Sunday, July 30, 2006

New Blog Site: "The Middle East"

In an effort to understand what is happening in The Middle East, I have started a new and separate web log, which is a compendium of news and commentary from various sources.

My motivation is that I support the ability of any country to exist in peace, including Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and to counter any threats to that peace. In that light, the preponderance of news items referred to on The Middle East blog will be pro-Israel and pro-US, but not all.

I hope the blog can be educational, especially to those who disagree with me.
For those who do disagree with me, I welcome your suggestions as to news and commentary web sites that provide an alternative opinion regarding The Middle East. I hope this process will be educational to me as well.

Friday, July 28, 2006

What's Happening in Fallujah?

You don't hear much on the news about Fallujah anymore. That's because it's pretty peaceful there.

Between November 2005 and March 2006 I manned an obsveration post hilltop that was about 20 miles from Fallujah. Occasionally we would set up traffic checkpoints on the road near the OP. We tried to get a sense of how things were going for the people, how they were being treated by American soldiers and marines, and whether they had any information that could lead to the capture of insurgents who placed roadside bombs in the area, which captures would make the roads safer for Iraqi civilians and the American military alike.

The most memorable visit we had at one of these checkpoints was with a family from Fallujah. I asked them (through my interpreter, although I understand some Arabic) how the US Military had treated them there, and how things were going in their city now. I'll never forget his answer. The thing that had bothered them from time to time is the perceived arrogance of some of the younger soldiers and marines, but as a general rule that had been treated well. Then he pulled himself up to his full height as if to emphasize the importance of his next comment "In all my life, Fallujah has never been so good." He explained how the criminal element over the years had always had the upper hand in Fallujah, but now it seemed like there was beginning to be more freedom there. He thanked me for our presence in their country, "for helping us to make a better country." The heads of several of his family members nodded in agreement.

In the area of Fallujah, which includes Habbaniyah (where I was stationed for a time) and Khalidiyah, the United States military is taking a decidely less visible presence. This is because there are so many trained Iraqi soldiers who are trying to make their country a better place. They often still have trainer/supervisors from the US military, but the continue to improve their tactics and their ability to keep the peace.

Roger Mullis, a Marine currently serving in Fallujah, has this to say about a recent Fallujah City Council meeting he attended:
it’s not that they aren’t grateful to the Marines for ridding Fallujah of the insurgents, because they are, and they say so at this meeting…they know what sacrifices have been made here. But they are also very stoic. They want their independence back, without the Marines. They just seem to need some help getting back on their feet.

(7/28/2006 2:17 PM MDT) Still more to come. Stay tuned for updates on this post...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cease Fire in the Middle East!

It sure would be nice if the United States and Israel would agree to a cease-fire in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon. Then there would be no more hostilities in the entire region, right? Wrong. Cease fires in the Middle East come a dime a dozen, and are always broken.

"[T]here have been more cease-fires in the Middle East than anywhere else. If cease-fires actually promoted peace, the Middle East would be the most peaceful region on the face of the earth instead of the most violent." —Thomas Sowell

Yasser Arafat was the king of cease-fire violation. If you click on the image associated with this post, you will see Arafat stating "We are implementing the cease fire." To his left, the translator says "We are temporarily out of ammo and need time to reload." Why would Israel suddenly begin trusting either Hamas or Hizballah, who have been working hand in glove with the PLO since Arafat was in his prime?

If the United States had any trust that the terrorist insurgency would allow the democratic process to continue in Iraq if they left, the US would agree to a cease fire in a heartbeat. Everyone knows that with a cease fire the opposite would happen, because you can't trust the terrorist insurgency. Even the Sunnis have realized that it is in their best interest for the American military to stay in Iraq.

If Israel had any trust that the Hizballah terrorists would stop threatening the Lebanese, would stop making incursions into Israel, and would stop launching rockets into Israel with reckless abandon, Israel would agree to a cease fire immediately.
Everyone knows that with a cease fire the opposite would happen, because you can't trust the terrorist Hizballah. Most Lebanese, despite their frustration with the currently Israeli action, know that Hizballah cannot be trusted.

Hizballah would love a cease fire, because they are getting their butts handed to them. Israel is discovering a lot about how Hizballah has been financed and in other ways aided by Syria and Iran by the Iranian soldiers they have killed, and by the bunker complexes, built with Syrian and Iranian aid, that they have conquered.

I'll bet Iran wants a cease fire as well. Actually, they've already asked for one. So they can reload their nukes.

For those that sincerely believe that Israel has acted in Lebanon with disproportionality, do you think that Hizballah and their puppet masters would abide by a cease fire this time?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Deliberate Endangerment of Civilians

The rules of war appear to be changing, or at the least, lunatic Islamic terrorists don't care to follow them. Whether in Iraq or Lebanon, it's all the same. The terrorists deliberately put civilians in danger with their wanton and careless tactics.

Earlier today, a US patrol came under fire from the rooftops of an Iraqi neighborhood. In attempting to get the situation under control, US troops killed "two women and a young girl", according to an Associated Press report.

The US military spokesman said regarding the incident:

"We regret that civilians are hurt or killed while coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism...Terrorists continue to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by their actions and presence."

Some who read these words may scoff and think them trite, but it is very important to understand (a) that they are true, and (b) why it is important to understand that they are true.

Juan Cole's blog, Informed Comment blog looks at the carnage occurring in southern Lebanon and comes to the apparent conclusion that it is the fault of the Israelis. I disagree. In response to his post of July 21st, 2006, here are the comments I posted to his website:

It's interesting to observe the two political camps: One looks at Israel and says they have no right to bomb southern Lebanon, and the other says that if Lebanon would get rid of a pack of bloodthirsty terrorists from their midst, then Israel wouldn't be forced to defend themselves all the time.

I subscribe to the views of the second camp, and so far, I have not seen anything that convinces me otherwise. Israel is perfectly justified to root out Hizballah (more aptly would they be named Hizbshaitan [Arabic for the 'political' party of Satan]) from southern Lebanon, especially after granting the gigantic concession of the Gaza, which has done nothing more than give the Hizballah terrorists another lie to tell and a closer base of operations from which to attack, murder, and kidnap Palestinian Israelis.

It is extremely sad that the everyday Lebanese are caught in the middle of the fighting, but I cannot understand how anyone could put the blame for that on anyone except the Hizballah terrorists.

If I am missing something, please educate me.

As did the government of Saddam during Operation Desert Storm, so do the Iraqi terrorist insurgents, and so do the Hizballah terrorists in Lebanon. As an example, Saddam made great 'political hay' when an American Tomahawk missle destroyed much of an apartment building in Baghdad, killing several innocent civilians. What got reported, much later and much less forthrightly, was that the missile was targeting an Iraqi command post, which Saddam had intentionally put in the same building as the civilian apartments.

Similarly, Hizballah has insinuated itself so tightly into the southern Lebanese society that retaliation by Israelis against Hizballah's terrorist attacks will no doubt cause civilian casualties, as it already has.

Similarly, Iraqi terrorists use the civilian populace as a cloak from which to attack US and Coalition forces.

The question is, how can someone blame the Americans when terrorists in Iraq use civilian neighborhoods as a shield from which to commit heinous acts against American peacekeepers? And how can someone blame the Israelis when Hizballah deliberately endangers civilians around Hizballah's Lebanese training bases and weapons storage areas, when they know those bases and storage areas will be a target of Israeli retaliation?

In a very few instances (albeit admittedly too many) the Americans in Iraq have committed atrocities. I'm sure that Israel will commit some in Lebanon as well. But three points are crucial here: (1) Hizballah and Iraqi terrorists commit atrocities practically EVERY DAY, (2) Israel's and the United States' militaries' reasons for being where they are is not to cause mayhem (and they feel genuinely saddened when civilian loss of life occurs, ESPECIALLY when committed in rare cases wantonly by their own members), but to protect and/or establish freedom and peace, where fewer armies will be required in the future, and (3) the purpose of the terrorists in both Iraq and Lebanon is to either wantonly kill or endanger civilian life every chance they get and then to use subsequent civilian casualties as propaganda against the peace process, a propaganda that is all to easily consumed by a weak-minded, gullible media.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Similarities Between Iraq and Lebanon

The similarities between what's going on in Iraq and Lebanon are rather striking. Israel will stay the course until it is no longer threatened with extinction. Do we Americans have the guts to stay the course?

Iraqis are very interested in what's going on in Lebanon right now. Why? Because it's the same thing that's happening in their country. Of course there are differences between the histories of how both countries got to this point, but both conflicts digest down to one concept. Israel and America support increased liberty around the globe, while Islamic fundamentalists

Iraq the Model explains the similarities between the conflicts and why they are so interesting:
  • A weak government is having a hard time standing up to a lawless 'militia'.
  • The everday citizens are the ones that suffer, this is the fault of the insurgency, and they couldn't care less.
  • The predominant powers in both countries (US and Israel) are having a difficult time restoring order.
  • Iran is involved up to its neck in both conflicts. It may have overstreched itself this time...
  • The terrorists will stop at no provocation to continue to stoke the fires of conflagration in the Middle East--until they come to power.
Charles Krauthammer writes how almost everyone besides Iran, Syria, and Hizballah think they have overstepped their bounds this time.
Every important party in the region and in the world, except the radical Islamists in Tehran and their clients in Damascus, wants Hezbollah disarmed and removed from south Lebanon so that it is no longer able to destabilize the peace of both Lebanon and the broader Middle East.
FreeIraqi, from Baghdad, sees the conflict against Iran, Syria, and their terrorist minions as the only way to lasting peace and liberty for the people of Iraq and Lebanon, and even for the oppressed people of Iran and Syria.

Caroline Glick makes the following very clear statement about Iran's intentions:

Iran's proxy war against Israel follows the same strategy as its proxy war against the US in Iraq. In both cases its goal is to defeat its enemies through a prolonged war of attrition that will defeat the will of the Israeli and American people to fight to victory.
Regarding Israel, Thomas Sowell writes (and it is just as germaine to Iraq):

There is no concession that will bring lasting peace to the Middle East because the terrorists and their supporters are not going to be satisfied by concessions. The only thing that will satisfy them is the destruction of Israel.

IraqTheModel sees the solution as equally clear cut:

The hesitation of the international community can be so dangerous and the intentions of the axis of terror are so clear. That's why firm and resolute measures have to be undertaken against Syria and Iran who are directly responsible for the mess in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.
I agree.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Blame America? Try Again.

A series of bombs rocked India recently, killing at least 200. The reason? Because of the American occupation of India. If the American military would just leave India there would be no more of these bombings. Wait, wrong country...

It has been claimed by many bloggers, as well as people posing as American reporters, that the violence in Iraq would be gone if America would just leave. In reality the truth is much more complex than the soundbites we are so apt to latch on to. The fact that mayhem and destruction by Islamic lunatics occur in places other than Iraq belies the claim that America is to blame for the violence in Iraq.

A web site I noticed claims that the American military is responsible for at least 39,000 Iraqi deaths. When you drill down into the events that are blamed on America, they very frequently deal with Sunnis killing Shia' and Shia' exacting retribution. No one said that web sites had to tell the truth, but it sure would be nice.

The recent killings in India, as well as forays by the Iran-sponsored Hizbshaitan (formerly known as Hizballah, the party of God) illustrate clearly that if the United States leaves Iraq (and similarly if Israel gives up Gaza) Islamic lunatics will not quit until either a report comes down from heaven that all the virgins are gone, or everyone is Muslim.

Thomas Friedman, one of the few bright spots at the New York Times has this to say about what's going on in the Middle East:

What we are seeing in Iraq, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon is an effort by Islamist parties to use elections to pursue their long-term aim of Islamizing the Arab-Muslim world. This is not a conflict about Palestinian or Lebanese prisoners in Israel. This is a power struggle within Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq over who will call the shots in their newly elected "democratic" governments and whether they will be real democracies.

The tiny militant wing of Hamas today is pulling all the strings of Palestinian politics, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Shiite Islamic party is doing the same in Lebanon, even though it is a small minority in the cabinet, and so, too, are the Iranian-backed Shiite parties and militias in Iraq. They are not only showing who is boss inside each new democracy, but they are also competing with one another for regional influence.

As a result, the post-9/11 democracy experiment in the Arab-Muslim world is being hijacked.

It's not as simple as 'America go home and everything will get better.' Things are admittedly terrible in Iraq (and Palestine and Lebanon) right now. But with no stabilizing influence whatsover, or at least the stabilizing influence dramatically reduced to the point of no longer being able to hold up the dam against terrorism, Iraq will become infinitely worse off.

In the short run and the long run.

America has made mistakes with regard to the fostering of liberty in Iraq, especially in thinking that people steeped in slavery, fear, and feelings of revenge would suddenly know what to do with liberty. But let's not make another mistake by leaving Iraq too soon.

Friday, July 07, 2006

"Useful Idiots" Make Great Saboteurs

For a time I thought that the media's disingenuous reporting on Iraq was mainly because of liberals' implacable hatred for George W. Bush. Although I still believe this hatred to be real, I have come to realize that the media have practiced the art of disingenuity and America hatred for nearly as long as the current United States president has been alive. And this understanding has further increased my confidence, that despite the slow process, abetted by treason in our midst, we can still win the battle for liberty in Iraq.

Do the American news media report inaccurately about Iraq because they hate George W. Bush? Generally, yes. Do they report disingenously because they hate the Republican party? Generally, yes. Do they do so because they harbor a hatred of America? Generally, yes. It would be inaccurate to say, however, that these feelings of hatred for our president, his party, and our country are recent occurrences. In fact, liberals of every stripe--political, news reportage, and hollywood entertainer--have despised the moral absolutes espoused by America for a lot longer than that.

This concept became clear to me when I recently began reading the book Useful Idiots by Mona Charen. The same sentiments, the same dismay at American success, and the same indigestion experienced by liberals now as they watch Iraq move closer to freedom were exhibited in a similar manner as we fought in and returned from Viet Nam, and as the Ursulan behemoth formerly known as the Soviet Union imploded and hundreds of thousands of her minions escaped her evil clutches to enjoy the light of a new day.

It is offensive to a moral relativist to contrast something good with something evil. In the mind of the average American, the Soviet Union was a patently wicked fraud, and it was with great joy that we watched her collapse from the heights of seeming invincibility. But to the average liberal, the collapse of the beast was both a day of sadness and a day of backpedaling. Sadness, because it proved all of their personally-held theories wrong, and backpedaling, because they didn't want to be on the doofus side of history. Liberals continue their role as Useful Idiots for evil as they still struggle with these two addictions 20 years later.

The liberal backlash began during the Vietnam war. Likely the watershed event of the turnabout, the Tet Offensive became known--incorrectly--as an American defeat. Despite the loss of thousands of Communist Vietnamese in the offensive, Walter Cronkite and others of his politically puny stature somehow convinced most Americans that the North Vietnamese had won. Protests against President Nixon, mainly on college campuses, were strident until 1973, when Nixon declared the military draft ended, and college students no longer felt worried that they might have to serve their country.

During this time, our position in the world, especially vis a vis the Soviet Union, looked very bleak. The words "containment", "detente", and "peaceful cooexistence" were foisted by liberals into our social vocabulary.

As soon as we came home from Nam, the focus began to shift to the "invincible" Soviet Union. Liberals of every stripe found something positive (and overlooked the daunting negatives) of every Soviet leader from Brezhnev to Gorbachev. Ted Turner ejaculated that "Gorbachev has ...moved faster than any person in the history of the world. Moving faster that Jesus Christ did." CNN's Stuart Loory laughably reported that "the [Soviet] people have been truly converted" to Communism. Some even gushed that Gorbachev had a "blueprint for saving the planet" despite the gargantuan damage Communism had caused to the environment. (Charen, Useful Idiots, pp. 111-119)

On top of all this, when Ronald Reagan became president of the United States, the news media, all democracts, and even some republicans were very embarrassed that he had won, and became enraged when he challenged the Soviet Union with such statements as

  • "the only morality [Communists] recognize is what will further their cause, meaning they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat." (Interestingly, the same could be said of Saddam Hussein, the insurgency, Osama Bin Laden, and the late, late, late Father Mousab al Zarqawi.)
  • "the Soviet Union runs against the tide of history by denying human freedom and human dignity to its citizens. It is also in deep economic difficulty." (Deja vu! Liberals today are so invested in the same theory of America-is-bad that they almost completely ignored documentation found with Zarqawi's body that admitted similar difficulties that the terrorist insurgency is facing.
It is somewhat miraculous to contemplate that the United States, despite odds equivalent to a basketball game where one team has five players and the other has 1,000, observed the downfall of the Soviet Union rather than vice versa. The great Soviet fall onto the ash heap of history was very slow in coming because at every turn, another American traitor was abetting the enemy and criticizing the United States for attempting to turn back the tide of despotism and debauchery around the globe.

Funny I should have mentioned that. The great fall of the post-Saddam insurgency is taking much longer than it should as well, and for chiefly the very same reason. Lazy amorality has convinced liberals that it would be mean to share liberty with other people.

They are once and again Useful Idiots for the freedom-destroyers. And just like forty years ago, Useful Idiots make great saboteurs.