Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Blog

This week's syndicated column:

Ah, to be in Vienna at Yuletide. Streets sparkle with the lights of the Christkindlmarkts, the traditional markets that spring up for the season. Skaters circle the rink outside the picturesque Rathaus (City Hall). Merrymakers warm their hands on cups of gluhwein (mulled wine). What could possibly be missing?

Freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech no longer exists in Austria, as definitively proven by the Vienna high court. This week, a judge upheld the conviction against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff on the following charge: "denigration of religious beliefs of a legally recognized religion." In simplest terms, this means that Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff speaks the truth about Islam, and in Austria, as in other nations across the Western world currently transitioning to sharia (Islamic law), speaking the truth about Islam is not tolerated, and, more and more, is against the law.

What did my friend Elisabeth say that the Vienna high court ruled verboten?...

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L. Paul Bremer visits the Women's Center in Karbala, February 2004

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Another entry in the Iraq "journal" -- a column from February 2004, reposted below.

The set-up: It's nearly one year after the US invasion, and nearly eight years before US troops finally withdraw from Iraq. We are at a turning point only we don't know it. In fact, the charade is becoming untenable even before the props are all in place. Looking back, naive US hopes for "equal rights" in Islamic Iraq promoted around a "women's center" in Karbala (described below) are emblematic of the policy failures to come. Almost symbolically, the following month in March 2004, the center's leading proponent, Fern Holland, a 34-year-old CPA employee, would be shot and killed by men in Iraqi police uniforms.

More directly pertinent to US policy, the US-backed Iraqi Governing Council (remember them?) had just voted in December 2003 to remove family law from secular jurisdiction and place it under sharia (Islamic law), relegating...

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The retrospective continues.

Trouble from the start.

4.23.03

"How democratic will Iraqi democracy be?"

After roughly 100 Iraqi exiles, sheiks and clerics gathered in a fortified and air-conditioned tent in Iraq this week to begin piecing together their country's future, U.S. Central Command headquarters released a 13-point summary of the meeting that included the outcome of the historic first vote in Saddam-free Iraq. The Iraqi proto-body voted to meet again in 10 days, and also voted on a string of high-minded resolutions.

Point one said "Iraq must be a democracy"; point three said "the rule of law must be paramount"; and point four stated that the country "must be built on respect for diversity including the role of women." No word as yet on how "respect" for "diversity including the role of women" translates into legal or political...

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This second piece in my "from the vault" retrospective dates all the way back to 2002. It stands as a reminder of how assiduously George W. Bush played Islamic booster-in-chief after 9/11 -- a role that did great damage in confusing and stifling national debate. Meanwhile, though, in 2002 I'm still holding out at least some faint hope for Islamic reform, which I later came to realize would be nice and everything but was no strategy for Uncle Sam to hang everything on. This column also marks what may be the first appearance of one of this blog's all-time faves, Abu "Has George Bush Ever Actually Read the Koran?" Qatada. NB: Khaled Abou El Fadl, referred to below as an "outspoken liberal Muslim," has since been unmasked as a stealth jihadist. Oh well.

11.26.02

"Something to contemplate this Ramadan"

Part of me wanted to let Ramadan, Islam's month-long holiday of contemplative fasting and Thanksgiving, slide. Sure, there has been a mini-surge in published musings by American...

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From the WSJ:

German engineering giant Siemens AG is adding heft to its campaign to win more business with the U.S. government by appointing former U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal to a supervisory role.

The company is expected to announce Monday that the retired four-star general will chair a board overseeing a newly created unit aimed at securing more and bigger contracts with the federal government.

What's the old line: Old soliders don't fade away; they just become ... lobbyists?

Writing a weekly column is much like keeping a journal. It preserves thoughts and events of the day that would otherwise slip or blur in memory. Now that US forces have withdrawn from Iraq, I decided to look back on some of my many weekly entries on the topic to see if any of them might be of use in taking stock of what happened -- and what didn't happen.

Here, from the vault, is a column published almost exactly 5 years ago to the day on something that had just been newly announced in Washington: the "surge."

12.23.06: "The pitfalls of `victory' in Iraq"

Sure, let's go ahead and say this new "troop surge" being bandied about Washington comes off, and tens of thousands of additional American troops pacify enough of Iraq to pull off what President Bush this week called the Iraqi dream -- "a stable government that can defend, govern and sustain itself."

OK. So then what? It's not hard to imagine that the United States would take the first opportunity to wish that dream-come-true...

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A November update from Scott and Vicki Behenna (which I missed it when it arrived in my inbox last month):

To the thousands of supporters of 1Lt Michael Behenna, It has been awhile since we sent out an update.  Michael's lawyers have filed the petition to the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces (CAAF).  The CAAF is the highest court for the military justice system and is similar to the Supreme Court as they do not have to take your appeal.  There were four issues on Michael's case presented to the CAAF and we would expect to hear within 30-60 days whether the CAAF will hear his case.  If the CAAF does not choose to hear any of the issues, then Michael’s appeals are done. So you can see the importance of this appeal.  We desperately need your prayers so that Michael’s conviction will be seen by the CAAF for what it is – an abomination of the military justice system.  The CAAF judges...

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This week's column:

I wish I could find the perfect label for the depths of denial and the heights of delusion manifested in Frederick and Kimberly Kagan's latest declarations on Iraq, published this week in The Washington Post as "opinion."

"Fantasy," is more like it. The premise of these two military advisers closely associated with the "surge" strategy in Iraq is that Western-style nation-building there failed not because the policy was an exercise in hothouse academic utopianism (leftist cant) that withered in the real-world conditions of the Islamic Republic of Iraq, but because the exercise didn't go on long enough.

Even as our troops withdraw after eight fruitless years, the husband-wife team still sees "American core interests" in Iraq, including "ensuring that Iraq contributes to the security of the Middle East, rather than undermining it through state collapse, civil war or the establishment of a sectarian dictatorship."

Is that all? Ensuring that Iraq doesn't collapse, enter civil war or establish a sectarian dictatorship requires an indefinite occupation on a colossal scale (why?) or the total transformation of Iraqi Man (read: Muslim Man), which is the Frankensteinian basis of "winning hearts and minds," the cornerstone of counterinsurgency theory (COIN).

...

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If I were a psychiatrist I could find the perfect label for the depths of denial or the heights of delusion that manifest themselves in Frederick and Kimberly Kagan's latest declarations on Iraq published in the Washington Post as "opinion." "Fantasy" is a more like it. Their premise is that the American nation-building exercise in Iraq failed not because nation-building is pure academic utopianism (leftist cant) that withers in real-world conditions (Islam), but because the exercise didn't go on long enough.

They pre-emptively score Prez Obama for the happy talk that's the predictable outcome  of his meeting today with Iraq's Maliki. Fair enough. The image of Iraq he is sure to present, they write, "is a mirage." But if we're talking about disconnection from reality, the Kagans have once again pulled their own plug.

They write:

Even after the last U.S. soldier departs, America’s core interests in Iraq include:

●Ensuring that Iraq contributes to the security of the Middle East, rather than undermining it through state collapse, civil war or the establishment of a sectarian dictatorship;

...

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Sapper Elijah Bond, 24, was born in Havant, Hampshire and grew up in St Austell, Cornwall. He joined the Corps of Royal Engineers in August 2008. He died from wounds sustained from an IED in Afghanistan on Thursday.

From the BBC report:

He had a vibrant personality and in quieter moments was an excellent chess player, a Ministry of Defence spokesman said. ...

"It was whilst on an engineer reconnaissance patrol helping to plan vital infrastructure for the local population that he paid the ultimate price."

RIP.

This week's syndicated column:

Last month, I noted that Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jim Webb of Virginia had written to national archivist David S. Ferriero on Nov. 7, asking him to open the records of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Ferriero has summarily sealed for 20 years. Guess what? Webb's office tells me it still hasn't received a reply. Where's Wikileaks when you need it?

It's been about a year since the furor crescendoed over Wikileaks (see here, here, here, for example). Actually, "furor" is too mild a term. This was baying for blood. (Charles Krauthammer and Mike Huckabee talked about "execution," while Sarah Palin practically called in a drone strike herself.) Then and now, I consider the revelations of lying, incompetence and betrayal of foundational principle, as revealed by the Wikileaks organization's massive dumps of classified documents, to be a public service.

We heard an awful lot...

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Question: When the Libyan "military" comes to US staff colleges -- a real possibility-- do they get to bring their flags of al Qaeda with them?

This is a joke, right? I'm dreaming, aren't I? Either give me a pitchfork, or wake me up when it's over.

From USA Today:

The United States is in discussions with Libya over ways to help rebuild the country's military, which the U.S. military considers essential to unify the country and bring rival militias under national control.

We're looking for ways in which we can be helpful," said Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command. "They have...

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"We are working closely with the Afghan government to wean the Afghan economy off international assistance and lay the foundation for sustainable, private-sector-led growth."

-- Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and cheerleader for "the New Silk Road."



The new three musketeers?

From Pakistan's The Nation: "OIC, Russia and China Put Weight Behind Pakistan"

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), China and Russia rallied behind Pakistan expressed “deep shock” over Nato airstrikes that left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead and called for an investigation into the incident.

“China is deeply shocked at the incident and expresses strong concerns and deep condolences to the victims in Pakistan,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular news briefing. “China believes that Pakistan’s independent sovereignty and territory should be respected and that this incident should be earnestly investigated and handled in a serious manner.”

...

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Dunno why I never thought of it before, but Hillary Clinton, with her diplomatic background in cattle futures, Whitewater and shaking down donors to her husband's library-foundation in exchange for political favors, is perfectly attuned to the needs and desires of corrupto-stans and baksheeshlands....Uh-oh.

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"Afghans Say Assistance Will Be Needed for Years," the NYT reports from the Bonn conference on Afghanistan. As in $10 billion per year until 2024, says Karzai. But there's a problem: Most of the money goes down the drain and/or into McMansions -- Mo-Mansions? --in Dubai for corrupto-klepto-baksheesho-crats.

Speaker after speaker — including Mr. Karzai — described corruption and poor governance as obstacles to the country’s development, factors that have caused reluctance among many countries about sending aid, especially given the economic crises in Europe and the United States.

...

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Had a chance to speak with Frank Gaffney on Secure Freedom Radio yesterday about Afghanistan, what they're calling the New Silk Road, what I'm calling "the new Afghan man," COIN, three cups and more.

Audio here.




C.W. Callahan, chief of staff for Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, who set the September 14, 2011 guidelines prohibiting visitors to “wounded, ill, and injured partners in care” from giving away or using Bibles in the hospital.

Who advised him?

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From Todd Starnes, Fox News and Commentary:

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center said they are rescinding a policy that prohibits family members of wounded military troops from bringing Bibles or any religious reading materials to their loved ones.

The decision to rescind the ban on Bibles came exactly one day after a Republican lawmaker denounced the policy...

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"Hey Jack, which way to Mecca?"

Peter Arno, The New Yorker, 1938

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This week's syndicated column:

Having written countless columns and blog posts arguing that the see-no-Islam counterinsurgency strategy (COIN) has led to failure in two wars in the umma and the dhimmification of the U.S. military, it's almost funny to see the debate more or less officially joined over my recent column on what appears to be simply the gross-out, PG-13 movie topic of peeing toward Mecca. Or, rather, not peeing toward Mecca.

The latter is the lesson that an Afghan Muslim contractor has been teaching Marines before they deploy to Afghanistan, in accordance with an Islamic canonical hadith called "The Prohibition of Facing the Qiblah When Relieving Oneself." But maybe the debate had to take this excretory turn with the Pentagon awash...

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