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FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, October 20, 2008


By John Hinderaker

Yesterday's Washington Post reported that on September 10, four of al Qaeda's five principal web sites went dark. They have been disabled ever since.

The result has been a crippling of al Qaeda's ability to communicate with, and direct the activities of, its members and adherents around the world. Al Qaeda's already-low ability to carry out attacks in the West has been degraded even further.

Barack Obama likes to say that al Qaeda is stronger than at any time since before September 11, but that is silly. In fact, the Bush administration's devastation of al Qaeda's organization has been one of its most notable successes, even if it is one that voters are in no mood to acknowledge. Which does not mean, of course, that radical Islam does not remain a serious problem.


By Paul Mirengoff

Germany's ambassador to Iran, Herbert Honsowitz, has told the Iranian government not to worry about Berlin's announcement that it will reduce trade with Iran. Honsowitz noted that German companies have utilized the United Arab Emirates as a middleman for more than $4 billion in trade. He added: "At present time the Economic Affairs Section of the German Embassy is working on taking the necessary measures to preserve and improve economic relations between the private sector in Germany and Iran."

Last month, Honsowitz was summoned to Berlin to explain why the German military attache attended Iran's annual military parade. At that parade, as would be expected, President Ahmadinejad promised to "break the hands" of invaders, amid banners that read "Israel should be eradicated from the universe" and shouts of "Down with Israel" and "We will crush America under our feet." The Wall Street Journal dryly observed that it had been a while since German military officers attended rallies that feature threats to Jews.

To make matters worse, the man who summoned Honsowitz to Berlin, German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, supported an anti-Israel conference in Germany not long ago. During that conference, Iran's former deputy minister of foreign Affairs stated that "the Zionist project" should be "cancelled" because it "has failed miserably and has only caused terrible damage to the region." Steinmeier had already been criticized by supporters of Israel for being too sympathetic to Iran. Thus, while German officials may miss future Iranian military parades, Honsowitz's assurances to Iran, coming not long after his confab with Steinmeier in Berlin, is strong evidence that Germany has no intention of taking serious measures to deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

As Michael Rubin argues, Germany's posture is "a shining example of why multilateralism does not work and why diplomacy will not be enough to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions." It's an example George Bush should ponder in the last months of his presidency, but one I doubt he will.


By John Hinderaker

Sarah Palin's appearance on Saturday Night LIve last night gave the show its highest ratings in fourteen years. It's more evidence of the extraordinary level of interest in Alaska's governor. On the campaign trail, she has repeatedly drawn crowds numbering in the tens of thousands, while her mere existence seems to be an affront to liberals everywhere.

What is it about Palin that draws such attention? She's new and exotic. Alaska is a genuinely fascinating place. She's really good looking--poor Tina Fey came off much the worse last night. Palin exudes a certain self-confidence; it was obvious that she is not much impressed, let alone intimidated, by a bunch of entertainers. Not that she should be; she is the most popular governor in America, while they are...celebrities. But, for whatever reason, not all politicians treat entertainers with the same easy confidence.

It's a subject for another day. I don't think the popular fascination with Sarah Palin, pro and con, has yet been explained satisfactorily.  Sunday, October 19, 2008




By Charles Johnson

In December 1997, Barack Obama gave William Ayers’ book on juvenile criminals a rave review.

Saturday, October 18, 2008




By Robert Arial

Political Cartoons by Robert Arial




By Ed Morrissey

Jodi Kantor apparently got so desperate for dirt on Cindy McCain for the tiresome rehash the New York Times published today that she tried suckering teenagers on Facebook into cooperating with her.  The McCain campaign released the contents of an e-mail Kantor sent to one of Bridget McCain’s 16-year-old classmates through the social-networking site.  Is this what “political correspondents” do?:

I saw on facebook that you went to Xavier, and if you don’t mind, I’d love to ask you some advice about a story. I’m a reporter at the New York Times, writing a profile of Cindy McCain, and we are trying to get a sense of what she is like as a mother. So I’m reaching out to fellow parents at her kids’ schools. My understanding is that some of her older kids went to Brophy/Xavier, but I’m trying to figure out what school her 16 year old daughter Bridget attends– and a few people said it was PCDS. Do you know if that’s right? Again, we’re not really reporting on the kids, just seeking some fellow parents who can talk about what Mrs. McCain is like.

Also, if you know anyone else who I should talk to– basically anyone who has encountered Mrs. McCain and might be able to share impressions– that would be great.

Thanks so much for any help you can give me.

Jodi Kantor
Political correspondent
New York Times

This isn’t a message from a political correspondent.  It’s an attempt by a gossip-rag muckraker to get teenagers to dish dirt on a celebrity.  What does this have to do with politics? Quite frankly, the idea that the parents of Bridget’s classmates having anything pertinent to say about Mrs. McCain strikes me as prima facie evidence that the New York Times is desperate to derail John McCain in any manner possible.

Kantor’s piece is more evidence of that.  She makes reference to Cindy McCain supporting her husband when the NYT reported that McCain had to be separated from Vicki Iseman because of allegations of an affair.  That story was trash when the Times wrote it, and it’s particularly reprehensible for the Times to resurrect it now, without any reference to the avalanche of criticism they received for running that hit piece on the word of two disgruntled former staffers that wouldn’t identify themselves.

The New York Times long ago transformed itself into an advocacy organization for Barack Obama.  Trolling for dirt on Facebook among teenagers for hit pieces on a candidate’s spouse hits a new low.  Does the National Enquirer even do that?  Sunday, October 19, 2008




By John Cole

Political Cartoons by John Cole




By Charles Johnson

Once in a while the Associated Press can still surprise you with good reporting. Here’s an uncharacteristically honest and forthright assessment of the rise of militant Islam in the Middle East; what surprised me the most about this article is that AP writer Paul Schemm doesn’t try to blame it on the Iraq War, or Islamophobia, or ... [fill in the blank]: Ultraconservative Islam on rise in Mideast.

Sure, they label it “ultraconservative Islam,” but at least that’s arguably correct. It’s certainly not “liberal.”

Critics worry that the rise of Salafists in Egypt, as well as in other Arab countries such as Jordan and Lebanon, will crowd out the more liberal and tolerant version of Islam long practiced there. They also warn that the doctrine is only a few shades away from that of violent groups like al-Qaida—that it effectively preaches “Yes to jihad, just not now.”

In the broad spectrum of Islamic thought, Salafism is on the extreme conservative end. Saudi Arabia’s puritanical Wahhabi interpretation is considered its forerunner, and Saudi preachers on satellite TV and the Internet have been key to its Salafism’s spread.

Salafist groups are gaining in numbers and influence across the Middle East. In Jordan, a Salafist was chosen as head of the old-guard opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood. In Kuwait, Salafists were elected to parliament and are leading the resistance to any change they believe threatens traditional Islamic values.

The gains for Salafists are part of a trend of turning back to conservatism and religion after nationalism and democratic reform failed to fulfill promises to improve people’s lives. Egypt has been at the forefront of change in both directions, toward liberalization in the 1950s and ‘60s and back to conservatism more recently. ...

In most of the region, Salafism has been a purely social movement calling for an ultraconservative lifestyle. Most Salafis shun politics—in fact, many argue that Islamic parties like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinians’ Hamas are too willing to compromise their religion for political gain.

Its preachers often glorify martyrdom and jihad—or holy war—but always with the caveat that Muslims should not launch jihad until their leaders call for it. The idea is that the decision to overturn the political order is up to God, not the average citizen.

But critics warn that Salafis could easily slide into violence.

Ya think?  Sunday, October 19, 2008




By Ed Morrissey

Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama today on NBC’s Meet the Press.  The endorsement had been rumored for months, as Powell has made no secret of his disaffection from the Republicans since his retirement as Secretary of State. It gives Barack Obama much needed support on questions of foreign policy and military affairs in a period of time when people may question whether to trust a man with no experience at either.  But did Powell miss the window?

After months of hints and speculation, former Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama this morning, a huge vote of confidence in the Illinois Democrat with just 16 days left before the November election.

“He has both style and substance,” Powell said of Obama on NBC’s “Meet the Press”. “I think he is a transformational figure.”

As we wrote on Friday, the Powell endorsement carries huge symbolic importance — not only is he a former high-ranking member of President Bush’s Cabinet but he also was the most visible face in making the case for the war against Iraq.

Powell’s endorsement complicates any attempt by John McCain and others within the Republican Party to cast Obama as naive on world affairs and unready to lead in a dangerous time. Obama now has a ready retort: “Well, Colin Powell seems to trust my judgment; that’s why he endorsed me.”

I’m not going to impugn Powell’s motives here. He served his country honorably in every task assigned to him, and he’s earned the right to participate in the political process. Unlike endorsers like Christopher Buckley, Douglas Kmiec, or Michael Smerconish, Powell has never publicly identified himself as a conservative activist. He’s mostly stayed within the military and foreign-policy realm and could easily have served as Secretary of State in a Clinton administration as much as in a Bush administration. This doesn’t represent any hypocritical apostasy, and it doesn’t come as much of a surprise, either.

However, I don’t think this will have the same impact it may have had in the summer, for two reasons. First, I think most people expected Powell to endorse Obama, and most of us expected it at the Democratic convention. Powell hasn’t hidden his disdain for his former colleagues well, especially while his closest aide Richard Armitage spent most of his time ripping them. Coming as it does now, it may impact some voters who still feel uncomfortable with Obama’s lack of experience. Otherwise, I don’t think anyone likely to be swayed by this endorsement didn’t already factor it into their thinking.

In August, Obama could have used this when he fumbled the Russo-Georgian conflict. Now, though, foreign policy has dropped to the second tier for most voters. They’re more interested in economic issues, and I think Joe the Plumber has more resonance than Colin Powell at this point in the election. Powell, who has no experience in economic issues and has never spoken out on them, simply doesn’t figure into those concerns.

Powell’s endorsement still gives Obama a boost and certainly some gravitas. Does it really change the ground in this election? I’m skeptical. McCain needs to hammer on these economic themes to make Powell’s endorsement less relevant over the last two weeks.  Sunday, October 19, 2008




By Eric Allie

Political Cartoon by Eric Allie



Map of the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. The government signed peace agreements in the red agencies/ districts (the military said Shangla was under Taliban control in October); purple districts are under de facto Taliban control; yellow regions are under Taliban influence.

A little over one week after the military said it would not conduct operations in North and South Waziristan, the provincial government cut new peace agreements with Taliban leaders in the lawless tribal agencies.

Peace agreements have been signed with Hafiz Gul Bahadar in North Waziristan and Mullah Nazir in South Waziristan. Bahadar controls a significant Taliban force in the Miramshah region, while Nazir controls Taliban forces in the western regions in South Waziristan.

The deals were crafted by Owais Ghani, the governor of the Northwest Frontier Province. Nazir and Bahadar agreed to stop fighting the Pakistani military and said they would permit tribesmen to "provide shelter to foreigners," a clear reference to al Qaeda.

"We will not fight the Pakistani forces because by doing so we will be helping the Americans in Afghanistan," Bahadar said in a press statement issued by a Taliban spokesman. "We will not let the deal collapse," Bahadar said, referring to an agreement signed with the military in February.

The agreements directly contradict with the government's conditions for negotiations. The Taliban are required to "to surrender arms unconditionally" and "appear before [the] political administration," Daily Times reported.

Nazir and Bahadar have not surrendered their weapons, nor have they appeared before the tribal political administration.

The Taliban have blatantly violated similar peace agreements in the past. The Taliban have refused to lay down their weapons and continue to shelter al Qaeda operatives in the tribal regions. The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terrorist groups have established 157 training camps and more than 400 support locations in the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province, US intelligence officials have told The Long War Journal.

Operation in the Waziristans was never in the cards

While fighting has been intense in Swat and Bajaur, the military signaled it had no intentions of taking on the Taliban in North and South Waziristan. On Oct. 8, a senior general reassured "Utmanzai tribal militants" -- Bahadar's tribe -- that no operation was planned. Negotiations were also opened with Nazir in South Waziristan.

While Bahadar and Nazir are often described as "pro-government" Taliban leaders as they oppose fighting the Pakistani military and overthrowing the government, both men have extensive ties to al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.

Bahadar and Nazir's forces fight against Afghan and Coalition forces inside Afghanistan. Al Qaeda, in conjunction with Bahadar and Nazir, run terror camps inside their tribal areas. The US has been conducting strikes in Nazir and Bahadar's tribal regions; the majority of the attacks have occurred in their areas.

On Oct. 16, Bahadar threatened to attack US forces in Afghanistan iattacks in his tribal regions were not halted.

Bahadar was one of the signatories of the Feb. 17 peace agreement that ended clashes in the region. He also signed the Sept. 2006 North Waziristan Accord, along with other senior Taliban leaders. Bahadar has opposed fighting the Pakistani military but sponsors al Qaeda camps and sends fighters into Afghanistan.

Nazir is a rival to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. He ejected Uzbeks from the al Qaeda-allied Islamic Jihad Union from the Wana region in 2007.

But Nazir openly supports al Qaeda and its leadership and admitted he would provide shelter to senior al Qaeda leaders. "How can I say no to any request from Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar under tribal traditions, if they approach me to get shelter?" Nazir asked the Pakistani press in the spring of 2007. Arab al Qaeda operatives help finance Nazir’s operations.  October 18, 2008




By Charles Johnson

The Sun, as you’ve never seen it before.


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