Iraq Archives

Near New York?

See this film this weekend. Salaam Dunk!

Really.

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    Leaving Iraq

    The last American troops left Iraq yesterday. (Well, likely, the last combat troops. I’m sure there are still advisors there.) The Fox news article described it thusly:

    The last U.S. soldiers rolled out of Iraq across the border into neighboring Kuwait at daybreak Sunday, whooping, fist bumping and hugging each other in a burst of joy and relief. Their convoy’s exit marked the end of a bitterly divisive war that raged for nearly nine years and left Iraq shattered, with troubling questions lingering over whether the Arab nation will remain a steadfast U.S. ally.

    The mission cost nearly 4,500 American and well more than 100,000 Iraqi lives and $800 billion from the U.S. Treasury. The question of whether it was worth it all is yet unanswered.

    I think the US ought to get a cut of oil profits for some predetermined amount of time to help repay us for liberating the country from a brutal dictator. But beyond the dollars-and-cents view of "worth it", recall we were instrumental from saving Germany (and most of Europe) from a brutal dictator 70 years ago at the cost of lives orders of magnitude greater than this. Hussein had invaded neighboring countries, used chemical weapons on his own people, and oppressed the Kurds, to name just a very few of his atrocities. Are Iraqis better off without him? You betcha’.

    Should we go in and invade every country with a brutal dictator? I don’t think so, but the Middle East is a particularly important area to the global economy (i.e. oil) and is also one of the most volatile. What goes on there can make or break countries far and wide. Add to that Hussein’s view of our ally Israel (i.e. supporting terrorism there), and this combination was enough, I believe, to seriously consider dealing with it militarily. The US Congress thought so as well when they authorized the use of force (notwithstanding those mealy-mouthed Democrats who voted for it and later complained that they never thought they’d be taken seriously by Bush).

    For those who lost family and friends in the war, indeed the cost for them is so different and felt stronger than for the rest of us pontificating from the sidelines. But at the same time, the "worth-it-ness" of the war in total has to come from a big picture view. I believe it was worth it, and I think most Iraqis, who’s opinion has to count for more than ours, would agree.

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      Yeah, About Those WMDs…

      They existed, and probably still exist, though in other hands.  Again, this comes to us from the Wikileaks espionage, but it at least confirms what we already knew (and what the media wouldn’t tell us nor the Left believe).

      The release by Julian Assange’s web site Wikileaks of classified documents reveals that U.S. military intelligence discovered chemical weapons labs, encountered insurgents who were specialists in the creation of toxins, and uncovered weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. However, Washington, DC officials and the news media have ignored this information.

      One of the WikiLeaks document dumps reveals that as late as 2008, American troops continued to find WMD in the region.

      Granted, this was not the huge weapons program that many national intelligence services thought was going on, but it wasn’t nothing, either.

      WikiLeaks documents don’t reveal evidence of a massive weapons program by Saddam Hussein — the Bush administration’s leading rationale for invading Iraq — or some enormous stockpile of WMD, but do reveal that chemical weapons did vanish from the Iraqi battlefield.

      According to the latest WikiLeaks document "dump," Saddam’s toxic arsenal, significantly reduced after the Gulf War, remained intact. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict and may have brewed up their own deadly agents, according to the WikiLeaks web site.

      During that time, former Iraqi General Georges Sada, Saddam’s top commander, detailed the transfers of Iraq’s WMD. "There [were] weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands," Mr. Sada said. "I am confident they were taken over."

      The shift to Syria has long been discussed, but now at least we see more evidence that the diplomatic and intelligence communities all believe this.

      Worth a read to see what other things our troops found in Iraq, especially if you didn’t see any of that reported in the media.

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        The Difference

        With regards to stories such as these, of U.S. military personnel committing crimes and atrocities, take care to note “The Difference”. While murderous actions of terrorists are considered the norm, such acts, when committed by U.S. soldiers, justifiably result in outrage here in the U.S.

        As graphically illustrated, by Michael Yon’s photograph of a U.S. soldier cradling an Iraqi girl, mortally wounded by the normal actions of terrorist insurgents, there is a difference between us and those who would wage terror on the innocent.

        Image © 2005 Michael Yon

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          The Iraqi WMD Question

          The question of where Saddam Hussein’s WMDs went that the whole world believed were there has been knocked around since at least 2004, with the most popular answer being Syria.  There was some evidence of it, that the MSM cheerfully ignored, but it’s back in the news today because President Obama’s pick for replacement of the Director of National Intelligence believes this is true

          Ryan Mauro of Pajamas Media has an article today about new satellite imagery that is lending new credence to this thought.  Worth a read.

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            Political Cartoon: Enemies and Allies

            From Michael Ramirez (click for a larger version):

            Michael Ramirez

            Treating your enemies better than your allies doesn’t seem to be working, for either our enemies or our allies. 

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              Civilian Casualties: Then and Now

              That was then:

              We are in a war because the Generals want to play with their toys and don’t give a damn how many people get hurt in the process.  We are in a war without direction, or discipline, led by a disengaged simpleton who will do whatever he is told by the unelected war mongers who are running our government. 

              This is now:

              Now, we seem to be in a fight against a force of vicious murderers, using civilians as human shields, and misleading us at every turn, while taking a high toll on NATO troops.  But the military is not supposed to kill anyone?!!!

              (Emphasis hers.)  Same DailyKos diarist, and encouraged in both statements by droves of commenters.  The difference?  The first was written in September, 2008 against the military causing the death of 90 civilians.  The second was written yesterday, against the president of Afghanistan condemning the deaths of 27 civilians.

              That was then as well, by another Kos writer, who gets front page access.

              One million dead. And each day, a few more. If that isn’t a reason to flood the streets in D.C. tomorrow and in your hometown all this week and next Friday for the Iraq Moratorium, what is?

              But this is now, and it looks like the Left is going all warmonger on us in the Middle East.  Hey, it’s their guy doing it, so now they can take credit for it and declare victory. 

              The double-standard-bearers are certainly hoping we won’t notice.  They probably don’t really notice themselves.

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                Can Diplomacy Fail?

                The answer is "Yes", but when it does, this is not necessarily a failure of those trying to prevent conflict.  At times, this is simply a result of the motivations of the belligerent. 

                In response to my post about the delusions of negotiating with Iran, commenter Dan Trabue responded with why negotiation and pressure should be able to convince Iran not to go nuclear, and if it didn’t then it was a failing on our part.  If we go to war, it is an admission of failure on our part "that we’ve failed to outsmart this particular unreasonable leader."

                I disagree.  Let’s look at some major cases.

                Saddam Hussein had been negotiated with for decades.  Not even the first Gulf War was enough to keep him back.  Iraq regularly fired at coalition planes enforcing the No-Fly zone after the liberation of Kuwait (a country, by the way, that we liberated even though they had been a close ally of the Soviets and were extremely anti-Israel).  The UN and most Western governments (and in the US, both Democrats and Republicans) believed that Hussein was hiding WMDs.  He hindered UN weapons inspectors.  The threat of war from the US didn’t even move him.  This was a madman bent on both personal power and funding anti-Semitism.  There was nothing to give him that would take away those desires. 

                Let’s go back a little further…

                Read the rest of this entry

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                  A Odd Thought Re Iran

                  It occurs to me that Iran may have committed a horrible strategic error. I’ve not seen this suggested anywhere, but bear with me a moment.

                  • During the Iraq kerfuffle Iran has established munitions pipelines and connections between Shia in Iraq and Iran.
                  • There are signs that civil uprising and large scale violence in Iran is on the horizon.
                  • The West (and Israel) would welcome regime change in Iran, yet the West cannot be directly involved for there is little public trust or like in Iran for the West (especially the US).
                  • However the US now has ties in places has close relations with Iraqi Shia … and through them likely the Iranian Shia as well.
                  • Those ties could be used to funnel support to the nascent Iranian insurgency in Iran through the Iraq pipelines.

                  Thus the Iranian involvement in Iraq by the current regime may be weak point that can be now used to attack that same said regime.

                  What a tangled web.

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                    Will they blame Bush for this, as well?

                    These days, the same park is filled with people: families with children, women in jeans, women walking alone. Even the nighttime, when Iraqis used to cower inside their homes, no longer scares them. I can hear their laughter wafting from the park. At sundown the other day, I had to weave my way through perhaps 2,000 people. It was an astonishing, beautiful scene — impossible, incomprehensible, only months ago. – NYT

                    ABCNews video here.

                    HT: HotAir

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                      It’s all a matter of timing

                      From President Obama,

                      Today, …the United States will pursue a new strategy to end the war in Iraq through a transition to full Iraqi responsibility.

                      This strategy is grounded in a clear and achievable goal shared by the Iraqi people and the American people: an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant. To achieve that goal, we will work to promote an Iraqi government that is just, representative, and accountable, and that provides neither support nor safe-haven to terrorists. We will help Iraq build new ties of trade and commerce with the world. And we will forge a partnership with the people and government of Iraq that contributes to the peace and security of the region.

                      The only thing new about this strategy is that Obama has shifted (i.e., changed his mind) regarding his approach towards our presence in Iraq. Remember, this is the same person who opposed the Surge, who once gave up hope on succeeding in Iraq, and who once stated that the lives of troops killed in action were “wasted”. (HT: HotAir)

                      Life is, by no means, fair. Many times, our fortune, or failure, is simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time – of having that lucky break. What we’ll see, in the next few years, is Obama receiving the accolades for any progress to be displayed in Iraq. Bush, in our media’s shortsightedness, will take more than his share of the blame for what it cost to succeed – the failures, mistakes, and blood. Yet, he is the one who was fated to do the dirty work.

                      And, I think that history will eventually provide us with the clear picture of who accomplished what.

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                        Is The Iraq War Won?

                        ABC News thinks it’s possible.

                        An epochal media moment Monday night on ABC’s World News? In an upbeat story about the election in Iraq "with virtually no violence," reporter Jim Sciutto raised the possibility the war is now over — just in time to enable President Barack Obama to fulfill his promise to reduce troop levels — as Sciutto asked a member of Iraq’s parliament: "Is this the end of the war?" Mahmoud Othman cautiously predicted: "If the Iraqi leaders could get together and work together sincerely, yes, this could be the end of the war."

                             Anchor Charles Gibson set up the story by asserting the Saturday elections "mark a major turning point in the Iraqi effort to move forward and the U.S. desire to pull back." Sciutto began with a woman who agreed with his premise "Iraq is ready to move on without the Americans." Sciutto described how "almost every day there’s another handover from American to Iraqi authority" and that "it was Iraqi soldiers who kept polling stations remarkably safe" while check points "used to be manned by American soldiers. Today, they are almost exclusively Iraqi security forces."

                        Thank you George W. Bush, for this "liberation moment".  Thanks especially from Barack Obama who can now safely pull the troops out.

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                          At least according to the incoming President Obama.  Charles Krauthammer explains, but I just have the bullet points here to get you to "Read the Whole Thing"(tm).  All lines below are quotes from the article.

                          • Vindication is being expressed not in words but in deeds — the tacit endorsement conveyed by the Obama continuity-we-can-believe-in transition.
                          • It is the repeated pledge to conduct a withdrawal from Iraq that does not destabilize its new democracy and that, as Vice President-elect Joe Biden said just this week in Baghdad, adheres to the Bush-negotiated status-of-forces agreement that envisions a U.S. withdrawal over three years, not the 16-month timetable on which Obama campaigned.
                          • It is the great care Obama is taking in not preemptively abandoning the anti-terror infrastructure that the Bush administration leaves behind.
                          • [On interrogation techniques]  Obama still disagrees with Cheney’s view of the acceptability of some of these techniques. But citing as sage the advice offered by "the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history" (according to Joe Biden) — advice paraphrased by Obama as "we shouldn’t be making judgments on the basis of incomplete information or campaign rhetoric" — is a startlingly early sign of a newly respectful consideration of the Bush-Cheney legacy.

                          The upshot?

                          Which is why Obama is consciously creating a gulf between what he now dismissively calls "campaign rhetoric" and the policy choices he must make as president. Accordingly, Newsweek — Obama acolyte and scourge of everything Bush/Cheney — has on the eve of the Democratic restoration miraculously discovered the arguments for warrantless wiretaps, enhanced interrogation and detention without trial. Indeed, Newsweek’s neck-snapping cover declares, "Why Obama May Soon Find Virtue in Cheney’s Vision of Power."

                          Another "Now They Tell Us" moment in the mainstream media.  All the anger and disdain thrown at Bush, figuratively here and by a certain Iraqi reporter there, is over ideas and policies that the incoming administration has show it’ll be slow to dismantle.  Those policies have indeed kept up safe for the 7 years since 9/11. 

                          No, the ends do not at all justify the means.  But for some of us, these were just wars.  For others, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq were just, and the reflexively anti-war crowd will continue to push Obama, as they did Bush, to just do whatever our enemies want so they won’t get angry with us.  Or perhaps isolate them, which "worked" so well for the 70+ years of aggressive communism in the Soviet Union.  That even failed miserably with Hussein’s Iraq, with our own "allies" funneling aid to them through the back door. 

                          No, George W. Bush kept us safe, and, despite the rancor and alarmism, without shredding the Constitution or civil liberties.  Obama played on the fears of his supporters long enough to get elected President, but the time has come for action, and before you judge the actions of his predecessor, see what his actions are.  That will speak louder to the success or failure of George W. Bush than any pundit’s pen can write.

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                            Keeping a Promise In Spite Of Himself

                            Barack Obama may be able to get the troops out of Iraq in 16 months mostly because George W. Bush’s surge did so well.  Via Instapundit:

                            "THE WAR IS OVER AND WE WON:" Michael Yon just phoned from Baghdad, and reports that things are much better than he had expected, and he had expected things to be good. "There’s nothing going on. I’m with the 10th Mountain Division, and about half of the guys I’m with haven’t fired their weapons on this tour and they’ve been here eight months. And the place we’re at, South Baghdad, used to be one of the worst places in Iraq. And now there’s nothing going on. I’ve been walking my feet off and haven’t seen anything. I’ve been asking Iraqis, ‘do you think the violence will kick up again,’ but even the Iraqi journalists are sounding optimistic now and they’re usually dour." There’s a little bit of violence here and there, but nothing that’s a threat to the general situation. Plus, not only the Iraqi Army, but even the National Police are well thought of by the populace. Training from U.S. toops [sic] has paid off, he says, in building a rapport.

                            If Obama had had his way, this wouldn’t have happened.  But if & when he has the troops home on or before April 2010, it will be because Dubya laid the foundation for it.

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                              Thoughts for Election Day

                              Work and family have kept me from posting much lately, and today is the last shot before Election Day.  So here are my thoughts about the main issues for this election and why I think John McCain stands on the correct side of each of them.

                              Abortion

                              Barack Obama’s answer to Rick Warren, that the question of when life begins was "above my pay grade", should disqualify him from consideration by anyone who is concerned about "the least of these".  Babies in the womb are arguably the least of the least of these, and while Obama claims he wouldn’t want to pick a point where life begins, it certainly doesn’t keep him from deciding where it ends.  It didn’t stop him from co-sponsoring the Freedom of Choice Act that would invalidate abortion laws nationwide, saying it would be "the first thing that I’d do".  In addition, the next President will likely be able to chose 1 or 2 Supreme Court justices, who may hear a case involving the FCA or other life and death matters.

                              Thus, if abortion matters to you, the only choice is John McCain.  And if you’re a Christian and abortion doesn’t matter to you, it should.

                              The Economy

                              Obama’s "spreading the wealth around" ideology, while not technically pure socialism, is certainly a shift in that direction.  As much as he insisted that he wasn’t penalizing someone for making it in America, he is.  If it was just for paying for the government we need, that would indeed be one thing, but wealth redistribution is not what the tax system was intended to do, and it is incredibly inefficient when shoehorned into doing it. 

                              As a Christian, I still don’t believe that when Jesus says that as individuals we should give to the poor, that didn’t mean that we should use the force of government to take from some to give directly to others.  I find that highly immoral.  I believe giving to the poor is a very good thing, something we are each individually commanded to do, but in no way do the ends justify the governmental, confiscatory means.

                              Right now, the economy is in a sad state, partly due to greed, partly due to a Democratic party that refused to see the signs.  The government has jumped in to help, with what could be argued as a "socialistic" means.  However, unlike other countries (Venezuela, anyone?), this is intended only as a stop-gap measure to get us past the current crisis.  Spreading the wealth around, and more and bigger government programs, are not the way to come out of it.  Creating more wealth and more opportunities are the way to bring ourselves out of this, and to ease poverty, and a vote for John McCain will help do that.  One main way to do this is…

                              Taxes

                              …lower taxes.  Both candidates say they want to lower taxes.  However, the income threshold where Obama would like to lower taxes itself keeps getting lower.  It started at $250,000, then $200,000, then Joe Biden talked about lower taxes for the middle class making less than $150,000.  So we don’t really know where the line is drawn.  And further, if a President Obama gets a filibuster-proof Congress, he’s not likely to veto whatever they come up with, and they’re not bound by his campaign promises.  Raising taxes in a down economy is deadly.

                              John McCain realizes this, and wants to lower taxes for everybody, including those who are rich enough to start small businesses and who create the lion’s share of the jobs in this country.  Class warfare rhetoric may sound good (and when all’s said and done, "spread the wealth" is class warfare), but if you penalize those who create jobs, you won’t get as many new jobs.  Simple.  In a down economy, the last people you want to penalize are the job-creators.  John McCain’s tax policy will get us out of this down economy sooner.

                              The War

                              The war on terror has multiple fronts, and one was Iraq.  It still could return to being one if we do what we did in Vietnam and leave too early.  Iraq is out of the news, and not because the election has pushed it off the front page; if there was bad news coming from there, the media would most certainly highlight it.  No, Iraq isn’t news because it’s going so well and Al Qaeda is losing.  In addition, contrary to most predictions 7 years ago, there has not been another successful terrorist attack in this country.

                              This is because we confronted evil where it was.  We took the fight to them; we didn’t wait for them to drop another building or kill thousands others.  Saddam Hussein was ignoring the conditions of the cease-fire without consequences, and was supporting terrorism both actively (e.g. subsidizing the families of Palestinian terrorists) and passively (turning a blind eye to terrorist training camps within his borders). 

                              The war was right, and we’re winning it.  Criticize the prosecution of it, especially early on, and I’ll agree with you, but overall it’s getting rid of the bad guys and keeping them away from us.  John McCain has been on the right side of each of these decisions and Barack Obama has been on the wrong side. 

                              Experience

                              Having been a community organizer, and being a Senator for 140 days before running for President is not the amount of experience required for the notional leader of the free world.  Especially when that community organization is filled with experiences like helping a 60s radical terrorist run an "educational" program that doesn’t appreciably increase education, but makes sure kids buck every authority in their path.  Barack Obama is as green as they come.  Supporting him precisely because of his brand of experience is to be incredibly naive. 

                              John McCain has a long history of working with both parties; something Democrats used to say that they valued.  But when a Republican who values bipartisanship campaigns for President, suddenly that doesn’t seem as important to them.  This week.  I don’t support every position that McCain has taken while making overtures to the Democrats, but I respect the fact that he makes that effort.  If you support bipartisanship, you should support John McCain.

                              Healthcare

                              Obama’s plan, while giving lip-service to choice, markets and keeping your current plan, will make it financially untenable for employers to keep whatever their current plan is and toss people into the government-run one.  He fakes to the right in the campaign, but he’ll cut to the left without you even noticing.  And once we socialize a little of the healthcare system, it’s nigh impossible to reign it back in once the cost overruns and ultimate lack of choices become apparent.  The entitlement mentality will expand and sink its claws into this area as well.  It’ll be a case of tweaking this and modifying that until…well, until Canadians don’t have any place to go to get the healthcare they need.

                              McCain’s plan keeps the market in place and doesn’t undermine it.  That’s true choice; giving you new ones without destroying the current ones.  If you’re pro-choice (in healthcare), vote for John McCain.

                              Sarah Palin

                              OK. she’s not technically an issue in the campaign, but I had to bring her up.  Democrats have laughed at her credentials — actual executive experience, true to her principles both in her public and personal lives, and the way she worked her way up herself in the world — even though they claim to value those principles, especially in a woman.  Turns out it’s all lip service.  Someone who exhibits the best in politics, and someone who lives up to so many ideals that people wish more politicians would have, was dismissed or demonized by the Left.  Seems they only value these characteristics in other Democrats.

                              While this attitude striped the veneer off many Democrats’ real motives, it highlighted what good choices John McCain will make as President.  If you truly value those ideals in any candidate for any office, John McCain is your man.  (And Sarah Palin is most definitely your woman.)

                               

                              It’s almost Election Day, but before you vote, please consider the issues that really matter to you.  Not the sound bites or the slogans; the substance.  On many of the big issues of the day, and especially for Christians, I believe John McCain is the best choice for President.

                              See you on the other side.

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