Two Democrats on the panel, Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton and former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, left the session about an hour early. Hamilton, a former congressman from Indiana, was said to have had a prior commitment to introduce visiting Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin at a lunch.
A recent NewsDay editorial made some good points about United Nations' special envoy in Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi: Undiplomatic diplomat.
Interviewed on French radio Wednesday about Israel's unilateral policy of disengagement and Bush's support of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's moves, Brahimi said, "there is no doubt that the great poison in the region is this Israeli policy of domination and the suffering imposed on the Palestinians, as well as ... the equally unjust support of the United States for this policy."[...]
In his ABC interview, Brahimi also predicted that the U.S. sieges of Fallujah and Najaf would end badly if military force were used. In these tense standoffs, Brahimi said, "there is no military solution." Then he went on to say, "There is never any military solution to any problem." [...]
One of the biggest obstacles to a transition in Iraq is the ferocity of the insurgency. U.S. forces must guarantee some security to the people of Iraq. That means a defeat of the insurgency. You can't do that without military force. Brahimi should know that, unless he is simply playing to anti-American Arab biases.
Being from the U.N., Brahimi's attitude shouldn't come as a surprise. But what is very disappointing is this fact:
President George W. Bush has put his trust in the Algerian diplomat's reputation as a fair negotiator.
The Spirit of America blogosphere fund-raising challenge has been extended by one day, which means it will end at midnight Thursday, April 29. [Update: That's Pacific Standard Time.]
In an effort to reach the goal of $50,000.00, the blogger factions are joining forces. As of this posting, the total on the results page was $43,577.83. The goal is within reach. Lt. Smash has a round-up of auctions. Remember: you don't have to bid in auctions to donate.
We are proud to note that the "Futures" cartoon original art raised $2,004.00, and that Cox & Forkum auction proceeds totaled $2,454.00. A special thank you to auction winners Joey, PJ and Alan; we applaud them for their donations. But that total does not include donations that we know were made by readers who did not win an auction -- thank you as well.
As I said once before, we are overwhelmed by and deeply grateful for the response by you readers. Thanks to everyone who participated. All of you deserve credit for your willingness to support the Marines.
We are honored to have such a fine audience.
UPDATE: At 8am CST the grand total was $45,068.83 and climbing.
UPDATE II: At 10:30pm CST the grand total was $49,681.83.
UPDATE III -- April 30: At this moment the results page hasn't changed, but a survey of participating blogs indicates that money still being received will easily top the $50,000.00. Thanks again to everyone who participated.
The Wall Street Journal has an editorial on Spirit of America concerning yesterday's press event about the shipment of TV equipment to Iraq: A Good Start On Iraq Homefront. See photos of the event here. This shows that donations are quickly being put to use for their stated purposes. Our best wishes and gratitude go out to all the Marines and other servicemen and women trying to make Iraq, Afghanistan and ultimately America safe from terrorists.
Okay, we're in the final stretch for the Spirit of America blogosphere fundraising challenge. Earlier today we added items to our first two auction lots (scroll down and read the Updates). And just to keep things interesting, we're now introducing one final lot. The catch is a short bidding period, which ends today at 1:30pm CST.
This lot includes one "Branded Donkey" T-shirt (Size L) and one "Branded Donkey" Coffee Mug. What makes this lot somewhat special is that the Coffee Mug is a sold-out item, and we're not aware of any plans to produce them again.
Except for the earlier ending time, the same rules apply: The highest bidder in the comments section for this post -- by 1:30pm CST today -- will receive the T-shirt and Mug. After the auction ends, the winning bid amount must be donated to Spirit of America via Liberty Alliance. There's no minimum opening bid. Bidding is open to everyone.
Thoughts On 'Spirit of America'
At this very moment, Marines are battling insurgents in Fallujah. A Wall Street Journal editorial on the politics holding back the Marines noted: "There's no doubt Marines could retake the city by force, but the fear is that al-Jazeera and other anti-American media would portray the campaign in the worst possible light and perhaps prompt uprisings elsewhere in Iraq."
US Marines seek to equip seven (7) television stations serving local communities within Al Anbar Province, Iraq. The Province includes the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. These stations will offer information that is more accurate and balanced than existing alternatives. The goal is to improve understanding between Americans and Iraqis, build trust and reduce tensions.
Current TV news in Iraq often carries negative, highly-biased accounts of the U.S. presence. Unanswered, its effect is to stoke resentment and encourage conflict. The Marines seek to ensure the Iraqi people have access to better, more balanced information. By equipping local television stations and providing the ability to generate news and programming, the Marines will create a viable news alternative -- one owned and operated by local Iraqi citizens.
This is why John and I are supporting Spirit of America. We see helping the Marines to win as being in our best long-term interests. If you do, too, consider making a donation to Spirit of America via Liberty Alliance whether you bid on an item or not.
UPDATE: Speaking of Marines and Fallujah, be sure to read this article demonstrating the skill and dedication of some of our soldiers: In Iraq city, Marine snipers have become significant tactic. (Hat tip Quent Cordair via HBL)
BIDDING IS CLOSED FOR THIS ITEM.
Congratulations to Tomorrowist!
Regarding the controversy over whether or not John Kerry threw away his medals or just the ribbons and what he said he threw, ABC News reports: Discarded Decorations: Videotape Contradicts John Kerry's Own Statements Over Vietnam Medals. (Via Drudge Report)
Apparently Kerry wants to have his medals and throw them away, too.
This is yet another of Kerry's "nuanced" positions, such as "I actually did vote for [the bill] before I voted against it" and "yes, I committed atrocities" ... "the words were honest but on the other hand, they were a little bit over the top".
You know that something's amiss when the straight forward task of reconciling a man's actions with his words gets so convoluted so often.
NOTE: If you haven't yet looked at our Spirit of America auctions, be sure to scroll down. The fundraising drive ends soon, so be sure to check out auctions by other bloggers at Fighting Fusileers, Victory Coalition and our very own Liberty Alliance
There's been a very generous response to our original art auction so far, and we're very grateful to all who are participating. We decided to offer another lot: a signed copy of our book, Black & White World. The rules are the same: The highest bidder in the comments section for this post -- by Wednesday 2:00pm CST -- will receive a signed book. After the auction ends, the winning bid amount must be donated to Spirit of America via Liberty Alliance. There's no minimum opening bid. Bidding is open to everyone.
UPDATE -- LOT INCREASE!: As with our original art auction below (see Update III), we are amazed at the generous response from bidders. As a token of our appreciation, we're adding the following item to this lot:
+ One "Axis of Evil" T-shirt (Size L)
This auction ends today at 2:00pm CST.
BIDDING IS CLOSED FOR THIS ITEM.
Congratulations to PJ!
Would you like to own the original art for the cartoon above? Read below to find out how:
There is a blogosphere fund-raising challenge on for Spirit of America, an organization that raises money for Marines to use for humanitarian and public relation purposes in Iraq and Afghanistan (see the site for details). The challenge ends at 12:01am PST this Thursday, April 29. Click here to see the tally so far.
Dean Esmay invited us to make a donation via his blogger challenge group Liberty Alliance, which we did. But we also noticed that some bloggers were auctioning items to raise money, e.g., Lt. Smash's hat from Iraq. We decided to throw our hat in the ring, too.
The highest bidder in the comments section for this post -- by Wednesday 2:00pm CST -- will receive the original art for the above cartoon. After the auction ends, the winning bid amount must be donated to Spirit of America via Liberty Alliance. There's no minimum opening bid. This is the first time we've sold an original editorial cartoon.
The artwork is drawn in India ink on a 7" x 11" acid-free bristol board, and the image is approximately 6" x 9". John and I will sign it on the back. The idea for the drawing is something we had planned for Memorial Day.
Bloggers, feel free to use the image above, but please link back to this permalink to help publicize the auction.
We will post updates here if necessary.
UPDATE: To clarify a question someone had: Bidding is open to everyone, not just bloggers.
UPDATE II: I received the original artwork from John today and discovered that the first scan (from a fax) did not do his art justice. Above is the new scan, which reveals more detail and subtlety. You can compare it to the first scan here.
UPDATE III -- LOT INCREASE!: We are simply overwhelmed by the response to this auction. To show our appreciation, we're adding the following items to this lot:
This auction ends today at 2:00pm CST.
BIDDING IS CLOSED FOR THIS ITEM.
Congratulations to joey!
The New York Times reported yesterday on UNScam: Corruption Allegations at U.N. Put Annan on the Defensive.
This Commentary article by Claudia Rosett provides a good overview of the scam: The Oil-for-Food Scam: What Did Kofi Annan Know, and When Did He Know It? (via Friends of Saddam, a UNScam-dedicated blog). Highlights:
In 2000, Saddam enjoyed a blockbuster year. By this time he was not only selling vastly more oil but had institutionalized a system for pocketing cash on the side.
It worked like this. Saddam would sell at below-market prices to his hand-picked customers -- the Russians and the French were special favorites --and they could then sell the oil to third parties at a fat profit. Part of this profit they would keep, part they would kick back to Saddam as a "surcharge," paid into bank accounts outside the UN program, in violation of UN sanctions.
By means of this scam, Saddam’s regime ultimately skimmed off for itself billions of dollars in proceeds that were supposed to have been spent on relief for the Iraqi people. [...]
Unimpeded responsibility for the "humanitarian" aspect of the program fell to [UN Secretary-General Kofi] Annan. The next month, "humanitarian" became a broad category indeed. On June 2, Annan approved a newly expanded shopping list by Saddam that the Secretariat dubbed "Oil-for-Food Plus." This added ten new sectors to be funded by the program, including "labor and social affairs," "information," "justice," and "sports." Either the Secretary-General had failed to notice or he did not care that none of these had anything to do with the equitable distribution of relief. By contrast, they had everything to do with the running of Saddam’s totalitarian state. "Labor," "information," and "justice" were the realms of Baathist party patronage, propaganda, censorship, secret police, rape rooms, and mass graves. As for sports, that was the favorite arena of Saddam’s sadistic son Uday, already infamous for torturing Iraqi athletes. [...]
It is true that Oil-for-Food managed to deliver to Iraqis some portion of what it promised. On sales totaling $65 billion, some $46 billion (by Annan’s uncheckable reckoning) went for "humanitarian" spending. Of this amount, an official total of $15 billion worth of food and health supplies -- the original rationale for the program -- had been received by the time Saddam fell. The actual figure was no doubt considerably less if you factor in the kickbacks and spoiled goods; from the remainder came the equipment for Saddam’s oil monopoly, the construction materials, the TV studio systems, the carpets and air conditioners for the ministries, and all the rest.
But at what cost? Are we supposed to conclude that, in order to deliver this amount of aid, the UN had to approve Saddam’s more than $100 billion worth of largely crooked business, had to look the other way while he skimmed money, bought influence, built palaces, and stashed away billions on the side, at least some of which may now be funding terror in Iraq or beyond?
If you want to really help Iraqis, Afghans and ultimately yourself, consider donating to Spirit of America, an organization providing support to Americans serving abroad. A particularly important Spirit of America project is the effort of U.S. Marines to equip an Iraq-based TV alternative to Al Jazeera. (Thanks to Dean Esmay and Michele Catalano.)
UPDATE April 25: Michael Horesh sent us this March 2004 report on another example of U.N. support for tyranny: EU Funding of the Palestinian Authority.
Tomorrow is Earth Day. Being capitalists, we decided to exploit the occasion by advertising a product that happens to have claimed the lives of a few trees: our book, Black & White World (which can be purchased at these online retailers: Amazon.com, The Intellectual Activist and Quent Cordair Fine Art). The above cartoon is in our book, and it's not just any cartoon -- it is the first editorial cartoon John and I created.
From early on, children are told a host of environmentalism's half-truths, facts taken out of context, and outright lies, which paint man as a short-sighted, rapacious blight on the planet, and responsible for alleged catastrophic global warming, forest, animal and resource depletion, and many other non-factors.
Environmentalism puts up a façade of being for clean air and water for man's betterment, but clearly the movement is against his rational self-interest.
Tragically, this environmentalist propaganda passed off as education produces anxiety- and guilt-ridden children unable think objectively and independently to question this orthodoxy. Tragically, they will grow up not only educators themselves, teaching the same falsehoods to their students, but also politicians always eager to enforce more regulations that restrict man from using earth's resources for his survival and happiness.
For an example of how kids are frightened and guilt-tripped by environmentalists, see PeTA Kids. For more information on environmentalism, see the editorials at Environmentalism: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, in particular, On Earth Day Remember: If Environmentalism Succeeds, It Will Make Human Life Impossible by Michael S. Berliner, and The Terror of 'Animal Rights' by Alex Epstein.
The quote in the cartoon above is from a Michael Moore letter to his fans. First he asserts that the insurgents killing our soldiers are not the enemy, and then he compares the insurgents to America's revolutionary-era Minutemen. In other words, he wants us to believe that our soldiers are the oppressive, colonial enemy of freedom-fighting Iraqis. The truth is just the opposite -- it is the militant Islamists who seek to establish another dictatorship, and it is America who fought to depose the previous one. But Moore is not known for letting the facts get the way of his message. Right-Thinking.com gave the letter a thorough critique. Hopefully people will remember this quote when his next "documentary" is released. (All links via Little Green Footballs)
CNN reported yesterday: Arafat: Palestinians won't concede to Sharon's plan.
In supporting [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, Bush said Palestinian refugees should not be able to return to the lands they left in 1948 when Israel was formed, saying they must be settled in a Palestinian state instead. [...]
Bush said Sharon's plan would also remove all Israeli settlements and some military installations from Gaza, could "accelerate the process" of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by reinvigorating a peace process that has all but ground to a halt.
As with a lot of President Bush's Middle East policies lately, there's good news and bad. Good: Bush has publicly rejected a long-standing false argument that Palestinian Arabs have a "right of return" to territories lost during Arab wars against Israel. Bad: Bush still backs the creation of a Palestinian state for a population whose leadership is composed of terrorists (just this week, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was reported to have approved of the U.S. convoy attack).
Robert W. Tracinski, publisher and editor of The Intellectual Activist, recently described the plan as essentially an "Israeli retreat to a defensive posture, abandoning Gaza and parts of the West Bank to rule by terrorist gangs." So why is the new plan receiving such widespread condemnation? Tracinski writes:
"Because it was not enough of a surrender to terrorism. The Gaza pullout, in the minds of Sharon's critics, would only be valid as part of a 'negotiated settlement' in which the Palestinians are supposed to hold the 'bargaining chips' of demanding a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and demanding a 'right of return' (for refugees who fled Israel 50 years ago) that would flood Israel with hostile Muslim fanatics. The new agreement is condemned because it rejects these bargaining chips, with President Bush saying that the US will back Israel's claim to most of its settlements in the West Bank and that we will reject the 'right of return.'
"The problem for Israel is that it has made a real concession -- giving up land and military control in Gaza -- in exchange for the mere promise that the US will back the Israeli position in future negotiations. But all of those promises, of course, can be easily abandoned in the face of future pressure, demands, and threats."
Yasser Arafat not only wants all of the disputed territories but all of Israel as well. As such, Bush's stronger public backing of Israel over Arafat is welcome. But to allow Arafat's dictatorship or some variation of it to become an official state is not acceptable. After all, aren't we in a war to end terror-sponsoring states?
There were many good ideas in President Bush's statement last night. He knows the stakes: "Iraq will either be a peaceful, democratic country or it will again be a source of violence, a haven for terror and a threat to America and to the world." He knows what end needs to be achieved: "We seek an independent, free and secure Iraq. [...] We serve the cause of liberty ..." He knows that we are fighting a "fanatical political ideology" of "theocratic terror" that began attacking us long before 9/11. And he knows that we cannot back down: "America's commitment to freedom in Iraq is consistent with our ideals and required by our interests. [...] Now is the time, and Iraq is the place, in which the enemies of the civilized world are testing the will of the civilized world. We must not waver."
Bush even made this crucial point: "Over the last several decades, we've seen that any concession or retreat on our part will only embolden this enemy and invite more bloodshed. And the enemy has seen, over the last 31 months, that we will no longer live in denial or seek to appease them."
Unfortunately, the last sentence is not completely true; in some ways we are is still in denial and still seeking appeasement, and Bush's own statement attests to it.
For example, after correctly identifying the enemy as a theocratic ideology of terror, Bush denied that Islamist terror is "the work of religion."
After saying that he has cleared our military "to use decisive force if necessary to maintain order and to protect our troops," Bush stated that "coalition forces have suspended offensive operations" in Fallujah -- where four American contractors were ambushed and mutilated -- so that Iraqi leaders can communicate with the insurgents "to ensure an orderly turnover of that city to Iraqi forces." That is appeasement.
And after acknowledging that militant Islamist and murderer al-Sadr had aligned himself with the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, Bush said, "Al Sadr must answer the charges against him and disband his illegal militia." Answer the charges? Disband? Are we at war or not? Al-Sadr and his militia deserve nothing more than what Israel gave to Yassin. Bush couldn't even bring himself to openly condemn Iran and Syria for supporting the insurgents who are killing our soldiers and civilians.
In the past we've criticized the Bush Administration's "sensitive" approach to the war on terrorism (here and here) -- though lately there's been some signs of improvement. And we've criticized Bush's multilateralist tendencies (here). I wish I could say that there's been a fundamental improvement, but apparently there hasn't.
Despite the good ideas in Bush's statement, it's going to take much more than merely the abstract goal of "liberty" to succeed in Iraq. To be secured, liberty must be pursued and defended as a matter of principle. That is not what is happening. How "free and secure" will Iraq end up if we're working with the dictator-appeasing United Nations to determine Iraq's "exact form of the government"? How will Iraqis get the "strong protections for individual rights" that Bush says they want when we allow the Iraqi Governing Council to include Islamists, socialists and communists?
Two op-eds have recently explained what is necessary to succeed in the war on terror. Foremost is The Ayn Rand Institute editorial by Peter Schwartz : American Appeasement in Iraq. (Via Capitalism Magazine)
As U.S. soldiers respond to attacks in Fallujah and elsewhere in Iraq, many commentators warn that a forceful, self-assertive campaign to wipe out the militant resistance would be disastrous. Disaster may indeed be looming -- but only because of a lack of self-assertiveness by the United States. We are inviting failure in Iraq, and in our overall war on terrorism, by conducting a campaign that is hopelessly apologetic and appeasing.
The Iraqis have long produced despotism. But instead of being morally confident in our right to establish a government that is no longer a threat to anyone -- Iraqi or American -- we are deferentially asking the Iraqis for permission to proceed. Afraid to offend them, we are reluctant to defend our interests and to uphold our values. [...]
Upon ousting the governments of Germany and Japan in World War II, we did not proceed on tiptoe. We did not express regret at having to stop traffic, search homes and shoot fleeing suspects. We were morally certain -- certain that their system was wrong and ours right, certain that their system threatened us and needed to be eliminated. As a result, the enemy was eventually demoralized, allowing freedom to take root. The identical approach should be adopted now.
In postwar Japan it was Gen. Douglas MacArthur who unilaterally drafted a new constitution -- over the objections of many Japanese -- and paved the way for a radical shift from tyranny to liberty. Emulating MacArthur, by imposing upon Iraq a U.S.-written constitution that champions the principle of individual rights, including the separation of mosque and state, would be an ideal means of asserting our interests -- along with the interests of those Iraqis who genuinely value freedom. [Emphasis added]
The United States, because it is militarily powerful and humane in the way that it exercises that force, usually can pretty much do what it wishes in this war against terrorists. In every single engagement since October 2001 it has not merely defeated but obliterated jihadists in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only check on its power has been self induced: out of a misplaced sense of clemency it has often ceased prematurely the punishment it has inflicted on enemies -- at Tora Bora, in the Sunni Triangle, during the looting of Baghdad, and now perhaps at Fallujah -- and relented to enter into peace parleys, reconciliation, and reconstruction too early.
This understandable restraint allowed defeated terrorists to believe that either out of fear of world opinion or too sensitive to domestic discord we were hesitant to dispatch them to their promised paradise. But there is a law and a way to war over the ages that are unfortunately immutable, given that human nature is constant across time and space: namely that peace follows only from the defeat and humiliation of the culpable, not from magnanimity granted to impotent but still proud enemies. [...]
If we are going to win this war, we should begin right now to notify Syria and Iran that their incessant support to terrorists in Iraq will soon be met with a systematic air campaign whose intensity will be predicated on their own behavior. We need not necessarily invade either country, but simply ever so incrementally begin to attrite their conventional military assets, the pulse of the bombing carefully calibrated to the flow of jihadists and material into Iraq from their soil. We need to publicly show the world the tangible proof -- captured soldiers, supplies, IDs from slain warriors, communications intercepts -- of Syrian and Iranian activity, and then begin to take out their instillations. Again, each time we struck back resolutely and unexpectedly in Afghanistan and Iraq we were successful; and each time we wavered, promised to be sober and restrained, our enemies simply harvested more Americans. [...]
Apparently someone in the present administration thinks by waging war-Lite that it can split the difference with Mr. Kerry and win the election. That is fallacious in terms of military strategy, politics, and morality. We can defeat our enemies only by articulating what we stand for and why we are going to win the war. We have the force and imagination to succeed on the battlefield and the American people will accept sacrifices for victory. But they will -- and should -- turn on any leader who doesn't fight to win and thereby ensures that we will all pay a far higher price for defeat than we would have for victory. [Emphasis added]
President Bush is correct when he says that liberty is a just cause in the Middle East, for our sake and theirs. But in the vacuum of deposed dictatorships, liberty doesn't just happen. We have to make it happen.
Message to the administration: No one in Europe or on the left is ever, ever, ever going to like you from seeing a photograph of a marine handing a bag of groceries to a woman in a burkha. Jacques Chirac is never going to say, "Well, they have built a lot of community centers. Maybe Bush was right."
Win. Stopping building schools. Win. There's plenty of time and need for hospitals, but first ... Win. Yes, yes, Iraqi girls can be very empowered by seeing a female colonel running an outreach program, and we can all chip in for the posters that say "Take Your Daughters To Mosque Day," but in the meantime, would you please win.
"Solidarity With The Insurgents of Fallujah!" ... "Support Armed Resistance in Iraq & Everywhere!" ... "Avenge Yassin"
These slogans and more like them appeared on protester's signs during "anti-war" demonstrations this weekend, one of which was proudly billed as the "Insurgence Solidarity March." As if we needed any, this is yet more evidence of the complete moral bankruptcy of the Left. Photos can be seen here, here, here and here (all via LGF).
NOTE: This cartoon is based on the world famous "Iwo Jima Flag Raising" photograph by Joe Rosenthal. The February 1945 battle of Iwo Jima killed 6,821 Americans, 5,931 of them Marines. (This cartoon was inspired by a suggestion from Rich Chandler.)
CNN reports: Bush: Memo had no 'actionable intelligence'. The memo contains mostly historical information, such as bin Laden's desire to retaliate for Clinton's air strikes, but there's also new information, such as the FBI's notice of "suspicious activity" related to hijacking preparation. This latter is no small thing in hindsight. But prior to 9/11 virtually no one had imagined much less planned for planes being used as missiles. And within minutes after such an attack was known to be possible, passengers of Flight 93 immediately acted to prevent the further use of planes as missiles, and died trying. Now, if everyday citizens would take such measures, does anyone really beleive that President Bush, the Commander in Chief, would not have acted to prevent 9/11 had he had any specific information?
Some members of the media seem intent on giving exactly that impression, if only with their headlines: from Reuters (Bush Was Told of Al Qaeda Hijack Activity) to The Economic Times (Bush may have known about 9/11).
If this memo is the climax of the 9/11 commission, then if nothing else it is proof that the political opponents of President Bush are much more concerned with smearing him than in truly discovering what it would take to prevent another 9/11.
UPDATE: David Horowitz on How the Left Undermined America's Security Before 9/11. (Hat tip to Michael Jaehrling via HBL)
In yesterday's testimony before the 9/11 commission, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice spoke of our "inability to connect the dots" that lead to 9/11. She blamed "legal and the bureaucratic impediments" that kept "the FBI and the CIA from functioning really as one."
Hopefully these internal dots will not be overlooked in the future. But it appears a much worse "inability to connect the dots" is still not being addressed. With a few exceptions, our government is unwilling to openly name Islamists as the enemy and fight them as a matter of principle. It began within days after the 9/11 attacks when President Bush proclaimed that Islam had been "hijacked" and "perverted" by the terrorists. A Bush advisor said, "Nothing this evil could be religious." And someone from the State Department referred to 9/11 as "an act of intolerance, which ... has, in our view, nothing to do with Islam."
More recently, our government allowed Afghanistan to adopt a ideologically mixed constitution in which Islamic law is set to undermine Western legal protections. A similar interim constitution has been adopted in Iraq where armed Islamists have been allowed to grow into the threat that our troops are fighting at this very moment.
The squabbling and finger-pointing surrounding the 9/11 commission only serve to obscure the fundamental lesson of that horrific day. Whatever errors or incompetence on the part of a particular individual or intelligence agency, what made September 11 possible was a failure of policy. Our government, whether controlled by Democrat or Republican, had for decades conducted an accommodating, range-of-the-moment, unprincipled foreign policy.
The editorial rightly criticizes President Bush's approach to the War on Terrorism, not because he has gone too far (as leftists would have us believe), but because he has not gone far enough. It argues that while the Iraq war was justifiable, leaving intact militant Islamic regimes like Iran's is not. The jihadists our troops are today fighting and dying to defeat are supported by Iran.
There have been exceptions from the Administration. In her testimony, Rice alluded to a policy shift from "tit-for-tat, tactical" responses to broader "strategic" responses after 9/11. Secretary of State Colin Powell acknowledged in his testimony that "Islamic extremists and jihadists" are the source of most terrorism (without the usual "religion of peace" qualifications). And our military recently demonstrated a willingness to attack mosques when such "sacred places" are used for military purposes by the enemy.
The Administration appears to be getting better at connecting the ideological dots, and there's no doubt the alternative this November would refuse even to see the dots, but we still have a ways to go.
AFP reports: US marines bomb Fallujah mosque.
After the insurgents holed up in the mosque struck a humvee vehicle with an RPG, lightly wounding five soldiers, the marines opted for their heavy weaponry.
First a warplane fired off guns, then a Cobra helicopter shot off a Hellfire missile at the mosque and finally an aircraft dropped a laser-guided precision bomb, Byrne said.
The roar of jets shook the city, caught in the midst of a brutal urban battle pitting the marines against the insurgents who have bled the coalition forces for months and ambushed and mutilated four US contractors last week.
Byrne said the marines carried out the raid as precisely as they could because there are people living nearby. Marines also came under RPG fire from guerrillas in a second mosque on
The head of the Marines First Division, General James Mattis, defended the attack, warning if rebels used places of worship in their war against US forces, his troops would not hesitate to strike them at sacred sites.
"If they barricade themselves inside a mosque, we are not going to care about the mosque anymore than they do," Mattis said. [Emphasis added]
News came yesterday that U.S. forces issued an arrest warrant for radical Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Last week, al-Sadr made the news for declaring that 9/11 was a miracle from God and for declaring collaboration with Palestinian terrorist groups. (Via The Command Post).
What the other news accounts left out was one significant, but well-established fact: Al-Sadr works for Iran. He is an Iranian agent. His authority comes from Iran.
Last April, an Iranian cleric, Kadhem al-Husseini al-Haeri, issued a religious edict and distributed to Shiite mullahs in Iraq, calling on them "to seize the first possible opportunity to fill the power vacuum in the administration of Iraqi cities."
The edict, or fatwa, issued April 8, 2003, showed that Shiite clerics in Iraq are receiving significant direction from Iran. The edict said that Shiite leaders have to "seize as many positions as possible to impose a fait accompli for any coming government." [...]
On April 7, the day American troops effectively toppled Hussein's government by seizing its main seats of power in Baghdad, al-Haeri sent a handwritten letter to the city of Najaf, appointing Moktada al-Sadr as his deputy in Iraq.
Haeri wrote: "We hereby inform you that Mr. Moktada al-Sadr is our deputy and representative in all fatwa affairs." It added: "His position is my position."
Almost one year ago, Farah also reported that an Iranian-trained army was in Iraq.
More on the al-Sadr/Iran connection:
SMCCDI, an Iranian student group, reports that more trained "pilgrims" to enter Iraq.
In reality these so-called [Arba-in] Pilgrims are Iranian Intelligence officers and Arab mercenaries trained, by the Islamic republic regime, with the task of creating more complication for America in its War Against Terror and to avoid the stabilization of Iraq.
The loyalty of many of [Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr] supporters has now passed to another son, Hojatoleslam Muqtada al-Sadr, a mid-level cleric about 30 years of age. Unlike his father, Muqtada has no formal religious standing to interpret the Koran, and relies for religious authority on an Iran-based Iraqi exiled cleric, Ayatollah Kazem al-Haeri.
And this from Asian News: Imam Muqtada Al-Sadr threatens to launch Intifada.
Several months ago Al-Sadr visited Iran where he was warmly received by the Ayatollah Khamenei and Hashemi Rafsanjani. According to Arab sources, Khamenei probably compared Al Sadr to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah, when wishing him luck in kicking out American forces in Iraq “like the Hezbollah did to Israel in Lebanon”.
Shiite Arabs in Iraq express relatively little support for attacks against coalition forces such as those that occurred Sunday. And while most do express confidence in religious leaders and call for them to play a role in Iraq today, most do not seek a theocracy, and very few see Iran as a model for Iraq. A nationwide poll of Iraqis conducted in February for ABCNEWS also found that very few Shiites express support for Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militia mounted the deadly attacks against the U.S.-led occupation.
It is noteworthy that not all Shiites are calling for a theocracy. However, the poll questions are worded in a way that leaves me wondering exactly what kind of government they do want. Though "Democracy" is apparently preferred over "Islamic State," the polls indicates that Shiites also overwhelming support a "a Government Mainly of Religious Leaders."
On the Iraqi front, Iran's mullahs have stepped up their campaign to increase their influence in that country. Tehran has two main objectives in Iraq: to create a client regime there and to rid itself from its Iraq-based main opposition, the Iranian Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK).
Since coming to power in 1979, the mullahs have considered Iraq the ideal springboard to export "Islamic Revolution" throughout the region. They view a pro-Tehran Iraq as a counterweight to the advancement of democracy in the Middle East. Clearly, a secular democratic Iraq would be a strategic blow to Tehran. For now, US policy makers should expect Iran to address the threat it perceives from the US in Iraq with terrorist violence.
The Tehran regime has mounted an increasingly sophisticated, multi-phased and multi-faceted campaign in Iraq.
UPDATE II: CNN reports: Coalition battling al-Sadr supporters in Najaf.
In the holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq, al-Sadr's militia was in control of government, police and spiritual sites, a coalition source said. Al-Sadr also was busing followers into Najaf from Sadr City, a Baghdad neighborhood, according to the coalition source, who said that many members of his outlawed militia, Mehdi's Army, were from surrounding provinces.
Al-Sadr -- who is wanted on murder charges in connection with the killing of a rival last year -- reportedly has taken refuge in the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf, one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines. A posting on al-Sadr's Web site said he has called for a general strike.
UPDATE III: The New York Sun featured an op-ed yesterday by Michael Rubin that does an excellent job of detailing al-Sadr's connection to Iran: The Puppet Masters. (Hat tip to Edwin)
Ignoring challenges may be diplomatically convenient, but the costs are high. Foggy Bottom has for too long sought engagement with the clerical regime in Iran. Even if evidence existed that dialogue has led to meaningful reform, the involvement of the Qods Force in Iraq shows that our track-two partners in dialogue are either insincere or cannot deliver. Iran's clerical regime poses an ideological challenge inimical to the religious freedom, gender equality, and liberty Iraqis desire.
Iran is neither a democracy nor a partner in Iraq. Wishful thinking kills Americans. The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to sponsor terrorism and just last week declared its intent to construct a nuclear reactor capable of weapons-grade plutonium production. It is time for the White House to deal with reality.
First off ... We want to thank everyone for indulging us with yesterday's April Fool's Day joke. I want to stress that it was intended to be a joke, not a hoax. Hopefully whatever credibility we had before yesterday has not be squandered for a gag. And hopefully everyone ultimately enjoyed it.
Back to important issues ... The Fallujah terrorist attack this week not only claimed the lives of four American citizens, but afterward their bodies were desecrated by a mob shouting, among other things, "Long live Islam" and "Allahu Akbar." A CNN story reports that the U.S. Army has "vowed to hunt down the perpetrators and promised to pacify the restive anti-U.S. hotbed." That sounds like a good start.
The ever-vigilant Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs is keeping track of this story. Below are some of his blog entries with news links, listed chronologically. Be sure to read Charles' commentary, particularly the Is This Going To Stand? entry. I wish his outrage was more common.
This cartoon is from November 2001 and is in our book, Black & White World.
This could be our last cartoon for a little while. Obviously it is badly drawn. That's because I drew it. John couldn't draw it, because he's in jail.
Some of you may remember a recent cartoon in which we joked about our creative licenses. Well, it's turned out to be no laughing matter. In Georgia, where John resides, the state issues both creative licenses and artistic licenses, the latter being primarily for visual works of art. In my state, we have a single Creative License to cover all works of art (verbal, written, visual, etc.), and the license is easily renewed at the same time one renews a driver's license or a conceal-carry permit. In Georgia, however, one has to renew the two different licenses on different expiration schedules. In short, it's a pain. What does this have to do with John?
John, as you all know, is an excellent caricaturist. Occasionally, for a little extra money, John works caricature gigs at conventions, parties, Bar Mitzvahs, etc. Last night John was drawing at a birthday party for a local college student. Her parents were throwing the bash at their home in a wealthy area of Atlanta called Buckhead. Swimming pool. Live band. Catering. Open bar. Normally the latter is not a problem. John is a seasoned professional. But, for reasons that remain sketchy, John decided to cut loose.
The problem apparently started (I got all this second-hand) when John drew a caricature of a Russian foreign-exchange student who was wearing a shirt that said "Bush Lied, People Died." Now, John has been working these gigs for decades. He knows how to read a subject, how far to push exaggerations like big noses and pot bellies, and how to play on-lookers for laughs. But, for some reason, perhaps the Scotch, John went for the throat. Even the band stopped playing when John screamed "TAH-DAH!" and presented a cartoon of Stalin wearing a t-shirt that said "Socialist Lie, Millions Die."
An argument ensued. Fingers pointed. Spit flew. Ink spilled. No one is sure who threw the first punch, but it turned nasty. John got a shiner, but he managed to draw a large mustache on one of his attackers. With a permanent marker. The brawl fizzled out before the police arrived, and -- probably in hopes of keeping a lid on the incident -- no charges were filed. But John didn't get off the hook completely. The cops checked his Artistic License and found it two and a half months expired. His Creative License was in order though. The last we heard, John was being stuffed in the back of a Fulton County cruiser muttering something about gorillas in tutus.
Drawing without a license is a misdemeanor offense in Georgia. I suspect his license will be suspended, but I'll find out for certain when I post bail. If I have to start a John Cox Legal Defense fund, I'll let everyone know.
Sorry for the bad drawing. Updates to follow.
UPDATE: All right, I think everything will be okay. John is out of jail and at home recuperating with the help of a coffee I.V. Fortunately his license was not suspended, but he's on six-months probation. Legally, he can start drawing cartoons immediately. But that may not happen. I faxed him the sketch above, to try to get him started again. He started saying "elephants and donkeys? Elephants and Donkeys?" over and over, gradually getting louder and louder. Then he hung up. Update to follow.
UPDATE II: John called back and said he's working on a final cartoon based on the sketch above, which I thought was good of him considering his one good eye is blurred by a hangover. Like I said, he's a seasoned professional. We appreciate all the e-mails of support. John even had an offer of safe haven in Crete (thanks, Joseph!). Cartoon to follow.
UPDATE III: John's version of the cartoon is below. I admit, it's a little better than mine. Okay a lot better. Though I think John's evening "colored" the drawing somewhat. John wanted me to to clarify a detail about the story. The guy who blackened John's eye had been arguing from a pacifist position, right up to the point of throwing the left hook, so it caught John a bit off guard. Apparently something John said converted the guy. It's safe to say that today is a date we will not soon forget. ;-)
UPDATE IV: In case there is any lingering doubt regarding the veracity of this story, John's moral character, or -- most importantly -- my ability to draw ... Happy April Fool's Day, everyone.