Recently in Iraq Category

AMERICA'S BETRAYALS MOUNT

More and more it looks as if Obama is returning to his Islamic roots and his Marxist upbringing. Bowing to the monarch of the Land of the Two Holy Places, extending his hand to Iran and endangering Israel's existence while destroying America's entrepreneurial economy couldn't be clearer signals, In befriending America's enemies, Obama is siding with those who have allied against America and the West for more than a century -- Russia and Islam. The Bolsheviks and Soviets supported Islam's goal of world supremacy for decades and they are united once again.

America's enemies are rejoicing as America's allies are betrayed.

But Americans are the principal losers.

Surviving in Obama's Post-American World

By Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post

Like it or not, the United States of America is no longer the world's policeman. This was the message of Barack Obama's presidential journey to Britain, France, the Czech Republic, Turkey and Iraq this past week.

Somewhere between apologizing for American history - both distant and recent; genuflecting before the unelected, bigoted king of Saudi Arabia; announcing that he will slash the US's nuclear arsenal, scrap much of America's missile defense programs and emasculate the US Navy; leaving Japan to face North Korea and China alone; telling the Czechs, Poles and their fellow former Soviet colonies, "Don't worry, be happy," as he leaves them to Moscow's tender mercies; humiliating Iraq's leaders while kowtowing to Iran; preparing for an open confrontation with Israel; and thanking Islam for its great contribution to American history, President Obama made clear to the world's aggressors that America will not be confronting them for the foreseeable future.

Whether they are aggressors like Russia, proliferators like North Korea, terror exporters like nuclear-armed Pakistan or would-be genocidal-terror-supporting nuclear states like Iran, today, under the new administration, none of them has any reason to fear Washington.

This news is music to the ears of the American Left and their friends in Europe. Obama's supporters like billionaire George Soros couldn't be more excited at the self-induced demise of the American superpower. CNN's former (anti-)Israel bureau chief Walter Rodgers wrote ecstatically in the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday, "America's... superpower status, is being downgraded as rapidly as its economy."

The pro-Obama US and European media are so pleased with America's abdication of power that they took the rare step of applauding Obama at his press conference in London. Indeed, the media's enthusiasm for Obama appeared to grow with each presidential statement of contrition for America's past uses of force, each savage attack he leveled against his predecessor George W. Bush, each swipe he took at Israel, and each statement of gratitude for the blessings of Islam he uttered.

But while the media couldn't get enough of the new US leader, America's most stable allies worldwide began a desperate search for a reset button that would cause the administration to take back its abandonment of America's role as the protector of the free world.

Continue reading . . .

IRAQ TURNS AWAY FROM ISLAMIC-LED POLITICS

Despite the evil still stalking the innocent in Iraq in the name of Islam, Iraq itself has achieved a significant victory over the dark forces inhabiting and shaping that country for centuries. Charles Krauthammer expresses his dismay that the President of the United States paid it little heed ("shockingly detached and ungenerous" in his perfunctory remarks), even though the Iraqi success provides the United States with some real hope that progress can be indeed made to change the culture of violence and hatred that has been endemic in the Middle East. Krauthammer explains:


Iraq: Good News Is No News

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, February 13, 2009; Washington Post

Preoccupied as it was poring over Tom Daschle's tax returns, Washington hardly noticed a near-miracle abroad. Iraq held provincial elections. There was no Election Day violence. Security was handled by Iraqi forces with little U.S. involvement. A fabulous bazaar of 14,400 candidates representing 400 parties participated, yielding results highly favorable to both Iraq and the United States.

Iraq moved away from religious sectarianism toward more secular nationalism. "All the parties that had the words 'Islamic' or 'Arab' in their names lost," noted Middle East expert Amir Taheri. "By contrast, all those that had the words 'Iraq' or 'Iraqi' gained."

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki went from leader of a small Islamic party to leader of the "State of Law Party," campaigning on security and secular nationalism. He won a smashing victory. His chief rival, a more sectarian and pro-Iranian Shiite religious party, was devastated. Another major Islamic party, the pro-Iranian Sadr faction, went from 11 percent of the vote to 3 percent, losing badly in its stronghold of Baghdad. The Islamic Fadhila party that had dominated Basra was almost wiped out.

The once-dominant Sunni party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and the erstwhile insurgency was badly set back. New grass-roots tribal ("Awakening") and secular Sunni leaders emerged.

All this barely pierced the consciousness of official Washington. After all, it fundamentally contradicts the general establishment/media narrative of Iraq as "fiasco."

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LOOKING AHEAD: REPUBLICAN CHALLENGES

The Wall Street Journal reported on a new poll on what voters think of Republicans. Steve Moore for the WSJ reports with our italicized comments interspersed:

The first comprehensive poll on why voters voted the way they did in November has just been released by the communications firm Target Point Consulting. I received a full briefing from the pollster Alex Lundry on what these 1,000 voters think of Republicans. The short answer is: not much.

The GOP is "in great disfavor with the electorate right now. Republicans are blamed for fiscal mismanagement, overspending, and the bad economy," says Mr. Lundry.

Fiscal mismanagement when in office. Absolutely. Overspending. Absolutely. The bad economy. The burden of the party with executive power, the prior "good" economic times forgotten -- and the media never even acknowledged those good times when they were happening. As for the worldwide financial crisis we are experiencing, this was triggered by Democrats and Democratic policies on housing that Republicans unsuccessfully tried to change, but the media didn't report it that way and the fast-talking Democrats were quicker and better at pointing the finger than the Republicans -- a key Republican failing.

"Democrats are seen as a center-right party, while Republicans are seen as dominated by the right." That's a big problem because even though 84% of voters say they are center or right on the ideological spectrum, the 48% in the middle, i.e., independents, are tilting heavily toward Democrats.

This view is so hilariously wrong but nonetheless extremely disturbing. That voters think Democrats are "center-right" seems impossible, considering they nominated the most far-left senator in the party who advocates a "spread the wealth around" policy is astounding and fast-talking liberals like Barney Frank are praising expanded welfare. It shows the skill of Democratic PR aided by the left wing mainstream media. For example, the myth that man is responsible for climate change, a concept embraced by the Democratic Party, and will require actions that will thrust millions into poverty, is deemed reasonable and mainstream by the media. The Republican position that growth of the world economy is paramount and man's impact on climate is either minimal or altogether unproven is deemed by the media as extreme far-right thinking. That such false impressions have developed is proof of Republican ineptness in the age of instant media.

The fairly narrow victory by Barack Obama in the popular vote disguises an "enthusiasm gap" among Democratic and Republican voters. Some 65% of Obama voters "strongly supported" him, whereas only 33% of John McCain voters "strongly supported" the Arizona Republican. This helps explain the river of money for Mr. Obama and the massive grassroots advantage for the Democrats.

This isn't such a big problem for the long run. Voters "wanted" the first black president to show they weren't racist and Obama fanned that feeling skillfully if despicably by unfounded but effective charges of racism against Clinton and McCain. Also, McCain wasn't much of a conservative and left too many in the base sitting on their hands.

Issue by issue, when the issues are clearly understood, the Republican positions are held by a substantial majority. Telling the story well with credible spokesmen is what's needed. The handicap of the left-wing media -- and what Sam Huntington called the "de-nationalized elites" in academia and elsewhere -- is a fact that has to be addressed in all communication plans. For example, when Democrats and the elites belittle traditional American ethics and morality, patriotism and military service, and Republicans allow them to get away with it, they are missing huge opportunities. Republicans have not been forceful enough in standing up for positions that a majority of Americans agree with, fearing the backlash from the leftwing media. For example, the left wing attacks aggressively on the extreme position on gay marriage, crying "bigotry" and "denial of civil rights," and conservative spokesmen cringe instead of issuing forceful rejoinders, even though the majority of people vote for the traditional concept of marriage. But if conservaties allow the one-sided debate to continue as it is, conservative positions will be eroded, to the vast injury of American society. "Anything goes" is not an American value.

But the biggest problem revealed by the poll for Republicans is that "voters no longer believe that the party cares about the middle class in a meaningful or credible way," Mr. Lundry explains. "Democrats cleverly frame every issue as for the middle class."

Most everybody thinks they belong to the middle class. Democrats though are aiming to solidify their voting support among Americans who will be delighted with handouts from the government. The more they can make people dependent on government, the larger their support base. This is the age-old struggle between Marxist equality of outcome vs. equality of opportunity that this nation was built on. Rob Peter to pay Paul. The nation is very close to having more Pauls than Peters, since so many now pay no income tax. Consequently, they have no regard for Peter, who is the middle class person footing the government bills. This is a huge problem and Obama with his pledge to "spread the wealth" will make it worse. He would transform our society into a European-style one, which is already staggering under its unsustainable socialist burdens.

What issues have Republicans hurt themselves most on? Three that jump out are immigration, where Republicans are seen as too strident; the War in Iraq, where voters are eager for closure; and bailouts, where voters have become angry and resentful at throwing money at failing giant corporations. Furthermore, as economic anxieties have escalated, independent voters are now more favorably inclined toward protectionist trade policies. Free marketeers need to make a better case for the positive benefits of international trade or more restrictions are certainly on the way.

The statements here are questionable. Overwhelmingly, Americans disapproved of all the proposed immigration plans, including McCain's and the President's. No sensible conservative proposal entered the debate; conservatives only operated at the margins or, with Tom Tancredo, at the extreme. The borders must be made secure, first and foremost. Any path to citizenship must include English and thorough Americanization and assimilation, so that the kinds of separatism and hostility shown by La Raza and the pro-Mexico rallies in Los Angeles would be disqualifying for citizenship and permanent residency. Legal immigration should be based on what America needs by way of skills rather than on family relations.

As for the economic problems and the bailouts, again it is Republican failure to characterize the situation accurately that allowed the Democrats and the media to blame the Republicans, especially the Bush Administration. Democrats instantly blamed Bush and Wall Street, when it was Democrats like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and, yes, Barack Obama, who brought on the subprime loan failure fiasco that triggered the world financial panic. To this day how many average voters knew of Bush and Senate Republican efforts to reverse Clinton subprime loan policies and rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that were blocked by Democrats led by Frank and Dodd and supported by Senator Obama? As for pinning Wall Street on the Republicans, that's a joke: Obama raised several times more money from Wall Street than McCain did. Republicans are for small business and entrepreneurship, not "Wall Street greed," greed that feeds Democratic coffers very generously. President Bush has often been faulted for not responding forcefully to criticism, fair and unfair, and in that respect he did serve the country and conservatism well. Unfortunately, Congress at this time doesn't have impressive Republican spokesmen to make the case, either.

Democrats and the leftwing media did a disservice to the country by politicizing the Iraq war. However, it will fade as any kind of positive issue for the Democrats and should emerge as a success that Republicans can take credit for - a tyrant and his threat to his neighbors and America removed, a democratic country functioning in the Middle East assisting in the war against violent Islam and, soon, substantially more oil in the world supply. A more aggressive response by the White House to the avalanche of Democratic criticism would have helped.

The good news is that voters are very fearful that Democrats will go too far with their liberal agenda. When voters are asked what they "like least about the Democrats," the most common answers volunteered were: "taxes going up," "big government," "liberal," "raise spending," and even "socialism." These broad economic and fiscal principles appear to present the GOP with its biggest opening.

Again, these Democratic positions will not become the albatrosses they should be unless Republicans are forceful and aggressive. They must find their voices and their spokesmen. Also, the damage that the global warning myth and the economically disastrous Democratic plans to counter it will do to the average citizen must be aggressivley exposed and discredited. This is a major issue to get on the side of the middle class against the environmental elites who own the Democratic Party.

The poll also reveals that Republicans can win back voters by opposing Democrats on several specific policies coming down the pike in 2009: card-check labor union elections, bailouts for banks and auto makers, welfare expansions and affirmative action.

Denying workers the vote in union elections is outrageous. Bailing out the auto unions, which is what will happen, is outrageous. Explaining why getting a hand up instead of a handout is better for the individual, the family and America is a challenge but must be done. As for affirmative action, the voters have just elected the first affirmative action president, so, who knows how big an issue that will be.

The key for the months ahead is for Republicans to posture themselves, advises Mr. Lundry, "not as obstructionists, but as a check on the Obama agenda."

Too many are being lulled by Obama's excellent appointment for defense and economics into thinking he will go mainstream. He will show his extremist side very soon: His pro-abortion agenda is breathtaking in its scope. He intends to expand abortion far beyond Roe v. Wade. Even some of his backers are arguing that infanticide is just an extension of abortion. His "spread the wealth" plan has the potential to expand the handout class into a majority for the Democratic Party. There are many, including minorities, particularly Hispanics, who may rebel against his cultural policies who can be captured for the conservative cause. Obama says he wants to transform America and what he is proposing, based on his Marxist socialist background and associations and his support for abortion without limits, is an ugly America.

IRAQ: A SUCCESS STORY

Secretary of State Rice on the Sunday morning talk shows stated the obvious which the Bush-blind media don't seem to see:

[T]he overthrow of Saddam Hussein is going to turn out to be a great strategic achievement," Rice said on Fox. "Not just for the Bush administration, but for the United States of America."

"You now have a young, democratic, multi-ethnic, multi-confessional Iraq that has just signed a historic agreement with the United States establishing a long-term relationship, as well as a Strategic Forces Agreement to allow American forces to help them finish the job," she added. "That's a trade up. And you now have an Iraq that's at the center of the Middle East, that's a bulwark against Iran, without the tremendous downsides that came with the murderous and aggressive regime of Saddam Hussein."

Charles Krauthammer said it even better.

Columnist Charles Krauthammer points out tha the American and Iraqi success in hammering out an agreement on military and strategic cooperation is an extraordinary achievement. "It constitutes our best hope for the kind of fundamental political-cultural change in the Arab sphere that alone will bring about the defeat of Islamic extremism." He explains why this is so:

A self-sustaining, democratic and pro-American Iraq is within our reach. It would have two hugely important effects in the region.

First, it would constitute a major defeat for Tehran, the putative winner of the Iraq war, according to the smart set. Iran's client, Moqtada al-Sadr, still hiding in Iran, was visibly marginalized in parliament -- after being militarily humiliated in Basra and Baghdad by the new Iraqi security forces. Moreover, the major religious Shiite parties were the ones that negotiated, promoted and assured passage of the strategic alliance with the United States, against the most determined Iranian opposition.

Second is the regional effect of the new political entity on display in Baghdad -- a flawed yet functioning democratic polity with unprecedented free speech, free elections and freely competing parliamentary factions. For this to happen in the most important Arab country besides Egypt can, over time (over generational time, the time scale of the war on terror), alter the evolution of Arab society. It constitutes our best hope for the kind of fundamental political-cultural change in the Arab sphere that alone will bring about the defeat of Islamic extremism. After all, newly sovereign Iraq is today more engaged in the fight against Arab radicalism than any country on earth, save the United States -- with which, mirabile dictu, it has now thrown in its lot.

Read it all.

Not only has President Bush kept the nation safe for eight years, which Mumbai reminds us is no easy task, he has planted the tree of liberty in the heart of the Islamic world. May it grow in numbers.

libertytreephotoboston.jpg

-- Symbol of Sons of Liberty, Boston, 1765

Obama in Iraq violated the golden rule that the opposition party does not question or interfere with negotiations being conducted with a foreign government, especially while in that country. Ted Kennedy observes the rule, so did Ronald Reagan and so does Hillary Clinton. No wonder the Iraqis were astonished when Obama suggested that negotiations between the Iraqis and the U.S. ought to wait until after the presidential elections. While at home Obama was talking about withdrawal of forces from Iraq just as soon as possible, he was doing the oppositte in private in Iraq, in effect urging Iraqis to delay any agreements with respect to withdrawals from Iraq or the status of forces in Iraq until after the new president was sworn in.


September 19, 2008,

Obama 101
My firsthand lesson
National Review Online
By Amir Taheri


On Monday, in an opinion piece published in the New York Post, I suggested that Senator Barack Obama had urged Iraqi leaders to postpone making an agreement with the United States until there was a new administration in Washington.

I said this because Obama himself had said it.

In an interview broadcast by NBC on June 16, 2008, Obama said that he had told Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari that “the Congress should be involved in any negotiations regarding the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq” and “suggested it may be better to wait until the next administration to negotiate such an agreement.”

I said it because Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said it.

In an interview published by the pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawast on September 11, 2008, Zebari raised the issue at length. This is part of what he said: “Obama asked me why, in view of a change of administration, we were hurrying the signing of this special agreement, and why we did not wait until the coming of a new administration next year to agree on some issues and matters.”

I said it because my Iraqi sources, who asked not to be identified because they do not wish to pick a quarrel with someone who could be the President of the United States next year, said it.

A day after my op-ed was published, Obama’s campaign issued a statement, in effect confirming what I had said.

It said, in part, “Senator Obama has consistently said that any security arrangements that outlast this administration should have the backing of the US Congress — especially given the fact that the Iraqi parliament will have the opportunity to vote on it.”

On Wednesday, the senator issued another statement — also in response to my op-ed — denying that he had ever opposed “a redeployment and responsible drawdown” of U.S. forces in Iraq. But I never said he did. I also never said that he opposed motherhood and apple pie; In any case, no one would oppose “redeployment and responsible drawdown,” something that is happening all the time. Redeployment means moving some units from one location to another. Drawdown means reducing the size of the expeditionary force in accordance with the task at hand. Right now troops are being redeployed from Anbar province to Salahuddin. There is also drawdown: The number of U.S. troops has been drawn down to 136,000, the lowest since a peak of 170,000 in 2003.

What Obama hopes his more radical followers will not notice is that he is no longer speaking of “withdrawal.”

He also hopes to hide the fact that by telling the Iraqi leaders that a putative Obama administration might scrap agreements reached with the Bush team, he might have delayed the start of a process that should lead to a withdrawal of U.S. forces within a mutually agreed timeframe. The later you start the negotiating process, the later you get an agreement. And the later you have an agreement, the later you can withdraw your troops based on the agreed necessary security arrangements to ensure their safe departure.

By trying to second-guess the present administration in its negotiations with Iraq, Obama ignored a golden rule of American politics. I first learned about that rule from Senator Edward Kennedy more than 30 years ago. During a visit to Tehran, Kennedy received a few Iranian reporters for a poolside chat. The big question at the time was negotiations between Washington and Tehran about massive arms contracts. When we asked Kennedy what he thought of those negotiations, his answer was simple: He would not comment on negotiations between his government and a foreign power, especially when abroad. That, he said, was one of the golden rules of American politics.

A few years later, I spent a day with Ronald Reagan during his visit to Iran. I asked what he thought of the strategic arms limitation talks between the U.S. and the USSR. He echoed Kennedy’s golden rule: He would not comment on his government’s negotiations with a foreign power, especially when abroad.

A couple of years ago, I ran into that golden rule again. At a meeting with Senator Hillary Clinton in Washington, I asked what she thought of the Bush administration’s negotiations with the Iraqis concerning security cooperation. She said she would not second-guess the president and would wait for the outcome of the negotiations. In a statesmanlike manner, Senator Clinton reminded me of the golden rule—one that is common to all mature democracies where the opposition is loyal and constitutional.

Today, Senator Obama is the leader of a loyal opposition in the United States, not the chief of an insurrection or a revolutionary uprising. What we are witnessing in the U.S. is an election, not an insurrection or a coronation, even less a regime change.

Obama should not have discussed the government-to-government negotiations with the Iraqis. That he did, surprised the Iraqis no end. Raising the issue with them, especially the way he did, meant that he was telling them that he did not trust his own government. The Iraqis could not be blamed for wondering why they should trust a government that is not trusted by the leader of its own loyal opposition. (There was also no point in raising the matter, because Obama did not know the content of the negotiations.)

An opposition leader’s foreign trips are useful as fact-finding missions. This means that the opposition leader listens to the locals, asks questions, and tries to get the political feel of the place. He is not there to lecture the natives or bad-mouth his own government back home.

Obama might have attended a session of the new Iraqi parliament and congratulated the people of Iraq for defying death to go through one referendum and two general elections to build a new democracy.

He might have visited some of the good work done by over 1.2 million Americans, both military and civilian, who have heroically served in Iraq since its liberation.

He might have visited some of the wounded victims of terrorism, both U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians, to comfort them, and assure them of continued U.S. determination to fight the forces of evil.

He did none of those things during his eight-hour photo-op visit.

In the American system, the administration can conclude agreements with foreign powers on a range of issues backed by an executive order from the president. I am no expert, but the U.S. has signed scores, maybe hundreds of such agreements with many countries across the globe. To be sure, the U.S. legislature always has the power to seek the abrogation of any of these agreements. When it comes to treaties, however, they cannot come into effect without full Senate approval.

However, Iraq and the U.S. are not negotiating a treaty, and, if they were, Obama could have waited until the draft text was submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by his vice-presidential running mate Joseph Biden.

In any case, every agreement and every treaty contains mechanisms for its suspension or abrogation. Therefore, even supposing Bush was negotiating an absolutely terrible agreement with the Iraqis in which he would be selling the family silver, Obama should have waited until he saw the text, and then demanded the cancellation of the accord through the constitutional channels.

One key feature of all mature powers, at least since the Congress of Vienna, is the reliability of their international commitments. Even putschists who seize power in a military coup make sure that their first pronunciamento includes this key sentence: We shall honor all of our country’s international obligations and commitments. Even regime change does not absolve states from their international obligations. The new Iraqi government, for example, has not rejected the estimated $100 billion in foreign debt left by Saddam Hussein.

Instances of a state reneging on all its obligations as a result of change are rare in history. One instance came in 1918 when Trotsky, appointed Commissar for Foreign Affairs by Lenin, announced that he had abrogated all of Tsarist Russia’s treaties with foreign nations and ordered the texts burned to heat the rooms of an empty foreign ministry.

What Obama was attempting, however, was more original. It amounted to preemptive diplomacy used against one’s own government: opposing an agreement not yet negotiated and of the content of which he knew nothing. A neophyte in matters of politics and diplomacy, the young senator is certainly not wanting for originality.

Since I do not wish to become involved in an Alphonse-and-Gaston number with Obama, I suggest that we focus our attention on the fact that the nominee is left without anything resembling a policy on Iraq. So, rather than coming out with another denial of something I never said that he had done, the esteemed senator should ponder these questions:

Does he still believe that toppling Saddam Hussein was illegal and “the biggest strategic blunder in U.S. history”? If yes, we might wonder why he is prepared to deal with the new Iraqi leaders who, by definition, have usurped Hussein’s power in Baghdad with American support.

Does he still want to withdraw from Iraq or does he want to stay, doing a bit of “drawdown” and “redeployment” every now and then? And, if he wants to stay, on what basis, for what purpose, and for how long?

Is Senator Biden’s plan to carve Iraq into three separate states still a live option or has it been thrown into the dustbin where it should have been from the start?

Would Obama now support the conclusion of a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and a Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) through negotiations between the Bush administration and the Iraqi administration of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, also a “lame duck,” as it faces elections early next year?

— Amir Taheri’s new book, The Persian Night: Iran Under the Khomeinist Revolution, is due for publication in November.

DEXTER FILKINS RETURNS TO BAGHDAD

Despite its sad collapse as an objective source for news, the New York Times still employs honest reporters hired during its days as the nation's leading newspaper. Dexter Filkins is one of those, often described as one of the outstanding war reporters of our times, This is from a recent piece (HT:Jonah Goldberg):

BAGHDAD — At first, I didn’t recognize the place.

On Karada Mariam, a street that runs over the Tigris River toward the Green Zone, the Serwan and the Zamboor, two kebab places blown up by suicide bombers in 2006, were crammed with customers. Farther up the street was Pizza Napoli, the Italian place shut down in 2006; it, too, was open for business. And I’d forgotten altogether about Abu Nashwan’s Wine Shop, boarded up when the black-suited militiamen of the Mahdi Army had threatened to kill its owners. There it was, flung open to the world.

Two years ago, when I last stayed in Baghdad, Karada Mariam was like the whole of the city: shuttered, shattered, broken and dead.

Abu Nawas Park — I didn’t recognize that, either. By the time I had left the country in August 2006, the two-mile stretch of riverside park was a grim, spooky, deserted place, a symbol for the dying city that Baghdad had become.

These days, the same park is filled with people: families with children, women in jeans, women walking alone. Even the nighttime, when Iraqis used to cower inside their homes, no longer scares them. I can hear their laughter wafting from the park. At sundown the other day, I had to weave my way through perhaps 2,000 people. It was an astonishing, beautiful scene — impossible, incomprehensible, only months ago.

When I left Baghdad two years ago, the nation’s social fabric seemed too shredded to ever come together again. The very worst had lost its power to shock. To return now is to be jarred in the oddest way possible: by the normal, by the pleasant, even by hope. The questions are jarring, too. Is it really different now? Is this something like peace or victory? And, if so, for whom: the Americans or the Iraqis?

There are plenty of reasons why this peace may only amount to a cease-fire, fragile and reversible. The “surge” of American troops is over. The Iraqis are moving to take their country back, yet they wonder what might happen when the Americans’ restraining presence is gone. The Awakening, a poetic name for paying former Sunni insurgents not to kill Americans or Iraqis, could fall apart, just as the Shiite Mahdi Army could reanimate itself as quickly as it disappeared. Politics in Iraq remains frozen in sectarian stalemate; the country’s leaders cannot even agree to set a date for provincial elections, which might hand power to groups that never had it before. The mountain of oil money, piled ever higher by record oil prices, may become another reason to spill blood.

But if this is not peace, it is not war, either — at least not the war I knew. When I left Iraq in the summer of 2006, after living three and a half years here following the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, I believed that evil had triumphed, and that it would be many years before it might be stopped. Iraq, filled with so many people living so close together, nurturing dark and unknowable grievances, seemed destined for a ghastly unraveling.

And now, in the late summer of 2008, comes the calm. Violence has dropped by as much as 90 percent. A handful of the five million Iraqis who fled their homes — one-sixth of all Iraqis — are beginning to return. The mornings, once punctuated by the sounds of exploding bombs, are still. Is it possible that the rage, the thirst for revenge, the sectarian furies, have begun to fade? That Iraqis have been exhausted and frightened by what they have seen?

Every day we see how corrupt the media has become, from the New York Times, the Washington Post (sad to say, except for parts of its editorial pages), Newsweek, Time and so on. They can't do enough to trash McCain and Palin and won't do anything to unveil the carefully hidden Obama, the Chicago Democratic machine pol who rose to prominence on his soaring oratory despite his disturbing history (which of course no one has been told about).

No one dared -- or wanted to -- look behind the screen, afraid of or nervous about what they would find. So the 13 year association wth terrorist bomber William Ayers, why Obama bonded with Jeremiah Wright, why Tony Rezko, convicted of political corruption, raised $250,000 for Obama, remain unexplored.

And then there is "Bush lied." WMDs, you name it. Illustrative is a report that came across the Associated Press wire on July 5, 2008 that disappeared as quickly as if it were water in the Saudi desert. The Investor's Business Daily, a lonely voice, noticed. What do you know? Saddam had half a billion tons of yellowcake stashed away ready to be used when his friends got the UN restrictions lifted. Corruption ruled in the rest of the media, which ignored its duty to the public to report the news.


Saddam's Nukes

By Investor's Business Daily
Monday, July 07, 2008 4:20 PM PT

WMD: Hear about the 550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium found in Iraq? No? Why should you? It doesn't fit the media's neat story line that Saddam Hussein's Iraq posed no nuclear threat when we invaded in 2003.

It's a little known fact that, after invading Iraq in 2003, the U.S. found massive amounts of uranium yellowcake, the stuff that can be refined into nuclear weapons or nuclear fuel, at a facility in Tuwaitha outside of Baghdad.

In recent weeks, the U.S. secretly has helped the Iraqi government ship it all to Canada, where it was bought by a Canadian company for further processing into nuclear fuel — thus keeping it from potential use by terrorists or unsavory regimes in the region.

This has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media. Yet, as the AP reported, this marks a "significant step toward closing the books on Saddam's nuclear legacy."
Seems to us this should be big news.

After all, much of the early opposition to the war in Iraq involved claims that President Bush "lied" about weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam posed little if any nuclear threat to the U.S.

This more or less proves Saddam in 2003 had a program on hold for building WMD and that he planned to boot it up again soon.

This is clear, since Saddam acquired most of his uranium before 1991, but still had it in 2003, when invading U.S. troops found the stuff. (The International Atomic Energy Agency seems to have known about the yellowcake in the 1990s, but did nothing to force Saddam to get rid of it. It's duplicating its error today with Iran and North Korea).

That means Saddam held onto it for more than a decade. Why? He hoped to wait out U.N. sanctions on Iraq and start his WMD program anew. This would seem to vindicate Bush's decision to invade.

The American Thinker Web site reported four years ago on the scary math behind Saddam's uranium hoard: 500 tons of yellowcake, once refined, could make 142 nuclear weapons.

But yellowcake wasn't all they found at Tuwaitha. According to the AP, the military also discovered "four devices for controlled radiation exposure . . . that could potentially be used in a weapon."

By the way, this should put to rest the canard peddled by the American left and by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson that "Bush lied" about Iraq seeking yellowcake from the African country of Niger.

Given what we know, including comments by officials in Niger's government, Iraq did make overtures to buy uranium. And it's quite possible all or part of the 550 tons came from there.

What's more, if Bush hadn't acted, we might today see a nuclear Iraq, an Iran on the way to having a weapon, Libya with an expanded nuclear program, and Syria — with its close ties to Saddam — on the way to having a nuke.

Of equal concern is why the media ignored this good news coming from Iraq. It seems to be of a piece with how they've treated other recent positive developments in Iraq.
We ask again — why aren't you seeing and hearing more about this? The reason is simple: The mainstream media find it inconveniently contradicts the story they have been telling you for years.

A shocking report out of Iraq reveals that Obama during his visit there asked the Iraqi government to delay any agreement on troop withdrawal until after the election and the installation of a new adminisration. Iranian exile Amir Taheri writing in the New York Post reports (HT: Power Line):

Amir Taheri details what he believes is Barack Obama's sorry record of double-dealing on Iraq:

WHILE campaigning in public for a speedy withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, Sen. Barack Obama has tried in private to persuade Iraqi leaders to delay an agreement on a draw-down of the American military presence. According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, Obama made his demand for delay a key theme of his discussions with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad in July.

"He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the US elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington," Zebari said in an interview.

Power Line's John Hinderaker nails it for what it is:

This is shocking, although, coming from Obama, not surprising. It's not just that he has tried, in private, to achieve the exact opposite result from the one he has advocated in public. Worse, Obama has in effect tried to conduct his own foreign policy as a President-in-waiting, thereby undermining the actual foreign policy of the United States
[I]f what Taheri says is right, Obama is carrying out his own foreign policy, in opposition not only to his own stated position on Iraq, but in opposition to the foreign policy of the United States, with a view toward bringing about failure, not success, in Iraq. Nice.

For the Tahiri article, click here. For Power Line's take on it, click here.

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