Wednesday, 11 June 2008

IRAQ PROGRESS REPORT

Ken Berwitz

Kimberley and Frederick Kagan wrote an excellent piece in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, detailing the enormous successes we have had in Iraq over the past year and a half, especially in the last few months.

Since most mainstream media are dilligently avoiding any mention of this progress, other than a very general "things have improved somewhat" wet-blanket of them, the Kagans' article comes as a very pleasant and informative breath of fresh air. 

Please read their entire piece by clicking the link I provided above.  But if you're short on time, here are a few of the key highlights:

How Prime Minister Maliki Pacified Iraq

By KIMBERLY KAGAN and FREDERICK W. KAGAN
June 10, 2008; Page A17

America is very close to succeeding in Iraq. The "near-strategic defeat" of al Qaeda in Iraq described by CIA Director Michael Hayden last month in the Washington Post has been followed by the victory of the Iraqi government's security forces over illegal Shiite militias, including Iranian-backed Special Groups. The enemies of Iraq and America now cling desperately to their last bastions, while the political process builds momentum.

These tremendous gains remain fragile and could be lost to skillful enemy action, or errors in Baghdad or Washington. But where the U.S. was unequivocally losing in Iraq at the end of 2006, we are just as unequivocally winning today.

By February 2008, America and its partners accomplished a series of tasks thought to be impossible. The Sunni Arab insurgency and al Qaeda in Iraq were defeated in Anbar, Diyala and Baghdad provinces, and the remaining leaders and fighters clung to their last urban outpost in Mosul. The Iraqi government passed all but one of the "benchmark" laws (the hydrocarbon law being the exception, but its purpose is now largely accomplished through the budget) and was integrating grass-roots reconciliation with central political progress. The sectarian civil war had ended.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), swelled by 100,000 new recruits in 2007, was fighting hard and skillfully throughout Iraq. The Shiite-led government was showing an increasing willingness to use its forces even against Shiite militias. The announcement that provincial elections would be held by year's end galvanized political movements across the country, focusing Iraq's leaders on the need to get more votes rather than more guns.

Three main challenges to security and political progress remained: clearing al Qaeda out of Mosul; bringing Basra under the Iraqi government's control; and eliminating the Special Groups safe havens in Sadr City. It seemed then that these tasks would require enormous effort, entail great loss of life, and take the rest of the year or more. Instead, the Iraqi government accomplished them within a few months.

- Mosul: After losing in central Iraq, remnants of al Qaeda and Baathist insurgents were driven north. These groups started to reconstitute in Mosul as the last large urban area open to them. Mosul also contained financial networks that had funded the insurgency, was a waypoint for foreign fighters infiltrating from Syria, and has ethno-sectarian fault lines that al Qaeda sought to exploit.

The Iraqi government responded by forming the Ninewah Operations Command early in 2008, concentrating forces around Mosul, and preparing for a major clearing operation. In February, the ISF cleared the neighborhoods of Palestine and Sumer, two key al Qaeda safe havens.

In the meantime, American forces conducted numerous raids against the terrorist network, netting hundreds of key individuals. The ISF launched Operation Lion's Roar on May 10. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited Mosul on May 14, and the ISF began Operation Mother of Two Springs shortly thereafter.

The results have been dramatic. Enemy attacks fell from an average of 40 per day in the first week of May to between four and six per day in the following two weeks. Coalition forces have captured or killed the al-Qaeda emirs of Mosul, Southeast Mosul, Ninewah Province and much of their networks.

- Basra: Al Qaeda's defeat in 2007 exposed Iranian-backed Special Groups and Shiite militias as the most important sources of violence and casualties. The Maliki government had shown its willingness to target Sunni insurgents, but many feared it would not challenge Iran's proxies and the Sadrist militias within which they functioned. Basra, in particular, seemed an almost insurmountable problem following the withdrawal of British combat forces from the city. This left Iraq's second-largest city (and only port) in the hands of rival militias.

Iraqi and American commanders began planning for a gradual effort to retake the city. Mr. Maliki decided not to wait. He ordered clearing operations to begin on March 22, sent reinforcements to support those operations, and accompanied the first of those reinforcements to Basra on March 24.

Operation Knight's Charge started on March 25, as Iraqi Security Forces moved into Mahdi Army (JAM) safe havens throughout the city. Initial operations were not promising some 1,000 ISF personnel deserted or refused to fight, most of them from the newly formed 14th Iraqi Army Division. Nevertheless, the Iraqi Army seized control of the port.

Initial setbacks did not deter Mr. Maliki, who continued to send in reinforcements, including Iraqi Special Forces, Iraqi helicopters and the Quick Reaction Force of the 1st Iraqi Army Division from Anbar. Negotiations between Iraqi leaders and Iranian Brig. Gen. Ghassem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Quds Force, produced a "cease-fire" on March 30.

But operations continued, and after two weeks the ISF, with American advisers and aviation but no American combat units, launched clearing operations throughout the city on April 12. By mid-May, the ISF controlled Basra's neighborhoods, and drove JAM and Special Groups fighters out of their safe havens, pursuing them north and south of the city.

- Sadr City: The Special Groups had been preparing for an offensive of their own in the first months of 2008, stockpiling arms and moving trained fighters into and around the country. Mr. Maliki's move into Basra led them to begin their offensive prematurely, including the launching of heavy rocket and mortar attacks against the Green Zone from their bases in Sadr City. Iraqi Security Forces crushed these attacks in central Iraq and, with American assistance, in most of Baghdad.

The rocketing of the Green Zone, however, convinced American and Iraqi leaders to cordon off Sadr City, and to clear the two southernmost neighborhoods from which most of the rockets were coming. The government and U.S. commanders moved reinforcements toward Sadr City and began planning for a clearing operation. In the meantime, Iraqi officials began negotiating with Sadr City leaders, as U.S. forces erected a wall to separate the cleared neighborhoods from the rest of Sadr City.

On May 20, the ISF, supported by U.S. airpower and advisers, moved rapidly into the remainder of Sadr City. They received help from the local population in identifying IED locations and enemy safe houses, and destroyed enemy leadership centers. By the end of May, most of the Special Groups and hard-core Sadrist fighters had been killed, captured or driven off.

The war is not over. Enemy groups are reforming, rearming and preparing new attacks. And for all its progress and success, the ISF is not yet able to stand on its own. Coalition forces continue to play key support roles, maintaining stability and security in cleared but threatened areas, and serving as impartial and honest brokers between Iraqi groups working toward reconciliation.

But success is in sight. Compared with the seemingly insurmountable obstacles already overcome, the remaining challenges in Iraq are eminently solvable if we continue to pursue a determined strategy that builds on success rather than throwing our accomplishments away. No one in December 2006 could have imagined how far we would have come in 18 months. Having come this far, we must see this critical effort through to the end.

What a great turnaround.  What a mistake it would be to give it all up to cut and run a la Obama.

What a disgrace that our own media, in time of war, are so heavily invested in kissing up to the side that wants to toss it all away.


OBAMA SUPPORTERS LIE ABOUT MCCAIN & IRAQ. AGAIN

Ken Berwitz

First it was the lie that John McCain was ok with fighting a 100 year war in Iraq.  Now it is the lie that John McCain does not care about troops being there. 

Why do these people have to lie so much?

You might remember back to January, when Mr. McCain,was asked his opinion of President Bush saying we might be in Iraq (in one form or another) for 50 years.  His verbatim response was:

"Make it a hundred. . . We've been in Japan for 60 years. We've been in South Korea for 50 years or so. That would be fine with me, as long as American, as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed.

"It's fine with me and I hope it would be fine with you if we maintained a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al-Qaida is training, recruiting and equipping and motivating people every single day."

As you can plainly see, Mr. McCain's comment was that he's fine with the USA maintaining a presence in Iraq for that long if we are not fighting a war. (as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed).   He specifically referenced our troops in Korea and Japan so there would be no doubt about his meaning.  

Therefore, when Barack Obama, his campaign people and the lunatic-left blogosphere told you John McCain was advocating 100 years of war in Iraq, they were lying.  Obviously.  But even to this day if you google "McCain 100 years Iraq" you will be bombarded with web sites claiming he was threatening a century of war.  Liars.

Now we have round two of lying about McCain on the same issue - again by misquoting him.

On the Today show this morning Matt Lauer conducted a mostly contentious attack-interview with Mr. McCain, which came after a hit piece by the reliably anti-McCain Andrea Mitchell. 

During the interview, Lauer mentioned that our troop surge appeared to be successful and asked if this enabled McCain to estimate a time when the troops could come home.

Mr. McCain said "That's not important........"   <--- (remember those dots, because this is a partial quote )

Next, courtesy of the following excerpts from Mike Allen, writing for www.politico.com, we see the firestorm that ensued (read Allen's entire piece by clicking here):

The Obama campaign and Democratic leaders accused Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) of being confused and heartless after he told NBCs Today show Wednesday that its not too important when U.S. troops return from Iraq.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said on a quickly organized Obama conference call that McCains comment was unbelievably out of touch with the needs and concerns of most Americans, saying that to families of troops in harms way, To them, it's the most important thing in the world.

Kerry claimed an enormous, fundamental flaw in his candidacy for the presidency, which supposedly has hung on his strength as commander in chief and his understanding of foreign policy.

Susan Rice, an Obama foreign-policy adviser, accused McCain of a real disturbing, even disconcerting, pattern of confusing the basic facts and reality that pertain to Iraq.

The Today show statement, which McCain went on to explain, is damaging because
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has pledged to immediately begin withdrawing combat troops.

McCain, trying to mitigate the fallout from his January remarks that U.S. troops might be in Iraq for 100 years, predicted last month that most troops would be home by the end of his first term.

Trying to take the offense, McCains campaign posted
a YouTube clip of the exchange.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said: The Obama campaign is embarking on a false attack on John McCain to hide their own candidates willingness to disregard facts on the ground in pursuit of withdrawal no matter what the costs. John McCain was asked if he had a better estimate for a timeline for withdrawal. 

As John McCain has always said, that is not as important as conditions on the ground and the recommendations of commanders in the field. Any reasonable person who reads the full transcript would see this and reject the Obama campaigns attempt to manipulate, twist and distort the truth.

What an intriguing comment Tucker Bounds made in that last paragraph:  "Any reasonable person who reads the full transcript would see this and reject the Obama campaign's attempt to manipulate, twist and distort the truth".

Ok, let's take him up on it. 

Remember earlier in this blog when I told you to remember the dots after McCain's partial quote?  Well, here is the full quote, verbatim, also from Mike Allen's piece in politico.com:

Matt Lauer asked about the surge strategy in Iraq: If it's working Senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?

McCain replied: No, but that's not too important. Whats important is the casualties in Iraq, Americans are in South Korea, Americans are in Japan, American troops are in Germany. Thats all fine. American casualties and the ability to withdraw; we will be able to withdraw. General [David] Petraeus is going to tell us in July when he thinks we are.

But the key to it is that we don't want any more Americans in harm's way. That way, they will be safe, and serve our country and come home with honor and victory, not in defeat, which is what Senator Obama's proposal would have done. Im proud of them. And they're doing a great job. And we are succeeding and it's fascinating that Senator Obama still doesn't realize that.

Well, well, well.  It turns out McCain is telling the truth again, and the Obama people are lying in their teeth again.

Mr. McCain pointed out that removing the troops is not too important if there are no CASUALTIES -  in his words, "...we don't want any more Americans in harm's way". 

As in the "100 years" quote, Mr. McCain specifically cited South Korea, Japan and Germany.  Why?  Because we have a military presence in all three of those countries but we are not fighting a war in any of them.  Since our troops are not in harm's way, bringing them home is not important. 

There is absolutely no doubt about what John McCain meant here.  He was saying precisely the same thing that he said in January. 

And there is absolutely no doubt that the Obama people are lying about it precisely the same way they lied about it at that time.

Let me end this by doing something I usually avoid.  I'm going to make a prediction.

I predict that "Countdown", keith olbermann's nightly MSNBC hate-fest, will feature McCain's comment tonight.  And while olbermann and one or more of his regular suckup guests might mention in passing that McCain claims his comment is being taken the wrong way, the thrust of this feature will be that Mr. McCain is either a warmonger, a dodderer who doesn't know what he's saying (possibly because of his age) or both.

We'll see......

UPDATE:   I only wish I was this good at the track.  I was 100% right about olbermann.  More about this tomorrow.


BARACK OBAMA AND BLACK LIBERATION THEOLOGY

Ken Berwitz

I have blogged again and again about how disgustingly racist Black liberation theology is.

This is exceeedingly important to the 2008 presidential race because jeremiah wright, Barack Obama's pastor and "spiritual mentor" for almost 20 years, is a proud, enthusiastic believer in Black liberation theology and tells us that it is the basis of his religious beliefs.

The racism of Black liberation theology is why we were treated to a series of in-your-face lies from Barack Obama, starting with when he claimed to be unaware of wright's teachings. 

To refresh your memory, Mr. Obama went from claiming he never heard wright spew his hatred, to claiming he was told that wright did so but never personally heard it, to claiming he did hear it but he couldn't disown wright any more than he could disown his own racist grandmother (have a nice day, granny), to disowning wright about two weeks after saying he could never do so.  That's quite a journey.

Anyone who believes that Mr. Obama didn't notice that wright was spewing this filth in 18 years of sitting in that church listening to his sermons is beyond hope. 

Now that we have covered the dishonesty part of the story, let's cover what it was that Barack Obama and the other church members were hearing all these years.  For this, we go to the book on Black liberation theology that was written by its founder, james cone.  This is the same james cone that jeremiah wright was talking about when he dismissively told Sean Hannity that, if he hadn't read cone's books, he couldn't know what wright was all about.

The invaluable web site, www.sweetness-light.com, has put out a lengthy segment from the preface of cone's book, "A Theology of Black Liberation", which - never forget - is the basis of jeremiah wright's religious teachings.  You can read it by just clicking on this sentence.  Please do, you owe it to yourself to know the truth.

But for brevity's sake I am going to post just a few of the "high points", that sweetness-light.com put in bold print.  These are 100% in context and 100% guaranteed to thrill you if you are a Black supremacist....or sicken you if you aren't. 

Here they are:

-Any theology that is indifferent to the theme of liberation is not Christian theology.

-In a society where persons are oppressed because they are black, Christian theology must become black theology, a theology that is unreservedly identified with the goals of the oppressed and seeks to interpret the divine character of their struggle for liberation.

-There will be no peace in America until whites begin to hate their whiteness, asking from the depths of their being: How can we become black? 

-There can be no Christian theology that is not identified unreservedly with those who are humiliated and abused.

-The consistent theme in Israelite prophecy is Yahwehs concern for the lack of social, economic, and political justice for those who are poor and unwanted in society. Yahweh, according to Hebrew prophecy, will not tolerate injustice against the poor; God will vindicate the poor. Again, God is revealed as the God of liberation for the oppressed.

-human beings are liberated and thus free to rebel against all powers that threaten human life.

-In view of the biblical emphasis on liberation, it seems not only appropriate but necessary to define the Christian community as the community of the oppressed which joins Jesus Christ in his fight for the liberation of humankind

-Christian theology is never just a rational study of the being of God. Rather it is a study of Gods liberating activity in the world, Gods activity in behalf of the oppressed.

-Whatever theology says about God and the world must arise out of its sole reason for existence as a discipline: to assist the oppressed in their liberation. Its language is always language about human liberation, proclaiming the end of bondage and interpreting the religious dimensions of revolutionary struggle.

-Unfortunately, American white theology has not been involved in the struggle for black liberation. It has been basically a theology of the white oppressor, giving religious sanction to the genocide of Amerindians and the enslavement of Africans. From the very beginning to the present day, American white theological thought has been patriotic, either by defining the theological task independently of black suffering (the liberal northern approach) or by defining Christianity as compatible with white racism (the conservative southern approach). 

-The appearance of black theology on the American scene then is due primarily to the failure of white religionists to relate the gospel of Jesus to the pain of being black in a white racist society. It arises from the need of blacks to liberate themselves from white oppressors. Black theology is a theology of liberation because it is a theology which arises from an identification with the oppressed blacks of America, seeking to interpret the gospel of Jesus in the light of the black condition. It believes that the liberation of the black community is Gods liberation.

-There are two reasons why black theology is Christian theology. First, there can be no theology of the gospel which does not arise from an oppressed community. This is so because God is revealed in Jesus as a God whose righteousness is inseparable from the weak and helpless in human society. The goal of black theology is to interpret Gods activity as related to the oppressed black community.

-The Jesus-event in twentieth-century America is a black-eventthat is, an event of liberation taking place in the black community in which blacks recognize that it is incumbent upon them to throw off the chains of white oppression by whatever means they regard as suitable. This is what Gods revelation means to black and white America, and why black theology is an indispensable theology for our time.

-First, in a revolutionary situation there can never be nonpartisan theology. Theology is always identified with a particular community. It is either identified with those who inflict oppression or with those who are its victims. A theology of the latter is authentic Christian theology, and a theology of the former is a theology of the Antichrist. Insofar as black theology is a theology arising from an identification with the oppressed black community and seeks to interpret the gospel of Jesus Christ in the light of the liberation of that community, it is Christian theology. American white theology is a theology of the Antichrist insofar as it arises from an identification with the white community, thereby placing Gods approval on white oppression of black existence.

-God is not color-blind in the black-white struggle, but has made an unqualified identification with blacks. This means that the movement for black liberation is the very work of God, effecting Gods will among men.

-Either God is for blacks in their fight for liberation from white oppressors, or God is not. God cannot be both for us and for white oppressors at the same time.

-The extermination of Amerindians, the persecution of Jews, the oppression of Mexican-Americans, and every other conceivable inhumanity done in the name of God and countrythese brutalities can be analyzed in terms of the white American inability to recognize humanity in persons of color. If the oppressed of this land want to challenge the oppressive character of white society, they must begin by affirming their identity in terms of the reality that is anti-white. Blackness, then, stands for all victims of oppression who realize that the survival of their humanity is bound up with liberation from whiteness. This understanding of blackness can be seen as the most adequate symbol of the dimensions of divine activity in America. And insofar as this country is seeking to make whiteness the dominating power throughout the world, whiteness is the symbol of the Antichrist. Whiteness characterizes the activity of deranged individuals intrigued by their own images of themselves, and thus unable to see they are what is wrong with the world. Black theology seeks to analyze the satanic nature of whiteness and by doing so to prepare all nonwhites for revolutionary action.

So, how did you enjoy the read? 

Little wonder that Barack Obama would work so hard to hide this "theology" from voters in a general election.  But he can't. 

I'm sure you remember Barack Obama's "race speech" in Philadelphia, the one where he rationalized wright and dropkicked granny.  What exactly did he say there other than we should have a dialogue about race - which has been going on as long as I can remember anyway?  Big deal.

If we really want to have an informed race dialogue in this country it won't be the 5,954th different variation of what Mr. Obama talked about in his Philadelphia "race" speech, no matter how many Chris Mouthews types get a tickle up their leg over it. 

A really informed race dialogue would involve some strong, hard questions about why garbage like Black liberation theology is preached in a major Black church (far from the only one, I'm told), and that Black congregants are delirious with joy upon hearing it.  

I bet that's just the way White folks at a Klan rally behave when they are told that Christianity is a White religion and Black people are subhumans.  

Barack Obama cannot just abstractly denounce the pastor he revered all these years and expect the general public to consider the issue over.  He has to denounce the TEACHINGS of that church - not just a few especially offensive quotes, but the entire basis of the church - and then explain why he was an enthusiastic congregant there for almost 20 years.

Don't count on it happening any time soon.  And count even less on mainstream media retrofitting themselves with some journalistic integrity regarding Mr. Obama and demanding that he do so.


JOHNSON? GOHN,SON

Ken Berwitz

Yesterday I blogged about the three people Barack Obama picked to "vet" his potential vice presidential candidates.  One was Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg who, while I'm sure she is a nice lady, fine mother and a great daughter to JFK, has no qualifications to do this that I am aware of.  A second was Eric Holder, whose great claim to fame was facilitating Bill Clinton's pardon of the cheating dirtbag marc rich. 

The third was former head of Fanny Mae James Johnson.  But there was a bit of a problem -- Johnson got sweetheart deals on loans from Countrywide Financial Corporation.  And, to add to things, Barack Obama singled out Countrywide for their practices by saying that::

These are the people who are responsible for infecting the economy and helping to create a home foreclosure crisis.

Not good.

Well, as Scarlett O'hara said at the end of Gone With The Wind, "Tomorrow is another day".

This comes to us from www.bloomberg.com:

June 11 (Bloomberg) -- Former Fannie Mae Chairman James Johnson said he has quit Senator Barack Obama's vice presidential search committee after the Wall Street Journal reported he may have received preferential mortgage terms from Countrywide Financial Corp.

Johnson said that while he has done nothing wrong, he left to avoid being a hindrance to Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee.

``I would not dream of being a party to distracting attention from that historic effort,'' he said in a statement. ``I believe Barack Obama's candidacy for president of the United States is the most exciting and important of my lifetime.''

Johnson's ties to Countrywide became a campaign issue after Republicans pointed out that Obama had been critical of the mortgage lender in campaign speeches. Johnson's role as a political insider also contrasted with Obama's pledge to bring change to Washington.

Johnson, 64, said that ``blatantly false statements and misrepresentations'' were written about him.

``Jim did not want to distract in any way from the very important task of gathering information about my vice presidential nominee, so he has made a decision to step aside that I accept,'' Obama said in an e-mailed statement.

Obama said he is ``confident'' his vice presidential search process will produce ``a number of highly qualified candidates'' in coming weeks.

Kennedy, Holder

Johnson was part of a three-person team, along with Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy, and former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who were tapped to help vet prospective running mates for Obama. Johnson, who ran Walter Mondale's 1984 presidential campaign, helped 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry in his vice presidential search.

Angelo Mozilo, the chief executive officer of Countrywide, the biggest U.S. home lender, may have given Johnson and other friends good deals on mortgages, the Wall Street Journal reported on June 7, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The newspaper didn't provide any specifics on whether favors were granted.

Since then, Johnson's position on the search committee has drawn criticism from Republicans who noted that Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, repeatedly denounced Countrywide for its role in the subprime-mortgage crisis.

Obama and Countrywide

``These are the folks who are responsible for infecting the economy and helping to create a home-foreclosure crisis -- 2 million people may end up losing their homes,'' Obama said of Countrywide at a March 31 campaign appearance in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Thinking about this triumvirate, it's hard not to recall that we are supposed to vote for Mr. Obama because of his good judgment.

That so?  Is this good judgment to you?  Think about it.


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