politics, history and the war on terror
Sunday, May 09, 2004
WMD - Past and Present 

The question of the existence Iraq's WMD is perhaps the single most controversial issue related to the Iraq war. The failure to find large stockpiles has led to claims that the Bush administration distorted and fabricated the intelligence used to build the case for war. The facts do not support those conclusions, however, as significant finds support the U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies' claims Iraq continued to pursue the development of WMD. A brief overview of WMD case was stated here at the fourth rail in 'The Case for the Iraq War' over a month ago, but in light of recent evidence this topic is worthy of its own discussion.

In the lead up to the Iraq war, Secretary of State Colin Powell presented to the United Nations Saddam’s attempts to obtain, produce and store WMD. After the defeat of Saddam, the weapons stockpiles that were thought to exist did not materialize, and the media and critics of the war declared the WMD case, which they perceived to be the casus belli for the invasion, to be false. However, on further investigation, intelligence about Iraq's desire to possess WMD was correct, but not in the way it was thought. Rolf Ekeus (chairman of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq from 1991 to 1997) first alluded to Saddam's plan to obtain the capability to produce WMD:

Thus the Iraqi policy after the Gulf War was to halt all production of warfare agents and to focus on design and engineering, with the purpose of activating production and shipping of warfare agents and munitions directly to the battlefield in the event of war. Many hundreds of chemical engineers and production and process engineers worked to develop nerve agents, especially VX, with the primary task being to stabilize the warfare agents in order to optimize a lasting lethal property. Such work could be blended into ordinary civilian production facilities and activities, e.g., for agricultural purposes, where batches of nerve agents could be produced during short interruptions of the production of ordinary chemicals.

Mr. Ekeus' conclusions were later validated by David Kay, former inspector of the Iraq Survey Group, in his testimony to Congress. Mr. Kay's findings on Iraq's programs were overshadowed after he stated "we were almost all wrong" when referring to the intelligence on Iraq (the statement was shortened by CNN and others by removing the "almost" to conveniently say "we were all wrong"). Iraqi scientists supported this when they reported Saddam worked to establish dual use capabilities to produce WMD.

Recently, Kenneth Timmerman reported the status of the WMD investigation and demonstrated Iraqi WMD programs and precursors have been found, which proves Iraq violated 17 U.N. resolutions concerning WMD. Like Mr. Ekeus & Mr. Kay, he stated the majority of U.S. claims made were accurate and the available evidence was and still is misunderstood by media due to the lack of understanding on WMD should 'look' like,

But what are "stockpiles" of CW agents supposed to look like? Was anyone seriously expecting Saddam to have left behind freshly painted warehouses packed with chemical munitions, all neatly laid out in serried rows, with labels written in English? Or did they think that a captured Saddam would guide U.S. troops to smoking vats full of nerve gas in an abandoned factory? In fact, as recent evidence made public by a former operations officer for the Coalition Provisional Authority's (CPA's) intelligence unit in Iraq shows, some of those stockpiles have been found - not all at once, and not all in nice working order - but found all the same.

The materials that constitute Saddam's chemical-weapons "stockpiles" look an awful lot like pesticides, which they indeed resemble. "Pesticides are the key elements in the chemical-agent arena," Hanson says. "In fact, the general pesticide chemical formula (organophosphate) is the 'grandfather' of modern-day nerve agents."


Anomolous WMD reports, suspected factories and pesticides hidden in military bunkers decribed by Mr. Timmerman are documented by the media here, here, here, and here, as well as a find of plutonium.

The latest news concerning WMD and Iraq is similar to the news of the past year. Further evidence accumulates, much to the media's consternation. A chemical agent was found in an Iraqi artillery shell in Baghdad, inspectors find WMD plans and the chemical agents used in the planned attack in Jordan is suspected to originate in Iraq

Important national security issues such as Iraq's WMD potential and links to terrorism requires serious investigation and reasonable debate, and should not subject to partisan politics. Unfortunately a large amount of the Democratic leadership, a good portion of the media and a segment of the American public have decided the case of WMD in Iraq is closed. No amount of evidence will convince those who oppose the war that Saddam both possessed and schemed to develop WMD in violation of its obligations to the U.N. They will discount or explain away new evidence, ignore it or claim the CIA manufactured the evidence. The evidence to support the claim Iraq possessed and pursued WMD capability exists, despite the claims of the contrary.


Update - May 12, 2004:

Brian Scott of RadioBS forwarded the news of Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's views on WMD and Iraq:

"The fact is that there is now, we know well, a proliferation of nuclear weapons, and that many weapons that Saddam Hussein had, we don't know where they are," Martin stated. "That means terrorists have access to all of that."

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:05 AM

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Friday, May 07, 2004
Being President Means Always Having to Say You're Sorry 

During a press conference with Jordan's King Abdullah II, President Bush has finally given the media exactly what it was looking for, an apology:

"I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families. I assured him that Americans like me didn't appreciate what we saw, that it made us sick to our stomachs."

Now can the media shut up about this? The media's willingness to play useful idiot for our enemy by providing easy propaganda by demanding apologies from President Bush is sickening. Meanwhile, members of Congress, including Senator Kerry, are calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, despite the fact that the Pentagon initiated the investigation immediately after discovering problems in the Iraqi prison.

"I think he should have [retired] long ago. I think he should have and obviously I think he should now," Kerry told reporters during a campaign stop in California.

He also touted his leadership in the Navy during Vietnam to demonstrate his qualifications to command the military.

"When I was in the Navy, the captain of the boat was in charge, and the captain always took responsibility. I have a message for the men and women of our armed forces, as commander-in-chief, I'll honor your commitment and I'll take responsibility for the bad as well as the good. As president, I'll not be the last to know what is going on in my command."

Senator Kerry's demand for Secretary Rumsfeld's resignation based on the Abu Ghraib crimes is curious in light of his military history and past statements, including his testimony to the Congress (the Winter Soldier Investigation) and on NBC's "Meet the Press" in 1971:

I committed the same kind of atrocities as thousands of other soldiers have committed in that I took part in shootings in free-fire zones. I conducted harassment and interdiction fire. … I took part in search-and-destroy missions, in the burning of villages. All of this is contrary to the laws of warfare.”

Secretary Rumsfeld's Department of Defense recognizes a problem and works to bring justice to the guilty, and he should resign? Senator Kerry is a war criminal by his own admission, an officer schooled in the Geneva Conventions, and he did nothing to stop the 'atrocities' of his own men, contrary to his responsibilities as a commander. Not a single member of the Democratic leadership is calling for his resignation. Why is the media not screaming for an apology from Senator Kerry? How is an admitted war criminal and officer that shirked his duty qualified to be Commander in Chief?

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:02 AM

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Thursday, May 06, 2004
The Lost Art of the Apology 

Chris Strohm of The New Republic rates the apologies for Abu Ghraib by military and civilian leadership. But before he judges the worthiness of the apologies, he states President Bush just can't bring himself to say I'm sorry like the good old presidents of yesteryear:

"President Bush and members of his administration have apparently decided to stop apologizing for anything at all."

Can someone explain the media's requirement of constant apologies from the President of the United States? Should he apologize for 9/11, lost jobs, the Northeast Blackout of 2003, Abu Ghraib, and my leaky faucet? When did the job of President transform into Apologist in Chief? The media's obsession with apologies from the Bush administration has reached a fevered state. What exactly is wrong with the statement President Bush made in response to questions about the abuse from Al Arabiya?

QUESTION: Mr. President, thank you for giving us this chance here in Al Arabiya. Regarding the alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners, six U.S. soldiers are being reprimanded. Do you think that's enough?

BUSH: First, I want to tell the people of the Middle East that the practices that took place in that prison are abhorrent and they don't represent America. They represent the actions of a few people. Secondly, it's important for people to understand that in a democracy that there will be a full investigation. In other words, we want to know the truth.

In our country, when there's an allegation of abuse — more than an allegation in this case, actual abuse, we saw the pictures — there will be a full investigation and justice will be delivered. We have a presumption of innocent until you're guilty in our system, but the system will be transparent, it will be open and people will see the results. This is a serious matter. It's a matter that reflects badly on my country. Our citizens in America are appalled by what they saw, just like people in the Middle East are appalled. We share the same deep concerns. And we will find the truth, we will fully investigate. The world will see the investigation and justice will be served.


Not only does President Bush accept responsibility for the abuse and torture of the Iraqi prisoners, but he vows justice for those mistreated and assurances problems like this will be prevented in the future. Americans, Middle Easterners, Iraqis and the victims of Abu Ghraib do not need an apology from the President. We need justice.

Posted by bill roggio @ 1:12 PM

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Wednesday, May 05, 2004
The Phantom Shiite Rebellion 

John Burns of the New York Times reports on the ongoing problems with the criminal Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr. While the picture painted by the general media is one of an open Shiite rebellion, al-Sadr has effectively been isolated by the Shiite leadership, which recently met to discuss the issue of Sadr.

Representatives of Iraq's most influential Shiite leaders met here on Tuesday and demanded that Moktada al-Sadr, a rebel Shiite cleric, withdraw militia units from the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, stop turning the mosques there into weapons arsenals and return power to Iraqi police and civil defense units that operate under American control.

It appears the Shiite leaders have been hedging their bets, which is understandable after living thirty years under the boot of Saddam. The mention of the Thulfiqar Army is particularly interesting. Wretchard of Belmont Club reported this on Sunday, and it appears a genuine resistance to the Mahdi Army has been established.

Several Shiite leaders acknowledged that they had delayed issuing their statement until there were clear signs that public opinion among Shiites had moved strongly against Mr. Sadr. Reports in the past two weeks have spoken of a shadowy death squad calling itself the Thulfiqar Army shooting dead at least seven of Mr. Sadr's militiamen in Najaf, and several thousand people attended an anti-Sadr protest meeting outside the Imam Ali shrine in the city on Friday, according to several of the meeting's participants.

Even in Najaf, Sadr is unpopular.

Mr. Mahdi, from the Sciri group, which is close to Ayatollah Sistani, was blunt about Mr. Sadr's decline in popularity. "He's 100 percent isolated across most of the southern provinces; he's even isolated in Najaf," he said. "The people there regard him as having taken them hostage." He said Mr. Sadr had also been criticized by his most powerful religious backer, Grand Ayatollah Kazem Hossein Haeri, based in the Iranian city of Qum, who had urged Mr. Sadr to pull his militiamen out of Najaf and Karbala and to stop storing weapons in mosques.

And not all Shiites oppose American military force to remove Sadr from Najaf. This counters the meme that America assistance is unwelcome by all Shiites in the holy city.

[T]he strongest murmurings of the meeting came when Taqlif al-Faroun, a tribal leader from Najaf, said Shiites should give the American forces a green light to go after Mr. Sadr in the holy cities. "Najaf is not Mecca," he said. "The Americans don't want to go into the shrines. They want to get rid of criminals and thieves. So what if they enter the city?" Across the roof, dozens of men responded approvingly. "Yes, yes!", they said.

The fact that Iraqis are meeting to discuss important problems, work through their own solutions, and even take action on their own (via the Thulfiqar Army) is encouraging. Iraq is a nation used to betrayal and oppression. It will take time for Iraqis to build the trust with both America and among their own differing political and ethnic groups. Until the Iraqis find their voice, take ownership of their own problems and learn how to govern themselves, there will be problems along the road to democracy. The meeting of Shiite leadership to find a solution to a local problem, as well as attempts to integrate Iraqi forces in Fallujah, are steps in the right direction. While the solutions may not be perfect, they demonstrate a willingness of the Iraqis to help themselves.

Posted by bill roggio @ 1:21 PM

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Tuesday, May 04, 2004
No Excuses. None. 

The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh details the ongoing investigation of the allegations of abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers while at the Abu Ghraib prison. The soldiers involved, in their infinite wisdom, actually had the nerve to photograph some of these disgusting events. These unconscionable acts of humiliation have not only harmed the individuals who were cruelly treated, but gave our enemy an enormous propaganda victory both at home an abroad. Among the American public, incidents such as this cause distrust of the military, play into the worst stereotypes of our soldiers and invoke images of My Lai, which in turn can weaken support for the war. In the Muslim world, the pictures of Americans abusing the Iraqis reinforces the notion that Iraq is part of the American Crusade against Islam, and the humiliation of all Muslims in this manner is the ultimate goal. Muslims on the fence may be steered to radical Islam based on the photographs alone, and at the very least these photographs provide excellent recruiting material for the jihadis. In Iraq, the trust of the Iraq people will fall and relations between the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraq Governing Council will be strained, and American troops may be at further risk, as it is possible victim's family members may target them in revenge.

While many bemoan the excessive attention paid to the actions of American soldiers while the crimes of Arab dictators, such as Saddam, were barely worth a mention, there is no excuse for the soldiers' failure to respect the rights of these Iraqis. As Americans, we will always be held to a higher standard, and we must live up to them, as unfair as this may seem. We should never lower our standards to those of Saddam or any other oppressive dictatorship in the region. Torture and the denial of human decency have no place in American democracy, and we will never be successful in our mission to promote democrat reform if we fail to live up to our principles.

President Bush, as well as members of the military leadership, condemned the illegal actions of these rouge soldiers, and demanded an immediate investigation:

"Their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people. That's not the way we do things in America. I didn't like it one bit...............I share a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated."

The actions of these soldiers are in no way indicative of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. If found guilty of these crimes, the U.S. Army must punish all of those responsible to the maximum extent of the law. The trials must demonstrate both to soldiers and Muslims that these acts will not be tolerated. Reforms in the Iraqi jails maintained by Americans should be implemented immediately. The damage may already have been done, but we must do our best to ensure no further abuses will occur. It is not too late to regain the trust of the Iraqi people if we demonstrate that, unlike Saddam, we will punish those who commit crimes against the Iraqi people.

Update:

See Phil Carter's post on Abu Ghraib at Intel Dump for analysis from the perspective of a former Army MP officer and current law student.

Ilya Shapiro asks why human rights groups such Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the United Nations Human Rights Commission, are so quick to judge the actions of the United States?


Posted by bill roggio @ 12:05 AM

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Monday, May 03, 2004
Afghanistan Update 

The May 10th edition of U.S. News and World Report contains three excellent articles which provides insight on the hunt for al Qaeda, the methods of traditional and Special Operations forces, and the challenges American soldiers face in fighting the insurgency in Afghanistan.

The “Hunt for bin Laden” describes the challenges in tribal regions due to tribal customs and laws, problems with Pakistani military and political cooperation, the motivation of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, and the disposition of American intelligence and military operations. Tracking bin laden has been complicated as it appears he has changed his method of movement, making him hard to find:

Osama bin Laden, senior military and intelligence officials say, has forsaken his Arab bodyguards and, when the need arises, travels with a small number of Pashtun tribesmen in Pakistan's untamed borderlands.

While cooperation by the Pakistani military is not ideal, President Musharraf is committed to dealing with al Qaeda after failed attempts at assassination:

Some ascribe Musharraf's determination to the two assassination attempts by al Qaeda that he survived within the past year. "For us, al Qaeda trying to kill him is a good deal,"said a senior commander who has met several times with Musharraf. ". . . He finally said, 'That ain't going to happen; I'm coming after you.' And then he [got] the support of the military to do that."

Also noted is the U.S.’s increased presence in Afghanistan, which should put to bed any myths American commitment to find bin Laden and secure Afghanistan is lacking, or that America has forgotten Afghanistan:

With the recent arrival of 2,000 marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan is now at a temporary high of 20,000, more than at any time since the post-9/11 invasion. An additional 2,000 troops from friendly countries and the increasing deployments of Afghan National Army and special forces units brings the number higher still, meaning not just more boots on the ground but more schmoozing with locals and, the expectation is, more actionable intelligence

Both the “War in the Shadows” and “Speak softly, carry a big gun” highlight the challenges faced by American forces in Afghanistan attempting to establish intelligence sources and cooperation from the local population. “War in the Shadows” discusses the patrol of a conventional Army Parachute Infantry Regiment, while “Speak softly, carry a big gun” documents how a Special Forces team lives among the local population. A common thread is the reluctance of the Afghanis to assist American in fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda:

The Americans' search is complicated by the studied evasiveness of many Afghans. Capt. Brent Morrow understands why. Twenty-five years of war have bred a survival mentality and a culture of switching sides. "They fear retribution," he says, "from the Taliban and al Qaeda."

The hardships the Afghani people have endured, from the Soviet invasion in 1979 through the civil wars and the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, cannot be underestimated when discussing problem in Afghanistan. It's infrastructure, institutions and system of law were destroyed during this period, and it will take a high level of commitment and many years, perhaps decades, to establish Afghanistan as a respectable nation. The remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda must be rooted out and destroyed before this is possible. It is vital to both Afghanistan's security and America's national security interests: Afghanistan must not become a base of operations for terrorists again. America has made the commitment to Afghanistan but we cannot expect instant success. Time, money, power and patience are all required to see Afghanistan through this difficult time.

Posted by bill roggio @ 3:08 PM

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Sunday, May 02, 2004
Problems and Apologies 

Paul Rieckhoff, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Lieutenant in the US Army, gave today's Weekly Democratic Radio Address. The theme of this radio address was to point out that President Bush has failed to plan for Iraq, provide the necessary supplies for American soldiers and will not live up to his mistakes. Excerpted are portions of the address.

Lt. Rieckhoff states the U.S. Army is poorly supplied, and repeats now debunked rumors about bottled water and flack vests:

But when we got to Baghdad, we soon found out that the people who planned this war were not ready for us. There were not enough vehicles, not enough ammunition, not enough medical supplies, not enough water. Many days, we patrolled the streets of Baghdad in 120 degree heat with only one bottle of water per soldier. There was not enough body armor, leaving my men to dodge bullets with Vietnam-era flak vests. We had to write home and ask for batteries to be included in our care packages. Our soldiers deserved better.

If there is one thing you can depend on about soldiers, it is they will never have enough supplies, and they will gripe about it. Good soldiers make due with what they have, and do not complain about this outside ot the ranks. Excellent soldiers are very creative. Soldiers have received care packages from home to make up for the shortfall in supplies since soldiering became a profession. The myth about the water shortage has been disproved many times over, such as here in the First Armored Division's newpaper:

As for Brown's assertion that drinking water is in short supply in Iraq, the Defense Department has repeatedly asserted that while bottled water, which is expensive to transport, may be rationed in Iraq, there has never been a shortage of potable, purified water for troops.

Lt. Rieckhoff is crying over Evian when potable water is available. No soldier died from lack of water in Iraq. The lack of body armor for soldiers is serious, but is due to a lack of supply, not a lack money (also from the First Armored Division's paper):

DOD officials have said that the manufacturer of the new vests is producing the armor as rapidly as possible, and that the new vests are priority shipped to the Middle East.

Supply lags are nothing new to the military as well. He describes his mission Iraq as a waiting game:

When Baghdad fell, we soon found out that the people who planned this war were not ready for that day either. Adamiyah, the area in Baghdad we had been assigned to, was certainly not stable. The Iraqi people continued to suffer. And we dealt with shootings, killings, kidnappings, and robberies for most of the spring. We waited for troops to fill the city and military police to line the streets. We waited for foreign aid to start streaming in by the truckload. We waited for interpreters to show up and supply lines to get fixed. We waited for more water. We waited and we waited and the attacks on my men continued…and increased. With too little support and too little planning, Iraq had become our problem.

What exactly did he expect after the defeat of Saddam's regime? Insta-peace? Iraq was a nation under a ruthless leader for over thirty years, its problems are systemic and will take years to fix. Who exactly did he expect to fix the problems: The French, Russian and Germans? American waged war on Iraq, and if he did not realize that we are ultimately responsible for the situation in Iraq, he was not thinking very clearly. He appears to have wanted everyone else but his unit to address the problems he witnessed.

One year ago today, our President had declared that major combat operations in Iraq were over. We heard of a "Mission Accomplished" banner, and we heard him say that "Americans, following a battle, want nothing more than to return home."

The mission President Bush referred to was the overthrow of Saddam's regime, not the end of the struggle in Iraq. In that same speech, President Bush recognized early on the challenges America faced in restoring order and rebuilding Iraq:

We have difficult work to do in Iraq……. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done and then we will leave and we will leave behind a free Iraq.

But those statements by the President not would fit into the narrative that the Bush administration was unprepared for the problems in Iraq. Continuing with Lt. Rieckhoff's radio address:

But three days before we were supposed to leave, we were told that our stay in Iraq would be extended, indefinitely

He should have prepared his troops for this possibility, especially if the situation on the ground was as bad as he stated. Doesn't that fact that his unit was ordered to stay long discount the theories that the Bush administration did not recognize problems and showed a willingness to adapt?

Our platoon had been away from their families for seven months. Two babies had been born. Three wives had filed for divorce and a fiancée sent a ring back to a kid in Baghdad. 39 men missed their homes. And they wouldn't see their homes for another eight months.

This is the hardship every soldier faces. No other profession that asks more in terms of family sacrifice than the military. Ours is a volunteer service, and soldiers understand the risk and sacrifice they may face during times of war. During World War II, many soldiers did not return home to see their families for four years.

I don't expect an easy solution to the situation in Iraq, I do expect an admission that there are serious problems that need serious solutions. I don't expect our leaders to be free of mistakes, I expect our leaders to own up to them.

What do Lt. Rieckhoff, the media and the Democratic leadership expect an apology will accomplish, other than provide ammunition for the Kerry campaign during a hotly contested political season? During his last press conference, President Bush was barraged by numerous questions about his mistakes and failures, but he refused to take the bait. Lt. Rieckhoff's knowledge of history is sorely lacking. Did President Lincoln apologize for Bull Run, Antitem or Gettysburg? Did President Roosevelt apologize for Pearl Harbor, the opening failures of the African campaign or the initial setbacks in the Battle of the Bulge? Did President Truman apologize for American troops almost being driven out of Korea after failing to predict the involvement of the Chinese? Did President Kennedy apologize for the Bay of Pigs? These presidents had wars to fight, and apologies would not have impact the outcome of a war; they would only provide the enemy with propaganda to show their efforts are succeeding.

The radio address is the standard fare of the Democratic party: claim President Bush was shortsighted in planning the Iraq war, unable to involve international partners, and incapable of adapting to unforeseen problems. War is chaotic and risky by nature; your enemy rarely fights the way you expect him to fight. Given the progress in Iraq one year later and the incredibly low casualties by historic standards for an operation so large, it is difficult to argue the Bush administration has not performed well. Not perfect, as mistakes have and will be made, but as well as can be expected. The American public does not expect perfection from its leaders, but it does expect clarity and resolve. The constant carping by Senator Kerry without offering alternative solutions, other than involving an unwilling United Nations, is neither clear nor resolute.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:10 AM

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Friday, April 30, 2004
UNSCAM – Oil for What? 

The United Nation’s Oil for Food program was designed to provide humanitarian assistance for the Iraqi people using the monitored sale of Iraqi oil. Over the past few months, a mountain of evidence has surfaced concerning the corruption of this program, now dubbed UNSCAM in the blogsphere (in fact, and entire blog called Friends of Saddam is devoted to this subject).

The Wall Street Journal provides the most comprehensive picture of this ongoing scandal, from the disclosure of the list of ‘the Friends of Saddam’ ,the United Nations’ complicity, including that of Benon Sevan, director of the U.N.'s Oil-for-Food Program, the internal investigation by the UN and stonewalling from Kofi Annan & Mr. Sevan, the beginning of the investigation by the United States, the attempt to block the probe by Russia, up to the latest installment: the possible links between the Oil for Food program & al Qaeda. In Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, Claudia Rosett, states unaccounted moneys may have fueled all sorts of illegal activities in the international arena:

In tallying various leaked lists, disturbing leads and appalling exposés to date, what becomes ever more clear is that Oil-for-Food quickly became a global maze of middlemen, shell companies, fronts and shadowy connections, all blessed by the U.N. From this labyrinth, via kickbacks on underpriced oil and overpriced goods, Saddam extracted, by conservative estimates of the General Accounting Office, at least $4.4 billion in graft, plus an additional $5.7 billion on oil smuggled out of Iraq. Meanwhile, Mr. Annan's Secretariat shrugged and rang up its $1.4 billion in Iraqi oil commissions for supervising the program. Worse, the GAO notes that anywhere from $10 billion to as much as $40 billion may have been socked away in secret by Saddam's regime. The assumption so far has been that most of the illicit money flowed back to Saddam in the form of fancy goods and illicit arms.

But no one really knows right now just how much of those billions went where--or what portion of that kickback cash Saddam might have forwarded to whatever he deemed a worthy cause. A look at one of the secret U.N. lists of clients authorized by the U.N. to buy from Saddam is not reassuring. It includes more than 1,000 companies, scattered from Liberia to South Africa to oil-rich Russia. And though the U.N. was supposed to ensure that oil was sold to end-users at market price--thus minimizing the graft potential for Saddam and maximizing the funds for relief--there is an extraordinary confetti of clients in locations known less for their oil consumption than for their shell companies and financial secrecy.


Some of these moneys may have wound up in the pockets of al Qaeda:

In Oil-for-Food, "Every contract tells a story," says John Fawcett, a financial investigator with the New York law firm of Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, which has sued the financial sponsors of Sept. 11 on behalf of the victims and their families. In an interview, Mr. Fawcett and his colleague, Christine Negroni, run down the lists of Oil-for-Food authorized oil buyers and relief suppliers, pointing out likely terrorist connections. One authorized oil buyer, they note, was a remnant of the defunct global criminal bank, BCCI. Another was close to the Taliban while Osama bin Laden was on the rise in Afghanistan; a third was linked to a bank in the Bahamas involved in al Qaeda's financial network; a fourth had a close connection to one of Saddam's would-be nuclear-bomb makers.

Whether you love, hate or are indifferent to the United Nations, it is important the truth be told. If the United Nations cannot provide simple humanitarian assistance without lining its pockets, supporting murderous dictators and possibly financing our mortal enemies, what gives it the legitimacy to determine the future of Iraq or any other nation?

Additional information:

Spoons, of The Spoons Experience blog, provides a humorous chart of who benefits and who suffers from the Martha Stewart, Enron and UNSCAM scandals.

Posted by bill roggio @ 1:13 PM

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Thursday, April 29, 2004
The Two Americas. Which Is Yours? 

Blogger Blackfive (The Paratrooper of Love) posts a poignant letter from a Marine Lt. Colonel who was tasked to escort the remains of a fallen Marine, Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, to his home. The letter describes numerous acts of kindness, generosity, community and fellowship the escort encountered while returning home with the remains of this hero. They are too numerous to mention here, and the letter should be read by all who truly wish to understand the depth of feelings our nation has for its fallen heroes.

Meanwhile, Michael Moore, darling of the left and supporter of Senator Kerry’s presidential bid, writes about another America, the America he sees as lying, thieving, corrupt and evil:

Those are not “contractors” in Iraq. They are not there to fix a roof or to pour concrete in a driveway. They are MERCENARIES and SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE. They are there for the money, and the money is very good if you live long enough to spend it.

Halliburton is not a "company" doing business in Iraq. It is a WAR PROFITEER, bilking millions from the pockets of average Americans. In past wars they would have been arrested -- or worse.

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win. Get it, Mr. Bush? You closed down a friggin' weekly newspaper, you great giver of freedom and democracy! Then all hell broke loose. The paper only had 10,000 readers! Why are you smirking?


And later in his hateful post:

[T]he majority of Americans supported this war once it began and, sadly, that majority must now sacrifice their children until enough blood has been let that maybe -- just maybe -- God and the Iraqi people will forgive us in the end.

He describes Iraqi terrorist as “freedom fighters” and “minutemen”, and Americans as “mercenaries” and “soldiers of fortune”. He advocates the killing of Americans to punish us for our sins, so we can be forgiven. His hatred for this country is there for all to see, a country that afforded him the opportunity to become a millionaire by distorting history and spouting hate. Americans, both soldiers and civilians, sacrifice their lives for the freedom of the Iraqi people and a chance for a better world, and Mr. Moore only sees an evil capitalist American plot to rule the world, a nation worthy of scorn and punishment

Which America do you live in? Is it Lance Corporal Chance Phelps' America, or Michael Moore’s America?

Disclaimer: The this post was inspired from InstaPundit’s quick reference to the letter on Blackfive site and a mention of Michael Moore.


Posted by bill roggio @ 10:04 AM

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Specter Defeats Toomey 

Senator Arlen Specter has defeated conservative challenger Rep. Patrick Toomey in Pennsylvania's Republican primary, by a narrow margin of victory. Conservatives will view this as a defeat for their movement, as Senator Specter frequently sides with Democrats in the Senate, and is in line to chair the Senate Judicial Committee, the body that decides if presidential judicial appointments will be considered for a vote.

Lost in the conservative's disappoint over Mr. Toomey's defeat is the price Senator Specter had to pay in order to receive support from the Republican party. While it is customary for incumbents to receive the support of their party in a primary election, the support Senator Specter received from Republicans was extraordinary, considering how far he strayed from party votes in the past (the Clinton impeachment, tax cuts, and the Bork confirmation, among many). As anyone who lives in the Philadelphia area can attest, Senator Specter bombarded the airwaves with commercials, including endorsements from President Bush and Pennsylvania's conservative junior Senator Rick Santorum.

This is politics to the core: pragmatic, scheming, and calculating. The GOP and President Bush can expect vigorous support from Senator Specter during November's election. Pennsylvania is a battleground state in the presidential election, and as Senator Specter appeals to moderate and liberal Republicans and Democrats, the GOP is hoping to pick up a segment of this vote. There was also concern that Mr. Toomey would not fair well in the general election versus Democrat challenger Rep. Joe Hoeffel, so the party backed Mr. Specter in order to retain the Republican Senate seat. President Bush should expect some measure of support from him in the Senate Judicial Committee. And finally, the Republican Party gets to demonstrate that its tent is large enough to accommodate a member with liberal views.

Update:

Timothy Carney of The National Review is livid about Republican Party backing of Senator Spector.
Posted by bill roggio @ 7:26 AM

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Eyes Wide Shut 

While the major media outlets attempt to ignore the attempted suicide-chemical attack on the U.S. Embassy and Jordanian intelligence services, the perpetrators confess on television:

[Jordanian] State television aired a videotape of four men admitting they were part of an Al Qaeda plot to attack the U.S. Embassy and other targets in Jordan using a combination of conventional and chemical weapons. A commentator on the tape aired Monday said the suspects had prepared enough explosives to kill 80,000 people.

One of the alleged conspirators, Azmi Al-Jayousi, said that he was acting on the orders of Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian wanted by the United States for allegedly organizing terrorists to fight U.S. troops in Iraq on behalf of Al Qaeda.

By now, the media should drop the ‘alleged connections’ disclaimer when discussing Zarqawi and al Qaeda. Even the ‘militants’ confirm this:

Al-Jayousi, identified as the head of a Jordanian terror cell, said he first met al-Zarqawi in Afghanistan, where al-Jayousi said he studied explosives, "before Afghanistan fell."

As Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban prior to Operation Enduring Freedom, it is highly unlikely he was a guest without the knowledge of al Qaeda. And it is extremely unlikely he was a guest of the Northern Alliance, a group fiercely opposed to al Qaeda involvement in Afghani affairs.

Jordanian officials have said the plotters entered the country from neighboring Syria in at least three vehicles filled with explosives, detonators and raw material to be used in bomb-making. Syria has denied the claims. In the videotape, however, the militants said they acquired the vehicles in Jordan.

Syria denies involvement, as it would make it complicit in the organized terror attack on its neighbor, Jordan. It is unlikely an attack such as this can be planned and executed without the knowledge and assistance of an organized police state such as Syria. The ‘militants’ state they acquired the cars in Jordan, but this does not mean the cars did not cross the Syrian border laden with the munitions.

In a related story, Sudan has ordered Syria to remove stockpiled WMD from its country:

Arab diplomatic and Sudanese government sources said the regime of Sudanese President Omar Bashir has ordered that Syria remove its Scud C and Scud D medium-range ballistic missiles as well as components for chemical weapons stored in warehouses in Khartoum. The sources said the Sudanese demand was issued after the Defense Ministry and Interior Ministry confirmed a report published earlier this month that Syria has been secretly flying Scud-class missiles and WMD components to Khartoum.

The established media has drawn the conclusions that WMD do not exist in Iraq, Syria, Iran or elsewhere and al-Zarqawi is not affiliated with al Qaeda. News that contradicts these conclusions is buried to support their worldview. It seems that no amount of evidence, short of the use of WMD, will convince the media to ask deeper questions about this attempted chemical attack, as well as Syria and al Qaeda's involvement.

Update: April 29th, 2004

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page agrees.

Posted by bill roggio @ 1:30 PM

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Monday, April 26, 2004
Defining al Qaeda 

Jason Burke of Foreign Policy magazine provides an excellent overview of al Qaeda, its setup, goals and ideology. This is highly recommended reading for a concise look at our enemy. Mr. Burke’s description of Al Qaeda's organization is particularly interesting as it helps define the threat which we face:

Although bin Laden and his partners were able to create a structure in Afghanistan that attracted new recruits and forged links among preexisting Islamic militant groups, they never created a coherent terrorist network in the way commonly conceived. Instead, al Qaeda functioned like a venture capital firm—providing funding, contacts, and expert advice to many different militant groups and individuals from all over the Islamic world.

Today, the structure that was built in Afghanistan has been destroyed, and bin Laden and his associates have scattered or been arrested or killed. There is no longer a central hub for Islamic militancy. But the al Qaeda worldview, or “al Qaedaism,” is growing stronger every day. This radical internationalist ideology—sustained by anti-Western, anti-Zionist, and anti-Semitic rhetoric—has adherents among many individuals and groups, few of whom are currently linked in any substantial way to bin Laden or those around him. They merely follow his precepts, models, and methods. They act in the style of al Qaeda, but they are only part of al Qaeda in the very loosest sense.


Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis has been making a very similar argument about al Qaeda for some time, however he states that bin Laden is instrumental in the setup, financing, training and support of these local jihadi organizations.

The points which I disagree with Mr. Burke are the downplaying of the WMD threat and the claim Zarqawi is not affiliated with al Qaeda. Just recently two WMD plots were exposed: an attempted chemical attack in Jordan on the U.S. embassy and Jordanian intelligence services in Jordan, and a planned attack in England, which was in its infancy. Over one year ago, a planned ricin attack was discovered in England. While these attempts may be crude by the author's standard, they show a willingness to use WMD. Concerning Zarqawi and his ties to al Qaeda, the evidence points to his involvement with al Qaeda, as his famous memo to bin Laden documents.

The War on Terror is not just against al Qaeda in its strictest sense (bin Laden and his immediate associates), but against all jihadis who adhere to the ideology of radical Islam. The fight must be taken to every group willing to use terrorism to achieve the goals of radical Islam.


Posted by bill roggio @ 12:36 PM

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Sunday, April 25, 2004
Another Pledge Worth Breaking 

Several readers ask why the Bush administration opposes the removal of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. At first glance the statement of disapproval can be viewed as an obstacle against Israeli action, but a deeper look at the statements do not support this conclusion:

"The president reiterated his opposition to such an action," a third U.S. official told CNN. That official, who is involved in national security matters, said Sharon's new comments were brought to the attention of the White House, and, "we have made it entirely clear to the Israeli government that we would oppose any such action and we have done so again in the wake of these remarks. We consider a pledge a pledge."

President Bush did not explicitly voice the opposition, as he did for the support of Israel's plan to withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank. The statement was made by one of the numerous "unnamed administration officials." There was no threat of reprisals if Arafat is removed, such as halting military and economic aid to Israel. All the administration said was it opposed Arafat's removal, just as it was opposed to the removal of former Hamas leaders Rantisi and Yassin. Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon points out the difficult political situation concerning the removal of Chairman Arafat, as other nations have invested plenty of political capital in him:

”I released myself from the commitment in regard to Arafat," he said. "I was very clear. I was committed then, and it was a different situation. When I started, Arafat was marching on red carpets laid for him by different governments in the past. Then, I accepted the commitment." Now, Sharon said, the "commitment does not stand anymore."

Israel is proceeding according to plan. It may not intend to kill Arafat, but statements such as Sharon's only further isolate Arafat and perhaps force him to act in a way that will make it politically acceptable to remove him from power. Or create the conditions for the Palestinians themselves to remove him. Statements from Palestinian leaders further confirms how the removal of Arafat will impact the political situation:

Reacting to Sharon's television interview, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat accused the Israeli government of trying to destroy the peace process and the Palestinian Authority, and to kill Arafat. "This will only create more chaos anarchy and bloodshed," he said. "It was the strongest signal yet that Israel could target Arafat."

The Palestinian Authority is not interested in peace, as the sponsorship of the Intifada and terror organizations demonstrates. During the1990's, Europe and America (under the Clinton Administration) negotiated with Arafat, the known terrorist leader of the PLO, and established the Palestinian Authority. After a decade of failure, many nations still live under the illusion that a negotiated peace can be reached with Arafat's Palestinian Authority. While the Bush administration no longer believes this is possible, it must deal with allies that do, such as Britain. The statement of disapproval from the Bush administration is most likely political cover for these allies as well as an attempt to appear even handed in the conflict.

Posted by bill roggio @ 7:54 AM

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Friday, April 23, 2004
Withdrawal Syndrome, American Style 

Ralph Nader, independent candidate for President of the United States, supports a complete withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. While making the case for the reasons the US should withdraw from Iraq, Mr. Nader makes the following statement:

Announcing a definite withdrawal and ending the U.S. corporate takeover of the Iraqi economy and oil will separate mainstream Iraqis from the insurgents and give the vast majority of people there a stake in replacing the occupation with independence.

He truly believes the invasion of Iraq was purely a corporate takeover of Iraq. And a small but vocal minority of Americans believes this as well.

His three point plan to withdraw from Iraq is as follows:

1) Develop an appropriate peacekeeping force under United Nations auspices from neutral nations with such experience and from Islamic countries.

The U.N. myth lives on. It has no interest in restoring Iraq as a democratic nation, nor is it willing to make the commitment to do the dirty work. The U.N. propped up Saddam Hussein for 12 years, and is complicit in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the looting of the Oil for Food program. Advocating Islamic nations to act as peacekeepers is the death of Iraqi freedom. These Islamic countries are threatened by a democratic nation on their borders, as democracy exposes their corrupt regimes for what they are.

2) Free and fair elections should be held as soon as possible under international supervision so democratic self-rule can be put in place in Iraq and allow Iraq to provide for its own security.

How this will be accomplished by the withdrawal of American troops is not explained, as elections are not possible under the current atmosphere of violence. The phantom U.N. peacekeepers are known to cut and run at the first sign of danger, and cannot be relied upon to provide the necessary security for an election.

3) The U.S. and others should provide interim humanitarian aid to Iraq. Economic sanctions and war have caused tremendous damage to the people, their children and the Iraqi infrastructure.

Note to Mr. Nader: the U.S. and coalition are currently providing humanitarian aid to Iraq. The interesting thing about this quote is his implication that America is responsible for the current state of Iraq, as he directly references economic sanctions. The fact is Saddam Hussein is responsible for the current state of affairs in Iraq, not America.

Mr. Nader’s willingness to fault America for the problems facing Iraq, and all of the ills of the world, is startling. He has become the de facto antiwar candidate for president, and will siphon votes from Senator Kerry, as Senator Kerry’s position on Iraq pleases neither antiwar Americans nor those who see Iraq as crucial in the War on Terror. It is sad that a noticeable percentage of Americans are willing to believe the very worst of this country and its motivations. Mr. Nader is their standard bearer.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:12 PM

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Thursday, April 22, 2004
Under Pressure 

Yassar Arafat is feeling the pressure of the Israeli offensive directed at the terror leadership:

Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat early Thursday expelled 21 Fatah Tanzim fugitives from his Mukata headquarters in Ramallah, fearing that the IDF was about to raid the compound and arrest the wanted men. The fugitives, all members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, have been hiding in the compound these past three months. Israel has repeatedly demanded they be kicked out.

The rifts between the Palestinian Authority and leadership of the numerous Palestinian terror groups are beginning to show.

Among those expelled was Ali Barghouti, nephew of imprisoned West Bank Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who expressed outrage at Arafat's decision. "Arafat has deserted the Fatah activists," he said, adding that the expulsion was a crime, because the men "needed protection."

Chairman Arafat risks making some very dangerous enemies playing his double game of legitimate leader of the Palestinian people and supporter of terror. He cannot do this indefinitely. It is unlikely Chairman Arafat renounces terror after all of these years, nor is it likely he openly sides with Hamas and company. This leads to half measures that satisfies neither the Israelis or the terrorists, and likely enrages both. If the Israelis do not finish him off, the task is left to one of the monsters he has nurtured for all of these years.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:48 PM

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Palestinian Statehood? 

Do the Palestinians deserve a state in Gaza and the West Bank?

The Israeli – Palestinian conflict and the question of Palestinian statehood are perhaps the most controversial issues when discussing the problems of the Middle East. Most of the problems concerning the question of Palestinian statehood arise from the distortion of the facts in relation to the establishment of Israel, the acquisition of Gaza and the West Bank during the Six Days War, how the territories have been administered since 1967 and the status of the negotiations between the Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Jewish Virtual Library provides an excellent Myths and Facts section which addresses the issues of this conflict, and the Boundaries segment explains the issues stated above. The relevant U.N. resolutions, peace treaties and histories are all documented. It is highly recommended reading for those interested in the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

By their nature, democracies do not function well when administering external territories for extended periods of time. For Israel to remain a successful democracy it must decide how to address the status of Gaza and the West Bank, as the uncertain status of the Palestinians cannot exist indefinitely. Israel has two options concerning the outcome of the status of Gaza and the West Bank:

-Annex the Gaza and the West Bank and give those living there full citizenship.
-Allow the Palestinians to create the state of Palestine from Gaza and the West Bank.

Annexing the Gaza and the West Bank is not an option. This would cause multiple problems for Israel, as it would destroy the uniqueness of the Jewish state and lead to civil war as a large segment of the population of Palestinians would outright reject living under Israeli rule. Therefore, the only realistic option is to allow for the creation of the state of Palestine. The establishment of a viable Palestinian state is not possible at this time as Palestinian Authority has been unwilling to act in good faith on its agreements to reign in terrorists (the Oslo Peace Process & the Road Map) or walked away from the negotiating table (Camp David, 2000). As the PA has demonstrated it is uninterested in finding a peaceful solution with Israel (unwilling to compromise on the right of return and borders of a new Palestinian State, sponsoring the Intifada & supporting terror organizations), Israel has embarked on a project to unilaterally create its own conditions for peace. Israel has decided to build a security fence (wall) between Israel and the Palestinian territories, with the lines drawn of their own choosing, started to withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank (while leaving several settlements in the West Bank) and targeted Hamas leadership in the Palestinian territories. These are measures which President Bush has recently decided to support, a radical change in U.S. policy. The effects of this strategy are as follows:

-Removes PA from bargaining process
-Creates chaos in terror organizations by removing leadership
-Shows Palestinians they will get less than they want without negotiating

The best result of this strategy would be to promote moderate Palestinian leadership to step forward and negotiate the final settlement. The obstacles to peace (the PA, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terror groups) must be removed before a moderate Palestinian voice can step forward. The Palestinians should be given their own state, but not until they renounce terror as a tool of negotiation, arrest and prosecute Palestinian terrorists, and demonstrate a commitment to live peacefully side by side with their Israeli neighbor.

Additional Links:

Daniel Pipes, the director of the Middle East Forum, believes the Palestinians are becoming disillusioned with the Intifada.

Tony Blankley of the Washington Times further documents how the Palestinians are losing by refusing to negotiate a settlement.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:17 PM

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Proper Criticism 

While the antiwar left and the isolationist right scream of lies, conspiracies, wars for empire and wars for oil, it appears the neoconservatives are one of the only groups in America which is capable of voicing coherent criticism of President Bush's implementation of the Iraq war and its reconstruction. Robert Kagan and William Kristol of The Weekly Standard (the premier voice of neoconservatives) argue troop deployments in Iraq are insufficient to meet the goals for securing Iraq and establishing democracy, and this is the result of poor planning by the Pentagon:

The shortage of troops in Iraq is the product of a string of bad calculations and a hefty dose of wishful thinking. Above all, it is the product of Rumsfeld's fixation on high-tech military "transformation," his hostility to manpower-intensive nation-building in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and his refusal to increase the overall size of the military in the first place. The results are plain to see: We are trying to carry out Bush's post-9/11 foreign policy with Clinton's pre-9/11 military. It is a wonderful military, but it is too small for our responsibilities in the post-9/11 world. As a result, it will not be easy to find the additional brigades to send to Iraq. Troubling reductions in our deployments elsewhere will be required, and an already stressed military will be asked to do more still. Unfortunately, there is no choice.

The criticism of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is harsh yet respectful:

The question is whether Rumsfeld and his generals have learned from past mistakes. Or rather, perhaps, the question is whether George W. Bush has learned from Rumsfeld's past mistakes. After all, at the end of the day, it is up to the president to ensure that the success he demands in Iraq will in fact be accomplished. If his current secretary of defense cannot make the adjustments that are necessary, the president should find one who will.

Robert Kagan and William Kristol argue that troop deployments in Iraq should be increased by about 30,000 to provide for proper security and reconstruction. In light of recent evens in Iraq, they may be right. This is the type of constructive criticism that helps improve the war effort and does not further the goals of our enemy.

Posted by bill roggio @ 1:00 PM

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Monday, April 19, 2004
Withdrawal Syndrome: The International Community, Take Two (More) 

Honduras & the Dominican Republic also want to leave Iraq:

Honduran sources told CNN that the Central American nation also intends to pull its contingent, which serves with the Spaniards, out of Iraq early. The Dominican Republic said earlier this month that its contingent would not be replaced when it rotates out. Neither nation gave a timetable for the actions

Of course, this brings nothing but smiles to the face of al-Sadr:

The news pleased Muqtada al-Sadr, the influential Shiite cleric who is hiding in the holy city of Najaf, where the Spanish troops are deployed. "We have noticed that the coalition has pulled back," al-Sadr spokesman Sheikh Qais al-Khazaali said Monday. "Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered the Mehdi Army to stop all attacks on the Spanish troops after they decided to pull out of Iraq."

Congratulations, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Spain, you have just given the enemies of civilization another victory. You have also provided further proof that nations can be picked off from the coalition by using selective violence. We can expect even more violence directed against coalition members in further efforts to fracture the coalition. Oh, and Honduras, thanks for repaying the United States’ sacrifice to halt the spread of communism which threatened to overtake your nation last century.

Senator Kerry believes the internationals would cooperate if only they did not have to deal with the arrogant Bush Administration. The nations that are leaving have committed to rebuilding Iraq but have now backed out as they do not have the fortitude to do the serious work of restoring peace.

It is said the Bush Administration's plan to establish democracy in Iraq is idealistic, that the peoples of the Middle East are incapable of living under a democratic form of government. Why has Senator Kerry's plan to involve the international community in Iraq not come under more scrutiny by the American media? What makes him believe he can get uncooperative nations on board in Iraq? Isn’t blind faith in the United Nations and other international organizations, which have failed so many times in the past, a form of idealism?

Posted by bill roggio @ 1:31 PM

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Sunday, April 18, 2004
The Ever Reliable International Community 

In the spirit of internationalism, Spain is withdrawing its troops prior to the June 30th date of the Iraqi transfer of power.

In an announcement from the Moncloa Palace, [Spanish Prime Minister] Zapatero said he had ordered the defense minister to "do what is necessary for the Spanish troops stationed in Iraq return home in the shortest time possible." Zapatero spoke just hours after the new Socialist government was sworn in.

After an unprecedented amount of time spent deliberating over the implications of sticking a knife in the back of its former American ally and the Iraqi people, Prime Minister Zapatero decided there is no time like the present to act .

"With the information we have, and which we have gathered over the past few weeks, it is not foreseeable that the United Nations will adopt a resolution" that satisfies Spain's terms, Zapatero said.

This disgusting act of cowardice and lack of commitment should be remembered when Spain suffers further terrorist attacks on its soil. How this immediate withdraw will promote stability in Iraq is still not clear. The current government of Spain is unhappy that the United Nations is not in command of the peacekeeping and transition efforts in Iraq. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice correctly sums up the impact of the U.N. controlling operations in Iraq:

"The idea that somehow if there were a U.N. flag instead of a coalition flag, that these thugs would not be attacking, is, frankly, I think, just a little bit naive."

Former Spanish Prime Minister Aznar neatly describes the consequences of the immediate retreat:

"That will not be good for Spain, not a good day for the coalition, and a very good day for those who don't want stability and democracy in Iraq."

The good news is this is a victory for the international community.

Updates:

Portugal may withdraw its 128 peacekeeping police officers from Iraq if the violence increases. The Philippines considered withdrawing its peacekeeping troops from Iraq, but changed its mind:

About 50 troops in central Iraq were operating in a safe area, but as a precaution, they were being restricted to their camps.

Isn't the purpose of peacekeeping to keep the peace? How can this be done when the soldiers cannot even leave their base camps, or when nations can break their commitments so casually? This is how the international community operates in dangerous conflicts; Rwanda is the perfect example of how the peace is kept by the U.N.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:44 PM

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Saturday, April 17, 2004
Rantisi's Demise 

"By God, we will not leave one Jew in Palestine. We will fight them with all the strength we have. This is our land, not the Jews." - Abdel Aziz Rantisi, Former Leader of Hamas

Associate Press has reported that that Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the new leader of Hamas, has been targeted by the Israeli military. Fox News Channel has reported that Rantisi is dead (The BBC has just confirmed this). Rantisi meets the same fate as former Hamas leader Sheik Yassin, who was assassinated by the IDF last month in a missile strike. We can only hope future leaders of Hamas follow in their footsteps. Few tears should be shed for this monster, a 'man' that authorized and encouraged children to detonate themselves amongst civilians.

Israel is serious about eliminating the leadership of Hamas; this killing leaves no doubt about their intentions. The forth rail predicted last month that these actions will place pressure on the Palestinian Authority to negotiate with Israel or perish. The attacks on Palestinian leadership coupled with Israel's unilateral plan to withdraw from Gaza and the West Bank on its own terms, including leaving five settlements, and the construction of the security fence, certainly has be to causing panic in the Palestinian Authority.

Posted by bill roggio @ 2:18 PM

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Iranian Involvement 

The establishment of democracy in Iraq threatens the viability of the dictatorships, kingdoms and theocracies in the Middle East. Iran in particular has a vested interest in preventing a democratic Iraq. Iran is a nation that has endured 25 years of a corrupt and oppressive government after the establishment of the Islamic Republic. There is widespread dislike of the Islamic government and a popular and active reform movement that advocates democracy. Because of these circumstances, a successful democratic state on its border is a direct threat to Iran's theocratic rulers. Michael Ledeen states that Iran has a large role in advocating, supporting and financing violence against the coalition by both Sadr's Mahdi Army and Ba'athists:

The Italians knew that these actions were not just part of an Iraqi civil war, nor a response to recent actions taken by the Coalition Provisional Authority against the forces of Sadr. According to Italian intelligence, the actions were used as a pretext by local leaders of the factions tied to an Iran-based ayatollah, Kazem al-Haeri, who was "guided in his political and strategic choices by ultraconservative Iranian ayatollahs in order to unleash a long planned general revolt." The strategic goal of this revolt, says Sismi, was "the establishment of an Islamic government of Khomeinist inspiration." The Italian intelligence agency noted that "the presence of Iranian agents of influence and military instructors has been reported for some time." Our own government will not say as much publicly, but Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. John Abizaid, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, have recently spoken of "unhelpful actions" by Iran (and Syria).

Mr. Ledeen advocates regime change in Iran, however he does not wish to accomplish this with military force, but by supporting Iranian inside and outside the country who oppose the Iranian governemnt:

We have an excellent opportunity to achieve this objective, without the direct use of military power against Iran. There is a critical mass of pro-democracy citizens there, who would like nothing more than to rid themselves of their oppressors. They need help, but they neither need nor desire to be liberated by force of arms.

[T]hey want to hear our leaders state clearly and repeatedly--as Ronald Reagan did with the "Evil Empire"--that regime change in Iran is the goal of American policy.

[W]e can reach the Iranian people by providing support to the several Farsi-language radio and TV stations in this country, all currently scrambling for funds to broadcast a couple of hours a day. We can encourage private foundations and individuals to support the Iranian democracy movement. The current leadership of the AFL-CIO has regrettably abandoned that organization's traditional role of supporting free trade unions inside tyrannical countries, but there are some individual unions that could do it.


A similar strategy was employed during the Cold War, and led to the successful liberation of Eastern Europe. As the Iranians are already opposing us in Iraq, it is worth the effort to work for non-military regime change in Iran as Mr. Ledeen advocates. Iran's unique nature as a manufacturer of WMD, state sponsor of Hezbollah and terror sanctuary designates it as a problem that must be dealt with.


Posted by bill roggio @ 12:57 AM

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Friday, April 16, 2004
Peace Offerings 

Osama bin Laden's latest audio tape (can't he afford a video camera?) offers peace and goodwill to any nation that wishes to lay down their arms and subjugate itself to radical Islam. Al Qaeda's psychological operations are in full force in this latest attempt to fracture America and Israel from the rest of the Western nations.

"[I]n order to thwart opportunities for the merchants of war, and in response to the positive developments that were expressed in recent events and in the public opinion polls, which determined that most European peoples want peace, I urge ... the establishment of a permanent commission to nurture awareness among Europeans regarding the justness of our causes, particularly the cause of Palestine, and that use be made of the vast media resources to this end."

Positive developments? You mean the murder of 191 innocents in Madrid? Osama follows the polls now? What's next, focus group? Town hall meetings? He has said the magic word to the Europeans: establishment of a permanent commission. How beautiful the siren call of permanent commissions must sound. Concerning the justness of the cause of Palestine, Europe and Osama are in total agreement, so why even bother mentioning it?

"I hereby offer them a peace treaty, the essence of which is our commitment to halt actions against any country that commits itself to refraining from attacking Muslims or intervening in their affairs, including the American conspiracy against the larger Islamic world."

If I were a European head of state, I would want the details on the "intervening in their [Muslim's] affairs" part of the agreement. I suspect there is plenty of room for interpretation: trade, Muslims in country, television and radio programming, music, freedom of religion…

"This peace treaty can be renewed at the end of the term of a government and the rise of another, with the agreement of both sides."

Spain's timing is impeccable. Didn't Osama just cause a change of government over there?

"The peace treaty will be in force upon the exit of the last soldier of any given [European] country from our land."

Does that include al-Andulus? Will Spain have to withdraw its soldiers from its own territory? Better read the fine print.

"The door of peace will remain open for three months from the broadcast of this statement. Whoever rejects the peace and wants war should know that we are the men [of war], and whoever wants a peace treaty and signs it, we hereby allow this peace treaty with him."

If there are no European takers after three months, they are automatically at war with al Qaeda? Osama really should leave some wiggle room for surrender, he would not want to take away certain European nations' foreign policy ace in the hole.

"Stop shedding our blood in order to protect your own blood."

Translation: Just let us kill you; it's easier for both of us this way.

"The solution to this easy-difficult equation is in your own hands. You should know that the longer you delay, the worse the situation will become, and when that happens, do not blame us, blame yourselves..."

Always blaming the victim.

"As for those who lie to people and say that we hate freedom and kill for the sake of killing - reality proves that we are the speakers of truth and they lie, because the killing of the Russians took place only after their invasion of Afghanistan and Chechnya; the killing of the Europeans took place only after the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan; the killing of the Americans in the Battle of New York took place only after their support for the Jews in Palestine and their invasion of the Arabian Peninsula; their killing in Somalia happened only after Operation Restore Hope. We restored [i.e. repelled] them without hope, by the grace of Allah."

Any rational person can see that slamming aircraft into buildings, asking children to detonate themselves among civilians and using women and children as human shields for the sake of jihad is a perfectly reasonable response to political grievances. How can you argue with this logic?

In Europe's defense, the reaction to Osama's offer of peace was overwhelmingly negative. Europe should be commended for not falling for such a craven attempt to divide America from its allies. Perhaps this will wake up the nations which are unwilling to recognize they are targets of Islamic terror, whether they participate in the war or not. This is highly unlikely, as the 3/11 attacks in Madrid have demonstrated, be we can always hope.

Spain, on the other hand, appears to be leaving its options open:

Spain's incoming foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, told his nation's parliament that "we don't have to listen to or answer" the tape.

Spain executes the classic ostrich maneuver, otherwise known as the three monkeys gambit. Perhaps they should look North and ask Belgium and Holland how well that worked for them at the opening of WWII.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:37 AM

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Thursday, April 15, 2004
Speaking Like the Enemy 

Can you tell which statements a leader of a terrorist group made and which statements a United States Senator made? The answers are given below.

1. “You are being enslaved by those who have the most money, the most influential ones, and those who have the strongest news media, particularly the Jews, who are dragging you behind them under the trick of democracy in order to support the Israelis and their schemes and hostility to our religion and at the expense of our blood and land, as well as at the expense of your blood and economy.”

2. "There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that [the war] was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud."

3. “I tell Bush that appealing for help from the world around you and begging for mercenary soldiers from everywhere, even from the small countries, has shattered your pride, insulted your prestige, and exposed your powerlessness after you used to defend the world in its entirety.”

4. "My belief is this money is being shuffled all around to these political leaders in all parts of the world, bribing them to send in troops”.

5. “They did not care about you, went behind your backs, invaded Iraq once again, and lied to you and the whole world.”

6. “This gang is a huge evil on all humanity, its blood, money, environment, and morality. They came to deal strong and consecutive blows to honesty that is the basis of morality, each from the position he holds, until they professionally rendered it dead before the world.”

7. "This is the pattern and the record of the Bush administration [on] Iraq, jobs, Medicare, schools, issue after issue -- mislead, deceive, make up the needed facts, smear the character of any critics…..Again and again, we see this cynical, despicable strategy playing out."

8. "[President Bush] has broken the basic bond of trust with the American people. He's the problem, not the solution. Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam, and this country needs a new president."

9. "This war makes millions of dollars for big corporations, either weapons manufacturers or those working in the reconstruction [of Iraq], such as Halliburton and its sister companies..."

Answers 1, 3, 5, 6 & 9 - Osama bin Laden, Leader of al Qaeda
Answers 2, 4, 7 & 8- Senator Edward Kennedy, Massachusetts

When American politicians criticize the motivations of the Bush Administration, they should be careful in how they voice their opposition. One major tactic of terror organizations is manipulation of the media to spread its message and sow confusion and dissent within their enemy’s ranks. It is clear al Qaeda has been monitoring the public statements by American opponents of the war, and using this to create a divide among the American public. Some of the statements between Osama bin Laden and Senator Kennedy are indistinguishable, and some of the statements by Senator Kennedy were made after bin Laden's speech (7 & 8). Constructive dissent does not include rhetoric that supports the goals of the enemy, including discrediting American policy and leadership within the world community. Senator Kennedy's rhetoric can impact America's ability to successfully prosecute the war by weakening American resolve to fight. As a senior U.S. Senator and leader of the Democrat party, he should take care when making such inflammatory accusations so as not to sound so much like our enemy.

Read Osama's Speech and Senator Kennedy’s Statements.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:22 AM

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Wednesday, April 14, 2004
The Press Conference 

President Bush's press conference was long overdue. His defense of the War on Terror and Iraq's place in this war was simple and forthright; there was very little nuance. He was clear on the purpose and motivations for fighting the war in Iraq, described the challenges and sacrifices being made, explained why we must succeed and the implications of failure. The need for democratic reform in the Middle East was also clearly articulated, as was Iraq's role as the first free nation in the region. President Bush understands that the oppressive governments of the Middle East provide a fertile breading ground for terrorist organizations and also pose a threat by proliferating WMD.

The portion of the speech which proved interesting was the veiled threats leveled at Hezbollah, Iran and Syria's terror organization of choice. When President Bush discussed the overall war on terror, Hezbollah was referenced several times

In the south of Iraq, coalition forces face riots and attacks that are being incited by a radical cleric named al-Sadr. He has assembled some of his supporters into an illegal militia and publicly supported the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

We've seen the same ideology of murder in the killing of 241 Marines in Beirut, the first attack on the World Trade Center, in the destruction of two embassies in Africa, in the attack on the USS Cole, and in the merciless horror inflicted upon thousands of innocent men and women and children on September the 11th, 2001. None of these acts is the work of a religion. All are the work of a fanatical political ideology. The servants of this ideology seek tyranny in the Middle East and beyond. They seek to oppress and persecute women. They seek the death of Jews and Christians and every Muslim who desires peace over theocratic terror. They seek to intimidate America into panic and retreat, and to set free nations against each other. And they seek weapons of mass destruction, to blackmail and murder on a massive scale.


The fanatical political ideology President Bush refers is practiced by al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and many other Islamic terror organizations. President Bush understands this war is bigger than just al Qaeda and realizes that Hezbollah, among others, must be dealt with in the future. The War on Terror cannot and will not be won without addressing these terror organizations and their state sponsors; this is a point that is consistently lost on the domestic and foreign opposition of the war.

Note: for comprehensive coverage of the president's press conference, please visit InstaPundit.

Posted by bill roggio @ 12:12 AM

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Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Internationalize This! 

Senator Kerry, in today's Washington Post, outlines his plan to deal with the reconstruction and transformation of Iraq to a liberal democracy. First and foremost, he states that the mission in Iraq must be completed.

The extremists attacking our forces [in Iraq] should know they will not succeed in dividing America, or in sapping American resolve, or in forcing the premature withdrawal of U.S. troops. Our country is committed to help the Iraqis build a stable, peaceful and pluralistic society. No matter who is elected president in November, we will persevere in that mission.

It is reassuring that Mr. Kerry will continue the current policy of creating a democracy in Iraq, as a failure to do this would be an enormous victory for the Islamic extremists and dictatortships throughout the world. Perhaps Mr. Kerry should speak to the senior senator from Massachusetts, Senator Kennedy, about his attempts to discredit the war effort. Statements such as Senator Kennedy's are instrumental in dividing American opinion & sapping the resolve to fight.

Mr. Kerry's solution to Iraq, which should come as no surprise, is to internationalize the efforts to restore Iraq. He believes that ceding authority to the United Nations and NATO will increase the amount of troops available for peacekeeping and provide legitimacy to this endeavor.

We should urge NATO to create a new out-of-area operation for Iraq under the lead of a U.S. commander. This would help us obtain more troops from major powers. The events of the past week will make foreign governments extremely reluctant to put their citizens at risk. That is why international acceptance of responsibility for stabilizing Iraq must be matched by international authority for managing the remainder of the Iraqi transition. The United Nations, not the United States, should be the primary civilian partner in working with Iraqi leaders to hold elections, restore government services, rebuild the economy, and re-create a sense of hope and optimism among the Iraqi people. The primary responsibility for security must remain with the U.S. military, preferably helped by NATO until we have an Iraqi security force fully prepared to take responsibility.

The only problem is this has already been tried. The United States has requested NATO assistance in Iraq, only to be rebuffed by Germany, France and Belgium. Assistance from the United Nations was also requested, several times, however it was opposed by Russia, France Germany and many other nations. The United Nations withdrew from Iraq at the first sign of danger, after its office in Iraq was destroyed in a car bomb attack. Many countries in the United Nations opposed the invasion of Iraq for political or financial reasons, and have no inclination to support the reconstruction.

Past events, such as the conflicts in the U.N. and NATO over the policies towards Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosovo, demonstrate the inability of the international community to put aside their own interests for the good of a nation in peril. President Clinton, perhaps the most loved of American presidents in the international community, could not build a consensus amongst the U.N. to resolve these problems. Perhaps Senator Kerry believes he will have more success in convincing foreign governments unwilling to cooperate in the stabilization of Iraq. He should outline his plan to create this international harmony. And he also should outline his plan in case his effort to internationalize Iraq fails.

Posted by bill roggio @ 10:47 AM

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Monday, April 12, 2004
Pakistani Pressure 

While the U.S. Army prepares its assault on Sadr's Madhi Army, Pakistan continues the hunt for al Qaeda in the tribal regions. The last round of combat between Pakistani forces and elements of Uzbeki and Chechen al Qaeda was a bloody fight, and the lesson has been learned by the Waziri tribal elders:

"The government has put a huge number of troops on our land, and they tell us they are searching for al-Qaida, but we want to make clear that there are no al-Qaida in Shawal," said Said Khan, one of 35 elders in the 30,000-strong Jani Khel tribe. "If there are foreigners, we will turn them over. We cannot afford to punish all of our people to protect one or two outsiders."

Pakistan appears to be serious about the crackdown in Waziristan, and is prepared to mount a long campaign to rid itself of al Qaeda sanctuaries on the borders of Afghanistan.

Brig. Mahmood Shah, chief of security for the tribal regions, said military action is a possibility. "We prefer a political solution, but at the same time, the threat of force is there and that is extremely important in the tribal areas," he told AP from his office in Peshawar. "Negotiations, threats and military action all go hand-in-hand."

Negotiations, threats and military action are the three pillars of diplomacy. Without allowing for military action, diplomacy is just talk. The Waziri tribal leaders will consider the Pakistani military operations last month when deciding how to handle foreign jihadis in their care.

Posted by bill roggio @ 11:58 PM

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The War's Spokesman 

America and the free world have no greater friend than British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr. Blair understands the treat we face, and despite opposition from his New Labor party and a significant number of British voters, he continues to articulate the nature of our enemy and the importance of Iraq on the War on Terror.

The terrorists prey on ethnic or religious discord. From Kashmir to Chechnya, to Palestine and Israel, they foment hatred, they deter reconciliation. In Europe, they conducted the massacre in Madrid. They threaten France. They forced the cancellation of the President of Germany's visit to Djibouti. They have been foiled in Britain, but only for now.

Of course they use Iraq. It is vital to them. As each attack brings about American attempts to restore order, so they then characterise it as American brutality. As each piece of chaos menaces the very path toward peace and democracy along which most Iraqis want to travel, they use it to try to make the coalition lose heart, and bring about the retreat that is the fanatics' victory.

They know it is a historic struggle. They know their victory would do far more than defeat America or Britain. It would defeat civilisation and democracy everywhere. They know it, but do we? The truth is, faced with this struggle, on which our own fate hangs, a significant part of Western opinion is sitting back, if not half-hoping we fail, certainly replete with schadenfreude at the difficulty we find.


He describes the progress within Iraq and addresses the question of the Iraqi public’s willingness to stand up for freedom.

People in the West ask: why don't they speak up, these standard-bearers of the new Iraq? Why don't the Shia clerics denounce al-Sadr more strongly? I understand why the question is asked. But the answer is simple: they are worried. They remember 1991, when the West left them to their fate. They know their own street, unused to democratic debate, rife with every rumour, and know its volatility. They read the Western papers and hear its media. And they ask, as the terrorists do: have we the stomach to see it through?

The abandonment of Iraqi Shiites and Kurds after the First Gulf War and Saddam’s brutal repression of these groups cannot be overstated when considering the mentality of the Iraqi public.

Mr. Blair recognizes another threat that all democracies face in fighting a war of this nature: the threat of complacency, appeasement, unwillingness to recognize the threat of radical Islam and the lack of will to fight among the peoples of democratic nations.

But our greatest threat, apart from the immediate one of terrorism, is our complacency. When some ascribe, as they do, the upsurge in Islamic extremism to Iraq, do they really forget who killed whom on 11 September 2001? When they call on us to bring the troops home, do they seriously think that this would slake the thirst of these extremists, to say nothing of what it would do to the Iraqis?

Or if we scorned our American allies and told them to go and fight on their own, that somehow we would be spared? If we withdraw from Iraq, they will tell us to withdraw from Afghanistan and, after that, to withdraw from the Middle East completely and, after that, who knows? But one thing is for sure: they have faith in our weakness just as they have faith in their own religious fanaticism. And the weaker we are, the more they will come after us.

It is not easy to persuade people of all this; to say that terrorism and unstable states with WMD are just two sides of the same coin; to tell people what they don't want to hear; that, in a world in which we in the West enjoy all the pleasures, profound and trivial, of modern existence, we are in grave danger.


There is no better spokesman for the free world than Prime Minister Tony Blair.


Posted by bill roggio @ 1:11 PM

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