Social, political commentary not from the dark side, but from the brighter side
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Unless otherwise attributed, opinions expressed here are mine alone.
-- Ger Spaulding
RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES AND MATURITY
SEPARATING LIBERALS FROM CONSERVATIVES
OBAMA'S IDIOTIC POSITION ON THE GROUND ZERO MOSQUE
IRAQ: WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE
THE LESSON OF 9/11 (Plus rare WTC photos)
NO PROGRESS IN IRAQ?
"EXIT STRATEGY" AN IRRELEVANT TERM
OPEN LETTER TO DEMOCRATS AND THE LIBERAL MEDIA
NECESSITY OF PRE-EMPTIVE DEFENSE
RIGHT OR WRONG DIRECTION
MY FIRST LETTER TO CONDI
WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR 9/11?
Myth of the 2000 Presidential Election
To the widow of Wang Wei:
"PURPLE PEOPLE EATER" (author's footnote)
Beheading of Nick Berg
OLD BLUE EYES SINGS "STRANGERS ON MY FLIGHT"
RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITIES AND MATURITY
Congratulations, student demonstrators, for having duly learned all about your right of free speech, one of the many rights we enjoy as Americans.
Now go back to your political science text books and find the chapter about responsibilities—such as the moral responsibility incumbent upon free citizens to fully inform themselves on important public policy issues.
Enjoy the exercise of your newly discovered rights. Just keep in mind that you still have much to learn. You might begin the process by vigorously challenging those teachers or professors who attempt to bend you to their liberal political biases. To simply accept such biases without skepticism—and to adopt them as your own—is to remain uninformed and falls far short of meeting your responsibilities as either citizens or students.
And maybe if you keep studying, you’ll come across a morsel of wisdom often attributed to Winston Churchill: “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.”
SEPARATING LIBERALS FROM CONSERVATIVES
By Mike Rosen
From his column in the Rocky Mountain News several
Before someone tells me where he stands, it's usually instructive to know where he sits. Beliefs, values and philosophy, I find, are often more important criteria when assessing a candidate than his positions on particular issues. The details of the issues will change. When they do, individuals will be guided by their beliefs - if they have any.
Ideological labels are a sort of shorthand for gauging those beliefs. Labels have their limitations, to be sure, but they can also be fairly accurate reflections of past performance and good predictors of future behavior. I've observed that those who protest the loudest about being labeled often have the most to hide.
There are plenty of definitions going around. A liberal is one who will give you the shirt off of someone else's back. A conservative is someone who doesn't want anything done for the first time. Liberals don't care what you do as long as it's mandatory. Leonard Peikoff described liberalism as ``A cry from one heart to another, bypassing any intermediary, such as the brain.'' In Bonfire of the Vanities, a novel that transports the reader through a horrific odyssey of New York's criminal justice system, Tom Wolfe defines a liberal as a conservative who's been arrested. Then there are neo-conservatives: former liberals who are now conservatives. And neo-liberals: former liberals who are still liberal. I like Irving Kristol's explanation: ``A neo-conservative is a liberal who's been mugged by reality. A neo-liberal is a liberal who's been mugged by reality but has refused to press charges.''
There is no perfect definition of liberal and conservative. Most thinking people have tendencies, but there's always room for exceptions. Although I regard myself as a conservative in the contemporary use of that term, I'm a liberal in the original sense - a classical liberal - in the tradition of Locke, Hume, Burke and Adam Smith. Back then, ``liberal'' connoted individual liberty. Earlier this century, no less a Democrat than Woodrow Wilson observed that, “The history of liberalism is the history of man's efforts to restrain the growth of government.” This was before Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal.
Obviously, the definition has changed. Today's liberals have so sullied the term that even they shy away from it, preferring euphemisms like ``progressive.'' (By that they mean “progress” on the road to socialism.) If this is too abstract, here are a few practical distinctions:
* Conservatives believe in individual freedom and responsibility. Liberals believe in sacrificing individual freedom for socially desirable outcomes. Liberals believe that one of government's primary roles is social engineering.
* Conservatives believe in limited government. Liberals believe in intrusive government when required to achieve societal needs. (Exception: social-issues conservatives advocate government intrusion on matters of abortion, drugs and pornography.)
* Conservatives believe in free markets. Liberals believe in government controls and central planning.
* Conservatives believe that some problems have no solution, that they can only be mitigated at best. Liberals believe that most every problem has a government solution.
* Conservatives are concerned about the production of wealth. Liberals are concerned about the redistribution of it.
* Conservatives believe in equality of opportunity. Liberals believe in equality of outcome.
* Conservatives believe that human nature is what makes us imperfectible. Liberals believe that human nature can be changed and perfected.
* Conservatives are nationalists. Liberals hope for world government.
* Conservatives believe in peace through strength. Liberals believe in peace through cooperation and good will.
OBAMA'S IDIOTIC POSITION ON THE MOSQUE NEAR GROUND ZERO
Obama’s remarks on the question of whether an Islamic mosque should be built only two blocks from the perimeter of “Ground Zero” demonstrate that, in addition to being an economic, geo-political and national security idiot, he is also a civil policy idiot. He did so by employing a favorite tactic of liberals – and one of the fundamental elements of propaganda – by first creating a “straw man” and then attacking it.
In this case, the straw man he created was the false issue of freedom of religion. The propriety of building a mosque/cultural center near Ground Zero has nothing whatever to do with freedom of religion. No one is attempting to prohibit or interfere with Muslims’ freedom to practice their religion, which they are free to do in an infinite number of other places. But even if this were a freedom of religion issue, none of our freedoms is absolute or unlimited. We have freedom of speech, but we do not have the right to maliciously yell “fire” in a crowded theater or to incite a riot. This particular exercise of one of our basic rights would stretch that right into the forbidden crowded theater territory for two reasons: (1) The likelihood of a violent reaction to erecting the proposed structure so near ground zero; and (2) the potential for Islamic fanatics to use its presence there for propaganda purposes.
Regarding the mosque’s propaganda potential, imagine side-by-side before and after photos, the first of the burning World Trade Center buildings and the second an aerial view showing the mosque having risen from the ruble of those now non-existent buildings – a symbolic victory of Islam over the decadent West, exactly the sort of grist Islamic radicals seek and love to trumpet.
Regrettably, Obama is tone deaf to all of this. Instead, he opens up his liberal play book and employs the straw man tactic once again when speaking last night before a Muslim audience at a dinner honoring Ramadan.
While he had the play book open to this well worn page, Obama decided to also use the straw man propaganda technique to attack Republicans for undermining Social Security by “pushing to privatize” it. The fact is, President Bush once proposed establishing personal Social Security accounts and allowing account holders to invest their money in conservative, government-approved investment vehicles. This proposal was a far cry from privatizing Social Security and Bush took meticulous care to avoid using the term “privatize” or characterizing his plan as privatization. Unfortunately, other Republicans and conservative commentators never understood the distinction and, through semantic infiltration, became unwitting stooges in helping Democrats advance their anti-privatization straw man. Because these Republicans were too dense to understand Bush’s proposal and, therefore, were unable to explain it to their constituents, they failed to support it and it died on the vine. Only recently has Rep Paul Ryan reintroduced the notion of personal (not private) accounts. None of these facts stood in the way of Obama today falsely accusing Republicans of pushing to privatize Social Security.
Something similar happened with regard to Bush’s 2006 immigration reform proposal. All things considered, it was the perfect plan. But egotistical opportunists like Tom Tancredo killed it by trumpeting a no-prisoners approach to immigration reform that never had a chance to get off the ground. That left the McCain-Kennedy amnesty plan as the only proposed legislation on the table. Fortunately it also failed to get off the ground. But for Tancredo, Bush’s much better plan may have had a chance back in 2006-7. And now we’re facing Obama’s version of immigration reform, which is likely to make McCain-Kennedy look good by comparison.
The straw man technique, which Obama must have learned in law school, has become his stock in trade. He uses it almost daily to blame Bush for his own failures. Another example is his constant refrain that Bush economic policies caused our current recession. Strange how he never says just which policies he means or how these unspecified policies caused the recession. Never mind, those who employ the straw man propaganda technique can’t be bothered with facts, because no one ever demands further explanation.
IRAQ: WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE?
A number of myths about the Iraq war persist and even some of those who support it have become victims of "semantic infiltration." That is, they have begun to adopt opponents' oft-repeated phraseology, such as "Iraq did not attack us on 9/11," "we invaded because of faulty intelligence," or "Iraq was not a threat to the United States." Others have begun to inch toward the opponents' position by saying things like, "Even if we went into Iraq by mistake, the issue now is where do we go from here?'
Well, guess what, sports fans, We did not invade Iraq by mistake, or because of faulty intelligence, or because Iraq was an imminent threat to the United States or because Iraq had anything to do with 9/11 (which it did not). Nevertheless, invading Iraq was not only the right thing to do, it was essential that we do it.
Click on the link below to see a Power Point presentation on what Iraq is all about.
THE LESSON OF 9/11
Sept 13, 2001 pictures you've probably never seen. As you view these, recall President Bush standing in the midst of this rubble, personally consoling thousands of grieving loved ones of WTC victims, and it's easy to appreciate why he more than anyone in the world understands the foremost lesson of 9/11 and why he is so committed to trying to prevent the next one. Those who assert that the Iraq war is not really part of the worldwide war on terror but merely a diversion from it fail to understand the lesson of 9/11. That lesson makes it clear that pre-emptive regime change in Iraq was absolutely essential.
Why we invaded Iraq
First, we did not invade Iraq:
Because of faulty intelligence;
In order to create a democracy;
Because Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator;
For purposes of imperialism;
Because Iraq had anything to do with 9/11;
To retaliate for 9/11;
To retaliate for the attempted assassination of former president Bush;
For the enrichment of Halliburton;
We invaded Iraq precisely because of WMD – to eliminate whatever residuals existed and to thwart Hussein’s intended procurement of new ones. Our clearly expressed goal was to prevent a nuclear or chemical 9/11 against the United States—or Israel or any other nation—by Saddam Hussein, a predictably ruthless, self-declared sponsor of terrorism. Pre-emptive regime change in Iraq was the only sure way of achieving that goal.
Sanctions had utterly failed. By gaming the Oil for Food Program, and with the complicity of our so-called allies in the UN, Iraq was accruing billions for the declared purpose of rejuvenating its WMD programs—nuclear weapons in particular—and thus was a serious gathering threat to the security of the region and the West. As President Bush said repeatedly prior to invading Iraq, the primary lesson of 9/11 is that we must deal with gathering threats before they become imminent threats. Had we not removed Saddam Hussein from power, in short order Iraq would have become a more immediate threat as Iran and Korea are today with respect to nuclear weapons.
Once we toppled the Iraqi government, it became our moral and legal responsibility to assist the Iraqi people in establishing a government of their choosing and to help them grow a military and police force. This is why we are still in Iraq today, even though it could be argued that the war there was over long ago. As President Bush has often said, “We will leave when Iraq is able to govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself.”
Contrary to being a diversion from the World War on Terrorism, Iraq is the essence of it.
CAPT, USN (Ret)
Those proclaiming no progress in Iraq must have one eye closed
If you rely exclusively on the usual myopic press coverage of Iraq by the major media, you might accept the assertion that we have made “no progress” there. In fact—because of the presence of U.S. forces—political progress in Iraq has been profound, despite the best efforts of insurgents to disrupt it and the media to ignore it. The timeline of significant political events speaks for itself:
9 Apr 2003. Hussein’s government toppled.
1 May 2003. Major combat ends. Coalition occupation begins.
6 May 2003. State Department’s Paul Bremer takes charge of reconstruction.
22 May 2003. UN lifts economic sanctions and backs US-led administration.
13 Jul 2003. Iraq Governing Council meets for first time to begin drafting a new constitution.
16 Oct 2003. UN backs US plan for Iraq’s political future.
15 Nov 2003. IGC announces that Coalition will hand over power to a transitional government by Jun 2004.
13 Dec 2003. US troops capture Saddam Hussein.
1 Mar 2004. IGC agrees on interim constitution, including Bill of Rights.
28 May 2004. Interim PM named.
8 Jun 2004. UN resolution backs power transfer, end of formal occupation on 30 June, authorizes multinational force and gives Iraqis control over their oil revenues.
28 Jun 2004. US transfers sovereignty to interim government, which is sworn in hours later. Formal occupation of Iraq ends.
18 Aug 2004. National Assembly members chosen.
22 Nov 2004. Date for general elections set by National Assembly.
30 Jan 2005. Iraqis vote in first multi-party election in 50 years.
15 Oct 2005. Iraqis vote in referendum to approve new constitution.
19 Oct 2005. Saddam Hussein goes on trial in Baghdad.
15 Dec 2005. General election to elect 275-member permanent Iraqi National Assembly.
27 Apr 2006. New Prime Minister nominated allowing formation of a permanent government, which many say will mark, not the end of a political process, but rather the birth of an Iraqi democracy.
'Exit strategy' — a mere phrase, not a strategy
By Timothy Kane
Arguments for and against the U.S. troop presence in Iraq assume that having an "exit strategy" is a fundamental military principle. It isn't. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was right in April to say, "We don't have an exit strategy, we have a victory strategy."
Yet with public support here waning and suicide attacks in Iraq persisting, the calls for an exit strategy are being heard not just in the news media, but also in the halls of Congress.
As for rhetoric, "exit strategy" didn't appear in any major U.S. publication before 1980. That was seven years after American forces left Vietnam, an exit that could hardly be called strategic, let alone triumphant. It was a business term, coined by the CEO of Docutel Corp. (which invented the ATM) in a story in The New York Times on June 4, 1980. A LexisNexis search identifies the phrase in only 17 newspaper articles during the 1980s, all business stories.
Not until 1993 was "exit strategy" used in a military context. During testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 27, 1993, Secretary of State Warren Christopher listed the Clinton administration's four conditions for military engagements, concluding, "an 'exit strategy' for getting out quickly must exist." This new approach was part of Christopher's justification for intervening in Bosnia. A writer for The Boston Globe warned that the exit strategy would take a century. And in one sense, such critics were right — 951 troops remain deployed in Bosnia today. The troops have not exited, but the genocide did.
The obvious lesson is that exit strategies are superfluous to strategy, yet pundits conceive of them as inviolate. Syndicated columnist Molly Ivins wrote twice on the topic in the months before 9/11 — claiming the 37,000 GIs in South Korea were a useless leftover from the 1950s conflict, remaining only because "we didn't have an exit strategy at the time, and no one has thought one up since." In another column, Ivins asserted that one of the two big lessons from Vietnam is "have an exit strategy."
That's pure revisionism.
The notion of planning (that is, controlling) a war is a fantasy, and timing an orderly disengagement from an active enemy is worse than fantasy. These aren't football games with clearly defined teammates, referees and an official clock.
A review of U.S. military engagements is useful here. American soldiers were deployed to Germany and Japan as occupiers after World War II. But the threat of tyranny did not fade after 1945, and the Cold War demanded America's engagement. Six decades on, troops remain widely deployed.
Pentagon data reveal that 29 countries today host more than 100 American soldiers. In all, 387,463 troops were stationed abroad last year, which is actually lower than any year from 1950 to 1992. On average, 22% of U.S. troops serve overseas, which makes 2005 relatively normal. The successful strategy of the past 50 years has been engagement and alliance, not exit and pacifism.
The pattern shows that exits are the result of failure, not success. Today, no U.S. forces are in Vietnam, where the communists invaded and conquered our ally in the South. Ask yourself: Which country is better off, the Vietnam that got an exit or the Korea that didn't?
Despite the evidence of history, politicians such as Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., see the U.S. military presence in Iraq as "part of the problem." The New Republic has said "the United States should pack up and come home," once Iraqi forces have been trained. But that's exactly the question: When will Iraq be ready to defend itself?
Patience erodes when bloodshed seems constant. But my research confirms that the enduring presence of U.S. troops enhances economic growth among host countries. Indeed, countries with high U.S. troop presence during 1950-2000 saw their economies grow nearly twice as fast as the world average. Such growth is essential now to cutting the roots of terrorism.
But don't confuse this as an argument for maintaining military forces on foreign soil ad infinitum. The argument is that the United States should do whatever is necessary to preserve peace and to promote liberty. Those are the ends. Exits and entries are the means.
Timothy Kane is a research fellow in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation.
Also, what's your take on the firing of Porter Goss? What do you think about the rumors that career military officer Gen. Michael Hayden will be replacing Goss?
8 May 2006
Funny you should ask. I don't know any more than you do about Negroponte, but here's a recap of my early intel background and my opinions about the current situation.
After graduation from Defense Intelligence PG School in 1976, at my request I became the first naval aviator to be assigned to CTF-157, the Navy's premier human intelligence (HUMINT) organization. This outfit, headquartered in Virginia and situated under various cover names around the world, was considered the best of all the "spy" agencies operated by the military services. Most of our personnel were civilians who believed they were working for the CIA. They weren't, but we routinely coordinated with CIA to preclude mutual interference of our respective operations. I was the Assistant Operations Officer, which gave me access to all of our programs as well as regular access to CIA HQ at Langley, VA. I'll skip the juicy details about this whole experience and get right to the significant point. One day out of the blue, then Director of Naval Intelligence, RADM Bobby Inman, showed up at our HQ to inform us that CTF-157 was being decommissioned. The judgment had been made, driven by budget considerations, that for the foreseeable future the Navy would have a greater need for analysts of satellite-derived intel than for spies on the ground. Those of us in the spy business understood immediately the consequences of this decision. The outstanding network of operational field agents 157 had created and nurtured around the world for years would be gone, and we knew from experience that it takes a minimum of ten years to recreate such a network. Nevertheless, we were given one year to fold up the organization and hand over our most productive programs to other military services or to the CIA.
This was my first contact with Bobby Inman, but far from my last. Because I had no desire to hang around to participate in dismembering CTF-157, I requested and was granted immediate transfer to Naval Intelligence Plot, a part of the Navy Command Center in the Pentagon. Intel plot was run by DNI, so I was now working for Inman. We monitored current intel worldwide, supported special submarine ops and provided daily intelligence briefings to SecNav, CNO and all Navy heavies in the Pentagon. (Several Intel Plot offices would be destroyed and personnel killed on 9/11 when Flight 77 hit the building.) After serving as DNI, Inman became Vice Director of DIA (76-77), Director of NSA (77-81), and finally Deputy Director of CIA (81-82). After retirement, he created his own civilian intelligence consulting agency and in 93 was Clinton's choice for SecDef. (He was never keen on working for Clinton and soon withdrew his name from consideration.) Anyway, I interacted with him on a recurring basis over the years even after he retired. For example, while he was DNSA and Stansfield Turner was Director of CIA/Central Intelligence, Inman would often drop into Intel Plot to read our message boards and to chat -- mostly to commiserate over the low morale Turner was inflicting on the entire community. For security reasons, we regularly held very highly classified memos from Turner overnight for delivery the next day to various recipients. We always read them and were shocked at their extremely harsh and disrespectful tone. Turner was a jerk and a horrible choice to run the CIA. First there was his "Kick ass and take names" approach to management that failed utterly in that environment. Second, the following from the Internet:
Under Turner's direction, the CIA emphasized TECHINT and SIGINT more than HUMINT. Turner eliminated over 800 operational positions in what was called the Halloween Massacre. This organizational direction is notable because William Casey was seen to have a completely opposite approach, focusing much of his attention on HUMINT. Turner gave notable testimony to Congress revealing much of the extent of the MKULTRA program, which the CIA ran from the early 1950s to late 1960s. Reform and simplification of the intelligence community's multilayered secrecy system was one of Turner's significant initiatives, but produced no results by the time he left office.
This has nothing to do with how Hayden might perform as DCIA. Also there is a related philosophical question that always comes into play when appointing someone to head an organization populated by highly specialized employees. I once overheard doctors at Bethesda discussing whether the head of that hospital, an admiral, should be a senior doctor or a line officer, that is a professional administrator/manager. One of them said, "When a senior doctor runs the joint, you lose an experienced doctor and are stuck with a lousy administrator." The same issue arises with respect to the intel community. Turner was a line officer who had zero experience in intelligence. He flopped, but that doesn't mean that a different professional manager would also flop. Hayden is a professional intel officer who also has experience as an administrator, having run the NSA and other organizations before that. Based on experience alone, he is a far better choice than Turner was for the job and comparisons between the two simply don't apply.
My recommendations for Hayden if he gets the job would be:
(1) Resign your commission to sever ties with and eliminate any appearance of undue influence from SecDef. This is no criticism of the current SecDef, who is superb, but rather to disarm the lefties who hate Rumsfeld and Bush and criticize their every move;
(2) Because of your techno background, name a civilian deputy who has extensive experience in HUMINT.
(3) Continue to reinvigorate our HUMINT capabilities, which 9/11 proved are essential. Tenet began the process after 9/11. No idea what Porter Goss did along those lines, but you should push it hard.
(4) Deal with Congress in the manner of John Roberts. Keep those idiots, not out of the loop, but under control. Over the years, the Congress has done more harm to the Intelligence Community and to National Security than any individual director, including Stan Turner. Despite his prior experience as an intelligence officer, Goss may have proven not to be a good choice simply because of his more recent Congressional "culturalization." Based on media reports, he did his best to prove my point about the harm done by Congress, in this case by a recent member of Congress.
P.S. I resisted the temptation to write any short stories about my experiences with CTF-157 which I think would make interesting reading. However, I did write one about my subsequent assignment to Navy Intelligence Plot in the Pentagon. Here's a link to that story if anyone would care to read it:
OPEN LETTER TO DEMOCRATS AND THE LIBERAL MEDIA..
Yesterday, 1 May 2006, you had a field day marking the third anniversary of President Bush's landing on USS Abraham Lincoln to deliver what you relish in mischaracterizing as his "Mission Accomplished Speech."
First, he never said "mission accomplished." What he said was, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.”
For you uninitiated media twerps and so-called leaders of the Democrat Party, the phrase "major combat operations" means army on army, tank on tank, air force on air force, etc. That's what the phrase has always meant. Bush was exactly correct when he said "major combat operations have ended," because the Iraqi military had been utterly defeated and -- on their own -- disbanded and went into hiding among the general population. He was also correct in saying, "...now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.” He was defining the next mission, one in which we are still engaged and one in which we are succeeding dramatically despite the best efforts of the insurgents, the liberal media and the Democrat Party.
Now, about that "Mission Accomplished" sign. Surely you recall that the Lincoln was on her way home from a long deployment at the time the war started, was turned around before reaching port and sent back out on a lengthy, unscheduled second deployment in support of the war. When the president landed on her deck, she was finally on her way home from that unscheduled second deployment and was very proud of the fact that she had accomplished the additional mission laid on her even as Lincoln families had been anticipating the imminent return of their loved ones. And as you know, when they learned the president would be making a speech from the flight deck of their ship, the crew of the Lincoln asked permission to hang that sign to let their families and the world share in their pride. Every time you idiots politicize the "Mission Accomplished" banner, you denigrate not only the crew of the Abe Lincoln, but every military unit that feels pride in accomplishing its mission on behalf of its country. Shame on you! Shame on you!
So, here's a message to you liberal media and Democrat leaders: you can take your mischaracterizations and outright lies about what you call the "Mission Accomplished speech" and shove them right up your collective, traitorous asses until you choke on them.
CAPT, USN (Ret)
NOTE: This letter has been posted by radio talk show host Mike Rosen on his page of the 850 KOA web site at the link below. Mike read the letter on the air on Wednesday, 3 May:
Necessity of Pre-emptive Defense
A recent editorial in the Colorado Springs Gazette incorrectly asserted that intelligence failures led to the war in Iraq and constitute the fundamental flaw in the Bush Administration’s national strategy of “pre-emptive defense.” In fact pre-war intelligence validated Bush’s characterization of Iraq as a “gathering threat” that had to be dealt with before it became an imminent threat. It was the need to deal with that gathering threat pre-emptively—not faulty intelligence—that led to the war in Iraq.
We did not go to war with Iraq by accident or to liberate the Iraqi people or for the purpose of creating a more democratic government there. We went in deliberately and purposefully because Hussein was a gathering threat to the region and the West. Among the things known to U.S. intelligence and the president before the war that defined Iraq as a gathering threat:
(1) Having publicly pledged $25,000 to the families of Islamic suicide bombers, Hussein was a self-declared sponsor and exporter of terrorism.
(2) U.N. sanctions against Iraq had failed completely. Hussein was toying with weapons inspectors and never was contained. Nor is containment of any government intent on exporting WMDs even feasible.
(3) By subverting the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program (with the help of France, Germany and Russia), Saddam was accruing billions for the expressed purpose of expanding and modernizing his weapons programs, the centerpiece of which was to be comprised of nuclear weapons.
While we cannot yet be certain whether our pre-war intelligence on Saddam’s existing WMD stockpiles was mostly right or mostly wrong, any first-hand observer of Middle East politics understands this: no Arab dictator would abandon or destroy weapons that empower him to intimidate his subjects and his neighbors—except at the point of a gun. Given that reality and the ease with which WMDs can be shuttled around, it’s a safe bet Hussein never destroyed his.
But to what extent they had been depleted or whether the residuals were buried in the desert or taken out of the country is irrelevant. Hussein was a gathering threat because of his unchecked preparations for the near future and the Bush strategy of pre-emptive defense was exactly the right course of action. Whether or not an Arab style democracy ultimately takes root in Iraq, at a minimum we removed a deranged dictator and thus defused a gathering threat to the region and the West.
And here’s the kicker, the main lesson of 9/11. Had we not gotten rid of Saddam Hussein, given his announced intentions and the billions he was stockpiling to go nuclear, in less than a decade Iraq would have become what Iran is today—an imminent threat. Iran demonstrates why it is so important post-9/11, as the president said repeatedly before the Iraq war, to deal with such gathering threats before they become imminent.
For decades, our national strategy has been to fight the war on the other guy’s turf. Pre-emptive defense is a variation on that strategy that takes into account our inherent vulnerability to terrorism as well as the need to act pre-emptively against it. Failure to heed that lesson from the first 9/11 would invite the next one.
CAPT, USN (Ret)
Former US Naval Attaché to Egypt
RIGHT OR WRONG DIRECTION
With respect to
the question, "Are we really headed in the right direction?" that’s nothing but
a twist on a John Kerry 2004 campaign slogan. The phrase "right direction" means
something different to everyone and, therefore, has no meaning at all in
absolute terms. Most Americans will invariably answer "no" when asked the
question, regardless of who's in office. Yet some pollsters have actually
included it in their recent surveys, which is a reflection of how politically
biased and unprofessional public opinion polling can be. And as long as a
Republican administration is in office, liberals will continue to pose the
question as if it had some relevance. What nonsense!
Curious, ain't it, how the mainstream media drive the polls? First they report almost exclusively on American casualties in Iraq. Then they poll the consumers of their "news" regarding their opinion of the president's handling of the war. Then they report his falling poll numbers as if they're "shocked—shocked to learn there's gambling going on in this establishment!"
This cycle is even more disreputable than “push polling,” because the outcome of such polls is predetermined by the information fed to the poll participants in the first place.
Meanwhile, the media ignore the reality that, because of the presence of U.S. military forces, Iraq is on the eve of installing a democratically elected government. That's an event of truly historic proportions in the Middle East, though it hardly makes a dent with media obsessed with reporting casualties while ignoring mission accomplishment.
Let's try a little perspective here. Consider what we failed to accomplish in Vietnam despite 58,000 casualties compared to what we've accomplished so far in Iraq at a cost of less than four percent of that number. And before some idiot falsely accuses me of indifference to the sacrifices made by our troops, let me point out that it's the media who are obsessed with numbers and with mischaracterizing our losses in Iraq as "heavy." Individually heartbreaking, yes, militarily heavy, no.
But despite the media's disservice to the American people and to the military during this war, the people have started to smell the end of it and Democrats have taken notice of that fact. Some prominent Dems have already said, “We won the war a long time ago. It’s now time to bring the troops home.” The Democrat Party’s current strategy is to try to fool the people once again—this time into believing, first, that Bush misled us into war and, second, that they're the ones who should be credited with ending his “misadventure.” The unfortunate fact is that some Americans, the ones you can fool all of the time, are stupid enough to fall for their 2006 pre-election scam.
Bottom line: President Bush and the military deserve an A for Iraq; the whacko left and their lapdog media deserve an F, and the pollsters deserve even worse.
Since I do not know most of you in this discussion group, my inputs are made somewhat in the blind. Sorry if I offend anyone, but I have a saying about that: “People who are easily offended really offend me.”
tmc4asfe would be interested in hearing from someone who has lived in the Middle East. Okay, here goes. I served as the United States Naval Attaché to Egypt for two years immediately after the Gulf War. My wife worked as Executive Officer of the Voice of America, and her office was just around the corner from the Cairo headquarters of the PLO. For two years, I worked and interacted with Arabs from all over the Middle East and Gulf States from the presidential/ministerial level down through the mid-grades, both military and civilian, to the man and woman in the street. On more than one occasion I found myself having to face down a young Egyptian soldier/policeman over the barrel of his AK-47 (I learned that if you yell loud enough, they tend to back down). For the record, Egypt is 90 % Muslim, 10 % Christian and I worked and socialized with both.
To anyone who has lived in that part of the world, one thing should be clear. The higher the standard of living in a Muslim country, the less “religious” the population and vice versa. Egypt is a poor, intensely religious country. The Gulf States are extremely wealthy, and the natives approach their religion much more casually and pragmatically – that is, with a beer in one hand. You might ask, “What about Saudi Arabia?” Well, there Islam and its trappings are forced on the population by religious police and the government, the members of which are party animals, especially when they travel outside Saudi Arabia to other places such as London, Paris, or even Cairo.
Why is this relevant? Because Iraq has the means (oil) to become a fairly wealthy and eventually more secular society. That’s why Iraq is a good candidate for an experiment in Arab-style democracy. That very experiment may also provide the framework within which Sunnis and Shiites, who have hated each other forever, can finally learn to coexist in relative peace. If it happens it will be because they all want a piece of the oil revenues and resultant higher standard of living -- and because Dubya took out their tyrannical dictator and gave them the opportunity.
All of this went into the Administration’s thinking before we invaded Iraq, but is not the primary reason we went in. NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman, no friend of the Bush Administration, said it this way:
“The "real reason" for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. Afghanistan wasn't enough because a terrorism bubble had built up over there — a bubble that posed a real threat to the open societies of the West and needed to be punctured. This terrorism bubble said that plowing airplanes into the World Trade Center was O.K., having Muslim preachers say it was O.K. was O.K., having state-run newspapers call people who did such things "martyrs" was O.K. and allowing Muslim charities to raise money for such "martyrs" was O.K. Not only was all this seen as O.K., there was a feeling among radical Muslims that suicide bombing would level the balance of power between the Arab world and the West, because we had gone soft and their activists were ready to die.
The only way to puncture that bubble was for American soldiers, men and women, to go into the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, house to house, and make clear that we are ready to kill, and to die, to prevent our open society from being undermined by this terrorism bubble. Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine. But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right in the heart of that world. And don't believe the nonsense that this had no effect. Every neighboring government — and 98 percent of terrorism is about what governments let happen — got the message. If you talk to U.S. soldiers in Iraq they will tell you this is what the war was about."
Since Friedman wrote this, we, the public, have learned more about what the Administration knew then about the workings of the Oil for Food Program. Under the cover of the OFP, sanctions against Iraq had completely disintegrated and Saddam Hussein – a self-proclaimed sponsor of terrorism -- was accruing billions for the announced purpose of modernizing and expanding his weapons programs. He was in no way "contained," but was, precisely as President Bush proclaimed, a gathering threat who had to be dealt with before he became an imminent threat. (Unfortunately, that argument went right over the heads of most of Bush's viscerally-guided liberal critics.) Further, Bush was right on when he said in his State of the Union speech that Hussein was seeking yellowcake in Nigeria. The British continue to stand by their evidence that he was, and even that “paragon of truth” Joe Wilson acknowledged the attempt in his CIA debriefing.
And on the subject of WMD, one of the many things I learned working with senior Arabs is that power is the name of the game in the Middle East. No Arab leader worth his salt can afford to be seen as weak by his peers or by his own population. Every one of them wants to be the guy the others come to call on and whose ass gets kissed, not the other way around. And, with the recent exception of Libya’s Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi (who folded his cards after Bush took away his toys), not one of them would ever consider destroying weapons that would diminish his military power and status vis-à-vis his neighbors – except at the point of a gun. You can bet Saddam mobilized his WMDs and played hide-and-seek with those ridiculously incompetent UN inspectors. All of which made it easy for the Iraqis to move them wherever they wanted when the war started. Apparently, due to the speed of their collapse, they had to move them before they were able to distribute them to their own soldiers, as suggested by the fact that every Iraqi defensive position in the north of the country was equipped with chemical/biological protection gear, but had received no weapons. Whether the weapons were mostly depleted through operational use, moved out of the country or are still there is anybody’s guess, but you can take it to the bank that Hussein never destroyed them.
Finally, tmc4asfe, your suggestion that we “destroyed” Iraq and then offered to rebuild it is preposterous. Most of the degradation of Iraq’s infrastructure was the result of Saddam’s hoarding of Iraqi oil revenues to buy weapons. We’re now rebuilding what he allowed to fall apart. That is why, for example, we’re having so much trouble building up the country’s electrical power generation and distribution systems – because it's old and decrepit, not because we destroyed it. Sewing destruction on that system is what the insurgents do, not us.
MY FIRST LETTER TO CONDI
October 5, 2004
Dr. Condoleezza Rice
National Security Advisor
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Dr. Rice,
I had the pleasure of a brief association with you some years ago when you were an international affairs fellow and I was assigned to the Joint Staff in the Pentagon working the START Treaty. I inserted my photo in the letterhead above in hopes the image of my ugly mug might jog your memory with respect to that period and the occasional lunch we shared in the Pentagon cafeteria discussing arms control and related matters.
First allow me to thank you for the brilliant job you are doing as National Security Advisor. Having gained substantial familiarity with the workings of the NSC and Interagency while completing the START accords, I can imagine no one better qualified or more capable to carry out the critically important duties for which you are responsible.
The purpose of this letter is to offer a suggestion regarding the current presidential campaign from the perspective of a private citizen who now resides far outside the Beltway, but who cares deeply about the outcome of this November’s election. I believe the re-election of President Bush is essential to the successful prosecution of the War on Terror and, further, that you are in a unique position to assist the president in that effort.
My suggestion is contained in the form of a letter to the editor I recently submitted to the Washington Post and the Denver Rocky Mountain News. It reads as follows:
War on Terror needs explaining
John Kerry mischaracterizes the War on Terror as the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq as a “grand diversion.” Meanwhile, President Bush continues to defend the war in Iraq without adequately articulating the context in which it was undertaken. On the issue of war rhetoric, both men deserve an F.
The notion that the World War on Terror (WWT) is defined by military operations within the geographic borders of a single country is ludicrous. Islamic extremism is a global insurgency aimed at destroying the foundations of Western culture. It may well pose a greater threat to the survival of the West than did the Axis in WWII or the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Fending off this threat requires application of the full spectrum of available weapons, including credible intelligence, diplomatic, political and economic leverage and, when necessary, military force—all on an international scale. Military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq are not the end-all of the War on Terror, but they are important components of it. And if they achieve a meaningful change in the political dynamic of the Middle East, they will have proven invaluable.
Clearly, President Bush has a greater comprehension than Kerry of the strategy needed to deal with the global threat of Islamic fanaticism. But to increase his chances of success in WWT—and in the coming election—he ought to seek wider popular support for the War by doing a better job of explaining its strategy to the nation. Perhaps he should begin by explaining it to John Kerry.
While I have quoted my letter to the editor in its entirety, it is the second paragraph in particular that I would draw to your attention. In the few weeks remaining before the election, it is this sort of context that I believe Americans need to hear from the President, especially in the light of the Democrats’ attempts to divorce the war in Iraq from the War on Terror and attacking the former in isolation. I urge you, President Bush and his campaign spokesmen to stress these points in the coming days.
Again, please accept my gratitude for all you do. I hope you find this helpful.
Sincerely and warm regards,
WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR 9/11?
The notion that a failure of
intelligence or inept leadership on the part of the current administration
should be blamed for 9/11 is preposterous.
But let us not forget who really was responsible for 9/11: it was the terrorists, stupid!
Myth of the 2000 Presidential Election
Much of the anti-Bush sentiment in this country derives from the myth that Bush “stole” the 2000 election by means of a 5-4 party-line vote in his favor by the U.S. Supreme Court. But here are the facts:
On Dec 8, 2000, the Florida Supreme Court, by a 4-3 margin, ordered manual recounts in counties with large numbers of “undervotes,” but failed to provide a universal standard for recounting the ballots. Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice C.J. Wells dissented, warning that the court’s order was not consistent with Florida law and would not withstand Constitutional scrutiny.
On Dec 12, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 (not 5-4) that the Florida Supreme Court’s mandate, lacking a universal counting standard, violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection and due process guarantees, precisely as Wells had warned in his dissent.
The reality is that Bush won every legitimate count—and recount—of the Florida vote, and when four members of the Florida Supreme Court tried to hijack the election for Gore, seven members of the U.S. Supreme Court prevented the theft.
To the widow of Wang Wei:
As a former P-3 pilot, I regret the mid-air collision in which your husband died. But let’s get a few things straight.
First, under international law, the pilot of a jet fighter is always responsible for avoiding larger, less maneuverable aircraft such as an EP-3. The collision could not have occurred had your husband been following the “rules of the road” honored by every civilized nation on earth.
Second, the American EP-3 your country impounded illegally after it made an emergency landing on Hainan is not a spy plane. It is a surveillance plane. Despite the failure of some American journalists to understand it, the distinction is important. Spying is a clandestine, secret, covert activity. Airborne surveillance in international airspace on the other hand is overt, unconcealed, totally above board and, most important, perfectly legal.
Third, when you called President Bush a coward, you were misguided. Remember, President Bush is an accomplished fighter pilot who never found it necessary to exhibit false bravado by harassing an unarmed surveillance plane in international airspace. That’s the stuff of cowardice.
Finally, when your government proclaimed your husband a hero, that was a lie. Your husband, madam, was a criminal.
Sorry for your loss.
"PURPLE PEOPLE EATER" - Author's footnote:
While I respected Admiral Crowe for the job he did as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, his post-retirement political activities have caused me to seriously question his judgment. First, he endorsed Bill Clinton for president, and, more recently, John Kerry. Crowe and others similarly short-sighted politically assert the Bush Administration has damaged our traditional European alliances. But they overlook the fact that those alliances started to unravel when the glue that held them together, the Soviet threat, evaporated with the end of the Cold War in 1991. It was then that our so-called allies got serious about an old idea -- a European Union -- in order to compete economically with the United States. The end of the Cold War signaled the beginning of Western Europe's "war of independence" from U.S. protectionism and attendant economic influence. Countries we liberated in WWII and then protected for 46 years set out to create a bi-polar world, openly challenging America's status as the planet's sole remaining superpower. It was this evolution from meaningful military alliance to aggressive economic competition that most diminished our accustomed relationships, all well before the Bush Administration entered office. Then after we were attacked on 9/11, it was our allies who failed us in the War on Terrorism, not the other way around. Finally, Crowe and others of his liberally partisan ilk turn a blind eye to the fact that in fighting this war we are employing a forward strategy -- fighting on the other guy's turf, not our own -- a strategy which has comprised the backbone of U.S. national defense planning for decades.
Beheading of Nick Berg.
If you have not seen the video of this barbaric act and want to, click on the link below. Puts the whole notion of "abuse of Iraqi prisoners" in perspective.
OLD BLUE EYES SINGS "STRANGERS ON MY FLIGHT"
Click here: http://www.beecy.net/frank/
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