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War Blog By: FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, September 10, 2008


By Paul Mirengoff

The Washington Post is running a series of articles adapted from Bob Woodward's book "The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008." The articles purport to provide an inside account of the dissension over Iraq war policy and especially the surge.

The articles are well worth reading but they have an odd quality. The point of view that Woodward's narrative conveys is that a cowboy president, at the urging of a cowboy retired general (Jack Keane), ignored or gave short shrift to the sober warnings of top military professionals that the surge wouldn't work and would weaken the military. Bush did, of course, reject the advice of top military professionals, but events have proven that this advice was poor. And we have long known that the approach many of them advocated was failing on the ground. Yet the way Woodward writes the articles provides little sense of this. The reader almost wants to scream at Bush, "don't do it," despite the fact that "it" has been hugely successful.

The tendency among many conservatives is to criticize Bush for waiting so long to reverse course in Iraq and to implement the winning strategy. But if Woodward's account is true, I think Bush deserves considerable credit for getting it right at all, given the terrible advice he received from his top military professionals.

Even historians not favorably disposed to Bush may have to conclude that he was more sinned against than sinning, especially when it came to Iraq. Prior to the war, he was plagued by an intelligence agency that was largely clueless about the situation in Iraq. Once the war started, he was plagued by military leaders who seemed largely clueless about how to win there and, in Woodward's account, may not have been sufficiently committed to winning. Yet Bush was able nonetheless to come up with the winning strategy.

Historians should also be impressed by this statement by President Bush to Retired Gen. Keane, that Bush told Keane to deliver to Gen. Petraeus at a time when Petraeus was struggling against superiors who did not support what he was trying to do:

I respect the chain of command. I know that the Joint Chiefs and the Pentagon have some concerns. One is about the Army and Marine Corps and the impact of the war on them. And the second is about other contingencies and the lack of strategic response to those contingencies.

I want Dave to know that I want him to win. That's the mission. He will have as much force as he needs for as long as he needs it.

When he feels he wants to make further reductions, he should only make those reductions based on the conditions in Iraq that he believes justify those reductions. These two concerns that we are discussing back here in Washington -- about contingency operations and the needs of the Army and the Marine Corps -- they are not your concerns. They are my concerns.

I do not want to change the strategy until the strategy has succeeded. I waited over three years for a successful strategy. And I'm not giving up on it prematurely. I am not reducing further unless you are convinced that we should reduce further.

This is Lincoln (the resolve) and Grant (the clarity) rolled into one. The author, the recipient, and the intermediary deserve the nation's gratitude. Tuesday, September 09, 2008


By Paul Mirengoff

Throughout this political season, Barack Obama has touted his time as "a community organizer" in Chicago. Doing so served two purposes. First, it was a wonderful buzz phrase during the Democratic primary because, to the liberal ear, “community organizer” sounds romantically radical in a respectable sort of way. Second, once he made it to the general election, Obama shifted focus, bragging that he had "turned down Wall Street" to serve the community, and spinning that service away from its radical roots (see below) in the direction of helping laid off workers. In this way, the radical content was drained, our economic problems were saluted, and the narrative became selflessness on behalf of the working man.

During the Republican convention several speakers, notably Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin, countered by ridiculing Obama's role as a community organizer. Their approach was to question whether there was any substance to the job. This approach worked because, outside of the radical context that Obama had stripped away, a community organizer can be almost anything (e.g., an organizer of square dances), and because Obama had made such a big deal out this seemingly nebulous job.

Politically, the Republicans played it right. Almost nothing in politics beats deftly handled ridicule. And once suitably belittled, the community organizer persona is hardly a match for shooting a moose and being a hockey mom, never mind being tortured.

But the more intellectually legitimate (and telling) critique centers on the radical nature of the community organizer role Obama took on. In the neighborhoods of Chicago, there’s nothing nebulous about this job. In that context, “community organizer” has a very specific meaning, one set forth almost 40 years ago by the Marxist agitator Saul Alinsky in a work called “Rules for Radicals.”

In his book about Obama, David Fredosso connects the dots between Alinsky, who died in 1972, and Obama. A friend of Alinsky’s, Jerry Kellman recruited Obama into community organizing. Kellman spoke at the Democratic convention. As a community organizer, Obama studied the principles set forth by Alinsky in “Rules for Radicals.” In essence, Alinsky preached that class hatred, which had worked so well in radicalizing the European working class, was not well-suited for the U.S. The idea, therefore, was to create and fuel resentment in more subtle ways based on specific local grievances presented in less overtly ideological terms. Alinsky, who sought to dress up the revolution in suits and ties, wanted to use the idioms, legends, and anecdotes of the masses, rather than relying on a foreign ideology.

Alinsky’s influence on Obama is most plainly demonstrated by a key quotation from “Rules for Radicals,” in which the old lefty explained why the European model for radicalization won’t work with the masses in the U.S.:

Seeking some meaning in life, they turn to an extreme chauvinism and become defenders of the 'American faith'....Insecure in this fast-changing world they cling to illusory fixed points....The 'silent majority', now, are hurt, bitter, suspicious, feeling rejected and at bay.

Obama, of course, said virtually the same thing in his famous comment about how bitter people in small towns "cling to their guns and religion." I’ve also read, though I haven’t confirmed, that Michelle Obama borrowed a quote from Alinsky in her speech to the convention. (Hillary Clinton too was influenced by Alinsky and, in fact, wrote her college thesis about him).

Barack Obama’s supporters have not been amused by the fun Giuliani and Palin had with the candidate’s time as a community organizer. But in a sense, Obama got off easy. Tuesday, September 08, 2008




By Chip Bok

Political Cartoon by Chip Bok




By Charles Johnson 

FactCheck.org looks into some of the numerous smears being circulated about Sarah Palin: FactCheck.org: Sliming Palin.

We’ve been flooded for the past few days with queries about dubious Internet postings and mass e-mail messages making claims about McCain’s running mate, Gov. Palin. We find that many are completely false, or misleading.

  • Palin did not cut funding for special needs education in Alaska by 62 percent. She didn’t cut it at all. In fact, she tripled per-pupil funding over just three years.
  • She did not demand that books be banned from the Wasilla library. Some of the books on a widely circulated list were not even in print at the time. The librarian has said Palin asked a “What if?” question, but the librarian continued in her job through most of Palin’s first term.
  • She was never a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, a group that wants Alaskans to vote on whether they wish to secede from the United States. She’s been registered as a Republican since May 1982.
  • Palin never endorsed or supported Pat Buchanan for president. She once wore a Buchanan button as a “courtesy” when he visited Wasilla, but shortly afterward she was appointed to co-chair of the campaign of Steve Forbes in the state.
  • Palin has not pushed for teaching creationism in Alaska’s schools. She has said that students should be allowed to “debate both sides” of the evolution question, but she also said creationism “doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum.”


By Charles Johnson

Former Weather Underground terrorist and long-time Barack Obama associate William Ayers has posted a cartoon at his blog, trying to explain away his statement that he feels he “didn’t do enough” during his tenure as a violent radical.

Here it is; pay particular attention to the last sentence: “I don’t think violent resistance is necessarily the answer...”

Maybe Ayers would also like to explain this statement that he made during the “Days of Rage” riots:

“We’re not urging anyone to shoot from a crowd. But we’re also going to make it clear that when a pig gets iced, that’s a good thing, and that everyone who considers himself a revolutionary should be armed, should own a gun, should have a gun in his home.”

Source: Rolling Stone, September 30, 1982

UPDATE at 9/9/08 9:18:46 am:

Also see: The Weathermen tried to kill my family.

In February 1970, my father, a New York State Supreme Court justice, was presiding over the trial of the so-called “Panther 21,” members of the Black Panther Party indicted in a plot to bomb New York landmarks and department stores. Early on the morning of February 21, as my family slept, three gasoline-filled firebombs exploded at our home on the northern tip of Manhattan, two at the front door and the third tucked neatly under the gas tank of the family car. (Today, of course, we’d call that a car bomb.) A neighbor heard the first two blasts and, with the remains of a snowman I had built a few days earlier, managed to douse the flames beneath the car. That was an act whose courage I fully appreciated only as an adult, an act that doubtless saved multiple lives that night.

I still recall, as though it were a dream, thinking that someone was lifting and dropping my bed as the explosions jolted me awake, and I remember my mother’s pulling me from the tangle of sheets and running to the kitchen where my father stood. Through the large windows overlooking the yard, all we could see was the bright glow of flames below. We didn’t leave our burning house for fear of who might be waiting outside. The same night, bombs were thrown at a police car in Manhattan and two military recruiting stations in Brooklyn. Sunlight, the next morning, revealed three sentences of blood-red graffiti on our sidewalk: FREE THE PANTHER 21; THE VIET CONG HAVE WON; KILL THE PIGS.

For the next 18 months, I went to school in an unmarked police car. My mother, a schoolteacher, had plainclothes detectives waiting in the faculty lounge all day. My brother saved a few bucks because he didn’t have to rent a limo for the senior prom: the NYPD did the driving. We all made the best of the odd new life that had been thrust upon us, but for years, the sound of a fire truck’s siren made my stomach knot and my heart race. In many ways, the enormity of the attempt to kill my entire family didn’t fully hit me until years later, when, a father myself, I was tucking my own nine-year-old John Murtagh into bed.

(Hat tip: jill e.)

UPDATE at 9/9/08 9:40:11 am:

Zombie points out another fact that’s rather inconvenient for Ayers’ claim that his bombings were intended to “resist” the war in Vietnam: the majority of their attacks occurred after the US had already pulled out of VietnamTuesday, September 09, 2008




By Nick Grace

Leaders of Shabaab, the Young Mujahideen Movement in Somalia, stated Friday that the group is preparing for the establishment of an Islamic Emirate and that an announcement is expected within days. The statement came as the group consolidated power in the Lower Juba region, which borders Kenya, and formed a sharia-based administration in Kismayo.

Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, who is also known as Abu Mansur, and top leader Sheikh Fuad Mohamed Qalaf told a Paltalk forum organized by the radical al Qimmah Forum that fighters "are close to uniting their ranks" and would integrate under the rule of the Islamic Emirate of Somalia. They said that the formation of the emirate is "imminent" and that an announcement would be made "very soon."

Shabaab also announced on its official Web site that it set up an administration in Kismayo, Lower Juba's strategic port city. The seven-seat administration will be governed by Sheikh Abubakar Al Zeylici with three seats provided to Shabaab, three seats to the Islamic Courts, and a single seat to clan elders. Shabaab will control the offices of the District Commissioner, Information Secretary and Police Chief, while the Islamic Courts will control the offices of Finance Secretary, Head of Islamic Protocol and Chief Justice, Garowe Online reported.

Although Kismayo remains calm, elders and Islamic Courts commanders who were not included in the administration voiced criticism. "Shabaab appointed its people to top posts without inviting other local people and the ICU that played a military role in taking over Kismayo," Courts commander Sheikh Ibrahim Shukri, who is also known as Abu Seynab, told AFP today. The process, he said, was "hijacked by elements who met in a small room."

"The administration should include the local clans," he told Garowe Online. It is only "composed of al Shabaab and some former members of the Islamic Courts."

According to the Somaliweyn Media Center, the administration in Kismayo will be broken down as follows:

Provincial Commissioner: Sheikh Abubakar Al Zeylici (Shabaab)
Deputy Commissioner: Abdulqani Mohamed Yussuf (Shabaab)
Head of Security: Abdurahman Ali Ahmed (Shabaab)
Deputy Head of Security: Mohamed Sahal Eidle (Shabaab)
Finance Secretary: Abdiweli Adan Dheriyow (Islamic Courts)
Deputy Finance Secretary: Abraham Ahmed Isse (Islamic Courts)
Head of Islamic Protocol: Khalid Mohamed Adan (Islamic Courts)
Deputy Head of Islamic Protocol: Adurahman Ahmed Adan (Islamic Courts)
Information Secretary: Sheikh Hassan Yacqub Ali (Shabaab)
Deputy Information Secretary: Abdifath Abraham Ali (Shabaab)

It is unknown what position within the administration will be provided to the clan representative.

The administration, according to rebel communiqués, was formed after weeks of deliberations between Shabaab fighters and clan elders after Kismayo fell to Shabaab on August 22. Elders of four influential clans in Juba - the Beesha Sade, Beesha Gaaljecel, Cawromale, and Sheekhaal clans - pledged an oath of bayat to Islamist leaders on Friday and promised both financial and military assistance.

A breakthrough took place over the weekend when a high-level delegation from the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) traveled from Asmara, Eritrea to Kismayo to negotiate with Islamist warlord Hassan Abdullah Hersi al Turki, whose militia controls Ras Kamboni. They delivered a personal message to al Turki from Islamist leader Hassan Dahir Aweys, according to multiple Somali press accounts, and brought supplies for Kismayo hospital. Aweys was designated by the US as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224 in 2001 and has close links to senior al Qaeda leaders.

Shortly after the meeting, Shabaab announced that al Turki rejected support for ARS and declared his alliance to Shabaab. It is believed that Aweys - looking ahead to the establishment of the Islamic Emirate - instructed al Turki to formally distance himself from ARS and its peace negotiations with the secular Transitional Federal Government (TFG) based in Baidoa and Mogadishu. Although the ARS and Shabaab ultimately share the same goal there remain differences over process. Al Turki was designated by the US as a financier of terrorism under Executive Order 13224 in June 2004 and was recently targeted by US AC-130 gunship attacks in March 2008.

"These developments are extremely serious," a source close to the TFG told The Long War Journal. "This will invite more money, weapons and fighters to come to Somalia. We have lost Lower Juba to al Qaeda. It is becoming a mini-Waziristan in East Africa," the source said referring to the lawless, Taliban and al Qaeda controlled tribal agency in Pakistan.

Shabaab, which has formally reached out to al Qaeda with a request for full integration into the terror network, has also stepped up attacks on Mogadishu. The attacks are part of "Operation No Peace Without Islam," Shabaab spokesman said last week, and will continue through the holy month of Ramadan. Tuesday, September 08, 2008


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