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Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Battle of Gaza and The Real War

December 29th, 2008 - 10:03 am

It was only a matter of time before Israel lashed out at Hamas in Gaza.  Even the appeasers in Israel, of whom there are many, could not indefinitely accept thousands of rockets landing in civilian centers, especially after the battle against Hezbollah in 2006, which was widely viewed as a fiasco for the Israeli Army and for the leaders in Jerusalem who are facing an election in two months.  Defense Minister Barak says it’s “all-out war,” which suggests ground operations.  The usual rule in these cases is that Israel doesn’t have much time to accomplish its objectives;  the “international community” rallies to the side of Israel’s enemies, and Israel’s leaders invariably convince themselves that if they play ball, they’ll be rewarded for it.  But that never happens.  So far the Brits and the Vatican have already demanded an end to operations against Hamas, and by the time I finish typing this there will be more.

Israeli leaders say they want to bring an end to the rocket and missile attacks from Gaza.  But, as opposition leader Netanyahu said, that can’t be done without regime change.

Our goal should be twofold – stopping the attacks on our cities and eliminating the threat of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip…Stopping the attacks can be done within a short period of time, while eliminating the threat of rocket attacks from Gaza will entail toppling the Hamas rule over the Strip and uprooting the Iranian base there.

The last five words are key, because, as others have said, this is one more battle in the terror war in which we have been engaged since 2001.  The Battle of Gaza cannot be understood as a thing in itself, but only as part of a broader whole:  the war against the terror masters.  And Iran is the most lethal, the most dangerous, and the most aggressive terror master in the world today.

Step back from the Gaza battle for just a second, and look at the war itself:  it extends from Afghanistan to Pakistan and India, to Somalia, to Gaza/the Palestinian Authority/Israel, to Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Saudi Arabia, with occasional skirmishes in the vast Kurdish domain (which embraces areas of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran), across Europe, into the United States and Canada and down to South America, including Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, with attendant terror/narcotics mafias that in turn operate in West Africa.  Iran is present in all these theaters, primarily via its proxies Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards (Quds Force).

Like the global totalitarian movements and regimes that threatened Western civilization in the last century, the Iranians come with a messianic ideology that admits no compromise with its enemies.  This war will only end with a winner and a loser, not with two contented negotiators.  We can win this war–we’ve delivered a stunning defeat to Iran and her proxies in Iraq, for example–and our most powerful weapons are political, not military.  Had we taken the war to Tehran, the terror forces in Gaza would, at a minimum, be a lot weaker today, as they would be in Afghanistan and Lebanon.  But we continue to dither, and the new American leaders are fooling themselves when they say that vigorous diplomacy can induce the mullahs to retreat.  It won’t happen, any more than the Israelis got the terrorists to retreat from all-out war against the Jews when the Oslo Agreement was signed, or when Rabin shook hands with Arafat.  It only delayed the days of reckoning, at the cost of many lives, mostly of innocents, on both sides.

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Fighting Evil

December 28th, 2008 - 8:14 pm

I’ll have some things to say about Israel’s long overdue response to Hamas’s thousands of rockets, lobbed into civilian areas for many many months.  But, as luck would have it, I happened to receive an email from an American soldier in Afghanistan, which goes right to the heart of the matter. Like so many of our men and women on the battlefield, he is a very thoughtful person, and so it came as no surprise when he started his email saying

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the last ten months, contemplating the necessity of my being here. Some days it feels as though nothing we do will make a difference. That this country is doomed to remain in poverty and violence and there is nothing anyone can do to change its irrevocable course. That no amount of American blood or treasure will ever deter or change the minds of those who have decided that America is a great evil, enforcing its will upon the world. That America is the cause of their hatred. That we Soldiers were sent to fight on ‘bad intelligence’ or for the wrong reasons. That we are in Afghanistan for vengeance and Iraq for oil. That if we just left, these countries would return to a blissful peace, free from American oppression. And through many nights, in a pitch black that is only possible hundreds of miles from electricity, I have questioned the mission. I have questioned if Afghanistan is worth it. I have questioned whether or not my being here has made a difference.

This is the hallmark of the civilized man, constantly questioning the reasons for his behavior, wondering if there is a better way, searching for that better way, putting himself in the position of “the other,” trying to understand it all.  This man got his answer.

Today I received my answer. Today a suicide bomber drove his truck into a crowd of children at a checkpoint. At last count, over 20 children were killed instantly when his car detonated. As of 30 minutes ago frantic mothers and fathers were still calling the American base to see if their child was at our hospital. We could only say ‘no, no children were brought to the hospital. None of the children’s bodies were recovered, none survived the blast.’In Saving Private Ryan, Tom Hanks reflects on the Soldiers he’s lost. Comparing each one lost under his command to a dozen saved by his command. Today dozens of young, innocent, unspoiled lives were lost. There is no other way to describe it other than a massacre.

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The President Speaks, and the Heart Sinks

December 22nd, 2008 - 9:29 pm

In last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Kimberley Strassel published a truly fascinating interview with President Bush.  Oddly, his most revealing remark on the war came not in a discussion of Iraq, but when he spoke about his (excellent) commitment to fight the spread of AIDS in Africa.

He said, “freedom includes freedom from disease, because (terrorists) can exploit hopelessness, and that’s the only thing they can exploit.”

At which point one can only throw one’s hands in the air and sigh.  Because this means he doesn’t understand terrorism.  At all.  Terrorists aren’t recruited because they feel hopeless.  Quite the contrary;  they feel inspired, galvanized, heroic and saintly.  They are revolutionaries, they are seeking to change the world, and their actions are not one last desperate throw of the dice.  Theirs are acts of hope and optimism, certainly not of despair.  They think they’re part of a victorious army, not isolated individuals crushed by misery.

I think once upon a time he knew this, back when he talked about evil.  But it seems that, over the years, he listened to too many social science types, too many vulgar marxists, who fed him the silly slogan that to defeat terrorism you have to eliminate the “root causes,” which, according to many of the advocates of the conventional wisdom, are poverty and Israel.

I wish someone would shake him gently, and say, “but those men who came to kill us here on 9/11 were well off, they came from good families, they were upwardly mobile, and if there is a single word that totally misdescribes them, that word is ‘hopeless’.”  And then say “Remember Osama bin Laden, the scion of one of the richest families on the planet?”

I suppose here or there you can find a dead broke terrorist whose recruiters played on his sense of hopelessness, but that’s the exception that proves the rule.  The terrorists exploit other things, from religious fanaticism to hatred of the West to personal, ethnic, national and regional shame.

I think that single sentence tells us a lot.  Alas.

Obama “Accepts” Iran’s Bomb

December 11th, 2008 - 10:01 am

Richard Fernandez has quite properly called attention to the news that Obama seems to be offering Israel an American “nuclear umbrella” against Iran.  If true (and the Israeli press is not always accurate about these things), it means, as Richard says, that Obama has essentially abandoned his campaign promise to go all-out to prevent Iran from acquiring the bomb.  Instead of prevention, American policy would henceforth rest on deterrence.

So much for Norman Podhoretz, who has been telling us all along that Bush would never permit this development.  And so much for Sy Hersh and the others seized by blind hatred for BushHitlerCheney, who have been telling us that the United States was preparing to attack Iran.

I never believed these stories, because it’s been clear for several years that this administration had fallen into the same trap as every other president for the past thirty years:  believing that one could make a deal with Iran that would obviate the need for serious action.  I wrote a book saying just that, and it’s been borne out.

I think the “realists” will now say “so what?  So Iran gets the bomb.  We lived with a nuclear Soviet Union, we can live with a nuclear Iran.”  Never mind that the Iranian leaders are believers in an apocalyptic ideology which embraces death, chaos and destruction.  Never mind that the mullahs have promised to destroy Western civilization.  Deterrence worked before, and it will work again.  We’ll be hearing a lot of this sort of talk from Establishment types at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Scowcroftians.

It’s nonsense.  The mullahs can’t be deterred, because they see death as a triumph.  As Swift once said, you can’t reason a man out of something he wasn’t reasoned into in the first place.

The real world is full of paradoxes, of which two should seize our attention.  First, those who avoid conflict in the name of peace, often make war more likely.  All those who have been demanding that we “make nice” to Iran in order to prevent BushHitlerCheney from launching war against the mullahs, have it precisely backwards.  Iran launched war on us thirty years ago, and the only question is whether we will win or lose. The longer we wait, the stronger and more aggressive the Iranians become.  Thus, the global role of Hezbollah.  Thus, the expansion of Iranian military forces into the Horn of Africa and Latin America.  Thus, the nukes.

Second, I have always believed that the mullahs made a strategic error by pursuing nuclear weapons.  Without the nuclear program, I can’t imagine that the West would have taken the (mostly ineffective) steps to sanction the Iranian regime.  The acquisition of nukes will raise the ante.  It may even convince America and some other countries that the regime in Tehran must be brought down.

That remains an option, in my mind the best option.  Democratic revolution in Iran has a lot going for it, and I believe the Iranian people would support it if they saw that the United States would do the same.  To date, not a single leading politician or pundit in this country has embraced this strategy, even though it succeeded against the Soviet Empire, a vastly more powerful enemy than Iran.  Perhaps the nukes will concentrate their minds at long last.

Much Too Good to Check

December 10th, 2008 - 7:57 am

One of my regular correspondents, a serious chap, sends the following:

According to a Marine Pilot:

In addition to communicating with the local Air Traffic Control facility, all aircraft in the Persian Gulf AOR are required to give the Iranian Air Defense Radar (military) a ten minute ‘heads up’ if they will be transiting Iranian airspace.

This is a common procedure for commercial aircraft and involves giving them your call sign, transponder code, type aircraft, and points of origin and destination.

I just flew with a guy who overheard this conversation on the VHF Guard (emergency) frequency 121.5 MHz while flying from Europe to Dubai. It’s too good not to pass along. The conversation went something like this…

Iranian Air Defense Radar: ‘Unknown aircraft at (location unknown), you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself.’

Aircraft: ‘This is a United States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace.’

Air Defense Radar: ‘ You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!’

Aircraft: ‘This is a United States Marine Corps FA-18 fighter. Send ‘em up, I’ll wait!’

Air Defense Radar: (no response … total silence)

Another Glorious Triumph for al Qaeda

December 9th, 2008 - 7:34 pm

My brilliant colleague, Walid Phares, has posted a fine piece on Fox’s site, and Andy McCarthy, another brilliant colleague at FDD, has done a similarly insightful piece over at NRO.  As they say, the al Qaeda “mastermind,” Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, along with four underlings, are trying to turn their trial (at Guantanamo) into a political circus, and use their inevitable executions as a recruiting tool for the jihad.

My instinct is to quote Dirty Harry:  “come on, make my day.”  Andy thinks we should lowkey the whole thing, and try to turn it into a bore.  Walid is rather more inclined to use the trial as a platform for attacking jihadism and jihadists.  They are both right, needless to say.  The problem is that we have an administration that is totally tone-deaf when it comes to explanation America’s actions, whether to the American people or to the broader world.  For behind this little circus in Cuba lies a great event, namely the defeat of al Qaeda.  And if we had taken credit for this victory, we’d be a lot better placed to talk about KSM and the other four losers.

Because that’s the point:  they’re losers, bigtime losers.  They attacked us twice, both times at the World Trade Center in New York.  The first time around they were unlucky;  had they placed the explosives more accurately, they might well have killed tens of thousands of people.  The second time they were very lucky;  they made their way through a series of incompetent security officials and managed to hijack enough commercial aircraft to kill three thousand innocents.  They thought they would bring down America.  Instead we unleashed Hell on their own organization, which is now a shambles of its former self.

They picked the time and place of the big fight:  Iraq, after the fall of Saddam.  They had plenty going for them, from the active support of Iran and Syria to their knowledge of the terrain and of the Iraqi people.  They thought they would drive us out, and create the hub of the Caliphate.  Instead they were defeated, humiliated, and driven into inglorious exile in…Yemen!  Whence Zawahiri wrote to the mullahs to thank them for their invaluable help.

Just a few years ago they were dreaming of global domination.  Now they’re thrilled if they can set off a few bombs in Yemen.

If only there were someone, somewhere, in the American Government who could just tell this little story.  And then say, “these losers, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his failed comrades, are a testament to what happens to people who foolishly believe they can destroy us.  They go to their graves with the taste of defeat in their mouths.  The whole world knows they have lost.”

Isn’t that the way to deal with these bums?

The Writing and the Thinking

December 7th, 2008 - 2:08 pm

I’ve just about finished writing Accomplice To Evil:  Iran and the War Against the West, which St Martin’s Press promises to publish in some number of months.  This is something like book #25, and, like a woman who gets pregnant a lot, I don’t really remember writing them.  I think the metaphor is the right one;  after our first child I said to the doctor, ok, I understand why a woman would do that ONCE.  She doesn’t really know how tough it’s going to be.  But once she’s done it, why would she do it again?  And the doctor said, “it’s a biochemical thing, you’ll see;  they forget.”  Which is sort of true, but only up to a point.  And it’s true of me, too, but again, only up to a point.  I know it’s going to be a painful experience, I know I’m going to yell at myself “you idiot, you knew it was going to be terrible, why did you agree to do it?”  But I do it anyway.  And to say, as I constantly say, that it just proves that I’m a very sick person, a dedicated masochist, doesn’t really explain anything.

I have to say that, this time, it was pretty interesting, and bit less painful than the most recent ordeals.  And it reminded me of something odd about the way my mind works, namely that I don’t really know what I know, and don’t really know what I think about it, until I’ve written it down.  The writing compels me to work through it all, and tell myself what it means.  I mean, what I think it means.  And it’s fascinating because I discover that I know things I hadn’t realized that I knew.  And it forces me to go elsewhere to see what other people think, which I probably wouldn’t do unless I had to explain why I think it.

So maybe there’s a method to the madness.  I hope.