A million a day for ISIS and a grain of salt

July 20, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

ISIS, the jihadist group that’s declared a Caliphate on the ruins of western Iraq and eastern Syria, is now making roughly a million bucks per day by selling oil seized from Iraqi pipelines. Note also the Kurdish connection: no one’s pure in that part of the world.

Originally posted on Money Jihad:

Is a million dollars a day enough to sustain ISIS’s operations without dipping into its own reserves? Perhaps. There may be about 10,000 ISIS foot soldiers. Paying, feeding, clothing, and transporting that many men is expensive. But if each jihadist were getting a proportionate share of $100 a day, that still well exceeds the median Iraqi income of $15 a day, which probably helps with recruitment efforts.

That being said, such a rapid influx of money does not automatically translate into the ability to spend the money—either wisely or at all. Remember the movie “Brewster’s Millions” where Richard Pryor was challenged to spend $30 million in 30 days? It’s harder than it looks.

But it’s still ominous. From the Telegraph on July 11:

Iraq oil bonanza reaps $1 million a day for Islamic State

Exclusive: Islamic State strengthens grip on northern Iraq by raising millions from sale of oil through…

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ISIS gets men and $800 million from Turkey

July 8, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

This story isn’t getting enough play, in my opinion.

Originally posted on Money Jihad:

Jihadist recruits and millions of dollars have slipped through the sieve-like border between Turkey and Iraq, says Middle East expert Daniel Pipes. This is purposeful not negligent. Pipes argues that this is because Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s twin interests in toppling Assad in Syria and fighting the Kurds in Iraq are both served by an ascendant Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Again, ISIS didn’t wake up one day and seize Mosul by chance. The combination of funding, number of foot soldiers, and strategy leaves almost no doubt that state sponsorship is involved.

Via Algemeiner on Jun. 22:

…Ankara may deny helping ISIS, but the evidence for this is overwhelming. “As we have the longest border with Syria,” writes Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Turkish newspaper columnist, “Turkey’s support was vital for the jihadists in getting in and out of the country.” Indeed, the ISIS strongholds not coincidentally…

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ISIS proclaims Caliphate; H. Beam Piper nods

June 29, 2014
Seal of the new Caliphate

Seal of the new Caliphate

Bringing the medieval into the modern world, the psychotic jihadis of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria have declared their leader “Caliph,” the ruler of all Muslims:

An offshoot of Al-Qaida which has captured swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria has declared itself an Islamic “Caliphate” and called on factions worldwide to pledge their allegiance, a statement posted on jihadist websites said on Sunday.

The move is an expansion of the group’s ambitions to wage a holy war and posed a direct challenge to the central leadership of Al-Qaida, which has already disowned it.

The group, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also known as ISIS, has renamed itself “Islamic State” and proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadi as “Caliph” – the head of the state, the statement said.

“He is the imam and khalifah (Caliph) for the Muslims everywhere,” the group’s spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said in the statement, which was translated into several languages and an Arabic audio speech.

The move is significant, since many Islamists believe the Muslim world has lost its way since the end of the Caliphate in 1924. And the new pretender’s name has meaning, too: Abu Bakr was the first Caliph, ruling the Muslims after Muhammad’s death. Thus, taking his name is both an announcement of Islamic renewal and a harkening back to a supposed time of purity, which is a goal of Salafis.

The birth of the new Islamic State and the proclamation of a new Caliphate is an existential challenge to the states and their boundaries established on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, rooted in the Sykes-Picot agreement between Britain and France. Bear in mind that, under Islamic law, only the Caliph can declare on offensive jihad (1). If IS takes Baghdad, then Saudi Arabia and Jordan should watch out.

Will the new caliphate be a direct threat to us? Almost certainly, if it lasts long enough to stabilize and hold territory. Al Qaeda used Sudan and Afghanistan to launch its attacks against the West. These clowns will almost certainly see jihad against us as a religious duty — once they’ve taken care of the “hypocrites” in their area.

But, it’s a legitimate question as to whether this is a genuine restoration, or if it’s another pipe dream. Analyst Tom Rogan thinks ISIS/IS is too dysfunctional to survive.

We’ll see.

PS: Oh, and the reference to H. Beam Piper? He’s one of my favorite science fiction authors, writing in the 50s and early 60s. His future history postulates an atomic war that devastates much of the northern hemisphere in the late 20th century. That war begins when the caliphate is restored and then the Caliph assassinated… in Iraq. Hmmm…

Footnote:
(1) In case you’re wondering just what the heck has been waged against us in recent years, al Qaeda and other jihadist groups consider that “defensive jihad.” See Raymond Ibrahim’s “Al Qaeda Reader” for an explanation.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Facing America’s Failure in Iraq

June 22, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Sometimes the most necessary lessons are the one we learn from failure.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

The last week, which has seen murderously radical Sunni jihadists take over much of Iraq and even threaten Baghdad, has witnessed the unraveling of the past dozen years of U.S. policy in that country, and with it the collapse of our entire strategy towards the Middle East. There is ample blame to go around. I have no intention here of reopening the debate about the wisdom of invading Iraq in 2003, since that would require a book rather than a blog post, though if it’s not evident to you by now that Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, as executed, was perhaps the greatest disaster in the history of American foreign policy, I’m not sure this blog’s for you. That said, I am tired of the constant efforts to decontextualize the actual history of how we wound up invading Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein; scoring cheap political points off complex matters of statecraft…

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Romney on Iraq: “Our foreign policy is run by bumbling incompetents”

June 16, 2014

Okay, okay. Mitt didn’t really say that; I was just interpreting what I take to be the subtext of this interview with NBC’s David Gregory:

Via National Review, here’s the key passage:

“This administration, from Secretary Clinton to President Obama, has repeatedly underestimated the threats faced by America, has repeatedly underestimated our adversaries,” he said on Meet the Press. “Whether that’s Russia, or Assad, or ISIS, or al-Qaeda itself, it has not taken the action necessary to prevent bad things from happening; it has not used our influence to do what is necessary to protect our interests.”

Emphasis added. I think “repeatedly underestimated” is the typically nice, Romney-esque way of saying “bumbling incompetence,” don’t you?

The foreign crises we’re facing are no laughing matter, but a small part of me can’t help but hope Mitt is feeling some vindication; time and again, after being ridiculed in the campaign for being out of touch with our Brave New World of Smart Power, he’s been shown to be right, and the Obama team (including their MSM cheerleaders) spectacularly wrong.

I probably would have found myself at odds with “President Romney” fairly often over domestic issues, had he and Paul Ryan won, but I’ve always been impressed with Mitt’s solid grasp of America’s foreign interests and the challenges facing them, ever since I read his speech in Herzliya, Israel, in 2007. In a way and to a depth that President Obama and his “team of unicorns” never will, Mitt gets it. And I feel safe in saying he would not have made the boneheaded mistakes that are the hallmark of the current mis-administration.

It’s a shame he didn’t win.

PS: I haven’t written about the crisis in Iraq, yet, because I’m still processing what’s happening there. I’ll leave the instant commentary to people desperate to show this proves what they always believed and wanted to be true, whatever that happens to be. But I will say this: in 2009, George W. Bush, in spite of whatever mistakes his administration made from 2003-2009 in Iraq, left President Obama and Iraq Prime Minister Maliki a winnable situation; all they had to do was show prudence and wisdom. All they had to do was not screw it up.

Yet they both did just that. And I have no idea how this situation can be salvaged.

PPS: Remember the “purple finger woman” of 2005? I hope she’s alright.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Suicide-bombing instructor blows up his own class

February 10, 2014
Former ISIS faculty member

Former ISIS faculty member

As you can imagine, I’m shedding rivers of tears over this news.

Tears of laughter:

A group of Sunni militants attending a suicide bombing training class at a camp north of Baghdad were killed on Monday when their commander unwittingly conducted a demonstration with a belt that was packed with explosives, army and police officials said.

The militants belonged to a group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which is fighting the Shiite-dominated army of the Iraqi government, mostly in Anbar Province. But they are also linked to bomb attacks elsewhere and other fighting that has thrown Iraq deeper into sectarian violence.

Twenty-two ISIS members were killed, and 15 were wounded, in the explosion at the camp, which is in a farming area in the northeastern province of Samara, according to the police and army officials. Stores of other explosive devices and heavy weapons were also kept there, the officials said.

I bet that taught them a lesson they’ll never forget.

I wonder if a jihadi qualifies for his 72 virgin goats if he dies in the dumbest way possible?

via Moe Lane

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Iraq and Syria: al Qaeda on the march

January 9, 2014
The flag of al Qaeda

The flag of al Qaeda

Boy, it’s a good thing President Obama destroyed al Qaeda, isn’t it? Otherwise they’d have conquered the world, by now.

As it is, we can be grateful they only control more territory than they ever have:

From around Aleppo in western Syria to small areas of Falluja in central Iraq, al Qaeda now controls territory that stretches more than 400 miles across the heart of the Middle East, according to English and Arab language news accounts as well as accounts on jihadist websites.

Indeed, al Qaeda appears to control more territory in the Arab world than it has done at any time in its history.

The focus of al Qaeda’s leaders has always been regime change in the Arab world in order to install Taliban-style regimes. Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri acknowledged as much in his 2001 autobiography, “Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet,” when he explained that the most important strategic goal of al Qaeda was to seize control of a state, or part of a state, somewhere in the Muslim world, explaining that, “without achieving this goal our actions will mean nothing.”

Now al-Zawahiri is closer to his goal than he has ever been.

(…)

In September a CNN reporting team concluded, “Al Qaeda has swept to power with the aim of imposing a strict Islamist ideology on Syrians across large swathes of Syria’s rebel-held north.”

In sum, al Qaeda affiliates now control much of northern and northwestern Syria as well as some parts of eastern Syria, as well as much of Anbar province, which is around a third of Iraqi territory.

Thank goodness Obama and his Smart Power team came into office to fix George W. Bush’s mistakes, no?

Like I said before, this would likely not have happened had the Obama administration not bollixed the SOF negotiations with Maliki’s government. In both political and military matters, our proven ability to act as a trusted mediator between Iraqi factions probably would have prevented the political difficulties that gave al Qaeda this opening in Anbar, and provided the Iraqi Army with the support they need to deal rapidly and effectively with the threat. This was demonstrated time and again during the Surge operations.

But, under President Obama’s wise leadership, we left Iraq. We also dithered on Syria until jihadists became the dominant opposition force.

And now the black banner of jihad flies from Aleppo to Fallujah.

via Jim Geraghty, who writes:

Remember, “Bin Laden is dead and Detroit is alive”? Detroit is bankrupt and al-Qaeda now controls more territory than ever.

Heckuva job, Barry.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Smart-Power Success! Al Qaeda takes Fallujah!

January 6, 2014
Your Obama foreign policy team

Your Obama foreign policy team

Not “al Qaeda central,” as the Obama administration likes to call it, but the revived affiliate “al Qaeda in Iraq” (Zarqawi’s old outfit), which is more or less merged with its Syrian equivalent in one big happy family of murdering jihadi psychos.

And, taking advantage of internal Iraqi political frictions, they’re making their move:

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, an al Qaeda branch in the Middle East, and its tribal allies have taken control of Fallujah less than one week after launching an offensive in Iraq’s western province of Anbar. Meanwhile, the military and tribes that oppose the ISIS have launched counterattacks in Ramadi and other cities and towns along the Euphrates River.

Security officials and reports told the BBC that the ISIS fighters “control the south of the city,” while “tribesmen allied with al Qaeda hold the rest of Fallujah.” Reuters reported that “the northern and eastern parts of the city were under the control of tribesmen and militants.”

(…)

Jihadists waving al Qaeda’s black flag have occupied police stations and government buildings, and are issuing calls from mosques for men to join the fight against the government.

The military has responded by shelling areas of the city under ISIS control. The total number of people killed during the fighting in Fallujah is not yet known.

ISIS fighters seized control of parts of Fallujah and Ramadi, the two largest cities in Anbar, on Tuesday after the Iraqi military withdrew from the cities in the wake of clashes between government forces and the tribes following the arrest of a senior Sunni politician in Ramadi. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda seizes partial control of 2 cities in western Iraq]. Maliki ordered the troops to return to the cities after cutting a deal with the tribes, but not before the ISIS quickly moved in and seized control.

Politics between the Sunni tribes in Anbar with each other and strained relations with the Shiite Maliki government in Baghdad gave ISIS their opening (for example), but I have a hard time imagining this coming to pass if Team Smart Power hadn’t a) utterly bungled the negotiations over a Status of Forces agreement with Iraq, thus leading to our total withdrawal, and b) also bungled the Syrian situation so badly that a promising opportunity to bring down Assad and deal a body-blow to Iran was instead practically given gift-wrapped to al Qaeda affiliates (and Iran…).

Bungling. That seems to be the common element here.

Fallujah, Ramadi, Tal Afar, Baquba, and so many other places in western Iraq and around Baghdad were liberated by American and Iraqi blood and treasure. I don’t know if this situation will deteriorate into a crisis, or if Iraqi security forces can push ISIS out, but, as of now, Barack Obama and his foreign policy geniuses are flushing everything those men and women fought for down the toilet.

RELATED: via Hot Air, Secretary of State Kerry says “You go, Iraq! Just don’t expect any real help from us…”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Syria (Video) Why we went to war in Iraq

September 10, 2013

While the world waits to see if Obama will get his war …no…  warning shot across the bow …er… targeted, limited attack …umm… Wait! I got it!… “unbelievably small, limited kind of effort,” or if Vladimir Putin (!!) will save him from being mocked, comparisons inevitably come up to our invasion and liberation of Iraq from another bloodthirsty Baathist dictator, Saddam Hussein. “If we were willing to go to war over WMDs then (1),” proponents of striking Syria might ask, “why not now?”

Because the two don’t compare at all, as you’ll see in this Praeger University video hosted by historian Andrew Roberts:

There were a lot of reasons, strategic and moral, justifying war against Saddam Hussein. And while there are some good arguments for intervening militarily in Syria (2), there are many more convincing ones for finding another way.

via Jared Sichel

Footnotes:
(1) And before someone thrusts a fist in the air and starts shouting “Bush lied! People died!” over Iraqi WMDs, please do us all a favor and read the final report of the Iraq Survey Group.
(2) None of them involving President Obama’s self-esteem and credibility, or sending messages to Tehran. The Iranians have already received that message, loud and clear.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Leading from behind will lose us Iraq

April 30, 2013

This is potentially very bad:

After a week of violence in Iraq in which more than 170 Iraqis, including tribesmen, soldiers, and policemen have been killed in clashes during Sunni protests in Salahuddin province, the Awakening is preparing to take up arms against the Iraqi government. On April 24, Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, the head of the Awakening, said in an interview with Al Jazeera that “from Fallujah to Al Qaim” the tribes are coordinating and “united” to battle the government if need be.

For those who don’t recall, the “Anbar Awakening” was an alliance of mostly Sunni tribes in western Iraq, which aligned itself with the US military starting around 2006 after having had enough of the atrocities committed against them by al Qaeda in Iraq. (1) To say they were crucial to our victory during the surge would be no less than the truth.  Without the Awakening, we don’t benefit from pacified areas that allow us to concentrate against al Qaeda and the Shiite militias, and we don’t have the eyes and ears of locals who know the situation on the ground far better than we do.

In return, we acted as interlocutors between the local tribes and the new, mostly Shiite national government, mediating the frictions caused by, literally, centuries of bad blood between the two sects. In the politics of Iraq, our military was essential to keeping the peace the surge won, not just because of our military power, but because we were the only group both sides trusted. If an American officer said something would get done, it would get done — and done honestly. It is almost impossible to put a value on the worth of that trust.

But now, with the Americans gone after Obama’s half-hearted, bungling efforts to negotiate a status of forces agreement, all that is in danger of falling apart as the groups revert to old habits and the Syrian civil war draws them in:

Without military forces in country, the US has been unable to support the Iraqi government in its counterterrorism campaign against al Qaeda in Iraq, or to serve as a buffer and broker between Iraq’s ethnic groups. The US has also diplomatically abandoned the Sunni tribes in Anbar and other provinces, despite promises to remain engaged with the Awakening after the pivotal alliance that drastically improved Iraq’s security from 2006 to 2008.

(…)

Without US forces, al Qaeda in Iraq gained the time and space to regroup and rebuild, and has established a potent fighting force inside Syria as the Al Nusrah Front (al Qaeda’s affiliate there). Continued access to the tribes would have pressed the advantage against a previously decimated al Qaeda in Iraq and could have given the US a foothold to support non-Salafi jihadist rebels inside Syria as well (the tribes in western Iraq extend into Syria).

I said when we liberated Iraq that we had to be prepared to be there for 50 years, using our soldiers and our diplomacy as a shield while Iraq developed the habits of constitutional government and a healthy civil society, much like we did with South Korea. It wasn’t guaranteed to work, but I believe it had a good chance. Now we may never know, however, for if the tribes do revolt and the Syrian civil war does spread into Iraq –with inevitable Iranian involvement– then Barack Obama’s “Diffidence Doctrine” will have succeeded in taking all the blood and treasure we spent there and flushing it down a toilet.

Excuse me while I go find a wall to bang my head against.

Footnote:
(1) Such as killing their children, then hiding explosives under the bodies so the parents would be killed when they tried to recover their children’s corpses. If any group ever needed killing…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


How the Obama administration bungled Iraq

November 17, 2012

Your Obama foreign policy team

That’s really the only way to describe it. According to Foreign Policy, as reported by Threat Matrix, The Iraqis wanted a renewed Status of Forces Agreement that would have allowed for 10,000-20,000 US troops to remain in Iraq as a stabilizing force. Of course they did; over the course of our intervention there, Iraqi factions had learned to trust our military as honest brokers who kept their word, while they wouldn’t trust each other as far as they could spit.

But they couldn’t go on public record wanting that agreement, because that would offend Iraqi Arab pride by making them look like colonial stooges of Washington, so they suggested it be done informally, by executive agreement, rather than a formal, public vote of parliament.

And Team Smart Power –that’s the Obama Administration for those of you playing along at home– said “no:”

[Former US Ambassador to Iraq Jim] Jeffrey didn’t necessarily support the larger troop footprint envisioned by military leaders at the time, which reportedly ranged from 8,000 to 16,000 to 24,000 troops, depending on the military official. But he said he firmly believed that troops in Iraq past 2011 were needed and wanted by the Iraqi government.

Jeffrey was a key player on both the Washington and Baghdad sides of the 2011 negotiations that were meant to agree on a follow on force to extend the Bush administration’s Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) after it was set to expire last December. Those negotiations ultimately failed. The White House has said the Iraqis refused to grant immunity for U.S. troops in Iraq after 2011 and submit a new SOFA through their own parliament, two things the United States needed to extend the troops’ mission.

Jeffrey said that he and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki personally discussed the idea of extending the U.S. troop presence in Iraq via an executive agreement, which would not have to go through the Iraqi parliament.

Later Jeffrey asserts that the Iraqis themselves demanded the agreement go through their own parliament, but this may have been a bit of face-saving and chest-thumping after they realized negotiations were breaking down. As Bill Ardolino at Threat Matrix points out:

Simply put, while a number of Iraqi political leaders may have privately wished for continued American involvement to serve as a buffer and broker between both domestic rivals and neighboring regimes, far fewer were willing to support this position in a public, contentious debate. No one wants to be regarded as an American stooge in the prideful arena of Iraqi politics. Backing parliamentarians into a corner by demanding public ratification doomed a new SOFA to failure.

And with that failure we lost not only a base from which to confront the Iranian fascists and to build a pro-Western, constitutional, and reasonably democratic bulwark for the ever-skittish Arabs to the west and south, but we are at serious risk of losing everything we won from 2003 to 2008, when the Surge broke the back of al Qaeda in Iraq and brought the recalcitrant Anbar tribes over to our side.

I’m sure that, had we been willing to work with informal arrangements, such as an Executive Agreement, the immunity issue could have been worked out. Nothing on paper, just an understanding that any American soldier committing a crime in Iraq would be taken by Iraqi police to the nearest base and released, where we’d promptly put him in custody and deal with him our way. And maybe the deal would have had a couple of “sweeteners” in it for the relevant Iraqi ministers. Nothing that hasn’t been done before in the long history of diplomacy and couldn’t be done again. Meanwhile, our guys would have been there as a moderating, dampening force, just as we were in Japan and Germany after World War II.

But, instead, the Hundred Acre Wood School of Foreign Policy wanted everything made public and formal. I’m willing to bet my Obamaphone they didn’t bother to consult anyone from the prior administration (or, if they did, it was perfunctory) who had been dealing with the Iraqis for years and who knew the “lie of the land” and could warn them not to put Maliki and his people on the spot. No, they were too clever and sophisticated to need to do anything like that.

So, thanks to the Smartest Administration Ever, we’re left holding…. bupkis.

Heckuva way to honor our soldiers’ sacrifices, isn’t it?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


We did the right thing

March 20, 2012

Nine years ago today, the United States invaded Iraq at the head of a coalition including Great Britain, Australia, Poland, and other nations with the goal of toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein and, perhaps, healing the poisoned tree of Arab Middle East politics by helping foster the growth of a stable democracy in the heart of the Islamic world.

Two goals born of the danger inherent in the status quo that was revealed to us one horrible morning in September, 2001.

One was brilliantly achieved: after the usual predictions from the Left and the MSM (but I repeat myself) of stalemate and a bloodbath, Coalition forces rolled over Saddam armies in a matter of weeks and liberated (1) the people of that country from one of the worst, most brutal tyrannies of the late 20th century. (For just one example) One of the enduring images in my mind from the Battle of Baghdad is this one, from Firdos Square just before Saddam’s statue was torn down:

(That’s Gunnery Sergeant Nick Popaditch, USMC (ret), btw, who later lost an eye at the First Battle of Fallujah. He’s running for Congress against Democrat incumbent Susan Davis in California’s 53rd district. His campaign site is here. Go, now, and donate.)

The question ever since (and from the fringe Left, even before) has been “Was this the right thing to do?”

I argued then that it was and, to this day, I do.

It’s my belief that the commitment of American military force to any major combat operation (absent a direct attack on the United States) requires a convergence of the strategic and moral imperatives that have shaped American foreign policy for centuries. In Iraq, those interests came together — see, for example, Pollack’s “The Threatening Storm” (pre-war) and Feith’s “War and Decision” (post-war). See also this excellent article in Australia’s National Observer, which asked last year “Will Bush Be Vindicated?” The whole article is worth your time, but let me quote the portion about the international consensus among intelligence agencies about Iraq at that time:

Pre-war intelligence consensus

The pre-war intelligence consensus concerning Iraqi WMD extended beyond both sides of the political divide in Congress. It reached the external intelligence agencies of the world’s six major or regional powers. All of these agencies had come to similar, and mostly independent, conclusions about the presence of WMDs and Saddam’s propensity to use them.

  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) — United States.
  • Security Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) — United Kingdom.
  • Mossad — Israel.
  • Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) — Germany.
  • Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE) — France.
  • Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki (SVR) — Russia.

This is the German BND’s intelligence summary:[13]

 “Iraq has resumed its nuclear program and may be capable of producing an atomic bomb in three years;

Iraq is developing its Al Samoud and Ababil 100/Al Fatah short-range rockets, which can deliver a 300kg payload 150km. Medium-range rockets capable of carrying a warhead 3,000km could be built by 2005 — far enough to reach Europe;

Iraq is capable of manufacturing solid rocket fuel;

A Delhi-based company has acted as a buyer on Iraq’s behalf. Deliveries have been made via Malaysia and Dubai. Indian companies have copied German machine tools down to the smallest detail and such equipment has been installed in numerous chemicals projects.

Since the departure of the UN inspectors, the number of Iraqi sites involved in chemicals production has increased from 20 to 80. Of that total, a quarter could be involved in weapons production.”

Regarding Britain: after it became apparent that there were no discoverable WMDs in Iraq, the British House of Commons Intelligence Services Committee (ISC) conducted a thorough investigation into the failures of British intelligence to predict accurately the true state of Iraq’s situation. It is significant that this committee and the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee concluded, along with Lord Hutton’s independent inquiry, that no undue or inappropriate pressure was brought to bear upon the Joint Intelligence Chiefs (JIC) to shape their assessments according to a particular, pre-existing policy construct. Such a finding was contrary to persistent media reports, and to the repeated claims of opponents of Tony Blair’s position.

This is a key quote from the September 2003 House of Commons ISC report on its investigation into the JIC’s Iraq Assessment:[14]

“It was clear to all that Saddam Hussein was defying the international community, ignoring UNSCRs, breaking embargoes and engaging in an extensive programme of concealment. Based on the intelligence and the JIC assessments that we have seen, we accept that there was convincing intelligence that Iraq had active chemical, biological and nuclear programmes and the capability to produce chemical and biological weapons. Iraq was also continuing to develop ballistic missiles. All these activities were prohibited under UNSCRs.”

I put it to you that no President of the United States (2) could look at the intelligence he was receiving, which was supported by other services, and not be lead to the conclusion that liberating Iraq was very much in our interests — especially so soon after the catastrophe of September 11th.

(Fair and balanced: an alternate view from the UK’s Guardian paper.)

Regardless of what happened since and the uncertainties of the future — the poorly run occupation, the incorrect early counterinsurgency strategy, the Left’s revision of history and the Democrats’ subordination of the national interests to their party’s political goals, Obama’s decision to put all our gains at risk by pulling out too soon, the very real risk of Iraqi backsliding in our absence, and the possible failure of our second goal, fostering constitutional government in the Arab Middle East — in spite of all that, I believe George W. Bush made the right choice when he gave the order to liberate Iraq.

I still do.

Footnotes:
(1) Yes, “liberated.” Setting oppressed people free. That’s exactly what we did. It’s been a specialty of the United States military since, oh, 1775. We’re really quite good at it.
(2) Okay, okay. No adult, mature, non-callow president.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bill Whittle: What we did right in Afghanistan and Iraq, and my qualified disagreement

September 16, 2011

Bill Whittle returns with another episode of Afterburner, this time with his own retrospective on the ten years since the attacks of September 11th, 2001. In it, he looks at what has happened since in Afghanistan, Iraq, and America and looks at the things we got right, a needed corrective to the constant drumbeat of failure played for us by the MSM:

I find myself both agreeing and disagreeing with Bill. We did indeed liberate over 60,000,000 people from two of the worst tyrannies on Earth, and we did indeed maul Al Qaeda, killing thousands of fighters who might otherwise have found there way to America or Europe. The removal of Saddam’s regime ended a serious strategic threat that would surely have returned once the sanctions regime had finally failed (which it was already doing).  And Iraq has a realistic chance to establish the first genuine Arab representative, constitutional democracy, though Obama is endangering that by pulling out too fast and too soon. And we have been very successful at preventing further catastrophic attacks against us.

None of that is to be dismissed lightly.

But I can’t wholly agree with Whittle. While he’s right that the fall of Saddam and it’s replacement with a democratic regime (albeit flawed) inspired the recent Arab revolts against dictators, much as the French Revolution inspired the liberal rebellions in Europe in 1848, I’m much less sanguine than Bill about the prospects for those revolts. Unlike mid-19th century Europe, the Arab “liberal class” (1) is small and likely to be overwhelmed by Islamist factions, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its allied Salafi groups in Egypt or the Islamists among the rebels in Libya. I can more easily see this “Arab Spring” turning into a bloody winter.

And while I too take great joy from the killing of bin Laden, unlike Bill (and assuming I’m not misunderstanding him), I don’t see this as the end of anything, except perhaps the end of the beginning. Al Qaeda “central” may be broken and reduced in influence, but it has dangerous franchises around the globe. And beyond Al Qaeda, the broader jihadist movement, one of the keystones of which is Iran, remains a menacing, perhaps even existential threat.

So, yes, while we’ve ravaged Al Qaeda, the struggle with the problem of jihad and the conflict created by the matter/antimatter incompatibility of Western liberalism and Islamic Sharia remain.

RELATED: Commentary’s Abe Greenwald on “What We Got Right in the War on Terror.”

Footnote:
(1) “Liberal” as in the constitutionalist, limited government and free market philosophy that evolved from the 17th-19th centuries, not the progressivism that hijacked the word “liberal” in the 1930s.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Memorial Day quote of the day: Iraq veterans edition

May 30, 2011

From the great Walter Russell Mead:

[Osama's] dream died in Iraq.

But on this Memorial Day it is not enough to remember, and give thanks, that Osama’s dream died before he did and that the terror movement has been gravely wounded at its heart.

Because the dream didn’t just die.

It was killed.

And it was killed by coalition forces.  They killed it by fighting harder and smarter than the enemy and they killed it by winning trust and building bridges better than the enemy.  They did it because they were better, more honorable warriors and better, more honorable partners for peace.  Mostly American and mostly Christian, the coalition forcers were more compassionate, more just, more protective of the poor and more respectful of Arab women than the crazed thugs who thought setting off bombs in the market was fulfilling God’s will.

We must continue to honor and thank the Arab allies and tribal leaders who made the choice for America in a dark and a difficult time.  But especially on this Memorial Day we must honor and remember the American heroes who by their lives and by their deaths brought victory out of defeat, understanding out of hatred and gave both Muslims and non-Muslims a chance to get this whole thing right.

The story of America’s victory over terror in Mesopotamia needs to be told.  In justice to those who sacrificed so much, and for the sake of those who may have to face similar dangers in the future, somebody needs to tell the real story of how, against all odds and in the face of unremitting skepticism and defeatism at home, our armed forces built a foundation for peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.

All wars are tragic; some are also victorious.  The tragedies of Iraq are real and well known.  The victory is equally real — but the politically fastidious don’t want to look.  The minimum we owe our lost and wounded warriors is to tell the story of what they so gloriously achieved.

On this Memorial Day, a truth needs to be told.

We have not yet done justice to our dead.

Read the whole thing.

PS: Guess that resolution went the way of all things…


Bill Whittle: mythbusting Bush, bin Laden, and Obama

May 13, 2011

Ideas that seem to rise from nowhere and take on a life of their own are often called “memes.” They’re those things that “everyone knows,” but they often fall apart when looked at critically. Anthropogenic global warming is one such false meme, but that’s not the topic for today.

Instead, Bill Whittle looks at several memes associated with the The Long War(1) –”mission accomplished,” and “Iraq was a distraction,” among others– and then smashes them to bits with the Hammer of Facts:

It’s like a current-affairs version of MythBusters.

There’s an old saying that, while we are entitled to our own beliefs, we are not entitled to our own facts, and Bill does a great job using fact to skewer false belief.

(1) My preferred name for this conflict, or maybe “Jihadi War.” “War on Terror” just never sounded accurate.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


A liberal explains the difference between Libya and Iraq

March 25, 2011

It’s simple! Obama is awesome!!

Makes perfect sense.

via Jonah Goldberg

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Stuxnet: Better than a Tom Clancy novel

December 15, 2010

Because it’s real, and it apparently set the Iranian nuclear program (a.k.a., “Toys for Psycho Tots”) back two whole years:

The Stuxnet virus, which has attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities and which Israel is suspected of creating, has set back the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program by two years, a top German computer consultant who was one of the first experts to analyze the program’s code told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

“It will take two years for Iran to get back on track,” Langer said in a telephone interview from his office in Hamburg, Germany. “This was nearly as effective as a military strike, but even better since there are no fatalities and no full-blown war. From a military perspective, this was a huge success.”

Langer spoke to the Post amid news reports that the virus was still infecting Iran’s computer systems at its main uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and its reactor at Bushehr.

Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog, said that Iran had suspended work at its nuclear-field production facilities, likely a result of the Stuxnet virus.

According to Langer, Iran’s best move would be to throw out all of the computers that have been infected by the worm, which he said was the most “advanced and aggressive malware in history.” But, he said, even once all of the computers were thrown out, Iran would have to ensure that computers used by outside contractors were also clean of Stuxnet.

All without a shot being fired. And the only way to safely restart would be to trash all those expensive computers (and any portable drives)? Glorious. The article speculates that a unit of the Israel Defence Forces was behind this; I doubt the full truth will ever really come out, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn this was a joint effort by several concerned nations. On the other hand, the Israelis are creative and daring enough that this could be their work, all by themselves. And, as a friend once explained to me the First Rule of Mideast Politics:

Do not [mess] with the Israelis!

Regardless, whoever you are, well done!

via Allahpundit

UPDATE: Or was it the Chinese? Plausible, but I have a hard time believing they’d show this card when it would be more valuable to them to save to use against… us.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


He speaks for me

September 3, 2010

At Power Line, Paul Mirengoff quotes a letter from a reader about President Obama’s refusal to give President Bush the credit he deserves for the Iraq surge, which turned a deteriorating war effort there into victory.  I want to republish a portion below, because it nearly perfectly summarizes my contempt for the national Democrats and their leftist allies for their conduct during the Iraq campaign:

I will never forget or forgive the way the left behaved during this episode. For those who voted against the war (the majority of Democratic representatives and a minority of Democratic senators), I can at least credit them with consistency. But for those whose opposition came only after public opinion had shifted, I have nothing but contempt.

The antiwar wave did not arise spontaneously, but was the conscious effort of the left, including the Democrats, and for most, was opportunistic. They sacrificed the national interest in order to gain political advantage. Nothing is easier than building opposition to a war. Wars are appalling, whether necessary or morally justifiable. They create death and mayhem, last longer than most people anticipate, and are usually plagued by unanticipated difficulties and setbacks.

The left/liberal/Democrats took full advantage of all of these inherent difficulties in prosecuting a war. They cynically, opportunistically, and dishonestly carried out a campaign to undermine support for the war, attacking President Bush’s honesty and motives in pursuing the war, and vilifying anyone, in fact, who continued to support the war.

The full page ad taken out by MoveOn.org during General Petraeus’ appearance before Congress captures the spirit of this campaign perfectly. It is a miracle that President Bush, General Petraeus, and the US military perservered in the face of this vicious campaign of vilification and brought us to the point at which we now find ourselves. How can the left behave this way? Well, it helps to remember that many Democrats are internationalists anyway, and don’t really care much about US national interests. For a “citizen of the world,” patriotism is an anachronism, something we need to overcome.

(Emphasis added.)

The only thing missing is a mention of how the Democrats are just aping their political ancestors, the Copperheads.

And, no, I am not saying all criticism in time of war is illegitimate or a betrayal. One can criticize the reasons for going to war when debating whether to authorize it; one can criticize its conduct during a war, for that’s an important part of civilian audit of the military in a constitutional republic; one can even criticize continuing a war if one feels there is no national interest in continuing it.

But, to work against one’s own nation’s war interests, for example by proclaiming defeat before the issue is even resolved, and effectively give aid to the enemy in order to gain a cheap, short-term electoral advantage is despicable and swinish. The Democrats and their allies deserve to be sent into the electoral wilderness for a generation for their appalling ignobility, alone.

In other words, “Yeah, what he said.”  Frustrated

UPDATE: Oh, brother. Now Reid is claiming his premature declaration of surrender helped win the war. he’s clearly spent too much time in the Nevada sun.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Don’t ever complain to me about the money spent on Iraq, again

September 1, 2010

For years -years!- under George W. Bush, the Democrats and their Leftist allies cried rivers of crocodile tears over the money being spent to first liberate, then stabilize that land. They claimed so often and so loudly to be worried about the debts incurred and the deficits run, that they convinced the electorate that they would actually be better stewards of the public’s money, and partly for that were given control of Congress in 2006.

Well, have a look at this:

In less than two years, the Democrats have made spending on the war in Iraq look like pocket change:

As President Obama prepares to tie a bow on U.S. combat operations in Iraq, Congressional Budget Office numbers show that the total cost of the eight-year war was less than the stimulus bill passed by the Democratic-led Congress in 2009.

According to CBO numbers in its Budget and Economic Outlook published this month, the cost of Operation Iraqi Freedom was $709 billion for military and related activities, including training of Iraqi forces and diplomatic operations.

The projected cost of the stimulus, which passed in February 2009, and is expected to have a shelf life of two years, was $862 billion.

The U.S. deficit for fiscal year 2010 is expected to be $1.3 trillion, according to CBO. That compares to a 2007 deficit of $160.7 billion and a 2008 deficit of $458.6 billion, according to data provided by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget.

In 2007 and 2008, the deficit as a percentage of gross domestic product was 1.2 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

That’s $709 billion spread over seven years, compared to $862 billion in one-third the time.

In return for our money*, in Iraq we overthrew a brutal, murderous dictator and helped establish what has a good chance to become the first stable Arab democracy ever in the heart of the Middle East, a nation that could, with luck, patience, and skill, become a strong ally against terrorism and the plans of the religious fascists in Tehran. We also crushed al Qaeda in Iraq, forcing it to waste lives and resources there, and exposing its brutality for all the Arab world to see.

In return for the stimulus package, we got… unemployment higher than promised and that may turn structural, a feeble economic “recovery” that threatens to go into another recession, mind-boggling deficits and debt to foreign powers, and, by admission from the President’s own economic adviser, a failure.

You tell me which money was better spent.

And I don’t ever again want to hear a (Social) Democrat complain about the costs of “Bush’s war,” or about fiscal responsibility in general.

*(No, I am not discounting or monetizing the lives lost in Iraq. Any casualties in war are tragedies, however necessary. But this discussion is strictly about the money spent and the Democrats’ rank hypocrisy when they posed as champions of fiscal responsibility.)

via Fausta.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


About Obama’s speech on Iraq

September 1, 2010

I didn’t watch, but I read it. There isn’t much to say about this singularly unimpressive speech, but here are a few observations.

  • A lack of grace and courtesy: Sure, he mentioned Bush, but gave him no credit for the strategy change -the “surge”- that enabled Obama to take credit for leaving a relatively stable Iraq on schedule. No admission that he, Barack Obama, was wrong in his opposition to the surge. And once again he treats our volunteer citizen-soldiers primarily as victims, while nearly ignoring their successes. Our President has no class.
  • Perfunctory: When you look at the speech, it’s clear Iraq and the accomplishments of our military and diplomats merely were the framework for his real goal – another sell-job for his economic program.
  • Boring. Come on, we were sold a “golden orator” in 2007-08, the greatest speaker since Pericles delivered his funeral oration. This flat thing is the best he can do for an address from the Oval Office?

LINKS: For more thorough analysis, have a look at Hot Air; Roger Kimball wonders why they didn’t call for a rewrite; Jim Hanson says Obama has learned nothing about being Commander in Chief; Moe Lane demands Obama be held accountable; Power Line called it limp and boring. Sarah Palin offered some advice Obama would have been wise to take.


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