"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

The Surge in Iraq: One Year Later

From Lt. Gen. Raymond T Odierno writing for The Heritage Foundation.

Stories in the press described the situation in Iraq as spiraling out of control. One Los Angeles Times arti­cle discussed the rising level of sectarian violence in Baghdad and how this violence seemed to feed on itself. Placing his account in context, the writer men­tioned that al-Qaeda had detonated a bomb in the Shia neighborhood of Sadr City the previous week, killing over 200 people. This was the latest in a steady run of high-profile attacks since the Golden Mosque bomb­ing of February 2006 in Samarra. And for at least one Shiite living in Baghdad, it was the last straw.

LTG Odierno descibes the political situation in Iraq.

In late 2006, the progress we can observe now was unthinkable. In short, we could hardly expect successful transition or meaningful reconciliation without basic security. Establishing security for the population was a prerequisite for further progress. It was essential. And to make a decisive impact, we needed more combat power and a change in approach.

What helped turn Iraq around?

However, it is important that I mention one other factor that informed our planning and deci­sion-making process. On December 19, 2006, we captured some mid-level al-Qaeda leaders just north of Baghdad. Upon them was a map that clearly depicted al-Qaeda's strategy for the total and unyielding dominance of Baghdad, betting that control of Iraq's capital and its millions of cit­izens would give them free rein to export their twisted ideology and terror.

This map can be found at the Institute for the Study of War. This map was significant in that it described how Al Qaeda in Iraq used the belts around Baghdad to execute terrorists acts in Baghdad. It also showed the disposition of Al Qaeda in Iraq. The map confirmed the American military what had just been written in its new Counterinsurgency doctrine, namely, the decisive point in Iraq was Baghdad and overarching goal of coalition forces should be to protect and secure the population.

It meant changing our mindset as we secured the people where they worked and slept and where their children played. It meant developing new tac­tics, techniques, and procedures in order to imple­ment this concept. We began to establish Joint Security Stations and Combat Outposts throughout Baghdad. We erected protective barriers and estab­lished checkpoints to create "safe neighborhoods" and "safe markets," improving security for Iraqis as they went about their daily lives.

To secure the population, American forces established Joint Security Stations in and around the people to ensure their security and protection. They also increased the operational capacity of Iraqi Security Forces to be able to hold ground, freeing up American forces to continue to attack and keep pressure on Al Qaeda in Iraq (Sunni terrorists) and Special Groups (Shiite terrorists).

This multipronged approach resulted in enhanced economic activitiy as the population now begin to go back to markets. This translated into Iraqis giving American forces more tips to sustain their new security and economic actitivity. Partnering up with Iraqi Forces put them in harms way, made them more proficient, and allowed more pairing up with US forces. In the long run, many Iraqi Army units begin to take the lead in fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq and Special Groups.

The complete turn around in Al Anbar provided US forces a model by which to convert insurgents to work for vice against the Iraqi Government and American military. In turn, people were now protected by Sons of Iraq, locals paired with local police, supplemented by Iraqi Security Forces. Al Qaeda in Iraq could now not move back into regions cleared by American forces. They began to flee causing American forces to be able to find them quicker. The situation spiraled out of control for Al Qaeda in Iraq.

In turn, the populous now experienced substantial economic growth and development and begin to turn wholesale against extremists, whether Sunni or Shia. The surge produced hope for the Iraqi people. As hope increases so does anti-extremism. This hope continues to grow and is now present all over Iraq and is beginning to flow out of Iraq to other neighboring countries.

Precisely right when many were proposing we accept defeat in Iraq, we now see almost a complete rout of Al Qaeda in Iraq and to a certain extent a rout of Special Groups. Many times in war, hope is all that is needed to turn the tables on the enemy. We gave not only Iraqis hope but many other people hope in the Middle East. This hope would not have been there if we had pulled out forces in 2007. Instead we surged forces, routed Al Qaeda in Iraq, and gave people of the region hope for freedom and democracy in their future.

For a full read, click here.

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We Used Women and Children as Human Shields


[The enemies of Allah] do not know that the Palestinian people has developed its [methods] of death and death-seeking. For the Palestinian people, death has become an industry, at which women excel, and so do all the people living on this land. The elderly excel at this, and so do the mujahideen and the children. This is why they have formed human shields of the women, the children, the elderly, and the mujahideen, in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine. It is as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: "We desire death like you desire life."

This statement should be enough not to hold fire when terrorists are hiding behind women and children.

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Unprecedented Coalition strike nails the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan

From the Long War Journal.

A decisive Coalition strike against a high-level meeting of Taliban-linked insurgents on March 12 took place one and a half kilometers inside Pakistani territory, US military officials have confirmed to The Long War Journal. Several precision-guided munitions struck a compound owned by a senior member of the Haqqani Network, a powerful Taliban splinter group that is based in the Pakistani tribal state of North Waziristan. The strike occurred shortly after multiple intelligence sources confirmed the presence of the group’s upper echelon inside the compound. Several other high-level Haqqani commanders, including Sirajjudin Haqqani, had planned to attend this meeting, intelligence sources confirmed.

Many more strikes are occuring of Pakistani soil. This is the third strike in two months. We are beginning to see the start of increased coordination between Musharraf and Coalition forces in the region to disrupt the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the tribal regions.

For a full read, click here.

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Iran's Fear - Iraq's Chance

From Amir Taheri.

'I HAVE lost hope of liberating Iraq and turning it into an Is lamic society." So said Muqtada al-Sadr in an open letter to his followers published last week.

The young Shiite mullah once claimed he would lead Iraq "back to true Islam," but he has been in Iran for at least the last six months. He had been expected to announce an end to the cease-fire observed by his Mahdi Army since 2007. Instead, he voiced a litany of woes that ended with an implicit pledge not to reactivate his death squads.

The exodus of Sadr from Iraqi politics came as a shock to many observers, including this one. But, as always the questions must be asked, why? The answer lies in his exodus speech.

Muqtada blamed members of his entourage and unnamed mullahs and Shiite notables for having "undermined the struggle" for "worldly reasons" and for having succumbed to the temptation of wealth and power presented to them by the Iraqi government. [Emphasis Added]

There exists two characteristics of a young democracy.

First, it brings a weak federal government. A weak central government is a result of a constitution which is overly cautious of tyranny. A weak central government is plaqued with a series of checks and balances buttressed by extreme partisanship which hinders its ability to serve the people. In addition, new democratic leadership is still focused on the old power (the wealthy) vice the new power (the people). We are seeing this phenomenon in Iraq currently.

Secondly, as a result of the weak central government's inability to serve the people, local power brokers arise. These power brokers arise as a result of the need of the people to be served. In Iraq, this niche is being filled by tribal leaders and political parties.

Sadr, early on, represented an old power and hence became a power broker at the local level. He lost the support of the people because of a third phenonoma of a young democracy, namely the violent, mafia-style ruling of local power brokers. Specifically, his organization side-stepped the new rule of law established in the democracy and begin to extort vice protect the people.

It was not the people in Iraq who "succumbed to the temptation of wealth and power". Instead, it was his organization itself that succumbed to this temptation.

Thus, Sadr withdrew from politics, at least in the near term.

Iraq is not only maturing as a young democracy, but also has external influences thrust upon it (Al Qaeda, Syria, and Iran) which have stymied its maturation. The bad side of this external influence is typically violence as the opposing powers seeks influence in the new state. The good side of this external influence is violence accelerates the learning process of a new democracy.

Whereas the US went through several stages of robber barons and mafia control in relative safety due to its geographic isolation, Iraq is going through these stages with antagonists on its immediate borders. The main power broker in the region, Iran, still seeks to make Iraq into a puppet state. However, Iran has recently realized something as a result of the surge.

In recent months, Tehran policymakers have begun to understand a crucial fact about Iraq: Any weakening of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government now could persuade the United States to throw its support behind an alternative, anti-Iranian coalition of Arab Sunnis, Kurds and secular Shiites openly hostile to Iran. [Emphasis Added]

Thus, Tehran and Washington have a joint interest in keeping al-Maliki's coalition in power - at least until next year's Iraqi general election.

As such, Iran, being the theocracy it is, is gravitating to what it knows, namely schooling Sadr to become a full fledge ayatollah to replace the aging Sistani, who many Iranians (and Shiite Lebanese for that matter) still look upon as the spiritual leader of Shiism.

Iranians are looking long term in Iraq, which is why they are risking taking Sadr out of the mix for 5 to 10 years. However, Iraqis are also looking long term and are realizing what all young democratic people realize, namely extremism (whether political or religious)brings factionalization resulting in war which hinders growth and economic prosperity.

Iraqis have shunned extremists. It first happened in Al Anbar when the Sunni tribes kicked Al Qaeda in Iraq out of the province. It happened with Sadr's Madhi Army which was forced into a ceasefire in August 2007 after the violence it perpetuated in Karbala. It more recently happened south of Baghdad in the triangle of death region. It is currently happening in the religiously mixed area of the Diyala and the city of Mosul.

So where does this leave Iraq, Iran, and the US. The US has a few major factors going for it. First, it is impartial and is not taking sides among extremists. Secondly, it brought forth and continues to bring freedom and democracy to the region. Thirdly, it is assisting the people. These three factors are why the US is the major power in the region.

Iraq, attempting to model the instruments of power the US wields is establishing a strong, mostly secular Army that is going after all extremists, whether Sunni or Shia. The government is attempting to bring economic prosperity to its people. It is allowing free press which tells of its achievements and its failings. Finally, it is diplomatically pursuing external relationships among its fellow nations, including Iran.

Iran, unfortunately for them, gravitates only to what it knows, namely theocratic rule and suppression. Democracy has been brought to Iraq. Iraqis have fought for and are still fighting for the freedom that democracy brings. Iran, with it sectarian ways, continues to alienate fellow Iraqis who only want freedom and democracy.

If Sadr had real power, his position as an ayatollah would not matter. Iran believes it does matter and is taking Sadr out of the mix to increase his theocratic power. However, by the time he returns, Iraq (the most secular nation in the middle east prior to 2003) will grow more secular and be more distrustful of theocratic powers.

The only thing the US needs to continue to do is maintain its nonpartisanship presence in the region. It needs to support the duly elected powers in Iraq and continue to push for a transparent, democratic government. Upon new elected powers, it needs to support the new government as long as they maintain the rule of law and continue to pursue a tranparent democracy.

Iraqis want freedom and democracy. The US has given it to them. Iraqis have fought for and won their freedom and are continuing to build a democracy which every day is learning better to serve the people that brought it into power. Upcoming provincial and national elections are important, as Mr. Taheri points out, because it will continue to bring in new local power brokers to the federal government. If wanting to stay in power, these now national level, local power brokers will have to legislate for the people.

Iran is operating under the wrong paradigm. As such, it will fail to achieve its objective as long as the US maintains a fair, nonpartisan presence in the country. Al Qaeda never learned this lesson and was expelled from Al Anbar because of it. It is currently being expelled wholesale from Iraq. As Iraqs continue to experiment with democracy and the democracy grows to serve the people, Iran, and other neighbors, will continue to by stymied in all attempts to pursuade the Iraqi government to adopt its principles.

What no nation in the region understands is the transformation taking place in Iraq. It is transforming from a feudal, tribal society to a federalist democracy. Iraqiness is becoming more important than anyting because of the blood that has been spilled to maintain a unified Iraq.

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The Epicycles of Global Warming

From the American Thinker.

When True Believers begin to harbor doubts, they don't immediately give up the faith. It's too scary; too much pride and money has been invested; too many jobs and reputations are on the line; and they need to find a new reason to live. So they always try to add on new wrinkles and qualifications to their crumbling story.

Today that's happening with the global warming cult.

"Human-caused global warming" has now officially been re-named "climate change" to explain the inconvenient truth that the winter of 2007-8 was the coldest in a century, in spite of all those tons of "greenhouse gas" being spewed into the air from all the new factories in China and India. Worldwide temps dropped 0.6 of a degree C in one year. That may not sound like a lot, but it's more than all the ballyhooed warming in the preceding century. [Emphasis Added]

One year of temperature drop has wiped out 100 years of speculation. James Lewis makes a point about Global Warming models that was news to me.

How good are the assumptions in these models? Well consider the fate of Ferenc M. Miskolczi (pronounced Ferens MISkolshee), a first-rate Hungarian mathematician, who has published a proof that "greenhouse warming" may be mathematically impossible. His proof involves long equations, but the bottom line is that the warming models assume that the atmosphere is infinitely thick. Why? Because it simplifies the math. If on the other hand, you assume the atmosphere is about 100 km thick (about 65 miles) -- which has the big advantage of being true -- the greenhouse effect disappears! No more global warming. [Emphasis Added]

Finally for the ending.

When this farce is finally exposed, heads must roll. Not for being wrong about the global warming hoax, because anybody can be wrong -- but for politicizing normal scientific debate. Politicized science kills science. This is one festering boil that has to be lanced.

For a full read, click here.