Friday, April 30, 2004

The War in Iraq

Victor David hanson reminds us what we're fighting for in Iraq.

"We are presently engaged in a world war for our civilization and its vision of a just and humane society. Our values will either endure this present struggle and indeed be invigorated by the ordeal, or like once great civilizations of the past we will stumble in the face of barbarism and lose all that we hold dear. Across the world in places as diverse as Madrid, Fallujah, Kandahar, Thailand, Amman, and Bali agents of intolerance and religious fascism seek to terrorize and thereby eventually destroy the promise of a free and tolerant mankind. We must be as determined to defeat them as they are to destroy us."

Thursday, April 29, 2004

The War in Iraq

Iraqis may finally be ready to fight for their own future. The Scotsman reports that members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army occupying Najaf are being targeted by residents.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The Harder They Fall - Update

CNN has a report on the possible terrorist attack in Syria, but no word on who may be behind it. The report in The Scotsman adds some details (describing it as an RPG attack on the building followed by a gun battle with Syrian security forces, not a car bomb as reported on CNN). The attack was apparently made on an empty UN building in a part of the city housing a number of foreign embassies. Not exactly a high value target, which makes the incident a little suspicious. If a Kurdish or other anti-Baathist group was involved, wouldn't they attack something connected to the government? Some are claiming the Syrian government might have staged the incident to show that Syria is a target of terrorists, not a supporter. The CNN article quotes a government spokesman:

"The Interior Ministry source blamed the incident on the atmosphere created by instability and confusion in security and politics in the region.

'The Syrian Republic ... is condemning this terrorist attack,' the source said, contending it was meant to affect the stability and security of the country."


Not quite right, its the prospect of a democratic Iraq that's intended to affect the stability and security of the country.

The report from Channelnewsasia.com reinforces this:

"Confirming that one assailant was killed and another captured, Syria's ambassador to the United States, Imad Mustafa, told CNN the authorities were investigating who carried out the attack.

'We've being doing our best against Al-Qaeda. We share the same enemy' as the United States, said the ambassador."


The whole incident looks like an attempt by the Syrians to transform themselves in the eyes of the world from terrorist sponsor to terrorist target. Why attack an empty building? Location, location, location. The proximity of the empty UN building to the embassy district makes sure that this little drama was played out directly in front of ofttimes too credulous diplomats - you can be sure that the diplomatic cables were flying as fast as the bullets. Additionally, attacking an empty building minimizes the diplomatic blowback that might have occurred if a meaningful target, like an actual embassy was hit. An attack on a Western embassy might have led to a charge of Syrian government complicity or at least indifference.

This attack differs from the al Quaeda attacks in Saudi Arabia because the later make strategic sense to al Quaeda relative to its stated goal of bringing down the Saudi monarchy. Attacking an empty UN building in a neighborhood under heavy security due to the presence of foreign embassies, doesn't seem to make sense for anyone except the Syrian government itself. The Baathists should pay more attention to their role models; the Nazi's actually set the Reichstag ablaze.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The Harder They Fall

Explosions and gunfire reported in Damascus (via The Corner). One of the primary purposes of a democratic Iraq, from a U.S. perspective, is to destabilize the remaining terrorist regimes of the Middle East, particularly Iran and Syria. There have been reports of disturbances in the Kurdish regions of Syria before. Maybe its all working.

Monday, April 26, 2004

More Malfeasance from the UN

Malaria is a persistent problem in Africa, killing more than a million people a year. Despite the dimensions of the problems, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Agency for International Development (yeah, we're at fault as well), each of which run anti-malaria programs, apparently refuse to attack the disease with the most effective means available.

Both agencies oppose using DDT for "Indoor Residual Spraying" - a process that applies tiny amounts of the pesticide to interior walls to kill mosquitoes on contact. Additionally, these agencies apparently continue to buy and distribute anti-malaria drugs that have proven ineffective in certain areas when other, more effective choices are available.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Against Iraq or against Bush?

Bob Woodward, author of Plan of Attack, just finished up on Meet the Press with Tim Russert. Four points:

Regarding the "secret plan" to lower oil prices prior to the November elections, Woodward mentioned that the Saudi ambassador had told the press on April 2nd that they intended to keep the price of oil below $30 a barrel. Woodward's explanation for this lapse of secrecy "Hide in plain sight?". I have a better one - there was no secret plan. The Saudis have a long standing policy to keep oil prices low for fears of tanking the global economy and thereby hurting exports.

Woodward complained about high gas prices, complaining in effect that the secret plan wasn't working. So what's the bigger story - the plan or its failure?

Woodward said it would be "interesting" to see if oil and gasoline prices dropped as we get closer to the November election. Anyone who drives knows that gas prices go up each Summer as more people hit the road. Woodward should at least try to understand what he's writing about.

Both Woodward and Russert harped on the disclosure that President Bush didn't consult his father before deciding to invade Iraq. If he had, wouldn't they be criticizing that?

Saturday, April 24, 2004

The War in Iraq

Victor David Hanson has become one of my favorite historians and when he turns his attention to Iraq it makes for indispensable reading.

Here he systematically debunks the Left's top five talking points on the war.

The bottom line is that our allies aren't that important to the war effort. The fighting in both Afghanistan and Iraq was done almost entirely by U.S. forces - our allies come in to help with the clean-up. While the departure of the Spanish contingent in Iraq may be a blow politically, there are more troops in Iraq from the New Hampshire National Guard than from Spain.

This is why Kerry's plan to involve the UN is either disingenuous or stupid or both. Any real fighting done by the UN (Korea, the Gulf War) has been done by U.S. troops. Which countries does Kerry expect to provide troops this time? France? Their UN peace-keeping contingent in the Ivory Coast isn't allowed to leave their base.

Kissing up to the international community isn't going to help us on the ground in Iraq and as far as moral justifications go, what standing does the UN really deserve? To paraphrase the oft-quoted Andrew Jackson "One country with courage makes a majority".

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Oil-for-Food

Did some of Sadaam's Oil-for-Food kick-backs go to Al Quaeda? Sources say "Maybe" as Claudia Rosett connected the dots over the weekend:

Claudia Rosett on Oil-for-Food & Terrorism on National Review Online

Step back in time to 1998: in Iraq you had Saddam, who hated America and had lots of extra cash due to the UN's fraudulent handling of the oil-for-food program but was unable to act directly. In Afghanistan, you had Al Quaeda, which hated America and was acting directly against us but needed cash.

Put two and two together and anyone with can see that it makes sense for both sides to put aside their differences and cooperate against their common enemy, anyone that is except the Left. Why? Either:

- They're so blinded by their own doctrinal rigidity that they can't conceive of any two groups working together unless they agree on every point of dogma ("Sunnis and Shiites can't even work together - forget about either working with a secularist like Saddam"), or

- They're so blinded by their hatred of W that they're ignoring the facts to make political points by condemning the war in Iraq as a distraction from the war on terror.

In either case, they're wrong.