Saturday, August 4, 2007

Business Leaders meet to help Iraqi Banking System get back on track

By Maj. Sean Ryan 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs

Dr. Muhammad, (left), Karadah District council leader speaks with Kathryn Herhusky, the business and finance advisor, and Lt. Col. Dean Dunham, the deputy commander, both from the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, at a banking forum in the Karadah District of eastern Baghdad July 28. More than 30 local bankers and business leaders attended the forum seeking to improve the financial institutions in Baghdad and help the development of Iraq. Photo by Maj. Sean Ryan, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs.

Dr. Muhammad, (left), Karadah District council leader speaks with Kathryn Herhusky, the business and finance advisor, and Lt. Col. Dean Dunham, the deputy commander, both from the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, at a banking forum in the Karadah District of eastern Baghdad July 28. More than 30 local bankers and business leaders attended the forum seeking to improve the financial institutions in Baghdad and help the development of Iraq. Photo by Maj. Sean Ryan, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY — Banking institutions are vital to any country’s economy and stability. Iraqis have been working steadily over the past four years to stabilize their country’s security and essential services, but some Iraqis are focusing their efforts now on the country’s banking system.

A bankers’ forum was held and attended by more than 30 leaders from state, privately-owned banks and other Iraqi financial entities, as well as business leaders and district council members, in eastern Baghdad’s Karadah District July 28. Representatives also included members from Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team and leaders from the 2nd (Infantry) Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

The event was the brainchild of Dr. Muhammad, Karadah District leader, and Kathryn Herhusky, a business and financial advisor for the 2nd IBCT.

“This event is Iraqi-driven and we are just here to provide support in case they need it, Herhusky said.” The banking system in Iraq has not been independent in (the) past 30 years due to the former regime and recently, for security reasons.

Currently in Iraq, cash is still king but the bankers in Baghdad would like to change that and not only get citizens to trust in the system, but also help them rebuild former businesses which have been lost. Unlike in the United States, where you can bump into an automatic teller machine on nearly every street corner, a number of banks in Baghdad are still not open, much less ATMs.

One major concern for all attendees is the loan rates offered to restart their business. Most banks are willing to offer loans, but due to the fragility of the market and security concerns, they are asking double digits percentages in return.

For businessmen like M.J.Shakery, the owner of Dijlha Leather Industry, a renowned traditional Iraqi footwear maker since 1936, the rate is too much.

“A loan with lower interest rates would enable him to buy machinery, spare parts and start paying staff,” he said.

Shakery has six production lines that could work today and can produce more than 600 pairs of shoes per day, if fully operational.

“We could hire anywhere from 450 to 600 workers soon, which would greatly help the unemployment rate,” he said.

Currently, personal loans rates are offered at four percent, but business loans are being offered at four times that amount, which most of those in attendance felt needed to be changed. Provincial Council Economics Chairman Dr. Shabibi, who chaired the “Iraqi Financial Institutions and their Role in Economic Reconstruction”-themed event added, “In these times of unusual circumstances, it’s better to reduce the rates, get more businesses going, and the immediate objective is to reduce unemployment.”

“Other factors, such as investment laws, must be implemented, reduce imports and ensure everything goes through quality checks,” said the president of the Industrial Union. “It is something Iraq should strive for.” Many of those in attendance at the forum agreed with that assessment.

While not every topic was fully agreed upon, this event is a major step to helping businesses get started since the majority of the major banks are in Baghdad.

“We need to be like other countries around the world,” Shabibi said at the end of the session, “and regulate interest rates to help out all Iraqis.”

Congress gets a Hat Trick

Survey shows just 3% of Americans approve of how Congress is handling the war in Iraq; 24% say the same for the President

A majority of American adults (54%) lack confidence in President Bush’s ability as Commander in Chief of the U.S. military, a new UPI/Zogby Interactive poll shows. A majority (60%) said they do not trust the president’s judgment when it comes to the war, while 38% say they have faith in his military decisions.

Just 24% give the president favorable ratings of his performance in handling the war in Iraq, but confidence in Congress is significantly worse – only 3% give Congress positive marks for how it has handled the war. This lack of confidence in Congress cuts across all ideologies. Democrats – some of whom had hoped the now Democrat-led Congress would bring an end to the war in Iraq – expressed overwhelming displeasure with how Congress has handled the war, with 94% giving Congress a negative rating in its handling specifically of that issue.

The online survey was conducted July 13–16, 2007, and included 7,590 respondents. It carries a margin of error of +/– 1.1 percentage points.

More at Zogby.

Wow. Just... wow.

Tribal Leaders continue reconciliation efforts across Diyala

TIKRIT— Eighteen paramount tribal leaders representing 14 of the major tribes in Diyala province, Iraq, swore on the Quran and signed a peace agreement unifying the tribes in the battle against terrorism during a meeting at the BaqubahGovernment Center Aug. 2.

The meeting, led by Ra’ad Hameed Al-Mula Jowad Al-Tamimi, governor of Diyala; Staff Maj. Gen. Abdul Kareem, commander of Iraqi security forces in Diyala province; and Col. David W. Sutherland, commander of coalition forces in Diyala, was attended by sheiks representing three Shiite tribes, 11 Sunni tribes and 60 of Diyala’s 100 sub-tribes.

“Let’s build this tent and live under it like one family – all the tribes and all the people of Diyala. You have to be one family,” said Ra’ad Hameed Al-Mula Jowad Al-Tamimi, governor of Diyala, who stressed the importance of the sheiks in the country’s efforts towards stability and security.

“Problems can be solved by the sheiks because they have great influence on their tribes,” Ra’ad continued, stating the tribes are the key to success in Diyala.

“Those tribes that do not choose to participate in the way ahead for a secure Diyala will be left behind,” said Sutherland as he spoke to the tribes. “Don’t say, ‘I need,’ until you say, ‘I’ve done.’ Do for your families, do for your tribes, and do for Diyala.”

“The tribal leaders can change the hearts of the people,” said Sheik Mahmood Abdul-Shinba Al-Hassani. “Instead of cheering for the terrorists driving through the streets, the people will cheer for the Iraqi security forces in the streets.”

“The terrorists are not that many,” said Sheik Adnan Abdul-Mehdi Al-Anbaki. “We have to stand together and we need to kill the terrorists. We know who they are.”

After discussing tribal differences and why it is important to unite, the sheiks signed a reconciliation agreement and swore over the Quran as a promise to uphold the agreement.

As stated in the Quran, “And hold fast, all together, by the rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves,” the sheiks agreed to ten conditions.

Some conditions of the peace treaty include ending tribal conflicts and attacks; cooperating with the ISF; fighting al-Qaida, militia groups and other terrorist organizations; working with the security forces to eradicate corrupt members; returning displaced families to their homes; reporting and removing improvised explosive devices; and respecting all sects, religions and women’s rights.

“This is the time my government needs me,” said Sheik Mazen Rasheed Al-Mula Jawad Al-Tamimi, paramount sheik for the Tamimi tribe. “Why should I stand by and watch when my people tell me everything – the good and the bad?”

“We have to consider the fact that local people are helping us. We have to work with them hand-in-hand and go forward,” Ra’ad said. “If anyone is standing in our way as an obstacle, then we will have to take that obstacle away from our path.”

Related Post: Diyala Turning.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Female combat medics in the fight daily; earn respect

Story by Spc. Mike Alberts
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

Army combat medics, Spc. Aimee Collver (right) and Spc. Vanessa Bolognese (center), both with the 25th Infantry Division’ 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Personal Security Detachment, take a moment to interact with the local population and relax during a mission in Amerli, Iraq, July 11.  Photo by Army Spc. Mike Alberts.

KIRKUK — Temperatures exceeded 115 degrees during the five-hour mission in Amerli that day. More than 50 Soldiers were on site and tensions were high; Amerli was the scene of a massive suicide truck bombing just four days earlier.

Soldiers kept alert, but visibly struggled under the weight of dozens of pounds of battle gear. Throughout the sun-scorched day, all but two Soldiers limited their movement as much as possible. All but two could afford that luxury.

“Bolo” and “Collver” continuously walked up and down the lines of men. “Drink water,” they repeated. “Are you feeling OK?” they asked. They were the two Soldiers charged with ensuring that each man stayed hydrated and returned safely to base. As usual, they were the mission’s only dedicated medical personnel.

Spc. Vanessa Bolognese and Spc. Aimee Collver, combat medics, Personal Security Detachment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, kept all their male counterparts healthy “outside the wire” that day in Amerli just as they do every day in the Kirkuk Province, Iraq. Neither is doing exactly what she thought she’d be doing in the Army, but neither would trade her job for another.

“Before I enlisted, I was going to school to become a [registered nurse],” said Bolognese. “I wanted a medical job and my [military occupational specialty] is called health care specialist,” said the 21 year-old from Chino Hills, Calif. “In fact, the first time I heard the term ‘combat medic’ was during [advanced individual training] at Fort Sam Houston. They pretty much told us there, ‘You will be deploying. You will be working in Iraq.’” Bolognese’s colleague and roommate had similar motivations.

“I’d been working in a nursing home after high school,” said Collver. “When I walked into the recruiter’s office I knew that I wanted a medical job,” explained the 23 year-old from Puyallup, Wash.Iraq is anything like what I thought.” “The health care specialist job was available, and I was told that I would be working in a hospital setting,” she said. “Of course, I don’t work in a hospital and nothing out here in

What each combat medic is doing in Irag is working as the designated medical asset to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s Personal Security Detachment (“PSD”). The PSD’s primary mission is to transport certain members of the brigade’s command group around 3IBCT’s area of operation. The PSD also provides personal security for the command group to and from their various destinations and while on site, according to Staff Sgt. Jeremy Brandon, non-commissioned officer-in-charge, PSD, 3IBCT.

Brandon is a native of Jacksonville, Fla., and is serving his third combat deployment. He’s charged with supervising both Bolognese and Collver and explained why each Soldier is vital to mission success.

“We often conduct operations as an independent element,” explained Brandon. “For that reason, we need to have our own dedicated medical support. Bolognese and Collver are that support. We always have one of them with us wherever we go,” he said. And Brandon couldn’t be happier with their performance.

“Both Soldiers are everything that one could ask for in a medic,” he continued. “They have done an outstanding job staying on top of their skills. They’ve constantly taken it upon themselves to retrain and stay certified, and have done an excellent job both outside the wire and back here on the [Forward Operating Base] by taking the initiative to give us various medical classes.”

Brandon’s PSD Soldiers agreed.

“We all respect them for their abilities as medics and as Soldiers,” said Sgt. Brian Tabor, squad leader, PSD, 3IBCT. Tabor is a five-year veteran serving his second combat deployment. “We haven’t had any issues because they’re female,” emphasized the Sacramento, Calif., native. “Bottom line: They’ve been a valuable asset to the PSD and it’s been a good thing having them with us.”

As for Bolognese and Collver, even though neither is working in the comfortable confines of a hospital, each loves her job and wouldn’t choose to do anything else.

“Of course, the job is mentally challenging because of the unknown anytime you leave the wire,” said Collver. “But I love being with this group because there’s so much camaraderie. I take a lot of pride in knowing that they’re well taken care of because I’m there for them,” she said.

“Their well-being depends on me when I’m with them,” echoed Bolognese. “In that sense, it’s wonderful to know that when I look back at my deployment I can say that I did go out there every day and risk my life to take care of other Soldiers,” she said. “That’s a lot more than most people can say.”

Editors note: Ok. Brave chicks are HAWT. And I should know, since I have four daughters who have the HOO AHH to stand up to me.

The End of a Candidacy

You may not have to dig through much Presidential Election history to find such an early and precipitous end to a candidacy, especially since this campaign is starting so early. But Barak Obama has, in the span of five days, given the Democratic Presidential nomination to The Tempest in a B-Cup. He has done so much damage to himself that he is unlikely to even be considered a viable VEEP candidate.

In the span of just five days, he:

  1. Said he would meet with the leaders of rogue nations with no consideration given to how such meetings might be used for propaganda.
  2. Said he would attack targets in Pakistan (a staunch if beseiged ally in the war on terror), without the approval of that country's sovereign government.
  3. Said he would consider the use of nuclear weapons in defense of this country in the war on terror, then reversed himself and said nukes were off the table.

In five days, he has shown everything the Clinton campaign has alleged about him: That he is not ready to be President of the United States. The President is just better than the Presidents of Syria, Iran and North Korea. Head of State is a title with a pecking order, at which our President sits on top.

You don't go around destabilizing allies who, upon being deposed in a coup, has the keys to nukes snatched from his cold dead hands. And, you never take our greatest deterrent off of the table when our enemies seek that technology for offensive capabilities. Islamist radicals must be grinning ear to ear.

I am no fan of The First Bitch. At all. I think she gets way too many passes from the MSM on her own flip-flops. She has said the same things Obama has, and flipped her opinion more than a Waffle House hasher has.

When that machine pins a label on an opposing candidate, that opposing candidate ought not go ahead and accept it like a badge of honor. Unfortunately for Obama, and for anyone else hoping for serious competition for Clinton, Obama pinned the badge on and didn't even realize it.

Senator John McCain took nearly the whole month of May to sink his campaign with the torpedo of immigration amnesty. It has taken Obama only five days.

He is done.

Iraqi Army, Stryker Leaders Assess Progress

Friday, 03 August 2007

A Soldier guards a door while clearing a building on the outskirts of Baqubah, Iraq, June 23. The Soldier is with Bravo Company, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, from Fort Lewis, Wash. The B Co. Soldiers and Soldiers of 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, with 4-2 SBCT, have sealed off Baqubah as their sister Stryker Brigade, 3-2 SBCT, also from Fort Lewis, Wash., continues to clear the city of Baqubah in a major offensive known as Arrowhead Ripper, launched on the city and its outskirts on June 18. Arrowhead Ripper aims to kill or capture all insurgents in Baqubah by sealing off the city and any avenues of escape. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Antonieta Rico, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

Sgt. Armando Monroig, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAQUBAH — Leaders from the 5th Iraqi Army Division and the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, traveled together to assess progress in several neighborhoods of Baqubah, Iraq, July 31.

As Operation Arrowhead Ripper continues, the effort has shifted from combat operations to reconstruction and humanitarian missions. The Iraqi Army, Iraqi Police and provincial council members are leading the majority of the projects. Many residents have joined in to do their part to improve their city.

Lt. Col. Wa’el Hashim, the civil affairs officer for the 5th IA Div., and members of the division visited west Baqubah neighborhoods Khatoon and Mufrek to confirm whether or not damaged infrastructure has been fixed and to determine what other services require immediate attention such as water, power, food and reparations to civilians.

During this mission, Wa’el rolled up his sleeves and got his hands dirty as he helped pull out a damaged water main line from the muddy ground, helped residents carry bags of rice and flour at a food distribution point and helped the division engineers get started in clearing streets of debris and trash.

“You’ve got the (Iraqi Army) embracing civil military operations and fixing to help the community,” said Lt. Col. Fred Johnson, deputy commanding officer for 3-2 SBCT, from Fort Lewis, Wash. “And you have a very active municipal government working with the Army.”

Johnson believes these neighborhoods are heading in the right direction.

“What wins the war is normalcy, the work that’s being done by the Iraqi army, the municipal government, the civilians – by those people that want to take hold of their future – that’s where the war is won,” Johnson said. “And it’s not by us doing it. It’s by the Iraqis doing it.”

Johnson said leaders at the government center in downtown Baqubah are taking the recent Iraqi soccer team win of the Asian Cup to heart.

“The assistant to the governor for the provincial distribution system was the one who said it – ‘We can be just like the soccer team. The soccer team has Sunni, Shia, Kurdish – and there’s no sectarian issues. We need to be more like our soccer team. That’s the same thing we need to do as a nation.’”

Johnson said it’s this kind of thinking that will lead Baqubah and the rest of Iraq to a stable and secure future. With leaders like Wa’el, he believes it will happen.

“The last three weeks here in Baqubah have, without question, been the most rewarding three weeks of my career, because I’ve seen what good Iraq leadership looks like.”

Dreams for Democracy

Former son of Iraq reflects on changes in his native land

By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp
1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

Rudy Lirato (center), a U.S. contractor and translator for the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division's Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team, returns from a mission in a village north of Baghdad, arriving back at Camp Taji, Iraq, via a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Lirato, who has worked with coalition troops for a little more than three years, said he hopes to help Iraq as the nation.  Photo by Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp,1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs.

CAMP TAJI — Like many immigrants before him, Rudy Lirato had a dream for his family-a dream firmly rooted in the ideals of freedom and democracy-when he left his native homeland of Iraq 30 years ago.

He is now serving as an interpreter and U.S. contractor who works with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Lirato left Iraq in 1977 with his wife for the city of Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

“I had just gotten married to my sweetheart and knew that I would be drafted into the Iraqi army and that there was no future for me here,” said Lirato. “I filed for a visa with the Canadian embassy and my uncle had sponsored my mom and then my mom, in turn, sponsored me.”

Prior to his immigration to Canada, Lirato had just graduated from Baghdad’s Al-Zafrany TechnicalCollege with a degree in automotive engineer design. At the time, Saddam Hussein was only the vice president of Iraq, but Lirato explained that Hussein was the man “behind the curtain” pulling the strings and actually in control of what was happening in the country.

A few years later, in 1980, Hussein ruled Iraq completely, giving Lirato a reason to ensure that his father and other family members, still living in the totalitarian nation, made it safely out of the country.

“We had to get them out of Iraq because people were being beaten and killed for no reason. They would disappear if they criticized the Baath Party. They would be picked up by intelligence and you would never see them again,” he said. “You would never think about asking the government what happened, because if you did, you would disappear, too.

During his years in North America, Lirato, now a grandfather, and his wife raised four children. For his first two years on the American continent, Lirato worked odd jobs to make ends meet.

After saving money, he was eventually able to open his own convenience store and later a chain of them along with a doughnut shop franchise and a pizzeria. Selling the franchise business 18 years later, he began an Italian restaurant with three satellite stores for pick-up and delivery.

He was truly living the American dream, being successful in business, he said.

Eventually, after nearly three decades in Canada, Lirato and his family settled in Phoenix.

In 2004, he left the restaurant business behind because he saw the opportunity to help his former homeland after Sadaam Hussein’s regime fell in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“The reason I came here was because this nation needed help,” he said. “The main reason I came to work with the Army was I believed in them and what they are doing as far as their wanting to help the people out of the goodness of their hearts.”

“The coalition forces helped Iraq get rid of a dictator, so their coming into Iraq was an excellent thing and many of the Iraqi people had been asking for U.S. help for years to get rid of Sadaam,” said Lirato.

Over his three years working with coalition forces, Lirato said he’s seen the good that they have been doing to help Iraq. In his current position for the 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div., Rudy translates as a member of the brigade’s embedded provincial reconstruction team assisting them with current efforts to include reconciliation.

“They’ve been doing a thousand percent in trying to reach out to the people,” he said. “I couldn’t believe how much they were doing and at first, they basically just offered an open check to help the Iraqi people get back on their feet.”

Lirato has helped coalition forces to refurbish and refurnish schools, work on water projects, electrical stations and other major undertakings.

Some of the larger missions that Lirato has assisted have included accompanying a 45-foot trailer filled with medicine into the city of Mosul, Iraq. In addition, when he was working in Mosul, he saw the coalition donate $50,000 to help renovate a mosque.

“I’ve worked in efforts in Iraq that have involved thousands and thousands of dollars, giving free food rations out to the people,” he said. “There have been a lot of people out there in the U.S. and other nations with big hearts making donations to help Iraqis.”

One of the things that really surprised Lirato was the humane way in which coalition troops and Iraqi security forces treat insurgents when they are captured as enemy combatants. It was an eye-opening experience, he said, as compared to the old days under Hussein.

“When Sadaam captured his enemies, he would give them a slap in the face and a punch in the stomach and then send them to their deaths in meat grinders—after days and days of torture,” said Lirato. “When the coalition forces capture insurgents, suspects are given a toothbrush, food and water and humane treatment. Officers tell their troops not to yell, but be as nice as they can.

“Now, terror suspects are assured of getting a fair trial,” added Lirato, explaining that there is a noticeable difference between Iraq as a democracy, opposed to when it was under a totalitarian regime.

Another impression that sticks with Lirato, he said, was how much the coalition troops go out of their way to respect cultural differences inherent in Iraqi society.

“They have a great respect for and really do care about what happens to the people here,” said Lirato. But, he said, there needs to be a lot more participation on the part of Iraqis to move the country forward towards democracy.

“Reaching the younger generation will be key as they are the future of Iraq,” said Lirato. “Iraqis need to recognize that U.S. and coalition forces are there to help them and that they should grab the opportunity that’s at their doorsteps. The coalition forces will not be here forever.

“Freedom isn’t free, it has cost the Iraqis and coalition precious souls for a good cause,” he added.

With so many different people living in Iraqi society to include Kurds, Shia, Sunni, Tarakaman, Yazeady and Christians, one of the keys to success in Iraq will be bringing all of the different groups together and uniting them, according to Lirato.

“They need to take seriously what they have in their hands and start following a different path, first to help their country and their families,” Lirato said. “If they don’t they will be living in a lot worse situation than they are now.

“But hopefully they will awaken and put their differences aside, and take one united way to successfully live in prosperity,” added Lirato.

Lirato said he believes very much in the type of democracy and freedom that he and his family have experienced since moving first to Canada and then, the United States—he hopes one day people in Iraq can have a similar type of freedom to pursue their own dreams

One of the proudest moments in his life, he added, will come when he finally becomes a U.S. citizen in a few short months.

“I can’t wait to tell the judge, the president of the United States, the congress and everyone else ‘In God we trust,’” said Lirato. “It’s going to be a big honor for me and for

my family.”

Beauchamp, The Weekly Standard, EXPOSED

Micheal Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard publishes a summary of telephone and email conversations with TNR's Editor. TNR has completed their "investigation" of the story and found only one little detail to be disfactual: That the "melted woman" incident actually occurred at Camp Buehring in Kuwait before Beauchamp's unit deployed to Iraq.

Title: Foer the Record

UPDATE (09:44 CDT): Matt Sanchez has broken the story: Beachamp Investigation Concluded.

Complete fabrication.

UPDATE: (11:18 CDT): Confederal Yankee reports contact from Third Army USARCENT PAO in Kuwait. Melted Woman is "Urban Myth" at Camp Buehring.

Read that here.

Meanwhile, the leftwing is in a tizzy, with apparent homophobe Max Blumenthal whining about Matt Sanchez' past (as if it could somehow change the fact that Beauchamp is a liar and TNR is a rag).


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Liberal Arrogance

They want instant mashed potatoes, microwave popcorn, one hour
martinizing and Democracies Built in a Day. When they don't get what they want, they scream at waiters and berate dry cleaning clerks for making the coffee to strong, the taters too mushy and the starched shirts too stiff. And, they point to a "bunch of Arabs," sneer, and say "it will never work." They're talking about the Iraqi Parliament and Maliki government, who has been in office for a tad more than a year.

During this year, they have been battling a wicked insurgency, struggling to get the petroleum infrastructure up and keep a lid on sectarian mistrust that has existed for centuries. Meanwhile, the American left sits in comfortable, air conditioned offices and dismisses their efforts as meaningless.

The lack of Christian sectarian violence in western civilization is a fairly recent phenomenon. For centuries, Christian western powers fought religious wars against each other, killing each other in population proportions that make the sectarian bloodshed in Iraq look like a rush hour fender bender. Through a period of Rennaissance and Reformation, western civilization was able to rise above the propensity for violence and settle political, sectarian and religious disputes through a combination of tolerance and dialogue. We are not perfect, but we are not the barbarous slaughtering machines we were for the first thousand years or so after the founding of the Church.

It is the height of liberal arrogance to dismiss the efforts of the Iraqis to resolve their own differences. As our own history painfully points out, these things take time. Western civilization overcame its history. What makes us so special that we should believe Arabs can not do the same? These Arabs are the people who gave western engineers the concept of Zero. "Algebra" is an Arabic word. The most ancient Iraqis, the Sumerians, gave western civilization the written word. We are not talking about an ethnic group incapable of rational, intelligent thought. If we believe them intelligent and capable, then we should also believe them capable of working out their differences without killing each other. Mesopotamia is an ancient and beautiful land. Its people deserve the chance to live their in peace. It is in the United States' vital national interests to see the establishment of a peaceful and stable Iraq. But it is up to Iraqis to want that too, and want it badly enough to be willing to die for it. If they are willing to die for it, then they are willing to tolerate political and religious differences that do not, in the end, make them any less Arab or any less Iraqi than anyone else.

They are capable of doing that. To believe otherwise is the height of liberal arrogance and bigotry.

35th Street Market open for business

BAGHDAD — Seven weeks ago, the citizens of east Doura couldn’t walk down 35th Street. Seven weeks ago, there would have been an explosive or gunfire waiting for them.

Seven weeks ago, the Raiders weren’t in the area.

Full Story.


Yes, Obama. You did.

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan accused Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama of "sheer ignorance" for threatening to launch US military strikes against Al-Qaeda on Pakistani soil.

Obama warned Wednesday that if he is elected president, he would order US forces to hit extremist targets on Pakistan's frontier with Afghanistan if embattled military ruler President Pervez Musharraf failed to act.

"Such statements are being made out of sheer ignorance," Pakistan's Minister of State for Information, Tariq Azeem, told AFP. "They are not fully apprised about the ground realities and not aware of the efforts by Pakistan."

Full Story.

Obama the Magic Negro is a noob. The man has not been in the United States Senate for one full term and his noobness shows every time he opens his mouth. While I am not a fan of anyone running for the party of the Jackass, it is clear that this Urkelesque clown would be an unmitigated disaster in the White House. How fitting that Obama's threat came at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Idealist Idiots.

Obama is desperate. The Tempest in the B-Cup is widening her lead over him in the race to become the next victim of the GOP's Pennsylvania Avenue Express, and she's finding some resonance in her public spat with the Pentagon over imaginary cut and run plans. So a little risk taking is to be expected. What I never expected was to see a brain fart like this. Pakistan has some serious issues to deal with. Pervez Musharraf is hanging on and managing to keep a semblance of peace in Islamabad while he deals with a serious Islamist threat to stability. Having a US Presidential candidate--even a long shot one like Obama--threaten military action against targets within his country is disgraceful to the Pakistani President. As Tariq Azeem eloquently stated: "Such statements are being made out of sheer ignorance."

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Treachery Exposed

"I think there would be enough support in that group to want to stay the course and if the Republicans were to stay united as they have been, then it would be a problem for us."

So said House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), in a video interview with the website. Clyburn is referring to a report due to be given by MNF-Iraq Commanding General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. Clyburn was asked about how a positive report from the two might affect Congressional Democrats' efforts to end the war in Iraq.

WTF? If Petraeus and Crocker come back with a positive report, showing significant progress in quelling the counterinsurgency, Democrats would see that as a problem? Since when does being a Democrat trump being an American?

This sort of treachery is exactly what I wrote about in June.

If America succeeds in Iraq, Bush leaves office as the President who brought democracy to both Iraq and Afganistan, giving the middle east two bastions of freedom for the first time in history of the region. It results in two peaceful, stable and productive allies of the United States. For Iraq, it would place a large chunk of the world's proven oil reserves in the hands of a friendly nation and represent a regional influence with which to check the radical islamists in Iran. Those would be historically significant developments for the United States and southwestern Asia. And, they would provide a formidable legacy for Mr. Bush.

The overarching goal of Democrat shenanigans in Congress is not sound policy--it is all about gaining political points. As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, it's about "winning seats." The Democrats are not interested in winning in Iraq. They are only interested in winning in November 2008. The Majority Whip, in one of those "oops" moments, has exposed the treachery of the left and shown them for what they really are.

My question is simply this: How will the ordinary American who voted for these idiots last November going to react, when he sees this and realizes that he's been played?

Associated Press hit piece debunked

The headline read thus:

"Iraq refuses to take over many projects
Reluctance to assume control could cost U.S. billions, audit finds"

In the story, the Associated Press reported that the Government of Iraq's refusal to take over various reconstruction projects was going to cost the United States billions of dollars, citing a report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

I have obtained a copy of the report, entitled Transferring Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund Capital Projects to the Government of Iraq (SIGIR).

At no point in the report does SIGIR claim that the government of Iraq "refuses" to take over the projects, nor does the report state that the alleged refusal stands to cost American taxpayers "billions." Here's what the report does state:

"Delays in transferring completed projects mean that fewer assets are available to the [Government of Iraq] as leverage for loans and could result in additional sustainment expenses for hte U.S. government agencies that completed the projects." (SIGIR-07-004, July 2007)

I have been in contact with project management and finance & accounting officials at the Gulf Regional Division, US Army Corps of Engineers, in Iraq. Corps officials tell me that the GOI is not refusing to take these projects over--the GOI is budgetarily incapable of doing so. In what amounts to a disastrous success, the United States government has completed hundreds of projects worth billions of dollars in less than three years, overwhelming the new government. With insufficient tax and oil revenues flowing in to take over and operate all of the new projects, the GOI has asked for time and suggested turning over smaller, community-based projects to local officials. The US government has agreed to do so with numerous small projects. For the larger projects that exceed the locals' operation and maintainence capacity, the US agencies are carrying the O&M costs until transfer can be accomplished. Officials estimate that one to two years of O&M will be incurred, but denied that those costs would run into the billions even if transfers are further delayed.

Corps officials tell me that no one from AP contacted them for comment on the matter, despite the fact that the Corps is the lead agency in reconstruction efforts.

Clearly, the AP story, which ran on MSNBC, Yahoo! News, CNN and various other websites, was poorly researched and badly reported. While I am stopping short of accusing the AP of deliberately misstating the contents of the SIGIR report, the story stands out as yet another example of shoddy journalism on the part of AP.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Join the Victory Caucus

The Victory Caucus is back online. The site bills itself as a one-stop shop for news and information about the Global War on Terror, and delivers in spades. I strongly recommend that you visit the site, and register.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Asian Cup Champs

Remember how it felt to be an American when the US Hockey Team upset the vaunted Soviets in the 1980 Games at Lake Placid? Full of national pride and unity, Americans of all flavors enjoyed just being Americans.

Today, the Republic of Iraq gets to bask briefly in that light. No matter what happens tomorrow, today they are all Iraqis.

Read the game recap here.

Photo essay below.

Sometimes, it's better to let those thousand words in a row take a backseat to the images that capture a moment in history.