The wrong war 0

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if somehow, between now and July 2011 when American forces are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan, the Afghans could be made over into enlightened, fair-minded, peaceable people, free of old tribal conflicts, filled with a thirst for righteousness, respectful of women, eager to become law-abiding free-marketeers, and enthusiasts for establishing the customs and institutions that embody and support true democracy?

It would be more than wonderful, it would be a miracle.

But if that miracle could be worked, wouldn’t the achievement be worth the cost in blood and treasure of the long war America has been waging against the Taliban?

Some think so.

But what is actually happening among these backward, feuding, misogynistic, deeply ignorant people is a continuation of what has always been happening: feuding, subjugation of women, and savage cruelty – of which this is a very recent example from Afghan sources:

Taliban fighters have hanged a seven-year-old boy, claiming he was passing information to foreign soldiers in the volatile southern province of Helmand.

(“Volatile” is good. We like “volatile”.)

And of what is about to happen we are being nervously forewarned by US military commanders, according to this report from the Washington Post:

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Thursday that the civilian-military offensive scheduled to begin in the southern city of Kandahar this spring would take months longer than planned. The Afghan government has not produced the civilian leadership and trained security forces it was to contribute to the effort, U.S. officials said, and the support from Kandaharis that the United States was counting on Karzai to deliver has not materialized.

When you go to protect people, the people have to want you to protect them,” Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said … in explaining why the Kandahar operation has been pushed back until at least September.

“It’s a deliberative process. It takes time to convince people,” he told reporters at a meeting of NATO leaders in Brussels.

But time is short. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said this week that the U.S.-led coalition has until the end of the year to prove to the United States and its allies that their forces have broken a stalemate with the Taliban. …

In Marja, in western Helmand province, where Marines launched a major operation this year, U.S. efforts have been hindered by the absence or incompetence of Afghan officials and security forces and by the Taliban’s enduring resistance. …

Many  officials are despairing behind the scenes.

“Washington is making nice with [the corrupt President of Afghanistan] Karzai, but what good has that done?” a U.S. official in Afghanistan said. … “We need him to step up and take a leadership role, to get his government to support what we’re doing. But he’s either unwilling or unable to do it. …

In Kandahar, U.S. military officials said a complex web of official and unofficial power brokers stands to lose if efficient government and rule of law are imposed. “There are generations of families that have lived off corruption,” said 1st Lt. James Rathmann … who leads a platoon in Kandahar city …

The operational plan drawn up for Kandahar last spring began with U.S. Special Operations forces raids against individual insurgent leaders within the city and in the Taliban-heavy “bands” in surrounding districts. At the same time, U.S. civilians were to help organize shuras, or meetings of local leaders and elders, to offer development aid and encourage them to take political control. By June, more than 10,000 newly deployed U.S. troops were to begin clearing the Taliban from the outlying districts, up to 80 percent of which the military estimates is controlled by insurgents. …

McChrystal  … acknowledged that winning support from local leaders was tougher than expected. Some see the Taliban fighters as their Muslim brothers rather than oppressors; others are afraid of assassination by Taliban hit squads that target government supporters or see no advantage in challenging the existing political power structure.

“There’s no point in clearing an area until you have the capacity to do the hold, to bring governance” that does not now exist, one military official in Afghanistan said. “Without the Afghan government civilian capacity — without a district government that can provide some basic services — you’ll end up with what we’re experiencing in Marja right now.” …

Asked whether the delay leaves time for a decisive outcome by the end of the year, McChrystal was noncommittal. “It will be very clear by the end of the calendar year that the Kandahar operation is progressing,” he said. “I don’t know whether we’ll know whether it’s decisive. Historians will tell us that.”

Decisive? Changing Afghanistan forever? We don’t think so. Even if the Taliban fighters are wiped out in the forthcoming Battle of Kandahar, there will be no lasting change.

The war in Afghanistan is being fought for nothing.

The Taliban were whacked with the first offensive. The US should have withdrawn then, with a warning that if terrorists from Afghanistan attacked American targets again, they’d be whacked harder. The continuing campaign has been tragically pointless.

What American – or “coalition” – forces ought to be fighting is the urgently necessary war against the Iranian regime before it launches its nuclear attack.

Dream speech 0

Obama delivered a commencement speech at the US Military Academy at West Point which was studded with ironies.

From the Washington Post:

Obama pledged to shape a new “international order” based on diplomacy and engagement.

His presidency has been notable for diplomatic failures and not a single success. As for “engagement”, his obstinate persistence in trying to “engage” Iran has given it all the time it needed to develop nuclear bombs and build the ballistic missiles to deliver them. But a record of failure does not prompt Obama to reconsider his policy.

“Yes, we are clear-eyed about the shortfalls of our international system. But America has not succeeded by stepping outside the currents of international cooperation,” he said. “We have succeeded by steering those currents in the direction of liberty and justice — so nations thrive by meeting their responsibilities, and face consequences when they don’t.”

Just where has he “steered currents in the direction of liberty and justice”? Where has he got nations that do not “meet their responsibilities” to “face consequences”? Russia invaded Georgia, took and occupied two of its provinces, and Obama has not done a thing about it. What international cooperation has there been to make Russia withdraw?

“The international order we seek is one that can resolve the challenges of our times,” he said in prepared remarks. “Countering violent extremism and insurgency; stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials; combating a changing climate and sustaining global growth; helping countries feed themselves and care for their sick; preventing conflict and healing its wounds.”

He may be seeking such an international order, but he’s done nothing to bring it about. Far from “countering violent extremism and insurgency” he refuses even to name the perpetrators of it (Muslims) and the cause they serve (Islam). If he hoped his audience would assume he meant Iraq and Afghanistan, it should be remembered that he was always against the war in Iraq, has shown reluctance to win decisive victory in Afghanistan, and has told the enemy the dates when he’ll withdraw American troops from both battlefields regardless of whether anything that could be called victory has by then been achieved.

On “securing nuclear materials” he held a useless international conference, when Canada and one or two other non-belligerent states promised not to give fissile material to terrorists, but no real danger was eliminated.

And then he comes on to the tired and stupid mantra “combating climate change”. Combating climate? It’s a primitive and ignorant notion. Call in the rainmakers, or cool makers, or warm makers, and let them start their chants!

“Sustaining global growth”? How he feeds the buzz-words (such as “sustaining”) to his far left constituency and at the same time tries to give the impression that he is on the side of prosperity (“global growth”). But his flowery phrasing cannot conceal his lack of understanding.

In Iraq, he said, the United States is “poised” to end its combat operations this summer, leaving behind “an Iraq that provides no safe haven to terrorists; a democratic Iraq that is sovereign, stable and self-reliant.”

Since Obama came to office, there has been far less reporting of terrorist activity in Iraq by the anti-Bush and pro-Obama media. But in fact terrorism in that arrondissement of hell has not stopped. Lately it has intensified. The chances of Iraq becoming stable, “giving no haven to terrorists”, and evolving in this century into a truly democratic state are not worth betting on.

To address the military at all must, he knew, offend the far left constituency to which he long ago sold his soul. Much of his message was aimed at propitiating that radical left rather than reinforcing the morale of American soldiers.

Civilians, he added, must answer the call of service as well, by securing America’s economic future, educating its children and confronting the challenges of poverty and climate change.

His far left critics would understand that when he spoke of “securing America’s economic future” and “confronting the challenges of poverty and climate change” he meant with “green jobs” and redistribution. As for the education of children, they will take it to mean indoctrinating hapless kids with leftist ideology – a cause Obama served actively years ago in Chicago.

Here’s a dry summary of the speech by Arthur Herman in the National Review Online:

On Saturday, Pres. Barack Obama gave a commencement speech … which in effect told the thousand or so soon-to-be second lieutenants that, if he has his way, they’ll soon be out of a job.

Obama outlined for the cadets his vision of a new international order organized around bodies such as the United Nations. In Obama’s future, American military force will give way to American diplomacy joined together with new multilateral partnerships, while “stronger international standards and institutions” will replace unilateral assertion of national interests — including our own. Obama told West Point’s Class of 2010 that he sees them not battling our enemies but “combating a changing climate and sustaining global growth, [and] helping countries feed themselves” even as their citizens achieve their “universal rights.”

He’s still dreaming the dreams of his father.

Heroic inaction 0

Bush was right to go to war against the Taliban after 9/11.

The enemy was defeated quickly. Then Bush went wrong. American forces should have been withdrawn immediately, the Afghans left with a warning that if the slightest attempt was made by any group on their territory to attack America again – or Americans anywhere in the world – all hell would be unloosed on them, each time harder than the last.

The idea of democratizing Afghanistan is foolish. “Winning hearts and minds” is ingenuous idealism, or to put it more bluntly, sentimental tosh. And no, it has not been achieved in Iraq. The Iraqis do not love Americans, and their “democracy” is a sliver-thin veneer.

Forcing soldiers to be social workers is an insult and an abuse.

And now they are to be used even worse.

The job of a soldier, throughout history, has been to kill the enemy. But the politically correct ladies – of either sex – in charge of the Afghan engagement don’t approve of killing.

They think it would be nicer if a soldier refrained from killing or hurting. He should not shoot even when he’s being shot at, if there’s the least danger that a civilian might be caught in the fire.

How do you recognize a civilian? He or she is not in military uniform. But no terrorists wear uniforms, and they deliberately and habitually shoot from among families and even hospital patients, in order to use the higher morality of our side against ourselves.

What then should an American soldier do when he’s fired at from among civilians?

The ladies say that for not shooting, not killing, and not hurting the enemy, he should get a medal.

Here’s part of an Investors’ Business Daily editorial:

Some would reward timidity and cowardice with a medal for “courageous restraint” under fire.

A nonsensical proposal circulating in the Kabul headquarters of the International Security Forces in Afghanistan would give a medal to soldiers in battle who show restraint in the use of deadly force in situations where civilian casualties might result.

This will not protect civilians as much as it will endanger the lives of our troops.

Our soldiers are already disciplined and trained not to wantonly kill civilians. In Iraq and Afghanistan, they’ve placed themselves repeatedly at risk in an environment in which the enemy wears civilian clothes and uses civilians as human shields. Such an award would embolden the Taliban to continue, knowing that our soldiers will have an extra incentive to hesitate.

Giving a medal for not shooting after having been shot at was proposed by British Major Gen. Nick Carter, ISAF’s regional commander, during a recent visit to Sgt. Maj. Mike Hall of the Kandahar Army Command and the top U.S. enlisted member in Afghanistan. That it was not laughed right out of the tent is as disturbing as the idea itself.

“In some situations our forces face in Afghanistan,” explained Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Sholtis, a command spokesman, such restraint “is an act of discipline and courage not much different than those combat actions that merit awards for valor.”

We beg to differ. The persecution of the Haditha Marines and the Navy SEALs has already added an element of fear to doing what our soldiers are trained to do: win battles and kill the enemy. Rewarding them for showing hesitation under fire gives the enemy an added battlefield advantage and places our soldiers and those they are fighting for at added risk.

In Haditha, Iraq, on Nov. 19, 2005, a Marine convoy was ambushed by insurgents after a roadside bomb destroyed a Humvee, killing one Marine. The Marines returned fire coming from insurgents hiding in civilian homes. In the ensuing house-by-house, room-by-room battle, eight insurgents and several civilians used as human shields were killed.

For their bravery and doing what they were trained to do — use deadly force to subdue an enemy — the Haditha Marines were rewarded with courts-martial and the threat of prison. [They have all been found not guilty – JB.] Is it seriously being suggested that if they had run away, they’d have been given medals?

“The enemy already hides among noncombatants, and targets them too,” says Joe Davis, a spokesman for the 2.2-million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars. “The creation of such an award will only embolden their actions and put more American and noncombatant lives in jeopardy.” …

This medal is a slap in the face because it implies that discipline and concern for civilians is rare … This is war by political correctness, and it will get our soldiers killed.

Of course the commander-in-chief is a model of heroic inaction. He was honored and rewarded in advance, by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, presumably for not winning the war in Afghanistan, not making war on Iran, not discouraging the Palestinians from attacking Israel, not recognizing that Islam is waging war on the rest of the world, and not keeping America militarily strong.

Jihad central, Pennsylvania 3

World-wide, there have been over 15,000 terrorist attacks since 9/11, all of them carried out by Muslims in the name of Islam.

Almost all terrorist violence in the 21st century has been committed by Muslims. (Exceptions are so few they could be counted on the fingers of one hand, except in Sri Lanka, and there rebel Tamil terrorism has been defeated by government forces.)

American armed forces are at war with Muslim terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet Obama does not want the words “Muslim” or “Islam” to be mentioned in connection with terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security pretends  that there’s a fearful danger of terrorism coming from conservatives. No one really believes it. Something more dramatic being needed to distract attention from the actual Muslim threat, a bunch of “Christian warriors” who like to shoot guns in the wild were arrested recently and charged with plotting to “overthrow the government”  just so (we suspect) Obama’s spokesmen could make the claim that “not all terrorists are Muslim”.

Meanwhile, one of the chief directors of violent jihad issues his orders from a safe haven in the United States.

Paul Williams reports at Family Security Matters:

The most dangerous Islamist in the world is neither Afghani nor Arab. He comes from neither Sudan nor Somalia. And he resides in neither the mountains of Pakistan nor the deserts of the Palestinian territories. This individual has toppled the secular government of Turkey and established madrassahs throughout the world.

His schools indoctrinate children in the tenets of radical Islam and prepare adolescents for the Islamization of the world.

More than 90 of these madrassahs have been established as charter schools throughout the United States. They are funded by American taxpayers.

His name is Fethullan Gulen and he resides in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. Gulen plots the overthrow of secular governments and oversees the spread of education jihad throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Gulen is surrounded by an army of over 100 Turkish Islamists, who guard him and tend to his needs. The army is comprised of armed militants who wear suits and ties and do not look like traditional Islamists in cloaks and turbans. They follow their hocaefendi‘s (master lord’s) orders and even refrain from marrying until age 50 per his instructions. When they do marry, their spouses are expected to dress in the Islamic manner, as dictated by Gulen himself.

The Saylorsburg property consists of a massive chalet surrounded by numerous out buildings, including recreational centers, dormitories, cabins for visiting foreign dignitaries, a helicopter pad, and firing ranges.

Neighbors complain of the incessant sounds of gunfire – including the rat-tat-tat of fully automatic weapons – coming from the compound and the low flying helicopter that circles the area in search of all intruders.

The FBI has been called to the scene, the neighbors say, but no action has been taken to end the illegal activity.

Sentries stand guard at the gates to the estate to turn away all curiosity seekers. Within the sentry hut are wide screen televisions that project high resolution images from security cameras. Before the hut is a sign that reads “Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center.” …

Gulen fled Turkey in 1998 to avoid prosecution on charges that he was attempting to undermine Turkey’s secular government with the objective of establishing an Islamic government. Since his arrival in Pennsylvania, the Department of Homeland Security has been trying to deport him [really trying – for 12 years? – JB]. But in 2008 a federal court ruled that Gulan was an individual with “extraordinary ability in the field of education” who merited permanent residence status in the U.S. The ruling remains quizzical because Gulen has no formal education or training.

Gulen … was a student and follower of Sheikh Sa’id-i Kurdi (1878-1960), also known as Sa’id-i Nursi, the founder of the Islamist Nur (light) movement. After Turkey’s war of independence, Kurdi demanded, in an address to the new parliament, that the new republic be based on Islamic principles. He turned against Atatürk and his reforms and against the new modern, secular, Western republic. …

Turkey is now ruled by the Justice and Democratic Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma, AKP)- – a party under the Gulen’s control. Abdullah Gul, Turkey’s first Islamist President, is a Gulen disciple along with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Yusuf Ziya Ozcan, the head of Turkey’s Council of Higher Education.

Under the AKP, Turkey has transformed from a secular state into an Islamic country …

Despite the rhetoric of European Union accession, Turkey has transferred its alliance from Europe and the United States to Russia and Iran. It has moved toward friendship with Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria and created a pervasive anti-Christian, anti-Jewish, and anti-America animus throughout the populace. …

Gulen’s followers, known as Fethullahists, have gained control of [Turkey’s] media outlets, its financial institutions and banks, and its business organizations. …

Several countries have outlawed the establishment of Gulen schools and cemaats (communities) within their borders – including Russia and Uzbekistan. Even the Netherlands, a nation that embraces pluralism and tolerance, has opted to cut funding to the Gulen schools because of their imminent threat to the social order.

But Gulen’s activities in the United States, including the establishment of an armed fortress in the midst of the Pocono Mountains, have escaped national press attention. …

Why has the federal government opted to turn a blind eye to Gulen and his mountain fortress? Why have Gulen’s madrassahs been kept under the radar screen of Homeland Security?

Why have the CIA and FBI allowed Gulen to wreak havoc and topple secular governments without interruption or intervention?

The questions beg answers.

Is America in decline? 2

Is the world entering a post-American era? Will the 21st century be dominated by some other power, or several others?

In the splendid speech that John Bolton delivered at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2010, he said of Obama, “He is the first post-American president.”

In Obama’s eyes, American superpower status is already over. The decline is happening. There’s no reason to regret it, and it would be pointless and unnecessary to try to halt or reverse it. Obama is content to let America be a nation among the nations, no different in any important respect, and certainly no better. “He sees American decline as a kind of natural phenomenon,” Bolton said.

In Bolton’s own view, however, America is still exceptional and still the one and only superpower. If its status as such is under threat, that threat proceeds from Obama himself, who, almost casually – not caring very much, as John Bolton remarked, about foreign and national security policy – is himself weakening it.

What Obama does care about is domestic policy. To achieve his redistributionist goals he has put America into crushing debt; and being determined, it seems, to turn America into a European-style socialist state, he can only make the debt vaster and heavier. That alone weakens America.

China is America’s chief creditor, but that does not mean China is now a second superpower. A China growing in wealth and confidence, and becoming an increasingly significant world actor, may pose an economic threat to America but is not, or not yet, a rival world power. Militarily it is far from a match. Militarily, America is still far and away the most powerful nation.

But there again, if Obama has his way, it won’t be for much longer. He has, in Bolton’s words, an “incredibly naïve idea” that if the US would get rid of its own nuclear weapons, other countries would give up theirs; those that do not have them but want them – such as Iran and North Korea – would abandon their intense efforts to obtain them; and the world would live at peace forever after. This belief or ambition represents, as John Bolton put it, “a pretty deep-seated strain in the left wing of the Democratic Party.” Obama will soon negotiate an arms control agreement with Russia by which he will undertake substantially to reduce America’s nuclear capability. America will not develop new nuclear weapons, or arms in outer space, or even keep its existing arsenal battle-ready by testing for safety and reliability. It is as if America had no enemies; as if America were not under attack; as if 9/11 had never happened; and as if Iran and North Korea would not drop nuclear bombs on America and its allies if they could do it and get away with it.

Furthermore, with the rest of the dreaming Left both at home and internationally, he aspires to another vision of a new earth: one that is not only sweetly irenic but held forcibly in union by a supreme governing authority. Those proposals for world taxes that we hear of; the intricate business of trading in carbon indulgences in the name of saving the earth from being consumed by fire or ice; international treaty regulations that would result in banning the private ownership of guns – all these are measures to realize the tremendous objective of “world governance”. It would mean the end of American independence, the end of national sovereignty. It would mean that the Revolution was lost, as Bolton said.

In a sense it would be the end of America, because America is an idea of liberty. And it is an idea that the world needs. Its loss would be a colossal disaster, a tragedy for the whole human race.

Can America be saved?

In his book titled The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria asserts that “America is closing down”, but allows that it “won’t be demoted from its superpower position in the foreseeable future” because “it’s not that the United States has been doing badly over the last two decades. It’s that, all of a sudden, everyone else is playing the game.”

America can “remain a vital, vibrant economy, at the forefront of the next revolutions in science, technology and industry, as long as it can embrace and adjust to the challenges confronting it”.

“The challenges” come from other nations, now rising, which he groups together as “the rest”.

China is the first of them because it is becoming an economic giant. The 21st century, he considers, may be the Chinese century.

What if [China ] quietly positions itself as the alternative to a hectoring and arrogant America? How will America cope with such a scenario – a kind of Cold War, but this time with a vibrant market economy, a nation that is not showing a hopeless model of state socialism, or squandering its power in pointless military interventions? This is a new challenge for the United States, one it has not tackled before, and for which it is largely unprepared.

Next in line is India. Poorer but democratic, India is “the ally”. Then come Brazil and Chile (plausibly); South Africa (less plausibly); and (implausibly) Russia. (Russia is a demographic basket case.)

Ironically, Zakaria says, these nations are rising because they learnt from America:

For sixty years, American politicians and diplomats have traveled around the world pushing countries to open their markets, free up their politics, and embrace trade and technology. … We counseled them to be unafraid of change and learn the secrets of our success. And it worked: the natives have gotten good at capitalism.

America, then, has not been a malign power, or not always. In Roosevelt’s day other countries believed that “America’s mammoth power was not to be feared”. It was after it had won the Cold War, when it became the only superpower, that it began to go to the bad. “Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has walked the world like a colossus, unrivaled and unchecked”, and this “has made Washington arrogant, careless, and lazy.” Furthermore, he tell us, “people round the world worry about living in a world in which one country has so much power.”

To relieve that worry, America “must reduce its weaponry and work towards a non-nuclear world.” It is hypocritical for the US to insist that other countries should not have nuclear weapons while it is hoarding a nuclear arsenal of its own. By giving them up it would “gain credibility”, an end he apparently considers so desirable that it would be worth risking the nation’s very survival to achieve it.

The summer of 2002, Zakaria says, was “the high water-mark of unipolarity”. The world felt sympathy for America after 9/11. America went to war in Afghanistan, which was not good but not too bad. But then it invaded Iraq, which was very bad, and the world’s sympathy dried up. America was being too “unilateral”, too “imperial and imperious”.

George W Bush and “the nefarious neoconservative conspiracy” antagonized the world. He and his conspirators “disdained treaties, multilateral organizations, international public opinion, and anything that suggested a conciliatory approach to world politics.”

So the world’s dislike, contempt, and fear of America were justified, or at least understandable, in the light of the foreign policies of the “arrogant” Bush administration. Zakaria even claims that the animosity filled the Republicans – already full of “chest-thumping machismo” – with pride.

He asks:

Can Washington adjust and adapt to a world in which others have moved up? Can it respond to shift in economic and political power? … Can Washington truly embrace a world with a diversity of voices and viewpoints? Can it thrive in a world it cannot dominate?

The advice he gives to “Washington” for success in adjusting, adapting, responding, embracing, and thriving is to be conciliatory, apologetic. It must listen more; proclaim universal values”, but “phrase its positions carefully”; be like the chair of a board gently guiding a group of independent directors. America must “learn from the rest”. The president must meet more non-government people, have smaller entourages, rely more on diplomacy. Consultation, cooperation, compromise are the key words. He objects to such accomodations being called appeasement. Consult and cooperate, he urges, with Russia, and with “multilateral institutions” such as the UN, NATO, AFRICOM, OAS, and the International Criminal Court. (Even internally, the US legal system “should take note of transnational standards”.)

The federal government has been “too narrow-minded” about terrorism. When bin Laden got America to “come racing out to fight” him (in response to 9/11) this was “over-reaction.”  Zakaria’s advice: “take it on the chin” and “bounce back”. The government must stop thinking of terrorism as a national security issue, and think of it as criminal activity carried out by “small groups of misfits”. Although Democrats were on the whole “more sensible” about terrorism, both parties, he says, spoke “in language entirely designed for a domestic audience with no concern for the poisonous effect it has everywhere else.” His solution is better airport control round the world. The more urgent problem in his view is that American Muslims have become victims of over-reaction to terrorist attacks. Instead of being “questioned, harassed, and detained” they should, he urges, “be enlisted in the effort to understand the appeal of Islamic fundamentalism.”

Zakaria does not consider himself anti-American. He does not even see himself as a man of the left. He reiterates that he is a free marketeer. It is because America became “suspicious of free markets”, he says, that partly explains its “closing down”.

He wrote his book before the economic crisis. He saw a globalized economy bringing about an increasingly prosperous world in which the poorest nations were rising strongly enough for him to declare that “the world is swimming in capital”, and “there really isn’t a Third World any more “. But even then the dollar was sliding, and America was showing signs of being “enfeebled”.

At a military-political level America still dominates the world, but the larger structure of unipolarity – economic, financial, cultural – is weakening… every year it becomes weaker and other nations and actors grow in strength.

For all its military might, its chest-thumping phase is over and now it is “cowering in fear”. It must, he says, “recover its confidence.” ‘It must stop being “a nation consumed by anxiety”, with a tendency to “hunker down”, unreasonably “worried about unreal threats” such as terrorism, and rogue nations like North Korea and Iran. (Iran, he explains, has good reason to fear the United States, with its armies on two of its borders. It’s only to be expected that Iran would try to arm itself with nuclear bombs and missile delivery systems. He does not explain why America should not fear this as a real threat.)

He is certain about what America needs to do to propitiate and serve the world it has alienated. It should ‘‘build broad rules by which the world will be bound’’, rather than pursue “narrow interests”.

What the world really wants from America is … that it affirm its own ideals. That role, as the country that will define universal ideals, remains one that only America can play.

We know Obama has read Zakaria’s book, or at least looked into it, because there is a photograph of him holding it, one finger marking his place. Obama is doing much that Zakaria advises in foreign affairs. But that’s less likely to be because the writer has impressed the president with his arguments than because they have both drunk from the same ideological well.

Obama’s foreign policy lets us see if Zakaria’s theory works. So far it has not.

So is America’s decline beyond all remedy?

It’s a relief to turn from Zakaria’s dull and weakly reasoned book with its uncongenial credo to an article titled The Seductions of Decline (February 2, 2010) by brilliantly witty and insightful Mark Steyn. If America believes it is in decline, he says, it will be. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The view that America has been too arrogant a power; that it is not and should not be exceptional; that humility and apology are required of it; that only endlessly patient negotiation in a spirit of compromise will improve foreign relations and dissuade states like North Korea and Iran from acquiring nuclear arms; that Islamic terrorism should be treated as crime and not as the jihad its perpetrators declare it to be; that Russia should be consulted on, say, the deployment of American missile defense; and that the US should reduce its nuclear arsenal and work towards a non-nuclear world – will bring about the decline.

National decline is psychological – and therefore what matters is accepting the psychology of decline.

His answer to the question “is America set for decline?” is yes, because of the policies of Obama and the Democrats, which arise from their acceptance of decline.

Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: Unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the American economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet.

American decline, he says, “will be steeper, faster and more devastating than Britain’s – and something far closer to Rome’s.” It will not be like France’s, or Austria’s.

Why did decline prove so pleasant in Europe? Because it was cushioned by American power. The United States is such a perversely non-imperial power that it garrisons not ramshackle colonies but its wealthiest “allies”, from Germany to Japan. For most of its members, “the free world” has been a free ride.

And after “Washington’s retreat from la gloire” as hegemon of the world, when America “becomes Europe in its domestic disposition and geopolitical decline, then who will be America?”

Of the many competing schools of declinism, perhaps the most gleeful are those who salivate over the rise of China. For years, Sinophiles have been penning orgasmic fantasies of mid-century when China will bestride the world and America will be consigned to the garbage heap of history. It will never happen: As I’ve been saying for years, China has profound structural problems. It will get old before it gets rich.

Not China then. Russia?

The demographic deformation of Tsar Putin’s new empire is even more severe than Beijing’s. Russia is a global power only to the extent of the mischief it can make on its acceleration into a death spiral.

Not Russia. How about the Caliphate that the terrorist war is being fought to establish?

Even if every dimestore jihadist’s dreams came true, almost by definition an Islamic imperium will be in decline from Day One.

So what might the post-American world look like? Mark Steyn’s answer is deeply depressing:

The most likely future is not a world under a new order but a world with no order – in which pipsqueak states go nuclear while the planet’s wealthiest nations, from New Zealand to Norway, are unable to defend their own borders and are forced to adjust to the post-American era as they can. Yet, in such a geopolitical scene, the United States will still remain the most inviting target – first, because it’s big, and secondly, because, as Britain knows, the durbar moves on but imperial resentments linger long after imperial grandeur.

But nothing is inevitable, and Mark Steyn offers a last hope. Though “decline is the way to bet”, the only thing that will ensure it is “if the American people accept decline as a price worth paying for European social democracy.”

When in 2008 a majority of the American electorate voted for Barack Obama to be president of the United States, it seemed that the deal had been made. But now Obama is failing, the Democratic majority is under threat, and the Tea Party movement is reclaiming the Revolution.

This could be another American century after all.

Jillian Becker   March 1, 2010

Europe betrayed 0

Here is an account of how and why twenty million Muslims were imported into Europe, and to what effect.

The information is condensed from Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis by Bat Ye’or. (The wording is largely hers, with some added notes and comments of my own – JB.)

1969 France sells 110 Mirage jets to new Libyan dictator, Muammar Qaddafi. Explores with him the concept of a Euro-Arab dialogue. Becomes in the following years a major supplier of arms to many Arab states.

1973 May: London. Conference of Islamic Cultural Centers.  Islamic leaders decide to create, fund and support cultural centres in Europe as ‘a great need was felt [in Europe] for the tenets of Islam’ and such centres would help Muslim communities in Europe play this role [of teaching the tenets of Islam] effectively and fruitfully.’ The Conference also ‘decided to establish the Islamic Council of Europe to serve as an organ of co-ordination among all Islamic institutions and centres.’ It was to ‘propagate the true teachings of Islam throughout Europe.’ Thus there was to be a ‘stepping up of the activities of the Islamic Da’awa [proselytism]’.  To this end, an International Islamic News Agency was to be established, also a Jihad Fund open to subscription ‘with no restrictions’.

The ‘rights’ of immigrants to preserve their beliefs, traditions and national cultures were to be guaranteed by the Europeans. Facilities for the teaching of Arabic were to be ‘improved’. The establishment of a Euro-Arab University was proposed (and initial steps to do so were taken in subsequent years including the founding of the Euro-Arab Business Management School in Granada in 1994).

October 16-17: Kuwait. Mortified by the defeat of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in their war against Israel, the Arab oil-producing countries meet and decide to quadruple the price of oil and to reduce their production of crude oil by 5% each month until Israel withdraws from the territories those three countries lost to Israel in 1967 and failed to recover in 1973. Impose an oil embargo on the US, Denmark, the Netherlands as states friendly to Israel. Sheikh Yamani of Saudi Arabia threatens that the oil states could ‘reduce production by 80%’ and asks the West ‘How could you survive with that?’ In response the US stands firm, France and Germany panic.

November 6: Brussels. Meeting of the EEC nine members. Ignoring objections from Washington, the meeting insists on starting an appeasing approach to the Arab oil states. They issue a joint Resolution based on their dependence on Arab oil, in which they pledge themselves to support the Arabs diplomatically in their conflict with Israel. This was sufficient to induce the Arab states to increase oil supplies and ‘open a dialogue’ (as already conceived in discussions between France and Libya). Thus began a Euro-Arab political solidarity pact that was hostile not only to Israel but also to America.

November 26-27: Georges Pompidou, President of France, and Willy Brandt, Chancellor of West Germany meet. Reaffirm intention to ‘engage in a dialogue with the Arabs’.

November 28: Algiers. Sixth Summit of the Arab Conference. Arab heads of state address a Declaration to the EEC,  noting with interest ‘the first manifestations of a better understanding of the Arab cause by the states of Western Europe’, and setting out Arab political preconditions for the projected dialogue.  The Declaration stresses that the political and economic aspects are interdependent and non-negotiable – ie the supply of oil depends on EEC acceptance of Arab political conditions concerning Israel.

December 15:   Copenhagen. An EEC summit,  called by President Pompidou of France, considers the planning for co-operation between the EEC countries and the Arab League. Four Arab foreign ministers, delegated by the Algiers Arab summit, are invited  to monitor the project. They suggest various strategies in the context of the conditions that the Arab states place on any accord with the EEC.

1974 February 24: Lahore. The Second Islamic Conference, organized by the recently created Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) confirms and elaborates the conditions for co-operation with the EEC.

June 10: Bonn. Britain (which had joined the EEC in 1973, as had Ireland and Denmark), had vetoed the Euro-Arab Dialogue in protest against Holland being under an Arab embargo ‘for being pro-Israeli’, but  the embargo was lifted against Holland, so now  the foreign ministers of the EEC states meet to discuss ‘the Dialogue’.  Areas of co-operation  between Europe and the Arab states include industry and agriculture, science and technology, finance, education, and ‘civil infrastructure’. The Arab states, in other words, are being promised massive transfers of money and know-how with programmes to industrialise and modernise their countries.

Note:  All this was desperately desired by the Arab states, and the provision of it could have been used by Europe as a counter-lever to the oil blackmail which the Arabs had brought to bear on Europe. Furthermore, the Arab oil states needed to sell their oil to Europe, and needed to invest in a thriving European economy. The European governments could have dictated terms. But the EEC, under insistent French leadership, preferred to appease rather than negotiate. The motivation for France was not only commercial. It was a desire to re-acquire a large sphere of influence in the Arab world, in pursuit of an intense ambition to achieve super-power status and so to rival the United States.

July 31: Paris. The first official meeting at ministerial level between the Europeans and the Arabs to discuss the organization of the Dialogue.  An institutionalized structure is created to harmonize and unify the trade and co-operation policies of each of the  EEC countries with the member states of the Arab League.

The EEC founds The European Parliamentary Association for Euro-Arab Cooperation ‘to improve political, cultural, and economic cooperation between Europe and the Arab world’.   Its Executive Committee set to meet regularly every six months.  All the  political parties and groupings of Europe are members of it.  It is to keep in regular contact with European governments, the Presidency of the European Council of Ministers, and the EEC Commission.

September 14-17: Damascus. To meet Arab demands in preparation for the next summit of the Arab Conference, the Association convenes representatives of all the parliamentary parties of the EEC member states except Denmark and resolves, inter alia, to permit the participation of the PLO and its leader, Yasser Arafat, into all negotiations, and  to bring pressure to bear on the United States to shift its Middle East policy in favour of the Arabs. Also to permit Arab countries to export millions of their populations into all the EEC countries, along with their culture and their customs.

October: Rabat. The Seventh Summit of the Arab Conference confirms that the indispensable political preconditions for the Euro-Arab Dialogue have been met by the EEC. The Arabs stress that the interdependence of the political and economic aspects of European-Arab cooperation is not negotiable, ie European oil supplies are dependent on European support for Arab political demands.

A permanent Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD) secretariat of 350 members is created, with its seat in Paris,  for the purpose of promoting economic and political cooperation. The EAD is organized into various committees charged with planning ‘joint industrial, commercial, political, scientific, technical, cultural, and social projects’.  European members are for the most part persons with vested interests in the Arab and Islamic world, whether commercial or in relation to their academic jobs as Arabists and Islamists.

Note: The EEC had been conceived of as an economic institution, dealing with markets, finance, and trade. The Arab states’ pressure for a unified European policy to meet  their political demands were a vital factor in the development of the EEC  from an economic to a political union.

1975 June 10: Cairo. First meeting of The Euro-Arab Dialogue. EEC delegates meet with those of 20 Arab states and the PLO.  The basis of the agreement with Europe is emphasised:  economic deals with Europe in exchange for European alignment with Arab policy on Israel.

With that locked in place, other agreements could follow.

July 24: Rome, and November 27: Abu Dhabi.  EAD meetings. Co-operation extends and deepens.

1976 May 18-20: Luxembourg.  EAD organization and procedures are defined. ‘The Dialogue’ is composed of three organs:

A General Committee – presidency jointly held by heads of Arab and European delegations.  All delegates on both sides are of ministerial and ambassadorial rank.  Purpose, to keep the Dialogue on track. (No wavering on Europe’s part from the founding commitments.) Meetings secret.  No recorded minutes. Can publish summaries of decisions and issue press releases.

A Working Committee. Made up of business experts, economists, oil specialists along with Arab League and EC representatives.  Again, joint Arab League/EC presidency.

A Coordinating Committee.  To co-ordinate the work of various working parties set up by the other committees.

Further EAD meetings (several in Brussels, then in Tunis in February 1977) establish the conditions for an intertwining of Arab and European policies: the establishment of a Palestinian state with Yasser Arafat as its leader; a campaign to bring worldwide political and economic pressure on Israel to force its withdrawal to its 1949 armistice border [as a step in a policy of ‘stages’ with the ultimate aim of extinguishing the State of Israel]; an international boycott of Israel and opposition to any separate peace treaties; promotion of Anti-Israel media propaganda.

Note: The Arabs at this point had not got all they wanted from Europe. They had to accept some significant failures – attested to by the fact that Israel continued to exist, which is nothing short of astonishing in the light of the jihad campaign working so persistently and in most respects triumphantly against it – but they contented themselves temporarily with partial success.

Meetings of the EAD committees continue into 1978.  Then the Camp David agreement between Egypt and Israel acts as a brake on EAD activity.

1980 The EAD meets again when the Europeans are worried about declining oil production in Iran, and the Arabs want to complain to Europe about the Israeli-Egyptian treaty.

1981 January 25-28: Mecca and Taif. The Third Islamic Summit Conference issues a Declaration of Holy Jihad ‘as the duty of every Muslim, man or woman, ordained by the Shariah and the glorious traditions of Islam; to call upon all Muslims, living inside or outside Islamic countries, to discharge this duty by contributing each according to his capacity in the cause of Allah Almighty, Islamic brotherhood, and righteousness.’

One of the chief aims the declaration specifies is ‘to save Al-Quds’ – ie to take Jerusalem into Arab possession. To this aim, through the EAD, Europe accedes, co-operating with the Arab campaign to isolate and vilify Israel and  helping to deliver the United Nations as an  instrument of Arab jihadic purpose.

Note: The EC/EU’s moral commitment to connive at the Palestinian jihad compromised the very foundations of freedom and Western culture, and did not make Europe safer.

Europe is also a designated target of jihad. The national governments are not unaware of the threat that hangs over them, and from early on fear has been one of the motivating causes of the European policy of appeasement:-

1998 Damascus:  Three years before ‘Islamikazes’ carried out the 9/11 mass murder of Americans in New York, six years before the massacres of commuter-train passengers in Madrid, seven years before the underground and bus bombing atrocities in London, a conference of the Euro-Arab Parliamentary Dialogue is held in Syria, under the auspices of the murderous dictator Hafiz al-Assad. Members of fourteen national European parliaments and the European Parliament attend, also representatives of the European Commission. Arab members of sixteen non-democratic parliaments and representatives of the Arab League bring a heavy threat to bear openly on the Europeans: they stress that ‘peace and stability in Europeis ‘closely connected’ to Europe’s compliance with Arab Middle East policy. The official reports of the Dialogue constantly reiterate this point. It could not have been impressed more firmly on European parliamentarians and the EU Commission that jihad could be unleashed against Europe itself if Arab conditions were not met.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the EAD continued to serve as a vehicle for policy decided at Islamic Conferences. It was the principle instrument for implementing the resolutions of the Arab conferences. It advanced the Arab mission of implanting millions of Muslims into Europe who come with no intention of integrating into European culture and society, but arrive with the desire and the legal right, granted by the EEC/EU, to impose their own culture upon the host country – a culture fired by a fundamentalist mission of violent jihad.

It facilitated the creation of those fundamentalist trends. It introduced the educational and cultural programs of the European Islamic Centres into European schools – programs enthusiastically accepted and applied by European political leaders, intellectuals, and activists. EAD facilitated the creation of fundamentalist trends.

2000 The European Commission provides  funds to revive a dormant organisation called the European Institute for Research on Mediterranean and Euro-Arab Cooperation, known as MEDEA. (The Euro-Arab political partnership was increasingly called ‘Mediterranean’, the Arab states being referred to as ‘the South’ and the EU states as ‘the North’.)  MEDEA is now chaired by a  Belgian minister for foreign affairs who reorganises MEDEA’s European Parliament section of over 100 members. There are also MEDEA sections in individual national parliaments. Subsequently the organisation issues regular press releases to opinion- makers, intellectuals and pressure groups, and plays a major role in spreading Arab influence in Europe.

2001 September 11: New York and Washington. ‘Islamikaze’ terrorists fly hijacked planes into the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, killing close on 3000 people. Another hijacked plane is forced down by its passengers near Shanksville in Pennsylvania. President Bush declares ‘War on Terror’.

October: The US, its military assisted by seven other countries, the UK primarily, also Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and Italy, invades Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to overthrow  that fundamentalist Islamic government. The Taliban had equipped al-Qaeda, the  organization, led by Osama bin Laden, which had despatched the terrorist attackers of America. The Taliban is (temporarily) overthrown.

2002 June 20. Brussels:  The Arabs ask for special privileges for Arab immigrants into the EU to put them ‘on an equal basis with Europeans’. The host countries are exhorted to provide Arab immigrants with vocational training, freedom of movement, suitable living conditions, and financial aid if they should choose to return to their homelands.

2003 March 20: The US and Britain invade Iraq to overthrow the dictator Saddam Hussein. Other countries, including Spain, lend various degrees of military assistance.  France and Russia emphatically oppose the invasion. Anti-war demonstrations, intensely anti-American, are staged throughout Europe.

In this year the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI) reports to the European Commission that the economic outlook for Europe is  gloomy but would be brightened if there were to be increased Arab immigrationIn Britain, however, the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, warns that the imposing of mass immigration on a populace that did not want it, threatened the social fabric of Britain because of “the disintegration of community relations and social cohesion”.

December 2-3. Naples:  At a Euro-Mediterranean Conference of ministers of foreign affairs, EU officials reaffirm Europe’s ‘solidarity’ with its ‘Mediterranean partners’. At this conference even more foundations, committees and subcommittees are proposed.  The European Bank  – an institution funded entirely by Europe’s tax-payers – will open a subsidiary to serve Arab (sharia conforming) requirements. The absence of democracy in the Arab states, their economic stagnation, continuing terrorism carried out in many parts of the world in the name of Islam, are not matters on which the Europeans choose to lay stress.

2004 March 11 Madrid: Terrorist bombs are exploded by Muslim residents of Spain on commuter trains. Nearly 200 people killed, nearly 2000 injured. The response of the Spanish electorate a few days later is to vote Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who supported President Bush in his war on Iraq, out of power, and vote in Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero who has opposed Spain’s participation in the Iraq war. The change favours the Islamic terrorists. The result amounts to a national capitulation to terrorism.

November 2.  Amsterdam: Theo van Gogh, Dutch film maker, is shot, stabbed and has his throat slit by a Dutch-born Muslim. The victim had made a film about the abuse of Muslim women.

In this year Eastern European countries are admitted into the EU. Arab leaders fear that their immigrants will no longer be welcome in Western Europe. They ask for and are granted assurances that Europe’s chief sources of immigration will continue to be ‘above all the Mediterranean Arab countries.’  So EU policy in this regard is (yet again) shaped to conform to Arab demands. It will ‘balance’ its expansion into Eastern Europe with an increase in Arab immigration.

2005 July 7: London. Terrorist bombs explode on three underground trains and a bus in central London.  56 killed, about 700 injured. The killers are identified as British born Muslims.

Violent jihad had been unleashed against Europe from within.

Increasingly the continent is being made to feel the tragic consequences of its policies. In the light of the demographic facts on the ground – a drastic shrinking of indigenous populations and an exponential rise in the numbers of  Muslims – it seems it may now be too late for it to save itself.

Jillian Becker February 11, 2010

A success or a mess? 0

McCLATCHY reports:

As the U.S. and its allies try to overcome logistical hurdles and rush [?] some 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan in 2010, intelligence officials are warning that the Taliban-led insurgency is expanding and that “time is running out” for the U.S.-led coalition to prove that its strategy can succeed.

‘Succeed’ at what? What will constitute success? Can anyone describe what Afghanistan will look like when ‘the US-led coalition’s strategy’ has succeeded?

The report goes on:

The Taliban have created a shadow “government-in-waiting,” complete with Cabinet ministers, that could assume power if the U.S.-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai fails, a senior International Security Assistance Force intelligence official said in Kabul, speaking only on the condition of anonymity as a matter of ISAF policy.

As the Obama administration and its European allies face dwindling public and political support for the eight-year-old Afghan war, the Taliban now have what the official called “a full-fledged insurgency” and shadow governors in 33 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, including those in the north, where U.S. and other officials had thought the Islamic extremists posed less of a threat.

The Taliban’s return to the northern provinces, including Baghlan, Kunduz and Taqhar … poses serious security, logistical and political problems for the U.S.-led ISAF and Karzai’s government.

The northern region is under the command of German forces, but they and other European contingents operate under restrictions imposed by their governments that limit offensive operations against the Taliban.

The Taliban now threaten the northern supply route that the ISAF established to supplement the vulnerable routes that run through Pakistan, where the U.S.-backed government is battling its own Islamic extremists and growing sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims.

The Taliban in northern Afghanistan are sheltering among and recruiting from large communities of Pashtuns — descendants of settlers transplanted from the south in the early 20th century — fueling tensions with the Uzbeks and Tajiks who dominate the region.

At the same time, though, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Chechens and Arabs linked to al Qaida have moved into northern Afghanistan with the Taliban, seeking to carry their jihad to the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and alarming Russia, which is grappling with Islamic insurgencies in the republics of Chechnya and Dagestan.

As the Taliban have extended their reach, they’ve also grown more formidable militarily by developing bigger and more effective improvised explosive devices. Insurgents have mounted 7,228 IED attacks so far this year, compared with 81 in 2003, and … the homemade bombs have even destroyed some Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, the most heavily armored U.S. troop transports….

So will success be a state of peaceful, happy co-existence among the Pashtuns, Uzbeks, and Tajiks? How likely is this?

Why are they in conflict with each other? What must change so that the ‘tensions’ between them will suddenly end? How can this be brought about?

What will make the Taliban abandon its intentions? What will have changed for them?

If by some remote chance the Karzai government found itself with an effective native fighting force, what would it do to achieve a pacified Afghanistan? Or will there be perpetual internecine war?

What might the US have gained by the time its army is pulled out? What does it want to gain?

We beg for enlightenment. Would someone who knows the answers please give them to us? We see nothing but a mess into which American troops have been plunged for no discernible reason, to fight and die with one arm tied behind their back, so to speak, for no defined or even definable goal.

A surge of restraint 0

Again it is Diana West who says what needs to be said about the war in Afghanistan.

From the Washington Examiner:

Army 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 was, said a third, “gentle.”

“Ineffectual” is more like it. Throw in “callous,” too, given House members’ obligations to constituents in the war zone, operating under what are surely the most restrictive rules of engagement in U.S. history.

But not a single lawmaker appears to have ventured one question about these dangerously disarming ROEs, which, in McChrystal’s controversial view, are key to the success of his “counterinsurgency” strategy. What kind of a commander puts his forces’ lives at increased risk for a historically unsuccessful theory that depends not on winning battles against enemies, but on winning the “trust,” or, as we used to say (and as Gen. David Petraeus put it in Iraq), the “hearts and minds” of a primitive people immersed in the anti-Western traditions of Islam?

That would have made a nice icebreaker of a question for any lawmaker troubled by the Petraeus-McChrystal policy of elevating Afghan “population protection” over U.S. “force protection” to win “the support” of this 99 percent Islamic country, and the rules that American forces must follow to do so. If, that is, there were any lawmakers so troubled.

Things really tightened up back in July, when McChrystal essentially grounded air support for troops except in dire circumstances. … The McChrystal counterinsurgency rules now include: No night searches. Villagers must be warned before searches. Afghan National Army or Afghan police must accompany U.S. units on searches. Searches must account, according to International Security Assistance Force headquarters, “for the unique cultural sensitivities toward local women.” (“Islamic repressiveness” is more accurate, but that’s another story.) U.S. soldiers may not fire on the enemy unless the enemy is preparing to fire first. U.S. forces may not engage the enemy if civilians are present. U.S. forces may fire at an enemy caught in the act of placing an improvised explosive device, but not walking away from IED area. And on it goes.

Here’s another ROE that McChrystal should have been asked to justify to all Americans who hope to see their loved ones return home in one piece. The London Times recently reported that Marines, about to embark on a dangerous supply mission, were shown a PowerPoint presentation that first illustrated locations of IEDs along the way and then warned the Marines “not to fire indiscriminately even if they were fired on.”

The Times story went on to note: “The briefing ended with a projected screen of McChrystal’s quote: “It’s not how many you kill, it’s how many you convince.”

Another question: How many you convince of what, general? Of the depravity of child marriage? Of the injustice of Shariah laws that subjugate women and non-Muslims? Of the inhumanity of jihad?

Of course not. In an oblique reference that likely took in Islam, McChrystal told Congress: “I think it’s very important that from an overall point of view, we understand how Afghan culture must define itself, and we be limited in our desire to change the fundamentals of it.”

Fine. I don’t want to change Afghan culture, either. But acknowledging its roots in an ideology that is anti-Western is crucial to devising strategy for the region. That’s obvious. But not to any of our leaders.

Final question: Are such leaders, civilian and military, doing their duty when they send the nation to war with a strategy that totally ignores jihad, the war doctrine of the enemy?

Posted under Afghanistan, Commentary, Islam, jihad, Muslims, Terrorism, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Sunday, December 13, 2009

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Vive Rambo! 1

We owe the following to NCR, a reader and vet, who emailed it to us. It was written by a French soldier in Afghanistan. The translator is unknown.

We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while – they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. [It is the 101st Airborne – NCR] We live with them and have got to know them, and we know we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army.

They have terribly strong American accents – to us the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word?  Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine [Heh. More like Waffle House and McDonald’s – NCR) – they are all head and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them – we are wimps, even the strongest of us – and because of this they often mistake us for Afghans.

Honor, motherland – everything here reminds one of that: the American flag flying in the wind above the outpost … Even though recruits may often originate from the heart of American cities and gang territory, they all hold high and proud the star spangled banner.

Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provide them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location: books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is made aware of how much the American people back him in his difficult mission.

This is a first shock to our preconceptions: the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team is the focus of all his attention.

And they are impressive warriors!

We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you [that we think this] when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how.

The wearing of combat kit never seems to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.), and the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to trouble them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles, their sight unmoving in the direction of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues night and day. At night, all movements are performed in the dark – only a few subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered – everything happens in pitch dark, even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

And combat? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all – always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always with the shortest delay.

That is one of their tricks: they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat-ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting: they just charge! They disembark and assault in stride. They bomb first and ask questions later – which cuts any pussyfooting short.

This is one of the great strengths of the American force in combat and it is something that even our closest allies, such as the Brits and Aussies, find repeatedly surprising. No wonder it surprises the hell out of our enemies.

We seldom hear any harsh word from them, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit.

A passing American helicopter will stop near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright. An American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is.

From what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a splendid and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

To those who bestow upon us the honor of sharing their combat outposts, and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to America’s army deployed on Afghan soil, we owe this tribute, hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and always continue to hear them say that we are all a band of brothers.

Posted under Afghanistan, France, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Monday, December 7, 2009

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Fostering the Taliban into the Vienna Boys Choir 0

It’s hard to see what America has to gain by fighting any kind of war in Afghanistan. But if a war is to be fought at all, it should be done with overwhelming force, sustained until victory is complete. Anything less is an expense of lives and dollars in a waste of shame.

We appreciate this splendid stinging scorn for the fiasco of a war that Obama is waging, from the ever sharp pen of Diana West:

Barack Obama is sending 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, to come home again starting in 2011.

Madness.

Worse is the conservative reaction. The futility of “nation-building” in the Islamic world lost on the poor infidels, they deem the president’s plan correct even if undermined by the exit date.

This means the leftist White House and the conservative opposition have signed the same suicide pact to sink this country ever deeper into the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

For no achievable thing.

Not that our military, unleashed, couldn’t achieve whatever it wanted. Four years to roll back Nazi-occupied Europe, but eight years and counting to roll back Taliban-occupied bedrock? Today’s military, of course, is and will continue to be tightly leashed, bound by criminally restrictive rules of engagement and strategies to serve an unproven theory of “counterinsurgency,” a demeaning campaign to make 20-plus million Afghans like us more than jihad-happy Taliban drug-thugs, no matter what it takes in terms of billions of dollars and the blood of our bravest.

But this isn’t a conventional war, critics say. There’s no comparison between World War II and today.

You can say that again.

But why isn’t there? Why couldn’t there be? Or, to turn the question around, what if World War II had been fought as a counterinsurgency?

What if, instead of waging total war on the Axis powers — firebombing and nuking German and Japanese cities and, in the process, killing tens of thousands of Germans and Japanese — the Allies had tried something a little more postmodern? What if they had tried instead to win “Kraut” hearts and “Jap” minds?

What if Gen. Eisenhower, like Gen. McChrystal today in Afghanistan, had wandered through German towns, asking das volk, “What do you need?” What if Gen. MacArthur, like Gen. McChrystal today, had emphasized Japanese population protection over U.S. force protection, ordering troops to guard “the people” from everything that could hurt them? What if U.S. forces had bought and paid for a Sunni-style “Nazi awakening”? What if Gens. Patton and MacArthur had rewritten constitutions to enshrine Nazism in Germany and Shintoism in Japan? What if the United States remained to protect the new governments from “extremists” who, as President Obama said this week, “distorted and defiled,” respectively, their ideology and religion?

The East Coast would be speaking German, and the West Coast would be speaking Japanese.

Luckily, we didn’t have proponents of “armed social work” pulling the levers back then, commanders who today see in every Taliban redoubt lollipop-ready customers for micro-loans — if, that is, the troops can only survive the booby-trapped house-to-house searches to complete the necessary paperwork.

Take Marjeh, for instance. An enemy stronghold in Helmand province that doubles as a hub of the opium trade and a manufacturing center for IEDs (which cause more than 80 percent of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan), Marjeh is a much-discussed potential target for incoming reinforcements.

This promises to be a moral if not a strategic blunder. If Marjeh is so vital to the American war effort it should be bombed into surrender or smithereens, whichever comes first — not seized in a casualty-costly ground assault.

And even then, as the Washington Post notes, any Helmand Province “gains will be transitory if U.S. forces do not build effective local police forces and foster a government that is relatively free of corruption and able to provide for the Afghan people, U.S. officials said.”

Is that all? Anything else U.S. forces should do while they’re at it? “Build” Hamid Karzai into Abe Lincoln? “Foster” the Taliban into the Viennese boys choir?

“This will be a credibility test for the (Afghan) government to see if it can deliver,” said a spokesman for McChrystal.

A credibility test. To see if the government can deliver. Using flesh-and-blood Americans as game pieces. This is sickening and sick. …

Posted under Afghanistan, Commentary, Defense, Islam, Terrorism, United States, War by Jillian Becker on Saturday, December 5, 2009

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