The Discerning Texan
-- Edmund Burke
Sunday, December 31, 2006
The Jihadists War Against the US Education System
Indeed, as I argued in my book Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America and the West, one of the most dramatic failures of US strategic defense against Al Qaeda on Sept. 11 and against the jihadist war against America during the 1990s was that neither the government nor the public knew they were at war and that a terrorist declaration of war had been in effect against America for years.Phares concludes that an overwhelming cause of this informational deficit is a glaring hole in our higher education system. As the ACT newsletter put it: "The piece argues that for the past two decades the American educational system has been targeted and impacted by Oil producing regimes leading to a derailing of the national security analysis. The article underlines the fact that by reaching the classrooms, Wahabi and Khumeinist influence was affecting the newsrooms." As Phares puts it in his article:
The central conclusion of the 9/11 Commission’s examination of the failure was that “Americans had a failure of imagination”—meaning that even if the US was better equipped technologically and more alert on intelligence levels, something was missing in the US resistance to terrorism.
The commission was unable to comprehend why analysts, decision makers and leaders—even as information about fragments of threats poured in— didn’t conclude that there was an Al Qaeda offensive and, more dangerously, that a global jihadist war had been mobilizing forces around the world and within the West against democracies, in general, and America, in particular. One of the commissioners, during the summer 2004 hearings, asked repeatedly: “Why didn’t the US government acknowledge that a war was declared in 1996 and in 1998 against America?"
Many US leaders and commentators after him added: Why hadn’t we declared war back at them, before the attacks took place, if, indeed, the jihadists have been on the offensive for a decade?
One of the major results of the 1973 oil crisis was the rise of a determination by many oil producing regimes that the West, in general, and the United States, in particular, “understand” the greater Middle East, the Arab and the Muslim world and, accordingly, design its policies toward those regimes and ideologies on the basis of this “understanding."As always, the equation becomes "follow the money," and the fact is that hundreds of millions of grants from Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries to American Universities since the early '70's have so tainted objectivity in our higher education system as to have completely "softened" the American public (and journalists!) for the Jihad to come. This made it that much easier for the public at large to buy the whole "it's all America's fault" argument post 9/11 and Iraq, when instead it should have had a much more realistic understanding of the true nature of global Islamic Jihadism and the threat to all non-Muslims of the gathering storm.
As a result, millions of dollars were invested in American and European educational institutions as a way to “foster” this understanding. But instead of fostering an objective understanding or spreading impartial knowledge, the growing influence of Wahabism, an extreme form of Islam, and other such ideologies on the nation’s campuses played a dangerous role: Because of the ideological nature of the donors, the financed programs followed the guidelines of the donor regimes and organizations, which obviously narrowed research and teaching to issues remote from the major historical crisis in the region, other than the modern Arab-Israeli conflict. It removed all serious attention to the rise of Islamism, jihadism and even Baathism, as well as the deep ethnic and religious conflicts and the mass abuse of human rights in that part of the world.
A careful review of curricula and research projects established within the US educational system, both public and private, since the 1980s stunningly reveals that American classrooms were deprived of knowledge on social, historical, ethnic and ideological movements rising to challenge the United States. Moreover, as I taught comparative studies for over a decade and lectured on many campuses in the 1990s, I came to realize that defense, strategic and security studies were heavily influenced by “regional” studies when it came to identifying the backgrounds of international terrorist movements emerging from the greater Middle East and penetrating western societies. History and Middle Eastern studies had been corrupted by Wahabi and other funding with an impact on political science, international relations and, ultimately, defense and security studies across the land.
A thorough review of the annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, the Middle East Studies Association of America, the International Studies Association, the Middle East Institute and other professional education associations, of the hundreds of books, publications, articles, talks and research grants distributed by Ivy League universities and other colleges lead to only one conclusion: The gap is immense. There are no traces of the roots of jihadism and its long-term objectives against democracies and the United States. Instead, prominent scholars produced an enormous amount of literature precisely deflecting scholars and students away from the most serious issues related to American defense and security after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The “hole” was so vast and the “deflection” (not to use the term “deception”) so wide that a systemic problem strode the field producing waves of effects into the professional worlds of the media and policy. An academic lobotomy led to an incapacitation of the public learning process about the national security threat and created a cultural crisis in perception. In short, if one isn’t taught about the political thinking of the enemy and his ideological objectives in the classroom, where else would one catch up?
With this systemic crisis inside America’s educational system expanding during the 1990s, a “mollification” of the national perception of the threat began. Deprived of the basic data and information about the terrorist threat, citizens were at the mercy of the elites’ debates. The latter, during the years leading to 9/11, were increasingly apologetic toward America’s most lethal enemies: Salafist and Khomeinist jihadists.
Despite the series of attacks, speeches and visible moves of radical jihadists worldwide, US national perception was blurred by the academic and educational deflection. Jihadism, for example, was described by leading “specialists,” many of whom have advised media and government for years, as a “theological experiment and spiritual phenomenon.”
Those who spread the doctrine of jihadism in America during the 1990s had no counter check from the public or government, while even a minimal manifestation of Nazism, anti- Semitism or domestic violent racism was quickly countered. Clearly, Americans never lacked for imagination, but they were deprived of the necessary information.
When historians analyze the War on Terror in the near future, they will most likely look back at the war of ideas preceding 9/11 and understand the role academia played as a central battlefield leading to the weakening and defeat of the country, before it rose back in resistance. For if the fields of foreign policy, regional studies and international relations teaching—the most sensitive feeders for security and defense decision-making—were obsolete in identifying the “enemy,” all that is left to national security is the last shield, which is the hope that intelligence and counterterrorism sensors can catch the raiders at the doors or beyond the gates. And that’s what didn’t occur in 1993, 1998 and 2001.The terror offensive against America was preceded by a War of Ideas, blurring the eyes of the nation.
If intellectual blurring starts in classrooms, it soon reaches the newsrooms and, eventually, the intelligence rooms and war rooms. If young Americans are mistaught the ideology, political culture and intentions of the enemy while at school and in college, once graduated, they will carry this misperception with them as they find jobs and are recruited in all the layers of national analysis. Students enter the media, legislative research, security, intelligence, foreign policy, justice, think tanks and other sectors crucial for national decision making at the bottom levels and rise up to the ultimate positions.
By failing students in the classrooms, the educational system caused a national analysis failure: Media failed to report terrorism as it should have, impacting government’s various levels of policymaking; intelligence analysis, deprived of cultural understanding, saw the data but couldn’t put the bigger picture together; courts couldn’t process the concepts of terrorism beyond criminality; and, ultimately, both the legislative and executive branches were denied sound advice on the war already in progress against the country.
In conclusion, the failure in education led to a derailment of national analysis.
Phares makes many concrete recommendations for how to counter this "attention deficit" in the remainder of his article (read and ponder them here). But one thing is clear, even to the layperson: if we do not do something about vetting the sources and purpose of monies flowing into our educational system (including science; see: funding for Global Warming research, etc.), and about similarly vetting curriculums to ensure that Universities promote full understanding of this threat--our ability to win a war that may take decades to win, and to ensure the future for our children will be severely hampered. In a Democracy, to wage a successful war--especially a long war--depends dramatically on public support for that war. In a war where nothing less than the future of Western Civilization is at stake, an enormously important front in that war is right here at home with our educational system. It is time for the Ward Churchills in our midst to be tossed into the dustbin of history where they belong. Our future depends on it.
2007 Resolution for US: Take Jihad Seriously, Plan Strategically
The United States of America has some of the smartest leaders in government, military, and business in the world. Yet the American government has failed to collectively use this formidable brain-power 5+ years after the attack by Jihadists on the American homeland to develop a truly strategic plan to fight the global threat of Jihad and Islamist extremism. In one of the most complex wars in American history, rather than starting with holistic, big-picture thinking towards the challenges and prioritizing resources and actions accordingly, America has spent much of the past five years after 9/11 in reactive and bureaucratic churning.
The recent reports about a lack of understanding of the role of individual Islamic groups in Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda by the new House Intelligence Panel Chairman and lack of knowledge of Sunni/Shiite groups by some FBI counterterrorism executives are not "isolated incidents". Nor is the limited number of FBI agents with Arabic language skills - five years after 9/11 - an "isolated problem". While these stories may exaggerate the limitations and educational challenges in such groups, they highlight the problem for American government in prioritization of education and resources, due to lack of a fundamental blueprint and analysis in understanding the larger problem of Jihad and global Islamist extremism. This lack of a blueprint prevents the government leadership from effectively evaluating options and priorities.
Recently, Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark O. Schissler has stated that the fight against Islamist extremism will be a "generational war" with both military and ideological components comparable to the Cold War against Communism. However, what Brig. General Schissler does not share is the national blueprint that America needs to be using for this generational war, that has been reviewed and analyzed by national leaders and scholars of Jihad and global Islamist extremism, that is needed for such a long-term effort, which is vastly more than simply military and "counterterrorism" activities. As Douglas Farah has pointed out, "[t]here is very little work being done in looking at the 10 to 20 year horizon on where Islamists are now", but mostly 3 to 5 year horizon thinking typically done n the Pentagon and Intelligence Community. This is yet another symptom of the larger problem in the lack of any larger, overall national strategic blueprint that focuses on all aspects of the global challenge.
The American government has been able to develop a group to investigate and issue a report on the 9/11 attacks, resulting in a 9/11 Commission Report, and now an Iraq Study Group, but it has yet to develop a cross-section of American scholars and leaders to research and develop a strategy on national countermeasures against global Jihad and Islamist extremist activity. There is no "Islamist Study Group" or "Jihadist Study Group" as a blueprint for government countermeasures in the larger global war, which requires greater political fortitude to face up to. As a result, American policy is focused on individual tactics in military battles in individual countries, and strategic assumptions related to "counterterrorism" and "homeland security" tactics - all of which, while more politically correct, provide a false sense of accomplishment. None of these tactical focuses can replace the need for a larger, strategic vision that encompasses all tactical aspects of the war, including but not limited to: cultural, demographic, economic, energy, educational, communications, intelligence (domestic and foreign), preparedness, law enforcement, and military areas.
Individuals have provided ground-breaking efforts to provide components of such a blueprint. For example, Walid Phares has provided a thorough analysis of Islamist groups in his book "Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against America", and has been promoting more thorough education on Jihad. Mark Steyn has provided an incisive analysis of cultural and demographic challenges in his recent book "America Alone". Steven Emerson provided ground-breaking work in analyzing the Jihadist groups in America in his book "American Jihad". Robert Spencer has provided in depth analysis of the Islamist basis for Jihad in his many books. Numerous other scholars have provided valuable educational components to be used in a national blueprint that is yet to be created to guide America's efforts in fighting Jihadists. But the blueprint effort has not yet started, and it must be a priority for the American government in 2007.
In 2004, the Netherlands government published a study, "From Dawa to Jihad", detailing the threats from radical Islam. The value of this type of study is in its focus towards studying the concepts of such Islamist extremism as a basis for a national debate on potential countermeasures. The American government needs these types of studies and a national debate on the larger strategic issues of the global Jihadist and Islamist challenge in 2007.
While the Jihadists and Islamists have no singular approach, the diverse factions of the enemy have a consistency in a long-term strategy towards imposing Sharia on an ever-expanding Islamist world or in establishing a caliphate. The ability of Jihadists and Islamists to focus on long-term, strategic planning is what the USA lacks in countering such challenges on a global basis, ranging from the more parochial objectives of Islamists in individual nations who seek to establish Islamist governments to the Al-Qaeda "20 year plan".
Why has the United States government been so incapable of addressing this national blueprint and study group for addressing Jihadist and Islamist threat?
There are multiple problems here:
1. Reactive, tactical thinking for quick-fix approaches to the Jihadist problem and achieving "homeland security". As virtually all of the government planning regarding the Jihadist problem has been a reaction to the 9/11 attacks, it is predictable that such thinking would be highly tactical, reactive, and focused on near-term protective and military measures. This was perhaps excusable or at least understandable 1 to 6 months after the 9/11 attacks. It is now 5+ years after 9/11 attacks, however, and this excuse has long since run its course. But the government approach towards addressing the Jihadist problem is no more robust or strategic than it was in the early months of 2002. The organizational approach to "homeland security" is based on such reactive thinking, and has developed a bureaucracy based on such organization. Yet there has been no determination as to what the term "homeland security" even means in a larger sense other than a reaction to the 9/11 attacks, and certainly not as a component in a larger government blueprint regarding Jihad and global Islamism. Thus, there is no "homeland security" for the economy, culture, demographics, and dozens of other war components vital for winning the long term war.
2. Believing that fighting "terrorism" itself is an end, when terrorism is only one tactic in a larger, global Jihadist strategy. Thus, we have a "War on Terror", and neither the true enemy nor the true threat is clearly identified. Furthermore, the focus on both military objectives and "counterterrorism" lack context within a well-defined war strategy and blueprint regarding Jihad and global Islamism, which has uses many other tactics other than terrorism to meet its objectives. While it is acknowledged that no terrorist attacks have taken place on the American homeland since 9/11, Jihadists have been and continue to use communications tactics, demographic tactics, political tactics, and economic tactics quite effectively against the USA and the rest of the world. We are hampered by the language which makes "counterterrorism" and "counterintelligence" sound unnecessarily robust, when we are really only addressing measures against a single tactic of war in both cases. We would not fight a military war with only anti-tank or anti-aircraft measures. Moreover, we would not fight any war solely on a military front. But in this war, the American government has thus far only prioritized military and counterterrorism activities.
3. Institutional failure in investigating what the Jihadist problem is and fully understanding it or developing a shared understanding that can be used for strategic planning. The American government seems to believe any serious investigation into Jihad and Islamism will be counterproductive to winning the hearts and minds of Moderate Muslims in fighting terrorism. This argument makes sense if America is only fighting "terrorists" and "terrorist activity". But the facts are that Jihadist terrorist activity is funded, supported, and based on larger Islamist organizations - ranging from educational centers to charities to political groups. Ignoring the basis for Jihadist terrorism leads to an endless pursuit of trying to cure symptoms without ever acknowledging or treating the source of the symptoms. America did not fear offending Germans in fighting Nazism or offending Russians in fighting Communism. Like past wars in fighting totalitarian ideologies, a thorough understanding is needed of these and a comprehensive, strategic war plan against every tactic is needed against such Jihad.
4. Mistaking the use of strategic assumptions in tactical approaches to issues as "strategic thinking" on the larger threat. For example, Michael Chertoff has frequently indicated that one of the strategic assumptions of DHS is to prevent a nuclear attack on American soil, with appropriate tactical emphasis on this. Such strategic assumptions in general tactics in an element of a war are not the same as an overall strategic thinking in fighting the larger war, and looking at all aspects of the war (economic, energy, communications, cultural, demographic, etc.). But this surface-level of strategic assumptions in both counterterrorism and in military engagements are as far as the American government is currently going. Situational strategic assumptions are not the same as a long-term, big-picture, war strategy.
Objections to strategic thinking and planning are plentiful and well-rationalized. The multitude and rationalization for these objections, however, do not make them any less wrong. And it is precisely this lack of strategic thinking and planning that Jihadists are truly counting on. As Bin Laden has repeatedly stated, he hopes that America will bankrupt itself pursuing individual avenues of military conflict against Jihadists: "We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah".
In 2007, it is time for the American government to step back, evaluate and identify the scope of the threat of global Jihad and Islamism, and wisely prioritize the best way to use our limited resources to fight this generational war. The fight against Jihad is a marathon, not a sprint, and America needs to fight smarter to win.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Superb Round-Up on the Life and Death of Saddam
The Intensifying Jihad in France
This article (translated by Google translation tools) from IslamOnline tackles the issue of French Muslims joining terrorists in Jihad in different spots of the world. The issue is so huge that even IslamOnline.net has to acknowledge it. The translation at least conveys the meaning which is that (according to the writer) unemployment, poverty and marginalization in society causes these French to join the Jihad.
These are the same false arguments that Islamic apologists present everytime and Robert Spencer and Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch along with other have refuted them time and again (also here).
In addition to these arguments I add one of mine. Western societies, even, even if we assume that there is this huge bias and marginalization against immigrants and Muslims, offer a times the opportunity available in the Arab world. Freedom of worship, freedom to think and do, freedom to write, public libraries, grants, access to money, etc. I had a French boss 13 years ago who was a reasonable and wonderful man but he once told me that he was so mad at Arabs in France. His reason was the fact that as a native born white French man, whose ancestors were French he could not get a loan to buy a house at reasonable terms. On the other hand he had a Moroccan neighbor who was unemployed and had 7 children who lived off the monthly subsidy the French government provided for each child. When that immigrant needed a house the government either gave him one or gave him a no interest loan (I cannot remember). That immigrant's only contribution to French society was the fact that he came to France, had sex, had 7 children and them sat on his butt and did nothing while my boss toiled to feed his family of 4.
Jihadists know all of these things unfortunately they use their freedoms to move and speak to plot terrorist operations in Europe. Their arguments about injustice and marginalization are only to fuel the guilt in Europeans and Americans who feel bad for brown skinned people or people of color in general which is a guilt that is grossly unfounded since our liberal historians have made us feel as if we are the only nation in all of history who committed the gross atrocities of slavery and discrimination. All this while ignoring the fact that every civilization in history (including the Islamic civilization) contributed to slavery, segregation and discrimination in ways and to a degree that the Western Civilization practice of slavery and segregation at one point makes it look like a model of tolerance and brotherly love. It is time for the West to realize that and release itself from the shackles of guilt imposed on it by liberal historians, the mainstream media and PC correct institutions.
Congressman-elect Keith Ellison: Islamic Hardliner
Welcome to the New Democrat Party.
On the Death of Saddam
No, there is nothing funny about killing this brute, a man who has shown no remorse nor the slightest flicker of regret at the trail of dead bodies he has left in the wake of a life spent torturing and murdering anyone who opposed him. The fact that the world knew of this brutality and did nothing about it – including the US government who marginally assisted the beast in his war of conquest against Iran – only goes to show that anyone who believes in the efficacy of the UN is only kidding themselves. Tyrants like Saddam will exist as long as the governments of the world carry on business as usual with the despots while trying to block the screams of their victims from conscious thought.
Saddam may have been a particularly brutal tyrant. But the difference between his regime and the regimes of dozens of others around the world is only a matter of degree – thousands dead or tortured instead of hundreds of thousands. It says a lot about humanity at this stage of our evolution as a social species that we can be so sanguine about the murderous depredations of a Robert Mugabe or a Islom Karimov simply because the body count hasn’t achieved the elevated status of a Saddam or a Kim Jung Il. We in the civilized world can tune out the cries for succor from the oppressed rather easily – international law, free flow of oil, international commerce, even the War on Terrorism – take your pick. One excuse is as good as another.
I wish I could believe that hanging Saddam will make other tyrants pause and clean up their acts, hoping to avoid suffering a similar fate. But you and I know that is wishful thinking. What is more probable is that the dictators will redouble their efforts to stifle opposition thinking it will guarantee their security – at least from their own people.
But in the end, whether it’s having your neck snapped by a taut rope or dying peacefully in your bed, the criminal oppressors who cause so much human misery and suffering will all come face to face with their own mortality. And I have to believe that as the curtain rings down on their existence, the cold hand of fear will grip their failing heart as they contemplate an eternity that may include torments far surpassing those they meted out during their useless, failed existence on this planet.
In that last point, about facing one's mortality, even Saddam seems to have come to peace with it in this sense: he reportedly urged Iraqis to forgive one another and warned that the true evil to be concerned with is Iran.
So, perhaps, even tyrants are capable of moments of sanity. If those were indeed his dying words, Saddam's former Baathist zealots would do well to consider and heed them. But in any case this much is clear to all Iraqis--who either prospered or suffered under this mass-murderer--he will never return to power again. And so the only way now is forward.
Perhaps the last words of a tyrannical mass-murderer facing his own death can somehow have enough impact on some of his former henchmen as to become his one documented act of clarity and compassion in an otherwise monstrous existence.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Check-In for One
Scratch one mass-murderer.
Cartoon by Michael Ramirez (click to enlarge)
Post of the Day: My First Encounter with the Beast
We are Being Stalked By a Beast
Its spirit is focused on us because we are what it calls Dhimmis. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think of yourself as a Dhimmi, to the beast you are different so you are Dhimmi. The beast knows in its heart that you have not done anything to harm it but the beast is in pain and it will blame you and anyone else it sees. The closest get blamed first, then the next closest. It hates you. It envies you. It considers your existence an affront. It wants to destroy you. I have felt the hot breath of this beast on the back of my neck, have you? My story is below. Send me your story. I will post the best ones here.
The blog's author, Yaacov Ben Moshe, then posts his own First Encounter with the Beast. You will want to read it and think about it.
Let us hope that other stories appearing on this new blog continue to live up to the power of the first one: Well done, sir.
Lieberman to the Rescue
I've just spent 10 days traveling in the Middle East and speaking to leaders there, all of which has made one thing clearer to me than ever: While we are naturally focused on Iraq, a larger war is emerging. On one side are extremists and terrorists led and sponsored by Iran, on the other moderates and democrats supported by the United States. Iraq is the most deadly battlefield on which that conflict is being fought. How we end the struggle there will affect not only the region but the worldwide war against the extremists who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001.
Because of the bravery of many Iraqi and coalition military personnel and the recent coming together of moderate political forces in Baghdad, the war is winnable. We and our Iraqi allies must do what is necessary to win it.
The American people are justifiably frustrated by the lack of progress, and the price paid by our heroic troops and their families has been heavy. But what is needed now, especially in Washington and Baghdad, is not despair but decisive action -- and soon.
The most pressing problem we face in Iraq is not an absence of Iraqi political will or American diplomatic initiative, both of which are increasing and improving; it is a lack of basic security. As long as insurgents and death squads terrorize Baghdad, Iraq's nascent democratic institutions cannot be expected to function, much less win the trust of the people. The fear created by gang murders and mass abductions ensures that power will continue to flow to the very thugs and extremists who have the least interest in peace and reconciliation.
This bloodshed, moreover, is not the inevitable product of ancient hatreds. It is the predictable consequence of a failure to ensure basic security and, equally important, of a conscious strategy by al-Qaeda and Iran, which have systematically aimed to undermine Iraq's fragile political center. By ruthlessly attacking the Shiites in particular over the past three years, al-Qaeda has sought to provoke precisely the dynamic of reciprocal violence that threatens to consume the country.
On this point, let there be no doubt: If Iraq descends into full-scale civil war, it will be a tremendous battlefield victory for al-Qaeda and Iran. Iraq is the central front in the global and regional war against Islamic extremism.
To turn around the crisis we need to send more American troops while we also train more Iraqi troops and strengthen the moderate political forces in the national government. After speaking with our military commanders and soldiers there, I strongly believe that additional U.S. troops must be deployed to Baghdad and Anbar province -- an increase that will at last allow us to establish security throughout the Iraqi capital, hold critical central neighborhoods in the city, clamp down on the insurgency and defeat al-Qaeda in that province.
Read the rest here; it makes one wonder why Joe doesn't simply bow to the inevitable and caucus with the Republicans--it makes far more sense than does the continued charade that Lieberman has anything in common with the left-leaning Democrat leadership.
The Clueless Left Asks: Why is US so worried about Islamic Fascists in Somalia?
al-Sadr: Digging a Deeper Hole?
Muqtada Sadr's faction in Iraq is up in arms -- not quite literally yet -- because we killed a top Sadr aide who was also an "improvised explosive device facilitator" and "implicated in a bomb attack on a police chief in October."
The Mahdi Miltia, while insisting that Saheb al-Amiri was not a member, nevertheless threatened retaliation for his death (go figure). Reuters warns the United States that we'd better watch out and, presumably, stop killing Mahdi Militia bomb-makers (yes, I confess I believe American military spokespeople in preference to Sadr's propagandists):
Najaf, home to Iraq's top Shi'ite clerics, was the site of a 2004 rebellion against U.S. forces by militias loyal to Sadr, who also has power bases in Baghdad.
Another uprising against U.S. forces by Sadr Mehdi Army militias would be a major headache for the U.S. military, which has 135,000 troops in a country gripped by Shi'ite-Sunni strife.
But is that really true? Would it really be a "headache" for us? Or would it, contrariwise, be a great gift to us -- allowing us to tear into the Mahdi Militia without having to get a permission slip from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki?
If Sadr were to order his Mighty Morphin Mahdi Militia to assail American forces, to take a third bite at the apple by investing Najaf, I think it would be a dream come true: there is no way that Maliki -- already compromised by his close connection with Sadr -- could order us to ignore the Mahdi Militia doing something as over-the-top as capturing a city and declaring themselves a power separate from the Iraqi government... certainly not when the largest Shiite political party, the SCIRI, is already scheming to oust Maliki for being too beholden to Sadr (thus to Iran).
The Sadr bloc, which comprises 30 members of parliament and six cabinet ministers, have been boycotting Maliki's government since he met President Bush last month.
The best that Maliki could do would be to stay silent, say nothing while we turned upon Sadr and his merry men and ground the militia into a shadow of itself. This would yield three great outcomes:
- It would severely damage the most violent and destructive Shiite militia in Iraq;
- It would cripple Nouri al-Maliki by hurting his patron, making it much easier to oust him (or alternatively, to induce him to switch parties from Islamic Dawa to SCIRI and repudiate Sadr);
- Finally, by knocking Sadr out of the power block, it would even more seriously cripple Iran.
Unfortunately for us, all of the players can make the same calculation; thus, it's extraordinarily unlikely that the Mahdi Militia will actually attack American forces, or Iraqi forces, or anything else that could serve as casus belli to draw the United States into a pitched battle that we couldn't possibly lose.
Now that I think about it, there are a lot more cards on the table today than there were in November. We have:
- A restive Mahdi Militia that might make a critical mistake and open themselves up to a terrible defeat;
- A fairly open attempt to remove Maliki and substitute someone from SCIRI, who will be very happy to go after Sadr hammer and nail (the attempt is not viewed happily by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, but I doubt he can stop the attempt);
- Proof positive that Iran is directly killing Americans and Iraqis in Iraq --
- -- and whose economy is tanking and oil revenues running dry
- -- whose students are in open revolt and whose citizens are voting against President Ahmadinejad --
- -- and which just spat in the face of the UN Security Council so blatantly that even the French were stunned.
We already had the best starting hand (the U.S. military), and now we've picked up a lot of good cards. We should be feeling pretty good about our chances right about now.
Boo-yah! What a superb New Year's Gift Sadr's scalp would be...
Why are they showing Snuff Films in Mosques
Is there a reason why anyone would be showing an American soldier snuff film at the Yusufiya Mosque in Iraq?
-Is this a standard practice at the Yusufiya mosque?... or any mosque?
-Is there any possible explanation for this?
-Was this during the weekly service?
Wouldn't you find it a bit odd if they were to start showing snuff films after a Sunday Catholic Mass?
There is more here.
Captured Iranians in Iraq were "Elite Revolutionary Guards"
Two Iranians detained by U.S. forces in Iraq were senior members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and had coordinated attacks against coalition troops and Iraqi civilians, the head of an Iranian opposition group said Thursday.
The White House said earlier this week that U.S. troops had caught a group of Iranians in a raid on suspected insurgents in Iraq. Two of the men had diplomatic immunity and were released them to Iran, but the other two were kept in custody.
Maryam Rajavi, who heads the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NICR), an anti-regime umbrella group based in Paris, said the two men being held were senior members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Qods force and were responsible for sectarian attacks in Iraq.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
When it comes to Negotiating with Iran...
The Blogs of War: How We Can Win
I wrote this paper as an attempt to describe how the blogosphere works; to situate it vis-a-vis the mainstream media and to indicate some of the ways it can be used as a weapon of information warfare. The reader may find many of the ideas half-baked, and the reader would be right. But perhaps this flawed little monograph can contribute in some small way to a discussion of what the blogosphere is and what it's future might be. I truly believe that "it is possible that in the long run the global public will come to rely on fellow Internet users to learn about the world more than it will from professional journalists."
The Blogosphere at War
There is considerable interest in the idea that "blogs" are somehow able to offset the mainstream media's (MSM) ability to sell a given narrative to the public, a power which is of considerable interest in peace and even more so in war. It is widely recognized that molding public perceptions through narratives is nearly as important in war as the outcomes on the actual battlefield. Palestinian Media Watch convincingly demonstrates that Arab and Muslim organizations have long made influencing international publics through print and broadcast media a strategic goal, especially in any confrontation with Israel. This effort has historically followed two tracks: the establishment of technically sophisticated media outlets like al-Jazeera to sell messages directly to audiences; and mounting information operations aimed at shaping the way in which Western Media outlets cover any issue of interest.
Although these efforts have long been in train, it was Israel's 2006 war with Hezbollah that fully demonstrated how far the the virtual "power of the airwaves" could neutralize physical "airpower", in the striking analogy used by Michael Widlanski. Hezbollah's skillful use of the media during that war, especially in playing up and inflating casualties from an Israeli airstrike at Qana in Southern Lebanon, succeed in generating enough diplomatic pressure to ground the Israeli Airforce -- the strongest airforce in the Middle East -- while permitting Hezbollah to rain rockets down upon Israel. It was a tremendous achievement. Although the IDF dominated the kinetic war against Hezbollah, on the information battlefield things were often the reverse. One IDF spokesmen stationed on the Northern Front recently told an audience how he was haplessly herding literally one thousand journalists, many of whom were besieging him with questions fueled by rumor, innuendo and sometimes outright lie delivered over their Blackberries, radios and cellular phones. The middle-aged spokesman realized how drastically the game had changed from the public relations wars of his youth. Looking out on the hordes of journalists wired to their comms the spokesman realized how out of date he had become. "We were immigrants to a new world in which both the media reporters and the enemy were native".Read the rest here now!
UPDATE: One of Wretcherd's readers suggested another link with a similar message. Check it out.
Time-Warner / CNN: Jihadist Snuff Video On Demand
Time-Warner Cable Subscribers: take it from me Direct TV cleans their clock. Isn't it time you made a statement about their choice of "Family Programming" (note the PG rating here).
Video: James Brolin recommends 9/11 Conspiracy site on 'The View'
Welcome to the Twilight Zone.
Links, Video, and Commentary from Allahpundit.
Is US finally taking off the gloves against al-Sadr?
The US has delivered a message to Moqtada al-Sadr in the ongoing struggle to contain the violence in Baghdad and end the sectarian militias. A raid by US and Iraqi Army forces killed a high-ranking aide to Sadr who had supplied IEDs used in attacks against Iraqi forces:
Up to now, the US has deferred to Nouri al-Maliki on the question of Sadr, and predictably Sadr has taken the opportunity to grow more aggressive. However, after walking out of the governing coalition recently, Sadr has reduced the deterrent to act against his militias -- and the US took advantage of that opportunity in kind.
A top deputy of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was killed Wednesday during a raid by U.S. and Iraqi troops in the southern holy city of Najaf, sparking protests from Sadr's followers and complicating an already tense relationship with the powerful anti-American leader.
Hurling rocks and shouting expletives, thousands of angry Sadr loyalists marched through the streets of Najaf after Sahib al-Amiri was shot and killed by a U.S. soldier during an early morning raid. "Agents and stooges!" protesters shouted at Iraqi soldiers and local authorities.
U.S. military officials declined to confirm that Amiri was a Sadr aide, saying only that he had provided explosives for use against Iraqi and U.S. forces. Sadr officials said Amiri was an aide and a lawyer who ran an educational organization that helped orphans and impoverished children. They said he had no connections to illegal activity.In a statement, the U.S. military said Iraqi and U.S. forces were trying to detain Amiri and shot him only when he pointed an assault rifle at an Iraqi soldier.
The message? The US has tired of Sadr and his death squads, and we have apparently decided not to defer to Maliki on that issue any longer. Maliki no longer enjoys much confidence with the US at any rate, and earlier this month was the potential victim of a government reorganization that got scotched at the last minute by Ali al-Sistani. That failure seems to have convinced American forces to switch to Plan B in order to marginalize Sadr.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Speaking of "Inconvenient"...
Cartoon by Greg Sheffield (click to enlarge)
President Gerald R Ford (1913-2006)
It is sad to wake up this morning and have the first news be that of the death of a good President. The news stories will say it better than I can, but Gerald Ford was the ultimate example of sacrificing political gain in order to do right by the country. After Bill Clinton held on to power for no useful purpose, and spent 8 years working on a legacy verses what was needed for the country, we can all see the difference “in style”. Political expediency is the norm right now. Staying on the best course, despite the news media’s lame and consistent harping, is becoming a rare trait. The news media will never be able to undo the damage did while this man was President. They scoffed at Gerald Ford from the Ivory Towers of unsustainable arrogance at every opportunity. Just as with the passing of President Reagan, the media wiill choke down their dislike and pretend to redeem themselves as they cover the passing of this good man. Or maybe they won’t. One thing about liberals is their innate ability to be tacky at any cost. But as usual, the media is the sideshow. The main event is this man’s life long dedication and sacrifice to all of us. Thank you Mr. President. God speed.
How the AP Manipulates the News towards an Anti-American Agenda
Associated Propaganda Press
Who is the bigger murderer, George W. Bush or Osama bin Laden? For the Associated Press, the scales are tipping in favor of our commander-in-chief.
The world’s most widely syndicated news service made the oblique, unflattering comparison yesterday in a story headlined “U.S. Deaths in Iraq Exceed 9/11 Count.” The AP reported with bated breath:
Trumpeting American deaths at every opportunity – a staple of enemy psychological warfare – is old hat for the leftist-dominated press. There were similar media orgies for the 2,000th casualty, the 1,000th casualty, even the 721st casualty. The media bemoaned a ban on portraying military caskets – which they quickly broke – and have taken to classifying each month as, e.g., “the fourth deadliest month of fighting.” None of these convinced the American people Operation Enduring Freedom was more harmful than 9/11.
The U.S. military death toll in Iraq has reached 2,974, one more than the number of deaths in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, according to an Associated Press count on Tuesday. The U.S. military announced the deaths of two soldiers in a bomb explosion southwest of Baghdad on Monday.
The deaths raised the number of troops killed to 2,974 since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003. The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks claimed 2,973 victims in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.
Enter yesterday’s story.
The AP’s choice of comparisons is vitally misleading. The reporter collated servicemen killed in Iraq to civilians murdered on 9/11 – rather than, say, with the number of homicides in a comparable number of American cities (where there are neither Fedayeen nor organized death squads, except those canonized in leftist victimology as “troubled inner city youths”). By its nature, this comparison beckons the reader to embrace the Left’s conclusions. The implication is clear: Operation Enduring Freedom has been worse for America than the 9/11 hijackings.
There are more sinister deductions implicit in this juxtaposition. To wit, al-Qaeda deliberately targeted civilians. Since – as the media never tire of reminding us – Iraq was a “war of choice,” by extension President Bush is worse than Osama bin Laden.
From this, the Left’s talking points begin to flow. The hijackings were bin Laden’s jihad against America’s “little Eichmanns”; Iraq is President Bush’s war against those dusky-skinned disenfranchised who were poor and illiterate enough to get “stuck in Iraq.” Whether by intent or default, this comparison makes him equally guilty of murder as the world’s foremost terrorist.
It seems almost beside the point to note that the comparison is invalid, like concluding pickles cause cancer. It’s dishonest to compare civilian non-combatants killed at their jobsite with U.S. GIs, however tragically slain, who volunteered to be in harm’s way. A less blatant news shaper might have mentioned the time differential, as well. The data merely state that Islamic terrorists managed to kill nearly 3,000 civilians in one day on American soil and have taken four years to kill as many U.S. soldiers patrolling the streets of Iraq – where the jihadists are aided by remnants of the Ba’athist regime, radical Shi’ites, Iran, and other foreign elements.
The AP’s comparison also ignores the casualties inflicted upon the enemy during that time, up significantly from 19 terrorists on 9/11. It overlooks the fact that 2,974 American deaths occurred during a nearly four-year-long conflict in which our soldiers killed or detained thousands of jihadists, disrupted al-Qaeda’s chain of command, ousted a murderous dictator from power, prevented a scion from assuming his throne, and may have prevented a second 9/11 from ever occurring. (And a third. And a fourth….)
This is not incidental, nor is it “news” – that is, the reporting of facts. This is manipulation of the news’s context in an attempt to shape U.S. policy.
And it wasn’t the only example in newspapers yesterday.
There is much more; read the rest here.
Exposing Iran's Global Terror Network (UPDATED)
And so once again reality sets in when it comes to the impotency of State Department's 'realist diplomacy' in changing the behavior of a rogue state which shows no qualms whatsoever about openly targeting American interests, funding and equipping our enemies and murdering American forces in the field, and bragging about their open disregard of the UN when it comes to their nuclear ambitions. Isn't it about time America showed a little backbone to these thugs?
Opposition group: Iran behind 80 percent of terror attacks in world
Iran opposition group releases detailed brief on Tehran's Qods Force, an 'international Islamic army' exporting attacks worldwide
Iran is behind 80 percent of terror attacks around the world, and uses its elite Qods Force to export and coordinate attacks, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said in a brief released Tuesday.
The NCRI is an umbrella group of Iranian opposition groups in exile, and its stated goal is to overthrow the Iranian government of Ayatollah Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In 2003, the US State Department added the NCRI to its list of banned terrorist organizations, and froze the organization's assets.
In its brief, the NCRI claimed to disclose the locations of central bases within Iran of the Qods Force, such as the "Imam Ali Training base," described as "one of the most important training bases." The location was given as "north of Tehran, in Alborz Kouh Street."
Another alleged location given in the brief is the "Khomeini Training base," said to be "located on Khavaran-Semnan highway, before reaching Pakdasht Township. Col. Rezai is the commander of the base, where a large number of foreign forces from Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine are being currently trained."
'Iran behind 80 percent of world terrorism'
In its statement, the NCRI said that "Tehran has the most extensive terror network in the world. It is responsible for some 80 percent of all major terror attacks - directly or indirectly - in the past two decades. Tehran has by far been the most sophisticated, well-funded state-sponsor of terrorism in the world."
Iran's Qods (Jerusalem) Force was the Islamic Republic's vehicle for exporting attacks around the world, the NCRI added.
"The Qods Force is the most secretive, elite, and skilled unit of the Iranian regime's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Formed in 1990, it is now responsible for all the extraterritorial activities of the Iranian regime, namely all terror attacks abroad," the NCRI said.
According to the brief, Qods Force commander, "Brig. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, directly reports to the regime's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei."
'Iran's embassies are terror coordination centers'
The brief included detailed alleged operational information on how Iranian embassies around the world are being used to coordinate Qods Force activities and terrorist operations.
"Final coordination of the Qods Force's activities around the world and provision of the appropriate diplomatic or other cover for its agents, the use of diplomatic facilities and immunities that facilitate receiving supplies and messages, weapons and military equipment for its terrorist agents fall within the responsibilities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tehran's embassies," the NCRI said.
Formed with the aim of creating "an international Islamic army," the Qods Force "has 12 directorates, as well as "International Affairs Units" in "Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria, Middle East, Russia, Africa, and Europe," the brief added.
It said the force also "trains non-Iranian terrorist forces… from Pakistan, Morocco, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and other Middle East countries. The training is provided to groups of 40 to 50 persons. The Force has dozens of garrisons across Iran in which it trains its non-Iranian operatives."
From the brief
The following are some of the locations of Qods Force bases and information on its garrisons contained in the brief:
"A. Imam Ali Training base. It is one of the most important training bases and is located north of Tehran, in Alborz Kouh Street .
B. Khomeini Training base. It is located on Khavaran-Semnan highway, before reaching Pakdasht Township. Col. Rezai is the commander of the base, where a large number of foreign forces from Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine are being currently trained.
C. Bahonar base. It is located on Chalous highway, near Karaj Dam. This is also among one of the most important training centers.
D. Qods Training Center in Nahavand. It is located 45km from the town of Nahavand, west of Iran . Foreign forces, including those from Lebanon and Afghanistan are trained here.
E. Qom 's Beit ol-Moghadas University in the city of Qom .
F. Training center in Tehran's Farahzad district.
G. Training center on Damavand highway.
H. Hezbollah Base in Varamin, southeast of Tehran.
I. Madani Base in Dezful, (southwest Iran ).
J. Bisotoun Base in Kermanshah, (western Iran).
K. Tangeh Kenesht Base in Kermanshah (western Iran).
L. Ghayour Training Base in Ahwaz (southwest Iran).
The Qods Force has six major garrisons along Iran's borders with other countries. They are tasked with following up terrorist operations in the neighboring countries. They are:
A. Ramadan Garrison (First Corps) in Kermanshah (west). Mission: Iraq.
B. Nabi-Akram Garrison (Second Corps) in Zahedan (southeast). Mission: Pakistan.
C. Hamza Garrison (Third Corps) in Orumieh (northwest). Mission: Turkey.
D. Ansar Garrison (Fourth Corps) in Mashad (northeast). Mission: Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In addition to the six garrisons, the Force has several other corps, including:
A. The Sixth Corps. Mission: Persian Gulf states.
B. The Seventh Corps. Mission: Lebanon and Syria.
C. The Eighth Corps. Mission: African States.
D. The Ninth Corps. Mission: Europe and the United States."
UPDATE: Although the watered-down sanctions may have little short term impact on Iran's nuclear ambitions and terror sponsorship, there is a glimmer of hope that some of the financial sanctions just might have a positive long-term impact (that is, if the Russians and Chinese do not allow the Iranians to circumvent them). As Captain Ed reports:
Iran has acknowledged that its oil industry has fallen on hard times, and guess who they blame for their troubles? The Great Satan, this time, might not mind:
Thanks for confirming the receipt of our messsage, Vaziri! Their own government has made it clear that they see us as an enemy at conferences where attendees were asked by their president to imagine a world without America and Israel. I guess imagining that would also imagine a world without the spare parts they need to fix their production issues at their oilfields.
Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh has lamented that the development of Iran's oil industry was suffering from US pressure. "Iran has been under different sanctions for years and many companies have not been able to cooperate with our country for fear of US pressures," Vaziri Hamaneh said, according to the semi-official news agency Fars on Tuesday.
"They even do not easily deliver some dual-purpose equipment that we had previously bought. They cause trouble for us under different pretexts," he said.
The fact that they even offer this as an excuse demonstrates the tough economic position in which the existing sanctions from the US has placed Iran. Even with the weak-kneed sanctions offered by the UN this week, those woes will only increase. As the economic noose tightens, the Iranians -- who by and large oppose Ahmadinejad's excessive provocations -- will start preparing political nooses, or perhaps even real nooses, if their disaffection grows large enough.
An internal removal of the mullahcracy and the establishment of a real democracy offers the safest and most effective path to prevent nuclear proliferation. The US and the West should insist on strict enforcement of the economic sanctions to expedite this development and to thoroughly discredit the theocracy that placed Iran in this poor position. At this rate, it looks like Iran will be unable to export oil by 2015, but their final economic collapse will happen long before that. If we can remain firm, we could avoid a lot of the bloodshed that would accompany our other options to stop Iran's nukes. (via It Shines For All).
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Israeli Defense Experts (and Michael Ledeen): Military Strike "Only way to Stop Iran" from Nukes (UPDATED)
Nothing short of a military strike will stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, an Israeli newspaper quoted a respected Israeli think tank as concluding today.
"There is no longer a possibility for effective sanctions to stop Iran," retired Brigadier-General Zvi Shtauber, of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, told The Jerusalem Post."
Our conclusion is that without military action you won't be able to stop Iran," Shtauber said. ...
Meanwhile, Michael Ledeen--from his brand new Weblog!--argues that the Americans have little choice but to participate fully in comprehensive strikes against Iran; if not lead the effort ourselves (boldface is Ledeen's):
Who, Us? Fight this War Seriously?
We have arrested some Iranians in Iraq, including “senior military officials.” The New York Times, which has often reported on Iran’s involvement in the terror war against us and the Iraqi people, broke the story last night, and obtained some alarmingly candid responses from the usual unnamed American “administration officials” and “senior administration officials.” If you want to understand the failure of the Bush Administration to understand the real war, a couple of quotations tell you everything you need to know.The United States is now holding, apparently for the first time, Iranians who it suspects of planning attacks. One senior administration official said, “This is going to be a tense but clarifying moment.”
The heart jumps for a moment, wondering if, at long last, this “clarifying moment” will catalyze some sort of American effort to directly challenge the clerical fascist regime in Tehran. But then the heart sinks, as the senior official explains: it’s not about us at all. It’s all about the Iraqis. I’ve put in the boldface for the visually challenged:“It’s our position that the Iraqis have to seize this opportunity to sort out with the Iranians just what kind of behavior they are going to tolerate,” the official said…“They are going to have to confront the evidence that the Iranians are deeply involved in some of the acts of violence.”
How bad is that? I conjure up an image of Rice or Hadley on the phone to Maliki and Talabani, telling the Iraqis that we’ve captured senior Iranian military officials (one will get you five we’re talking here about officers from the Revolutionary Guards Corps), and it’s just made the New York Times, and so Maliki and Talabani had better figure out what to do.
And then I imagine a parent of an American soldier in Iraq shrieking at Rice and Hadley “what do you mean, they? The Iranians are killing our kids, how dare you run away from this?”
Those killer quotes from the Times show once again the failure of strategic vision that has plagued us from the beginning of the war. We can only win the war—the real war, the regional-or-maybe-even-global war—if we stop playing defense in Iraq and go after regime change in Damascus and Tehran. Everyone in the region, above all, the Iraqis, knows this. And everyone in the region is looking for evidence that we might be able to muster the will to win this thing.
But dumping responsibility for dealing with Iran in the quivering laps of the Iraqi leaders is precisely the wrong thing to do. We have to lead this war, we have to go after the Iranians. Otherwise, surge or no surge, fifty or a hundred thousand troops more or less, we’re gonna lose. Because the peoples of the Mideast, who have seen many armies come and go over the centuries, are going to throw in with the likely winners. And we can’t win if we refuse to engage the main enemy, which is the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iranian "Advisors" Detained with Iraqi Insurgents
WASHINGTON, Dec 25 (Reuters) - The Bush administration said on Monday the arrest in Iraq of alleged Iranian provocateurs, including two diplomats, underscored U.S. concerns about "meddling" amid rising U.S.-Iranian strains.
U.S.-led forces detained the Iranians during operations "against those planning and plotting attacks against multinational forces, Iraqi forces and Iraqi citizens," the State Department said. "In the course of those operations, multinational forces recently picked up groups of individuals involved in these kinds of activities, including Iranians operating inside Iraq," it said.
U.S. military and civilian officials in Baghdad and Washington did not respond to questions about any evidence the arrested Iranians were plotting attacks. "We suspect this event validates our claim about Iranian meddling," said Alex Conant, a White House spokesman, "but we want to finish our investigation of the detained Iranians before characterizing their activities."
"We will be better able to explain what this means about the larger picture after we finish our investigation," he added in an e-mailed reply to questions from Reuters. Two of the Iranians arrested had diplomatic credentials, Conant said. He said they were handed to the Iraqi government which released them to the Iranian government. Details of the arrests were sketchy.
The New York Times, which first reported the arrests on Sunday, said the Iranians were picked up in a pair of raids in central Baghdad late last week. At least four Iranians were still being held by the U.S. military, including some described as senior military officials, the paper said.
The arrests were highly sensitive for the three governments involved as tensions have risen over Iran's nuclear program and its support for hard-line, anti-U.S. forces in the Middle East. On Saturday, U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns called for an end to "business as usual" with Iran to bolster U.N. Security Council sanctions adopted earlier in the day aimed at rolling back Iran's nuclear program. Iran, along with Syria, has been undermining "the government of Iraq's political process by providing both active and passive support to anti-government and anti-Coalition forces," the U.S. Defense Department said in its latest quarterly report to Congress, released last Monday.
"Eliminating the smuggling of materiel and foreign fighters into Iraq is a critical task and a formidable challenge," the Pentagon said.
Isn't it time the American began taking agressive and proactive action to stop Iran's continuous interference in our critical and dangerous mission to stabilize Iraq? And can the US really afford to continue to sit on the sidelines uttering empty threats while Iran continues to kill our troops, destabilize Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza, and other vital strategic areas while their crash program to develop nuclear weapons is allowed to continue unchecked?
UPDATE: Meanwhile the Iranian government news agency reported that the Iranian Foreign Minister cried "Wolf" (for about the 15,oooth time)--in this case regarding the "outrageous" arrest of these Military advisors who were busy planning how to kill Americans: "The attempt is totally illegal and in contrast with international regulations. It is not reasonable and therefore holds disappointing consequences."
Sunday, December 24, 2006
"Last Christmas" in Iraq?
(Have a Merry Christmas everyone. Thanks for making the Discerning Texan a part of your 2006.)
Some key excerpts of the whole from NR:
On December 21, Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) presided over the final hearing of the 109th session of Congress; fittingly for the season, it focused on the status of religious freedom around the world. The U.S. State Department testified about its recently released short list of the most “egregious” violators of religious freedom, those it officially designates as “Countries of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
This year, Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan were named by State as the world’s worst persecutors. Listening to the testimony of the witnesses — who included a Chinese Catholic, an Eritrean Christian, and a Vietnamese Buddhist monk recently released from prison — was to be reminded of the crucial importance of Mr. Jefferson’s “first freedom.” But some of the bloodiest religious persecution anywhere is directed against Christians and other non-Muslim groups in a country not on the State Department’s CPC list.
That country is Iraq.
The sectarian violence between the Sunni and Shiite Muslim groups is massive and appalling, and has rightly attracted the attention of Washington policymakers. But the plight of Iraqi’s one million Christians and non-Muslim minorities is not on anyone’s radar screen. The Iraq Study Group Report, for example, ignored them completely. The situation of the non-Muslim minorities — largely Christians (Chaldean Catholics, Assyrians, Syriac Orthodox, Armenians, Protestants, and Evangelicals), but also including Yizidis (adherents of an ancient angel religion), Mandeans (followers of John the Baptist), Baha’is, Kaka’i (followers of a syncretistic religion in the Kirkuk area), and Jews — is uniquely dire. Half of them are estimated to have been driven from their homes in the past three years, either to other parts of the country or abroad. The very existence of these non-Muslims within Iraq may soon be extinguished under pervasive persecution that the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees says is targeted against them due to religion.
[....] In 2004, a dozen churches were attacked in coordinated bombings, and since then other churches have been destroyed. Over the past six months, seven clergymen have been kidnapped and two of them, a Presbyterian Evangelical and a Syriac Orthodox, both from Mosul, murdered. As the State Department notes, these religious groups can no longer gather in safety and many have stopped holding worship services altogether. My friend, the Chaldean Archbishop of Basra — who says his prayers in the language of Jesus, Aramaic, as is the Chaldean tradition — will not be celebrating Christmas Mass with his diocese this year; the Church has transferred him to Australia, and a mere few hundred Chaldean Catholics remain in Basra. These churches are not just lying low: They are being eradicated.
Women are being increasingly pressured to conform to supposed Islamic conduct and dress, while men who operate liquor stores and cinemas have also been murdered for their “unIslamic” businesses. Flyers were posted at Mosul University this month declaring that “in cases where non-Muslims do not conform to wearing the Hijab (woman’s head cover) and are not conservative with their attire in accordance with the Islamic way, the violators will have the Sharia and the Islamic law applied to them.” It was in Mosul that some female students were murdered for wearing Western clothes and mingling with men at a picnic last year, and where Fr. Paulis Iskander was beheaded and dismembered on October 11. The university flyer is being taken seriously. Most of the death threats against non-Muslim minorities are personally addressed. The Chaldean Federation of America www.chaldeanfederation.org has numerous examples, such as the following:
To the traitor, apostate Amir XX, after we warned you more than once to quit working with the American occupiers, but you did not learn from what happened to others, and you continued, you and your infidel wife Rina XX by opening a women hair cutting place and this is among the forbidden things for us, and therefore we are telling you and your wife to quit these deeds and to pay the amount of (20,000) thousand dollars in protective tax for your violation and within only one week or we will kill you and your family, member by member, and those who have warned are excused.Al-Mujahideen Battalions.
There are many other such examples — and many cases of targeted killings backing them up. Grisly reports of kidnapped Christian children being crucified and mutilated after ransoms were not paid have been reported by NRO, Fr. Keith Roderick, and the Assyrian International News Agency (on its website, www.aina.org ).
This week, I received a letter from the Sabean Mandean Association in Australia that detailed the cases of Mandeans kidnapped and assassinated for their religion. Some of the kidnap-for-ransom victims were reportedly circumcised before being released, a detail that indicates religion played a role in the crime. Listed among the cases was the murder on December 2 of the Rev. Taleb Salman Araby, the deacon who assisted His Holiness Ganzevra Sattar Jabbar Hilo al-Zahrony, the worldwide head of the Mandean Community. He was easily recognizable because he wore the white rasta robes of the Mandean clergy. His family was prevented from holding a funeral service for him by extremists who threatened to blow up their house; the bereaved family was forced to bury him without any religious ceremony.
This violence against Christians and members of the smallest minorities is conducted with impunity. In northern Iraq and in the Nineveh Plains region where up to a third of the non-Muslims live, there have been no local police forces established (in contrast to other areas in Iraq), and the few forces provided from elsewhere have been known to harass and prey on these small minorities.
The Washington-based Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project reports that courts in the Kurdish area routinely discriminate against Assyrians who contest land and property confiscated by Kurdish militants. The Project also reports that, in the Kurdish areas, Christian and other minority towns have been excluded by provincial-level officials from benefiting from U.S reconstruction projects for water and electrical systems and denied their fair share of other utilities and services, such as schools and medical facilities.
Apparently the U.S. has no safeguards or checks in place to prevent this. The Assyrian mayor of one of these towns, Telhaif, told me in November that such discrimination makes Christian towns and neighborhoods uninhabitable and forces their residents to leave.
Once abandoned, Christian, Yizidi, and Mandean properties have been seized by Kurdish authorities. Such treatment has given rise to charges that Kurdish authorities are carrying out ethnic cleansing against Christians and other minorities, including such ethnic groups as the Shabaks and Turkomen. Iraq’s government has not been notably effective in protecting anyone, and its stance toward the Christians and other small minorities has been abysmal.
The Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, was quoted earlier this year urging kidnappers to target Christian women instead of Muslims. After addressing the tragic abduction of his own sister, Thayseer, the Speaker was reported saying: “Why kidnap this Muslim woman; instead of Thayseer, why not kidnap Margaret or Jean?” The latter are Christian names — implying that it would have been better for a Christian woman to have been kidnapped, raped, and killed. [....]
There is more of this disturbing story here. Today, of all days, it is time to reach down deeply and have faith--but it is also time for us to do all we can to defend Western Civilization from those who would crush it under the opressive weight of sharia hegemony.