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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

12.11.2006

The State of Play in the War on Terror

Robert Kagan & Bill Kristol:

It's all up to the president now. The James Baker public relations blitz will of course continue, and the members of Baker's Iraq Study Group will go to book signings and be regulars on morning TV, and maybe even go on a nationwide tour like the Rolling Stones. Alan Simpson will continue to underline the gravity and earnestness of the group's endeavors by insisting that anyone who disagrees with him (like, say, John McCain and Joe Lieberman) has "gas" and "B.O."--subjects about which, unlike the military situation in Iraq, he probably has real knowledge and expertise.


Michael Ledeen:

The Surrender Commission Report underlines the basic truth about The War, which is that we cannot possibly win it by fighting defensively in Iraq alone. So long as Iran and Syria have a free shot at us and our Iraqi allies, they can trump most any military tactics we adopt, at most any imaginable level of troops. Until the publication of the report this was the dirty secret buried under years of misleading rhetoric from our leaders; now it is front and center. Either deal effectively with Iran, or suffer a humiliating defeat, repeating the terrible humiliation of Lebanon in the Eighties when Iran and Syria bombed us out of the country (thereby providing the template for the terror war in Iraq).

The Surrender Commission members do not shrink from humiliation. They want American troops out of Iraq, and therefore they advocate appeasing the Syrians and Iranians. But a considerable number of Americans don’t want to be humiliated by the clerical fascists in Tehran, and I think it’s fair to say the recommendations have largely bombed, despite the flattering photos in Vogue, and the fawning attention from the MSM, including Time’s respectful parroting of (what they must know is) mullah disinformation, and reporting, with an obvious tone of sadness, that the Baker/Hamilton call for talks is more popular in Tehran than in America.


Michael Barone:

This New Diplomatic Offensive would not only be directed at securing Iraq's border and reducing violence within them, but would also, astonishingly, be directed at producing a peace settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians. All this because, the report says, "all key issues in the Middle East -- the Arab-Israeli conflict, Iraq, Iran, the need for political and economic reforms, and extremism and terrorism -- are inextricably linked.

Iraqi residents check rubble after a U.S. air strike destroyed two house in Iraqi town of Ishaqi, 90 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, December 8, 2006. Iraqi and U.S. officials gave sharply differing accounts of an overnight raid and air strike on Friday in which up to 20 people were killed, with a town mayor accusing American troops of killing five children. REUTERS/Nuhad Hussin (IRAQ) Well, everything is linked to everything, I suppose, and you could even argue that everything is "inextricably" linked to everything. But it's hard to see why, to take one of several possible examples, Iraqi Sunnis would stop shooting Shiites and American troops if the United States successfully pressured Israel to give the Golan Heights to Syria. Nor is it clear that a removal of U.S. objections to Iran's nuclear program would persuade the Shiite militias to stop shooting.

Regime change has been achieved in Iraq by military action. The ISG would seek to reduce violence in Iraq by regime change in Iran and Syria -- regime change to be achieved by negotiation. But it gives no persuasive reason to believe this is possible.


The Kurds surely don't like it:

THE Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani has angrily rejected the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group in the United States and warned of "grave consequences" if there is any delay in deciding the fate of the oil-rich region claimed by his people.

Mr Barzani, president of the 15-year-old autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq and a staunch ally of the US, also criticised the ISG for not visiting his region, saying that was a "major shortcoming that adversely influenced the credibility of the assessment".

Mr Barzani said the high-profile panel led by the former US secretary of state James Baker, which released its report on Wednesday, had ignored a letter he sent it outlining Kurdish views. "It seemed as if they had not read it at all," he said.

He went on: "We think that the Iraq Study Group has made some unrealistic and inappropriate recommendations for helping the US to get out of these difficulties [in Iraq]. We are in no way abiding by this report."


Nor do Israelis:

As President Bush sets out on a listening tour of the national security bureaucracy to hear options for the war in Iraq, America's allies in the Middle East are urging him to reject proposals offered by the Iraq Study Group.

Over the weekend, Israeli and Iraqi leaders picked apart key recommendations from the group, which is headed by a former secretary of state, James Baker, and a former chairman of the House Committee on International Relations, Lee Hamilton. Both Iraq and Israel rejected the diplomatic elements of the group's plan that most appealed to Sunni Arab leaders.

Yesterday, the deputy Israeli prime minister and a leading advocate of Israeli-Arab negotiations, Shimon Peres, told CNN that renewed pressure for a final settlement between the two sides, as the Iraq Study Group suggests, fails to address the divide among the Palestinian Arabs. "The problem is not so much how to build a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but how to unite Palestinians," he said.

Mr. Peres, who shared in a Nobel Peace Prize for his negotiations with Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Rabin, also said any proposal at this point for Israeli talks with Syria over the return of the Golan Heights is "wishful thinking."


Meanwhile, Kofi Annan pines for the good ol' days of Saddam:

This week the United Nations Secretary General had this to say about the ongoing sectarian violence (or is it civil war?) in Iraq: "They had a dictator who was brutal but they had their streets: they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back without a mother or father worrying 'Am I going to see my child again?'"

A lot of pundits have been saying similar things, but they have been said mostly tongue in cheek. At least, I hope so. In late November the New Republic's Jonathan Chait called for bringing back the former Iraqi dictator:


Yes, I know. Saddam is a psychotic mass murderer. Under his rule, Iraqis were shot, tortured and lived in constant fear. Bringing the dictator back would sound cruel if it weren't for the fact that all those things are also happening now, probably on a wider scale.

Leaving aside the fact that Saddam's regime murdered 300,000 Iraqis -- twice as many as Iraqi health minister estimates have died due to sectarian violence -- one cannot help wonder if Mr. Chait is not bucking to be the next Jon Stewart? Perhaps this is his attempt at a little Swiftian satire. Anyway, no one takes his modest proposal seriously. Or do they?


...Pakistan is easing off the Taliban....

Bad enough that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf eased off the Taliban a few months ago, resulting in a 300 percent increase in attacks across the border in Afghanistan. Now al Qaeda is blossoming in the same lawless tribal regions that the Taliban uses to stage those raids.

The question has become unavoidable: Is Islamabad serious about fighting extremism and terror?


...while Iran hunts for uranium in newly-Muslim-controlled Somalia....

Iran is secretly searching for uranium in war-torn Somalia, according to a confidential United Nations report obtained by Pajamas Media.

The report, which has yet to be made public, is available here at Pajamas.

The report notes that two Iranians were “engaged on matters linked to the exploration of Uranium in exchange for arms” in Dusamareb, Somalia. The arms would be given to the Islamic Courts Union (the ICU), a Taliban-like movement that controls much of Somalia.


The UN report spends little time on this surprising development, perhaps because the report’s mandate is limited to monitoring violations of Somalia’s arms embargo.

“We are extremely concerned about that,” a military intelligence officer told Pajamas Media. This concern stems from the fact that the ICU has every incentive to cooperate with Iran: the Islamic group would be unable to mine and market the uranium on its own, and the ICU is always hungry for weapons for its war against Somalia’s transitional federal government (TFG).

Dusamareb is known to be rich in uranium. Abdiweli Ali, an assistant professor of economics at Niagara University and a supporter of Somalia’s transitional federal government (TFG), is originally from Dusamareb, where he received his primary school education. He reports that in the Galgadud region, where Dusamareb is located, uranium exploration has occurred since the 1940s. This exploration was put on hiatus after the fall of president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991 put the country under the rule of rival warlords.

The uranium prospecting that Iranians are undertaking in Somalia creates problems for U.S. efforts to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. It would provide them with a virtually untraceable source of uranium ore that could be made into weapons.

Al-Qaeda is also active in Somalia, the UN report confirms.


...and the Democrat who's going to be in charge of the House Intelligence Committee doesn't know jack about Islam.

Getting the picture?

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