Okay, which one of you guys bombed Libya?

August 19, 2014

map libya

And how come I wasn’t invited?

Reports The New York Times:

Unidentified warplanes on Monday bombed a small arms depot and other locations in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, that are controlled by Islamist-aligned militias, suggesting that a foreign state had intervened in the escalating battle for control of the city.

At least six people were killed, The Associated Press reported. The origin of the planes remained a mystery.

The airstrikes were beyond the capacity of the limited Libyan Air Force, and Libyan authorities said the planes had come from a foreign state. The United States, France, Italy and Egypt all denied responsibility.

“The United States was not involved whatsoever in these events,” said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman.

But the targets indicated the intent of the strikes. Although the month-old conflict in Tripoli is largely a contest for power between rival coalitions of cities and tribes, one side is considered to be allied with the forces of political Islam, while the other portrays itself as fighting an Islamist takeover. The strikes on Monday all hit the Islamist side.

Frankly, it could have been anyone, because almost everyone has reason to drop ordnance on these refugees from a medieval lunatic asylum: the US might be trying to support its clients in the rump Libyan government; the Europeans might have gotten word about a planned terrorist strike in their countries; the Egyptians  might have learned that high-ranking members of the Muslim Brotherhood were hiding in the area. There are any number of possible reasons, and every single one of the actors named would of course deny doing it.

But I’m really curious to know who did. And why.

via Legal Insurrection


Iraq: Is Obama holding American citizens “hostage” to force Democrat support?

August 12, 2014
Liar.

Barack Machiavelli?

That’s the startling, even shocking implication of an article in today’s Free Beacon: that the President of the United States is refusing to evacuate American civilian personnel from Iraq, in spite of the crisis caused by the advance of ISIS, because he needs the threat to them to convince his left-wing base to go along with the air strikes underway:

The administration’s decision to bypass Congress before taking military action is reminiscent of its behavior in Libya, where air strikes also were authorized without congressional approval.

“They didn’t provide any firm answers or decisions,” said one senior Senate source apprised of the briefing. “The administration is saying that they’re going to authorize air strikes if ISIS gets close to U.S. personal or stationed personal, which in [our] mind, if there is a threat in the region you get your people out unless they’re military.”

This rationale from the White House is leading some to speculate that U.S. personnel in the region are being left in harms way “as collateral” because the Obama administration “can’t get his party and donor base to support further action in Iraq,” according to the source.

“That’s where a lot of the confusion is coming from” on Capitol Hill, the source added. “When there’s an imminent threat you get your civilian employees out of the region.”

As Noah Rothman at Hot Air points out, the administration is in a difficult spot with its legal justifications for action in Iraq: they’ve argued since the American withdrawal from Iraq that the Bush-era AUMF is outdated and should be repealed, so it’s very difficult to use that as a justification for new action. Instead, they’re using “danger to Americans” as the casus belli:

The White House appears to be claiming simply that the president has the constitutional authority to protect and defend American citizens, and he is legally empowered to execute strikes on ISIS targets if they present an immediate threat to U.S. interests or personnel. American military officials are, however, apparently prepared to interpret that which constitutes an “immediate threat” in a loose fashion.

And that, in turn has lead some to wonder if those personnel are being used as –and there’s no better word for it– hostages. I can almost see the pitch: “Look, we both agree that the Iraq War was stupid and wrong, but we can’t do nothing. You don’t want us to abandon Americans in danger, do you? The Republicans would have a field day with that. Remember how they reacted after Benghazi?”

It’s something so ruthless, so coldblooded, that I don’t want to believe it could be true of any American administration. Bear in mind also that the Free Beacon’s source is anonymous. And yet, on the other hand, the administration has taken such a hit over its failures in foreign policy, especially in the Mideast in the last two years, that some top adviser (Axelrod? Jarrett?) may have convinced the president he can do this to make sure he isn’t seen as the one who “lost Iraq” (newsflash: too late), that he can use the presence of Americans as leverage against a rebellion by his base without too much risk. If there’s one place this generally incompetent administration has shown any competence at all, its in “base politics.”

And, if true, this would be pretty base.


Latest Ukrainian Intelligence News

August 7, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

If this is true, then… WOW. According to Ukrainian intelligence, not only did Russia try to frame Ukraine by shooting down one of their own airliners, but it then drew up a list of rebels marked for assassination, presumably to cover Moscow’s tracks in the mistaken downing of the Malaysian flight. Granted there’s a possibility this is a frame up, but it’s not as if the Russians haven’t been known to be utterly brutal in the past, either. Like I said, WOW.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

As war rages in eastern Ukraine, with a possible Russian invasion looming, Kyiv has gone public today with shocking stories about the extent of Russian espionage and lethal covert action in their country.

As reported by 5 Kanal TVValentyn Nalyvaychenko, head of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), today stated that the 17 July shootdown of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 near Donetsk by Russian-backed separatists represented a terrible case of a Kremlin provocation gone horribly wrong. According to Nalyvaychenko, the SBU has evidence that what happened was the outcome of a diabolical Moscow plot to create a pretext for war, meaning Russian invasion, by shooting down an Aeroflot airline (specifically AFL2074, see details here) and killing its (mostly Russian) passengers, then placing blame on Ukrainian forces.

However, the SBU boss explained, Kremlin-backed militants were supposed to shoot down the Russian plane at Pervomaysk to the west of Donetsk, but…

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If Putin Invades Ukraine …

August 6, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

It looks like Vlad the Terrible is putting all the pieces in place to invade Ukraine and continue his carving up of that state. Schindler argues that, while the Russians can beat the Ukrainians army-on-army, holding seized territory will be much more difficult.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

Today NATO stated that Russia has amassed about 20,000 battle-ready troops near the border of eastern Ukraine and stands ready to intervene in the war raging around Donetsk and Luhansk, where Russian-backed paramilitaries are losing ground to Kyiv’s forces. Ukraine has been making slow yet steady progress in its “anti-terrorist operation” (ATO) against Moscow’s proxies in eastern Ukraine and it’s now clear that, if the Kremlin does not directly intervene in the conflict — beyond the artillery support from across the border that the Russian military has been providing its paramilitaries for weeks — it’s likely that the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR) and the “Luhansk People’s Republic” (LNR) will soon unravel altogether. NATO has warned that Moscow may send troops across the border under the guise of a humanitarian or peacekeeping mission (observers have spotted Russian military vehicles near the border pre-painted with “peacekeeping” insignia), in a Putinesque version of…

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The New July Crisis

July 23, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

If I were the superstitious type, a European diplomatic/military crisis 100 years to the month after the July Crisis that lead World War I would have me worried. I’m not superstitious, but Russia’s indecent, aggressive, and barbaric policy toward Ukraine and the West still has me worried. Recommended reading.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

This summer is the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War, the “great seminal catastrophe” of the last century, in the memorable phrase of the diplomatist-scholar George Kennan. As a historian who has spent much of his life studying the events of 1914, I had long looked forward to this centenary, and the necessary reexamination of the July Crisis of that fateful summer that the anniversary would bring. I did not expect it to include a second July Crisis.

Exactly one hundred years ago today, Vienna presented its fateful ultimatum to Belgrade, demanding that Serbia clarify its role in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo some three weeks before. Vienna expected their demands would be rebuffed, getting Austro-Hungarian generals the war against “Dog Serbia” that they had long craved, and so they did. That did not work out quite as planned, but then again…

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Donetsk Rebels and Russian Intelligence

July 19, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Something to keep in mind: the key leaders of the so-called “Donetsk rebels,” who shot down that Malaysian airliner, are all Russian intelligence operatives. This massacre may well have been an accident, but the fingerprints all over it are Moscow’s.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

As the world tries to answer the question of who exactly fired the missile that shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, killing 298 innocent people, Moscow is doing its best to lie, obfuscate, shift blame, and evade responsibility. The Kremlin’s best-case scenario now is that local rebels in Ukraine’s Donetsk region who are under the operational control of Russian military intelligence (GRU), took it upon themselves to shoot down a passenger aircraft, using a Russian-supplied Buk (SA-11) anti-aircraft system, having mistaken it for an unarmed Ukrainian An-26 transport plane. The reality may be worse, and it will take time to establish the facts, particularly with Kremlin proxies obstructing the investigation, destroying evidence, hiding bodies, and acting as if the world is not watching this closely. The extent of Russian push-back suggests that Moscow has a great deal to hide.

Nevertheless, even if the shootdown was entirely the work of Donetsk…

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Moral clarity in Gaza: Israel vs. Hamas

July 18, 2014

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(Source: Israel MFA)

Leave it to Charles Krauthammer to clear away the nonsense and lay bare the key difference between democratic Israel and the Hamas dictatorship in Gaza:

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.

Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza.

And what happened after the Israelis left Gaza? Did the residents take the numerous greenhouses the Israelis left behind to grow food for their own people? Did they build roads and schools and a reasonable social safety net? Did they attract foreign investment to provide their people with productive jobs and a better life?

Oh, heavens no. That would be to imitate the Jews next door, and we can’t have that!

No, Hamas and their supporters destroyed the greenhouses and used all the aid and money the world (including Israel) gave them to instead dig tunnels, tunnels in which they hid weapons (and their leaders, for those times when Israel has had enough). They spent those millions buying rockets to fire at Israeli civilians (and at a nuclear reactor!), out of a religious need to fight and kill Jews.

Not “Zionists.” Jews. Because Allah tells them to.

And Hamas turns their own civilians into human shields not just to protect their precious missiles, but in the hope of getting some of their own civilians killed, because they want gory photos to wave before the world while shouting “See what those awful Jews did to us!” As for Gazans who get killed, well, it was Allah’s will and Allah will welcome them as martyrs. Whether they wanted to be one, or not.

That is the so-bright-it’s-almost-blinding difference the jihad-terror group Hamas, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the State of Israel, and any attempt to draw any equivalence between them is obscene.

Be sure to read the whole thing.

PS: Israel has launched a ground offensive into Gaza, and I hope they go all the way and destroy Hamas. I think this time they could do it, because Egypt, under President al-Sisi, who loathes the Muslim Brotherhood (along with many Egyptians), will do nothing to protect its Gazan branch.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Gaza air raids a message from Israel to Iran

July 10, 2014
x

Memo to the mullahs

Photo credit: PressTV

For the last three days, Israel has been launching air raids against Hamas targets in Gaza in retaliation for the murder of three Israeli teens (one an American citizen) and the hundreds of rockets fired at Israelis towns and cities — and at a nuclear plant. (1)

But Hamas isn’t the sole target of these attacks. Writing at National Review, analyst Tom Rogan points out that Iran and its increasingly likely acquisition of nuclear weapons, and the destabilizing consequences of that for the region, are very much on Jerusalem’s mind, even as they battle Hamas. And so the heavy air assaults on Gaza are also a message to Tehran:

Meeting Hamas and [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] rocket teams with decisive force, Netanyahu hopes to signal Israel’s unwillingness to cede its traditional security supremacy. This intent is encapsulated in Israel’s mobilization of ground-force deployments: Netanyahu seems determined to take major risks in pursuit of grand strategic objectives (in this case, the military dismemberment of Hamas). Nevertheless, Israeli operations in Gaza aren’t solely about damaging Hamas. They’re also about broadcasting specific capabilities. In this regard, the scale of Israel Defense Forces air sorties in Gaza has been notable. Advertising its conducting of hundreds of missions each night, the IDF is demonstrating its capability for large-scale operations: the kind of air campaign necessary to attack Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Here, Netanyahu wants Iran to understand his willingness to gamble — even at potentially high cost. By extension, Netanyahu is also warning U.S., European, and Russian diplomats that he won’t accept any deal with Iran that he regards as weak.

Emphasis added.

It would be much better for the region and the world if this message were sent in conjunction with American and European efforts to encourage and support the opposition to the mullahcracy, a brittle, vulnerable regime that fears its own people. What worked against the Soviet empire –a clear willingness to defend oneself coupled with measures to support dissidents– would surely work here.

But, as our foreign policy under Obama is a feckless wreck that sees a diminution of American power as something desirable, while administration officials simultaneously urge restraint on Israel and praise allies of Hamas, Prime Minister Netanyahu is left on his own to make sure Ayatollah Khamenei gets the message loud and clear:

“Don’t push us.”

PS: Yes, a Palestinian teen was murdered, probably in retaliation for the killing of the three Jewish teens. But note the difference: the evening of the day the boy’s body was found, Netanyahu was publicly denouncing the killing and calling for a swift investigation. Six Jewish Israelis have been arrested as suspects, and the nation is horrified. What was the reaction in Hamas-controlled Gaza to the kidnapping of the three Jewish teens? People handed out candy in celebration. You tell me who the real savages are.

Footnote:
(1) Unbelievably idiotic. Last I checked, radioactive fallout didn’t discriminate between Muslim and Jew.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Bookshelf update — Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War

July 3, 2014

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Thomas Allen’s “Tories: Fighting for the King in America’s First Civil War.”

 

book cover Tories

 

 

I’m only a few chapters into it, so far, but “Tories” is an entertaining and thought-provoking history of what happened to the losers in the American Revolution: those Colonials who remained loyal to King George III and Parliament. It’s a salutary reminder that this was also a civil war, one that tore apart friends, families, and whole societies. Just as Patriots saw themselves as fighting for American freedom, the Loyalists believed they had justice on their side as they lost all defending the Rule of Law and rights of property, things we still value. I dislike moral relativism, but this may be one case in which it’s good to remember that both sides had their heroes and both their villains. Anyway, “Tories” is available in both Kindle (1) and paperback formats.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. But I still think it’s a good book.

Footnote:
(1) Sadly I’ve found about one error per page in the Kindle version, in which two words will be smashed together with no space between. These are all too common in Kindle e-books.


28 June 1914: Uncovering the Sarajevo Assassination

June 30, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’d let the centenary of the assassination in Sarajevo of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the incident that sparked World War I, pass without mention this weekend. Inexcusable of me, but, in penance, here’s a link to a very interesting post by John Schindler on some of the mysteries still surrounding that event.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

One hundred years ago, the most consequential assassination in modern times occurred. It was the most famous too, since the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo set off a chain of events that led, a month later, to the start of the Great War, a catastrophe that took ten million lives and pretty much destroyed European civilization. The effects of that live on today, in many places: in Iraq, jihadists right now are tearing up the borders of their country that were drawn up by the victors of the Great War, from the corpse of the Ottoman Empire, which suffered its final defeat in 1918.

Despite its infamy, the Sarajevo assassination remains shrouded in some mystery, and that’s what I seek to cut through today. But first, the personal tragedy. It is easy to forget that, behind all the conspiracy and resulting diplomacy and war-making…

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#Benghazi massacre an Iranian operation?

June 23, 2014
Qassem Suleymani

Qassem Suleymani

That’s the assertion of journalist Kenneth Timmerman in a forthcoming book, “Dark Forces.” In a summary article in the New York Post, Timmerman discusses Qassem Suleymani, the head of Quds Force, Iran’s external special operations forces that have conducted operations against us in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped establish Hizbullah, and carried out terrorist strikes around the world. He then talks about Iran’s concern over our presence in Benghazi, where we were monitoring jihadist groups (and, according to rumor, shipping guns to the Syrian rebels, who were fighting Iran’s client, President Assad), groups that Iran, per Timmerman’s sources, had a hand in creating and supporting. The Iranians were so concerned, in fact, that Suleymani set up an operation in which a Quds Force hit team, disguised as Red Crescent workers, were to kidnap Ambassador Stevens and destroy the CIA annex in Benghazi. The idea was to hit us hard to prove to Washington that there was no safe place for American personnel in the Middle East.

Trouble was, from the Iranian point of view, we were intercepting their communications, knew when the hit team arrived, and had them followed by Libyan militia members in our pay. That’s when things got weird:

Then at 1 in the morning, it happened.

All of a sudden, the deputy chief jumped up from where he had been dozing off. His guys were going nuts.

The ruckus got the chief’s attention. “What’s going on? What are they saying?” he asked.

The deputy translated the excited shrieks from the trackers. It seemed the Red Crescent team had been headed back to the Tibesti Hotel when they were ambushed by a half dozen Toyota pickups with .50-caliber machine guns mounted on the beds.

The militia guys forced the Iranians to get out, cuffed them, then bundled them into a pair of Jeep Cherokees and sped off.

Our guys decided it was more prudent not to follow them, he said.

So they’re gone, the chief said. That’s it. Kidnapped.

Based on information that came in later, the station chief and his deputy assumed the Iranians had been kidnapped in some Sunni-Shia dispute and were being held until they could be shipped back to Tehran.

But, what they didn’t know, per Timmerman’s sources, is that the Iranians were intercepting the CIA annex’s communications and knew we were on to them, so they staged the kidnapping of their team as a bluff, to make us think their operation was thwarted by sectarian rivalries. And it worked; the CIA station chief and his deputy bought it. In other words, we knew what the Iranians were up to, they knew we knew, but we didn’t know that they knew we knew. And that allowed them to play us for suckers, get us off our guard, and for their proxies in Ansar al Sharia (again, per Timmerman) to carry out the attacks on September, 2012. Which, by the way, the Iranians had changed to a straight “kill the ambassador” operation, since we had blown the cover of their original kidnapping squad.

Is it true? The trouble with Timmerman’s account is that it relies on anonymous sources. That’s not surprising in intelligence work, but it makes it impossible for the average person to verify.

On the other hand, I do find it at least plausible. The Iranians have considered themselves at war with us since 1979, a war we’ve only fitfully recognized. They were responsible for the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, and there’s widespread opinion that they were somehow involved in the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996 (1). Iran has killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, via the IEDs they supplied their proxies in both places. That a commander as daring and dedicated to his cause as Qassem Suleymani appears to be might order a hit on his enemy’s embassy is not outside the bounds of reason, however.

I suppose, until and if the Iranian government falls and their records become available, this will remain one of the mysteries of the shadow war between the US and Iran.

Footnote:
(1) This was later also attributed to al Qaeda, but there’s nothing that says Iran and bin Laden couldn’t have been working together.

(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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D-day: storming the castle

June 6, 2014

(Note: This is a re-posting and slight editing of a post I put up every D-Day.)

Seventy years ago today, American, British, Canadian, French, and Polish soldiers charged the gates of Hell — and won:

Black Five put up an excellent roundup of D-Day posts from many blogs a few years ago. It’s still worth reviewing. And have a look at this entry for a photo essay on D-Day.

Historian Victor Davis Hanson reflects on D-Day at 70:

Seventy years ago this June 6, the Americans, British, and Canadians stormed the beaches of Normandy in the largest amphibious invasion of Europe since the Persian king Xerxes invaded Greece in 480 b.c.

About 160,000 troops landed on five Normandy beaches and linked up with airborne troops in a masterly display of planning and courage. Within a month, almost a million Allied troops had landed in France and were heading eastward toward the German border. Within eleven months the war with Germany was over.

(…)

D-Day ushered in the end of the Third Reich. It was the most brilliantly conducted invasion in military history, and probably no one but a unique generation of British, Canadians, and Americans could have pulled it off.

Read the rest. While giving the Russians their due, he puts their contribution in perspective.

RELATED: The Daily Mail tells the story of one Medal of Honor winner who still wonders how he survived Normandy.

UPDATE: In today’s newsletter, Real Clear Politics quotes the prayer FDR read when announcing the invasion to the nation:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity,” the president said while the outcome of the battle was still in doubt.

“They will need Thy blessings,” FDR continued. “Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph…”

Imagine a president saying something like that nowadays; the Left would have a fit.

But, forget them. Today’s a day to remember genuine heroes and thank Divine Providence we had such men on our side.

UPDATE 06/06/2013: This is a real president commemorating D-Day:

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The Snowden Operation Falls Apart

June 5, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

20 Committee asks a damned fine question: If Snowden really is a “whistleblower,” why doesn’t he produce the letters of complaint to superiors he surely has? If he’s telling the truth, that is.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

Edward Snowden had his Big Interview on NBC this week, and it was something of a pace-setter for poor TV journalism, since Brian Williams (who was previously denounced by Glenn Greenwald for being a servile boot-licker of the surveillance state), decided to soft-ball the questions and not follow up many weird, disingenuous statements by Ed. His almost-year in Russia under FSB care has not promoted clear thinking, while Ed’s body language indicated serious deception to the trained eye. NSA’s IT contractor on permanent vacation in Russia gave his usual platitudes about how he’s really a patriot and “had” to steal all those classified IC and DoD documents. He’s almost thirty-one years old but apparently he had no agency in any of this. We’ve heard it all before.

But The Narrative has begun to fall apart in a manner not even the MSM can avoid noticing (though the failure…

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#Bergdahl deal: Meet Mohammad Fazl

June 5, 2014
"Butcher"

“Butcher”

Among the potential consequences of President Obama’s mind-boggling deal with the Taliban that lead to the release of five high-ranking Taliban, one shouldn’t forget the Afghan people themselves, who suffered mightily under these savages. They now have a very good reason to be afraid, again.

Meet Mohammed Fazl:

Taliban forces led by Mohammed Fazl swept through this village on the Shomali plain north of Kabul in 1999 in a scorched-earth offensive that prompted some 300,000 people to flee for their lives.

Fifteen years later, local residents here are responding with fear and dismay to the U.S. release of the notorious commander, along with four other Taliban leaders in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only American prisoner of war who was held by the Taliban. The group released a video on Wednesday showing the hurried handover a few days earlier of the American captive, looking gaunt and dazed.

The villages of Shomali were once the orchard of central Afghanistan, and the plain’s carefully tended vineyards were famous for their grapes.

When the Taliban seized control of this area from their Northern Alliance rivals in 1999, they systematically demolished entire villages, blowing up houses, burning fields and seeding the land with mines, according to two comprehensive studies of war crimes and atrocities during wars in Afghanistan and human rights reports. Mr. Fazl played a major role in the destruction.

“There was not a single undamaged house or garden,” said Masjidi Fatehzada, a shopkeeper in Mir Bacha Kot, the district center. “My entire shop was burned to the ground. There was nothing left.”

(…)

Standing by the grave of his son, Mr. Ahmad’s eyes welled with tears when he learned about Mr. Fazl’s release from a reporter. “If he is released, he will burn our houses again because he doesn’t shake hands with the government,” Mr. Ahmad said.

And Barack Obama let this modern-day Genghis Khan walk free (1) in return for what? A man who abandoned his post, is probably a deserter, and possibly collaborated with the enemy? Okay, that makes the coming mountains of skulls worthwhile, doesn’t it?

This monster was given his parole, just so Barack Obama could keep his promise to close Guantanamo Bay before he leaves office. A mass murderer is let go, because, somehow (maybe with the application of some pixie dust), this exchange might encourage “moderate Taliban” to make a deal. By releasing Fazl and his “colleagues,” Obama replenishes the Taliban while they’re still conducting offensive operations against us and our allies, because this is “how wars end.”

He’s right. That’s how wars end.

It’s called “surrender.”

Meanwhile, my advice to the people of the Shomali plain is this: You have 12 months. Start running.

PS: Lest anyone forget, negotiating with the Taliban is also negotiating with Al Qaeda, for they are very, very close. To replenish the Taliban is to replenish Al Qaeda, the barbarians we’re (supposedly) at war with.

Footnote:
(1) Oh, wait. He’s “in custody” in Qatar, where he’s allowed to cool his heels and live the good life for a year before he can to return to Afghanistan and resume the slaughter. Well, that’s different.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Brutal: NY Daily News on #Bergdahl deal — “Surrender without honor”

June 4, 2014

NYDN cover

Mind you, this is from one of the liberal newspapers in New York City:

President Obama betrayed the highest obligation of his office — safeguarding national security — in trading five hard-core Taliban for the American serviceman who appears to have deserted in Afghanistan.

The five sworn enemies of the United States are now in the Gulf state of Qatar, where they are free to come and go as they like, beyond the watch of American agents. In just one year, they will be free to return to Afghanistan to fight there and stage terror attacks far beyond that country’s borders.

These facts were known to Obama when he made the deal, and yet he went ahead in irresponsible disregard for lives he has endangered. As the facts have emerged — and more surely will — it has become ever clearer that he lost his presidential compass in the Taliban swap.

In retrospect, his Rose Garden announcement that he was bringing home an American POW appears to have been a cynical act of theater.

In other words, a dog and pony show to distract from the VA fiasco. I can believe that.

Then, after dismissing Obama’s assurances about “keeping on eye” on these barbarians while they’re in Qatar, the NYDN delivers the killing blow:

Finally, Obama provided insight into the actual reason for the deal by placing it in the context of his drive to pull out of Afghanistan.

“This is what happens at the end of wars,” Obama said. “That was true for George Washington; that was true for Abraham Lincoln; that was true for FDR; that’s been true of every combat situation — that at some point, you make sure that you try to get your folks back.”

In other words, he wants out so badly that he accepted the Taliban’s terms, regardless of the threat to American security.

He is surrendering without honor.

Remember, this is from a major regional paper that’s generally on The One’s side. Can’t dismiss this one as “Faux News.”

What’s going on here, I think, is that even center-left outlets (1) are having trouble coloring this as anything other than a major “dereliction of duty” on the part of the president. They find themselves nodding in agreement with former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy at center-right PJM:

Is that the end of the matter? Not by a long shot. As I’ve also contended, the president’s failure to comply with a dubious statute is a mere footnote to his truly egregious offense: replenishing enemy forces at a time when the enemy is still conducting offensive terrorist operations against our armed forces. It would be difficult to fathom a more outrageous dereliction of duty by the commander-in-chief.

Moreover, if you want to fret over statutory violations, I would spend less time on the 30-day notice law and more on the federal criminal law that makes material support to terrorists a serious felony. The president has knowingly provided personnel—key, experienced, highly effective jihadists—to terrorist organizations that are still very much at war with the United States. That is material support to terrorism.

What Obama did was the equivalent of Eisenhower capturing senior North Korean and Chinese generals and then returning them while the fighting in Korea was still going on. If Ike were an idiot, that is, which he wasn’t.

In New York City, a metropolis that’s been the victim of catastrophic terrorism, even a paper as reliably liberal as the Daily News can’t help but scream “What in God’s name do you think you’re doing??”

If Team Unicorn expected any kudos for this “deal,” they must be gravely disappointed.

via Bryan Preston

PS: Jim Geraghty, from whom I took the graphic, has an interesting article on impressions confirmed and disproved by the Bergdahl deal. Also via Jim, is Obama so sick of being president that he’s dropping hints he may resign if the Republicans win the Senate in November? Check this out:

Obama tells anxious Democrats that there is only so much he can do beyond fundraising and better implementing the health-care law. But he also has told allies that losing the Senate to Republicans would make his last two years in office unbearable . . .

“I don’t really care to be president without the Senate,” Obama said, according to attendees, signaling that he knew the health care debacle created resentment among Democrats and that he wanted to make amends.

As Allahpundit likes to say, “Hmmm….”

Footnote:
(1) Other than MSNBC, which will be the network of Obama lickspittles until the End of Days.

UPDATE: At The Federalist, Robert Tracinski asks a darned fine question — “Why Are We Releasing Terrorists Who Kill Girls Because They Go To School?”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Frances refuses to fly US WWII vets to Normandy for D-Day anniversary

May 18, 2014
"Dear France, you're welcome."

“Dear France, you’re welcome.”

It’s the 70th anniversary, and the men who carried out the landings are in their 80s and 90s, now. You would think, given France’s miserable performance during the war, they could show a little respect and gratitude to those who risked their lives to kick the Nazis out of their country (1). But, no. They’re French, after all.

Ingrates:

Seven decades after ­Allied troops stormed Normandy’s beaches and saved France from the Nazis, the surrender-happy nation is turning its back on hundreds of US veterans who want to return next month to mark the invasion’s 70th anniversary.

France has broken its promise to pay for the vets to fly to this year’s commemoration, according to Rep. Michael Grimm.
“Our chief-of-staff heard it from the French Embassy in DC — that they would be flown out to France [for free],” said Nick Iacono, a spokesman for the Staten Island congressman.

But when The Post contacted the embassy Friday, the French turned up their noses as if smelling rotten Camembert.

“The French government never offered to pay for the plane tickets of the veterans traveling to France for the 70th commemoration of D-Day,” said Dana Purcarescu, a spokeswoman for the French ­Embassy in Washington.

Let’s hope this is the result of some sort of miscommunication, and not the slap in the face it appears to be.

But, I doubt it. This is France we’re talking about. They’ve made condescension and insult into an art form.

Footnote:
(1) And, for the record, I think the French government owes the same respect  and honor to the surviving members of the British, Canadian, and Polish armies that also risked everything on D-Day.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Okay, now Putin is just trolling us. Update: Ukraine sailors to Putin – “You lie!”

March 4, 2014

In an interview with reporters, Tsar President Vladimir Putin said those aren’t Russian troops taking control of Crimea from the Ukraine.

No, really.

Russian soldiers have not occupied government buildings and surrounded Ukrainian military bases on the Crimean Peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted Tuesday during a news conference near Moscow at which he gave an account of recent events that contradicts reports from the ground.

Instead, he told reporters that the heavily armed men are “local self-defense forces.”

What’s more, anything Russia has done, Putin said without offering specifics, has been part of a “humanitarian mission” to protect ethnic Russians in Crimea.

Right. Because local self-defense forces always have self-propelled artillery  (1) available:

Crimea Russia Ukraine mobile artillery

Yeah, that looks like any humanitarian mission I’ve ever seen. How about you?

Meanwhile, I’m sure those are only local self-defense forces demanding the surrender of Ukrainian ships in Crimea — or else. And the treacherous former commanding officer of the Ukrainian Navy defected only to local self-defense forces. But it’s not really a defection because, hey, all those guys in Russian uniforms are Ukrainians, too! (More trolling: they only bought those uniforms at their local surplus store.)

I swear Putin must laugh his head off every time he shuts the door.

via Bryan Preston

Footnote:
(1) Come on, CNN. If you want to retain even a shred of credibility, have someone on hand who can actually identify military equipment.

UPDATE: via The XX Committee, a statement by sailors of the Ukrainian Navy in response to Putin’s assertion that there are no Russian troops in their country. Here’s an excerpt:

The Ukrainian Navy warships Ternopil and Slavutych, which are moored in Sevastopol Bay, are currently blocked by warships and vessels of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and they are all carrying detachments of marines numbering up to a platoon. They are armed with automatic weapons and equipped accordingly.

Bearing in mind the remarks of Mr. Putin that such gear and equipment can be bought in any shop, we would like to seize the moment and ask which shop – as well as where one can purchase automatic weapons, pistols and grenade launchers in violation of Ukrainian legislation? We also would like to recall that no unit of the Ukrainian Armed Forces deployed in Crimea gave up even a single inch of the territory of their military bases or the weapons entrusted to them, let alone in such quantity, as all units remained faithful to the call of duty and their oath to the Ukrainian nation.

In response to all these insinuations, and the flows of mendacious information disseminated by dirty politicos and corrupt journalists, we – officers, warrant officers and sailors of the Ukrainian Navy – openly declare that we will honestly carry out our soldier’s duty till the end, we will defend our country and the Ukrainian people as we have been doing through all the years of independence, not for the sake of posts or salaries, but because this is our land and we cherish the lives of every person who lives on this land regardless of nationality.

Godspeed to them.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Lessons of World War I. @BarackObama, take note

February 23, 2014

World War I montage

There’s an excellent (1) article by Victor Davis Hanson (2) on the lessons to be drawn from World War I, or, as I sometimes call it, the 19th century’s collective act of mass suicide (3). As this is the centennial year of the war’s start, we’re naturally seeing and will see all sort of books, articles, and programs about how it happened, whose fault it was, and what we can learn from it.

Hanson’s article deals with the last. After reviewing the standard analyses regarding secret treaties, rigid mobilization plans, and a too-harsh peace, all of which have their flaws, he keys on one that has bearing for our increasingly dangerous world, today — misjudgment:

One of the lessons of the outbreak of World War I is the importance of perceptions. At some point in 1914 the German military and diplomatic community concluded that the country not only could pull off a successful lightning strike against France, but could do so without starting a world war — given various events over the prior decades.

Such flawed thinking is a good reminder that appearances often matter as much as reality in provoking wars. Hitler certainly was suicidal in attacking his de facto partner, the Soviet Union, in June 1941. But for all his crazy ranting about his grievances, Untermenschen, and grand strategy, it was the false perception that the Soviet Union would quickly collapse — given its recent dismal performance in Poland and Finland, and the prior purging of its officer corps, contrasted with the recently successful Blitzkrieg in Poland and Western Europe — that persuaded Hitler to try something so fatally dangerous.

And yet, at the end of both wars, Germany was defeated –crushed, in the latter case– by the nations her leaders has mistakenly deemed weak. War had assumed its role as the final arbiter of the realities of power, at the price of wholesale destruction and millions dead.

For which Hanson sees a rough parallel and lesson for today:

China, like the Westernized Japan of the 1930s, wants influence and power commensurate with its economic clout, and perhaps believes its growing military can obtain both at the expense of its democratic neighbors without starting a wider war. North Korea is not convinced that demanding concessions from South Korea — or simply humiliating it and the U.S. — by threats of war would not work. Iran trusts that the age of the U.S. mare nostrum in the Mediterranean is over, that the Sunni Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms are spent, that once-unquestioned Western guarantees to Israel are now negotiable, that nuclear acquisition is an agreed wink-and-nod obtainable enterprise, and that terrorist appendages can achieve political objectives in the Middle East just as effectively as carrier groups.

Putin dreams that the Russian imperial world of the 1950s can live again, through coercion, Machiavellian diplomacy, and the combined lethargy of the EU and the U.S. — and he often is willing to take some risks to refashion current realities. Failed socialist and Communist states in Latin America nonetheless believe that a distracted or uninterested U.S. no longer cares to make the argument that transparent democratic capitalism is the region’s only hope for the future. The miseries of Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are apparently no reason for them to feel that they should not extend them to other countries.

And then ties it to our current leadership:

Amid all that, a minor bow and apology here, or an inadvertent pink line and empty deadline there, matters. Gratuitous talk of “reset” and “lead from behind,” coupled with serial scapegoating of past U.S. policies and presidents, massive new debt and vast cuts in defense, also sends a message to our rivals and enemies that occasional gambles and aggressive moves that would usually be seen as stupid and suicidal may not be any more.

World War I became “World War I” when Germany believed that Britain would not fight to support France or honor an ancient treaty with little Belgium. They were wrong, but part of the reason they were wrong was due to the diffident mixed signals being sent by London. The world now has to hope that the diffidence emanating from Washington doesn’t lead to similar misjudgments in Moscow, Beijing, or Tehran.

Footnote:
(1) Kind of a needless adjective, when talking about anything written by VDH.
(2) Why isn’t this man in the Senate, instead of the blithering idiot Boxer? I demand satisfaction!
(3) Update: I should have made this clear, I guess, but, no, I do not believe the First World War was fought in the 19th century. As I explained to a commenter, WWI and the “suicide of the 19th century” refers to the civilization of the “long 19th century,” a term some historians use for political, diplomatic, and cultural themes that were dominant from roughly 1789 to 1914. The chronological 19th century ended at midnight, December 31st, 1900. The world of the 19th century came to an end in August, 1914.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Seventy-two years ago today

December 8, 2013
"FDR asks for a declaration of war"

“FDR asks for a declaration of war”

On the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt delivered this speech to a joint session of Congress:

Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives:

Yesterday, December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.

Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And, while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.

It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.

The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.

Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.

Japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.

As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.

I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.

You can listen to FDR giving the speech here. (Real media file.)

Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the US. Four years later, Mussolini had been executed by his own people, Hitler had committed suicide, and Germany, Italy, and Japan were under occupation.

Today’s lesson: It’s not a good idea to make us angry.

(Reposting of an old post, somewhat edited.)

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