Friday, June 30, 2006


Know Your Enemy

Michael Ledeen offers a timely lesson on terrorism and Iran’s role, in terror, and in Iraq, in his latest NRO piece.

Ledeen’s thoughts on Iranian proxies in Iraq:

Al-Reuters speaks of “Iranian fighters” mixed in with “Shi’ite militiamen.” But lots of Shiite militiamen entered Iraq from Iran around the time of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and many of those had originally fled Iraq in the early 1980s to join Iranian forces in the war against Saddam. We’re talking big numbers here. Millions of Iraqi Shiites went to Iran, and tens of thousands of them (and, later, their children) were trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. They are ideal for infiltration — into Shiite or Sunni militias — since they speak Arabic with an Iraqi accent.
I have been saying for years now that those who have been insisting that the “insurrection” is primarily an internal, Iraqi phenomenon, have missed this basic analytical conundrum: are those people Iraqis or Iranians? Should we call them “Iranian agents” (or as al-Reuters prefers, “Iranian fighters”)? Or should we call them Iraqis who spent time in Iran? Who are they?
The important thing is that they are working for Iran; their ultimate national allegiance is irrelevant in terms of understanding the nature of the terror war. They respond to the terror masters in Tehran.

In contrast, Ledeen’s observations about Iraqi Shia, and why many of our analysts and decision-makers get it wrong:

The single greatest distortion of reality in the war is that old chestnut about the profound hatred and total incompatibility between Sunnis and Shiites. The truth is that Sunnis and Shiites happily cooperate when it comes to killing Americans, Europeans, Jews, Christians, Suffis, Bahais, and anyone else who can be defined as an infidel and/or crusader. This has been going on for a very long time. In the early Seventies, for example, the (Shiite) Revolutionary Guards were trained in Lebanon by the (Sunni) Fatah of Yasser Arafat.
Obsessed by this great distortion, our analysts have lost sight of the profound internal war under way within Shiite Islam, the two contending forces being the Najaf (Iraqi, traditional) and the Qom (Iranian, heretical, theocratic) versions. Tehran fears ideological enemies inspired either by democracy or by Ayatollah Sistani’s (Najaf) view of the world, which is that civil society should be governed by politicians, not mullahs.
Thus it is a mistake to assume–as it is so often—that Shiites in Iraq are automatically pro-Iranian. No matter how many times smart people such as Reuel Gerecht detail the intra-Shiite civil war, it just goes in one ear and out the other of the intelligence community and the policymakers.

Ledeen makes the critical argument here that:

We are wrongly focused on the Iranian nuclear threat, which is obviously worth worrying about, but this excessively narrow focus has distracted us from the main threat, which is terrorism.

It always helps to know who your real enemies are. In the case of radical Islamic terrorism, there is a primary state sponsor for such activities, who for too long has acted through various proxies to fight against the US and drive us out of the Middle East, by whatever means they can make that happen.

Aided and abetted, of course, by our own natural reluctance to sustain a long term war, and those political forces that constantly squeeze out partisan advantage with every negative event or operational setback.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Security and Secrecy

The New York Times introduces their latest defense of the indefensible with a warning, that prior attempts to prosecute the press for disclosing national security secrets did not “turn out well.” In reminiscing about the Pentagon Papers, the editors of the Times reveal the template they’ve used all along in fighting the Bush Administration in their proxy war-against-the-war.

It’s just like Vietnam. That’s why they had to blow the whistle on this whole spying thing. “That damned Johnson,” as Jenny’s irresponsible peacenik squeeze in Forrest Gump said, in excusing his own tawdry and reprehensible behavior.

Whether the war in Iraq, or the broader Global War on Terror, the Times can’t seem to make up its mind. They’re one and the same, so let’s fight against both as a “war based on lies.” Or they’re not the same, so why is the Bush Administration getting distracted from Bin Laden and Al Qaeda with this nation building in Iraq?

“As most of our readers know, there is a large wall between the news and opinion operations of this paper.” Close readers of the last decade of Times reporting must find this claim the most outrageous at all.

Is this meant to harken back to Jamie Gorelick’s infamous “wall of separation,” or is it just high irony? Isn’t this the editorial (and all too often, news section A) version of “damned if you do and damned if you don’t” game the Times has been playing throughout the global war on terror?

When doing post mortems on 9/11 and the response of our Intelligence and terror fighting services, it’s “why didn’t they connect the dots?” “By God, they had seven scraps of intercept that allude to the big attack!” (Out of millions.) “Here, a disgruntled and underappreciated CIA analyst warned them Bin Laden wanted to attack the US, how come nobody was looking for it?”

There were few commentators as shrill with 20/20 hindsight as the editors of the Times.

Then comes evidence of a muscular and proactive assault on terror making organizations and individuals, using multiple avenues and methods, and the Times is screaming about violations of civil liberties, attacks on privacy (although usually more speculative or postulated than actually in evidence), and extreme violations of “long established” checks and balances of powers of the three branches of government.

Which has translated thus, for the Times of the past 15 years: when in Democratic hands, a strengthened Executive is preferred; when GOP, maintain that the Executive has become Imperial. This, despite evidence that both Clinton and Bush administrations argued for and in many cases, attempted to draw the lines, in exactly the same spots.

If it weren’t revelatory of a grave threat to public support for what will be a multi-Administration (and likely multi-generational) fight against radical Islamic terrorism, watching the Times Editorial Board spin in logical circles might be amusing.

So the Times remains ever vigilant to reveal those state secrets, which Bill Keller in his exalted wisdom as non-elected and self-appointed arbiter of all things trustworthy, deems worthy of public (and therefore the Jihadis Hirabah) scrutiny.

Even that would be tolerable in an Open Society, were it not for the fact that, so far, the New York Times has never met a secret that wouldn’t benefit from full public disclosure. Because, you see, this most recent story looks to the Times “like part of an alarming pattern.”

Forgive us skeptics, Mr. Keller, if we think the continued disclosures of national security secrets by James Risen and his Times fellow conspirators look “like part of an alarming pattern.” Something closer to treason than public service.

Those lingering supporters of the Rosenbergs not dissuaded by revelations tied to VENONA, depict them as well-intentioned if misguided idealists, who felt the immense power of the atomic bomb needed to be shared among super powers, rather than the sole property of one.

The Times wants to make the case that the Bush Administration operates in the throes of hysteria, notably reminiscent of the Cold War:

Ever since Sept. 11, the Bush administration has taken the necessity of heightened vigilance against terrorism and turned it into a rationale for an extraordinarily powerful executive branch, exempt from the normal checks and balances of our system of government. It has created powerful new tools of surveillance and refused, almost as a matter of principle, to use normal procedures that would acknowledge that either Congress or the courts have an oversight role.

Forget being stuck on Vietnam, the Editors at the Times are still stuck on the Cold War. Thus all the Cold War rhetoric and allusions. Can it be that the Times retains the illusion that there was no real Cold War threat or justification for rooting out domestic spies, or aggressively countering Soviet hegemony abroad?

You think I exaggerate? How else to interpret the cryptic reference that concludes the Times latest argument for self-defense, emphasis mine:

The United States will soon be marking the fifth anniversary of the war on terror. The country is in this for the long haul, and the fight has to be coupled with a commitment to individual liberties that define America's side in the battle. A half-century ago, the country endured a long period of amorphous, global vigilance against an enemy who was suspected of boring from within, and history suggests that under those conditions, it is easy to err on the side of security and secrecy. The free press has a central place in the Constitution because it can provide information the public needs to make things right again. Even if it runs the risk of being labeled unpatriotic in the process.

“Easy to err on the side of security and secrecy.” Easy? Not if the Editors at the Times have anything to say about it, and you can bet they do.

One might have made another observation about the Cold War, and the necessity to maintain both security and secrecy. Not just the easiest ting to do, but the safest and wisest, as well.

Cross-posted at Milblogs, with other commentary at The American Thinker, RantingProfs, Newsbusters, Patterico's Pontifications, Junkyard Blog. More commentary at The Q & O Blog, Sweetness and Light, Professor Bainbridge, The Glittering Eye, Jeff Jarvis, American Future.)

Linked at Mudville Gazette.

UPDATE: Jack Kelly at Real Clear Politics says President Bush shoudl welcome a fight with the media. Kelly declares that, however disenchanted the public is about Iraq, they are furious with the Times over their repeated disclosures of secret counter-terror operations:
Ordinary Americans are furious with the Times both for what it has done, and for its arrogance in doing it. And journalists don't have much popularity to lose. In a Harris survey in March, only 14 percent of respondents expressed a "great deal" of confidence in the press, while 34 percent had "hardly any."

In picking a fight with journalists over leaks, President Bush would be picking on one of the few groups in America less popular than he is, on the issue where he is on the firmest ground with the public.
I may not agree with his conclusion to advise the President, politically, to consider prosecution. But Kelly is right on target with his critique, and assessment of the relative popularity of the President and his media critics.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


A Fallen Hero

Gaius Arbo of Blue Crab Boulevard passed along a link to his moving tribute to a fallen hero (and, indirectly, the proud Nation he served).

Here’s how he Gaius starts his tribute:

The first thing that hits you are the flags.

SPC Benjamin James Slaven died serving his country. His mother tells us:

He was very proud to serve his Country, and so dedicated. I am very proud to be his mother, and proud of his service to our Country.

One Gold Star Mother who knows at her core what it means to be a part of that vibrant fabric that is America. Her son was a thread, she is a thread, her family and friends are threads, all woven together in love of country. How vibrant and strong the fabric, in places such as the Midwestern home of SPC Slaven.

His family honors his memory. His town honors his sacrifice. Gaius honors the Nation and community that produce such heroes.

Gaius reports that his piece will be published in the American Legion Magazine, with an honorarium donated to a Ben Slaven Memorial Fund.

Linked at Mudville Gazette, Basil's Blog

Friday, June 23, 2006


The Worm Turns

Victor Davis Hanson notes a little noted but remarkable change in world attitudes towards those who for too long have condoned radical Islamic terrorism:

The Middle Easterner is also starting to realize that his once romantic jihadist has turned even approving bystanders into international pariahs. You doubt that? Try getting on an international flight with a Saudi or Egyptian and watch the passengers’ reaction; or wear a veil in Paris or Rome, and see how many smiles you receive. That radical change in attitudes toward radical Islam and its appeasers, the jihadist — and those in the Middle East who tolerated him — begot. How they finally wore down the Western therapeutic mind from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, I don’t know, but somehow they have nearly accomplished that once impossible feat.

More excellent analysis from VDH, read the whole thing.


No Time for the Times Part 2

UPDATE: Sorry that I don’t just update my earlier post, but this is easier.

Gad, now I’m angrier still, if that’s possible, thanks to Andrew C. McCarthy’s dissection of the legal issues involved (make that, not involved) in the classified program the New York Times illegally exposed.

McCarthy makes the very clear case that nothing in this program reflected any kin dof extrajudicial or remotely questionable behavior on the part of the Bush Administration. Extra steps were taken to bend over backwards to ensure legality and oversight. So what have we learned, what news, from the Times’ willful violation of national security, aiding and abetting leakers, who have committed a felony offense in releasing classified information? (Can we yank their clearances and throw them in jail, please?)

McCarthy says the only thing we learned was that, yet again, the Bush Administration was able to gather highly valuable intelligence in confronting the terrorist threat:

No, the most salient thing we learn from today’s compromise of the TFTP is that the program has been highly effective at keeping us safe. According to the government, it has helped identify and locate terrorists and their financial backers; it has been instrumental in charting terrorist networks; and it has been essential in starving these savage organizations of their lifeblood: funding.

Not so effective from here on out, I should think. Matters of public record, Bill Keller, are you flippin’ insane? I’m one of those John Q. Public types, Keller, and I’ll tell you this: It is supremely in my interest that my Government and Military be afforded every reasonable opportunity and means, allowed by law and the Constitution, to fight these brutal enemies anywhere and everywhere.

Without you destroying those means, jeopardizing operations, revealing classified information to the enemy, or placing partisan objectives above national security. Try for once to prove yourselves worthy of the liberties and freedoms you make so much noise saying you defend, rather than demonstrating so clearly to the rest of us what bloomin’ a$$hats you are.

McCarthy laments on why you folks don’t get it:

Appealing to the patriotism of these newspapers proved about as promising as appealing to the humanity of the terrorists they so insouciantly edify — the same monsters who, as we saw again only a few days ago with the torture murder of two American soldiers, continue to define depravity down.
The newspapers, of course, said no. Why? What could outweigh the need to protect a valid effort to shield Americans from additional, barbarous attacks? Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, smugly decreed that the Bush administration’s “access to this vast repository of international financial data” was, in his singularly impeccable judgment, “a matter of public interest.”
And you probably thought George Bush was the imperious one. And that the public’s principal interest was in remaining alive. Wrong again.
The blunt reality here is that there is a war against the war. It is the jihad of privacy fetishists whose self-absorption knows no bounds. Pleas rooted in the well-being of our community hold no sway.

It’s time to fight this war against the war. We need to shun, ostracize, and exact a high civil, commercial, political and moral price for this new kind of enemy. Those so driven by hatred and partisan agenda, that they’re “not just against the war, but on the other side.” (I can’t remember who used to say that, anybody remind me, and I’ll attribute.)


Refocus on Iran

Austin Bay posts on a change in focus from Iraq to Iran, and references Wretchard at The Belmont Club. Bay and Wretchard both remark on recent talk of amnesty as “a new peace feeler” from the Iraqi government to Sunni holdouts. Bay quotes Wretchard’s three conclusions, with which he agrees:

The internally organized insurgency (al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni insurgency) is decline. Al-Qaeda in Iraq is hurt and perhaps dying; the Sunnis are looking to throw in the towel.

Criminal gangs and ethnic militias are the rising threat. But Casey does not appear all that worried. “And if you look at where the sectarian violence is occurring, it’s occurring within about a 30-mile — 90 percent of it is occurring in about a 30- mile radius around Baghdad

Something happened “since the December elections and in the aftermath of the Samarra bombing” that made the security situation “more complex”. And that something appears to be the increasing role of Iran using the Lebanese Hezbollah and Qods to direct and support “a wide variety of groups across southern Iraq”.

Not linked by Bay, Wretchard in his post goes on to remark on the possibility of a shifting US strategic focus:

The recently announced Iraqi government peace proposal to the Sunnis was in all probability already known to both Rumsfeld and Casey when they gave this briefing. If I were to guess, and I emphasize guess, it means that the US is now in the process of shifting its strategic focus from al-Qaeda and Sunni threats to Iran.

Here’s Bay’s conclusion:

Maliki’s amnesty looks very similar to the program Allawi wanted to implement. The difference is Maliki has the political power of a democratically-elected national unity government behind him. The Sunnis holdouts have also suffered another two years of defeat. The old Sunni line in Iraq was “the Shia are sheep.” The Saddamists running the Sunni insurgency thought they could terrorize the Shia into submission. They also banked on “the Vietnam syndrome” to get the US to leave– set off bombs, rely on the global media to magnify the bombs, and slowly erode US national will.

I can only thank God our President and our Military leadership don’t make strategic, national security decisions based on polls, public opinion, or media reporting.

Bay accurately gauges the Sunni insurgency, what they were counting on as a central tenet of their strategy. Note how completely it’s failed on all fronts. The Shia reacted not with fear, or violence and reprisals, but steadiness, restraint, and no small amount of courage. So the current American Administration and its military have . The only effect that Sunni holdouts and their erstwhile Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist conspirators was the last, that of global media eroding US national will, at least as can be surmised from the recent bottoming out of the President’s poll numbers, Democratic caterwauling, or polls showing US public increasingly demoralized over the course of the war, which US and Iraqi security forces are winning handily.

Also linked by Instapundit, Blue Crab Boulevard.

(Cross-posted at Milblogs)


No Time for the Times

Please, please, please, please.

If you currently subscribe to the New York Times, cancel your subscription. Don’t buy it, discourage anyone you know from buying it. It is the primary mouthpiece of sworn enemies of the United States, and happy to be so.

If you care about the national security of the United States, cancel your subscription.

If you think Americans need to be Americans first before we start yielding our freedoms to those in the world who hate and despise us, cancel your subscription.

If you think America is just about the most free place in the world, if you value our freedoms, cancel your subscription.

If you are afraid of what the US would become if we fell under the control of the UN, Europe, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, CAIR, or others who think we are the biggest security problem in the world, cancel your subscription.

Because the Editorial Board of the New York Times thinks only the Editors at the Times can decide what are national security secrets, and what aren’t.

It isn’t about legal or illegal, separation of powers, checks and balances, it’s what a few, unelected, self-appointed Protectors of the Public Interest think the way things should be.

They don’t care about laws, they don’t care about America, they don’t believe we are a good people in a good nation, which is the beacon of liberty and freedom in the world.

They believe only their own misguided philosophy and deranged delusions, in which the US is run as a Fascist State by an Evil Religious Extremist, supported by an entire Political Party of Nazi Sympathizers and Racist Corporate Barons, and therefore should be fought against with every means at their disposal.

Al Qaeda and the terrorists are their friends, they sympathize with their hatred of America and our American President. They want to help them, and they do.

Anything that hurts our efforts in the Global War on Terror, that they will do.

If you currently subscribe to the New York Times, cancel your subscription.

Other conservative (as in sane) commentary, courtesy of Memeorandum:

AJStrata / The Strata-Sphere: Liberal Media Helps Terrorists Again

Hugh Hewitt: The New York Times' Encore: "[A] matter of public interest"

Curt / Flopping Aces: We Are The Keeper Of All Secrets

Uncle Jimbo / BLACKFIVE: WH PRESS BRIEFING- NY TIMES BACK ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK Here we go again! More Classified Info Leaks to the NYTimes

C.S. Scott / Security Watchtower: NY Times reveals another classified U.S. program

Clay Waters / NYT Wrecks Another Terrorist-Surveillance Program

Jay / Expose the Left: New York Times Leaks Again

Scott Ott / ScrappleFace: New York Times Secretly Sifting CIA Data

PoliticalCP / The Politics of CP: Sources & Methods Compromised

Layla Gonzalez / Freedom Watch: NYTIMES DOESN'T KNOW WHEN TO SHUT UP - AGAIN


Gaius / Blue Crab Boulevard: The Media Is The Decider

Bryan / Hot Air: Whose side are they on? — The boss is vexed, and not because …

Michael Tanji / GroupIntel: Journalistic Success — That's what we can call subsequent terrorist attacks.

Greg Tinti / Outside The Beltway OTB: Bill Keller: No, I'm The Decider

Kevin / Pundit Review: MSM: research wing of Jihad

Patterico / Patterico's Pontifications:

New York Times Publishes Classified Details of Legal and (Formerly) Effective Anti-Terrorism Program

Jeff Goldstein / protein wisdom:
Just keep telling yourself: It's because they care about YOUR CIVIL LIBERTIES!

(Cross-posted at Milblogs
Linked by Thunder Run.


Utopia Today!

James Lileks is in rare form today, even for Lileks. Just a little into today’s Bleat, he references an utterly oafish quote from Ang Lee, “The world’s least free place for making movies is the US, because it has a fixed model.”

Lileks of course takes Lee’s premise, force marches it up Hollywood Hills, runs it down the streets of Carmel, and does a personal trainer punishment trek out to Pasadena. By the time he’s done, whatever Lee was trying to say looks pretty ragged. That’s worth reading, of course.

But what really caught my attention was his next bit of calisthenics. The meager stamina of Lee’s foolishness exhausted, Lileks makes passing reference to the political myopia and fancy that underlies those, like Lee, who can think so strangely, that these kinds of idiocies seem only too true:

What’s unique – and maybe I’m wrong; happens daily – is that the entire America experience past and present is now irredeemable. For a while the present was okay, because the right people were in charge, and there was a change we could attain Utopia with the right pieces of legislation. When that was the case, it was understandable to unload on the old benighted past, because that led up to this, and this would absolve the land.

(I never understood why 18th century America was castigated for not manifesting the values of the 20th, even though 18th century America held forth ideas that would be radical to 20th century Africa, and paved the way for those 20th century American values to exist and flourish. We’re always held up to the most peculiar standards. Our motives are base, our freedoms illusory or rationed or insufficient. It matters less that a freedom was granted in 1920; what’s truly illustrative of this rotten house is the fact that it wasn’t granted in 1871. As thought the world has always been free, kings died when the first Caesar was stabbed, Papal bulls since 500 AD have boiled down to “oh, whatev” and the entire world was a grand placid Sweden, where civilized people nibbled on crackers and tried to ignore the rude Yank on the lawn firing off his blunderbuss for no particular reason. You can site a hundred stories about French racism all you like, but it won’t matter because they applauded Josephine Baker’s nightclub routines in Paris in the 20s.)

And best of all? Lileks sums it up with this:

We enter our fourth century taking for granted freedoms that were unimagined in our first… For those who want Utopia today, yesterday is always a villain. Regardless of how it made tomorrow possible.

Completely unnecessary to remark, but go read the whole thing. This is just the frosting.

(Via Instapundit)

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Slogans and Inconvenient Truth

I earlier noted Peggy Noonan’s fine critique in a nutshell; I should have paired it with a companion piece for James Lileks’ latest Pig-in-a-Screedblog.

Lileks describes the acute desperation of Democrats in finding a slogan that won’t blow up in their faces. He notes how “The Dem’s manifesto goes on. My, it does go on.”

Without, of course, any attempt at seriousness, traveling over-trod ground with such perennial losers such as minimum wage, college costs, fiscal responsibility, while assiduously avoiding anything that might require a bold stand, really any stand at all.

A New Direction, indeed. Lileks:

The minimum wage was indeed a New Direction – last century, anyway. Compared to the unofficial GOP slogan – “Fight and win the War on Terror by blowing up more bad guys real good” – it’s like running against FDR in ’42 with a pledge to reduce postal rates.

I like Lilek’s slogan for the GOP: “Fight and win the War on Terror by blowing up more bad guys real good.” The Republican Candidate for President in 2008 would do well to have it put on party worker T-shirts.

Not the Democrats. They don’t want to fight today’s wars. They lost in 2004 by fighting the Vietnam war redux. They don’t object to wars per se, but they have to be small, tidy, sound-bite compatible and not at all involving anything that requires a political price of admission, as noted by their disgraceful clamoring for retreat, then voting in large numbers against the cut and run they say we need.

Lileks thinks he’s found where they’ll find their mettle:

Anything on the war? No. the Dems slam Bush for not adjusting Pell Grants for inflation, but the manifesto says nothing about Terror, the War On. We’re supposed to intuit that they’d redeploy to Camp Murtha, from which we can strike Iraq with only a fortnight’s delay. Let no one mistake their position: they have risen to the challenge of these perilous times, and come out against excess CEO compensation. No doubt this means they’ll be hard on Iran.

Those mullahs are pulling down millions.

Sooner or later the Democrats will acknowledge that we’re in a war, a global war, fought by radical Islamic terrorists, aided and abetted by sworn enemies of the US under all manner of proxy arrangements.

They won’t do it under any scenario that requires them to admit that President Bush, and the Republicans, had it largely right, and they had it largely wrong: Saddam’s links to terror, the threat he posed, the threat in general, the failure of diplomacy and other fancy forms of appeasement, the urgency for military action, and how muscular that response needed to be.

So not now. Certainly not before many regional decisions in 2006. Perhaps not before a critical national decision in 2008. But eventually, Democrats will find their voice.

It would have been better if they had found it in concert with a serious minded GOP in 2002 and 2003. Better still if they got it in the difficult days of 2004 and 2005 or even now. Think about how different public perceptions would be about the war and our progress if they had.

I’m afraid they won’t find that voice, that ability to clearly denounce the methods and aims of the whole of our enemies, not just corporate ones, until two certain events take place.

The first event? George W. Bush leaves office. Presidents come and go. Not many incur the amount of hysteria or deranged fury that this one has. That’s a great misfortune, moreso for America than for him. Because it was grand distraction to the storm, more than imminent, already raging around us.

Some BDS sufferers will wake up soon after, and resume logical thinking and discourse about matters of urgent National Security.

The second event? When terrorists achieve their greatest hope of all, and detonate a nuclear weapon as an act on terrorist Jihad.

We will all be warmongers then. And I doubt many of us will have the heart, or time, or patience to even bother with the “I Told You So.” Because in that moment, the possibly avoidable deaths of millions of people and the necessarily militarization that follows, will make political point-making far more offensive than the partisan posturing we see today.

And there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Linked at Milblogs.


The Importance of Property Law

Fellow Milblogger Eagle1 links to a thought-provoking article by Tom Bethel in The American Spectator with this introduction, which I can’t top:

Simple Simon meets a pieman and asks, "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed?" Which is, in fact, the title of this piece from The American Spectator. For those of you who think that the answer is a complicated economic package of mathematical complexity, let me reveal the much less complicated answer: Property law.

The article, taken from the May 2006 issue of The American Spectator, reports on a recent meeting facilitated by famed conservative Grover Norquist, in which Peruvian researcher Hernando de Soto spoke. Who’s de Soto,and what’s his connection to the significance of Property Law and economic development? Bethel explains:

Twenty-five years ago, he founded the Institute for Liberty and Democracy in Lima, Peru. He wrote a book called The Other Path, drawing attention to the failures of economic development. Then he published a second, The Mystery of Capital, elaborating on the first.
De Soto illustrates the point that only outsiders are capable of original ideas in fields dominated by credentialed experts. He addresses a profound failure of conventional economic theory. The problem can be put this way (and once was, by the president of the Economic History Association): Why isn't the whole world developed? According to economic theory it should be. The three "factors of production," according to classical economics, are labor, capital, and natural resources ("land" in some versions). They are all readily available. If capital is in short supply, it can always be transported -- now more easily than ever. The problem is that these factors make no claims about political or legal institutions. Property in particular is overlooked. This missing ingredient accounts for the widespread failure of economic development in most countries in the world.
The legal infrastructure in developed countries is "the hidden architecture of capitalism," de Soto says. It is hard to see because it is buried in thousands of pieces of ancient legislation, legal interpretation, and working institutions. No single person would know enough to explain it fully. Western nations take these institutional arrangements for granted and don't understand how fruitful they have been.
They do not exist in most countries and never have.

Read the whole thing. Bethel goes on to explain how de Soto’s organization was invited to Mexico, and offers thoughts directly relevant to our Immigration problem (and Mexico’s emigration problem).


Absolute Moral Authority

I found the perfect expression of contempt and anger for the brutality we’ve recently (and repeatedly) witnessed from our enemies in Iraq, and elsewhere, courtesy of an absolute moral authority.

Go read the whole thing, as only Some Soldier's Mom could write it.

Afterwards, if you’re looking for a way to honor and offer condolences for the families of the soldiers PFC Tucker, PFC Menchaca, and SPC Babineau, do as Blackfive suggests:

Soldiers' Angels are collecting cards and letters for the families of Thomas Tucker, Kristian Menchaca, and David Babineau.

You can send your condolences and notes of encouragement to:

Soldiers' Angels
1792 E. Washington Blvd
Pasadena Ca 91104

Soldiers' Angels also will provide a living tree to honor each of them.



Count on Peggy Noonan to find the nut, crack it open, hollow out the nutshell, then catch the pea of the thing safe inside.

So reads her assessment in the Journal Online today.

Cliff notes version? Republican leaders think their base is stupid, that they know better on all manner of issues such as immigration and earmark (pork barrel) reform.

The Democrats think their base is stupid, but something more, too, stark barking, raving mad.

That’s her read on party leadership, especially in light of the Senate’s rejection of Democrats’ calls for cut and run by June 2007 (86 to 13), or cut and run (date unspecified, 60-39), or just cut and run (ala Murtha, still fermenting over in the House).

Here are the Democrats, in that nutshell I mentioned:

You can see their problem in their inability to get a slogan. Which, believe me, is how they think of it: a slogan. "Together for a Better Future." "A Future With Better Togetherness." Today for a better tomorrow, tomorrow for a better today.

A party has a hard time saying what it stands for only when it doesn't know what it stands for. It has trouble getting a compelling slogan only when it has no idea what compels its base. Or when it fears what compels it.

And the Republican, shell-encased I fear:

They know the higher wisdom on such issues as immigration. They feel less fealty to the insights of the base. They know more than the base, are more experienced than the base, have a more nuanced sense of reality. And as for conservative social issues groups, the politicians resent those nagging, whining pushers-for-the-impossible who are always threatening to stay home or go elsewhere. (Where?)

Some Washington Republicans have been in leadership so long they've learned--they've learned too well!--that politics is the art of the possible. It is. But this is not an excuse to be weak, or ambivalent, or passive, or superior.

Hard to know which is more offensive. To be thought stupid, or to be thought not so stupid, but only because you’re crazy.


Acts of War

The other two legs of the Axis of Evil eagerly await the results of the impending nuclear-capable, intercontinental ballistic missile test.

Watch it unfold, and ask yourself. Will the same sniggering critiques that thought President Bush some wild eyed, Strangelovian cowboy, acknowledge how precisely President Bush identified the threats we face, back in 2003?

It might have been Saddam, too, eagerly watching that test, waiting to get into serious negotiations to get him some. But we took care of that threat, didn’t we?

And now the world seems only too eager  to have the US take on the other two psychopathic regimes who consider terrorism a legitimate form of international behavior as official foreign policy. And would likely consider nuclear terrorism (or at least extortion) all the more desirable and effective?

I posted yesterday about the remarkable subtext of the European Union (EU) meeting in Vienna tangentially (and only temporarily) reported by the AP.

Today we have David Warren from the Ottawa Citizen (posted at Real Clear Politics) saying North Korea is threatening “An Act of War, Not a Test,” for that is what the North Koreans provoke:

By any standard of international law, the launch will be an act of war. The Americans, or anyone else with anti-missile capabilities, would thus be entirely within their rights to shoot it down. Nor would it be provocative to do so. The provocation consists in sending up the missile in the first place. (Though alas, a mind addled by "liberalism" will refuse such a logical distinction.)

The question whether it would be prudent to shoot it down -- or even obliterate the launch facility before the launch can happen -- is another matter. It is a question without a reasonable answer, because the Western intelligence agencies upon which we depend for accurate information about North Korean capabilities are utterly incompetent, and morally confused about whose interests they serve. (Look at what the CIA has been revealing about itself, recently, for confirmation of this dire view.)

Let that sink in: a question without a reasonable answer. Warren hits the nail on the head. Precisely because Western Intelligence agencies and analysts have been cowed into questioning all manner of pre-Iraqi-war assessments, because our CIA has elevated political, bureaucratic aims over intelligence (but in a way contrary to what war opponents think), they stand motionless now. We have so often underestimated the aims and capabilities of our enemies, and misjudged those who posture as friends but want those enemies to achieve great things against us.

Our Intelligence services display this inability and perhaps unwillingness to “connect the dots” for no target more than North Korea, where decades of misbegotten diplomacy have lead us straightaway to these dire straights. Call it another peace dividend resulting from the collapse of the old Soviet Union and our strenuous efforts to make friends with the Russians. With eyes wide open we decided not to see the evidence of all those proxy wars fought against us, in few places more heatedly than through willing Pyongyang.

Two Clinton era appointees, Assistant Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter and Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, wrote an editorial today in the Washington Post. Carter and Perry argue that we should act with force:

Therefore, if North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be launched.

While arguing for force, Carter and Perry nevertheless couch their argument in willfully self-exonerating and Bush-bashing arguments:

Creative diplomacy might have avoided the need to choose between these two unattractive alternatives. Indeed, in earlier years the two of us were directly involved in negotiations with North Korea, coupled with military planning, to prevent just such an outcome. We believe diplomacy might have precluded the current situation.

As I recall recent history, the US continuously tried to meet the North Koreans more than halfway, and the North Koreans repeatedly have been proven to be deceitful, taking every opportunity to advance their nuclear ambitions under cloak of thoroughly negotiations that are thoroughly cuckolded by North Korean violations of every aspect of those agreements. All while diverting food aid to military purposes and keeping their people in starvation, to boot.

Still, however much they misrepresent what brought us to this critical moment, Carter and Perry correctly identify what the US needs to do, as demanded by the situation. And the consequences if we don’t:

But diplomacy has failed, and we cannot sit by and let this deadly threat mature. A successful Taepodong launch, unopposed by the United States, its intended victim, would only embolden North Korea even further. The result would be more nuclear warheads atop more and more missiles.

Linked at Blogotional.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Neither Sympathy Nor Quarter

Two must reads at NRO:

Hue Again (and Again), by James S. Robbins. Excerpt:

By rights these incidents should demonstrate that we are better than our enemies. We are civilized, they are barbarians. What we are fighting for is objectively superior to what they are fighting for. Our struggle is legitimate, theirs is not. There is no room for moral relativism in this war. Certainly those who view torture and beheading as acts of piety have no problem seeing it as a black and white conflict. And when faced with extremism of this sort, we should take it at face value.
Those who say that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter should be asked how they define freedom. Those who compare terrorist or guerrilla leaders to George Washington or other Founding Fathers should explain when it was exactly that they ordered the killing of innocents as a method, or even as a matter of expediency. And especially when they ever sought to invoke God’s approval for inflicting agonizing deaths on helpless captives.

Geneva and Savagery, by Andrew C. McCarthy. Excerpt:

So exactly how are Islamic terrorists faring on Geneva’s “Do unto others” scorecard?
Well, the treaty’s provisions call for protecting civilians and civilian infrastructure. Al Qaeda targets civilians for mass murder and intentionally destroys civilian infrastructure.
The provisions call for membership in a regular military force which carries its arms openly. Al Qaeda’s idea of a weapon in open view is a hijacked jumbo jet in the seconds before it crashes into a building. Otherwise, it favors roadside bombs or high explosives concealed in vans burrowed in underground garages beneath bustling civilian skyscrapers.
The provisions call for wearing uniforms in order to distinguish members as authentic soldiers. Al Qaeda’s jihadists dress and conduct themselves ostensibly as civilians — the better to hide from real armies and lull actual civilians to their deaths.
The provisions call for treating captured enemy soldiers with the dignity and respect accorded to honorable prisoners of war: accounting for them, keeping them safe, allowing the International Committee of the Red Cross access to ensure their proper treatment.
Al Qaeda tortures and slaughters them.

War critics who use any form of moral equivalency to suggest the US “asked” for Al Qaeda or its brutal and monstrous behavior, I’m sorry, are imbeciles. Morons. Or morally bankrupt themselves. Take your pick.

Moral equivalency is as oxymoronic a term as I can identify. It would be bad enough if critics who think this way actually tried to perform two way comparisons, suggesting “AQ did this because the US did this, the US did this because AQ did that.”

But they don’t even try to do so, because they are all about the US being bad and wrong, and our enemies being poor unfortunates who can’t help themselves in reacting the way they do. Rather than evil men who are lower than scum, who deserve neither sympathy nor quarter.

(Cross-posted at Milblogs)

Linked at Sneakeasy's Joint


Robust Endorsements

The Associated Press today notes the “robust endorsement from European leaders for his tough approach to nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea.” Tough talk and intimations of touch action to follow from the US towards Iran and North Korea, and the Europeans are on board. That’s of interest.

Europeans have not shown much spine in recent years. We haven’t seen them standing up to brutal dictators, voracious kleptocrats, aspiring terror states, or internal religious militias imposing Sharia law on citizens and non-citizens alike.

Commentators like Christopher Hitchens and Mark Steyn have been warning of the signs of Europe’s imminent cultural and political demise. Yet, there are recent polls that suggest European populations are beginning to develop very negative opinions about (sometimes violent and often demanding) Muslims in their midst. There are suggestions that these same populations are beginning to rethink their infatuation with the Palestinian Authority (or at least when run by Hamas rather than Arafat’s Fatah). And there are increasing indications that the good people of Europe, if not their Governments, are beginning to view radical Islamic terrorism and its adherents as the brutally evil people the Bush Administration has consistently described them to be.

Look, the Europeans -- even the French – have been comparatively rock steady when it comes to Iran seeking to enter nuclear puberty, if they have been somewhat less the worried adult when it comes to North Korea. Still, like the Democrats here in the US, European Leaders continue to watch polls for guidance on how their foreign policy stands will play with their publics. I don’t have any empirical evidence, but merely suggest by way of hypothesis that these “robust endorsements” of our European partners seems a bit 11th hour posturing. And I wouldn’t think there’s much evidence to suggest that they do so to curry favor with the US.

I think the potential palates of their curried attentions are much closer to home. Maybe they’re seeing something of an internal backlash against spineless policies, impotence in the face of direct threats, and even cultural blackmail and social intimidation. All well and good, whether Europe has the time to heal what ails it of all things militant Islamic, remains to be seen.

The political situation in the US, however, is symptomatic of somewhat different forces, where a predilection towards avoiding difficult decisions, and knee-jerk turns toward appeasement generate diverse political responses. What goes around, though, comes around, and it will be fascinating to watch the Democrats as we spin around to the beginning of our National Security dance, this time with Iran and North Korea.

(Funny that we are seeing a heating up of rhetoric and urgency –on both sides of the political divide – over the latter two legs of the supposedly mythic Axis of Evil. You’d think President Bush might have been prognostic of something when he coined the phrase for our most worrisome threats in his 2002 State of the Union Address to the Nation.)

As we walk down this road all over again, and the politics, foreign and domestic, runs its course, I can’t help but wonder.

Will the President’s political opponents say he lied about the threat? Will they say he exaggerated the threat? Will they say he acted unilaterally, without world consensus or support of a meaningful or real coalition?

Will they say they were misled into voting to approve tough action?

UPDATE: “This is the carrot. Take it.”

In its report, the AP quoted European Union (EU) President Wolfgang Schuessel at length, which in itself seems a positive development. We so often hear how isolated and shunned is this President of ours, so out of touch and in conflict with erstwhile allies in Europe.

Yet, here’s Schuessel on the matter of negotiations with Iran:
The summit host, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel — whose country holds the rotating presidency of the 25-nation EU — said it's best for Iran to agree to the proposal as soon as possible. "This is the carrot. Take it," Schuessel said.

On North Korea, Schuessel agreed with Bush that the communist country faces further isolation from the international community if it test fires a long-range missile believed capable of reaching U.S. soil.

"It should make people nervous when non-transparent regimes who have announced they have nuclear warheads, fire missiles," Bush said. "This is not the way you conduct business in the world."

Schuessel said Europe would support the U.S. against North Korea if it test fires the missile.

"If that happens, there will be a strong statement and a strong answer from the international community. And Europe will be part of it. There's no doubt," said Schuessel, who appeared with Bush and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to address reporters.
And this, on Bush and how a majority of Europeans see Bush as the biggest threat to world peace:
"I think it's grotesque to say that America is a threat to the peace in the world compared with North Korea, Iran, a lot of countries," Schuessel said, adding that it was Bush who raised Guantanamo and other thorny issues.

"He came up, and he said, `Look, this is my problem. This is where we are,'" Schuessel said. "And I think we should be fair from the other side of the Atlantic. We should understand what Sept. 11 meant to the American people."

Remember this when Democrats remind us how much the world hates and fears us. Not everyone. And not anyone who can think logically, rather than paint grotesque caricatures of the US and our President.

(Cross-Posted at Milblogs.)

Linked at Mudville Gazette, bRight & Early, Basil's Blog, Cao's Blog, Jo's Cafe

UPDATE #2: This AP story by Jennifer Loven has been rewritten, with a change in lede, change in tone, and elimination of some of the “robust endorsements” made by EU President Schuessel. Now, the President won “solid European support” for our efforts, but there’s more ominous references to the danger of surrendering our values: “democracy, rule of law, individual rights.”

Here’s how the story is framed now:

President Bush won solid European support Wednesday for his handling of escalating nuclear crises with North Korea and Iran but was challenged over the Iraq war, the U.S. prison camp in Cuba and rising anti-American sentiment.

"That's absurd," Bush snapped at a news conference in response to an assertion that the United States was regarded as the biggest threat to global security. "We'll defend ourselves but at the same time we're actively working with our partners to spread peace and democracy.

Unbidden, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel rose with an impassioned defense that seemed even to surprise the president.

"I think it's grotesque to say that America is a threat to the peace in the world compared with North Korea, Iran, a lot of countries," Schuessel said. Europe would not enjoy peace and prosperity if not for U.S. help after World War II, he said.

"We should be fair from the other side of the Atlantic," Schuessel said. "We should understand what September 11th meant to the American people."

But the chancellor also prodded Bush.

"We can only have a victory in the fight against terror if we don't undermine our common values," Schuessel said. "It can never be a victory, a credible victory over terrorists if we give up our values: democracy, rule of law, individual rights."
Subtle, but a distinct change in tone. You can almost imagine the editors at AP laying into Loven: “Kill all that ‘robust endorsement’ crap. What else did he say abut Guantanamo?”

More commentary at Blackfive.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Unreported Iraq News

Michael Ledeen posting at The Corner compiles some news from Iraq otherwise unreported by mainstream news media.

I am sure we can expect a veritable news tornado over these shocking details:

Several women and children were present at the raid sites, officials said. None was harmed, and all were returned to their homes once the troops ensured the area was secure, they added.

All of us I'm sure can understand how major news media might hesitate to report these other details out of the report from the Multinational Force Iraq news releases:

Coalition forces in Iraq killed 15 terrorists and detained six other suspects and a senior terrorist leader during raids yesterday and today near Baqubah, military officials reported today.

Arriving to a planned raid today, coalition forces came under immediate small-arms fire from a rooftop, officials said. The ground force returned fire, killing nine armed terrorists on the rooftop, and supporting fire from coalition aircraft killed two more armed terrorists firing on coalition forces from beside the building.

Following this initial contact, officials said, coalition forces found 10 AK-47 assault rifles, a shotgun, a pistol and a crate of explosives.

One supporting aircraft was damaged when it hit utility wires during the engagement, and was forced to make a controlled landing. There were no injuries to the crew and the ground force immediately secured the site, officials said. Supporting fire from another coalition aircraft killed three armed suspects as they attempted to attack the downed aircraft.

After securing the aircraft, coalition forces moved to assault the building that several terrorists had fled to following the first contact. A coalition sniper killed one terrorist as he attempted to engage the troops from the nearby rooftop.

The force cleared the buildings, detaining three terrorists who were found hiding among nine women. None of the women was injured. One detained terrorist was wounded at the initial target building after he engaged coalition forces, officials said.

Officials said the suspected senior al Qaeda in Iraq member captured in yesterday's raid is known to be involved in facilitating foreign terrorists throughout central Iraq, and is suspected of having ties to previous attacks on coalition and Iraqi forces. Troops found an AK-47 with several magazines of ammunition and destroyed them all on site.

Sure, we all can see how <em><strong>none of that is news</strong></em>.

But when there's a completely gratuitous reference to US military deferential and protective treatment of women and children, why that's not only NOT part of "all the news that's fit to print," that's "all the news that's fit to suppress."

As only our objective, non-biased, and citizen of the world media can provide...

(Cross-posted at Milblogs.)

Monday, June 19, 2006


Secretary Rice and the Southern Baptists

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice recently visited the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Annual Meeting and there delivered an excellent speech, If Not America, Who?

Secretary Rice is a highly intelligent, charismatic, and articulate spokesperson for America, and American principles and traditions of liberty and democracy. That she’s one of the primary architects of National Security policies and programs, and a leading defender of our efforts in Iraq and the Middle East, makes her’s an important voice in Washington.

Full disclosure: I signed on early to the “Draft Condi in ’08” campaign.

In her speech, Secretary Rice perfectly articulates the principle behind President Bush’s muscular advancement of Democracy in the Middle East:

America will lead...America will lead the cause of freedom in our world, not because we think ourselves perfect. To the contrary, we cherish democracy and champion its ideals because we know ourselves to be imperfect.

Read the whole thing.

Interestingly, the occasion of Secretary Rice’s visit to the SBC Annual Meeting coincided with what has been described as an upset election of a new SBC President, Pastor Frank Page of Taylors, South Carolina.

As reported here, President Page won election in an upset over several, power-broker preferred candidates:

In a major upset, outsider Frank Page of South Carolina was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention over two candidates closely tied to the SBC's conservative power structure.

Page, who described his election as a victory for grassroots Baptists, was elected with 50.48 percent of the vote on a first ballot against Arkansas pastor Ronnie Floyd and Tennessee pastor Jerry Sutton, both high-profile leaders in the conservative-dominated SBC.

Sutton, pastor of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., received 2,168 votes, or 24.08 percent. Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church of Springdale, Ark., received 2,247 votes, or 24.95 percent. Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., received 4,546 votes -- a mere 65 more than necessary for a first-ballot victory.

Page's election signaled a defeat for the SBC's conservative powerbrokers, who have hand-picked all but one president since 1979. Only Orlando pastor Jim Henry, elected in 1994 and 1995, lacked the endorsement of the SBC's conservative leaders.

More full disclosure: Mrs. Dadmanly and I attend a local Southern Baptist church, although we maintain that we are ostensibly non-denominational, and believe that, in Jesus, as He himself said, there is but one church. But we believe we benefit by going to church somewhere, so…

The linked article quotes Page:

After his election, Page, 53, said he would seek to create a more open Southern Baptist Convention, but added: "I'm not trying to undo a conservative movement that I have supported all these years." He said he would continue the trend of appointing leaders who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible but who also have "a sweet spirit."

"I'm an inerrantist -- I believe in the word of God -- I'm just not mad about it," Page said in a post-election news conference.

Close enough to what I’d like to see myself amongst Christian Communities – more adherence to the timeless truths of God’s word (as reflected in the Bible), and a “sweetness of spirit” in dealing with strongly held convictions on the part of people, who disagree, sometimes strongly and with great passion, but should be able to accept some shared vision for common purposes, for His Kingdom.

Interesting that Secretary Rice stops by. She’s one of those people with a sweetness of spirit that comes to mind, despite however else she can be tough as nails when representing US Foreign Policy.

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