Saturday, March 17, 2007
The current struggle with militant Islam has caused a great many Americans to learn as much as they can about the religion called Islam. A great many of Islam’s beliefs and practices are repugnant to Christians, Jews, Deists, Agnostics and every other religion in the US. Why? Besides details such as the vile treatment of women, there is the tenant that religion; life style and government are inseparable. Most Muslims believe that Sharia law (The Sharia extends beyond what Westerners consider law. It covers the totality of religious, political, social, including private life and makes no distinction between sin and law) should govern Muslim nations. To view an extreme application of this tenant one only has to look at the society under the rule of the Taliban. Muslims both moderate and radical want every nation to be Muslim; they just disagree on the means. Muslims in America are actively seeking to form a Nation of Islam governed by Sharia.
Most people can’t understand Muslims or believe anything will happen soon, so lets change the premise to abortion. Do you care now? You betcha. Abortion is the most divisive word in politics today. Close to being as divisive as slavery was, but not quite. Here are some other examples, euthanasia, illegal aliens, death penalty, gun control, political correctness, drugs, alcohol, smoking, animal rights, the environment, global warming, embryos and Christian symbols on government property.
What makes some issues rise to the level of implacability and finally a national crisis? First, it takes one side to consider the issue non negotiable. How does that come about? Dogmatic belief and the will to take action. What is dogma? It is an authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true. Second the other side must at least consider the action unjust and therefore must be resisted on principle. The harder one pushes, the harder the other pushes back. How does a strident issue become politicized? When the dogmatic side decides to abandon persuasion and solicits the federal government to make their belief law and therefore enforced by guns and punishable by jail time or death.
Can it get that bad? We fought a civil war over a divisive principle. The North sought the strong arm of federal law to force their views on the South. The South used violence to oppose the enforcement of emancipation. Dogma met principle and hundreds of thousands died. How does religion play a role? Religion is a unified set of the beliefs. Some of those beliefs are non negotiable. Either you believe them or you can’t belong. These are very strong beliefs. Christians are required to die rather than renounce a dogmatic belief. Islam and other religions have equally strong beliefs. But what about secular issues, why do some people resort to violence and murder to further a cause such as environmentalism or animal rights. The motivations are less strident than religion, and can be varied, such as true belief, power or control. The causes are the means for strident people to act stridently.
Lets examine two examples in our history with opposite outcomes. First slavery. In this case the dogmatic North was successful in getting the votes to impose emancipation. Most of the North was altruistic, but opportunists who sought out power or control were equally committed to the cause. Why did it broil into civil war? There was no escape from the threat of federal law. No outlet for the anger of the South, it was either submit or fight. Next look at alcohol. This issue was just as strident as slavery. The cause attracted the usually hot heads to both sides. Again federal law was used by the dogmatics to impose prohibition on the whole nation. But why no civil war? Oh, there was plenty of violence. Many died on both sides, but there was a relief valve. Those who “had” to drink took advantage of bootlegging. Same can be said of illegal drugs. Take away the relief valve, truly enforce the law and you will see violence on a massive scale.
The key to keeping a dogmatic issue below the boiling point is a relief valve. But why all of a sudden does there seem to be an explosion of issues the rise to the level of dogma? Several ingredients. Intellectual laziness is a critical ingredient. Dogmatic beliefs are/can be good things. Most are altruistic. Those who believe have a moral obligation to persuade as many non-believers as possible. But zealots are easily frustrated today and persuasion is abandoned for activism. The use of federal power to force non-believers into compliance is strident activism. It is intellectually lazy or put another way, expedient to use the power of the federal government to enforce your belief on everyone. But that has been around since 1800, why the explosion of dogmatic issues over the last 25 years? What new is the alliance of big money, big media, big corporations and big issue oriented organizations. Key word, big. This combination is very effective in threatening politicians. Politicians make laws. Laws are enforced by police with guns. Stop paying your taxes and you will soon meet a Fed with a gun. Politicians have also been caught up in our country’s stridency. They reflect our polarizing non-negotiable tactics. Politics is less and less about the persuasion of ideas and more and more about use of force; personal attacks and political correctness, enforced by big media.
There is one more ingredient that has caused the explosion of implacable issues, big government. The federal government, congress and the Supreme Court is one stop shopping for dogmatics. Why because there is almost nothing that can’t be made a federal law. The constitution is routinely corrupted by congress and activist courts. Also the constitution can be changed. Despite the declaration of independence no right in our society is inalienable in our legal system. Your rights are what ever the lawyers say they are.
Is there a way out of this mess? Well there is always the possibility that common sense and moderation will break out. But try to convince an evangelical to moderate his stance on abortion. Try to persuade a cokehead to give up drugs. What do we do? The key is a relief valve. Our nation is a potpourri of dogmatic and semi dogmatic believers. Use of the federal government to enforce one view on all 300M people is too much power in too few hands. Solution, return the social authority to the states. This gives people 50 chances of finding a state that supports their pet rock and you can flee a state that imposes an unacceptable dogmatic belief. When an issue comes to the boiling level at the state level, the state can push the authority down to the counties. Will this work? For a while. First, 50 state relief valves, and then thousands of county relief valves will buy us many years of tranquility. Has it been tried? Ever been to a bar in Texas? Want to have an alcoholic beverage? In one county it is illegal, in the next one over drink away. Drive 10 miles. The prohibition hot heads and the drinkers can live in peace.
Liberty or Death
Saturday, March 10, 2007
On Wednesday 7 Mar., General Patraeus held a public news conference and stated the following (I am paraphrasing), “ The military forces cannot defeat the insurgency alone”. This is a frank and apolitical statement coming from the country’s best general and our last hope for success. Generals don’t make frank statements without consulting with his political boss, SECDEF Bob Gates or he is falling on his sword for the troops. He is still there today, so he had the ok from Gates.
There are only two reasons for Patraeus and Gates’s message to Bush. One Bush asked for it, a “back channel” message (back channel in DoD speak is one that a politician asks to be sent so he can use it to beat someone up) or Bob Gates who is demonstrating that he is a no nonsense straight shooter who is not going to take one for Bush, but rather he is going to stick up for the troops. If a “back channel message”, then who is the target? Look around and see who is not carrying their weight. It’s not the guys in uniform so it has to be the civilian agencies and their contractors. For four years now, reconstruction in Iraq by our civilian agencies, particularly state and treasury has been an abject failure. Nothing works, not the oil production facilities, not the electricity, nor the banking system. We still can’t speak the local language and therefore have no idea what is being said in our name. If the bureaucracies are stonewalling Bush, look for him to tongue lash the culprits soon. If the problem is Bush’s inability to make the system work, which I suspect it is, then we are doomed.
Why do I think Bush is incompetent? One has only to look as far as Katrina. After a year New Orleans is a disaster even with an unlimited amount of money. Why? Certainly, the state and local governments are incompetent. Just look at the success in Mississippi. But FEMA was always a competent agency. What happened? Bush created a super bureaucracy called Homeland Security. How did Tommy Thompson staff this new beast so quickly? He allowed the best and brightest from the lower agencies including FEMA to staff his beast. Now he had a lot of chiefs but no Indians. It takes years to recover from this kind of stupidity. Tommy Thompson is a bright guy, he saw his mistake and put his parachute on. Bye, Bye. Bush is holding a bag of crap. The state department is a different problem. State wanted nothing to do with the Iraq war. Powell could see a loser when he saw one. State is staffed with career Liberals who hate war and, given a chance will do everything they can to make it fail. Powell did the honorable thing, he put on his parachute. Bye, Bye.
I worked in DoD for 32 years. I saw it all. DoD, for all of its problems is competent. So were many of the other agencies. To partially excuse Bush, the destruction of our civilian agencies began under Clinton. He loaded up the bureaucracies with agenda oriented liberals. They ran havoc for 8 years. DoD was spared because no promising liberal would be caught dead in DoD, a career-ending move. Clinton had to staff SECDEF with a Republican, because none of his liberal buddies would take the job.
So what does all this mean for Iraq? We are screwed. No competent aspiring politico wants to be associated with a loser. If General Patraeus can’t pull a rabbit out of the hat and do everyone’s job including his, we fail.
We need the enemy to be stupid. So far he has been brilliant. True, some of the hot heads want to go toe-to-toe with our guys. They die. But the smart ones are willing to hit soft targets, trucks and Humvees. They have us dancing to their tune. First came IEDs and RPGs. Unarmored vehicles were toast. So DoD and the troops put armor on the vehicles. The enemy came up with EFPs, armor piercing explosives. More of our guys die. DoD goes to helicopters to avoid the roadside bombs. The enemy creates helo ambush teams, more of our guys die. Back to armored vehicles. More EFPs, six 82nd airborne guys die in one ambush this week.
Patraeus begins the surge. Sadr flees the country and his guys go to ground, not 1 shot fired. The Sunni insurgents melt away, no toe-to-toe assaults. Do they quit? No. Truck bombs and suicide bombers. Unstoppable. Almost one a day. More Iraqis in pine boxes.
There are only three ways to stop an insurgency. Patraeus is trying the hardest way. Clear a block and leave troops behind to hold it. But there are a lot of blocks. Baghdad is as big as Los Angeles. I wish him well. Success by November, no chance. The other way is to interdict the support going to the insurgents. In a word, kill all the Baathists. Bush won’t do it and won’t let Maliki do it. The third way is a massive conventional assault. Lots of collateral damage. Bush does not have the guts.
So what is left? A political settlement. Only Maliki can accomplish that with Patraeus’s help. If Condi Rice gets involved, look for total failure. So, more of same till we pull out? Nope. It is going to get worse. Our good friend Putin is doing everything he can to make things tuff for us. He is moving his most modern weapons to Syria and Iran. Syria has stated privately that if we attack Iran they will (Hezbollah) conduct bio attacks in the US. That is a very creditable threat. Saddam's WMD went to Syria and the Hezbollah cells are already here, having strolled across the Mexican border. But Iran will be safe anyway. Look for Putin to form a military alliance with Tehran in the next 6 months. Checkmate.
What is our only hope? Cheney resigns and is replaced by Gulliani. Bush resigns. A new team takes over.
Liberty or Death
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Recent intelligence releases, followed by pundit analysis have proved that with out a doubt, Bush and his advisors did not have a clue about Islam and what was going to happen when he went into Afghanistan and Iraq. He did not expect the current sectarian violence and the degree of Iraqi hatred of Americans. He expected the Taliban to fold forever. Our military admits that we attacked with a small mobile conventional force, equipped and trained to crush the Iraqi Army. Complete success. Then came random acts of violence by certain tribes followed by Al-Qaeda seizing an opportunity and finally sectarian militias and death squads. Our military was caught with their pants down and has been reacting ever since to convert to an army of occupation and insurgency. Problem is we had enough troops to whip their army but we needed 300-400,000 troops for a successful occupation. We don’t have them. Make no mistake most Iraqis appreciated us for getting rid of Saddam. But interviews and polls have now proven that the Iraqis expected us to leave. We did not. Worse we helped create a government that the Iraqi people saw as “made in America”. Is there any doubt as to why this government can’t gain the support of the people?
With regard to Islam, Bush today still believes Islam is a religion of peace. All creditable authors disagree. I will pick one to make my point.
Marshall Frank’sFrank’s “Brutally Frank: Militant Islam in America”. Highly recommend you read this. He says 20% of Muslims are militant and embrace violence. Everyone agrees with that. 80% are so called moderate, they believe in the same goals as the militants (expansion of Islam), they don’t agree with the use of violence. But that does not mean they are not a threat. They allow the militants to live among them in silence. This provides significant cover and makes detection 10 times more difficult. This applies to America, Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan. Some quotes from Frank’s book tell us how naïve our government is:
According to Dr. Ali Sina, author and former Muslim:
"The only disagreement between a moderate and terrorist Muslims is when and how the jihad against the infidels should take place. Otherwise, all the Muslims, whether moderate or extreme, believe in the same book. That book calls for waging war against the non-Muslims until they are subdued and humiliated."
Muzammil H. Siddiqi is a Harvard-educated imam, highly regarded as a moderate among Muslim and non-Muslim circles, including the president of the United States. He stood with G.W. Bush during the post 9/11 services at the National Cathedral in 2001 to represent the Muslim faith and to condemn the attack against America. Weeks later, he was an honored guest of the president at the White House where Mr. Bush was given a copy of the Quran.
However, during a rally one year before, Siddiqi had given a speech across from that same White House where he and other Muslim leaders praised Palestinian terrorists and issued a warning to Americans to side with Palestinian Muslims against the Jews, or face Allah's punishment. Compared to notorious terrorist, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, he might be considered moderate. At least, he doesn't chop off heads from infidels.
In 2003, Siddiqi issued a fatwa, or religious decree to the Fiqh Council of North America:
"... As Muslims we should participate in the (American) system to safeguard our interests and try to bring gradual change. We must not forget that Allah's rules have to be established in all lands, and all our efforts should lead in that direction."
Omar M. Ahmad is another moderate Muslim leader who helped to establish the Council on American-Islamic Relations, (CAIR) a powerful lobbying group based in Washington. He also had been an honored guest at the White House, and invited by the president to join the day of mourning at the National Cathedral after 9/11.This is what the so-called moderate Muslim said at an Islamic conference in Fremont, California in 1998:
"Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faith but to become dominant. The Quran should be the highest authority in America and Islam the only accepted religion on earth."
Imam Siraj Wahhaj is an American black who converted to Islam and became a recognized leader in the Muslim community, particularly in Brooklyn where he does most of his preaching. Dubbed a moderate by government officials, Wahhaj holds the honor of being the first Muslim ever to give opening prayer in the U.S. Congress. He was the recipient of commendations from police for helping to drive out crime in the neighborhoods. Brooklyn authorities proclaimed a day in Wahhaj's name for his giving of "outstanding and meaningful achievements."
How can government officials be so fooled? Or perhaps, they are blind from burying their heads so deep in the sand. The same year he led the prayer in congress, 1991, he gave a speech to Muslims in Texas where he predicted that America would fall unless it accepts the Islamic agenda.
In another speech in New Jersey, Wahhaj was heard to say,
"Take my word for it, if six to eight million Muslims unite in America, the country will come to us."
This so-called moderate Muslim hosted the blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman at his Brooklyn mosque, the same man convicted of the first World Trade Center bombing. He even appeared in court as his character witness.”
There is an emerging 3rd group of Islamists called Reformists who actively denounce violence and will point the militants out. 2 were interviewed on Glenn Beck recently, 1 on Bill Maher and 1 cited in Frank’s book. But they are very few in number and some have been killed for speaking out.
So what? Get over it Liberty or Death, you can’t change the past. I agree we need to go forward from where we are today, warts and all. I only regurgitate the past to ask this question, “Do we know what to do now in order to win?” Do we even know who our enemy is? Remember they picked us.
With only 1/3 the number of troops needed, Patraeus has define an achievable goal, capture and occupy the mixed Sunni/Shia neighborhoods in Baghdad. Declare success and turn the mess over to Iraqi Army.
What about the rest of Sunni Land, with the insurgents and Al-Qaeda? They will melt away and we are not going to catch them without Iraqi Sunni help. What happens if we leave? We have a 10% chance of diplomatic success. With our state dept. that may be less. The prophesy of all the hand wringers is that Armageddon will break out with Iran backing the Shia and Saudi Arabia and Jordan backing the Sunnis. From the president on down throw this out without challenge. Certainly for Iraq it will be Armageddon. So what? A stable Iraq is not a primary goal on the war on terror. In the big picture all of the Middle East countries are our enemies. Anyone who thinks any of them will support us does not read the facts. To put it simply, a poll of the Middle East shows that way more than 50% of the people hate us, and Saudi Arabia is at the top of the list at over 80%. See the post directly below. We should be doing everything we can to get these guys shooting at each other. Does not mean we have to leave, just get out of the way and protect the oil.
But, back to the current plan. President Bush is wishful thinking. No body on the Republican side of the aisle believes there is a reasonable chance the Iraqis will be ready to take over in November. Lindsey Graham Sunday called it the “last best hope”. Certainly not high praise from a Bush supporter. Does that mean we are going to lose? With the current plan, yes. What plan will work?
We came with an overwhelming conventional force, lets use it conventionally, not as policemen. But we have no clearly defined target? The bad guys blend in with the non combatants denying us the use of our superiority weapons. Its rifles against rifles and IEDs and EFPs. The enemy is dictating and we are reacting. There is no clearly identifiable enemy for a conventional attack, to do what we do better than anyone else, an all out offensive. In order to do that you have to have a clearly definable enemy.
Well, It has been there all the time, the Baathists. Guess where the money comes from, guess where the weapons and training come from? Been there the whole time. Maliki wanted to go after them but our state department is leaning on Maliki to stop the de Baathification. We are our own worst problem.
So what do we do? What it really means is that we are going to have to play political hardball with the Maliki government and local leaders throughout Iraq. It is time for Rice to earn her pay. What is our message? General Patraeus will build a block wide corridor across Baghdad, splitting the Shia from the Sunni. This block wide corridor will be bulldozed flat. The people will be relocated. Where? Hundreds of thousands of professional Iraqis and another hundred thousand poor are refugees in Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. There is plenty of empty housing. In November the Iraqi army will take over policing no mans land. Anyone who enters no mans land by any means other than through checkpoints will be shot on sight. Sunnis and Shia who find themselves on the wrong side of the ditch will be given an opportunity to relocate. If we draw the line with care that will be an equal number in both directions.
To the Shia local leaders. Accepting money and arms from Iran will be punished. We will provide the money and you don’t need arms, the Iraqi Army will protect you. All militias will be disbanded. Already happening. New twist, Sadr you are persona non grota. Stay in Iran.
To the Kurds, don’t piss off Turkey. No incitement or arming of Turkish Kurds. 5-year time out to get Iraq stabilized.
To the Sunni, moderate leaders (the only ones invited), privately identify the Baathists, and others who are harboring the insurgents and Al-Qaeda. It can be anonymous, drop names in the hat. No Americans watching. American will be coming to your neighborhoods. Going door to door. Secretly point out the location of your hot heads.
To Maliki. Get the oil deal completed. Divide up the police. Sunni in An-Bar, Shia in the south and Kurds in the North. Provide more equal power sharing for the next 5 years, then have free elections.
To the American state department et al. Get serious about reconstruction and jobs creation or get fired. The last 3 years you have been stonewalling.
What about the insurgents and Al-Qaeda. You have 3 months to get out, and then we are coming to get you. No police action, a full military attack, using artillery and Air Support. Targets, all the blocks, towns and camps identified by the moderates. Oh by the way that includes all Baathists.
Why will this work? The insurgents, foreigners and Al-Qaeda have to eat, sleep, get paid and resupplied with ammunition and bombs. They have all the comforts of home. That will stop. Who is supplying the ammo, living quarters, money and intelligence? The Baathists. Who is supplying the fuel, electricity, water and food? We are!!! After three months all support to the identified bad guy areas will be cut off.
Saddam had a police state. That is actually good news. It means that all Iraqis have decent, verified identity papers. All the Baathists are identified. Any one in An-Bar without papers, you are arrested or shot. All male Baathists over the age of 12, you are gone to Syria. Take your families if you want.
After 3 months without food, water, electricity and fuel, the bad guys will be highly motivated to fall back on support, i.e. Syria. Anyone male remaining in the bad guy zones, kill them on sight. After, allow the poor moderate Sunnis to populate the nice Baathists homes.
This is a mission the American army can execute expeditiously with the troops it has now. The ROEs will be like a pitched battle. There will be collateral damage. There was when we invaded and were fighting the Iraqi Army. The difference will be that we gave them 3 months to get out of the way.
All travel into An-Bar and out of An-Bar must go through checkpoints. Sunnis going to Shia land better have a good reason. Same with the Shia going to An-Bar.
Realism check. After the surge, expect the Iranians to filter back into Shia Land and Al-Qaeda into Sunni Land. We are going to be there a long time.
Liberty or Death