more recent incident, where the chain of command placed a group of eight soldiers from the 10th Mtn Division in an overwatch position 45 minutes away from support. That incident, just a few weeks ago, resulted in the deaths of six with two still believed held by al Qaeda. I would bet my life's saving that the officers in the chain of command with responsiblity for that decision have been relieved. Fair or not, competent of not, putting soldiers in that position is unforgivable.

It is the duty of officers in wartime to forsee contingencies and shape circumstances, not to blithely use circumstances as an excuse for the failure of basic responsibilities. And an officer's most basic responsibility is to provide reasonable security for his or her troops. Putting troops out to conduct operations without sufficient security and/or out of range of support is a complete failure of that responsibility. That is not negotiable. That is not subject to amelioraton by an "accumulation of errors." Officers who have committed that sin should be relieved of command not merely because there is a queston of their competence, but more importantly to tell the soldiers and other officers that the military will not tolerate the loss of soldiers arising out of an officer's lack of foresight or aggressive leadership. Those latter reasons should not in any circumstance be underestimated. Britain's failure to hold any officers responsible for this travesty has to have some effect on the trust of troops for their commanders. In such circumstance allowing officers merely to have their discipline meted out in subtle ways below the radar, as suggested in the EU Referendum, is insufficient.

Three, the former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Alan West, said:
British rules of engagement were "very much de-escalatory, because we don't want wars starting ... Rather than roaring into action and sinking everything in sight we try to step back and that, of course, is why our chaps were, in effect, able to be captured and taken away."
And the current First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, suspended boarding operations after the kidnapping and then defended all of the actions of the crew both in surrendering without a fight and their less then military conduct while in captivity. These are the people who have risen to the top of Britain's military. And it wasn't all that long ago that General Sir Richard Dannatt, Britain's Chief of Staff, took it upon himself to give interviews wherein he urged that the British disengage from Iraq. I am sure all three of these officers have at least a fine a reputation as does LTG Fulton. But after all of the above mentioned revelations, you will excuse me if I remain cynical and somewhat less then trusting about the judgment of the current crop of senior British military leaders - at least in the absence of a redacted report. The public deserves such a report. Much more importantly, the soldiers in Britain's military deserve it.

The second inquiry, the Hall Report, was into how and when members of the military should be allowed to sell their stories to the media. The Hall Report's recommendation is wholly appropriate:
60. We . . . recommend that, for the future, serving personnel (both military and civilian) should not accept payments for talking to the media or the public about their work. There should be no exceptions to this rule. The acceptance of payments from the media offended the public and their view of the special place of the Armed Forces in British life. And it also ran contrary to what the Armed Forces believe they stand for: the team versus the individual, and selfless service on behalf of the nation. That the decision to accept payment caused such anger and concern was entirely understandable.
Interestingly, while the Hall Report annunciates an iron clad rule in this paragraph, they recognize very narrow categories of excpetions in succeeding paragraphs. Regardless, the exceptions seem well thought out. But, ominously, the Hall Report goes beyond the mandate to review when it is appropriate for a serving member of the military to talk with the media for payment and into regulation of all unpaid communications with the public or the media through blogs and the like:
67. Finally, as our report made clear at the beginning, the media environment has changed enormously since the Falklands War. It is changing again at a speed that is vertiginous. We have heard, in the course of our review, of cases where the release of information inadvertently led to risks to operations and individuals, and the proliferation of technology, and extension of media access to operations, set out above clearly means that the potential for further such cases is, if anything, increasing. For that reason, we think that urgent consideration needs to be given to policies dealing with the use of mobile phones, the video capacity of mobile phones, and the use of blogs, emails and social networking sites. We have been told that work in this area is already underway. Given the rise of the “citizen journalist”, the implications need to be thought through as a priority.
Lastly, while the government response in the wake of the Iran UK hostage taking has been been questionable, such is not the case with the response of the rank and file military. The Army's response to the performance of their brethern in the Navy and Marines has not only been apropriate, but melodious:
The government report into the captured British sailors has revealed that no-one is to blame and no disciplinary action will be taken!

That's not the verdict of the Army. Last month the Army played the Navy at football. They came prepared with their own special song.

To the tune of 'What shall we do with a drunken sailor'

What shall we do with the captured sailors?
What shall we do with the captured sailors?
What shall we do with the captured sailors?
Ear-lye in the morning

Ooh'ray and Faye is gopping (ed- 'gopping' apparently means 'ugly')
Ooh'ray and Faye is gopping
Ooh'ray and Faye is gopping
Ear-lye in the morning

Take away his ipod and make him blubber
Take away his ipod and make him blubber
Take away his ipod and make him blubber
Ear-lye in the morning

Put him in a suit and make him smile
Put him in a suit and make him smile
Put him in a suit and make him smile
Ear-lye in the morning

Give 'em forty grand and hear them snivel
Give 'em forty grand and hear them snivel
Give 'em forty grand and hear them snivel
Ear-lye in the morning

Give him an alcopop and watch him dribble
Give him an alcopop and watch him dribble
Give him an alcopop and watch him dribble
Ear-lye in the morning

Send the ugly bint right back to tehran
Send the ugly bint right back to tehran
Send the ugly bint right back to tehran
Ear-lye in the morning

Put them on the telly smoking ciggies
Put them on the telly smoking ciggies
Put them on the telly smoking ciggies
Ear-lye in the morning
Compliments of Pommygranate with a Hat Tip to Bill


Surge News: Fifth Day of the Massive Offensive Targeting Sadr & Al Qaeda

There is little that should cheer Americans more then the fact that we are finally on the offensive in Iraq. Operation Phantom Thunder is a Corps level offensive that is smaller only then the initial invasion of Iraq. We are taking the fight to the enemy, surrounding them, and eliminating them. In light of our internal politics, this offensive is indeed the start of the end game. It will reshape Iraq.

Yet I wonder if one person in a thousand is aware of the scope of this offensive and all of its ramifications. One certainly will not understand or know if relying solely on the MSM. Compare the Washington Post report of today with this article by Bill Roggio:

Phantom Thunder is a corps level operation, with multiple U.S. and Iraqi divisions engaged on multiple fronts. Iraqi Security Forces and Multinational Forces Iraq are engaged in intense fights in four main theaters: Baghdad proper, and the belts regions consisting of Diyala and southern Salahadin province to the north, northern Bail province to the south, and eastern Anbar province to the west of Baghdad. The fighting has been the most intense in the city of Baqubah, the provincial capital of Diyala.

. . . Operation Arrowhead Ripper

. . . Baqubah is the provincial capital of Diyala as well as al Qaeda's proclaimed capital of its rump Islamic State of Iraq. Hundreds, and upwards of 1,000 al Qaeda fighters are believed to be holed up in the city in prepared fighting positions. The city has been mined with IEDs and booby trapped homes, and seeded with snipers.

Michael Gordon reported troops moving into western Baqubah, where al Qaeda is holed up, found well prepared medical aid stations and field hospitals. . . Baqubah and greater Diyala province is al Qaeda country.

"At least 41 insurgents have been killed, five weapons caches have been discovered, 25 improvised explosive devices have been destroyed and five booby-trapped houses have been discovered and destroyed," Multinational Forces Iraq reported last evening.

The 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Infantry Division (3/2) appears to be shouldering the brunt of the combat. The soldiers from the 3/2 "killed 24-36 enemy fighters and detained nine," according to Mike Gilbert of the News Tribune. "They found and destroyed 16 other roadside bombs, four houses that had been rigged to explode, and two car bombs. They found two safe houses, destroyed what he described as a mobile weapons cache, and captured two other weapons caches, including 'a significant IED cache.'"

. . . U.S. and Iraqi troops are receiving valuable intelligence from the resident of Baqubah. "A positive indicator on the 19th and the 20th is that most local people apparently are happy that al Qaeda is being trapped and killed," Michael Yon noted. "Civilians are pointing out IEDs and enemy fighters, so that’s not working so well for al Qaeda."

While the reporting from the regions outside Baqubah is sparse, there are indications engagements are also ongoing in the Diyala River valley.

Operations Marne Torch and Commando Eagle

Multinational Division Central, the newly created command to deal with the southern Baghdad Belts, has two concurrent major operations ongoing in its area of operations. Marne Torch is focusing on the city and surrounding regions of Arab Jabour, which is southeast of Baghdad. Commando Eagle is focusing on the Mahmudiyah region southwest of Baghdad.

"To date, Marne Torch and Iraqi army units have detained more than five dozen suspected extremists and destroyed more than 17 boats on the Tigris River that are responsible for transporting accelerants into Baghdad," Multinational Forces Iraq reported in a press release. "U.S. forces killed five insurgents, discovered and destroyed 12 improvised explosive devices, and detained 13 wanted individuals."

Operation Commando Eagle began on June 21, and was described as a " mix of helicopter-borne air assaults and Humvee-mounted movements, included Soldiers from several battalions of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., and the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division."

The operation has yielded 29 suspected insurgents and numerous weapons caches, including one containing "75 CDs of propaganda and terror techniques instructing methods to commit kidnappings and to shoot down coalition helicopters."

The Mahmudiyah region contains the notorious "Triangle of Death," an area where al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents have established bases of operations to attack Baghdad and launch attacks on the Shia areas to the south. Three U.S. soldiers were captured in the region in mid May, and two of the soldiers are still missing.

Operation ??? in eastern Anbar

Multinational Forces West has yet to release the name of the ongoing operations in eastern Anbar province. But the scope of the operation in eastern Anbar is now clearer. In an Associated Press interview with Brigadier General John Allen, the deputy commander of Multinational Forces West, the hot spots in the province were identified.

Brig. Gen. Allen noted there are three main focal points: Fallujah, Karma and the Thar Thar region. The Fallujah piece includes moving into each of the 11 neighborhoods of the city and "establishing very quickly neighborhood watch organizations and a police precinct headquarters." . . .

The operation to secure the Fallujah neighborhoods is called Alljah. "The operation is similar to what another unit did in the city of Ramadi,” said Maj. George S. Benson, executive officer of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines “We’re capitalizing on the success of Ramadi and using many of the same techniques.”

Fallujah is expected to be fully secured by August. U.S. forces expect to clear Karma, the poisonous al Qaeda haven northeast of Fallujah, and the Thar Thar region by July. "We're going to clear Karma here very shortly," Brig Gen Allen told the Associated Press, as he described the town as a "way station" to and from Baghdad. "We're going to start churning up the ground north on the grounds of Thar Thar ... a spot where we haven't had forces before."

Captain Eric Coulson, a the commanding officer of a Army Engineer company in the Fallujah Ramadi corridor and author of Badgers Forward described the situation in eastern Anbar in an interview today. "Al Karma continues to be the most challenging area in Multinational Forces West's area of operations, followed by Zaidon. Karma is the one place we can be guaranteed to find IEDs every night."

Captain Coulson also noted the improved security situation in Fallujah and the Habbaniyah and Amiriyah regions. "Fallujah gets better by the day," he noted. "Most of the area west of the river seems to be stable. There are lots of tribes and Iraqi Police providing local security in the Habbaniyah and Amiriayh/Ferris areas. The truth is it is very quite."

Battling the Mahdi Army; raiding al Qaeda

As the major offensive is ongoing in the belts, the pressure is being kept up on Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army as well as al Qaeda's network throughout Iraq.

Iraqi Special Forces raided Sadr City and captured a “key insurgent leader” on June 20, along with two associates. “This individual is allegedly responsible for coordinating and conducting kidnappings, death squad killings and improvised explosive device attacks against innocent civilians and Iraqi and Coalition Forces,” noted Multinational Forces Iraq. “The primary suspect is allegedly responsible for supplying vehicles, identification materials, and uniforms to support insurgent activities such as the kidnappings and extra-judicial killing of Iraqi citizens. He is also alleged to have received new technologies to upgrade improvised explosive devices that would be used to target Iraqi and Coalition Forces.”

This comes as General David Petraeus announced that an “Iran-backed” secret cell of Mahdi Army was behind the kidnapping of five British civilians in Baghdad last May. “We think that it is the same network that killed our soldiers in Karbala in an operation back in January,” General Petraeus told The Times. “We killed the head of that network less than a week before the operation that detained those British civilians. It was already planned and carried out by his followers. It is a secret cell of Jaish al-Mahdi [al-Mahdi Army] not all of which are under control of Moqtada al-Sadr.” General Petraeus is referring to the Iranian backed Qazali Network, which the U.S. has been actively working to dismantle.

The operations against al Qaeda’s nationwide network also continue. Raids on Wednesday and Thursday in Mosul, Karma, Fallujah and “north of Baghdad” netted 11 al Qaeda. Coalition forces have positively identified an al Qaeda leader from the Karma region who was killed on June 17. “Hussayn Awath Hussayn Hawawi, also known as Abu Thabbit, was a Libyan foreign fighter with connections to the North African foreign fighter network and ties to al-Qaeda in Iraq… Intelligence reports indicate he moved at least 30 North African fighters into Iraq” after escaping during a prison break in Mosul in March. “Hawawi is also believed to be involved in suicide bombing operations, and his foreign fighters allegedly conducted a number of attacks on Coalition Forces in Anbar province in late May.”

The concurrent operations in the Baghdad Belts, combined with the effort to secure Baghdad and the Special Forces raids on al Qaeda’s network will place a great strain on the terror group if the momentum is carried through the summer. Iraqi and Coalition forces are striking hard in the heart of al Qaeda and Sunni insurgent havens in Diyala, Babil and Anbar while squeezing the terror groups in the capital and conducting intelligence driven raids to keep the enemy off balance.

Al Qaeda can chose to stand and fight, and may do so in some places. But will eventually attempt to flee the hot zones in central Iraq for safer grounds. This will push them further from Iraq’s center of gravity, while placing them at risk while attempting to reestablish their networks. Northwestern Iraq – Niwena, Salahadin and Kirkuk will be a likely destination, however some of the most experienced Iraqi Army units are operating in the region. Some of them are taking up blocking positions to prevent the infiltration of terrorists attempting to escape Operation Phantom Fury.
And do see Michael Yon's report from Baqubah:
Our guys are tough. The enemy in Baqubah is as good as any in Iraq, and better than most. That’s saying a lot. But our guys have been systematically trapping them, and have foiled some big traps set for our guys. I don’t want to say much more about that, but our guys are seriously outsmarting them. Big fights are ahead and we will take serious losses probably, but al Qaeda, unless they find a way to escape, are about to be slaughtered. Nobody is dropping leaflets asking them to surrender. Our guys want to kill them, and that’s the plan.

A positive indicator on the 19th and the 20th is that most local people apparently are happy that al Qaeda is being trapped and killed. Civilians are pointing out IEDs and enemy fighters, so that’s not working so well for al Qaeda. Clearly, I cannot do a census, but that says something about the locals.


Agenda Journalism: Dwelling on American Deaths & Enemy Successes

If you ran a newspaper and wanted to report objectively on the Iraq war, what formula would you follow? No doubt your headline would be about our main actions in the war zone that day. Your reporting would begin with our major activities, both the successes and failures of our units. As a part of reporting on these activities, you would make note of friendly casualties. We must never lose site of the sacrifice we are asking our soldiers to make as part of the war effort. We must acknowledge them and honor them.

But what if you wanted to push a particular agenda? What if you wanted to maintain only a facade of objectivity while doing your utomost to undercut support for the war in Iraq among Americans? How would you do it?

The answer of course is to place the greatest emphasis on the most negative news concerning the war. That would mean emphasizing news of enemy successes and friendly casualties over all else. It would mean reporting a butcher's bill as the headline and dwelling on that bill in the lead paragraphs every day. Enter the Washington Post Foreign Desk.

The Washington Post's Foreign Desk is not reporting the news objectively. They are shaping it in an effort to manipulate public opinion about the Iraq war. The formula that they follow is, by now, well established. Their daily headline on the news from Iraq announces the number of American or friendly casualties. Usually the majority of the story then dwells on these deaths. Only then, at the end of the article, is there any news about the activities of our military in Iraq. And even then, the news of our activities in Iraq and the successes we are having is more often then not incomplete and/or deliberately de-emphasized. In short, the Post is all about agenda journalism. They are making a transparent canard of their supposed journalistic objectivity. One need look no further then today's Washington Post reporting on Iraq to see the formula of agenda journalism in action:

At Least 14 U.S Soldiers Die in Attacks in Iraq
U.S. Forces Continue Efforts to Oust Insurgents From Diyala Province

By John Ward Anderson and Howard Schneider
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, June 21, 2007; 10:06 AM

BAGHDAD, June 21 -- Fourteen U.S. soldiers have died in scattered attacks in Iraq over the last two days, including five killed Thursday by a roadside bomb in a northeastern Baghdad neighborhood, the military said in a series of statements.

With a major U.S. effort to oust insurgents underway in Diyala province north of the Iraqi capital, a series of five attacks elsewhere claimed the lives of American soldiers on patrol in Baghdad, in the restive Al Anbar province, and southwest of the capital.

Few details were released. But the military said that the deadliest attack involved a unit working with the Iraqi Security Force to "clear and control" a section of northeastern Baghdad. Along with the five U.S. soldiers who were killed, three Iraqi civilians and one Iraqi interpreter died, and one other soldier and two Iraqi civilians were injured.

In other incidents, a U.S. soldier died and three were wounded when a rocket-propelled grenade struck their vehicle in northern Baghdad early this morning; four U.S. soldiers died yesterday when a roadside bomb detonated near a convoy in western Baghdad; two Marines were killed Wednesday during combat operations in Al Anbar province; and two other Marines died and four were injured by an explosive device near their vehicle southwest of Baghdad.

As part of a surge of some 28,500 additional troops into Iraq, U.S. forces have moved more deeply into Baghdad neighborhoods in an effort to flush out insurgents, and American officials have said that an increase in casualties was likely.

The series of attacks in the last two days occurred away from the scene of a major U.S. offensive unfolding north of Baghdad, where U.S. and Iraqi forces are attempting to stamp out the Sunni extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq from the city of Baqubah. . . .
Only after dwelling on the casualties does the Washington Post get to the news from the Iraq War. In all fairness to the Post, this is one of the rare articles when the Post actually fleshes out the activities of our forces in Iraq:
About 10,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops are participating in the new offensive, called Arrowhead Ripper, which began early Tuesday in Diyala, a mixed Sunni-Shiite-Kurdish province north and east of Baghdad that, in recent months, has become a stronghold of al-Qaeda in Iraq and the most violent area in the country outside of the capital. Forty-one insurgents and one American soldier were killed in two days of fighting, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

"We have found three warehouses and factories where car bombs cars were built, as well as large stashes of TNT and mortar rounds used to make" roadside bombs, said Mohammed al-Askari, an Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman. "We also found the swords that they used to slaughter people in their so-called courts, in addition to sniper rifles and silencers."

The U.S. military said in a statement that five weapons caches had been found and that 25 roadside bombs and five booby-trapped houses had been discovered and destroyed.

A U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Col. Christopher C. Garver, said the military was investigating the mistaken bombing of a house in the Khatoon neighborhood of Baqubah on Wednesday. The incident occurred when soldiers decided to destroy a heavily booby-trapped residence with an aircraft bomb, but the bomb hit the wrong house, Garver said. He said it was unknown whether there were any casualties in the strike. Later, a helicopter destroyed the targeted house with a Hellfire missile, and there were large secondary explosions, Garver said.

Askari said that the offensive "has developed greatly" and that U.S.-led forces were starting a "second phase by surrounding and isolating the areas in which the terrorists are located."

The U.S. military has been sharply criticized -- particularly from within its own ranks -- for earlier offensives against al-Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni insurgents that allowed them to slip away and regroup in other areas. As soon as U.S. forces withdrew, the insurgents typically returned.

This time, military planners are trying to avoid that outcome by drawing a tight ring around Baqubah that locks insurgents inside, where they can be captured or killed. The challenge was illustrated Tuesday by the capture of six uninjured men who were trying to escape from Baqubah in an Iraqi ambulance, the U.S. military said in a statement.

Commanders "said we need to cordon off the city and control access in and out, which is what we did yesterday morning, and now we are very deliberately doing house-to-house clearing," said Capt. Jon Korneliussen, a U.S. military spokesman. "Many houses were wired with explosives."

. . . Sunni fighters from a variety of insurgent groups that have fought U.S. forces in the past -- including the Islamic Army and the 1920 Revolution Brigades -- were now working closely with U.S. and Iraqi forces in the offensive, helping them identify al-Qaeda in Iraq members and facilities. The fighters, operating under an umbrella group called the United Jihad Factions Council, have been issued special insignias to distinguish them from al-Qaeda in Iraq members, he said. . . .


Liberal Bias In The Media?

Who would have thought it?
Is anyone surprised by the fact that journalists give money to liberals and the far left at a rate nine to every one journalist who gives to a republican or conservative cause: identified 144 journalists who made political contributions from 2004 through the start of the 2008 campaign, according to the public records of the Federal Election Commission. Most of the newsroom checkbooks leaned to the left: 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes. Only 17 gave to Republicans. Two gave to both parties.
Read the entire story here.


Dem Hypocrisy & The Employee Free Choice Act

I have blogged on The Employee Free Choice Act several times (see here, here, here, here, and here), noting that it is a horrendous bill that would strip American workers of their most basic of democratic rights - the right to a secret ballot. I have also noted that the Democratic party is behind this bill in toto, including each of the Democratic presidential hopefuls. Their hypocrisy in supporting this legislation is breathtaking.

George Will has added to the arguments against the Employee Free Choice Act today with some some interesting facts that you won't find on Clinton's or Obama's website:

. . . [On Tuesday,] unions were demonstrating in support of legislation with the Orwellian title ``Employee Free Choice Act.'' It would deny employees the choice of a secret ballot when voting on unionization of their workplace. Instead, union organizers would use the ``card check'' system, which allows them to pick the voters they want: Once a majority of workers -- exposed one at a time to face-to-face pressure from union organizers -- sign a union card, the union is automatically certified as the bargaining agent for all the workers.

The Supreme Court has said that the card-check system is ``admittedly inferior to the election process.'' Hillary Clinton, who has given herself a makeover as a moderate, and who was elected by secret ballots, and who hopes that next year voters will use their secret ballots to give to her the power to nominate Supreme Court justices, nevertheless toes labor's line when she advocates abolishing workers' right to a secret ballot. Abolition, she says, will ``create a fair and level playing field between workers and employers.''

When in March the House passed card-check legislation for unpersuasive unions, a principal sponsor was George Miller, D-Calif., who in 2001 wrote, with 15 colleagues, to Mexican officials, on behalf of the rights of Mexican workers, insisting ``that the secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose.'' . .
Read the entire story here. The hypocrisy of Democrats and their willingness to injure workers and sacrifice the economy to payback Big Labour is horrendous. How any but the unhinged far left, anti-capitalist socialists and comunists, and the irredeemably gullible can vote for these people is beyond me.


Bringing Dems & The Far Left Together Results In Clarity

There is a certain kind of symbiosis that occurs when the far left, steeped in narcissim and wholly unmoored from reality, meets with the senior Democratic leadership who are cynically using the far left and being used by them. Gone is talk of the surge, or any pretense that it matters a wit. Gone is the pretext that our generals might be incompent or less then honest. Gone is the fiction that Iraq is in a civil war. Gone is talk of succeeding in Iraq and leaving it with a stable government. Gone is talk of our national interests or national security. Gone is talk of "supporting the troops" who are fighting and dying in Iraq. Gone is any consideration of the costs of surrendering in Iraq. Gone, in short, is all the spin and prevarication.

What is left from this symbiosis is the pure and unadulterated truth. The far left believe that the '06 election was their victory alone. The far left want their agenda to control the Democratic Party. The far left want nothing less then the complete repudiation of any policies dealing with conservatives or George Bush. The far left wants an immediate end to the war with no consideration of the cost. The far left wants us out of Iraq whether we are succeeding or not. And the Democratic leadership has bought in - they are part and parcel of the far left in America today. Observe the symbiosis in action:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) yesterday reaffirmed her commitment to end the war in Iraq, but her words were greeted with skepticism and some boos by anti-war liberal activists.

Addressing the liberal pressure group Campaign for America’s Future, Pelosi called the war in Iraq a “tragedy” and a “grotesque mistake,” but her words elicited catcalls for her to do more.

. . . The Democratic-led Congress has taken a pounding in recent opinion polls, with many Democratic voters unhappy that lawmakers have not been able to change President Bush’s policies in Iraq. Noting that Bush vetoed legislation setting a timeline for withdrawal last month, Pelosi explained to the audience why the Democrats cannot enact stringent benchmarks or set a date to begin withdrawing U.S. troops.

“We don’t have 60 votes in the Senate or the president’s signature … those are facts and obstacles,” Pelosi said.

“Those are facts, those are obstacles; we have to overcome them and we cannot wait until November 2008 to do so,” she added. “Your impatience with the war is totally justified.”

But she did not offer details about how House Democrats might use the 2008 House defense appropriations bill to force Bush’s hand to end the U.S. commitment to Iraq. Some Democrats have discussed two measures, introduced by Reps. David Price (D-N.C.) and Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), respectively, which would revoke Bush’s authority to wage war in Iraq.

Even Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a leading anti-war Democrat and close Pelosi ally, did not escape the taunting as he introduced Pelosi.

“She’s worked tirelessly to end” this war, Murtha said.

“No she hasn’t,” shouted a woman in the crowd.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) acknowledged the same political landscape last week.

“We raised the bar too high. [The public] thought we could continue to send the bill back to the president — with 49 [guaranteed] votes, we couldn’t do that,” he said.

Reid announced last week that there would be votes on amendments to the defense spending bill that would withdraw troops within 120 days of passage, set strong troop readiness standards, and block spending on a future military presence in Iraq after April 2008.

Speaking before Pelosi, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) troubles with the anti-war left were also on display, as her Iraq talking points were met with boos for the second year in a row.

Despite boasting of her vote against the most recent Iraq supplemental spending bill, Clinton was still hit by anti-war groups, including the persistent members of Code Pink.

Shouts of “Get us out” and “Stop the war” were audible throughout Clinton’s remarks, but the part of her speech devoted to the war sparked widespread boos that eventually yielded to an outbreak of cheers and support from Clinton’s supporters in the room.

“I see the signs [that read] ‘Get us out of Iraq now,’” Clinton said. “That is what we are trying to do.”

A number of those attending said they were undecided on the 2008 race, but several of those interviewed by The Hill said they could not vote for Clinton because of her war record.

“I thought it was the same old, same old,” Carol Dragone, of Virginia Beach, Va., said of Clinton’s speech. “I don’t know how you can change so quick.”

Dragone and others said Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) seemed insincere in their denunciation of the war, particularly after casting several votes to continue funding. . .
Read the story here.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fred on the Employee Free Choice Act

There is a particularly odious bit of anti-democratic, anti-business legislation making its way through the Congress. The Orwellian named legislation is called the Employee Free Choice Act. It is anything but. It is legislation that would do away with the most fundemental democratic right of all Americans, a secret ballot, in the context of choosing whether to unionize. It is a gold engraved invitation to invidious intimidation and coercion by unions. Yet the Democrats are quite willing to impose this system on American employees. And it is no secret why. The Democrats care far more about the money that they can raise from unions then they care either about employees, businesses, or the drain on the economy that many unions in fact are today.

As the NYT reported today:

Senate Democratic leaders moved Tuesday to force a vote on organized labor’s top legislative priority, a bill that would make it far easier to organize workers. . .

The bill, already approved by the House but facing the threat of a veto by the Bush administration, would give employees at a workplace the right to unionize as soon as a majority signed cards saying they wanted to do so. Under current law, an employer can insist on a secret-ballot election, even after a majority sign.

Union leaders see enactment of the bill as the single most important step toward reversing labor’s long-term loss of membership and might. Virtually all Democrats in Congress are backing the legislation, partly because they recognize that a stronger labor movement, providing campaign contributions and volunteers, could translate into a stronger Democratic Party.

Business groups have mounted a big fight against the bill, with one organization, the Center for Union Facts, spending $500,000 on newspaper and broadcast advertisements this week alone.

. . . John J. Sweeney, [a union] president, expressed confidence that the bill would fare better if a Democrat won the White House next year. “This is really about 2009,” Mr. Sweeney said. “But it’s important that we show the country that we have majority support.” . .
Read the NYT article here. Although the Times, fails to tell us, Big Labor held a demonstration today, bussing in a crowd of people to support this economic time bomb. Hillary and the other Democratic presidential hopefuls were there to establish their bona fides as Big Labour supporters, but the man leading the charge was Teddy Kennedy - possibly the most destructive influence in American politics over the past half century other then Jimmy Carter:
Big Labor bussed thousands of activists to Capitol Hill Tuesday to lobby for the Employee Free Choice Act—an act union leaders have called their top legislative priority for the 110th Congress.

Event organizers claimed they brought 2,000 participants on 62 busses from the Campaign for America’s Future’s “Take Back America” conference to the Upper Senate Park.

There, a parade of Democratic congressmen and senators delivered hard-line progressive rhetoric to their pro-union advocates.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D.-Mass.) furiously ripped up a full-page advertisement sponsored by the Center for Union Facts that was published that morning in the New York Times, USA Today and Roll Call.

The Center for Union Facts opposes the act, and their advertisement featured a large quotation: “There’s no reason to subject the workers to an election.” This quotation appeared with the question, “Who said it?” and displays photos of the former President of Uganda Idi Amin, President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and President of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees Bruce Raynor.

Kennedy held the advertisement high and said, “Here is that advertisement! They say there is no reason to subject the workers to elections. [It asks,] 'Who said it?' And then it says union bosses are pressuring the Senate to change the rules on union organizing. Learn about their scheme to eliminate workers’ right to a secret ballot at Union This is what I say to that!”

At that point Kennedy tore the advertisement into shreds-- an act that drew wild applause from the crowd.

Small print at the bottom of the Center for Union Facts’ ad reveals the quotation came from Raynor. The quotation was published in a May 31, 2003 article by the New York Times titled “Labor Turns to a Pivotal Organizing Drive.”
Read the full article here. Ted Kennedy is the low mark of the American electoral system. But while he and all other Democrats hypocritically support this bill, Fred Thompson does not. And in his usual clear prose, Fred tells us why:
There was a time in America when local governments and employers could take advantage of powerless workers. Unions formed as a result. Nowadays, government generally sides with, instead of against, unions. The single biggest advantage unions have, of course, is collective bargaining rights – the right to negotiate for whole groups of employees.

Even with these advantages, however, unions have been losing membership in every sector but government -- which is another story. In the last 25 or so years, private sector union membership has dropped from about 19 percent to under 8 percent today. Most decertification votes, giving workers the chance to end union representation, go against the unions.

One reason unions have alienated potential members is that they often focus on politics instead of supporting their members. Last week, in fact, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against a Washington state teachers union that had been spending dues on political activities -- against the wishes of individual teachers. Some of those who protested the use of the funds weren't even union members but had to pay to keep their teachers' jobs.

This week, though, the unions are going to try something that could reverse their long decline. The Senate will vote on a measure the House has already passed that would do away with secret ballots on votes to unionize. This would allow union officials to visit individual workers separately to persuade them to sign a card in favor of the union. Given the rather colorful history of some labor unions, it’s not hard to understand why so many people think this is a very bad idea.

Nevertheless, the current congress may in fact pass it. Unions give a lot of their members'-- and nonmembers'-- dues to political candidates, and they're really good at providing free labor to campaigns. So they have a lot of influence in certain parts of congress. That may explain, for example, why the House Appropriations Committee is apparently planning to cut the budget of the Office of Labor Management Services -- the office that investigates illegalities by unions.

Let me restate the obvious. In America, we need the right to join a union. We also need the right not to join a union.
Read the entire article here.


Hamas & A (Pea)Nut Case

Former President and North Georgia peanut farmer James Earl Carter is in the news today. Other then announcing the building of another house by Habitat For Humanity, Jimmy Carter in the news is rarely if ever a good thing - either for America specifically or the forces of civilization more generally. And Carter today is true to disastrous form, in the news giving his full support to yet another terrorist group in the Middle East. Today he is pontificating as to why the West should support Hamas rather then take a golden opportunity to isolate Hamas and throw the West's support behind elements that might actually lead to peace with Israel. Carter, like a particularly bad train wreck, demands attention out of sheer horrified curiosity.

Former President Jimmy Carter accused the U.S., Israel and the European Union on Tuesday of seeking to divide the Palestinian people by reopening aid to President Mahmoud Abbas' new government in the West Bank while denying the same to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who was addressing a human rights conference in Ireland, also said the Bush administration's refusal to accept Hamas' 2006 election victory was ''criminal.''

Carter said Hamas, besides winning a fair and democratic mandate that should have entitled it to lead the Palestinian government, had proven itself to be far more organized in its political and military showdowns with Abbas' moderate Fatah movement.

. . . Carter said the consensus of the U.S., Israel and the EU to start funneling aid to Abbas' new government in the West Bank but continue blocking Hamas in the Gaza Strip represented an ''effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples.''

''All efforts of the international community should be to reconcile the two, but there's no effort from the outside to bring the two together,'' he said.

The U.S. and European countries cut off the Hamas-led government last year because of the Islamic militant group's refusal to renounce violence and recognize Israel. They have continued to send humanitarian aid to Gaza through the United Nations and other organizations.

In the latest crisis, the U.S., Israel and much of the West have been trying to shore up Abbas in hopes that the West Bank can be made into a democratic example that would bring along Gaza.

During his speech to Ireland's annual Forum on Human Rights, the 83-year-old former president said monitors from his Carter Center observed the 2006 election that Hamas won. He said the vote was ''orderly and fair'' . . .

. . . Carter said the U.S. and Israel, with European Union acquiescence, sought to subvert the outcome by shunning Hamas and helping Abbas to keep the reins of political and military power.

''That action was criminal,'' he said in a news conference after his speech.

''The United States and Israel decided to punish all the people in Palestine and did everything they could to deter a compromise between Hamas and Fatah,'' he said.
Read the entire story here.

Just a couple of things. One, no entity has a "right" to foreign aid. Witholding foreign aid is not a punishment. We have every right to pick and choose to whom we give foreign aid and to tie it into the goals of our country. Two, the fact that Hamas regularly practices terrorism does not seem to bother Carter, though it bothers most of the rest of the civilized world. Three, Hamas has spent the past few days in an orgy of bloodlust and anarchy, murdering people in the street in front of their families. And Hamas has announced that they intend to impose Sharia law on a populace that has never voted for that. Do we want to do anything to support such people? Four, Hamas is dedicated not to peace, but to the descruction of Israel. Just how is promoting Hamas going to lead to a greater chance for peace? And lastly, Germany voted for Hitler in the 30's. Should we have supported him and Germany strictly for that reason?

To put Carter's support for Hamas in perspective, one must understand that the peanut farmer is a utopian liberal who has never evinced a firm grip on reality. Indeed, Carter's Presidential legacy is his role in lighting the match that turned radical Islam from the small pile of dry kindling that it was in the 70's into the conflagration that we face now. Please read this from today's Jerusalem Post:
We just don't get it. The Left in America is screaming to high heaven that the mess we are in in Iraq and the war on terrorism has been caused by the right-wing and that George W. Bush, the so-called "dim-witted cowboy," has created the entire mess.

The truth is the entire nightmare can be traced back to the liberal democratic policies of the leftist Jimmy Carter, who created a firestorm that destabilized our greatest ally in the Muslim world, the shah of Iran, in favor of a religious fanatic, the ayatollah Khomeini.

Carter viewed Khomeini as more of a religious holy man in a grassroots revolution than a founding father of modern terrorism. Carter's ambassador to the UN, Andrew Young, said "Khomeini will eventually be hailed as a saint." Carter's Iranian ambassador, William Sullivan, said, "Khomeini is a Gandhi-like figure." Carter adviser James Bill proclaimed in a Newsweek interview on February 12, 1979 that Khomeini was not a mad mujahid, but a man of "impeccable integrity and honesty."

The shah was terrified of Carter. He told his personal confidant, "Who knows what sort of calamity he [Carter] may unleash on the world?"

Let's look at the results of Carter's misguided liberal policies: the Islamic Revolution in Iran; the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (Carter's response was to boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympics); the birth of Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization; the Iran-Iraq War, which cost the lives of millions dead and wounded; and yes, the present war on terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

WHEN CARTER entered the political fray in 1976, America was still riding the liberal wave of anti-Vietnam War emotion. Carter asked for an in-depth report on Iran even before he assumed the reins of government and was persuaded that the shah was not fit to rule Iran. 1976 was a banner year for pacifism: Carter was elected president, Bill Clinton became attorney-general of Arkansas, and Albert Gore won a place in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

In his anti-war pacifism, Carter never got it that Khomeini, a cleric exiled to Najaf in Iraq from 1965-1978, was preparing Iran for revolution. Proclaiming "the West killed God and wants us to bury him," Khomeini's weapon of choice was not the sword but the media. Using tape cassettes smuggled by Iranian pilgrims returning from the holy city of Najaf, he fueled disdain for what he called gharbzadegi ("the plague of Western culture").

Carter pressured the shah to make what he termed human rights concessions by releasing political prisoners and relaxing press censorship. Khomeini could never have succeeded without Carter. The Islamic Revolution would have been stillborn.

Gen. Robert Huyser, Carter's military liaison to Iran, once told me in tears: "The president could have publicly condemned Khomeini and even kidnapped him and then bartered for an exchange with the [American Embassy] hostages, but the president was indignant. 'One cannot do that to a holy man,' he said."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has donned the mantle of Ayatollah Khomeini, taken up bin Laden's call, and is fostering an Islamic apocalyptic revolution in Iraq with the intent of taking over the Middle East and the world.

Jimmy Carter became the poster boy for the ideological revolution of the 1960s in the West, hell bent on killing the soul of America. The bottom line: Carter believed then and still does now is that evil really does not exist; people are basically good; America should embrace the perpetrators and castigate the victims.

IN THE '60S it was mass rebellion after the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. When humanity confronts eternity, the response is always rebellion or repentance. The same ideologues who fought to destroy the soul of America with the "God is dead" movement in the 1960s are now running the arts, the universities, the media, the State Department, Congress, and Senate, determined more then ever to kill the soul of America while the East attempts to kill the body. Carter's world view defines the core ideology of the Democratic Party.

What is going on in Iraq is no mystery to those of us who have had our fingers on the pulse of both Iran and Iraq for decades. The Iran-Iraq war was a war of ideologies. Saddam Hussein saw himself as an Arab leader who would defeat the non-Arab Persians. Khomeini saw it as an opportunity to export his Islamic Revolution across the borders to the Shi'ites in Iraq and then beyond to the Arab countries.

Throughout the war both leaders did everything possible to incite the inhabitants of each country to rebel - precisely what Iran is doing in Iraq today. Khomeini encouraged the Shi'ites across the border to remove Saddam from power and establish an Islamic republic like in Iran.

Carter's belief that every crisis can be resolved with diplomacy - and nothing but diplomacy - now permeates the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, Carter is wrong.

There are times when evil must be openly confronted and defeated.

KHOMEINI HAD the help of the PLO in Iran. They supplied weapons and terrorists to murder Iranians and incite mobs in the streets. No wonder Yasser Arafat was hailed as a friend of Khomeini after he seized control of Iran and was given the Israeli Embassy in Teheran with the PLO flag flying overhead.

The Carter administration scrambled to assure the new regime that the United States would maintain diplomatic ties with Iran. But on April 1, 1979 the greatest April Fools' joke of all time was played, as Khomeini proclaimed it the first day of the government of God.

In February 1979 Khomeini had boarded an Air France flight to return to Teheran with the blessing of Jimmy Carter. The moment he arrived, he proclaimed: "I will kick his teeth in" - referring to then prime minister Shapour Bakhtiar, who was left in power with a US pledge of support. He was assassinated in Paris by Iranian agents in 1991.

I sat in the home of Gen. Huyser, who told me the shah feared he would lose the country if he implemented Carter's polices. Carter had no desire to see the shah remain in power. He really believed that a cleric - whose Islamist fanaticism he did not understand in the least - would be better for human rights and Iran.

He could have changed history by condemning Khomeini and getting the support of our allies to keep him out of Iran.
Read the entire story here. Some people are born to be great leaders. Others are born to be peanut farmers. I think it safe to say, at this point, that membership in one group wholly precludes membership in the other.


Fred's Remarks to the Brits

This is a partial transcript of Fred Thompson's wide ranging remarks to a meeting the Policy Exchange in London yesterday. Fred's topics are the relationship between Britain and America, our shared goals, the need to be proactive in shaping events, and the perfidy of Europe in light of threats against whom Britain and the US are shouldering the lion's share of the burden. As always, Fred is hitting all the right notes and not pulling punches:

. . . congratulate Mr. Brown, and I wish him well as the 53rd prime minister of the United Kingdom. And if you’ll allow me a word about the 52nd … we’ll miss him. There are disputes of party here that are strictly British affairs. But sometimes the better points of statesmen possibly are seen more clearly at a distance.

We are profoundly grateful for the friendship of the British people, and in America we’ll always remember Mr. Blair as a gallant friend, even when it did him no good politically.

When we in the States take the measure of your leaders, their party affiliation doesn’t really count for a whole lot. It’s been this way for a while now, at every moment when it mattered. It was true in the days of Churchill and Roosevelt … of Thatcher and Reagan … and Blair and Bush.

Differences of party and domestic policy are incidental, compared to the bigger considerations that define Britain and America as allies. On both sides of the Atlantic, what matters most are the commitments we share, and the work we are called to do in common. This work is based upon the principles we hold – primarily, the right of free people to govern themselves. We also believe that the rule of law, market economies, property rights, and trade with other nations are the underpinnings of a free society.

When historians of the modern era speak of the great democracies, of civilization and its defenders, that’s us they’re talking about – we and our democratic friends across Europe and beyond.

In the long progress of the world toward liberty, it was not by chance that this lowly province of the Roman Empire became a great teacher of democracy and the model of self-government. And it wasn’t just luck that turned a troublesome British colony into the inspiration for all those who seek freedom. There is a reason why Britain and America were thrown together as partners in this world. The things that unite the American and British peoples? They don’t change with the names of leaders or with the passing of years.

It was Harold MacMillan who best summed up the shared experiences of British and American leaders in the last century. In his later years, Lord Stockton was asked what he considered the greatest challenge in all his years as a statesman. And in that English way, he put it in a word: “Events, my dear boy, events.”

Events often have a way of intruding upon the plans of free people. As a rule, people in democratic societies prefer to take care of the business of life. They raise families. They work and they trade. They create wealth and they share it. Above all in free societies, we live by the law – and, at our best, we look after one another, too. Yet in every generation, “events” can be counted on to change the plan, sometimes in tragic ways.

Often the cause of our grief is a misplaced trust in the good intentions of others. In our dealings with other nations, people in free countries are not the type to go looking for trouble. We tend to extend our good will to other nations, assuming that it will be returned in kind. No matter how clear the signals, sometimes in history even the best of men failed to act in time to prevent the worst from happening.

The United States and the United Kingdom have learned this lesson both ways – in great evils ignored, and in great evils averted. We learned it from a World War that happened and, in the decades afterward, from the World War that didn’t happen.

We must conclude that the greatest test of leadership – in your country or mine, in this time or any other – can be simply stated. We must shape events, and not be left at their mercy. And in all things, to protect ourselves and to assure the peace, the great democracies of the world must stick together. We must be willing to make tough decisions today in order to avert bigger problems tomorrow. We must be prepared to meet threats before threats become tragedies.

These are not considerations relevant only to the people of Great Britain and the United States. The relationship between the United States and all of Europe is valued by both sides and has benefited the world. NATO has not only been an effective tool for our efforts, it symbolizes our commonality.

Changes in leadership on both sides of the Atlantic will give us new opportunities. Often in the history of nations, leaders rise to meet the times. These times require those with the wisdom and courage to see past the next election cycle.

The United States and our European allies must begin to forge a new understanding that matches the times we live in. This must be an understanding based upon candor if we are to come closer to agreement as to the nature of the challenges we face.

I have great hope for such a new understanding among NATO allies. We would never want to look back on a campaign we’d undertaken to realize we’d fallen short for lack of commitment or material support. Today our enemies do not doubt our military strength. They do question our determination. Our efforts will require ongoing dialogue based upon mutual respect and mutual interests.

For many Americans, there is a concern that even among our friends, some people are instinctively uncomfortable with U.S. power. Some on the Continent speak of the need for Europe to balance U.S. influence. Americans worry that this sentiment could, over time, lead to an uncoupling of the alliance. And if constraining U.S. power is that important, would our European friends be comfortable with other powers serving as a counterweight to the United States?

Some who seek to check U.S. power believe that legitimacy may only be conferred by international consensus as represented by the UN Security Council. They ask, “If a country can invade another nation for its own good reasons, what is the logical stopping point?”

The American response is to ask how, then, does one justify non-Security-Council-sanctioned actions, such as Kosovo? What are nations allowed to do when the UN cannot muster the political will to act? How many countries must be involved in an action before legitimacy is conferred? Is it just European countries that count? And, how do we deal with problems in concert when many of us don’t agree on the extent or nature of the problem?

For our part, we in the United States must make a better case for our views and our actions. It is possible that things that are perfectly obvious to us may not be so obvious even to those who wish us well. We must be willing to listen and we must be willing to share our intelligence to the maximum extent appropriate.

We must be prepared to make our case not just privately, but to the people of Europe and the world in order to build political support for cooperation. The world is not stronger if America is weaker – or is perceived to be weaker. The same is true of Britain and truer still of our NATO alliance. And we must be capable of making that case.

In return, it is fair to expect that our allies will not put their trade and commercial interests above world security. It is also fair to ask that Europeans consider the consequences if they are wrong about the threat to the Western world.

Many in Europe simply have a different view from that of the United States as to the threat of radical Islamic fundamentalism. They think that the threat is overblown. That despite September 11th, and July 7th and other attacks in Europe and elsewhere, America is the main target and therefore the problem is basically an American one. The fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq at a particular point in time resolves the matter for them. Also, they see no meaningful connection between terrorist groups and countries like Iran.

Admittedly, even some in America think that the threat is overblown, and that if we had not gone into Iraq, we’d have no terrorism problem.

However, most Americans feel differently. We understand that the Western world is in an international struggle with jihadists who see this struggle as part of a conflict that has gone on for centuries, and who won’t give up until Western countries are brought to their knees. I agree with this view. I believe that the forces of civilization must work together with common purpose to defeat the terrorists who for their own twisted purposes have murdered thousands, and who are trying to acquire technology to murder millions more.

When terrorists in their video performances pledge more and bigger attacks to come, against targets in both Europe and America, these are not to be shrugged off as idle boasts. They must be taken at their word.

When the president of Iran shares his nightmare visions before cheering crowds, those are not just the fanatic’s version of an empty applause line. The only safe assumption is that he means it. If we know anything from modern history, it is that when fanatical tyrants pledge to “wipe out” an entire nation, we should listen. We must gather our alliance, and do all in our power to make sure that such men do not gain the capability to carry out their evil ambitions.

Of course, diplomacy is always to be preferred in our dealings with dangerous regimes. But I believe diplomacy, as Franklin Roosevelt put it, is more than “note writing.” The words of our leaders command much closer attention from adversaries when it is understood that we and our allies are prepared to use force when force is necessary.

The campaign in Afghanistan is a prime example of this, both as a largely successful effort against a terrorist state and as a logical extension of the mission of NATO, which now reaches far beyond the boundaries of Europe.

As in Iraq, the effort has involved great sacrifice from the brave sons and daughters of Britain. By their valor, and by the sustained action of NATO in Afghanistan, we have shown our seriousness of purpose against terrorism … an ability to move beyond the military models of Cold War days … and a capacity to shift tactics and technology to fight an enemy who defends no state and observes no code.

Even in the midst of all the divisiveness with regard to our actions in Iraq, the United States, Great Britain and our coalition should be proud of what we have averted. Imagine Saddam Hussein and his murderous sons in power today successfully defying the international community and free to pursue weapons programs.

Of course political realism is back in the ascendancy since the difficulties in Iraq. It’s true that we have learned that geography, history, and ethnicity are important factors to consider in making decisions regarding today’s enemies.

We’ve also been reminded of the importance of preparation, of alliances, and the continuing support of our people.

But that does not change the fact that we sometimes must address events in far-away places that endanger our people. Or that we believe in universal values that do not allow us to ignore wholesale human suffering.

Realism? Yes. But also idealism, which is what makes us different from our enemies.

We should also remember that beyond the War on Terror, there are other threats we must meet together that extend well into the future. One way or another, the challenges we face today will recede. Other challenges to our shared interests and security have not been waiting patiently in line for our attention.

Some cannot yet be seen, but it is obvious that our energy needs for example are not going away. Disruptions in energy supplies, sharp price increases and thuggish behavior by energy suppliers are threats to all democracies with growing economies. Also, rapid military build-ups by non-democratic nations should be of concern.

More and more, if things go wrong in disputes that were once considered just regional problems, there will be no “over there” or “over here.” We’ll all be affected. Globalization is not limited to economic matters. As we go through these perilous times, we must keep firmly in mind the things that bind us together, not disagreements.

We’ve been through a lot together, our two nations – and not just in the storied exploits of our parents’ generation. Though there are many moments in British political history from which leaders today can take instruction, there is one in particular that I’ve always admired in the career of Sir Winston Churchill.

It was when Neville Chamberlain died in November 1940. In memorializing in the House of Commons his longtime adversary, Churchill pronounced the bitter controversies put to rest. He said, quote, “History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days.”

In the end, he reflected, “The only guide to a man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions.” We are “so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honour.”

Maybe it’s the actor in me that admires this scene so much. It’s a moment that no script-writer could improve upon. I am struck by its spirit, the magnanimity and generosity of the man … the willingness to let old arguments go, and move on to great objectives held in common.

We in this alliance have had our own share of hopes mocked and plans upset. And now it is time to shake off the disappointments, to let go of controversies past, and to press on together toward the great objectives. To ensure security for our people. To be a force for stability in the world. To remain the stalwart friends of freedom.

For our part, we in the United States have never had occasion to doubt the fortitude and faithfulness of the British people. As much as ever, we count ourselves lucky to call the United Kingdom our closest ally, and we are proud to call you our finest friend.
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