Sunday, June 29, 2008

And to Think That I Saw It at Mike's America

I turned on my computer
And looked for something super,
I clicked the mouse key
And then shouted with GLEE!

FOR I SAW A BLOGPOST WHILE IN MY PAJAMA!
AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ALL AT MIKE'S AMERICA!


Ok, I admit not too imaginative of me. But go take a look at the Seussification of Mike's America.

Further read:
Bestowing A Moral Imagination On a World Of Children

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Brothers at War



A young filmmaker risks everything, including his life to tell his brothers' story. Often humorous, sometimes lethal, this embedding with four combat units in Iraq, gives him insight into his two soldier brothers, his family, and ultimately into his own character.


Website

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Monday, June 23, 2008

MoveOn.Orgers on: Raising a Momma's Boy



Please Moveon.org....keep the ads coming!

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Funnies

The NYTimes Once Again Shapes the Battle Space



Some journalists sneered at my work. The most common criticism was that I lacked objectivity, because I called enemy fighters "terrorists" for murdering civilians, or I openly admitted that I hoped our side would win and Iraq would be free from dictatorship and terrorists.
-Michael Yon, Moment of Truth in Iraq, pg 12


The entire article by Lance Fairchok at American Thinker is spot-on excellent, and exactly what I was looking for as an answer to this, which surprisingly seemed to get little media traction. However, I'd like to cite the following passage as a lead-in for a different, if not unrelated topic:

Webster defines propaganda as the "spreading of ideas or information to further or damage a cause," it is also "ideas or allegations spread for such purpose." The popular connotation of the word is false information, or information used to deceive or mislead. The left uses the word as a negative label for information that does not conform to their view, a tool to demean and discredit, regardless of truth. Their purpose is to dominate what the public sees with their messages and to eliminate contradictory information.

In information warfare, this is called shaping the battle space.

Throughout this war, the military has been inundated with negative press. Damaging leaks were rampant, coming from the Democrats in the Senate and the House, from the CIA and the State Department, even from inside the Pentagon. Every setback was exaggerated in an unrelenting information campaign to shape public perception.

Disinformation from our enemies was accepted without critical analysis by much of the media. Papers worldwide splashed every unsubstantiated negative story they could find. Enemy agents posing as stringers were feeding false stories about American atrocities. Terror attacks were timed for the 24-hour news-cycle. The broadcast media's mantra for Iraq was "if it bleeds it leads" writ large.

The enemy knew it, and used it.

This relentless media assault frustrated and confounded the military, for whom the lessons of press malfeasance in Vietnam still rankle. How can you prosecute a war against a vicious enemy when your every action may be portrayed as criminal? How can you show success when failure is all Americans are allowed to see and hear? How do you get your message out when the press ignores or alters it? How can you tell the ground truth if no one is there to listen?

This brings us to today's New York Times piece, written by Scott Shane, which details some of the little known interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. What is shocking (and yet, why shouldn't we be surprised?) is the disclosure outing of the name of the 9/11 Mastermind's interrogator:
Mr. Martinez declined to be interviewed; his role was described by colleagues. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, director of the C.I.A., and a lawyer representing Mr. Martinez asked that he not be named in this article, saying that the former interrogator believed that the use of his name would invade his privacy and might jeopardize his safety. The New York Times, noting that Mr. Martinez had never worked undercover and that others involved in the campaign against Al Qaeda have been named in news articles and books, declined the request. (An editors’ note on this issue has been posted on The Times’s Web site at nytimes.com/world.)

What is it about today's press that has impaired judgment, given aid and comfort to America's enemies, endangered lives, prolonged the conflict, and sabotaged and undermined anti-terror programs by publishing leaks regarding such things as CIA secret prisons, NSA surveillance program, the SWIFT program? Were 32 frontpage stories on abu Ghraib published in the New York Times really warranted? Did the act itself inflame the Arab world and create more terrorists, or was it the media hype about the abuses, which did so? What about Haditha? Who has done more damage to the war effort? Soldiers on the frontlines to win hearts and minds, protesters out on the streets, politicians back in Washington, or perceptions created and driven by the media in its coverage of the war? The Bush Administration is held accountable for its failures in prosecuting the Iraq battle with zero percent casualties; but where is the media accountability?

There's a reason for classified information and government secrets, aside from cynical conspiratorial beliefs that our government is up to no good, to remain secret from the public (and consequently, from our enemies). Is it not obvious?

From the editor's note regarding the NYTimes defending its decision to publish KSM's interrogator's name:
The Central Intelligence Agency asked The New York Times not to publish the name of Deuce Martinez, an interrogator who questioned Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and other high-level Al Qaeda prisoners, saying that to identify Mr. Martinez would invade his privacy and put him at risk of retaliation from terrorists or harassment from critics of the agency.

After discussion with agency officials and a lawyer for Mr. Martinez, the newspaper declined the request, noting that Mr. Martinez had never worked under cover and that others involved in the campaign against Al Qaeda have been named in news stories and books. The editors judged that the name was necessary for the credibility and completeness of the article.

The Times’s policy is to withhold the name of a news subject only very rarely, most often in the case of victims of sexual assault or intelligence officers operating under cover.
[sarcasm]
Yes, if only he were an "undercover" operative like Valerie Plame Wilson. Then the NY Times would have kept him anonymous. [/sarcasm]

Since I opened this post by citing a passage from Michael Yon's book I found relevant, let me bookend the post by closing with this passage from Robert Kaplan's Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts, pg 26-27:
Dekryger showed me the book he was reading, Tarawa: The Story of a Battle by Time-Life correspondent Robert Sherrod. He said that he found the book inspiring. Leafing through it, and reading it carefully at night in the hootch, I discovered that it was like other books popular among marines and soldiers, but which the contemporary media, aside from the military correspondents, were barely aware of. No potboiler, Tarawa was just an old-fashioned sort of book, very much in the tradition of great war reporting as defined by Richard Tregaskis in Guadalcanal Diary, Bing West in The Village, and Harold Moore and Joe Galloway in We Were Soldiers Once...and Young. These books celebrated the sacrifice and heroism of American troops in World War II and Vietnam not because it had been the authors' intention, but because it was true and happened to be all around them.
~~~

Sherrod, like other correspondents of the era, keeps using the words "we and "our" when referring to the American side, for although a journalist, he was a fellow American living among the troops. Back in Honolulu a week after the battle, he found the naïveté of the home front toward Tarawa "amazing". The public saw the killing of so many troops in so few days as scandalous. There were rumblings in Congress about an intelligence failure, and vows that such a thing must not happen again. But as Sherrod argues, there was no easy way to win many wars (in fact, eight months later, the first day of fighting on Guam would claim nearly seven hundred marines dead, wounded, or missing). Thus, "to deprecate the Tawara victory was almost to defame the memory of the gallant men who lost their lives achieving it." He concludes that on Tarawa, in 1943, "there was a more realistic approach to war than there was in the United States."


Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

Further Read:
Q & A with David Barstow

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Monday, June 16, 2008

LATimes + TNR = Bush Never Lied to Us About Iraq

Earlier this month, I posted on Scott Malensek's series of posts that shreds the recent Senate Select Committee on Intell's final report for the partisan hack job that it is. Today, the Los Angeles Times publishes an astounding admission by The New Republic's assistant editor, James Kirchick. Read it, and rejoice.

Scott has done the most thorough job of any journalist out there when it comes to reading intell reports and contextualizing them. But Scott's not widely read, so it's important and much more impactful when mainstream news sources get this out there to the public. Please send the article, and even links to Scott's posts to all your Bush-hating and Bush-loving friends.

The myth that "Bush lied", needs to be corrected before the November elections. Not 100 years from now.

KEY Points Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Phase II investigation report on pre-war Iraq Intel

Senators Remove Their Own Statements from Report on Pre-War Iraq Intelligence

Senators Caught Distorting and Misleading INtelligence Report

Why America Went to Iraq and What Comes Next

Democrats Admit: Saddam's Regime Harbored Al Queda

How President Clinton Marketed the Invasion of Iraq

The Partisan Rockefeller Intelligence Report (Curt's post)

Senate Intell Committee Releases Another Report to Show Bush LIED about Saddam


Apologies for not making my rounds to your blogs; I am typing from a library computer (allotted just one hour a day) and have limited access to conducting research and doing my regular reading habits. Hope to have my computer up and running soon. Thanks to all who keep visiting here.

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Politicizing the Military

Of course, the anti-war left would accuse the Bush Administration of doing this; but since this is a "right-wing" blog, and given that I am post-dating this as my computer is still out of commission and I'm typing from an undisclosed location, I will pick on the lefties.

Like the desertion rate I reported on a couple of years ago along with flag-draped coffins, G.I. Bills and Veterans issues, (with many exceptions, certainly from those lefties who really do care about our soldiers) the real goal of anti-war groups to bring these issues up is to will us into a defeat and as a political means of delegitimizing this particular war.

By way of Michael Medved:

Friday, June 06, 2008
Soldiers
and Suicide

Posted by: Michael
Medved
at 1:03 AM
Leading media outlooks love to portray military personnel as victims, including a recent news item with the alarming headline: “Army Suicides Increased in 2007.” Sixteen paragraphs highlighted the fact that 115 members of the armed forces took their own lives last year, compared to 52 in 2001. While the Associated Press sought to connect these grim statistics to the war on terror, Army records show that 65 percent of suicides stemmed from broken relationships, not battlefield trauma. Moreover, the end of the news story noted that the civilian suicide rate – when adjusted for similar age and gender mixes–was actually higher than the rate in the military: 19.5—as opposed to the troops’ 18.5—per 100,000. In other words, despite alarmist packaging, serving in the armed forces makes you less likely, not more likely, to take your own life.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday without Mr. Russert


From Bernard Goldberg's Arrogance Rescuing America from the Media Elite, "A Conversation with Tim Russert", pg 81-5:

Goldberg: When I say that I see a liberal bias in
the news, a lot of journalists who live in a world of politics dismiss it.
They say, "What are you talking about? We don't go easy on Democrats and
tough on Republicans." And I say there's a lot of truth to that. But
that's not my point about liberal bias. While there is no conspiracy- no conspiracy- there is like-mindedness in too many newsrooms....

Russert: There's a potential cultural
bias
. And I think it's very real and very important to recognize and
to deal with. Because of background and training you come to issues with a
preconceived notion or preordained view on subjects like abortion, gun control,
campaign finance. I think many journalists growing up in the sixties and
the seventies have to be very careful about attitudes toward government,
attitudes toward the military, attitudes toward authority. It doesn't mean
there's a rightness or a wrongness. It means you have to constantly check
yourself. John Chancellor used to say, if your mother says she loves you,
check it out.

Goldberg: Why the close-mindedness when the subject
comes around to media bias? There are a whole bunch of people in the world
of journalism and the world of academia who just shut the discussion down.
They not only don't believe there's this cultural bias, they think it's not
worth talking about.

Russert: That, to me, is totally contrary to who
we're supposed to be as journalists. My view was, invite Bernard Goldberg
and Bias on my [CNBC] show. This is central to who we are.
Let's talk about it! If we miss a story, if we got our facts wrong, we
would have a post-mortem and ask ourselves, where did we go wrong? How can
we improve ourselves? So, if there's any suggestion in any way, shape, or
form that there's a liberal bias, a cultural bias, let's examine it; that's what
we do for a living.

Goldberg: When I was on your show we talked, off
the air, during a commercial, about the op-ed I wrote in the Wall Street
Journal
back in 1996 about liberal bias in the news, which caused quite a
furor. You told me that you actually passed the op-ed around the newsroom
in Washington. Do you remember that?

Russert: The first person I talked to that morning
was Tom Brokaw, and I said, "Did you see the piece?" and he said, "I sure
did." I told him that I was going to give it out down here. I talked
to people about it. I said, "We have to engage on this issue. It
is imperative that we talk about this issue
." If someone suggested
there was an antiblack bias, an antigay bias, an anti-American bias, we'd sit up
and say, "Let's talk about this; let's tackle it." Well, if there's a
liberal bias or a cultural bias we have to sit up and tackle it and discuss
it. We have got to be open to these things.

~~~

Russert: When I had [Democratic House Leader] Nancy
Pelosi on Meet the Press, she said that when Newt Gingrich was Speaker,
he was radical and extreme right wing and [House Majority Whip] Tom DeLay is far
right, and when I said then the dichotomy is that you would be perceived as far
left, she said, "No, no, I'm moderate, I'm centrist."

Goldberg: But you see, Tim, in my view that same
point can be made about journalists, too. When you get to the big social
issues- whether it's race or gender or feminism or gay rights- I think
journalists see conservatives correctly as conservative, but they see liberals
as middle of the road.

Russert: I think this is the most important
challenge confronting journalists: There is no preferred
position
. One cannot be dismissive of one person as extreme and find
another acceptable just because of how you define liberal, conservative, or
mainstream. To a journalist covering this country there should not be a
preferred position on abortion, a preferred position on gay marriage, a
preferred position on gun control, a preferred position on campaign finance
reform. And you have to work at it and think back to where you came from
and keep applying those same standards. It really is fascinating
to me when you talk to political figures and to some journalists, they'll say
the center is here- if you are for abortion rights, for gun control,
for campaign finance reform, that's a mainstream position; and those opposed to
it are on the fringe. And that's just not the way reporters should
approach the issues.

Goldberg: But when you say it's the most important
challenge confronting journalists...

Russert: It truly is.

Goldberg: Is that because you see a problem in that
area?

Russert: Whenever we were going through the whole situation with
President Clinton on a variety of issues involving his veracity, I would say in
the newsroom: What if Richard Nixon had said this? And people would
sit up [because they hadn't though of it that way]. You have to apply a
single standard. And the single standard has to be one of objectivity and
not in any way, shape, or form demonstrating a preferred position. And if
you call Tom DeLay- and I have- the conservative Texan, then I call Ms.
Pelosi the liberal Californian.

Goldberg: Speaking of all this, you had Rush Limbaugh on
Meet the Press. How did you come to that decision?

Russert: He has the most widely listened-to radio
program in America, he has done an enormous amount to engage and encourage
political discussion around the country; he articulates a political philosophy
as well as anyone in the country. To suggest his views are anathema and
therefore should not be put on...

Goldberg: But you have heard from his critics.

Russert: Oh, sure. They want to know, "Why
would you have Rush Limbaugh on Meet the Press?" I don't sanction his political views by having him on. But to suggest
that he does not deserve the opportunity to present his views- I mean, Meet
the Press
is a forum for ideas! And to have a censorship for his
ideas...[laughs]

You may disagree with him philosophically, but his demeanor, his presentation
was perfectly appropriate for Meet the Press. And to suggest
otherwise is absurd.

By the way, when I have Ralph Nader on, I say to people, "I didn't hear any
complaints there" [laughs].

Goldberg: Some conservatives complain that when the
subject gets around to taxes you tilt to the Left, that you ask too many
questions about whether we can afford tax cuts but not enough questions about
whether the government is spending too much.

Russert: I guess you can conclude that by watching
me question people, that I think deficits matter. I guess if there's a
bias, it's that yes, I do think that deficits matter. And you know where
that comes from? [laughing] It comes from Mom and Dad's kitchen
table. We never floated loans.

Goldberg: But there are two ways to balance the
budget, whether it's around the kitchen table or in Congress. One is by
raising revenue. So your father can go out and get a third
full-time job. Or you can cut out some spending.

Russert: Exactly right. I couldn't agree
more. But I question both tax cuts and spending. I was aggressive
regarding the cost of the Clinton health care plan. I was very aggressive
about hte cost of Medicare and Social Security. I constantly say to
Democrats, "Can you have it all?"

Goldberg: Let's jump to another subject. When
you interviewed Vice President Cheney on Meet the Press, you wore the
red, white, and blue ribbon on your lapel.

Russert: This was September 16, 2001, at Camp
David.

Goldberg: And you heard from critics about that,
too.

Russert: A very good friend of mine died at the
World Trade Center, and his family asked if I would, in his memory, wear this
ribbon. I never thought for a second about it.

Goldberg: And to those who say journalists
shouldn't wear red, white, and blue ribbons, that by doing that somehow you're
taking the government's side in some debate or another- which I don't frankly
see, by the way...

Russert: It is imperative that we never suggest
that there's a moral equivalency between the United States of America and the
terrorists. Period. I'll believe that until the day I die. I
have talked about being a journalist- but also being an American. And
first and foremost, you're an American. I want a debate about national
security, and who defines national security. I understand all that.
But in the end, you have to make judgments, and on that day I made a judgment
that five days after the most horrific event of my lifetime and of my
journalistic career, that for me to say to the country I too am part of this, I
too have experienced this gut-wrenching pain and agony, and I too have enormous
remorse and sympathy, with not only the people who died in the World Trade
Center, the Pentagon, and in the field in Pennsylvania, but all of us- we're in
this together; this isn't covering Democrats and Republicans or the Bills versus
the Redskins; this is us. The Taliban doesn't believe in the First
Amendment.

I'm an American and then I'm a journalist.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Git Mo' Sense

Friday, June 13, 2008

Grade School Stuff

Thursday, June 12, 2008

75% Disapproval Rating for Congress

That's the RealClearPolitics average, with 18% approval- lower numbers than President Bush's.

Hat Tip: Scott Malensek.









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What will al-Qaeda Documents reveal on CNN?


video

By way of Steve Schippert:

Anbar Iraqis Share Al-Qaeda Intelligence

CNN reporter Michael Ware stumbled onto a treasure trove of al-Qaeda in Iraq document and multimedia archives recently, supplied to him by the leaders of Sahwa al-Iraq (Iraq Awakening) who seized them from captured al-Qaeda terrorists in Anbar province. His full report is scheduled to air during the 10PM (EDT) hour on CNN, and this morning his report was teased by the cable network during its morning show.

Given this "treasure trove" is passing through the CNN worldview filter, Schippert warns us:

That said, he still gets it wrong in the sense that he concludes that al-Qaeda in Iraq is an Iraqi terrorist organization. It is true that the vast majority of the AQI footsoldiers are and were Iraqis recruited locally. However, it cannot be discounted that leadership and strategic direction comes from and came from al-Qaeda Arabs originally from other countries. The current leader’s nom de guerre, al-Masri, means ‘the Egyptian,’ while Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was from Zarqa, Jordan. Furthermore, there were ‘Iraqis’ who had been with al-Qaeda since pre-9/11 who were sent in and elevated to leadership roles.

Thus, it should also be considered that those ‘Iraqis,’ not unlike those from other countries who also trained at al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, shed their ‘nationalist’ identities in the transformation process into what al-Qaeda glorifies as ‘mujahideen,’ truly Terrorists Without Borders - or Irhabi Sans Frontier.

So how ‘Iraqi’ are these AQI leaders, really? Ask a Ramadi member of Sahwa al-Iraq, or ask the terrorist himself, and both will most certainly respond the same: Not much, or not at all.

It is this non-Iraqi leadership and strategic direction which dictated the necessity to import foreign al-Qaeda suicide bombers to implement the ruthless strategy employed. Native Iraqis simply would not blow themselves up - not for Allah, not for virgins, and not for al-Qaeda. It is not a stretch of logic to conclude that if al-Qaeda in Iraq were truly an Iraqi group - of Iraqis, led by Iraqis - the strategy would reflect such. It does not. Because it is not, regardless the number of Iraqi footsoldiers.

After all, the fact that AQI is not an Iraqi entity is precisely why the leadership of al-Qaeda deemed it necessary to create the fictional role of a notional leader for the equally notional “Islamic State of Iraq, “Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.” The ‘part’ is known to be played by an Iraqi actor. This is so because al-Qaeda desperately needed the organization to take on an Iraqi face in order to hide the obvious; that - as reflected by its leadership and strategy - al-Qaeda in Iraq is and was a foreign invasion with foreign leadership and much local recruiting.

Tune in, tonight.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Cowboy Diplomacy Myth of George W. Bush

June 10: President Bush walks to a news conference with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Janez Jansa, prime minister of the European Union, and their security detail at Brdo Castle, Slovenia.
Jason Reed-Reuters


President Bush is touring Europe; but he seems to have lost his ability to draw stadium-sized crowds of protests:

The young anarchists, middle-aged peace activists and established left-wing politicians here have at least one thing in common: none bothered to keep a six-year tradition alive by organizing a protest against President Bush’s arrival here Tuesday.

“Bush is not even popular in the role of the enemy anymore,” wrote Der Tagesspiegel newspaper.

As in many other parts of Europe, Mr. Bush was a popular villain here even before the Iraq invasion, in part because of his steadfast rejection of the Kyoto Protocol limits on greenhouse-gas emissions. His visits to Germany have reliably drawn thousands into the streets to denounce him and his policies, beginning with his first visit to Berlin in May 2002.

It would appear the stamina of the Bush-haters has mostly run its course, given that he is serving out the twilight of his presidency; or....could it just be that Europe is finally coming around to its senses? After all, we have seen an increase in pro-Bush and pro-American leaders in the last few years, than anti; And President Bush, contrary to mainstream beliefs, has strengthened our place in the world and strengthened our alliances. It would seem that this is because the cowboy diplomat is also a multilateralist one at that:
Mr. Bush came under early fire after announcing that the U.S. would reject the Kyoto Protocol. Of course, the U.S. had never ratified Kyoto, and the Clinton Administration had refused even to submit it for a vote. In 1997, the Senate voted 95-0 not to endorse any climate change pact that didn't include China, India and other developing countries, as Kyoto didn't. Voting "aye" were Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Harry Reid, among other noted unilateralists.

Then came September 11 and the war in Afghanistan, which the U.S. continues to wage under a NATO flag. Unfortunately -- and despite the honorable exceptions of Britain, Canada and Holland -- few of America's allies in the theater are willing to commit more troops, much less put them in harm's way.

Iraq is where the unilateral myth settled into media concrete. But in fact, in 2002 President Bush bucked the advice of his more hawkish advisers and agreed to take Tony Blair's advice and seek another U.N. Resolution -- was it the 16th or 17th? -- against Saddam Hussein. Resolution 1441 passed 15-0. True, the Administration failed to obtain a second resolution, not least because the French reneged on private assurances that it would agree to a second resolution if America obtained the first. But who was being unilateral there? As it was, the "coalition of the willing" that liberated Iraq included, besides the U.S. contingent, some 60,000 troops from 39 countries, who have operated under a U.N. resolution blessing their presence.

The Bush Administration has since become all too multilateralist, even -- or especially -- regarding the "axis of evil." On North Korea, the Administration adhered strictly to the six party formula. Oddly, the same critics who decry "unilateralism" would prefer that the U.S. negotiate with Pyongyang directly -- which is to say, unilaterally -- and do without the help currently being offered by Tokyo, Beijing, Seoul and Moscow.

As for Iran, following revelations in 2002 that Iran had secretly pursued an illegal nuclear program for 15 years, Mr. Bush agreed to hand over the diplomacy to Germany, Britain and France, the so-called E3. Their efforts failed. So the Administration agreed to negotiate directly with Iran provided the mullahs suspend their uranium enrichment program. The Iranians refused.

Next the Administration succeeded in turning the matter over to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has been seeking answers about Tehran's nuclear file for five years. The IAEA's questions have yet to be fully answered. In 2006, the U.N. Security Council set a deadline for Iran to suspend enrichment. The deadline was flouted. The Security Council has since agreed to three weak resolutions sanctioning Iran. Even as his days in office dwindle, Mr. Bush has adhered to this failing multilateral diplomacy.

Shall we go on? For the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Administration arranged the so-called "road map," which is overseen by the "Quartet" of the U.S., Russia, the U.N., and the European Union. In Lebanon, the Administration worked closely with none other than France's Jacques Chirac to force the withdrawal of Syrian troops in 2005. With Russia, Mr. Bush welcomed its bid to join the World Trade Organization and has rebuffed suggestions -- including from Mr. McCain in his speech Wednesday -- that it be expelled from the G-8.

Mohamed ElBaradei owes his third term as head of the IAEA to the Administration, never mind that he all but openly campaigned for John Kerry in the 2004 election. On Darfur, the Administration has repeatedly deferred to the African Union and a pair of U.N. Secretary-Generals. Even after gathering evidence of secret Sudanese bombing runs in Darfur last year, Mr. Bush bowed to a special plea by the U.N.'s Ban Ki-moon to give diplomacy more time. The killings have continued. On global warming, the Administration has sought a compact with Australia, India and China to develop more carbon-neutral technologies.

Former Clinton official and author of The Superpower Myth, The Use and Misuse of American Might, Nancy Soderberg, acknowledges the diplomacy of the Bush Administration, even as she wants to deny them full credit and rationalize it for her own partisan piece of mind.

Meanwhile, for all those lefties who whine about world opinion and how right after 9/11, the world was our friend, then somehow George W. Bush squandered all the fuzzy-feelings and made the world hate us: Please get a grip. From Matthew Kaminski at WSJ:


Bush Leaves a Robust Atlantic Alliance, After All

By MATTHEW KAMINSKI
June 10, 2008; Page A17

George W. Bush's five-country farewell tour of Europe this week has Pavlov's pundits barking. In Britain's Guardian newspaper, Timothy Garton Ash distills the conventional wisdom that "so much of the [post-9/11] dust-up [with Europe] had to do with Bush himself: his unilateralism, his obsession with Iraq, his cowboy style, his incompetence." Not since Ronald Reagan has America had a less "European" president.

Such bad press plays into the election-year narrative of friends lost and alliances tarnished in the Bush era. So how's this for an inconvenient truth: This American president will bequeath his successor an alliance with Europe as robust and healthy as at any time in the post-Cold War period.

Pro-American governments are in charge in Paris, a first since 1945, as well as every other major European capital (London, Berlin, Warsaw, Rome) except Madrid. On Russia and China, on terrorism, rogue states and the spread of weapons of mass destruction, Europe and America share the strategic diagnosis, if not wholly the cure. A revived NATO leads missions in Afghanistan and the Balkans.

To be sure, Europe hasn't fallen in love with hard power, and Washington didn't sign up for unfettered multilateralism. The improved outlook in Iraq, and the Bush administration's decision to lay off Iran, defused two potential flashpoints late in its term. Even so, recent years have seen a Euro-American rapprochement take hold that silenced shrill predictions of "divorce" or worse in the wake of the Iraq war.

"Trans-Atlantic relations are rather good at the moment," says a senior European Union foreign policy adviser who requests anonymity and is not inclined to Panglossian views of the alliance. "Better than ever," adds another, Alar Olljum, who runs the in-house think tank for the European Commission.

Europeans tend to find explanations in altered American behavior. Here "Bush One" is pitted against "Bush Two": the first term of unilateralism and Iraq and the second of kinder, gentler diplomacy. Condoleezza Rice kicked off the charm offensive with a speech in Paris in early 2005 calling for a fresh start. Europe and America, she said, must together seize "a historic opportunity to shape a global balance of power that favors freedom." Robert Gates replaced the European bête noire Don Rumsfeld at the Pentagon.

Yet the Bush policy on NATO, the Mideast or other big issues didn't change significantly from the first to second terms. Europe itself did.

First came a political shift. Anti-Americanism, while a potent cultural and social phenomenon, turned out to be an electoral loser. Its most prominent European practitioners, Germany's Gerhard Schröder and France's Jacques Chirac, were replaced by politicians friendly to the U.S. such as Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy.

These two were different – let's say more "American" – in other important respects as well. Ms. Merkel isn't only the first woman chancellor, but the first German leader from the old communist East; her moral outlook was shaped by first-hand experience of Soviet totalitarianism. Mr. Sarkozy is the first French leader born after the liberation of Paris, to parents of Jewish and Hungarian stock no less. He doesn't carry Gaullist hang-ups about American power and France's shame about being occupied and then liberated by the allies during World War II.

In his first year, Mr. Sarkozy has pushed for a vibrant NATO and close ties with America – all in the name of strengthening Europe and France. Next year, he plans to bring France back into NATO's military wing more than four decades after Charles de Gaulle wrenched it out. His positive spin on trans-Atlantic relations contrasts with Mr. Chirac's reflexive efforts to check the U.S. at any turn. Mr. Bush has, like Bill Clinton before him, proved a staunch supporter of NATO. In response to the Sarkozy initiative, the administration dropped its skepticism about a common European defense and foreign policy, and backed efforts to get EU countries to pull their military weight. The U.S. has discovered that it needs help in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq anyway it can get it.

Another quiet change since the Iraq war has been a trans-Atlantic convergence of outlooks. In their most recent security strategies, both France and the U.K. highlighted in gloomy terms the threat of terrorism and WMD. Differences remain on proper responses, but the leading Western powers are getting closer.

Finally, Europeans caught a strain of realism. Ironically, the emergence of "a multipolar world" – that great Gaullist dream – was what sobered the Continent's elites about their own relative weakness, and led them back to America. With the rise of non-American powers, Europe was supposed to push its unique brand of multilateralism. But two of the emerging powers, Russia and China, are authoritarian regimes with little time for Europe's utopian model of "permanent peace." The third, India, shows no interest in being allied with an EU saddled with low birth and growth rates.

Europe couldn't find its place in this world. Except, that is, as a partner to the West's leading democracy, the United States. Suddenly gone are the loudly voiced European anxieties going back to the Clinton presidency about an unwieldy "hyperpower." In their place come paeans to shared democratic values, a long common history and the world's by far most lucrative commercial partnership.

Barack Obama or John McCain can build on these foundations next year. Whoever takes over will also inherit from Mr. Bush the unresolved problems of Iran's nuclear bomb program, Afghanistan's fragile state, and an aggressive Russia – just for starters. The next president will look to Europe for help. So we'll soon see how much of a disconnect really exists between European rhetoric and political will.

Will Germany boost its support for the Afghan mission and prove willing to face down Russia over further eastward NATO enlargement? Will the EU unite around a muscular approach toward Iran (assuming America discovers its own muscle)? How much will France resent America's push to embrace Turkey as part of the West? What happens if al Qaeda strikes again?

These questions, once answered, are going to shape the post-Bush trans-Atlantic alliance. If things go wobbly again, the blame may not as easily be laid at America's feet as in the Bush years. Europe could even come to miss its convenient Texan bogeyman.

May the next U.S. President carry on a tradition of strong-arm cowboy diplomacy.


Hat tip: Dennis Prager Show and Joe Schmo's



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Monday, June 09, 2008

Rockefeller lied, Republicans *yawned*

My internet connection won't be back until Thursday (maybe), so I'm at stuck typing in places other than home. I don't have time to blog this properly, but it's important to me that Senator Rockefeller's lies do not maintain the media narrative that "Bush lied, people died". The ones who are misleading us are Rockefeller, Reid, and Levin. And now they are attempting to revise history.

Scott Malensek blogged on the final Senate Select Committee intell report. Curt's update in wake of a Washington Post article by Fred Haitt that attempts to set some of the record straight.

Also check out the following post and article:
MataHarley at Flopping Aces: Increasing animosity towards AQ a result of Iraq War?
Eli Lake at the NYSun reports Iraqi Sheik Offers to Take Fight to Bin Laden



Also blogging:
The Anchoress
The Sundries Shack

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Choices

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday Funnies

More at Flopping Aces (click the cartoon)

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Le Jeune Homme Et La Mort (The Young Man and the Death)

Ever since I saw this (probably on HBO) as a young person, I was riveted by the opening scene of White Nights. Baryshnikov makes ballet for men, cool. This is probably my favorite ballet (given that I'm not familiar with any others, other than seeing snippets of classical). And I think the French dancer in it is just deadly beautiful!

video


Below is another interpretation of the modern ballet piece:

Ballet de Roland Petit
musique de Jean Sebastien Bach
Bach Passacaglia in C Minor (for orchestra)
Le jeune homme = Nicolas Le Riche
La mort = Marie-Agnès Gillot

video

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64th Anniversary of the Day Many Gave All

By Scott Malensek:




The Bad War?
Victor Davis Hanson
Thursday, June 05, 2008


NORMANDY, France -- Questioning the past is a good thing, but rewriting it contrary to facts is quite another. In the latest round of revisionism about the Second World War, the awful British and naive Americans, not the poor Germans, have ended up as the real culprits.

Take the new book by conservative pundit Patrick Buchanan, “Churchill, Hitler and ‘The Unnecessary War’: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World.” Buchanan argues that, had the imperialist Winston Churchill not pushed poor Hitler into a corner, he would have never invaded Poland in 1939, which triggered an unnecessary Allied response.

Maybe then the subsequent world war, and its 50 million dead, could have been avoided. Taking that faulty argument to its logical end, I suppose today a united West might live in peace with a reformed (and victorious) Nazi Third Reich!

On the left, the novelist Nicholson Baker in a book of nonfiction, "Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization," builds the case that the Allied bombing of German cities was tantamount to a war crime.

Apparently there was no need to, in blanket fashion, attack German urban centers and the industry, transportation and communications concentrated inside them. From Baker's comfortable vantage point, either the war was amoral or unnecessary -- or there must have been more humane ways to stop the flow of fuel, crews and equipment for the Waffen SS divisions that invaded Europe and Russia.

In the luxury of some 60 years of postwar peace and affluence -- and perhaps in anger over the current Iraq war -- Buchanan and Baker and other revisionists engage in a common sort of Western second-guessing. The result is that they always demand liberal democracies be not just better and smarter than their adversaries, but almost superhuman in their perfection.

Buchanan and others, for example, fault the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I as too harsh on a defeated Germany and thus an understandable pretext for the rise of the Nazis, who played on German anger and fear.

Those accords may have been flawed, but they were far better than what Germany itself had offered France in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War, or Russia after its collapse in 1917 -- or what it had planned for Britain and France had it won the First World War. What ultimately led to World War II was neither Allied meanness to Germany between the two wars nor an unwillingness to understand the Nazis' pain and anguish.

The mistake instead was not occupying all of imperial Germany after the first war in 1918-19. That way, the Allies would have demonstrated to the German people that their army was never "stabbed in the back" at home, as the Nazis later alleged, but instead defeated by an Allied army that was willing to stay on to foster German constitutional government and its reintegration within Europe. The Allies later did occupy Germany after World War II -- and 60 years without war have followed.

Had Nicholson Baker been alive in 1942, I doubt he would have had better ideas of how to stop the Nazi and Japanese juggernauts that had ruined Eastern Europe, Russia and large parts of China and southeast Asia other than using the same clumsy tools our grandfathers were forced to employ to end fascist aggression.

A Nazi armored division or death camp stopped its murderous work not through reasoned appeal or self-reflection, but only when its fuel, supplies and manpower were cut off.

I am currently visiting military cemeteries in France, Luxembourg and Belgium, some of the most beautiful, solemn acres in Europe. The thousands of Americans lying beneath the rows of white crosses at Normandy Beach, at Hamm, Luxembourg, and at St. Avold in the Lorraine probably did not debate the Versailles Treaty or worry too much whether a B-17 took out a neighborhood when it tried to hit a German rail yard.

Instead, our soldiers were more worried that they had few options available to stop Nazi Germany and imperial Japan -- other than their own innate courage. The dead in our cemeteries over here in Europe never bragged that they were eagerly fighting the "good" war, but rather only reluctantly finishing a necessary one that someone else had started.

They and those who sent them into the carnage of World War II knew Americans could do good without having to be perfect. In contrast, the present critics of the Allied cause enjoy the freedom and affluence that our forefathers gave us by fighting World War II while ignoring -- or faulting -- the intelligence and resolve that won it.

Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman once scoffed at the peacetime wisdom of postwar critics that came across as mass-produced, feel-good "bottled piety." Others might call it ingratitude.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

This November.....do you choose life or death?


Some conservatives are skeptical of whether or not Senator McCain will keep his pledge to appoint justices in the spirit of Roberts and Alito. Especially if Republicans lose more House and Senate seats in November. With Senator Obama, you can be sure of not getting conservative Supreme Court Justices like a Thomas or Scalia nominated to the Bench: The Audacity of Death (worth the time to read, regardless of where you stand on the issue, to know the candidate).

via Confederate Yankee, via Rightwingsparkle in the comments at Ace of Spades:
Jill Stanek, a registered delivery-ward nurse who was the prime mover behind the legislation after she witnessed aborted babies' being born alive and left to die, testified twice before Obama in support of the Induced Infant Liability Act bills. She also testified before the U.S. Congress in support of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.

Stanek told me her testimony "did not faze" Obama.

In the second hearing, Stanek said, "I brought pictures in and presented them to the committee of very premature babies from my neonatal resuscitation book from the American Pediatric Association, trying to show them unwanted babies were being cast aside. Babies the same age were being treated if they were wanted!"

"And those pictures didn't faze him [Obama] at all," she said.

Cross-posted at Flopping Aces

Previous posts:
Why the 2008 Election is a matter of life and death
America's Imperfect Servant

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Senator Empty Suit Defeats Senator Pant Suit

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Medal of Honor Recipient Ross McGinnis

JUNE 02: President Bush hands the Medal of Honor to Thomas and Romayne McGinnis, parents of U.S. Army Spc., Ross Andrew McGinnis during a ceremony at the White House. Spc. McGinnis, 19, from Knox, Pennsylvania, was killed Dec. 4, 2006 when he jumped on a grenade to save other troops while on a combat patrol in Baghdad.
Mark Wilson-Getty Images


Robert Kaplan (Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt):

Robert D. Kaplan comments on what it takes to earn the highest award the military can bestow—and why the public fails to appreciate its worth

by Robert D. Kaplan

No Greater Honor

Over the decades, the Medal of Honor—the highest award for valor—has evolved into the U.S. military equivalent of sainthood. Only eight Medals of Honor have been awarded since the Vietnam War, all posthumously. “You don’t have to die to win it, but it helps,” says Army Colonel Thomas P. Smith. A West Point graduate from the Bronx, Smith has a unique perspective. He was a battalion commander in Iraq when one of his men performed actions that resulted in the Medal of Honor. It was then-Lieutenant Colonel Smith who pushed the paperwork for the award through the Pentagon bureaucracy, a two-year process.

On the morning of April 4, 2003, the 11th Engineer Battalion of the Third Infantry Division broke through to Baghdad International Airport. With sporadic fighting all around, Smith’s men began to blow up captured ordnance that was blocking the runways. Nobody had slept, showered, or eaten much for weeks. In the midst of this mayhem, Smith got word that one of his platoon leaders, Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith (no relation) of Tampa, Florida, had been killed an hour earlier in a nearby firefight. Before he could react emotionally to the news, he was given another piece of information: that the 33-year-old sergeant had been hit while firing a .50- caliber heavy machine gun mounted on an armored personnel carrier. That was highly unusual, since it wasn’t Sergeant Smith’s job to fire the .50 cal. “That and other stray neurons of odd information about the incident started coming at me,” explains Colonel Smith. But there was no time then to follow up, for within hours they were off in support of another battalion that was about to be overrun. And a few days after that, other members of the platoon, who had witnessed Sergeant Smith’s last moments, were themselves killed.

Within a week the environment had changed, though. Baghdad had been secured, and the battalion enjoyed a respite that was crucial to the legacy of Sergeant First Class Paul Smith. Lieutenant Colonel Smith used the break to have one of his lieutenants get statements from everyone who was with Sergeant Smith at the time of his death. An astonishing story emerged.

Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith was the ultimate iron grunt, the kind of relentless, professional, noncommissioned officer that the all-volunteer, expeditionary American military has been quietly producing for four decades. “The American people provide broad, brand-management approval of the U.S. military,” notes Colonel Smith, “about how great it is, and how much they support it, but the public truly has no idea how skilled and experienced many of these troops are.”

Sergeant Smith had fought and served in Desert Storm, Bosnia, and Kosovo prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom. To his men, he was an intense, “infuriating, by-the-book taskmaster,” in the words of Alex Leary of The St. Petersburg Times, Sergeant Smith’s hometown newspaper. Long after other platoons were let off duty, Sergeant Smith would be drilling his men late into the night, checking the cleanliness of their rifle barrels with the Q-tips he carried in his pocket. During one inspection, he found a small screw missing from a soldier’s helmet. He called the platoon back to drill until 10 p.m. “He wasn’t an in-your-face type,” Colonel Smith told me, “just a methodical, hard-ass professional who had been in combat in Desert Storm, and took it as his personal responsibility to prepare his men for it.”

Sergeant Smith’s mind-set epitomized the Western philosophy on war: War is not a way of life, an interminable series of hit-and-run raids for the sake of vendetta and tribal honor, in societies built on blood and discord. War is awful, to be waged only as a last resort, and with terrific intensity, to elicit a desired outcome in the shortest possible time. Because Sergeant Smith took war seriously, he never let up on his men, and never forgot about them. In a letter to his parents before deploying to Iraq, he wrote,

There are two ways to come home, stepping off the plane and being carried off the plane. It doesn’t matter how I come home because I am prepared to give all that I am to ensure that all my boys make it home.

On what would turn out to be the last night of his life, Sergeant Smith elected to go without sleep. He let others rest inside the slow-moving vehicles that he was ground-guiding on foot through dark thickets of palm trees en route to the Baghdad airport. The next morning, that unfailing regard for the soldiers under his command came together with his consummate skill as a warrior, not in a single impulsive act, like jumping on a grenade (as incredibly brave as that is), but in a series of deliberate and ultimately fatal decisions.

Sergeant Smith was directing his platoon to lay concertina wire across the corner of a courtyard near the airport, in order to create a temporary holding area for Iraqi prisoners of war. Then he noticed Iraqi troops massing, armed with AK-47s, RPGs, and mortars. Soon, mortar fire had wounded three of his men—the crew of the platoon’s M113A3 armored personnel carrier. A hundred well-armed Iraqis were now firing on his 16-man platoon.

Sergeant Smith threw grenades and fired an AT-4, a bazooka-like anti-tank weapon. A Bradley fighting vehicle from another unit managed to hold off the Iraqis for a few minutes, but then inexplicably left (out of ammunition, it would later turn out). Sergeant Smith was now in his rights to withdraw his men from the courtyard. But he rejected that option because it would have threatened American soldiers who were manning a nearby road block and an aid station. Instead, he decided to climb atop the Vietnam-era armored personnel carrier whose crew had been wounded and man the .50- caliber machine gun himself. He asked Private Michael Seaman to go inside the vehicle, and to feed him a box of ammunition whenever the private heard the gun go silent.

Seaman, under Sergeant Smith’s direction, moved the armored personnel carrier back a few feet to widen Smith’s field of fire. Sergeant Smith was now completely exposed from the waist up, facing 100 Iraqis firing at him from three directions, including from inside a well-protected sentry post. He methodically raked them, from right to left and back. Three times his gun went silent and three times the private reloaded him, while Sergeant Smith sat exposed to withering fire. He succeeded in breaking the Iraqi attack, killing perhaps dozens of the enemy while going through 400 rounds of ammunition, before being shot in the head.

What impressed Colonel Smith about the incident was that no matter how many platoon members he solicited for statements, the story’s details never varied. Even when embedded journalists like Alex Leary and Michael Corkery of The Providence Journal-Bulletin investigated the incident, they came away with the same narrative.

After talking with another battalion commander and his brigade commander, Colonel Smith decided to recommend his sergeant for the Medal of Honor. He was now operating in unfamiliar territory. Standards for the Medal of Honor are vague, if not undefinable. Whereas the Medal of Honor, according to the regulations, is for “gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty,” the Distinguished Service Cross, the next- highest decoration, is for an “act or acts of heroism … so notable” and involving “risk of life so extraordinary as to set the individual apart” from his comrades. There is no metric to differentiate between the two awards or, for that matter, to set the Distinguished Service Cross apart from the Silver Star. It is largely a matter of a commanding officer’s judgment.

Colonel Smith prepared the paperwork while surrounded by photos of Saddam Hussein in one of the Iraqi leader’s palaces. The process began with Army Form DA-638, the same form used to recommend someone for an Army Achievement Medal, the lowest peacetime award. The only difference was Colonel Smith’s note to “see attached.”

There are nine bureaucratic levels of processing for the Medal of Honor. Smith’s paperwork didn’t even make it past the first. Word came down from the headquarters of the Third Infantry Division that he needed a lot more documentation. Smith prepared a PowerPoint presentation, recorded the “bumper numbers” of all the vehicles involved, prodded surviving platoon members for more details, and built a whole “story book” around the incident. But at the third level, the Senior Army Decoration Board, that still wasn’t enough. The bureaucratic package was returned to Colonel Smith in December 2003. “Perhaps the Board had some sort of devil’s advocate, a former decorated soldier from Vietnam who was not completely convinced, either of the story or that it merited the medal.”

At this point, the Third Infantry Division was going to assign another officer to follow up on the paper trail. Colonel Smith knew that if that happened, the chances of Sergeant Smith getting the medal would die, since only someone from Sergeant Smith’s battalion would have the passion to battle the Army bureaucracy.

The Army was desperate for metrics. How many Iraqis exactly were killed? How many minutes exactly did the firefight last? The Army, in its own way, was not being unreasonable. As Colonel Smith told me, “Everyone wants to award a Medal of Honor. But everyone is even more concerned with worthiness, with getting it right.” There was a real fear that one unworthy medal would compromise the award, its aura, and its history. The bureaucratic part of the process is kept almost deliberately impossible, to see just how committed those recommending the award are: insufficient passion may indicate the award is unjustified.

“Nobody up top in the Army’s command is trying to find Medal of Honor winners to inspire the public with,” says Colonel Smith. “It’s the opposite. The whole thing is pushed up from the bottom to a skeptical higher command.”

Colonel Smith’s problem was that the platoon members were soldiers, not writers. To get more details from them, he drew up a list of questions and made them each write down the answers, which were then used to fill out the narrative. “Describe Sergeant Smith’s state of mind and understanding of the situation. Did you see him give instructions to another soldier? What were those instructions? When the mortar round hit the M113A3, where were you? What was Sergeant Smith’s reaction to it?”

“The answers came back in spades,” Colonel Smith told me. Suddenly he had a much fatter storybook to put into the application. He waited another year as the application made its way up to Personnel Command, Manpower and Reserve Affairs, the chief of the Army, the secretary of the Army, the secretary of defense, and the president. The queries kept coming. Only when it hit the level of the secretary of defense did Colonel Smith feel he could breathe easier.

The ceremony in the East Room of the White House two years to the day after Sergeant Smith was killed, where President George W. Bush awarded the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Smith’s 11-year-old son, David, was fitfully covered by the media. The Paul Ray Smith story elicited 96 media mentions for the eight week period after the medal was awarded, compared with 4,677 for the supposed abuse of the Koran at Guantánamo Bay and 5,159 for the disgraced Abu Ghraib prison guard Lynndie England, over a much longer time frame that went on for many months. In a society that obsesses over reality-TV shows, gangster and war movies, and NFL quarterbacks, an authentic hero like Sergeant Smith flickers momentarily before the public consciousness.

It may be that the public, which still can’t get enough of World War II heroics, even as it feels guilty about its treatment of Vietnam veterans, simply can’t deliver up the requisite passion for honoring heroes from unpopular wars like Korea and Iraq. It may also be that, encouraged by the media, the public is more comfortable seeing our troops in Iraq as victims of a failed administration rather than as heroes in their own right. Such indifference to valor is another factor that separates an all-volunteer military from the public it defends. “The medal helps legitimize Iraq for them. World War II had its heroes, and now Iraq has its,” Colonel Smith told me, in his office overlooking the Mississippi River, in Memphis, where he now heads the district office of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Colonel Smith believes there are other Paul Smiths out there, both in their level of professionalism and in their commitment—each a product of an all-volunteer system now in its fourth decade. How many others have performed as valiantly as Sergeant Smith and not been recommended for the Medal of Honor? After all, had it not been for that brief respite in combat in the early days of the occupation of Baghdad, the process for the sergeant’s award might not have begun its slow, dogged, and ultimately successful climb up the chain of command.




Also blogging
Flopping Aces/Mike's America

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The Washington Post Upturn


Read Sunday's Washington Post Editorial:
The Iraqi Upturn
Don't look now, but the U.S.-backed government and army may be winning the war.

Sunday, June 1, 2008; B06


THERE'S BEEN a relative lull in news coverage and debate about Iraq in recent weeks -- which is odd, because May could turn out to have been one of the most important months of the war. While Washington's attention has been fixed elsewhere, military analysts have watched with astonishment as the Iraqi government and army have gained control for the first time of the port city of Basra and the sprawling Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, routing the Shiite militias that have ruled them for years and sending key militants scurrying to Iran. At the same time, Iraqi and U.S. forces have pushed forward with a long-promised offensive in Mosul, the last urban refuge of al-Qaeda. So many of its leaders have now been captured or killed that U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, renowned for his cautious assessments, said that the terrorists have "never been closer to defeat than they are now."

Iraq passed a turning point last fall when the U.S. counterinsurgency campaign launched in early 2007 produced a dramatic drop in violence and quelled the incipient sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites. Now, another tipping point may be near, one that sees the Iraqi government and army restoring order in almost all of the country, dispersing both rival militias and the Iranian-trained "special groups" that have used them as cover to wage war against Americans. It is -- of course -- too early to celebrate; though now in disarray, the Mahdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr could still regroup, and Iran will almost certainly seek to stir up new violence before the U.S. and Iraqi elections this fall. Still, the rapidly improving conditions should allow U.S. commanders to make some welcome adjustments -- and it ought to mandate an already-overdue rethinking by the "this-war-is-lost" caucus in Washington, including Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Gen. David H. Petraeus signaled one adjustment in recent testimony to Congress, saying that he would probably recommend troop reductions in the fall going beyond the ongoing pullback of the five "surge" brigades deployed last year. Gen. Petraeus pointed out that attacks in Iraq hit a four-year low in mid-May and that Iraqi forces were finally taking the lead in combat and on multiple fronts at once -- something that was inconceivable a year ago. As a result the Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki now has "unparalleled" public support, as Gen. Petraeus put it, and U.S. casualties are dropping sharply. Eighteen American soldiers died in May, the lowest total of the war and an 86 percent drop from the 126 who died in May 2007.

If the positive trends continue, proponents of withdrawing most U.S. troops, such as Mr. Obama, might be able to responsibly carry out further pullouts next year. Still, the likely Democratic nominee needs a plan for Iraq based on sustaining an improving situation, rather than abandoning a failed enterprise. That will mean tying withdrawals to the evolution of the Iraqi army and government, rather than an arbitrary timetable; Iraq's 2009 elections will be crucial. It also should mean providing enough troops and air power to continue backing up Iraqi army operations such as those in Basra and Sadr City. When Mr. Obama floated his strategy for Iraq last year, the United States appeared doomed to defeat. Now he needs a plan for success.



Also blogging:
Bottomline Upfront
Hugh Hewitt

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Super Tuesday......Again!!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Hillaried Even More, Lately?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Pillaried a Lot, Lately?


Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

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