May 2004


From Brendan Miniter : Iraq, Then and Now : 5/27/2004

For more than a decade I believed that the first President Bush made a massive mistake in leaving Saddam Hussein in power in 1991. I almost voted against him for this wobbliness in 1992. But the longer the fight drags on in Iraq today, the more I thank God that the first Gulf War stopped with the liberation of Kuwait. This is no endorsement of Saddam’s final 12 years of rule, nor a repudiation of the invasion last year. But it’s time to face a hard truth: America cannot afford to be beaten in the sands of Iraq.

Let’s consider what would’ve happened had George H.W. Bush ordered the troops to go on to Baghdad in the first Gulf War. Whether in quiet desertion or mass protest, much of Europe and the Arab world would have turned against the American president in the face of a protracted insurgent war–and there is every reason to believe Saddam loyalists would have been much stronger then than they are today. Each ally’s departure would have emboldened domestic opponents, who were more numerous back then. (Only 10 of 56 Senate Democrats voted for the Gulf War, compared with 29 of 50 who backed Iraq’s liberation in 2002.) The impulse to withdraw with less than total victory would have been almost irresistible. And without seeing the war in moral terms, the first Bush administration would likely have buckled under the pressure.

Republicans didn’t control Congress at the time of the Gulf War, so the erosion of what little Democratic support there was would have doomed the war effort. Last week the House approved a defense bill north of $400 billion. Would a Democratic Congress have been willing to appropriate such a large sum to fight insurgents and rebuild Iraq in the run-up to the 1992 presidential election, at a time when the nation hadn’t been steeled by a terrorist attack on our own soil?

On the world stage, this would have been infinitely worse than Mogadishu. Osama bin Laden would have had the kind of victory he’d hoped for in Afghanistan in 2001–proof that a Muslim population could defeat the U.S. And domestic resolve would have been devastated.

Today we are facing a similar situation. With a presidential election approaching, domestic opposition to the war is growing ever more vocal. With J. Paul Bremer and Colin Powell promising that the U.S. will withdraw troops if the Iraqi government asks for as much after the June 30 transfer of sovereignty–which has prompted Katie Couric to sound a similar drum–it’s possible to imagine American GIs leaving Iraq with less than total victory.

The consequences of that would be devastating. After Sept. 11 President Bush made clear that the U.S. would not flinch in tracking down and killing or capturing terrorists. The government would do more than hunting individual men that are plotting to kill Americans. The military would uncover and dismantle terrorist training camps and, when necessary, topple terror-sponsoring regimes. Mr. Bush said the U.S. would make no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them. If America loses in Iraq now, the Bush Doctrine will be dead.

Vietnam is a cautionary example, though today’s defeatists look to America’s loss there as an inspiration. The Vietnam experience tells us most of what we need to know about John Kerry’s military vision and about those who will deliver us to evil, given the chance. A military struggle requires a sensible majority to insist on continuing the fight. Vietnam was the right thing to do, and in that case the majority gave in.

It’s not likely that this President Bush will buckle under the pressure. So the question is, will the American people?

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From George W. Bush: Speech at the U.S. Army War College : 5/24/2004:

Thank you all. Thank you and good evening. I’m honored to visit the Army War College. Generations of officers have come here to study the strategies and history of warfare. I’ve come here tonight to report to all Americans, and to the Iraqi people, on the strategy our nation is pursuing in Iraq and the specific steps we’re taking to achieve our goals.

The actions of our enemies over the last few weeks have been brutal, calculating and instructive. We’ve seen a car bombing take the life of a 61-year-old Iraqi named Izzadine Saleem, who was serving as president of the governing council. This crime shows our enemy’s intention to prevent Iraqi self-government, even if that means killing a lifelong Iraqi patriot and a faithful Muslim.

Mr. Saleem was assassinated by terrorists seeking the return of tyranny and the death of democracy.

We’ve also seen images of a young American facing decapitation. This vile display shows a contempt for all the rules of warfare and all the bounds of civilized behavior. It reveals a fanaticism that was not caused by any action of ours and would not be appeased by any concession.

We suspect that the man with the knife was an Al Qaeda associate named Zarqawi. He and other terrorists know that Iraq is now the central front in the war on terror, and we must understand that as well.

The return of tyranny to Iraq would be an unprecedented terrorist victory and a cause for killers to rejoice. It would also embolden the terrorists, leading to more bombings, more beheadings and more murders of the innocent around the world.

The rise of a free and self-governing Iraq will deny terrorists a base of operation, discredit their narrow ideology and give momentum to reformers across the region.

This will be a decisive blow to terrorism at the heart of its power and a victory for the security of America and the civilized world.

Our work in Iraq has been hard. Our coalition has faced changing conditions of war and that has required perseverance, sacrifice and an ability to adapt.

The swift removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime last spring had an unintended affect. Instead of being killed or captured on the battlefield, some of Saddam’s elite guards shed their uniforms and melted into the civilian population.

These elements of Saddam’s repressive regime and secret police have reorganized, rearmed and adopted sophisticated terrorist tactics. They’ve linked up with foreign fighters and terrorists. In a few cities, extremists have tried to sow chaos and seize regional power for themselves.

These groups and individuals have conflicting ambitions, but they share a goal. They hope to wear out the patience of Americans, our coalition and Iraqis before the arrival of effective self-government and before Iraqis have the capability to defend their freedom.

Iraq now faces a critical moment. As the Iraqi people move closer to governing themselves, the terrorists are likely to become more active and more brutal.

There are difficult days ahead, and the way forward may sometimes appear chaotic. Yet our coalition is strong and our efforts are focused and unrelenting, and no power of the enemy will stop Iraq’s progress.

Helping construct a stable democracy after decades of dictatorship is a massive undertaking. Yet we have a great advantage. Whenever people are given a choice in the matter, they prefer lives of freedom to lives of fear.

Our enemies in Iraq are good at filling hospitals, but they don’t build any. They can incite men to murder and suicide, but they cannot inspire men to live in hope and add to the progress of their country. The terrorists only influence is violence and their only agenda is death.

Our agenda, in contrast, is freedom and independence, security and prosperity for the Iraqi people.

And by removing a source of terrorist violence and instability in the Middle East, we also make our own country more secure.

Our coalition has a clear goal, understood by all: to see the Iraqi people in charge of Iraq for the first time in generations.

America’s task in Iraq is not only to defeat an enemy, it is to give strength to a friend — a free, representative government that serves its people and fights on their behalf.

And the sooner this goal is achieved, the sooner our job will be done.

There are five steps in our plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom: We will hand over authority to a sovereign Iraqi government; help establish security; continue rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure; encourage more international support; and move toward a national election that will bring forward new leaders empowered by the Iraqi people.

The first of these steps will occur next month, when our coalition will transfer full sovereignty to a government of Iraqi citizens who will prepare the way for national elections.

On June 30th, the Coalition Provisional Authority will cease to exist and will not be replaced. The occupation will end and Iraqis will govern their own affairs.

America’s ambassador to Iraq, John Negroponte, will present his credentials to the new president of Iraq. Our embassy in Baghdad will have the same purpose as any other American embassy: to assure good relations with a sovereign nation.

America and other countries will continue to provide technical experts to help Iraq’s ministries of government, but these ministries will report to Iraq’s new prime minister.

The United Nations special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, is now consulting with a broad spectrum of Iraqis to determine the composition of this interim government. The special envoy intends to put forward the names of interim government officials this week.

In addition to a president, two vice presidents and a prime minister, 26 Iraqi ministers will oversee government departments from health to justice to defense. This new government will be advised by a national council which will be chosen in July by Iraqis representing their country’s diversity.

This interim government will exercise full sovereignty until national elections are held.

America fully supports Mr. Brahimi’s efforts, and I have instructed the Coalition Provisional Authority to assist him in every way possible.

In preparation for sovereignty, many functions of government have already been transferred. Twelve government ministries are currently under the direct control of Iraqis.

The ministry of education, for example, is out of the propaganda business and is now concerned with educating Iraqi children. Under the direction of Dr. Ala’din al-Alwan, the ministry has trained more than 30,000 teachers and supervisors for the schools of a new Iraq.

All along, some have questioned whether the Iraqi people are ready for self-government, or want it, and all along, the Iraqi people have given their answers.

In settings where Iraqis have met to discuss their country’s future, they have endorsed representative government, and they are practicing representative government.

Many of Iraq’s cities and towns now have elected town councils and city governments, and beyond the violence a civil society is emerging.

The June 30th transfer of sovereignty is an essential commitment of our strategy.

Iraqis are proud people who resent foreign control of their affairs, just as we would. After decades under the tyrant, they are also reluctant to trust authority.

By keeping our promise on June 30th, the coalition will demonstrate that we have no interest in occupation. And full sovereignty will give Iraqis a direct interest in the success of their own government.

Iraqis will know that when they build a school or repair a bridge, they are not working for the Coalition Provisional Authority, they are working for themselves.

And when they patrol the streets of Baghdad or engage radical militias, they will be fighting for their own country.

The second step in the plan for Iraqi democracy is to help establish the stability and security that democracy requires.

Coalition forces and the Iraqi people have the same enemies: the terrorists, illegal militia and Saddam loyalists who stand between the Iraqi people and their future as a free nation. Working as allies, we will defend Iraq and defeat these enemies.

America will provide forces and support necessary for achieving these goals.

Our commanders had estimated that a troop level below 115,000 would be sufficient at this point in the conflict. Given the recent increase in violence, we will maintain our troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary.

This has required extended duty for the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Light Cavalry Regiment — 20,000 men and women who were scheduled to leave Iraq in April. Our nation appreciates their hard work and sacrifice, and they can know that they will be heading home soon.

General Abizaid and other commanders in Iraq are constantly assessing the level of troops they need to fulfill the mission. If they need more troops, I will send them.

The mission of our forces in Iraq is demanding and dangerous. Our troops are showing exceptional skill and courage.

I thank them for their sacrifices and their duty.

In the city of Fallujah there has been considerable violence by Saddam loyalists and foreign fighters, including the murder of four American contractors. American soldiers and Marines could have used overwhelming force.

Our commanders, however, consulted with Iraq’s governing council and local officials and determined that massive strikes against the enemy would alienate the local population and increase support for the insurgency.

So we have pursued a different approach. We’re making security a shared responsibility in Fallujah. Coalition commanders have worked with local leaders to create an all-Iraqi security force, which is now patrolling the city.

Our soldiers and Marines will continue to disrupt enemy attacks on our supply routes, conduct joint patrols with Iraqis to destroy bomb factories and safe houses, and kill or capture any enemy.

We want Iraqi forces to gain experience and confidence in dealing with their country’s enemies. We want the Iraqi people to know that we trust their growing capabilities, even as we help build them.

At the same time, Fallujah must cease to be a sanctuary for the enemy. And those responsible for terrorism will be held to account.

In the cities of Najaf and Karbala and Kufa, most of the violence has been decided by a young radical cleric who commands an illegal militia. These enemies have been hiding behind an innocent civilian population, storing arms and ammunition in mosques and launching attacks from holy shrines.

Our soldiers have treated religious sites with respect, while systematically dismantling the illegal militia.

We’re also seeing Iraqis themselves take more responsibility for restoring order. In recent weeks, Iraqi forces have ejected elements of this militia from the governor’s office in Najaf.

Yesterday, an elite Iraqi unit cleared out a weapons cache from a large mosque in Kufa.

Respected Shia leaders have called on the militia to withdraw from these towns. Ordinary Iraqis have marched in protest against the militants. As challenges rise in Fallujah, Najaf and elsewhere, the tactics of our military will be flexible.

Commanders on the ground will pay close attention to local conditions and we will do all that is necessary by measured force or overwhelming force to achieve a stable Iraq.

Iraq’s military police and border forces have begun to take on broader responsibilities. Eventually, they must be the primary defenders of Iraqi security as American and coalition forces are withdrawn. And we’re helping them to prepare for this role.

In some cases, the early performance of Iraqi forces fell short. Some refused orders to engage the enemy. We’ve learned from these failures and we’ve taken steps to correct them.

Successful fighting units need a sense of cohesion so we’ve lengthened and intensified their training. Successful units need to know they are fighting for the future of their own country, not for any occupying power. So we are ensuring that Iraqi forces serve under an Iraqi chain of command.

Successful fighting units need the best possible leadership. So we improved the vetting and training of Iraqi officers and senior enlisted men.

At my direction and with the support of Iraqi authorities, we are accelerating our program to help train Iraqis to defend their country.

A new team of senior military officers is now assessing every unit in Iraq’s security forces. I’ve asked this team to oversee the training of a force of 260,000 Iraqi soldiers, police and other security personnel. Five Iraqi army battalions are in the field now, with another eight battalions to join them by July 1st.

The eventual goal is an Iraqi army of 35,000 soldiers in 27 battalions fully prepared to defend their country.

After June 30th, American and other forces will still have important duties. American military forces in Iraq will operate under American command as a part of a multinational force authorized by the United Nations.

Iraq’s new sovereign government will still face enormous security challenges and our forces will be there to help.

The third step in the plan for Iraqi democracy is to continue rebuilding that nation’s infrastructure so that a free Iraq can quickly gain economic independence and a better quality of life.

Our coalition has already helped Iraqis to rebuild schools and refurbish hospitals and health clinics, repair bridges, upgrade the electrical grid and modernize the communication system.

And now a growing private economy is taking shape. A new currency has been introduced. Iraq’s governing council approved a new law that opens the country to foreign investment for the first time in decades. Iraq has liberalized its trade policy. And today, an Iraqi observer attends meetings of the World Trade Organization.

Iraqi oil production has reached more than 2 million barrels per day, bringing revenues of nearly $6 billion so far this year, which is being used to help the people of Iraq.

And thanks in part to our efforts, to the efforts of former Secretary of State James Baker, many of Iraq’s largest creditors have pledged to forgive or substantially reduce Iraqi debt incurred by the former regime.

We’re making progress. Yet there still is much work to do.

Over the decades of Saddam’s rule, Iraq’s infrastructure was allowed to crumble while money was diverted to palaces and to war and to weapons programs.

We’re urging other nations to contribute to Iraqi reconstruction, and 37 countries, and the IMF and the World Bank, have so far pledged $13.5 billion in aid.

America has dedicated more than $20 billion to reconstruction and development projects in Iraq.

To ensure our money is spent wisely and effectively, our new embassy in Iraq will have regional offices in several key cities. These offices will work closely with Iraqis at all levels of government to help make sure projects are completed on time and on budget.

A new Iraq will also need a humane, well-supervised prison system. Under the dictator, prisons like Abu Ghraib were symbols of death and torture. That same prison became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values.

America will fund the construction of a modern maximum security prison.

When that prison is completed, detainees at Abu Ghraib will be relocated. Then with the approval of the Iraqi government, we will demolish the Abu Ghraib Prison as a fitting symbol of Iraq’s new beginning.

The fourth step in our plan is to enlist additional international support for Iraq’s transition.

At every stage, the United States has gone to the United Nations to confront Saddam Hussein, to promise serious consequences for his actions and to begin Iraqi reconstruction.

Today the United States and Great Britain presented a new resolution in the Security Council to help move Iraq toward self-government.

I directed Secretary Powell to work with fellow members of the council to endorse the timetable the Iraqis have adopted, to express international support for Iraq’s interim government, to reaffirm the world’s security commitment to the Iraqi people and to encourage other U.N. members to join in the effort.

Despite past disagreements, most nations have indicated strong support for the success of a free Iraq, and I am confident they will share in the responsibility of assuring that success.

Next month at the NATO summit in Istanbul, I will thank our 15 NATO allies who together have more than 17,000 troops on the ground in Iraq.

Great Britain and Poland are each leading a multinational division that is securing important parts of the country. And NATO itself is giving helpful intelligence and communications and logistical support to the Polish-led division.

At the summit, we will discuss NATO’s role in helping Iraq build and secure its democracy.

The fifth, and most important step is free national elections, to be held no later than next January.

A United Nations team headed by Carina Perelli is now in Iraq helping form an independent election commission that will oversee an orderly accurate national election. In that election, the Iraqi people will choose a transitional national assembly, the first freely elected, truly representative national governing body in Iraq’s history.

This assembly will serve as Iraq’s legislature and it will choose a transitional government with executive powers. The transitional national assembly will also draft a new constitution, which will be presented to the Iraqi people in a referendum scheduled for the fall of 2005.

Under this new constitution, Iraq will elect a permanent government by the end of next year.

In this time of war and liberation and rebuilding, American soldiers and civilians on the ground have come to know and respect the citizens of Iraq. They’re a proud people who hold strong and diverse opinions.

Yet Iraqis are united in a broad and deep conviction. They’re determined never again to live at the mercy of a dictator.

And they believe that a national election will put that dark time behind them.

A representative government that protects basic rights, elected by Iraqis, is the best defense against the return of tyranny. And that election is coming.

Completing the five steps to Iraqi elected self-government will not be easy. There’s likely to be more violence before the transfer of sovereignty and after the transfer of sovereignty. The terrorists and Saddam loyalists would rather see many Iraqis die than have any live in freedom.

But terrorists will not determine the future of Iraq.

That nation is moving every week toward free elections and a permanent place among free nations.

Like every nation that has made the journey to democracy, Iraqis will raise up a government that reflects their own culture and values.

I sent American troops to Iraq to defend our security, not to stay as an occupying power. I sent American troops to Iraq to make its people free, not to make them American.

Iraqis will write their own history and find their own way.

As they do, Iraqis can be certain a free Iraq will always have a friend in the United States of America.

In the last 32 months, history has placed great demands on our country and events have come quickly.

Americans have seen the flames of September 11th, followed battles in the mountains of Afghanistan and learned new terms like orange alert and ricin and dirty bomb.

We’ve seen killers at work on trains in Madrid, in a bank in Istanbul, in a synagogue in Tunis and at a nightclub in Bali. And now the families of our soldiers and civilian workers pray for their sons and daughters in Mosul, in Karbala, in Baghdad.

We did not seek this war on terror, but this is the world as we find it. We must keep our focus. We must do our duty.

History is moving and it will tend toward hope or tend toward tragedy.

Our terrorist enemies have a vision that guides and explains all their varied acts of murder. They seek to impose Taliban-like rule country by country across the greater Middle East.

They seek the total control of every person in mind and soul; a harsh society in which women are voiceless and brutalized. They seek bases of operation to train more killers and export more violence. They commit dramatic acts of murder to shock, frighten and demoralize civilized nations, hoping we will retreat from the world and give them free rein.

They seek weapons of mass destruction to impose their will through blackmail and catastrophic attacks.

None of this is the expression of a religion. It is a totalitarian, political ideology pursued with consuming zeal and without conscious.

Our actions, too, are guided by a vision.

We believe that freedom can advance and change lives in the greater Middle East as it has advanced and changed lives in Asia, in Latin America, in Eastern Europe and Africa. We believe it is a tragedy of history that in the Middle East, which gave the world great gifts of law and science and faith, so many have been held back by lawless tyranny and fanaticism.

We believe that when all Middle Eastern peoples are finally allowed to live and think and work and worship as free men and women, they will reclaim the greatness of their own heritage. And when that day comes, the bitterness and burning hatreds that feed terrorism will fade and die away.

America and all the world will be safer when hope has returned to the Middle East. These two visions — one of tyranny and murder, the other of liberty and life — clashed in Afghanistan. And thanks to brave U.S. and coalition forces and to Afghan patriots, the nightmare of the Taliban is over and that nation is coming to life again.

These two visions have now met in Iraq and are contending for the future of that country.

The failure of freedom would only mark the beginning of peril and violence. But, my fellow Americans, we will not fail. We will persevere and defeat this enemy and hold this hard-won ground for the realm of liberty.

May God bless our country.

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From Joel Mowbray : Media’s Selective Outrage, by the Numbers : 5/21/2004

To the casual observer, the situation in Iraq is bleak, the Iraqi people don’t really want democracy, and the only worthwhile story is the brutality and intimidation of Iraqi prisoners.

To the "casual observer" of the mainstream media, that is.

Although common sense and a semi-continuous pulse would be enough to notice the media’s pack mentality in its Iraq coverage, the numbers paint a compelling—and disturbing—picture.

On any given day, Americans are treated to maybe a dozen stories highlighting the good deeds being done by coalition forces—building bridges, literally and figuratively, and generally improving daily life for ordinary Iraqis—and that’s among all cable news outlets and hundreds of newspapers and magazines.

How many Americans know about the five million Iraqis who are now returning to school or the many non-Baathist professionals who are now finally starting to earn a decent salary?

We’ve been inundated with literally thousands of hand-wringing stories about the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. The media’s obsession is to some degree understandable given the images, as a visual component inherently gives any story that much more life.

But all that can be said about the savage slaughter of American Nicholas Berg at the hands of terrorists—on video—and then some.

The disparity is striking. The numbers speak for themselves.

From May 11 to May 19, there were more than 6,600 stories in the Lexis-Nexis news database with "Abu Ghraib" somewhere in the text. During the same span, there were just over 3,000 with both "Berg" and "Iraq."

To fully appreciate the significance of those statistics, though, the prisoner abuse story was already two weeks old at that point, and the news of Berg’s beheading broke on May 11.

Why is this important? Because the "noise"—the collective impact of news from various sources—has been so focused on Abu Ghraib, the political backdrop is the savagery of Americans, not that of the terrorists we are fighting.

In some respects, the terrorists are winning more favorable coverage.

The terrorists who cut off the 26-year-old American’s head claimed their brutality was revenge for the prisoner abuses. The news media bit. More than half of all stories on Berg mentioned Abu Ghraib, with many leading newspapers running the story with "revenge" or "vengeance" in the headline.

But since when can terrorists be taken at face value? Just because the terrorists claim a certain motive doesn’t mean it is so. Before the Abu Ghraib photos surfaced, terrorists didn’t exactly lack for motivation to kill Americans.

With all the attention on "revenge" or "vengeance," another possible motive has been almost universally ignored.

Less than 10% of stories on Berg stated that he was Jewish, not an unimportant fact when radical Islamic terrorists say "Death to Israel" or "Death to the Jews" like most people breathe.

It’s plausible that Berg’s religion was not a factor in his death. But according to news reports, he had an Israeli stamp in his passport, and it’s more than likely that his murderers knew he was Jewish.

At the very least, it is an important data point that cannot be ignored.

But ignoring is something at which the media specialize.

Consider that during the same May 11 – May 19 period, there were more than 2,500 stories on Fallujah or Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shi’ite cleric who is leading a spirited rebellion—with relatively few followers—in the south.

The particular focus on al-Sadr, in fact, has enhanced the perception among many Americans that Shi’ites are radicals who oppose the very concept of democracy.

And why wouldn’t they believe that when the mainstream media has produced precious few stories on the many peaceful demonstrations—led by Shi’ites—calling for al-Sadr to lay down his arms? Look at the numbers: of the 1,571 stories in Lexis-Nexis on al-Sadr, only 31 also contain "peaceful demonstration" (or its plural).

With the June 30 deadline to transfer power to the Iraqi people approaching, the Washington Post on Wednesday offered the following page-one headline: "U.S. Faces Growing Fears of Failure." Media groupthink dictates that the next buzzword to watch is "failure."

Kinda describes the media’s selective outrage in covering the war in Iraq, doesn’t it?

Neal Boortz puts it another way:

I don’t get a printed version of the Washington Post every day, so I cannot say for sure what can and what cannot be found in the pages of that newspaper. I’m betting, though, that in the past two weeks you haven’t found one single story in the Post highlighting things that are going right in Iraq. Not one story about locals befriending American troops. Not one story about the growing Iraqi economy, commerce in Baghdad’s shopping districts, new home construction, new schools, new electric service, satellite television receivers sprouting like mushrooms … not one story.

Ahhhh … but then there’s the story about prison abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison. Today the Post releases yet another batch of photos from the prison. It’s as if the Post’s editors are demanding that the presses not roll until new pictures are prepared for the front page.

OK … we get it! Some American soldiers abused — not tortured, abused — Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib. Those American soldiers are being punished. One has already been sentenced to a year in jail and is receiving a bad conduct discharge. Other trials are pending. The system is working. What is the purpose of continuously hammering this story day after day after day?

Oh … we all know what the purpose is. This is a story that hurts George Bush. This is a story that diminishes public support for the Iraqi front of the war on terror. This is a story that comforts those who despise America … and George Bush.

As I’ve said before … remember the media template. If the story would help Bush, like the beheading of Nick Berg, downplay it. If the story could hurt Bush, like the prison abuse situation, ram it down the reader’s throat every single day until it completely runs out of steam. The goal here is to defeat Bush, not to give a fair and objective look at what is going on in our war on terror.

Question: How do you think America would have fared in World War II if the media had obsessed over stories of wrongdoing by American troops? Wouldn’t the Nazis have loved to have seen coverage in American newspapers detailing civilian deaths in the bombing raids on German industrial and military targets? Couldn’t you see the German high command grinning broadly as they read of demonstrations in the United States demanding an end to the bombings? How many more American deaths would it have taken to finish the job if today’s media had been covering yesterday’s war?

This isn’t World War II. This is World War IV. It’s the war against Islamic terrorism. It has nothing to do with our support of the state of Israel. It is a war against a radical and bloodthirsty element of Islam that grows stronger with every depiction of America as the bad guys. These Islamo-fascist murderers don’t merely want the infidels out of the Middle East, they want and are by Allah determined to achieve a world dominated by radical Islam. They want you living under their Islamic law, whether you wish to convert to their religion or not. They have attacked us on our own soil, and they plan to do so again. Earlier this week we heard warnings that Al Qaeda was anxious to use either a chemical or biological weapon against Americans at home. Today we read of warnings from the FBI to local law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for possible Islamic suicide bombers on American soil.

We have a class of people in this country, call them liberals, progressives, Democrats, socialists, elitists, intellectuals … call them what you like — but we have a class of people in this country who harbor such an intense hatred for George Bush, economic liberty, capitalism, the American culture and American political strength that they will sacrifice the safety and liberty of future generations of Americans just to see America disgraced in the Middle East and George Bush pushed out of the White House in November.

It’s tragic enough that we have to be fighting yet another World War at this time in our history. It’s even more tragic that we seem to have so many Americans who are actively pulling for the other side.

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Breaking news - this just in! In front of a supportive crowd in France(!), neo-liberal and sure Academy Award Winner Michael Moore made a surprise move and criticizes President Bush. Unlike earlier claims falsely accusing Disney censorship, this news is unlikely to be related to promoting his movie criticizing President Bush (remembering Moore’s earlier comment: "This is not an anti-Bush diatribe.") Reuters : Director Moore Tears Into Bush at Cannes Festival : 5/17/2004

CANNES, France (Reuters) - American film-maker Michael Moore’s "Fahrenheit 9/11," a savage indictment of President Bush’s handling of Iraq and the war on terror, was cheered and applauded at the Cannes film festival Monday.

Film critics were warm in praise of the controversial director who later called in a news conference for America to pull out of Iraq.

"It is a such total mess. Their way of doing things has offended so many people," Moore said.

The Oscar-winning director’s fast-moving film is a telling work of propaganda by a moviemaker whose mission to deride Bush exudes from every frame.

It focuses on how America and the White House reacted to the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacking attacks and traces links between the Bush family and prominent Saudis, including the family of Osama bin Laden,

"We had a president who was asleep at the wheel," Moore said.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" has already whipped up an international media storm after the Walt Disney Co barred its Miramax film unit from releasing such a politically polarizing work in a U.S. election year.

"I hope it comes out in America this year," said Moore.

"I do think it is important to care at times like this. This time I was the straight man and Bush wrote the funniest lines," he added of a film that constantly mocks the president. "The fish rots from the head down."

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush’s closest war ally, gets only a brief mention in the film but Moore said after the screening: "What is he doing hanging out with a guy like George W. Bush? I have never understood that — it’s the weirdest couple I have ever seen."

Two years ago, the director’s anti-gun lobby documentary "Bowling for Columbine" grabbed the headlines at Cannes and went on to gross $120 million worldwide and win him an Oscar.

In the light of the current controversy over pictures of Iraqi prisoners being abused, his latest film is right up to date in showing American soldiers in the field mocking and posing with hooded Iraqi prisoners.

"This is the first footage of abuse and humiliation of these Iraqi detainees," Moore said.

As the film starts, the screen goes dark. The sound is of planes crashing into the Twin Towers before the grief of victims’ families is contrasted with Bush sitting, apparently impassively, in a Florida schoolroom for nine minutes after hearing the news.

Moore, using a mocking soundtrack to great effect, shows members of the bin Laden family being flown out of the U.S. after September 11. Up surges the song: "I gotta get out of this place."

In Washington, Moore is shown on a bizarre recruiting drive.

He stops Congressmen in the street and asks if they might consider sending their children as soldiers to Iraq. "What do you think of that idea?" he asks before getting the brush-off.

The film shows the raw emotion of Lila Lipscomb, doubled up with grief outside the White House as she contemplates the death of her soldier son in Iraq.

In one of the most moving scenes, she reads out the last letter received from him before his death.

Telling how she collapses on hearing the news over the phone, she said: "Your flesh just aches. You’re not supposed to bury your own son."

You know, there are a lot of people who accuse each other of politicizing events. To turn 9/11 and this war into a movie like this is disappointing. I’m sure that Ms. Lipscomb is overcome with grief, as are the other family members who have lost a loved one who volunteered to be in the service. Does this film capturing her grief bring closure or honor her son’s memory? I doubt it. But I hope she can find peace.

Regarding ‘offending’ so many people, I think I have to agree with Neal Boortz, who offered his opinion today on the edict to avoid American flag displays at the Olympics:

The people of the United States should be proud of what we’re doing in Iraq. We’ve liberated tens of millions of people from one of history’s most despotic regimes. We are attacking terrorism in the very region that spawns it. We are carrying the water for the gutless United Nations, which didn’t have the nads to enforce its own resolutions. If Bush will get back on tract and renew his allegiance to his own "Bush Doctrine" our actions in the middle east will be noted by historians as noble, not wrong. I am more proud of our flag today than I have been in many years … and I want to see it flying at the Olympics. Let those who envy us or hate us just suffer.

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News flash: Fox News : Sarin, Mustard Gas Discovered Separately in Iraq: 5/17/2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq — A roadside bomb containing sarin nerve agent recently exploded near a U.S. military convoy, the U.S. military said Monday.

Bush administration officials told Fox News that mustard gas was also recently discovered.

Two people were treated for "minor exposure" after the sarin incident but no serious injuries were reported. Soldiers transporting the shell for inspection suffered symptoms consistent with low-level chemical exposure, which is what led to the discovery, a U.S. official told Fox News.

"The Iraqi Survey Group confirmed today that a 155-millimeter artillery round containing sarin nerve agent had been found," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief military spokesman in Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad. "The round had been rigged as an IED (improvised explosive device) which was discovered by a U.S. force convoy."

The round detonated before it would be rendered inoperable, Kimmitt said, which caused a "very small dispersal of agent."

A senior Bush administration official told Fox News that the sarin gas shell is the second chemical weapon discovered recently.

Two weeks ago, U.S. military units discovered mustard gas that was used as part of an IED. Tests conducted by the Iraqi Survey Group and others concluded the mustard gas was "stored improperly," which made the gas "ineffective."

They believe the mustard gas shell may have been one of 550 for which former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein failed to account when he made his weapons declaration shortly before Operation Iraqi Freedom began last year.

Investigators are trying to determine how insurgents obtained these weapons — whether they were looted or supplied.

It also appears some top Pentagon officials were taken by surprise by Kimmitt’s announcement of the sarin discovery; they thought the matter was classified, administration officials told Fox News.

Kimmitt said the shell belonged to a class of ordnance that Saddam Hussein’s government said was destroyed before the 1991 Gulf war. Experts believe both the sarin and mustard gas weapons date back to the Persian Gulf War.

"It was a weapon that we believe was stocked from the ex-regime time and it had been thought to be an ordinary artillery shell set up to explode like an ordinary IED and basically from the detection of that and when it exploded, it indicated that it actually had some sarin in it," Kimmitt said.

The incident occurred "a couple of days ago," he added. The discovery reportedly occurred near Baghdad International Airport.

It was the first announcement of the discovery of such a weapon on which Washington made its case for war. Washington officials say the significance of the find is that some chemical shells do still exist in Iraq, and it’s thought that fighters there may be upping their attacks on U.S. forces by using such weapons.

The Iraqi Survey Group is a U.S. organization whose task was to search for weapons of mass destruction after the ouster of Saddam Hussein in last year’s invasion.

The round was an old "binary-type" shell in which two chemicals held in separate sections are mixed after firing to produce sarin, Kimmitt said.

He said he believed that insurgents who rigged the artillery shell as a bomb didn’t know it contained the nerve agent, and that the dispersal of the nerve agent from such a rigged device was very limited.

"The former regime had declared all such rounds destroyed before the 1991 Gulf War," Kimmitt said. "Two explosive ordinance team members were treated for minor exposure to nerve agent as a result of the partial detonation of the round."

The shell had no markings. It appears the binary sarin agents didn’t mix, which is why there weren’t serious injuries from the initial explosion, a U.S. official told Fox News.

Not everyone found the deadly artillery surprising.

"Everybody knew Saddam had chemical weapons, the question was, where did they go. Unfortunately, everybody jumped on the offramp and said ‘well, because we didn’t find them, he didn’t have them,’" said Fox News military analyst Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney.

"I doubt if it’s the tip of the iceberg but it does confirm what we’ve known … that he [Saddam Hussein] had weapons of mad destruction that he used on his own people," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told Fox News. "This does show that the fear we had is very real. Now whether there is much more of this we don’t know, Iraq is the size of the state of California."

But there were more than weapons to the need to depose of Saddam, he added. "We considered Saddam Hussein a threat not just because of weapons of mass destruction," Grassley said.

Iraqi Scientist: You Will Find More

Gazi George, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist under Saddam’s regime, told Fox News that he believes many similar weapons stockpiled by the former regime were either buried underground or transported to Syria. He noted that the airport where the device was detonated is on the way to Baghdad from the Syrian border.

George said the finding likely will just be the first in a series of discoveries of such weapons.

"Saddam is the type who will not store those materials in a military warehouse. He’s gonna store them either underground, or, as I said, lots of them have gone west to Syria and are being brought back with the insurgencies," George told Fox News. "It is difficult to look in areas that are not obvious to the military’s eyes."

"I’m sure they’re going to find more once time passes," he continued, saying one year is not enough for the survey group or the military to find the weapons.

Saddam, when he was in power, had declared that he did in fact possess mustard-gas filled artilleries but none that included sarin.

"I think what we found today, the sarin in some ways, although it’s a nerve gas, it’s a lucky situation sarin detonated in the way it did … it’s not as dangerous as the cocktails Saddam used to make, mixing blister agents with other gases and substances," George said.

Officials: Discovery Is ‘Significant’

U.S. officials told Fox News that the shell discovery is a "significant" event.

Artillery shells of the 155-mm size are about as big as it gets when it comes to the ordnance lobbed by infantry-based artillery units. The 155 howitzer can launch high capacity shells over several miles; current models used by the United States can fire shells as far as 14 miles. One official told Fox News that a conventional 155-mm shell could hold as much as "two to five" liters of sarin, which is capable of killing thousands of people under the right conditions in highly populated areas.

The Iraqis were very capable of producing such shells in the 1980s but it’s not as clear that they continued after the first Gulf War, so officials are reluctant to guess the age of the shell or the capacity of the Iraqis prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom to produce such shells.

In 1995, Japan’s Aum Shinrikyo cult unleashed sarin gas in Tokyo’s subways, killing 12 people and sickening thousands. In February of this year, Japanese courts convicted the cult’s former leader, Shoko Asahara, and sentence him to be executed.

Developed in the mid-1930s by Nazi scientists, a single drop of sarin can cause quick, agonizing choking death. There are no known instances of the Nazis actually using the gas.

Nerve gases work by inhibiting key enzymes in the nervous system, blocking their transmission. Small exposures can be treated with antidotes, if administered quickly.

Antidotes to nerve gases similar to sarin are so effective that top poison gas researchers predict they eventually will cease to be a war threat.

The account from MSNBC (Bomb containing deadly sarin explodes in Iraq) describes the same story, but did add a couple extra points:

But David Kay, the former chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq, said the discovery does not provide evidence that Saddam was secretly producing weapons of mass destruction after the Gulf War, as alleged by the Bush administration to justify the war that removed him from power.

"I think all of us have known that because of the sheer volume of artillery (containing agents like sarin that were in the Iraqi arsenal prior to the Gulf War) … that there were likely to be some of these still around Iraq," he told MSNBC TV. "But (the discovery) doesn’t speak to the issue of whether weapons of mass destruction were still being produced in Iraq in the mid-1990s."

Reuters (U.S. Assessing Reports of Sarin Gas in Iraq) tossed in:

The discovery held the possibility of good and bad news for the administration — good in that it could support long-unproven claims that Iraq possessed such weapons, cited by the administration as a reason to invade Iraq, and bad that attempts were now being made to use the weapons against U.S. occupiers.

A hate to quibble, but this is not a "good news, bad news" situation. Saddam had the capabilities to produce the stuff. The world knew that. Saddam had used the stuff before. The world knew that. Saddam said that he had destroyed everything. He didn’t. The world really knew that too, but apparently wanted him to stay in power, we went through twelve years of on-again, off-again ‘inspections’. Whether the bribes coming from the UN ‘Oil for Food’ program were the sole motivation for wishing him in power in unlikely, but I’m sure that had an effect as well for some people.

So Saddam had the capability. Saddam lied about the old weapons. While Saddam’s expansionist foray into another Arab neighbor was stopped in GWI.

Did Saddam have the capability to make more munitions after GWI? Is there hard evidence of a nuclear program which was beginning to bear fruit? For those questions, this discovery does not make it clear. There is no ‘best if used by’ tag attached. Where are the stockpiles? Oh wait, there aren’t likely to be stockpiles, and even when packaged as ordinance there is no distinguishing markings. I’m sure that the insurgents that wired up the shell to explode were very disappointed. They weren’t trying to launch an chemical gas attack. They wanted to try to blow up three guys in a Humvee by making the shell explode. And if a few innocent kids on their way to school happened to get caught up in it… so be it. But they couldn’t tell what they had either. Remember that when someone keeps yacking that we couldn’t find the WMD.

I know this won’t make the WMD cries disappear - we are already seeing the apologists explain how this doesn’t mean anything.

The road in Iraq is difficult. It will likely remain difficult for a while to come. Many forces want to stop the transition of power to the Iraqi Governing Council for selfish reasons. Certain ‘clerics’ will not have the power they have now if there is any hint of democracy. Certain foreign ‘fighters’ may not be so welcome anymore as people get around to trying to bring their lives back to order. There will almost certainly be more bombs and bloodshed in the days to come. But remember, the people who are doing this are not trying to get our resolve to break because of the bad job we are doing. They are very fearful of the good job that’s taking place. A removal of the status quo of power. If they can keep the illusion that the US is not going to keep their word and turn over power (in an almost unprecidented short amount of time), they win.

Don’t give in to the urge to run and hide. We must be strong and finish the job. And continue to try to find the rest of this junk, wherever it is.

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Why are we fighting - I think that Paul Greenberg sums it up well:
Paul Greenberg : Invitation to a beheading : 5/17/2004

Every time I wonder whether the American people will have the heart and will to see this worldwide struggle against terror through, I soon realize I needn’t worry.

Because we will soon enough be reminded of the nature of the threat against us, and of the character of our enemy in this struggle - whether in Iraq or Afghanistan, at home or around the world.

It happened again this week: another bloody beheading for the edification of Web watchers everywhere.

This - and worse - will continue to happen until these people are utterly defeated. Until they are, they will remain an unremitting danger. Because their aim, their will, their unrelenting barbarism is as clear as these televised pictures. Their aim is to kill us.

And as much as we would like to put off this confrontation, or walk away from this whole bloody mess, and escape the inescapable reality paraded before us on the latest video, we can’t. We can’t deny the undeniable. Not for long. For there it is. Right before our eyes. Again. And the nature of the threat we face has been made clear once more. As clear as the continuous loop of September 11th images we once thought we’d never forget.

No, the atrocities in this war have not been limited to one side. We must face that awful reality, too. The difference is that we are ashamed of ours, while our enemy is proud of his.

We want to know how Americans could do such things. We seek justice, and vow this shall not happen again.

But the enemy proudly trumpets his crime. He thinks we will be cowed. He doesn’t know us. But we are beginning to know him. And we begin to understand: This scourge will have to be wiped out, no matter how long it takes, or no one decent will be safe - American or Arab, Christian or Muslim or Jew . . . .

Look at these latest pictures proudly beamed around the world. These people live to kill. And they are out to kill as many of us as they can reach, and usher in a new, dark age in which the only law is their terror.

Yes, this is a complicated struggle with many elements, but one thing it doesn’t have, this struggle between us and them, is any kind of moral equivalence.

Every year an award is given in the name of perhaps the most eloquent American jurist since John Marshall. This year the Learned Hand Medal for Excellence in Federal Jurisprudence went to The Hon. Michael B. Mukasey, chief judge of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and, by a poetic twist, Chief Judge Learned Hand’s old court. Here is how Judge Mukasey began his acceptance speech - with a new twist on what may be Learned Hand’s best known utterance:

"Learned Hand, among the last century’s greatest judges, defined the spirit of liberty 60 years ago as ‘the spirit that is not too sure it is right.’ We must consider what message we can take from those words today. We are now in a struggle with a form of extremism that expresses itself in the form of terror attacks, and in that struggle we face what is probably the gravest threat to this country’s institutions, if not to its physical welfare, since the Civil War. When one tries to assess people who can find it in themselves to fly airplanes into buildings and murder 3,000 of us in a single morning, whatever else you can say about such people, they are very sure that they are right; and wouldn’t it be music to their ears to hear that our spirit says we’re not too sure that we are right?"

We are not always right, Lord knows, as we have found out again of late. But of this much we can be sure: Our enemy is wrong, terribly wrong. And dangerous. And he is counting on us to grow weary, to doubt our cause, to let down our guard and turn our back once more. So he can strike again.

But every time I wonder whether the American people will have the heart and will to see this worldwide struggle against terror through, I soon realize I needn’t worry. Because we will soon enough be reminded of the nature of the threat against us, and of the character of our enemy in this struggle.

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The horrific beheading of Nick Berg in Iraq has to remind everyone of the proper perspective. Five hooded men killed an innocent man, supposedly in revenge for the Abu Ghraib prison abuses. This is not about Abu Ghraib at all… it’s this type of mentality that we have to face. This, of course, is the same logic that makes the victim responsible for the crime against him.

One take, fueled by outrage, from Neal Boortz:
(Neal Boortz : DO YOU SEE WHO WE’RE DEALING WITH HERE? : 5/12/2004)

For days now the world’s media has been full of stories about the abuse of prisoners at the now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Let’s review. We had pictures of Iraqi prisoners in a pile, pictures of an Iraqi prisoner wearing a leash held by an female American soldier. There was a picture of another Iraqi prisoner being intimidated by dogs and one standing on a box with a hood over his head and some wires attached to his hands. Strong stuff, right? And ohhhhh … the outrage!

Now … what pictures did we see yesterday? We saw pictures of brave Arabs redeeming their manhood by beheading an American civilian named Nick Berg. These peace-loving Muslims first read a statement, then they pushed Berg to the floor and proceeded to saw off his head with a large knife while shouting "God is great." You could hear Nick Berg screaming .. right up until the time the knife went through his windpipe. When they were finished these brave Arabs, their manhood redeemed, held up his head for the camera.

Suddenly the pictures of what happened in the Abu Ghraib prison don’t seem to be quite so horrific, do they? The victims of abuse at the hands of U.S. soldiers will be compensated by United States taxpayers. Nick Berg will be buried … in two pieces.

Compare the two cultures. While America is investigating the abuse of Iraqi prisoners … while America is preparing to punish those responsible … while America is apologizing to the families of the prisoners and their countrymen for the actions of a few soldiers, and preparing to pay these families large sums of money .. while America is trying to do the right thing, Arab Muslims are slaughtering an innocent American civilian who’s only crime was he was looking for a job trying to improve the Iraqi communications infrastructure.

This was a terrorist attack. It was an attack by Islamic terrorists, only this time it took five men to kill one American. One American civilian, or 3000 … it’s terrorism all the same.

Will this finally convince you that we are in the midst of a war? It’s a World War. A war being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, on Manhattan Island and the Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. It’s a war being fought in former Soviet republics; a war is being fought on the island of Bali and in the Philippines. This is World War IV — a war against fundamentalist Islamic Jihadists and terrorists. These are the people we are fighting. They are vicious relentless Muslim animals who will not stop killing innocent Americans and who will not abandon their dream of a world dominated by Islam until they are utterly and completely destroyed. These are people without a conscious who believe that the way to redeem their honor is to brutally slaughter innocent human beings, and this they do in the name of their god.

The question may be discomforting, but do these Islamic terrorist fanatics draw encouragement from the constant Democratic attacks on the president and the liberation of the people of Iraq from one of history’s most brutal dictators? How could they not? How could these vicious Islamic bastards not draw comfort from Ted Kennedy’s comparisons of Iraq with Vietnam? These Islamic fanatics know they’re at war. They make no secret of their ambition and intention to destroy America. Do you think they haven’t studied our history? How could they not know that America abandoned Vietnam to communist aggression when the going got particularly rough and when the tide of opinion in America turned against the war. Do they not hear the comparison to Vietnam from a leading American politician as nothing less than a prelude to surrender or withdrawal … a sign of American weakness?

This vicious murder of an American civilian should serve to reignite the American resolve to destroy, not to appease, but to destroy the Islamic Jihadists. Now you show know that playing nice won’t work. While we try to bring to justice the people responsible for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, the Islamic fanatics cut the head off of an innocent American civilian in order to “redeem” their manhood. They’re not men, they’re bugs … and they need to be squashed.

The retaliation for this vicious act must be firm, it must be swift, and it must have a violent finality. These inhuman Muslims must learn that these actions against Americans will not go unanswered … and the answer will have a terrible finality.

Oh … and just where are the Euro-weenies on all of this? Has anyone heard from the French? The Spanish? The Germans? I guess they’re too busy adding up their losses since their buddy Saddam was tossed out on his Baathist butt.

OK … SO LET’S CHECK ON THE MORAL OUTRAGE OF THE ARAB WORLD ….

… and of the Euro-weenies. Oh how loud was their condemnation of the American military for the abuses in the Abu Ghraib prison. For a while there the soldiers who perpetrated these abuses were the focus of all evil. As of last evening there was scarcely a word about this terrorist attack … and make no mistake, it was a terrorist attack … on America. The anti-American British tabloids had little to say. As for the esteemed (not really) Council on American Islamic Relations? Well, let’s all sit back and just wait for the harsh words of condemnation from CAIR. Frankly, they’re probably too busy monitoring the American media, especially radio talk shows, to worry about the atrocities being committed by their fellow Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere.

That was last night … but what about this morning? What about today? Arab television channels, who have no qualms at all about showing bloody images, have yet to show the decapitation of Nick Berg. These television stations had no problem at all repeatedly showing any image they could get their hands on of American soldiers abusing Iraqi pictures … but they just can’t bring themselves to show the brutality of their own people.

WERE THE ANIMALS AL QAEDA?

The Islamic terrorist pigs who cut off Nick Berg’s head claimed Al Qaeda status. Linguistic experts said that they had definite Iraqi accents. Well … since we all know (don’t we?) that there was absolutely no connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda we have to assume that these men came to Iraq after Saddam was overthrown and managed to develop an Iraqi accent. Yeah, you believe that, don’t you?

I think that Neal is expressing the outrage that most people feel, or should feel. I don’t believe that this action makes the abuses at the prison acceptable. Just because you are in prison, you do not deserve inappropriate treatment. Now, I don’t mean that you have to be comfortable, that you have to have a nice time. But there’s a line that was crossed, and it’s going to be hard to figure out what factors call contributed to it being crossed. But the point is that we work to fix the problem. Those responsible for the actions will be investigated and should have the appropriate punishment. I still think that it would be appropriate for Rumsfeld to resign, although not for the same reasons as John Kerry. Where is is statement in support for the troops? Where is his statement on the action today.

Those in the world need to condemn acts like this immediately, swiftly, and strongly. To not do so lets us know on whose side you are - the civilized world or lawlessness.

And we are not looking for rage-fueled revenge. Find those responsible for commiting this crime against Nick Berg and punish them. Find their organizations and smash them and their financing and their holes they hide in. But we do not randomly punish other innocent people in ‘retribution’ for this dastardly act. That’s the difference here.

These ‘men’ who committed this beheading are cowards and criminals. Anyone who defends them is the same.

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A must-read today from Suzanne Fields (
Suzanne Fields : Male humiliation, Muslim rage : 5/10/2004)

Those photographs of Muslim prisoners in an Iraqi prison fuel the rage of Muslims everywhere because they go to the psychology of identity, reinforcing humiliation. Such humiliation is to the Muslim what losing face is to the Chinese, public exposure of the worst kind.

The humiliation felt at Abu Ghraib Prison is rooted in a feeling of Islamic weakness in a region caught in the ebb and flow of aggressive hostility to the West for more than a century.

The roots of Muslim rage, says scholar Bernard Lewis, emanate from a series of humiliating defeats that dramatize how far Muslims have fallen as "heirs of an old, proud, and long dominant civilization." Not only have they failed to revive a rich culture of creativity, Muslims have been diminished by societies they consider to be made up of their inferiors.

In "From Babel to Dragomans," a collection of essays written over four decades, Bernard Lewis interprets the “clash of civilizations” that has brought Muslim society in direct antagonism with the Judeo-Christian West, a clash that grew from disappointment, frustration and debilitating humiliation.

At first, the Muslin response to Western civilization was admiration and a desire to imitate Western success, an earnest attempt to gain equal status. But when Muslim countries were unable to keep up with the West, Muslims transformed failure into bitterness and hatred.

It didn’t start with American support of Israel, but the seeds were sown when five Arab states attacked Israel in 1948 and suffered a humiliating loss to the new state made up of little more than a half million Jews. Arabia tried again in the Six-Day War of 1967, and again in the Yom Kippur War of 1973, all with the same effect. The fact that Israeli women fought valiantly against Arabs in 1948, and contributed to their defeat, intensified the blow to Muslim manhood.

When Muslim men went away to fight to defend the Ottoman Empire during the second decade of the 20th century, Muslim women went to work outside the home out of necessity. But when Arab countries failed to sustain economic, technological and political achievement, the women were first to suffer the reaction. The pride of Muslim manhood demanded it.

The Islamists easily encouraged dissatisfaction, exploiting belief in absolutes of good and evil to fight modernism and secularism. Women, perceived as "dirty," have experienced the brunt of male Muslim chauvinism in their own countries. Being guarded, punished and humiliated by American women in Abu Ghraib Prison challenges the very essence of what it means to be a Muslim man stuck on the lowest rung of the world power hierarchy.

Islam historically has had many faces in the Middle East, some liberal and some conservative, but vulnerability breeds contempt and compels the search for villains. Western values of freedom, as set out in the 20th Century, are perceived by the narrowest readers of the Koran as human perversions rather than expansions of the reach of human possibility.

Freedom of speech and open debate on policy issues are seen as signs of weakness and disunity. Examples of high and low entertainment reflect cultural decadence. The freedom of women is the work of Satan.

With the photographs of American men and women humiliating Iraqi prisoners, Islamists can capitalize on what they call Western hypocrisy. These pictures require no interpreter and become powerful weapons, each one worth considerably more than a thousand words. They are aberrations that can be found in any society, but they feed fanaticism, undermining attempts at reconciliation.

"There is something in the religious culture of Islam which inspired, in even the humblest peasant or peddler, a dignity and a courtesy toward others never exceeded and rarely equaled in other civilizations," writes Bernard Lewis. "And yet, in moments of upheaval and disruption, when the deeper passions are stirred, this dignity and courtesy toward others can give way to an explosive mixture of rage and hatred."

This is what we have been fighting in the War on Terror.

Photographs taken in the very prison where Saddam Hussein tortured his enemies are used to sell the idea that Americans are no better than he was. Nothing could be farther from the truth, of course.

It was our Army that discovered the humiliation at Abu Ghraib Prison, and our media, with its guarantee of freedom of the press, that put them out for the world to see. This is a sign of the strength of Western values, not weakness, and we must make that point over and over, as many times as necessary, to impress it on the consciousness of the world.

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Some of the painful details have emerged as the week as come to a close. "It’s going to get still more terrible, I’m afraid." As was summarized (Rumsfeld Warns of Worse to Come:

He later told reporters, "The American public needs to understand we’re talking about rape and murder here. We’re not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience."

He did not elaborate, but a Senate aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said senators have been told videotapes are believed to exist showing rape and the corpses of what are possibly murder victims. The tapes were described in an additional part of an investigative report. The Pentagon has not yet submitted that additional part of the report to senators, the aide said.

In his appearances, Rumsfeld offered Congress a rare display of public contrition, while continuing to defend the military’s actions and questioning of his critics’ political motivations.

His apology came one day after Bush offered his own regrets. Rumsfeld said the treatment of prisoners was "inconsistent with the values of our nation. It was inconsistent with the teachings of the military … and it was certainly fundamentally un-American."

Today I’ve started to read some of the appologists explanations for the direct participants’ actions. We sent reservists who are not professionals. They were over their head. They were not properly trained. There were too few people to deal with that number of the prisoners. They were not trained to deal with some of the troubled prisoners sent their way. They were under pressure. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I’m sorry but it doesn’t wash. All of those items might indeed be true. But it doesn’t take a class on the legal explanation of the Geneva Convention to know that you don’t put a hood on someone’s head, put a dog collar around their neck, and pose them in various positions while they are naked. It should not require any additional training to impart the idea that rape and murder are unacceptable.

I believe that Donald Rumsfeld is probably sickened as much, if not more, by the actions that have occurred there. This is not a Democrat vs. Republican thing. Sure, plenty of Democrats would like nothing more than to find some reason to chase Rumsfeld and Ashcroft from the administration, but that’s not the point. We must show that this type of abuse will not be tolerated. This these people are not following the stated policy of the US. The entire chain of command that condoned or did not understand these things were happening will have to be removed. Those directly responsible will have to be punished; not a repremand, but prison and dishonorable discharge. And Rumsfeld needs to make the gesture appropriate of a commander, and resign as well.
He knows it’s going to get worse. It’s unfortunate that he has to get caught up by this (perhaps an actual case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time), but something more than an apology is necessary.

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The mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners has been all through the news, as it should. I don’t care to read accounts from miscellaneous people describing the outrage of Arabs in some corner of the world, but rather what is being done to get to the root of the problem and fix it. Many have a good reason for outrage, not because the prisoners were tortured, but because they have a right to expect better behavior of those acting on behalf of the United States. And some of that trust has been betrayed. No, the abuse was not of the same type or nature that Saddam’s henchmen would have inflicted in that prison, but it was abuse nonetheless. In the end, I hope we can reach a point where the culture ensures that it will not happen again.

However, Jim Wooten (Thinking Right: Souter, women, Gore) offers a disturbing idea:

All the outrage about Iraqi prisoner abuse is warranted. No matter the number involved, it is a disturbing breach of military discipline that has to be prosecuted aggressively, as President Bush has promised.

But there’s a deja vu feeling here harking back to the left’s slander in depicting Vietnam as a culture where the American military "raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam" and did so "on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command." Quotes are from John Kerry’s April 1971 U.S. Senate testimony.

This is a time when our troops need our support more than ever. They are doing the toughest job with utmost professionalism. An excellent guest editorial in today’s AJC from a Vietnam war veteran I think tells the story the best, from
Terry L. Garlock : War’s realities make support a necessity (5/7/2004):

Mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners must be dealt with quickly and decisively because of the violation of our principles and the political damage it has caused. But we need to take a deep breath and calm down. Maybe we could use a refresher on the realities of war.

The American people forgot those realities months ago when Lt. Col. Allen West threatened an Iraqi prisoner with his pistol, forced a confession and thereby prevented an attack on his troops. The public was outraged when West was relieved of his command and fined.

West knew his actions could not go unpunished, though he would do it again to protect his troops. I admire West because he knew well the realities of war and took his punishment in a dignified way. Let me explain.

In Shakespeare’s "Julius Caesar," in a rage Marc Antony threatens to "Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war." What Antony meant was that war is like a release of demons in Pandora’s box — uncontrollable murderous mayhem, savage and chaotic, unfair and foul and likely to feed the dark side of its participants. The demons are the worst of human nature, like soldiers indulging their urge for revenge on prisoners.

Because we are civilized, we try to hold back the demons with a strong dose of control, precision and restraint in our practice of war. But when war becomes necessary, however noble the purpose, we will face realities such as these:

  • Good young people will come home in coffins, and every case will be sad.
  • Our soldiers will be captured and used as blackmail bait.
  • We will not be able to predict what the enemy or civilian population will do, and no matter how many scenarios we plan for, we won’t have a crystal ball.
  • Friendly fire will kill some of our troops, no matter how precise our weapons.
  • The troops will complain, sometimes bitterly, but the time to worry will be when they stop griping.
  • Imperfection will abound, such as a short supply of crucial materiel.
  • Confusion and miscommunication will be unavoidable.
  • The news media will focus on small, sensational events and paint a faulty big picture for the public.
  • The enemy will use our media against us with small, violent events meant for television.
  • If unrestrained, troops who are good people may do bad things to prisoners because watching friends die builds a lust for retribution.
  • In every 1,000 troops there will be a few weak or bad apples, and their violations may be even worse.

West knew he was wrong because a commander cannot make a prisoner believe he is about to die in an interrogation. A commander has to lead by showing restraint and demanding restraint from his troops to keep the demon in the box.

A demon got loose. We need to investigate, correct the problem and prosecute the perpetrators. While the Arab world is predictably hysterical, we should keep our head and stand by our troops.

Long ago, the My Lai massacre in Vietnam was a matter of shame for those of us who fought in that war. The demon got loose at My Lai. Even though it was an aberration, a rare exception, the anti-war left used it skillfully to paint us all with the war criminal brush. We have been known since then as baby killers. But we served with honor and courage, just as our troops in Iraq are doing.

As we watch images of Iraqi prisoner mistreatment from the comfort and safety of our living rooms, we should remember who is doing the dirty and dangerous work in Iraq. They need our support and they deserve our belief in them.

So while investigators and prosecutors do their jobs, maybe we should prepare to welcome home our troops with celebrations of their service and sacrifice. Those of us who returned from Vietnam to insults instead of parades are determined that America should never make that mistake again.

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