Thursday, September 18, 2014
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The New York Times today explores China's invasion of Afghanistan -- commercial invasion, that is -- centered on a $3.4 billion Chinese government copper mining venture that, in addition to the copper mine, is supposed to include new coal mining, power plants, road building, school building and (local sweetener) mosque building. Whether these grand plans all come to pass, the point is this:

While the United States spends hundreds of billions of dollars fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda here, China is securing raw material for its voracious economy. The world’s superpower is focused on security. Its fastest rising competitor concentrates on commerce.

S. Frederick Starr, the chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, an independent research organization in Washington, said that skeptics...

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"Why Does Interpol Need Immunity from American Law?" is the question Andy McCarthy asks in commenting on the Executive Order that President Obama issued on December 17 to lift restraints on the international police agency. Andy goes on to describe these restraints first put in place in 1983 by President Reagan to bring Interpol under key aspects of American law when investigating Americans and American interests:

Specifically, Interpol's property and assets remained subject to search and seizure, and its archived records remained subject to public scrutiny under provisions like the Freedom of Information Act. Being constrained by the Fourth Amendment, FOIA, and other limitations...

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Photo: Dan "It wasn't supposed to be that way" Senor with some of the guys in June 2003.

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Belowis the second part of a three-column series assessing the benefit, gain, outcome of six-plus American years in Iraq as we rev up to do it all over again in Afghanistan -- only with much more exciting logistics.

The column:

So much for the lack of post-surge U.S. business benefits in Iraq, as I wrote last week. Now, what kind of post-surge ally is Iraq?

No kind.

I write in wonder that the ultimate failures of the surge strategy -- which include the failure of anything resembling a U.S. ally to emerge in post-Saddam Iraq -- have never entered national discourse. Rather,...

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My destination for the next few days. Happy Christmas to all!



This week's syndicated column is the first in a series on the impact of the Iraq "surge" strategy:

The main reason the "surge" in Afghanistan is on is because the conventional wisdom tells us the "surge" in Iraq "worked."

The problem is, the Iraq surge did not work. Yes, the U.S. military perfectly executed its share of the strategy -- the restoration of some semblance of calm to blood-gushing Mesopotamian society -- but that was only Step One. The end-goal of the surge strategy, Step Two was always out of U.S. control -- a fundamental flaw. Step Two was up to the Iraqis: namely, to take the opportunity afforded by U.S.-provided security (Step One) to bring about both "national reconciliation" and, as the powers-that-were further promised,...

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Here "the people" are, mainly university students, burning Prez Obama in effigy in Kabul in October. "Focus on the people of this country," Adm Mullen urges his troops. OK. How 'bout if he goes first?

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Via the AP:

FORWARD OPERATING BASE FRONTENAC, Afghanistan — The top U.S. military officer on Thursday visited the front lines of the war in Afghanistan, where he advised troops to "focus on the people of this country."

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made his first stop at a small base where U.S. forces have taken heavy losses since arriving in August. The Army's 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry has suffered 21 killed and 40 wounded — out of a group of roughly 800 — in the short time it has been deployed.

But troops have also made inroads against Taliban supply lines in the critical Kandahar province.

Mullen told the troops that the way to win is to focus on protecting major population areas and ensuring that Afghans can move freely in their own country.

...

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Via Bloomberg:

Iraq must free itself from Iranian influence through national elections in order to preserve its sovereignty, an Iraqi lawmaker said.

“Our compass is clear,” Ayad Jamal Aldin, whose Ahrar party is contesting parliamentary seats in the nationwide vote set for March 7, said today in an interview in London. “The real danger in Iraq is Iran. It controls Iraq with a firm fist.”

Senior U.S. officials repeatedly have accused Iran of fomenting violence in Iraq by equipping and financing militants who have killed American forces. The number two U.S. commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Charles Jacoby, yesterday said that he has detected Iran’s sway in Iraq’s political, military and economic domains.

...

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Shocked: Mustafa Abu Maryam, the youth pastor at the Islamic Circle of North America Mosque, center, listens to comments by Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society, during a news conference about the Pakistan Five in Alexandria, Va., Friday, Dec. 11, 2009. At left is mosque spokesman Essam Tellawi

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The pattern is set. 1) A member of an Islamic community making his way to jihad becomes a story. 2) Islamic community spokesmen expressing shock becomes another story. 3) End of story.

Whether it's the Army's Hasan and his killing spree or Northern Virginia's five jihadis and their capture, the pattern is always the same. Islamic inspired event. Islamic feigned wonderment. Total media incuriosity and reliance on propaganda put over by known hostile actors and groups. That's the way the mainstream...

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Hey, Arlington educators: Debate this!

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The story below is typical of what happens, as I argue in The Death of the Grown-Up, in a society when there are no boundaries: Nothing is beyond the pale.

Fortunately, not absolutely everyone agrees. Bravo to the citizen who said no.

From the Washington Post: "School Cancels Taliban Debate"

A principal in Arlington County announced Monday that she will call off an assignment that asked students to represent the views of the Taliban during a mock United Nations after some parents called it inappropriate.

An e-mail sent to parents of eighth-graders at Swanson Middle School from Principal Chrystal Forrester and two teachers said the assignment was "clearly a bad choice for a debate topic."

"Recognizing the pain that has touched many of our families and neighbors due to the terrorist...

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Scott and Vicki Behenna write in with an update on the ongoing and even promising efforts to free their son Michael, whom I have written about here and here. They write:

Merry Christmas to the many friends and supporters of Michael, An update about Michael is difficult because this time of year is all about being together with family and friends.  While we will be able to see Michael over Christmas, our family will not feel complete until Michael is freed from Leavenworth. Several things are happening toward that end and we are eagerly anticipating a favorable outcome.  Michael's appellate brief will be filed in December...

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Ooo-hoo -- Jihadis! Who wants to join a shovel-ready cash-for-work program sponsored by the USA and thus put a strain on Taliban leaders and cause them to reconcile with Hamid Karzai next year?

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On the Big Plans behind the reconciliation program for jihadis in Afghanistan, from today's Washington Post:.

The Bush administration displayed little enthusiasm for Afghan reintegration efforts, preferring to fight insurgents over trying to make peace with them, but Obama's strategists on Afghanistan have bet heavily on the idea. A recent Japanese government pledge of $5 billion in aid for Afghanistan is expected to be applied largely to reintegration efforts, and the United States has also vowed to commit money.

But the effort...

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Photo: Um, a picture is worth a thousand words?

Via NISNews:

THE HAGUE, 12/12/09 - The appeals chamber of the Bar Association's disciplinary council has acquitted lawyer Mohammed Enait (above) of contempt of court. He has the right not to rise when the judge enters the courtroom and can wear a Muslim hat during sessions, it ruled Friday.

It is customary for lawyers to stand up during court cases when the judge enters the courtroom. Enait deliberately refuses to do so. His argument is that his religion maintains that everyone is equal and as a Muslim, he therefore does not want to behave subserviently.

The disciplinary council of the Bar Association reprimanded the Islamic lawyer in May. On three points, he showed contempt of court, it ruled; he refuses to rise, wears an Islamic head-covering during sessions and showed contempt of a judge in...

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From the Washington Post today:

BAGHDAD -- Chinese, Russian and European companies won the right this weekend to develop major oil fields in Iraq, while U.S. firms made a paltry showing at auctions that represent the first major incursion of foreign oil companies into Iraq in four decades.

Just let that sink in a little. After six-plus years of flowing blood and treasure, exhaustive focus and plain exhaustion, not only did US MRAPs never get to fill up for free (for the great privilege of clearing out Iraqi viper nests), but now not even our lousy oil companies get a consolation prize at the big Iraqi oil party.

China's state-owned oil...

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The Connecticut paper the Republican American reported the death of a Marine corporal who succombed to grievous wounds caused by an IED Helmand Province. Xhacob Latorre, 21, of Waterbury reportedly lost both legs during his combat mission in August. From the obituary:

An article published in The Washington Post in July reported that Marines of Latorre's unit had pushed deep into southern Afghanistan to cut off Taliban supply lines from Pakistan and to restore order in areas long neglected by NATO forces. The Marine mission in Khan Neshin in the lower Helmand River valley was the most significant deployment of U.S. forces near the Pakistani border with southern Afghanistan. The brigade's focus was to meet local leaders and to distribute handbills explaining their presence.

 

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This AP picture pretty much says it all but just to make sure, let's read the original caption:

In this picture taken Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009, an Afghan police trainee from the United States Marine police mentoring program eats a lollipop as Marines search a house that was thought to have explosives during a joint patrol in Khan Neshin, in the volatile Helmand province of southern Afghanistan....

Insert primal scream.

From the story:

KHAN NESHIN, Afghanistan— The U.S. Marines were tense looking for bombs buried near a mud compound in this remote farming town in southern Afghanistan. Their new Afghan police colleagues were little help, joking around and sucking on lollipops meant for local kids.

The government...

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One of the things Congress wasn't interested in asking General McChrystal about was the September incident at Ganjgal, a hamlet in eastern Afghanistan. There, McClatchey's Jonathan S. Landay observed the deadly effect of McChrystal's increasingly restrictive ROEs first hand when repeated appeals for air and artillery support from an ambushed team of 13 US Army and Marine trainers assigned to the Afghan Army went unanswered. This failure was due, Landay reports, to "new rules to avoid civilian casualties." Three Marines and a Navy Corpsman were killed in the hours-long battle, which also claimed the lives of eight Afghan security personnel and an interpreter.

As Landay wrote:

U.S. commanders, citing new rules to avoid civilian casualties, rejected repeated calls to unleash artillery rounds at attackers dug into the slopes and tree lines – despite being told repeatedly that...

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Last week, a friend of mine on the Hill invited me to suggest some questions for Gen. McChrystal prior to Tuesday's hearing. His invitation finally prompted this somewhat hasty list here (which prompted this not-to-be-missed Marine vet's list here).

None of these questions was asked, of course (and particularly not the Marine vet's ones about calibrating the names of the military branches to better suit the COIN "hearts and minds" mission, e.g., changing The Army to the Warmy). After the hearings, I found myself still thinking about all that hadn't been asked and what should have been asked, and put together a mostly new sequence for this week's column:

Gen. Stanley McChrystal's long-awaited testimony before Congress on the Afghanistan "surge" was, according to one account, "uneventful." The general himself, another story noted, was "a study in circumspection." And questioning from lawmakers...

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Global jihad: Not just anyone can get in.

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AP is reporting:

Five young American Muslims arrested in Pakistan met with representatives of an al-Qaida linked group and asked for training but were turned down because they lacked references from trusted militants, a Pakistani law enforcement official said Thursday.

"References" -- as in "excels at jihad," or, "can turn any household item into a bomb"?

... Usman Anwar, the local police chief in the eastern city of Sargodha, told The Associated Press that the five are "directly connected" to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

"They are proudly saying they are here for jihad" or holy war, Anwar said.

Oh, those wacky young American Muslims.

A key break in the case came not from federal agents or spies, but parents worried their sons may have made a terrible decision.

...

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Behold Asim Hafeez, the new British Home Office official charged with identifying British jihadists and mobilzing them -- no, sorry, diverting them -- from the path to jihad. Or something.

According to Martin Bright, who reported on the appointment last month at the Jewish Chronicle, there is "serious concern among more moderate Muslim advisers across Whitehall" about their new colleague, whom one fellow advisor described as a "hardcore Salafi."

Only among "more moderate Muslim advisors"? How about the suicidal non-Muslims who likely hired him? Of course, if they were concerned they wouldn't have picked him in the first place. The Islamization of England continues apace.

A guest post at Harry's Place quite instructively elaborates on Hafeez's belief in an Islamic state.

A number of Hafeez’s talks are available online which appear to not only back up Bright’s accusations...

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From the Times of London:

Although the Taliban are estimated at only 15-20,000, they are proving a more formidable enemy than previously realised. According to John McCreary, a defence intelligence analyst, for every allied soldier killed, wounded or kidnapped last month, the Allies killed, wounded or captured a single Taliban, compared with six a year ago. Allied soldiers killed two anti-government fighters for every Nato and government death. “During all of 2008 the kill ratio was never so close,” said McCreary. “This should be unacceptably embarrassing news for the coalition.”

How come this is happening?

One reason is the restriction on the use of air power imposed by McChrystal to try to reduce civilian casualties, which were turning people against foreign troops.

Conventional wisdom unsupported by the fact that jihadist forces a much...

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It's a deal: Five, 15, 20 years in Afghanistan -- who's counting?

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Withdrawal to start in July 2011? Dream on. The quiz kids behind "COIN" have always been happy to plunk down US troops for the duration, and now this from Kabul, via the LA Times:

Afghanistan's security forces will need U.S. support for another 15 to 20 years, President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday in the latest in a series of indications that U.S. involvement there is likely to last far into the future.

That would help explain the massive construction projects...

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Tom Stone, a pal and Marine vet (Vietnam), writes in with one more question for Gen.McC:

Sir, in light of the fact that you have forgotten, either intentionally or not, everything you were ever taught at West Point concerning warfare and the prosecution of same, I am wondering if you have considered changing the names of our Armed Forces to reflect more accurately what you and this administration have decided to pursue in the conflict, er, ah, war, er ah, anti-Islamic, no, that won’t work, well, whatever you are about to do in Afghanistan.For example, looking into your  McChrystal  Ball, you have certainly contemplated changing the name of the Marine Corps to…The Peace Corps. Their mission is to win hearts and minds through goodwill acts of compassion and deference to the locals.  And hey, the Army, how about….The Warmy – kind of gives you a fuzzy cuddly feeling, doesn’t it, just how you want us to treat the Afghanies.  And gee, the Air Force, easy one, how about….. The Air Farce? They can’t bomb or air strike, don’t want to hurt the locals.  Oh No.  And since so many of our finest are in the Reserves, surely you must have considered renaming them….The Reserved.You remember, think twice before you shoot, the three second questions to be asked before pulling the trigger, holding back, just being down right, well, ….reserved!*** If you have not considered any of these, feel free to take me up on it and you can take all the credit.  Now YOU GO GUY....

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Commander-on-the-Ground becomes Commander-on-the-Hill as Gen. Stanley McChrystal testifies before Congress today.

A few questions, just to break the ice:

Q: Sir, you wrote the following the folllowing in your initial Afghanistan assessment:

A more forceful and offensive StratCom approach must be devised whereby INS are exposed continually for their cultural and religious violations, anti-Islamic and indiscriminate use of violence and terror, and by concentrating on their vulnerabilities. These include their causing ofthe majority of civilian casualties, attacks on education, development projects, and government institutions, and flagrant contravention of the principles of the Koran. These vulnerabilities must be expressed in a manner...

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From today's Washington Post:

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, cautioned troops on Monday to exercise greater discipline in Afghanistan to minimize civilian casualties and to win Afghans' support as they implement the administration's new war strategy.

The perfect send-off to "counterinsurgents" ordered into "armed social work," to win not anything like a war (for what? don't ask), but rather the "support" of 20-plus million tribalistic and barbaric Muslims. 

Howz about if the good admiral goes first?

 

 

...

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Now available online is the English translation of the summons to Geert Wilders to court in Amsterdam on January 20, 2010 for exercising free speech in defense of his country and, in fact, the wider Western world and civilization. Such as it is. (Here it is at Jihadwatch.)

The Wilders summons is the perfect dhimmi document, a shameful manifestation of the extent to which Islamic legal restrictions against criticizing Islam have been incorporated into a submissive Dutch justice system.

Read through at least part of this lengthy, repetitious document to see what, according to Amsterdam prosecutors, is illegal and punishable by jail time in Holland...

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In refining and repacking (for size) some of the "How Important Is Marjeh?" material for this week's column, I came to a new definition of "counterinsurgency" (below). It's worth emphasizing how very important our understanding of "counterinsurgency" is. Why, just today, Charles Krauthammer points out that "the 2009 U.S. military [is] the finest counterinsurgency force in history."

What does that mean? I'm sorry. After watching the Pentagon at work for the last eight-plus years, I have observed that "COIN" doesn't mean winning wars, it means "armed social work" for "hearts and minds," or "trust" of "the people."  It doesn't lead to a VI Day or VA Day, it leads to endless, pointless, wasteful "nation-building." It is a big scam and Uncle Sam is the easy mark.

So much simpler (to say the least) to face the ideological facts, the legal facts, the historical...

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Marine Mom writes in late last night:

Just when I thought I had seen it all, I read of this weakness by Gen. McChrystal. Headline: "Let the enemy in Afghanistan give up  with dignity."

The full McChrystal quotation, via MSNBC, is this:

"I think they [the jihadis] should be faced with the option to come back if they are willing to come back under the constitution of Afghanistan — that they can come back with dignity," he said. [Note: Afghan constitution enshrines sharia so this represents no concession.] "If you look at the end of most civil wars and insurgencies, I think that everybody needs a chance...

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From Time magazine today:

Joint U.S.-Afghan operations are plagued by mistrust, with the living quarters of allied and Afghan troops separated by walls, razor wire, guarded gates and machine-gun nests. "Currently, coalition forces eat, sleep and play in separate spaces from the people they are trying to train," U.S. Marine Captain Jason Moore noted in a report earlier this year for the Corps' Command and Staff College at Quantico, Va.

Why?

In part, that's because Taliban sympathizers in the Afghan military have shot and killed U.S. troops.

That's why.

But Captain Moore is  troubled by the message walls, razor wire and machine-gun nests are sending:

"Intentional or not, it conveys a sense of...

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Here is a video of a Palestinian woman stabbing an Israeli border guard in the lower abdomen on October 25 with a knife she had hidden in her clothes. Via The Jawa Report:



Prezident Obama gave his big Afghanistan speech last night, and it was, of course, a mess.

It was rhetorically deceptive -- what with the 9/11 jihad further attributed to "men" from al Qaeda, a "group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world's great religions" --  and it was symbolically diabolical, what with the lives of those dewy-faced cadets in the audience in the balance. The point of it all? The 44th POTUS ordered up 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan to begin bringing them all home by 2011.

Madness.

More depressing still, however, was the conservative reaction, which was all about seeing its glass half full. (Make that three-quarters full.) The futility of "nation-building" anywhere in the Islamic world lost on these poor infidels,...

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EU dream team -- von Rompuy and Ashton

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Today is not just the day Prez O explains his already explained Afghan strategy, or details his already detailed "surge" of 34,000 troops to Afghanistan. ("God help our troops," writes Ralph Peters.)

Today, December 1, 2009, is also the day that, as my friend Paul Belien writes at Brussels Journal, "the Lisbon Treaty comes into force and the European Union (EU) takes on the status of a genuine state with its own President and Foreign Minister."

That would be President Herman von Rompuy, and  Paul, author of the essential history A Throne in Brussels, having...

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