In today's Mobile Register is this item:
Record ROTC class for USA.
USA is the University of South Alabama, located in Mobile, Alabama. More than 250 public universities in the U.S. have Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs. Many of them have seen record enrollment the last two years.
Upon graduating from the four year program, Cadets become 2nd Lieutenants and go onto train for their selected specialty. To them, I offer a HOO AH.
Just a little item to counter the left's mantra that this nation's young people do not want to be part of our Armed Forces during a time of war.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
In today's Mobile Register is this item:
Gen. Pace: LA Times is Full of Reconstituted Organic Matter
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff on Friday denied a newspaper report that he will urge President George W. Bush to cut U.S. troop levels in Iraq next year.
"The story is wrong," Marine Gen. Peter Pace said through a spokesman. "It is speculative. I have not made nor decided on any recommendations yet."
Friday, August 24, 2007
The Fourth Rail: Could Bin Laden be the Target?
Bill Roggio of the Fourth Rail reports heavy fighting in the Tora Bora region of Eastern Afghanistan. Dr. Amin al Haq, who serves as Osama bin Laden's security coordinator, was reported to have been wounded in the fighting.
In previous engagements with Taliban and Al Qaeda forces believed to be protecting or traveling with bin Laden, his "Black Guard" security detail has been involved.
This offensive bears watching closely.
The Thunder Run: Web Reconnaissance for 08/24/2007
"A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day..."
The blogosphere's best compilation of news and commentary.
Posted by Dave at 2:29 PM
By injecting the aftermath of Vietnam into the post-Iraq War debate, President Bush opened the refrigerator door — and that sent the apologists for Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot scurrying. Somehow the millions of boat people and the millions sent to concentration camps — re-education camps — are glossed over. One man’s death a tragedy, a million deaths a statistic, as Josef Stalin said.
The Great Big Lie is that Vietnam is some sort of paradise today.
Let us review:
He then gives us some very interesting statistics about how that country is faring. Like... Per capita income ($2 a day).
Surber's post is a short, intense, fun read. He's right, too. Vietnam sucks.
Posted by Dave at 2:15 PM
This item is a few weeks old, but in light of yesterday's release of the National Intelligence Estimate, it is worth reviewing.
From the Campaign Spot:
Stuart Koehl, of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University-SAIS writes in with a good point:
"The error being made- on your part as well as by others - is assuming that progress can only be made at the level of the national government. In fact, under the Iraqi constitution, the national government is rather weak, while traditionally real political power has been wielded on the local and regional level. And it is precisely at the local and regional level that we see real progress being made with regard both to power sharing and national reconciliation. Because of the social and constitutional structure of Iraq, political progress cannot be imposed from the top-down, but must percolate from the bottom up. To some extent, the members of the national assembly and the unity government are merely play-acting, posturing for the cameras until such time as a consensus emerges on the local level that will prompt them to act. The success of our counter-insurgency effort on the political front is not measured in the assembly chamber, but in the tribal councils. And there, we are definitely winning."
Somewhere, a graduate student in Political Science is studying the process of political reconciliation in Iraq. One has to wonder what Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau would think of this.
Posted by Dave at 1:01 PM
Mudville Gazette: Dawn Patrol
Mrs. Greyhawk's Daily roundup of information on the War on Terror (and other topics).
Posted by Dave at 11:56 AM
Seattle Muslims in a Full Court Victimization Press: "We need to get some type of apology from them and figure out how to get back to where we were." The FBI agents shouldn't apologize for doing their jobs and trying to protect people. Gomez is right: "people in those communities have to get over this sensitivity toward feeling victimized." And instead of resenting anti-terror efforts, some cooperation with them would be most welcome.
Amen. I would also add that the FBI does not work for the Muslim community. Its mission is to serve the entire United States of America, and protect the greater good even if a small minority is made uncomfortable because someone shines a light on people who may look like them. I frankly don't care how they feel, and neither should you.
If it upsets them so much, maybe they should drop a dime on the ferry spies.
By the way, if you've seen these two men, please contact your local FBI office.
Breitbart.tv -- Dollard Talks Iraq Media Coverage, Upcoming Surge Report
Documentarian Pat Dollard, who has an upcoming gritty 8-part series covering his 7 months embedded with the troops on the Iraq frontlines, joins Andrew Breitbart on "The Dennis Miller Show" to discuss how the media is covering the war and the "success" of troop surge.
Posted by Dave at 10:20 AM
From FOXNews.com comes this item. Should I be surprised?
BEIJING — Authorities said that 17 pounds of weapons-grade uranium disappeared and that a verdict in the trial of four men accused of trying to sell the radioactive material will be delayed until it is found, state media reported Friday.
The report was the first public word that uranium was missing.
The defendants said they did not know where the uranium was because it had been moved around so much between potential buyers, the China Daily newspaper reported.
The uranium was typesU-235 and U-238, both of which can be used to make nuclear weapons. Prolonged exposure to the radioactive material can cause cancer.
Defendant Zhang Sangang said he met a uranium mine owner in April 2005 and offered to be a middleman. The owner said he wanted $26,400 per kilogram, and that Zhang could keep the difference if he found someone willing to pay a higher price, the report said.
The three other defendants joined Zhang in his plan, and one of them met a businessman in the city of Guangzhou who said he knew someone willing to pay $210,000 for a kilogram of the uranium, the newspaper said, citing testimony in Guangzhou's Tianhe District Court.
Uranium is about 1.7 times the density of lead. We are talking about an amount of fissile material small enough to fit in a suitcase. Little Boy, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, contained roughly eight times the amount lost in China. However, Little Boy used the "gun method" of intitiating the chain reaction, a very inefficient conversion of mass to energy.
Seventeen pounds, or about eight Kg, is enough to kill hundreds of thousands, if not millions.
Volunteers Begin Service to Iraq
Friday, 24 August 2007
By Spc. L.B. Edgar
7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
ABU GHRAIB — “I promise to give my allegiance and my service to the nation and people of Iraq,” the middle-aged men said in unison.
“I promise to cooperate in order to serve the Iraqi people and build a new Iraqi nation,” they continued with their hands stacked one over the other on top of a copy of the Quran.
“I will support and defend the Iraqi government and the people of Iraq against other organizations. For these reasons I sign below,” the men concluded, subsequently signing a card with the oath they had just sworn to uphold with God and one another as witnesses.
The men were not enlisting in the Iraqi army or taking an oath of public office. Instead, they were part of a mass enrollment of everyday citizens into the Coalition Critical Infrastructure Force, whose members are most commonly referred to as the volunteers.
Volunteers are men all equally eager to protect their communities, said Capt. Jay Bunte, who points them in the right direction when it’s their turn to take the oath.
The opportunity to swear allegiance to the government of Iraq, apply for an identification card and thereby work toward greater security was made possible by a local leader, Sheik Abd. The elderly man hosted Soldiers of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, for the event in the small Shia town of Al Awad on the western fringe of Iraq’s capital, said Bunte, a native of Arlington, Texas.
“He’s a local leader who is for the people. He’s worried about the security of the town and what better way to provide security than by themselves (rather than continuing) to rely on coalition forces,” Bunte said. “Before we arrived (on this deployment rotation) they policed their own. They actually fought off insurgents themselves.”
The volunteers are enrolled into the Biometric Automated Tool Set (BATS) system, said Sgt. Joseph Box, the BATS system non-commissioned officer in charge for Co. B.
Throughout the event approximately 150 volunteers entered the room set up to accommodate the BATS system. Eight stations processed one volunteer at a time. Each volunteer provided their name and date of birth. Height, weight and hair color were recorded. All ten fingerprints were taken along with a passport size photo. Finally, one eye was painlessly scanned with an infrared laser recording an image of the iris, Box, a native of San Bernardino, Calif., said.
“It’s the best way we have of identifying people” Box said of the system he has operated for almost one year.
The scan of the iris is the most accurate identifying feature of the BATS system. For the past three years the iris-scan technology has been on the market. “Only now is it being mass produced and utilized in the field,” Box said.
Data from those enrolled in the BATS system is compared to an existing database of people already enrolled. Enrollees profiles are maintained by Multi-National Division-Baghdad, but shared with forces operating throughout Iraq and even service members serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, he said.
The technology is useful to Soldiers because it allows identification without necessarily having the suspect’s name.
“Even if the name is wrong I’ll know it’s the guy because of his iris scans and biometrics,” Box said.
In the case of the volunteers, the BATS system is a safeguard measure to protect against individuals trying to infiltrate the security force, Box said. “If 500 people show up today, chances are there (is) one or two rotten apples in the bunch.”
Though a positive match, or “coming up hot” on a BATS system, is not in and of itself evidence, “it can help our command make the decision whether or not to send (a suspect) to the holding area,” Box said. “We’ve had some success with it processing unknown detainees back at our battalion holding area.”
Every detainee is entered into the system, Box said. “Most of the time, when they see this equipment, they recognize it right of way. Not too many of these guys get pictures of their eyeballs taken. They don’t forget it.”
After enrolling, the volunteers were congratulated by their host, Sheik Abd. They washed their hands and as a group placed their hands on their sacred text. The men swore to their God to protect and uphold the rule of law and be loyal to the government of Iraq. Finally, they received a card with the oath and signed it.
“It’s them swearing to defend their town to the best of their ability,” Bunte said of the ritual.
Once the volunteers receive their ID cards, they are sworn protectors of their communities, Bunte said. By week’s end, the volunteers will take to the street to keep the promises they’ve made to Iraq’s government, its people and most importantly, their God.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The Fourth Rail has obtained a copy of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. Bill Roggio makes a copy available for download. Please note that this the declassified version.
Excerpts of the NIE have been printed by the major wire services. Here is an example of one of those stories.
I call that a very interesting selection of excerpts.
Let's provide some balance, shall we?
The IC assesses that the emergence of “bottom-up” security initiatives, principally among Sunni Arabs and focused on combating AQI, represent the best prospect for improved security over the next six to 12 months, but we judge these initiatives will only translate into widespread political accommodation and enduring stability if the Iraqi Government accepts and supports them. A multi-stage process involving the Iraqi Government providing support and legitimacy for such initiatives could foster over the longer term political reconciliation between the participating Sunni Arabs and the national government. We also assess that under some conditions “bottom-up initiatives” could pose risks to the Iraqi Government.
Fair enough--The "bottom up" phenomenon that I have been pounding on for months does appear to be "the best" prospect, and of course it poses risks. No solution envisioned under these conditions of uncertainty is risk-free. The alternative "top-down" approach has already shown itself to be an unmitigated disaster. Given the promise that has been shown by the ordinary Iraqis joining forces to solve problems nonviolently, I'll take my chances backing the "bottom-up" approach.
We assess that changing the mission of Coalition forces from a primarily counterinsurgency and stabilization role to a primary combat support role for Iraqi forces and counterterrorist operations to prevent AQI from establishing a safehaven would erode security gains achieved thus far. The impact of a change in mission on Iraq’s political and security environment and throughout the region probably would vary in intensity and suddenness of onset in relation to the rate and scale of a Coalition redeployment. Developments within the Iraqi communities themselves will be decisive in determining political and security trajectories.
Well what do you know. The "redeployment" plan being pushed by the left's leading candidates for the Presidential Nomination is, to put it un-diplomatically, a cluster fuck waiting to happen. At least in the eyes of the entire Intel Community. The small-footprint, counterterrorism-only approach is what got us the al-Askirya Mosque bombing, AQI contamination of Anbar, Diyala and the "Baghdad Belts," and a solid year and a half of sectarian bloodshed. Counterterrorism lives and dies by intelligence gathering, and you can't gather intelligence from terrified civilians when your forces never come out of the wire.
Regardless of what next months's report by the administration says, the NIE makes the strongest case yet for continuing the counterinsurgency tactics adopted earlier this year. The gains made to date have come at a costly toll, indeed. We can't afford to give those gains back.
Mucho gracias to Bill Roggio for snagging a copy of the document and making it available.
Counterterrorism Blog's continuing coverage of the Holy Land Foundation's federal trial in Texas. HLF and several of its top officials are on trial for giving material support to Hamas.
The Council of American Islamic Relations has been named as one of the legions of "unindicted co-conspirators" by the Dept. of Justice.
CTB has been providing regular coverage of the landmark trial.
The Weekly Standard has found a post by Peter Wehner of Contentions. TWS Editor Michael Goldfarb calls it a "must read," and I wholeheartedly agree.
Kissinger continues:On April 13th, the New York Times correspondent [Sydney Schanberg] reported the American departure under the headline, “Indochina Without Americans: For Most, a Better Life.” The Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh on April 17th . . . . The 2 million citizens of Phnom Penh were ordered to evacuate the city for the countryside ravaged by war and incapable of supporting urban dwellers unused to fending for themselves. Between 1 and 2 million Khmer were murdered by the Khmer Rouge until Hanoi occupied the country at the end of 1978, after which a civil war raged for another decade.
Thunder Run's daily digest of news and commentary.
Posted by Dave at 11:42 AM
... to miss an opportunity.
Omar gives us his view on the maddening morass of Iraqi national politics. He believes that new elections may be the only course of action that resolves the deeply sectarian standoff.
This comes on the heels of Ambassador Ryan Crocker's expressions of frustration with the Maliki-led "unity government," and just before the CIA "leaks" its intelligence assessment of the government's ability to mend the sectarian divide.
It seems we are nearing another of the many turning points this story has given us.
In an insightful post from the Counterterrorism Blog, Douglas Farah explains how a decentralized network of terrorists are able to share techniques via technology.
The same technology that allows Omar and Mohammed to give us the unblemished view from the Iraqi perspective unfortunately allows the bad guys to instantly communicate and share lessons learned.
Farah opines that we are "largely unprepared" to fight this war against such a decentralized, unbordered, stateless enemy. I agree that this aspect of the conflict presents challenges we've never faced. However, recall that very small armies of hackers have taken down numerous websites over the last several years.
Remember the old saw: The more moving parts it has, the easier it is to break it. What we need to do is figure out which moving part is the easiest to break.
This of course is all because Bush invaded Iraq in a war of choice to steal oil, oppress brown people and line the profits of the Cheney Halliburton KBR junta.
Posted by Dave at 9:22 AM
The first concept to grasp is that the global conflict now underway involves both a clash of arms and a clash of ideas. To succeed in this war will require effective combat on both fronts.
The second concept is this: The clash of arms and the clash of ideas influence one other, often in peculiar and even counterintuitive ways.
One example: Al Qaeda in Iraq could not challenge American troops directly. Their solution has been to target innocent Iraqis instead, to slaughter innocent Muslim men, women, and children by the hundreds.
Former New York Times Correspondent Clifford May writes about how the conflict in Iraq is changing how the "Arab street" views Americans. Defeating Al Qaeda in Iraq required alliances between Muslims and Infidels against other Muslims. Many thought such ideas preposterous. But careful analysis of Iraqi sermons, blogs, websites and media shows that such tactical alliances are acceptable under Islamic teaching.
As a nation, we have much to learn about Arab culture. Radical fringes get lots of press, while ordinary Jamils and Youssefs are just trying to raise their families and go about their daily lives in peace.
May doesn't note this, but it is worth mentioning: Arabs are astute businessmen. They know how to make a deal (and no, it's not oil we're dealing with). They are perfectly capable of establishing relationships that serve common interests, even when the partnership between Muslim and Infidel puzzles outside observers. When Anbar had been written off as lost, Petraeus stepped in and offered the traditional leaders a deal: Help us rid this place of Al Qaeda, and we will help you rebuild your villages while we teach your sons how to keep Al Qaeda from ever coming back.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Or, as the left might see it, The Empire Strikes Back.
A number of Former White House aides are joining Republican fundraisers to back a $15 million advertising campaign supporting the President's policy in Iraq, hoping to pressure lawmakers whose resistance to President Bush's Iraq war strategy may be wavering.
Although the Associated Press and Reuters will try to tell you that it is "aimed at" lawmakers within his own party, don't you believe it. This is aimed squarely at swing districts and "purple states" with Republican Senators and Representatives who are themselves the targets of anti-war moonbat advertising.
Twenty states will be targeted over a five week period.
AP Story here for a while.
Regardless of who your Senator or Congresscritter is, you should call, write, fax or email them and tell them that you think Mr. Bush, General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are doing a good job. The troops need your support, so they can finish the job that they are doing so well. Then we can welcome them home.
Posted by Dave at 3:44 PM
Deb went out, camera in hand, and caught a few snaps of the moonbats protesting at President Bush's visit to the VFW:
If either party compares the other to Hitler or the Nazis, then the party making the comparison is automagically declared the loser and is banned.
Guantanamo = Auschwitz?
Al Qaeda is the one who bakes people in ovens.
See the rest of Deb's collection here.
Clickie the thumbnail for the full size image.
I wonder how long that headline / image combo lasts...
H/T Ace of Spades HQ
UPDATE: All of 15 minutes after Ace's post.
Screen caps are forever, baby.
Mudville Gazette's Daily Roundup of the Right Side of the Blogosphere.
This is a great feature hosted by the mother (and father) of all milblogs, Mudville Gazette.
Posted by Dave at 1:16 PM
The general recognizes that political progress at the top in Iraq may lag as an indicator, but local initiatives look like the key to national success. He believes that, in this case, the politicians will eventually follow the people - who genuinely want better lives, not more bickering and butchery.
What will be the test of a worthy Iraqi government to Gen. Petraeus? "A government representative of and responsive to the people . . . at all levels."
I have written on this topic before.
And again, here.
This message resonates. It should be abundantly clear: This is the story that needs to be told next month when Congress gets its report on progress in Iraq. It needs to be told not because it sounds good. It needs to be told not because it deflects attention from a miserable failure in the "top-down" model of political reconciliation in Iraq. It needs to be told because this story is the truth.
Democratic central governments function when they reflect the will and consent of the governed. They cannot give that consent when they cower in fear of terrorists and militias, nor can they give their consent when their tribe wages war against the neighboring tribe or the other sect. Peace will beget reconciliation, not the other way around.
mmmm, What a sweet aroma it is.
Last year, following the bombing of the al-Askirya Mosque in Samarra and the wave of sectarian bloodshed that followed, it became hip to be anti-war. The left hitched their wagon to that mule and rode it right into razor thin majorities in the House and Senate. Upon taking office, the first words out of their mouths were: "This war is lost."
With party leadership buttoned securely in the pocket of the moonbat bloggers, Democrats mounted a furiously futile assault on President Bush's Iraq policy, scheduling vote after useless vote on non-binding resolutions and unconstitutional appropriations bills. Centrist Democrats, not eager to anger the voters that the left duped into electing them, kinda sorta went along. President Bush held his ground, gleefully vetoed the unconstitutional incarnation of H.R. 2206, and forced the Democrats to cave.
Undaunted by their defeat, Democrats vowed to return in the fall with a renewed vigor to force troop withdrawals and ultimately end the conflict in Iraq as a defeat they could hang on Bush. That defeat, as their grand scheme called for, would then be used to consolidate gains in Congress and sweep a Democrat into the White House in 2008.
But a funny thing happened on the way to that defeat. The Armed Forces of the United States maintained a momentum in Iraq and made undeniably good progress in the security situation in Iraq. More importantly, the heightened security in Baghdad and other major population centers began ushering in another key process: Political reconciliation between the basic units of Arab culture and society: The Tribe.
About three weeks from now, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker will testify before Congress, providing answers and comments on their input to the much anticipated progress report due from the administration. Democrats, especially centrist Democrats in swing districts and swing states, are petrified. The administration's report will show progress. The story of that progress will go in one moonbat ear and right out of the other. The hardline liberals don't care what the report says and won't be affected by anything short of a Sunni-Shi'a-Kurd Peace Treaty and the end of all hostilities. But the centrists, the ones with conservative voters watching carefully from home, do care.
The report threatens to rip party unity right down an ideological line, in what Penn State University's Matthew Woessner called a "Nightmare Scenario" for Democrats. "A nightmare scenario for any party is when the pressure, the sum total of the pressures from their constituency groups, are out of step with mainstream America. That's a prescription for electoral disaster," Woessner told Reuters in an interview yesterday. "The explosion of the success of the left-wing blogosphere has placed the Democrats under even more pressure from their left," he continued.
"The Democrats can't control the House and the Senate unless they elect centrists. And they can't elect their centrists by having a totally liberal agenda."
Ahh, blowback. There's that scent again.
For former President Richard Nixon, it was not the Watergate break-in that toppled his Presidency. It was the web of lies, secrecy and deceit that followed. Nixon learned the hard way that it's not the crime; it's the coverup that counts.
For former President Bill Clinton, it was not the blue dress or the act that stained it. It was the perjury, the wagon-circling and subornation of perjury that led to his historic impeachment trial and forever soiled his legacy. Mr. Clinton learned a lesson that his mother should have taught him by age 4: If you've done something wrong, fess up to it and take your medicine. If you lie about it and get caught, you'll get a dose you'll not soon forget. The mythical "father, I cannot tell a lie" anecdote about George Washington and the Cherry Tree sends a message that rings true whether the incident took place or not: Tell the truth about your missteps and you will be forgiven. Catholics, through the Sacrament of Confession, are allowed opportunities to confess their sins, do Penance and receive Absolution. Our society's fabric is woven with the thread of truth because the ability to trust and believe one another is so important to the social contract.
Journalists enjoy no immunity to the terms of that contract. We expect journalists to tell us the truth when reporting straight news stories, acknowledge bias in opinion pieces, correct errors when they are discovered and rid themselves of those whose only intent is to deceive. Hence the storm of criticism of The New Republic over the alleged "Baghdad Diarist" stories, written by PVT Scott Beachamp. As soon as the factual basis for the anecdotes disintegrated, TNR should have printed a retraction and ceased any further relationships with PVT Beauchamp.
Instead, TNR Editor Franklin Foer donned the ideological blinders and circled the wagons. As The Weekly Standard, Confederate Yankee, Ace of Spades HQ and Little Green Footballs peeled away the last husks of credibility from the anecdotes, it became clear to all but the staunchest defenders of TNR that a serious fraud had been perpetrated against the publication.
Thirty-three years ago this month, Senator Barry Goldwater led a group of courageous GOP lawmakers to a meeting at the White House. There, Senator Goldwater famously informed Nixon that the votes to convict were there and that he must either resign or be forced from office.
While the Beauchamp affair is in no fashion as earthshaking as the resignation of the President of the United States, one has to ponder the gravity of a news media that has become more interested in protecting its image than it is in finding the truth. Very recently, scandals associated with faulty reporting and outright deceipt have been hung on The Associated Press and Agence France Presse. AP has published factually decrepit stories on civilian casualties and ammunition shortages. AFP has been caught three times in photographic journalism deceipt. As with the TNR "Baghdad Diarist" affair, it took extraordinary journalism on the part of the bloggers to root out the truth. While no single blogger can compete with an army of stringers, researchers, reporters and fact-checkers, the blogging community as a whole most certainly can.
It most certainly will, too. The mainstream media must be put on notice: We expect you to fess up and take your medicine when you've screwed up. Your sins will be forgiven, but only after an appropriate penance. If you lie to us though, and try to conceal your wrongdoing, and there will be HELL TO PAY.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Counterterrorism Blog: CAIR’s Reputation and Incredibly Fluctuating Membership Roll
Amazingly, CAIR cites a pair of Washington Times articles from June 11 and 13 of this year. CAIR bitterly denounced those articles when they were published.
This is a perfect example of Fitzgerald's contention that educating Infidels--as the two Times' articles did brilliantly--makes Muslims angry.
Jihad Watch: Fitzgerald: Work to educate Infidels
"I believe the only way is to expose the Muslims to different cultures, different thoughts, different belief systems," said Dr Sultan, who is completing her first book, The Escaped Prisoner: When Allah is a Monster. -- from this article
Here is one of those details: those who are in a position to do so must work first to educate Infidels, so that a sufficient number of them in positions of power clearly understand the texts, tenets, attitudes, atmospherics of Islam. They must also be brought to understand why it is that efforts at appeasement and "integration" of Muslims into societies whose basic principles are flatly contradicted by Islam will fail.
I could not agree more. The west lives in a state of complete ignorance of Islam. In many cases, the ignorance is rivaled only by it stubbornness. It is up to western civilization to defend itself, and a successful defense against religious barbarism can only be mounted if we know who and what we are up against.
One thing the JihadWatch post does not touch on (but should have, IMO) is that ordinary Muslims are victims of zealotry and hatred. All of the Infidel suffering at the hands of Islamic violence notwithstanding, it must be accepted that Muslims have suffered even more. Most Muslims live in a state of abject poverty, and it's because of Islamic fundamentalism. Most Muslims live under repressive, Islamist regimes. Most Muslims live in fear of their Imams and governments because in Islam, religion and government are one and the same.
Everyone owes to to themselves to at least understand that every Muslim is called to Jihad. Every single one of them.
In the August 19 Editorial, The War as We Saw It, The New York Times publishes the viewpoints of seven soldiers from the 82nd Airborne. Their outlook is as grim as their apparent dedication to duty is strong.
However, I can't find this group of soldiers anywhere on the innernets. Maybe these guys really are soldiers with the 82nd and have elected to keep a low profile out here in cyberspace (unlike the Baghdad Fabulist, Scott Beauchamp). Maybe the NYT, anticipating that right-leaning bloggers might do a little fact-checking and investigate who these soldiers might be, warned the authors to get their heads down in advance of the inevitable scrutiny.
My weak google skills have turned up two matches to the names of the authors. The first is SGT Wesley D. Smith, who military.com says could be a 52 Bravo (Mechanic). The other is Edward Sandmeier, who turns up in old news reports (circa 2003) as a mortuary services specialist. Granted, career paths change and soldiers' original MOS are rarely the same they're discharged with.
It just seems odd to me that of the seven, none turn up as combat troops on military.com and only two actually google out to be soldiers at all.
Posted by Dave at 1:13 PM
Michael J. Totten: How to Spy in Iraq
This was typical of the Arab world, but also a bit odd. They think he’s a spy? What did they think we were doing there in their house? This was an intelligence gathering operation. It was, more or less, spying. The only difference is that the soldiers were up front about it, even though (and this is not contradictory) no one said anything about intelligence gathering yet. Nobody had to. Everyone knew what was up. The United States military has better things to do in Iraq than socialize just for the sake of socializing.
Read the full post here.
UPDATE: Foxnews.com has picked up Totten's story in its Iraq Journal. That segment has also featured Michael Yon. Give some props to Foxnews, y'all. They claim an "exclusive," and for MSM, their claim is accurate. You don't think you'd see this on the Dhimmi News Network, do ya?
The American Spectator: Lancet's Boil
Michael Fumento writes about a paper from David Kane, a fellow at Harvard University's Institute for Quantitative Social Science. Kane is essentially a stats geek. What he's done is conducted a statistical analysis of the Lancet medical journal's 2004 study, which concluded that U.S. military operations caused at least 100,000 deaths in Iraq.
Kane's conclusion: Upon inclusion of data the Lancet ignored out of political convenience, the confidence limits associated with the estimate are so wide that the lower limit is negative (which means there is a small chance that the invasion saved lives or... resurrected dead Iraqis).
Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
And geeks who get it right.
Misfire: AP's Bogus Ammo Shortage Story
Absolute MUST READ STORY. Confederate Yankee takes the AP apart over a very badly researched piece explaining how combat operations and training associated with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted in a stateside shortage of ammunition.
"According to two spokesmen for the world's largest ammunition manufacturer, which runs the military's ammunition manufacturing plant and separately, is a major supplier of law enforcement ammunition, it is a massive and unexpected increase in law enforcement ammunition demand that is causing delays in law enforcement ammunition delays, not the war.
Go read this.
Counterterrorism Blog: An Unexpected Guest
An Unexpected Guest
By The Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT)
A visitor stopped by the Gaza office of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF) in December 1999. It was Dallas Morning News reporter Steve McGonigle, who was reporting about alleged links between the Richardson, Tex.-based charity and Hamas, designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. government four years earlier.
McGonigle testified about that trip on Monday in the material support trial of the HLF and five of its officials. HLF officials did not know he was coming to Gaza, McGonigle said, and telephone calls between HLF officials in Gaza and Texas that prosecutors played seem to confirm that. McGonigle didn’t realize it, but his unannounced visit created a bit of a stir.
McGonigle wanted to meet families helped by HLF charities. The men on the phone calls, including HLF Chief Executive Shukri Abu Bakr, agreed not to take him to families of prisoners or martyrs.
McGonigle had already interviewed two Hamas founders, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Mahmud al-Zahar, who told McGonigle they knew nothing about HLF. “I was skeptical of what [Yassin] was telling me,” he testified.
Earlier, an outburst from defendant Ghassan Elashi triggered a warning from U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish. Elashi began yelling loudly just after the court recessed for a morning break.
Read the full post here.
Pay close attention to this trial.
Multi-National Force - Iraq - Coalition forces kill three, detain others in raids on al-Qaeda in Iraq
BAGHDAD — Coalition forces here over the past two days killed three terrorists and detained 28 suspects while putting pressure on terrorists facilitating the movement of al-Qaeda senior leaders.
South of Bayji, local Iraqis alerted ground forces to several suspected terrorists tied to the individual targeted in a Coalition operation. The ground forces captured the targeted individual and detained five more suspects believed to work for a local al-Qaeda leader. Coalition forces also found a cache of weapons and military-style assault vests with the suspects.
"We're on the offensive against al-Qaeda in Iraq and the foreign terrorists that help them," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman. "We will continue to hunt down terrorist leaders and those who take part in the planning and execution of their vicious attacks against innocent Iraqis."
In a pre-dawn raid north of Baghdad, Coalition forces captured a weapons distributor and “special groups” leader responsible for the storage and distribution of Iranian weapons. The suspected weapons facilitator has traveled to and from Iran numerous times and is responsible for smuggling and distributing explosively-formed penetrators to groups operating throughout the Baghdad area, U.S. officials said. He is also believed to have had ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force.
"Coalition troops continue to kill and capture terrorists who bring Iranian weapons, especially EFPs, into Iraq," said Garver. "We will continue to pursue these networks that provide these weapons to those who intend to kill Coalition forces, Iraqi Security Forces and innocent Iraqis."
Monday, August 20, 2007
OneWorld: IVAW to Promote Mutiny
One of the great luxuries we have in the United States is the liberty to disagree with our government and speak openly about our grievances. Promoting mutiny is not within the moral or ethical boundaries of that liberty, regardless of how strongly you feel about a particular policy or government activity with which you disagree.
If we are to survive as a free society, we must adhere to the rule of law. Mutiny is the complete rejection of the rule of law and the defiance of lawful authority.
I am thankful for the service of the members of IVAW. I am ashamed that former servicemen and women would encourage such behavior.
This is moonbattiness at its ugliest.
Warning to West on 'evil of Islam' | The Australian
THE West was still underestimating the evil of Islam, an influential Muslim thinker has warned, insisting that Australia and the US have been duped into believing there is a difference between the religion's moderate and radical interpretations.
On a two-week "under the radar" visit to Australia, Syrian-born Wafa Sultan secretly met both sides of federal politics and Jewish community leaders, warning them that all Muslims needed to be closely monitored in the West.
In an interview with The Australian, Dr Sultan -- who shot to recognition last year following an interview on al-Jazeera television in which she attacked Islam and the prophet Mohammed -- said Muslims were "brainwashed" from an early age to believe Western values were evil and that the world would one day come under the control of Sharia law.
The US-based psychiatrist -- who has two fatwas (religious rulings) issued against her to be killed -- warned that Muslims would continue to exploit freedom of speech in the West to spread their "hate" and attack their adopted countries, until the Western mind grasped the magnitude of the Islamic threat.
"You're fighting someone who is willing to die," Dr Sultan told The Australian in an Arabic and English interview. "So you have to understand this mentality and find ways to face it. (As a Muslim) your mission on this earth is to fight for Islam and to kill or to be killed. You're here for only a short life and once you kill a kafir, or a non-believer, soon you're going to be united with your God."
Dr Sultan, who was brought to Australia by a group called Multi-Net comprised of Jews and Christians, met senior politicians, including Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Labor deputy leader Julia Gillard.
Private security was hired for Dr Sultan, who left Australia yesterday, and state police authorities were also made aware of her movements in the country.
The organisers of her visit asked the media to not publish anything about her stay until she had left the country because of security-related concerns. Dr Sultan said Islam was a "political ideology" that was wrongly perceived to have a moderate and hardline following.
"That's why the West has to monitor the majority of Muslims because you don't know when they're ready to be activated. Because they share the same basic belief, that's the problem," said the 50-year-old, who was last year featured in Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Dr Sultan, who was raised on Alawite Islamic beliefs before she renounced her religion, began to question Islam after she witnessed her university teacher get gunned down by Muslim hardliners in Syria in 1979.
The mother of three, who migrated to the US in 1989, said the West needed to hold Muslims and their leaders more accountable for the atrocities performed in the name of Islam if they wanted to win the war on terror.
But while she considered the prophet Mohammed "evil" and said the Koran needed to be destroyed because it advocated violence against non-believers, Dr Sultan struggled to articulate her vision for Muslims, whom she said she was trying to liberate from the shackles of their beliefs.
"I believe the only way is to expose the Muslims to different cultures, different thoughts, different belief systems," said Dr Sultan, who is completing her first book, The Escaped Prisoner: When Allah is a Monster.
"Muslims have been hostages of their own belief systems for 1400 years. There is no way we can keep the Koran."
International Herald Tribune
Five gets you eight he holds a press conference and accuses the CIA of torturing him.
Naeem Noor Khan provided intel that led authorities to a Tanzanian who was believed to be one of the conspirators involved in the 1998 African Embassy Bombings. Khan was accused of providing computer and technical support to Al Qaeda, sending encoded emails to operatives believed to be planning attacks in the United States, Britain and Africa.
Twelve days after his arrest, Pakistani authorities pounced in the city of Gujrat on Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, wanted for a alleged role in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Another major change in the period from April through June of 2007 was that press coverage of the war in Iraq declined markedly. Together the three major storylines of the war—the policy debate, events on the ground, and the impact on the U.S. homefront—filled 15% of the total newshole in the quarter, a drop of roughly a third from the first three months of the year, when it filled 22%.
That decrease resulted largely from a decline in coverage of the Washington-based policy debate, which fell 42% from the first to second quarter, once the Democrats failed to impose timetables in legislation funding of the war.
Campaign for President Takes Center Stage in Coverage: Quarterly Report on the News | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)
Well, isn't that something. Since we didn't win the debate, we are taking our ball and going home. The Global War on Terror is the defining foreign policy event of our time. The 2008 Presidential Election is more than 14 months away, and our guys are in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Phillipines and the Horn of Africa, combatting terrorism. But since liberals lost the debate over Iraq policy, the media has decided to shift its focus to the Presidential Election, which is what the whole debate over Iraq was all about, anyway--getting a Democrat in the White House.
Do the mass media even know how they are being used by both the Jihadists and their allies in Washington? No one is that dense on purpose, are they?
The War as We Saw It - New York Times Op/Ed
By BUDDHIKA JAYAMAHA, WESLEY D. SMITH, JEREMY ROEBUCK, OMAR MORA, EDWARD SANDMEIER, YANCE T. GRAY and JEREMY A. MURPHY
Published: August 19, 2007
VIEWED from Iraq at the tail end of a 15-month deployment, the political debate in Washington is indeed surreal. Counterinsurgency is, by definition, a competition between insurgents and counterinsurgents for the control and support of a population. To believe that Americans, with an occupying force that long ago outlived its reluctant welcome, can win over a recalcitrant local population and win this counterinsurgency is far-fetched. As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)
Read the full item.
Blackfive's GRIM takes on the task of addressing the main thrust of the soldiers' views, and does it like a brother is supposed to: Reasonable gentlemen can disagree.
My view is that rightly see that political reform cannot come before peace, but seem to miss how new Army Doctrine (Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency) is being applied in Iraq. While I hold these gentlemen in the highest regard for their service, I get a very strong sense that they either have not fully digested General Petraeus' approach to this conflict, or that they disagree with it.
It is worth noting that not everyone in the Army thinks it should be engaged in conducting a major COIN. At least not with combat brigades lacking the extensive training necessary to conduct the operation as described in Army doctrine.
I would contrast the viewpoints of these soldiers with that of LTC Fred Johnson, who Michael Yon has interviewed during his embed in Iraq. Johnson seems to embody the type of soldier Petraeus had in mind as FM 3-24 took shape. The gentlemen writing in the New York Times don't seem to be.
OpinionJournal - Featured Article
The United States is at last making significant progress against al Qaeda in Iraq--but the road to victory now requires cutting off al Qaeda's road to Iraq through Damascus.
Thanks to Gen. David Petraeus's new counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, and the strength and skill of the American soldiers fighting there, al Qaeda in Iraq is now being routed from its former strongholds in Anbar and Diyala provinces. Many of Iraq's Sunni Arabs, meanwhile, are uniting with us against al Qaeda, alienated by the barbarism and brutality of their erstwhile allies.
As Gen. Petraeus recently said of al Qaeda in Iraq: "We have them off plan."
But defeating al Qaeda in Iraq requires not only that we continue pressing the offensive against its leadership and infrastructure inside the country. We must also aggressively target its links to "global" al Qaeda and close off the routes its foreign fighters are using to get into Iraq.
Recently declassified American intelligence reveals just how much al Qaeda in Iraq is dependent for its survival on the support it receives from the broader, global al Qaeda network, and how most of that support flows into Iraq through one country--Syria. Al Qaeda in Iraq is sustained by a transnational network of facilitators and human smugglers, who replenish its supply of suicide bombers--approximately 60 to 80 Islamist extremists, recruited every month from across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, and sent to meet their al Qaeda handlers in Syria, from where they are taken to Iraq to blow themselves up to kill countless others.
Pajamas Media: How The New Republic Got Suckered
When Pajamas Media heard the authenticity questions surrounding the “Baghdad Diarist” articles by Scott Thomas Beauchamp in The New Republic, we asked our Washington Editor Richard Miniter to look into how the respected opinion magazine could once again be the locus of such a scandal.
Miniter spoke with several people involved in the extraordinary story, including the whistle-blower and a German woman who was Beauchamp’s fiancée until just before he married, of all people, Miniter discovered, a fact-checker at The New Republic. That fiancée said of her former boyfriend, the soldier/reporter: “He hates the army. The only reason he joined was because he wanted to have more experience to write about.”
Pajamas Media says they welcome a response from The New Republic. I won't be holding my breath.
Hillary Clinton in Penis Scandal:
A storm has broken over the campaign of Hillary Clinton for US President when it emerged last night that Mrs. Clinton does not have a penis. A college friend who is now working for the Republican Party revealed the shocking news.
"A group of us were on a hiking trip back in ‘68 and we were up in the hills chatting " explained Kurt Billingsworthski. "Hillary joked that it is OK for us guys to get ‘caught short’, we can stand behind a tree, but you know squatting in long grass isn’t fun if you're not sure what is in there."
Mr Billingsworthski had largely forgotten about the whole incident, until it became clear that Mrs Clinton was to run for election to President.
"Well I felt I just had to come forward and let the people know," he said. "President is such an important job. I know that this is 21st century America, so you know, we have to make sure all types of people get their chance. But this is such a major deformity for any man running for President."
Hillary Clinton has not commented on the matter, but the flames of controversy were further fanned upon news that Hillary was the parent of a child with a similar affliction. There has also been further speculation that Mrs Clinton may also have been born without testes.
"You see, this is it, you are either with penis or without. The American way of life will be threatened if we let people without a penis into a position of power," said Kurt. "All American Presidents have had a penis, just like all the people they represent. It is clear that the record of George W. Bush owes a lot to testes."
Supporters have argued that Mrs Clinton may in fact simply be a woman, a condition said to affect over half of US society. They add that rather than being ostracised people such as Hillary should be welcomed into the mainstream to add their diversity to the richness of American politics.
"That is the kind of unchristian, un-American talk that we are fighting everyday in this war on terror!" screamed Mr Billingsworthski. "These heathen people want to destroy our way of life – they want to ruin our Eden once more by giving a woman power. As a good Republican I know that, as sure as the earth is 6,000 years old, politics should only be conducted with a penis."
FOXNews.com: Hijacker Received Al Qaeda Training
ANKARA, Turkey — One of the hijackers of a Turkish plane received training at an Al Qaeda camp and wanted to be flown to Iran so he could eventually join Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported Monday, citing police.
Authorities didn't say at which Al Qaeda camp 33-year-old hijacker Mommen Abdul Aziz Talikh, an Egyptian of Palestinian origin, received training.
Police said Talikh, along with Mehmet Resat Ozlu of Turkey, wielded a fake bomb and claimed Al Qaeda ties when hijacking the plane early Saturday after it took off from northern Cyprus. The pair held passengers and crew hostage for more than four hours before surrendering peacefully at the Turkish Mediterranean resort Antalya, where the plane had been diverted after taking off.
Dozens of Turks have joined Al Qaeda in Afghanistan or Iraq, police have said. Suicide bombers linked to Al Qaea hit Istanbul in 2003, killing 58 people in attacks that targeted two synagogues, the British Consulate and a British bank. In February, a court sentenced seven people to life in prison for the bombings.
The two hijackers had met in northern Cyprus a year ago and were living together at the same house for a month, police said. Ozlu was registered at the literature department of a university in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in northern Cyprus, Anatolia said.
And threatens to "punch" U.S. "harder..."
AND is reportedly shelling areas in northeastern Iraq.
A senior Iranian official says Iran is equipped with modern surface-to-surface and land-to-sea missiles to counter extraterritorial threat.
"Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) is a major power in the Middle East," Major Gen. Yahya Rahim-Safavi, the Commander of the IRGC told the state Jam-e Jam TV network.
Safavi said Iran is equipped with the state-of-the-art military technology to safeguard the nation's interests.
"Of course we have changed our military doctrine and strategies after the US-led invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan," he said according to a report by Press TV on Friday.
IRGC is equipped with 2,000km range guided surface-to-surface Ballistic missiles and surface-to-air Tor-M1 anti-missile system, said the official.
Safavi said the Iranian surface-to-sea missiles can fire any target in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman and that no boat or warship can evade the missiles.
Iran has trained some 12,000,000 volunteer (Basij) forces, organized in 2500 battalions known as 'Ashura'.
Safavi also praised IRGC's Ground Force capabilities, saying the Iranian anti-tank missiles can penetrate into the Israeli Merkava and US-made Abraham tanks.
“We believe in our military might and we are concerned with the establishment of peace and stability in the Middle East,” he said.
Meanwhile, today from the Kurdish region of northeastern Iraq comes this report:
Iraqi Kurdish officials expressed deepening concern yesterday at an upsurge in fierce clashes between Kurdish guerrillas and Iranian forces in the remote border area of north-east Iraq, where Tehran has recently deployed thousands of Revolutionary Guards.
Jabar Yawar, a deputy minister in the Kurdistan regional government, said four days of intermittent shelling by Iranian forces had hit mountain villages high up on the Iraqi side of the border, wounding two women, destroying livestock and property, and displacing about 1,000 people from their homes. Mr Yawer said there had also been intense fighting on the Iraqi border between Iranian forces and guerrillas of the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), an armed Iranian Kurdish group that is stepping up its campaign for Kurdish rights against the theocratic regime in Tehran.
On Saturday the Iranian news agency Mehr said an Iranian army helicopter which crashed killing six Republican Guard members had been engaged in a military operation against PJAK. Iranian officials said the helicopter had crashed into the side of a mountain during bad weather in northern Iraq. PJAK sources said the helicopter had been destroyed after it attempted to land in a clearing mined by guerrillas. The PJAK sources claimed its guerrillas had also killed at least five other Iranian soldiers, and a local pro-regime chief, Hussein Bapir.
This is not shrill rhetoric or idle sabre rattling anymore. I have to ask if Ahmadinejad and his merry band of mullahs like having signs on their backs that say "KICK THE SHIT OUT OF ME!"
Sunday, August 19, 2007
‘Little Saddam’ hunt - Times Online: "Interpol has issued a “wanted” notice for Saddam Hussein’s eldest daughter, who is sought by the Iraqi government for aiding insurgents. Raghad Hussein, 38, who is known as Little Saddam, is accused by Baghdad of the mass killing of Iraqis by funding terrorist groups. Her mother Sadija has also been placed on the wanted list. Raghad has been living in Jordan under the protection of King Abdullah since the American invasion in 2003. Her mother lives in Qatar. Interpol’s “red notice” requests foreign police forces to help find them and extradite them. If returned to Iraq, Raghad could face execution. The husbands of Raghad and her sister Rana were executed after they returned in 1996 from exile in Jordan, where they had fled with Iraqi military secrets."
Iranian agents training militias in Iraq: U.S. general:
"BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. intelligence reports indicate there are about 50 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards training Shi'ite militias in how to use mortars and rockets in southern Iraq, a U.S. general said on Sunday."
"The enemy is ramping up indirect fire attacks. The enemy is more aggressive. The great concern is about the Iranian munitions he is using," Lynch told reporters in Baghdad.
"We have some members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. They are facilitating training of Shi'ite extremists. In my battle space ... we think there are about 50 members."
Fuck the denials from the "Tehran Bureau."
Counterterrorism Blog: CAIR's Legal Gambit (and another Graph)
Another outstanding analysis from the Counterterrorism Blog. Aaron Mannes, from the University of Maryland, provides graphical information on the network of Hamas and its funding organizations. Insightful, keen, and a picture worth 1,000 words, +1.
UPDATE: Click the image below for the full resolution of Mannes' graph. For a patient explanation of what the graph shows, please follow the link above. Be patient, and follow the bouncing ball.
Outstanding work. Just outstanding.
The Thunder Run: Concerned Citizens: A Step Toward Self-Reliance
A very nice post from someone reading the news from the same perspective of local reconciliation, without any prompting, prodding, arm twisting, bribery or cajolement from me.
Touring with Gen. Petraeus (The Fourth Rail)
Wes Morgan continues his day with Gen. Petraeus at Camp Taji, joint security stations near Husseiniyah and Tarmiyah, and his embassy offices.
Wes Morgan is a talented writer, currently embedded in Iraq at the invitation of General Petraeus. Bill Roggio publishes select dispatches from Wes from time to time at Fourth Rail.
Pat Dollard | Young Americans | Rank Propaganda From Donkey Island
I was working on a post about this, but Pat does it better than I ever could. "Vicious Battle?" Only if you're on the receiving end of the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment.
The Washington Post's credibility as a straight up news source comes under serious question when stories like this are taken serious enough to be published. Either they are out of touch, or they are just throwing off any further cloaks of objectivity with junk like this.
BAGHDAD — Iraqi and Coalition forces are pursuing extremist leaders in Iraq’s remote areas in coordinated “quick strikes” launched this week, the commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq told Pentagon reporters Saturday.
Multi-National Force - Iraq - Odierno highlights Iraqi operations.
It may be too early for this question, but it begs to be asked nonetheless: Has the Sunni insurgency been defeated? The signs are preliminary but promising. Clearly, Al Qaeda in Iraq is no longer a serious threat to plunge Iraq into full scale civil war. They can still pull off the occasional spectacular car or truck bombing, but their ability to incite the sectarian bloodbath of 2006 has been greatly diminished by Operation Phantom Thunder and the turning of Sunni tribes against Al Qaeda.
In Balance of Terror, freelance journalist Michael Totten explains the delicate balance that is the relative peace of Baghdad today. He also describes the paradox of civilian dual alliances within the Shi'a community. Many civilians support Moqtada al-Sadr's and his Mahdi Army, which includes the violent Jaish al-Mahdi, the Shiite militia group blamed for much of that sect's insurgent and sectarian violence. But at the same time, they are openly friendly with coalition troops and Totten believes that if that friendliness were faked, someone would be shooting at Americans (and, they're not). Totten expresses some confusion over that. However, it bears noting that JAM militia groups were the ones who pledged to protect Shiite civilians from Sunni insurgent attacks and the horrors of Al Qaeda control. In the chaos of immediate post-Saddam Iraq, Shiite militias did what they said they would do. It makes sense for the Shi'a to bear some allegiance to those who fought for them. But as the Mahdi Army melted into the background for Operation Phantom Thunder, coalition troops stepped forward and took on the role of protector and guardian against Al Qaeda and Sunni militias. The same rule applies--the enemy of my enemy...
Coalition counterinsurgents are now seeing more attacks from JAM and Shiite insurgents. These dual allegiances may be sorely tested in the coming months. Iraqi Security forces, who are majority Shiite, may find themselves barrel to barrel with members of the Mahdi Army, a group many ISF and their families sympathize with. It seems, at least for now, that the counterinsurgency is about to make a turn, and the territory it is about to enter is fraught with risk.
Nouri al-Maliki is a Shiite, and has been accused of sectarian bias by his critics. He is backed by by Grand Ayatolla Ali al-Sistani, who himself has close ties to Iran. Maliki also enjoys at least tolerance by Moqtada al-Sadr. As the counterinsurgency shifts more to dealing with Shiite militias, the political friction is certain to heat things up.
Totten learns that the coalition believes al-Sadr can be "flipped." They are, at least for now, holding out for that possibility. While al-Sistani holds a deeply religious connection to Tehran, al-Sadr's connections are about money and power. He's the Shiite political equivalent of a mafia don. Alliances are not personal; they're just business.
All of this must also be seen in the context of "all politics is local." Tribal and family ties are the fabric of Arabic culture. Contrary to the belief of many westerners, those ties can transcend religion. They are al-something first, and al-something last, whether they be Sunni, Shia or Iraqi in between.
"Flipping" al-Sadr could be as easy as showing his followers that we have their interests in mind as liberators. It could be as difficult as undermining his support by neutralizing his militias and simply outdoing him in the humanitarian arena. This of course begs another question: With the Sunni insurgency marginalized, Al Qaeda all but defeated and the counterinsurgency turning to address Shiite militias, how do we blunt the influence of Iran?
Interesting times lie ahead.
Badger 6 blogs on the NYT article, discussing the situation on the ground at Fallujah and the future of that city after Americans eventually leave.
Badgers Forward: Falluja Post-Bellum Concerns.
Badger 6 points out that sectarian tensions are not as much of an issue in Fallujah as in other locales. The Mayor is Sunni. The tribes are Sunni. He also gives a good "boots on the ground" perspective on an article from a publication that we have all long learned to read with a grain of salt the size of the Ziggurat.
Dr. Donald Douglas blogs:
I picked up a copy of Lee Harris' new book yesterday, The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam's Threat to the West. I've just read the preface thus far, but I thought I'd share a blurb from the book jacket with readers. This is what John McWhorter had to say about the volume:
Once again Lee Harris throws cold water on thinking Americans' tendency to view Islamist terrorists as noble freedom fighters in the vein of black Americans during the civil rights movement or East Timorese throwing off the Indonesian yoke. Harris understands that we are faced with an ememy who seeks not reasoned negotiation but the destruction of the Western way of life, and that holding to self-critical, multi-culti pieties during this crisis will spell self-sabotage.Read the full post here.
Dr. Douglas praises Harris as an author who refuses to buy into the anti-American rhetoric of the radical left, and who refuses to let his readers do the same. I steadfastly agree. Harris' work should be on a short list for those of us in the real world.