Sunday, 30 November 2008
THOMAS FRIEDMAN ASSIGNS CREDIT FOR OUR SUCCESS IN IRAQ
This time we almost made the
pieces fit, didn't we?
This time we almost made some sense of it, didn't
This time I have the answer right here in my hand,
Then I touched
it, and it has turned to sand.
This time we almost sang the song in tune,
This time we almost made it to the moon, didn't we?
time, we almost made (almost made) a poem rhyme
And this time we almost
made that long hard climb.
Didn't we almost
make it this time... this time.
I love that Jimmy Webb song. What great lyrics.
Too bad it also describes a three time Pulitzer Prize winner who just cannot
go all the way and give President Bush credit for the good he has
Here is Thomas' Friedman's column from today's New York Times. Read the
title, read it through, and then see if the last paragraph makes any sense to
Obamas Iraq Inheritance
Heres a story you dont see very often. Iraqs
highest court told the Iraqi Parliament last Monday that it had no right to
strip one of its members of immunity so he could be prosecuted for an alleged
crime: visiting Israel for a seminar on counterterrorism. The Iraqi justices
said the Sunni lawmaker, Mithal al-Alusi, had committed no crime and told the
Parliament to back off.
Thats not all. The Iraqi newspaper Al-Umma
al-Iraqiyya carried an open letter signed by 400 Iraqi intellectuals, both
Kurdish and Arab, defending Alusi. That takes a lot of courage and a lot of
press freedom. I cant imagine any other Arab country today where independent
judges would tell the government it could not prosecute a parliamentarian for
visiting Israel and intellectuals would openly defend him in the
In the case of Iraq, though, the federal high
court, in a unanimous decision, vacated the Parliaments rescinding of Alusis
immunity, with the decision delivered personally by Chief Justice Medhat
al-Mahmoud. The decision explained that although a 1950s-era law made traveling
to Israel a crime punishable by death, Iraqs new Constitution establishes
freedom to travel. Therefore the Parliaments move was illegal and
unconstitutional because the current Constitution does not prevent citizens from
traveling to any country in the world, Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, spokesman for the
court, told The Associated Press. The judgment even made the Parliament speaker
responsible for the expenses of the court and the defense counsel!
I dont think its reasonable to expect Iraq to
have relations with Israel anytime soon, but the fact that it may be developing
an independent judiciary is good news. Its a reminder of the most important
reason for the Iraq war: to try to collaborate with Iraqis to build progressive
politics and rule of law in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, a region that
stands out for its lack of consensual politics and independent judiciaries. And
its a reminder that a decent outcome may still be possible in Iraq, especially
now that the Parliament has endorsed the U.S.-Iraqi plan for a 2011 withdrawal
of American troops.
Al Qaeda has not been fully defeated in Iraq;
suicide bombings are still an almost daily reality. But it has been dealt a
severe blow, which I believe is one reason the Muslim jihadists those brave
warriors who specialize in killing women and children and defenseless tourists
have turned their attention to softer targets like India. Just as they tried to
stoke a Shiite-Sunni civil war in Iraq, and failed, they are now trying to stoke
a Hindu-Muslim civil war in India.
If Iraq can keep improving still uncertain and
become a place where Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites can write their own social
contract and live together with a modicum of stability, it could one day become
a strategic asset for the United States in the post-9/11 effort to promote
different politics in the Arab-Muslim world.
How so? Iraq is a geopolitical space that for the
last three decades of the 20th century was dominated by a Baathist dictatorship,
which, though it provided a bulwark against Iranian expansion, did so at the
cost of a regime that murdered tens of thousands of its own people and attacked
three of its neighbors.
In 2003, the United States, under President Bush,
invaded Iraq to change the regime. Terrible postwar execution and unrelenting
attempts by Al Qaeda to provoke a Sunni-Shiite civil war turned the Iraqi
geopolitical space into a different problem a maelstrom of violence for four
years, with U.S. troops caught in the middle. A huge price was paid by Iraqis
and Americans. This was the Iraq that Barack Obama ran against.
In the last year, though, the U.S. troop surge and
the backlash from moderate Iraqi Sunnis against Al Qaeda and Iraqi Shiites
against pro-Iranian extremists have brought a new measure of stability to Iraq.
There is now, for the first time, a chance still only a chance that a
reasonably stable democratizing government, though no doubt corrupt in places,
can take root in the Iraqi political space.
That is the Iraq that Obama is inheriting. It is
an Iraq where we have to begin drawing down our troops because the occupation
has gone on too long and because we have now committed to do so by treaty but
it is also an Iraq that has the potential to eventually tilt the Arab-Muslim
world in a different direction.
Im sure that Obama, whatever he said during the
campaign, will play this smart. He has to avoid giving Iraqi leaders the feeling
that Bush did that hell wait forever for them to sort out their politics
while also not suggesting that he is leaving tomorrow, so they all start
If he can pull this off, and help that decent Iraq
take root, Obama and the Democrats could not only end the Iraq war but salvage
something positive from it. Nothing would do more to enhance the Democratic
Partys national security credentials than that.
Obama can end the war? Obama can salvage something
from it? It would give Democrats security credentials?
Hello, Thom....anybody home? President Bush brought us to this
point. Not the junior senator from Illinois, but President George
It was Bush who ordered a troop surge, in the face of an opposition so
hate-filled and vicious that a name actually was invented for it
(BDS: Bush Derangement Syndrome).
It was Bush who rode it all out and got us to the point where Iraq is a
functioning (if tenuous) democracy with enough military capability so that we
can safely reduce troop strength.
And Friedman wants to hand the credit off to Obama? To
That's like giving credit for for a 50-0 football win to the bench
players who are sent in at the end to complete the game.
This time you almost made it, Thom, didn't you. You only missed by one
THE MUMBAI TERRORISTS & THEIR ABETTORS
As you will see, my use of the term "abettors" is pretty harsh. But
what else would you call the Indian police in this situation?
Here are the particulars, from John Hinderaker at www.powerlineblog.com. Please also
read the link it refers to for further context.
November 29, 2008 Posted by John at 8:04 PM
This post should be read in conjunction with the one
immediately below. It describes a microcosm of India's failure to defend
itself aggressively against Islamic terrorism. The hero of the story is
Sebastian D'Souza, a picture editor at the Mumbai Mirror, who took one of the
most famous photos of the terrorists in action:
D'Souza describes his experience at the railway terminal where many innocent Indians were
"I first saw the gunmen outside the station," Mr
D'Souza said. "With their rucksacks and Western clothes they looked like
backpackers, not terrorists, but they were very heavily armed and clearly knew
how to use their rifles.
"Towards the station entrance, there are a
number of bookshops and one of the bookstore owners was trying to close his
shop," he recalled. "The gunmen opened fire and the shopkeeper fell
But what angered Mr D'Souza almost as much were
the masses of armed police hiding in the area who simply refused to shoot
back. "There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of
them did anything," he said. "At one point, I ran up to them and told them to
use their weapons. I said, 'Shoot them, they're sitting ducks!' but they
just didn't shoot back." ...
As the gunmen fired at policemen taking cover
across the street, Mr D'Souza realised a train was pulling into the station
unaware of the horror within. "I couldn't believe it. We rushed to the
platform and told everyone to head towards the back of the station. Those who
were older and couldn't run, we told them to stay put."
The militants returned inside the station and
headed towards a rear exit towards Chowpatty Beach. Mr D'Souza added: "I told
some policemen the gunmen had moved towards the rear of the station but they
refused to follow them. What is the point of having policemen with guns if
they refuse to use them? I only wish I had a gun rather than a
If Mr. D'Souza ever wants to emigrate to the
United States, we'll take him.
I wondered earlier
today how a mere ten terrorists
could bring a city of 19 million to a standstill. Here in the U.S., I don't
think it would happen. I think we have armed security guards who know how to use
their weapons, supplemented by an unknown number of private citizens who are
armed and capable of returning fire. The Indian experience shows it is vitally
important that this continue to be the case. This is a matter of culture as much
as, or more than, a matter of laws.
They could have stopped it. They could have stopped it.
And they didn't.
That's how 10 terrorists can inflict this kind of mass murder. All it
takes is for no one to fight back.
Maybe the Indian police were waiting to have a a no-preconditions
discussion with them.
THE UN'S SOUTH PARK MOMENT
Did you see South Park, the movie?
If so you probably laughed and laughed at its intentionally ridiculous
production number (if you can use that term for animation) "Blame Canada".
As the title suggests, the gag was that Canada is to blame for everything
that ever goes wrong.
As lowbrow comedy, blaming a country for everyone else's ills is very
funny. But suppose this were done seriously instead. It
wouldn't be funny at all, would it?
With that in mind, here is Jeff Jacoby's latest column from today's Boston
Globe. See if you can find any humor in it:
AT THE U.N., THE
ISRAEL-BASHING GOES ON
The president of the UN General Assembly, Miguel
d'Escoto Brockmann of Nicaragua, last week denounced the policies of a certain
Middle Eastern nation. They are so similar to the apartheid of an earlier era,
he said, that the world must unite against them, demanding an end to this
massive abuse of human rights and isolating the offending nation as it once
isolated South Africa: with a punishing campaign of boycott, divestment, and
'A campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions:'
UN General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto
Brockmann, Nov. 24, 2008
which country was he speaking?
Was it Saudi Arabia, where public facilities are
segregated by sex, and where a pervasive system of gender apartheid denies women the right to drive, to dress as they choose,
to freely marry or divorce, to vote, to appear in public without a male
guardian, or to give testimony on an equal basis with men?
Was it Jordan, where the nationality law
explicitly bars Jews from citizenship and where the sale of land to a Jew was for decades not
only illegal, but punishable by death?
Was it Iran, where homosexuality is a capital crime -- at least 200 Iranian gays were executed last year --
and whose president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, asserted at Columbia
University that there are no homosexuals in Iran?
Was it Sudan, where tens of thousands of black
Africans in the country's southern region, most of them Christians or animists,
have been abducted and sold into slavery by
Arab militias backed by the Islamist regime in Khartoum?
It was none of these. The General Assembly
president, a radical Maryknoll priest who served as Nicaragua's foreign minister
during the Sandinista regime in the 1980s, was not referring to any of the
Middle East's Muslim autocracies and dictatorships, virtually all of which
discriminate against ethnic and religious minorities. He was speaking of the
Jewish state of Israel, the region's lone democracy, and the only one that
guarantees the legal equality of all its citizens -- fully one-fifth of whom are
Muslim and Christian Arabs.
D'Escoto's call for Israel to be shunned as a pariah and strangled
economically came on the UN's Day of
Solidarity with the Palestinian People, an annual occasion
devoted to lamenting the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty in the 20th century,
denouncing the national liberation movement -- Zionism -- that made that rebirth
possible, and championing the cause of the Palestinian Arabs. The event occurs
on or about Nov. 29, the anniversary of the UN vote in 1947 to partition
Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab. There are impassioned
speeches, in which Israel's sins are enumerated and condemned, and the
statelessness of the Palestinians is bewailed. Unmentioned is the fact that
Palestine's Arabs would have had their state 60 years ago had they and the Arab
League not rejected the UN's decision and chosen instead to declare war on the new Jewish
Like so much of what takes place at the UN, the
obsession with demonizing Israel and extolling the Palestinians is grotesque and
Orwellian. More than 1 million Israeli Arabs enjoy civil and political rights unmatched in the Arab world -- yet Israel is accused of repression and
human-rights abuse. Successive Israeli governments have endorsed a two-state solution
-- yet Israel is blasted as the obstacle to peace. The Palestinian Authority
oversees the vilest culture of Jew-hatred
since the Third Reich, and wants all Jews expelled from the land it claims for
itself -- yet Israel is labeled an apartheid state and singled out for
condemnation and ostracism.
Make no mistake: In likening Israel to
apartheid-era South Africa, the UN is engaged not in anti-racism but in
anti-Semitism. In the 1930s, the world's foremost anti-Semites demanded
a boycott of Jewish businesses. Today they demand a boycott of the Jewish
No good German is still buying from a Jew,
announced Hitler's Nazi Party in March 1933. The boycott must be a universal
one . . . and must hit Jewry where it is most vulnerable. Seventy-five years
later, the president of the General Assembly urges the world to throttle
Israel's 6 million Jews with boycott, divestment, and sanctions. There is no
significant difference between the two cases -- or the animus underlying
As usual, Jeff hits the nail on the head. The UN long ago gave up any
claim to legitimacy. This is just one of many examples. But it is a
particularly egregious one.
Simply stated, the UN is dead. Morally, ethically and spiritually
In the absence of these values, maybe I should be relieved that it seems to
be trying its hand at comedy. Consider the alternative.
GUEST COMMENTARY: CHRISTOPHER BOOKER ON OBAMA & GLOBAL WARMING
Christopher Booker of the UK's Daily Telegraph has written about Barack
Obama's "understanding" of the global warming issue.
It is exactly the kind of column people in the USA should see. Not
surprisingly, therefore, it is also the kind of column they will not see in
almost any USA mainstream media.
Here it is. Please read it all, but pay special attention to the
paragraphs in bold print:
President-elect Barack Obama proposes economic
suicide for US
If the holder of the most powerful
office in the world proposed a policy guaranteed to inflict untold damage on his
own country and many others, on the basis of claims so demonstrably fallacious
that they amount to a string of self-deluding lies, we might well be concerned.
The relevance of this is not to President Bush, as some might imagine, but to a
recent policy statement by President-elect Obama.
Tomorrow, delegates from 190 countries will meet
in Poznan, Poland, to pave the way for next year's UN conference in Copenhagen
at which the world will agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate
change. They will see a video of Mr Obama, in only his second major policy
commitment, pledging that America is now about to play the leading role in the
fight to "save the planet" from global warming.
Mr Obama begins by saying that "the
science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear". "Sea levels," he claims,
"are rising, coastlines are shrinking, we've seen record drought, spreading
famine and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane
Far from the science being "beyond
dispute", we can only deduce from this that Mr Obama has believed all he was
told by Al Gore's wondrously batty film An Inconvenient Truth without bothering
to check the facts. Each of these four statements is so wildly at odds with the
truth that on this score alone we should be seriously worried.
It is true that average sea levels are
modestly rising, but no faster than they have been doing for three centuries.
Gore's film may predict a rise this century of 20 feet, but even the UN's
International Panel on Climate Change only predicts a rise of between four and
17 inches. The main focus of alarm here has been the fate of low-lying coral
islands such as the Maldives and Tuvalu.
Around each of these tiny countries,
according to the international Commission on Sea Level Changes and other
studies, sea levels in recent decades have actually fallen. The Indian Ocean was
higher between 1900 and 1970 than it has been since. Satellite measurements show
that since 1993 the sea level around Tuvalu has gone down by four
Coastlines are not "shrinking" except
where land is subsiding, as on the east coast of England, where it has been
doing so for thousands of years. Gore became particularly muddled by this,
pointing to how many times the Thames Barrier has had to be closed in recent
years, unaware that this was more often to keep river water in during droughts
than to stop the sea coming in.
Far from global warming having
increased the number of droughts, the very opposite is the case. The most
comprehensive study (Narisma et al, 2007) showed that, of the 20th century's 30
major drought episodes, 22 were in the first six decades, with only five between
1961 and 1980. The most recent two decades produced just three.
Mr Obama has again been taken in over
hurricanes. Despite a recent press release from the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration claiming that 2008's North Atlantic hurricane season
"set records", even its own release later admits that it only tied as "the fifth
most active" since 1944. NOAA's own graphs show hurricane activity higher in the
1950s than recently. A recent Florida State University study of tropical cyclone
activity across the world (see the Watts Up With That? website) shows a steady
reduction over the past four years.
Alarming though it may be
that the next US President should have fallen for all this claptrap, much more
worrying is what he proposes to do on the basis of such grotesque
misinformation. For a start he plans to introduce a "federal cap and trade
system", a massive "carbon tax", designed to reduce America's CO2 emissions "to
their 1990 levels by 2020 and reduce them an additional 80 per cent by 2050".
Such a target, which would put America ahead of any other country in the world,
could only be achieved by closing down a large part of the US
Mr Obama floats off still further
from reality when he proposes spending $15 billion a year to encourage "clean
energy" sources, such as thousands more wind turbines. He is clearly unaware
that wind energy is so hopelessly ineffective that the 10,000 turbines America
already has, representing "18 gigawatts of installed capacity", only generate
4.5GW of power, less than that supplied by a single giant coal-fired power
He talks blithely of allowing only
"clean" coal-fired power plants, using "carbon capture" - burying the CO2 in
holes in the ground - which would double the price of electricity, but the
technology for which hasn't even yet been developed. He then babbles on about
"generating five million new green jobs". This will presumably consist of hiring
millions of Americans to generate power by running around on treadmills, to
replace all those "dirty" coal-fired power stations which currently supply the
US with half its electricity.
If this sounds like an elaborate
economic suicide note, for what is still the earth's richest nation, it is still
not enough for many environmentalists. Positively foaming at the mouth in The
Guardian last week, George Monbiot claimed that the plight of the planet is now
so grave that even "sensible programmes of the kind Obama proposes are now
irrelevant". The only way to avert the "collapse of human civilisation",
according to the Great Moonbat, would be "the complete decarbonisation of the
global economy soon after 2050".
For 300 years science helped
to turn Western civilisation into the richest and most comfortable the world has
ever seen. Now it seems we have suddenly been plunged into a new age of
superstition, where scientific evidence no longer counts for anything. The fact
that America will soon be ruled by a man wholly under the spell of this
post-scientific hysteria may leave us in wondering despair.
I can only hope that what Obama is doing is lying to his
LAMB (Lunatic-left And Mega-moonbat) base. Given his propensity for lying
during the campaign, that possibility certainly cannot be discounted.
But what if Mr. Obama means it? What if he is serious about these proposals (most of which would
probably pass, given the Democratic majorities in both houses of
congress)? Then, no matter how bad off we are now, we may be in for a
I was very thankful that Al Gore didn't run for President this year.
Who knew we'd elect him anyway?
GEORGE M. DOCHERTY, R.I.P.
He was well intentioned, but (along with Representative Oakman
and President Eisenhower), wrong.
I am referring to George M. Docherty, who more than any other non-politician
was responsible for the addition of "under God" to the pledge of
Here is the story, from the Associated Press:
Pastor who helped get "under God" in Pledge
Nov 29, 3:17 PM
Pa. (AP) - The Rev. George M. Docherty, credited with helping to push Congress
to insert the phrase "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance, has died at
Docherty died on Thanksgiving at
his home in central Pennsylvania, according to his wife, Sue Docherty.
She said her husband of 36 years
had been in failing health for about three years.
"George said he was going to live
to be a hundred and he was determined," she said in a telephone interview
Saturday. "It's amazing that he was with us this long."
Docherty, then pastor of the New
York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, just blocks from the White
House, gave a sermon in 1952 saying the pledge should acknowledge God.
He was born in Glasgow, Scotland,
and was unfamiliar with the pledge until he heard it recited by his 7-year-old
"I didn't know that the Pledge of
Allegiance was, and he recited it, 'one nation, indivisible, with liberty and
justice for all,'" he recalled in an interview with The Associated Press in
2004. "I came from Scotland, where we said 'God save our gracious queen,"God
save our gracious king.' Here was the Pledge of Allegiance, and God wasn't in
it at all."
There was little effect from that
initial sermon, but he delivered it again on Feb. 7, 1954, after learning that
President Dwight Eisenhower would be at the church.
The next day, Rep. Charles
G. Oakman, R-Mich., introduced a bill to add the phrase "under God" to the
pledge, and a companion bill was introduced in the Senate. Eisenhower signed
the law on Flag Day that year.
I have no problem with people believing in God. I have no problem with
people saying "Merry Christmas" and I have no problem with Christmas trees,
menorahs or other religious symbols in public places.
But inserting "under God" in the pledge of allegiance is a first
amendment-buster if ever there was one. It is the government
sanctioning religion, plain and simple. And that's not supposed to
So I respect Mr. Docherty and wish for him to rest in peace. But I also
wish he'd have given a different sermon that day and Oakman and Eisenhower
had found something more appropriate to enact into law.