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May 31, 2006

On Premature Haditha Presumptions

Ibid.

How Spontaneous was Kabul 'Riot'?

Major John is among the astute observers noting interesting bits found within media reports that bring the 'spontaneity' of the riots into question.

One interesting note - the "protestors" seem to have a beef with the former King, of all people, as well as President Karzai.

Consider Bill Roggio's first unofficial e-mail dispatch from Afghanistan, via Instapundit:

But there is plenty to do in Kabul, and I've already dug around a little bit about the violence in the city yesterday after a US vehicle killed 1 to 3 Afghans during a traffic accident. The consensus among the folks I spoke to is the protests after the accident were staged by groups waiting for such an event to happen. I made the comparison to the reaction by some Islamist groups in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) after the Muhammad Cartoon riots, where the "spontaneous protests" were anything but. there was agreement on this point. I will likely post about this tonight or tomorrow.

Has any of the media spoken to these people before filing their reports? If it is indeed a consensus, its absence from the reportage is curious, to say the least.

Consider that Afghanistan's parliament now wants the U.S. troops prosecuted for the auto accident that is attributed to brake failure. If this is an orchestrated 'riot', it is having the desired effect.

This aspect must have both media and military investigative priority.

These men cannot be allowed to be prosecuted under an even bigger spectacle than the recent trial of the Afghani Christian convert. It was an accident.

The riot that ensued, however, was not. 20 dead, 160 wounded.

Who, precisely, is in trouble with the Afghan lawmakers?

Marines, Vigilance & Iraq

At MilBlogs, Capt. B offers two updates from Iraq, starting with "Patrols and Vigilance Keeping Insurgents at Bay in Gharmah". Scroll down for "Darkhorse Marines Repel Attack, Maintain Vigilance".

“Our guys on post saw a couple of the stores across the street shut down and a couple of cars dropped people off,” said Lance Cpl. Adam Wood, a grenadier. “That’s when the shooting started.”

The attack began with a rocket-propelled grenade to the second floor balcony of the Marine outpost. Every Marine in the house was alert and participating in the fight within moments of the first blast.

Capt. B is a good, frank writer who can also be found at his home, One Marine's View.

Japan Curbing Iran Oil Imports

Seeing supply disruption on the horizon, Japan is seeking to diversify it's oil supply away from Iran, according to an Iran Oil Gas Network report.

Imports from Iran tumbled 20 percent to 2.18 million kiloliters last month, bringing the decline to 14 percent for the four months ended April 30, according to Trade Ministry data. Japan brought in more oil from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the ministry said in a report released in Tokyo today.

Iran said it is pressing ahead with its uranium enrichment program in defiance of demands by the United Nations for a halt to the work. The U.S. said it suspects the research is a cover for building a nuclear weapon. Japan seeks to lessen the impact of any upset to supplies because it depends on imports for almost all the oil it needs to fuel the world's second-largest economy.

"High dependency on Iran is a disadvantage'' at the moment, Ken Koyama, senior research fellow at the Institute of Energy Economics Japan, said by phone. "Japan needs to think about ways to diversify its supply sources.''

Meanwhile, Japan has picked up the slack by increasing imports from Saudi Arabia and the UAE by 15% and 11% respectively. It is a long-term strategic move by Japan rather than a short term redress, as evidenced by a comment from a Mitsubishi executive.

"The tensions over Iran may ease a little but it won't go away,'' said Anthony Nunan, assistant general manager of international petroleum business at Mitsubishi Corp. in Tokyo.

May 30, 2006

Bodies of Marine Aviators Recovered in al-Anbar

From 1stLt Brian Donnelly, Multi-National Force-West Public Affairs Office:

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq – The bodies of two Marines missing as a result of a helicopter mishap in Al Anbar Province May 27 have been recovered.

The body of one Marine was recovered late on May 29 and the other was recovered today.

“Our thoughts are with the families of the Marines,” said Marine spokesperson Lt. Col. Bryan Salas.

The U.S. Marine Corps AH-1 Cobra helicopter from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing went down May 27 with two Marines on board during a maintenance test flight.

The incident does not appear to be a result of enemy action.

The incident is under investigation.

Training Iraqi Security Forces

Be sure to check out this week's The Advisor, which takes a look at the new Iraqi Government and more training for Iraqi forces, from leadership courses to SOS (Iraqi-style).

The Advisor is the weekly publication from the Multi-National Security Transition Command (Iraq) which takes a look at their ongoing efforts to help the Iraqi forces stand on their own. Lacking enough cordite, C-4 and IED's to make the news of traditional media, The Advisor highlights the work performed day in and day out by American and Iraqi forces working together. It's worth a look each week.

May 27, 2006

War and Iranian 'Negotiations'

There is plenty of room for debate over precisely how to handle the diplomatic wrangling over the Iranian nuclear crisis. Yet, just as an IAEA without the teeth of the Security Council is feckless against such a determined actor, so too are diplomatic efforts with potential harsh consequences predisposed and discarded as unfiting options in any circumstance. It is one thing to not want war, which is a common sentiment among all who seriously understand the consequences thereof. It is entirely another to believe that this warfare as consequence is worse than any other option, which would likely include eventual warfare on the other's terms and through their means. The removal of consequence reduces negotiations to gainful but meaningless employment for the actors involved. So it seems for Europe.

Consider a commentary appearing in Investor's Business Daily, Neutralizing Tehran.

Last week, after meetings of the "six world powers," the EU offered, in the words of a Reuters dispatch, to "drop the automatic threat of military action if Iran remains defiant."

Ponder that for a moment. The EU says it will, in essence, do nothing, no matter what — other than, perhaps, put some feeble sanctions in place. Yet it somehow expects this will prod Iran to act.

The IBD column goes on in incredulous disbelief of the hollow logic employed, making other keen observations and crucial points. But those two paragraphs could easily be repeated over and over numerous times without aid of additional supporting argument and the argument put forth by the column would be no less effective.

If Europe were Management and Iran were an Auto Workers' Union, the strike would have long been over...along with the solvency of the automaker and those employed by it. Just as with labor-management relations, international negotiations cannot be entered into from a voluntary position of weakness by either side.

Europe consistently cedes the most clearly understood position of strength. It's not about whether you want war. The unrecognized irony is that the option of war is about whether or not you want negotiations to succeed.

May 26, 2006

Hugo Chavez's Broken Promises

Chavez ImageRecently, London's Ken Livingstone played host to Venezuela's strong-man president, Hugo Chavez. It was a star-studded gala event remeniscent of a Golden Globes ceremony, celebrating one of the world's most energetic and virulent purveyors of anti-American venom. That made him an instant European elite crowd pleaser. And so, Red Carpet did he receive.

As David Paulin effectively illustrates in Hugo’s Broken Promises, his anti-American vitriol surely must be the sole draw that spellbinds the world's Socialist Left like 'Red Ken and Company', because his record - by socialist standards - is not simply abyssmal, it has brought more harm to the people of Venezuela than help.

The left’s romance with the Chavez is like many imperfect romances: messy details about a person’s true nature are easily overlooked. The left blithely ignores Chavez’s three colossal failures: Poverty, crime, and corruption have worsened considerably on his watch.

David continues in relative depth, detailing the pre- and post-Chavez conditions of each category, effectively removing the illusion of Chavez's Venezuelan socialist utopia.

In respect to corruption, Berlin-based corruption watchdog Transparency International recently ranked Venezuela a lowly 130 out of 159 countries in its annual survey of perceptions of corruption. This put it below countries such as Russia, Niger, and Sierra Leone.

Venezuela “was one of a dozen countries where more than half of respondents said this (corruption) had 'greatly' increased,” noted The Economist.

That Venezuela’s corruption deepened is ironic. Chávez evoked his outrage over corruption when justifying his coup against President Carlos Andres Perez.

Liberally supported by informative links, David Paulin's effort is well written. Ken Livingstone himself would have a hard time navigating Hugo’s broken promises, each laid by a man whom Livingstone champions as "rescued from an illegal military coup by mass popular resistance."

US ISP for Islamic Jihad Sites

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, on the US Department of State's Terrorist Organization List and principle source of suicide bombings that kill Israeli civilians, has four operational websites. One of them uses an Iranian host, which figures logically. Three of the four, however, use American Internet Service Providers to host their hatred.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad Internet sites and their Internet providers

The survey, which was conducted on May 22, found that only four of them were active . A comparison with the previous survey, held in December 2005, showed that www.qudsway.com, one of the organization’s two leading sites, still had the same Iranian ISP. Three other sites use ISPs in the United States.

We are a nation founded upon free speech, among other liberties. However, one of the consquences for being a civilian-murdering terrorist organization officially deemed such by the US State Department should be a denial of service in any form from American entities.

Conversely, the cost to American businesses and organizations for providing such services should be prohibitive or, if the order to cease is disregarded, financially terminal along with criminal liability.

Period.

The following American companies are currently providing hosting services for the PIJ:

SAVVIS Technologies, Town and Country, MO - (www.qudsnews.net)

Layered Technologies, Frisco, TX - (www.saraya.ps)

Liquid Web, Lansing, MI - (www.rabdallah.net)

Perhaps the above three American companies can provide clarification.

[NOTE: Site www.rabdallah.net no longer resolves.]

Reference Update:

Directly from the Department of State's Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) list (see member #30):

Legal Ramifications of Designation 1. It is unlawful for a person in the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide "material support or resources" to a designated FTO. (The term "material support or resources" is defined in 18 U.S.C. � 2339A(b)(1) as "any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individuals who maybe or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or religious materials.” 18 U.S.C. � 2339A(b)(2) provides that for these purposes “the term ‘training’ means instruction or teaching designed to impart a specific skill, as opposed to general knowledge.” 18 U.S.C. � 2339A(b)(3) further provides that for these purposes the term ‘expert advice or assistance’ means advice or assistance derived from scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge.’

May 25, 2006

Violent Iranian Protests Continue

Two separate sets of violent protests are ongoing in Iran. The first set is from Azeris in the northwest of Iran, furious over a cartoon published in an Iranian State newspaper that depicted them as a cockroach. Over 100,000 have been in the protests that have been ongoing since the weekend.

The second set of protests, unrelated, come from student groups in Tehran and in Khuzistan near the Iraq border. Students in Tehran have set fires outside their dormatories and been in violent clashes with Iranian police and Basij.

For updates, see Gateway Pundit and Regime Change Iran.

Integrating Hizballah Into Lebanese Army

As Lebanon strives for some semblance of unity, perhaps settling eventually simply for the absence of overt sectarian division, one of the hot topics is the disarmament of Nasrallah's Hizballah or, potentially, Hizballah's integration into the Lebanese national armed forces. Regarding the latter option, Omar Raad has written The Hizbollah Solution at Ya Libnan.

Saad refers to his effort as "a politically neutral solution to the Hizbullah dilemma." An excerpt from near the conclusion follows.

One nation, one army

In alignment with the model employed by the Lebanese Army, the new influx of soldiers should be distributed throughout Lebanon to ensure a balanced mix of sectarian membership. Special attention should be given to ensure the proper use of relevant expertise, particularly to soldiers with specialized training, to spread knowledge transfer in other parts of the country.

Hizbullah's troops will be laterally transferred into their respective equivalent positions. Officers will retain their equivalent rank based on the standards defined by the army.

It would be ideal for Lebanon and the region as a whole if this could be peacably achieved and Omar Saad's open contribution to the Lebanese discourse (and others like it, regardless of view) should be applauded.

At the end of the day, unfortunately, Mr. Saad's vision likely has little chance, especially considering the eternally militant and confrontational leadership of Hassan Nasrallah and Hizballah's obligation to their masters, the IRGC and its ruling Iranian regime.

Even if the Iranian regime were to permit such an action, which they clearly will not, the likelihood of the Lebanese Islamists who constitute Hizballah will never surrender their arms nor command to a non-Islamic state guided at their own hand.

For Iran, Hizballah represents too much of an armed front against Israel for the mullahs to allow it to blend into and accept orders from a Lebanese state whose primary interest is not eventual open warfare with and the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.

Omar Saad's vision may be the ideal solution for Lebanon, but it is unfortunately not in the interests of Iran or their Hizballah foreign policy arm. Reality simply dictates otherwise.

(Note: It has been incredibly nice to watch Ya Libnan develop from a Lebanese Blog at BlogSpot barely one year ago providing Live Updates on the Lebanese Cedar Revolution into a well organized source of Lebanese news and views. Perhaps many have forgotten that it was the Information Revolution that made the Cedar Revolution possible through the flood of information and images, justly creating the worldwide furor that ensued rather than a forgotten 3-minute story on the nightly news, leaving the Lebanese to be forgotten and distanced.

Many cite various MilBlogs, political blogs and media blogs as the center of the blogging aspect of the Information Revolution. But to not cite Ya Libnan as one of the most important and impacting examples of a blog contributing to and shaping world events - and I mean next to any single site or blog - such an oversight can only be explained as ignorance. Not in a condescending manner, but literally just being unaware. Stop by and have a peek at a bit of history few understand. I Love Ya Libnan!)

'Lack of Democracy' Fuels Jordanian al-Qaeda Popularity?

While reading the latest Jerusalem Issue Brief by Nibras Kazimi, The Islamist Threat to Jordan, an interesting 2005 quote cited from London's al-Hayat newspaper appears, suggesting an interesting (if not intriguing) cause to the rise in popularity of al-Qaeda in Iraq within Jordan.

Yet, even if there is an identity void in Jordan, what indicators are there that the extremism of Zarqawi would be welcome among Jordanians? A feature story appeared in Al-Hayat newspaper in August 2005 that described the "legendary status" of Zarqawi even among the Western-educated elite. He was something of a "popular hero" among the youth, who were enamored of the fact that one of their own had been propelled to such international prominence in the "struggle" against the American "occupiers" in Iraq. The article suggested that a combination of poverty, corruption, and lack of democracy contributed to the gradual but perceptible movement of Jordanian society toward extremism. The same newspaper in February 2006 highlighted the popularity of songs and video CDs glorifying the "resistance" to foreign occupation in both Iraq and Palestine that included footage of Hamas and Islamic Jihad operations against Israeli targets, and titles such as "The Battle of Fallouja." These were briskly sold in downtown Amman, despite recurrent government raids aimed at confiscating them. In the time interval between these two features, Zarqawi struck at his home country. [Emphasis Added]

Interesting that, at least according to al-Hayat, the lack of democracy in Jordan fuels the popularity of anti-democratic Islamic groups like Zarqawi's AQIZ.

Still reading, but thought that noteworthy enough to share.

May 24, 2006

Downplaying Iran/al-Qaeda Ties

Dan Darling has penned an important article at The Weekly Standard. In it, he politely asks why Iran's links to al-Qaeda are being downplayed. Any energy spent on the links seem to be spent in the (public) effort to downplay them rather than investigate them.

As the Iran debate has progressed, a somewhat disturbing trend has emerged in which those who have previously warned of the dangers posed by Tehran have now sought to ignore or downplay these earlier statements. Perhaps this is because they are fearful of the prospect of a military confrontation with Iran and do not wish to be seen as supplying anything resembling a casus belli. This is essentially the reverse of what the Bush administration is accused of doing during the run-up to the war in Iraq, with information being presented selectively for the purpose of downplaying the Iranian threat. This seems unwise. [...]

The status of (or the willingness to conduct) the investigation into the information unearthed by the 9/11 Commission is extremely relevant to the current Iran debate. If Iran, or its Hezbollah proxies, are shown to have assisted the transit al Qaeda members whose numbers included the future 9/11 hijackers--under what appear to be extremely curious circumstances--shouldn't those facts be included in discussions over how to deal with Iran?

That is the rhetorical question of the fortnight from this position. The answer, of course, is logical. But the fact of the matter remains: The truth cannot be hidden from indefinitely.

We need to learn what that truth is and confront it as appropriate. If we have learned anything from September 11, it is that procrastination and avoidance are more deadly for us and empowering to those who would slaughter us than the alternative.

May 23, 2006

Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 Passed

As Israeli Prime Minister Olmert visits Washington, Congress has passed the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 just before the Prime Minister is set to address a joint session of Congress.

From Vital Perspective:

The legislation, which both Israeli FM Tzipi Livni and Ambassador Daniel Ayalon have voiced their support for, would instruct the State Department to cut ties with Palestinian Authority officials and restrict everything except humanitarian aid to the Palestinians and diplomacy with Palestinian Authority officials.

The proposed legislation would only allow for these contacts once Hamas renounced terror and recognized Israel. It would also instruct the Treasury Department to close down the Palestinian Authority missions in Washington and New York, though Bush could sign a waiver on the closures.

Fox News Covers MilBlogger Conference

In 'Milblogs' Present Iraq War From Military Point of View, Army Major Michael Lawhorn has written for Fox News on MilBlog Conference 2006 that took place in April in Washington, DC. His story is full of quotes from MilBlogger attendees and panelists, large and small, and is one of the more comprehensive looks at the people, events and tone of that day to be found.

Major Lawhorn is himself a MilBlogger and, as he let 'slip' in a conversation we had in DC, he is an Army PAO currently holding "the best job in the world" as he is on a one-year assignment to FoxNews to learn the media industry from the inside. (I think he refered to it as a 'dirty little secret' and feared the Army might find out just how much he enjoys the assignment.)

I have to concur with his assessment. Kudos to the Army for the forsight of the assignment and, as a veteran, many thanks to FoxNews for embracing the military and sharing of knowledge and skills.

Major Lawhorn can be found blogging at Kosovodad: Proud to be a Soldier.

Gaza Fighting Far From Popular Struggle

As an accompanying thought to go along with today's today's InBrief on Hamas-Fatah tensions, there is an article today in Haaretz titled 'Fatah expected to retaliate for Hamas attacks' that contains a very key observation deserving more attention.

Hamas today is more popular than Fatah on the Gaza streets, but its security control is extremely limited: Its government has failed to subordinate the security services. Fatah also has a clear numerical advantage in the Gaza Strip: It has some 30,000 militants, compared to Hamas' 3,000 to 5,000.

Although the struggles in Gaza are spreading and violent incidents occur daily, this is not a mass conflict. Incidents involve armed cells, not a populist struggle by thousands. The growing anarchy increases the concern of residents for their personal safety, which now comes before their concern over Israeli actions.

Often hesitant to use Haaretz beyond quoted figures within an article, this is an instance where there is no hesitation. The author is right on the money and ably and directly makes the point intended to be conveyed in today's InBrief when it concluded:

There is indeed “real danger ahead” of the Palestinian people, but that danger comes less in the form of Israeli tanks and airstrikes than it comes from angry clashes between Fatah and Hamas factions in the streets and neighborhoods throughout Gaza and, potentially soon, the West Bank as well.

The 'danger' and the Palestinain people are clearly not one and the same.

May 22, 2006

What will happen if we lose the war?

That is a question posed by a child to a good man while speaking to his son's class of 4th graders after accompanying them on a field trip. Dadmanly's response to Little Manly's young classmate is one which I wish I could have seated more than a few not-so-young listeners for. Without 'the scarey parts' these 'grown-ups' have grown to identify with nearly exclusively, they may have perhaps then seen what is really happening - to and for whom - sans car bomb and quagmire redux.

Having met him at the MilBlogger Conference in DC, I can report to you that Dadmanly is a master communicator, humble to a fault and a consumate gentleman. Finish reading his post and you will appreciate the truth in both of these short paragraphs.

Hugo Chavez: The People's Hero

If there were ever doubt in anyone's mind as to whether Hugo Chavez is as bad a leftist anti-American character as he is made out to be, here is irrefutable proof.

Hunt for Hizballah in New York

From the New York Post:

The FBI and Justice Department have launched urgent new probes in New York and other cities targeting members of the Lebanese terror group.

Law-enforcement and intelligence officials told The Post that about a dozen hard-core supporters of Hezbollah have been identified in recent weeks as operating in the New York area.

Sources said the activities of these New York-based operatives are being monitored by FBI counterterrorism agents as part of a nationwide effort to prevent a possible terror strike if the confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program spins out of control.

Additional law-enforcement attention is being centered on the Iranian Mission to the United Nations, where there have already been three episodes in the last four years in which diplomats and security guards have been expelled for casing and photographing New York City subways and other potential targets.

The article goes on to state that while there is no direct intelligence on an imminent attack, officials do say that they have "detected increased activity by Hezbollah operatives..."

Rather than be chided as alarmist, the counterterrorism actions should be lauded as good, vigilant and alert professionalism on behalf of those tasked with precisely that responsibility.

Torture in Tehran

We missed this from Michael Ledeen on Saturday (thankfully, Regime Change Iran did not).

Clearly seen in this video of Masour Osanlo are the fruits of his torture at the hands of the Iranian regimes. Osanlo was the leader of the bus drivers that went on strike recently in Tehran. Somehow, the habit of torture upon its own citizens just never seems to figure prominently into the admonitions handed the Iranians by the international community.

Ledeen's frustration is clear...and it is shared.

But it seems otherwise impossible to convince Western leaders that we are confronting a monstrous evil, that seeks to destroy or dominate us by all possible means. The sort of horror you see on this video is repeated every day, sometimes leading to execution, sometimes to further sadism.

Secretary Rice: do you really believe you can negotiate with such people? Can it be right to curry favor with the European appeasers for the price of the systematic torture and murder of those Iranians who seek freedom?

President Bush: why have you not instructed your people to give vigorous support to the Iranian democratic opposition? what on earth are you waiting for?

Finally it seemed America had woken up - decades late - to finally support democratic change in Iran from within with President Bush's call for $75M to fund various mechanisms of support for them. Perhaps it should have been clearer when the President accepted a whittled-down ~$50M package?

What are we waiting for? These are not calls for airstrikes.

May 21, 2006

5 Myths About U.S.-Saudi Relations

Crossroads Arabia directs to an article in the Washington Post by CFR's Rachel Bronson titled 5 Myths About U.S.-Saudi Relations. As she lists them, they are:

1) The U.S.-Saudi relationship is a bargain of oil for security.

2) The 9/11 hijackers undermined otherwise strong U.S.- Saudi ties.

3) The Bush family and the House of Saud are too close for comfort.

4) Washington can call the shots with the Saudis because the United States is all-important to them.

5) The House of Saud is about to collapse.

She also adds:

But the cleavages common before a revolution are not visible in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is now aggressively pursuing terrorists on its soil, and reform-minded Saudis view King Abdullah as an ally.

Washington would be better off planning on the royal family enduring. It's also the best chance Washington has to realize its oil and counterterrorism goals -- and avoid alternatives that could be worse.

Note that she did not say 'the' reform-minded Saudis - as to imply that all of them are. Based on the evenhandedness of her approach throughout, this is not simply the absence of a small word.

There are many issues that can and should be taken up with the House of Saud (and they are). But before the American public grinds its teeth in seething anger, let's not forget that, while 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, those same Saudi hijackers could have easily turned planes into Riyadh. al-Qaeda is no friend of Saudi Arabia, either.

This is not to say that we should sit around the campfire lauding each others' efforts combating the terrorism that seeks us both out in bloodlust.

This is to say that the relationship is quite necessarily complex. (Consider also that this comes from a man who cherishes clarity.)

This is also to say that Rachel Bronson's is an excellent effort dispelling '5 Myths' that circulate far too casually in American domestic political discourse among the men and women who cast ballots determining future American Foreign Policy, four years at a clip.

All Animals Are Created Equal

So George Orwell penned. But in the history of our century past, "Some animals are more equal than others."

The Belmont Club has an important post up regarding the further breakup of the former Yugoslavia in light of the latest from Montenegro's apparent vote for independence from Serbia.

After quoting a newspaper, a blog and Wikipedia for context, Wretchard instinctively understands that three sentences are all that are needed for powerful commentary.

In a manner that John Lennon would have never uttered in his wildest dreams, Imagine...

May 19, 2006

RE: Badges

Steve links some of the commentary that has followed Amir Taheri's report in the National Post that Iran's Majlis has passed a law that would require Jews, Christians and Zorastrians to wear color coded identification stripes on their clothing. It's worth reading Taheri's report in full - 3 pages on the web.

The National Post reported that the Iranian embassy in Ottawa had denied that the law had been passed on Monday.

Whether or not it is true - it is believable and that alone is troubling. Should it be true - it is yet another sign of the consuming hatred the Iranian regime has for non-Muslims in general and specifically for the dreaded Jew. If confirmed it'll also be a test of our worlds ability to recognize and, if necessary, prevent the early steps toward pograms and all the potential horror that might follow.

We - or at least I - have grown weary of the near silence from Muslim leaders and political figures around the world who need to stand, speak, write, and scream out against Iran's yaumidden hungry and the terrorists we are fighting. If your faith means anything to you - as a Muslim - then your vocal denunciation of this and other forms of bigotry should be heard.

Badges For Jews in Iran

Discussion over the new Iranian Hitler-esque Jewish badge initiative is springing up. And you thought the call to have Israel 'wiped of the map' stirred up a storm...

MilBlogs: Is "Never Again" Too Inconvenient Today?

The Jawa Report: Iran to Mark Non-Muslims Clothing

Wizbang: Iranian Law: Non Muslims Must Wear Colored Badges

Israpundit: Iran Wants To Renew The Yellow Badge Enforced Under Islam and Nazis

Free Republic: Iran eyes badges for Jews

This will have very serious consequences for Iran by solidifying Western resolve, no matter how Iran tries to explain it away in the coming hours and days.

Saudi Arabia Warns America

Saudi Arabia, the principal driver of Middle East Peace, has warned the United States against isolating Hamas.

U.S.-led efforts to isolate the Hamas-led Palestinian government could radicalize the Arab world's most educated population and increased contact could foster peace with Israel, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Prince Saud al-Faisal said refusing to deal with Hamas and blocking pay for Palestinian doctors, teachers and engineers reflected a "twisted logic" that could alienate "the real supporters of the (Palestinian) peace movement."

That doesn't square much with this first-hand report that suggests quite the opposite among the Palestinian general population.

Islamic Jihad's terror campaign has deepened the sense of crisis inside the Palestinian territories, which have lost billions of dollars in Western aid since Hamas came to power. Nominally responsible for policing their former partners in terror, Hamas officials have instead applauded the bombings. Their statements have fueled suspicions that Hamas is using Islamic Jihad as a surrogate for killing Israelis, and made it even more unlikely that the international community will rescue the bankrupt government. Security forces and other civil servants have gone unpaid for two months; internal checkpoints, blockades, and Israeli raids in the West Bank continue. And that may explain why, despite Hamas's continued rhetorical support, the general public has begun to swing against Islamic Jihad and its suicide bombers.

Nevertheless, al-Faisal continued to press.

By denying pay for Palestinian professionals, "you're adding radicalism to the rank and file of these people and you are not harming the government," he said.

It most certainly is harming the Hamas-led government. Were it not, Hamas would not still be in the process of making the rounds throughout the region looking to replace the West's funds with Arab and Persian funds. For it's part, Saudi Arabia helps soften the blow al-Faisal denies is having any effect.

There is an elephant in the room, to be sure.

Since Saudi Arabia is committed to the Islamic political agenda, it should not surprise anyone that its pledges to the US contradict its real position regarding support for the Palestinian resistance and Hamas in particular. It has agreed to a large assistance package to the Palestinian Authority, which comes after the Arab League spearheaded the effort to unite the Arab world to fund Hamas under the banner of “saving the Palestinians”.

It does not take a rocket scientist to observe what Hamas does with the money it receives from Saudi Arabia and others who are quick to accuse the United States of "adding radicalism to the rank and file of these people" for their absent contributions.

The solution is not to channel funds to the Palestinians through non-governmental organizations, as the U.S., U.N., Europeans and Israel recently agreed to do. The solution is to continue to withhold funds until the Palestinians are compelled to sell their weapons, dissolve their militias and use international aid for the humanitarian assistance and economic development for which it was intended.

Bingo. With economic development, perhaps the Palestinian Territories and the Palestinians might actually become self-sufficient and not be forced to rely upon outside funds, including ironically those from her stated enemy, Israel.

May 18, 2006

Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades Video

(VIDEO) - Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades have released a video in which a Star of David is seen engulfed in flames, and which contains calls for jihad "to liberate Palestine and Palestinians."

[Note: Viewable in Internet Explorer only at time of this post.]

Peace With North Korea?

The NYTimes reports that the Bush administration is considering entering into negotiations with North Korea to end the Korean War (56 years after it began and 53 after the armistice agreement). Robert Mayer, of Publius Pundit, says that it shouldn't come as a surprise and that it is part of a "new, huge diplomatic effort underway by the Bush administration in collaboration with other regional powers to show certain rogue regimes (i.e. North Korea & Iran) that they do not have to fear invasion."

Tony Snow, now White House Press Secretary, says that there isn't a change in policy and that "when North Korea comes back and participates in the six-party talks, then we can proceed."

The truth is probably a bit of each. The White House is considering peace negotiations with the DPRK. This would, of course, require some conditions be met. Those conditions being the same sets of conditions that have long been an issue - perhaps including the nuclear issue, although with less of a requirement that it be resolved and more of a sense of progress.

As to the grand new strategy, from my viewpoint it doesn't seem that there is a "new" strategy. We employ diplomacy first and foremost - until it fails - then and only then do we make war. But then, that's not exciting enough for the NYTimes to print.

Embed in Afghanistan

Now blogging at the Counterterrorism Blog, Bill Roggio, will soon be in Afghanistan for his latest embed. Given the increasing levels of Taliban initiated violence in Iraq, it is likely that Bill's reporting will coincide with the ratcheting up of coalition operations throughout the country.

If you've not sent along your best wishes (and thanks) or a donation to support Bill's efforts and the Counterterrorism Foundation - I'm certain it would be appreciated still.

Haqlaniyah Ops Continue

From Captain M.M. McClung of MNF-Iraq, news of continued operations against insurgents operating out of Haqlaniyah in northern al-Anbar province.

CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq – Coalition forces delivered precision munitions at an abandoned hotel in Haqlaniyah today, destroying it to deny its use as a support base from which insurgents can coordinate strikes against Coalition forces.

Coalition forces have delivered precision munitions at the same location multiple times since May 7 in response to repeated hostile insurgent activity.

This structure is a known location of insurgent activity.

For quick context on the type of activity seen there this month, see: Mortar Attack from the Hotel

Also Thursday, insurgents attacked U.S. Marines from an abandoned hotel in Haqlaniyah, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. The Marines responded with small arms fire, a shoulder-fired rocket and an airstrike on the hotel. There were no U.S. casualties but one child suffered minor injuries, the military said.

May 17, 2006

Palestinian Elephant in the Egyptian Room

There's an elephant in the room. Rather than look around it, Hala Mustafa takes to staring it down, challenging those in the room to stop ignoring it. Reading Blaming Hamas Sidesteps Regional Realities once was not enough. I read it again. An excerpt:

Since Saudi Arabia is committed to the Islamic political agenda, it should not surprise anyone that its pledges to the US contradict its real position regarding support for the Palestinian resistance and Hamas in particular. It has agreed to a large assistance package to the Palestinian Authority, which comes after the Arab League spearheaded the effort to unite the Arab world to fund Hamas under the banner of "saving the Palestinians".

Similarly, although Egypt signed the first peace accord with Israel and has played the role of mediator, its policy remains complex. Since a large part of the regime's legitimacy is based on its support of the Palestinian cause, it is fully dedicated to the "legitimate" national armed resistance. So, while the Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt, the regime gave full political recognition to Hamas -- which is part of the Brotherhood's transnational network -- even before the Palestinian legislative elections were held.

Accordingly, the "Egyptian-led mediation" has always revolved around reaching a truce between Israelis and Palestinians -- which remained fragile -- or, more recently, betting on giving Hamas time in order to preserve the regional status quo. This position is reflected continuously through the single voice of the state-controlled press and media which exclude any divergent views or opinions on this issue. Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, recently admitted in an Arabic-language interview: "Egypt has never pushed Hamas to recognise Israel." In light of this, it cannot be said that Hamas contradicts the mainstream policies of Arab governments, either radical or moderate.

For commentary on Mr. Mustafa's editorial effort, I borrow Judith Kilinghoffer's words.

There is nothing new in his argument. It is one I have made many times over the years. What is new is to have it made by a member of the Egyptian establishment such as an editor of the semi-official Al Ahram. What is important is the reason he made it. He recognized that reform agitation will fail again unless the opposition is willing to go after "the sacred cow" of Arab politics which is the Palestinian issue.

Ibid.

Inside Islamic Jihad and West Bank Rejection

This should be required reading.

Reign of Terror - Inside Islamic Jihad

...And that may explain why, despite Hamas's continued rhetorical support, the general public has begun to swing against Islamic Jihad and its suicide bombers.

Ibrahim Ajami says that he tried to give his son, Suheib, a normal life. In the waning days of the intifada, with Hamas in power and the tehdiya in place, Ajami believed that the lure of militancy had faded for the young people of Attil, the Palestinian village where he lives. Ajami, a blacksmith, encouraged his son to finish his studies at the local high school and the teenager seemed headed for a career as a nurse. But Luay Al Sadi, a veteran militant from Attil, was quietly recruiting village teenagers into an Islamic Jihad cell.

On July 14, 2005, an 18-year-old classmate of Suheib's named Ahmed Sameh strapped on a suicide belt, penetrated the security barrier, and blew himself in Netanya, killing five Israelis. "Suheib could not believe that Ahmed would do such a thing," his father told me. "He said, 'Is he crazy? What is the reason? What happened to him?'" But shortly afterward, Suheib began spending evenings and Friday afternoons with the 18- and 19-year-old recruits of Islamic Jihad. "I warned him, this track you are following is a bad track, it will lead to bad things," Ajami said.

In October, Luay Al Sadi was killed in the Tulkarem refugee camp by Israeli commandos dressed as Arab women. "Suheib's reaction was severe," his father said. Two months later, he approached a checkpoint leading from Tulkarem to Israel. His behavior aroused the troops' suspicion. When they asked him to remove his shirt, he blew himself up, killing two Palestinian bystanders and an Israeli soldier.

Four years ago, at the height of the intifada, 75 percent of the Palestinian population supported suicide bombings, according to polls, and the perpetrators were celebrated in songs and videos that played constantly on Palestinian television. But the mood is different now. Suheib Ajami received the obligatory martyr's funeral in Attil, and local dignitaries paid homage at the gravesite, but there was little glamour attached to his death.

That's the heart of the article written by Joshua Hammer. But read it in its entirety. (The original is here.)

The Pressure is working and the people are tiring of the cost of Hamas leadership. Just in the nick of time, enter the EU to fund them back to popular support.

Fortitude lost.

Beuller....Beuller.... ...Anyone?

Now that's a good question.

[Note to self: Stop asking questions.]

Intel Estimates on Iran: Perspective, please

US Intellegence Estimates on the Iranian Nuclear Program declare Iran to be a decade away from nuclear weapons development. While it is ironic that even seemingly Iran-friendly Mohamed ElBaredei estimted little more than 2 years, the evaluation of the US NIE should first be considered within the confines of its own track record. James S. Robbins does precisely this in Time Bomb: The poor track record of atomic predictions. Just for starters...

Consider the track record of these estimates. When have they ever been correct? Usually when a country tests a nuclear weapon, the event shocks the world. This was true of India in 1974 and Pakistan in 1998. As well with China—an August 1964 National Intelligence Estimate of the chances of a Chinese nuclear detonation noted that a test site was being prepared at Lop Nor, and would be ready in two months. However, the CIA stated that the Chinese would not have the necessary fissionable material to finish a bomb, so they doubted anything would happen for the rest of the year. Sure enough, two months later, on October 16, 1964, the Chinese successfully tested a nuclear weapon. Something to keep in mind when the “lack of fissionable material” argument comes up with respect to Iran. [Emphasis Added]

We highlighted ElBaredei's stunningly short timeline in detail in a PrincipalAnalysis, The IAEA Tree That Fell and No One Heard, when it seemed no one else could be bothered. It remains significant.

Consider that December analysis in conjunction with James Robbins' latest. Today's Required Reading.

Poland: Overlooked National Character

When recognizing our steadfast allies in the War on Terror, most tend to overlook the commitment demonstrated by Poland. This is regretable, and one retired submarine officer, Bubblehead, declares "The Stupid Shall Be Punished: I Won't Forget Poland." Nor should we.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Poland quickly came to the aid of the United States by providing substantial military support for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. When the Iraqi front in the Global War on Terror was opened, Poland was there for us again. Their GROM special forces captured vital off-shore terminals in the war’s opening hours, and they performed many other missions that aren’t as well documented. (When I was working in the Coalition Coordination Center at US Central Command, my desk was next to the Special Forces Liaison. I obviously can’t pass on some of the stories I heard; I’ll just say that I’m glad the GROM is on our side.)

Thank you, Poland. Not for being our friend per se, but rather for the character demonstrated. Actions speak louder than words...even in Polish.

ITIC Virtual Tour - Captured Weapons

CSS's Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center has a Virtual Tour Display of captured Palestinian weapons and propoganda from virtually every group West of the Jordan River.

Found it interesting. Worth sharing.

Quick Peek at The Popular Resistance Committees

We have covered Hamas' new terror subcontractor, the PRC, with interest. They are a conglomerate of sorts, with members with affiliations past and present to Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad and others. The enjoy a good relationship with Hizballah and reportedly sport ties to al-Qaeda.

The PRC leader, Jamal Abu Samhadana, has a leadership role within Hamas' PA in forming an offical Palestinian Army.

Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi offers a pretty good quick peek at who they are with The Popular Resistance Committees: Hamas' New Partners?.

Read it.

May 16, 2006

Tal Afar Report: The Contradiction

Over at MilBlogs, Buck Sargent checks in from Tal Afar with an initial assessment upon setting up shop.

Buck here, sounding off. My unit recently moved up to Tal Afar from Mosul, but don't believe the latest MSM hype about the city falling back into chaos -- there isn't a darn thing going on up here. It's practically a ghost town....

The value of MilBlogs. Imagine reading that in 1968...

Iranian Dissent Veiled as Labor Unrest

Regime Change Iran points back today at a 6May06 article by Amir Taheri in Arab News titled The System Created by Khomeini Facing New Challenges. We both seem to have missed it, but you should not.

These new challenges come from several sources.

The first, and possibly the most important, is the urban working class that has just started to flex its muscles. Last week, it showed its force with the biggest May Day demonstration ever seen in the Middle East.

Shouting anti-regime slogans and specifically calling for the resignation of the new Labor Minister Ali Jahromi, tens of thousands of the demonstrators were careful to stick to work-related demands. But, talking to journalists, especially foreign reporters, the participants made no secret of the fact that they were unhappy with the Khomeinist system as a whole.

At one point, Ali Rabi’ee, a labor adviser to former President Muhammad Khatami, addressed a crowd of workers in unmistakably political terms. He charged President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s new administration with trying to destroy the workers’ movement in Iran.

What was remarkable about this year’s May Day parade was that it included delegations of workers from all of Iran’s 30 provinces.

Also be sure to consider Taheri's OpEd in today's New York Post, Iran's (Costly) War on America.

Apart from a brief moment in which the Reagan administration tried to wage a low-intensity war against the Islamic Republic, successive administrations in Washington adopted President Jimmy Carter's policy of "patience and forbearance" vis-à-vis Tehran.

The Islamic Republic, however, consistently maintained its war posture vis-à-vis the United States all along. In 1984, Muhammad Khatami, then minister of Islamic Orientation, wrote that the Islamic Republic was waging war "against Global Arrogance led by the United States" on behalf of mankind as a whole. In 1986, Hashemi Rafsanjani, then speaker of the parliament, went further: "We are at war with the United States - a war which must end with the victory of Islam over the Infidel led by America."

Though it does not (yet) look like the version peddled by Seymore Hersch, there indeed is a war on. It is prosecuted primarily via the IAEA, the UN, the world's oil markets and through proxies in Iraq.

MilBloggers Converge at Mudville

One of the most important segments of 'The New Media' is undeniably MilBlogs and MilBloggers, forever changing the landscape of conflict journalism by getting word and perspective directly from the combatants real-time (or nearly so) without traditional media editorial filters and before official PAO releases.

With the new and aptly named MilBlogs, Greyhawk at The Mudville Gazette has created a MilBlogger Central of sorts, with an impressive team of MilBloggers participating in conversation under one roof, The Corner -style.

Be sure to head over and catch the MilBlog buzz at the new MilBlogger watering hole, Mudville's MilBlogs.

May 15, 2006

From the White House

President Bush has made his call to the American people and to the Congress on the issue of border security and illegal immigration. While I'm sure that Steve will have more to say shortly - I'll share a couple of thoughts.

First - no surprises in the speech.

Second - the National Guard deployment is most likely going to be received negatively by those who prefer our current open borders and negatively by those who are ready for a real border. As he does so often, the President has decided to take the middle ground and in doing so will please few of those with a strong take on the issue. And unlike his post-9/11 days when his moral clarity was at a high point - he has chosen pragmatism over principle or perhaps been unable to determine which of his principles should have priority.

As to the other issues - Steve and I'll have more to say soon.

Britain's MI5 Infiltrated by al-Qaeda?

In a rush to recruit informants after the 7/7 bombings in 2005, it appears that Britain's MI5 was infiltrated by al-Qaeda operatives posing as informants.

Bosses at M15 believe they unwittingly recruited the Muslim extremists after the July 7 suicide bombings in London last year which killed 52 people.

They were signed up as part of a drive to find more Muslims and Arabic speakers to work as spies to help prevent future attacks by Osama bin Laden fantatics.

Spymasters found some of the agents in Britain's universities and colleges and persuaded them to pass on information about suspected terrorists.

But a senior ministerial source has told the Sunday Mirror: "The truth is that it has now been discovered that some of those people have strong links with al-Qaeda.

"There was always a risk that with such a speedy and widespread recruitment some would turn out to be bad eggs."

Such is the nature of the intelligence business. For as long as there have been intelligence operations, there have been counter-intelligence operations.

May 11, 2006

More on Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Caliphate

We briefly discussed Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Caliphate, which centered around a Christian Science Monitor article on the group and their belief in the reestablishment of the Caliphate.

Charlie at OPFOR notes the same article this afternoon and spares few adjectives in describing the three interviewed in the article "waxing philosophical about the governmental structure of the caliphate." He reaches a very logical (and in my view very correct) conclusion.

Who would rule in this new caliphate? Shias or Sunnis? What about the Alawites, Sufis, Moros, Berbers, and other minorities? Which nations would hold the seats of power? Who controls the oil? What about the threats from America, China, Russia, and Europe to this “rising power”? Everyone could probably agree on a capitol: Mecca, but that’s probably all they could agree on.

Indeed, if consensus cannot be agreed upon at the UN regarding nuclear weapons or even a definition of terrorism, imagine the ‘battle royale’ that will emerge once an internal Sunni-Shi'ite power struggle commences for the control of the future of Islam.

If the world thinks the hatred for the West and Westerners shared by the radical among them is unending, with beheadings of infidels with dull Gerber hunting knives and the suspending of charred corpses from bridges for public celebratory purposes, just wait (theoretically) until they have no enemy but each other, Beheader v. Beheader, Shi'ite v. Sunni and Clan v. Clan.

Also note the response given by one of the younger followers in the article to a question about how the Caliphate will eventually convert the world's Western governments to inclusion within their global Caliphate.

"In the beginning, the Caliphate would strengthen itself internally and it wouldn't initiate jihad."

"But after that we would carry Islam as an intellectual call to all the world," says Abu Mohammed, a pseudonym. "And we will make people bordering the Caliphate believe in Islam. Or if they refuse then we'll ask them to be ruled by Islam."

And after that? Abu Mohammed pauses and fiddles with his Pepsi before replying.

"And if after all discussions and negotiations they still refuse, then the last resort will be a jihad to spread the spirit of Islam and the rule of Islam," he says, smiling. "This is done in the interests of all people to get them out of darkness and into light."

In their mind, though they see themselves as a 'peaceful' movement today (British 7/7 bombings by splinter members of the same group notwithstanding, of course), jihad is the answer for the world's rejection. So, as Charlie suggests they do, Hizb ut-Tahrir will indeed "pick up an RPG and join the revolution" (again, the bombing of London notwithstanding).

What I would add to Charlie's assessment is simply that the threat posed by Hizb ut-Tahrir has nothing to do with whether Hizb ut-Tahrir's reestablishment of the Caliphate is realistic or not. Rather, the threat has everything to do with their firm belief in its necessity and deep conviction to make it so.

Abuza Updates on the Thailand Insurgency

The Counterterrorism Blog's Zachary Abuza has an excelent quick Update on the Insurgency in Southern Thailand.

By April 2006, as the commander of Thailand’s 4th Army, Lt-Gen Ongkorn, was asserting that “The situation in the three southern border provinces should improve since the militant network has been weakened by the arrest of its top members,” the insurgency was spiking back to the levels reached in May-July 2005. To date, more than 1,200 people have been killed, and several thousands more have been wounded.

In reality there has been little progress in Thailand’s own counter-insurgent operations. Police assert that they have now detained 123 individual and have concrete evidence that at least 105 of the 123 are linked to the insurgency, yet few have been in leadership positions. Their intelligence is still weak, coordination of the 80,000 government personnel from at least a dozen offices and agencies is spasmodic, and several heavy-handed counter-insurgent policies have backfired. By most estimates there are some 1,000 insurgents, 247 “red zones,” or villages controlled by insurgents, and the government still has only a rudimentary understanding of the organizations infrastructure involved.

He reports more detail, so be sure to read. While the Thai government touts some successes, he reports that the Muslim insurgents have been adapting well to the defensive security environment Thailand is attempting to create, noting there is little cause to share the official Thai optimism.

Hamas, Iran and Economic Warfare

Regardless of what one wants it to be or what the Quartet intends it to be, there's simply no getting around the fact that the aid enroute to the Palestinian people - reportedly bypassing Hamas - is, at the end of the day, aid for Hamas. It relieves Hamas' burden, whether the funds pass through them or not, and allows them to use their remaining resources elsewhere. There simply is no bypassing Hamas.

Victor Comras simply nails the failed logic embedded within the decision to resume Palestinian aid.

The devil in developing this program will certainly be in working out the details. But, one additional aspect that must be considered is the nature, scope and extent of other assistance currently being channeled to, and through, the Hamas government. It is one thing for the quartet to divert assistance around Hamas in order to help the Palestinian people. It is quite different if the result is simply to lessen Hamas payroll burdens so as to permit it to sustain itself with other sources of funding. One would hope that such matters will also play a role in determining how to proceed with this assistance. So far, there is no commitment from Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other potential Hamas donors, to desist from continuing to channel financial and other aid directly to the Hamas government. [Emphasis added.]

Without doubt, helping the Palestinian people without simultaneously aiding Hamas is a difficult task. Difficult enough to possibly be considered impossible.

At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff makes a rather salient point on the issue.

Secretary of State Rice calls this move "a response to the needs of the Palestinian people." That it is. But it's also a response to the needs of Hamas. Why not use the money to respond to the needs of other populations in serious distress -- ones that have not selected terrorists to govern them?

Part of the strategy for cutting aid to Hamas - until they renounce terrorism and recognize the state of Israel - is to so burden htem as to make them unelectable the next time around, perhaps even as a catalyst for that 'next time around'.

The West has shown that they haven't the resolve nor the stomach to wage even economic warfare on a terrorist organization.

Meanwhile, in all our wisdom, we submit to economic warfare ourselves by pinning the price of oil directly to the volatile lips and deceptive pen of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Sometimes, we are simply brilliant.

May 10, 2006

Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Caliphate

When you sit down to dinner, mention Hizb ut-Tahrir and The Long War in one sentence. If you are in America, the table will likely look puzzled at Hizb ut-Tahrir and acknowledge The Long War. If you are in Britain, the table will likely acknowledge Hizb ut-Tahrir and look puzzled at The Long War.

But Hizb ut-Tahrir, or the Party of Liberation, is all about The Long War and the re-establishment of the Muslim Caliphate. In The Caliphate: One nation, under Allah, with 1.5 billion Muslims, The Christian Science Monitor's James Brandon sat down with a senior member of the group, along with two other members, in Amman, Jordan. Brandon writes, in part:

But unlike Al Qaeda, Hizb ut-Tahrir believes it can recreate the Caliphate peacefully. Its activists aim to persuade (sic) Muslim political and military leaders that reestablishing the Caliphate is their Islamic duty. Once these leaders invite Hizb ut-Tahrir to take power - effectively staging a military coup - the party would then repeat the process in other countries before linking them up to form a revived Caliphate.

"We spread our ideas by addressing people directly," says Abdullah Shakr, a fluent English-speaker, who, like all three men, spent time in Jordanian jails for membership in the party. "We don't care if the government knows about us, but ... we try not to catch their attention."

The party was founded in Jerusalem in 1953 by a Palestinian judge, Sheikh Taqiuddin Al-Nabhani. He taught that the Muslim world had grown poor and weak ever since the Caliphate was abolished by Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk in 1924.

A very well written article, it serves as about as good an introduction to Hizb ut-Tahrir as your dinner table could ask, lightly sprinkled with sober Western analysts' input and a historical sketch of the Caliphate.

For more background, see:

Hizb ut-Tahrir: Islam's Political Insurgency (PDF)

The Challenge of Hizb ut-Tahrir: Conference Report (PDF)

Also Zeyno Baran's latest at the Counterterrorism Blog.

May 9, 2006

Stay The Course

Many have already read the al-Qaeda in Iraq memo at Captain's Quarters, as Ed Morrisey has an outstanding post exploring the translation. For me (surely not alone), the most salient bit from the entire translation is the following:

At the same time, the Americans and the Government were able to absorb our painful blows, sustain them, compensate their losses with new replacements, and follow strategic plans which allowed them in the past few years to take control of Baghdad as well as other areas one after the other. That is why every year is worse than the previous year as far as the Mujahidin’s control and influence over Baghdad. [Emphasis and Link Added]

So many scoffed at President Bush and all who pleaded 'Stay the Course,' begging perseverance. It appears that staying the course is bearing fruit, evidenced by the words of our enemy and the enemy of the Iraqi people.

Driving home, I rolled past a small car with an intriguing sticker on the rear of the vehicle. "Bring Them Home Now!" Surely she winced at the prominent Eagle, Globe & Anchor adorning my tailgate, eclipsing her yellow ribbon as I rumbled by.

I wish I could find her again and hand her a printed copy of Morrisey's effort and say "Bring This Home Now!"

She'd surely be quite receptive. She supports the troops, after all.

May 8, 2006

Exploiting the Existing Iranian Seam

The Strategy Page has an excellent assessment of Why Iran Can't Control Itself. After setting the pretext of Iranian funding and influence of the dominant Shi'ite Iraqi Dawa and SCIRI parties and the Iranian-backed militias in the south of Iraq, the following is an excellent glimpse into what both holds Iran together and will eventually lead to the demise of the mullah regime:

Diplomatic pressure on Iran has failed, because Iranians admit that the trouble is being fomented by Iranian Islamic radicals that the government cannot control. Iran is run by a coalition of Islamic conservative groups. They stick together because they represent only about a third of the population, and know that openly feuding could lead to losing power. This coalition has stopped holding fair elections (by barring many opposition candidates from even running), and knows that the more radical factions are the ones, in the end, that can be relied on to use force against rebellious Iranians.

If the regime ever falls, this will be the seam exploited by Western support for internal Iranian groups that will cooperate long enough to confront the powerful but minority cabal.

Will Israel Take the Initiative on Iran?

In a commentary, Arnaud de Borchgrave recalls a conversation with an Israeli official who was "speaking privately and not for attribution" in which the official believed Israel would take the initiative in neutralizing (or at least severely hindering) the Iranian nuclear program. Published in the World Peace Herald, the pertinent text is as follows:

All indications are that Israel does not plan to rely on either the U.N. or the U.S. Vice President Cheney said 18 months ago, "the Israelis may well decide to act first and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards."

bq. At Israel's National Day reception in Washington last week, an Israeli official, speaking privately and not for attribution said he believed Israel would strike first in the next "month or two or three" and that fighter bombers would not be involved as they were to take out Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor before it went critical in 1981. For Osirak, Israel used fourteen F-15s and F-16s. This time, the Israeli said, it will be missiles. Cruise missiles, we inquired? No, he replied, with a gesture of his hand that went up and down again.

bq. What about pinpointing tunnel entrances to widely scattered Iranian nuclear facilities, we asked? The Israeli responded Israel has its own geo-stationary spy-in-the-sky satellite taking constant pictures of Iran with a resolution down to 70 centimeters. "We know far more than anyone realizes," he said.

Just who the speaking official was and how informed he may have been is anyone's guess, but two things should be kept in mind. First, this is most likely an Israeli Foreign Service official, likely well informed but not a defense policy or operational decision maker and therefor both aware and unaware accordingly.

Second, as a counter, Israel fights daily for its own survival and has relentlessly since 1948 like no other state in history. It should be noted that, considering this, the term 'realistic' in Western defense circles usually connotes some level of caution and prudence. In Israeli defense circles rather, the term 'realistic' more often connotes urgency and dire predicament.

"...with a gesture of his hand that went up and down again." See information on Israel's Jericho-II systems here and here

de Borchgrave's conclusion embraces what appears to be a sober reality, even perceived so now among many initial doubters.

A religious fanatic who believes the return of the 12th imam to earth will be preceded by global death and destruction in his own lifetime, Ahmadinejad presumably sees an Israeli and/or U.S. attack against Iran closing Muslim ranks the world over against the imperialist infidels.

bq. The State Department's top proliferation official said the administration is determined to ensure that "not one centrifuge spins in Iran." Israel is certainly poised to stop the spinning. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Ahmadinejad a "psychopath who speaks like Hitler before taking power." And Israel is not about to succumb to the appeasement of the 1930s.

May 5, 2006

Porter Goss Resigns

And we agree, This is terrible news. There is a lot of speculation as to the reason, ranging from imminent bad news to an internal power struggle, but the fact of the matter is that one of the good guys is no longer there.

May 4, 2006

Moussaoui Sentenced

After a fairly lengthy deliberation, the verdict is in - Life In Prison for the so-called 20th Hijacker. How long was this process for an individual who admitted his guilt? He said that he was Al Qaeda. General training for Al Qaeda terrorists is to deny everything - lie as much as possible. So how long will it take if a terrorist in custody does not admit his guilt? No one should wonder why an approach to terrorism using the legal system would be completely ineffectual and why Bush went with and is sticking with the Guantanamo Bay option.

Not much we can add beyond the consolidated coverage at HotAir. Most disconcerting is in the revelations from the jury survey - 9 jurors believed his childhood and his alleged mistreatment from his fathermitigated his actions? This is sorely reflective of today's blame society - it is someone else's fault. Until we can accept responsibility for our own actions, we will not hold others to that standard. And people who would be unrepentent murderers are found less than fully culpable. Have no doubt - Moussaoui made Moussaoui the man he is today. He is completely sane - the product of his own efforts to conform with an extremist Islamic ideology. He chose his friends and is loyal to them to this day. His friends are still out there, attacking the free world via the internet, via Islamization of Europe, via demands for "tolerance" of Islam, via their terrorists who will kill again and again.

The good news is that Moussaoui will never see a free sun again. The bad news is that all your taxpayer dollars spent to get us to this point are just the beginning. The 20th Hijacker will cost us greatly far into the future.

May 3, 2006

Franks and Beans

This is interesting. A senior lecturer from Britain's Royal Military Academy Department of War Studies has written an excoriating piece on General Tommy Franks titled General botched both Gulf wars. The subtitle reads, "Re: Who Lost Iraq? It's Not Who You Think, David Frum, May 2."

I read with great interest David Frum's column that focuses on Michael Gordon's and Bernard Trainor's book Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. It should come as no surprise that General Tommy Franks was at least partly responsible for the failure of the U.S. to establish stability in post-war Iraq. This is because 2003 was not the first time that General Franks botched a military operation in Iraq.

The open and subtitle clearly cast Kristian C. Gustafson as a man on a mission and no fan of General Tommy Franks. As a Gulf War veteran, I distinctly remember a few details. So, let's listen to the lecturer some more.

In 1991, Franks was the general officer commanding VII Corps in the First Gulf War. There he quickly proved not only to be well beyond his own competence level, but also overly cautious and lacking in initiative. With their start time for the ground war brought forward by 18 hours because of the lack of significant Iraqi resistance, Franks stopped his modern, night-vision-equipped army at nightfall, for fear of counterattack. Yet the Iraq army -- which had been bombed continuously for 30 days -- was not only immobile, but it also had no night capability. Upon learning of this ridiculous and timorous order (and so the loss of precious time), General Norman Schwarzkopf and General Colin Powell had to be persuaded not to sack Franks on the spot to replace him with a more capable officer.

We can stop listening now.

This irresponsible hit piece on General Tommy Franks (which continues further) is a hatchet job and angering & frustrating. Not because Gustafson has deemed the Iraq War a miserable failure. Not because he hammers General Franks as a failure.

General Franks did command VII Corps in the Gulf War, as well as make the decision to be cautious rather than agressive by pausing overnight, fearing unexploded ordnance, friendly fire in night ops and intel reports that the Hammorabi Division of the Republican Guards was going to be a tough fight. This decision was publicly and soundly criticized. This is not here to argue its merits for or against.

But it was General Fred Franks who commanded VII Corps. That has to be embarrassing for the Royal Military Academy.

This is also not to make any judgment that Tommy Franks was a great general nor that Fred Franks was a horrible general. But, if one is going to take shots at generals, the least a self-touted military academician can do is get the generals' histories and names straight beforehand.

Gustafson references General Bernard Trainor and his recent book, Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. Perhaps he should reference his previous book on the Gulf War, The General's War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf. For easy reference, please see pages 379-380.

Proper sight alignment and sight picture is not a trivial marksmanship detail.

Leave it to the Sargents to sort out, I suppose.

Carry on.

Saudi Arabia Moderating?

"Saudi officials refuse to accept that Wahhabism, the extreme form of Islam which has dominated the kingdom for 70 years, provides a theological justification for terrorism by preaching the absolute renunciation of all non-Muslims. None the less, in the past year, the government has barred a thousand clerics from teaching, in the first concerted move to foster a more tolerant brand of Islam." This case is made by Lindsey Hilsum in the New Statesman.

Saudi Arabia's government is finally making moves to "re-educate" Islamic extremists - but a new generation of jihadis is ready to take their place.

If true and actually embraced by Saudi Arabia's leadership, then this is the first truly positive development in the ongoing Global Jihad that gives hope that America may not have to fight alone, if at all. The generational change needed in order to defeat the extremist ideology has not necessarily begun in full. The influential Sauid clerics take their teachings beyond the Kingdom, but have not yet done so. Islam moves slowly and deliberately - how long has it taken the extremists to sell their version of Islam? How much violence has it taken to remove western criticism? How much peace will it take to remove the violence?

Moderate imams have been deployed to enter the chatrooms of radical jihadi websites and persuade extremists that their ideology is wrong, as part of a campaign called al-Sakinah (Tranquillity). Yet according to Khaled al-Maeena, editor of the English-language newspaper Arab News, roughly 30 to 40 per cent of the Saudi population resists change, and conservative clerics still wield influence. "It's a cultural thing," he said. "And it's about power. They're a hydra-headed monster. They control education, the pulpit and the media. Until now, the government turned a blind eye, but 9/11 and the attacks in Riyadh gave them a cudgel."

And Hilsum goes on with more.

About 500 Saudi men are believed to have gone to fight in Iraq, and some fear that they could become like the generation of fighters who returned from the war in Afghanistan, reintroducing extremism to the kingdom. Such fears are the basis for what reformers regard as an excuse for delaying liberalisation. "If the reform is perceived as being in line with Islam, then it will be helpful in the fight against terrorism," says General Mansur. "But if it's seen as competing with Islam, you never know - it could encourage the extremists to do something again."

Hope comes at a cost. The price is of those who have learned terrorism to resist democratic change - the bin Laden's who fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan and the al Zarqawi's who fought against democracy in Iraq could form the basis of future efforts for world peace, but only if their cause is successful and only if they escape Iraq. That's one reason why our mission in Iraq is not only to support the democratic process, but to hunt down and neutralize (either capture or kill) any foreign terrorist plying his trade in Iraq. The two goals are mutually supporting. Although the real victory will not be seen for many years to come, when it is realized, it will be looked back upon as Reagan's victory over the Soviets in the Cold War has been.

The Muslim world's new martyrs

In the continuing series of posts regarding the ongoing Global Jihad, it's important to document that which can be measured. Ideology and an interpretation of it as extreme or moderate cannot be measured, except by the acts of its adherents. However, population shifts are more indicative regarding levels of tolerance, especially so within the Islamic world. Here's an article by Richard Cheznoff which tracks the emigration of Christian populations from Muslim countries.

Even in Islamic countries not strictly run by Sharia law, pressures mount on local Christians to leave the homes they've known for centuries. Iraq's Christian sects, among the oldest Christian communities anywhere in the world, have been directly targeted by terrorist bombs, and Christians are now high on the list of those fleeing Iraq's sectarian strife. Thirty years ago, Lebanon was 60% Christian. Since then, an estimated 3.5 million Christians have emigrated, reducing the country's Christian population percentage to barely 25%. And in the Palestinian territories, direct and indirect pressures have also led to an increasing Christian exodus. One striking result: Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus and once a predominantly Christian Arab community now has an overwhelming Muslim majority.

And an opposite trend that has led to violence is the immigration of Muslims into Europe. No one can forget the riots in France that went on from October 27th to November 16th, 2005.

The BBC reported that French society's negative perceptions of Islam and social discrimination of immigrants had alienated some French Muslims and may have been a factor in the causes of the riots; "Islam is seen as the biggest challenge to the country's secular model in the past 100 years." It reported that there was a "huge well of fury and resentment among the children of North African and African immigrants in the suburbs of French cities." However, the editorial also questioned whether or not such alarm is justified, citing that France's Muslim ghettos are not hotbeds of separatism and that "the suburbs are full of people desperate to integrate into the wider society."

Along with France, there was Muslim violence in seven other countries during this time frame. Although BBC took efforts to note that the Islamic extremist element was not the reason for the riots, the underlying theme, seemingly missed by BBC was that the youth were not employed and were not employable - what did they bring to France that made them valuable to the French economy? This may seem like a cold statement, but isn't that the crux of the Hispanic arguments regarding illegal immigrants in America - they work hard; they do jobs Americans won't do?

What jobs will the immigrant youth do in France that need done? Showing potential employers their violent side will not endear them to the employment community. Plus, France's socialism is stressed to the extreme - guaranteed employment resulted in a youth-labor law that has since been repealed. Once hired, an employer cannot rid himself of an intransigent employee. The incentive to not just work, but to work hard is missing. All in all, it makes for an economy destined for failure. And SHaria within a secular society like France will not work, but that appears to be the goal of some in France.

Few people seem prepared to connect the dots. Some American evangelical groups like the Washington-based International Christian Concern try to raise the alarm. And America's Copts, especially those based in the New York area, actively lobby against the legal and social discrimination that face their Egyptian co-religionists. Yet most mainstream church groups seem to ignore the threat.

Shelby Steele has written an opinion piece that needs to be read thoroughly for full appreciation. Here's an applicable quote.

They struggle, above all else, to dissociate themselves from the past sins they are stigmatized with. When they behave in ways that invoke the memory of those sins, they must labor to prove that they have not relapsed into their group's former sinfulness. So when America--the greatest embodiment of Western power--goes to war in Third World Iraq, it must also labor to dissociate that action from the great Western sin of imperialism. Thus, in Iraq we are in two wars, one against an insurgency and another against the past--two fronts, two victories to win, one military, the other a victory of dissociation.

And the Global Jihad goes on.

Oil Key To U.S. Security

Former CIA Director James Woolsey reads ThreatsWatch! Or so it seems from his comments while visiting Pittsburgh yesterday.

In these pages, we've called it the Terror Tax. We've discussed how such dependence upon foreign oil puts significant amounts of money into the coffers of hostile governments, and in some cases, their openly hostile terrorist expediters.

Imagine another terrorist attack -- especially one on Saudi Arabian oil refineries, former CIA Director R. James Woolsey said Monday during a visit to Pittsburgh. If terrorists took out the sulfur-cleaning towers in northeastern Saudi Arabia, as described in the beginning of Robert Baer's book, "Sleeping With the Devil," crude oil prices could easily top $150 a barrel and stay there for more than a year, Woolsey said.
They also don't want to think about where some of the money goes when they buy gasoline -- to groups that threaten the U.S., Woolsey said. And it's not just terrorists, but established Middle Eastern regimes that restrict women's rights, have poor education systems and fail to invest in their societies.

In order to come up with foreign policy that makes sense, it is important to understand the key points that drive the issue.

1. We are dependent upon energy, especially oil, and we use lots of it
2. Unless we reduce our overall demand for energy, we need more resources
3. Resources can be coal, oil, hydro, or nuclear (solar, tidal, geothermal cannot currently produce enough to be viable)
4. Coal and oil are limited - but have we exhausted our domestic supply?
5. Oil is used mostly for transportation and home heating, but there still are oil-fired power plants.

Nuclear is not only viable, it would reduce the amount of oil needed by the U.S. greatly through better and cheaper electricity to heat homes, in lieu of oil burners. Nuclear power is much cleaner than oil or coal in regards to acquisition of the fuel and any pollution of the environment during the creation of electricity. Nuclear waste can be processed into something less or non toxic - that technology can be developed and refined while we are building new plants.

Exploiting oil shale in Utah and the oil fields in ANWR add to our domestic supplies for the near term. For the long term, improve gas mileage limits on vehicles, develop alternative fuel vehicles (electric, hydrogen, solar, etc.).

The foreign policy that makes sense is to fill as much of our oil need as possible from domestic sources to stop paying the terror tax. Then produce legislation and funding that would advance America beyond the fossil-fuel era. It can be done and it will be done since coal and oil will run out. In 100 years, few will remember the good old days of the internal combustion engine. Will the change be brought about by this generation? Or will this generation continue to write knee-jerk legislation that solves neither short-term nor long-term problems? This could be the generation of the visionaries that took us to the 22nd Century with grace and dignity, or these times will be known as the times of compromise and indecision, guaranteeing a place in history for someone else, someone willing to make informed and timely decisions.

Or this will be the generation that paid the tax to men who brought a once-great America to her knees.

Inspecting All Cargo Ships Still Not Realistic

It sounds good. Really good. Screen every ship before it leaves its port of origin before it sets sail for the United States to deliver its cargo. But it is simply not realistic. Yet, both the Senate and the House are crafting legislation to require this.

First, there is a distinction between screening and inspection. Inspection is physical. Screening need not entail physical inspection of the cargo/vessel and can entail simply the scrubbing of manifests.

However, to require this of all shipments from all ports is an exercise in futility. Perhaps even those hammering out the bills in committee understand this, which would explain the reluctance to attach a date or deadline for compliance in the language.

Either this is the case, and the paper that will be pushed forth to the floors of the House and Senate is a waste of time performed for public consumption rather than effective security policy and practice, or those involved have no sense of reality beyond the sheltered corridors of the Capital Buildings they occupy.

It goes without saying that it would be a monumental task - if not virtually impossible - to man all foreign ports worldwide with 24/7 teams of American screeners and inspectors (read: Americans insert themselves), capable of professionally and effectively checking, one way or another, every vessel loading and/or containing cargo bound for US shores.

Look at a globe and think about that.

Defeating this approach requires nothing more than a cargo transfer at sea rather than at port. Sure, much more difficult to pull off, but far easier to defeat than it will be to attempt to create the impossible 'wall' envisioned to prevent such an attack.

If you don't want guns in your house, should you travel everywhere and check visitors from their points of origin, leaving the entire trip for them to potentially pick up a weapon post-inspection? Or, rather, is it wise (or just plain more efficient) to concentrate your efforts to improve inspections at your own curb in front of your own door?

Screening at points of origin is an excellent idea, and is in fact already in place. But to suggest that all vessels must be screened at all ports of origin is not only an inefficient use of resources and counterproductive, but it’s downright counterintuitive.

Is this the best our legislative minds can muster? Who is advising them?

May 2, 2006

Rough Men and al-Zarqawi

There has been much discussion of Task Force 145 of late, and for good reason. TF 145 is the reason why Zarqawi is all alone as, quite possibly, the sole foreign terrorist in the al-Qaeda in Iraq leadership ranks.

Currently, TF 145 is divided into four sub units. Task Force West has several dozen commandoes from the U.S. Navy SEAL DevGroup, and a company of U.S. Army Rangers. Task Force Central has several dozen men from U.S. Army Delta Force and a company of Rangers. Task Force North has a about a dozen men from Delta Force, and a company of Rangers. Task Force Black has a few dozen SAS commandoes, with a company of British "Rangers" (the new Special Forces Support Group). TF 145 has a small headquarters element, plus a large intelligence operation, most of which is back in the United States, and connected in real time via satellite. There are also SOCOM helicopters and aircraft present.

The Strategy Page piece provides an excellent glimpse of the combined special forces task force.

"Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

al-Qaeda: 3 Defeats and 4th Move

Somehow, I missed this Sunday. Be sure that you don't and read the whole thing.

In fact al Qaida has not managed a single victory anywhere on the planet. They have won some battles, but they have not won a single one of the wars they have chosen to fight.

Crosspatch takes a scenic tour from Somalia (above) to Afghanistan to Iraq. All of them violent and deadly scenarios of al Qaeda pushing the Caliphate upon chaotic states with weak central governments. All of them failures in their ultimate objective.

Where to now? Palestine. The financial troubles of Hamas appears to be placing the Palestinian territories in the state that al Qaida needs to begin to meddle. There is a weak central government and factions within the governed area in a struggle for control. The conditions are being set for another al Qaida interference operation in the Palestinian authority. Al Qaida now simply needs to spark civil war so it can come "riding to the rescue" in its mind ... but in reality "riding to defeat" if the past is any indication of the future.

So when you read NewsBriefs about al-Qaeda targeting Fatah leaders, pay close attention.

Mexico's War on Drugs: A Solution

Or...Drug Wars, Mexican Style.

With deadly incursions by warring drug gangs along our southern borders, Mexico's engagement to curtail the illegal activities of cartels and traffickers is important. Mexico has solved the problem.

James G. Poulos brings the story. The Mexican solution: Make drug possession legal, and the illegal activity disappears.

Exhibit A -- the new bill intended to decriminalize drug possession on a sweeping scale. "Small amounts of drugs" may be had and indulged unpunished -- with two pounds of peyote qualifying as small. [....]

But this possibility, which was floated without embarrassment in my Criminal Law class, was also offered in lecture as an extremely weak justification for a correlated idea: the decriminalization of drugs like heroin and cocaine. Mexico in its infinite wisdom has neglected to draw the line -- whereas even strong supporters of soft drug legalization, who have had occasion to think through the issue properly, can understand that some drugs are so dangerous -- to the fabric of social and personal order -- that no amount of socioeconomic cost reduction is worth their decriminalization.

As Mexico devolves, illegal immigration of fleeing Mexicans will only increase. Legalization of possession of 2 pounds of peyote (among other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin) will only make the violence spilling over our borders more prevalent.

Security along our southern border with Mexico will only suffer.

America can only do so much to secure it (and we are hardly approaching that level). But the true long-term solution, as alluded to in the previous RapidRecon entry, lies beyond our border and beyond our sphere of direct influence.

May 1, 2006

Economic Security: Who's losing Latin America?

That's what The Center for Security Policy is asking today in the wake of mass demonstrations by and on the behalf of illegal immigrants in the United States.

These activities demonstrate two realities: First, life is good in this country and the opportunities for economic advancement are extraordinary for those willing to work hard.

Second, life is typically not so good in Mexico and the other Latin American nations from which these illegal aliens principally come. Unfortunately, if present political, economic and social trends continue south of our border, there will likely be many more immigrants coming here unlawfully in search of better lives, and to flee increasingly hard ones in their own countries.

In fact, a prospective surge in illegal immigration - perhaps coupled with a further radicalization of those already in this country - are just some of the reasons why these worrisome trends should command far greater attention from American policy-makers and citizens alike. Despite the serious and almost-without-exception adverse implications of events throughout Central and South America for our strategic, trade and security interests, however, neither the Bush Administration nor either party in Congress is doing much to address them.

In asking the question, CSP looks at the very troubling political trend in Latin America and the rise of hard leftists in positions of leadership. Castro is joined now by Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, Ollanta Humala, and soon will likely add to the list Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the "rabidly anti-American former mayor of Mexico City."

CSP begins their conclusion by repeating the question.

The consequence of all these elections may well be the complete undoing of Ronald Reagan's legacy of successfully countering and, with the notable exception of Castro's Cuba, defeating totalitarianism in our hemisphere. At some point in the not-too- distant future, the question will be asked, probably with political repercussions: "Who lost Latin America?"

There is trouble brewing within our own hemisphere. In many ways, the wave of illegal immigration is a symptom of a greater, more difficult problem to solve - a problem not solvable within our own borders.

For, as long as it remains exponentially better 'here' than it is 'there', America's economic security faces an increasingly significant and sustained threat.

When Soldiers Stop Soldiering

There is a good reason the United States refuses to sign on to the International Criminal Court. Witness the effect such a mindset has on British troops, evidenced in a 'secret Ministry of Defense report', according to the UK's Telegraph. While none of the investigations cited have risen to the level of prosecution in The Hague, it is clear that the same mindset is what drives the mentality.

Britain doesn't even need The Hague. Fear of it drives self-policing to levels that get into the minds of soldiers so pervasively that they fear action for legal reasons. This mentality of legal fear neutralized a military force, rendering it ineffectual.

From the article headlined British troops in Iraq are afraid to open fire, secret MoD report confirms...

British troops in Iraq "lack the confidence to open fire" because of a "fear of prosecution", says a confidential Ministry of Defence (MoD) report seen by The Sunday Telegraph.

It confirms that soldiers believe that if they shoot dead insurgents they will become embroiled in a "protracted investigation" and if prosecuted will receive "no support from the chain of command".

There are incidents that warrant investigation and, at times, prosecution. But it is clear that, for British troops, they believe their trained warrior instincts are no longer compatible with the legal nature of warfare today.

This, clearly, is an aspect our enemies are not hindered by. It is a sign of our character in the West. But, it clearly can be carried to self-defeating extremes.

I met several British Royal Marines during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. They were intelligent, alert and tough as nails. It is hard to imagine those same men pausing for legal considerations in self-defense or amidst legal operations. Their warrior instincts were surely as good as any around. Yet, clearly this is no longer enough or trustworthy, for the non-warrior bureaucracy is currently getting into their heads at a level that can arguably be described as nothing short of debilitating.

Imagine American Marines, soldiers, airmen and sailors prosecuting a war where the primary objective is to avoid prosecution for executing warfare, and the secondary objective in the mind of the trigger-puller is victory.

Perhaps those who support the ICC in The Hague have thought of precisely this.

Dissent NOT Highest Form of Patriotism

How interesting - a certain group's rallying cry turns out not to be the stated reality. The oft-quoted "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism," did not originate with Thomas Jefferson at all, but from one Howard Zinn in an interview with ThomasPaine.com. Here's another Zinn quote. “We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.”

Mark Steyn has an engaging review of the misattributed Jefferson quote, its use since 9/11, and what it means for one particular political party.

According to the Jefferson Library: "There are a number of quotes that we do not find in Thomas Jefferson's correspondence or other writings; in such cases, Jefferson should not be cited as the source. Among the most common of these spurious Jefferson quotes are: 'Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.' "

Steyn is less than congenial toward a crowd that would embrace an open call for anti-Americanism. Not that presenting one's point of view and trying to persuade others to accept that point of view is bad, but attacking America without offering alternatives or a better way to get there (wherever "there" may be) is just whining. Where's your plan? And could it possibly be that you actually stand for nothing? Convince us otherwise and that would restore some honor to politics.

What does it mean when so many senior Democrats take refuge in an obvious bit of hooey? Thomas Jefferson would never have said anything half so witless. There is no virtue in dissent per se. When John F. Kennedy said, "We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty" — and, believe it or not, that's a real quote, though it's hard to imagine any Massachusetts Democrat saying such a thing today — I could have yelled out, "Hey, screw you, loser." It would have been "dissent," but it wouldn't have been patriotic, and it's certainly not a useful contribution to the debate, any more than that of the University of North Carolina students at Chapel Hill who recently scrawled on the doors of the ROTC armory "F—- OFF!" and "WE WON'T FIGHT YOUR WARS!"

A real Jefferson quote is “Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. education and free discussion are the antidotes of both.” Please give a speech where you discuss a plan, and avoid any attacks on the other guy. I expect that you will find this impossible since your party can only agree on one thing - "Bush is bad, mmkay."

Moving on to the immigration rally - there is no problem with supporting immigrant rights. Immigrants made America great, but they made her great by becoming Americans. How many first generation (fill in originating country here) Americans, born to those who immigrated from the old country, never learned the language of the their parents? Being bilingual has been shown to demonstrate higher IQ in children. So why was learning one's parents' language such a bad thing? The quote that says it all - "We're Americans now - we speak English here." "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to be free." A great inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty. Liberty and Freedom - the highest ideals of this great country of ours.

Neither socialism nor communism ensure that a country is free. If there are no free decisions regarding one's economics or one's political voice, then there is no freedom. Freedom means you have the ability to choose your own destiny. But this means that you have to live with the consequences of your decisions. If you've made bad life decisions or things just have not gone your way, you will probably not drive an expensive car or live in a fancy house. That's okay - that's the result of freedom. If you make a better life for yourself and your family by working two jobs, or by ensuring your children get their higher education, then you have won the game of life. If you have not made things better and demand later in life that the government take care of you, that's where we go our separate ways regarding the meaning of freedom. The Statue of LIberty welcoming quote is for those who are willing to work to make America a better place - not those who cost more than they give back.

Today is May Day - still a holiday in Russia, just because the Russians like their holidays. They simply attach a different meaning to the day off as the political winds blow from differing directions. Today is also the day of the big immigrant rallies and that was the entire reason for this post. We here at ThreatsWatch do not agree with the Bush immigration stance - we write, we petition our Congressional leaders, and in November, we'll vote. Our dissent is with the open border. Before anything else, we must stop the illegal immigration. Illegal means that the U.S. Government does not know you are here. Yes - we agree that the work visa process must be improved, quotas increased, etc. But in order to deal with any other issue, the first thing that must happen is that free border crossing is stopped. Period.

Illegal immigration has negatively affected state budgets, the federal budget, and the security of this nation. We understand that the majority of these folks are hard working - that is not the issue. Let's fix the process to get them work visas and then let them work for a little better pay, and most importantly, protection under the law. Illegal immigrants are not protected from employer abuse - this is a violation of the 13th Amendment (Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.) But only citizens or those legally authorized to be here have any Constitutional protections.

Stop the illegal part, then let's work to fix the other parts - it is impossible to fix everything at once. There will be no single "sweeping" legislation that will take care of it. There are already plenty of laws on the books - we do not need more. We need enforcement of existing laws and Congress to budget for the building of a border that is not easy to penetrate, whether that is a fence or with extensive manpower. Then maybe we can have an intellectual debate regarding the status of those already here. Today's rallies may accomplish more than expected for the open-borders crowd - they could rally the much larger majority of American citizens against illegal immigrants "If you're here illegally and you don't want to work, there is no need to have you here." Think about this before you walk off your job and head into the streets to demand legal protections and benefits.

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