SHOULDN'T HAVE STRAYED SO FAR FROM THE LAP:

May 31, 2006

President Bush should heed Tony Blair’s advice (EJ Dionne, 5/31/06, Seattle Times)

Imagine where British Prime Minister Tony Blair would be if he hadn’t joined with President Bush in prosecuting the Iraq war. […]

You wish, at least, that the prime minister could have edited Bush’s rhetoric. More important, you wish Blair would have pushed Bush much harder to approach the rest of the world in a way that would have left us with a few more friends and allies.

The reality is that most of the political damage that Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair sustained from the war is a function of the latter’s insistence (along with Colin Powell) on trying to sell it to the international community and to do so using the WMD argument. Had the P.M. just accepted the President’s assessment that the UN wasn’t going to be any use and that it was up to enforce their resolutions for them he’d have nothing to apologize for today. Though his heart is generally in the right place, Mr. Blair continues to stumble when he makes himself believe his own backbenchers, the continental Europeans, and the UN are interested in the same causes he is. The transnationalist project is aimed at stopping men like Tony Blair as much, or more, as stopping those like Saddam.


AS USUAL, OUR FLAW IS BEING TOO AMERICAN (via Tom Morin):

April 12, 2006

Pipes calls war a success (Bill Steigerwald, April 1, 2006, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Q: Were you in favor of going to war in Iraq, and how do you think it’s progressing or regressing?

[Daniel Pipes]: I was in favor. I continue to be in favor of the campaign to eliminate the rule of Saddam Hussein, with all the dangers to the Iraqis, to the region and to ourselves. From April 2003 on, I have argued that the U.S. government and its allies should have lower expectations than actually is the case. That we should treat the Iraqis like adults; that we should understand that they are going to run their own future, their own destiny, not us; that our role there is at best advisory, and that we should be patient. So lower expectations and a longer time horizon.

Q: Does that mean a significant change in what we are doing now, in terms of policy. Should we announce withdrawals?

A: The number of troops is not my issue. It’s the placement and role of the troops. For three years now I have been protesting the use of American troops to mediate between tribes, help rebuild electricity grids, oversee school construction, which seems to me to be a wrong use of our forces, of our money. The Iraqis should be in charge of that. We should keep the troops there, in the desert, looking after the international boundaries, making sure there are no atrocities, making sure oil and gas goes out, otherwise leaving Iraq to the Iraqis. […]

Q: Do you generally agree with President Bush’s Middle East policy — its goals and its methods?

A: I agree with the goals much more than the methods. I just gave an example of Iraq, where I believe the goal of getting rid of Saddam Hussein and trying to have a free and prosperous Iraq are worthy goals. I criticize the implementation. The same goes with democracy. I think democracy is a great goal for the region. I criticize the implementation; I think it’s too fast, too American, too get-it-done yesterday.

We’d have done better by doing less, but that’s not who we are.


JOHN KERRY WOULD HAVE GIVEN THEM A VETO (via Gene Brown):

April 3, 2006

Did Russia Help Saddam During the War? (Mark Kramer, April 2, 2006, Washington Post)

Reports in the Russian and Western press in March 2003 indicated that Gen. Vladislav Achalov, the former commander of Soviet airborne forces who supported the attempted coup in Moscow in August 1991, visited Baghdad shortly before the March 2003 invasion, accompanied by another retired Russian general. Photographs taken at the time confirm that the two generals were awarded medals by the Iraqi defense minister on behalf of Saddam Hussein. Achalov has since acknowledged that he traveled to Iraq at least 15 to 20 times in the years leading up to the war.

Press reports from March 2003 and afterward also indicated that other GRU officers were working with the Iraqi regime on a daily basis before and during the war, often through Abbas Khalaf, the former Iraqi ambassador to Moscow who sent numerous reports to Iraqi leaders citing GRU and diplomatic sources. In addition, a GRU “working group” known as Ramzaj, which posted daily assessments on a Russian military Web site, was widely described in the Russian press as aiding the Iraqi government. Although Ramzaj’s forecasts and some of its information proved to be wildly off the mark, the reports in major Russian dailies and respected trade publications lend strong credence to the assertions in the Iraqi documents that Titorenko and some Russian military intelligence officers aided the Iraqi efforts to withstand the U.S. invasion.

If Titorenko did provide illicit assistance, his motive may have been largely financial. When the Volcker commission issued its final report on fraud and corruption in the United Nations oil-for-food program last October, it listed the ambassador and his son as having received allocations of some 23.7 million barrels of oil worth well over $1 million in total.

The commission’s report listed numerous other Russian politicians and political entities, including Russian President Vladimir Putin’s then-chief of staff Alexander Voloshin, the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament, Yegor Stroyev, the Russian Communist Party, and the pro-Moscow government in Chechnya, as recipients of large oil allocations worth many millions.

However, it is unlikely that Titorenko’s apparent actions and the GRU cooperation were authorized at high levels. Russian opposition to the war — motivated mostly by the enormous profits Russian companies and elites had been reaping from the oil-for-food program — was much stronger than many U.S. experts had anticipated. But this opposition does not necessarily mean that Putin or then-Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov would have condoned transferring information that might cost American lives and would stand a high chance of eventually being detected.

We’ll never get all the facts straight, but it nicely demonstrates the utter insanity of the Democrats’ transnationalist argument that the UN should be allowed to determine when we go to war.


STUPID WOGS:

March 27, 2006

Fukuyama’s John Kerry moment: a review of America at the Crossroads Democracy, Power, and the Neoconservative Legacy By Francis Fukuyama (Steven Martinovich, March 27, 2006, Enter Stage Right)

[A]merica at the Crossroads is one of the better arguments against the war and its aftermath, both on philosophical grounds and real-world politics. In it Fukuyama argues that the current strain of neoconservatism, one he no longer considers himself a part of, responsible for the war in Iraq is far different from the one pioneered by the alumnus of the City College of New York in the 1930s and 40s. While the movement’s founding fathers were convinced that American power could be used for good in the world — as World War II proved — today’s neoconservatives have departed from several key principles.

Those principles include an aversion to preemptive wars and recognition that social engineering — which Fukuyama uses as a euphemism for nation building — was extraordinarily difficult. If Saddam Hussein was indeed a danger to global security, Fukuyama argues, then the war was too preemptive considering the failure to actually find the weapons of mass destruction the world was led to believe he possessed. And the post-war difficulty the coalition is experiencing is certainly proof that building a democracy is impossible without the internal demand for liberty and the institutions necessary to sustain it.

If there’s no internal demand then why did the Iraqis adopt a liberal constitution and why do they keep turning out for free elections?


WE'RE GOING–YOU COMING?:

March 27, 2006

Bush Was Set on Path to War, Memo by British Adviser Says (DON VAN NATTA Jr., 3/27/06, NY Times)

In the weeks before the United States-led invasion of Iraq, as the United States and Britain pressed for a second United Nations resolution condemning Iraq, President Bush’s public ultimatum to Saddam Hussein was blunt: Disarm or face war.

But behind closed doors, the president was certain that war was inevitable. During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons, said a confidential memo about the meeting written by Mr. Blair’s top foreign policy adviser and reviewed by The New York Times.

“Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,” David Manning, Mr. Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

“The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March,” Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. “This was when the bombing would begin.” […]

At several points during the meeting between Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair, there was palpable tension over finding a legitimate legal trigger for going to war that would be acceptable to other nations, the memo said. The prime minister was quoted as saying it was essential for both countries to lobby for a second United Nations resolution against Iraq, because it would serve as “an insurance policy against the unexpected.”

The memo said Mr. Blair told Mr. Bush, “If anything went wrong with the military campaign, or if Saddam increased the stakes by burning the oil wells, killing children or fomenting internal divisions within Iraq, a second resolution would give us international cover, especially with the Arabs.”

Mr. Bush agreed that the two countries should attempt to get a second resolution, but he added that time was running out. “The U.S. would put its full weight behind efforts to get another resolution and would twist arms and even threaten,” Mr. Bush was paraphrased in the memo as saying.

The document added, “But he had to say that if we ultimately failed, military action would follow anyway.”

Folks have continually underestimated the degree to which the WMD argument and the UN maneuvering were just favors that George Bush did for Tony Blair and Colin Powell and not things he ever cared much about. Indeed, he stunned the Brits by offering to let them not participate in the war if it was going to cause Mr. Blair too much domestic political trouble


THE EVEN MORE RADICAL SOLUTION…DEMOCRACY:

December 4, 2005

Sunnis seek seats, voice via ballots: In shift, leaders end boycott, back election (Thanassis Cambanis, December 4, 2005, Boston Globe)

Rival Sunni leaders have abandoned their past boycotts and have set aside their power struggles, creating electoral coalitions that bring together former religious groups, secular Iraqis, Ba’athists, and resistance sympathizers. Tribal Sunni Arab leaders even say they have an informal agreement with the insurgency to curb attacks in the Sunni heartland to maximize turnout in the vote on Dec. 15.

”If we enter the political process, we can push away the dangers that have massed against us in the last year, the revenge, the torture,” said Hussein al-Fallouji, a leader of an Islamic Sunni group that has joined forces with other Sunni political blocs to run in the election, which will choose the first Iraqi government under the new constitution. […]

At many radical mosques, imams who once counseled civil disobedience, election boycotts, and armed resistance against the US occupation now say voting can help Sunni Arabs claim their rightful place at the political table.

The Sunni still face a psychic break when they boost their turnpout percentage and then realize they’re only 20% of the population, but that’s the point at which they finally realize that federalism favors them.


FATE ACCOMPLI:

November 9, 2005

UN renews mandate for U.S.-led Iraq force (Warren Hoge, NOVEMBER 9, 2005, The New York Times)

The Security Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a one-year renewal of the United Nations mandate for the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq.

The resolution, sponsored by Britain, Denmark, Japan, Romania and the United States, extends the mandate until Dec. 31, 2006, but calls for a review of the decision by June 15, 2006, and allows for the termination of the mandate at any point if Iraq requests it.

The review clause was added as a compromise with the demands of France and Russia, which initially asked that the term be extended only six months, rather than a year.

The drawing-up of the measure was remarkably free of disputes on an issue that two years ago deeply divided the Security Council and threw relations between the United Nations and United States into turmoil.