Disproportionate Discussions

This post is for folks in a state of confusion, who will be having  “balanced discussions” over whether or not Israel’s response is “disproportionate,” in retaliation for the last three years of rocket attacks on schools and houses in Israel, from Hamas.

For instance, here’s the the hilarious opening punch-line of Daoud Kuttab’s new stand-up comedy bit in the Washington Post (emphasis ht: LGF)

JERUSALEM — In its efforts to stop amateur rockets from nagging the residents of some of its southern cities, Israel appears to have given new life to the fledging Islamic movement in Palestine.

I don’t know. It’s good, but not really a side-splitter. If Kuttab really wants to make it into the big-time comedy circuit I would have gone with:

JERUSALEM — In its efforts to stop free sensual massages from caressing the residents of one or two tiny little backwater atolls, Israel appears to have rejected health benefits for the dove-like orphans of the Palestinian Peaceful Chiropractic Practicers Union.

Here’s a video of some helpless orphans massaging the Israelis from a Gaza school:

If you find yourself having one of these “balanced discussions,” or making equivocating remarks like, “both sides should show restraint,” or not considering the fact that Hamas’ platform consists of the eradication of Israel –  consider the following:

(excerpts from Charles Krauthammer’s column this week,  a must read, below – emphasis mine):

Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons.

– Associated Press, Dec. 27

Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating.

Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis — 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years — deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.

This has two purposes. First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that inevitable collateral damage — or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb — will kill large numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel.

For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous. And deeply perverse, such as the Hamas TV children’s program in which an adorable live-action Palestinian Mickey Mouse is beaten to death by an Israeli (then replaced by his more militant cousin, Nahoul the Bee, who vows to continue on Mickey’s path to martyrdom).

At war today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible — also on both sides. It’s a recurring theme. Israel gave similar warnings to Southern Lebanese villagers before attacking Hezbollah in the Lebanon war of 2006. The Israelis did this knowing it would lose for them the element of surprise and cost the lives of their own soldiers.

[...]

The grievance? It cannot be occupation, military control or settlers. They were all removed in September 2005. There’s only one grievance and Hamas is open about it. Israel’s very existence.

Nor does Hamas conceal its strategy. Provoke conflict. Wait for the inevitable civilian casualties. Bring down the world’s opprobrium on Israel. Force it into an untenable cease-fire — exactly as happened in Lebanon. Then, as in Lebanon, rearm, rebuild and mobilize for the next round. Perpetual war. Since its raison d’etre is the eradication of Israel, there are only two possible outcomes: the defeat of Hamas or the extinction of Israel.

[...]

READ THE WHOLE THING

Obama- I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated

From his interview tonight.

I guess that depends on how you define “nobody”:

Victor Davis Hanson

Michael Yon

David Petraeus

John McCain

George W. Bush

Just to toss out a few. More.

U.S. Hands Off Pacified Anbar, Once Heart of Iraq Insurgency

The headline from the NYT the other day. Great news, and more evidence of how important the surge has been. It seems like an appropriate time to reflect back at their overwhelming support for victory in Iraq…

The only real question about the planned “surge” in Iraq — which is better described as a Vietnam-style escalation — is whether its proponents are cynical or delusional. — Paul Krugman, NYT, 1/8/07 

There is nothing ahead but even greater disaster in Iraq. — NYT Editorial, 1/11/07

What anyone in Congress with half a brain knows is that the surge was sabotaged before it began. — Frank Rich, NYT, 2/11/07

Keeping troops in Iraq has steadily increased the risk of a bloodbath. The best way to reduce that risk is, I think, to announce a timetable for withdrawal and to begin a different kind of surge: of diplomacy. — Nicholas Kristof, NYT, 2/13/07

W. could have applied that to Iraq, where he has always done only enough to fail, including with the Surge — Maureen Dowd, NYT, 2/17/07

The senator supported a war that didn’t need to be fought and is a cheerleader for a surge that won’t work. — Maureen Dowd, NYT, 2/24/07

Now the ”surge” that was supposed to show results by summer is creeping inexorably into an open-ended escalation, even as Moktada al-Sadr’s militia ominously melts away, just as Iraq’s army did after the invasion in 2003, lying in wait to spring a Tet-like surprise. — Frank Rich, NYT, 3/11/07

Victory is no longer an option in Iraq, if it ever was. The only rational objective left is to responsibly organize America’s inevitable exit. That is exactly what Mr. Bush is not doing and what the House and Senate bills try to do. — NYT Editorial, 3/29/07

There is no possible triumph in Iraq and very little hope left. — NYT Editorial, 4/12/07

… the empty hope of the “surge” … — Frank Rich, NYT, 4/22/07

Three months into Mr. Bush’s troop escalation, there is no real security in Baghdad and no measurable progress toward reconciliation, while American public support for this folly has all but run out. — NYT Editorial, 5/11/07

Now the Bush administration finds itself at that same hour of shame. It knows the surge is not working. — Maureen Down, NYT, 5/27/07

Mr. Bush does have a choice and a clear obligation to re-evaluate strategy when everything, but his own illusions, tells him that it is failing. — NYT Editorial, 7/25/07

The smart money, then, knows that the surge has failed, that the war is lost, and that Iraq is going the way of Yugoslavia. — Paul Krugman, NYT, 9/14/07

The Times regrets the error(s).

ht: Jawa, Volokh

Because the Russian invasion of Georgia is exactly like the situation in Iraq…

via Reuters

Democrat Barack Obama scolded Russia again on Wednesday for invading another country’s sovereign territory while adding a new twist: the United States, he said, should set a better example on that front, too.

The Illinois senator’s opposition to the Iraq war, which his comment clearly referenced, is well known. But this was the first time the Democratic presidential candidate has made a comparison between the U.S. invasion of Iraq and Russia’s recent military activity in Georgia.

“We’ve got to send a clear message to Russia and unify our allies,” Obama told a crowd of supporters in Virginia. “They can’t charge into other countries. Of course it helps if we are leading by example on that point.”

[ht: gateway]

A movie quote comes to mind:

Walter Sobchak: So you have no frame of reference here, Donny Barry. You’re like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know… 

The Dude: (interrupting) Walter, Walter, what’s the point, man?

Much more at Powerline on the comparison of the Russian Invasion and Iraq

War Historian Victor Davis Hanson on Russia and Georgia

Great column. Be sure to read the full thing. Here are some excerpts:

COMEUPPANCE 
Most importantly, Putin and Medvedev have called the West’s bluff. We are sort of stuck in a time-warp of the 1990s, seemingly eons ago in which a once-earnest weak post-Soviet Russia sought Western economic help and political mentoring. But those days are long gone, and diplomacy hasn’t caught up with the new realities. Russia is flush with billions. It serves as a rallying point and arms supplier to thugs the world over that want leverage in their anti-Western agendas. For the last five years, its foreign policy can be reduced to “Whatever the United States is for, we are against.”

The geopolitical message is clear to both the West and the former Soviet Republics: don’t consider NATO membership (i.e., do the Georgians really think that, should they have been NATO members, any succor would have been forthcoming?).

Together with the dismal NATO performance in Afghanistan, the Georgian incursion reveals the weakness of the Atlantic Alliance. The tragic irony is unmistakable. NATO was given a gift in not having made Georgia a member, since otherwise an empty ritual of evoking Article V’s promise of mutual assistance in time of war would have effectively destroyed the Potemkin alliance.

The new reality is that a nuclear, cash-rich, and energy-blessed Russia doesn’t really worry too much whether its long-term future is bleak, given problems with Muslim minorities, poor life-expectancy rates, and a declining population. Instead, in the here and now, it has a window of opportunity to reclaim prestige and weaken its adversaries. So why hesitate?

Indeed, tired of European lectures, the Russians are now telling the world that soft power is, well, soft. Moscow doesn’t give a damn about the United Nations, the European Union, the World Court at the Hague, or any finger-pointing moralist from Geneva or London. Did anyone in Paris miss any sleep over the rubble of Grozny?

More likely, Putin & Co. figure that any popular rhetoric about justice will be trumped by European governments’ concern for energy. With just a few tanks and bombs, in one fell swoop, Russia has cowered its former republics, made them think twice about joining the West, and stopped NATO and maybe EU expansion in their tracks. After all, who wants to die for Tbilisi?

Russia does not need a global force-projection capacity; it has sufficient power to muscle its neighbors and thereby humiliate not merely its enemies, but their entire moral pretensions as well.

APOLOGISTS IN THE WEST
 
The Russians have sized up the moral bankruptcy of the Western Left. They know that half-a-million Europeans would turn out to damn their patron the United States for removing a dictator and fostering democracy, but not more than a half-dozen would do the same to criticize their long-time enemy from bombing a constitutional state. 

The Russians rightly expect Westerners to turn on themselves, rather than Moscow — and they won’t be disappointed. Imagine the morally equivalent fodder for liberal lament: We were unilateral in Iraq, so we can’t say Russia can’t do the same to Georgia. (As if removing a genocidal dictator is the same as attacking a democracy). We accepted Kosovo’s independence, so why not Ossetia’s? (As if the recent history of Serbia is analogous to Georgia’s.) We are still captive to neo-con fantasies about democracy, and so encouraged Georgia’s efforts that provoked the otherwise reasonable Russians (As if the problem in Ossetia is our principled support for democracy rather than appeasement of Russian dictatorship). 

From what the Russians learned of the Western reaction to Iraq, they expect their best apologists will be American politicians, pundits, professors, and essayists — and once more they will not be disappointed. We are a culture, after all, that after damning Iraqi democracy as too violent, broke, and disorganized, is now damning Iraqi democracy as too conniving, rich, and self-interested — the only common denominator being whatever we do, and whomever we help, cannot be good.

[...]

PARALYSIS
Military intervention is out of the question. Economic sanctions, given Russia’s oil and Europe’s need for it, are a pipe dream. Diplomatic ostracism and moral stricture won’t even save face.

Instead, Europe — both western and eastern — along with the United States and the concerned former Soviet Republics need to sit down, conference, and plot exactly how these new democracies are to maintain their independence and autonomy in the next decade. Hopefully, they will reach the Franklinesque conclusion that “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Associated Press Analysis: U.S. Winning Iraq War

This is great news and it comes, remarkably, from the AP (it must be good if the news media is picking it up). Burns is describing exactly what the purpose and strategy of the surge was – empowering the Iraqi people. It’s a remarkable turn of events and a huge win for all of our fine forces over there getting the job done. Good luck and Godspeed with the work still to be done.

[ht - gatewaypundit]

Pentagon calls ‘The Surge’ total success

I love good news.

Surge Successful By Any Measure

WASHINGTON — The surge in Iraq has been a success by any measure, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said during a news conference July 23. 

The policy, announced by President Bush in December 2006, pushed additional brigades in to Iraq to provide a security umbrella so the Iraqi military could build and the country’s government could grow.

The surge has allowed Iraq to make improvements from security, political and economic standpoints, Morrell said. The last of the five surge brigade combat teams recently left Iraq.

“By every metric that we measure violence in Iraq, there has been a dramatic improvement from where things were before the surge,” Morrell said. “I’ll just point to one, and that is [that] in July of last year, we had 79 U.S. [servicemembers killed in action] in Iraq. We have four thus far this month.”

The dramatic security gains have provided room for political and economic successes. “You name it, it is happening in Iraq,” Morrell said. “Do you want to talk about political gains? We’ve had basically all the major benchmark legislation passed.”

[...]

There were, of course, other factors at work in the security improvement, Morrell said, but the surge and the change in U.S. counterinsurgency strategy made all else possible. The “Anbar Awakening” that allied formerly insurgent Sunni Muslims with the coalition and influential Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s cease-fire were other factors, he said, but he noted they didn’t happen independently of other events.

“If we think that Sadr acted in a vacuum, I think we’re kidding ourselves,” Morrell said. “There clearly was political and military pressure which caused him to make a decision to have his troops stand down.

“But we benefitted from it, no doubt,” he continued. “There’s no question that the awakening in Anbar, the cease-fire by Sadr, simultaneous to the surge, has helped the overall security situation in Iraq.”

It is important to realize that the real success of The Surge wasn’t just about more troops, it was a shift in tactics and counterinsurgency strategy. (This is the key point in Michael Yon’s book Moment of Truth, by the way.) I think the media has kind of simplified the surge into a numbers game, making it seem like Bush was just throwing more soldiers over there to fix a blunder. In reality, the new strategy – outlined by General Petraeus – required more troops to pull off. The military deserves huge credit here for adapting, figuring out what would work, and getting the job done. 

Of course, there are a few people for whom this may not seem like good news:

Washington Post: [Afghanistan's] strategic importance pales beside that of Iraq. +Candidates on Iraq

Quite the editorial from the WaPo the other day (emphasis mine):

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has a history of tailoring his public statements for political purposes, made headlines by saying he would support a withdrawal of American forces by 2010. But an Iraqi government statement made clear that Mr. Maliki’s timetable would extend at least seven months beyond Mr. Obama’s. More significant, it would be “a timetable which Iraqis set” — not the Washington-imposed schedule that Mr. Obama has in mind. It would also be conditioned on the readiness of Iraqi forces, the same linkage that Gen. Petraeus seeks. As Mr. Obama put it, Mr. Maliki “wants some flexibility in terms of how that’s carried out.”

Other Iraqi leaders were more directly critical. As Mr. Obama acknowledged, Sunni leaders in Anbar province told him that American troops are essential to maintaining the peace among Iraq’s rival sects and said they were worried about a rapid drawdown.

[...]

Charels Krauthammer made the case about a year ago about the importance of Iraq. Yesterday, this Washington Post Editorial joins him.

Yet Mr. Obama’s account of his strategic vision remains eccentric. He insists that Afghanistan is “the central front” for the United States, along with the border areas of Pakistan. But there are no known al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, and any additional U.S. forces sent there would not be able to operate in the Pakistani territories where Osama bin Laden is headquartered. While the United States has an interest in preventing the resurgence of the Afghan Taliban, the country’s strategic importance pales beside that of Iraq, which lies at the geopolitical center of the Middle East and contains some of the world’s largest oil reserves. If Mr. Obama’s antiwar stance has blinded him to those realities, that could prove far more debilitating to him as president than any particular timetable.

I can’t usually stand Couric – but she deserves a great deal of credit here for actually asking the candidates tough questions about the war on terror:

Obama continues to insist that Afghanistan (the good war) is where we should be investing troops. What he doesn’t explain is why that would make any sense.
Also, for some reason he simply has ‘no idea’ what would have happened if the US had followed his advice rather than the surge. I have an idea: Iraq would have become a disastrous bloodbath – which is exactly where it was headed before the surge. In fact – this is exactly why the Iraqis are saying that “American troops are essential to maintaining the peace.” How is this such a tough hypothetical?

I have to give McCain major props here for cutting out all the ‘hypothetical’, ‘too difficult to know’ bullcrap. If you want to hear more of McCain’s statement you can check it out here. I especially appreciate this line, as Obama’s main talking point has been that McCain is basically Bush part 2 and all he wants to do is stay in Iraq:

I know those wars. I know conflicts. And I hate war. No one hates war more than the veteran who feels most plainly the loss of a veteran. And I know how to win wars.

[...]

We have succeeded in Iraq. We are winning. We will be making additional withdrawals as everybody acknowledged. We may have an advisory capacity as even Sen. Obama agrees. And we may have security arrangements that are in the interest of both countries. But the fact is victory is being achieved now. A stable society. Secure environment. Functioning government. Functioning legal system. All of the trappings of a nation where people can feel secure in their future in a free and independent nation. And that’s what we’ve succeeded in the strategy which will then mean we are winning the war and bring our troops home.

You can debate whether or not getting into Iraq was a good idea, but in my opinion – that will ultimately be determined by how we get out of Iraq. McCain thinks that victory there is possible, and that it is important not to leave until we reach that point. Obama thinks victory is impossible, and that we should get out ASAP.

We get to decide whose strategy would be best for America this fall.

Obama: Rather loose a war, than loose an election?

Q: If you had to do it over again, knowing what you know now, would you support the surge?

A: No, because, keep in mind that…

Q: You wouldn’t?

A: Keep in mind… These kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult. Hindsight is 20/20. But I think that, what I’m absolutely convinced of, is that at that time we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with.

So, something that has brought down violence 80% and American troop deaths from 78 to 5 per month – he would still oppose…because he disagreed with President Bush…? Is he saying he would still oppose something that has empowered Iraqis and saved American (and Iraqi) lives simply for political reasons?

Is this a gaffe, distraction, or a moment of clarity?

Obama and McCain on Iraq [audio + video]

Here are two recent speeches from John McCain and Barack Obama. The audio is from conservative commentator Dennis Prager’s radio show. Obviously, he favors McCain, but I think he presents both candidates view fairly and accurately and asks some very valid questions that need to be answered (which will not be asked by the media who, in my view, love Obama) and understood by anyone who is concerned about the situation in Iraq and national security. You, of course, can make your own judgements, but if you are interested in what conservatives think – this should be helpful. If nothing else, watch the video at the bottom.

Since I’ve gone on and on about Barack lately, why don’t we start with John McCain:

-McCain and Obama had totally opposite views of the surge.

-McCain points out that Obama laid down his Iraq policy before meeting with Petraeus, visiting Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.
-Question: Why is Obama going to Iraq, if he already knows what he is going to do?

-Obama opposed the tactics of the surge – which are the exact counter insurgency tactics we need to use in Afghanistan.

-John McCain’s was critical of Bush and supported the surge long before it was popular.

Now – Obama’s speech that his just gave before leaving for Iraq (in one big chunk – 12 minutes or so):

-Obama claims that Bush and McCain don’t have a strategy for success in Iraq, rather a strategy for staying in Iraq.

If you made it through all that, here is a little break down of some of Obama’s statements on Iraq, the surge, and other national security concerns:

In my opinion, John McCain’s plan, at least makes some sense. I don’t have a clue what Obama actually believes about national security. Do you?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.