This month’s SGO is as tightly wound as an idiot’s watch. Just think about it: in one month there are SAMs, MOABs, Palestinian paranoids and four-star Deanieboppers. Just the Iraqi SGO would be enough.
The new acceleration of the effort to turn Iraq back over to Iraqis was a bad idea to begin with. From its announcement flowed, inevitably, the accusation that we were planning to retreat from Iraq as we did from Vietnam. It wasn’t true when it came out a week ago, and it’s not true now. What is true is that the Iraqis have learned much by watching the U.N. The leaders of the free Iraq apparently think that because America is there as their deliverer and guardian, they can take a Security Council approach to forming their new government. These guys work for an hour or two, go out for a three-hour lunch, and then send us the check. The casual approach that the Iraqi Governing Council is taking needs to be changed, not pummeled into a hurry.
We need to stick to the original idea: Iraq needs a constitution before it can be governed effectively, and proceed to democracy. What no one wants to admit is that pre-Saddam Iraq had a decently-drafted constitution. The Iraqi constitution of 1925 created a Parliamentary kingdom, something akin to Britain’s, but without many of the freedoms we and the Brits enjoy. (It did improve on ours in one regard. It provided that no one “Who is a lunatic or an idiot” could be a member of Parliament.) We should tell the “Governing Council” that they are responsible to start with the old constitution and develop a modern version by next June. Meanwhile, let’s cut off their American Express cards. And their cell phones.
Reports of corruption from Iraq should be as surprising as finding gambling at Rick’s. The lucrative licenses for cell phone service in Iraq may have been granted — as other contracts allegedly have been — due to bribes to the Governing Council members or even to Coalition Provisional Authority officials. Let’s get the investigation done quickly, and if there are problems (and there inevitably will be) let’s tar and feather whoever is responsible and not be diverted from the business of democracy-building. As we should continue to punish the insurgents who are finally under increased pressure.
The SAM attack on a DHL aircraft was successful in that the missile hit the aircraft and detonated. It was unsuccessful in that the aircraft landed with minor damage and no one injured. The insurgents are both bolder and more able, but that shouldn’t last long. Gen. Rick Sanchez has finally figured out that his troops are capable of doing more than standing still and making a target for the bad guys. The more they are allowed to operate widely against the insurgent terrorists, the safer they and all Iraqis will be. It’s probably time to devote more of the spec ops guys to the task as well and — as I often write — turn up the heat on Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia, from which most of the problems emanate.
There is both a bang and a whimper from the Air Force side this month. The big bang is the new version of the MOAB — massive ordnance air blast — weapon. The older versions were a mere 15,000 pounds, enough to wipe out about a square mile of anything unwise enough to be on the surface of the earth. But the old version was so bulky that it had to be carried by a C-130, not the kind of aircraft you’d send to, say, North Korea or Iran to blow up a nuclear weapons plant or wipe out a few thousand tanks and artillery pieces massing to attack. But the new GBU-43/B suffers neither of those defects.
Designed to be carried in the bomb bays of the B-2 stealth bomber, the new MOAB weighs in at about 21,500 pounds. Note to Kim Jong-il and Ayatollah Khamenei: nuclear ambitions always trigger the law of unintended consequences. And unless you are very lucky, Howard Dean will not be elected President of the United States a year from now. That’s despite the fact that Dr. Dean is attracting some very unusual fans to his club. Take Tony McPeak. Please.
Former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak is an eclectic personality. When I met him about ten years ago, I was impressed by his intellect and his personal commitment to using American force for right. At least as he saw it. McPeak told me that because we have the power to do so, it is our moral duty to intervene to prevent genocide anywhere. I demurred, saying that America’s interests are not so universal that we should spend American blood so readily, but McPeak was firm. Now, he is the latest prominent Deaniebopper.
But the reason for McPeak’s endorsement — Dean has someone working hard to get endorsements from retired generals — is more a measure of Dean’s shrewdness than his success in bridging the gap between him and the military. Dean apparently thinks that if he can line up a few more McPeaks, he may yet convince America that he isn’t anti-military, or a denialist willing to ignore the dangers of the real world and surrender our security to the U.N.. Which, of course, Dean most certainly is. Though Gen. McPeak’s endorsement isn’t important (please wake me up when some ex-Commandant of the Marines endorses Dean), Ghada Karmi’s writing is.
Karmi is a Palestinian political analyst in residence at Exeter University in the U.K. In a column in Al-Ahram Weekly — otherwise laced with references to things such as the “ruthless Israeli/US hegemony” of the Middle East — Karmi accidentally said something that’s terribly important. Karmi wrote that Arabs are now content to blame all the faults of their nations on the West, on some Judeo-Christian conspiracy against them, but should recognize that the Arabs are responsible for their own stagnant thinking.
His point is that the common Arab acceptance of the most ludicrous “proofs” of the West’s fault for their problems is terribly dangerous. He says the question facing the Arab world is how to “check the dangerous slide into paranoia and self-defeating religious bigotry…” “For [such notions] paralyse analytical thinking, obscure the real causes of Arab defeat, and provide ammunition for the accusation of Arab/Muslim anti-Semitism that Israel so skillfully manipulates in its favour.” Unless and until the Arabs come to that conclusion, and start admitting from whence their problems come, they will never solve their own problems. Because their problems breed ours, we will have to solve those problems to suit our interests, not theirs. Wiser Arab leaders than now exist would take Karmi’s words to heart, and then study what the President said last week in London.
When Churchill spoke during the first half of World War II, he spoke from vulnerability, tempered by inspiring resolve. Mr. Bush spoke to the Brits, and to the world, from strength tempered by sobering reality. “Now we’re pursuing a different course, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. We will consistently challenge the enemies of reform and confront the allies of terror. We will expect a higher standard from our friends in the region, and we will meet our responsibilities in Afghanistan and in Iraq by finishing the work of democracy we have begun.” If we have to remake the map of the Middle East to end the threat to ourselves, so be it. But it is a great shame that the Arab states cannot admit that we are not their problem. They are their own worst enemy. So far.
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That’s right, the Grinch (Joe Biden) is coming for your pocketbooks this Christmas season with record inflation. Just to recap, here is a list of items that have gone up during his reign.
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