Thursday, September 30, 2004

Debunking the Bush-Saudi Canard

Via Belgravia Dispatch, Princeton University Saudi specialist Michael Scott Doran skillfully dissects the idea of George W. Bush as Saudi tool, that Michael Moore among others has made so popular:

It is true that Saudi Arabia has been a major supporter of al-Qaeda -- but it is facile to suggest that the Bush administration could have done much about it in a pre-Sept. 11 world. Radical Islam's roots extend deep into Saudi society. Al-Qaeda is, in a sense, a domestic Saudi political party, the most extreme wing of a reactionary clerical camp that seeks to halt all forms of Westernization in the country. Osama bin Laden's pool of Saudi supporters is located far beyond the reach of the United States. Al-Qaeda's final defeat, therefore, will take place only at the hands of fellow Muslims, not Americans.

At best, the United States must play a strong supporting role by creating a political context that favors al-Qaeda's local enemies. Bush's speeches have pointed us toward the correct tool for this job: political reform in the Middle East. If the Democrats were serious about the Saudi threat, then they would repudiate Moore and call for Bush to take his own words about Middle Eastern reform more seriously.

But candidate Kerry tells us today that, if elected, he will withdraw our troops quickly from Iraq. In that event, with Iraq threatening to disintegrate and Iran going nuclear, Kerry would himself confront the impossibility of divorcing the Saudis. He, like Bush, would have no choice but to look to Riyadh for help in stabilizing the Persian Gulf. The Kerry plan for Iraq, therefore, promises us a permanent return to the U.S.-Saudi relationship as it existed on Sept. 10, 2001.

The Bush administration has mismanaged some aspects of the war, and it has underestimated the cost of doing Iraq right -- to say nothing of carrying out broad reform in the Middle East. But in the arena of U.S.-Saudi relations, the president must be credited with a number of achievements: He pulled U.S. troops out of the kingdom; he forced Riyadh to get serious regarding terrorist financing; and he precipitated a clash between al-Qaeda and the Saudi regime. The Moore notion of a Bush-Saudi conspiracy ignores the distance that the administration has already placed between Washington and Riyadh, not to mention the changes in Saudi policy toward al-Qaeda that followed in train.

But more to the point, for all its problems (and they are many), the Bush solution of reforming the Middle East to combat terrorism is the only serious plan on the table. The Kerry team tells us only that Bush -- operating out of dark and nefarious motives -- got everything all wrong. Kerry, however, has not even begun to explain how he intends to do better.

(emphasis added-DD)

In his comments, Belgravia's Greg Djerejian notes that the Kerry campaign has integrated Moore's conspiracy theories into their rhetoric, and aptly sums up the foreign policy/War on Terror "alternative" that John Kerry has offered to date:

Empty talk (I'll get tough on the Saudis!). Chimerical policy options (Bring the Europeans into Iraq!). Panic-stoking (Nuclear nightmare in NoKo--would that we had pursued another Clinton 'deal'!). Intellectual laziness (we'll 'train and equip' better! We'll eradicate poppy better!) Pretension ('I have been to Paris'; I have a secret plan) 20-20 Hindsight (I'd have done almost all of it differently [ed. note: Hell, at least tell us you would have done it all differently!). And, if all else fails, repeat after me: Fallujah, Fallujah, Fallujah...

Needless to say, he's underwhelmed by the Kerry alternative, as am I.

I dealt with the Bush-Saudi conspiracy thesis at length in this September 1st post, and have little to add to Professor Doran's comments beyond what I've written previously. The one point I'll repeat here is to wonder how George W. Bush can simultaneously be a Saudi stooge and the most pro-Israel president in American history. Bush's strong support for Israel flies directly in the face of the Saudi conspiracy argument, which is undoubtedly why Michael Moore chose not to mention it in Fahrenheit 9/11. After all, Moore's never been one to let facts get in the way of a good story.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Academia and Orthodoxy

The September 24 Chronicle of Higher Education has an article on a topic I am well familiar with: The plight of conservatives in liberal/leftist dominated academia. As a conservative academic librarian, I face this situation within both the framework of the library profession and also the broader academic environment. The article cites issues such as difficulties with tenure and promotion, or being denied career opportunities. In my view, these issues, while real, are not the true problem. Sadly, these types of things happen all too often in academia, for a variety of reasons. Personally, I have had no such problems, and am fortunate in having colleagues who are decent, honorable, and fairminded regarding such matters.

The real problem is that the overwhelming liberal/leftist presence in academia inevitably leads to intellectual conformity and greatly impacts the free exchange of ideas by both faculty and students. Out of about 30 professional colleagues at my workplace, I can count the number who agree with me regarding politics on one hand, with probably a couple fingers to spare. In this environment, people simply assume that your politics are left of center, because that's how they and everyone else they know look at the world. In academia, especially in the humanities and social sciences, and librarianship, everyone knows that only ignorant uneducated Red State troglodytes support George W. Bush. In such a conformist environment, one naturally tends to pause before doing something to disabuse people of such notions, such as ordering conservative or right of center books for your library. This ideological conformity threatens the mission of both libraries and universities to foster the free exchange of ideas and information from a variety of perspectives, and negatively impacts both students and library users.

The complete Chronicle article is available on their Web site, and provides a reasonably fair look at the issue:

Conservatives in a Liberal Landscape

Monday, September 27, 2004

"Iraq: Not Quite as Bad as You Thought"

Time once again for Arthur Chrenkoff's superb biweekly roundup of the underreported progress that is being made in Iraq:

Post-Totalitarian Stress Disorder

Arthur has taken some criticism for taking note of such things in the midst of the horrific violence that we see emphasized in the elite media. He has been accused of, in essence, glossing things over. Arthur's response is a call for perspective and understanding, based in part on his own experiences growing up in Eastern Europe:

(B)e patient; it takes time, not just because rebuilding a country ruined over three decades of war, oppression and isolation is never quick or easy, but also because the attitudes and ways of thinking acquired by people under dictatorship tend to linger and don't make transformation any easier.

My sentiments exactly. Chrenkoff wouldn't need to go out of his way to point out the "good news" if the media wasn't obsessed with the violence to the exclusion of everything else that is taking place. Does that mean that we shouldn't talk about the violence? Of course not. It is indeed a major part of the Iraq story, and sadly will probably get worse before it improves. The point is that reconstruction is also a major part of what is going on in Iraq, and the two cannot be separated. As Chrenkoff puts it in this week's update:

There are two Iraqs at the moment, both equally real and consequential. The Iraq of never-ending strife--the insurgency, terrorism, crime and all-too-slow reconstruction makes for interesting news stories and exciting footage. The Iraq of steady recovery, returning normalcy and a dash of hope rarely does.


Only by knowing both sides of the story you can make an informed judgment about how things in Iraq are really going.

It is easy to believe that talking about rebuilt schools, trade agreements, new sewer lines, and local elections in the midst of car bombs, mortar attacks, IEDs and assassinations is like "fiddling while Rome burns". This would be a mistake. It is precisely such reconstruction efforts that the jihadists, Baathists, and criminals are trying to stop with their atrocities. In essence, the struggle for Iraq is between hope and fear. The US and our coalition allies are seeking to help the Iraqi people build a prosperous, modern, democratic Iraq that offers its people a hopeful future. Such a task is difficult even in ideal circumstances. The terrorists are trying to destroy these efforts, to convince the Iraqi people, and us as well, that there is no hope for a better future, only death and chaos followed by an inevitable return to totalitarian barbarism of either the Baathist or Wahhabist variety. Anything that brings the Iraqi people hope for a better future, that gives them a stake in the new Iraq and encourages them to persevere, is important. The more progress we make, no matter how slow or fraught with difficulty, the closer the terrorists are to defeat.

The struggle for Iraq is a microcosm of the broader War with Islamist Terror. It is a battle between the Middle East of fear and fanaticism that spawned 9/11 and the Middle East of hope that will benefit the entire world. Despite all the terrible carnage wrought by the terrorists, hope continues to exist and progress continues to be made. Our heroic men and women in uniform, their coalition allies, and the Iraqi people themselves, have all sacrificed dearly for these gains. We must not allow their sacrifices to go in vain.

Thoughts on Banned Books Week

Sunday, September 25 marks the beginning of Banned Books Week. BBW is an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association, a week-long warning of the dangers posed by the evils of censorship. This is, of course, entirely justifiable and appropriate. So, why am I unhappy about BBW?

The problem I have is not with BBW or the ideas it represents, since I agree with them for the most part. I would be more than happy to support ALA in its commitment to intellectual freeedom if I thought they actually meant it. Unfortunately, BBW, as worthy an endeavor as it is, has come to symbolize the hypocrisy of the association and its leadership.

While ALA devotes the next week to the dangers posed by the ignorant yokels who want to have the Harry Potter books removed from their local school library, it continues to ignore and even condone the brutal suppression of intellectual freedom that is taking place just 90 miles from the tip of Florida.

Today in Cuba, the network of totalitarian control exercised by the Castro regime is being challenged by a grassroots network of independent libraries that seek to provide the Cuban people access to the books that Fidel doesn't want them to read. To quote the Friends of Cuban Libraries Web site:

In response to a public statement by President Fidel Castro that "There are no prohibited books in Cuba, only a lack of money to purchase them," Cuba's first independent library, named in honor of Felix Varela, was opened in 1998 in the city of Las Tunas. The Felix Varela Library was established in the apartment of Berta Mexidor, an economist, and her husband, Ramon Colas, a psychologist. Approximately 100 independent libraries, located in the homes of volunteers, now flourish in Cuba despite an unprecedented campaign of harassment, threats, intimidation, police raids, arrests, physical assaults, evictions and confiscations. Most of the libraries are affiliated with the project begun by Ramon Colas and Berta Mexidor, while others have been established by groups of teachers, journalists, religious denominations, etc. In addition to offering public access to uncensored books, Cuba's independent librarians also sponsor uncensored debates, seminars, public meetings, art exhibits, literary contests and children's programs, all free of government control.

The Cuban independent librarians stand for every ideal that ALA claims to uphold. They defend intellectual freedom against a brutal police state, and many of them have paid a fearsome price. In 2003 19 of the independent librarians were arrested and sentenced to long prison terms in Castro's gulag (one of the 19, who was in severe ill health, has since been released). Noted freedom fighters such as Vaclav Havel and Yelena Bonner have expressed their support. Even the French have stated their solidarity with the independent librarians. Surely the American Library Association, vaunted defender of intellectual freedom, stands with them as well?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. A proposed resolution brought before the ALA Council at the January 2004 Midwinter meeting calling for the release of the imprisoned librarians was voted down almost unanimously. Renowned civil libertarian Nat Hentoff was so disgusted by the vote that he immediately renounced the Immroth Award for Intellectual Freedom that he had received from ALA in 1983.

The vote, of course, is symptomatic of the left wing orthodoxy that dominates the top levels of the association. The hard left, in spite of their disproportionate influence in ALA Council, is not the problem. It is a given that the Chomskyite/Stalinist wing of ALA will be open in its adoration of Fidel and willingness to engage in their typical grovelling apologetics for his thuggishness. Intellectual freedom for them is not a principle, just a tool to undermine the "evil capitalist system" and replace it with their so called Utopia. The problem is with the liberals and moderate leftists who profess to support intellectual freedom, but refuse to stand up to the hard left in defense of this belief. Sadly, it seems that the majority of ALA's leadership would rather remain silent when a totalitarian gangster burns books and imprisons people than be on the same side of an issue as the Bush Administration and Cuban exile community. Many of the same people who fantasize about being the only thing preventing John Ashcroft and his jackbooted minions from ransacking the libraries and subpoening the library records of anyone who ever read a Chomsky book, are content to stand idly by when a totalitarian police state really does ban books and crush intellectual freedom.

While it ignores the beleaguered independent libraries ALA has continued to maintain a good working relationship with the state-run Cuban library system, whose commitment to intellectual freedom rivals those of the libraries in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. The pretext often given by ALA is that the independent libraries are not "real libraries". It's true that the independent librarians are not professionally trained. Surely that's reason enough to ignore them. After all, what does standing up for intellectual freedom against a police state matter compared to being able to properly catalog your collection using AACR2? It's good to see ALA has its priorities in order.

When ALA begins to take its own principles seriously, I will be happy to as well.

For more on independent libraries in Cuba, visit the following sites:

Friends of Cuban Libraries

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Debunking Moore: The Task Continues

If I can bring myself to do it, I might actually go watch a free campus showing of Fahrenheit 9/11 tomorrow. Or, I might stay home and watch San Jose Earthquakes v. Los Angeles Galaxy instead. I fear having to sit through Michael Moore's "crockumentary" in public, where I'll have to hold my reactions in check. Considering the rather large stream of profanity Bowling for Columbine provoked from me when I watched it on DVD, I can only imagine my reaction to the even worse collection of distortions, half-truths and outright lies that is Fahrenheit.

Sadly, Moore's cleverly packaged deceptions are often persuasive to people who aren't familiar with the facts and how he has distorted them beyond recognition. In addition to bringing Fahrenheit to DVD, Moore plans on releasing a book containing letters allegedly written by soldiers in Iraq. Unfortunately, the troops espousing such views seem unaware that Moore has referred to the terrorists and thugs trying to kill them as "Minutemen" whose "numbers will grow -- and they will win". I must have missed the part in the history books where the real minutemen beheaded innocent civilians, hid behind women and children while attacking the British, and sought to establish a totalitarian despotism. Of course, I lack Moore's voluminous knowledge of history and scrupulous commitment to the truth.

Fortunately, as John Kerry would say, help is on the way. A new DVD with a companion book, titled FahrenHYPE 9/11, is due to be released October 5, the same day Moore's "masterpiece" comes to DVD. A collaborative project spearheaded by political consultant and pundit Dick Morris, the documentary features Ed Koch, Zell Miller, actor Ron Silver and others, including several individuals who had footage of themselves exploited by Moore without their permission. For more information, including how to order, please visit the film's Web site:

The good people at Moore Watch have obtained 5,000 copies of FahrenHYPE for shipment to our troops in Iraq. Click here to see what you can do to help.

Moore Watch is also soliciting letters from service members in Iraq who wish to rebut Moore's cynical attempt to speak for our troops:

In addition, Michael Wilson's long awaited Michael Moore Hates America will soon be in theaters. Don't worry, while the film is justifiably very critical of Moore and his methods, the title is meant ironically.

Debunking Michael Moore's deceptions is a seemingly endless task, but a necessary one. The projects listed here should help further educate the public as to the fradulent nature of Moore's work.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Israel's Victory, and What it Means

There's a compelling article by Yossi Klein Halevi and Michael B. Oren in the latest issue of the New Republic. Titled "Center Right: Israel's unexpected victory over terrorism", the article discusses how the Jewish state was able to defeat Yasser Arafat's terror war and the lessons this offers for the broader War on Terror. Halevi and Oren are very much sober and non-triumphalist in their assessment:

Israel's triumph over the Palestinian attempt to unravel its society is the result of a systematic assault on terrorism that emerged only fitfully over the past four years. The fence, initially opposed by the army and the government, has thwarted terrorist infiltration in those areas where it has been completed. Border towns like Hadera and Afula, which had experienced some of the worst attacks, have been terror-free since the fence was completed in their areas. Targeted assassinations and constant military forays into Palestinian neighborhoods have decimated the terrorists' leadership, and roadblocks have intercepted hundreds of bombs, some concealed in ambulances, children's backpacks, and, most recently, a baby carriage.

Key to Israel's victory, they write, was a willingness to do whatever was necessary, while ignoring the carping of critics:

At every phase of Israel's counteroffensive, skeptics have worried that attempts to suppress terrorism would only encourage more of it. They warned that Israel couldn't close Orient House, the Palestinian Liberation Organization's de facto capital in East Jerusalem, without provoking an international backlash and strengthening Yasir Arafat's hold there. They warned that, by isolating and humiliating Arafat, Israel would only bolster his stature at home and abroad. They warned that, by reoccupying Palestinian cities and targeting terrorist leaders, Israel would only deepen Palestinian rage and despair.

In fact, Israel shut down Orient House in August 2001 with relative impunity, and today, few even recall where it was. Not only has Arafat been confined to the ruins of his Ramallah headquarters for the last two years, but he has become a near-pariah figure even among many European foreign ministers and the target of a revolt in the territories against his corrupt rule. In late August, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer visited Jerusalem, but not Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah. And, for all their rage at Israeli assassinations and despair over the reoccupation, growing numbers of Palestinians are now questioning the effectiveness of their terrorist war. Last year, in Gaza's Beit Hanoun, residents protested against terrorists using the village as a base for launching rockets into Israel; just recently, a Palestinian teenager was shot dead there after he tried to bar terrorists from his home.

Israel still faces a terrorist threat, as evidenced by Wednesday's murder of two Israelis by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem. Still, as Halevi and Oren make clear, such atrocities are now the exception, compared to the situation even one year ago. Israel's victory, though, has come at a fearsome cost:

The price Israel has paid for its victory has been sobering. Arafat may be a pariah, but Israel is becoming one, too. Increasingly, the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty is under attack. Former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, for example, has called Israel's creation a "mistake." In Europe, an implicit "red-green-black" coalition of radical leftists, Islamists, and old-fashioned fascists has revived violent anti-Semitism. Along with the desecration of Jewish cemeteries by neo-Nazis and the assaults on Jews by Arab youth, some European left-wingers now sense a sympathetic climate in which to publicly indulge their anti-Semitism. In a recent interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Greek composer and left-wing activist Mikis Theodorakis denounced "the Jews" for their dominance of banks, U.S. foreign policy, and even the world's leading orchestras, adding that the Jews were "at the root of evil." In the Arab world, a culture of denial that repudiates the most basic facts of Jewish history — from the existence of the Jerusalem Temple to the existence of the gas chambers — has become mainstream in intellectual discourse and the media. Government TV stations in Egypt and Syria have produced dramatizations based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Boycotts of Israel are multiplying: The nonaligned states recently voted to bar "settlers" — including Israelis who live in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem — from their borders. Among young Israelis across the political spectrum, there's growing doubt about the country's future and widespread talk of emigration.

These sentiments are not new. Israel has always been one of the European left's favorite whipping boys after the US. The Arab world has been awash in the vilest forms of Anti-Semitism for decades. Israel's successful war against terrorism has not created these sentiments, merely provided a pretext for their expression. The opinions of the Israel-haters are a reflection of their own preexisting worldviews, through which Israeli actions are interpreted. They condemn Israel because that is exactly what they are predisposed to do. Those who believe that Anti-Americanism is a result of the invasion of Iraq would do well to keep this in mind.

Halevi and Oren conclude by describing what Israel's experience means for America:

Americans would be wise to study this final lesson, too: Perhaps the greatest danger in fighting terrorism is the polarizing effect such a campaign can have — not just internationally, but domestically. To avoid this pitfall, a strong political consensus for military action is necessary. That means the president must actively reach out to domestic opposition. But American leaders must also heed Sharon's other lessons. That means an ability to endure criticism from abroad and even to risk international isolation, a willingness to define the war on terrorism as a total war, and a commitment to focus one's political agenda on winning, not on divisive or extraneous concerns. Fulfilling those conditions does not guarantee success. But it does make success possible — as Israel is, at great cost, showing the world.

As Israel's experience shows, waging war on terror is costly and messy, but it is also absolutely necessary. Such a war is winnable, provided it is treated as a war, not a law enforcement problem, and waged with the requisite will and determination. The War on Islamist Terror will not be quick or easy. It will be costly in monetary and human terms, and there will be setbacks and defeats. We must have the will to pay the necessary price and persevere through difficulty, for the alternative is unthinkable. Half-measures and returning to 9/10 business as usual are not options, and no amount of wishful thinking will make it so.

Michael Totten makes these points far more eloquently than I do. In the meantime, I encourage you to read the entire article for yourself. The TNR version is subscription only, but the article is available from the Jewish World Review:

Israel's unexpected victory over terrorism

Monday, September 20, 2004

Quote of the Day

I would like us to concentrate more on issues and less on campaign process. But there is always a tendency to go with what's sensational. Also, we're human, and humans keep making the same mistakes. In the end, what difference does it make what one candidate or the other did or didn't do during the Vietnam War? In some ways, that war is as distant as the Napoleonic campaigns. What's far more import is this: Do they have an exit strategy for Iraq? If so, what is it? How will they address the national deficit? And what are the chances their plans will work?

Dan Rather, August 30, 2004

(emphasis added-DD)

(link courtesy of Best of the Web)

Afghanistan Update

Courtesy of Arthur Chrenkoff and Opinion Journal:

Sept. 9, Three Years On

As always, a worthwhile read.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

What Were They Thinking? Part II

From the Washington Post, via Instapundit, comes this even more damning comparison of actual Killian memos with the ones used by CBS:

The Paper Trail

There is nothing more I can say about Dan Rather and CBS at this point.

Oil Myths

In this election year, there have been many ill-informed cliches uttered about "sending our children to die for oil", and "dependence on the Saudi royal family". Fortunately, in an article for the September 1 issue of In the National Interest, S. Fred Singer takes on some of the major myths regarding America and foreign oil:

-"First, in the United States, the principal use of petroleum is for transportation, not for electrical generation."

-"Second, to claim that U.S. military action subsidizes the petroleum industry by insuring secure sources is dubious at best. After the first Gulf War, we returned the captured oil fields to Kuwait. We are returning the oil fields in Iraq to that government. According to the EIA, in 2002 less than 12 percent of total U.S. petroleum consumption came from the Persian Gulf states. These sources are more important to Europe and the Far East than to the United States."

-"Third, the sources of the petroleum are not important because there is a world market for oil in which the U.S. is a major component, but not the defining factor."

-"Fourth, we do not need the military to secure stable sources."

-"Finally, an interruption in world oil supplies -- for whatever reason and no matter where it occurs – will raise the world price to all oil consumers and damage the national economies of importers, like China and – of course – poor nations that depend greatly on oil. In this respect, the United States is less vulnerable."

It's a brief article, but highly informative. Please read it all:

Clearing the Record on Oil

Persevering in Iraq

I do not belittle you. But I hold this view by looking at the geography and nature of American society into account. Yours is a society which cannot accept 10,000 dead in one battle.

Saddam Hussein, "Interview with US Ambassador April Glaspie", July 25, 1990.

We say to the Defence Secretary that his talk can induce a grieving mother to laughter! and shows the fears that had enshrined you all. Where was this false courage of yours when the explosion in Beirut took place on 1983 AD (1403 A.H). You were turned into scattered pits and pieces at that time; 241 mainly marines solders were killed. And where was this courage of yours when two explosions made you to leave Aden in lees than twenty four hours!

But your most disgraceful case was in Somalia; where- after vigorous propaganda about the power of the USA and its post cold war leadership of the new world order- you moved tens of thousands of international force, including twenty eight thousands American solders into Somalia. However, when tens of your solders were killed in minor battles and one American Pilot was dragged in the streets of Mogadishu you left the area carrying disappointment, humiliation, defeat and your dead with you. Clinton appeared in front of the whole world threatening and promising revenge , but these threats were merely a preparation for withdrawal. You have been disgraced by Allah and you withdrew; the extent of your impotence and weaknesses became very clear. It was a pleasure for the "heart" of every Muslim and a remedy to the "chests" of believing nations to see you defeated in the three Islamic cities of Beirut , Aden and Mogadishu.

Osama bin Laden, "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places", August 1996. (The "Defence Secretary" bin Laden is addressing is William Perry)

We are in the midst of a difficult period in Iraq. The tragic and much publicized "milestone" of 1,000 US deaths was reached last week. The continuing terrorist and insurgent violence paints a portrait of a country in chaos. Things will almost certainly get worse before they get better. The terrorists in Iraq (and Afghanistan) believe that if they kill enough Americans they can persuade us to cut and run, abandoning Iraq just as we did Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia. Like Saddam and bin Laden, the jihadists see us as a corrupt, decadent society that is unwilling to pay the price in human lives necessary to defeat them.

Sadly, there is growing evidence that they may be right. After much back and forth, John Kerry seems to have settled, at least for now, on a defeatist, cut and run approach to Iraq. His top foreign policy advisor, Richard Holbrooke, declared last week that Iraq is "worse than Vietnam". In the most egregious example, the left of center political action group ran an ad declaring Iraq a "quagmire" and showing a defeated US soldier with his arms raised as if surrendering. "George Bush got us into this quagmire" the ad states. "It will take a new president to get us out." Not to win, or to achieve success, but to "get us out". Such sentiments are exactly what Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the rest of the jihadists in Iraq are hoping for.

Please note that I am not saying that Kerry, Holbrooke, or MoveOn are unpatriotic, sympathize with the terrorists in any way, or that they don't enjoy every right to express their views. They are sincerely advocating what they believe to be in the best interests of our country. It is easy to get the impression that all that is taking place in Iraq is purposeless death and destruction, with no end in sight. It is difficult indeed to see young American men and women killed or maimed in horrific fashion, as well as to see the same happen to Iraqi civilians and soldiers from our coalition allies. It is hard to see miltary families having to cope with their loved ones going overseas, where they face danger every day, and in some cases not coming back. It is natural and proper to want this to end, to not have any more young Americans die, lose limbs, or be horribly disfigured; to not have any more families lose children, spouses, siblings, or parents. If we leave, then no more Americans will have to die in places like Fallujah, Najaf, or Mosul.

Our goal in Iraq is an extraordinarily difficult one: to build the first liberal, representative, pluralist state in the Arab world. Make no mistake, there will be a substantial monetary, and far more importantly, human cost if we stay and see this project through. So why pay that price? There are two reasons. The first is that if we succeed, the benefits will be enormous. At long last, Arabs will have an alternative to corrupt dictatorships, pan-Arab fascism, and Islamist fanaticism. Freedom in Iraq poses a mortal threat to al-Qaeda and the rest of the jihadist movement, which is why they are making such a determined effort to defeat us there. The second reason for sticking it out in Iraq is even more important: Because the costs of cutting and running before we have achieved our objective are even greater than the costs of staying.

Run from Iraq, and we hand the jihadist movement a victory that will sustain it for decades. With Iraq as a base from which to spread, the Islamist terror movement will grow to new heights. Any hope of reform or democratization in the Arab world will be gone. The forces of barbarism, fanaticism, and xenophopia that produced 9/11 will run rampant in the Middle East, and the human toll, both in the region and around the world, will be immeasurable. Instead of Zarqawi sending suicide bombers to Baghdad and Mosul, he will be able to send them to London and Rome, Paris and Madrid, New York and Washington.

Run from Iraq, and we condemn the country to a return to totalitarian barbarism, though probably not till after a bloody civil war. The era of mass graves and torture chambers will return, under either a renewed Baathist tyranny or an Islamist theocracy. We will betray the millions of Iraqis who put their hopes for a better future in us; who have risked their lives, and the lives of their families, to work with us in building a better Iraq.

Run from Iraq, and we throw away everything that our men and women in uniform have fought, bled, and sacrificed to achieve in that country.

Run from Iraq, and we confirm forever the belief that America is a decadent society unable to take casualties. How many Americans and others have had to die over the last 30 years because our enemies believed that we lacked the stomach to oppose them. Not only Saddam and bin Laden, but the Iranian mullahs, Serbs, and North Koreans among others have all been emboldened by our perceived aversion to casualties. Confirm to our enemies once and for all that they can defeat America by killing enough of its citizens, and we condemn ourselves to pay a human toll far higher than what we have tragically suffered in Iraq. America has endured thousands of combat deaths in a single day. We are the nation of Shiloh and Gettysburg, Omaha Beach and Bastogne, Tarawa and Okinawa. If the tragic toll of 43 combat fatalities a month we are suffering in Iraq is too much for us to endure, then we have no hope of defeating the jihadists, in Iraq or anywhere else.

War is above all a test of wills. To assume that because the enemy is capable of causing us problems that we are therefore losing is to make a disastrous miscalculation. In Vietnam, the 1968 Tet Offensive was an absolute disaster for the Communists. The Viet Cong were so decimated as a fighting force that they never recovered. Yet, the educated elites in the US were so panicked by what had happened that Tet became a Communist victory.

Iraq is not Vietnam. We are making progress. Here is a lengthy excerpt from e-mail home by a Marine officer currently in Baghdad, as published by Captain's Quarters:

So, you may hear analysts and prognosticators on CNN, ABC and the like in the next few days talking about how bleak the situation is here in Iraq, but from where I sit, it’s looking significantly better now than when I got here. The momentum is moving in our favor, and all Americans need to know that, so please, please, pass this on to those who care and will pass it on to others. It is very demoralizing for us here in uniform to read & hear such negativity in our press. It is fodder for our enemies to use against us and against the vast majority of Iraqis who want their new government to succeed. It causes the American public to start thinking about the acceptability of “cutting our losses” and pulling out, which would be devastating for Iraq for generations to come, and Muslim militants would claim a huge victory, causing us to have to continue to fight them elsewhere (remember, in war “Away” games are always preferable to “Home” games). Reports like that also cause Iraqis begin to fear that we will pull out before we finish the job, and thus less willing to openly support their interim government and US/Coalition activities. We are realizing significant progress here – not propaganda progress, but real strides are being made. It’s terrible to see our national morale, and support for what we’re doing here, jeopardized by sensationalized stories hyped by media giants whose #1 priority is advertising income followed closely by their political agenda; getting the story straight falls much further down on their priority scale, as Dan Rather and CBS News have so aptly demonstrated in the last week.

Either we stick it out and pay the price in Iraq, or we will pay a far higher price in lives elsewhere, possibly even here at home.

Rathergate: The Definitive Saga

From today's Washington Post (via MSNBC):

In rush to air, CBS quashed memo worries

Saturday, September 18, 2004

What Were They Thinking?

Via Instapundit, comes this astounding side by side comparison by the Washington Post of an actual memo from Texas Air National Guard Lt. Colonel Jerry Killian with one of the "memos" featured by CBS:

Differences in Documents

I believe in the saying that you should never attribute to malice what can be attributed to stupidity, but my God! A 10 year old could see the difference. It's abundantly obvious that Dan Rather and his team went in the tank for this story. Even a minimal factchecking effort would have told them it was bogus, but they were so desperate for this to be true that they worked with blinders on.

Two Myths about Iraq

"The cost of the President's go-it-alone policy in Iraq is now $200 billion and counting."

John Kerry, "Remarks on Bush’s Wrong Choices in Iraq That Have Left Us Without the Resources We Need at Home", Cincinnati, OH, September 8, 2004

It is perfectly legitimate for John Kerry to raise questions about how George W. Bush has handled Iraq. That's why we have elections. Unfortunately, the sentence I have quoted above is factually challenged in two ways:

1. We have spent $200 billion in Iraq.

This statement is simply not accurate. To quote

There's little question that the Iraq war and its bloody aftermath will cost $200 billion, eventually. But so far, the bill for the war is still under $120 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget. Kerry runs the figure up to $200 billion by counting money scheduled to be spent next fiscal year, plus additional funds for the future that haven't even been requested yet. He also is counting money projected to be spent for operations in Afghanistan and to protect US cities, not for Iraq.


In an estimate released in June the Office of Management and Budget put the total cost of the war -- including reconstruction and costs of supporting coalition forces -- at $119 billion through the end of this month.

One liberal group, the Center for American Progress, comes up with a higher figure in an August 25 report: "so far, the war has cost the United States $144.4 billion." But that figure is produced by simply padding the OMB's $119 billion figure with $25 billion approved by Congress as an "emergency appropriation" signed into law by Bush on Aug. 5. But there are two problems with doing that. First, the money is for fiscal year 2005, which doesn't begin until Oct. 1, and so it hasn't been spent yet. And second, the $25 billion includes money both for Iraq and Afghanistan , so not all of it can be counted in the eventual cost of the Iraq war.

Source:, "Kerry Exaggerates Cost of War in Iraq", September 13, 2004

(link via QandO)

In other words, we have spent $119 billion in Iraq over the course of the last 18 months. For John Kerry to tack on an extra $80 billion that hasn't yet been spent, and not all of which will be spent in Iraq, is less than honest. $119 billion is certainly a lot of money, but one also needs to remember that the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2003 is estimated at $10.98 trillion (source: CIA World Factbook). $119 billion, spent over two years, adds up to less than 1% of our annual GDP. A large amount, to be sure, but not anything beyond our ability to pay.

2. The Bush Administration has pursued a "go-it-alone policy in Iraq".

This has been one of John Kerry's main criticisms of the Iraq campaign. Earlier this year, he referred to the coalition of countries working with us in Iraq as a "trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought, and the extorted." I'm sure Great Britain, Australia, Italy, Japan, Poland, and the 20 some other American allies who are part of the Iraq coalition must be heartened by Senator Kerry's appreciation for their support. The families of the over 150 coalition soldiers who have died fighting at our side in Iraq are no doubt especially gratified by Kerry's high opinion of their sacrifice. Here are some statistics Senator Kerry might want to consider:

-As of June 2004, the "authentic" NATO-sanctioned coalition in Afghanistan included 6,500 troops from 37 countries.

-As of August 2004, the "phony" Iraq coalition totalled 26,000 troops from 31 countries. In addition, a NATO training mission has also been established.

-Non US troops provide about 25% of the 27,000 strong coalition force in Afghanistan.

-Non US troops provide about 15% of the 165,000 strong coalition force in Iraq.

Yes, many of the coalition contingents in Iraq are relatively small. However, the same is true of the Afghan coalition. Is the 600 man South Korean contingent in Iraq any more "phony" than the 565 man French force in Afghanistan? Is the 12 strong Moldovan contingent in Iraq worth any less than the 9 troops from Luxemburg in Afghanistan?

In other words, the "phony" Iraq coalition contains almost as many countries and four times as many troops as the NATO-led Afghanistan coalition. While the percentage of non-US coalition troops is higher in Afghanistan, this is more a reflection of the much smaller US presence in that country (20,000 troops vs. 140,000 in Iraq).

Senator Kerry might want to rethink his idea of what a "phony coalition" is.

(edited to fix links-DD, 9-21-04)

Readings on Rathergate

Dan Rather and CBS continue to deny the fact that they ran a shoddy, poorly sourced story attacking the president, based on fraudulent evidence, less than two months before the election. This is a disgrace, and a far bigger story than the issue of how many National Guard drills George Bush attended in 1972. The forged memos represent an effort to perpetrate a fraud on the American people in order to influence the outcome of a presidential election. I for one am puzzled that so many of the liberals and leftists who decry the evils of big corporations seem unconcerned when a multi-billion dollar media empire seeks to impact an election by running a fraudulent story. I guess corporate malfeasance is okay when it's directed against the evil BusHitler chimp of death.

Here's a roundup of articles that discuss the latest on Rathergate:

-In the Weekly Standard, Jonathan Last provides a great overview of how Rathergate unfolded, especially how blogs like Power Line and Little Green Footballs had exposed the memos as forgeries less than 24 hours after CBS aired them:

What Blogs Have Wrought

-Also in the Standard, Matthew Continetti discusses the pathetic efforts of the Democrats to keep flogging the dead horse of Bush's National Guard service as part of their "Fortunate Son" campaign. Judging by the results of the latest Gallup and CBS/New York Times polls, the "Fortunate Son" campaign seems to be meeting with predictably unfortunate results. As a Republican strategist tells Continetti:

"So, yeah, the tactics are that they play the Fogerty song, and they put up some stupid web ads, and they attack Bush as the son of privilege," he went on. "They're desperately trying to refight the Vietnam war . . . counterpunching about Guard service."

He paused, searching for the right words. "Kerry ought to follow his own advice to the Foreign Relations Committee," he said, "and get the hell out of Vietnam."

Unfortunate Democrats

As long as the Democrats persist in campaigning against the George W. Bush of 1972 while refusing to offer a credible vision of how they will wage war on Islamist terror, this election promises to look more like Bush-Dukakis then Bush-Gore.

-With the memos clearly shown to be forgeries, the question now is how did CBS obtain them, and from whom. Suspicion has focused on a man named Bill Burkett, a Texas Democrat and disgruntled former guardsman who has been peddling the "Bush was AWOL" nonsense since the late 1990's. On Friday, the Houston Chronicle ran an article on Burkett and and his long record of anti-Bush activism. Suffice it to say that he makes Michael Moore look like William F. Buckley:

Bill Burkett, who has emerged as a possible CBS source for disputed memos about President Bush's Guard service, has a long history of making charges against Bush and the Texas National Guard.

But Burkett's allegations have changed over the years, and have been dismissed as baseless by former Guard colleagues, state legislators and others.

Even Burkett has admitted some of his allegations are false.

Texan has a history of attacks on Bush

If CBS did use Burkett as a source, it is a damning indictment of their incompetence, partisanship, or both.

-The Los Angeles Times ran an article today providing a useful overview of how CBS developed the story:

In the Rush for a Scoop, CBS Found Trouble Fast

-In today's Washington Post, Michael Dobbs has another good article on Bill Burkett:

Parallels Drawn Between CBS Memos, Texan's Postings

(If you don't have a Post username and password, go to

The former Texas National Guard officer suspected of providing CBS News with possibly forged records on President Bush's military service called on Democratic activists to wage "war" against Republican "dirty tricks" in a series of Internet postings in which he also used phrases similar to several employed in the disputed documents.

The potential blockbuster in this story comes at the end:

In an Aug. 21 posting, Burkett referred to a conversation with former senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.) about the need to counteract Republican tactics: "I asked if they wanted to counterattack or ride this to ground and outlast it, not spending any money. He said counterattack. So I gave them the information to do it with. But none of them have called me back."

Cleland confirmed that he had a two- or three-minute conversation by cell phone with a Texan named Burkett in mid-August while he was on a car ride. He remembers Burkett saying that he had "valuable" information about Bush, and asking what he should with it. "I told him to contact the [Kerry] campaign," Cleland said. "You get this information tens of times a day, and you don't know if it is legit or not."

I've said earlier that if the forged memos can be tied to the Kerry campaign or DNC, this election is over. If anything came of Burkett's contacts with the Kerry campaign, Kerry might be fortunate to do as well as Dukakis.

-Finally, this article from the American Spectator Web site offers the final word on Dan Rather's journalistic integrity or lack thereof:

Rather says he wants to break the story that broke upon him? Here's his chance. How Rather went from a fundraiser for Texas Democrats to a conduit for their forgeries is a tale Rather could best tell.

But he won't. Having raised $20,000 for Travis County Democrats, Rather's connection to the fetid waters of the forgery are deep enough to sink him. Burkett's lawyer is David Van Os, a former chairman of the Travis County Democratic party. Just as Rather calls the forgery a true lie -- that is, a deception that draws attention to a "core truth" -- so does Van Os, who said to the press: "If, hypothetically, Bill Burkett or anyone else, any other individual, had prepared or had typed on a word processor, as some of the journalists are presuming, without much evidence, if someone in the year 2004 had prepared on a word processor replicas of documents that they believed had existed in 1972 or 1973, which Bill Burkett has absolutely not done, what difference would it make?"

A forgery Kitty Kelley wouldn't touch is suddenly a matter of indifference. Rather has left his journalistic reputation in Texas with a Kinko's caper in Abilene.

Working Kinko's

The network of Edward R. Murrow now practices "journalism" on a par with Michael Moore. Is it any wonder why so many Americans now turn to Fox News and blogs?

Salute our Heroes

Right now, I'm watching the rerun of Neil Cavuto's show on Fox News. He just had two incredibly courageous guests, servicemen who had been severely wounded in Iraq. All Americans owe these heroes our respect and gratitude. During the interview, the soldiers mentioned an organization designed to help maimed and wounded servicemen: The Coalition to Salute America's Heroes:

The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes is an independent, non-partisan 501(c) (3) organization, created to provide an easy way for individuals and organizations to support our troops and their families who have sacrificed so much in Iraq and Afghanistan. Donations are tax-deductible.

With the support of many individuals and organizations, the Coalition has undertaken the development of conferences to help the wounded, projects to build homes for the paralyzed, programs to support families visiting their wounded loved ones in military hospitals, as well as many other initiatives.

Please visit their Web site and see what you can do to help.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Keeping up with Rathergate

Sadly, I don't have the time or doggedness required to keep up with all the twists and turns of the CBS forgery scandal. Fortunately, in addition to the sources I previously mentioned , there's a new site called RatherGate that does a nice job of providing one-stop shopping on this issue:

I'll be adding it to the blogroll this weekend. In the meantime, be sure to check it out.

Reassessing Iraq: Were we "Misled to War"?

The major controversy of the War on Islamist Terror has been the invasion of Iraq. Is it a part of the war, or merely a distraction? Hasn't the war increased anti-American sentiment in the Islamic world? Was Saddam really a threat? Wasn't he contained? Was the war worth the financial and, more importantly, the human cost?

The biggest controversy regarding the Iraq campaign has involved the issue of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It was widely believed before the war, by the Bush Administration and others that Iraq possessed large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, as well as an active nuclear weapons program. Since the fall of Saddam's regime, we have found that, in the words of Dr. David Kay, "it is highly unlikely that there were large stockpiles of deployed militarized chemical and biological weapons" in Iraq.

Democrats and others have seized on the relative lack of weaponized WMD in Iraq to accuse the Bush Administration of exaggerating or even lying about the threat posed by Saddam. John Kerry frequently says that President Bush "misled us into war" in Iraq. Kerry's own record of statements on Iraq is long enough to merit its own essay, and it will. In the meantime, are Kerry and others correct in alleging that the Bush Administration lied about Saddam's WMD capabilities? There is plenty of evidence that disproves this notion.

1. The Clinton Administration described Saddam's regime as a threat on numerous occasions, often employing rhetoric that echoed that of the Bush Administration. As President Clinton stated on February 17, 1998:

"It is obvious that there is an attempt here, based on the whole history of this operation since 1991, to protect whatever remains of his capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction, the missiles to deliver them, and the feed stocks necessary to produce them. The UNSCOM inspectors believe that Iraq still has stockpiles of chemical and biological munitions, a small force of Scud-type missiles, and the capacity to restart quickly its production program and build many, many more weapons. . . .

"Now, let's imagine the future. What if he fails to comply and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route, which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction and continue to press for the release of the sanctions and continue to ignore the solemn commitments that he made? Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And some day, some way, I guarantee you he'll use the arsenal. . . ."

Source: Project for the New American Century, The Clinton Administration's Public Case Against Saddam Hussein

2. Many of the same Democrats who accuse President Bush of lying or exaggerating in regards to Saddam's WMD programs are themselves on record warning of the threat posed by those same weapons. Take the example of West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller. In the "Additional Views" section of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Iraq intelligence, that was released in July 2004, Rockefeller wrote the following:

The Bush Administration's case against Iraq was largely based on the argument that we knew with certainty that Iraq possessed large quantities of chemical and biological weapons, was aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons, and that an established relationship between Baghdad and al Qaeda would allow for the transfer of these weapons for use against the United States. This national security rationale being put forth publicly by senior administration officials in support of regime change in Iraq was simple, direct and often fundamentally misleading.

However, in the October 9, 2002 Senate floor debate over the Iraq war resolution, Rockefeller, who voted for the resolution, said this:

There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. And that may happen sooner if he can obtain access to enriched uranium from foreign sources--something that is not that difficult in the current world. We should also remember that we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction . . . But this isn't just a future threat. Saddam's existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities pose a very real threat to America, now. Saddam has used chemical weapons before, both against Iraq's enemies and against his own people. He is working to develop delivery systems like missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that could bring these deadly weapons against U.S. forces and U.S. facilities in the Middle East. . . .

(emphasis added-DD)

Source: Stephen F. Hayes, "Additional Views", The Weekly Standard, July 12, 2004

John Edwards, who also voted in favor of authorizing force in Iraq, publicly denied that the administration had "misled" him:

"No. I didn't get misled," he said on Hardball with Chris Matthews on October 13, 2003, almost a year to the day after he voted to authorize the Iraq war and some six months after major combat ended. "As you know," he went on, "I serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee. So it wasn't just the Bush administration. I sat in meeting after meeting after meeting where we were told about the presence of weapons of mass destruction. There is clearly a disconnect between what we were told and what, in fact, we found there."

Source: Stephen F. Hayes, "John Edwards, Dove?", The Weekly Standard, July 28, 2004

3. Another claim made by Democrats is that the Bush Administration described Iraq an "imminent threat" to the US. This is demonstrably false. As the liberal site Spinsanity notes in an extremely fair analysis:

Moreover, there are extremely few instances in which any member of the Bush administration even suggested that Iraq posed an "imminent threat."


This evidence is paltry, however, when compared to the times when Bush specifically argued that Iraq was an enemy for which the concept of "imminent threat" was insufficient.

To take just a few examples, when signing the Congressional resolution empowering him to order an invasion of Iraq last October, Bush stated, "The Iraqi regime is a serious and growing threat to peace." In his address to the United Nations in September of last year, Bush said, "Our greatest fear is that terrorists will find a shortcut to their mad ambitions when an outlaw regime supplies them with the technologies to kill on a massive scale." And when summarizing his case against Iraq shortly before the war began in March, Bush stated, "The dictator of Iraq and his weapons of mass destruction are a threat to the security of free nations. He is a danger to his neighbors. He's a sponsor of terrorism. He's an obstacle to progress in the Middle East. For decades he has been the cruel, cruel oppressor of the Iraq people."

Source: Ben Fritz, "Sorting out the "imminent threat" debate",, November 3, 2003

In fact, in his 2003 State of the Union Address, George W. Bush specifically said that Saddam's Iraq was not an imminent threat:

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.

Source: President George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, January 28, 2003

In fact, of the four men currently running for President or Vice-President, the only one who called Iraq an "imminent threat" was John Edwards:

Although Democrats, including Kerry, had long paid lip service to a policy of regime change in Iraq, Edwards was one of the earliest and most outspoken Democratic hawks on Iraq following the September 11 attacks. On February 24, 2002, he described Saddam Hussein's regime as an "imminent threat" in an interview on CNN. "I think Iraq is the most serious and imminent threat to our country."

Source: Stephen F. Hayes, "John Edwards, Dove?", The Weekly Standard, July 28, 2004

4. The belief was almost universal among foreign governments and intelligence agencies that Saddam Hussein possessed active WMD programs. As Dr. David Kay pointed out in his January 28, 2004 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee:

Senator Kennedy knows very directly. Senator Kennedy and I talked on several occasions prior to the war that my view was that the best evidence that I had seen was that Iraq, indeed, had weapons of mass destruction.

I would also point out that many governments that chose not to support this war -- certainly, the French president, Chirac, as I recall in April of last year, referred to Iraq's possession of WMD. The German certainly -- the intelligence service believed that there were WMD.

It turns out that we were all wrong, probably in my judgment, and that is most disturbing.

(emphasis added-DD)

Source: Dr. David Kay, Testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, January 28, 2004

Or as Kenneth Pollack told the Atlantic Monthly in an interview:

It's important to remember that any intelligence service or country with the ability to monitor Iraq and its weapons programs—Germany, France, Britain, Russia, Israel—was a hundred percent certain that Saddam had these programs. There may have been some debate over just how aggressive they were or how far along they were. The Germans were the most alarmist of all on the subject of a nuclear weapon. They thought the Iraqis might have one in as little as two or three years. Our own intelligence community tended to be a little more conservative; they thought it was more like four to six years away—or five to seven. But no one doubted that Saddam had these weapons.

Source: Atlantic Online, "Weapons of Misperception", January 13, 2004

5. An argument that many Democrats have made against the Bush Administration is that it "pressured" the intelligence community to come up with the desired conclusions regarding Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. Unfortunately for the Democrats, the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Iraq debunked this notion as well. As the report concluded:

The Committee did not find any evidence that Administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

Source: United States Senate, Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq: Conclusions, July 2004

(official PDF version at:

6. The most telling evidence in the administration's favor is Saddam Hussein's own record. He was a genocidal, totalitarian tyrant who had launched two wars against his neighbors, used chemical weapons on his own civilians, and spent 12 years in defiance of ultimately 17 United Nations resolutions. In light of his track record, it was up to Saddam to prove that he was in compliance with the obligations imposed upon him, and this is exactly what he failed to do. Stephen Sestanovich makes the point even more clearly:

Clearly, President Bush and his advisers did not expect Saddam Hussein to cooperate in this test, and might still have wanted war if he had. But even if the administration had handled other aspects of the issue differently, it would still have been necessary to subject Iraq to a test. In our debate about the war, we need to acknowledge that the administration set the right test for Saddam Hussein -- and that he did not pass it.

When America demanded that Iraq follow the example of countries like Ukraine and South Africa, which sought international help in dismantling their weapons of mass destruction, it set the bar extremely high, but not unreasonably so. The right test had to reflect Saddam Hussein's long record of acquiring, using and concealing such weapons. Just as important, it had to yield a clear enough result to satisfy doubters on both sides, either breaking the momentum for war or showing that it was justified.

(emphasis added-DD)

Source: Stephen R. Sestanovich, "How Saddam Failed the Yeltsin Test", originally published in the New York Times, July 21, 2004

David Kay himself has pointed out that Saddam remained in material breach of all UN resolutions requiring him to dismantle his WMD programs till the last day of his regime:

Iraq was in clear and material violation of 1441. They maintained programs and activities, and they certainly had the intentions at a point to resume their program. So there was a lot they wanted to hide because it showed what they were doing that was illegal. I hope we find even more evidence of that.

Source: Kay, Senate Testimony, January 28, 2004

People who criticize George Bush for launching a war against Iraq ignore one final point: We were already at war with Saddam's Iraq. Everyday for almost a decade, American pilots enforced no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq, and were shot at regularly by Iraqi forces while doing so. Tommy Franks has written in his memoir, American Soldier, that having an American plane shot down over Iraq was one of his major concerns.(p.268)

Yes, the intelligence on Iraq was far from perfect. Unfortunately, this is the norm, not the exception. Not only the Bush Administration, but also the Clinton Administration, the British, French, Russians, Germans, and Israelis all considered Saddam's WMD programs to be an active and growing threat. Many of the same Democrats who now repeat the "Bush lied" mantra, were themselves adamant that Saddam posed a threat that needed to be dealt with. The Bush Administration did not argue that Saddam posed an "imminent threat": rather, they argued that, considering his track record and the available intelligence, that waiting patiently until Saddam became an "imminent threat" was not an option in the post 9/11 world. It is perfectly fair to disagree with this strategy, or to criticize the Bush Administration's implementation of this policy. However, the idea that the administration "lied" or "misled" us into Iraq is simply not a credible argument in light of the available evidence.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Damning Evidence

Perhaps I was wrong about Rathergate, there really is serious documentary evidence against Bush:

Found, as usual, Via Instapundit.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Time for CBS to CYA

Apparently, Dan Rather made one final pathetic attempt on Monday night to defend the fradulent National Guard memos he and CBS hoped to use to put John Kerry in the White House. Today, to its credit, the Washington Post dealt the final blow to CBS's forlorn hope that they could bluff their way through the controversy:

The lead expert retained by CBS News to examine disputed memos from President Bush's former squadron commander in the National Guard said yesterday that he examined only the late officer's signature and made no attempt to authenticate the documents themselves.

"There's no way that I, as a document expert, can authenticate them," Marcel Matley said in a telephone interview from San Francisco. The main reason, he said, is that they are "copies" that are "far removed" from the originals.

Wait, it gets better:

A detailed comparison by The Washington Post of memos obtained by CBS News with authenticated documents on Bush's National Guard service reveals dozens of inconsistencies, ranging from conflicting military terminology to different word-processing techniques.

The analysis shows that half a dozen Killian memos released earlier by the military were written with a standard typewriter using different formatting techniques from those characteristic of computer-generated documents. CBS's Killian memos bear numerous signs that are more consistent with modern-day word-processing programs, particularly Microsoft Word.

The article even shreds CBS's ridiculous efforts to defend the memos authenticity:

In its broadcast last night, CBS News produced a new expert, Bill Glennon, an information technology consultant. He said that IBM electric typewriters in use in 1972 could produce superscripts and proportional spacing similar to those used in the disputed documents.

Any argument to the contrary is "an out-and-out lie," Glennon said in a telephone interview. But Glennon said he is not a document expert, could not vouch for the memos' authenticity and only examined them online because CBS did not give him copies when asked to visit the network's offices.

Thomas Phinney, program manager for fonts for the Adobe company in Seattle, which helped to develop the modern Times New Roman font, disputed Glennon's statement to CBS. He said "fairly extensive testing" had convinced him that the fonts and formatting used in the CBS documents could not have been produced by the most sophisticated IBM typewriters in use in 1972, including the Selectric and the Executive. He said the two systems used fonts of different widths.

The entire article can be accessed here: Expert Cited by CBS Says He Didn't Authenticate Papers

(if you need a Post name and password, go to

I can only express my appreciation to Michael Dobbs and Howard Kurtz, for an ecellent article and for restoring hope that some shred of non-partisan objectivity yet resides in the elite media.

With the forgery debate all but settled, several key questions remain: Who created these documents? How did CBS wind up with them? Why didn't CBS make a sincere effort to vet the authenticity of these documents before running the story? Did CBS genuinely not know the memos were forged, or did they just not care?

In my view, CBS's behavior is another manifestation of the Michael Moore phenomenon. Many of the people who saw Fahrenheit 9/11 knew that they were witnessing kindergarten level agitprop, but because the movie told them exactly what they wanted to hear, they believed it anyway. The same thing appears to have happened with Rather and his team at CBS. They were so eager to do a partisan hit piece on Bush's guard service that, when these memos arrived, they believed them because the documents said exactly what they wanted to hear. This story from the American Spectator Web site indicates that this is exactly what happened.

The Democrats September smear offensive has now truly turned into a quagmire. Should the forgeries be directly tied to the DNC and/or the Kerry/Edwards campaign, the quagmire will become a disaster.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Iraq: "The Caravan Moves On"

The sad news that the American death toll in Iraq reached the 1,000 mark received much of the media's attention last week. As American, Iraqi, and coalition forces undertake offensive operations against both prongs of the jihadist enemy, Moqtada al-Sadr's Shia Mahdi Army in Baghdad and the Sunni Islamists in the north and west, it is important to keep in mind that this is not all that is going on in the country. Once again, Arthur Chrenkoff provides the details:

For the media, the past two weeks in Iraq have not been good: more hostages taken and executed, continuing sabotage of oil infrastructure, military clashes and terror attacks, and the U.S. death toll reaching 1,000. But a lot more has been happening in Iraq every day--the steady progress towards normality that does not make for snappy headlines and exciting news footage. The Arabs have an old saying: "The dogs bark, but the caravan is moving on." The Iraqi caravan is certainly on the move, and here are some of the stories you probably didn't hear amid all the barking.

The Caravan Moves On

Once again, I can't encourage you strongly enough to read the article for yourself. As painful as the loss of life in Iraq has been, we must remember all that our brave men and women in uniform have accomplished there so far, and all they can do if we let them finish the job.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Remembering 9/11

On this third anniversary of 9/11, allow me to extend my thoughts and prayers to the families of all those murdered in the horrific terrorist attacks of that day. I decided not to post anything yesterday because, quite frankly, I couldn't think of anything I could say that hasn't already been said. For whatever it's worth, all I can really do is talk about what I heard, saw, and felt on that day.

My own experiences on 9/11 were relatively mundane compared to what others went through, yet for me are still unforgettable. I was here in Greenville. I was assigned to work Tuesday evening, so, not being a morning person, I took advantage of the opportunity to sleep in late. As I got ready to go into work, I happened to turn on the TV, only to find a surreal image of New York partly covered by a massive cloud of smoke. As I listened to the newscast, and realized what had happened, my reaction, frankly, was one of shock. At the same time, I felt an anger like I had never felt before. At work, I remember being totally distracted and unproductive. I remember frantically browsing the Web, trying to find out as much news as I could. I remember CNN's site being almost impossible to log into, until they finally replaced their regular home page with a plain one giving a few major headlines. Finally, I remember trying to call a friend who worked in New York to make sure he and his wife were okay, and getting a message that all circuits were busy.

Looking back on that day, there are several particular pieces of news that stand out. One was when it was announced that two naval carrier battle groups had sortied from Norfolk, not to set sail for the Middle East, but in order to provide air cover for New York and D.C. For 60 years, the navy's aircraft carriers had been the embodiment of America's ability to project power around the globe. Now, they were being used to protect our two major cities. It felt like something out of a disaster movie.

Another thing I remember was driving that night to pick up a pizza, and hearing for the fist time about all the police, firemen, and other emergency responders who had lost their lives. As I listened on my car radio, and heard that entire FDNY engine companies had been wiped out, I literally felt sick inside.

The final memories I have are of the images of happy Palestinians dancing in the streets, delirious with joy over the slaughter their fellow Arabs had wrought. No, American support for Israel didn't justify it. In fact, seeing those images made me want to double our military aid to Israel. Which is why, as far as I'm concerned, the Palestinians can take their dreams of statehood and shove them right up their ass. The Iraqi Kurds have experienced ten times the suffering the Palestinians have, yet they don't strap bombs to themselves, and they sure as hell didn't celebrate on 9/11. When the Palestinians stop strapping bombs to themselves, stop embracing mass murderers like bin Laden and Saddam as heroes, stop celebrating the murder of innocent civilians in Israel and the US, abandon Islamist and pan-Arab fantasies about destroying Israel, and start to take responsibilty for improving their own circumstances, then I will be happy to support the creation of a Palestinian state living in peace with Israel.

Which brings me to my final point. Like Rudy Giuliani and others, I have bristled whenever I hear the events of 9/11 described as a "tragedy". Of course, the loss of human life that day was tragic indeed. However, a "tragedy" is when a plane crashes accidentally, or a building collapses due to structural faults. When 3,000 people die because a group of totalitarian fanatical savages decided to murder them, that is not a tragedy, that is an atrocity. It is an act of barbarism and an act of war. Too many people have begun to treat 9/11 like it was a one-off event, a natural disaster like a hurricane or an earthquake. It wasn't. It was a deliberate attack by a global terrorist movement which seeks our defeat and eventual destruction. A movement whose spokesman stated the desire to kill 4 million Americans. A movement that is badly damaged but far from defeated. A movement that would gladly repeat the carnage of 9/11 on an even greater scale.

To paraphrase George Santayana, either we remember 9/11, or we will be condemned to repeat it.

"Forging" Ahead with the "AWOL" Canard

The centerpiece of the Democrats/elite media's September sleaze offensive so far has been the "Bush was AWOL from the National Guard" allegation. There are several problems with this approach. For one thing, there is little evidence that people actually care about the issue. After all, George W. Bush has based his campaign around his four years in office, not on what he did 30 years ago. There's also the slight technicality that you can't actually be "AWOL" from the National Guard unless you are called into federal service, which Bush never was. Finally, the charges themselves are overblown at best, ridiculous at worst, as pointed out by the following sources, among others:

-Bill Hobbs

-The Hill


-National Review

It is a a sympton of the stunning incompetence of the Democratic campaign that their efforts to exploit this "issue" have been marked by two small yet still ridiculous blunders. One is their decision to use Senator Tom Harkin as their point man in attacking Bush's guard service, considering that Harkin is a proven liar regarding his own military record. The second mistake is their use of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song "Fortunate Son" as a dig at Bush and his guard service. Unfortunately, the Democrats failed to note that CCR front man John Fogerty sat out Vietnam while serving at home in the Army Reserves.

Still, the Democrats seem determined to proceed further down this path, and their coalition partners in the elite media are stepping up to do their part. On Wednesday, September 8, CBS ran an interview with Ben Barnes, a former Texas politician, on "60 Minutes 2". Barnes, who was Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives in 1968 when George W. Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard (TANG), claimed that he interceded to get Bush into the TANG, at the behest of a Bush family friend. To quote Barnes from the interview:

This is about what the truth is. About the time in which I served and the role I played. Sid Adger (PH), a friend of the Bush family, came to see me and asked me if I would recommend George W. Bush for the Air National Guard. And I did.

And I talked to a Gen. Rose, who was the commander of the Air National Guard. I don't know whether my recommendation was the absolute reason he got in the Guard. He was a Congressman's son. He graduated from Yale. He was a person that would have been eligible.

Of course, what Dan Rather, who did the interview, neglected to mention is that Ben Barnes is an active Democrat and major Kerry fundraiser, whose political career ended in disgrace due to his connection to a major Texas political scandal. His own daughter has come forward to say that Barnes is lying.

To support its story, CBS released four documents written by TANG Lt. Colonel James Killian in 1972-73 that purport to show that George W. Bush disobeyed direct orders, failed to fulfill service requirements, and received favorable treatment while in the guard.

Impressive, but for one problem. As blogs like Power Line and Little Green Footballs pointed out almost immediately, the evidence is overwhelming that these documents are forgeries. Others have done a terrific job of analyzing this evidence, and I will not duplicate their efforts. Hugh Hewitt provides an excellent summary, as does Stephen Hayes in the Weekly Standard. For full updates and detailed analysis, see the following:


-INDC Journal


-Just One Minute

-Little Green Footballs

-National Review Online: Kerry Spot

-Power Line

-Rather Biased

-Shiny Happy Gulag

Incredibly, Dan Rather and CBS continue to insist in the face of voluminous evidence that the documents are genuine. They have made clear that they intend to stand by their partisan hit piece no matter what. CBS has perpetrated a fraud on the American people in support of a political agenda. To their credit, other media outlets like ABC and the Washington Post have reported on the forgery issue in a reasonably fair manner. Still, it is clear that much of the old media is blatantly pursuing an anti-Bush agenda.

That leaves the question of where the forgeries came from. The American Spectator posted an article on its Web site that, if true, would almost certainly mean that CBS was given the forged documents by the Kerry campaign and Democratic National Committee (DNC). If the forgeries can be directly tied to the Kerry camp or DNC (i.e. not via the "six degrees of separation" methods used to "connect" the Bush campaign to the Swift Boat Vets) then frankly the presidential campaign is over. The ironic thing is that the smear offensive was unlikely to do much damage to Bush anyway, and was little more than a sympton of the Democrats' desperation. Instead, it could turn out to be the final nail in the Kerry campaign's coffin.

Friday, September 10, 2004

The Democrats Smear Offensive

There's one other base here, the media. Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win and I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards I'm talking about the establishment media, not Fox. They're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and there's going to be this glow about them, collective glow, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points.

Evan Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor, Newsweek, July 10, 2004

(Emphasis added-DD)

As the presidential race tilts towards George W. Bush, and John Kerry's campaign continues to combine incoherence with incompetence, many Democrats are literally beside themselves with rage. After careful consideration, they have decided that they and the Kerry campaign have simply been "too nice", and now it's time to get really nasty.

I hesitate to imagine in what sort of alternate universe accusing the President of the United States of lying, desertion, stupidity, being unpatriotic, sending Americans to die for political gain, implying that he knew in advance about 9/11 and let it happen, and numerous other allegations, is considered to be "too nice". Still, that's how they see it, and now they're going to take it to the next level. The key factor was the Swift Boat Veterans campaign against John Kerry. Convinced that they couldn't possibly lose the election, and unable to comprehend why any of John Kerry's fellow Vietnam veterans could possibly be angry with him, many Democrats and their allies are certain that the swift boat controversy can only be the result of an evil Karl Rove conspiracy. The lack of any actual evidence to support this belief is unimportant. The Democrats have already unleashed their September smear offensive designed to "even the score" for the swift boat issue and turn the campaign back in their favor, regardless of the cost to our politics.

As J. McIntyre of Real Clear Politics noted on Wednesday, September 8th, it's the media wing of the Democratic Party that is spearheading the assault:

Old Media and the Left, enraged by President Bush's surge in the polls and what they view as an illegitimate examination of Kerry's record, has decided that today is the day they will counterattack hard in an attempt to reopen the Bush National Guard story as an issue in the campaign.

The Boston Globe unloads an above the fold, front-page story: "Bush Fell Short on Duty at Guard: Records Show Pledges Unmet." The Globe's parent corporation, The New York Times Company, gets into the action with Nicholas Kristof 's "Missing in Action." Then of course there is the headliner with CBS's Dan Rather interviewing former Democratic Texas House Speaker and Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes on 60 Minutes II later tonight.

CBS, of course, has been at the forefront of the Democratic-elite media coalition. Just this year, "60 Minutes" has featured interviews with Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, Joe Wilson, and now Barnes, giving each of them and their charges a huge publicity boost. Yet when Tommy Franks published his important and revealing memoir, "60 Minutes" refused to go near it. The fact that Franks supports President Bush is, I'm sure, a complete coincidence. Don't even bother asking if CBS has given any of the Swift Boat Veterans a hearing.

In addition to reviving the ridiculous "AWOL" canard, the Democrats and elite media are counting on Kitty Kelley's vile, slanderous, smear job on the Bush family to turn voters against the president. The "Today Show" is having Kelley on for three consecutive days to expand on her allegations of rape and drug abuse. As in the past, the major media are more than willing to help spread vicious, unsubstantiated charges of personal misconduct, provided that those charges are directed at Republicans. This is as desperate as it is pathetic, and is unlikely to have much of an impact, or at least much of a positive impact, for the Democrats. The reason is the principle of diminishing returns: Democrats, liberals, and leftists can only say so many venomous things about George Bush before they stop having much of an impact. As Jim Geraghty put it for National Review Online's "Kerry Spot":

We've had Howard Dean spreading the rumor that the Saudis warned Bush about 9/11. Ted Kennedy contended - in an argument that defies logic - that the war on Iraq was "planned in Texas" to benefit the president politically. We've had Michael Moore making the case that the war in Afghanistan was about a natural gas pipeline and oil company profits. We've had Paul Krugman arguing in the pages of the New York Times that Bush is trying to destroy democracy. We've had the antiwar left arguing, again and again, that Bush is the second coming of Hitler. I suspect that after a while, the public just tunes out this stuff.

I mean, once you've killed thousands in a war to boost Halliburton's profits, repealed the Constitution, and destroyed democracy, isn't cocaine use kind of mild?

The fact that all the Democrats have to offer in this campaign are vicious attacks on George W. Bush's character, that they are incapable of offering the American people a credible alternative to the Bush/Cheney Administration, is the ultimate statement of their bankruptcy. The Democrats have let their Bush-hatred consume them, and hopefully they will pay the price in November.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Russia's 9/11

It's hard to think of anything to say about last week's slaughter of the innocents in Beslan, Russia that hasn't already been said by others. I tried to put this atrocity into the broader context of the assault of Islamist barbarism against civilization in this post. Mark Steyn, as he so often does, makes the same point far more eloquently:

In the 1990s, while the world's leaders slept – or in Bill Clinton's case slept around – thousands of volunteers from across the globe passed through terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and were then dispatched to Indonesia, Kosovo, Sudan . . . and Chechnya. Wealthy Saudis – including members of the royal family – invested millions in setting up mosques and madrassas in what were traditionally spheres of a more accommodationist Islam, from the Balkans to South Asia, and successfully radicalised a generation of young Muslim men. It's the jihadist component – not the asymmetrical one, not the secessionist one – that accounts for the mound of undersized corpses, for the scale of the depravity.

If the Russian children are innocent, the Russian state is not. Its ham-fisted campaign in Chechnya is as brutal as it is ineffectual. The Muslims have a better case in Chechnya than they do in the West Bank, Kashmir or any of the other troublespots where the Islamic world rubs up against the infidels. But that said, as elsewhere, whatever the theoretical merits of the cause, it's been rotted from within by the Islamist psychosis.

I wonder if, as they killed those schoolchildren, they chanted "Allahu Akbar!" – as they did when they hacked the head of Nick Berg, and killed those 12 Nepalese workers, and blew up those Israeli diners in the Passover massacre

Gregory Djerejian of Belgravia Dispatch, a blogger whose work I respect immensely, argues against too strictly interpreting the Beslan massacre as part of an international jihad:

There is a problem with all of this, of course. Each situation is materially different (though they all, of course, involve Muslims groups). While the tactics of indiscriminate terror are equally reprehensible whether done in NYC on 9/11, a Passover dinner in Haifa, or a school in North Ossetia--we need to analyze such attacks within the context of the specific dynamics at play. Put differently, the U.S. was not occupying Saudi Arabia when 15 Saudis crashed planes into the Towers (we had troops there at the invitation of the Saudi government). Contra this, the Palestinian terror groups are operating in the context of a war underway there since 1948. Similarly, Chechens and Russians have been in conflict, at least this last go-around, since the early 90s.

Djerejian argues for the importance of settling these regional wars in mitigating the "root causes" of terrorism, such as the Israeli-Palestinian and Russo-Chechen situations:

Ditto, of course, in Chechnya. Suppose Grozny were awarded some 'deep' autonomy where Russia merely kept certain border security/foreign policy levers. Chechens would have, let's say, their own currency, schools, municipal government, flag, and so on. Such a move would de-radicalize many Chechens just as a Palestinian state would de-radicalize many Palestinians. There would be fewer 'black widows'. Fewer thugs willing to slaughter innocent children. No, of course (like with Islamic Jihad, say) there would be absolutists who would view the Russian concessions as weak-kneed and would thus seek to inflict further terror blows to gain further concessions. But, such radicals would enjoy little support but from the most radical of terrorists (ie, the al-Qaeda theoratic barbarian crowd).

So, to wrap up. There can be no appeasement of gruesome international terror tactics. Not now, not later. But, we can't live in a bubble. These monsters who kill children in Beslan and Tel Aviv emerge from a climate of deep historical grievances, myriad outstanding claims and recriminations, long and bitter conflicts. In other words, and returning to Matt's point (if indeed this, er, is his point), we do need to work to reach negotiated settlements of the Kashmirs, Palestines, Chechnyas of the world. The sooner we can resolve those--the better to narrow down the battle to those who will never be satisfed by any reasonable concessions and attempts at rational compromise. Those, for instance, that hate the very idea of liberal democracy--particularly, its leading avatar America.

I agree with Djerejian that it would be a good thing if we could equitably solve regional conflicts such as those in Israel and Chechnya. The problem is that I don't believe that settling these situations would lessen the impact of Islamist barbarism as much as Djerejian does. To a large extent, the Chechen struggle has already been absorbed into the worldwide terrorist jihad. Newsweek's Terror Watch Web column reported the following on ties between the Chechens and al-Qaeda:

But the larger question about links between Chechen rebels and the international jihadi movement is more troubling. There has been a history of such contacts going back more than a decade. Indeed, according to the September 11 commission report, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed—the mastermind of the terror attacks in New York and Washington—himself sought to join forces with the Chechen rebel leader known as Khattab. The report also states that, among other leaders of the attacks in the United States, Mohammed Atta, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Marwan al-Shehhi, and Ziad Jarrah had all sought to enlist in the Chechen cause in 1999—and only ended up in Afghanistan because of a chance meeting with another jihadi on a train in Germany. There is also little doubt that Osama bin Laden used the Chechen cause—and the fierce Russian counterattacks to suppress it—to enlist new recruits. After the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000, the report states, bin Laden ordered his media committee to prepare a propaganda video that reenacted the attack on the Cole laced with images of Muslim suffering in Chechnya, Kashmir, Indonesia and among Palestinians.

On September 7, the Christian Science Monitor provided further confirmation of these ties:

Ties between Chechen radicals and Al Qaeda stretch back to the first Chechen war (1994-1996). A radical element - spurred by would-be clerics who traveled to Saudi Arabia to learn about the Salafi fundamentalist strain of Islam - began to develop in the late 1990s.

By 1999, when Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev invaded Russian territory in Dagestan - prompting a second war - it became clear that Islamic radicals dominated Chechen rebel groups.

"Chechnya began to attract [Al Qaeda] emissaries, adventurers, and finances," says Alexander Iskandaryan, head of the Center for Caucasian Studies in Yerevan, Armenia. "After 1999, the radical tendency grew strong, and became more internationalized."

This second war burns on, and has two parts: guerrilla warfare and terrorist acts, says Mr. Iskandarian. "Over the last month, we've seen a considerable growth of the second component, terrorism."

"Russian policy in the Caucasus in the last 10 years helped a lot to separate the Caucasus from Russia," he says. "Ideology is being generated against Russia - Islamization is growing. There are more calls for sharia law, not only by radicals, but by average Muslims."

The most comprehensive description of al-Qaeda Chechen ties is provided in this superb September 5th post at Winds of Change by Dan Darling. This comment on the objectives of Chechen jihadist warlord Shamil Basayev, believed to be the architect of the Beslan massacre, is particularly telling:

However, I should point out that Basayev's ambitions extend far beyond just Chechen independence, so everybody saying that a political solution to the Chechen war or Russian withdrawl from the region is going to solve the issue is going to be sorely disappointed.

Unfortunately, the simple truth is that those Chechens who commit terrorist atrocities such as Beslan are not motivated simply by the desire to expel the Russians from Chechnya. Rather, they are seeking to impose Islamist totalitarianism throughout the Caucasus, and no peace deal in Chechnya will deter them from committing additional savagery. While there are some genuine nationalist Chechen guerrillas who are fighting solely for their nation's freedom, they are not the ones blowing up aircraft or slaughtering children.

Make no mistake, the Russians bear an enormous amount of responsibility for the current situation in the Caucasus. The simple truth, however, is that they are now confronted by the same jihadist terror movement that we are. The Chief of the Russian General Staff has already vowed to strike at terrorists anywhere in the world. I fully believe that they will do it, and that when the Russians strike back at the jihadists, it will be with a ruthlessness well beyond anything America has displayed to date.