The Iraq War: Not Illegal, Not Immoral, and Not Over

August 27, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’ve said many times since 2003: I was a supporter of the liberation of Iraq, I remain so, and I still think it was justified given the strategic situation of those days, regardless of the mistakes under Bush during the occupation and reconstruction, or under Obama. I think you’ll find this post of interest.

Originally posted on James Snell:

Today sees the publication of an entirely excellent article in The Times by Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral Theology at the University of Oxford. In it, the good professor takes apart a number of myths which have been allowed to coagulate about the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the toppling of Saddam Hussein, one of the most evil men in recent history whose autocratic (and kleptocratic) rule led to the foundation not just of ISIS – as if it was not enough – but the creation of much of Iraq’s current sectarian turmoil.

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100 Years Ago: The First Allied Victory of World War I

August 19, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

Nice post by Mr. Schindler about a forgotten 101-year old battle in World War I. My recent reading has me convinced that the Austro-Hungarian high command was headed by lobotomy survivors.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

[This is the beginning of a new blog series, 100 Years Ago, I’ll be posting to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.]

Exactly a century ago today, on 19 August 1914, Austria-Hungary suffered a shocking battlefield defeat at the hands of Serbia, delivering the Allies their first victory of the Great War. This unexpected defeat occurred in the mountains of northwest Serbia, with Austro-Hungarians forces sent back into Bosnia in a ragtag state after suffering a sharp local setback that quickly unraveled the entire Habsburg invasion of Serbia.

Vienna invaded “Dog Serbia” in mid-August to avenge the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Belgrade-backed assassins in Sarajevo on 28 June. Although Austro-Hungarian intelligence did not have a complete picture of the background to the assassination — there remain unanswered questions even today — they knew enough that it was time to settle accounts with troublesome little Serbia…

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(Video) Was slavery the cause of the Civil War?

August 10, 2015

civil war blue grey

That’s always an intriguing question for those interested in the US Civil War and US History in general: why did such a promising young nation tear itself apart in a conflict that cost perhaps more than 800,000 lives? (1) Aside from slavery, proffered explanations include economic and other regional differences between North and South; discriminatory tariffs (from the Southern point of view) and unfair internal improvements; and federal violations of the Constitution against “states’ rights.”

But, to this armchair historian, these and other reasons never felt sufficient to justify the turmoil of the late 1850s and the carnage of 1861-1865. For me, at least, it always comes back to slavery, that “peculiar institution” about which northerners and southerners held increasingly mutually exclusive opinions.

In the video below from Prager University, Colonel Ty Seidule, head of the Department of History at West Point, makes the argument that the war was about slavery, period:

And I agree with him. Col. Seidule refers a couple of times to the secession declarations of the southern states, asserting that each one (2) wrapped its arguments around the core of preserving slavery. And historian William C. Davis in his history of the Confederacy, “Look Away,” marshals strong evidence that the Confederate constitutional convention, held at Montgomery, Alabama, focused on the need to preserve and expand slavery. Finally, there’s this from the famous “Cornerstone Speech” of CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens:

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

Seems pretty clear, no?

Davis and many, many others saw slavery as an existential sine qua non for the new nation. If the United States was conceived in liberty and was unimaginable without it, the Confederate States and Southern society were founded on the bedrock of human bondage — and were equally inconceivable without it. With their very reason for existence threatened, secession and civil war became almost inevitable. Without slavery, there would likely have been no Republican Party committed to abolition, nor any reason to secede on the election of Lincoln.

Anyway, this isn’t meant to bash modern Southerners, and I recognize the sore spot created by the anti-Southern bigotry that grew rife after the massacre in Charleston and the nonsense over the CSA flag. It annoyed me, too.

But I think honesty and a sober assessment of the historical evidence requires a recognition of the truth.

Slavery was at the root of the Civil War.

PS: Sorry there were no posts the last few days. It turned into a busy, busy Friday and weekend.

Footnotes:
(1) Consensus estimates of total casualties hover around 600,000, but recent research indicates the toll of dead and wounded may well have been much higher.
(2) Unless I misheard him, the Colonel is wrong in this assertion. Several of the secession declarations make no mention of slavery — Florida’s, for example. But many do at length, and I think this shows the importance of slavery to the new nation overall.


Can we kill them, now? ISIS burns mothers and children alive.

July 10, 2015
Seal of the new Caliphate

Destroy them

There’s an old joke that the first rule of Texas Common Law is “He needed killing.”

Meet some people who desperately need it:

ISIS have reportedly executed five mothers and their children after the women refused to allow their children to become child soldiers in the ranks of the jihadi group.

The victims are all believed to be from the Sunni Albu Nimr tribe, well known for their long time resistance in fighting against Al Qaeda and ISIS in the Iraqi province of Anbar.

The claim was described in graphic detail by tribal leader Sheikh Naim al-Kaoud, who said that the women and children were rounded up by ISIS gangs and set on fire in the streets.

According to the London based Saudi newspaper Sharq al-Awsat, the tribal leader told how the women had resisted the militants demands for them to release their children and join ISIS.

The barbaric punishment was carried out in the neighbourhood of  Al-Jamiya, inside the ISIS held city of Heet.

I’m a firm believer that, to justify a major US military intervention, there has to be an intersection to American strategic interests and moral values. We’re not French; we don’t do “raison d’Etat” very well. We have to feel good about what we’re doing, too.

ISIS is a case where our national and moral interests intersect. Not only has ISIS made it quite clear they want to attack us (and they will, bet on it) and not only do they threaten to throw the Near East, a region vital to our interests, deeper into chaos. No, they also:

  • They destroy priceless ancient relics (aside from those they sell on the black market), robbing civilization of its heritage.
  • They behead people
  • They burn them alive
  • They throw them off buildings for being gay and shoot them if they survive
  • They drown people in cages
  • They take non-Muslim women as sex slaves and sell them in slave markets

How is it not moral, how is it not right, how is it not just, how is it not obligatory on good people to send an expeditionary force to destroy these demons in human skin? We don’t have to do this alone, though we should if no one else will join us. With sufficient American leadership, an international force could be put together to crush these vermin.

Wait. Did I just say “American leadership?” Sorry, people suffering under ISIS. You’ll have to wait until sometime in 2017.

But ISIS still needs killing.

PS: For those wary of another massive military commitment to that godforsaken region (and understandably so), there is a middle course that might well work — special operations forces combined with heavy, but targeted airstrikes.


MI5: On the anniversary of London tube bombings, raise UK terror threat to “critical?”

July 6, 2015
x

“Never give in!”

That’s the news out of London today, as UK security chiefs warn the nation faces the greatest danger of attack in years:

The revelation comes just 24-hours before the nation stops to remember the dead from the 7/7 terrorist attack in 2005 in which 52 London commuters were killed.

Threats from the Islamic State to attack the West during Ramadan have prompted the re-think on national security. The top level meeting follows the terror bombing in Tunisiathat claimed the lives of 30 holidaying Britons.

The Daily Express reports a ‘well-placed security source’ revealed that security chiefs were homing in on three areas of particular concern; East London, the West Midlands and Greater Manchester. The source said:

“The authorities are literally monitoring thousands of people who are deemed a threat. They had their work cut out before the rise of the Islamic Sate but the threat of terrorism now is probably at it’s highest for eight years.

“The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre meets regularly and there have been serious discussions about whether to raise the nation’s threat level to ‘Critical’. “To make that leap is a very, very big step because what it is basically saying to the public is that we are about to be attacked.

“For that reason the data has to be watertight to make such a decision and for the time being there isn’t enough credible evidence to do so. However the discussions are ongoing and nothing has been discounted. We are facing a really serious threat from Islamic State.”

Tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of the London bombings, when four brave jihadis murderous suicide bombers killed 52 people. Al Qaeda and its offshoots, including ISIS/Islamic State, love to attack on anniversaries, as we experienced in Benghazi on 9/11/12. The anniversary of their cowardly attack on London must be a very tempting occasion.

The Brits have excellent, very serious-minded counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism services and personnel. If they say the threat is borderline critical, take them at their word. One wonders if they leaked this news to fend off the threat by sending a message to the terrorists that “we’re on to you lot,” perhaps goading them into a mistake, or if this is some sort of public alert, issued in the hope of someone reporting something they might otherwise have overlooked.

Regardless, we wish our friends in the UK “good hunting” and hope they nail these medieval psychos before any more innocents are hurt.

PS: While I meant every word of praise written above, one has to think “What the unholy [eff]??” at the news that an al Qaeda-aligned imam, who was an inspiration for the group behind the recent massacre of Britons in Tunisia, continues to live in a mansion in London on welfare. That’s not just wrong, that’s insane.


Assad to use (Saddam’s?) chemical weapons in desperation?

June 29, 2015
x

Yet another Baathist murderer

But… But… But wait! Obama said Syria didn’t have any chemical munitions anymore!

Well… About that.

U.S. intelligence agencies believe there is a strong possibility the Assad regime will use chemical weapons on a large scale as part of a last-ditch effort to protect key Syrian government strongholds if Islamist fighters and other rebels try to overrun them, U.S. officials said.

Analysts and policy makers have been poring over all available intelligence hoping to determine what types of chemical weapons the regime might be able to deploy and what event or events might trigger their use, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Last year, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad let international inspectors oversee the removal of what President Barack Obama called the regime’s most deadly chemical weapons. The deal averted U.S. airstrikes that would have come in retaliation for an Aug. 21, 2013, sarin-gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people.

Since then, the U.S. officials said, the Assad regime has developed and deployed a new type of chemical bomb filled with chlorine, which Mr. Assad could now decide to use on a larger scale in key areas. U.S. officials also suspect the regime may have squirreled away at least a small reserve of the chemical precursors needed to make nerve agents sarin or VX. Use of those chemicals would raise greater international concerns because they are more deadly than chlorine and were supposed to have been eliminated.

As a reminder, this is what the president said:

Assad gave up his chemical weapons. And that’s not speculation on our part. That, in fact, has been confirmed by the organization internationally that is charged with eliminating chemical weapons.

I guess no one told our fourth-greatest president ever “not quite.”

Regardless, the WSJ article mentioned Syria “developed” new weapons in the time since the inspections and removal. And  perhaps they did; with Iranian money and logistical help it wouldn’t be at all surprising. But, later in the article, there is this interesting snippet:

More worrying, U.S. officials said, would be the possibility that Mr. Assad could tap into a secret supply of sarin and VX. He might also be trying to reconstitute elements of his chemical-weapons program.

Hmmm… Where could this secret supply have come from? Sure, Assad could have squirreled it away to hide it from the original inspectors, but there’s another possibility: it’s stock that Saddam shipped to Syria before we took him out in 2003:

“There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands,” [former Iraq General George] Sada said. “I am confident they were taken over.”

(…)

Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.

“I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots,” Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.

The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including “yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel.” The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.

The flights – 56 in total, Mr. Sada said – attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.

“Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming,” Mr. Sada said. “They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians.”

There were rumors of this at the time of the invasion and for years afterward, never substantiated, but never wholly dismissed, either. One speculation had it that the WMDs were secreted in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley, an area control by Iran and Syria’s client, Hizbullah. Could Iran have authorized Hizbullah to give some of the old Iraqi stock to Assad? Strategically, they need to gain/keep control of Syria to funnel aid to Hizbullah, so that the latter can keep threatening Israel. So, if such weapons exist, and if Assad’s situation is as desperate as the Journal article makes it out to be, then it’s not beyond the pale to imagine.

Saddam’s great legacy is murder, after all.

via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt newsletter


Snowden is a Fraud

June 12, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

Dear Snowden fans, “We told ya so!.” The guy is no hero: far from it.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

In the two years since the Edward Snowden saga went public, a handful of people who actually understand the Western signals intelligence system have tried to explain the many ways that the Snowden Operation has smeared NSA and its partners with salacious charges of criminality and abuse. I’ve been one of the public faces of what may be called the Snowden Truth movement, and finally there are signs that reality may be intruding on this debate.

No American ally was rocked harder by Snowden’s allegations than Germany, which has endured a bout of hysteria over charges that NSA was listening in on senior German officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. Although these stories included a good deal of bunkum from the start, they caused a firestorm in Germany, particularly the alleged spying on Merkel, which was termed Handygate by the media.

In response, Germany tasked Federal prosecutors with looking into the…

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