War Archives

The Links

No, not as in golfing.  I’m going to be quite busy this week, so blog posts this week will consist mostly of a collection of links that I happen across.

John Mark Reynolds, writing at the Evangel blog, wonders about that prediction that Christians would become a fringe political force if they stuck with their position on same-sex marriage.  This after Maine, of all places, upheld traditional marriage.  Not mentioned is that the House of Representatives barely squeaked out a health care bill (passing it with only 2 votes to spare) only after a provision was added that prevented abortion from being covered by it.  Wasn’t that supposed to be a losing issue, too?

October, 2009 was the 3rd coldest October recorded in the US.  Can we officially chuck those computer climate models and just admit we don’t really know what’s going on with climate, and thus should refrain from making pronouncements on what is or isn’t changing it?

Racist graffiti, and Al Sharpton isn’t all over CNN denouncing it?  Oh, wait, it’s anti-white graffiti.  Well then, nothing to see here.

Attorney General Eric Holder is endorsing extending provisions of the Patriot Act including roving wiretaps.  It’s one thing to talk it down when you’re not in the hot seat.  It’s another thing entirely when it’s your responsibility, eh?

The European Union, as a whole, could sink underneath the waves of debt very soon, having total debt equaling 100% of its annual gross domestic product.  A special commission "discovered" that a major reason is the socialist pensions and healthcare that the government guarantees.  And we want to follow them into this whirlpool?

And finally, the legacy of Major Nidal Malik Hasan, and a musing about whether or not political correctness will allow a candid and honest public discussion, or if more people will die at the PC altar.

Political Cartoon: All Equal Now

From Chuck Asay (click for full size):

Chuck Asay cartoon

Does old Europe really want to start really paying for their own defense?  They’ve played with socialism with the money they saved outsourcing their defense to us.  I’m guessing they can’t afford it.

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

How Monopoly Helped Allied Prisoners Escape

This story is a great antidote to the avalanche of political stories being blogged about of late. Few realize this but secret maps and other things were smuggled to Allied prisoners of war during World War II inside Monopoly sets. It’s a terrific story of ingenuity and creativity in keeping prisoners involved in the war effort. (Hat tip: Free Republic)

For fans of the game, check out Philip Orbanes terrific book Monopoly: The World’s Most Famous Game And How It Got That Way. I previously reviewed the book here.

The Forgotten War … Protestor

Remember Cindy Sheehan?  Well if you don’t, that’s OK.  Neither do here one-time comrades-in-arms who sat with her outside Bush’s Crawford ranch trying to get an 2nd meeting with the Commander-in-Chief.  She’s up in Martha’s Vineyard protesting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but she doesn’t have much company.

And neither does the media, who covered her so extensively, remember her, either.  It’s so bad that in order for the Huffington Post to even link to a story on her, it had to resort to quoting that stalwart national news organization the Cape Cod Times.

It was a media circus during the Bush years.  Now, suddenly, it’s gotten very, very quiet.  What a difference an administration makes.

Not So Much Anti-War As Anti-Bush

That was then.

Remember the anti-war movement? Not too long ago, the Democratic party’s most loyal voters passionately opposed the war in Iraq. Democratic presidential candidates argued over who would withdraw American troops the quickest. Netroots activists regularly denounced President George W. Bush, and sometimes the U.S. military ("General Betray Us"). Cindy Sheehan, the woman whose soldier son was killed in Iraq, became a heroine when she led protests at Bush’s Texas ranch.

This is now.

The news that emerged is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have virtually fallen off the liberal radar screen. Kossacks (as fans of DailyKos like to call themselves) who were consumed by the Iraq war when George W. Bush was president are now, with Barack Obama in the White House, not so consumed, either with Iraq or with Obama’s escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan. In fact, they barely seem to care.

As part of a straw poll done at the convention, the Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg presented participants with a list of policy priorities like health care and the environment. He asked people to list the two priorities they believed "progressive activists should be focusing their attention and efforts on the most." The winner, by far, was "passing comprehensive health care reform." In second place was enacting "green energy policies that address environmental concerns."

And what about "working to end our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan"? It was way down the list, in eighth place.

Perhaps more tellingly, Greenberg asked activists to name the issue that "you, personally, spend the most time advancing currently." The winner, again, was health care reform. Next came "working to elect progressive candidates in the 2010 elections." Then came a bunch of other issues. At the very bottom — last place, named by just one percent of participants — came working to end U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The only principle it seems that the vast majority of the Left stood for was partisan politics.  Their righteous indignation was so much veneer for their simple hatred of Dubya. 

War On … What, Exactly?

According to President Obama’s top counterterrorism official, we should no longer use the term "war on terror" to describe the struggle against jihadis.  Oops, sorry, John Brennan also said we’re not at war with jihadis either, since "jihad" is, "a legitimate term, ‘jihad,’ meaning to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal".  No, this should just be called a "war with al Qaeda", because after all, they’re really the only jihadi terrorists that hate us. 

Oh, and World War II is to be renamed in all future textbooks as the "War Against Adolf Hitler, Personally".  Otherwise, it would sound like it took place everywhere and was against the whole country of Germany.  Well, and Italy, but the "War Against Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, Personally" doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely.

And it’s not a global war either, says Johnny.  Just because al Qaeda operates in the Middle East and Africa, and attacked the US on its home soil, we don’t want to risk making it sound like they really are all over the place.  It’s an image thing, you know.  Control the message.

So my question is this; if this counterterrorism official says we’re not fighting terrorists, what does that say about his position as a … counterterrorism official?  Perhaps he’d just rather put up a sign over his door saying, "Mission Accomplished" and hit the golf course.


Regarding Gitmo detainees who may have been acquitted,

Like the Bush administration, the Obama administration argues that the legal basis for indefinite detention of aliens it considers dangerous is separate from war-crimes prosecutions. Officials say that the laws of war allow indefinite detention to prevent aliens from committing warlike acts in future, while prosecution by military commission aims to punish them for war crimes committed in the past.

On national security, Obama has pretty much held the Bush line.  But hey, he gave great speeches about Change, so it’s OK.

Guantanamo Fray

Following similar action in the House, the Senate voted (rather overwhelmingly; 90-6) to reject the shutdown of the Guantanamo Bay detention center.  The Left has made this a drumbeat for years, but now that they’re in a position to actually do something about it, they suddenly get all NIMBY on the issue.

Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said that none of Guantánamo’s detainees should be transferred to the US to stand trial or serve time in prison. “We don’t want them around,” he said. “I can’t make it any more clear … We will never allow terrorists to be released in the United States.”

“Terrorists”?  I thought they were a bunch of wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time, dragnet detainees that the ACLU is just waiting to spring.  But now Harry Reid is calling them “terrorists”.  Well yeah, that does rather change the calculus on the whole situation, doesn’t it?  If we’d only known then what we know now, right?

And it seems most of the countries where Obama thought he could pawn off these “victims cum terrorists” are closing their doors, after saying that they would be open lo these many years.  Apparently, they were “just words”.  So now, Congressional Democrats find themselves between Barack and a hard place, a situation of their own making as their candidate campaigned on, apparently, “just words”, but no real exit strategy from Gitmo.

But Scott Ott, news satirist at his own site and now columnist at the Washington Examiner, “reports” that Obama has announced a new tactic; simply declare the detainees as “fetuses”.

While accused terrorists have access to attorneys, and nearly-limitless legal appeals, a fetus has no legal standing, cannot speak for itself, and is subject to the death penalty without regard to guilt or innocence.

Civil rights advocates have pressured Obama to follow through on campaign promises to shutter Gitmo, but even Democrats in Congress have resisted bringing the inmates to U.S. soil for trials and incarceration.

“We can debate whether enemy combatants have access to protections under the U.S. Constitution,” said Obama. “However, no serious person would grant such protection to an embryo or fetus. The loss of 240 fetuses wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in a nation where more than 3,000 of them hit the Dumpster daily.”

The president noted that America’s global reputation has been devastated by U.S. treatment of terror suspects, but that “our treatment of a million fetuses each year earns us nothing but admiration, and requests for clinic-funding from those who aspire to be like us.”

Sources acknowledged continuing White House debate about whether a terrorist who escapes from Gitmo alive can still be treated as a fetus.

Nobody, save for some right-wing extremists, could possibly object to that, eh?

Situation Question: Who Said It?

That’s the introduction from a Bible Quiz master in our denomination when he or she is about to quote someone’s words and is asking who spoke those words.  So here’s a similar question for you; who said these words?  One hint is that it’s from a category of people, not a single speaker.  Another is that they’re talking about Arab extremists and our foreign policy towards them.

"Openness for the sake of openness makes the situation more complicated and sends the wrong message."

Appeasing extremists tells them, "that extremism is the most effective way to attract the U.S.’s attention, and to compel them to conduct dialogue."

When Pakistan was too soft on terrorists, the result was “more murders and torture of those opposed to the movement and more suffering for the people."

“Despite all [Obama’s conciliatory actions], violence has increased….None of these elements have changed their positions–despite everything Obama has done since assuming the presidency. Every step [Obama] takes towards [his foes] will only prompt them to challenge him."

So who said it?  Neocons?  The staff at National Review?  Former Bush administration officials?  A conservative think tank?

If you guessed any of them, the quiz master takes away 10 points for an error. 

If you guessed moderate Arabs, you get 20 points.  Barry Rubin has the details.

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

Good News from Gitmo

The prisoners don’t want to leave.

BAGHDAD (AFP) — An increasing number of Iraqi detainees are refusing to leave detention centres despite being eligible for release because they want to complete studies begun behind bars, a US general said on Sunday.

“In the last three or four months we have begun seeing detainees asking to stay in detention, usually to complete their studies,” Major General Douglas Stone told a news conference in Baghdad.

The US military offers a wide range of educational programmes to the 23,000 or so detainees — adults and juveniles — being held at its two detention facilities, Camp Cropper near Baghdad’s international airport and Camp Bucca near the southern port city of Basra.

Some parents of juvenile detainees, too, have asked that their children remain behind bars so they can continue their schooling, said Stone, the commanding general for US detainee operations in Iraq.

The US military, he added, was not encouraging the trend.

“We don’t want them to remain in detention,” he said. “When they are no longer considered a threat we want them to go home.”

(Hat tip: Betsy Newmark.)  Just keep this in mind when human rights groups complain about how bad the place is.  What kinds of a “concentration camp” educates its own prisoners to the point that they’d rather not leave?

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.

Israel Moves to the Right

The election in Israel, the outcome of which makes parliamentary government very entertaining to watch, gave more votes to right-leaning parties than to left-leaning ones.  Meryl Yourish with the analysis:

The vote in Israel shows that a majority of Israelis voted for right-leaning parties. Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party, loathed by many for issues like wanting Arab Israelis to swear a loyalty oath, won fifteen seats in the Knesset. Labor, the party that gave us the worst Defense Minister ever (but the best Stalin lookalike, Amir Peretz) won only thirteen. The “peace” parties—the parties that the world most expected to bring peace to Israel and the Palestinians—were shoved aside. Why is that? Why is Labor doomed to the opposition, and Meretz even more marginalized than before?

Her answer is basically that the rockets voted. That’s actually a phrase I read in an opinion piece in the Atlantic, though it does convey her meaning. 

But the thing is, the rocket fire hasn’t traumatized the Israelis so much as it has woken them up.

Israelis want peace. But the policies of the last decade have failed. So Israelis are voting for the strong horse, as they say, but only just. The right-leaning parties have a bare majority in a 120-seat Knesset. The majority of Israelis no longer trust the peace process, because they’ve tried it for decades, and every time Israel gives up land, in return, they get terror.

The Gaza Strip was not blockaded when Israel first pulled out. Instead of working on building Gaza up economically, Gazans destroyed every last vestige of Israel, including the greenhouses, and then installed Hamas firmly into the government. The message to Israel was clear: We’re still going to destroy you. The thousands of missiles carried that message to southern Israel on a regular basis. Even now, Hamas refuses to stop the rockets, refuses to put aside “resistance,” and still calls for an Islamic state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Israelis aren’t stupid. They were hopeful. They were optimistic. They were willing to believe that the Palestinians wanted peace just as much as they did.

They were wrong.

And that’s why the Israeli vote went to the right. Not because of the drivel that you read in the AP that says Israelis have a “self image as a besieged nation surrounded by enemies.” Not because “many Israelis are still traumatized by the Palestinian uprising.”

Sorry, John Lennon.  They gave peace a chance, for decades, frankly, and through the barrage of thousands of terrorist attacks in just the last 7 years.  Every effort and concession has been made and still their adversaries will simply not abide by their agreements. 

So now, Israel has spoken, and softly at that.  This was not an overwhelming change in political power, but it was significant.  Israel’s attackers have been put on notice.  Once more.

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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