Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, Iraq, Media Bias, Military, National Security, Politics | Tags: Congressional Endorsement, Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, Operation Iraqi Freedom
Today is the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the War on Iraq. Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the author, most recently of The Syrian Rebellion is an authority on the Middle East.
Nowadays, few people step forth to speak well of the Iraq War, to own up to the support they gave that American campaign in the Arab world. Yet Operation Iraqi Freedom, launched 10 years ago this week, was once a popular war. We had struck into Afghanistan in 2001 to rout al Qaeda and the terrorists’ Taliban hosts—but the 9/11 killers who brought ruin onto American soil were not Afghan. They were young Arabs, forged in the crucible of Arab society, in the dictators’ prisons and torture chambers. Arab financiers and preachers gave them the means and the warrant for their horrific deeds. …
On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom—the first bombs fell on March 19—well over 70% of the American public supported upending the Saddam regime. The temptation to depict the war as George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s is convenient but utterly false. This was a war waged with congressional authorization, with the endorsement of popular acceptance, and with the sanction of more than a dozen United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for Iraq’s disarmament.
On March 19, 2003, President Bush addressed the nation from the Oval Office. He said U.S. forces launched a strike against targets of military opportunity in Iraq, describing the action as the opening salvo in an operation to disarm Iraq and free its people.
From the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, Oct. 31, 1998
Since March 1996, Iraq has systematically sought to deny weapons inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) access to key facilities and documents, has on several occasions endangered the safe operation of UNSCOM helicopters transporting UNSCOM personnel in Iraq, and has persisted in a pattern of deception and concealment regarding the history of its weapons of mass destruction programs. . . .
On August 14, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-235, which declared that ‘the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations’ and urged the President ‘to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations.’ . . .
It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.
Fouad Ajami’s account goes on to recall:
The rationale for the war sustained a devastating blow in the autumn of 2004 when Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. arms inspector for Iraq, issued a definitive report confirming that Saddam had possessed no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. The war now stood on its own—and many of its former supporters claimed that this wasn’t what they had signed up for.
The mainstream media, of course, turned sharply against the war, not that they were ever really for it, but they became really vicious.
Here, you might find some of the articles by Douglas Hanson at American Thinker at the time, of interest. Hanson was a US Army reconnaissance officer for 20 years and a veteran of the Gulf War I. He has a background in radiation biology and physiology and was an Atomic Demolitions Munitions Security Officer, and a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense Officer. He was assigned as the Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
•March 2, 2004: “Case Not Closed: Iraq’s WMD Stockpiles”
•May 20, 2004: “Pesticides, Precursors, and Petulance Revisited”
•August 10, 2004: “WMDs in Iraq – the real story begins to emerge”
•April 27, 2006: “The Yellowcake Connection”
•June 28, 2006: “Saddam’s WMD: Discovery and Denial“
Fouad Ajami continued:
A skilled politician, Mr. Obama made the Iraqi government an offer meant to be turned down—a residual American force that could hardly defend itself, let alone provide meaningful protection for the fledgling new order in Baghdad. Predictably, Iraq’s rulers decided to go it alone as 2011 drew to a close. They had been navigating a difficult course between Iran and the U.S. The choice was made easy for them, the Iranian supreme leader was next door, the liberal superpower was in retreat.
Heading for the exits, Mr. Obama praised Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as “the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq.” The praise came even as Mr. Maliki was beginning to erect a dictatorship bent on marginalizing the country’s Kurds and Sunni Arabs and even those among the Shiites who questioned his writ.
The historians will deal with the Iraq War in time, when the emotions have died down.
According to CBO numbers, August 2010, the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom was $709 billion for military and related activities, including training of Iraqi forces and diplomatic operations. The cost of Obama’s failed stimulus, which passed in February 2009, was $862 billion.
Filed under: China, Europe, History, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Russia | Tags: 1162—1227, Genghis Khan, He Created an Empire
I have mentioned that I never seem to read anything when it first comes out— partly because I usually have a stack of books that I have not yet read, but partly also because you have to be in the right frame of mind for some books. A good friend recommended Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World to me years ago. It was published in 2004, but I never got around to it until now. When I get excited about something I have read, I’m inclined to insist that everyone else read it right now. So consider yourselves warned.
I knew nothing about Genghis Khan except the”Mongol hordes,” Ulaanbaatar, the steppes, and the first stanza of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Xanadu” which I recalled word for word from Survey of English Literature quite a few years ago. Not promising. So I read the Introduction.
In 1937, the soul of Genghis Khan disappeared from the Buddhist monastery in central Mongolia along the River of the Moon below the black Shankh Mountains where the faithful lamas had protected and venerated it for centuries.
Well, who could resist that? Born in 1162, and his soul disappeared in 1937.
Year by year, he gradually defeated everyone more powerful that he was, until he had conquered every tribe on the Mongolian steppe. At the age of fifty, when most great conquerors had already put their fighting days behind them, Genghis Khan’s Spirit Banner beckoned him out of his remote homeland to confront the armies of the civilized people who had harassed and enslaved the nomadic tribes for centuries. …
In conquest after conquest, the Mongol army transformed warfare into an intercontinental affair fought on multiple fronts stretching across thousands of miles. Genghis Khan’s innovative fighting techniques made the heavily armored knights of medieval Europe obsolete, replacing them with disciplined cavalry moving in coordinated units. Rather than relying on defensive fortifications, he made brilliant use of speed and surprise on the battlefield, as well as perfecting siege warfare to such a degree that he ended the era of walled cities. Genghis Khan taught his people not only to fight across incredible distances but to sustain their campaign over years, decades, and, eventually, more than three generations of constant fighting.
Jack Weatherford is the Dewitt Wallace Professor of anthropology at Macalester College in Minnesota. He earned his PhD at the University of California, San Diego, and an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Chinggis Khaan College in Mongolia. He certainly knows how to draw in a reader.
In American terms, the accomplishment of Genghis Khan might be understood if the United States, instead of being created by a group of educated merchants or wealthy planters, had been founded by one of its illiterate slaves, who, by the sheer force of personality, charisma and determination, liberated America from foreign rule, united the people, created an alphabet, wrote the constitution, established universal religious freedom, invented a new system of warfare, marched an army from Canada to Brazil, and opened roads of commerce in a free-trade zone that stretched across the continents. On every level and from any perspective, the scale and scope of Genghis Khan’s accomplishments challenge the limits of imagination and tax the resources of scholarly explanation.
That’s all the sampling I shall give you. Here’s the book at Amazon, though every bookstore should have copies. And here is a young Mongolian musician, Battulga, who plays “Jonon Kharin Yavdal” on a horse headed fiddle which has a skin covered box and horsehair strings (even the bow-string) as in an ancient traditional fiddle. Enjoy.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iraq, Islam, Middle East | Tags: Accidents/ Incompetence/ Rebellion?, Explosions in Iran, The Mediterranean Aflame
Nearly two weeks ago, a mysterious explosion destroyed an Iranian missile development base. The Israeli Military reported on the effect of that explosion, and on the same day, Iran’s official news agency FARS reported that a loud blast was heard in the Iranian city of Isfahan at 2:40 pm local time. A security official confirmed that the explosion had occurred, but refused to give further details. The head of the security department said “we have no exact information; the incident is being investigated.”
FARS news agency said that the blast was heard distinctly in several parts of the Iranian city. they posted a picture from an April bomb attack in Kashmir, and subsequently took it down. The Iranian regime announced that there was no explosion in Isfahan. Members of the Green democracy movement confirm, that there was indeed an explosion in Isfahan. So there you have the news from Iran.
Israeli military intelligence reported earlier today on the last explosion in Iran, which destroyed a missile technology production site at a military base in Tehran which killed one of Iran’s heads of the missile projects:
“The blast in the site where surface-to-surface missiles were developed can delay or bring to a complete halt the production of the missiles at that site,” said head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence Research Section Department Brigadier General Itai Baron at a briefing in the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
“However,” Baron cautioned, “It must be emphasized that Iran has other development sites other than the one that was destroyed.”
So, accident, bad luck, incompetence, Iranian opposition, some outside source? Who knows? According to one blog, at least 17 gas pipeline explosions have been reported since last year. Nearly a dozen major explosions have damaged refineries since 2010. Michael Ledeen suggests that the opposition is abandoning its commitment to non-violence. J.E. Dyer says the attacks seem to be poorly designed, if that’s what they are, but the idea of a war against the mullahs seems a possible explanation.
It’s all speculation at this point. The Middle East is aflame from one end to the other. Not exactly the “Arab Spring” of fantasy. Assad is living on borrowed time, Egypt is near revolution and running out of money, the Muslim Brotherhood is winning across the Arab countries. Saudi Arabia is worried about the development of shale oil. Lots of inspiration for thriller authors, lots of confusion for the rest of us.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Politics | Tags: American Foreign Policy, Arab Spring?, Considering the Middle East.
Arab Spring they called it, as if a million flowers of Democracy were about to bloom. Which was more the triumph of hope over reality. Ghaddafi is gone, but Libya has just announced that their new government would be Islamist in nature and follow Sharia law. And the first thing to be abolished would be the laws against polygamy.
The Arab states of North Africa were revolting against controlling dictatorships, and there were plenty of warnings that they may have not liked their ruling tyrants, but they also had no experience of Democracy. Tunisia had their first election yesterday and it was reportedly a clean, enthusiastic election. Turnout was at 90%. The country adopted a proportional system during the transition that limits the ability of any party to hold too much power. If this remains as a check before new constitutions are adopted it will be a good thing.
The Islamist Nahda party claimed victory by a significant margin. The other main parties conceded. Nahda won about half the votes. Two secular parties did well, and one will probably join Nahda in a coalition. The new constitution is supposed to contain a bill of rights, divide government power, and protect minority rights. After the constitution is adopted, a new round of elections will be held in a year.
The country is one of the most modern and homogenous nations in the Arab world. The dictator Ben Ali family ran a mafia empire, yet today Ben Ali lives in exile in Saudi Arabia. It will take time — lots of time— to see how it will turn out, and it will take a better foreign policy on our part.
Obama’s foreign policy czars are gone. One by one, they have disappeared. Obama’s appointment of the original czars was seen as a way of empowering hand-picked senior officials to instigate a transformational foreign policy without having to submit them to congress for confirmation. Obama’s focus on humility and apology in diplomatic engagement was supposed to be a sharp contrast to the “hard power” emphasis of the Bush administration:
Now that none of them has achieved the diplomatic breakthroughs so naively expected by the newly elected Obama, ambitions have been reduced to not making things any worse—and even that may be difficult.
Barry Rubin has been reporting ever since Barack Obama was inaugurated in January of 2009 on Obama’s disastrous Middle East Policy. His column today is a review and summing up, in the wake of the Arab Spring debacle, of the Obama foreign policy. It’s not pretty. The now dominant view, he says is:
This interpretation considers the virtually sole danger to be al-Qaeda and its terrorist attacks against America. In order to ensure Islamists aren’t radicalized to behave that way, they want to co-opt radical Islamists they consider far less threatening. They insist that such Islamists are far less extreme than people like me say and that holding power will moderate them.
This travesty is born of Western ignorance about Islam and Islamism; discounting the power of ideology and the nature of these societies; assuming that everyone thinks alike in wanting more material goods; putting all their effort into stopping another September 11 (even at the expense of massive strategic losses); presuming moderation is inevitable, etc.
These people believe that the “Turkish model” is just fine and dandy rather than seeing it as an extremely dangerous way for radical Islamists to seize and hold power to carry out anti-American and aggressive goals. This misunderstanding is key to their failure to understand Arab politics or Islamism, as is the idea that Facebook, community-organizer yuppies are any match for jihadists.
I would urge you to read Barry Rubin’s post. I think he is particularly well-informed and correct in his wide-ranging analysis. This isn’t what you will be hearing from the mainstream media who no longer do much searching analysis. If Obama says that bringing the troops home from Iraq by the end of the year is a diplomatic triumph and a praiseworthy event, that is what the MSM will report. We deserve better.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Iraq, Middle East, Military | Tags: American Military, Obama's Failed Negotiations, Self Congratulatory Address
The storyline that plays in Obama’s head is clearly different than the one that plays in mine. Peter Wehner, who served in the Bush administration and writes now frequently at Commentary magazine’s Contentions blog, wrote recently that he thought that Obama has a heroic vision of himself in his head which just doesn’t allow reality to intrude.
This is so odd. Does he really think he’s doing a good job? Is he telling a story that he hopes the rubes will believe? Does he believe what he says? Does he think this story is the one that his base will like and thus believe? Is he just trying to put a good face on an administration blunder, for public consumption?
This article from the New York Times gives some of the back story, and suggests that negotiations are ongoing, but Iraq needed a clear break to signify Iraq’s own sovereignty.
Here is the transcript of the Weekly Address, should you want to consider what the president had to say more closely. Here’s how Scott Johnson of Powerline describes the address.
Obama fits both Libya and Iraq into a “larger story.” In this address he is bringing it all back home, you might say. To the themes of R2P, collective action, and strategic retreat, Obama adds the clear McGovernite note that America is coming home to turn its attention to the important things involving projects in which we have “invested” too little. He really couldn’t be much clearer.
Filed under: Election 2012, Iraq, Middle East, Military, National Security | Tags: Apologize and Retreat, Reelection Efforts, The Obama Doctrine
President Obama has declared his strategy of removing all American military forces from Iraq by the end of the year a success, and he said “Ensuring the success of this strategy has been one of my highest national security priorities ” since taking office. “Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq, tens of thousands of the, will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home. The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops. That is how America’s military effort in Iraq will end.”
Funny, last week he was saying that we are still negotiating with the government in Iraq for American troops to stay longer and help Iraqis to train their military. And in February 2009, to an audience of Marines at Camp Lejune, he stated:
This strategy is grounded in a clear and achievable goal shared by the Iraqi people and the American people: an Iraq that is sovereign, stable, and self-reliant. To achieve that goal, we will work to promote an Iraqi government that is just, representative, and accountable, and that provides neither support nor safe-haven to terrorists. We will help Iraq build new ties of trade and commerce with the world. And we will forge a partnership with the people and government of Iraq that contributes to the peace and security of the region.
That clear and achievable goal has not been met. Iraq is not sovereign, stable or self-reliant. Their difficult next door neighbor, Iran, keeps interfering. They had a successful parliamentary election in February 2010, with a not so successful outcome. There were all sorts of political parties, and the government has not been completely formed, there is no agreement on how the state will be run, or just who will run it. Iraq may not be able to protect its territory or its airspace. The government is not just, representative or accountable, and those new ties of trade and commerce with the world—never mind. But the surge worked. We won.
President Obama, back when he was just a senator from Illinois said” I have been a consistent and strong opponent of this war.” Of the surge, he said “I cannot in good conscience support his escalation. It is a policy which has already been tried and a policy which has failed.” Harry Reid, leader in the Senate, said of the surge when it was underway “This war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything.” So, there is some confusion here about attitudes and aims.
Democrats simply could not overcome their seething emotion about the Iraq War. The cries of Bush Lied, People Died, they accepted as gospel truth, though Bush lied about nothing. Every cooperating government’s intelligence services agreed that Iraq had WMD. There was a very large coalition that went into Iraq and fought together. The deposing of Saddam and his brutal government followed by free elections were like an earthquake in the Middle East. To assume that the current protest and revolt in the arab Middle East is unrelated to Iraq is naive in the extreme. Yet the war in Libya, in which we had no national interest whatsoever, entered on a president’s say so without any approval of Congress is a valiant effort with a successful conclusion that Democrats are celebrating. Consistency is not one of their strong points.
The administration had a real opportunity in Iraq, and they blew it. They did not focus on helping Iraq to meet the opportunity. I don’t know if they ever understood the difficult position of Iraq situated between Iran and Syria, both bent on increasing their influence in Iraq and forcing removal of the U.S. military from the Middle East. They got their fondest wish. Now Obama is concentrated on his reelection effort, and bringing the troops home will appeal to his anti-war base. So much for American goals and objectives. Let us hope that the price is not too high.
Here’s the Foreign Policy take on “How the Obama administration bungled the Iraq withdrawal negotiations.” Christian Whiton’s commentary for Fox News: “Obama Ignores that U.S.Won in Iraq—Twice.” Carl M. Cannon’s essay on: “The Obama Doctrine, Made Plain at Last in Libya, Iraq,” is here. Fredrick M. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan were among the most perceptive commenters on the entire War in Iraq, their piece is “Retreating With Our Heads Held High.”
Filed under: Africa, Capitalism, Economy, Iraq, Military | Tags: Obama's Jobs Program Fail, ObamaCare Long-term Care, Wind and Solar Power
— It’s all so confusing. There had been talk for weeks about CLASS, the long-term care benefit in ObamaCare, primarily that it simply was not financially feasible. It wouldn’t work. So in the Friday news dump, the Obama administration admitted that it wouldn’t work and they were shutting it down. Congresspeople said that they’s better repeal it, because there would still be some provisions in effect. To which Obama objected and said no you can’t repeal the CLASS provision.
—The Iraq War was one of Obama’s main issues in the campaign. He said he would work with military commanders and in consultation with the Iraqi government to end the war and bring the troops home—by the end of 2009. Then everybody was supposed to be home by the end of last summer, except for some troops who were working with training the Iraqi military, and now everybody has to be home by the end of the year, except for those attached to the embassy. Except today Obama said, no that’s not true, we’re still negotiating with the Iraqi government. But we are sending troops to Uganda to quell the Lord’s Resistance Army which has been wreaking havoc with guns and machetes over a wide swath of central Africa, except the troops we are sending can only use weapons in self-defense.
— Not all solar power companies have gone bankrupt, some are managing to stay in business thanks to renewable energy mandates from the states and restrictions on cheap energy. More than $7 billion in financing has gone to the solar industry to create a mere 250 permanent jobs, and taxpayers are on the hook for $28 million for each permanent job created. In California, Jerry Brown has approved legislation that requires all private and municipal electric utilities to get at least one-third of their power from non-fossil fuel sources by 2020.
That apparently doesn’t count the fact that the fossil-fuel sources have to keep going all the time to back up the times when the wind isn’t blowing at the right speed, and in the case of solar — night, and times when there are clouds. If wind and solar were viable sources of energy, they wouldn’t need mandates, and investment would be attractive. The renewable energy mandates are supposed to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80% by 2050. Europe’s experience is that all their investment in renewable energy has not cut their emissions at all, possibly because the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises from the oceans, not from SUV tailpipes.
— Obama is back out on the campaign trail blaming Congress for not passing his jobs bill, which is not a jobs bill, but another stimulus, and ignoring the fact that it was Democrats who balked at passing his bill. He complains that Republicans have no ideas about jobs, though the House and the Senate have each produced specific proposals, in writing. Mr. Obama can’t seem to understand that when the government pays for jobs to be created with taxpayer money, it is still a net drain on the economy. His campaign trip is also a net drain on the economy, as it’s being charged to taxpayers. It’s not a campaign trip, you see, because he’s talking about jobs, which is a Presidential duty.
— It seems as if a lot of government spending would jolt the economy in some favorable direction,but such is not the case. When you raise taxes, you get less revenue. When you lower taxes, you get a more productive economy and more revenue. A lot of economics is counterintuitive.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, History, Iraq | Tags: Debunking Liberal Lies, Driving the Economy into a Ditch., Heading in the Right Direction?
President Obama continues his parable of “They drove the economy into a ditch…” His claim seems to be, of course, that it’s all Bush’s fault. Obama puts the car in ‘Drive’ (D for Democrat, get it?) and because he’s heading in the right direction, all will be well. Those other folks that put us in the ditch want to put the car in ‘Reverse’ (R for Republican, get it?) and go backwards ‘Repeating’ ( R for Republican, get it?). Obama’s clever joke always gets a laugh, especially his.
I have no particular problem with being the butt of political jokes. I do, however, care about the facts. Obama claims that the economic crisis and our fiscal problems were caused by the massive debts of the two previous illegal wars (The cost of the entire 8 years of the War in Iraq cost far less than Obama has spent in his first 18 months in office).
Obama also wants to blame it all on Wall Street. No one has explained how that works, but there’s a pretty clear track of evidence that starts way back in the Carter administration with the Community Reinvestment Act. It was intended to help get more poor and minority people into their own homes, and home ownership became a popular ideal. As time passed, home ownership was not increasing fast enough, so regulations were passed to make sure that banks made loans readily available, and lowered standards of traditional prudence so that more people could get a loan. Easy Opinions succinctly described what happened:
The government bought bad loans, guaranteed them, pressured bond ratings agencies, and ignored experience, restraint, and regulation. The massive losses of $2 trillion ($2,000 billion) killed our economy.
When we say “the government” we mean those federally guaranteed enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. So when Obama says the economy is heading in the right direction, he means that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have been sorted out and reformed, and we will never have that problem again. doesn’t he? Well, no. The big financial reform bill doesn’t do anything at all about either Fannie or Freddie, and they are still encouraged to go on doing the same old thing. If there is anything in government that is not transparent, it’s Fannie and Freddie’s books.
Did you know that George W. Bush called for reform 17 times in 2008 alone? I didn’t think so. Randall Hoven at American Thinker gathered together a snapshot of what our economy looked like in December 2006, after six years of Bush and in the last month before the Democrats took over both houses of the national legislature. And Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House of Representatives — the source of all financial bills and appropriations.
- Unemployment stood at 4.4%.
- Real GDP growth over the previous four years (under a Republican President, House and Senate) averaged 3% per year.
- A gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.30.
- Even the S&P 500 stock index stood at 1418, or 84% above its post-9/11 low and more than 7% higher than when Bush took office.
- Every year of Bush’s presidency, real (inflation-adjusted) disposable income per person went up. By the end of 2006, the average person was making 9% more in real terms than before Bush became president.
The last election in 2006 was considered a referendum on Iraq. The war was not going well, 64% of Americans said the country was on the wrong track, but 55% of Americans said the economy was is good shape. And guess who was saying the War in Iraq was lost? And guess who introduced a bill in the Senate to prevent the Surge?
Filed under: Freedom, Iraq, Islam | Tags: Columnist--Ottawa Citizen, David Warren, Essays to Treasure
If you have a little extra time this weekend, spend a bit of it with David Warren, columnist for The Ottawa Citizen. A rare voice of sanity in the world of modern media. I like his mind. Always rewarding.
“No One Home” takes up the problem of Islamism, spurred by the arrest of semi-home-grown bomb plotters in Ottawa. Warren always has deeper questions on his mind than the obvious ones.
“Goodbye Iraq” begins with the end of American combat operations and the troops leaving for home. But it only begins there, and as a cautionary tale, it covers a lot of territory before ending up with the rule of law.
“Work is not Rabbit” begins with a quote from Czechoslovakia, and winds up with a philosophical discussion of work.
If you enjoy his work as much as I do, subscribe to his mailing list, or add him to your bookmarks. You’ll be glad you did!
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, Iraq, Middle East | Tags: A Free "Iracracy", A Potential Political Model, Another Important Voice
The Wall Street Journal today quotes Boris Boillon, the French ambassador to Iraq, from an interview with Le Figaro on August 31, in their “Notable & Quotable” column.
The tactic of al Qaeda, which aims to put the country in fire and blood, to rekindle the civil war, has failed. The specter of partition in Iraq is behind us. . . . The record has improved since we passed a hundred deaths per day four years ago, to ten deaths per day today. In fact, the trend reversed itself when U.S. troops began leaving the cities, in June 2009. With the final withdrawal, this trend should continue and stabilize. . . .
Of course, the Iraqis say that the allied intervention of 2003 cost them dearly in lives and destruction of infrastructure, but they are aware also that it has liberated the country. The picture is therefore both positive and negative. Iraqis enjoy the fruits of democratization: the blossoming of the press, the emergence of a civil society, the free political parties, the exemplary nature of elections. These are all facts.
It is absolutely necessary, when one speaks of Iraq, to reason nonideologically. Iraq is the true laboratory of democracy in the Arab world. It is there that the future of democracy in the region will play itself out. Iraq could potentially become a political model for its neighbors. And, whether one likes it or not, all this has come about thanks to the American intervention of 2003. . . .
That no consensus has emerged around a [new] head of government proves that the political game occurs in Iraq and no neighboring country is able to impose its choice on Iraqi politics.
Even if the door is broken open, it must be restated that the last election constituted a victory for democracy. There are not many other countries in the region where results are not known before the vote.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, Iraq, Military, National Security | Tags: Deposing a Malignant Dictator, Establishing an Iraqi Democracy, No Celebration of Things Achieved
I have continued to think about President Obama’s oval office speech. There were some disturbing things. There was concern about whether Obama would thank Bush for the surge that saved our effort in Iraq, pushed through against almost universal disapproval. It was an unusually courageous act, one of the most impressive among recent administrations.
Of course Obama didn’t. Neither did he appropriately acknowledge many of the things achieved in the Iraq war — deposing an aggressive and malevolent dictator, fostering a representative government (though imperfect) in the heart of the Middle east, bringing Iraqis to the polls proudly voting for the first time in free elections, and establishing a constitution of their own.
Richard Epstein, Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Chicago, who knows Obama, says that he has the perfect political disposition. He is absolutely in control of himself and reveals almost nothing of himself. He also said that he is completely dogmatic and does not change his mind.
That makes the damage that he did to our effort in Iraq and in Afghanistan clearer and more troubling. He said:
Within Afghanistan, I have ordered the deployment of additional troops who-under the command of General David Petraeus — are fighting to break the Taliban’s momentum. As with the surge in Iraq, these forces will be in place for a limited time to provide space for the Afghans to build their capacity and secure their own future. But, as was the case in Iraq, we cannot do for Afghans what they must ultimately do for themselves. That’s why we are training Afghan Security Forces and supporting a political resolution to Afghanistan’s problems. And, next July, we will begin a transition to Afghan responsibility. The pace of our troop reductions will be determined by conditions on the ground, and our support for Afghanistan will endure. But make no mistake: this transition will begin— because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people’s.
What he did here is underscore and deepened his commitment to the arbitrary summer 2011 drawdown date. His statement that the pace of troop reductions “will be determined by conditions on the ground” was drowned out by Obama’s declaration that our forces will be in place “for a limited time.” and that we should” make no mistake; this transition will begin because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people’s.”
What our enemies will hear is that they only have to wait us out. Our commitment is limited, and we will leave on time and on schedule. Surely he has heard all the many voices that tell him that you just don’t say when you are quitting, and doesn’t care.
Obama also complained about how much the Iraq war cost (over 8 years) and how it was nearly as much as the deficit. CBO says a total 8-year cost of $709 billion — to be compared to the stimulus spending — $816 billion in just 18 months! The Iraq war spending accounted for just 3.2% of all federal spending while it lasted. Not even 15% of the total deficit spending in that time frame.
[Last night] the President of the United States used what should have been a straightforward, bug-hearted celebration of a remarkable feat of American force and diplomacy to pursue instead his own narrow and, it must be said, increasingly desperate, political ends. (Peter Robinson)
Immediate reaction? Blah.
A deeply petty president tries to appear, by mentioning President Bush by name, as though he is giving him credit without actually giving him any credit, while insinuating, without ever directly stating, that the credit belongs instead to himself.
A petulant president refuses to acknowledge that he was flat wrong about the war, about the surge, and about virtually everything, even while begrudgingly confessing the war has made us safer, and turned an enemy into an ally.
An unpopular president tries to blame the failure of his economic policies on the war, the “past decade” and everyone but himself, even as other nations that rejected his policies are enjoying robust growth.