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February 27, 2007

Russia

Poles, Czechs Meet Putin At Reykjavik

Resolve Of The Past Emerges In Today's Missile Defense Debate

By Steve Schippert | February 27, 2007

In Sunday's Boston Herald, an excellent editorial lauded the Czechs and the Poles for not backing down to Russia's threats over the stationing of a missile defense system on their soil. Both countries, now NATO members, remember well Moscow's relentless grip on their peoples before the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Russia currently is doing their best to rekindle the threatening resolve of Nikita Khrushchev in opposition to the Czechs and Poles hosting an American anti-missile defense system intended to protect Europe from a potential threat from Iran's progressing missile and nuclear programs. And the Poles and Czechs simply refuse to be bullied or blackmailed by their former masters.

The Czechs and the Poles have agreed to host anti-missile installations to guard against possible attacks from Iran. The plan calls for 10 interceptor missiles to be based in Poland and their radar guidance system in the Czech Republic.

If the installations go forward, said Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, commander of Russia’s missile forces, his troops “will be able to have those facilities as targets.” Earlier, Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, chief of the general staff, said Russia could withdraw from the intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty which bans the basing of offensive missiles in Europe.

“You have to make it clear to them you won’t succumb to blackmail,” said the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg. Amen.

The missile defense system is absolutely no threat to the Russians, unless of course they intend on launching a missile attack on or over Europe. Even then, the system planned is small and intended to defend against a limited attack from Iran. Such a ten missile defense system could be easily overwhelmed by a Russian salvo.

The Boston Herald editorial concluded right on point, asserting that Russia cannot claim to be surprised, as they were informed by NATO this past fall. The vociferous Russian objection, it says, "appears to be part of the anti-American rhetorical campaign of President Vladimir Putin, a campaign whose ultimate aim is, as it so often is with Russia, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma."

Or perhaps not so mysterious, as there is clarity in the company they keep.

Palestinian terrorist group Hamas' leader Khaled Meshaal praised Russia for working to end the embargo on the Hamas-led PA. It should also not be lost on observers Russia's actions after Meshaal's terrorist organization won majority representation in Palestinian elections one year ago. While the West was cutting funding to a PA now run by a terrorist organization, Russia invited Hamas leaders to Moscow and initially pledged to provide 50 armored personnel carriers and two helicopters to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, a pledge it backed away from under pressure.

Meshaal maintains his terrorist headquarters in Syria, to whom Russia is set to deliver thousands of anti-tank missiles. Syria may be in short supply of anti-tank missiles since Hizballah's war with Israel. The Syrian-supported terrorist group in Lebanon had large supplies of Russian-design Kornet AT-14 and Metis AT-13 anti-tank weapons on hand and used them to eliminate Merkava tanks and to fire them into buildings containing IDF soldiers. Russia also manned listening posts in Syria during the Hizballah-Israel war this past summer, funneling information of IDF movements to Hizballah in southern Lebanon.

Hizballah is a creation of Iran's Qods Force, largely led, fed and directed from Tehran and, as Hizballah's Hassan Nasrallah said himself, "And [Iran's] help is funneled through Syria, and everybody knows it." In fact, the world's two principal state sponsors of terrorism Iran [$1.7B] and Syria [$800M] were Russia's top two weapons clients from 2002 to 2005, according to the Congressional Research Service. While Israel purchased $300M as well, this was represented primarily by the sale of Il-76 early warning aircraft of little defense against the terror war being prosecuted against them by Russian-supplied Syria and Iran.

Of course, larger Russian systems are not out of the question for either of the terror sponsors. Considering Russia's extensive nuclear and missile technology assistance to Iran, including the ongoing construction of Iran's Bushehr nuclear facility, the relationship between the atheistic Russian state and the Iranian theocracy can be considered somewhat an enigma on its face. Even still, with another UNSC enrichment cessation deadline ignored, as a participant in the 'P5+1' talks on Iran's continued intransigence, Russia questions the 'usefulness' of more Iran sanctions over its nuclear program.

Russia is not only building and assisting Iran's nuclear facilities, it is defending them with Russian TOR-M1 missiles, purchased recently under a $700 million contract with the mullah regime despite Western protests.

It is the ballistic missile technology provided to Iran by Russia as well as China and North Korea that the Europeans seek a modicum of defense from - to say nothing of the Iranian sprint to tip them with nuclear warheads. The system's willing hosts with fresh memories of brutal Soviet dominance, the Czech Republic and Poland are clearly not Iran and Syria. Putin's Russia, on the other hand, is still Russia.

The Czechs and Poles have met Putin at Reykjavik. Faced with a Russia demanding they not defend themselves, their leaders seem to have summoned up a great resolve from the past and reported to the Polish and Czech peoples, "This we could not and would not do." And they, too, said "No," and went home.

February 23, 2007

Iraq

America's Ever-Lasting Threat

If America Halts Its War Against Terrorism, Our Enemies Won't Return the Favor

By Kyle Dabruzzi | February 23, 2007

In the battle against al-Qaeda and like-minded jihadists, the West is doing a less than satisfactory job of understanding its enemy. There is a line in Sun Tzu’s famous work The Art of War that states: “If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.” Although The Art of War was written in the 6th century BC, its message applies to the battle facing us all today. If the West truly knew its enemy, it might reconsider some of proposed actions relating to the war in Iraq.

Congress, for example, has begun to make its intentions for the Iraq war, and by association the war on terror, abundantly clear. The war in Iraq is seen as futile and the Senate has introduced legislation indicating that it is not in the best interest of the United States to deepen its military presence in Iraq. Proposed legislation includes Senator Obama's call for the phased redeployment of our forces from Iraq to begin no later than May 1, 2007; with a similar bill introduced in the House. Senator Clinton has gone a step further, calling for troops to start withdrawing from Iraq in 90 days. And we now expect a bill to prevent US forces from engaging in activities other than fighting al-Qaeda, training Iraqi forces and securing the borders of Iraq.

To be fair, there have been many blunders surrounding the Iraq war plan. The government has acknowledged that the war in Iraq was not grounded on accurate intelligence. Although around 550 shells filled with Sarin and mustard gas were uncovered in Iraq, large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction were never found. In addition, the pre-war Iraq war plan was ill-conceived. In his book Fiasco (Penguin, 2006), Thomas Ricks details the Pentagon’s failure to come up with a Phase 4 plan, which would have included post-invasion operations including security, stabilization and reconstruction.

These errors aside, the fact remains that Iraq continues to host an insurgency that is bent on destroying American forces. While many view the insurgency as being comprised of nationalist Iraqi Sunnis and former Ba’athists, the insurgency has been co-opted by foreign jihadists fighting under the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Qaeda in Iraq. The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, issued a statement on February 3, 2007 indicating:

We [hereby] inform the Sunnis of a [new] plan called the Plan of Honor, which is more comprehensive and more perfect [than the existing plan] and includes not only Baghdad but all parts of the Islamic State [of Iraq]... [This plan] will end with Bush announcing the failure of his [security] plan and signing an agreement of defeat... The goals of the plan are: to defend our people and our honor; to rout out the invaders and eradicate the remaining pockets and bases of heresy; to butcher the wounded Crusader tyrant and take advantage of the collapse of morale among [the Crusader] soldiers and commanders; to unite the ranks of the mujahideen and to strengthen the foundations of the Islamic State [of Iraq].

While al-Baghdadi’s statements seem to echo the typical rants of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, it also highlights the willingness of our enemies to do anything to harm us. Congress’ intent on halting troop increases and even calling for the phased withdrawal of our troops from Iraq increases our enemy’s confidence. If Congress understood the long-term goals of groups like the Islamic State of Iraq, their intentions might be different.

Although the war against Islamic extremism is relatively new, radical Islam’s vitriol and hatred of the West has existed for centuries. To understand this hatred, it’s worthwhile to actually read the works of those ideologues whom jihadists derive their worldviews from. In this capacity, Mary Habeck provides an excellent analysis of extremist thought in her book Knowing the Enemy (Yale University Press, 2006).

Two of the four ideologues that Habeck introduces develop ideas about the West’s policy towards Islam and how Muslims should react. The first is Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian intellectual who is considered to be the leading theological inspiration for the Muslim Brotherhood and many other jihadists. In his famous book, Milestones, Qutb dedicates an entire chapter to the notion of jihad. In that chapter, he talks specifically about the idea of the West adopting a retreatist policy towards Islam.

It may happen that the enemies of Islam may consider it expedient not to take any action against Islam, if Islam leaves them alone in their geographical boundaries to continue the lordship of some men over others and does not extend its message and its declaration of universal freedom within their domain. But Islam cannot agree to this unless they submit to its authority by paying Jizyah, which will be a guarantee that they have opened their doors for the preaching of Islam and will not put any obstacle in its way through the power of the state… Indeed, Islam has the right to take the initiative. Islam is not a heritage of any particular race or country; this is God's religion and it is for the whole world. It has the right to destroy all obstacles in the form of institutions and traditions which limit man's freedom of choice.

Clearly, Qutb believed that even if the West left Islam alone, its war with the West would not subside. Indeed, Qutb argues that it is the duty and right of Islam to take the initiative and spread its ideology to non-Islamic governments, by force if necessary. For Qutb, Islam frees individuals from servitude of other men, i.e. democracy.

One other jihadist ideologue who speaks directly to this idea is Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Fathi Yakan, a prominent Islamic scholar and follower of Sayyid Qutb, wrote a book entitled To Be A Muslim, where he quotes a speech given by al-Banna,

Our task in general is to stand against the flood of modernist civilization overflowing from the swamp of materialistic and sinful desires. This flood has swept the Muslim nation away from the Prophet’s leadership and Qur’anic guidance and deprived the world of its guiding light. Western secularism moved into a Muslim world already estranged from its Qur’anic roots, and delayed its advancement for centuries, and will continue to do so until we drive it from our lands. Moreover, we will not stop at this point, but will pursue this evil force to its own lands, invade its Western heartland, and struggle to overcome it until all the world shouts by the name of the Prophet and the teachings of Islam spread throughout the world.

The notion of an Islamic expansionist policy is more than a fringe movement; instead, it is promulgated by some of the most influential 20th century Islamic thinkers. Habeck adds that “al-Banna believed that once enough Muslims returned to the true form of Islam, they could then spread the faith through jihad.” Thus, two of al-Qaeda’s theological inspirations, Qutb and al-Banna, state that Muslims must go on the offensive and attack the West, even if unprovoked.

There have been a number of arguments made for why Islamic fundamentalists hate us and why they attacked us. President Bush, in his speech to a joint session of Congress in 2001 suggested that, “they hate our freedoms -- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” Others argue that radical Muslims attacked us because of our support for Israel. Still others, like Dinesh D’Souza, argue that the cultural left and individuals such as Britney Spears are the real reason why Islamic fundamentalists want to attack us.

While there are grains of truth to all of these arguments, they all fail to explain why radical Muslims have fought the West for centuries. The idea that Islamic radicals hate “our freedoms” paints the most accurate picture. Indeed, our notions of freedom directly contradict their understanding of Islamic theology. Western ideas of freedom include the freedom to pick and choose which religions and beliefs we want to follow, the freedom to express ourselves, the freedom to live our lives in the manner we see fit. Freedom, to Qutb and al-Banna, means one has the freedom to choose to submit to Allah, pay the jizyah (tax levied on all non-Muslims), or die. In essence, anything that gives humans law-making ability is expressly forbidden.

The argument that Muslims hate us because of our support of Israel is valid, but insufficient. Muslims claim the land of Palestine because it was once part of the Islamic caliphate. For Muslims, reclaiming the lands of Islam is a necessity in order to re-establish the Caliphate. The presence of non-Muslims in Palestine is bad enough; the existence of a Jewish state in Palestine is even more troubling. However, the US’s support for Israel didn’t start until 1948. What are we to make of the years of violence in the name of Islam against Western countries prior to that?

Finally, the argument that cultural left in America and the flamboyance of individuals such as the aforementioned Ms. Spears causes Muslims to hate us is simply shallow. Indeed, America’s perceived decadence and our desire to idolize morally-shallow pop stars are abhorred by Muslims. However, they are more of a manifestation of American notions of freedom that Muslims hate rather than the sole reason. It would be a grave mistake to argue that the likes of MTV, Entertainment Weekly, or more adult oriented media are the reasons why 9/11 occurred.

In reality, democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, even Hollywood's most flamboyant individuals are all manifestations of a greater problem that radical Muslims have against the West. Radical Muslims detest these things because in their eyes, they see these things as an affront to God’s sovereignty and running counter to God’s laws. Because Western countries are grounded on democratic values, radical Muslims see them as an obstacle to their goal of establishing an Islamic caliphate. Once again, the Islamic notion of freedom, as expressed by Qutb and al-Banna, is that one has the freedom to submit to the will of Allah. If he or she chooses not to do so, they either must pay the Jizyah or be fought. As such, Islamic radicals will not stop attacking us until their goals are achieved.

This is a very important dichotomy for Western countries to understand, most notably the United States. Although it’s only one front in the war on terror, the war in Iraq is crucial for keeping our enemies occupied and keeping them from attacking the homeland. Various arguments can be made about how to move forward with the war in Iraq. However, calling the mission in Iraq futile and employing a policy of retreatism in Iraq and elsewhere will not stop the fighting.

Most critics of the war on terror fail to mention that the United States has not been attacked since 9/11. If we pull out of Iraq, it may secure the lives of our soldiers abroad. But the long-feared possibility of another attack on US soil will become increasingly more possible and innocent American lives will be put in the crosshairs of these and future extremists.

In addition, with an encouraged enemy and a front closed in Iraq, our enemies will have greater resources and personnel to use in other regions. Bearing in mind the thought that jihadists will “take the initiative”, the insurgents fighting in Iraq may heed the call to fight in Afghanistan or other areas where American forces are deployed, thus putting American troops abroad in greater danger. The greatest use of our greatest advantage, our armed forces, is to remain on the advance against the enemy.

February 13, 2007

United States of America

The Other Marshall Plan

Addressing The Threats At Home

By Michael Tanji | February 13, 2007

On the eve of war in Europe President Roosevelt promotes a relatively young but highly capable brigadier named George C. Marshall to Army Chief of Staff: a four-star position. Once he became a full general, Marshall kicked off something of a purge of the old-school generals who wouldn’t or couldn’t get with the 20th century program. To replace them he advanced to the general officer ranks – just as he had been – a variety of obscure, sometimes infamous, but talented company and field grade officers.

Marshall knew that there was no way he was going to win a war of tanks, airplanes and blitzkrieg with leadership that cut their teeth on trench warfare and horse cavalry. I mean after all, this was the crew that court martialed Billy Mitchell, the father of US Air Power. Marshall needed sharp and open minds and forward-leaners. In a way, he had the luxury of not having to go to war with the Army he had; he was able to seed the Army he wanted.

The time has come for the promotion of a new Marshall to lead our national security apparatus, and with him a new purge of the old guard. Someone with the willingness to cast off those who cannot or will not adapt to the changes that are adversely impacting our ability to fight and win the war we are in now, as well as the conflicts of the future. Consider:
  • From inside the wire at the Defense Intelligence Agency we have an updated, first-hand report of mismanagement and resulting morale problems. If history is any indication, this report will result in a foolish inquisition, not a necessary introspection. 
  • Since the war on terror started, the FBI has continued to lose weapons and computers, though at a slower pace than previously noted by inspectors. Despite a massive investment in time and money, it's Virtual Case File system had to be scrapped and there is no clear indication that the project that replaced it will avoid meeting a similar fate.
  • Long an example of waste, fraud and abuse when it comes to the application of technology, the National Security Agency is still failing to keep up with the pace and threats of the information age. To top it all off they’ve figured out how to manage themselves out of electricity.
  • One of the largest public-private “partnership” organizations, which was established to help improve infrastructure protection and address cyber crime, has had to cancel its annual conference. Not enough interest and/or support from the membership. Even as terrorists become more at home online and cyber crime moves from kids to capos, both the potential victims and those charged with fighting these threats can’t muster the interest or the resources to join forces to combat them.
All of these and countless other tales of institutional woe in our national security system can be traced to bad management. Those who share this view and have first-hand experience are loathe to call it “leadership” because leaders would have long since found a way out of the mess our hard- and soft-power institutions find themselves in. People who were on the job in national-security positions before 9/11 will readily divulge that nothing substantial has changed in the past five years; they probably log more hours, but the administrivia is as thick as ever and the security, budgetary and procedural morass – not to mention inter-agency in-fighting - is just as bad as it has always been. Those who joined after 9/11 have no frame of reference, but the fact that many are opting to vote with their feet indicates they know a bad thing when they see it.

Timid adjustments labeled “reform” are not going to cut it. The bright lights of intelligence wikis and blogs are blocked out by the shadow of growing bureaucracy. Saying you’re adapting to the information age because you are using computers while still clinging to industrial-age processes is worse than sticking with typewriters and paper. Recycling cold-warriors and the people who got you into this mess in the first place is sending these institutions into a retrograde orbit.

I have waxed and waned about the need to purge current management because it can be dangerous to paint with too broad a brush. However, this latest round of stories about business as usual in our national security apparatus has forced me to cast off any misgivings I might have harbored for throwing out a very small baby in a great volume of tepid, fetid bathwater. We should thank those who have served honorably for their time, energy and sacrifice, but their time is over.

Failure to take rapid and dramatic measures on this front will have implications beyond the staffing and morale levels of given agencies. Absent fundamental changes in policy, procedure, and key personnel, national security institutions will decline in relevance and utility. The best and brightest will opt out of federal service so as to avoid becoming cube-dwelling, ticket-punching automatons. Traitors will be cultivated and exploited, criminals will go unpunished, valuable sources of intelligence will go unexploited, and when the next shooting war starts our ignorance of the threat we face will be so profound that victory in battle may very well be in doubt.

February 9, 2007

United States of America

A Grim Prospect

Were Life Only Like A Fairy Tale

By Michael Tanji | February 9, 2007

Rare is the night that I do not read my children a story from one of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series of books. A current favorite is Dragons and Giants, which has Frog and Toad testing their mettle against the bravery displayed by the protagonists in their book of fairy tales. In the course of their journey up a mountain Frog and Toad flee from a snake, barely escape an avalanche, and narrowly avoid being carried away by a hawk. As each trial unfolds they run and scream “We are not afraid!” At the end of the tale we find our amphibious friends huddled under the covers (Toad) and in a closet (Frog) “being brave together.”

A survey of the political landscape in this country over the last few years reveals a disturbing number of Frogs and Toads amongst us. Faced with numerous dangerous challenges the response is never to stand and fight or face the issue head-on; it is to run while simultaneously declaring victory. Lost in the back-slapping clamor of self-congratulations is the fact that those who would do us harm are not gone, they are merely waiting for their next opportunity.

The “flight” part of the fight-or-flight reflex is legitimate in the lower-rungs of the natural world but it is a poor approach for those at the top of the food chain: “You can run, but you’ll only die tired.” says the sniper-themed t-shirt. In the animal kingdom the frog that attempts to stand up to the snake is viewed as proof of the theory of natural selection; the human that doesn’t go willingly to his death is labeled a warmonger or worse.

Today we find a group of amphibia – in the form of the Office of Special Plans - under fire for attempting to demonstrate that there are indeed snakes and hawks circling and plotting our downfall. The OSP used the same information that the intelligence community did and drew different conclusions about the nature of the threat we currently face. Their non-crime was stretching the comfortable boundaries of the overly cautious community that bullies or marginalizes dissenters: a flawed practice that is only now being remedied to nominal effect. Lost in the melee is the treasure trove of hard and softcopy media taken from Iraq that shows that we were right to worry about Saddam. Of course the response is to dismiss actual intelligence and stick with misguided speculation.

One cannot fault the Frogs and Toads of this world for their lack of bravery, for no one knows for sure how they will react when faced with a mortal challenge, but we have every right to criticize those hop-along-to-get-alongs who have no plan for dealing with those who await the next opportunity to strike us. Rather than offering meaningful alternatives they demonize those with a different view and do nothing to advance a fuller understanding of the problems we face. Lacking neither concrete plan for the future nor ideas for dealing with the threats at hand, their approach to the dangers around us is apparently to wait for an attractive young princess to plant her lips on them in the hopes of achieving a fairy tale ending.

February 5, 2007

Iran

Parallel Universe

Insulated By Criticism, Iran Is Killing Americans ...And Everybody Knows It

By Steve Schippert | February 5, 2007

Some in the US Intelligence Community seem to operate in another realm and in a world with significantly different realities, dangers and potential outcomes. How else can it be explained that United States political leadership has been persuaded to withhold releasing intelligence regarding Iranian actions in Iraq, including arming, funding and training both Sunni and Shi’a groups killing US soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, let alone the mind-boggling toll upon Iraq’s civilian population?

In question is the same Iran that even Hassan Nasrallah openly ceded feeds the Hizballah terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, Israelis and Lebanese through its terrorist attacks, "And the help is funneled through Syria, and everybody knows it."

“Everybody knows” a lot of things. One of them is an American fear of international and internal criticism that prevents her from doing what is necessary – or anything much beyond rhetoric, for that matter - to openly confront the Iranian regime that has been at war with the United States since its 1979 Islamic revolution.

Somewhere, in a parallel universe, things are very different. Consider the following parallel universe scenario:

Iran has been invaded by Russia over feeding the Chechens, Russia having determined it necessary to stop the potential of further, more deadly attacks - including into Moscow and Kiev - by eliminating the Iranian regime. Chaos ensued after Iran's swift military defeat. The IRGC, its Qods Force operators, the Bassij and other groups melted away, including democratic Iranian opposition.

Russia installed a new acceptable leadership from among Iran's communist ranks that chose not to melt and resist. In an effort to show an international approach to achieving a peaceful Iran, the United States was permitted to house several consulates during the reconstruction of Iran, which is mired in conflict and thus seeing precious little actual reconstruction as a result.

The Russians raid some offices of the newly installed Iranian government and also one of the consulates which the United States inexplicably did not formally list under the usual international diplomatic procedures. Captured are several Americans, most of them special forces operators feeding the Iranian resistance - including those the US would normally oppose - in order to create an environment of maximum chaos and cost for the Russians. Among the captured is the #3 commander in the US Special Operations Command structure, “General Chalmers,” SOCOM's operations director. With foresight, the United States provided “General Chalmers” and his top operators with diplomatic papers, seeking to ensure that their capture - should it have ever happened - would result in their diplomatic release consistent with international law.

There are really only two questions:

How long do those US SpecOperators continue to live after maximum intel exploitation?

Or, in an alternative route...

How long before the United States is dragged before the UN Security Council for sanctioning and worldwide criticism for perversely exploiting internationally recognized diplomatic law? This same action would almost certainly lead to swiftly increased Russian military action openly opposed by no one, the least of which in any form of Russian internal dissent.

One thing is for certain, “General Chalmers” and his Special Forces operators would not be released to the US to rejoin the fight.

For us, however, we release top Iranian Qods Force commanders and wait for our American internal opposition to drag our administration before our own 'security council' for effective censure and one sided debate because, of that which some are willing to make public (not everything), applying the new intelligence standard of ‘legal evidence’ would not convince the viewers of Perry Mason to convict.

How fearful is the American leadership? Fearful to the point of being ineffectual and essentially neutralized, much to the delight of the Iranian terror masters who continue to use our ‘sensibilities’ against us.

In just two operations, one in Baghdad and one in Irbil, more than a handful of Qods Force operators from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps were captured. A man described as “Chizari” was among the Iranian operators nabbed from the offices of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq and a key political figure in Iraq. “Chizari” was reported by the Washington Post as “the third-highest-ranking official of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' al-Quds Brigade.”

“Chizari” and another “equally significant” Qods Force commander were quickly released by the United States because the Iranian government saw fit to provide the commanders of terror-exporting Qods Force with deceptive diplomatic papers. They are not diplomats, “…and everybody knows it.”

Iran has a history of using diplomatic cover for terrorist operations. It was an Iranian that played a key role in directing terrorist operations against Americans in Lebanon, including the bombings of the US embassy (twice) and the Marine Barracks in Beirut - which combined killed 320 in 1983 and 1984. Like “Chizari” today, that Iranian was also quite complete with diplomatic papers, for it was Iran's ambassador to Syria from 1982 to 1985, Ali Akbar Mohtashemipour, one of the founders of Hizballah in Lebanon, "...and everybody knows it."

The recent Karbala executions are seen by most in the Pentagon and military intelligence as a revenge strike by Iran's Qods Force for American captures of its commanders in Iraq. It is believed that Qods Force operators abducted four US soldiers, killing another US soldier in the process, and then summarily executed the four on the side of the road after escaping from Karbala in five SUV’s. Two Iraqi generals are in custody for suspicions of collusion with the attackers, while four others arrested shortly after the executions remain in US custody.

That we know the Iraqi general’s nationalities but not those of the ‘mysterious four’ suggests that they are most likely Iranians whose interrogations may have directly lead to the arrest of the Iraqi generals in question. The Karbala executions operation was far too professional to be carried out by Iraqi militias, “…and everybody knows it.”

Chronologically, there was the capture of Iranians, the discovery of evidence illustrating the depths of their lethal warfare upon us in Iraq, the Karbala executions and then the planned public release of evidentiary intelligence damning to Iran. Yet, the Bush Administration appears now mortally fearful of disclosing any intelligence on Iran’s lethal activities not absolutely bullet-proof, “…and everybody knows it.”

The argument once was whether or not the Iranians were involved in killing American troops. That argument is now openly ceded. Iran is killing Americans now just as it has since the 'diplomat'-directed 1983 bombings in Beirut, “…and everybody knows it.”

In place of the ceded argument of Iranian guilt in Iraq, relentless intelligence officials now pose the argument that the intelligence in question does not prove that the Iranian regime is directly responsible, suggesting openly that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Qods Force is some sort of ‘rogue’ operation, arming, funding and training terrorist organizations with the assets of the state without the knowledge or permission of that same state. Qods Force is no simple ‘rogue operation,’ “…and everybody knows it.”

While it may hold some measure of its own power, it by no means should be considered detached from the regime as Qods Force, by doctrine and order, is responsible for extra-territorial operations and part of a Guards Corps that is charged with exporting Iran’s Islamic revolution “…and everybody knows it.”

This export, whether in Iraq, Lebanon or in the Palestinian Territories, is not undertaken through diplomatic means but through arming and feeding terrorist organizations like Hizballah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and even al-Qaeda in Iraq “…and everybody knows it.”

The notion has been forwarded and the debate already shaped as one in which the Bush Administration is doing nothing more than repeating 2003 “exaggerated or false claims” in order to justify action. The cancelled intelligence releases on Iran are already criticized as ‘shades of 2003’ in the lead up to the Iraq invasion without any foreknowledge of what that intelligence might be. Canceling the intelligence exposure has proven at least as damaging as releasing incomplete information, putting the administration once again on the defensive. This avoidable and regrettable position is the cumulative result of its own poor communication with the American people regarding the threats before us. It is a foregone conclusion that any intelligence release by the current administration will be roundly criticized in certain intelligence circles and thus the media regardless of content, “…and everybody knows it.”

This administration had better get out in front of the line and generate public understanding of the situation. Such an understanding will translate into the public support the White House is constantly warned it will not see through intelligence releases on Iran, for they will be tirelessly questioned and politicized. The greatest failure of the White House since this open conflict began has been the failure to sufficiently and effectively communicate with the American public it serves, consistently ceding the initiative to its detractors, “…and everybody knows it.”

Meanwhile, the enemy benefits from such presidential timidity in reaction to internal American debate. Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah certainly has no fears of US action, nor with each passing day does Iran. "Iran assists the organization with money, weapons, and training, motivated by a religious fraternity and ethnic solidarity. And the help is funneled through Syria, and everybody knows it."

And the Iranian mullah regime providing Hizballah with its lifeline still leads public crowds in fiery chants of “Death to America” every Friday in Tehran, “…and everybody knows it.”

Somewhere, in a parallel universe, an American administration is not fearful of criticism, refuses to accept the killing of its soldiers and is confronting the Iranian enemy still killing its people because “everybody knows it.” Even Perry Mason.

February 2, 2007

United States of America

The Bully And His Mercenaries

Words of Support From Those Politically Invested In Their Defeat

By Steve Schippert | February 2, 2007

Two things in Iraq are certain: Iranians are killing Americans, Iraqi soldiers and Iraqi civilians without prejudice but often with operational preference. Al-Qaeda is killing Americans, Iraqi soldiers and Iraqi civilians without prejudice but often with operational preference. Yet, grab a paper, watch a newscast or browse the web and the consumer is provided a swift education on how the Bush Administration is “bullying,” “saber rattling,” “threatening” and “escalating.” Consider Thursday's New York Times editorial aptly titled “Bullying Iran.”

Two weeks ago tomorrow, four American soldiers were captured and executed with single rounds into their skulls. A fifth soldier was killed and three others wounded in the highly professional snatch operation that led to their executions. All known data points to an attack carried out directly by Iranian Qods Force members. None of the data serves to directly contradict this.

Iran has been embedding its Qods Force members within Iraq – including throughout all levels of Iraq’s government – since the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Through this network, it has supplied both Sunni terrorists and insurgents as well as Shi’a militias and death squads with cash, training and weapons, including the milled explosive charges and infrared triggers that have been employed in roadside bombs.

These IED’s have accounted for 70% of US casualties in Iraq and Iran has perfected the weaponry for maximum carnage. For the jihadiyun, they truly are the MVP of global jihad. One would think that such deadly weapons shipped in from Iran would be the bane of those who so support the troops. Yet, in truly revelatory fashion, barely a word condemning Iran for such “escalation” is heard in network newscasts or seen in New York Times editorials. Perhaps that is because Iranian ayatollahs do not vote in American presidential elections.

As clearly as one can remember what was eaten for breakfast today, the relentless and passionate condemnation of insufficiently armored HMMWV’s putting the troops at increased risk can be recalled with clarity. The Bush Administration, it was assured, was at fault for callously endangering the lives of our troops, most of whom, after all, merely enlisted for college tuition or were otherwise unemployable. Recall the ‘hick-ification’ of Jessica Lynch and her college tuition-themed editorial biographies as a prime example. Not a victim of war or even a brutal enemy, but rather one of a long list of victims of exploitation by a reckless president that simply must be removed.

Well, now that Hummers have been up-armored – a tactical equipment modification that the US military enduring such losses did not need assistance from the New York Times to arrive at, thanks – the troops are still victims of IED’s that improve as our defenses evolve. But rather than condemn the enemy still killing us, the sitting president and his administration are blamed for provoking such attacks in their attempts to eliminate them.

The Bush Administration has left the ugly fact of Iran’s lethal activities in Iraq unaddressed until recently, albeit in very measured and tepid ground actions, including the capture and subsequent release of a handful of Qods Force operators – among them the Qods Force Operations Director and #3 general.

Yet when President Bush finally steps up to take some measure of action against the enemy killing our men, the same men whose lives the New York Times cared deeply about when it came to championing armor, he is derided and criticized without reservation once again. Even though the president's directives on action against Iranians killing us are wholly inadequate thus far, he is nonetheless somehow callously protecting the lives of our troops. He is “saber rattling” and “threatening” and his plan to secure Baghdad and Anbar with the very recommendation these same critics demanded previously – more troops – is thus “escalating” the “violence.”

Two things in America are certain: The majority of those in the United States Congress are irretrievably and irrevocably invested in an American defeat in Iraq and do not support the troops. The major media outlets and their editorial boards are irretrievably and irrevocably invested in a shared agenda with said Congressional majority and do not support the troops.

Take the beauty of the latest from the Washington Post’s William Arkin, who simply speaks what most in the dominant media outlets also think but only lack the courage to utter overtly. Driven to uncontainable ire after watching an NBC Nightly News broadcast that featured troops in Iraq lamenting the perceived lack of American public support for their mission, Arkin is as equally revelatory as the New York Times editorial board. In arrogantly stating that the American soldier “should be grateful that the American public… do still offer their support to them,” he reveals the true nature of his condescending glance, which is consistently directed downward upon them. He is not alone, for it was on the floor of the United States Senate that those same ungrateful troops drew comparisons to Hitler’s SS and Pol Pot while seamlessly being accused of running “Soviet gulags.” Arkin is kinder, preferring "mercenaries” as the choice descriptor.

And, just as was the endemic media treatment of Jessica Lynch and many, many others, the “mercenaries” are just too dumb and uneducated to rise to the intellectual level of William Arkin and the New York Times editorial board. Even still, Arkin comes to our ready defense in saying, “Cut off from society and constantly told that everyone supports them, no wonder the debate back home confuses them.”

Put a magnifying glass to the words “and constantly told that everyone supports them…” Why on earth would that ever confuse us unless it were untrue?

We mercenaries are neither dumb nor ignorant and we most certainly are not "confused.” For it’s not the debate which was lamented by those soldiers aired on NBC Nightly News and elsewhere unseen by those so far removed from the military to miss it yet, apparently close enough to serve as ‘subject matter experts’ for major publications. Indeed, as Admiral Mark Fox said just this morning from Baghdad in a conference call, that very debate is explained to concerned Iraqis in their infant democracy as how we Americans use “words and not weapons, ballots and not bullets” to settle our differences.

No, we’re not confused at all.

The ungrateful “mercenaries” are intelligent enough to decipher feigned support. In fact, we’ve had enough practice at it to be true ‘subject matter experts.’ We watched and understood with unmistakable clarity as the Speaker of the House of Representatives sat idly on her hands when the Saber-Rattling Bully asked her support for victory where we are, but leapt to her feet to be the first in nationally televised applause to ‘support the troops’ whose victory she so disdains.

Perhaps we should all be grateful that Arkin and his fellow ‘supporters’ sacrifice so much to provide serving mercenaries “a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them.” And perhaps we should thank them for the brilliant idea of up-armoring our Hummers. We automatons would have never figured that out without their support.

In the end, we are left with the indelible mark that our “bullying” Commander in Chief continues to endanger us in our otherwise placid mercenary profession complete with social services and government health care, that the Honorable James D. Baker will successfully negotiate our deliverance, and that the “force that thinks it is doing the dirty work” could use a little enlightenment.

To be certain, it is William Arkin and the editorial board of the New York Times that are doing the real dirty work. For, after reading both of their contributions to this war, American mercenaries everywhere are overcome with the urge to shower. But some of us will just have to wait for them to “ship obscene amenities into the war zone” for the soap to lather up with. We’ll be sure to send back a yellow ribbon to show appreciation for their sacrifice and inconvenience.

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