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Archive for the ‘war’ Category

As Iran becomes a nuclear state, it appears the people there are looking for more help with their economic plights. From the Telegraph.co.uk:

When Iran fuels Western alarm over its nuclear ambitions – as it did again yesterday with orders to start construction of new uranium enrichment plants – it has in the past been able to count on widespread domestic support. Even critics and opponent of the regime led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have stood up for Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology. However there is now increasing resentment that the once popular nuclear programme could be detracting from more urgent needs in the face of economic mismanagement and sanctions.

Today Dennis Miller on his radio show identified our latest round of sanctions: we will no longer permit Iran to receive blue-ray dvd’s from Netflix.

So I guess we hope will pull the plug on their nuclear ambitions due to these economic pressures, sanctions come down, and happy days are here again. Not so fast. Per Mark Steyn at National Review online, North Korea is fast on the nuke trail and they don’t even have an economy. All it takes is an plutonium fisted leader and let’s roll down the nuclear highway. Don’t be fooled, Iran is not backing off one bit in their quest for nuclear power regardless of their economy.

I believe the US is no longer trying to prevent Iran from obtaining these weapons, and have gone into containment mode, and we are running some kind of 4-corner offense – wait, basketball is over – we are running a penalty kill on a 5 minute major, except the clock isn’t running. Ahmadinejad doesn’t care, he’s still on offense, and we’re a man down.

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OK, I’m just as happy seeing al-Awlaqi meet his maker and however many virgins.  But, for those of us who did take the whole FISA debate seriously, and that whole due process rigamarole that the Bill of Rights blathers on about, and as someone who felt the sting of the sarcasm embodied in the bumpersticker wisdom of “Go Ahead, Take My Rights; I Wasn’t Using Them Anyway” I just wanted to ask: where are all the Lefties on this?  I mean, this is a guy who actually IS an American.  Has he been tried, even in absentia?  What about “guilty until proven innocent?”  What about Miranda? Oh, I see.  That only works for Nigerian Jihadis who have had the great good fortune to land mostly intact on American soil, even if that wasn’t the plan (Philo- you’re the music guy- can we have Abumutallab’s theme, “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire” cued up?)

Where is the ACLU? Has anyone uttered a peep about this? Is all the angst about rendition spent and we have none to spare for the imminent smithereenhood of an American citizen?  Isn’t vaporization somewhat worse than waterboarding or getting the Quran wet?

And I’m not asking rhetorically here.  I really don’t think we should be assassinating American citizens by executive order.  There should be a trial, in absentia, and if found guilty of say, treason (huh- that has a nice old fashioned ring to it, doesn’t it?) he should be stripped of his American citizenship.

You know, Roman justice was pretty brutal, but one of the perks of citizenship was that you had the privilege of being beheaded if you were to be executed.

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NYT Mag: Grotesque

Do you take the Sunday NYT?  I do, or rather, my husband does.  He’s still living in the pre-cable, pre-talk radio world where you simply assume that the NYT is balanced because William Safire and David Brooks are on the editorial page, and if you want some really conservative reading, there’s always the Wall Street Journal.  Several years ago, I complained that Frank Rich had expended another 4,000 words in the “Arts and Culture” section on Dick Cheney and Enron.  My husband’s response, “He’s just a critic.  No one cares.”  To which I said, “He’s editorializing and unlike you, everyone else who reads the NYT reads the “Arts and Culture” section.”  Less than a month later, Frank Rich was MOVED to the Editorial Page.  Let’s just say I suffer.

Today, hubby and I finally agreed on something with respect to the NYT: what they did today in their magazine was grotesque.  When you open this glossy mag, you expect to see, among other things, real estate offerings that stretch the definition of opulence.  Condos that cost more than most people make in a lifetime.  Luxury and artistry and fabulousness of abode, furnishings and style that boggle the imagination.  One ad caught my eye: a full-floor, 6 bedroom, 6-1/2 bath, 6800 sq. ft. condo in a pre-war building on West End Ave.  $25 million.

Then there was  a feature about “unusual” homes- one carved out of the side of a cliff, one in a converted church in England.  Truly fabulous, beautiful, intriguing.  What all the ads and the feature have in common, though, is that these are homes of people who have lots and lots of extra dough.  You’d need to, for the taxes, the maids, the furnishings, the heating bills (that church is a bitch to heat, I’ll bet.)  It’s the kind of moneyed opulence that I can barely imagine, and would actively eschew if I suddenly came into $100 million.

But, in the middle of all this, literally in the middle, was a feature on the art of one Karina Lau, whose project is a series of black and white photographs entitled, “The Shrine Down the Hall.”

The rooms depicted were humble enough, but the subtext, that people who had very little materially, had lost monumental treasure, seems to be completely lost on the NYT.

There’s an essay here, about the series of photographs that fall under the NYT’s category of “War Memorial,” about the editorial decision to put that series of photographs in the middle of the glossy paean to super wealth, super style, super materialistic Upper East Side Elite “We’re Practically Europe” New York As Center of the World.  About the New York Times relentless “framing” of war as a something our kind doesn’t do- we go to Davos, we engage, we are smart.  War is really bad mostly because all wars are like Vietnam and are promulgated by presidents we hate (even if you have to twist history a bit to get that to come out right: Nixon, not LBJ or St. Jack of Camelot, is responsible for the worst bits of the National Tragedy that was Vietnam) and fought by knuckle-dragging rubes from the hinterland who have flunked out of high school and have no options.  Not our kind.

I don’t think that I have what it takes to do an exhaustive comment on this, but just off the top of my head, I will say that I found the pictures themselves to be rather sterile, unmoving.  They reminded me more than anything of the aesthetic of the Vietnam memorial, which reflects the view that lives lost in war are a personal tragedy and have no greater meaning because everyone knows that war is a mistake, that war is always a craven enterprise meant to line the pockets of Halliburton, Brown & Root, Exxon, and Dick Cheney.  That war is not the answer, you dopes, didn’t you learn that on Sesame Street?  It reflects the entirely elitist viewpoint that only suckers are patriotic to the point of actually fighting for their country, but they should be pitied for all that.

Dear New York Times Magazine, Pinch, Frank, et al.: Stuff your pity.

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Sad news from Texas.

I loved Charlie Wilson’s War.

Best quote: “You know you’ve reached rock bottom when you’re told you have character flaws by a man who hanged his predecessor in a military coup.”

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Pirates Save Israel?

There are reports that Somali pirates, by hijacking an Iranian vessel and then mysteriously becoming ill and dying of radiation poisoning, prevented a plot to detonate a ship full of radioactive sand off the coast of Israel.

Within a period of three days, those pirates who had boarded the ship and opened the cargo container with its gritty sand-like contents, all developed strange health complications, to include serious skin burns and loss of hair. And within two weeks, sixteen of the pirates subsequently died, either on the ship or on shore… …At this writing, the MV Iran Deyanat is at anchor, watched closely by American, French and Russian naval units.

[Russian sources claim she] was an enormous floating dirty bomb, intended to detonate after exiting the Suez Canal at the eastern end of the Mediterranean and in proximity to the coastal cities of Israel. The entire cargo of radioactive sand, obtained by Iran from China (the latter buys desperately needed oil from the former) and sealed in containers which, when the charges on the ship are set off after the crew took to the boats, will be blasted high into the air where prevailing winds will push the highly dangerous and radioactive cloud ashore.

Given the large number of deaths from the questing Somali pirates, it should be obvious that when the contents of the ship’s locked cargo containers finally descended onto the land, the death toll would be enormous. This ship was nothing more nor less than the long-anticipated Iranian attack on Israel.

The latest reports are, however, that the Iranians have negotiated the release of the ship. U.S. sources aren’t talking.

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This week a bipartisan group of Senators introduced a resolution “recognizing the strategic success of the troop surge in Iraq” that “commends and expresses the gratitude to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces for the service, sacrifices, and heroism that made the success of the troop surge in Iraq possible.” Of course, the Democratic leadership was in opposition. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin blocked a vote on it. The Wall Street Journal explains:

The reality is that success in Iraq has confounded the political left, which placed a huge political bet on our defeat. Senator Reid famously declared the war lost in April 2007. Joe Biden introduced a resolution opposing the surge. And Hillary Clinton said the reports of progress in Iraq required “a willing suspension of disbelief.” In the Democratic narrative, our troops in Iraq are victims of a lost cause, not heroes. They’re allowed to get maimed and killed, but not to succeed.

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Francis Beckwith and Meryl Yourish have details on how the Democrats have played hardball to prevent Sarah Palin from showing up at a protest of Iran. I like David Bernstein‘s comment best:

Let me get this straight: if the only prominent American politician to attend a rally against Iran is Hillary Clinton, the rally is a neutral, nonpartisan event. If Hillary Clinton AND Sarah Palin attend, then the rally becomes a partisan political event, and Clinton couldn’t possibly agree to appear. Very, very strange.

UPDATE: A reader comments: What’s the difference between [Malcolm] Hoenlein [who invited Palin, and then disinvited her under pressure from Democratic activists] and Ahmadinejad?

Ahmadinejad isn’t intimidated by the Democrats.

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One thousand two hundred ninety years ago today, the forces of Islam met their first major defeat—one that saved Western civilization. Here is Edward Gibbon’s account. Strong defenses, unity with the Bulgarians, Greek fire, and a harsh winter saved the day.

At length, after a siege of thirteen months, the hopeless Moslemah received from the caliph the welcome permission of retreat. The march of the Arabian cavalry over the Hellespont and through the provinces of Asia, was executed without delay or molestation; but an army of their brethren had been cut in pieces on the side of Bithynia, and the remains of the fleet were so repeatedly damaged by tempest and fire, that only five galleys [out of over 2,000] entered the port of Alexandria to relate the tale of their various and almost incredible disasters.

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The Empire Strikes Back

I guess history didn’t end after all. Russia’s appalling attack on Georgia demonstrates how unprepared we are to defend the post-Cold-War independence of former USSR republics. John McCain gave an excellent speech on Georgia; Austin Bay has worthwhile reflections. Melik Kaylan points out the strategic significance of Georgia. The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, gives some sensible policy advice:

Much as it respects and owes Georgia, the U.S. is not going to war with Russia over a non-NATO ally. But there are forceful diplomatic and economic responses at its disposal. Expelling Russia from the G-8 group of democracies, as John McCain has suggested, is one. Barring Russia’s long desired entry into the World Trade Organization is another. Russian leaders should also be told that their financial assets held abroad aren’t off limits to sanction. And Moscow should know that the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi on the Black Sea are in jeopardy. A country that starts a war on the weekend the Beijing Olympics began doesn’t deserve such an honor.

The Georgian people also deserve U.S. support. One way to demonstrate that would be a “Tbilisi airlift,” ferrying military and humanitarian supplies to the Georgian capital, which is currently cut off by Russian troops from its Black Sea port. Secretary of State Rice or Defense Secretary Robert Gates should be in one of the first planes. After the fighting ends, the U.S. can lead the recovery effort. And since the Russians are demanding his ouster, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili deserves U.S. support too.

Putting things in a broader context, this might not be a bad time to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities that have been built with Russian help.

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John McCain’s editorial on Iraq, that is. Here it is:

In January 2007, when General David Petraeus took command in Iraq, he called the situation “hard” but not “hopeless.” Today, 18 months later, violence has fallen by up to 80% to the lowest levels in four years, and Sunni and Shiite terrorists are reeling from a string of defeats. The situation now is full of hope, but considerable hard work remains to consolidate our fragile gains.

Progress has been due primarily to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Senator Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent. “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there,” he said on January 10, 2007. “In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

Now Senator Obama has been forced to acknowledge that “our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence.” But he still denies that any political progress has resulted.

Perhaps he is unaware that the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, “Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” Even more heartening has been progress that’s not measured by the benchmarks. More than 90,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis who once fought against the government, have signed up as Sons of Iraq to fight against the terrorists. Nor do they measure Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s new-found willingness to crack down on Shiite extremists in Basra and Sadr City—actions that have done much to dispel suspicions of sectarianism.

The success of the surge has not changed Senator Obama’s determination to pull out all of our combat troops. All that has changed is his rationale. In a New York Times op-ed and a speech this week, he offered his “plan for Iraq” in advance of his first “fact finding” trip to that country in more than three years. It consisted of the same old proposal to pull all of our troops out within 16 months. In 2007 he wanted to withdraw because he thought the war was lost. If we had taken his advice, it would have been. Now he wants to withdraw because he thinks Iraqis no longer need our assistance.

To make this point, he mangles the evidence. He makes it sound as if Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed the Obama timetable, when all he has said is that he would like a plan for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops at some unspecified point in the future.

Senator Obama is also misleading on the Iraqi military’s readiness. The Iraqi Army will be equipped and trained by the middle of next year, but this does not, as Senator Obama suggests, mean that they will then be ready to secure their country without a good deal of help. The Iraqi Air Force, for one, still lags behind, and no modern army can operate without air cover. The Iraqis are also still learning how to conduct planning, logistics, command and control, communications, and other complicated functions needed to support frontline troops.

No one favors a permanent U.S. presence, as Senator Obama charges. A partial withdrawal has already occurred with the departure of five “surge” brigades, and more withdrawals can take place as the security situation improves. As we draw down in Iraq, we can beef up our presence on other battlefields, such as Afghanistan, without fear of leaving a failed state behind. I have said that I expect to welcome home most of our troops from Iraq by the end of my first term in office, in 2013.

But I have also said that any draw-downs must be based on a realistic assessment of conditions on the ground, not on an artificial timetable crafted for domestic political reasons. This is the crux of my disagreement with Senator Obama.

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. During the course of eight visits to Iraq, I have heard many times from our troops what Major General Jeffrey Hammond, commander of coalition forces in Baghdad, recently said: that leaving based on a timetable would be “very dangerous.”

The danger is that extremists supported by Al Qaeda and Iran could stage a comeback, as they have in the past when we’ve had too few troops in Iraq. Senator Obama seems to have learned nothing from recent history. I find it ironic that he is emulating the worst mistake of the Bush administration by waving the “Mission Accomplished” banner prematurely.

I am also dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it. But if we don’t win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president. Instead I will continue implementing a proven counterinsurgency strategy not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan with the goal of creating stable, secure, self-sustaining democratic allies.

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