Links on Iraq, John Doe, The Most Disturbing Statement I've Seen all Week
Here's a rundown on it. I picked that rundown because it is favorable to the bill, yet not nearly as inflammatory as it some of the Conservative blogs out there.
For the record: In the Case of the Flying Imams, I do believe the passengers were justified in being nervous. I do believe that the airline acted reasonably. I do NOT believe that Middle Eastern Military-age Males praying in public, moving around an airplane and congregating together, and requesting seat belt extenders that look like ready-made weapons is a negligible threat.
On the other hand, whenever someone says, "Allahu Akbar," I reflexively duck, then go after the shouter with the intent to detain at a minimum.
On the other hand, there are obvious abuses which spring to mind. Let's say Joe and Jane Arab, or Persian, or Indonesian, are law-abiding homeowners in the suburbs. Let's say Joe Indonesian has a card game on Thursday nights with a couple of his buddies--who also happen to be Indonesians, or Pakistanis, or whatever. Maybe they all know each other from their mosque, where they go more or less out of family tradition and because they believe it is 'good for the kids'. Let's further suggest that Joe Indonesian has an ongoing dispute with his neighbor, Bob Sixpack. Maybe Bob's kids won't stay out of Mrs. Indonesian's flower garden. Maybe Bob's daughter turns her stereo up too loud and Joe complains about it. Whatever. Petty neighborhood disputes are as American as blatant xenophobia and ignorance of other languages.
So Bob Sixpack calls his local FBI office with an anonymous tip about the "cell" of "Arab" terrorists.
What then? Does FBI Agent ignore it and risk his career? Do Joe and Jane get a no-knock warrant executed on their front door on Thursday evening?
Even if you set aside malicious intent, there's the question of knowledge. I have a pretty good idea what to look for in a suicide bomber. Do you? Does Fred All-American know the difference between a Costa Rican who owns a construction business taking his family to Disney World, and Jamal abu Jihadi who is taking a one-way flight to the afterlife? Hell, no. Most American's can't peg the ethnic group of someone with a dark complexion more than half the time. Most Americans cannot pick the potential suicide bomber out of a crowd. Part of that is because they have not been educated--because of liability issues, who wants to take responsibility for saying that a Middle Eastern military-aged man with a freshly-shaved beard, smelling of flower water, who is either nervous or stoned, wearing unseasonably bulky clothing, is most likely to be someone you want to tackle now and ask questions of later?
I'm not sure that everyone needs the blanket legal protection implied in this act. I think it could have been better thought out.
Here's another thought-provoking article, which asks where the universal Leftist allegations of voter fraud we heard from the Left were utterly absent in 2006? The point is raised that, unlike the allegations of Bush's cheating, the questionable nature of the 2006 elections is underscored by instances of voter fraud in Seattle, Florida, New York, and other locations across the country. I guess it comes down to the question of whose ox is being gored?
Meanwhile, in the news on the actual war. . .
The New York Times admits there is great progress in much of Iraq.
I'm shocked that this saw publication.
"The political debate in Washington is surreal. The Bush administration has over four years lost essentially all credibility. Yet now the administration’s critics, in part as a result, seem unaware of the significant changes taking place.
"Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with."Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack have left the reservation?
"American advisers told us that many of the corrupt and sectarian Iraqi commanders who once infested the force have been removed. The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq)."
"In war, sometimes it’s important to pick the right adversary, and in Iraq we seem to have done so. A major factor in the sudden change in American fortunes has been the outpouring of popular animus against Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups, as well as (to a lesser extent) against Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army."
"These groups have tried to impose Shariah law, brutalized average Iraqis to keep them in line, killed important local leaders and seized young women to marry off to their loyalists. The result has been that in the last six months Iraqis have begun to turn on the extremists and turn to the Americans for security and help. The most important and best-known example of this is in Anbar Province, which in less than six months has gone from the worst part of Iraq to the best (outside the Kurdish areas). Today the Sunni sheiks there are close to crippling Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies. Just a few months ago, American marines were fighting for every yard of Ramadi; last week we strolled down its streets without body armor."What? The New York Times is saying what Conservative milbloggers have been saying for months now?
I guess that once in a while, journalism happens even the most corrupt places.
Tigerhawk points out an implication of the last paragraph that some of you might have missed, though I've been saying this for years.
"It has begun to dawn on even lefties with a couple of brain cells to rub together that we ain't fighting Iraq here. That war is over. We won. Saddam ain't the winner if we leave. He and the Baathists are dead. We are allied with "Iraq" in a fight against Salafist Al Qaeda. We had to figure out how to create our ally -- literally recreate Iraq -- and General Petraeus seems to have figured out how to do that. And furthermore, that ally has in turn figured out that in Petraeus and his strategy, Iraq has a capable friend in the US."
"The corollary is that if we leave, Al Qaeda wins. Not Iraq. Not Saddam. Al Qaeda. Got it?"
Blackfive ties this NYT piece, the above-mentioned question, and the congressional testimony of Francis J. West into a coherent whole.
Let me quote from Mr. West's testimony.
"It makes a vast difference to our self-esteem as a nation, to our reputation around the world and to the morale of our enemies whether we say we are withdrawing because the Iraqi forces have improved or because we have given up.
"That issue towers above any discussion of tactics, logistics diplomacy or even timing. The Iraqi Study Group and former Secretary of State Kissinger have suggested that negotiations might yield an honorable withdrawal - some sort of compromise that extracts American soldiers while not precipitating a collapse inside Iraq. But it's not clear what convergence of interests with Iran or Syria would persuade them to cease supporting insurgents. And inside Iraq, the Jesh al Mahdi extremists and al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) must be destroyed, not placated.
"Separate from AQI, though, there are a dozen other Iraqi insurgent groups. At the local level, there have been productive negotiations with the tribes, undoubtedly including some of these insurgents. These bottom-up understandings, focused against AQI, occurred because military action changed the calculus of the tribes about who was going to win. Successful negotiations flowed from battlefield success, not the other way around."His final points are excellent.
"First, General Petraeus is our wartime leader. He has a smart, experienced staff. He will provide to you a fulsome, balanced assessment in September - far superior to anything you will hear in the interim."
"Second, how you, our elected leaders, depict our withdrawal will have profound consequences. To a very large extent, you will shape the narrative, determining how our great nation is perceived and how friends and enemies respond to us."
"Third, if the rationale for withdrawal is because Iraq seems hopeless, then leaving behind a residual force is fraught with peril. You cannot quit, and expect to manage what happens after you quit. Iraq, if it perceives it is being abandoned, could fly apart quickly."
"Fourth, the rationale for withdrawal drives everything that comes thereafter. Why are we withdrawing? Is it because we as a nation have given up, concluding that full-scale civil war is inevitable; or has our military succeeded, allowing Iraqi forces to maintain stability?"
The Belmont Club provides commentary from yet another angle, looking at a potential catastrophe in Iraq (for al-Qaeda, not us) as a possible death-knell for that organization and hopefully its ideology.
"My own guess is that by attacking al-Qaeda, the US took engaged not only the most fanatical force in Iraq but the one with the most powerful narrative. And by shrewdly matching kinetic warfare with political warfare, organizing the victims of al-Qaeda's depredations, it brought the myth down to earth. As long as al-Qaeda remained an "idea" it might be regarded as invincible, a mystical will o' the wisp. But once this mystical force was forced to materialize in Iraq, it became embodied in the likes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his henchmen, who, viewed up close, turned out to be nothing more than brutal gangsters of the lowest and most sadistic type instead of latter day Companions of the Prophet. Even Zawahiri, despite his pretensions to refinement, could not avoid discrediting himself as he proved unable to resist threatening to gouge people's eyes out if they did not follow his bidding. It is said that no man is a hero to his own valet. Familiarity with the genuine article brought disillusionment, contempt and finally hatred for al-Qaeda."
Finally, at least for the Iraq Question, let me share two links to day-to-day looks at what this war is like:
Stars and Stripes tells the story of an anti-crime operation in an area formerly an insurgent stronghold.
Michael Totten shares his experiences on a raid.
The Most Disturbing Statement I've Seen all Week?
It comes from a Livejournal post. Most of it talks about economics, which frankly I'm not terribly interested in. Stock market collapses, I still have a job. Civilians worry about that stuff. I try and keep the barbarians from burning down Wall Street. It's a living.
The disturbing bit?
"Hard for me to even imagine an Army that isn't staunchly Republican, but before Viet Nam apparently is was about 1/3 Republican, 1/3 Independent, 1/3 Democrat."
Ummm. . . wow. I don't even know where to begin with that. I need clarification before I can decide HOW it creeps me out, but I know it does.
If he means he can't imagine a Democrat deciding to defend his, her, or its country, that says something about Democrats. Something that would have Harry Truman rolling over in his grave.
Then again, nowadays Harry Truman would be considered about the center of the Republican Party. I understand that Yuripup is younger than I am (I'm all of 29) and so he certainly doesn't remember a time when the Democratic Party and the politicians affiliated with the party had anything resembling respect for the Armed Forces. Which explains why we generally return the same contempt and disgusts in their direction. :)
Reinforces what I said before, here.
EDIT: Upon recieving further information, I stand corrected. Yuripup is a decade older than I did, but only began following politics closely enough to concern himself with the Armed Forces in 1985. Which makes sense.