Sunday, October 31, 2004

Were the Presidential Polls Gamed in September?

USS Clueless takes a look at the trends and volatility in the polling numbers and spots some suspicious activity in September. Did the MSM inflate Bush's numbers that month in order to make Kerry look like he was strongly closing? Make up your own mind, but the more I read about the intracasies of each poll's "internals" (i.e., number of Democrats vs. Republicans polled, likely vs. registered voters, adjustments, etc.) the easier such manipulation seems.

Kerry's Afghan Amnesia

In response to John Kerry's Monday-morning quarterbacking of Tora Bora, Charles Krauthammer reminds us of how extraodinary the administration's handling of Afghanistan has been:
Within days of Sept. 11, the clueless airhead president that inhabits Michael Moore's films and Tina Brown's dinner parties had done this: forced Pakistan into alliance with us, isolated the Taliban, secured military cooperation from Afghanistan's northern neighbors, and authorized a radical war plan involving just a handful of Americans on the ground, using high technology and local militias to utterly rout the Taliban.

President Bush put in place a military campaign that did in two months what everyone had said was impossible: defeat an entrenched, fanatical, ruthless regime in a territory that had forced the great British and Soviet empires into ignominious retreat. Bush followed that by creating in less than three years a fledgling pro-American democracy in a land that had no history of democratic culture and was just emerging from 25 years of civil war.

This is all barely remembered and barely noted.
Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Daily Recycler: The Choice

Must see TV Posted by Hello

See the whole thing here or here. (via Powerline)

FOX News' Fraud File

A sign of the times - Fox News has started a new feature called Fraud File hilighting voting irregularities across the country. With two full days to go before the election, Fox already has 13 articles posted - expect a lot more before its all over.

The latest installment, "Point the Way", features items on partisan poll workers in North Carolina (pro-Kerry, of course), the growing popularity of early voting and a state by state round-up of legal challenges over alleged voting problems.

Friday, October 29, 2004

3rd Infantry Division Removed 250 Tons of Materiel from Al Qaqaa

Additional information coming out today has cast further doubt on the NY Times hurried hit piece. In a press conference at the Pentagon today, Major Austin Pearson of the 3ID said that his unit removed almost 250 tons of munitions and other materiel from the Al Qaqaa weapons facility in March, 2003.

Major Pearson, who admitted he was not an explosives expert, said his team's mission in April 2003 was to clear material from the Al-Qaqaa facility in order to secure it for U.S. forces. While this testimony does not definitively answer the question of what happened to the explosives since they were last verified as being Al Qaqaa by the IAEA in January of 2003, it does seriously damage the already questionable Time's story.

A key premise of that story, and the one seized upon by Senator Kerry, was that the Bush administration, in their rush to Baghdad, failed to secure the facility, allowing these deadly explosive to be looted at will, presumably by terrorists or terrorist sympathizers (who else would steal explosives?). That premise was based on interviews with personnel from the 2nd Brigade of the 101st. The 101st passed through Al Qaqaa on their way to Baghdad and were not charged with securing the facility. That task, as extensively reported in contemporaneous accounts, fell to the 3ID; Major Pearson's unit.

The Time's shoddy research (google anyone?) and rush to get the story to print (blamed on pressure from Bloggers - the story was originally intended to break on 60 Minutes two days before the election)can lead one to only two conclusions; either the Times reporting and editorial staffs are grossly incompetent or the piece was intended as an "October surprise" to hurt President Bush in the polls. I tend to believe that both conclusions are true.

More Commentary

Blogs for Bush thinks this latest development will be buried. I tend to agree - expect to hear a lot more about Haliburton.

From INDC Journal:
This news doesn't officially stake the story, but it throws a lot of cold, cold water in the gold-gilded locker room at the New York Times.
From PowerLine:
Is this enough, from President Bush's standpoint? It certainly should be. The obvious conclusion is that the New York Times and John Kerry shot from the hip, accusing the Army of incompetence when they didn't know the facts. They relied on a patently self-serving and anti-Bush letter from Mohammed El Baradei, a less-than-honest U.N. bureaucrat. It is quite likely that the allegedly missing explosives have been accounted for; around half disappeared before January 2003, according to the IAEA's own records, and the remainder was most likely destroyed by American troops. (The total amount at issue, 377 tons, represents less than one-tenth of one percent of the munitions the U.S. Army has destroyed in Iraq.)
From Wizbang! :
If you couple the 194.7 metric tons of HMX with the 3 tons of RDX that that vanished (see this previous Wizbang post about the discrepancy of the RDX stocks from the 377 ton total) it sure sounds like the Major got all of the material in question.

Trucks Spotted at Iraqi Weapons Depot in March 2003

The Pentagon has released a recon image of the Al Qaqaa weapons facility taken on March 17, 2003 showing two tractor trailers parked next to a bunker.

FOX News reports that Senior Defense Department officials are not speculating on what is happening in the photo, but the image lends credence to reports in both the Washington Times and the Financial Times that Saddam's regime moved weapons before the U.S. invasion, possibly with the aid of Russian special forces.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Round-up on the NYT Missing Explosives Story (in progress)

On Monday, the NY Times ran a front page story purporting that nearly 380 tons of high explosives had been looted from the Al Qaqaa weapons depot while it was supposedly under American control. Since then, the story, which was immediately seized on by the Kerry campaign, has been vigorously challenged on several fronts. While lacking the outright fabrication angle of the Rathergate mess, the "missing explosives" story does appear to have been a poorly reserached hit-piece on the Bush administration.

Here's a summary of the story's faults:

The NY Time's figure of 380 tons may be overstated.

ABC News reports that there might have been much less than the reported 380 tons at Al Qaqaa:
Iraqi officials may be overstating the amount of explosives reported to have disappeared from a weapons depot, documents obtained by ABC News show.The Iraqi interim government has told the United States and international weapons inspectors that 377 tons of conventional explosives are missing from the Al-Qaqaa installation, which was supposed to be under U.S. military control.

But International Atomic Energy Agency documents obtained by ABC News and first reported on "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings" indicate the amount of missing explosives may be substantially less than the Iraqis reported.

The information on which the Iraqi Science Ministry based an Oct. 10 memo in which it reported that 377 tons of RDX explosives were missing — presumably stolen due to a lack of security — was based on "declaration" from July 15, 2002. At that time, the Iraqis said there were 141 tons of RDX explosives at the facility.

But the confidential IAEA documents obtained by ABC News show that on Jan. 14, 2003, the agency's inspectors recorded that just over three tons of RDX were stored at the facility — a considerable discrepancy from what the Iraqis reported.
Via The Kerry Spot. I'd agree that 3 tons vs. 141 tons is a "considerable discrepancy"

Additional commentary from Blogs for Bush.

The Times is wrong on when the IAEA last verified the explosives at Al Qaqaa and fails to state how easily the IAEA seals could be circumvented.

As repeated today (10/29) by Fox News:

Meanwhile, an IAEA report obtained by FOX News said the inspectors noted that despite the fact that the Al-Qaqaa bunkers were locked, ventilation shafts remained open and provided easy access to the explosives.
The IAEA can definitively say only that the documented ammunition was at the facility in January; in March, an agency spokesman conceded, inspectors only checked the locked bunker doors.

The 101st was not the first U.S. unit to reach Al Qaqaa - the explosives were already gone when the 3ID arrived a week earlier.

The 3rd Infantry Division (3ID) reached and thoroughly searched Al Qaqaa a week before the 101st arrived reports CBS News (the Times erstwhile partner in breaking this story). As reported in this report, U.S. Searches 'Suspicious' Iraqi Site, from April 4, 2003:

U.S. troops found thousands of boxes of white powder, nerve agent antidote and Arabic documents on how to engage in chemical warfare at an industrial site south of Baghdad. But a senior U.S. official familiar with initial testing said the materials were believed to be explosives.

Col. John Peabody, engineer brigade commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, said the materials were found Friday at the Latifiyah industrial complex just south of Baghdad.

"It is clearly a suspicious site," Peabody said.

CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reports that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction continues at sites where the U.S. thought chemicals weapons might be hidden.

"And although there are no reports of actual weapons being found, there are constant finds of suspicious material," Martin said. "It obviously will take laboratory testing to find out exactly what that powder is."

The senior U.S. official, based in Washington and speaking on condition of anonymity, said the material was under further study. The site is enormous and U.S. troops are still investigating it for potential weapons of mass destruction, the official said.

"Initial reports are that the material is probably just explosives, but we're still going through the place," the official said.

Peabody said troops found thousands of boxes, each of which contained three vials of white powder, together with documents written in Arabic that dealt with how to engage in chemical warfare.

He also said they discovered atropine, used to counter the effects of nerve agents.

The facility had been identified by the International Atomic Energy Agency as a suspected chemical, biological and nuclear weapons site. U.N. inspectors visited the plant at least nine times, including as recently as Feb. 18.

The facility is part of a larger complex known as the Latifiyah Explosives and Ammunition Plant al Qa Qaa.
See additional reporting from Blogs for Bush.

Sounds like a pretty thorough search. You'd figure they would have stumbled across 380 tons of explosives lying around.

As Powerline reports, despite numerous references to the 3ID's activities at Al Qaqaa in the days before the 101st arrived, the Times has yet to correct this:

The New York Times reports again on Al Qaqaa this morning, and again its report is misleading at best. Astonishingly, the Times has yet to mention the fact that the 3rd Infantry Division was at Al Qaqaa on April 4, 2003; that they knew that the site had been designated as one that was important to search; and that they did search the site. As we and many others have pointed out, contemporaneous news reports in organs like CBS and the Washington Post described in detail what the 3rd ID found in Al Qaqaa, including boxes filled with white powder, vials, and Arabic instructions in how to conduct chemical warfare. What the 3rd ID didn't find, however, was 380 tons of explosives. At this point, pretty much everyone knows this story except, apparently, the Times.
Instead, the Times continues to infer that U.S. troops did not know of the importance of Al Qaqaa, citing comments from the commander of the 101's 2nd Brigade but ignoring reporting of detailed searches by the 3ID.

The Times incorrectly stated that "White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year."

It's unlikely that looters could have moved 380 tons of explosives without anyone noticing.

Captain's Quarters does the math on what it would take to move 380 tons of explosives:

Bottom line this operation would take the resources of AN ENTIRE COMPANY (approx. 100 men) OVER TWO WEEKS, good Intel to know exactly where the "right" explosives were hidden and a means of breaching huge steel doors and concrete of an ASP.
And all of this would have to be done in an area with numerous intel overflights that would be looking for exactly this kind of activity in the combat zone, and not get noticed at all. Like so much of what the New York Times, CBS, and the Kerry campaign feeds us ... it just doesn't add up.

The explosives at Al Qaqaa could have been moved as part of Iraq's systematic dispersal program before the U.S. invaded.

The Washington Times reported this morning on the possibility that Russia could have aided Sadaam's regime in moving weapons into Syria in advance of the U.S. invasion. See the separate post here.

If the HMX and RDX had been looted, wouldn't some of it have ended up in the hands of the terrorists? None of the "missing" explosives have ever been used against coalition forces in the year plus long insurgency.

The timing of the story makes it look like a hit-piece on Bush.

On the heels of Rathergate, we see another pated-up anti-Bush story rushed to print. As Powerline noted the day after the original story ran:

Yesterday's big New York Times page-one takedown of President Bush was "Huge cache of explosives vanished from site in Iraq." Today the Times reports "Iraq
explosive become issue in campaign."
On day one the Times publishes the
story; on day two the Times notes the injection of the issue raised by the story
into the campaign. This is how it works in the great tradition of the New York
See additional commentary on this by Blogs for Bush. Why was there such a "rush to print"? Powerline picks up on the NY Times excuses for running such a poorly researched story:

Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, gave an interview yesterday to Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post about the Times' bogus Al Qaqaa story. Backpedaling furiously, Keller said that the piece was rushed into print--my words, not his--because it was "starting to leak on the internet." Consequently, Keller says he told CBS: "You know what? We're going to have to run it Monday." Got that? When the Times runs a false, half-baked story it isn't their fault; they had to do it lest people get wind of the false, half-baked story from some other source first.
Furthering the perception of coordination between the Denmocrats and the MSM, the Kerry campaign was quick to incorporate this into their candidate's stump speech and to make the Times allegations the basis of a commercial discussed here.

The motivation of the source behind the story appears to be political.

IAEA head Mohammed El Baradei, is seeking a third term. The Bush administration opposes this. If Bush is reelected, El Baradei is out. If John Kerry is elected, he likely stays.

Did Russian Troops Move the Explosives?

The Washington Times quotes a Defense Department official on possible Russian involvement in the disappearance of 380 tons of high explosives from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad (hat tip Blogs For Bush):

John A. Shaw, the deputy undersecretary of defense for international technology security, said in an interview that he believes the Russian troops, working with Iraqi intelligence, "almost certainly" removed the high-explosive material that went missing from the Al-Qaqaa facility, south of Baghdad.
The web-page with the story went down while I was posting this, but the story details allegations that Russian Special Forces were hired by Saddam as early as January, 2003 to move tons of materiel into Syria in advance of a U.S. invasion. The story also quotes a second anonymous Defense Department official who collaborates.

The "missing explosives" story, originally intended to air as a 60 Minutes piece two days before the election, was instead published in the NY Times and seized upon by the Kerry campaign, both as part of their candidate's stump speech and as the basis of a commercial. Unfortunately for Senator Kerry, the Times story was immediately questioned on several different fronts and now seems as baseless as CBS' Texas ANG story. The alleged complicity of Russia, a country who's support Kerry naively claims his diplomatic skills would have won to the U.S. side, could make the blowback even bigger.


More from the Washington Times story (link fixed):

Defense Department official John Shaw alleges that the missing explosives reported by the NY Times may have been moved as part of a systematic arms dispersal prgram undertaken by the Russians on Saddam's behalf:
"The Russians brought in, just before the war got started, a whole series of military units," Mr. Shaw said. "Their main job was to shred all evidence of any of the contractual arrangements they had with the Iraqis. The others were transportation units."
Mr. Shaw, who was in charge of cataloging the tons of conventional arms provided to Iraq by foreign suppliers, said he recently obtained reliable information on the arms-dispersal program from two European intelligence services that have detailed knowledge of the Russian-Iraqi weapons collaboration.
The Times collaborates Mr. Shaw's story with additional testimony from a second Defense Department source:
A second defense official said documents on the Russian support to Iraq reveal that Saddam's government paid the Kremlin for the special forces to provide security for Iraq's Russian arms and to conduct counterintelligence activities designed to prevent U.S. and Western intelligence services from learning about the arms pipeline through Syria.
The Russian arms-removal program was initiated after Yevgeny Primakov, the former Russian intelligence chief, could not persuade Saddam to give in to U.S. and Western demands, this official said.

More Commentary

Blogs for Bush

This story debunks TWO of John Kerry's campaign pillars. First, it destroys any notion that Russia would've been a willing ally in the coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein. They were cooperating with him in the months leading up to the invasion. The article says "Russia was Iraq's largest foreign supplier of weaponry" and it appears they were helping Saddam hide those weapons to cover their own illegal dealings with the ousted dictator.

Second, it casts even more doubt on the attempted coordinated attack on the Bush administration by the New York Times, cBS and the Kerry Campaign. The information contained in this Washington Times article is likely one reason the coordinated attack was supposed to be launched about 24 hours before election day - to prevent time for the truth to reach the voters prior to their casting of ballots.
INDC Journal provides a wealth of background on Russian involvement in Iraq before the war.

Michele Malkin has a good roundup and recommends Bill Gertz's (author of the Times article) book Treachery.

Deacon at Powerline comments:
If Shaw's version, as reported by the Washington Times, holds up and (as importantly) gets heard, the consequences for Kerry could be serious. The Senator will have (a) jumped to a conclusion that wasn't supported by the facts, (b) assumed the incompetence of our troops, (c) confirmed President Bush's position that Iraq had weapons worth worrying about, and (d) unleashed evidence that, as Rocket Man notes, suggests that chemical and biological weapons could easily have been moved out of Iraq just before we invaded.
Wizbang! weighs in with links to additional reportage on the Russian link at The Financial times and Fox News and comments:
Things are moving fast on the missing explosives story. Drudge has the siren out and he is behind.

The Russians probably moved the explosives, the Department of Defense has satellite images that might prove it AND Mohamed ElBaradei might have mislead the United Nations Security council about the amount of explosives missing. And for good measure we learn the bunkers were never really sealed!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

VDH on What's at Stake November 2nd

Victor David Hanson provides prospective on the importance of the current election in Country at a Crossroads on NRO (subscription required):
Had Lincoln lost the 1864 vote, a victorious General McClellan would have settled for an American continent divided, with slavery intact. Without Woodrow Wilson's reelection in 1916 — opposed by the isolationists — Western Europe would have lost millions only to be trampled by Prussian militarism. Franklin Roosevelt's interventionism saved liberal democracy. And without the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan and his unpopular agenda for remaking the military, the Soviet Union might still be subsidizing global murder.

This election marks a similar crossroads in our history. We are presented with two radically different candidates with profound disagreements about how to conduct a historic worldwide war. We should remember that all our victorious past presidents were, at the moments of their crises, deeply unpopular precisely because they chose the difficult, long-term sacrifice for victory over the expedient and convenient pleas for accommodation (if not outright capitulation). We are faced with just such an option today: a choice between a president whose call for patience and sacrifice promises victory, and a pessimist stirring the people with the assurances that we should not have fought, and now cannot win, the present war in Iraq.

Monday, October 25, 2004

John Kerry's Dangerous Vision

Stephen Morris, writing in The Australian, analyzes John Kerry's worrying foreign policy beliefs and their potential consequences in Danger Man John Kerry:

Kerry's 34-year record in public life indicates that he never understood what the Cold War was about and that he does not understand the nature of the US's rogue-state or Islamist terrorist enemies now. Those who see in him a moderate realist replacing the idealists of the Bush administration will be disappointed.

Mr. Morris identifies two recurring themes in Kerry's record:

  1. A desire to subordinate U.S. policy, and particularly U.S. military action to UN control (i.e., the "global test") and
  2. a streak of moral relativism that leads to accommodation of dictatorships.
Kerry's need for UN approval is well known:
In 1970, during his first run for Congress, Kerry told the Harvard Crimson that he wanted US troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the UN. He made a UN mandate a condition for the deployment of US forces in later years. He was able to get behind Bill Clinton's deployment of US forces in Bosnia because Clinton had kept them under the tight rein of the UN permanent representative.

As The Washington Post recalled last week, discussing the possibility of US troops being killed in Bosnia in 1994, he said: "If you mean dying in the course of the United Nations effort, yes, it is worth that. If you mean dying American troops unilaterally going in with some false presumption that we can affect the outcome, the answer is unequivocally no."
What's less visible is his habit of cozying up to dictators.

In 1970, while still a reserve officer in the US Navy, Kerry undertook private contacts with the Vietnamese communist delegation in Paris. In his 1971 speech he is remembered and reviled by many veterans for accusing all American soldiers of committing atrocities and war crimes. What has been overlooked in his 1971 speech is that he also supported the Vietnamese communist cause, mouthing every plank of their political platform as his own. Were these extreme left-wing views merely the misadventures of a war-embittered youth? Hardly.

Kerry continued to pursue Hanoi's foreign policy interests in the Senate, even at the expense of his often-stated preference for the UN. In 1990, in a rare act of post-Cold War political unity, the UN Security Council approved a plan to end the war in Cambodia with a UN temporary administration to organise elections in the country. This was the plan, remember, that the Australian government and then Labor foreign minister Gareth Evans were deeply involved in realising. Yet Kerry opposed it. Instead, he wanted the Vietnamese-installed Hun Sen, formerly of the Khmer Rouge, to organise elections.

It seems that Kerry's preference for a UN role in conflict resolution is mainly to shackle American power, but not the power of his favourite little dictatorships.

Kerry's support for dictatorship and opposition to concern for human rights in Indochina continues to this day. When the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in 2001 to legislate in favour of human rights in Vietnam, Kerry bottled up this bill in the Senate to prevent it from reaching the floor for a vote.
Upon reflection, this makes sense, dictatorships make up a large part of the UN constituency. Apparently, Senator Kerry is not choosy in his pursuit of foreign approval.

What would be the consequences of these traits, should Kerry be elected? Mr. Morris presents an all too plausible scenario:
Kerry's strategy towards North Korea and Iran will be: engage but never intimidate. His policies on Southeast Asia and Central America were thus. Bush will be more cautious about deploying the military than he was in 2003, but will do so if he needs to. Kerry, by contrast, will only deploy force against North Korea if it invades the South.

Kim Jong-il and the Iranian mullahs will agree to talk while they build up their nuclear arsenal and its delivery systems. Eventually Kim and the Tehran clerics will have enough nukes to sell some to al-Qa'ida, or give them to Hezbollah. This is not a high-risk policy for them. With proliferation of nuclear weapons, given their relatively small size, there is no reason why the source of the weapons should be necessarily traceable. This would be especially so after a North Korean-manufactured nuclear device in a shipping container has been detonated in New York, London or Sydney, or an Iranian-manufactured device is detonated by Hezbollah or al-Qa'ida in Tel Aviv.

Kerry Lied about Meeting with U.N. Security Council

The Washington Times is reporting that, contrary to numerous statements Senator Kerry has made on the campaign trail, he did not meet with all members of the U.N. Security Council just a week before voting in October 2002 to authorize the use of force in Iraq.

Kerry has made this claim at least twice, once in December, 2003 before the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, and once at the second presidential debate earlier this month. Each time, Kerry cited his meeting "with the entire Security Council" as proof of his attention to international concerns and his superior understanding of foreign policy. The only problem is, it isn't true.
Ambassador Andres Franco, the permanent deputy representative from Colombia during its Security Council membership from 2001 to 2002, said, "I never heard of anything."
Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, Mexico's then-ambassador to the United Nations, said: "There was no meeting with John Kerry before Resolution 1441, or at least not in my memory."
Could they have forgotten?

Stefan Tafrov, Bulgaria's ambassador at the time, said he remembers the period well because it "was a very contentious time."
Maybe the U.N. has a record of the meeting?

Asked whether the international body had any records of Mr. Kerry sitting down with the whole council, a U.N. spokesman said that "our office does not have any record of this meeting."
Did he speak to anyone?

After conversations with ambassadors from five members of the Security Council in 2002 and calls to all the missions of the countries then on the panel, The Times was only able to confirm directly that Mr. Kerry had met with representatives of France, Singapore and Cameroon.
France, Singapore and Cameroon, now that's an alliance! Not even his friends the French are willing to lie for him:
Jean-David Levitte, then France's chief U.N. representative and now his country's ambassador to the United States, said through a spokeswoman that Mr. Kerry did not have a single group meeting as the senator has described, but rather several one-on-one or small-group encounters.

He added that Mr. Kerry did not meet with every member of the Security Council, only "some" of them. Mr. Levitte could only name himself and Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of Britain as the Security Council members with whom Mr. Kerry had met.
Powerline had hinted at this story on Saturday as a potential "serious problem" for Kerry, but I don't know if the MSM will let it rise to that level. I do think that it shows serious flaws in Kerry's character and is more evidence of his tendency for self-aggrandizement and his willingness to lie to make political points. He lied (or at least remained silent) about his ancestry so that he could be seen as "Irish" in Boston; he lied, on the floor of the Senate, about being illegally ordered into Cambodia on Christmas Eve, 1968 in order to attack then-President Reagan's Latin American policies and, more recently, he lied about receiving endorsements from unnamed "foreign leaders".

All of these lies have since been recanted by the Kerry campaign. You can add to this list further allegations regarding the entirety of his service in Viet Nam, including the manner in which he won the three Purple Hearts that sent him home early. All of this is particularly ironic coming from a candidate who has repeatedly charged that President Bush has lied to the American people and who has claimed that among his mother's last words to him were "Remember: integrity, integrity, integrity."

So, given all this, how does the Kerry campaign respond to these latest allegations?
When reached for comment last week, an official with the Kerry campaign stood by the candidate's previous claims that he had met with the entire Security Council.

But after being told late yesterday of the results of The Times investigation, the Kerry campaign issued a statement that read in part, "It was a closed meeting and a private discussion."

A Kerry aide refused to identify who participated in the meeting.
The statement did not repeat Mr. Kerry's claims of a lengthy meeting with the entire 15-member Security Council, instead saying the candidate "met with a group of representatives of countries sitting on the Security Council."
More backtracking, and more secrecy. This story does shed a light on Kerry's character, and its not very flattering.

More Commetary on Kerry's Latest Lie

Blogs for Bush
Kerry being a liar is nothing new. Kerry's campaign is sinking on its own without this story
The Kerry Spot
This story feels like a rerun of his claim of support from "foreign leaders." Under Kerry's rules, he is allowed to cite these private conversations to promote himself and his candidacy, but no one is allowed to ask him questions about those meetings, because they're "private." (which tipped the story to Powerline)
This isn't gotcha: it directly undermines a key element of the Kerry mythos. After a public lifetime of anti-Americanism and fecklessness, Kerry knows that he needs drive home the five points listed above in order to convince the American people of his fitness to represent and lead our nation abroad. How to square this with that? How to explain the big lie? How to dismiss the appropriation of -- and believe us, the insult to -- these nations with whom Kerry will purportedly work and ally? How to pretend that this is the act of a man laying claim as a central campaign theme the pretense to superior diplomacy, and yes, honesty? How to explain that nettlesome Iraq war resolution vote now? What does John Kerry say? Does he forthrightly acknowledge his error? Or, like the loudmouthed teenager caught bragging about romantic conquests never made, does he simply pretend it never happened?
Captain's Quarters
Yes, it reveals nothing that we haven't seen before, but in this case the lie is particularly egregious in that he's using it to undermine our foreign policy and diplomacy in a time of war. It's another indication that nothing, not our security or the lives of our troops, comes before his own overwhelming ambitions to seize power and live out the life of his boyhood idol, John Kennedy. And the fact that he's established a firm pattern of deceit and self-aggrandizement shouldn't be treated with a round of indifference; it should be heralded to the American electorate so that they can see Kerry for the prevaricating narcissist that he so clearly is.
INDC Journal
These aren't exaggerations. This isn't a case of lying about sex. It's a story about a man that's pathological enough to look a nationally televised audience of 55 million people in the eye and tell them a manufactured story, and then use it to propose a conclusion about a deadly serious matter of foreign policy.
John's bogus (UN) journey
For those of you feeling a bit let down after all the hype, here's two more stories that should light a fire under you.

Kerry refuses interview with Bob Woodward about what he would have done at certain key points on Iraq.

John Kerry was given money by an Albanian terrorist organization known as the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Underming the Election Process

Are the Democrats undermining the legitimacy of elections? Jonah Goldberg thinks so in The Myth of the Disenfranchised:
But there's a huge difference between the two sides' tactics. The Republicans' lawyers aren't preemptively declaring the election is fraud if they don't win. Simply put, they aren't trying to undermine the legitimacy of the American political system. The Democrats - who constantly decry Bush's "politics of fear" even as they warn of a draft and tell blacks they'll be disenfranchised - have taken the position that a Bush victory is by its very nature proof of voter fraud. That is the Holder Doctrine. If all the votes are counted, Kerry wins. Period. If Bush wins, the votes must not have been counted.
Goldberg's comments follow the comments of Eric Holder, a member of the Democrats' "Election Task Force", who told Fox New's Chris Wallace "If every vote is allowed to be cast, and if every vote is counted, John Kerry will be president within a day of that election." and Senator Kerry's unsubstantiated claim that a million African-Americans were denied their right to vote.

It seems that the Democrats are ready to claim that a Bush victory fraudulent regardless of any inconvenient facts such as actual vote counts, exit polls or pre-election polls. Such claims with respect to the 2000 election have been proved false repeatedly (see The Florida Myth)and as Goldberg points out, John Fund, author of "Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud is Threatening Democracy"
...has implored the NAACP, the ACLU and the Democratic Party to provide him with real life examples of blacks - or anybody else - who were specifically disenfranchised. Alas, like the "real killers" O.J. Simpson is still searching for, Fund's quest has remained unfulfilled.
Given the history of the 2000 election, it is likely that a close election resulting in a Bush victory could produce a real crisis as Senator Kerry's team tries to litigate him into office. It seems the Republic's best hopes lie in a a blow-out for the President. As Hugh Hewitt put it; If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Most Accurate Kerry Campaign Photo Ever

What can I add? Posted by Hello From Yahoo! News - Politics Photos - AFP

John Kerry - The 9/10 Democrat

Mark Steyn has read Kerry's NY Times Magazine interview and absolutely nails him in his latest column: Backward-thinking Kerry unfit to lead U.S. The whole thing is one long hilight, but here are some of the best parts:

On his new-found determination to "kill" terrorists:
This is to dispel suspicions that in reality he'd hunt down the terrorists and serve them with a subpoena, possibly from one of the less robust judicial systems, such as The Hague or Massachusetts, and possibly for mail fraud, if the whole mass murder thing looks like it won't stick.
On his seeming flip-flop in the interview:
But it's exhausting having to remember when to spit out the tough talk, and so your concentration wanders, and you get relaxed, and then you say things like this to the New York Times:

''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance. As a former law enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise.''

So the senator has now made what was hitherto just a cheap crack from his opponents into formal policy: The Democrats are the Sept. 10 party.

The ''I'll hunt down and kill America's enemies'' line was written for him and planted on his lips. The ''It's just a nuisance like prostitution'' line is his, and how he really thinks of the issue.
On his analogy to reducing terrorism to a "nuisance" like prostitution or illegal gambling:
This is aside from the basic defect of the argument: If some gal in your building is working as a prostitute, that's a nuisance -- condoms in the elevator, johns in the lobby; if Islamists seize the schoolhouse and kill your kids, even if it only happens once every couple of years, ''nuisance'' doesn't quite cover it.
On the consequences of what Kerry's strategy means:
And, as Kerry says, we've been here before: in the '90s. Back then, every so often al-Qaida blew up some military housing, a ship, couple of embassies, etc., and the Bill Clinton team shrugged it off as a nuisance. No matter how flamboyantly Osama bin Laden sashayed down the sidewalk in his fishnets and mini-skirt he couldn't catch the administration's eye. In 2000, after 17 sailors were killed on the U.S.S. Cole, Defense Secretary Bill Cohen said the attack ''was not sufficiently provocative'' to warrant a response.

So Osama tried again, on Sept. 11, 2001. And this time, like the escort ads in the Boston Yellow Pages, he was very provocative. And that's the point: Even if you take the Kerry Doctrine as seriously as the New York Times does, the nuance of nuisance depends largely on the terrorists. When all they could do was kill a few dozen here, a few hundred there, they were a ''nuisance'' to Clinton, Cohen, Kerry and Co.; when they came up with a plan that killed thousands, they became something more than a nuisance. But that change in status was determined largely by them. The Kerry Doctrine leaves it in their hands. And, in this kind of conflict, if you're not on the offensive, you're losing.

That's what John Kerry means when he says ''we have to get back to the place we were'' -- back to the '90s. Mem'ries light the corners of his mind, misty watercolor mem'ries of the place we were, but the reason they're misty watercolors is that we didn't see clearly what was going on. It wasn't just the nuisance of the biennial embassy bombing, it was the terrorist annexation of flop states and the thousands upon thousands of young Muslim men graduating from al-Qaida's training camps and then heading off wherever the jihad calls.
Please read it all.

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Man Who Was Unchanged

A number of people have commented on the division 9/11 created in the country. For many of us, it was a wake-up call, a tragic refutation of the idea that we had reached "the end of history", that the post cold-war era was going to be one long party.

For others, the events of 9/11, while tragic, had no special significance; there was no reason to change how we lived our lives or how we looked at the world. No reason for the Patriot act at home or to reassess who our allies truly were in the world.

The October 10th issue of the New York Times Magazine carried an interview with Senator Kerry on foreign policy by Matt Bai. The story mainly garnered attention for Kerry's quote that our goal should be to reduce terrorism to "a nuisance" and for his analogies of terrorism to prostitution and gambling.

Yesterday, in the LA Times, Max Boot wrote about the root cause of those comments: The Man Who Was Unchanged:
Kerry is offering Clinton redux. This focus on diplomacy and law enforcement, on treating Al Qaeda as if it were the Medellin drug cartel, may have been a plausible posture in the 1990s, when terrorism appeared to be a low-level nuisance. But 9/11 changed everything. Now we know that the jihadists would gladly incinerate one of our cities if they could get their hands on a nuclear bomb and they won't be deterred by the prospect of being arrested afterward.
Boot admits to being a "one-issue voter". I think many of us are in the same boat. We may argue about whether we should be cutting taxes or increasing domestic spending (or both, as Bush has done) but, in the end, we're going to vote for the candidate we think will best handle the War on Terror.

This doesn't have to mean a Republican. There's a long list of Democrats who stood up and fought against America's enemies during the Cold War. However, as Zell Miller has pointed out, those days seem long gone. Senator Lieberman, the one Democrat who looked happy when we captured Saddam, was probably the only presidential hopeful who might have fit the bill. Unfortunately, he had about as much chance of capturing his party's nomination as he had of being elected Prime Minister of Iraq. With the nomination out of the way, and the need to triangulate back to the center for the general election pressing, Kerry's been trying to shore up his credentials:
John F. Kerry has been doing a credible imitation of a Lieberman-type New Democrat. In the debates, he has sounded tough and focused. He promises not to give a veto to the United Nations over our security and not to wimp out on preemptive action. That's reassuring. Maybe, I've been starting to think, this guy wouldn't be so bad.
The comments in the Times Magazine have blown his cover:
Bush gets it; he was transformed by 9/11. His policy implementation has been shaky, to say the least, but at least he has shown a sense of urgency in combating terrorism and weapons proliferation that was missing in the 1990s. Kerry claims a similar sense of purpose, but he told the Times that the attacks on America "didn't change me much at all." That's a lot scarier than having a president who's clueless about "the Internets."
Commentary on Kerry's Times Magazine Interview

Blogs For Bush

John Kerry is not a bad or unpatriotic man. He simply is wired to not understand the terrorist threat we face today and has congenital inability to act as firmly as a Commander-in-Chief must. This is the Hamlet-like portrait we get from The New York Times Magazine's lengthy piece on Kerry last weekend.

Hugh Hewitt

Kerry's "this is not the sands of Iwo Jima" line continues to amaze me. Perhaps he's been fixated on Iwo Jima since the cover of New Soldier came out, Kerry's anti-war book with a staged anti-Iwo Jima Memorial cover shot including an upside down American flag.
The Kerry Spot

I am sure the New York Times did not set out to torpedo the Kerry candidacy when it published Sunday's New York Times Magazine article on his views on the war on terror.
And yet, reading it, part of me wonders if this article - and the ads that have resulted from it - will mark a turning point in the final month of the race.

Past Posts on how 9/11 changed everything

Stongmen and Banana Republics
9/11 Remembered
America at War - Down the Rabbit-Hole
America at War - The 9/10 Democrats
America at War - Blixful Amnesia
America at War

Our Friends the French

John Miller & Mark Molesky's new book, Our Oldest Enemy : A History of America's Disastrous Relationship with France, received a good review from the WSJ in Faux Amis. A partial accounting of French perfidy from the review:
France sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War. Vichy French troops fought American soldiers in North Africa in World War II. During the Cold War Charles de Gaulle did everything he could to weaken NATO. In 1986, François Mitterrand denied U.S. warplanes permission to fly over French airspace on the way to Libya--a decision that added six or seven hours of flight time for American pilots retaliating against Tripoli for a Berlin bombing that had killed American servicemen. President Reagan remarked that "France conducted a lot of business with Libya and was typically trying to play both sides." Then there was Iraq.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

"Pre-emptive" Claims of Voter Intimidation

An election day manual released by the Kerry/Edwards campaign in Colorado urges election operatives to "declare voter intimidation -- even if none exists" DRUDGE reports.

A look at the actual page, as posted by Drudge, however makes it clear that the DNC is not exactly encouraging false reports, but not by much. The relevant passage:
  • Issue a press release

I. Reviewing Republican tactic[sic] used in the past in you area or state
II. Quoting party/minority/civil rights leadership as denouncing tactics that discourage people from voting

  • Prime minority leadership to discuss the issue in the media; provide talking points
  • Place stories in which minority leadership expresses concern about the threat of intimidation tactics
  • Warn local newspapers not to accept advertising that is not properly disclaimed or that contains false warnings about voting requirements and/or what will happen at the polls

(my transcription from Drudge)

The "pre-emptive strike" referred to above appears to advise Democratic operatives to lay the groundwork for such charges post-election by giving anyone willing to claim intimidation a ready-made script; "this is how they'll try to stop you from voting" (menacing state troopers anyone?). Florida still looms large in Democratic mythology despite a thorough debunking. While not outright fraud, this could be seen as something close to aiding and abetting.

With the race as close as currently forecast, it seems that the Democrats are relying on the twin pillars of stuffing the ballot box and crying intimidation to give them an edge.

More Commentary

The Kerry Spot

Most people would say, "if no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet... then maybe intimidation isn't going on." But to the DNC, it's just a sign that it hasn't happened yet. And it is an opportunity to "launch a pre-emptive strike," complaining of voter intimidation. Folks, this is the boy who cried wolf.

Apparently there need not be evidence of wrongdoing for these folks to accuse others of wrongdoing.
If Drudge has it right, then the Kerry-Edwards campaign is going to do its damnedest to turn our fine nation into a banana republic.

To these guys, winning office is more important than the sanctity of elections. Holding power is more important than the Constitution. Much as I despise at least half of what most Republicans stand for, they don't seem nearly as willing to trash the system they're trying to run. Too many Democrats, especially at the national level, just don't care that our system, our nation is far more important than any single election.
Blogs For Bush
One has to wonder just how many Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters out there are also getting turned off by the relentless hate-mongering and political dirty tricks the Democrats are up to these days. My bet is that its a substantial number - after all, here we are in the homestretch and from polling I've seen, Kerry has yet to crack 90% in support from Democrats. In addition to those like Mr. Stephens who will actually go vote Republican to punish the Democrats, how many will just stay home out of disgust?
Captain's Quarters
Just when I thought I'd seen and heard everything in this election cycle -- a major party candidate trucking in urban legends, party chairman engaging in transparent smear campaigns, and broadcast networks publishing fraudulent stories to unseat a sitting president -- the Democrats manage to create one more surprise.

The Truth about Tora Bora

Senator Kerry has frequently attacked the President's prosecution of the War on Terror, often citing the battle of Tora Bora as a particularly egregious mistake. As Kerry explains it, the U.S. missed a golden opportunity to capture the "surrounded" Osama bin Laden, by relying on Afghani troops rather than U.S. forces. The criticism is particularly cynical coming from Mr. Kerry, who's plan for Iraq seems to involve a wholesale reliance on French and German troops.

In Tora Bora Baloney Melanie Kirkpatrick, writing in the WSJ, sheds some light on the truth about Tora Bora. Based on accounts of the Tora Bora campaign in new books by Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of the U.S. Central Command, and his deputy, Lt. Gen. Michael "Rifle" DeLong, the real story turns out to be much more "nuanced" than Kerry would let on. It's worth reading the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

French Kept Allied Citizens in Concentration Camps after WW2

This story should be required reading for all those who complain that any valid international alliance must include the French. From the Guardian (via Instapundit):
The government of Charles de Gaulle held hundreds of foreigners, including at least three Britons, in an internment camp near Toulouse for up to four years after the second world war, according to secret documents.

The papers, part of a cache of 12,000 photocopied illegally by an Austrian-born Jew, reveal the extent to which French officials collaborated with their fleeing Nazi occupiers even as their country was being liberated. They also show that, when the war was over, France went to extraordinary lengths to hide as much evidence of that collaboration as possible.
Based on the story, most of those held, including Britons and Americans, were French residents when the war started. The post-war DeGaulle Government, whose actions during the Cuban Missile Crisis Kerry warmly cited during the debate last Thursday, kept the camps running to avoid revealing how actively the French cooperated with their German "occupiers". If only the Iraqis were half as cooperative with us as the French were with the Germans.

Apparently the French had a lot to hide. The Guardian remarks that "under a 1979 law most of France's wartime archives are sealed for between 60 and 150 years after they were written." The documents reveal how enthusiastically the French officials continued their work, even after the D-Day landings:
The papers also show that officials continued to deport inmates of all nationalities to a near-certain death in Germany even as France was being liberated.

A neat register shows that, in March 1944, Noé contained inmates of 25 nationalities, including three Americans and 13 Britons aged between 21 and 55, and one other Briton aged over 55.

On June 24 1944, two weeks after the allies landed on the beaches of Normandy, the camp commandant wrote to the Toulouse prefecture. "I have the honour to inform you," he said, "that on the 22nd of this month nine British citizens were transferred to this camp."
Even more chilling is the uncertain fate of those interred:
But what happened to those, many elderly and infirm, who stayed? Some are marked "transferred". Others were moved in 1947 to Pithiviers or Rivesaltes camps, both officially closed. Some are marked: "Agreed with Mr Casse - to be lost". And what that means, no one knows.
The story includes the names and birthplaces of some of those held, so the veracity of the papers can be checked.

The French are not our friends.

Monday, October 04, 2004

A Tale of Two Polls

Two polls with very different results.

USA Today reports on an unscientific poll of U.S. military personnel that finds they support President Bush for re-election by a 4-to-1 ratio.

Meanwhile, the International Herald Tribune reports:

Eighty-seven percent of French people would back Kerry and 13 percent would vote for Bush, according to the poll by the CSA research group and published by La Croix newspaper.
The first poll was conducted by Army Times Publishing, a sister company of USA Today that publishes the weekly newspapers Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times and Marine Corps Times and is based on subscriber responses. One very interesting finding:

Of survey respondents, 65% of active-duty and 67% of Guard and reserve troops said that Kerry's activities after Vietnam made them less likely to vote for him...

Only 12% of active-duty troops and 16% of Guard and reserve troops said Bush's actions in the National Guard made them less likely to vote for him.

After all the commentary on both sides of the Swiftboat/TANG stories, its interesting to see what those in the military make of it all.

The USA Today story also has this unintentionally funny analysis:

Richard Kohn, a University of North Carolina history professor who has studied the political culture of the military, said the Bush campaign has been effective in creating the impression that, if elected, Kerry might "cut and run" in Iraq. "None of us who has studied Kerry's character believes that, but the Bush campaign has established in the public's mind a connection to Vietnam," Kohn said.
"None of us who has studied Kerry's character" believe he will cut and run? How about those of us who have studied what he has actually said?

Kerry's debate showing heartened the French:
Dominique Moisi, of the French Institute for International Relations, said Kerry had prevailed on a night that had breathed new life into his campaign.
Not to be done by their liberal American counterparts, and demonstrating an enviable "nuance" and understanding of World affairs, the European intelligentsia explained why they support Kerry:
"We are in a logic of 'Anything but Bush," Andre Kaspi, a professor in North American history at Paris's Sorbonne University, told La Croix. "French people know little about John Kerry, but it doesn't matter. Whoever the candidate was against George Bush, he would get the same support here."
Additional Coverage

During the debate, John Kerry had a message for the troops,...Well, it looks like most of the troops don't want Kerry's "help"
Hugh Hewitt on the two polls here and here.

The Mudville Gazette (via Hugh):
I'd guess the Swift Vets had a bit more cred with the GIs than ol Mike Moore did.
Anti-Bush sentiment is not limited to France; its also prevalent in Axis of Weasels partner Germany. Davids Medienkritik, which covers German politics, weighs in with this opinion piece from the German-government financed Deutsche Welle - Bush and the Damage Done:
When expatriate Americans cast their ballots for president on November 2, they will be better prepared than most of their countrymen back home to assess whether that foreign policy has been marked by taking calculated risks in troubled times or if it's an unmitigated disaster harming the nation's interests more than advancing them.
And how should these expats judge Bush's foreign policy? By success against al Qaeda? By whether the U.S. is safer? No, by that all-important Kerry standard, popularity abroad:
The complete lack of goodwill toward Washington is particularly worrying...

That's why John Kerry's comments that he would once again turn towards multilateral methods are encouraging.
(via Vodkapundit)

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Kerry's Idea of a "Grand Alliance" is a "Grand Illusion"

Senator Kerry's main argument against the President's handling of Iraq - the issue of "alliances" and "allies" - is either disingenuous, naive or both. His constant obsessing over this issue and of how we're perceived among the European elites he considers his peers is the equivalent of an unpopular high-schooler obsessing over whether the "cool" kids like him. Teen angst may make for good television, but it makes a lousy basis for foreign policy.

The Bush Administration has assembled an alliance of over 30 countries that have sent troops to Iraq. These troop contributions range from the the 8,300 sent by the UK, the 2,800 sent by Italy and the 2,300 sent by Poland to the 30 sent from Macedonia, the 45 by Tonga and the 60 from New Zealand. The list of other nations sending troops includes Georgia, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Ukraine from Eastern Europe, Portugal and the Netherlands from Western Europe, and South Korea, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand from Asia.

Kerry, who promises to be a grand alliance builder, has called this alliance a "trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought, and the extorted." During the debate Thursday night he harped on the fact that the U.S. has borne "90 percent of the casualties ", repeating it three separate times. Does he mean to imply that the mere 10% of the casualties borne by our allies are meaningless? Tell that to the families of the 19 Italians (twelve carabinieri, five Army soldiers, two Italian civilians) who were killed last November in a suicide attack in Nasiriyah. Tell that to the families of the 68 Britons, six Bulgarians, one Dane, two Dutch, one Estonian, one Hungarian, one Latvian, 13 Poles, one Salvadoran, three Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, two Thai and nine Ukrainians who have also died in Iraq.

On September 6th, John Kerry called the conflict in Iraq "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time". Thursday night he repeated this line of attack, saying "the president made a mistake in invading Iraq". But, like every other position, he tried to have it both ways. When moderator Jim Lehrer, in a departure, sprung a tough question on the Democrat, quoting Kerry's 1971 Congressional testimony "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" and asking Kerry "Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?" he answered "no". You can't have it both ways Senator. If you call the war a mistake, then dying for it must be a mistake. By saying this, you dishonor those who have paid the ultimate price to protect the rest of us.

Kerry and his campaign have also disparaged the leader of the very country who's future we're trying to secure. Kerry couldn't drag himself away from the campaign trail in Ohio to hear Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi's address to a joint session of Congress, but did find the time to bash him, saying "The prime minister and the president are here obviously to put their best face on the policy, but the fact is that the CIA estimates, the reporting, the ground operation and the troops all tell a different story,". Ever the expert, Kerry obviously knows more about the situation on the ground in Iraq than that country's Prime Minister.

The rudeness and arrogance of Kerry's remarks were exceed by those of his spokesman, Joe Lockhart, who told the Los Angeles Times: "The last thing you want to be seen as is a puppet of the United States, and you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips." A fine way to treat a man who has put his life at risk, who has faced four assassination attempts since June, in order to help his country.

If Kerry is so keen on alliances, why is he disparaging the allies already on the ground in Iraq? Is it because the coalition is not broad enough?

It's true that the U.S. has supplied the overwhelming bulk of the troops on the ground in Iraq, but that's to be expected. The U.S. is the sole military superpower left in the world. No other country can project forces globally the way we do. Everyone else is, at best, a regional power and even those are few. Does this detract from their contributions? No. Tonga has sent 45 troops! As remote are they from the war on terror, they sent their sons to fight.

U.S. military preeminence in international coalitions has a long history. National Review contributor and talk-show host Mark Levin has compared the current U.S. led coalition in Iraq to the UN led coalition in Korea at its peak. As of this July, the coalition in Iraq is broader (32 countries as compared to 16 in Korea) and allied troops make up a bigger percentage of total forces (15.6% as compared to 10.2% in Korea). Does this illegitimate the Korean War or does the UN imprimatur cure all ills in Kerry's eyes? If the later, we're still waiting for a condemnation of President Clinton's Balkan adventures, which, like the war in Iraq, lacked UN approval.

The common wisdom is that by "allies" Kerry means France and Germany and that by "alliance" he means French and German permission. Richard Holbrooke, a Kerry surrogate and front-runner for Secretary of State in a Kerry administration, recently told German magazine Der Spiegel that " the first thing the new US president would do would be to invite the German chancellor and Chirac to the White House." In a speech at NYU on September 20th, Kerry let it be known what he would be discussing with them: "The President should recruit troops from our friends and allies for a U.N. protection force. This won't be easy. But even countries that refused to put boots on the ground in Iraq should still help protect the U.N. " That's a nice sentiment, but is it realistic? Are France and Germany willing and able to send troops to Iraq?

No and No.

Both governments have signaled their refusal to even consider sending troops. As the Washington Times reported following Kerry's comments:

Mr. Schroeder promptly punctured Mr. Kerry's balloon: "We won't send any German soldiers to Iraq, and that's where it's going to remain." French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said his government had no plans to send troops "either now or later."
Prime Minister Chirac also commented on this, saying "French policy with regard to Iraq has not changed and will not change."

And why should they send troops? Wouldn't doing so just endanger their citizens, as Kerry's sister warned Australians about their involvement in Iraq?

But lets ignore these flat out refusals for a minute. Could France and Germany send a meaningful number of troops to Iraq? Could we see French and German troops marching in to relieve beleaguered Americans?

According to Levin's figures, Korea involved 387,570 combat troops while the total for Iraq was 149,985. In terms of troops committed, France ranked 12th out of 16 nations, sending 1,119 troops. Even in the early 50's, in the halcyon days of post-WW2 French military prowess, less than ten years after they themselves had been liberated, the French were shirking their duties, supplying less troops than nations such as Thailand and Ethiopia. On percentage terms, France contributed fewer troops to the UN effort in Korea (less than three-tenths of one percent) than Bulgaria, Denmark or (again) Thailand have contributed in Iraq. They barely edge out the El Salvadoran contribution.

Germany, of course, was not involved in either; Iraq by choice and Korea occurring a little to soon after WW2 for comfort.

Following Kosovo, which was primarily an air war, the Heritage Foundation reported that the U.S. had fielded 80% of the assets used in the conflict:
To cover for the European allies' warfighting deficiencies during the air campaign, U.S. aircraft flew two-thirds of the strike missions; nearly every precision-guided missile was launched from U.S. aircraft. The European allies' technological contribution to the war effort was hampered by a lack of computerized weapons, night-vision equipment, and advanced communications resources. Air Force General Michael Short, who oversaw the NATO bombing campaign, even curtailed European strike missions to avoid unnecessary risk to NATO troops. These shortcomings are the result of inadequate defense expenditures by the allies.
In Afghanistan, where NATO supported U.S. action, there were approximately 24,600 troops before the recent ramp-up for the Afghani elections. The U.S. supplied 17,900 or 73%, NATO 6,300 or 25% and non-NATO allies 400 or 2%. Germany supplied approximately 1900 troops and France a scant 565.

The bottom-line is that France and Germany have neither the will nor the means to meaningfully contribute to Iraq. Kerry's obsessive deference to them, at the expense of allies who are contributing to efforts in Iraq, goes beyond reason. Mr. Kerry seems to be stuck in some Cold War-era mindset with visions of DeGaulle dancing in his head. The post 9/11 world has passed him by and left him unable to cope with its new realities, its new alliances. As H.J. Temple, Viscount Palmerston, told the House of Commons in 1848:
We have no eternal allies and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and these interests, it is our duty to follow.
John Kerry would be wise to listen to such advice.

Friday, October 01, 2004

A Conversation with Kerry - Alliances, Alliances, Alliances!

Senator Kerry, you're main argument against the President's handling of Iraq seems to have something to do with "alliances".
I believe America is safest and strongest when we are leading the world and we are leading strong alliances.

I‘ll never give a veto to any country over our security. But I also know how to lead those alliances.
So you like alliances? But how is that going to help us in Iraq?
I have a better plan to be able to fight the war on terror by strengthening our military, strengthening our intelligence, by going after the financing more authoritatively, by doing what we need to do to rebuild the alliances, by reaching out to the Muslim world,...
Strengthening our military and intelligence sounds like a good thing. But, during your Senate career haven't you pretty much voted against every bill aimed at doing that? I seem to remember Zell Miller saying something about that. But, that aside, what exactly did the President do wrong?
First of all, he made the misjudgment of saying to America that he was going to build a true alliance, that he would exhaust the remedies of the United Nations and go through the inspections.
Yes. The "alliance" thing. So what do you think we need to do now?
We need to be smarter about now we wage a war on terror. We need to deny them the recruits. We need to deny them the safe havens. We need to rebuild our alliances.
Let's put this "alliance" thing aside for a minute. Do you have any concrete proposals that will help the situation in Iraq?
I have a plan to have a summit with all of the allies
Hmm. You're back on that "allies" thing again. What's the purpose of this summit?
And I believe our troops need other allies helping. I‘m going to hold that summit.
You mentioned that. But haven't we pretty much hashed this all out already? Aren't those countries who aren't involved currently in Iraq fundamentally opposed to what we did there? Why would they aid us now?
But this president hasn‘t even held the kind of statesman-like summits that pull people together and get them to invest in those states.
Oh, so we need some statesman-like summits? Do you think that will work? Will that persuade France and Germany to send troops? You know, they supported us in Afghanistan and they weren't exactly generous there with the troops.
I‘ve laid out a plan by which I think we can be successful in Iraq: with a summit, by doing better training, faster, by cutting—by doing what we need to do with respect to the U.N. and the elections.
So your plan is to have a "statesman-like summit" with "allies" who don't want to help us in order to form some kind of "alliance". Doesn't sound very heavy on any actual details. What will be the end result of this summit - you mentioned "Cutting"? Was that a reference to "cutting and running?
I think my plan is better.
Thank you Senator.

All Kerry quotes from the complete debate transcript available here. Emphasis added.