Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has written a letter to the American people praising them as "truth-loving and justice-seeking" and urging them to "play an instrumental role" in helping to change Bush administration policy in the Middle East. ...
In his letter, Ahmadinejad explains he is writing the American people because the two countries share similar values, including the desire "to promote and protect freedom and human dignity and integrity." ...
In his letter, Ahmadinejad -- who has called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" -- asks what the U.S. government's "blind support for the Zionists" has "brought for the American people."
"Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors?" he said, referring to Jewish people.
Citing from the Quran at the close of his letter, he says that if Americans "repent" of their "injustice," they will be blessed with many gifts. "We should all heed the divine Word of the Holy Qur'an," he says.
The context of this particular verse (28:67-28, Sura "Al-Qasas," or The Narration), is very clear. It follows a graphic description of destruction and devastation that will befall those who fail to repent of their injustice.
It also sets out the terms of the tradition Muslim warning to the enemies of Allah. "And never will your Lord destroy the towns until He sends to their mother town a Messenger reciting to them Our Verses." This is precisely what Ahmadinejad is doing in his letter.
Dump Bush, allow the Muslims to destroy Israel, and adopt Islam — or else you will be destroyed. This is Ahmadinejad's message.
The UN, of course, was the site of the most celebrated instance of Ahmadinejadization: when he addressed the General Assembly in September 2005, he said later that “one of our group told me that…he saw a green light come from around me, and I was placed inside this aura. I felt it myself. I felt that the atmosphere suddenly changed, and for those 27 or 28 minutes, all the leaders of the world did not blink. When I say they didn’t move an eyelid, I’m not exaggerating. They were looking as if a hand was holding them there, and had just opened their eyes – Alhamdulillah [thanks be to Allah]!” The leaders of the world were Ahmadinejadized.
This cartoon was originally posted on February 22, 2005, and is one of over 400 illustrations in our new book, Black & White World III, which can be purchased online through us, The Steyn Store, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.
Two British Airways jets tested positive Wednesday for low-level radioactive contamination as the probe into the apparent murder of a former KGB agent uncovered a trail leading directly from London to Moscow.
FOX News has learned that British authorities are checking into whether anyone onboard the planes are associated with the radiation poisoning death of ex-Russian spy and Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko. ...
Litvinenko, who died Nov. 23 in a London hospital, claims Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind his death.
The former spy said he believed he had been poisoned on Nov. 1, while investigating the death of another Kremlin detractor investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya. His hair fell out, his throat became swollen and his immune and nervous systems were severely damaged, he said.
From the San Francisco Chronicle: Russia -- the usual suspected assassin; Kremlin denies all, everybody shrugs.
Whether the Russian government is really behind the death of former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, 21st century Russia still looks like the kind of country that would assassinate its adversaries James Bond-style by slipping radioactive polonium-210 into their sushi.
After all, a former KGB spy holds the nation's highest office [President Vladimir Putin]. Former intelligence operatives are senior Cabinet members. The state controls virtually every media outlet. Many who, like Litvinenko, dare to criticize the government are intimidated, imprisoned or exiled. Some are murdered, their cases unsolved.
The Kremlin obstructs the work of international civil liberties watchdogs and silences domestic adversaries who criticize human rights abuses, particularly in the war-torn republic of Chechnya.
Given this record, it is not surprising that many people have been quick to pin the blame on the Kremlin, even though the Kremlin's many accusers have offered no evidence of its guilt, said Sarah Mendelson, an expert on Russia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
From CNN: Full statement by Alexander Litvinenko.
You may succeed in silencing me but that silence comes at a price. You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed.
You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilized value. You have shown yourself to be unworthy of your office, to be unworthy of the trust of civilized men and women.
You may succeed in silencing one man but the howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr. Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life.
From CNN: Black leaders: End N-word in entertainment.
Black leaders challenged the entertainment industry, including rap artists, actors and major studios, to stop the use of the racial slur that triggered the scandal involving "Seinfeld" comic actor Michael Richards.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, a civil rights leader, and others said Monday they will meet with TV networks, film companies and musicians to discuss banning the racial slur that is a derogatory term for blacks. They also sought an effort by the public to stop using the term. ...
Richards, who played the wacky neighbor Kramer on "Seinfeld," triggered outrage with a November 17 racial rant against two black men when he was heckled during a stand-up comedy routine at the Laugh Factory nightclub in West Hollywood. ...
Richards has made several apologies, including one Sunday on Jackson's syndicated radio program, in which he has said he is not a racist and was motivated by anger.
At the press conference, comedian Paul Mooney said he has used the "n-word" numerous times during stand-up performances but will no longer do so after watching Richards' rant.
"He's my Dr. Phil," the black comedian said. "He's cured me."
Asked about free-speech issues, Jackson said the word is "unprotected."
So much for the left and freedom of speech. Even the uncommon but innocuous word "niggardly" caused a bit of a controversy in 1999: D.C. aide in 'niggardly' flap will return to City Hall.
A white aide to Washington Mayor Anthony Williams who resigned after using the word "niggardly" in a conversation will be returning to city government, ending a flap over what critics derided as political correctness run amok. ...
On January 15, Howard used the word "niggardly" -- a synonym for "stingy" -- in a conversation with two aides. Eleven days later, he resigned as rumors were spreading that he had used a racial epithet. ...
But columnists and commentators pounced on the incident as yet another example of the ludicrous state of politics and race relations in Washington.
From CNN: Cheney huddles with Saudi king, heads back.
Vice President Dick Cheney is on his way back to Washington after a daylong whirlwind meeting with Saudi Arabian King Abdullah.
Cheney and King Abdullah met Saturday for several hours on issues key to both nations -- including the latest developments in Iraq, Iran's growing influence in the region, the status of Hamas in Gaza, Syria's diplomatic status, and Syria's influence in Lebanon's government, a Saudi adviser told CNN.
Saudi Arabia believes Iran is using its influence in Syria to help rearm Hezbollah in Lebanon and is undermining Lebanon's already fragile Western-backed government, said the adviser.
The brevity of Cheney's visit underlies the growing sense of urgency after a series of events highlighting an increasingly unstable Middle East.
On Tuesday, an anti-Syrian Lebanese politician, Pierre Gemayel, was assassinated in Beirut, recalling the February 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Here's the Wikipedia entry for King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday ordered 13,000 security forces to deploy near the border to enforce a cease-fire agreement with Israel, sources in Abbas' office told CNN.
The move came hours after Palestinian militants in Gaza apparently launched nearly a dozen rockets toward Israel.
Abbas also called on the Palestinian factions who previously negotiated the cease-fire to meet again to ensure the agreement holds, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told reporters Sunday.
The Israeli leader said his country will not take immediate action in the wake of the violations.
"Israel is a powerful country that can allow itself to show restraint and to give the cease-fire a chance to be fully implemented," Olmert said.
Hamas' militant wing and the Islamic Jihad militant group claimed responsibility for firing several rockets into Israel after the cease-fire took effect at 6 a.m. (11 p.m. ET Sunday).
In its leaflet, Islamic Jihad said it will "hold our right for resistance as long as Israel continues its aggression."
John and I and enjoying the holiday and hope you are, too. We'll be back Sunday with a new cartoon.
In the mean time, since it is Black Friday, we thought we'd plug our new book Black & White World III. The above cartoon is one of our gag cartoons for the Buster McNutt humor column, and it is included in the book.
SPECIAL NOTE: Not only did Mark Steyn write the introduction to our new book, but he's offering signed copies for sale online, and at a discount; just go to The Steyn Store to order. You can also buy his other books there, too, including his latest, America Alone.
At least bird flu seems to be less of a concern in the media than it was last year.
On a more serious note, Michelle Malkin has compiled a good round-up of links demonstrating why we should be thankful for free speech.
From the Scotsman: Battered Bush shows new zeal for diplomacy.
THE Bush administration has not been known for dramatic policy shifts, until last week.
For while the US President was making tentative noises that Syria and Iran might have a role to play in salvaging something from the wreckage of Iraq, the previously unthinkable was already happening.
Damascus and Tehran have been talking to senior Washington diplomats and advisers about their role in creating some kind of stability in the region.
James Baker, the former Secretary of State leading a task force of Washington's "wise men" to try to find the most palatable policy options available is acting as a proxy for the administration as it tries to persuade Iran to put pressure on Shi'ites to compromise while also pressuring Syria to use its influence with the Sunni leaders of the insurgency.
The US's new willingness to engage Iran was demonstrated when Baker recently had a three-hour dinner with Tehran's ambassador to the UN. ...
Although the US is not officially speaking with either Damascus or Tehran, Baker's talks point the way towards a future in which it is compelled to shift direction in private, even if it continues to take a hard line publicly.
Baker himself has repeatedly argued that "it is not appeasement to talk to your enemies". Even so, the remaining hawks in the administration ask what possible carrots the US can offer Syria and Iran - the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism - in return for their help in Iraq that would not themselves negate key elements of American foreign policy.
The Baker view, however, has at least one powerful ally in the administration. Robert Gates, nominated to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defence, is also in favour of talks with Iran and Syria. Gates, who is currently serving as a member of the Iraq Study Group, will now advocate engagement from inside the administration.
From Hamilton Spectator: Democracy in Iraq out of reach for now, Kissinger says.
Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger, a frequent adviser to President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, has concluded that the United States must choose between stability and democracy in Iraq -- and that democracy, for now, is out of reach.
From San Francisco Chronicle: Pelosi's new life: politics under the microscope.
House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi received a rude reminder this past week that every move she makes will now be scrutinized, analyzed and ripped apart for meaning.
Her Democratic colleagues' rejection of her choice for majority leader made news around the globe, reinforcing the notion that what had been fodder for Capitol Hill newspapers when Democrats were in the minority, has become international news now that they are in the majority.
"She's learning exactly what Newt Gingrich learned 12 years ago,'' said Jack Pitney, a professor of political science at Claremont McKenna College outside Los Angeles and the author of several books on Congress. "Suddenly she's facing an entirely new level of scrutiny, and mistakes that would have gotten little public attention are suddenly magnified.''
Many explanations have been offered for Pelosi's awkward introduction as a speaker-to-be, from her single-minded devotion to personal alliances to her determination that ending the war in Iraq be the new majority's No. 1 priority. Some Pelosi supporters even suggest that she "won by losing,'' establishing her credentials as a loyalist willing to suffer defeat in order to stand by an ally.
Whatever the truest explanation, the nation learned much this week about the San Francisco woman who is to become the House's 52nd speaker on Jan. 3.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
After the Republican's election defeat, Bush and Cheney wore Democrat-blue ties while congratulating Democrats. Considering who Republicans elected to lead them this week, that may be as much change as we can expect.
From AP: Trent Lott wins back leadership slot.
Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, ousted from the top Senate Republican leadership job four years ago because of remarks considered racially insensitive, won election to the chamber's No. 2 GOP post Wednesday.
From The Washington Times: Boehner to lead House Republicans.
Republicans Friday chose Rep. John Boehner as minority leader, succeeding Speaker Dennis Hastert in the top GOP leadership post for the Democratic-controlled House that convenes in January.
In TIA Daily, Robert Tracinski observed:
Offered new leadership by the "small government conservatives," Republicans chose instead to stick with the status quo, choosing to keep semi-small-government advocate John Boehner as their new Minority Leader, and pork-barrel-soaked Roy Blunt as their number two man. It's a disappointing failure of the Republicans to act decisively on one of the lessons they learned (but apparently not well enough) from the election.
House Democrats picked Rep. Steny Hoyer to be majority leader on Thursday, spurning Rep. Nancy Pelosi's handpicked choice moments after unanimously backing her election as speaker when Congress convenes in January.
A Marylander and 25-year veteran of Congress, Hoyer defeated Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania in a vote of 149-86.
His election to the No. 2 job came just a short time after the Democratic caucus put Pelosi in line to become the first woman to be speaker, a position which is second in line of succession to the presidency. It marked a personal triumph for Hoyer. ...
The intra-party battle had preoccupied Democrats, overshadowing Pelosi's promotion to speaker -- a position that is second in line of succession to the presidency.
Many Democrats were dismayed that the family feud had broken out in the first place and objected to heavy pressure placed on longstanding Hoyer supporters. ...
Murtha, 74, was a problematic candidate because of his penchant for trading votes for pork projects and his ties to the Abscam bribery sting in 1980, the only lawmaker involved who wasn't charged.
The race dredged up Murtha's involvement in the Abscam scandal. FBI agents pretending to represent an Arab sheik wanting to reside in the United States and seeking investment opportunities offered bribes to several lawmakers.
Hundreds of enraged farmers in southern China surrounded a granary and for nearly 24 hours held hostage dozens of officials and investors gathered inside, villagers said Thursday, in the latest sign of rural unrest in the region.
The officials and investors had gathered to mark the opening of the granary, which farmers said had been built on seized land for which they received inadequate compensation. Riot police, who arrived Wednesday evening and stood by through the night, forced their way into the granary and allowed the hostages to leave early Thursday afternoon, villagers said.
The incident, in Guangdong province's Sanzhou village, was the latest in a two-year string of such occurrences in rural China, often brought on by discontent among farmers over the seizure of fields by local officials, who then sell the land for development. The issue is particularly acute in Guangdong, where swift urban growth has put increasing pressure on farmland in the Pearl River Delta just north of Hong Kong.
The first cracks in the united front over Iraq between Tony Blair and President Bush appeared last night as the Prime Minister offered Iran and Syria the prospect of dialogue over the future of Iraq and the Middle East.
Mr Blair said there could be a new "partnership" with Iran if it stopped supporting terrorism in Iraq and gave up its nuclear ambitions. Syria and Iran could choose partnership or isolation, he said.
We're depicting Blair above as being reminiscent of another British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain. From Wikipedia:
Chamberlain is perhaps the most ill-regarded British Prime Minister of the 20th century, largely because of his policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany regarding the abandonment of Czechoslovakia to Hitler at Munich in 1938.
On returning from Munich, Chamberlain declared: "I believe it is peace in our time."
Drawing a direct analogy between Iran and Nazi Germany, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu asserted Monday that the Iranian nuclear program posed a threat not only to Israel, but to the entire western world. There was "still time," however, to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons, he said.
"It's 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs," Netanyahu told delegates to the annual United Jewish Communities General Assembly, repeating the line several times, like a chorus, during his address. "Believe him and stop him," the opposition leader said of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "This is what we must do. Everything else pales before this."
From Ynet News: Ahmadinejad: Israel's destruction near.
According to the Iranian media Monday, Iranian President Mahoud Ahmadinejad declared that Israel was destined to ‘disappearance and destruction’ at a council meeting with Iranian ministers. “The western powers created the Zionist regime in order to expand their control of the area. This regime massacres Palestinians everyday, but since this regime is against nature, we will soon witness its disappearance and destruction,” Ahmadinejad said. (AFP)
From Newsday: Dems win may help Obama more than Hillary.
The Democratic sweep in the midterm elections buoyed Hillary Rodham Clinton's chances of taking the White House in 2008, her backers say. The problem is that it may have helped Barack Obama even more.
Clinton's re-election victory in New York silenced critics who said she'd never be able to win over Republicans, independents or cultural conservatives. She racked up 67 percent of the statewide vote, triumphing in Republican-leaning Long Island burbs and upstate cities where she was soundly beaten in 2000. ...
And the Democratic victories in Ohio's Senate and governor's races sparked hopes among her supporters that front-runner Clinton can capture a state that decided the 2004 election in George W. Bush's favor.
On the other hand, Obama, an Illinois state senator two short years ago, has leveraged what was essentially a cheerleader's role this year into a national phenomenon with implications for 2008. He now runs second to Clinton in most polls.
"If Barack Obama gets into this race, he'll be a very serious candidate and he could win the nomination," said Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrat Network, which collaborated with Clinton on an affordable-housing initiative. "I love Hillary Clinton, but I'd love to see him run."
Obama has said he'll decide whether to run by early next year; Clinton hasn't set a timetable but will soon begin canvassing operatives in primary states to see if a run is feasible, according to campaign sources.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
From CBS News: Bush, Senate Dems Vow Cooperation.
Looking to put the bitterness of the campaign behind them, President Bush on Friday cozied up to the Democrats who'll be running the Senate in the new Congress, CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports.
"I assured the senators that we'll cooperate as closely as we can to solve common problems," Mr. Bush said after a 45-minute meeting with soon-to-be majority leader Harry Reid and the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin.
It was a sentiment seconded by Reid.
"The only way to move forward is with bipartisanship, openness and to get some results," Reid said. "And we've made a commitment, the four of us here today, that's what we're going to do." ...
But the bonhomie before the cameras could quickly disintegrate.
Happy Veterans Day, everyone.
John and I (that's John pictured above) are overwhelmingly busy signing and packing our books for those of you who ordered in time. Little did we know that signing hundreds of books would be easier than shipping them! Assuming we survive this, we'll be back with a new cartoon tomorrow.
And speaking of our new book, one of its features is The Ahmadinejad Code post. We couldn't include the whole post because of copyright concerns regarding other people's images, but we did include some previously unseen developmental sketches. Anyway, the entry got a mention in a World Politics Watch article about the Holocaust cartoon contest: Iran's Holocaust Cartoon Contest is Propaganda Worthy of the Third Reich by Bridget Johnson.
From the Connecticut Post: Lieberman vows to help both aisles.
Joe Lieberman, who rebelled against his own Democratic Party to win back his U.S. Senate seat as an independent, pledged Wednesday to build bridges across party lines "to get things done."
Lieberman decried as venomous the partisan assaults that have led to gridlock in Congress even as he reaffirmed his commitment to caucus with the Democrats.
"If we don't stop hating the people across the political aisle, how are we going to strengthen this country and get anything done?" Lieberman said to reporters.
Lieberman reiterated his vow to remain with the Democrats, saying a prime consideration for staying in the race was using his 18 years of seniority on Capitol Hill to help Connecticut.
Lieberman said that Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada assured him his seniority will remain intact. If Democrats take the majority, Lieberman would be in line to be chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.
With Democrats and Republicans jockeying for control of the closely divided Senate, both parties will be vying for Lieberman's vote.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
UDPATE -- Nov. 13: From a transcript of an inteview between Lieberman and Tim Russert (hat tip Peter Tebault):
MR. RUSSERT: If you look at the exit polls for Connecticut in your race, it's quite interesting. Here they are: Republicans--70 percent of Republicans voted for Lieberman; 8 percent voted for Democrat Ned Lamont and 21 percent voted for the Republican candidate Alan Schlesinger. Democrats: you got 33 percent. Lamont got 65 percent, Schlesinger—two out of three Democrats in Connecticut voted against Joe Lieberman.
SEN. LIEBERMAN: Yeah.
MR. RUSSERT: And yet you're caucusing as a Democrat.
From AP: Poll workers struggle with e-ballots.
New voting machines confounded some poll workers around the country on Election Day, and a combination of electronic glitches and human error forced some precincts to extend voting hours or switch to paper ballots.
From KMBC: ACORN Workers Indicted For Alleged Voter Fraud.
Four people have been indicted on charges of voter fraud in Kansas City, officials said Wednesday.
Investigators said questionable registration forms for new voters were collected by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a group that works to improve minority and low-income communities. ...
Federal indictments allege the four turned in false voter registration applications. Prosecutors said the indictments are part of a national investigation.
From NewsNet5: Investigation: Nearly 13,000 Dead Voters Still On Registry.
After watching the 5 On Your Side investigation on dead voters, Cuyahoga County [Ohio] prosecutor Bill Mason said he will prosecute anyone who knowingly cast a vote in the place of a dead person. ...
So-called "ghost voting" is a felony, and Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Director Michael Vu has already launched an investigation into the problem.
From Voting in Memphis: Return of the Dead Voter or Return of Incompetence? (via InstaPundit)
Pajamas Media has lots of election coverage.
From AP: Verdict: Saddam to hang.
Defiant, raging and arrogant to the end, Saddam Hussein trembled and shouted “God is great” as he was sentenced to hang.
“Long live the people and death to their enemies. Long live the glorious nation, and death to its enemies!” Saddam cried out.
Then bailiffs took the arms of Iraq’s once all-powerful leader, and the man the United States went to war to drive from power walked steadily from the courtroom with a smirk on his face.
The hawk-faced chief judge, Raouf Abdul-Rahman, sentenced Saddam to the gallows Sunday for crimes against humanity, convicting the former dictator and six subordinates for a nearly quarter-century-old case of violent suppression in this land of long memories, deep grudges and sectarian slaughter.
UPDATE -- Nov. 7: From CNN: Hussein to Iraqis: Forgive each other, reconcile.
Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, speaking in court two days after being sentenced to death for crimes against humanity, has called on Iraqis to forgive each other.
"I call on all Iraqis, Arabs and Kurds, to forgive, reconcile and shake hands," Hussein said Tuesday at his second trial, where he and six other defendants face charges related to the military Operation Anfal in the country's Kurdish region in 1988.
For some of you, voting Republican in the coming elections is an obvious choice. And though I've come to the same conclusion, it was far from obvious to me. In this unusually long post, I'll attempt to explain why.
There is presently a debate among Objectivists regarding how to vote in the midterm Congressional elections, and I've found it very informative. This is not meant to be a survey the entire debate but merely a highlighting of what I see as the most important aspects. (I urge you to read the following articles and not settle for my summaries, which may inadvertently mischaracterize the authors' views.)
Broadly speaking, some Objectivists argue for an across-board vote for Democrats with the aim of punishing Republicans for waging a losing, self-sacrificial half-battle against our enemies abroad, and for expanding the government and promoting a religious political agenda at home. In this view, the altruistic/mystical philosophy driving many Republicans is a serious threat to our freedoms, particularly in the moral vacuum created by the nihilistic left. The hope is that a Republican defeat will check the religious right's ascent to power and eventually clear the way for better candidates, such as those willing to truly fight for America's interests. The Objective Standard has a number of good articles explaining this view in detail:
Why I Will Not Vote for Any Republican by John Lewis.
Notes on the Coming Election by Craig Biddle.
The Decline and Fall of American Conservatism by C. Bradley Thompson.
"Just War Theory" vs. American Self-Defense by Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein.
Other Objectivists argue for continued but qualified support of Republicans to protect Congressional leadership positions from antiwar Democrats and in hopes that Republicans can be pressured into waging a real war. They basically agree that many Republicans (and Americans in general) are often motivated by bad philosophy but also see enough good philosophy mixed in (such as individualism and secularism) that most serious threats to our freedoms are limited. Since leftist-dominated Democrats have nothing to offer, either domestically or abroad, it is only the Republicans, despite their theocratic tendencies and open embrace of socialism, who offer any chance of defeating the enemies at war with us. Robert Tracinski at The Intellectual Activist has written a number of good articles making this case:
I sympathize with aspects of both views. But what follows are my thoughts on the matter.
I remain convinced -- because of 9/11 and what I have since learned about the threat of Islamism -- that America's most pressing need is to wage an uncompromising war against Islamic theocrats and terrorists, in particular the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In the 2004 presidential election, it was clear to me that Bush was a better option than Kerry, albeit far from ideal. Bush seemed open to the idea of confronting Iran despite critical missteps in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kerry, by contrast, talked primarily about diplomatic solutions with Iran (such as the unilateral ending of our nuclear weapons research as a good-faith measure).
Two years later, as this week's mid-term Congressional elections approach, I have lost almost all confidence in Bush's and the Republicans' abilities to wage the necessary war against Islamists. Bush has certainly had his good moments, such as identifying the importance of preemptive military action and the necessity of battling states who support terrorists, as opposed to merely taking police actions against terrorists themselves. But even these have been exposed as mostly words not principles. As regular readers of this Web site know, the list of Bush's compromises since 9/11 is appalling: advocating a Palestinian state; ignoring state sponsors of terrorism; allowing for Islamic law in Afghanistan and Iraq; not waging a war to truly defeat the enemies; avoiding shrines and sacrificing troops; blindly worshipping "democracy"; indirectly supporting the Hamas government; and pursuing diplomacy with Iran.
Bush is not waging the kind of war necessary for a lasting victory, and we are losing as a result. He is willing to fight and, unlike most Democrats, appears to recognize that the threat from Islamists requires us to fight. But, hamstrung by an apparent moral uncertainty or confusion, he is not willing to fight to win. Worse still, he often sacrificially puts our troops at risk in order to spare civilians and even the enemy. Instead of rallying Americans to fight for a clearly defined victory against an obvious threat, he urges to us "stay the course" in a "long war" that is more and more about helping Iraqis and Afghans and less and less about aggressively eliminating our enemy.
Nonetheless, the fact that we are not fighting to win does not change the fact that Islamists are.
In light of this, the Democrat alternative of withdrawal from Iraq isn't much of an alternative (and I take their talk of concentrating on Afghanistan to be an expedient, election-time attempt to appear strong on defense). A poll this weekend finds that a large majority of Americas think a Democratic victory means withdrawal from Iraq. And some of our enemies are openly stating that a withdrawal from Iraq will be a sign of victory for them, another in a long line of previous American retreats, from Lebanon to Somalia, retreats that lead the likes of Osama Bin Laden to conclude that America is a "paper tiger." A Democratic victory now, in the midst of war, would be an emboldening signal of surrender to our enemies.
This includes our most threatening Islamist enemy, Iran, a state which declared war on us at its inception and reaffirms that declaration every Friday at prayers with chants of "Death to America." And unlike America, which has shown no willingness to confront Iran, the Islamic Republic has consistently brought the fight to us. It's not only Iran's past aggressions, such as the 1979 hostage-taking and the 1983 Beirut bombing of Marine barracks. And it's not only Iran's threats to annihilate our ally Israel and even attack it outright via its proxy, Hezbollah. It's also that report after report after report after report indicates that Iran is actively involved in killing our troops today in Iraq. We're already at war with Iran whether we like it or not. The prospect of Iranian nukes only makes recognizing that fact all the more urgent.
As such, I do not see the Democrat's desire to withdraw from Iraq as an option at this time.
That said, the vote-for-Democrats strategy is nonetheless compelling, not because of what it could do for Democrats but because of what it could do to both parties. Ousting Republicans could clarify issue; since Republicans deceptively pose as being strong on national security, their defeat, and the eventual Democratic collapse when faced with war, could create an opportunity for candidates to step in who might truly act to protect our long-term national security interests. Perhaps this would happen. I don't know, but it is conceivable.
However, I do know this: The enemy is already actively waging war against us, and absent a Democrat alternative for waging the war better, a retreat in the face of that war seems to me more suicidal than half-fighting. Half-fighting itself is no doubt encouraging the enemy, so it's not much better than not fighting at all. It could even be argued that in some ways it's worse. But to the extent that half-fighting has encouraged the enemy, it has done so because it's taken as a sign of weakness. And I can think of no stronger sign of weakness than a retreat motivated by a desire to disengage from the battle.
What should be done in Iraq and the "war on terror"? Quit playing defense and go on the offensive. Fight the war we've avoided. Stop placing concern for civilians above concern for our troops. Kill the militia leaders and those willing to fight for them; disband and disarm the rest. Cut off the flow of weapons and fighters from neighboring countries. Cease all advocacy of "democracy" as a viable political solution in the Middle East -- it's not and never was (just look at the results). If possible, reclaim control of governing Iraq and Afghanistan and impose a relatively free form of government, or leave them to their own devises. And, most importantly, take the fight to the main source of Islamic totalitarianism: Iran. What would be a better example to Iraq and Afghanistan that we will not tolerate Islamist regimes?
Will Bush adopt even a few of these measure? Perhaps, but the prospects are worse than dim. Certainly the leftist-influenced Democrats will not. I'm hoping that it's still possible to influence Republicans and other Americans to begin fighting to win. However, voting for Democrats in order to hasten a change for better political alternatives could be the better strategy. I'm not yet convinced we've reached that point.
From the CNN: Kerry apologizes for 'misinterpreted' words.
Sen. John Kerry has apologized for a "poorly stated joke," which the Massachusetts senator said was aimed at the president but was widely perceived as a slam on U.S. troops.
"I sincerely regret that my words were misinterpreted to wrongly imply anything negative about those in uniform, and I personally apologize to any service member, family member or American who was offended," Kerry said in a statement Wednesday. ...
In the wake of the controversy, two Democratic Senate candidates in tight races -- John Tester in Montana and Harold Ford Jr. in Tennessee -- issued statements distancing themselves from Kerry's remarks and joining Bush's call for an apology. ...
Some Democrats in tight races who planned on appearing with Kerry changed those plans.
A Democratic official said Bob Casey, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, canceled a scheduled appearance Wednesday night with Kerry in Philadelphia. ...
In Iowa, Bruce Braley, a Democratic House candidate, also announced Kerry would not be appearing with him as planned.
Kerry's office said House campaign appearances had canceled -- by mutual decision -- so as not to "allow the Republican hate machine to use Democratic candidates as their proxies in their distorted spin war in which once again they're willing to exploit brave American troops."
But Democrats in hot campaigns were clearly wary of their former standard-bearer. When a campaign aide to Sherrod Brown, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Mike DeWine in Ohio, was asked if Kerry was scheduled to be in the Buckeye State before election day, the response was, "Oh, God no."
Not all Democrats piled on. Dean dismissed the controversy, telling reporters in Vermont, "Kerry made a blooper. Bloopers happen," according to The Associated Press.
Michelle Malkin and LGF have been following this topic closely. Many of these posts are loaded with links:
Little Green Footballs:
Kerry's "Prepared Remarks"
Kerry in '72: Volunteer Army Would Perpetuate "War Crimes"
Kerry Excuse Number 4
Kerry's Full Statement
Inevitable Lame Pseudo-Apology Sighted
A Message to John Kerry from Iraq
Also: Massachusetts’ botched joke by Jules Crittenden.
This cartoon is partly based on a suggestion by Tom Kratman.
UPDATE: Allah Pundit has more at Hot Air, including that he believes Kerry's comment was a botched joke aimed at Bush not the troops:
Video: Kerry’s speech at the Angelides event, uncut(?)
Blogwars: Me vs. Ace on Kerrygate
I tend to doubt that Kerry would take such a low blow at the troops during a speech intended to help Democrats. But whether Kerry's comment was a botched joke or a Freudian slip, the fact that so many Democrats distanced themselves from him indicates they knew Kerry's anti-war history would make the gaffe explanation a hard sell, even if it's the truth. That's what the cartoon is about.