It’s time for Americans to ask some big questions. Do leading Democrats want America to win this war? Have they ever?
Of course not–and not because they are traitors. To leading Democrats such as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Al Gore and John Edwards, America would be better off if she lost. And this has been true from the start.
To rephrase the question: Why did Harry Reid announce months ago that the war was lost when it wasn’t, and everyone knew it wasn’t? The wish is father to the deed. He was envisioning the world of his dreams.
The Democrats’ embrace of defeat is inspired by no base desire to see Americans killed or American resources wasted. But let’s be honest about it, and invite the Democrats to be honest too.
Appeasement, pacifism, globalism: Those are the Big Three principles of the Democratic left. Each one has been defended by serious people; all are philosophically plausible, or at least arguable. But they are unpopular (especially the first two) with the U.S. public, and so the Democrats rarely make their views plain. We must infer their ideas from their (usually) guarded public statements.
What’s beyond question is that something big went down on Sept. 6. Israeli sources had been telling me for months that their air force was intensively war-gaming attack scenarios against Syria; I assumed this was in anticipation of a second round of fighting with Hezbollah. On the morning of the raid, Israeli combat brigades in the northern Golan Heights went on high alert, reinforced by elite Maglan commando units. Most telling has been Israel’s blanket censorship of the story–unprecedented in the experience of even the most veteran Israeli reporters–which has also been extended to its ordinarily hypertalkative politicians. In a country of open secrets, this is, for once, a closed one.
The censorship helps dispose of at least one theory of the case. According to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Israel’s target was a cache of Iranian weapons destined for Hezbollah. But if that were the case, Israel would have every reason to advertise Damascus’s ongoing violations of Lebanese sovereignty, particularly on the eve of Lebanon’s crucial presidential election. Following the January 2002 Karine-A incident–in which Israeli frogmen intercepted an Iranian weapons shipment bound for Gaza–the government of Ariel Sharon wasted no time inviting reporters to inspect the captured merchandise. Had Orchard had a similar target, with similar results, it’s doubtful the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert–which badly needs to erase the blot of last year’s failed war–could have resisted turning it into a propaganda coup.
Proof of cooperation between Iran and Syria in the proliferation and development of weapons of mass destruction was brought to light Monday in a Jane’s Defence Weekly report that dozens of Iranian engineers and 15 Syrian officers were killed in a July 23 accident in Syria.
According to the report, cited by Channel 10, the joint Syrian-Iranian team was attempting to mount a chemical warhead on a Scud missile when the explosion occurred, spreading lethal chemical agents, including sarin nerve gas.
Reports of the accident were circulated at the time; however, no details were released by the Syrian government, and there were no hints of an Iranian connection.
We were in Baghdad, and the sheikh gave me his narrative. There was both candor and evasion in the story he told. Al Qaeda and its Arab jihadists had found sanctuary and support in the Anbar; they had recruited the “criminal elements” and the “lowly,” they had brought zeal and bigotry unknown to the Iraqis. Initially welcomed, they began to impose their own tyranny. They declared haram (impermissible) the normal range of social life. They banned cigarettes, they married the daughters of decent families without the permission of their elders. They violated the great code of decent society by “shedding the blood of travelers on routine voyages.” The prayer leaders of mosques were bullied, then murdered.
Abu Reisha and a small group of like-minded men, he said, came together to challenge al Qaeda. “We fought with our own weapons. I myself fought al Qaeda with my own funds. The Americans were slow to understand our sahwa, our awakening. But they have come around of late. The Americans are innocent; they don’t know Iraq. But all this is in the past, and now the Americans have a wise and able military commander on the scene, and the people of the Anbar have found their way. In the Anbar, they now know that the menace comes from Iran, not from the Americans.”
Is it five or ten or fifteen — years that are necessary to win wars of counterinsurgency such as Iraq? By now, Americans are well acquainted with such warnings that patience — along with political and economic reforms, not just arms — defeats guerrillas.
In these messy fights, Western nations can’t, for both practical and moral reasons, use the full advantages of overwhelming arms against terrorists that hide among civilians. Such conflicts are fought far from home for perceived long-term security interests, rather than the immediate survival of the United States. And when the rising cost in blood and treasure cannot be easily explained, restive voters often give up rather than insist on eventual victory.
When asked about Shiite militia domination of southern Iraq, Petraeus patiently went through the four provinces, one by one, displaying a degree of knowledge of the local players, terrain, and balance of power that no one in Washington — and few in Iraq — could match.
When Biden thought he had a gotcha — contradictions between Petraeus’s report on Iraqi violence and the less favorable one by the Government Accountability Office — Petraeus calmly pointed out that the GAO had to cut its data-gathering five weeks short to meet reporting requirements to Congress. And since those most recent five weeks had been particularly productive for the coalition, the GAO numbers were not only outdated but misleading.
For all the attempts by Democrats and the antiwar movement to discredit Petraeus, he won the congressional confrontation hands down. He demonstrated enough military progress from his new counterinsurgency strategy to conclude: “I believe we have a realistic chance of achieving our objectives in Iraq.”
September 11 was not the first and won’t be the last terrorist assault on our citizens and culture. And the subsequent factionalism and left/right bickering over the proper course to defeat the jihadists — whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, the courts, at the Hague, or the United Nations — did not originate solely after 9/11.
But the day reminded us that for a near-quarter century prior, only luck and the impotence — not the intent — of radical Muslims had prevented the murder of Americans on such a horrific scale. It re-taught to us, as would surely a second or third such attack, that in war there aren’t really good choices. Instead, once the fighting breaks out, only the bad choices either of incurring casualties and expense to prevent greater such losses to our civilization in the future, or (far worse) of inaction in hopes of searching for reason or decency where they are not to be found, remain.
While the news focus has been on the lowest ice extent since satellite monitoring began in 1979 for the Arctic, the Southern Hemisphere (Antarctica) has quietly set a new record for most ice extent since 1979.
This can be seen on this graphic from this University of Illinois site The Cryosphere Today, which updated snow and ice extent for both hemispheres daily. The Southern Hemispheric areal coverage is the highest in the satellite record, just beating out 1995, 2001, 2005 and 2006. Since 1979, the trend has been up for the total Antarctic ice extent.
This year I marked the anniversary of Sept. 11 by driving through Massachusetts. It wasn’t exactly planned that way, just the way things panned out. So, heading toward Boston, I tuned to Bay State radio talk-show colossus Howie Carr and heard him reading out portions from the official address to the 9/11 commemoration ceremony by Deval Patrick, who is apparently the governor of Massachusetts: 9/11, said Gov. Patrick, “was a mean and nasty and bitter attack on the United States.”
“Mean and nasty”? He sounds like an oversensitive waiter complaining that John Kerry’s sent back the aubergine coulisagain. But evidently that’s what passes for tough talk in Massachusetts these days – the shot heard around the world and so forth. Anyway, Gov. Patrick didn’t want to leave the crowd with all that macho cowboy rhetoric ringing in their ears, so he moved on to the nub of his speech: 9/11, he continued, “was also a failure of human beings to understand each other, to learn to love each other.”
I was laughing so much I lost control of the wheel, and the guy in the next lane had to swerve rather dramatically. He flipped me the Universal Symbol of Human Understanding. I certainly understood him, though I’m not sure I could learn to love him.