Read the rest at American Thinker.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Read the rest at American Thinker.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Take that Vaclaw Havel and Lech Walesa, who've tried for years to get the Nobel folks to give it, posthumously now, to Pope John Paul II, who had a bit of something to do with bringing down the Iron Curtain - peacefully!
Last American to win the Nobel?
The Nobel Peace prize has devolved into something like a self esteem program consolation prize for the American left.
I'm personally overjoyed! The rumors have been floating about that if the Goracle won the Nobel that would compel him to enter the Democratic primaries, since the endorsement of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee translates into as many as seven, maybe eight votes in the USA.
If Gore runs, that's great news! Anybody care to guess how much dirt team Clinton and team Gore have on each other? Which they'll use.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Excerpt from: Investigate the Winter Soldier Investigation:
It's being called ‘Winter Soldier Syndrome.' The phrase refers to slanders of American soldiers and Marines made by people who also make fraudulent claims about their own military experiences. Michelle Malkin writes:
"Winter Soldier Syndrome will only be cured when the costs of slandering the troops outweigh the benefits."
She is right up to a point, but it is more serious than that. It is not just the perpetrators who are causing the problem. A large and sometimes influential part of our society has been enabling and protecting these attacks on those who risk their lives to defend ours. This has been going on for almost four decades.
Winter Soldier Syndrome uses the same mechanism as racial and ethnic bigotry: tarring an entire group because of the misbehavior of a few. To understand why this is happening today, we have to understand how this came about, and why.
Continue reading at American Thinker.
Monday, October 8, 2007
BLACKFIVE provides the background on Capt. Patriquin. He was a remarkable man, conversant in Pashtun, Dari, Arabic and Urdu. He was Special Ops trained and was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor device for his part in OpAnaconda in 2002, when he was attached to the 101st Airbirne in Afghanistan.
In 2006 he was in Al Anbar Province in Iraq. In 2005, the top Marine intelligence officer in Al Anbar thought the province to be all but lost to the terror-insurgency. Capt. Patriquin was one of those men with an affinity for understanding other cultures and seeing things from their point of view. He understood the dynamics of why Al Anbar was intractable.
He had made a PowerPoint presentation that has since widely used by the Army in Al Anbar. Most of us who have been in business for some years or decades understand the PowerPoint presentation to be something of a dumb-downed thing. It’s meant to be. Generally such presentation intends to highlight and drive home a few important points, facts or understandings.
Capt. Patriquin’s presentation is all at once funny, dumbed down so that a fourth grader or a “General in the 4th Infantry Division” could understand it and yet it made more tactical and strategic sense than we’ve heard from almost any politician for years.
Be absolutely sure that you view the presentation,”How to Win the War in Al Anbar”, available here in pdf, before proceeding. It’ll only take a minute or two.
There is a good chance that the sheik in the presentation is based loosely (or not so loosely) on Sheik Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, whose tribe occupies the area in and around Ramadi. Capt. Patriquin and Sheik Sattar Abu Risha worked together to turn Al Anbar around. It was their relationship that largely led to Capt. Patriquin’s realization that the Sunnis would join the police, from which organization they could protect their families, rather than the army, which could send them away.
WaPo recently reported that 30,000 tribals, overwhelmingly Sunni, have volunteered to work with the Iraqi police, army and coalition forces, and that is spreading to other areas of Iraq. Capt. Patriquin didn’t live to see what he had begun come to fruition. Sheik Sattar Abu Risha did not live to see AQI completely defeated in Al Anbar. Both men, though, gave their lives in giving others hope and a path to fulfill that hope.
Last August, in Tameen, a district in heavily Sunni Ramadi, the police station was named after and in honor of Captain Travis Patriquin.
This last month, a school in the Shia center of Iraq, Nejaf, was named after and in honor of the Sunni Sheik Sattar Abu Risha.
What is going on here? Sunnis name a place in honor of an American soldier who gave himself for Iraq, and Shias name a place for a Sunni who did the same. Does that sound like what we’ve been hearing from the Democrats? Sunnis and Shias can’t get along, so let them have their civil war! Iraqis hate us, and want us out! The presence of our troops fuels the insurgency and recruits terrorists! Brave men have put the lie to those claims.
Remember John Kerry’s statement to college students:
“You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”
Kerry was not speaking of President Bush. He reads his own press, and well knew that it had been reported more than a year before that his college grades and those of President Bush were almost the same, with a slight edge to Bush. He meant the soldiers, and the members of the 1/34 Brigade Troops Battalian of the Minnesota National Guard serving in Iraq knew it.
Senator Schumer did all he could to besmirch and denigrate the efforts and memory of men like Captain Patriquin and Sheik Sattar Abu Risha.
Senate Democrats, wedded to the liberal notion of liberal elites making decisions for those simple folks down below, all but frothed at the mouth about this idea of improvement and solutions coming from the bottom and working up! Such is an inconceivable and threatening concept to them
Capt. Travis Patriquin and Sheik Sattar Abu Risha were better men, and smarter men, than the bunch of them. They died giving people hope and a way out of misery. Those Democrats just want a way out.
When I was a child growing up in the Bronx, NYC, I got interested in early American history. I don’t remember exactly when I put it together that all those street names were clues left to me, so that I could learn about people who had done things noteworthy to those who came before me. I would go to the public library, and look up those names, and read about them: Webster, Decatur, Marion, Bainbridge, Lafayette, Rochambeau, Hull, Perry, Sedgewick, Sherman, MacClellan, Sheridan and on and on.
That’s why people name places and things after others. So that those who come later will know that someone did something, something you are well served to know about.
In the 1949 classic John Ford movie “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon”, John Wayne played the aging and about to be forced into retirement commander of a calvary company, Captain Nathan Brittles. On the day of his retirement, the old officer leaves his billet and finds his troops assembled as if on parade. They give him a present they’ve all chipped in for, a silver watch. The captain looks at it, and nods and smiles at the troopers he is about to leave. One tells him that there is a sentiment engraved on the watch. Sheepishly, Brittles puts on his spectacles that the men have never seen before and reads the words ‘To Captan Nathan Brittles...”.and his voice cracks as he reads “Lest we forget.”
To Captain Travis Patriquin and Sheik Sattar Abu Risha, whose names will be known to many thousands who will see the buildings named in their honor, and to the rest of us who should know of them – lest we forget.
Nathaniel Helms at Save Our Marines has uncovered what may be a nuclear warhead as opposed to just a bombshell. The story is being picked up in all the right places in the blogosphere (LGF, Michelle Malkin, Clarice Feldman at American Thinker) but breath holding until the MSM latches on to this is not advised.
It appears that the incidents at Haditha may well have been "an intentional propaganda ploy planned and paid for by Al Qaeda foreign fighters". " In other words, a set-up that would intentionally draw the Marines into a fight in an area where civilians were bound to get killed.
Congressman John Murtha's office has refused comment.
Well, I don't know if they've been asked, but I am sure that'll be the responce.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Henry ‘Little Torquemada’ Waxman is determined to investigate corruption in Iraq! This is another sign of things going well there. If Democrats can no longer charge that the Iraqis are not bearing a fair load when the news is full, even if reluctantly, of Iraq military and police taking on the terror-insurgents (see previous post) and now Sunni tribals are gunning for Al Qaeda in Iraq, there must be something else with which to discredit an ally. I’ve thought for some time that if we pull off something that looks, walks and talks like victory in Iraq, Democrats will have to do everything in their power to discredit the Iraqi givernment on the principle that American could not have accomplished any good through military force.
No doubt there is corruption in Iraq’s government. Maybe a whole lot of it. Maybe even as much as in the U.N., if that’s possible. Or the Clinton campaign, which is probably impossible!
Iraq is engaged in a war for its survival. Members of its political class, unlike ours, have been assassinated on a regular basis and their families are targets of terrorists. A State Department spokesman said “details of anti-corruption efforts must be secret to protect investigators and Iraqi allies.” That makes sense in a place where you can get very dead very quickly.
Of course, the bottom line is that Waxman hopes that if his investigation provides enough cover for Democrats in Congress to stop aid to the corrupt Iraqi government, Iraq may yet fail. That worked before when the Democratic Congress progressively cut back on aid to South Vietnam after our troops were out of the fight. Our forces never lost while they were in South Vietnam, but Congress made sure Vietnam fell after they left.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
(Reuters) - Following are security developments in Iraq at 10:00 a.m. BST on Saturday.
NEAR HAWIJA - Gunmen killed a police lieutenant and wounded a civilian when they shot at their car outside Hawija, 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, police said.
RIYADH - A roadside bomb targeting a police patrol wounded two policemen and one civilian in central Riyadh, 60 km (40 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, police said.
KIRKUK - A car bomb targeting a police patrol wounded four policemen and a civilian in southern Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.
SAMARRA - Iraqi army, police and local groups working with U.S. forces known as "concerned citizens" killed eight gunmen, detained 37 and liberated 27 truck drivers held hostage during an operation on Thursday southwest of Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad. Four members of the Iraqi security forces and four concerned citizens were killed, U.S. military said.
FALLUJA - Iraqi police killed a gunman and detained 12 others in an operation in Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, on Friday, police said.
BAGHDAD - Four bodies were found in different districts of Baghdad on Friday, police said.
KHALIS - Iraqi and U.S. forces arrested an insurgent company commander on Friday in the town of Khalis, 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, U.S. military said. Continued...
ISKANDARIYA - Beheaded body with signs of torture belonging to member of Sunni Arab tribe working with U.S. forces was found in Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
MUSSAYAB - Body of a child with gunshot wounds was found in Mussayab, 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
MAHAWEEL - Gunmen killed an off-duty member of Iraqi special forces in Mahaweel, 75 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
Three things come across clearly. One, the Iraqi police are deep in it, as targets and as actors. Two, the incident in Samarra is of a type that we wouldn't have read about since the invasion until fairly recently. Iraqi army, police, local civilians and U.S. forces kill eight hostage takers and capture another 37, while rescuing 27 hostages. Four uniformed and four civilian Iraqs died in the gunfight against the bad guys. Even as a snapshot, what does that say about where popular sentiment is leaning? Three, the last three incidents, at Iskandiriya, Mussayab and Mahaweel, all south of Baghdad, indicate a high intensity fight at the local level, with identified individual targets.
It is also worth noting, even if just in a one day snapshot - no attacks on coalition military forces or even the Iraqi military other than an individual assassination of an Iraqi Special Forces soldier. Where the Iraqi and coalition forces were involved in some numbers, they were the ones taking the attack to the enemy.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Is the 'phony' Rush Limbaugh 'phony soldier' story meant to bail out MoveOn, or an intentional dust-up to get attention away from other 'troubling' details, or details that could be troubling to Senator Clinton. In only a few short weeks, an avalanche of news has buried any shred of credibilty the Congressional Democrats and in particular Hillary Clinton might have had on the war in Iraq, even if the same media reluctantly reporting that news won't connect the dots.
With the hat tip to Gateway Pundit, the above graph is of the decline of civilian deaths in Iraq. The death toll for last month was less than 25% of what it was last November.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the U.N. will return to Iraq, after having closed its offices in 2003 when a bombing killed envoy Sergio Vieira and 21 others. Improved security is cited as grounds for the change.
U.S. military casualties have dropped to the lowest point in fourteen months.
In the last six months, 30,000 tribe affiliated Iraqis, mostly Sunni, have volunteered to work with the Iraqi government and U.S. forces. Many are enlisting in the Iraqi police and military. They began to do so in the thousands beginning in Anbar Province, considered all but lost a year ago, and Baghdad. Added to those already serving in the Iraqi military, border guard and police, that's roughly a quarter of a million Iraqis fighting the terror-insurgents. Where's the old Whack-A-Mole standard? When we killed a terror-insurgent, and another or a few took his place, that was Democratic proof we couldn't win. Why isn't an Iraqi force of a quarter million, despite years of slaughtering recruits and the terror-insurgents doing everything they could to prevent Iraqis from enlisting, proof that it is the terror insurgents who are losing?
Will any member of the MSM approach Senator's Reid or Clinton, and ask about supposed cooked books or Hillary's suspension of disbelief? The media are transfixed on Hillary's 'cackle', when they should be asking about what she said to General Petraeus, whose report on progress is being hugely vindicated.
Rush can and will defnd himself. Let's not fall for diversions. As to who might be behind a diversion away from the Petraeus Democratic debacle, that's not hard to surmise. It was Media Matters that began the 'phony' Rush charge, the same Media Matters that Hillary Clinton boasted to the Yearly Kos crowd that she had a hand in creating. Had tip to LGF.
Monday, October 1, 2007
Writing in The Weekly Standard in ‘Al Qaeda In Iraq - How to understand it. How to defeat it’, Frederick W. Kagan uses the Arabic word "takfir" (or a derivitive, e.g., takfiri, takfirism) several dozens of times, and did so in a compelling and necessary manner in pursuit of the ‘how to understand’ methodology of the article. Identifying Al Qaeda in Iraq (and the umbrella Al Qaeda organization as a whole) as takfiri, Kagan writes:
"The Koran and Muslim tradition forbid Muslims from killing one another except in narrowly specified circumstances...Takfiris, however, claim that the groups and individuals they condemn are not really Muslims but unbelievers who endanger the true faith...The word takfir designates the process of declaring a person to be an unbeliever because of the way he practices his faith."
Takfirism is the ideological underpinning of and justification for Al Qaeda’s attacks on us, including on that September 11 six years ago. We have erred for six years in not identifying that ideology plainly, in a struggle that is above all else an ideological one. It is critical that we do so not only for our own people, but for many millions of Muslims who are our potential allies in the struggle, but who are wary of our intentions and are bombarded by propaganda from at home claiming we fight for oil or from abroad claiming we seek to destroy Islam.
Kagan’s description of the takfiri and takfirism is consistent with what has been written on the subject in the Middle Eastern and Asian press for years, as a quick search of the Google News archive confirms. Farish A Noor, writng for Pakistan’s Daily Times, Saturday, January 01, 2005:
"I will not dwell here over the legal-theological technicalities of takfir (Muslims accusing others of being kafirs or murtad). Much has already been written about it...In his book, Islam, Fazlur Rehman has argued that by arrogating to themselves the authority of God, such hardliners effectively excommunicate themselves from the large body of the Muslim ummah."
Here in the West, the terminology of takfirism is still somewhat esoteric and only used by something like the "terror" cognoscenti. This is so even after publication of Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize winning ‘The Looming Tower – Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11’ in 2006, which dealt extensively and critically with the subject.
We are not in a religious war with Islam, but the takfiris are in a religious war with us and with the majority of Muslim believers worldwide. It would also be a great mistake, though tempting, for us to relegate the dispute over takfirism to something like an intramural theological issue confined to Islam, vaguely similar to the various Christian faiths of the sixteenth century hurling charges of heresy, apostasy and even idolatry at one another, often accompanied by violence and war. Takfirism targets globally and everyone is either with them or a target.
It has been common for many in the west to assume that what Al Qaeda wants for us is something like the ‘Islamic’ governed society we see in Saudi Arabia, and that country’s sharia based laws, strict religious prohibitions, banned Bibles, restrictions on women and even robed sword-wielding executioners. However, for Al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia is a state of impure Islam and one grossly corrupted by western ideas, influence and contacts! The Al Qaeda takfirist war against us is an extension of their desire for purification of the Ummah, and as such, we are will remain a target until and unless takfirist ideology loses its ability to attract and motivate significant numbers of adherents in the Muslim world.
The evidence of Al Qaeda’s takfirism is manifest in the publicly available 1990’s letters and fatwas of Bin Laden and later writings and tapes from him and Ayman al-Zawahiri, and continues in the most recent Bin Laden tape received last month, even with the Kyoto accord camouflage. Al Qaeda theology and military strategy mesh in the concept of driving all inherently corrupting influences, and critcally among those ‘western’ influences, from the lands of the Ummah, so as to usher in their version of a purified Islam. Bin Laden’s murderous ire was directed in his early letters and fatwas at Saudi Arabia, for among other things, allowing the vile ‘crusaders’ (our military) to desecrate, by their presence, the Land of the Two Holy Places (Saudi Arabia) before, during and after the First Gulf War. Ayman al-Zawahiri’s target was and probably still is Egypt, his home, and the corrupted and secularist Nasser, Sadat and then Mubarak governments. It is critical to our being able to win a war that is ideological at its core to understand the ideology of those we fight, and to identify it clearly
Some in the west may be led to conclude, as Bin Laden has held out to us, that a western ‘pull back’ from the Islamic world, including of course retreat from Iraq and Afghanistan, but also ending of trade and cultural ties with Muslim countries, ending of any support for Israel, and so forth may bring us peace. That would be a chimera, simply because as long as the west presents any Muslims with an attractive alternative in any sense to the takfirist understanding of Islamic purity, whether by democracy, free speech, women’s rights, separation of Church and state, toleration of various creeds and none, and on and on, we are and will be a target. In his latest tape, Bin Laden specifically tells an American audience that democracy has not worked, will not work, and the only alternative for us is his version of Islam.
In ‘The Looming Tower’ (page 124), Wright wrote:
"The new takfiris…extended the death warrant to encompass...anyone who registered to vote. Democracy, in their view, was against Islam because it placed in the hands of people authority that properly belonged to God...anyone who voted was an apostate, and his life was forfeit…"
To defeat the takfiris, we must understand them as many and maybe most Muslims do, and as Kagan indicates, there is evidence that Iraqis understand:
"Interestingly, 'takfirism' is what the Muslim enemies of this movement call it. Iraqis, for example, commonly refer to the members of AQI as 'takfiris.'"
It is not an accident or simply a result of circumstance that the great majority of victims of Al Qaeda-Taliban-Al Qaeda in Iraq and affiliated takfirists have been Muslims. When in November 2005, Congressman Murtha claimed, without contradiction by the media or the White House, that American forces in Iraq had become the primary target of the Iraqi insurgency, the figures were readily available that showed Iraq army and police (mostly recruits at that time) were being killed at a rate two to three times higher than coalition forces for months, as is still the case, and that excludes the Muslim civilians, Shia and Sunni alike, also being killed by AQI.
On page 365, Wright details an FBI interrogation of an emir, Abu Jandal, who had been in Yemeni custody. Jandal owned a guest house in which 9/11 hijacker-pilot Marwan al-Shehhi had been allowed to recuperate from an illness. Al-Shehhi had flown United Airlines flight 175 into the WTC south tower. The FBI agent doing the interrogation was an American Muslim, Ali Soufan.
The interrogation grew heated when Soufan asked Jandal about the bombings of the East African embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. Initially, when Soufan pointed out that most of the people killed were Muslim, Jandal explained that they would receive their reward, whatever it may be, from Allah. Pressed by Soufan, Jandal finally exploded with the takfir ideology, saying that since the bombings were on a Friday, those people should have been in the Mosques praying. Since they were not, they were takfir, apostates, and could be killed. As Kagan points out, Al Qaeda members do not speak openly of their takfirism, but they practice it.
Kagan also writes that U.S. commanders in al-Anbar "acknowledge that they probably missed overtures from [Sunni] tribal leaders" well before the more clear signals the sheikhs sent in late 2006 and early 2007 that our military responded to.
Hindsight is everyone’s best sight, but I can imagine there was an unrecognized signal nearly two years ago, from well before the Anbar Awakening. It was routinely described in the media as the Sunni’s fearing they would be left out of the political process if they bypassed the December 2005 elections in Iraq as they had the previous ones. That may have missed what the Sunni’s were even then saying about the takfiris and takfirism. From The Scotsman, December 2005:
"More than 1,000 Sunni clerics in Iraq issued a fatwa yesterday, telling members of their minority Muslim community to vote in tomorrow's elections."
How many in the West, especially those on the left, who have belittled the meaning of millions of Iraqis and Afghans voting in democratic elections, failed to understand how very much those millions of Muslims were repudiating the ideological basis for Al Qaeda and takfirism? President Bush repeatedly spoke of the courage of the Iraqis and Afghans who went out to vote in spite of danger, but I would think that most in the West believed the danger to be simply random bombings or attacks on polling places and voters, and did not realize that those people were risking being declared apostate and polytheists by the takfiris of AQI and therefore subject to killing at any time!
"Takfir violates the religious understanding of most of the world's Muslims...The chief reason al Qaeda has limited support in the Muslim world is that the global Muslim community overwhelmingly rejects the premise that anyone obeying a temporal ruler is ipso facto an unbeliever."
In six years, the west, including sadly the Bush administration, has failed to clarify the ideological struggle we are in. The various ways we have tried to do so all fall short of the mark, and even serve as hindrances to a successful counter-takfirist strategy. Worse, our various attempts at identifying the ideology we fight do not make our objectives plain to those in the Islamic world who need to be assured of what it is we fight and why.
We have had the GWOT, the global war on terror, which does not clarify the struggle: terror is a means, a tool, not an ideology.
We have used terms like Islamo-Fascism or derivitives of that, and these also do not work. While the Fascists of WWII Nazi Germany and present day Al Qaeda and its offshoots have commonalities of practice and belief, the match-up does not work. It is too great a leap for too many to equate National Socialism, the black leather uniformed Gestapo agent, the Blitzkrieg, the Nuremberg rallies or the horrific efficiency of an Auschwitz’s killing processes with men issuing religious fatwas and wearing robes in caves, planning the deaths of thousands of far-away civilians, making beheading videos or blowing themselves up to kill crowds at markets. The imagery of Islamo-Fascism might be meant to invoke the west’s last ‘good war’, when we were unified, but to too many, including millions in the Muslim world, that history is ancient or virtually unknown.
We have identified ‘jihad’ and ‘jihadis’ as the enemy, which admittedly has been my own choice. Like the GWOT and Islamo-Fascism, there are grounds for that, but it also fails. Far too many Muslims have pointed out that while ‘jihad’ is indeed a Koranic concept, they understand it to be a personal spiritual struggle or even evangelization, but without force. We know full well that those who promote and engage in a violent and murderous ‘jihad’ do not see it that way, but we must also admit that if there are a billion or so Muslims with the same Koran speaking of jihad, if even a substantial minority held to the violent jihad of Al Qaeda as a Muslim tenet of faith, there would be far more violence worldwide than there is now, and we would not have so many tens of thousands of Afghani and Iraqi Muslims putting their lives on the line in opposition to the takfirists.
We have had ‘militant Islam’, and again that does not serve well, because it obscures and even alienates potential and real allies. While most analogies fail at some point if pressed too far, they can still be useful to make a point. The Ku Klux Klan, since its founding after the Civil War, the Atlantic Olymics and abortion clinic bomber Eric Rudolf, racist and segregationist groups like Christian Identity have all sought to cloak themsleves in the mantle of Christianity. Imagine for example how many Americans would react if these were referred to time and again as ‘militant Christianity’.
But identifying the ideology we fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (and elsewhere) as ‘takfirism’ and the adherents of that ideology as ‘takfiris’ clarifies, and defines our enemies as well as our purpose.
It would be a most worthwhile thing if President Bush and top level members of his administration identified our fight as with takfirism and the takfiris, coupled that with an explanation. Point out that the takfiris grant to themselves the right to kill any man, woman or child they deem to be an infidel, be they Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, agnostic – or any Muslim they deem apostate, by their own standards. If that is done, it just may be that those Sufi Muslims who danced in the streets of Kabul when the Taliban was evicted, those Iraqi Shia who’ve lost thousands to al-Zarqawi’s anti-Shia attacks, those Jordanians who demonstrated in the tens of thousands after the killing of the members of a wedding party in Amman by AQI, those Sunni sheiks in Anbar whose tribes are now fighting AQI, and the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have joined the Iraqi army, many of whom have been fighting side by side with our sons and daughters might say to themselves – the West gets it!
In its recent report on ‘Radicalization in the West: the Homegrown Threat’, the NYPD Intelligence Division reported:
"The image of the heroic, holy warrior or "mujahedeen" has been widely marketed on the Internet as well as in jihadi tapes and videos. This image continues to resonate among young, especially Muslim, men 15-35 years old — men who are most vulnerable to visions of honor, bravery and sacrifice for what is perceived as a noble cause."
By identifying the enemy as takfiri, in recognition that even its Muslim enemies do so, we may change that "heroic" image to one of the killer who may at any time decide that the erstwhile young Muslim recruit’s father, mother, brother or sister is apostate, takfir, and deserving of death.
I would like to see a spokesman for C.A.I.R., the Council on American-Islamic Relations, asked if his organization’s repeated statements about the Muslim American ‘voting’ demographic, presented as an appeal to be given consideration by our political parties, is a conclusive statement that C.A.I.R. and those they claim to represent reject the takfirist notion that democratic voting is polytheism and apostasy.
It is well past time to clarify the ideological struggle so that it is understood in both the West and in the Muslim world, and in that way, better establish who is on which side of the struggle, and why. Our soldiers have understood for years that we are in a hearts and mind struggle, yet too often here at home and in our leadership we do not make the necessary and clear distinctions that might enable and even empower and embolden those who are or should and could be our allies in this fight. We already have the evidence, though it gets short-shrift in our dialogue, of tens of thousands of Muslim Iraqis and Afghans willing to take on the takfiri. We must build on that.
If that happens, we may end up with more than most may now realize.
We and the Iraqis may be in the process of building up in the area of the world that needs it most, the Middle East, an experienced, effective and disciplined counter-terror-insurgency military force. Further, this would be a force indigenous to the region and comprised largely of Arab Muslims and answerable to a democratically elected government. Such could be the Iraqi army of a few years hence.
President Bush has defined victory as something in the order of a democratic Iraq, at peace with its neighbors, able to provide for its own security and an ally in the war we are in. That latter part, about Iraq as an ally, has not been well examined in our national discussion.
The evidence has been unmistakable for quite a while that the Iraqi army is increasingly ‘standing up’. Some units of that army have become highly effective, and others are rapidly catching up. Listening to General Petraeus' testimony and reading the detailed accounts of various Milbloggers and "Beyond the Green Zone" journalists (like Michael Yon and Michael Totten) something comes across about the Surge that has gotten very little attention. It has not been just another 38,000 or so American troops. The increase in our forces enabled us to put more combat forces in an aggressive posture teamed with many thousands of Iraqi forces. The Americans and Iraqi forces are acting as hammer and anvil in smashing the terrorist operations.
When in November of 2005 John Murtha claimed that our troops had become the “primary target” of the insurgency, for months before and continuing afterward, Iraqi army and police, mostly recruits, were being killed at a rate two to three times that of our forces. In 2004-2005, Al Qaeda and the various terrorists and insurgencies did their murderous best to try and keep Iraqis from enlisting, including mass executions of unarmed recruits and bombings of recruiting stations killing dozens at a time. Even so, the Iraqi’s continued to enlist. That was a stunning defeat of the enemy’s strategy, and it was not recognized in our media as such.
Democrats invoked the “Whack-A-Mole” imagery in 2005-2006, and still do, on the understanding that every time we kill an insurgent/terorist, another or several take his place. They never had and still don’t have the intellectual honesty much less the decent consideration for an ally to apply that to the terrorist/insurgency as to why they might be losing. The insurgent/terrorists had been killing the Iraqi army, border forces and police, mostly recruits, by the thousands, and yet today there are nearly a quarter of a million Iraqis in those forces.
The Iraqi army has been born in the crucible of insurgent-terror war, and its basic training camps were located in the theatre of battle.
I believe that history will judge the total disbanding of the Hussein army will have been the right course of action for the long term, though likely costly in the short term. Doing so has enabled the creation of an Iraqi military well suited to the hearts and minds requirement of counter terror-insurgency warfare. When the fighting is conducted where your family lives and in your own community, the hearts and minds aspect is not a theoretical abstract. Likewise, building a new army from scratch made null any effect of the well deserved distrust of most of the population for the Hussein army.
Some years ago I read an American military officer saying that one of the most difficult concepts to get across to members of the new Iraqi military was obedience of the military to democratically elected civilians. The Iraqis were skeptical of the idea that those who had the guns and the power would and even should be so deferential. Now, though, the soldiers in the Iraqi military are well aware that commanding generals in the powerful American military will not only defer to the decisions of the civilian U.S. government, but also to those of the fledgling democratically elected al-Maliki government of Iraq, and that there is a soldier’s honor in that.
Assorted embedded milbloggers and others have noted a growing bond between the Iraqi army and the Iraqi people. The people of Iraq are developing pride in their army and are increasingly pleased to ecstatic to encounter them, and the army is proud that its people recognize them for what they are doing. While the left and a great many Democrats can’t comprehend the cause and emotional depth of that bond, most Americans will, as it is similar to what most of us feel about our Marines and soldiers and how they feel about how we see them.
In their NY Times piece ‘A War We Just Might Win’, O’Hanlon and Pollack wrote:
“The Iraqi Army’s highly effective Third Infantry Division started out as overwhelmingly Kurdish in 2005. Today, it is 45 percent Shiite, 28 percent Kurdish, and 27 percent Sunni Arab.”
That is a national force, not an ethno-sectarian one, and that is undoubtedly one of the reasons for the positive response of the Iraqi population.
Combat Command Structure
All military forces, especially those that may have enjoyed years of peace, must make critical personnel adjustments when war comes. They need to identify who among their officer corps and senior NCOs belongs where in the organizational structure for optimal combat effectiveness. They must determine who are the most effective warriors (as opposed to administrators) and what level of command they are best suited for. Those critical decisions can only be reliably made in a time of war, and the Iraqi’s are doing so, with experienced assistance from our military.
If we and our Iraqi allies prevail in Iraq, what might the situation be in three to five years, and what effect could the Iraqi military then have in the region?
If Al Qaeda and its affiliates find that Iraq is simply too costly or unwinnable for them, they may withdraw from there (at least temporarily) but they will not necessarily give up their takfirist ideology and the fight. They will likely still cling to the takfirist goal of purifying the Muslim “Ummah” by removing, forcibly and by terror, all corrupting influences, be it western, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, secularist, democratic, commerce related or anything in any way liberal in the traditional sense. They will likewise still seek to deal with the supposed “takfirs”, Muslims they deem apostate, by means of terror and murder, even murder en masse. They will simply seek other targets in the Middle East. Bin Laden has always wanted to ‘purify’ Saudi Arabia, and al-Zawahiri has wanted to do the same to Egypt.
Only weeks ago the Lebanese military succeeded in killing or driving out hundreds of Fatah-al-Islam terrorists from the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp. While undoubtedly a win and good news for the good guys, there is a lot to be concerned about in those events. It took the Lebanese army over three months to defeat a few hundred terrorists. Between 30,000 and 40,000 civilians were displaced. By the conclusion of the fight, the Lebanese army had about the same number of killed as the terrorists, and maybe half of the terrorists escaped. While on their own the Fatah al-Islam terrorists had to be forcefully addressed, I cannot but imagine that Lebanese government and military planners pursued the action with a mind to the all but inevitable looming clash that will someday come between the Lebanese army and that state within the Lebanese state, Hizbollah, and its several thousand well armed fighters. When that day comes, Lebanon will need a lot of help, as other Middle Eastern states will require a lot of help if Al Qaeda targets them for purification, singly or in groups.
A Regional Counter Terror-Insurgency Force
That is where a largely Muslim Arab professional military with proven counter terror-insurgency capabilities and inherent understanding of the hearts and minds aspect of such warfare may do a world of good, by providing assistance ranging from trainers and advisors to even boots on the ground and combat support. It would be in Iraq’s own interest to do so. The new Iraq knows well the danger of insurgent and terror groups, and that such are cancerous. If they operate in the region with success, like a cancer they will spread, and democratic Iraq will be a target again, sooner or later. That would be the same whether it is Al Qaeda-like takfirists or Iranian/Syrian supported organizations like Hizbollah.
Iraq also has additional self interest in regional security and peace for the sake of its economy and the future well being of its citizens.
General Petraeus and others have spoken well of the combat performance of the Iraqi Special Forces, and one hopes that a relationship with and training of them by our SF is continued long term. They may prove to be the force that can engage and counter or even dismantle the Iranian Quds Force, that has been so active in training and enabling terrorists throughout the Middle East.
Even with oil revenue, Iraq is far from a wealthy country. In the path forward building of their military, assuming a success in the present fight, they will need to balance thier forces between counter terrorism-insurgency and defensive conventional set piece war involving large unit formations and heavy armor and artillery. If Iraq focuses and builds its army primarily around a counter insurgency-terror framework, the likelihood of other area states seeking cooperation with Iraq will be enhanced, because Iraq will not be a military threat to those nations. Think Kuwait or even Saudi Arabia and the previous Iraqi army.
There is of course risk to Iraq in pursuing this military weighted in favor of counter terror-insurgency. Its army, while becoming possibly the foremost effective and indigenous counter terror-insurgency force in the Middle East (and I include the IDF in that calculation), would not necessarily have the capability to protect the nation from more conventional attack by other nations. If some years from now Iraq is substantially aiding Lebanon in expelling or destroying Hizbollah, the terrorist group’s patrons in Iran and Syria may consider a conventional attack on Iraq to prevent that. Such an attack may use air assets, heavy armor, set piece movements of brigades and divisions, or in general the type of attack that an army that heavily targeted its training and material procurement at counter terror-insurgency might have difficulty repelling. That is where we would have to act on the understanding that ‘allies’ presuppose an alliance. If Iraq forgoes the option of building a more formidable conventional military force in favor of specialization in counter-terror-insurgency, we must commit to providing Iraq with an American air power umbrella in the event of a conventional attack on Iraq. We’ve offered similar alliance protection effectively for over a half century.
Just days ago AP had a report that might be a step in that direct:
AP - "We will ask the council to include an article that allows Iraq to enter into negotiations with the United States to reach long term security agreements to meet Iraq's security needs bilaterally," (Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar) Zebari added.
An effectively operating and largely Arab Muslim counter terror-insurgency force in the Middle East could be a strategic disaster for our enemies, and it is a very real possibility, if we prevail.