Three French travelers were
killed by gunmen Monday in the Saudi Arabian desert when they stopped
their car to rest on the side of a road leading to the holy city of
Medina in an area restricted to Muslims only. Chandler News Dispatch
The spokesman said the group, thought to number 26, had split into two
after a night in the desert near Medina, with some returning to Riyadh
and the nine French nationals staying behind because some of them were
Muslims who hoped to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Reuters
Fox News has a report discussing the criticism of Mahmoud Ahmadinjad by the conservatives in his party including the Grand Ayatolloah Khamenei. I am not buying it.
Something that I have observed about the Iranians is their adeptness at using the power of the Ayatollah and the perceived power of their President in controlling negotiations. As described by the CIA Factbook Iran is "a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority nominally vested in a learned religious scholar." Under Iranian law Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is the "Supreme Commander." His lifetime appointment essentially provides him with an uncontested final say over national events and decisions.
Since the implementation of this government in 1979, the Iranians have used their governmental formation with great skill. Their diplomatic game is a complicated version of good cop/bad cop with the roles reversing as the need arises.
In the present incarnation the President, Ahmadinejad, is the bad cop. He is the firebrand screaming and making threats with his attempt to build a nuclear arsenal. Khamenie is at present playing the good cop. He sits back seemingly quiet and supposedly just keeping a wise watchful eye on events and listening. As the issue of the nuclear Iran has progressed he takes an action or makes a statement that gives the illusion that he is merely guiding events, pulling back on the reins as necessary. Since he is perceived as being wise and watchful, the picture is created that he has common sense and will not allow nonsensical decisions to be carried too far.
He has taken several actions recently which have been interpreted to suggest that he is unhappy with Ahmandinejad's saber rattling. This fictional stance throws the diplomats dealing with the Iranian Regime off balance. Ahmadinejad says one thing, but Khamenie is hinting at another. The hint is just enough to dangle the hope that the real power in Iran, Khamenie, is not going to allow the loose cannon of Ahmadinejad drag the country into war. It gives the appearance that the diplomatic game is ongoing while in reality the regime keeps doing what it has been doing with the full intent of achieving its predetermined goals. It gives the appearance that there is dissension in the ranks when in reality it is a well choreograph show.
The Iranians did this during the Iranian Hostage crisis, with the secular government reaching a consensus only to have the agreement dashed by the Ayotollah. Then the next offer issued by the Iranians would include all of the concessions previously made by the US and additional terms. The negotiator then blames the change of heart on the uncontrolled and unaccessible decision maker. What actually occurred was that the US made all of the concessions that it intended to make because the concessions made by the Iranians were perceived to be fair by the US. However, the Iranian shell game occurred and the US had already shown its hand. It had already committed to give in on something that it had claimed it would never cave on - advantage Iran. The next round of talks included all of the previous concessions and more requirements. The credibility of the negotiator was not harmed because he just blamed it on that crazy Ayatollah who was being so unreasonable. In the end the Iranians controlled the game board.
The same manipulation is operating today. The only difference between todays events and those of the Hostage Crisis is that the Iranians now know what they want and they want to do more than just humiliate teh United States. The endgame is to join the nuclear club. Every act that they take must be viewed with their endgame in mind. If meaningless gestures buy them more time, then meaningless gestures will occur. If saber rattling is needed to push back, then a fiery speech will ensue. The decision to obtain a nuclear bomb has already been made by the Iranian Regime. All else between now and when they obtain it will be empty gestures and purposeful distractions. The Iranian shell game is in full swing. The perception of a separation of power within their government is an illusion, it is a Theocracy not a Democracy and the final decisions are based upon religious goals not secular.
Last week there were several stories that Senator Lieberman may caucus with the Republicans in the Senate. If this were to happen the Senate would become controlled by Republicans. This story sums up Lieberman's shot across the Democratic bow and how important Lieberman feels that the only option in Iraq is success:
Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut fired a shot across the bow of the
Senate's Democratic majority, warning them he may bolt the party and
join the GOP if Congress votes to withhold funding for the war in Iraq ...
"A lot of Democrats are essentially pacifists and somewhat
isolationists," he said, adding that he had problems with Sen. Ted
Kennedy's proposal to deny President Bush funding for the troop surge,
and with his fellow Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd's suggestion that
Congress might cap the number of U.S. troops in Iraq.
Asked if he would switch parties if Democrats cut off funding for the
war, Lieberman responded: "That would be stunning to me. And very
hurtful. And I'd be deeply affected by it. Let's put it that way" ...
He told Goldberg that he was reading "America Alone" by conservative
Mark Steyn, who argues that Europe is being overwhelmed culturally and
demographically by Islam.
"The thing I quote most from it is the power of demographics, in Europe
particularly," Lieberman said. "But the other part is a kind of
confirmation of what I know and what I've read elsewhere, which is that
Islamist extremism has an ideology, and it's expansionist . . . We
Americans will have ultimate responsibility for stopping this
"Why do I trust President Bush in spite of the mistakes that were made,
consequential mistakes? Because having watched him, having talked to
him, I believe that he understands the life-and-death struggle we are
in with the most deadly and unconventional enemy, Islamic extremism.
"And he has shown himself, notwithstanding all these mistakes, willing
to go forward with what he believes is right for the security of the
country, regardless of what it has done to his popularity.
Also, in Today's Wall Street Journal, Senator Lieberman has an editorial in which he calls on the both parties the Democrats to stop making the war a partisan issue. He has clearly stated that should the Democrats vote to remove funding from the troops that he would change parties. The Democrats know that this would be political suicide, even without Lieberman's threats, so they have developed a new strategy to stop the war by a "thousand little cuts". Lieberman seems to be growing tired of this game.
What the Democrats do not seem to grasp is that Lieberman sees this as a true struggle - a true war - against "radical Islam". The Democrats have worked themselves up into such an anti-Bush frenzy that they see it as Bush's war. The Democrats do not understand that Lieberman when Lieberman says things such as "the life-and-death struggle we are
in with the most deadly and unconventional enemy" and "Islamist extremism has an ideology, and it's expansionist" that he is truly concerned with the threat to our way of life. Lieberman understands that there are people out there who want us, our culture, and our way of life destroyed.
The Democrats argue that Iraq is the wrong place to be fighting. Where, if anywhere, then do they suggest we fight "radical Islam" if not in the Middle East? Do they suggest that we fight it it Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, or Malaysia? In truth the National Democratic party has become a bunch of far left kumbiyah appeasers with no sense of the dark and evil people that exist in the world.
Lieberman gets it and therefore he gets that we must succeed in Iraq. Failure in Iraq will result in a loss of esteem and power of the United States, it will hamper our ability to influence world events through peaceful measures (because rogue regimes will know that the threats will not be followed by enforcement - think of how much countries tremble when France says "No"), and it will give an unbelievable boosts and moral victory to the terrorist machine. Senator Lieberman knows that Europe is not politically capable of addressing the problem.
Islamist extremism has an ideology, and it's expansionist . . . We
Americans will have ultimate responsibility for stopping this
If America fails to stop the spread of "radical Islam", then the fight is lost. Senator Lieberman understands this.
are at a critical moment in Iraq--at the beginning of a key battle, in
the midst of a war that is irretrievably bound up in an even bigger,
global struggle against the totalitarian ideology of radical Islamism.
However tired, however frustrated, however angry we may feel, we must
remember that our forces in Iraq carry America's cause--the cause of
freedom--which we abandon at our peril.
The Democrats are looking for a Mulligan according to Flopping Aces. It also looks like 'ol Pussnuts is at it again.
"I've had enough of 'nonbinding,' " said Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who is helping to draft the new Democratic proposal. The 2002 war resolution, he said, is an obvious target.
authorization that we gave the president back in 2002 is completely,
completely outdated, inappropriate to what we're engaged in today," he
I am assuming, therefore, that John Kerry is proposing to strengthen the resolution to give the troops and the President the authority and ability to get the job done - Yeah, Right!
“I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”
Sen. John Pussnuts Kerry, Speech In Huntington, WV, March 16, 2004
“You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and
you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you
can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” John Francois Pussnuts Kerry, October 31, 2006
In the House, the Democrats plan to offer a different plan after the
collapse of the Murtha strategy, but it will be just as transparently
partisan. They will propose a more straightforward funding bill for the
war, but will include a waiver on any deployment readiness restrictions
by allowing the Secretary of Defense or the President to certify that
unprepared troops will be deployed into battle. It’s a silly and
blatantly partisan mechanism, but that matches the Democratic Congress
Simple answer to this is for the military to lower its deployment readiness restrictions - much like public schools across the nation do - so that more troops are at the top level. The Democrats should be able to approve of and understand such circular reasoning.
A new poll shows that American want to win the war in Iraq after all. SO let me get this right - The soldiers want to win; The Iraqi people want us to win; The American people want to win. Is it possible that only the Democratic Congress and the Terrorists want us to lose in Iraq? I am just relieved to see that we are not a majority of whining losers. Hopefully, this is a trend that more Americans are getting a backbone. More analysis at RightWingNuthouse.
Chuck Ziegenfuss has taken hold of the story concerning WRAMC, Mologne House and Building 18. Read his post The Blame Game. Chuck is a true American hero who has spent more than his fair share of time at WRAMC and the associated facilities. In his post Chuck explains the problems that he saw and vents about his own experiences.
I have visited WRAMC and the Mologne House once. I wrote briefly about my experience here. My visit to the Mologne House was confined to the lobby area. The portion of Mologne House that I visited was fine - it had the feeling of a decent apartment building. I did not visit Building 18, even though I heard it mentioned in less than flattering terms. I also heard that the guys there felt like they are often forgotten. As for WRAMC, the very limited portion that I visited did not appear substandard. While there was no mistaking it for a government facility and its age was apparent - it looked like the job was getting done. One impression that I remember is that it was certainly busy. However, there are plenty of people better qualified than myself to discuss the status of these facilities. I merely experienced a snapshot of life at these facilities.
It is my understanding that WRAMC is slated to be closed and the facilities moved to a new location. If this is true it could certainly explain why the bureaucracy has forgotten about the place and why the repair budget is not what it should be. I reiterate that it is an explanation not an excuse.
I do have one issue with Chuck's post and that his is acceptance, as a commander who knew of the less than admirable qualities of the facilities, of any part of the blame for not fixing the problem.
"As a leader in the Army, who has gone through this system, I SHOULDER
PART OF THE BLAME FOR NOT TRYING TO FIX THE PROBLEM. I left my brothers
behind, and got myself home. After recovery, I moved on to other
things, even though the complaints made today are the same as they were
2 years ago. Families are in the dark, medhold is a ridiculous and poor
taste joke and apparent cover-your-ass move by the chain of command. I
am an officer. I am a leader. By allowing this to happen, and continue
to happen, I am at fault for not getting it fixed earlier or fixing it
Chuck simply deserves nothing but accolades for his work on behalf of his fellow soldiers and deserves none of the blame. While recuperating from his own injuries, Chuck created a program to give laptops to the wounded soldiers. This program has brought immeasurable comfort to our wounded and has helped a huge number of soldier make it through their their recuperation. I agree with Chuck that the right person with the right authority could fix the problem in a matter of months. I also have no doubt that Chuck could fix the problem, he did not have the authority or ability to do so. Instead Chuck very capably tackled and fixed a problem that he he saw. All while he was dealing with his own recovery and the issues associated with it.
Chuck - Project Valour IT would not even exist if it were not for your hard work. You have no blame on your shoulders. Continue to fight the fight where you see it and kick the asshats in the nuts when they deserve it.
The Pakistani Minister for Social Welfare in the Punjab Province, Zilla Huma Usman (a.k.a. Zil-e-Huma Usman ), was assasinated today. Her assassin, Mohammad Sarwar, is "well known" for his religious fanaticism. His previous actions which earned him this moniker include his previous arrest for the mutilation and killing of four prostitutes. This arrest did not stick because there was insufficient evidence to prosecute him. Fox News reports that Sarwar claimed his motivation for the assassination was because he
"believed that she was dressed inappropriately and that women should not be involved in politics ... Sarwar appeared relaxed and calm when he told a
television channel that he had carried out God’s order to kill women
who sinned. “I have no regrets. I just obeyed Allah’s commandment,” he
said, adding that Islam did not allow women to hold positions of
leadership. “I will kill all those women who do not follow the right
path, if I am freed again,” he said.
By the way her mortal sin was that the 35 year old was "was wearing the shalwar kameez worn by many professional women in Pakistan, but did not cover her head."
Other than not observing the Islamic dress code, the married mother of two also committed other grave sins such as campaigning for the emancipation of women, and holding of a mini-marathon involving female competitors.
The problem I have with the news coverage is that this is being reported as being an assassination by a "religious fanatic". To be a "religious fanatic" the actions or reasoning of the fanatic should have an element of being aberrant or non-orthodox, it should be outside of the mainstream interpretation of the religion. This man's actions are in not outside the mainstream, but rather are in keeping with the mainstream Muslim religion (don't take my word for it- here and here and here). Support of the Sharia Law requires the subjugation of women and also ultimately supports its enforcement by violence. Sarwar's actions, or rather what will be a failure by the majority of Muslims to vehemently denounce such actions is the center of the clash between the Western world and the Muslim religion. The failure of the Muslim religion to allow for and to accept that others may have a different view of God and what it takes to successfully enter heaven appears to be an impossible obstacle to peace.
This "fanatic" killed a lady because of her desire for some semblance of equality and fair treatment. This "fanatic" is following the tenants of his religion as accepted by a surprisingly large portion of its followers. Where is the outrage? Where are the Fatwas against such "fanatical" behavior? Sure, there may end up being a couple of radical clerics who issue statements against such action, but the problem is that they are not accepted authorities by the "mainstream" Muslims. Those who preach peace and acceptance are the fringe elements of the religion. I hope that time proves me wrong, I hope that over the next few days and weeks that Muslim cleric after cleric issues Fatwa after Fatwa condemning Sarwar and other s who believe as he does. However, you can bet that while I would be pleasantly surprised if this happens - I won't be holding my breath.
Fox News also quoted Zobaida Jalal, the federal Minister for Social
Welfare,as saying that Usman’s death was an “unbearable loss to the cause
of women rights and their empowerment”.
Our men and women in the military are fighting as much for the Zilla Usmans of the world as they are for our protection. It is a fight for the oppressed - It is a fight for those who cannot protect themselves - It is a noble fight. May God bless Mrs. Usman and may he comfort her family.
The accused, M Sarwar Mughal — popularly known as Maulvi Sarwar — is a
resident of Baghbnapura in Gujranwala. Two police stations of
Gujranwala and the Tibbi police of Lahore had booked Maulvi Sarwar for
the murder of six women, but he was acquitted for want of sufficient
His alleged spree of killing “immoral” women started
in the year 2002. In his confession statement before the police on
Tuesday, he said he was opposed to women holding public office. He
added that after he read in the newspaper that the minister was holding
an open court, he decided to kill her.
On the practical effect of the resolution, he states:
This resolution has teeth, though: It's going to bite our combat
commanders. By undermining their credibility and shaking the trust of
their Iraqi counterparts, it makes it far tougher to build the
alliances that might give Iraq a chance.
If you were an Iraqi, would you be willing to trust Americans and risk your life after the United States Congress voted to abandon you?
As to the effect on morale, he makes the point which appears to be the biggest bur under the anti-war saddle. It the fact that the troops want to do the job. Its not Vietnam where the soldiers were drafted and were forced to go into battle. This is a volunteer army that does not need or want to be saved by teh anti-war left. As Peters succinctly states:
As for bringing them home, why not respect the vote the troops themselves are taking: Sustained re-enlistment rates have been at a record high.
And our soldiers and Marines know
they'll go back to Iraq or Afghanistan. And no, Senator Kerry, it's not
because they're too stupid to get a "real" job like yours or because
they're "mercenaries." Some Americans still believe in America.
If our troops are willing to fight this bitter war, how dare Congress knife them in the back?
Our soldiers have always stood ready to do the dirty work. Their job is tough and the rewards are not obvious. We have asked them to do a job and Congress needs to get out of the way and let them finish it.