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Power User
Posts: 42496

« Reply #400 on: February 09, 2007, 08:07:56 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: Russia as the U.S.-Iranian Mediator?

Former Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, reportedly to deliver a message from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Velayati, a former chief diplomat, has not embarked on a diplomatic mission in years; bilateral meetings of such a nature are usually handled by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki or national security chief Ali Larijani.

Velayati has a close relationship with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that goes back to 1981, when Khamenei was president and Velayati became foreign minister. Though Khamenei initially appointed him as prime minister, Velayati failed to secure parliamentary approval. But for the past several years, Velayati has been Khamenei's adviser on international affairs.

Velayati's sudden return to the diplomatic arena, especially when U.S.-Iranian dealings over Iraq are reaching an impasse, is a sign that Khamenei has decided to directly take over foreign policy matters. It also means the executive branch has been asked to confine itself to the more mundane matters of governance.

This is why it is Velayati who has been dispatched on a special mission involving Russia. Moscow has been able to mediate between the United States and Iran -- a role the Kremlin thinks will help it to advance its own interests. The Russians have offered to help the United States get out of Iraq if Washington cuts back in its support of anti-Moscow elements in Ukraine. Such mediating also gives Russia an enormous amount of international clout.

Aware that the Iraq issue cannot be solved without Iranian help, and knowing that directly dealing with Tehran is not something that will sit well domestically for the Bush administration, Washington has likely taken Russia up on the offer. That said, there is another critical issue that weighs heavily in the U.S. decision to accept Russia as a go-between -- Moscow has recently sold the TOR-M1 anti-aircraft missile system to Iran.

Tehran and the Kremlin are also negotiating the sale of the Russian S300 missile. This is something the United States does not want to see realized because these missiles would make it difficult for U.S. warplanes to conduct airstrikes against Iran, should Washington ever take the military option in dealing with Iran.

The Iranians have been preparing for negotiations with the United States for quite some time, but since they are having difficulty in getting Washington to cooperate, Tehran is only too happy to see Russia help out; but the Iranians have not only been working with Russia.

Earlier this week during a visit to Iran, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, the head of Iraq's ruling Shiite coalition, said U.S.-Iranian dialogue on Iraq is critical. It should be noted that al-Hakim is not just the most pro-Iranian of all Iraqi Shiite leaders, he also is Washington's closest Iraqi Shiite partner.

The Iranians also have been working with their rivals. In January Tehran began significant negotiations with the Saudis and even reportedly sought Riyadh's assistance in getting the Bush administration to the negotiating table. Saudi national security chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan visited Tehran a few days after Larijani traveled to Riyadh.

Larijani, who also reports directly to Khamenei, will attend the Munich Conference on Security Policy on Feb. 9-11 in Germany. World leaders including Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will also be in attendance. Larijani said Thursday that he will be holding talks with several Western officials. Since Gates dealt with the Iranians during the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s and also was involved in the Iraq Study Group that recommended that Washington approach Iran diplomatically on Iraq, a Gates-Larijani discussion on the sidelines of the conference is not out of the question, though it likely would be through middlemen.

Regardless of what happens in Munich, it appears as though a serious and complex diplomatic game involving the United States and Iran is under way.
Power User
Posts: 229

« Reply #401 on: February 26, 2007, 01:53:38 PM »

From a post of mine on the "help our troops/our cause" thread, posted here at Crafty's request.

Perhaps Marc can also explain why these questions are inappropriate for that thread while characterizing war opposition as cowardice and treason appratently is.

I'll agree that the use of the legal term "treason" is over the top, but IMHO as our troops, who have strong re-enlistment rates, are finally being unleashed to apply a different approach,

Can you elaborate on what exactly this "different approach" is?

that the actions of the Democratic majority are for the most part despicable.

Didn't voters put the Democrats in charge precisely because they wanted the war brought to an end regardless of whether or not we win?  Before the election, just about every poll was showing a clear majority in favor of withdrawing some or all of the troops from Iraq.

They are telling the enemy AND those who would be our friends, to just wait it out a few months and we will be gone.  This dramatically reduces the chance of success of the mission for which our troops fight.

I understand that the troops would prefer that the war end with a US victory, but wars have never been about what the troops want or how they feel about the political decisions that are made.  And frankly, I'm not convinced that most of the military itself is as gung-ho about fighting the war as you and other war supporters think.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #402 on: February 26, 2007, 08:31:44 PM »


What's the upside of handing Iran and Al Qaeda a victory? Perhaps there is something good about cutting and running I don't understand.
Power User
Posts: 42496

« Reply #403 on: February 26, 2007, 09:24:03 PM »


C'mon Rog!  You may have a way of looking at things that I think is quite off-kilter is many regards, but you are not a stupid guy-- so please don't pretend you don't know what the different approach is.

As for the meaning of the Democrats taking majority position in the Congress, apart from the role of various corruption scandals I would submit that in most cases the Dems offered absolutely nothing as to what they would do.  They simply criticized President Bush and Sec'y Rumbo.  In that there is plenty there to criticize, the people voted to express discontent with the way things were going.

Would someone refresh my memory as to when the President began discussing the "surge"?  (What an inept name for it, but I digress , , ,)  IIRC Bush proposed it AFTER the election.  IOW it was not part on the table for the election-- yet another inept Bush step.

We have troops on the field of a very difficult battle and I do find it despicable that the Congressional Democrats let our enemies know that all they have to do is sit it out for a few months-- all the more so when so many of them during the summer were criticizing the President for not having enough troops to do the job! 

I suspect I am in touch with more men with their boots on the ground in Iraq than you.  I agree that there is some discontent-- but I find that most of it is with having their hands tied, not shutting the borders with Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc not going after Mookie Sadr, the firing of the Iraqi Army, and things of that sort-- all of which cut against the point you seek to make.

Of course in America the President, a civilian, is the Commander in Chief-- but given that there are something like only a handful of  reporters outside of the Emerald City it seems to me that we would want to get the troops sense of things --without drawing them into domestic politics.  By the way, anyone who wants to read from someone who IS on the ground in the sh*t, I highly recommend Michael Yon's blog-- see the thread nearby


Power User
Posts: 229

« Reply #404 on: February 27, 2007, 05:35:04 PM »

C'mon Rog!  You may have a way of looking at things that I think is quite off-kilter is many regards, but you are not a stupid guy-- so please don't pretend you don't know what the different approach is.

As far as I can see, the "different approach" is to terrorize the Iraqi population into not supporting the insurgents, grant US forces virtual immunity from prosecution for any war crimes, and as best as possible keep any negative reporting on our actions in Iraq from making it into the news.  Does that more or less sum it up?  Let's the quit the pussy-footing around about this.

We have troops on the field of a very difficult battle and I do find it despicable that the Congressional Democrats let our enemies know that all they have to do is sit it out for a few months

I'm not sure how any meaningful discussion of withdrawing troops or ending the war is supposed to take place without the enemy somehow hearing about it.  It sounds like you're saying the discussion shouldn't take place, or that if it must take place then we have a patriotic duty to dismiss and ridicule anti-war views so the enemy doesn't get the idea that any of us take them seriously.  Please clarify if I'm misrepresenting your position.

I suspect I am in touch with more men with their boots on the ground in Iraq than you.  I agree that there is some discontent-- but I find that most of it is with having their hands tied, not shutting the borders with Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc not going after Mookie Sadr, the firing of the Iraqi Army, and things of that sort-- all of which cut against the point you seek to make.

Of course in America the President, a civilian, is the Commander in Chief-- but given that there are something like only a handful of  reporters outside of the Emerald City it seems to me that we would want to get the troops sense of things --without drawing them into domestic politics.

I suppose, but even if it were somehow possible to accurately determine a single prevailing view amongst the troops of whether or not we should remain in the war, I don't see how it would be relevant in terms of making this decision.  Would you be OK with "cut and run" if it turned out this was what the troops overwhelmingly agreed should happen?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #405 on: February 27, 2007, 08:54:45 PM »

"As far as I can see, the "different approach" is to terrorize the Iraqi population into not supporting the insurgents, grant US forces virtual immunity from prosecution for any war crimes, and as best as possible keep any negative reporting on our actions in Iraq from making it into the news.  Does that more or less sum it up?  Let's the quit the pussy-footing around about this."

**Ah yes, the US military is evil. Glad to see we've gotten to the heart of the matter. It must be tough to be one of the few decent, ethical people to live in the malevolent US, Rogt.**

"I'm not sure how any meaningful discussion of withdrawing troops or ending the war is supposed to take place without the enemy somehow hearing about it.  It sounds like you're saying the discussion shouldn't take place, or that if it must take place then we have a patriotic duty to dismiss and ridicule anti-war views so the enemy doesn't get the idea that any of us take them seriously.  Please clarify if I'm misrepresenting your position."

**Giving aid and comfort to America's enemies was once taboo, thankfully the left now holds it to be a birthright.

As Ayman al-Zawahiri said "These traitors in Iraq and Afghanistan must face their inevitable fate, and face up to the inescapable facts. America - which was transformed from the “Great Satan” into the “Closest Ally” - is about to depart and abandon them, just as it abandoned their like in Vietnam."

Just like Vietnam, the "peace movement" can deliver those who aspired towards freedom into torture, oppression and mass graves. Hey, if it harms America, it's got to be for the greater global good, right?**

Power User
Posts: 229

« Reply #406 on: February 27, 2007, 09:26:38 PM »

Woof GM,

I'll take your comments as agreement that my description of the "different approach" is accurate.

Are you interested in an actual discussion here, or is it just going to be more blather about how "the left" is a bunch of cowards and traitors?

Power User
Posts: 42496

« Reply #407 on: February 27, 2007, 09:39:52 PM »

First, a gentle leash yank:  Rog, GM, lets make that extra special effort that distinguishes this forum to speak to each other as if we were breaking bread together.

Returning now to the subject at hand.

"As far as I can see, the "different approach" is to terrorize the Iraqi population into not supporting the insurgents, grant US forces virtual immunity from prosecution for any war crimes, and as best as possible keep any negative reporting on our actions in Iraq from making it into the news.  Does that more or less sum it up?  Let's the quit the pussy-footing around about this."

Our planes of reality do not sufficiently overlap to make conversation here productive.

""I'm not sure how any meaningful discussion of withdrawing troops or ending the war is supposed to take place without the enemy somehow hearing about it.  It sounds like you're saying the discussion shouldn't take place, or that if it must take place then we have a patriotic duty to dismiss and ridicule anti-war views so the enemy doesn't get the idea that any of us take them seriously.  Please clarify if I'm misrepresenting your position.""

I agree the point is a difficult one.  What irks me greatly is that a goodly portion of the Democratic Party seems not to consider in the slightest amount the costs in human lives of our troops of the things it says in the search for political advantage and the complete lack of sincerity of so many of them.  For example, all summer long during the campaign many Dems ragged Bush for not having sufficient troops to do the job-- then when he proposes increasing the troops, without batting an Orwellian eyelash they reverse direction and vote against more troops even while funding them.  WTF?  They are telling the enemy to wait us out even as President Bush and Gen. Petraeus (seemingly quite well qualified for the job) are trying a new and different approach.  This is vile and is but one example of the sort of thing which really gets me seething.

I distinguish this from someone who consistently says "I think this is a mistake and that we should come home."

As for the relevance of the troops views, those of them who interact with the people and with the enemy have more and better real time intel than the Barbie Doll enemedia safely esconsed in the Emerald City.  If they tell me that we can do it, that carries a lot more weight with me than the NY Slimes telling me that we cannot-- especially after the NY Slimes reveals how we spy on enemy financial transactions.  Scum!  Similarly, if they were to tell me that we have blown it and that it is too late too pull off our original intention, that carries more weight with me than former Sec'y Rumbo.

Power User
Posts: 229

« Reply #408 on: February 28, 2007, 11:34:34 AM »

First, a gentle leash yank:  Rog, GM, lets make that extra special effort that distinguishes this forum to speak to each other as if we were breaking bread together.

Returning now to the subject at hand.

"As far as I can see, the "different approach" is to terrorize the Iraqi population into not supporting the insurgents, grant US forces virtual immunity from prosecution for any war crimes, and as best as possible keep any negative reporting on our actions in Iraq from making it into the news.  Does that more or less sum it up?  Let's the quit the pussy-footing around about this."

Our planes of reality do not sufficiently overlap to make conversation here productive.

Sorry, but I'm not going to let this go.  I can understand if you object to my use of the word "terrorize", but I believe the gist of my description to be more or less accurate.  If you're not willing to tell me where I'm wrong, then I have to assume you agree.

""I'm not sure how any meaningful discussion of withdrawing troops or ending the war is supposed to take place without the enemy somehow hearing about it.  It sounds like you're saying the discussion shouldn't take place, or that if it must take place then we have a patriotic duty to dismiss and ridicule anti-war views so the enemy doesn't get the idea that any of us take them seriously.  Please clarify if I'm misrepresenting your position.""

I agree the point is a difficult one.  What irks me greatly is that a goodly portion of the Democratic Party seems not to consider in the slightest amount the costs in human lives of our troops of the things it says in the search for political advantage and the complete lack of sincerity of so many of them. 

I would agree that this accurately characterizes many Democrats, but what irks me is that many right-wingers (not necessarily you) make the same accusations (cowardice, soft on national security, hate America and the troops) against Dems like Murtha who, while not exactly an anti-war poster boy, has what I think you'd agree is an honest and principled opposition to this war. 

For example, all summer long during the campaign many Dems ragged Bush for not having sufficient troops to do the job-- then when he proposes increasing the troops, without batting an Orwellian eyelash they reverse direction and vote against more troops even while funding them.  WTF?  They are telling the enemy to wait us out even as President Bush and Gen. Petraeus (seemingly quite well qualified for the job) are trying a new and different approach.  This is vile and is but one example of the sort of thing which really gets me seething.

I distinguish this from someone who consistently says "I think this is a mistake and that we should come home."

Again, no disagreement with me as to the general cowardice and spinelessness of most Democrats.  My objection is to the deliberate focus on these types in order to avoid addressing the legitimate anti-war arguments.

As for the relevance of the troops views, those of them who interact with the people and with the enemy have more and better real time intel than the Barbie Doll enemedia safely esconsed in the Emerald City.  If they tell me that we can do it, that carries a lot more weight with me than the NY Slimes telling me that we cannot

So do the troops who say we can't do it or otherwise validate anti-war arguments carry any weight with you?  I think you'll agree that within the culture of the military, it's a lot easier to be pro-war than anti-war.  Not to mention what the right-wing media will say about any soldier who expresses an anti-war view or calls attention to crimes being committed by his fellow soldiers.
Power User
Posts: 42496

« Reply #409 on: March 02, 2007, 11:34:08 PM »

*If you're not willing to tell me where I'm wrong, then I have to assume you agree.*

Rog, this is profoundly silly.  I have been interacting with you for several years on this now so you know quite well that this is not so.  As I said, there are points where our respective concepts of reality do not interface enough to make further conversation worth my time.

*Again, no disagreement with me as to the general cowardice and spinelessness of most Democrats.  My objection is to the deliberate focus on these types in order to avoid addressing the legitimate anti-war arguments.*

I think it a most fair point that these types have the effect of persuading our enemies, our would be friends and those who seek to back the strong horse that we are going to cut and run.   I really do not see any way around this.

As for avoiding the issues, again our respective realities do not interface.  The great bulk of this forum is precisely about discussing what to do!  If you want to make legitimate anti war arguments in the tone of friends breaking bread together by all means go for it.  That said, talking as if our troops are war criminals and other inflammatotry nonsense does not get respect from me.

Lastly, by leaving out this portion of what I said

*Similarly, if they were to tell me that we have blown it and that it is too late too pull off our original intention, that carries more weight with me than former Sec'y Rumbo.*

you leave out the answer to your final question.

Power User
Posts: 42496

« Reply #410 on: March 03, 2007, 01:21:49 AM »

Though technically this belongs in the Iraq thread, it continues the conversation here.


            By RALPH PETERS

             March 1, 2007 -- WITH all of the mud-sling ing on Capitol Hill,
you could almost forget the gun-slinging in Baghdad.
            As Democrats, Iraqi insurgents and terrorists all struggle to
prevent an American win, it's hard to get an accurate sense of Iraq

            When in doubt, ask a soldier.

            My best source in Baghdad offered a soberly optimistic
assessment at odds with the "Gotcha!" negativity in Washington. He doesn't
claim that success is guaranteed. But he believes in his head, heart and
soul that we've got a fighting chance.

            And I believe him.

            I took the temperature of other officers, as well. They agree
unanimously that the administration made terrible mistakes from which we and
the Iraqis are still recovering. But not one of these soldiers is ready to

            Here are the key points I've heard from those I trust:

            * Of the five additional U.S. brigades headed for Baghdad, only
one is in place, with the second starting to arrive. Yet the city is already
quieter and safer. The terrorists continue to detonate their bombs - with
suicidal fanatics targeting the innocent - but sectarian killings
(death-squad hits) have dropped from over 50 each night down to single

            * The tactic of stationing U.S. units and their Iraqi
counterparts down in the Baghdad 'hoods is already paying off. (It should
have been used from the outset - instead of hunkering down on massive bases.
But better late than never.) The effort has triggered a flood of
intelligence tips: When citizens feel safe, they cooperate. And when they
help us, our success compounds.

            * U.S. commanders now have a lot of experience in Iraq. They're
not wide-eyed kids at the circus anymore. They understand there are no
uniform, easy answers to Iraq's violence and complex allegiances. As a
senior officer put it, "Every neighborhood and city is unique, with their
own challenges."

            I'll leave it to The New York Times to betray our military
secrets, and just say I'm very impressed by the insight shown by our brigade
and battalion commanders these days.

            * We hear the bad news from the rest of Iraq, such as this
week's monstrous car bombing of children at play on a soccer field in
Ramadi, but we don't hear that such attacks by al Qaeda operatives have
infuriated mainstream Sunni sheiks and their tribes - who increasingly make
common cause with us and their government. And winning over the Sunni
"middle" is crucial to Iraq's future.

            * We'll never stop all suicide bombers and car bombers, but our
security crackdown has already taken out two major Vehicle-Borne Improvised
Explosive Device (VBIED) factories. And we took down a huge arms cache late
last week.

            * No one's getting any "Mission Accomplished" banners ready to
go, but front-line leaders in Iraq are convinced the situation just isn't as
hopeless as politicians back home insist. I don't know a single officer
in-country who believes the reporting from Iraq gives an honest, balanced

            Of course, there are serious worries:

            * Above all, senior leaders worry that, thanks to political
shenanigans back home, they won't be given the time it would take to win.
Even with improved tactics, this just isn't easy work.

            Personally, I continue to believe that 2007 is the year of
decision - when the Iraqi government and its security forces have to show
their mettle. But 2007 has barely begun. Let's not declare defeat for April
Fool's Day. The stakes are so high that Iraq merits this last chance.

            * The sectarian violence between Sunni Arabs and the Shia that
gathered strength after last year's Golden Mosque bombing has "damaged trust
between the two sects enormously," as a U.S. official put it. It's possible
that the damage is too deep to be repaired - we just don't know. At best,
reconstructing a shared national identity is going to be hard. But many
gruesome conflicts have ended in national reconciliation.

            * There's one thing we know won't work: The nutty Pelosi-crat
proposal to restrict the mission of U.S. troops to "training Iraqis and
defeating al Qaeda." Would our troops have to wait to return fire until they
checked the ID cards of their attackers? If they saw a massacre of women and
children in progress, would we want them to stand by until they received a
legal opinion as to whether the killers were bona fide foreign terrorists?

            This ain't the NFL, where everybody wears a uniform and plays by
the rules. Proposals to limit the freedom of action of our troops reflect
domestic politics at their shabbiest - and you and I know it. Our troops
need fewer restrictions, not more.

            THERE are no guarantees of success. The president's troop surge
may not be enough to make a decisive difference; in the end, Iraq may
collapse all around us. A sectarian bloodbath could be inevitable.

            But our brave men and women in uniform have new coaches and a
new playbook for Iraq. They believe they've got a reasonable chance to cross
the goal line - and they've got more at risk than a sports celebrity's

            Yes, the Iraqis have to pick up the ball - but it would be an
immoral act of strategic madness to fumble the ball on purpose.

            In the end, we may not win. But you can't win if you walk off
the field while the game's still under way. The clock may run out on hope
for Iraq. But it hasn't yet.

            Ralph Peters' latest book is "Never Quit The Fight."

Power User
Posts: 229

« Reply #411 on: March 05, 2007, 12:42:44 PM »

*If you're not willing to tell me where I'm wrong, then I have to assume you agree.*

Rog, this is profoundly silly.  I have been interacting with you for several years on this now so you know quite well that this is not so.  As I said, there are points where our respective concepts of reality do not interface enough to make further conversation worth my time.

Well, I am explicitly asking you to spell out what the "different approach" is as you see it.  Why wouldn't you be willing to discuss it?

Power User
Posts: 42496

« Reply #412 on: March 05, 2007, 08:44:18 PM »


I have been posting about this on the DBMA Ass'n forum now, often in interaction with you, since 2001 and extensively on this forum in its previous incarnation as well as its present one.    If you haven't gotten a sense of my thinking by now, I must acknowledge that my communication skills do not have what it takes for you and move on.

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #413 on: March 06, 2007, 08:56:26 AM »

Don't question the left's patriotism....
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #414 on: March 06, 2007, 10:00:11 AM »

The "Peacemakers"   
By Deborah T. Bucknam | March 6, 2007

On March 12, 1975, Democrat Rep. (now Senator and Presidential candidate) Chris Dodd from Connecticut stated on the floor of the U.S. House:

“The greatest gift our country can give the Cambodian people is not guns but peace. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now.”  The American Congress cut off all military aid to Cambodia and South Vietnam.

This is what happened one month and five days later as a result of Chris Dodd’s and other Democrats’ “gift of peace”:

On April 17th, 1975 the Khmer Rouge, a communist guerrilla group led by Pol Pot, took power in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. They forced all city dwellers into the countryside and to labor camps. During their rule, it is estimated that 2 million Cambodians died by starvation, torture or execution. 2 million Cambodians represented approximately 30% of the Cambodian population during that time.

The so-called “peace” movement today is proposing a similar “gift of peace” to Iraq.

There is no serious dispute that withdrawal of the American military from Iraq will result in an increase in torture, beheadings, drive-by shootings, car bombs.  Indeed, the increase in American troop presence in Bagdad over the last few weeks has resulted in a 70% decrease in violence in Bagdad—that means far fewer deaths of innocent men, women and children.  Yet the “peace” movement ignores this decrease in violence, and in fact continues to advocate an immediate withdrawal of American troops.

So how does the “peace” movement define peace?  The “peace” movement defines peace as no overseas military operations by American troops.

That is not a definition of peace.  Peace is the absence of political violence.  Political violence is defined by the Center for Systemic Peace as the number of deaths resulting from wars, including government violence against citizens, civil wars and insurgencies, as well as wars between nations.  By that measure, we are in an era of almost unprecedented peace.  According to the Center for Systemic Peace which has tracked world wide political violence since 1946, political violence has decreased dramatically since the end of the Cold War in the late 1980’s.  And in this decade, the world wide number of deaths as a result of political violence is only one third what it was in the “peaceful” 1990’s.

So for those who like to connect the dots, American foreign policy, including military action against thugs like the Taliban,  Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein,  has resulted in this decade in a dramatic decrease in political deaths world wide.  A new global threat to peace from Islamic extremists, which had replaced the threat to peace posed by communist insurgencies in previous decades, has been dramatically reduced by an aggressive U.S. policy against this form of political violence.

And Iraq was not a “peaceful” nation before American troops liberated its people from the grip of Saddam Hussein and his criminal enterprise.  Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iraqis were murdered by Hussein, many by the most brutal methods known to history.  Iraq, before American liberation, has been called a concentration camp above ground and a mass grave underneath.

The “peace” movement, by advocating withdrawal of American troops,  willfully disregards what is actually happening in Iraq.  They blame us, not the criminal gangs, ethnic cleansers, suicide bombers, and jihadists for the death and destruction in that country.  American troops are trying to quell the political violence in Iraq, and they will succeed if given enough time, money and support from the American people.  Quelling political violence in a country that was a concentration camp for five decades is not easy.  Withdrawing before the job is done will result in an increase in violence, as withdrawal from Southeast Asia in the 1970’s resulted in the death and destruction of millions. 

In conclusion, when peace is defined properly—the absence of political violence—the American military are the peacemakers.  And those who would leave Iraq and the Middle East to the barbarians are the genuine warmongers.
Power User
Posts: 42496

« Reply #415 on: March 08, 2007, 02:49:34 PM »


 March 8, 2007 -- IMAGINE the reaction if Western agents slaughtered a hundred Sunni pilgrims on their way to Mecca. The outrage would spark incendiary rhetoric, riots and revenge killings from Peshawar to Paris.
But when Sunni suicide bombers murdered 118 Shia pilgrims (and wounded almost 200 more) on Tuesday, Sunnis around the globe looked away: Shias only count as Muslims when America can be blamed for their suffering.

Many of those Shia victims of religious totalitarianism were traveling on foot to Karbala to honor Mohammed's grandson Hussein - who was butchered by the founders of Sunni Islam, to whom power was worth more than the Prophet's family.

The hatred goes deep.

The Sunni Arab campaign against Shias isn't just a struggle for political advantage: It reflects an impulse to genocide. And it makes a grim joke of claims of Muslim unity.

The Tuesday atrocities, followed by smaller-scale attacks on more pilgrims yesterday, were meant to be as outrageous as possible. They not only underscored the hatred Sunni extremists feel toward all Shias, but had the immediate goal of provoking Muqtada al-Sadr's Shia militia to retaliate.

The Sunni insurgents and their foreign-terrorist allies are worried. The recent effort by American and Iraqi forces to pacify Baghdad has shown early signs of success. Wary of tangling with our troops again, Sadr's Mahdi Army has been laying low, while the Sunni extremists have taken heavy losses.

The Sunnis want the Shias back in the fight.

Why? Because they want to disrupt the Baghdad security plan. Because they want to deepen the reawakened hatred between Iraq's religious communities. And because they yearn for a regional conflict that would "put Shias back in their place."

So they slaughtered more than a hundred pilgrims - men, women and children; young and old - in Allah's name.

Where was the outcry?

Human-rights groups were too busy applauding European requests for the extradition of CIA operatives (the real enemies of Western civilization, of course). Since this butchery wasn't the fault of Americans or Brits, the Europeans themselves took no interest.

American leftists, who raved that Abu Ghraib was another Auschwitz, didn't offer a single word of pity for the Muslim victims of Muslims.

All to be expected.

But shouldn't Muslims have denounced the attacks on the pilgrims? Shouldn't such an atrocity have sparked Arab anger that transcended Islam's internal divide? After all, those murdered Shias were fellow Arabs, not Persians.

Where were the public statements of sympathy by government ministers and mullahs? Where was the noble Arab media? Where are the outraged demonstrations?

Not only is Islamic unity a sham, the Middle East's hypocrisy stinks like a shallow grave. Sunnis regard Shias as Untermenschen. No Sunni government wants to see Shias receive a fair deal - in Iraq or anywhere else.

In the short term, the question is whether Shias will take the bait and retaliate against Sunni Arab civilians in Iraq. The Baghdad government is doing its best to calm the furious Shia community. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.

But the greater, long-term danger is one this column has highlighted before: The administration's rush back into the arms of the Saudis and other America-hating Sunni Arab governments is a colossal strategic mistake.

The moral issues are bad enough: To the Saudi royal family, dead Shias aren't tragedies - they're trophies. One almost expects those bloated, bigoted princes to organize Shia-hunting safaris the way they slaughter endangered species when vacationing in impoverished African countries (been there, seen that).

The strategic catastrophe that would result from a return to our wretched mistakes of the 20th century would cost us dearly. When picking allies in the Middle East, we've been on the wrong side of history for over a half-century. And now the Saudis are waging a propaganda campaign to convince American opinion-makers that they're our best pals in the whole, wide world.

It works. An honorable elder statesman I respect recently got suckered during a junket to Saudi Arabia. He left Riyadh convinced he'd been sitting down with our indispensible allies.

Well, the view I've seen with my own eyes - in dozens of Muslim and mixed-faith countries - is of Saudi money spent lavishly to divide struggling societies, to block social and educational progress for Muslims and to preach deadly hatred toward the West.

Until 9/11, the Saudis got away with their extremist filth in this country, too. And Saudi-funded mosques here still seek to prevent Muslims from integrating into American society.

The Saudis, not the Iranians, are the worst anti-American hate-mongers in the world today. When our dignitaries visit Prince Bandar and his buddies, they get the (literal) royal treatment. But in the slums of Mombasa or Cairo, in Lahore, Delhi and Istanbul, the Saudis do everything in their power to make Muslims hate us.

After the suicide attacks on those pilgrims, did any member of the Saudi royal family visit the kingdom's own oppressed Shias to express sympathy and Muslim solidarity?

Our relationship with the Saudis reminds me of the scene in the film "The Shining" when Jack Nicholson's character imagines he's embracing a beautiful woman only to open his eyes and find himself smooching a decomposing corpse. It's time for Washington's Saudi-lovers to open their eyes.

By the way: The two suicide bombers who killed those pilgrims were Saudis.

Ralph Peters' latest book is "Never Quit the Fight."

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« Reply #416 on: April 13, 2007, 03:26:51 PM »

Private Papers

April 13, 2007
The Post-west
A civilization that has become just a dream.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online

I recently had a dream that British marines fought back, like their forefathers of old, against criminals and pirates. When taken captive, they proved defiant in their silence. When released, they talked to the tabloids with restraint and dignity, and accepted no recompense.

I dreamed that a kindred German government, which best knew the wages of appeasement, cut-off all trade credits to the outlaw Iranian mullahs — even as the European Union joined the Americans in refusing commerce with this Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic, and thuggish regime.

NATO countries would then warn Iran that their next unprovoked attack on a vessel of a member nation would incite the entire alliance against them in a response that truly would be of a “disproportionate” nature.

In this apparition of mine, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, in Syria at the time, would lecture the Assad regime that there would be consequences to its serial murdering of democratic reformers in Lebanon, to fomenting war with Israel by means of its surrogates, and to sending terrorists to destroy the nascent constitutional government in Iraq.

She would add that the United States could never be friends with an illegitimate dictatorship that does its best to destroy the only three democracies in the region. And then our speaker would explain to Iran that a U.S. Congresswoman would never detour to Tehran to dialogue with a renegade government that had utterly ignored U.N. non-proliferation mandates and daily had the blood of Americans on its hands.

Fellow Democrats like John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and Harry Reid would add that, as defenders of the liberal tradition of the West, they were not about to call a retreat before extremist killers who behead and kidnap, who blow up children and threaten female reformers and religious minorities, and who have begun using poison gas, all in an effort to annihilate voices of tolerance in Iraq.

These Democrats would reiterate that they had not authorized a war to remove the psychopathic Saddam Hussein only to allow the hopeful country to be hijacked by equally vicious killers. And they would warn the world that their differences with the Bush administration, whatever they might be, pale in comparison to the shared American opposition to the efforts of al Qaeda, the Taliban, Syria, and Iran to kill any who would advocate freedom of the individual.

Those in Congress would not deny that Congress itself had voted for a war against Saddam on 23 counts — the vast majority of which had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction and remain as valid today as when they were approved in 2002.

Congressional Democrats would make clear that, while in the interests of peace they might wish to talk to Iran, they had no idea how to approach a regime that subsidizes Holocaust denial, threatens to wipe out Israel, defies the world in seeking nuclear weapons, trains terrorists to kill Americans in Iraq, engages in piracy and hostage taking, and butchers or incarcerates any of its own who question the regime.

In this dream, I heard our ex-presidents add to this chorus of war-time solidarity. Jimmy Carter reminded Americans that radical Islam had started in earnest on his watch, out of an endemic hatred of all things Western. I imagined him explaining that America began being called the “Great Satan” during the presidential tenure of a liberal pacifist, not a Texan conservative.

Bill Clinton would likewise add that he bombed Iraq, and Afghanistan, and East Africa without congressional or U.N. approval because of the need for unilateral action against serial terrorism and the efforts of radicals to obtain weapons of mass destruction.

George Bush Sr. would in turn lecture the media that it was once as furious at him for not removing Saddam as it is now furious at his son for doing so; that it was once as critical of him for sending too many troops to the Middle East as it is now critical of his son for sending too few; that it was once as hostile to the dictates of his excessively large coalition as it is now disparaging of his son’s intolerably small alliance; that it was once as dismissive of his old concern about Iranian influence in Iraq as it is now aghast at his son’s naiveté about Tehran’s interest in absorbing southern Iraq; and that it was once as repulsed by his own cynical realism as it is now repulsed by his son’s blinkered idealism.

I also dreamed that the British government only laughed at calls to curtail studies of the Holocaust in deference to radical Muslims, and instead repeatedly aired a documentary on its sole Victoria Cross winner in Iraq. The British, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, and Spanish foreign ministers would collectively warn the radical Islamic world that there would be no more concessions to the pre-rational primeval mind, no more backpeddling and equivocating on rioting and threats over cartoons or operas or papal statements. There would be no more apologies about how the West need make amends for a hallowed tradition that started 2,500 years ago with classical Athens, led to the Italian Republics of the Renaissance, and inspired the liberal democracies that defeated fascism, Japanese militarism, Nazism, and Communist totalitarianism, and now are likewise poised to end radical Islamic fascism.

Europeans would advise their own Muslim immigrants, from London to Berlin, that the West, founded on principles of the Hellenic and European Enlightenments, and enriched by the Sermon on the Mount, had nothing to apologize for, now or in the future. Newcomers would either accept this revered culture of tolerance, assimilation, and equality of religions and the sexes — or return home to live under its antithesis of seventh-century Sharia law.

Media critics of the ongoing war might deplore our tactics, take issue with the strategy, and lament the failure to articulate our goals and values. But they would not stoop to the lies of “no blood for oil” — not when Iraqi petroleum is now at last under transparent auspices and bid on by non-American companies, even as the price skyrockets and American ships protect the vulnerable sea-lanes, ensuring life-saving commerce for all importing nations.

I also dreamed that no columnist, no talking head, no pundit would level the charge of “We took our eye off bin Laden in Afghanistan” when they themselves had no answer on how to reach al Qaedists inside nuclear Pakistan, a country ruled by a triangulating dictator and just one bullet away from an Islamic theocracy.

And then I woke up, remembering that the West of old lives only in dreams. Yes, the new religion of the post-Westerner is neither the Enlightenment nor Christianity, but the gospel of the Path of Least Resistance — one that must lead inevitably to gratification rather than sacrifice.

Once one understands this new creed, then all the surreal present at last makes sense: life in the contemporary West is so good, so free, so undemanding, that we will pay, say, and suffer almost anything to enjoy its uninterrupted continuance — and accordingly avoid almost any principled act that might endanger it.

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« Reply #417 on: April 13, 2007, 05:35:49 PM »

That's a keeper GM. 
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« Reply #418 on: April 13, 2007, 06:40:19 PM »

Another must read.
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« Reply #419 on: April 25, 2007, 12:33:17 PM »

Harry's War
Democrats are taking ownership of a defeat in Iraq.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

We're going to pick up Senate seats as a result of this war. Senator Schumer has shown me numbers that are compelling and astounding.
--Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, April 12.

Gen. David Petraeus is in Washington this week, where on Monday he briefed President Bush on the progress of the new military strategy in Iraq. Today he will give similar briefings on Capitol Hill, but maybe he should save his breath. As fellow four-star Harry Reid recently informed America, the war Gen. Petraeus is fighting and trying to win is already "lost."

Mr. Reid has since tried to "clarify" that remark, and in a speech Monday he laid out his own strategy for Iraq. But perhaps we ought to be grateful for his earlier candor in laying out the strategic judgment--and nakedly political rationale--that underlies the latest Congressional bid to force a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq starting this fall. By doing so, he and the Democrats are taking ownership of whatever ugly outcome follows a U.S. defeat in Iraq.

This isn't to say that the Administration hasn't made its share of major blunders in this war. But at least Mr. Bush and his commanders are now trying to make up for these mistakes with a strategy to put Prime Minister Maliki's government on a stronger footing, secure Baghdad and the Sunni provinces against al Qaeda and allow for an eventual, honorable, U.S. withdrawal. That's more than can be said for Mr. Reid and the Democratic left, who are making the job for our troops more difficult by undermining U.S. morale and Iraqi confidence in American support.
In his speech Monday, Mr. Reid claimed that "nothing has changed" since the surge began taking effect in February. It's true that the car bombings and U.S. casualties continue, and may increase. But such an enemy counterattack was to be expected, aimed as it is directly at the Democrats in Washington. The real test of the surge is whether it can secure enough of the population to win their cooperation and gradually create fewer safe havens for the terrorists.

So far, the surge is meeting that test, even before the additional troops Mr. Bush ordered have been fully deployed. Between February and March sectarian violence declined by 26%, according to Gen. William Caldwell. Security in Baghdad has improved sufficiently to allow the government to shorten its nightly curfew. Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has been politically marginalized, which explains his apparent departure from Iraq and the resignation of his minions from Mr. Maliki's parliamentary coalition--a sign that moderate Shiites are gaining strength at his expense.

More significantly, most Sunni tribal sheikhs are now turning against al Qaeda and cooperating with coalition and Iraqi forces. What has turned these sheikhs isn't some grand "political solution," which Mr. Reid claims is essential for Iraq's salvation. They've turned because they have tired of being fodder for al Qaeda's strategy of fomenting a civil war with a goal of creating a Taliban regime in Baghdad, or at least in Anbar province. The sheikhs realize that they will probably lose such a civil war now that the Shiites are as well-armed as the insurgents and prepared to be just as ruthless. Their best chance for survival now lies with a democratic government in Baghdad. The political solution becomes easier the stronger Mr. Maliki and Iraqi government forces are, and strengthening both is a major goal of the surge.

By contrast, Mr. Reid's strategy of withdrawal will only serve to enlarge the security vacuum in which Shiite militias and Sunni insurgents have thrived. That's also true of what an American withdrawal will mean for the broader Middle East. Mr. Reid says that by withdrawing from Iraq we will be better able to take on al Qaeda and a nuclear Iran. But the reality (to use Mr. Reid's new favorite word) is that we are fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, and if we lose there we will only make it harder to prevail in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Countries do not usually win wars by losing their biggest battles.

As for Iran, Mr. Reid's strategy of defeat would guarantee that the radical mullahs of Tehran have more influence in Baghdad than the moderate Shiites of Najaf. It would also make the mullahs even more confident that they can build a bomb with impunity and no fear of any Western response.
The stakes in Iraq are about the future of the entire Middle East--and of our inevitable involvement in it. In calling for withdrawal, Mr. Reid and his allies, just as with Vietnam, may think they are merely following polls that show the public is unhappy with the war. Yet Americans will come to dislike a humiliation and its aftermath even more, especially as they realize that a withdrawal from Iraq now will only make it harder to stabilize the region and defeat Islamist radicals. And they will like it even less should we be required to re-enter the country someday under far worse circumstances.

This is the outcome toward which the "lost" Democrats and Harry Reid are heading, and for which they will be responsible if it occurs. The alternative is to fight for a stable Iraqi government that can control the country and keep it together in a federal, democratic system. As long as such an outcome is within reach, it is our responsibility to achieve it.

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« Reply #420 on: April 26, 2007, 10:32:58 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: Iran's Current Conciliatory Mood Swing

Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani arrived in Ankara, Turkey, on Wednesday to resume talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana over Tehran's nuclear program. Negotiations came to an abrupt halt in December 2006 when the United Nations imposed long-awaited sanctions on the Islamic Republic. A few days before Larijani's meeting with Solana, the European Union approved a second phase of U.N. sanctions, which includes a ban on Iranian arms exports and an asset freeze targeting 28 individuals, one-third of whom are members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Despite the new sanctions, Iran has continued to play nice and has issued a series of conciliatory statements expressing its desire to create a rational atmosphere for negotiations. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said April 22 that the United States is showing signs of "softening" its stance toward Iran, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he is ready to hold talks with U.S. President George W. Bush. Even Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has dialed back the pressure, telling Israel Radio on April 23 that there is still time for the international community to peacefully prevent Iran from going nuclear.

The Iranian nuclear playbook revolves around consolidating that country's power in Iraq. During the ebb and flow of negotiations between Washington and Tehran, the Iranians have developed a number of bargaining chips -- including their nuclear program -- to strengthen their hand against the United States in discussions about a post-Saddam Hussein power structure in Baghdad. Throughout this process, Iran has undergone a number of calculated mood swings in order to shape the discussions in its favor. We now are witnessing one such swing. Iran is taking a conciliatory approach ahead of a key meeting May 3-4 at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, at which Iran and the United States are expected to participate in a multilateral discussion about how to bring security to Iraq.

Thus far, Iran is playing hard to get, making it appear as though Washington -- not Tehran -- is begging for talks on Iraq. Iran played the same game ahead of earlier meetings attended by both U.S. and Iranian representatives, including a March meeting in Baghdad and the February security conference in Munich, Germany. Iran's apparent hesitation this time around has been attributed to the "venue and agenda" of the meeting. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari traveled to Tehran on Wednesday with a mission sent by Washington to convince the Iranians to participate in the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting, which was originally set to take place in Ankara, but was moved to Egypt, likely due to the protestations of Iraq's Kurdish bloc. (Iran and Turkey are both outside the Arab fold and are on the same page in terms of ensuring that Iraqi Kurds do not carve out a separate region for themselves while Baghdad burns -- making Ankara an ideal meeting place in Iran's eyes.)

One thing Tehran does not want is for the Arab powers and the United States to turn the Egypt conference into a Tehran-bashing event, in which all the blame for Iraq's security problems would fall on its eastern neighbor. Iran wants to go into the talks on relatively equal footing with the United States, and will attempt to extract concessions from Washington ahead of the meeting, including the release of the five Iranian officials who were seized by U.S. forces in January from an Iranian diplomatic office in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil. This explains Iran's recent public statements that it has received positive signs regarding the five Iranians being held in Iraq. By bringing the private negotiations into the public sphere, Iran is trying to hold the United States to any behind-the-scenes assurances it might have given about freeing the diplomats.

Iran has not yet announced whether its representatives will attend the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting. While the Iranians likely will make the trip, do not expect them to take any big leaps during the negotiations. Iran is still watching to see how the U.S. congressional debate over Iraq war funding shapes up, and can clearly see the Bush administration battling popular opinion by refusing to set a date for withdrawing from Iraq. If Iran could be assured that the upcoming U.S. presidential race would produce a leader who would attempt to get U.S. forces out of Iraq quickly, the clerical regime could risk dragging out the negotiations. But this is by no means guaranteed, and Bush is doing all he can to convince Iran that U.S. troops are in the Gulf for the long haul -- and that it is in Iran's best interest to deal now before the tide turns against it. Moreover, the Iranians are not at all confident about the state of Iraq's Shiite bloc, which is rife with fissures.

With all of these uncertainties, Iran likely will continue to stall, and to manipulate the nuclear negotiations as much as possible until it can better manage the Iraqi Shia.
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« Reply #421 on: April 29, 2007, 07:41:45 AM »

Not sure in which thread to put this article from today's NYTimes, so I put it here:

WASHINGTON, April 28 — No foreign diplomat has been closer or had more access to President Bush, his family and his administration than the magnetic and fabulously wealthy Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia.

Prince Bandar has mentored Mr. Bush and his father through three wars and the broader campaign against terrorism, reliably delivering — sometimes in the Oval Office — his nation’s support for crucial Middle East initiatives dependent on the regional legitimacy the Saudis could bring, as well as timely warnings of Saudi regional priorities that might put it into apparent conflict with the United States. Even after his 22-year term as Saudi ambassador ended in 2005, he still seemed the insider’s insider. But now, current and former Bush administration officials are wondering if the longtime reliance on him has begun to outlive its usefulness.

Bush administration officials have been scratching their heads over steps taken by Prince Bandar’s uncle, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, that have surprised them by going against the American playbook, after receiving assurances to the contrary from Prince Bandar during secret trips he made to Washington.

For instance, in February, King Abdullah effectively torpedoed plans by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for a high-profile peace summit meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, by brokering a power-sharing agreement with Mr. Abbas’s Fatah and Hamas that did not require Hamas to recognize Israel or forswear violence. The Americans had believed, after discussions with Prince Bandar, that the Saudis were on board with the strategy of isolating Hamas.

American officials also believed, again after speaking with Prince Bandar, that the Saudis might agree to direct engagement with Israel as part of a broad American plan to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. King Abdullah countermanded that plan.

Most bitingly, during a speech before Arab heads of state in Riyadh three weeks ago, the king condemned the American invasion of Iraq as “an illegal foreign occupation.” The Bush administration, caught off guard, was infuriated, and administration officials have found Prince Bandar hard to reach since.

Since the Iraq war and the attendant plummeting of America’s image in the Muslim world, King Abdullah has been striving to set a more independent and less pro-American course, American and Arab officials said. And that has steered America’s relationship with its staunchest Arab ally into uncharted waters. Prince Bandar, they say, may no longer be able to serve as an unerring beacon of Saudi intent.

“The problem is that Bandar has been pursuing a policy that was music to the ears of the Bush administration, but was not what King Abdullah had in mind at all,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former United States ambassador to Israel who is now head of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

Of course it is ultimately the king — and not the prince — who makes the final call on policy. More than a dozen associates of Prince Bandar, including personal friends and Saudi officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that if his counsel has led to the recent misunderstandings, it is due to his longtime penchant for leaving room in his dispatches for friends to hear what they want to hear. That approach, they said, is catching up to the prince as new tensions emerge between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Bandar, son of one of the powerful seven sons born to the favorite wife of Saudi Arabia’s founding king, “needs to personally regroup and figure out how to put Humpty Dumpty together again,” one associate said.

Robert Jordan, a former Bush administration ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said the Saudis’ mixed signals have come at a time when King Abdullah — who has ruled the country since 1995 but became king only in 2005 after the death of his brother, Fahd — has said he does not want to go down in history as Mr. Bush’s Arab Tony Blair. “I think he feels the need as a kind of emerging leader of the Arab world right now to maintain a distance,” he said.

Mr. Jordan said that although the United States and Saudi Arabia “have different views on how to get there,” the countries still share the same long-term goals for the region and remain at heart strong allies.

An administration spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe, said none of the current issues threatened the relationship. “We may have differences on issues now and then,” he said, “but we remain close allies.”

Or, as Saleh al-Kallab, a former minister of information in Jordan, put it, “The relationship between the United States and the Arab regimes is like a Catholic marriage where you can have no divorce.”

But there can be separation. And several associates of Prince Bandar acknowledge that he feels caught between the opposing pressure of the king and that of his close friends in the Bush administration. It is a relationship that Prince Bandar has fostered with great care and attention to detail over the years, making himself practically indispensable to Mr. Bush, his family and his aides.

Page 2 of 2)

A few nights after he resigned his post as secretary of state two years ago, Colin L. Powell answered a ring at his front door. Standing outside was Prince Bandar, then Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, with a 1995 Jaguar. Mr. Powell’s wife, Alma, had once mentioned that she missed their 1995 Jaguar, which she and her husband had traded in. Prince Bandar had filed that information away, and presented the Powells that night with an identical, 10-year-old model. The Powells kept the car — a gift that the State Department said was legal — but recently traded it away.

The move was classic Bandar, who has been referred to as Bandar Bush, attending birthday celebrations, sending notes in times of personal crisis and entertaining the Bushes or top administration officials at sumptuous dinner parties at Prince Bandar’s opulent homes in McLean, Va., and Aspen, Colo.

He has invited top officials to pizza and movies out at a mall in suburban Virginia — and then rented out the movie theater (candy served chair-side, in a wagon) and the local Pizza Hut so he and his guests could enjoy themselves in solitude. He is said to feel a strong sense of loyalty toward Mr. Bush’s father dating to the Persian Gulf war, which transferred to the son, whom he counseled about international diplomacy during Mr. Bush’s first campaign for president.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, as the United States learned that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi and focused on the strict Wahhabi school of Islam that informed them and their leader and fellow Saudi, Osama bin Laden, Prince Bandar took a public role in assuring the Americans that his nation would cooperate in investigating and combating anti-American terrorism. He also helped arrange for more than a hundred members of the bin Laden family to be flown out of the United States.

Even since he left the Saudi ambassador’s post in Washington and returned to Saudi Arabia two years ago, Prince Bandar has continued his long courtship, over decades, of the Bush family and Vice President Dick Cheney, flying into Washington for unofficial meetings at the White House. He cruises in without consulting the Saudi Embassy in Washington, where miffed officials have sometimes said they had no idea that he was in town — a perceived slight that contributed to the resignation of his cousin Prince Turki al-Faisal as ambassador to the United States last year. He has been succeeded by Adel al-Jubeir, who is said to have strong support from the king.

Prince Turki was never able to match the role of Prince Bandar, whom the president, vice president and other officials regularly consult on every major Middle East initiative — from the approach to Iran to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to Iraq. Prince Bandar played a crucial role in securing the use of the Prince Sultan Air Base at Al Kharj, roughly 70 miles outside Riyadh, in the attacks led by the United States against Afghanistan and Iraq, despite chafing within his government.

He helped in the negotiations that led to Libya giving up its weapons programs, a victory for Mr. Bush. He pledged to protect the world economy from oil shocks after the invasion, the White House said in 2004, but he denied a report, by the author Bob Woodward, that he had promised to stabilize oil prices in time for Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign.

The cause of the latest friction in the American-Saudi relationship began in 2003, before the invasion of Iraq. The Saudis agreed with the Bush view of Saddam Hussein as a threat, but voiced concern about post-invasion contingencies and the fate of the Sunni minority. When it became clear that the administration was committed to invading Iraq, Prince Bandar took a lead role in negotiations between the Bush administration and Saudi officials over securing bases and staging grounds.

But Saudi frustration has mounted over the past four years, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated. King Abdullah was angry that the Bush administration ignored his advice against de-Baathification and the disbanding of the Iraqi military. He became more frustrated as America’s image in the Muslim world deteriorated, because Saudi Arabia is viewed as a close American ally.

Tensions between King Abdullah and top Bush officials escalated further when Mr. Bush announced a new energy initiative to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil during his 2006 State of the Union address, and announced new initiatives in that direction this year.

Both American and Saudi officials say that King Abdullah clearly values — and uses — Prince Bandar’s close relationship with the White House. And that, associates said, will dictate what Prince Bandar can do.

“Don’t expect the man, because he happens to have an American background, not to play the game for his home team,” said William Simpson, Prince Bandar’s biographer, and a former classmate at the Royal Air Force College in England. “The home team is Saudi Arabia.”

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« Reply #422 on: April 29, 2007, 03:07:33 PM »

That is the question.   TB: 

Everyone seems to have their own answer and their opinions cannot be changed.
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« Reply #423 on: May 02, 2007, 06:39:25 PM »

Victor Davis HansonMay 2, 2007 8:48 AM The Crazy Middle East
All Eyes on Baghdad

All the pros and cons on the war have been aired. We’ve read all the tell-all books by Woodward, Ricks, Gordon, Trainor and the rest that now contradict the arguments and theses of what they wrote about the 1991 war—that then we should have done what we are doing now, which in turn should now be what we had done then.

All the once insider geniuses like Clark, Scheuer, O’Neil and Tenet have sold their tell-all accounts in which they were brilliant and all else obtuse. Feith has been called a dumb _____ by almost everyone in DC. Libby is facing jail for something or other, but most certainly not what the Special Prosecutor was supposed to be looking for; Wolfowitz faces an ouster: so much for bringing up to your board that you might have a conflict of interest down the road.

We’ve suffered through the distortions of Michael Moore and know that Cindy Sheehan once thanked President Bush for meeting with her. We’ve heard that the US military is akin to Saddam, Nazis, Pol Pot, or Stalin from the likes of Sens. Durbin and Kennedy, that America is a pariah from Sen. Kerry, that the war is lost from Sen. Reid and Howard Dean, and about everything imaginable from poor Sen. Biden.

We know that the Clintons once tried to restore their fides on national security by railing about Saddam’s WMD program, both before and after September 11. There has been a revolt of the generals and CIA operatives, that in addition to demonstrating opposition to the war, showed just how angry top brass are at our restructuring the military and /or intelligence agencies.

The Celebs have weighed in, and now we know that the Dixie Chicks, Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Rosie, the Donald, and Alec Baldwin are as ignorant as they are vehement and vicious in their pronouncements.

We’ve seen all the supposed landmark stories come and go: Dick Cheney’s shotgun, the supposed flushed Koran, the forged memos about Bush’s National Guard service, the doctored photos from Beirut, the slips from CNN brass about bias, the implosion of Dan Rather, the blood lust for Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Gonzalez, et. al. None of them did anything illegal; all of them were hounded by the press to resign—all of whom Republicans thought if these just go, the Left will stop, when in fact its appetite was only fed.

All that has come and gone, and we are left in the end with the verdict of the battlefield. The war will be won or lost, like it or not, fairly or unjustly, in the next six months in Baghdad. Either Gen. Petraeus quells the violence to a level that even the media cannot exaggerate, or the enterprise fails, and we withdraw. For all the acrimony and hysteria at home, that in the end is what we face—the verdict of all wars that ultimately are decided by the soldiers, and then either supported or opposed by the majority at home with no views or ideology other than its desire to conform to the narrative from the front: support our winners, oppose our losers. In the end, that is what this entire hysterical four years are about.

Win Iraq in the sense of a government stabilizing analogous to Kurdistan or Turkey, and even at this late hour, pundits and politicians will scramble around to dig up their 2002-3 quotes supporting the war, while Hollywood goes quiet and turns to more sermons on Darfur.

Sad, but true.

And the Palestinians wonder?

Polls show about 20% of Americans favor the Palestinians in their war against Israel, while about half the US population now expresses an unease with Muslims in general. Meanwhile a large minority of Muslims, according to polls, condones terrorist attacks on civilians, while a vast majority is vehemently anti-American. Their prejudice apparently is chalked up to our omnipresence—like saving Kuwait, feeding Somalia, stopping Muslims dying en masse in the Balkans, ridding Afghanistan of the Soviets, paying astronomical prices for their oil, and giving nearly $100 billion over the years to the Egyptians, Jordanians, and Palestinians.

Our prejudice surely could not be due to 19 Muslims slaughtering— to the delight of millions—3,000 Americans, nor to the news almost every hour of Christian-Muslim violence, Hindu-Muslim violence, Buddhist-Muslim violence, or secular-Muslim violence. And now the much circulated quote from Sheik Ahmad Bahr, acting Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council:

“You will be victorious” on the face of this planet. You are the masters of the world on the face of this planet. Yes, [the Koran says that] “you will be victorious,” but only “if you are believers.” Allah willing, “you will be victorious,” while America and Israel will be annihilated. I guarantee you that the power of belief and faith is greater than the power of America and Israel. They are cowards, who are eager for life, while we are eager for death for the sake of Allah. That is why America’s nose was rubbed in the mud in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Somalia, and everywhere… Oh Allah, vanquish the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them all, down to the very last one. Oh Allah, show them a day of darkness. Oh Allah, who sent down His Book, the mover of the clouds, who defeated the enemies of the Prophet defeat the Jews and the Americans, and bring us victory over them.”

And wait till these people get the bomb. So much for the war against Islamism being “over.”

What is it about the Palestinians?

Occupied Land? Are we speaking of Tibet? And why not worry about territorial disputes between Argentina and its neighbors, or Russia and Japan over the Kuriles, or a divided and Turkish-occupied Cyprus, or for that matter, Germany that lost historic homelands to postwar Poland? Or let us stop the earth’s rotation for Kashmir, which at least involves two large nuclear adversaries. Do the millions of Kurds in Turkey qualify as homeless or refugees or voiceless?


Are we talking of the 600,000 plus Jews that were expelled from the major Arab capitals following the 1967 war?

Or are we drawn to the millions in the Congo and Nigeria that have lost their homes?

If we are speaking of Palestinians, do we refer to the quarter-million plus expelled from Kuwait following the 1991 Gulf War?


Surely the world mourns the million lost in Rwanda? Or the tens of thousands now killed in Darfur? Or the million plus starved the last decade in North Korea?

So why just the Palestinians?

The truth is that the international media has created the entire Palestinian crisis, at least in terms of elevating it beyond all others of far worse magnitude.


Fear of international terrorists, going way back to the plane hijackings and Olympian killings of the 1970s.

Fear of oil price hikes, as if the Saudis might once again turn off the spigots in solidarity with Palestinians.

Demography? There are tens of millions of pro-Palestinian angry Muslims with a propensity toward supporting violent acts, and very few Jews who are busy writing scientific articles and discovering new products. So whom to fear?

And then there is the old anti-Semitism, old in the sense of both generated in Europe and as old as the Koran itself in the Middle East.

What to Do?

We should give not a cent to any government in Palestine. Americans might wish the people there well, but explain due to their vehement anti-American prejudices, we cannot accept any into this country, revoke the visas of those who are here, and politely ask them to settle their own differences with Israel.

Perhaps with Gulf oil money, they can one day forget Israel, create a just society, foster a vibrant, non-corrupt economy, and then with confidence negotiate with Israel about borders. But until then, there is no reason to have relations with this government or its populace.

Its mother’s milk is envy and jealousy that a displaced decimated people was placed down beside them in rock and scrub, and sixty years later built a humane, prosperous society that is a daily reminder to them that what they do—statism, gender apartheid, tribalism, feuding, religious intolerance, corruption, autocracy, polygamy, honor killings, etc.—lead to the very opposite sort of society in which nothing is invented, no discovery is found, no security or prosperity is achieved, and hand-outs are demanded but never appreciated.

But why discuss self-inflicted misery when the Jews are a few hundred yards away to blame, and guilt-ridden wealthy Westerners are easy marks for shake-downs, themselves anti-Semitic and fearful of hooded men with shaking fist and blood-curdling chants?

Don’t forget Syria.

Nancy Pelosi et al. gave sermons on the need to include Syria in regional discussions and to open a dialogue with this “key player.” Here’s what that olive branch won in reply, a boast from dictator Assad that Syria is essential to the killing of Americans in Iraq:

“To the east there is the resistance in Iraq, to the west there is the resistance in Lebanon and to the south there is the resistance of the Palestinian people…We, in Syria, are at the heart of all these events. Syria, the Arab region and the Middle East are going through a dangerous period. Destructive colonial projects are seeking to divide and reshape our region…Every Syrian citizen supports the Iraqi people who are resisting the American occupation.”

“Destructive colonial projects” means offering someone the right to vote and have some freedom of expression, in other words to say no to thugs like Assad, Ahmadinejad, or Khadafy.

Be careful what you wish for.

For years Arab intellectuals demanded from the West some concern for human rights, and a cessation of business as usual with their dictatorial strongmen. But post 2003 we are learning that such posturing was, well, posturing, and most of these hothouse plants are more angry at the democratization efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq than they are at their own autocrats. An unspoken truth in the post 9/11 climate is that Arab reformers have zero credibility. Most live in Europe and the United States (including members of the families of the Pakistani, Syrian, Lebanese, and Saudi autocrats and extremists). Most are far more critical of western governments that gave them refuge and a new life than they are of the illiberal regimes that drove them out.

Oil, father of us all

In the end, all reasoning and caclucation comes down to oil, not energy independce just a lessening of our need to import by about 5 million barrels or so on the world market. Let Brazil export duty-free ethanol; drill in Anwar and off our coasts; build 20 or so nuclear reactors to replace natural gas and power batteries at night of small commuter cars; up the fleet average gas mileage; develop oil tar and oil shale; use alternative energies—and do all that inclusively rather than in an either/or strategy, and we can collapse the world price, and with it the strategic importance of this dangerous, dysfunctional, and ultimately irrelevant part of the world.

Without oil and nukes, the Arab and Iranian Middle East has no hold on the world, no more than does Paraguay or the Ivory Coast or Bulgaria or Laos. We wish them well, but find Ahmadinejad, Nasrallah, the House of Saud, Hamas, Khadafy, and all the rest, well, all too retro-7th-century for our tastes.

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« Reply #424 on: May 03, 2007, 12:04:08 AM »

Regarding the VDH piece just posted.  That is a great read from start to finish IMO.  Looking past the question of Baghdad, wouldn't it be nice if we tried this strategy toward world peace:

"Let Brazil export duty-free ethanol; drill in Anwar and off our coasts; build 20 or so nuclear reactors to replace natural gas and power batteries at night of small commuter cars; up the fleet average gas mileage; develop oil tar and oil shale; use alternative energies—and do all that inclusively rather than in an either/or strategy, and we can collapse the world price, and with it the strategic importance of this dangerous, dysfunctional, and ultimately irrelevant part of the world."

Considering the trillion dollars and thousands of lives going into war right now, isn't it amazing that we can't even agree on taking these simple steps to empower ourselves and depower the thugs of that region.
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« Reply #425 on: May 05, 2007, 03:31:21 PM »

BREAKING: Zawahiri comments on timetable for Iraq withdrawal

Excerpt from soon to be released Zawahiri tape:

Interviewer: The American Congress recently passed a bill which ties the funding of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to a timetable for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq which ends next March. What is your comment on this resolution?

Zawahiri: This bill reflects American failure and frustration. However, this bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap. We ask Allah that they only get out of it after losing two hundred to three hundred thousand killed, in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson which will motivate them to review their entire doctrinal and moral system which produced their historic criminal Crusader/Zionist entity.

Later in the tape, he goes on to say:

Thus, I warn everyone who has helped the Crusade against Iraq and Afghanistan that the Crusaders are departing – by their own admission – and soon, with Allah’s permission, so let him ponder his fate and future.

Please check back - we will post this video as soon as it becomes available.

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« Reply #426 on: May 05, 2007, 06:40:15 PM »

New Tape: Al Qaeda No. 2 Wants 200,000-300,000 U.S. Dead in Iraq
Ayman al-Zawahiri Says Al Qaeda Wants to Spill More U.S. Blood Before America Withdraws

May 5, 2007 —

In a new video posted today on the Internet, al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al Zawahiri, mocks the bill passed by Congress setting a timetable for the pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq.

"This bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap," Zawahiri says in answer to a question posed to him an interviewer.

Continuing in the same tone, Zawahiri says, "We ask Allah that they only get out of it after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson."

Based on the references to the bill, the tape, produced by al Qaeda's propaganda arm, as-Sahab, appears to have been made after Congress passed the legislation last week but before President Bush vetoed in on Thursday.

According to Laura Mansfield, a counter terrorism analyst with Strategic Translations, an organization that monitors al Qaeda postings, the tape was posted on the Internet this morning and covers the usual range of Zawahri's topics including Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.

There has been a flurry of audio and video releases featuring Zawahiri, although no new communication from Osama bin Laden since mid-2006.

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« Reply #427 on: May 05, 2007, 09:58:41 PM »

SITE Publications
As-Sahab Video of Third Interview with Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri – 5/2007
By SITE Institute
May 5, 2007

Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number two figure in al-Qaeda, is featured in a video interview produced by as-Sahab, marking the third such sit-down interview to be conducted with the multimedia wing of al-Qaeda. The first was issued in September 2005, and was followed a year later by the second, which is titled, “Hot Issues”. The video, one-hour and seven minutes in length, is subtitled in English, and features Zawahiri sitting in front of a shelves of books and his gun. The video and transcript were obtained by the SITE Institute. In this interview, dated in the current month, Zawahiri remarks on the row he created in his last speech, charging the leaders of Hamas with abandoning jihad and shirking the Shari’a, or Islamic law, on which their group was founded, using his usual fiery rhetoric and strict adherence to the belief that a Palestinian entity is greater than the lives of Palestinians. However, most interesting to note is Zawahiri’s frequent references to Malcolm X AKA Al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz, a past spokesman for the Nation of Islam, Sahab’s inclusion of excerpts from his speeches, and Zawahiri courting of all minorities in arguing that the jihad by the Mujahideen and al-Qaeda is not merely for the benefit of Muslims. He states:

“That’s why I want blacks in America, people of color, American Indians, Hispanics, and all the weak and oppressed in North and South America, in Africa and Asia, and all over the world, to know that when we wage Jihad in Allah’s path, we aren’t waging Jihad to lift oppression from the Muslims only, we are waging Jihad to lift oppression from all of mankind, because Allah has ordered us never to accept oppression, whatever it may be.”

Aside from Zawahiri’s opportunistic approach to minority rights, he comments on the current issue over the War in Iraq vis-à-vis the U.S. Congress and U.S. President George W. Bush. Speaking to the bill tying funding for the war to a timetable to withdrawal, Zawahiri comments that this is evidence of American “failure and frustration”, and sarcastically voices his disappointment that the bill deprives the Mujahideen of crushing the U.S. forces. Concerning Bush claiming success in the Baghdad security plan, Zawahiri continues to mock U.S. policy, referring to the suicide bombing at the Iraqi Parliament building in the Green Zone, stating: “And lest Bush worry, I congratulate him on the success of his security plan, and I invite him on the occasion for a glass of juice, but in the cafeteria of the Iraqi parliament in the middle of the Green Zone!”

To the issue of Hamas, which was embellished upon by Abu Yahya al-Libi in his speech issue one week prior by as-Sahab, Zawahiri further derides the government for its refusal to maintain a militaristic approach and believing it harmful to Palestinian lives. Zawahiri questions the relationship between Palestinian blood and “selling” Palestine to Israel and the West, arguing that their blood must be “sacrificed cheaply” for Islam and the land of Palestine. As for Hamas’ moderate position, he states: “fie on moderation, politics, the presidency and the cabinet, and I thank Allah for the bounty of extremism, militancy and terrorism and everything else we are labeled with.”

To the question of sectarian fighting in Iraq, Zawahiri believes this was stirred up not by the Mujahideen or the Islamic State of Iraq, but by those individuals and groups in Iraq who do not want the coalition forces to leave. The Mujahideen in Iraq, he claims, are nearing closer to victory over their enemy, despite this sectarian fighting, as are the Mujahideen in other fields of battle, including Afghanistan, Chechnya, Algeria, and Somalia. Other portions of the interview concern Saudi Arabia, Egyptian constitutional reform to consolidate power in the executive branch and allow Gamal Mubarak to ascend to power, and Zawahiri’s opinion of the U.S. Pentagon releasing the confessions of 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.

The video and transcript are provided to our Intel Service members.

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« Reply #428 on: May 09, 2007, 09:19:17 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: Cheney in a Sandstorm

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney left Tuesday for a trip to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan. The Cheney trip comes on the heels of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, where she attended a regional security conference on Iraq and interacted with the Syrian and Iranian foreign ministers.

Rice's meet-and-greets at Sharm el-Sheikh were all about putting a fresh, conciliatory face on the Bush administration in dealing with the Iranian and Syrian pariahs of the Middle East. By engaging the Syrians and Iranians in high-level talks, albeit brief ones, Washington took a small step toward bringing its back-channel negotiations over Iraq into the public realm. The forum allowed Rice to demonstrate a willingness by the United States to deal openly with Iraq's Sunni and Shiite neighbors in bringing stability -- and an eventual U.S. exit strategy -- to Iraq.

Cheney's visit to the region, however, has a starkly different purpose. Whereas Rice played the role of the engaging diplomat, Cheney will be playing the role of enforcer.

Cheney is notably visiting the main Sunni powerhouses of the region -- Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Cairo and Amman. By intently focusing his trip on Washington's Arab allies, Cheney is sending a clear message to Tehran that the U.S. government is not about to allow Iran to sweep into Iraq and upset the regional balance by spreading Shiite influence into the heart of the Arab world. The Sunni Arab states are very concerned that any deal the United States makes with Iran would end up compromising the historical upper hand that the Sunnis have long maintained in containing their Shiite rivals.

Moreover, the Sunni powers are worried that the continuing sectarian conflict in Iraq will eventually spread beyond the country's borders and threaten political interests at home. Saudi King Abdullah expressed his exasperation at the U.S. lack of progress in Iraq quite bluntly at the Arab League summit in March, when he labeled the U.S. troop presence in Iraq as an "illegitimate foreign occupation." Though King Abdullah lambasted the United States in his speech, the reality of the situation is that Riyadh, as well as the other Sunni states, are not exactly keen on the idea of a U.S. troop withdrawal leaving a power vacuum in Iraq for the Iranians to fill. King Abdullah has doubtless given serious thought to a scenario down the line in which Iranian troops are sitting on the Iraqi-Saudi border within spitting distance of Saudi Arabia's prized oil fields.

In light of these concerns, Cheney will be delivering two very important messages to these Sunni governments. The first message will involve a number of reassurances that the United States is still a reliable ally to its Sunni friends in the region, and is not about to let Iraq transform into an Iranian satellite state. Cheney can pacify the Arab states by assuring them that U.S. troops are not on the verge of pulling out of Iraq (particularly as the Pentagon announced on Tuesday that it has earmarked 35,000 more troops for deployments there this year) -- but he will also tell these Arab leaders very bluntly that, with less than two years to go under the Bush administration and with a presidential race in which "withdrawal" has become practically every candidate's buzzword, he cannot promise U.S. troops will stay in Iraq for the long haul.

And this brings us to the second message that we expect Cheney to deliver. As we have outlined in depth in previous analyses, the United States is working toward a negotiated settlement on Iraq with the main power players in the region, most notably Iran and Saudi Arabia. For such a settlement to materialize, sectarian violence in Iraq must be brought down to manageable levels for the government in Baghdad to function. However, this strategy rests on faulty assumptions that Tehran and Riyadh have the leverage in Iraq to rein in the Sunni and Shiite militants responsible for the majority of the bloodshed. In other words, the United States cannot move forward in stabilizing Iraq until it knows who in Iraq it is dealing with -- and who can actually be dealt with in the first place.

This is where Iraq's Sunni neighbors come in.

Not coincidentally, Cheney is traveling to countries that house the Arab world's most sophisticated intelligence services. What Cheney is looking for is a commitment by Riyadh, Amman, Abu Dhabi and Cairo to step up and coalesce an Iraqi Sunni platform that can deliver in negotiations with Iraq's Shiite and Kurdish factions. These Arab states have the connections, the money and the coercive tools to bring the Sunni nationalist insurgents in line and close Iraq's doors to the foreign jihadists. Or so the United States would like to assume.

Whether the Sunni Arab powers will take action, or be successful in their efforts, depends on how seriously these states are considering the thought of U.S. troops withdrawing. U.S. President George W. Bush is in a very tricky position right now. By pursuing a surge strategy in Iraq, he is signaling to the Iranians that Washington has no intent to draw down its military presence in the region -- and that therefore it would be in the Persian ayatollahs' best interest to deal now, rather than wait out the administration. On the other hand, Bush also has to convince the Arab states that they had better start moving now to unite the Iraqi Sunni front, otherwise they will be dealing with the Iranians on their own in a couple of years.

Cheney has his work cut out for him during this trip -- getting the Sunni Arab powers to comply with Bush's strategy for Iraq is a bulls-eye that only the sharpest diplomatic marksman could hope to hit. We wonder whether, this time around, Cheney has improved his aim.
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« Reply #429 on: June 07, 2007, 08:14:40 AM »

Defeat’s Killing Fields

Published: June 7, 2007
SOME opponents of the Iraq war are toying with the idea of American defeat. A number of them are simply predicting it, while others advocate measures that would make it more likely. Lending intellectual respectability to all this is an argument that takes a strange comfort from the outcome of the Vietnam War. The defeat of the American enterprise in Indochina, it is said, turned out not to be as bad as expected. The United States recovered, and no lasting price was paid.

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Alain Pilon
We beg to differ. Many years ago, the two of us clashed sharply over the wisdom and morality of American policy in Indochina, especially in Cambodia. One of us (Mr. Shawcross) published a book, “Sideshow,” that bitterly criticized Nixon administration policy. The other (Mr. Rodman), a longtime associate of Henry Kissinger, issued a rebuttal in The American Spectator, defending American policy. Decades later, we have not changed our views. But we agreed even then that the outcome in Indochina was indeed disastrous, both in human and geopolitical terms, for the United States and the region. Today we agree equally strongly that the consequences of defeat in Iraq would be even more serious and lasting.

The 1975 Communist victory in Indochina led to horrors that engulfed the region. The victorious Khmer Rouge killed one to two million of their fellow Cambodians in a genocidal, ideological rampage. In Vietnam and Laos, cruel gulags and “re-education” camps enforced repression. Millions of people fled, mostly by boat, with thousands dying in the attempt.

The defeat had a lasting and significant strategic impact. Leonid Brezhnev trumpeted that the global “correlation of forces” had shifted in favor of “socialism,” and the Soviets went on a geopolitical offensive in the third world for a decade. Their invasion of Afghanistan was one result. Demoralized European leaders publicly lamented Soviet aggressiveness and American paralysis.

True, the consequences of defeat were mitigated by various factors. The Nixon-Kissinger breakthrough with China contributed to China’s role as a counterweight to Moscow’s and Hanoi’s new power in Southeast Asia. (Although China, a Khmer Rouge ally, was less scrupulous than the United States about who its partners were.)

And despite the defeat in 1975, America’s 10 years in Indochina had positive effects. Lee Kuan Yew, then prime minister of Singapore, has well articulated how the consequences would have been worse if the United States had not made the effort in Indochina. “Had there been no U.S. intervention,” he argues, the will of non-communist countries to resist communist revolution in the 1960s “would have melted and Southeast Asia would most likely have gone communist.” The domino theory would have proved correct.

Today, in Iraq, there should be no illusion that defeat would come at an acceptable price. George Orwell wrote that the quickest way of ending a war is to lose it. But anyone who thinks an American defeat in Iraq will bring a merciful end to this conflict is deluded. Defeat would produce an explosion of euphoria among all the forces of Islamist extremism, throwing the entire Middle East into even greater upheaval. The likely human and strategic costs are appalling to contemplate. Perhaps that is why so much of the current debate seeks to ignore these consequences.

As in Indochina more than 30 years ago, millions of Iraqis today see the United States helping them defeat their murderous opponents as the only hope for their country. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have committed themselves to working with us and with their democratically elected government to enable their country to rejoin the world as a peaceful, moderate state that is a partner to its neighbors instead of a threat. If we accept defeat, these Iraqis will be at terrible risk. Thousands upon thousands of them will flee, as so many Vietnamese did after 1975.

The new strategy of the coalition and the Iraqis, ably directed by Gen. David Petraeus, offers the best prospect of reversing the direction of events — provided that we show staying power. Osama bin Laden said, a few months after 9/11, that “when people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.” The United States, in his mind, is the weak horse. American defeat in Iraq would embolden the extremists in the Muslim world, demoralize and perhaps destabilize many moderate friendly governments, and accelerate the radicalization of every conflict in the Middle East.

Our conduct in Iraq is a crucial test of our credibility, especially with regard to the looming threat from revolutionary Iran. Our Arab and Israeli friends view Iraq in that wider context. They worry about our domestic debate, which had such a devastating impact on the outcome of the Vietnam War, and they want reassurance.

When government officials argued that American credibility was at stake in Indochina, critics ridiculed the notion. But when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, he and his colleagues invoked Vietnam as a reason not to take American warnings seriously. The United States cannot be strong against Iran — or anywhere — if we accept defeat in Iraq.

Peter W. Rodman, an assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs from 2001 to March, is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. William Shawcross is the author of “Allies: Why the West Had to Remove Saddam.”
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« Reply #430 on: June 14, 2007, 01:08:22 AM »

Newt Gingrich makes a lot of sense to me on this clip.
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« Reply #431 on: July 13, 2007, 07:51:36 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: The Reality of Al Qaeda's Resurgence

A leak from the U.S. defense community revealed a document titled "Al Qaeda better positioned to strike the West" on Thursday, touching off a firestorm of debate within the United States over the status of the war on terror. According to the leak, al Qaeda is "considerably operationally stronger than a year ago," has "regrouped to an extent not seen since 2001" and is "showing greater and greater ability to plan attacks in Europe and the United States."

Stratfor cannot analyze the contents of the report because we have not read it; so far, no one has felt it necessary to commit a felony by leaking this specific document to us. But the general thrust of the document, that al Qaeda has regenerated, is clear. Many of Stratfor's readers have noted that this position clashes with our recently clarified assessment that, while al Qaeda remains dangerous, the group's day in the sun is over.

The first and most important question to ask when looking at this leaked report, then, is which al Qaeda is being discussed. Evolution and misuse of terminology means there are now two.

The first is the al Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks. This group deeply understands how intelligence agencies work, and therefore how to avoid them. After the 9/11 attacks, however, this group's security protocols forced it to go underground, pushing itself deeper into the cave each time it thought one of its assets or plans had been compromised. The result was a steady degradation of capabilities, with its attacks proving less and less significant. Stratfor now estimates that, while this al Qaeda -- which we often refer to as the apex leadership, or al Qaeda prime -- still exists and is still dangerous, it is no longer a strategic threat to the United States. Its members can carry out attacks, but not ones of the grandeur and horror of 9/11, or even of the Madrid bombings, that achieve the group's goal of forcing policy changes on Western governments.

The second al Qaeda is a result of the apex leadership's isolation. It represents a range of largely disconnected Islamist militants who either have been inspired by the real al Qaeda or who seek to use the name to bolster their credibility. While many of these groups are rather amateurish, others are deadly efficient. It is best to think of them as al Qaeda franchises. However, these franchises lack the security policy or vision of their predecessor, and they do not constitute a strategic threat.

The difference between a strategic and a tactical threat is the core distinction, and one that should not be trivialized. There are hundreds of militant groups in the world that pose tactical threats, and many of them are indeed affiliated with al Qaeda in some way. As a bombmaker or expert marksman, a single person possesses the skills to kill many people, but that does not make that individual a strategic threat to the United States.

Posing a strategic threat requires the ability to carry out operations in a foreign land, raise and transfer funds, recruit and relocate people, train and hide promising agents, a multitude of reconnaissance and technical skills, and -- most important -- the ability to do all this while avoiding detection before striking at a target of national importance. Yes, an attack against a local mall or a regional airport would be a calamity, but it would not be the sort of strategic attack against national targets that reshapes Western geopolitics as 9/11 did.

Charging that al Qaeda is as strong now as it was in 2001 simply seems a bridge too far. Prior to 9/11, al Qaeda was running multiple operations across multiple regions simultaneously. Its agents were traveling the globe regularly and operating very much in the open financially. Their vision of resurrecting the caliphate was a large and difficult one. Achieving that vision required mobilizing the Muslim masses, and this required spectacular attacks.

A spectacular attack is what they carried out -- once. Since then, all the apex leadership has done is issue a seemingly endless string of empty threats, and consequently its credibility is in tatters. No one doubts al Qaeda's desire to strike at the United States as hard and as often as possible, but the lack of activity indicates its capabilities simply do not measure up.

And even if al Qaeda did not have a goal that required regular attacks, we would still doubt the veracity of this report. If an intelligence agency has penetrated an organization sufficiently to be aware of its full capabilities, the last thing the agency would want to disclose is this success. The agency would keep its intelligence secret until it had neutralized the militants. Shouting to the world that it knows what the militants are up to tells the militants they have been penetrated and starts them on the process of going underground and sealing the leak.

Which, of course, raises the question: What is this report actually seeking to accomplish? That depends on who commissioned the report in the first place, and -- considering the size of the U.S. intelligence community -- it could well mean just about anything. A partial list of justifications could include:
an effort to pressure Pakistan into cracking down on al Qaeda for fear that the group is just about ready to launch another attack,

an effort by the U.S. administration to regenerate its political fortunes by reconsolidating national security conservatives under its wing,

a plea for more funding for this or that branch of U.S. security forces,

a general warning to force any militants currently planning attacks to pull back and reassess -- in essence, an effort by intelligence services to disrupt any cells they have been unable to penetrate,

or even an effort by one branch of the government to discredit the efforts of another.
But regardless of which memos are floating around in Washington these days, al Qaeda prime is not feeling all that confident of late. In his most recent taped release (al Qaeda's attacks have sputtered but its multimedia arm is booming), deputy al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri calls on Muslims everywhere to focus their efforts on the jihad in Afghanistan. He does not focus on Iraq, where the fires burn bright, or on Pakistan, where the apex leadership resides.

It appears the Pakistani government is on the verge of finally moving in force against al Qaeda in the country, and a looming U.S.-Iranian rapprochement is making the position of foreign jihadists in Iraq increasingly tenuous. That leaves the movement with only the mountains of Afghanistan for shelter. After all, there is no spot on the globe farther away from what the West might consider friendly shores.
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« Reply #432 on: October 11, 2007, 05:57:38 AM »

Caveat lector-- its the NY Times

Marines Press to Remove Their Forces From Iraq
Published: October 11, 2007
WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 — The Marine Corps is pressing to remove its forces from Iraq and to send marines instead to Afghanistan, to take over the leading role in combat there, according to senior military and Pentagon officials.

The idea by the Marine Corps commandant would effectively leave the Iraq war in the hands of the Army while giving the Marines a prominent new role in Afghanistan, under overall NATO command.

The suggestion was raised in a session last week convened by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and regional war-fighting commanders. While still under review, its supporters, including some in the Army, argue that a realignment could allow the Army and Marines each to operate more efficiently in sustaining troop levels for two wars that have put a strain on their forces.

As described by officials who had been briefed on the closed-door discussion, the idea represents the first tangible new thinking to emerge since the White House last month endorsed a plan to begin gradual troop withdrawals from Iraq, but also signals that American forces likely will be in Iraq for years to come.

At the moment, there are no major Marine units among the 26,000 or so American forces in Afghanistan. In Iraq there are about 25,000 marines among the 160,000 American troops there.

It is not clear exactly how many of the marines in Iraq would be moved over. But the plan would require a major reshuffling, and it would make marines the dominant American force in Afghanistan, in a war that has broader public support than the one in Iraq.

Mr. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have not spoken publicly about the Marine concept, and aides to both officials said no formal proposal had been presented by the Marines. But the idea has been the focus of intense discussions between senior Marine Corps officers and other officials within the Defense Department.

It is not clear whether the Army would support the idea. But some officials sympathetic to the Army said that such a realignment would help ease some pressure on the Army, by allowing it to shift forces from Afghanistan into Iraq, and by simplifying planning for future troop rotations.

The Marine proposal could also face resistance from the Air Force, whose current role in providing combat aircraft for Afghanistan could be squeezed if the overall mission was handed to the Marines. Unlike the Army, the Marines would bring a significant force of combat aircraft to that conflict.

Whether the Marine proposal takes hold, the most delicate counterterrorism missions in Afghanistan, including the hunt for forces of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, would remain the job of a military task force that draws on Army, Navy and Air Force Special Operations units.

Military officials say the Marine proposal is also an early indication of jockeying among the four armed services for a place in combat missions in years to come. “At the end of the day, this could be decided by parochialism, and making sure each service does not lose equity, as much as on how best to manage the risk of force levels for Iraq and Afghanistan,” said one Pentagon planner.

Tensions over how to divide future budgets have begun to resurface across the military because of apprehension that Congressional support for large increases in defense spending seen since the Sept. 11 attacks will diminish, leaving the services to compete for money.

Those traditional turf battles have subsided somewhat given the overwhelming demands of waging two simultaneous wars — and because Pentagon budgets reached new heights.

Last week, the Senate approved a $459 billion Pentagon spending bill, an increase of $43 billion, or more than 10 percent over the last budget. That bill did not include, as part of a separate bill, President Bush’s request for almost $190 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senior officials briefed on the Marine Corps concept said the new idea went beyond simply drawing clearer lines about who was in charge of providing combat personnel, war-fighting equipment and supplies to the two war zones.

They said it would allow the Marines to carry out the Afghan mission in a way the Army cannot, by deploying as an integrated Marine Corps task force that included combat aircraft as well as infantry and armored vehicles, while the Army must rely on the Air Force.

The Marine Corps concept was raised last week during a Defense Senior Leadership Conference convened by Mr. Gates just hours after Admiral Mullen was sworn in as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

During that session, the idea of assigning the Afghan mission to the Marines was described by Gen. James T. Conway, the Marine Corps commandant. Details of the discussion were provided by military officers and Pentagon civilian officials briefed on the session and who requested anonymity to summarize portions of the private talks.

The Marine Corps has recently played the leading combat role in Anbar Province, the restive Sunni area west of Baghdad.


Page 2 of 2)

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the senior Army officer in Iraq, and his No. 2 commander, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, also of the Army, have described Anbar Province as a significant success story, with local tribal leaders joining the fight against terrorists.

Both generals strongly hint that if the security situation in Anbar holds steady, then reductions of American forces can be expected in the province, which could free up Marine units to move elsewhere.

In recent years, the emphasis by the Pentagon has been on joint operations that blur the lines between the military services, but there is also considerable precedent for geographic divisions in their duties. For much of the Vietnam War, responsibility was divided region by region between the Army and the Marines. As described by military planners, the Marine proposal would allow Marine units moved to Afghanistan to take over the tasks now performed by an Army headquarters unit and two brigade combat teams operating in eastern Afghanistan.

That would ease the strain on the Army and allow it to focus on managing overall troop numbers for Iraq, as well as movements of forces inside the country as required by commanders to meet emerging threats.

The American military prides itself on the ability to go to war as a “joint force,” with all of the armed services intermixed on the battlefield — vastly different from past wars when more primitive communications required separate ground units to fight within narrowly defined lanes to make sure they did not cross into the fire of friendly forces.

The Marine Corps is designed to fight with other services — it is based overseas aboard Navy ships and is intertwined with the Army in Iraq. At the same time, the Marines also are designed to be an agile, “expeditionary” force on call for quick deployment, and thus can go to war with everything needed to carry out the mission — troops, armor, attack jets and supplies.

General Petraeus is due to report back to Congress by March on his troop requirements beyond the summer. His request for forces will be analyzed by the military’s Central Command, which oversees combat missions across the Middle East and Southwest Asia, and by the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. All troop deployment orders must be approved by Mr. Gates, with the separate armed services then assigned to supply specific numbers of troops and equipment.

Marines train to fight in what is called a Marine Air-Ground Task Force. That term refers to a Marine deployment that arrives in a combat zone complete with its own headquarters, infantry combat troops, armored and transport vehicles and attack jets for close-air support, as well as logistics and support personnel.

“This is not about trading one ground war for another,” said one Pentagon official briefed on the Marine concept. “It is about the nature of the fight in Afghanistan, and figuring out whether the Afghan mission lends itself more readily to the integrated MAGTF deployment than even Iraq.”
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« Reply #433 on: October 17, 2007, 02:25:42 PM »

October 17, 2007, 4:00 a.m.

Listen to the Enemy
The stakes.

By Jack David

The nation vociferously debates Iraq: We have lost the war, Iraq’s government is not doing its part, the surge is working, the surge is not working, we need to cut our losses, we need to stay till the job is done. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden is telling us that Iraq now is al Qaeda’s main battleground and that the only way forward for the United States is for every American to convert to Islam. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad advises us to solve the problem of our Iraq involvement by turning that nation over to Iran.Debate participants, in proposing their nostrums, pay virtually no heed to either Osama or Mahmoud.

Watch the enemy and listen to him, and four factors emerge as central to any analysis of what is at stake for the U.S. in Iraq:

First, Iran and al Qaeda both want to establish Islamofascist rule in the Middle East and hope to extend it everywhere else.

Second, their leaders have made it clear that control over Iraq is central to their plans.

Third, the Middle East produces the lion’s share of the world’s oil and control over Iraq goes a long way toward controlling all of it.

Fourth, as both al Qaeda and Iran have said over and again, directly and indirectly, nothing less than total victory will cause them to abandon their goals and their methods.

Although these factors indicate that we have no choice in the matter of allowing control of Iraq to fall to Iran or to al Qaeda, they are virtually ignored in the current debate.

The Iranian government’s ambitions for hegemony are evident from its actions. Force and intimidation are the methods it is using to extend its dominion. It already is engaged in an undeclared war with its neighbors, with others in the region and with the West. It uses force indirectly through terrorist proxies: Hezbollah and al Qaeda-linked Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon, Hamas, and Jihad Islami in Gaza and Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias in Iraq. It uses proxies to kill Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan and to kill adversaries elsewhere. It is conserving its own forces for later in the fight. It is developing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles that already can reach Europe and soon will be able to reach North America. It beats, tortures, and murders its own people for engaging in conduct that is ordinary in the West.

Al Qaeda also has told us repeatedly that its goal is to reestablish the caliphate. Osama tells us to convert. Al Qaeda differs from Iran in that it doesn’t have a secure geographic and population base and in that it wants to create a homogenized Sunni caliphate while Iran seeks a Shiia-led Islamist empire. Al Qaeda uses terrorism directly, has sought WMD and already has initiated attacks in the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and elsewhere. Plainly, if it gains control of Iraq, that country will become a secure base for launching terror operations around the world.

The ambitions of al Qaeda and Iran and the means they use to pursue them are an existing threat to the United States and its allies. Since al Qaeda and Iran are at war with us and make it clear that nothing less than the victory they seek will satisfy them, we have no choice but to oppose them, to do what we can to diminish the chance that either will succeed and to reduce the ultimate cost to us of whatever we need to do to assure that they are not victorious. The questions of whether the U.S. should stay in Iraq and what its goals there should be ought to be discussed in this context.

So why is control of Iraq important to al Qaeda and to Iran? Control of Iraq would go a long way toward giving al Qaeda or Iran control over most of the world’s supply of oil, not only because of Iraq’s own reserves, but also because it would provide al Qaeda or Iran with overland access to both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The threat of further aggression would be a powerful weapon and control of the oil would be yet another weapon to use in advancing their goals. The results would be catastrophic. Terrible personal suffering for countless millions, and even war would result.

We cannot wish away the wars al Qaeda and Iran are waging against us. Preventing Iran and al Qaeda from gaining control of Iraq is a vital U.S. interest and a central near-term objective in those wars. Those who think otherwise have not listened to the enemy.

— Jack David, a member of the Committee on the Present Danger, served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for combating weapons of mass destruction and negotiations policy from 2004 to 2006.

National Review Online -
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« Reply #434 on: November 18, 2007, 08:27:17 AM »
Shattering Conventional Wisdom About Saddam's WMD's   
By John Loftus | Friday, November 16, 2007

Finally, there are some definitive answers to the mystery of the missing WMD. Civilian volunteers, mostly retired intelligence officers belonging to the non-partisan, have been poring over the secret archives captured from Saddam Hussein. The inescapable conclusion is this: Saddam really did have WMD after all, but not in the way the Bush administration believed. A 9,000 word research paper with citations to each captured document has been posted online at, along with translations of the captured Iraqi documents, courtesy of Mr. Ryan Mauro and his friends.

This Iraqi document research has been supplemented with satellite photographs and dozens of interviews, among them David Gaubatz who risked radiation exposure to locate Saddam’s underwater WMD warehouses , and John Shaw, whose brilliant detective work solved the puzzle of where the WMD went. Both have contributed substantially to solving one of the most difficult mysteries of our decade.

The absolutists on either side of the WMD debate will be more than a bit chagrinned at these disclosures. The documents show a much more complex history than previously suspected. The "Bush lied, people died" chorus has insisted that Saddam had no WMD whatsoever after 1991 - and thus that WMD was no good reason for the war. The Neocon diehards insist that, as in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the treasure-trove is still out there somewhere, buried under the sand dunes of Iraq. Each side is more than a little bit wrong about Saddam's WMD, and each side is only a little bit right about what happened to it.

The gist of the new evidence is this: roughly one quarter of Saddam's WMD was destroyed under UN pressure during the early to mid 1990's. Saddam sold approximately another quarter of his weapons stockpile to his Arab neighbors during the mid to late 1990's. The Russians insisted on removing another quarter in the last few months before the war. The last remaining WMD, the contents of Saddam's nuclear weapons labs, were still inside Iraq on the day when the coalition forces arrived in 2003. His nuclear weapons equipment was hidden in enormous underwater warehouses beneath the Euphrates River. Saddam’s entire nuclear inventory was later stolen from these warehouses right out from under the Americans’ noses. The theft of the unguarded Iraqi nuclear stockpile is perhaps, the worst scandal of the war, suggesting a level of extreme incompetence and gross dereliction of duty that makes the Hurricane Katrina debacle look like a model of efficiency.

Without pointing fingers at the Americans, the Israeli government now believes that Saddam Hussein’s nuclear stockpiles have ended up in weapons dumps in Syria. Debkafile, a somewhat reliable private Israeli intelligence service, has recently published a report claiming that the Syrians were importing North Korean plutonium to be mixed with Saddam’s enriched uranium. Allegedly, the Syrians were close to completing a warhead factory next to Saddam’s WMD dump in Deir al Zour, Syria to produce hundreds, if not thousands, of super toxic “dirty bombs” that would pollute wherever they landed in Israel for the next several thousands of years. Debka alleged that it was this combination factory/WMD dump site which was the target of the recent Israeli air strike in Deir al Zour province..

Senior sources in the Israeli government have privately confirmed to me that the recent New York Times articles and satellite photographs about the Israeli raid on an alleged Syrian nuclear target in Al Tabitha, Syria were of the completely wrong location. Armed with this knowledge, I searched Google Earth satellite photos for the rest of the province of Deir al Zour for a site that would match the unofficial Israeli descriptions: camouflaged black factory building, next to a military ammunition dump, between an airport and an orchard. There is a clear match in only one location, Longitude 35 degrees, 16 minutes 49.31 seconds North, Latitude 40 degrees, 3 minutes, 29.97 seconds East. Analysts and members of the public are invited to determine for themselves whether this was indeed the weapons dump for Saddam’s WMD.

Photos of this complex taken after the Israel raid appear to show that all of the buildings, earthern blast berms, bunkers, roads, even the acres of blackened topsoil, have all been dug up and removed. All that remains are what appear to be smoothed over bomb craters. Of course, that is not of itself definitive proof, but it is extremely suspicious.

It should be noted that the American interrogators had accurate information about a possible Deir al Zour location shortly after the war, but ignored it:

"An Iraqi dissident going by the name of "Abu Abdallah" claims that on March 10, 2003, 50 trucks arrived in Deir Al-Zour, Syria after being loaded in Baghdad. …Abdallah approached his friend who was hesitant to confirm the WMD shipment, but did after Abdallah explained what his sources informed him of. The friend told him not to tell anyone about the shipment."

These interrogation reports should be re-evaluated in light of the recently opened Iraqi secret archives, which we submit are the best evidence. But the captured document evidence should not be overstated. It must be emphasized that there is no one captured Saddam document which mentions both the possession of WMD and the movement to Syria.

Moreover, many of Saddam's own tapes and documents concerning chemical and biological weapons are ambiguous. When read together as a mosaic whole, Saddam's secret files certainly make a persuasive case of massive WMD acquisition right up to a few months before the war. Not only was he buying banned precursors for nerve gas, he was ordering the chemicals to make Zyklon B, the Nazis favorite gas at Auschwitz. However odious and well documented his purchases in 2002, there is no direct evidence of any CW or BW actually remaining inside Iraq on the day the war started in 2003. As stated in more detail in my full report, the British, Ukrainian and American secret services all believed that the Russians had organized a last minute evacuation of CW and BW stockpiles from Baghdad to Syria.

We know from Saddam’s documents that huge quantities of CW and BW were in fact produced, and there is no record of their destruction. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Therefore, at least as to chemical and biological weapons, the evidence is compelling, but not conclusive. There is no one individual document or audiotape that contains a smoking gun.

There is no ambiguity, however, about captured tape ISGQ-2003-M0007379, in which Saddam is briefed on his secret nuclear weapons project. This meeting clearly took place in 2002 or afterwards: almost a decade after the State Department claimed that Saddam had abandoned his nuclear weapons research.

Moreover the tape describes a laser enrichment process for uranium that had never been known by the UN inspectors to even exist in Iraq, and Saddam's nuclear briefers on the tape were Iraqi scientists who had never been on any weapons inspector’s list. The tape explicitly discusses how civilian plasma research could be used as a cover for military plasma research necessary to build a hydrogen bomb.

When this tape came to the attention of the International Intelligence Summit, a non-profit, non-partisan educational forum focusing on global intelligence affairs, the organization asked the NSA to verify the voiceprints of Saddam and his cronies, invited a certified translator to present Saddam’s nuclear tapes to the public, and then invited leading intelligence analysts to comment.

At the direct request of the Summit, President Bush promptly overruled his national intelligence adviser, John Negroponte, a career State Department man, and ordered that the rest of the captured Saddam tapes and documents be reviewed as rapidly as possible. The Intelligence Summit asked that Saddam's tapes and documents be posted on a public website so that Arabic-speaking volunteers could help with the translation and analysis.

At first, the public website seemed like a good idea. Another document was quickly discovered, dated November 2002, describing an expensive plan to remove radioactive contamination from an isotope production building. The document cites the return of UNMOVIC inspectors as the reason for cleaning up the evidence of radioactivity. This is not far from a smoking gun: there were not supposed to be any nuclear production plants in Iraq in 2002.

Then a barrage of near-smoking guns opened up. Document after document from Saddam's files was posted unread on the public website, each one describing how to make a nuclear bomb in more detail than the last. These documents, dated just before the war, show that Saddam had accumulated just about every secret there was for the construction of nuclear weapons. The Iraqi intelligence files contain so much accurate information on the atom bomb that the translators’ public website had to be closed for reasons of national security.

If Saddam had nuclear weapons facilities, where was he hiding them? Iraqi informants showed US investigators where Saddam had constructed huge underwater storage facilities beneath the Euphrates River. The tunnel entrances were still sealed with tons of concrete. The US investigators who approached the sealed entrances were later determined to have been exposed to radiation. Incredibly, their reports were lost in the postwar confusion, and Saddam’s underground nuclear storage sites were left unguarded for the next three years. Still, the eyewitness testimony about the sealed underwater warehouses matched with radiation exposure is strong circumstantial evidence that some amount of radioactive material was still present in Iraq on the day the war began.

Our volunteer researchers discovered the actual movement order from the Iraqi high command ordering all the remaining special equipment to be moved into the underground sites only a few weeks before the onset of the war. The date of the movement order suggests that President Bush, who clearly knew nothing of the specifics of the underground nuclear sites, or even that a nuclear weapons program still existed in Iraq, may have been accidentally correct about the main point of the war: the discovery of Saddam’s secret nuclear program, even in hindsight, arguably provides sufficient legal justification for the previous use of force.

Saddam’s nuclear documents compel any reasonable person to the conclusion that, more probably than not, there were in fact nuclear WMD sites, components, and programs hidden inside Iraq at the time the Coalition forces invaded. In view of these newly discovered documents, it can be concluded, more probably than not, that Saddam did have a nuclear weapons program in 2001-2002, and that it is reasonably certain that he would have continued his efforts towards making a nuclear bomb in 2003 had he not been stopped by the Coalition forces. Four years after the war began, we still do not have all the answers, but we have many of them. Ninety percent of the Saddam files have never been read, let alone translated. It is time to utterly reject the conventional wisdom that there were no WMD in Iraq and look to the best evidence: Saddam’s own files on WMD. The truth is what it is, the documents speak for themselves.

John Loftus is President of, which is entirely free of government funding, and depends solely upon private contributions for its support. The full research paper on Iraqi WMD, along with the supporting documents and photographs can be found at
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« Reply #435 on: November 19, 2007, 03:36:17 PM »

I found the previous post here about Saddam's WMD to be the most helpful so far.  They outline a scenario that is believable and backed up in bits and pieces, though they admit without a single smoking gun.  New information makes the administration and coalition look bad, but as they write, correct by accident.   They also prove false IMO the refrain of the critics - that Saddam posed no threat.

The captured documents in need of translation had to be pulled from the internet site when it turned out they contained extremely precise information on how to build nuclear weapons.  I'm sure more details on all of this will emerge as more translations are done.

It is quite scary that we still don't have enough translators to handle our intelligence and informational requirements for security.  Meanwhile our troops are still in harm's way without all the information available that they need.  No widespread attempt is yet being made that I am aware of to teach our troops Arabic, either at home or while serving in Iraq.

The information on Syria is interesting, but certainly not conclusive.  I remember the Debka reports from back then.  This report claims that Israel recently hit the wrong spot, but they seem to have something on Syria who remained amazingly silent about the attack.

To be continued, I'm sure.
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« Reply #436 on: December 25, 2009, 03:09:40 PM »

Didn't really know where to post this, so decided to put it here:

A Dec. 24 raid by the government of Yemen against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has reportedly killed several senior leaders of the group. If these reports are confirmed, the operation could have far-reaching implications for the group and for the security for the Arabian Peninsula.

At 4:30 a.m. local time on Dec. 24, the government of Yemen launched an operation in the Rafadh area of al-Said district in the Shabwa province southeast of Sanaa. The operation, which reportedly involved an airstrike and a coordinated ground assault, was apparently targeting militants associated with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The Yemeni authorities are reporting that between 31 and 34 AQAP members were killed and 29 arrested in the operation. The Yemeni sources also advise that among those killed and arrested in the raid were several foreigners, including militants from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iraq.

According to STRATFOR sources, Anwar al-Awlaki the American-Yemeni cleric, who is well-known for his ties to U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan (who attacked a group of U.S Army soldiers at Fort Hood), was the primary target of the operation. STRATFOR sources have also said that as Yemeni authorities were watching al-Awlaki’s safe house, a number of other AQAP leaders arrived at the location to meet with the radical cleric.

Yemen is now reporting that it appears the operation also resulted in the deaths of other major AQAP leaders, including the group’s leader and former secretary to Osama bin Laden, Nasir al-Wahayshi, his Saudi deputy, Abu-Sayyaf al-Shihri (who is a former Guantanamo detainee), and another high-ranking operative, Mohammad Ahmed Saleh Umer, who was seen just days before on a widely disseminated videotape preaching openly to crowds in Abyan. The Yemeni authorities are attempting to verify the identities of all those killed in the strike, in order to confirm the deaths of these senior AQAP figures.

(click here to enlarge image)
The operation to target al-Awlaki was apparently aided by his recent interview with the television network Al Jazeera. The interview, which was posted to Al Jazeera’s Web site on Dec. 23, could have provided Yemeni or U.S. intelligence the opportunity to locate al-Awlaki. The interview — like the public speeches recently made by AQAP leaders in front of crowds in Abyan — may have been a deadly lapse of operational security.

If it is confirmed that al-Wahayshi and al-Shihri were indeed killed in the strike, the operation would be a devastating blow to the resurgent al Qaeda node in the Arabian Peninsula. The organization has been under considerable pressure in recent weeks. Thursday’s raid follows similar raids last week in Abyan and Sanaa provinces that resulted in the deaths of some 34 AQAP members, including high-ranking operative Mohammed Ali al-Kazemi, and the arrests of 17 other AQAP militants.

This is not the first time al Qaeda-affiliated militants in Yemen have been struck. In November 2002, the CIA launched a predator drone strike against Abu Ali al-Harithi and five confederates in Marib. That strike essentially decapitated the al Qaeda node in Yemen and greatly reduced their operational effectiveness. The arrest of al-Harithi’s replacement, Muhammad Hamdi al-Ahdal, a year later, was another crippling blow to the organization.

In 2003 as part of an extradition agreement with Iran, Nasir al-Wahayshi was returned to Yemen. In February 2006, al-Wahayshi and 22 other prisoners escaped from a prison in Sanaa, beginning a second phase of al Qaeda’s operations in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula. With the help of other senior jihadist operatives like Qasim al-Rami — who reportedly managed to escape last week’s raids — al-Wahayshi, who assumed leadership of the group in mid-2007, managed to rebuild the organizational structure of al Qaeda in Yemen into a more cohesive, structured and effective organization. Under al-Wahayshi’s leadership, the al Qaeda-affiliated militants in Yemen have experienced a marked resurgence. Al-Wahayahi’s organization in Yemen was even strong enough to adopt the al Qaeda-linked militants who were forced to flee Saudi Arabia in the face of the Saudi government’s campaign against al Qaeda in the Kingdom, formally announcing the formation of AQAP in January 2009.

Although al-Wahayshi’s followers have not realized a great deal of tactical success, they have launched several high-profile attacks, including the Mar. 18, 2008 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa and the Aug. 28, 2009 assassination attempt against Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi Deputy Interior Minister.

As STRATFOR has long noted, effective leadership is a key element in the effectiveness of militant organizations. If Yemeni forces were in fact successful in killing al-Wahayshi, al-Shihri, Mohammad Ahmed Saleh Umer, Anwar al-Awlaki — in addition to the death of Mohammed Ali al-Kazemi last week — AQAP has indeed suffered a significant organizational blow. The long-term consequences of these developments in Yemen, and their consequences for the security of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, will depend largely upon the leadership transition plan the group had in place (if there was one), and the personal abilities of the man who will step in to assume leadership of the group. In the face of such adversity, it will take an individual with a rare combination of charisma and leadership to quickly rebuild AQAP’s capabilities.
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« Reply #437 on: December 25, 2009, 06:40:26 PM »

Apparently they missed al-Awlaki or it could be a smoke screen

Radical Yemeni cleric believed unhurt in airstrike

By AHMED AL-HAJ, Associated Press Writer – Fri Dec 25, 1:28 pm ET

SAN'A, Yemen – A U.S.-born radical cleric is alive and well following reports he may have been killed in a Yemeni airstrike against suspected al-Qaida hideouts, friends and relatives said Friday.

The government said it targeted a meeting of high-level al-Qaida operatives in Thursday's airstrike in the remote Shabwa region. It claimed at least 30 militants were killed, possibly including Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical cleric who has been linked to the shooter in last month's attack at the Fort Hood military base in the U.S.

On Friday, a friend of the cleric, Abu Bakr al-Awlaki, told The Associated Press he was not among those killed. He refused to say if the cleric was attending the meeting.

Abu Bakr al-Awlaki was in Shabwa and in contact with the gunmen in control of the area following the strike. He is not related to the cleric, but the two are from the same tribe and carry the same last name.

Thursday's airstrikes were the second in a week against al-Qaida and were carried out with U.S. and Saudi intelligence help. The newly aggressive Yemeni campaign, backed by American aid, reflects Washington's fears that the terror network could turn this fragmented, unstable nation into an Afghanistan-like refuge in a highly strategic location on the border with oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni government said it struck a gathering of senior al-Qaida figures in Rafd, a remote mountain valley in eastern Shabwa province, where they were plotting new terror attacks.

In addition to al-Awlaki, the top leader of al-Qaida's branch in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, Naser Abdel-Karim al-Wahishi, and his deputy Saeed al-Shihri were also believed to be at the meeting, Yemen's Supreme Security Committee said.

But Yemeni officials still have no access to the area, which is controlled by armed gunmen and supporters of al-Qaida, and could not confirm for certain who was killed in the attack.

Saudi officials were not immediately available for comment on Friday.

In Washington, a U.S. government official who was briefed on the strike told The Associated Press that there has been no confirmation yet of who was killed in the strike. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the attack.

Al-Awlaki was born in the United States and moved back to Yemen in 2002. Al-Awlaki reportedly corresponded by e-mail with Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who is charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov.5.

People close to al-Alwaki said it is unlikely the cleric would be sitting through a field meeting convened by fighters, considering he saw his role as a scholar and one that gives religious advises and rulings.

The cleric's brother, who only agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said he also received assurances that his older sibling is still alive.

A tribal chief in Shabwa, who only used his alias Abu Mohammed, said he was informed that Anwar al-Alwaki was alive and is unharmed. He refused to elaborate.

So far, residents of the area and relatives of those killed say six bodies have been retrieved from the area of the strike and buried. The relatives spoke on condition of anonymity because they were still at the area controlled by the gunmen.


Denny Schlesinger
« Reply #438 on: December 26, 2009, 10:22:49 AM »

In Washington, a U.S. government official who was briefed on the strike told The Associated Press that there has been no confirmation yet of who was killed in the strike. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the attack.

LOL!  It is an arranged leak, any official this close to the situation knows such a statement could be traced back to him in about 3 heartbeats.  In giving this reassurance that "we know what is going on" what is being given up?  A question to ask when dealing with intel..

I hope they got a whole bunch, but then again who carried out the strikes?  that is the real point since some of these air forces are happy to take off and land without breaking a plane, much less being capable of sucessful strikes.
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