Category Archives: Afghanistan

The Hypocricy of the Left; More Mass Graves in Iraq

There are many reasons that I have stated in the past for why I think we need to stay in Iraq and not leave until the job is done. All of the reasons I have stated are valid and legitimate and make compelling arguments, but none is more important or compelling than the simple obligation we have to protect and provide a measure of stability to the Iraqi people.    This one reason alone is why it is essential to stay the course in Iraq and I find it extremely hypocritical of the “anti-war Left” to demand that we withdraw our troops out now.

The Left is suppossed to be the champion of civil rights, of peace and freedom, they are anti-torture, anti-totalitarianism, they criticize the West for not doing enough to protect people in Sudan or Rwanda.  They yell and scream over injustices as the U.S. pursues it’s interests over the interests of the developing world.  And they try to guilt us into spending untolds amount of dollars to “save the environment” and save us from global warming, a theory that is still widely disputed in academia.  Yet they have the gall to not only accept, but seemingly welcome, the inevitable horrors and, dare I say, genocide that would likely occur if the U.S.-led coalition withdrew from Iraq today.   Why?  All because they hate George Bush and, let’s be honest, the hegemony of the United States. 

So why am I so riled up about this today?  Because yet again mass graves of innocent people have been uncovered in Iraq.  Mass graves filled with at least 50 bodies of average, everyday Iraqis who were killed by Al Qa’eda in Iraq (AQI).  Not only have 50 bodies been found but that is only 1/3 of the orchard where likely more bodies yet remain and there are at least two more orchards that are believed to be burial grounds as well. 

So how did this happen?  Why did AQI do this? Read the following:

In 2006, al Qaeda in Iraq declared Diyala province the center of its Islamic State of Iraq caliphate. The Himbus area, with its fruit orchards providing cover from aircraft, became a major weapons storage area and training center. And it ruled with an iron fist.

“When they first came into the area, they said they were mujahideen fighting the occupation forces. But later they started forcing people to give them money and forcing them from their homes. People who worked for the Iraq Army or the Iraqi Police were punished,” said Sheik Abbas Hussein Khalaf, the leader of nearby Taiyah village.

They imposed their rules: no music, no smoking, the woman had to wear the veil, and there were no wedding celebrations allowed. No one was allowed out after 5 p.m.”

Some people were shot in front of the people in the street, others were kidnapped, killed and put in the mass graves.”

One of them was a cousin, he said, the brother of the man who had escaped and told U.S. troops about the graves.

Mass executions, once associated with Saddam Hussein’s regime, became a tool of terror used by al Qaeda as it took over vast swaths of Iraq following the 2003 U.S. invasion.

So what makes you folks who are so oppossed to our continued presence in Iraq so confident that this same thing would not occur if we were to leave now?  or is it that you aren’t sure, but are so mad and ticked off at Bush and the U.S. that you don’t care or are blinded to the realities?  I suspect the latter. 

Do you think that AQI only did this because we are there and they are trying to get us out and once we leave they will be benevolent rulers?  If you do you are ignorant and stupid.   AQI was acting precisely as the Taliban acted in the 1990’s and there is no reason to suspect AQI would not do the same in future. 

Granted, things are going relatively well in Iraq right now.  It is far more stable that it was a year ago or in 2006 when these killings occurred.  But the security situation is still unreliable and uncertain, as evidenced by the recent upswing of violence in Basra. 

If the Left-wing of our country and around the world really cared about human rights, peace, and freedom they would stop demanding that we pull our troops home immediately.  They would stop and think about the humanitarian situation on the ground and the likely humanitarian crisis that would arise out of a result of our early exit.  

Now, I don’t care if you want to complain and hate on Bush, fine.  Do that all you want.  Blame him for getting us in to Iraq in the first place and criticize him all you want.  Even feel free to criticize our military commanders for poor strategy and planning at the beginning of the war if you want.  I don’t mind your criticism of the process or the initial decision making issues, but results are what matters now, especially when we are talking about life and death.  The left should be leading the call for us to see it through to ensure human rights and safety for every Iraqi person, those issues, so core to the current situation in Iraq, is what the left wing preaches everyday for the rest of the world, but apparently they consider the Iraqi people unworthy of the same support that is so freely given to the people in Darfur or other ravaged areas.  The left needs to do some real soul searching and refine their message in a manner that condemns the mistakes and ‘punishes’ those that made them in the whole Iraq process, but also call for whatever needs to be done to prevent a genocide in Iraq; starting with the maintainment of our troops to root out extremists like those associated with AQI.

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Memo to Pres. Bush: Be Wise with Iran

President Bush,

Currently you are riding somewhere between 30% and 39% in approval ratings among the American public, some fairly recent polling has had you as low as 24%. This is nothing to write home about. The cause of this demise stems from alleged mishandling of Iraq and New Orleans, GOP corruption, Harriet Miers (what was that?), and various other small missteps along the way. Throughout the last 4 years of challenging times for you, I am proud to announce that I was one of those 24% and am still one of the 39%. I can’t say that I was not without my doubts in your administration, certainly there were tough times of trying faith, however I have stood by you and apparently so have many more people and some have even started to jump on your bandwagon. The new Iraq strategy provided by Petraeus is providing you more political capital, the complete ineptitude of the democratic congress has largely overshadowed any issues you have had, and the race for the 2008 election is starting to take the front page stories… in short, things are looking up for you and your legacy.

But don’t screw it up! You are starting to scare me with much of the Iran rhetoric of late, statements from within the Administration (as well as my favorite GOP Presidential candidate) are sounding very much like the rhetoric leading up to the Iraq war in 2002-03. Resorting to force in Iran too soon is the worst thing you could do and would completely ruin your legacy. I understand you want to be doer for good in the world, but this is not the way to go about it. I agree with you that Iran cannot have nuclear weapons, there is no arguing that here. I also agree that Iran is actively pursuing such weapons (as demonstrated by the appointment of hardliner Jalali as the new nuclear negotiator for Iran). However, there is still plenty of time to try diplomatic or, perhaps, other subversive means to quell their quest.

It is obvious that the Ayatollah and Jalali will play the diplomatic game for as long as possible.  They will string us, the UN, and the IAEA along as we try to talk through the issue, all the while developing weapons under our noses. Most conservative pundits and Israel would argue that this is enough to justify a strike. It is not, at least not yet. You have not tried everything, or you have not put enough time into some strategies.

First, continue with severe diplomatic pressure and sanctions. The latter of these will have minimal impact as Russia and China will completely ignore them, but it is the point that matters. Press the UN for more action and insist that the IAEA get unfettered access to all Iranian sites. Basically, do everything you have done up to now.

Second, and most importantly, use what you already have in place to your advantage. A couple of years ago in your state of the union address, you spoke to the Iranian people and gave them your support. Your policy has been to support opposition groups inside and outside of Iran. This is what you are not doing enough of. You need to realize how unique the Iranian people are. About 75% of the Iranian public is under the age of 30, meaning they do not remember the revolution of 1979. It is not personal to them; they don’t have the revolutionary spirit. A majority of these young people despise their government and want a new democratic on in its place. A good percentage even like the U.S. and support you. Do you realize how much power this gives us in Iran? But don’t be foolish into thinking that you cannot lose that support. The Iranian people are also very proud and nationalistic. They still relish in the Persian Empire that was around in 500 BC, they despise being called Arab and Middle-Eastern. An attack on their country from an outsider, regardless of one’s intention will ruin all good will. They will turn to their government and uphold them. Why waste such an opportunity with a premature attack.

You have massive amounts of troops in countries on both of Iran’s eastern and western fronts, you have a large Navy contingent in the Persian Gulf and the Indian ocean. All of this gives you a significant show of force. Additionally, you have the Kurds and Iranian internal opposition groups; your greatest weapons. The Kurdish areas in norther Iraq are, for all intents and purposes, autonomous and doing well economically. This allows them some freedom of movement and shows that they are capable enough for strategic involvement. Northwestern Iran has a province called Kurdistan and is full of Kurds, who would like nothing more than to overthrow the Islamic Republic. Further south in Ahwaz you have Arabic opposition groups, while these groups are likely not pre-disposed to like us, they will likely take our support against the mullahs. Use them. There are Baluchi opposition groups in SE Iran and other Persian groups throughout the country that you can use to our advantage. And, finally, there are moderates in the government that will quitely support you. Perhaps people like former President Khatami.

You have so much opportunity for positive peaceful, or not-so-peaceful but at least without American intervention, change. Do not even consider going to war until these options have been exhausted. Even if there is a violent revolution in Iran like in 1979, at least the Iranian people were the ones to do it. They will be personally invested in it and will hopefully take care to uphold a new democratic government. That is one of the struggles in Iraq, the people don’t own it; it was not their revolution. Do you think the American revolution would have been as strong had France fought our battles for us? Of course not, revolutions are always more successful when brought on by the people themselves. Even if it is with foreign support. Remember the Iranian people are smart, educated, and sophisticated compared to most of the rest of that region. They are not Iraq. It is a whole new ballgame.

In closing, President Bush, I implore you to be wise here. Do not ruin another possibility for change in the Middle-East. I will not support you in a war with Iran without a dire, dire need, and there is not anywhere near enough evidence yet. As of now I predict that in the long term your Presidency will be remembered as one of the best and most influential. It will be Trumanesque – despised in office, yet revered 50 years later. A pre-mature attack against Iran will ruin that.

Steven Swint, Editor-in-Chief

Dry Fly Politics & Mitt Report

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Petraus and Congress

Yesterday, General Petraus presented his long awaited report on progress of the surge in Iraq. All in all his report was positive regarding how things have gone. As I watched (some) of the coverage I was greatly impressed by the General and the his understanding of the realities of the War and the way in which he handled the congressmen. I am very impressed by the General, but more on that in a minute.

I have a really big problem watching our public officials or candidates on T.V. I am not a fan of most speeches by the President, I can only watch debates for at a maximum of 30 second intervals without gouging my eyes out, trying to watch congress or senate on CSPAN is as enjoyable as a root canal, and even political shows on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc. drive me crazy. About the only political organization that I actually enjoy watching is British parliament, great fun. (Wouldn’t it be great to see the President (Bush or otherwise) have to constantly defend his positions against progress in the manner that the British PM does, fantastic). Anyway, the point is, is that as I was watching the coverage of the report yesterday, I was sucked in by General Petraus and completely repelled by the congressmen. Politicians drive me nuts. Every one of the congressmen questioning Petraus loves the sound of their voice. They wouldn’t shut up. It would be their turn, so they would go off on some partisan diatribe about whatever they thought about the war or Bush or whatever, they would talk for a good 10 -15 minutes then some of them would just defer their time to someone else and not ask a question. And if they did ask a question it usually had to do with political policy rather than military tactics and strategy. If I were in Petraus’s shoes I would have blown up. I would have said that they are all complete idiots, they have no idea about anything going on in Iraq, told them they were playing politics with peoples lives, and that he is the commander of American forces in Iraq, not the President.

We need to realize that most congressmen are no different than you or I, most of them are not children of privilege and many had regular jobs before getting into politics. They certainly don’t have any greater understanding of history, international affairs, or public policy than most of you who browse and read political blogs regularly. That fact is never more apparant to me than when I am watching our congressmen at work, some of them are dumb, dumb, dumb.

Anyway, let me go back to Petraus. I am convinced he is our Eisenhower, he is absolutely the right man to be in charge. In fact, I could see him running for President in 2012. I don’t know if he is GOP or a Democrat. I assume GOP because I like him and hope that’s what he is, so I would expect that if Hillary wins the presidency that the good General may well be in the thick of it in 5 years. If he is a Democrat and a GOPer (other than Romney or Huckabee) is in office, I would likely vote for Petraus and give my vote to a Democrat for the first time. He is impressive.

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The Gettysburg of the Iraq War

Every war has one battle, one location, one incident that is a turning point one way or another. Arguably , the most famous of these for our country was the Battle of Gettysburg, and the subsequent Gettysburg Address by President Lincoln in the Civil War. In today’s environment, we have been waiting for such an event in Iraq, something that will hopefully lead to victory. That event may have occured this weekend in Anbar when President Bush and nearly his entire war cabinet met with members of the Iraqi government, all of this following Iraq’s success in pacifying Anbar last year. Frederick Kagan wrote about this on National Review, it is a MUST read. I’d love to hear your comments about it.

The Gettysburg of this War

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Perceptions of Iraq Improving at Home

Prior to starting this blog, I like most Americans, was wavering in my support for the Iraq War. In 2002 and 2003 I was all for military action in Iraq. I, like nearly everyone in the world, believed Iraq had WMD’s, I criticized the UN for their “if you do it one more time!” routine without ever backing it up, and I believed that Saddam had to go (although I did not believe he was a direct threat to America). As the war continued and dragged on and as the media only reported the negatives in Iraq, my commitment weakened and by May of this year I was leaning towards withdrawing the troops. That all changed once I started the blog and actually started researching what was really going on. Within two weeks of doing this research I was (and still am) 100% convinced of how essential it is that we stay in Iraq and I was also convinced that the surge was starting to work and the tide was slowly changing there.

Previous columns highlighted my reasoning for such beliefs, but I was ever more frustrated. The word was not getting out to the American people. However, that looks like it is starting to change. Last week a couple of analysts from the Brookings Institution, Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack (who were staunchly against the War from the beginning) said, “we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily ‘victory,’ but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.” They continued, “there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.” While these quotes are far from throwing support behind the war, they emphasize a current trend among the media and other observers that Iraq is not as bad as some thought. The one question I have for the above individuals is what constitutes ‘victory’? I would think that a ‘sustainable stability’ is exactly what we are looking for in order to be victorious in Iraq; a stable government that can provide basic services and freedoms and can also provide relative security from insurgents and terrorists. I think we should be looking for stability more along the lines of Morocco or Indonesia rather than Canada or Sweden (at least for the relative short term). But I digress.

Even the AP is getting in on the act. Robert Burns wrote in a column that, “the new U.S. strategy in Iraq… is working.” He further adds:

Despite political setbacks, American commanders are clinging to a hope that stability might be built from the bottom up—with local groups joining or aiding U.S. efforts to root out extremists—rather than from the top down, where national leaders have failed to act.

Commanders are encouraged by signs that more Iraqis are growing fed up with violence. They are also counting on improvements in the Iraqi army and police, which are burdened by religious rivalries and are not ready to take over national defense duties from U.S. troops this year.

Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Peter Bronson writes, “We’re winning in Iraq. Ok, I said it. It’s crazy. Stupid. Naïve. Hopelessly optimistic. And true. Something has changed, and the cut-and-run crowd in Congress did not get the memo. They insist the war is lost and we should get out yesterday. But the war has taken a turn for the better, like a patient making a sudden recovery after years on life support.”

These are just a few examples from among many articles that show that the perceptions of the current situation in Iraq is starting to change. It is very refreshing to finally be hearing good news out of Iraq.

However, the most significant sign that things are changing here at home does not come from the media but by what the people think. In a Gallup Poll released today says that, “the additional troops are ‘making the situation better’ rose to 31% from 22% a month ago. Those who said it was ‘not making much difference’ dropped to 41% from 51%. ” While the 31% and 41% numbers respectively are nothing to write home about, it does show a recent trend of increasing support for our mission in Iraq.

This current situation makes me wonder if Iraq will follow the trend of most of America’s previous wars – e.g. the Revolutionary War, Civil War, and WWII. In each of these wars we lost major battles and were struggling during the initial and early stages in the War. In fact in the Civil War, the Union was losing for the first 3 years and only Lincoln’s resolve kept us afloat. It looks like this same pattern could be what is happening for us in Iraq: early loses, strong negative public sentiment, and then, finally, victory.

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Is Obama OK with Genocide in Iraq?

Barack Obama up until now has been a strange enigma in my mind.  On the one hand, he is among the most left-wing senators in our country and I completely disagree with him on most of his policies.  On the other hand, he seems to be a genuine and honest person.  He does not seem to be overly tainted by Washington politics…yet.  And he is generally likeable and charming.   I have wondered if the race for President came down to Giuliani v. Obama, would I really consider voting for Obama?   Me, a right-wing conservative?   Well, up to last week, the answer was yes, I would consider it (though not likely).    

Anyone who reads this site fairly regularly is aware that I believe that success in Iraq is essential to U.S. national security, U.S. long-term interests, and to the preservation and rebirth of America’s image world-wide.   I have also argued that if the sole reason we stay in Iraq is for humanitarian reasons alone it would be worthwhile and justified.    So, when I read the comments of Mr. Obama on Iraq last week, you could imagine my extreme disappointment.  He essentially said that maintaining troops in Iraq for humantiarian problems and preventing Genocide in Iraq is not enough of a reason to keep our troops there

Now before I get into his justifications for this remark and my interpretation of what he is saying, allow me to interject something about what the Left (of whom he is a significant part) is suppossed to be about.   The left continually supports human rights and life, they are suppossed to be the U.S. humanitarians, they support Amnesty International, condemn U.S. actions across the world that are remotely deemed as insensitive and hurtful, and they are currently staging a large advertising campaign to raise awareness for the genocide in Darfur.  Aside from Obama’s obvious lack of understanding about the realities of the War, this is what is most disappointing in him.  He and candidates of his party should hold the line that they don’t agree with the war, they believe that political success is highly unlikely, but if only to save lives we should maintain a presence in Iraq.  Very disappointing and really causes the left to lose even more credibility.

Now, back to Obama’s specific statement.  Is he saying that the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people is not as important as the loss of another 1-2 thousand American lives?   That is what it sounds like to me.  Many of you may think that 1-2 thousand more American lives are not worth it, but personally I think that is sad.  In a situation like this in Iraq that we essentially created, I personally would be willing to make such a sacrifice, and when I signed my name on the dotted line to join the Military, that is exactly what I said I was willing to do. 

To emphasize his point Obama said the following:

 “Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now—where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife—which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.

What a completely stupid and asinine argument.  It infuriates me that he could be this short-sighted and moronic.  The problem with his argument is that we had nothing to do with the problems in the Congo and Sudan.   We did not cause them.  In Iraq, we are the reason the Iraqi’s are in the situation they are, for good or bad.  Al Qaeda in Iraq is there because we ousted Saddam and they see an opportunity to take advantage of the situation in attempt to earn themselves another country from which to field their operations.  We have an obligation to the Iraqi people to help them and protect them from people who commit atrocities like those AQI has committed.  We have no such obligation for Sudan or Congo.  

Further, regarding the deployment of US forces his argument is off on the wrong foot immediately.  Our troops are already deployed there for a military engagement mission.  The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is in no way the basis for our deployment there, but it should be part of the mission now that we are there.   He is right that we should not engage in war or deploy troops solely for such reasons, but that is hardly applicable to the situation in Iraq.  Thus, he has a complete lack of understanding of what is happening there and what our mission is.  Obama then added the following:

It is my assessment that those risks (of genocide) are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.

Wow, what can I say here?  I am almost speechless. He is wrong, wrong, wrong.  If we left too early AQI, Iran, and other groups would push into Iran harsher and faster to establish a new Taliban like state, to build a new Islamic Republic, or just to gain political power at the expense of anyone who stands in their way.  These groups are not just there to attack Americans, they are smarter than that.  When they see our weakness and wavering they push harder and are more ruthless, but the one thing remotely holding them back is the presence of American troops.  For evidence of this read Michael Yon’s blog.

I am extremely disappointed in Barack.  I recognize that he is a politician and is trying to earn votes, but this is unacceptable.  Primarily because it is a poor and not-thought-out argument.  It makes him look ill-suited to serve as commander-in-chief and leader of the free world.

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Is Ron Paul just Michael Moore in GOP clothing?

“Why not Ron Paul?”  That is a question that is asked all over the web by his army of supporters.  They argue that he is the only candidate that follows the constitution and is the most honest candidate in the race.  Well, the answer to “why not Ron Paul?”  is simple: He is a scrawny, less loud-mouthed, and GOP version of Michael Moore.   On the Alex Jones radio show Paul said that America is in “great danger” of our government staging a terrorist attack to essentially provide a public diversion from Iraq.   

This completely removes any legitimacy he may have had as a GOP candidate for President.  I recognize that President Bush is not perfect and things are not well in Iraq, but there is no way the President would ever allow something like that to happen, and for a GOP candidate and congressman to enter the realm of conspiracy theorists with the likes of Moore and Cindy Sheehan makes Paul even more irrelevant than he was before.

In the interview he also added that there is “an orchestrated effort to blame the Iranians for everything that has gone wrong in Iraq.”   The first mistake Paul made here is using the word “everything,” I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he only used that word because of circumstances, in the same way that many of us use it in debate forums while not actually meaning everything, but most.  If he does believe our government blames everything bad in Iraq on Iran, he simply is ignorant and unfit to lead.  The Government has said nothing more than that the Iranians are continuing to support many of the insurgents and to have an active presence in Iraqi politics.  Now, if there is one thing that I consider myself an expert on, it is Iran.   Iran has had the intention since 1979 to spread the Islamic Revolution across the world and now recognizes an exceptional opportunity to expand their influence and revolution in Iraq (and Afghanistan).  There is zero objective argument that can be made that Iran is NOT having a huge negative impact on Iraqi security and stability.   It seems to me that Ron Paul, because of his personal vitriol for Bush, has allowed emotion and irrationality to cloud his mind and as a result, will simply give Iran a pass because the Bush administration accused them of such actions. Here is betting that if the claims about Iran were first made by, say, a Jim Webb or even a Pelosi and then Bush denied it, Paul would be attacking Bush for NOT confronting the real threat, Iran.   This is what happens when people fail to look at a situation as it is and are so wrapped up in frustration and anger at Bush that they begin to believe that such a leader can do nothing right, is in an inherent liar, and thus, everthing he says is wrong no matter how right he may be.  This is where Moore, Sheehan, and Pelosi have been for at least the last 4 years and it is now where Ron Paul has gone also.

(Note: I have been planning to write a general column on Ron Paul and why I don’t support him for a while now, I will try to have that out in the next week, depending on other circumstances in the news.  Mary, I expect you to read it!)

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